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21 November 2006 @ 11:25 am
SGA Fic: Mindscape Chapters 4-6 (FRT-13)  



Memory


Memoria Est Thesaurus Omnium Rerum E Custos


oOo


John woke in a white haze of dull pain and numbed senses. He blinked slowly,
trying to get a clear image as his surroundings took shape in front of his eyes.
It took him a few seconds to figure out that it was the ceiling he was staring
at. It was a spiral pattern, New Age Stucco like. The ridges of each circle cast
large, dark shadows in the dim, warm light, making the ceiling seem painted.
John stared, slightly freaked, blinked again, and then looked around.


The bed, with its metal frame and white sheets, was infirmary issue. They
looked the same on every base, no matter where. He had an IV needle stuck in his
left hand, confirming that he had probably been in an accident.


His right arm was in a cast from his elbow down and two of his fingers of his
left hand were splinted. A quick, bold move confirmed it - yes, that he had hit
something hard. John was puzzled. Apart from his hands and his head, he found
nothing amiss with the rest of his body. Yet he could not recall what had
happened. The last he remembered with any degree of certainty was getting off
the bus in San Francisco. Mitch had been throwing his belated 30th birthday
party and he had invited over a hundred people. Maybe a car had hit him on the
way to the party. He had had a beer on the bus, John thought, seeking an
explanation somewhere.


John decided to find an answer to his questions and pressed the call
button.


He didn't have to wait long for a doctor to appear, but it wasn't Doc Keppler
from his base at San Diego, nor any of the infirmary staff. John had never seen
the dark-haired man before. The lab coat had identified him as a doctor, but
when the stranger approached, John noticed that he was wearing a beige uniform
that he didn't recognize.


Alarm bells went off inside his head.


"Colonel Sheppard, I’m glad you are finally awake. How do you feel?" The
doctor spoke with a Scottish accent and for a moment, John thought he sounded
familiar, but he was sure he didn't know the man.


Feeling confusion and the first traces of fear, John ignored his spinning and
aching head and pushed himself to sit up straight in bed to face the stranger
head-on. "Who are you?"


John had the uncomfortable feeling that regardless of the situation, without
being able to recall what had happened, he was with his back against the wall.
He eyed the doctor sharply, waiting for a reply.


"This is worse than I expected." The doctor shook his head. "I'm Dr. Carson
Beckett. I'm the chief medical officer, and I'm a friend of yours."


Friend? John was immediately suspicious on hearing such a broad claim from a
stranger.


"Are you with the Air Force?" John asked sharply, not sure whether he should
believe that this was actually happening. The headache that was starting to
intensify to a steady throbbing confirmed that this was unfortunately not a
dream.


"No, I'm not. I just..."


Hah! Caught in a lie? There was something wrong with all of this.


"Did Mitch and Dex put you up to this? Is this some prank? Because if it is,
it's not funny. Though your accent is," John demanded. He tried to uphold a clam
facade, but internally he was close to screaming with panic. He took a deep
breath to steady himself and decided to get to the bottom of the matter.


"Please, Colonel Sheppard, calm down," the doctor insisted. He seemed
genuinely worried.


"It's Major Sheppard. This still isn't funny." His head ached viciously and
he was starting to feel dizzy. He recognized the feeling from a time a few years
ago when he had hit his head hard in a chopper crash. That time he had been in a
coma for three days. But while he had lost a few days of memory, including the
memory of the crash, his recall of the past had largely stayed intact. It had
taken him months to shake the headaches and dizzy spells. Now that he felt like
a spike was being driven through his brain, John knew he wouldn't last much
longer.


"Colonel...Major Sheppard. You had an accident. Right now, you are in the
infirmary. I believe your memory has been affected," the doctor with the accent
spoke slowly, as if talking to a child. John didn't need patronizing; he needed
an explanation because he was starting to panic. This seemed too real. It just
wasn't possible. Why was the doctor calling him Colonel Sheppard? He'd just made
major last month. At least he thought that had been early June. He wasn't sure
about anything.


"What happened?" John had to force himself to focus on the words, but the
words came out slightly slurred. He blinked, trying to keep his eyes open.


The doctor was at his side immediately, a penlight in his hand. John knew
what was coming, so he didn't resist when the doctor checked the reaction of his
pupils with the penlight. It was the first thing that made sense since he had
woken up. This doctor acted like a doctor and he seemed genuinely concerned
about John's welfare. If his head hadn't ached that much, John wouldn’t have
been sure this was really happening. Right now, all he wanted was for his head
to stop aching.


John must have drifted out for a moment, because suddenly the doctor's
insistent voice brought him back to consciousness. "Colonel, I can give you
something for the headache now, but I want to run some more tests later. Are you
also feeling dizzy, nauseous or disoriented?"


John gave a small nod, trying to lie as still as possible. The prospect of
painkillers sounded good right now. He could hear the doctor fumbling with his
IV. A few seconds later, a fuzzy warm feeling started spreading through him,
dragging him back down asleep.


oOo


The first sense to return was John’s hearing as a soft zapping noise
penetrated his drugged daze. At first he couldn't place it, but when he opened
his eyes and saw the ceiling with its carefully composed spiral patters, he
started to remember.


John thought about calling for the doctor again, but he wanted to see what
was going on first. The headache that had brought him down the first time he had
been awake was dulled to a mild throb, thanks to painkillers, no doubt. Aside
from his hands, John hadn't found any other injuries, so he decided to have a
look around.


John winced as he pulled out the IV needle, but the wound hardly bled. He
pulled his legs over the side of the bed. His head was swimming a bit, but after
a few seconds, the dizziness receded. John put his bare feet to the ground and
carefully put weight to his legs. Holding one hand to the head of the bed, he
was able to remain reasonable steady on his feet.


John wasn't too eager to start exploring in the burgundy scrubs he was
wearing, but there were no clothes in sight and it was better than a backless
gown any day.


Standing up, John could see the small room was bare, except for his bed and
the IV stand. Steadying himself along the wall, he walked towards the door. To
his surprise, the door slid open as he came within three feet of it.


Surprised, he stumbled out into the brightly lit corridor. Suddenly, the
lights adjusted automatically and dimmed to twilight level. John questioningly
gazed up at the ceiling, but there was nothing wrong with the lights. If
anything, the corridor looked as strange as the room he had been in. The
ceilings were too high for a military base. Patterns of concentric circles
covered the ceiling. John had never seen anything like this before, certainly
not on an Air Force base. With one hand against the wall, John worked his way
along the corridor. He passed doors like the one in the small room, but didn't
encounter anyone until he stood in front of a large double door.


John recognized the large room was obviously part of a small infirmary ward,
beds lining both walls. A man and a woman, both civilians, occupied two of the
beds, and the Scottish doctor was talking to a nurse.


"Colonel Sheppard!" The doctor had noticed John coming in. "You shouldn't be
out of bed."


"I wanted to have a look around," John explained. It sounded silly.


The doctor was by his side in an instant. "You should sit down, Colonel." The
doctor led him to sit down on the nearest bed. John was gladder to sit down that
he was willing to admit, but he needed to know what was going on.


"Are you feeling comfortable enough?" the doctor asked.


"I feel like I hit my head real hard. But please, someone finally tell me
what is going on?"


"I need to run some more tests, I'm afraid, before I can give you an answer."
The doctor paused, "You were in an accident on your last mission. It seems that
your memory was affected."


That John could understand. Head injury. It made sense.


"Can you tell me your name?"


"Major John Sheppard."


"Today's date?" John had been through that routine before.


"No idea. I have the feeling that I have been out a while." John felt
uncomfortable with the thought, but he needed an explanation.


"Who's the president?


"Hayes." John had no trouble recalling those facts.


"Your general memory is all right. What is the last you remember?"


"I remember getting off the bus in San Francisco. I was on the way to a
party. It was the last weekend of my two weeks of leave. I don't recall ever
getting to the party." John shook his head, assuming that he had been hurt after
his return to San Diego.


"Do you recall the date of the party?" John wasn't sure why the doctor was
asking him. Was he still testing his recall?


"August, the week of the 20th, 2001, of course." For a moment, the doctor
looked shocked. Then he caught himself and reverted to a concerned and friendly
expression. John had a bad feeling about what he was about to hear.


The doctor pulled up, confirming John's ominous feeling.


"I'm Doctor Carson Beckett. I have known you for the past sixteen months as
the CMO of ... this base."


"Sixteen months?" He had lost sixteen months of his life?


"This is difficult for me to tell you, but it is now February 2006." Dr.
Beckett looked down.


The news struck down like a blow to the gut. A wave of cold ran over him.
"2006. I have lost almost five years. What has happened to me?" John
whispered.


"It's complicated. I'm still studying data from scans from you and the others
who were on the mission with you, but I haven't figured out what caused your
obvious amnesia. I'm sorry." Dr. Beckett sounded torn, but John didn't care.


"That can't be! What are you not telling me?" John hadn't meant to scream
this loud, but the shock had transformed into anger at the doctor. Suddenly the
two patients from across the room were staring at him. He didn't care.


"Colonel Sheppard, please calm down," Dr. Beckett insisted. "You are
displaying some neurological abnormalities that ..."


"Don't call me that! It's Major Sheppard! What have you done to me?" This
couldn't happen. The thought kept repeating inside his head. Only the sharp pain
that shot through his head like a spike and drove tears to his eyes stopped him
abruptly. Everything tuned out, everything except the agonising pain in his
head. He felt the hands touching him and heard the voice telling him to
relax.


There was a prick and almost immediately the pain dimmed to acceptable
levels. John opened his eyes.


Dr. Beckett looked worried and sad as he pulled a blanket over John. "Relax a
bit, John."


oOo


It was becoming a familiar pattern - waking up to the cotton wool feeling of
sedatives and painkillers. John couldn't tell how much time had passed and
wasn't sure whether it was important, but it would have given him some form of
hold in a world where he had no control at all.


A blonde woman was sitting in a chair at his bedside. She smiled when she
noticed that he was awake.


"Hello John." She put down her book. "I'm Dr. Kate Heightmeyer. I'm a
psychologist. Dr. Beckett thought you might want to talk."


John studied her. She was a civilian and for a moment that thought that he
might be a mental patient occurred to him


"I think I want to leave," John ventured. He wanted to know whether he was
free to go. He wasn't so sure where he expected to go.


"At the moment, it's safer for you to stay here. But I can show you to your
quarters if you want to go there for a while. Are you sure you feel well
enough?"


John nodded. "Some clothes would be good."


"I'll get you something to wear."


oOo


Fifteen minutes later, John was out of the infirmary, wearing jeans and a
black tee shirt. He was following Dr. Heightmeyer down a corridor similar to the
one he had seen earlier. She stopped in front of a door and pressed a panel on
the side.


"These are your quarters. I'll give you some time alone."


John stepped into the room. His quarters were roomy, compared with the usual
on-base accommodations. The furniture looked a bit odd, decidedly modern. There
was a bed, a desk, a chair. The room was orderly, but looked lived-in. There was
a laptop on his desk. Curious, John switched it on. While waiting for it to
power up, he looked around. Obviously he still liked Johnny Cash five years into
the future. It wasn't five years from now--now was 2006, John reminded
himself.


Surfboard. There was a beach in the area. A Guitar. Had he picked up playing
again? He hadn't played since high school.


The telltale chime announced that Windows had booted up. Nothing had changed
about that. John sat down in front of his computer. Clearly he had time to play
games; he had the icons of Minesweeper, Battleship and Space Invaders on the
desktop. Right now that didn't interest him, as he was searching for clues about
what he had been doing for the last five years. He opened his e-mail program. To
his surprise, there were hardly any messages.


On January 30, he had received a message from Sergeant Simmons about proposed
changes in the training schedule. The sergeant asked him to approve.


On February 2, he had received a message from Private Lili Deroche about a
movie night showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show. John raised an
eyebrow; they had to be stuck in an out-of-the-way place, if that was the only
movie available movie for Friday evening movie night.


The sent messages weren't much more revealing as it turned out. John had sent
only a few in January and none in February. He scrolled back to December. Not a
single Christmas e-mail. John hadn't been on the best of terms with his father
the last he recalled and he couldn't imagine that changing any time soon,
although his promotion to colonel had probably pleased his father. John assumed
he had sent a letter for Christmas if he hadn't gotten leave. Still, didn't he
have any friends to send greetings to? John had always stayed in touch with
friends, even if it was just a loose contact.


John's gaze fell on two photographs standing on his desk. The first showed
him with Mitch and Dex. They were in BDUs, standing in front of a nondescript
off-white building. It must have been hot when the picture had been taken; their
faces were tanned and still their faces were reddened.


John took the picture out of the frame and turned it around. 'Kabul, March
2002'
had been written on the back in pencil. Kabul? John was pretty certain
that Kabul was the capital city of Afghanistan.


Somewhere foreign politics must have taken a sharp turn right because John
was sure the USAF hadn't sent him to the Middle East on a peacekeeping mission.
Looking at the picture of Mitch and Dex on his desk, John felt a twinge of
sadness. He didn't used to keep pictures of his two best friends around. He
didn't know for certain, but he suspected that they hadn't come back from
Afghanistan.


The second picture showed John sitting outside with a group of people. Most
of them were wearing dark grey uniforms, but there were some civilians sitting
among the group. There was no note on the back of the picture and John wondered
where it could have been taken. Smiles were on everyone's faces, drinks appeared
to be flowing well from the metal cups on the wooden table. The foliage in the
background was deep green, casting shade on part of the picture. Not
Afghanistan. It could be anywhere. John studied the people who were so important
to him that he had kept a picture of them around. The woman from the infirmary
was there, smiling happily. John's eyes narrowed as he regarded the man sitting
next to her. His face was turned away from the camera, showing only his
profile.


Recognition was a like of flash of lightning shooting through his brain. He
had a mission to carry out. Dr. Rodney McKay had to be eliminated.


TBC








Powerless


Supra Vires


(Horace)


oOo


Rodney was staring at the blank Word document on his screen, trying to write
a long over-due letter to Jeanie, when suddenly the door bust open with an angry
whoosh. Rodney turned, alarmed and surprised to see John Sheppard already
standing in his room.


"I didn't say you could come in," Rodney offered lamely.


The door closed.


Something in the way Sheppard looked at him made Rodney nervous. He reached
for his radio, but in his frustration with the world at large, he had taken it
off, hoping never to hear from anyone again.


"What can I do for?" Rodney asked.


It was as if Sheppard didn't hear him. Suddenly he was across the room, in
front of Rodney. He tried to get to his feet, but before he had a chance to do
anything Sheppard reached out and grabbed his head with both hands.


The effect was instantaneous. Rodney couldn't move, couldn't see, couldn't
hear - the pain was instantly debilitating. He tried to scream, but if he did,
he couldn't hear his own voice. When he finally faded from consciousness, it was
a welcome relief.


oOo


A pounding sound dragged Rodney from deep sleep. Cursing the person who had
dared to wake him after he had finally fallen asleep, Rodney was tempted to just
pull the blanket over his ears and sleep on. He was dead tired. Rodney couldn't
remember falling asleep, but Carson had mentioned that fatigue could be an after
effect and he had been sleeping even less than usual lately. Rodney flipped his
pillow, and the knocking stopped. It was just as well with him.


Rodney didn't want to talk to Radek. The Czech scientist was perfectly
capable of running the day-to-day running and maintenance of Atlantis; they
didn’t need him at the moment. Radek had managed the last two weeks without him.
Atlantis hadn't sunk to the bottom of the ocean - what had Rodney been
expecting? His track record in the last few months hadn't exactly been stellar.
The Doranda debacle came to mind. It was the second screw-up of his career.
Admittedly, it had gone well for him. Recruited straight out of college, Rodney
had never read the job section of his paper. Area 51 didn't offer much of a view
and the climate sucked, but the pay was good, he had a safe job with the
government and he had realized his childhood dream before he was forty. He had
gone into space.


Rodney had screwed up only twice in his career. The first time had been while
he had been working for the Stargate program at Area 51. He had been at Cheyenne
Mountain as an adviser, but it hadn’t been the stepping stone he had hoped for.
His plan had backfired and despite his apologies, a few days later, he had
received a transfer order to Siberia. Rodney was sure he had Colonel O’Neil to
thank for that. The man was rumoured to be very well-connected to the highest
level. But the Russian Stargate program had collapsed and Rodney had found
himself back stateside and on the list for the Atlantis mission.


The fall-out of the Doranda fiasco hadn't been as severe as Rodney had
expected. In fact, his misstep several years earlier had had far graver
consequences. Maybe because the weapons platform had been a keen interest of
Earth-based decision-makers, the dire consequences that Rodney had been waiting
for never came. In a way, it was worse that way. He was still the Chief
Scientist of the Atlantis expedition. He had blown up five-sixths of a solar
system and it had been a mere footnote in the reports that Elizabeth sent back
to Earth. But on Atlantis, everyone knew. The worst was over. Apologies had been
accepted and everyone had gone back to work. People didn't forget that easily.
The facade that Rodney McKay presented to the world had been scratched.


The knocks started up again. Rodney didn't plan to react. He didn’t want to
see anyone, not the well-meaning Radek, not a concerned Carson and certainly not
the meddling Dr. Heightmeyer.


When the person outside didn't stop pounding the door, Rodney yelled, "Go
away. I'm not opening the door." It sounded childish, but he just wanted to
spend one day alone and in peace. That wasn't too much too ask, was it?


He didn't even bother to look who had dared to invade the privacy of his
quarters when he heard the swishing sound of the door. Rodney turned his back to
the room.


"I'm not doing this." He had had enough. Of everything.


Someone sat down on his bed. "Rodney. I need you to come back to the
infirmary. Please, just for a little while." It was Carson, sounding tired and
worried.


"Did Heightmeyer..." Rodney began, but Carson cut him off before he could
finish his question.


"Colonel Sheppard's woken up. He is out of immediate danger, but he's lost
his memory of the past five years."


For a moment, Rodney forgot all about himself. "He doesn't remember anything
about Atlantis?" It seemed inconceivable.


"No, the last he remembers is going to a party on Earth."


"How is he?" Rodney wasn't sure how anyone could be dealing with the enormity
of suddenly waking up in another galaxy.


"As well as I'd expect." Carson shrugged. "Kate said we shouldn't overwhelm
him, but he didn't want to stay in the infirmary, so she took him to his
quarters for a while. Maybe he needs some space right now."


"Does he know about...everything?"


Carson shook his head. "There is still a chance that all this is temporary,
but frankly, without having a clue about what caused the amnesia in the first
place, I can't even begin to speculate." Carson got up from Rodney's bed.


"I'd like to keep on eye on the three of you at least until tomorrow morning.
I know you want to be alone right now, but this is serious, Rodney. If there is
anything I can do to prevent this from happening to the rest of you, I'll do
it." Carson left no room for doubts. Rodney would spend the night in the
infirmary. Another night of forced company, another night where the noises never
stopped reminding him that he couldn't escape them. But it was better than
losing everything he had here on Atlantis. Despite the screw-up on Doranda,
Rodney realized, he very much wanted to keep the memories. He had helped make
this happen.


oOo


Carson had obviously made an effort to make it easy for Rodney. Hardly ten
minutes after Rodney had gotten settled; the blonde medic brought a laptop. She
meant well. Rodney leaned back into the pillow, his own anger weaning, now
filled with worry. What was he going to do if he lost his memory? He would be
useless. Five years ago, the Ancients had hardly been more than a myth. No one
had known if there were still any Ancients around. Without the knowledge inside
his head, Rodney was toast. They would send him back to Earth and there he had
nowhere to go. His father had always said the government was a niche. But then,
the mean old bastard had approved of nothing that Rodney had ever done. He just
couldn't lose his memory. Not after all that had happened. Those were his
memories, good and bad. Rodney wrapped his arms around himself and stared at the
wall.


oOo


Rodney didn't know how much time had passed when Kate walked up to him. Her
blonde hair looked disorderly; she was trying to pull the errant strands behind
her ears. Still, she looked upset. The look didn't go well on a psychologist.
Kate pulled up the nearby chair, but didn't launch into a conversation
immediately. She just sat there and watched Rodney. He didn't give into the
temptation of reacting to her presence; he continued to stare ahead at the
wall.


Finally, Kate broke the silence. "How are you feeling?"


"I have been better." Rodney looked down at his knees now. He wanted Kate to
vanish.


"What do you think is going to happened to you?" Kate apparently thought he
was either five years old or stupid. His brain was going to turn to mush and
Ford was to blame. Rodney had hated other people with a passion since he could
remember. The classmates who had bullied him, the father who had wanted a
different son, Rodney had wished them dead. But he had never felt physical rage
like this before, the primal urge to maim and kill.


"You won't believe it, but this time, I don't have an answer. You should ask
Dr. Beckett." Rodney knew he was being flippant, but he couldn't care less about
what Kate wanted to hear. He didn't want to talk about his feelings right
now.


"Is it all right if we talk about the mission then?"


Rodney nodded and took a deep breath, hoping to calm down before he had a
heart attack.


"I can't force you to talk about anything, you know that. Is there anything
on your mind that you want to talk about?" Kate asked in the sweet tone that
Rodney had come to hate.


"Just stop it. I'm pissed and I'm scared. Is that what you wanted to hear? I
wished I had killed Ford myself because that way, I would be sure the bastard is
actually dead." Rodney ignored the stabbing pain in his head and went on.
"Sheppard should have gotten us out of there; after all, he stayed away from the
enzyme. Instead he left me there to rot. Thanks very much for that! But I still
didn't wish that on him and I'm scared as hell the same is going to happen to me
because Carson has no clue!" Rodney had to pause to draw a breath when suddenly
a sharp pain shot through his head. It was like someone had stuck a knife
through his brain. Rodney didn't know whether he screamed or not; all he did
know was that was it. He was fucked. Rodney McKay had always known that he'd end
badly, the moment he had stepped through the Stargate. His head exploded and the
world disappeared.


oOo


It was her fifth cup of coffee, but it wasn't the caffeine that Elizabeth
Weir needed. She needed rest, not just sleep. Elizabeth couldn't recall the last
time she had gone to sleep without dreading the next morning. She was always
waiting for the other shoe to drop, for a team failing to come back through the
Gate, for a Wraith ship to show up on their radar. Then it had happened.
Sheppard's team had disappeared, vanished without a trace, and she hadn't been
able to do anything. All search efforts had come up empty. It could happen again
any day. They had enough enemies out there: the Wraith, the Genii, Ford's
men.


She would never get used to losing her people. It was part of the job.
Elizabeth had known that when she had accepted the position and she had learned
the hard lessons in the months in the Pegasus Galaxy. Elizabeth would never be
able to accept the loss of good people, but sometimes she was powerless to save
them. Still, she would do anything she could to save every one of them—no matter
the cost. This one had been costly, for all of them.


"Rodney should sleep for a few more hours at least. He had a seizure after he
collapsed and two since. I've put him on diazepam; it kicks in quickly. We can
hope he suffers no further seizures, but it's wait and see for the moment."


Elizabeth glanced at the row of beds across the rooms; Rodney looked younger
when he was asleep. Without his usual shows of manic energy, Rodney seemed too
still. She knew it was different, but like when they had stumbled across the
nanovirus in the bowels of Atlantis, her people were starting to drop around her
and even Carson was a loss to explain.


"He looks bad."


"Nothing the blood scans can detect. The symptoms seem so different from what
happened to the colonel, although the timing is suspicious, I have to admit. I
will run a scan with the Ancient Bio Analyzer once Rodney has stabilised. Maybe
it will reveal a pattern." Carson was almost despondent. They were his friends
too.


Elizabeth took one last look at Rodney. "I guess it's time for me to talk to
Colonel Sheppard." She wasn't looking forward to the conversation. She had
plenty of experience in opening negotiations with tribal rulers--Goa'uld bent on
destroying Earth, Amazon warriors holding the male members of a team hostage--
but she was less apt at navigating her personal relationships.


"He's waiting for you." Carson waved over to the bed at the far end. John sat
in bed, reading something. When Elizabeth approached, he put down his book.
Elizabeth recognized the tattered covers. It was the worn copy of War and
Peace
that John had brought to Atlantis when they had first come here, not
knowing if they would ever return to Earth.


John looked the same as he had a day before. He showed the stress of the past
weeks; his unruly dark hair contrasted his unusually pale face and the lack of
sleep showed on his face, but the expression in his eyes was new. John eyed her
with outright suspicion and distrust as she sat down on the chair next to
him.


"Have you read it before?" Elizabeth asked of the classic John had just put
aside. She was desperate for a way to start the conversation without treating
John like a stranger. He might not know her, but she knew him and she cared.


"If I have, I can't remember. That's the problem I'm having here. Unless you
think I'm just crazy."


Elizabeth didn't react to John's accusatory tone. She couldn't imagine being
in his position. "You were reading it on a schedule. A few pages every day. But
you never told me why you brought this book in particular."


"Well, I sure can't tell you now."


It wasn't like John, to be this gruff with people. He always tried to get
along with almost everyone, even if he kept mostly to himself in the end. He
reminded her of Rodney.


"Are you feeling all right? Dr. Beckett said you were having headaches."
Elizabeth wanted to make sure John felt well before they discussed more serious
questions.


"I don't need another doctor. I need some answers. I would like to speak to
my CO," John snapped, but the anger disappeared from his face again immediately,
making way to mistrust.


"That's why I came here. I'm Dr. Elizabeth Weir. I brought your personnel
file; you can read it after we talk, if you want to. I understand that you have
many questions about what happened in the last five years. I have only known you
for the last fourteen months, but I'll try to answer your questions as well as I
can."


"Where are we? I looked out the window from my quarters..."


"We are in a city called Atlantis." Elizabeth took a deep breath to steel
herself. John had heard this story before and he had taken it well the first
time. She could only hope he would have the same strength the second time.
"Atlantis is located on a planet with the official designation P1X-712. P1X-712
is an Earth-like planet in the Pegasus Galaxy." Elizabeth stopped at John's
blank expression.


"Assuming that you are not kidding and considering that I had no ambitions to
get into the space program, I don't understand how this is possible."


Elizabeth knew about John's academic background. He must have immediately
known that with currently existing technology, they could never have reached
another galaxy.


"If Dr. Beckett okays it, I would like to show you something," Elizabeth said
in way of an explanation. "It will be easier to explain when you see it."


John looked at her with an expression of doubt, but he made to get up from
the bed.


"If Scotty lets me out of here, I’ll be curious to see that." He didn't let
on any curiosity in his voice, but Elizabeth had seen the look in his eyes
before, when John and Rodney had found themselves a new Ancient toy.


"Don't let him hear you say that." Elizabeth had to smile.


oOo


Dr. Weir came across as a no-nonsense woman. Her manner wasn't military and
she obviously wasn't in the forces, but the way she had spoken to the Scottish
doctor suggested that she was used to giving the orders. John followed a step
behind out if the infirmary.


A woman had greeted him as he had passed by on his way out. 'It is good to
see you on your feet again, Colonel Sheppard.'
John had recognized the woman
with the serene smile from the picture in his quarters. With her short blue top
and her long hair, she looked like she had walked in from the beach. The man in
the other bed, who had acknowledged John's presence with a nod, didn't look like
he could have gotten past a recruiter either. Not wearing too much, and most of
it leather, his clothes were not the most remarkable about the man. His
impressive dreadlocks stood out. That must have taken years. John hoped he
wasn't anywhere near involved in running this base.


They stepped into an elevator. At the back wall, a display showed a diagram
of a hexagonal shape, each one of the six arms creating a vertice.


"This is Atlantis. It is roughly the size of Manhattan. We haven't even
managed to explore half of it yet. Some sections flooded during a storm last
year." She pointed to the center. "The command center and my office are located
here."


John nodded. It was much information, but he was trained to take in concise
instructions. What he wasn't prepared for was the sudden dizzying rush that
threatened to overwhelm him for a second. As soon as it had come, it was
over.


The doors of the elevator opened again, and Elizabeth stepped out. John
fought to hide his surprise at the change to their surroundings. What he had
felt earlier, they had literally been transported. That was decidedly too Star
Trek. John shook his head and caught up with Dr. Weir.


Then they stepped into a hall. The sight was not what John had expected. He
had been thinking space ship; instead, there was a ring in the center of the
room. It looked like on oversized ornament, decorated with symbols. John had
never seen anything like it. There were high windows with colored patterns to
one side, a cluster of control panels and computers to the other side several
steps up. About a dozen people were working; none of them was paying any
attention to them.


"So we really are in another galaxy?" It shouldn't be possible.


"Yes, I know it's difficult. When I first heard about Atlantis, I didn't know
what to think either."


"For how long have you known about this?" It wasn't just that John was
curious about. How long had the military been travelling to other galaxies?


"I have known about the project for about two years. Do you want to go to my
office? We can talk there."


John thought about it, but he declined. "No thanks. I'd rather go back to my
quarters."


Dr. Weir gave him a long look. "I'll walk you back to the infirmary. Can you
manage?"


"I'm good."


oOo


It wasn't like John. He had just stood there and then he had left. He had
barely tolerated her presence on the way back to the infirmary. She had expected
questions, but he hadn't asked a single one.


"What do you think, Kate? How is he doing?" Elizabeth asked the psychologist
sitting opposite her desk.


"He is under extreme stress. I'm not surprised by his reactions. He needs to
deal with the new information," Kate reassured her.


Elizabeth still worried about her chief military officer. John had been too
calm, almost lifeless when she had shown him to control room. He hadn't behaved
anything like the man she knew.


"What can we do to help him remember? If there is anything we can do."


"Without knowing the cause of his amnesia, there might be nothing anyone of
us can do about it. I'm the first to admit that," Kate said. "But it's important
for him to know that he has people around him who care. I'm going to encourage
Ronon and Teyla to visit him. Apart from Rodney, they are closest to him."


TBC








Will


Volo, Non Valeo


oOo


Radek Zelenka eyed the basket of Athosian fruit rolls. Even with the Daedalus
making supply runs, Atlantis still traded for most of its food from planets in
the Pegasus Galaxy. Green fur berries weren't strawberries after all. Radek put
a yellow berry fruit roll on his tray and went to look for a seat. It was just
after five a.m., the night shift was still at work and most of the day shift
hadn't gotten up yet.


Radek took a seat in the back by one of the large windows. First light was
showing over the ocean announcing the coming sunrise. It was going to be a long
day. With Rodney in the infirmary once again, the leadership of the science
department fell on Radek's shoulders. The news of their survival had leaked out,
as it had been inevitable. Lieutenant Ford had only pushed up their timetable by
a few months. Radek hoped that months were all that they needed. None of them
had worked on this scale before. Bioweapons yes, Radek had worked on weapons'
research before. What government wasn't paranoid? But they were thinking about
wiping out an entire race. It was the Wraith who thought of Earth as the 'new
feeding grounds'. They had to be stopped before they reached Earth or more
humans would die. But many people in history had thought they had no other
choice. Some days Radek wondered whether the world, if they knew about the
Stargate program, wouldn't think that they, who had brought the threat home in
the first place, weren't the devil incarnate.


"Do you mind if I sit there?" Dr. Beckett came walking up to his table. He
looked tired and his clothing was rumpled. Radek wasn't sure whether the doctor
had just gotten up or was going to bed.


"No, no, sit down," Radek said, nodded and bit into the fruit roll. He
swallowed quickly to avoid the awful taste lingering in his mouth. Radek
hurriedly sipped form his coffee, but it was far too hot.


"Green fur berries?" Carson asked sympathetically.


"I was sure I picked one with yellow berries, but you can never tell. Deroche
is a little dilettante, trying to poison us." Radek wasn't a fan of the cooking
on Atlantis, but he had eaten worse. It least there was enough coffee now that
they had contact to Earth again.


"I don't think it's that bad, Dr. Zelenka." Carson's smile didn't reach his
eyes. Radek could tell that it was more than the stress of the past few days
weighing on him.


"How is Rodney doing?" Radek asked, afraid of what he might hear.


"Not so good, I'm afraid. Initially I thought he'd experienced the same
neurological changes as Colonel Sheppard. I can't explain the Colonel's
condition anymore than I can explain Rodney's, but at least the colonel is
conscious and appears to be out of danger. I can't say the same for Rodney. He
hasn't regained consciousness since yesterday and reads of his neural activity
have steadily been dropping since he collapsed. Not even the Ancient equipment
has been able to find any external or internal injuries that could explain
that." Carson sighed. "I hate this part. We run into things we don't understand
and then this happens! If we had had a clue about what we were dealing with we
could have helped Aiden!"


"You should get some rest."


Radek didn't know what else to say. He would have liked to reassure Carson
that he was confident in his ability to find a solution, but Radek didn't
believe in lies.


"You are right. Elizabeth and Kate have been telling me the same for days,"
Carson said and took a sip from his coffee. Radek said nothing.


"I will come by to see Rodney later." Radek didn't have the time. He should
have been up an hour ago, but he was going to make time to visit Rodney.


oOo


Nick Lorne carefully eyed the man standing next to him. Colonel Sheppard was
back in uniform, a welcome sight after his CO had been missing for two weeks,
but the way Sheppard was staring blankly ahead into space made Lorne uneasy. It
was just going to be a quick trip. Nothing was going to happen, M2X-118 was a
safe planet, or rather a moon. They had briefly considered setting up the alpha
site there, but the prospect of a four-month-long rainy season had deterred
them.


"We are good to go on our end, if you are ready, Major," Dr. Taylor told him.
Nick was ready and so was Corporal Mars, who would accompany them, Nick wasn't
so sure that Sheppard was ready to take the step through the Gate. His first
journey through the Gate had been one of the most baffling experiences of his
career. He hadn't been able to grasp it working until he had stepped out on the
other side in another galaxy. He wasn't so sure yet whether he liked the Pegasus
Galaxy. It was definitely interesting and unusual. Alien planets, exotic food,
some of which he could have done without tasting, cool space ship and being able
to switch stuff on with his mind. That was all cool. But paranoia was in vogue
in the Pegasus Galaxy and seemingly for a good reason. Everyone was trying to
get them.


"Are you ready, sir?" Nick asked Sheppard. Sheppard only nodded.


"Dial it up then."


Dr. Taylor entered the dialling sequences and the wormhole kawooshed into
existence in a spectacle that still amazed a part of Nick Lorne. This time, he
wasn't watching, though, he was discreetly watching Sheppard's reaction. The
colonel hardly blinked as the deadly wave washed into the room without warning.
Of course they were standing at a safe distance, but Sheppard didn't even appear
startled the slightest bit or he had himself very well under control. Nick had
already noticed that Sheppard liked to come across as just another flyboy, even
though his brains and guts had pulled Atlantis out of some hot spots.


oOo


M2X-118 was balmy in the evening hours of local time. The area was quiet
except for the sounds of insects. The first survey hadn't revealed any dangerous
wildlife, so Nick wasn't worried; this was a safe planet. He and Mars were armed
as a precaution only. The Wraith could always show up. Sheppard had finally
taken an interest in what was going on. He was standing over the DHD, examining
the symbols. Lorne had never cared much about the whole mythology of the
Stargate. He left that up to the scientists.


"This is the device that activates the Stargate?" Sheppard asked.


"Yes. Each Stargate has an address of seven symbols and you dial it like a
telephone number," Mars went over to Sheppard and explained.


"If I hadn't walked through it before, I wouldn’t think this was real. So,
this is another planet?" Sheppard tried to make conversation, but Nick got the
impression that the man felt uncomfortable.


"We are on a small moon, about twenty light-years away from Atlantis. The
Stargate allows us to travel there almost instantaneously. That's how we got to
Atlantis in the first place," Mars eagerly explained. He too appeared glad that
Sheppard was starting to ask questions. Maybe Dr. Weir's idea was working after
all.


"But that's not how you are going to get back there." A shot followed before
Nick could turn around to the DHD.


"Drop your gun!" Sheppard's voice was icy. He was pointing a 9mm at Nick.
Mars was on the ground, his face contorted in pain, but he was still alive,
pressing a hand to his right shoulder.


"You know I can't do that. Give me your weapon and we can go back to Atlantis
and sort this all out." Nick wished he were a better negotiator. He barely got
alien village elders to give him a sack full of beans; how was he supposed to
talk down an amnesiac Air Force colonel?


"He's right, we can talk!" Mars winced from the ground.


"Listen Colonel, Mars needs to see a doctor. Let him go back and we can talk
this out, just the two of us." Nick was getting desperate. Mars' wound wasn't in
a necessarily fatal spot, but he couldn't see how heavy he was bleeding.


"You're going nowhere because you are going to be dead." It was then that
Nick knew Sheppard wasn't going to let them go, no matter what he said. Nick
aimed and fired the only shot he had, hoping that he would make his target
before Sheppard hit him. He had no other choice. Just before he pulled the
trigger, there was a shot and something exploded with a deafening sound. He
managed to squeeze the trigger blindly before he was pulled into blackness.


oOo


Normally Rodney would have easily out-talked the monitoring equipment. The
only time Rodney ever shut up were the times when he was immersed in deep
concentration studying an Ancient artifact? At others times, Rodney was a
whirlwind of fury. Radek had been at the receiving end of Rodney's wrath many
times before. He questioned the motivation, intelligence and parentage of his
hand-picked staff on a daily basis, but he rarely meant it. Rodney was too
self-absorbed to hold a grudge, even against Kavanaugh, for a long time. Only
one time, during the work on the Doranda project, there had been genuine mockery
in Rodney's voice as he had yelled at him and called him names. That time he had
meant it. Radek had accepted Rodney's apology. Life was going on and they had to
continue working together. If Rodney's only failing was that he couldn't control
what came out of his mouth, then so be it. He had saved Atlantis and Earth with
his plan to hold off the Wraith ships during the siege on Atlantis.


Still, Radek wasn't going to forget the instant where Rodney McKay had shown
what perhaps was part of his true feelings.


Right now, it didn't matter. They needed Rodney on Atlantis. He was a
brilliant scientist, no matter his personal shortcomings. Dr. Millhouse’s face
had been grave when she had shown him to Rodney's bed in one of the isolation
rooms behind the infirmary. His condition was still deteriorating and there was
nothing anyone could do. Radek gladly would have let his own work be if there
was anything he could do to help. Unfortunately there was nothing in his
expertise that would be of any help to Rodney in his present state, so he had
continued his work on the weapons delivery system. But instead of taking a few
minutes to wolf down the stew of the day, he had gone to visit Rodney in the
infirmary.


"This shouldn't have happened, Rodney. Not after you did all that to come
back to Atlantis." Radek admired what Rodney had done to escape Ford's men. He
wouldn't have thought Rodney had it in himself to risk his own well-being for
the sake of others.


"You surprised me with all your heroics in last months. You almost blow up
yourself and Colonel Sheppard, and then you escaped alone from Ford and his men.
Maybe you are more than brains on short legs. Colonel Sheppard has picked you
for team for reason. You say you are the smartest man in the Pegasus Galaxy, but
we know better..."


A sudden change in the beeping of the heart monitor, an acceleration of the
steady rhythm jerked Radek out of his babbling. He slammed down on the call
button, praying that Dr. Millhouse would get there quickly.


"Rodney, Rodney. Can you hear me?"


For the first time since Radek had arrived over an hour ago, Rodney moved.
His hands twitched and his head rolled restlessly.


"Radek." Rodney was looking at him through half-lidded eyes, but Radek was
overjoyed at hearing recognition in Rodney's voice.


"Dr. Millhouse is going to be here in a moment." Radek assumed that Rodney
was in pain.


"No. Sheppard...he did this," Rodney whispered. Radek had heard but didn't
understand. How could Sheppard be responsible for Rodney's condition?


"Did Sheppard attack you? How?" Radek leaned in closer. He couldn't believe
that Sheppard would have harmed Rodney.


"Energy." Rodney gasped and his eyes drifted shut. A sudden shudder went
through Rodney's body and Radek was powerless to watch as the heart monitor
squealed in alarm. The seconds until Dr. Millhouse and the nurse on duty arrived
running seemed endless.


"Dr. Zelenka, you have to leave now."


oOo


"Try contacting them again," Elizabeth ordered. "It's been over two hours;
they should have been back by now. Or left word that they were staying out." She
blamed herself for not noticing earlier that Sheppard, Major Lorne and Corporal
Mars were long overdue from their quick trip to M2X-118. But for once, Elizabeth
had taken two hours of private time. Just enough for a shower and to catch up on
her correspondence, but it had been plenty of time for disaster to happen.


"Still no response on their end, Dr. Weir."


Elizabeth tapped her radio. "Sergeant Simmons, this is Dr. Weir. Please
report to the control room."


oOo


The sound was familiar but Nick couldn't place it. A gigantic wave hitting a
beach, but he couldn't smell the salty air or the water. Suddenly the sounds of
the ocean had been replaced by a quiet humming. He tried to open his eyes, but
there was something wrong. Everything was dark. He couldn't see anything. After
endless seconds dark shadows formed in front of his eyes. He couldn't make out
what was there, but he could see.


When he heard footsteps a few seconds later, he hoped those were his people
from Atlantis coming for him, and not the Wraith or the Genii.


"Major Lorne." A concerned voice accompanied the hand brushing over his neck.
The mere touch sent fire-like pain running though his neck .


"I'm sorry. Can you open your eyes again, just for a moment?" The voice asked
the impossible.


Nick blinked at a vaguely familiar face hovering above.


"That's good. Now I want you to concentrate. Have you hit your head?"


"Don't think so." His head didn't hurt. Something bad had happened to his
neck. He remembered shooting. Sheppard had shot Corporal Mars. "Sheppard...You
have..."


"We know major. We know. It's all right. Corporal Mars told us. I need you to
focus a little bit longer."


"Can you feel that?"


Before Nick realised the importance of the question he answered. "No." Oh
God.


"You have to stay calm now and let us evaluate your injuries, Major."


"No..." His mind protested against the possibilities and he involuntarily
twisted away. Immediately, intense pain surged through his neck. Hands were
trying to hold him steady, and eventually the pain eased away.


oOo


Elizabeth had to control herself not to start pacing in her office. The team
around Sergeant Simmons had been gone only ten minutes, not enough time to
report back yet, but she could feel that they were going to bring bad news.
Elizabeth got up from her chair, and then she sat down again. She couldn't bear
the waiting anymore.


It seemed like hours later when there was a knock on her door, announcing
news from the search team.


"We have a radio connection established with the team on M2X-118. Sergeant
Simmons wants to talk to you," Dr. Taylor let her know. Elizabeth couldn't tell
whether he had bad or good news for her. Her instincts told her that Simmons had
found nothing good on M2X-118.


Elizabeth followed Dr. Taylor out into the control room and activated her
radio. "Sergeant, please report."


"Dr. Weir, I'm afraid we ran into some problems. Corporal Mars and Major
Lorne have been both been injured. They are not good shape, but they are still
alive. We need a medical team over here; Lieutenant Ritter doesn't want to take
the risk transporting them before a doctor has had a look at them."


"Where is Sheppard?"


"We are not certain yet. The DHD has been damaged, so he still has to be on
the planet. Luckily we brought the Jumper, so we can dial the Gate from
there."


"Back up a few steps, Sergeant." Elizabeth was confused. Why was Sheppard not
with the others and how had they been injured? A cold feeling settled between
her shoulder blades. Something had gone very wrong.


"I'm not so sure myself what happened. According to Corporal Mars, Sheppard
did the shooting. He is adamant about it. He says that after Lorne damaged that
DHD, Sheppard ran off. That's all we know so far."


"What do you think? Is the information solid?" Elizabeth asked, hoping
against hope that it was all just a misunderstanding. First Ford had turned on
them and now Sheppard. She couldn't help thinking that it was all connected
somehow to the Wraith enzyme.


"The DHD has been damaged. It looks like someone took a P90 to it. Mars got
one in the shoulder, but he is on the up-and-up. We need more people if we are
going to start a search for Sheppard." Simmons’s voice came over the radio.


"I'll assemble a team and we'll be with you in ten minutes." Elizabeth


"You are coming as well? I don't think this is a good idea, Dr. Weir. If what
Mars says is true, Sheppard is capable of anything. He got a gun and he knows
how to use it." Simmons sounded concerned.


"I'll be all right," Elizabeth said decisively. "We'll see you on the planet.
Atlantis out." She hoped she knew what she was doing. There had to be a way to
persuade John to come back to Atlantis.


Kate would probably say she was trying to make up for dropping the ball with
Ford. They had all failed to reach Ford before it had been too late, or maybe
they couldn't have kept him on Atlantis no matter what. Elizabeth was determined
to get to John and bring him back to Atlantis.


TBC



 
 
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