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17 January 2009 @ 02:09 pm
Vermicular Confusion Part V of VI  
Title: Vermicular Confusion (part I | part II | part III | part IV)
Rating: PG-13
Universes: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Stargate Atlantis
Notes: Crossover! Crackfic 3rd season TNG, 2nd season SGA. Elizabeth/John, Deanna/Will, Beverly/John-Luc.

The image on the viewscreen was distorted, twisted around the edges as if it were being seen through half-melted glass. Rodney knew exactly what he was looking at from unfortunate experience.

“They’re Wraith ships,” Rodney explained as he felt his stomach start to tighten. “And they’re heading for Atlantis.” He fixed his eyes on the captain to his right. Picard couldn’t understand the Wraith. Nothing Rodney could say would possibly explain the horror of the Wraith to him. “Atlantis cannot defend itself against two ships,” he started to explain as he felt his heart sink further into his stomach. “Maybe if they had another ZPM, but they’re going to have to put Carson in the chair and, well, he’s a doctor, he’s just not as good as John--”

Picard lifted his hand and waved him quiet regally. “Doctor,” he begged politely. “I will not understand your predicament better if you explain it at warp speed.” Leaning forward to rest his hand on the arm of his chair, he studied the image in front of him. “Can you clean it up a bit Data?”

Data’s white hands flew over the console. The image shuddered and shifted colors for a moment before it improved slightly. In better focus, the Wraith ships looked even more ominous. “They appear to have stopped.”

“Wraith ships have limited faster-than-light capability,” Rodney explained as concisely as he could. “They need to recharge before they reach the city.”

Picard kept his eyes on the screen in front of him. “How long?”

Rodney bit his lip and tried to keep himself in the chair next to Picard. “Two hours, maybe three if we’re lucky,” he replied as he left his chair. Pointing at the screen didn’t mean anything but it did make him feel better. “They’ll slaughter Atlantis. They’ll feed on everyone in the city and they’ll make their way to Earth.”

“Feed?” Picard asked without letting any emotion slip into his voice. Elizabeth would have told him to stop exaggerating, maybe even reminding him to keep his mind on his work. Luckily, Picard didn’t know him that well.

“According to Colonel Sheppard’s debriefing,” Data reminded the captain. “The Wraith ‘feed’ on other races by draining their life force. A fascinating process.”

“Says the android who’s immune to them,” Rodney muttered under his breath.

“They suck the life out of you,” John’s voice interrupted from behind them. Rodney had missed the hiss of the turbolift. One of the gold shirted security officers stood behind John, unobtrusively watching. “Leaving you a dried out hulk. The worst part is that you keep screaming. I know it’s not your fight, sir,” he added politely as he walked down towards the command chair. “I know we’re trapped here, just like your crew is trapped over there,” John continued as he put himself between Rodney and Captain Picard. “Earth is still Earth, no matter what reality it’s in.”

“I assume your holodeck program is ready?” Picard asked as he left his chair and straightened his uniform jacket.

John nodded and tilted his head towards the turbolift. “Your Lieutenant Worf and Ronon had already done most of the work,” he admitted with a small sardonic smile. “When they got done killing everything your galaxy had to offer, they decided to try killing some things from ours.”

“I find Worf is always most inventive when it comes to new challenges,” Picard replied as he waited for Rodney to enter the turbolift with everyone else. “We are close to being able to send you back. Mr. La Forge has been working on the problem and I have the utmost faith in his abilities.”

Rodney’s initial shock of being on the Enterprise-D had worn off as soon as he’d known the Wraith were closing in on the city. “Even if you send us back--”

“Your city is no match for those ships,” Picard interrupted him with cool understanding. “Doctor McKay, I’m not immune to your plight. However, there are channels that must be followed. Protocols--”

He stopped speaking when they saw Worf in the corridor. The Klingon was sprawled in front of the door to the holodeck, Ronon lay next to him. Blood was pouring out of a cut on Ronon’s arm, part of Worf’s uniform was wrapped around it but it was still staining the pristine carpet of the Enterprise. One of the blue uniformed medics knelt next to Ronon, who looked to Worf before accepting treatment.

When Worf nodded, Ronon relaxed and let the glowing device heal his arm. When John looked at him, Ronon smiled almost gleefully.

“I like it here,” he grunted as he reached for Worf’s shoulder. “I like Klingons.”

“You will also like bloodwine,” Worf assured him as they dragged each other to their feet to accompany the medic.

“Mister Worf,” Picard began with a gently patronizing tone that reminded Rodney of his father. “You are aware of the safety protocols.”

“Yes, sir,” Worf replied as he buried his grin of victory. “I wished to show our guest the full capabilities of our holodeck. I must have become carried away, sir.”

“Indeed,” Picard replied with a nod. “Give my regards to doctor Selar, won’t you?” Turning to John and the holodeck, he let the medics lead Ronon and Worf away.

To Rodney’s shock, as they rounded the corner, Worf started to sing. After a moment, a deep baritone that must have been Ronon, joined him. He was still stunned when John directed his attention back to the holodeck.

Rodney couldn’t help a tiny gasp of surprise when they walked into the black room ringed with the familiar yellow grid. He was actually standing on a holodeck, ready to show Starfleet just how insidious the Wraith could be.

“Computer,” John asked politely, smiling a little as he started at Rodney. “Run program, Pegasus One.”

Rodney was on a Wraith ship. The stench as all around him and the heat sank into his bones. It took all of his strength not to run for the exit. Even when he allowed himself a glance backwards, the door was gone. The arch thing that controlled everything was gone as well. He was trapped on the Wraith ship with John and Captain Picard and none of them had a weapon.

The sound of footsteps can from the left down the reddish purple Wraith corridor. John nodded and waved for them to follow. “I didn’t have access to a photograph of the officer who was involved in this incident, Worf helped me use a version of me instead.”

Now Rodney was really sick to his stomach and wasn’t just the smell of the Wraith ship. He was going to watch John, his best friend, die horribly. It didn’t really matter that it was a recreation. It felt real.

The huge Wraith in the face mask grabbed the fake John, the John with a useless P-90 clasped in his hands, and it took all of Rodney’s control not to run screaming down the corridor and get the hell away from the Wraith.

The fake John didn’t speak as he dropped to his knees in front of the Wraith queen. He didn’t struggle, didn’t scream in terror because he had no idea what was waiting for him.

Pulling back her hand like she was winding up a weapon, the queen leered greedily at John. The moment before impact lasted forever. John was breathing slowly, almost calmly. Picard didn’t know what was coming but for the first time since Rodney had met him, he looked unsure. Rodney just wanted a gun.

“Can I have a gun?” he begged John as he tugged his shirt. “Even just a pistol or something.”

The queen roared and slammed her hand into the skin of fake John’s chest. Rodney turned his head away, feeling his stomach sink into his shoes. Fake John’s face began to shrivel, tightening around his eyes as if years were passing in seconds. His ribs began to stick out of his chest, digging into his skin from beneath like a ruin emerging from the soil after centuries of obscurity.

Fake John was screaming, then after a moment he was beyond even that. The hologram made an inhuman yowl, something more piteous and desperate than a throat should be capable of.

The real John Sheppard just watched, impassive and calm. Captain Picard’s skin had dropped a shade of color. His lips were a thin, pale line in his face. His eyes never left the hologram.

Rodney hadn’t seen anything like this. He could tell himself it was just a recreation or that he knew intellectually what was happening so he didn’t need to watch. He’d seen the aftermath. He’d heard John’s story.
He hadn’t seen one of them feed. Rodney definitely hadn’t seen a human life melt away.

Captain Picard hadn’t either.

Commander Will Riker hadn’t seen a gunshot wound since he’d let Data and Geordi drag him along to a World War One recreation on the holodeck. The team, lead by Major Lorne, came through what Dr Weir called the ‘Stargate’ as one mass of limbs and blood soaked uniforms. He had been standing next to Beverly and Deanna, listening to Dr Zelenka explain what he thought had happened to them when the alarms started to sound.

The ‘gate erupted outward in a whoosh of what looked like water before settling down to form a glittering vertical pool. He’d seen the event horizon of a wormhole before but this ‘Stargate’ technology was the first time he’d seen a captive one. It almost seemed wrong, like capturing a warp bubble in a bottle.

A crisis was the same in any universe and medics moved the same way. Dr Beckett, the one who had assisted Beverly with the surgery that had saved his life, led the medical team strapping the wounded into stretchers.

How long had it been since he’d seen a stretcher like that?

Beverly met his eyes for a moment before she started down the stairs. Will rested his arms on the railing of the balcony, looking over the flurry of activity below as he tried to find his place in this. Deanna’s hand touched his arm and even through the hazy mess of his post-surgery thoughts, he felt her touch in his mind as well. Reaching over to tuck her hand against his arm, he let her fingers find their way closer.

Will wasn’t entirely sure what it was like to feel the pain of everyone around him, but he knew she wouldn’t reach for him unless she needed to know he was there. He couldn’t heal the soldiers, bleeding on the floor of the beautiful room he was standing in like Beverly. The one thing he could do was be there for Deanna.

“Genii raiders,” Dr Weir explained grimly shaking her head and tightening her arms over her chest. “When it’s not the Wraith, they’re lurking in the darkness. Lorne’s team was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Beverly’s very good,” Will promised. Touching his own head to make his point, he managed to get Dr Weir to release some of the pressure in her arms.

“I’ll never turn down another doctor,” she replied softly. Taking a step away from him, she stiffened as she walked down the catwalk towards her office. Deanna’s hand tightened in his. Dr Weir stopped and turned back to them apologetically. “I’m sorry. I’ll--”

“We’ll go eat,” Will suggested and felt Deanna agree with him with a nod. “I’m sure someone could-”

“-I can take you to the mess hall,” Dr Zelenka offered politely putting down his computer and picking up a different large tablet. “I am heading that way.”

“We’ll finish our meeting tomorrow,” Dr Weir offered over her shoulder as one of her staff hurried up to hand her another report. “We’ll keep trying to find a way to get you home.”

The mess hall was quiet. At first, Will Riker appreciated it because it let him put the pieces of his memory together. He’d been flying the shuttle and everything had been normal. One indicator light had gone off in the upper left corner of his console. He remembered the orange light blinking patiently but he couldn’t place what it meant.

His head still hurt. Beverly could probably give him more terakine but their supply was limited. Atlantis’ doctor, Beckett, had given him something he called ibuprofen in two little reddish tablets. They sat on the corner of his blue plastic tray and he stopped staring at them when he felt Deanna’s quizzical brush across his mind.

“Thought I’d ask Beverly first,” he admitted shrugging. “I’m sure they’re fine.”

“You like to be sure,” Deanna finished his thought for him with her lips pursed in a half-smile. She watched him for a long moment, toying with the pasta in front of her with her fork, before the smile grew into something wicked.

Never sure what he was getting himself into, Will couldn’t resist. “What?” He asked finally.

“I was just thinking,” Deanna only paused to watch him squirm. Will could feel it. “You would have taken them if you thought Dr Beckett was attractive.”

“Counselor-” He began to protest before he conceded the point. “Perhaps I’m just more comfortable with Dr Crusher.”

Deanna tilted her head in thought and then nodded demurely before turning her attention to her small plate of green salad. “She is very attractive,” she deadpanned and accepted more coffee from one of the stewards. “I didn’t realize that physical attraction factored into each one of your decision making processes. I suppose Captain Picard is just lucky-”

“He has very nice legs,” Will answered as he bit back the urge to chuckle. “As your mother loves to point out.”

“I had no idea he could even be that nervous,” she agreed conspiratorially. “I didn’t realize I hadn’t actually felt terror from him until the second time she beamed on board.”

Will let himself chuckle. Perhaps it was the way the captain believed so strongly in the polite niceties of life and the way Lwaxana could skirt all of them and still be, in her odd way, incredibly charming. Moving his piece of chocolate frosted cake from his tray to hers made her beam.

Deanna closed her hand around the lip of the plate. “Not interested?” she teased.

“Not that hungry,” he replied sheepishly. “Figured I’d be a good boy and finish my dinner first.”

Burying her fork in the cake, Deanna brushed his leg with hers under the table. “Being a good boy is certainly a new direction for you,” she replied sardonically.

“New universe, new habits,” Will said shrugging. He pushed back from the table a bit and ran his hand through his hair. Beverly had done an incredible job replacing what he’d had but it was a little shaggier than it had been. He hadn’t asked if Atlantis had a barber yet. Unfortunately, it seemed he’d have an awful long time to find out.

Deanna took a few bites before sighing and meeting his eyes. “You don’t think we’re going home,” she said for him. Beneath the table, her leg came into contact with his and stilled.

“I didn’t say that,” he offered as lightly as he could. Protesting against his thoughts was moot but he felt obligated to keep up an optimistic front. “It’s possible--”

“Even though we don’t know how we got here,” she began in an attempt to share his positive thinking.

“Or where we are,” Will continued more grimly. The Pegasus galaxy was unexplored and unreachable in their universe. Even if they could somehow switch back, there was no guarantee they’d be in the right place or in good enough shape to do anything once they got there. Something in their transfer here had been violent enough to put him in grave danger.

Deanna’s fork returned to her cake. “Do we stay here?”

Leaning forward to rest his elbow on the table, he caught a glimpse of his plate and tried not the let all the food still there nauseate him. “It’s a military scientific command structure not too different than what we know, certainly less advanced-”

Searching his face, Deanna smiled slightly when she corrected him. “They command artificial wormhole technology and can travel between galaxies,” she said dragging her fork over the last of the frosting from her plate. “Things the Federation hasn’t yet discovered.”

“They use salvaged technology they barely understand,” Will argued softly.

Deanna nodded at his half-full plate. “You need to eat,” she suggested. “I don’t think it matters which galaxy we’re in, or where we’re going,” she chided him, lips curling into a concerned smile. “Finish your dinner.”

Chuckling to himself, Will lifted his fork again and poked at his now lukewarm pasta. “Yes ma’am.”

Teyla watched the wonders of the new world unfold beyond the windows of Ten Forward. She’d been on the Daedalus several times, and though it was a practical way to travel, it certainly wasn’t as beautiful. The Enterprise was elegant, not crowded and full of mechanisms like the Earth ship. It lacked the smell and the sensation of breathing that was omnipresent on a Wraith ship.

Not knowing the difference between warp speed and hyperspace, she found warp the more artistic way. Instead of losing space to the wormhole-like tunnel of hyperspace, she could watch as the tiny rainbows of stars and the greater beauty of the occasional nebula flew by.

The people of the Enterprise were nearly as varied and beautiful as the view. There was blue skin, pointed ears, all types of scales and even a few aliens with fur. Guinan, the mysterious woman who was responsible for Ten Forward, set another drink on the table in front of her and removed her empty glass. Teyla nodded to her politely and wondered if a bartender was something Elizabeth would allow. Guinan seemed to do wonders for morale on this ship, perhaps there was a way to come up with something similar.

“Is this seat taken?”

Turning her eyes from the window, Teyla found Captain Picard standing politely behind the chair across from her. She’d heard John’s plan to demonstrate the Wraith and found it crude. The people of Starfleet seemed reasonable enough but John was worried about timing. Atlantis would most likely perish faced with two Wraith ships and only holding one ZPM. They had a chance but it was slight.

“Please,” Teyla offered with a wave of her hand.

Captain Picard sat for a moment before Guinan arrived silently with a cup of tea. Smiling softly at her, he wrapped his hands around the cup and joined her eyes looking out the windows. “A wise man once asked me if all of space was a unending vastness full of wonders,” he mused thoughtfully. “Why was it that all the species, living in all the wonderful variety of space, couldn’t learn to share.” He lifted his tea and took a sip.

“I was born on an idyllic world,” he admitted the privilege apologetically. “My parents were supportive and intelligent. I was endowed with every advantage belonging to a citizen of the Federation. Excellent schooling, medical care and opportunities unrivaled on most worlds. I could have easily lived my life as a vintner, making wine and worrying about importing the best vines for my fields without ever leaving my homeworld. No one would have ever threatened my life and it would have been full and happy.”

Teyla took a moment to digest that, met his eyes and found them deep and soaked in responsibility. Keeping contact, she watched him take a sip of his tea. “My people have a story we tell our children,” she began. “The daughter of a tava bean farmer and the daughter of a wealthy trader meet on the road to the city. They go through many hardships together and eventually prove that it is not the wealth one is born with, but the decisions one makes that shape our destiny.”

Setting down his cup, Picard nodded. “I believe we have similar parables on Earth,” he replied with a slow smile. “It has been some time since someone told one to me.”

Looking past the captain at the people around him, she saw the admiring looks of his crew. Her father had the trust of his people and Picard obviously commanded the same respect. “My people believe you cannot ask another to fight your war,” Teyla volunteered. She had no intention of being disloyal to John but Picard had earned her honesty.

“With an enemy like the one I saw, it is hard to believe there is anyone in your galaxy who does not share your war,” he replied with an involuntary tightening of his lips. She saw the flash of tortured sympathy in his eyes and the return of the tension to his shoulders. “There are many antagonistic species in our galaxy as well but few that are that omnipresent and indestructible.”

“Perhaps without them--” Teyla looked out at the stars flying past the windows before turning her gaze to the people happily relaxing around them. “I do enjoy your reality.”

“I don’t know if asylum is something you’re familiar with--” his pause was polite. When she shook her head slightly and waited for him to continue, he grew more pensive. Staring down at this nearly empty cup, Picard finished his offer. “If you desire it, you may stay in this reality. Earth, my Earth is very beautiful. Betazed, Vulcan, Tuuaris and countless others have refugee visas. Many civilians live on starships or starbases--”

Her touch on the back of his hand startled him but his hand remained on the table between them. “Thank you,” she replied warmly.

“Of course.”

Companionable silence drifted between them like the stars outside. “If you like,” he ventured as she finished her tea, “I was about to take a walk in the holodeck. I can promise you something more pastoral than Colonel Sheppard’s program.”

Standing up, she smiled openly. “Perhaps you would show me your world?”

Getting to his feet at her side, Picard finished the last of his tea and offered his arm. “I have an adequate representation of La Barre I can show you. It’s lovely in late summer.”

Walking with him through the corridors, Teyla followed him into the turbolift and listened to him request their destination from the computer. “Will you be able to rescue your crew from our reality?” she wondered as the lift hummed.

“We believe so,” he replied confidently. Teyla saw in his eyes that he wasn’t as sure as his voice suggested, but his poise radiated from him like a palpable thing. There was something else she couldn’t reach, a feeling that hid behind his control like a deer in the deep woods. “Data and Geordi are working on an experiment to duplicate the intersection of our realities with one of the ship’s probes.”

Teyla watched the crew walking past them in the corridor as he tapped the lights behind the black glass that controlled the computer. “Whom of your crew is in my reality?”

The computer announced the program was ready. Teyla repressed the urge to thank the female voice. She had not seen anyone else do so. Picard hesitated outside of the double grey door and the deer was visible for a moment. Beckoning her to the door, he waved it open. The door hissed and opened onto a world of green and gold. “Will Riker, my first officer. Deanna Troi, our ship’s counselor and Beverly Crusher, our chief medical officer.”

Teyla could smell flowers blooming. Their pollen carried on the wind that stirred her hair. The deck beneath her feet gave way to soft earth and grasses. The sun was even warm and gentle on her face. The flash of emotion came with the last name, Teyla was sure of it now. She would never understand why these humans, like the humans of Atlantis, seemed to intent on denying themselves what was most important.

Vines stretched out before them, lining a path that wound up a hill towards more green trees and an arch covered in white flowers. It truly was an idyllic world from which he apologetically had come.

Resting his hand on the vine, Picard let his fingers find a ripening bunch of tiny green grapes. “When I was a child I would run up and down these vines, toy starship in hand, imagining a world hundreds of light years away full of untold dangers and excitement.” Looking up at the sky before he looked back at her, his expression grew contrite. “I’m afraid the opposite is now true.”

Closing her eyes, Teyla let the smell of sun-warmed earth sink into her soul. “If I had this beauty in my memory, I would retreat to it as well.”

The steady cramping from overuse ran up her wrists in a plague of dull pain. Rubbing her hands and then bending her fingers back the wrong way she tried to shake feeling back into the tips. Her right hand was worse, the numbing pain ran up her wrist towards her elbow. Digging her thumb into the ligament helped somewhat, but the delicate structure of her hand needed rest.

“No more emergency surgeries for awhile,” she murmured to herself. Dr Beckett, Carson as he had asked her to call him, had given her another outfit. Black trousers and a simple black t-shirt to replace the bloody one she’d left to the laundry steward. Dr Weir had given them all quarters, small rooms next to each other and two of her security personnel. The security personnel were discreet but Beverly had been on enough missions to know better.

The medical technologies she was using were an odd mix between antiquated and the impressive. The scanners were nearly as good as her own on the Enterprise but Carson still used a metal scalpel, opiate based anesthetics and primitive metal and plastic life support systems. He’d been right when he’d thanked her for saving Lieutenant Richter, the bullets in her lungs and the damage to her heart would have been beyond his ability to repair. Shuddering slightly as she tried to imagine a life with those technologies, Beverly heard her grandmother’s voice reminding her to make do. She

Will and Deanna would start discussing the possibility that they were trapped. It wouldn’t be long before one of them would broach the subject with her. She’d been trying to decide would they would think best suited to break the news gently. Her money was on Will. Deanna would be too gentle and she would be too harsh. Will would withstand her biting sarcasm and refusal to accept her situation better and Deanna would know that.

Pinching the bridge of her nose and running her hand up towards her eyebrows was a foolish attempt to hold off her headache. Was Wesley studying as much as he should? He was so close to the Academy his studies were more important than ever. Would he worry about her? Geordi and Jean-Luc would look out for him, remind him to keep current with his work. Who would guide him through dating? Who would remind him to keep up with haircuts and that there was more to life than his books when he studied too had?

“Dr Crusher?”

It wasn’t Will or Deanna, so she turned reluctantly towards the voice. Carson had showed her the balcony overlooking the sea and she’d retreated there. Will or Deanna could have found her easily enough, but Beverly was surprised to see Dr Weir standing in the doorway back to the corridor. The thin dark-haired leader leaned against the wall, arms folded over her chest. She’d obviously been there for some time.

Beverly turned her head just enough to be polite. “May I help you?”

“Forgive me,” Dr Weir began apologetically and Beverly immediately regretted being so cold. The other woman had recoiled slightly and Beverly knew she’d been unfair. “I wanted to thank you for assisting Carson. He came to tell me you saved two of my people he would not have been able to save.”

Standing up straight, Beverly turned all the way towards Dr Weir and wished she had a lab coat’s pockets to stick her hands into. “He could have saved the major without me,” she corrected humbly. “I fear Carson’s thanking me when he should be thanking my laser scalpel.”

Dr Weir took a few steps towards her and Beverly took the excuse to move her eyes back towards the sea. She seemed to be forgiven. “Commander Riker seems to be fully recovered,” Dr Weir noted with the same grateful respect Carson had when they spoke.

“As I’ve discovered on many occasions, Will has a very hard head,” Beverly mused with a half-smile.

Dr Weir’s hands went to the railing next to her own. Beverly saw the tension in the muscles there. “I also wanted to apologize that we haven’t found a way to return you home.” Taking a deep breath, the leader of the city sighed and mimicked Beverly’s motion of a moment ago by pressing on her forehead.

Amused that she wasn’t the only one plagued by the same stress headaches, Beverly surprised herself by smiling. “You’re doing the best you can. Obviously the Enterprise hasn’t found anything either.”

Did the Enterprise even know they had crossed over? It was entirely possible Dr Weir’s crew was dead and their arrival had simply been coincidence.

“You’re very close to someone missing, aren’t you?” Beverly asked when she realized she knew the look of determined bravery on the other woman’s face. Better rested she wouldn’t have dared but exhaustion had always made her tongue sharper. Jack had had his own fair share of close calls before his death. Jean-Luc had always managed to bring him home. Even in the end, it had been Jean-Luc. Beverly bit her lip and tried to shake the thoughts of Jean-Luc Picard rescuing her like a medieval damsel out of her head.

Dr Weir looked stunned, as if she had been lied to and Beverly was the empath.

“My husband was killed in the line of duty,” Beverly admitted as a peace offering. “He died saving his ship and the lives of everyone on board. I’m afraid I know exactly what it’s like to look at a doorway and wonder if he’s never going to look walk through it again.”

Dr Weir’s lips were tight but her reply was genuine. “I’m sorry. Do you have any children?”

“It was a long time ago and yes, my son Wesley is seventeen,” Beverly answered with a proud smile. Pleased no permanent damaged had been done, she waited for Dr Weir to recover. “He’ll be attending the academy, Starfleet Academy I mean, next year.”

Much more comfortable with this line of conversation, Dr Weir’s posture softened to something more comfortable. “Is that a university?”

“Yes, arguably the best in my galaxy,” Beverly paused and smiled wryly. “Although the Romulans and the Cardassians would certainly argue with me.”

“Romulans and Car-” Dr Weir repeated, unsure of the pronunciation. “Other planets?”

“Cardassians,” Beverly finished. “Other races. Empires, I suppose. Both of them command large numbers of worlds.”

Dr Weir nodded taking in that knowledge with an impressive degree of calm. “And Starfleet is one of those empires?”

Beverly nearly laughed and she held on to the sensation. “Starfleet is no empire,” she corrected. “The United Federation of Planets is a democratic conglomeration of hundreds of worlds and species. Starfleet is the scientific, medical and military body charged with keeping the peace. The Enterprise is the flagship of a vast fleet of starships. Our mission is to explore the galaxy. Occasionally we get sidetracked.”

“Sounds familiar,” Managing a slight smile, Dr Weir agreed. “You may call them We came here to explore, to understand this city and the new galaxy Atlantis opened for us. Unfortunately, we found the Genii and the Wraith.” The tightness came back to Dr Weir’s face.

“Carson told me about the Wraith.” Beverly shuddered at the memory. He’d showed her the tape when she didn’t understand how relieved he was to only be dealing with Genii casualties instead of Wraith. To be dealing with something that insidious and evil with only their limited technology was something she didn’t want to think about for very long.

“I thought I’d be negotiating with new worlds,” Dr Weir divulged ruefully crossing her arms over her chest. “Instead I write casualty reports, keep the city hidden and hope my teams come back safely. Doctor-”


Dr Weir’s smile was grateful. “Elizabeth. I will do everything in my power to return you to your son.”

Nodding, Beverly bit her lip again and steeled herself to the possibility that Elizabeth would fail. “What’s his name?”

Elizabeth’s green eyes struggled through a wash of slient emotion. If she had been an empath, Beverly could have put her feelings in order, but she thought she knew.

Elizabeth paused suddenly listening to a voice in her headset for a moment. “Yes, Radek,” she acknowledged. “I’ll be right there.”

Beverly turned back to the sea with a quick nod. She understood duty.

“Beverly,” Elizabeth interrupted her thoughts again. “Dr Zelenka would like you to join us. He wants to test a theory.”

“All right.”

Falling into step at Elizabeth’s side, Beverly was lost in her own thoughts when Elizabeth spoke again. “John,” she said simply.

“It’s a good name.”

Elizabeth’s inscrutable face broke for a moment and Beverly knew exactly what she felt beneath that mask. “He’s a very good man,” Elizabeth replied.

In the chair room, Dr Zelenka stood next to the control panel looking like a kid in the candy store. Will stood next to him and just seemed amused. Deanna sat in some kind of chair, the one Elizabeth said controlled the city. Her eyes were closed and above her a three dimensional map of the city hung like a holograph in the air.

Dr Zelenka pounced on Elizabeth as soon as they entered. “Commander Riker and Lieutenant Commander Troi both have the gene,“ he reported with barely contained excitement. “Riker’s is fairly ordinary, much like the colonel or Dr Beckett but Troi--“

Beverly moved next to Will and tried to understand his smile.

“It’s some kind of telepathic technology,” he explained with a grin. “I can make it work but it likes Deanna.”

“Likes?” Beverly wondered under her breath as Elizabeth tried to calm Dr Zelenka.

“She’s accessed whole new parts of the city,” Zelenka explained gleefully. “The computer’s responding by increasing energy, reactivating dormant systems-- I’ve asked her to look for information about ZPMs.”

Elizabeth raised a hand to calm him. “What kind of systems?”

Zelenka pointed at the console and shrugged his head. “We’re not entirely sure. We have the computer logging what’s come up so far. Starcharts, information on supergate technology, medical data we haven’t seen before. it’s like she knows how to speak to it and everyone else has just been fumbling in the dark.”

‘Ancient technology has a genetic component,” Elizabeth explained to both of them as she watched the hologram move over Deanna’s head. “There’s a gene one has to possess to activate many of their systems.”

Touching his beard in thought, Will nodded as Beverly met his eyes. “Is it possible that the gene they’re talking about might provide a greater latent telepathic ability in humans? I’ve been told by Lwaxana that I am a better conduit than most humans.” Mentioning Deanna’s mother made Will smirk.

“That would explain why Deanna is so in tune with the city,” Beverly agreed before she turned to Elizabeth. “I’d like to work with Carson. If I could have access to your medical records, I think I can help him better identify this gene.”

The hologram faded, abruptly darkening the room as Deanna sat up and the chair returned to sleep. “I believe I’ve found the section containing the information you are looking for,” she reported to Zelenka and Elizabeth. “I’m not entirely sure how the technology works but I think I’ve activated it.”

Elizabeth’s gaze fixed on Zelenka. “Activated what?”

“I found a laboratory that was devoted to ZPMs,” Deanna reported to Elizabeth after she looked to Will. “I believe I was able to redirect power and reactivate the computers within it. It is a remarkable experience. Atlantis reacts almost as if it were alive, certainly more intelligent than any computer I have ever encountered.”

Touching Will’s arm, she pulled him aside. “What is a ZPM?” Beverly asked.

“Their power source,” he explained back softly. “Some kind of subspace battery.”

“Two Wraith ships are headed this way,” Elizabeth explained grimly. “The city needs three ZPMs and we only have one.”

Beverly suddenly realized that learning to adapt to this universe might not be as difficult as learning to die here.
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Miriel: Atlantis - Abstract Aerialmardahin on January 18th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
You have officially rocked my world with this, btw. You know why ^_~

But wouldn't a wraith leave a human being a shriveled husk, as opposed to a hulk?
Opal: er moms? Godsoparu on January 18th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)
lol...thanks!! :)
Andy: sparkybaby#2ankareeda on January 18th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Elizabeth’s inscrutable face broke for a moment and Beverly knew exactly what she felt beneath that mask. “He’s a very good man,” Elizabeth replied.

Pooooor Elizabeth! *hands John over and let them make babies*

Awesome chapter!
the_scary_kittythe_scary_kitty on January 18th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
Hee! I had a feeling that once Worf and Ronon bonded over a few rounds of kicking each others' butts, they'd be best buddies for life. ;)

This story's been hitting all my nostalgia buttons lately, and I love it. *bounces*
Blue: Sparkybluewillowtree on January 18th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, I just love this. It's so much fun!