With thanks to Nebbyjen and Talberts for being amazing betas, through multiple versions and drafts.
With thanks to the mad Australian Derry who can redesign a nanovirus a single email (kinda like leaping a tall building with a single bound, but not.)
With thanks to the cast of SGA, who seem like real people, with real foibles, and are so much fun to write.
Don't own them, just writing for my fun and the enjoyment (one hopes) of my friends.Weight of History
The lights from the approaching jumper flickered in the warm drizzle.
Elizabeth watched it approach - another flying lesson concluded, she knew, with Sheppard coaching yet another nugget through the basics of the technology. She'd been aboard for one or two of the lessons herself, as they were conducted on the regular runs to the mainland, and the Lieutenant Colonel's patience was surprising. His nerves were steady, his attitude calm, and when she'd made observation of it, he'd merely grinned and pointed out wryly that he'd taught McKay to fly, and anything after that was easy.
Now there were at least twenty new people on Atlantis, gene therapy or inborn ability intact, ready to learn. Surprisingly, none of the X302 pilots with the gene had volunteered to learn, not yet. They seemed to view the Jumpers as little more than Winnebagos, never mind the superior firepower and ease of flight systems. Sheppard had confided plans to her for a simulated dogfight, which she had kyboshed for now.
She sighed, watching the dim glow make the approach and drop through the top hatch. If one squinted and looked a bit askance, it could be seen as a candle, being extinguished.
She swung around the desk in her room and slid into the chair, staring blankly at the unfinished report. The cursor blinked serenely, though serenity escaped her.
Going back to earth…it was supposed to be triumphant. She had keenly anticipated speaking to O'Neill, to Simon, starting up a new stage of what she felt now had to be the colonization of Atlantis. But O'Neill was gone, and Landry was there instead. Caldwell bucked hard for the top military spot on Atlantis, but there, at least, she - and Everett, she'd later learned - had prevailed.
It wasn't logical to assume he'd dropped this most recent bombshell just to get back at her. It was too petty, and she knew Caldwell - though irritating and obstinate - was, at the least, not petty. But it was going to be hard to deal with, anyway.
"Need to know." At least she was considered in that august company, at least Caldwell hadn't kept that little tidbit from her. But only she and Caldwell had that dubious distinction, and she couldn't tell the two people she trusted most - Sheppard and McKay.
"I hope I'm not interrupting."
She'd been polite, 'Of course not, come in, Colonel.' He'd made some small comments about the city and the damage from the Wraith attack, and then came down to it.
"SGC has reason to believe that we have been, or will be, infiltrated by Goa'uld agents."
It had floored her. She'd recovered rapidly, of course, it was part of her talents that she wasn't ever thrown completely off, and her next question had been, logically, what if Caldwell was the Goa'uld, to which he'd shrugged and told her she'd have to trust him. But he'd expanded the comment, and told her that he'd been under surveillance, as had she, from the instant they'd returned to Earth to the instant they'd boarded Daedelus .And if she wanted to verify that, she could contact Earth through the communications drone they'd set up in the SGC control room.
Goa'uld. She'd met them before, when they were a power in the universe. They still were, she knew. A rat fought most fiercely when cornered. But without their Jaffa, and their slaves, and their ships, espionage seemed a logical next step.
She had nodded, and said she understood, and the Colonel had performed that little half-nod, not quite a salute but still something of respect, repeated that they could be the only two who knew, until more data appeared, and taken his leave.
And she'd watched the jumper approach, thoughts dark as the candle, pinched out.
"Space ship." McKay didn't even look up from his laptop as Sheppard strode in.
Sheppard stopped. "What?"
"You were coming to ask why I'd pass up the chance to join you and Teyla and Conan on your trip to P2R hotter-than-Toronto-in-summer."
Sheppard perched on the lab stool across the table from him, irked.
"First, it's Ronon - he's joined the team, be polite. Second, how'd you know it was me? And third, how'd you know what I was gonna ask? That's just..." he floundered a second, "weird."
He held up a finger as something else occurred. "Fourth, what d'ya mean, Toronto in summer? You don't know heat up there."
McKay was staring at him, failing to conceal the 'are you nuts' expression.
"In order, then - I'll try, given the damage he could inflict on me; your step is distinctive and alarmingly we've known each other long enough I recognize it; you're just coming from the briefing I didn't have to attend, you would undoubtedly have noticed my absence; and what do you mean I don't know heat? 38 C that feels like 46 because it's so humid. That's hot."
"38? Water freezes at 32 F, McKay. You know that, being a denizen of the Great White North." But Sheppard was grinning as he said it, and McKay contented himself with a withering look.
"Ah, Robert and Douglas MacKenzie. Part of the Canadian plan to take over, not by force, but by guile."
At Sheppard's snort, he smirked, but turned pensive. "I grew up with Fahrenheit, though. I'm guessing 32 would be cold to a California boy like you. I bet it doesn't hit that even in that season you laughably call winter. Winter." he said thoughtfully. "Know how long it's been since I've been in a real winter? No winter here. I miss it." He sighed, attention diverted again. "Besides." He went back to the laptop. "Spaceship. I get to go on the Daedelus, exploring nearby planets without gates."
"Caldwell's 'backyard ' expedition."
"Have to admit it makes sense," McKay muttered, writing something on his notepad. "We hop through the gate, through the galaxy, and we've never checked out the local solar system."
He looked up again, excited. "How many habitable planets are there that the Ancients never put gates on, and why? This is just the first trip, and I don't know that a week's gonna be enough. Maybe with Hermoid's scanners, though..."
Sheppard interrupted by standing. "I know, I know. Greatest human achievement, shining example of interspecies co-operation, blah blah."
He saw McKay eye him. "Don't go thinking you're staying on that thing permanently, though, you're still on my team."
McKay grinned. "I'm touched. But at least on Daedelus there's a good chance I won't step into a giant puffball."
Sheppard waved a hand. "But it was such a fetching shade of blue. And it exploded so neatly over you…"
McKay snorted and bent to his work again, and Sheppard wandered toward the door.
"We're off in twenty, so see you when you're back. Try not to blow anything up, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah. Go have fun. Avoid pointy sticks."
"Dr. McKay!" Hermoid sounded almost testy, and Caldwell half turned his head. An annoyed Asgard was a headache he wanted to avoid. On the other hand, McKay was the only human he'd met who seemed capable of matching wit with the grey. And there was a certain smugness about the alien he secretly wanted dispelled, a condescension that occasionally grated.
"I am fully capable of management of the power utilization program," Hermoid continued, "while in hyperspace or in normal space. I do not need - or want - your assistance."
McKay stepped back, irritably. "Well, pardon me for trying to help," he said indignantly. "I simply thought..."
"It does not interest me what you thought."
Standing firm, McKay drew himself up. "You'll find if you mirror the settings on the injectors diagonal to each other, the proton flow will be far more even than trying to match them all," he said with dignity.
"And put some pants on." McKay muttered, turning away. Caldwell looked up at that, a small grin on his face, hearing Sheppard's influence in the comment.
Sam Carter had dropped by at his invitation, back on Earth, bringing files on the whole science team. They'd spent an interesting afternoon going through them, and then taken the discussion out to a steakhouse frequented by personnel from the mountain - in as much as they frequented anywhere. In public, the discussion was far more general, but it was also more geared toward the personalities of those involved.
'Kavanagh.' He'd say a name, she'd come back with a summary.
'Excellent at what he does, but if I were choosing a team I wouldn't put him on it. Doesn't adapt well to a non-structured environment. You'll have a lot of complaints from him, I suggest you listen selectively.'
'Zelenka.' She'd grinned. 'He has a wicked sense of humour, and he's able to merge theory and practical applications as well as anyone I've met. If there's a still on the city, you can bet he's running it. I like him.'
'Zhyang.' he'd said, and she'd frowned slightly. 'Nice enough, but very quiet. Smart, good at her job, but needs to come out of her shell.'
There had been an unexpected silence. He'd looked up to see her staring into the distance, an unreadable expression on her face. 'Something I should know?'
'You think you know someone, Stephen. Then you start reading the reports...' she'd stopped, saw him watching her.
'Things I never thought I'd say about him.' she'd said. 'Genius, for certain, and everything that goes with it. But he's found bravery, ability to think on his feet, ability to make friends - he's dating, of all things. He's on Sheppard's team, and I've heard they're as tight as SG1.' She'd grinned. 'Still whines and complains, but some things never change.'
"Colonel?" Danez's voice intruded on his thoughts.
He sat up, glancing at the navigator's position. Much as it pained him to admit, whoever had designed the long-ago Starship Enterprise had gotten an awful lot right, the stations on the bridge of the Daedelus mirrored the layout of the old television ship to an uncomfortable - almost embarrassing - degree.
"Energy signature, sir. On the moon ahead."Chapter 2
The urge to call it an 'Away Team' was hard to resist, but somehow McKay managed.
"Military reports to Major Latham, science to me. Touch nothing until it's been cleared by one of the science team. This is a military mission," and how hard was that to say, Sheppard would've been proud of him, "but our business is the science."
He looked around. New faces, mostly, he hadn't managed to winkle Zelenka out of the lab, but as he scanned their faces, he knew their specialties - if not their names. He was missing something. What was it Sheppard would do...right.
"Keep your wits down there, folks. Watch each other's backs, don't assume, keep your eyes open. You're all the best at what you do, or you wouldn't be here." He caught sight of Caldwell, grinning slightly, over the heads near the back, and clapped his hands once.
"Ten minutes, in the mud room."
They dispersed, chattering, but he was pleased to see scientists and soldiers mingling.
"Well done, Doctor," Caldwell said, approaching. From habit, he listened for any hint of sarcasm, but there was none.
It flustered him a bit, but, "Thanks," he managed.
"Sheppard's rubbing off on you."
Secretly pleased, he raised a brow. "Oh, please, Colonel. If anything, it's the other way around."
Rather than irritation, he heard an edge of amused tolerance in the wry response.
"I wouldn't be surprised, Doctor," Caldwell grinned and turned away.
Alone for a moment, McKay heaved a sigh. It tickled his lungs and turned into a cough. A slight one at first, but it didn't satisfy the irritation and he began to cough harder. His balance began to waver and he grabbed the back of the nearest chair, swinging it around and sinking into it, trying to breathe while continuing to cough, until his eyes were watering and his ears rang from the effort.
The tickle eased. Finally, he could take a breath when the cough subsided. He wiped his eyes, relieved. That was all he needed, he thought sourly, a cold the day he was to lead his first mission.
Tentatively he tried another sigh, but whatever had triggered the bout had apparently been satisfied, and he pulled himself together. Three minutes till he was due in the mud room, the room where the Asgard beam technology was based. It had been christened by a farm boy from Saskatchewan who decided it was, after all, the back door to the ship. And that was where the working folk came in.
"Leave the channel open," Caldwell reminded.
"Yes, sir," Latham replied over the link.
Caldwell settled into his command chair, listening with half an ear. It was odd, hearing the conversations without having the visual cues, but he'd learned to let the chatter wash over him, picking out the most important stuff.
He pulled up some of the reports he'd been neglecting. He focused briefly on the audio for the report that power had been restored to the complex, and again, when a small tremor was reported. There was no real worry in the voices, though, and he went back to work.
Another, slightly stronger quake caused a bit of consternation, and brought his focus back again.
"Report," he stated.
"Less than 2 on the Richter scale." It was Darin, a geological technician from California, and Caldwell relaxed. The man knew quakes.
"We're carrying on, Colonel." That was McKay's voice, steady and confident, and Caldwell nodded.
There was nothing of concern for some time, and he was working steadily through the backlog, when the edge of worry in McKay's voice caught his attention. He glanced at the mission clock. They'd been down almost fifty minutes.
He leaned forward, toggling the com. "McKay?"
"Just a minute, Colonel. Latham, keep everyone out, I need to check the status of this."
There followed a period of silence, entirely too long for Caldwell's comfort.
The scientist's voice came again, but he wasn't talking to the ship.
"Everyone out, right now. Everyone! Drop what you're doing and get back to where we came in." A pause. "No, just drop it and move!"
The tone was unmistakable. Urgency warred with fear, but whatever was happening, Caldwell had to admit McKay was keeping his cool. He turned to Hermoid, but the question didn't need to be asked.
"Ready for emergency retrieval, sir," the Asgard said evenly.
"Daedelus, this is McKay. All present and accounted for, request immediate transfer."
Caldwell nodded once, not bothering to reply, and again Hermoid answered before he could ask.
"Team has been retrieved. All are on board."
Caldwell stood. "Danez, you have the con."
The mudroom was full of excited, irritated voices, and Caldwell's arrival silenced none of them.
"Doctor?" he demanded of a harried looking McKay.
The Canadian nodded, raising his voice.
"There's a good reason I pulled us out, but I have to report to the Colonel first," he said to the others. "We're not going back right away, so compile the data and have an overview for me in three hours. We'll reconvene then. Military, this includes you, if you're not on duty. I want input from everyone."
The noise died off to muttering, and Caldwell let them file out past him, then turned to McKay. He took a good look, then stepped towards him, concerned at his pallor and shakiness. It appeared he'd held it together for his team, but there was clearly something going on, something that had deeply alarmed the physicist.
"Sit before you fall down." he said, gesturing to a bench, and McKay complied. He was almost panting, breathless, and Caldwell waited till he got his breathing under control again, knowing if something immediately urgent had occurred McKay wouldn't have bothered ordering the data report from the others.
Finally, McKay coughed once, and then again, held his breath a moment, sighed.
"To what?" Caldwell joined him on the bench.
"It's called fear, Colonel." McKay's tone was sharp. "I know you soldier types have it bred out of you, but us poor scientists..." he trailed off, evidently out of breath.
"I've read your record, McKay. Despite your carefully cultivated reputation as a coward, it tells me a different story."
McKay glanced at him disbelievingly, but he saw the seriousness on Caldwell's face and blinked, surprised.
"If it scares you, I'm thinking the rest of us should be terrified. What is it?" he prodded.
"You've gone over the reports from last year." McKay said.
"That was a weapons laboratory down there. One of the labs was developing a nanovirus. Looked too much like the one we dealt with before."
As Caldwell frowned, he hastily added, "There's no chance of infection. The labs have the same protocol as Atlantis, and the complex was on its own power, so the sensors were working. Any pathogen would have triggered a lockdown."
Caldwell nodded, accepting the logic.
"Now that I'm over the shock, though, I think we should take a team back down. I got a lot of information off the database, but as soon as I realized what we were into, I pulled us out. I didn't want to take a chance, not without proper precautions."
"And what would those precautions be?"
"Full medical, hazmat, isolation procedures. Specialists. Thing is, there were other things under research, too. And I'm pretty certain the other half of the complex had a Zed P M construction area."
At Caldwell's look of disbelief, he nodded. "It looks like this outpost was designed to be as self sufficient as possible. We have to get a team together, Colonel. This could have major consequences."
Caldwell couldn't restrain a sigh.
"Enormous consequences. Especially if the material falls into the wrong hands."
"What I'm about to tell you, Doctor, can go no further."
McKay narrowed his eyes. "I'm not going to like this, am I?"
Honesty always served well. "No, you're not." He leaned against the wall, dropping his head back against the ridged metal.
"We have it on good authority that we've been compromised. The SGC, the Atlantis mission, everything."
"We have had, or will have, a Goa'uld spy infiltrate our personnel."
McKay snorted. "Right. They have so much time, after finding enough to eat, someplace to sleep, somewhere to stay where people won't kill them..." he trailed off, and Caldwell could almost see him making the connection. "Holy crap. Of course they'd want to spy on us."
"And Ancient technology would be something worth stealing. Particularly something that kills humans. Combine that with the gene therapy that Dr. Beckett developed, and you have a perfect weapon."
"What precautions have been taken? Has Sheppard found anyone of interest?" It sent him down a different line of thought. "And why didn't he mention it, anyway? Does he think I'm a Goa'uld?" He frowned, thinking something, but not saying it.
McKay looked up, concern etching lines on his face. "Do you think I'm a Goa'uld?"
"No." The firm statement erased some of the worry. "Neither does Sheppard."
"Absolutely. Because he doesn't know about this."
Worry became disbelief. "He doesn't? You haven't told him?"
"You've worked with the military long enough to understand 'need to know', haven't you, Doctor?"
McKay shook his head. "Unfortunately, yes, but you're cutting your self off from one of your best sources by not telling him." His jaw dropped as something else occurred to him.
"Tell me you don't suspect him."
"Truthfully, I suspect everyone, even you. But I need you to understand why we're not going back. And if you are the spy, and you try to kill me, why then," and he grinned "our problems will be over."
"Not a joke, damn it! So who have you told? Who has the Caldwell seal of approval? "
He let the last name slide. "I told Dr. Weir. You know. And that's all. That's how it will remain until something changes." He frowned. "Sheppard will be told when he needs to know."
McKay barked a laugh. "Needs to know. Great. Maybe when some damn System Lord has him at the business end of a ribbon device, he'll need to know then. This is nuts, you know that? The head of the military for Atlantis doesn't know there're possibly spies in his population?"
"No. He doesn't." Caldwell stood, and McKay stood with him, glaring, jaw set. "And he will not find out from you." McKay turned his head a bit, and Caldwell stepped around, maintaining eye contact. "He will NOT," he repeated. "Is that clearly understood, Doctor McKay?"
McKay didn't look away, but after a moment he nodded slightly.
"I can't hear a nod." Caldwell knew he was pushing it, but he also knew McKay.
"Yes, Colonel. It is understood." He almost spat the words.
"Good." Consciously, Caldwell took a half-step back, defusing the confrontation. "Now you go see the medic. You still look winded."
"Am I dismissed, then, Colonel?" Sarcasm was in the tone, but Caldwell took the words at face value, understanding. McKay and Sheppard were tight, and keeping secrets - especially of this sort - went against the physicists very being.
"You don't need to ask, Doctor. You're a civilian, after all."
The granite jaw got firmer, if that were possible, and McKay stalked out without another word.
Caldwell sank down on the bench again. "Could'a gone better," he muttered.Chapter 3
McKay lay in his cabin, staring at the ceiling.
The meeting had not gone well. The military knew the chain of command, and if Caldwell said they weren't going, it was orders. They might not agree, but there was no questioning.
The scientists, on the other hand, made a business of questions. It meant he'd had to do some fast talking, downplaying information, making deliberately erroneous connections, all to make it seem as if there was no reason to go back. The deliberate lies were making him ill and he knew it; he was sweating, coughing, and felt miserable.
When he'd been assigned the space originally, one of only six cabins to have a view of the stars passing, he hadn't moved from the port for a long time. Stargazing from a faster than light spaceship had been better than he'd dreamed it could be, and far better than the weeks he'd spent in crew quarters, two to a cabin.
They'd set off during Atlantis's evening, Caldwell had been clear about having two uninterrupted hours - meaning without an audience - after departure to get underway, so he'd made his way to his quarters, dropped his bag, and spent the whole time staring out the window. The beginning of the trip, the thrill of potential, a fast ship and a star to steer her by…
Now, instead, staring at an unchanging ceiling, he tried to adjust to the news. First, the Goa'uld. Here. In the Pegasus galaxy. Second, third and fourth all mixed together. Spies. Secrets. Sheppard.
And that thought made him sick. Sharing a body with Cadman had been hard, and she was at least human. It would make sense, if a System Lord wanted to take a new host, to find someone powerful on the mission to inhabit. It wouldn't be Weir; she didn't spend enough time off planet. It wouldn't be one of the techs; they had no generalized access to anything of interest. That left Beckett, himself, and Sheppard. The way Caldwell was playing it, it was clear to him that the man suspected Sheppard the most.
"Oh, hell." he said, rolling over. Not Sheppard, not Beckett, not anyone he knew, but mostly, selfishly, and please God, not Sheppard.
He sat up. Sleep wasn't coming, he knew, and they were still hours from Atlantis, so he pulled his laptop to him. Coughing slightly, he called up all the research on removing a Goa'uld from a host.
It was something small, but it was still odd.
They'd stepped through the gate, tanned and relaxed, with a glow of satisfaction that came from a perfectly executed mission. They'd been ten days away, and he knew Daedelus had been back for four.
It wasn't that he'd expected a welcoming committee. Weir had been there, and the gateroom control team. They'd been greeted, unloaded, quickly de-briefed.
They'd been examined. Fed. Washed. Napped. His thundering headache had faded.
And there had been no word from McKay.
Rodney was on Atlantis, they knew that. The mission had, evidently, found nothing major worth pursuing, they knew that too. But the behaviour was unlike the physicist, and they found it irksome.
Sheppard, more than the rest. He finished stripping and oiling his weapon, stored it, and
headed out to hunt the elusive Canadian.
Naturally, the first place to check was the lab. Uncharacteristically, for this time, it was empty - not that it was too late, it was evening after all, but McKay spent little time away from his second home.
He turned, catching sight of Zelenka wandering towards him.
"Seen Rodney?" he asked when the Czech was in range.
Zelenka shook his head. "You find him, you smack him, ok?" He was clearly annoyed.
Sheppard wasn't surprised, annoyed was moderately standard for the scientist when dealing with McKay, but this went a bit beyond.
"Ok. No problem." He paused a moment, "Why?"
"Miscalculation. Tell him if he touches my laptop again…" he trailed off into Czech. "Never mind. I tell him myself."
"How'd that happen?"
"He works all day, and all night, and all day again. Some secret task, won't tell us, won't ask for help. Won't talk much at all."
"Doesn't sound like Rodney," he mused aloud, and the truth of it made Zelenka's expression change.
"This is right." he said, slowly, and true to his mercurial character the irritation morphed to concern. "I was simply appreciating quiet, did not realize what it meant." He looked at Sheppard, and the annoyance had changed to worry. "You find him."
He nodded, feeling uneasy. It had started as a small thing, but it seemed to mean a lot more than he originally thought.
"Always the last place you look," he muttered, standing outside McKay's quarters. He knocked twice, waited, knocked twice more.
"Heck with it," he said aloud, and opened it.
McKay didn't turn. He was absorbed in something on his laptop, and Sheppard was almost directly behind him before he noticed. That, in itself, was worrying.
McKay jerked around and Sheppard stepped back, as much recoiling from the naked fear he saw on his friends face as anything. The scientist froze, staring at him for a second, before forcing a laugh, covering for his reaction.
"You startled me! Jeez, don't do that."
Sheppard shrugged. "You didn't open the door."
"Sorry. Research." When Sheppard leaned over to see for himself, McKay closed the screen, but whatever it was, it had the SGC logo on it.
"Listen, we missed you when we came back. Well, Teyla missed you." he amended, grinning. "We're having dinner in a bit. Join us."
McKay looked down at his laptop, but Sheppard shook his head.
"Whatever it is, it can wait. We haven't hung out in almost two weeks."
Still, McKay hesitated, and Sheppard had the oddest feeling his friend was afraid of something.
"Now," he said firmly, and McKay nodded quickly.
"Okay, okay. We'll talk, huh? You, me, Teyla and Ronon."
"Let me change my shirt." McKay grabbed a shirt from a pile and vanished into the washroom. As soon as he was out of sight, Sheppard opened the laptop.
McKay had been researching the Goa'uld.
He knew, in a vague way, about the System Lords, the Jaffa, and the rest.
Why would McKay be researching it, here on Atlantis? And why was he so edgy?
The walk to the mess hall was odd. McKay kept up a running patter, eyes bright. He was sweating, though the city was cool, and he waved his hands even more, not permitting Sheppard a word edgewise. It was classic scared-McKay-covering-up behaviour.
It wasn't till they got to the hall, and the fact of his relief at seeing the others was so palpable, that he realized.
McKay was afraid, all right. He was afraid of Sheppard.
Dex stood, the half smile on his face, and Teyla greeted him with affection. It was old times - well, new old times - and if it weren't for the fact McKay was afraid his best friend had a snake in his head, it would have been a pleasant meeting.
He chose a tray of food, realizing finally how hungry he really was, and sat next to Dex, facing Teyla. They hadn't started their dinner yet, waiting for him and Sheppard, and they all set to with relish. Dex's manners had improved. Sheppard eyed him covertly, and, it seemed, with concern.
"So, nothing much came of the trip, huh?" Dex started the conversation.
"Unfortunately, no." And Sheppard 'hmph'ed. He knew the man could always tell when he was lying. But he didn't follow it up.
"We had a most productive expedition," Teyla said, picking up on the tension, trying to defuse it.
"Looks like. You're all practically glowing with good health." He couldn't help wishing he'd chosen another phrase. Glowing brought to mind the eerie brightness that Goa'uld possessed humans exhibited from their eyes. He wiped his forehead with a napkin, sweating. "Anyone else think it's hot in here?" he muttered, but no one commented.
"Sheppard taught me to surf," Dex said a moment later, around a mouthful of potato.
"It was amusing to watch, until the Colonel 'wiped out' and hit his head," Teyla added.
"He did? That's too bad." The food tasted like ash, and he was abruptly unable to eat another bite. He put his fork down, spat the mouthful he had into a napkin as discreetly as he could, and stood.
"I'm sorry," he said, and why was he panting like that? "I left a test running, I have to monitor it…" and it was harder and harder to get his breath. Then the cough started, and it kept going and going, and he found himself on his knees with the taste of blood in his mouth. He couldn't breathe, but his chest burned.
Then he was on his side, and Sheppard was on the comm yelling for help. He sounded alarmed. Could a Goa'uld fake it that well?
Interesting question, he decided, and one to follow up if he could ever get his breath back. His vision was going. Dimly, he felt someone lift him, and movement, and then everything went black.