vain_glorious (vain_glorious) wrote,

New Fic: Men in Stiff Procession (SGA/SG-1, Gen, PG-13, AU from 5X13) Part 2

Men in Stiff Procession 2/4
Part 1 for header info

Emmagan should have wished him good luck with the ATA-gene therapy and left him at the infirmary entrance. Instead, she followed him inside. That was weird.

She tried to act like it was still part of the tour, but there really wasn’t much to say about the infirmary.

“You have not met the medical staff?” she asked, eyes a little too wide and tone a little too perky.

“Nope,” Cam answered, following her gaze, but still at a loss of what had changed her behavior.

“They are excellent,” Emmagan said, cheerily.

“I’m hoping not to spend too much time in here,” he replied, letting a note of irritation enter his voice.

Emmagan ignored it. She didn’t leave his side even as a medical staff member finally noticed they were there and went over to greet them. A young blonde woman came rushing out of the rear of the infirmary, scrubs splattered in something brownish. It wasn’t blood. Cam hoped it wasn’t shit.

“This is Colonel Cameron Mitchell,” Teyla said, a little louder than totally necessary. “He is the new military commander.”

“That’s me,” Cam muttered.

“Dr. Jennifer Keller,” the woman replied.

Cam stuck out his hand, but Keller held her palms up. “I have to wash my hands,” she said. “Don’t touch me.”

“Okay,” Cam said, slowly. He looked down at the gunk on her scrubs. “What is that stuff?”

“I’m not entirely sure,” Keller began. She rolled her eyes. “But it might be a human allergen, so…”

“Where’s it from?” Cam asked, taking a tiny step back. He knew this place had to have excellent biohazard and quarantine protocols, and he was pretty sure that smearing alien goo all over the brand new military commander was probably not on them.

He could hear loud voices from the corner of the infirmary where she’d been before they arrived. It sounded like arguing, though, more than screaming.

“I don’t even know,” Keller said, giving a little eye roll that didn’t seem to be directed at Cameron, at least. “McKay-”

“It is a substance from Rodney’s lab?” Emmagan interjected. It sounded like an innocent question, but she said it just a little too pointedly. “Is it not?”

Keller took her eyes off Cameron. “What?” She blinked at Emmagan. “Yeah, that’s what it is. From his lab.”

“Is McKay okay?” Cam asked, remembering Emmagan’s listening to a conversation involving him. He peered towards the rear of the infirmary, but there were enough curtains and what not that he couldn’t see anything.

Now, Keller looked back at him. “He’s fine. I’m just going to stab him full of benadryl.” There was a muffled shout from the back. “With a really big needle!” She raised her voice and hollered so McKay could hear her.

“Sounds good,” Cameron said, some of his suspicion soothing. Maybe Emmagan just didn’t want him to find out about one of McKay’s screw-ups.

Emmagan cleared her throat, lightly. Keller shook her head as if getting herself back on track. “May I help you, Colonel?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “I need to get me one of them nifty subspace transmitter locators –” he slapped his arm – “and I’d like to get a dose of the ATA-gene therapy.” He paused. “But that can wait until after you’ve stabbed McKay.”

“A nurse can do that,” Keller said, easily. “Let me clean up and I’ll take care of you.”

Emmagan still hadn’t moved, which was just weird. She was holding very still, but her eyes kept sliding around the infirmary like she expected something really interesting to happen any minute.

“I can wait,” Cam said. He could. He could also go see what the hell was going on back there.

“No,” said Emmagan, answering for Keller. Cameron glanced at her, unable to hide his irritation. She saw his face and tried to give another disarming smile. “He is very excited about getting the gene,” she said, brightly.

Cam was, and he’d told her so. It was true, but the way she said it, it just sounded like she’d made it up on the spot.

“Most people are,” Keller said. She paused, then knitted her brow. “When was your last physical?” Cam blinked at her for a second. “Some people have immuno reactions to the shot,” she said. “It’s less effective if you’re ill.”

“They checked me over inside and out,” Cam said. “Before I boarded the Daedalus.”

“I’d still like to –” she began.

“It was very invasive,” Cameron said, because it’d been the suckiest part of the application procedure. It’d been the only part of the application procedure other than saying yes and signing on the dotted line. But still.

“The Daedalus has the flu,” Emmagan said, which didn’t even make any sense. He looked at her sideways. “Frequently,” she added, weakly.

“She’s right,” Keller said, nodding. “It’s an excellent environment for a contagion.”

“I feel fine,” Cam snapped. Actually, he felt jerked around and it was beginning to piss him off. “I don’t need a physical.”

“I’d like one for my records, anyway,” Keller said, like he hadn’t even spoken. She waved a hand at a nurse standing across the infirmary. “Will you take Colonel Mitchell to an exam room, please?”

Cameron went with the nurse, half expecting Emmagan to follow and stick by him until the moment he dropped his drawers. She didn’t, instead stalking across the infirmary and vanishing into the back.

“Keller will be right with you,” promised the nurse. She was small and Asian, and at least she didn’t seem to be lying to him.

“Something going on?” Cam asked.

“Dr. McKay doesn’t enjoy the infirmary,” the nurse said. “He’s not a happy patient. That’s all.” And that sounded, well, reasonable.

“Okay,” Cam said.

“Please get undressed,” the nurse said, but she made no motion to leave.

It was back to being weird again, because she stayed until he was down to his boxers. Maybe that was what they did here.

“Do have much experience with Ancient tech?” the nurse asked.

Since she probably didn’t mean all the ways he did have experience, which were mostly accidental or came attached with some kind of horrible danger, Cam went with: “No.”

So she started in on explaining, in detail, how every piece of Ancient medical tech worked. And she could have been trying to comfort him, maybe patients freaked out when they had to stick their heads in stuff or something. Cam tried to listen and he tried not to feel like he was being distracted and deliberately occupied.

Dr. Keller came back, cleaned up, in a few minutes. Maybe a bit longer than a few. Like fifteen.

What followed was a normal physical, not actually all that different from the many he’d had before, and despite the extensive lecture he’d just had, it involved barely any ancient tech. And the ones she did use weren’t scary.

“All good?” Cameron asked, when she was done. “Can I get the chip and the magic gene, now?”

“Sure,” Keller said. “Are you prone to keloid scars at all?”

Cam blinked at her. “I have no idea what that is,” he said. “So, no?”

“It’s tissue overgrowth during healing,” Keller said. “I didn’t see any on you, but I need to ask.”

“Why?” Cam asked.

“The new subcutaneous implants are bigger,” she said, taking a seat on the stool beside the exam table. “Because, as it was explained to me, the electronics have to be bigger so the signal can travel further. Some people have been having adverse reactions and other complications to the chips being bigger.”

“I was wondering why I had to get a new one,” Cameron said, poking at his arm above the elbow. “This one works fine.”

“It works on Earth,” Keller said. “It wouldn’t work if, say, we were looking for you across the whole Pegasus galaxy.”

“Right,” Cam said. “I guess we learned that the hard way.” And he probably shouldn’t have said that out loud. But Keller just nodded, looking down. She could have been avoiding eye contact, or she could have just been assembling the device to implant the new tracker.

“These are based on Wraith trackers,” she said, when she raised her eyes. “Subspace frequencies.”

“That’s actually really creepy,” Cam said, honestly. He wondered if Dex had one, considering the man’s history.

“Yeah,” Keller said, flatly. “Hold out your arm.” She had something that looked like a piercing gun in her hand. “It hurts more, now, too,” she warned. “I have to use a bigger needle.” And then she pulled the trigger.

“Motherfu-” Cameron managed to get his other hand over his face, muffling the other half of the obscenity. She hadn’t been kidding about it hurting more.

“Sorry.” Keller winced at him. “All done.”

Cam touched his arm where the instrument had touched him. The tiny inflamed circle was the only sign of any injury. When he pressed down, he could feel the hard, square outline of something under his skin.

“Huh,” he said.

“Don’t poke at it,” Keller said.

“Alright.” He dropped his hand.

“We’ll see about getting you the ATA-gene therapy in a few days,” Keller said, standing, He must have looked disappointed, because she went on: “Sorry. It takes a little while to prepare. Don’t worry. You can get dressed now.”

After Keller left, Cam swiftly redressed and left the exam room while still shoving his shoes on to his feet. And then he made a beeline to the back of the infirmary, where McKay had been being treated when Cameron had arrived.

No one tried to stop him, or even appeared to notice he wasn’t leaving. But either he was totally paranoid or they’d been really intent on keeping him away from McKay earlier.

Not so, now. Cam found McKay’s room, easily. Mostly because he passed a doorway and saw Emmagan sitting by a gurney.

“Hey,” Cam said, entering. “What happened? There a lemonade explosion in McKay’s lab or something?”

Emmagan glanced at him, face creased. She clearly didn’t find his joke funny. But someone rumbled softly from the far wall. Cam looked over, finding a very tall, very hairy man in leather pants leaning there. Even without an introduction, Cam knew this was Ronon Dex.

McKay was asleep. He was silent and still against the gurney. Cam thought he looked okay, maybe a little pinker than normal but no obvious injuries. Still, he knew what it was like to have a teammate in the infirmary, so he backed off on any further wisecracks.

“Hello,” he said, taking a step towards Dex. “We haven’t met.”

Emmagan rose from her seat. “This is Colonel Mitchell,” she said, tilting her head at him. “Colonel Mitchell, Ronon Dex.”

Cam offered his hand, wondering why Emmagan had done the introductions. “Cameron Mitchell,” he said. “Call me Cam.”

“Hey,” Dex said. He took Cameron’s handshake – not all that hard – and let go quickly. He didn’t offer the same familiarity, either.

“Is McKay okay?” Cam asked, stepping back and looking at the gurney.

“He is sedated,” Emmagan answered. “He was allergic to the substance he was analyzing in his lab.”

“He looks okay,” Cam observed.

“We got him back quick,” Dex said. He stayed leaning against the wall.

Cam looked at him in confusion.

“He got to the infirmary quickly,” Emmagan interjected. “From his lab.”

“Right.” Dex shrugged. He didn’t sound like he cared all that much.

“Good,” Cameron said, eyeing the two of them. He was trying not to be suspicious again. Emmagan seemed tense, but that could have been about McKay’s condition. Dex was the exact opposite, staying reclined against the wall and barely sparing a glance towards Cam.

Abruptly, Cam felt like a third wheel. These two were sitting vigil, more or less, and he was intruding.

“I’m gonna go,” he said. He jerked his head towards McKay’s still form. “Hope he wakes up soon.”


McKay did wake up soon. He was fine, just a little covered in hives. Shortly after that, Cameron got an emergency bulletin in his e-mail of a picture of a bushy plant with large, grapefruit-sized purple berries. The text of the document described it as common Pegasus fruit to which, apparently, Milky Way humans might be incredibly allergic. It warned against touching, let alone eating the berries. Cam took a second to wonder why McKay had been studying stupid berries for energy properties, but then he turned off the computer and headed off to get the ATA-gene therapy shot and completely forgot about the incident.

The ATA-gene therapy did not work on Cameron.

That sucked.

The medical staff must have sensed his disappointment, because they were awfully solicitous about it. It worked on less than half of the recipients, evidently. Nothing they could do, just a failing of the therapy. Nothing to do with Cameron. It wasn’t his fault his ancestors had never gotten freaky with the Ancients.

Cam tried to take it in stride and pretend it didn’t annoy him as much as it did. He wondered if anyone else was thinking how…incongruent, at best, it was that the military commander of the Atlantis couldn’t fly the Puddlejumpers or sit in the Control Chair to defend the city.

If they were, no one showed it to Cameron’s face.

To Cam, it seemed like a giant, concrete, and permanent reminder of one of the many ways he was not John Sheppard, who’d had pretty much the strongest gene expression ever recorded. And here Cameron was, unable to even turn on the lights without help.

He tried to focus on it more as a guideline than a weakness. Since Cam didn’t have the gene, he needed someone on his ‘Gate team who did. That would narrow the selection process down a bit. Emmagan didn’t have it – apparently had no intention of trying to get it, either.

The ATA-gene therapy had worked on McKay. If nothing else, it gave Cam some pretext to invite the man to join his team without it looking like he was just trying to recreate Sheppard’s team. Cameron wanted everyone to know that he recognized and respected what had come before him, and he was willing, but not necessarily committed to continuing it.

McKay turned him down flat.

Cam tracked him down a day or so after the man was released from the infirmary. McKay looked fine, any evidence of the allergic reaction and its hives hidden under his clothing.

He didn’t even let Cameron say anything beyond, “So, I’m forming a ‘Gate team -”

“No,” McKay interrupted. “I don’t have time. I’m too busy.”

McKay seemed determined to illustrate just how busy he was, rushing around his lab and forcing Cameron to follow him if he wanted to continue the conversation. Zelenka, also there, kept dodging out of his way, scowling.

“You were on a ‘Gate team before,” began Cam, knowing he sounded dangerously close to whining. Also, he wasn’t supposed to be reminding anyone about before.

“And it was a waste of my time,” snapped McKay, still darting back and forth between various stations and grabbing pieces of equipment off the counter. He could move pretty quick for a out of shape geek. “I am much more productive here. Everyone is happier now.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” muttered Zelenka, causing McKay to whirl on him.


“He was very productive in field, too,” Zelenka offered, grinning at Cam.

“Shut up, Radek! Hey, you needed a scientist on your team, take this one! I sure as hell don’t need him. He’s all yours.”

Cam looked Zelenka over: short, scruffy, and abruptly really unhappy he was being considered.

“Please no,” Zelenka said. “I prefer the lab.”

“Why don’t you get me a list of names,” Cameron said, granting Zelenka his reprieve. “Of your geeks that are willing to go off-world?” He followed McKay to yet another station. “Preferably with the gene?”

“Fine!” McKay waved his hand. “Would you get lost?”

McKay had refused, but he hadn’t been nearly as hostile as Cam had expected him to be. Well, not personally hostile. Not the kind of anger you directed at someone you personally resented for replacing your dead best friend. Cam counted that as a win and moved on.

Tracking down Ronon Dex was slightly more challenging. From what Cam could tell, he didn’t exactly stay very still. Dex was rarely in his quarters. He also didn’t answer when Cameron paged him on the intercom, which could have meant Dex simply didn’t have any interest in talking to Cam. Or that he was the hostile one Cam should be worrying about.

Sam had advised that one of Dex’s favorite activities was beating the crap out of Marines, but even when Cam staked out the gym, there was no sign of the man. Nor in the cafeteria during meal times. Or during less traditional meal times. It was sort of bizarre. The guy had to eat. Finally, after McKay got around to sending down the personnel files of scientists willing or at least available to go off-world but Cam still hadn’t managed to get a hold of Dex, Cameron made it known to Emmagan that he was having trouble finding the man.

He probably should have done that immediately, because shortly after he mentioned it to her, Cam ran into Dex stretching outside the gym he knew for a fact the other man hadn’t been near in a week.

“Hey,” Cam said, coming to a halt in the corridor. “I’ve been looking for you!”

Dex didn’t pause in stretching out his left hamstring. “Here I am,” he said, balancing easily on one leg. He cast a curious glance at Cameron, like Dex had been standing there the whole time.

“Where ya been?” Cam asked, keeping his voice mild. It wasn’t really any of his business, but he wanted Dex to be aware that he damn well knew Dex had been avoiding him.

“Off-world,” replied Dex, switching legs. He answered without any hesitation and it sounded true.

Cam hadn’t expected honesty. “Oh,” he said. Dex didn’t say anything, just kept stretching.

“Teyla said you were going on pilgrimages?” Cam prompted.

Dex finished stretching and straightened up in smooth, fluid movement. He met Cam’s eyes, face blank. “Yep.”

“Oh,” Cam said. He felt thwarted. Dex wasn’t being hostile. He wasn’t being aggressive. He didn’t even seem to care that Cam was asking him very pointed questions. “So,” Cam continued. “Guess you’re pretty busy, then.”

“Yeah,” Dex said. “I’m gonna go run now.” He tipped his head down the hallway.

“Okay,” Cam said, because there wasn’t really anything else he could say. Dex didn’t want to be asked, that much was clear. If Cameron tried to, now, it would just be awkward and probably make Cam look pathetic. “See you around,” he said, and Dex took off.


So, the first three months of Cameron’s tenure on Atlantis were spent trying to form a ‘Gate team. It was a lot harder than he would have thought, even though he’d known ahead of time that Sheppard’s team was probably not going to become his team. Evidently, he’d still been in a little bit of denial about that.

Emmagan had agreed to join him, at least. Cam did feel good about that. Even if he hadn’t liked her personally – which he did – he was pretty sure that having her by his side made the rest of Atlantis like him more than they might have otherwise. And that was a weird thing to contemplate, that being approved of by the Pegasus alien somehow gave the genuine Milky Way American guy more legitimacy. It was her galaxy, after all, so maybe it wasn’t that strange.

It probably would have bothered him more if he hadn’t liked Emmagan. But he did. She was easy to get along with . He would eventually forget about the initial weirdness on her end during his first week on Atlantis. She was smart and calm – totally levelheaded about everything. He wasn’t entirely sure that he knew how to have a team member completely unlikely to go off halfcocked, but it was a good problem to have.

Emmagan helped him select two more team members. She knew most of the soldiers and scientists, so she at least had a starting point. Cameron half suspected that McKay would have picked the most annoying people in his department that he just wanted to get out of his hair.

It wasn’t nearly as momentous as when Cam had reunited SG-1, but it still felt good. With Emmagan’s input, he selected a Spanish soldier with the gene and a Chinese scientist from McKay's lab. Both seemed competent and sane, which was a good place to start. Both were kind of quiet, maybe a little shy. Cam figured they'd come around. If not, he was open to some rearranging. He was the boss, after all. It probably wasn't a good idea to start cannibalizing existing teams to get the personalities he wanted, but it was an option.

Nothing really terrible happened in Cameron's first three months in Pegasus. He kept waiting for someone to turn on him, for someone to challenge his leadership or something. The two main suspects for such behavior, McKay and Dex, didn't do anything of the sort. He very rarely heard from McKay. Dex was equally silent. Both men were definitely keeping busy, maybe deliberately so. He only ever saw McKay in the cafeteria and had to make a conscious effort to track down Dex.

Cam didn't really have any reason to want to have them around. McKay's department wasn't military, after all. And Dex wasn't military or even from Earth. He had no real authority, except if Dex was de facto military, Cam kind of thought he should see the guy a little more often.

Part of it was that Cameron had been expecting trouble. He'd been expecting McKay to be an obnoxious asshole that threw tantrums and tried to undermine Cam. And Dex, well, he wasn't quite sure what he'd expected, but it wasn't this. He would have preferred aggression and attitude to the neutral disinterest Dex directed at him. That was just annoying.

He would admit that some of it was that he wanted the former members of Sheppard team to…well, at this point he’d have settled for Dex and McKay to acknowledge him. Cam didn’t see them enough to be sure that either of them fully realized that he, Cameron Mitchell, was in charge now. That might have been a childish feeling, but it stayed.

Maybe it was the fact that for being the leader of an Ancient city in another galaxy, his life on Atlantis was actually kind of boring. Less interesting than his time at the SGC. It could have been his team. He enjoyed having Emmagan around, but the other two were mostly just quiet and obedient. Maybe it was the language barrier. Cam never would have thought that he would have missed Jackson's babbling or Vala's pathological attraction to trouble. But he did.

Most of the missions during those first few months were also, well, boring. Exchanging beans and whatnot with various natives. Important, sure, but not all that challenging. He hadn't even met the Wraith, yet. Not that he wanted an up close and personal encounter with those monsters, but apparently he kind of did. He just wanted something more interesting than handing over one trade item, receiving another, and then packing it in.

He had a few amusements. Emmagan would spar with him, and that was fun if a little dispiriting. He hated getting beaten by an opponent who took breaks to breastfeed her son. Not very enlightened male of him, but it was the truth. Emmagan’s little boy was still just a baby, toddling around the halls of Atlantis. Someone eventually told Cameron the kid was named after John Sheppard, and he kind of wished they hadn’t. It changed the way Cam looked at the kid, like Emmagan’s son represented more than just a happy little boy.

Later, Cam would realize what a colossal moron he’d been during this peaceful, uneventful time.


Everything changed very, very quickly.

About four months after his arrival on Atlantis, a blaring alarm woke Cameron in the middle of the night. At first, he thought it was his clock, so he leaned over and whacked at his bedside table, trying to stop the racket. Eventually, he realized the sound wasn’t coming from his quarters and that he was being repeatedly paged by someone screaming into his earpiece.

“What the hell is going on?” Cam shouted into his earpiece. He lurched out of bed and found some pants, struggling to get dressed in the dark.

He could barely hear a response over the siren and static was filling the comm. line. Cam shoved on his boots and raced from his quarters. The moment he was out in the corridor, he felt the floor beneath his feet actually shake. The siren stayed on, but Cam could hear something else as he ran down the corridor. It sounded like explosions.

The next two hours were a blur. Cam had to stand by, helpless, next to Woolsey while pilots with the gene took flight in Puddlejumpers and Lorne manned the Control Chair.

Atlantis was under fire. Cameron could see what looked like rockets streaking through the sky, aiming at whatever part of the city they could reach. They looked small and sinister, and they were punching through the shield like it wasn’t even there.

“How the hell are they doing that?” he demanded, unable to stop flinching every time another rocket slipped through what looked like dozens of pockets suddenly appearing the shield.

“I think projectiles have shield with same frequency,” Zelenka’s voice came over Cam’s earpiece. The man sounded out of breath and panicked. “Is no barrier.”

Cam watched another dozen missiles appear in the sky.

“Evacuate,” he said to Woolsey, tensely.

It took a second for the other man to respond, also staring in shock out the window. “The towers,” Woolsey said, finally. “At least.

“Are there any Hive ships on their way?” Cam asked one of the techs, hunched over his station.

“No, sir,” the man responded. “Just those things.”

“How many?”

The guy stared at his screen. “A lot,” he said. “A lot.”

Before the two hours were over, one of Atlantis’ spires would take a direct hit from two of the projectiles. It cracked and started leaning, towards the water thankfully and not the rest of the city. Cam watched in horror as the building ripped away, fire raging inside, and tumbled into the sea.

“Fire containment,” he ordered into his radio, more automatic than anything else. The teams would already have been assembling, they didn’t need the command.

Finally, there were no more missiles in the sky. Only a few had actually impacted the city, the rest deflected by the drones or by destroyed in the air by the Puddlejumpers. He could see the wreckage, churning in the ocean. Miraculously, only two ships had gone down and the pilots had gotten out.

Cam recalled half the Puddlejumpers, leaving the rest out there just in case. But he needed to rest at least some of the pilots, in case there was a second wave. The techs’ screens were blank, but they also hadn’t seen this one coming. Cam felt tense and exhausted at the same time, useless adrenaline still strumming in his veins.

“Conference room,” he said to Woolsey, who nodded.


It wasn’t over.

The meeting in the conference room was cancelled before it began, moved instead to McKay’s lab.

“They missed one,” Zelenka said, when Cam, Woolsey, and Emmagan were all gathered around him. Lorne remained in the chair, another precaution. Zelenka pointed to a screen with a point pulsating in the center of some gridlines.

“What is that?” Cam asked, a bad feeling shooting through his chest.

“Projectile,” Zelenka answered. “But is not explosive. Is very tiny and I think it deliberately missed the city. Is in the sea”

“Why?” asked Woolsey.

At the same time, Cam picked up on the first sentence. “What is it?” he asked.

“Probe,” Zelenka said. “Is trying to broadcast our location back to its origin.”

“What?” demanded Cam, while Woolsey heaved a breath.

“Is trying,” Zelenka repeated, “I have several programs interfering.”

“Good,” said Cam. “Let’s blow it up.”

“No, no,” Zelenka said. “Is designed for you to try to do that. Explosion would interrupt my programs, would allow it to transmit our coordinates before it was destroyed.”

“How can we stop it?” Emmagan asked, when both Woolsey and Cameron went quiet.

Zelenka shrugged. “I have no idea.” He looked from Cameron to Woolsey and back again. “Give me time. I need to conference with others.”

“Do we have time?” asked Emmagan, looking worried.

That made Zelenka run a hand through his messy hair. “I have no idea.”

In the silence, Cam glanced around the lab at the other scientists frantically typing at their keyboards and handing off tablets to each other.

“Where’s McKay?” he asked, suddenly realizing the man wasn’t there.

Zelenka was rising and heading back towards all the activity.

“McKay,” Cam repeated, when it looked like Zelenka wasn’t going to answer.

“I don’t have time to explain,” Zelenka said, looking with big eyes at Woolsey, even though it was Cam who had asked the question.


It was over almost as quickly as it started. For a few terrifying hours, all Cam could do was watch the little spot blinking on the grid lines, somewhere out there in the ocean. They didn’t even know where it had come from, who was waiting to receive the coordinates to Atlantis.

Cam really wanted to blow the thing up, regardless of Zelenka’s warning. He had visions of a Wraith hive fleet, already on its way.

But then, Zelenka called on the radio. The man sounded exhausted. “Is dead,” he said. “We wrote malicious program to destroy software. It worked.”

Emmagan sighed in relief, while Woolsey rested his head in his hands.

“I can blow it up, now?” Cam checked.

“Yes,” said Zelenka.

“Good,” Cameron said, and ordered the remaining circling Puddlejumpers to do just that.

It didn’t make him feel any better, though.

The aftermath was chaotic. Cam worked with Lorne to organize engineering teams to try and stabilize the area around the lost tower. He let half the military squads go home and sleep.

And then he had a meeting with Woolsey, Emmagan, Keller, and Zelenka to talk about what the hell had just happened.

“Wraith?” he asked.

Emmagan nodded. “It would appear so,” she said. “But it could also be Michael.” She looked at him like she didn’t want to explain who that was.

“I read about him,” he said. “I didn’t realize this kind of thing was at his disposal.”

“It is,” Emmagan said, without elaboration.

“Does he know where we are, then?” Cam asked.

“No,” said Zelenka. “Those objects were programmed to look for Atlantis, to find city with shield like ours and cause damage.”

“And then tell daddy where we were,” Cam interjected.

Woolsey shuddered. “So he could attack in the aftermath.”

“Precisely,” Zelenka said.

“Fabulous,” Cameron observed. He looked at Keller. “Casualties?”

“No fatalities,” Keller reported, trying to smile. “Miraculously. But I had thirty-nine casualties. Ten burn victims and most of the others had more minor injuries. All of them are expected to survive.”

“Good,” Woolsey murmured.

“Is Rodney McKay among them?” Cameron asked. For a second, Keller blinked at him with big eyes. “It’s an easy question. Is Rodney McKay among them?” he repeated.

“Um,” Keller hesitated. “No,” she said, finally.

“Okay,” Cam said, leaning back in his chair. He looked accusingly from Woolsey to Emmagan, then to Keller and Zelenka. “Then where the hell is he?” Silence answered him. “If I’m not mistaken,” he continued, gruffly, “Using his brain to save this city from this kind of thing is exactly his job. No disrespect, Dr. Zelenka, your and your people did an excellent job.”

Zelenka dipped his head, but otherwise avoided eye contact. “Thank you.”

“So, where the hell is he?” Cam asked.

“He is off-world with Ronon Dex.” It was Emmagan that finally answered him. Her voice was calm, face honest.

“Why?” Cameron demanded. “And why the hell is it a secret?” He looked at Woolsey, who was leaning back in his chair. “Did you know about this?”

“Yes and no,” Woolsey replied. Cam glared at him ‘till he elaborated. “I have plausible deniability if the IOA asks if I knew about it,” Woolsey said. “I didn’t know specifics.”

“Plausible deniability?” Cam echoed, trying to keep his anger under control. “What the hell am I missing, here?”

“Ronon and Rodney are still looking for Colonel Sheppard,” Zelenka confessed, face pinched. “Against IOA orders.”

Cameron stared at him. “Oh.” He was silent for a second. “And you all knew about this.” All the heads at the table nodded. “Everyone knew about this,” Cam realized. “Except me.”

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Part 3

Tags: keller, mitchell, rodney, ronon, teyla, woolsey

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