Chapter Three

1978, Groom Lake, Nevada

The guards shoved Warren and Henry through a doorway and slammed the door behind them. The two men found themselves in a small room with a wooden table and three chairs, a one-way mirror, and little else. Henry tried the door, even though he knew he was going to find it locked.

Warren rubbed his wrists. Both men had been handcuffed for several hours before being brought to the interrogation room. "Nice going, Henry," Warren said disgustedly. "Whatever I created, I can outsmart," he mocked.

Henry looked sheepish. "Yeah, they must have upgraded my stuff. I wish I could find out how they did it," he said wistfully.

"As if anyone would tell you," Warren scoffed. "We'll be lucky if they don't lock us away for life, or worse!"

"I think you're being a little melodramatic, Mr. King," said a new voice. It came from a speaker mounted above the one-way mirror. Its owner, a tall, slightly pudgy man wearing fatigues, entered the room a moment later. He sat in one of the wooden chairs and motioned Warren and Henry to the other two. "I'm Captain George Hammond," he said with a faint Southern drawl. Then he sat back and just looked at them silently for several minutes.

Warren fidgeted under Hammond's stern gaze, but Henry folded his arms and glared back. The captain sighed. "Mr. Deacon, your progress has been monitored for the last several years, and I'm sure you know why."

Henry looked indignant. "What the hell? It's not like I tried to build a nuclear bomb, or anything like that!"

"No, that was that crazy Canadian kid," Hammond muttered. In a louder voice, he continued, "Anyway, we've been keeping an eye on you, and we figured it was only a matter of time before you tried a stunt like this." A faint smile crossed his face. "We had a bet on what stupid thing you'd try. I lost."

Henry wasn't amused. "I'm glad that someone finds my life so fascinating," he said coldly.

Hammond leaned forward and fixed Henry with a steely-eyed glare. "You single-handedly took down the Department of Defense's computer network. Did you think you wouldn't be kept under surveillance?"

Warren stared at his friend. "You did that? Cool."

"Shut up, Warren!" Henry hissed. "You are so not helping here."

"I think we're getting off track," said Hammond calmly. "Actually, I really don't give a rat's ass as to why you're here or how you managed to circumvent security. Mr. King's fears in that regard are groundless."

Warren colored slightly.

"So what do you want with us?" Henry asked bluntly.

"We got some very strange readings from that spatial anomaly. You two are the only ones who actually witnessed it, so we want to know exactly what you saw."

Henry shrugged. "There's not much to tell, but suit yourself."

Hammond stood up. "I'll be back later with some of our physicists. Then we can start the full debriefing." He smiled, a touch maliciously. "I believe you've experienced one before."

Henry groaned after Hammond had gone. "What an asshole," he said.

"Debriefing?" Warren asked. "That sounds...ominous."

Henry snorted. "Don't worry. There will be no thumbscrews, and the most lethal thing they've got is their coffee. After all, why bother with pain when you can bore someone to death instead? This could take days."

Warren looked down at his feet for a minute, then raised his head again. "Henry?" he asked hesitantly. "What exactly did you do?"

The other man sighed. "That, my friend, is a long story."

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2005, Eureka, Global Dynamics facility

As they walked, Allison filled Jack in on what was happening. "We've been getting calls from Mrs. Oppenheimer. Seems as if little Jake's been seeing monsters in his closet."

"And the DoD is getting involved?" Jack scoffed. "What's next – Operation Easter Bunny?"

Allison gave him The Look. Jack was used to getting something similar from Zoe. It was her "Oh-my-God-I-can't-believe-we-share-the-same-genes" look. He grinned to see it on Allison's face now.

"Cute," she said. "Mrs. Oppenheimer didn't believe Jake at first, either. But then she saw it, too, and the "monster" looked remarkably like Spencer Martin."

"Oh, come on. Really? Spencer's kinda geeky-looking, but a monster?" Jack knew he was going to have to give Zoe shit about this when he got home tonight. He'd long suspected that his daughter had a crush on Henry's young assistant. "Anyway, what the hell was he doing under Jake Oppenheimer's bed?"

They stopped at the door to Henry's lab. "Hopefully we're about to find out," replied Allison.

Nathan poked his head through the doorway. "Hellooo? Anybody home? No? Okay, we'll come back later." He quickly turned to leave, but was stopped by Allison's hand on his shoulder.

"Nice try," she said dryly, "but he's standing right behind you." She pointed.

"Oh! Um... right." Nathan had the grace to look a little sheepish.

Henry looked from Allison to Nathan to Jack. "What's going on, guys?"

"Allie was curious about your latest brainstorm. I think the sheriff was just being nosy, though." Jack glared at Nathan, who just smirked back in response.

"You mean the matter transmission project?" Henry shrugged. "It's in the very early stages."

"Not so early that it didn't scare the Oppenheimers into needing therapy," Jack offered. Then a thought occurred to him. "Hey, you and Beverly aren't running a scam, are you?"

Henry winced. "That wasn't supposed to happen," he admitted.

Jack rolled his eyes. "No, really?"

The engineer sighed. "Warren and I have been trying to come up with a way to transport small objects instantaneously from one place to another."

"You mean like, 'Beam me up, Scotty?'" Jack asked. Allison tried without success to hide a snicker.

"Not exactly," Henry replied. "We're trying to use a wormhole to transfer objects intact, in discrete units. Star Trek's transporter supposedly dematerialized and later rematerialized things or people." He shook his head bemusedly and muttered, "Man, I am such a geek."

"How did you go from small objects to Spencer?" Allison asked.

"That's the thing," said Henry. "It shouldn't have been possible. The power requirements would have blacked out all of Global Dynamics."

"Hmm..." said Nathan. Jack didn't trust the sudden speculative look he saw on the other man's face.

Neither did Allison, apparently. "Nathan, what do you know about this?" she asked suspiciously.

Stark didn't answer the question. Instead, he turned to Henry and asked, "Can I see what you were using to create the wormholes?"

Henry shrugged in response. "Sure." He looked at Jack. "Just... try not to touch anything."

"Hey!" Jack said, affronted. "That accidental satellite launch? So not my fault."

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Atlantis

"McKay?" John asked with a false smile pasted on his face. "How did that dog get here?"

"I have no idea," replied the physicist absently, concentrating on the readouts in front of him. Hearing the major's skeptical snort, he let out an exasperated sigh. "Despite what I tell you, I don't always have the answers."

"Somebody record that for posterity," Radek muttered under his breath, fingers typing nonstop on his computer keyboard.

The device was still drawing power from its unknown source, and the glow around it was growing steadily brighter. "Rodney, I think we need to get out of here," John said.

"Just a minute." Rodney turned to Radek. "What are those E-M fields doing?"

"They are getting exponentially stronger! And I am beginning to detect a buildup of the exotic particles around the naquadah generator."

Without taking his eyes off the sensors in front of him, Rodney snapped his fingers at John. "Major Sheppard, you should probably get everyone out of here."

"I just said that," John muttered under his breath. Turning to look over his shoulder, he called, "Carson, Elizabeth, get back to the control room!"

"Same with you, Radek," Rodney added. "See if you can establish a containment field around this lab."

"You're coming, too," John said at the same time that Radek protested, "What about you, Rodney?"

"I'll be right behind you!" the physicist snapped.

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Eureka

Nathan looked at the equipment cobbled together on Henry's lab bench, his thoughts racing. Henry was right; there was no way that this... whatever it was... should have been able to teleport something the size of a human. Frankly, he didn't think it should work at all.

And that meant only one thing.

Carl Carlson's experiments on cellular regeneration shouldn't have worked, either. Exotic particles emitted by the Artifact had endowed first the experiment, then the man himself, with properties unexplainable by current science. Nathan knew that if he were to bring a scanner down here now, he would find the same particles.

"What the hell is it?" Nathan wondered, not for the first time. There was no question in his mind that the Artifact was extraterrestrial, but beyond that, he didn't have a clue.

Henry was obviously waiting for him to say something about his matter-transporter. "Um, well, it's certainly unique-looking."

Henry laughed. "Yeah, it looks like a piece of junk. But let me show it to you in action."

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Atlantis

John was about to bodily haul Rodney out of the lab. Radek had signaled that he was ready to establish a containment field around the entire area, and although John didn't want to wager on its chances of holding back a catastrophic explosion, it would hopefully work on anything short of that. The lab obviously needed to be empty first, so...

"Don't even say it!" Rodney snapped before John could do more than open his mouth.

John glared back. "We don't have time for you to screw around any more! We've got to get clear." He took one step towards his friend, then froze as a bolt of electricity arced out of the device. As the colonel watched in horror, it struck Rodney on his left arm and the physicist dropped like a stone.

"Rodney!" John moved to catch McKay, but Ford and Teyla were closer. Together they caught the physicist and eased him gently to the ground.

"Oh, man," Ford whispered as he got a good look at the burn on Rodney's arm. Even from where John was standing, it looked bad. From wrist to elbow, the flesh was blackened, and blood was starting to ooze from half a dozen places in the skin. Mercifully, Rodney appeared to be in shock; the pain hadn't seemed to have hit him yet.

John frantically stabbed at his earpiece. "Carson, get back here! Rodney's been hurt."

A heavy sigh came over the radio, followed by the physician's usual steady tones. "On my way. Can you tell me what I should be ready for?"

As John relayed details about Rodney's injury, the hairs on the back of his neck began to stand on end. Looking over, he saw that Teyla's hair was similarly affected. Something was building up in the machine, and he really didn't want to be around to see what happened.

Next to him, from where he was crouched under a lab bench, the dog whined in agreement.

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Eureka

For a minute, nobody in the room moved. Everyone was staring at the place where, up until a moment ago, LoJack had been standing. A sudden power surge had led to a blinding flash of light, and when it subsided, LoJack was gone.

Jack found his voice first. "Oh my God," he yelped. "You disintegrated the dog!"

"Good riddance," Nathan muttered, and Allison promptly smacked him. "Ow!" He gave her a wounded look.

"What the hell?" Henry was staring at his lab bench in horror. Like most of the people in town, he liked the furry mutt. "It's never done anything like that before!"

"Not even with Spencer?" Jack asked.

"Especially not with Spencer. We never would have continued the project."

"First things first," Allison said. "Can we at least make sure it's turned off now?"

Henry nodded and pointed to one of the dials on the machine. "There's no power flowing through the control circuit now. But just to be on the safe side, I'll disconnect the..."

Without warning, the device powered up for the final time. Jack instinctively moved to knock Allison out of the way as an energy bolt shot across the room, but he was too slow. The beam hit both of them, then deflected off at an angle to strike Nathan, too.

Henry was temporarily blinded by the flash. When his vision cleared, he was relieved for a moment to see three people still standing in front of him. But his relief was short-lived as he realized that the woman and two men were complete strangers. To make matters worse, one of the men had an horrific-looking burn on his left arm.

And finally, to put the icing on the cake, the matter transmission device exploded in a shower of sparks.

TBC