Flight of Icarus – Between Extremes

This is the actual first chapter of this epic that has taken over my brain.

“You broke him! Beckett said he had a strong gene and you broke his brain. Aren’t you just the stereotype a marine who breaks anything, or apparently anyone, that is more valuable, useful or remotely more purposeful than him. Couldn’t you stick to breaking your personal computer with your virus infested porn? No! You had to come over here and break my infinitely more important human light switch! Next Carson will be giving me false reassurances, vague information wrapped up in that voodoo mumbo jumbo he insists is a science. Weir” Rodney points at a thin woman hovering near the door “will be saying that this can all be worked out peacefully and we all have to work together and respect each other’s laws and me punching you was a breach of international etiquette or something equally wordy and diplomatic” During this speech Rodney had stood up and Carson grabbed his arm to stop him marching up to the man in the door.
“Now Rodney I’m sure Bates didn’t break the lad… I’m sure he’ll be fine once the shock wears off” Rodney snorted and waved a hand at Carson as though to say ‘see!’
“Bates, I would find somewhere else to be if I were you. I can’t find it in me to worry about ‘international etiquette’”

THIS IS A WIP! An un -beta read one – Beta based critique accepted all else keep to yourself.
Discliamer-Anything you don’t recognise is mine all else belongs to its respective authors.

Oddly from me there may never be sex between the main characters but seeing as Carson stole John from his intended partner that is entirely his fault.
Yes this is the actual fic this time!
As usual
Italics – Thoughts/Mental comms
Bold – Flashback

‘Let me warn you, Icarus, to take the middle way, in case the moisture weighs down your wings, if you fly too low, or if you go too high, the sun scorches them. Travel between the extremes.’

 At the same time as he laid down the rules of flight, he fitted the newly created wings on the boy’s shoulders. While he worked and issued his warnings the ageing man’s cheeks were wet with tears: the father’s hands trembled.


“Sheppard! Flight orders out to the outpost, come on, haul ass. You don’t wanna keep the General waiting” Lieutenant Colonel Jenson hollered into the ready room from his office. Major John Sheppard stood, shoved the fat book in his hands on to the shelf above his head and grabbed his jacket, he started towards the door, looked at the guard outside, stopped, walked back and stepped in to the office.


“Listen carefully fuckup, much as I don’t want you on my base don’t crash with the general on board.” Jensen growled handing John his Tracking card. John gritted his teeth as feeling of ill will washed off his CO.

“Yes, Sir” John turned and left quickly. As always he was filled with certainty that if Jenson thought there was any chance he would get a replacement pilot John would already be dead.

John pulled his jacket on and waved his Card at the guard by the door.

John quickly worked his way through the mostly empty corridors towards the hanger. He quickly thought through his pre-flight and taking a few deep breaths started to reinforce his mental walls for the flight. He had a bad feeling about this one. The general wasn’t close enough to feel yet but as the mainland pilot passed him just outside the hangar the man grabbed his elbow lightly. John had seen the hand coming and ignored the wash of emotions, feelings and residual pain from the still healing injury of the other man

“It’s O’Neill, not a bad bloke, likes it if you use his name rather than just General.” Dropping to a whisper the pilot said “The guy like you on the main land said to make sure you put your gloves on.” and then he let go clapped John on the back and hurried off.

John quickly pushed the residual whispers of emotion to the back of his mind quickly thinking through the Colonels and Generals he has meet in recent years. He couldn’t figure out why the General’s name was bothering him. He recognised the name but it was a vague half memory to him, really just a flash suggestion of missions gone wrong. Pain, physical and psychological but blurry, patchy like a night out on the town a confused mix of someone else’s and his own feelings.

“Jack” he muttered stepping in to the hanger and waving his Card again. The name slipped from his lips and hit him like a slap to the face muscle memory telling him he didn’t want to be near Jack.

“Bad luck Johnny looks like we’re stuck flying him unless you can come up with something brilliant” he whispered to himself hoarsely. Seeing the General he saluted and went on to automatic, handing his Tracking card to the Airman on duty quickly outlining his planned route. Taking them back at the Airman’s nod he headed over to the General. He avoided contact in a practiced manner, pulling on long thin gloves before pulling himself up to the ‘chopper. When he glanced across at the General’s face mid pre-flight he caught him with sorrow and apologies in his eyes.

Jack watched the kid pull on his gloves hanging back until he was done before climbing in. He couldn’t help letting his mind flick to the last time he saw the kid, being carted off by the medics in some desolate grey military hospital. For a moment he fought himself to not say that he was sorry. Sorry that he’d used the kid like a human painkiller. Sorry that he had pushed everything on to John to make himself numb. Sorry he had almost killed the kid for a moment’s peace in his own head. It had been stupid, selfish and had fucked the mission up. He knew that he’d shoved something of himself in to the kid’s head and if he hadn’t then the kid would still be running around in some war zone getting shot at instead of in an icy prison for doing the right thing. Jack rarely regretted managing to hide for his entire life and the secrecy that required but every time he meet this kid…

He had no illusions that his rank would protect him if he slipped up now. Despite the idiocy that it would be he wanted to reach out and tell the kid that he was sorry that the government treated him like some freak just for being alive. Wished he could tell him that what he needed to do was get away from America.

Steal a chopper, steal a god damn plane, steal your fucking life back everyone deserves a life and believe me most places in the world would give it to you. You’re one of a kind, never been anyone like you! Christ governments would start wars to free you, if you would just damn well ask.

There would be no point it saying a word the kid had been trained to give everything for his country, had never been told that he was allowed to want, most likely the best he would get was a quiet ‘I won’t report you sir’ and then the kid would turn back in to Major John Sheppard, well-trained self-sacrificing pilot of the fine US of A.

A gold fleck appeared on the horizon racing towards them rudely breaking Jack’s train of thought, instinct kicked in seconds before the alert came over the radio and Jack started backseat flying. John deftly avoided the glowing speck landing on the snow. Flinging himself to the General’s side of the ‘chopper he shoved Jack out, throwing himself out after him stumbling as he hit the ground. He caught himself on one hand and the frozen snow sliced through his right hand glove like a knife, seconds later training took over, he flung himself over the already prone General covering him with his own body to protect him from the impending blast. The blast never came. Eventually the two men peeled apart before standing. John edged up and peered round the nose of the ‘chopper at the rather harmless looking, and no longer glowing squid lying on the ground.

“Sir? I think a glowing squid just tried to kill us?”

“I’m gonna kill Danny.” Jack muttered he grabbed John’s hand to pull himself up and felt slick blood between them. Before he could let go the memory and still sharp pain of Charlie’s murd… “Lawful Termination” leapt across the skin barrier seizing John with shock before he jerked back and he remembered their last encounter.

“God I hate this place” Jack murmured as he pulled a glove off and manhandled his pilot in to first the glove and then the passenger seat of the ‘chopper “Let’s see if I can still fly one of these shall we kid?”.

 Between Extremes

“There’s this clean, pure, feel to the place like everything you have ever done or everything that you are is wiped away. The cold is an equaliser of all men. We are all as susceptible to it as the next person and one minute to long outside in this place will kill you… “The elevator reached the bottom of its journey and the two slim men stepped out.  John held his jacket in one hand poking a rather impressive tear in the shoulder, he sounded tired and old pain reawakened creased his eyes. Jack looked relaxed but a second glance would have shown him to be determined and worried. The younger man continued as they stopped so John could wave his Card at a glowering marine “I like it here” The Marine snatched the Card off John.  He quickly handed it back when Jack stopped to frown at him.

“You like it here!” Jack shook his head. The major quirked his lips to one side in a kind of half smile and shrugged.

“Jack!”  A scruffy haired man in glasses shouted and walked quickly over.
“Daniel! Warm welcome, that the usual greeting these days? Jeez, give you a bunch of scientists, your own project and you start tryin’ to kill visitors.” Jack, said flinging an arm round the new comer’s shoulders.

“Wasn’t me.” Daniel insisted “How did you manage to, uh …?” the words earning him a look of doubt from Jack and the younger man.
“Keep my ass from gettin’ blown out of the sky?” twisting he waved a lazy hand at John “The exceptional flying of Major John Sheppard. He likes it here.” The last section was added like a description.
“Exceptional?” He turns looking at John with a slight frown “You like it here?” John shrugged and Jack uses the arm over Daniel’s shoulder to guide him towards the centre of the cavern.
“What say we skip to the part where you start talking real fast?”
“Ah. Weir’s in here.” They start to walk away but Jack twisted back round briefly to shout,
“Take a walk round but no touching… Anything!”
“Yes, sir.”

John stood there in the middle of the room, looking a little lost. The cavern was littered with benches and tool boxes surrounded by scientists arguing in a bizarre mix of languages. Finally he walked up to a bench with an empty stand on it, a sketch lay on it of something that looks like the glowing attack squid from earlier. A warm voice drew John in to a sectioned off piece of the room. Patterned walls marked it separate from the rest, he reached out with one hand and touched the odd resin that filled the geometric pattern almost like opaque glass. The resin was oddly warm.

There were two men in the room, one is poking an open panel in the wall and arguing with a man who was stood next to an ornate chair. John reached out carefully to feel the mood of the room before walking in. The man with a Scottish accent stood next to the chair gave of guilt and frustration like he’d been pushed in to something that had gone wrong. The other man, who had barely spoken, was completely different his body language filled with amusement and the feeling of slight frustration of unanswered questions bubbled off him. Fascinated John steped in to the room and started to listen to the conversation.

“… I can’t explain it Radek it was like something clicked and disappeared. I didn’t do anything it just went away. All I was thinking was just bloody STOP and then it did!”

“So you were ….” John bit back the words quickly as the two men turned to stare at him.

“Were what, laddie?”

“You were the one who fired that thing at General O’Neill.”
“And you’re the pilot” The Scot added “Look we’re doing research; working with technology that’s light years beyond us and we make mistakes. I’m incredibly, incredibly sorry.”

The other man snorted at the description obviously amused by the Scotsman’s defence.
“umm well, next time just take a touch more care, OK?” John said, unsure of how to answer.

The scruffy guy seemingly called Radek closed the panel he had been fiddling with and standing, left the room muttering under his breath in some foreign language. John bit down the urge to laugh at the emotions coming of him.

“What the hell was that thing anyway?” John said edging in to the room drawn in to the chair.
“You mean the drone?” John nodded before creeping in to inspect the chair “The weapon the Ancients built to defend this outpost.”
“The who?” the Scots mans eyes widened and he moved, quickly herded John away from the chair, even his psy presence pushing John backwards with a wall made of fright, secrets spilled and disasters looming.

“You do have security clearance to be here?” The Scots voice lost its warmth sharply.
“Yeah, yes. General O’Neill just gave it to me. He told me to walk around” John’s reply was fast and defensive even as he carried on backing off away from the discomfort.
“Then you don’t even know about the Stargate.”
“ The what?” John’s frown was meet by a cheeky grin and an introduction.

“Well then I’m Carson Beckett and I’ll be your guide for Stargates, Ancients and everything between”

Somewhere else in the compound

Rodney McKay, PhD, PhD, PhD stood in a lab listening to Jack O’Neill prove exactly why the military were a waste of brain, Jackson prove why soft scientists should all be mute and watched Weir fail to prove that she could actually use her skills as a diplomat in a situation where someone wasn’t going to wipe out half a continent. He had stopped listening early on, possibly after the first mention of 3rd dynasty Egyptians, but Jackson finally seemed to have got to the point.

“I figure the Ancients packed up their entire city and left somewhere between five and ten million years ago.”
“In their … flying city.”  O’Neill sounded sceptical and really who could blame him Jackson seemed like a blithering idiot

And if I hadn’t checked the math I would think that too. Rodney thought,

Really, why is Jackson not annoyed with this guy?
“Flying city.” O’Neill snorted.

Seriously, what are you 12? Advanced race! Is this hard to understand!
“Well, keep in mind this is the race that built the Stargates. They did everything big.”
“Yeah, ok….So why’d they leave?”
“Why, Why’d they leave? Um, who knows? We know the Ancients on Earth were suffering from a plague. Uh, maybe some of them were trying to start over, seeding life in a new galaxy? Maybe that’s what Ancients do? The point is we know where they went!” Jackson’s seemingly unending stores of patience seemed to crumble for a moment but then it kicked back in and for the third time that day McKay lost all hope for the soft sciences.

“Pegasus.” O’Neill said sounding ever so pleased with himself

Finally the idiot has said something that shows some intelligence, for a flyboy.

“Yes, it’s-it’s the name of a dwarf galaxy in the local group.”
“After all that time, is there any hope of actually meeting them?”
“Who knows, but isn’t that reason enough to go?” Jackson looked between O’Neill and Wier hopefully.

Rodney decided to add his intellect to the conversation. “I thought we paid you to figure that out! Anyway if they were anywhere near as advanced as we think then who cares let’s just hope their technology survived.”
“I’ve been choosing members for this expedition for months, Doctor. I’m not the one who needs convincing.” Weir had finally decided to join the conversation

With the most inane comment she could come up with I notice. Who was trying to convince her? She is the convincer not the convincee.
“Oh, I’m convinced.” The three others in the room looked at Jack shocked. He looked at Jackson adding “Have fun.”
“Uh, it’s-it’s-it’s a little more complicated than that.”

No…No, no, no, no. Idiot, He just agreed to let us go what are you doing. Right so now he expects me to explain this!
“We need the ZedP.M. to power the Gate.” Rodney said nodding expectantly
“What?” McKay just looked at O’Neill stunned

He found the damn thing. Surely he’s not that stupid!
“ZeeP.M. He’s, uh, he’s Canadian.” Jackson chipped in as Rodney’s stunned turned to glare.
“I’m sorry.” O’Neill sounded sympathetic and McKay gritted his teeth. Taking a breath he began to explain with his hands sketching in front of him
“The Zero Point Module, General. The, uh, Ancient power source you recovered from Proclarush Taonas and that’s now powering the outpost’s defences.”

Ha nicely dumbed down. He can’t fail to understand that!

“I have since determined that it generates its enormous power from vacuum energy derived from a self-contained region of subspace time.”
“That was a waste of a perfectly good explanation.” Rodney turned a full strength glare on to O’Neill who shrugged and turned to Weir and Jackson “The answer is no.”

“Jack, you know that gating to another galaxy requires an enormous amount of power.”
“Yes I do. Find another way.”

Oh finally something he does know, should I clap?
“There’s no other way. The power requirements of the…..” Rodney was quickly interrupted by O’Neill
“You think there are more of these Zed things in Atlantis?”
“ Yes, and who knows what else we could find? This isn’t just some other civilisation we’re talking about. These are the gate builders.” Jackson replied.
Weir stepped towards Jack lightly then softly said “The potential wealth of knowledge and technology, it outweighs anything we’ve come across.”

Huh isn’t that what they said about the gate here.
“Well, with the amount of power you’ll need to make this trek, odds are it’ll be one way.”
“Yes, we know, but the benefit to humanity is far greater than the risk, General, and it is a risk that every one of my expedition members is willing to take.”

Yeah well you did pick people willing to live on a polar ice cap practically full time. Of course everyone is prepared to take the risk.
“In which case Elizabeth it is my pleasure to inform you that I was given control over the fate of this mission. You have fully convinced me that it is worthwhile.” Jack turned to leave. “By the way the president had already approved it He thinks that it’s ‘Essential to the betterment of humanity’. Oh and Danny, you aren’t going.” He walked away and Daniel hurried behind him already arguing.

Dick Rodney narrows his eyes at O’Neill’s back.

The Chair

John stepped right up to the chair and realised that as he got closer he could feel a niggling pull to touch the chair. As he played with this, stepping towards and away from the chair circling it slowly, Carson’s rambling explanation continued. “They think the gene was used as a sort of genetic key, if you will, so that only their kind could operate certain dangerous and powerful technologies. Not that we actually know what this one does, other than try to kill people of its own will. Rodney has his suspicions but goodness knows its original function.”Carson turns to pick up a tablet computer. John looks at him then, giving in to the pull, slid a glove off and poked the arm of the chair where the hand rests are. He expected resin, like the walls, and was surprised to find that they were gel pads. “The specific gene is very rare, much to the scientists’ annoyance. I believe that it may have found its way in to the human genome through interbreeding of the last survivors of the earth based Ancients and early humans.  We suspect the ancients were very similar physically to Homo-sapiens so genetic compatibility isn’t that surprising.”

Carson poked John’s arm, John snatched his hand away from where it was absently stroking the arm of the Chair and shoved it back in to the glove. He looked at Carson shocked, as the Scot grabbed the very tips of his gloved fingers and guided him away from the chair slightly before he let go then patted John’s shoulder careful to avoid the tear in his shirt. Jhn frowned, Carson smiled  murmuring “ You’re Psy right, I can feel it like a buzz” he laughed warmly at John’s ,not so, surreptitious glance at his pass “Anyway we’re the second evolution of this form, the Ancients having explored this galaxy for millions of years before … Major, please don’t.”
John rolled his eyes and muttered “What are the odds of a freak like me having the same genes as these guys?”
He sat down, the chair dropped him back to reclining and span round before coming to a halt with John staring at Carson shocked.

Carson, who was about to tell John off for the freak comment said “Quite slim, actually.” Finally shaking off the surprise Carson shouted out” Doctor Weir!”  hurrying off he shouted back “Don’t move.”

As Carson left his sight John sees the marine from the entrance moving towards him quickly. He tensed into the Chair and before the man could reach him defensively began to say

“I was told to stay here.” Ignoring him the marine seemed to come to some decision and walking up to the chair he reached out and grabbed John. When the chair had tilted back John’s sleeve had fallen back slightly revealing a thin line of skin between the sleeve end and the short glove that Jack O’Neill had given him to replace the shredded one.  The marine grabbed John by this bare piece of skin. As his hand shut John felt the axe of malice that the marine had smash in to his mind solidly. The marine pulled and John tumbled up and out of the chair. He quickly hit the floor, knees buckling as nausea engulfed him, head throbbing, colours swirling in and out of sight and vertigo kicked in. John’s mind was filled with one thought, shoved in crudely.

Monstrosity, You shoulda been put down at birth. Just die!

Someone above him says something, the words vague and far away like John’s under water. He twitches his mind too busy trying to build a wall to process words or pull way physically. His arm jerked harshly adding to the pain sharply yet differently, like finger nails being scraped down a chalk board in a room full of screaming people lost in the noise but heard enough to cut through you. The words continued above him, his eyes opened enough to see people shouting before sliding shut again, hysterically a thought broke through the pain

How can they hear each other over the retching?

A second mind slammed in suddenly with a blast of emotions, anger, frustration, superiority and apology joining the marines deluge before leaving just as swiftly. The Marine sent a final blast of pain from a broken nose before he’s gone too.  John curled foetal on the floor throwing up crude defences akin to sandbags in front of a tsunami.
A firm but gentle hand wrapped round his arm, with only thin fabric between them and John’s defences so low the man’s mind touched his and John recognised it as the second mind before he flinched away. He heard mumbling above him something sharp repeated over and over. John pulled away from the throbbing focusing intently and slowly it became a clear “…. rry, sorry, sorry, damn it, sorry.”

“Rodney calm down” he heard Carson say. John frowned then regretting it pushed his eyes open he squinted up at the man hovering above him.

“Whoa, it’s like being in the eye of a storm with the whirling emotions all round me but not actually touching” John attempted to say although it came out more like an impressed sounding murmur of “eye…all round… no ouchin”. Rodney looked at Carson eyes widening worriedly before whirling back around to glare at someone behind him.

“You broke him!” he shouted “Beckett said he had a strong gene and you broke his brain. Aren’t you just the stereotype a marine who breaks anything, or apparently anyone, that is more valuable, useful or remotely more purposeful than him. Couldn’t you stick to breaking your personal computer with your virus infested porn? No! You had to come over here and break my infinitely more important human light switch! Next Carson will be giving me false reassurances, vague information wrapped up in that voodoo mumbo jumbo he insists is a science. Weir” Rodney points at a thin woman hovering near the door “will be saying that this can all be worked out peacefully and we all have to work together and respect each other’s laws and me punching you was a breach of international etiquette or something equally wordy and diplomatic” During this speech Rodney had stood up and Carson grabbed his arm to stop him marching up to the man in the door.

“Now Rodney I’m sure Bates didn’t break the lad… I’m sure he’ll be fine once the shock wears off” Rodney snorted and waved a hand at Carson as though to say ‘see!’

“Bates, I would find somewhere else to be if I were you.” The thin woman ordered “I can’t find it in me to worry about ‘international etiquette’” Bates looked to O’Neill before turning to leave.

As they were speaking John twisted and pushed until he was sitting leaning against the Chair then pushing against it he slid in to a vaguely standing position leaning heavily against the Chair’s arm.

“Sit back down before you hurt yourself more, idiot.” Rodney said walking back over, starting to reach out then snatching his hand back and folding his arms. So John sat or rather collapsed, in to the Chair. The chair seems to realise he felt shaky because it lowered him back slowly and without spinning quietly queried what he wanted.

O’Neill walked up to the base of the chair and sounding exasperated said
“I said don’t touch anything.”

“I-I just sat down.” O’Neill sighed and shaking his head let Rodney shove him out of the way.
“Major, think about where we are in the solar system.” John frowns at Rodney and started to open his mouth when a hologram of the earth appeared above him slowly panning back in to the solar system and then carrying on outwards.  Weir smiled a pulse of pride and pleasure washing off her.
“Did I do that?” John muttered as he slumped sideways in to unconsciousness.

“Sir, the replacement pilot and ‘chopper has arrived.” O’Neill’s radio crackles

“Tell him to proceed with checks I’m coming up.”

After John had passed out he had been moved to one of the emergency rest quarters on the base and O’Neill had called of a replacement. As he walked away Weir followed.
“We could be on our way to discovering an entirely new Ancient civilisation. At the best case scenario, we meet actual Ancients who are willing to help us, but if we don’t …” She glanced up at the general and realising he isn’t listening simply said “General, we need him.”

“You’ve already got linguists and I’ve already told you aren’t having mine too.” Jack waved his hand dismissively as Elizabeth rolled her eyes,
“I’m talking about Major Sheppard.”
“You already have people who have the gene. Hell one of them set of a missile, what more do you need?”
“With concentration and training they can make it work, but they can’t keep control, that missile is the perfect example of that! But John Sheppard, well we didn’t see much but what we did see was… impressive. John is already much better than people who have practiced and trained.”
“You know, I know his record.”
“ I know about the whole supposed black mark in Afghanistan. He was trying to save lives and if you say his mutation makes him to dangerous I will punch you international incident or not.” Weir had stopped walking looking at O’Neill expectantly. He stopped turning slowly.
“Elizabeth, the thought didn’t even cross my mind and as for the black mark, he might have been saving lives but he was disobeying a direct order in the process. He broke a few laws that was ignored because of the lives he saved!” He stopped and then muttered “He was lucky, you and I know it” the general started walking again body language radiating hostility.
“It’s going to be an international expedition. You won’t even be responsible for him. Can’t you sell it on the fact he will be out of the galaxy. Out of sight, out of mind?”

“It’s your expedition.” They reached the elevator and Jack got in “You want him, you ask.”
“That’s the thing. I have.” Jack turns and, telling the marine in the lift to wait, raises an eyebrow at her “They are…unwilling to pass such an asset in to the hands of a known defector.”
“Defe…? Oh the Swiss thing?” Jack shrugs and pulls the gate shut, the lift starts rise. At the last second he leans forward and says “I’ll tell them he’s essential. No promises.”

“…sure he’s not broken? He’s been asleep for 37 hours now.” Rodney’s petulant whine wove its way in to John’s consciousness and John resisted the urge to smile waiting to see what the response would be.

“Rodney, just like I told you 3 hours ago and 3 hours before that the mind is a delicate instrument and it take time to recover from the kind of abuse Bates gave the Major” Carson clearly knew John was awake, his emotional tone had gone from frustrated with Rodney to amused with John.

“Yes, overloading the brain is like overheating a computer. You said before but I could have built a new computer by now!”

“I would like to think that I’m a little more advanced than a computer.” John muttered hoarsely. His throat was dry and his mouth tasted sour with a tang of iron. He opened his eye just in time to see Rodney jump out of his skin. Rodney’s relief so thick John could taste it. He felt slow like he’s thinking through treacle, John’s ability to feel minds and emotion was blurry. He couldn’t feel anyone outside of the room and the inability to feel everyone was disconcerting, setting him on edge.

“How’re you feeling” Carson asked, automatically reaching out to take John’s pulse. Rodney grabbed Carson’s wrist with a glare.

“Headache, everything’s dull. I feel …talky”

“Could be cross-con…” Carson started worriedly

“…tamination from him prolonging contact and forcing thoughts at me? Yeah most likely” John finished, lifting his wrist to Carson’s hand.

“What! That’s rape, asshole! I should have pulled the iron out of his body instead of punching him!” Rodney exploded “I could totally do that you know. I mean I hate blood but I’m sure I could cope with doing it once and if I pass out in a manly way after doing it well that’s fine because I’m a doctor of physics not medicine. It’s completely expected that I would have some kind of perfectly acceptable reaction to someone’s blood leaping out of their body. Not to say that I usually use my talents to kill people, although I’m sure it would be useful for an assassin. Not that I’m saying I don’t use it because I do. Mostly to manipulate tiny metal parts about or to move tools. I find it very useful really. Normally I just contemplate killing people but you are really very valuable. We’ve never found anyone with your natural dexterity with the interface device. Oh and to answer your question, yes you did “do that” ”

“Huh and I thought that I was feeling talky.” John mutters as Rodney paused to take a breath.

“I think we should let the Major get some rest before you overload his brain again.” Carson said patting John’s wrist as he placed it on the bed before wrapping a friendly arm round Rodney shoulders and pushing him toward the door.

“Surely he isn’t that stupid. Those mice that you’re torturing in the name of a false science could cope with that much information and he flies things so …” And then John was alone. Completely alone, I’ve not been this alone since the trial. Actually this place is kind of like a cell. Crap.

John fell asleep with worries running round and round.

Sometime Later

“I have called you all here to formally confirm and destroy some of the rumours that are running rampant through this base. I am aware that since the general’s visit some of you have heard that the long term aims of the program have been scrapped and there are no plans to go to Atlantis. I have also heard that some of you believe that the increased military contingent is in anticipation of this base being closed. Some of the rumours seem to revolve around an empath being imbedded inside our number to eliminate a threat from the Trust. I will address these and some others later.” Elizabeth Weir looked at the room in front of her. Battered brushed steel chairs a far cry from the ambassador’s lounge in Somalia or the fancily decorated rooms with large ornate tables all over the world. Rooms in which she had negotiated world changing policies and treaties, protection laws and equality acts that had literally torn some countries apart. Laws that hadn’t been passed in America.

“First however I would like to announce that we have formally been given the go ahead to use the Stargate and therefore the ZPM to get to Atlantis. No, before anyone asks, I don’t have a timeline for us leaving yet. I do however feel that it is necessary for us to conclude our research here before we leave. The more we know the safer we will hopefully be.”

God, please don’t let me get these people killed.

“Secondly, yes we do have a new gene carrier. Please play nicely Rodney and share his time with others. He is American military so let’s all remember that there are already demands on his time.”

And the brainwashing that means he will obey any order, the abuse he probably suffered as a child at the hands of the government and then later at the hands of his fellow soldiers.

“This base will be remaining open until the research is completed and as far as I have been informed it will continue to stay open in our absence so that they can continue if we… never return.” Elizabeth stumbled over the words and paused.

The words ‘never return’ hung in the air a solid reminder of the fact she had chosen each and every person sat in this room not only for their brilliance but for their loneliness, their isolation, and their lack of family. She had chosen those that could disappear without more than a mutter from a scattering of people.

These people can disappear, go to another galaxy and die. Some of the greatest minds in the world and all that would be said is ‘remember that guy? A brilliant thinker but he always looked like he could go off the wall at any moment. He must have lost it, stopped working. Real shame I always thought he would change the face of science.’ And then they will move on.

Elizabeth looked at her notes and somehow the trivialities of changing the research rota or beginning to establish a rotating series of shifts seemed stupid. They were unimportant; they could wait or be delivered by department heads. She had nothing left to say.

Elizabeth put down her notes and dismissed the crowed in the room, she let people with questions wait closing her eyes and breathing for a moment. After a few minutes and a dozen questions they were gone. Well most of them, John, McKay and Beckett were still hovering. As she walked past McKay tried to grab her but she ignored him.

He’ll only want more reassurance no one is going to take his new toy away and surprise! No one in the military cares, as long they know he can’t escape.

Only Carson saw John flinch.


When they finally left Rodney to rant alone Carson hustled John back in to the cell like room and left him there

“Unwind laddie.” He ordered

After a few hours Elizabeth came to see him. She stood in the doorway for a few moments before stepping in and shutting the door. She grabbed a chair and retreated back with it until she had her back against the door.

“You’ll excuse me if I keep my distance. I have this feeling that we wouldn’t mix well” she explained quietly.

“Of course, Ma’am”

“I have a problem. Where do I put you?” Elizabeth looked at him expectantly for a moment “The last thing I expected was to be literally given a person. I can’t stick you in barracks with the marines.”

“You could if you wanted to.” As John speaks Elizabeth just looked at him sadly then shook her head,

“If I wanted you dead! Unfortunately I am out off space and it has been made rather clear that I can’t send you back to McMurdo to wait for us to need you. Fortunately Doctors Beckett and McKay have volunteered to have you bunk with them.” She smiles stands and moving the chair out of the way leaves the room saying “don’t let Rodney keep you awake all night testing devices.”

In some ways life returned to normal in the days and weeks following. John was officially reposted and his paper work changed to simply say ‘Passed in to the care of Elizabeth Weir’. His uniforms and downtime clothing were sent on with the copy of ‘War and Peace’ from the McMurdo ready room stuffed in to the top of the box, a piece of paper in it saying “Keep off my base. Lt Col Jenson”. This final command of his ex-CO proved rather difficult to follow as his time was divided up between turning artefacts on and off and flying equipment back and forth.

John spent the majority of his time being ordered by Rodney to switch things of or sit in the Chair. The whole experience was bizarre with repeated orders to “think about…” or “ask if the system can…” The marines on base gave John a wide berth and were clearly more scared of Rodney and Carson than expected. Slowly John relaxed something about this group of people telling him that he was safe. Rodney took one look at his dull grey off duty clothes and copy of ‘War and Peace’ and went marching off muttering about his sister. Nearly a week later John brought a small crate labelled ‘Meredith Rodney McKay’ back from McMurdo,

“You open it, the coffee’s mine the rest is for you. Have fun”

“Rodney, you can’t just…”

“Busy. Working. Go away, go bother the witchdoctor for a bit.” Rodney said pushing him out of the lab carefully and shutting the door firmly. John stood in the corridor for a few moments staring worriedly at the crate in his arms.

Carson walked in to his shared room and collapsed face first in to the nearest bed without looking around. After a few seconds he registered the skin deep hum that he innately knew was John. Slowly he peeled his face off the pillow rolled over to look at the man. John was staring at a small crate on the floor like he expected it to explode.

“Mail from your family?” he asked softly, John looked up and shook his head.

“It’s for Rodney.” They both looked at the crate for a bit in silence, John eventually added. “My brother is dead. I’m not allowed to get mail.” The hum off John got stronger as he lent forwards.

Carson pulled himself up and walked round the crate to sit next to John.

“Are you injured?” he eventually asked. Without taking his eyes off the box John shook his head. “Ill?” another shake. Carson looked at the roof for a moment then reached out and touched John’s bare fingers. As always his mind was filled with every tiny ache and pain John had, every piece of information needed to treat him, every allergy and past ailment laid out for him but at the forefront was the racing heart of someone quietly panicking. It was underlined with deep shoulder pain. Carson moved his hand away and filed away the shoulder pain to deal with later.

“So, what’s got you all worked up then?”

“The parcel, Rodney told me to open it but I can’t” Carson looked at him, and realised that John clearly expected this to be a trap.

“Well if he told you to open it no one can tell you off for it.” John drew away slightly and shook his head. Carson reached forward and undid the clip holding the crate shut and pushed the lid back. As the lid hit the floor John’s back hit the corner of the room. Ignoring the flash of increased pain from John’s shoulder Carson lent in to the box and pulled out an industrial sized tin of coffee and threw it on to Rodney’s bed. Then he pulled out a clear plastic bag filled with tee shirts.

“Too small for Rodney.” He opened the packet and pulled one out, unfolding it he walked over to John and without touching measured it against him. “Good fit for you though.”

He dumped the pack of shirts next to him and reached back in pulled out a pair of jeans. Sticking them on his knee he looked back in the case and laughing said

“The rest of this is books”

John slowly edged out of the corner and picked up the soft black tee shirt Carson had looked at and sat in the space it left.

“Try these on” Carson commanded throwing the jeans in to John’s lap. John looked at him wide eye and started to shake his head again “What you can only wear grey or uniforms now!”

“No, but…”

“Just put them on.” Carson sighed “promise I won’t look” John frowned at him confusedly and started to undress, Carson smiled looking away.

John never got mail again but every now and again clothes or books would turn up on his pillow.

Nearly 9 weeks passed in this almost familiar but oddly different fashion. The trio grew closer, Carson and Rodney seeming almost determined to ignore that John was something lesser. But John was careful to remind himself that soon he would be passed on to his next assignment, when someone else needed him more.

In week 9 something changed and no one had bothered to let John know what that was. Everyone was in a rush. The base was being packed up but John didn’t flying any of it out. He tried to help pack up but Rodney kept telling John to get out of the way just repeating,

“Busy, go talk to voodoo man” Every time he asked Carson what was happening the man would smile tiredly and tell him that the expedition was leaving. He’d send him off to

“Go get some rest” with an ominous “you’ll need it.” John packed his uniforms and clothes up carefully wrapping his favourite tee shirt inside one of the grey ones. The other clothes he had been given he packed in to the crate with the books Rodney kept lending him.

I guess he’ll find something to do with them. I can’t take them with me.

Carson only returned to the room to pack his things before telling John to take care of himself and leaving.

After 3 days the compound seemed empty with all the fragile equipment and research samples packaged away with care and moved box by box out of the base. With all his equipment gone Rodney carried on with his research of the Chair’s capabilities going back to ordering John to think of this or try that.

By day 9 people started leaving; Rodney hung on to the last minute so he could do as much work as possible with the Chair and John, but by day 12 he had to leave taking his belongings and the crate with him.

After 2 days in the empty base with just the marines for company John found himself sat in the back of a truck with 3 guards. Back on American soil. Hell knows where or why but it was cold, warmer than McMurdo but cold all the same.

“Where we going” John asked 2 days in to the travelling. The 3 guards looked at him and remembering himself John apologised and let his head drop forwards.

Eventually the truck stopped and another guard climbed in he quickly checked the bags and searched everyone before ordering John to strip to his boxers. Seemingly satisfied he jumped out and shouted. A gate opened and they began to move. One of the guards chucked Johns uniform back to him.

“Get dressed before you touch someone.”

Eventually the truck stopped and the guards crowed John through half a dozen check points, flashing cards and shouting orders until suddenly one shoved John in front of him in to a solid metal wall. He turned to see where he should be going only to catch one of the guards smiling as steel doors clunk shut and the world shrank to John alone in a box plummeting through the earth.

It took a full ten minutes to reach the bottom of the shaft. Ten minutes alone in a steel coated, lead-lined box. By time he was half way down John was reaching out mentally to find someone, anyone, a single string of emotion. By the bottom John was shaking with the need to connect. He felt like a drug addict in withdrawal.

Christ the people who designed this place didn’t have auto-empaths in mind, this is torturous.

John’s mind slipped back in time:

A young man, a teenager really, in a box filled with salt water. The water is cold and deep, every second breath was taken half under water. He can’t hear anything, except for his own breath but even that is dulled like the walls of the box are absorbing it. Every time he breathes the air gets thicker, heavier. His head is throbbing and with every throb, pulse, beat, stab of pain he reaches out. It’s like his mind is scrabbling against the walls of the box, clawing until the edges of his mind are bloody and raw. His air is getting thicker and his head is spinning. The salt is making his eyes sting. The water is filling his mouth; he has to pant through his nose. His legs ache so much that he can’t push himself up and out of the water. Time is meaningless he knows that it’s been more than 10 minutes but beyond that he doesn’t know it could have been hours. His head drops fully below the water and he tries to fling himself up. His body protests but he rises slightly coughing. Gasping a breath. His mind shoves against the walls and the boy screams. His head is under the water and he can’t push up any more. Water fills his lungs as the scream ends his mind falters and goes quiet and he finally sinks through the water.

A bell dings and John jerks, head slamming in to the wall behind him. He breathes heavily leaning against the wall as the doors start to open. Head spinning slightly and shakes abating, John slides his hand along the wall and steps out he feels McKay’s mind seconds before the man’s voice fills the air. He closes his eyes, breathes deep and Reaches.

When he opens his eyes Rodney was staring at him an odd look on his face.

“You don’t have delayed brain damage do you? Or did you hit your head on the way here! I knew I should have travelled with you.”

John reached out a hand and touched Rodney’s hand for a second before sighing.

He’s real

Rodney raised an eyebrow, shook his head and walked away calling for John to follow him. They walked down a long twisting corridor towards a roar of voices and machines working. Everyone felt excited, scares, anxious. John consciously built an extra wall inside his mind preparing to be in the middle of it all, he had no idea what’s going on or why he’s here but by the feel of everyone it was important and stressful.

“Look I have to go plug a battery in to the power circuit, carry on down this hall until you end up in the big room.” With that Rodney turned off and walked down a different corridor leaving John alone. John looked after him for a few moments before a familiar blend of languages and voices reached his ears. John carried on round the next corner and started to see some of the scientists from the Antarctic base some of them arguing, most of them bitching. A young, black marine stood next to two of the arguing scientists, looking between them “I don’t under … “ he looked around “Does anyone else here speak whatever language these guys are speaking?” John stops automatically, and listens closely for a moment before asking a question in broken Czech. He nodded at the reply and turning back to the marine told him,

“Doctor Nieves wants to add more equipment to this box. Doctor Zelenka wants him to add more packaging and get another box for the rest, he’s worried that if it gets dropped or thrown it will be destroyed. Its medical equipment so they need it.” He looked at the marine adding “Sir.” The kid nodded at him and began to shout at the two men to finish up and go.

John carried on down the hall until he came to a large metal bunker door. He heard Doctor Beckett and walking faster headed through the doors towards him. Beckett was calmly checking and packing equipment, measuring the temperature of his samples. Bates standing next to him. When John saw him he stopped a few feet back.

“I just need a couple of minutes to finish my work, and you’re not helping by standing there.”
“You got five minutes to get it going or I’m leaving it.” As Bates spoke John felt Carson’s annoyance rise. John felt someone looking at him, the hairs on his neck standing up slightly. Glancing round he spotted a tall colonel walking down a ramp towards them.

“Look, Bates, help or go away. I don’t care which.” Beckett snapped

“Everything in here has been double checked and triple checked and cleared for takeoff. Leave it alone.” The colonel shouted over the growing noise as he closed in on them.
“Look, Colonel, I don’t answer to you.” Beckett, who had turned his head to look to the colonel, went back to his work.
The colonel looks at Bates who shrugs and mutters “He said the same to me, sir.”
“That’s what your sidearm is for.” With that the colonel turned and stared at John coldly for a moment before stalking back up the ramp.

“Hello, again Sheppard” Bates smiled cruelly at John before following the colonel. John heard him telling the colonel something about John. Hearing John’s name Carson turned,

“John! Here help me with this” Carson said reaching up and grabbing a spare temperature probe before shoving it at John.

“Sure. Tell me one thing though” Carson looked at him expectantly “what the hell is that.” John gestured at the large metal ring stood at the end of the ramp.

Meanwhile in the control room.

Doctor Weir stood watching all the activity down in the Gateroom, Daniel walked in with female scientist,

“Each chevron tells our Gate to look for a point of space outside our galaxy, so we won’t know until it locks.”
O’Neill walked down from the briefing room above and clapping his hands together he came to a halt next to Weir

“We there yet?” He asks
“Just waiting on Rodney.”
The two of them stand there watching the chaos below for a while.

“It’s going to be hard you know. No one would blame you if you pulled out, they never expected you to get this far.” Jack eventually says,

“I found these people; I got them to work together. This is my expedition and I’m not letting it fall in to the hands of the American military.” Elizabeth turned to him and despite her calm tone of voice Jack takes half a step back.

“I know, they’re your team, can’t let them go without you, right?” at Elizabeth’s nod he smiled “I had to ask, couldn’t have you feeling like you had no choice.”
Elizabeth shook her head and turns back to the gate room.

“You live to irritate me don’t you?”

“Kinda my job, you being a defector and all” Jack ruined his serious tone by laughing slightly as he meet Elizabeth’s eyes.

Moments later Rodney came racing in,

“It’s done. You should have seen it, hell you should have felt it!”

He stands there with a man called Siler quickly connecting leads to a blocky device with a hole in the centre.

”Should work now.” Siler says standing and walking to the wall.
“OK, Sergeant, give it a try. The ZedP.M. should light up when it senses the conductive connection to the Gate.” Rodney replies picking up the ZPM and feeling it thrum through his body.  The device feels excited, like it knows how important this is, but Rodney thinks he might be projecting.
He inserts the ZPM into the device, and then points to Siler. Siler throws a switch and the ZPM lights up. McKay smiles in delight as the whole thing hums and throbs with power that rolls through him rough and powerful.
“Oh yeah!”


Better than sex he thought.
“Rodney! Let’s go.” Elizabeth shouted as she quickly headed for the door down to the gate room.

Rodney grabbed a tool bag from the floor and followed her down.

Daniel patted the scientist he had been talking to on the shoulder before standing and walking to where Jack was stood.

“Goodbye, Miko.” He said pointedly. Miko paled and bolted after Rodney.

Elizabeth gently wove her way through the crowd of people in the gate room, picking her way over equipment and patting shoulders as she passed until she reached the end of the ramp. She walked to half way up before turning and calling out.
“Could I have everyone’s attention please?” one of the marines at the end of the ramp handed her a small backpack which she quickly threw on before continuing.
“Alright, here we go. We are about to try to make a connection. We have been unable to predict exactly how much power this is going take or how charged the ZPM is. We may only get the one chance at this, so if we are able to achieve a stable wormhole, we’re not going risk shutting the Gate down. We’ll send in the M.A.L.P robot probe, check for viability and go. Everything in one shot.” She paused took a few breaths and getting a feel for the room said “Now, everyone… sorry nearly all of you volunteered for this mission and you represent over a dozen countries. You are the world’s best and brightest; and in light of the adventure we are about to embark on, you are also the bravest. I hope we all return one day having discovered a whole new realm for humanity to explore, but as all of you know, we may never be able to return home.” She stops, waiting for that to sink in a little before continuing “I’d like to offer you all one last chance to withdraw your participation.”

Some of the expedition members looked around at each other, but nobody moved. Weir smiled, glanced at Rodney stood halfway into the room, he’d clearly stopped dead to listen to her. Miko stood right behind him one hand resting on the doorway. She looked over at Carson and saw John stood next to him holding some piece of technical equipment Carson’s hand resting on his arm. Eventually she looked up to the Control Room.

“Begin the dialling sequence.”
An alarm began to sound, the ring span and she walked down the ramp and over to John. On her way over she picked up a backpack far larger than her own.

“John, I collected some things for you.” He looked at her confused “I…I realised that I used to know your brother. Before” Before it all went to hell, before he died, before I defected. “His widow let me gather some photos, books he liked reading, things like that.” John continued to look at her with a small frown. “I thought it would be nice for you to have some personal belongings like everyone else, that’s all.” She held the backpack out and Carson took it with a sad smile.

“Thanks.” John said quietly as she turned to leave.

He sounds like he has no idea why anyone would do something like this.

“John, he….” she turned back to say something but seeing John’s face she stopped “…never mind”

Carson held the bag out and John slid it on and spotting one of the marines waving him over walked towards the military contingent. When he reached them he pulled a pair of thick but well worn gloves on. The marine handed him a small hand gun and thigh holster and, with a careful look at his Card, a rifle. John moved away to attach them to his tack vest and the colonel walked over to stand in front to him.

“Let me make myself clear, Major …”
“Chevron one encoded.” The dialling technician called.
“… You are not here by my choice.”

“ I don’t intend to get to know you. I don’t intend to like you. Just remember who’s giving the orders. “The colonel started to walk away.
“Chevron two encoded.”
“That would be Doctor Weir, right?” Rodney said from behind John, making him jump.

Sumner turned staring at John like Rodney speaking was his fault. A couple of marines clipped the colonel’s backpack on. Sheppard lowered his eyes.
“Chevron three encoded.”
Sheppard kept his head up but his eyes lowered for a moment but Sumner glared at him. Finally Sheppard ducked his head.
“Chevron four encoded.”

Control room.

Weir walked in and went to stand with Jack and Daniel.
“Nice speech.” Jack muttered
“Thank you.”
“Chevron five encoded.”
As she looked down in to the gate room she saw McKay beginning to head back up to them. She watched him walk through the crowd quickly ordering them out of his way and stopping to correct scientists in their repacking efforts.

“Chevron six encoded.”
“ This is it!” she exclaims as McKay calmly came to stand next to her “Guess I’ve got to calm down. How embarrassing.”
“Chevron seven encoded.”
“ I’ve never been so excited in my entire life.” McKay said deadpan. O’Neill lent back and looked at McKay around Elizabeth’s back, raising one eyebrow and smirking.
“Chevron eight is locked.” The chevrons on the gate all clunked down as a horizontal tornado shot out of the centre before settling back down quickly to what looked like a pool of rippling water suspended flat in the ring.

The scientists in the Gateroom below cheer and clap while the military drew themselves up ready to attack. O’Neill looked at Daniel and grinned as Elizabeth quickly told the technician to send the M.A.L.P. through the gate.

The technician typed something on the computer before pushing over to a different console. A clunky vehicle sat on the ramp began to roll up to the gate and seconds later rolled through. As it disappeared the screens in the control room showed a “NO SIGNAL” alert. Elizabeth held her breath until there was a beep.
“We have M.A.L.P. telemetry.”
As Elizabeth looked up at a screen above her head, McKay sat down and looked at another screen.

“What is it we’re looking at?” Elizabeth asked squinting at the murky picture.
“Switching to zero lux.” The tech said as he typed again.
“Radar indicates a large room.” Mackay said swinging towards her in his chair.
The screens flickered and swapped to zero lux to show some distant objects a large
“It’s structurally intact?” Daniel said walking towards Rodney looking intently at the screen
“Sensors say there’s oxygen, no measurable toxins. We have viable life support.” He stood up “Looks like we’re not getting out of this.” He hurried out of the control room and just before he appeared in the gate room Elizabeth turned to Jack smiling nervously.

“Guess he’s right,” she gestured over her shoulder “guess I should…”
Jack smiled as she spoke and cut her of with “Doctor Weir, you have a go.”
“Thank you. Sir.” Elizabeth turned, took a deep breath and walked toward the door, heart racing in her chest and her breath catching in her throat.

Colonel Sumner looked out at the rag tag group of scientists and military in front of him. He scooped his gun higher up his chest, turned his back to the hastily packing scientists and addressed the military “Let’s go, people. We don’t know how much time we’ve got.” He started to walk up the ramp, followed by some marines. “Security teams one and two, you’re up first. All other personnel will follow on our signal. Once on the other side, keep moving, clear the debarkation area” just in front of the gate he paused and turned back. He saw Weir trying to push through the crowd and hitting a solid wall of marine. “On my lead.” With that he turned and heart beating hard in his chest he swallowed down the anticipation of his first gate trip. He stepped through the event horizon in one solid step.


“Colonel James Gregory Sumner was a brave solider. He never faltered in the face of fire, never faltered from his beliefs, never asked anything of his men that he wouldn’t do alongside them and put his life on the line for his country many times. This mission will not be the same without him. And with his death comes the belief that we must continue our attempts to reach Atlantis. I only wish I could tell his loved ones what he was part of.”
She sees him step in to the gate. She is pushing against the men in front telling them to let her through. She wants to go through with him. Her mission, her people, her right! Damn him for thinking he could use this as a way to belittle mutants once more, she would show him that they could be as brave and strong as his best men.
“When James turned up in Afghanistan he changed us, our last CO was an idiot but James was a perfectionist. He demanded the best and if you didn’t come up to scratch you were gone. He was my superior and my friend. He was always three steps ahead of the enemy. He was devastated when his wife died but he would be glad, now, that she didn’t live to see him dead. He fought to get on this mission, wanted to see the lost city you see…”
James is about three paces ahead of me, I step up to the gate as he disappears. My vest feels loose so I stop, twisting to tighten it. I look down for half a second and there is this ripping noise before the room goes dark.
“When Bates, over there, told me about this place I thought he had finally lost it. With all respect sir” he twists laughing towards the drunk officer “ So there I am stood in the CO’s office waiting to hear what the real mission is and in walks the legend himself ‘So, son, you know why we’re here so let’s not waste time OK.’ And that’s it, walks out of the room, all he says to me is that. And Bates? Bates stands there in the corner smirking like a little bitch. Next thing I’m shipped home and stood inside the SGC waiting for someone to tell me it’s all a joke. Guy was fucking succinct right? Never repeated anything, didn’t care if I believed Bates or not. You had to respect the guy”
Bates stops, right in front of the gate, turns slightly fiddling holding his side. I can’t tell what the fuck he’s doing so I signal to the guys behind me and start to head up the ramp. The Colonel’s gone now and anything could be on the other side so I hurry the guys along.
There is no warning… not really, just one flicker and a ripping noise.
“…razy, I mean why do we all have to come to this! Shouldn’t a funeral be voluntary‽ There is something very wrong with forcing people to attend a funeral. In fact I’m pretty sure that it’s against one of those moral rules, those…those things that religious nuts are always ranting about. It’s all stupid. Is this meant to encourage team unity? Surely it would be easier to just do one of those team building trips where everyone shoots at each other. Not that I would do that, my brain is far too valuable to risk damaging in some supposed game. No, instead they lock us all in this room with a bunch of neanderthal like marines and ply us with alcohol. I didn’t even know him, beyond the odd meeting.
The gate just shuts. There is no reason. Just a flicker and then gone. Full, inexplicable, failure. Half the room is staring blankly at the space that used to contain a man and the other half staring at me. I have no explanation, no scientific reasoning to give. The ZPM was nearly empty but it had enough power for this. I know it. I felt it.
“Da! He looks at me like a beached whale and goes “look doctor I don’t care if your degrees are from MIT or Cheristdo high school. Make it work and make it work yesterday!” so I try to explain again why it will not work and he just walks away. It is bizarre to think that he will not be there to shout about this.”
Rodney is shouting at Siler while I test the ZPM. Apparently ‘it got really bright all of a sudden then went off’ isn’t a good enough explanation of why something stops working. I walk to the computer and look up the power distribution logs. There! The gate opens and the MALP arrives. All fine. We carry out the checks. All fine. Sumner starts to step through the gate. A huge surge of energy coming through the gate, which is just wrong, and then it is over.
“Enough to drain the ZPM in one huge zap. Nothing that could have been predicted. No one was to blame and no one can really know what happened. The geeks really do think he’s dead though, the gate shut down so suddenly, so quickly, that they suspect that he never came out the other side.”
All my years working here and stupid shit like this manages to surprise me. Everything was going too well, too smoothly. Jeez, I kinda hope he’s dead I don’t want to be responsible for another Ernest situation.

“For the time being it has been decided that none essential members of the expedition will be reassigned. Consider yourselves on-call when… if this mission becomes viable again you will be recalled. Please see your department heads for more detailed instructions.” Elizabeth looked at the group in front of her, once again sat in battered chairs in another underground cave. Everyone still looked shell shocked, the memorial held quickly, a mere day after the incident, and this so called debrief a day after that. Someone in the IOA had decided that money could be saved and the annoyance of failure ignored if everything was rushed to a close.
“The following people and their current research have been deemed mission essential – Doctor Beckett, Doctor Biro, Doctor Sulaiman El-Amin, Taahira El-Amin, Doctor Grodin, Doctor Kusanagi, Doctor McKay, Doctor Parrish, Jessica Reynard and Doctor Zelenka. All gene carriers not on that list will be remaining to assist Doctors McKay and Beckett with their research.”  She quickly thanked them all for their time and dedication then watched as her carefully assembled team broke apart.
No one spoke and no one stopped as they filed out.

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