Passing of Sins

Chapter One

Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis was created by Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper. Therefore I don't own Stargate Atlantis or any of the Stargate franchise. I am just playing in the universe and am not making any money from this.

Thanks: To Jolinar Jackson for the being a great beta reader.

~ SGA ~

The muted bleeping of the nearby machines had become all too familiar to Colonel John Sheppard during his time here. Sighing, he opened his eyes to find himself once again in the Atlantis infirmary. The worst part was he had no idea why he was here. Had it been a Wraith stunblast? It didn't feel like he had been shot in any conventional sense. Maybe he'd taken one too many blows while training with Ronon.

Sitting up, Sheppard looked around; Doctor Beckett didn't seem to be on duty for once. Normally the amiable Scotsman made an effort to be about whenever one of Sheppard's team was injured. In fact, Sheppard swung his legs over the gurney, no one seemed about. Even in the middle of the night, you could count on someone being up. The whole place was run by workaholics.

'Hello?' Sheppard slid off the side of the bed, wincing slightly at the coldness of the floor on his bare feet. 'Doctor Beckett? Elizabeth? Teyla . . . anyone?'

It was too quiet; the only sound Sheppard could hear was the faint swish of waves washing against the city outside. A sound that was normally drowned out by the quiet hum of machines or the gentle drone of lowered voices. Where was everyone?

'Should you be up, Colonel?'

Sheppard looked up to see a nurse enter the infirmary, cradling a thick sandwich. 'Huh?'

Oh yeah, real slick, John.

'I know I'm supposed to be on duty but,' the nurse waved her sandwich about, 'I got a bit peckish. You won't tell Doctor Beckett on me, will you?'

'Your secret is safe with me,' Sheppard tried to remember the nurse's name. He just didn't have the knack of name recall that Weir had. 'Rodriguez, right?'

'Yes, sir.' Rodriguez shyly smiled as she held out the sandwich. 'Are you hungry, sir?'

For the briefest of seconds, the nurse's face seemed to blur, exposing some twisted dark face that snarled back at Sheppard.

Blinking in surprise Sheppard stepped backwards. 'Uh, no thanks.' Trying to act casually, he changed the movement so that he placed the bed between the two of them. 'Say, where is everyone?'

'Sleeping, sir, everyone's asleep except for us.' Noticing Sheppard's actions, Rodriguez frowned. 'Is everything alright, sir?'

'Just looking for my boots.'

Thrown by the sudden change of conversation, Rodriguez just shrugged. 'Uh, in the locker?'

'And my P90?'

'In the armoury down stairs.' Rodriquez frown deepened.

'Good, good, safety first eh?' Sheppard nodded like he expected the answer, which in fact, he did. Anything else would have been against protocol. But what if he had just seen hiding behind Rodriquez's face was real? Just this once, he wished his team had been a little slack in that department.

'Are you sure you're alright?'

Sheppard smiled at the nurse. 'Just dandy, don't let me keep you from your sandwich.'

'Oh,' Rodriguez nodded, 'yes, sir.'

Sheppard watched as Nurse Rodriguez walked over to the other side of the room and settled herself down at a desk. Picking up a pen, she began to make some notes on a chart.

'So,' Sheppard looked about the room. 'Rest of the team get back okay?'

'Yes, sir.'

'What? Even Rodney?'

Rodriquez giggled slightly. ''Fraid so, sir.'

'Typical, and you know you don't have to keep calling me 'sir'.'

'Yes, s – uh . . . Colonel Sheppard.'

'See, that's much more informal.' Sheppard sighed before something caught his eye.

'You really should get back into bed, sir. Doctor's orders.' Rodriquez turned her chair to look up at Sheppard. 'Or do I have to call Doctor Beckett?'

John held up his hands in surrender. 'Couldn't get the good doc outta bed, I'll behave.'

'Good night, then.'

'Night.' Waving at the nurse, Sheppard pulled across the privacy screen next to him and sat down heavily on the bed. He sat there cross-legged for several minutes, just waiting. Waiting as Nurse Rodriquez settled back down and silence crept back into the room.

As soon as several minutes passed, Sheppard slid quietly across the bed and stepped down on the other side. Moving away from the gurney he peered around the privacy screen. Seeing that Rodriquez was bent over some paperwork, he hurried over to a nearby tray and picked up the scalpel he had just spotted a few minutes ago. Armed and feeling cranky, Colonel John Sheppard tiptoed out of the infirmary.

~ SGA ~

Too quiet, too quiet, Atlantis was way too quiet. Sheppard jogged down the corridor, feeling overexposed in his hospital pyjamas.

Priorities, John. Find my team, find some weapons, not to mention some shoes and save the day. Yeah, same old, same old, except maybe for the shoes part.

Sheppard slowed as he came to another junction, should he go up towards the Control Room or head down? Any enemy's priority would be to secure the 'gate so going up would at least let him see who, or what, he was dealing with . . . on the other hand, he'd prefer to do that with a little more than a scalpel and the thin clothes on his back. Nobody could have taken this station without at least some resistance and anyone not initially captured, and Sheppard would have bet heavily on his team being some of them, would have scattered downwards to hide.

'Down it is,' he muttered to himself.

There was a transport chamber two corridors over to the left; with a destination in mind, Sheppard ducked his head around the corner. Seeing that the way was clear, he continued jogging along the corridor.

~ SGA ~

Sheppard was peering around the last corner, just observing the transport chamber in case anyone thought of using it in the next few seconds, when someone bumped into him from behind.

'Watch it, you idi-, hey!'

Sheppard recognised Rodney McKay's voice in mid turn and he quickly hid the scalpel behind his leg. 'Rodney?'

'What are you doing out of bed, does Carson know you're up?'

'Yeah, sure,' Sheppard lied, 'what are you doing up?'

'I'm always up.'

'And eating,' John observed the large sandwich and mug of coffee that Rodney was cradling.

'I always do that, too.'

The two men stared at each other for a few minutes.

'So,' Sheppard drew the sound out. 'Whatcha doing?'

Rodney shrugged, 'Oh, you know. You must be feeling better.'

It was Sheppard's turn to shrug. 'Don't really remember. Say, Rodney, where is everyone?'

'Everyone?' Rodney took a bite out of his sandwich. 'Oh, about,' he mumbled.

'Does anything seem a little strange to you?'

Rodney swallowed before answering. 'Strange? Everything is strange around here. I'd be more worried about things appearing normal.'

Now that he mentioned it John realised that normal was . . . well . . . not the norm anymore. Still, he knew Rodney as well as most people around here, knew the brilliant scientist enough to know that he wouldn't just be standing about casually if things had really hit the fan. No one liked a panic more than Doctor Rodney McKay, not even Zelenka. To see him just casually wandering about, stuffing his face, like nothing was wrong, it just didn't make sense.

'Listen, there's been no blips on the intergalactic radar recently, has there? No unusual behaviour from returning teams, no unexpected visitors?'

Rodney shook his head, preparing to take another bite. 'Nope, everything's normal.'

There was that 'n' word again. It wasn't some McKay code for "help us we've been taken over by shape changing monsters and we need rescuing", was it? Sheppard watched McKay take another bite out of his sandwich.

McKay noticed Sheppard staring at his food. 'What?'

'Just never seen anyone combine tuna, horse radish, pickles and mustard before, not to mention. . . ' He leant forwards slightly as he caught a sniff of something . . . was that lemon? There was no way Rodney would voluntarily put himself anywhere near citrus fruit, unless this wasn't the real Rodney McKay.

Think, John, think, the station has been overrun and the enemy could be anyone. They don't know you know, yet, so maybe if you just play along for a bit.

'Maybe I'm just hungry. So everything's normal?'

McKay nodded, 'As it ever gets around here.'

'And Teyla and Ronon?'

McKay shrugged, 'Who knows, probably beating each other up somewhere.'

'What about Elizabeth?'

'Oh, she's not here.'

Sheppard went very still. 'What do you mean she's not here?'

'Uh, she's off world? Yes, yes, she went off world. Some diplomatic thing, I wasn't paying much attention. You mean she didn't tell you?'

They didn't have Weir. Sheppard was counting on some physical contact to make the shape shifting change work, without a body you had no impostor; if they had Elizabeth Weir they would have paraded her before him by now. As the two ranking members of Atlantis, these shape changers would need both of them if they were going to successfully impersonate the station's crew and prepare to invade Stargate Command of whatever it was they were working towards. Not being a big fan of politics and subterfuge Sheppard decided enough was enough. Maybe it was time to go on the offensive.

'Maybe I should go up to Command, seems like I've been missing out on a lot of things.'

Sheppard began to move around McKay, only to find the Canadian blocking his path.

'I don't think that's such a good idea,' McKay said.

'Really?'

'Uh, look you're obviously not completely well. I mean you've been sick and are you sure Carson knows you're up and about?'

'Rodney,' Sheppard growled, 'move.'

McKay blocked Sheppard again. 'No!'

'McKay, I order you to get out of my way.'

'You can't order me around! I'm a civilian. Look, you're not yourself at the moment.'

Sheppard laughed. 'I'm not myself? How's that slice of lemon in your sandwich, Rodney?'

Show yourself, you bastard. Prove me right.

As if on cue McKay's face blurred slightly, revealing some dark monstrosity underneath.

'John!'

Grabbing a fistful of shirt Sheppard pulled McKay towards him, sidestepping the spluttering Canadian, Sheppard slipped behind McKay bringing the scalpel up to rest at McKay's throat as they both ended up facing the threat that had snuck up behind him. The startled squeak from Rodney and the shattering of a ceramic mug the only sound as Sheppard looked toward the person who had called out his name. So much for the hope that Weir still remained free.

They must have come out of the Transport Chamber while Rodney was distracting him. Now the whole gang was here: Weir, Teyla, Ronon, McKay and Beckett.

'John,' Elizabeth said again, 'what are you doing?'

'What am I doing?' Sheppard nodded towards Ronon, who had his big ass gun out and pointing in his direction. 'How about what is he doing?'

Weir looked towards Ronon. 'His job.'

'That's on stun, right?' Sheppard asked.

Ronon hesitated slightly before replying. 'Yes.'

'You do realise that if you hit me, you'll get McKay too.'

Ronon shrugged. 'I can live with that.'

'Whoa, whoa, whoa, will I?' McKay asked.

Teyla stepped forward and placed a hand on Ronon's arm. 'Perhaps we should all lower our weapons, including you, John.'

'Yeah,' Sheppard tightened his grip on the scalpel. 'I have a slight problem with that.'

'Ronon, lower your weapon,' Weir said.

'Are you serious?' Ronon asked.

'As a sign of trust.'

Ronon grunted as he looked from Weir to Teyla to Sheppard before angrily slamming his gun back into its holster.

Everyone looked towards Sheppard. 'No way, not gonna happen.'

'If I didn't know better, John,' Weir said, 'I'd think you didn't trust us.'

Sheppard laughed. He was standing here having a nice chat with shape changing aliens. He should be on the attack, not exchanging pleasantries. But it was hard not to think of these people as his friends. They looked like them, they sounded like them, hell they acted exactly like them. They just lulled you into a false sense of safety.

Hey everything's fine, we're all buddies here!

'I don't trust you?' he asked. 'Normally I'd trust you all with my life, hell several times over, but you're not you, Elizabeth.'

'Then who am I?'

'You're aliens, shape changing aliens. You've taken over Atlantis, and you're impersonating everyone here.'

Beckett sighed, 'I think I might have an explanation.'

'To shape changing aliens?' Sheppard laughed slightly, 'I'd love to hear it, Doc.'

'Colonel, you've been ill,' Beckett said.

'Look,' Sheppard said, 'I've got a headache, sure, but I'm fine.'

'No, son, you're not.'

'John, what do you remember about your last mission?' Elizabeth asked.

Sheppard tried thinking back, where had they been again? 'It was some little village; we're always visiting little villages. Nothing exciting happened and we all came home.'

'John, you walked into a Wraith trap. There were heavy casualties with Major Svenson and his team, you barely made it back alive.'

'Pretty sure I would have remembered that.'

'Remembered?' McKay said. 'You froze and almost got us all killed. I had to fly the Jumper back and you know how much I enjoy that!'

'No!' Sheppard's hand tightened on the scalpel. 'I would have remembered!'

Weir and Beckett looked at each other. 'Son,' Beckett started.

'Drop the home spun twaddle, Beckett,' Sheppard snapped.

'Colonel, you've had a psychotic break,' Beckett said. 'I'm sorry, the pressures we've all been under . . . some people cope with it better than others.'

'No, you're lying.'

'We were all there when it happened,' Rodney said. 'You were crying like a baby.'

'Do you really think annoying me is in your best interest at the moment?' Sheppard asked Rodney.

Rodney gulped and then winced as he felt the slight sting of a cut over his Adam's apple, 'Actually, maybe you're right, carry on.'

'John,' Elizabeth said, 'I'm afraid it's true, you're not well. I've already contacted the SGC and recommended that Colonel Caldwell replace you immediately. I'm sorry; I honestly thought you were the man for the job.'

'I am the man for the job. Why am I even arguing with you about this?' Sheppard said. 'It's obvious this is some kind of trick, you want me out of the way so you can take over not only Atlantis but Earth, too.'

'John, this is no trick, we aren't aliens,' Elizabeth said. 'We're your friends and we're worried about you.'

'I must be immune to whatever crap you're peddling, you can't change me so you're going to lock me up in a rubber room and keep me out of the way.'

'Colonel Sheppard, John,' Teyla spoke up, 'please believe we're only here to help you.'

'Somehow I doubt that.'

'Colonel,' Beckett said, 'look at it from our point of view. We've seen a lot of things in the Pegasus Galaxy, but shape changing aliens?'

'What if I had proof?' Sheppard said.

Weir and Beckett looked at each other. 'What kind of proof?' Weir asked.

Oh, now there were getting worried. They were wondering what he had, what they might have missed.

'Let's just say I have a keen sense of smell.'

'You've been smelling things?' Weir asked.

'Olfactory hallucinations aren't common,' Beckett said to Weir. 'But they can occur.'

Obviously he had to spell it out to them. 'I'm not talking about hallucinations, I'm talking about fact. McKay plus citrus equals you didn't do your homework too well.'

'Everyone knows that Rodney is allergic to citrus,' Weir said. 'He's always telling people.'

'Hey, I'm right here you know,' Rodney said.

'Shut up, Rodney,' Weir and Sheppard both said at the same time.

'Fine,' Sheppard said. 'You want proof? I'll give you real proof. Let's see what's really inside.'

Sheppard pushed McKay in the back of the knees forcing the smaller man towards the ground. The others were too slow to react as Sheppard forced McKay's head back and sliced his throat with the scalpel.

~ SGA ~

'KILL YOU ALL!'

John Sheppard sat bolt upright in the infirmary screaming his anger and rage at the world, his hair was plastered flat with sweat and his eyes, large and dilated, darted unseeing about the room. Ronon and a couple of male nurses where struggling to keep him leaping off the bed and attacking anyone.

'I need those restraints, now!' Beckett snapped. 'And get me another 30ccs of Haldol.'

One of the other doctors tossed Beckett a padded leather restraint as she took the other one over to the far side of the bed. Wriggling in between Ronon and the wall, she attached the strap to the metal bed and grabbed for Sheppard's arm. 'A little help,' she said.

Teyla rushed forward and also grabbed his arm, with Ronon pushing the Colonel to lie back down; together they managed to restrain his right arm. Looking over the other side of the bed, they saw that Beckett had done the same. Ronon moved to the bottom of the bed and grabbed Sheppard's legs as the man bucked and rocked, trying to break free.

Sighing Beckett accepted a syringe. 'I hope this works,' he said as he inserted the needle into the Colonel's arm. Looking up he addressed Weir who was standing back with McKay. 'I don't understand it,' he said. 'I've given him enough sedative to knock out a horse.'

Weir crossed her arms. 'Do we know what's wrong with him?'

'Right now, I have no bloody idea. I'm hard pressed just to keep him sedated. What happened out there?'

Both Beckett and Weir turned to look at McKay.

McKay crossed then uncrossed his arms again. 'Don't look at me, this is not my fault!'

'Rodney,' Weir warned.

'It was the artefact,' Rodney said. 'He passed out right after the ceremony. Ronon had to stun him just to be sure and then we had to drag him back to the Puddle Jumper and you know how much I enjoy flying that thing through the Stargate.'

Elizabeth Weir looked over at Sheppard. 'What exactly happened out there?'

'Oh well –'

Weir held up one hand to stop McKay. 'I want a full report from all of you immediately in my office.' She looked over at Beckett. 'Carson you'll keep me informed about any changes?'

Beckett nodded. 'You'll know as soon as I do.'

'And the artefact?'

'It's not like we could bring the thing back but I left Zelenka all my scans, he has them in the lab,' Rodney said.

Weir touched her earpiece 'Doctor Zelenka?'

'Yes?'

'Find out everything you can about this artefact, and I don't have to remind you,' she glanced over at Sheppard's comatose body, 'time is of the essence here.'

'Of course, I'll contact you the minute I find something of importance.'

'Thank you.' Weir looked at Rodney, Teyla and Ronon. 'Now tell me everything.'