The Pegasus Connection
Begun September 2005, finished May 2007
Spoilers: This is a crossover that goes AU somewhere in the
middle of season eight SG-1 and season one Atlantis. Expect spoilers
for multiple episodes, in particular The Fifth Race, Abyss,
Fragile Balance, The Lost City and New Order
(SG-1) and Hide and Seek (Atlantis).
Disclaimer: The Stargate franchise belongs to many people, none of whom are me. Characters, settings and concepts borrowed for fun, not profit.
Daniel eventually tracked Sam down to the control room.
Well, okay, so he'd taken a glance into her lab, checked his watch to make sure it wasn't her lunch break, and then walked straight down here, but still, it was a process. "Hey, Sam," he said, wandering over to stand by her.
"Hi, Daniel." Sam didn't look up from her computer screen. It showed one of those slightly scary frequency graphs that always made him wonder exactly what the Stargate was emitting and why they weren't more worried about it, so he didn't try to study it too closely. "What's up?"
"Oh, nothing. Nothing." He casually slipped his hands into his pockets.
Sam half turned and smiled up at him. "SG-6 already left two hours ago," she said knowingly.
Daniel let the innocent look drop. "What?" he pouted. "I thought they were scheduled for 1600?"
"They were. The General moved the mission up."
"That's... gah!" Daniel laced his hands behind his head, then spread them in frustration. "He does this just to annoy me, you know."
Sam smiled and shook her head. "Daniel, you know we can't afford to spare you for a six week dig."
"But this is a serious find!" he implored her. "It's, it's- even from the MALP view, it's obvious that the language on those pillars has evolved differently from Ancient as we've seen it elsewhere. It could be evidence of the presence of Ancients in our galaxy long after the point where we thought they'd all left or Ascended. Or, or even a lost colony of humans who adopted the language of the Ancients as their own. This could be huge!"
"SG-6 will be reporting in regularly," she reminded him. "You'll be the first to get copies of their findings."
Even Sam didn't understand. She knew all about the thrill of discovery, but to her it was about numbers, equations. Photos, schematics and a disk full of measurements were as good as the real thing. Her type of science was about breaking the world down into logical blocks; his was about communication. He needed to touch the inscriptions with his own hands, breathe the same air that their creator had breathed. How could you understand a people's language unless you felt what it was to be that people?
"There'll be other missions, Daniel." Sam sympathised with his disappointment even if she couldn't fully appreciate it.
"Will there?" he wondered, only semi-rhetorically. "There's no way Jack would tie up you and Teal'c on a long-term archaeological mission with me, and he denies all my requests to take a temporary transfer to another team."
"You have to admit, you don't have the best history working with other teams," Sam teased.
"I don't have the best history working with anybody. None of us do." He didn't know how he'd got this reputation as the trouble-magnet of the SGC. Hell, even the diplomatic team managed to get in trouble three missions out of ten. It was a dangerous galaxy out there. They knew that. They accepted that. And Jack O'Neill really had to stop playing the mother hen card.
Huh. Yeah. And why not wish for the Goa'uld to give up on galactic domination and take up knitting, while he was at it.
"Jack can't keep me on the leash forever," he said, without much optimism.
With a groan, the Stargate suddenly came to life.
"Unscheduled off-world activation!"
They crowded around Walter at his computer station. "It's SG-14's IDC," he reported, looking up at Sam as the most senior officer in the room. Jack had to be further away than his office, or he'd have sprinted down to the control room by now.
"SG-14?" Sam glanced at Daniel to see if he knew where the team had been deployed.
"PX1-522," he remembered. Doctor Doyle had requested time to investigate a power source the UAV had picked up that might have been Ancient technology.
"Open the iris," Sam ordered, and Walter palmed the scanner. He always looked decidedly grateful when that order was finally given; Daniel had been working for the military for a long time, but he didn't think he'd ever get used to a mentality that made you wait to take a life-saving action you knew was correct until your superior told you to.
The iris screwed open to reveal the pulsating blue of the wormhole. A moment later, a bloody and ragged Major Schrody burst onto the ramp at a run.
Jack had, on one team night out when he'd either been more drunk than usual or thought Daniel was more drunk than usual, likened leading a team through the gate to being a mother of three. The analogy had involved numerous digressions into areas such as checking the contents of backpacks, enforcing bedtimes, and why you shouldn't take a Jaffa warrior through the desserts aisle of the supermarket, but the gist of the theory was this: you counted. All the time, every moment, without even thinking about it. Standing in the gateroom: one, two, three. Making camp on an alien planet: one, two, three. Running from big, ugly crazed natives: one, two, three. Out for a drink at O'Malley's: one, two three.
Daniel had giggled like a, well, a drunken archaeologist, but the next time he'd been in the gateroom for an unscheduled activation, it hadn't been the image of Jack O'Neill in a floral print dress that stuck with him as his stomach clenched.
Major Schrody's team followed him through the gate. One, two...
Gaping, horrible, emptiness.
"Medical team to the gate room." Walter sent out the call as the wormhole popped closed behind the travellers.
Sam leaned forward to speak into the microphone. "Major, what happened to your team?"
Schrody was swaying on his feet, barely able to stay upright. "Jaffa. Dozens of them. They must have been there before we arrived. They ambushed us outside the village and took Doctor Doyle captive. Where's the General? We need to mount a rescue mission."
Daniel knew Jack would desperately want to launch one - but with that many Jaffa, the odds were low that any kind of retrieval would be possible. And Major Schrody was clearly in no shape to take part in the mission himself.
It was worrying news. Large scale troop movements and the taking of captives? That was harking back to the days when the competing System Lords had been the major players in the galaxy. With Earth's success at taking out several of their number and the free Jaffa movement eating away at their forces from the inside, there were few Goa'uld left with the resources to make such a bold move. He leaned in to take Sam's place at the microphone.
"Did you manage to see the symbols on their foreheads?" he asked. Trying to stuff relevant mythological details into the heads of military grunts who attended his lectures was a neverending exercise in frustration, but if there was one thing he made sure that they all knew, it was how to recognise the various tattoos. "Could you make an identification?"
"Didn't need to, sir," said Schrody. "He was with them." His face turned even grimmer. "It was Baal."
Oh, this was not good at all.
"You are absolutely, totally, certifiably insane." Jamie hoisted his school bag further up on his back, and shook his head in disbelief. "How is this a debate? There is no debate. Nobody in their right mind ranks Family Guy over The Simpsons."
His old friend Maria remained stubbornly unmoved. "The Simpsons is tired. It was tired, like, a decade ago. Futurama, yeah, Futurama against Family Guy is close, but Family Guy still has the edge."
"Family Guy is so not funny. Stewie is the only good thing about that show. And Futurama's awesome, I'm not saying it's not, but it still can't match the glory of The Simpsons. There's only one Homer J. Back me up here, Jon." Jamie became aware that the third member of their trio was being suspiciously quiet on a subject close to his heart. "Jon?"
"Huh?" Jon blinked a few times, and showed every sign of having been somewhere several gazillion miles away. It was an impression he projected quite a lot of the time, especially in math class, but usually he proved suspiciously quick to tune back in once the topic drifted into more interesting waters. Right now he just seemed out of it.
Jamie supposed he knew Jon O'Neill as well as anyone - which really wasn't very. Jon had arrived at Mountain Springs in the middle of last year, and somehow completely failed to slot into the standard high school hierarchy. No clique had managed to absorb him, he hadn't faded away into the woodwork, and he hadn't even ended up ostracized as the weird new kid. High school just didn't seem to know quite what to do with him.
Jon was weird, but not in a nerdy way, just in a... weird way. He was actually kind of a jock, into all the sports and pushing himself to the limits to put more muscle on his rangy frame. He was an odd mix of graceful and clumsy, like a half-grown puppy that was still getting used to the size of its feet.
'An odd mix' kind of captured Jon all round, really. He was a goofball, yet strangely dignified. A total flirt, yet he ran like hell if a girl ever made a serious move on him. He was clearly the non-academic kind of smart, but he put a huge amount of effort into his studies. And just when he had you convinced that he physically could not shut his mouth or sit still for five seconds, something would make him go so dead cold serious that he scared the crap out of you. Jamie had never met anyone like him.
He was fascinating, he worshipped The Simpsons, and he was the kind of guy who could happily spend six hours debating the merits of various different pizza toppings. The base ingredients of a beautiful friendship, as far as Jamie was concerned.
So, yeah, he was about as close to Jon as anyone was. And he didn't think he was imagining the fact that Jon had been acting even more erratically than usual for some days now.
"What's with you?" he wondered, as they reached the main doors of the school. "You've been out of it all week."
Instead of recouping quickly for a stubborn denial or a snappy remark, Jon just wearily scrubbed a hand over his face. "Nah, it's nothing. I'm just... tired, I guess. I'll see you guys Tuesday."
He walked off without waiting for any response. Jamie watched him wander away, then turned to Maria. "What's with him?" he asked again.
She gave him an unimpressed shrug. "Nothing. He's always that weird. The better question is, what's with you? Homer Simpson beats Stewie? In what warped and twisted parallel universe? That show is just a parody of itself now. It's like the same four jokes repeated over and over. Oh, wow! Homer's fat and he likes donuts..."
They continued the old argument three-quarters of the way home, Jamie reciting his part from memory without even paying attention. Jon's unusual behaviour was still very much preying on his mind. He knew Jon was an emancipated minor - or at least, had some odd deal he'd never really elaborated on that meant he got to live by himself. If there really was something going on, who was going to know? Jamie was willing to bet he was a close-mouthed with his neighbours as he was his school friends about anything that was going on with him personally.
Maybe it really was nothing. Maybe Jon was just tired, or under the weather, or, hell, cranky for some reason he didn't feel like explaining.
Still, Jamie thought he might just pick up a DVD or some X-Box games or something and drop by Jon's place that night, just in case.
No matter how long they spent in the city of Atlantis, there was always more to explore. Occasionally, usually when working in the early hours of the morning, Radek entertained the idea that the city was deliberately opening up new areas for them, like a pet dog hopefully leaving gifts on its new master's doorstep.
He kept such flights of fancy to himself. His fellow scientists would not appreciate them; they mostly lacked a sense of poetry, capable of seeing beauty in the finest details but not in the larger picture. And Elizabeth - well, Elizabeth would just smile that little smile, the one that said that perhaps she agreed with you, or perhaps she just found you amusing, or perhaps she had a number of large men with tranquiliser guns creeping up while she nodded and smiled to humour you.
He found Elizabeth, at times, a little intimidating.
The expedition's military men were like all military men he had known; on average brighter, perhaps, but still the same in their attitudes and reactions. They saw the beauty in neither detail nor the overall majesty, focused pragmatically on the here and now. A necessary trait, no doubt, but a rather sad one, he thought.
Major Sheppard was quite different. He had a sense of whimsy, and with that and the gift of genetics that allowed him to communicate with the city of the Ancients, Radek suspected he might find there a receptive ear for his less than scientific musings.
Today, however, he was not accompanied by the Major, but by Lieutenant Ford.
"Doctor Zelenka?" Ford spoke through the radio, although he was still within easy shouting distance. "This hallway looks like more of the same. Do you want me to continue to the end?"
"No," Radek decided. "No, it is unnecessary. The design of the outer branches appears to be symmetric; I believe anything of interest we may find will lie along this central route."
"I'll backtrack to the crossroads and rejoin you. Ford out."
Radek continued picking his way along, flashlight in hand although the area remained well lit. He knew all too well that Atlantis could spring unpleasant surprises on the unwary. He might daydream that the city was friendly, but that did not mean it was harmless. Far from it.
He rounded the next pillar, and at last found a deviation in the pattern: the wall to his left was taken up by a stained glass window in shades of blue crystal. He studied it for a moment, looking for the function within the form. The Ancients had an appreciation for beauty, but in fact that made them less likely to decorate their walls with works of art. They made their ordinary things their artwork, marrying aesthetics with purpose. It was a balance that sang to the engineer's soul in him.
There: set into the pattern, not concealed but simply a part of it, he recognised the panel that would open the door. It did not respond immediately to his touch, but that did not trouble him; he had worked on more than enough similar devices to anticipate the most likely causes of the problem. A simple diagnosing session later, and he had the crystal doors swinging open.
What he saw inside stole his breath away, and when it returned he muttered his amazement aloud in his native tongue. But after a moment he remembered himself, and quickly touched his radio. "Doctor Beckett?"
There was a brief pause, then the response, calm but mildly concerned. "Aye, Beckett here."
"This is Doctor Zelenka. I am exploring with Lieutenant Ford in the south part of the newly discovered wing."
"Is there a medical emergency?"
He shook his head, although Beckett could not see him. "No. But I believe we have found something that you would want to see."
"I'll be there in a couple of minutes," the doctor promised, and signed off.
Radek clicked off the radio, and waited for Ford's hurrying footsteps to catch up. Just before the Lieutenant arrived, he reached out to pat the wall, and murmured softly, "Good girl."
Just in case.
Jon's apartment block was not in the best of areas, but nowhere near the worst of them. It was just nondescript, the kind of place you'd expect to find first-time buyers and young families; people who weren't destitute but didn't have a lot of cash to flash around. The kind of place where people didn't pay all that much attention to their neighbours.
Even here, though, a sixteen-year-old living alone was more than a little unusual.
Jamie got into the building without any difficulty, which was both convenient and troubling. The word 'vulnerable' wasn't anywhere in the top five hundred terms to describe Jon O'Neill, but all the same, Jon was all alone out here. Urged on by an irrational anxiety, Jamie took the stairs two at a time.
He'd been here quite a few times before; Jon might not be particularly open about himself, but he was far from stand-offish, and he had no problems throwing open his conveniently parent-free apartment for anybody who wanted to catch the game or whatever. He had a pretty hard-line policy against letting anyone use it for more dubious behaviour, but Jamie supposed a slightly more grown-up sense of responsibility came with the territory. The straightest answer he'd ever got out of Jon was a vague comment about the Air Force paying for everything; he gathered that Jon's whole family had been military, and most if not all of them were dead.
The door was standing ajar when he reached it. Jamie slowed down, and approached with a caution that he told himself was stupid. So the door wasn't locked: maybe Jon had just left it that way. He wasn't pathetically insecure, after all. Unlike some people here who could be mentioned.
All the same, Jamie didn't call out as he pushed open the door.
The lights were on, but there was no obvious sound or motion. The TV was off, but he stepped through to check out that room anyway. His eyes fell on the coffee table... and on something decidedly strange that rested there on top of the open TV Guide.
It was about the size of a football, although not quite that shape, and appeared to be bluish-black stone. It made him think of African sculpture - something about the smooth lines - although the writing, if it was writing, was distinctly weird. All the characters made up of square blocks, like the pixellated script of a low res computer game.
Jamie ran a curious hand over it, and flinched back in surprise at the heat of the thing. He'd expected it to be as cool as its surroundings, or even a deeper icy cold, but it was like touching a piece of machinery that had warmed up from constant use. He even imagined he felt a slight vibration from it, but maybe-
Jamie jumped in a way that would have been humiliating, if he hadn't been too busy being scared out of his mind. He looked up to see Jon in the kitchen doorway, casually holding a bottle of beer close to his mouth.
"Um... hi," he mumbled awkwardly. "Uh, your door was open..."
"Yeah?" Jon spared a glance that way. "Okay." He took a sip of the beer.
Jamie relaxed a little. "Sorry to just barge in. I was gonna call, but..." He endeavoured to indicate with a shrug that there was a long and dull story involved. Jon didn't seem mad at the intrusion, at least. Jamie nodded at the stone football on the table. "What's with the modern art?"
Jon didn't even bother to follow his gaze. "Oh, it's just... something I picked up somewhere."
Jamie's heart-rate had finally slipped down into something within shouting distance of normal, and he eyed the beer covetously. "Any chance I could get one of those?"
"Yeah, when you're twenty-one." Jon had the grace to look a little embarrassed at Jamie's sharply raised eyebrows. "Uh - they're a present from my... cousin. He let me have a couple, but he'll be pissed if I share them with anyone. Sorry."
"Okay," Jamie conceded lightly, not exactly married to the idea of the beer, just further unnerved by the weirdness of the response. There was something slightly off here, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Then Jon seemed to shake himself out of whatever it was, and animation returned to his face. "So. You eat already, or you want to share my pizza?"
They spent most of the evening playing X-Box games and arguing about hockey, and everything seemed normal. Still, the feeling of disquiet never quite faded away, and it was still there as a faint little buzz in his stomach when Jamie headed out and jogged down the stairs.
As he knelt down to unchain his moped from the railings where he'd left it, he was a peripherally aware of a dark van pulling up. Several almost unnaturally ordinary-looking guys in suits got out and disappeared into Jon's apartment building.
Jamie had a disturbing feeling he knew exactly where they were going. But it might be only paranoia, and it wasn't really his business anyway. With one last troubled glance up at Jon's window, he started his bike and headed home.
Carson took a deep breath before making the pronouncement. "Rodney - you're fine."
As predicted, his most troublesome patient took that news with considerably less relief and appreciation than most. "Fine? That thing exploded right in my face! I could have serious lung damage. Didn't you hear me wheezing when we came through the gate?"
"According to Major Sheppard, you were running for a good five minutes before you made it to the Stargate," Carson pointed out gently. The best approach to take with Rodney McKay, he had soon discovered, was a mix of firm but fair parenting, gentle mockery, and being bloody irritated.
All right, maybe it wasn't the best approach, but it was the one that kept him sane.
Rodney shot him the darkest of dark looks. "Oh, yes. That's very nice. Mock the dying. No doubt you'll be responsible for the wording on whatever inadequate excuse for a grave marker this galaxy can provide: Here lies Doctor Rodney McKay, killed by incompetent health care professionals - he wheezed when he ran. Yes, I can see I'll get a fair and unbiased assessment here."
Carson felt no particular need to disguise his eye-roll as he straightened up. "Rodney, no one else on the team has had any bad reaction to the plants-"
"Nobody else had one explode two inches from their face! Need I remind you there are a number of fairly important sensory organs in that region? Considering you allegedly attended medical school, one could probably be forgiven for thinking I wouldn't have to, but-"
"If you'd had a serious allergic reaction, it would have manifested itself a lot earlier than this," Carson continued implacably. "It's possible you may have inhaled some pollen or spores that temporarily affected your breathing, but there's no reason for the trouble to persist in a sterile environment like Atlantis. You'll be fine. Now, could I possibly borrow your life signs detector for a moment?"
"What? Why?" Rodney clutched at his chest. "You think something's alive in there?"
He gave that the look it deserved. "Doctor Zelenka and Lieutenant Ford are exploring somewhere in the wing Sergeant Bates's team just opened up. I'd like to get a precise pin-point on their location so I can find out what it is Doctor Zelenka called me down there to see."
Rodney straightened up, life-threatening medical condition abruptly forgotten. "Zelenka called you?" he demanded. "Why would he do that? Does he need you to use your gene? If he's found a piece of technology that requires the ATA gene to activate, I should have been his first point of contact."
Heheaved a long-suffering sigh. "I have absolutely no idea what he called me for. If you want to tag along, you can ask him when we get there. Now come on."
Carson had moved into medical research early on in his career, and had found to his vague surprise, when necessity had forced him into being Atlantis's answer to a general practitioner cum surgeon cum everything else, that he actually enjoyed being face to face with his patients again.
It was just that sometimes, after going a few rounds with Rodney McKay's inner - and outer - hypochondriac, he had trouble remembering why.