I woke to a feeling of warmth.
I was lying in a high bed and the bright light from a window was falling onto my left hand, gently warming my fingers. I lay still for a while, listening to the symphony that filled the air around me.
"Good morning." A pleasant, lilting voice attracted my attention and I looked round to see a white-coated man entering the room. He walked over to my bed and peered at me intently.
I smiled back and waited patiently for him to speak again. After a few moments he gave a heavy sigh. "Okay, I'm just gonna ask you a few questions. Now, do you know who you are?" He leaned forward slightly and raised his eyebrows.
When I shook my head he looked disappointed.
"Okay, can you tell me anything that you remember happening before you woke up today?" He muttered something that sounded like a plea, closing his eyes briefly. I didn't want to disappoint him again and thought carefully about the question, but I could remember nothing beyond waking up earlier; nothing prior to the warmth on my hand, and again had to shake my head.
"Ach, Rodney. What are we gonna do wi'you?" He ran his fingers through his hair and smiled at me sadly.
I had no answer yet felt the need to say something to ease his sadness. "I'm sorry, Carson, but it's all a blank."
He froze and gave me a piercing look. "What was that you said, Rodney?", he asked, sharply.
His sudden change in tone confused me; I could see nothing wrong with what I'd just said.
He must have seen my confusion and placed a reassuring hand on my arm. "You called me 'Carson'," he explained, an expression of surprise on his face. "You remembered my name."
I smiled warily back at him, still unsure of what I had done that he found so astonishing. When I looked at him I knew that he was called Carson, but that was all; I had no memory of him other than the name.
He gave me a calculating look then put a hand to his ear. "This is Beckett; can you come down to the infirmary, please, Colonel?" He paused and seemed to be listening to something. "Aye, Colonel," he continued with a smile, "I think it might be." He began to raise his hand again then halted and continued speaking to the unseen Colonel. "Is anyone with you?" Another pause, "Excellent; can you ask him to come as well, please? Thanks."
While Carson was talking, I tried to remember. He'd used the name 'Colonel', and it seemed familiar to me. I searched my mind for a face to match, but could find nothing. Closing my eyes tightly, I concentrated on the name, and suddenly I visualised a dark-haired man dressed in black, lounging in a chair. I fought to remember something more, anything besides just a name and a face.
I heard a drawling voice from deep within my memory, announcing that they had found what looked like an Ancient library. I pushed harder at the memory, but it ended there.
I lay, eyes closed, for several minutes struggling against the emptiness of my mind. My frustration was starting to mount when I felt a hand gently touch my arm. I opened my eyes and Carson nodded towards the door.
Two men were standing in the doorway, the taller one I immediately recognised as the Colonel.
"Gentlemen," Carson called over to them, "Rodney here remembered my name." Both men turned surprised faces in my direction as Carson continued. "I'd like to see if he knows either of yours."
The taller man crossed the room to me and raised an eyebrow. "Well, Rodney?", he asked expectantly.
I sat up in the bed and looked back at him. A memory rose to the surface of my mind and I knew that, although I frequently called him 'Colonel', that was not his name. "Sheppard", I said, and was rewarded with a broad, lopsided smile.
I turned my attention to the shorter man. He was also familiar, but his name eluded me, and finally I had to shake my head. "I'm sorry;" I said, "I can't remember your name."
Sheppard grinned, although I could see nothing amusing about my remark. The smaller man looked up at the ceiling and sighed before turning an unreadable face towards me.
"Please, let us not go through all that again."
The cadence of his voice stirred something and a name finally swam into my mind. "Radek."
Sheppard put a hand on my shoulder. "Well done, Rodney." He sounded pleased, but there was an undertone of sarcasm that I didn't quite understand and I frowned in frustration. I wanted to snap something back at him, something scathing, and I didn't have the words.
The Colonel gave me a hard look, his grin widening as he saw my irritated expression. His hand tightened slightly on my shoulder and he turned to face Carson. "It's okay, Doc. It looks like we're going to get him back."
Two days later, Sheppard, Zelenka and I were in the Ancient library. It was very much as I remembered it, except for the open access panel beneath the Repository interface. Radek walked towards the column without breaking step and I immediately put out my hand to stop him.
"It's alright, Rodney. We have turned off the power to Repository." Zelenka flashed me a quick smile.
Damn it. From his patient tone I knew that he had told me that already, possibly several times.
As far as I could tell, my long-term memory was back to normal, but my short-term memory was still shot, and it seemed to be random what particular information would stick. In Hermiod's considered opinion this would be a 'temporary impairment', although Carson had said that the last seven days would probably remain as a permanent gap.
I realised that Radek was looking at me expectantly. We had obviously come here for a reason, and I damn well wasn't about to admit that I had no idea what it was.
Sheppard's voice broke the silence and he gestured somewhat impatiently towards the open panel. "Well, Radek, show us the control crystal."
Oh, great. Sheppard was covering for me. I suppose I should have been grateful that at least there would be one thing I was never going to be allowed to forget.
"Yes, sorry, of course, Colonel." Zelenka dropped to his knees in front of the access panel and pulled one of the crystals, handing it up to me with an apologetic look. "We have ascertained that this controls the two-way element to the interface." I scowled at the crystal, avoiding Zelenka's eyes, until he rose to his feet and continued his explanation. "When you access the database, it automatically determines the information required and downloads only that."
Ha, I knew that there had to be a way to control the download.
"The Repository itself appears to be designed as short-term solution to a situation. It supplies relevant information and skills, which last for a maximum of a few days before…" Radek held up his hands, flicking open his fingers in a gesture of dissipation.
So, I was never in any real danger of dying. I wasn't sure whether I felt relieved or slightly embarrassed. Whichever it was, it distracted me and it took a moment before I realised that Zelenka was still talking, apparently in answer to a question from Sheppard.
"Ah, no, General O'Neill's situation was somewhat different, Colonel." Radek peered over his glasses at the crystal in my hand. "From reports it would seem that the first time that the General came into contact with one of these Repositories, he was hoping to find out as much information as possible about the people who made it, and that is exactly what it gave him. The second time he used the interface, he expected it to download everything, so, again, it did."
"Why didn't that happen to Rodney?" Sheppard asked with a slight frown in my direction.
I'd been wondering the same thing myself. I must have directed the transfer somehow but my memory of the few minutes before I accessed the Repository was as blank as that of the week that followed. I'd almost certainly been trying to figure out exactly how the interface worked, and I had a hazy recollection of a tune that had been stuck in my head, but how, or even if, the Repository could possibly have interpreted that as an instruction I had no idea.
"I don't know, Colonel, but he is lucky that it did not," Zelenka answered Sheppard in a solemn tone, "That much information would have been enough to overload anyone's brain."
"You mean that the Ancients didn't build in a failsafe?" Sheppard's question came a split second before I could respond to Radek's pointed remark and I had to content myself with glaring at them both in annoyance.
Zelenka shrugged. "Maybe they did, and it simply does not work for a human mind. The Repositories were designed by Ancients to be used by Ancients, and, despite what some may think," he glanced over in my direction, "they were different from us." He shrugged again, "Or maybe their brains had the capacity to cope with that much information. I do not know, but it is not something that I would recommend experimenting with."
Zelenka's last sentence was aimed squarely at me. It was an accident. I was sure I'd told them that. How had I suddenly got this reputation for suicidal recklessness? Although, it wouldn't actually be suicidal, and, after seeing the amazing new code that I'd apparently written, the advantages possibly outweighed the risks.
"Okay, Rodney, what did you ask it to download?" Sheppard's question pulled me abruptly back from my thoughts.
I wasn't prepared to admit to guesswork and a vague feeling, so it was my turn to shrug. "I honestly don't know what I was thinking about when I accessed it."
Sheppard snapped his fingers as if he'd got the answer. "Food." He stated dryly, pointing at me, "My money's on food."
I gave him a contemptuous scowl. "And how exactly would me thinking about food result in the Repository downloading… whatever it did?"
He grinned back and folded his arms, "Beats me."
A stifled snort of amusement from Zelenka earned the man an irritated glare.
This was getting us nowhere. I tapped the control crystal against my palm and considered my options. If I could speak to Elizabeth before Sheppard and Zelenka did, I might be able to persuade her of the benefits of allowing me to research the Repository. Not that I'd actually make use of the interface of course, but if I could access the information some other way…
I found myself whistling a passage by Bach as I walked with Radek and the Colonel back towards the control room. I suddenly realised that it had been over twenty years since I'd last played that piece but my fingers unaccountably itched for a piano keyboard.
It was strange, I hadn't really thought about my music for years, but since using the interface it had been increasingly on my mind and I realised that I missed it; I wanted it back in my life. It was the only other residual effect that I'd noticed, and, unlike the trouble with my memory, I welcomed it.