Transmutation Part 3

Chapter 11

Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

“The world has gone fucking insane.” Tony shoved his suspect at the guard. “Take him. I am officially done with the madness.”

“Go on, I’ve got him DiNozzo. What are we booking this one for?”

“Murder.”

The suspect jerked, “It ain’t murder. He wasn’t even human. It was one of those mind-reading aliens.” He turned toward the junior agent that was handling this shift’s intake. “You understand, don’t you? It was reading my mind. We can’t let those things live near good patriotic humans.”

Tony shook his head as the suspect was led away and he headed back to the bullpen.

This has been one giant nightmare since Vice President Kinsey’s bombshell. And, instead of calming people down, the White House made a bonehead move and tried to shut down the network to intercept the files. Someone at the network got away with everything, and it was sometime around midnight that everything was dumped onto the internet.

There was fear, there was unrest, and then it was chaos. Fights at supermarkets while everyone stocked up on supplies. The crazies preaching the end of the world after the “angels” were now preaching the end by aliens.

But it was the violence against innocents that pissed Tony off the most. Anyone who had been sick the last couple months for any reason became a target overnight. It was some kind of mob mentality that the media was fueling with their hourly updates on the data out on the internet. Every new revelation set off a shitstorm of paranoia.

The elevator opened, and he walked onto the bullpen floor. There was a full house here 24/7. They had converted three of the conference rooms with cots and made NCIS Headquarters into a command center. Bases were on alert.

Rounding the corner, he looked up and saw the monitors around the room playing scenes from different stations in an attempt to cover as much news as possible. It didn’t really matter. One riot looked about the same as any other.

The main screen began broadcasting the D.C. curfew reminders. How many people would Park Police have to roust from Lafayette Square tonight?

The slamming of a phone drew his attention. “Gibbs, getting upset isn’t going to resolve the problems. McGee is just following Tony’s lead because he looks up to him as a big brother. As an only child in an idyllic military officer’s family, he obviously learned to worship authority figures. He showed that early when he did everything possible to win your attention and approval. But, now that he’s on the team, Tony is the one that’s been feeding that need for attention.”

Seriously? Is that what she thought? Only child? Where did she get her profiling training? He stayed where he was to continue listening, “And, Tony’s just a silver spoon frat boy that never had to work a day to get whatever he wanted. He probably learned to manipulate people in the cradle. As soon as you slap him down and get him back in line, McGee will follow. It’s just a tantrum, Gibbs. He’s probably still reacting to almost dying from the plague, and this is overcompensation.”

Overcompensation? Tony just shook his head and decided to interrupt this lovefest. He moved forward, “Hey, Boss, the perp is being processed. I’m going to get to work on the report.” He turned toward his desk.

“Where the hell is McGee?”

“He’s a few minutes behind me. He just needed to make a call.”

“He can make a call on his own time. We don’t know how much longer until we get another call out and I need those background records on the Markham brother. I’m betting there is something in that damn information dump, and I will get it,” Gibbs demanded.

“Well, seeing as we haven’t been home in four days, I think McGee has the right to one phone call,” Tony responded. “You didn’t complain when Kate was calling her sister in the car. Bit of a double standard if you ask me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, DiNozzo. I’ve already checked ship movements. Admiral McGee is with the fleet in the Gulf. So there’s no one else that he could be calling.” Kate stated smugly. “You can hardly equate me checking on my sister with McGee calling one of his tech friends.”

“Oh, really, Kate? As it just so happens, he’s spent the last two days trying to track down his little sister in Europe. She’s backpacking with a group from Waverly, and he hasn’t heard from her since Kinsey’s little ZNN bombshell. But, hey, that’s not as important as you speaking to the sister that dropped off lunch for you and Gibbs. Certainly not as important as Gibbs getting data on a case he was ordered to drop.”  Tony turned away and booted up his computer while trying to ignore the death glares.

“Tim’s an only child,” Kate insisted.

“And, what exactly did you base that intel on, Agent Todd? You were in his apartment once; did you not see the photo of McGee and his sister at her High School graduation? Or the one of them at Christmas when he was 14, and she was 7? How very observant of you.” He could feel pulses of anger from the two of them and was just too tired and on edge to deal.

“If he has a sister, what’s her name?”

“You know what, Kate? You’re supposed to be an investigator. So, find it yourself. Or do you investigate as well as you profile?” Tony picked up his bag and grabbed McGee’s from his desk.

Gibbs was in his face within two steps, “Where do you think you’re going, DiNozzo?”

“I think I am going to drive McGee home and make sure my probie gets a hot meal, a shower, clean clothes, and at least 8 hours sleep. If they start burning down the Capitol, then call me. Otherwise, we will be back tomorrow.” He stepped around Gibbs and headed down the stairs to avoid being trapped in an elevator with Gibbs while sending a mental message to Tim.

Tim was waiting next to Tony’s car when he arrived, “What’s going on, Tony?”

“Get in.”

“Tony?”

“Now!, McGee.” Tony ordered, “I’m guessing we have 30 seconds before Mt Gibbs erupts and I want to be out of the parking lot before it happens.”

Tim slid into the passenger seat as Tony threw the bags in the back. He was silent until they had made it past the guard checkpoint and were out on the road toward Silver Springs. “You want to tell me what brought that on?”

“I have just had it with Kate passing her pop psychology off for genuine profiling. Gibbs wants you trolling the data dump for information on the Markham family. And, when I tried to explain that you were trying to track down your sister in Europe, I was accused of lying because you are obviously an only child with daddy issues.”

Tony got onto the highway, “I’m of course a frat boy looking for a good time and can’t have an original thought if it isn’t in my pants. So, I’m leading you astray, and Gibbs needs to put me in my place.”

“OK, wow, well, we’ve known for a while the two of them have issues. But that is so far off base, how was she even certified as a profiler?”

“Exactly! So, I basically told them both where to shove it. Then I told Gibbs that we are taking 8 hours downtime to get cleaned up, fed up, and rested up.”

Tim was silently contemplative the rest of the drive. Once they were in the apartment, behind locked doors, “Tony, I’m not sure how much longer I can work with them. I know things are different with us now, but were they always like this? Was I so clueless that I couldn’t see how unbalanced they all are? Ducky’s the only one remotely close to normal, at least I think he is. He’s the only one I can’t read, but he’s not one of us.”

“I honestly don’t know. There was a time I would have walked through fire for all of them, but…ya know what? Tonight is not a night for making decisions because I might just tell them all where to shove it.”

Tony left the bags where they fell and checked out the kitchen to see if there was anything salvageable. Well, the vegetable bin was a waste. He dumped it all as he heard the shower turn on. Frozen lasagna in a box, He contemplated throwing that one out, too. Ramen noodles, seriously, he needed to work on Probie’s palate. OK, So, canned soup over noodles it is.

About 20 minutes later he was serving his dorm-room feast, while Tim filled glasses with water. “So, any word on Sarah?”

Tim half-smiled, “I didn’t reach Sarah, but I was able to get an answer from the Admiral’s office. Sarah left a message with them that they made it to Italy and are headed to Rome. She will try to get a to the U.S. from there, but if there’s an issue, she is going to see if she can get help with the American Embassy. The Aide instructed her to head for Sigonella if there are any delays and he will arrange for her to get some kind of transport. But, frankly, she’s stubborn, and I don’t know if she will leave her friends since she can’t guarantee them a trip home.”

“It’s a mess, but at least you know she’s ok for now.”

“Yeah, I know. But I still worry.”

“What about your grandmother?”

“I told you, never let her hear you call her that. Penny is fine. She refuses to take precautions, and she told me not to worry about the nonsense. Penny is doing a thorough scientific evaluation of the information she is harvesting. She had the flu like everyone there, but it was nothing like what they are blowing it up to be. It passed in 12 hours, and she’s fine.”

“So, if what they say is right, then it was your mother’s side of the family that was alien.” Tony raised an eyebrow.

“As if the Admiral would allow even the hint of something to taint his pristine image.” Tim picked up his empty bowl and took it to the sink. What about you, Tony? See, this is what I don’t get. You never had the flu. How can the flu be responsible for what we can do, if you never had it?”

Tony joined him, handing over the bowl while picking up the towel to dry. “I don’t know if this is real or not, but I’ve got our fake IDs at my place. I dropped them off before we went out on that last call. Figure I still need to pack a bag with the essentials so we can be ready to move if things drop like my gut says they will. Let’s get some sleep, then tomorrow you pack a go bag.”

– – – –

Oval Office, White House, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

“Oh, for cryin’ out loud…sirs, was I the only person who noticed that Kinsey just happened to appear on national tv for an interview with a briefcase full of classified documents, photos, and video of Stargate Program mission reports. The man knowingly and willfully committed treason. Why is this even a question? Arrest him.” Jack interjected.

“Jack, the problem is that the White House is practically under siege right now. People are demanding answers, and we can’t sweep this under the rug. The United Nations is demanding I appear by Wednesday to answer their questions about the Program. Frankly, I’m convinced that the Kinsey supporters would riot if we try to charge him before we calm things down.” President Hayes responded.

The White House Chief of Staff, Stewart Griggs, insisted, “We have to look to the politics of the situation. We have Vice President Kinsey on house arrest. He is allowed no communications in or out. We can’t hold that indefinitely, but I think if we structure the President’s statement to the UN appropriately, we can present the facts of the Program and assure the people that the President has been searching for a way to prepare the American People for the declassification of the Program.”

Jack shook his head, “People are never going to be ready for this.”

“This isn’t about fact, it’s about perception. We must make people recognize that Kinsey is not a hero, he’s a traitor. And, we still do not have any proof that this virus originated off-world. People are fickle, and Henry is an excellent orator. Given a chance, he can sway people to our view. Once public opinion is on our side, then we arrest Bob Kinsey and charge him with everything in our arsenal.”

Henry nodded, “We have to find a way to calm people down. The last report was over 82 violent crimes in the last 2 days attributed directly to Bob’s interview.”

“I believe that number is vastly underestimated, sir,” Jack added.

“What about the vaccinations?” Henry inquired.

Mya Bradford opened her folder and began reporting, “Health clinics and hospitals have been overwhelmed with people seeking the vaccinations. Distribution is a little rough because we have focused deployment into the areas with verifiable flu cases. Doctors’ offices are closed for the weekend, but I expect doctors to be overwhelmed as well, come Monday. We have started a public service broadcast into areas to notify them of when the vaccine will be available in their clinics. The CDC is coordinating everything.”

“Ok, we will add that information to the press secretary’s agenda,” Henry stated. He looked at Griggs, “What else do we have today?”

– – – –

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Sunday, June 26, 2005

“Colonel Sheppard? Can I speak with you?” Jason Markham stood at the door to John’s office. The man looked awful. John couldn’t blame him. It was bad enough telling people that their families had been abducted, but he had been forced to inform Jason that his brother was in ICU from the attack and his nephews taken by force. The report had added that the mother had been involved some way and was later killed.

“Jason, come on in.” John waited until the man was seated and then mentally nudged the door closed. He looked like he was on edge and the last thing he needed was people watching.

Markham took a few calming breaths before he started speaking. “Sir, I respectfully request authorization to travel back to Earth, sir.”

“I understand how you feel, but we need all hands on deck to help with the influx of refugees. General O’Neill has made it clear that your presence there will not help matters and he has the best team possible searching for your nephews. He is keeping me in the loop so that I can share information with you as soon as it’s available.”

“I understand that I can’t help with the search. But I have to be there, Colonel. I just have to.” He choked back on emotion, trying to compose himself.

“Jason, I understand how you…”

“No, sir. No, sir, you don’t. With all due respect, sir, you don’t know how I feel.” Jason took a slight gasp of breath, “The last time I saw Jake we argued. It was a pretty bad fight. I yelled things about his psycho wife, and he yelled about the risks I was taking dating men. We fought, and he ordered me to never come back to his home.”

John offered him some water when he was struggling, but he just shook it off. “Sir, the last words I had with my brother were in anger before I left on a one-way mission to another galaxy. And, even when we made contact, I didn’t try. I can’t let it end like that. Those kids and Jake are the only family I have left. Can you imagine leaving your family behind in anger and never having a chance to make it right?”

He looked at John with such pleading and genuine need, “If you could have a second chance to have your family back, would you take it, sir? Please, I have to know I took the chance. I have to be there for Jake now.”

John stared, flashing back to a fight, and slamming doors, and walking away with screams and ultimatums at his back. And, in the window, a small child in tears. “We have a dial-out in one hour. Pack light. I expect you to return with more than you’re taking.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Markham was smiling.

“Dismissed.”

Markham stood and saluted before turning to leave, practically running when he hit the door.

John stared at the door for a few minutes before reaching into the desk and pulling out one of the few, rare pieces of paper. He hesitated briefly before picking up the pen. With the slightest bit of tremor, he started to write.

– – – –

John was waiting in the Gate Room when McKay entered with Miko Kusanagi and Radek Zelenka on his heals. He had six military and nine scientists leaving out on this dial. All save Miko and Jason Markham were unaltered human. He twinged at the thought because he still thought of them all as human, but there was a growing belief that they weren’t.

These people had decided that they wanted to return to Earth, in the event people became trapped here. Only one of them was first expedition, and frankly, the entire science division was voting Peter Kavanagh off the city. He had been complaining for the last two days since the decision was reached.

John tuned out the never-ending protests as he stepped up to Markham. “Sergeant. I need you to deliver this directly into General O’Neill’s hands.” He handed Markham a sealed envelope, “The General only, you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

John turned away before he had second thoughts and approached Rodney and his merry band. He could hear Rodney giving final instructions.

“There are two of those area shields. We’ve been through everything, so they should sync with the ZPM power source we are sending. One for the Mountain and one for Area 51 so O’Neill can keep our people safe if it comes to it. You know the programming on those almost as well as I do, so don’t let Carter or anyone else take them from you.”

McKay snapped his fingers, and Zelenka rolled his eyes before pulling out a thumb drive, “Very comprehensive supplies list. In order of need. We must have first twenty-five, would prefer first 49.”

“Oh, please, we would prefer everything. But if you have to drop, try to drop from the end of the list.”

“Prepare the shields for deployment and get everything I can for your woefully under-prepared list.” Miko agreed, “And then I assist General O’Neill to control the flow of information regarding the program which they have allowed to leak.”

John chuckled at Rodney’s outrage, “I don’t think they exactly allowed the info to leak.”

She scoffed, “They allowed a known enemy to speak without guaranteeing his intentions. I too have seen the video; he came prepared to expose the program. Anyone that wanted to could have read him before the interview and revealed his intentions before he could act, yet they were too polite for that. It is ridiculous.”

McKay was grinning at Radek now, and John just shook his head and raised his hands. He refused to get into this argument. The change had a terrific effect on Miko in John’s opinion. She had always been dedicated, brilliant, but meek. But now that she can read everyone’s minds and realized that she really is smarter than most of them, she has come out of her shell and was happy to speak her mind. It. Was. Great.

 The soldiers stepped up to take the cases for the ZPMs and shields, before queueing up for the gate. As soon as they stepped through with Markham in the lead and the civilians in the middle, McKay stopped Miko. He handed her a much smaller package.

“Here are three of the ancient personal shields. I was able to adapt them to work a little better with mental commands and recharge them. One of these is for O’Neill, make him wear it. The second is for you. You keep it on your person 24/7. If I find out that you weren’t wearing it then I will tan your hide myself when you get back. The third, I leave up to you and O’Neill to decide.”

“I understand.” She took the package, then reached out to hug Rodney briefly. “You take care of yourself. Don’t let the idiots destroy the city before I get back.” Then she turned and quickly walked through the open gate.

– – – –

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Sunday, June 26, 2005

It was late when the Apollo beamed Jack into the Mountain. He knew he was striking a nerve with Hank by camping out in the Mountain and commuting to D.C., but Jack had that itch in his gut again that said he needed to be here. So, Hank just needed to suck it up and deal.

Jack had Davis raiding warehouses across the U.S. for surplus. They were pushing it through the gate as quickly as they could. He was trying to think of everything needed to support the expanding population of Atlantis, but he knew he was probably missing some critical things.

Jack chuckled, yeah, right, he was thinking of it. Give credit where it’s due, Davis and Harriman were coordinating data. He had wholesale appropriated Walter at the first opportunity when he staked out an office in the Mountain. Walter’s three kids were pushed through a day ago, along with Walter’s mother. Wonderful woman, reorganized his entire desk, watched three children and corrected two supply orders while waiting for their dial out. Wasted in retirement.

The alarms rang and the familiar tones of “Incoming Traveler” sounded. He needed to check the schedule to see who was coming. Wait, no he didn’t, that’s Hank’s job. Smiling smugly, he went back to work, reviewing personnel.

A knock on the door interrupted his daydreaming, “Sir, Sgt. Jason Markham reporting as ordered by Colonel Sheppard.”

Jack motioned him in and saw the little Japanese scientist from McKay’s crew behind him. He included her in the command while trying to remember her name. He would get this… “How can I help you.”

Markham pulled out an envelope, “Colonel Sheppard directed me to put this into your hands. He said he trusted you to handle it.”

“Thank you. Unless there’s anything else, you’re dismissed.” Jack was staring at the scientist…Misso? No.

“Yes, sir. I would like permission to go to my brother in Virginia to see if he can be healed, sir. The report indicated that he was badly injured when my nephews were taken.” Markham requested.

Ah, hell. That’s why the name is familiar. “It’s a delicate situation, Sergeant. With the way the program was just outed, we need to be careful how things are seen.”

“Please, sir. He’s the only family I have left. I need to try. I won’t even go in uniform if it helps. Just give me a chance,” Jason pleaded.

Jack stared at the sergeant a minute while considering. The genie is out of the bottle, so their original reasons for leaving his brother in place no longer applied. “Ok, go to Dr. Lam and get her help. Try to get him someplace without surveillance and we can beam you all up. If not, we can try to move him via official channels.” Jack conceded.

“Thank you, sir.” Markham turned toward the scientist, “Dr. Kusanagi, I will return as soon as I’m able.”

“I am perfectly safe here in the Mountain. Please see to your brother.”

Yes. That’s it. Kusan…that. Ok. “And, how can I help you, Doctor?”

“You can authorize me to do what Dr. McKay has ordered.” Cheeky little…

“And what orders does McKay have?” Jack bit back.

She reached into a bag. “First, he has sent you a personal shield. You will wear it at all times. It is mentally activated so you will think shield when you need protection.” OK, nifty personal shield, maybe he can put up with McKay.

“Second, Dr. McKay has sent you two ZPMs to supply power to this base and area 51.” Well, now that’s more like it. McKay’s not so bad. His sister must be mellowing him.

“Third, Dr. McKay has sent shields to cover Cheyenne Mountain and Area 51. With the ZPMs powering the shields, they can last a few hundred years with Earths current technology.” Now, Jack always did like Rodney. The man could really think his way through a problem.

He smiled broadly, “You bring the best gifts, Doctor.”

“Now I will go coordinate supplies which Atlantis must have. Then we will make war against those who possess information about our project and our families. I look forward to battle.” Kusanagi stated, and Jack felt a shiver up his spine. Geeks truly were the most terrifying force in the universe.

– – – –

Chapter 12

Richmond Memorial Hospital, Richmond, VA

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dr. Carolyn Lam entered Richmond Memorial Hospital with Sgt. Jason Markham and two of her staff. They were all dressed in jeans and t-shirts to downplay the military aspect. As far as anyone here was concerned, Sgt. Markham returned from deployment to learn of his brother’s condition and asked his good friend, Dr. Lam, to come and explain everything to him. She shook her head and wondered when she changed from doctor to sci-fi-spy.

They stopped at the information desk, as any worried relative would do. “Hi, I’m trying to find my brother? Sgt.. Jacob Markham.”

The woman at the desk typed for a moment before her expression changed from pleasantly helpful to sympathetic, “Oh, your brother is currently in ICU. Would you like me to get a volunteer to show you the way?”

“No, thank you. Can you tell me the way?”

“Of course.”

Carolyn paid attention to the directions while nodding to one of her escorts. He would stay at the elevator bank to give them warning of anything headed their way.

Several minutes later, they entered ICU. They were stopped by a nurse before they could enter the secure zone. “Mr. Markham?”

“That’s me.”

“Yes, Kristine from the lobby called to let us know you were on your way. Dr. Paulson is in with your brother now. If you can wait a moment, he would like to speak to you before you go in.” She led him toward an empty family waiting area.

“I would like to see my brother as soon as possible. I was deployed and just learned he was injured,” Jason urged.

“Yes, I understand.” She looked over her shoulder briefly then turned back. Dr. Paulson is—aware—that you were deployed. Please, just give him a moment.”

Carolyn watched her leave and was concerned, “I don’t like this.”

Jason shrugged, “I want to go in, but something tells me to give the doctor some time.”

It was ten very long minutes later when Dr. Paulson entered the room. He looked first at Carolyn carefully, then at Jason. “Sgt.. Markham? You and your brother do look a bit alike.”

“Yes. Can you tell me how my brother is?”

“Of course, if you could come with me.” He turned and led them into ICU. There were two nurses at the desk, monitoring patients. Three beds were occupied, but there were no visitors with the patients.

“Your brother suffered severe trauma. He is currently on a respirator.”

Carolyn got her first look at the patient and was frankly surprised. Yes, he was on a respirator, but she expected more physical evidence of the assault.

“Jake.” Jason stepped forward and put a hand on his brother’s arm.

“He had surgery to stop the internal bleeding and repair a punctured lung. There were fractures to two ribs, the right ulna, and the left cheekbone.  Frankly, the internal bleeding should have been fatal. We still don’t know how he survived.”

Carolyn stepped forward and uncovered his chest, the wound looked like it was weeks old instead of days old. She exchanged a look with Jason. “Can we have a moment alone with him?”

Dr. Paulson took a deep breath. “Look, I grew up on Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dr. Who. When I saw the Vice President’s interview, I knew there had to be something to this. I’ve tried to read everything I could find. You’re some of the people who can do all this stuff. I searched for your name, and it said you were part of it.”

Jason and Carolyn tensed up, preparing for trouble.

“Look, if there’s something you can do to help him, please. Do it.” The doctor blew out some air. “And…If you can help him, there’s a kid down here that’s not going to make it. Can you try?”

Carolyn bit her lip and looked at Markham, “Jason, physically he seems to be healing. Mentally?”

Jason looked around at the doctor and nurses watching them. He reached out and touched his brother’s head, then cocked his head to the side. “He’s in there. Locked in his mind. He’s trying to wake up but there’s a block stopping him. He doesn’t have the energy to get past it alone.” He looked at Carolyn, and she nodded and took a step back. With the first hand still on the head, he placed the second on his chest and began to glow.

The readings slowly showed more awareness. When Jacob started fighting the respirator, the doctor uncovered a tray, pulled on some gloves and moved to remove the breathing tube. The glow intensified, and Jacob Markham woke up.

“Jake!” Jason leaned down to hug his brother, who was still disoriented.

Carolyn looked around, they couldn’t keep people out long. “Where is the other patient?”

“This way.” He took her to a girl of about six or seven. “We didn’t want to get her mother’s hope up if you couldn’t help.”

Carolyn moved forward to feel the damage, healing took touch. “Can I see her chart?” A nurse quickly stepped forward with the information.

It only took a glance to confirm what she had felt. Children and bullets don’t mix. “I can help her.”

“Let me get her mother, just in case.” The nurse ran out, while the doctor prepped a tray next to the child to remove the many machines keeping her connected with a life her body was trying to shed.

There was murmuring as footsteps approached. The woman looked like she had been dragged through hell but had an inner strength to hold on. “Ma’am, is it true? Can you save my Amari?”

Carolyn looked at her and smiled. “Yes, I can help.”

There was a soft sob, but she stepped away and let Carolyn continue. Carolyn’s only had a few simple injuries to practice, but so much of it was intuitive. She reached out and urged the energy present in the child to maintain and grow. When it hit a point that was like a balance just about to tip, she pulled on the energy and redirected it back in, through cells and torn vessels.

Carolyn maintained her focus until she felt the energy flow become self-sustaining and then pulled back to monitor. Eventually, she determined the healing that remained would proceed at an accelerated rate without her input, and she withdrew.

She was tired, but smiled, as she saw the last of the machines pulled away and the child opened her eyes. She backed out of the space quickly and turned to return to the Markham brothers and stumbled. That really wiped her out.

Dr. Paulson’s hand steadied her, “Thank you. No matter what anyone else thinks, you have a true gift that I would pay any price to have.”

“Please don’t say anything.”

He nodded and glanced at the surrounding nurses. “Your secret is safe here. Do you need help leaving?”

“Just a little privacy.” Carolyn looked to the door and her two assistants arrived. They stepped next to the bed, and a curtain was pulled to block the view temporarily. “Thank you for your help, Doctor.” She touched her earbud, “Apollo, five for transport.” And she saw the look of wonder on the doctor’s face as they all disappeared.

– – – –

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Monday, June 27, 2005

Carolyn relaxed in her office following the medical checkup. Hers was the first opportunity her team had to examine a doctor post deep healing. While she wanted to review everything, she had handed that study off and was waiting for their report. They didn’t share everything, but her blood sugar was low, so a meal and rest had been ordered.

Of course, she’s the CMO, so if she wants to spend her rest period with feet up examining medical questionnaires, then she will do so and call it light reading.

They had been grouped by location since infection occurred in nodes, but she needed to mix things up since that had gotten her nowhere. So, she reordered them from first reported illness going forward.

Looking at the first fifty reports only, she began sorting by initial contact. Most would have a short list of the first sick people they had contact with prior to their own illness. She divided them into stacks based on first, then evaluated based on location. Just looking for patterns. In the fourth stack, she stopped when she saw locations, then went back through other lists to compare secondary contacts.

Quickly accessing the computer, she pulled up several files and compared data, before dropping everything down to a single file. She hit print and moved everything to the side while picking up her desk phone. “Walter, Dr. Lam here. Is the General available?”

“Yes, General Landry is in.”

“Let him know I’m on my way.”

She grabbed the file and ran to the elevator pushing the button for the General’s level several times before making herself stop and breathe. The doors opened, and she moved decisively into the office.

He looked up as she entered, “Carolyn?”

“I have it. I know who it is.”

“Who? What are you talking about?”

She took a breath, “I was comparing infection spread and the intake questionnaires regarding initial infection. We were paying too much attention to locations where the infection started and not enough to common factors. But, in these reports, when asked the name of the first person they had contact with who was sick prior to them getting the flu, one name has come up in multiple cases. Not uncommon during a spread. But this is one of the earliest names, and he was present in the D.C. area as well as the Harry S. Truman.”

“OK, so what does that mean,” Landry asked, leaning back in his seat.

“It means I may have found our Patient Zero.”

Landry stood up with eyebrows climbing, “Who?”

Carolyn handed over a file. “He’s a federal agent with NCIS. His name is Timothy McGee.”

– – – –

Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tim shook his head at Kate’s non-stop interrogation. Gibbs squashed this kind of thing in the field, but in the office, he allowed it to continue as long as they were working. He and Tony awoke to a callout of a dead sailor, but on the scene that quickly became identified as a dead stripper in costume. They released the scene to the locals and headed into the office to complete paperwork from this weekend’s cases.

And, that’s where the peck, peck, peck of Kate’s questions began. Tony had thrown him an apologetic look as he escaped down to autopsy to get clarification from Ducky for my report, Boss. The traitor.

“Well, Kate, I just don’t talk about my family at work. You could say I learned it from my parents. Come to think of it, until you were injured, I never heard you mention your family. Boss doesn’t talk about his family.”

“Gibbs is divorced. Some people just don’t like to talk about exes.”

“But he doesn’t mention his mother or father, either.”

Kate huffed. “I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason for that, McGee. Gibbs is the boss, so he’s allowed to keep some things to himself. You on the other hand have been practically lying to us.”

“Actually, Kate, that’s called…” Tim trailed off as he saw the group of Air Force personnel get off the elevator. They looked around the office before homing in on the bullpen, and Tim’s stomach dropped.

They reached the cubes and blocked traffic on each side before a major with a nameplate that read Smith stepped forward, “Timothy McGee?”

“Yes, I’m Agent McGee. How can I help you, Major?” Tim tried to reach out mentally but was blocked.

“Sir, we need to request that you come with us now.” Major Smith ordered.

“What’s this about?” Gibbs was up and in front of the Major before anyone could move.

The Major looked at Gibb closely and then dismissed him, “This is a matter of National Security, Agent Gibbs. Agent McGee’s services are needed, immediately.”

“Well, he’s my agent, and he’s not going anywhere unless I know what’s going on.”

“Stand down, Jethro.” Director Shepard stalked down the stairs. “I just received a call from the Secretary of the Navy. Agent McGee will be going with these gentlemen now.”

“Director?” Tim was trying to stay calm and control the situation the way Tony described, but he didn’t see any way out. They were taking him, but they didn’t need to know about Tony.

“I said, now, Agent McGee,” Shepard ordered with a hint of pissed in the back of her voice.

Tim stood and pulled his firearm out of his desk drawer, and when there was no complaint, he inserted the clip and holstered the weapon. While he bent over to pick up his Go bag, he sent a mental yell to Tony, to stay safe and stay hidden until they were gone.

There was an answering burst of concern, adrenaline, and fear before Tim broke contact and followed his escort out. The sounds of Kate’s questions and Gibb’s demands fading into the background.

– – – –

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tim was doing his best to keep it together, but they had beamed him up to a spaceship and then down to some secret base. Grey walls, the sounds of air circulating, echoing halls and his escort didn’t stop until he was in an infirmary being stared at like he was a puzzle that needed to be solved.

Images of Tony’s nightmare came to mind, and Tim’s nerves jumped ten more points before a woman emerged from an office to approach him.

“Mr. McGee, thank you for coming.”

“It’s Agent McGee, and I don’t think I had a choice.”

“You’re right, and for that I’m sorry. We’ve had a tense few weeks here, but I want to assure you that you are perfectly safe.” He glanced to the side as a nurse pulled over a tray with an assortment of supplies and needles.

“You will forgive me if I might not agree right now,” Tim said, kicking himself that his voice did not remain stable.

“I’m sure this has been a bit of a shock, but it’s imperative that we get a blood sample from you.” She motioned him toward an examination bed, his escort remaining behind him at the door.

“And, if I prefer to not give a sample?” Tim was pretty sure it wasn’t a request.

“We really need that sample.” She looked back at the guards and Tim tensed. She sighed and motioned them to leave. All but two who took a position at the door complied.

“I’m not going to take anything from you by force.” She sat down, but Tim remained standing when she motioned him to a seat. “Look, I’m sure you’ve had a bit of a shock and probably feel like a prisoner right now, and that wasn’t my intent.”

Hesitantly, he lowered himself onto the chair opposite the doctor and perched on the edge. “Prisoner feels about right.”

“Let’s start this over. Do you go by Timothy or Tim?”

He considered, but they obviously had a file on him, “Tim.”

“Hi, Tim. I’m Carolyn. Dr. Lam to most of the people here. I’m sure you’ve heard all about Vice President Kinsey’s press conference. Well, basically, it’s all true. All the data is true. We do have a stargate to travel to other worlds. We have a city in another Galaxy. And, a very long time ago, a race we call the Ancients who appear very much human, lived on Earth and bred with the population. Many of us like you and me descended from them.”

“So why do you want me?”

“This virus outbreak, we are trying to find out how it started. The reports I’ve found show you were one of the first infected. I would like to examine a blood sample to compare with later cases.” She smiled hopefully.

He hesitated, and there was a knock at the door. “Doctor, I was told I was needed here.”

Tim shot up. “Penelope!”

“Timmy.” She rushed forward to hug him smiling broadly. “Are you the new Alice falling down the rabbit hole? Or are you family they’re sending to Atlantis? Nevermind, I was thoroughly impressed with how you tried to get around my firewalls to access the Strauss case. My little e-bro is growing up.”

“Those were your firewalls? How long have you known about…”?

“Excuse me,” Carolyn interjected, smiling. “Thank you for coming, Ms. Garcia. I was explaining to Tim here that we don’t mean any harm. But I need to determine if you were patient zero.”

“So, what they say about the virus causing the powers is correct?” Tim demanded.

“Yes, in essence, it’s correct. It’s modifying the DNA of people descended from the Ancients, and these are some of the abilities they had as they neared the end of their biological evolution.” Lam confirmed.

“But it just doesn’t make sense.” He reached out to read them, expecting blocks. But she could obviously sense him and let him read what was there. He sat down hard. “OK, so you have evidence. But I know someone who has these abilities but never had the flu.”

“How long after you did he develop abilities?” Lam asked pulling over a table with a laptop.

“He, uh, was getting them maybe a week or two before me,” Tim admitted.

Her eyes widened, “Who?”

Tim hesitated. He knew she and Penelope believed what she was saying but, is this screwing over his partner?

Penelope’s face scrunched up before suddenly smoothing out in understanding, “Timmy, this Patient Zero, people are looking for him. Seriously creepy people who are willing to kill to get him. I know you realize that some of the people who have disappeared have been abducted, like the Markham children. We’ve been trying to find them all. So, if you know who this person is, we need to get him to safety before someone not so nice finds him.”

Tim stared at her a long moment, “His name is Tony. Anthony DiNozzo, Jr. He’s my partner. But he never had the flu. The only thing he was sick with was pneumonic plague. He was in isolation at Bethesda. But he was the first person I know of that developed the abilities.”

Carolyn’s brow creased, and she turned back to search the database. “Plague, I remember a notation on that.”

“His doctor was Brad Pitt.”

“Pitt! That’s it.” She pulled up some files. “He was in isolation at the same time as Sgt. Nichols was in isolation with Ancestor’s Bane. Damn.” She looked up. “We need to get him. He’s the most logical source. I need to contact our senior geneticist on Atlantis for more information on the disease.”

“I need to go with them, or he will bolt. I kinda warned him off when they picked me up.” Tim explained when they looked at him. “Right now, I’m the only one he‘ll trust.”

– – – –

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tony parked his car and walked toward his apartment building. It had been torture staying as long as he did, but he couldn’t do anything to draw attention to himself. Besides, he had data mined every person with any contact with Tim’s abductors for a hint of where they might have taken him. Plenty of speculation but no usable data.

Then there was Gibbs and his obsessive need to know everything and demanding they track down who took his agent and just what his agent had been doing to bring these people in to interfere with his cases. What the actual fuck? How the hell did it become all about Gibbs? The men in black took Tim, and Gibbs in all his entitlement has decided to blame Tim?

The Director was hissing at Gibbs like a scalded cat. Ducky was trying to be helpful while psychoanalyzing the situation and just inserting himself into the mess. Tony loved Ducky, but sometimes you just need to step away and let the Gibbs train run without a conductor.

Kate just out and out pissed him off. She suddenly realized that Tim had the flu and then sucked Abby in on her conspiracy theory. Suddenly Tim was the evil mindreader corrupting their decent team, and the military was saving them. Abby combed through Tim’s desk searching for “samples.”

The moment Abby and Kate holed up in the lab for analysis and Gibbs stormed the Director’s office for the fifth time, Tony took the opportunity to get out of the madhouse. He was just done with all of them.

Besides, Tim and Tony had a plan. He needed to get to his apartment, grab his bag, and get their fake IDs, then head to their rendezvous point. Tony could hide out there for at least a week before moving on to the backup location. He just hoped Tim could find him before he went completely to ground. The only change had been an email to Steve at their old address to let him know that Tony would check in when he could.

He made it to his apartment and unlocked the door when the elevator dinged, and three men emerged, dressed in Air Force uniforms. The Captain in the lead saw him and straightened up, “Mr. Anthony DiNozzo, Jr.?”

Tony finished twisting the handle and left the door ajar as he carefully took a step back so that he was framed in the doorway and dropped his bag, before turning to face them. “Well, it’s Agent DiNozzo, NCIS. How can I help the Air Force today?” His gut was pinging like crazy, and he was preparing for a quick retreat.

“I’m Captain Miller, Agent DiNozzo. I’m here on behalf of Lt. Commander Steven McGarrett.” Tony tensed as the captain reached into his pocket and withdrew a card. “The Lt Commander has listed you as his next of kin. I believe he has briefed you on our protocols to protect family members in the event of a threat.”

Tony took the card and examined it. It was notification to the reader that the holder of the card would take them to a secure location so that they could be united with their family members and a request to cooperate. At the bottom of the card was a capital letter P with an exponent of 3.

Tony scrunched up his face as if he were trying to remember something. Then he let it suddenly relax while widening his eyes and asked in a voice tinged with excitement and stress, “You mean they started that P-cubed thing?”

The Captain smiled condescendingly, “Yes, the P-cubed protocol has been enacted, if you could come with us, we can get you to a location where you will be safe.”

“OK, yeah. You must feel honored to have such an important job, don’t you?” Tony questioned, carefully analyzing the response.

“Yes, it is an important job. If you don’t mind, we are on a schedule, so it is imperative that we leave immediately.

“Right. Well, Steve warned me this might happen, so I have a bag packed. Let me grab it, and we can go. Be right back.” Tony stepped in and slammed the door shut, locking and engaging the deadbolt. He kicked his backpack away and dropped his cell with it. Racing to the bedroom, he heard them kicking at the door.

Tony grabbed his duffle bag and unlatched the fire escape window in his bedroom before turning briefly at the sound of a breaking vase in his living room. Damn it, that had been Nonna’s.

A sudden arm across his throat was the first indication that he had an assailant entering from his fire escape. He reached up for the thumb and made a quick pulling and twisting motion to dislocate it, following with an elbow jab to the solar plexus. The moment the hold loosened he continued his attack but knew he was in trouble when the sound of the bedroom door splintering hit him.

“You just couldn’t do this the easy way, could you?” The Captain’s voice spoke behind him.

He completed the maneuver to dislodge his attacker and flipped the guy, sending him out the window and over the railing. He dove toward the window, not wasting time to look back. He heard an odd electric charging sound, then there was a flash of light before darkness.

 – – – –

Tony woke up in his nightmare. He was naked and strapped face down on a medical procedure table. There were bright lights blinding everything from above and casting the rest of the room into shadow. He could hear the heart monitor skyrocket as he realized that the dream he had tried so long to avoid was coming true.

“You’re awake. Well, that’s too bad. I was hoping to get this part finished before you rejoined us. But we work with what we have.” The matter of fact way in which it was spoken was chilling.

“Oh, I don’t mind you waiting until I’m out before trying something. In fact, I don’t really agree to any procedures, so you can just let me go, and I won’t have to arrest you later.” Tony said while slowly cataloging his restraints.

“Oh, you have a sense of humor. Keep that. It will help you with what’s coming.” The voice was coming from just out of Tony’s field of view.

“So, what is going on around here? I mean, I think I have a right to know. If I’m going to be stuck in some bizarre version of a Frankenstein project, complete with mad scientist, then I should know which part I’m playing. Get it, part…Frankenstein.”

“Unfortunately, for you, the part you are playing is more Typhoid Mary. And, in your analogy, I would be closer to Dracula. You see, what we need is in your blood and in your cells. You will help us find a way to advance humanity.”

“Right, but see, I’m not really the advance humanity type. And, human beings have rights.”

The boogeyman from Tony’s nightmares moved into place beside him, tray in hand. “Well, you will be happy to note that I am not violating anyone’s human rights today.” And why did that just up the creepiness factor?

“Really, you could have fooled me.”

He sat the tray down on a table next to Tony’s bed, before leaning down to smile at Tony. “You have to be human to have human rights.” Tony shivered at that smile. The man stood up and turned away to pick up some disinfectant solution. “Unfortunately for you, I need to ensure that I have the purest bone marrow sample possible, so we will forego anesthetic.”

Tony took a deep breath and cleared his mind. He reached out and mentally grabbed the huge needle. When the man turned back toward him, he put all the force he could manage behind it in his thrust.

 – – – –

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

Monday, June 27, 2005

McGarrett confidently drove the black SUV toward Tony’s apartment, zig-zagging through traffic in a way that would cause a normal person to lose control of their bladder. Sadly, Tim had already been initiated in the Jethro Gibbs school of driving and merely gripped the handle firmly while trying to center himself.

“Tony’s not at the apartment,” Tim stated with confidence. He reached for that tether that existed between them and noted the direction.

“You’re sure?” McGarrett asked.

“I’m sure. I didn’t expect him to be in the first place.”

“Then why are we going to his apartment if you knew he wouldn’t be there?” McGarrett growled with frustration.

“Tony and I have a few exit strategies. He has some IDs set up for us to use and a go bag at his place. We were going to pick it up after work. Whether or not he was able to get it, will tell me which location he’s at. We set up a few temporary bolt holes when things got so strange.” Tim shrugged.

“And, what if he’s not at the bolt hole?”

“I can still find him. We have this—tether—I guess between us. I can tell you what direction he’s in, but not how far. Don’t know how far it will reach, but it’s there when I concentrate on it.”

“Is one of the bolt holes in that direction?” Edgerton asked from the driver’s rear seat.

Tim slumped down as he nodded. “Two of them. And one of the secondary locations.”

The police cars outside Tony’s building were the first warning that something was wrong. Tim pulled out his badge and led Lt. Commander McGarrett’s team up the stairs. Ian Edgerton pulled out his own credentials and joined Tim at the lead of the group as they exited the stairwell.

There was a police officer and an FBI agent outside the apartment, the broken door telling the story before they were close enough to ask. The officer was one Tim vaguely recognized from some recent cases.

“McGee, sorry about your partner. Your boss and the FBI are inside duking it out over jurisdiction.”

“Thanks, um, they’re with me.” He motioned toward Ian and McGarrett. McGarrett silently commanded his team to take up positions in the hall. He could have given them verbally since the increasing volume and tempo of the voices within said Gibbs had reached his limit.

Tim took a deep breath and entered the room, Ian and Steve directly behind him. He looked around, cataloging the damage, the location of Tony’s Go Bag, his phone with an evidence marker next to it. The bedroom doorframe busted and door on one hinge. A second bag with contents spread out across the bedroom floor.

Tim stopped and turned in place, noting the broken vase but no other damage in this room. He noticed Steve’s abortive movements, reaching out for items and stopping himself before touching.

He observed Gibbs and Fornell in a discussion, their voices lowering again in the ebb and flow of their argument. Kate was dusting for prints. He watched and listened then motioned to Steve and Ian as he turned to leave. They turned in front of him and had almost reached the door when Tim was suddenly slammed against the wall, knocking his breath out of him.

“What have you gotten Tony into McGee?” Gibbs demanded. Steve’s reaction was just as fast, breaking Gibbs’ hold and pinning him with an arm across the throat. There was silence in the room for just a moment.

“What on earth possessed you to do that?” Tim demanded hoarsely. “Tony’s missing, and you attack me? I wasn’t even here.”

“You were taken by the Air Force and Tony is immediately abducted—by someone dressed as Air Force. I don’t believe in coincidence.” Gibbs continued to glare but relaxed enough that Steve released him.

Kate stepped out from the bedroom door, “You’re one of those aliens they were talking about. You had the flu. And, suddenly you’ve been acting strange and influencing Tony to train and protect you. That’s it. You’re manipulating people around you. Abby was right.”

“Are you manipulating the SEAL, too. Is that how you got away from them? Or is he one of you?”

“The SEAL happens to be Tony’s life partner,” Steve responded coldly.

Kate snorted, “Don’t be ridiculous. DiNozzo isn’t gay.” Her smile faded as she looked at his face. “He is manipulating you. He’s making you believe you are with Tony so you will help him.”

Steve looked at Tim like he was questioning the room’s sanity and Tim just raised one shoulder.

“Let’s go. Tony’s not here, but they haven’t had him long. I can find him.”

Ian was still lounging at the door to prevent anyone from entering. “You sure you can track?”

“Yes, the tether between us is strong. I don’t know where Tony is, but I know which direction. I figure if we can get that helicopter Steve promised, then we can triangulate.”

“Where do you think you’re going, McGee?” The hand was back on his arm, but Tim spun back and knocked it away.

“The next time you touch me will be the last. I am sick and tired of your anger management issues. Your wife and daughter were murdered, I get it. Get some fucking therapy and learn to deal with it.” Gibbs jerked. “And, while we’re at it. The Director wants to get back in your pants to manipulate you, but she’s after something bigger. Something about her father and she’s not above sleeping with the Deputy Director of Mossad to get what she wants.”

Tim tried to stop himself but this had been building for so long, and he had just had enough, “By the way, when you set up Ziva David to kill her own brother, did you think she would owe you one by claiming the kill for yourself? Or, did she pull some poor innocent little girl routine on you? Because your memories of it are a bit lacking on motivation.”

Kate gasped, and he turned toward her, “And, yes, Kate. I am one of them. And, no, I haven’t been manipulating any of you. Frankly, I can’t stand to be in any of your heads and would prefer if you could just stop broadcasting the crazy. You know what, Kate. You seriously need to decide which you are going to be a profiler or an investigator. Because you are half-assing them both right now. Stop basing things on emotional decisions and start paying attention to evidence.

Steve tried to move him toward the doorway, but Tim wasn’t going to be stopped now. He would never get another chance.

“And, by the way. You both need to stop indulging Abby and get her some serious therapy. I’m not a psychiatrist, and I won’t pretend to diagnose a problem, but she needs help. I won’t tell you not to be a friend, but at least realize that her crazy is contagious.”

“As for Tony, I am going to go find him. It will be up to him if he ever wants to speak to you again.” This time he did leave, as they were staring at him speechless.

Just out of the doorway arms wrapped around him and he paused, then returned the hug. “You take care of yourself, Timothy. I have every faith you will find Anthony. When you do, please let an old man know you are both safe.”

“I will. Be careful, Ducky. About what I said…”

“Well, yes. Perhaps I have done a disservice by allowing my friendship with Jethro to cloud my judgment. But that is on me to address. Now, go before they recover.” Ducky stepped back and gave Tim a smile before Tim took off running with the team.

– – – –

Tim barely restrained himself from kissing the ground. Steve flew a helicopter like he drove a car, insane. They had taken the first coordinate from Tony’s apartment. The second from the base. Flew to the general location and Tim let the pull of the tether guide them the rest of the way. The helicopter was left out of sight, and they were hiking into the area. Communications were to the Apollo above and that was still made of awesome.

While they were checking their gear, Ian looked at the small, green device that Steve was attaching to his uniform. “What’s that?”

“Some personal shield thing they are trying out. They only had the one, but that scary Japanese scientist at the mountain ordered me to take it.” Steve shrugged when Ian smirked. “Tell me you wouldn’t have taken it, too.”

Ian shook his head, “First thing I learned about genius and geeks, size doesn’t matter. Their weapons are different than ours but will last so much longer and do far more damage.” He adjusted his sniper rifle on his shoulder, “And you’re right. She’s the most terrifying thing in that Mountain.”

They hiked about two miles before they exited the wooded area and spotted the small estate. Fence, patrols, SUVs, vans, and a lot of trouble.

Tim pointed toward a large house closest to their location. “Tony’s in there.”

They gathered and drew out a plan, Ian headed around and up a tree to cover them and ensure they had an exit if there was a problem transporting. The rest of the SEAL team took position, and Tim followed on Steve’s six.

They made it to the house after taking out the two guards patrolling. Tim cringed, but the team wasn’t taking prisoners, and he reminded himself they had Tony and had tried to kill to get the two kids.

Inside they moved quietly, but once the ground floor was cleared, Tim realized that the pull was underground. They found the stairs, and it became a firefight all the way down. There was a close call just as they entered the stairs but Steve’s shield thing came on beautifully. Steve covered three of them while the bullets bounced off the field around him.

When Steve realized it worked, there was no stopping him. He cut a path through the assailants, and the rest of the team mopped them up seamlessly. Three levels down, Tim motioned toward the door, and they entered a level that was quiet, while two stayed behind to cover the hall.

The first open door led to some type of medical procedure room. A table at the ready and lights shining down. It was chilling, and Tim instantly recognized Tony’s nightmare come true. He moved in and stopped, seeing a body lying on the floor covered in blood with a large hypodermic sticking out of his chest.

“He was here.” Tim murmured in relief as he noted it wasn’t Tony.

“You’re sure?”

Tim focused again. “Yes. He’s just up ahead.”

They covered the distance quickly, finding two more bodies along the way. Turning one last corner the team came to a halt, guns raised, facing down three more guns.

“Tony!” McGarrett shouted more as an order.

Tony yelled, “Hold your Fire.” He glanced around then slowly lowered his weapon. Tony had a few bruises forming, but he looked intact and healthy if only partially dressed. He was in hospital scrub pants and nothing else.

Their eyes met and Tony asked, “Tim, you OK?”

“I should be asking you that.”

Steve stepped forward, and Tony’s eyes snapped to him in surprise. “Steve! What are you doing here?”

Steve looked him over and then looked down the hallway behind Tony to see two more bodies on the floor. “I’m…rescuing you?”

“Oh, wow. Look at you being all Super SEAL and everything.” Tony took in Steve in all his gear, “You know that look is scorching hot on you.”

“You sure you’re ok, Ku’uipo? They give you any drugs?” Steve asked while reaching out to touch him.

“Nope, no drugs. Adrenaline high, and I’m probably gonna lose it later. But, hey, not every day you have to save yourself from a bad horror movie come to life.” Tony took a breath with too bright eyes.

“Who are your friends?” McGarrett asked while evaluating their conditions.

“Some guests that felt compelled to check out of the Bates Motel. Do you happen to have a ride for us?” Tony was splitting his attention between the hallways, Steve, Tim, and the victims.

Steve looked over the people and recognized the faces from Spencer’s wall. Counting, he let out a breath of relief. Twelve missing accounted for, if not necessarily in the best shape. But at least they were up and moving. “I’ve got your ride.”

He triggered his communications, “Apollo, do you copy?”

“This is Colonel Ellis with Apollo, what is your situation, Commander?”

“We have secured the package plus twelve. Can you transport?”

There was a brief pause, “We can take you in three groups.”

Steve moved forward to group the children and weakest first. “Listen up, this is sort of like Star Trek. We are going to beam you up and get you someplace safe. Just stay calm and follow directions.”

Tim moved in closer and gave Tony a hug, “I was so worried.” Tony jerked at the first flash of light. “It’s ok, that’s normal.”

“You’re ok, too, Probie?”

“Yeah, I have a lot to tell you. But I can’t believe that is your Steve. I didn’t recognize him from your little shower fantasies.”

“Probie! We had a deal. No peeping in on shower fantasies after you learned to shield.” Tony flushed all the way down his neck.

“Four days until I could block it out, Tony. That was a lot of fantasies to go by.” Tim smiled.

A second flash and Steve’s voice called out, “OK, everyone drop back to position. Apollo, ready for transport and don’t forget Edgerton’s signal.”

Tim saw the flash of light again, and they held position while Tony exclaimed, “Beam me up, Scotty!  Holy crap. Is that the Earth?”

Steve stepped over and put his arm around Tony, “Welcome to the Stargate Program,” he announced before pulling Tony in for a deep kiss.

– – – –

Chapter 13

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tony was beamed—fucking BEAMED—into an underground mountain complex. The world really was coming to an end. Kinsey was actually right about something. Damn, he was going to owe Donovan a c-note. Asshole was a major Kinsey supporter from his Senate days. Come to think of it, Tony still hated Kinsey, wouldn’t have voted for him if he hadn’t been on Hayes’ ticket, and he wasn’t obligated to admit Donovan won the bet.

He shook his head, get it together DiNozzo. You’re down the rabbit hole and need to keep your head in the game. Tony walked between Steve and Tim, following lines on a floor to whatever destination they were headed. The adrenaline of his escape and rescue was still going strong, but he felt on edge.

Everyone was turning into the open door ahead, so Tony followed but put a screeching stop to the progress the moment he saw the infirmary beds and a tray with needle and vials. What the hell?

A doctor stepped forward with a smile, “Mr. DiNozzo, if you could step this way, we are ready for you.”

“That’s Agent DiNozzo, and nope, nada, not happening.” Tony started to take a step back, but Steve was at his back, blocking him. 

She stopped, her forehead creasing a moment. “Agent DiNozzo, then. I understand you’ve had a difficult time, but we need to examine you.” She motioned to where the people he had attempted to rescue where being checked by other members of the staff. “It’s standard procedure around here.”

“Yeah, well hey, I’m just fine. No damage here. So, let’s not and say we did.” Tony tried to move again, but Steve continued to block.

“Tony, please let Dr. Lam check you. Just to be certain.” Steve asked softly.

Taking a deep breath, he nodded. “OK, fine. Look but no touch.”

Dr. Lam grimaced in consternation but motioned him to the bed. Tony instead moved to the chair sitting next to it. She nodded and waved off her staff, before sitting on a rolling stool.

“So, Agent DiNozzo. Or, can I call you Tony?” She started.

“Sure, Tony. I would say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but right now not feeling any love of the medical profession or creepy scientist types.” Tony smiled briefly and then looked around to make sure he had an exit.

“Thank you, Tony. You can call me Dr. Lam, or if you prefer, Carolyn. I do need a medical exam due to the abduction, and I have some questions. Do you want them to leave?” She asked motioning to Steve and Tim.

“No, I think Steve and Tim should stick around. Them I know, ya know?”

“I understand. Can you tell me what happened between the time you were abducted and the time of the rescue?”

“OK, I was approached at my apartment door by three assailants dressed as Air Force. They attempted to gain my compliance through the use of the code Steve had provided me for this program, I presume. But, instead of calling it the P-three plan the way Steve described, they referred to it as P-cubed. Since the Ps were wrong, I asked leading questions.” 

“Their responses did not include the ‘charmed’ code word Steve instructed me to listen for so I acted like I would comply then locked them out of my apartment and attempted an alternate escape route, my fire escape. A fourth assailant attacked me from that direction. We fought while the primary assailants gained access to my apartment. I threw number four over the railing. There was a charging sound and then a flash of light.”

“I woke up face down on a table, with Dr. Giggles happily preparing to take bone marrow and explaining that since I wasn’t human, I didn’t have rights.” Tony shook his head. “Actually, he didn’t giggle, but I think he had one deep inside.”

“Tony.” Steve’s face was pinched and his eyes a mix between horrified and angry.

Tony shook his head, “I’m fine. I…stopped…him, escaped, discovered a lot of other victims, and was in the process of rescuing them when the cavalry arrived.” 

“OK, so it sounds like you were zatted. You don’t have any residual tremors, so it did not damage. You said he tried to take bone marrow, did he puncture the skin?”

“Nope.”

The doctor made a note. “I have a copy of your medical file. You recently recovered from the pneumonic plague. I would like to examine you.”

“And, how exactly do you have a copy of my personal, confidential medical file?” Tony asked angrily.

“Not through normal channels, so your doctor did not release anything without your consent.” Lam began.

“Well, that just makes me feel rosy. So, individual rights mean nothing to you people?”

“Please, if you will allow me to explain. I would not normally agree to access files without your consent, but this is actually a matter of national security.” She paused, waiting for Tony to get a grip and nod that he was listening. 

“The information Vice President Kinsey released was the truth. We do have a secret program. We do travel to other worlds. And we do have a base in another galaxy.” 

Tony gave a sharp nod. “The beaming to a spaceship kinda confirmed all that.”

Dr. Lam smiled, “Yes, it would. Let me tell you a story and a hypothesis that we have. On May 11th of this year a marine who is stationed on Atlantis, our base in Pegasus, was on leave. He became sick with a childhood virus from that Galaxy. It’s a minor thing for which we inoculate the troops before they travel there, but the sergeant was in the original expedition and was supposed to have immunity already.”

“When he became ill, he was rushed to the closest hospital, Bethesda. Due to the unusual rash and symptoms, he was immediately placed in the isolation ward.”

Tony was putting two and two together and didn’t like the answer, “I was in isolation at Bethesda on May 11th.”

“Yes, what we think happened is that somehow you were exposed to this virus while infected with the plague. How or why is unknown, but it was approximately two weeks later that the first documented cases of the flu appeared.” 

She looked at him compassionately, “I can imagine this is the worst time possible, but we really do need a sample of your blood. We need to know how this happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Tony looked at Steve and then Tim. It was Tim he asked, “You trust her?” 

“She let me read her Tony. She’s telling the truth. Others want to use it, she wants to stop it. But, she won’t do it without your consent.” Tim followed it up with mental images of what he had taken from her.

“OK, but I’d like Steve to stay with me. And, no hospital beds.” Tony agreed.

Dr. Lam nodded. “I understand.”

The door to the infirmary banged open, and two men came rushing inside. Two voices from the far side of the room called out, “DADDY!” And the men rushed over to the bed holding the two children. 

As Dr. Lam prepared to draw blood, Tony focused on the happy reunion and realized the man was Jacob Markham, alive and very well. He felt the needle and fought the jerk, relaxing after a moment while one toe tapped on the floor in a rapid staccato.

“Boys, I want you to meet your Uncle Jason. He’s my brother.”

“My name’s Jason, too.”

“I know. I think it’s a good name to have.”

“Boys, your Uncle Jason lives far away from here. We are going to go live with him in a magic city so that we can be safe.”

“I’m going to show you so many new and wonderful things. But most important of all, we will be together, and your father and I will do everything we can to keep you safe.”

“Ok, Tony. Blood draw’s finished, just hold this here.” Tony looked back down to the cotton ball and drew in a deep breath.

“So, people are going to a magical city?” Tony asked.

“There are some serious dangers there, but for now it was the safest option to send people to Atlantis.” She finished labeling the vials and set them aside before turning back. “I would still like to examine you to verify there was no damage.”

“Yeah, sure doc. Just, be gentle.” He let loose the smile that would dazzle, and Steve just groaned next to him. “So, how did you find me?”

“That was all McGee here. Once we knew you had been taken, we followed his directions right to you.” Steve supplied with a look of respect.

“It was that tethering thing I’ve been practicing,” Tim explained.

“Way to go, Probie.” Tony smiled at him, and Tim grinned back.

Steve leaned back against the bed, watching the doctor take blood pressure and pulse ox. “Oh, no. Way to go is for how he royally told off your boss. Man, I wish I had that on camera.”

“Wait, what?” Tony looked at Steve’s smug smile and Tim’s embarrassment. “Spill. What happened?”

Neither spoke, just looking at each other a moment. Finally, Steve supplied, “It was obvious you had been abducted. NCIS and FBI were fighting for jurisdiction at your apartment. When Gibbs accused McGee of being complicit, he hauled off and told him to, and I quote, ‘Get some fucking therapy’ for his anger management issues.”

OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD! My Probie is all grown up.”

“Tonyyy.”

“No, that is so perfect. I want to picture this. Did Gibbs go all quiet and shocked or did he erupt? Don’t leave me hanging here guys.”

Steve smiled, “You’ll be ok.”

Dr. Lam returned from entering data in her computer with another Air Force officer. “Well, Agent DiNozzo. I want some time to run some tests, but you do seem to be fine. Lt Commander, I’m leaving him in your care.”

The other officer spoke up, “Hi, I’m Lt Colonel Cameron Mitchell, second in charge of this base. We have a dial-out in three hours to send personnel and supplies to Atlantis. We are going to try to get everyone through to their families at that time. The two of you are being offered an invitation to go as well in a future dial out. Whether you chose to go or not, Generals O’Neill and Landry have requested that you remain here at the Mountain at this time in the event we need you to communicate with NCIS as well as for your protection.”

He turned toward Steve, “Your team is still on standby to work with Agent Reid and Ms. Garcia. Based on a report from Ms. Garcia, we would like to include Agents DiNozzo and McGee on the task force, at your discretion, Steve, and, of

course, if they agree.”

“That would be acceptable.” Steve agreed. “Unless it’s urgent, I’m taking my team off duty for twelve. Tony, you can room with me.” He glanced at McGee.

“Go ahead, Steve. I’ll get Agent McGee squared away.” Tim shrugged at Tony and left to follow Mitchell. 

“So, I can share your bunk?”

“I think I have to insist.”

– – – –

Tony and Steve took an elevator a few levels before exiting onto another level of grey and reaching a room.

“Someone seriously needs to think about adding to the color scheme around here. I mean, NCIS orange is going too far, but this could be depressing.”

“You’re taking this incredibly well,” Steve noted as he pulled out some sweats and a t-shirt. 

“Oh, trust me, I’m not. I fully reserve the right to lose my shit any time.” He grabbed the offered towel and turned in the direction of the bathroom door Steve indicated. “Want to wash my back?”

“Love to, but I don’t think that’s a good idea right now,” Steve said with a sad smile.

“Hey, you owe me Repeal Sex, SEAL.” Tony turned on the shower and dropped the scrubs. “Why don’t you let me decide what I want.” He was ok, he wasn’t going to lose it the first time he’s seen Steve since his life became a feature film.

“Yeah, I owe you. But it doesn’t have to be now.” 

“OK, I get it. Really, I do Steve. No, repeal sex. But I woke up strapped down to a table, naked and thought I was going to die there. I honestly don’t know how many of those people I killed or just incapacitated. But I need something that’s not pain, or fear, or death. So, right now, I need to feel you. On me, in me, around me. I just need to feel, Steve.”

Steve stripped and joined Tony in the much too small shower, “OK, babe. I got ya on this. Let me take care of you.”

Tony felt Steve run his hands gently down his back before they left and he heard the snap of the shampoo bottle. The fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp, had him closing his eyes in pleasure. 

Tony took a deep breath and just let Steve direct him under the spray to rinse while the fingers moved to his neck. Soap slicked hands massaging away sweat and tension with steady strokes. He took a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders.

Steve slowly made his way down, Tony only vaguely noticing that his breathing was starting to sync with Steve’s strokes. “Turn around.”

Tony turned and leaned back against the shower wall as Steve washed his front. When he reached the abdomen, he skipped down and finished the legs first before working his way back up to Tony’s groin. 

Fingers started light as his body tingled and woke up to the attention. The light touches became firmer with greater purpose. “Oh, yes.”

Steve stood behind him and turned him toward the water once more, his hand never losing contact. From behind teeth found Tony’s neck and started to bite and suck. “Hungry for something, SEAL?”

“Better believe it, sweetheart. Why don’t we move this to the bed?”

“Hell, yes.”

Towels were quickly used and discarded as they reached the bed, touches, and kisses leading them. Steve stopped briefly to reach for lube and condoms before joining Tony on the bed.

“Are you sure you want this?”

“You backing out on me, Steve?”

“Never. I’m game on. But you tell me what you need tonight.”

“I need you in me. I need to feel you, Steve.” He leaned in for a kiss, hot wet, deep. 

Gasping for breath, Steve agreed. “In you.” 

Tony stretched onto the bed, but when Steve linked their fingers and pressed down into the mattress, he froze for a moment. Steve rolled back and off in an instant.

“Hell.”

“No. It’s a lot to take in.”

Tony grabbed Steve’s hand and led it down to his erect cock, “Still want it.”

Steve grinned, “OK, how do you want it?”

“Can’t be held down tonight.” Tony banged his head back on the mattress in frustration.

Steve leaned in and gently kissed him again. “How about going for a ride?” He raised an eyebrow in question.

“Is that gonna be a bottle rocket or a nuke?” Tony grinned as Steve nipped him.

Steve rolled them over so that Tony was on top and thrust upward, “does that feel like a bottle rocket to you?”

“That feels like someone is getting his head in the game. Lube?”

Steve lifted up to watch Tony open himself up. Tony knew that while Steve absolutely loved being in control, this was one of the few things that turned the SEAL on like nothing else. No matter how many times he watched, he always said it was one of the hottest things he had ever seen.

It was a relief when Steve just lay back and let Tony take control. Rolling on the condom and adding extra lube he reached up to help position it and groaned as Tony slid down onto his cock. 

“Damn, you’re hot, Ku’uipo. Don’t think I will last long.” Steve breathed hard as Tony tightened and released his buttocks. “Fuck.”

Tony just grinned before rising and falling back down the shaft. Slowly at first, a little stuttering that he knew had Steve fighting the urge to roll him over. As the movement settled into a rhythm, Steve gave up on controlling himself and began thrusting upward.

“How ya doin’ there, SEAL?” Tony gasped out each word.

“You’re gonna be the death of me.” He shook his head, “Can’t last much longer.”

“You can last as long as I need you.” Tony leaned down for a kiss while coming down with a grinding motion that made Steve jerk. 

“You’re killing me.”

“Almost, yeah right there.”

Steve reached up and grabbed Tony’s cock to pump it in time with each thrust.

“Steeevvve.” Tony called out as he came, pulling Steve over with him.

They stayed for a moment, gasping in air until Steve slowly pulled out and turned them sideways. Once he caught his breath, Steve grabbed a towel for clean up and tossed the condom, before climbing back into bed.

Tony was boneless, and he allowed himself to be moved so his head was on Steve’s chest. “I love you,” Steve whispered.

Tony’s sleepy mental voice returned in Steve’s head, “me too.”

– – – –

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tim woke and dressed in the room he had been assigned. He was actually in a place where they sent people to other planets. This was so beyond cool. He left his room and slowly tried to backtrack to the mess. After his second wrong turn, he was saved by an airman who escorted him the rest of the way.

The food was equivalent to any other mess. It was a little light on people, and it took him a moment to realize that he was still on Eastern time and the base morning shift wasn’t awake yet. 

Around the third cup of coffee, just as Tim was wondering if he should seek out Colonel Mitchell for instructions, Penelope Garcia entered the mess with Ian Edgerton. “Timmy, elf of my heart. I was just telling Ian you’re an early riser and would be eager to join our morning of mischief.”

Tim smiled, “So, what are we doing?”

Ian shook his head and left to fill a tray for two. 

“We were initially brought together to find the missing family members. But, since the team was able to bring them all back yesterday, thank All-That-Is-Good, we are now refocusing to backtrack who took them.”

“I understand they sent back a second team for mop up and evidence retrieval.”

Ian returned, “Yes. We brought back their computers, any papers we found, vehicle registrations and plates, and any other evidence we could locate. A team is still combing the place. There’s an ME in the know that’s handling the autopsies to try to ID the bodies.”

“Ok, that makes sense. I’m happy to help where I can.” Tim said.

“I am so stoked that we are finally working together.” Penelope smiled, then slowly smirked. “We are also helping to track down anyone else like us that may be in danger. And, providing backup to our newest compatriot of mischief and mayhem, who is visiting from Atlantis. I’ve only had a chance to watch her in action for a day and am already worshiping at the altar of her magnificence.”

Tim’s eyes widened, “Wow, she must really be something.”

Ian leaned back from breakfast with a laugh, “I was afraid she was going to invite her to bed.”

“Oh please,” Penelope held up a hand, “as if you would have told us no.”

With a shrug, Ian responded, “I’m not sure I could survive two of you.” Then he grinned at Tim, “But, what a way to go.”

Tim blushed, then stood for another cup, but Penelope stopped him. “Come along my little brother, we have much better coffee available in the war room.”

Ian policed their table before joining them in the hall. Penelope led them to their assigned room while chatting about the program in general and the people of note. Apparently, it was vital to get on a Dr. Jackson’s good side if you wanted access to the premium coffee.

As they neared their destination, Tim could hear shouting coming through the open door.

“My technique is far superior to anything you might try. Why O’Neill agreed to leave you in charge of this project, I don’t know. But I am going to protest your involvement.”

“Your technique is sloppy, your algorithms unoriginal, and your ability to bypass security systems lacking in all possible ways. If I had not stopped you, you would have set off alarms in that system that would have warned them of our access. That level of stupidity is not allowed on my team or in my presence.”

They reached the door, and Tim looked in to see a small woman, maybe five-foot-tall, facing down a man with at least 14 inches and one hundred and thirty pounds on her. 

“How dare you. This should have been my team. You’re not even American. O’Neill is courting treason letting you have access to information that comes from our government. You would do well to treat me with respect if you want to avoid prison.” He leaned forward, using his height to intimidate.

She reached out, grabbing his hand and twisting while applying pressure to a point that had him instantly on his knees before her. “You would do well to learn that respect is earned. And, you lack the skill, intelligence, and dedication to earn any respect from me. I can work with ignorance. I can work with dedication. I will not work with willful blindness to your inadequacies. You will leave now and tell General Landry that you are not worthy of working in my presence.”

She released him and stepped away to a computer. Before the man could recover, Ian was standing behind him. “Let me help you find the General.”

Tim was frozen in place, eyes wide open, breathing hard while watching the small vision of loveliness move with a grace all her own.

“Huh,” Penelope said from his side. She paused only a moment before wrapping an arm around his waist. “Come along my little brother of the information highways, let me introduce you to our queen.”

“Uh huh.”

“Miko. I have someone you need to meet.”

“Penelope.” 

“This is Tim McGee. He’s like a little brother to me so be gentle.”

“Tim McGee, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am Miko Kusanagi, and I am in charge here. If you will work with us, we need to be assured of your loyalty to our cause.” She turned back toward her computer. “What do you say?”

“I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” Tim replied.

Her eyes widened, and she jerked back a moment before turning back to look at him closely, a small smile forming slowly but spreading across her beautiful face. “You have potential. You I will keep.” 

– – – – 

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Earth dial-in to Atlantis had occurred in their early morning hours, so Carson awoke to an urgent package from Dr. Lam. Reviewing the report, he became excited and dove into the blood samples included. He had the tests running almost as fast as he finished the reports. 

Lucky for him the equipment on Atlantis was like nothing available on Earth. He could do in hours what it would take months to accomplish back home. He had been a little hesitant about the experimentation the IOA was requesting, but the potential for scientific exploration was amazing. And, it was sanctioned, so he set aside any reservations and dove into the project.

Now, finally, he was seeing some results. The blood sample had the answer. With searches running in the Ancient database, he began his first round of testing on mice in his secure lab to develop a potential therapy for humans. It was a mere two hours later that all the mice from the first two rounds of testing were dead and he was running the samples through an analysis. 

There was something about the interaction of Ancestor’s Bane with the Plague virus that was creating the mutation. Unfortunately, he did not have an active Plague sample with which to work, and he would not request any such thing through the gate. He had never found the like in Pegasus, and he refused to be the one to introduce something like that to an unprepared population.

He was instead creating a mimic from the blood sample to force a mutation on the Bane. His next sample was ready, and he prepared to try it. After injecting the mice, he sat back to run a separate analysis and check the results of his database search.

The seventh hit had him sitting up straight and reading while regularly cross-checking the translation algorithm. He glanced back to the mice and realized they were all dead. He stared at them for a few minutes before looking back at the computer and then over at the sample. 

He started to call Elizabeth but decided this was not something he wanted to discuss over the computer. He headed for her office while preparing his report mentally. 

“Elizabeth, I need to speak to you immediately about my project.”

“Oh, Dr. Beckett. You could have saved time by video call.”

“No, this is too important to discuss over the system. Elizabeth, in the last dial in Dr. Lam sent me samples from Patient Zero with a theory of how the flu started. I was able to confirm the hypothesis.”

“That’s excellent news. So, they have custody of this individual? If you need, I’m certain I can have him transferred to Atlantis, so you have access to him as needed.” Elizabeth smiled, excited.

“Um, they do have him. But, no. I don’t need access to him.” Carson shook off the confusion. “I just wanted to let you know that based on the new data and his sample, I was able to make headway into a version that would work on humans.”

Suddenly, Elizabeth’s entire face lit up from within with a strange excitement and longing. “You have it now?”

“Well, I have a version, but…”

“How long until it’s ready to distribute? We have to keep this quiet, of course, but I can have volunteers here as soon as you say.” 

“Wait. Hold on, Elizabeth. I never said it was ready.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Actually, what I wanted to speak to you about is terminating the project.”

“What?” Elizabeth’s expression changed from shock to anger. “You can’t terminate. This project was authorized by the IOA. It is imperative that you continue working on it.”

“Elizabeth, please calm down a moment and listen to me. In addition to my own research, I was able to locate research in the Ancient Database. Ancestor’s Bane was originally the work of an Ancient geneticist who created a gene therapy to purify the genetic legacy of children born to Ancients who cross-bred with local populations. It was only meant to be given to first-generation descendants.”

She was listening to him closely, but he wasn’t sure he was getting through. “Once the gene is diluted as it is now, the amount of change can be deadly to the subject. The practice was discontinued as they started to ascend, but it was too late. The therapy had latched onto a virus and was spread. One of their doctors was able to release a cure which effectively turned off the therapy portion of the virus.”

Taking a deep breath he concluded, “Our patient zero was infected with a biologically engineered form of the pneumonic plague. Somehow this interacted with the latest form of the original virus and switched on the gene therapy portion. The database is clear that they never intended to give humans the same abilities because the human genome is not advanced enough at this point to survive it.”

She was shaking her head in denial, so Carson wanted to be clear, “Elizabeth, my own research concurs. The best outcome is only a 20% survival rate. And, since those of us that have changed still have some human DNA, we would be susceptible to it as well.”

“That’s OK, Carson, I understand it needs more work. But there is no reason to lose focus now that you know you are on the right track.”

“Elizabeth! What is wrong with you? I just told you that the best case is an 80% mortality rate and you say I’m on the right track?” Carson shook his head. “I don’t understand you. But it doesn’t matter. I’m through. I refuse to be the one to release this on the Galaxy.”

She stood up slowly but stood fully erect. “You will continue to work on this project, Dr. Beckett. You will continue to refine the therapy. And, you will continue to report your progress.”

Carson just stood there, flabbergasted at the ultimatum. He hadn’t actively tried to use any of their new gifts yet. Honestly, he was actively avoiding it since the ATA gene he already had disturbed him. But suddenly he needed to know.

He reached out mentally to wrap his own mind around Elizabeth’s. He jerked back, images pouring into his mind from her. Images of ascending, her infatuation was an extremely unhealthy obsession that bordered on suicidal. And, the orders from the IOA…

“You lied. There were no orders. The IOA isn’t even aware I’m researching this.” He stepped back toward the door. “I’m destroying the data, Elizabeth. I refuse to be involved in what could become genocide, and you don’t even care that could be the outcome.”

“You can’t do that. We are close; we can become Ancients. Finally, we will have all the answers. It’s worth anything, and I won’t let you and your conscience interfere.”

Shaking his head, Carson marched out of Elizabeth’s door followed by the sound of her screaming. He went first to his office in the infirmary to grab his files, concerned that his fondness for paper would leave a trail. Deciding he needed backup, he activated his earbud as he walked.

“Colonel Sheppard, Doctor McKay, I need you to come to my secure lab immediately.” Grabbing the files, he heard them acknowledge before locking them in his desk and heading to the lab.

He reached the lab alcove and began climbing into a clean suit. He checked his seals and stepped into the outer chamber to cycle the lock. As soon as it cleared, he entered the room and froze, Elizabeth was standing in the room with a needle stuck in her arm and a firearm in hand.

“What have you done?”

“I’m going to be an Ancient. It’s the only way, Carson. You can’t keep this from us. I will ascend and learn everything. Don’t you want to know—everything?”

The wild look of insanity in her eyes caused his brain to just stop. “What have you done?”

– – – –

John was participating in his favorite sport of late, Rodney baiting. He was egging him on with mental pictures of sex positions at the most inappropriate moments, just to watch him try to keep his cool as his staff asked him the most idiotic questions.

Rodney was getting ready to blow again when they received a call from Carson, “Colonel Sheppard, Doctor McKay, I need you to come to my secure lab immediately.”

Rodney let out a frustrated sound, and John answered, “On our way Carson.”

“What’s Carson been at in his private lab?” John asked Rodney.

“Research into the flu. He’s trying to determine if it was a Pegasus virus, Milky Way, or Earth.”

“Maybe he figured it out.”

“Hopefully whatever it is, he finishes it quick. They’re serving that almost meatloaf with the blue potatoes for dinner.” Rodney noted.

“The fries or mashed?”

“Mashed. It’s the purple potatoes that make good fries.”

“Did I see something in the reports from Parrish about those?” John asked as they reached the transporter.

“Yes, Nichol’s mother is an avid gardener. She has some gift for making the plants grow. I mean grow. They are working in teams to plant and germinate all the east side hydroponics. At least 70 percent of the people who have tried have been able to learn how to create accelerated plant growth. We should be able to supply fresh food to the city inside a month, even with all the people O’Neill is shipping to us.”

“That’s amazing.” 

“Yeah, it really is,” Rodney replied as they reached the lab. No one was there. “Where’s Carson?”

“Rodney!” John ran to the window to see two people inside. Carson in a sealed suit, and Elizabeth without one. She was holding a weapon.

John turned on the sound to the room as Rodney moved to key the doors. 

“No, Rodney.” Carson touched the interior locks, and the red light appeared, stopping Rodney’s advance.

John took a calming breath, “So, what’s everyone up to?”

“Nothing to fear, John. Carson made a breakthrough that he was hesitant to share. But, it’s ok now. I’m evolving. Soon I will surpass even you to become an Ancient.” John winced at the sound of insanity in Elizabeth’s voice. 

She looked toward the locked door and frowned, “Rodney, I need you to open the doors now.”

“Don’t do it, Rodney. She’s been infected with a new version of the virus. It’s an airborne strain that will kill 80 to 95 percent of any human DNA it comes into contact with. She injected herself with it. Don’t let her out.”

“You will let me out of here,” Elizabeth demanded. “I am in Command of Atlantis, and you will open the door now.”

“I don’t think so. At least, not until we know if you are ok.” John replied tightly.

She turned the gun toward the door and fired, the bullet ricocheted around the room. “Open the door.”

“The glass is impervious to bullets, Elizabeth.” Rodney reasoned. “Just put the gun down, and we will help you.”

John looked at her closely, her face was flushed with fever, hands trembling, eyes glassy and crazed. “Elizabeth, we are not going to open that door.”

She nodded then turned the gun on Carson and fired.

“CARSON!” Rodney screamed.

“There, if you want him to live, you will open that door.” John shivered at how matter of fact she stated the order.

“I can’t risk the city, Elizabeth.”

“I’m ordering you to open the door. This is not a request Colonel.” The hand holding the gun was shaking. She looked at it strangely as the tremors increased and spread. The weapon fell a moment before she started to seize. 

Carson crawled over next to her, blood seeping from his side. Looking up through the window at John he shook his head as her seizing continued non-stop.

“Carson?”

He moved to the internal computer center and climbed into the chair. 

Rodney yelled into the speaker, “Carson, release the locks.”

“I’m sorry, Rodney. I can’t do that.”

“Yes, you can. Code the doors to release, or I’m going to override them.”

“John. Don’t let him.”

“What happened Carson?” John demanded.

“I made a mistake, John. A horrible mistake and I can’t make this one right.”

“It’s ok, Carson. John, move aside. I need to get to the controls to override the lockout.” Rodney tried to push John, but he shook his head and grabbed Rodney’s hands. “John?”

Carson took a shuddering breath, “I’m so sorry, Rodney lad. I need you to promise to destroy all the files. I don’t want anyone building on what I created. I won’t be responsible for another plague.” He pressed against the bleeding wound in his side. “Promise me.”

Rodney shook his head. “No, Carson. You can do it yourself after we save you.”

“You can’t save everyone, Rodney. I can’t let you try this time.”

Rodney ripped his hands out of John’s and ran over to tear the panel off the door controls. “I won’t let you give up on us, Carson.”

John looked in to see Carson’s face fall. Looking down his hand was starting to shake. Carson met his eyes, and suddenly his mind was filled with images of Elizabeth and IOA reports and experimentation. He understood.

“Take care of him, John. He will need you.”

John swallowed hard. “I will,” he promised.

Carson reached over to a separate panel and with shaking hands triggered the controls.

“Carson! What are you doing?”

“Goodbye, Rodney.” And shields lowered around the view panels of the room.

“NO! You can’t do this!” Rodney screamed, beating at the covered door. “CARSON!”

John wrapped his hands around Rodney to prevent him from beating his hands any further as the energy building in the room discharged to disintegrate all biological organisms in the room.

They slid to the floor, wrapped around one another as Rodney cried and John just held on too numb to react.

– – – – 

Residence, White House, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

“Jack, thank you for coming,” Henry greeted him with a smile. He was dressed casually. 

“Glad to drop by, something that couldn’t wait until normal hours?” Jack responded.

“Actually, Jack, yes.” He led him into this private office in the residence. “Have a seat.” Henry stepped to the side and poured two glasses of Scotch.

“So, how’s it going Henry? Read any good books lately?”

President Hayes laughed, “That’s why I like you, Jack, you know how to let go and have fun when you need to. You’re going to need that.”

“Oh?”

Henry unlocked the desk and pulled open a drawer. An official folder was inside. “I read over the Atlantis Expedition Charter. You had a hand in writing that one, didn’t you?”

“Oh, maybe. Well, a little bit.”

“You slipped a lot in there that is pretty innocuous until you get the right circumstances.” Henry opened the file and leaned his hip against the desk. 

“One does what one can. Anything, in particular, come to your attention?” Jack leaned back to sip his scotch.

“Well, I noticed that in the event the Atlantis Expedition was cut off from Earth, they will be considered an Independent Colony with rights to form alliances and to enact trade agreements, and Earth has no say. You also worked into the cracks the authority for the American President to declare Atlantis an Independent Colony if he, let me read this part, ‘should determine that an imminent threat to the majority of the population of Atlantis is originating from the governments or people of Earth.’” 

He looked at Jack, “What did you expect to happen there?”

“Well, clearly that was in the event Earth was infiltrated by the goa’uld or another race.” Jack quipped.

“You could have written that, but no, you left it wide open. So many things could be considered an imminent threat.” Henry took another sip. “So, tell me, Jack, how many of the changed have you sent to the city? Would you say it’s a majority at this point?

Jack’s eyes narrowed a moment, “Perhaps.”

Henry nodded and walked to the door behind him. He opened a door, and the Chief of Staff along with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs entered. Returning to the desk to have a seat he reached over to pick up a pen.

Leaning over the desk, Henry signed the document with a flourish. The other two men quickly witnessed it. “As of this date, I am authorizing the Colony of Atlantis to declare its independence from Earth at your discretion, Jack. It also releases all members of military or civilian service from their oaths of service in the event they chose citizenship of Atlantis.”

He handed Jack a copy, before signing a second and then third copy. “A copy of this document will be sealed and filed as of tonight.”

Jack took a deep breath and then released it while taking the document. “What brought this on?”

Henry stood up and walked into the living room. A woman and two children were watching a movie. The youngest looked up, “Grampa!” She climbed down from the couch and toddled up to him. 

Picking her up he turned to Jack. “Becky, this is my good friend Jack.” The woman and boy followed. “Jack this is Becky and Henry, and my daughter-in-law, Beth. I ordered my youngest boy recalled and reassigned to Cheyenne Mountain immediately. He should arrive sometime after midnight.”

“Okay. I—take it they are coming with him?” Jack asked.

“Becky love, did you leave Annie on the couch?” Henry asked.

The toddler twisted in his arms and reached out with her arms, “Annie.” The doll floated up and into the child’s arms. She gripped her and announced, “Annie.”

Henry gave her a hug and kiss before handing her to her mother. “They are the only ones who have it, Jack, and with all the protection we have, I don’t think it’s safe for them here right now.”

He hugged and kissed his daughter-in-law before kneeling on the floor to face his namesake. The boy latched on tight, “Please Grampa, don’t go talk to the people with the flags. Something bad is going to happen there. I know it. Please.”

“Henry, I took an oath that I would do my duty to my country and the office of the President of the United States. This is something I must do. But forewarned is forearmed. We will be watching for trouble now. And, you will take care of your mother and sister along with your father until we can see each other again.” He kissed him on the head one last time before standing. “Sometimes an honorable man has to do things he doesn’t want to in order to protect the people and the freedom we enjoy.”

Henry faced Jack, “Take care of them. If you have to use that paper, take care of them all.”

– – – – 

Chapter 14

Great Falls, VA

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It was still very early when Jack O’Neill’s car pulled up in front of the Sheppard family home. Well, home if you could call an estate of this size home. When they pulled John Sheppard into the program, someone dropped the ball when they saw next of kin: none.” There is no way he would have approved stealing away one of THE Sheppards from Sheppard International, gene or no gene.

His driver parked and came around to open the door. A tiny part of Jack wanted to shoot the man for doing that. Not kill, just wound…maybe. He pulled his briefcase over and slowly climbed out of the car. OK, how hard can this be? The man is John’s father, so he’s got to be pretty laid back.

The door was opened moments after the doorbell by a servant in uniform. “May I help you?”

“General Jack O’Neill to see Patrick Sheppard…please.” Jack gave the best little boy grin he could. The servant didn’t look impressed.

“Is Mr. Sheppard expecting you?”

“Um…maybe?”

“Is that a no, General?”

“Look, there is information that I have been authorized by the President to discuss with him, and I would rather not do so at an office. So, if I could come in?”

The door was opened, grudgingly, and Jack was asked to wait. A few minutes later he was led into the home, proper. Three people were waiting who he recognized from the files Paul Davis had pulled together as Patrick, David, and Matthew Sheppard. 

Patrick stood in a position of power in the room, where all eyes would need to focus on him. David stood slightly behind and to the left of his father. Matthew was sitting on the couch, foot tapping.

“Hi. I’m Jack O’Neill.”

“I am aware of who you are, General O’Neill. The media has been quite interested in you of late. And, of your ability to avoid them at will.”

“Media’s such a fickle thing.” Jack dismissed.

“I understand you are here on behalf of the President?” Sheppard asked, leading the question.

“In a roundabout way.”

Sheppard nodded and without looking back said, “Matthew, go to your room.”

“No.”

“Matthew, that was not a request.”

“Dad.” David started as Matthew interjected, “I think I have a right to be here if he’s going to tell you John is dead.”

Jack held up a hand, “Now, hold on. I am not here to tell you that John is dead.”

“He’s alive?” Looking at the youngest Sheppard, he saw relief and longing. 

“Yes. John is why I’m here.”

Patrick Sheppard shook his head, his expression unreadable, “I’m not certain why you would be here to speak to me about John. He made his decision a long time ago.”

“Look, can you at least give me a moment to bring you up to speed about the truth of some of the things you have seen in the media?” Jack pleaded. 

“Very well.” Patrick took a seat, gesturing for Jack to take the one opposite him. 

“OK, so. The truth is the whole things about aliens and stargates and traveling to other worlds is all true. In about three hours, President Hayes is going to go before the United Nations and declassify the project. The part about some of us being descendants of an ancient race is correct as well. The recent flu has activated that part of our heritage.”

Patrick motioned Jack to continue. “Three years ago, our program sent an expedition to the Pegasus Galaxy in search of a city built by those same ancients. It is called Atlantis, and the technology is years above what is available now. When we sent them, we took a big chance, because while we were trying to build ships that could reach them, there was no guarantee we would make it.”

Jack adjusted his shoulders and then dove in, “Long story short, the Military Commander of the base is Lt. Colonel John Sheppard.”

Matthew moved so fast he didn’t even see him get out off the couch, much less see the punch coming. “You sent my brother on a suicide mission.”

“Matthew!”

“It was. Deny it! He sent John on a suicide mission.” David made it behind Matthew and wrapped his arms around him to pull him back before he could try another punch.

“Good arm, there.”

“Why am I being notified of this now?” Patrick refocused on Jack who was rubbing his eye.

“This declassification has become difficult for the families of our people. To protect them, at least for now, we are offering them sanctuary on our Atlantis base until this all hopefully blows over. And, John asked that I extend an invitation to you.”

“Yes, we’ll go,” Matthew called out.

“We will not,” Patrick responded.

“Dad! I want to go see John.”

“Absolutely not.”

“But John wants us there.”

“Your brother has never included the concerns of this family in his decisions, I see no reason for us to put our lives on hold to bend to his demands.”

“Oh, because bending is something you do so well.” Matthew rejoined.

“Mattie, I think you need to see this from Dad’s point of view. You don’t know John like we do.”

“Bullshit! I know John just fine. He’s your brother, too. Are you so stuck up Dad’s ass that you won’t even make a decision for yourself?”

“Matthew Patrick Sheppard! That is quite enough from you, young man. You will go to your room, now, and contemplate adjusting your attitude.”

“Dad.”

“This instant, Matthew! I will not have you disrespecting me in my own home.” Matthew opened his mouth, and Patrick let loose an extremely authoritarian voice, “Your room!” 

The teenager appeared to practically vibrate in place, several objects in the room moved as he stood and stomped up the stairs, “I hate you!”

Once the dust settled, Jack sighed, “I never meant to be a disruption here.”

“John has been the only disruption in this family for the last eleven years.”

“Look, I don’t know anything about your family, but I do know that people have been hurt, are dying just for having the abilities we do. We just rescued several people who were being held for experimentation. That hasn’t been disclosed yet by the way.”

“Full disclosure; I can’t promise you that Atlantis is safe. Hell, it’s in the middle of a war zone against aliens. But we can usually spot the allies and enemies there. And, my gut is saying Earth is not going to be safe for our kind.”

Sheppard dismissed Jack’s warnings, “I have enough power and money to ensure our safety right here.”

“You’re that sure you want to take that kind of risk with your family?”

“Life is about prospects and possibilities, General. I analyze risk and reward daily. I’ve made a life out of minimizing risk and maximizing reward, and history has shown me that not giving in to John’s tantrums is the best way to minimize the risk to this family. Now you see the rewards. He finally realizes the error of his ways, and soon he will return and ask forgiveness.”

Jack sat back and just stared for a moment, shaking his head, “They’re your children, not business ventures. I’ve spent a lifetime analyzing risk and reward on a much more physical battlefield. And, my history shows me that when John cares about something he doesn’t back down for any reason. But he does know how to cut his losses when he is responsible for lives. He wants you back in his life, but he won’t walk away from his duty, or Atlantis.”

“Well, he walked away from his family.”

“Walked, or pushed?”

“General, I am through with this discussion. My answer for myself and my family is no. And, as for your opinions on my parenting, you can go to hell.” And, Patrick Sheppard stood and left the room.

“Well, that went well.” Jack quipped.

David Sheppard drew a slow deep breath, “Dad can be forceful in his opinions, but he is usually correct. And, he is sensitive on the subject of John. He doesn’t take failure well.”

“I don’t see how anyone could look at John Sheppard and see failure.” Jack really didn’t understand these people. “He was obviously raised to be successful at what he tried, and he is an exceptional officer.”

“He was supposed to take over Sheppard Industries Research and Development Division after college, not run off to play soldier. He had responsibilities, and he threw those away. And, fine. He wanted to throw away the company and our heritage, so be it. But he threw all of us away with it. He threw away family, and me, and Mattie. That kid was too young to understand why his big brother suddenly didn’t want to know him.” David shook his head, “I don’t know if there is any apology I could accept for that.”

“Look, as I said, I don’t know your family drama. I don’t think I want to. But John is reaching out now.” He pulled out the large envelope and handed it to David. “There are letters for each of you in here. He won’t be coming back until the threat is resolved, I can’t allow him to take that risk.” Jack stood and turned to walk back toward the door. Just before leaving the room he turned back, “Are you willing to risk losing your last chance to know him?”

– – – – 

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

“Henry, I still think I should be there,” Jack stated for the fifth time on this call. Henry’s car was moving from Air Force One to the United Nations for his address.

“Jack, you are exactly where I want you. This one isn’t about you, and if you’re here for them to question, then you will change the focus. Trust me on this. Politics I know.” Henry said with a chuckle.

Jack grunted in frustration, “For the record, I hate this. I still say we should have just arrested Kinsey for treason instead of playing these games.”

“Oh, we’re going to arrest the SOB, but first, we will win over the public. I will make sure the people know that Bob knew about your program for years before I was ever aware. I’ve changed my plan a bit with that report you sent me. Your investigators in that Mountain are good. Damn good. To find out Bob is financing the group that abducted those kids and people, well…, the public is going to go rabid screaming for his blood by the time I’m finished today.”

“You are being careful, right Henry?”

“I’m being careful, Jack. I’m not taking any risks. I’m wearing my vest. The Secret Service is quadruple checking everything. You just sit back and watch the show.” 

There was a long pause of silence as Jack could hear faintly in the background an ETA for arrival being discussed. “I’ve got to go now. But, just remember, anything happens, you do whatever you have to in order to protect as many of you as possible. Whatever you have to, Jack.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll speak to you after your speech.” At the click, Jack hung up his phone and leaned back in the chair before looking up at Hank Landry in the doorway.

“Problem?” Jack asked.

“Not exactly,” Hank replied.

“Well, that’s enlightening. You have a problem, spit it out, Hank.”

“You’ve had the President’s ear on this, but the number of supplies you’re sending through the Gate isn’t the sign of a temporary increase in population. It looks more like you are preparing to cut contact. I didn’t get into this for you to set up your own fiefdom.” Hank stated.

“Not about a fiefdom, hard to rule and control those. Hank, it’s about protection. We’ve never supplied the Atlantis mission the way we should have. It’s been the President’s plan for a while to increase forward troops in that direction, but this has changed things slightly. All goes well, we will still increase troops, but it will be a long-term assignment with base housing for families. Until then, we use the resources we have to protect the innocent civilians who didn’t ask to be part of this.”

“Fine. But I’ve seen requests for livestock come across my desk.”

“Yeah, me too. But the ecologists threw a fit and Daniel gave me a three-hour lecture on the rabbit and Australia. Stopped paying attention after the sixth time he said non-indigenous species.” Hank laughed, and Jack stood up, “Come on. The President should be arriving at the UN for his speech, let’s go watch in the mess with everyone else.”

They entered the mess together where the room was full and the TV already broadcasting ZNN. The reporter was droning on as the Presidential motorcade stopped. A few minutes later Secret Service was in position, and the door was opened. Jack tuned out the mobs protesting to watch as Henry stepped out of the car and walked to the waiting reception line.

Jack would always remember that it was at the moment Henry smiled and waved at the crowd of reporters that his head snapped back and he fell, lifeless to the ground.

Screaming on the TV matched that in the room. Jack was frozen in shock, just staring as the Secret Service reacted, but it wasn’t the first time Jack had seen a head shot. He mentally slapped himself and started issuing orders.

“Hank, triple security. Mitchell, I want everyone recalled to base. Get me a list. Sam and Danny, same with sciences. I don’t care if they’re military or civilian, I want everyone secured.” He looked around the room. “This is a terrible day for our country, do what you need to deal with it, but do it on base. If you have anyone else you need to be brought here, get that information to Sgt. Harriman. And, Walter, get me a line to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Jack took one last look at the TV that was repeating the scene, turned, and left the room. In his office he gave himself a moment to deal, knowing he didn’t have time to grieve a friend.

– – – –

Tony was grouped in the investigation war room. With everyone else on their team. The little woman, Miko had tears running down her face as she continued typing away at her computer. 

The SEALS, FBI, NCIS, and Stargate representatives were grouping together to comfort one another and see what they could do to help now. Tim pulled up the live ZNN feed so they could watch the continuing coverage.

The zippy little banner was offensive, in Tony’s opinion. It was the only noise in the room besides the computer, Miko’s typing, and the sounds of choked off sobbing.

The scene suddenly changed, and a camera was inside the Oval Office broadcasting as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court administered the Oath of Office to Robert Kinsey. Tony felt anger build with each word.

“How can they let him be President after what he’s done?” Penelope Garcia demanded. “He committed treason. One of his companies was financing the abductions. We found the proof.”

Tony’s mind was moving. “Why kill the President?”

“What?”

“OK, people. We’re investigators here. Why kill the President?”

Spencer Reid walked to one of his whiteboards. “Insanity or delusion,” he wrote it on the board.

Others in the room focused and started throwing out reasons, “belief in a cause, conspiracy, anger, hate” and the list went on.

Tony walked over and circled one, “conspiracy.” He looked back, “crazy or not. Believer or not. I want to hear what the man’s going to say. Is he going to admit everything about aliens is true? Is he going to try to discredit it? Either way, I need to know what he says.”

Spencer pointed at the one that said, belief. “I’m a true believer, I wait until he talks and then kill him if his words challenge my beliefs or if his death will support my cause.”

Tim stood up nodding he pointed back at conspiracy, “I already know what he’s going to say. I need to stop him before he can ruin my plans. I have an agenda, and he’s interfering.”

Steve held up a hand, “Wait a minute. You guys are saying Kinsey conspired to murder the President.”

The screen changed, and the newly sworn-in President spoke to the people for the first time.

“My fellow countrymen, this is a sad day for our country and for all of humanity. We have lost a great friend, a great leader, and he will be missed. We grieve with his family and assure them and you that his murderers will not go unpunished.”

“I understand how tense things have been these last few days. I had many long conversations with Henry to explain my reasons for releasing information and was happy and proud that he had been swayed to my point of view.”

“Today he was going to stand before the United Nations and confirm every word about the Stargate Program and assure them that the threat to our people, to all humanity, would be ended as the gate was shut down.”

“Unfortunately, that did not happen in his lifetime. Instead, as I learned just before this broadcast, the shooter was captured and confessed to everything. But he was not working alone.”

“This conspiracy goes all the way up to the head of that evil program. This poor soul admitted that not only was he ordered by General Jack O’Neill to assassinate the President before he could interfere, when he refused those aliens entered his mind and forced him to do it.”

“Unfortunately, this individual was also programmed to kill himself if captured, so we were unable to question him further. But I assure you, my fellow countrymen, my fellow humans, that we will not rest until mankind is safe from these creatures.”

“I am now issuing orders for the arrest and detainment of all aliens and sympathizers working in the Stargate Program. I assure you, in the days to come, I will lead you all to a better country, one country united under God, almighty.”

The broadcast switched to an anchor as Tony said, “Murder.”

– – – –

Jack ran to the Command Center, “Seal the Mountain.”

Hank Landry stepped out from his office, “Hold that order.”

“Hank? Last I checked, I rank you.”

“Let’s admit it, Jack, you’re compromised. All of you are.” He motioned the two marines with him to move forward. “I just got off the phone with President Kinsey. We need to take you into custody so that we can protect the rest of the people in the program.”

“Kinsey’s a traitor to this country. He went on TV and lied about Henry, lied about my involvement. You know this, Hank.”

Landry shook his head in agreement, “And, you will get your day in court to prove it. But, for now, I need to think about all of the people working here that have not been changed by this virus.”

“Walter, lock down the Mountain. Order the same for Area 51.” Jack ordered.

“Don’t make me stop you, Jack. Stand down.”

“Locking down the Mountain, sir.” Walter’s voice answered firmly behind him.

One of the marines turned his weapon on Walter and pulled the trigger. Jack moved faster than he can ever remember moving before between Walter and the gun while simultaneously thinking shield as hard as he could. A green glow surrounded him briefly as the bullet ricocheted off his shield. 

He moved forward, disarming the marines and mentally shouting for help. Soon, armed teams entered and surrounded them all. 

“General Landry and company will be detained. I want everyone disarmed and gathered in the main mess immediately. I have an announcement to make. Lt. Josephs, you will gather three teams and arm them.”

As they were led away, “Walter get me the fleet captains and the commander at Area 51, now. Then I want the fleet, Area 51, and the Outpost on the comm as soon as you can get them. I’ll be making an announcement in the mess, and I want everyone to hear.”

– – – –

“I want all of you over against the wall now.” A familiar voice called from the door.

Tim turned to see the long-haired obnoxious loud-mouth from the previous day, standing in the doorway with a firearm. 

When everyone hesitated, he waved the gun around with little control, “I said move.”

“What are you doing, Peter?”

“It’s Dr. Kavanagh, to you.” He said haughtily. “We are going to get all of you freaks out of here so that qualified people can take control.”

“You are not qualified to tie your own shoes.” Miko stated it with complete confidence.

Kavanagh’s face turned red. “You will respect me!”

He turned the gun as one of the SEALS started to move. “Don’t even think about it. First, I’m going to take our Patient Zero to my friends, and as a reward, I will be given my rightful place as Head of Sciences.”

Steve stepped in front of Tony, “Over my dead body.”

“Fine.” He pulled the trigger as a shield formed over Steve, protecting him and Tony behind him.

The bullet ricocheted off Steve to strike the table next to Tim, sending fragments into Tim’s arm.

“You coward!” Miko shouted. “You attack unarmed people and think that makes you superior. You are inferior to everyone in this Mountain. That includes the dishwashers, who at least know how to handle a firearm. You are inferior. You are a tiny little man who wet the bed for a week after the first Wraith attack.”

“You fucking little bitch!” He turned the gun on Miko, and a shield enveloped her as she moved in one smooth motion to pull a slim knife from the clip holding her hair in place and threw it, striking the Kavanagh in the throat.

Everyone was frozen in place as the man fell and kicked out his last on the floor before stilling. Miko walked over to him and looked down, slowly she reached for the knife before pulling back. She choked back a sob, then started kicking him over and over. “And your theories are lacking any relation to actual facts, your calculations inelegant, and your personal hygiene disgusting!”

Tim stepped up and wrapped arms around Miko while Tony removed the firearm moments before a team entered the room. They took in the scene before escorting them to the mess.

– – – –

Jack O’Neill stepped to the front of the silent room. “Ladies and gentlemen, well, let’s just admit it. This situation sucks. I don’t like speeches, but you need to know. Late last night, President Hayes signed an Executive Order creating an Independent Colony of Atlantis. He was headed to the UN today to declassify the Stargate Program, accuse Bob Kinsey of treason, and explain to the world that he was opening up Atlantis as a refuge for those who were changed by the flu.”

“Kinsey’s recent claims that I was involved in the murder of Henry Hayes are lies. Henry wasn’t just my Commander in Chief, he was my friend. He sent his youngest son and grandchildren to Atlantis last night for their safety due to the change, so I assure you he had no intention of shutting us down.”

“His last order to me as my Commander was to protect as many of the changed as I can. I intend to carry out that command, regardless of the criminal who is now sitting in his seat. Anyone who does not feel they can support this action, I respect. I ask you to step forward, and we will see to it that you are escorted from our bases and ships.”

“For those who remain, I am informing you now that we will in the days ahead rescue as many people as we can before departing for Atlantis. I don’t know when or if we will ever return. Again, if you do not feel you can leave the Earth behind, please step forward. There will be no repercussions from us.” 

Approximately 35% of those present stepped forward. Jack nodded, and two teams began escorting them out of the mountain. He motioned SG-1 to follow him.

“Sam?” Daniel asked, stricken.

She shook her head. “I’m still an Air Force officer. I have an Oath. Besides, if you all leave, they are going to need me. Kinsey may want to shut down the Program, but we both know that’s temporary. I’m the Chief Science Officer of the Program. They are going to need me, sir.” 

She looked uncomfortable as she spoke and Jack cocked his head to the side, reading her, “You are really that jealous of McKay?”

“Sir! You’re reading my mind? I can’t believe…No. I’m not jealous of McKay! He’s not half as smart as he thinks he is.” Color was rising in her face with every word, whether embarrassment or anger, Jack wasn’t checking.

Daniel on the other hand didn’t have the same boundaries. “Yes, you are. You know he’s smarter than you, and you’re mad that the change has increased his intelligence to the point you can’t compete.” Daniel shook his head, sadly. “It was never a competition, Sam.”

“It’s always a competition, Daniel.”

Jack grimaced and bit back everything he had ever wanted to say to her. “For what it’s worth, it’s been an honor, Sam. Dismissed.”

Once she was gone Mitchell stood up straighter, and Jack turned to consider him. “Mitchell, you have to know there’s a place for you if you want it.”

“Yes, sir. I do. For what it’s worth, I support everything you’re doing. But, I’m human, and this is my home. I can’t pull up my entire family. And, I can’t leave them. I’ll do what I can to protect the ones left behind.”

“Take care, Cam.” Daniel hugged him.

“You too.” Mitchell stepped back, saluted Jack, then turned to follow the last of the personnel leaving the Program.

Jack watched him go before re-entering the mess. “OK, Odyssey, can you deliver my package?” A moment later Paul Davis appeared in the Mess. 

“Alrighty, boys and girls, everyone see Major Davis and Walter for assignments. They will be coordinating everything for me. Dr. Kusanagi, I think we would all appreciate it if you could deploy McKay’s little gifts.”

Miko stepped forward to the laptop held by Walter and logged in. A moment later there was a brief fluctuation before she confirmed, “Cheyenne Mountain and Area 51 are now covered by shields.”

Jack took in everyone still standing in the room. “Let’s get to work everyone. Some people need saving.”

– – – –

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Jack was exhausted. He had four ships under his control. While Jack didn’t want to leave the Earth defenseless, he honestly didn’t want to leave Kinsey an immediate way to come after them. And, heck, he needed the extra space for cargo they couldn’t transport through the gate.

Supply lists were being added and adapted non-stop. He was quite honestly stealing people blind. But he did have Davis tracking that so they could pay for what they could, eventually.

In fact, Miko was leading a revolution in computer sciences. Once the body of Peter Kavanagh was cleared out of their war room, and one of the NCIS agents patched up, and don’t start with him that a room full of SEALS was held by a geek with a gun while another geek saved them with a knife, Jack shuddered. But once that was finished, they dove into those computers and still hadn’t come up for air. Seems Kinsey had links to several companies and businessmen on the shady side. They will be happy to know they are donating their retirements to a good cause.

Daniel came in with a tray of food, “Not Hungry.”

“According to Dr. Lam, you will eat, or she will sedate you and send you through the gate,” Daniel smirked.

“Fine. Did they put fruit loops on the list?”

“Yes, but I don’t know if it’s viable to keep up supply runs to Earth for fruit loops.” Daniel glanced at the stacks of paper on Jack’s desk. “You know, Jack. No matter what you do, you can’t save them all.”

“Yeah. Don’t you think I know that, Danny? I don’t need a degree in math to figure that one out.”

“I know you, Jack. You’re working on a plan. Spill.”

Jack leaned back while he was chewing his steak and considered. “I’ve spoken to the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia. They are both going to announce today that they are offering Amnesty to any of the Changed that can make it to their borders. We can’t support the pure numbers, but once we are stable, then we can come back and accept more.”

“Kinsey isn’t going to like that one bit.”

“Yeah, I know. There’s not a lot I can do for Canada. But I had a long conversation with Kusanagi last night. She can adapt the shields to overlap. McKay designed them to work together to cover large spaces. She’s communicated with Atlantis and they are sending more. When we leave, we are offering Australia the shields and ZPMs to power them.” Jack took another bite and realized he did have an appetite.

“That’s…actually a good plan. Kinsey will still hate it, but at least there will be one safe haven here.”

“I have my moments.” 

– – – –

Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Friday, July 1, 2005

Tony waited with Tim for Steve’s team to beam down. They had discovered a group of people being detained in Miami that were changed. Most had been re-entering the country from overseas and been identified during questioning.

Steve and his team liberated them. They were beamed to a ship and given the spiel. The ones who chose Atlantis were beaming down here any second. The others were either to be dropped at their homes or, encouraged to seek asylum in Australia.

Tim was vibrating in place. Steve had called down to inform them that Tim’s sister, Sarah, had been in the group. He was glad for McGee. At least one member of his family would be with him. It was better than most of them would get. 

Major Davis had personally arranged for Spencer Reid’s mother to be transferred to a facility in Australia. The kid was torn up that his mother couldn’t handle the idea of leaving Earth. Luckily, Garcia had been able to convince him that it was safer for his mother if he wasn’t close. His knowledge of the Program made him too much a target.

The transport completed and Tim’s arms were finally filled with chestnut hair and a large backpack. “Tim!”

“Sarah, thank god you’re OK.”

“It’s all true? We’re really going to another Galaxy?” She asked.

“Yes, I think it’s the best option right now.” He released the hug and turned her to the side. “Sarah, I want you to meet my partner, Tony.” He motioned between them. “Tony, my sister Sarah.”

“So, you’re Tony.” 

“It’s good to meet you finally.”

Steve came around behind Tony and wrapped his arms around him while giving him a kiss on the cheek, “Hey.”

Sarah got this mischievous smile. “Oh, wow. The two of you? That is so hot.”

Tim dragged his sister from the room, “Sarah!”

Tony laughed as they left and then turned to face Steve, the room now empty as people were led to medical.

“Can we talk a moment?” Steve asked.

“Sure.”

They moved to a smaller unused office and sat down.

Steve leaned forward. “O’Neill said he wanted most of your team to travel on the next dial-out to Atlantis.”

Tony nodded. “Yes. At this point, we’ve transferred something close to nine thousand people through to Atlantis, and he feels they are close to the sustainable limit at the current resources. The current plan is to return for more people when we have repaired enough of the city and have sustainable resources for the population.”

“Right. It’s good. We need to get you through the gate. There are still people who want to get their hands on you.” Steve agreed.

“Fine by me. I want to avoid the creepy secret labs.” Tony smiled. The smile slowly faded with Steve’s serious expression. “What’s going on, Steve?”

“You need to go, but I can’t.”

“Whoa, wait a moment. What happened to we don’t have to hide anymore? What happened to you and me forever?” Tony jerked back with Steve reached out for him. “Pretty shitty way to say you’re leaving me.”

“NO. Tony, I’m not leaving you. I’m just not going with you through the Stargate.”

“Oh, gee. Big difference there Steve-O. I’m not leaving you; I’m just not going with you to another Galaxy. I think intergalactic may be the limit on a long-distance relationship, Steve.” Tony started to rise, but this time Steve grabbed hold and didn’t let go.

“OK. So I screwed that up. Tony, I’m not going through the Stargate, but I will be on the ships going out. With all the chaos out there and the riots, I haven’t been able to reach my Dad or sister. I have to at least try to find them before I leave. O’Neill is going to lend me the transporters to get around. But, you understand, I have to try.”

“OK, well, I can just go with you.”

“No, Ku’uipo. It’s not safe for you. And, frankly, the longer you’re here, the more desperate they become to get you. It’s safer for everyone for you to leave as soon as possible.” 

Tony was pissed. Pissed at the situation and pissed because Steve was right, damn it. “Tell me you will be on that ship no matter what.”

“I will. I will be on the ship. I will be there for you. It’s you and me riding into the sunset. Together forever.”

Tony leaned in for a kiss, slow and gentle. “You better be there.” 

– – – – 

“General O’Neill, you have a call from the shield checkpoint.”

Miko had set up a method of opening a secure door in the shield. While the military had surrounded what they could of the Mountain, there were still people taking the risk to run the barricade and try to gain entry. Those that were able were searched and screened before given entry if they were changed or related to the changed. Then there would be questions before they were either offered a one-way trip to Atlantis or transported to a safe location, usually in Canada.

People had been breaking through the exterior line trying to get into the mountain since yesterday.

He should have been amazed at the number of crazies who just wanted to see the aliens or those who just wanted to leave the planet. But frankly, crazy was just a way of life now.

Jack stepped out to the command center. “What’s up, Walter?”

“Security is on line 3.”

“O’Neill,” Jack answered.

“General O’Neill, we have a minor at the intake portal asking to speak to you.”

“An unescorted minor?”

“Yes, sir. We don’t have a protocol for minors requesting refuge, sir. Do we allow him in?”

“Do you have a name yet, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir. He says his name is Matthew Sheppard, sir.”

“Oh, hell. Escort him to my office, Lieutenant.”

Jack poured two glasses of water while he waited. It was a long ten minutes before there was a knock on the door.

“Sir.”

“That will be all Lieutenant.” The lieutenant left, and Matthew Sheppard was framed in the office doorway, a backpack and a large duffel bag draped over his shoulders. Jack motioned him to step in and shut the door. The kid looked exhausted. He stood still and silent in the office, glancing around but not yet making eye contact. “Get in here and have a seat before you fall down, kid.”

Matt left his bags by the door and sat down before he took the glass Jack offered. He downed it in one long swallow, then hunched into the chair switching the glass back and forth between hands. “I’m, uh, sorry about the punch, General.”

Jack snorted, “No you’re not. Don’t start out lying to me.”

Matt smiled slightly and raised his eyes. “Yeah, I’m not.”

“You are now a big problem for me, kid. What am I supposed to do with you?”

“I want to go to my brother. You told my father we could go.”

“You’re a minor and your father categorically told me to go to hell, so I really doubt you’re here with his permission.”

“He was never going to let me go. So, I came on my own,” Matt responded flippantly.

“I have to contact your father. He’s probably having a stroke, not knowing where you are.”

“No! You can’t. I won’t go back. You can’t make me.” Matt stood up and leaned over the desk toward Jack. He cleared his throat and pointed back at the chair. Matt threw himself back into the chair.

“I let you go, I’m kidnapping. Granted, right now it would probably be considered the least of my sins, but I’m not someone who can separate a father and son. Work with me and give me one good reason why I shouldn’t call him right now.” 

“Dad thinks this will all blow over, and right now he has enough money and power that he can pretend nothing has changed. But I know, deep down inside that it won’t make a difference forever. He has a plan for my life, but the flu has changed everything, and he refuses to see it. Same as he refused to accept that John didn’t want the path he planned for him.” Matt ran a hand through his hair.

“General O’Neill, my brother left home when I was six years old. He refused to follow the plan Dad set for him and wouldn’t back down. The day he joined the Air Force Dad stopped calling him his son. I was too little to understand what that meant, but I learned not to talk about him where Dad or David could hear me.” He clenched his hands into fists as he spoke.

“I wrote letters to my big brother every week. The staff helped me mail them. And John would write back. In all that time I’ve only seen him three times, when Dad was away on business and John was on leave. But, when I was twelve, the letters started coming back unopened. Then Dad told me that John told him to have me stop sending them.”

He looked at Jack and pleaded, “I haven’t seen my brother since I was ten years old, General, and I just found out that it was all my Father’s fault. He sent back John’s letters and stopped mine. I just want my brother. Please, General O’Neill, please let me go to Atlantis. If John doesn’t want me there, fine. But, let me make this one choice for myself.”

Jack sighed deeply, “This isn’t a vacation, kid. I don’t know when any of us will be able to come back. And, it isn’t safe out there.”

“It isn’t safe here, General. But it’s my life. Please don’t take my choices away from me.”

Jack stared at him a long time, struggling to set aside the part of himself that was once a father to see the kid. No, Jack thought, that’s wrong, to see the young man, before him. And that thought he realized makes all the difference.

“I still have to call your father. I can’t leave the man without knowing where his son is. It’s just not something I can do.”

“I left a letter for him. He should get it tomorrow. It explains everything.”

“Don’t you want to talk to him first?”

“No, we had it out already. If Dad’s going to change, he has to make up his mind to do it. I guess I know you have to call him. But, can you wait until I’m gone to do it?” Matt looked at him with eyes so big and innocent looking, and he just knew Sheppard was going to have trouble with this one. Well, good. The man needed something to stop those suicide runs.

“Deal. Grab your gear. And let’s get you to Medical. I have a dial out in three hours, and I want you on Midway before your father is crawling down my throat.”

“Thank you so much, General O’Neill. You won’t regret it.” The kid had a beaming smile that could knock out a room. 

Jack stood up and motioned him to grab his bags and follow. “And, cut out the General O’Neill stuff, kid. From now on it’s Uncle Jack.”

– – – –

Chapter 15

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Friday, July 1, 2005

“Rodney, I thought I said you were off today,” John said as he stood in the doorway of the labs. “Radek, we had an agreement.”

“You and I are having an agreement. He is not knowing meaning of word.” Radek made shooing motions with his hands. “Colonel, you be taking him away and having much sex or something to wear him out.”

“OK, no sex talk in the lab. I bring my niece in here sometimes. She’s more intelligent company than most of you, and she knows how to listen to instructions.”

John picked up Rodney’s laptop and turned him toward the door. “Come on, Rodney.” He had been working non-stop since the funeral yesterday. With the constant flow of people through the gate recently, John hadn’t had a reason to make him stop. But, enough was enough. He couldn’t force Rodney to sleep, but he could remove Rodney from the distraction of work.

He had plans to lock them into their quarters and possibly engage in that sex Radek was recommending.

“Colonel Sheppard, you are needed in command.” Chuck’s voice called out over the comms.

“Oh, come on. I’m supposed to be off duty for a full rotation.”

“Yes, sir. But it’s urgent.”

“I can just go back to work,” Rodney suggested.

“No. I will deal with the urgent issue then we are going back to our quarters where I am going to undress you, give you a deep muscle massage, then suck you dry before fucking you until you don’t remember your name.” John said in a low voice as they entered the transporter.

Rodney shivered against him, “It sounds like you’ve been making a plan, Colonel.”

“I’ve got an entire step/action table ready for your review, Doctor.”

Rodney’s eyes glazed slightly as they began walking toward the gate room. “Oh, really. Tell me what’s on step eight.”

“Let’s see, that’s the part where I lick your…MATTIE!”

“What?”

“JOHN!” Suddenly John’s arms were full of his baby brother. He was holding on tight, stunned. Mattie was here and smiling and healthy, and so tall.

“You came. I can’t believe you came.” John hugged him again, then looked around, “Dad and David?”

Matt’s face fell slightly, “They wouldn’t come.”

John swallowed and looked around. “Chuck, this the reason I’m here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“OK, Doctor McKay and I are off for the rest of the rotation.” He took a duffle bag from Matt and hauled him over to where he left McKay. “Rodney, this is my baby brother, Matthew. Mattie, this is my partner, Rodney McKay.”

“Hi, you are the only member of your family your brother will even talk about.”

“So, you’re Rodney. Uncle Jack mentioned the two of you are shacking up. You’re a lot nicer than he described.”

Rodney let out a laugh, “I’m really not.”

“Uncle Jack?” John exclaimed, “You are calling General O’Neill, Uncle Jack?”

“He insisted.” Mattie was staring at everything in awe as they moved from the gate room, through the transporter, and finally into John and Rodney’s quarters. John figured it was a good thing they had fixed the second room up with a full bed for the times Maddie stayed over. At least this way Mattie would have a room.

John took him into the room to drop his bags before heading to their kitchen to get them all something to drink. He came out with Rodney lounging on the couch and Matt at the balcony, taking in the view of the city.

“So, talk to me kid.” John handed him a glass.

“Uncle Jack came to the house and told Dad everything. Dad threw him out. Dave supported him. Later that night, I find out that Dad sent back every letter you sent me after you divorced Nancy. And, he paid someone off to send back the ones I was mailing to you.” Matt looked at John, and he knew his own face was as devastated. “He figured if he cut you off completely, you would come back for me.”

“I am soo sorry Mattie. I wasn’t in a good place after the divorce. And, when the letters started coming back unopened, I tried to reach you, but received a message that you were angry, and it was better to let you get over it.” John shook his head, “I didn’t know.”

“Yeah, well neither did David. He thought you walked away completely. Then he found out we’ve been writing since I was six and Dad stopped it, not you. I finally had enough, and while they were in a huge argument, I packed up and took off.”

Matt set the glass down and looked at him. “Earth is screwed up. People have been killed for looking at someone wrong because they might be one of those aliens. Dad and David might be ok with taking that kind of risk, but at least being here is a risk I’m choosing. Besides, it was the last chance I might ever get to be with you, John.”

John stepped over and hugged him again. “You are always welcome with me, kiddo.”

Matt looked over at Rodney, “What about you? John said partner. Am I screwing up a good thing here?”

Rodney cocked his head, “I love you brother. That means I accept him. If he now comes with a baby brother, so be it.” He paused a moment as if considering how to say something. “I’m not normally all emotionally with it, so if I say something wrong, just tell me because I never read those situations right. But I recently lost a close friend. It made me realize that we need to pay attention to the people around us or we might miss something important. So, yes, yes. You are welcome here.”

Rodney stood up and waved his hands around in some indecipherable pattern, “So since I won’t be getting mind-blowing sex anytime soon, I’m going to go take a nap while John shows you around our city. Make sure he introduces you to Teyla and Ronon. They’re natives around here and kickass. They’ll teach you how to fight back.”

John smiled as Rodney walked into the bedroom, already shedding clothes. “I’m not messing something up for you?” Matt asked.

“No, McKay tends to speak his mind. And, he really needs the sleep.” John looked at his brother and smiled widely, “Come on and let me show you Atlantis. I know all the best parts. And, when we get tired of exploring, I’ll teach you to fly a jumper.”

– – – – 

Daedalus, Earth Orbit

Monday, July 4, 2005

Jack was sitting back on the Bridge of the Daedalus, trying not to interfere with Caldwell’s command, while also reviewing his speech one last time. They were beaming up the last of the pockets of people that had been checked for transport. 

Most were Changed that had been feeding them intel to rescue those that were in danger. Some had offered to stay behind, but Jack wasn’t comfortable when there was no telling when or if they would return. Others were in the last groups of rescues, and those would be watched carefully since they had the least amount of time to adjust and decide. 

At least seventy of the people sent to Atlantis had demanded to be returned when the reality of the situation hit them. Jack had complied but had it explained to everyone that it was their last chance. He then dropped them in Australia. It would be their choice if they wanted to try to return to the States given Kinsey’s rhetoric.

Caldwell signaled the final transport, and a group of people from the D.C. area appeared. Jack recognized many of this group from the White House and Pentagon, but there was one guy in a suit that screamed federal agent, who just looked around the bridge of the Daedalus with a strange grin.

When his gaze fell on Caldwell, he jerked and stared at him closely. He had to be nudged by the crew to follow the rest of the group to get a berth assignment. Caldwell shivered slightly before turning to the Petty Officer with the datapad, “Who was that one?”

Looking through the list, he replied, “List says he’s an FBI agent, name of…Mulder.”

Caldwell stared in the direction of the closed door a moment before ordering, “Watch him. Seems a little spooky to me.”

“Yes, sir.” The Petty Officer made a note on the tablet before noting, “All accounted for, sir.”

Steven turned to look at Jack, who smiled then said, “OK, Time to get this show on the road.” 

Steven signaled the comm officer, “Dr. Kusanagi? We are prepared to beam up the Stargate. Are you ready to drop the shield?”

“Yes, Colonel. The elevators are on lockdown, and the dialing computers will self-destruct as soon as they attempt to access them. I have also assured that my computer programs are at the ready, General O’Neill. When you broadcast your message, the data will be forced onto systems around the world.” There was a pause, then, “Shield down now.”

“Take the Stargate,” Steven ordered.

“The Stargate is now gone. Pulling ZPM now.” Another two minutes passed.

“Don’t waste time making things pretty down there. I don’t want to chance them catching up with you, Doctor.”

“By my calculations, they should have one of the elevators functioning in seven minutes. I will have my job completed safely in five, less if I were not wasting time explaining such things to you, Colonel.”

“She’s spending too much time with McKay.” Caldwell said, leaning back to tap on the arm of his chair.

Miko’s voice called out, “Now, Colonel.” And, Caldwell motioned for them to transport Miko and her team. The process took a moment longer as they barely appeared on the ship before they were redirected to Australia. “We have arrived safely. Estimated time to complete the set-up, two hours.”

“Oh, take your time, Miko. We’ll be happy to cloak over you until you’re ready to leave. Besides, we have a little errand to complete.”

Jack rubbed his hands together and moved back to the position they were setting up on the bridge for Jack’s broadcast to Earth. A podium with the Earth displayed behind him. No reason to pretend any longer. And just to stick it to Kinsey that none of them are on Earth any longer.

Within five minutes, Jack was ready to begin. His people took over Earth’s broadcast satellites to send a message, worldwide.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of Earth. My name is Jack O’Neill, formerly a General in the United States Air Force. Contrary to Mr. Kinsey’s statements, neither I nor anyone associated with my program was involved in the assassination of President Henry Hayes. The man served with honor and devotion, and a deep sense of duty. I was honored to know him and call him friend.”

“On the day he was murdered, he was preparing to address the United Nations to explain the truth of the Stargate Program as well as provide evidence regarding Bob Kinsey’s complicity in the Program along with financing criminal, fringe elements that approved of experimentation on humans who had been affected by the virus.”

“Unfortunately, Henry died before evidence of Kinsey’s treason could be presented. But I refuse to allow his memory and purpose to be twisted into a lie to support his murderer. As I speak, data is being released worldwide for review by governments, media, and the public. Bob, you wanted the people to know, then let them know everything.”

“As for myself and the innocent people who have been changed, we are your neighbors, your friends, your family. No matter the genetic changes that have altered us against our will, inside we are still the same people you lived with, loved and helped grow. We were never meant to be enemies.”

“Now Mr. Kinsey will try to tell you that I am lying, manipulating, trying to trick you. Whether you believe me or not, he’s the only liar here. But I am beyond playing he said, she said. I leave it to a free press to investigate and determine which truth they believe.”

“So, here I am to carry out the last order of my Commander in Chief, my friend, President Henry Hayes. On the evening before his murder, he signed an Executive Order calling for the creation of the Independent Colony of Atlantis. In so enacting, he authorized the honorable discharge and release of all individuals who chose Atlantis Citizenship, both military and civilian, from any oaths of service. It was witnessed by his Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And, for the record, it was properly filed that same night. This was all in keeping with the legal charter of the Atlantis Expedition.”

“To those we leave behind, know we do not leave our home and world easily. Look to the skies, for we will no longer be here to protect you from what may come. We will try to return when Bob Kinsey answers for his crimes. Until then, if you are Changed seek shelter and stay safe. Australia and Canada have offered you refuge if you need it.”

“Oh, and Bob. Since you were so fired up to shut down the program to protect Earth, well, you can have the mountain back, but I’m keeping the ships and the Stargate. After all, you didn’t plan to use them anymore. And, frankly, I don’t trust any of you to be the only one with that kind of power. Happy Independence Day.”

“Jack O’Neill, Citizen of Atlantis, signing off.”

The screens went black. “Give them about three minutes, then release the satellites,” Jack ordered.

“I wish I could see Kinsey’s face when he realized he lost the Stargate in addition to Earth’s fleet.” Steven Caldwell grinned.

“They still have one in construction. It can be ready in eight months if they decide to rush construction. Of course, Carter is one of the few people left on Earth that understand how they work.” Jack shrugged. “I’m going to head down to the mess. I feel like a slice of pie.”

“I’ll keep you in the loop, General.”

“Just Jack now, weren’t you listening.”

Steven snorted, “Yeah, good luck with that, General.”

– – – – 

Farm near Auburn, KS

Monday, July 4, 2005

The crescent moon provided no help to the lights of the five tractors moving earth in the field at the far edge of the Mitchell Family Farm. Jack O’Neill stood in the dark next to Cameron Mitchell staring as the stargate was buried deep enough that no one would suspect anything.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a red crystal, “They understand they can never tell anyone it’s here?”

“Trust me, General. Dad and the family understand.” Mitchell replied.

Jack gripped his hand around the crystal that would allow a gate to dial between galaxies one last time before handing it over, “Someday you might need this. If that day comes, give us a call.”

Taking the crystal and securing it in a pocket, Cameron turned to face Jack. “It’s been an honor to serve with you, General.”

Jack stood up straight and looked Cameron in the eye, “The honor was mine.”

– – – –

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Friday, July 8, 2005

Tim McGee came running into the East Mess Hall only fifteen minutes late. He had to lay down the law with Sarah about exploring off-grid and the fact that he wouldn’t be looking the other way just because she’s his sister. He ran through the line to grab some coffee and two of those yellow and purple melon-like fruits. Turning with the tray, he spotted Tony surrounded by the newly forming Atlantis Athletics Committee.

They were here two days when Tony posted a bulletin on the intranet to form up a couple of basketball teams for some relief. That generated a discussion which ended with Colonel Sheppard throwing Ronon Dex at him and saying organize some leagues. That led to a discussion of Pegasus sports, other than running from the wraith, and now they were hammering out classes and rules. Especially the no telekinesis during play rule.

Tony moved over but continued talking while Tim ate. Eventually the topic caught Tim’s attention. “Wait, there are running paths here?”

Ronon reached over and took part of one melon off his tray, “Yeah, we have a few set up. You run?”

“I was trying to start before all this.” Tim shrugged.

“You can run with me, good skill to have. Should work with Teyla on bantos. Her style would be better for your build.”

“I’d love to learn.”

One of the marines on the committee looked him over, “You playing basketball?”

“No, don’t have the time. I’m trying to start up some scouting groups for the kids.” Tim responded.

Ronon looked confused, “What’s scouting?”

“It’s an organization for children to teach them life skills while building up their self-esteem and teaching them to make moral decisions. Traditionally, a large portion of that involves teaching them wilderness survival skills.”

Ronon perked up, “I could help.”

Tim smiled, “That would be great. I was hoping to get a few people who could pass on local survival skills since some of what we know to look for on Earth wouldn’t apply here. The kids need the activities, and it’s important they learn to respect the cultures and environments they‘ll be living in.”

Tony shook his head, “Come on, Probie. Time to get to work.”

Tim refilled his coffee on the way out, leaving the tray on the table when Ronon grabbed it for the half of the second melon that remained. “Have you met her?”

“Once on a case. Never let size fool you. She’s one of the scariest people I know.”

They arrived at the newly christened, A.C.E.D. Offices. Others were following them in. Introductions were casually going around as people found seats. Then she walked out, and her presence commanded attention.

“If I could have your attention, please. For those I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person, my name is Henrietta Lange, and I have been selected as Director of Atlantis’ Civil Enforcement and Defense. The mandate of this division is to enforce the law, keep the peace, and coordinate civilian defense with the military in the event of an invasive force. 

There are currently twenty-two of us with law enforcement experience, though that number may increase once the final ships arrive. Once our operation has stabilized, I will expand operations by cross-training a volunteer force to assist us on an as-needed basis. The military will maintain our detainment center. 

I believe that with a population of our current size, the most critical factor is visibility. Therefore, you will all be happy to know that you will each be assigned a zone for foot patrol. You can see Ms. Garcia here for your computer access, schedules, and emergency assignments. We have a lot of work before us to get this operational, and I look forward to working with each of you.” She stared each of them down. “The one thing you need to know for us to get along is don’t fuck with me.”

She turned and walked into her office.

Tim shivered. “You’re right, she is scary.”

– – – –

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Jeannie Miller stopped by Madison’s classroom on her way back from the lab. She waved at Mrs. Lowell even though Madison’s voice warned everyone of her presence. “Mommy! Uncle Mer stopped in our class and gave us all bracelets, see? He said that you can sync it to your tablet so you can always find me if I get lost on the city. And, if I touch this button here, I can call you. The red button is special, we only use that one if we’re hurt or something really bad is happening so that the command center knows to come get us and help us.”

Jeannie smiled down at it, suitably impressed, “Well, your Uncle Mer wants to keep you all safe.” Five kids in the last three days had wandered off and Mer had a meltdown when he realized one of them was near a dangerous area that hadn’t been searched yet. The bracelets primary function was to send an alert if they traveled out of bounds.

“What are we doing before dinner, Mommy?”

“Well, I’m preparing a lesson plan for my next class. All the adults have to learn how to live here. And some of them need new jobs for their new home. So, we’re working on training them.” Most were rotating between chores to make the city more livable, reading information to get them up to speed on the history of the Stargate Program, and a Pegasus Primer. They were still working their way toward setting up professional offices for those with transferable skills.

Medical had been tagged and assigned first. Jeannie had been beyond relieved to discover there were OB/GYN specialists as well as Pediatricians among their population. She touched her stomach briefly and choked back her grief that Caleb would never know the son that was growing strong within.

“Can we go to the gardens today? My friend Tam is learning how to make the plants grow really fast from her Uncle Davy, and she said he will teach me too. And, if you help, you can have a plant of your own in your home,” Maddie begged.

“OK,” Jeannie agreed, glad that Madison was excited and making friends. Surprisingly it was Meredith that Maddie had latched onto in the first few days when she was frightened, and Jeannie had been lost in her own grief. They were thick as thieves, getting into trouble with their Important Life-changing Experiments.  She took Maddie’s hand, “Let’s go to the gardens and see what Dr. Parrish is growing today. It’s important that we all learn to help the plants grow so we will have plenty of food.”

– – – –

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The jumper landed only a little heavily, and then the rear access opened. A teenager that John recognized as one of Walter Harriman’s sons exited, paused, then at John’s sharp head jerk he took off running toward the door to  the Jumper Bay where his father stood, waiting. Since Harriman was the one who reported the unauthorized flight along with the identities of the missing teens, John had agreed they would each take charge of their own delinquent.

“Matthew Patrick Sheppard, get out here this instant!” John was furious. How dare he take a risk like this. Jumpers were precision machines that were not foolproof. All the safety protocols in the world couldn’t be trusted to compensate for a barely trained teen with only a few lessons under his belt. Though his escapades did highlight an issue with how Atlantis viewed authority based on strength of the gene and ability to manipulate the system. Rodney and Radek were working on a patch to prevent like issues around the city. Which is why this little joyride would be kept quiet for now.

Matt slowly exited the rear hatch of the jumper. “Um, John. This really isn’t as bad as it seems.”

“Well, it seems like you took the base commander’s jumper on a joyride to impress a boy.” John took him by the elbow and started walking toward the nearest transporter.

“Well, when you say it like that…”

“You are grounded. No jumpers, no radio cars, no pool, and no Tower 4 clubbing.”

 Matt spun around, walking backward, “How did you know about the Tower 4 club?”

“I’m the military commander of this base. I know everything. And if there is anything I don’t know, then I have teams of people whose job it is to find out and report to me.”

“Come on. This isn’t fair. We weren’t hurting anyone, and I have a driver’s license.” 

They entered the transporter, and John selected the closest location to their quarters. “You are seriously trying to equate a license to drive a car on Earth with the operation of a precision engineered craft that can travel through air, water, and space?”

“What? You can take it into the water? That’s awesome! Will you take me?”

“Let’s get back to the part of this program where you are grounded for the next two months.” They reached their quarters, and the door slid open as they approached.

“John, it’s not like we were up there having sex or something.”

“No. I did not just hear my baby brother mention the S word. Didn’t happen.”

“I’m sixteen, John, not six. The Athosians would consider me an adult.”

A barked laugh came from the bedroom, and Rodney entered while pulling on sweats. “Let your brother keep his delicate sensibilities and believe you’re still innocent.”

“Rodney, just tell him I’m not a child.”

“No, you are not a child. But the age of consent on this base is 18. And, since you are going to have so much extra time on your hands, you and I are going to have a lot of conversations about consent, and body autonomy, and sex, and so many things that will make you uncomfortable and willing to take cold showers for the next three years to avoid thinking about it.”

“Rodney, noooo.  John, don’t let him.” Matt looked horrified between them.

“Don’t look at me, kid. I happen to agree with him. The man’s a genius, take an opportunity to learn from him.”

“I can’t believe this is my life.” Matt threw himself down on the couch and clutched a pillow to his chest.

– – – –

Atlantis, Pegasus Galaxy

Sunday, July 31, 2005

“Atlantis, this is Daedalus, we are entering orbit now.”

“It’s good to see you Daedalus, we were getting a little worried about you,” John said, breathing a little hard from the run here from the north garden. Jeannie had declared today a family day, so they had been having a picnic.

“We took a little detour to check in with Teal’c before leaving home.” 

John signaled Walter Harriman, who was handling control this shift, “I’m sending instructions for landing.”

“Thank you, Atlantis. The General would like to beamed down and avoid the rush.”

The doors opened, and Rodney entered with Jeannie, Maddie, and Mattie in tow. “Tell Jack to get down here. Maddie wants Uncle Jack to come to her tea party picnic.” Rodney called out.

Jack O’Neill appeared with Daniel Jackson and two others behind him.  John wasn’t paying attention at first until Mattie called out, “DAD!”

O’Neill stepped aside as Matt ran full tilt down the stairs to hug his father. John just stood in shock, watching the reunion. After a moment, David grabbed Matt, and his father looked up and stared into his eyes with a look of pain, determination, and was that pride?

He couldn’t move. He had been in more firefights than he could count, and nothing had ever frozen him in place like his father’s gaze. He must have lost time because suddenly his father was standing in front of him.

“How?”

“I lost you. I’m not used to losing at anything, but I lost you, and I don’t even know when it happened. I’m a stubborn asshole. But, I’m not normally a stupid, stubborn asshole. I lost you and threw away any chance to make it right because I didn’t want to admit I was wrong. I thought I could live with that. But then I lost Mattie, and I knew I only had one chance left. Please, Johnny, can you give me a chance?”

Slowly John reached out and hugged his father, “Dad.”

Dave stepped up, “I am so sorry, John. I thought…well, it doesn’t matter what I thought. I didn’t try because I was angry.” John wrapped an arm around Dave and pulled him in. 

Matt waited barely a moment before piling on. “I can’t believe it worked. I’m a genius, an absolute genius.”

John backed up a moment to stare at Matt with one eyebrow raised, “ok, genius. Just remember you’re still grounded.”

“Matthew?” Dad’s voice had that tone John remembered from his teen years.

“It was nothing.”

“It was a joyride in a jumper to impress a boy.”

“Matthew.”

Matt raised both eyebrows and in a concerned, questioning tone asked, “So, hey, Dave, what about the company?”

“Oh, no. Don’t try to deflect to me.”

“But I want to know.”

Riiiiight. Well, Dad and I spent three days without sleep to move the headquarters of Sheppard International to Australia. They are offering jobs to any of the changed that are seeking asylum until they can get a job in their profession. Left Biggs in charge to run the day-to-day.” David explained as John walked them over to the group speaking to ‘Uncle Jack.’

“Dad, David, I would like you to meet my partner, Rodney McKay, behind him is his sister Jeannie and niece, Maddie. This is my brother David and my father.”

Jack looked around, “Why don’t you find them some quarters while you get on with the introductions. I’m sure we can sort out the ship without you.”

– – – – 

Tony and Tim watched as their new arrivals unloaded from the ship. Everything was going pretty smoothly this time. That first ship had been chaos, but now there were procedures in place to move people into the city for orientation and room assignment. The two of them were supposed to be off duty this shift, but it was an all call, so they were just standing back and watching for wanderers and children separated from parents.

“I hope there’s more law enforcement on this one.” Tim said as he motioned someone back into line.

“Don’t know if there are, Probie, but it would be nice to fill out the slots on all four duty shifts with pros.” Tony agreed. With twenty-eight-hour days, Hetty had divided each day into four seven-hour shifts. Everyone would be cross trained into a secondary job that they worked 3-4 hours per day, though most of it at this point was skills training for manufacturing the basics they would need.

“Got a runner.” Tony pointed at the child of about two or three who was taking off toward the side.

“On it.” Tim took off running and wrapped an arm around the child to swing her up into the air. The child froze a moment before giggling loudly.

Tony found the parents and directed them toward Tim and their daughter. He watched the little reunion with a wry smile when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

He spun around and into a quick kiss. Jerking back, he took a look at the person and let the mask he had been wearing for a month fall. “You came.”

“You doubted me?”

“When you weren’t on the other ships, I thought…”

“I promised you. You and me, forever. I missed you, Ku’uipo.” Steve pulled Tony back into a slower, deeper kiss that spoke of want and desire and relief.

“Ahem, would you like to introduce me?” An older version of Steve stood behind him with a smile.

“Oh, Dad. Dad, this is my Tony. Tony, I’d like you to meet my Dad, John McGarrett.” 

Tony stepped toward him and held out a hand, “I’m honored to meet you, sir.”

John hauled him in for a hug, “None of that, it’s Dad to you.”

Tony hesitantly returned the hug. He backed off a little after and glanced at Steve, “Your sister?”

“Wouldn’t come, but we did get her moved to Canada.”

“I’m so sorry about that.” And Tony was.

“She’s an adult. I can respect her choices. Well…Sometimes.” Steve smiled and rolled his eyes.

Tony looked around for McGee and saw him up ahead, carrying a case for Miko Kusanagi. She looked so small walking beside him.

“Come on, SEAL. Let’s get you guys through Orientation and an apartment for your Dad. Hey, John, you were with Honolulu PD?”

“Yes, Detective. Why?” 

“I need to introduce you to Hetty. She’s in charge of the police around here, and she’s hiring.”

A jumper flew up and over the pier before stopping for a moment then changing direction to fly around the city. Steve and John just stopped like so many others on the pier to watch. Tony wrapped an arm around Steve, “Welcome to Atlantis.”

Steve gripped him tight as John wrapped arms around both of them, “Welcome to the family, Tony.”

– – – –

The End