Author's note: I spent a great deal of time doing research for this story about the various fault lines and the consequences it would have on the United States. I also looked up where the geologic offices are that would report quake activity and send tsunami warnings. Also, I live in Colorado and the places I used as settings are real. Seven Falls is in Colorado Springs and Bishop's Castle is several hours away. The Oregon Coast scene is also real and part of the park system for the state. I have visited each site used and descriptions are accurate. Not to mention other nice regional touches that makes the setting real. And, as I learned from a panel years ago, if you screw up your facts, there is always someone out there who will know and send you message informing you of your error.
Disclaimer: I do not own the series nor characters from Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis or Surface. I write fanfiction for fun, practice and the enjoyment of other fans.
Dragonlots aka Dana Bell
Los Angeles, CA
Anna stormed into the Science reporter's office and slammed the door. "Eddie, you idiot!" Before he could respond she shoved the videotape into his machine and hit the play button. An image popped up of a fellow correspondent on the Carolina coast.
Eddie jerked up not believing what he saw. In the background were sharp dark fins in the water. "What the…!" He bolted to his feet as the man reporting the incident was eaten.
"And here you made fun of my friend!" She raged at him, storming out.
He sat down hard and wondered how he was ever going to repair his career for such a horrendous mistake.
Bottom of the World
The last train pulled in and the giant metal doors slowly closed, protecting the occupants and their ark filled with Earth's creatures from the mayhem above. A hissing click and they locked, sealing in the occupants.
"Just like Noah," the man in the hat commented.
"Yes," Lee answered, his Oriental face unreadable.
"I hear you took care of our little problem."
I did." He had no problem lying to his employer. Not after the way he'd been lied to. No need for anyone but him t know Laura Daughtery was still alive and he hadn't shot her as he'd been instructed.
"Good." The man sounded smug. "Now, we wait."
"Man, oh man," Rich groaned, shrugging out of his black jacket. He draped it over the ledge and took a moment to wipe moisture off his square featured face.
Water stretched out as far as the four could see, dotted here and there with gigantic sea monsters.
"They're hunting," Miles told them. He sensed the creatures' intentions.
"Hunting what?" Laura asked. The wind whipped her golden-brown hair around and she impatiently pushed it behind her ears.
"Us." Miles stepped back slightly from the edge. There wasn't much room on the belfry's balcony. He shook water out of his dark, curly hair.
Caitlin inched back next to him, pulling her gray hoodie tighter. "Do you think we're safe here?" She looked from Miles to the two adults and back.
Miles' pet, Nim made a high pitched noise as one of the creatures swam close, lifting up its huge snot to inspect them. It looked straight at Miles.
"Go away," he breathed, his heart beating hard.
Obediently, it dropped back and swam away.
"What just happened?" Laura demanded, rounding on him.
"I don't know," Miles told her truthfully. He only vaguely remembered what happened when he'd led away the smaller versions, trying to keep the town folk from being eaten.
Chirping sounds reached the teen's ears as Nim dropped down from his perch on the ledge and bumped his leg. "Hey, boy." Miles scratched his pet's reptilian head.
"I can't believe you raised that thing." Laura Daughtery kneeled down to take a closer look. The edges of her brown velvet jacket dragged in the puddles left from the tsunami.
"Careful," Rich warned.
"Don't worry," the boy reassured them. "Nim won't attack unless he's provoked."
"Know that for a fact do ya?" Rich asked skeptically.
"Yeah, I do," Miles responded defensively. His brown eyes dared the man to disagree with him.
"How're we gonna get down?" Caitlin asked in a scared tone, her red hair escaping her pony tail.
The four exchanged looks and peeked cautiously over the brick ledge.
"I have no idea," Laura finally answered.
Cascadia Subduction Zone
Off the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California
They knew what they had to do, so they dug and dug and dug until the entire section violently shifted. As one they swam away, their work done.
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
Ewa Beach, Hawaii
"Good God!" The scientist on watch jumped up watching the indicator lights on the monitors lit up in so many places he didn't know how he was going to warn everyone on time. Automatically he reached for the phone and hoped he reached as many officials as possible to help him. If not, then more than half the coastal world was going to be under very deep water and millions were going to die.
Oregon Coast State Park
"Look, mommy!" The little girl in a cute green summer outfit darted out on the wet sand normally covered with water. She grabbed a perfect sand dollar and whooped triumphantly, waving her treasure high in the air.
"Oh, no," the mother breathed. She raced out to collect her daughter half-running, half-hauling the child with her. Her heart pounded in stark terror as a gigantic roaring noise began in the background.
The need to flee burned in her and she hurried down the narrow path, the thick growth and tall trees more menacing than awe inspiring. The landscape was a complete contrast to her home state of Colorado. Yes, the mountains were stately and sometimes beautiful, but for the most part, the rolling plains and deep desert made her wish at times for something with more lush vegetation.
"Mommy!" her daughter pleaded, kicking her small feet into empty air.
She paused only long enough to change the way she carried her daughter. Slinging the child over her shoulders, a carry position she had learned during training, she glanced back. The terrifying sight made her run even faster hoping the parking lot wasn't much further. Not that getting in her car would make much difference. Finally, the trees cleared and the paved lot came into view.
"Run!" she screamed as startled fellow tourists began to get out of their cars. "Run for high ground!"
Cracking sounds followed her warning and a rumbling, horrifying noise she'd only heard on videos began.
"No!" She pulled her daughter into her arms, instinctively crouching, trying to protect the child she'd waited so long for.
Another sound invaded her ears and her eyes blazed briefly as an intense white light swallowed the two of them, just as the fifty-foot wave snapped trees, tossed cars, and drowned people.
"Welcome aboard, Colonel Carter," Caldwell greeted as the two of them materialized on the bridge. He turned in his command chair to face the pair.
"Thanks. Good timing." She hugged her daughter, just glad they were both alive.
"Lucky you have that implant," Jack commented, rising from his seat. "We might never have found you." The little girl wiggled free of her mother and jumped into his arms. "Hi, pumpkin," he greeted as he turned to Sam. "You okay?"
"Yes." Although the thought of all the people who had died in that parking lot made her slightly dizzy.
"Whoa!" Jack shifted his little girl, and put an arm around his wife.
I'm fine, Jack." She stepped away from the offered comfort. "Patch me through to Stargate Command."
"Anticipated that," Caldwell commented. A holo image of General Landry appeared on the bridge. It was a new piece of technology they hadn't quite worked all the bugs out of yet so the image flickered constantly.
"What's going on, General?" Sam demanded.
The general took a deep breath. "Here's what we know so far,"
Baal smiled his secret evil smile, his dark eyes shinning with wicked glee. "Perfect," he smirked, nearly clapping his hands in glee as he watched the newscasts from both now flooded coasts on the giant TV screens on his wall. In his very richly decorated office stood an oak desk, a padded chair where he currently sat, and a carved side bar. So far, his preconceived long range plans seemed to be working beyond his wildest expectations.
Bastet leaned tantalizingly close to him, her neckline daringly plunged, affording him a good view of her 'assets'. Her slightly slanted eyes were glued on the images. She'd recently joined her fellow gou'ald on Earth and had made herself invaluable to their schemes. "I'd love to see them closer."
"Here," he offered putting in a disc he'd recorded earlier. Somehow, he knew she'd want to see for herself. "Ravenous creatures," he chuckled in appreciation, not just from the scientific aspect.
The earlier recorded image of the eaten reporter played itself.
"Purrrfect," she purred. "Humans have such lovely imaginations."
"As do you," he agreed, meeting her yellow-tinted eyes. He smiled suggestively.
"Well," she melted onto his lap. "My celebrations were always very well attended."
Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
"This is all you have?" Sam inquired in disbelief. She'd spent the better part of the day in the briefing room pouring over the information they'd managed to collect, including the recorded newscasts, one of which played on the TV mounted on the gray wall.
"Someone went to a great deal of trouble to destroy most of the records," Landry told her as his gaze temporarily shifted to the Gate room where teams were being shipped off to the Alpha and Beta sites. "We were fortunate to get this." He raised his hand to indicate the many folders spread over the huge oval shaped table.
"Where is," she shuffled a couple of files to find the one she wanted, "Dr. Laura Daughtery?"
"Walter?" the general called as he sat down.
The balding man with glasses who often acted as Landry's aid hurried in. "Last records indicate," he glanced at the paper he was holding. "She had just arrived in North Carolina before the tsunami hit."
"So she could be dead." Carter tossed the file aside, burying her face in her hands.
"We have no way of knowing," the general confirmed.
"I really need to find her." Sam dropped her hands and raised her head. "She's the only scientist that's left. The other two, "she double checked another file, "Cirko and Singh are dead."
"That's why I have Teal'c and Mitchell flying recon."
Over North Carolina
"Whoeee! Would you look at all the water!" Mitchell exclaimed.
"Indeed," Teal'c replied. He flew his new, enhanced fighter in tight formation with the colonel's.
"Okay then." Cameron yanked his attention away from the submerged houses, floating cars, and what had to be dead bodies. "No more sight seeing. We're here to look for survivors."
"Our mission has never been different."
Cam chuckled. "Gotta work on your sense of humor, Teal'c."
"There is nothing wrong with it."
"What the…!" Something large with a long neck jumped out of the water and the two pilots expertly dodged the huge obstacle.
"I have never seen anything like that," the former Jaffe stated.
"Looked a bit like a dragon." Mitchell swung his fighter around. "Come to papa," he urged the monster below.
"Don't worry. Just want to get a few pictures to send back to Sam." His nose camera clicked rapidly. "If the beastie comes at me again, hell, that's what missiles are for."
"Do you see those?" Miles shouted excitedly.
"Those fighters?" Rich shaded his eyes from the bright sun.
"Not seen those before," Laura observed.
Caitlin warily backed against the steeple even though she was already as close as could she be and gazed upward. "Looks like something out of a SciFi movie."
"Case you hadn't noticed, we seem to be in the middle of one." The older woman smiled kindly at the younger one.
"Yeah, sea monsters, stranded people in danger, all the key elements." Rich smiled at the other three. "Watched creature features in my youth. Thought they were funny."
"Not so funny now," Laura mumbled. "Do you think they can see us?"
"Seem to flyin' kind of low." Rich grabbed his jacked and waved it. "Hey! Down here!"
Laura used her jacket as well, the teens yelled. They hoped, prayed, that the pilots would see them.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Savannah Bennet took a shaky breath and tried her parent's cell number again. She'd arrived safely at her grandmother's and just before the giant wave had hit. Where she was staying was high ground. She just hoped she was safe from the water monsters.
Her parents still weren't answering. She tried her brother Miles as well. Again no reply. She bit her lip and prayed fervently they were okay and had gotten off the island on time. Savannah honestly hoped she wasn't the only member of her family to survive.
She tried their cell numbers again. Savannah started to cry when she continued to get no answer.
"Found some survivors," Colonel Mitchell's voice sounded. "Looks like four with some sort of a…pet. Can you get a lock on them, Deadalus?"
"Got them," Caldwell responded when his tech nodded.
"Then beam them up, Scotty."
"You've been watching too much Star Trek, Caldwell muttered, although the humor in his voice leaked through.
Nim howled as the group materialized on the bridge.
"What the…" Rich began looking wildly around at the futuristic panels and controls.
"Just like on Star Trek," Miles marveled, grabbing Nim before the little lizard could find a good place to hide.
"You know about Star Trek?" Rich's face reflected his surprise.
"Sure." The boy held onto Nim tightly. "They run it on satellite."
"Welcome aboard the Deadalus." Colonel Caldwell approached the group. "And you are?"
"Laura Daughtery," the golden-brown haired woman spoke up. "Rich Connelly," she pointed at the stout man. She turned to the redheaded girl. "Caitlin Godfrey, and the young man with his pet is Miles Bennett."
"Pet?" Somehow the colonel doubted that.
"Raised him from an egg. His name is Nimrod." The boy sounded a little defensive.
"Hey, Colonel," Mitchell's yell distracted Caldwell. "You might want to alert the Coast Guard. Have a ferry blocked by some fallen buildings near Willmington, and those sea monsters are gathering like vultures."
"My parents!" Miles yelled. "They're on that ferry!"
"My dad!" Caitlin had tears in her brown eyes.
"Take it easy, kids," Caldwell soothed. "Colonel Mitchell, you are here by authorized to render aid and assist in whatever form you deem necessary."
"Was hopin' you'd say that."
"I have General Landry on audio," the Com officer informed the Caldwell.
"Colonel," the general's flickering image appeared. "How's the search for survivors going?"
"I have a few on board. Colonel Mitchell and Teal'c are helping a stranded ferry."
"Good. Colonel Carter has informed me we need to find a Dr. Laura Daughtery."
The bald man turned and stared at the woman they'd just rescued. "I have her on board."
"Well, at least we've been that lucky today," the general mused. "I want her transported down to the SGC immediately."
"Hey," Rich interrupted, "she don't go no where without the rest of us."
"I'll be sending you two adults, two teenagers, and a…pet."
"Main briefing room, please, Colonel. Carter will be waiting."
Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
Sam glanced up as the group appeared. She half rose. She hadn't been expecting anyone.
"Stand down," Landry ordered as he entered the room. "I'm General Landry," he introduced himself. "Welcome to Stargate Command."
"Stargate Command?" Laura shook herself. She had to be asleep. This just couldn't be real. Who were these people in uniforms? And what did they want?
"This is Colonel Samantha Carter." Landry pointed to the short-haired blonde woman at the table.
"You must be Dr. Daughtery," the woman said, standing up.
"Yes," she answered, her pale blue eyes darting between the two military people, her mind full of awful suspicions.
"Good," Sam interjected. "I could really use your help." She gestured toward the conference table that dominated the room.
The marine biologist edged over to the table. There were files scattered on the large marble surface, plus a video playing of the new vertebrates on a laptop.
"You're the only scientist we know of that has seen these things and survived," Sam went on.
"I've seen 'em, too," Rich objected.
"They think Nim is one," Miles added somewhat hesitantly though he didn't look like he thought he shouldn't have said anything.
"Nim." The Air Force Colonel gazed at the small lizard.
"Something isn't he?" Laura marveled.
"Please," Caitlin pleaded. "I heard those things were circling the ferry. My dad is on board. Can you find out if he's okay?"
"And my parents?" Miles' face reflected his worry.
"I'll see what I can find out," Landry assured them.
"In the meantime," Jack poked his graying head in the door. "Are you kids hungry?"
"Where's Mandie?" Sam demanded, looking around for her daughter.
"Daniel's looking after her. They were exploring the options of green jello or chocolate pudding."
"Don't suppose you have any goldfish?" Miles suspected Nim was hungry.
"I'm sure someone might have a package stashed somewhere."
"No," the teen shook his head. "Live ones. For Nim."
"Daniel's got some in a bowl, but I don't think he'd like it if they got eaten." Jack's face changed expressions. "Seriously though, are you kids hungry?"
At their lost and conflicting looks, Landry spoke up. "Soon as I know anything about your parents, I'll let you know. Promise." He left for his office.
"Why don't you come along…?" Jack looked at Rich.
The southerner turned to woman who had saved his life. "Laura?"
"Go ahead. I'll be fine." She took off her jacket as she sat down, tossing it on the table. She pulled the nearest document over and began examining it.
"Bring you back something, Sam?" Jack asked his wife with a smile.
She returned it. "How about a turkey sandwich and coffee. Would you like something, Dr. Daughtery?"
"Laura. The same would be fine."
"Two turkey sandwiches and coffees coming up." O'Neill motioned the others. "Well, come on."
Miles put Nim on the concrete floor and the lizard hopped happily along behind the boy.
Sam watched the animal and inquired, "What is that?"
"Small version of the things currently menacing the Carolina coast," Laura answered.
"The west coast and the southeast," Sam corrected. "According to the reports we've gotten, a tsunami hit the states of Washington, Oregon, and California as well, followed by an invasions of strange sea creatures."
"Jesse!" Laura gasped. "My son," she explained at the Colonel's blank look.
"Where is he?"
Sam picked up the phone. "I'll have the General check on him, too. Exactly where is he?" She smiled reassuringly at Laura's frightened gaze. "I have a daughter. I understand."
Gratefully, she told Sam where her son was and gave her the address.
Speaking into the phone, Sam said, "General, we have another person you need to locate."
The pop machine sparked slightly when Miles tried to pour himself a drink. Carefully he backed away so as not to cause too much damage. "Caitlin, would you mind getting me a Coke?"
"Sure." She grabbed a cup, added ice and pushed the lever.
Both teens grabbed food and retreated to a far table away from the adults. Nim jumped up, knocking over the salt shaker. Miles removed the silver lid and dumped the contents. The lizard busily lapped at the white mound.
"Do you think our folks are okay?" Caitlin's hands shook slightly as she buttered a biscuit.
"Don't know." He'd just been wondering the same thing. "I hope so." Miles took a pinch of salt from the mound and scattered it on his food.
"Hi!" The two started. A little girl in jeans and a green T-shirt that said I'm an Air Force brat stood next to them. "What's that?" She pointed at Nimrod.
"He's my pet. Nim." Miles answered.
"Mandie," Jack's voice carried across the room. "Leave that alone."
"Why?" She glanced back at her dad and then back at Nim.
"Because daddy doesn't like scaly lizard things." He half rose to get her, but Rich motioned him to stay put and walked over.
"Why?" he asked as he got up from the table.
"You really want to explain?" a scholarly looking man teased as he came over to sit with them, a steaming cup of coffee in his hand.
Jack shuddered. "Hate those snakes, Daniel."
"Hey, Mandie." Rich went over and kneeled down beside the little girl. "How about you come finish your jello and I'll tell you a story about fishing."
Her eyes lit up. "Daddy fishes."
"Pesky fish," Jack muttered.
"Shouldn't have changed the time stream then," Daniel teased.
Rich offered his hand and Mandie trustingly took it. He got her reseated and started talking with her. Her dad rose and got a tray with two mugs of coffee and sandwiches and left with them.
The teens both smiled and dug into their food.
"You've done very well," Baal complimented the voice on the other side of the communication. The gou'ald gazed out the large windows down upon the human city. "Though you're well ahead of schedule."
"Thank you. I told you I would succeed."
"Yes." He smiled. "You did."
"I don't believe it." Sam sat back in her chair stunned. The file she held she dropped onto the table.
"What is it?" Laura put down her coffee mug.
The Air Force officer gazed at the younger woman. "Didn't you wonder about the combination of genetic material?"
"Not really. Not until I talked with the researcher, Dr. Morris, who developed it." She picked up her half-eaten sandwich. "Why?"
"What's your security clearance?"
"I don't have one." She leaned forward. "What's this all about?"
"I'm going to see General Landry." Sam rose. "You stay here." She hurried off.
"Found your parents." Jack sat down with the teens. He'd been gone for a long while. "Stopped to talk with General Landry. Says they're still on the ferry and are being towed inland by the Coast Guard."
Caitlin and Miles both sighed in relief.
"What about my family?" Rich had joined them when he'd seen O'Neill come back. The southerner had belatedly asked the former Air Force General to find out about his wife and daughters.
"Still checkin'," Jack told him. "But there are a lot of refugee camps. It'll probably be awhile."
"Thanks for at least tryin'."
"Hey, I got a wife and daughter, too. Speaking of which, where'd Mandie go?" Jack glanced around the room
"Oh, your friend Daniel took her to his office." He grinned sheepishly. "Sorry. He told me to tell you and I forgot."
"That's okay." He turned his attention to the young people. "So, would you like a tour of the base?"
"Come on, then. You too, Rich. You're about to get the see what most people would consider Sci-Fi."
"Are you absolutely certain?" Landry slowly put the folder on his desk, careful not to mix it with all the paperwork already scattered on its polished top.
"As certain as I can be without a genetic sample." Carter gave him the intense expression he was very familiar with.
"How about asking the boy for one from his pet?"
"I'll get right on it."
"Hi, Miles." Sam caught up with them as they were touring the Gate room.
"Hi." He gazed at her puzzled and a little uneasy.
"I'd like to ask a favor of you."
"I'd like to take a blood sample of your friend here." She pointed at Nim who was wiggling his way up the metal ramp.
"No!" He shot back, glaring at her.
Startled she stared at him.
"What do you need the blood for?" Rich wanted to know.
"I found something unusual and I wanted to confirm it." She sensed something here but wasn't certain what it was.
"You can't take Nim!" Miles yelled at her.
"Huh? I'm not going to take him." She reached out as if to reassure him, but he backed away.
"That's what my dad said," Caitlin stated. "Then he wouldn't let Miles see Nim at all. He kept Nimmy in a special tank and did tests and stuff on him."
"Oh." Sam understood then. "Miles," she used the tone of voice she used to calm Mandie. "You can come with me. I'm not going to hurt Nim nor am I going to take him away from you."
"Sam wouldn't do that," Jack put in.
"I think you can trust her, Miles," Caitlin urged. She turned to Sam. "Can I come too?"
"Sure." She waited for Miles' consent.
Miles bit his lip.
"If I wanted to take him, I'd only have to order a couple of the guards," she pointed at the pair who stood guard at the door. "I haven't done that."
"No," he admitted. Still, he hesitated.
"Having a blood sample will me determine how we can stop these creatures, Miles. I don't think you want to see more people eaten."
"You know we don't," Caitlin reminded him.
"I can come?" His tone was hopeful.
"Yes." Sam secretly was relieved. "If you'll follow me." She led the teens to a lab on the same floor. It was filled with all kinds of equipment. "Now…" She grabbed a syringe and then hesitated. Where would be the best place to take blood from the lizard? She approached Nim as Miles put the reptile on a table. Yet, as she reached down, the lizard backed away and hissed.
"I think my dad hurt him," Caitlin explained.
Now that was a problem. She thought for a moment and got a crazy idea. "Miles, maybe if you showed him?"
"I hate needles."
"Then don't look." She smiled rolling up his red and blue striped sleeve. "Pick a spot on the wall over there and make a fist for me." He did as she asked. Quickly she took a sample and put it in a tube. "All done."
"See Nim," Miles showed the lizard his arm. "Nothing to it." His pet scuttled forward and licked the prick spot on the boy's arm.
"Not seen that before," Sam observed, not sure what to make of the reptile's behavior.
"I had a bad bite and it got infected. Nim healed me," Miles told her.
Sam frowned. Maybe, she thought to herself, I should run some tests on his blood, too.
"Come here, Nim," Miles gently coaxed. Reluctantly, the lizard came froward, turning his head away and lifting a fin.
She moved both fast and gently to take her sample.
"The results are staggering," Sam reported to General Landry. Jack stood in the door leaning on the jam listening. He'd settled their guests in their quarters earlier.
"I was right," she went on, handing the general the lab results.
"What am I looking at?"
"A combination of findings," she opened her mouth to launch into a string of scientific jargon.
"Simple English," Jack reminded her. "Pretend you're talking to me."
She threw her husband a look and tried again to explain the results, much simpler this time. "Nim has naqueda in his blood." She paused for effect. "So does the boy Miles."
"And?" Landry sat forward. What she was saying had significant importance.
"There's evidence the rapid healing is caused by gou'ald DNA." She shook her head. "There's tons of genetic manipulation, most of which would take us months to unravel. I don't even understand it."
"That's a first," Jack teased.
She glared at him and continued. "What concerns me, is that some of the similar patterns are showing up in Miles."
Landry asked, "Is he part of…?"
"Not as far as I know." Sam's then face took on an uneasy expression. "I think the genetic material entered his system from a wound. A wound the lizard licked and healed."
"That's scary." Jack left his place and stood beside his wife.
"Yes, it is," she agreed. "Someone is manipulating DNA, General. And it seems to be transmittable."
"We know Baal has clones." Landry scowled.
"With this technology, we have no idea who else might be able to do it." She nervously went on. "I talked with Dr. Daughtery. She says there is clone named Davis Lee. He is an exact duplicate of someone she saw on a film from the 1950's."
"I don't like the implications." The general shook his head. "Nor do I like the fact that two freak tsunamis have occurred, giant lizards are menacing the flooded areas, and furthermore, the president is panicked and wants to know what hell, is going on!" His hand hit the desk. "We've got to stop these creatures!"
"I don't know if we can," Sam replied. "From what I can tell, these creatures are designed to survive -no matter what."
Laura paced the floor of the stark room she'd been given. It had a bed, a dresser, something that looked like a closet, a table and a chair. Not much, but then, this was a military base. She stopped when Sam knocked on the door and entered.
"Any word on Jesse?" she asked immediately.
"Sorry, no." Sam paused just inside. "There are millions of people at hundreds of refugee camps and they haven't got a record system going yet."
The biologist twirled the purple bracelet she wore. She knew Jesse had a duplicate. She loved her son to infinity. That's what the band meant. "I'm so worried."
"I understand," Sam assured her. "I can't imagine what I'd be like if I didn't know where Mandie was." She lifted the folder she held. "Would you like to see the lab results?"
"You're going to let me see them?" Laura couldn't believe her luck. "No security clearance needed?"
"General Landry decided it wasn't necessary. You're already here." She sat at the round table, and Laura joined her. Carter went over the findings adding details she knew Dr. Daughtery wouldn't be aware of.
"What do you mean not all the DNA comes from Earth?" That blew her mind! Beings from other worlds and not one official statement from the government, furthermore they'd actually managed to keep alien presence secret. "You're not kidding?" She gazed at Sam for confirmation.
One fact did concern her. "Have any idea what this altered DNA has done to Miles?" He certainly seemed to be normal teen, despite his strange taste in pets.
"No. And I'm not really sure how to ask him or even if we should tell him."
"Found your family, Rich," Jack informed the southerner as he joined their adult guests during breakfast. The former general wore jeans and a plaid shirt. He put Mandie in a chair with a bowl of Fruit Loops in front of her.
"Well? Where are they?" Rich demanded.
"At a refugee camp outside Memphis."
"I'm happy for you, Rich." Laura reached across the table and squeezed his arm.
"We're still looking for your son," Jack assured her. "Mandie, the floor doesn't need any more decoration."
His daughter gazed up at him with eyes the color of her mother's. She smiled and poked more sugar- laden cereal in her mouth.
"You're a lucky man." Rich gave him a look shared by fathers.
"You'll let me know immediately when you find Jesse?" Laura had a pleading look on her sun tanned face.
"So," Miles called to them from another table, "what did the blood tests Sam did show?" He cut a bit of bacon and lifted the morsel to his mouth.
Laura and Jack exchanged a concerned gaze.
"You should ask Sam." Jack answered. "I have a hard time following all scientific mumbo jumbo." He rose. "Anyone want more coffee?"
"She found somethin', didn't she?" Rich demanded.
"Yeah, she did." Jack didn't figure keeping it secret would help. He glanced over to the table where the young adults had ensconced themselves and wondered how much Miles had already figured out on his own.
The gou'ald smiled at the little scared boy, who tried, unsuccessfully, to glare defiantly at him
over the desk.
"Where's my dad!" the boy demanded.
"I don't really know." He was lying of course. He'd had the father and the woman with him killed.
"Would you like something to eat?" He offered a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
"I want my dad!"
One track mind. He liked that. He put the cookies down. "Well, he's not here right now." He pressed the intercom. "Send her in." The rich double wood door opened and the woman he'd hired as a temporary nanny entered. "This is Miss Rose," he introduced. "She'll be taking care of you while you're my guest." The boy cast a look behind him and crossed his arms, refusing to move out of the chair.
"Jesse," Baal shook his head. "I do suggest you be a Very good boy while you're here."
He leaned forward his black clad figure menacing. His eyes flashed. Startled, Jesse jumped out of the chair and backed up.
"That's better." He waved his hand. His eyes met the nanny's. "I trust you will take excellent care of him."
"Yes, sir," she demurely replied.
"Jack," Landry motioned from the cafeteria door.
"'Scuse me." Jack got up from the table and joined the general. His instincts kicked in and he knew something was wrong. "What's up?"
Landry lowered his voice so not to be overheard. "I just got a report they found two dead bodies at a camp in Yuma, Arizona. Authorities have identified them as Dr. Daughtery's ex-husband and girlfriend."
"What about her son?"
O'Neill glanced behind him. Mandie had abandoned her breakfast and was playing a game with Miles and Caitlin. She'd be okay for a little while. "I'm going to go tell Sam and have her tell Laura."
"Sounds like a good plan."
A few minutes later Sam came in with her husband and took Dr. Daughtery aside. Laura screamed, "Jesse!" and sagged. The colonel eased her down to a chair and tried to comfort her.
"What's going on?" Rich half rose from his chair, but Jack put a hand on his shoulder forcing him back down. "Is Jesse…?"
"We don't know."
"How are things on Atlantis, Dr. Weir?" Landry asked when the expedition made its routine check in. He was standing in the control room staring down at the activated gate. He couldn't actually see the person he was talking to, but he'd met Elizabeth Weir and knew what she looked like.
"Much the same. The Wraith are still trying to find a way to Earth, and we're making sure that doesn't happen. Right now," there was a brief pause in the transmission. "I have many here concerned about what's happening on Earth and whether or not their families are safe."
"We're still working on the list you provided, but so far, we've found everyone and they're fine. I'lll send you an update at the end of this communication."
"I'll pass that on."
The general took a deep breath. Now, for the news he hadn't really wanted to share. "This isn't common knowledge, so I'd appreciate you keeping this to yourself for a little while." He paused before telling her the rest. "We're sending more people on the Deadalus to help settle Atlantis."
"Is that wise? You know our situation."
"Wasn't my decision, Dr. Weir."
"I see." He let the implications sink in. "When can I expect them?" she asked.
"Colonel Caldwell tells me they'll be leaving in a week."
"A month then." There was another pause. "How many?"
"I don't know yet. I should have the exact number to expect by your next check in."
"Thank you. Atlantis out."
"Oh, Dr. Weir. You can inform Dr. McKay that his sister Jeanie, her husband Kaleb, and his niece Madison, will be among the new settlers."
A brief silence. "We don't have any children here."
"From what I understand, she won't be the only one."
The ransom demand arrived via a beautiful Egyptian Mau. Landry removed the message from the jeweled collar around the spotted feline's neck. It had been delivered by one of the guards topside.
I want the boy, Miles Bennett and his pet, Nimrod, in exchange for Jesse Daughtery.
The rest of the message were instructions about how, when, where, the exchange was to take place.
"Trap," Jack commented when the Landry shared the message with SG1 in the briefing room.
"Understatement," Mitchell agreed. "So, what's the plan?"
The team waited expectantly. Landry waited briefly before answering. "First, I want to talk with
Miles and Dr. Daughtery."
"Who has my son?" Laura demanded after they'd been escorted to the briefing room.
"A very bad man," Jack answered.
"A very dangerous exiled System Lord," Daniel corrected. "Who can't be trusted to keep his word," he needlessly reminded everyone.
"He's right there," Mitch collabrated.
Landry quickly updated their guests, including the contents of the ransom note. Immediately, Miles volunteered to make the swap.
"You don't have to this, Miles," Laura told the boy.
"But if I don't, you won't get your son back," Miles replied.
"From what I'm hearing, I might not anyway." Not an easy admission for a mother to make, and it broke her heart to say it. She grabbed her bracelet.
"You'll have a better chance if we're there to help you." Sam tried to sympathetically reassure her.
Miles didn't feel brave, but he owed a lot to Laura. They wouldn't still be alive if not for her and her quick thinking. He would not have thought to take refuge on the church steeple after the car ran out of gas.
"We should at least try," he finally said.
Colorado Springs, CO
Miles stood at the bottom of the seventh fall where water cascaded over rock. Nim splashed in the pool, swimming happily. Part of Miles wanted to join his pet. He glanced nervously around. Many of the so called 'tourists' were military personal from the base in civilian clothes. Landry, Mitchell and Jack had all argued about leaving the park open, but if the contact and exchange was to be made, things had to look normal.
"Humans are so predictable," a feminine voice purred behind him. "Call your pet," the woman softly hissed. He started to move forward yet stopped when a sharp object pressed into the small of his back.
"Nim," he called quietly.
Nim poked up his head and snarled.
"Tell him to stop that."
"No, Nim. Come."
The lizard retreated back under the water.
"Ouch!" The knife pricked him.
"Tell him to come!"
"Nim," his voice got slightly louder. His pet completely ignored him.
"I don't have time for this. Here," a carrier was placed on the ground next to Miles. "Get him."
"Here, Nim." Miles didn't want to be cruel nor did he want to crawl into the pool and draw unwanted attention to himself. Besides, his feet were wet enough. Puddles littered the rock pathway. It had rained last night. He grabbed the carrier and put it on the rocky ledge. "Come on."
Making a great show of reluctance, Nim crawled out of the water and into the carrier. Miles closed the metal door.
"Let's go," the woman ordered. She urged him along the path, the knife never leaving his back.
Every time she pricked the teen, his pet growled. "Tell it to shut up!" she ordered.
"Then stop hurting me."
She ignored him and when they reached the parking lot, she shoved him into the back seat of a black car.
"Wait," he tried to right himself and the carrier. "Where's Jesse?"
An innocuous van advertising quick delivery from American Furniture Warehouse decorated with a picture of a huge tiger rumbled along behind the sleek sedan.
"Transmitter is working perfectly, sir," Sam reported back to Landry from inside the modified truck bed.
"Good. Keep me posted."
Miles finally got himself seated correctly and snapped the seatbelt around his waist. He used the other belt to secure the carrier. "Where're we going?"
The woman's long nails tapped the steering wheel. "A castle."
She laughed, a deep-throated sound. "A castle," she confirmed.
He looked out the window. He noticed signs for a military base on one side as they pulled out of Colorado Springs. The dark-haired woman kept driving, making various turns and they finally ended up on a narrow, weaving road going up into the foothills. Tall thin pines flashed by the window. When they finally stopped, she parked on the side of the road. Across from them, a looming stone castle with a huge metal dragonhead rose out of the trees. The front area still seemed to be under construction.
"What is this?" He'd never seen anything like it.
"Bishop's Castle," she snapped back. "Get out. And don't try to run off."
He got out and awkwardly hauled out the carrier. The woman glanced both ways and crossed the road. He followed, but kept pausing reading the various political signs posted on the property.
She grabbed his shoulder. "Don't dwaddle." She sniffed. "Hard to believe the old man built most of this by himself." Her voice dripped with contempt.
"I think it's cool."
"Though here." She pushed him into the dark underbelly of the castle. They came to a winding stone staircase. "Up!"
Shrugging he did what she told him, dragging the carrier along. The next story they entered onto a solid wooden floor with benches here and there and an open glass ceiling.
"Sit down," she ordered.
He sat, putting the carrier on the floor. Nim squealed to be let out. A few people wandered around, trying not to stare, but he caught their curious looks.
The woman glided to the side windows. She gazed outside. "Thought we were followed." She returned to him. "We're going for a climb."
"Spread out," Mitchell ordered. "They have to be here somewhere."
SG1 scattered, each taking a different route to explore the various levels of the castle. Sam found their quarry and reported back to the others. "They're up in the turret." Her heart nearly stopped. The one they were climbing was made entirely out of wire!
"Leave!" The woman shouted down. "Leave or I'll destroy this wire and shove this child out!" She pushed Miles against the wire. He could see what a long drop it would be.
"I'm not a child!" Miles objected.
Nim screamed a high pitched shriek that hurt Miles eardrums. Yet, the tactic had its desired affect, his captor released her hold on him.
He managed to open the carrier and the lizard hopped out and raced down the stairs. The teen followed. Vaguely he heard a sizzling sound behind him.
"She's got a zat!" Mitchell's voice carried from below.
The wire buzzed near Mile's head and he instinctively ducked.
"Little…" she muttered a word a language he didn't understand.
"Watch your aim!" Mitchell yelled. "Don't hit the boy!"
Wire fizzled again barely missing the boy. He nearly tripped trying to get down the winding narrow steps. He really didn't want to break a leg trying to escape, or worse yet, fall to his death. Something brushed past him and he watched in horror as Nim jumped back up the stairs.
Nim ignored him. The woman made a grab for the lizard but missed. Nim lunged in and bit her calf. Blood ran down her calf. Blood ran down her leg, and she screamed in pain and turned her weapon downward, but his pet was already gone and now waiting for Miles on the lower landing.
"Miles! Come here!" Samantha extended her hand while squeezing off a shot from her zat. He took it and she shoved him behind her. "I have him," she reported into her walkie-talkie.
Bullets and blasts ricocheted off stone and metal. The sounds only slightly faded as Carter took him down another winding staircase into a room he'd not seen before. It was rather large, darker than the upstairs with a few scattered stain glass windows. It was filled with antique stoves.
"Would you look at all those stoves." He hadn't seen anything like them except for when his mother took him antique shopping, searching for a gift for an aunt.
Nim hopped over to one and howled.
"What's the matter, Nim?" Miles hurried over.
"Careful!" Sam warned.
His pet cried again, eyes glued on the closed oven door.
"I think there's something in here." He reached for the handle.
"Miles! Wait!" She lunged, trying to stop him.
He tugged and the door popped open with a dull thudding clang as it hit the area below it. "Uh,
Sam," Miles looked over his shoulder at her.
She kneeled down to see why the boy had paled. "Colonel Mitchell, we need an ambulance."
"Where is he?" Laura demanded as she ran into the base infirmary. Why did the walls have to be same awful military blah gray.
"Take it easy. He's fine." Sam stopped the frantic mother. "Dr. Lam is checking him out."
"Did you really find him stuffed into an oven?" The biologist's horror filled eyes met Sam's.
"Yes." No need to lie.
"What happened to the woman?" Miles asked as he joined Sam and Laura. Dr. Lam had checked him and he was fine. Just a few scratches. Nim rubbed against his leg and he patted the lizard on the head.
"Teal'c said," Colonel Mitchell's tone indicated he was having a hard time believing it," she turned into a cat and ran off into the trees." He shook his head. "I left a detail to watch her car."
"Well, you know Colonel," Daniel pushed his glasses up on his nose and crossed his arms,
"Egyptian mythology does say that several of the gods had both human and animal forms."
"I don't believe the gou'ald can turn into animals at will."
"They do in the Harry Potter movies," Miles added helpfully.
"From the fact the message was sent with a Mau, I'd say we're dealing with Bastet." The scientist seemed rather pleased by the information.
"I'm getting really sick of ancient gods," Jack groused as he arrived with his daughter in tow. Caitlin came in with them and went to stand beside Miles.
Dr. Lam walked out stopping further conversation.
"How's Jesse?" Laura demanded.
"He's fine." Her eyes met Mitchell's. They exchanged a silent message. Cam just nodded in response. She turned to Laura. "I'm sure you'd like to see your son." She slipped her hand into his. The boy gave her a smile.
DR. Lam walked out stopping further conversation.
"How's Jesse?" Laura demanded.
"He's fine." Her eyes met Mitchell's. They exchanged a silent message. Cameron just nodded in response. She turned to Laura. "I'm sure you'd like to see your son."
"If you'll come with me." The dark-haired doctor escorted Laura back to her son.
"Don't suppose they'll go after my family, will they?" Rich worried.
"I doubt it," Sam told him. "I can understand them wanting to have Nim and Miles."
"All that DNA stuff," Jack tried to be helpful.
"Do you think they created them?" Miles was curious about where his pet had come from. Caitlin glanced at him oddly when he said that.
"I think they helped develop them," Sam agreed, wondering how Miles had figured out what he had without them actually telling him anything.
Rich put in," Laura talked to one of the scientists who created them."
Sam nodded. "She told me."
"Real scary time." He shook himself. "So now what?"
Jack and Sam looked at each other. "I have no idea," Sam told him truthfully.
"You failed," Baal raged, hitting Bastet and knocking her across the carpeted floor.
She raised a hand to wipe blood off her red painted lower lip. "I tried. You know as well as I do how often SG1 has spoiled our plans." Slowly she got on her feet, scowling at her fingers. A couple of her nails were broken.
"I'd counted on having the boy and lizard. Now," He yelled at her, "we don't even have a hostage!"
"Shouldn't have stuffed the child in the oven then." She pushed back her thick black hair. "They aren't going to easily forgive you for that."
"Like I care." He turned away from her and looked out on the city.
"They'll come after you," she warned.
"No." He turned to face her, a smug smile on his face. "They'll come after you."
New Madrid Fault Line
They knew what they were looking for, but it was so deep it would take a long while to find it. They were patient though, and piled the thick levels of slit along the river bank, not caring if their efforts troubled the humans or that boat traffic had to be stopped.
"Daddy! Daddy!" Two blonde-haired little girls screamed and Jack stood back with a satisfied smile as Rich was reunited with his wife and two daughters.
Rich hugged the girls as if he hadn't seen them in forever. His plain, round-faced wife hung back not looking very happy.
"Let me look at you." He pushed them back to take a good look. "Emily, Heather, you've grown."
"Girls," their mother spoke up. "Would you go stand next to the nice man who brought us here, please."
"Ah, mom," they whined.
"Now, Tracy," her husband began.
"I don't know what you were thinking by having us brought here."
"I wanted to keep you safe."
"We were safe."
"No. No you weren't." He didn't know how to get through to her. "Baby, there are some very bad people out there."
She turned away from him. Rich figured she still thought he was crazy. Tracking these monsters had become an obsession after they'd killed his brother. She'd taken the girls and left him until he got his head screwed on straight again.
Rich grabbed her arm. "I am not crazy. The sea monsters are real and a lot more!"
"We're going back to the camp. Let go of my arm."
"General O'Neill, will you take us back, please."
"Well, I'm sorry, ma'am, but that could be a problem."
"Excuse me?" Tracy looked at him with disbelief.
"We've had a bit of a security problem, and General Hammond, he's in charge of…security, has decided he wants all the family members secured here at the SGC." Jack gave her his best apologetic smile.
"You mean we're stuck here."
"For the time being, yes."
She glared at Rich. "You arranged this."
He raised his arms in protest. "Had nothin' to do with it."
"Mr. Connelly really didn't. Someone kidnapped the son of the other scientist who is helping with the crisis," Jack explained. "Hammond didn't want a repeat."
Rich bit his lip as Tracy digested the news. "I see," she finally said.
"So," Jack stepped back from the door, "if you'll come with me, I'll show you were your rooms are."
"I be sharing one with the girls." Tracy threw a challenging look at her husband.
"Fair enough," Rich agreed.
US Geological Office
The geologist glanced at the seismic monitor noting the number of small quakes that was normal for the area. He noted the latest one in the log and picked up his mug of hot coffee as he sat down. His choice of beverage was rather silly, given the extreme damp heat, but he couldn't get going in the morning without his caffeine.
He just settled down with the local paper when the walls began to shake. Several pictures fell and his mug tipped off the edge and splattered its contents all over the floor. Training took over and he checked the monitor again, seeing multiple epi centers all along the Madrid fault line.
"Oh, God in heaven," he managed just as the building began to shake violently.
Landry marched into the briefing room and turned off the tape they were watching. He switched the channel to a local Colorado Springs station. "You need to see this," he told the two women.
"This just in, several 7.0 and stronger quakes have hit along what we are told is the New Madrid Fault Line. The states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kentucky are affected, and as of yet, we have no official word on the amount of damage or loss of life. FEMA has told us they have been alerted and that rescue and relief operations are under way."
The picture shifted to a copter flying over the river as the reporter's voice continued in the background. "As you can see, the river has over run its banks and flooding homes, farmland, and cities located along its bank."
"Oh, my God," Laura gasped. She rose to her feet and pointed. "Do you see them?"
Hundreds of fins were in the water. One launched out of the water and the picture from the copter ceased.
"Uh, we seem to have lost our picture." The reporter rattled and his face had paled. "We will keep you updated as we received more information."
"This is worse than a gou'ald attack," Sam told Landry.
"I wonder what is going on in the rest of the world," Laura said.
The general hurried out of the room, she assumed to check.
The two women looked at each other and frantically began going through the files again.
Miles and Caitlin were playing a game of chess. Daniel had pulled out his board, and they had set it up on a hastily cleared section of his research table. The archeologist sat going through a book, while Mandie played with her Barbies on the floor. Nim was sitting watching the goldfish swim around the bowl. Jesse was trying to watch a movie his mother had put in for him earlier.
"Hi, Daniel." Colonel Mitchell stuck his head in the door.
"Hi," Daniel distractedly answered. "Nim, leave my fish alone."
The lizard made a noise and jumped down to see what Mandie was doing.
"Caitlin, Miles, have a surprise for you."
The teens looked up from the game. Cameron stepped back. Miles parents walked in, as did his sister, and Caitlin's father.
"Dad!" Caitlin yelled and ran to embrace him. The gray-haired man held his daughter tightly. His eyes leaked behind his glasses.
"Mom! Dad! Savannah!" The family reunited, sharing hugs, everyone talking at once, laughing, crying.
"Yuck!" Savanna screamed. "You still have that…thing!"
"What's wrong with, Nimmy?" Mandie wanted to know. She'd put a Barbie hat on his head.
Jesse had stopped his movie. "Who are you?"
"They're our families," Miles patiently told him.
Daniel's phone rang and he answered it. "Yes, General." He glanced up at everyone. "Yes, sir, they are. I can do that." He hung up. "General Landry wants to see everyone in the briefing room." He put down his book and collected Mandie and Jesse. Once more he reprimanded Nim. "Leave my goldfish alone."
"Come on, Nim," Miles called.
The group went through the corridors to the briefing room. Landry motioned for them all to be seated. Daniel noted all of SG1 was there, plus Jack and several others, including Colonel Caldwell.
"As you are all aware," Landry began. "We have a crisis going on."
"Understatement," Caitlin's father, Dr. Bloom muttered.
"We've forwarded most of the information we have on these creatures to our scientists working in Area 51. They're going to continue searching for a way to stop these monsters."
Nim made a kind of purring noise and Miles scratched him on his head. Savannah made a face.
"Wait a minute, general," Sam interrupted. "Are going to send Dr. Daughtery and me to Area 51?"
He shook his head. "No. Just the information you've collected and all Dr. Daughtery's additions to our research."
"You mean you're not going to allow me to continue to study them?" Laura's voice held her outrage and disbelief. "I've been chasing them around the country,"
Landry lifted a hand to stop her tirade. "I'm aware of that. I have something more important for you to do."
Jesse went to stand by his mother and she put an arm around him. Mandie jumped up in Sam's lap. She shifted her daughter to a more comfortable position, and Jack came to stand behind them, his hand resting on his wife's shoulder.
"What could be more important then finding a way to stop these creatures?" Laura demanded.
"In a way, that's exactly what you will be doing."
Bottom of the World.
The man in the hat watched on the satellite relays as his life's work completed the task of cleansing the planet of the pesky humans. When they were mostly consumed, he'd activate the failsafe he'd designed into his pets. Most of the lizards would die. But a few would survive, safely thriving in the deepest depths. The only one that he could never reclaim had been taken to another world. No matter. It was sterile and no true danger to anything.
With a grin he watched his reptiles break into buildings and claim more lives. He'd taken on this project for his own purposes, not for the one who had praised his success. How amusing, that Baal had never really known just who he was dealing with.
Most of the world was under water and Baal couldn't be more delighted. The only human survivors were the handfuls that had managed to get to or had already lived in the high mountains. The devilish clever creatures had used every major fault line to cause the ocean and river levels to rise world wide and had eaten any human unlucky enough to be in their paths.
"You never did tell me what your plan was," Bastet complained behind him.
He turned away from the flooded streets below and smiled smugly. "A long term plan I have no intention of sharing."
She backed away, her dark eyes frightened. He assumed she was terrified of his audacity and complete success. Glass shattered behind him and his last sane thought as he slid down the reptilian throat was how it was going to feel to be digested over and over and over –
Atlantis. Pegasus Galaxy
Five years later
"How's Nim this morning?" Sam asked as she sat down next to Miles by the observation pool. She waved at a repair crew down the way. They waved back.
The young man glanced at her distractedly. He cupped some water and rolled it over his tanned skin. He'd taken to just wearing swimming trunks. "Nim likes it here."
"A whole ocean to himself." She smiled, settling her cover-up over her shoulders. "Can't say I blame him." Lightly she touched his arm. "How are you doing?"
"Okay." Self-consciously he touched the gills on his neck. He'd also developed a thin membrane over his eyes so he could see in the water and webs between his fingers and toes. Miles other changes were not visible, since it affected his DNA and healing abilities.
"Dr. Beckett tells me you seem to have stabilized." She hoped that would cheer him.
"No more weird changes?" He sounded hopeful.
"We hope not."
"Savannah calls me the Creature from the Black Lagoon." He grinned impishly.
"Have to remind Colonel Sheppard not to show her any more of his old SciFi movies."
Miles laughed at that. Nim's now adult-size head popped up out of the water.
"Still can't used to how big he is," Laura commented as she joined them. She had on a one-piece, dark blue bathing suit and a big floppy straw hat perched on her head.
"You aren't going to run tests are you?" Miles wanted to know.
"No." The marine biologist sighed. "No real point anymore."
"Bad back home, isn't it?"
"Yeah. It's bad." She reached out and rubbed under Nim's chin. He closed his eyes and purred contentedly.
"One good thing," Sam put in. "At least the Wraith stay away from us."
"Wouldn't you," Miles said, "if a big giant lizard ate one of your ships?"
The three shared a laugh over the memory. The incident must have circulated among the Wraith. There hadn't been a hive ship on the long-range scanner for a couple of years.
"Wish we could solve the problems on Earth as easily." Sam got up. "When the Deadalus returns this time, they won't be going back."
"Is General Landry coming?" Laura asked.
"And anyone else who wanted to come."
"Am I the only one like this?" Miles raised his hand.
"No," Laura reassured him as she kneeled next to him. "Rich swears he saw someone deep in the ocean when we went down in our homemade submersible." She didn't add they'd almost died in the attempt.
"But I can't be changed back." He dejectedly turned away.
They'd been down this road many times. Dr. Beckett was good with genetics, but even the matrix of this DNA mix still evaded him. "You know the answer to that," Sam reminded him. She didn't tell him what Caitlin was thinking of doing.
"Yeah. I do." He slipped down into the water. Nim dropped away and the two swam off.
"I feel sorry for him," Laura murmured, rising.
Sam glanced up as Caitlin strolled out to the pier. She'd grown up into a beautiful young woman.
"He's swimming, isn't he?" Caitlin shaded her eyes. She seemed unaware her purple bikini was attracting attention from the men making repairs farther down the pier.
"What did Dr. Beckett say?" Sam wanted to know.
"He doesn't like it, but if it's really what I want, he won't try and stop me." She smiled. "He even promised to monitor my progress so there aren't any surprises."
"There's no going back. You do realize that?" Sam just hoped Caitlin understood what she was doing.
Laura's eyes grew wide. "You can't be seriously thinking of –"
"I love Miles." Caitlin dove into the water. "I don't want him to be alone." She disappeared under the water.
"Are we going to regret that decision?" Laura looked at Sam.
She shook her head. "I have no idea."
Originally published in OF Dreams and Schemes #23, edited by Cathy Schlein, May 2008.
Author added a few editorial changes that do not appear in the zine, June 2009.