A/N: This is a crossover, between Van Helsing and SG: Atlantis. I decided to put it here because it is very much an Atlantis fic focused on a character who, quite frankly, could be there. Inspired by trecebo, a faithful reviewer since practically the beginning. I was thrown this challenge, and my first reaction was – "Gosh, a connection b/w VH and Stargate: Atlantis. Weird. Random. But I can see it." When I woke this morning to find myself calculating degrees of separation b/w Carl, and a descendant who would journey to Atlantis, this was born. This is a stand-alone, but some allusions will make more sense if you've read LAEVA DEI, PERDITOR and ASCENDING ANGELS – however, none of that is necessary, of course.
Disclaimer: None of the characters or premises from the TV series Stargate: Atlantis, or the movie Van Helsing, are mine. Somehow, saying "the plot bunnies made me do it!" seems like a cop-out. But they did.
It was incredible.
He had seen it in action, years and years ago, and had marveled at it then. More recently, he had been through it, traveling to and within another galaxy. Each time he saw it, a frisson of feeling, both fear and awe, shivered through his bones. The Stargate.
Awe, because of what mankind – after a fashion, of course – had created and achieved. Fear, because they truly knew so little about the forces with which they were playing. He was afraid for them.
Most of the time, he hid these feelings behind a casual mask. He was no longer Gabriel Van Helsing. That name had been given up after he had spoken with an unusual, broad-minded novelist decades ago. It was simply too . . . memorable. Brahm had changed almost nothing from the story the hunter had spun. Now, he was Gabriel Venner, a thirty-something SF with the required skills to get him to Atlantis, and none of the detriments necessary to keep him out. Friendship with a scientist, so long ago, had rubbed many things off on him.
Not so surprisingly, Gabriel was also an expert with computers. He turned his hand to everything he could, with varying degrees of success. It was necessary to forge the proper identity papers that he found he needed, every couple of decades or so. He had hunted, over the years, and honed his mind as well. New skills were necessary to survival with every passing era.
But that was not his concern now. Now, he only had a promise to fulfill.
Which was why he was crouched, P-90 tucked securely under his arm, behind a barely-there outcropping in the wall, seeking what cover he could. "Teyla's IDC," came a loud voice from up in the control center. It was the team he was waiting for. Now, he only needed to see . . .
Sheppard burst through the wormhole, supporting a sagging Lt. Ford. Teyla was not far behind, and a dirtied Dr. McKay was the last through. Gabriel breathed a silent, relieved sigh. "Shut it down!" yelled Sheppard.
With a dying of the light, the wormhole snapped out of existence, taking the mesmerizing, silver-blue glow of the event horizon with it. But not before the blast of a stun weapon spattered the event horizon, and splashed harmlessly against the wall, nearly hitting one of the other SF's on duty. The man scrambled back, unhurt, but everyone was belatedly jolted to battle readiness despite the fact that the threat was gone. It was a moment more before Gabriel could truly relax.
Dr. Weir, head of Atlantis, moved from the control room to survey the arriving team. She watched as Dr. Beckett and his team raced forward, and the SF's fell back. It was just another day in the City of the Ancients – one that thankfully ended without disaster. Sheppard, on the ground, saw her watching and shook his head. Weir's unsurprised reaction told Gabriel everything he needed to know. No ZPM then, and more wraith. The scenario was becoming increasingly familiar.
Gabriel watched the medics around Ford as they worked calmly, and then turned his attention in turn to each member of the team. Years upon years ago, Carl had extracted a promise from him, to look over his son. Gabriel had taken his duty to heart, and it had led him to another galaxy, in order to protect his friend's great-grandson.
There were few who walked the earth that knew who and what Gabriel truly was. Each of them was family, in a way, and bound to a similar fate; Ben and Ned, and the Jonses. But in this era, Gabriel knew that seeing was tantamount to believing. He could not expect to be believed unless he showed something to prove what he was saying. That could never happen. The repercussions would be immense, innumerable, and mostly for the worst, not just for him. So he grew adept at weaving stories when he needed to, becoming accustomed to clouding the truth and showing people nothing more than they expected to see. And in all things, he kept his promise.
He couldn't be on the same team as the man – that would blow his cover sky-high, and bring him much-unwanted attention. So he settled for protecting Rodney McKay as best he could, and at times that meant protecting the man's team, and even the whole of Atlantis. It was much different than the duty he had upheld on Earth – no lighter, but more difficult in such a small community. He was challenged, for the first time in many years.
Lost in his thoughts and the familiarity of routine, Gabriel didn't see the man before him until they had both been knocked sprawling to the ground. The hunter gained his feet first, and offered the other a hand. He hefted the grumbling man to his feet, and was surprised to come face to face with Rodney McKay. It had probably been bound to happen sooner or later – he worked, as always, from a distance, and thus in reality didn't know the man outside of his reputation. Up close, he noticed that Rodney had his great-grandfather's eyes, and something of his cocksure confidence.
"Watch where you're going next time," McKay berated him absently. The man's attention was on the pack he had dropped, which had split open along the seam.
"Sorry, Dr. McKay," Gabriel Venner answered. He crouched to help the man pick up fallen items, listening with one ear and half a smile as the scientist continued to rip him one for his clumsiness.
Sheppard came up behind McKay, and stared in impatient amusement. "Rodney. What happened?"
Private Venner shot to his feet, managing a salute despite the fact that his hands were full of miscellaneous items, including clothes, scientific equipment, and power bars.
"This clumsy oaf knocked me down, and the pack just -" he began indignantly.
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Well, I'm sure Private . . ."
"Venner," Gabriel supplied, quickly recognizing the prompt as the Major's eyes searched his uniform for identification.
"Private Venner is sorry. Private?" Sheppard asked, more to get the scientist moving to the debriefing than anything else.
"Yes sir," Gabriel answered, a smile on his lips. Despite his higher ranking, the Major was a few years younger than the Private appeared to be. Sheppard noted the expression coolly, but his face softened when he realized that it was a true accident, not another example of the military snubbing the civilians, as happened much too frequently for his tastes.
"There. See? Come on."
"Hmph. Well -"
Sheppard lost patience, pushing the complaining scientist in front of him. Their conversation echoed down the hall, and Private Venner was quickly forgotten. Gabriel smiled. It seemed the rumors were true, then, and Rodney McKay had a bit of a sharp edge that Carl had not. He was a man made harder by life, but he demanded the best from himself and his coworkers and brooked no nonsense.
It would be several weeks later before he would see Dr. McKay in close quarters again.
A virus had been discovered running rampant in Atlantis, wreaking havoc and spreading death within hours. Gabriel, one of the nameless faces who guarded the civilians of Atlantis, was present with the group which discovered the area of the virus' escape and quarantined themselves off. He stayed in the background, and when the infected woman brushed by him, it was of no notice.
He sat back, and observed. An hour or so later, his head spun slightly, and black shadows swooped in and out of his vision, before fading away. Disease meant nothing to him; he was safe.
But he could do nothing to help – this type of science was far beyond his relatively sparse medical knowledge. When Rodney was infected, however, he tensed as he watched events unfold. His promise was clear in his mind.
He did wait, however, and was later thankful for the patience that millennia of life had taught him. Most things on Earth worked themselves out, without interference from him. Life was simply like that. The Ancient gene that seemed so important in this new place came into play once more, the saving grace of the new inhabitants of Atlantis.
Gabriel himself did not posses the gene – he was from a time much earlier than such things. He frequently found himself irritated at it, however. He had been covertly exploring the city since their arrival, since he wasn't a member of any of the outgoing teams. The Ancients had keyed their technology to the gene, and when he couldn't get somewhere or do something because of that fact, he had only two options. If his computer expertise couldn't gain him access, he was left with simple brute force, which was much harder to explain away. Luckily, he didn't have to resort to the second option all that frequently.
The hunter's relief at the elimination of this new threat was only matched by his annoyance at the follow-up protocol. Dr. Beckett, concerned by the implications of inadvertent biological warfare, began a series of mandatory physical examinations of each of the Atlantis personnel. Gabriel's number was drawn among the first group to receive once-overs. He quietly endured the nurse's poking and prodding, watching carefully as she drew his blood and labeled it.
A shortish man with dark hair and a ready smile approached his bed, doing rounds. "Gabe, it's good ta see ye," said Beckett, his Scottish accent softly marking each word he said.
Venner grinned. He knew Beckett, from the time he spent in the medical ward; not as a patient, simply as a friend. Accompanied by a battered checkers board, he would sit and speak with the bed-bound members of the Atlantis crew, listening to them and losing at checkers. He claimed he did it to improve his game, but his real reason was much more elusive. Sometimes, patients needed to be drawn outside themselves, away from their pain and the immediacy of their condition. He helped, as best he could, making friends along the way.
"How are ye feelin'?" Beckett continued, picking up his chart and scanning it.
"Fine," Gabe answered truthfully.
"I see your chart says that you've had all ye're required vaccinations," Beckett continued. Gabe nodded, familiar with the routine. Beckett asked several questions about allergy history, and seemed amused when Gabe answered, quite seriously, that he'd had bad reactions to St. John's Wort in the past. Beckett's response was that they'd be hardly likely to find any in this galaxy, but he noted it in the chart.
After Gabriel was finished, carefully upholding the fabric of half-truths with which he wove all his stories, he found himself the subject of gentle scrutiny from the doctor.
"I've noticed you in here, more than once," Beckett began slowly, his drawl pronounced. "D'ye mind tellin' me why?"
Gabe smiled, a little. "I want to help, when I can," he answered seriously. "And . . ." he hesitated, but the doctor's kindly smile had its intended effect. "And there's a question I need answered," Gabriel finished.
"What's that?" Beckett was openly curious now.
"Whether it's worth it." He needed to know, for himself alone. He wanted to see if the sacrifice, the effort, equaled the loss of so many precious, fragile lives.
The response had Beckett retreating to a thoughtful silence. "And?"
Gabriel seemed to measure his response. "Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it is." He shrugged, after all just a thirty-something SF, doing what he could to help. "And it helps me improve my game," he finished, lightening the mood considerably.
Beckett smiled, accepting the flip answer and shutting his folder with a snap. "Well, ye're in the peak of health so far as I can tell," he told the Private. "If there's anything amiss in your test results we'll have ye back here, but for now, you're dismissed."
Gabe snapped a sharp salute and hopped off the bed, pulling on his clothes and exiting the infirmary with a thoughtful crease lining his brow.
Two days later, Dr. Beckett was finishing his filing for the first group, when he realized that he was coming up one short on bloodwork results. He hadn't noticed it in his first and second examinations of the files. Carson flipped through pages of results, until he found out who he was missing. "Jen?" he called the nurse, yet again double-checking his pile of paperwork.
The young nurse turned to him. "Yes?"
"What happened to the bloodwork results for Gabriel Venner?"
"Venner?" she asked blankly.
Beckett frowned. His staff was not normally this forgetful. "Yes, Venner."
Jen checked the racks of vials, and after a moment called back, "Did he come in for a physical with the first group?"
"Yes. That's why I'm missing his bloodwork," Carson explained patiently.
Jen shrugged, tugging at her brown ponytail in sheepish consternation. "We must have skipped him, then."
Carson frowned, the memory of seeing a band-aid on the man's arm standing out clearly. "I'm sure he had a blood sample taken," he answered certainly. "Could it have gotten lost?"
Jen flushed, red staining her cheeks as she faced him. "It's possible."
Carson sighed. "Don't worry about it, then," he told her soothingly. "We'll simply call him back and retake the sample."
The first Gabriel found out about it was when he entered the commissary the following morning. Grabbing a tray and piling some food on it, he was on his way to sit with some of the other SF's when Beckett intercepted him. "Morning, Gabe," the Scotsman said cheerfully.
"Good morning, Doc," Gabriel replied.
Beckett wasted no time. "Could ye come down to the infirmary after you've eaten? It seems we've misplaced your blood sample, and I need another."
Gabriel nodded, hiding the foreboding churning in his gut. "'Course."
Beckett smiled. "I'll see you in an hour, then."
Gabriel nodded once more, and kept the smile on his face, waving away the questions of the others at the table with ease. All the while, his head was spinning wildly. It must be the Ancient gene again. He could have growled with frustration. He had easily been able to sneak out his blood sample, removing the memory of its existence before destroying it. But somehow, something had not gone quite right. The only explanation he had for this rare occurrence was the gene – and it explained much, down through the centuries.
He was still irritated at the phenomenon when he arrived at the infirmary, though the emotion was easily mistaken for something else.
"Don't ye worry," Beckett said as he removed the needle, unwrapping the tight rubber tubing constricting Gabriel's bicep. Gabe bent his elbow, holding the cotton ball in place to staunch the small puncture. "I'll examine this myself, and we'll have everything sorted out in no time."
Just what he didn't need, the hunter grumped. It was well-known that Beckett was one of the few who originally had the Ancients gene, as opposed to those who had undergone the gene therapy. Stories of his first disastrous encounter with the control chair, back in Antarctica, were common knowledge. If things went downhill, he decided, he would play dumb. Beckett was bound by the Hippocratic Oath to patient confidentiality, and unlike some, he took it seriously. Not that that would mean anything should he discover something . . . unusual. But having a civilian in charge of the Atlantis site meant that, despite the fact that Sheppard was his commanding officer, he could be sure of receiving some rights. If worse came to worst . . . it wouldn't be the first time that faking his own death would get him out of a tricky situation.
These were the thoughts that occupied him as he left, knowing he would much rather be somewhere else than eavesdropping on Beckett's work. The man would find nothing that Gabriel himself didn't already know.
He was right, in more ways than one.
A few hours later, Beckett was utterly puzzled by what he was seeing, an infrequent occurrence. He double-checked the chart next to him, and decided to try a small experiment. One lab test led to another, each yielding results more improbable than the rest. What Beckett was seeing . . . it was impossible.
Despite the record of vaccinations sitting on the table beside him, he could see no evidence of the appropriate antibodies at work anywhere in Venner's blood. Instead, each virus he tested against the blood was destroyed in moments, the originals and the mutants gobbled up by an utterly remarkable immune system. It was like nothing he had ever seen before. Curiosity led him to even test the blood against the newly-discovered virus, and he found the same strange occurrence. What made it even more remarkable was the fact that – he rechecked his notes to be certain – Venner did not posses the Ancient gene. Surprised that this had gone unnoticed for so long, a wild thought occurred to him that froze him to his seat for a long moment. When he recovered from the thought that set his heart racing, he took a vial of cultured cells from the refrigerator. Brain whirling in hope and anticipation, he prepared the slide, and peered into the lens. This last experiment left him utterly dumbfounded.
Still processing what he had witnessed within his microscope, Beckett wrote up a report on it, and made his way to Dr. Weir's office.
"Carson," she looked up from her papers to see the doctor hovering in the doorway, a bit pale and clutching a file-folder. A frown creased her features. "Is something wrong?"
"I need to talk to ye," Beckett blurted, coming forward several paces and dropping the folder on the desk. Weir stared at it, for only a second or two before the agitated doctor became the focus of her attention. "Sit down," she invited him. Beckett took her up on the offer, not so much sitting as falling into the chair.
"Read it," he told her stiffly.
She picked up the folder, and began to read. After long moments of silence, her eyes lifted to his. "What are you trying to say?"
He stood then, pacing restlessly back and forth in front of her desk. "All that's in the report, and more. I can't believe this – I tested his blood against the HIV/AIDS virus, and the virus was completely obliterated. In seconds! This man has the cure for every known disease swimming in his veins."
"That's incredible," Elizabeth murmured.
"I've set up cultures," Beckett continued, his hands moving wildly. "I'll be checking them in a few days, but the results so far are utterly unbelievable. And that's not all."
"There's more?" Dr. Weir was still trying to process the information, staring at the folder.
At this, Beckett had to sit once more. "I had a crazy idea," he admitted forthrightly. "I wanted to test the blood against cultured wraith cells."
"What happened?" Elizabeth was careful to keep her interest muted, seeing Beckett's open distress.
"The cells were destroyed, in the same manner as the viruses. I accidentally spilled some of the blood on the wraith's flesh – it acted as a corrosive agent, somehow eating away at the skin."
"Impossible," Beckett finished for her. He threw up his hands, settling back in the chair. "I can't explain it."
"Does this medical miracle have a name?" Weir asked intently.
Beckett's face was shadowed for a moment, the fight between his oath and the greater good this man might be able to make possible, showing clearly on his face. With a flash of insight, Weir thought it must be something like a priest who had to decide whether or not to break the sanctity of confession, when a murderer professed his sins.
Carson finally answered, unhappiness at his decision marked clearly on his face. "Gabriel Venner."
Bear with me, please. I've been attacked by a plot bunny, and though my rabies shots are up-to-date, I'm finding it hard not to succumb. Besides, I haven't found a decent one of these yet, and ever since I was thrown the idea, I kinda wanted to be the first.