The sun was just rising over the horizon, making the ocean glint with pink and orange hues. It was beautiful and mesmerising enough that one would consider they could be on any ocean on Earth, silently enjoying the view. But Harry knew he wasn't on any ocean on Earth. He was on a planet in another galaxy, light-years away from anything that was familiar.
A tray almost silently slipping onto the table opposite from him drew Harry's attention from the sight of the blazing sun rising over the horizon. Well, Harry mentally corrected, almost everything was unfamiliar here. Except his companions. The people of Atlantis were quickly becoming a community. Harry smiled as Carson slid quietly into the seat across from him and got a small grin and friendly nod in return.
Harry swallowed the tea he was sipping and wiped his mouth on a napkin. "You're up early. Got the first shift of the day in the infirmary?"
Carson picked up his toast, considering it. "Aye." He took a bite off the corner of the buttered slice. Mumbling around the food, he stated, "It's not as if there is any real end to shifts here as such."
Harry smirked. "Yeah, well, I guess that is the pay-off for being in the most amazing place. I never would have imagined myself here if someone had asked me a few months ago where I was hoping my career would take me."
"And where did you think that your career was taking you before being recruited to Atlantis?"
Both Carson and Harry turned their heads at the sound of a new voice in their discussion. Harry grinned as Dan and Zack slouched into chairs on either side of him. "Well, I was working at the Pentagon. So, I guess I thought that I would have a nice cushy desk job for the rest of my life."
Zack frowned playfully. "Harry, we all know that you are not the desk job kind of guy. You work best when you are doing something active."
"I have to agree with him, lad. You seem happy when you are doing something. I can't imagine you sat behind a desk for the rest of your life." Carson chewed his toast for a few minutes in silence, before looking at the men either side Harry. "I've just remembered. Now that the gene therapy has worked on Dr McKay, Dr Weir has given me the go-ahead to treat some others who said before we left Earth that they would volunteer." Carson finished his food and wiped his hands on his napkin. "You two are on my list."
Zack's grin got wider. "That's great, Doc! I've been waiting for months for that therapy. When can I get it done?"
Carson smiled as Dan nodded enthusiastically. "I have some spare time this morning. Give me a few hours to clear it with Dr Weir and Major Sheppard, and I'll radio you when I'm ready."
Harry rose from his seat. "You guys grab the food?"
Dan nodded and, seeing Carson's confused face, explained. "We are going to spar and meditate in the gym. None of us like to do that on a full stomach, so we eat when we are done."
"I'll see you later, Carson." Harry gave the Scot a small smile that got larger as he was walking out of the mess hall entrance and he heard Carson shout that he hoped it wasn't in his infirmary with an injury.
The sparring room was empty at that time of the morning as the door opened automatically as Harry walked towards it. Harry really loved advanced technology. Sure, they had automatic sensor doors on Earth, but here they were all operated on thought and intention. Harry was accustomed to things happening on just will alone – it was how magic worked. The Magical community on Earth were making rapid advancements in combining their mental capabilities with pre-existing Muggle technology and had even started to advance new technologies themselves. It was a far cry from how things were just a few years before, where the most advanced pieces of technology were old cameras and radios.
Harry slipped his shoes off and sat down in the centre of the room. He felt the multi-coloured light warm his face as it glimmered and glittered through the amazing stained glass windows high on one wall of the room. Pulling his socks off, balling them up and throwing them over towards where he had dumped his shoes, he took deep breaths as he prepared for the ritual meditation that he and the others did both before and after a sparring sessions if the head enough time and no emergencies occurred.
Closing his eyes, Harry blocked out the sounds of the others as they prepared themselves and sat around the room. Harry took deep breaths and concentrated on feeling free and calm. Once he was breathing deeply and was almost disconnected from the world around him, Harry allowed himself to immerse his consciousness within the mental representation of his magic. He felt the warmth and power flow through every part of his mind and allowed it to gradually seep outward through his physical body. Harry forced himself to gradually reconnect with his surroundings, feeling the city and the people within it with his magic.
Harry could feel the activity in the tower around him. He could sense the other scientists and marines as they went about their everyday duties in the mythical city of Atlantis. They were almost like a hive of bees, all activity and energy. The city itself pulsed with energy in the tower, constantly changing as the needs of those inhabiting it also changed as they went about their business. Harry could sense the other towers close by, shut down but not completely dead. They were just waiting to power up like the primary tower. Harry pulled himself back and shrank back out of the glowing ball of energy that represented his power.
Harry opened his eyes and saw the others slowly do the same. Raising an eyebrow and receiving nods in return, Harry rose calmly to his feet. Zack began to limber up and stretch as Dan backed off to the side to watch. Harry stretched himself a few times to prepare himself to spar after the time spent relaxing in meditation and nodded to Nate as he slipped in with a sheepish grin on his face. Harry knew he had the late patrol duty last night and didn't begrudge him extra time in bed.
Zack's first punch was sudden, but not unexpected. Harry had spotted the moment Zack's body had tensed slightly despite him trying to appear relaxed. Harry stepped out the way at the last minute and grabbed the arm as it flew past his face. Turning sideways, Harry slammed his full weight into Zack and brutally knocked him down whilst he was off balance. Aiming a kick at his ribs as he was on the floor, Harry commented to Zack, "You need to work on your footing when you do offensive moves."
Zack grunted in response, winded slightly from his impact with the floor and having to roll out the way of Harry's kick. He pulled himself swiftly to his feet and took a carefully stance. He and Harry circled each other for a quick moment, before Harry swung his fist out towards Zack's face, forcing Zack into a defensive position. Harry kept pushing and pushing forward with his sustained attack on his friend. Zack managed to get a few hits in, but Harry was ruthless in his onslaught.
It ended with Zack managing to slip around behind Harry and get him in a lock, but Harry threw his elbow back and Zack couldn't moved out the way fast enough. When he heard a grunt of pain as his elbow connected, Harry twisted his entire body and got Zack on the floor under him, his arm twisted up his back.
"Jesus Harry. I give." Zack's voice was muffled as his face was squashed against the floor. Harry grinned and let him up, pulled him to his feet and swiftly letting him go.
Harry's reply was stopped, however, by a soft voice in the doorway. "You are very talented."
Harry put a neutral look on his face and turned towards their observer. He saw that it was the petite Athosian woman who had been asked to join Major Sheppard's Gateteam , Teyla. He had heard many things about the woman, but had no personal experience in dealing with her. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. More than Zack did I imagine."
Teyla bowed her head in acknowledgement. "I am Teyla."
Harry gave a careful bow back, ensuring he got the correct depth. Bowing was the form of greeting in the magical world, and not doing so correctly could cause insult. Teyla was the leader of her people and deserved a certain level of respect from Harry. "I am Harry Potter. This is Lieutenant Nathaniel Brannon, Lieutenant Zachary Ortiz and Captain Daniel Sokolov."
"It is a pleasure to meet you all." Teyla gave them a radiate smile as the marines waved and nodded as they were introduced. Her dark gaze returned to Harry. "I am always looking for new sparring partners for myself and the students I teach. I would be honoured if you would consider joining us one morning."
Harry pulled his sock and shoes back on. "It would be an honour. Just let me know when and I'll see what I can do." Harry stood up and accepted the water Nate thrust at him. "It would be good to learn a new style of fighting."
"What kind were you just doing?"
Nate gave a casual shrug. "It was mixed martial arts. We all have different experience with different fighting styles, so we combined them. We have been sparring together since before we left Earth."
"There are loads of different kinds of martial arts on Earth. We just picked the best bits of them." Zack added, wiping his head with a small towel.
"I'm sure you could teach my students a great deal." Teyla gave them all another radiant smile.
Harry picked up his water and the towel Dan had thoughtfully brought along for him. "Well, I've got to get to work. But it was an honour to meet you and I'm sure we can all teach other a great deal in the future." Harry gave another careful bow of his head and left the room.
Teyla watched him go, a curious look on her face. She turned to the marines, who were putting on their shoes and gathering their stuff. "I do not mean any insult, but I have only spent a short amount of time among your people. And whilst there are so many different people on your expedition, none of them are quite like Harry."
Dan gave her a soft smile. "You were wondering if Harry is always like that."
Teyla nodded. "I have traded with many people on many worlds. But none have ever been so….formal."
"On Earth, we have many different cultures, all as different as the next. Harry comes from an old family in an old culture. He told me once that he was taught strict etiquette for almost every situation, and it is hard to break a habit ingrained in." Zack laced his shoes up and looked up at the small Athosian woman. "Harry has his quirks, but he is a good person – a good friend. He just needs some time to warm up to you."
"He seems younger than any other I have seen here."
"Nate shrugged. "He is the youngest by several years. He is just 18. But he is brilliant – a genius. He wouldn't be here if he wasn't."
It was hours later and Harry was still working on the same damn interface program. He was sure it was created for the sole purpose of driving him insane. Not that he was completely sane to begin with – all the people on the Atlantis expedition had to be a little bit crazy to agree to leave their lives (and planet) to go on a top secret government mission to a galaxy far, far away. Harry rubbed his eyes and glared at the program. He knew that the ancient systems were so much more advanced than human technology, so his patience was extended a great deal further than it would be otherwise.
Harry ran through the coding from the beginning again, sure that his problem was just a small mistake or something typed wrong. He was only just starting to scowl when he found no mistakes, when a beeping interrupted the swear-tirade running through his head. Harry wiped the scowl off his face and swivelled his chair to face the open doorway. He found a soldier politely waiting in the doorway.
"What can I do for you, Sergeant Bates?"
Bates took a step forward. "I was heading past your lab, otherwise I would have radioed you. There is a physical fitness test in half an hour for all civilians who will be going offworld."
"But I won't be going off world."
"There are no immediate plans, but you may be required to go offworld if a piece of technology can't be easily of safely brought back through the Gate. Dr Weir provided me with a list of everyone that has to pass the fitness test before they can go through the Gate."
"Ok." Harry closed all his active work and locked his machines. "I'll go change and meet you in the gym, I presume?"
"Yes." Bates left with a curt nod. Harry looked at the empty doorway for a moment, before exiting the lab to go to his room to change back into his gym clothes. It only took him a few minutes to change and he spent the time on the walk down to the gym wondering what the test would be like. Before he had left Earth, it had been a requirement to have physical, psychological and fitness tests. But the fitness test was just to ensure a bare minimum of fitness. This test would obviously be more extensive, but Harry wasn't worried. He knew he wasn't unfit.
Harry got to the gym and saw maybe a dozen or so other scientists, including a scowling Carson. Harry made his way over to the Scotsman and greeted him cheerfully. "Hey Carson. I see you've been dragged here for some torture by exercise as well."
"Aye lad. And I'm not looking forward to it, I can tell you."
Harry saw the doctor level a glare at Bates' back and smiled. "How did the gene therapy this morning go?"
Carson continued glaring at the soldier, but answered Harry. "It went well. Both of your marine friends took to the gene and seem to have good control over Ancient technology now. I'd say they have a knack for it."
Harry grinned to himself. He was immensely glad for his friends. Both he and Nate had the gene naturally, but he knew that Dan and Zack really wanted to be able to control technology like they did. The success of the therapy now meant that all four of them had the gene.
"Right, that's everyone." Bates came to stand in front of the crowd of scientists, a few marines standing behind him. "You all know why you are here. You need to pass this fitness test if you are to be allowed offworld. It is nice and simple. You have to run a set path through the city under a certain time. We are going to number you all and stagger your start so we don't have a large group trying to get down the corridors. I will tell you if you are in time when you cross the finish line. Any questions?"
"What if we do not finish in time?"
Bates nodded. "If you do not pass, you will be required to attend the training sessions that will soon be starting for all civilians that want to go offworld. You will only be allowed offworld once you have passed the test." Bates looked around for anymore questions. When he saw that there were none, he continued. "Right. Smyth and Parsons will be giving you your order to leave. You all have the standard watches that are part of the uniform. When you set off, you will start the timer on there. Smyth will stay and make sure none of you cheat and don't start the timer."
Bates left the room and Parsons, a smiling blonde marine, came around with numbered stickers. Harry found himself as the very last number, number 16, and took a seat. He gave Carson a wave, who had found himself first and didn't seem happy about it. Harry soon got bored waiting for his turn to set off and began to fidget. He stretched and warmed up as the number of scientist slowly dwindled in the room. Once the last scientist had left with a scowl, Harry eagerly loped to the doorway and did a few last minute stretches.
"Okay, you can go." Smyth smiled at Harry as he started his stop watch and leisurely jogged through the corridors, following the post-it notes that were stuck to the walls as makeshift path markers. Harry enjoyed running. He had enough practice in his childhood and it was an easy way to keep fit during the War. He had made sure that his training always including running. Harry pushed himself to run at a fairly fast pace, but knew he would average a good time. He wasn't pushing himself incredibly hard – he knew he could go faster, but knew that at the pace he was running, he would pass the test.
Harry barely noticed as he dodged around people in the corridors. He concentrated on take steady breaths. The course was shorter than he expected and he found himself stopping in front of Bates. He clicked his watch to stop the timer and held his wrist out for Bates to see.
Bates wrote down the time on his clipboard and glanced up at Harry's number to make sure he got the right name to write the time next to. He saw the 16 and froze. "You were the last to leave?"
"Yes, I was the last number." Harry raised an eyebrow. "Is everything ok?"
"Yeah. You're just the first to arrive is all. I guess I wasn't expecting any time like this from the scientists. You have beaten the time of some of my marines."
Harry cleared his throat. "I like jogging."
Bates looked at him for a minute, before nodding slowly. "Well, it is safe to say that you have passed."
"Thanks." Harry nodded to the marine. "I'm going to go and shower and get back to work."
Harry pulled his tablet closer to him and kept his eyes trained on the text floating across the screen even as he drank his near-scalding cup of tea. Harry took a small bite of sandwich, swiftly catching a piece of tomato before it could hit the screen. Harry frowned as he tried to decipher the text and gave himself a mental pat on the back as he got the right translations. He was searching the database for information on the Wraith and had been disappointed by what he had found. He had found plenty of information on their physiology and technology, but nearly nothing on their culture or beliefs. He managed to find a database that was just about extensive enough to allow him to learn the written language of the Wraith and a few files on the spoken communication of them so he could probably grasp the spoken language at a basic level.
Harry was just moving onto more complex pieces of Wraith writing when he sensed someone stood next to his table. Harry had gone to dinner after finally finding his issue with that damn interface program for a minor system and discovered that everyone else had the same idea. The mess hall was busy and Harry had only been able to get a small table right in the middle of the room. He had blocked out the entire noise of the room as he was working, but as he focused on the person stood next to him, all the noise washed back over him.
Harry blinked and observed the person before him. It was a marine, clutching a closed laptop and watching Harry with a nervous and hopefully expression. It was an incongruous look on a marine's face and confused Harry.
"Can I help you marine?" Harry kept his expression bland, but raised an eyebrow in question.
"Are you the computer geek?"
Harry's other eyebrow joined its brother up his forehead. "I'm the resident expert in computers, if that is what you mean."
The marine's face paled slightly as he caught the sharpness in Harry's gaze at the word 'geek'. "Right. I'm sorry. I know that I shouldn't call you a geek or nerd or anything like that. Sorry!"
Harry allows his stoic expression to relax slightly. "It's ok. It wouldn't be the first time I've heard it. And I've definitely heard worst. What can I do for you?"
The marine let out a breath and thrust his laptop at Harry. "I've erm, broke my laptop. And I need it for reports."
Harry took the offered technology and carefully looked it over. His eyes widened at the dent he found in it. "What the hell have you done to it?"
The marine rubbed his neck. "I dropped it. Down a few steps. Whilst running."
Harry shook his head. "Right. Well, it could take me a few days. I'll let you know when I'm done."
The marine nodded and hurried off with mumbled thanks. Harry watched him exit the mess, confused. Was it something he had said? Harry's musing was cut short by Nate throwing himself into the chair opposite Harry, his tray overflowing with food. Nate chuckled at Harry's expression. "I see that you've finally discovered you reputation among the marines."
Harry glared at Nate. "Excuse me?"
Nate took a huge bite of his burger. He was busy chewing, but the answer Harry was looking for came from Matt, who had been clearing and cleaning some tables. He sat himself next to Nate as he spoke. "A couple of the female marines saw you and the guys training at the Antarctica base. They wanted to see more, so bribed a security guard for copies of the security camera footage both at Antarctica and the SGC."
Harry nearly spat out his tea. "What?"
Nate swallowed and grinned. "They were caught watching it by some of the guys. They didn't believe that a scientist would be able to beat a marine. But they saw that awesome clip of you taking Dan down from our first training session in Antarctica. You know, Dan is the best fighter among the marines? Everyone knows that."
Matt nodded. "Yeah, so now they are all kind of scared of you. You're a genius, but you can kick their asses if they tried anything with you. It's funny really."
Harry shook his head. "I have no idea what I feel about this. The marines watching footage of me is kind of….creepy."
Nate laughed. "Well, at least you don't have to hear what some of the female marines say about you. If I have to hear one more comment about your ass….." Nate gave an exaggerated shudder, laughing harder at Harry's look of horror.
"God, I don't need to hear any of this."
"Hear any of what?" Dan slid into the seat next to Harry.
"Just how scared of Harry all the marines are and how the women are waiting for his back to be turned so they can jump him."
Dan grinned. "Yeah, that is pretty funny. Just this afternoon, I heard some of the female botanists and a couple of female marines take about how much of a gentleman Harry is. Trust me, Harry, you should be glad that I'm sparing you the details of that conversation."
Harry glared at the laughing men. "This isn't funny! I'm never going to be able to look at any of them the same ever again. And the marines being scared of me? Seriously? That's just ridiculous!" Harry gave them his best dark glare, which must have been pretty scary because they all stopped laughing straight away. "I'm gonna kick your asses next time we train." Harry promised in a deadly voice, and was satisfied when they all compulsively swallowed.
"Harry…we were just joking. You wouldn't really – Harry!" Harry ignored the calls behind him as he left the mess hall with his tablet and the dinted laptop.
Harry was startled from a dream by a persistent crackle in his ear. He shot up and nearly fell off the sofa, where he was precariously perched on the edge. Harry blinked a few times trying to remember his dream, but only remembering the sickening smell of burning. He took a few deep breaths to try and calm his hammering heart, and was once again annoyed by a crackling sound. Harry realised that it was his radio and repositioned it back in place so he could hear the sound coming through it clearly.
"Sorry, I didn't catch that? Could you please repeat it?" Harry rubbed his eyes and pulled himself away from the edge of the couch. He had taken a quick nap in his lab, the door firmly locked. He was normally a bundle of energy and had learnt to keep going for days without much (or any, sometimes) sleep during the War. But Harry's brain had been working overtime since he joined the Atlantis expedition. Taking a nap was never something he would have considered in the past but Harry realised that here, on Atlantis, it was okay to close his eyes for a few minutes when they weren't in a crisis.
"We have an emergency." Weir's voice was tense and Harry sat up straighter. Damn him for thinking that nothing bad could happen whilst he was asleep. The Universe had a sick sense of humour. "I need you to get down to the conference room. Quickly – we have very little time. You'll be briefed when you get here."
Harry ran a hand through his hair. "I'll be there in a few minutes."
Harry shoved his feet into the boots neatly set beside the couch and hastily tied the laces. Grabbing his jacket, Harry jogged out of the door as fast as his mental 'open' command would allow him. He didn't even have to dodge anyone in the hallways. Those that saw him coming were well trained with how things worked out here in the universe – if a scientist ran past with a harassed/panicked look or a soldier armed to the teeth, you got out of the way. It was almost guaranteed that there was a crisis of Biblical proportion happening.
Harry made it to the conference in less than two minutes, as personal best for him. Taking a second to compose himself and straighten his t-shirt as he put his jacket on, Harry glanced in the room and saw several scientists gathered around the conference table and Carson stood to the side, a look of worry plastered across his face. He slipped into the room and stood next to Carson just as Grodin began his explanation of the current situation.
"Major Sheppard's team were coming in after being attacked by the Wraith during their mission. One of the drive pods was damaged, and so didn't retract automatically as it should. As a result, the front half of the Jumper has already entered the event horizon, whilst the back half is unable to enter. We have less than 30 minutes to find a solution."
Harry saw several scientists open their mouths to question or comment, but they were stopped from doing so Elizabeth swiftly entering the room. "Alright, you've all been briefed. We have less than half an hour. Where's Doctor Zelenka?"
Harry refrained from scowling as Kavanaugh pushed his way to the front of the group. Now was not the time to let his dislike of the annoying man get in the way of saving their peoples' lives. "He's working up a simulation in Puddle Jumper Two. He went straight there."
"That's good." Elizabeth's voice was steady, but Harry could pick up the worry in her tone.
"If there was time, it would be."
Harry did let a scowl through his calm expression this time. He really wanted to punch the man in the face. He kept his tone level and blank, but his emerald eyes were hard. "There are six of our people on that ship, Kavanaugh. Are you suggesting we give up? Let them die out there without even lifting a finger to try and help?" Harry leaned back against the table behind him, crossing his arms casually over his chest. "If you don't want to help, or you think you aren't up to even trying, then you should just get out. We don't need any sorry excuses of human kind in the way."
Kavanaugh looked furious, Harry noted with satisfaction. The long-haired man opened his mouth to start shouting what Harry had no doubt would be an impressively arrogant and angry tirade, when he was cut of Carson. Harry saw the Scotsman rolling his eyes.
"I'm just a medical doctor here, so forgive me if this is a stupid question. If they just stepped through the event horizon, wouldn't they come through the front part of the ship when the Gate shuts down?"
Kavanaugh gave a huff of annoyance and was still eying Harry with intense distaste, but answered the kindly doctor." The front half won't rematerialise on this side."
"The Stargate transmits matter in discrete units. The front half of the ship cannot rematerialise until the whole ship has crossed into the event horizon. The Stargate is essentially waiting for the contiguous components - meaning the Jumper and everyone inside - to enter completely before it can transport them." Peter explained swiftly, but Carson just gave him a blank look before turning to Elizabeth for help.
"He said the Gate only sends things through in one piece."
"Unfortunately, the outgoing Stargate won't transmit the matter stream until the demolecularisation is complete. When it shuts down, the entire forward section, along with the men inside, will cease to exist."
"And what about the others?"
"The ship will be severed instantaneously along the event horizon. They'll be exposed to hard vacuum, in twenty nine minutes." Peter's voice was sad.
"What if they closed the bulkhead door?"
Harry moved off to the side of the room to look at the schematics of the puddle Jumper that had been printed off a few days ago when they had first found the ships. He tuned out the rest of the conversation as he arranged the schematic drawings on the tables, separating the exterior and interior designs and then digging out the designs of the crystal system. He took these to the next table and set them out separately. He had only seen a few design drawings that the Ancients had. One design had been for the chair and console at the Antarctica base on Earth. Harry had to admire the designs – the intricate drawings of the system was almost as beautiful and complex as the actual physical system.
Harry looked back up as he saw the scientists gathering around him to look over various aspects of the Jumper designs. Glancing behind him, he saw that both Elizabeth and Carson had left the scientist to their work. Harry turned his gaze back to the design in front of him. Well, nobody told him that life on Atlantis would be boring.
Harry really wished that he could be somewhere else right now. Not because he baulked at a challenge – especially not at the challenging situation he was currently in, where he had to help save the lives of people floating in space within only twenty-odd minutes. He had been in plenty of situations like this during the War (although not in a super-advanced flying city floating on an alien sea on a distant planet in a far away galaxy). No, he really wished he wasn't here because he couldn't take the arguing anymore. They were like goddamn children!
Harry stood from his seat and slammed his fist into the table, hard. The impact was loud enough to carry over the screeching voices (so he used a little unseen magic to help it sound louder, sue him). Harry kept a blank mask on his face, but his eyes shown his anger. Using a voice honed during training and the War, he kept it low, but everyone heard him clearly.
"Enough." Harry unclenched his fist and laid both hand flat on the table in front of him. Keeping his shoulders tense, he leaned forward. "We have a job to do and you have spent the last three minutes – three very precious minutes- arguing about a stupid point!"
Kavanaugh glared at Harry, but Simpson nodded in agreement. "He's right. We need to move on, there isn't much time."
"Oh, so now you're siding with him?" Kavanaugh pushed his glasses up his nose in fury. "He doesn't even know what he is talking about! In fact, I have no idea why he is here!" Kavanaugh gave a derisive snort. "Oh, yeah. It's because McKay likes him for some insane reason that I can't figure out. Potter doesn't deserve his place on this expedition – he has no talent, he is just a kid and he doesn't even have any qualifications. And you're just going to trust his opinion on this over my years of experience and expertise?"
Both Simpson and Harry were saved from answering the sanctimonious bespectacled man when Elizabeth came in, a harrowed look on her face. Seeing the tense state everyone was in, she guessed that it wasn't going well for them. "You're supposed to be working on solutions."
Kavanaugh ignored everyone in the room and spoke loudly over any of their replies to the Expedition leader. "We think the Jumper must be damaged for this to have happened in the first place. Ancient systems are too advanced for this to have been pilot error."
"So?" Harry could see that Elizabeth was starting to get irritated by Kavanaugh and Harry felt somewhat mollified.
"So depending on the extent of the damage, we can't rule out a catastrophic power feedback in the drive manifold."
"Without the technobabble, please." If Harry wasn't so good at reading people (as skill he had found useful both during the War and after it), he wouldn't have seen how much Elizabeth dislike the scientist talking to her like she was a petulant child.
Simpson was quick to jump into the conversation. "Doctor Kavanaugh was pointing out that there is a very slim chance that with the cockpit controls interrupted and the pod damaged, the main drive could overload."
"She means to say explode - especially if McKay starts nosing around inside the control conduits to retract the drive pod manually. And he will. I know I would." Kavanaugh saw that Harry and Simpson were about to speak to argue with him some more, so ploughed on with his point. "If there is a catastrophic overload, the full force of the explosion will break up the Jumper, follow the burning fragments through the Stargate like a bomb."
Harry saw Elizabeth look down, deep in thought. He knew how hard leadership was. You had to make decisions involving the lives of people who were your responsibility. Living with the outcome of those choices was hard, especially if the worst happened and someone lost their life. The weight of that responsibility and guilt was immense. Harry felt compassion and understanding for the woman before him, and although he couldn't tell her that he knew how she felt, he could show loyalty and support her tough decisions.
"You think the risk of this happening is minimal?"
"In my opinion, yes." Simpson's voice was firm. She returned the glare of her fellow American scientist and crossed her arms in defiance.
Elizabeth looked around at the others in the room, seeking their opinion on the matter and gauging which scientist involved in a deadly glaring match they supported. "You all agree?"
Harry saw everyone around him (except Kavanaugh of course) nod their head, some emphatically and some hesitantly. Harry knew that Kavanaugh could sometimes steamroll right over some of the quieter scientists on the expedition and would disregard both their opinions and feelings if he thought that they were wrong.
Harry saw Elizabeth's gaze lingering on him and looked up to meet her gaze. He saw so much in her look. Harry doubted that Elizabeth knew just how much her eyes gave her away. In Harry's experience, very few people did. Or it could be that he had just taught himself how to gauge what someone was feeling (necessary when he was a child for telling when his relatives were about to give him a smack and then in the War for trying to pre-empt his opponents' next moves).
"I will follow any decision that you make. For the record, I agree with Simpson." Harry glared at Kavanaugh as he snorted. "I'm going to go up to the Jumper bay and help Radek with his work."
"I thought it was important to point out the risk."
Elizabeth couldn't suppress the eye roll this time. "Fine. You did. Now please, worry a little bit more about their lives and less about your own ass. Twenty three minutes."
Elizabeth swiftly left and Harry made to follow her. As he was leaving, he heard Kavanaugh as he couldn't help one last dig at Harry. "I don't know how Potter thinks he can help Zelenka. He will just be more of a hindrance than a help with Zelenka having to watch his every mistake."
Harry was mentally debating about turning around and tearing the man a new one, when the other scientist got there before him. He could hear the fury in Simpson's voice as it rose above all the other angry voices coming from the room. "Harry is one of a few people who have spent the most time around the crystal technology and computer systems of the Ancient consoles. I'm sure that he certainly knows more about them than you damn well do! Now, if you are done being a petulant child, we need to get back to work!"
Harry allowed himself a grin and he jogged up to the Jumper bay. He had avoided making any close friends after the War had ended and he had moved to the USA. Sure, he had friends and people who he wrote to back in the UK, but he never allowed himself to get emotionally tied or invested in anyone. But since he had joined the Atlantis expedition, he couldn't help but be affected by the feeling of community and almost family that the group was starting to develop. For the first time in a long time, Harry was beginning to think that having close friends who were nearly like a family wasn't such a bad thing. No one would ever be able to replace the Weasleys and Hermione and all the others he had lost in his heart, but he was starting to think that there was space for some new people.
Harry entered the Jumper bay and skirted around the stationary and silent Jumpers towards the one that had its ramp lowered and Czech swears emanating from it. Harry suppressed a grin at some of the words and phrases coming from the small scientist – he never knew Radek could be so creative with profanities. After meeting the members of the expedition, Harry had made a note of the nationalities and languages they all spoke. He was good at patterns and saw languages as another pattern, almost like they were a code to crack. And Harry loved a challenge, so he spent time learning the basics of as many as he could.
"Radek." Harry silently entered the Jumper, pretending to not notice when the Czech jumped around when he spoke. Radek was pretty engrossed in his work when Harry had entered. "I've come down to help you."
Radek just grunted, seeming to on to something, otherwise Harry knew he would have answered Harry. Harry watched the small man for a few moments, careful not to disturb him any further. He saw Radek's hands deftly moved across the screen of his tablet before he poked at the exposed crystals in the access panel above his head.
"Ow!" Harry winced as Radek shoved his finger in his mouth. Electric shocks, no matter how minor or small stung like hell. Radek pulled his finger out of his mouth after just a few seconds and intently connected another crystal. He stabbed at his tablet and burst into an excited grin when it gave a beep, which resonated loudly around the silent Jumper.
Radek jumped off the box he had been standing on to reach the panel and smacked his radio. "Doctor Zelenka to Control Room. I think I have something!" He grabbed the tablet and forwarded his findings to the control room computers. Turning, he shoved another tablet at Harry, who looked over the data.
"You've isolated the control pathway to the engine pods, but we still need to find the correct circuit." Harry leaned up and stretched to connect the tablet to the access panel. He tuned out his surroundings as data flew across his pad, and he occasionally tweaked the crystals above him, ignoring the small shocks when he got the connection wrong.
Harry had left the connection open on his radio so he could hear the conversation between the control room and the Jumper. He was acutely aware of the time constraints and could feel the adrenaline forcing him to work faster when he heard that they had only a few minutes left before the Gate automatically disengaged. Harry's hands seemed to be working through the circuits of their own accord and he was almost shocked when he found the correct circuit and heard the engine pods on the Jumper he was in engage. He swiftly sent the data to the control tower computers and hit his radio to talk.
"Rodney, I've got the right circuit. Peter, send it to him ASAP!"
Harry heard the confirmation in his ear and dropped off the box he was stood in. He walked to the edge of the jumper entrance and saw a hazmat-clad medical team waiting for the Jumper's arrival. Harry set down the tablet and pulled his earpiece out and shoved it into his pocket. He leaned against the side of the Jumper and closed his eyes. The last dregs of energy he was running on were quickly running out. He never got to finish his nap and the last thirty minutes had been really intense. He just wanted to go to bed.
Harry's eyes snapped open when he heard the near-silent landing of the Jumper on the other side of the bay. He saw the back hatch open and the ramp lower. A blur of white crossed his vision and he saw Carson rushing to the entrance of the damaged Jumper. Harry's position in Jumper two offered him a prime view into the prone Jumper. He watched worriedly as the medics tended to those inside. Seeing Elizabeth crossing the bay at a rapid pace, Harry loped down the ramp of his own Jumper and silently joined her as she rushed to the other vessel.
Inside the Jumper, Carson was using a defibrillator on Sheppard, who was lying on the floor in the cockpit, looking pale and not breathing. Another medic lifted the airbag from Sheppard's face and Carson shocked him again. Harry watched silently, stood at the back out of the medics' way, as Carson tried to save the expedition's military leader. He moved back as Ford was wheeled out, an oxygen mask forced on his face.
Harry followed Rodney as he moved to the cockpit of the Jumper to watch Carson saving the life of the Major. They all watched, silent, as Carson shocked the dark-haired man, almost unanimously letting out a sigh of relief when the monitor begins to let a small but regular rhythmic beep. Carson breaths for what Harry is sure is the first time in the last few minutes as the heart beat get stronger and stronger.
"He's going to be ok." The Scot's voice is quiet, but everyone hears him clearly.
Harry saw Elizabeth sink into one of the benches along the side of the Jumper and heard Rodney give an audible sigh of relief. Harry looked around at the people around him as the medics continued their work to prepare the Major for transport to the infirmary. He didn't know the Major personally and wasn't on his team. He suddenly felt like he was intruding on a personal moment.
Harry gently clasped Rodney's shoulder, silently conveying his support and relief to the Canadian. Rodney turned slightly and looked surprised when he saw that it was Harry who was touching his shoulder. Everyone that interacted with Harry regularly knew about his quirk when it came to physical contact with others. Rodney opened his mouth to say something, but Harry had already left the Jumper.
Harry was going to bed and he damn well wasn't going to be disturbed in the next few hours for anything short of the Apocalypse.
Harry looked around him in confusion. He distinctly remembered getting ready for bed, locking his door and putting his radio in his bedside draw so that he wasn't disturbed. He remembered turning over and looking out of his windows and seeing the city lit up, before he used his magic to mentally close the curtains to plunge the room into darkness just before he finally fell asleep.
Yet he now found himself in a random corridor on Atlantis. He knew he was on Atlantis because the architecture and materials of the corridor couldn't be anything but Ancient. Harry racked his brains, trying to figure out how he had gotten here – here being some seemingly abandoned and empty part of the city that he hadn't recognised. And Harry had pretty much memorised the entire control tower. Harry reached up to tap his radio, but found his ear empty. He suddenly remembered that he had removed it and shoved it away in a draw to avoid being disturbed.
Sighing, Harry wandered down the corridor. He was glad that he hadn't run into anyone. He was wearing only a pair of sleep pants and t-shirt because it had been cold. Harry keenly looked around as he carefully wandered down the abandoned passageway, but there wasn't anything to see or hear. Just as he was getting annoyed, a doorway loomed in front of him as he wandered around a curve in the passage. He carefully waved his hand over the glowing crystal of the panel and the door slid open with a near inaudible whoosh.
Harry's breath caught in his throat.
The room in front of him certainly didn't belong on any part of Atlantis. Or anywhere near this galaxy. It wasn't even in the right time. The door had opened to a part of Hell that was especially designed just for Harry. His heart hammered in his chest and he heard a roaring in his ears as the blood pounded around his body. Harry tried to close the door, waving his hand desperately over the crystals, but it refused to budge. Harry suddenly found that he had no control over his legs and he was forced to step into the room, the door closing with a loud click behind him.
Harry clenched his teeth and scrunched his eyes shut to block out the scene before him. Feeling his emotions running riot, Harry suddenly shook himself. He knew he could control himself better than this – he was a War veteran for God's sake! Taking deep breaths, Harry calmed himself down and shoved his emotions into a small corner of himself. Smoothing his features and feeling a cool detachment, Harry opened his eyes once again.
The scene was chaos. It had once been a Muggle shopping centre, but was now reduced to rubble. The building had been an amazing Muggle feat of engineering and design and this day was its grand opening. It had been an event to remember, but not for the right reasons. It should have been a day of wonder and enjoyment and harmless consumerism. But Wizards had made the day about blood, death and carnage.
Voldemort had chosen his targets in the Muggle world well – places with lots of people, places important to Muggles and places that would ensure maximum effect. This shopping centre was the fourth act of terror against the Muggles that Voldemort had pulled off. The fourth that the Resistance hadn't been able to stop in time. By the time Harry's forces had gotten there, the building was destroyed, hundreds were dead and the entire scene was chaos. They had quickly taken over the scene and secure it from Muggle authorities for a short time and were engrossed in making it structurally safe for the Muggle rescue teams, when Voldemort orchestrated a second attack.
Voldemort had never gone back to a Muggle attack site before, so they were surprised when the Death Eaters had returned. It had been a brutal fight, and both sides had lost numbers. Harry remembered feeling a dull sense of satisfaction that they had taken out so many Death Eaters, but also feeling sad that they had lost a small number of their allies and comrades. But it was the end of the battle and the second attempt at cleanup that would forever be engrained in Harry's mind.
Harry took deep breaths, ignoring the black smoke swirling around him and pushed himself to walk forward. He knew exactly what he would find just up ahead, in the area that had once been a children's toy shop. But he couldn't stop – he had to see this through. He felt a thick liquid slipping between his toes and didn't have to look down to know that it was blood. He didn't have to look down to see the bodies of several children who had been caught in the explosion or by spells and bits of falling debris. Harry's gaze was focused intently on a spot a few more metres in front of him.
Harry remembered coming this way on his own, his battle robes covered in dust from the debris and torn in several places from spells he had barely managed to dodge. He remembered his side being caught by a stray cutting hex that had bounced of a falling piece of metal beam, by a Death Eater that Harry had swiftly finished off. His side had been bleeding sluggishly, but he had dismissively wrapped into in a clean bandage and ignored the Healer's protests that it would scar if not healed soon. All thoughts of his own injury had fled his mind when he had seen the scene before him.
Even as Harry stepped forward, he could tell that there were things wrong this time. The scene before him was different, but the same in one key aspect. Harry ignored the debris and sharp glass and metal around him and he knelt down and reached a hand out hesitatingly. His hand met with rapidly cooling skin and Harry found it difficult to suppress the rush of emotions that engulfed him.
Before him, eyes closed almost peacefully, was his last best friend and someone that Harry considered a sister. All the other people that Harry had considered family were dead, killed in War. Just like Hermione now had been. Hermione had found some children caught under a pile of rubble and had been trying to free and protect them when she had been hit with a stray piece of falling wreckage. In her few seconds of unconsciousness, she had been hit with a killing curse. The only thing Harry could be glad about was that her death had been instantaneous and painless. He couldn't have stood it if she had died a slow and agonising death.
Harry felt a sob tear itself from him as he ran his hands through Hermione's hair. She looked exactly like she had on that day. Harry couldn't take anymore and scrabbled away from the body, not noticing the debris and carnage around him as his emotions exploded from him.
His sobs began to wrack through his body and Harry squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them again, he found himself staring up at his bedroom ceiling, his sheet tangled around him, sweat coating his body and tears freely running down his face. Harry sat up, his entire body shaking with emotion. He fought with his bedding for a few minutes, and finally managed to escape out onto his balcony.
The fresh air hit Harry like a bucket of cold water to the face. He roughly wipe the tears from his face and near-collapsed to the floor. Taking a few deep breaths, he carefully swung his feet over the edge of his balcony and leaned his forehead against the railing. The dream had been so real, and Harry hadn't felt himself let go of his emotions like that for the longest time. Not since Hermione had actually died, in fact. Harry guessed it was just seeing Sheppard and the other almost die today that brought all his worst memories to the front of his mind.
It might be painful to remember his friends, because all memories of them lead to the memory of him losing them, but it was something Harry forced himself to do. He needed to remember why he had fought so hard in the War in the first place. If Harry was to move on with his life, he needed to remember the ways the past had shaped him into who he was now.
Hermione would want him to be here on Atlantis – she would have loved to have been here. But Hermione couldn't be here. None of those who had died could be. But Harry knew that they lived on in his memory and that he would be dishonouring their memory if he didn't get the most out of his life. They would have wanted him to do as much as he could. And Harry was determined that he would. He was on the lost city of Atlantis, on an alien planet in a whole new galaxy. He would make his friends proud of him.