Supply and Demand 4: Scarce Skills
author: tari_roo
Rating: Gen – PG13
Disclaimer: I own nothing and profit from nothing. But if I did, SGA would still on air and Dean would have super powers.

Summary: Life on Atlantis is about to get very interesting as the Trust launch their newest plan. Good thing Dean is still onboard, as the 'interesting' gets weird… fast.

Warnings: This is AU for SPN season three onwards and set post season five. No real spoilers for either series but you should really know them both

Author note: Yes, at last – instalment four! I know it's taken far longer than I initially said and I wish I had a better excuse besides RL and other plot bunnies hijacking me but I don't. Part 5 of Supply and Demand will be posted in parallel to this story and Part 5 will revolve around Sam and his search for Dean. I have posted a summary/cheat sheet on the previous stories as the final chapter on each story for those who have a) forgotten what happened or b) skipped a story because they didn't know the series. Enjoy.

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"Run! Come on, Major!" Sgt Jones shot an anxious look behind him as he ran full out, scanning for Major Durov. The guy was struggling, but keeping pace, the Lt. doggedly guarding their rear and hurrying the Major along. The frigging Gate was still two klicks away up a damn hill, but at least safety was in sight. Winchester, fast bastard that he was, was pulling ahead and Jones dug in, not wanting to let the newbie outrun him.

The snap and crack of the wildfire behind them was scarily audible, the air thick with smoke, the soft greeny blue sky overhead lost in a haze. Even further behind them, miles and miles away but still visible, a massive storm built momentum over the plains, the fire racing ahead of it. Jones grimaced as he felt the wind pick up, brushing against his hot face. The fire was fast, and they were faster but all it would take was a surge of wind fed oxygen and they'd be cooked – literally. Lt Kim was shouting something that sounded an awful lot like, "Shit, shit, run!" and Jones did just that – he frigging ran!

Over the pounding of his pulse in his ears, the syncopated bootsteps of his running team, their ragged breathing, Jones heard the surge of the fire, the dull roar of dry, tinderbox grass and trees consumed in seconds. Pushing hard, Jones hit the rise of the hill up to the Gate and powered up the incline, heart and legs burning. Winchester was nearing the top already, almost invisible in the smoke. The air was thicker, filled with fumes and smoke and he could barely see the top or the Gate. Abruptly the wormhole of the Gate engaged, pushing back the smoke like a wave of water. Hope blossomed in his chest, spiking his adrenalin and Jones risked a glance back and saw Durov close on his heels, Kim pushing him up the hill, a hand pressed on his back. "Go, go!"Kim yelled because shit, the fire was close.

Sweating like crazy, his hands, vest and face drenched, Jones crested the hill and paused for half a second to take it all in. The entire plain of grassland to the east was on fire, the flames racing outwards towards the hills and mountains to the west. The winds from the storm were growing, the handful of trees on the hill fluttering like flags. The clouds far in the distance were black and monstrous, and lightning danced along the base of the storm, flickering arcs and jabs of light. Dull, barely audible thunder rolled across the plain, lost in the roar of the fire. Winchester was hovering near the event horizon of the Gate, his face bathed in cool blue light, versus Kim and Durov who were highlighted in reds and oranges as they struggled up the hill. Durov reached the top not long after Jones and didn't stop, sprinting for the Gate. Kim grabbed Jones and dragged him, and Jones let him, running as well, the heat and flames of the fire racing towards them.

It took maybe three seconds to reach the Gate and run through but during the whirlwind rush of Gate travel, Jones swore he could still feel the heat of the flames that surged up behind them. Stepping out into the Gate room brought instant relief, from the heat of the last world and the ice of the wormhole. Blinking and shaking his head, Jones twisted to check the back of his tac vest, certain there'd be scorch marks. Kim was leaning forward, bent over his knees, breathing hard, while Durov was flat on his back, chest heaving. Winchester was still on his feet, looking too damn fresh for his own good but also breathing hard.

From the gallery Chuck yelled, "You ok? Need a medic?"

Jones waved him off, giving the 'all clear' sign and Chuck nodded.

"Shit, Major. I don't care what you say, you're joining morning madness," Lt. Kim gasped. "There is no way I am pushing your ass up a hill again." He looked sideways at Durov, his face red and flushed.

"Da, I need to run. But first… vodka." Major Durov rolled over and clambered to his feet, P90 knocking against his chest as he did so. He straightened with a groan and slapped Winchester on the arm, knocking him slightly. "You do good, Deano."

"I'm just surprised he remembered the address," Jones laughed and Dean rolled his eyes. "One time, Sgt., one time I get one symbol wrong and you're like a dog with bone – just can't let it go."

Kim laughed as well and Jones snorted, "Two words, Winchester – Space Gate."

"And I have three words for you, 'Automatic Warning System!' – what kind of morons build a system of interstellar travel without some sort of warning system when people are about to walk into a shiny whirlpool of death, that dumps them into space!" Dean pointed at Jones, sweat still beading his face.

"All the frigging glyphs light up, Winchester. And if you don't figure that out quick, it's one way of weeding out the stupid and moronic from the galaxy," Jones smirked, wiping his own brow with his sleeve, feeling a keen thirst growing.

Laughing heartily, his beard looking a little singed, Durov boomed, "Enough. This is argument I have heard too often." He looked up at Chuck and bellowed, "Charles, mission report will be filed soon but we found nothing. All clear."

"You sure?" Chuck asked, walking down the stairs towards them, tapping away on his tablet.

"Da," the Major nodded. "Planet still empty, lots of ruins, no signs of 'visitors' of an untrustworthy nature."

"So what the hell happened to you guys?"

Kim and Jones looked at Dean, who shrugged and Durov boomed, "It was lightning. A big storm, lots of lightning and whamo… trees on fire." Chuck raised his eyebrows and nodded in sympathy. "Kay, well Biro is running Decon and AM, so you should be in time for dinner."

"Yes," Jones beamed and fistpumped the air. Nudging Winchester, he said, "Come on." Dean shot the Lt. and the Major a brief glance before nodding and trotting off with Sgt. Jones. As the pair drew out of earshot, Chuck sighed and asked quietly, "Everything go ok?"

Lt. Kim piped up ahead of Durov and replied firmly, "Fine. No issues at all."

Durov shrugged though and rumbled, "Fine, da. No issues, da. He remains very guarded. Uncertain around us."

"Come on, Major it's only been a few weeks, nearly a month and we're actively looking for the SOBs who kidnapped him. Of course he's going to be guarded," Kim exclaimed, waving his hand in Winchester's direction.

Rubbing his face, burying his fingers in his beard, Durov studied Kim and Chuck before continuing, "I agree. Is understandable."

"But?" Chuck added, tapping his tablet nervously and looking around, scanning the immediate area. The Gate began to light up with an incoming wormhole, and the Tech on watch called out, "Gate activation." The response team on duty gathered and Durov and Kim turned as the shield activated.

"IDC confirmed!"

Team Vasquez stepped through the wormhole, Dr Parish exclaiming loudly, mid-sentence in what was probably a lecture that had started an hour ago on the walk back to the Gate. Captain Vasquez gave the response team the 'all-clear' and the Gate personnel relaxed moderately. Without turning back to Chuck, Durov said quietly, "Charles, the Colonel asked me to watch Winchester. I am watching him."

With that, the tall hefty Russian ambled off, waving idly at Parish who continued to ramble on even as he waved back. Kim rolled his eyes, slapped Chuck's arm and said brightly, "The guy's paranoid. Dean's fine."

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The wind was howling outside, the early dawn sky dark and heavy with clouds and rain and a definite chill ran through the halls of Atlantis. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the crash of waves against the nearest pier was loud enough to reach the living quarters in Building N2

Teldy grumbled softly, her murmur muffled by layers of furs and blankets on the bed, as Dean moved, letting in a gust of cold air. He fumbled for his radio in the dim gloom, snagged it and popped it in his ear, adjusting the frequency as he did so.

"Come on, Winchester," Teldy whined, from the bed as he opened the blankets again. "You're like a friggin' robot. Same time, no matter what rotation we're on."

"It's a gift, " Dean murmured, pulling her close, the delicious warmth of their bed and her soft skin, very inviting. Teldy grumbled indistinctly and dozed off, or at least pretended to – wishing the cold morning away. Dean tucked her head against his shoulder and watched the cloud tossed sky through the window, an array of blue and black shades in a cauldron of a storm. Flashes of yellow and orange appeared as the sun tried to poke its way through, the wind scattering the clouds as fast as it gathered them.

Three clicks on the radio sounded softly in his ear, and preceded Chuck's far too cheerful voice, "Good Morning, Atlantis!" It seemed Kovach had had a chat to Chuck about the Robin William's impression – the volume of the 'good morning' was not ear splitting today. "Here is the surf report for today. Just in case you missed it, were asleep or stuck in stasis, yesterday was sync day and Atlantis calendars lost two days. So check your earth report deadlines and mailing due dates. They're probably closer (or missed, Kovach) than you think. Earth-light savings will take place next month. Next month, Mikilai. Next month!"

Chuck broke off, no doubt to argue with Mikilai as always when it came to Earth-light savings time. Dean smiled, and resisted the urge to tickle Teldy – she didn't react well to that, usually. "For those of you on off days, the mainland is currently impersonating a swamp in a hurricane. SMALP reports that Raguu, Little Venice and Mitchell's Folly have 100 degree plus weather with low humidity. Hoth is mild enough for a snow day, but be sure to take snow goggles. New Athos is having a fantastic display of Fall colours and the purple cedars are pretty impressive. For the retail inclined, the market on Sonar is underway, and dawn on Sonar is at 14h00 Atlantis time. The Bugs are playing the festival on Old Hayn. Sync with Old Hayn is 20h00 to 08h00 Atlantis time roughly. Shut up, Mikilai!"

Chuck's voice faded to a mumble, no doubt arguing the specifics with Mikilai as usual. "For the rest of us on City Rotation and Duty Rosters, there is a McKay warning on Central Tower levels three and four, W3 and Jumper Bay Aft. Messhall news – Tucker is down with Gora flu so Harker is on KP in Messhall Two."

Dean murmured softly to Teldy, "Messhall Three today."

She grunted in reply.

"Last," Chuck chirped, "the Daedulus is two days out and all debts are therefore due in three days. The Czech wishes to remind all IOUs for ATVodka of his payment terms – 'Pay now, no McKay. Pay later, straight shifts in Physics'. And that's all surfers. Frequency shift alpha left two."

Dean noted the frequency for tomorrow and planted a soft kiss on Teldy's cheek. She opened her eyes, slits of colour behind dark eyelashes, fluttering in the darkness. "Hmmmmm? We're both off, stay a while," she murmured, pulling her pillow a little closer.

Bobbing his eyebrows and smiling, Dean leant forward and kissed her soundly, breaking off reluctantly. Teldy sighed, and ran her fingers through his hair, her thumb tracing his eyebrow.

"Messhall Three?"

"Messhall Three."

The air in their room was decidedly chilly, the temperature dropping as dawn broke and Dean hurriedly pulled on his sweats and running shoes. Quietly, he tipped Teldy a small salute, as she sleepily watched him from the bed. Snatching up their laundry, Dean exited the room, the door opening silently. The nearest laundry chute was the way to Blue route and Dean dumped his armload in as he trotted past. Yellow and Red were the popular running tracks, with Blue fairly well liked but usually saved for a good long hard run. In the weeks since his arrival, Dean often ran it on his own, only meeting up with fellow morning madness run when Yellow and Red intersected down the main concourse and near the piers. Ronon and Sheppard preferred Black run, which wasn't surprising since it was named after the Colonel. Blue was Ronon's default when he was tired, bored or showing newbies around the City.

Sam would never believe that he was up at o-dark every morning, running.

Only Ronon and Sheppard were crazy enough to tackle Black every other day.

Dean picked up Blue near a great vista, a large open balcony behind fancy Ancient windows through which you could normally see the sunrise. Not today though. Today the sun was fighting off serious storm clouds and the sky remained dark and turbulent. No rain yet, but it was imminent.

Setting a steady, easy pace, Dean set off and tuned his radio to track three on the running frequencies. Zeppelin pumped through as his comm. found the frequency and Dean smiled to himef. 'Trust in Chuck'. Hard to believe that barely a few months ago, he'd struggled to keep up with Gibbs.

Twenty minutes and five klicks in at the concourse intersection, Kalen and Douw's platoons fell in behind him, noisy and boisterous. Jones and Kim nodded amiably at Dean as slowly the running platoons enveloped him, so that he was running the middle of the group.

"Hall Three?" Jones chirped, face red and glistening with sweat.



"Where's Durov?" Dean panted, and Lt. Kim rolled his eyes.

"Didn't answer his door. Probably hiding in Messhall One," Jones laughed. Dean grinned back and said, "He's probably calling in a few markers. He owes Zelenka at least four bottles."

"Ah, that'd be it," Kim chuckled.

The Marines broke off for Black a klick later, most of the guys groaning as Kalen took the spilt for the stairs. Dean smirked at Kim's crestfallen face as the Lt. followed the Marines up Black. He continued down Blue, picking up the pace, feeling the absence of the Marines shared camaraderie and buoyant emotions. Blue went down all the way to the West Pier and linked up with a Black option – a long hard run up the stairs of Central Tower.

The weather on the pier was like stepping into a hurricane – the rain had arrived swiftly, the wind fierce and strong, the waves crashing up and over the pier. Dean sprinted the short distance from the bottom of N2 to the Tower, and entered the warmer, quieter Central Tower stair well. Pausing to drink from the water fountain at the base of stairs and to shake some of the water off, Dean braced himself for the stairs.

Heavy bootsteps and a lighter tread echoed behind him and Dean felt the indomitable presence of Colonel Sheppard and Ronon approaching. He paused and sure enough, they entered from outside as cold and drenched.

"Winchester," Sheppard greeted and Ronon nodded. Neither of them stopped, but took the stairs, Ronon edging out ahead immediately as his long legs took two stairs at a time. Grumbling to himself, Sheppard pushed to keep up, and they charged up the stairs. Dean shook his head and followed, their combined footsteps thudding on the stairs. Talking was impossible as the pace Ronon had set was pretty intense.

Dean did his best to keep up, but Ronon was already a good flight ahead of him, and Sheppard was chasing hard on Ronon's heels. Heart pounding, sweat dripping off him, Dean pushed on, willing his body to keep up, breathing deep and hard but evenly. It was tough, but not impossible. He'd done it a couple of times already.

Far behind him several flight down, the two platoons of Marines burst into the stairwell, their voices loud and clear in the quiet of the long stairs. They might have come to the Black stairs via a longer, harder route, but they were hardly out of it. One loud, very distinct voice yelled, "Shit, the Colonel!" There was a collective mutter of agreement below and Dean felt the surge of determination run through them all. The answering thud of boots on the steps was fast and rushed.

"You better run, Colonel," Dean muttered to himself.

It took a few minutes, but the Marines eventually caught Dean, swallowing him into their cohesive running unit again. "We meet again, Winchester," Jones smirked as they edged past him but Dean dug a little deeper and maintained pace with the platoon, even though they were going faster than he liked. The Colonel and Ronon though were still far ahead, judging by the occasional glimpse of black BDUs and long dredds.

One fast paced flight turned into three and Dean managed to stay with the Marines until they reached the floor where Blue route picked up again. For about half a second, he contemplated staying with the race wanting to see if the platoon caught the Colonel. If he did though, he'd end up too exhausted to do more on his off day than sleep off a hard run, so he broke off to stay on Blue. Kalen, in front of his platoon, was trying to see how far ahead Sheppard was and Dean heard him shout, "Four flights, boys. Come on!"

In the quiet of this level of the tower, Dean finished off his run, barely paying attention to the dramatic sky unfolding outside. His quarters were two corridors and one level away from this terminus of Blue route and he gratefully trotted to a stop at the end of his circuit, breathing hard, drenched with sweat. He walked around, stretching out his muscles, feeling the burn in a few places.

The corridor was quiet, most of the people living on this floor either still asleep or already up and about. Dean took a moment to watch the storm crash against the City, idly tracing the flow of lightning with his mind. The surge of electricity was raw and alive, and he pushed back the fear that rose in his throat at the memories electricity evoked. Instead, he siphoned off energy and distracted himself by forming handfuls of sparks and bursts of light. It was too pleasant a day to ruin with thoughts of tasers, rawheads or kinetics.

The sun appeared very briefly, a bright ball of grey tossed yellow, light spilling through the windows, when Dean felt the temperature drop. He paused, a ball of sparks and static energy in his right hand, feeling a distinct presence coalesce behind him. The temperature continued to fall, his breath misting in the morning light, thick spears of sunlight filling the corridor. Slowly Dean turned cautiously, primed for action. Clouds surged and the area was plunged into gloom, the light choked off, and as Dean turned, the spectre a few feet away flickered into view.

It was hard to make out as it flashed and jittered, a pale, anguished face its most prominent feature. It alternated between a harsh scream, eyes wide and wild, and an arrogant, pained sneer. It didn't look exactly human, too pale, too severe, but Dean couldn't be entirely certain. Carefully, he flicked a few sparks at the ghost, and it hissed in response, backing off, putting more distance between them.

"You sure are fugly," Dean muttered, watching it carefully. The spectre hovered and flickered in place, watching him back. Curiosity kept Dean from instantly banishing the thing, curious as to why it was just watching him. Ghosts weren't normally the cautious type – in fact their very natures predisposed violent, aggressive tendencies.

Footsteps echoed in the hall, a murmur of voices and the moment was broken, the ghost fading from view quickly. Dean watched it disappear, pale face the last to go, its haughty sneer fixed and proud. "Dean?"

Pushing aside the thoughts and feelings that briefly beset him, and smiling, Dean turned to greet Teyla, his smile wide and bright. Torren was fidgeting and fussy in her arms, trying to get down and Teyla looked a little harassed and stressed, her face not as calm or steady as it usually was.

"Rough morning?" Dean asked, reaching for Torren.

Instantly as he heard Dean's voice and stopped wriggling long enough to see him, Torren twisted and writhed towards him, arms outstretched in silent plea. Dean neatly scooped him up from his unprotesting and grateful mother, and tossed him over his shoulder, holding his feet so that the little guy dangled over his back, giggling like mad, hands tapping the small of his back as he hung upside-down.

Sharing his smile now, Teyla nodded and sighed, "The storm woke him very early and he did not wish to remain in his bed. Or mine. We have been very busy this morning."

Hauling Torren back up and settling him snuggly on his hip so that the kid's legs wrapped around his waist, Dean gently poked the toddler in his rotund little stomach and chided, "Monkeys are supposed to listen to their moms."

"What monkey?" Torren chirruped, giggling at the poke and batting Dean's hand away.

"This is a monkey," Dean laughed and pretended to drop Torren, making him squeal and laugh even more, all the way up and down. Smiling affectionately at them both, Teyla straightened her hair and asked, "Did you wish to train today?"

A wave of fear tinged anxiety washed over Dean, which he quickly buried in the ambient emotions of his empathy field before Torren picked up on it. Without missing a beat, Dean shook his head and said, "Nah. I'm off today and I'd prefer a headache free day, thanks."

"You have been making good progress. Your control is greatly improved," Teyla said quietly, perhaps noticing his initial reluctance, or simply aware of how much he disliked their sessions.

Shrugging, Dean jiggled Torren, pulled a face at him and muttered, "Yeah. Better but not perfect – yet."

Teyla reached out and touched his hand steadying Torren and said kindly, "It has been less than a month, Dean. You are pushing your limits each time and recovering faster and faster. Do not…."

Not wanting to discuss it, their session yesterday all too fresh in his mind, Dean interrupted her with a bright, false smile and said, "I get it, Teyla. I do. We better hurry if we want to get any breakfast. Messhall 3 is going to be packed."

Unmoved, Teyla kept her hand on his and looked up at his face, her eyes scanning his, kind and concerned about him. "You will gain the control you seek, Dean. You just need to give yourself time."

Burying the turmoil of emotion that rose at her concern and care, Dean nodded stiffly and tried to smile. Teyla maintained their gaze for a few seconds before breaking off, and quietly reaching for her son. "I'll save you a seat."

Gratefully, Dean handed Torren back who cried out in protest and replied, "Thanks. I'll grab a quick shower and be down in ten. Thanks."

Smiling, Teyla walked off, Torren grumbling all the way and Dean watched them go for a while, trying to sort through and contain his emotions. His room on Atlantis was tiny, with just enough space for a bed, small cupboard and dresser. It had an awesome view though, which at the moment was of stormed tossed seas and a tumultuous sky. Dean stood at the window, staring out at the storm, idly tracing the small burn marks on his arm.

No matter Teyla's reluctance or insistence on patience, he was determined to regain control of his empathic field. It didn't matter that over the past few weeks he had rebuilt his walls and was no longer leaking ambient emotions, or his own. All it took to shatter that control was a single burst of electricity. Dean summoned a small spark of energy which danced on the tip of his finger. The air was thick with charged particles from the storm, and creating the spark was easier than thought. If he could summon it and direct it, why not control it and prevent it from breaking his empathic shield. That was the theory at least. So far he had failed to stop a small charge of electrical power from scattering his walls, but he had to agree that he was rebuilding them faster.

None of that mattered though if T&E or a Kinetic found him before he had mastered it completely. Under a steady barrage of electricity, he was still helpless and at the mercy of the Kinetics.

Shoving those fears and thoughts aside, Dean jumped into the shower, stripping away his sweaty clothes.

The corridor leading to Hall 3 was packed as people crowded in, vying for a place in the line for food. Dean gently pushed past a trio of arguing scientists, who were loudly debating the merits of loop quantum theory and whether fruit loops could be considered a classic breakfast cereal. There was hardly a seat available in the hall, the loud buzz of voices almost overwhelming. The atmospheric emotions were all heightened and excited, people bouncing off the energy of each other and the prospect of good food. Dean locked down on his emotions and empathic field, fending off the surge of happy emotions around him.

He spotted Teyla straight away, Torren on her lap, busy destroying a piece of toast with a knife. Her table though was full, Ronon, Sheppard, McKay, Dr Keller and Dr Carson all crowded around it. Jones was waving at him from a table overwhelmed by Platoon 3 and the Marines were jostling to make space for him. Jones even had a platter ladened down with food in front of him. Waving at Teyla, who nodded back apologetically, Dean dodged and ducked his way through the crowd before slipping into a chair next to Jones.

The sergeant still looked a bit red in the face from the morning run, and he boomed cheerfully, "We nearly caught the Colonel!"

Snagging the platter and shoving a pile of blue eggs onto the cooling toast, Dean asked, "And Ronon?"

"Nah, no chance."

Dean bit into his eggy toast, his stomach growling in anticipation. Teldy walked past their table, chatting to Dr Porter and nodded at him with a small smile. Dean bobbed his eyebrows at her in reply. "So where are you going today? Offworld?" Jones shouted in his ear, waving at the Lieutenant who was standing in the crowd, looking lost. The Marines groaned and protested as Jones fought for more space, but grudgingly made more space for the Lt..

Eating steadily, piling bacon on his third piece of toast, Dean shrugged, "Thought about catching the concert on Old Hayn. Giles was raving about the Bugs last week."

Two Marines over, Private Giles turned at hearing his name, and raised a cup of coffee at Dean, who nodded. As Lt. Kim settled in next to him, his own tray bearing a healthy bowl of cereal and yoghurt, a random Marine plopped a full cup of coffee next to Dean. "Did you guys blackmail Maguire again?" asked Kim, as he stirred a cup of tea.

Jones clapped his hand over his heart and protested loudly, "Never. Platoon 3 never resorts to blackmail. He owed us from the last time we did a supply run for Wallstreet, and today we called in that marker." Dean nodded in appreciation as another platter of bacon and toast moved down the table, much to the delight of the Marines, who attacked it with gusto.

Snagging his own share of the platter, Dean wolfed down the food, happily filling the hole inside. Kim ate in silence, smiling periodically at Jones who was holding several conversations all at once. Platoon 3 were on Atlantis rotation, so Jones was trying to swap his perimeter patrol with Gate duty, without much luck. Across from Jones, a stiff faced Corporal was nodding politely as Jones explained why he needed to be in the Gate Room, which mostly involved his continued attempt to woo Technician Matthews.

"Your romantic plans hardly warrant overriding the schedule, Sergeant."

Scowling at Corporal Novak, Jones hissed, "I could make it an order, Jimmy."

Jimmy Novak raised an eyebrow and said in a deadpan voice, "Considering Captain Kalen set the roster, I doubt you would override it without a more serious reason than attempts to woo Ms Matthews."

"Come on, Jimmy. Have a heart! Have you seen her ass?"

Unimpressed, and looking a little confused, Novak replied, "I don't understand how her physical attributes lend your plea any more merit."

Jones threw up his hands in despair, nearly knocking over Dean's coffee. "It's pretty much the whole frigging point, McGeekoid. Damn are you sure you're a Marine, Novak?"

Dean caught the Corporal's eyes and smiled as the stiff, overly formal guy replied, "Yes. It says so on my file."

Kim and a few of the Marines laughed and Jones gave up, turning to his next victim, Private Martins. Novak returned to his breakfast, a quiet match to Kim amidst the noise of the table. The guy was definitely an odd duck.

Briefly Dean let his barriers down a little and let the camaraderie and friendship of the platoon and odd gate teammate buoy his spirits up. Surrounded by good people who were happy and content with their lives, with more than enough food in front of him, Dean tried to relax and enjoy the moment.

Overhead the storm crashed and raged, lightning flickering across the windows.

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In a quiet, darkened room in building S3, a computer terminal provided the sole illumination in the room. The screen flickered as a message appeared.

Status report Four 2

The room's occupant slowly typed a response.

Device placed in largest public area. Confirm ready status.

A long minute passed and then a reply appeared on the screen.

Confirmed. Test will occur at 19h00 Atlantis time today. Mother device ready.

Agent Four 2, the last Trust operative on Atlantis smiled and shut off the terminal.

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TBC in Part 2