Story 5 in the “Dark Places in the Soul Series”
John, Ronon, Jennifer, and Laura find themselves on Earth hunting for a new kind of enemy along with the help of a few friends in SG1. Secrets are revealed, relationships are tested, and the fate of Atlantis will hang in the balance. (JohnSheppard/Laura Cadman, Ronon/Jennifer Keller, Daniel/Vala, Sam/Jack, Cameron/Carolyn Lam, McKay/Lorne)
He didn’t know when he’d started to hate returning to Earth; no that was a lie. He knew exactly – it was the first time he’d ever been forced to return and face a freaking Spanish Inquisition about all of his actions since the moment he’d set foot on Atlantis. The gate room at the SGC was empty – as he’d been promised. Samantha Carter, Jack O’Neill, and Cameron Mitchell the only people in the control room. He gave them a brief nod as the last of his party slid to a stop beside him on the steel ramp that lead up to the gate and the Stargate disengaged behind him.
It sucked a little of his life out of him in that moment—a complete break with his city. His gaze connected with Major General Jack O’Neill’s and the older man tapped his watch indicating that they only had a few minutes to vacate the gate room before the people that had been thrown out expected to be allowed back in. John nodded and motioned his team to move with a quick nod of his head.
John had sent Jack O’Neill a two-word email thirty-six hours before. Falling Cards. If the man didn’t understand completely, John had no evidence of it. Because he’d gotten a data burst back from the SGC within thirty minutes with an encrypted file that had taken Rodney over four hours to crack. In that file were four sentences of instructions and absolutely no room for maneuvering.
The basic details of the bomb and other incidents on Atlantis and the Daedalus was hardly a secret but there was so much more to tell and it had to be done in person. Cadman fell to his left, Dr. Keller to his back and Ronon followed as they exited the gate room and met with O’Neill and two members of SG-1. A team that was no longer active off world. John had wondered about it—wondered why Samantha Carter was pulled back to Earth from Atlantis because the official story hadn’t washed for him.
None of them said a word as they moved through the halls to the first elevator and out to the guard station.
The guards processed SG1 without much discussion but were clearly suspicious of him and his team. Jack hadn’t known he’d bring with him… so obviously he couldn’t have prepared in advance for that. He and Cadman pushed through with military id and glares from Sheppard.
Keller presented hers with a glance in John’s direction and then flashed the Marine a smile. “Sergeant Killen, it’s a pleasure to see you again.”
“Ma’am.” He took her ID and glanced towards Ronon.
“How is your shoulder? Did it heal well?”
The soldier colored, clearly surprised she remembered him. “Yes. Thank you—your work was excellent. The rehab specialist I worked with was stunned by the complete range of motion I recovered.” He cleared his throat. “Do you have any weapons to report?”
“One 9mm Glock, three ammunition clips, four knives and my husband. My husband is carrying two 9mm’s with ten clips, twenty-two knives, a katana, and a pressing desire for the filet mignon I had to bribe him with to get him to agree to this trip.”
“Home to Kansas, ma’am?”
“Yes. I’ve some family business to take care of with the passing of the General and the last three times my husband let me get out of his sight… someone kidnapped or tried to kill me.” The soldier paled. “Between you and me—his body count is getting obscene.”
Killen regarded Ronon with shrewd eyes. “A man has a right to protect what’s his.” He made a few notes on his log. “I hope you both enjoy Kansas.”
They slid into the waiting elevator with the rest of the team and when the elevator door closed. Colonel Cameron Mitchell laughed softly. “Dr. Keller, you are made of awesome.”
“You listed Ronon as one of your weapons.” Samantha pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
Jennifer leaned against her husband and glanced up at him with a grin which he returned. “He’s my weapon of choice.”
“A katana?” Jack asked.
“It was a Christmas present,” Ronon responded and pressed his lips against his wife’s hair.
When they exited the mountain Dr. Daniel Jackson, Teal’c, and the ever smiling Vala Mal Doran were in the parking lot. Daniel tossed him a set keys and jerked his head towards a black SUV parked beside the one he was leaning on.
Behind the wheel, he let himself settle and watched Ronon secure the women and their bags in the back seat before taking a seat up front. “You really are made of awesome. I’ve never seen anyone work a grown man like that before. I figured he was going to confiscate the weapons. You treated him?”
“Yes, shortly before I left for Atlantis he came through the gate from a mission- he’d taken four bullets to the chest and Dr. Lam asked me to handle the surgery since… well honestly I think it might have been a test of sorts. She assisted and all the brass on base watched. They wanted to know, I guess, that they were getting exactly what they thought they were with me.” She grinned. “I rocked their world.”
They all laughed softly as John started the vehicle and followed SG1 in all of their glory out of the parking lot. It was going to be a very long night. He shared a small glance with Ronon who sitting in the front seat of the vehicle like a coiled viper. John couldn’t blame him—he’d never come to Earth when something fucked up wasn’t happening and this was not going to be an exception.
They drove for two hours, after hour one he realized they were heading to O’Neill’s cabin. It was a good choice—secluded and clean up would be easier if they were followed. He pulled to a stop in front of the large log home and turned to the two women in the back seat. “Remember what I said.”
“Short, to the point, blunt, and no bullshit,” Jennifer recited.
John looked over her face. “General Richard Keller. I can’t believe I never made the connection. His death wasn’t mentioned in any correspondence I received from the SGC.”
“My father was killed on a mission—General O’Neill kept it quiet and I floated a story about a long illness. As to why that information isn’t in my file…”
“No need to explain. You’re the only child of a prominent Air Force general, and later on I’m going to kick myself for not getting that sooner.”
“I did say his name in Ronon and I…” She flushed.
“I believe the four of us remember the mating ceremony well enough.” John grinned, his eyes lit with amusement briefly. “Come on then—let’s not keep the illustrious SG1 waiting. Leave the bags in the car for the time being.” His gaze connected with Laura’s and it darkened briefly. “We cool?”
“Try not to stare at my ass while we’re here.”
“It’s a pretty ass, Sir, but I’m sure I can maintain.”
– – – –
Sam was at her computer when they entered and still no one was speaking – finally after a few minutes a small device sitting next to here blinked green and she sat back. “Okay. We’re ready.”
A jamming device. Nice. John jerked his head to Ronon who went to a large set of windows in the room and carefully drew the blinds, his gaze flicking over the impressive view without a change of expression. “We’re good. The one access road has a low threat assessment and the lake is too large for someone to cross without detection.”
“Glad you approve,” Jack O’Neill uttered dryly.
“We all have our responsibilities,” Ronon glanced towards his wife and then back to the General who stared for a few seconds and then nodded.
“Talk to me John.”
“You’ve read the reports about the bomb?”
“As brief as they were?” Jack’s gaze drifted over them and settled on Laura. “Yes. I read her report. Is my favorite bomb maker here to give me a full report?”
Laura pulled out a small thumb drive and passed it across the coffee table to Colonel Samantha Carter. “Ma’am.”
“Lieutenant.” Sam slid the thumb drive into a slot on the side of her computer. “I suppose ‘Big Bomb’ is your file of choice?”
Laura grinned briefly. “Yes, ma’am.” She cleared her throat. “Roughly seventy-two hours ago, Dr. McKay found a communications device and a bomb on board the Daedalus. The communications device was Wraith in design and was sending data bursts with information on Earth, several key personnel on Atlantis, and information on a Wraith hybrid named Michael. It was active only during subspace travel, so both Atlantis and Earth missed the transmissions themselves. McKay is still filtering through the data but we do know that who ever planted the device knows with absolute certainty where Earth is and has a very good idea where Atlantis is.
“The bomb itself was integrated into several key systems of the Daedalus and it took us four hours to pull it out of the ship so that it could be transferred without going off. It had a C4 trigger and power from sublight, life support, and the shields to add to the bang and on top of it sat one hundred pounds of weapons grade Naquadah.”
“I see.” Samantha was filtering through pictures on the lap top which she’d moved so that Jack O’Neill had a good view of.
“The Naquadah itself had a Wraith symbol carved into it. It’s video caption 345. The Wraith word means ‘he who is like a god.”
“The name Michael means ‘who is like God’ in Hebrew.” Daniel Jackson leaned over the couch to get a good look at the caption. “So you think this Wraith hybrid Michael planted the bomb?”
Laura cleared her throat when all eyes in the room centered on her. “Doesn’t make sense. One, he would have no concept of what his name means in Hebrew. It’s a rarely used Earth language that is not represented in any of the data he could have pulled from Atlantis. Second, he may have a limited working knowledge of some Ancient tech and then his own people’s technology but he wouldn’t have the ability to put a bomb like this in the middle of an Asgard engine console.” She sat back on the couch and moved closer to Jennifer to avoid crawling into John’s lap to escape Jack O’Neill’s penetrating gaze.
“And you removed this?”
“With Dr. McKay’s help—there is a video/audio record of it on the drive as well.”
Jack nodded and focused on Jennifer. “Talk to me, Button. You look like hell and your husband is about to burst out of his skin.”
Jennifer flushed. “I asked you not to call me that.”
“I told you that I wouldn’t stop calling you that until you were at least 5’7. Since that’s never going to happen… you’re stuck with it.” Jack leaned back in his chair and regarded her with shrewd eyes. “Two successful kidnapping, one attempt, one attempted murder…” He looked to Ronon. “Son, out of curiosity what is your body count?”
“1458 personal kills,” Ronon answered his gaze drifting to his wife’s shocked face. “But, that’s not counting the Hives Sheppard and I have taken apart or the Wraith nest facility we blew to hell last year.” He leaned against the window frame; as he watched Jennifer process the information. “You did say it was getting obscene, little one.”
Jennifer sucked in a deep breath. “I really did.” She cleared her throat. “It is the general consensus that Michael is trying to take me for my gene. As a result, Colonel Sheppard has grounded all the females on the base from gate travel in the Pegasus galaxy. Both Cadman and I have a natural gene – the strongest natural genes on the city among the women. It’s something that Carson would have known… and Michael had access to his clone for a long time. There is no telling what he’s pulled from his head in those two years. As for the attempted murder, we don’t know for sure that the young scientist that stole from Atlantis was even connected with this. It would make no sense for Michael to try to kill me.”
“No, but if someone Earth deduced that your mere existence was a threat to us…” Cameron Mitchell shared a glance with O’Neill. “Is this something The Trust would have done in the past?”
John stood from the couch and walked to the window, his back to the whole room, his mind processing that simple sentence. “So, SG1 hasn’t been ‘retired’. You’re all undercover here on Earth trying to find a newly formed Trust organization?”
He shot Jack a look filled with barely controlled fury. “An organization that has a gun pointed at my city. I left McKay and Woolsey there – and Evan Lorne barely recovering from being exposed to the Hoffan drug. They think they are looking for some Wraith worshipping fanatic who dabbles in terrorism.”
“That’s probably exactly what they are looking for,” Sam interjected. “Look, John, the Trust isn’t going to blow up the Daedalus. They steal tech, determine who they believe to be a threat, and try to get away with much as possible while they make money at it. They’d steal the Daedalus before they’d blow it up.”
“I should tell them the rest.” Jennifer looked towards Sheppard. “John?”
“Go ahead.” John leaned against the wall next to Ronon his body tight with anger.
“In the past few weeks, we’ve discovered that Michael’s experimentation has escalated. He’s starting to create designer viruses and he’s improved the Hoffan drug. Basically—he’s killing anyone that doesn’t have the Ancient gene and making sure anyone with an ancient gene can’t be fed off by the Wraith. We have no way of knowing how wide spread his experimentation is but we do believe that he has allies here on Earth and might have been to Earth himself in the past eighteen months.” She motioned to the thumb drive. “I’ve reports on both the disease and the drug for you.”
Jack was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. “Falling cards, John?”
“It was either that or ‘For Cryin’ Out Loud’,” John responded dryly, and grinned at the one fingered salute it earned him. “My house is certainly falling, Sir and I didn’t even realize it was so flimsy.” He tilted his head. “Care to tell me why you call Jennifer Button?”
“She’s my goddaughter.” Jack glanced towards Jennifer who flushed. “You know for a woman with such an expressive face you are surprisingly good at keeping secrets.”
“I learned from the best.”
“That you did.” He glanced at the lap top and then around the room. “Well, shit, kids.”