Sorry it's been so long since my last story, but I've had to deal with 'Real Life"! Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, please don't sue. Just someone anxiously waiting for Season 2, and entertaining herself in the meantime…


By Kerr Avon

Chapter 1 - The Ancient Device

"Hello……" Dr. Rodney McKay commented under his breath as his probe triggered a previously unseen latch. He had been huddled over the Ancient device for the last four hours without a break, trying to determine its exact function. It was square, approximately three feet to a side, and after ten millennia still had power. Stackhouse's team had found it on their exploration of an apparently deserted planet and had assumed that anything still emitting an EM field after all that time must be important. With Weir's permission they hauled it back for the scientists to study.

Rodney had been working on it since its arrival on Atlantis. While he would never admit it out loud, he agreed with the Sergeant; the Ancients never did anything without a reason, and if they felt that something needed to be powered for thousands of years, it must be important. It only took half a day of frustration before he invited Zelenka to come and play as well.

He liked working with the Czech scientist whose name he often could not remember; the man was intelligent, quick-witted, unfailingly polite, and invariably acceded to Rodney's whims. Oh, he might argue for a bit, but ultimately he gave in. McKay even enjoyed the verbal sparring, for usually new, creative ideas would emerge. Not to mention the fact that the man had saved his life once, when they were stuck in the Stargate.

The scientist in question now moved to his shoulder from where he had been working on the far side of the box. "What have you found?" he asked, stretching the kinks out of his neck and running a hand through his chronically disarrayed hair.

"I don't know. It appears to be a small chamber, but nothing's inside." McKay began to reach into the small cubicle for a better evaluation, when Zelenka's hand on his arm stopped him.

"Wait a moment. There could perhaps be boobytraps. You might get hurt if you are not careful." Zelenka shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably. "After your argument at breakfast, I would not like to be in your shoes if you required Doctor Beckett's assistance." He raised his eyebrows meaningfully.

Rodney was about to say something acerbic, but then looked up in surprise as he pulled his hand away from the opening. He asked curiously, "Why?"

Zelenka studiously avoided McKay's direct gaze. "I think that calling the Chief Medical Officer a 'rattle-shaking witch doctor' was…imprudent…for someone who is under his care as often as you are."

McKay remembered the discussion clearly; of course, with his photographic memory, how could he not? He and Zelenka had met to discuss their plan of action with the recalcitrant artifact in a more civilized setting, namely, over breakfast and coffee. They were deeply embroiled in conversation when Beckett had plopped down next to them and, without so much as a 'By your leave', began interjecting his own uninformed opinions.

"Excuse me, but Zelenka and I were having a private discussion." McKay turned an indignant eye on the intruder.

"Aye, but an intelligent scientific opinion from an objective third party…"

McKay rolled his eyes. "Oh come on. Like I've said before, 'Modern' medicine is about as scientific as voodoo. Despite being the Chief Medical Officer on Atlantis, you can hardly claim more expertise than a rattle-shaking witch doctor."

The conversation had deteriorated from there, ultimately resulting in Beckett leaving in a huff.

McKay considered for a moment, then waved a hand dismissively as he returned to study the artifact and reached inside. "Nah, he won't hold a grudge; it's against the Hippocratic Oath or something."

A throat suddenly cleared behind them. "Actually, it's not. You're just lucky I don't hold grudges." Dr. Beckett was standing in the doorway behind the two scientists, arms folded and a self-satisfied look on his face.

"Carson!" McKay whirled, startled, at the unexpected interruption, and in the process managed to cut the back of his hand on a sharp edge inside the machine they had been studying. "Yow!" His eyes scrunched closed in pain as he clutched his right hand to his chest.

Dr. Beckett was at his side in a flash, all traces of the smug expression gone. "Here, let me see that." He gently pried at the covering hand in order to examine the injury. McKay jerked his hand away, fire in his eyes.

"No, thank you, I'll deal with this myself." Rodney was furious, more at his own clumsiness than anything else, but snapped irrationally at the physician.

"Don't be daft, man. You could have a severed a tendon." He held his own hand out in supplication, "Let me see it Rodney. Please."

McKay's eyes widened. "You really think I've damaged a tendon?" He slowly unclenched his hand and held it out. Beckett carefully investigated the laceration, turning Rodney's hand over in his own and examining it minutely.

"Ach, you got lucky." Beckett finally concluded. "It's just a wee scrape."

Rodney jerked his hand back and cradled it protectively. "Well, it may be small to you…"

"Uh, fellows?" Zelenka interrupted, staring at the previously-forgotten device in concern. "Is this supposed to be flashing?" He pointed at a small light blinking in the hidden recess.

Rodney bent down, brows wrinkled in concern. "I must have triggered something when I jerked…" His eyes widened as he spotted a changing display. "Oh, this isn't good." His mind reached an unwelcome conclusion. "Get back, get down!" he cried as he dived beneath a nearby table.

Zelenka, long accustomed to McKay's abrupt commands, knew that the safest thing to do was to act first, question later. As he hit the floor next to Rodney, he glanced back at the blinking device, only to see, to his horror, that Beckett was still standing there staring at them as if they had lost their minds.

McKay turned to see what the Czech was staring at. "Get down, you fool!" he hissed.

Beckett smiled, bemused. "What in the name of heaven are you two…"

Rodney didn't wait for the physician to finish the question. Lunging from his relatively protected locale, he unceremoniously tackled the doctor at the knees just as the Ancient device explosively disintegrated into a million fragmented projectiles. He could feel the sharp needles slicing though the back of his workshirt as the blast drove him forcefully to the ground. Releasing the physician and throwing up his arms, he covered his head protectively until the blast was over.

He lay still, running through a mental checklist and concluding that all his body parts were present and accounted for. As the ringing in his ears subsided, he began to make out Zelenka's frantic cries of "McKay… Beckett!" repeated over and over.

Groaning, he cautiously raised his head. "Yeah…right here." As he began to sit up, he glanced irritatedly over at Beckett. "Carson, the next time I tell you to….Carson?" His voice dropped from angry to tentative in a nanosecond. The doctor wasn't moving.


Author's note: OK, I'm not happy with the title of the story, so I'm taking suggestions, no matter how inane. Let me know how you like the first chapter, too!