Pairing: None, I'm sorry! I really did try. Honest! Stop looking at me like that! I did! At least there is some dreaming about pairings. Does that count?
Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of the people or events depicted in this work of fiction. It is intended for the amusement of the recipient and no profit has been made from it.
Author's Notes: moose_happy wanted slash. Chuck/Woolsey or Woolsey/Sheppard...and no tentacles. I hope she reads this anyway. ::sigh::
Summary: Colonel Sheppard would come for him. 'Leave no man behind'. John Sheppard embodied that motto. He wouldn't be left here to be tortured. He would go home. He needed to think clearly, to concentrate. The headache he'd had since waking made it hard to remain alert. 'Stand firm. They'll come. Sheppard will come. Give them time.'
Richard had never been able to handle extreme heat. He knew that. Why had he thought that this post to Israel, no matter how wonderful, would make that easier? He'd been swayed by the title, of course. Ambassador Woolsey. It has such a dignified ring to it. But the heat is stifling and the embassy was without air conditioning.
Wouldn't as cosmopolitan country as Israel have air conditioning in its foreign embassies? It had been cool in his office there; he remembered how pleasant it was each morning, coming into that welcome cool. His term as Ambassador had been brief. A new President had wanted his own man in place. He hadn't been sorry to leave the grit and heat behind.
Ambassador Woolsey. Ambassador Woolsey? He hadn't been Ambassador for fifteen years. Richard shook his head; feeling the sweat run down his face, drip from his hair. His head pounded horribly.
"My name is Richard Woolsey. I am employed by the IOA, assigned to the Pegasus galaxy as Administrator for the Atlantis Expedition. My name is Richard Woolsey. I am employed by the IOA, assigned to the Pegasus galaxy as Administrator for the Atlantis Expedition."
The room around him jerked and stilled, the scene shifting with nauseating speed.
"My name is Richard Woolsey!" he shouted now, "I am employed by the IOA!"
The room seemed to spin even faster before jerking still and plunging Richard into darkness.
"My name is Richard Woolsey. My friends will come for me. I will not give in."
He could only pray that that was true.
"Tell me again why you thought it was a good idea for Mr. Woolsey to leave the base and join an away team when he is not trained for off-world missions or weapons certified!" John Sheppard stepped closer to the cowering Lieutenant in front of him. "What was so vital that you would insist on such a thing without recalling the Major or myself for a consultation?"
"Sir." Lt. Jacobs swallowed noisily. "Sir. The Tal leadership specifically asked for him. They said they had heard we wanted a crystal power source and they could arrange a trade!" Seeing that his commander wasn't mollified by that Jacobs ground to a halt. "Sir."
John stayed in the sweating Lieutenants face while directing his question to Sergeant Boyington who had accompanied the team to the Tal Homeworld. "You have anything to add to this clusterfuck, Sergeant?"
"Sir. The leaders seemed very eager to speak with Mr. Woolsey personally. When pressed they said that it was an honor thing. We weren't high enough on the food chain to satisfy their importance." The Sergeant was a veteran of the SGC and had a highly developed Bullshit detector. The Tal? Full on off the charts. "They wanted our leader and when Lt. Jacobs said that was Mr. Woolsey? They wanted him."
Jacobs risked a glare at his second. Way to be thrown under the bus, the look said. Boyington just shrugged. Woolsey got captured while in his care. Being reamed out by the Colonel was small enough price to pay.
Sighing, Sheppard took a step back from the now trembling Jacobs.
"Alright. Again, slowly and without leaving anything out, start with first contact."
"My name is Richard Woolsey..." Richard's voice was hoarse, his throat dry and aching. It seemed as though days had passed with him in this strange room with its ever-changing images but in reality he knew it could only have been hours.
Just hours. Cling to that. Hours.
Colonel Sheppard would come for him. 'Leave no man behind'. John Sheppard embodied that motto. He wouldn't be left here to be tortured. He would go home. He needed to think clearly, to concentrate. The headache he'd had since waking made it hard to remain alert. 'Stand firm. They'll come. Sheppard will come. Give them time.'
It had only been hours.
"Major, take your team here," Colonel Sheppard ran a finger over the map that the first contact team had been able to parse together. "Come in from this angle. Meet up with Stackhouse here," he drew in, tightening the circle around the compound they figured Woolsey was being held in.
"Stackhouse, bring your team down from this angle. Wait for Lorne. When you're together I want you to advance to here." Tapping the final destination on the map he looked up to spear each team leader with a look that brooked no argument.
"Wait for me there. Do not engage without backup." With the acknowledgement from his men Sheppard gathered up the map and folded it into his Tac vest.
"Mr. Woolsey. Such a strange name, Woolsey. We shall call you Richard, as your friends do. Wouldn't you like to be Our friend, Richard?"
Richard jerked awake. "Who are you? What am I doing here? I must insist that you release me at once. I am a diplomatic envoy from the City of the Ancestors and as such you have no right to hold me."
"We will release you, of course." The hidden voice was so reasonable, so accommodating. "We have no wish to keep you from your people."
"You have only to tell us what we need to know and We will escort you to the Ring at once."
"What is it you want from me?" Richard could guess. The city and its weapons. It was always the weapons.
"The City of the Ancestors has many secrets, does it not? Storehouses of information ripe for picking? Yes, We see that it does." The pain seemed to wiggle and worm its way around in Richards's skull. "Yes, there is much to be learned and you will help Us gain that knowledge, Richard."
The pain pressed deeper into Richards brain." If you do not? We will be forced to convince you otherwise."
"I will not give in to you! I will not give you what you want!" Richard swallowed his building sense of panic as the room began its eerie change. "My name is Richard Woolsey. I am employed..."
The room began to tilt and Richard slid into a welcome, pain free blackness.
"Dial the gate," Sheppard called up to the command deck. As the chevrons began to lock he took a moment to look over his team, mentally checking their battle readiness. He reached over to tighten the straps of Rodney's vest, a gesture he performed each time they went through the wormhole.
"You'd think after all this time you'd know how to cinch that thing up."
"Then what would you have to fuss over before we leave?" Rodney asked, reasonably. He shifted uncomfortably. "Woolsey's less trained for off-world problems like kidnapping and torture than even my scientists. This is probably going to be ugly."
"Yeah." Sheppard knew. He'd tried to get Elizebeth field training and she'd refused, Carter had been battle ready and probably a better soldier than John. Somehow Woolsey had just slipped through the cracks. When, not if but when, they got him back that was going to change.
"Let's go. Lorne? You've got our six."
Richard slowly became aware of his surroundings again. It was lighter and much warmer than before. He could smell the ocean.
Atlantis? He was back on Atlantis? But how...
"Mr. Woolsey, could you sign this requisition form for today's data transfer?" Chuck held out a tablet for him.
"Chuck." Richard found himself smiling at the friendly gate room technician. He was always such a pleasure to work with. Capable. Quiet. Attractive. Richard had discovered within days of working for the IOA that many of the people he worked with were extremely attractive. It made for very pleasant daydreams! He smiled again as he reached for the data pad the younger man was holding out to him.
It was only when he reached to take the pad from the Sergeants hand that Richard realized that he was still in the strange, changing room. He had never acknowledged, even to himself, how much he fantasized about his Gate tech. He never had allowed daydreams.
The memories of them were not real.
"We only need your approval for the weapons we requested, Mr. Woolsey. Please sign the form."
It wasn't Chuck. It couldn't be.
"You're not Sergeant Campbell. I don't know what you are, but you're not the Sergeant." His headache grew to the point Richard was sure he would pass out. He wanted to pass out. "My name is Richard Woolsey! I am employed by the IOA, assigned to the Peg..." the strange tilting sensation began again. The pain in his head and the vertigo inducing movement made him gag.
The Tal leadership looked decidedly green when confronted with twenty armed, angry men with automatic weapons pointed their way. Most of them took careful steps back, leaving only one to face the wrath of Colonel Sheppard.
"I'm not a patient guy. I tend to lose interest in diplomatic discussion pretty early." Sheppard pressed the barrel of his P-90 into the chest of the lone leader still in front of him. "You may have heard that from the Genii."
The Tal swallowed convulsively. He had indeed heard of Colonel Sheppard's exploits to the detriment of the Genii. "We meant no harm to your leader. We caused him no injury."
"See, that's not how I see it." A firm poke to the chest, "You lured him to your planet by falsely representing your intentions." Another, even firmer poke. "You kidnapped him and injured my people," Sheppard held the weapon hard against the heaving chest in front of him.
"You have ten seconds to tell me where Mr. Woolsey is and how we can retrieve him or my limited patience with you will have come to an end."
"You are allowing yourself to suffer so. We do not understand. Your thoughts are clear. You have fondness for this...Chuck." The voice hesitated over the unfamiliar name. "You would wish to see him again, We are sure."
"We can return you to him. Return you to your friends. It will be so simple, so painless." The voice gentled, nearly cooing to Richard in its persuasion. "Would you like to be free of the pain, Richard? Would you like to return to your home?"
They were causing the pain, then. Richard felt foolish for not realizing that first. Knowing it now gave him a little surge of strength. They hadn't beaten him yet. He could hang on, no matter how sick he felt; how much his head hurt.
It had only been hours. He would hold out.
"My name is Richard Woolsey! I am a diplomat from the City of the Ancestors! You have no right to hold me and I demand you release me at once!"
The resulting spike of pain sent Richard sliding back into the dark.
"You do not understand!" the Tal leader cried. "We do not challenge The Will! We cannot!"
"The Will?" Sheppard eased his posture, giving the man hope that he may live through this with cooperation. "Explain this Will to me."
"There is much to tell. Please. My name is Armann. I am but one of the Leadership." Armann cast a glare at his still-retreating co-leaders. "I will explain what I know. Please."
John took a step back and gestured to the curving wall surrounding the courtyard where they stood. "Have a seat. Start talking."
"My master?" Richard opened his blurry eyes. Just as quickly he snapped them shut again.
"Dr. Keller!" Jennifer Keller was indeed with him just as Chuck had been. Not real, not real, not real, Richard repeated in his head. Opening his eyes again he found Jennifer still sitting at the foot of his bed (when did I get into bed?) wearing nothing but a slave collar and chain.
Richard moved to put his covers over her naked form only to find that under them he was naked as well. Torn now whether to cover the Doctor or keep himself covered he didn't notice as his hallucination began to crawl up the bed to sit astride his lap.
"Order me, my Master. Order me to do delicious, depraved things." She shivered in apparent delight at the thought. "Beat me, my Master!" Her delicate hands reached down to touch herself...
"My name is Richard Woolsey!" he shouted, eyes screwed tightly shut. "I am the Administrator of the Atlantis Project. I will not give in to you no matter what things you pull out of my mind!"
Struggling against the pain that seemed to will him to obey he cried out, "I will not give in!" before loosing consciousness again.
Rodney McKay was stumped. Not that he was willing to admit that just yet. The Tal had shown them the Pillar of the Will without the need for bloodshed. They'd spilled everything they knew but sadly what they knew was useless. It was The Will. It caused pleasure for obedience, pain for failure. It knew all, saw all.
They were clearly afraid of the thing, so something happened with it but it seemed dead now.
It was an interface of some sort, that much Rodney could tell. Not Ancient, but similar. It made sense really. To think that the Ancients had been the only advanced race in the millennia that had passed here in Pegasus made little sense.
Another race destroyed by the Wraith. With a dispirited sigh he turned back to the display in front of him. Sheppard would be hovering soon, demanding answers. He'd better have something besides what he had now. Nothing.
"Your thoughts are strange to Us, Richard." The Voice was back so Richard assumed there would be no naked co-workers with him. He was right. Back to the strange dark room. "Strange and but interesting. Why do you not allow yourself to act upon these images that you harbor?" The Voice seemed to draw closer to him even though there clearly was no one in the room with him.
"Do you fear the response, Richard? Do you fear rejection?" Richard squirmed uncomfortably. It was clear that somehow his mind was compromised. Visions...lurid, life-like visions...of things he barely considered were on display. Clearly these hidden beings had the technology to take even these hidden thoughts from him so why did they need him to give them information? What was it that he was missing? If only the pain would ease an allow him to think.
"We can give you what you want, Richard." The Voice was so gentle, the pain almost like a caress. "Give in to Us. Give Us your mind, Richard, and We will give you all that you want." A warm gust of air stroked down over his sweating brow, further easing his pain. He wanted to give in then, wanted to obey just so the pain would go away. It wouldn't be so bad. His friends would still be safe.
Richard shoved those thoughts aside. His friends would most surely not be safe! He'd be abandoning them to this same fate! No. He must not give in. Sheppard would come. He would. Richard just had to hold on.
"My name is Richard Woolsey. I will not give in to you or cooperate with you in any way." The pain! Richard couldn't help but cry out as it roared back into his skull, pressed behind his eyes, squeezed, squeezed, squeezed his jaw until he was sure it would snap. He forced his mouth to work against the pressure to stay closed.
"I will not give in!" Never had the blackness seemed more kind.
Clearly frustrated with the lack of progress in initializing the pillar, Sheppard decided to go proactive. He grabbed hold of Armann and pulled the squealing man over to where his team waited.
"Talk to your Will." At the vehement headshake John raised his weapon to show his intent. "Talk. Now."
"No, please, Colonel! I will be punished!" Armann cowered down, covering his head with his arms. "Please!"
Sheppard crouched down to look the man in the eyes. "You've brought this on yourselves and it ends now. You will talk to your Will or you are no use to me. Shooting you will have the desired effect of proving to the others how unhappy I am with your lack of co-operation." Sheppard smiled. It only served to frighten Armann further, as was his intention.
"Talk or die, Armann." Sheppard smiled again, and patted Armann's cheek. "Your call."
"Richard." Hands calloused by hard wear gripped Richard's chin, tipping his face towards a light. "Mr. Woolsey, can you hear me?" Richard knew that voice. Sheppard. He'd finally come. Safe. He was afraid to open his eyes because if this was another illusion he was afraid he would indeed break.
"Come on, buddy," another gentle tug on his chin. "Give me some kind of sign here." That sounded so like Sheppard. Maybe...
Richard eased his eyes open. He found himself in the strange room where he'd first woken. Sheppard and his team along with what seemed half the military contingent stood around him.
Safe. Thank God, it really was Sheppard. Relief flowed through Richard's body, hiding for the moment that the pain was still there, lurking in the background.
Sheppard bent down to look Richard in the eyes. "Back with us?"
Richard nodded. "There's some alien tech involved here, Colonel. I can't seem to move."
"Well of course you can't move, Richard." Sheppard's beautiful, ever-changing eyes twinkled. "Why would I want you to move?"
"What?" What was the Colonel driving at? Why wasn't he working to release him?
"With you gone the IOA isn't going to be willing to ship out another one of their people to take your place." Sheppard stood, still smiling down at Richard. "Dangerous place, Pegasus. Lots of bad stuff happens here. Should have been run by the military to start with." Sheppard reached over and gently patted Richard's shoulder. "Better late than never, right?" He laughed and his men laughed along with him.
"You're not Sheppard." Richard glared up at the faux-Sheppard. "The real Colonel Sheppard would die for any of us. He'd never leave anyone behind and that very definitely includes me!"
Richard knew that deep in his heart he'd wondered if the Colonel wouldn't be happier if he didn't have to answer to a civilian; knew he'd be happier if the IOA wasn't involved. But he'd never leave Richard behind to be tortured. That he'd never wondered about at all.
"You're not going to fool me with this poor imitation of the Colonel! I will not give in to you!" The probing pain spiked and again Richard slid into the painless dark.
"We come to the Pillar to receive pleasure. It is our due for our service to The Will." Armann stopped there as though the others would understand.
"Go on. You come here, then what?" Sheppard gestured to the pillar. "How do you interface with it?"
"I do not understand your word, interface. I have only to touch here to receive my due." Armann reached over to show them the relief cuts on the side of the pillar. "I place my hand here," he placed his left hand on the raised section on the right side of the pillar. "Then I place my hand here," he reached around to a nearly hidden recess on the back.
"That's it?" Sheppard growled, clearly at a loss.
"No. You don't understand! I have already received my pleasure for this cycle. It won't recognize me until it is once again my due!" Armann backed away from the pillar, hands raised to ward off the palpable anger coming from the Atlantis group.
"Well let's see if it likes me better," said Sheppard, stepping forward to mimic Armann's placement of his hands.
"No, Sheppard..." was as much as Rodney, Ronon and the others could get out before the pillar lit up and enveloped Sheppard in bright light.
When the light disappeared Sheppard had as well. All eyes turned to the astonished Armann who looked back at them in confusion.
"That has never happened before!" he declared, dropping to his knees to make as small a target as possible. "I swear to you that has never happened!"
Lorne and McKay exchanged looks. "The gene," said Lorne. "Yeah. Colonel Lightswitch woos another artifact," agreed Rodney.
Ronon paced before them, irritated at the chatter. "Let's follow him, then. Get them both back."
"Your Sheppard is near," purred the Voice. Richard could only hope that it was telling the truth. He wouldn't be able to endure much longer. "We look forward to meeting him. You speak so highly of him, perhaps he will give Us what We need."
Richard nearly laughed but caught himself in time. "You don't know the Colonel." A pain spike hit, no doubt retaliation for the amusement he'd poorly hid. "He makes me look very co-operative. You'll get no satisfaction from him."
Satisfaction. Knowledge. The probing. It all finally began to make an awful kind of sense.
"You're a machine!"
"We do not think of Ourselves as a mechanical, but you may draw that parallel. We are The Will. The Others put Us in charge so that peace would reign."
The Voice was very proud, for a machine. Could machines feel pride? Richard resolved to ask Radek or Dr. Simpson when he got home.
"We have ruled for millennia and there is no one to challenge Us. Nothing disturbs Our peace."
"What happened to these Others you spoke of?" Richard was pretty sure he knew the answer to that.
"Still others came; different ones, that We cannot speak to." Lights came up around Richard and he stared in horror at the racks of withered corpses lining the walls. Among them where clearly the remains of Wraith.
"These others came, they left. They are of no consequence to The Will. There is peace, that is all that matters."
"Then why am I here? If peace is enough, why did you have your people kidnap me?"
"It has been so long." The Voice sounded wistful. If it hadn't spent hours digging through his brain Richard would have had pity for it.
"So long since there has been new input. All that they know, We know. All that they do, We have seen." The Voice again drew near, "but you bring new input, Richard. You bring things We have not seen. The others among you will bring even more. Our time will once again be rich."
Of course! The database. It wanted access to the database. Input.
The lights came up higher still, allowing at long last for Richard to see his confinement.
He sat, upright, in a padded chair, wired into a bank of monitors. A wave of panic rose and choked him. "No. No. No." Think! Stay calm! They would come for him. Rodney was with them if Sheppard was here, and Rodney would have the tools needed to see him free from this hell.
"We will give you all you want, Richard. Give Us your mind, let Us feed on what you know, what you dream. Such interesting thoughts you have, Richard. We want them. We need them."
The lights mercifully lowered, cutting off Richards's view of the carnage around him. "If you give yourself to Us and help Us gather your friends you will have Chuck, and this Jennifer, even the Colonel when We have tasted our fill. They will all be yours and more, Richard."
"No. I will never let you hurt my friends. I will never surrender!" Richard took a deep breath, knowing the pain would return in moments. "I am Richard Woolsey..." even prepared, the surge of pain took his voice away and sent him spiraling back into the black.
When his light-dazzled eyes cleared, John found himself in a dark hallway. He flicked on the light on his P-90 and cautiously started forward. He had to assume that the transfer hadn't gone unnoticed. Sooner rather than later he'd meet up with opposition. Pulling out a Life Signs Detector from his Tac vest he took a moment to reconnoiter.
There. That had to be Woolsey. It was the only life sign near by other than his own. John tucked the detector back into his vest and headed out.
"Hold on, big guy." Lorne held up his hands. "Now that we know where the interface is let's let the Doc have another shot at getting it to open up, okay?" Lorne figured they'd give McKay ten minutes, then he'd head after Sheppard. He just wasn't telling Ronon.
"Yes, yes. Working now." Rodney already was dismantling the back of the pillar, much to the dismay of Armann. "Give me a minute."
"Take ten, Doc. But don't break that thing. One way or the other we're going after Sheppard."
Ronon nodded his agreement and resumed his pacing, much to Rodney's annoyance.
"Stand still, you freak. You're blocking my light." Rodney flinched when Ronon strode over to him only to relax again when Ronon dug a flash light out of a pocket and held it exactly where Rodney needed it.
"Well. Yes. Thank you."
John hovered in the darkness just outside the area that he'd identified Woolsey's location to be. One entrance that he'd been able to distinguish, not ideal. Shrugging, he raised the weapon in his hands to at-ready and stepped in the room.
"Colonel Sheppard, We presume." A voice seemly coming from in front of John but no body visible. Weirder and weirder. "We've been waiting for you to arrive. Richard is most eager to see you. You must forgive him. He's a little tied up at the moment!"
A voice with a bad sense of humor. But he could now see Woolsey and he was indeed tied up. Wires attached to his head lead back to a console along one wall. He didn't seem restrained to the chair he was in but was unconscious. Sheppard warily crossed the room to check for signs of life.
"Mr. Woolsey?" Keeping one hand on his P-90 he reached over to check for a pulse. Reassured on finding one he straightened up to reconnoiter. No one else in the room but a wall of long-dead bodies. Where had the voice originated then?
"Your mind is quite active, Colonel. We find that stimulating. Once We have interface We will read much of interest there We are sure."
Movement caught out of the corner of his eye had John twisting around to face the strange wall of monitors. Wires like those surrounding Woolsey's head were writhing towards John.
"I don't share." A long burst of gunfire put an end to the wire tentacles. "I have enough ammo to blow holes in you all day and I'm perfectly happy to do so. My best advice to you is to let us go and maybe, just maybe I won't let my scientist tear you apart."
"You've caused Us harm! You've damaged Our interface! You will regret that!"
Behind John he could hear Richard begin to whimper. No doubt this machine was doing something to him in retaliation for John's attack.
"See, this is how this is going to work." John fired another volley into the machine. Several of the monitors blinked out. "There are more of us than you can stop." More gunfire, sparks, and damage. "It doesn't really matter if you kill Mr. Woolsey, though that would really piss me off. It doesn't really help you if you kill me, but hey, that would just piss off my friends. We'll keep coming, keep destroying bits and pieces until you're nothing but a pile of smoldering rubble." He gestured with the rifle again to make his point plain.
"My guess is you're what the people topside call The Will. You think you're pretty tough shit, but I can assure you that we are much tougher. We don't care about your promises of pleasure and we can outlast your pain, as you can clearly see by how Richard there has been doing." Internally John apologized to poor suffering Richard. No one should have to go through what he'd been enduring.
"Let him go now or I start shooting again." Finger on the trigger, barrel pointed directly at center mass. No way for him to miss and clearly The Will recognized that. With a hydraulic hiss the wires detached from Woolsey's head and withdrew back into the console.
"We only seek input. You are selfish to keep it all for yourselves." The wires that had detached and withdrawn were still visible, peeking out from the console nearest John.
"I don't think so."
"Got it!" Rodney cried, stepping back and typing furiously on his tablet. "Just one more adjustment and..." the face of the pillar opened into a narrow doorway, leading down into the dark.
"Right." Lorne pointed a light down the shaft. Nothing. "McKay, Ronon, you're with me. Torres, Thompson, head back to the gate and report everything. Let them know how to open this thing up again if necessary." A look to Rodney had the scientist sending the instructions to the other tablets among the group. "Stackhouse? Set up a perimeter. No one but ours in, no one but ours out." He stepped forward, into the opening.
The descent down the stairs wasn't difficult, unless one counted listening to McKay expounding on how falling and dying would be a loss for mankind. No life signs save the two they all hoped to be the Colonel and Mr. Woolsey.
At least they were together. "Just ahead." Lorne put his hand on Rodney's shoulder. "Stay between us."
Rodney didn't argue.
Around one last bend and there they were. Sheppard crouched in front of Woolsey, checking his pupils. At the sound of their entry Sheppard rose up, already locked on the three of them as targets.
"We come in peace, Sir." Lorne lowered his weapon and stepped into the dim light so Sheppard could see him clearly. "Can we move him?"
"What have you done?" Rodney looked over the wreckage of what had to have been The Will. "You shot it all up, Sheppard! How are we supposed to study it now?"
"Don't care if you can't study it, Rodney. That thing tried to eat my brain."
"What? No!" Zombies only existed in movies and never in computers.
"What, yes. Wait until Mr. Woolsey recovers some, I'm sure he'll have plenty of details for you." He gestured to Ronon to come nearer.
"Take him topside, okay Chewy? I want out of here ASAP."
With Lorne leading the way they made their way back the way they'd come. "I wish I had enough C-4 on my to blow this place to hell."
Sheppard agreed whole-heartedly.
"He's dehydrated, of course, and exhausted, but nothing seems to be physically wrong with him. What ever was done it left no marks that I can find." Jennifer frowned, marring her youthful face. "He woke for a moment but he seemed confused when he saw me." She tapped her finger against her chin, "in fact, he looked embarrassed."
"I'm sure he'll fill us in when he's rested." Carson was a confused as Jennifer. At least they were sure that no lasting harm had come to their Administrator, and he told the assembled group that.
"Well, good," Sheppard said. "I'd hate to have to break in a new one." The group smiled at the quip and filed out of the infirmary.
"I can't believe you destroyed it before I could get my hands on it. Think of the discoveries you've deprived mankind of."
John shuddered. "I can live with that."
Deep in the healing darkness The Will reached out with what was left of its power. "Send one to Us," it called. "We are hurt. We are hungry."