“I want to keep the Daedalus in orbit while we conduct a thorough investigation into everything. We know that Harding served on board the Daedalus before he was put on Atlantis.” John leaned back in his chair in the conference room. “Considering recent events, we may have to rethink what he was doing that night and that maybe we took the situation the wrong way.”
“You think Keller was the target all along and that he used the data thing as a ruse incase he was discovered?” Steven Caldwell leaned forward. “What exactly could anyone gain from killing her? Granted, her loss would hurt the medical department but it isn’t like she couldn’t be replaced by another doctor.” He held up a hand when John glared. “Sheppard, seriously, think about it.”
“I think it’s time we ask Dr. Keller why she was allowed to come to Atlantis at all.” Richard shrugged. “Let’s be honest, gentlemen, Atlantis is the ass end of the Air Force and the Marines. We get scientists no one can control, officers who think orders are more like guidelines, and yet we are gifted with a prominent trauma surgeon with a brand new practically empty personnel file. She has no siblings, recently lost her only living parent to a long illness, and unless we want to believe she was tossed off the Earth for being the unluckiest woman alive—we have to assume something is going on.”
Put like that, John could hardly disagree. “General O’Neill recruited her personally.”
“Yes, her and few others. She did a medical rotation in a Air Force hospital and we routinely do gene testing on all contractors that rotate through looking for the gene. She wanted no part of it so we deployed the secret weapon.”
“O’Neill is the secret weapon?” John asked with a grin.
“What ever works, Colonel.”
– – – –
“The ‘bug’ was set to gather data in small bursts and send them out when the ship used it’s sublight engines. It did this in a series of microbursts. I’ve managed to decipher all of the microbursts and the bug was programmed to hit the following key words: Sheppard, Teyla, ATA gene, Keller, ZPM, SGC, Earth, Wraith, and Michael. It crawled everything—personal communications, supply lists, mission reports. When it found these keywords the contents of the file were culled and sent.” Rodney never looked up from his lap top as he spoke, his fingers moving continuously despite the fact that he was the very center of attention. “It went active three days after Harding joined the Daedalus crew.”
“Did he gain access to the Alpha site location?” Caldwell asked in a deceptively cool tone.
“Yes, we’ll definitely want to move that ASAP. I’ve got Radek and one of the new idiots working on the shields, Miko is working on a new encryption routine for our communications grid, and there is still nothing on the long range sensors. The buoys are almost ready to go so I need four jumpers and semi-competent people to fly them for my alert system to be deployed.”
“Lt. Cadman.” John turned to her. “The device itself?”
Laura picked up a small remote and activated the view screen in front of the room. “These are the scans we took of the explosive before and during the process of removal. You’ll see that while the bomb itself was quite simple and deadly; the trigger mechanism was frankly a work of art. While it could have been beamed out of the ship in it’s entirety—doing so upon discovery would have severed main power connections for sublight, life support, and the shields. Essentially destroying the Daedalus as either one of those connections in overload would done the trick. All three together—no one could have stopped the whole thing from blowing and that makes our situation officially FUBAR.”
“What do you mean?”
It didn’t occur to her that any man in the room wouldn’t know what FUBAR meant so she continued. “It means that the person that designed this bomb knows Asgard tech like he works with it everyday, so he has a very high level of government clearance, was professional enough to not get caught when it probably took several hours to build, and he has a background in demolitions. He fancies himself an artist and he signed his work.” She flipped through several pictures and found the one she wanted. “I mean he literally signed his work.” There was symbol carved in the side of the Naquadah. “I did some research in the Ancient database and found it to be a Wraith word. Roughly translated, the symbol means ‘who is like a god’.”
Her gaze drifted over the faces each of them – saw the dawning horror in each of their gazes before she continued. “Which, for the sake of the report and record, basic meaning of the Hebrew name Michael is ‘who is like God’.” The moment was a little overwhelming so she stopped and took a drink of water from the bottle she’d brought with her. “The naquadah itself is from Earth. We mark all of our naquadah with a unique chemical signature one that I found in the scrapings I took from the weapon. I’ve sent the schematics and scans back to the SGC for analysis to see if they’ve seen something similar themselves on Earth. Very few people who make bombs fail to leave a signature – so if he or she has done this before we’ll know.”
“You act like you don’t think it was Harding.” Rodney glared at her. “Surely it was.”
“I think Harding is convenient and I don’t like convenient.” She raised an eyebrow when Rodney’s mouth dropped open. “Accepting convenient things is lazy.”
His eyes got flinty which she found she kind of liked on him. “Okay.”
“Besides Harding was a sloppy idiot and if he designed this beautiful piece of destruction I’ll eat my brand new shiny 9mm Glock and the laser site I had especially designed for it.”
“If I didn’t somewhat agree with you that he was in fact a sloppy idiot I’d make it my mission in life to make you eat that weapon—bullets and all.” Rodney went back to his laptop, his big hands moving with the precision and grace of a musician. “Okay – so we’ve got a new internal threat, a possible Wraith/Apocalypse cult on Earth who have members so powerful they can commit acts of terrorism here, and I still have to find you a naquadah mine for your very own.” He paused, his face suddenly pale. “Did I really just say that?”
“Nothing we weren’t all thinking,” John murmured. “How long has Michael known the location of Earth, Rodney?”
“The first microburst from the Daedalus was sixteen months ago.”
– – – –
“Spies, mutant aliens, political plots, space vampire cults, everyone is fucking everyone…” John let his head fall against the wall for the third time. “It’s like being stuck in a really bad 80’s movie.” His head hit the wall for the sixth time and then stopped. “Right. Brain damage is going to help, John.”
“Talking to yourself is a problem; I’m pretty sure.”
John turned and glared at each person in the room individually. Finally settling on Keller. “Why is really Lorne still in this isolation room? Is there something about his condition that you haven’t told us?”
“Because it’s private.” Her gaze flicked to Rodney and then she glared back at John. “Because I’m in charge. Because I said so.”
John flashed his first genuine smile in over ten hours and crossed his arms. “I like you when you’re all pithy like this.”
“It could be my new ‘norm’.” She shrugged out of her uniform jacket and tossed it on the bed as she walked to the machine next to Evan’s bed. She checked a few readings, pulled the tablet PC from the end of the bed that housed his chart. “Things look good. Your last blood panel shows that the Hoffan drug has done it’s job and is no longer active in your blood stream. I’ll take you off the intravenous feed tomorrow and order you a very light meal – I don’t want you to risk throwing up with all of the incision.” She pulled a cart over to the bed. “Well, Sheppard, let’s hear your plan while I change his bandages.”
John frowned at her. “You’re transversing from pithy to bossy – but that’s okay – only because your husband can kick my ass.” He watched with shrewd eyes as she displaced the hospital gown Evan had been forced to wear and let it fall to his lap completely.
“Nice.” Laura grinned from her place on the foot of the bed.
Evan smirked. “Lt.”
“Hey, I’m off duty and you’re so off duty and so pretty.” She winced when nimble fingers tugged at her hair as Rodney walked by and took up his chair beside the bed. “Not cool, McKay. I’m just admiring your good taste.”
“Okay. So the plan.” Evan’s gaze jerked to his CO for an escape and found John glaring at Cadman. “Sir.”
“The plan. Right. Mr. Woolsey has agreed to suspend gate travel and Colonel Caldwell will keep the Daedalus in orbit while a thorough investigation is conducted. The Major will help with that investigation as soon as he is able and it will include personnel interviews with every member of the crew and all the members of the expedition. Ronon, Keller, Cadman, and I are going to Earth through Midway.”
“What about me?” McKay asked with a frown in Cadman’s direction.
“I figured you’d want to stay close to home.” John’s gaze drifted between Evan and Rodney. “And, the Major and the Colonel will need you for the investigation. Cadman is going because of her experience with the bomb and the very real likelihood that there will be more. Ronon is going because I say so and the doctor is going because he won’t go without her. And for the record, I’m only explaining myself because you haven’t slept in God knows how long and you’re afraid the coffee from the Daedalus is poisoned.”
“But you’ll bring some back with you?” Rodney questioned with a glare. “And not the cheap stuff.”
“Rescue Teyla, Carson, their baby and buy coffee, a case of Snicker bars, the new seasons of Dr. Who and Wormhole Extreme, a new set of Farscape DVDs because some asshole in Biology still hasn’t returned mine, an Xbox 360 Elite, Halo 3, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto IV, The Essential Dan Fogelberg CD, the “Walk the Line” movie that I’ve requested ten times in two years, and execute the complete eradication of a little Wraith cult. I made a ‘To Do’ list,” John explained coolly.
“Dan Fogelberg?” Evan asked incredulous.
“I could set up an I-Tunes account that we can pre-select…” Rodney raised one eyebrow. “You could just hook it up and let it download the whole time you are there. I’ll send out an email and get everyone’s requests.”
“Yeah.” John glared at him. “Don’t forget Dan.”
“I won’t.” Rodney promised.
“Iron Man,” Evan offered from the bed.
“Movie or game?”
“Both.” Evan frowned. “Seriously. How can you even ask?”
– – – –
Jennifer ran her finger over Ronon’s shoulder holster. “I really like this look on you. I know you don’t feel comfortable leaving your gun behind.”
Ronon grimaced. “Just keep yours where we stashed it and wear the Earth side arm.” He touched her face. “Despite our purpose—I’m looking forward to being on your world with you for a change.”
She smiled and his heart stuttered a little. It always did; maybe it always would and he found he was okay with that.
“How many knives?” Sheppard asked conversationally as he came to a stop beside them and dropped a duffle bag beside the single one they had packed.
“22.” Ronon tucked her hair behind her ear, content to look at her as he spoke. “And 4.”
Laura hurried down the steps with a bag, dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and a leather jacket. “It’s weird being out of uniform.”
John flashed her a small smile. “Looks good on you.”
“You cleared with O’Neill for us to skip the quarantine process?” Ronon asked.
“Yes, but we have to get a full physical on arrival on Midway,” John muttered. “Dial it up, Chuck.”
They all four stiffened as the wormhole engaged.
“To Oz?” Laura asked softly.
“To Oz,” John confirmed.
House of Cards