Fic: Into Thin Air (Part 2 of 2) (McKay/Sheppard, Lorne/Kemp, NC-17)
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard, Lorne/Kemp
Word Count: ~18,200
Disclaimer: I do not own these people. If I did SGA would still be in production.
Author's Notes: Lieutenant Kemp (played by Niall Matter) appears in two episodes: Be All My Sins Remember'd and Tabula Rasa. He looked cute working with Lorne. With grateful thanks to my friend Dusty, who stepped in at the last minute when my original beta reader, Yvonne, was taken ill.
Summary: Set between Intruder and Runner. Teyla has always been accompanied by Sgt. Bates before; now she has Sheppard and McKay plus two people new to the Pegasus Galaxy.
( Into Thin Air - Part 1 of 2 )
Teyla hurried up the main stairs and met Elizabeth in the doorway to her office. "I need to talk to you, urgently," she said very quietly, laying a hand on her shoulder and guiding her back to her desk. "Something has happened to the Colonel, Doctor McKay, Major Lorne and Lieutenant Kemp. When we retired for the night they were in the four person bedroom opposite where Marta and I had been assigned to sleep. When they didn't appear to take part in the trade negotiations, and we could not get an answer from banging on the door. Some workmen were assigned to take the door off. Not only were the four men missing, but also the floor, walls and furniture. I believe that it must be an Ancient facility, and that they were quartered inside a very large transporter. I came to enlist some help in trying to find out where they have gone. I would suggest no gene carriers be involved - just in case."
Elizabeth, with an appalled expression on her face, abruptly sat down and just stared at her for a moment. Then pulling herself together with a visible effort, she touched her earpiece and asked Doctor Zelenka to come to her office. A moment later she gave the same message to Captain Merrick.
The two men followed one another inside the office a few minutes later, Elizabeth waved a hand across the sensor on her desk to close the door, then said, "Teyla, would you please tell Doctor Zelenka and Captain Merrick what you have just told me."
Teyla repeated the story of the disaster that had occurred and when she had finished Zelenka slumped back in his seat, unable to think coherently for a minute or two.
Then he took a deep breath, and said, "You are right we should not take any gene carriers with us, or at least not any strong or natural ones. I will need at least one who can operate a life sign detector. If we can get the Antagii to evacuate the building, we might be able to find them that way. I will make sure that he, or she, does not enter any of the rooms or closets there, and I shall do my best to discover what has happened to our friends. I will go, get ready, when I return we go to Antag. Ano?"
"Yes. I will have an escort waiting for you by the time you return," Elizabeth assured him.
Radek got to his feet and left the office, speaking to Doctor Simpson on the radio as he disappeared from their view.
Elizabeth then turned her attention to the grim-faced Captain Merrick. "Captain, I need you to pick a team to accompany Doctor Zelenka to Antag. Please do not include any gene carriers, even if it means splitting up some teams to accommodate this request. Please explain to them why the gene carriers can not, under any circumstances, be allowed near that building. Also, please warn them about gossiping about it off world, and in any communications sent back to Earth. It would be unhelpful and counterproductive to be asked questions to which, as yet, we have no answers."
"Yes Ma'am! I'll get a team up here ASAP and make sure that everyone understands the situation."
"Thank you, Captain, I'll leave everything in your capable hands." Merrick gave her a quick nod, turned and moved quickly away, already talking to someone on his radio.
Unable to sit still Elizabeth walked out to the balcony and stared unseeingly at the horizon while she conquered the rising panic inside her. She couldn't help thinking about whether the expedition would survive for long if they didn't manage to find the missing men... her missing friends.
Suddenly realizing that she had deserted Teyla, she went back to her office to find her friend drinking a cup of tea, another cup of the brew standing on her desk, waiting for her to return. Elizabeth sat back in her chair. "Sorry about deserting you..."
Teyla put her cup down. "I can understand why you left, Elizabeth. When I realized that John and the others were missing, I really wanted to hit something, or someone, and I found it a great struggle not to be unforgivably rude to people who were only trying to help. We must find them.... We must!"
Captain Merrick knocked on the door frame to gain their attention. "Doctor Weir, ma'am, Captain Candelli's team is waiting by the gate. They have one weak gene carrier, to use the L.S.D. the other three members do not even have the recessive marker that could be turned on."
"Thank you Captain, I appreciate your care and attention to detail. We are just waiting for Doctor Zelenka to..."
"We are here, Doctor Weir," Zelenka said, hidden from their view by the well built Marine Captain.
Elizabeth and Teyla got to their feet, and whilst the former stayed on the control level and told the gate technician to dial out to Antag; Teyla walked swiftly down to the Gate Room floor, Zelenka at her side.
As soon as the event horizon was stable, Elizabeth called out, "Captain Candelli, you have a go!"
Candelli acknowledged the order with a snappy salute, then said, "Let's go." and walked through the blue 'puddle' the others following on his heels.
Rather to Teyla's surprise Tarl was waiting for them by the Gate. He got to his feet as Teyla introduced him to Captain Candelli, then the Antagii guide led them by the shortest route through the forest to the village.
As soon as they came into sight, Maga and Gosti hurried forward to greet them. "It is good to see you back so soon," Gosti greeted them. "We welcome those who have come to find those who disappeared."
"Thank you, Councillor Gosti." Teyla replied formally. "May I introduce you?"
Teyla walked Gosti and Maga along the line she had asked the team to make, touching each person on the shoulder as she named them. "This is Captain Pietro Candelli, who is the leader of our escort, and his team who will assist the scientists when required. They are: Lieutenant Aldo Sordi, Lieutenant Mark Weston and Lieutenant Marina Westcott. This is Doctor Zelenka, who is the lead scientist for this mission, Doctor Irene Simpson, and Doctor Robert Burton."
"Would you like some refreshment before you start?" Maga asked.
Doctor Zelenka shook his head. " I thank you, but no. I wish to see the room from where Rodney and the others disappeared, as soon as possible. In case we can find any clues to what happened."
Maga bowed her head in understanding. "Of course, if you will all come with me, I will take you there." She led them quickly through the hallways to where Wollon and Marta were still standing guard. "Teyla, and I, left our people here to make sure that nobody entered the room before you were able to arrive."
"Thank you, both of you." Zelenka smiled at them. "We will get out our instruments and see what we can discover." He shrugged off his backpack and started extracting some very odd looking pieces of equipment, Simpson and Burton followed his example. Leaving their backpacks on the floor, they pointed their gadgets into the empty room and switched them on.
Maga turned to Candelli. Captain, may I borrow one of your men to help Wollon fetch a table so they have somewhere to put their packs."
"Of course. Weston, please give Wollon a hand with the table."
"Yes, Sir." He unclipped his P-90 and handed it to Westcott, then gestured for Maga to lead the way. "After you," he said politely.
A few minutes later, Wollon and Weston reappeared carrying a table between them, which they placed next to the open doorway. Next they fetched enough chairs so everyone could have one to sit on if they wanted. Then everyone settled down to wait.
While Rodney muttered to himself about the consoles either he, or John, had managed to activate; pausing only when John took one of the fifteen minute check-in calls from Lorne or Kemp which continued until the two men arrived back at the Ancient facility. When it was obvious that the radios were going to continue to work, the scope of their original 'there and back again' plan had been widened to include taking a quick look around the village while they were there, and they had eventually returned over three hours after they had departed.
"Anything interesting to report?" John asked as they came inside.
"The road surface to and from the village is quite steep, and rough in places. In the village some of the houses look as if they are still intact; and there are some large buildings, near a harbor, which also look whole. We tried to look in the windows, but there seem to be shutters over them all, and we didn't want to risk trying to open them without Doctor McKay's permission, they feel Ancient and definitely have solar panels on their roofs. We could see them shining whilst walking down the hill. The harbor itself is in good repair, but it obviously hasn't seen water in aeons, neither has the river which ran through the village. If it wasn't for a bridge over the almost obliterated river bed, I wouldn't have recognized it as such." Lorne reported. "Also, I think that it might start getting dark soon, our shadows on the return journey were significantly longer than when we started out."
The lights in the room started to emit a soft glow. "Okay, we have lights," Rodney announced. He pointed to a panel near the door just like the ones found on Atlantis. "Each room appears to be controlled individually, so remember to switch the lights off when you leave a room and not waste any power. However the hallways, and public rooms, should stay at least dimly lit while it is dark outside."
"So no blundering around in the dark..." John asked.
I'm not going to guarantee that until we've been here a bit longer," Rodney told him, "And, John, please remember which systems we've switched on today.... so that you can remind yourself, and me if necessary, to make sure they are all switched off before we leave here."
John nodded, then caught the eyes of his men, "Talking of leaving.... While you were inspecting the village, I made an inventory of our food supplies. We have enough for the four of us for at least seven days, so we need to find a source of food before then. Did either of you notice any signs of animals, large birds or fruits on your trek today?"
Lorne grimaced slightly before replying. "We did notice some trees which probably had been planted in rows originally on the other side of the village, and some groups of bushes which looked as if they could be fruit-bearing. Beyond that is a fairly hilly forested area, which might bear looking at if we can find an easy way to get there. If we have to walk, then I don't think it would be a good idea, unless it was either a very cloudy day, or we went out early one morning and stayed there until the evening of the next day. It was a lot hotter in that valley than it is up here even though there was quite a strong wind at times; it wasn't a cooling one."
Rodney spoke up in the ensuing silence. "I've got some good news, some not so good news, and some bad news. Which would you like first?"
"Take your pick, Rodney."
"In that case, John, I'll start with the good news: There is a Stargate on this planet, and it's on the same continent as us. The not so good part is that the continent is rather large so it will take us a while to get there." He paused to see if there were any comments forthcoming, when nobody said anything, he went on "The somewhat bad news is that the 'day' is approximately thirty-six hours long. In this area, in spring and autumn the hours are fairly evenly split between day and night; on the other hand, Winter has ten hours of daylight to twenty-six hours of night, and Summer, of course, has the opposite, a ten hour night, etcetera. So, tomorrow, we are going to have to start establishing a few things. One; what time is sunrise, noon and sunset, we'll have to take readings over a few days so we can work out, more or less, which season we are in at the moment...."
"Shit!" John cursed almost under his breath. "Right then that's one task for us: The second is we need to take a close look at the trees and bushes and see if their fruits are edible. Last, but not least, we need to take a look at the warehouses, factories or shipyards near the harbor to see if there is anything in them that we can utilize to make a vehicle of some kind to cut down the time between here and the Stargate. That's three things to do. What else do we need to add to the list?"
"How do you propose to do all those things?" Rodney asked, sounding rather sarcastic.
"Well, for the first I have a question for you. Is there a timepiece here that is calibrated for the thirty-six hour day?"
Rodney nodded to an odd looking protuberance on the wall. "That's a clock. It started up when we managed to get the power on in here. I know how it works, and adjusted the time to match the time on my watch, which works on Atlantis time. I've been keeping an eye on it while I've been working in here - the hour length is the same as on Atlantis."
"Okay, so you show us how to adjust the time. Then we take the time at dawn by our watches. We note the time at noon then adjust the clock to eighteen hours, zero minutes - then take the time at sunset we will then be able to work out when sunrise should occur the next day."
Rodney laughed. "Okay, I'll give you that one. How about the food thing?"
John grinned back at him for a moment or two, then said. "The art of finding out if something is edible, is part of our training."
"All three of us are USAF officers who have served in a combat zone, and since we are pilots of one kind or another, we are vulnerable to being shot down. One of the courses we all do is SERE training. S.E.R.E. is a military acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape; and as part of 'survival' we are taught the proper way of testing vegetation and fruits for edibility. it's better if there is at least two people to do the testing. One person to do the actual tests, the other takes care of the tester if there is a problem. Obviously, you can do it alone but it takes longer and you have to be even more careful.
"The other thing we all have in common, is that we all have at least one Masters' degree in a science. It's a requirement be promoted past Captain. Major Lorne is a geologist, and would be one of the first to arrive at a location where our commanders have decided that a landing strip is in need of repairs, or a completely new one needs to be built. As well as being able to use a theodolite, he would often be called upon to fly an aircraft; even into combat if necessary.
"Lieutenant Kemp has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, the ink is just about dry on the paperwork. Before joining the S.G.C. he was flying in combat in Afghanistan." John grinned when both Kemp and Lorne chuckled. "I've flown in more than one combat zone, that's why I have all those pretty ribbons you were so curious about on my dress uniform. And, since I've outed my two officers, I suppose I had better own up to a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering, and a second in Mechanical Engineering. So I think between the four of us we ought to be able to build something useful if the materials are available."
His stunned surprise at their academic achievements gave way to a kind of anger, at himself more than them, that even though he'd worked with Sam Carter, he had never considered how really smart other members of the military could be. Rodney scowled at the three grinning Air Force officers, then grimaced. "Why should I be surprised?" he asked looking up at the ceiling. "After all, I've put up with Jack O'Neill playing dumb for years - now I've got three more of you." He took a deep breath to shake off his irritation. "Have you decided what you're going to do about standing watch?"
John's expression turned serious. "As the sun has only just gone down, we have at the very least nine hours before we need to watch for the sunrise. We found the proximity alarms while we were looking around this room earlier, so I suggest we set them, and all get some sleep; because I feel really tired as if I didn't get enough sleep last night. Let's face it we have no idea how long we slept before I woke up, walked into a wall that hadn't been there before, and woke everyone else up. So let's turn out the lights and get some sleep. I'll set my alarm to wake me in eight and a half hours, I don't usually sleep longer than that. If you need to, then set your alarms for twelve hours, and we can all have breakfast together."
"I can get behind that," Lorne stated. "I definitely need some sleep."
"Okay then, I'll lock the outer door and set the alarms." John pushed the buttons on the console they had labeled earlier. "Now that part's done let's get back to our quarters and get settled in for the night." He slung his arm around Rodney's shoulders gave him a quick hug. "I know you're as tired as I am, so don't argue... please."
Rodney gave a deep sigh, then started moving without further prompting. He didn't like to admit it, but John was right; he was feeling very tired.
Back in their shared quarters, they ate the last of the supplies that had been transported with them from Antag. Lorne and Kemp were still eating when, with a mumbled "good night" John and Rodney disappeared into their room.
Rodney dumped all his gear on the table behind the door. He then pulled the covers back, then sat on his side of the bed to undo his shoelaces. He toed off the shoes, then let himself slump backwards to just lie there with his eyes closed.
"Are you okay Rodney?"
"I think I've just used up my last erg of energy."
"I told you that you should have come to bed early last night." John replied with a slight grin. He finished divesting himself of his clothes, then padded barefoot across the floor to stand between Rodney's legs. Lifting up one foot at a time, he removed the dark socks. Next he unbuttoned and unzipped his pants before urging the comatose man to stand so that he could remove them. Letting his lover sit on the bed he got rid of the shirt and vest then picked up his legs and twisted him around so that his head was on the pillow, finally pulled the covers up over his body to the shoulders.
"Thankssss." Rodney murmured as John dropped a kiss on his nose.
John walked round the bed and when he got in beside Rodney, he pulled the covers up to curl around his lover and thought the lights off. "Good night Rodney."
Evan Lorne watched Mark Kemp stare thoughtfully at the bedroom door behind which McKay and Sheppard had just disappeared. "What's up, Mark?" he asked.
"Evan, are they - you know, lovers?" he asked.
"Yes, they are. O'Neill told me they had signed the paperwork just before we were all beamed up to the Daedalus."
"They're not as open as Daniel and the General are."
"They only met just over a year ago, when Sheppard flew O'Neill to the Antarctic outpost."
"Oh yeah... I remember reading about that; he out flew a drone."
"Yep. Are you going to continue asking questions about our new C.O., Mark, or can I tempt you into bed with me?"
Mark laughed, and got to his feet. "You can always tempt me, Evan," he replied as he pulled the other man off the chair into his arms, and gave him a passionate kiss. After a while, Evan pulled away. "Let's take this to bed," he suggested as he pulled Mark in the direction of the room they would be sharing.
"Good idea!" Mark started pushing Evan to move faster, laughing as he did so.
As soon as the door was shut and locked behind them, they rapidly removed their clothes and almost ran for the bed. Evan pushed Mark on to his back and settled his knees either side of his lover's head. Leaning forward he captured Mark's penis between his lips and started to suck, just as he felt Mark's mouth engulf his already rigid cock. He rocked back and forth, Mark's hands on his buttocks adding impetus; then as the cock in his mouth starting leaking, he felt one of Mark's fingers playing with his hole... and he came, and swallowed Mark's come and when he was done toppled to the side and lay panting slightly with a very wide smile on his face. Mark swivelled around and they kissed, tasting themselves on the others' tongue.
When their heartbeats had slowed, they reluctantly broke apart. Cleanup was easily managed with a wet-wipe and they got into bed, pretty much still in each others arms, and Evan thought the light out before settling down to sleep.
John woke with a start as the alarm on his watch started beeping. He rolled away from Rodney trying to recall the strange dream he'd been having; then realized that it was no dream, it was a nightmare where they lived on this planet until.... He thought the lights on dimly, and made his way to their bathroom to take a leak. At least this time a new wall hadn't sprung into being while he slept. Going back into the bedroom he found that Rodney was just getting out of bed, and they kissed as they passed going in opposite directions. John quickly got dressed and was putting on his TAC vest when Rodney returned to the room. "I'll be back when either the sun rises, or at the five hours mark so that someone else can take over the watch."
"I think I'll get dressed and join you in the control room for a while," Rodney said as he started getting dressed. "I've thought of a couple of other things I want to look at in the database, and I might as well keep you company as sit here on my own."
"Okay, I'll see you in a few minutes then," John replied, as he walked out of the door to start his vigil in the control room. He checked his watch against the Ancient clock on the wall, and was pleased to find that they were still in sync. Half an hour later he was just wondering if Rodney had changed his mind about coming when he arrived carrying two mugs of coffee.
"I made us a drink, and brought along some of those biscuits from Antag for breakfast."
"Thanks, Rodney, that's very a good idea." John paid for his coffee with a kiss, grinning slightly when Rodney blushed.
They ate their breakfast in companionable silence, with John staring out of the window, and Rodney occasionally poking at keys on his laptop.
After another two hours had passed by, John got to his feet and went to stand behind Rodney. He braced himself on the chair back so he could lean forward to see the laptop's screen. "Any luck in finding what you were looking for?"
"No. I've found nothing more than hints. We've got yet another database with no proper structure; it's frustrating." He took a deep breath, then asked, "How's the dawn watch coming along?"
"We're at twelve hours since sunset and counting. Can you keep an eye on it for a few minutes while I go take a leak. I'll bring back coffee..."
Rodney laughed and pushed his chair away from the console, then walked over to sit in the seat John had been using.
John grinned back, then picked up their mugs and took them back to the apartment with him. He was totally unsurprised to find that his two subordinates were awake and having their breakfast. He put the mugs by the sink as he told them that dawn hadn't arrived yet, and that they were welcome to join them in the Control Room if they got bored of sitting in the apartment before it was time for them to take over the watch. He went through to the bathroom and used the facilities, before going back to the kitchen area to make coffee for Rodney and himself, which he then carried back to the Control Room. He put Rodney's mug down in the place where he'd found it, then went back to the seat that His lover had immediately vacated.
"My minions, as you call them, are awake and having breakfast. They may join us here before it's time to change the watch, or they might not."
"In other words they might take the opportunity to go back to bed and fuck like bunnies."
"Yup. It's not as if I'm not thinking of doing that if the shift change arrives before the sun does."
"And when does the next shift change occur?"
"Well, we've established that the night could be between ten and twenty-six hours long. We decided to start the dawn-watch at nine, which leaves seventeen. Since seventeen is a prime number and not divisible, I set the shifts for five hours each for me, Lorne and Kemp only; so that you could continue your research, and other activities, uninterrupted. I have two hours of my shift left. If the darkness lasts past Kemp's shift then I will take the last two hours."
"Oh! Okay, thanks." Rodney almost bounced in his seat at the thoughts running through his mind, which amused John enough that he had to turn his head away slightly to hide his grin.
Nearly another hour went past before John heard the sound of approaching footsteps coming from the corridor. "Heads up, Rodney, we've got company coming."
Rodney turned towards the door just as Lorne and Kemp, with shaved faces and damp hair, entered the Control Room. "What was the temperature in the shower like? I think I'd like a shower later... during this long night."
Lorne's eyes twinkled as he replied. "Well, I wouldn't say it was hot, but it was warm enough to be comfortable."
"That's good," Rodney replied with a grin.
"Only one more hour, then I can have a shave," John added, trying hard not to laugh.
With a grin and a shake of his head, Rodney went back to trying to tease information out of the facility's database with the help of his laptop.
A few minutes later, John started speaking again. "You know, sitting here staring at this window is very boring, so my mind has been trying to find a reason for such a large transporter to be connected to this facility. The schematic that Rodney has found for us shows there is only one level, and has been verified by his instruments. If there had been stairs, or a tunnel going down towards the village, the shaft would have shown up when we first arrived because the power wasn't on. This may be an odd thing to say, but I think it may just have been used to transport people and their luggage between here and Antag. What if they only worked here from spring to the end of autumn, and spent the winter on Antag to prevent people from going stir-crazy during the long nights."
After some minutes of complete silence, Rodney exclaimed, "Fuck! It's such a simple explanation, and most probably right. They may even have only worked here during the spring and Autumn thus avoiding the long, hot days as well."
"I don't think I would like to be here in the summer if it is any hotter than it is now," Lorne stated. "The climb back up the hill was very uncomfortable. However, since it's wide enough for large vehicles to pass one another, that might not have been a problem for them."
Kemp's eyes lit up. "I wonder if there are any cars stashed away in the village. If so, we might even be able to drive to the Stargate."
John laughed. "If I were wishing for any type of transport, then I'll take a Puddle jumper over anything else."
"We all know that, Sir," Kemp assured him. "I'm looking forward to getting my hands on one, myself. If there is one here somewhere, then we could be back home in no time."
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, is something my mother often quoted at me," Rodney said. "We'll take a good look around as soon as there is sufficient light. Then we should be able to find the answers to, at least, most of our questions."
"I hope Teyla wasn't too freaked out by our disappearance," John said apropos of nothing. "My mind keeps returning to the fact that the room we shared on Antag must have been completely empty when they opened the door. Do you think there would have been anything left at all, Rodney?"
"Maybe the dust under the floorboards, or maybe not. If the transporter works the same way as on Atlantis, then the transport compartments could have swapped places."
"So, if the one this end wasn't empty, they could have got a nasty shock, or two."
"Whatever they find, Elizabeth will send Zelenka to Antag when Teyla calls in to Atlantis for help; and he will take a team with no gene carriers so that no one else can activate the controls if there is any power left at their end." Rodney stated. "Though it would be nice to send them their very comfortable room back as a way of thanking them for their hospitality."
"Could you?" John asked.
"At this present moment in time: No. But, with the help of the Daedalus, probably."
"Oh." Then John was silent, until his watch's alarm beeped to mark the end of his five hour vigil. "Lorne, this is your chair now."
They swapped places and as John stepped away he raised his arms over his head in a stretch while twisting his body from side to side.
To Rodney's eternal amusement, the bottom of John's T-shirt parted company from his pants leaving a lovely wide strip of muscled stomach bare. Not that he was going to complain, he enjoyed the view. Every. Single. Time. He made a show of picking up his mug to take a sip, then he stood up as well. "I'm going to get some coffee, and a nap I think. Give me a call on the radio when the sun comes up, please."
"Will do, Doc." Lorne replied, keeping his eyes firmly on the window.
John scratched as his beard. "I need to get rid of this, before I take a nap," he muttered as he followed Rodney's retreating form along the hallway leading to their quarters.
Once they were inside the shared quarters, Rodney made a beeline for the kitchen area to rinse out the mugs, whilst John went straight into their bathroom to get rid of his beard.
By the time Rodney entered the bathroom, a half naked John had nearly finished shaving. He leaned back against the door until John had rinsed and dried his face, and the straight razor was back in its case, then stepped forward and swung John around by the shoulders and pulled him in to a deep kiss, which eventually morphed into a tight hug with their heads resting on each other's shoulders.
After a while John pulled away, dropped a kiss on Rodney's forehead, then started to divest both of them of their clothes. "We both stink," he said. "After all that exertion getting out of that room, then exploring... we deserve a nice shower. I've put the gel and stuff in the shower already."
Rodney batted John's hands away. "I can undress myself," he muttered.
John shrugged, pushed his pants and underwear down his legs, stepped out of the puddle of clothes and sauntered inside the shower cubicle. He heard the water start to fall and hurriedly rid himself of the rest of his clothes, before he joined his lover under the spray. They washed each other's backs, and exchanged kisses as they brushed up against one another, but they were both determined that they were going be on a soft surface before anything more serious occurred. So they washed, dried themselves with the highly absorbant towels they carried, and swifty made their way back to the bedroom.
Rodney reached the bed first and laid down on his back, holding his knees open. "I want you in me," he said grinning up at his lover.
John picked up the lube and a condom, then knee walked up the bed until he was between Rodney's legs. He put his left hand on the bed beside his lover's hips and sucked on his cock until it started getting hard, and using his right hand to start opening Rodney up, using plenty of the "sunscreen" for lubrication. As soon as Rodney's cock was leaking into his mouth, John drew away, rolled on a condom, and eased his rigid member deep inside to rub against the sweet spot that could cause so much pleasure. He returned his right hand to lover's cock which had wilted slightly as he has pushed his way in, and kept massaging it until Rodney's body lifted off the bed with the force of his orgasm, come spurting over stomach. John's steady thrusting changed to fast lunges for a few seconds, then he stiffened as his orgasm overtook him. He stayed there panting, balanced on his hands, until his penis had softened enough to gently pull out, then he flopped to the side to avoid landing on top of his lover.
Some time later, John rolled off the bed and padded into the bathroom to dispose of the condom. He dampened a cloth and used that and a towel to clean himself up, then took them into the bedroom to clean up his almost comatose lover. Feeling tired now himself, he plodded to the bathroom door and flung the two pieces of cloth on the counter and went back to the bed. With some effort, he got himself and Rodney under the bedclothes and they were soon fast asleep.
It was a dispirited party that trudged back through the gate to Atlantis after spending two and a half days on Antag. Elizabeth, having been advised earlier that they would be returning tonight, had arranged for a buffet to be laid out in the main conference room, which would hopefully make everyone more relaxed at the debriefing. Of course, she had been hoping that Sheppard, McKay, Lorne and Kemp would be returning with them, and she tried hard not to show her deep disappointment when they didn't come through the Gate with the others.
Doctor Zelenka poured himself a mug of coffee, and put a couple of muffins on a plate and slumped in a chair at the conference table. He drank some of the coffee as the rest of the group fetched items from the buffet then sat down at the table.
Once everyone was seated, Elizabeth quietly asked for a report on the situation.
"I do not have much to tell you, Doctor Weir," Zelenka said. "The only thing we can say with certainty is that the building was built by the Ancients and that the bedroom they were assigned was originally a transporter. Judging by the panelling in the other rooms, the conversion was done hundreds of years ago. They don't have any records about it, and because all the Ancient walls had been concealed, they had no idea any alterations had ever been made.
"We were able to establish that there was a transporter signature, but we could not trace the direction it had taken. The headman, Gutag, cleared the building for us so we could use the life signs detector to scan the building, but they were not there. Councillor Gosti, is sending a messenger to the next village, asking them to keep a lookout for the four men, and to give them assistance. That village will send a messenger to the next one, and so on until the entire population of the planet will be looking for them." He shrugged, then said, "The only thing I can suggest is that we look in our database to see if we can find out anything about the building, about why it has a huge transporter in it, and where the receiving station is."
He took a piece of paper out of his pack, and passed it across the table to Elizabeth. "Here is list of all things we tried. We start looking in database tomorrow, when we've all had some sleep."
Elizabeth nodded. "I'll leave you to finish your meal, we'll talk again in the morning." She got to her feet, and left the silent room with a sense of deep despair.
After Sheppard and McKay had left the Control Room to get some rest, Lorne and Kemp had decided that as they were going to be on sun watch for anything up to ten hours between them, or twelve if they didn't wake the Colonel, they would switch places every three hours which would mitigate some of the strain that had shown in the Colonel's face by the time he had completed his five hours. To pass the time, they talked a little about the journey on the Daedalus, and the excitement, and terror, when the Wraith virus had taken control of the Battle cruiser. They fetched each other coffee, not commenting on the fact that the door to the other bedroom was still closed.
At nineteen hours, twenty four minutes and counting, Kemp suddenly sat forward. "Evan! Is it my imagination, or is the sky getting lighter?"
Lorne, stared at the window, then looked out another directly behind him, before looking back again. "Yes, it's definitely getting lighter, Mark."
"Should we call Doctor McKay now?"
"Yes, I'll go and knock on their door. Make a note of the time when you get the first flare."
Lorne hurried along the hallway into their quarters, and banged on the door of the bedroom that wasn't his. A few moments later, the door was opened by the Colonel, wearing just his boxers.
"Sun?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"The sky is getting lighter, Sir. It won't be long before dawn."
"Thanks, I'll wake Rodney, and we'll be in the Control Room ASAP."
"I'll go back there now, Sir." Lorne turned and left, hearing Sheppard call out that it was time to get up, as the door closed between them.
A few minutes later, Sheppard and McKay had joined them in the Control Room, and were staring at the window as the rim of the sun breached the horizon.
"We're now at nineteen hours and thirty-three minutes since sundown," Rodney announced. "Which means we should have about sixteen and a half hours until the next sundown."
"So I guess that means we are either in Winter moving into Spring, or Autumn moving into Winter," John muttered. "I really hope it's not the latter." He looked around at the others. "I think we ought to eat breakfast, then go take a look at those large buildings in the village."
"And hope we find something to help us get home." Rodney finished for him.
"Yeah... that!" John pointed at him. "Also, after breakfast, I want us to pack up our things and carry them with us: And we should mothball this place before we leave. I know were should only be gone a few hours, but I don't want to be stranded without food and water if we manage to activate something else that doesn't look like a transporter."
Rodney, who had been about to protest about carrying his pack around all day, paled at the thought of being stranded without it, and turned away towards their rooms. "I that case we'd better get started, sundown is just over sixteen hours away," he said over his shoulder as he walked away from them.
Just over an hour later, they left the facility and closed the doors behind them. John then put his hand on the activation pad and thought off.
"It's closing down, John, you can stop touching it now," Rodney told him, his eyes flicking between his tablet and his lover. "And.... it's shut down. There isn't a flicker of a power signature at all now."
John dropped his hand and turned his bak on the door. "In that case, let's go look at the village and see if we can find out why it's here; and no wandering off on your own guys, stay within sight at all times. I don't want to be wondering why I'm a team member short." He looked pointedly at Rodney, who patted him on the shoulder, then nudged him into motion.
Lorne and Kemp said, "Yes, Sir." in unison, and fell in behind their team leader as they headed off downhill.
When they reached the warehouses, Rodney turned to Lorne, and asked, "Did any of these feel different when you were touching them up yesterday?"
"Yes, the one on this end of the line."
Rodney next question was, "John, do you sense anything?"
John put his hand on the wall. "I'm getting Ancient metal inside this rock wall, and I don't think it would take much effort to get the doors open. Do you want me to try?"
Rodney cocked his head to one side, considering the data showing up on his screen. "We have to start somewhere," he said, "So, yes, try it."
John thought 'ON' at the building.
Almost immediately Rodney said, "Something inside is powering up. Try opening the door, now."
John did as he was bid, and the doors ground open. He took one step inside and the lights started turning on.
Rodney laughed, "It's just like when you first climbed the stairs in Atlantis, everything's started lighting up."
John grinned, and beckoned the others inside.
To one side was what looked like the Atlantis Control Room, with consoles and large screens hanging from the ceiling, on the other side were couches and tables set out in groups.
Rodney made a beeline for what was obviously the main console, got his gear connected up to it, and started poking around for information. John tapped him on the shoulder and said, "I'm going to leave Kemp here with you, while Lorne and I set up a post, just outside, to work out what time midday is around here. We may never need to know, but if we do it's best to have started today. After that I intend to walk along the outsides of the warehouses-"
"Do not go inside any of them!" Rodney told him fiercely.
"I have no intention of even touching them, nor will I allow Lorne to do so. I just want to be able to sense them, to see if they give me any interesting vibes, like this one." John assured him. "I'm not interested in going anywhere without you."
"You'd better not," Rodney growled at him. "Please check in with the Lieutenant every fifteen minutes so that I know you're still okay."
"That will work both ways, we'll know you're all right as well." John squeezed his shoulder, then left the building with Lorne by his side.
They walked away from the building to get clear of any shadows, then made a pile of stones with a stick poking out of the center. Then using a compass, they put a stone where they thought the shadow midday should be, then another to the west of it, to give them warning when they should pay extra attention to the sun's position. That done, they hurried back to the building where Rodney was working inside, then walked slowly round the outside each of the buildings between them and the harbor. They walked back to where their improvised sundial was counting away the sunny hours.
After looking at it for a few minutes, John said, "Let's go stand in the shade of that small building over there. We'll still be able to see the shadow moving, and we'll be more comfortable." He started to walk in the direction of the only building set almost midway between the harbor and the village. "I wonder what this was originally."
Lorne took a close look at the ground. "You can still see the paths that led to this building. It reminds me of those rest areas you sometimes come across while hiking. Paths between trees, with rustic benches and picnic tables. Sometimes, in the middle, they had a café, a ranger station, or an information room showing fossils and stuff that had been found."
"So this could be the picnic area for the workers, or perhaps a waiting area for passengers for ships leaving the harbor. Keep your eyes on the shadow for a moment, while I take a look at the outside of the building, maybe there's a sign on it somewhere telling people the opening times, or sailing times, or whatever..."
"Remember, not to touch anything, Sir."
John laughed. "I'll be hearing that admonition in my dreams soon." He found the door on the east side of the building, and beside it was a large plaque with mostly legible ancient writing on it. He took off his pack, removed a notebook and pencil from it, then carefully copied the Ancient hieroglyphics on its pages. He started to recognize some words and his heart started to beat faster. He closed his eyes and forced himself to calm down, before continuing to the end of the plaque. Putting the pencil back in his pack, he shouldered it and went back to where Lorne was still watching the stick's shadow move across the ground.
"The shadow is getting shorter, Sir, I think we should mark where the end of the shadow is on the ground, that way we will know when the zenith is easier."
"Okay. Can you see to that, I found a plaque with some Ancient writing on it. I want to run the translation past Rodney. I'll send young Kemp out to join you." John walked briskly across the open ground and into the building where Rodney was still working on the man console. "Lieutenant, would you partner up with the Major for a while, I've found something I want to talk to Rodney about."
Kemp, immediately rose to his feet, and left through the open doors to join his partner.
Rodney was looking at him with a raised eyebrow by the time John turned towards him. "What's so Important that you're sending my guard away?"
"You know that small, white building we passed on the way here. Well, Lorne and I were using its shadow for shade while watching the sundial move. We got talking about what it might be, and why it was all on its own. To cut a long story short, I walked around to the door and found a large plaque with Ancient writing on it. This is what it says." He put the open notebook in Rodney's hands.
Rodney started reading the transcription, about halfway down the page, he stopped and looked up. "Are you sure of this?"
John nodded. "I was very careful when copying the hieroglyphs. I suggest we pack up in here, shut the place down, and you go take a look for yourself."
Rodney handed the notebook back to John, and unplugged his laptop, and tablet, from the console. "We can always come back here," he said, "But getting away is far more important." He finished putting all his things away, then shouldered the pack. They walked out of the building side by side, then John placed his hand on the plate and told the doors to close, when that was done, he thought "OFF", and the power signature disappeared. A few minutes later they were standing in front of the plaque that had so intrigued John. Rodney read the inscription, then turned to John and said, "As soon as Lorne and Kemp have finished playing with shadows, I'd like all four of us to enter this building."
"Okay.... Let's go see how things are going." They walked around to the other side of the building. "How are the observations going?" John asked.
"I think we can safely say that noon will occur at eight hours and twenty-two to twenty four minutes after sunup, so no wobbles or other inconveniences." Lorne reported.
"Good." John replied, paused for a moment, then said, "Scatter the stones, then we'll go around the building. I found something interesting enough for Rodney to pack up to come and take a look inside; and he wants all four of us to be present."
They checked once more that they had all their belongings with them, then John went to the door and thought it open, waved the other three men inside, then being the last in he closed the door again with a thought. When he turned around, Rodney was staring at a pair of very familiar looking doors. The, after checking his PDA, he said, "It's powering up. According to these instructions, the booth will be ready for use as soon as the doors open. I know what the glyphs look like for our preferred destination, so please don't touch anything without permission. Not even a wall!"
Nine minutes later, the doors to the transporter opened and Rodney led the way inside. He waited for them to get safely inside, then pressed a circle near the top of the screen on the back wall. There was the flash they were used to seeing, then the doors were opening again. The light from the transporter illuminated part of a corridor, but there didn't seem to be any other lights. John stepped out, followed by the others. After a few seconds some dim lights came on, and the transporter's doors closed.
"Now what?" John asked.
"Find a way out of here." Rodney replied, a trace of 'you moron' in his tone.
John shone the light on his P-90 to the left and then to the right. "It looks like a dead end to our left, but there's a flight of stairs leading up to our right. Is that any help?"
"Let's see where they go." Rodney replied following as John led the way forward, with Kemp and Lorne bringing up the rear. They climbed up twelve flights of stairs until they found themselves in a large, completely empty, room. They shone their flashlights around, and Kemp called out, "There are some doors here. Big ones."
John raised an eyebrow at Rodney, who nodded. John then touched the door and thought OPEN at it. There came a slight glow, but the doors didn't budge. "Perhaps we should all touch it," he suggested. That got them a slightly better response, in that there was now a six inch gap.
Rodney stepped away for a moment, and put his delicate equipment away,, then said, "I suggest we try pushing the doors apart, and then get through the gap as quickly as possible."
They got into position, then John counted down from three to go, and their combined weight won out over the heavy doors, and they slid further apart. They all quickly stepped though the gap into the open air, only to find it was almost as dark outside as it had been inside.
"We're a long way further west than we were at the village, and according to my computations we should have arrived here just prior to sunrise. Ergo, it will soon be light enough to walk to the Gate - which is off to our right." Rodney explained. "While I think to say this Major, Lieutenant, please do not talk about anything you've seen here with anyone other than Elizabeth, John, Zelenka and myself, until we've had a chance to come back here and evaluate just what we have found. Whilst I trust you, there are some people who came back with us on the Daedalus whom we didn't choose to join the expedition, and I want to make sure that they are not Trust operatives before letting them have too much information. I managed to send Doctor Peyets back to Earth because of his intransigence, but... well, I've had my fingers burned before, so to speak."
"You got it Doc; neither Mark, nor I will talk to anyone else about it, and we'll tell you if anyone asks, no matter who it is." Lorne assured him.
"Thank you, Major."
"Yes, thank you Major," John seconded. "I wrote a report on the day we arrived back in Atlantis which will go out in the next data burst to General Landry, and General O'Neill, about the extra people. I'm hoping that I'll get an explanation for their unauthorized presence, and permission to send them back on the next Daedalus run. Carson is particularly ticked off, he actually got two people who he specifically said he didn't want."
"Okay, it's light enough to see the path to the Gate," Rodney stated. "Let's go guys."
John just grinned at the impatient interruption, and started down the path, with Rodney immediately behind him, as was usual, followed by Lorne and Kemp guarding their six. When they reached the Gate, John immediately started dialling an address, and when he led them through without contacting anyone they knew they were not going back to Atlantis by a direct route.
Elizabeth sat in her office and looked at Teyla, Carson and Zelenka. "I can't conceal their disappearance," she said. "I have to send a report in the data burst this afternoon, mainly because I believe someone is bound to mention it in their 'letters home'."
Carson pulled a sour face. "One of our unauthorized new arrivals you mean, Elizabeth. The two that got foisted on me are just as useless as I feared, which is why I turned them down in the first place. I've put in a report for the data burst so I can rid of them."
"Yes, I've included details of the unauthorized additions to our compliment, and I know that not only does John's report mention this problem, Rodney's does as well."
There was a pained silence, none of them knowing what they could say, if anything, to allay their fears for the missing men. A knock on the door startled them out of their thoughts. Elizabeth opened the door to Chuck.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, Doctor Weir, but it's time for the dial out." he said.
Elizabeth nodded. "I'll be out in a moment, Chuck." Reluctantly she got to her feet, and went to stand by the DHD. "Dial Earth please."
"Yes, ma'am." Chuck started to punch in Earth's address, then the gate started to Dial in, and the wormhole belled into the Gate Room. "It's the Alpha Site, ma'am. Captain Whittington for you."
Elizabeth activated her earpiece. "Weir here. Go ahead Captain."
"I have four stray sheep here who want to come home."
"Chuck, open the shield, we'll contact Earth when we know more," she ordered, then as soon as the shield had dropped away, she went on, "Come on through, we're very pleased to have you back."
A rather rumpled and very tired looking quartet walked though the gate.
"Infirmary now," Carson spoke up from beside Elizabeth, as those on the balcony made their way down the stairs.
John nodded, tiredly. "We're on our way." He turned and led the procession into the medical center. When he got there, he took off his back pack and unzipped a pocket to retrieve a flash drive. Handing it over to Elizabeth, he said, "Here are our reports, we had more than enough 'spare time' to compile them. After we're cleared through here, do you mind if we all get some sleep before we have to answer any questions you may have - after you've read our reports."
"Aye, I think that would be best for all of ya."
Elizabeth nodded her agreement. "Take as long as you need. "We'll have a senior staff meeting tomorrow morning."
"Thank you," came the heartfelt response from Rodney.
Their processing through medical was mercifully swift, so John and Rodney were soon back in their quarters, and after an equally fast clean up, they curled around each other and went to sleep basking in the knowledge that they were safely back where they belonged - in Atlantis.