- Explicit Sex
- Science Fiction
Caldwell landed the Daedalus on pier four which was closest landing location to the city’s primary storage facility. John spent most of the afternoon coordinating the removal of supplies from the ship. Some of the crates were large, and they’d had to get out several pieces of equipment to make moving them easier. As a result, he’d forbidden Sebastian from being out on the pier entirely. He’d gotten to watch the landing then McKay had taken him and Avery back to the central science tower to work.
Six hours after the landing, John was sitting the meeting room waiting for Caldwell and Weir to arrive. They’d spent the entire morning in her office and had lunch delivered. Rodney entered just ahead of Weir and Caldwell. He was wearing Avery.
“Why do you have Avery?”
“Sebastian is with Miko for programming lessons.” Rodney unstrapped the backpack and passed John the penguin situation. “I picked Avery up from hydroponics where he’d gone for lunch. I didn’t want to leave him in my lab unattended.”
John sighed and let Avery out of the backpack. The penguin slouched against his chest and chuffed a little like he was dejected. “Sorry, buddy. Why didn’t you just take him to Sebastian?”
“Miko is allergic to him,” McKay said as Caldwell and Weir entered the room. “She’s devastated because she adores him so she’s trying different medications to see if she can find one that will solve the problem.”
Caldwell raised an eyebrow at John as he sat. “Colonel.”
“Colonel,” John said neutrally.
“Cute penguin,” Caldwell said with a small grin.
“This is Avery, my son’s emotional support penguin,” John said, and he turned to Rodney. “When did we sign up for penguin sitting? Should I be trying to you know enforce responsibility and all that stuff?”
Rodney laughed. “Sebastian’s actually very responsible, and you know it. It’s not his fault Miko is allergic to alien penguins.”
John sighed and put Avery on the table. The penguin nooted and immediately waddled right to Elizabeth who picked him up with no hesitation. He focused on Caldwell.
“I’m was relieved to hear about your complete recovery, Colonel.”
Caldwell inclined his head. “This is where I offer an apology for whatever the snake might have done with my body in your presence.”
“He was kind of a dick,” Rodney put in. “But he’d been clearly prepared to play an Air Force officer because he never seemed off in that regard.”
“Agreed,” John admitted. “Very by the book. Perhaps, in retrospect, too rigid. Most men of your rank learn to leverage regulations to as needed to make things work, and he didn’t.”
Caldwell nodded. “I’ve heard similar from the men and women on the Daedalus.” He opened up the laptop he’d brought with him. “I’ve talked extensively with Elizabeth regarding Beckett’s wraith experiment. Unless we hear differently in the next data burst, the IOA has declined his proposal with prejudice. All research regarding the wraith, the retrovirus, and a so-called cure for the species is to be suspended indefinitely. I’ll pass all these directives to you now, Colonel Sheppard. O’Neill wanted me to deliver this message personally because he’s come to realize Beckett doesn’t recognize your authority on the city. If that doesn’t change, then he will be replaced. Further, I’m to distribute a clarification to every single person on the city—military and civilian—that when it comes to the use of military personnel on the city that you have the final say on every single action they take. No one, not even Elizabeth, can make changes to duty schedules, team assignments, or field procedures.”
“Do you have Beckett’s replacement already on hand?” John questioned. “Because he’s not going to respond well to being told no.”
“I do actually. I’ve brought a surgeon and a new CMO for the expedition. Per Elizabeth, Dr. Biro has no interest in running the infirmary for the whole city as it would interfere with her own research. We knew that going into the search as she was O’Neill’s first choice to replace Beckett.”
John nodded. Alyssa Biro had been part of the first expedition, so he was glad that the people on Earth appreciated the fact that she deserved to be considered first. “The new CMO?”
“Air Force doctor, ten years in with a rank of captain,” Caldwell murmured as he worked. “Dr. Chase Harris. We pulled him out of a combat posting in a classified location. He was apparently quite put out until he was fully briefed on the program. He immediately volunteered to come to Atlantis after finding out you were in charge of the military, Sheppard.”
“We’ve served together previously,” John admitted. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders—but he’s not a researcher.”
“That’s why he was chosen,” Caldwell said. “The city needs a CMO whose focus isn’t split by personal research and even more personal agendas. He also has the ATA gene, so you aren’t losing anything on that front in the infirmary. The new surgeon, Dr. Jennifer Keller, received the gene therapy with no issues. Word is she has a terrible bedside manner, but she’s an excellent surgeon. Keller has a masters in genetics so she can work in areas that Beckett did as needed. Harris already knows that wraith research is permanently off the table and will keep a tight rein on all research in his department.”
It all seemed too good to be true. The small chime on the conference room door dinged.
“That’s probably Sebastian. I told him to come get Avery after his lesson,” McKay said as he looked up from his tablet. “I didn’t want to have to carry him with me to the Jumper Bay since I have a maintenance rotation next.”
John prodded the door open after Elizabeth gave a brief nod. Sebastian peeked in. “Come on in.”
“Hi Colonel Caldwell, still snake free?”
John’s eyes went wide, but Caldwell burst out laughing.
“I am, thanks for asking,” Caldwell grinned. “Cute penguin.”
Sebastian smiled as he retrieved the backpack and Avery waddled to him from across the table. The penguin snuggled right into the pack without a complaint, and the kid strapped him in. “Thanks—can I bring him when I meet Hermiod or would that be risky? Dr. Kusanagi is allergic to him, so I wouldn’t want to make Hermiod sick.”
“The Asgard don’t appear to have any sort of allergies that we’ve been able to discover,” Caldwell said. “But I’ll ask him before your visit.” He pulled a USB drive from his pocket and slid it across the table. “General O’Neill sent you some eBooks.”
Sebastian snagged the drive. “Awesome, the new Percy Jackson book should be out. He said he would send it when published.” He tucked the drive in his pocket and shouldered Avery. “Daddy, I’m going back to hydroponics to see what we received in our allotment from Earth.”
“I’ll pick you up for dinner,” John said and just shook his head as Avery nooted his own goodbyes as they left the conference room. He prodded the doors shut.
“How’s instant fatherhood treating you?” Caldwell questioned.
“He’s gonna spend years in therapy complaining about me I’m sure,” John said wryly. “Is Hermiod okay with meeting him?”
“He’s thrilled to meet his first human child,” Caldwell said. “Well, actually the first child ever since they clone adults and haven’t made children themselves in millions of years.”
– – – –
John bitterly regretted the fact that he hadn’t taken a camera on board the Daedalus because Sebastian’s face when he finally got to meet an Asgard was the pure definition of gobsmacked. Hermiod had been thrilled to speak with him and had even petted Avery much to the amusement of everyone watching. Currently, the kid was in the shower muttering to himself about Roswell greys, conspiracies, and alien abductions. Though John could barely hear that over Avery’s excited nooting. The penguin absolutely loved the shower. Thankfully the stall was huge and entirely enclosed so there wouldn’t be a huge mess to clean up.
John put towels for both of them on the counter and meandered back into the living room where Rodney was sitting with a laptop. They were all preparing for what was probably going to be a very ugly meeting with Beckett first thing in the morning.
“Did you get a chance to meet the two doctors that Caldwell brought out?” John questioned.
“Yes, while you and Sebastian were hanging out with Hermiod in engineering,” Rodney murmured. “It’s like Ken and Barbie came to live on the city. She’s disturbingly cheerful and a good decade younger than I thought she would be. Turns out she’s a prodigy—we’re just overrun with disillusioned former child prodigies. Harris has a very outgoing personality, so I liked him the best of the two of them.” He paused. “Also, they presented me with ten pounds of Kona coffee, so I owe Daniel Jackson a thank-you email since he suggested it.”
“The Apollo has been assigned the construction mission for the Midway Station,” John said. “I got that from Caldwell in our private meeting. Apparently, Caldwell requested to that the Daedalus remain the supply ship for Atlantis because he needs some space from Earth and the whole Trust issue. He hasn’t beamed back down to Earth since he was put back in command.”
“I don’t blame him,” Rodney admitted. “I’ve told Carter for years that they need to do a better job of checking for symbiotes and not just on people coming and going through the gate. I hope this situation with Caldwell and the Trust ensures better procedures going forward. On our end, I’ve been tweaking the city censors. The next time a Goa’uld comes to Atlantis, we’ll know immediately.”
“Well, we can’t let those assholes near the kid,” Rodney pointed out reasonably. “Also, Elizabeth has signed off on Kavanagh’s removal from the city. He’s going back to Earth on the Daedalus, but Caldwell isn’t entirely thrilled considering the NDA violations. He’ll be confined to quarters on the ship. We’re having that meeting after we meet with Beckett.”
“So Steven gets both of our problem children,” John said wryly and sat down on the sofa. “He apologized to me for the DADT violation report the snake tried.”
“Good,” Rodney murmured and set aside his laptop. “The kid still bent about Roswell?”
“Infinitely,” John admitted with a laugh. “O’Neill will be very amused by the email he’s currently drafting.
“Sebastian doesn’t even know about the clone, yet,” Rodney said dryly.
“Well, he will because Nathan is scheduled to come out here in the next six months. He’s scheduled to graduate from Annapolis in May with a degree in combat engineering. O’Neill’s already plucked his nephew for assignment to Project Blue Book.”
“So weird,” Rodney admitted. “How do you feel about that?”
“Well, I’m actually pretty relieved because I need a lieutenant, but I wasn’t looking forward to some green newbie making a mess. Lt. O’Neill shouldn’t be a problem at all, and it keeps him out of the way of the Trust and the NID. Maybe I’ll have a difficult time adjusting to the eighteen-year-old version of my CO, but I’ll probably manage better than Landry who made it clear that it would be too weird for him.”
“Landry just doesn’t want either O’Neill in his business,” Rodney speculated. “How’d he manage Annapolis in just three years?”
“He lasted in high school for about a day,” John said. “Because he realized that while he might look fifteen, he had zero in common with those kids and felt like a pervert every time some little girl giggled at him. They considered the Air Force Academy briefly, but he decided to go in a different direction. One GED test later and a letter from POTUS and he was in Annapolis where he took classes year-round to graduate a year early. He’ll work on his masters as he can on the city.”
“I hadn’t really considered what it would be like to be surrounded by a bunch of fifteen-year-old kids at his mental age.”
John made a face. “I hated being a teenager the first time.” He slouched a little and leaned into McKay. “Brown was glaring at me when we were delivering supplies to botany.”
“She blames you for my dumping her,” Rodney said. “Not because she suspects we have a relationship or anything but because of the kid. She said I’m trying to play family with you. She said you shouldn’t encourage it.”
“She’s weird,” Sebastian announced as he came into the room clutching Avery in a fluffy yellow towel. “I mean not in an insulting way but…she’s just kind of odd.” He sat down on the opposite side of the coffee table in front of the TV so he could dry Avery. “And not odd like how some smart people are but more like…” He pursed his lips as Avery wiggled under the towel. “It’s not some kind of OCD issue, but it’s close. She likes things to go exactly her way, and when they don’t, she’s off-kilter. Fortunately, she’s not a psycho about it. Dr. Parrish thinks she’s going to request to go back to Earth because she asked him last week how’d feel about being made the head of the whole department.”
John raised an eyebrow at McKay. “Is that going to come back on you?”
“No, I mean.” He huffed. “Katie isn’t the sort to mix professional and personal issues. One of the reasons she agreed to go out with me is that she thought we were on the same page regarding kids. She likes them, but she can’t have them. She figured I was childfree and that I wouldn’t be disappointed in her inability to have them.” He glanced toward Sebastian. “This isn’t your fault.”
“I know,” Sebastian said simply. “I’m not interested in being her pseudo-kid, and I’m not responsible for how she feels about it. I’m sad she can’t have kids, but that’s not my problem. But I guess that explains why she was so put out with how much time you spent with us. Maybe you should suggest she go back to Earth and foster kids. There are tons of kids in foster care who’d love to have a good home. She’s made a lot of money in the program. She could buy some land, grow things, and foster kids.”
John stared at him. “Were you worried about going into foster care?”
“No,” Sebastian said. “Mr. Blake promised me that if you didn’t…want me that I could stay with him and that he’d take care of me until I was a grown up. General O’Neill said the same. It’s just not every kid is as lucky as I am.” He released Avery. The penguin waddled around and shook himself repeatedly. “Don’t act put out—you know you have to get dried off if you get wet. You can’t sleep in the bed if you’re wet.”
Avery nooted at him and waddled off toward the balcony.
With a snort, John stood and crossed the room to close the balcony doors before the animal could reach them. They hadn’t penguin-proofed the balcony as yet. He added it to his mental list and headed toward the kitchen to check the snack options.
– – – –
Two minutes into Beckett’s tirade, John sort of wished he’d come to the meeting armed. Rodney looked bored, and Elizabeth was making the appearance of appalled. Caldwell was, to John’s amusement, clearly baffled by the doctor’s increasingly difficult to understand accent.
Finally, Rodney set aside his tablet and slapped his hand on the table. “Enough.”
“Rodney, you know this research is important. It could save thousands of lives if we can treat the Wraith,” Beckett said in exasperation.
“Treat?” Rodney repeated. “You mean mutilate.”
“Treat,” Carson corrected. “I want to treat them.”
“You want to destroy them as a species and turn them into something you find pleasing,” Rodney said bluntly, and Beckett paled. “Your end goal is obviously some sort of plague-like contagion that will spread throughout their entire population. The only reason you can get away with not calling it genocide is that the current definition on earth only applies to humans.”
“The military wants to kill them all,” Beckett said hotly. “I want to fix them.”
“To suit yourself,” Rodney said. “And not a single one of them would thank you, Carson.”
“The peoples of Pegasus would!”
“The wraith that don’t mutate would consider you no better than Josef Mengele if they knew who he was.”
Carson glared. “Is that really what you think of me?”
“It’s the only comparison I can draw at this point,” Rodney said evenly. “Your fixation on this experiment coupled with your apparent inability to see all the things that could wrong with it frankly scares the shit out of me. I say this with great regret, Carson, but I no longer trust you to be the Chief Medical Officer for Atlantis.” He turned to Elizabeth. “It’s my recommendation that Dr. Carson Beckett be relieved of duty and returned to earth for reassignment within the SGC. His work should be heavily monitored by an ethic’s panel, and from this point forward he should be allowed no living test subjects of any kind. Not even mice.”
“You son of a bitch,” Beckett said in a low tone. “After all I’ve done for this city? For the expedition? You wouldn’t even have an ATA gene therapy if it weren’t for me.”
“Yes, well, thanks for experimenting on me in another galaxy because it was illegal to do it on Earth,” Rodney said sarcastically. “I don’t know where your ethics went, Carson, but I’m done worrying about whether or not you’re making orcs in your lab when I’m not fucking looking!” He stood up and grabbed his tablet. “I’m finished with this conversation. Elizabeth, call me when it’s time to fire the next reckless asshole on our list!”
John sucked air in between his teeth as McKay stormed out of the conference room. He focused on Beckett who was red-faced and breathing heavily. “Colonel Caldwell, I believe Dr. Beckett should be removed from the city immediately. I’ll have his personal effects collected both in his office and assigned quarters packed and transferred to the Daedalus.”
“What…” Beckett trailed off.
“I don’t trust you,” John said flatly. “And in case you missed it, Carson, McKay is mission essential around here, and you look like you want to kill him, so you’re done. I will not allow you to be a threat to the success of this mission.”
“I can cure the wraith.” Beckett’s chin hitched up. “Like I cured you.”
“If you’d done your job when I was first bitten by an Iratus the retrovirus would’ve had nothing in my body to latch onto, and I wouldn’t have turned into…whatever the hell I was!” John shouted and took a deep breath when Caldwell stood and shifted, so he was closer. “You had a nurse clean the wound, Carson. You never even bothered to check to see if it left anything behind! I’ve checked my records—reviewed every single blood test that was done before and after I was exposed to the retrovirus. The only thing you ever consistently checked was for changes to my ATA gene. That’s it. Hell, I don’t even have a proper record of my nutrient levels before or after the bug incident. I’m nothing more than an experiment to you. A half-assed experiment at that.
“I have to wonder if you’d have cured me at all if we were still out here alone with no contact with Earth,” he said quietly and watched the color drain from Beckett’s cheeks. “If we’d still be stranded out here with no resources no one would’ve ever been able to disagree with you about my condition. No one would’ve been able to prove you were lying about being able to remove most of the retrovirus from my body. It must have really pissed you off that you couldn’t keep me on hand—to study and explore. After all, whatever I turned into was probably pretty damn close to the what the wraith came from. Half-human and half-Iratus, with a little Ancient DNA tossed in the mix.”
“You owe me,” Beckett said evenly. “Because I did save you. What would your son have today if it weren’t for me?”
John glared at him. “I already paid you back what I owed you, Beckett.”
“How do you figure?”
“I didn’t fucking rip you limb from limb when I realized how much Iratus you left in me on purpose!”
Caldwell was suddenly in space, grabbing his arm. “Easy, Colonel.”
John took deep breaths as Caldwell manhandled him all the way to the back of the conference room and pressed him against a wall. “I…”
“Son, your eyes are solid black,” Caldwell murmured. “You need to calm down—if not for your own sake, for your son’s.”
John lowered his head but didn’t struggle against Caldwell’s hold as he listened to the man order that Beckett be beamed directly to the Daedalus. Carson’s protest was cut off abruptly. He closed his eyes and took another shuddery breath as he caught Weir’s perfume. Her small hand settled on his shoulder.
“Elizabeth, please don’t pet me.”
“Should I get Rodney?” Elizabeth questioned. “Or Teyla? Ronon is still confined to his quarters in recovery but…”
“No, I’m fine. I don’t want them to see me like this. It’s bad enough the two of you are…” He rubbed his chest. “Is my skin turning blue again?”
“No,” Elizabeth said gently. “Does it ever?”
“Not yet but I keep waiting for it. So far it’s just the eyes…and my instincts are ramped up pretty high. I’m a stronger, too. I haven’t reported any of it.”
“And I don’t blame you at all,” Caldwell said. “I’ll talk with O’Neill in person about the Beckett situation, and we’ll come up with the best solution we can to protect your privacy. In the meantime, it’s probably time you let another geneticist look at what’s been left in you to see if we can get it out.”
– – – –
“Seriously though, do you know the guys that landed in Roswell?”
Hermiod pursed his little lips. “One of them was a distant relative, but I don’t wish to discuss his incompetence.”
“I don’t blame you,” Sebastian said. “I’d be super embarrassed about the whole thing. I mean he exposed your species, gave Earth tech we obviously didn’t need, and maligned your race. Thousands of people all over the world have been making up stories about abductions…” He trailed off. “You guys haven’t been stealing humans to experiment on them, right?”
Hermiod’s face flushed dull grey. “Not all of us.”
“Oh my god,” Sebastian said and stared at the Asgard in horror. “Are you serious? Who? Are you guys still letting him do it?”
“His name was Loki, and we’ve confined him and his experiments to our homeworld after we discovered that he was…seeking a solution to our cloning problem amongst humans.”
“I’m appalled,” Sebastian said and shook his head. “Declassification of the Stargate Program is going to lead a class action lawsuit against your whole planet for emotional trauma and inappropriate anal probing.”
“Oh god,” Lindsey Novak said suddenly. “I can’t.” She waved a hand and walked off the bridge of the Daedalus laughing.
Sebastian huffed. “It’s not funny, Lt. Novak! There was inappropriate anal probing! This guy Loki owes a lot of people apologies!”
– – – –
Rodney strolled back into the conference laughing much to John’s confusion. He raised an eyebrow as McKay turned off his radio. “Your kid.”
“Oh, god, what’s he done?” John asked.
“Per Novak, he’s put the Asgard on notice regarding a pending class action lawsuit on behalf of alien abductees from Earth regarding the emotional trauma of inappropriate anal probing.”
Caldwell spit water all over the table.
“For the love of…” John stood up to get some napkins from the refreshment table. “Should I send someone to get him from the ship?”
“Oh, no, Hermiod invited him and said he would return him to where he got him when was no longer amused by the human child.”
John tossed napkins in several directions as Caldwell moped at his uniform with a sigh. “Is he still talking about Roswell?”
“Hermiod has confirmed that one of his relatives was there,” Caldwell said. “In the past, I mean. I don’t know what he’s told the kid. Though most of the conspiracy theorist got it wrong—the reason the government retracted that newspaper story and started calling it a weather balloon is because Thor came here and retrieved everyone and everything from the crash. O’Neill loves to tell that story when he’s torturing someone with fake fishing in his empty pond.”
“That pond is empty?” Elizabeth demanded with a frown. “We spent an hour out there fishing. That…” She huffed and crossed her arms just as Kavanagh entered the room. “Sit, Dr. Kavanagh.”
Kavanagh frowned at her but sat. “What’s this about?”
Elizabeth tossed a stapled stack of paper across the table, and it slid to a stop right in front of Kavanagh. “That’s a list of all the times I can verify that you’ve violated the SGC’s non-disclosure agreement since you returned to the city.”
He frowned. “What are you talking about?” He picked up the list and started to read. His cheeks flushed a dull red. “That kid shouldn’t even be in the labs! I shouldn’t have to censor myself doing my job because of Sheppard’s love child.”
“Turn the page,” Elizabeth said dryly.
Kavanagh flipped the page and paled as he started to read. “But…”
“It’s your job, Dr. Kavanagh, to know what level of security everyone around you has,” McKay said. “I send an email out on a monthly rotation reminding everyone of the operational security perimeters and listing everyone’s individual security clearances. I’d like to draw your attention specifically to an incident on page six of that document where you discussed the classified details regarding the Icarus Project in the mess hall, surrounded by junior scientists and enlisted Marines—none of which had been cleared to have those operational details.
“Congratulations, in your desire to impress a biologist with your so-called experience in the program, you violated national security and may have aided and abetted the Trust. We know, for a fact, that the Trust has infiltrated the SGC more than once which is exactly projects like Iratus are classified. You’re going back to Earth where you will face a peer-review regarding your behavior and the decision as to whether or not you’ll face criminal charges will be made at that time.”
“This is…” Peter’s nostrils flared. “Insane. No one pays that close attention on the city. All of you are probably guilty of violating these security protocols.”
“I take such things very seriously,” McKay said in a snotty tone. “But this isn’t about any of us, Peter, it’s about you. You’re done here and there’s nothing you can say or do that will change it. You have two hours to pack your things and report to the Daedalus. Your access to everything on the city has already been restricted, and there is a Marine outside the door waiting to escort you.”
“Fuck you,” Kavanagh snapped, snatched the list off the table and stormed out.
Rodney sat back in his chair and blew air between his lips. “I’m starving. I hope we have some kind of pasta for dinner.”
“Not upset about getting cursed at?” Caldwell questioned.
“Bah, I hear much worse every single day from people who actually like to work for me.” Rodney waved a hand and picked up his tablet.
Caldwell turned to John. “You should probably give some thought into letting the civilians tutor your son.”
John sighed. “I’m currently more worried about the fact that Ronon and Teyla have decided to teach him self-defense.”
Caldwell winced. “You’re in way over your head, Sheppard.”
“Yes, Colonel, I am.”