- Character Bashing
- Death-Minor Character
- Science Fiction
– – – –
McKay didn’t know what to do with himself. Sheppard’s personal interest was exciting, and it had been a while since he’d indulged in an actual relationship. Getting sex had never really been a problem, but anything more than that had always been kind of difficult for him—with both men and women. He forgot important dates, missed dates for work, and honestly, sometimes he preferred his work to people. In the past, it really hadn’t mattered if he were involved with a man or a woman. Eventually, his work got in the way.
It was kind of annoying, actually, that Sheppard was offering him something potentially great that Rodney would just screw up. He slouched down at his desk and stared at the emails dropping from the server into his inbox. There were ten from Weir, and the subject lines pissed him off enough that he didn’t even want to actually open them. Disgruntled, he set up several filters that hadn’t bothered to do. There was only one from John, and it wasn’t labeled a priority, but he read it first anyway.
It was a request for scientists willing to join gate teams. He’d already made that list, so he wrote out a response quickly, putting his own name at the top of the list. He’d worked at the SGC long enough to have qualified to carry a weapon, and while he’d rarely been off world, Rodney had more experience than most of the scientists on the mission. He put Weir’s emails off for last and answered them as quickly and shortly as possible. Most of the science on the city was over her head anyway, and that wasn’t arrogance speaking. She had a Ph.D. in political science and in no single way did that prepare to deal with the kind of hard, practical science most of the civilians on the city did.
Rodney shifted slightly in his chair and motioned Elizabeth Weir into the lab. She hit the manual button to shut the door, and he barely refrained from sighing. He could tell already he’s going to hate this conversation. She had a cup of tea in hand as she sat down across from his desk and offered him a smile that kind of looked sincere which was unnerving.
“I wanted to talk to you about moving the city as quickly as possible. The faster we can accomplish that and restore power the better. Also, I wanted to congratulate you on getting Sheppard to agree to the survey. He’s going to be difficult to work around until we can contact Earth and get rid of him.
“Get rid of him?” Rodney questioned. “Not unless they send O’Neill out here first—Sheppard’s gene is the reason most of the city is working. You’ve read that report, right? Practically every internal sensor on the city is focused on him. There are some systems we couldn’t even turn on without him. We can’t afford to be on the city without a very strong gene carrier and right now that gene carrier is Sheppard.”
“Rodney, we can’t allow that Revenant to stay on the city,” Elizabeth said in exasperation. “They’re not like the rest of us—they have no concept of loyalty, and I’ve never met a single one that wasn’t working toward the Triumvirate’s agenda. Revenants move from one host to another, absorbing knowledge and skills without a single care to the emotional wreckage they leave behind.”
“Anchor,” Rodney corrected. “Calling them a host implies that the Revenant feeds off life and we know for a fact that’s not the case.”
“So what if they don’t actually feed on the body they infest?” Elizabeth questioned in frustration. “They certainly leech off their host intellectually and emotionally. Is that any different? They’re a parasite.”
“We’re going to agree on this subject, you know,” Rodney pointed out. “I’m a scientist, and my perspective on Revenant is rooted in a huge amount of actual data that was gathered over hundreds of years by actual scientists who didn’t let religion or mythology or fear form their opinions. A Revenant is merely another human being on a different evolutionary path than the rest of us.”
“They’re corrupted souls who’ve been punished and forced to remain among the living for their sins,” Elizabeth said haughtily. “God is punishing them.”
“I’m an atheist, Dr. Weir,” Rodney pointed out. “And even if your god appeared before me right this minute, I wouldn’t worship him. Honestly, I’ve met plenty of beings who call themselves gods. Plenty being three and I didn’t drop to my knees to worship those assholes either. Religion offers me nothing, and I can’t foresee a circumstance where that would change.”
Weir’s face was white with shock, and any other time it would’ve been amusing. “Did you just compare God to a Goa’uld?”
“Not really, I mean I have proof the that Goa’uld exist.” He shrugged when her mouth dropped open. “And I’ve met an Asgard, so I guess there is some truth to Norse mythology as well, but I don’t really care, you see.”
“Rodney, you’ll go to hell,” Elizabeth said in shock. “Don’t you know that?”
“I don’t believe in hell either—unless you mean that planet that Sokar used for a prison and if I ever end up on that planet, I’m going to blow it up.” He smiled at the thought. “I promised Carter, you see, and that’s one woman you don’t want to cross. Granted, I don’t think I should be bound to keep a sex-promise, but that’s neither here nor there. Did you need something?”
“I need your help managing Sheppard,” Elizabeth snapped.
“He’s done nothing but his job since he left the isolation chamber, Dr. Weir. What exactly would you like him to do differently?”
“He’s…” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “He’s an abomination, Rodney, and I can’t stand to be around him. You are the highest ranking civilian after me…”
“Stop right there,” Rodney said. “I do not have time to do your job and mine, too. There are currently fifty-six experiments being set up in engineering alone. Between moving the city, preparing the hydroplant, and setting up the city battery core to store energy from the geothermal plant, I have the work of ten people to do already.”
Her cheeks flushed. “So you won’t act as a liaison?”
“When exactly would like me to sleep?” Rodney demanded. “I’m already working fourteen hours a day, Dr. Weir. We’re understaffed, and we haven’t even started off-world missions that my people will have to go on if we’re going to meet the mission requirements the IOA has set down for us. We’re supposed to be out here learning and securing Ancient technology for Earth. I don’t have time to cater to your prejudice, and frankly, I will not facilitate your intolerance. It’s disgusting. You really need to learn to keep your mouth shut about Revenants if you can’t even offer the pretense of tolerance.”
Weir stood and glared at him briefly before turning to leave.
“One thing,” Rodney called out just as she opened the door. Weir turned to stare at him. “If your God has a problem with Revenants, then why would he allow them to anchor to other humans? Why do they even exist on Earth? Why were they born? Why were they allowed to evolve as they have?”
“You’d never understand God’s will.”
“No, you’re right. I’ve never understood intolerance,” Rodney said evenly and turned back to his lap top. “Have a good day.”
– – – –
His ten-mile morning run was starting to be a solace. John normally managed to get a least four in before anyone joined him. He’d showered afterward and met Bates on the way to the mess where they’d gone over the agenda for the day. Ford was setting up gate teams, so John had used his tablet to send McKay an email regarding scientists. It had quickly become clear that neither Bates nor Ford were on board with John having his own team which honestly sucked but he understood their point of view. He wasn’t moving around the universe alone anymore, and he had a duty to Gaius to take care of himself.
He’d agreed that Bates would lead the first recon team and Ford would be on that team with him. The junior officer was much too green to run his own team and appeared to have reached that conclusion on his own as well because he’d not hesitated to put himself on Bates team when it was suggested.
John had set up camp in the back of the mess at a small table near the open balcony doors. His office didn’t have a window, and he wasn’t thrilled with the location, but that was something he could deal with later. He’d been seated there for several hours when Dr. Kate Heightmeyer sat down abruptly in the chair across from him.
He raised an eyebrow. “Dr. Heightmeyer, how can I help you?”
“How much of Sumner’s memories do you have?” she demanded roughly.
John refrained from wincing. “Everything actually, that’s the way that the merger with a Revenant works. I gained all the memories and essential skills of his previous anchors, but I’ve not fully integrated everything. I won’t because some of the things the other anchors bring to the table are no longer really viable skills in the modern world. Though it’s cool to know that if necessary I could make a sword.”
“A sword? That’s pretty fascinating…” She trailed off and huffed. “I’m not here to talk about that.”
“No, I’d imagine not,” John said mildly. “Sumner was ordered not to reveal his status as a Revenant to anyone on the expedition. He didn’t keep it from you out of some personal reason. Marshall took great pride in his career, and he wasn’t the sort of Marine to ignore orders unless the circumstances were grave. If you’re concerned that I’m going to tell anyone about the…relationship you had with him, don’t be. I don’t talk out of turn about my own relationship much less someone else’s.”
“I don’t like the fact that you have intimate memories of me,” Kate said and frowned. “It’ll make it impossible for me to maintain any kind of professional relationship with you as a patient so I’ve asked Dr. Robinson to handle your field assessments. It’s not a reflection of your status as a Revenant, and I didn’t want there to be any confusion.” She stood and took a deep breath. “And I’m also not interested in continuing…I mean I don’t know how the Revenant feels about me, but it wouldn’t be the same.”
John’s eyes widened briefly. “I assure you that won’t be an issue.” He winced when she looked hurt. “Look, objectively speaking you’re a beautiful woman, and Marshall was fond of you, but you’re not my type.”
Her mouth quirked briefly. “That’s fascinating—I mean you must have memories of dozens of sex partners that you’d probably have never chosen for yourself. Is that invasive? Weird? Uncomfortable? Has it caused sexual dysfunction in previous anchors?”
“I thought you weren’t objective enough to be my therapist,” John pointed out and laughed when she flushed. “It is weird, but there is no trauma to speak of regarding past consensual sex acts. There are a few memories of more violent encounters that I’ve tried to process and store away from my active memories as fast as I could. The Revenant I anchor, merged with women and men throughout his time as a spirit.”
Kate sat back down. “I’m so curious, but you’ve seen me naked, Colonel, and that’s weird since I didn’t agree to it.”
“Don’t think of it like that—you’ll only taint what you had with Marshall, and that’s not fair to either of you. I’m sorry he’s gone.”
“It was casual, but I hoped for more,” Kate said with a frown, and she turned her head to look out over the ocean. “The memorial service was just as he would’ve wanted it but I think you know that. Did you spread his ashes in the ocean?”
“Good.” She crossed her arms and bit down on her lip.
“What do you need from me?” John questioned. “Marshall’s memories are pretty close to the surface because he was the previous anchor and they’re hard to ignore. I feel like it would be dishonorable for me to ignore them entirely. The Revenant was very attached to him. This situation is probably one reason why Revenants are encouraged to cut ties with people known to a previous anchor.”
“There haven’t been any transfer of feelings, right?” Kate asked. “Because I…”
“Doctor,” John said quickly because he really didn’t want to know what she was going to say next. “I’m gay. I’ve been with one woman my whole life. I tried to be straight for about five years to make my father happy. Fortunately, she only married me for my name and forgave me for using her as a beard. She still works for my father on Earth, and she couldn’t be happier being my ex-wife.”
Her shoulder sagged. “That’s great. I mean, you’re kind of beautiful, but I prefer men who are a little more…rough around the edges and I didn’t how much of Marshall is in that pretty head of yours and what you might want to do about it.” She huffed and stood. “Never mind. This is silly. Make an appointment with Dr. Robinson—you need it.”
John resolved to never, ever tell Kate Heightmeyer that Marshall Sumner had been practically allergic to commitment. Maybe it as Gaius’ fault but he didn’t think so. John had plenty of memories of other anchors who had engaged in serious life-long relationships while Gaius was on board so to speak. And the Revenant grieved his previous anchors far more than he did the families of the anchors he walked away from afterward which would’ve sounded callous to an outsider so it wasn’t something he’d share if he could help it.
He did a quick review of everyone on the city and was relieved to realize that Heightmeyer was the only member of the expedition that Sumner had taken to bed. That settled he prodded a little and made a list of people at the SGC that might come back to haunt him as it were. There weren’t that many, Sumner had been picky about his sexual partners, and they were all women despite the man’s bisexual leanings. Not a surprise considering the regulations and Marshall’s reputation as being by the book on the regulations front.
John wondered if Sumner would’ve been tempted to hit on him and Gaius helpfully supplied a vivid fantasy of John bent over Sumner’s desk. He hissed in a breath at the near-instant erection that caused and tried to mentally poke the spirit which amused his Roman passenger more than it ever should’ve. His plans to leave before the lunch crowd settled in were out the window until he could get rid of the erection, so he stared at the ocean and thought utterly unsexy things for nearly fifteen minutes while Gaius laughed wickedly in the back of his mind. The asshole.
– – – –
“Religious zealot met militant atheist,” Ford said as soon as he closed the door to Bates office. “Weir limped away from the altercation quietly horrified and convinced McKay’s going straight to hell.” He leaned on the door. “Seriously. I nearly ruptured something listening to the audio that Zelenka shamelessly recorded. I made you a copy.”
Bates took the USB drive though he was certain he probably shouldn’t. “Did you tell Zelenka that recording people’s conversations is illegal.”
“He doesn’t care,” Ford pointed out. “Because I told him, more than once. He’s hoping to get blackmail material on Weir and if I learned anything since joining the SGC is that you do not get involved in geek warfare.’
Dean couldn’t argue against that. “No, it’s best to stay out of it.” He put the thumb drive aside to listen to later. “Any other problems with Weir?”
“She seems to think that the SGC is going to remove Sheppard from the city as soon as we make contact which is why she’s on board with moving the whole place to the other side of the planet to that geothermal platform. McKay told her that was unlikely because of ATA gene, but that doesn’t even register for her. She called Revenants emotional parasites.”
Dean exhaled deeply then slouched back in his chair. “I liked it better when you were the superior officer, and I could watch you fuck up from a distance.”
Ford flushed. “Not cool, Bates.”
“I never let you drown,” Bates said with a grin. “But watching you flounder was probably never going to get old, so it’s for the best that Sheppard punished me with a promotion. Did you finish the recon team roster?”
“Yes, I was in Dr. Zelenka’s office getting the low down on the civilian volunteers. I tried to place them on teams that would manage their personal quirks the best. Which means that I’ve put McKay on your team, sir.” He paused. “I mean—it’s for the best, right?”
“Right.” Bates frowned. He really didn’t like the idea of taking the Chief Science Officer off of the city, but no one knew more about Ancient tech, so they had little choice but to take McKay into the field. “Who’s our fourth?”
“About that,” Ford began and wet his lips. “The leader of the Athosians has offered her services as a guide. She’s travelled extensively through the gate. There are others among the natives who have also agreed to help.”
Bates really wanted to say no but he wasn’t an idiot and if they went blundering out into Pegasus the way the SGC had in the Milky Way they were only going to make enemies left, right, and center. Honestly, the wraith was enough enemy for everyone in the whole goddamned galaxy.
“I’ll meet with her,” Dean said finally, and Ford grinned. “Don’t get any other bright ideas, though, we can’t afford to make mistakes about who to trust out here. I think you know that.”
– – – –
It hadn’t escaped his notice that the native woman hadn’t come near him since he’d brought her back to the city with the rest of the people they’d rescued from the ship. She’d been friendly enough on the planet—sharing food and tea while they’d talked about the wraith. So, John was slightly surprised when she brought her tray of food over and requested permission to join him. He hoped he kept the shock off of his face.
“Of course.” He pulled the tray that had been brought to him out of the way so she’d have plenty of room. “How is everything going? Is there anything we can provide to your people to help them get settled on the city?”
“Everything is going well,” Teyla said as she carefully opened the carton of juice on her tray. “We’re excited about the project to move the city closer to the land. Dr. McKay has requested that might people help survey the area around the small inlet he’s chosen. Dr. Weir has agreed that we can build a village in the location that best serves us in the inlet and we’ll also be planting fields. We’ve not had an opportunity to plant food crops in many generations. We were forced to move constantly because of the wraith.”
He watched her inspect her elkburger. “We prepare our food differently.”
“Very much so,” Teyla admitted. “But the children have embraced this particular meal eagerly, so I thought to try it as well. I’ve heard things, and I wished to address them with you.”
“About Sumner and the Revenant he carried,” John said, and she nodded. “What have you heard?”
“Conflicting stories of what you’ve become. Some say that you’re hosting some sort of eternal spirit and others say it is a monster.”
“I’m an anchor, not a host,” John corrected first because being called a host was offensive. “The Revenant I carry isn’t feeding off of me. We’re sharing a physical form so that he may continue to enjoy a physical life. A Revenant is an eternal spirit, gifted so by an evolutionary change in humanity’s biology. The Revenant I carry has been alive for two thousand years.”
Her eyes darkened. “Only the wraith live that long, Colonel Sheppard.”
“The Ancients—the people you call your Ancestors also lived that long and longer,” John responded evenly. He watched her process that information and her face relaxed slightly. “The Revenant I anchor was a soldier in his first life, and he served his people heroically and with great loyalty. He has continued that service throughout his long existence by consistently merging with anchors who were dedicated to the survival of our species. He is also a scholar and a teacher. I’m honored by his choice to merge with me, and I’ve learned so much in such a short time. My purpose is bigger now than it ever has been which is just one the gifts that the Revenant may bring to an anchor.”
“What are the other gifts?”
“In the past, anchors have exhibited various mental abilities, but that only occurs when a true merger is reached between an anchor and a Revenant. It could be years before I manifested such things.”
“Does your Revenant have a name?” Teyla questioned.
“Yes, but I’ve chosen not to share it at this time,” John said neutrally. “For some anchors, it is a very private matter because people’s expectations regarding the Revenant can be stressful and unreasonable. There have even been occasions on Earth when a highly coveted Revenant was so sought after that anchors were killed to free them up to merge with other people.”
“I can’t imagine your world. I’ve spoken others about how many people there are on Earth. There is no world that I know of in this galaxy with that many people. The wraith would feed for decades just from your world.”
“Our world is not defenseless,” John said. “The wraith wouldn’t be prepared for the fight they would get if they tried to cull Earth. But I can’t say we wouldn’t take losses, but we’d make them regret leaving Pegasus.”
“Do you regret merging with a Revenant?”
John hesitated but then shook his head. “No, but I regret Marshall Sumner’s death.”
– – – –
“McKay to Sheppard—we’ve got a problem. I need whoever would deal with a dead body.”
John stopped walking and shared a look with Bates who was half way across the gate room. He clicked his radio as Weir came out of her office, pale and wide-eyed. “McKay, can you…you’ve got a body?”
“Yes, civilian scientist—Peter Kavanagh. He appears to have been beaten to death.”
John’s stomach lurched. He focused entirely on Weir. She was at the top of the stairs obviously too shocked to move or speak. “Don’t touch anything, McKay.”
“I haven’t—I mean I watched CSI.”
John turned to Bates.
“Coleman and Markham have experience as MPs,” Bates said. “They’re the obvious choice to investigate a murder.”
A murder. John could barely wrap his head around the idea of it. “Tell me your location, McKay, step out of the room. Are you armed?”
“No, of course not. I’m on the city,” Rodney snapped.
“Put your back to a wall that gives you the best view of any entry in your location. Stay on the line and say the name of anyone who approaches you. If anyone approaches you with a weapon, shelter, and do whatever you have to barricade the door. Where are you?”
“Lab six, tower three.”
They moved quickly through the city, using the transporter that McKay had cleared travel, and John found McKay tucked into a corner at the end of the hall. He glanced only briefly into the room where the body was before continuing forward to stand in front of Rodney.
“Talk to me, McKay. Tell me what Kavanagh was up to this morning.”
“Kavanagh was on an exploratory mission this morning with Dr. Simpson and two Marines. Sergeant Gregson and Corporal Eaton. They were investigating the tower next to this one, the one we’ve labeled as five. Kavanagh should still be on that mission, John, it makes no sense for him to be here. This tower has been cleared, and I was checking the space so I could confirm the whole tower’s use for Engineering. They need the most space for practical experimentation, you see.”
John nodded. “Where’s Simpson? Did she return to the main science labs?”
Rodney frowned and clicked his radio. “Dr. Simpson, what’s your location?”
There was no answer. John activated his own radio and tried to contact both Cole and Eaton. He wasn’t surprised at all to get nothing in response. Reluctantly, he activated the private channel he shared with Dr. Weir. “Dr. Weir, we have three missing persons, and one body so far. We need a full head count and any reports from internal sensors regarding towers one, two, three, four, and five. I need to know if there any life signs indicated outside of the safety perimeter we’ve established.” He paused. “And I need to know if there are any unidentifiable life signs on the city.”
“Unidentifiable?” Weir questioned.
John inhaled through his nose because he shouldn’t have to spell it out for her. “Yes, like an alien.”
“Dr. Zelenka is directing the search from the command center. Should we concentrate on a certain location?”
“If there is some thing on the city, we don’t know how fast it can move or where it might have hidden.”
– – – –
They found Helen Simpson strangled and shoved under a stairwell in tower five shortly before Biro confirmed that Kavanagh had been killed roughly two hours before he was discovered. Simpson had been dead longer, though her death was far less violent. Neither death was consistent with a wraith attack, and the censors hadn’t revealed an unauthorized life sign. The sensors didn’t automatically create an archive, so they had no data to review. It was annoying, but John was quickly learning that the Ancients weren’t concerned about crime or danger within the city. As far as he could tell, the only real security measure designed entirely for protection was the gate shield.
Corporal James Eaton and Sergeant Tom Gregson were found dead in Gregson’s quarters. It was impossible to tell who had attacked who as they’d both died of injuries they’d inflicted on each other. They’d brought the entire population of the city into the mess hall which was the largest room they’d cleared for use.
John settled in a chair at the odd-shaped conference table. Biro sat down across from him with a tablet and McKay sat with her. Weir, Heightmeyer, and Beckett huddled together near the back of the room, but they sat down at the table as soon as the doors closed.
“Dr. Biro, I’ve been told that you’ve started forensic work on the bodies,” Weir said.
“I’ve not had time to complete DNA analysis, but I’ve been able to confirm blood types—all blood found is human.” Biro paused and straightened the tablet in front of her. “Dr. Kavanagh was the only Type A- blood type. I found his blood on Sergeant Gregson and in the smears of blood on Dr. Simpson’s neck. It appears that Sergeant Gregson beat Dr. Kavanagh to death then strangled Dr. Simpson.”
“Dr. Heightmeyer is there anything in Sergeant Gregson’s psychological assessments that could account for this?” John questioned. “PTSD?”
“No, Colonel, Tom Gregson doesn’t have anything in his background that indicates this kind of break with reality,” Kate said. “He’s assessments were normal—completely average in retrospect.”
John started to speak, but noise burst over his radio on the all-call channel. Shouting and a high-pitched scream filled his ear, and he stood as the connection cut off. Immediately, his radio activated again.
“Bates to Sheppard.”
“This is Sheppard,” John said as the doors to the conference opened.
“Dr. Zelenka has had some kind of psychotic break. I was forced to knock him unconscious after he injured several people. We’ve restrained him, and we’re preparing to move him to the infirmary.”
“No,” John answered and waved everyone around him silent when they started to speak. “Biro, I need you back on in the infirmary. Check Gregson and the rest of his team for drugs, chemicals, and any other contagion you can think of. McKay, I need a team in hazmat gear to investigate tower five.” He turned to Weir. “Unless you disagree, Dr. Weir?”
Weir’s mouth was pursed in displeasure, but she nodded. “This incident is a matter of expedition safety, Colonel, so of course the military should handle it. I agree that everyone should stay in the mess hall but that Dr. Beckett and Dr. Biro may need to examine Dr. Zelenka.”
“Everyone in the mess hall has been exposed to whatever the contagion is. We need to contain and control them
“He had a personal relationship with Dr. Simpson,” McKay said with a frown. “More sexual than romantic if the rumors are to be believed.”
– – – –
An hour after Zelenka blew, three more expedition members lost their minds and had to be restrained but not before there were significant injuries. Tower five proved to be empty full of residential suites, so they back tracked to the day before and found that Gregson’s team had cleaned out three labs in the main science tower one of which experimental weapons lab.
“The Ancients are dicks,” McKay announced to the room at large as he entered. “The symptoms reported—hallucinations, paranoia, loss of control, and eventually death are all listed as undesirable side effects by the scientists doing the experiment. We found the kill switch for the nanites and the procedure to flush them from the blood. The nanite protocol worked differently for various test subjects based on their body chemistry, size, and gender. The nanites are designed to multiply inside the body, and a variety of things impacted that construction. They experimented exclusively on Pegasus natives.”
Definitely dicks, John thought with a frown. “What was the goal of this experimentation?”
“They were trying to ramp up human strength and aggression to create disposable soldiers that they could drop onto wraith occupied worlds and transport into their ships to cause confusion and chaos.”
“Hamask,” John said and winced at the memories that flew across his mind’s eye. “They were trying to create an artificial feral mindset—a berserker.”
“That’s obscene,” Kate Heightmeyer said. “How could they possibly…”
“It wasn’t the worst thing they did,” Rodney said grimly. “I’ve also located notes on another experiment that uses radiation to create explosive tumors—also in non-Ancients. None of this technology is meant to hurt someone with the ATA gene so while they were fucked up assholes, they were smart fucked up assholes.”
It was honestly no comfort.
“Dr. Weir, how would you like to proceed?” John focused on her and found her staring at him with a mixture of apprehension and shock. “We’ll have the population tested and treated within the hour. What should we do with the labs?”
“Any experimental weapon on the city that could be used against us must be destroyed,” Weir said and took a deep breath. “Rodney, your priority will be to find every single experiment of this nature—in the database, on the city, where ever. We can’t allow such things to be left to be found if they can be used against us.”
“People on Earth might argue with that,” McKay cautioned. “We’re out here to find weapons and technology.”
“I won’t bring anything back to Earth that could be used as a weapon of mass destruction, and I don’t care what the IOA thinks about it. I don’t care what the SGC thinks about it.” Her mouth firmed up. “Colonel Sheppard, what do you think?”
John cleared his throat. “I think that the last thing anyone on Earth needs is a new way to kill a whole bunch of people at once. McKay?”
“I agree. Anything we find can be categorized as a threat to the expedition, and we only have ourselves out here. There will be plenty of people on Earth who will think they have the right to second-guess our decisions out here, but I’ve a reputation for telling such people to kiss my ass.”
“We’ll let McKay run point on that briefing,” John said, and for the first time since he’d merged with Gaius, Elizabeth Weir smiled at him.
– – – –
They cleaned the lab with an EMP device then threw the nanite construction device into the ocean—no one bothered to check the position of the city so finding it later would be very difficult.
McKay lingered by John’s side as the Marines who’d helped carry the machine out to the pier left. “I’m surprised by her position on this.”
“I’m not,” John said roughly. “She was the one that lobbied for a small military presence on the expedition. Marshall had to fight for every single military asset he brought to Pegasus except for me, and Weir didn’t see me anything more than a walking ATA gene.”
“Four dead, sixteen injured, and an untold amount of emotional trauma,” Rodney said suddenly as they started walking back toward the central tower. “I guess I never expected internal security threats which was short-sighted. There were problems at the SGC with the Trust, so it isn’t like our people haven’t been a source of a threat before. There have been contagions brought into the mountain from off-world as well. I think…” McKay trailed off then exhaled. “So I was thinking that I would suggest to Weir that we find a secondary site and use it for mission returns.”
“A stop-gap between the rest of the galaxy and the city,” John said and nodded. “Do you have any viable choices from the database?”
“Not yet but I’ll look sites that the Ancients might have secured for their own purposes.”
“Send them to Ford, and he’ll prepare a mission plan for Bates. But before you do that, suggest it to Weir and let her make in an order.”
McKay made a face. “I’m not good at that sort of thing—people management. They make no sense and no matter how much data I gathered—I still make a mess of it.”
John laughed and snagged Rodney’s hand. “Trying to warn me off, McKay?”
“Ha, not before I get laid,” Rodney exclaimed and grinned when John laughed. “And I expect it to be amazing.”
“What if I’m terrible in bed?”
“That kind of false advertising would be criminal,” McKay muttered. “Look at you.”
John felt his face heat in a blush and felt absolutely ridiculous. “Shut up.”
He pulled Rodney toward and an alcove as they turned off the main pathway leading to the central tower. Thankfully the man followed without any sort of verbal response. John backed him into the shadow cast by the stairs walkway above them. He hooked his fingers into the scientist’s belt loops as McKay settled against the wall.
“You’ve got something on your mind, Colonel?” Rodney questioned.
“I want to kiss you,” John murmured.
“Is that all you want?”
“Hmm, no, but that’s what I’ll settle for right now.”
McKay raised an eyebrow. “Then why aren’t you doing it?”
“Maybe I want your permission.”
Rodney huffed. “Yeah, of course. Stop being a tease.”
John brushed his mouth over Rodney’s but it wasn’t enough, and it didn’t help at all that McKay clenched his hands on John’s hips then pulled him close. The second kiss he got was demanding and greedy. It was exactly what he expected from McKay, and it was tempting, so tempting to take it further. He stroked his tongue into Rodney’s mouth again, the taste of him was delicious. John pulled his mouth free from McKay’s and tucked his face briefly against the other man’s neck.
“You’re so warm,” McKay murmured and pulled him closer.
“I wasn’t,” John admitted. “I’ve been like this since the merger.”
“So this is warmth is Gaius.”
“Yeah. Is that weird?”
“No, I mean maybe but I’m not put off of it.”
John laughed. “Good.” He stepped back and took a deep breath. “Let’s finish this fucked up day and get some dinner.”
“Yeah, sounds good.”