AUTHORS NOTE: This is the fourth story in my on-going Stargate: Atlantis FanFiction series– I’m starting to enter what can only be called “Alternate Universe” territory so you’ll begin to see a very dramatic departure from the series cannon.
Atlantis battles Michael on different ground– dealing with the people he leaves behind to endure his experiments and John learns to deal with feelings he had no intention of having. Ronon/Keller & Sheppard/Cadman
The three nurses she’d carried with her had already left the gateroom with the Marines that had been practically glued to her ass the whole time she was gone.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Woolsey.” Jennifer dropped the backpack on the floor between. “What can I do for you?”
“I was hoping to get a briefing.” He tucked his hands behind his back as if suddenly realizing he should have left her alone.
“I’ve not slept in three days, I haven’t showered in four, watched fifty people suffer and die of a new and nasty variety of hemorrhagic fever, and you want a debriefing?” Her voice cracked a little but before she could continue Ronon was there picking up her bag.
“Perhaps you should rest.” Richard cleared his throat. “I – yes—get some sleep and have a good meal and we’ll meet when you are ready.”
– – – –
Laura Cadman jerked off her vest and with unsteady hands made a pile of clothes in the girl’s locker room. Her hands were shaking with exhaustion, maybe over exhaustion because she hadn’t strayed far from Jennifer’s side through the whole mess and the woman had run her ragged. After a shower, fresh clothes, and a meal she headed to John’s office to debrief him. She’d been the ranking military officer on the mission – glorified babysitting – but she hadn’t complained at the time of the assignment. She enjoyed spending time with Jennifer and counted her as one of the few female friends she had on the base.
His door was open and Major Lorne was already in a chair in front of the desk that John rarely sat behind. He was there now, looking concerned and obviously having a conversation with someone on his comm. He closed the conversation and motioned her to sit down.
“Ronon says that Dr. Keller is emotionally and physically exhausted.”
Yeah. That about summed it all up. “Fifty people dead, thirty of them children under the age of ten. The disease was a variant of hemorrhagic fever – it was for lack of a better word, horrific. By day two she realized that the only people in the village immune to the disease had the ancient gene which was precious few of them. I sent anyone on the team back through the gate who didn’t have the gene naturally and let her do her thing.” He knew all of that—she was sure but it helped keep her mind in order. “She found the solution late last night and started administering a vaccine. I’ve frankly never seen anything like it. She probably saved the lives of more than three thousand people. I did what I could to make her eat, rest, and sleep but to be honest we’ve been on our feet none stop for the last eighty hours.”
His displeasure at that bit of news startlingly evident all over his face. She wanted to take it back but it was too late and lying was somewhat pointless. “I stopped trying to get her to sleep when I found her covered in blood and singing to a child who had lost both parents and was nearly dead herself. She was dead before the song even finished and all I could think was that it was a good thing because she didn’t deserve the pain that comes with the final stages of the disease—when the body starts to decay and atrophy from the inside out. Then Dr. Keller was up, moving, working like she just hadn’t held a child until she died. She performed open heart surgury with a flashlight for light when one of the elders in the village got so upset she had a heart attack.”
John was a little pale now and Evan Lorne had lowered his gaze to the floor. After a few minutes of silence he spoke. “Why didn’t you report any of this?”
“Mr. Woolsey did know. She made it clear that she wasn’t going to authorize anyone else through the gate to help and there is little anyone here could do that wasn’t already being done. Medical supplies, food, and the research her staff was doing was really all that Atlantis could provide.” She stood, her body stiff with the effort to keep from curling into a ball and going to sleep. “Sir, I’m exhausted.”
“Of course.” John nodded. “You’re excused and report to the infirmary, Lt. The rest of your team is already there. You’ll be admitted for observation for the night. No arguments.”
“Won’t even try.”
– – – –
Jennifer shuddered against the fall of hot water down her back, and braced herself against the wall with one hand while Ronon did all the work. His hands moved over her efficiently – washing first her hair and then her body with minimal play.
“The bastard put it in their food. It wasn’t like anything he’s tried in the past – it lacked the elegance of his previous viruses. This was more vicious, a deliberate act of biological warfare and it was engineered towards people who didn’t have the gene. I managed to kill it before it became airborn but the damage was already done. So many dead.” She shuddered as he pulled her from the shower and wrapped her in a towel. “So many. It’s obscene. He’s such a monster.”
“I know.” Ronon kissed her forehead and prodded her out of the bathroom. Once in the bedroom of their quarters, he dried her off, brushed her hair, and put her to bed without asking any more questions.
She was already asleep when a nurse came around to check on her. He allowed the nurse to take a few readings, some blood to run tests, and then kicked him out with the promise to call him if she showed any signs of illness.
– – – –
“What I’m telling you, Mr. Woolsey, is that the safety of everyone on this base is my responsibility and I should have been informed of the situation. She’d still be there if she hadn’t found a cure. The planet was a target – you and I both know Michael was responsible for it and it was no less than a biological weapon.”
“How many of your men have the gene naturally?” Richard asked softly.
“Seventeen including myself.”
“And four of them were already on the planet. They were the only ones that could go through the gate, Colonel. So, were you going to leave Atlantis with no Jumper pilots?”
“I want to be in the loop,” John ground out between clenched teeth. “Or you can explain to Ronon how you let his wife kill herself and never bothered to realize that she was doing it.”
Richard paled only slightly. “Mr. Dex and I get along. He was there, however, all three times I tried to pull Keller off that planet. He was in the gate room everytime she reported in, spoke with her, listened to her as she rambled sometimes for as long as the gate would remain open, and backed her up every single time she said she wasn’t ready to give up. We made this mess, Colonel, an argument you’ve used more than once to justify our entire presence in this galaxy. We made Michael what he is and in doing so we unleashed something worse than a Wraith on this galaxy.”
“Yes.” John nodded. “Much worse.”
“That being said, I didn’t keep you in the loop as I should and I apologize. I’ll endeavor to do a better job in the future. I understand that Lt. Cadman reported to you this afternoon?”
“Yes. We’ll do a full briefing in the morning.” John rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry about the temper.”
“I saw their condition when they came home. You wouldn’t be human or a very good Commanding Officer if seeing people under your command that burdened and exhausted didn’t get your back up.”
– – – –
Ronon put aside the laptop he’d been using to play a game and stood as the door chimes rang again. He knew Jennifer would sleep through it but he answered it quickly anyway. He wasn’t surprised to see John standing there, his jaw tight and his eyes hard. “Hey.”
“Didn’t feel the need to tell me they were working themselves to death?”
He motioned him inside and locked the door. “She’s asleep so keep your voice down.”
“I suppose she looks like death warmed over as well?”
“Cadman bad off?”
“She staggered out of my office. Hell, I had Lorne escort her to the infirmary.” John rubbed his face with both hands. “Woolsey shouldn’t have let them stay.”
“The longer it took the more people died. From what I’ve heard no one in medical has slept in nearly four days himself and he wasn’t even on the planet.” Ronon slid onto the couch and slouched down to get comfortable. “She did good work, saved many.”
“She would have come home if you asked.”
“I wouldn’t have,” Ronon responded. “She doesn’t lecture me when I go through the gate, John. She doesn’t cry when I come back wounded or if she does she doesn’t do it in front of me. We both have roles here, a place within this mission, and I won’t ask her her not to do hers.” He watched silently as John digested that information. “I thought you weren’t going to go there.”
John jerked as if he’d hit him and groaned a little. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Then why are you in my quarters berating me for how I chose to deal with my own wife?”
“Yeah. Yeah.” John leaned forward and buried his face in his hands. “How is your wife?”
“Exhausted, devastated that she watched so many children die, angry, sad and everything in between,” Ronon admitted. “It’s not easy to watch because I can’t fix it. How is Laura?”
“I forced the on duty doctor to admit her and the rest of her team for observation so I’ll know they all get some rest. She’ll be in the briefing for Woolsey in the morning.”
– – – –
“Over the last three months, the people of P34-X23 started to die of a disease they had no documented history of ever encountering. Upon our arrival I immediately noted that we were dealing with hemorrhagic fever of some sort. The origin or epicenter of the diseases was unknown to the indigenous peoples or those off worlders that had settled in the village in recent years.” She’d decided to focus directly on Woolsey as the rest of the room was tense and more than a little miserable. Laura still looked she should be in bed. “Within hours, I discovered that one of those who seemed to be immune to the disease was capable of activating some of the ancient equipment I used for testing and scanning. A quick survey and a few tests told us that those with the ancient gene were apparently immune.
“Lt. Cadman and I made the join decision to return any personnel who did not have the gene naturally to be on the safe side and I started to work on analysis of the disease itself with help from everyone here on Atlantis. This is not like any strain of hemorrhagic fever we’ve ever seen on Earth. It’s not airborne, nests in the body, and dies quickly once it’s deprived of a host. We were able to isolate the disease, develop a vacine and produce enough for the small population on the planet. We lost fifty after we arrived and they had already buried close to four hundred before we got there at all.” Jennifer flipped through several pictures on the main viewing screen in the room—showing the various stages of the disease.
“Roughly four percent of their population was immune to this and none of their genes showed as dominant. As you all know most of those with ancient genes even on this base have recessive ancient genes. We’ve only encountered two people from Earth with dominant ancient genes—that would be General Jack O’Neill and Colonel Sheppard.” She looked at John then, not surprised by the fury on his face. The pictures were horrific. “We learned from the Botany department yesterday afternoon that the virus was designed to interact and bond with a specific grain that the Dorians grew as their primary food source. They use plant for everything—even some of their clothing is weaved from plant fibers pulled from harvested materials.”
“So it was made for them. Specifically for them,” John said. “What did they do to Michael to deserve that?”
“I won’t pretend to understand what a Wraith hybrid could hold against a post-industrial group of people who hadn’t seen a culling in over one hundred years. What we do know is that this was a very advanced experiment and he waited a whole year for the outcome.” She sat down in her chair and slid the remote for the computerized display in Laura’s direction.
Laura stood, flipped the next image quickly. “Sometime shortly after the villagers did their planting for the year six Wraith darts appeared in the night sky. It caused a monumental amount of panic—after all they hadn’t been culled in one hundred years. In the morning, several men of the village found these things all over their fields—over one hundred of them.” She flipped to the next image. “It was a canister – I spent the better part of yesterday putting it back together.” She walked to the lap top and set up a demonstration on the screen. “It is designed to spread an aersol over one hundred square feet. It’s dropped from the air- at least a mile above to get an accurate dispersal and when it reaches terminal velocity—the canister springs open releasing thousands of tiny capsules. We can’t be certain what kind of material he used for the capsules but I did find a silicon-like chemical in the soil along with the remnants of the chemical agent that was dispersed. These capsules burst roughly one hundred feet above the fields and within seconds they had contaminated the entire crop.”
“How do you know?” Woolsey leaned forward to watch the computer simulation she had designed.
Laura looked at him for a minute, her face impassive. “Because I designed this weapon. It was, in fact, the project that earned me a position with the SGC six years ago. I spent the day putting one back together because I had to know for sure. True, he’s bastardized some of the components because I’m sure my plans made little sense to him but the concept and the mechanism is mine.”
“How would he…”
“Michael was on the hive ship that hacked into Atlantis, Richard. Which also explains his advanced genetics research, the cloning, the Hoffan drug, and of course his new hobby of biological warfare.” John stood up from the table.
“He’s engaged in selective genocide of the humans in this galaxy. Once he’s weeded out all the ones that don’t have the gene—he’ll start turning them into what he is.” Jennifer said softly. “And once he does that—once he has hybrids with the gene he’ll be able to control Ancient technology.”