Disclaimer: We don't own Stargate: Atlantis.
Note: Written by Meagra Solace, Diabolical Pink Bunny and Hubby. Hubby helped quite a bit with his knowledge of superpowers. The Terrorist was with us during the conception time (and we were roasting marshmallows), but TT slept – again. Silver Pixie and Smiley is at it again.
This is Infinity's first foray into more serious fiction. Please let us know if it working for you, or if we should stick to crack. Remember: we'll do crack as well, we'd just like to branch out a bit.
"Incoming wormhole!" Chuck announced. Elizabeth Weir hovered nearby, aware that her flag team was out on an extremely dangerous mission under undesirable circumstances. From the start she had been opposed to sending the four of them out with the unresolved tension between them.
"Who is it?" she asked.
"Receiving SGA-1 IDC," the young man told her. She nearly sighed with relief.
"Lower the force field," she said. Moments later the first member of SGA-1 appeared. But not only did he appear: it was Rodney McKay; running. This had Elizabeth worried and she frowned. Rodney never ran if he could help it. In fact, she could see the same tension in Chuck where he sat to her right.
"Rodney, what's wrong?" she asked as she ran forward. By the time she had reached the bottom of the stairs, Rodney was disappearing around the corner. The only thing she got from him was a shout over his shoulder: "Can't talk now!"
Dumbfounded Elizabeth stood in the middle of the gate room; looking around. Then the gate rippled and Ronon appeared. But this was a very different Ronon from the one she had come to know.
The big Satedan marched through the gate with a mixture of bloodlust, anger and disgust written on his face – or at least from what she could make out beneath the green goo dripping from it. His shoulders were hunched, almost as if he was trying to create some distance between himself and his dripping, gooey wings. These he held at an angle away from his body as the viscous liquid dripped off the ends. Every now and then he tried to open his wings, but they made a sticky sound which seemed to disgust him even more. Somehow Elizabeth suspected Rodney had something to do with the big man's appearance.
Behind Ronon – rather a long way behind him but with a clearly demarked space between the pilot and the Athosian – Teyla and John Sheppard walked through the gate. Behind them the wormhole shut down. One more time Elizabeth asked: "What happened?"
Again she was to be disappointed. The only thing John had to say was: "First, he needs a bath!" The three of them disappeared around the same corner as Rodney had moments ago and once more Elizabeth found herself alone in the gate room.
Rodney was lying on the floor of the lab; completely worn out. Radek Zelenka wasn't in much better shape, but because of his mercury physiology he could push himself just that little further. These past three days none of them had been able to get much sleep. The scientists had tried to enhance the long-range sensors, and though they had been successful in theory, the enhancement had caused widespread power-outings throughout the city. For three days now everyone – marine and scientist alike – had been running through the city in an attempt to contain damages. Already the marines disliked the scientists messing with the city, but when the days had heaped up along with the casualties, the marines had started blaming the scientists for it. The scientists – on the other hand – blamed the marines for short-sightedness and the inability to appreciate the fact that everything they did was in an attempt to better everyone's lives.
But finally they stopped all the gaps in the grid and had power up and running. In fact, not only had they contained the damage; they had also managed to keep the enhancements to the sensors.
"O-oh," Radek suddenly said.
On the floor Rodney put his arm over his eyes and muttered: "I don't even want to hear it."
But Radek wasn't to be put off. "You're going to want to hear this," he said without turning around. Finally Rodney had to admit defeat and he pushed up into a sitting position.
"Okay, what is it?" he asked ungraciously.
"I think you would want to take a look at this," Radek announced. So Rodney got up and went to stand next to Radek.
"Okay, what am I looking at?" Rodney asked, but it was mostly rhetorical. On the big sensor-screen he could clearly see a Wraith ship headed towards a planet at the outer reaches of the sensors' capabilities. "What planet is that?" Rodney added. By now Radek knew when Rodney was being rhetorical and when to answer. He answered the second question.
"The Genii," he told Rodney. Yes, Radek had been correct: he definitely had had to hear this.
Rodney, Ronon, Teyla, John and Elizabeth were sitting around the big table in the conference room. Everyone was tired and everyone was just a little on edge.
"We have to help the Genii if we can," Teyla was saying. John turned to her.
"I think the Wraith can have the Genii," he drawled. Immediately Teyla's hackles rose. The Genii might have betrayed her and Atlantis, but she had been friends with them for far longer. Besides, they did have a tenuous alliance with the new Genii leader: Laden. "We will probably save their asses and they will just turn around and betray us when it is all over," the military commander of Atlantis told his teammate.
"Who are we to choose who lives and who dies?" Teyla diplomatically told him, but it was obvious that her patience was slipping.
"We're not choosing who lives and who dies, we're simply allowing nature to take its course," John answered. "Besides," he added, "if it hadn't been for Rodney's new sensors, you wouldn't even know about it."
"Exactly!" Teyla triumphantly exclaimed. "What is the use of having the technology if we do not make use of the advantage it gives us?"
"Yes," John sneered. "But really, the Genii..?"
"We cannot save everyone from the Wraith," Ronon suddenly interjected. Slowly, her lips slightly parted, Teyla turned towards the big man.
"When had you started sanctioning anyone getting culled by the Wraith?" she asked him, confused.
Ronon played with the knife he had in his big hands for a moment before answering. "Since the Genii had betrayed us repeatedly," he answered. Teyla could not believe this. Of all the people she had counted on to take her side, Ronon had been the one she had thought would be first in line.
"I say we have to save the Genii," Rodney suddenly piped up. As one everyone looked over at him.
"You will save them?" Teyla asked; even more confused.
"Yes," Rodney answered. "They are the only source of nuclear weapons in the galaxy and besides us they are by far the strongest power out there against the Wraith." He looked around as if he thought his explanation was the coup de grace that would end the discussion. Nobody was impressed.
"You would save them only for the technological advantage they can give you?" Teyla asked incredulously.
"At least I am on your side!" he said, looking injured.
"You do not care about the people, this is just about the science for you," she accused.
"Yes," Rodney suddenly said, his temper snapping. "The Genii are such nice people I would go out of my way to save them from the Wraith!" he told her; irony dripping from every word.
"People, please," Elizabeth suddenly interrupted the flaring tempers. "We still have..." she trailed off and looked at Rodney.
"Twenty hours," he told her.
"Twenty hours," she repeated as she looked around the room. "Until then I would suggest you go and find me some more options," she informed the group. "Dismissed," she added when it looked as if everyone would ignore her command. But in the end they got up and stormed out of the room.
The lab was fraught with tension. Radek looked over the rim of his glasses at the young scientists huddled together. It was amazing how many of them were in their early twenties.
One of the younger men turned towards him. "Doctor Zelenka, you have to convince him that they have to save the Genii!" the young man begged him.
Radek lifted his head slightly. "No! If you want to talk to him about it, that is your responsibility!" he told the young man in particular and the group in general.
"But, Doctor!" one of the young women started. Then she fell silent and Radek could see the silence dropping over the entire group like a cloak. Slowly he turned around and looked at the door they were all staring at. In walked Rodney; freshly showered and a cup of coffee in his hand.
"So, Doctor McKay..." the big-eyed young woman asked. It always amazed Radek how oblivious Rodney was to the hero-worship of some of his younger colleagues. In fact, Rodney could probably have an affair with any one of them and they would feel honoured.
Rodney looked up and Radek saw the spark in his eyes. "What?" Rodney asked.
"Are we going to save the Genii?" the young woman asked the dreaded question. It has been almost three hours since the meeting, but they have not heard anything concerning the outcome.
Another spark lit Rodney's eyes for a moment. Then his temper visibly snapped. "You know, going to save the Genii will not be a team-effort that will include you! The lot of you will just sit around twiddling your thumbs. Instead it will be me going over to the Wraith ship and putting my life on the line! Then I will have to be the one that will need to come up with a plan to stop the ship and then, when I get back, nobody would even notice the work I've done. Instead the military goons will make snide comments and accusations, not show any appreciation!" He glared at the group of scientists. "Everyone expects miracles from me but you never take even a moment to consider the cost!"
In a huff the man turned around and stormed out of the door; back the way he had just come.
Again the scientific corpse turned towards Radek.
He looked at a table as he spoke; lifting his shoulders. "I guess we will not be going to help the Genii," he said. Then he turned and followed his friend.
"Rodney, wait," Radek called. Rodney waited and the Czech caught up to his friend. As he drew level, Radek glared at Rodney. "You know, you do not need to always be mean to them."
Rodney glared at his friend and suddenly Radek wondered if that was the description that described their relationship. "The day they are willing to put their lives on the line will be the day I might treat them as equals."
Meanwhile John was having as bad a time with the marines as Rodney had with the scientists. He had taken them on a run through the city, but every now and then one of them would jog up next to him and always they had the same question: we're not really thinking of saving the Genii? Are we?
When they reached the long bridge John usually ran with Ronon, he finally snapped. And because he had been training with Ronon he was in much better condition than the average marine. So he decided to teach them a lesson. Because the bridge was so narrow, they could only pass two abreast at a time. But with a sudden spurt of energy he pulled away from the group. Within seconds he had left them behind – especially as they were still trying to decide what to do about the situation.
Minutes later John stopped for breath and decided to wait for the struggling marines. When they reached him only half a minute later, he had already caught his breath. Usually this stunt would have left him in a better mood, but today this only left him feeling more irritated: especially as he had thought he had left them further behind than just a few seconds. And in an attempt to purge his irritation, he sent the entire squad on another run while he stalked off to the mess hall for a nice slice of pie and a cool drink.
As days went, this day was more 'stalking by' day than a 'flying by' day. And as with most 'stalking by' days, this one still had a number of unwelcome surprises up its sleeve. If this day had been a person it would have been one of those men in coats – and nothing else – standing on the street corner and first offering you stolen items and then flashing you when you refuse to buy any.
This day was a disaster.
The next surprise was announced in the familiar tone of Chuck in a half-panic: "Unscheduled off-world activation!"
"Who is it?" Elizabeth asked. By this time she was starting to feel like a broken bearing. Everyone around her had chosen sides and had left her in the middle carrying more weight than she had the energy for after this past week.
"Oh, it is the SGC!" Chuck almost sighed with relief. But his relief was her tension. Earth never contacted them outside the normal times unless there was an emergency. That was the first way you knew it was an emergency.
"They sent us an encrypted file," Chuck continued. Elizabeth nodded.
"Send it to my laptop," she told him, already heading for her office.
Half an hour later she sat back in her chair and rubbed her eyes. John and Rodney had just left her office and the meeting she had had with them had not gone as well as she had hoped, but better than she had feared. At least nobody got hurt and nothing had been broken.
The message from earth had been the IOA informing Elizabeth to stop stalling and send a team to save the Genii. The reasons stated had sounded much like those given by Rodney earlier – a fact not lost on John. Immediately after hearing them, he had turned and accused Rodney of sending the message behind his back. Fortunately Elizabeth had been expecting this and was able to inform her military leader that the person that had sent it had been Kavanagh. John was still pissed at Rodney about it, but that probably saved the other man from a trip to the infirmary. As it was Rodney had sparked at the accusation and Elizabeth had briefly wondered who would win in an all-out fight between the two of them. She sincerely hoped she never had to find out.
She was still rubbing her eyes when the next crisis arose. Without thinking she leapt up and ran out of her office. Outside there was screaming and she could recognize two of the voices. One was that of John, the other sounded like Major Lorne. A third voice tried to overrule the other two and as she leapt down the stairs she recognized it as belonging to Colonel Caldwell of the Daedalus. Obviously he had just beamed down from his ship and had caught her people just as John and Rodney had been leaving her office. Where Lorne had come from she was not sure, but he seemed as angry as Sheppard.
"What's this?" she asked; keeping a tight rein on her anger and shoving her tiredness deep down behind concern, relief and abused diplomacy.
"Doctor Weir," Caldwell said in that overbearing superiority of his. "I have been asked to ensure you carry out the orders given by the IOA as well as informing you I will be leading this expedition," he said as he handed her a folder.
She looked over at John and Lorne. No wonder they were angry.
"I do not remember that being part of the orders relayed half an hour ago," she told Caldwell as she scanned the file. "Nor does it say anything about you leading the mission in this file," she added.
He glared at her and she decided she was not up to a face-off today. She knew if she tried she would win, but she was tired and irritated and wound too tight for it. If it came to a face-off she just might say something she was going to regret later.
As she stood thinking – seeing as she needed to resolve this quickly – Elizabeth heard the unique and familiar snikt as John slowly unsheathed his claws. She glanced over at him and saw the unmistakable glint on his adamantium claws. A single drop of blood fell to the floor as the blades slowly retracted again. Fortunately it seemed Caldwell had not recognised the sound. Perhaps she was more attuned to it than most after all these years.
"Look, Colonel Caldwell," she said as she intentionally stepped in front of John. She hoped John got his temper under control soon. "Ever since the Wraith had caught onto the fact that we sneak on board their ships using a cloaked puddle jumper, they have been guarding the docking bays. It is getting to be almost impossible to sneak onto – and especially off of – a Wraith ship. We will need you and the Daedalus to be ready to extract our team if anything goes wrong. In fact," she added, hoping her quick lie will work, "it would be best if you could drop my team" she stressed the 'my' "off on the Wraith ship."
Caldwell glared at her, but as Lorne slowly reached up and fiddled with the beads he carried around his neck, the Colonel backed off. Caldwell was not powerful enough to win even against the Major.
"Very well," he conceded. "We will leave within the hour." With that he tapped his earpiece and seconds later disappeared in a flash of light.
Elizabeth sighed. She really wished this day would end. And didn't Caldwell realise her people needed sleep before going to play with the Wraith?