Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Everywhere around them it looks like dirt covering the walls, such are the hallways of this part of the city. It’s merely old age and centuries of no maintenance whatsoever due to being at the bottom of a considerable ocean for ten thousand years. Still, it doesn’t bode well. None of this bodes well.

They run. The sense of urgency increasing everyone’s pace, but it’s Kenmore’s determined outpacing of them all that catches the Colonel’s attention first. Nope, doesn’t bode well at all. She knows something and isn’t telling them until they get there and she’s making sure to get there first. Sheppard’s earpiece activates with an irritating series of beeps that even without liking or ever actually watching the series, he knows is the sound of the iconic television show’s damn communicator.

“Colonel Sheppard! John,” Carson’s radio voice screams at him.

John taps his earpiece, “We’re coming, Carson! We’re coming!”

The group continues their dead out run to the Infirmary like they’re trying to outrun the city itself. Perhaps they are.

Acting as a guide better than even the maps on the back walls of the transporters, the dirty looking walls of the hallways lead them aesthetically to Atlantis’ Infirmary and straight to the forever open geometric-shaped doorway.

Doctor Carson Beckett anxiously darts out of the stacked block silhouette hole in the Lantean wall. He looks down the hall then up.

“Where are they? Bloody hell, where are they?” He panics.

He darts back into the Infirmary. Almost instantly his bright baby blues catch sight of the second thing that caught his notice when he came to on the cold stone floor. Carson immediately snaps away on his heels and back out into the hall. He’ll pace out here, he feels better pacing out here that way he doesn’t have to look…

“Oh for the love of…,” tears sting his eyes and he chokes.

He stares down at the floor quickly disappearing over and over again underneath his feet as he paces. The sight of the tips of these stupid boots comes into his view repeatedly. Reminding him of when he first woke up. They were all dressed in Star Trek costumes. He’d never call them uniforms and he’d never in a million years call this bloody thing a lab coat. It is far too confining and constricting and just impractical to him. Where are the bloody pockets? How is he supposed to stash away tongue depressors or spare packages of gauze or pens or whatever in a tight fitting coat that has no pockets? And short sleeves. What medical professional wears short sleeves other than the nursing staff? Carson’s fingertips pull agitatedly at the stiff collar lying closer to his throat than he’s ever felt comfortable with from any shirt let alone a lab coat.

“Bloody ridiculous,” he complains, “All of this is bloody ridiculous and now it’s—“ He chokes again, sniffs. He doesn’t know what to do. They’ve got to get here. A man’s life depends on it.

Suddenly he hears multiple boot steps pounding towards him. His grief-stricken face barely holding it together greets them from the main entrance.

“Oh thank God you’re here;” his brogue sounds as though it’s relieved but the lack of change in his face or the tightness of his body beneath the semi-metallic, light blue, Star Trek Original Series doctor’s lab smock belies all of it. He hurries back inside the Infirmary and no one loses pace as they rush in after him.

Until Kenmore and Sheppard almost stagger into each other as they slam to a stop. The others ending their run single-file as they come in. At the far end of the room, Nurse Marie Ko is taking a hysterical Doctor Jennifer Keller out of the room. The large curls of her Marilyn Monroe bounce wildly as Jennifer staggers. Collapsing over and over again in Marie’s arms. Desperately trying to get her feet under her, but too far gone to actually pull it off. John stares at the disturbing display. Marie urgently whispering private comforts to Jennifer as the nurse’s arms try to get the distraught ragdoll body of her superior out of the room. It’s clear that hardcore emotion is rendering the nurse’s attempts at consolation and comfort mute. He’s not sure if Jennifer can even hear Marie over her own wailing. The all light blue outfit’s micro miniskirt swishing and flaring, her black boots slipping and scuffing, as she reaches out for God knows what. Light shining off of the golden chevron-shaped patch and its bright red embroidered cross in the middle of it.

“Christine Chapel,” Sheppard hears Kenmore breathe beside him.

They maintain silence as Marie finally manages to carry Jennifer out of the room, John’s attention shifts.

“What is it, Carson,” he asks quietly.

Tears slip out of Carson’s eyes for an answer with a sniff. John gulps hard as the Scotsman struggles to pull himself together, he gestures off to his left. John looks over at the Ancient medical scanner using the left side wall for a headboard. Systems, functions, panels and screens, and all sorts of other Ancient medical, Sheppard guesses, equipment they’ve never seen before are stationed all over the wall and around the scanners bed and… “Rodney,” John breathes.

The Canadian scientist is unconscious, lying on the waist-high, textured copper bed’s not exactly comfortably plush mattress of light grey vinyl. One of the Earth Expedition’s baby blue-grey knit blankets covering his body all the way up to his neck. There’s a white gauze pad casually laid across his forehead as though a mother put it there to calm the fever of her gently sleeping child. God, he hopes Rodney is sleeping. His face is as serene as if he’s asleep and John’s know that from personal reference from all those hours spent by his friend’s bedside when that damn parasite had given their friend a fast debilitating form of Alzheimer’s. They’d all spent as much of their ‘free time’ then with Rodney. Ate their meals here beside him. Talked to him. Read to him. Tried to hold on to the piece of Rodney McKay that was the man that they knew not the invalid the parasite was forcing him to become. John remembers when he’d taken even the slightest selfish moment to sleep an hour or two in his own bed and a terrified-out-of-his-mind Rodney had ran screaming for him through the hallways of Atlantis to John’s very door. After that, John spent every moment of sleep by Rodney’s bed, watching one of the few friends he has in life sleep and being there every time McKay’s eyes opened. Just like the last vestiges of their Rodney wanted him to be. But, but this doesn’t feel like Rodney simply sleeping to John. Jennifer wouldn’t have reacted like that if Rodney were just sleeping. Carson wouldn’t be like this if it is just sleep.

John slowly approaches the scanner bed, a vile sense of dread pulling at his gut again and churning the bile as it had when Jennifer had given them Rodney’s prognosis. Then Rodney had been asleep in one of the standard medical beds, the last time John had come up to this Ancient contraption this way, it had been for Elizabeth. In the quick blink of an eye, it all comes flooding back to him. It usually does though. His memories of Elizabeth are always so close to the surface, have been ever since… The reflection of every single light in the confined area of the medical wing bouncing off the clear plastic walls of the vinyl ‘containment’ zone around the Ancient scanner with Elizabeth lying on the bed inside of it, away from them. Dark. The room had been dark then, unlike now. But still, he’d approached then and stood guard by her side… as he’s doing now for Rodney.

“What’s wrong with him,” Richard asks grimly behind him. John senses determination in the man’s undertone, the determination to find out what the Hell is going on with his people and fix it at all costs.

“I, I,” Carson tries to begin and his throat catches again, he coughs then sniffs a second time and that seems to do the trick enough. For the moment. At least, “I don’t know how it’s possible…” Words fail him once more, but for a different reason this time as he stares down at his friend. What he wouldn’t give to hear Rodney exasperating him at this very moment, belittling him for being such a ‘baby’ about the situation and how crying isn’t going to solve a single thing so Carson can just pull himself together and get to work. Rodney, in his own way, has a strong feel for leadership, a strong gift for it, maybe not sympathy per say, but leadership nonetheless. But Carson doesn’t know where to begin in all this other than pull himself together. Okay, he’s managed that, but now what? How to explain why Rodney’s here? Carson Beckett doesn’t even understand it himself and yet every piece of medical equipment in here both Ancient and Earth-made have told him it’s true. And Carson can’t fix it. He honestly doesn’t know how to. It is literally beyond him.

Ursula Kenmore comes up past Woolsey and beside Sheppard, her eyes riveted by the bright green laser light grid band scrolling down over McKay’s head all the way to his feet then up then starting its full body scan over. Diligently making continuous scans and transmitting the constantly updating information to the displays all around it. With each step closer her entire body vibrates that much more. Her breathing quickening that much more. Shaking that much more. Eyes the color of mahogany wood stain zoned intensely in on the man on the bed. Suddenly she explodes.

What the Hell were you thinking?!

Sheppard pulls her away as she lunges at Rodney’s bed.

You moron!” She roars. Fighting in Sheppard’s arms. “You idiot! How could you do this?! How dare you do this!

“What is it? What has he done?” John shouts over her. He can feel her trembling in his arms. Seething. She strains against him. His boots slip with the fight in her to get at McKay. He readjusts his footing and holds her tighter. Clamping his arms wrapped around her chest. Pinning her to him.

Then one of her hands touches his forearm… then the other; her touch is light, gentle, considerably shaky. He can feel her body easing against him as her hands softly hold onto his forearms over her. He keeps his tight hold on her, taking into account her shaking in distress, and leans his lips next to her ear. Normally for him this would be a come on, but…

“What is it,” he asks again at regular volume.

A ragged breath shudders through her whole body, again that’d be the response he was hoping for from one of his come ons, but… “His brain is gone,” she whispers.

John’s mind blacks out for a moment. He didn’t hear that. He did not hear that. But Ursula’s transfixed by the sight of Rodney. Sheppard turns his gray-green eyes there as well. It’s worst than last time. They’ve already lost him. He didn’t slip away from them slowly over the course of days and weeks. He was stolen while they were all unconscious for—John feels it’s finally okay to let go of Kenmore, she’s not going to collapse under the strain of herself. But he might. As his arms loosen then fall lower down to his sides, the Army Lieutenant slowly walks over to Rodney McKay’s bedside.

“His brain?” Woolsey repeats astounded. He can’t believe it, but his eyes find Carson Beckett nodding at him.

“She’s right,” Carson confirms, he takes a deep breath, “Rodney’s brain has been completely removed, surgically. Every nerve ending has been neatly sealed. Nothing ripped, nothing torn, no bleeding whatsoever. This is as professional and clean a job as I could ever possibly dream of any surgical operation as advanced as this being from what I can tell.”

Teyla joins Lieutenant Kenmore by Rodney’s side, “How is he still alive,” she breathes, “If his brain is missing, then Rodney should be dead… or dying, should he not?” She swallows the words. It is not as if they have not been in these circumstances with Rodney before, but this feels much worse… more grave… much more… No, she refuses to go there. However, what remains to be true is that this situation is much more than they have ever been through with him before. They have watched him slip away from them before, moment by moment. Day by day as a parasite in his brain grew and grew and deteriorated more and more of the man they knew as Rodney McKay, as it stole their friend’s mind away from him and them as well. The possibility of Ascension genuinely did take him away from their embrace for a moment before his last thoughts transmitted to Carson saved his own life. But this time he has already left them it seems.

“It’s a bloody medical miracle he’s not,” Carson tells her.

Her attention snaps to Carson. A ‘miracle’? All of a sudden there’s a light in darkness and it’s as though she can see Rodney’s face in its blossoming glow.

“Look,” he points at the main Ancient screen embedded in a hidden alcove of wall right next to the scanner’s main unit floating above the bed, “From what I can tell, that is what that and,” he gestures at the menagerie of other Ancient screens all over the place, “all these other medical systems I’ve never seen before are doing. All of it is life-support as best as I can tell. Every single one is making sure his body is still functioning, autonomically speaking. But there is absolutely no mind there at all, nothing. And I mean that. These scans show his… his skull, but no brain. The cav…,” he has to take a breath, he’s losing it again. He closes his eyes and muscles through it, “The cavity is completely empty,” he opens his eyes, “Whoever, whatever it is that makes Rodney the man that we know is not there anymore.” There it’s said. Out loud.

John feels the tremble threaten him. Feels it hackle the thin black hairs of his arms and the back of his neck. In typical fashion, John Sheppard swallows hard.

Ronon glares at Kenmore’s back. “Who did this,” he demands.

The Lieutenant doesn’t hear him, starts whispering to herself as she looks down at Rodney’s body, “I can’t believe you. I know you, it… how could you be so stupid?”

She reaches for the bulge of blanket that she thinks is Rodney’s hand. Ronon rushes forward, yanks her around to face him. How dare she accuse McKay? Teyla reacts. Latching onto her friend’s bulging bicep.

“Ronon,” the Athosian gasps.

Now he’s the one that’s gone deaf to the voices of others. Ronon Dex seethes at Ursula Kenmore. Every fiber of his body tense and every bit the visual definition of intimidation, but he’s not getting the frightened reaction out of her he wants. He can see it in her brown eyes. Her mind is someplace else.

“The woman,” Sheppard suddenly speaks up.

Teyla looks at him, “What woman?”

“It’s, it’s in the episode,” Kenmore finally finds her voice again, finds the here and now for the moment; Sheppard’s snapped something loose in her, “She, uh,” Ursula blinks hard, trying to get more of herself back, “she, she comes aboard the Enterprise and knocks everyone out then takes Spock’s brain. When we started up the holoroom…”

Sheppard swallows hard, nodding. When they started up the holoroom and the episode started playing, Rodney took on the role of Spock. Holy crap, she’s right. This might actually be Rodney’s fault. The man’s own arrogance and absolute demand to have to be the one who pushes the button, whatever the button is, has lead him to do the dumbest thing he’s ever done in this galaxy. Instead of blowing up a solar system, Rodney McKay’s gone and taken out his own brain. Jesus Christ, Rodney.

Ronon stares at her. She’s the one who knows what’s going on. She’s the one with all the answers. A dark reflex in him clenches his grip on Kenmore without him even realizing he’s doing it, he was raised better than that by his mother and grandmother and Melena. Ursula winces and Sheppard steps in. The gold velour clad Lieutenant Colonel grips Dex’s wrist with the same swift retaliation that he had when Ronon first sparred with Teyla, got the drop on her, and literally dropped her with unadulterated ferocity onto the mat floor right in front of Sheppard. It freaked John out then, it still gets to him now. Anything like it will always get to him.

“Let her go, Ronon,” Sheppard orders.

Ronon turns the dark look at his Commander. And right now, ‘Commander’ is all he’s seeing the man as. Flickers of staring down Kell flit over Sheppard’s image in front of his eyes.

Sheppard’s face sets. The normally semi-soft lines of his face assuming a sharper edge just like his attitude, his breathing shallowing in his chest, and his eyes becoming greyer than usual. “Let her go, Ronon,” then Sheppard reluctantly adds, “She’s right, he did it to himself.”

“But she—“

“It was his choice!” John snaps the words he didn’t want to say. “Do you really think it makes me happy to say this! Do you really think I’d pick her over him!”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Ronon shouts back.

“Ronon,” Teyla hisses. She has known the thoughts and feelings that have been brewing in her Satedan friend for quite some time now and she has believed for equally as long that they needed to be dealt with between the two men, it has to be dealt with between them, but now is not the time and especially not the place. Not in front of Rodney. Not while his life may still be saved if they can simply pull together as the team that should be. Did not the Lieutenant prove how inept they have become? Did they not personally vow to prove their inadequate display during their training session an uncommon occurrence best left to the past? At least Teyla had made that personal vow.

There’s a tense standoff between the two men. The divide that’s been fissured then cracked between them showing itself to be far larger than either had suspected but felt it to be. Dark eyes versus light ones. Where do they go from here? Does the divide force one away from Atlantis or force an uncomfortable submission that will create a chasm in the team and the friendship that might never be healed? John and Ronon stand their ground in the face of each other and dare the other to make the first move.

Woolsey clears his throat, “What happens next in the episode,” he calmly asks her.

The Lieutenant wriggles in the grim Specialist’s grasp… then has to pry the Satedan’s unyielding fingers off her biceps.

“Uh, um, we, uh, we have to find her. Rodney only has twenty-four hours.”

They stare at her.

“Twenty-four,” Teyla breathes, “So short a time?” She can’t believe it. How can they possibly, possibly hope to accomplish such a task in so little time? They have nothing to lead them except a mysterious woman that only John, Ronon, and the Lieutenant saw and by their accounts the woman was a hologram, a manifestation of an illusion. A story incarnate. How can they go around chasing a figment of their imagination?

Carson nods regrettably, careful to not look at his unconscious friend, “Aye, she’s right, Teyla.”

Teyla Emmagan’s eyes return to Rodney. Such very, very grave circumstances.

“How do we find her?” John turns to Kenmore, happy to look somewhere other than Ronon and focus on something real besides the two men’s personal issues with each other. That can wait. Right now, it’s Rodney. But he sees Kenmore’s face pinch, pain, he reads the bad news in her eyes before she answers him.

“Kirk takes the Enterprise and uses the ship’s sensors to track her ship’s trail back to her home system. Back to her home planet.”

Sheppard and Woolsey shut their eyes. That explains her heartbreak and rage at McKay. The weight of the situation keeps getting heavier and heavier. “We can’t do that, there wasn’t any actual ship. There’s no ‘trail’ to follow anywhere,” John finishes the thought for her.

“And we do not have the power resources for Atlantis to lift off again let alone wander aimlessly around space to find Doctor McKay’s brain,” Richard finishes for John.

Ursula shuts her mouth, part of her teeth sneaking beneath her pursed lips to bite the lower one. Gloom settles around the group, the room doesn’t have to be as dark as it was with Elizabeth for it to be felt just as acutely. Ursula turns her head and looks back down at Rodney again. Ronon Dex’s eyes turn to his downed friend too. Old memories from Sateda rise from the shadows of his mind’s depths, Ronon’s seen that look of calm before with a bandage over a man’s head and a blanket pulled smooth up to his chin. Usually the next thing to happen is to pull the blanket the rest of the way over the man’s face and let his body find some further peace in the repose of death. They’ve almost lost McKay plenty of times before. Even though his brain is gone, they’re not going to lose him this time either. He’s lost too many friends already. He’s not pulling a blanket over Rodney’s face. He’s not and no one else is going to either. He discovered in his four years in Atlantis that there’s always room for another ‘almost’.

It’s leader time, Richard Woolsey regains both himself and command of the situation, “What do you recommend, Lieutenant?”

“You can’t defer to her,” Ronon tells him, “She knew this was going to happen and she didn’t do anything about it. You can’t—“

Richard’s eyes lock with Ronon’s, “Do you know STAR TREK’s Original Series?”

Ronon grits his teeth, hating that the man has a point.

When Richard finds a bitter and reluctant ‘No’ in the Satedan’s demeanor, Richard’s eyes return to Kenmore’s, “She does. Look at her.”

They do.

“She has the information we need. I’m not playing favorites, Ronon, I’m deferring to the only person here with any answers of any kind to any of the innumerable possible questions that might come up. Now, what do you recommend, Lieutenant Kenmore?”

She looks at the eyes looking at her, to her. Woolsey’s. Sheppard’s. Dex’s. Emmagan’s. Beckett’s… She turns her head and looks down again, McKay’s closed lids. He needs her. None of them had any clue this was going to happen. Not the foggiest. But Woolsey’s right, two of them know the episode: Rodney and Ursula. She pulls herself together and faces her Expedition Commander, “It may sound weird, but the first thing I recommend is that you get everyone in Atlantis who’s a Trekkie especially if they love this episode in Operations as quickly as possible.”

Woolsey nods, “That’s sounds like a good place to start. We’ll return to Operations as well,” Richard gestures towards the Infirmary’s entrance.

“Why there,” Sheppard asks.

“Because it’s a better place to start looking for Doctor McKay’s brain than here.”

No one makes a move of any kind for the constantly open doorway.

“And I’d rather not crowd Doctor Beckett’s efforts,” he adds.

“That’d be a blessing,” Carson nods, “I’ll stay here and keep an eye on…,” he looks over at Rodney. Everyone does. It’s so strange to be in a crisis especially one inside the city itself and not hear Rodney’s voice, for him to be silent. It’s disconcerting. Disorienting really. He never slept on the job, never took a moment down although he always threatened to and tried to occasionally, but no, not genuinely. Rodney was the go-to man and he never let it be said that someone else would save the day over him. He’s indispensable that way. “On all of this equipment and Rodney,” the tenderhearted Scotsman finishes quietly.

“I think that’s for the best, Doctor Beckett. Keep us apprised of his status.”

Carson nods and Woolsey leads Sheppard and the rest his top team out of Atlantis’s Infirmary.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Four

Chapter Four

There’s a slight scent of salt in the gentle, sun soaked breeze as cool ocean water laps lazily against the solid walls of the naquadah piers. The snowflake shape of the city of Atlantis sits idly on the semi-smooth surface of the softly rippling ocean. No sounds of life from inside. If it were Christmas Eve, the phrasing might include a reference to a lack of mice. Nothing. All is dim, all is calm. Too quiet. Too…

It’s still far darker than usual. The main lights still offline. The only things still active are the stark minimal lights of the computer consoles and the large, rectangular, dangling Ancient glass monitors; the mimicked imagery of water rapidly streaming down the glass surface as though it’s raining rivulets of effervescent light. Redundant information, relaying countless of systems shifted to the abnormal joint status of ‘standby’, dripping down the screens over and over again. There’s a distinct haunted house vibe. Bodies lying on the floor… or sprawled over the steps up to the upper deck… or strewn over railings… or over computer stations. Truly, the only thing missing from the All Hallow’s Eve scenario is copious amounts of blood and spooky music most likely coming from the ‘piano’ designed Ancient computer consoles playing themselves. Somehow chamber music courtesy of a massive gloomy pipe organ bolted to the floor and walls, draped in cobwebs, and under lit by tall candelabras standing sentinel on behalf of the looming Baroque monolith seems completely in line too.

Suddenly a hum surges through the room. An unsettling audible shudder that’s as much heard as it had been felt when the lost city first rose from her ocean depths courses throughout her substantial infrastructure. But there’s no city-wide jolt as Atlantis reawakens from her nap. No need to rise. The lights stutter back to life. Minimally, like usual in Atlantis’ Operations Center.

The random sprawling of bodies start coming to. Immediately everyone notices that something’s different. Very different. They’re all wearing STAR TREK Original Series uniforms for a start, gender specific with either colored shirts paired with black pants at ¾-length and tall black boots for the male personnel of the Expedition or same colored micro mini-skirt dresses teamed with black sheer nylons and those same tall black boots for the females of the Expedition. A few of the awakening women’s hairstyles have changed to be more appropriate with their outfits and the time period the garments reflect, up-dos or thick curls or overly ornate bouffants. A few of the men’s hairstyles have suffered from retro shock as well, looking like something the suits would sport on MadMen. It’s all very surreal in a geeky sense.

Sheppard pushes himself up from the warm rather than the usually chilly marble floor and notices the obvious difference on himself. It’s not hard to miss. Let alone are his sleeves unrolled, which rankles him beyond words which is why he always keeps them rolled up unless he’s wearing the bomber-style jacket or his leather one that some of their missions will occasionally allow or call for, but that his sleeves also are so not the fabric that they’re supposed to be. It’s God awful velour, damn it, and not black either. Mustard yellow, he’s wearing mustard yellow! Bearing the expression of someone working their mouth really trying hard not to vomit, John pushes himself up further into a sitting position. He keeps his eyes closed and takes a few preemptively calming breaths… or a few more than that before he forces himself to open his eyes and look down at the rest of himself. Yep, John Sheppard’s dressed in that ridiculous getup of mustard gold velour shirt, black pants that stop halfway down his calf, and—John rolls his eyes, Oh for the love of… and shiny, black leather, definitely-not-military-issue-combat-style boots that begin an inch and a half below his knees and go all the way down to culminate in heels. Cool grey-green blinks a few times, but there’s no doubting what they’re seeing on his feet or what he’s feeling of his feet. Heels, not super high inches, but still it’s way more height than his beloved combat boots. Gees. He can’t take it anymore. John has to look somewhere, anywhere else. So back to the shirt then. There’s a gold and black patch like Kenmore’s on his chest over his heart that catches his grateful attention. Movement near him takes the distraction ball and runs with it. His sight jumps to the men and women around him and he’s not sure whether to be so pissed he can’t speak or be so shocked he can’t speak. Either way, John can’t believe he and everyone else in the city have been dragged into McKay and Kenmore’s playtime. This is way out of order and even more out of control. Alright, he’s pulling the plug on all of this just as soon as he can find the damn plug. Looking at the others, out of nowhere another astounding and horrific thought suddenly occurs to him. Instantly John’s hand reaches up and pats his hair—he breathes a sigh of relief. Yep. Still messy and tousled. Exactly the way he likes it and exactly the way he keeps it, as infuriatingly laissez faire to his superior officers and his father as his personal attitude. Just right for him. Okay, so there’s at least one part of this whole stupid business that isn’t making him feel like he wants to ring some necks or kick McKay’s ass for. Again John looks around himself—fully realizing for the first time where he is. Before he can say it, Ronon does.

“How did we get up here?”

John looks back at where his friend should have been if they were still in the hologram room. But he’s not there. John angles his torso to look around a nearby console behind him and finally spots Ronon picking himself up off the floor of the upper deck on the other side of the small room, using one of the computer consoles as leverage. Sheppard duly noting that his tall, gruff alien friend is wearing a red uniform. There’s a different symbol on the patch on his broad muscular chest, but at least his hair hasn’t changed either although Sheppard can’t rightly recall if he’d ever heard about dreadlocks in STAR TREK and to be honest, not knowing a damn thing about this old television show, he’s not sure if he could handle seeing his close friend with any other hairstyle. Not to mention that, thankfully, no one gets to find out how Ronon’d react to seeing himself with a Beatles pageboy haircut or whatever else the city could have possibly had in store for him with the‘60s and this show as reference material. Sheppard smiles to himself, he doesn’t even want to imagine that. Although a few passing glimpses of the possibilities flashing through his mind makes him chuckle a little to himself.

Nearby, Expedition Commander Richard Woolsey comes to and gets to his feet. Almost immediately the man startles at his appearance, but maintains tight control over his personal thoughts getting loose from his mouth. Instead the man tugs down on the bottom hem of his mustard yellow shirt, striving to get his trademark crisp uniform appearance back. The frown on the former attorney’s face is a dead giveaway on his feelings about waking up to find himself this way though. Sheppard’s expression quirks as his mind registers that Woolsey’s wearing the same outfit he is. The same chest patch, the same braiding detail around his cuffs, everything, and—John Sheppard stares off to Woolsey’s right at the woman’s whose just picking herself up off the floor. Holy…

Teyla Emmagan is Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. Short, stunningly smooth, raven hair styled elegantly in the ‘60s motif with a crown of large beautiful curls directly atop her head and the rest of the lustrous straight locks following the shape of her head in an asymmetrical bob cut. Teyla’s normally parted bangs fully cover her forehead to the wonderful shape of a widely degreed ‘V’. The front edge of the bob coming as two strips of hair framing her face more closely, their twin tips ending at a fantastic angle supporting her jawline. All of it making her the picture of classic screen legend beauty. Big, bangle, bright green, loop earrings provide stark contrast and definitely bring the first impression attention to her face. And that tight fitting red mini-dress. The black extremely sheer nylons lending a mahogany tone to her long dancer’s legs ending in a pair of the sexy, black leather, knee-high heeled boots. Below her jawline making an unabashed bid for notice as well.

Wow, John breathes. Everyone stares at her as her daze of whatever it was that knocked all of them out lifts and she realizes that she’s not in the room she had been when she’d been knocked out… and that every pair of eyes in the new room are on her. Not just staring, gawking. Gaping.

Confused, the beautiful Athosian woman looks down at herself. A gasp escapes Teyla’s mouth as she gapes at the revealing and somewhat seductive seeming clothing now covering her body. It is a clear departure from the traveling clothes she had been wearing as she had packed for a trading excursion on behalf of her people. Gone is her comfortable Athosian gray vest top with the green floral pattern that has become one of her favorites to wear for its lace up front and back. Gone as well are her pants, the brown leather ones with the black stretchable back panels. They have always been a comfortable fit and wear for her longer journeys and the Stargate on the world she is going to is a good deal’s walk away from the village she is seeking to do business with. And where is her dark red leather vest? The one with the brown shoulder straps and snap front closures? She always wears it with this—well, that outfit. Or the accompanying dark green long-sleeved half-shirt with the high collar kept closed by two large metal buttons? Another of her favorite clothing items that she normally wears with this—that arrangement of her apparel. Both items are meant to keep her warm on the rather coolly temperatured planet she was going to be on within the hour, it is experiencing it is autumn season. It is why she had chosen the whole ensemble—Her coat, where is my coat?! Her, her treasured brown leather trenchcoat with the snap closures and hook and eye closures, the one with the lace-up back and lush fur on the collar and cuffs. She looks down at the short, short skirt and the single band of gold braiding and remembers the handful of ornamental buttons on her beloved long, warm coat along with leather stripes with similar pairs of buttons on the sleeves. The coat has been a treasure of hers ever since it was the same coat and the same outfit she had been wearing when she had discovered her people missing, a bitter and terrifying memory for sure, but later she found out while recovering from that distressing mission that she was carrying Torren. And that was a shining moment in her life for two reasons very dear to her: a connection to Kanaan and her people while they were lost to her and she from them, and her first child. She had always kept the hope and wish of someday becoming a mother to herself and Charin, although she often remembered her mother Tagan smiling at her and telling Teyla that she would make a great mother someday. Teyla found it difficult to admit her feelings back then, her doubts about raising children in the dangers of their world and lives. Raising children to live in fear of the Wraith, always moving their settlement to keep the cullings constantly at something of disadvantage. She’d found her youth, especially after the Wraith took her father, to be a scary one and she did not want that for any of her children. In truth, it had kept her from wanting children as much as she wished and dreamed to. But fate and her feelings for Kanaan had changed everything. Changed her mind and given her the family she had dreamed for and Atlantis had given her the semblance of freedom from the fear of the Wraith that she had wanted for her children.

Her eyes following down the length of her body to—Why are there black boots on her feet rather than the dark forest green ones she had been wearing? Everything upon her body continues to astound her. New surprises on every part of her frame. Her arm supporting her lean shifts a little and something bounces against her cheek. She touches it. She feels something cold, metal, and round. An earring, her dark shapely eyebrows pinch, Teyla Emmagan does not wear earrings. Even more confused than before, her hands find her ears… then reach up further to feel her hair—Teyla’s mouth drops agape. My hair! What has happened to my hair?! It is short. Far too short. Teyla hates short hair. She had it short when she was a child, her father’s choice for her and despite her love for him, she had no love for short hair at all. And it is in a cut and style that is entirely unfamiliar to her. She looks around the room and all the faces continuing to ogle her, “What is going on,” she asks.

Mouth hanging open and eyes wide with shock, one of the nearby Operations technicians points to a nearby dangling Ancient monitor. Teyla’s eyes quirk at him. He nods and keeps pointing. Teyla gets to her feet and makes her way over to the indicated screen and finally gets a look at herself in its reflective surface. A sharp gasp escapes her as she staggers back. Her hands covering her mouth. Espresso eyes wide with awe. She cannot form words. Cannot think of any. She looks back at the faces still as shocked as she is looking back at her. She searches their faces till she finds the one she knows she can trust in any situation she feels completely out of her depth in. Her dark eyes lock with John Sheppard’s.

Richard Woolsey looks down at himself as well, “What am I wearing,” he asks. The Administrator looks around the room again, “What are we all wearing?” His eyes zero in on Sheppard without the single bit of humor at the situation that the former attorney has woken up to find himself in, “Colonel, what is going on here?” He demands.

John doesn’t have an answer, but he knows who to blame… and she’s getting to her feet right in front of him. Kenmore. It throws him for a moment that her outfit isn’t gold anymore. The light blue is even more becoming on her than the gold was although. The Lieutenant may look just as dazed and confused as the rest of them, but he’s not going to let her ‘play’ her way out of this one. Sheppard rushes over to her, grabs her violently by the biceps, and jolts her attention away from their new Operations environment to his face. He leans in close to her, bears down on her. Face to face. She’s open-mouthed, taken aback, but Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard sure as hell isn’t.

“What did you do?” He snaps at her. “What’s going on?”

“I, I, I don’t know,” she stammers unusually, “We should still be in the… I have absolutely no idea what’s going on,” she turns her head, her eyes darting to the surprise environment all around her. The Operations Center? We shouldn’t be in here. What… what… The Bridge, we were on the bridge of the Enterprise and then that chick showed up and she did what she was supposed to, but… “We should still be in the hologram room. It should have kept us in the hologram room. I… uh…” Words fail her as her eyes and head dart from direction to direction. Thing to thing. Her mouth keeps moving, trying to form words. Trying to process what’s going on, but she keeps coming up short. Sounds come out of her mouth instead of partially formed words. She pants. Lost, she’s lost.

Sheppard grits his teeth. Damn it, he can’t decide whether or not she’s playing him. Is this more acting? More playing pretend in the magical world of ‘60s sci-fi? Is she being real with him? He genuinely can’t tell. Before he can say anything more to Kenmore.

“Colonel, what the hell is going on,” Woolsey demands of him again. There’s a biting edge to his tone of voice that cuts into Sheppard’s thoughts. A stern quality that’s not going to give the Colonel any leeway for an answer. No smartassing.

Reluctantly Sheppard lets the Lieutenant go and turns to his Expedition Commander, “Rodney and Kenmore—“

“The holodeck?” Radek Zelenka interrupts, astonished.

Everyone looks over at him standing behind where Teyla had come to on the upper deck. His red Starfleet uniform looking extremely odd on him considering that his Atlantis uniform is normally blue for science; ironically, just like in Star Trek.

“You knew about this?” Sheppard can’t believe his ears. He’s never known the Czech scientist to be so irresponsible. Rodney, yes, the man blew up a huge majority of a solar system once, and Kenmore, yes, definitely, he doesn’t know where to begin with how irresponsible in his opinion he’s seen her be on missions. But not Radek, never him. If anything, the man’s the gold standard of behavior around here.

Radek nods, “I cleared for the use of the naquadah generator myself, Colonel.”

“What,” John’s staggered.

Woolsey admits his part in all of this also, “Doctor McKay was very convincing on the matter. Are you saying that that is what this is all about?” When Sheppard’s eyes look over at the Lieutenant yet again, Woolsey catches on. He turns his stern gaze to her as well, “I thought you’re mechanical adjustments were sound?”

“They were,” Zelenka jumps in quickly to defend her, “Let alone had Rodney checked them, but I had as well. Everything was indeed sound.”

“Something got knocked loose. She had to put it back in,” Sheppard tells them with a gesture towards Kenmore.

“It hadn’t fallen out. It was still plugged in, all I had to do was push it in a little harder.”

“And you never thought in a million years that that would have anything to do with—,” John begins at her.

“No, that is too insignificant a circumstance,” Radek tells him while wracking his brain for a plausible answer and a loosened connection is not it, “Even if it were disconnected or loose, the Lieutenant knows exactly where to put it back into and ensuring the connection’s stability would not have caused anything amiss. No, the machinations were sound. This is something else. What has happened here is something considerably more substantial.”

“Rodney, do you—,” Sheppard looks… then looks… then looks around again. He’s not seeing him anywhere. “Where’s Rodney,” he asks. They’ve all woken up in here, why hasn’t McKay? What made him so damn special? Spock, the simulation they’d programmed the room to run had already included Rodney as Spock before they’d gotten knocked out by that woman. Not that he thinks of it, where’s the woman? Other personnel look around and under equipment, some of them had come to somewhat underneath their stations, except for one.

It hits Ursula, “Oh no.”

Sheppard snaps to her, “What?”

Suddenly a woman’s piercing scream comes from somewhere in the city. Everyone looks in the direction that leads out of Ops into the rest of the city. The members of Atlantis’ flagship team and Richard Woolsey race out of the room, down the short flight of stairs, across the landing, up the other short flight of stairs, and into the hallway that leads them into the rest of the city.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Three

Chapter Three

The four of them find themselves on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise… Kirk’s Enterprise… The original Enterprise… This time everyone marvels at their surroundings from the round room’s light grey walls trimmed in a thin band of red to its domed ceiling wonderful in its quintessentially U.F.O. similar shape with the bulge of the unidentified flying object being a transparent dome showing the beauty of star dazzled black space. Rodney’s blue eyes analyze the finer details of the single band of frosty white lighting illuminating the transparent dome’s perimeter with a natural seeming haze of saturated light. Not unlike the aura of an angel’s halo entrancing illuminating the whole bridge with that wondrous daytime light, assisted and complimented by the additional overhead lighting of the lower part of the ceiling directly stretching over the expanse of the bridge’s upper deck. Two rings of light.

All around them the Red Alert klaxon sounds at regular intervals and it’s light panels flash their signature color over and over, as McKay expected it to be, with foreboding music unmistakably indicating danger playing to the ignorant notice of all present except the four Lanteans. The resolute crew of people that had suddenly appeared in front of them dressed similarly to Rodney and Kenmore in either light blue or red or that mustard gold and every single one of them diligently working. Attentive to their stations and the task at hand rather than the main viewscreen taking up a large portion of the forward wall of the bridge. Such is the duties of the crew to relay the utmost accurate information to each other whenever they need to report or respond, they know that there are other crewmen whose duties require their focus on the main viewscreen let alone the Captain’s attention. On the large central display like a truly impressively sized television in a Man Cave is an image of space with a tiny little silver dot of something at the center of it.

Captain Kirk, standing in front of the front row of navigational stations sharing the platform his command chair presides from, turns beside Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu and returns to the main seat of his command. As he does so, there are a few of his astute crew that do turn their attentions with tense bodies to the screen as they work. Sulu orders his station’s viewer to come out of its concealed location on the upper left side of his console to receive his comrade’s data streams to his station, the angular and bulky device rising to an easy height for him to deviate to for that further information on their mysterious dot. Kirk maintains watch of the screen with a confident almost swashbuckling suave hero air.

The dot’s details become more refined on the screen as it comes closer on the viewer. Coalescing into a center round shape with five round attachments equally spaced around it. The whole thing shining steely gray and reminding a few of the Lanteans of the shape of a childishly drawn bubble flower. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard’s eyes narrow at the strange object, trying to figure out what the hell it is. It can’t possibly be a ship, can it? More likely a probe of some sort considering its small size. Unmanned, has to be. There’s no way a person could fit in something that small or that round. It’d be like trying to stuff yourself into a front load spin dryer. Actually, now that he thinks of it, there have been grown adult people found stuffed into spin dryers. Usually dead, but now that he thinks of it, there have been people who’ve been stuffed into something like that before. And that interior round of space might be about the same size as the air vent that slender Radek Zelenka managed to fit himself in at John’s ordering when Atlantis’ quarantine protocols glitched on their then new planet during that fourth of year of the Expedition. Not to mention that even Kenmore, not as slender and loaded down with full gear on top of her less than slender physique, cramming herself into another one of the air vent shafts as well to take out Teyla during their recent training exercise… Okay, so it might be a single-manned spacecraft. He keeps his eyes on the forward screen like Kirk, waiting to see what’s going to happen next from the apparently unknown approacher.

Beside him, Ronon shifts uncomfortably and John can tell that his friend is getting overly edgy with all the alerts screeching and the flashing red lights and the obvious fact that no one seems to be actually getting up and doing anything about any of it. No rushing around. No weapons out and at the ready. No one being deployed to ‘battle stations’ of any sort; although he’d hate to tell his big Satedan buddy that that call has already been given and these are the ‘battle stations’. Nope, not anything of what he and Ronon are used to. Just a lot of pushing buttons, flipping switches, and looking at screens big, small, and medium which would be what those in the Operations Center are used to, but not them. John can sympathize and evidently so can Kirk. The Enterprise’s Captain gets up from his seat again and resorts to standing around again. He moves over to join another man standing on the bridge’s surrounding upper deck. Scotty, if John remembers correctly, which he doubts since he never really watched this show. It was too nerdy for him even as a child. But still, he’s pretty sure that’s Scotty standing by the Captain’s side.

Kirk moves again. Coming forward to the front of the navigation stations with the sure stride of Ship’s Captain especially one that’s seen battle before. Okay, so maybe Sheppard doesn’t mind anymore being called ‘Captain Kirk’… sometimes. As Kirk passes across his subordinates’ view, the navigation bridge crew reports right on unspoken cue.

“Phaser banks standing by, Sir,” Sulu states in his deep purring that is as distinct a voice as the penetrating baritone of James Earl Jones.

“Range forty three thousand and closing,” Chekov adds. His thick accent not distorting the English pronunciations… yet.

Kirk’s eyes stay on the image on the viewscreen as he walks by them then ends by turning away from it as he comes over to the railing and addresses… Rodney!

“What do you read, Mister Spock,” the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise asks the rather appropriately dressed Theoretical Astrophysicist.

Rodney doesn’t answer. He… What? He looks to his fellow Trekkie beside him for help and finds her mahogany brown eyes at as much a loss as his are. He looks to Sheppard and Ronon further behind her, but neither of them know what to do in this case for a moment. For once in Rodney’s life, the man doesn’t honestly know what to do. He knew that this whole thing’d been set up as an interactive holodeck, but for some reason he’d really hadn’t thought that it’d be this interactive, this inclusive.

Kirk’s stern eyes stay focused on Rodney, however, and the Captain of the Ship repeats himself, “What do you read, Mister Spock?”

Again the group of outsiders remain silent then Ursula suddenly snaps her fingers the same way Rodney does when he’s gotten a solution to whatever fix they’re in. She quickly leans over to Rodney with a mischievous and giddy smile on her face, “Play along, McKay,” she whispers excitedly at him.

He looks at her again. She makes shooing gestures at him, ushering him towards the singular station they abruptly appeared on the bridge not far from. Rodney’s eyes follow her direction and arrives at his own ‘Aha’ moment.

“Oh, right,” he gets it. Eyebrows rising as he realizes that her shooing was the Lieutenant’s way of trying to get him to play along. That is what they’d originally come here to do, isn’t it? He’d just, he never…

Rodney McKay goes the few steps over to Commander Spock’s science station while Captain Kirk parallels his movements every step of the way out of the corner of Rodney’s eyes. Something else distracts him though. McKay stops in front of the place that’s been his adolescent heart’s desire for practically all of his life. All of a sudden the Canadian is a child again as he takes a moment of silent, thrilled-beyond-words geek reverence before taking his place on the bridge of the original NCC-1701 U.S.S. Enterprise in that specific chair. It’s all right there. At his fingertips. All the lights and knobs, switches and buttons, displays, screens. He marvels at it all. Oh my God, he breathes and means it. You could ask anyone and everyone who’s ever known him or just heard about him whether or not Rodney McKay is a religious man and they’d all say an emphatic if not laughable ‘No’. Yet, if you asked his sister Jeannie about his love bordering on worship of Star Trek and especially Commander Spock’s station, now that would get you an emphatic and laughable ‘Yes’. Slowly he reaches for those mesmerizing controls, but as soon as he gets his hands on the combination of cool metal surface and warm lit controls, he quickly gets down to business. And after a few moments, Acting Commander Spock, Doctor Meredith Rodney McKay turns to Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Kirk turns as well and both men look at the screen dramatically.

Rodney knows these lines by heart, this is his favorite episode after all, “Configuration unidentified. Ion propulsion, high velocity, though of a unique technology,” he announces. Taking extra care not to put particular emphasis on ‘unique’, such a natural vocal turn of phrase would be emotionally based. Spock wouldn’t do that. Raise an eyebrow, yes; unnaturally accent a word, no.

Captain Kirk moves on to Lieutenant Uhura and the episodic play moves on as it should.

Kenmore rushes over to McKay as Uhura tells her superior officer that’s she’s trying to contact the ‘ship’ in every way she can but she’s not getting any responses so she’s switching to new tactics, Kirk approves.

Kenmore and McKay hear it as background noise.

“Did you see that,” the Canadian scientist excitedly whispers at her, mindful that he is now considered part of the episode and he can’t really talk to her out loud lest Captain Kirk or the rest of the bridge crew start looking at him funny and call him out on it. He’s not entirely sure that would actually happen, but with something this interactive, he’s not totally sure it wouldn’t either.

Ursula’s head bounces up and down, nodding emphatically, “It really is working like a holodeck. We’re actually incorporated into the episode, well, you are. I’m not. Yet.”

He nods giddily back. Both are kids in an even bigger candy store, Willy Wonka eat your heart out.

Suddenly Kirk’s back. Right on the upper deck right beside Rodney’s station. “Life forms, Mister Spock,” he orders quickly of McKay.

Rodney subtly shoos Kenmore away from him under the guise of rising to look into his own viewer, I’m looking into Spock’s viewer. My viewer! Oh my God! This is really happening! Resuming his role while the Lieutenant, still yet to be assigned a part in the episode, casually makes her way down to stand by Kirk’s Captain’s chair. No one pays her any attention or heeds her presence in any way. She doesn’t mind, she marvels to touch the contours of the notorious seat’s arms. The intercom with its controls. The Yellow Alert button. The Red Alert button. The infamous Jettison Pod button that had played such a key role in Kirk’s trial for the ‘death’ of an old friend and crewman under Kirk’s command. Court-martial, she remembers, Ben Finney, Jamie Finney. Her eyes shift and there’s the other arm’s Shuttle Operations controls, the Viewscreen activator, and the assortment of hailing frequencies. Then her attention moves to the seat itself. Panels of smooth, matte gloss black leather framed nicely by polished wood handles. Stunning. Her thoughts sparkle at what’s beneath her gentle touch. Simply stunning. She’d heard that a life-size recreation of Kirk’s chair was in the works for limited edition collector’s distribution… and she’d also heard that the thing was going to cost a pretty penny too. While out of her price range, the collector’s item to be couldn’t possibly compare to actually being in the presence of the real thing. Well, it wasn’t actually the set piece from the Paramount lot, but it’s the next best thing as far as she’s concerned. Ursula can touch it, feel it, it’s real beneath her touch.

Sheppard and Ronon look on boredly.

“One. Humanoid or similar. Low level of activity. Life-support systems functioning. Interior atmosphere,” Rodney straightens up from his viewer and looks at the screen for a moment before flitting his eyes to Kirk, “conventional nitrogen-oxygen.”

A part of his station beside him beeps. Okay, this’ll require some more work. Rodney takes his seat again as he answers the alarm, pushing buttons exactly the way and sequence, important that, that he remembered Spock doing.

“Instruments indicate a transferal beam emanating from the area of the humanoid life form,” Rodney returns his eyes to the magnified image of the ship on the viewscreen.

Kirk, on alert, looks around behind him too, “Directed at what?”

“Directed at the bridge of the Enterprise, Captain.”

This jumps Kirk to action. But still, it’s just snapping orders and moving from one place to another.

Ronon can feel the yawn brewing at the back of his jaws, he leans over to Sheppard, “If all they’re going to do is talk about the ship on the screen and not do anything about it, do we really have to stay here and watch them play this dumb thing?” The Satedan asks. This is definitely not his idea of entertainment. There isn’t even any fighting. And no one is even yelling orders, they’re just saying them. There’s no sense of danger here whatsoever.

Sheppard’s about to agree with his friend and suggest they go hit the Mess for a snack before figuring out what they’re going to do on their ‘Sunday’, Ronon’ll probably pick going to the gym for some sparring that will inevitably end up with one of them going to the Infirmary for some medical attention from Doc Keller paired with yet another scolding from her about playing nicer with each other if not for their own physical sakes than he frustration with them’s sake while John will put forward the option of going to the balcony driving range that the golf loving members, him chief among them, scraped together, when an odd sound goes off and an incredibly hot woman appears shrouded in green light. John’s mouth pauses mid-open. Everyone, not just Sheppard and Ronon, are riveted by her unexpected arrival. She’s in an even skimpier outfit than Kenmore. It rates as skimpier than Kenmore’s dress ever thought of being in John Sheppard’s book in fact and that’s sayin’ something ‘cause that’s really skimpy.

The whole bridge comes to a standstill as the green light brightens her silhouette then fades away to reveal how she really looks. Her long, dark brown hair elegantly framing her Old Hollywood regal face. It’s bumped up at the top mildly to draw all the attention to her face, and that’s a hard thing to do considering her scantily clad, absolutely perfectly svelte figure demands a lot of first notice. Especially from men.

“Well, maybe we could stick around a little bit longer,” Sheppard says with a lopsided smile. Ronon nods.

Even in tacky metallic Crayola purple violet, John’s not sure he’d consider that a top but if it is here then When in Rome…, and a really, really short skirt of light pink and dark pink zebra print with a sash-like accent of that metallic purple again and it’s all accompanied by thigh high boots with garter belt-like overlays of that same metallic purple, the woman is a stunner. Her enigmatic smile is invitingly dazzling. So much so that John finds himself smiling right back at her despite the fact that he doesn’t know if she can see him. Frankly he doesn’t care. He’s kind of befuddled by the face with the natural beauty makeup on, he’s never seen or met anyone like this in the Pegasus before.

“I’m Captain James Kirk,” Kirk introduces himself to the woman and John notices the man is incredibly cautious, “This is the Starship Enterprise.” It’s extraordinary to the Lieutenant Colonel given the fictional character’s reputation as quite the lady’s man. John would have pegged the man to start putting the Moves on her immediately.

The woman’s eyes turn away from the Captain’s formal introduction and it’s quickly explained why. Via there distinct pneumatic hiss of the twin red doors on the far side of the upper deck from the Atlantis group opening, two men in red uniforms come out from the turboelevator with weapons already drawn. Still the epitome of serene beauty, the intruder woman brings up her arm and touches her bracelet, John hadn’t noticed that part of her outfit before.

There’s a weird boing sound. The bridge’s lights go dark. Everyone’s bodies seize awkwardly. All of them… Rodney… Kenmore… Sheppard… Ronon. Every single person collapses in heaps onto the floor. The light’s come back on then go dark again. Then back on then off again.

The woman turns her Stepford grin towards the upper deck and touches her bracelet again. The boing sounds again…

The Operations Center suddenly goes darker than it usually is for a moment… then back to their regular luminosity… then back to the abnormal darkness again. Confused expressions look around the room.

“What was that sound,” Richard Woolsey asks, “Where is it coming from?”

His eyes find Chuck sitting at his DHD console, Campbell shakes his head. Richard searches the other faces in the room. Brows are furrowed or pinched, their flummoxed like he is and looking back at him for the same guidance he was trying to get from them. No one has an answer.

The weird sound happens again. Everyone in the Operations Center and the Gateroom below collapse. Elegant heaps every one of them, abruptly caught in a unified moment of silent seizure. Some of the personnel are caught in mid turn as though they’d felt a hand touch their shoulders from behind and they were simply looking back to see who it was when their mental lights were turned out along with their location’s lights. Some are caught without any sense of something else occurring other than the oddity of strobing lights and crumple to the rust-colored marble flooring with its round thin bands of silver in the most direct manner possible. Just straight doubling over then their bent legs finally giving out and depositing them on the ground with merely a lucky hand happening to help break their falls and push them into a roll over onto their backs. A few are caught blindsided as though they were in the process of waiting and got pushed over from the side. Their arms flailing upwards then their arms and their bodies dropping in melodramatic theatrics to the floor. Something pulls at Richard Woolsey’s gut. He curls into himself. His body taught against the sudden unseen vise gripping his midsection. But he’s knees sell him out. He collapses back into a nearby chair. Richard tries to continue to fight his fall, this pain, but Woolsey’s body eases only when he finally passes out. Slumping against the chair’s side, his hand reaching out and getting one last tense grip on the seat’s station to no avail.

Beds, beds, beds, everywhere the eye can see. And empty for the most part, thank God. A nice and incredibly pleasant breather from Atlantis’ own personal form of normalcy, but there’s caution here. The Lost City of Atlantis’ sense of normalcy is dull almost mind numbing stretches of absolutely nothing medically extensive happening other than some cold or flu medicine or allergy medications being administered to personnel abruptly shattered by near horrendous, practically cataclysmic medical emergencies that call every single doctor and nurse not to mention anyone else nearby with a useful set of hands and an obedient mind to the action they’ve spent years of schooling preparing for. The peaceful tranquility of patina green walls with textured copper trimming, Frank Lloyd Wright-ish doorways, sconces of layers of oddly stacked geometric shapes as well as the chiclet sconces composed of naquadah put to an aesthetically pleasing use in here, all of this could be thrown into utter chaos. Blood and gauze wrappers and other hurriedly torn open and just as quickly discarded wrappers will cover the rust-colored marble floors and those beds, currently the images of hospital perfection with their white linens and green-grey or taupe knitted blankets covering their bottom halves, will be so messed up by writhing wounded that it’ll be hard to ever imagine that they’d been this nice looking before the crisis or will be ever again. Freshly laundered, puffy pillows will be flattened or soaked in fresh blood as well as flattened. Intravenous poles at the standby will be pulled into service along with all manner of other medical equipment, both Earth-made and Ancient-made. The metal shelving units stationed against the walls here and there around the room will be practically picked bare by a sudden flash flood of medical personnel rushing to the aid of their numerous, out-of-the-blue patients. Doctor Carson Beckett sighs at the look of it all, such is the life of the Lost City of the Ancients. Such is the life of, ironically, home.

A weird boing sound catches everyone’s attentions. Doctor Jennifer Keller and her staff and few patients look around at the ceiling where the city-wide speakers are hidden. Confusing, those aren’t the usual alarms signaling incoming casualties or already in-house ones from some unknown or unfelt disaster occurring in one of the city’s many labs or farthest reaches of pier. You know, the typical ‘experiments gone wrong’ thing.

Surprisingly the Infirmary’s lights go out then they come back on again then go out again. That’s odd. They’ve never done that before either. Jennifer’s years, starting on number three now, as the Ancient cityship’s Chief Medical Officer has given her the knowledge that there are secondary backups along with two further levels of redundancies to prevent something like that from happening specifically in the Infirmary as well as the Operations Center unless the most extreme case of Atlantis’ main power grid itself being disrupted is happening. It’s taken five years of a special group of scientists and engineers working on specifically that ever since the Atlantis Expedition originally reestablished contact with Earth. No one ever wanted to lose someone in the Infirmary because the lights went out. She starts to reach up for her earpiece when every person in the area seizes. Some as if in immeasurable agony, staggering around as they lose control of their bodies for some unknown reason before collapsing to the floor in heaps. Others simply curl in on themselves as though suddenly struck by an unexplainable urge to fall deeply asleep right where they stand. The last thing Jennifer hears before she goes down is someone dropping a tray of supplies somewhere behind her. Was it Marie, perhaps?

All is silence… blissful… quiet… comforting. In the dark of the NCC-1701 Enterprise’s bridge, the intruder woman surveys her handiwork with the same dazzling smile unwaveringly upon her face. She steps to her right and begins to casually stroll her way around the upper deck, looking here and there. Marveling at the fallen as she makes her way over to the duo of light grey steps, steps down them, and sets the soles of her metallic purple-covered, barely half an inch tall heeled boots on the dark grey flooring of the lower deck’s main well.

Her hand caresses the bright red railing while she continues her stroll. She slows a bit, her hand quickly abandoning the railing, as she nears the command chair. Her seemingly permanent smile dims it’s brightness a little as she glances down to make sure that Captain Kirk, passed out half out of and slumped over one of the arms of his prominent chair, is most assuredly out. He is as the rest of his crew around her and she moves on. Her fingers and palm softly glide along the top of the chair’s backrest as she continues her journey… right over to Rodney collapsed over onto the railing of his side of the upper deck of the bridge. His knees and the rest of his legs on the floor helping the railing to prop his unconscious form up.

Once again the beguiling smile falters into a look of worshipful anticipation. Eagerly she puts her hand gently on his head. An excited grin bursts across her face, plumping the round apples of her cheeks, and relieved exhilaration causing her chest to rise and fall heavily as she gazes down at Doctor Rodney McKay’s unconscious form lying beneath her firm, certain hand.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Two

Chapter Two

This holoroom is one of the farthest from the city center. With an aesthetic pretty much an exact copy of that of the conference room that they hold their mission briefings and debriefings in without a large table taking up the center of the room both rectangularly and semi-circularly speaking, the room still seems just as small as the conference room does even though there’s far less in it. Despite the platform dais with accompanying control podium, the room doesn’t seem quite as nice and secretive, almost cozy as the conference room or some of the other holorooms. The awkwardness makes it feel more confining. Like a cage. The four of them walk into the room. Rodney and Kenmore walking right over to the torn up podium with some other torn up thing hooked into and a—

“You took a generator for your play time!” Sheppard explodes. Pissed is his primary emotion. He’s absolutely shocked that Rodney McKay would do something or allow something as incredibly stupid as this. Wasteful too. So God damn wasteful!

“Borrowed,” Kenmore tells him in that same ‘This isn’t a big deal, why are you making it a big deal?’ tone of voice.

“You can’t ‘borrow’ these things,” the Colonel turns on her sharply, “It’s not like after you use them, you’re going to get the power back in them for others to use later. I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. How could you—”

“I signed off on it,” McKay interrupts, his own tone a sing-song.

John’s eyes bulge at him. Thrown, his mind blanks for a couple of heartbeats. But he’ll be damned if he lets them see any more of that than they already have. Cheeks trembling with the tics running through them, John Sheppard’s body turns to Rodney McKay, “That doesn’t help that you’re going along with her.”

His grey-green eyes look over the mess of technology. There’s wires, both Earth-made and Ancient, stretching from the Ancient device to the Earthly one. And circuit boards. And Ancient crystal slats. And… and it’s just a mess. Like a child took apart the vacuum to figure out how the household item works but got bored with the idea and simply left a giant mess strewn across half the room for their Mom to clean up. Perfect. More for Zelenka.

“… her… What the hell is all of this anyway,” Sheppard gestures at the podium.

“Part of the playing,” Kenmore tells him.

John feels his temper rising again, he’d be surprised if his cheeks weren’t burning red by now. John takes a moment, standing there with a hand on his hip and the other forming a fist out in front of him. His eyes closed to the sight, a few deep breaths to make sure he doesn’t send both of these kids to their rooms for the rest of the day without dinner or dessert or expel them for the rest of the school year. He unclenches his fist and opens his eyes, “You cannot go around the city tearing things up and, and—“

“I rigged my PlayStation 2 into it,” she informs him since he seems to be searching for the correct details.

“And rigging—wait, what? Your PlayStation?” He looks at her.

“Two,” Kenmore nods, happily holding up the count with her fingers for him to see as well as hear.

Sheppard stares at her for a moment, Really? Are you insane?, then goes on, appealing to who might be the more reasonable of the two, “What I’m saying is that you cannot go around the city tearing up things period. You don’t know what you’re doing—“

“Actually, yes, she does,” McKay interrupts again with a telltale reluctance that tells John he’s serious.

“Really?” Sheppard finds that hard to believe. Both of McKay and Kenmore have been trying to cover each other’s asses from the beginning in this. ‘No, no reason.’ ‘Nothing.’ Bull.

But Rodney nods.

Sheppard looks at Kenmore, seeing her in a whole new light—and Ronon blows a fuse.

“Stop messing with crap!”

All eyes turn to the Satedan.

“No,” Kenmore says.

Their eyes turn to her.

“Did you not hear me?” The Satedan steps up to her.

“I heard you. It’s just going to take a lot more than tall, dark, and surly to get me to do anything I don’t wanna do.” She abruptly turns to Rodney, physically cutting off Ronon from any quick reply with happy bouncing on the balls of her feet, barely subdued giddiness filling every part of her body, “So, what’d ya’ pick?”

Rodney holds up the DVD with a smirk, “Madame, prepare to be surprised,” the Canadian genius tells her triumphantly. Once again, Doctor Rodney McKay holding court the way only he does even if it’s only over a few people.

As far as John can tell, there’s nothing to be smirking about. The disc is all unadorned silvery coloring like usual. There’s an extremely small band of white with even tinier black script on it and another tiny white band with more thin black script lining the two inner circles of the DVD, but Kenmore squeals. Stamping with delight. Hands clasped tightly in front of her chest like a cheerleader excited to get the home crowd going. Her giddiness unleashed.

Sheppard and Ronon watch her like she’s a freak, they’ve never seen her act like this before. They know she’s childish, they’ve seen that Kenmore, but they’ve never seen her act like one seeing what Santa brought on Christmas morning; that reminds John, Christmas is coming up soon. Equally excited to be playing Santa, Rodney goes over to the torn up PlayStation 2 console like a king—scratch that, an Emperor approaching his prized awaiting throne. He reaches down and presses the somewhat disguised slender button on the far right side of the PlayStation 2 Slim. He can feel the slightly raised pale green inking of its labeling symbols that show that this is the power button and the Earth device turns on. The light on the gaming console switching color from red to green. The blue memory card glowing brilliant blue on the left side. Instantly McKay snaps straight up. He and Kenmore look around… and around… and around… and…

“Why isn’t anything happening,” she asks, “I don’t understand, something should be happening. It did when you and Zelenka were messing with that other podium that led you all to that Dorane guy.”

John gulps at the memory, he should have never went to Elizabeth with Rodney about going to that place. He should have waited until they had gone through the Ancient database for everything they could scour about that place and then left it the hell alone. He should have, he should have done a lot of things different on that mission. A lot of things.

“I don’t know,” Rodney’s voice answers over John’s silent ruminations, “None of the holoprojectors on the walls are activating. They should be, they’re fine. I checked them out while you were changing. Everything’s fine, they should be working, but… they’re not.”

Ursula looks over at him, “Did you knock something loose when you were messing around in the control podium?” She asks with a somewhat Mommy-ish current to her tone at him.

Rodney glares at her, “When I was messing in there? Excuse me, but—“

The Lieutenant automatically rolls her eyes and starts getting down on her hands and knees. Always, always a woman has to do it because a guy is just so convinced he did it perfectly and then the moment it goes wrong, it’s the chick’s fault even though he wouldn’t let her touch the damn thing for the past God knows how many minutes because he’s decided that all of a sudden it’s a ‘man thing’ even though it was the woman who came up with the bloody idea and put the damn thing together in the first place. Ursula sticks her head into the podium. Her dark eyes searching every facet in front of her face for anything even slightly amiss. Even a whisper of something being slightly askew could be exactly what the problem is. Of course McKay would miss a whisper, he doesn’t whisper at all anytime anywhere. Sometimes she’d like to stun him on missions just for the sake of not blowing their cover, but she always stops herself no matter how great and alluring the temptation to switch aims, target his back, and pull the trigger. Let alone would the sound of the stunner, either her zat or the Wraith stun pistol she’d picked up on her first mission in this galaxy, make enough sound to blow their cover in the right circumstance, but she doubts dragging around Rodney’s unconscious ‘dead’ weight would be much of a difference to lugging around his conscious and yammering ‘dead’ weight.

Rodney was about to open his mouth to say something else when she got down, but now he’s been stumped speechless as have Sheppard and Ronon as they witness her skirt’s back slit splitting open to frame her butt nicely. Simultaneously thoroughly exposing her black brief panties for all to see. All three men stare at the… John never realized before that it’s a heart, her butt when she bends over is the shape of a largely endowed heart—

“Quit staring at my ass,” her voice snaps at them from inside the podium.

Sheppard snaps his jaw shut straight away and immediately looks at the opposite side of the room. Analyzing it’s ordinary features that are quintessentially Lantean. How really Frank Lloyd Wright with a healthy dose of Art Nouveau in an all autumnal colors motif. Seriously, the resounding splash of bright teal just makes the rust-colored copper and the rust-colored marble pop. God, he sounds like an idiot even to himself and he knows he sounds like an idiot because he sounds as frankly mind-numbing as the first woman he’d tried to date after his divorce was finalized. He’d met her in an art gallery that reminded him of Nancy because his newly ex-wife loved galleries and couldn’t help herself throughout their marriage dragging him into each and every one she could find. John hadn’t minded it all that much with Nancy, a left over from his childhood. His Mom felt very strongly about John and Dave getting a well rounded education including her favorite worldly subject: Art. To this day, galleries still remind him of both Nancy and his Mother. Anyways, the woman had been really, really good looking and… well, John was hard up for something other than loneliness by that point; there are times when that still rings true. Normally on leave, personnel go back to their families, but he didn’t have that anymore… he didn’t have any family anymore since his wife’d left him. So he made a play for the bucksome grad student seeking her Master’s in Modern Art and he spent hour after grueling hour pretending to listen to her go on and on about how wonderful the pieces in the gallery were, he thought they were absolutely boring and utterly ridiculous… at the end of it, he didn’t invite her back to his hotel room and he hadn’t gone back to her apartment either. John senses his eyes stray a little too close to getting a peripheral view of the young Lieutenant’s rear again. Sheppard snaps them to a different direction again, trying desperately to recover from the moment of unadulterated ogling at his junior officer’s butt as best as he can and make it look like he hadn’t been gawking at his fifth team member’s behind in the first place. Although it’s actually the second time he’s been ogling her derrière in that outfit today. He catches Ronon looking up at the ceiling out of the corner of his eye, trying to play like he’d been ignoring Kenmore’s butt the entire time as well. As if the visual and physical overcompensating wasn’t enough, they suddenly start spouting claims that they hadn’t been gaping at all.

“I, I, I wasn’t,” Sheppard tries to tell her, suddenly riveted by the wall meeting the ceiling above the fan-design door. Thankfully he quiets his own mind by not distracting himself with mental anecdotes on the artiness of the architecture again.

“Me, me neither,” Ronon stammeringly seconds, suddenly dipping his head to scratch an imaginary itch at the back of the left side of his head and averting his eyes towards the door.

“What ass,” McKay says while looking at the podium’s console, not exactly far from ogling Kenmore’s butt.

Sheppard and Ronon look at their friend. You did not just say that? Like she’s really going to believe that. She knew her butt was out in the air, if anything she undoubtedly felt the draft abruptly goosing her. That and she knows human men. Despite her youth, she’s not inexperienced in the world. She’s been married before and she’s a female soldier in ‘This Man’s Army’. Her ample behind right in front of some guys on long deployment is like dangling a pacifier in front of an orally fixated infant. There’s definitely rapt ogling and drooling and a mind completely devoid of any thoughts other than musings on what’s gotten their attention. And she knows that when she snaps at those men to keep their eyes someplace else, the oglers don’t admit that they were ogling her goodies. They play it off. Act cool about it. Not say ‘What ass’. John rolls his eyes before he closes them as he bows his head and pinches the bridge of his nose between his fingers. He lets out a deep sigh, “Rodney.”

Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore goes through every connection and either jiggles it to see if it’s secure or shoving what’s already plugged in in just a bit harder to make sure everything is tip-top. She comes to her last plug. Okay, this is the last one before she’ll have to flip over onto her back and start examining the ones on the podium’s topside. That’ll give the boys a thrill. Instead of her exposed bent over butt, they’ll catch sight of something ‘shocking’ and she’s not thinking about her stockings. Please, God, let this work. She gives the connection a push and all at once the half of the room on the other side of the podium goes black all the way up to the ceiling. A royal blue cloud forms and starts swirling at its center. Four tiny orbs of blue, green, pink, and red light lazily rotate on the cloud’s outskirts like the casually strolling electrons of an atom. A piercing buzzing, hissing sound as though something high-pitched is being sucked away from them fills the room to a thunderous boom that sounds like someone’s slammed their hands down on the keyboard of a piano. Discordant and disconcerting. Everyone jumps at the booming sound of the opening menu of the PlayStation 2 gaming system. Ursula hits her head on the bottom interior of the podium. Ow, shit. Forgot about that part.

Demure white letters spelling out ‘Sony Computer Entertainment’ hold quiet court across the middle of the cloud as Kenmore crawls back out of the podium. The freezing, sucking sound takes over the room again accompanied by an underscore that’s reminiscent of the imagery of stars falling while the blue cloud suddenly spreads like it’s flying to the outer stretches of the black frame taking up half of the room. Its colorful orbs spiral away beyond the reaches of the black as the blue cloud expands itself out of existence, half of the room going entirely black. Ursula gets back up on her feet again and dusts herself off to be presentable again as she steps back beside Rodney. Sheppard and Ronon come forward to complete the lineup of gaping in awe at the colorful orbs abruptly returning with companion orbs the colors of yellow and orange.

The four humans watch the now six ‘electrons’ of light come together and orbit each other. All changing color to a shade of blue so pale it’s more like tinted white. The lights orbit themselves into a perfectly round circle then continue to loop and orbit each other, occasionally breaking into trios of three somehow or just three simple balls with wispy streaks of light trailing behind them to show the path they’ve traced before starting their fascinating little ‘dance’ all over again. Words appear beside them, two actually. The top word says ‘Browser’ in light blue and the bottom phrase says ‘System Configuration’ in steel gray. Crowning the very bottom of the frame of black are more words paired with symbols. On the left side is an encircled lavender ‘X’ with the partner of ‘Enter’ written in white and on the right is an encircled light green triangle with ‘Version’ written in white beside it.

“So how does this work exactly,” John’s suddenly thinking that this might not be quite such a bad idea, “I’m not seeing a controller anywhere.” If this works, then their ‘Sundays’ off around here just got a lot more fun. A hell of a lot more fun. Hopefully John doesn’t have to keep entertaining himself when his own room is driving him crazy anymore by playing golf games on one of Rodney’s computers or driving golf balls into the alien drink all for hours on end.

“I made it voice activated like how using the teacher program in the main holoroom is by having that part of the programming deferring to the podium for those sorts of commands rather than it’s own routine programming,” Rodney tells him while still being utterly riveted by the display. He’d never before realized how pretty and kind of inspiring the menu on this thing was. Or is it just that this might be the first indication that there’s an incredible possibility here for what he’s been dreaming of since he was a kid?

Kenmore looks over at the theoretical astrophysicist, “‘You made it’,” she repeats.

McKay waves her off, “Yeah, yeah, you helped too.”

She cops an attitude at him, scoffing, as McKay steps up to the torn apart Earth device, conveniently ignoring her. He presses the open/close button. The PlayStation obeys, flipping up the lid of its disc hub. Quickly he puts his DVD onto the circular indent in the hub then pushes the lid back down onto the PlayStation 2 Slim’s console.

The sound of ocean waves lapping engulfs the room and is momentarily disrupted by a whoop then a sort of ‘access granted’ higher pitched happy and breathy ha sound as the holoimage dims. It becomes silvery gray with a single larger bright white orb floating upwards from the bottom to the top and the center of frame bearing lighter gray script telling them that the gaming system/hologram control podium is ‘Reading disc…’ with an encircled pink circle teamed with the word ‘Back’ at the bottom. Their wait isn’t too long before a beautiful navy blue CD-shape highlighted with that larger white orb appears in the middle of that half of the room. The four pairs of eyes light on the dark gray ‘PS2’ in the upper left corner and across from it in the upper right corner is the phrase ‘PlayStation’ followed by its trademark symbol and ‘DISC’ in bright yellow. Further commands take up the usual spots at the bottom of the frame, this time a trio. First is an encircled lavender ‘X’ with ‘Enter’, secondly a circled pink circle with ‘Back’ next to ‘Enter’s right, and even further to the right is an encircled light green triangle with ‘CD Playback’.

“Enter,” Rodney commands loudly and clearly. He shifts weight from foot to foot. While this had been initially pretty, he’d also apparently forgotten how excruciatingly long the startup process could be when the disc didn’t get read right away and the system had to process it by doing the system startup first then read the disc from there and then, and only then, finally start the disc’s start up. Eons, doing it this way takes eons.

Half of the room fades into darkness again as the orb flees the blue CD-shape and heads to the right of the frame, not making it in time before that half of the room goes completely black. Kenmore looks over at the others and somehow Sheppard seems to sense her movement and look over at her too, their confused and amazed eyes meet and neither knows what to say to each other. McKay and Dex keep staring at the holoprojected half of the room.

Then an airy sound fills the room as the hologram side of the room turns dark silvery gray with a grid highlighted by light gray dots. A swath of bright red light swings from the right side to the left where it’s joined by another swish of bright blue that begins where the red’s journey ends. The blue glides upward from the bottom left corner up to the upper right corner, turning purple along its way as the red dims out of existence. A golden swath glides over the top of the purple swish as its course takes it from the middle of the right side of the frame to the upper left corner. It’s a beautiful light display against the dismal, industrial hued background. Light blue ethereal smoke flows up from the bottom right side corner and that immediately curves and overwhelms the right side of the frame with its suddenly illuminating brightness. The swathes of bright color diminish as the brilliant light blue erupts across the frame in waves like a tempestuous ocean. Then individual bands of varying sizes and colors ranging from purple to gold to pink to pale gray striate the blooming globe. It develops more, the grid disappears into darkness and the striations become background accoutrements. The pale blue undulates in the torrent sea that it is and shining silver shapes loom into view from the frame’s left side, gleaming white in the shine of unseen light. At first it’s unclear what the steely monstrosity is, but more of it comes into view and three of them suddenly realize that it’s the landmasses of Earth. Like a planetary ring, a ghostly ribbon of bright green light cuts across the axis of Earth at an angle. The globe becomes smaller, fading into the background as the landmasses start to take up their usual global positions and navy blue brightens the space behind the planet. The red and blue-to-purple swathes return to portray planetary rings that encircle Mother Earth. Even they change color to the same silver steel of the continents.

“Oh for the love of—please just start the damn thing,” Rodney begs the ceiling.

In answer to his out loud beseeching, the planet becomes smaller and the silver swathes rotate into the parallel twin shapes of the round form of an eye’s lids. The airy, breezy sounds becoming the twinkling tickle of a piano. Suddenly there’s a boom of orchestral music as the Earth is abruptly covered by a lens of steel grey to be the iris of the eye shape. The eye gets it’s own frame of thin strips of silver as black fills the surroundings and a light gray bracket appears at the bottom with the words ‘CBS DVD’ in gray on it. The navy background setting off the monochromatic logo nicely with a bright white ‘TM’ trademark stamp beside the bottom of the logo to boot. As the orchestra boom dissipates into more breezy sounds again, the grey wording darkens to black. Everything goes quiet. Everything fades to black.

“Wow,” Kenmore breathes, “Who would ever guess that this part of a DVD could actually be kind of cool?”

Sheppard fights the urge to point out that anything would seem cool if it was a hell of a lot bigger than you in an especially confining space and had booming acoustics to go with it.

A disclaimer appears. Rather anticlimactic compared to what came before it. It’s just black background with white block lettering detailing all the ways they can break the law and be punished for pirating, etc. Rodney sighs again, “Blah, blah, blah. Can we move on?”

Thankfully the monotony gets replaced by gold static covering the black wordless background and there’s the distinct sound of… well, it’s hard to describe, but it sounds the way glitter looks like when it’s falling along with this sort of harsh whir at the core of it. Suddenly the gold glittering surrounds them. Engulfs them as it fills up the entire room. The sound becomes an intense, high pitch prickling overwhelming their ears. Just as they’re about to cover their ears, the glittering ebbs away from around them. Some familiar ’60s-ish music tells two of the group all too well exactly what they’re heading for, what they’ve been hoping for.

And the group of four find themselves in the transporter room of the old Original Series Enterprise.

Everywhere they look is definitely not Lantean architecture or Ancient design aesthetic whatsoever. Ahead of them, up on the transporter deck stand four people, not them, frozen in a single pose. Almost like a snapshot of each and every one of them.

At the far back is a beautiful woman wearing a mini-dress just as short as Kenmore’s. Perhaps shorter. The woman’s dress is colored predominantly grey, but on narrower observation it’s actually a textured gold with an undercurrent of black and it’s teamed with a section of pink also with an undercurrent of black on her left side. The pink part ends in long black tasseled fringe. There’s also a thick black belt cinching the woman’s slim, svelte waist nicely. Again sheer, black nylons but with much taller, thigh-high, black leather boots in a more buccaneer style than either Kenmore’s or Rodney’s. And her hair is dark and down. Unlike Kenmore’s, it’s simply styled and flowing in large waves down behind her shoulders. In every way a seductive ‘60s Bridgette Bardot bombshell style. Boy, Star Trek really liked its women enticing in all the popular physical ways for its time. The alien in the woman distinctly shows in her eyebrows angling sharply upward with Cleopatra-style eye makeup framing her dark intriguing eyes nicely. Hints of pink blush dapple the apples of her cheeks and the bubble gum pink lipstick on her lips that would normally look childish on any female over twelve years of age, but lends her overall appearance, pointy ears and all, an air of femininity and sex appeal that’s as palpable as her evident militaristic carriage. John kinda hopes that they’ll get to meet her.

Next closer to the front is a little boy, maybe twelve years old or close to that age. Still clearly a background player, he looks like he’s fallen on the ground on his butt in a state of shock and perhaps anger. Outrage? His short cut ginger hair providing stark contrast to his lanky form clad in a shirt and pants horizontally striped in olive green and light royal blue with a navy blue band of fabric for a belt and shiny black, leather boots on his feet. Normally in fashionable terms, horizontal stripes make a person look wider than they actually are, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for this boy. If anything, it looks like he’s trying to look beefier than he is by wearing them and that only makes him seem even thinner and lankier than he probably really is. His pale skin and extremely slim frame give off the sentiment that he’s like an even smaller child putting on one of those puffy super hero costumes that already come with the musculature quilted in. Yep, outrage. He tried to play himself off as big and bad and got tossed on his butt like the obnoxious and underweight in more ways than one little kid he is.

Then there’s the foreground players sharing the frontline spotlight. On the left is Captain Kirk dressed in some sort of ridiculously cheap Indian Halloween costume with bright yellow ‘war paint’ on his cheeks. Even worse is the ridiculous looking headband with a round beaded medallion thing positioned directly over his forehead. What’s the cherry topper on the terrible sundae? How board straight and stoic he’s standing. Peter Pan says ‘How’; clearly ‘political correctness’ had no place in the late ‘60s. Please God don’t let that be whatever story Rodney picked. Please God. Please.

On the right is the infamous Mister Spock in an olive drab jumpsuit over his black mock turtleneck, standing robotically stock still with some sort of ‘headset’ on his head. It looks like the world’s most ill-fitting, scraped-together-from-random-stuff lying-around headphones ever. John’s not sure what to make of that one, there’s not much to go on. His eyes turn to his Trekked out teammates.

It’s been an overwhelming amount of stuff coming at them since they turned the PlayStation 2 Slim/hologram control console podium hybridization of machinery on. Kenmore and Rodney immediately look around themselves, marveling at everything they’re seeing like the only kids allowed to have free reign in Willy Wonka’s candy store. Veruca eat your heart out! Their amazed eyes try to absorb everything at once from the light purple paint on the walls that stops a couple of feet from the ceiling where light grey paint takes over the rest of the walls and the ceiling to the medium shade of grey covering the floors to the dark grey pair of steps leading up to the transporter pad itself. It’s so large, so dominant, the round of it is so prominent in the space that it spills out from the boundaries of its part of the room. And the pad itself is a sort of cranberry red, probably just red but the shadows of the enclosed round area might be deepening it to the darker cran color their eyes are registering in decisive contrast to the other neutral and pastel colors around it. Grey walls take up the left and right arcing sides, framing out the panels of greenish, metallic, warped material that adorn the rear part of the semi-circular enclosure. The liquid-looking textured paneling and the opening to the pad are marked out by horizontal strips of round and dotted white lights like ribbon trim designed to look like the borders of old time film reels decorating a very neat present. The pad’s ceiling is divided by black bands into eight equally sized slices of pie with each pie wedge not dotted with dollops of whipped cream, but foot or more thick black cylinders with bright red lights set into the wider portions of the slices and positioned directly over the single, person-sized, and currently dimmed clear discs embedded in the red floor of the transporter pad. Each floor disc ringed like those of a cut tree.

All of it so, so, so enticing to every Trek fan. Who hasn’t wanted to beam anywhere? Especially to or from the original Enterprise? Which Trekkie would say ‘No’ to that? What Trekkie would say ‘No’ to any of that?

Sheppard and Ronon look around. They are, too, analyzing the area. But with considerably less enthusiasm. It’s frowns for the two of them. Well, not exactly frowns, just, just… this is it? This is what makes McKay and Kenmore go gaga and wear those ridiculous outfits. Right now, both men are preferring Atlantis’ Ancient design aesthetic to this, this… They look away from the stately figures on the dais to the rest of the room. Despite the round’s promise and eye-getting appeal, the room is small and cramped due to its sharply geometric shape. Odd blocky angles cutting into the room at weird junctures and making you realize how small the room is exactly and the over-sized furniture isn’t helping dissuade that first impression assumption either. On the right wall is a large screen or mural or whatever depicting a section of star speckled space featuring a cluster of stars at the center of dusty clouds. Nebulae most likely. There’s a silvery grey line cutting across the bottom of the screen at a small ascent and another line coming down at an equal angle on the right side, both indicating a zoom-in of some sort of grid view.

Sheppard twists at his waist, turning even more. Directly behind them on a slightly angled stretch of wall is another screen that looks distinctly like a twenty-something inch television, off, and right next to a light grey, built-in computer panel jutting from the wall next to it, parallel to the space screen wall, residing at waist height. John sees some sort of viewer sticking out of its surface at an angle on the left side of the panel while it’s right is taken up by a trio of rows of fingertip diametered buttons in an array of red, yellow, and white with a single fat red button the diameter of a half-dollar in the top column with a pair of companion green and red fingertip buttons some three inches away. His soldier’s mind automatically noting every single specific detail; just in case. One never knows. The fat red button lingering in John’s mind, usually be fat red buttons are a bad sign. Kind of like a shiny red telephone on the fancy desk in the Oval Office.

His attention moves on to the part of the built-in on the wall is starkly different. On the right half is a screened circle framed in red and on the left is a pair of short half-circles set close together and imbedded, reminding John of a built-in toaster for a single slice of bread, with two more half-dollar round lights, one glowing bright green like a Christmas light, and a fingertip white button framed in black underneath each large light. His eyes narrow slightly. Above that in the wall is a red panel with a mesh rectangle in the upper left corner and a red indented button framed in light grey in the upper right. In the bottom left is a light grey rectangular panel with a smaller wavy mesh rectangle inside of it and a bright pill capsule-shaped white light right next to it in its own band of light grey rectangle. In the bottom right is another white fingertip button framed in black. Small red, round headed screws bolting the panel to the wall and bands of bright yellow paint indicating the walls’ corner. Intercom system of some sort? Maybe. One thing is certain though, John can’t help but notice the round oval-shaped security camera-like thing sticking out of the adjoining wall at eye height. His eyes fixate on it just like Ronon. If anyone’s watching them, both men want to know. God knows what McKay and Kenmore have done. It’s all up in the air right now.

Suddenly Kenmore bolts for the room’s light blue twin doors, the only entrance/exit into the place that can be readily seen—and smacks right into them with an unceremonious thwack from a combination of her boot tips and her nose hitting the closed entrance/exit at a run.

In a single solid instant all her glee is gone. She eases away from the closed entryway, she touches her nose, works and wiggles it for a moment beneath her hand. As she takes a step back, her hand reaches out and touches the barrier. The somewhat pastel metal is cold to her touch… and filled with so much promise being kept at bay from her. Ursula turns her sad and pouting eyes, meeting the onlooking gazes of the rest of them.

“They won’t open, will they,” she says sullenly like a child who’s discovered that their Christmas got stolen away from them just as they were racing down the stairs to see it in all its festive glory, “I can’t get to the rest of the ship, can I? We’re stuck in the DVD menu, aren’t we?” Each question asked pitifully.

Sheppard feels himself sympathizing with the poor kid. He’s come close to getting what he’s dreamed about and then he got betrayed by the illusion of it. Home, one of those first missions. They’d all thought that they’d found a planet that had enough juice running to its Stargate that they could re-establish contact with Earth. They’d dialed the gate, made the trip… But it’d been a lie. An illusion for their sakes. A last recourse of the planet’s fog atmosphere protecting itself from the mass murder of the Stargate activation.

“Have no fear, Milady,” Rodney grins, coming to the Starfleet version of Cindy Lou Who’s rescue, “Our adventure is close at hand.” McKay makes his way over to the transporter control panel and his hand caresses the sharp angles of the machine’s smooth red surface as he assumes his station behind it.

He looks it over. His skin prickling as the bombastic music from before and the tingling sounds of the transporter effect accompanied by a few glittering notes and a brief bit of STAR TREK theme music still stuck in his head and ears are replaced by the familiar since childhood whirs and clicks of the transporter room’s regular operation. Even in it’s down time and nearly overridden by the constant thrum of the NCC-1701 U.S.S. Enterprise itself, Rodney McKay’s heart is literally twittering in his chest. Like a bird chirping excitedly, fluttering. It’s all bliss to his ears and mind. To add more to his bliss is the unerringly geeky fact that his blue eyes already know every capability of every button currently at his fingertips. Whether the button is round like a jewel or a bar, a switch that can be pushed on like a seesaw or a bar that he can draw downward or upward like a disc jockey, whether it’s a black hooded, pale yellow hued, sonar-like display complete with pie-wedge gridding not unlike a spider’s web with a thin band of red cutting it in half or a rectangle display that’s yellow-orange and blue and pie-wedge gridded as well. From the small trio of communication devices resting on top of it like the radio Charlie used to contact his Angels. Light grey, red, and black, an array of bright rainbow colors illuminating those colors, it is all a part of his past committed to vivid memory. Absolute memory, he breathes with a smile as he looks down upon it. Instantly spotting the pattern buffer operations, the signal resolution controls, the specifics for monitoring and possibly even removing any contaminants found in the matter stream. He sees where he can verify and lock onto coordinates, he smiles at the targeting scanners. The molecular imaging scanner, he smiles to himself as he can just imagine the Heisenberg compensators taking into account everything about the subatomic particles of his chosen transporting target, mapping the physical structure of it before disassembling it to the tune of billions of kiloquads of data. The pattern buffer. The annular confinement beam, ACB for short he reminds himself, meant to maintain the integrity of the information contained in the energy beam. He sighs contentedly to himself. In a weird way, this is home.

Kenmore rushes over, “Which one are you picking,” the question rushes out of her mouth as a breath.

Rodney quickly shoos her away with the reprimand, “It’s a surprise.” Meanwhile his own eyes remain gleaming hungrily down at the selection of episode titles embedded artfully in the console’s large black panel on its left side.

The Lieutenant stamps her foot in mock tantrum. Her pouting face complete with slightly jutting lower lip, but her old infectious grin quickly returns to bely any animosity in her childish action. Grinning in smug confidence, Doctor of Theoretical Astrophysics Rodney McKay begins deftly and rather skillfully if he does say so himself, and he does, pressing buttons with the same strong yet caring movements amid the throbbing hum, whirs, and sounds of snaps, clicks, and beeps that he’d watched Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott do for years. So at home in this environment, Rodney might even go so far as to call it his environment. So in his element, every Trekkie’s element. So… at relaxed in a way he hasn’t been since he was a child in the safety of his family’s den, sitting cross-legged in front of a television set with bunny ear antennae, and absolutely enamored in all the dreams and adventures that a future in space travel can encapsulate. Even now, there are times in the city when he’s alone at night in his lab that he pops one of these DVDs into his laptop and relives that sense of companionship in Captain James Tiberius Kirk and his crew, especially Mister Spock. The space adventuring he’s been doing for the past six and half years has made such escapism a necessity. He has to hope that the feelings and the dreams Star Trek brings to him can still be attained even now, even here in Atlantis, in the Pegasus Galaxy…

Ursula Kenmore looks around again since Doc McKay, of course, has made it so he’s the only person who’s getting a chance to play anything so far. Typical, but at least she gets to ogle the scenery some more as well as milk the benefit of anticipation. Her brown eyes marvel at everything around her with a near contagious grin and under Sheppard’s continuing to be confused by her gaze, she notes. This was a dream to her, this room. Every episode, she’d wait for there to be a scene in the transporter room or Engineering. This room got featured quite often, but Engineering, where her heart lives and breathes with anything Trek, was too infrequent for her taste. But still. To be in this place, to be standing in this room, and it’s not a set, not put up for filming or a strolling tour of visitors walking through to get their kicks. No. No studio tourist thing. It’s real. It’s all around her and it’s real. Well, as real as a ‘holodeck’ can make it. When her face hit the door, it certainly felt real enough though. Her eyes and her mind continue wandering as McKay takes his time; she can’t blame him, she’d take her time with those controls too. Yep, when they’re done with this and McKay goes off in search of some overflowing tray of food in the Mess Hall, she’ll have to come back here and play some herself. Maybe then she’ll actually get a chance to do something other than look around…

Ronon looks around too. And he’s not liking what he’s seeing. “There’s something wrong with this place,” he comments, “It’s too bright. And ugly. Who painted it?”

“The sixties,” Kenmore absentmindedly answers as her eyes trace the common lines of the red rectangular vent over the closed doors. For a moment her minds strays to one of her favorite freeze frames from an episode that became ingrained in her memory without her even realizing it until just now. Gary Seven, she smiles at the innocuous fixture.

Dex looks over at her and catches Sheppard nodding reluctantly at him too with an apologetic look on his face.

“Don’t ask,” Sheppard tells him.

Ronon looks around again with disdain on his face for the décor. Although he has to admit that it fits in perfectly with Kenmore and McKay’s clothes. Well, okay, not entirely. The lack of any actual furniture or fixtures would be a benefit to whoever’s outside the room, i.e. in control of the room. And the more he examines everything around him, the more he’s realizing that it’s the perfect cell really. There’s an intercom for back and forth communication, a camera to watch their every move, computer controls that he judges with his experiences in Atlantis as reference could easily be shut down or taken over by some other computer someplace else. He’s not sure what the raised enclosed area with those frozen people on it does or means, but it looks like the only thing here that if the need arises, they could use to help themselves. And that might be the point. That this possible trap that they’re in has a very enticing piece of bait for its focal point. Okay, so this place might not be as ridiculous as first glance as Kenmore and McKay’s clothes. Those, he’s pretty sure, are just as ridiculous as they seem.

“Okay, here we go,” Rodney announces, finally getting every facet of his selection exactly the way he wants to experience it from setting the audio to English 5.1 to making doubly sure that there are no subtitles running at any time during this whatsoever. He’s always found subtitles both distracting and only really meant for people too stupid to actually be capable of following the show they’re watching. He’s not stupid and the only distractions he wants throughout this is the pure pleasure of being a Trekkie in Trek. Now he’s finally ready. He moves over to the secondary right side of the console. Good, he sees that his selection has been logged in on the yellow-orange and blue sonar display. He does a quick double-check to make sure everything is as it should be. Episode title, check. Episode number, check. Stardate, right on from his memory and quick calculation. Everything looks good. He looks up at the transporter pad, ignoring the other sonar display option of ‘PREVIEW TRAILER’. He won’t need it, but its upper parallel option, now that one he does need. “Engage episode,” he announces commandingly.

Everyone else immediately shifts their attentions to the transporter pad as Rodney switches over to Scotty’s regular spot directly behind the left side of the transporter console. He swiftly pinches the three red transporter bar controls right in front of him between his fingers and slides the trio down their tracks in unison. It’s a superficial movement he knows, the DVD menu would do this all by itself, but he wanted to do this part himself. Rodney Mackay wouldn’t have it any other way than to feel what it’s like in Chief Engineer Scott’s boots.

There’s a loud whir then the transporter sound effect rings throughout the room again. All four frozen images suddenly disappear on the pad. Replaced by a single unidentifiable, golden glittering silhouette. It’s in the same space that Spock had been, but that’s no guarantee of episode selection, both Kenmore and Rodney know this DVD menu exactly and it does that no matter what episode’s selected and no matter what character’s frozen image represented it. The gold glitter engulfs the entire room again. Then the entire room goes dark…

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter One

Chapter One

Atlantis Expedition Military Leader Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard and his friend and teammate Satedan Weapons Specialist Ronon Dex walk down one of Atlantis’ many hallways. A nice, uncommonly leisurely stroll made possible by the fact that there’s only the two of them in the hallway. That would be considered either a cause for concern, i.e. Where is everybody? What happened?, or a rarity. But since it’s right after the start of the new shift, it’s not worrisome at all. So rarity it is. Everybody’s already gotten to where they want to be whether that’s the mess for a long lunch or breakfast or dinner or whatever mealtime it is for them, settling into the comfortable privacy of their own quarters for some downtime either for sleep or rest or, again, whatever, or digging into their work wherever in the city that is. For one of the men taking a walk, it makes for a nice change of pace.

“You ever notice how much easier it is to walk around the city during the day,” the Colonel muses. His eyes glossing over the ceiling of inset lights of honeycomb-like groupings of pyramid shapes down to the patina walls with textured silvery naquadah chiclet sconces and the gridwork of bands of the same textured copper framework all over the walls on down to the dark brownish marble unusually accented with nothing. His boot heels make a small scuffing sound as his lackadaisical swagger makes one of his feet not quite rise as much as it should to clear the floor in his stride with absolutely no sound at all.

“You know it’s not like we’re walking around the main area of the city. And it also helps that we’re right in the middle of basically everybody’s shifts so nobody’s around,” Ronon remarks with a glance over at his friend. Sometimes when Sheppard gets all philosophical, it’s pretty hilarious. The tall handsome Satedan smiles as he plucks at part of his vest’s bands; the chocolate brown textured leather loosening slightly from the cornflower blue creped fabric beneath it.

“Yeah, that too.” Sheppard looks over at his friend, who’s starting to trail behind him by a couple of steps… and notices the alien man’s smile, “What,” John asks.

Suddenly Sheppard catches fast movement out of the corner of his eye at the end of the hallway, a quick blur of bright color unlike any color of their surroundings. Ronon catches it too. Both men suddenly stop. Their attentions snap to the end of the hallway.

“Did you…,” Sheppard asks.

“Yeah, did you?”

Sheppard nods, “Uh-huh.”

Running bootsteps definitely not anything like the sounds of Sheppard’s boots comes to their ears. Immediate they bolt to the end of the hallway and look down the direction that their ears tell them the colorful blur had taken, the left. They don’t see anything, but they definitely keep hearing running bootsteps… coming from the end of the left side hallway. Ronon starts to charge after the sound again, but Sheppard’s hand reaches out and presses firmly against the Satedan’s chest. Stopping his friend. Ronon’s about to ask him why when he notices Sheppard fixated by the end of the hallway. Slowly John takes his hand away from Ronon’s chest and reaches up and taps his earpiece.

“Sheppard to the Gateroom,” his voice quiet, cautious, and tense.

“What are you asking them for,” Ronon hisses at him.

“To make sure this isn’t something the Ancients are doing like last time.”

Okay, Ronon nods, he’ll settle for that reason.

No answer. John’s anxiety ticks up a notch for every second he thinks is going by them in silence from Operations. His mind starts racing through all the bad possibilities in the milliseconds. If this is an attack or an intrusion by the Ancients trying to kidnap Kenmore out of the city again, he’d effectively take out Ops first and use that distraction to do whatever dirty work he’d come here to do in the first place. Answer damn it, answer.

The morning technician’s perky radio voice comes over his earpiece, “Gateroom here. Is there a problem, Colonel?”

“Are you saying there isn’t one already?”

Pause, then the Technician’s radio voice comes again and this time it’s beyond-a-doubt confused. John can imagine the look on the woman’s young face, she already looked like she was maybe, maybe eighteen years old. Barely. Shoulder-length brown wavy hair constantly pulled back into a tousled ponytail surrounding her porcelain smooth skin like a college freshman ready and waiting in the front row in the very middle most seat on the first day of the first class in her major, all uncertainty quickly overrunning what confidence and hope she’d walked in and sat down with and probably a little tension in her shoulders and a thought or two that she should start speaking slowly and simply the next time the teacher, in this case Sheppard, calls on her so as not to embarrass herself or, most likely, not to spook the crazy guy on the other end of her radio line, “Uh, no, Sir… Are you having a problem?”

Sheppard’s eyes remain keenly on the end of the left path of the hallway intersection. The sound of running bootsteps growing more distant in his free ear.

“I don’t know yet,” he answers simply. Undoubtedly his cagey response isn’t going to change the expression on the young female Technician’s face, but maybe this will, “Ronon’s with me. Stand by.”

“Yes, Sir.” The Technician’s curt and customary response makes it sound to him like it might have.

Sheppard breaks the radio link.

The Technician frowns for a moment at her station on the upper deck’s right side in the Operations Center standing guard over the Gateroom below. Her bright brown eyes stare down at her computer panel’s various assortment of piano-like keys with embedded circuitry running through them elegantly like a dew covered spider’s web and a smaller glass surfaced panel embedded with honey white round buttons the circumference of the human fingertip at the tri-leveled panel’s base level. She eyes each assortment and more and more the perplexed frown on her face deepens, becomes lopsided. Finally she goes to work on the fingertip buttons, splitting his hands’ efforts between the hexagon-shape formation of buttons on the left side and the simple, tilted trapezoid formation of tightly aligned buttons on the right.

Having overheard the rather interesting communication from the vicinity of Chuck Campbell’s DHD station just a handful of feet away on Operation’s lower deck, Expedition Commander Richard Woolsey walks up to the internal sensor station.

“Is there something wrong,” the Administrator asks.

“I’m not sure, Sir,” she answers without looking up at him, focusing her perplexity on her work, “Colonel Sheppard and Ronon are checking something out.”

Woolsey nods and stays by the upper level station, looking down at the Ancient technology in front of him. Not sure what exactly is going on and not willing to stray too far whenever the Colonel or Ronon radio in again. The former attorney’s heart flutters and his mind straight away goes to the near disastrous in-house mission that involved the Ancient commonly known on Earth as Morgan LeFay making space and time warping incursions into the city and kidnapping some of his top personnel. So soon? Would she really pull something like that again so soon? Or is it some new form of incursion by the Others that Morgan had mentioned to her kidnap victims? Richard’s fingertips quietly tap an edgy cadence on the textured metal surface of the computer console’s edging. Waiting.

John and Ronon ease down the hallway with slow and cautious steps. Their bodies tense and ready for anything if the blur of color they’d seen turns out to be the beginnings of an even bigger problem. Suddenly they hear the bootsteps change, more scuffing. Are the steps picking up so much speed that they’re not clearing the floor enough? The men rush to the end of the hallway. Ease up to its corner. Peer around it. And see Kenmore… in a, in a—

“Is she wearing a dress,” Sheppard says. He squints to make sure, but, yeah, he is seeing what he’s seeing.

Ronon can’t believe his eyes either, “A really, really short one,” the Satedan nods.

The men stare at the younger fifth member of their team. Her long, naturally curly, brown hair is down like she occasionally wears it, but with part of it up and styled to look like something a ‘40s or ‘50s pinup would wear. From the back Sheppard can’t decide whether or not he’s getting visions of Betty Page or some other bombshell featured in sexy fantasy cards slipped into the cherished wallets of helmeted WWII GIs. And the hair’s just the start. Their eyes can’t help but notice she’s wearing a mustard yellow, micro mini-skirt length dress with a single thin band of ornately braided trim around her cuffs in a brighter gold color than the mustard of the dress. The further down their eyes travel, the further their eyes get more surprises from the Lieutenant in the forms of near-black, sheer pantyhose then plainly designed, black, leather boots going up to just below her knees and polished to a wondrous gleam. Both brown eyes so dark they appear almost black and green eyes so pale and enigmatic a color that at times they appear grey watch the incredibly short-short skirt swish dramatically from side to side as Lieutenant Kenmore rushes down the hallway farther away from them. Her boots hitting the matte finish marble making the scuffing sounds still ringing in the men’s ears.

When she nears the end of the hallway, she finally skids to a halt, her boots making one long scuffing sound. Then she kneels down. John hears Ronon’s already quiet breathing go still and Sheppard himself hopes that his friend can’t hear his own breathing catch in his throat as both men observe the ever so slight peek-a-boo of black brief-style panties peeking out from underneath the very short hem of her skirt while it’s risen with the efforts of her bending over. She pulls up on the tops of her boots, first the right then the left, to hike them back up to their original heights. With her loudly discomforting adjustment made, Kenmore straightens back up and slides her hands down her outfit. Smoothing the minor ruffles it got back out of it. Although truth be told, the petite dress is so formfitting that neither man is sure what if any ruffles there were to smooth out exactly.

Ronon leans closer to Sheppard and quietly asks, “Where’s she going dressed like that?” He’s never seen anything like it in Atlantis.

John shakes his head. He has absolutely no clue, but wherever it is, he’d like to know if any other female members of the Expedition are going to be there dressed like that. There have been a couple of civilian scientists that have caught his eye over the years and he’d definitely like to see how they’d look in one of those outfits. Especially considering that even Kenmore looks like she cleans up pretty nicely in it herself and he doesn’t have anywhere near the same thoughts about her as he does some of the ladies of science around here.

Suddenly a light blue clad arm reaches out from the left side adjoining hallway. Swiftly latches onto unsuspecting Kenmore’s arm. And yanks her out of sight. A shocked yelp escapes her mouth as she disappears.

Sheppard and Ronon race after her. They zip around the corner… and end up nearly running into Kenmore herself. McKay’s there too, the blue clad arm. He stands a few feet away from her in front of the closed doorway to one of the city’s many holorooms. Ronon speaks up first while John’s just glad it isn’t the holoroom he’d been dreading; so far, at least, no Morgan LeFay.

“What are you two wearing,” the Satedan ridicules the two of them. His brain searches and in all of his experiences in Sateda’s military and all of his time as a Runner going from civilization to civilization and his years with Atlantis, he still comes up with the same thing. Those aren’t their normal uniforms. Those aren’t anyone’s normal uniforms. Those aren’t uniforms at all. He’s not even sure what the hell those clothes are, but he’s sure that they’re not normal. Not anywhere he’s ever been at least. He’s not sure what disturbs him more. The unnecessary aesthetic appeal of the outfits or that anyone wearing them’d be picked off as targets in less than a heartbeat if the city or any of it’s currently offworld teams came into any sudden trouble against anything. No armor. No place to conceal weaponry. As far as he can tell, no place for unconcealed weaponry whatsoever. How do McKay or Kenmore plan on fighting in those things? Can they even fight in those things?

John was about to ask the same question. Let alone is Kenmore’s appearance startling in that really short dress, those sheer black nylons, and black leather boots, but also her really, really sexy—feminine, he amends himself sternly, styled hair cause for the query. But so is McKay’s appearance. The Canadian’s wearing black pants that stop a few inches below his knees and the silhouette is carried on by a pair of plain designed, black, leather boots the same style as Kenmore’s. The man’s shirt is light blue with two rows of that gold braiding on his cuffs and a black collar similar to the one on Kenmore’s dress, which John hadn’t known before. Kenmore’s back had been to them the entire time and her long hair had obscured the top part of her dress from their view of her when she was smoothing herself out. Her collar is more angled and feminine in style to match her dress while McKay’s has a more masculine vibe to it, if you could call any part of what he’s wearing masculine. There’s a chevron-shaped gold patch over his heart and hers too—well, hers is just over her left breast with the bottom points of the chevron pointing like parallel twin arrows at the distinctly female anatomical feature.

Sheppard blinks a few times to distract himself away from staring where he’s apparently meant to. He quickly moves his eyes on up to the black embroidered symbols at the centers of their patches. They’re very different from each other, Rodney’s is a sort of atom-like ball looking shape/design thing while Kenmore’s symbol is some sort of star with an extremely elongated top point that made it look almost like a spike. Actually it reminds him more of a comet. Well, at least a representation of a shooting star with its tail indicating that it’s falling straight down. It also isn’t escaping John’s notice that Rodney’s carrying some sort of metal rectangle thing with a long purse strap over his shoulder. Seriously. A purse? And he’s got pointed ears too!

Instantly it all connects in his head, John Sheppard rolls his eyes. He should’ve guessed earlier…

“Why are you two wearing Star Trek costumes,” he sighs. This? This is what had him worried about intruders in Atlantis? Gees, he hopes that Technician doesn’t tell anyone about any part of this. Well, actually John hopes that the woman doesn’t ask for details when he radios in that it’s a false alarm. Hopefully that’ll be enough and he can safely avoid any embarrassment at overreacting to whatever it is Rodney and Kenmore are doing.

Ronon looks over at him, “What’s Star Trek?”

“No, no reason,” McKay tries to dodge Sheppard’s question.

John’s not buying that for a second. The expression of being caught red-handed by the Principal, nope, not a second. And John has no problem playing the role of School Principal or Teacher or Daddy or whatever like this right now. The last thing they need is two of the Expedition’s senior people stopping whatever important things they should be doing to run around the city playing sci-fi make-believe. Sheppard stands his ground and crosses his arms over his chest, “Come on. Tell us why.”

“Nothing.”

“Rodney,” John warns.

“We’re playing,” Kenmore pipes up casually like Rodney had tried to play off the question in the first place.

Sheppard and Ronon stare at her.

Rodney quickly jumps in at the expressions on the men’s faces to save both he and the Lieutenant from the coming explosion, “Not like that.”

She looks at McKay, face pinched in confusion, then at Sheppard and Ronon then, “Oh for God’s sake, what sex play are you going to do wearing Star Trek outfits,” she exclaims. Jumping to the wrong conclusion.

Suddenly her expression shifts, no pinch, no confusion. Simply the realization of something incredibly stupid slipping out of her mouth so easily. She and Rodney exchange looks at each other and there’s a silent communication between them.

“Okay, so, that was a dumb question,” she corrects.

“Why,” Ronon asks.

“Comic Con,” Rodney and Kenmore answer in unison.

“And Vegas,” she goes on, thinking about it further, “L.A. Parsippany. Really any Star Trek convention or any sci-fi convention at all anywhere. Anyways,” she swiftly changes back to the main subject, “we’re not doing that. We’re just playing Star Trek. No sex part.”

Rodney nods emphatically.

Sheppard and Ronon are both still looking at them like ‘What the Hell are the two of you doing exactly if Kenmore’s first conclusion was to jump to sex roleplaying?’ But Sheppard decides to switch his expression to err on the side of ‘You’re wasting valuable Expedition time doing this crap!’

“Come on,” Kenmore groans with her face and eyes looking up at the ceiling at the sight of Sheppard’s switch to semi-seething. She turns and swipes her hand in front of the door’s sensor. It fans open.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Prologue

Prologue

The sea is mildly choppy, not unusual for any ocean on any planet. Regardless of being an ‘alien’ world, tidal shifts are tidal shifts. It’s sunny though, beautiful. The steel grey hues of the formerly Lost City of Atlantis pick up on the light blue tone of the sky, giving the flat lines of her snowflake-like shaped piers a purple-blue quality. Providing any onlookers with a gorgeous array of blue colors ranging from the deep dark hue of her surrounding salt water to the cornflower of her piers to the almost black shadows of the city’s towering spires along with the silver grey of the city’s natural naquadah coloring glimmering in the sunlight and the light sky accented with white fluffy clouds.

Atlantis’ Gateroom is alive with activity, a group of personnel going out with a new group coming in… Well, not everyone is new. Doctor Carson Beckett isn’t even a step away from the Stargate before a grin breaks across his face and his eyes open with his gleaming smile and the first inhale of the fresh air of Atlantis. Earth being his beloved homeworld aside, it is good to back in Atlantis. He’s not entirely sure—wait, that’s wrong. He knows exactly when he’d started thinking of Atlantis as ‘home’. It was after returning here from being in Wraith Hybrid Michael Kenmore’s captivity, forced to work as his slave. At the prompting of being bumped into by another small wave of new arrivals from Stargate Command, his ruminations get cut short and he steps even further away from the gate to the middle of the embarkation floor as more SGC personnel file out. He watches as they’re greeted by their Officers In Charge in the city coming up to them from the expansive room’s sidelines.

He looks around and a part of him dims at the sight of so many new faces coming in, having already encountered so many familiar ones on the other side of the wormhole’s connection to Cheyenne Mountain in that Gateroom just prior to this wormhole being activated. Aye, indeed, the return to the Pegasus Galaxy continues to take its toll on all of them… but Carson finds the silver lining in that those that have left are now getting the proper treatment for their individual traumas that they deserve and need, they’re getting the help that they simply cannot get here in this city. They’re getting their loved ones along with some good old fashioned comfort and peace. Just like he had. Even though he hadn’t actually visited his mother during his temporary return to Earth, he can never do that and he knows why, he did check in on her. Keeping a distant eye on his personal treasure. She’s doing well, bless her. His smile returns.

His beguiling blue eyes survey the impressive room again. And it dawns on him that there’s no welcoming party for him. No one. Not a single one of his friends is here to see him and welcome him back from his short stay back on Earth. He figured that at least Rodney would be here ready and waiting to comment on how Carson had apparently taken his sweet time getting through the Stargate. Rodney’s way of showing someone he cares: harping on them the moment he sees them. Well, if that’s true, then he cares about quite a lot of people in the Expedition. Again though, at the very least Carson expected Radek Zelenka to greet him. But no. None—

“There you are, I was starting to get worried,” Doctor Beckett calls at the sight of Doctors McKay and Zelenka walking up to him from one of the embarkation floor’s many entrances/exits that lead to the rest of their wonderful city.

“Yeah, well, it’s been a busy day,” Rodney comments with no shortage of frustration in his voice while he comes to stand in front of Carson. The fingers of his free hand flying over the smooth glass surface of the computer tablet his other hand is keeping carefully and securely balanced on his forearm. Eyes so diligently focused down that he doesn’t even bother to look up at Carson.

“It’s nice to see you too, Rodney,” the Scotsman takes what he normally gets from the Canadian.

Radek steps forward with hand extended towards Carson, “Welcome back, Carson.”

Carson takes his hand with the same sincere smile he’s getting, “Thank you, Radek.” Beckett looks around him once again in order to draw the other men’s attentions there as well, “Quite a lot this time, I see. No wonder you lot have been busy.”

“Oh, it’s not them, it’s Lieutenant Kenmore,” Rodney answers distractedly.

Carson Beckett’s stomach hits his throat. He stares in sheer startled terror at Rodney.

“What,” he gapes breathlessly.

“Yes, our darling little psychopath has,” Rodney stops as his eyes catch what’s changed on his tablet’s screen, “Oh for the love of—will she just leave things alone for two seconds. Two?! Is that really too much to ask for?! I’m just—I’ve got to go deal with whatever crap she’s doing now.” Rodney stalks off, heading back into the city, grumbling, “I am going to kill this woman.”

Carson watches him go, stunned by Rodney McKay’s cavalier attitude about—he turns to Radek with even more questions on his face than that first horrific one, “Did he just say ‘she’? Is Michael a woman now?”

“There is another Lieutenant Kenmore,” Radek tells him, Carson starts, but Radek quickly continues in order to silence his friend, “I will explain further over lunch,” Radek gestures him off the floor.

Carson shuts his mouth. Nods. But he’s still on edge as they leave the Gateroom.

*                      *                      *

Thank God she’s inside this thing. This room’s always felt like a room of nothing but doors to her. Even though it’s the fan style of door, it still feels like a cage to her. Lieutenant First Class Ursula Kenmore works inside Atlantis’ main holoroom’s control podium as Doctor Rodney McKay walks in on her. Right off the bat—

“What the Hell do you think you’re doing,” he barks.

She keeps working, Just a bit of replugging here, “Relax, I’m not breaking anything.”

“That’s not my point. My point is that you are messing with a system that consumes a huge amount of the city’s power.”

“For which I have brought along a naquadah generator,” Kenmore pauses in her work long enough to gesture at the item sitting on the cool marble floor beside her then goes back to working inside the podium. As if she didn’t already know the power hog reputation of this room before Morgan LeFay sucked them into the Void through it.

That point hadn’t escaped Rodney’s notice upon his entering either, “Yes, a naquadah generator you stole from supplies.”

Oh God, we’re really doing this now… “There are four others down there and the city only needs three to run on and one extra to power the chair. Four uses, four generators. Easy peasy.”

“To run on without the shield,” Rodney points out, Kenmore’s blitheness at her only the start of her list of crimes in this circumstance merely adding to his thought coming here. “How can anyone possibly be this stupid?!

“For which there is a backup supply of energy held in reserves by the city’s grounding stations,” Kenmore keeps working inside the extremely confined space on her back with her head and hands working on the inside like she’s under a car, “Boo-yah.” All the plugs look good. Now time to double-check her rewiring job. In some ways it’s like she’s never left her beloved Apache attack helicopter, although she hasn’t touched one of those gunships in years. Sometimes her fingers, her hands still ache to get into a fight inside her Apache once more. Just one more time. Maybe that’s why she’s discovered she likes flying the puddle jumpers so much. Pilot and machine are one… just like in an Apache Longbow. I miss my baby, and she’s not talking about Michael in this instance.

“What?!” McKay practically shrieks. “Do you even hear yourself? Look, I know what this room means to you, what Morgan LeFay put you through with it, but you are relying on our ability to hold on to the lingering power of lightning strikes to defend ourselves with in the event of the Wraith showing up.” He has a strong urge to rechristen her Doc—Lieutenant Fumbles McStupid.

Said Lieutenant finally peeks out from within the podium, “You act like you guys have never done that before.”

Rodney rolls his eyes at her. Okay, that’s true. He’ll give her that one, they have done that before. During the first year siege in fact, before the Daedalus’ timely arrival with a fully functioning ZPM, they had been relying pretty much solely on the reserve power source of that super storm’s lightning strikes to back up the city when the naquadah generators failed, not if they failed, when. But that’s not the point he’s trying to make here and now.

“Yes, we have done that before and believe me when I say that we all do not want to have to do it again.” The intensity of emotion that surrounded that enter event comes second to the time when the Asurans attacked, took out Elizabeth, and forced Atlantis off their original planet and into space. And that plays second to their recent return to the Pegasus, he doubts anyone will ever truly heal from that one. He sighs exasperation, bringing himself to some sort of attempt at the very least of calming himself down, “Look, at least tell me what you’re doing here with all this stuff so I might have at least some idea of how bad you’ve made things before I have to go in there and fix everything again,” he gestures at the torn open innards of the podium as well as the torn open innards of some sort of computer system that he can’t rightly identify anymore it’s so mangled lying beside the podium’s free side.

Kenmore obliges him by coming out from messing around with the insides of the podium. She doesn’t tell him that that’s because she’s done messing with the innards anyway and allows him to go on thinking that she’s actually obeyed something he’s told her to do. Not likely, the last civilian she followed orders from was Doctor Daniel Jackson and Doc McKay is no Daniel Jackson. At least not to her. Ursula stands up and brushes herself off as best she can; despite the polish and elegance of Atlantis’ general appearance, the city is actually pretty dusty or at least all her floors seem to be dusty. Must be all the foot traffic, anyways…

She gestures at the stuff, “I’ve jerry-rigged my PlayStation 2 into the hologram podium.”

Rodney’s eyes bug, his mouth pops open but no sound comes out as he lower lips starts to quake. Flabbergasted. Absolutely flabbergasted. His brain… his brain… It takes a moment for his brain to process what he’s just hear. To process what his reaction should be. What it should be. What it should be. Then it happens: Rodney McKay explodes.

“You what?! Do you have any idea how sensitive Ancient technology is!”

“Yeah, Doc McKay, all I have to do most of the time is think at the stuff and it’ll do something for me.”

Rodney throws his arms up in the air. For the love of… Isn’t it bad enough he has to deal with Sheppard like this?! Now there’s two of them! He pushes on, ignoring the glibness like usual, “It is incredibly delicate and complicated machinery on a level hundreds if not thousands of years beyond even the most advanced stuff we have now and that’s with us reverse engineering practically everything we’ve gotten from the Goa’uld which they scavenged from the Ancients in the first place and the Asgard leaving us everything they have ever learned in throughout the existence of their entire race!” He builds to a second eruption.

“It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not okay. You’re psychotic.”

He shoves his tablet at her and immediately gets on his hands and knees, rolls over onto his back, and slips into the disemboweled control podium to try and figure out why Lieutenant Nutbag was being a nutbag and to see if he can fix whatever dangerous stuff she’s done now in her nutbaggery.

Seriously, dealing with every other scientist around here is bad enough, now he’s got to deal with some military elements suddenly going rogue on a whim and treating anything Ancient that seems to catch their eyes like—

“You cannot just hook up your iPods to puddle jumpers like car stereos. It doesn’t work that way,” he condemns the thought that occurred to him out loud.

Ursula hadn’t thought of that, but now that McKay mentions it, she might try that. Who knows could be fun? It would certainly beat the Hell out of their boring rides in the jumpers as it stands currently with Doc McKay prattling on in his science mumbo-jumbo in between bouts of griping with Sheppard like an old married couple. No wonder half the city thinks it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with two of them. And then there’s Emmagan and Dex sitting in silence right behind the two guys and exchanging silent yet knowing looks between each other occasionally accompanied with quiet sighs that, while riding alone in the jumper’s rear compartment, Ursula can easily pick up on via her acute hearing. Again, no wonder some in the city think those two are together too despite Emmagan having an intimate partner living with her and their child in the city. But it’s nothing more than the blatantly visible bond of two aliens observing the idiosyncrasies of Earthlings that they kind of can’t believe they’re actually friends with. If either one only knew a whisper of people’s lives during high school, they’d… well, they’d still think the same things. What was the line on one of her favorite T.V. shows, oh yeah, ‘Twelve years after high school and I’m still sitting at the nerd table.’

“Would you look at this? You’ve changed practically all of the wiring. And all of the plugs are in the wrong place.” McKay snaps at her again from inside the hologram control podium. “What the Hell were you thinking?”

“That I wanted to play in a Holodeck.”

He freezes… then peeks out from inside the podium up at her. “What did you say?”

“I’ve gained ten pounds since my son started going to school and it has been a merciless battle to even lose one pound. I stress about his safety and I bake. Now Emmagan may be happy with that, but my scale isn’t and neither am I. I know I’m the Big Girl between the two of us chicks on the team, but I don’t have to be the Bigger Girl.”

“What does that have to with a Holodeck?”

“I need to start exercising or do something else to distract me from worrying so much about my son other than baking pies all the time. And, well, I was reading the mission file that you guys had had with that Dorane guy, you know the mission Weir called ‘Reliquary’,” Rodney uncomfortably does remember that one, Kenmore goes on, “Well, both yours and Sheppard’s and Lieutenant Ford’s reports said that that whole thing began in one of the holorooms around the city. It also said that when you guys figured out how to get the room up and running and turned it on that basically the whole room, well not the whole room but a pretty good amount of it, came on in a hologram format.

“And I thought that if most of the room could project holograms then why couldn’t it, well, be basically like a prototype holodeck. I mean think of it, you’re a fellow Trekkie, wouldn’t that be awesome? And talk about covering shore leave. You can check my work, but I think this is a real possibility here.”

A strange look comes over Rodney’s face. How many times had he pretended to be one the bridge of the Enterprise right next to Spock and Kirk? How many times has he pretended to be Spock on ‘away missions’ in his own backyard or basement when he was little? Actually, he doesn’t have to be little for that. One of the last vacations he went on before joining the Stargate Program’s preliminary excavation of the Antarctica outpost was to the Las Vegas Star Trek convention. Four days of talking with equally costumed and geeky friends, it was a blast! But one thing remained true. They were all pretending to be those characters they’ve loved and dreamed about and watched on television religiously since they were old enough to start watching T.V. None of them actually had the chance to be those characters. He looks back into the manipulated innards of the podium. His blue eyes tracing every wire from start to chaotic, erratic finish. Every misplaced plug fitting snugly in a hole that it doesn’t normally belong to. He analyzes every nook and cranny. Finds every alteration.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Front Cover

[I know this is coming a week late, but I ironically found starting this new Atlantis story a bit of a struggle as every geek will understand once the story gets going.  Even though it’s been awhile since I finished this story, I never thought it would be so… poignant now that the great Leonard Nimoy has passed away.  In a way this is a fan’s tribute to him and his truly beloved character Mister Spock in a very geeky way.  And until I can get my Photoshop program to work again, the picture tribute from one great scientist character of science fiction protrayer to another will stand as the coverart for this story.]

It’s all fun and games until someone loses their mind…

Stargate Atlantis:  The Games People Play

 The Games People Play- Coverart

By Samantha Padilla

Based on the hit television series created by Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright

The way the personnel of the Atlantis Expedition spend their free time is as varied as they are and some of the ways are just what one might expect from people residing in a base in an alien galaxy.

The flagship reconnaissance team’s newest and youngest member, Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore, seeks to remove some of the stress of being a single parent raising a small child in a foreign galaxy by playing a DVD on her gaming console… in an Ancient holoroom. Doctor Rodney McKay suddenly discovers the Lieutenant might have just hit an Atlantean goldmine as well as a very nerdy one: Atlantis’ own version of a holodeck.

But the elation and fun takes a dark turn when a terrible and dangerous mistake occurs without anyone realizing it would. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard and his team as well as every member of the Atlantis Expedition is all hands on deck in a race against time to save one of the things that has time and time again rescued them in their most darkest hour, the precious mind and life of Rodney McKay, from the now deadly machinations of the Lost City of Atlantis herself.

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