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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Episode Eight- Home Again, Part Two- Epilogue and Acknowledgements

Epilogue

They come out of the Stargate’s pool of artificially stabilized event horizon. The first ones to return were always the ones either pushing or lugging the heavy duty equipment in front, beside, or behind them. Already the Daedalus was on her way back and would be there in orbit to beam her accompaniment of Atlantis personnel and their stuff back to their rightful places within a few hours. After the equipment, came the people. In the middle of the outpouring came Kanaan with a sleepy Torren in his arms and Little Michael beside him. Without hesitation, Michael bounds to his mother. Kenmore drops to her knees and catches her son in her arms, smiling and laughing as though he’s just come back from a school fieldtrip that he was sooo excited to tell her all about. Although much more restrained as was her people’s tradition, Teyla waits and watches her own returning family approach her with no less as big and grand a smile than Lieutenant Kenmore has on her face. Kanaan’s steps are hurried and in the last few feet between them, both Teyla and he rush forward to meet each other. Sometimes their people’s customs needed to be… rushed a little. Immediately they touch their foreheads together and she wraps her arms around both of them. Kanaan slips his free arm around behind her back and holds her close; his splayed hand gently pressing on the small of her back, sending a comforting chill up her spine and tingling throughout her body. Torren yawns and curls up into his father’s neck, finally falling into the sleep he’d been trying to stave off for hours now. Like Teyla had said once before, their little boy was acutely aware and sensitive to his father’s anxieties. Almost immediately he starts snoring these tiny contented little snores that both parents found so endearing. Teyla and Kanaan look into each other’s eyes, smiling and laughing.

“You are well,” her partner asks.

“Yes,” she nods while keeping their foreheads together, “Very much so now that you both have returned.”

Kanaan’s smile broadens at her and they start to turn a little from left to right in sways, in their own little world, as Kenmore had already left with her own son and other Atlantis personnel were still coming out of the gate.

“I have been thinking,” Teyla tells him, “Perhaps I could take some time off and we could return to visit our people.”

Kanaan nods, he likes the idea. “I would have to check with Doctor Brown first to see if I might be able to take some time off as well,” Kanaan tells her. Teyla’s smile broadens at him, her eyes glittering.

Acknowledgements

As is usual with my acknowledgements page, I go in chronological order based on what’s going on in the story’s timeline so I will undoubtedly end up thank a few people repeatedly for various different things. So to start things off, I’d like to thank Jennifer Johnson for her work with the Stargate Atlantis television series as Associate Producer and for everything that that job entails. As Sharon Gosling wrote in the Stargate Atlantis: The Official Companion Season 4, “… the next time you sit down to watch an episode [of Atlantis], spare a thought for Jennifer Johnson and her [post-production] team!” and that’s what I’ve done here. Welcome back to Atlantis Jennifer Johnson. Another Stargate Atlantis production thank you goes out to James Robbins as the production designer of the series. He is the man responsible for the look of the sets of Atlantis because he is at the beginning of it all as the man responsible for the beautiful concept drawings upon which they’re all based. I have two of these drawings from the Atlantis’ premiere episode, the ruined Ancient city on Athosia and the Wraith hiveship buried in a tree-covered hillside, and, in my opinion, Atlantis would not have been as inspirational a series as it was without you. In the story and as with Jennifer, welcome back to Atlantis James Robbins. I’d also like to say thanks to the Art Director Chris Beach, Construction Coordinator Scott Welenbrink, Set Decorators Mark and Robert Davidson, and Property Master Kenny L. Gibbs for their work on the Atlantis Season Five episode “The Prodigal” for what Torren’s crib and for helping to give me an idea of kind of what Teyla and Kanaan’s bed looks like along with what is shown of Teyla’s Athosian dream bed in the Season Four episode “The Kindred, Part I”. Again it was beautiful inspiration and wonderful to incorporate in Teyla’s personal moments in this story because it’s little things, little touches like that that make a story believable as belonging to the Stargate Atlantis series. And I thank you for it. Thanks also goes out to Peter DeLuise and Damian Kindler, who came up with the story and wrote the screenplay (Peter) for the Season 7 two-part episode “Evolution” for the information from it I used here. It was a wonderful Anubis episode to reference here. And helped me show exactly how much of a Goa’uld Anubis still is. Thanks Carl Binder for his writing of and actor Gidon Karmel for playing Major Leonard in the Season Three Atlantis episode, “Phantoms”. It let me show how much a character like John Sheppard is moved when losing someone under his command and how he might feel about those people personally, something he would never actually talk about unless it were either Teyla, Ronon, or Rodney and even then, they’d usually have to be in imminent danger first. Thank yous also go out to the Stargate Wiki database and everyone who contributes to it for its article on Anubis. It helped fantastically for reference to give Team Atlantis all the information they could possibly use to fight on of the greatest foes of Stargate SG-1 and the Stargate franchise in general. I’d also liked to thank Brad Wright for writing “The Shrine” episode of Atlantis’ Fifth Season, especially those moments between Ronon and Rodney and for revealing just how much Ronon has come to love and protectively cherish his friendship with Rodney. And also for revealing, on Ronon’s part, just how deep and important it’s become to him. It’s another leap forward from what it was in the Season Three “Tao of Rodney” episode. And it’s a bond I couldn’t resist bringing back in this story. Thank you. And huge gratitude goes out to both Brad Wright (again) and Robert C. Cooper as the creators of the Stargate Atlantis First Season episode “Hide and Seek” for the perfect and absolutely best way to bring one of SG-1’s greatest villains and the villain that was the major reason behind the SG-1 episodes “The Lost City Parts I and II” which led to the premise behind the Stargate Atlantis series, to his end. Talk about bringing it full circle here. Everything always comes back to home.;-) And it’s all due to you guys. Seriously, thanks isn’t enough, but it’s a start so thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, etc.…  And thanks to the joke machinations of Martin Wood and Dan “Lieutenant Sly Siler” Shea for the iconic SGC gi-normous wrench. I thought it was about time that it made its Atlantis debut, even if it’s only in the novels and not on the screen. But here’s hoping for that someday.   And sorry to the wrench’s fans that it’s only in the story as a mention, I’ll try and get it out of the SGC and into the Lost City somehow. I’d also like to thank the fans of the Stargate Atlantis series for reading this story. It’s my first two-part story and I hope you enjoyed it. It was a blast to write and I hope you feel it would fit in like an Atlantis episode. It’s my goal each time I write an Atlantis story that it does credit to the television series it’s based off of and is accurate to both the series and the franchise in general. I’m a fan too and absolutely the number thing I hate is when someone writes a story for a beloved series and don’t seem to know a damned thing about it, its canon, or its continuity. So I hope I did you proud. If not, just tell me. It only helps to make me a better Atlantis writer and my stories not disrespect or disappoint one of my favorite sci-fi series of all time. And as always in my acknowledgements, my last thank you is to my mother. She is my first reader, my first editor, and my first fan and my biggest one too. She is always at the front of my thoughts and my last thought when I’m finished writing one of my stories because I can’t wait for her to read it and tell me what she thinks doesn’t work as a fellow Stargate Atlantis fan and what does work as a fellow Stargate Atlantis fan. I love you and hope you like this trip through the Stargate of the Lost City of the Ancestors. Thank you for coming on the adventure with me, I’d have you on my gate team anytime. I love you.

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Episode Eight- Home Again, Part Two- Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

This lab is a setting none of the team have been in since they first arrived on Atlantis. It’s one of the few rooms that has a transporter open into it directly and thankfully since their arrival and during that first and only round of visitations to this place, they’ve discovered another entrance into the room. A suspiciously concealed other entrance, but an extra entrance nonetheless built to look like just another panel of the wall, directly to the right of the caging device and it’s podium that sat about six feet directly across from the transporter doors. And about six feet behind that podium, Rodney sits at the lab’s main computer console that has access to several of Atlantis’ systems including the communications, the power, and the Gateroom with Jennifer attentively by his side. At first it spooked him all the ways this single computer console had of contacting the city Command Center, but Rodney had since discovered that every lab’s main console had these sort of default computer features in them just in case whatever that lab’s particular experiment was went haywire and threatened the city. Not it didn’t spook him, it just really, really unnerved him…  Really.

In the wall on the other side of Rodney and his main console is the entrance/exit of a staircase that leads directly down into the lab from one of the major off-shoot hallways coming from the Gateroom as well, again a rarity. Ronon looks a weird glowing tower of blue-green, aerated liquid immediately to the right of the transporter doors up and down then he gingerly walks around the standard structural pillar in the center of the room and looks over at the equally strange towers of piped light and light, pipe, and framework set into the walls of the lab next to a second computer console. He’d never been in this room before.

“The Ancients caged something in here,” he asks.

Despite the glows of various colors from the computer consoles, the light towers, the other wall lights’ clear glowing crystal slats, and the bright ZPM-like glowing of the Ancient cage device, the room was bathed in gentle amber light that barely lit it properly. Sheppard stands in front of the opened secret entrance with the cage machine behind him, aiming his P-90 with its flashlight on, clipped to the front of his tacvest, down the empty hallway before him and shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. His anxious focus never leaves the hallway.

“Pretty much, yeah,” he answers.

Ronon looks over at Sheppard, eyeing the back of the man’s form.

“And now we’re going to cage something that’s like the Ancients in here,” Ronon asks.

Sheppard falters for a moment, thinks of glancing behind him then dismisses the idea, and continues his standing-in-one-spot way of pacing.

“Yeah,” he answers.

Rodney finally pops up out of his work on the computer. He tries to stand unsuccessfully and Jennifer catches him. He wraps an arm around her shoulders, holding her close. She silently returns the subtle little squeeze. Then he reaches up and activates his earpiece.

“Gateroom, this is McKay. We’re ready down here.”

*                      *                      *

Woolsey reaches up to his own earpiece and taps it to respond, “Thank you Doctor McKay. We’ll be listening in.”

Woolsey looks over at Zelenka and nods. Radek looks down at his screen, the map on it shows Kenmore’s room and her in it. He presses a few buttons and the glowing in the walls of her quarters and a small piece of the hallway outside of it disappears. He switches over to a map of a different section of the city. He eyes it for a moment then presses a single button. The map shows the ceiling and wall forcefields and the forcefield in front of Anubis disappear. Woolsey taps his earpiece again.

“Lieutenant Kenmore—”

*                      *                      *

At her name, Kenmore’s head shoots up.

“—You have a go.”

No sooner has Woolsey finished the sentence then Kenmore drops the file in her hands and bolts for her door. She slips by the still opening door, stops in the middle of the hallway outside, faces the direction she knows Anubis is in. And yells…

“Olly, olly, oxen—”

Lightning bolts strike wall to wall at the bend in the hallway in front of her.

“—Whoa geez.”

Kenmore immediately turns on her heels and bolts up the hallway. Anubis follows her. Catching up to her. Roaring like heavy wind roars in your ears…

Forcefield junctions break down in front of Kenmore and go back up behind her just as fast. Forcing Anubis to hurdle the forcefields. But it’s quickly clear that Radek is having trouble keeping up with the pace Kenmore and Anubis are setting. Anubis is so close to her…  The roaring is deafening.

Ursula turns a sharp corner. And slips. She barely has time to scramblingly regain her footing before the forcefield reappears centimeters behind the rising heel of her boot and forces Anubis to slam on his brakes. She allows herself a slight gasp of distress at the close call as she pulls away from him once more. Anubis shoots straight up and vaults the forcefield. Ursula turns another corner with a furious Anubis continuing to close in on her all over again.

*                      *                      *

Massive bolts of electricity suddenly burst from wall to wall and wall to floor in the bend in the hallway in front of him. And Sheppard quickly realizes that his gun isn’t going to be of any use here. He drops his P-90 and takes up the Wraith pistol. At least it’s an energy weapon. He calls back over his shoulder as he falls back behind the machine…

“Rodney!”

“I’m trying,” the scientist snaps back.

Rodney works frantically at the computer, his movements slower than usual. But they still do the trick. The cage device starts to hum as it builds up power.

Kenmore breaks into view. A few seconds later so does Anubis. She starts frantically waving at Sheppard.

“Back! Back!” She yells.

Sheppard backs away from the machine and feels his shoulder hit Ronon’s waiting chest. Ronon’s arm, blaster ready and set to kill, comes up beside John’s head. Both men stare down the hallway. Kenmore continues to run at them full tilt with Anubis trying to shoot uncontrollable arcs of electricity at her back. Jennifer looks up from Rodney’s side and sees quite clearly the bolts exploding on the floor and around the hidden door’s frame. Sheppard shouts again.

“Rodney!”

They’ve run out of time. Literally. Anubis is close enough and Kenmore is close enough that she has no choice but to dive. She leaps into the room, lands on the floor at the base of the machine, and slides underneath it. Barely. Despite the pain and tightness in his gut, Ronon reaches down his free hand and helps her up.

Anubis charges into the room.

The cage immediately sucks Anubis down into it, closes, and locks. Its locking mechanism’s light on top switching from red to green.

Everyone stares at it as it sits there emitting a high-pitch satisfied hum.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Rodney gapes breathlessly, his effort has finally taken a toll on him. For the first time since coming to in the isolation room and actually being able to realize that he was in fact in an isolation room in Atlantis, he seriously considers just collapsing into the chair bumping up against the back of his knees.

Then clicking starts coming from the machine.

“Oh no,” he begins.

They all start backing up against the wall behind them. The green light on the machine switches back to red.

Rodney reaches down to the console, “Oh no.”

Anubis suddenly explodes out of the machine. A far more menacing darkness than before. And reaches out towards Kenmore with wispy tendrils of black energy. Suddenly a burst of stark white light erupts out of the top of the cage device. Anubis is caught in its rays. Everyone shrinks at the brilliance. Ronon wraps his arms around Kenmore as she ducks into his chest. Rodney doing the same for Jennifer as she takes cover in the side of his neck. Sheppard cringes, trying to duck his head, but never letting go of his weapon or losing sight of the threat for a moment. The room fills with hideous screaming. Who knew a cloud could scream? They chance coming out of their individual recoils and watch Anubis be quickly engulfed by the white light. And ripped apart by it. Molecule by molecule. Disintegrated. Then the brilliant white light simply fades away as quickly as it had appeared, leaving the room as though it and Anubis had never been there in the first place. They all stare at the empty space above the machine for long minutes in silence…  Nothing happens… and nothing continues happening as they slowly ease out of their defensive positions.

“Well I guess we learned one thing today,” Sheppard swallows, his eyes fixed on the cage machine still humming contentedly; waiting.

“What’s that,” Rodney asks, “The Ancients do intervene in some things?”

“I was thinking more like don’t piss them off, but yours works too.” Sheppard finally loosens his grip on his pistol.

“No,” Kenmore speaks up from the continuing embrace of Ronon’s arms, her cheek still against his medical shirt covered chest, “I think it’s more like you really can’t go home again.”

Sheppard and McKay uneasily look over at her then at the same stretch of empty space she’s riveted by, that Anubis and the white light had filled moments ago, as Teyla and Lorne burst into the room from the staircase behind the group with guns at the ready.

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Episode Eight- Home Again, Part Two- Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

Doctor Radek Zelenka, the Czech second-in-charge scientist of the Atlantis expedition, continues working at his new undamaged Command Center computer console with Major Evan Lorne leaning over his shoulder. Gateroom technicians, Jennifer Johnson and James Robbins, sitting quietly at their stations, like they have been this entire time. They’ve been with the Stargate Program long enough to know when to stay where they are, keep their heads down, and stay out of the command personnel’s ways, only dodging the odd exploding interface when the occasion called for it. They’d jumped when the first computer console blew, but thank God that only the back half of the room’s consoles, those on the second tier, blew and not the front half, their consoles. Richard Woolsey continues to pace up and down the center of the room. When Doctor Jennifer Keller, Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore, and Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard push Doctor Rodney McKay’s bed into the room with Teyla Emmagan helping Ronon Dex walk in right behind them. Zelenka, Lorne, and the technicians look up. Woolsey turns around to look at the group coming in.

“What is this,” he demands.

“He insisted on coming,” Sheppard says with a smile.

Rodney, his bed supporting him sitting in an upright position, waves weakly at them. And no sooner have they got the bed stopped then he’s reaching out towards Radek. Jennifer runs around behind Radek and Lorne, goes to another undamaged computer console, grabs the turned off, unused, and unhooked up computer tablet that had been left abandoned laying there during the evacuation, and runs it back to Rodney’s waiting hands. She waits at his side as he activates it. He hands her its jack and she runs it over to the nearest computer console, Johnson’s, and plugs it in. Rodney taps the tablet a few times then looks up at everyone…

“So, what are we doing,” he asks as cheerfully and loudly as he can muster. Which wasn’t much. It was taking a lot out of him just letting the most uncomfortable gurney in two galaxies help him sit up. Not to mention being unconscious for so long had formed a really uncomfortable cramp in his left butt cheek.

Woolsey, Radek, and Lorne just stare at the ailing theoretical astrophysicist.

“Are you sure he’s okay,” Lorne asks.

“I’m fine,” Rodney belittles the major.

And for further effect he starts to try and get out of the bed. Jennifer immediately puts a gentle but firm hand on the center of his chest and pushes him back in.

“He’s fine,” she says with her usual brilliant and charming smile bringing up the corners of her mouth. He is fine.

The three men still stare at Rodney. Rodney rolls his eyes with an exasperated sigh and repeats himself… like he always hates having to do with the little people who couldn’t catch on as fast as he did.

“So what are we doing,” the tone of his voice telling them to move it along here. They were running out of time after all and, Dear God, if he has to snap his fingers, there was going to be hell to pay…

“We, we,” Zelenka stumbles while reaching back out to his console’s control panel, should the city need him to defend it against the diseased addlepated mind of a jacked-in computer tablet wielding Rodney McKay, “have Anubis trapped in a section of the corridor on level…”

“Well I can see that,” McKay cuts him off snippily, “what else are we doing?”

With an exasperated sigh and a roll of his eyes, Radek leans slightly over to Lorne.

“He’s fine,” he tells the major quietly.

“Well whatever we’re doing we’ve got to get Anubis out of the city. We can’t just keep him trapped there forever,” Sheppard interrupts the let’s-put-Rodney-through-his-snarky-paces portion of their little reunion.

Kenmore’s head shoots up.

“Trapped… that’s it. We can’t let him leave the city.”

Sheppard turns and looks at her, “What? You’re not serious. He can’t stay here.”

Kenmore starts nodding emphatically, “Yes he can. Yes he can.”

“How?”

Kenmore suddenly races out of the Command Center, bolting down the stairs into the gateroom. Taking them a highly erratic and hazardous at her speed two at a time. Sheppard follows her to the top of the stairs and yells after her.

“Where are you going? The city isn’t safe.”

Kenmore calls back to him as she runs out of the gateroom.

“He’s trapped in a hallway. The rest of the city is safe.”

Sheppard yells after her again.

“Not from power surges.”

But she’s already gone.

*                      *                      *

The door bearly has time to open enough before Kenmore bursts into her quarters and runs over to her desk, thankfully right beside the door—of course Kenmore already had this room, especially, all laid out in her mind in the darkness of night whether moonlit or moonless, her haunted sleepless nights didn’t give a damn—, piled high with unopened files covered by opened ones. She begins frantically searching through them.

“C’mon, you’re here. I know you are. I read you a few days ago.”

Her earpiece radio crackles on in her ear…

“I don’t know where you are, but you get your ass back here right now,” Sheppard snaps.

Kenmore taps her earpiece with one hand then continues her search with both…

“I’m looking for something…  Ah-hah.”

She found the file she was looking for.

“What did you find,” he asks her. Probably worried at how loud her ‘ah-hah’ had been, it had come out of her a lot louder than she’d expected it to. She actually scared herself a bit.

Ursula immediately opens the light gray file folder and slides her finger down the report trying to find the passage she’s looking for.

“It’s a mission report, well not ‘mission’ report, I read a few days ago. You remember when you first got to Atlantis and Halling’s boy, Jinto, got lost in the city?”

*                      *                      *

Sheppard does remember the report she’s talking about. Everyone does except for Ronon, who hadn’t been here at the time, and, maybe, Woolsey and Lorne; although John doubted that either one them would not have ever read that file for themselves. Rodney realizes where she’s going with this. Weakly he tries to snaps the fingers of his freehand repeatedly in rapid succession, but it was like getting molded gelatin to be coordinated when wiggling.

“But that machine wasn’t holding an Ascended Being, fallen or otherwise,” he says

“But it was a great big shadow of energy, wasn’t it,” Kenmore comes back, apparently Rodney had managed to say it loud enough for Sheppard’s radio to catch him, “Ha, here it is. Yes it was. It was a great big shadow of energy. I don’t see why we can’t make use of something now that worked for so long in the past.”

Sheppard looks over at Rodney. Could this work?

“But the Ancients created it, wouldn’t Anubis have the knowledge to be able to open it,” Woolsey asks.

“He hasn’t had much success with most of the systems similar to that so far,” Zelenka interjects, “He can’t touch them.”

“The electrical,” Ronon states simply, now sitting in a chair next to Johnson with Teyla dutifully at his side.

“And did not dealing with that energy creature require a personal shield,” the Athosian leader adds.

“We don’t need a shield, we’ve got forcefields,” Kenmore’s voice says over the radio.

John keeps looking at Rodney, the expression on his face still begging the question. Could this work?

“I don’t see why it wouldn’t work,” Rodney tells him.

“But didn’t it require a lot of power for what you guy’s had back then? We’re kind of still in the same boat here. We don’t have that much to work with,” Lorne interrupts.

“You forget that the machine has its own power source just like the jumpers do. We can do this, it can work,” Rodney clarifies, “but someone has to prep the machine.”

And there was the catch, John knew it, there is always a catch.

“I can do it,” Radek says raising his hand.

“No, Doctor Zelenka, you’ve been the one handling the forcefields this far. You’re the quickest. McKay, you up for it,” Kenmore’s radio voice asks from Sheppard’s earpiece.

Rodney holds up his hand to block Jennifer’s objections before her voice can even begin to issue them.

“Yeah, I think so,” he says.

“Specialist Dex, you up for standing in a room and shooting anything that comes through the door,” Kenmore asks next.

“I’ll go with them,” Sheppard says before Ronon could even voice his reply. He knew his friend and teammate well enough to know the answer is ‘yes’. For something like that, it will always be ‘yes’.

“Me too,” Jennifer quickly adds, “Just in case… for Rodney.”

“Teyla, you stay here and guard Zelenka and Woolsey with Lorne in case this doesn’t work,” John orders.

Teyla nods at him.

“Wait. He’s not going to fall for us just opening up a path straight there with forcefields. He’ll know it’s a trap,” Lorne throws the quintessential SGC ridiculously giant wrench in the plan.

“What’s the one thing he desperately needs right now,” Kenmore’s voice pipes up in the silence that followed his words.

“You can’t lead him there,” Rodney tells her strongly.

Aw shit, John thought there was more to her running away from them than just looking up some stupid mission file that he was sure either Radek or Rodney could have brought up on one of their computers up here.

“Who better than an Ancient, well at least a half a one,” Kenmore’s voice fires back, “Anyways, I prefer to be bait on my own terms.” That was a little dig at Woolsey.

Sheppard nods, he’s already known her long enough to not argue with her damn personal command decisions—Jesus, I hope she gets out of this one too—, and goes over to help Jennifer help Rodney out of his bed. In the laboring silence that ensues and the fact that he’s noticed Sheppard’s forgotten to deactivate his earpiece, another opportunity has opened up and this time Ronon takes it…

“Kenmore?”

“Yeah,” her voice asks over Sheppard’s earpiece radio.

She sounds like she’s distracted. Doing something else on her end.

“I should’ve earlier but…”

…Ancestors, this is hard.

“Specialist, I really don’t have time to coddle you right now,” Kenmore’s voice over Sheppard’s radio cuts him off sharply.

And Ronon shuts his mouth. After a moment of silence…

“Ronon,” comes her voice again, in a far kinder voice. Saying his first name for the first time. It reminded him of how tender her bedside manner touch had been on his cheek back on the Goa’uld mothership. Peppermint and salt…

He stays silent.

“Thanks,” she says.

Ronon nods then bows his head, trying to hide the effects on his face of what’s just transpired from everyone else in the room’s eyes. Sheppard and Teyla smile.

“Let’s get to work,” Woolsey says and there’s definitely relief in it, although his words and voice are straight to the point and all business sounding. The man looked relieved.

At his words, the others continue to go ahead with the plan. Teyla and John rush down to the locker areas, Teyla retrieves her gear as well as her P-90 and a Wraith stun pistol and John retrieves both his gear and Lorne’s as well as their P-90s, a couple of Wraith pistols, and Ronon’s gun. Jennifer unplugs Rodney’s tablet and Robbins and she push Rodney’s bed to the nearest transporter on this level as Lorne stands guard at the top of the stairs eyeing both Jennifer and Robbins’ exit as well as Teyla and Sheppard’s. Zelenka informs Kenmore that he’s establishing a forcefield ‘cage’ around her including her quarters and the part of the hallway immediately in front of it to secure her just in case Anubis managed to overload his own trap while Johnson and Woolsey help Ronon carefully out of his chair. Ronon tried to shake them off, he didn’t see why he’d need their help now when he’d practically thrown himself out of his own medical bed when he saw the lightning bolt coming towards him, but they weren’t going away, maybe they thought he’d torn open some stitching or aggravated his healing internal injuries some. In fact, Jennifer Johnson took it personally; she knew he’d been avoiding her since she’d been put in charge of this station, replacing Amelia, his ex-girlfriend, but she hadn’t thought that he would try to shake off her help when he was so badly injured. By the time John and Teyla came back into view and race to the top of the steps, Lorne takes his gear from Sheppard, Johnson and Woolsey have walked Ronon to the Command Center’s entrance and Robbins is returning with Rodney’s empty medical bed. He tells Sheppard that Keller and Rodney are waiting at the transporter. John slips on his tacvest, puts his Wraith pistol in the holster strapped to his thigh, and hands Ronon his own blaster. Ronon takes the weapon and Johnson and Woolsey pass him over to John and the Colonel slips under his friends arm and wraps one of his own around just above the man’s still tender and healing torso. The two men head off the way Robbins had just come, under Teyla and Lorne’s watchful eyes as Teyla and Lorne slip on their own tacvests and see to their P-90s and Wraith pistols. Johnson, Woolsey, and Robbins head back into the Command Center.

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Episode Eight- Home Again, Part Two- Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

Ronon stands in the space in between his bed and Rodney’s. He looks around at the walls. There’s no more lightning, but sparks are still dripping from random scorch marks and slightly still burning bits of wall and ceiling all over the place, casting random flashes of golden light and fading glows from dying orange embers. He looks over at Rodney. McKay’s still breathing laboriously and still sleeping as contentedly looking as Ronon figures he can possibly look considering his condition. So that was good, Rodney suffered no more damage than what he already had. Ronon looks over at his own bed… or at least what’s left of it. The Earth-made medical bed constructed of soft cushions and a steel pipe frame has a giant hole through the center of it with blackened burned sheets around it. The middle of the frame crushed down in on itself as though a huge boulder had crashed down through it. Smoke’s still coming from the hole’s center in tall, stretching whispy plumes. Jennifer, Sheppard, Teyla, and Kenmore run in just as soon as the door’s open enough to let them through. Jennifer immediately bolts to Rodney’s side and begins checking him. Ronon feels a little twinge of hurt in the face of her complete ignorance of him as Sheppard, Teyla, and Kenmore slow to a stop at the sight of Ronon’s destroyed bed.

“Well nice to see you out of bed,” Sheppard comments with a single nod to his friend.

Yeah, Ronon knew that.

“What happened,” the Satedan asks.

“Anubis threw a temper tantrum,” Kenmore answers.

“And tried to overload the forcefields we had him trapped behind,” Sheppard adds.

Ronon nods, “Who’s idea was that?”

Kenmore raises her hand, “Sorry. My mistake, I didn’t anticipate him blowing a fuse.”

Ronon stares at her. Her words striking an ironic cord with him as the words he should have spoken to her. His mind flashing to the times he had the opportunity to speak to her. As soon as the others had come to their rescue in the computer room on Anubis’s ship. In the medical ward while he laid in bed fully awake and she laid in the bed right next to his recovering from her shoulder wound. Or when she sat on the edge of her medical bed a few feet away from him with Keller giving her a final checkup before releasing her back to easy but active duty. And there were multiple much shorter times in between those. He could have spoken up. Should have. Ronon keeps silent and just nods at her. She shrugs it off, oblivious.

“And Rodney,” Teyla asks urgently.

Jennifer relaxes slightly as she straightens back up and looks over at her. “He’s fine,” she tries to breathe calmly, but she had been panicked, so scared for him, and she was having trouble bringing her breathing and heart rate back under some mimic of control, “but he’s no longer safe here,” she informs them.

One of the burning, dripping scorch marks up near the ceiling of the wall behind her suddenly burps with more sparks and a quick intense flash of golden light. The others jump back from it as Jennifer throws her body over Rodney and covers him. When the aftershock round of Anubis-grade fireworks flickers out, the dying ember glow resumes over the shadowy room. After a moment, just to make sure the coast was clear, Jennifer slowly straightens back up as the others come out of their defensive crouches also. Sheppard glares at the offending scorch mark.

“I’d say that was right, but where do we put him. Even the Command Center took its fair share of hits,” he says.

Ronon stares at Sheppard. Sheppard catches the look in his friend’s eyes and shakes his head at him.

“Just some of the computers,” Sheppard pacifies. Ronon nods.

“Exactly, we take him to the Command Center.”

They all stare at Jennifer.

“You cannot be serious, Jennifer,” Teyla breaths at her, “The Command Center will be Anubis’s focus from now on. He now knows we can control his movements from there. He will try to stop us again.”

“It’s a good call,” Kenmore speaks up from behind Teyla and Sheppard.

They turn around to look at her. Ronon too. Again Kenmore looks back at the rest of the team she’s a part of like nothing’s wrong with Keller’s suggestion and why the hell were they complicating things more than they had to be. She genuinely looks like she believes what she just said: Doc Keller’s made a good call.

“She isn’t spread so thin there and the gateroom area is the most protected in the city especially during a lockdown. Anubis only blew up a couple of computers, he didn’t take a whack at the entire area like he did here.”

Well, Sheppard’d be damned, she had a point; perhaps that was Jennifer’s point too. He looks back at Jennifer.

“The Command Center is the best option,” the doctor repeats even more firmly than she’d said it in the first place.

“Don’t I get a say in this,” Rodney asks weakly.

Everyone looks over at him. He turns his head very gingerly and very slightly and looks back at them.

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Episode Eight- Home Again, Part Two- Chapter Six

Chapter Six

Never had the Gateroom’s Command Center been so haunted during the night shift. Richard Woolsey paces up and down the center of the small room. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard and Teyla Emmagan standing to one side of him, Major Evan Lorne and Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore standing on the other, and Doctor Jennifer Keller standing at one end of his short path with Doctor Radek Zelenka at the other. The former litigator looks strained, more strained than either Sheppard or Teyla have ever seen him before, and that was saying a lot considering all that the straight-laced, constantly rulebook carrying, uptight man has been through since taking over command of the Expedition of the Lost City; even Lorne and Kenmore with their dealings with him at the SGC have never seen Woolsey this on the brink of actual anger. Maybe even rage.

“And none of you knew about this,” he isn’t yelling at them, it’s his regular volume, but his tone is tense and sharp. And on the knife’s edge.

“We were all sort of distracted, you know, not trying to get blown up,” Sheppard comments, hoping that if he spoke in his usual mordant manner then Woolsey’s mentality would follow his lead. Instead…

Woolsey does a snap turn on his heels and bears down on Lieutenant Kenmore. She holds her ground, instantly snapping to stiff attention and stares through Woolsey’s throat just like Sheppard remembered being trained to do when a drillmaster was in your face.

“You are trained to observe even when wounded, did you forget that?” He shouts in her face. Practically spitting.

“No Sir,” her reply crisp, “McKay stayed at the computer, Sir. He never left it except to apparently plant the explosives meant for Colonel Sheppard and the rest of the mission team, Sir.”

“‘Apparently’?”

“I don’t know if he did anything else during that time, Sir.”

“Could he have sent a transmission to other Goa’uld?”

“I don’t know, but he did take his computer tablet with him, Sir.”

You don’t know? Why don’t you know!

Kenmore’s gaze suddenly breaks from its distant look and she stares directly into Woolsey’s dark eyes. Her brows pinched in confusion.

“I was tending to Specialist Dex, Sir,” she said it like wasn’t it obvious.

Woolsey isn’t backing off, “You couldn’t reach the computer in the room?”

“No Sir. Anubis put up a forceshield between it, Specialist Dex, and I. He also blocked the Specialist’s gun from us. The only direction he left open was the door.”

“And you didn’t follow him?”

“No Sir.”

“Why?”

“I was trying to drag Specialist Dex with me, Sir.”

“Why?”

“We don’t live our teammates behind.”… even if they don’t like you.

She said it as firmly and from the heart as would any other soldier of the SGC, and John was proud of her for it. Woolsey goes back to pacing. She’d uttered the one thing he couldn’t possibly argue with a soldier about.

“Perhaps you should have paid more attention to the computer while you had the time,” he barks at the floor.

Kenmore steps towards him, “My first priority was getting Specialist Dex out of there.”

Woolsey freezes and looks back at her, “And perhaps you were shot because you weren’t paying attention,” he reprimands.

Kenmore just stands there. Taking the hit. Woolsey goes back to pacing.

Teyla looks over at the Lieutenant, feeling that Woolsey’s last comment was too harsh. Yes, it had been a part of Teyla’s own biting comment minutes ago, but even then Teyla believed she herself had been out of line. Taking out her intense feeling of betrayal and the lingering sentiments of shame she’d had on the one person who believed so confidently in what they were doing that she never seemed to slow down this entire time. And Richard was right, he did not have the mission reports yet. None of them had had a chance to get anything written down before the connections were made and the evacuation was called for. He did not know the circumstances in which Kenmore had been shot. None of them truly did save for Lieutenant Kenmore, Ronon, and Rodney. In truth, no one was at fault here; the circumstances are just too stressful for them all to handle properly and the leader in Teyla sought to calm the situation and take Kenmore out of Woolsey’s line of fire. Ironic considering that she, John, Jennifer, and Ronon had just allied against both her and Lorne to protect Rodney from them. But… again… the Lieutenant had been right in questioning Rodney about Anubis’ motives, and she had… again… uncovered information that they had not previously known that was proving exceptionally important to them.

“Could the Wraith have captured them? We would not have had reports of other Goa’uld ships if they had,” Teyla offers.

“No,” Zelenka cuts in to her endeavor, “I am certain that there are no other Goa’uld in the Pegasus.”

Everyone looks at him.

“How do you know that,” Lorne asks.

“You said it yourself,” Radek tells him, “Anubis is not a Goa’uld anymore. He is an Ascended Being. I believe that he is trying to get back to the other Ascended.”

Kenmore steps towards him, “How do you mean?”

Zelenka walks back over to his computer console and sits down at it again. The others crowd around him.

“I have been tracking his movements, what systems he has been accessing, and they are all one of only two types of systems. Power or communication.”

“Communication? He’s trying to reach outside the city,” Woolsey asks, not understanding why Anubis could possibly be doing that if no other Goa’uld were here in the Pegasus Galaxy either with him or for him.

“No,” the scientist ends the train of that thought again, “He is trying to reach in.”

The scientist starts working on his laptop. When he stops, the others lean in. Some stare at the screen in confusion, others surprise, everyone taken aback a little.

“What,” Woolsey gapes, dumbstruck.

“He’s trying to activate the schoolroom?” Sheppard’s brows furrow at the screen. What the hell? All it ever does is bring up a nice looking woman who talks to you like you’re the dumbest child ever or some other nice looking woman who tells you how the Wraith kicked the Ancients’ asses during the war.

“It would make sense,” Radek says, “According to Doctor Jackson’s report, Vala Mal Doran’s report, and even Elizabeth Weir’s own report, that room is a gateway to wherever the Ascended Ancients reside.”

“He’s trying to go, well, home again,” Kenmore asks.

Zelenka nods, “He is rerouting every possible bit of power he can access towards that room.”

Sheppard starts nodding too, “That makes sense. It takes a lot of power to run it. We found that out our first half-hour here.”

“And if he gets it up and running…,” Lorne trails off, begging either his commanding officer or Zelenka to fill in the blank he couldn’t right now.

“I don’t know, but I don’t like the thought of it,” Sheppard leans forward, putting a hand on the back of Zelenka’s chair, “Is there any way for you to get ahead of him, start cutting him off at the passes?”

“I can try,” Radek shrugs.

He starts typing furiously. The screen starts showing random power systems shutting down. Suddenly the Atlantis’ central tower’s power systems start to flash red.

“He’s drawing power from the medical wards,” he announces, “I can shut them down, if you think Rodney is well enough to survive without them?”

He looks back at Jennifer. She considers it for a moment then nods her head. She reaches up to her earpiece as Zelenka returns to typing.

“Ronon, this is Jennifer.”

“Yeah,” he asks in his usual blunt manner.

“We’re going to shut down the medical equipment.”

*                      *                      *

The medical wards were a ghost town at night… and creepy too. Their isolation rooms weren’t any better. There was too much equipment that was foreign to him crowded into too small an area in the very center of the room. Only one way into the room. But someone could look in on you if they wanted to. In fact, the whole area reminded Ronon of being trapped in a cage. No, he didn’t feel comfortable here. Everything in this room, every part of it, kept reminding him how vulnerable he is in his current medical condition… And he hated that. Ronon sits in his bed staring over at the closed door and feeling the muscles in his neck already tense and tingling with the itching idea that someone, something was going to come through it at any moment and there wasn’t going to be anything Ronon could really do about it. And that sensation was only competing with the constant urge to check the observation gallery too. Sheppard would say that Ronon’s predicament was meant to make him think about how he ended up in here with Rodney, how he got shot… and how he got Kenmore shot. The predicament she had been put in where they had to rely uncomfortably, that was not a thing they liked to have to do, on her natural Ancient DNA-given ability to regenerate in order to save her arm from the very imminent threat of amputation it had been under. They were lucky… she was lucky… he was lucky she had the ability to regenerate. He knew these people were his friends and that this place was his home, but he hated to think what they’d do to him for shooting one of their own no matter how many people, which he’d come to discover was not as many as he’d thought, disliked her…  Damn it, it was making him think about how he’d got shot.

The lights and his and McKay’s medical equipment screens start flickering like crazy. This must be what it looked like when Jennifer’s computer started to shutdown. Even with his feelings about where he was and what’s going on around him, he still caught on to the concern in Jennifer’s voice.

“I’ll still keep an eye on McKay,” he tells her surprisingly gently. He hadn’t meant it to sound like that.

After a moment of silence, the medical equipment shuts off followed shortly by the lights. The entire room is plunged into blinding darkness. And he knows the radio connection’s been severed. It takes a moment for Ronon’s eyes to adjust to the practically sensory depriving blackness. He looks around himself. There is no comfortable, natural hum through the walls of the city running at night that usually lulled him to sleep, although he had fought off giving in to such a comfort when he first stated living in Atlantis. All he can hear is McKay’s labored breathing now that his respiration equipment’s been shut down. Ronon looks over at McKay. Sitting here in the dark, looking over at him… like this… It all reminded Ronon of when Rodney was dying of that parasite that had been in his head and quickly stripped his friend of his memories rendering the scientist into a state of second childhood. It had been hard then… to watch. Less hard than now. At least then Rodney had been awake, alert enough, to let them know what was going wrong. How far things were going downhill for him, how fast. But this…  No, this is much worse. Rodney’s body is so weak he needed to keep it in a perpetually state of sleep just to keep both it and him going, alive.

“Hold in there, Buddy.” Now he meant that to come out as gently as it did.

*                      *                      *

Zelenka stops typing, looks up at Woolsey, and nods.

“Keep going,” Richard tells him.

Radek goes back to typing. His screen shows more systems shutting down… and others trying to start back up. John points to one of them.

“What’s that?”

Zelenka doesn’t miss a beat in his typing to answer Sheppard, “He’s trying to access systems that have already been shut down.”

“Can he do that,” Teyla asks.

Radek shakes his head, “No, those systems require physical activation.”

“But they’re flickering,” Sheppard echoes Teyla’s concern.

“I did not say he could not try,” the Czech scientist keeps his focus on his work.

His computer screen shows more and more systems shutting down and more and more trying to reactivate. More systems are shutting down than can be reactivated though. Radek is winning. He smiles. Suddenly his computer screen’s map of the city and its systems show one wall starting to glow brighter and brighter with power. His smile disappears.

“There is an energy spike in the north pier of the city, the east corridor, one of the walls,” he says.

“Are there any security cameras in that area,” Sheppard asks.

Radek checks.

“Yes. It is pointed right at the wall.”

“Show us,” Woolsey orders.

In a few short taps, he brings up the camera’s view.

*                      *                      *

The hallway’s dark stained copper, block-style lights are on and starting to glow brighter and brighter, surging with the power in its sea green textured walls. Just when the lights’ clear crystal slats seem so bright that you’d think the bulbs, if there had been bulbs in them, were about to explode, a giant cloud of shadow bursts out of a segment of the wall between two solid cement-colored beams. It hangs there for a moment, undulating in midair like an evil version of the Stargate’s event horizon, then starts to float down the corridor.

*                      *                      *

The group stares at the view of the cloud in front of the wall then the cloud starts to move and it travels out of the camera’s view.

“Are there any more cameras in that corridor,” Woolsey orders quickly.

“Yes,” Radek nods.

“Bring them up.”

Several small windows come up on the computer screen in columns and rows, each with a different view of the corridor Anubis is traveling through. Sheppard points at the top right corner screen.

“There he is.”

The cloud moves out of view of that camera and is picked up on another. Kenmore leans in.

“Is there any way you can use the corridor junction forcefields to trap him?”

Zelenka nods.

“I think I can.”

Sheppard looks over at her, “We have those?”

Kenmore nods, “You should. The Ancients liked to trap things or haven’t you taken a look at your brig lately?”

As Zelenka works, his computer screen shows an energy build up at halfway down the hallway Anubis is traveling down. When the two wall ends of the junction start to glow brightly on his computer screen indicating an optimal power build up, Zelenka presses a button.

*                      *                      *

The black cloud glides down the hallway heading towards the end of it when a pale lavender-blue forcefield several feet ahead spreads across the hallway, blocking the rest of it from Anubis. The cloud stops and waits as though it’s considering what it’s ‘seeing’. Then it starts to back up, speeding back up the hallway it had just come down.

*                      *                      *

Teyla starts, her eyes bulge. Lorne and Woolsey stare at the computer screen surprised, that hadn’t expected Anubis to do that. The last time he was at the SGC he was more of a combination of deception and direct aggression. And Zelenka eyes the screen as though what he were seeing is a trick, that there has to be more to this, something else going on here that he didn’t know about and wasn’t going to like finding out later when it was too late.

“He’s running away,” Sheppard can’t believe it. Wasn’t this guy supposed to be a big bad? A really big bad.

Kenmore leans even further forward. Her hand now on the back of Radek’s chair too, alongside Sheppard’s.

“Is there another junction ahead of him we can block off,” she asks, keeping her eyes on the screen.

Radek nods as he returns to controlled-frenzy typing, “I am already there.”

*                      *                      *

Another forcefield suddenly spreads across the far, far end of the corridor ahead of the black cloud. Anubis slows slowly down to a stop. Then he hangs there in midair for a moment. Pausing once more as though considering the forcefield. Then backs up a few feet and dives to his right down a whole new hallway.

*                      *                      *

Everyone closes in around Zelenka. More hands now on the top of the back of his chair than the top of his chair can fit. This is a very ironic game of cat-and-mouse to everyone present. For all the Goa’uld were, for all the threat that each one had individually presented themselves as and presented as a group to Earth and the SGC, especially Anubis himself, for it all to be rendered down to this, a simple labyrinthian game of capture… it was mind-blowing. It was like taking Ocean’s Eleven or Twelve or Thirteen and making them play a shell game in a casino’s pit. An elaborate setting with plenty of ways to get out with plenty of top players on either side, but the simplest rules and object of the game ever. There was something very vast and dangerous about all this, but also something so insanely inane that it evokes the sort of gut reaction of butterflies in your stomach from playing a game of chicken with a couple of cars on a desolate stretch of back road in the middle of nowhere. No help if something goes wrong, people waiting for you back wherever you came from or wherever you’re going to when you decided to start playing this stupid game. Just you and the other car. Isolated. So many things that could go wrong. Straightforward.

“Block that one,” Kenmore orders.

Zelenka keeps typing, his focus never leaving the computer screen. He brings up the map of the city and her systems again. The walls of the end junction of the new hallway start to glow. Swiftly close off. The glowing cloud of raspberry pink light indicating Anubis’s lifesign on the map of the city starts to retreat from its closed off exit again. The speed of the hazy dot… it’s just barreling back up the hallway to the old one it had fled. Zelenka brings up the small grid of the views from the four cameras that monitor that area of corridor. Another junction, one in clear view of one of the cameras, starts to glow as Anubis’s indicator quickly closes in on it. The junction reaches its maximum point and Zelenka activates its forcefield.

*                      *                      *

The lavender-blue forcefield bursts across the hallway and in the split of a heartbeat, Anubis slams on the brakes.

*                      *                      *

Everyone’s startled, Sheppard and Kenmore reeling back from Radek and his computer screen. Then Kenmore cagily, as though she thought the black cloud might be able to come through the computer’s screen and grab her, extends out her finger and reaches out to point at the view.

“Did you see that,” she says.

“Do not forget that Anubis can go through the floor,” Teyla warns, her espresso eyes sliding over to look at the back of Radek’s eager head.

“And the walls,” Lorne nods, warning his friend too.

After a few moments of computer keys clicking, the floor on the map begins to wave gently with blue-green light like the surface of a lake being gently rippled by a breeze caressingly gliding over it. In the camera’s view, Anubis begins to leisurely veer dangerously close to a wall. Then the map’s lines of the walls start to appear to be reverberating in the same blue-green light as the floor. Anubis quickly juts back into the middle of the hallway. Waiting there again.

“He doesn’t like the forcefields,” Kenmore says slowly, “…  It’s the energy. It’s gotta be.”

“What,” Sheppard looks over at her.

She returns the favor, “Ancients when they Ascend just become energy, right. Remember.  What are the forcefields made of?”

He nods, catching on.

“They’re made up of energy too. He can’t go through them.”

“Maybe the energies don’t mix. Different frequencies. It might tear him apart if he tries.”

“Well then, for the time being, that means he’s trapped,” Sheppard finally straightens back up, crossing his arms over his chest, and feeling for the first time this entire mission-gone-awry a sense of confidence and security; control, “About time we had some good news.”

Then Anubis’s indicator on the map starts glow brighter. And brighter. Fast.

*                      *                      *

The black cloud floats in the middle of the corridor just paces away from a shimmering pale lavender-blue forcefield. Without warning giant bolts of white hot electricity trimmed in brilliant sky-blue bursts from it. Their ragged tips slam into the walls and floors, sending up explosions of golden-white sparks.

*                      *                      *

Radek squints his eyes, turning his head away slightly at the bright flashes almost whiting out the screen. Kenmore reels back too, wincing. The others around them just recoil a bit.

“My God,” Woolsey mutters, bringing up his hand to try and block the searing light from his eyes while still trying to see the computer screen whenever the rest of its view comes back into focus.

Kenmore straightens up, her eyes narrowed against the same brilliance, “Aw, let him throw his little temper tantrum.”

The walls and floor on the computer screen’s map start to glow brighter. A look of panic shoots across Zelenka’s face, he practically throws himself at the computer. Furiously typing again.

“He is trying to overload the forcefields. It is causing massive feedbacks throughout the entire power grid,” he blurts.

A computer console behind them suddenly explodes in a shower of sparks. They all duck and look back at it. Suddenly the console right next to it explodes. Then the one next to that. With each explosion, the group retreats step by step further into the middle of the room. The computers blowing in a clockwise semi-circle around them. Kenmore turns around and yanks Zelenka to his feet back away from his console moments before it explodes right in front them, annihilating the laptop he had been using sitting on top of it. There aren’t any more exploding computers after that one. Apparently Anubis felt he could stop after he finally found the one computer in Atlantis giving him trouble and taking it out. They look around themselves. Half the room’s computers have been blown out.

“Apparently he can still effect the forcefields, he just can’t touch them,” Sheppard raises his voice over the noise of exploded computers still sputtering their destruction.

“Did he bring down the forcefields,” Woolsey asks.

Radek runs over to one of the remaining unexploded computer consoles, the second level one nearest the entryway to the bridge leading to the door to Woolsey’s office and the only other one in the room with a laptop already connected to it. He leans over the laptop and presses a few buttons, staring tensely at its screen. Then relaxes.

“No,” he says and even though it’s loud enough to be heard over the din, it stills sounds breathless. Thankful.

Kenmore looks over at Sheppard. “Well, apparently, he can’t,” she says.

Sheppard nods at her. Lucky for them. Woolsey continues to address Zelenka…

“Did any other power surges happen in the city?”

Zelenka goes back to typing. This time when he stops, he doesn’t relax.

“Yes…,” the dread in his voice, he looks up at them, “The medical wards.”

Lorne and Woolsey stare at him. Keller, Sheppard, Teyla, and Kenmore all run for the exit.

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Episode Eight- Homecoming, Part Two- Chapter Five

Chapter Five

As night continues to engulf the city, wrapping it in the dark of a cloudless and moonless night, the darkness ironically makes the light of the Atlantis’ Command Center that much brighter as though that room were being lit by the bright natural light of day and not by the unnatural light of active computer banks. And the center’s extraordinary light only serves to enhance the even darker gloom of the gateroom below it. The massive room, normally illuminated by sunlight or even dusklight filtering through its myriad stained glass windows, is dark, foreboding, and looking like a tomb waiting to be opened… or sealed.

Kenmore sits on the lip of Zelenka’s computer console with her arms crossed over her chest while Zelenka looks up at Woolsey standing in the middle of the room with Lorne standing a few feet behind him. Teyla, gaping at Woolsey, walks around Lorne to face him.

“You cannot do that to him.”

“I agree with Teyla,” Radek says, “Rodney is in no condition to be interrogated.”

“It’s not an interrogation,” Kenmore tells them, “We just have to question him.”

Teyla turns on Kenmore, “No! Rodney is still too sick.”

“We have to Teyla. After Anubis let them go, the victims remembered what they did when he was in control of them. What he wanted.”

I told you he doesn’t remember anything.”

“And neither did the victims… at first.”

“Teyla,” Lorne intervenes with a gentle voice at the sight of the Athosian biting her lip and balling her fists at her side and just as she was taking a step towards Kenmore, “it’s an option we have to take.”

Teyla’s head snaps to him. Her mouth hanging open in shock. Her eyes wide with something akin to accusation and betrayal… and hurt.

“You cannot possibly be agreeing with this,” she breathes at him, “Major Lorne, Evan, Rodney is your friend. I am your friend.”

Lorne’s expression turns panged, Aw damn. She used his first name, she never does that with him. Not even when she was pregnant and taking on a Wraith Queen with one-on-one telepathy. She’d called for Sheppard to help her. He wasn’t Sheppard. He wasn’t John. And when she was pregnant and trying to find Kanaan and the rest of her people with only a necklace her lover had given her as lead…  Suddenly Lorne found it hard to swallow.

“This isn’t about whose friends with whom, Teyla,” Kenmore says behind her.

Teyla, suddenly brimming with rage, turns again on the Lieutenant, “Perhaps if it were, you would not have been shot,” she spits.

Kenmore stands up, unfolding her arms. Ursula’s own fire matching Teyla’s, although coming across far more restrained.

“Plenty of my friends were in those tanks and in the same sickbeds McKay is in the last time Anubis attacked. And we all worked together despite the strain, despite the pain, despite the personal feelings, to bring him down. I was shot because none of you can take orders from anyone but yourselves.”

Woolsey hesitates, watching the friction between the two women for a moment, before speaking.

“Do it Lieutenant.”

Teyla turns to Woolsey. How could they all be doing this to Rodney? To them?

“Richard,” she begs.

At least he does her the honor and respect of facing her, looking her in the face, in the eyes…

“I’m sorry Teyla, but it has to be done.”

…when he betrays her faith and trust too.

Woolsey swallows hard and looks up to meet Lorne eye to eye.

“Major, you and Lieutenant Kenmore have my permission to question Doctor McKay.”

Lorne nods his head and without hesitation heads for the stairs with Kenmore right behind him. Woolsey watches them leave then looks at Teyla. Her shocked expression has never left him. She lets one more second hold between them as she closes her mouth then follows Kenmore and Lorne out, her fists still balled tightly by her sides. Richard Woolsey watches her go, taking a moment to himself realizing that he’s put a dangerous division in his lead team… and between his lead team and himself, before turning his attention to Doctor Radek Zelenka still sitting at the computer console.

“What system is Anubis checking now,” the former attorney asks.

The Czech scientist turns his attention to his computer screen. Pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose again, “Several actually.” Radek points to his computer screen. Woolsey steps towards him and the two men pour over the details.

*                      *                      *

Teyla walks down the darkened hallway, lined on either side by large rectangular panels painted brown then speckled turquoise with silver raised Ancient reliefs as borders and a central medallion. Although in the poor lighting of the dimly illuminating crystal slats embedded in the variety of short and tall wall lights that covered every possible bend or minute curve of the hallway’s path, everything looked black and gray. Alone, determined and with a surer stride than any she has ever used in Atlantis before, she reaches up to her radio link in her ear and presses it.

“Teyla to Colonel Sheppard.”

“Sheppard here.”

“They are coming to interrogate Rodney.”

*                      *                      *

Jennifer and Sheppard freeze just before they were going to plant the brakes on Ronon’s bed. Ronon tries to look back at them but he’s sure the same dismayed expression is on their faces as much as it is his.

“This is going too far,” Sheppard says. Yep, Ronon knew it for sure now.

“I agree. Keep them away from Rodney, I am on my way.”

Sheppard closes the link. They straighten up. Jennifer starts looking around.

“What are we going to do? We can’t move him. He’s unstable enough as it is.”

Sheppard starts looking around the isolation room too. But that’s just it, it’s an isolation room. It’s one massive open room made up of black walls and steel grated flooring with nothing in it but what they chose to bring in with them when they put something in here in the first place, granted there’s a giant bank of windows up on the second story part of the right side wall indicating there’s an observation room up there and there’s only the one thick steel door into the room. There’s no way to barricade themselves in here by any means and think they weren’t snakes in a very constricting barrel. Suddenly Sheppard gets an idea.

“How unstable? Not too unstable?”

Keller looks at him.

“There’s no such thing as ‘too unstable’. He’s unstable. That’s it.”

Sheppard looks at her with a little more emphasis and she catches on to his expression. She stiffens up.

“No,” she tells him.

“C’mon Jennifer. They want to interrogate him. We have to hide him and we can’t do it here.”

“He can’t be moved,” she restates.

“Just like we couldn’t take him to a cave or perform surgery on his brain there?”

Keller pauses a moment. Sheppard has got her there, but she’s still no less comfortable with the situation here then she was with the situation then.

“We can’t trust them anymore,” Ronon backs up Sheppard.

Jennifer looks from man to man, still uncomfortable with the situation.

“We don’t have Jeannie here and we can’t call her. He’s your boyfriend, your patient, it’s your call,” Sheppard can see that he has to go the extra pleading step further, “We have to protect him, Doc.”

It doesn’t take a whole lot of prodding beyond that.

“We have to be quick and we have to be gentle,” she warns him.

Sheppard nods then Keller and Sheppard race over to Rodney’s bed and start transitioning his equipment to allow them to move his bed. Sheppard calls back over his shoulder.

“Ronon, stall them.”

“Stall who,” comes Lorne’s voice from beyond Ronon.

Sheppard looks up and sees Lorne standing just a step into the room with Kenmore beside him. Sheppard exchanges looks with Ronon. Keller, who seemed temporarily frozen by the sound of Lorne’s voice, finally starts to move again. She slowly stands up and looks at the two new arrivals and braces as though she just got caught by the school principal in the worst way possible. Ronon and Sheppard look back at Lorne and Kenmore. Lorne repeats himself.

“Stall who,” he asks.

In the silence, Kenmore walks away from Lorne’s side and heads over to Rodney. Sheppard blocks him from her.

“We need the information,” she unflinchingly stares him dead-on.

“I won’t let you hurt him,” Ronon says from behind her.

Kenmore looks back at him. “And who else will get hurt because you’re trying to help,” she asks him.

Ronon looks angry, but stays silent. He knows the Lieutenant is outmanned, and frankly in his opinion outgunned, even if she didn’t know it yet. He did. Kenmore returns her attention to the Colonel.

“Anubis is in the city—“

“And that’s your fault,” Sheppard barks at her, shoving a finger in her face.

Kenmore lets that slide, “We need to know what he wants here.”

“I already told Mister Woolsey that Rodney doesn’t remember anything from when Anubis took possession of his body,” Jennifer jumps in, desperate sounding. Splaying her hands a few inches over Rodney’s body like that was going to be enough to protect him from the others. Kenmore looks over at her.

“After a while the victims started to remember things, even the one who held Anubis the longest. We need McKay to remember now.”

Sheppard eyes her. Kenmore’s expression, the tone of her voice, the affect in it… Damn it, even she was trying to plead a case with Keller.

“No,” Jennifer stops that in its tracks—to John’s relief—, “I can’t let you do this.”

“Neither will I,” Sheppard seconds defiantly in the face of the Lieutenant’s glance.

“Nor I,” Teyla thirds from the isolation room’s entrance.

Lorne jumps at the sound of the voice so close behind him. He and Kenmore look back at the just arrived Teyla Emmagan. Her defiance no less strong than the others. Lorne looks back at Kenmore.

“You won’t win,” Ronon warns them.

Kenmore looks over at him, “This isn’t about winning, and it’s about surviving.” She looks back at Lorne.

He nods at her.

“We have Woolsey’s permission,” he then informs them all.

Sheppard stares at him. For once, the Colonel’s eyes look like there’s hurt in them, betrayal.

“Major,” he says.

“I’m sorry Colonel. We went over your head.”

Kenmore starts to move further towards McKay, but Sheppard grabs her. She fights him until suddenly Rodney starts gasping. Jennifer immediately starts checking him. They freeze.

“He’s having trouble breathing,” Jennifer shouts. Without looking up, “Teyla, get me the little glass bottle with the bright blue label from the table behind Ronon’s bed and one of the syringes. Go! Now!”

Abruptly Kenmore yanks free from Sheppard, walks around him to the medical bed, grabs Rodney by the throat, and lifts up his chin. McKay’s breathing is still raspy, but it’s no longer strained in distress. Keller stares at her, but Kenmore keeps her focus on McKay.

“My Mother was a MASH nurse during Vietnam. I learned a lot from her. Doctor McKay?”

“Don’t,” Jennifer begs breathlessly, her voice on the pitiful brink of whimpering. Her eyes darting from Rodney’s face to Kenmore’s. She didn’t know how long he’d stay like this and she there are so many questions she needs to ask him. Was the treatment working? Was it not? How much pain is he in? Where does it hurt? How much pain?…

Kenmore doesn’t look up at her, “Doctor McKay, we need to know what Anubis wants?”

“I, I don’t remember,” McKay wheezes weakly. He sounded like an old man on Death’s door.

“Yes you do,” she tells him calmly, confidently.

McKay shifts beneath her grasp. She reasserts herself over him. Leaning further, closer over his face. Tightening her grip on his throat just a hair and lifting his chin back up the half-inch it managed to droop in her hands.

“Stop,” Jennifer demands. Finally finding something of her voice.

“Doctor McKay, Anubis is in the city. We need to know what he wants here. You have to remember.”

Pain contorts across his face. His arms and legs shift limply. Trying to shake Kenmore off. Too weak to do so. Jennifer can’t take anymore. She starts gasping. Opens her mouth to shout. Then he speaks.

“The others.”

“Others?” Kenmore rises sharply from him, confused by his answer. Her grip loosening a little.

“He wants to… to reach them… city the… only… only way… others…,” Rodney trails off as he falls back into sleep. His breathing still rattling in his throat and lungs like bare bones being dragged across a series of metal bars.

Kenmore slowly lets go of his throat; his head settles back down into its regular position. She turns to look at the others. Her eyes wide, her mouth slack jawed. How could none of them have known that this had happened? The SGC? The IOA? The Trust? No one? How?

“There are more Goa’uld in the Pegasus,” she breathes, disturbed. How?

Teyla reaches Jennifer’s side and hands her the small clear bottle bearing a bright blue label and a syringe still in its clear crackling wrapper.

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