Episode I: Genesis

She was angry, very, very angry and for once in her life she didn't try to hide it. No, for once in her relatively short lifespan she chose to forgo her military training, her special operative instincts that forbade her from showing strong emotions and her common sense and go stomping down the corridors of the SGC like a mad woman bent on global destruction. SF's and other SGC personnel dove out of her path as she rounded the final corner distancing her from her destination and entered Dr. Daniel Jackson's lab.

Daniel had been cataloguing the latest batch of scrolls from their last mission when a military issue manila folder was slammed forcefully down on his keyboard followed by Kate's irate voice, which made the startled archeologist jump about a foot into the air and look around wildly until his bespectacled eyes made contact with her stormy grey ones.

"I'm being reassigned," she hissed in obvious outrage as she began to pace back and forth, shaking with upset at the sudden change to her perfectly structured lifestyle to which she had grown wonderfully accustomed. "Away from the SGC."

Despite the uncomfortable feeling of loss that began to build in the pit of his stomach as soon as his many times ascended and therefore slightly superior brain was able to latch onto the news that Kate would be leaving both SG-1 and the SGC, Daniel nonetheless peered ponderously at the manila cardstock as if afraid that it might explode before thumbing open the folder and quickly reading through the first few lines or so. "Atlantis," he looked up, his face displaying both curiousness and slight jealousy. "Why are they sending you there?"

"Fuck if I know," Kate screamed as she stopped her pacing and just stood, arms crossed over her chest, fuming at the injustice that had been directed towards her. "Something to do with an increased number of wraith attacks or something like that. Sounds to me like they just need to get their shit together and stop letting their marines walk into obvious traps."

"Who's walking into a trap and why is it obvious?" Mitchell asked as he walked into his archeologist's lab and looked at his two teammates, back and forth once before settling his eyes on the prettier of the two. "Kate, you have the whole damn base on high alert; Dr. Malcolm says you came tearing through here like a pregnant woman in search of ice cream," the leader of SG-1 had to duck the stapler that came soaring over his head at the rather sexist comment. "His words not mine," he amended and saw her put the rubber band ball, her next weapon of choice, back onto Daniel's desk.

Daniel peered around the incensed Kate to look at Mitchell, amused at the fact that after three years the man had yet to realize that Kate needed very little reason to throw things at him. "How many kids to they have now?" he asked, inquiring after the doctor whose wife had been almost constantly pregnant for the past four years.

"Five I think," Mitchell replied and then nodded as he quickly counted off their names in his head. "Yeah five. Doctors say this one's gonna be a boy which means he'll be the last. Wanted a boy on the first go, got four daughters instead. Man that kid is in for one hell of a ride, can you imagine having four older sisters when you -"

"Gotten a bit off topic there Cam," Kate chided him, snorting and shaking her head at the same time. Some women just did not do the female sex any good.

Mitchell shrugged and started playing with the stapler which he had retrieved from the floor. "Yes well, it happens to the best of us so…why were you storming around here like an angry rhinoceros?"

Kate sulked and Daniel took the initiative to answer for her. "She's getting reassigned."

Mitchell's face took on a look like he'd been slapped and he dropped the aforementioned stapler. "What?" he demanded, snatching up the folder that Daniel had been glancing over. Scanning the page he gave off an indignant snort of disappointment. "Atlantis, they're sending you to Atlantis?" he scanned farther. "Increased number of wraith attacks on off world expedition personnel requires immediate attention….what the fuck is this bullshit? Is Woolsey letting his marines walk into traps again because I thought Sam had a talk with him about that."

"Funny," Daniel took a sip from his ever present coffee cup as he marveled over the often observed phenomenon that was the fact that Kate and Cam seemed to share a brain, "That's more or less what she said."

"Great minds," Kate repeated as she always did whenever she and Cam unintentionally mirrored each other in statement or opinion. "I mean, what exactly do they want me to do? I'll most likely end up babysitting one of the teams of marines who are always getting captured. It fucking sucks."

"Yeah, just a little," Mitchell agreed and then sighed. "Says here that the President is sending more than one of you; Twelve and Ninety-One. What the hell does Atlantis have going on that it needs three NC's?"

Kate hopped up on one of Daniel's workbenches - one that was not covered in various documents covered in Ancient script or various other dead or half forgotten languages - and looked over both her commanding officer and the only person in the SGC that the Ancients (who, ever since the incident with the Ori and the Arc of Truth, occasionally popped in and out of their lives without any warning whatsoever) actually talked to. "They aren't going to keep us all," Kate sighed. "Sam said in the brief that Atlantis was gonna put us into a whole bunch of simulations to see which one of us worked out best and then send the others home."

Daniel coughed into his coffee. "Who's idea was that?"

"Woolsey's probably; sounds like something he'd do," Mitchell complained before leaning against the door so that he could look at Kate. "Well you know, you do have the second strongest ATA gene on record and you are way too smart for your own good."

Kate glowered at him. "You're not helping Cameron."

"He has a point Kate which might explain why the President insisted that you go," Daniel supplied as kindly as he could. "I mean, how many other marines actually know how a hyper drive works?"

Kate pouted. "They're not that complicated," she mumbled.

Mitchell snorted. "Says she who has a degree in applied technology."

She glared at him. "Thank you Cameron, you have helped oh so much; words cannot describe."

Mitchell smirked. "You're welcome."

Kate scowled. "I don't suppose I have a say in this?" she looked at her teammates for support and, at the twin looks of lament on their faces, she sighed. "Didn't think so."

"Yeah well it happens to all of us," Mitchell began. "You get all settled into a place, figure out where all the best coffee shops are, and they move you again. This is still the United States military and even a genetically altered, technically you don't exist, super soldier such as yourself has to follow the rules," he looked her up and down and amended his statement. "Most of them."

Kate nodded, suddenly tired. "Yeah," she said after a while before getting down from the worktable and heading towards the exit. "Listen guys, thanks for listening to me rant but I have to go pack."

"We'll miss you Kate," Daniel said sincerely as she walked past him and stopped in front of Mitchell.

"Hey listen," he started and Kate suddenly knew how much she was going to miss him, "I'll talk to Carter and see if she can't let me, you, Daniel and Vala out early today. You know, so we can take you out one last time before you go to another galaxy."

Kate smiled. "I'd like that. Thanks Cam, I'm gonna miss you guys."

"So will we," He replied as he watched her walk down the hall towards her on base quarters. "So will we."

~xXx~

The city of Atlantis, Earth's research base in the Pegasus Galaxy, was in an uproar. Two days ago they had received a communiqué from General O'Neill of Homeworld Security telling them to expect the arrival of some new base personnel that was supposedly going to help them with their current influx of wraith related problems. The news had spread quickly and by noon the next day everyone was talking about the idiocy of the people in charge and how in the world these new people were supposed to tip the scales in their favor. When the command staff found out that, actually, they were only getting three people so that they could test them and then pick one of them to stay, Colonel Sheppard and Major Lorne had had to break up a fair number of fights involving pissed off base personnel that wanted to skewer whoever it was that had come up with the moronic idea that one person was going to make any sort of difference at all.

However much as the average base solider was ticked off about the idea of the SGC responding to their pleas for better backup by agreeing to give them one person, the people in charge - Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne, Ronon and Teyla - were ready and willing to accept anything they could get whether it be one person or a hundred.

The only senior staff member that didn't agree with their logic was Rodney and his argument did not honestly surprise any of the others who were all for it.

"One person is not going to make a difference," Rodney argued for what had to be the hundredth time since they'd gotten the news. "It's pointless and frankly insulting that the SGC can't even bother to send us proper back up."

"The wraith have been hammering at our back door since we brought the city back a year ago," John countered. He, his team, Lorne and Woolsey were currently in the gate room, preparing to meet the new personnel as soon as they were beamed down. "Personally I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth."

"We need help," Ronon grunted form besides Sheppard. "The wraith are kicking our ass."

"Yes well, that just means that we have to try harder," McKay insisted stubbornly, sure as always that he and only he was right. "Again, one person isn't going to be able to do anything that we haven't already tried or done. It's just a waste of time in my opinion."

"Maybe they're just that damned good," John suggested. "You never know McKay, we might be getting a super soldier or something."

"A super soldier? What are you, twelve?" McKay demanded, his usual condescending voice slightly higher in volume and octave then it normally was. He shook his head. "No, more than likely they're sending us some hotshot young scientist that thinks they're smarter than me. Like anything they can come up with is something I haven't tried already."

"Nobody's smarter then you Rodney," John said darkly as though he were stating a fact, that while true, was something that he abhorred. "'Cept maybe Todd."

McKay sniffed. "Yes, well he doesn't count."

Ronon shifted, tired of standing still. "Why not?"

McKay gave him a withering look. "Because he's like ten thousand years older than me genius; that's one hell of a head start. Besides, since when did we start counting wraith?"

John shrugged. "Well, we have gotten kinda friendly with him in the past year."

"Oh please," McKay dismissed the statement with a wave of his hand. "Just because we've worked with him about a dozen times and he hasn't tried to kill us yet since he took over the Daedalus doesn't mean we count him. He's still a wraith."

"He's got a point," Ronon observed. While it was true that Todd the wraith had become more of a steady ally in the past year then he had been in recent ones it didn't mean that the former runner liked or trusted him any more. It just meant that there was a slightly longer period of hesitation between the time he pointed his gun at him and the time he shot him.

"I always have a point," McKay began dramatically. "And I'm usually -"

"Right, we know McKay," John deadpanned. "Look, let's just drop the subject until they get here alright. After we see what we're getting then we can argue about it, until then; shut up."

"Fine," the scientist sniffed as an air of anticipation fell over the gate room and Woolsey turned expectantly toward the above control room as the estimated time for the Daedalus' arrival arrived.

"Daedalus is in orbit, Sir," Technician Banks informed Woolsey, relaying the communication between the ship's bridge and the city. "They're ready to beam now."

"Tell Colonel Caldwell he has a go," Woolsey replied and turned his head back towards the gate just in time to catch the three beams solidify into three perfectly motionless individuals.

John raised an eyebrow. The three soldiers - and there was no doubt in his mind that they were soldiers and not scientists as Rodney had expected - were about the three most intimidating individuals that he'd ever seen in his life. They were all standing perfectly still and ramrod straight packing about five guns each along with various knifes and those things that the SGC called zats, looking very much like something out of a science fiction novel involving galactic domination. Two males and a female stood erectly before the gate dressed in suits that reminded the colonel of the soldiers out of the 2009 G.I. Joe movie; just standing this close to them, John had to fight the urge not to step back and put some distance between he and they.

"Looks like you might get your super soldier after all," Lorne commented as he came to stand directly besides his commanding officer. His eyes swiveling over the three new arrivals once more, Major Evan Lorne couldn't help the sense of dread that fell over him, drenching him in cold sweat. They all looked like they could kill him on the spot and without so much as blinking. He didn't like being this close to them.

"Looks that way," John said slowly as his eyes traveled over their perfect form and the sheer dangerousness that all three of them exuded. The leader, the guy standing in front of the other two, was probably the biggest man in terms of muscle that John had ever seen reminding him of professional wrestlers back on Earth. The other guy was just slightly smaller than the leader and a bit shorter while the girl reminded him of some chick out of a DC comic. All together, the three of them had to be the most threatening bunch of people John Sheppard had ever seen.

Lorne leaned in closer to his commanding officer. "Is is just me, or do you get the impression that they're not quite human?"

John turned towards him. "What do you mean?"

Lorne shrugged. "Well, just look at them," the both of them turned and glanced once over the three new arrivals, "They look downright menacing. Like characters out of a comic or something, especially the girl."

John nodded, letting his attention drift back to the only female of the group. "Yeah," he agreed, "Witchblade comes to mind."

Both the colonel and the major fell silent as Woolsey stepped forwards and positioned himself in front of the three new arrivals. Folding his hands behind his back in a show that was supposed to be intimidating, the balding director failed miserably in the presence of the three persons in front of him. "Welcome to Atlantis," he said with as much bravo as he could muster given the circumstance.

Behind him, Lorne, John, Ronon and the marines standing guard all snickered.

The leader nodded, accepting his greeting before making a militarized hand gesture that was registered by the other two and acknowledged wordlessly. As one, in perfect synchronicity, the three soldiers reached up and removed their helmets, securing them to their sides level with their hips before all falling into perfect, motionless parade rest.

"Whoa," Ronon grunted, impressed.

John could only nod.

The leader took one step forwards, saluting Woolsey as he went. "NC26 Special Operative Soldiers Ninety-One, Twelve and Seventy-Four reporting as ordered to Atlantis base, Sir."

Woolsey blinked, clearly he'd not been prepared for this. John decided to save him.

Stepping forwards, he stepped up besides Woolsey and leveled his eyes with the much taller leader whom he was guessing was Ninety-One as he'd been introduced first. "At ease," he commanded, the leader lowered his salute and returned to parade rest.

Woolsey turned to him. "They're all yours Colonel."

John nodded and looked at each of them in turn, noting the scars on the face of the leader, the intense kill-you-if-you-move-too-fast expression on the other guy and then on to the startling storm grey eyes of the woman. John felt his heart slam to a stop, the blood in his veins running cold. It wasn't possible, his eyes blinked and he swallowed his disbelief as his gaze remained fixed on the girl. Recognition pounded through his veins as his eyes drank in her youthful and familiar face, set harder then stone. He hadn't seen her in almost four years and he'd never have thought that he'd see her here, now, wearing an aura of such calm and controlled danger that there was no doubt in his mind that she could kill him before he could ever raise a hand to defend himself.

Her eyes flashed to his and held for the briefest of seconds and in that minute span of time John caught the barest flicker of surprise reflect itself in her stormy depths that had he not known her he would not have seen. The glance lasted for a hair's breadth of a second before his second in command's voice came drifting to his ears, drawing his attention away from her and back to the real world.

Pulling his eyes from her face, John squared his shoulders and forced a mask of opaque blankness onto his face; as if nothing whatsoever was out of the ordinary. Sending up a prayer to whatever God SG-1 hadn't killed off yet, John opened his mouth and began his address. "My name is Colonel Sheppard," he began and then realized how lame that actually sounded, "And for those who haven't figured it out yet, I'm the commanding officer of this base," he signaled Lorne. "This is Major Evan Lorne my second in command. At ease and welcome to Atlantis, enjoy your stay."

The corners of Kate's mouth twitched upwards at the colonel's dry wit and the surprise that had flared upon first making eye contact with him came rushing back although she did her best to hide it. Truth be told she was proud of him, proud to see him here and proud to see him in a command position when everybody they ever knew had always said that he'd never amount to anything. It was perfectly clear to her that the bespectacled and balding Mr. Woolsey had little or no real power here in the lost city and was nothing more than a figure head; the real command lay in the hands of Colonel John Sheppard. She was proud of him for that as well and, maybe, before she left she'd be able to find the time to tell him that.

While Kate had been contemplating John and the command structure of Atlantis, Woolsey had started speaking again. She hadn't paid any attention to what he'd said until she heard Ninety-One interrupt him. Then her attention turned away from John and back onto the situation at hand, a grin spreading over her face as she watched Ninety-One prepare to dress down the annoying man that was, regrettably, in charge of Atlantis.

"With all due respect Sir," Ninety-One was saying, "Your doctors wouldn't know what to give or not give us. I suggest you read our medical files before you go sticking needles into us."

Woolsey glared at him. "IOA protocol states -"

The leader of the three imported NC's glared at the man as if silently daring him to keep talking. "With all due respect Mr. Woolsey, IOA protocol was invented for the treatment of normal human subjects. We, and the other members of the NC26 project, do not fall under that blanket of jurisdiction."

Woolsey wilted. "But…"

Ninety-One continued, eager to get the man to shut up - he reminded him of Kinsey. "When you and your team have made a decision regarding which one of us is to remain here as a permanent expedition member then and only then will a qualified NC26 doctor transmit all necessary files for that individual solider to your infirmary to be held until such a time as the solider is reassigned or is terminated."

Woolsey gulped; amazed at how easily these people seemed to steal any and all control from a situation and assert themselves into a position of command; and two of them hadn't even opened their mouths. "Very well, then…if you will please follow Major Lorne he will get you settled into your temporary quarters."

Last in line, Kate once again briefly caught the gaze of one John Sheppard as she passed him and this time she allowed her head to tilt just slightly downwards in a minuscule sign of acknowledgement. She didn't wait for the action to be returned before she shifted her eyes away and forced her face back into blank obscurity.

~xXx~

Because Colonel Sheppard was busy more or less doing Mr. Woolsey's job - the man was an idiot who was barely good for anything other than making simple things complicated and sighing requisition orders - Major Lorne was put in charge of overseeing the testing of the three NC26 soldiers. The layout of the tests was fairly simple, all constructed out of basic military trials designed to test for things like marksmanship, combat skill, weapons training and comprehension, physical ability and endurance.

It took fifteen minutes for Lorne to figure out that he didn't have anything to worry about in the physical fitness category.

The first test was an obstacle course that he and his marines had set up out on the south pier. The goal was to get through it as fast as you could and without making any mistakes like having to take two jumps before you could get over the high wall. The course record had been set by Ronon over three years ago when he completed the course perfectly in under three minutes; the slowest time recorded for one of the NC's - the one called Twelve - was one minute ten seconds.

Lorne had been absolutely floored and so had the marines and other base personnel that had wandered out onto the pier to watch the show. It ended up being a short show.

The next test was marksmanship and he, the three NC's and a growing gaggle of Atlantis personnel headed inside to the shooting range that had been permanently erected in a large room that they thought had once been a public hall of some kind down on the ground floor of the city near the south pier. A variety of weapons were assembled - anything from your standard sidearm to a semi-automatic M-16 - and part of the test included taking the gun apart and putting it back together correctly and in the shortest amount of time possible. Again, all three of them moved faster than anything Lorne had ever seen before in his life and, after each one of them had completed the reassembly portion of the exam, Lorne was sure they were more than human.

The actual firing portion of the test began shortly after Lorne had had to be shaken out of his dazed state by one of the observing botanists. Head clear, Lorne called them up to the lane one by one, the leader going first. All their shots hit the target, in fact all of their shots hit the target in the head; the girl's ten shots all hit the exact same place so that her target only had one hole in his head, directly between the eyes. It was then and there that Lorne was clued into the fact that the two males weren't really trying and didn't really want to be there. The woman, Seventy-Four, she for some reason was more motivated then the other two and was actually doing her upmost best.

Her upmost best was scary.

"How do you know that all of the bullets went through the same hole?" lieutenant Stevens, one of Lorne's team members, asked; looking over his CO's shoulder as Lorne examined the target.

Lorne turned and held up the paper man for his second to see. "The hole's wider than this one," he held up Ninety-One's target, "indicating that more than one bullet passed through the same hole."

Stevens stared. "How'd she do it?" he asked, flabbergasted. "Nobody's that good."

Lorne looked at him. "Todd is. Remember when Colonel Sheppard insisted that he learn how to fire our weapons last year?" he held up Seventy-Four's target. "Hers is the same as his."

Still mentally numb, Stevens just stared at the target which Lorne thrust at him as he called the three NC's over to him and told them that they were all going to the gym.

Once there, they were told that they'd be running through your average military PT test. They'd looked at each other, all exchanging little smirks as if to say 'piece of cake' before dropping down to the mat for pushups. Lorne called a halt to the whole thing after all three of them, in unison, did a hundred and eighty-six perfect pushups in quick succession without breaking a sweat. Continuing would have been pointless.

Ordering them to all take a quick break, Lorne went to go get Ronon so that he could see how well they handled themselves in hand-to-hand combat situations and what their skill levels were. He figured that they'd be pretty high but he had to check and he knew that Ronon had been jumping at the bit to fight one of them since one of the marines had informed him that they'd all beaten his obstacle course score.

"Hey Ronon," he called, poking his head into the rec room and waving for the man currently playing video games with one of the guys from engineering to come over.

Ronon came. "What?"

Lorne eyed him. "Hand-to-hand is up next. You wanna be the one they wail on?"

The Setedan crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow, leaning against the door jamb. "I'm not the one who's gonna get beat on," he said confidently.

Lorne smirked. "Well, you can show them that. Coming?"

Ronon nodded and followed the major back to the gym. When they got there, the three NC's were waiting for them, standing rigidly and assertively off to one side. The gym was packed, Lorne noted, looking around at how many people had come to see this particular test. Turning towards Ronon, Lorne gave him a nod and then called Twelve up first.

The dark skinned NC let Ronon circle him twice before making the first move. The fight was surprisingly long, lasting twenty minutes before Ronon got a few good punches in and landed Twelve flat on his back. Again, Lorne got the impression that the guy wasn't really trying all that hard and was just sort of putting on a show although for whose benefit the major hadn't yet figured out. Still, even without trying, the man lasted longer against Ronon then anyone else ever had before.

Ninety-One was up next and he lasted longer but still wasn't really trying although nobody but Lorne picked up on it. The men were good actors, Lorne had to give them that; they both made sure Ronon thought that he'd won fair and square, giving the Pegasus native no indication that had they both really have tried he'd have been out cold in about five minutes.

When it was Seventy-Four's turn, Lorne held his breath. Form the moment she stepped into the ring, he knew that this fight was different. Like her other tests, this NC was actually trying and trying hard. She wanted to be here and Lorne wanted to know why although he figured that it'd be a long time before she ever told him if she told him at all. Somehow, she and the other two NC's didn't strike him as the share-your-feelings type. They were a lot like the colonel on that score.

Watching Ronon and Seventy-Four circle each other, Lorne's eyes narrowed as he took in how tensely her body was wound; like a spring ready to snap. And when it did, it was something he'd never forget. Ronon had lunged first and the girl had ducked under his swing easily, pivoting as soon as she was behind him and slamming the palm of her left hand into Ronon's chest. The large former runner had literally flew away from her. Dazed and disoriented, Ronon had come at her again only to have each and every one of his blows blocked before she'd once again ducked under his arm only this time she hit him from behind, right between the shoulder blades, with her elbow. Ronon keeled forwards and she crouched, kicking his feet out from under him. He turned over only to immediately have her plant her foot on his sternum and press down. After three seconds of trying to get out from under her, Ronon gave up and simply lay there and glared at her.

On the sidelines, the entire gym was as silent as a tomb. Lorne ended it.

"Stand down," he called, stepping over to the two combatants and looking between them. "The win goes to Seventy-Four."

The woman stepped back, holding her hand out to help Ronon up only he didn't take it; not that Lorne thought he would've. No, instead he got up on his own and came at her again exactly like the major had suspected he might. It was over quickly. One punch to the face and not only was the runner's nose broken but he was out cold. Lorne stared at her.

Seventy-Four shrugged. "Self defense," she said tonelessly before turning on her heal and going over to join her peers.

Lorne decided that he better quit while he was ahead. "Alright," he called, the whispering and the mutterings coming to a halt and all eyes focusing on him. "I think we've seen enough now. The only thing left to do is a practical field test which will be announced later. Dismissed."

The three NC's walked stiffly past him on their way to he assumed the mess hall while Lorne himself called first a medical team to the gym and then went in search of colonel Sheppard.

~xXx~

Paperwork, John hated paperwork. Groaning, the commanding military officer of Atlantis gave up on re-filing and organizing his mission reports and crew evaluations and put his elbows on his desk, lowering his head into his hands and took a deep breath. A day, the NC's had only been here a day - not even - and they were already driving him crazy even though he had taken special care to avoid them. He'd even come up with some bullshit reason why Lorne needed to be the one to administer their aptitude tests. He's said he was busy, had things to do which he did, but none of them were so important that he couldn't have put them off so that he could do his damned job and test the three new arrivals to see which one they were going to keep.

Truth was, and John hated to admit it, he was scared. Scared and intimidated of not what they could do but what she could do. He'd known that she was in the military, known what branch even, but never in his wildest dreams had he figured she'd be doing stuff like this. Underneath all his miscellaneous non-important paperwork was Kate's file and, knowing that putting it off any longer would drive him completely bonkers, he dug it out and opened it up.

He let out a shallow breath.

Spread out in front of him was the military record of the one person he'd almost given up the chance to come to Atlantis for. His flip of a coin all those years ago had seemed like a good idea at the time but now, now he wondered that if he'd stuck around maybe he'd have had some kind of heads up on the sort of thing she'd been into. Government contracting jobs, a fancy way of saying assassinations, were plastered across her file left, right and sideways. There were lists, lists of places she'd been and the dates she'd been there making it easy for him to go back over his own memory of which political leaders or activists had suddenly kicked it around those exact times. It wasn't a stretch to figure out why and in the wake of this revelation John knew that everything he'd thought he'd known about her had been a lie; a cover that she'd used to hide this human weapon that she'd been turned into.

Along with the lists were other startling bits of information. Her medical records for one, the number of times she'd been shot made bile rise in the back of his throat. Just thinking about her in that sort of situation made him sick; knowing that he hadn't been there to protect her when he'd promised her that he always would be made him physically ill.

"Colonel."

John looked up, some of the color returning to his face when he saw who it was. "Major Lorne," he greeted, sighing and lifting a hand. "Come in."

The major entered his commanding officer's office and sat down across from him on the other side of his desk which was covered in papers and folders of Lorne didn't know what.

John looked at him. "So, what can I do for you?"

Lorne sighed. "I'm looking for the file on the girl, Seventy-Four, but I can't find it, I was wondering if maybe -"

John held the folder up. "I had it?" he finished for his second.

Lorne nodded. "Yeah; guess I should've looked here first."

Slowly, John leaned back in his chair after passing off the folder to Lorne. "So, major," he began, giving the man a once over, "What'd you want her file for?"

"To look at," Lorne said honestly, flipping it open; his eyes widening as they landed on her NC service record. "She's an assassin."

"She was an assassin," John corrected, sitting forwards and pointing to the spot on the page where it said that she had been honorably discharged from the NC26 program and transferred to the SGC. "O'Neill requested her specifically for the SGC, her and six others. She got pulled off of SG-1 in order to be here."

Lorne looked up, frowning. "She was on SG-1?"

John nodded. "Yep."

Contemplating this turn of events, Lorne put the folder down on the edge of the colonel's paper laden desk and looked up. "Sir, she's trying," he said cryptically and then waited for his CO to ask him what he meant.

He didn't have to wait long.

"What do you mean?" John asked, confused.

Lorne sighed. "The other two, Twelve and Ninety-One, it's clear that they don't want to be here. They're just going through the motions of actually giving a damn but they're not really giving it their all."

"And she is?" John asked, now very interested and regretting more than ever skiving off his responsibility and giving it to Lorne.

The major nodded. "Yeah," he looked up. "Remember when you made the wraith take the marksman test? How Todd did?"

John nodded slowly wondering what this had to do with anything but willing to go along with it for now. "All ten rounds hit the exact same place on the target, directly over the heart."

Lorne continued. "Well Seventy-Four's test went the same way only her one hole was directly between the target's eyes. Perfect kill shot; the other two's were nearly that perfect but not."

John stared at him. He remembered thinking, after reeling Todd's target in, that no human could ever beat that. Apparently he'd been wrong. "Anything else?" he asked Lorne, now insanely curious as to how her other tests had gone.

"Her obstacle course time was fifty-six seconds, the time it took her to take apart an M-16 carbine and put it all back together was half that and in hand-to-hand she knocked Ronon out cold," Lorne looked up at his commander. "She's the best of the three Sir; tried the hardest too."

John's mouth fell open. "She knocked Ronon out cold?" he asked, shocked. "Seriously?"

Lorne nodded. "She beat him fair and square only he didn't take it so well. Instead of accepting her hand to help him up, Ronon rushed her. She punched him and the next thing I know he's on the mat again with his eyes closed and blood pouring out of his nose."

John sat heavily back in his chair. "Whoa."

"Whoa is right," Lorne shook his head. "I just wish I knew why she's trying so hard when the other two don't give a damn."

'I have a theory', John thought to himself as he continued to stare blankly at his desk. Shaking himself from his thoughts he looked up at Lorne. "So, he started off softly, "We thinking that she's the one we want to keep?"

Lorne nodded. "Yeah, it's looking that way."

John agreed. "Well, we've still got the field test but, if she's like you say, she'll do good on that too."

"You could always have her with you, sir," Lorne reminded him even though he knew that the colonel hadn't planned on using his team to field test any of the NC's. "That way you could see for yourself what she's capable of; make an informed decision instead of just taking my word for it."

John smirked and eyed his second in command. "There some reason why I shouldn't take you at your word major?"

Lorne grinned and shook his head good-naturedly. "No Sir, it's just that this is a pretty big decision and it might help to have more than one pair of eyes on it. Woolsey's useless, Ronon's gonna hate her when he wakes up, Teyla's too polite to judge anyone and Rodney's not gonna care unless she can speak geek."

"She can, apparently," John said offhandedly, reopening her file and flipping through to the education section. "Says here that the military paid for her to go back to school as soon as she got reassigned to the SGC. She's got a degree in applied computer technology. Record says it took her a couple months to get on the account of the NC26 program already teaching her so much about computers and such. Says that besides being a hit man for our government against people they don't like, she's also a fair espionage artist."

"And since espionage is all about information and who has it," Lorne summarized. "And all of our information nowadays is backed up on some encrypted hard drive somewhere…"

"She's good with computers," John concluded. "She and Rodney might actually get along; understand each other."

Lorne let out a breath. "Yep, we could use her."

John agreed. "Fine," he said suddenly, Lorne looking up at him, "I'll tell Woolsey that based on her test scores I wanna test her myself out in the field. Think he'll buy that?"

Lorne shrugged. "Don't give him a choice," he told his commanding officer. "You never do."

John grinned. "Not really, no," he looked to Lorne. "So, we good?"

Lorne stood and nodded. "Yeah. The tests are over for now, all we've got left are the field tests. I stopped the PT test early; figured anyone that could do a hundred plus pushups on a dime and without breaking a sweat's gotta be in good shape."

Silently, John had to agree. "Thanks major," he dismissed Lorne casually, the major saluting him once before vacating his office and leaving him alone to think.

~xXx~

"You wanna be here."

Kate looked up from her totally tasteless meal and eyed the person addressing her. "Yeah," she shrugged. "So?"

"So last week when we got the news that we'd be coming here you were singing a different tune," Twelve reminded her. "What changed? See someone here you like?"

Kate scowled at him. "It's none of your damned business."

Ninety-One leaned forwards. "Maybe not," he informed her. "But if you really wanna be the one to stay it might help us make you look better if you tell us why you want it so much."

Kate eyed him. "You'd do that?" she looked between the two men sitting across from her at their shadowy little table in the farthest corner of the mess hall. "Fuck up, for me?"

Twelve shrugged. "Why not? You obviously want to stay. Seems to me like it'd be the right thing to do to see that you do."

Ninety-One sat back and crossed his arms. "But only if you tell us why it's so important to you."

Kate sighed, knowing that if she really wanted this then she'd have to give up some information. "It's John," she informed the two of them.

Twelve raised an eyebrow. "Colonel Sheppard? That's why you wanna stay? Wow, Kate I never figured you for such a gir-"

"Shut up now if you want to keep all your teeth," Kate threatened him, turning her eyes back to her plate of not-quite eatable food as soon as she knew he'd complied. "It's not like that."

Ninety-One and Twelve looked at each other. "Then what is it like?" the former asked.

Kate took a deep breath. "Nothing, just…" she looked at them. "Remember in basic, before any of us actually made it into the program, they asked us why we wanted to be a part of black ops?" They both nodded and Kate continued. "John was my reason; I wanted to be like him."

They both stared at her.

"He's your…" Twelve trailed off, recollection serving him well as he remembered the first time Kate had ever shared with him her reason for signing up for the black ops unit that had gotten her drafted into the NC26 program.

Kate nodded. "Yeah."

Twelve whistled. "And that's why you wanna stay? You wanna be with him."

Again, Kate nodded. "Been my dream since I joined."

The men looked at each other. "We'll make sure you get it then," Ninety-One promised her, reaching across the table to touch her hand briefly before sitting back and forcing himself to eat his food.

Kate and Twelve did the same.

~xXx~

On the other side of the mess hall, at their usual table, Rodney, Teyla and Jennifer sat watching the new comers.

"Maybe they'll just go away," Rodney said hopefully, taking a bite out of his food and looking around the table.

His girlfriend shook her head. "Not a chance," Jennifer informed them all. "Lorne and Sheppard are happy to have them and if what the guys that watched their tests are to be believed we could really use them."

Teyla nodded. "Yes, I heard that they are formidable warriors."

Rodney snorted. "Oh please," he scoffed. "They're not anything special. They're just -"

"Hey," Ronon greeted his friends, interrupting McKay and sitting down at an empty spot at their usual haunt.

Jennifer stared at him. "Oh my God," she said, her eyes roaming over his face, his now crocked nose and the many other bruises on his upper arms and neck. "What happened to you?"

Ronon grunted angrily. "The girl knocked me out."

Rodney spit out his food. "The girl did what?" he demanded, twisting to his left so that he could see the woman in question, Seventy-Four, who was sitting innocently at her table and not eating anything. He looked back at Ronon. "Seriously?"

The big man nodded. "The other two put up a decent fight but she must have something they don't got because she kicked my ass backwards," he glared. "She broke my nose and knocked me unconscious with one punch."

The entire table stared at him. Teyla spoke first.

"Perhaps, in light of this, it is not so hard to believe that one of them might be able to help us," she said gently.

Rodney remained adamant. "So what if she can beat him?" he threw out. "So can Todd and you don't see us asking him to come join our merry band of men do you?"

Jennifer sent him a plaintive look. "Rodney," she questioned. "Maybe -"

"Hey did you guys hear?"

The conversation stopped and they all looked up to see Major Martin standing at the end of their table.

"Hear what?" Teyla asked, curious.

Martin smirked. "I was down at the range when Lorne was testing the NC's," he jerked his thumb over them before turning back to the table. "It was incredible. The girl, Seventy-Four, all of her rounds hit the exact same spot - like Todd's did when Sheppard made him train on our guns."

Rodney dropped his fork. "What?" he squeaked, now utterly flabbergasted.

Martin nodded. "Yeah and she completed the obstacle course in fifty-six seconds flat," he looked around at them all. "Just thought you might like to know."

"Thanks," Ronon grunted, annoyed.

Martin looked down at him. "Oh, that's right; I heard she knocked you out cold. How's your nose?"

Ronon refused to answer and instead sat back in his chair and crossed his arms angrily.

Martin sighed. "Right," he said lamely, turning to go. "Well, just thought you'd like an update. Lorne's in Sheppard's office right now talking about the girl. I think she'll be the one we keep if anything."

To that, Ronon did have a response. "Not a chance in hell," he ground out hotly. "She's worthless."

Martin frowned. "She beat you didn't she?"

The Setedan snarled.

"Fine," Martin backed away. "Later," and he was gone.

Teyla turned to Ronon. "It is alright that you lost, Ronon," she tried to comfort him. "It does not mean -"

"She cheated, okay," Ronon turned to her. "She had to. There's no other way that that little girl could be stronger than those other two."

Rodney, as usual, had no tact. "Maybe they weren't really trying." Ronon rounded on him angrily and the scientist backtracked. "Or maybe she cheated."

Satisfied, Ronon grabbed an apple off of McKay's plate and got up; walking out of the mess hall but not without passing the table full of NC's and glaring daggers at the woman.

Back at the table, everyone shook their heads. "He's upset," Jennifer commented softly, nibbling on her food while she considered what they'd learned about their visitors.

Teyla nodded. "Most likely his pride has been damaged quite a bit," she explained, also taking small bites of her food while her mind wandered. "I believe Rodney may have been correct; perhaps the others are simply not trying with the same aptitude that the woman is."

Rodney swallowed. "Yeah, but why?" he looked around. "Why does she want to stay here so bad and they don't? It doesn't make any sense."

Jennifer agreed. "No, no it doesn't."

"Mayhap we will learn," Teyla offered, turning to look at the strangers, contemplating each of them in turn.

Rodney snorted. "Well I hope we learn fast because if we do keep her Sheppard's gonna have one hell of a time getting Ronon to accept the fact that the other two let him win."

Around the table, the two women nodded.

"She's a mystery," Jennifer observed, her eyes locked onto the jet haired woman. "An interesting one."

Teyla and Rodney agreed.

~xXx~

It was midnight in Atlantis and John couldn't sleep so, armed with a map and two packets of Oreo's, the colonel padded carefully down the hallways until he reached the door behind which Kate has been stashed; careful not to be seen. Even though he and Lorne had already reached a decision regarding who they wanted to keep or not, John had been pulled out of bed at this ungodly hour because of the need to actually speak to her, face to face, before he just made the decision that would change her life. Swallowing his nervousness, he raised his hand, pressed the chime and then waited.

When no answer came John did something that McKay would never let him live down if he'd been there to see it; he overrode the door controls. Stepping into the small quest quarters John immediately saw Kate laid out on her back on the narrow bed. She'd fallen asleep reading, as she'd often done when she'd been younger, and John couldn't help the smile that crossed his face as he closed the door behind him and made his way over to her beside. Sitting down in a chair opposite her, he sat back just to watch her sleep.

"Does McKay know you can override the door controls?" Kate asked as she slowly opened her eyes and gazed at the man sitting in front of her.

John grinned. "No."

"Doesn't know you have a degree in engineering and applied computer programming?" she raised herself to her elbow and quirked one elegant black eyebrow.

"No," John replied evenly as he opened the first pack of Oreo's and twisted apart the two halves. Looking down at them, he handed Kate the one with the least amount of frosting.

Kate took the offered treat and smiled at it as it sat in her hand. "Still know how I like to eat these?" she teased him and finally sat up, crossing her legs and looking him in the eye

"Always, Katie Beth," John replied as he ate his half and she did the same. "So, you're a super soldier," he shook his head. "You always said your clearance was higher than mine."

Kate smiled sadly at him. "I wanted to tell you, probably could have if I'd known you were stationed here. Was a bit surprised to see you the day I got here."

John snorted. "Yeah I know the feeling. I damn near had a heart attack when I saw your face," he grinned at her, "You know you're too gorgeous for your own good right? Ninety percent of the guys around here already have crushes on you. Course, they're scared to death of you but still."

Kate grinned. "It's the principal of the thing, yeah I know. You've told me before," she gave the man a coy look. "And don't you think you're a little bit biased John?"

John looked hurt. "That's not the point," she gave him a look, "Okay, maybe it is the point. I think your gorgeous and I think that half the guys around here would be crazy not to at least make a stab at asking you out," he gave her a compelling look.

Kate nodded. "Better."

They lapsed into silence for a while in which John continued to pull apart cookies and feed her the halves that had the least amount of creamy goodness. When the cookies were gone, John knew that he needed to get to the point of why he'd come here before realizing that it really didn't matter; not right now.

"You know, I came here ready to ask you a whole bunch of questions and everything but I guess now I only got one," he looked up at her and waited a bit before he continued, "Do you want to stay here, Katie?"

Kate closed her eyes briefly before opening them into the plain and naked face of the man before her. His emotions were clear and so she allowed hers to be as well, dropping her mask and mirroring his affection for her with love of her own. She realized that not once in the past fifteen years of her life had she ever given him an explanation of why she'd done what she'd done, why she'd made the choices that she did. Now, sitting across from him in the dark of her room in a city in another galaxy with nothing but the light of the stars by which to see his face, she knew she was long due in owning him one.

"All I've ever wanted, John, was to be like you," she began and smiled at the slight upturn that the corners of his mouth took at her confession. "I joined the military because I wanted to be like you and now I'm being given the opportunity to stay here and work with you," she paused and offered him the most since smile that she could. "Yes, John I want to stay."

"You're better than me," John said, knowing that in no way would she believe him, "You have no idea how desperately I want you to stay but I have to ask, have to know that you're not going to be leaving anything behind that you're gonna miss."

"I'll always miss my old team, John," Kate admitted and saw his face fall, "They were the first ones to take me for what I am, for what I was made and accept it without asking any questions and without passing judgment."

John sighed. "Yeah, guess that didn't happen here."

"No," Kate agreed, "But to me, the fact that you're here more than makes up for the glares I get from everybody else. You're here and that's all that matters to me so no, there's nobody back home that I'm gonna miss as much as I'd miss not being here with you."

John smiled, truly and actually smiled as he flashed his teeth to the darkened room. "Glad to hear it, Katie," he looked up at her, remembering the tray incident. "I can call you that right, when we're alone and nobody can hear?"

"Yes John," Kate gave her head a small nod.

"Right," John muttered before he scooted to the edge of his chair and reached out a hand to gently cup her face, turn her head towards him. "You know I love you right?"

"You always have," Kate replied as she grasped his hand tightly in her own after it fell from her cheek. "And you always will. I've missed you John."

"I've missed you too, Katie Beth," John sighed, completely happy for the first time in a long time. "I've missed you too."

~xXx~

The gate room the following morning after John had gone a-visiting in the wee hours of the morning was a flurry of activity as three separate teams and three NC26 soldiers, one assigned to each team, prepared to go to three separate planets on a training mission that was designed to give the illusion that they hadn't already decided which NC was going to be staying.

Kate, John knew, had approached her fellow NC's and told them up front that both he and Lorne had already more or less selected her. Surprisingly neither of the two of them seemed upset about not being given the proper chance to stay. In fact, John had been standing very close by and had been rather surprised to hear both men tell Kate that they thought she belonged here and that they were both happy for her. The matter settled, at least on an unofficial scale, John cringed at the fact that he and Lorne had more or less rigged this whole exercise to paint Kate in enough positive light to guarantee that Woolsey chose her.

Sidling up to the Major in the organized chaos that was the gate room, John whispered. "You check out the planet that they're sending us to?"

Covertly Lorne nodded back. "Wraith research facility. Don't know what it is only that it's been around long enough to be in the archives."

John nodded. "And Woolsey?"

"Thinks the planet is uninhabited, all I put in the preliminary report was that there is supposedly some Ancient technology rumored to be left behind," Lorne explained quietly as he made a show of fastening his gun to his tac vest.

"And my team?" John asked glancing over towards them to see Rodney, Teyla and Ronon glaring at Kate who was looking at him as if to say 'I know what you're doing'. John shuttered, it was the same look his mother used to give him when he'd try to lie to her about where he'd been at two o'clock in the morning on a school night.

Lorne looked around before answering, content that no one thought anything of both the commanding officer and the second in command of the base talking quietly to each other. "Clueless."

"Good," John muttered before stepping away from the Major as the first address was dialed and Taldy's team along with Twelve went through the gate.

"Good luck Sir," Lorne called as he went to stand with his team and Ninety-One as the gate was disconnected and then redialed to their training location.

"It's a training mission Major," John dismissed as he backtracked towards the only reaming team waiting for departure.

"You say that now," Lorne smirked as he stepped through the event horizon and the gate was shut down for their re-dial.

"You know," McKay said as the chevrons began to light up in preparation of their departure, "He has a point. Stuff always seems to happen to us."

"Funny how everything dramatic always happens to the lead team," Kate commented as she gave John a piercing look, "Almost like somebody had planned it all."

John had to keep himself from shifting nervously as he led the way through the gate, stopping on the other side to wait for his team.

"How would you know?" McKay demanded of the woman, he thought he remembered someone calling her Kate, as he came out of the wormhole besides her.

Kate shrugged. "Gee I don't know," she said scathingly, "It might have something to do with the fact that I've been on SG-1 for the past three years. Between me, Daniel, Cam and Vala - and on occasion Ba'al - we attracted more trouble than a girl scout selling cookies in front of Wal-Mart."

McKay's mouth dropped open and John smiled as he waited for the question he knew was coming.

"You were on SG-1?" McKay demanded, half in surprise half in incredulous awe.

Kate looked at him as she came to stand next to John looking back at the people she'd have to win over if she had any hope of staying in Atlantis. "Yep," she looked at John, "Which way oh fearless leader?"

John raised an eyebrow. "Fearless leader?"

Kate grinned. "Didn't you ever watch Ice Age? You remind me of the Dodo's."

McKay laughed. "Ha! He does. You're almost always leading us off a cliff or something."

Teyla, too grinned whilst Ronon screwed his face up in thought.

"Are you talking about that movie with the birds and the melon?" the Setedan asked after a few moments and was rewarded with a smile and a nod from the girl.

"Yeah," Kate voiced her approval as they began their trek away from the gate.

John, on the other hand, was the only one that didn't seem to find her alliteration humorous. "You're not allowed to make fun of me yet," he scowled her, "That is a privilege you only get after we decide if we're going to keep you or not."

Kate looked at him. "Okey-dokey Jonathan."

John glared at her at the same time as his team broke into wide, shit eating grins; he hated to be called Jonathan. "Hey," he called out, "That was low."

"She got you Sheppard," Ronon rumbled, amused and slightly surprised that the girl had a sense of humor, not what you'd expect from a trained weapon.

"Who's side are you on?" John demanded, secretly pleased that Ronon had just rose to her defense. He'd thought that after she'd knocked him out he wouldn't have given her the time of day.

"Well that's debate-" McKay started before a energy blast cut him off and the scientist ducked, "Ah crap," he moaned as the five of them became surrounded by drones, "Wraith."

"Happens every time," John said as he put his gun down and held up his hands.

"So it would seem," Kate replied as she again got the feeling that John didn't look nearly as surprised as he should considering that this was supposed to be an uninhabited planet.

"Drop your weapons," a voice called to Kate's left and she turned just as the masked wraith whom she assumed were the drones parted allowing for a tall, pale, longhaired, leather trench coat clad male to come forwards. Kate couldn't help but compare the male to some sort of alien vampire in that he looked dark, creepy and yet strangely compelling all at the same time. 'Must be a commander,' she thought to herself as she continued to study him. He carried himself purposely and with an air of superiority that transcended arrogance and replaced it on a whole new, as of yet, unexplored level. Kate narrowed her eyes and concentrated on his gait as well as the aura that seemed to surround him that drenched the creature in overpowering darkness. He was a predator of that Kate was sure and, much like herself, his body while lithe was almost assuredly nothing but the finest toned muscle capable of great strength and speed should the need arise for it.

"Hi," John called in sarcastic greeting as the commander came to a stop a few feet in front of them, "Seems to be a mistake here, we were just passing through and-"

"Silence human!" the commander spat with malevolence for the lesser creature's impudence. He tilted his head to the side as he studied them, recognizing four of the five as the troublesome Atlantians the presence of the Setedan proclaiming them to be Sheppard and his team.

"You know," John said, unable to keep his dry humor in the face of imminent danger from spilling forth, "Unlike you guys we actually have names, it's much nicer than just calling us 'human'."

The wraith snarled and Kate, whom was nearest the now overly annoyed alien male, got a good look at two rows of very sharp, very pointed teeth and she had to wonder why John would bother baiting him when the creature could so obviously do them a great amount of damage with little or no effort. A quick mental reminder that this was John had her realizing that the man just couldn't help it. It was as much his nature to be contrary as it was hers.

"Be silent," the commander commanded as he motioned for the drones to begin herding them toward the entrance to the wraith lab, "You are Colonel Sheppard of Atlantis are you not?" he demanded of the black-haired male.

"Hey look I'm famous," John said in a voice of mock pleasure.

The wraith growled, not at all pleased with this particular human's attempt at humor. Humans, he had learned, did not truly know the meaning of the word and their feeble attempts at it were tiresome at best. "That is a yes," he said as he had once again looked over the male to ascertain that his conclusion as to his identity was in fact correct, "My Queen will reward me for bringing her such as you."

"Didn't know I was so valuable," John muttered as he was pulled away from the rest of his team by a small group of drones before the commander came to stand beside him.

"Yesss," the wraith hissed as he looked over his prize and thought of what rewards his Queen would give him for the human whom was wanted dead by every wraith in the galaxy. "Take the others to a holding cell,: he commanded the drones before turning to grin menacingly at Sheppard, "You are coming with me."

John gulped but did not allow his trepidation to show as he realized that his and Lorne's grand scheme had really been a bad, bad misguided idea.

~xXx~

"This is bad," McKay ranted for the fifth time or so as he paced the cell into which they had been thrown unceremoniously not ten minutes previously, "This is very, very -"

"Bad, yes we understand," Kate snapped at the rambling scientist, "Shut up."

"Well you're the super soldier, do something about it," McKay fussed, "I mean…" he trailed off at the look of pure malice that Kate flashed him, "Right, I'll just be over here," the physicist retreated to the farthest corner of the cell.

"Thank you," Kate sighed and stepped up to the bar-like grid that blocked their cell from the corridor. Examination had yielded that the opening control was on the opposite wall and unless they found something to throw that could precisely pierce the bio-mechanical release for their cell, someone would have to release them. Since that was unlikely Kate began to limber up her arms and legs for the uncomfortable procedure that she was about to execute.

Stepping up to the grid-like barrier she found the largest opening and proceeded to stick her head and one shoulder through the hole.

"That won't work," Ronon grunted, amazed at the girl's stupidity.

Kate said nothing, refusing to acknowledge the missive as she brought her other arm up and cracked it once, popping her shoulder out of its socket so that she could squeeze it through the hole. A twist and another pop this one from her hip and she was through, standing on the other side of the barrier looking smugly back at the now slack jawed Setedan, the wide eyed Teyla and the sputtering, indignant McKay.

"Nice trick," Ronon managed after Kate had hit the trigger release for the door and they were able to join her in the ever present mist filled hallway.

"Yes," Teyla said as she carefully regarded the woman in front of her, "Very impressive. I have never seen anyone do such a thing."

Kate shrugged. "One of many tricks I've learned," she said trying at sounding modest when really it had been downright painful but necessary nonetheless.

"Well what now?" McKay asked, weary of just standing around in the middle of the mist covered hallway where any passing wraith could see them and sound an alarm.

"Ronon and Teyla are gonna go find John," Kate supplied the plan, not really caring if anyone liked it or not, "You and I," she rounded on McKay, "Are going to go find out what this place is."

"What?" McKay demanded, frowning, "Why?"

Kate sighed. "Because if there are this many wraith guarding this one facility it's my guess that there is something of importance here and what is important to the wraith -"

"Is valuable to us," McKay concluded, "Alright, fine lets go."

Teyla and Ronon nodded their luck to Kate and Rodney before taking off in the direction in which the throne room might be in while an unhappy McKay followed Kate around a corner and down a dark corridor.

"Are you sure you know where you're going?" McKay demanded as he followed Kate along, glancing worriedly down at his hand held and wondering when she'd gotten so good at maneuvering around a base that she'd never been to before.

Kate didn't answer and instead pulled them both into a shadowy alcove. "Shhh," she commanded and placed a hand over McKay's mouth as a precaution because she really didn't trust the scientist not to ask 'why?'.

McKay started as her gloved hand covered his mouth and his eyes widened in anger before his ears picked up in the marching footsteps of an approaching patrol. Curiously, McKay wondered how she'd known before remembering that she had super hearing. The footsteps passed and her hand dropped away from his face as she cautiously stepped out into the hallways and looked around.

Once she was sure that there were no other patrols coming, Kate waved McKay into place behind her and continued their search for a terminal of some kind from which to extract information. They found one two corridors over off to the left in a small room that looked like and reminded Kate of Sam's lab back at the SGC.

"Here," she whispered to the following scientist as she ducked inside and took immediate position by the door while McKay took out his portable tablet and began to plug and unplug wires into the wraith styled computer. "Got anything yet?" she asked as she heard the muted beeps coming from his handheld which told her he'd found something.

"This doesn't make any sense," McKay muttered in confusion as he read the jumbled mass of glyphs which he supposed were numbers as he began the program that would translate the wraith script into Ancient which was more readable.

Kate glanced over her shoulder and instantly noted that the physicist looked more than slightly confused. She sighed, while continuing to keep a vigil would be best Kate recognized the dire need to find out what secrets this base had and why it was of such importance to the wraith. With a groan in place of curse because nothing was ever simple, Kate reached her hand into a small alcove besides the door and pulled one of many organic wires. The door to the small room closed and she moved to stand behind McKay, peering over his shoulder to read the screen.

"What is that?" asked the soldier as McKay continued to tap at his screen in growing frustration.

McKay grunted. "It's math, weird complicated math. It's all calculations but they don't seem to go anywhere," he glared down at his unyielding screen, "It's just a bunch of numbers clumped together."

Kate narrowed her eyes and searched for a pattern as she highly doubted that the information they were viewing was exactly what McKay said it was. "Give me that," she demanded impatiently as she snatched the tablet from him the moment the numbers began to make sense.

McKay sniffed. "What the hell do you think you are doing?" he demanded as he watched her minimize the data screen and open DOS where she promptly began imputing variables and lines of code that, he realized, were the beginnings of a conversion program like the one they used to automatically translate Ancient script into English for the computers back on base.

"You were right," Kate muttered as he continued to input lines of code into the tablet that would, when completed, allow them to actually read what was being displayed.

"I'm always right," McKay said automatically as she handed him back the tablet and he looked down, "Wait, what did you do?"

Kate snorted in muted amusement. "These are calculations, but they aren't looping. I see the pattern."

McKay was confused which actually happened a fair bit more often then he let on. "Huh?" he questioned as he continued to stare down at the tablet and the lines of writing that now made a hell of a lot more sense even if they were still complicated as all hell, "Then why can't I understand them?"

"Because they were using base twelve math instead of base ten," Kate explained to him as she pointed to the tablet and then to the terminal with the original data stream still displayed on its organic interface, "I just wrote a program that will translate the base twelve into base two, which the tablet will read and then automatically transpose into -"

"Base 10," for the first time in his life McKay was actually impressed with someone else's work, "How did you know that? I have trouble getting most of my science team to comprehend normal math let alone another base form!"

Kate gave him a smug smile as she handed his tablet back to him. "Military paid for me to get a degree in applied computer technology when I got re-stationed at the SGC," she paused and took a good look at his stupefied face, committing it to memory, "That and I have a background in espionage which nowadays is almost all about computers; I'm good at what I do."

"Apparently so," the scientist answered both to her declaration and to the now perfectly readable calculations and conversations that he was reading, "Whatever these calculations are for they're for something way bigger than anything I've ever seen before. The compounds are way complex, I've never seen anything like this."

Kate leaned over him, frowning as she recognized something that she had not noticed before when she had simply been trying to make the numbers understandable. "I have," she said grimly as her eyes scanned the myriad of numbers and unsolved x-es, "These are the calculations for ZPM construction."

McKay's heart did a back flip in joy before plummeting to his toes in absolute horror and dread. "What!?" he exclaimed, terrified "But if the wraith learn how to make ZedPM's -"

"Then we lose every technological advantage we have," Kate concluded as she again took the tablet from him, this time his numb fingers relinquished it willingly, her eyes scanning the equations with both appreciation and contempt, "A year ago me and my team back at the SGC stumbled across a lab where the Ancients first created ZPM's. These are almost the exact calculations as those we found still up on the drawing board at the ancient facility."

A ray of hope broke through the dark clouds above McKay's head. "Almost?"

Kate nodded as she scrolled down the page. "The power projection is different, just slightly less then what an actual ZPM puts out. In order to power a ZPM, a converter had to be able to draw energy from subspace which - according to these equations - the wraith can't access, so-"

McKay snapped his fingers as he caught on in true McKay fashion. "So they would have to find another source from which to draw energy."

"Exactly," Kate replied and tilted the tablet so that he could see it better, completely forgetting that this was supposed to be the side of McKay that nobody liked, pleased that somebody could actually understand what she was saying, "Look at these. The calculations aren't completed yet but from what I can figure they were going to substitute an artificial subspace window with the outgoing energy of an active wormhole and then looping the whole thing back it it's source."

McKay's eyes lit up with the possibilities of what could be achieved if these equations were actually completed and then field tested. "Incredible," he muttered and then looked back towards Kate to see that she apparently thought so too, "If this works they'll have an efficient, long lasting power source that is indefinitely rechargeable."

"Yes," Kate said grimly before suddenly thinking of something, "And if they can to it, so can we," she finished and then handed the tablet back to McKay, "Is there any way you can convert the tablet to a mass storage device so that we can download all of this," she waved at the waist high wraith terminal and then to his tiny handheld computer, "into that?"

McKay nodded as he took the device and begin inputting code as she had done not moments before only his programming was way more complicated. "Yeah," he told her, his tongue sticking out from between his teeth in concentration, "Just give me a minute to get everything set up and there," he completed the program and handed her the tablet proudly.

Kate grinned at him. "Good, now put that tablet somewhere safe while I set a charge so we can blow this place up as soon as we get clear," she moved around the scientist and proceeded to place a large block of C4 into the base of the terminal in a place where it could not easily be seen and then removed. Jerry rigging the timer so that it detonated only when she pushed the button she made sure she had said kill switch in a safe place before grabbing McKay by the vest and dragging him forwards.

"Come on lets go," she commanded and then reached into the previously decimated cavity that contained the door release, mashing the destroyed wires together she was able to succeed in opening the door. Slipping through, she trusted McKay to follow. Six steps down the hallways they ran into a very pissed off, if slightly surprised to see them, wraith.

"Crap," McKay squeaked as he stumbled to raise his gun. He had never been so good with the whole 'keep your gun ready at all times thing' and he was thinking at that exact moment that he should maybe listen to Sheppard a bit more.

Kate didn't hesitate but took one step forwards, leery of the blaster that the wraith was about to raise as she reached out her hands and with a quick twist of her hand on either side of his head, snapped his neck. The body hit the ground and disappeared beneath the almost knee high sea of mist. Turning, she grabbed the shocked looking scientist and proceeded down the hall at an increased pace of rapid movement.

They paused in an alcove not far from their original starting position near the brig. Turning to Rodney, Kate pulled out a life signs detector and turned it on. "Here," she handed it to him, "I need you to find Ronon and Teyla. Don't get caught and stay out of sight as much as possible, use the shadows they hide movement."

McKay looked at her. "What are you going to do?"

Kate checked the corridor. "I'm going after the queen; if I can kill her then maybe it'll create enough of a ruckus that we can all get out of here alive."

McKay nodded and then swallowed. "Okay."

Kate smiled reassuringly at him. "You'll do fine Rodney," she assured him and saw him calm down considerably at her usage of his name, "I have every faith in you."

"Yeah," McKay breathed deeply before taking a deep breath and blowing it out. He stayed silent as Kate slipped off and watched as she disappeared around the corner like a, well, like a wraith. She moved like a damned shadow and McKay suddenly knew that if she was really as strong and powerful as she was intelligent then Atlantis really couldn't afford to choose anyone but her. Praying that Sheppard would also see her value if they ever got out of this; McKay took another breath, checked the dots on the life signs detector, and started off down the hallway.

~xXx~

Outside the throne room, Teyla and Ronon remained crouched down behind a particularly large growth that happened to be growing out of the floor. Teyla, who had the most knowledge of wraith, had never actually understood why there were stumps such as this throughout a hive but then she had never thought to ask any of the wraith with whom Atlantis occasionally worked with. In other words, she didn't think Todd would even answer.

"So are we gonna get Sheppard or what?" Ronon asked and all thoughts of strange growths fled her mind as she glanced over at her companion.

"I believe we should wait for the others as per Kate's instruction," Teyla said gently, "If we do not then there is no guarantee that we will all escape together."

Ronon shrugged. "So?" he asked, "All I care about it you, Sheppard and McKay. Let her get out on her own."

Teyla's eyes narrowed at his callousness. "Kate is responsible for freeing us from the cell and if not for her then we would most likely still be trapped there."

"McKay would have thought of something," Ronon dismissed her acceptance of the girl, not willing to trust her yet despite the fact that Teyla was right.

Teyla sighed. "You do not know that, Ronon," she shook her head, "You may not like or trust her but I do. There is no mistake that she is a formidable warrior else she would not have been able to so expertly free herself through the barrier."

Ronon glared at her. "So far all I've seen is she's flexible and likes to give orders, that's all. And until I see something else I'm not gonna trust her now, let's go get Sheppard."

Knowing that she had just been out voiced, Teyla stood and crept silently besides Ronon as they neared the throne room. A few feet closer but still enough in the shadows to remain unseen and they could clearly see that John was being forced to kneel in the center of the room as the queen circled him. Teyla's eyes narrowed, this queen was dressed differently than the others in that she was wearing what almost looked like armor.

"She looks ready for battle," Teyla hissed aside to Ronon, "I do not understand, the queens do not fight but leave that to their commanders and drones."

"First time for everything," Ronon grunted as he reset his gun from stun to kill, "One three. One, two-"

"Teyla, Ronon what do you think you are doing?"

The Athosian and the Setedan both turned to find a slightly flustered and clearing unhappy McKay standing behind them holding a life signs detector and sporting a frown deep enough to curdle milk.

"Rodney?" Teyla asked as they were forced to backtrack into an alcove off the main corridor but still within sight of both Sheppard and the circling queen, "What are you doing here and where is Kate?"

McKay sniffed and ignored Teyla while he glared over at Ronon. "Kate told you to wait for us," he accused, "Which you clearly weren't going to do."

Ronon grunted. "Since when do you defend Kate? I thought you said she was too dangerous."

McKay shifted his weight to his other food and swallowed, about to do something that he didn't do often; admit he was wrong. "Yes well circumstances change and I was wrong."

Ronon's eyebrows shot up. "You were wrong?" he questioned in surprise.

Teyla, too, was slightly taken aback by Rodney's admission. "What has happened to make you withdraw your opinion Rodney?" she asked.

McKay looked at them and squared his shoulders. "She's smart okay, she was able to keep up with me in a conversation and she was able to tell when another base form of math was being used before I was. I mean, I would have figured it out eventually and I'm still smarter than her but she's not stupid -"

Ronon cut him off before his brain could explode. "Alright we get it, she's smart," he sighed, "So where is she?"

McKay frowned at being interrupted but explained anyways. "She's going after the queen," he told them, "Which I'm assuming means she'd in there somewhere waiting for the opportune moment."

Teyla looked at him and then glanced into the room. "I can see nothing."

"Well of course you can't the woman is a damned ghost," McKay admonished, "Watching her move is like watching a shadow."

"She's still not there," Ronon said as he too squinted into the room, "Look, we obviously can't count on her so we need a distraction for getting Sheppard."

McKay, who had kept his eyes fixed on the throne room smiled slightly as he saw Kate materialize as if out of nowhere and begin to slink up behind the queen soundlessly. "You mean like that?" he asked and pointed.

Ronon and Teyla turned, the former's mouth opening wide. "Where did she-"

"Shadow," McKay reminded him as the three of them settled down to watch the action unfold, two of the three with reserved opinions.

Inside the room, John's knees were getting cold as he continued to be forced to kneel. The queen above him, who was uglier than most queens he'd met, continued to circle him as she made repeated jabs at him with her mind. Having gone through this once or twice John was rather proud of how much mental ability he'd been able to learn and he was rather pleased with how long he'd been able to stave off her attempts to get him to talk thus far.

Even if the effort was costing him every ounce of control he had to keep it that way. A hiss from above him let him know that the Queen was growing tired of his resistance and that one of two things was about to happen. Either she was going to try verbally breaking him down or she was going to feed off of him and personally John figured that he should be expecting the latter.

"Tell me your purpose here, John Sheppard," the Queen demanded as she creased her prowling and stood threateningly over the kneeling human whom she had to admit, had managed to resist her longer then she would have thought possible.

John grimaced. "No purpose really," he said, telling her the truth even though he was fully aware that there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that she'd take his word for it, "We were just passing through before you all grabbed us."

The queen hissed once more in frustration before trailing a finger down the human's face and forcing him to look up at her. "Your mind is strong for a human. You have long been able to resist me."

John pretended embarrassment. "Aw, sucks you queens always say that."

The wraith queen snarled and slapped him, turning his head away from her with force. "Do not resist me!" she commanded with both her mind and her voice, willing her victim to do as he was told.

"Ouch," John said through gritted teeth as he looked up at the now incensed queen, "That hurt."

The queen growled, angry that she had allowed a human male to get the better of her. "I will show you the meaning of the word pain, John Sheppard," her voice echoed in its dark sincerity as she raised her feeding hand to draw his precious life from him, "There is no one to save you."

"Wanna bet?"

John's eyebrows shot up as he peered around the queen, who had turned, to see Kate standing there. He gulped and suddenly felt almost sorry for the queen as the look in her face was pure murder.

"You, female," the queen sneered, spitting like and angry helsa cat, "You think to challenge me?"

Kate smirked. "Yeah actually I do," she mocked and then ducked as the wraith made a swipe at her, "John, go now!"

While reluctant to leave her alone, John didn't need to be told twice and he scrambled backwards before promptly running into Ronon. "Hey buddy," he said as he continued to retreat before noticing that the large Pegasus native as staring fixedly at whatever was happening behind him. Deciding the hell with it, John turned back towards the throne room and felt his mouth go slack.

Kate had the queen in a headlock and was slowly bleeding the air from her lungs as the wraith grabbed frantically at her captor's arms. Eventually though the queen stilled and then fell limp, Kate releasing the body and standing over it looking down on what she had done.

"Whoa," Ronon muttered, completely at a loss for words until he saw a drone and another commander enter the room, "Kate!" he yelled, shocked at the level of concern in his voice.

Kate turned at the call of her name and promptly got hit with a blast of energy fire. Her body coiled in on itself in order to absorb the blast before she pulled her own gun, a lovely little handheld plasma X666 given to her by the ever enigmatic Ba'al, aimed and fired. One shot and she was looking at a dead drone with it's head blown off.

A hiss behind her let her know that she had yet more advisories to defeat before she could escape and so she pivoted left, narrowly avoiding a second wraith energy blast as she holstered her gun while simultaneously drawing a dagger form one of her many sheaths. Straightening she faced the wraith, a commander this time, took one step forwards and slashed. Black-red blood spurted outwards from the gash at the creature's neck as he grabbed for his throat.

"Holy shit," John exclaimed as a blood spattered Kate turned towards them.

"Colonel!" Teyla exclaimed and John turned just in time to see another commander striding towards them. None of them even had time to blink before an already bloody blade came sailing through the air, passing right between his and Ronon's heads, before embedding itself between the eyes of the no longer advancing wraith.

"Nice aim," Ronon granted as Kate came to join them in the hallway, having to admit that she apparently was worth something after all.

"Thanks," she muttered before turning and starting down the hallways towards the exit, "Let's go," she called, wishing very much for a bath as wraith blood apparently had the consistency of slightly watered syrup. The others followed mutely.

The rest of the escape was smooth sailing although Kate did get to kill another three wraith or so before they made it outside although Ronon helped (apparently he was unwilling to let her have all the fun). Moving quickly away from the gaping entrance of the facility Kate stopped some hundred meters away and pulled a box like controller from her belt and held it up.

"Remember the C4?" she asked McKay who nodded, grinning, as she smirked and pushed the button on the side of the remote. A loud boom followed by a slight tremble of the earth and the facility was nothing more than a crater.

Ronon smiled at her, his opinion of her decided and finalized after what he'd seen her do. He may not trust her completely yet, but he liked her enough to realize the value in keeping her. "Can we keep her?" he asked Sheppard, trying to ignore Teyla's smirk.

John, far from completely understanding Ronon's one eighty, grinned as they began to walk back towards the gate. "Well," he drawled, "I don't know…"

Ronon tried another tactic. "McKay says she's smart."

This time John really was flabbergasted. "He what!?" John demanded; Rodney never called anyone else smart except on occasion Todd.

McKay looked slightly miffed. "Why is it that nobody believes me capable of recognizing the intelligence of others?"

Teyla snorted lightly. "Because you are not."

"Am too, it just doesn't happen often," McKay defended himself loudly, "It's rare that I meet someone who, while still inferior to my genius intellect, can actually keep up with what I say."

Kate raised an eyebrow. "Really?" she questioned, "What about Sam?"

"General Carter?" McKay asked and, at Kate's nod, snorted, "Well I suppose that she's of moderate intelligence."

Kate gave him a look that told him she wanted to slap him. "Moderate?" she glanced over the scientist, "Someone really needs to pop your ego."

McKay gave her a quelling look while the others snorted in suppressed laugher. "There is nothing wrong with my ego."

"Other then it's as big as your head," Ronon supplied and tossed both Teyla and Sheppard a grin.

Kate sighed. "It's alright Rodney, it takes all types of fish to make a sea and I have the feeling that you keep things interesting if somewhat tedious."

Rodney looked at her. "You like me," he stated whole heartily surprised as he normally repulsed most people upon first meeting them.

"I can stand you," Kate replied and rolled her eyes, "There is a difference."

Ronon blinked and Teyla laughed. "Seriously," the Setedan asked his commanding officer, "Can we keep her?"

John had to laugh at the looks on his teammates faces as he started dialing the gate. Kate was just standing there giving him a shit eating grin that made him remember how she was when she was younger and both Ronon and Rodney were actually talking to her while Teyla listened. This was good, he decided as he led his team back through the gate, this was very good.

Atlantis was in an upheaval as Lorne and his marines along with the two non-missing NC's prepared to dial the address to which SAG-1 had traveled. When they hadn't returned from their training mission Woolsey had given them a curtsey hour before he'd started to panic. Now, three hours over due and the Atlantis leader was slightly the worse for wear as he nervously rung his hands.

He'd lost an NC26, never mind Colonel Sheppard and his team as they usually ended up skating by with only the skin of their teeth and turning up some days later. The IOA was going to have his head.

"Incoming wormhole," Banks called and Woolsey nearly choked on his tongue as he raced towards the gate with much more speed then was dignified or proper, "It's Colonel Sheppard's IDC."

"Lower the shield," Woolsey yelped, his voice cracking as the marines, Lorne and the two remaining NC's gathered around to await the arrival of the wayward team. Woolsey waited until Sheppard had stepped all the way through before demanding, "What happened!" slightly louder and with more urgency then he was used to projecting.

John smirked at the measure of worry on his commander's face and the knowledge that the unflappable Woolsey had just become quite thoroughly flapped. "You know that uninhabited planet? Not so uninhabited."

Woolsey cleared his throat as McKay and Ronon came through the gate. "Oh?"

John nodded vigorously. "Wraith, lots of them."

Woolsey looked the man over and come to the conclusion that he was relatively unscathed for someone who had just run into and presumably escaped from quote 'lots' of wraith. "How did you escape?"

The last of the team came through and John turned and looked at Kate. "She did it."

Woolsey's head turned and he promptly felt bile begin to rise in his throat at the sight of her. Her face was splattered with what looked like reddish tar. "What the -"

Kate grimaced. "Wraith blood," she informed the balding man and took a step forwards, grinning inwardly as his face paled farther, "Apparently it has the viscosity of syrup. Doesn't taste as great though."

Woolsey felt himself go green. "You," he gulped back bile, "Rescued everyone?"

Before Kate could reply McKay did it for her.

"She was amazing," McKay began to rave, "She popped out her shoulder so that she could get out of the cell and then she wrote this program to convert base twelve math into two into ten in like five minutes…" he paused for a breath and then stopped at the look on Woolsey's face, "Why does everyone seem to think me incapable of defending someone else's intelligence? She's smart okay, we should keep her."

Woolsey did choke this time. Coughing as he tried to fully comprehend what he'd just been told he wasn't the only one that had been knocked off their rocker by this one. "She's what?" Woolsey asked again, not sure he'd heard right the first go around.

"She's smart," McKay repeated accepting the fact that nobody was ever going to believe him the first time he said this not even Kate, "She can understand like half of what I say and follow along, it's great."

"Well I," Woolsey trailed off, "Seriously?"

"Yes she has a brain, what a concept," Twelve confirmed from behind him. Personally he and Ninety-One were rather enjoying watching Woolsey make a total baboon of himself, it was actually entertaining.

Lorne, on the other hand, stood off to the side as he imagined that from the way Sheppard was grinning the plan had worked. Maybe a little better then intended but still.

Head still reeling from information overload Woolsey turned to his commanding military officer. "I take it you have reached a decision on whom you would like to retain then?"

John nodded. "Yes."

Woolsey sighed. "Very well, I'll make the arrangements," he turned to Kate, "Welcome to Atlantis permanently, if you'll please follow Colonel Sheppard and his team, I think they can show you were the showers are."

Pleased with the results of this mutual conclusion Kate bowed her head and took leave, following closely behind John, Teyla, McKay and Ronon as they headed towards the infirmary.

"You guys go on, I'll take Kate to the showers," John called as he dropped back with her and let Ronon and Teyla carry on.

"Very well," Teyla replied, "We shall meet you in the recreational room yes? It is movie night remember."

John nodded and waved them on ahead before beginning a more languid pace besides Kate.

"So," Kate started, "That was fun, you do that often?"

John shrugged. "All the time," he stopped and turned to her, "Katie…"

Kate silenced him with a look. "I know you and Lorne planned that. Maybe not down to details but I know you rigged the mission so that something would go wrong."

John winced. "You're not mad are you?"

Kate shook her head. "No, it was actually pretty clever of you; I'm just wondering when you and Lorne made the decision that I was the one you wanted to keep."

"Lorne came to me after you knocked Ronon out, told me about it," he looked at her. "Said he thought you were actually trying while the other guys were just sort of going through the motions."

Kate snorted. "When the three of us got told that we were coming here not a one of us was happy about it," she glanced at him. "That changed the instant I saw you."

John grinned. "I feel special."

Kate smirked. "You should."

John pretended to look hurt. "Hey?" he demanded mockingly. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Kate sent him a one off shrug. "Well, you always were a bit slow," she teased.

He glared at her. "Oh, really fair you making fun of me," he scolded her as they came to the transport and stepped inside. "Besides, you can't do that anymore, I'm your commanding officer."

Kate rolled her eyes. "Yeah, about that, don't expect me to listen to you."

John snickered and let her step off first when they'd reached the appropriate floor. Turning a corner he called back to her. "Didn't figure that would've changed," he sighed and waited for her to catch up with him before beginning again seriously. "Kate," she stopped and looked up at him. "What are we going to tell them?"

She frowned. "About what?"

John took a deep breath. "About us."

Kate looked at the floor. "I don't know."

They started walking again, this time John stayed silent until they reached the shower rooms. "Seriously, Kate," he began again, catching her arm and halting her. Together they stood outside the doors to the locker rooms just looking at each other until one of them spoke; it was lucky for them that there was no one else in the corridor.

"What are we going to do?" John asked softly, gently. This was a very sensitive subject and he didn't want to make her uncomfortable.

Kate looked up at him. "Nobody knows," she whispered. "Well, Jack might in fact that might be why he wanted me here so badly and insisted to the President that I needed to come," she shook her head. "But nobody else."

John nodded. "Same here," he informed her and then frowned. "Actually, my team and Jennifer know that I have a brother but they don't…" he looked down at her. "…they don't know about you."

Kate smiled. "Don't know you have a sister thirteen years younger than you that you practically raised because dad was too lazy and didn't give a damn?"

John sighed. "No."

Kate leaned back against the wall and crossed her arms. "It's alright John; I'm not mad because you didn't tell anyone about me. Families and siblings, they're all a liability in this business and we, you and me, can't afford to have them. That's why I'm either Seventy-Four or just Kate and not Major Kate Sheppard."

John looked at her. "Whoa, you're a major?" he frowned. "When did this happen?"

Kate shrugged. "When I got discharged from the project. That's what makes me think Jack knows; he had a false record made up to explain my rank and where and what I did while I was an NC. Since I'd originally joined the marines, that's the branch he made the record for."

John whistled, impressed. "So you're a major in the united States Marine Corps. I'm proud of you, Katie."

She smiled at him. "Me too, about you I mean. The family always said you wouldn't get anywhere and now look at you."

"Us black sheep did pretty good huh?" he teased her, sighing. "There is one problem though."

Kate frowned. "What?"

John cringed. "One of the problems with having all the world's genius' in the same city is that it's hard to keep secrets. Eventually they, my team and everyone else, is gonna figure it out."

Kate nodded. "Yeah, well, if I'd stayed at the SGC any longer Daniel would probably have figured it out too; he was getting pretty close," she scowled. "I don't need everybody thinking that I only got this job because I'm Colonel Sheppard's baby sister but hopefully, by the time everyone's figured it out I'll have proven myself enough that that won't be the conclusion that everyone jumps too."

John looked at her apologetically. "Yeah, unfortunately I can see that happening so we'll keep things under wraps for now," he looked down. "It's gonna be hard though."

"We'll manage," Kate said.

"We'll have to," John agreed and then smiled, a grin spreading quickly over his face. "But, whenever the time comes to tell everybody; I can't wait to see the look on Ronon's face."

Kate gave him a curious look. "Why?"

John smirked. "Because he can't decide if he hates you or admires you 'cause you kicked his ass and saved our lives. Either way, some of the things he's been saying about you are pretty bad on both ends of the spectrum."

Kate snickered. "You mean something like 'she's a bitch' and 'I'd tap that'?"

John nodded. "Yeah, exactly like that."

Kate laughed. "Well then, whenever you do get around to telling him, I wanna be there to see it."

John smiled. "You can hold the camera."

Kate nodded. "Yes, I can hold the camera."

John looked at her. "Go," he told her, "Get a shower and then I'll have Lorne take you to your new room."

Kate bowed her head and then did as she was told.