Reading Time: 19 Minutes
Title: The Chair
Author: Keira Marcos
Series title: The Sentinels of Atlantis
Series Order: 2
Fandom: Sentinel/Stargate Fusion
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard (many secondary pairings)
Warnings: explicit sex, filthy language, lack of respect for canon
Summary: The Expedition comes to Atlantis with the hopes of finding the past and understanding their origins. The city control Chair wakes a part of Radek Zelenka that should have remained dormant and the consequences ripple throughout the entire expedition.
* * * *
“Okay, let’s take stock.” John slid into a chair in the large conference room they’d discovered just off the gate room.
Rodney looked at him but didn’t smile. They were all so beyond smiling at this point. “We are under water, the shield is failing because we don’t have enough power to run it effectively, half the city has already flooded because of it, and the ZPM is almost depleted. The naquadah generators we brought with us aren’t going help on the shield front. In short, we’re fucked.”
It was concise and horrible, just what he’d expected from his Guide. John leaned back in the chair and mentally reached out for the city. They’d discovered that the lack of power didn’t make for the best connection but the city was definitely talking to them on some level. It reacted to their desires and needs pretty much effortlessly—opening doors and turning on lights as requested with just thoughts.
“Then we need to get her off the bottom of the ocean.” Vala leaned forward and looked at Rodney. “This is a flying city, right? The hologram said it was once on the surface of this planet before they sank it to hide from their great enemy. So, if it can be brought down here—surely it can be brought back up.”
Rodney stared at her for a minute and then tilted his head. “I’ve always enjoyed your quick mind. That is exactly what we have planned. The search for the control chair is under way. I’m so glad you’re back.”
She smiled. “So am I.”
“Good, in the mean time,” John started as he got his Guide’s attention. “There isn’t enough power to dial Earth but can we dial a different planet in this galaxy?”
“Because if this city is going to be flooded I’d like to make sure we aren’t in it when it happens.” John raised an eyebrow. “Just in case things don’t work out like we hope.”
“Okay, I’ll get on their system and see if I can’t find a list of planets that are habitable.” Rodney stood. “But the information will be ten thousand years old, John.”
“Some information is better than none.” John stood and looked towards Mitchell. “Cameron, pick your team. Lorne, you’ll make sure everyone is getting settled as much as possible and no one is darting around the city making our problems worse.”
* * * *
“How much time do we have?”
“A couple of hours if we’re careful.” Rodney looked toward his Sentinel with a sigh. “We should have waited until we could bring a ZPM with us; it was foolish to think that it wouldn’t be necessary.”
“For all we know there are a bunch of ZPMS in a storage room on the other side of the city,” John responded dryly. “We just haven’t found them, yet.”
Rodney snorted. “Radek and his team are six floors down but no luck so far on the control chair. It has to be close; it wouldn’t make sense to put it very far away from the control room or the gate.”
“I have complete confidence in you, Rodney. I know everything is going to be fine.”
“But no pressure,” Rodney said dryly.
“No, no pressure.” John pressed a kiss against his forehead. “None at all.”
* * * *
“Rodney, we have located the control chair. Level seven, section five of the central spire.” Radek entered the chair room; his stomach in knots. “It is much like the chair at the Ancient Outpost… same but different somehow.”
“Does it have power?”
“Let me check.” Radek moved forward and knelt down beside the chair, pulled out his scanner, and braced himself with one hand on the arm of the chair. The entire room lit up and the chair started to him. “Yes, it came on when I touched it.”
“Well, stop touching it. Power is limited!”
Radek pulled his hand back and light bled out from the chair and slid over him in a brilliant display. “It’s příliš mnoho. Do prdele!”
The two Marines that had been with him started shouting even as he fell.
“We have a medical emergency in the chair room!”
* * * *
“What did he say?” John demanded of Rodney as they hurried down the stairs. “You speak Czech, Rodney. Concentrate. What did he say?”
“It’s too much. Fuck,” Rodney snapped. “That’s what he said.”
Jennifer Keller beat them to the chair room by seconds and was already yelling out orders to the two nurses that were with her. They’d spread Radek out onto the floor and were checking his vitals. Jennifer started shaking the moment she put her hands on him.
“Oh, God, we have a problem.” Her gaze jerked immediately to Sheppard’s. “The chair did something to him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Rodney, come. Come touch him,” Jennifer demanded. She turned to the Marines. “What happened?”
“Dr. Zelenka took his hand off the chair and the chair… light flew out of it and hit him. He said something that I didn’t understand and then he passed out.” Stackhouse glanced towards the small scientist. “He didn’t look like it hurt him. Honestly, he seemed more surprised.”
Rodney ran his hands over Radek’s face and swallowed hard. “We need to get him upstairs. John I need you in the chair and so we can surface before the shield fails.”
“What did the chair do to him?”
“It activated his dormant ATA gene and in doing so woke his Sentinel gene as well.” Rodney took a deep breath. “This is – not good. He’s in bad shape.” He looked towards Jennifer. “We need to know if anyone else on the expedition has a dormant ATA gene so we can prepare ourselves for this.”
John slid into the chair and the entire room lit up, negating the need for the flashlights everyone had in hand. “Oh.”
“John?” Rodney demanded.
“The city…” John took a deep breath. “She’s sorry about Radek. She thought she was helping him. She won’t do it again without permission.”
“Tell her we need air to breathe and we don’t have gills.” Rodney snapped. “We need to be on the surface.”
“Yeah, she knows. She needs you… she needs you to cut power to a few systems that are taking too much. Then she’ll be able to lift us off the ocean floor.”
Rodney left Radek’s side reluctantly and went to the chair. He put his hand on John’s. “Have her show me.”
* * * *
“I’ve put him in a coma,” Jennifer admitted. “I didn’t have another choice. His senses are blown open. I’ve conferred with Dr. Wallace but there is little he can do to help him in this state. He can help with training later, of course.”
“It’s no wonder. He’s easily a level six.” John stared at Radek Zelenka and sighed. “Can we help him build shields while he’s unconscious?”
“No, but until Colonel Mitchell returns with Vala…” Jennifer tilted her head. “Wait, where is David Parrish?”
“He’s helping the rest of the scientists get settled in temporary quarters. We’re all doubling up until we know where’s it’s safe to wander.” Rodney frowned and then his mouth formed a very visible O. “Wow, okay, I can’t believe I didn’t even think of it.” He hit his radio. “Dr. Parrish, could you please come to the infirmary.”
David Parrish arrived a few minutes later, looking as tired and as exhausted as the rest of them. “I’ve managed to get everyone settled as you requested. The stress levels are high… but people are adjusting as well as can be expected considering our circumstances.” His gaze flicked to Radek’s still form and he frowned. “There is no improvement?”
“We need your help, actually. Dr. Zelenka’s dormant ATA gene was activated by the city’s control chair and as a result his Sentinel gene has surfaced as well.”
David’s eyes widened with shock and he slowly edged closer to the bed. “He must be suffering to have it come to him so late in life.”
“Yes.” Jennifer nodded. “I realize, David, that you never intended to bond…”
David eyes widened. “It’s not so much that I never intended on bonding—it’s just that often Sentinels are soldiers or cops and I’m not particularly…” He flushed and glanced towards John. “Men such as that intimidate me. I’ve never been comfortable around them enough for a Sentinel to offer me such a place in his life. They’ve always immediately noticed my situation and backed away because offending or pressuring a Guide of my level would be very bad. I’m also gay; so female Sentinels have never interested me at all.” He reached out and touched Radek’s hand. “He is suffering a great deal.”
“Yes.” Jennifer nodded.
“Just five senses though—but there is something else.”
“Yes.” John nodded. “It’s the same thing I have in the back of my head. I think it’s the city.”
David nodded. “Ah, I see. Of course, the city. In the past few hours, there has been a feeling inside me…I can’t really explain it.”
“We’re all feeling it,” Rodney admitted. “At least all the gene carriers as far as I can tell. No one seems to be adversely affected by it so I think it’s just the city trying to connect with us.”
“Yes.” David nodded. “He’s so unguarded right now – we all know that we could push into his mind and facilitate a bond without his consent but I would prefer, really, that he say yes or no.”
“We can help him build shields but only after he’s awake. The first few minutes are going to be fairly traumatic. We should wait until Vala is with us. It’s one of her better skills.” Jennifer checked her watch. “They should be back soon or at least calling in about now right?”
* * * *
“We met a group of people, Athosians. They refused to talk to us because their Guardian and his Consort were off-world. We were asked to return in a week.” Cameron unhooked his P-90. “I think their Guardian is actually a Sentinel, John.”
“Shit.” John’s eyes widened. “So we go back in a week.”
“Yeah.” Cameron took Vala’s gun when she offered it.
“So what’s going on; this place feels like a tomb?” Vala asked softly.
“The control chair – Atlantis helped us get off the ocean floor. The city is—hell I guess it’s sentient. Anyway, the city reached out to Radek Zelenka and activated his ATA gene. It also woke his dormant Sentinel gene. Atlantis has promised not to do it to anyone else without permission but the end result is that we have a 35 year old man in the infirmary with level 6 Sentinel senses online for the first time and he has no shields. Keller has him heavily sedated.”
“So you were waiting on Vala?” Cameron looked at his Guide. She was one of the few Guides they’d ever encountered who could facilitate the creation of a primary shield in the mind of an unguarded Sentinel.
“Yes.” John looked at Vala. “Provided that you are willing. I realize that you are not fully healed…”
“Nonsense,” Vala waved him off. “He needs our help? Then we do what is necessary to protect and shield our own. It is the least we can offer each other, John. The very least. We are alone out here and losing a resource like Radek – both his role as a scientist and his new gifts—would be damaging to our mission.”
* * * *
“When he wakes… you will all be tempted to reach out to him and seek to surround him with your own shields so that he can be safe. This won’t protect him. It is imperative that we allow him to erect his own barrier. It’s a natural, protective instinct that all Sentinels are born with and it will come to him. Often, among my own people — those with the gift awoke late in life. It normally came in times when our people were very much in need.” Vala slid up onto the end of Radek’s bed and inclined her head. “His mind is strong; so he can do this. There are others in the city, if this happened to them they would crack open like an egg and never function again.”
“Agreed,” John murmured. “So, if we can’t protect him? What do we do?”
“First we need to clear out all non-essentials. We don’t know what his hearing range will be so for now – just clear out this floor. Let’s get the lights down low as well; he won’t be able to handle that. I’ll be able to evaluate him as he wakes to see if he’s capable of creating his shield with my assistance. Otherwise, he will need a Guide immediately.” She looked to David. “You’ll accept him as yours?”
David swallowed. “If he’s willing.”
Vala smiled then. “On my world, David, such things are not decided by those that you call Sentinels. Do you know why?”
“No.” David shook his head.
“Because it is the Guide who truly chooses. While it is true that a Sentinel cannot bond with just anyone – it is the Guides willingness to accept them into their lives and their minds that facilitates the desire to bond. Because Sentinels are so rare on Earth; they find themselves in the position of choosing instead of the other way around. You have discouraged many Sentinels from choosing you.”
“Yes,” David admitted. “But, I never outright rejected one. I left such things to Dr. McKay.”
Rodney laughed softly. “I think your refusal to meet Sentinels and then avoidance of the ones you were required to meet sort of did that for you, David. If the Center had only known they needed to send someone non-military your way…”
David flushed. “Radek and I are good friends. It is my hope that we can endure our new circumstances. I hate to see him suffer so.”
“We all hope so.” Vala’s face tightened. “I’m not sure he will be able to function without a Guide. His senses are too advanced and he’ll never keep his sanity long enough to learn to fully protect himself without you.”
Jennifer paused near the front of the bed. “Are you ready to begin?”
She worked with the IV for several minutes in silence and then cleared her throat. “He’ll wake up gradually; I didn’t want him to come up abruptly. Hopefully the slow pace will help him deal with what is happening to him.”
John felt his panic first, it rippled through the room like the tide and every Guide in the room flinched. It was unnatural, he knew, for them not to reach out and help a Sentinel in such a state.
“Radek, I know you’re aware enough to hear me.” Vala tilted her head and stared at the scientist as he started to shake. “You’re a very smart man, you know what’s happening and why.”
Radek’s body jerked violently then and he started to mumble in his native language. The words really didn’t matter; his pain and his fear might as well have been another person in the room.
“What you’re experiencing is a bombardment of sensory input from the five advanced senses that have emerged. It’s why you can’t bear to open your eyes, why you feel as if your skin is ready to slide off your bones, why the sound of my voice is like torture, and why you can hear conversations taking place all over the city. The smells – good and bad are the reason you are gagging. The coffee you drank this morning is wallowing on your tongue. We cannot keep these things at bay for you because if we do—you’ll never be able to do it on your own.”
“Too much,” Radek bit out between clenched teeth. “Too much. Let me sleep.”
Rodney reached out and grabbed his hand then. “Sleep will not help you, Radek. Hiding in sleep will just prolong what must be done.”
“Do it. Do what must be done.” Radek’s knuckles whitened. “Whatever must be done, I accept it, Rodney. Please.”
She swallowed hard. “I… it’s a risk. We can continue to try to force him to build his own shield… but the longer he goes the more he’s at risk of insanity. Without proper shields in place he’ll never learn to guard his mind or dial down his senses.”
“It’s the city,” John finally murmured. “The city and probably all the technology in it is giving off enough of a buffer for him that his mind is not compelled to create a shield for him.”
David Parrish gently took Radek’s hand out of McKay’s and smiled when Rodney blinked and then backed away reluctantly.
“David.” Radek curled on his side toward the Guide. “You will help me.”
“Yes, Radek. I will help you,” David ran his finger tips over Radek’s forehead and down the side of his face. “He’ll need help on his end of things. Have any of you ever helped facilitate a bond?”
“Only a Sentinel with a fully developed empathic sense can do that – and John is the only one here,” Rodney looked at John and found his expression grim. “He’s had no training for it.”
John looked over Radek’s pain-filled features and then looked toward his Guide. “I’ll need you when it’s over.”
John picked up Radek’s free hand and then offered his other to David Parrish. “Let’s hope this comes naturally to us.”
David offered a small smile. “I have faith in you, Colonel.”
“Just don’t let me hurt you,” John murmured. “I’m more than capable of it and I’ve never shared my mind with someone like this outside of my own Guide.” He looked down at Radek. “You concentrate on him, do that nesting thing, and I’ll stimulate the pleasure center of his brain until the bonding connection kicks in. I’ll have to withdraw very quickly at that point—so be prepared.”
Radek’s mind wasn’t all that different from his own Guide – the intelligence, the structure of an orderly mind filled with the wonder of their surroundings and creative excitement of a man of a science. John let his own mind wrap around the man and Radek relaxed on the bed with a shudder of acceptance. John shivered and then relaxed when his own Guide slid up behind him and wrapped his arms around his waist. He relaxed back against Rodney. There, he thought, much better. He centered himself, focused on the task and not the allure of Radek’s beautiful mind.
Then it bloomed—hard and as fast as the bond he shared with his own Guide and he jerked free before it could pull him in. Rodney pulled away from the bed, his arms tight around him, and surrounded him with strong, emotion filled shields – sheltering him completely from everyone and everything on the city in an instant.
* * * *
“You did well.”
John curled into his Guide and took a deep breath. “They are a good match—both strong and intelligent but it could have been so much worse. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me that Atlantis…”
“How could it?” Rodney demanded. “Seriously?”
John sighed. “Is Jennifer running the tests?”
“Yes, she’s doing an entire run of DNA tests on everyone. Now that she can see what Atlantis activated in Radek’s… it’ll be easier for her to figure out who else on the base is in danger of being activated.” Rodney ran his hand through John’s hair and cupped the back of his neck. “Radek’s gifts and his mind are very attractive. You know that most Sentinels with the sixth sense can almost function as a Guide. Do not feel guilty that part of you was drawn to him in that way. It’s quite natural. I’ve encountered many Sentinels that drew me in; enthralled me with their passions and their intellect.”
“You’ve rarely encountered a Sentinel at that level either.”
“Fordham was close to my level and I never felt drawn to him.”
“Radek is a good man with a strong heart and a beautiful soul. Fordham is corrupt down to a cellular level. Trust me, it makes a difference.”
John nodded. “Okay. It was just a little stunning at the time.”
* * * *
“You are doing great.” David led Radek into the quarters they would share and carefully lowered the lights in the room to a better level. “Okay, you can open your eyes now.”
Radek shivered but did as he was instructed. His relief was apparent. “There is so much in my head.”
“So much more than any other Sentinel on the base has had to deal with upon the opening of their gifts. The city is a strong presence in your mind. I’ve requested that she withdraw from you as much as possible.” David touched his face. “Once we find a safe world to visit—you and I will go there so that we can be together just the two of us. It will help, I promise.”
Radek moved closer. “You’ve done so much already. I thought—I thought I was going to die when I woke up. I would have done anything to make it stop. I never wanted such things though I admit to being envious of the ATA gene that Rodney has. I wanted that—but I didn’t realize what would come with it.”
“I understand.” David maneuvered him to the bed and laid him down. “I’m here for you, Radek.”
“I’m sorry.” Radek curled into him as soon as Parrish joined him on the bed. “So, sorry. I know you did not want this. You never made any attempt to find a Sentinel and now one has been forced on you.”
“No.” David pressed his lips to his Sentinel’s forehead. “Such things can’t be forced; you may ask the others if you do not believe me. A Guide must be willing to bond with a Sentinel for the connection to be made. If we were not compatible or if I did not want you—it would have been impossible.” He pulled him closer and sighed when Radek snuggled deeper into the embrace. “I’ll be your refuge from all of this. I’ll hold back the things you can handle, lead you through the things you can, and teach you to live with the gift you’ve been given.”
“Not a gift,” Radek whispered.
“You will not always think that way.” David rubbed his back and then sighed. “The bond would be stronger if our connection was sexual. How do you feel about that?”
Radek stiffened momentarily. “I…huh… I’ve never been intimate with a man but I do not find the thought of being with you offensive.”
David laughed. “That is the bond talking—you’ll find it difficult to refuse me anything actually. I would not push this and I’m not demanding it but your gifts are powerful. A sexual bond would make us true partners and deepen the level on which I can help you.”
“You wish to fuck me?” Radek asked softly.
“No.” David pulled him closer. “I’d very much like you to fuck me but I should warn you that I’m a needy, bossy, and somewhat greedy bottom.”
Radek stared for a moment and then laughed. “Ah, yes, like Rodney? I’ve always thought that he was such.”
David bit down on his bottom lip and shook his head. “Once our bond deepens to its full measure I’ll think you’ll be surprised by the memory you find in my head that I was given to help the Colonel through a difficult time at the SGC.”
Radek lifted slightly and brushed his mouth over David’s and then he did it again—surprise drifting over his features. “Oh.”
Parrish smirked. “You will find, my dear friend, that you will enjoy everything about me. My taste, my voice, the way my skin feels against your skin, the scent of my skin – sweat, arousal—all if it will appeal to your basest nature.”
“You are saying I will crave you.”
“I find I can live with this,” Radek admitted.
* * * *
Rodney chuckled. “David Parrish is a very naughty man.”
John shifted his Guide on his side and sank his teeth into the tender ridge of his shoulder blade. “He really is. They are driving me insane. It isn’t like with the other couples.”
“No, not the same at all. The females in the others—temper their bond; weave gentle emotions through their interactions. But it’s raw between David and Radek.” Rodney arched into his Sentinel’s arms as John pressed his thick erection into his ass. “It’s like an echo of our own bond.”
“Yes.” John groaned. “Exactly that. God, Rodney.” He shuddered and turned them over so that he could press him into the mattress. “I need…”
“Yes, whatever you need,” Rodney spread his legs and clutched at the bedding underneath them. “Yes, John, just yes.”
John ran his hands down McKay’s arms, thread their fingers together, and started to rock deep and hard into him. “You’re everything. Everything I need.”
“God, John.” He let his forehead rest against the mattress. “More, please.”
“Shh.” John pressed a kiss between his shoulder blades. “Never beg me—you never have to beg. I’ll give you all I have.”
He shuddered and sank into the physical and emotional pleasure John offered—his body relaxing and clenching rhythmically against the penetration. His breath came in labored puffs as he strained for and fought against the orgasm that was ebbing closer and closer to the surface.
John pulled Rodney to his knees, pressed his face against his Guide’s back, and wrapped one calloused hand around his cock. “Come for me.”
John pushed in deep and hard—his own body bowing against the pleasure until they were both coming with savage, gut-wrenching jerks. “Fuck.”
* * * *
“Yes, I see.” John fingers clenched against the gel-pads of the control chair. “Atlantis believes that the information for creating ZPMs was stored elsewhere—not on the city—not even on this planet. But she has several locations we can search for additional power sources. Even if we had one or two that were at partial power she could function better than she currently is. If we had a full ZPM or two at half power, she could dial Earth and make drones for the Earth defense system.”
“She’s giving you gate addresses?”
“No, she’s given them to you. Check your computer.”
Rodney snorted a few seconds later. “Tricky old girl. Okay, looks like we have ten addresses. I’ll want to spend some time reading about them in the database so if she could send me information about their purposes that would be great. Even really old information is better than no information.”
John lifted his head and opened his eyes as the chair spun around. “We’re going to be fine, Rodney.”
McKay paused and focused entirely on his Sentinel. “I know you really believe that. I just don’t understand why. My second in command and the Chief Engineer of this city is devastated and barely functional after one of the most trying experiences of his life, the city is nearly out of power, and half the people we brought with us are so freaked out they can barely function. The ones that aren’t freaked out are too stupid to realize how fucked we are.”
John left the chair and went to his Guide with a sigh. “We’ll be fine because we have each other. I waited my whole life for you, Rodney, and there is nothing this galaxy can throw at us that I won’t face to keep you safe. Just have faith in me.”
Rodney let himself be pulled into his Sentinel’s embrace. “Okay, yeah, that I can do. You’re what I trust most.”
Go to Episode 3: The Guardian