Dahlia Radim knew the exact moment when Dr. Weir learned the truth about all of them. It was when the mix of pity and despair appeared on the Atlantean leader's face. She couldn't really bring herself to care, though. She was tired, and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to breathe. Dahlia just hoped that Ladon knew what he was doing, trying to pull off a triple-cross. Out of all the Genii who had come to Atlantis that day, she was the only one who knew the full extent of her brother's plans. Feeling nauseous, she bent over and leaned her forehead on her knees.
Footsteps approached, and she sensed someone kneeling down next to her. "Dahlia," Weir said softly. "Why didn't you say something?"
Was she kidding? Before Dahlia could think of a suitably sarcastic reply, Weir continued. "No, don't answer that. I appreciate your loyalty to your people, even if I think it's misguided." After a minute, the footsteps headed off the way they came. Dahlia hoped everyone would leave her alone now.
No such luck. Soon she felt a hesitant touch on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw a woman clad in a gray jacket standing over her. The woman, who seemed to be a medic, sat on the step next to her and placed two fingers on her wrist. "Heart rate's a little high," she said as she proceeded to wrap a cuff around Dahlia's upper arm. "And blood pressure's a little low. Have you had anything to eat or drink recently?"
"I haven't been able to keep anything down," Dahlia admitted grudgingly.
The medic nodded. "That would certainly explain it. Can you walk? We'd like to take you to our infirmary."
"What are you going to do?" Dahlia asked nervously. Among the Genii, medical people were often brought in to help deal with enemy captives.
"Nothing bad," the other woman said gently. "We've heard that all of you are very sick, and our doctors need to examine you if they're going to figure out a way to help."
Help us? Dahlia thought disbelievingly.
Carson Beckett sighed as he looked at the young Genii woman sitting on one of the beds. Elizabeth had said she was the sister of the man who was planning the coup. She looked tired and ill, and had been very dehydrated. "Bloody fools, doin' that to their own people," he muttered. Corporal Adams hadn't been able to get much history from the girl. Fatigue, shortness of breath, occasionally coughing up blood.
He walked over to her, putting what he hoped was a reassuring smile on his face. "I'm Dr. Beckett. Carson Beckett. You're Dahlia?"
"I'm sorry to hear that you and your people are so ill. We'll do everything we can to help."
Dahlia said nothing, merely continued to look down at her hands. Carson couldn't be sure, but he thought that she was shivering slightly. He frowned to himself as he took her pulse. It had slowed from earlier, but not by much. She was also very warm to the touch; probably had a fever.
"How are you feeling?" he asked. "Are ye hungry? You look like you haven't eaten in a while. Any pain?"
"Stop it!" Dahlia cried. "Whatever you're going to do, just get it over with. I still won't tell you what my brother's plan is."
Carson froze. "Is that what you think?" he asked softly. "You think I'm going to try to get information from you? Medically coerce you? That's not the way we... I operate. I give you my word."
"So why did you bring me down here?"
He couldn't believe it. What was her society really like if she had to ask that question? "To treat you," the physician said simply.
"It's no use. The doctors on our world have tried to cure all of us." Now she just sounded resigned.
"I don't mean to speak ill of your doctors," Well, actually he did, if they were doing things to inspire this type of fear. "but our medicines are a lot more advanced than theirs."
The woman raised her chin slightly. "I know what you're trying to do," she said with some defiance.
"There's really nothing sinister about it, love." Carson tried not to let the exasperation he was beginning to feel enter his voice.
"They won't give your men back. Even if you cure us, Cowen will never relent."
Time to get this discussion back on track. "I'm afraid that's not my department. Now, are you experiencing any pain at all?"
"Why? Why would you help us?" Was that a hint of trust in Dahlia's eyes?
Carson pressed his advantage. "Because I'm a doctor. That's what I do. Why would you do this – allow yourself to be used like this?" Especially since the people you're trying to defend are the ones who couldn't be bothered to use decent radiation shielding.
"I'm dead anyway – what does it matter?" she said.
"Not yet, last time I checked your pulse." He willed her to understand. "Besides, even if there was no hope, I'd prefer to die surrounded by my friends and family in my own home."
It was the wrong thing to say. "Well, I am doing this to ensure that my friends and family have a home," Dahlia snapped. "Can't you understand that? This is the one thing that I can do, and I am glad to do it."
She wasn't quite sure what to think anymore. Dahlia knew that these people were the enemy, but they weren't acting like it. Elizabeth Weir had seemed genuinely sorry about their fate, and that doctor -- the one with the odd-sounding speech -- acted like he really cared what happened to her. After he'd finished his exam, he stood looking at her sadly with expressive blue eyes. "I'd like to help you, if you'll let me," he said. Then he'd gently squeezed her shoulder and left.
Dahlia looked around the infirmary. She saw friends, people she'd known all her life, slowly dying in front of her. There was Jeran, now without his usual easy smile. And Cleo, rail-thin and clutching her stomach in pain. All of them looked scared, but none would accept the assistance offered by the Atlanteans unless she did.
It was one thing for her to stubbornly resist all attempts to provide aid and comfort. But did she really have the right to make the same decision for her companions? To deny them any chance at survival? A true Genii patriot would not hesitate to say yes.
Well, too bad, she decided suddenly. The help offered seemed to be without strings. And even if it wasn't, as the identified leader of the group, she herself would probably be the only one to reap the consequences. So be it; it was worth the risk. When the doctor next came around, she swallowed her fear and agreed to let him treat her people.
He smiled at her, and his whole face lit up. "Thank you for trusting me," he said. "I know that couldn't have been easy." Dahlia also couldn't miss the expressions of relief on her friends' faces. They wouldn't have said anything, but she could see that they didn't want to die without at least trying to fight back against the illnesses consuming their bodies.
Over the next few hours, she was subjected to multiple types of body scans. One in particular involved being placed inside a long, coffin-like tube while a variety of banging noises resounded through the chamber. She started to breathe a little faster. Dahlia had never realized how much she hated enclosed spaces until now. Ironic, since most of her life had been spent underground in a network of caves.
When she was removed from the tube, she saw that a tech had summoned the doctor -- Beckett, his name was. He took one look at her pinched features and called a halt to the testing. "You're holding up very well," he said, "but let's not push it."
She went back to the bed she'd first been given and dropped into a fitful sleep. She awoke feeling slightly more refreshed. To her surprise, many of the guards originally stationed around the large room had been removed. It was a great show of faith on Dr. Weir's part. Dahlia was impressed, even knowing that they were probably outside in the surrounding corridors.
Seeing that she was awake, a nurse summoned Dr. Beckett. He arrived with another man, one with darker hair and warm, brown eyes. He introduced the other man as a surgeon and his chief associate. Together both of them explained what they had found. The scans had revealed a large mass in the lower part of her left lung, which explained the breathing problem and the coughing up blood. Left alone, it would grow to choke off her air supply. But the good news was that the surgeon believed he could get rid of it by removing the entire area of the lung it was located in. "You can live just fine without some lung tissue, so don't worry about that," he said.
They were treating her just like any other patient, for which Dahlia was grateful. "What about the rest of my people?" she asked.
The two doctors looked at each other. "I can't go into details," Beckett finally said, "but I think we can cure about two-thirds of them. We won't just abandon the others, though. We'll make them as comfortable as we can."
She had one more question, and she almost dreaded to ask it. "Any news of my brother?"
Beckett sighed. "No, love. I haven't heard anything." He wouldn't look her in the eye, though.
They took Dahlia to pre-op not long after that. The surgeon, whose name was Dr. Schwartz, came to explain exactly what he was planning to do. While she was asleep, he was going to make a long incision between her ribs to get at the tumor. They'd deflate the lung during the procedure, too. When she woke up, she'd have several chest tubes to help the lung reinflate. "I'm not going to lie to you," he said soberly. "You're going to be in a considerable amount of pain after it's over. We can do something about that, though, so don't hesitate to let one of us know if it becomes unbearable."
She went to sleep praying that Ladon would be successful. She didn't want to die an exile.
Although Carson was a fairly decent surgeon in his own right, he never minded scrubbing in as first assistant to his 2IC. The man was a master. Plus it also allowed him the opportunity to scrub out if circumstances required it. Like, for example, if the potential leader of a hopefully-former enemy came looking for his sick sister.
Carson stripped off his gown, gloves, and mask, and went to meet the group in the observation gallery. "What are you doing?" Ladon demanded, looking somewhat frantic.
Best to be direct and up front about it. "We found a malignant tumor in your sister's left lung. We had to remove it as soon as possible." Ladon closed his eyes in despair, and Carson hastened to add, "Not to worry – it was a complete success. She did great."
The other man looked tremendously relieved. "And then she'll be cured?"
"She's not out of the woods entirely, but if she keeps up with her treatments ..." There was a very good possibility of long term remission, but nothing was certain.
Carson was pleased to hear Ladon's next words. "Many Genii suffer from similar afflictions." He allowed himself to hope that maybe the change in government would do some good. When Ladon left to return to the Genii homeworld, Carson gave him a gentle slap on the shoulder and promised to take good care of Dahlia.
The first thing Dahlia was aware of when she returned to consciousness was agony in her left side. The simple act of breathing was enough to make her cry out, which in turn made the pain even worse. A nurse came over and did something to her IV, and she drifted away again for a while. The next time she awoke was a little better, but she was troubled by the absence of her brother. Drs. Weir and Beckett both assured her that the coup had been successful, but she stubbornly refused to believe it until he came back several days after the surgery.
"Thank God," Ladon and Dahlia said simultaneously upon seeing each other.
Carson sat at his desk and worked on his report, watching the two Genii out of the corner of his eye. He was so intent on what he was doing that he barely noticed John Sheppard walk into his office. John also looked at Ladon and Dahlia, and shook his head slightly. "That whole thing almost went disastrously wrong. Thanks for helping make sure it didn't."
The physician looked at John quizzically, so the colonel elaborated. "If you hadn't offered or been able to help those people, Ladon would have left me and my men there to be vaporized. You saved us and helped open a dialogue between us and the Genii. Not bad for a day's work."
Carson smiled, pleased. "Just doing my job," he said. "Anything else is not my department."