Forging bonds

Extracts from the Merlin Dictionary 2006 publication.

Shift

Noun ~ Person born with two physical forms and the ability to shift between these forms. One form is always human and the other is an animal form. The ability to shift will usually manifest around puberty. Only one out of every two thousand people are Shifts.

Ranger

Noun ~ Person with heightened senses and metal abilities. Rangers are born with normal level senses but their senses and mental abilities increase as they age. By the time they reach their late teens they will have come into their full potential. Rangers also have the ability to sense the energy signatures of people around them. The range of this ability differs from individual to individual. Only one out of every five hundred people are Rangers.

Prime

Noun ~ High powered Ranger with superior senses and mental abilities. Usually have a high IQ. Also have limited telepathy and empathy. Only one out of every one thousand Rangers are Prime.

Legendary

Noun ~ High powered Shift. Unlike a normal Shift, a Legendary's transform shape is always a mythical creature. They also have genius level IQ's and limited telepathy and empathy. Legendary's are usually not very social. Only one out of every one thousand Shifts are Legendary's.

Bonding

Verb ~ Bonding takes place between a ranger and a shift. A mental bond is formed that ties the two parties together till death. Bonded couples share a very limited empathic bond allowing their partners to feel their emotions when under stress or intense concentration. Only Prime/Legendary bonds have been documented to have a telepathic link as well.

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Lt. Colonel John Sheppard of the USAF stalked through the halls of the (formerly lost) city of Atlantis with a frown on his face. That slightly off kilter feeling that had from time to time bothered the Prime level Ranger was back. It had bothered him on odd occasions ever since he had sat down in the control chair in Antarctic. He growled as he stepped out onto an empty balcony. He took a few deep breaths to calm and center himself before he extended his senses, trying to find whatever was disturbing his equilibrium.

Closing his eyes he let his mind reach out, letting it spread out over the sleeping city. In his mind's eye, the mundane humans sparkled like faint blue fairy lights scattered over the city. Major Evan Lorne and Lt. Laura Cadman, the other two earth rangers on the base, glowed with a bright green light while their bonded Shifts, Doctors Parris and Carson Beckett, blazed in a bright yellow glow.

Lorne and Parris were in their room, the slightly muted glow of their minds a clear indication that they were sleeping. John nodded to himself; they had a mission in the morning so it was not surprising that Lorne had managed to get his Shift into bed at a decent hour.

Carson on the other hand was still in the infirmary; even though his shift had ended more that three hours ago. Sheppard snorted, he would need to speak to Cadman about that. It was her duty as a Ranger to make sure that her bonded Shift did not over work himself. John knew that it was difficult for the young woman, their paring was relatively young and both of them were still adjusting. And Carson Beckett was not an easy person to manage. He took his duties as Chief Medical Officer seriously.

Taking another deep breath he slowly breathed out through his mouth. He could sense no threat. There was nothing obvious causing his disquiet. He opened his eyes and stared out over the moonlit ocean surrounding the city. The still dark waters with just touches of reflected silver were surprisingly soothing. He let his mind wander, hoping that if he didn't think too hard about it the feeling would resolve itself.

After about a half hour of blankly staring out into the dark night he shook his head. The feeling was still there. It was like an itch between his shoulder blades that was just out of reach. Opening his mind again he slowly went through the people in the city. He was half way through when it hit him.

The realization of what it was literally knocked him breathless. He leaned forward over the balcony railing, his hands gripping the edge as he gasped for breath. He could not believe it. How could he have been so blind not to have realised it before.

Swearing to himself he stormed to the nearest transporter heading for the control room. As he entered the room he nodded at the technician sitting at one of the control stations. This late at night the room was eerily quiet with only the small night staff on duty.

Walking over to the correct station he activated the city's life sign detector. Noting the small dots on the screen he mentally ticked them off with the map in his head. He smiled grimly when he found one lone dot on the screen in front of him that did not match with any on the mental signatures he had sensed. "Got you" he whispered softly to himself.

"Is every thing all right Colonel?" The technician sitting at the DHD asked John.

"Yeah, sure. Just checking out a theory." John answered with a lazy 'no worries here' smile as he switched off the screen. "Have a nice evening." He shot over his shoulder as he casually sauntered out of the control room. Reaching the transporter he took it to the location nearest to where he had seen the solitary life sign that did not match up.

The location he was heading to was in a part of the city that had been explored and declared safe but that was not in use.

The hallway he stepped into as he left the transporter was only partially lit. The light was spilling out of an open doorway, a little way down the hall. He stealthily crept down the hall to the open door. His ranger enhanced senses picked up the soft sounds normal human ears would never have heard. What he did hear didn't make a lot of sense. He could hear a soft clicking sound almost like claws against glass. There was also the soft rustling sound of feathers.

Reaching the door he peeked into the room before silently slipping in unseen. Hiding behind a console he managed to get a good look around the room. It was huge, almost as big as the jumper bay, with a vaulted ceiling. It was brightly lit and he could clearly see large scorch marks against the walls. Closer to the ceiling of the room a few panels had been removed and wires and crystals were exposed and hanging out. Some of the wires were clearly melted and more than one of the crystals were clouded and cracked. But what was probably the most striking feature to John was the large gryphon sitting in the middle of the room surrounded by tools, crystals and pieces of equipment.

The gryphon had his wings tightly folded to its back and was holding a soldering iron in one hand and what appeared to be a control chip in the other. The talons on the creature's 'hands' were needle sharp and glittered like polished onyx in the light of the room. The colouring of the gryphon's feathers was a mixture of golden browns and metallic bronzes and sparkled with what almost appeared to be a dusting of gold. John gripped the edge of the console he was hiding behind and took a steadying breath. The creature was one of the most beautiful things he had ever laid eyes on. The azure blue eyes had flecks of gold and cat-like pupils. The tips of his crest and ear tufts were pure metallic gold and raised and flattened as the creature worked, a clear indication of his concentration. The tail lashing behind him in irritation resembled that of a lion.

After a few minutes the gryphon put down the soldering iron and picked up two undamaged crystals. He slowly rose to his hind legs. Carefully stepping over the equipment lying on the floor, he walked over to the wall. Nearing the wall, the gryphon stopped and spread his wings. The wingspan was huge and the leading primaries were almost as long as John himself. Giving a few slow beats the gryphon gently lifted off the ground and flew up towards the ceiling with slow and steady wing beats to where one of the open panels was.

John watched in amazement and admiration as the creature managed to hover long enough to replace the now repaired control chip. He could not believe the incredible finesse and dexterity the large creature exhibited. After the control chip was replaced the gryphon inserted the two new crystals and refastened the loose wires. He gave his work a once over before he glided away from the wall to hover in the middle of the room. The gryphon landed lightly and shook his head and sneezed when his wing beats swirled up dust from the floor. He stood on his hind legs looking around for a second before he dropped down. Making his way to a pile of tools and equipment he picked up a wristwatch lying hidden amongst the implements scattered in a loose circle. After glancing at it, the gryphon gave the room another look over before he closed his eyes and started to glow. Slowly the golden glow grew brighter before gradually dimming. A minute later standing in the same place where the gryphon had been was a bare foot and topless Dr. Rodney McKay. His dog tags stood out sharply against his pale skin.

Gingerly stepping over broken crystal shards he walked to one of the consoles and picked up his data pad that was attached to the console. He fiddled with it for a few minutes huh-ing every now and then. Finally he made a few decisive jabs at the tablet before he ducked down under the console and removed the cables connecting the data pad to the console. Getting up again with a soft moan he rubbed his back as a flash of pain briefly crossed his features. Straightening he turned and stared out over the room mentally ticking things off before he gave a decisive nod and headed back to the middle of the room where his toolbox and the rest of his stuff laid.

"Well that's enough for tonight." Rodney said as he started to pack away his tools. "I can't believe those idiots didn't check before they rerouted the power. If I have to do one more late night repair because of their stupidity, they are going to wish they had never heard of Atlantis." Pulling on his shoes he looked around for his top and jacket. Getting dressed he put on his watch, placed his earwig on and headed out the door mentally switching off the light. All the while still muttering about punishment for erring scientists.

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John waited for a few more minutes after he had heard the transporter activate before he stood up from his hiding place. Not even with his ranger eyesight could he see anything in the all pervasive darkness that had filled the room in the wake of Rodney's departure. Mentally nudging the lights back up, he looked around the room.

He slowly made his way to the centre of the room. Standing in the middle of the room he turned in a slow circle trying to wrap his mind around what he had seen. As he lifted his eyes to the ceiling he could still see the burn marks, but the dull lifeless crystals had been replaced and he could feel the hum of power running through the walls. The dead spot that he had felt when he had entered the room was now also merrily humming again.

Gradually lowering his eyes he let his gaze swept over the area again. He stopped when he saw something glitter in a small gap between two consoles. Gracefully he walked over to it, his feet not making a single sound as he lightly stepped over broken crystals. Upon reaching the object that had caught his attention he knelt and carefully picked up a feather. It was one of Rodney's gryphon feathers. It was the size of his hand and he decided that it must be a body feather. It was a dark rich brown with delicate stripes of bronze blending into the brown. Holding it up to the light he twirled it lightly in his hand, watching bemused as it sparkled with a faint golden shimmer.

He slowly got to his feet and headed out of the room his gaze still locked on the feather in his hand. Absently he thought off the lights just as he entered the transporter.

Later he couldn't remember the trip back to his quarters. He was emotionally and mentally numb. He placed the feather gently on the table next to his bed before he stripped off his clothes and headed for his bathroom. For once he didn't take a gleeful pleasure in the way the city responded to him as he stepped into the shower, the water running at just the right temperature. He slowly lathered up some of the body wash, but not even the soothing scent of the herb infused soap could penetrate the cold numbness that had settled in his mind. Slowly he rinsed off the soap letting the warm water fall over him. He stood under the water long enough for his skin to become pruned. Turning off the water he picked up a large towel and dried himself off.

He got dressed and climb into bed all the while still feeling shell shocked. He lay on his back his arms crossed behind his head staring up into the darkness that obscured his room. For the first time since he had entered that room and saw Rodney did he allowed himself to think and to feel.

Dr. Rodney McKay PhD. PhD. PhD.; egotistical, sarcastic, condescending, gorgeous, arrogant, certified genius, his friend and team mate was a Shift. But not just a Shift, oh no he was a Legendary. John ground his teeth and shook his head, how could he not have realised this. He was a fucking Prime for Christ's sake and he did not see this coming. Scrubbing his face with one hand he closed his eyes. He had worked with the man for more than a year now and not once had he suspected anything. But he now knew where that nagging feeling had been coming from. He had never sensed Rodney. For all that he knew the mental signatures of all of the command staff and all of the first year expedition members, he had never picked up on McKay's signature and he hadn't even noticed it.

For a moment he felt like hitting himself over the head with something. He. Was. Such. An. Idiot.

Letting his mind wander he realised that this did explain a few things. Although there were few legendaries around at any given time, gryphons were rare. It was said that there was never more than one or two gryphons per century. The last known gryphon was Albert Einstein. John raked his memory trying to recall history lessons learned at school. Before Einstein it was Mozart and then there was of course Isaac Newton and probably the most famous of all the gryphons: Leonardo da Vinci.

He suddenly swallowed thickly, God to be bonded to a Shift like that.

For the first time in years did John allowed himself to think about what he had always wanted and what he had known he would never have.

His mother had been a low level Ranger and when she had gotten pregnant his entire family had held their collective breaths. When he was born and it was confirmed that yes he was a Ranger it had upset his father's plans greatly. His father had never planned to have a son who was also a Ranger. No, he had wanted a Harvard graduate, someone he could groom to take over his business empire. As John had grown and his abilities had increased his father had apparently changed his mind about his Ranger son and had started introducing young Shifts from influential families to John in the hope that he would bond to someone that would increase the family's social standing. When it became clear that John would be a Prime level Ranger his father was torn between pride and displeasure. For once again John did not comply with the plans that his father had been laid out for him.

As a Prime John could literally bond to any Shift no matter how strong but it was also true that most Primes never bonded unless it was to a Legendary. And since Primes outnumber Legendaries four to one, his chances of ever bonding were small. He had tried for a long time to please his father but after the disaster with Nancy he had packed up his things and joined the air force at the age of 22.

His thoughts drifted back to Rodney. He would admit that he found McKay attractive. He had even before he had known about his status as a Legendary Shift. But he had never acted on the attraction because to all appearances' it had seemed that Rodney was mundane and straight. But now, John licked his lips. Now the attraction was back and far stronger than anything he had ever felt.

To bond to one that was his equal. That was the dream of every Prime. But the problem was that Gryphons didn't bond, they were as solitary as they were intelligent. John adjusted himself as he started to harden at the thought of Rodney as his. The trick would be to convince Rodney that this was something that he wanted and not just something that John wanted.

John shifted again and pushed down his boxers to expose himself. Running a hand over his hardening cock he smiled and stroked slowly as a plan started to form in his mind. Grasping his erection more firmly he started to pump faster letting the pleasure build. It would take careful planning and meticulous observation but if he was patient he would get what he wanted, namely one Dr. Rodney McKay. And no-one was going to stand in his way. With that thought firmly in mind he came with a shout of pleasure.