“He’s not talking.”
John nodded, his gaze flicking to the computer that held the security footage of the man who only answered to the name ‘Sethur’. It was quite disgusting. “Human?”
“Yes, but not from Earth.” Carson Beckett sighed. “I wasn’t sure at first but after spending time his DNA results I’m fairly positive that he is from the planet Hoff.”
“Great.” John glared at the screen. “How about I play Quiz Master?”
“Someone is been watching too much MI-5,” Laura grinned when he looked in her direction. “Season three is my personal favorite.”
“Season one for me…” He looked back to the computer. “We need to know a lot more than we do now that’s for certain. Carson, do you ever remember seeing him among Michael’s men?”
“No, but I had little contact with anyone but Michael during my captivity unless he wanted me to work in the lab. He had a Genii scientist, a woman, who was so petrified all the time that she eventually killed herself. After that I was alone in the lab when he forced me to work. If I refused to work, he’d bring in a prisoner… people I think he kept for experimentation and just kill them right in front of me. But this man, I’ve never seen before.”
“Sirs, unless you have an objection?”
O’Neill and Landry exchanged looks but both gave the nod to John.
“Oh wait, did you want the research on Sethur?” Daniel Jackson started to thumb through a notebook in front of him.
“Thanks but Cadman got it off the Internet for us earlier.”
Laura smiled when Daniel looked towards her stunned. “The Archangel Michael and the fallacy of the Promise land, Journal of Religion, 1992. Dr. Daniel Jackson. It was a great article.”
Daniel laughed. “Thanks, I got a lot of flack for it.”
“Well, you did run around telling people that aliens built the pyramids for years before we made that information classified,” Jack admonished with a grin.
* * * *
The man looked dead inside. It wasn’t a surprise, most of Michael’s followers did look dead from the inside out as if he’d killed their soul when he’d fucked with their genetic code.
“How long have you been on Earth?”
The man looked contently at him. “I remember you, John Sheppard.”
“From Hoff or maybe from this morning when you and your men kidnapped us?” John rolled an unopened bottle of water between his hands and leaned back in the chair. “Here’s the thing… the people around here are pretty damned irritated to find you on Earth. So irritated that you probably won’t ever see the light of day again. I’m not taking you back to Atlantis and you’ll never see your so-called master again. It’s over for you.”
“I knew I would not return home when I agreed to take this place in my Father’s vision.”
“Through him I was reborn… he is my father and I’ve done his work on this planet just as I’ve done his work on other planets. It is His will that I should do this. His will.”
“Where did you learn about the origins of Michael and his son, Sethur?”
“From the woman… the Lantean woman. Her name was Eliza. My Father garnered much information from her. Much. She was valuable to our project but proved to be more frail than the doctor. Much more frail.”
“Were there any more Lanteans?”
“Just her and the doctor. You took the doctor, Michael was most displeased. Took him, spoiled him for our purposes. He was worthless to us…worthless.”
“How long have you been on Earth?”
“Sixteen of your months.”
“How did you get an identity?” An identity so good that the FBI hadn’t even questioned it.
“I was able to trade technology for money upon my arrival. It is amazing what the people of your world will give over for technology. Within weeks I had all the funds I needed to set my plan in motion. Eliza said that there were parts of your world more primitive than others and it would be easy to pray on the very religious. It was… child’s play. All men want power and when I gave them dominion over the women in the sect… they were more than willing to follow the word of my Lord Michael.”
“Did you put a bomb on the Daedalus?”
“Not personally, but it was decided that Atlantis would be less of a threat if the ship was no longer in the picture. The bomb was placed when we had the transmitter installed. It provided you too much support in both defense and security… it made your relationship with your home planet more solid. Without it, Michael believed that Atlantis would make for easier prey.”
“Who installed the bomb and transmitter?”
Sethur smiled. “Gabriel.”
“Is Gabriel on Atlantis now?”
“Yes, of course, he’s been there for months.” Sethur’s eyes cleared slightly as if he was starting to realize where he was and what he was saying. “But, I won’t reveal him – his mission is too important. Too important.”
“Michael has never been here himself?”
“No, he has far more important things to do.”
Like take over the Pegasus galaxy, John thought sourly. “You’re being awful friendly here, Sethur.”
“There is no need to worry; none of you can stop a god.”
Great. It was, John thought, absolutely fucking perfect.
* * * *
“So Michael has turned one of us.” They were in an office off the main conference room and John was pacing a hole in the floor. “We need to review all of the mission logs for the past two fucking years and figure out when it happened.”
“It happened before Teyla even got pregnant… the spy probably got the information to Michael about the location of New Athos,” Laura murmured. “The whole thing.. from the very beginning.”
“The woman that he spoke of?”
“Dr. Eliza Cole, she was an anthropologist.” John looked towards Carson. “She was working with you on the turned Wraith… Michael cloned her too?”
“I never saw her,” Carson closed his eyes. “I never saw her.”
“Is she still on Atlantis?” Jack O’Neill asked.
John shook his head. “The original was beaten to death on a mission six months ago… the mission where we almost lost Rodney.” He cleared his throat. “I sent her body home sometime ago with Major Cain.”
“I remember.” General Hank Landry cleared his throat. “My daughter didn’t even let me see her body.”
“It was bad.” John admitted. “It was very bad. She was beaten to death in front of Dr. McKay because he wouldn’t answer questions about Atlantis. Beaten so bad that she started to ramble in Ancient and Egyptian… from what Rodney was able to translate later—she pretty much revealed everything she knew about Atlantis and our mission but she did it in a language that none of the captors spoke.”
“So her clone would have likely broken down under torture and revealed anything they wanted to know,” Carson finally said. “It explains why he never pressured me for information… never tried to make me do anything but his research. If he needed me healthy for that there was no need to torture me for information he could get out of the lass instead.”
“It’s not your fault,” John said softly.
“No?” Carson asked. “I made that bastard, John. I made him.”
“We all made him,” Jack interrupted before John could respond. “Every one of us who agreed to the research and the testing. We are all responsible for it.”
“I should have killed him when I had the chance and by the Ancients I had plenty of fucking chances.” Ronon offered John a half-hearted glare but it was obvious his anger was directed within.
“We can play that game all day long,” Jennifer finally said softly. “But it’s pointless. He’s a monster, a vicious combination of everything hateful about humanity and everything that makes the Wraith practically perfect killers. He has no compassion, is blinded by ambition, and the only thing we can all agree to is that the next one of us who sets eyes on the bastard has the obligation to the entire Universe to blow his brains out.”
John stared for a moment and then nodded. “Agreed.”
“We’ll continue to search on this end for the source of the naquadah and we’ll do our own personnel search to cross reference with yours.” Jack stood. “The IOA would like a meet with you Colonel Sheppard and then we’ll be prepared to send you back through the gate. You will have to endure quarantine on Midway for the trip back unless something catastrophic happens and Richard recalls you.”
* * * *
“We want you to know that the job you’re doing on Atlantis is imperative and we take a great deal of pride in how you’ve grown as a leader.”
John stared at the chairman of the IOA for one long hard moment. She was a beautiful woman, even in her mid-fifties, and had a fantastic British accent. “I’m the man the Air Force trained me to be, ma’am. I serve my country, my planet and I’m really quite content with my role on Atlantis.”
“Good we are glad to hear that.” The six people he had been beamed down to France of all places to talk to smiled as if he’d just made their whole fucking month. He desperately wanted to contact the Apollo and demand retrieval but that would be cowardly. “And Mr. Woolsey? Has his placement been difficult.”
“Mr. Woolsey has grown into his role on Atlantis and is passionate about our mission. The scientists have all grown quite used to him – which is good because they hate change. They are mutli-degreed individual think tanks and frankly the lack of continuity when it comes to the leadership of the expedition had been something of a problem. They chaffed under military command, though Colonel Carter did an admirable job and her understanding of our scientific mission was a bonus. Mr. Woolsey has, on the other hand, developed a role not unlike the role Elizabeth Weir had with both the military and the civilian populations of the Atlantis. He’s strong minded, thorough, and not someone that can be bullied.” John frowned aware that he’d said a lot more than he ever meant to. He also couldn’t believe he was defending the same man he’d been ready to nearly murder upon his arrival on Atlantis.
“I see.” The woman, whose name he’d already forgotten, cleared her throat. “You were very vocal about his placement in the beginning.”
“My people need stability – both the military and the civilians. No matter what you chose to call our mission on Atlantis we are fighting in a war and often clear, strong leadership is the only constant they have. It’s cold comfort, ma’am, but it is all we have.”
“Understood, Colonel.” She sat back in her chair. “And Dr. McKay? How is Dr. McKay under the new leadership?”
“Dr. McKay has learned over the years to adapt to new situations far more than many of the scientists on the mission because of his field experience.”
“We’ve all come to realize that Dr. McKay is an asset on Atlantis… a valuable asset that must be both indulged and protected. After a careful review of all of your reports from the mission, we do realize that Atlantis would have been long destroyed if it weren’t for either you or him.”
John cracked a smile. “Does that mean you’re going to give me my weapons research team?”
She smiled back. “It’s in committee.”
John sighed and offered her his best ‘we come in peace, please don’t kill us, and we’d like to trade’ smile. “Wait… aren’t you the committee?”
“We are the governing body of the IOA but we are not the entire IOA. We’re long past individual representatives.” She inclined her head and studied him. “But you know that, Colonel Sheppard, you know that very well. I’m sure Richard keeps you well informed of our little dealings.”
“Your little dealings impact lives, so yes you can say that I’m informed.”
She nodded. “Thank you for your recent mission on Earth and the work you’ve done to stop an incursion on our own world. You and your team will be aptly rewarded.” She laughed at the face he made. “I realize that you consider us throwing money you somewhat obscene, but please understand that it is simply our way. And also, Colonel, we do hope that one day you’ll be able to retire to Earth and loll about your golden years with the money we give you.”
There had been a time when he would have shuddered at the thought… would have laughed off her assumption that he would actually reach old age. Now, his mind is full of a red-headed woman with a full mouth and bright blue eyes and he could very much imagine growing old with her. He was so screwed.
* * * *
Even the new Midway station had limited quarters. So they’d found themselves shoved into one room with four half beds that were only moderately larger than the beds on Atlantis.
“This sucks.” Ronon crossed his booted feet and looked around the room. “I mean, seriously, they can’t expect us to spend twenty-four fucking hours in here.”
They all three looked at him and then John cleared his throat. “You’re grounded from Rodney. I mean it.”
Jennifer laughed and crawled gracefully astride her prone husband. She sat back on his thighs and eyed him. “You have been spending a lot of time with Rodney.”
“Yeah, well, he’s got this thing.”
“Oh yeah, what thing?”
“He rambles mostly… about stupid rules, big gay love… all sorts of things that he apparently can’t say to you know who so I have to follow him around the south pier and listen to him.”
“Big gay love?”
“That’s his description, swear.” He grinned then. “Then I make him listen to me while I bitch about my wife.”
“She’s horrible, right? Your wife,” Jennifer asked with a grin and a wiggle of her eyebrows. “Doesn’t let you go on suicide missions or fight marines in the gym until you can barely stand, and gives you regular mind-blowing sex that makes you babble in a different language. It’s travesty.”
“Yeah, totally ruined my alien barbarian image… one that I’d spent years perfecting.”
John laughed. “I miss it, really. It was advantageous. A lot of the more timid residents of Atlantis would actually avoid the mess hall while we ate… now that they all think you’re tamed… I can’t even eat Jell-o in peace.” He rolled to his side on the bed he’d commandeered upon entering the barracks and smirked. “A different language?”
“Don’t tease him,” Laura murmured from her bed and yawned. “And no talking about sex.”
John sighed and cast the security camera in the room and a glare. “Yeah, Christ, and no having sex either. The tapes would probably end up duplicated all over the SGC.”
Jennifer slid off Ronon’s thighs with frowned. “Okay, yeah, this seriously fucking sucks. Twenty-four hours?”
Laura laughed as John switched off the single lamp they’d left on. “Don’t even think about it… the damn thing probably has a night-vision setting.”
Everyone else in the room sighed.
“Twenty-four fucking hours,” Ronon muttered in the dark.
* * * *
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