It is not typical of me to write author notes in any of my stories unless I absolutely have to. I dislike author's notes because I feel that they disrupt the flow of a story and often contain useless information (unless you all want to know everything about my boring life that is). However, I feel that I should put one here.
I first of all would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review this story. It is very much appreciated.
I have had a number of reviews about how this is slow moving and some people said it is boring. Everyone is entitled to their views and I am sorry that this story doesn't appeal to everyone and that not everyone is enjoying it.
I have this entire story planned out, all five seasons. I also have two alternative sequels planned – one that follows the Legacy book series and one that doesn't. I have planned it so that it takes time for events to happen – it is unrealistic to me that Harry would suddenly become involved in all the main action. The Expedition to Atlantis is mainly about exploration, discovery and science. Being in science myself, I can tell you that more happens in the background than most people will ever know or see.
I am gradually adding in more and more information about Harry and his past. I didn't want to just dump it all in at once.
I hope this explains why I have chosen to make this story a 'slow burn' story, and I am sorry if some people don't enjoy it. But, as I said, I already have every episode and chapter planned out. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to PM me anytime and I will get back to you as soon as real life allows me to.
It was a well known fact among the people that knew Harry that he was an incredibly light sleeper. Harry would deny to anyone's face that he slept lighter than any normal person, but he would agree with them every time the subject came up in his mind. Harry was well aware of his own faults and quirks, things which he had developed due to his childhood and the War. Sleeping lightly is something he had always done – when he was at the Dursleys', he had to keep a constant ear out in case his relatives screeched for him to do something or his Uncle was in a bad mood and wanted to take it out on his 'freak' nephew. This learnt behaviour had served him well during the War, when he had to be able to lightly catnap and wake up at a moment's notice to move to a new safe house or military base.
It was Harry's tendency to wake up at every sound that reached him that he was cursing. The expedition was now settled into the Control Tower and it was time to start exploring the other areas of the Ancient City. After much debating among the scientists, a smaller tower that was next to the central Control Tower was decided to be the first area to be explored. According to the database, which was frustratingly vague and difficult to navigate through, this tower had smaller labs and a few storage rooms. It was only minor compared to what they could potentially find in other parts of the City, but it was a good start for the science teams.
Rather than waste energy by using the transporters to return to the Control Tower at the end of a day exploring, it was decided that they would camp out in the tower. The marines escorting them had done a sweep of the small tower before letting the scientists in. Harry and the others had done a quick exploration of the labs and then had argued about which rooms they should study first. The marines had stood back and quietly rolled their eyes at the excitement of the eggheads. It was finally decided that the group had enough marine escorts that they could split into four smaller groups and could all explore the labs that they wanted.
It had taken time to set themselves up in the labs and make sure that there wasn't any dangerous equipment lying around. By the time they had finally solved the power flow problem in the tower, it was getting late in the evening. The marines unilaterally decided that they would set up camp in a large room on the top floor, which had large windows and a balcony. By the time the scientists and engineers had all wandered into the 'base camp', the marines had everything set up. All the civilians had to do was find a space they liked and unroll their sleeping bags.
Dinner that night was a lively affair, with the marines joking around one camping stove and the scientists happily chatting about what they expected and hoped to find the next day. Everyone eventually drifted off, except the marines on guard duty by the doors. It was right now that Harry was mentally cursing his automatically heightened senses. He tried to block out the faint snores of some of his colleagues, the near-silent footsteps of the marine guards and the soft mutterings coming from Miko as she slept. It took a while, but Harry was finally able to block out all the minor sounds around him and fall into a light sleep.
Harry was one of the first to wake the next morning. He spent a few minutes looking up at the ceiling, watching as the first rays of light lit up the ceiling in a plethora of colours. Gracefully pulling himself up, he leaned over and pulled his boots on. Running a hand through his hair, Harry shook his jacket to get out the few wrinkles that had appeared overnight when he was using it as a pillow. He quickly rolled up his sleeping bag and shoved it away into his backpack. He wandered over to the few marines who were awake and helped himself to an energy bar and an apple for breakfast, snagging a few bottles of water to wash it down with.
"Ok, so now everyone is finally awake, we can get started. We have," Radek checked his watch. "nine hours until we are due back. Make the most of our time here."
Harry slung his pack over his shoulder and wandered over to the marine that had been assigned to escort him to the lab he was going to study a few floors down. The marine was just finishing putting on his backpack and was clipping on his gun. Harry gave him a small nod and followed him out of the door. Wracking his brain, Harry tried to remember his name. It was Lieutenant Jones…..or Johns? Josephs? Johnson! It was Lieutenant Johnson. He vaguely remembered that Nate had mentioned that Johnson was going on the mini expedition and that Nate, Dan and Zack all considered that he was a brilliant marine.
Harry bounced into his assigned lab, now fully awake after his trip down several flights of stairs. Harry barely noticed his marine shadow as he set himself up guarding the door. Harry dumped his bag down beside the main console and dragged a chair from across the room and set it in front of the console. Kneeling down, he carefully ran his fingers around the edge of the console, trying to find the access panel. He found the edges, but couldn't open it because it was tightly wedged closed.
Harry held in a huff and leaned back. "Johnson." Harry called to the alert marine over his shoulder, who snapped his attention to the black-haired teen.
Harry almost grimaced at being called 'sir' by a soldier who was at least ten years older than he was. During the War, everyone looked to him for leadership and they had a variety of titles for him. He had managed to convince most of them to stop calling him the more ridiculous names, but other titles were stubbornly held onto. Here on Atlantis, Harry was extremely happy that he was just Harry, the computer genius, who was valued for his brain power. No one here knew about the many titles he had on Earth.
"I need to get this panel off, but it's stuck. May I borrow your knife?"
Harry watched the older man as he walked over to the kneeling teen and held his knife out, handle first. Harry carefully took it, nodding in thanks. He levered the panel open slowly, careful not to damage it or to cut himself. The panel popped open with a metallic clang and Harry grinned.
"Thanks, Johnson." Harry gave the knife back and it was swiftly put away. Seeing Johnson looking at him, Harry raised an eyebrow in question. "What's up?"
Johnson shook his head, a sheepish smile gracing his lips. "Sorry. It's just that for a minute, when you grinned, you reminded me of the look that my brother gets when he discovers something new. I mean, you look nothing like him, but he gets the same look and you are about the same age."
"Oh." Harry wasn't sure how to reply. "He's my age?"
Johnson shook his head, a wistful smile on his lips. "Not exactly, he's just turned 21. You're 18 right?" Harry gave a slight nod in confirmation. "Jamie is a college student – he's studying pre-med at Harvard."
"You must be really proud. That is a really good school."
"Yes, sir." Johnson had a huge grin on his face and Harry couldn't help but smile in response. "It's just my Mom, brother and I. We are all really proud of him. He is brilliant – I'm sure he will go places."
Harry turned back to the console, pulling crystals out. "You never know, he might be headhunted by the SGC in a few years time."
"That would be amazing." Harry could hear the pride in Johnson's voice and glanced back to see that he had resumed his place by the door. "I would be so proud of him – but this is a dangerous job. It will probably drive me to an early grave worrying about him."
There were a few minutes of silence as Harry pulled on various dead crystals. He was just reaching further in, his entire right arm buried in the console up to his shoulder, when Johnson's voice sounded throughout the room again.
"How about you?" Harry twisted around, his arm still in the console, a questioning look crossing his features. "I mean, what about your family? They must be worried about you – it's not like you can tell them where you are going and it could be a one-way trip for us all."
Harry felt himself stiffen and Johnson must have seen his reaction, because he quickly backtracked. "Not you need to tell me. I mean, I'm just a stranger to you. I have no right asking. I'm sorry."
Harry carefully pulled his arm out of the console and sat back. He turned to face the marine, a carefully blank expression on his face. He rested his feet flat in the floor and leaned his forearms on his knees. The older man was watching him carefully, an apologetic look on his face.
"It's ok. We are such a small community now that we are cut off from Earth. It is normal that people would be curious about the other people here." Harry gazed at the nervous and apologetic marine. "I don't have any family. I was emancipated and worked for the Pentagon before being offered my place here. So there is no one that I have to make up some story about where I'm going for."
A strange look crossed Johnson's face and he quickly looked away before Harry could analyse it. "Yes, sir."
Harry shook his head and moved back to the console. "And please stop calling me 'sir'. It makes me feel too old when someone older than me calls me that and I'm only 18. That means that everyone on Atlantis is older than me and shouldn't be calling me 'sir'. I'm just Harry."
Harry heard a quiet chuckle from behind him, but ignored it and reached back into the console. He allowed a grin to cross his features when he heard a quiet "Sure thing, Harry." from the marine guarding the doorway. If someone had told him a few months ago that he would be making friends with a group of marines and scientists whilst being on an internationally funded mission to an alien planet in another galaxy, he would have suggested that they receive psychiatric help. But he was now feeling ready to open himself up to a new group of people to watch his back. He still bore the emotional scars from the War, but he knew that the friends he had lost would want him to live his life as much as possible to honour their memory.
Harry was still trying to clear away the dead crystals and was moaning silently to himself a few hours later. This panel would probably need a whole new set of interface and power distribution crystals and as far as Harry could see it has been destroyed in what looked like an overload. Harry was just shoving himself further into the panel, his shoulders barely fitting, to see how much the console was damaged and if it was worth trying to salvage, when his radio crackled. Hearing his name, Harry huffed and twisted around until he could tap his radio.
"Harry, could you come up a floor and help translate some data for us?"
"No problem. I'll be there in a few minutes. Just let me grab my stuff."
Harry carefully pulled himself out of the console, avoiding the pile of burnt-out crystals he had dumped there. He shuffled them to the side so they were out of the way and grabbed his bag. He didn't even need to put his stuff away, because he hadn't even needed to unpack his tablet yet. The console was dead, burnt-out from a past power overload.
Harry swung his bag over his shoulder and headed for the door. Johnson was watching him with his eyebrows raised in question. "We need to head up a floor. They need me to translate some data for them."
"Sure." Johnson stepped out into the corridor, scoping it out carefully, before allowing Harry to follow him. Harry knew that he was just doing his job and he was happy that all the marines were so dedicated to keeping everyone safe, but he couldn't help but be slightly amused. Harry was a frontline soldier and leader in a war where physical violence could be inflicted with just a concentrated thought.
Harry silently followed Johnson up the narrow staircase to the floor above, watching the marine as he vigilantly checked out the corridor and kept glancing over his shoulder to check that Harry was following closely enough for his liking. Johnson stopped by the door of a large lab and remained there with another marine as Harry entered.
A large screen with Ancient writing scrolling down it covered one wall, a moderate sized control console stood a short distance from it. Another console, this one larger and bulkier than the first one stood in the centre of the room. Radek was stood with Miko at the smaller console, pointing to various bits of the scrolling text and having what appeared to be an in-depth conversation. Kavanaugh was fiddling with the few control crystals on the larger console, occasionally moving the interior crystals that Harry could see glowing inside an open access panel.
Kavanaugh glanced up when Harry entered the room, but went back to work, ignoring Harry as though he wasn't even there. Harry rolled his eyes at the pretentious scientist, but ignored him. He dumped his bag down by the door, just next to where Johnson had set himself up, and wandered across the room to the main console. Radek and Miko both paused in their conversation as soon as they saw him. Miko smiled at him shyly and Harry gave her a friendly nod in return.
"Harry." Harry turned his gaze to the shorter Czech scientist stood next to him. "We need you to help translate this data. You can read it faster than the rest of us, so will get through more than us."
Harry turned his gaze to the scrolling, bright Ancient text on the wall, absentmindedly stepping in front of the console, his hands automatically moving to the crystal buttons on top. His emerald eyes darted from side to side, taking in the Ancient symbols. Harry pulled his gaze away and was about to turn to get his tablet to type up the translation to be analysed by the scientists later, when Miko gently placed a laptop on the top of the console in a free space. Harry nodded his thanks and began to deftly type.
Harry was just finishing off one section of the data on the screen and was moving to access another file in the console database, when warnings flashed up on the screen. Frowning, Harry pulled away from the laptop and read the warnings carefully. It was a power flow disruption message, indicating that the flow of energy in the equipment was spiking. Turning around, Harry saw that Kavanaugh was still rearranging crystals and randomly moving them around. Harry could see the warning flashing on Kavanaugh's laptop, which was connected to the large console, and that Kavanaugh wasn't even bothering to check it. In fact, the machine was turned so that it wasn't even facing Kavanaugh.
"Kavanaugh." Harry called across the room to the pony-tailed man. He looked up and gave Harry a frosty glare. "Watch what you are doing. You are causing power spikes. You could overload that console." Kavanaugh ignored Harry. Harry frowned and walked over to the console. "Kavanaugh!"
Radek and Miko stopped their conversation on the other side of the room and looked over when Harry raised his voice. Harry grabbed the laptop and flipped it around so that it was facing Kavanaugh. "You are causing spikes in the power by randomly pulling out crystals and moving them."
Kavanaugh finally looked up at Harry, a dark glare aimed at the younger man. He reached over and closed the laptop, barely missing Harry's fingers. It was only thanks to Harry's quick reflexes that he avoided his fingers being squashed. The resulting bang caused the two marines by the door to stop their scoping of the corridor and turn around in surprise.
"I know what I'm doing." Kavanaugh's voice was sharp and condescending. "I don't need some uneducated child telling me how to do my job!"
Harry kept his face blank, pushing down the annoyance that was rapidly surfacing. "Look, I know that you know how to do your job. But I'm telling you that what you are doing is going to cause damage."
"What is the problem?"
Harry turned slightly as Radek came over, a questioning look crossing his face. Harry opened the laptop that Kavanaugh had slammed shut and began to explain to the Czech exactly what the issue was. Kavanaugh just ignored the other scientists around him and continued to fiddle with the internal crystal circuitry of the console. Radek was just up to speed and was about to speak, no doubt to stop Kavanaugh, when a large warning flashed back onto the laptop screen. Harry's eyes widened and he twisted around the console to pull Kavanaugh away. Kavanaugh stumbled back with a curse, almost falling to the floor. At the last minute, he reached out and steadied himself on an exposed part of the console.
Harry grabbed Kavanaugh's hand and pulled it away, meeting resistance from the bespectacled man. Harry was slammed back into the console just as a power spike surged. Harry pushed away from the console, but not before he was shocked. Everyone in the room watched in surprise as the console sparked and crackled before shutting down completely, smoking rising from inside the open access panel.
Harry rubbed his shoulder and arm that had slammed into the console, trying to get rid of the tingles running up and down his arm. Flexing his fingers, Harry allowed a glare to cross his normally calm features. He turned away from the annoying long-haired scientist, who was looking between Harry and the dead burnt-out console in shock.
"You okay Harry?"
Harry turned and saw Johnson looking at him in concern. Harry clenched and unclenched his hand. "I'm fine." Harry allowed the dark look to slip off his face as Johnson continued to look at him in concern.
"Right." The marine looked at his watch. "I think that is enough for this expedition. We should head back to the control tower."
Radek opened his mouth, but shut it after a glance at Harry. Nodding, he began to order the scientists to pack and get ready to leave. Looking at the marine still hovering around Harry, he pushed his glasses up and narrowed his eyes as Harry continued to rub his hand. "You should take Harry back to the control tower. We will finish up here and the rest of the marines can escort us back. I will get the control tower to power up the transporters for us."
Harry silently followed the older marine out of the lab and down the corridor towards the transporters. He ignored the concerned look on his companions face as he continued to rub his arm. The tingling had finally stopped and as far as Harry was concerned, he was no worse for wear. He suddenly realised that he didn't have his backpack on.
"I've left my bag in the lab."
Johnson turned and smiled at Harry, twisting around to show Harry that he had both his own bag on one shoulder and Harry's bag on the other. "It's ok. I grabbed it on the way out."
Harry reached over to get it from the soldier, relieving him of some of the weight he was carrying, but Johnson turned slightly so his back was blocked from Harry. Grinning at the teen, he shrugged. "I'll carry it. You were injured, and McKay will be pissed enough when he finds out what happened. I don't want his fury directed at me as well. He can be scary."
Harry hid his grin, highly amused by the marine's statement. From what Nate, Dan and Zack had told him, the majority of the marines had a healthy respect for the 'geeks, nerds and eggheads' on Atlantis. They also told him that a lot of them thought McKay could be scary when he started off on his hissy fits. Everyone knew that Rodney was the smartest man on Atlantis and he had access to all the environmental controls for the city. Annoy him enough and you could suddenly find yourself without hot water or temperature control in your room.
Harry was distracted from his thoughts by the quiet hiss of the transporter doors opening in the control tower and he quickly exited after a gesture from Johnson telling him to go first. He turned to get his bag from the marine, but was stopped by Elizabeth's voice.
"Harry." Harry turned and saw Elizabeth heading towards him, a look of concern on her face. Harry almost scowled when he saw Dan and Nate silently slinking behind her. Elizabeth stopped in front of Harry, looking him over. "Radek told me what happened. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine. It was a minor shock, nothing more." Harry glanced up at the control room. "Where's Rodney? I need to report in to him."
Elizabeth gave a concerned frown. "Dr McKay is in the infirmary. He was hit by a Wraith stunner on his last mission."
Harry blinked in surprise. "Is he ok?"
Elizabeth smiled slightly at Harry's concern. "Yes. He was just stunned. In fact," Elizabeth glanced at her watch. "he should be out of the Infirmary anytime now. The effects should have worn off by now."
"Good. I'll just head to my lab then. Rodney can find me there when he wants my report."
"Not so fast Harry." Elizabeth shook her head in exasperation. "I want you to go to the Infirmary and get checked out. You were shocked by a power surge."
Harry opened his mouth to argue that he was fine and didn't need checking, when Dan beat him to it. "Ma'am. I will be happy to escort him to the Infirmary and make sure he gets checks out by Dr Beckett."
"And I'll take his bag to his room for him and save him a journey." Nate chimed in, grinning when Harry's gaze darkened in annoyance slightly, before he cleared his features and gave a small nod in defeat.
"Good." Elizabeth turned to Johnson as he handed over Harry's bag to his fellow marine. "Will you find some other marines to cover guard duty of the Gateroom for a short time?"
Harry waited, a carefully blank look on his face, as Weir and Johnson both wandered off, Weir heading to the control room and Johnson towards the armoury. As they both disappeared and it was just him and the two marines, Harry allowed a scowl to cross his face.
"Traitors." Harry looked at both Dan and Nate with a dark glare.
"It's for your own good Harry." Dan held his hands up in surrender. "We all know that you wouldn't get yourself checked out, even if you had an arm hanging off. This is the only way to make you go." Dan gestured playfully to himself. He was wearing his full uniform, weapons included, for his shift in the Gateroom. "By armed escort."
Harry's glare got darker as Nate laughed along with the other soldier. "Just wait until we next spar." Harry hissed. "I'm gonna kick both of your arses!"
Nate caught the dark look Harry was sending him, the laughter dying in his throat. Shifting nervously, he slung Harry's bag over his shoulder. "I'm just, gonna, you know, take your bag to your room."
Harry smirked as his friend virtually ran away from him, muttering to himself nervously. Turning to his other traitorous friend, Harry raised an eyebrow as Dan held up his hands in surrender. Dan gave a slight chuckle. "You can be scary sometimes Harry. And knowing that you can beat the crap out of us and have an IQ higher than all of us combined makes us a little bit nervous."
Harry shook his head. "Please, you guys like to play dumb, but I know you are all smart. This expedition is about the best and brightest the world has to offer. You guys are here for a good reason. You should appreciate and value yourselves more." Harry looked at his friend as he bashfully looked at his feet. Clearing his throat, Harry continued on, trying to escape an emotional moment. He wasn't used to being so open with people, not since his friends from the War were all still alive. "Right, lets get this over with."
Harry traipsed down the corridors, dodging around scientists, soldiers and Athosians as everyone bustled about the tower, going about their daily business. The crowd thinned as he got closer to the Infirmary and there was no one in the corridor outside the dreaded room, save for a nurse who smiled at Harry as she passed him. Harry nodded to her absently as he entered the room. He was immediately greeted with a warm Scottish accent.
"So you needed to be escorted by an armed soldier to make you come this time, eh lad?"
Harry turned and saw Carson stood next to a bed a few metres away from where Harry was stood. Carson was shaking his head in exasperation, but had a contradictory smile plastered across his face. Harry sighed quietly, but obediently pulled himself up to onto the bed Carson was patting. He opened his mouth to make a sarcastic comeback, but a loud and obnoxious voice carried from the other end of the room and Harry turned to see Rodney arguing with one of Carson's ever-present nurses.
Carson sighed. "I'm going to go and deal with Rodney, before his shouts reach the level where the entire city can hear him. I want to check your heart to make sure the shock you got didn't do any unseen damage. So, take your shirt off and the nurse will attach the monitors. I'll be back in a moment."
Harry froze for a minute when Carson mentioned the nurse attaching the monitors. "Carson."
Carson turned when he heard Harry's tone, a confused look on his face. Harry saw the moment when Carson realised what Harry was asking and why. Harry had various scars littered around his body, some from the War, others from his time at Hogwarts and the rest from the tender care of his relatives. Harry wasn't ashamed of any of his scars, but they were private. He didn't want everyone on Atlantis to be gossiping about how he got them. He didn't care if strangers saw them, they didn't know him well enough to gossip about them. And there were a few people on Atlantis that he trusted to see them and not talk about them with others.
Carson waved away the nurse, who tactfully disappeared through a door to the shared nurses' office, closely followed by the nurse who had been attending Rodney, leaving just the doctor, Rodney and Dan stood around. Harry unzipped his jacket and tossed it to Dan to hold for him as Carson crossed the room to berate the irate Canadian. Harry was just pulling off his t-shirt and throwing it to his soldier friend, when Carson returned to his side, Rodney following closely behind him.
Carson had seen every single one of Harry's scars during the mandatory physicals before they left Earth. He also knew every detail of the excuses in Harry's file for each and every scar. A lot of the older ones – ones he would date to being gained during Harry's childhood – had poor excuses for how Harry had gotten them. His relatives certainly were creative when it came to their ridiculous explanations. Carson couldn't share his thoughts about them with anyone because it would not only break patient confidentiality, but he knew Harry was extremely private and wouldn't want people prying into his business.
Carson attached the heart monitors and Harry watched as he turned on the machine to check that his heart wasn't damaged when he had gotten shocked. Harry shifted back on the bed so he was fully sat down and not just perched on the edge. He avoided the other men's gazes as he watched his steady and calm heartbeat on the screen. He could feel Rodney's and Dan's gazes tracing the scars on his back, and saw Rodney carefully looking away out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head slightly and saw Dan gripping his gun tighter, an angry look crossing his face.
Harry allowed Carson to fuss about him, checking his heartbeat, blood pressure and whatever else he wanted to. He avoided looking at his marine friend. Out of the three men surrounding him, Harry knew that seeing his scars was probably having more of an effect on the soldier. Carson had seen the scars enough times and Harry remembered Rodney mentioning an unhappy childhood. Harry had never seen any scars on Rodney that indicated physical abuse as a child, but he knew enough to know he was emotionally neglected by his parents. But Dan had never been close enough to Harry to see his scars or had enough time to study them and come to the right conclusion as to where he got them.
Harry knew the source of the scars on his back was easy to guess. They were straight lines crisscrossing over his back. Harry was a fast healer thanks to his magic and the scars were minimal, but the faint silvery lines were all over his back. It was easy to guess that they had come from the straight edges of a belt. It had been a great favourite of Harry's uncle when he was drunk. He hadn't hit Harry with it often, only when he was really drunk and Harry had done accidental magic, but he had hit him hard with it.
"Elizabeth told me what happened." Rodney pulled his gaze away from Harry's back and moved from his place at the end of the bed to right next to Carson in front of Harry. "I wanted to hear what happened directly from both you and Kavanaugh."
Harry was grateful for the distraction offered by Rodney, allowing him to block out his friend still studying the visible scars on Harry's body and Carson removing the dressing on the small cut on his forehead, taking advantage of Harry sitting still to change the dressing and check how it was healing.
Harry's green gaze met Rodney's bright blue one. "Radek asked me to translate some files they had accessed on a console for him, because I can translate faster than the others. Kavanaugh was at another console, pulling and moving the internal crystals. I was done translating one file and was moving onto another one, when warnings flashed up. I tried to tell Kavanaugh, but he ignored me. That stubborn git wasn't even checking his laptop to monitor the readings. I saw the power surge warning, and pulled Kavanaugh out of the way. But I got pushed back into the console and got shocked."
Rodney huffed. "That bloody ingrate. I have never worked with such a moronic, self-centred, stubborn – "
Carson cut Rodney's rant off. "Well, lad, you don't seem to be hurt in any way. Your cut is healing nicely as well. It has scabbed faster than I thought it would. But your file does say you are a fast healer. Another few days and we can take the dressing off. We'll leave it on for now just as a precaution, in case it opens again."
Harry nodded, allowing Carson to pull the monitors off his chest. He reached over to grab his t-shirt from a silent Dan, but was met with resistance. He looked over and saw that Dan was still holding tightly onto the shirt, his eyes locked on Harry's hand as he was pulling his shirt. Harry gripped tighter when he saw that Dan's narrowed gaze had been caught by the words 'I must not tell lies' etched into the back of Harry's hand. It had been there for a number of years and had fade slightly, but not enough to make it indistinguishable. The slight tan Harry had gained over the years had made it stand out more that it would have normally.
Carson saw what Dan was staring at and cleared his throat loudly to draw attention. Dan's gaze snapped to the Scotsman, allowing Harry to pull his shirt out of the vice grip and yank it on over his head. Harry refused to look at anyone in the room and stared at the wall as he arranged his jacket. He was thankful to the doctor, who was distracting the marine from Harry's scars by making pointless conversation. Harry was able to slip out of the room just as Carson was asking Dan how his control over Ancient technology was improving since he had his gene therapy. Harry could feel all three sets of eyes following him as he silently left and he was grateful that none of them made to follow him. He needed some space to himself right now.
Harry grinned in triumph as the large screen lit up, showing a copy of the laptop screen that it was connected to. He hit a few keys on the laptop and pulled up the screensaver. It had been specially designed by some of the scientists when they had a few moments in Antarctica. It was a parody of an old-fashioned cinema banner, telling everyone who saw it that it this room was the dedicated cinema of Atlantis. Now that everyone was settled in with their personal rooms, offices, work shifts and whatnot, the recreation areas were finally being completed. The gym and sparring room had obviously been completed first, and the scientists had set up a sort of common room just down the corridor from the cinema. It had all sorts of recreation activities in there, ranging from shelves of books that Harry didn't even know they had brought with them to chess sets and boards games. There was enough room for all of the scientists and marines to be in there at the same time – the only room besides the mess hall and the cinema that could hold so many people that they had secured so far. The marines had somehow found couches and chairs for everyone to be able to sit in from all over the city. The cinema was the last area to be set up.
"You got it all sorted them?"
Harry turned, a grin still plastered across his face, as he heard the question from behind him. He knew that it was Nate – he could instantly recognise his friends' voices. Harry almost faltered as he caught himself thinking of them as his friends without much thought. But he was glad – he felt that he was ready to let some people deeper into his life. He couldn't have chosen a better group of people. Nate, Zack and Dan were all good men.
"Yeah. It's all ready to go." Harry glanced around and saw Zack stop next to Nate. Dan was at the back of the room, directing the groups of marines as they traipsed in and out of the large room with couches. Every so often, Dan would look over at Harry, but looked away quickly so he wouldn't get caught staring. Harry kept in a sigh at his friend's behaviour. He hadn't spoken to Dan all day, not since he had been in the Infirmary.
"You need to give him some time."
Harry's gaze snapped to Zack, who was watching him with a worried expression. Zack saw the questioning look. "Dan hasn't told me anything." Zack was quick to reassure Harry, knowing how private he was. "But I could guess that something was bugging him when he got back from escorting you to the Infirmary. I knew that you were ok, so it wasn't anything to do with that. I took an educated guess."
"It wasn't too difficult." Nate's quiet voice chimed in. "We, erm, we've seen some of the scars. The one on your hand and some on your arms when you wear short sleeved t-shirts."
Harry looked away from his friends. He felt a connection to these guys. It was almost like a family connection that he had never felt with his own blood relatives and hadn't felt since Hermione and the Weasleys. At first, he had ignored the feeling, thinking it was too soon to allow himself to move on – almost as if he was dishonouring his first family's memory. But he had thought about it since coming to Atlantis and realised he was being ridiculous. His family would want him to be happy and would be pleased he had found himself another group of people to be part of.
Whilst Harry had been contemplating, the room had suddenly cleared, leaving just Harry and his three friends. Dan cautiously approached the group, an apprehensive look on his face. Harry suddenly felt bad, realising that Dan was worried about how Harry would react to Dan knowing a secret of his.
"Where have all the marines gone?"
"They've all gone to get the other half of the couches from a storage room we had put them in. It is right down at the bottom of the tower, and isn't really close to the transporters but was the only empty storage room big enough. They'll be at least 10 minutes." Dan took a deep breath. "Look Harry –"
Harry cut him off. "It's ok, Dan. I've been thinking about it and I'm ready to tell you guys." Harry took a deep breath. "I know you've all seen my scars – the ones on my arms at least. There are more – a fair few more. You guys remember all the trouble in England over the last few years? The really bad terror attacks?" Harry saw them all nod. "Well, I was one of the Resistance fighters. The War was about blood purity and the leader of the opposition would have happily killed all those he deemed as 'impure'. He gained a lot of power and the entire Government was corrupted or in fear for their lives. The Resistance fought all the way."
"Seriously?" All three men were staring at Harry. Nate's voice was shocked. "You were one of the guerilla Resistance fighters?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah." Harry quickly cut off their questions. "That is a story for another day. Some of my scars come from that. Others I got whilst I was at school – sporting injuries and whatnot."
"And the rest?" Dan's voice was calm, but his eyes had a furious glint.
"I got them during the tender care of my relatives. My parents died when I was a baby and I was given to my Aunt and Uncle to raise. They….disliked me."
Harry looked away from his friends, not wanting to evaluate their expressions. Zack's voice cut across the silence like a knife. "I'm adopted."
The three other men looked at the marine, who grinned sheepishly. "My biological birth mother had me when she was 16 and she was a drug addict. I was taken away from her when I was 4." Zack shook his head. "I was never hit by her, but I remember the fear when she was high, the hunger when she spent the money on drugs instead of food, but most of all I remember the guilt. Like it was somehow my fault that she didn't love me. I was adopted by a Spanish immigrant family when I was 5. I stuck out like a sore thumb" Zack playfully tugged his blonde hair. "but I had a wonderful childhood from the moment I entered their house."
"Nothing will change." Dan smiled at the teenager in front of them. "It's not like we are going to treat you any differently now that we know. Other than having the urge to travel light-years to our home galaxy to teach your relatives a lesson, we are still the same as before."
Harry gave a soft smile, but carefully blanked his face as the other marines came huffing into the room with the rest of the seating. "Thanks guys. I want you to know that you can ask me about them and I will answer you." Harry eyes the rowdy marines arranging couches. "In private."
Dan turned to the crowd in the room with one last grin at Harry. "So, guys. Looks like we are done here." Dan glanced at his watch. "Who's up for getting some dinner?"
Harry shook his head with a smile as the group of marines gave a chorus of various agreements. He had no idea how it happened, but he suddenly found himself sat in the mess hall at a large table, right in the middle of a group of loud and cheerful marines. Harry felt himself relaxing completely for the first time in a while and allowed himself to get swept into the camaraderie of the group of soldiers. Harry hadn't been surrounded by a group of soldiers and warriors since the War and felt himself fitting right back in with that kind of group. He loved been a part of the group of scientists, where he was exercised intellectually, but being in a group of soldiers reminded him of what he truly was deep down. A warrior.
The group of soldiers stayed well past the time it took for them to finish dinner, various marines coming and going as they left to start their duties or arrived having just finished them. There was an easy sense of companionship and humour around the table and not once did they treat Harry as an outsider to their group, which Harry was in a way. He came from the 'geek, nerd and egghead' half of Atlantis and these men and women were from the 'soldier and general hard-ass' half. But they all included him. It suddenly occurred to Harry that they probably considered him halfway between the two groups – a nerd that could beat the crap out of them if he wanted to. Harry was amused by the thought.
Harry reluctantly stood up, catching the marines' attention unintentionally. Feeling dozens of eyes on him, Harry explained. "I'm going to head down to the gym and work out before bed. I won't have the chance to jog tomorrow, so I'm making up for it now."
Dan stood up, followed swiftly by not only Nate and Zack, but half a dozen others as well. "Not a bad idea." Dan looked around the group and his eyes lit up. "We should head to the sparring room. That would be fun."
Harry stopped by his room and got changed, meeting up only a matter of minutes later with the rest of the marines who had volunteered to spar with Harry and his friends. Harry was surprised to find that the group waiting in the room was larger than he expected. It seemed that word had gotten around the gossipy marines about the impromptu sparring and training session, and some had turned up to watch or to have a quick lesson.
"Hey Potter." Harry turned and saw a marine waving him over to the other side of the room. Harry dumped his bag in a corner where a small pile had been started, shoving his trainers in it, before padding bare-footed over to the smiling marine waving at him. Harry got to the other side of the room, dodging around people warming up and stretching. When he got past the crowd, Harry saw that a pseudo-rack had been set up against the wall, with wooden weapons all over it.
Seeing where Harry was looking, the soldier was quick to explain. "The Athosians carved us some training weapons and others were brought from Earth so we could practice." The marine paused. "I know that you practice mixed martial arts, but I don't know if you can use any weapons."
Harry stepped closer, observing the pretend weapons. He answered absently. "Yeah, I have some experience with various kinds of blades and stick weapons."
The marine smirked. "Great! Johnny!" The soldier called across the room to a younger soldier, causing everyone to become quiet. "Potter here can use blades. Why don't you spar with him? I know you have been complaining about finding some new competition."
The brunette marine crossed the room, watched by everyone in silence. He eyes Harry up and down, before a smirk crossed his face. He nodded. "Sure. Why don't you warm up and I'll choose the weapon?"
Harry gave a curt nod, moving across the room to where his friends were grouped together. He began to warm up and stretch in silence, watching as his opponent spoke quietly to some of his own companions. Harry saw him occasionally shake his head and smirk.
"He thinks you have no chance of winning." Nate's voice was quiet, but there was an amused edge. "Not all of the marines saw the tapes of you kicking ass, and some absolutely refuse to believe one of the scientists can beat a trained marine in any kind of combat."
Dan snorted. "He is going to get a major shock. This is going to be funny. Johnny doesn't have as much respect for the science staff as he should do. He does his job well enough, but he should be a little bit more respectful to the people keeping Atlantis running."
"This is his first assignment with scientists. He's not like the rest of us who have come from the SGC or one of the offworld outposts – we have learnt to respect the science staff. They have saved our asses loads of times." Zack shook his head.
Harry finished stretching and saw that Johnny had chosen a mock-up of a sword and was making a show of waving it around and getting his stance. Harry rolled his eyes at the stupid behaviour of the marine. He had been taught by multiple martial arts and fighting masters and every one of them had taught him to be humble about his abilities. His talents were to save lives, his own and other peoples', not to show off.
Harry perused the wooden carving of swords, assessing their quality and likeness to the real thing. He finally settled on an understated katana. He had fond memories of a small Japanese man teaching him to use the blade. The Resistance had allies all over the world and Harry had trained with many of them, both magical and Muggle skills. Harry pulled down the katana and tested its weight in his hands. It was actually fairly accurate and was only slightly lighter than his own katana back on Earth.
Harry stood in the middle of the room, the marines all bunched up by the door so that there was plenty of room for the two opponents to move around. Harry rolled his eyes as Johnny brandished his own sword in what he thought was a threatening manner. Harry just thought he looked stupid, but refrained from saying so. Harry held the fake-blade loosely but securely as he bowed his head. Harry frowned when he saw Johnny reluctantly return his bow with a minimal amount of bending. It showed a lack of respect for Harry and demonstrated that the marine didn't think Harry was a worthy opponent.
Harry took a deep breath, blocked out all his emotion and allowed his instincts to wash over him and take control. Harry had quickly learnt that thinking too much was a bad thing – you had to go with your gut and instincts. They could react faster than the brain could.
The first move was made by Johnny, something that Harry had been expecting and planning on. He ducked to the side and swiftly darted around and Johnny gave an onslaught of stabs with his wooden blade. Harry easily dodged around everyone, his mind automatically assessing the soldier's skill. His easy movement with the blade showed Harry that he knew what hew as doing and that he had some skill, but he was too eager to win and to beat Harry. That coupled with his belief that Harry wasn't a worthy or talented opponent led to Johnny being sloppy in his movements.
Harry waited, ducking gracefully around every jab of the blade, for Johnny to make a minute mistake. His opportunity came within about two minutes of the start of the match. Harry pivoted away from the blade flying at him, and took an unexpected step towards the other man. Not expecting the move, Johnny couldn't move back fast enough and Harry took the opportunity. He hit Johnny's blade arm hard enough to make him cry out in pain and drop the mock-sword. Harry swept Johnny's feet from under him and pressed the blade up against Johnny's throat.
Harry had clearly won the match within a few minutes, but his opponent couldn't seem to accept the loss. Harry was pulling his fake-blade away from the marine and was turning away, when Johnny kicked out and Harry was forced down onto one knee. Angry at the dishonest and sore loser, Harry dropped his wooden katana and grabbed the man's leg as it made another kick towards him. Harry yanked on the leg and hit just behind the knee, dragging downwards as he did. A cry of pain indicted that the other man was feeling the pain that Harry had intended. The leg was viciously pulled back as Harry rose to his feet.
Johnny was fully glaring at the younger man now and Harry returned the dark look with a carefully blank one. This seemed to infuriate the soldier and he threw a punch at Harry's face, aimed directly for his nose. Harry twisted to the side at the last possible moment and grabbed the arm as it flew past his face. Harry gripped the wrist and twisted it harshly around, forcing it back in an unnatural way. Kicking out at the marine's already hurt knee, Harry forced Jonny down, using his bent wrist to control him. Johnny swore in pain and struggled, but gave up when Harry pressed the wrist viciously again. Johnny couldn't move and was under Harry's control.
Harry allowed a scowl to cross his normally blank face. His voice came out as a hiss. "That was stupid. I won, fair and square. And instead of being gracious and acting like an adult, you throw a tantrum and attack me when my back is turned."
A new voice sounded from behind the silent group of marines by the doorway. "What is going on here?"
Harry turned and saw the military commander, Major Sheppard, had entered the room with Teyla, both of them carrying a pair of sticks and bags. Harry released the prone marine, careful to blank his features. He straightened up and gave a swift reply, looking the soldier at his feet in the eye as he did.
"Nothing, Major. We were just practicing some sparing, Sir." Harry saw the confusion in Johnny's gaze. He didn't know why Harry wasn't ratting him out to his commanding officer. The truth was, Harry didn't see a point. This way, Johnny learnt his lesson and Harry wouldn't be seen as a tattletale. Harry leaned down and pulled Johnny to his feet, who was hesitant to accept Harry's hand but had no choice if he didn't want a scene. Harry held on for a second as Johnny was on his feet, meeting the eyes of the soldier with cold chips of emerald. He lowered his voice so only the man next to him could hear. "If you ever do that again, I will do a hell of a lot more damage next time."
Harry didn't even wait for a reply as he grabbed his bag and wandered out of the room. He could feel the gaze of all the marines on his back as he left the room, flanked by his friends, but chose to ignore them. Harry had made his point: the scientists were to be respected, because you never knew when one of them would turn around and kick your arse if you didn't.
Harry reluctantly pulled himself out of his warm and comfortable bed, wincing slightly as his feet touched the cooler floor. A quickly glance through the open curtains through bleary eyes showed that the sun was just peaking over the edge of the horizon, bathing the sea in a faint pink and orange glow. Harry dragged himself mindlessly across the room, stripping as he did and thoughtlessly using his magic to make the dropped clothes fly into the laundry basket hidden in a small recess cupboard in his bathroom.
Harry was still half asleep as he turned the shower on, but was shocked awake as he stepped into the glass contained unit. The Ancient that had occupied his room before him didn't have much in way of bedroom furniture, but they had certainly enjoyed the luxury of a good bathroom. The shower unit was made of clear glass and was large, as was the sink. The toilet was tucked away in an unobtrusive corner. But the best part was the awesome bath – it was large and had many different settings for the jets placed inside it. Harry had only had showers so far due to the lack of time, but he couldn't wait to try out that bath. Harry's thoughts froze and only swears were stuttering through his brain as he stepped into the stream of water. It was like stepping into a rain of ice.
Harry swore loudly and colourfully in Magis, his knowledge of foul words courtesy of some of the more hardcore soldiers in the Resistance. He had no idea why his shower was freezing cold when it was fine just yesterday and he hadn't done anything to piss off Rodney, Radek or any of the other scientists that could access the environmental controls for his room. It was a rubbish start to the day, and Harry would have to report it to the engineers responsible for the maintenance of the environmental systems.
It wasn't the first time Harry had to wash using cold water. His Aunt and Uncle would only allow him minimal time in a tepid shower, and sometimes his bullying cousin would spend so much time in the shower before Harry that he would deliberately use all the hot water that the old boiler had, forcing Harry to have a cold wash. And during the War, some of the places they had bunked in didn't even have the luxury of showers, let alone hot water. Harry was able to put up with the cold water, it was just a shock first thing in the morning and it had been a while since he had to do so.
Harry tried to be as fast as possible in his frigid shower and, had he been paying more attention to his surroundings instead of getting out of the cold water stream as fast as possible, then he wouldn't have been so surprised when his door chimed. An unfortunate result, demonstrating to Harry that the universe did, in fact, dislike him, was the lathered shampoo dripping from his hair into his eyes. Harry swore and scrubbed rapidly at his eyes, trying to get the stinging liquid out. He rapidly rinsed off the rest of him and virtually ran out of the shower, glaring back at it. Pulling a towel off the rack and securing it around his waist, Harry stomped to the door and whacked the open crystal.
"What do you want?"
The three marines stood in front of him looked at him in surprise. Harry saw Nate and Zack glance down, automatically cataloguing his scars. The conversation with them was still too fresh for them to not be curious about his scars. Dan just met Harry's glare and raised an eyebrow at him. All three of the marines knew that Harry was a reserved and guarded person, but he had gradually been opening up to them since they had met at Antarctica. Dan was glad – Harry was a good person and Dan knew he needed to allow his friends in more. Besides the three marines, Harry had developed a strong friendship with the good doctor, Carson Beckett, and they had bonded over everything Scottish and the joy of a good cup of tea. Harry had also become somewhat attached to the grumpy Canadian Head of Science, McKay (who seemed to have more patience and time for Harry than anyone else in his department for a reason only he and God knew).
"What the hell happened to you?" Dan looked at Harry's slightly red eyes and smirked. "You have a fight with your shower?"
Nate jumped in before Harry could answer. "And since when does Mr Reserved wander around topless in front of anyone?"
"Since I was attacked by my shampoo and was angry that it tried to blind me. And you three aren't just anyone. You're my friends." Harry ignored the smiles directed at him. This was the first time Harry had called them his friends to their faces. "I'm going to get dressed."
Harry grabbed a clean set of clothes, grateful that he had a uniform so it was easy to dress every morning. He ducked into the bathroom, stood around a corner so he couldn't be seen and could leave the door open. Pulling on his clothes, he asked the soldiers what they wanted again.
"Well, we came to see if you wanted to grab some breakfast with us." Zack's voice floated through the open doorway. "We know you start soon, and I've got patrol in about an hour. Nate is free for another couple of hours until his Gateroom duty starts and Dan has just finished his shift and was gonna grab breakfast before he went to bed."
Harry exited the bathroom fully dressed and wandered over to his bedside cabinet. He opened the cupboard and pulled his trusty backpack out, shoving his tablet into it and securely closing it. Resting it on the end of his bed, Harry sat down and pulled on his boots. Once they were laced up and he had the backpack over his shoulder, he quickly made his bed, a habit he had learnt in childhood. The Dursleys made his tidy his own bedding as well as their own as soon as he was dressed.
"Let's go then." Harry smiled at his friends, who had all drifted over to his windows and was looking enviously at his balcony. Harry wandered out of his room, hearing the door hiss closed as they all left. The trip to the mess was quiet, the corridors almost empty. Most of the city wasn't awake yet and there were just a few marines around who had just finished patrol or would be starting soon. Harry was used to early starts – he had to be up early to get his chores done at his relatives' and there was no late morning sleep-ins during the War.
"Hey Matt." Harry nodded to the soldier manning the kitchens.
"Hey Harry." Matt smiled at the computer tech and gave a friendly nod to the marines gathered around him. "It's just cereal this morning, I'm afraid. The machines in the kitchen are on the fritz."
Harry held back a groan. He wasn't in the mood for cereal. He really just wanted some toast so he could eat quickly and get to his office to start on the pile of work he had to do. Harry glanced around the room and saw the few other early-risers were also scowling at their bowls of cold cereal. He saw a few drinking from slightly steaming mugs and raised an eyebrow. Matt, seeing where he was looked, smirked.
"We have used some of the camp stoves we have to make hot water for drinks, mainly coffee- I swear, the city runs on the stuff. But we have only been able to heat some water because we have to be careful with the stoves. They are for emergencies only. We don't want to waste them."
Harry nodded absently, grabbing himself some cereal with a small scowl and pouring himself a large cup of tea from the flasks. Throwing himself into a chair at a table in a quiet corner, he crunched his cereal and cold milk unenthusiastically. He glanced up when he saw the others joining him, raising his eyebrows when he saw Nate's choice of cereal.
Nate, seeing the looks he was getting, swallowed his mouthful and smiled sheepishly at his bowl of chocolate cereal. "It reminds me of my little brother."
Harry suddenly blinked. "I just realised that I don't know anything about your families." Harry gave a small grin, shaking his head. "What a bad friend I am."
"Nah, we could have asked as well." Dan shook his head and then grinned. "I'll go first then shall I." Dan put on a mock-serious look. "I'm Captain Daniel Sokolov and I'm 26. I'm from California and my Great-Grandfather was from Russia. I speak Russian. My dad was a Doctor, but he died about three years back of a heart attack. My Mom is a nurse – she met Dad at the hospital they both worked at back then. I'm an only child."
Nate cleared his throat in a pompous way, which was offset by the fact he was poking at his chocolate cereal. "I'm Lt Nathaniel Brannon. I'm 25 and from New York." Nate gave a huge grin at the mention of his home. "My Mother died when I was a baby, so it was just my Dad and I for a long while. He's a lawyer. He got remarried when I was 16 and I have a half-brother who is 6."
Harry eyed Nate's dark brown hair. It was dark, but not as dark as his own midnight locks. "Where is your family from originally?"
"My Dad's family came from Ireland to America a couple of generations ago. My Mother was half-Indian, half-English." Nate gave a small chuckle. "I guess my Dad has a thing for Indian women, because my step-mother is Indian. He met her when we were on holiday there."
They all laughed in agreement and then turned to Zack, who raised an eyebrow. "You already know about me."
Dan rolled his eyes. "Yeah, but not enough. Come on, share."
Zack gave a put-upon sigh." Fine. If you must know." He couldn't help himself from laughing along with them at his melodramatic tone and gestures. "I'm Lt Zachary Ortiz. I'm from Texas. I was taken from my druggie biological mother when I was 4 and adopted by a Spanish immigrant family when I was 5. I have 5 older adoptive sisters. My parents couldn't have any more children due to complications with my youngest sister but they wanted a boy as well. So, they adopted me. My Dad is a jeweller and my Mom helps him out."
"Wow, 5 older sisters. That must be fun."
Zack grinned. "The youngest is 6 years older than me, so I was the baby of the family. I was a spoiled when I was younger."
Harry poked at his cereal. It had gone soggy and he hated damp cornflakes. He looked up and saw everyone looking at him. Swallowing, he pushed down the urge to just leave. He had asked them to share with him and it wouldn't be fair to not reciprocate. He took a sip of his tea and shoved his bowl of hideous cornflakes away.
"I'm Harry Potter. I'm 18. I'm from Surrey, England. I'm an only child and my parents were killed by a terrorist when I was a baby. I was raised by my maternal Aunt and her husband. They are my only relatives, beside their son. I haven't seen them in about three years, when they signed my emancipation papers for me. I went to a private boarding school in Scotland when I was 11."
"And you were a guerilla Resistance fighter in the civil unrest in England."
Harry nodded, looking around to make sure no one was close enough to hear. "Yes, I was. But could we talk about this another time? Maybe somewhere private?"
Dan jumped in before anyone could say anything else. "Yeah, of course."
Harry gulped the last of his tea in relief. He stood up. "Great. I've got to head to my lab now and actually start some work. I'll see you all later." Harry went to grab his bowl to take it back to the kitchen staff, but Nate got there before him. Harry gave him a grateful grin and wandered out of the mess hall. He joined the small queue of people at the end of the corridor waiting for the transporter. He was still waiting ten minutes later and looked around the person in front of him to see what the problem was.
There were two marines in the transporter, frowning at the control panel glowing on the wall. Harry saw one of them tapping the screen, jabbing harder than was necessary due to frustration. Harry slipped past the queue of marines and stood in the transporter doorway. The marines inside didn't notice him and carried on bickering about whether they were using the control panel correctly. Harry held back his amused grin, deciding that poking at angry marines first thing in the morning would be like poking an angry bear – stupid and likely to get him mauled. As the marines turned to face one another to argue some more, Harry saw that one of them was Johnson, who finally noticed Harry out of the corner of his eye.
"Harry." Johnson gave the teen a smile. "How are you doing?"
Harry knew he was referring to the shock Harry had gotten on their outing to a neighbouring tower. "I'm fine. It was minor and Carson – Dr Beckett – cleared me. What's wrong here?"
"This damn transporter isn't working." Johnson glared back at the panel next to his face.
"I'll have a quick look. May I?" Harry gestured to the panel and was pleased that both Johnson and the other marine inside nodded enthusiastically and moved out of the way to allow him to pass. The marine that Harry didn't know the name of moved to speak to the other soldiers patiently waiting outside, and Johnson hovered in the doorway.
Harry moved so he was close to the screen and frowned as he studied it. He may know a lot about the crystal makeup of the City and Ancient coding, but the actual science behind how all the advanced devices worked was beyond him. He couldn't even begin to describe how the transporter actually transported people and objects between locations beyond his minimal knowledge of science. Harry accessed the controls for the device and his frown deepened as the screen suddenly went dead.
"Well, that's annoying." Harry glared at the panel and blinked as sudden light blared. The panel continued to flicker on and off for a few moments. Harry turned to the marines staring at him around Johnson. "Sorry guys. There are some kind of power fluctuations going on. Hold on a moment."
Harry pulled his radio out of his jacket pocket and fitted it into his ear, tapping it lightly. "Control, this is Potter. We have an issue with transporter two. The power is fluctuating and the failsafe has kicked in."
"Thanks for the report Harry." Harry could hear Peter's tired voice drift through the radio and guessed he was almost finished with his control room shift. "We have received reports about all the transporters in operation. We have been experiencing some power issues. You'll have to use the stairs."
Harry thanked Peter, holding back his groan. "Sorry guys. All the transporters are out. You'll have to use the stairs until they are fixed."
Harry slipped out of the small transporter room and slowly made his way down the corridor, silently joining the mass exodus of marines and a few civilians as they all headed towards the staircase at the end of the long corridor. It was a good few flights of stairs to his lab, but it took him double the time it would have normally taken if he had any inclination to wander up the stairs. They were becoming blocked by the sheer number of people using them as the City began to wake up to another day. The residents of Atlantis formed orderly lines automatically, with the Athosians following the example of the Earthlings, but there were still a lot of people. It was 20 minutes before Harry was finally throwing himself into his comfy desk chair and could start his ritually diagnostics.
Finally able to get some real work done, Harry eagerly collected a small device off one of his lab tables that was covered in hardware and Ancient devices. The scientists under Rodney's draconian command had found several of the shield devices that Rodney had had a small mishap with. Rodney had snagged the only one with enough juice left in it to actually still work, but a few of the others had a small amount of energy left. Enough energy to study them, anyway. Harry had eagerly accepted the device when Radek had brought down some of the finds of his team for Harry to tinker with.
Harry had just carefully plied the back off the small device when a knocking on the wall next to his doorway brought him out of his concentration. He looked around and saw a marine was patiently watching him from the doorway. "Yes?" Harry gave a friendly nod and carefully set down the device.
"I was told to come to you if I had a technical problem."
"I have a technical problem."
Harry held back a sigh. "I meant 'yeah, what's the problem?'"
"Oh." The marine rubbed his neck and looked away from Harry, who frowned in confusion. He knew that his friends liked to joke that some of the marines were scared of some of the scientists and what they could do, but he thought it was just a strange combination of respect for the resident eggheads and harmless banter. Harry ignored the strange behaviour and gave the marine a neutral look and nod.
"Well, I've not needed my assigned laptop until now. But it won't turn on."
Harry took the offered laptop and watched as the marine took a step back. He allowed a small frown to cross his features before carefully forcing it away when the marine snuck glances at him. "Do we have some kind of problem?" Harry couldn't help but ask the marine. He was a firm believer in sorting out any issues before they became too big.
The marine looked up and sheepishly met Harry's gaze. "No, it's just…..This is my first offworld posting. I mean, before being transferred here, I didn't even know that the Stargate and aliens even existed. I've never worked with civilians and scientists before. I think they only recruited me because I have the gene." The marine looked away, slightly embarrassed.
Harry studied the nervous man before him. He looked to only be about 22. "Look, most people here are in the same boat as you. I didn't know about aliens and wormholes and all this stuff before I was recruited a few months before we left Earth. Some people here have worked at the SGC or on the offworld sites, but not all. And just because you have the gene doesn't mean that that is the only reason you are here. You have to be the best of the best to get here."
The marine looked up. "Yeah?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah. And as for how to act around everyone, just treat the other soldiers like you would on any other posting. As for the scientists, just treat us with some respect and be friendly. That is all we ask for."
The marine gave a large grin. "Thanks for the advice Dr Potter."
Harry shook his head. "I'm not a doctor. Just Harry will be fine." Harry glanced at the laptop he was holding. "It may take me a few days to get this back to you. I've got a huge pile of work to do. That ok?"
"Yeah, that would be great. I can borrow one for my reports for now." The marine's grin was huge as he turned to leave. He called over his shoulder as he left the lab. "Thanks Harry."
It took Harry ten minutes to realise that he didn't even ask for the marine's name, by which time he had dumped the laptop onto an empty table and had pulled on a headband with a magnifying glass attached. The crystals inside the device were tiny and incredibly delicate, but were firmly held in place so they wouldn't get damaged as the device was pulled and bashed around by the wearer. Harry was about to start pulling a few of what he suspected were the key crystals out, when another round of knocking interrupted him. He didn't even glance up as he asked what they wanted.
"I've just come to collect my assigned laptop. You were setting it up?"
Harry just waved a hand in the direction of the transport box next to the door. It contained a number of laptops that he had double-checked and set up once they arrived in Atlantis and when they weren't facing a crisis. Between them, Harry and Peter had set up all the machines. Most of the marines had collected them, but Harry still had a handful waiting to be distributed.
Harry barely heard the marine grab a laptop from the storage crate and leave with thanks. He was engrossed in the delicate crystal circuitry and was determined to pull the primary crystals so he could study them and try to access the programming that ran the device. Harry tried a number of times to remove the fragile crystals with surgical precision but was interrupted seemingly every few minutes by marines needing to collect their assigned equipment. Harry was so frustrated by the disturbances, that he pulled his magnifying glass headband off, unknowingly messing up his already untameable hair, and gave the last marine collecting the last laptop his best death glare. It must have been impressive, because Harry saw the marine swallow nervously and felt a small rush of satisfaction.
Watching the marine back out of the lab slowly, Harry nearly swore very loudly when his radio crackled. He whacked it in response to his name. "Yes?"
"Harry." Harry didn't recognise the voice coming through the radio and frowned, trying to connect the voice with a vague memory of a face. Giving up, he concentrated on what they were trying to tell him. "This is Control. We have been experiencing some power fluctuations and need some help tracking them down. Peter has finished his shift and has gone to get some rest."
"No problem. We shouldn't disturb him unless we absolutely have to – it's been a long few days for us all. I'll start working on it now."
Harry closed the communication line and pushed away from the table he was sat at, whizzing across the room on the incredibly smooth wheels on the chair he was occupying. Harry could nearly imagine the Ancient who had owned it before him doing the exact same thing and getting the same level of childish joy and pleasure out of something so small. Allowing an amused smile to grace his normally neutral features, Harry got to work on Atlantis' current issue.
It took Harry only half an hour to track the origin, but he was frustrated at the end of it, feeling as though he was going in circles every time the power went off and then back on again. The interface systems that the Earthlings were using were efficient and methodical, but Harry couldn't say the same about the Ancient systems and databases. They seemed to have no logical organisation system at all. The systems weren't as bad as the databases though – they were a virtual minefield for trying to find anything. Harry couldn't work out if they were the way they were because that was how Ancients thought, if it was done on purpose in case an enemy gained access to them or if the Ancients were just lazy about some things.
Harry tracked the source of the fluctuations down to a floor above 'ground' level of the Control Tower. Grabbing his trusty backpack, Harry moved out of his lab and office and made his way to the staircase, cursing the entire way. He had to climb down several floors to get to level one (as he mentally defined it). By the time he got there, he was in a distinctly bad mood and just wanted to solve the damn problem so he could get back to his device tinkering.
The floor was mostly quiet as Harry moved silently from the stairs and down the wide corridor. There was only one corridor running the entire width of the tower and Harry could only see a few doorways spread out. Coming to the entrance of the very last door, Harry peered inside and saw a small group of people moving around. He could see that they were scientists from their uniforms and, looking at the artificial lights and the many plants, Harry remembered that the geologists and botanists had been assigned this floor because of the connecting rooms being suitable for all their equipment. The biologists were on the floor down from Harry's lab, and were closer to the infirmary. All the other labs were scattered along the same long stretch of corridor as Harry's was.
Harry quietly knocked on the wall beside the open doorway and waited until one of the scientists within poked their head out from behind a large plant. Harry gave a friendly smile, and opened his mouth to introduce himself and to explain why he was down here, when loud voices stopped him. Turning on his heel, Harry moved away from the doorway and entered a smaller room next to one he had been about to enter, this one was void of plants and didn't resemble a miniature indoor jungle, and had desks with laptops scattered around. The loud voices were coming from a corner of the room where Harry could see three scientists were gathered around an Ancient console.
Moving forward, Harry's mouth fell open in shock as he saw that the side of the console was open and a male scientist had his hand inside and was pulling at the crystals. Following the cable from the console, Harry could see that it disappeared into an open panel in the wall, directly into the complex crystal circuitry that ran and connected Atlantis. The scientists continued to argue as the screen on the wall next to the console flickered on and off. Harry heard their voices increase in pitch and volume as a warning in Ancient flashed across the screen rapidly. From the garble of words that Harry could just about make out, they couldn't read the Ancient words well enough, but they could tell that it was a serious warning as it continued to flash angrily. An alarm suddenly blared out, loud enough to wake the dead, Harry was damn well sure.
Swearing under his breath in every language that he knew, Harry strode forward as the scientists' panic levels skyrocketed. He calmly grabbed the cable buried in the circuitry of Atlantis on the wall and pulled it out. The alarm stopped and the warning died as the screen turned off. Harry had basically just unplugged the console. Sometimes, it was the simple solution that was best.
"What the hell people?" Harry barely kept his face blank and his tone neutral. "Are you trying to blow us all up? Or at least kill yourselves?"
The man ran a hand through his hair. "We didn't know that would happen! What did happen?"
Harry shook his head. "You connected a damaged console to the main power supply. It was causing fluctuations and the console was probably a few seconds from blowing up. You should have asked for a technician to set this up for you. Then we would have known that the console was damaged and couldn't be used without repairs. It was stupid of you to assume it was fine and in working order."
The man opened his mouth to reply, a sheepish look on his face, but he suddenly went pale and his mouth snapped shut with a click. Harry cocked his head and heard Rodney's loud and obnoxious voice carrying down the corridor, demanding to know what was going on. Harry thought that he sounded out of breath, and quietly slipped out of the room as Rodney barrelled past him, an angry glare aimed at the geologists. Harry knew Rodney hated any kind of physical exhaustion, unless it was necessary to survival, and that it would just make his mood worst. He was definitely going to let someone else explain this one to his boss.
Harry was half-way up the staircase back to his lab when he decided that he needed a break before he went back to the shield device. He needed to calm himself down a bit so he could fully concentrate on his work. The mess hall was on the floor Harry had lingered at, and Harry decided that an early lunch was in order after a quick glance at his watch. Harry slipped around the crowds and looked distastefully at the cold selection of food available. Harry may have just solved their power fluctuation and malfunctions riddles, but they would have to run a full panel of checks before allowing the use of any of the equipment that had been affected. That included the kitchen equipment.
Harry found a sandwich that looked vaguely appetising and was just about to take a bite as he sank gratefully into his dining chair tucked into a small corner table when his radio crackled. The sandwich froze halfway to his mouth and Harry held back a groan as Elizabeth's friendly voice sounded in his ear.
"Harry. I was wondering if you could stop by my office for a few minutes. I have a translation that I would like you to check for me."
Harry reluctantly put down his sandwich and gave his affirmation to Elizabeth. He grabbed his plate and slipped quietly into the kitchen. Matt was there with Lucas and another marine that Harry didn't know, finishing off making cold food and hot coffee from water heated on camp stoves. Harry quickly explained his situation and Matt was more that happy to wrap up Harry's uneaten lunch. He even offered to have it taken to his lab for him, eager to get away from the mess hall for a short time. Harry smiled his thanks and quickly left, a large mug of tea clutched tightly to him.
Weir smiled as Harry entered her office and sat down in the extremely comfortable chairs in front of her desk. The Ancients sure knew how to make cosy furniture. Harry carefully put his tea down as Elizabeth asked him how he was.
"I'm fine. I assume Rodney briefed you on the incident with the geologists?"
Elizabeth nodded. "Yes. He told me about that. That was good work and quick thinking on your part."
Harry shrugged. "I was just doing my job." Harry leaned forward in his chair, a slightly eager look crossing his face before he could stop it, causing Elizabeth to smile in response. "What was it you wanted me to check?"
Elizabeth slipped a piece of paper across the table to the dark-haired teen. Harry picked it up and saw Ancient symbols carefully drawn neatly across the page. English words were written underneath. Harry studied the elegant script, his eyebrows drawn together in concentration. Some Ancient words looked incredibly similar and it was harder when you didn't know from which time period the writing was from.
"Where is this from?" Harry asked absently as he searched the desk for a pen or pencil to make some minor changes to the translation.
"It is the writing from the Gateroom – on the stairs and the walls." Elizabeth watched as Harry found a pencil tucked next to her laptop and got to work correcting her translation. Elizabeth was good at languages – one of the best Earth had to offer – but Harry had such a natural affinity with patterns that Elizabeth couldn't help but feel slightly envious. She was going to make sure that she used Harry's ability properly so they could make the most of this Expedition.
Harry was engrossed in his work and didn't even notice as time passed. He only had to make minor changes to Elizabeth's translation – she was very knowledgeable where the Ancients were concerned – but it still took time to carefully contemplate each word and how it fit into the whole text. So many Ancient words looked similar and one wrong word could change the entire text.
"Here you go." Harry passed the paper back to Elizabeth carefully, setting down his pencil. "Do you need anything else?"
Elizabeth gave Harry a bright smile as she studied the changed he had made. "No, that's all for now. I'll let you get back to your work. Thank you for this."
Harry stood up and picked up his mug. "No problem. I'm happy to help."
Harry turned away and took a sip of his drink, barely able to hold in his scowl when he discovered that it had gone cold whilst he was engrossed in the script. Harry doubted his day could get any worse.
He was regretting that thought only a few minutes later when he almost went flying down the stairs as Athosian children barrelled into him. They were running and playing and didn't see him coming down the staircase. It was only Harry's seeker-honed reflexes that had been improved with deadly precision during the War that allowed him to reach out and grip the railing tightly. He scowled at the children, but quickly cleared his features as they swallowed nervously. It seemed that childhood fear of being berated by someone older than you was universal.
"Sorry! We didn't see you!"
"Please don't tell our parents!"
Harry gave a small sigh, but was inwardly amused. It was good to see that the Athosian children could still worry about something as simple as getting into trouble with their parents when the shadow of the Wraith constantly fell on them. Harry didn't have a very good childhood and he was always worried about getting in trouble with his relatives, whose punishments were starvation rather than groundings. He went from a horrible childhood straight into being a soldier and leader in the War. After the end of the War, he had done his part in building a new community and helping the magical world move on. It was only once he started work at the Pentagon that he started doing what he truly wanted to. Coming to Atlantis was the best choice Harry had ever made, in his opinion.
"I won't tell your parents." Harry quickly cut off the children's replies. "But you must never run on the stairs or in the main corridors. It is dangerous. And you shouldn't be this close to the Control and Gateroom without an adult." Harry saw the children nod vigorously. He moved past them and carried on climbing down the staircase.
Harry sighed in relief when he got back to his lab and threw himself into the couch. Reclining back, he closed his eyes for a moment and allowed himself to relax, letting the noises from around him wash over him. He could hear the faint hum of his equipment and relished the familiar background noise. He could also hear Rodney's voice floating down the corridor from the main lab, rising in annoyance or excitement occasionally. Harry smiled to himself and opened his eyes, leaning over to grab the wrapped sandwich on the small coffee-type table in front of the sofa he was lounging in. Harry was hungry after the morning he had just been through and the food didn't last a minute. He was just reaching for the chocolate bar Matt had thoughtfully left for him, when his radio blared into life once again.
"Potter, this is Bates. You need to come to the ground floor and meet me outside the armoury."
Harry groaned and glared out of the windows, annoyed that the weather was so bright and cheerful when his day just continued to get worse. Making sure none of his annoyance was betrayed in his tone, he told Bates he would be there straight away. Harry's homicidal urges towards the universe that seemed to dislike him so much increased even further when Bates told him that the transporters were still out of action, so he would need to take the stairs all the way to the bottom of the Tower.
Harry was fortunate enough that this time the staircases were clear, so it took only a minimum amount of time to get to the bottom of the Tower and didn't nearly get knocked down this time. Everyone was currently engrossed in their work and tasks for the day, although there was an occasional soldier, scientist or Athosian milling around. The calmness of Harry's trek down the entire height of the Tower was the luckiest part of his day so far, a fact that amused him and convinced him that the Universe really did have a grudge against him. It did allow him the time to calm himself and put on his neutral expression.
The very bottom floor of the Control Tower had been claimed by the military contingent on Atlantis. The smaller rooms had been assigned as stock rooms, each holding various kinds of equipment. A few of the soldiers with specific duties, such as Sheppard as Head of the Military and Bates as Head of Security, had their own offices to complete paperwork and reports in. The largest room on the floor had been set up as a kind of common room for the soldiers, normally occupied by the marines when the recreation room a few floors up was too full or it was the early hours of the morning so no one would be there. The soldiers kept strange hours due to their patrols so you could guarantee that there would always be someone in the military hanging around their common room. Other rooms were empty and had been set aside to hold the equipment for each of the planned Gateteams. The last room was the primary Armoury. There were a few smaller stores of weapons across the Tower, but the primary Armoury on this floor was restricted. It was outside this room that Bates stood waiting, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Potter." Harry gave the older man a nod when he caught sight of the teen approaching him. "Come with me."
Bates silently led Harry down a short corridor and entered an open doorway. Following him, Harry saw that it was a large, long room. There was a table set to one side, covered in various weapons. Harry saw that there were standard side-arms, the P90s that were standard for the Stargate program and a curved metallic object that Harry recognised from the SGC files as a zat. There was also a long weapon and Harry saw that it was a Wraith stunner when he looked closer. Glancing to the other end of the room, Harry saw that paper targets had been set up. There were the classic bull's-eye and human shaped targets, but some joker marine had drawn a really good picture of a Wraith. It was exaggerated and completely comical.
"Ok Potter." Harry's gaze snapped to the soldier now stood next to the weaponry on the table. "You are here for weapons training. It is a requirement for anyone that will be going offworld. You will need to pass a basic test after we have completed the training. It's nothing too difficult – mainly gun safety and the basics of how to aim and shoot."
"But I'm not going to be going offworld anytime soon."
Bates shook his head. "We are starting to explore this galaxy and your skills may be required. The sooner you pass the tests, the easier it will be if a situation arises. Nothing is ever simple out here in the universe – you can never predict what is going to happen." Bates moved to face the table. "Dr Weir is very insistent that you be on the list of civilians authorised to go offworld." Bates picked up one of the side-arms and turned back to the tech in front of him. "Have you ever used a gun before?"
Harry eyed the gun, contemplating his answer. During the War, Harry had worked with many different allies, from many different nations. Harry had also fought with a number of Muggles, including those in the military. As the War increased in violence, the Wizarding world had no option but to inform the British Government about it. The attacks on Muggles were increasing in frequency, so the Prime Minister and his Cabinet insisted on offering military help. Harry was eager to accept it because it would give them an edge over Voldemort. Riddle had no idea how the modern Muggle world worked, let alone the damage a gun could do. A team of soldiers from the Special Air Service had been informed about the Wizarding world and the War and had been tasked in training Harry and his men in the use of as many Muggle weapons as they could. The lessons had been no-nonsense and brutal at times, but they worked.
All the information about the extensive training that Harry had received, both Magical and Muggle, was in a sealed file and could only be accessed by those that knew about the Magical community on Earth. No one on Atlantis had any idea that Harry was a highly trained soldier that had been on the frontline of a secret guerilla war. And Harry wanted to keep it that way – here, on Atlantis, Harry was a computer tech, genius and geek. He liked things the way they were.
"I've done some clay pigeon shooting." Harry answered carefully. "And I've done all kinds of paintballing – it was a favourite teambuilding activity when I was at the Pentagon."
"Ok then." Bates nodded and leaned back against the table. "Let's get started."
Over the next few hours, Harry was taught the basics of how to use a gun for a second time in just a few years. Bates was a good teacher and Harry was sure that many of his science department colleagues would finds the lessons informative and easy to follow, but as Harry already knew how to use the weapons, it was slightly boring for him. Nevertheless, he forced himself to pay attention to the soldier. When it came time for him to actually practice the weapons, Harry made sure his movements were precise and slow, following Bates' moves exactly. Harry couldn't bring himself to make his aim bad though. By the time they got through all the weapons, Bates was seemingly impressed.
"You have incredible aim Potter."
Harry rubbed his neck. "I've always had good aim. I played a lot of sports at school." As this wasn't technically a lie, Harry didn't feel so bad. He had no option but to bend the truth about his ability with Muggle weapons. There was no way he could explain how a science tech could be so familiar and comfortable with a gun when there was nothing in his file to explain it.
Bates gave a small laugh. "Yeah, well you're a natural. If I have time after teaching all the other civilians on my list and when you pass the proficiency test, then I really want to see you use a sniper. That should be interesting."
Harry said nothing as he slipped the safety on his P90 and carefully gave it back to the still chuckling soldier. Bates mentioning a sniper rifle brought back some good memories for Harry. Ryan, the soldier that had been his main teacher out of all the SAS men that they were assigned, had said nearly exactly the same thing after discovering Harry's impressive aim and quick reflexes. Harry had thought he was joking, until Ryan dragged him out of bed earlier than normal one morning and pulled him into the middle of nowhere. It had been an amazing day for Harry – it was just him and Ryan and the War was a banned topic of conversation. For that reason, Harry's favourite Muggle weapon (besides his sparring sticks and swords) was a sniper rifle.
Harry bypassed the mess hall on his way to his room. He had only gotten around to eating his lunch later in the afternoon and he still had a chocolate bar to devour. As the other techs were still completing a full panel of checks to ensure nothing was damaged during the geologists' little foray into Ancient engineering, the entire population of the City was going to have to put up with MREs for dinner. Harry didn't think he could handle another one of those damn things. It was times like these that Harry wistfully longed for Mrs Weasley's cooking.
Harry locked the door to his room and leaned back against it, eyes closed. It had been an exhausting day, full of stress and annoyance. Harry looked out of his windows at the darkened sky, pushing himself away from the cold metal door and slipping out onto the balcony. Harry spent a moment observing the unfamiliar star constellations. He really needed to learn them. For a moment, he wished he had a telescope so he could look at the sky in more detail. He had never really appreciated what his education at Hogwarts had given him, thinking at the time that subjects like astronomy were useless. Harry chuckled to himself as he thought about what his 11 year old self would say if he could see 18 year old Harry now. Who would have thought that aliens existed, let alone that he would be on an advanced city floating on an alien ocean in a different galaxy?
Harry felt a rush of happiness and sadness as he thought about his days at Hogwarts. They were some of the best memories of his life, but would be forever sullied by the fact that the final battle of the War had taken place there. So many people had died there; many good allies meeting their end. Harry had gone straight from one attack on a Muggle public building to another. To the one where Hermione had been killed. Hermione - the last of his family left alive. He had barely had time to register her death and order his men to take her body to their Headquarters, when word came that Hogwarts was under attack. It had taken everything Harry had to push down his intense emotions and do what he needed to. Kill Voldemort. But he had done it. And the Wizarding world began to build itself back up again.
Harry didn't even bother to tidy his things away, and just let them land where he dropped them or where they hit after they sailed across the room. He was exhausted, but also strangely exhilarated. He had never been one to sit around and do nothing. Harry was the kind of person who was most happy when he was active, either physically doing something or being challenged intellectually and mentally. Atlantis was turning out to be a full time job, with no real end to shifts. Carson was right about that. Today had just been a typical day on Atlantis.
Harry woke up before the sun had risen the next day and well before his alarm was due to blare him awake. He had gone to bed early and so had woken up ridiculously early as well. His room was still dark, the bare minimum of light coming through his windows as the deceptively light curtains blocked most of the shine coming from the illuminated city and stars. Closing his eyes, Harry only lasted a few minutes before deciding that he wouldn't get back to sleep now. Once he was awake he was awake and no amount of wishful thinking on his part would change that.
Harry pulled himself out of bed and almost swore as he tripped over one of his discarded boots. He was paying for his laziness last night. He may have only stumped his toe but it hurt, Goddamnit. Scowling in the near-pitch-black, Harry gave a thoughtless gesture and small balls of light flickered into existence, hovering near the ceiling of his room. Harry felt a sudden rush as he used his magic. He had been suppressing his need to use it for a while, only indulging in small amounts here and there.
No one on Atlantis was authorised to know about the existence of magic and the hidden Wizarding community spread across three continents on Earth. Harry himself had spent the entire War and several months after it helping to rewrite laws and trying to integrate Muggle advancements into the stagnant Wizarding community. They had achieved a great deal, but it was decided that Muggles weren't ready to know about them, just like with the Stargate. Harry wasn't going to break the most important international law of Wizards. Not unless he had no choice but to reveal himself.
The problem was that the people on Atlantis were so Goddamn intelligent and observant. They had to be vigilant when they had made themselves the enemy of space vampire aliens intent on destroying and eating them. They would notice if Harry did something overt with his magic. He loved his magic – it was such a huge part of him. But he was involved in the opportunity of a lifetime and not being able to use his magic was a sacrifice he had to make. It had been a tough choice when he really thought about joining the Expedition, but there was no way he could pass up this chance. And Harry knew that he would have to reveal himself eventually. Either by Universe forcing his hand in a life-or-death situation or when they established contact with Earth again. Harry was planning to petition the Government to allow the existence of his people and their abilities to be revealed to those on Atlantis. Considering what their day job was, it probably wouldn't be the most surprising thing they had ever heard.
Harry relished the flow of energy running through him as he used magic to tidy his room, barely paying attention as he got dressed. Small spells that he had been using for years required almost zero thought. It was stopping the instinct to use his magic for small insignificant things that was the problem. Harry did a lot of things automatically that he couldn't really help without intense self-control. Harry slipped out of his room as the final few bits and pieces settled themselves into their assigned places and fell still.
The sun had come up during this time and Harry extinguished the balls of light about half an hour ago, but it was still an ungodly hour. The corridors were empty as Harry strolled down them and slipped into the mess hall, his stomach reminding him that he skipped dinner last night in favour of a chocolate bar and an early night. There were a few bleary-eyed marines around one table, either just about to start their shift or just finishing it. Harry grabbed some orange juice and still-hot toast from the self-serve table and quietly joined a small group of scientists.
"Morning Harry. You're up early." Marie, one of Carson's nurses, smiled at the young man as he slipped into a chair besides her. She lowered her voice. "We were just discussing the rumours. Have you heard?"
Harry frowned. "There are always rumours, about every conceivable topic. I don't know what you are referring to."
"I meant about the spy that everyone is talking about." Marie's voice lowered further, everyone's attention on her, barring two scientists playing an intense game of chess. "They say one of the Athosians is a Wraith spy."
Murmurs broke out and Harry blanked his features, before looking into his glass, contemplating his juice. Clearing his throat, Harry caught the attention of the table. "I find that hard to believe. All of the Athosians have lost a great deal to the Wraith – family, safety, crops and most recently their home. I can't see any of them risking their people like that."
Marie nodded. "I was saying that as well. It is a little difficult to believe. I'm sure there is some other reasonable explanation. Harry," Marie gave Harry another smile. "Remember that Dr Beckett wanted to change your dressing today." Marie had effectively shut down the conversation, something Harry was grateful for. He certainly didn't think any of the Athosians would be able to bring themselves to risk the lives if their loved ones. Harry nodded at the nurse and looked away from the silent group around the table. He saw Peter entering the mess and head in their direction.
Harry smiled at Peter, who gave a small wave at the younger man, and sat down next to him. "You got the early Control shift today?"
Peter nodded, his eyes following the silent chess match that a pair of scientists were playing. "Yeah? You?"
Harry swallowed the toast and juice rolling around his mouth. "I'm with Rodney and Radek in the Jumper Bay this morning. I've got Control duty this afternoon."
Peter looked at Harry over the chess match. "Jumper Bay? I'm surprised McKay is letting you near one of them. He barely lets Radek near them as it is."
Harry shrugged, watching as one scientist (one of the engineers, if Harry remembered correctly) moved his queen across the board. "I helped Radek when Rodney was almost killed in the Jumper and Stargate incident. I guess that made him trust me with the ships." Harry checked his watch. "Rodney said I had to get there at an inhuman hour, so I better go before he shouts at me. His voice can reach levels that can damage the ears." Harry leaned over to the female biologist contemplating her move and whispered in her ear as he stood up. Her face brightened with a wide grin as she moved her knight. Harry heard her cries of 'Checkmate!" as he was leaving the room.
Harry had reached the Jumper Bay early and was met by a harassed Radek just leaving. He stopped when he saw the Brit. "Ah Harry." H pushed his glasses up to stop them sliding down his nose. Harry just about stopped himself from smiling. He remembered how annoying glasses were and was glad he had gotten his eyes fixed when he did. "Rodney has gone to the Infirmary. He will probably be there a while, whining and complaining. I am going back to my lab. We won't be able to start without Rodney."
Harry followed Radek out of the Jumper Bay, listening to the colourful Czech swears being muttered by the shorter man. If Harry hadn't spent the last few months working with him, Harry would have been shocked that someone as kind and proper as Radek could come up with swears that would make a sailor blush. Chuckling to himself, Harry strode down the empty corridor and entered the Infirmary, smiling back at Marie as she slipped inside the nurses' office. Harry could hear Rodney's voice all way down the corridor as he was approaching the Infirmary and couldn't help the small amount of relief he felt. He knew it wasn't serious, because Radek would have been worried and told him. But that didn't mean Harry wasn't relieved – he had grown attached to the prickly Canadian during the months they had been working together.
"Harry." Carson broke away from Rodney with a sigh of relief. Harry could tell he was starting to get annoyed with the abrasive physicist, quite an achievement on Rodney's part. Carson had the longest fuse Harry had even seen. But Rodney just had that effect on people.
Harry pulled himself up onto the bed next to Rodney's and turned to face the two men. "I've come to get you to change the dressing on my head."
"Aye lad." Harry ignored the Scot as he grabbed a clean dressing and some rubber gloves from a cart next to him. Harry rolled his eyes as Carson's hands clamped his head in place to stop him moving around too much and instead met the gaze of his boss.
"So, what are you in for?"
Rodney huffed and held up his hand. Harry could see a small plaster wrapped around the base of his thumb. "I got a splinter."
"A splinter?" Harry's gaze flicked between Carson and Rodney. "Seriously?"
"Hey!" Rodney's voice was indignant as he glared at Harry. "It was a big metal splinter! And it hurt a lot!"
Harry tried to shake his head, but stopped when Carson tightened his hold and gave him a reprimanding look. "So, are you coming to the Jumper Bay?"
"No." Rodney sounded annoyed as he fiddled with the plaster. "I've got a meeting with Elizabeth right now. I'll meet you there in two hours."
Harry jumped down from the bed and smiled his thanks at Carson, who absently patted his shoulder and moved away to dispose of the gloves and old dressing. Harry waved to the good doctor and his snarky boss as he virtually jogged out of the Infirmary. He wasn't due to actually start any kind of work for two hours now, seeing as it was crazy early. Glancing at his watch, Harry decided that he should take Halling up on his offer to teach Harry the written language of the Athosians. They spoke the same language, but the written portion was completely different to the Roman lettering used in English.
Halling was quick to open his door, despite being on crutches and only using one leg. Harry bowed his head to the man in respect and greeting, who nodded his head back, a smile across his face. "How can I help you today Harry?"
"I was hoping you could teach me the Athosian written language this morning – or at least the basics. If you have time."
Halling's smile widened. "Of course Harry. I have enough time. I am pleased you are interested in our language."
Harry entered the room when Halling gestured him in and sat down on a cushion before a window with light streaming in. Halling struggled for a moment, but finally settles himself down on a cushion a few feet away from Harry.
"It isn't just your written language that interests me. I have an interest in other cultures as well. I would be honoured to learn about your customs and beliefs."
Halling's smile was almost blinding and he enthusiastically began to teach Harry the basics of his people's language. It didn't take Harry long to learn the alphabet and the more common phrases and he was soon flying through translations with Halling's direction. A voice cut through the quiet room.
"You are very talented."
Harry raised his head and saw Teyla observing them. It was the same as when she had bumped into him sparring with his friends. Harry raised an eyebrow at her. Bowing his head deeply in respect for her, he waited until she had replied with her own nod before speaking. "I am good with languages. I enjoy learning them. And yours is somewhat similar to a few we have on Earth."
"Dr Weir mentioned that you were talented at languages. We discussed that you would be useful in trading situations. It shows respect to know another's language and could allow us better trading opportunities."
Harry's other eyebrow rose to meet its brother on his forehead. Now he knew why Elizabeth wanted him to pass all the tests required for him to get offworld. Not that he blamed her – he would have to agree with both Elizabeth's and Teyla's idea. They would most likely get fairer and better trades if they made an effort. They would stick out in the galaxy enough as it was. From what Teyla had told them and Elizabeth had passed onto Harry, most planets in this galaxy weren't nearly as advanced as Earth was. The Wraith were incredibly far ahead of all the others, it was no wonder they had had free rein over this galaxy since the Ancients up and left.
Harry glanced at his watch. "I'm sorry, but I must leave or I will be late." Harry climbed silently and gracefully to his feet. He gave Teyla and Halling a deep nod. "Thank you for all your help, Halling. I will keep practicing and will arrange another meeting with you at your convenience. It was nice talking to you again Teyla. We must arrange a time to meet and spar. I look forward to new partners to practice with."
Teyla gave Harry a sweet smile as she opened the door. "I too must leave. I need to speak to Dr Weir. We will arrange a time to spar. I look forward to it."
Harry leaned further back into his chair and put his feet up on the console before him. Rodney was hovering in the back of the Jumper, reaching up to adjust cables and crystals in the open console above his head and Radek had long seated himself down on the bench, calmly tapping away on his tablet. Harry, having the gene and being able to control Ancient technology much better than that the Canadian, had seated himself in the driver's chair and was browsing through the Jumper's systems. It didn't actually require any physical contact from the gene holder after it had been turned on, so Harry was able to sit back and put his feet up. He had been engrossed in discovering the capabilities of the ship and so had effectively managed to not get involved in discuss about the spy between the two older men. He liked the Athosians and didn't feel right gossiping about them. He knew what it was like to have everyone watching and talking about you.
"I mean, I don't think it's too much to ask." Harry turned his head slightly, confused about the turn in conversation. He had been so engrossed in the Ancient system that the conversation had moved on without him knowing.
"What is it?" Harry silently smirked to himself. It seemed like Rodney hadn't been paying attention to the conversation either.
"Nothing, nothing. I just can't bear the same meal day after day after day." Harry couldn't the snort that almost escaped him. He knew that everyone was starting to get a little bit annoyed with the MREs. It had taken time to test and figure out the kitchen equipment and then they had to run diagnostics and checks after the geologists little gaffe. There hadn't been much real cooked food going around since they got there. Harry's diet was even more limited due to him being a vegetarian.
"Well, buck up a little. I'm trying to run a diagnostic."
"Sorry!" Harry went back to his perusal of the Jumper's systems, ignoring the mild Czech swears being muttered by the shorter man as he apologised to Rodney.
Rodney chose to ignore the murmurs of his colleague, no doubt not understanding how bad the language coming out of the engineer's mouth was. "I mean, we are stranded with limited resources in another galaxy. Come on, the nearest Bob's Big Boy is three hundred million light years away. We have to make do. If that means you have to eat my favourite food two days in a row, so be it."
"You enjoy military rations?!" Harry turned around again, a mildly curious look on his face as he met Radek's gaze. Harry didn't think it was possible for any human to enjoy MREs. It just wasn't normal or natural.
Rodney saw the looks he was getting from his colleagues and shrugged before going back to his work. "I know. It's weird. Hospital food too. The only reason I don't like airplane food is you can't get seconds and I'm an absolute ..." Harry heard a quiet beep. "Hello."
"What is it?"
"Well, it's a command subroutine I've never seen before."
Harry sat up and swung his feet off the console. He twisted around in the chair so he was partially facing the two older men. "Really? That's interesting. You've been over these ships before and never found it."
"Yeah, I was only looking at the primary systems last time. I've gone further this time, into the non-essential systems."
"What is its function?" Radek hovered behind Rodney, trying to see over the slightly taller man's shoulder. Rodney pulled his gaze away from his tablet and gave an annoyed and exasperated huff.
"I don't know because I've never seen it before. OK, I'm going to cross reference this with the, uh, Ancient database up in the Control Room." Rodney reached up and hooked his tablet onto the conduit, careful to make sure it was supported before he let it go. He called back as he wandered down the Jumper's rear exit ramp. "I'm just going to grab the, uh ..."
Harry rose from his chair, intending to follow the scientist as he absently started to make his way across the Jumper bay. As he was passing him, Radek grabbed the tablet strung up and accidently pressed a button. Harry froze as a loud clunking could be heard from outside, above the ship. Harry shook his head as Radek let go of the piece of equipment and held up his hands.
"What was that?" Rodney had stomped back into the Jumper, glaring at the two men stood side by side. Harry held up his hands and gestured to the shorter man next to him. Radek glared at him, but Harry just shrugged.
"I'm not taking the blame for this one Radek. I know not to touch unknown stuff. I've already been zapped once this week saving Kavanaugh's annoying arse."
"No, no, nothing, nothing." Radek could only protest weakly as Rodney's death glare solely turned on him. Harry had to admit that Rodney had a very good mean glare. He would be scared by it if he hadn't faced off with psychotic sociopaths hell bent on cleaning the Earth of 'mudbloods'.
Harry ignored the two men as they argued back and forth, Radek protesting his innocence and Rodney berating him. Instead, he looked warily out of the back of the Jumper as the clunking got louder. He slipped past the two men, not noticing as they followed him down the ramp. A steady humming filled the bay. Harry's gaze snapped upwards and watched, surprised, as the roof of the bay retracted. He could feel bright sunlight warming his face.
"Huh, that was kind of impressive." Harry commented absently, a small grin on his face as he looked at the bright blue sky above him.
"I had no idea the roof could do that."
"Neither did I."
All three stared at the sky for a minute, before they all headed in different directions – Rodney heading to the control room, Radek virtually jogging to his lab in excitement and Harry slinking back into the Jumper to continue his examination of the Jumper's systems.
Harry was barely able to eat his lunch, he was bombarded with so many questions about the retracting roof in the Jumper bay. Gossip sure travelled fast on Atlantis, Harry though sourly as he ducked out of the mess hall and headed towards the Control room. He had no doubt that Radek was the source of the gossip. Rodney was usually too absorbed in work to participate in the scuttlebutt on base and didn't really care anyway. Hearing someone call to him as he swiftly made his way towards the newly-operational transporters, Harry mentally swore and forced a blank look onto his face.
"Hey, it's Potter right?"
Harry turned and saw the young Lieutenant from Sheppard's team hurry up to him. "Yes, it is. Can I help you with something Ford?"
Ford grinned at the younger man. "I heard about the roof in the Jumper bay."
"Yes." Harry replied carefully, forcing down the urge to roll his eyes. "Everyone has by now. Those gossipy scientists have made sure of it."
"Well, I wanted to know if you had heard anything about anyone making use of that opening roof anytime soon."
"I've heard that Major Sheppard is planning on taking out a Jumper in the next few hours to do a quick assessment of this planet. Dr Weir has just given approval. If the Control techs are right."
Ford's grin increased and he nodded to Harry. "Thanks man. I'm gonna go find him and see if I can tag along. I'm just gonna grab some food from the mess to bribe him with."
Harry called out to Ford as he jogged off down the corridor. "Good luck with that."
It wasn't until an hour or so later that he heard about whether Ford had been successful in his quest to convince Sheppard to let him tag along on his mini Jumper joyride. Harry was bored out of his mind in the Control room, monitoring the systems and the Gate readings with other equally bored techs, when his radio crackled. Harry pulled himself up from his minor slumped position in his chair positioned before the dialling console.
"Harry? You are still on Control duty right now, aren't you?"
Harry tapped his radio. "Yes, Elizabeth. I've got another hour until I'm done."
"Would it be possible for you to come to the secondary conference room?"
Harry gave her a positive answer and eagerly rose from his chair. Absolutely nothing had happened all morning in the control room, bar Peter at the far end acting as Flight for Sheppard when he was roving across the planet in the Jumper. Peter took Harry's position at the dialling console, ushering Harry away absently. Harry grabbed his tablet without thought to bring with him. He was either being called to translate something again or for his expertise with the Ancient systems. Either way, his tablet would be useful and he never really like going anywhere without it anyway. It was like another limb to him.
The door to the smaller, secondary conference room opened and closed almost silently as Harry passed through them. Inside, he saw Elizabeth was stood around a table laden with maps and data graphs, Bates, Sheppard, Ford and Rodney stood with her. They all looked excited and Ford nodded to Harry when he entered in the middle of their discussion.
"It's huge." Ford's voice held excitement and awe.
"Define huge." Harry moved to stand next to Rodney, who had wandered to one side of the triangular shaped table.
"Fifteen million square miles. Well, give or take."
"Well, that would make it approximately the size of ... uh ... I have no idea, but it sounds huge."
"About the size of Canada, Russia and the USA combined." Harry spoke absently. Every set of eyes in the room snapped to him in surprise. He blanked his face and gave a slight shrug. "We learnt the order of countries by size and population when I was in Primary school. It was something that my geography teacher was very enthusiastic about. It's just some of the useless information that seems to stick."
Elizabeth knew that Harry didn't like too much attention, so hurried the conversation forward. "How long would it take us to get there?"
"Twenty five minutes by Jumper, ground to ground. I saw some sweet breakers on the south tip. There may be surfing in our future!"
"We should send a team to go get soil and water samples." Bates' voice was neutral, but his face was contemplative as he gazed down at the maps spread in front of him.
"He's right. If the land's arable it could solve a lot of our food production problems." Harry held in a laugh at Rodney's excited comment. If there was one thing other than his work that got Rodney enthusiastic, it was food. Well, that and coffee. Atlantis virtually ran on the stuff.
"Actually, I was thinking of something else." Bates had looked up from his quiet contemplation of the maps and looked hard at Elizabeth. Harry cocked his head to the side slightly, considering what the man was hinting at.
"Not surfing?" Harry rolled his eyes out of sight of everyone in the room. Harry knew that Sheppard was a good leader. His friends were very clear in their support of the Major, even if he was a flyboy. But Harry could see that the pilot was something of a smartarse.
Bates didn't even hide his eye rolling. "No, sir. We can't resume offworld missions as long as the Athosians remain in the city." Ah, there was Bates' point. And whilst Harry was reluctant to pack the Athosians off to live on the mainland, he could see that Bates had a point. The safety of Atlantis was important – not only for the people living in the City, but for all the people on Earth and the other civilisations back in their home galaxy. The Gate on Atlantis was the only one that could establish a wormhole with Earth. The Wraith couldn't reach their home, no matter the cost. It was a tough choice that Harry understood all too well. War had ingrained those choices into him, whether he liked it or not.
"So you wanna dump 'em on the mainland?!" Sheppard's voice was full of indignation and Harry could see the dark glare aimed at Bates. If Harry hadn't faced some seriously crazy and deranged psychopaths, then that look would have sent a chill down Harry's spine.
"You sound like we're sending them out there to die, Major." Harry couldn't help but admire Bates. He seemed barely affected by his Cos mean looks and the hostile edge in his tone.
"Well how the hell would you know?"
It was this point that Harry tuned out the sounds of the minor pissing match going on between the two soldiers. Harry leaned against the table to get a closer look at the maps. It looked like it would be a good place of a settlement. The coast closest to the City had a small beach and a cliff range. Harry could see that there was plenty of flat country space between the beach and the forest indicated on the map. It would be a good place to plant crops, but also close enough to the wooded areas that hunting would be possible with barely any travel and trekking.
Harry's attention was brought back to the group by Sheppard and Bates' voices getting louder with Rodney's sarcasm interjecting every now and then. Elizabeth's quiet and calm tones seemed to bring the conversation back to a civilised level. The sound of his name snapped him out of his study of the survey charts before him.
"Harry." Elizabeth gave him a smile, but it was strained around the edges. "Please search the database and see what information the Ancient's had about the mainland."
Harry nodded and rested his tablet on the table before him. Sliding into a chair, he accessed the Ancient database. The Ancient were poor filers and organisers it seemed, but the more time Harry spent in their systems and databases, the easier it became t get used to the disarray he found. It was a few short minutes until he found anything, but everyone was absorbed in continuing their argument. Harry spent a few minutes reading over the information, contemplating the Ancient words that he didn't know.
"Have you found anything yet?" Harry could hear the annoyance in Elizabeth's voice, but he doubted many of the others could. It was only because Harry had spent so long having to learn how to judge the intentions of others that he could read most people so easily.
Harry cleared his throat carefully, grabbing the attention of the two bickering soldiers. "Yes. The Ancients did a survey of the mainland when the originally occupied this planet. They have noted many different species of wildlife, including a few predators. The database does indicate that the soil and water are viable, but we should still do a survey to make sure. This information is very old and a lot could have changed since the Ancients were here."
"Thank you Harry." Harry nodded in response and quickly escaped the room. There was no way he was getting in the middle of the argument between the senior staff on Atlantis. It wasn't his business what decision they made. Here, he was just a tech – something that he enjoyed. He had spent years being in charge, with many people looking to him to make the decisions. No matter what he had decided, someone would be unhappy with his choice. There was no way to please everyone. Harry was enjoying a break from all that stress.
"Harry Potter. Just the man I was looking for."
Harry turned around from his position next to the central control console, where he was about to displace Peter so he could finish his shift and get to his lab to tinker with some of the more interesting devices that had been found. He still hadn't had a chance to finish looking at that shield device. Stood behind him, with a large and friendly smile on her face, was Atlantis' resident shrink, Dr Heightmeyer.
Seeing Harry looking at her with his eyebrow raised, Heightmeyer was quick to explain. "Dr Weir has asked me to complete an evaluation of those people on the list that will be going offworld in the future. I know that everyone had an assessment on Earth with the psychologists at the SGC, but a more expansive evaluation is needed for those going offworld."
"I have to finish my Control shift right now, Dr Heightmeyer. Could we do this some other time?" Harry had just decided to accept that Elizabeth believed he was going to have to go offworld at some point in the future. He knew that the unexpected always happened, especially to him. He might as well jump through the bureaucratic hoops now to make his life easier in the future.
"You only have ten minutes left. I'll cover them for you."
Harry glared at Peter, who was holding back a smile. No one on Atlantis liked being stuck in a room with a shrink analysing every little detail about them and their mental state. Harry gave Peter one last dark look, before plastering a polite look on his face and following Heightmeyer to her office like a man being led to his doom.
"Thank you for the final lesson before you leave, Halling"
The older man gave Harry a gentle smile. "You are a fast learner. It has been a joy to teach you."
"I hope you like the mainland."
Halling nodded enthusiastically. "I miss being outside, in nature. I miss the sound of the wind in the trees and the animals."
"I know what you mean. I love being on Atlantis, but I sometimes miss nature as well."
Halling eyed the young man before him. The Humans liked to gossip and he had heard a great many different things about the people in the City. But there had not been a lot of information available about the young man before him. He had discovered that he was very talented but that he was also very private. Halling had found him friendly and very willing to learn what Halling had spent time teaching him.
"What was it like where you grew up?" Halling saw the dark-haired man look out the window, quietly contemplating Halling's innocent question. Halling was about to apologise for invading Harry's privacy, when the teen's voice stopped him.
"I grew up with my relatives in a large community, not far from a large city. There were lots of people and houses around. There were parks and gardens, but not much nature otherwise. When I was eleven, I went to a school further north than where I grew up. It was right in the middle of the wilderness, with a huge lake and a large forest. There was only a small village close by."
Halling detected the wistfulness in Harry's voice. "Well, you must come and visit us when we have established our camp on the mainland."
Harry gave Halling a genuine smile, his face open. "That would be nice. It's been years since I've been camping. Thank you."
The door opening stopped Halling's reply and he turned to see Calen stood in his doorway. Calen was a few years younger than Harry and had dark hair and eyes. He was a friendly and bright young man, with a passion for learning new things. It was just Calen and his younger sister – their parents had been culled when they were just children. They had been raised by the village, like all the other Athosian children, even those with one or both parents still alive. Calen had taken a liking to Harry and seemed to look up to him with admiration.
"Harry." Calen bounced on the balls of his feet. "You promised that you would spar with me before we left. You said you would give me advice on how to improve."
Halling smiled. Calen was one of Teyla's most promising students. He had a determination and grace that rivalled Teyla's and his natural enthusiasm drove him to succeed.
"I did." Harry rose from his feet, gathering the notebook he had been using to make notes in during his lesson with Halling and shoving it into his ever-present backpack. "I need to get changed and we will head towards the gym. I also have a leaving present for you." Harry turned to Halling and bowed his head. "Thank you again Halling. I look forward to visiting when you are settled on the mainland."
Harry wandered towards the transporter, the younger man close behind him. On the way to his room, Harry silently considered the Athosian behind him. He had met him at the celebration/welcoming party when they first arrived on Atlantis. Calen had been full of life and a passion for knowledge. Harry had no doubt that he would go far if he had been born on Earth. Calen displayed the same kind of intelligence that all the scientists on Atlantis had – they were all geniuses. Calen was two years younger than Harry, and at 16, was incredibly protective of his younger sister. Ava was only 9 and incredibly shy around everyone but her brother, but Harry saw the same spark of intelligence in her eyes.
Harry slipped into his bathroom and hastily pulled on his gym clothes, tossing his uniform into the wash basket. He really needed to do his laundry soon. The engineers had found machines down near the Infirmary and found, once tested thoroughly, that the machines were the Ancient equivalent of a Laundromat. They hypothesised that the machines, which used sonic waves to clean, were originally used by the infirmary to thoroughly clean linens and other fabric items used by doctors and nurses. A few machines had been set aside for the sole use of the Infirmary, and the rest was for everyone to clean their own clothes and bed linens.
Harry set his backpack down on his bed and grabbed a small pack that he had put there earlier. Harry radioed Nate on his way to the sparring room. "Hey Nate. You free right now?"
"Sure. I've finished patrol. What do you have in mind?"
"I'm going to do some training. Want to meet me in the sparring room?"
"Yeah, sounds good. I'll grab Dan and Zack as well. See you in a few."
The guys were closer to the sparring room than Harry was it seemed, because they were already there when he arrived, Calen trailing behind him. Harry gently set his bag down on the cushioned sill in front of the stained glass window and pulled his shoes and socks off. He slipped his jacket off as well.
"Hey, who's your friend Harry?"
"Oh sorry." Harry gave Calen an encouraging smile. "This is Calen Torgan. He is one of Teyla's students."
"That is so cool." Zack had a look of childish glee on his face. "Teyla can kick some serious ass. I've seen her sparing."
Harry rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Calen, this is Nate, Zack and Dan. Guys, Calen is going to spar with us and we'll give him some advice before he goes to the mainland."
"Awesome. Nice to meet you Cal."
Calen looked confused. "Cal?"
Dan clapped the younger man on the shoulder good-naturedly. "Sure, it's your new nickname. We all have shortened our names. It's what friends do."
Calen's confusion cleared. "Ah, I understand. If you all have shortened your names, then what are your actual names?" Calen gave a small smile. "Human names fascinate me. They are so varied."
Zack gave a small laugh. "Yeah, there are a lot of people on Earth and lots of different cultures. My full name is Zachary, Dan's is Daniel and Nate is Nathaniel. We are all from a large country called the United States of America. But we are from different areas, which is why we have different accents."
"Most of your people seem to be from America. I asked what the different pictures on your uniforms meant. I was told that they are flags from each of your home countries. Earth must have many people if there are so many different places for your people to live." Harry could see the spark for knowledge ignite in the teen's brown eyes. He gave a small smile when said eyes turned to face him, a question in their depths.
"My full name is Harold, but I've never been called that in my entire life. I've always been called Harry. I'm from a small country called England. And there are many people on Earth – billions of people spread across a few hundred countries. The people here on Atlantis only represent a small portion of the nations on our home planet."
"I would like to see your planet very much." Calen's voice was wistful.
"You never know, maybe you will one day. I know most of us Earthlings are just waiting for the day we establish contact with Earth and we can tell them all about what we have discovered in your galaxy."
"So, are we going to start?" Nate was already stretching and limbering up in anticipation.
Harry gave a small smile, and leaned back to grab the bag he had previously set down. "We will in a minute. I have a present for Calen."
Harry handed small bag over to the younger teen, watching as he eagerly opened it and pulled out the contents. The bag was a small leather bag with a strap so it could be worn over the shoulder and securely across the body. Harry had traded with an Athosian for it. It had cost him several chocolate bars, which he had received in payment from Matt in the kitchens for giving him a lesson in Ancient so he could operate the kitchen equipment better. Inside the bag were a handful of pencils and pens, a couple of books from the common room and a hardbound notebook.
"Thank you so much Harry." Calen gave Harry an incredibly bright smile as he flicked through the book. Inside, Harry had painstakingly spent all night writing out the Athosian and English alphabets and all the words that Harry knew how to write in Athosian. Calen had expressed an interest in learning the written language of Humans, and as they used English on Atlantis, Harry decided to teach him. But Calen was heading off to the mainland, so Harry had to improvise.
"I plan on visiting the mainland. So we can have actual lessons. But I thought you might like to start teaching yourself. The books are on loan – they are from the common room. So, when I visit, I will bring some new ones and exchange them."
Harry couldn't help the wide smile that he gave in response to Calen's babbling thanks as they all prepared to do some relaxed sparring.
Harry slowly twirled around in his chair, looking at the ceiling as it slowly rotated around in a circle. He was going to die of complete and utter boredom, no matter how much Peter insisted that it wasn't actually possible. He had only started his Control shift an hour ago, and nothing significant had happened so far. It was half an hour before he started that a Gateteam – Sheppard's team escorting some scientists to study some ruins with a few marines tagging along for good measure – had left Atlantis and Harry was so bored that even watching other people set out on adventures sounded good right about now.
Harry's slow spin was stopped abruptly by the sound of the Gate dialling. His foot darted out to stop his rotation and he sat up straighter at the main console. It took only a moment for his brain to catch up with his stationary state and stop turning, but by then a wormhole was just establish. Harry whacked the shield button and watched as the light shimmered over the bright blue rippling event horizon. A garbled message came through over the radio, too much background noise making it impossible to catch the entire thing, but enough for Harry to get the general gist of things. It seemed like Sheppard's team had run into trouble once again on a mission.
Harry tapped his radio. "Dr Beckett, this is Control. We have a team coming in hot that may require immediate medical assistance."
Harry heard Carson's affirmative reply and knew that he was rushing around to send a med team to the Gateroom ASAP. More garbled noise came over the radio and Harry could definitely hear gun fire. Lots of gunfire.
Elizabeth had rushed out of her office by now and was hovering nervously behind Harry as he disengaged the shield upon receiving the correct IDC. "Gateteam, this is control. The shield is down."
Harry rose from his seat and his eyes followed Elizabeth as she ran to the top of the staircase and jogged down to meet the team. The group of explorers came bursting through the Gate, Rodney and a marine dragging an unconscious Sheppard with them. Harry waited for Ford and Teyla to follow the group through the device, but he shut it down as soon as Sheppard was fully in the Gateroom at the insistence of the marine that he was sure was called Stackhouse. Leaving his console, Harry silently moved to the edge of the control room and leaned against the railings so he could hear what was going on below.
"We have to go back!" Rodney's voice was full of the normal overbearing command and obnoxiousness, but Harry could clearly hear the concern.
"Teyla, Lieutenant Ford?"
"Still on the planet. We have to go back now!" Harry winced at Rodney's tone. He had yet to be on the receiving end of Rodney's really pissed off voice and hoped that he never would be. Rodney had the berating and belittling of those he considered stupid and annoying down to a fine art.
"I'd advise against it. You have Wraith all over the Gate."
"We can't just leave them there!"
Harry moved back to the console, sharing a look with Peter. He may have been bored out of his mind just a few minutes ago, but everyone being on edge and in a bad mood wasn't what he was hoping for. Boredom was favourable any day. Harry concentrated on the console in front of him, trying to ignore the tension that was enveloping the room when Bates came storming in, the marines, Rodney and the other scientist following behind him. Harry saw that they had all spent a short time removing their tactical equipment in the small prep room off the Gateroom.
"How many?" Elizabeth had finally come back into the Control room, a tired and anxious look carefully hidden.
"It's hard to say. Most of them were behind the tree line."
"We're wasting time here. We need to mount a rescue operation." Rodney was full of coiled anxiety and anger. Harry could see that he was barely containing himself from shouting.
Elizabeth rubbed her face and sighed. "I am not going to send anyone through that Gate until I have all the facts, Doctor. How did Teyla and Lieutenant Ford get separated from you?"
"They went to check out the area and try to make contact with some of the natives."
"And whose idea was that?" Bates was virtually snapping at everyone.
"Mine." Harry looked up from the laptop secured on a small table next to the console, where he could monitor the Gate readings. Sheppard sauntered past, a glare aimed at the Head of Security. "She was following my orders."
Harry tuned out of the rest of the conversation. It's not like he got a say in whether they went back to the planet anyway and the tension and anger in the group was virtually suffocating. Address Symbols on the Ancient console started activating and a warning about the incoming wormhole flashed up on the laptop.
Harry raised his voice so it was heard clearly in the still-bickering group. "We have an unscheduled offworld activation." The words were not something that Harry would naturally say, but he had received training at the SGC about the correct terminology that they should use, along with everyone else who had Control duty. The Gate kawhooshed and Harry slide his chair on its smooth wheels so he could type on the laptop without leaning really far. "It's Teyla's I.D.C. Receiving a radio transmission."
Harry typed a command so that the radio transmission was broadcast over the Control room speakers. "This is Teyla. Lieutenant Ford has been wounded. The Wraith are closing in on our position."
"You put down that shield and we could be opening this base up to a Wraith attack."
"Atlantis, please let us through!"
Harry looked up from the screen to see Elizabeth staring down at the Gate, and anguished and indecisive look very much visible to all in the room. She bit her lip and watched as marines flooded the Gateroom, the clicking as they armed and aimed their guns loud and ominous. Harry could see Nate and Zack down in the Gateroom, determined looks carefully masked beneath professional blankness.
"Lieutenant Ford, can you confirm the situation?"
"He is unconscious. Our situation grows desperate. Soon we will have no choice but to go through the Stargate." Harry almost winced at the desperate tone of Teyla's voice. He didn't believe that she could be a spy for the Wraith. He had seen her dedication to her people and couldn't believe that she would do anything to jeopardise their safety.
"We drop that shield and who knows what she'll bring through that Gate with her?"
"Open up the damn Gate!"
Elizabeth locked gazes with the Airforce Major. Coming to a hesitant decision, her voice was soft but clear. "Lower the shield."
Harry quickly leaned over and hit the shield button, watching as the shimmer over the Gate died, causing the marines downstairs to tighten their hold on their weapons. Every one of their guns was trained on the pair of figure coming through the event horizon, one dragging the other. The Gate shut down and Harry saw the Nate and Zack stalk forward, following orders and keeping their guns trained on the Athosian. Teyla glanced up and looked startled for a moment, before backing away from the prone form of Ford. Harry leaned back in his chair in relief that neither of them were dead and watched silently as everyone but the Control staff ran down the stairs to the Gate.
Harry felt someone come and stand behind him and saw Miko smiling softly at him. Harry was confused for a minute, before a consultation of his watch told him that his shift in Control was done for the day. Harry rose, and with one last glance down into the Gateroom, stepped away from his console. Harry nodded to Miko and she slipped into his previously-occupied chair. Harry stuck around for a few minutes, explaining in careful German what to keep an eye on to the German tech that had started his Control duty only 20 minutes ago.
Harry had only just settled into his lab, when a marine hurried in.
"Sergeant Bates wants you in Dr McKay's lab."
Harry nodded and turned back to a laptop he was fixing for one of the ham-fisted marines they seemed to have around Atlantis. "I'll go in a short while. I'm right in the middle of some diagnostics."
The marine shuffled nervously. "No, Sir. Sergeant Bates was insistent that I take you there right now."
Harry sighed, but followed the soldier down the corridor to Rodney's lab. It was a ridiculously short distance and Harry didn't like the implications of Bates thinking he needed a marine escort to make him go there. Bates would still be in a pissed off mood from his confrontation with Elizabeth and Sheppard. That was not something Harry was willing to get in the middle of.
Rodney was stood glaring at Bates, his arms folded across his chest in a classic cantankerous pose. The marine escort disappeared so quickly that Harry would have been convinced he had done a silent-apparition if he didn't know he was the only wizard on the expedition. Bates indicated that Harry should stand next to Rodney with a sharp jerk of his head, which Harry did to appease the man. Harry looked around the room as Bates emptied the cloth bag he had under his arm onto the table. It was just him and Rodney, the rest of the scientists banished by the irate soldier.
Harry focus was brought back to the two men glaring daggers at each other by Rodney's indignant voice. "You want me to go through her stuff?!"
Harry looked down at the table and saw a small array of items scattered over it. He saw a few items of jewellery, a mirror, a hairbrush and a few other trinkets. Harry didn't feel right about going through items that were so personal. Harry didn't care if anyone went through his things – it's not as though he had a lot with him. The main thing that he was very private with was his diary. But he didn't have to worry about that, because it was written in a language that only he on Atlantis could read, write and understand.
"We're looking for weapons, transmitters, recording devices, anything that looks like it's beyond the Athosians' level of technology." Bates looked over at Harry. "This is your area of expertise Potter. Help McKay."
"And if we don't find anything, do we move on to a strip search?"
"Just do it." Bates marched out of the room without a backwards glance at either man. Harry sat himself down on a high metal stool and looked at the Physicist still glaring after Bates.
"I'm not comfortable doing this Rodney." Harry carefully laid the items out on the table and separated them into two halves. "But if we refuse to do it, then Bates will go and bully another scientist into checking all this stuff for him. It would be best of we just check the stuff. At least then we know it is being handled carefully and respectfully."
Rodney sighed but nodded. "I guess you're right." Harry shifted half the pile of stuff closer to the Canadian. "We should just get this out of the way as soon as possible."
Harry picked through the items that were in his half, carefully inspecting them. He dismissed the hairbrush, notebook and mirror as suspect items and was inspecting a glass-beaded necklace for anything abnormal when Rodney's sharp intake of breath caught his attention. He hadn't paid the older man any mind as they both methodically worked through their assigned items, but looked over and saw that the Canadian had hooked up a simple pendant on a leather cord to a few scanning devices.
"What have you found?"
Rodney looked up from his laptop, a confused expression on his face. Harry would have savoured that look, sure that was an extremely rare occasion that the Great Dr Rodney McKay was confused by something, if the situation wasn't so serious. Harry leaned over the table and looked closer at the readings displayed. His eyebrows shot up.
"Is that a continuous, short-range transmission being broadcast?"
"Yes, it is." Rodney set down the metal locket, rubbing his eyes. "Damn, I was so sure Bates was wrong. We've got to tell Sheppard."
Harry shook his head vigorously as Rodney stood up. "No way. I'm not telling him. You should do it – he likes you."
"What makes you think he likes me?" Rodney's voice was snarky and he crossed his arms over his chest.
Harry rolled his eyes slightly. "Please. He asked you to join his team. And he seems to be able to put up with you for prolonged periods of time on your missions without committing homicide."
"What? Why would he want to kill me?"
"Rodney, everyone on Atlantis has wanted to kill you at some point." Harry stood up from his chair and gently set down the beaded necklace he had been studying. "If that is all, I'm just going to go back to my lab….."
Rodney snorted. "Not so fast, Harry. If I have to tell Sheppard, then you will have to help me tell Elizabeth."
"What, so if you suffer, I have to suffer as well? How is that fair?"
Rodney snorted. "It isn't fair. But that's how it's going to happen. So, you head up to the conference room and get Elizabeth on the way and I'll break the good news to the Major."
Harry glared at Rodney before sighing and heading out of the room. "And you wonder why everyone wants to kill you." Even though it was muttered under his breath, Rodney must have still heard, because his indignant shout of denial followed Harry down the corridor as he headed for the stairs. Harry got to the Control room within a few minutes, but he was waylaid by a couple of techs on duty. It took him almost 20 minutes to get them to fully explain what they were arguing about with each other and another 10 to get them to stop. Harry finally resorted to a few harsh words worthy of Rodney in each of the tech's native languages. Problem solved, Harry swiftly moved across the room, avoiding anyone that looked like they wanted to talk to him.
"Where have you been?" Rodney gave Harry a dark glare as the younger man tried to slip unnoticed into the room, which was made impossible by the automatic doors hissing open and closed as he entered. "We started ten minutes ago."
Harry carefully sat himself down, ignoring Sheppard and Bates, who had remained standing and looked at his boss. "I apologise. I got delayed by a couple of technicians on Control duty."
"Is everything ok?" Elizabeth cut in before Rodney could start off on one of his infamous rants.
"Everything is fine. They had a minor disagreement about something that they wanted me to solve. It was a trivial thing." Harry looked up at Rodney, who looked like he really wanted to ask for names, so he could shout at them later. "What have I missed?"
"Teyla wasn't aware of the transmitter in the locket. Sheppard found it among ruins on the Athosian homeworld and gave it to her."
"As I was saying before you got here." Rodney gave Harry one last glare, before carefully laying the necklace on the table in front of Elizabeth and moving to stand next to Sheppard. "The locket isn't powerful enough to send a signal very far, certainly not through subspace. My guess is there are probably relay devices on certain planets that pick up the transmission and then alert the nearest hive ship. Those were the planets where we were attacked."
"Boy, do we owe a few people an apology." Harry looked over at the Major as he glared at the Head of Security. Harry could understand the loyalty that Sheppard had to everyone he had chosen for his team, but Harry could see it from Bates' point of view. The security of Atlantis was his responsibility, and it was better to apologise later than to regret not being cautious, especially when the consequences involved them all being eaten by space vampires and said aliens being able to reach Earth.
"Teyla had no idea she was giving away your position." Harry could hear the relief in Elizabeth's voice and couldn't help but agree with the sentiment. He was glad that Teyla wasn't a traitor.
"She said it was a present from her father. She lost it when she was a kid."
"It was probably dormant 'til Major Sheppard picked it up, activating it."
"If she wore it as a kid, how come they weren't attacked back then?" Bates was good at portraying a carefully blank look, but Harry had perfected his skill at reading people over the years and could see the confusion and curiosity in Bates' eyes.
"Didn't I just say it was dormant?" Harry rolled his eyes at Rodney's annoyed tone. The Canadian was very much aware of how smart he was and enjoyed telling everyone at any opportunity. But sometimes he forgot just how much smarter than the average person he was.
"But if it was activated by touch ..."
"You're not listening. I said Major Sheppard activated it."
Harry cut in before Rodney could make any further snarky comments. It would be typical if Rodney was shot by the Sergeant purely for being the most annoying man who ever lived. "The Wraith would have interest in tracking a normal human. The humans in this galaxy are so far behind the Wraith in terms of technology that they don't present any kind of challenge. The Wraith just choose a planet and then round the humans up like cattle. But someone like Major Sheppard, who has a very specific gene – the Ancient gene – would be of interest to them. Especially considering the very long war between the Ancients and the Wraith. The Wraith would want to keep track of their enemy."
"So some Athosian thought this would make a nice little necklace."
Rodney pulled a face at his team member. "How could I possibly know that? What am I, Answer Man? The point is ..."
"... it wasn't Teyla - or any other Athosian for that matter."
"If that's the case, we can use it against 'em." Sheppard had finally sat down and was looking at the locket with a contemplative look.
Elizabeth seemed to understand what the Major was saying and turned to look at Harry. "Harry, you have been reading up on the Wraith. What can you tell us?"
Harry tilted his head to the side, mentally riffling through all the information he had found in the database about the enemy of the Ancients. "The Ancients, from what I've seen so far, aren't very good at keeping databases. There is little organisation, or it's not like any system I've seen. I've managed to find a large deal on the physiology of the Wraith, but I'm not a biologist, so I sent those files to Carson. I did manage to find a small collection of files about their language and culture." Harry paused, thinking about the scant information that the database had provided. "I've learnt all I can about their spoken language from the database. They can speak and have vocal cords, but they also communicate telepathically – they use the same ability to make people see 'shadows' and to forcibly read minds. They live in hive-like communities, controlled by a Queen."
"Would it be possible to subdue one and capture it alive?"
Harry shook his head. "As I said, I don't know a lot about medicine or biology. You need to talk to Carson to find out is that is possible."
Elizabeth looked at her hands for a moment. "Thank you Harry." She turned to Sheppard, who was sat opposite her. "Major, I want your team to plan a mission. We'll meet again in a few hours for the briefing."
Harry leaned casually against the side of the balcony, watching as those below in the Gateroom checked and double-checked their equipment. He could see the nervous look on Rodney's face and couldn't help but feel sympathy. Rodney was a scientist, not a soldier, but life in this galaxy demanded more than ever from the Earth natives. They would have to toughen up or they wouldn't survive.
The Gate shut down as the last marine made his way through, its ethereal blue light disappearing. Harry turned from his perch and wandered down the main staircase, nodding at the few marines on duty, who nodded back respectfully. Harry was about to cross the room and head down to his lab, when a loud and cheerful voice shouting his name carried across the room. Turning, Harry almost rolled his eyes as his three marine friends hurried towards him, huge grins plastered across their faces.
"Aren't you guys supposed to be on duty?"
"You can be such a buzzkill sometimes Harry." Nate shook his head mockingly, but couldn't erase his grin. "And we are technically on duty. But we have been put down for Jumper lessons right now. You know, because we have the gene."
"Yeah, and you are coming with us."
"Guys, I have work to do. I can't just abandon my lab to go on a joyride in a Jumper with you."
Dan slapped Harry on the back, pulling him towards the stairs. "I've already cleared it with Dr Weir. She seemed eager for you to learn all the offworld skills available."
"Of course she did." Harry shook his head, but allowed himself to be dragged up a floor to the Jumper bay. Elizabeth seemed determined to get Harry offworld.
"Come on guys." Nate bounced over to the back of an open Jumper, making a grin spread across Harry's face. He couldn't help it; the marines all looked like children with free rein in a candy shop. Harry entered the Jumper and saw a marine was powering up the main system.
"Hey Miller. Everything ready?" Dan slipped into the passenger seat and looked at the information being displayed eagerly.
"Yes, Sir." Harry saw the dark haired man look at him in confusion. "Sir? I didn't know that we were taking any civilians with us."
Dan looked over his shoulder. "Oh, that's just Harry. I've cleared it with Dr Weir."
Harry slipped past the marines and gently touched the console. Contact wasn't strictly necessary once the ship had been initialised, but Harry enjoyed the contact and the feeling of the connection with the technology. He accessed all the main systems in no time at all and opened the roof. Turning around, he saw Miller watching him with his eyebrows raised and surprise on his face.
"I've worked on the Jumper systems with Dr McKay and Dr Zelenka. I know how they work, I've just not had a chance to use them practically yet."
Harry moved back and let Miller seat himself in the driver's chair. Harry, Zack and Nate all moved to be behind the seats and watched as the Lieutenant flew the ship carefully out of the bay through the roof. Getting clearance from Control, the marine put his proverbial foot down and increased the speed of the Jumper tenfold. Harry could see on both the screen and out of the window that they were travelling incredibly fast, but he didn't feel anything. The inertial dampners really were something. Harry had appreciated Ancient engineering and technology many times since he had first got his hands on that music box, but this really was the pinnacle of their technology.
"Here you are Sir." Miller moved out of the driver's seat after slowing the Jumper down considerable and he was quickly replaced by Dan. Harry watched as Dan gripped the drive controls tightly, the marine's gaze firmly on the data being shown on the screen. Most of it was pictographic, but the occasional Ancient word would float onto the screen. Dr Jackson had conducted mandatory lessons for all members of the expedition (those that had been at Antarctica at least, a few late recruits hadn't been fortunate enough to have any lessons). It was during these lessons that the linguist had discovered how good at Ancient Harry was and he had enthusiastically monopolised any free time that Harry had when he wasn't jammed under a console. Harry's marine friends had all been to the sessions, but Harry had also taken the time to casually teach them as well. It was all laid back, like when they were at lunch or working out in the base gym, and Harry had found that they learnt better that way. They weren't geniuses with languages like Harry, but they were picking it up faster now that they were surrounded by the language. They would be fluent in Ancient in no time at all, if Harry had any say in it.
"This is so cool." Zack had taken Dan's place in the driver's seat and was speeding the Jumper up, pushing it to the go faster and faster. He performed a roll, causing the view out of the window to suddenly flip over.
"Hmmm, artificial gravity. Impressive." Harry leaned forward and took a long look out of the window. He was suitably impressed by the level of Ancient technology in the small ship. It was so far ahead of where Harry had always believed Muggles to be, that he sometimes couldn't believe he was actually on the Ancient City of Atlantis. He was convinced that he would wake up one day and be back in his apartment in DC, getting ready to go to work at the Pentagon.
"Harry, have a go." Nate grinned widely at Harry and nodded to towards the main controls. "It's amazing."
Harry nodded slightly and gracefully slipped into the vacated seat. He slid his hands into the control grips and held them lightly between his hands. Harry had spent years learning mental control from many different masters of the subject. They all had a different approach and it had taken Harry a long time to find the best way for him. Ancient technology, being based on a combination of the correct genes to activate it and then staunch mental control to make it do what you wanted, was easy for Harry to feel an affinity with. Touch wasn't strictly necessary for some things beyond activation, but Harry enjoyed having the closer contact with the technology.
Being connected with the Jumper was like nothing else Harry had experienced. The closest thing Harry could relate it to was flying a broomstick. The lightest of reactions was required to make the ship do what you wanted it, just like a broom. But the sense of control was so much more than a broomstick. The Jumper was controlled on intent and thought and the sense of connection was greater than with a broom. It was a strange feeling, having so much control over something without having to move out of the comfortable chair inside the Jumper.
Harry flipped the Jumper back around, so that wasn't upside down anymore and pulled it up in a steep climb. At the speed they were going, it only took a matter of minutes for the small ship to break through the atmosphere. Harry quickly established a stable orbit over the planet and leaned back in his chair, a grin on his face as he looked out of the window.
"Wow." Dan was leaning forward in his seat and Nate and Zack pushed forward until they could get a clear view out of the front viewing window. A distracted thought from Harry made the information and planetary telemetry screen disappear, allowing a non-obscured view out of the window.
Harry looked down at the planet as it passed underneath them as they floated in space. Harry knew, on an intellectual level, that he was an alien planet in another galaxy. But the planet itself was so Earth-like, with an ocean that could be any on Earth, that it was easy to forget that they were in different galaxy, lightyears from home. The City itself was their daily reminder about where exactly they were, it was so alien and advanced. But even as intrepid explorers of alien planets, being in space and seeing such a planet from far above was spectacular. Harry couldn't help but think about all the people he had lost in the War – not one of them had every imagined that a Wizard would be getting into space anytime soon. Hermione had been one of the pioneers of Muggle education in the Resistance, valuing knowledge for knowledge's sake. It was something the new Wizarding Nation, made up of Resistance members and their allies, embraced and it was driving a Revolution in their society.
Seeing the beautiful blue orb passing underneath them in silent elegance and glory was enough to make Harry's heartache with memories of his people and those he had lost. It also steeled his determination to make the most of this opportunity he had been given, and live his life as much as he could. Because he wasn't just living for himself – he was living for everyone he had lost as well. For the first time since the War, Harry was ready to move on with his life.
"What does this one do?"
Harry reached over and smacked the hand that was heading towards a small and innocuous device casually set on a lab table. Looking up with a small glare, Harry leaned back in his chair and observed the marine stood before him rubbing his hand.
"Harry. Did you have to smack me so hard?" Nate pouted and rubbed his hand.
"Yes, I did." Harry propped his feet up on the edge of his desk. "You should know not to touch things that you have no idea about. That could have turned you into a frog, or made you blind or changed you into a woman."
Chuckling came from the corner of the room, where Dan and Zack were sprawled on Harry's sofa eating sandwiches pilfered from the mess and chugging coffee. Harry leaned back further into his chair and couldn't help joining in as laughter replaced the chuckles when Nate scowled.
"Yeah, Natalie, we wouldn't want that to happen." Dan laughed harder, gripping his stomach. "Although, maybe you would suit heels and a purse."
"Shut up." Nate muttered and glowered as Harry almost choked with laughter at the mental image Dan was painting. He was laughing so hard with good humour, that he didn't see the looks exchanged by his three friends. They had known Harry a short while and they had all instantly clicked as friends, but they had never seen Harry so unguarded. They all knew that they saw a side of Harry that others on Atlantis, with a few exceptions, never saw. The Brit was so guarded that it was difficult to get any personal information out of him, but the three marines took it as a good sign that Harry was sharing more with them.
"So, how are you guys finding having the gene now that we are on Atlantis?"
Harry swivelled his chair around to face the three marines sat on his sofa and chairs in the corner of his lab/office. Even though one of them had the gene naturally, none of them had much cause to touch any Ancient technology when they were in Antarctica. Harry, as a tech and part of the science department of the Expedition, was surrounded by the Ancient technology at the Antarctica base and was used to it. The marines who had the gene, naturally or artificially, still found the technology a novelty.
The pout on Nate's face from being made fun of disappeared instantly, replaced by a bright smile. "It's amazing! I don't even mind when the scientists want me to be a human light switch and turn stuff on for them."
Harry smirked. The majority of the expedition didn't have the gene, so the science staff needed to go in search of someone with the gene when they found something that needed to be initialised or powered up by a person with Ancient ancestry. The science staff were all polite when they asked the marines to help them out and Harry knew that the marines didn't mind helping out when they could. There were a few that didn't have enough respect for the civilian portion of the Expedition, in Harry's opinion, but they weren't the norm among the soldiers.
Harry glanced at his watch. "I think I'm going to head to the mess and grab something to eat."
Zack heaved himself up into his feet. "I'll come with you."
Harry shook his head. "You guys have just eaten. You can't still be hungry."
Nate rolled his eyes and slapped Harry on the shoulder. "Harry, you know us. We can always fit second helpings in."
Dan slapped Harry's other shoulder, before heading out of the room. "Especially when the kitchen staff have made chocolate cake as a special treat."
Harry blinked for a moment, letting the marine's words sink in. He jogged to catch up with his friends, who were half way to the mess. "Really? Chocolate cake?"
Zack gave a laugh and turned to the other soldiers, who were grinning. "See? I told you that would get his attention."
Harry scowled. "So they aren't serving cake?"
"No, no. They are." Dan couldn't help grabbing Harry around his shoulders and ruffling his hair. The indignant look Harry was giving them all was just too funny. They knew how Harry was when it came to personal space and physical contact, but they had been getting closer to each other. They were all starting to think of each other as family – brothers really. Dan couldn't help treating Harry like the youngest brother of their group.
Harry stiffened for a split second, before forcing himself to relax. For the first time since the War, Harry was feeling as though he was creating a family for himself. These men were all good guys and Harry would be honoured to call them his brothers. It was time to start letting them in, but it would take time for Harry to tell them all about himself and his past. There was still so much that he couldn't tell them – the Magical Law in force across the entire community forbade Harry was telling them everything about himself unless it was a life or death situation.
With his new promise to himself to create a family for himself here at the forefront of his mind, Harry couldn't help the small smile that crossed his face as he watched the marines argue with each other about why Harry got the biggest piece of chocolate cake. They were still in a public place, and years of being taught etiquette had left an ingrained behaviour in him. Even though none of the others knew it, Harry was representing his entire people here and out in the galaxy. He was determined to act correctly and give the best impression of his race.
A tray quietly being set down opposite him caught Harry's attention. He looked up and saw a tired Carson had joined them. The Scot smiled as the marines happily greeted him and raised an eyebrow at Harry's large piece of cake. "I swear, Harry, you eat more sugar than most of the City put together."
Harry ignored the comment, and took another bite of his cake, an eyebrow raised at the Doctor. Carson shook his head. "Well, it doesn't seem to have done you any harm. You're fitter than all the other science staff, and most of the marines, and you do have a good and healthy diet except for the sweet tooth you have."
Harry washed down the last of his cake with a slug from his water bottle and shrugged at the Scottish man. "And don't forget about my faster than normal and highly efficient metabolism."
"Aye, there is that as well, lad."
Wizards were designed to use and manipulate all forms of energy. Evolution had made their metabolism and their entire system almost completely efficient. A very precise combination of genetics allowed Harry's people to mentally manipulate energy of different kinds and bend it to their will. Over the centuries, their skill with this ability had increased exponentially. However, their lack of social evolution meant that their population was isolated to a very small percentage of the entire human race.
"So, Carson, I heard that the mission was a success." Harry leaned forward in his chair. "Everyone come back ok?"
"Aye, lad. They all came back ok. And they have the prisoner."
Dan frowned as Harry tilted his head slightly, a neutral look on his face as he considered the physician's words. "What are you thinking Harry? I know that look – nothing good can come from it."
Harry leaned back, arranging an innocent look to be aimed at his friends. "I have no idea what you are talking about."
Nate gave a snort. "You know exactly what we are talking about. You are too curious for your own good Harry."
Harry just shook his head and Dan suddenly turned serious. "Really Harry, what are you planning to do? Because you aren't going anywhere without us."
Harry sighed, but stood up. "Fine. I need to talk to Dr Weir, but meet me at the transporter near the brig."
Harry swiftly marched out of the mess, ignoring the questions about the brig and his plan thrown at his back by the soldiers and doctor sat at the table. He ducked around the many marines and scientists milling around the corridors as he made his way through the Tower towards the Control room. It was quiet, with only the techs working at the consoles and the Gateroom guard of marines keeping a vigilant eye on proceedings. Harry nodded to the two techs that he had worked extensively with at Antarctica, at the SGC and on Atlantis. Peter and Chuck both nodded back, before going back to monitoring the systems and Gate readings.
Harry crossed the small bridge from the Control room to Elizabeth's office and gently rapped his knuckles on the glass window next to the open door. Elizabeth looked up from the reports she was reading and smiled at the teen politely and patiently waiting in the doorway. She gestured for Harry to enter and watched as the dark-haired man seated himself in front of his desk.
"Harry, what can I do for you?"
Harry sat back in his chair and looked at the older woman for a few minutes, seemingly choosing his words carefully. "You will no doubt refuse my request at first. But I need you to think about it for a moment and see all the positives."
Elizabeth gave a small frown of confusion. "Harry, what are you talking about? You need to explain."
Harry took a deep breath, his face carefully blank and his voice soft but confident. "The Ancient database has a small section on the written and spoken language of the Wraith. Some of the scientists are starting to learn from it, but that will take time. Whilst the Wraith obviously speak the common language in the galaxy, it would be useful to use their own language and see what we can get out of them."
"Ok, I understand that part. Using the Wrath language can be very useful for us. The others will learn it with time. I'm still not sure what you are asking me for, Harry."
"I already know basic Wraith. I've been trawling the databases for information about them since we first encountered them. Know the enemy and all that." Harry eyed Elizabeth over the desk carefully. "And we currently have a live Wraith in a cell."
Harry allowed his words to sink in and saw the exact moment that Elizabeth realised exactly what his request was. "There is chance that I'm letting you into a room with a Wraith."
Harry sighed. "Elizabeth. We both know that there is no way that the Wraith is going to get out of the cell. The Ancient designed and built them incredibly well. I can guess that Major Sheppard has already spoken to him, but didn't manage to get anything out of him. I don't think I will either, but I've got to give it a go."
Harry saw Elizabeth's resolve to deny his request was crumbling and pushed forward with his argument. "The Ancients have a fair bit of information about their technology and fighting capabilities in the database, but only the bare amount of information about their culture and beliefs. I know that you will agree with me that it is important to know everything about an enemy – know how they think, live and what motivates them. The Ancients have very little information about the cultures of any of the people in this galaxy."
"That is true." Elizabeth voice was soft and her eyes locked with Harry's. "Any additional information would certainly be useful."
Harry pulled out his final ace card. "And I'll have the marines on duty guarding the Wraith there, as well as a few others that won't let me go on my own."
Elizabeth sighed. "Ok, fine. You have my permission. I may not like it, but I understand the need. Report to me later this afternoon with anything you find out and enter it into the database as well."
Harry rose from his seat, a small smile directed at the Expedition leader. "Thank you, Elizabeth. I'll see you later."
Harry was contemplating what he was going to say to the Wraith when he exited the transporter and can face to face with three soldiers in full gear and heavily armed. He saw his friends checking their guns and couldn't help shaking his head as he watched Dan tightening his tactical vest to get it fitting comfortably. The marines, finally finished with fussing with their kit, looked up and saw Harry observing them.
"What?" Nate clipped his P90 on and frowned defensively at Harry. "You think we couldn't work out why you wanted to come down here?"
"Or that we wouldn't arm ourselves up?" Zack grinned at the Brit. "Let's get this crazy show on the road eh?"
Dan headed down the corridor, shaking his head. "How did I end up with such crazy people as friends?"
Harry chuckled. "Lack of choice?"
Dan looked over his shoulder and saw Harry's wide grin. "Yeah, that must be it. There is no other explanation as to why I hand around with you people."
Harry forced his humour down as he slipped past the armed marines as the group reached the outer chamber of the brig. A few words with the posted guards, those at the outer- and inner-doorways and the ones watching the camera monitors, confirmed that Elizabeth had already radioed ahead and let them know that Harry and his escort would be coming down to talk to the prisoner.
"Good luck in there." One of the marines entered his password and opened the inner-door to the room holding the cell. "All he does is stare. It makes me nervous."
Harry blanked his face of all emotion and allowed his friends enter the room before him, knowing it would do no good to argue. They positioned themselves half in the shadows, one on each side of the cell except the one facing the door where Harry would enter. They appeared relaxed, but Harry knew that they would explode into action within split-seconds if there was even a hint of trouble. Harry squared his shoulders and calmly entered, the door hissing closed behind him.
The room was dimly lit, the lights mainly aimed at the cell and its occupant. The blue tinge of the metal caused an almost supernatural effect, which was appropriate seeing as the prisoner was a space vampire. The cell was square, with slats running horizontally and close enough together that no one human-sized would ever be able to fit between them. Not that it would make a difference if they did imprison a midget one day – the cell was also contained within its own shield. Shields were the Ancients' speciality it seemed.
The prisoner was tall. Very tall. It was the first thing that Harry noticed about him. He was wearing all black, making him look even more intimidating as it stood out from his white skin. Harry circled the cell slowly, taking in every detail of the alien. Reading descriptions in the database and in reports was one thing, but it didn't even begin to compare to the reality of seeing a Wraith in the flesh. The Wraith ignored Harry as he looked at its long hair, but he knew it was tracking his movements around the cell because he saw its yellow eyes flicker to him occasionally.
Harry came to a stop back at his starting point. Folding his hands together behind his back, he stood casually. The Wraith stared at him, but Harry said nothing and his gaze didn't waver. He wanted to see how long it would take for the Wraith to wonder why he was there. He was disappointed when it only took five minutes of a starring contest for the Wraith to glare and demand answers from him.
"I fail to see what your people think they will achieve by sending a child in here to question me." Feline-like yellow eyes glinted with malice.
Harry kept his tone blank, not wanting to give anything away. "I am not a child."
"I will tell you nothing, so your visit here had been useless. You will suffer greatly when my people come for me."
Harry had to work hard to keep himself from rolling his eyes at the Wraith. The strange and menacing voice held wrath and threat, but Harry had faced enemies before. He had been a leader in a War where people could kill with a thought and very little effort. He was a survivor and warrior and an alien locked in a secure cell certainly didn't scare him. Harry was just glad that his enemy this time wasn't too melodramatic – Death Eaters like theatrics too much, in Harry's opinion.
"I'm not here to interrogate you about your ships, or outposts or your weapons. I want to know about your culture and the society."
Harry didn't think that a Wraith's face was designed to allow for shock, but that hypothesis was proven wrong when surprise flashed across the alien features. It was gone almost as soon as it appeared, but Harry saw it. The feline eyes narrowed at him as he moved a step closer to the cell.
"You cannot trick me, human. Your words mean nothing."
Harry paused for a moment. The Wraith was clearly surprised by Harry's request to learn about Wraith culture, but obviously thought he was trying to trick it into giving away vital military information. Harry was only trying to get whatever he could from the alien. Any information could help them in their fight against the space vampires.
The Wraith was already surprised by Harry, so he decided to put it even further off balance. Harry was never more grateful that he could speak Parseltongue than now – the spoken language of the Wraith was surprisingly guttural and hissing. It would be murder on the vocal cords of a normal person. But Harry was far from normal.
"It is true." Harry kept his language simple and to the point. He only knew the basics of Wraith, but he thought he was progressing quite well. "I really do want to learn about your people. No tricks."
The shocked look was back on the Wraith's face, but this time it didn't disappear. Harry met the yellow gaze of the alien head-on and they held the same still position for a few minutes before the feline eyes narrowed considerably in concentration. Harry was wondering what the alien was doing for a few seconds before he felt it. Energy was reaching out towards Harry, emanating from the alien before him.
Harry was confused for a few minutes, wondering what was happening. Wizards could almost 'feel' each other – it felt as though they were figures of energy. Wizards were taught to reach out for energy and manipulate it to do what they wanted. Mind magic was a very specialised field, but all Wizards were born with a basic instinct to protect themselves from any mental invasion by another.
Harry remembered the notes in the database and from the mission reports. Wraith could make people see 'shadows', causing confusion and basically herding humans were they wanted them to make it easier to collect them all up with their darts. There wasn't much more information about the Wraith's psychic abilities, but Harry thought they could do considerably more than the Ancients ever discovered. Sheppard, in his report about the first rescue mission they went on, noted that the Wraith Queen seemed to be able to read minds.
Harry merely tilted his head to the side slightly, narrowed his eyes and mentally batted the invasion attempt away. The Wraith took a step back as though Harry had smacked him in the face, a silent snarl crossing his features. Another mental attack came at Harry, but he just pushed it away harder.
The Wraith didn't bother speaking Common (as Harry dubbed English in this Galaxy) as it snarled at Harry in the Wraith's native language. "What are you? No human can do these things!"
Harry kept his face blank and his tone neutral. "I have no idea what you are talking about." The only reply Harry got was an animalistic growl. Sighing, Harry turned from the Wraith, who was burning holes in Harry's back with his dark glare.
The soldiers silently followed Harry out of the cells and down the corridor, nodding to the guards as they passed. Not a word was said as they took the transporter to the living quarters. Harry sighed as he entered his room and slinked out to the balcony. He heard his friends removing their weapons and tactical vests and dumping them on the bed. They joined Harry sat at the edge of the balcony, leaning against the railings and dangling his legs over the end.
The silence was broken by Dan sighing. "It has been a long day."
Nate and Zack snorted and Harry shook his head. "It's not over yet though. I'm just taking a small break before I go and meet Dr Weir and tell her how it went."
The men sat for a few moments, enjoying the view as the sun moved towards the horizon, causing the light to glint off the ocean and gleam a thousand colours. Harry saw Nate shifting out of the corner of his eye and leaned back to fully look at him. Feeling Harry's bright emerald gaze on him, Nate stopped moving and smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry. I was trying to figure out a subtle way of asking how it went."
Zack snorted again. "Please, there is no need to be subtle. If you're not going to do it, I will." Zack's glinting eyes focused on the younger man. "So, did you get anything out of the Wraith?"
Harry sighed. "Not really. He was tighter than a clam."
"I gotta tell you Harry." Harry turned and saw Dan looking at him contemplatively. "It was kind of….unsettling, when you starting talking in Wraith."
Harry grinned at his friends. "Really? That's funny – tough marines scared by an alien language."
"Hey." All three marines gave indignant protests, causing Harry to break out in laughter. He relaxed forward, enjoying the short time with his friends as they skived off their duty for a few minutes. It was all go-go-go on Atlantis and Harry found himself savouring the very small number of quiet times, especially when he had good company. These were the new, good memories that Harry was building up for himself and he was creating a new life and family here.
Harry leaned over the laptop, a small frown on his face as he minutely adjusted the bar at the bottom of the screen, his finger delicately using the track pad to make sure it was perfect. Smiling when he got it perfectly in position, Harry tapped a few buttons and looked up at the larger screen attached to the laptop. A large grin appeared on his face as the main title for tonight's film glowed brightly on the large screen. A cheer behind him had Harry grinning wider, shaking his head in exasperation.
It was the first film night on Atlantis, and the sofas that the marines had painstakingly collected from around the city and dragged up many flights of stairs, were getting full up with both soldiers and scientists. Elizabeth had already arranged a cinema schedule back on Earth, based on the films and television programmes that Harry had brought with him on the gifted external hard-drive. The schedule was created by the good old-fashioned way of randomly choosing film names and random theme nights to fit the television series that were available. All off the shows and movies were available on the network, but most people would rather wait until cinema night. Half the fun of a movie was watching it with others.
Harry checked his watch and saw that it was the designated start time. He hit play and someone at the back of the room switched off the lights. The room went quiet, only the occasional mutter and crinkling of smuggled-in snacks breaking into the sounds of the movie. Harry slunk around the edge of the room, taking his seat at the back, where Nate, Zack and Dan were saving him a seat.
"Independence Day?" Dan muttered from his seat next to Harry. "Really Harry? Enjoy irony much?"
Harry gave a low chuckle. "Yeah, General O'Neill saw the movie schedule and insisted that this be the first film shown. He has a great sense of humour."
Dan was quiet for a few minutes as the others gave near-silent laughs, eyes trained on the screen. He muttered again, causing the others to lean closer. "The Gateteams have been arranged. They just need to train people for them. Major Sheppard saw me earlier and explained to me."
Harry shifted closer to the older man so he could hear him better. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. There's gonna be twelve teams. Teams one to four are primary exploration teams, teams five to eight are secondary teams that don't go out as much as the primary teams but still explore and teams nine to twelve are back-up teams that provide support and go back to planets for secondary exploration missions." Dan fell silent and watched the movie in quiet contemplation. Harry didn't think he was going to speak again, but was proven wrong when Dan's quiet voice broke through the loud movie sounds again. "There are only three teams so far – they are training everyone right now so they get offworld experience."
Nate, who was on the other side of Dan, slapped him on the shoulder. Ignoring the glares from the biologist in the row of seats in front of them that they sound caused, Nate grinned. "Going offworld would be awesome! How fun would that be? I wonder who is on the teams so far."
Dan nodded, a small smile on his lips. "Well, you're looking at one of them."
Harry's gaze snapped from the screen, where Will Smith was seeing the big-ass alien spaceship hovering in the sky for the first time. "Whoa, congratulations."
Dan's smile got wider. "Thanks. I have some offworld mission experience – I was posted at the Alpha site for a while before going back to the SGC. I only went on a few missions before I was assigned to the Atlantis expedition and was shipped to Antarctica."
Nate shrugged. "That's awesome. Zack was posted on the Apollo for a while and I was at the Beta site for a few months before going to McMurdo. But neither of us have ever been to another planet before coming to Atlantis."
Harry patted Dan's shoulder, leaning back into his seat to get comfortable. Now that they were settled into Atlantis, the real exploration was beginning and Harry couldn't wait for the adventure to start.