STEALING LINCOLN

By Lorraine Anderson

"And," John said, "we're stealing this body why?"

"I told you," Rodney said impatiently, "it can't be a body. A body would have to actually have been alive to be a body now. It's a power source."

"In a graveyard?" John looked around. The small area set apart for a graveyard put him in mind something from his childhood. One night, on a dare from one of his classmates, he spent a night hiding in one of the crypts. He had survived, but he swore to this day that he had seen a ghost of the old man from town who had died the year before. He shivered. The light of the three moons on this planet barely lit the place, and he hated to pull out a flashlight out here. After all, he and Rodney were supposed to be guests of the local people, the Aifeds, potential trading partners. He thought longingly of his warm bed back at Atlantis. How did he let Rodney talk him into this?

Rodney shrugged. "How would I know why Ancients did what they did?"

"It's weird to place a ZPM in a graveyard."

"Maybe they thought it was a body," Rodney said, distracted.

"So they buried it? Stretching, Rodney, stretching."

"Maybe they thought whatever it is was alive." Rodney said. "Now they think that it's dead."

"Still stretching."

"And you didn't want Teyla and Ronon with us why?"

"Because…" Rodney stopped.

"Because you don't think they'd approve." John stepped back and folded his arms. "I'm not sure I approve."

"Ah, c'mon," Rodney said. "You asked Elizabeth. She approved."

"I don't think 'use your best judgment' was exactly permission to go grave robbing in the middle of the night," John groused.

"But you did see what my scanner said," Rodney looked exasperated at him.

"Yes," John said. "I did."

Rodney stepped back and looked at the sarcophagus. "There has to be a Zed PM in here."

John sighed. "Oh, all right. I'll pick the lock. Against my better judgment, I should add." He pulled a pack out of a pocket. "Good thing I brought my lock pick tools."

Rodney blinked. "Oh," he said. "I thought you would just shoot it off."

"And alarm the natives?" He pulled out a couple of tools.

"You can pick locks? They teach you that in the Air Force?"

"Not exactly," John grunted. "I taught myself because I thought it would be fun to learn."

"Then why haven't you done it before?"

John rolled his eyes. "How many mechanical locks have you seen out here?" He said. "And besides, it is easier to shoot off a lock." He hesitated. "And more fun."

"I thought you said that picking locks was fun."

"That was before I shot a gun." He bent over the lock.

Rodney was silent for a second. "Can you hurry up?"

John grinned, in spite of his own chills. "Scared, Rodney?"

Rodney grunted. "Not of technology."

John smiled. "But ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties?"

"Are you talking about the wraith?"

"No, not really." Just then, the lock clicked open. "And here you go," he said, pulled the crypt door gently. "After you."

Rodney peered in. "What if…"

"Chicken, Rodney?"

"No…" He stood at the doorway.

"What does your scanner say?"

Rodney shook himself and checked it. "The force is strong in here."

John blinked. "That's my line."

"Sorry," Rodney said. "This place has me spooked."

"Just think," said another voice. "How this place makes me feel?"

They jumped back. John pulled out his gun and aimed it for the doorway. Rodney had retreated – more like ran, John thought – but when he saw that John wasn't following, he slowly pulled his own gun and crept back to John's side.

"You heard that?" Rodney whispered.

"That was me," the voice said amused.

"Who… are you?" John said, his voice going up. He wasn't scared, but he was anxious. What had he stumbled into?

"I'm… Ozymandias."

John gave Rodney a puzzled look. "What? Ozymandias, king of kings?"

"Actually, yes and no."

Rodney gave John a puzzled look. "Who the hell is Ozymandias?"

"Didn't you take literature in school?"

Rodney spread his hands. John pushed the hand with the pistol pointed back towards the doors. "What! I took science classes."

"Yeah, well… I had to take English literature," he steadied his gun at the opening. "But, as I remember, Ozymandias was the name the Greeks gave Ramses the second, and," giving a pointed glance to Rodney, "we know what happened with the Egyptians."

"I'm not a Goa'uld," said the faceless voice, "if that's what worries you." He was silent for a second. "But I haven't heard the name Ramses for a long time."

"Okay," John said. "Then who are you? Because I've seen Ramses. His mummy is in the Cairo museum."

The voice sighed. "I'm a… machine. A machine who looks like Ramses."

"With a spectacular command of English, by the way," Rodney said. "Why should I believe you?"

"Well, a machine would explain your power source," John said, sotte voce.

"True."

"I am powered by an invention of the Alterans."

"The Ancients." John glanced at Rodney. "I never thought of this before, but SG-1 encountered a people called the Altairans who created androids. I wonder if they're related."

"Very possible," Ozymandias said. "Is that what you call the Alterans?"

John cocked his head. "Among other things." He didn't drop his pistol. "So why are you locked up in a cemetery?"

"I… requested it. I allowed my friend Trant to believe I was dying, and I requested to be placed here."

John blinked. "Why?"

"I was on Earth for many thousands of years. I came with the Alterans, when they fled Atlantis for a new life back on Earth. When they started forgetting their origins and married the people of Earth, I started wandering around the globe, living with one people, then another." He sighed. "It was easy. But when I saw your Europeans start to create mechanical devices, I knew I had to leave."

"But," Rodney said, "the ancient peoples of earth had many mechanical devices."

"Yes," Ozymandias said. "But only in a few lands. There were still many barbarians. I knew that these civilizations would fall. And then I saw your Mr. Shelley's poem."

"What?" Rodney said.

"I'll tell you later," John said

"How did you get off of Earth?"

"I knew of the gate in the far north. I went up there and used it."

"But… it was buried in ice."

"It took me many years, and I'm not affected by cold. I am my own power source, remember?"

John blinked. "Look, can you come out here? I'm getting a little creeped out by talking into a dark tomb."

The voice was silent for a second. "I cannot. I am sorry."

"Why?"

"My power is almost gone. I only have enough to talk to you."

"May we," Rodney said, "come in?"

"I… would like that."

"John?" saidTeyla's voice in the night. "What are you doing out here?"

"I had a feeling we would be missed." Rodney said.

"Um," John said.

"Why are you in front of a tomb? With an open door?" Ronon said. "I thought we were forbidden to come out here." John could see him smile in the moonlight.

"Talking with me," said Ozymandias.

"Teyla? Ronon?" John said. "Meet Ozymandias. He is… a robot."

"The proper term is android," Rodney said. "And I believe we were invited in." He swallowed.

Tentatively, they walked in. John flashed his light around the crypt, then focused on a figure on the inside wall. The body's eyes opened, and the head turned slightly to look at them.

The team looked back. In spite of the thin layer of dust – well, he supposed if the natives were going to lock Ozymandias away, they wouldn't s as considerate as to actually dust him – he was handsome. John was reminded of the statues of Ramses he had seen in the desert, and of the pictures he had seen of Ra. And of the poem – "whose frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command" – seemed reflected in this face. But then it – he - smiled. "It's been a long time since I've seen humans."

"Why were you locked up?" Teyla asked. "And why are you here?"

"Ah, dear lady," Ozymandias said with a slight smile, "it was at my request – or, rather, my bidding, as these gentlemen will tell you. As to why I am here, I had come to this planet, and I could see that the natives needed my help to survive. But when I could see that I was hampering their progress by interfering too much - and I knew that my power source – "

"Your Zed PM," Rodney interrupted.

"Is that what you call it?" He smiled at Rodney. "My power source was starting to fail. So I pretended to die, but left instructions to be interred like this. Then I shut myself off until the moment I was needed."

"So what woke you?"

"I sensed that the Wraith were restless. But my power has been too drained. I doubt that I can last much longer."

"What can we do?" Teyla said gently.

"I would like to be taken back to Atlantis."

"Can you… repower yourself there?" Rodney asked.

"No," Ozymandias said. "I am unique, and my power source is not exactly like the source I'm sure you're familiar with, even thought you may read it as similar."

"I will gladly take you back to Atlantis," John said. "But I'm not sure how we're going to get you past the Aifed people."

"Why not tell them the truth?" Ronon said drily.

Teyla shook her head. "Ozymandias," she said, "you're not mentioned all that often now, but I do know that these people still revere you. Trant talks of you often."

"You know of him?" John said. "Why didn't I know about this?"

"Trant's still alive?" Ozymandias said.

"He is." Teyla ignored John. "I don't believe that they would want us to take you, even if you gave your permission."

"It would be a bit like stealing Lincoln," John said.

"Say what?" Rodney said.

"I came across this once. Three men conspired to steal President Abraham Lincoln's body. They had actually gotten down to the casket when they were scared off. Turns out one of the conspirators was a government official."

"You're just a font of useless facts today," Rodney said. "So how does this help us?"

"Well," John said. "It doesn't."

"Why were they taking the body?" Ronon asked.

"To hold it for ransom."

He smiled. "My kind of people."

"Still not helping," Rodney said.

Teyla rolled her eyes. "Can you move at all?" Teyla said.

Ozymandias sighed. "Not enough to help you, I'm afraid."

"Can we take you in pieces?"

Ozymandias shook his head. "No. There are essential systems through my body. My reasoning would be severely impaired should you take me through like that. I was not meant to be disassembled."

"Well," John said. "The way I see it, we have two choices. We negotiate for Ozymandias, while letting them know that he's actually still alive – so to speak – " he glanced at Ozymandias, "or we steal him."

"Which," Teyla said, "is not stealing, since we have his permission."

"If we can get him in the puddle jumper, we can easily put him in storage."

"Fortunately," Ozymandias said drily, "I don't get anxious in tight places."

"The problem is," John said, "is that the puddle jumper is being guarded by the locals."

"Can we hide him in botanical samples?" Rodney said.

John stared at him. "A whole body bag of botanical samples?"

Teyla looked at Ozymandias thoughtfully. "Do you need to breathe?"

"No," Ozymandias said. "Not really. It's part of my automatic functions so I look like I'm breathing, but I don't."

"I have been admiring a rug in the market," she said slowly. "I believe that I shall buy it. And I'll need two strong men to carry it back for me."

"Oh, no," John said. "You have to be kidding. Not the old body in the rug trick."

"What trick?" Ronon said.

Rodney closed his eyes.

#

Ronon and John carried Ozymandias back to their hut, with Teyla for a lookout. As they were approaching the hut, they almost ran into a little girl going to the outhouse. The girl stared at them, wide-eyed, but fortunately, Ozymandias was still hidden by brush. "We were…" Rodney said, at the small child.

"… taking a walk," Teyla said calmly. "We often take midnight walks on our planet."

"Yes," Rodney said, "does wonders for the digestion."

John almost started to giggle.

The tiny girl pointed at the well at the other end of the clearing. "Can you give me water?"

"Of course, honey," Teyla said, and pulled the bucket up, giving her a drink from the dipper."

"Thank you," the girl said. She disappeared back into her hut.

"Why do I feel like the Grinch giving a drink of water to Cindy Lou Who?" Rodney whispered after she disappeared.

John grinned.

They got back to their hut without incident and piled him behind one of the beds. "What if the maid comes in?" Rodney said.

"Rodney," John said slowly. "You're sick."

"No, I'm not," Rodney said. "That was a legitimate concern."

"No," John said. "You're really sick. You can't get out of bed. In fact…"

"Oh, I see. So we can't move the cot." He looked at it with distaste. "But then, how do I get well enough to go through the gate?"

"You'll just have a stomach problem long enough for Teyla to buy the rug. Then we'll load him onto the puddle jumper and take him home."

"Sounds like a plan to me," Ronon said.

"I'm not going to sleep a wink until we're out of here," Rodney said.

A half-hour later, Rodney was snoring and John was staring into the darkness. It wasn't that they weren't doing the right thing – they were, he thought – but it was just that there were so many ways things could go wrong, especially with a potential friendly trading partner.

He doubted they would be so friendly after finding out that they had stolen their revered advisor.

His thoughts wound around and around the problem until he fell asleep.

#

When he woke up, Ronon and Teyla were gone, hopefully gone to the market to buy a nice, big rug. Rodney was still snoring. John would have loved to move the bed to check on their visitor, but he contented himself by leaning over at looking at Ozymandias. The android or robot or whatever he was hadn't moved, and he looked creepily like a corpse. A good-looking corpse.

He hoped Teyla and Ronon would come back soon.

He stayed, watching Rodney sleep, until Rodney suddenly woke up with a jerk and groaned.

"Rodney," John said, slightly alarmed. "Are you all right?"

"My stomach," Rodney groaned.

"Rodney," John said. "There's no one here but us. You don't need…"

"No, I'm not kidding," Rodney said. "I think someone punched me in the stomach."

John felt him. "You do seem a little feverish."

"I'm burning up." Rodney moaned.

"We have to wait for Ronon and Teyla get back, then we'll go."

"Ronon? Teyla?" Rodney said. John pointed to the bed. "Oh, yeah. Guess it was that midnight walk we took."

"Did you drink out of the well?"

"Yeah, but I put a tablet in the water."

"Which wouldn't help you if someone had stomach flu."

"True."

"Get me a bucket," Rodney said. "Now!"

John looked around frantically, but couldn't find anything but a woven basket. He stuffed his jacket in there, and hoped that it would hold. Of course, he would have to sanitize the jacket later…

He got it under Rodney just in time, just as Teyla and Ronon walked in. Teyla raised her brows and looked at John. "He woke up sick. Really," John said, just as a couple of natives walked in with a huge rug.

Teyla raised her eyebrows. "Should I make our apologies?"

John shrugged. "I suppose. He has a fever."

"I'm dying," Rodney groaned. "I just puked my insides out."

"I… know," John said, looking at his jacket in disgust. He got up and started to take the bowl out.

"Don't go too far," Rodney said, strangled. John got back in time for Rodney to throw up again.

"I… will make our apologies," Teyla said, and left.

"I'll go with her," Ronon said. He turned to go.

"Not so fast, Chewie," John said. "I may need some help. He pointed his chin towards the bunk.

Ronon sighed, then rolled his eyes. "I… think I'll stay," he told the natives. "Drop that over there for now."

The men nodded, placed the rug carefully on the ground, and left.

Rodney looked up from the bunk. "I can't move."

John grunted. "You're going to have to move to get in the puddle jumper." He nodded Ronon to the head of the cot, and they lifted Rodney away from the wall. Ronon unrolled the rug, then they carefully placed Ozymandias on the rug, rolling it up tightly.

John looked critically at it. Fortunately – or probably by design – Teyla had bought a fluffy rug, and Ozymandias was a skinny being. They should be able to get it into the puddle jumper easily.

He trotted his jacket outside and emptied the contents into the privy, promising that it, too, would go into the privy when finished. Or at least back on Atlantis, into the laundry, with a lot of bleach. He was glad that since Atlantis reconnected with Earth, they were able to get some janitors and clean-up personnel and he didn't have to do his own laundry any more.

He went back on and sat next to a moaning Rodney, waiting for Teyla. She came back shortly. "I told them that since the illness could be contagious, they should stay away. Her eyes flicked towards the rug, and John nodded. "Their doctor still wished to come, but he will follow at a discrete distance until we're gone."

"Rodney," John said. "You're going to have to walk to the puddle jumper."

"Can't you… just take a cot? Or put me on top…" his eyes looked toward the rug.

"No, Rodney, we can't," John said. "Maybe if you got up and moved around, you'd feel better."

"I doubt it." But he sat up slowly, then stood up.

"I will help you," Teyla said. She was at his side.

They had already packed, and John had put on one pack, while Ronan pulled on the other.

Then they each lifted one edge of the rug. Thank heavens, John thought, the puddle jumper wasn't very far away,

The town had turned out to see them go. They walked through happy faces, staying away at a safe distance. They waved. John smiled back, feeling incredibly guilty on putting this over them, and he was almost tempted to drop the rug.

Almost.

They moved to the puddle jumper slower than he would have liked. He didn't breathe until they had got into the shuttle and had taken off.

"I think," Ronon said. "That we got away with it."

A moan came from Rodney. "Rodney?" Teyla said. "Rodney!" John glanced back. Rodney had slumped over. "John, Rodney just passed out!"

Relief was replaced by concern. Rodney, moaning, he could ignore. Rodney, silent, was a cause for concern. "On it!" John said. He gunned the puddle jumper for the Stargate. It opened. "Sheppard to Atlantis."

A second passed.

"Yes, John. What's the matter?" came the concerned tones of Elizabeth Weir. "You're early."

"Elizabeth, get Beckett. Rodney is sick and just passed out."

"On it," Elizabeth said. She went away for a moment. "He'll be waiting with a stretcher. You have a go to come through."

"Acknowledged." John said. Swiftly and carefully, he slid the jumper through the gate, setting it down gently. He opened up the hatch, and Beckett rushed in.

He felt Rodney. "He's burning up," he said, and directing his aids, they swiftly took Rodney off to the infirmary.

John started to follow. Elizabeth stopped him. "Carson can do his work better if you're not standing over him." She looked him and the other two over carefully. "Are any of you sick?"

"No," John said, looking around to see Ronon and Teyla shake their heads. "Just Rodney."

"Other than that, how were negotiations? And did you find the power source you asked about?"

"They went well," Teyla said. "John?" She inclined her head to the puddle jumper.

He turned around. "Don't touch that!" he yelled to a technician, who was poking curiously at the rug.

The rug moved.

The technician jumped back a foot.

"What the hell?!" Elizabeth said. She glared at John. "What do you have in there?" Some soldiers hurried up the ramp and pointed their guns at the rug.

"Um… Ozymandias," John muttered. "Stand down," He yelled, hurrying up the ramp to stand over the rug. Teyla hurried up after him. Ronon stood at the bottom of the ramp, looking amused.

"Ozy – what?"

John and Teyla quickly unrolled the rug, spilling Ozymandias out onto the floor facedown. They turned him over. "Sorry." John said to Ozymandias.

"Are we in Atlantis?" Ozymandias said, looking up.

"Yes."

He smiled. "Thank you."

Elizabeth had came up the ramp and looked down. "John?"

"Ozymandias, this is Elizabeth Weir, commander of Atlantis."

"An honor to meet you," Ozymandias said. "I am sorry. I would get up, but I'm too weak."

She blinked. "We'll take you to the infirmary."

Ozymandias chuckled. "That won't do any good."

"He's… an android," John mumbled. The more he thought of it, the worse this idea became. "He's the power source.

"But," Ozymandias said, "on the other hand, I would enjoy seeing your medical center."

"Okay." She touched her ear. "Carson, we have another person to transport."

"Who?"

"Um…" she said, alternately staring between John, Teyla, Ronon, and Ozymandias. "Just send up a stretcher. It's not a medical matter."

"What?"

John broke in. "I'll explain when I get down there."

"Who or what is this?" Elizabeth said.

Ozymandias opened his mouth. "I'll explain to Elizabeth on the way. Save your energy."

The second stretcher reached the gate room, and Ronon and John lifted him onto it. John, Ronon, and Teyla followed, alternating the telling of the story. Finally, they reached the medical unit. Elizabeth, who was leading, put her arms out and stopped them. "Let me get this straight. You knew that this being was locked up and in the cemetery. You knew that he was a source of power. Yet none of you thought to doubt his word?"

"I did," Ronon said. John glared at him. "Just saying."

"What if he was here to, say, sabotage Atlantis?"

The three of them looked at each other. In retrospect, Elizabeth was making sense. "Well," John said, "I would recommend that he be guarded."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "What if he's a bomb?"

"He's not," said a weak voice from the other side of the curtain.

"I'm not," said another weak voice.

"Rodney?" Elizabeth said.

"I… ug… investigated him thoroughly before I was stricken."

"When, Rodney?" John said.

"When we were in the crypt," Rondy retorted. "With the scanner. Of course."

"I just wanted to see Atlantis again," said the android. "I'm sorry to cause trouble."

"He has power, but I looked specifically for harmful things, and there's none of that in him."

"And my power is about ready to run out."

"No," Rodney said. "It's not. So I don't know why you're so weak."

"It's not?"

"Until I can get out of this bed and look at you…"

"You're feeling better, Rodney?"

"Not really," came the voice behind the curtain. "But Carson is pumping me full of things."

"I'd have to do some blood work, but I think he just has a norovirus, on top of some mild reaction to a native food."

"I shouldn't have eaten the fruit," Rodney said. "At least it wasn't citrus."

"I recommend bed rest for at least twenty four hours."

"I can wait," Ozymandias said mildly.

"But I'm wondering if the problem isn't in your circuitry," Rodney said.

"Oh," Ozymandias said, "I don't have circuitry."

"You're not a replicator, are you," Elizabeth said.

"Ozymandias blinked at her. "A what?" He shook his head. "I have control crystals."

"A… robot made of control crystals?"

A silence from the partition. "That would explain that box of tiny control crystals I found last week. I wasn't sure where they were used."

"You found small control crystals?" Ozymandias said. He tried to raise himself up, but didn't succeed. "Then perhaps I did not come here to die."

"You came here to die?" Elizabeth said.

"My power is almost gone." He turned his head toward the partition. "Or so I thought. I just wanted to see Atlantis again."

Carson appeared around the curtain. "You were here before?"

"Yes," Rodney said. "He was here before. Now, if you don't mind…"

"You're feeling better, Rodney," John said.

"No," came a petulant voice. "I'm not."

"Well," John drawled, "if you get better faster, you can look at our buddy here."

Silence. John could almost hear his brain working. "We'll see," said a reluctant voice.

"Can you fix yourself?" Elizabeth asked.

"Alas, no," Ozymandias said. "I was built to observe and socialize, not to understand scientific machines, including myself. So," he sighed, "I am at your mercy."

"I will fix you," came a weak voice, "as soon as I'm able."

"I will await."

"John," Elizabeth said, grasping his arm. "Can I talk to you a minute?"

"Of course."

"My hearing is better than the average humans," Ozymandias volunteered, "so if you wish to talk about me, you should leave the room and go down the hall."

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. "Thank you, Ozymandias. I shall keep your recommendation in mind."

He smiled slightly. "I am aware that you may consider me a threat. I do not wish to alarm you. If you wish to keep a guard on me, I shall not object. I only wish to see this city again."

"I appreciate your honesty," Elizabeth said. "John?"

They walked down the hall to a transport device, ending up in the command center. She led the way to her office. "You realize how reckless you were," she said, her lips tight."

"Yes, ma'am," John said. "I'm very aware that my actions could be thought of as reckless."

"But," she said, a small smile playing around her lips.

"I'm also aware that if he is what he says he is, the information from him could be invaluable. He is a first hand witness to our past. He only left during the mid 1800s." He saw the question on her face. "Through the Antarctica gate."

"Ah." She looked thoughtful. He stayed quiet. "I know that Rodney is going to be happy to look at him."

"He is a charming son-of-a-bitch, isn't he?"

She laughed. "He is, at that." She sobered and looked at him. "As long as he isn't another Lucius Lavin."

"I… don't get that kind of vibe from him, if you know what I mean."

"I know."

She sighed. "Okay, John, he followed you home. You may keep him."

"I will put a guard or two or three on him."

"That would be wise. You can tell him why."

"I think we can learn a lot from each other."

"I think we can, too." She chewed her lip. "I just hope the Aifed don't find out."

#

Rodney grunted. "Well, Doctor," Carson said, looking over Rodney's shoulder, "is your patient going to live?"

Rodney stared into the chest cavity. In the middle was a miniature ZPM, with connective materials and a latticework of crystals surrounding it. "What," said Rodney to Ozymandias, "is your skin made of?"

"My skin is a self renewing cell compound, somewhat similar to your skin and also somewhat similar to plant structure," Ozymandias replied readily. "I do get a little bit of power from the sun. And my bones, so to speak, are made of a diamond like material. Since the chest cavity holds most of the power relays, the muscles are especially fortified."

Rodney grunted again. "Huh."

"Excuse him," John said, who was standing in the back, out of the way. "He gets that way when he's concentrating."

Ozymandias smiled. "Understandable."

"So… why did the Ancients make you to look like Ramses?" Carson said.

"Actually," he said. "They didn't. I was built to change my appearance every so often. But Ramses' appearance so pleased me that I kept coming back to it." He frowned. "Then something in my body went wrong, and I couldn't change my form."

"So your body is breaking down," John said.

"After thousands and thousands of years." He smiled. "I'd call that a good life. Except…"

"Except?"

"Those people you found me with. The Aifed. I would like to help them a little longer."

"There it is!" Rodney crowed. He lifted his head from the microscope.

"So?" Carson said.

"And I think we have one just like it." He gestured towards the box.

"Rodney?" Carson looked at the chest cavity.

"Yes?"

"Do you want me to do this? I'm very used to working in small spaces and operating on delicate things."

"And I'm not?" Rodney said. "I can do…"

"I would rather have Doctor Beckett do this," Ozymandias said.

"You would?" Rodney said. "But he's a medical doctor."

"Forgive me, Dr. McKay, but I sense a level of excitement to you which may compromise your steadiness. Dr. Beckett is used to this sort of situation."

Dr. Weir had walked in during this argument. "Carson?"

"It would be my honor to collaborate with Rodney. I am not an engineer, so he will have to guide my hands."

"Thank you, Carson," Elizabeth said. "Rodney?"

"I… guess," Rodney said reluctantly.

"Thank you," Ozymandias said quietly. Rodney looked at him and, while he didn't smile, his face softened.

"Well," John said. "When are you going to get started?"

Carson shrugged. "No time like the present." He turned to go to the sink. He washed himself down, then grabbed some gloves.

"Um, Doctor McCoy," Rodney said, as he watched Carson do this, "your patient is not going to get an infection if you don't wash up."

"No, of course not," Carson said, smiling. "The wash up is for me. If I don't do this, I won't feel psychologically ready for operating."

Rodney wrinkled his nose. "Do you do that every time you change a light bulb?"

"No, Rodney, of course not," Carson said. "And I see your analogy. The difference is that the light socket doesn't talk back to me."

"Got you there, Rodney," John said.

Carson pulled down a screen. "Okay, Rodney, what do I do?"

Rodney sighed. "See that sky blue crystal?"

Carson manipulated a needle camera at a tiny blue crystal. "That one?"

"No," Rodney said, pointing to the left. "That one."

"I don't… Oh, I see it. That one with the crack in it?"

"Yes, of course. That one."

"Ozymandias, if I take a crystal out, will you be harmed?"

"I don't believe so," he said. "But I don't know. I wasn't programmed with that information."

John snickered. "That's what Norman said."

Rodney wrinkled his nose. "What are you babbling about?"

"Nothing," John said, smiling. "Obviously."

"Shall I do it?" Carson said.

"Yes," Ozymandias said promptly. He smiled. "Remember, I'm not alive."

Carson made a rude noise. "Son, I don't care how old you are and what you're made of. You're alive."

"Well," Rodney said. "Technically…"

"Here I go, Ozymandias." Delicately, Carson pulled the crystal out, then withdrew the instrument.

Ozymandias closed his eyes, then opened them. "The power has temporarily switched to another crystal, but I do not believe it will last long."

"I will hurry, then," Carson said.

Carson pointed the instrument at the box. "Do you have a crystal like that one?"

"Should be there in that section," Rodney took the instrument and pointed it to the spot, then relinquished it, letting Carson pick it up.

John stared. The crystal was less than one quarter of the top joint of his little finger. "That little thing handles your power?"

Ozymandias smiled. "The Alterans build well."

John looked around. "I'll say."

Deftly, Carson moved the tiny crystal into place. Carefully, he pushed it into the slot.

Ozymandias closed his eyes and was very still.

John blinked. "I think you killed…"

Ozymandias opened his eyes. "I was… what is the word you use?... rebooting." He smiled. "I feel much better."

"Rodney, shall I close up?"

"I want to look around," Rodney said.

"Take pictures," John said. "I'm sure Ozamandias…"

"That's fine," he said. "I'm feeling stronger all the time. He can look."

"Don't break anything," John said.

For the next hour, Rodney took pictures of every corner of Ozymandias' chest cavity. "This is amazing," he said. "I wish…" he fell silent.

"Don't even think about it," John said.

"I wasn't planning on reverse engineering him," Rodney sighed. "Much as I'm tempted."

"Good."

"Thank you," Ozymandias said earnestly.

"Hard, isn't it?" Carson said.

"Don't you have some patients to be tended to?"

'Carson looked around the infirmary. "No."

Rodney reluctantly withdrew the instrument. Ozymandias sat up and replaced his own chest plate. It sank and, and the seams disappeared. "Amazing," Carson said.

"Thank you, gentlemen," Ozymandias said.

"You are very welcome," Carson said.

"I was told," John said, "To lead you to your quarters. Under guard, of course."

"Of course." He went to swing his legs off the table, and his eyes widened. He went very still for a moment. "I can not stay."

"Huh?" Rodney said.

"I'm being ordered off of Atlantis."

"What?" John said. "By who?"

"By the city," Ozymandias said. He looked at John. "The city doesn't want me here."

"The city is a…"

"No," John said. "It's not. It's more than a thing, just as Ozymandias is more than a robot. It's not alive like Ozymandias is, but…"

"How do you know?" Rodney said.

"I know," John said firmly. "Haven't you felt it?"

"I… don't know."

"Carson?"

"I think I know what you mean," Carson said. "I've always felt very welcome here."

"Really?"

"Rodney?"

"Yeah," Rodney said. "I guess I've felt something too."

John turned to Ozymandias "Do you have to leave right this minute?"

Ozymandias closed his eyes. "I will be allowed a short tour, but the city wishes me gone." He cocked his head. "I'll go back to the Aifeds. They need my help. I imagine they will miss me shortly, anyway."

"Good," Carson said.

"Where would you like to see?" John said.

"Anywhere."

"John, this is Elizabeth."

"Yes, Elizabeth!"

"How are you coming?"

Rodney popped in. "The operation was a success."

"Good! Good. Because we have a little problem."

John had a sinking feeling. "Don't tell me."

"The Aifed called with the communicator you left. They would like their body back."

John sighed. "Of course they would."

Ozymandias cocked an eyebrow. "It's about me, correct?"

"You were right. The Aifed would like you back."

Ozymandias sighed. "Well, I had hoped to spend a little more time in the city, but it seems that fate has another path for me."

"Can you walk?"

Ozymandias smiled. "Easily."

"Then," John said. "We'll walk slow, and take a few detours along the way." He touched his microphone. "Elizabeth, we'll be right down."

"Got that. I'll try to delay the Aifed." Her tone was ironic, as if she had been listening.

#

As they entered the control room. John could see Elizabeth at the control panel. She looked a little stressed, but she smiled and gave the two a thumbs up. "Yes, Trant, I understand that your people are upset, and I promise that our personnel have been reprimanded. Wait… here it comes right now. I'm sending our four people with your body. We will need to break the connection to send them back through."

"I understand." John winced. He did sound angry.

She turned to Chuck. The Stargate died, then dialed up again. "We have an outgoing connection, John."

"Thank you, Dr. Weir," Ozymandias said. "Please come and visit me. I will calm them down."

"I will. Thank you."

He turned to the Gate. "I'm ready. Perhaps I should lead?"

They followed him. There was a crowd on the other side of the gate, and John looked around… yes, they were carrying pitchforks. Suddenly, he was put in mind of the peasants in an old Frankenstein movie, and being Ozymandias' companion didn't seem like quite a good idea. He could see that Ronon had his hand on the barrel of his pistol, and Teyla looked cautiously on guard. "Dude," he said out of the side of his mouth, "say something."

Ozymandias smiled. "Hello."

"Ozymandias," said an older man, his eyes wide. "Are you alive again? Did they bring you back to life?"

Ozymandias walked up to the man and shook his hand. "Trant. It's good to see you again." He turned toward the rest of the people. "I am sorry, they did not bring me back to life. I was never dead."

Trant's face was a mixture of gladness and puzzlement. "But, my friend, you weren't breathing. I saw you die."

"No, my friend, you saw me stop breathing. Do you recall me telling you about machines and robots?"

Trant tipped his head to one side. "You're not telling me…"

"Yes. I am a robot. He pushed his hand into his chest and opened a small door. The people gasped. "These people brought me back to my home, Atlantis, and have fixed me. I am grateful to them."

He looked at the Atlanteans. "I…" He stopped, seemingly at a loss as to what to say.

"We will understand," Teyla said, "if you do not wish to trade with us anymore."

"I think," Ozymandias said. "That they will need time to think about it."

"Why didn't you just say something to us?" Trant said to the Atlanteans.

"You couldn't fix me," he said. "And to you, I was already dead. I thought I was dying, and I convinced them to take me to Atlantis to die. I never thought I would be fixed after all of this time."

Trant's eyebrows wrinkled. "How old are you?"

"That's another story," Ozymandias smiled. He went up to the Atlantis team and bowed in the Aifed way. "I thank you."

"You are very welcome," Teyla said.

"Think nothing of it," John said.

"Yeah, well."

Ronon smiled and said nothing.

"We will contact you when I talk to my people."

"I look forward to it," Teyla said. She bowed back, and the other three awkwardly followed. They dialed up the gate and walked back through.

"Welcome back," Elizabeth said. "How are they?"

"Well," John said. "We didn't get skewered with pitchforks."

"He promised to call us when things call down."

"Good," Elizabeth said. "Good." She frowned. "But that doesn't mean you're off the hook."

They looked at each other.

"What could she do?"

"Inventory," she said. "For two days."

John sighed and Rodney groaned. "That's what she could do."

"I, for one, will gladly do inventory if it helps," Teyla's face looked calm.

"Speak for yourself," Rodney muttered. John and Ronon looked at each other and sighed.

#

Ozymandias

Ozymandias

bYBy Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is OzymandiasOzymandias Pharaoh Rameses II (reigned 1279-1213 BCE). According to the OED, the statue was once 57 feet tall., King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away."

End