“After analyzing what was left in Major Lorne’s system—I’ve determined that Michael has altered the Hoffan Drug—if this was a test run we’ll likely never know what his ultimate result intention was.” Jennifer’s fingers curled around the tablet PC in front of her. “What we do know is that because Evan’s gene isn’t a natural one – he had a cardiac episode while the drug was reworking his body chemistry. If he had not had the gene therapy this version of the drug would have most certainly killed him.”
“But it’s different than what he did on the plague planet?”
“Yes. Vastly. This is a targeted drug—a vaccine if you will—that works the way the people of the Hoff planet wanted. He’s obviously breaking his experiments up; perhaps in an effort to hide from us and the Wraith what he’s doing.” Jennifer cleared her throat. “I think we should packet up all the information we’ve learned about these two incidents and make sure as many hive ships as we can find gets a hold of it—pointing the finger at him as bluntly as possible.”
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”
“In a round about way. It wouldn’t be the first time the Wraith have worked with us and this wouldn’t even be without the “work with” part. We just find away to get them the information. We send the information to the Genii as well because eventually he will target them if he hasn’t already started. We push any data we have about his whereabouts out and make it everyone’s priority to find and neutralize him.”
“It’s a good plan.” John stared at her for a moment. “Mr. Woolsey, what do you think?”
Richard nodded. “Dr. McKay, can you do this without giving away our position?”
Rodney looked up from his computer. “Of course – we can use the gates and the jumpers to drop beacons in areas where the Wraith are and where they might go next. They’ll know it’s us but they won’t be able to trace it back to our location.” He started to get up.
“Wait. There is more.” Jennifer waited until he was seated again, a frown creasing his forehead. “With this new development – we must find a way to give everyone the gene therapy on the expedition or send them home. I need Carson back. I need him back as soon as possible. No one understands the gene therapy better than the man who made it and his advance genetics background makes him the best candidate to figure it out.”
“The IOA isn’t going to like hearing that.”
“I know.” Jennifer took a deep breath. “Which is why I need to present to them personally. I realize that the Midway station construction is complete and at this point we are waiting on final approval from the SGC before we began gate travel through it on a regular basis. Mr. Woolsey, I’d like you to talk the IOA into sending a contingent to Midway to meet with me.”
“You forget, Doc, you’re grounded from gate travel.” John glared at her, hating what was going to come out of her mouth next already.
“It has to be me. Ronon can escort me and the new Midway station is a cloaked facility with Asgard weapons and the new fail safe systems…” She looked at Rodney. “McKay.”
“Carter and I have spent a lot of time on the new design, back and forth. We are extremely confident that combined with the redesign of the system, the fail safes, the iris systems, and the fact that the facility is cloaked, shielded, and armed to the teeth makes it as secure as possible.”
“I’ll set it up.” Woolsey used his stylus to work with the PDA in hands. “Dr. Banks has lodged a formal complaint against you and has indicated that you are….”
“Oh, I’m sure he has a list of all the things he thinks I am.”
Richard flushed a dull red as he read further and then cleared his throat. “Well, the Daedalus arrives in the morning and we’ll be transferring out several personal and transferring in a few.” He stood. “I’ll take care of Banks and get ready my request for a IOA meeting on Midway. They’ll likely balk as none of them are keen getting near Midway after it was invaded and destroyed by Wraith.”
Rodney stood. “It isn’t like it’s the same one. Kavanagh disintegrated the old with the pure power of his ignorance.”
– – – –
“Is it wrong that I think Colonel Caldwell is sort of sexy?”
Jennifer sputtered and barely got herself under control before the Colonel in question appeared in front of them. Steven Caldwell was in superior shape for his age and she had to admit that if she liked older men—he might have tripped her trigger. Bald could be… very attractive. She spared Laura Cadman a glance as the soldier executed a perfect salute and held it until the Colonel returned the salute and a small nod.
Steven Caldwell stood at the end of Evan Lorne’s bed, a frown on his face. “Dr. Keller.”
“How is our Major?”
“Much better today and I expect to take him out of ICU within the hour. He’s pushed through the transition phase and we are positive he’ll make a full recovery.”
“I read your report and your assessment of Dr. Banks as well as your own actions during this…” Steven refocused his attention on Evan. “He’s a good soldier. To think that we nearly lost him because…”
“I know, sir.” Jennifer motioned him out of the room. “Perhaps my office?”
She took a deep breath as the Colonel followed her out. He outranked John Sheppard but had little authority over Atlantis and had only acted as the military leader for the city for short periods in John’s absence. She glanced only briefly at Laura as he lead Caldwell away from Evan and into the privacy of her office.
“Excuse me?” Jennifer flushed.
“Look, it’s no secret that Dr. Banks is an asshole. He’s been on the Daedalus an hour and I’m ready to space him. I’ve read the reports you and your head nurse filed and Colonel Sheppard reported to me personally upon my arrival about the incident he witnessed. Did you and he have any physical altercations that I need to be aware of?”
Jennifer raised one eyebrow. “Really, Colonel, if we’d ever had a physical altercation you would be here to retrieve his body. You know that my husband would never tolerate someone laying hands on me.”
Steven flashed her a grin. “Well, there is that.”
“Not very funny, actually. I’m rather attached him and I’d hate to have to visit him in a prison on Earth or more to the point – lose him completely because we both know he wouldn’t go to Earth to stand trial for anything.” Jennifer crossed her arms and pursed her lips. “So, no. Dr. Banks has always spewed venom out of his mouth. Last night was the first time he’s ever lost it completely and in front of witnesses.”
“Anyone else on the medical staff have a problem with your authority?”
“If they do they’ve never said so.”
“General O’Neill will not be pleased with this. You know your placement here in Atlantis was very important to him and to have…” Steven sighed. “It’s not a report I look forward to giving.”
“I’ve already sent a report in one of the data bursts to the SGC.” Jennifer offered with a smile. “So, it’ll be old news.”
“Old bad news.”
“I did manage to bring you a new doctor with the current crew replacements—but that still leaves you short staffed since I’m taking Banks home with me.”
“We’ll make do, Colonel.”
“Yes. Of course.” He shoved his hands into his jumpsuit pockets.
– – – –
John sat back in his chair and played the only card Steven Caldwell had left him. “It wouldn’t be the first time something or someone has infiltrated the Daedalus.” He hated watching the color drain from the man’s face… hated reminding him of all the time he’d spent a virtual hostage in his own body while a Go’uld nearly killed them all using his hands, his words, and his body. “What I do know is that we have a data leak and up until the point that we stupidly brought home a Wraith tracker—our location was a secret.”
“What does McKay say?”
“Rodney has a team checking the gate – since the new Midway station came online we’ve been sending very regular data bursts back to the SGC. Both he and Carter agree that it is very unlikely that the system has been compromised again. So, one of us has a problem. We exchange a lot of crew back and forth – we both have new people on staff.”
“Granted.” Caldwell stood up and started to pace back and forth across John’s ridiculously small office. “Why is your office so small?”
“Hard chairs, limited space.” John raised one eyebrow when Steven turned to look at him. “It really lowers how much time anyone is willing to spend complaining to me and I work with a lot of obscenely intelligent people who can quite easily spend an hour telling me exactly how they feel complete with flow charts and PowerPoint presentations.”
Caldwell laughed despite his efforts not to. “It’s a mystery.”
“No one can figure how you haven’t spaced half the scientists in this city. Especially McKay.”
“They are my scientists. They do what needs to be done, keep this city afloat often times with what seems like a case of double A batteries, and have saved my ass even when I didn’t honestly deserve it and all they ask for is real coffee, power bars, and unlimited access to Dr. Who DVDs. As for McKay—there isn’t anyone better for his job and his geek squad would string me up if I spaced him.” John held up a tablet PC. “Speaking of, he’s already set up a procedure for searching the Daedalus’ computer systems for the data bleed. If it’s a person—we have a different set of problems of course so let’s hope it’s just a transmitter of some kind.”
– – – –
“I’m not strong.”
Jennifer jerked glanced toward Evan Lorne’s face. “You’re one of the strongest men I’ve ever known.”
“I should have left him alone – he didn’t deserve the complication of getting involved with me. They’ll throw me out of the service if we’re ever found out – it would hurt but I’d survive it. I don’t know what they’d do to him – if they took him from Atlantis I think it would kill him.”
“I think at this point he’d tell you not to be stupid.” Jennifer slid her fingers to his wrist and glanced at her watch. “He’s a very fortunate man to have someone as strong and true to love him. You accept him for everything he is and absolutely no one could ask for more.”
“He’s up on the Daedalus with Rodney.” She smiled. “You know he can’t be trusted not to insult someone to the point of madness – so protective detail was in order.”
– – – –
“There.” Rodney paused. “Yes. Here. We’ve found it. Shit. Fuck. Goddamn it.”
“Is one of his PhD’s in cursing?”
John ignored Caldwell and watched Rodney scoot away from the computer in front of him and go to another. He’d seen him do it often enough—more than once with three laptops at once. He knew that face. “Do we need to evacuate the ship?”
The tight, softly asked question wiped the room of any levity.
“Seriously? I have no idea. Cadman. Cadman would be good to have right now.” He flipped around one laptop so they could see the scan he’d just completed. “Because who ever planted the transmitter didn’t want us to find it without burning our fingers.”
John wanted to ignore him. Wanted to ignore that Rodney had just asked him to bring Laura, of all people, on board ship to check out what very much looked like a bomb. Instead, he tapped his ear piece. “Lt. Cadman, what is your location?”
“I’m in the infirmary helping Major Lorne with his incident report as ordered.”
“Please stand by for immediate transportation to the Daedalus.” John tightened his fingers into a fist to stop the tremor that raced down his hand.
“Where is it, Rodney?”
“Two levels down, section four, panel six. She’ll need my help with the panel.”
– – – –
Laura knew John’s face as well as her own. Years under his command had given her glimpses; but the personal connection she’d gained with him in the last few weeks had opened that world up considerably. So, when she was ‘beamed’ into an engineering section of the Daedalus right in front of him – she saw it all on his face. Duty. Panic. Fury. Distraction.
“Rodney found a bomb.”
She immediately turned to Rodney who was very carefully working on panel. “McKay, back off that you don’t know if it’s connected to a trigger mechanism.” She tapped her comm as she grabbed Rodney and pulled him back. “Mills. I need my kit prepped—haul ass and report to Colonel Caldwell when you’re assembled. Don’t be stupid, McKay getting your face blown off would not add to weight to your smartest man in two galaxies theory.”
“So not a theory,” Rodney snapped. “I’ve proof.”
She snatched the tool from his hand and slid under the console on her back. “How did you find this?”
“Genius,” he muttered. “I located the transmitter. It’s ingenious really—it doesn’t pulse automatically just when the Daedalus is in subspace. Michael must have a communication’s network set up to receive the signals when the ship is travelling with sublight engines. It’s why he had to use a different method to find Atlantis. After all, if it was broadcasting while it was in orbit—the city might have picked it up.”
“Great.” She held out her hand and wiggled her fingers. “Light.”
“What? Am I your servant?” Rodney demanded handing her pen light.
“Tell us what you see Lt.” John kicked Rodney’s leg with enough force to make the scientist stop grumbling.
“I want to probe the panel casing before I open it, Sir.” Laura was a little breathless. “Check on Mills and my kit. Transport the kit only, please. I don’t need another set of hands in here.”
John shared a look with Steven Caldwell who nodded and stepped back to handle the communications and the transport. He chose to focus on her boots – standard issue combat, shiny with polish, and small. One was flat on the floor, for balance he assumed and the other leg was stretched out and her the tip of her foot was bobbing back and forth as if she was listening to music only she could hear.
Rodney reached out and grabbed the large black bag as soon as it materialized. He unzipped it and pulled out several tool kits without speaking. Setting out a scanner and then a series of probes, he found a very thin piece of metal that looked more like a needle that anything else and put it in Laura’s out stretched hand.
Then he flipped on the scanner. “Naquadah is confirmed. Weapons grade.” His gaze lifted to Caldwell and Sheppard. “Answer to your previous question: Yes, you should evac everyone to the city. If this thing goes—it’ll take the whole ship with it.”
“Positive about that?” John asked carefully.
“The engine room is beneath us,” Caldwell said.
“Then get your people off this thing,” John murmured.
John looked at him and then back to Rodney and Laura. “My people. I stay.”
Her foot stopped bouncing.
– – – –