The entire expedition was in a large room just off the gateroom that they’d used to store trade goods short-term since their arrival on the city. It had a large wall of windows on one side and when John had mentioned using it for the meeting—a series of tables and chairs had come up out of the floor.
Rodney had taken the floor first and taught everyone how to use the datapads that Ally had presented him with. The slim, foldable little computer tablets were a big hit with everyone. Mostly because not only were they slick as hell, but Ally had put some very cool 3D holographic games on them.
After they’d wasted an hour playing games, Elizabeth had taken over the meeting and people had grudgingly closed their snarky little interactive chess games in favor of a series of reports that Ally had generated, concerning Earth in general and the IOA specifically. John sat near the front of the room as the betrayal of their situation swept over them all. The sixty-three dead members of the expedition were like ghosts in the room to him—each of them just as betrayed and outraged as their living peers. Thankfully, he was no longer being bombarded with their thoughts—the gene therapy had granted each person some level of mental privacy. He could pick up emotions very easily but invading the mind of a Lantean took a serious effort on his part.
“This is horrible,” Marcus Stackhouse snapped. “For fuck’s sake—I’m listed as on assignment in Afghanistan!”
“I’m in Iraq,” John offered with a small, bitter smile. “But at least they let me keep my field promotion. Apparently, I’m running search and rescue operations with a great amount of success. I have a purple heart and two goddamned Air Force Crosses to prove it.”
“Sons of bitches,” Bates ground out. “They told my mother I was MIA.” He shoved his datapad aside, blinking with fury. “She died thinking I was a prisoner of war in some hell hole in the Middle East.”
John stood up from his table and walked around the room to Bates. He sat down beside him and pulled Bates’ datapad away from the edge of the table where it had been teetering. “Is she all the family you had left?”
Bates shook his head. “I have a younger brother at Annapolis. I took this posting because the money was so good—all of my money was supposed to go to her care but after I was listed MIA they stopped issuing her my checks. She ended up in a state home and she died eight months ago.” He cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “How could O’Neill let this happen?”
“General O’Neill is unaware of what Hank Landry has done with the records of the Atlantis Expedition. Your younger brother Benjamin graduated three months ago. From what I understand, he tried to come home to take care of your mother and even at one point tried to get power of attorney over her because she refused to let him quit school to take care of her. Since she was mentally aware—he was unable to take her from the long term care facility she put herself in and take care of her like he wanted. I hacked his email and hers—and put copies of all of their correspondence on your personal datapad.” Ally appeared as his side. “I’m sorry, Captain Bates.”
“It’s not your fault,” Dean finally said, his voice heavy with shock and grief.
Gunnery Sergeant Dylan Moore cleared his throat. “I’m KIA. I apparently died as a result of an IED in Iraq eighteen months ago. Closed casket funeral. They gave my father a body no one would recognize and a handful of medals.” He offered Bates a small sad smile. “I guess we couldn’t all be MIA.”
“What did they do with the civilians?” Bates questioned.
Elizabeth Weir crossed her arms carefully. “Some of us are still in Antarctica. Dr. McKay is listed as ‘off-world’ by the SGC. I apparently died in a car accident three weeks after we were able to dial out the first time and send our letters home—along with the man I was engaged to.” She closed her eyes. “He had the security clearance to know where I was going but I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye until we sent home the letters.”
“You think they killed him,” Miko said bluntly. “So he wouldn’t ask questions about the expedition?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, I do.”
Miko frowned down at her tablet PC. “I’m apparently off-planet with Dr. McKay and he gives me excellent evaluations for my superior work.” She grinned when Rodney snorted. “Are you saying I don’t do superior work?”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “You don’t try to blow us up every day like some people I could mention.”
“Why did they do this?” Helena Simpson questioned. “All of this was done after we dialed home—after they knew we were alive out here.”
“Alive fighting an enemy that scares the shit out of them,” John corrected. “We had twenty dead at that point and the Wraith were breathing down our necks. They didn’t want to send a ship to help us and at this point they think we’re dead. They’re covering their asses, Doc. They’ve done everything they could to make the expedition disappear on paper so they don’t ever have to answer for the fact that they left us out here to die.”
“Why didn’t they just send a ship out here to get us?” Miko questioned. “They could’ve evacuated the entire expedition easily with either one of the ships they have commissioned. General O’Neill has a great relationship with the Asgard—he could’ve asked them to send one of their ships after us. It would’ve been… nothing compared to what they’ve asked of the Asgard in the past.”
“They didn’t want to admit to the Asgard that they’d located Atlantis,” Elizabeth began. “When I was assigned to get the expedition together I asked the IOA if I could invite an Asgard to come with us. I figured we could use one of them to help with the technology we found. They told me no because they didn’t want to tell the Asgard about the city at all. They didn’t want to share Atlantis with them and they feared that the Asgard might insist. O’Neill has tried twice to send us help and both times he was outmaneuvered. The last time he was threatened with charges of treason by the President if he contacted the Asgard without permission.”
“And the Earth ships?” Alyssa Biro questioned. “Why not send one of them after us?”
“It was deemed an unnecessary risk by the IOA for just a handful of soldiers and scientists that no one has really missed,” McKay said before Elizabeth could respond. He glared at her when she frowned at him. “Come on, we’re all being polite here—but most of us can read each other’s minds if we make an effort. Don’t you think it’s time we stop kidding ourselves and lying to each other for the sake of soothing fears that can’t be soothed?”
Elizabeth was silent for a full minute and the rest of the room waited for her to respond. “You’re right. We can’t… expect anyone to rescue us. We need to make plans.”
“Short term, I think we need to contact Earth and see if we can’t get some supplies and a few people out of them.” John held up a hand when several people started to protest. “I realize it’s a risk. But, we can minimize it by being careful about what we tell them—we need soldiers. We need medical supplies that Ally can’t currently produce for us. We need to make an effort to connect with Earth so when they disappoint us again we can walk away from them with a clear conscience. I think the foundation of our own society should be one marked by faith in others and honesty with one another. There will come a day when we don’t need Earth but right now we could use a little support. Let’s just see what shakes loose and if we don’t like what they have to offer—we’ll plan accordingly.”
“I agree.” Elizabeth glanced around the room—taking the measure of the people in one swift, knowing glance. “But first we have to repair Atlantis. That means we need to work hard and supply the NCL with everything she needs in order to repair herself.” She looked briefly at Bates. “John, Rodney—you have a go for Planet Naquadah. Don’t go blowing up anything while you’re out there and come back in one piece.”
* * * *
John dropped his duffle in a storage compartment under the bench on the Jumper and glanced over his shoulder to see Teyla standing on the ramp. “Hey.”
Teyla smiled hesitantly. “Elizabeth says that Aiden and I aren’t allowed to go on this mission.”
“Ford is needed here for training and Bates will need his support and you don’t…” John sighed. Teyla had outright refused Ally’s offer of gene therapy. “Ally has consented to let you remain on the city because she respects you but your refusal to take the gene therapy makes her unwilling to trust you with the location of any of her mineral supply worlds. I’m sorry.”
“No, it is fine.” Teyla held up a hand and sat down on one of the benches. “I discussed this with Ally already and I understand her concerns. The gene therapy you were given also prevents you from being interrogated with chemicals. I don’t have any such immunities and the knowledge could be taken from me without my consent. I would never want to endanger the ancestral city.”
“But you won’t change your mind about the therapy?”
Teyla took a deep breath and shook her head. “I am… many of my people are grossly offended that the city has offered the people from Earth such a thing. I did not expect it but I should’ve considering how they feel about my Wraith blood.”
“Are you offended?” John questioned.
Teyla lifted an eyebrow at him. “Do you not know? Are you not able to see into my mind?”
“I do my best not to violate anyone’s privacy if I can,” John responded evenly. “You’ve not invited me into your mind, Teyla, and you earned my trust a long time ago.”
“I no longer believe the ancestors to be gods,” Teyla began. “And I am not offended by what the city has done for your people—but I do not understand your willingness and in some cases eagerness to be altered in such a way. I do not know that I could ever consent to it and if I did my place among my people would be destroyed. They would never accept me as their leader again.”
“Do you think there will come a day when they don’t look at you and see you as tainted because of the Wraith blood you carry?” John questioned gently.
“I hope they will come to realize it was not my fault,” Teyla admitted. “I must do what I feel best serves my people.”
“I understand that,” John touched her shoulder. “Though I don’t wish you were coming on this trip—potentially twelve days cooped up with me and Rodney? You’d kill us and no one would blame you.”
Teyla grinned. “I find you both stimulating, in small doses.” She stood up from the bench. “Did you pack enough food?”
“I sincerely hope so.”
* * * *
The Jumper had been retrofitted with a small bathroom and a bed that folded down from the one of the walls and covered the cargo compartment. Rodney had found the additions amusing for all of the first ten minutes of the trip and then he’d settled down in the co-pilots chair and started working.
John cleared his throat. “So…”
Rodney looked up from one of three datapads he had propped up on the DHD. “Yeah? Christ, you don’t want to talk about our stupid feelings do you? Because, if so, you can turn this Jumper right around. I thought we’d already done that.”
Sheppard snorted and laughed. “No. Actually—I was just going to tell you that Ally updated the autopilot feature and I’ve already plotted the whole course to the planet which I am picking up on the sensors.”
“Oh, cool.” Rodney looked over the HUD and then folded up one of the datapads which he slid into his backpack. “Radek and I have to revamp our entire department—Ally has been providing us with repair lists and she has ideas about which ones are priorities, which conflict with ours.”
“Are you giving in?”
“Not all the time,” Rodney admitted. “Sometimes she sacrifices her own comfort for ours in ways that I think are unnecessary. She wanted to put off repairing some of Theseus’ power relays in favor of repairing a few towers for larger living spaces for us. He agreed with her. I overruled them both.”
“Good.” John glanced at him and then returned his gaze to the controls. “So, now that she’s taken the wind out of your ZPM sails—what will you research?”
Rodney laughed. “I’m actually reviewing her plans for a third generation ZPM and Radek is going to redesign the Jumpers. After that, I thought I’d build you a space ship.”
John grinned. “I love you.”
“Does that qualify as a discussion of our stupid feelings?” Rodney questioned, his gaze narrowed.
“No, not unless it counted this morning when we were in the shower and you babbled your never ending love for me for five minutes while I was blowing you,” John returned with one lifted eyebrow. Then he grinned when Rodney blushed. “Do you think Ally watches us?”
“I’m entirely positive she does,” Rodney admitted and sighed. “After all, she made us a big bed in this Jumper.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Probably in reference to the complaining you did about our small beds.”
John laughed. Rodney had done the complaining and John had just agreed. He’d been kind of content to sleep half on top of the scientist all night but that plan had been vetoed pretty quickly. Then Rodney had snuck out of his quarters in the early AM—he’d been doing that since they’d become lovers.
They’d both been careful to keep their relationship down deep and shield their minds as strongly as they could but John didn’t think they could keep a secret like theirs for long, no matter how determined Rodney might be. Secrets were impossible long term in a society full of people that could read minds. Eventually, one of them would let their guard down and everyone would know.
Granted, in practice the telepathy required more active effort than he’d suspected when he’d thought about it before going into the CIC. His empathic skills were far more passive—he picked up emotions very easily compared to invading someone else’s mind. Especially those like Elizabeth who worked hard to safeguard their privacy. He could tell how she felt nearly one hundred percent of the time but he had to put his back into reading her mind unless she focused on him and sent him thoughts. And boy could she do that with the kind of startling skill that was unnerving.
“I really don’t want to talk about our feelings,” Rodney began. “But, I’d be open to discussing how you feel about this thing that is moving between us.”
John knew what he meant so he didn’t pretend otherwise. Ever since the first night that they had made love—his mind had been tethered to Rodney’s. The flow of emotions mixed with thoughts had been there when they woke together that first morning and had increased daily in the weeks that followed.
“Theseus said it’s an emotional bond. He said it was rare among first generation Lanteans because they… didn’t always pair for love. Sometimes they paired for politics or scientific purposes. I didn’t ask what kind of scientific purposes but I imagine it was about breeding.” John glanced towards him. “I was waiting for you to be comfortable enough to bring it up.”
Rodney flushed. “It’s… gotten stronger.”
“Maybe it builds slowly until it’s complete. Neither Theseus nor Ally had much information on the process because the others didn’t discuss things like that with them. They knew about it but only in passing.”
“Or maybe it’s because I fucked you,” Rodney returned bluntly and smiled faintly when John smirked. “I’m serious. It got stronger after that.”
He couldn’t deny the truth of it so he nodded. “Yeah, okay. Does it bother you?”
“No, it makes things easier,” Rodney admitted. “I can see into your head now—like you do mine, so I know what you mean even when you’re choking on the words.” He reached out and touched John with gentle fingers. “It’s nice to know you that way and to feel how well you know me.”
John covered Rodney’s hand with his own. “Much easier. I never have to wonder what you’re pissed about.” He brought McKay’s hand to his mouth and kissed his palm. “Makes the sex really good, too.”
Rodney grinned and leaned in to kiss his mouth. John met him half way and then tugged gently on his lover until McKay obligingly left his chair and moved into his lap. He slid astride his thighs with a little sigh against John’s lips.
“You’re such a cliché,” Rodney complained and let his head tilt back to give John access to this throat. “Jumper sex…”
“Everyone on the city wants to have sex in the Jumpers,” John interjected with a small smirk as he tackled the buttons of Rodney’s BDUs. “It’s the number one fantasy on the city followed closely by doing it under the gate in the gateroom.”
“That’s an entirely unsafe fantasy,” Rodney muttered. “What if someone dialed in?”
John snorted. “Fantasies don’t have to be at all realistic, ya know. That’s kind of the point. The stargate is like the fifty yard line. Prime real estate for fantasy sex locations.”
Rodney hissed when John slid his hand into his boxers. “How on Earth did you manage to survive in the Air Force being this gay?”
“You know my Daddy is a four star Admiral in the Navy,” John murmured. He brushed his lips over Rodney’s jaw. “He made sure I didn’t actually get court-martialed for it. I came close before Antarctica but my CO didn’t have any real proof—just a rumor.”
“Was the rumor true?”
John chuckled. “Yeah, it was so true.” He looked down between them and fondled McKay’s cock with sure fingers. “I can’t believe all the time we wasted not doing this.”
Rodney rocked against his hand a little and sighed when John ran his thumb over the swollen head of his cock. “Will the auto-pilot handle things or do we have to fly in shifts?”
“I can monitor it without being in the chair,” John admitted and hitched forward. “Wanna go fold out that big bed, get naked, and do dirty things to each other?”
McKay scrambled out of his lap, had the bed out, and most of his clothes off before John made his way back to the cargo area. John caught him around the waist and pulled him close. He rubbed one hand down Rodney’s bare chest and kissed his shoulder before nipping gently with his teeth. McKay shivered in his embrace so John clenched his teeth just a little more—enough to mark the skin but not draw blood.
Rodney moaned and leaned back into John’s arms. “Fuck, that’s perfect.” He shifted his ass against John’s hard cock.
John hummed and prodded McKay’s pants down over his hips. “I’d really like you to be naked all the time.”
“That’s not practical at all but I appreciate your ambition.”
Rodney shoved his unlaced boots off and shimmied out of his pants and boxers with John’s enthusiastic help. He quickly stripped out of his own clothes—tossing them around the Jumper with his usual carelessness and had McKay on his back in seconds. John settled on top of him with a pleased smile. Rodney relaxed under him and sighed against John’s mouth as they settled together.
John kissed him gently and just smiled when Rodney started to rock under him. “I never thought I’d have this with you.”
“You aren’t the only one,” Rodney admitted and ran his fingers through John’s hair. “This is the most I could’ve ever asked for.”
John moved against him and resettled himself so his dick could slide up against Rodney’s. “I could ask for more.”
“Hmm. What?” Rodney questioned with a small frown.
“You could stop sneaking out of my quarters before the sun comes up,” John murmured as he brushed his lips across Rodney’s jaw. “That would be good.”
“What? So some homophobic jarhead can get it in his head to hurt you?”
John lifted an eyebrow. “Do you honestly think that about anyone we have left on the city? Do you think Theseus would have accepted someone as a citizen with that kind of bullshit in their head? Ally might not be able to dig into our minds but the same can’t be said for her counterpart.”
Rodney frowned at him. He still hadn’t really interacted with Theseus. John figured he wasn’t entirely comfortable with him the way he was with the avatar. Ally had logic and intricate programming he could review and understand. Theseus was a living creature—that they lived on and John wasn’t entirely sure that Rodney was comfortable with that. He’d been curiously silent during the discussion about the biofeedback that was taking place between Theseus and the expedition.
“What about the people from Earth if Landry sends us any help?”
John chuckled. “Well, the gene therapy did a lot for me, McKay. I’m completely badass.” He kissed the smirk from Rodney’s mouth and then groaned when his lover rocked up into him. “I can kick all of their asses.”
“I bet.” Rodney touched his face with gentle fingers and then pulled him down for another kiss. “Rub off on me. I love to watch you come.”
John groaned and braced himself on the mattress so he could meet Rodney’s demand. He shivered and moaned as McKay’s hands drifted over his back and ass before gripping his hips. Rodney spread his legs shamelessly and lifted up into every thrust until they were both slick with sweat and precum. Their mouths met in one demanding kiss after another. They shook apart together—their mental bond snapping open between them in a brilliant flash as they came.
John slid just to the side and dropped down, half on his lover, with a groan. “I haven’t come this hard and often since I was sixteen.” He rubbed his still half-hard cock against Rodney’s hip and shuddered in pleasure.
Rodney sighed happily. “I resent the hell out of you for all of the sex we haven’t had because you’re socially retarded.”
“You are no better,” John muttered and then pinched McKay’s nipple before rolling from the bed to retrieve a washcloth. The bathroom shelf offered up a damp cloth which was a little creepy since he hadn’t asked for it. He grabbed another for McKay and tossed it at his lover as he went to the front of the Jumper to check the HUD. If he concentrated—the Jumper would actually supply one in his head but he was still getting used to that.
He glanced back at Rodney and found him pulling on a pair of boxers. McKay snagged John’s from the gun rack where they’d been thrown and tossed them in John’s direction. Sheppard reached out and the thin cotton boxers hovered in the air just above the floor and then flew into his hand. He smirked when Rodney just stared at him. “What?”
McKay laughed. “It’s just… well.”
“You haven’t been practicing?” John questioned. “You know you have to practice to make it a skill you can readily use.” He slipped his boxers on. “We’ll work on it. I’ve been letting you slide on that stuff because you’ve been so excited about the technology. You’re supposed to be one of the most advanced with telekinesis.”
* * * *
Six days of sex and conversation with McKay had done a lot to relax him, but John wasn’t going to admit it aloud. He’d made Rodney practice his telekinesis with small objects in the Jumper and the scientist had grown very adept within just a few hours at manipulating both small objects and the intricate parts of the LSD they’d taken apart on a whim to see how it worked.
“Air quality is very poor,” Rodney admitted. “We’ll have to put on the environmental suits. It’s easy to see why no one lives here.”
There was no evidence that anyone had ever lived on the planet as far as the Jumper’s scans revealed. They’d done a thorough scan of the planet and left a small satellite Ally had prepared in orbit to scan the rest of the solar system. The trip down to the gate was done mostly in silence because they were both concentrating on the data being thrown at them from the Jumper and the satellite.
They were able to land about fifty yards from the gate and quickly put on the environmental suits that Ally had provided. They’d been surprised to learn the suits were rated for space and deep sea exploration. Rodney had questioned her extensively on pressure, atmospheres, and impacts – and Ally had answered all of his questions with a wry grin and shining eyes.
Once outside the Jumper, John watched for anything while Rodney all but crawled into the DHD. The planet was barren and weird. The terrain was rocky, the ground hard and cracked in some places. He kind of figured it was what it would be like to stand on Mars. The color of the ground varied from dark brown to red. If there had been any geologists left on Atlantis he imagined they would’ve found it very interesting.
The stargate stood alone and out of place on the barren plain—seemingly untouched by the dusty, abrasive wind even after thousands of years. A feeling of satisfaction radiated off McKay and John guessed that his lover had figured out the problem. “Fixable?”
“Hmmm.” Rodney slid out and looked at him through the clear face plate of his suit. “Yeah, pretty easily. We’ll need to get Ally to build us a new casing for this DHD. It’s got some damage from the wind and there are a few cracks so dust is getting in.”
“A place like this would probably have some pretty wicked wind storms,” John offered—his gaze drifting towards the fuzzy horizon. “We should call it Arrakis.”
Rodney snorted and disappeared back into the guts of the DHD with a few new crystals in hand. “Just as long we don’t find any giant worms, Colonel, I’m okay with this very ugly world and all of its beautiful naquadah.”
“And copper, platinum, zinc, and limestone…” John trailed off. The world was literally the answer to most of the problems they had in healing Theseus.
The gate was already dialing by the time Rodney was putting the panel back on the DHD. The wormhole swooshed as dramatically as normal and then established within the gate. The radio in his helmet activated and Elizabeth’s calm voice filled his ear.
“Colonel Sheppard, this is Atlantis. Can you respond?”
“Atlantis, this is Colonel Sheppard. We report our situation all clear. Dr. McKay has finished replacing the crystals in the DHD and is running scans on the incoming wormhole to determine stability,” John responded.
“Understood. We have several harvesters ready to come through the gate and Ally has a 911 repair that she requests Dr. McKay return to the city ASAP to handle personally, as it will require some fairly invasive intrusions into the superstructure and Theseus is concerned about the process.”
“You can send the harvesters through, Elizabeth,” Rodney answered before John could respond. “And the Colonel and I will be ready to return to the city within twenty minutes. McKay out.”
* * * *
The closer they came to D-Day the more nervous Elizabeth became. John had watched her—noticed the stiffness of her body as she moved swiftly from one end of the conference room to the other when she wasn’t forcing herself to sit in her office.
John leaned in the doorway and waited until she’d turned to start walking toward him to speak. “You ready to talk to me?”
She sighed and crossed her arms defensively. “I… you realize how much of a risk we are taking opening the gate to Earth?”
“I know there is potential for a problem but by the time we’re ready to dial the gate we’ll be able to defend ourselves against any kind of hostile takeover.”
Her eyes widened briefly. “Do you think that is a possibility?”
“I think there are people on Earth who would gut this city if they were given the opportunity. They sent us out here looking for treasure—a cache of Ancient technology. What we found was a city full of danger and a galaxy full of space vampires. The people with the power don’t care about us because we reported having little power, no stock pile of ZPMs or weapons to speak of, and an enemy so fucked up that it makes the Goa’uld seem almost reasonable in comparison.”
“And when we dial in this time?”
“The more they think we have to offer—the more interested they will be.”
“So… we should lie.”
“We should omit as much as possible,” John clarified. “They left us out here—when they could have come for us. The only reason they’ll respond with support is if we give them reason to. But, if we give them too much of a reason they’ll send a ship out here and Theseus will defend himself zealously.”
“I couldn’t tolerate Earth sending a ship out here to strip the city of resources,” Elizabeth whispered. “We owe Ally and Theseus because they have sheltered and protected us—even to their own detriment at times for the last two years.”
“We need to craft careful reports—honest but as vague as we can get away with. We admit that Ally exists and we can even explain that the city is made of an organic metal. I think we should omit any information about Theseus himself.”
“Nothing about their ability to make weapons, ships, or ZPMs should be mentioned,” Elizabeth offered. “We’ll have Ally review everything in the databurst to make sure no one makes a mistake or an offhand reference to something we deem classified.”
John nodded. “Agreed. We’ll have to request more personnel. If we don’t it would probably look suspicious. However, there is the problem that no one is going back to Earth—those that might have wanted to go back are dead.”
“We can make it seem as though we can only afford to dial them once,” Elizabeth murmured. “Then, if they send us people it will be more people like us.”
“People they don’t really want and don’t expect to get back,” John murmured dryly.
Elizabeth’s gaze widened briefly and then she laughed sadly. “You really believe that.”
“I…” She blew out an exasperated breath. “At one time, I would have said no but now I do realize that they viewed us as expendable from the very beginning. Anyone that might have cared is no longer in charge at the SGC. Jack O’Neill is tied down by politics and I’m not even sure he knows what Landry has done.”
“I can fix that,” Ally announced as she appeared beside John. “I can educate him thoroughly.”
Elizabeth’s gaze narrowed and she inclined her head. “Yes, but not yet. We have work to do and then we have a shell game to play with Hank Landry. After that, you can educate at Jack O’Neill at your leisure.” She took a deep breath. “How are the repairs coming?”
“Theseus is uncomfortable but it is no more than we have endured in the past. Dr. McKay is almost finished with the removal of the damaged area. He is consulting Dr. Beckett on better ways to do repairs to the infrastructure. He is hoping that they’ll be able to use the principles of the medical stasis technology to reduce the physical pain for Theseus in the future.” Ally paused. “The others were never so concerned about his physical comfort.”
John glanced at Elizabeth and found that her face had tightened slightly in anger. The more they learned about the Ancients—the harder it was to respect them. He checked his watch and sighed. “Ally, it’s time for McKay to eat. He’ll skip lunch otherwise.”
“I will inform him that he must meet you in the mess hall for the afternoon meal,” Ally assured and disappeared in a small flash of light.
* * * *
The dial out to Earth had attracted the attention of everyone in the city. John wasn’t surprised—despite how they’d been treated and the things that they knew the SGC had done to hide the fact that they were missing, most of the people on the city still thought of their homeworld fondly. The wormhole established and John’s stomach clenched—a combination of fury and dread pooling in his gut. Suddenly, contacting Earth was the last thing he wanted to do. He figured some of the anxiety he was feeling was from the city—Theseus and Ally both worried that they would be abandoned again. John hoped that eventually they would learn to trust him—to trust that he would always come back to them given a choice.
“Stargate Command, this is Atlantis, do you copy?”
“Dr. Weir, this is Master Sergeant Walter Harriman, how long can you maintain this wormhole? I have General Landry en route to the control room.”
“Dr. McKay assures me that we have a ten-minute window at least,” Elizabeth blushed at the lie but only got nods of approval from everyone around her. “We have a data burst prepared. Can you receive?”
“Yes, ma’am and may I say it is a relief and a pleasure to hear your voice.”
She smiled. “Likewise, Walter, I should have stolen you and brought you with me.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Walter laughed. “Data burst received. You are transmitting an IDC?”
“Yes, we’ll need you to lower the gate shield. We have a surprise for you.”
“This is General Landry, Dr. Weir, report.”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at the order but nodded to herself. “We are still here, of course, we were able to secure a second ZPM shortly before we were attacked by the Wraith for the third time. We fought them off successfully and we are finally at the point in our repairs where we could contact you. You’ve been sent a list of casualties and necessary supplies.”
“Be aware that we currently have no way of opening a gate to you, Dr. Weir.”
“We assumed as much, that’s why we are sending you our second ZPM. Dr. McKay believes it will allow you to open a wormhole at least twice, perhaps more—enough to send us personnel and the supplies that we desperately need.”
“The gate shield is open and we are ready to receive the ZPM.”
John shoved the insulated metal box through the wormhole with one boot and walked away from the event horizon with a grimace. He hated giving it to them. It galled him how much he resented the SGC and the people on Earth but he had learned to work with it and push it down deep.
“Atlantis, we have received the ZPM and your databurst. Will you be able to dial us again?”
“We are not sure, General. This is taxing our power reserves dangerously,” Elizabeth responded. “We look forward to hearing from you.”
The wormhole stuttered and blinked out abruptly as McKay had programmed it to.
“Greedy son of a bitch,” Rodney muttered and then shrugged when everyone looked his way.