Sometime...Somehow... Part IV

Hi lovely readers! Again, there is geek-speak in this chapter. Plus there may be some details as to canon that could be off. I have not watched every episode of the wonderful SG:Atlantis (roughly half and not all in the proper order), and no doubt have missed some things in the telling of the tale. So try to be gentle if I have made a canonical error here and there.

"Hey - Rodney."

Rodney had spent a terrible night with The Pain, and then a fruitless hour trying to find one of the Goliaths to dig out of the sand. They were hard to find when they were buried. You had to know how to spot the particular depression in the surface and then to know precisely where to place your feet before you plunged your blade. He missed sometimes, like today. A few dried twigs of the Plant had served as dinner. Not enough to fill the growing hole in his stomach.

Rodney considered going outside and trying again for a Goliath when John Sheppard walked in through the cave door and spoke.

Rodney could not help himself when a smile cracked his chapped lips like he had just swallowed the sunshine. It was so good to see him. "John? What are you doing here?"

"Aren't you going to invite me in?"

Rodney frowned and then nodded quickly, not wanting to be rude. "Yeah, sure, it's just that...I haven't seen you for a while. Where've you been?"

Sheppard leaned against the rough wall, crossing his arms. "Well, you know, out saving the Galaxy."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "I mean other than that?"

"Keeping busy. How about you?"

Rodney looked around at his cave, embarrassed at his meager possessions and the cramped space. "Oh, I've been here."He waved a casual hand at the mess of discarded Goliath shells. "You know same ol', same ol'..."

Sheppard nodded. "We really appreciated it, Rodney, I mean sacrificing your life like that, really." Sheppard crossed his arms and said with a hint of let-down. "But your planet, it's kind of a disappointment."

Rodney snapped with irony "Well, I was in the market for something better, but this was real cheap!"

"Yeah, Rodney, but sand? Bugs? I think your program fell a bit short."

Rodney felt his face flush. "I didn't have time." He didn't look at Sheppard, ashamed for what he'd been reduced to. "Besides it's not so bad. It's kind of grown on me. I've gotten used to it."

Sheppard nodded. "We couldn't look for you. IOA orders and all, sorry about that."

Rodney had known all along of course. He nodded vigorously before he spoke, making certain there was no hint of disappointment in his voice or on his face. "Sure. I understand. You had to follow orders." Rodney shook off the apology from the Colonel. The sadness that sprung up in his chest was just an itch. Not even enough to bother scratching it away. "I like it here now anyway. Even if you had come, I wouldn't have come back with you."

Sheppard chuckled. "Really?"

Rodney raised his head up higher. "Yes - really." He went back to massaging his painful feet, which Sheppard's visit had interrupted. "It's a fascinating world, it really is. Did you know there is only one species of animal in this entire valley? The ecto-skeletal glands at the base of its claws contain both a neurotoxin and a mild anesthetic. Do you know how rare that is?"

"No."

"Well it is. And I know how to extract both substances." Rodney threw a dirt-encrusted hand toward the cave opening. "There might be only a dozen planets or so in the whole Pegasus Galaxy with creatures like that and I – just meI extracted both excretions from dozens of Goliaths and have my own supply now."

Uninterested in Rodney's scientific accomplishments "Nice bed," Sheppard said, giving Rodney a "thumbs-up" sign. Regarding him with a patronizing grin he added "And I suppose you named the planet after yourself?"

"Of course not," Rodney protested "Just the mountain. McKay wanted me to name it after him but I refused."

"Rodney..."

"McKay's a jerk. I can see why nobody ever liked him. He lectures everyone, he's egotistical, he-he's rude..."

"Rodney..."

"I don't know why I ever put up with him for as long as I did. So you know what? A few months ago I sent him packing!" Rodney smiled at the memory. "Ha! I'm the boss here, not him." Rodney massaged his feet until they were numb. It was the only way to get through the night. "Oh he comes back once in a while to mock me or to tell me about some stupid new theory of his but I'm all about ignoring him now." Even though his feet hurt, he felt like singing because Sheppard was here now.

Rodney massaged his blackened feet like a man possessed, his fingers stroking up and down the underside as fast as he could move them. His hands were frantic, spurred on by the dipping sun and the visitor leaning in the doorway. There was still so much to talk about!

He turned around to share something with his friend.

But Sheppard was gone.

Rodney swallowed hard, his heart pounding like a native drum in his thin chest. "Sheppard..?" He bit his lip and waited to hear any sign that Sheppard had merely slipped out the door for a breath of fresh air or to take a stroll. "John? Hey John – a-are you out there?" The valley below was silent.

Rodney sniffed, shaking off his former colleague's quick-fire visit. He whipped his head back around, stubbornly ignoring the empty cave. People came and went all the time here. No big deal. Even that idiot McKay still popped in now and then.

Rodney brightened with the thought. If McKay decided to drop by then Rodney could tell him that Sheppard had come to see him. To see him, not McKay.

Delighted, Rodney went back to attending to his painful feet.

XXX

Sheppard was bounced out of bed with a call on his radio and a city-wide announcement for him to report to the labs. Sheppard scrambled into his uniform, just the basics – he was in a hurry – although he did take up his gun. Loading the weapon from a cache of rounds he kept in a drawer beside his bed, he tucked it into the holster and strapped it on.

Shaking the cobwebs from his head on the way – a weird dream where he was talking to McKay about...he couldn't remember - when he arrived Zelenka was there, as was Doctor Weir and his two top team members Teyla and Ronan.

Ronan clarified things without the preamble others usually stuck in at the beginning of every dire announcement. "There's more."

Sheppard had grown to prefer Ronan's clipped way, and understood exactly what meant. "Iratus bugs."

Zelenka nodded. "Two more of my lab assistants were attacked this morning. They're in the infirmary."

Weir looked at Sheppard and, when she spoke, he gauged her tone in the ballpark of accusing.

"You said there were no more." She reminded him. "You told me you were sure."

Sheppard grit his teeth. "I said there was no guarantee." Sheppard glanced at Zelenka and then down the dim corridor. "Radek - you, Rodney and Becket studied these damn things, so here's the question: how many do you suppose there might be that we can't see, considering the three we've already seen?"

Zelenka did a quick mental calculation. "Um, well, based on our studies of the Iratus and of similar Earth-borne insect populations according to species, such as the cockroach, termites, and several oth-"

Sheppard snapped "Don't give me the lecture hall version! How many?"

"Oh, perhaps two-"

"Two?" That wasn't so bad. Sheppard relaxed a bit. "A couple of well placed rounds ought to do it."

Zelenka looked at Weir. "No, no, Colonel, two-thousand – and that's breeding adults."

Weir asked "Let's assume they are breeding. What about the nests - how many eggs?"

Zelenka looked uncomfortable. "If indeed a new generation has been laid, then we can expect anywhere from one to two-hundred-thousand eggs, with a total incubation period of perhaps eight or nine days for the first batch."

Teyla asked "How many more batches would there be?"

Zelenka wished he could say zero. "Three at least, maybe four cycles of laying and hatching in the first few weeks. If all survive – and there are no natural predators on Atlantis therefore almost all of them would – we can figure a number upwards of eight-hundred thousand to a million maturing Iratus by the end of next month."

Sheppard stared at him and Zelenka rushed to explain. "You didn't let me finish before. The Iratus bug is a prolific breeder, even more so than most crawling insects, so that number is an estimate. And no one's ever made a definitive study of the Iratus except the Wraith so that number's probably a conservative estimate."

"Probably a conservative estimate." Sheppard echoed.

Weir shivered at the thought of a million Iratus crawling the walls and corridors of Atlantis.

"Great, Radek." Sheppard remarked. "That's just great."

The tension between Sheppard and Zelenka was as thick as butter. Weir decided it was the perfect moment to step up and curtail any throwing of accusations until a more appropriate time. "Well, we all have our work cut out for us, don't we?" then to Zelenka "I guess you and Becket have some brainstorming to do – rapidly, on how to eradicate the bugs and their nests, if there are any." And to Sheppard "Get your people, all of them, ready and hunt these things down as fast as you can. Meanwhile I'll call for a general evacuation except for a skeleton crew. Find out where things are hiding John."

Sheppard knew it would be a losing battle. "Two thousand of them." He reminded her. "And the eggs." A conservative estimate, most of them well hidden and all of which would be fiercely protected by the parents. So well hidden in fact that our first sweep had missed every single one of them.

"I know." She said. "I know, but we have to start somewhere."

XXX

The glandular excretions of the Goliath beetle brought some, but not total, relief of his pain. His hands and feet hurt most of the time. He could not see the wound on his back but felt it healing up well despite his having no choice but to neglect it. He had no clean bandages anyway and no salve or any other treatment for it, but to leave it alone and hope infection did not set in. Fortunately on such an arid world, bacteria had a hard time proliferating and none had.

Nature took its course. With every movement however, Rodney could feel the pull of the thick scab on the untouched skin around it, and he had to be careful. He would have a hell of a scar but that couldn't be helped. No one was around to see it anyway.

Incredibly, a shower of rain fell that evening, an event that had only occurred twice before during his three year sojourn on Gobi Prime and Rodney laid out a dozen upturned Goliath shells to collect it. It was wonderful to have extra water to rinse out his one shirt, thread-bare but still together, the worst of the rips and tears sewn back together with some handy strips of dried root using a needle fashioned from the claw of a new-born Goliath. Patchwork in some places had been created using his underclothing which he had sacrificed to the job during the second year of his arrival.

Stripped down to his birthday suit, it felt glorious to wash away the worst of the dirt from his body. Thin, shaking fingers rubbed up and down his sides, playing across his ribs like a stick on a picket fence, and reaching as far up the non-scabbed parts of his back as his hands would reach.

Next he worked on his legs and feet, the water in the boot by now black with filth. With the last few wrings of his rag he wiped the dirt off his shoes. The rest of the water was too dirty for anything except to pour out onto the ground at the entrance to the cave. What did not immediately soak into the sand the heat swiftly took away.

"You are so thin."

Rodney snapped his head around to see Teyla sitting cross-legged beside his bed of shards. He suddenly sensed his nakedness and with some embarrassment pulled his pants and shirt on. "Teyla? Did John send you?"

Teyla nodded her head, smiling ever so kindly. "Of course."

Rodney always liked Teyla; she was always nice to him. She was nice to everyone - McKay too, even when he didn't deserve it which was most of the time. "Why are you here?"

"Can a friend not visit a friend?" She patted his bed of shards with her hand, inviting him to sit beside her.

He did but in a spot farther away than what she had indicated.

"Do I frighten you Rodney?"

He lifted his chin but didn't look at her beautiful face directly. "Frighten? No, of course not."

Teyla threw him a knowing smile. "But I make you nervous, do I not?"

Rodney looked away to the other side of the cave. Teyla had never made him nervous - not exactly nervous, just less comfortable in his own skin. But it wasn't her fault, he always felt that way around very beautiful people. Rodney knew he wasn't the most handsome man around, but it never bothered him...much. He had plenty of other talents besides what any mirror gave him. And Sam Carter had liked him – right? Still, sometimes it bothered him that relationships, and little love encounters now and then, came so easily to them but were so hard for him.

The beautiful people in his life had accepted him for the most part but occasionally it felt to him as though they were being kind out of pity and not due to feelings of genuine friendship. On John's advice Rodney had tried to shed that negative image of them – and of himself, but it was not easy.

Teyla, Ronan, Sheppard, Weir...all examples of what nature could do when she really tried hard.

"It's not your fault." Rodney finally said to Teyla.

A hand touched his chin and turned his head. "What's not my fault?"

It was Sheppard, sitting close by, his perfect man's hand moving up to caress, just once, Rodney's hollow cheek. Rodney looked around (but only with his eyes, he was so grateful for the touch of another he didn't want to lose it yet by moving his head too far), but Teyla was gone. It was only John and him. It was right.

"You stopped looking at the sky, Rodney McKay." Sheppard said.

Rodney said sadly "Because it was hopeless. There was no use. And McKay isn't here."

Sheppard stroked his cheek again. "But that's your home, McKay. It's where you belong."

Rodney didn't want to talk anymore. It was so nice just hearing Sheppard's voice and feeling the touch of his hand that he didn't want to think of anything else. "If you say so."

Sheppard said "Rodney McKay, you're getting sick. You need to come home now."

Rodney nodded gently, the warmth of Sheppard's hand on his face so gentle, so kind, so human, and so comforting that he started to softly cry. "I know but I can't. I-I don't know how."

Sheppard moved his hand away from Rodney's rough beard and ran fingers through his friend's greasy, matted hair. "Don't worry, McKay. You will."

Rodney nodded, wanting to make John happy but everything hurt; his hands, his feet, his heart, everything but John's hand softly stroking his hair.

"You need to rest Rodney McKay. You have a long trip home." John advised.

"I don't – I ca-..John...I mean why...why can't you just stay here?" Rodney asked closing his eyes and trying to imagine the day he would be home. He knew he was getting sicker, and weaker. He knew he should go home. Sheppard wanted him to go home and he wanted to please his friend. John Sheppard was his best friend.

When he opened his eyes, once more Sheppard was gone and Rodney almost cried out against the unfairness of it. Only a few seconds with Sheppard in months and it was already over. Rodney sat, stunned by the injustices of Gobi Prime and the things around him, the Goliaths and the heat and the cold, the daylight and the darkness – none of it cared whether he returned home or not.

"Go to sleep, McKay."

Rodney heard Zelenka's soft accent and did not need to look up and see that it was Radek sitting there now. But he looked up anyway. "What are you talking about Radek? I sleep every night. And McKay isn't here."

"You are both here, Rodney McKay. Dig, McKay, and then sleep." Zelenka said matter-of-factly.

McKay suddenly got angry at his old friend "Why in hell should I -?" He began and then stopped. McKay looked around. "Man I hate this ugly cave. I never wanted to come back here." Then over to where Rodney was sitting. "I mean look at him. I think he's losing it, Radek."

"He's ill, McKay, and getting weaker every day, so don't be too hard on him."

McKay drew his mind back to Radek's words. "Why do you want me to dig?"

"Ask yourself where the Goliaths get their water." Zelenka answered. "Ask yourself why you have never found a dead one."

McKay thought for a few seconds. "Uh...they get their water from below the surface I guess." A light dawned and stretched back into McKay's darkened mind, setting off alarm bells and fireworks of thought. "Yes, yes, it has to be. Only..." He looked at Radek "No dead ones, no dead ones...I'm not sure why that's important, Radek."

Zelenka grinned a bit. "That's up to you to figure out. I know you're up to it. I mean if I thought of it, then..."

As they conversed, in the corner Rodney began rocking back and forth. Such a motion eased many pains.

McKay scoffed. "He always was a softy. Well, I'd better try and get some sleep. Big day tomorrow." He glanced at Rodney then asked Zelenka "Do you think he...m-might be dying?" For some reason his throat felt tight.

"Dig!" Zelenka barked "Because, Rodney McKay, it is not you who is going to die."

XXX

Ronan stood aside as the door to the last room of the last tower on their search grid opened wide. A few inches of water rushed out the opened doors, spreading and slowing down. Finally it stopped, leaving a wide puddle in the corridor to a depth of a few millimeters.

"This is the only room left. The rest are still filled with water, the bugs can't nest in them." Sheppard said, waving one hand to his team to enter with him.

They entered in pairs, aiming their weapons high and low. The walls were encrusted with barnacles and seaweed clung to the scattering of water logged furniture. A few stuffed chairs lay on their sides or up-side-down, an overturned table and there, but no bugs.

Sheppard got on his com-link. "Weir, this is Sheppard. No sign of the bugs in Residential Tower twenty-two either. That's it." He fisted his hand around the mic long enough to say to his team "That's the whole damn city and not a single Iratus."

Weir's voice was strangely clear in the mostly empty room. "That's impossible, Colonel."

Sheppard hit the com-link in his ear with a frustrated finger. "I know. But unless you have any suggestions where to look next, we need another confab."

"Have all team leaders report back to my office. Weir out."

XXX

McKay waited until just first light. The spot he chose was not too far from the foot of Mount McKay, but hundreds of feet from where he knew the sleeping holes of the Goliaths generally were. Far enough away, he hoped, from anywhere he had searched before in hopes that he could find...whatever he was supposed to be looking for. It was hard work, although using the open end of the metallic Wraith boot as a shovel made the job easier.

At twelve inches down the boot struck something hard and McKay pried one edge of it up, horrified to discover it was the shell of a Goliath beetle. McKay dropped it and turned to flee, but the beetle did not come after him. It did not leave its hole and, in fact, did not move at all.

McKay pried it further out of the sand and very carefully turned it over. The creature was dry and shrivelled. It was dead. They died underground it seemed. That's why in three years of hunting them he had never happened upon a dead one. Zelenka seemed to think this was important.

McKay dug deeper and after another five inches or so the boot struck something else, softer this time. He pulled at it as hard as he could but it did not budge. Taking out his knife he sliced into it, hacking until he had cut out a small piece to examine up close.

Holding it up first to his nose, then to bloodshot eyes, his tired mind brought forth a conclusion. It was some sort of thick fungus, something like peat moss but something else altogether too, and very dense, as thick as six inches. McKay laid it beside the dead Goliath beetle and kept digging. One Goliath after another he pulled from the sand, all dead. Beneath them, he encountered the layer of the moss-like growth, but in this spot –

He found something new beneath it, round black spheres the size of billiard balls and covered in a layer of thick goo – eggs! Had to be Goliath beetle eggs. Hundreds of thousands of them. Millions of them if the laying area was as large as the sleeping ground of the adults.

McKay was breathing hard from the work. His body was weak and not used to this level of labour, especially not with Big Red rising on a new day. He had to stop for a few minutes and crouched down on the sand beside them both, pondering his discoveries.

He never would before have taken such a risk out in the open but this, Zelenka had said, was important. A small wind appeared out of nowhere to tease his scraggly hair. It made him look up.

That is when the shadow of the thing first appeared across the swollen face of Big Red. A black shadow the size and shape of a Russian scythe was blocking out a small sliver of Gobi's sun. The sight was so wholly unexpected and so beyond the norm of what his mind had grown used to that, for a moment, his brain failed to gather the menace inherent in the vision.

But his brain turned over what he had learned in the last few minutes. The Goliaths were all dead. They had laid their eggs beneath the sand, and beneath the thick layer of moss-like material. If the black shadow kept moving across the sun, that meant Big Red was about to be winked out for who knew how long. Perhaps a day. Perhaps longer.

That depended, McKay realised, on its orbital trajectory and how many other solar bodies circled Big Red, and how close they came to each other. Another planet might be soon to pass by as well which could alter how long this one remained between Big Red and Gobi Prime. Solar systems were very complicated things; a hundred variables could cause enormous changes in rotation, orbit, angle, trajectory and a dozen other physical sub-systems.

McKay was getting a headache from the sun. As he watched the sliver grew and grew. It would be many hours before Big Red was blocked out, but already he could feel a noticeable drop in temperature.

And all the Goliaths were dead. Their eggs were laid in preparation...

In preparation for this.

Other things that had been mere facts, naked of meaning, suddenly fell into place like a chorus line. There was only one hardy species, as far as he knew, on the entire planet. Water existed below ground. Below ground. The single surviving genus of flora best grew on rocks. Water condensed on rock in the shade or in the early morning. Rock was full of minerals and had old life-food trapped in it in the form of carbon.

These things were the sole life on Gobi Prime because Gobi Prime's life-span was limited. Everything on Gobi Prime died out every...how many years McKay could only guess. But the lack of any dead Goliath beetles on the surface of the desert told him it was a very long time in between planet-wide death and planet-wide new life. These few species had learned the secret of survival. Dig your roots hundreds of feet into the rock where the killing cold cannot find them and you will be reborn once more. Coat the next generation of eggs in natural anti-freeze, and lay them beneath the protective layer of sand and moss-like insulation. Protect them in this way and the children will emerge into the sun again some far away day.

McKay understood now. He ran to the cave to get Rodney.

XXX

"What the hell?"

In the transparent isolation bin, where before had been a dead Iratus bug sinking into its own body's decomposing puddle of goo, the first one removed from his first patient, there was now a living one, crawling around inside. "Robert. When di' this happen?"

Robert, his head nurse, approached. "I just arrived myself, Doctor Beckett. I have no idea."

"Jenna?"

His second nurse, the one who had been on duty all night to watch over his patient, hurried over and gasped at the sight.

Beckett gestured to the Iratus bug. "When di' this thing suddenly reform an' come back ta' life?"

Jenna's green eyes widened. "Oh my God, I-I have no idea, Doctor, I've been with the patient all night."

Beckett swallowed. "I want ye' ta' move the patient ta' an isolation chamber right now, and 'ave one of the Colonel's men guard the door. No one but me is ta' be allowed in or ou'."

"Right away Doctor."

Suddenly "Hold up!" Becket said sharply. All three watched in horrified fashion as the two folds of the Iratus bug's upper abdominal plates lifted and spread apart and four tear-drop shaped iridescent wings unfolded. The Iratus began to fly around inside the Isolation container, tapping the walls of its prison, looking for a way out.

Beckett said to his nurses. "We' betta' hurry."

X

In her office Weir tried to shake loose an idea from the gathered group. "Okay, we know that with the exception of the one that used to be in Doctor Beckett's lab, there have never been Iratus bugs in Atlantis or on this planet – that is until this week." She underlined the last few words. "And the only thing that changed between then and now is..?"

Zelenka, his arms crossed which for him was a relaxed posture finished for her "We went to the derelict Hive ships."

Weir nodded. "Yes, so it stands to reason that's how the bugs got into Atlantis."

Sheppard begged to differ. "But we swept every corner of those ships and found not a single Iratus bug. And we didn't bring them back aboard the Jumpers, so..."

Zelenka, deep in thought and a frown between his be-spectacled eyes, asked "Colonel, on your Hive ship where did your teams start their sweeps?"

"At the outer edges working toward the central Dart bay, where we then swept the Jumpers and left." Sheppard explained. "When you mop a room, you don't start at the thresh-hold, you start in the corners." It made sense.

Zelenka thought for a moment. "All the other teams did the same." He said thoughtfully. After a few seconds his brow cleared. "We swept the Dart bays last. So how do we know the Iratus bugs were not in the Dart bays to begin with?"

"In hindsight we don't but even if they were, we swept the Dart bays and the Jumpers before returning to Atlantis." Sheppard reasoned. "And I'm telling you, there were no Iratus bugs anywhere in or on the Jumpers."

Without knocking Doctor Beckett entered Weir's office, ignoring everyone but her. He marched up to her desk. "Elizabeth, we 'ave a problem."

Elizabeth sighed. "Only one?" And then, when she saw how serious his expression was she immediately abandon levity. "What is it?"

Beckett licked his lips. "I 'aven't tested it yet to be sure, but I think these Iratus bugs 'ave been genetically altered, enhanced ta' be specific – with nanites."

"Oh my god." Weir breathed softly. "Are you sure?"

"As I said, I've not tested it yet, but this morning in the lab, tha' first Iratus bug we removed from Janice, the bug which by the way had been rapidly decomposing the night before, is back ta' life this morning."

Weir sat down. It sounded like nanites were involved, micro-machines designed to infiltrate and either repair, alter or destroy organic life, depending on how they were programmed. Nanites - Replicator technology. Weir shivered. Inside her body some of the feared machines still resided. Inert but present.

Weir looked over to Zelenka, whose face had changed from surprise at the news to a growing seed of an idea that he had not yet shared with the group.

Zelenka saw Elizabeth looking at him expectantly. His idea came to fruition. "I think I know how the Iratus got aboard Atlantis." He addressed Sheppard. "Colonel, we need to get to the Jumper Bay right now."

Sheppard, his team, and Doctor Weir stepped through the doors of the Jumper Bay. Nine Jumpers sat each in its own alcove one on top of another in the high and wide cylindrical chamber.

On the way Zelenka had reprogrammed his hand-held scanner to detect nanite activity. The moment they entered, the scanner beeped at them incessantly.

Sheppard muttered "Great, just great." He whispered to Zelenka "Radek how in the hell did we miss them?"

Zelenka shook his head. Even with seven pairs of searching eyes there was still no visible sign of the Iratus bugs anywhere in the Jumper bay. "I-I'm not sure, unless..."

Beckett whispered. "Look, the scanner says they're here an' that's good enough for me. Plus there's worse news than tha'."

Sheppard turned his head part way around to whisper fiercely "How could there be anything worse than an infestation of nanite enhanced Iratus bugs on Atlantis?" As far as he was concerned, only two things could possibly be worse and those would be either Wraith or the Replicators themselves.

Zelenka suddenly dropped the scanner from fumbling fingers. In the quiet room with the humans creeping around like mice, it landed with a teeth-shattering bang, echoing through-out the chamber.

Becket held up a finger. "Hey – do ya' hear it?"

A soft hum had begun and was growing louder. Suddenly the air burst with life as hundreds of Iratus bugs crawled out from their hiding places and swarmed like locusts. The air above turned black with them as a column of bugs rose high in the chamber, twisting like a snake. It was a tornado of Iratus.

Sheppard instinctively ducked. Then his military training took over and he waved a hand in the air, a sign of retreat as he and his team backed out the door, closing it behind them. Weir got on her comm.-link and barked into it. "Josh - close the Jumper Bay doors between the Bay and the Gate. Do it now!"

Josh answered back "It's closed Doctor Weir. What's wrong?"

Weir looked at Beckett who said simply. "This is what I've been trying to tell ye', these Iratus can fly."

XXX

Chapter V soon.