PAIRING: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex, Teyla Emmagan
RATING: PG (minor language, minor whump)
DISCLAIMER: Stargate belongs to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., no infringements of any rights is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Prompt requested Gen, Team, an unusual format, science-y plots, a little slice-of-life. Hope you enjoy!
SUMMARY: Twenty-four hours in Science Department on Atlantis; nothing out of the ordinary, for Atlantis.
Rodney McKay was far from a morning person. He was a night owl, who looked at daylight as the beginning of the daily interruptions to his work. He had gone to bed at 0230. A slow energy leak in the city’s equivalent of an HVAC system kept him awake, nagging at him until he decided Radek should handle it. He had dropped onto his bed in his clothes, and fallen straight asleep. When the alarm buzzed at 0500 hours, he had ignored it and the subsequent buzzing reminders, until he realized he had to get out of bed.
He took a quick shower, shaved, and grabbed his laptop. Rushing from his quarters, McKay headed for the main tower and the conference room, time for the morning science briefing. He knew that all the department heads loathed the early morning meeting, most dragged in as if they were on their deathbed. That was why, despite how he actually felt, he put on the “wide-awake and full of energy” façade just to needle them. There were some mornings when he yearned to act exactly how he felt, exhausted.
McKay traipsed into the conference room. Two scientists, who were standing beside the coffee pot, scurried out of the way, leaving their director a clear path to his first, of many cups of caffeine. He poured a cup and sat down at the head of the table.
“People, people, settle down, we’re already late.”
From down the table, a voice muttered, ‘we were waiting on you’, but if McKay overheard it he didn’t react. He was concentrating on his laptop screen.
After a few minutes, he looked up and realized that everyone was looking at him. “OK, a couple of announcements; all of you will be happy to know that the Daedalus will arrive today.” Murmurs raced up and down the table, annoying McKay. “Alright, quiet, I know all of you will be so happy because your new supply of graphic novels will be arriving. I, for one, will be glad that the new assistant for Dr. Deidermeyer is onboard. So there will be no more whining from the Chemistry Director.”
He looked over at Deidermeyer, who was frowning. His skin was still showing traces of the latest blue dye that periodically and mysteriously appeared in his shower. “I trust you will try not to run this new assistant off.” Deidermeyer started to reply, but McKay continued as if he wasn’t there.
“Parrish, since you seem all chipper this morning, why don’t you start.” McKay flashed the botanist a not quite sincere grin. As Parrish began speaking, he continued to stare at his laptop screen.
Forty-eight minutes later, McKay adjourned the meeting, grabbed his laptop and headed out the door. He was intending to meet up with Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla in the mess for breakfast. He had almost made his escape when, Deidermeyer grabbed his arm.
The tall, blond German scientist was quite agitated. “McKay, this person, who’s coming to be my assistant, do you know who it is?”
“Not a clue. The SGC has been scrambling to find someone, the third someone in five months. Your last assistant is still being treated for anxiety attacks. Happens again, Deidermeyer, and you will be the one replaced.”
“I will not accept anyone who is inferior. They must know what they are doing.” The chemist’s German accent was getting stronger with each word.
McKay took a deep breath, “Whoever it is, make it work. I’m sick of putting up with this. You’re good, Deidermeyer, but you’re not that good.” McKay walked away.
McKay walked into the mess hall to find it nearly deserted. The military contingent usually ate between 0530 and 0700. Sheppard’s guys began their shifts an hour earlier than the scientists, so they could be briefed on mission plans and get geared up. The scientist would begin to trickle in before they headed for their various labs or off-world.
He liked the mess hall when it was deserted, quiet and stocked with a pan full of bacon, unless Ronon arrived first. As he grabbed a tray, he heard Sheppard and Ronon entering, laughing about something. He hurried to get in line before Ronon.
“Hey, McKay,” Sheppard was now behind him.
“Sheppard; what was so funny when you came in?”
“Good morning to you, too,” Sheppard smirked back. “As for what Ronon and I were laughing about; it's a surprise. We just found out something you will find quite interesting. Get your food, will tell you after we sit down.”
Teyla and Carson Beckett had joined them. They settled at a table on the outside patio, enjoying the sunrise.
Sheppard took a huge gulp of coffee, then asked McKay, “So, you decide if you’re coming with us to visit the Pitsau tomorrow? “
“I don’t see how I can; I have about five projects in the works. Radek’s tied up with overhauling the HVAC system, and we’ve got new scientists arriving, so they have to go through on-boarding. Much too busy, you’re going to have to go on your little picnic to Pitsau without me. Now what were you two laughing about.” He waved his fork toward Sheppard and Ronon.
Sheppard glanced at the others, mischievously, before he answered. “We went to the control room before coming to the mess. I wanted to see if the Daedalus had transferred the troop manifest. The last list the SGC sent was from a month ago and wasn’t final. All the Atlantis transfers, military and scientists, were all together on the same manifest. You are never going to believe who is returning to…”
At that moment, everyone’s COM erupted with Chuck’s voice from the control room. “Medical Team, Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay, report immediately to the gate room. SGA-12 is coming in hot with wounded.” Sheppard and Beckett sprinted for the gate room, the rest hurrying behind.
The organized chaos that was the infirmary had finally calmed. At least, it was calm enough for Beckett and Keller to take a moment to talk to the anxious people waiting in the far corner of the infirmary. As they approached the group, they could hear Sheppard and McKay arguing.
“What the hell were your goons thinking? They let Miko get hurt. How the hell could they allow that? I want to know what happened.”
“Rodney, calm down.” Sheppard’s voice was low, but his anger evident. “We don’t have any idea what really happened yet. We have five seriously injured Marines and scientists. As soon as Isaacs wakes up, we’ll know what happened.
“Damn it, Sheppard, this is Miko. She shouldn’t have been on that mission; not with a bunch of incompetent Marines.” Rodney’s face was red, and he was sputtering as he spoke.
Sheppard normally tolerated a lot from his best friend. Everyone knew that. Rodney, however, had apparently put a toe across the line with his last comment. “Rodney, Captain Isaacs is one of the best officers I have in my command. He is not incompetent and neither is his team. Until we know exactly what happened, you will refrain from making accusations.” He was standing nose to nose with the science division director; his green eyes, black from the intensity of his anger.
“I d-don’t care…” McKay stammered, but Sheppard interrupted him before he could continue.
“That’s an order, McKay; no more speculation.”
Teyla stepped between the friends, “Please, stop; we are all distressed that Miko and the others have been injured. We must be patient and wait to determine what happened on the mission. Rodney, Carson and Jennifer will take excellent care of Miko.”
Keller cleared her throat. The entire group turned in unison toward her. “Rodney, you need to calm down. Miko was hurt seriously, but we have every reason to believe she is going to be fine.”
Richard Woolsey had returned to the infirmary, as Teyla was attempting to calm the situation. “Doctors, what are we dealing with?”
Beckett began. “Dr. Kusanagi has suffered a serious plasma weapon burn on her left side, and she has a moderate concussion. She also has a severely sprained right knee. Dr. Messer was hit over the head with a blunt object; he has a hairline skull fracture but fortunately no bleeding. He should recover nicely.
Rodney quickly asked, “And Miko?”
“Her plasma burns are rather bad; we’ll have to watch for infection. She may need skin graphs in one area, but if she doesn’t develop any serious complications, she should be fine.”
Beckett turned to Jennifer, “Jennifer’s been taking care of your Marines, colonel.”
Jennifer sighed. "Three of the team members were beaten severely. Two have very serious cuts from what appears to be a large hunting-type knife. Sergeant Patterson suffered a wound from a plasma weapon. His wound is not as serious as Miko’s; she was shot from a much closer range. Captain Isaacs was also beaten; he has a nasty head wound. The good news is that they will all recover, colonel.”
“Good to hear, thanks, doc. Can I talk to them?” Sheppard asked.
Not yet, Dr. Jackson is stitching up their lacerations, and we sedated Isaacs to debride his head wound. It’s a miracle they made it back to the gate; tough Marines.
“Let me know when I can talk to them. I’m going to check with Lorne to see what intel we have on that planet. It wasn’t supposed to be a dangerous location.”
“I’ll go with you.” Ronon offered.
Before he left, Sheppard turned to Rodney. “She’ll be OK.” McKay nodded as he watched Sheppard and Ronon leave the infirmary.
“Radek, what the hell is this mess?”
Radek whirled around as McKay entered the large chamber in the bowels of Atlantis. The Ancient life support systems’ machinery, including the heating and cooling systems, were located in the vast room. The area was in disarray. There were crystals lying all over consoles, computer cables spread across the floor leading from laptops and pads scattered about the room.
„Co tato umyvatelné je pekla? Tato umyvatelné se pokouší opravit umyvatelné, které zde bylo, když jsme zde.“
“English, Radek,” Rodney’s impatience revealed by crossing his arms and emitting a deep sigh.
"What the hell is this mess? This mess is trying to fix the mess that was here when we got here."
“What are you talking about? What mess was here?”
„OH dodat m?!“ Radek threw his arm around the room. “The crystals; they were out of place. It is as if someone was searching through them for something; I do not know what. What would anyone want with crystals from here? Je umyvatelné!“ Radek’s normally wild hair was unduly messy and he looked totally exasperated.
McKay didn’t say anything, something was amiss. As he looked around, he realized that crystals from the numerous consoles not involved in the HVAC system were also disturbed. Who would want to mess with the life support systems? It wasn’t like Atlantis was hurtling through space at this moment, but that was at this moment. Situations had a tendency to change rapidly on Atlantis.
“Radek, document what crystals are out of place and make certain they are all here. Contact Dr. Cramer, have him assign a team of forensic computer techs and get more engineers down here. Keep me apprised.“ Rodney turned to leave, tapping his COM as he did, “Woolsey, Sheppard, I need to see you. We may have a problem.“
Dr. Nikolay Egorov, geologist, was tapping his foot. He was waiting impatiently for the tests he was running on the ore recovered from MX8-733. A piece of the ore was lying in the chamber where sensors were measuring for any emitted gases. The inhabitants of the planet had been using the ore for heating for millennia. Now he wanted to see what allowed the rock to heat up and produced enough heat to warm the homes and buildings on the planet.
He was tired and wanted more coffee. He turned away from the bench, intending to refill his coffee cup from the press-pot he kept in the lab. He was reaching for the pot when the chamber exploded.
Richard Woolsey looked puzzled. “Dr. McKay, you have no idea why anyone would be searching through the crystals in life-support?”
“Unless someone has another Atlantis hidden somewhere, no, I don’t.” He looked over at Sheppard as he spoke and noticed Sheppard’s right eyebrow rise. “You have an idea, Sheppard.”
“No, I was just thinking. The way things go for us; I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another Atlantis lurking about.”
Woolsey shook his head, “This is very disturbing. I would love to know...” He was interrupted by the senior control room tech, Chuck, rushing into his office.
“There’s been an explosion in Dr. Egorov’s lab. I’ve dispatched fire-rescue and med teams.”
Sheppard reacted first, quickly rising from his chair. He darted for the transporter, McKay and Woolsey right behind him.
As the transporter doors closed, McKay uttered, more to himself that his companions, “What the hell’s next? It’s not even noon yet.”
Dr. Keller and the EMT’s were working on the conscious Dr. Egorov while Sheppard conferred Captain Branson, chief of the Marine fire-rescue squads. Rodney and Woolsey were talking to Dr. Erin Wong, chief geologist.
Dr. McKay was agitated, “Wong, tell me that crazy Russian didn’t do something stupid.”
Wong dropped her head, as a slight smile crossed her lips. She replied, “No, Dr. McKay; he didn’t do anything idiotic. Nikolay is not a foolish man, nor is he a stupid scientist.”
“What was he working on, Dr. Wong.” Woolsey asked.
“He was running a gas emission test on a very small piece of ore we brought back from MX8-733. The raw ore is used for heating, and we have been testing it. We suspect that it is oil saturated rock, but we wanted to see if there were any embedded gases in the porous rock. I was present in his lab this morning when he was setting up the experiment. Everything was according to the book. I can only speculate at this moment that there may have been gas trapped in the rock as we thought. T pressure being exerted on the rock to force out gas may have been enough to ignite any that was present.”
Sheppard and Keller left the EMT’s, joining McKay and Woolsey. Sheppard spoke first, “Egorov was very lucky. Apparently, from what we can get out of him, he had walked away from the chamber to get coffee. The pot was sitting on a bench on the side of the room. The explosion was directed away from him because of the thick metal walls of the chamber.”
Dr. Keller continued with an update of Egorov’s condition. “He has some hearing loss, looks like a perforated eardrum, and he’s in shock from the concussion of the blast, but I think he’ll be fine. We’re going to transport him to the infirmary now. I’ll keep you informed.” Keller left leaving the three men watching as Egorov was rolled away.
“This day just keeps getting better and better. I’m going to see what progress Zelenka’s making, before I go to the infirmary to check on Miko and the others and now Egorov. McKay looked at Sheppard, “Wanna come?”
“Sure, I have some time. I have to meet with Sgt. Cressor to review the equipment manifest from the Daedalus. We’re sending a couple of MALP’s through the gate to be updated with new equipment this afternoon, if the Daedalus brought replacements. That can wait a bit...”
“I’m going back to my office. Let me know if you turn up anything new in life-support.” Woolsey said and left for the main tower, Sheppard and McKay headed for the depths of Atlantis.
After spending time with Radek and his team, and dropping by the infirmary, McKay returned to his lab. Sheppard had headed to meet with the sergeant. McKay realized he was getting light-headed so he grabbed a powerbar and confiscated a cup of coffee from Dr. Kimora’s lab. He began reviewing data from the past week of instrument monitoring on the HVAC equipment and the other machinery that was in the Ancient chamber. He lost track of the time, and was startled when he heard Sheppard’s voice.
“Hey, you seem pretty interested in what you’re doing.” Sheppard plopped down on the stool at the end of the bench.
“Going over the readouts from the monitoring instruments we put on the life-support system. We keep monitors on the oxygen generators and other systems necessary if we had to fly Atlantis out of here. Well, fly her out of here if we had enough power.”
McKay scrunched up his face, “I don’t know. I think that whoever messed with the crystals began about six days ago.”
“If the crystals were moved, why didn’t the monitors show interruptions? Wouldn’t your program send out bells and whistles if there were issues?”
“Yeah, well, I found a flaw in that, one I have to correct.” McKay glanced up at Sheppard a bit sheepishly. He saw the shock on Sheppard’s face that he had admitted a problem with the program.
“OK, OK, I’m not perfect.”
Sheppard grinned, “Can I quote you on that?”
“Bite me. The monitors record only the primary systems; the secondary systems are only checked once a month. The last check was nearly two weeks ago. I just ran diagnostic on the backup systems and the data is showing the disruption in the power supply and the pathways. We’re going to need to requisition more servers; all these systems need to be monitored daily.”
“So, anyone with knowledge of these systems would have known that the secondary systems weren’t monitored. So those people, scientists and military, who work in this area, comprise our suspects.”
“Yes, but Sheppard, I think it’s a scientist. There is a pattern to this data; it looks like systematic research data. I doubt your Marines would be capable of being this organized.”
Sheppard’s green eyes darkened, flashing with anger. “McKay, that’s the second time today you have insulted my guys, enough.”
“Hey, flyboy, I call it like I see it. This data looks like scientific research. I doubt your Marines would follow a scientific process. As for the other thing, I still think those guys should have protected Miko and Messer better.”
Sheppard took a deep breath, “McKay; that’s what I came here to tell you. I just spoke with Isaacs, and Lorne has returned from the planet. According to Isaacs, Miko and Messer had finished their mission tasks, and they were on their way back to the gate. A group of off-worlders, who the local authorities had been trying to apprehend, caught up with the team. They wanted their weapons.”
“So, what happened?”
There were five guys, Lorne and his team and the local security managed to capture a couple of them, both had been shot with P-90’s. The rest of the gang is on the run; Lorne’s not sure if they made it through the gate or not. Isaacs said they were ambushed. Patterson was hit with the plasma weapon, and the perps attacked. They were within sight of the gate, so Isaacs ordered Miko and Dr. Messer to get back here for help. Then the Marines rushed the preps to keep them away from the two doctors. One of the bad guys managed to get to the gate, and that’s when Dr. Messer was injured. Miko had no choice but run the other way. She ran toward Patterson and grabbed his P-90. Apparently, she fired at the bad guys, hit two of them, but one of them hit her with the only weapon besides knives that they had, a plasma rifle. They grabbed their injured and ran away. Isaacs managed to get to the gate and dial in; you know the rest.”
McKay was silent. When he spoke, his voice was subdued. “OK, I was wrong; your Marines risked their lives to protect my scientists. I was just upset because it was Miko. She’s been with us since the beginning, and while she can be an aggravation, I wouldn’t want her hurt, ever.”
“Hey, neither would I and the fact is, she probably saved my Marines. I think everyone has a hero in this case, Rodney.” Sheppard looked a bit uncomfortable, and continued quickly. “I’m getting hungry; since breakfast was interrupted, let’s go to the mess. I know you can eat; you can always eat.” Sheppard laughed and rose from the stool, heading for the door.
“Funny, flyboy, I’ll have you know I am not hungry, but I’ll go with you.” He decided not to tell Sheppard he had just eaten a powerbar. Besides, he was still hungry.
“Yeah, right Rodney, you’re not hungry. I’ll…” He was interrupted by Chuck’s voice, “Colonel Sheppard; the Daedalus has arrived and is landing now.”
Sheppard stopped in the doorway, “The Daedalus is landing. We need to meet the ship. Uh, Rodney, there was something I was going to tell you this morning, but then Isaac’s team returned. Uh…. Walk with me; I need to tell you about someone who is on board the Daedalus.”
McKay was standing in the large hanger next to the dock where the Daedalus sat. “This is going to be a disaster. What the hell was the SGC thinking?”
Colonel Caldwell was leaning against a large pallet of boxes that had just been beamed to the hanger. “I have no idea, doctor; I wasn’t certain I wanted him on my ship again. He’s simply a disruption that we don’t need.”
Sheppard was standing across from Caldwell. His arms crossed over his chest, “I think it’s punishment for how Dr. Deidermeyer has behaved. This is the third assistant he’s required in a very short period of time. I just wish they hadn’t punished us as well.”
“If it’s any consolation, Sheppard, Landry assured me they tried. However, finding anyone with the security clearance and the expertise to fill in until they found a permanent replacement was extremely difficult. This wasn’t their first choice, but their only choice.”
McKay spotted Dr. Deidermeyer approaching from the opposite side of the hanger, just as the new arrival in question stepped into the hanger from the dock. “Well, here we go.”
“Dr. McKay, my new assistant has arrived? Please explain to me, why I was not told? I found out quite by accident that the Daedalus had landed.” Deidermeyer’s expression was most unhappy.
McKay looked at Sheppard for help, but the colonel just shook his head. McKay muttered, “Some friend you are.”
Deidermeyer looked at the approaching man, “Is this him, is this my new assistant?”
McKay nodded and reluctantly made the introductions, “Dr. Deidermeyer, meet your new, temporary, assistant, Dr. Peter Kavanagh.”
“John, are you serious? Dr. Kavanagh has returned to Atlantis?” Teyla did not often sound so surprised, but Kavanagh returning to Atlantis was a shock. “I thought after the incident at the Midway station, he had vowed to leave the SGC and never return.”
Rodney, finally getting lunch, spoke with his mouth full of chicken salad. “It seems – that- the Pentagon wouldn’t, “he swallowed, “let him leave. They were concerned that with his temperament, he would be a security risk.”
Ronon laughed, “Yeah. He's quite the brave one.”
Sheppard grabbed his coffee cup, then pushed his tray away, “This is not going to be pleasant if the initial meeting between those two is any indication. They were arguing before they left the hanger.”
“Wasn’t Kavanagh the head of that department?” Ronon asked. When Rodney nodded yes, he continued, “I can’t see Kavanagh being the assistant.”
“Neither can I, Chewie, neither can I; this is a disaster waiting to happen.” Sheppard shook his head.
Rodney started to say something, but he stopped, putting his finger on his radio and listening for a nearly a minute, then said, “Oh, idiots. I’ll be right there.” He looked very unhappy as he stood up.
“I should send the entire science department back to Earth on the Daedalus and bring in a bunch of kindergartners. They’d probably behave better. Sheppard, you need to come with me. Dr. Sims and her little band of zoologists are locked inside a chamber. They thought it would be a good place to store some of their specimens, captives, whatever it is they have down there. The doors slid shut and now they can’t get out. The lone idiot who didn’t go in called for Major Lorne to use his magic gene. The major couldn’t open it, probably because his gene isn’t strong enough. He called for Zelenka, who left the important work he was doing to try and bypass the circuits. Unless Zelenka is totally incompetent, I’m probably going to need you.”
“Lead the way.” Sheppard stood up waiting for McKay.
McKay muttered as they walked away from the table. “What the hell else can happen?”
McKay sank down on the tall stool next to his lab bench. He cradled another cup of coffee he had nabbed from Kimora’s lab. All he wanted to do was figure out what was going on with in life-support. Zelenka and his team had managed to sort out the crystals, and repair the HVAC. They had discovered two crystals missing, and now he had to figure out why anyone would want those particular crystals.
The events of the day were twirling around in his head. Most disconcerting was the talk he had heard in the hallway regarding Kavanagh’s return to Atlantis. He hadn’t expected anyone would be happy about it and they weren’t. Snatches of conversation he had overheard, muffled or ceasing as he walked past a lab, consisted mainly of ‘what the hell is he doing back’, and ‘I thought we were rid of him.” He was going to have to address this with Woolsey. The one thing he did know was that if anyone could talk back to Deidermeyer it would be Kavanagh. He just hoped it didn’t get bloody.
Thirty minutes later, it did.
McKay rushed off the transporter, running toward the chemistry lab complex which was located in a building on the northeast pier. Seconds later he heard the transporter doors open again. Sheppard, accompanied by a team of Marines, nearly ran him down as they stormed around him, headed for the lab.
By the time he got to the main lab, the Marines had separated Deidermeyer and Kavanagh. Sheppard was standing in between them, a hand on Kavanagh’s chest and one on Deidermeyer’s.
“What the hell are you doing? You are supposed to be grown-ups. You're supposed to be the brightest in your field, or you wouldn’t even be here. Now one of you tell me what started this.”
Both scientists started yelling at once, but a cold glare from Sheppard shut them both up. “One at a time,” he ordered, his voice low and sharp, “Deidermeyer, you first, what started this?”
Deidermeyer had a cut lip, and a huge bruise developing around his left eye. He began spouting in rapid German, “Er... er hier kam und begann, sagen mir, alle die Dinge, die ich war falsch. Dass er tat Sachen auf diese Weise und auf diese Weise.“
“English, Deidermeyer,“ Sheppard sounded exasperated.
Deidermeyer frowned, “ He came here and started to tell me all the things that I was doing wrong. That he did things in this way and in this way. He insulted me.” He lunged at Kavanagh, only to be jerked backward by the two Marines, who were holding him.
“That’s not true,” Kavanagh spewed, his rage boiling. He had suffered a bloody nose; a rivulet of blood slid across his chin, dripping onto the floor. His gold-rimmed glasses were sitting slightly askew on his nose. “He started telling me how happy everyone was that he was here now, and I wasn’t. How he had cleaned up after me. That’s not true, I’m a very good chemist, and he knows it.”
McKay, who was standing behind Sheppard, slightly to his right, had enough of the chemists’ whining. “So, you decided to solve your squabble by fighting. I should send you both back on the Daedalus in the brig, in the same cell. That would give you time to kill each other.”
Kavanagh opened his mouth, but a scowl from Sheppard shut him up. McKay continued, “You both know that what we do here is important. Yet, both of you throw your petty egos around when you should be paying attention to what we need done here.”
This time a look from Sheppard didn’t stop Kavanagh. “You, you talk about ego?” Kavanagh laughed, “The great Dr. McKay, no ego there.” He stared at McKay with a sarcastic grin on his face.
McKay stepped up to Kavanagh and leaned in his face. “Your right, I do have an ego. I know I’m damn smart, and I can back-it up. I don’t need to fight like a couple of hoodlums to prove my intellect. Now, listen to me, both of you; you are going to work together, you are not going to fight. If you continue this, I will have both of you sent to the worst possible place you could be assigned.” He heard Kavanagh’s intake of breath, and continued before the chemist could say anything. “Don’t say it Kavanagh, this is not the worst assignment you’ve ever had.”
McKay turned to Deidermeyer, “You are going to stop complaining. Kavanagh is temporary; we’ll find a replacement for him. Remember this, you caused your own problems by running off every other assistant you have had. Let this be a lesson to you, you reap what you sow. I can’t think of better punishment than to have to put up with Kavanagh.”
“McKay, you are a…” Kavanagh blurted out. He quickly shut up when Sheppard stepped closer, his nose nearly level with the taller Kavanagh.
“Not another word out of you, you have your orders from your director. You will follow them.”
“I’m not military. You can’t order me around, colonel.”
“No, but I can order them around.” Sheppard pointed to the Marines. “You have both proven that you cannot work together without supervision. Therefore, until further notice, you will be accompanied by security. You, Kavanagh will be assigned the largest, meanest Marine I can find.” He was inwardly pleased at the flash of panic that flitted in Kavanagh’s eyes.
He stepped back and motioned to the Marines. “Take these two to the infirmary and get them checked out. Sergeant Johnston, inform the officer of the day, on my order, to assemble a duty roster. I want security on these two until further notice.” The sergeant acknowledged his order, and the Marines escorted the chemists out of the lab.
McKay turned to one of the chemistry techs, “Call hazmat; they need to decontaminate this place. Once they finish, put this lab back together.”
Sheppard was waiting in the corridor for him. “Well, that certainly was fun, and I suppose not totally unexpected.” Sheppard headed toward the transporter. McKay fell in step beside him.
“Fools, they are both fools.” McKay shook his head. “You know; these scientists are all pretty smart and for the most part, they get along. Then two freaking idiots come along and act like…like…”
Sheppard smiled, “Freaking idiots.” McKay nodded.
They reached the transporter. As they entered the small chamber, McKay said, “I’m not like what Kavanagh said, I don’t have that kind of ego.”
Sheppard rolled his eyes, “Keep telling yourself that, McKay.”
Defiantly, McKay said, “I’m not egotistical; I’m self-confident.”
As Sheppard tapped the control panel he said, “Oh, OK, so that’s what you’re calling it now.”
McKay had returned to his lab, after stopping by the infirmary to see how his increasing number of injured scientists were doing. Fortunately, all were resting well; Miko awakened for a few moments while he was there. She smiled when she told him that Colonel Sheppard had stopped by and called her a hero. McKay grinned to himself; leave it to Sheppard to make a badly injured woman smile. Deidermeyer and Kavanagh were released while he was there, leaving with a Marine escort. McKay took satisfaction in the fact that neither Marine looked happy with the detail. He imagined the two Marines were hoping their charges would step out of line. McKay wasn’t certain that he didn’t hope that as well.
He finally got back to the data from the life-support systems. He had been pouring over the data for over an hour when Zelenka stopped by, in to update him on the life-support systems.
Zelenka leaned on the corner of the bench, a grin on his face, “I heard Kavanagh was back and that he and Deidermeyer got into a fight. Kluzko cht?l bych že i které nezaznamenala. I would have given anything to see that.“
“Not nearly as much fun as it sounds. What did you find out?“
“We determined all the crystals are there except for a crystal power conduit, and one that controls power levels. The crystals were taken from the console that regulates air pressure during spaceflight.“
“Hmmmm....,“ McKay’s eyebrows pinched together as he thought about the significance of the two crystals. “You’re talking about standard crystals, if someone understood the various crystal types and their functions. But if someone didn’t...“
“They would have to test the crystals until they found one’s that worked.“ Radek finished Rodney’s thoughts.
“Exactly, if I am reading this right, someone was testing these crystals. It seems as if each and everyone of the crystals was pulled, tested, and then replaced, except for those two crystals. Now we have to figure out why someone would need those two crystals. They could only use them in something Ancient. Any reports of any equipment that was working, stopped working, then started working again?“
“Ne, nothing; other than the problems in life-support.“
“Well, someone wants those crystals for a reason. We need to determine what that reason is. I’m going to talk to Woolsey and Sheppard, and let them know what we’ve found.“
Nearly forty minutes had passed before McKay entered Richard Woolsey’s office. He had been stopped by two of his scientists who were having problems with a calculation. He reviewed their data, found the mistake, and left shaking his head. He wondered if he was really that smart or if some of these scientists turned to him with problems they could easily solve but were afraid to solve. Whatever the reason, he supposed it was job security. Then he thought, who in their right mind would want his job. He already knew the answer to that question; he did.
Sheppard was already sprawled in one of the deep comfortable chairs in Woolsey’s office. Woosley was standing on the other side of the low glass table that the chairs surrounded. McKay was tired and he wanted to sit down, so he had no choice but to step over Sheppard’s feet to get to the other chair. He had almost cleared Sheppard when the colonel moved his feet and he fell into the chair sideways. Groaning, he pushed up, turned around and sat down.
“Hey, watch it, McKay,” Sheppard complained.
“You watch it. Those damn big feet of yours in those boots are a hazard.”
Sheppard just laughed, making McKay suspicious he had tripped him on purpose. He wouldn’t put it past him. The bravest man he had ever known had an inner child he fed with mischief regularly.
Woolsey sat down in the other chair. “Dr. McKay, what have you found out about the situation in life-support?”
“We have determined that two crystals are missing. They are from the console that regulates air pressure when Atlantis is in space.”
“So nothing critical to be worried about,” Woolsey responded.
Sheppard groused, “Unless we need to get into space quickly.”
“Well, fortunately, we don’t.” McKay snapped back, which elicited a snarky look from Sheppard.
Woolsey intervened, “Any clue why they are missing, or if they were even present?”
“The crystals were there. Zelenka's team cataloged all the Ancient equipment and all the crystals. They were on the inventory. As to why they are missing; I don’t know.”
Sheppard was tapping the arm of his chair, clearly contemplating what he just heard. “Rodney, didn’t Dr. Porter bring back several Ancient devices a couple of weeks ago. I know that you told me that they would be cataloged and researched before you needed me to initialize them.”
“Yes, Porter led a team to, let me think.” Rodney snapped his fingers as he was trying to recall the planet, “um…MX6-226. A Marine team discovered a small outpost that had a lot of devices, some of them fairly large. Porter led a mission to document the devices and move what could be moved to Atlantis.”
“Doctor, do you have any idea what any of the devices were for?” Woolsey asked.
Rodney shrugged, “A couple of the larger pieces appear to be standard consoles. There were a couple of devices that were nearly as large as the consoles, that we really don’t have a clue what they were used for. I haven’t seen a report yet that they’ve been identified.”
Sheppard asked, “The devices are in the Ancient artifacts’ lab?”
“Some might be there and some might be in Dr. Corinth’s lab. He is the primary cataloger and researcher”
“Any reason he would want to have crystals to check out a device?” Woolsey asked.
‘No, no one with the ATA gene is allowed near the lab until we know what we are dealing with. I don’t want any repeats of exploding tumors.” McKay visibly shuddered as he remembered that terrible Sunday.
Apparently realizing McKay’s discomfort, Sheppard quickly added. “They won’t let me near the building where they keep the devices until they are almost certain the devices won’t kill them or me.” He chuckled, as did Woolsey.
“Dr. McKay, you are saying that Dr. Corinth wouldn’t try to power up a device if it needed a crystal?”
“No, it wouldn’t do him any good, even though some of the devices will turn on if they have the crystals and power component, they just won’t initialize without the gene. They might glow but they won’t work.”
“Why don’t we ask Dr. Corinth to come here and tell us what he thinks he has? Perhaps that will shed some light on our situation.” Woolsey directed to McKay, who tapped his COM.
While McKay was requesting Corinth come to the main tower, Beckett entered Woolsey’s office. He looked relieved to see Sheppard there as well, “We may have a problem.”
Sheppard sat up straight in his chair. Woolsey looked concerned and asked, “What kind of problem, doctor.”
“Well, I don’t know if it’s really a problem, but I think it might be, I just…”
Sheppard interrupted, “Carson, what may be the problem?”
“I was doing inventory of the compounds that I keep on hand. I should have twenty vials of the ATA therapy. I have only 19. Someone took a dose out of the locked cabinet.” Beckett looked quite distraught.
“So, if the gene takes, then whoever stole the vial can work just about anything in Atlantis.” Sheppard stood up. Absently, he rested his right hand on the grip of his P-14, which was strapped to his hip.
“It’s a little less than a fifty-fifty chance that the therapy would take. However, yes, after a few hours they could operate most everything here.”
“Well, doc, I don’t mind more people getting the gene. I just need to know who they are when they start looking for the keys to the jumper.”
McKay stood up, “I think I know who took the vial.” He paused, the three men staring at him, “I couldn’t reach Corinth, so I contacted Zelenka. He said Corinth had been off sick for two days. He’s not answering his COM.”
Sheppard whirled around, heading out to Chuck’s station, “I need to know if Dr. Corinth is in his quarters.”
Chuck tapped the request into his laptop and looked up at the colonel, “No sir, he’s not.”
Sheppard tapped his COM, “Lorne; I need for you to organize search parties. Dr. David Corinth is missing. At this point, I want you to treat him as armed and dangerous, at least until we figure out where he might be. A vial of the ATA gene therapy is missing from the infirmary, and Corinth may have taken it. Search the jumper bay and post guards, jumpers are grounded. Returning off-world jumpers will be allowed to dock. Scans show that Corinth is not in his quarters, but check there anyway. I want…hold on.” He stopped as he saw Zelenka heading toward Woolsey’s office looking very concerned.
McKay barked, “What did you find out?”
Zelenka sighed, “The Ancient Artifact room is in disarray. There are two pieces of equipment missing, a large device that Dr. Porter just recovered and a smaller piece that we thought could be a scanner of some sort.”
“Lorne; Corinth may be holed up somewhere on Atlantis with some Ancient devices. Dispatch only non-ATA troops into those areas, and look in the areas where sensors are spotty. Report back in ten minutes, Sheppard out.”
Sheppard was pacing back and forth in the control room. The teams had been searching for nearly an hour with no success. McKay was sitting at an empty console. He was resetting the sensor parameters to see if he could penetrate into the areas of Atlantis where there was still damage from the time Atlantis was underwater. He wasn’t having much luck either.
McKay glanced up. Sheppard was still pacing, “Sit down before you make everyone in here nuts.”
“Sheppard stopped, sitting on the corner of a riser, which a console sat on. "They should have found something by now.”
“It’s a fairly big city, give them a break.”
Sheppard looked at Chuck, “Anything about Peet yet?”
“Major Lorne sent a team to her quarters and to her lab. I haven’t heard back yet.”
Ten minutes before, one of the biologists, Dr. Janice Peet, was reported missing by her friend, Dana Parks from the IT department. They were to meet at 1745 hours for dinner but Peet didn’t show. When Dana tried to reach her on the radio, there was no answer. After trying several times, Dana finally contacted her friend Sergeant Brenner. The sergeant, participating in the search underway, reported Dana’s concerns to Captain Stackhouse. A search had begun for Dr. Peet as well.
A few more nerve-wracking minutes passed. Finally, Lorne reported in, “Colonel, we have checked Dr. Peet’s lab and her quarters, nothing sir. However, Lieutenant Margoles found a COM in the corridor near the south transporter, along with a small notebook, that has Dr. Peet’s name in it. Sir, I’m pulling some teams from other areas to concentrate on the south pier.”
“Good job, Lorne, keep me posted.”
“Carson,” Beckett had returned to the control room, after answering an emergency call. He looked over at the colonel who continued, “Has Dr. Peet undergone the gene therapy? I can’t remember.”
“Yes, but it’s very weak in her. She really can’t operate much more than a scanner. I don’t think she can pilot a jumper.”
McKay scoffed, “She can’t pilot a jumper because she can’t see out the window.”
“I know; she looks around twelve, doesn’t she?” Sheppard thought about the 4’ 9” biologist, who was 26. She was tough, and had proven it when she rescued a much larger colleague after a lab accident. Now he was concerned. She had been taken by Corinth, who might think she could operate some device. Now they were running against time. He couldn’t wait any longer. He was going to go look for Peet.
“Come on, Rodney, let’s go.” He jumped up from the riser and header toward the gate room stairs.
“Where are you going?” McKay called after him.
“To find Peet and Corinth, let’s go.”
“Sheppard you can’t. You could get too close to a piece of Ancient tech that we don’t know anything about.”
Sheppard was already at the base of the steps, “Not sitting here any longer, McKay. If you’re coming, come on.” He turned and headed across the gate room.
Beckett breezed past him and he yelled, “Where are you going?
“I’m going to help the colonel. Are ya just gonna stand there?”
McKay followed Beckett down the stairs, and they jogged a bit to catch up with Sheppard. McKay muttered, “This is crazy. We’ve all got the gene. We could blow Atlantis up for all we know.”
Beckett flashed a frown, “Rodney; we need to help the colonel.”
Sheppard was waiting for them at the transporter, “It’s about time.” They entered the chamber and Sheppard tapped the point indicating the south pier.
“This is hopeless; we don’t have any idea where this guy.” McKay was looking at his scanner screen. I only see us and Captain Stackhouse’s team, no one else.”
“Rodney, you know there are some areas that the sensors don’t work. Now keep looking.”
They were deep under the waterline, two stories above the lower hull of Atlantis. The star drive control center was located directly below them. There were numerous rooms on this level, but difficult to tell whether they were offices, labs, or crew quarters. The lower levels in the area had flooded when they first arrived, their arrival triggering the rise of Atlantis from the ocean floor. The furniture in the area had shifted so much that there was no way of knowing where anything had been. The decks had been cleaned, and now they searched one empty room after another.
Another thirty minutes passed. Sheppard, McKay and Beckett were about to descend to the next level when Stackhouse contacted him. “Colonel, we found him. We’ve found a locked door; none of the others are locked. I contacted him on the radio; he’s got Dr. Peet, sir. He wants someone with the gene in exchange for her.
Sheppard replied, glancing at his companions, “Location, Stackhouse?”
“We’re on the east side, sir; level three, two corridors over from the transporter hall.”
“We’re on our way.” Sheppard peered over his shoulder, “Come on, Stackhouse found him. He has Peet and will exchange her for someone with the gene.” On the way, Sheppard contacted Lorne; he had the major bring other teams.
“Sheppard, I’m telling you, we don’t know what kind of device he has. We need to keep our distance." McKay protested.
“Rodney, we’re here; we’re doing this.”
They turned left and crossed over to the dimly lit corridor that Stackhouse indicated. At the far end they could see the lights from the team’s P-90’s. As they got nearer, Stackhouse walked toward him.
“Sir, we found this outside the door.”
The captain was holding a round gold pin, engraved with an ornate seal. Sheppard held his hand out to take the pin, but Rodney grabbed it first. “This pin, it’s from the Biological Society. Peet won an award, which entitled her to wear this pin.”
Sheppard smiled, “Smart girl; she left a clue.” He asked the captain, “You tried the door, and it’s locked?” Stackhouse nodded.
“Did you talk to Peet, captain?”
“No, sir, but I could hear her in the background, talking to him.”
“How does Corinth sound, is he lucid or out of his mind?”
“Nervous, agitated, his voice is really shaky, colonel.”
“Rodney, you know this guy; is he dangerous?” Sheppard asked.
“I don’t know, no. He’s an archeologist who specializes in artifacts. How dangerous could that be?”
“OK, captain, talk to him, tell him you've called for someone with the gene. See if he'll let Peet go.”
As Stackhouse contacted Corinth, Sheppard heard Beckett calling for a med team and sedatives.
“Rodney, check out the door, see if it’s in working condition. If it is, I’ll ask Atlantis to override the lock.”
Stackhouse was doing a lot of listening, after a few minutes, he told Corinth, he would be right back to him. “Sir, he says he has a device that he has to get operating, he keeps saying something about the shot didn’t work, and she can make it work either. I asked him what he wanted to do with the device. He wouldn’t tell me, keeps asking for someone with the gene.”
Sheppard took a step toward where Rodney was inspecting the crystals in the door lock panel. “Is the door working?”
“Yeah, it’s in good order. If he doesn’t have the gene, how could he lock it? We had to add electronic locks to the quarters of the crewmembers that didn’t have the gene.”
“Stackhouse, ask him why the door’s locked.”
They waited as the captain asked the question and received an answer, “He said the “girl” did it.”
“OK, tell him, you have someone with the gene here, and he’s coming in.”
“Sheppard, don’t, I’ll go.” McKay pleaded.
“No, I have the natural gene. It’s stronger than yours. Rodney, I’ll go.”
Sheppard gave them both a hard look, “Both of you, be quiet. I’m doing this.”
He went to the door and stood silently as he let his mind drift to Atlantis. Within a few seconds, the door slid open and Sheppard entered the room.
The lights became brighter as he walked into the stark chamber. Corinth was standing over Dr. Peet, who was sitting cross-legged on the floor. He was holding a knife, pointed at her throat. The young biologist smiled as he walked in, letting him know she was OK. Corinth was a slight man, about 5’ 9”, with sandy brown hair and pale eyes. He was clearly nervous; his hand holding the knife was quivering.
“Colonel Sheppard, you came to turn this on for me?” He waved the knife toward the device sitting in the center of the room. The device was approximately the size of a large microwave with short tapered legs. There was writing on it, but Sheppard couldn’t make it out from where he was standing.
“Yeah, Corinth, I came to help. Why don’t you let Dr. Peet go, and we’ll work on the device together?" He took a couple of steps toward Peet. He hoped to get close enough to grab her and pull her out of the way.
“No, stay back, don’t get close to her. She couldn’t make it work, and I didn’t have time for anyone else. If I don’t get this working, we’re all going to die.” He glanced at the device.
“Why are we all going die, Corinth?” Sheppard took advantage of Corinth looking away and inched a bit closer.
“They’ll come and they’ll kill us; this Ancient tech is the only thing that will save us.”
Sheppard asked quietly, “Who’s coming to kill us?”
“I don’t know what they call themselves, but they’ve here. They come at night. This device will keep them away.”
“Hey, doc, don’t worry, we’ll keep them away. We kept the Wraith away and the Replicators away. We’ll make sure these bad guys don’t hurt anyone.”
As Sheppard was talking to Corinth, he saw the red laser mark from a sniper rifle; he knew that Corporal Rodriguez was in position to eliminate the threat. He didn’t want that to happen. Thankfully, he knew Rodriguez was not a trigger happy sniper. He wouldn’t fire, unless he felt Peet or Sheppard was in mortal danger.
“Doc, tell me about the device, how it going to protect us?”
“I couldn’t get it work, and I saw it has places for crystals, so I went looking for crystals to give it power. I got it turned on, but it wouldn’t do anything. Then I realized that it probably needed to be initialized.” He began pacing a few steps in each direction.
“Well, I couldn’t ask anyone because no one knew what I knew yet, that they were coming. I wanted everything in place before anyone knew, so that they wouldn’t be scared. So I took a hypo and a vial of the gene therapy serum from the infirmary. It didn’t work, colonel. I couldn’t save anyone. So I saw Dr. Peet this afternoon, and I knew she had the gene, so I brought her here where I had it hidden. But she can’t make it work either. We’re going to die, because I can’t make it work.” He was becoming extremely agitated, his pacing becoming jerky and more rapid.
Sheppard began to move parallel to the device and away from Peet. Corinth had stopped pacing and was standing over the machine. Sheppard took a couple of side steps and then stepped forward until he was almost next to the machine. Turning his body, he was finally in between Corinth and Peet and was close enough to grab the archeologist if he tried anything. Turning his upper body, Sheppard motioned for Peet to escape. The biologist slowly rose to her feet, then ran as quickly as she could out of the room.
Corinth was slow to react, but when he did, he started screaming. “Where did she go? She has to turn this on.” The knife was waving wildly in the air, and he was clearly fighting panic.
“It’s OK, doc, remember I have the strongest gene on Atlantis. I'll get this working for you. Then you can save everyone. Let me get closer to the machine.”
“Yeah, you do; everyone says so. You’re the one who activates stuff after I research it. Yeah, yeah, you do it.”
Sheppard knelt down next to the machine and could finally read the Ancient writing. He breathed a sigh of relief. He was, at least, certain that the device was not a weapon. The Ancient word for agriculture and light were written on the top.
“Can you make it work?”
“I think so. Why don’t you put down the knife and come help me?” Sheppard gave him his most non-threatening look.
No, no, I’ll just turn it on, then you make it work.” Before Sheppard could stop him, Corinth pressed a silver bar on the small control panel on the top. Sheppard scooted away from the machine, trying not to think the device on, but the device activated. A panel on the top opened and the room filled with a bright white light. Sheppard tried to stand up, but he was disoriented. He tripped over his own feet and went down hard, hitting his head on the deck. The bright white light faded to darkness.
Seconds after waking, he had no doubts where he was. The soft cadence from the beeping monitors next to his bed was the only clue he needed. His head hurt and he was afraid to open his eyes. He slowly raised his eyelids to take a tiny peek. He was immediately thankful that the light was subdued and the room was quiet; quiet except for the clattering of keys on a keyboard.
He spoke, his voice rough, “Could you type silently, please?”
Rodney jumped up, “Hey; he’s awake.” Within seconds, Teyla and Ronon were next to his bed along with Rodney. Rodney then yelled to a nurse at a nearby bed, “Get the doctors. He's awake.”
Sheppard attempted to sit up, but a wave of nausea convinced him not to do so. Teyla didn’t miss his reaction, “John, are you OK?”
He nodded, then decided that wasn’t too smart either. He wanted to sleep, but he needed to know what happened.
He looked toward Rodney, “The device, it had something to do with agriculture? “
Rodney nodded, “Once we had an idea of what it did, Zelenka found it in the database. It was a prototype of a device to supplement sunlight on planets with bad climates. If it worked the Ancients were going to deploy them in space. In his delusion, Corinth translated the word for agriculture as the word for weapon.”
“How are Peet and Corinth?”
”Dr. Peet was examined and discharged. She’s fine and resting in her quarters. Corinth is under sedation.” Teyla answered, then moved aside as Beckett arrived.
“Well, colonel, I believe this is your favorite bed. Let’s check you out.” Beckett spent the next few minutes asking questions to assess Sheppard's memory and examining his eyes. As he shined the penlight into Sheppard’s eyes, the colonel balked.
“Carson, stop that, the light hurts”
“Your eyes are going to be sensitive to light for a few days, colonel. You’ll probably want to wear sunglasses even inside and stay out of brightly lit areas. You also have a minor concussion, but you’ll be fine.”
Sheppard started to get up but the nausea smacked him again. Beckett noticed. ”I’ll get you something for the nausea. And no, you’re not leaving until, at least, tomorrow morning.”
Sinking back into the pillows, he said, “How’s Corinth?”
“Sedated, Dr. Warren thinks he has had a psychotic episode. He woke up for a bit. He told Warren he had a dream about aliens attacking Atlantis. He couldn’t save Atlantis because he didn’t have the gene. So he began to fixate on obtaining the gene. When this new device was found, he imagined it was Atlantis’ salvation. Warren thinks he’ll be fine and functional once he’s medicated. For now, however, he needs full-time psych care. We’re going to send him through the gate tomorrow. Some Marine’s are going on thirty-day leave, and they will accompany him through the gate.
“That’s good, doc. Tired.” He closed his eyes and drifted off, his teammates settling in around his bed to watch over him.
Rodney stumbled into his quarters, exhaustion overcoming his resolve. Teyla and Ronon ran him out of the infirmary. Teyla left when he did, to look after her son since Kaanan was on the mainland. Ronon was staying in the infirmary with Sheppard. They convinced him that Sheppard was fine and would be ok without all of them.
He had gone to his lab to try and salvage some of the work he was planning on doing that day. He hadn’t lasted very long. He did hear from one of the astronomers that Deidermeyer and Kavanagh had gotten into a fight again, but no fisticuffs. However, the large Sergeant Johnston had gotten to restrain Kavanagh to everyone’s delight. He pulled his clothes off and nearly crawled into the shower. He was hoping he could wash some of the day’s craziness away. At least, the latest update on Miko, Messer, Egorov, and the Marines showed they were all recovering nicely. He chuckled as he remembered what happened when the Marines saw Sheppard being wheeled in on a Gurney. A clanging of metal IV poles permeating the infirmary as Isaacs and two of the Marines leapt out of bed to check on their CO, and were promptly hustled back to bed by an unsympathetic nurse.
He stood for a long while letting hot air jets in the shower dry him, then put on his favorite pajama’s and flopped down onto the bed. It was 0215 hours; in less than three hours he had to be up for the 0600 science briefing. Maybe he’d sleep until 0530 hours. After all, tomorrow couldn’t be as bad as the day he just had. His last thought, as he fell asleep, was to wonder who he was kidding. This was Atlantis, tomorrow could be worse.