Just so you guys know, my family is going on vacation tomorrow and I can't take my laptop, so it's gonna be about 2 weeks before I get another chapter up. That's why there's two today. :) Enjoy! 'Cause it'll be a while before you get another one. Sorry! Can't be helped.
And again, many thanks to my reviewers.
Read Between the Lines
"How long do you think he's been there?" Ronon asked, meaning Michael.
"I do not know how long his creatures need to grow," Teyla said, "but they have been there for some time if all the other animals are gone."
John, Teyla, Rodney, Ronon, and Zelenka were all sitting at a table in the mess hall. Nick was nowhere to be found. The recovery team had been discussing the matter over lunch. Radek had come over to ask Rodney something about his new idea, and then had stayed when he heard what they were discussing.
"She's got a point," Rodney said. "They have everything necessary for life right there, so there's no reason for migration. Something had to scare them off.
"And then it would have taken time for all of them to leave," Radek added.
"So he's been there for a while," John said.
"But what could he want with Nick?" Radek asked.
"I say we ask her," Ronon said, fingering the handle of his gun.
"I do not think that would be wise," Teyla said. "We do not need her joining Michael because she believes we do not trust her."
"Speaking of the devil," John said, getting up. "We'll take in a fully outfitted team tomorrow and see if we can find him."
"We should have killed him when we had the chance," Ronon muttered over the rim of his cup. His eyes said, And we should do something with her before she ends up like him. John looked back at him for a moment, and then walked out.
- - -
Michael was right.
Nick, fresh from the infirmary, was sitting on what might have once been some sort of dock on the edge of the city, staring out at the sea. Her mind was in a whirl. Just when she thought her world couldn't be rocked anymore. And now she learned that Atlantis had...
Had what? Tried to find a new weapon against the wraith? At least then they wouldn't be killing them. It was more mercy than the monsters deserved.
So? It was still an experiment.
But he was a wraith, for heaven's sake! He fed on humans. That changed everything. Didn't it?
Nick grabbed a rock and tossed it into the ocean. They had called the monsters "Michael's creatures." At least he had admitted to creating them. The Atlantis team hadn't even mentioned him. Not that she had really asked, but still. They said he had destroyed the entire Taranian people. But he had saved her! From his own creatures. Which, she reminded herself, he had only created after the Atlanteans betrayed him. But he had wiped out an entire settlement to do it! They had only captured one wraith for their experiment. Did the number of people affected make it any less of a crime? And he had held Teyla hostage, tried to feed on her! But that was only because he wanted to escape...
She groaned in frustration. It was all so confusing! She barely even knew the Atlantis team, but she already liked them. They had all tried to make her feel welcome. Even after learning she was part wraith they had tried to come and rescue her. Well, except for Ronon. He had turned hostile. And Rodney had definitely become much more uncomfortable around her. But he had still come with John and Teyla to find her. Of his own free will. And Sam had seemed glad she was safe. So had Jennifer. But if they saw her hand... Would they betray her like they had Michael?
There hadn't been a choice. And besides. He was still a wraith. But so was she, in a small way. And to think they had actually experimented...
There she went again. It was impossible to get things straight inside her head. Who was really in the right? She has assumed it was the Atlantis team, but after hearing about Michael she wasn't so sure anymore. Maybe she should just get out of the whole mess while she still could. If she could get Sam to help her track down Larrin...
Her eyes went wide and she sat up fast. Larrin! Larrin was due in any day to deliver supplies. And she had no idea what had happened. She would be walking right into a monster-infested trap.
Nick jumped up and took off running. She had to find Sam and John. They were already planning an expedition to go after Michael, she knew that. Maybe they could intercept Larrin before she got herself killed.
- - -
"Are you sure?" Sam asked.
"Pretty much," John said. "She acted like she'd already heard it from somebody." Like Michael. Sam nodded.
"If he gets ahold of her-"
"He won't," John said quickly. "We'll get him before he has the chance."
Nick suddenly appeared around a corner, heading towards Sam's office, and they both fell silent. If she noticed, she didn't say anything.
"I just remembered," she said. "Larrin-" John cut her off before she could finish.
"Larrin?" he asked, making sure he had heard right.
"She and her father were the ones supplying the compound," Sam said briefly. She looked at Nick. "Go ahead."
"She's due any day with another shipment," Nick said. "She doesn't know about the creatures. She'll be walking right into a trap."
"Larrin and I are old buddies," John said with a hint of sarcasm. "We'll keep an eye out for her." He stepped around Nick on his way out. "I'll give Major Lorne a head's up. He can spread the word."
"John," Sam said suddenly. John turned. Sam glanced at Nick, who was also looking at her, and then back at John. "Why don't you take Nick with you?"
- - -
"We're almost ready to depart, sir," Major Lorne said, falling into step behind John. "About three minutes tops." John gave a nod, his eyes still surveying the team as he walked. Lorne stopped suddenly, his eyes locked on a figure in a bullet-proof vest and dark blue shirt with ponytailed brown hair.
"What's she doing here?" he asked. John glanced in the direction he was looking.
"Who, Nick?" he asked. Lorne nodded, starting after him again.
"This is going to be a dangerous mission," he said, stating the obvious.
"She's here because Colonel Carter wants her here," John said, still walking. Then he added, "And so do I."
"She took a pretty good beating yesterday. Shouldn't she be in the infirmary?"
"Dr. Keller cleared her," John said, still looking ahead instead of at the Major. "Says she's fine. Just a little scratched-up."
"With all due respect, sir," Lorne said, "she's just a kid." When John didn't respond, he said, "Sir, there have been rumors that she's part wraith."
"We need her on our side," John said, calmly dodging the unasked question. "And for that, she's got to know we trust her."
"Do we?" Lorne asked. John stopped walking and froze for a moment before turning to face him.
"Look. Teyla's gonna be keeping an eye on her. You won't even have to know she's there. If you have a problem with that, you can take it up with Colonel Carter. Am I clear?"
"Perfectly, sir." Lorne's face made it obvious that he didn't like John's decision, but he wasn't going to contradict him.
"Good." John turned and started walking again. Then in a loud voice that all could hear, he said, "Let's move out."
- - -
Nick had watched the entire exchange from where she stood with Teyla. She couldn't hear what was said, but she could tell Major Lorne wasn't happy.
"He doesn't trust me," she said softly. She looked around at the other people readying to go through the stargate. "None of them do."
"They will learn," Teyla said. Nick didn't say anything. She was still looking at the other expedition members heading for the still-closed stargate.
"When I first arrived in Atlantis," Teyla continued, "there were many who did not trust my people and I."
"They didn't trust you?" Nick asked incredulously.
"It was understandable," Teyla said. "There were... suspicious circumstances. We did not completely trust them either."
"But they do now," Nick said. "They all listen to you and respect you."
"I had to earn that trust," Teyla said. "So did Ronon."
Nick looked around for the Satedan warrior. He was standing across the room, twirling his gun. When he saw her looking, he put the gun up and turned away, pretending he hadn't seen her. Nick's heart sank.
At that moment the stargate sprang to life. The group of soldiers, about twenty including Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard's team, started through the stargate with John Sheppard and Evan Lorne at the front. There was a medical team on standby just in case. The scientists were having a hay-day with the dead creature they had acquired the day before. A disgruntled Rodney was the only one accompanying the mission, and he was frustrated at having been dragged away from the lab.
Nick came to a halt before the stargate and looked over her shoulder. A few soldiers stepped around her on their way through. Up on the balcony, Sam was watching the exodus. She saw Nick and gave her a nod. Nick nodded back, and then turned and stepped through.
Teyla was waiting for her on the other side with the rest of the expedition. Nick went over and stood beside her, and they watched as the last three people, two men and a woman, stepped through. The gate closed behind them.
"Alright," John said. All eyes were immediately on him. "You all knew why we're here. To find Michael. If you get a shot at him, take it." No one said anything. Nick took a look around. No one seemed worried. She knew they wouldn't hesitate to shoot. How would they react when she couldn't do it?
"We should have done this a long time ago," Ronon muttered. John ignored him.
"Teams of two," he said. "Let's go."
They paired off immediately. Evan Lorne was with a young woman named Sergeant Hendricks. Ronon, Rodney and John stood together as the only threesome because Nick threw the numbers off. She and Teyla stood alone. As the other teams started off, John grabbed Ronon.
"I want you with Teyla and Nick," he said.
"I'm not going with her," Ronon said, his teeth clenched.
"Look," John said, his voice low and hard. "Nick knows more of that complex than anybody. And she probably knows where Michael's hiding. You and Teyla together would have the best chance of getting him." And at stopping Nick if she does anything suspicious. Ronon glared at him for a moment, and then finally nodded.
"Where's this tunnel entrance?" John asked, turning to Nick. She had given them a very brief version of her time in the complex, detailing some of her fights and then her miraculous discovery of the exit. John hadn't bought the last bit for an instant. It smelled an awful lot like the work of Michael.
"That way." Nick pointed. "About twenty minutes." John nodded. Then he and Rodney headed in the direction she had pointed.
"Come on," Ronon said gruffly, obviously annoyed at being put with the half-wraith freak. He started walking toward the compound with Teyla and Nick following, the latter hoping against hope that Michael couldn't be found.
So. What do you guys think? Who is Nick going to side with? Will Michael get caught, or does he still know exactly what he's doing? Unfortunately, it'll be a while before you find out. Why not write a review to make the time go faster? :D
Be back as soon as I can!