A/N: Since it's been on ff dot net for entirely too long, this story is currently undergoing MAJOR revisions and re-writes, hence why its chapters have suddenly disappeared. Perhaps they'll return one day. More likely I'll forget to re-upload them, though.
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Apparently, neither will several million light years, as somehow, the postal service had found a way to deliver all the way to the Pegasus galaxy, via the Daedelus.
Mail. Silly little sheets of paper folded inside other silly little sheets of paper. Something everyone on Earth seems to take for granted, but causes a commotion among ordinarily sane and reasonable professionals on Atlantis.
Every time the Daedelus arrived with a fresh shipment of supplies, it also came with a gargantuan amount of mail for the occupants of the ancient city.
Every time the stuff arrived there was a sort of controlled chaos that overtook the staff. A kind of happy frenzy gripped the population, everyone showing everyone else their latest letters from loved ones, their children, their fiancés, their grandparents.
Every time the mess hall was suddenly overtaken by dozens of people sitting around reading their mail and replying to it as though there was no tomorrow.
And every time, Lieutenant Ford would be found off in the corner of the mess, sorting through his own stack of mail, carefully replying to the letters from his family first, and then sorting through his various subscriptions to various publications.
So what if they were several months old? It was still all new to him.
Guns And Ammo, Military Today, GamePro, Wizard, Playboy. Most of it the usual fare you would find in the possession of a young male military officer.
Most of it that is, with the express exception of a small, tabloidish looking paper called 'The Lone Gunman', who's cover was often graced with such headlines as 'Octium Four Chip Invades Privacy' and 'Teletubbies Equal Mind Control'.
His grandfather had told him the thing was utter claptrap, but he enjoyed it anyway. The commentary on various government conspiracies was entertaining beyond belief, very tongue in cheek, especially the stuff by Richard Langly. Aiden had come across an old tattered copy of the paper several years before, when he was starting college, and had been hooked ever since. A faithful subscriber for about five years or so.
As he drank his coffee and ate his...well, whatever it was, he flipped through an issue from the month that the Atlantis expedition had left Earth.
About halfway through he snorted a bit of coffee through his nose and almost choked on his breakfast.
'Unexplained Disappearances Of Leading Scientists Sparks Controversy'
The headline itself wasn't what had shocked him though. What had caused him to almost die of asphyxiation was a group of photographs beneath it.
All of which were of staff members who were here on Atlantis.
Zelenka, McKay, Grodin...there must have been at least two dozen pictures accompanying the article.
Someone snatched the paper directly out from under Aiden's nose from behind, "Hey, is that me?"
Ford turned in his seat to find Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay standing behind him. McKay, of course, had been the one rude enough to snap up the newspaper and had started reading it immediatly, his lips moving as he mumbled the words he was reading.
It only took a few seconds for the astrophysicist's eyes to bug out of his head.
"Listen to this- 'A rash of simultaneous disappearances has been reported throughout the world. The tightly knit scientific communities of more than a dozen countries have suddenly and inexplicably lost their best and brightest in one fell swoop, and yet no one is asking questions. Excuses have been made that have been accepted by the general public, but it's been our discovery here, at 'The Lone Gunman' that these explanations don't hold up under much scrutiny.'
McKay flicked his eyes to Sheppard, who wasn't looking even slightly troubled, before he continued, 'To this reporter, this situation reeks of conspiracy and subterfuge, not only within our own government, but within the powers that be around the world. Among those reported missing are-' McKay flipped the page, 'Blah blah blah...Radek Zelenka engineer and inventor of-blah blah blah Grodin, Kavanaugh, Brown...' Why the hell aren't I mentioned? You would think that with all the...-Oh wait, here I am-...'And Doctor Rodney McKay'.
McKay stared off into space momentarily as he thought out loud, "Huh. Must not have had enough page space to list my numerous accomplishments."
Sheppard rolled his eyes and attempted to snatch the paper out of McKay's hands. Rodney, however, abruptly turned his body away so that the tabloid remained in his possession and resumed his reading, "We at 'The Lone Gunman' have attempted to contact several governing officials in regard to this matter but have received no response. To our knowledge, there is no official investigation into this matter from any of the governments involved. What happened to these trail blazing scientists? We can only speculate as to their whereabouts. Alien abduction? Mass migration to the Bermuda Triangle? A group vacation to Hawaii?"
McKay snorted and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'I wish' before he continued reading, "Our own investigation has been launched so that we may bring you, the public, the truth. You heard it straight from the man: Melvin Frohike-Editor In Chief. Look for updates on this article in future issues of 'The Lone Gunman'."
"This could be a problem," McKay slammed the tabloid shut (well, as much as anyone can slam a tabloid shut) and slapped it down on the table, "You got anymore of these, Ford? That are dated after this one?"
"Yes, sir. But why-"
McKay grabbed up the stack of back issues that was sitting next to Ford and made to leave.
"Rodney where are you-"
"I have to show these to Elizabeth. There's someone on Earth that might be on the verge of stumbling across our-well, not on the verge, of course, the SGC is more discreet than that, but-"
"I'm sure they're already handling it," Sheppard said without any anxiety in his tone what-so-ever.
"And if they aren't, hmm? If they aren't aware that this silly little rag is in the middle of an investigation that may uncover our true whereabouts? The SGC has to be notified immediately."
With that, McKay practically dashed from the Mess, leaving Colonel Sheppard staring after him, shaking his head, "You'd think the man would be thrilled that someone noticed he was missing."