"Power is definitely getting to the console. All the power fluctuations we've had must have actually damaged it." Rodney moved his hand on and off the console. When he touched it, it lit up for a few seconds then shut off again. "It would be helpful if someone could keep it activated it while we work on it," he said, diving underneath.
"Major Sheppard?" suggested Zelenka.
"Beckett's released him but sent him to the mainland for a few days," said the scientist from under the console. He slid back out to grab a tool from Zelenka. "Not a bad idea considering he jumps out of reflex if anything touches him. It's rather annoying, actually."
"I'm sure he finds your concern touching, Rodney."
McKay gave him an irritated glance before touching the console again to restart it. It flashed on for a second and then went right back off.
The Czech pushed up his glasses and smiled. "I heard he offered you to the Wraith covered in barbeque sauce."
McKay pointedly ignored him and touched the console again which stayed on a full three seconds before blinking out. He compressed his lips in annoyance at the machine's refusal to stay initialized. "I'll get Beckett," he said, resigned.
"Carson?" Rodney demanded, poking his head in the medical lab.
"Rodney!" the doctor acknowledged happily, his excitement making him oblivious to the scientist's imperious tone.
"You're in a good mood," McKay observed dryly, entering the doctor's lab.
"And why shouldn't I be? The infirmary's empty for the first time in days, even Jameson's been released." He gave McKay a stern look, "Though I don't want to see her back at work for several weeks yet."
Rodney made a hands-off gesture in acknowledgment then failed to suppress a shudder when he realized the doctor was holding the Wraith arm Sheppard had brought back from Athos. "What are you doing?"
"I'm working on a new theory." He flipped the arm over, put it back in the tray, and pulled out a scalpel. "Some of the Wraith seem weaker than others. What if they're copies?" He cut a small sample of Wraith tissue and loaded it on a slide.
"What are you talking about?"
"Here," the Scot said, grabbing a piece of paper off the counter and shoving Sheppard's military signals handout into Rodney's hand. "Copies…and copies of copies. They're never as good as the originals."
"I'm still lost, Carson."
"What if the Wraith propagate by cloning? That would explain why some are so much more resilient than others."
"The more resilient ones being the originals, I suppose," Rodney mused. "Aren't clones exact duplicates?"
"In theory, but it's very hard to get a perfect result in practice; and if you continued making imperfect copies of imperfect copies…"
"Why not copy the original? Surely they would realize they're creating an increasingly inferior offspring."
"Maybe the originals were killed off," shrugged Beckett.
"Or maybe they don't have access to the originals anymore?" suggested McKay. "That would fit Sheppard's theory that they're not all one big happy life-sucking family."
"True," agreed the doctor, preparing another slide.
"I don't know, Carson. The Major and Ford definitely identified the one that killed Sumner as female. Why evolve a male/female gender distinction if you propagate by cloning?"
"What if it's not what they're evolving to but what they're evolving from? Maybe it's left over from the original mutation. We're theorizing that the Wraith were originally human, perhaps even ancients, who settled on that planet; their interaction with the tic creatures mutating their DNA in some way."
"So you think the female was one of the original mutations?"
"Why not? Sheppard said she was extremely hard to kill." He continued, "Males are generally stronger than females…"
"Don't let Teyla hear you say that," interrupted the scientist wryly.
"I said generally, Rodney. It would make sense that you would clone the physically strongest of the race, especially if you were breeding an army against the Ancients…or each other for that matter. Aside from that one female, we've seen only what appear to be males."
"All of them do look alike, at least to me," he agreed, somewhat amused by the doctor's excitement. "It's an intriguing hypothesis."
Beckett looked a little bashful at the praise, "It's only a theory. I have a long way to go before I can prove or disprove anything and very little time these days to work on it." He put the slide under a microscope and adjusted the focus. "At least now I have additional tissue samples to compare," he said, waving a hand at the trays of various wraith parts.
Rodney swallowed hard at the dismembered pieces. "That's a good thing, right?"
"Good? It's bloody marvelous!"
"You really get into this stuff, don't you?" asked McKay in amazement.
"Genetic research is my passion," Carson confided, before cheerfully slicing off another sample.
"Well, um…don't let me interrupt you," said Rodney. Turning to leave, he began mentally shuffling through his list of gene-possessed expedition members settling on Doctor Kusanagi's lab as his next destination.
"Yes?" He turned back to the doctor.
"Didn't you come in here for something?" asked Beckett, looking into the microscope.
"Come in here for something?" repeated McKay.
The physician suddenly looked up, "You're not feeling unwell, are you?"
"No, no. I feel fine," said the scientist quickly. "I was uh…I was going to ask you if you wanted to have lunch."
"Oh. If you don't mind, I'll probably just grab a sandwich and continue to work on this," he said returning his attention to the slide.
"I understand, completely." Rodney favored Beckett with a rare smile before heading out the door. "Just don't forget to go to sleep tonight."
Beckett nodded his head in agreement, not really listening. Suddenly what Rodney said filtered down. "That's the pot calling the kettle black," he yelled after the departing figure.
Well I hope you enjoyed it! I was pleasantly surprised by the way it turned out. Once again, I thank everyone for their feedback and encouragement, it was/is very helpful!
The 'electrified' portion of this story was inspired by my life all freaking winter. Hubby has learned to touch my hand to discharge static electricity before he kisses me because zaps on the lips are unpleasantly painful!