- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Alternate Universe
- Science Fiction
- Time Travel
Major John Sheppard stood at the top of the stairs leading down the gate room, watching as the daily life of the City of Atlantis milled around him. It had been nearly eighteen months since the expedition walked into the unknown from Earth into the Pegasus Galaxy in this timeline. Almost a year since they had lost both the civilian and military leaders of the expedition to the actions of a rogue Goa’uld. A little less than nine months since they had managed to obtain a ZPM and attempted to dial Earth, only for it to fail to connect.
In that time, John had taken command of the expedition with a strong command structure under him, with his husband, Dr. Rodney McKay Chief Science Office and Dr. Carolyn Lam Chief Medical Officer as his seconds. His XO Captain Nathan O’Neill, General Jack O’Neill’s clone and Captain Evan Lorne rounded out the command structure. Dr. Camile Wray was removed from the diplomatic core, at her own request. She and her wife, Sharon, now worked on the Ancient database and were slowly translating what could be retrieved whole from the mess the Ancients had left behind.
John had given O’Neill a field promotion not long after the failed dial-out to Earth. He needed O’Neill’s experience and as much as he respected Lt. Aidan Ford, the kid was so inexperienced, John didn’t know how he was chosen for the expedition in the first place. Ford had been his only officer left in the previous timeline. The military command structure having been hacked to the bone by the IOA. In this timeline, Colonel Everett had insisted on a full complement of officers. It meant that Lt. Ford was the low man on the totem pole, but it also meant that John wasn’t scrambling to find competent members of the enlisted men to fill key positions.
“Unscheduled off-world activation,” Dr. Peter Grodin said over the PA system as the chevrons lit up in quick succession. The gate flared to life and the gate shield activated.
“Who’ve we got coming in?” John asked.
“It is AG-2’s IDC,” Grodin replied.
“Let them in,” John ordered. He had his M4 rifle at the ready as AG-2 came through the gate. They had gone with Dr. Lam and Dr. Beckett to the planet Hoff for a meeting with the medical conclave. It was supposed to be an exchange of pleasantries and nothing more, but Dr. Lam and Cpt. O’Neill were very obviously escorting Dr. Beckett, it was not lost on anyone in the gate room that O’Neill had his sidearm drawn.
“Report,” John barked.
“The expedition was compromised,” O’Neill said sharply after he saluted. “Dr. Beckett told one of the members of the Hoffan medical staff that we had access to Ancient technology.”
“I was trying to help-” Carson began.
“Quiet,” O’Neill ordered.
“Dr. Lam,” John turned to the doctor his face impassive. “Is what Cpt. O’Neill said true?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” Carolyn said. “He told their Chief of Medical Science that there was Ancient tech at his disposal that could speed up their search for a way to resist a wraith feeding.”
“Dr. Beckett,” John turned to him. “You violated off-world protocols that are intended to keep you and every member of this expedition safe. You will have a hearing tomorrow in which you will be allowed to defend yourself. Until then, you will be confined to your quarters.” He turned to the gate security team. “Sgt. Bates, escort Dr. Beckett to his quarters and post a guard. He will not be allowed more than one visitor at a time. Be sure to remove his radio. If he wants food, we’ll send a guard to get it.”
“Yes, sir,” Bates replied with a smart salute.
John waited until they were out of sight before turning to the rest of AG-2. “Dr. Lam, Cpt. O’Neill, in the conference room, now.”
He didn’t wait for a reply, he turned and lead them into the room. Dr. Rodney McKay was there typing away at one of the laptops, but looked up as the group entered.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Beckett,” John said. “On Hoff.”
“What did he do?” Rodney demanded, face going pale.
“It was my fault,” Dr. Lam said. “I knew he was eager to help with the research when they said they might have a way to combat the Wraith. I had no ideal he had been so indiscreet until Perna asked if there was a chance that we could bring Ancient technology to Hoff in order to speed up their research.”
“When Dr. Lam tried to explain that Beckett was exaggerating our access to Ancient tech,” O’Neill interjected. “Perna said it would be unfortunate for our trading agreement if we were unwilling to share our knowledge with them.”
“And that was when things started to get dicey,” Dr. Lam said. “So we grabbed Beckett and the rest of the gate team then headed back to the Alpha site.”
“Did they try to follow you?” John asked.
“We had an escort back to the gate,” O’Neill replied. “But no worse than any other time we’ve been there. We dialed to Athos first, then we went to the Alpha sight.”
“Good job,” John replied. “You handled the situation as well as expected.”
“We can’t expect Perna to stay quiet about this,” Dr. Lam said.
“She’ll inform her leaders,” O’Neill added. “And from there chances are that the Genii will hear about Dr. Beckett’s slip.”
“One more reason for them to hunt for us,” McKay sighed. “I’m really getting tired of their tactics.”
“You’re not the only one,” O’Neill replied. “I feel like I’m back in the Cold War. The Genii may have spies everywhere, but lucky for us, they aren’t exactly subtle.”
“The fact that they’re all starting to show signs of radiation exposure makes them easier to spot,” Rodney replied morosely. “All you have to do is walk around with a Geiger counter on any marginally large planet’s population and which ever random asshole in the crowd of happens to set it off is most likely the Genii spy.”
“The Genii have been trying to get their hands on members of the expedition since Sorra and Tyrus witnessed our weapons on Athos,” John sighed.
“They’ve gotten close a few times,” Rodney said. “But mostly it was out of curiosity. They might step up their efforts if they suspect any of us have the ATA gene, which a lot of us now have thanks to the gene therapy.”
“We’re getting side tracked,” John said. “Why would Beckett put us all at risk? He knows the rules for off-world contacts. No mention of Atlantis, no mentioning Ancient tech, and no talking about the Milky Way galaxy.”
“Unfortunately,” Dr. Lam began. “This may be a case of infatuation. I noticed Carson seemed quite taken by Perna on previous visit.”
“He put the entire expedition at risk because he wanted to impress the woman?” O’Neill said, shaking his head.
“I’ll be the first to admit to being concerned about letting Carson on a gate team,” Rodney said. “But he is a very good researcher.”
“With the ethics of a Wall Street hedge-fund manager,” O’Neill muttered.
“I know what I want to do here,” John said. “But I want your recommendations.”
“We’re going to make a descision now?” Rodney asked.
“No,” John said. “We’ll let him state his case in the morning. But I want recommendations for his punishment if he is unable to justify his actions.”
“Confine him to quarters for a week,” Dr. Lam suggested. “No access to any of his projects for two weeks and have him be supervised for a month.”
“I would send him to the mainland,” O’Neill said. “Having him confined to the city will give him access to the ATA systems. I’d rather not have him influencing the City while he is being punished.”
“Rodney?” John asked. “He’s your friend. What do you recommend?”
“Remove him from the gate team roster,” Rodney replied. “Permanently. Send him to the mainland for a week, then he returns to Atlantis, but he no longer is allowed to have his own lab. He has to be monitored for at least a month after he returns.”
“That is a little harsh,” Dr. Lam said, surprised.
“He put us all at risk because he liked to turn of a woman’s face,” Rodney said tiredly. “He needs a reminder that we are screwed if the Wraith or the Genii find out where we are from.”
John grimaced. “Alright, thank you for your recommendations. O’Neill, please inform Captain Lorne that I want the secondary auditorium set up for a pubic hearing.”
“John,” Rodney spoke. “You want this done in public?”
“Yes,” John said. “I want everyone to remember why we don’t simply tell out trading partners who we are. I hate to make an example of someone you consider a close friend, Rodney, but I can’t let this slide.”
“I’m not disagreeing with you. I know what is at stake here,” Rodney replied. “I won’t be able to defend him. Not this time.”
“What the hell were you thinking?” Rodney demanded as he entered Carson Beckett’s quarters.
“So you heard,” Carson replied. His shoulders slumped in defeat.
“Yes I heard,” Rodney replied, bitingly. “I’m the CSO of this expedition. Hell, I was in the conferense room when they frog-marched your ass back through the gate.”
“If we could help these people with their reseach, if we could find a way to keep the Wraith from feeding on humans,” Carson threw his hands in the air. “Why can’t we just tell people we’re here to help?”
“You know why,” Rodney gritted out.
“Nay, I don’t,” Carson replied. “You and Major Sheppard set rules for contact with the Pegasus natives that make no sence to me. We call ourselve the Tau’ri, we don’t tell anyone we’re living on Atlantis, and worst of all, you refuse to allow me to do any further genetic research on the Wraith. You were all eager for my work with the ATA gene.”
“Turning on dormant genetics on a willing subject is not the same thing as forcing a regression or mutation on an entire species,” Rodney replied. “And if that research that the Hoffans are focused on really worked? Do you have any idea what would happen to that planet if the Wraith discovered an entire population that they couldn’t feed on?” When Carson said nothing Rodney answered for him. “They would do the same thing that they do to any planet that shows even the slightest resistance. They would bomb them back to the stoneage, if they were lucky.” Carson paled. “Of worse, they would scorch the planet bare.”
“Why wouldn’t they just leave the population alone?” Carson demanded.
“Because they’re sadistic creatures that get off on the fear and pain of the people they feed on,” Rodney replied. “Ronon and his people are an example of the sufferning the Wraith inflict on anyone that opposes them. Teyla’s people tell of how their civiliation was whiped out in a single night. Is that what you want for the Hoffans?”
“Of course not!” Carson replied. “But this research is Perna’s grate hope of her people being free of the Wraith. How can we deny them assistance if we can?”
“You took an oath as a doctor, to do no harm,” Rodney said tightly. “Maybe you need to think about what that means.”
“I haven’t forgotten my oaths,” Cason denied. “But I would think that you and the Major are the ones that have questionable ethics.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Rodney demanded.
“We’re lying to everyone we meet,” Carson said. “When we should be telling everyone that the City of the Ancients isn’t lost like it once was. We should be a beacon of hope.”
“Hope can be a dangerous thing, Carson,” Rodney replied. “We aren’t ready to fight a war. We don’t have the manpower and without contact with Earth, we have no way to warn the rest of the Milky Way of the Wraith threat should they find out about where we’re from.”
“So you run around the Pegasus galaxy picking up broken pieces of a lost civilization in the hopes of finding the key to defeating a species that we could fix,” Carson accused. “If you would just give it a chance.”
“Not a chance in hell, Carson,” Rodney gritted out. “Dr. Lam already denied you petition a half a dozen times in the last year, with prejudice. Just drop it.”
“Why?” Carson pleaded. “You’ve supported my research for years. Why are you suddenly so against what I could accomplish here?”
“Because you want to play God,” Rodney replied. “I will not allow you to play Dr. Moreau with all of Pegasus as your island.”
“That’s not-” Carson stopped, his face turning ruddy with fury. “I think you need to leave, Rodney.”
“Carson,” Rodney swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
“I thought you were my friend.”
“I am,” Rodney replied, practically shouting. “I’m trying to protect you.”
“From what?” Carson demanded.
“Yourself,” Rodney replied.
“Get out,” Carson gritted out.
“Right.” Rodney swallowed and nodded. He turned and left without another word.
end part 1