Title: Energy Field
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: SG-A/SW. Not so long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, a conversation took place ... (1775 words)
Spoilers: Stargate Atlantis, after 1.03 "Hide and Seek". Vague allusions to SW:TPM.
Feedback: It's the coin of the realm.
Notes: This plotlet has been eating at me for weeks. I hope the possibilities presented here entertain you as much as they did me! I might do more with it one day ... but then again, I have a lot of other projects going. Let me know if you want to borrow the premise.
"The Force is what gives the Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."
-- Obi-Wan Kenobi
"Ow. Careful!" McKay winced as Dr. Beckett prodded at his wounded leg, cleaning debris out of the gash he'd picked up on his latest off-world mission. "The anaesthetic hasn't entirely kicked in yet."
"It wouldn't hurt at all if you'd been a little more careful about where you were putting your feet." The Scottish doctor grinned up at him, then turned his attention back to his work. "Maybe you should start taking that personal shield of yours along on these missions."
"Hah, hah." McKay rolled his eyes. "After all the problems I had with it last time? Although ..." His voice trailed off as several possibilities occured to him. "You know, it might come in handy, at that. I couldn't even drink through it, remember? If the puddle-jumper broke down for whatever reason between Atlantis and the continent, and went into the water..."
"I'd suggest you test it here first," Dr. Becket replied absently, as he set aside the cleaning pads and reached for an intimidatingly large needle. "It might not be able to cope with that kind of continuous use, and there's no telling how it might affect your ability to breathe. Now, can you feel this?"
McKay frowned as the doctor tapped the skin around the wound. "No, I guess it's finished... Ah!" He winced again as the first stich went in, and cast around with his mind for a subject to take his mind off the sensation. Even with the numbing effect of the anaesthetic, he could still feel a slight sting and a nauseating tug with every pass of the thread through his flesh. They'd been talking about his personal shield... which reminded him...
"You know, there's something that still bothers me about all of this gene-based tech. There's no question that it works. But how? All Major Sheppard has to do is touch something, or think at it, and it activates. I know you said something about proteins and enyzmes and the nervous system, but that still seems pretty impossible. What, is every piece of technology in this city equipped to scan him for whatever substance the gene produces? Even if that's the case, how is it possible that he can just direct everything he touches without hardly even trying, while it takes so much effort for everyone else? If it's just a matter of turning the gene on, shouldn't everyone have equal control?"
"Are you sure you want to know more?" Dr. Beckett chuckled. "I thought you said medicine was just so much voodoo."
"Okay, so maybe I was exaggerating a little." McKay sighed. "It just seems awfully imprecise compared to most of the other sciences."
The doctor frowned a little, deep in thought, as he set another stitch. "Well, life in general isn't all that precise, you know. And it's likely that the gene combines with several others to produce the effects we see, like any other complex ability -- intelligence, for example. The one we've singled out is probably just the keystone. It seems to cause the body to produce these -- I'm not sure what to call them -- they look something like mitochondria --"
"Mitochondria?" McKay flinched as the needle advanced to the widest part of the wound, clenching his fingers on the edge of the gurney. It had been a long time since he'd taken any so-called "life science" courses, and he couldn't quite remember what mitochondria were supposed to be.
"Little critters in your cells that produce ATP, the fuel that keeps the body going," Dr. Beckett lectured. "Have you forgotten basic biology? Anyway, these little organelles are what make the proteins and enzymes I mentioned before. They also put out an energy signature, though, unlike anything we've ever seen before. Given what's happened since we got here, I'm beginning to believe it's that energy the technology is reacting to, not the strange proteins. We didn't have any Ancient artifacts on Earth that could be activated without touching them, but there's plenty of them here, and most don't seem to have any scanning abilities at all. So, as you say, how could they tell whether someone has the gene or not?"
"Unless it's not a physical substance they're detecting." McKay nodded. That made sense to him; he already knew that the human body put off a limited electrical field -- allowances had to be made for it sometimes in his experiments. Why not another kind of energy? "Also, that resequencing injection you gave me worked pretty quickly. I'd thought it would take longer for the proteins or whatever to build up in my system."
Dr. Beckett finished the last stitch, and set a knot in the end of the thread. "Exactly. To sum up, the more of these Ancient cell bodies you have, the more of this energy your body puts out, and the simpler it is to use the technology. Major Sheppard has it so easy because he has more than all the rest of us put together."
"Lucky bastard," McKay muttered. Totally aside from having a frequently abrasive personality, Sheppard hadn't even wanted to be here in the first place. He hadn't even known about the Stargate project until he'd had the insane luck to be piloting General O'Neill around when one of the Ancient drones went off. For him to be so gifted... it just wasn't fair.
He shook his head, dismissing the negative thought and re-directing his attention to the puzzle. "So this energy signature -- that's what the puddle jumper, and the doors, and everything else are picking up on. And while most of us are the equivalent of nine-volt batteries, Major Sheppard's like a nuclear reactor."
"That's one way of putting it. And whatever the energy is, well, perhaps you could explain this part better than I can. For some reason, these cell bodies seem to put out more of it here in the Pegasus galaxy than they did at home on Earth. I've tested for it several times, and the effect is consistent." The doctor applied a thin layer of a healing cream on the sutured wound, and began taping a gauze patch in place to protect it.
"Something about Atlantis itself?" McKay mused.
"I thought of that," Dr. Becket said, glancing across the infirmary at a row of test-tubes filled with a suspicious-looking red liquid, frozen in a static preservation field. "I've taken samples both off-world and on the continent, to compare with our records from Earth. The concentration of organelles in the blood doesn't seem to change based on location, in either galaxy. However, the amount of energy they produce does. The Pegaus records are consistently different from the originals, by the same factor in every case."
"What kind of difference are we talking about?" McKay furrowed his brow as the implications began to sink in.
"Not much of one. Just a slight amplification, enough to catch my attention. If there were some way to amplify the effects even further, for everyone..." He let his voice trail off.
"We could all use the technology here as easily as Major Sheppard does," McKay concluded, as his thoughts began to race. "I see your point. But from what you're describing, it sounds like ... I hesitate to use the term 'ambient energy field' ... it's probably an effect native to this galaxy as a whole, or at least this region of space, that differs slightly from the environment back home. There's a lot we don't understand about the structure of the universe, even now. I could have some of my scientists start researching the problem, but without communication with Earth to compare our efforts ..."
"Ah. Well, it was just an idea." Dr. Beckett affixed one final piece of medical tape, then stepped back and began cleaning up his supplies.
"Don't give up on it. The causal factor might be something entirely different; I'm just guessing, at this point. But speaking of concentrations..." McKay let his voice trail off, wondering how to ask how high he rated, compared to everyone else besides Major Sheppard. How effective was the gene therapy, anyway? "Do you keep any kind of records of..."
Dr. Beckett rolled his eyes. "No, I don't know where you fall on the scale," he said, in a long-suffering tone of voice.
"But I'm not in last place, right?" McKay prodded, looking for some kind of confirmation. He hadn't had time to test himself against most of the equipment in the city yet, but if he rated about the same as most of those born with the gene, then it made sense to go ahead and send the rest of his scientists in for an injection. Otherwise, it might be better to wait until they'd figured out how this amplification thing worked.
"You won't be able to pass it on to your children, so what does it matter?" the doctor replied, inexplicably. "Gene therapy's not a fix-all, you know. Now -- we're all done here. Try to keep your weight off that leg for a few days, and remember to take your prescriptions; you'll be good as new before you know it."
"Children?" McKay blinked, perplexed, confused by the other's turn of thought. "How did that get brought up in this conversation? I just wanted to know..."
"Aren't you supposed to be in a meeting?" Dr. Beckett raised his eyebrows at him.
"Right, whatever." McKay waved a hand at the doctor, dismissively. It wasn't like either of them were going anywhere, anyway; they could continue this conversation later. "Send me a copy of your files on the amplification, though, will you? Maybe I'll be able to find something..."
"Sure." Dr. Beckett nodded, crossing his arms and jerking his chin toward the door. "Now, I suggest you get going before Weir calls down here wondering where you are."
"Right. Right." McKay muttered, slipping off the gurney and absently testing his balance. Part of the leg was still numb, but he wasn't going to fall over walking a short distance through the city or anything. The rest of his mind was still working on the problem. He'd introduced the topic as a distraction, but it really was fascinating.
"I wonder," he mused aloud as he picked up his uniform jacket and headed for the door. "We know the Ancients have been to three galaxies, at the very least... I wonder if they ever found a place where this energy field was diminished enough that their tech didn't work? Or a galaxy where it was magnified a hundred-fold?"
"Maybe one day we'll find out," he heard Dr. Beckett muse, as the door shut behind him.