Title: Janus’ Gift (excerpt)
With our very creation of the wraith we had cursed the last hold outs of our primeval, feral history to become nothing more than a crazed version of our ancient forbearers. As the Wraith spread like a virulent disease that we could not control we though that we could use the Gifted to contain them, true warriors to fight in ways we had long lost in our strives to become a true race of pure intellect. All we did was worsen the situation. We have cursed our children, our children’s children and all; those who may follow to a life of cursed madness as they forever try to seek out and destroy the evil we left in Pegasus. – Janus
“You are so far past the line of a reasonable response that you are bordering on out of control, Sentinel. Your past CO’s might have been willing to let you speak your mind and offer your ‘Gifted’ opinion but in my company, you wait until I ask for it.” Sumner growled, resting his hands on the conference table so he could push to standing. He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders as he waited for the man across from him to give him an excuse to take him down like the rabid creature he was. As he planted himself firmly in place he resisted the urge to check whether the rest of the senior staff had noticed the budding argument.
“This city could hold the key to finally curing the madness and you want to just give up on her and run? The whole point of this mission was to look for the cure Janus promised and you want to leave before we can even find out if this was the fucking city he was talking about, sir.” The Sentinel broke eye contact as he spat the final word with an impressive amount of venom. Sumner dropped his hand to his sidearm, ready to take action as soon as it was beyond a doubt that the madness had finally taken control of the Sentinel.
“Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Lieutenant Colonel? I have to say that your file had me thinking that we would only find out that you objected to my orders when you headed out on a mission and then came back with a dead team. ”He took a breath and pushed past the urge to stop winding the sentinel up. “You might have kept your rank thanks to your friends in the Church but there isn’t a damn thing they can do to make that anything more than honorary.”
Sumner watched as the Sentinel’s eyes flickered to Elizabeth, the Priestess who claimed to be the leader of the Expedition, before slowly stepping forwards and carefully turning his body to block his response from the rest of the room.
“I have no friends in the Church, they’ve never served the interests of the Gifted and I don’t intend to start letting them take credit for my thoughts and actions. I kept my rank because I follow my orders to the word and when that meant sacrificing my team, and nearly myself, I didn’t even hesitate. You might have ended up out here because you don’t care if you live or die but I’m here because I always complete my mission.” By the end of his little speech Sheppard’s tone was settled and firm, Sumner almost admired the man’s restraint when he looked into his eyes calmly and added, “Our primary mission objective is to find this cure that the church claim Janus promised us, my orders are to ensure that happens.” His voice just loud enough to cut through the chatter in the room.
“We’re in another galaxy, Sheppard, I don’t have time to deal with a soldier who is going to question every order I give him. Either follow my orders or I will get you out of my way.” Sumner hissed, lowering his voice as he realised the rest of the room had fallen silent behind them. “Believe me, I have no intention of abandoning our mission entirely but if we all end up drowning, trapped on the seabed with no way of opening the Stargate to get home, no-one will ever have the chance to find whatever Janus left here.”
“I am so very glad to hear that you will be respecting the parameters set when the Church agreed to fund this mission, and I am sure that you will remember that any major decisions that need making will come through me.” The hair on the back of Sumner’s neck started to rise as Elizabeth spoke from just inches behind him, her voice low and soft.
“Dr Weir, as I am sure you will remember when the mission is in deadly or emergency situations leadership falls directly to the senior military officer. In this case, Colonel Sumner.” Sumner allowed himself a blink of surprise when Sheppard twisted to face Weir and stepped backwards out of her reach gracefully even as he smoothly swapped from arguing with him to enforcing his authority.
“That may well be the terms agreed but we are funding this mission and if I allow you to dictate when one of those situations is at hand then I suspect that it will become rather a permanent state of affairs.” Elizabeth smiled almost lovingly in Sheppard’s direction and Sumner resisted the urge to step between them as the man twitched a little further back like he wanted to escape from her. “However, in this case, I do agree with you but I still believe you should include me in your decisions. Also, it would serve you well to remember that threatening a Sentinel or Guide is a high crime within the church, Colonel.” Sumner met Elizabeth’s gaze firmly when she spoke to him, he held her gaze as he said, “Sheppard, this discussion is over, prepare teams to search for a suitable alpha site and pull the exploratory teams back to create a perimeter around the gate room.” As he heard Sheppard leave he added, “Thankfully, Dr Weir, the Stargate programme and the regulations agreed for this expedition are entirely secular. The Church of Janus may have funded this mission but that is the end of it, you have the right to practice your faith but not to force your doctrines and laws on the entire mission.” Elizabeth stepped closer to him, a shark-like smile on her face,
“Colonel, you may be used to being in control but you will remember that this is my expedition and I will not tolerate blatant disrespect or threats to the Gifted that Janus has placed under my care.”
“Look, Priestess, let’s agree one thing. The military are my concern and are under my care, if I find it necessary to threaten, disrespect or berate any of them, Gifted or not, then I will. You be as protective as you like of the civilians but I will manage my people like I always have. My job is to keep you from all getting killed and I can’t do that if you get in my way.” He glared at her until she lifted her chin to argue back, “Weir, either you want me to do my job or you want to control every aspect of this mission. Whichever it is, make a decision, just remember that if you want to control everything then at some point you are going to have to order someone to do something that violates one of your precious morals.” Before she could say anything to him, he stepped around her and stepped out onto the balcony that ran around the edge of the Gateroom. The door to the conference room sliding shut obligingly even as the draw of power that required made the lights flicker above his head.
He leant over the railing and watched as Sheppard spoke quietly to the Chief of Science, their heads tucked close together until Sheppard nodded and stepped back from McKay. Sumner frowned slightly when he noticed that as Sheppard stepped away, McKay caught his hand and squeezed for a second before letting him go.
Sumner pushed away from the railing as he heard Elizabeth’s voice coming up to the conference room door and began to head toward the collection of consoles that they had identified as gate controls. He started to move a little faster when he heard a thump against the door followed by a faint curse. He came to stand beside the technician who was fussing over the main gate controls.
“Can we dial out yet?” he asked the Canadian, who jumped slightly at the sound of his voice.
“Yes, sir, there appear to be a number of addresses that are pre-programmed into the dialling computer. I’m just trying to figure out which three sound like the best options based on the notes that the Ancients made on the planet.”
“Very good, carry on.” He nodded before looking around until he found the corner the Quartermaster had set herself up in. He headed down the stairs and started to walk towards her when she noticed him and jogged over to meet him.
“Sir, I’m having an issue securing enough space for both a temporary infirmary and temporary bunks to rotate shifts through. I thought I had found an appropriate area that could be split up with a wall of crates but the Lieutenant colonel pulled us back before we could fully secure the area.”
“Make a note of the area but for now prepare to evacuate.” He looked over at the three teams setting up in front of the gate, “Make sure they have everything they could need to assess a suitable site for a base.”
“Sir.” The Quartermaster replied with a nod before hurrying off, Sumner stood for a moment watching the teams and the Colonel with a frown. He watched as Sheppard checked in with each team member, checking that each of them knew exactly what they needed to do when they got to the plant. As much as he resented being forced to bring a time bomb with them, he had to admit the Sentinel seemed to have a way with the men.