A/N: Sorry this has been so long in coming. RL took an unexpected turn when my Dad cam down sick and was placed in a Nursing Home around January. It got worse when he passed away two weeks ago this past Tuesday (March 17). I had planned on working on finishing this chapter on that day but things went a little topsy. My Mom and I are doing much better now and I got ambitious and finished this chapter. I already have an idea where the next chapter is starting and it is an interesting turn for the General. Thank you to everyone that has read and reviewed the story up to now. I hope the next chapter will be a bit faster in coming.

Chapter 15 Operation Backlash Cont.

General Thomas Sheppard's Quarters

1430 Hours

Thomas Sheppard stepped from his shower and checked himself in the mirror. The rash was up his neck, along both arms and all over his torso to below his waist. The towel he wore covered a small amount of red that seemed to ebb and flow from where the waistband of his boxers sat most of the day. He didn't like the look of the scratched and raw areas on his arms and around his wrists. He hadn't realized that he had been doing so much scratching throughout the day. He couldn't think of where he had been to get the rash but he seemed to be stuck with it.

Thomas walked into the sleeping area and began getting dressed for dinner. He scratched at his chest and tried to scratch his back. He felt lucky that this strange rash didn't go down his legs or he would be in a world of pain let alone the itch.

Thomas had been in the Infirmary earlier that day to observe how efficiently that area was run. He didn't think that anyone had noticed that he had been scratching off and on while he had observed them. The medical staff had seemed to be in their own little world. He had been asked by the doctor with the foreign accent to not get in the way of his nurses while they did their work. Thomas had complied but had seen many things that needed improvement. Thomas had scratched his wrist one last time and had left to go observe a training session. He hoped that the training session was more efficiently run than Sick Bay was.

As Thomas scratched his chest, he remembered the frustrating conversation with the foreign accented doctor. Doctor Beckett, that was his name, had kept insisting that he needed to check on his rash. The doctor wanted to run some tests to determine what the rash exactly was. The man kept insisting that it might be contagious. Thomas knew better since no rash that he knew of was contagious. Thomas told the doctor to mind his own business and not to bother him with something as trivial as an itch. Thomas had left the Infirmary with a superior air about him but he remembered that as the day progressed, the itch had slowly spread.

Suddenly, he heard some noise and realized that the Com unit he had been given was going off. He picked it up and placed it on his ear. He answered, "This is General Sheppard."

"Ack, good I got ye. General, this is Doctor Beckett. I need you to report to the Infirmary immediately."

"Why?"

"Because of ye rash. It may be contagious and ye need to be under my care."

"I do not need to be under your care Doctor because the rash is not that bad. It will go away on its own and I don't need to be seen by you."

"Ye don't understand General but I am ordering ye to Sick Bay as Chief Medical Officer of this base."

"You do not outrank me Doctor and I refuse to come to Sick Bay."

"Alright then I will have Major Lorne escort you down here under guard. I'm sure that you could understand the necessity that this rash of ye's is causing."

"I will not be bullied into coming to the Infirmary, Doctor"

"I'm not bullying ye, it's an order. Until I see this rash and find out the cause of it, ye are under quarantine. Now, either come down on ye own or be escorted down by Security!"

"You will not dictate to me Doctor. If I feel that this rash is contagious to the populace of Atlantis then I will see you about it but until then I will do as I please. Do you understand me?"

"Aye, I understand ye and now you will listen to me. This rash is unknown to me and you will come down to the Infirmary right now. I am sending Major Lorne and a squad to escort you down immediately. The last time someone had an unidentified rash, he started mutating into a bug. I will not have it happen again. For now, remain in your room until Major Lorne gets there and he and his team will escort you to the Infirmary. Do ye understand?"

"I'm sure you are exaggerating Doctor. I have work to do and nothing you can say is going to deter me from it. Good-bye Doctor!" and the General shut down his com link. He then put on his jacket, grabbed his clipboard and left his quarters.

Carson stood in shock for a moment after he was cut off by the General. He then shook his head and touched his com. "Major Lorne?"

"Yeah Doc go ahead."

"Could you and a team locate General Sheppard and escort him to the Infirmary?"

"Sure Doc. Anything wrong?"

"The fool has a rash of some sort and I need to check it out. He was scratching to beat the band when he was down here earlier but I was too busy to look at him. Now I have more than enough time to check it and I can't get him to come down and allow me to check it. It might be contagious but I need to be sure."

"Ouch. Doesn't sound pleasant. Sure, me and a detail will locate him and bring him to you."

"Thank ye son. See ye when ye get here."

"See ya Doc. Lorne out."

Hank McCoy looked at Major Evan Lorne and asked, "What's going on?"

"Oh, Doc Beckett wants us to escort General Sheppard to the Infirmary. Seems he has a rash that the Doc needs to take a look at."

"If you would like, I can accompany you?"

"Sure, I don't expect any trouble but you're welcome to come along. We'll start at his quarters and go from there."

"Lead on Major. This should be interesting," Hank said with a small smile.

Lorne smiled back and then looked at his team and said, "Let's go!"

General Sheppard's Quarters

1445 Hours

Major Lorne, Hank McCoy and the military detail stood outside of General Sheppard's quarters. Lorne hit the door chime and then called out to the General. After another minute of waiting, Lorne overrode the door controls. He checked the quarters and found the General not there.

He called Carson and told him that he and his detail were beginning a search for the General. Carson said to call when the General was found and to bring him directly to the Infirmary when they have him.

Lorne confirmed and then looked at Hank and asked, "Would you like to go with us or would you care to look for him on your own?"

"I think I'll try on my own for a bit. If I find him, I'll give you a call on the Com. Sound good?"

"Sounds fine to me. Good luck Dr. McCoy. Alright guys, let's find us a General."

Hank McCoy watched Major Lorne and his team disappear down the corridor. He looked right and then left and thought to himself, 'now where would I go if I was the General?'. With that thought, he turned right and headed toward the mess hall. If he was the General, a good meal would be in order before he observed the evening shifts.

Mess Hall

Atlantis Base

1500 Hours

Hank McCoy watched General Thomas Sheppard consume a sub sandwich with gusto. He also observed the major amount of scratching that the General was doing. If the General didn't get some medical treatment soon, Hank figured that he would be bleeding from all the scratching that he was doing.

Hank touched his Com and said, "Major Lorne?"

"Yes Dr. McCoy?"

"I've located the General. He's in the mess hall having dinner."

"Great. We're on our way. Find some way of keeping him there."

"Not a problem. McCoy out."

Hank walked over to the General's table and asked, "Mind if I join you General?"

Thomas couldn't believe it. One of those things was actually talking to him. It was asking to join him while he ate. This was something that he couldn't tolerate. Thomas made to stand up since he had now lost his appetite.

"No you may not. I am leaving."

"But General, I have a couple of questions about what it is you do exactly. Do you think you could answer them for me?"

The General looked at Hank suspiciously and asked, "What would you like to know?"

"How do you determine how efficient something is being run?"

"It depends upon the situation and what the organization or department is supposed to do."

"So, you're saying that say an organization such as a school can be run efficiently even with extenuating circumstances?"

Thomas sat back down and questioned Hank, "What type of school? Flight?"

Hank nodded and said, "A school that was based on flight."

Thomas proceeded to tell Hank how he would check to see how a flight school would be checked for efficiency and what suggestions he would make if he found inadequacies.

While Thomas was talking, Major Lorne and his team entered the mess hall and came over to the General and Hank. Hank nodded slightly to acknowledge Lorne's presence even though the General had ignored what was going on around him.

While the General spoke with Hank, he continued to scratch his arms and wrists through his uniform jacket. As the General made one important point to Hank about how a flight school should be run efficiently, the General reached around his back and started scratching.

Hank and Lorne said nothing until the General had made his point and then Lorne said, "General, if you come with us, we can get something for the awful itch you have."

The General looked up startled because he had not noticed Lorne come up to him while he spoke.

"Major, what are you doing here?"

"Accompanying you to the Infirmary Sir? Doctor Beckett requested your presence and for us to escort you there."

The General continued to scratch his back and said, "I do not need to go to the Infirmary Major. There is nothing wrong with me."

"Yes Sir. I understand Sir, but if there is nothing wrong with you, could you tell me why you keep scratching your chest and back so vigorously?"

Thomas' eyes widened as he continued scratching. He looked down at his hand and tried to stop the movement. The itch was all consuming now.

Hank looked at Lorne and barely nodded. He had an idea and he wanted Lorne to go along with it. Hank looked at Thomas and quietly said, "You know, this would be a good way of checking how Doctor Beckett efficiently runs a diagnostic procedure. You could see how accurately he diagnoses your condition, that is, if you have one."

Thomas continued to scratch but thought seriously about what the blue thing had said. He finally looked at Hank and Major Lorne and nodded his acceptance, stating that the Doctor better know what he was doing or there would be hell to pay.

With that being said, Thomas rose and turned to Lorne. "Let's get this over with . . ." Thomas began to walk out of the Mess Hall and towards the Infirmary. Hank and Lorne grinned at each other and then followed the General out of the door. The first part had been the hardest, now they had to get him to stay in the infirmary so that Beckett could make his diagnosis.

Conference Room

Team Debriefing

Atlantis Time: 1530 Hours

General Jack O'Neill and Elizabeth Weir sat side by side waiting for Sheppard's team and the X-Men team that went to the planet, to enter the room. Jack sat drumming his fingers on the tabletop while Elizabeth quietly grinned at him.

Jack noticed her grin and said, "What?!"

Elizabeth didn't say anything but just smiled broader.

"Oh for crying out loud, I hate waiting alright?" Jack said to her silence.

"I remember from our first meeting especially after then Vice President Kinsey tried to cut you totally off from the Stargate. I especially like you telling Kinsey that what he was saying was 'Derentis'."

"Still don't know what that means, but I'll give it a good guess."

"Don't bother. I know what it is now, so you can just continue to imagine what it means."

Jack was about to say something when John Sheppard and his team came in followed by Storm, Wolverine, Iceman and Shadowcat. Both teams took seats and looked quietly at Elizabeth and Jack.

Elizabeth cleared her throat and began, "Nice to see you all in one piece." She looked at John with a great deal of concern and then turned her attention back to the rest of the room. John just shrugged and then smirked at Wolverine. Wolverine just shook his head and then turned his attention back to Jack and Elizabeth.

"Alright, getting back on track, on a whole I say that we found out a thing or two about one of our allies and know how to deal with them. To say that it was a shock would be saying something. We believed, as did Teyla's people, that the Atosians were a very peaceful people. We don't blame you Teyla or your people. You were duped just as badly as we were.

"With that said, let's get on to the debriefing. John, why don't you tell us how it went from your perspective. Then we can get the X-Men's viewpoints."

For the next two hours, both teams went over how the mission went and what could have been done different in the contact with the Atosians. It was finally determined that both teams acted exactly as they should have and nothing was missed. It was also decided that as many of Atlantis' allies would be notified that the Atosians were Wraith worshippers and to be cautious around new people wanting to become allies against the Wraith.

As the meeting broke up, she noticed that the two youngest X-Men were speaking quietly to John and Wolverine. She hoped it wasn't anything to worry about, but you never knew around Atlantis.

John and Wolverine looked at the youngsters and sighed. Both teens had expressed that they thought that they should have been able to do more in which to help Dr. McKay and possibly Teyla. John looked at Bobby and finally said, "You did exactly what was needed Bobby. You created the icewall and protected both Teyla and yourself. If the Atosians had blaster weapons, the wall would have deflected it just enough to let McKay do his job of dialing the DHD.

"Kitty, you phasing him and Teyla kept the arrows that did get through from injuring them. Yes, you did lose concentration briefly as did I, but you were right back on the ball and phased everything but his hands so he could dial and send through our code for the IRIS. Neither of you could have done anymore than you did and you did it excellently. I wouldn't be surprised if these situations get added to Danger Room sessions. If that is the case, then you can work on the scenarios and see how you could have improved upon them. Until then, you did a great job and don't over think it.

"Now, why don't you two go get something to eat or meet up with Rogue and Peter and see about watching a movie? Go, relax and stop thinking for a while."

Kitty and Bobby nodded and left. Wolverine looked at John and said, "You got the pep talk down pat. Knew you'd make a great leader."

"Well, I started off as a Major and the least one liked here, but Colonel Sumner was captured the morning after we got here. I was forced to end his life before he gave Intel to the Wraith Queen that was draining his life. At that point, I didn't have a choice. I was it until the new military commander showed up. Turned out, he was a friend of Colonel Sumner and hated my guts.

"After everything settled down, Elizabeth took all heads of the departments back to Earth. I figured that I would be debriefing the new head of the military. Boy was I wrong. Elizabeth convinced them that I was the best choice for the job. Caldwell was supposed to get the job, but Elizabeth pulled strings and got me a raise in rank and kept me on as head of the military. Surprised the hell out of me. Thought I'd be a Major for the rest of my short career. Turned into a much longer stint than planned.

"I'm starving, let's get something to eat and I can tell this whole sordid tale again to the rest of the crew."

"Sounds like a plan to me. Lead on!"

John and Wolverine left the Conference Room and made their way to the Mess Hall. After finding most of the X-Men in the room along with General O'Neill and Elizabeth, John invited everyone to join him for dinner. Another night of storytelling began as

Tables were pulled together to accommodate everyone.

Major Lorne came over and listened to the story of how Colonel Sheppard got command of Atlantis. Lorne whispered to General O'Neill that phase three of Operation Backlash was in play. O'Neill nodded his understanding and Lorne went back to listening to the stories being told by various members of the X-Men on how they had met John 'Eagle' Sheppard.

1845 Hours

Atlantis Infirmary

Carson Beckett finally came back to General Thomas Sheppard and shook his head. "Well General, I have good news and bad news for ye. Which would ye like to here first?"

"Why do you Medical people always have good and bad news? Just tell me what the problem is and what I can do to get rid of it."

"We take an Oath and part of that Oath says that we will always give you a choice of which news ye wish to hear first. Since you don't really care, I'll get on with it. Ye are clear of many of our major diseases. What you do have, is an allergic reaction to one of our many plants we have on the planet. You probably came in contact with it during your visit to our Hydroponics Lab. We do have a cure for it. This cream will take care of the itch and will help the rash go away in a few days. Ye will have to come in to the Infirmary to have the cream applied two to three times a day. Do ye have any questions?"

"No, just get it over with!"

Carson and a nurse donned a pair of latex gloves and began applying the cream to the General's skin. At once, the itch subsided and the General almost sighed in relief. Carson was working on the General's back when he noticed that the muscles were relaxing. He glanced at his nurse and whispered for her to get the blood pressure cuff. Before he put cream on Thomas' left arm, he wanted another reading of his blood pressure. It had been somewhat elevated when Thomas had arrived and Carson hoped it was back in the normal range now that the itch was taken care of.

The nurse handed the cuff to Carson, who gently wrapped it around Thomas' bicep to get his reading. After getting his new reading, Carson put on a new set of gloves and finished applying the cream to the remaining arm. Carson then looked at Thomas and said, "Now I want ye to go back to ye room and get some sleep. I am a bit worried about your blood pressure, but it should be lower in the morning. I expect to see ye in here for ye next application of the cream. Now, on ye way General."

General Thomas Sheppard put on his shirt and jacket and then left the Infirmary, extremely happy to be out of the foreigner's hands. He would never understand how he got to be the Chief Medical Officer of this Military Base when many others were much more qualified than him.

It was now after 1900, so the General stopped by the Mess Hall to get some dinner. He got his dinner and noticed that the place was rather crowded. He looked around and finally found a place to sit and eat his meal. Laughter could be heard coming from the area above where he was seated. He observed that General O'Neill and Lt. Colonel Sheppard were seated with those misfits. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and the General was laughing at something that someone had said. He tried to finish his meal but ended up listening to their stories anyway.

The stories seemed to center around the Lt. Colonel and his life before and during his Military career. There seemed to be a great many stories and most were funny, yet a few were about when he was injured. Thomas began to wonder if he might have been too hard on the boy but then he thought of his long dead wife and changed his mind. If it wasn't for the boy, his wife would still be here and with him. No, the boy was to blame and how he treated him was exactly how he should have.

With that last thought, he bussed his tray and went to his quarters. He changed and set his alarm for 0530. He went to sleep knowing that tomorrow would be a better day and he might even find some dirt on the boy to get him Dishonorably Discharged.