I do not own Stargate Atlantis or its characters.

David A. Bartlett

A bead of sweat trickled down Rodney McKay's forehead and into his right eye, causing him to blink a good deal faster than he had been for the past several minutes. The stress and pressure he was experiencing made it hard for him to believe that only an hour ago he had been bored beyond belief, hoping that the Daedalus would make the run from Earth back to the Pegasus galaxy in record time, depositing him in Atlantis and his lab.

Sitting directly across the computer console from Rodney was the Asgard, Hermiod. Unlike Rodney, the diminutive alien had not blinked for over five minutes. McKay knew that for a fact because he had counted. When Rodney could take it no more, he clucked his teeth and let out a short, sharp sigh.

"Any day now."

Hermiod swiveled his head slightly to focus his immense black eyes on McKay. ('And still didn't blink,' thought the human.)

"Please, Dr. McKay," said the Asgard in his usual measured and precise cadence. "I am attempting to compute the proper coordinates." After several more prolonged seconds (during which McKay noticed no blinking), Hermiod reached out with a long, delicate finger and began typing into the computer. "I believe the proper sequence is now complete. The final coordinate entry should be J7." And with that, the little alien pressed the ENTER key.

Almost immediately, the computer display in front of Rodney began giving off a warning claxon and a message in red font began to crawl across the face of the terminal. McKay pressed his thin lips together and his eyes began to blink even faster. "Oh crap," he muttered to himself.

"Does that sound signify what I think it does?" asked Hermiod.

"Yes. Yes, it does," snapped Rodney, attempting to retain his composure.

"I await verbal confirmation, Dr. McKay."

Rodney stared daggers at the Asgard. "Fine! You want verbal confirmation? I'll give you verbal confirmation!" He leaned over the console in a failed attempt to tower over the alien.

"You sank my battleship!"

He paused for a second, staring into the black, depthless eyes of Hermiod. The Asgard finally blinked. Rodney squelched the desire to send the little gray-skinned engineer out the nearest air lock. Instead the sat back, crossed his arms and said, "Best three out of five?"

Hermiod did not look directly at Rodney. "I am sorry, Dr. McKay. I am now scheduled to defeat Dr. Kavanagh in a game of Boggle."

For a few seconds, Rodney sat motionless. Then he simply muttered, "Fine," and exited the engine room, heading for the ship's galley. Nothing took the sting out of defeat like banana cream pie.

As the doors swished shut behind the human scientist, Hermiod muttered to himself. "Asnem rof h'cum os." And then he did something no human had ever seen an Asgard do before.

He smiled.