First of all I want to apologize for not posting the final chapter sooner. It was terribly cruel of me. At first I was a bit stuck, I had some major revisions that needed to be done on it and for the life of me I was unable to think of a way to end the story. Then I ended up in the ER. While under the influence of the blessed morphine I began having strange thoughts. The actual hospital I was in was one that was located on the Army base about five minutes from Cheyenne Mountain. Needless to say I started to convince myself there really was a stargate in that mountain! From that experience I have learned the morphine is a wonderful drug.
But that's not all that kept me from finishing this. There were some personal tragedies and I was having difficulty dealing with things in general. However, I'm back on the scene now and with the much needed update for this story!
So, please enjoy.
Elizabeth had a new respect for Dr Biro. The woman had taken it upon herself to perfect Carson's variant of the bacteria. For three days she worked, so absorbed in her research that she abstained from sleeping. It was only because Elizabeth would make her take a break that the doctor actually ate regular meals.
Gathered in the briefing room was all the senior staff, minus those in the infirmary. Dr Biro was grinning ear to ear with her triumph at developing a 'cure' to the problem of the Dolosians.
"Dr Biro has been able to develop something she believes will prevent the Dolosians from spreading their plague and infecting unsuspecting worlds." Elizabeth motioned for the physician to stand up and explain.
"Basically what I did is genetically alter the bacteria that were causing this illness. The bacteria itself was not the culprit, the toxic byproduct they produced was." Her eyes lit up as she continued, "This new bacteria will reproduce and essentially replace the malevolent bacteria."
One of the scientists raised their hand, "How did you manage that?"
"Well this particular bacterium has an appetite for all prokaryotic cells. We managed to tweak it so that it prefers to only ingest the one we want to replace."
"So what would we do? Inoculate all of the Dolosians?" asked Elizabeth.
"Well that would just be impractical," stated bluntly. "I asked some of the biologists we have on site to try and develop a distributive method while maintaining the viability of the bacteria. So, to answer your question, the bacterium has been converted to work with an aerial delivery. The emulsion that keeps the bacterium from dying will protect it for about a week ensuring that it gets spread around to enough of the population that further reproduction and distribution can take place."
Elizabeth understood most of what the Doctor was saying. "And how much time will it take for the entire population to be safe for contact?"
The woman shrugged, "Eight months. A year maybe?"
"I am assuming that you would like me to deactivate their gate for that time?" Zelenka's glasses were losing their battle with gravity, so he pushed them back onto his nose.
"I do not doubt your abilities in that matter," said Elizabeth with a smile. "How long would it take you to deactivate it?"
"Well, with the right preparations I could easily get it done, in say, fifteen minutes."
She nodded. "Very well then. If everyone can be prepared to go by tomorrow morning that is when I'll schedule it. We'll send two jumpers through to distribute the bacteria. Dr Zelenka can walk through with a detail and deactivate the gate while the jumpers are doing their jobs."
Everyone seemed confident of the plan as they rushed out to begin their preparations.
"Why did the chicken go through the Stargate?" asked Sheppard drowsily. They had resorted to making up cheesy jokes to keep them entertained.
"Why?" said Rodney half paying attention. He was still working away on his laptop.
"To get to the other side…" No one laughed. It was a terrible joke.
"Colonel Sheppard I hope you keep your day job," suggested Dr Biro as she entered the room. "Speaking of which, these papers here," she waved a sheet in front of him, "are you discharge papers. In a week we can schedule another exam to see if you're fit for duty."
Sheppard brightened considerably, "For news like that I'd become a ballet instructor if you wanted."
"Thank you very much for that visual Sheppard," remarked McKay. "I'm going to have nightmares about you in tights and a dance belt now."
Dr Biro's seemed to enjoy that prospect. Rodney cleared his throat snapping her out of it. "Ah, yes, and Dr McKay, I have the papers for the rest of the team too. We'll just have a final examination and you're all free to go."
"And what about me?" said Carson from his bed.
"Yes, well the medical staff, myself included, feel that the only way you're going to get some much needed rest is if we keep you under our careful supervision. Otherwise you'll be sneaking in here to catch up on that pile of papers on your desk." She sighed, "I bet you would have even tried to get on the mission to Dolosus if you had the chance."
"So you've come up with a solution?" asked Sheppard, his eyes lighting up with the hope he'd get to go.
Biro caught the look, "We have, but there's no way you're well enough for any kind of gate travel. As I said, in a week we'll see if you'll be fit for duty."
McKay looked smug, "I'm assuming they'll want me to deal with the Stargate?"
She threw up her hands in exasperation, "What is it with you people? You've very nearly died and now that I'm letting you leave you all think you can just carry on as if you've not been hooked up to life sustaining machinery for a whole week?" A murderous look was in her eyes. "Major Lorne had the same problem. He thought it was noble or something, thinking that you were all depending on him to keep things running smoothly until you were all back on duty. The man is almost a walking fiberglass statue he's got so many casts on. I had to threaten to break his other leg to get him to finally use a wheelchair for the time being.
"We are all perfectly capable of running this place without you for a month or so. If the Wraith visits I guarantee you'll know about it. And we certainly do not need you all trying to solve every problem that presents itself."
McKay clapped, "Bravo Dr Biro. Now are you going to let me go or not? Despite your misguided notions that Atlantis could run without me I feel that I should at least look over the plans for the Stargate."
The woman stared at him until he started to feel uncomfortable under the penetrating gaze. Then she checked her watch and smiled sweetly. "Dr McKay, you are more than welcome to go and see how the mission turned out since they've been back for about half an hour. I believe there is going to be a meeting in the briefing room in about twenty minutes if you want to know any specifics." Her sarcasm was noted and the group stayed quiet until she had freed them from their IV tethers and given them leave to flee the infirmary.
Dr McKay set his tray next to Carson's as he sat down to eat his lunch. The physician glanced at the food heaped on McKay's tray, for the weeks afterwards they had been ravenous as their bodies were recovering from their weakened conditions.
"It's good to see you're having all the food groups for lunch today," commented Dr Beckett before he sunk his teeth into his own meal.
Colonel Sheppard who was sitting across from them sniggered, "And then some. You know your eating habits are what got us into this in the first place."
Rodney pointed his fork at Sheppard, "I'll have you know that if it wasn't for me then we'd probably all be dead by now. Dr Biro was just telling me that Atlantis probably would not have recognized the bacteria as a threat and quarantined the infected individuals. So had I not nearly died," he accented the last word, "you would have all been in serious trouble right now."
The table was quiet. Carson laid his eating utensils down and devoted all his attention to his friend. "You're absolutely right. Thank you for being our savior."
McKay raised an eyebrow, "You're being facetious, I was actually being serious." He took a bite of his food and frowned.
"What is it?" said Sheppard seeing the concerned look on his face. He glanced down at the food on McKay's plate. "Hey, you just ate some of the lemon chicken they were serving today."
"How do you feel Rodney?" said Dr Beckett, he didn't look very concerned.
His eyes wide in horror he gasped, "My mouth, it's completely numb. I can't breath." He started gagging and fell backwards out of his chair dramatically. The whole room seemed to focus on him as he moaned on the floor.
"Hmm…" said Dr Beckett. "His response seems to be entirely psychosomatic."
Colonel Sheppard glanced down at McKay who glared back at him for seeming so unperturbed by his plight. "Can you do anything for him Doc?"
Carson shook his head sadly, "I'm afraid not. It's just a matter of time until the anesthetic wears off and he regains feeling in his mouth and throat. Until then we can enjoy blessed silence."
The prostrate physicist, seemed to recover and tried to yell at the pranksters but he fumbled around the words and could only produce a few incoherent shouts. They laughed and helped him up off the floor. Sheppard patted him on the back, "Ah, the 'lemon' that saved Atlantis from having to listen to you."