Word Count: 14,531
Rating: PG13 (to be safe).
Category: AU. Angst. Action.
Story Status: Complete
Summary: It all begins with a stranger, destined to become a friend...

Author's Notes: This was written for the 2009 SGA Gen Ficathon over on LiveJournal.  My prompt was: "I trust you, and that makes you true; I don't care if it isn't the way it is" (The Tragically Hip, 'In View'). This is an AU where Rodney McKay is a Pegasus born native with a slightly altered name.  This story starts at the end of 'Poisoning of the Well' (an episode that can handle the lack of Rodney and still have the same outcome). I have borrowed or altered some sentences from 'The Storm', 'The Eye' and 'The Gift' (from transcripts found on GateWorld). This story is written with the understanding that the reader has seen all four episodes.  This is not a literal interpretation of the prompt, but hopefully still fits it, albeit loosely. Title comes from this quote by T S Eliot, "Those who trust us educate us".

Beta: Thank you to Jayne Perry for the beta-reading and to Luna for the wonderful cover art.

Those Who Trust
By Leesa Perrie

Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5

Cover art by Luna - for further artwork check out her LiveJournal here.

Chapter 1 – Mysterious Happenings

Carson was packing away the medical equipment he had brought to Hoff, his heart sore from the loss of Perna, and from all those who had or would die from the serum he had helped create.  And although Sheppard had told him he was not to blame, that the Hoffans were the ones to blame, for not listening to him, to them, deep down he couldn't let go of his part in this.

Hearing footsteps, he looked up, expecting to see Teyla and Ford, who Sheppard was sending to help carry his equipment back to the gate and Atlantis, but instead a stranger stood before him.  A tall, blond haired man aged in his early twenties.

"Aye, and what do you want?" he asked wearily, presuming the stranger to be yet another Hoffan come to congratulate him on his work.  He'd had enough of those this last hour to last him a lifetime, and more.

The man wandered over to a book on one of the lab benches, idly paging through it and avoiding eye contact, before replying in a scathing tone of voice.  "The Hoffans are idiots, willing to kill half their population in the hopes of keeping the Wraith away, and yet this serum will draw the Wraith here!  They will destroy this world for daring to make such a weapon against them.  The Hoffans are signing their own death warrant and don't care to hear it."

"A serum I helped to make," Carson said sourly.

"You hoped to protect humans from their feeding."

"But instead I've killed this world."

"Yes, well, medical science is not a true science.  It's full of inconsistencies.  The serum is just an example of that; some live, some die.  In real science, if you mix the same amount of two chemicals together the result is always the same, if you push the same object on the same surface with the same amount of force, it always travels the same distance.  The outcome is always the same, not like in medicine.  Still, you are a scientist of sorts, for all that, and you're not the only scientist that's ever made an error of judgement that's led to death and destruction.  At least your error was to not realise how fanatical the Hoffans are.  At least your intentions were honourable, not like..." the man's bitter voice trailed off.  "Well, that doesn't matter.  You're not to blame for their decisions."

"Who are you?" Carson demanded, annoyed by the stranger's attitude.

"Does it matter? You're not about to listen to me, any more than those idiots have ever done.  I'll leave you to your packing.  And to your guilt." The man left abruptly, and Carson watched him go, frowning.  Was that rant supposed to somehow make him feel less guilty?  Because it didn't. 


Teyla was on her way to the medical lab to meet up with Lieutenant Ford and Dr Beckett when she heard Dr Beckett's voice call her into a side room.

"Dr Beckett?" she said in surprise.  "I thought you were in the lab?"

"Aye, but I needed to get something from here first," he answered her, approaching closely before grabbing her unexpectedly and injecting her in one swift move.  As darkness came over her she heard the doctor mutter, "I'm sorry, but this is necessary.  You'll be fine."


"I am sorry that I am late," Teyla said, entering the lab a few minutes after Ford had arrived.

"That's alright, lass," Carson said, lifting the last of the boxes.  "There's not that much to carry really, Ford and I can manage."

"Even so, I am sorry for my tardiness."

"Hey, like the doc says, no problem," Ford said, holding two boxes in his hands.  "You're here now."

"That I am.  Do you need me to carry anything?"

"Nah, we can manage.  Besides, it makes sense for one of us to have their hands free, just in case things turn nasty."

"You think it will?" Carson asked anxiously.

"I hope not, but it always pays to be ready."

"Aye, I guess so.  Well, we'd better get moving.  Major Sheppard will be waiting for us in the exit chamber..."

"Then we should not keep him waiting," Teyla suggested politely.


Chancellor Druhin had delivered the verdict of the vote to them in the exit chamber, where the gate was situated.  Despite further warnings against giving the serum to all of their people, the Chancellor was resolute and unmoving.

Sickened by the events, as much for Beckett as for the people of Hoff, John had told Druhin that they would not be back and not to expect further help from them.

Carson, John and Druhin

Returning to Atlantis was a relief, even though he dreaded the debrief with Elizabeth.  He'd been the one to push this research, more than once, and now... He sighed.

Still, that would have to wait until after the post-mission check-up and, hopefully, also after he'd had chance to grab something to eat.  He was starving.

Teyla seemed rather subdued on their way to the infirmary, but he'd put it down to sorrow at how things had turned out.  It wasn't until he'd had his check-up that he realised she wasn't in the infirmary.  That was unusual, if anyone tried to avoid post-mission check-ups it was Zelenka, one of the scientists who occasionally came offworld with them.  Or himself, if he had other, more important things he needed to do.

When his attempts to contact her via the comm failed, he started to get concerned.  Checking with the medical staff he confirmed that she hadn't arrived for her check-up, and decided to try and find her.  Perhaps recent events had affected her more than he had realised.

An hour later and he was truly worried.  No one had seen her since she'd left the gate room, and she wasn't answering her comm.  Having reported his concerns to Elizabeth via his radio, he headed to the control room in the hopes that they could locate her with the internal sensors.

"Still no answer?" he asked, coming up to Grodin and Elizabeth.

"No, John.  Peter says there's no one outside of the inhabited areas, so we're going to have to ask people to stay where they are and contact us with their locations.  Hopefully we'll be able to find her."

"I hope so, this isn't like her."

"No, it's not..." Elizabeth was interrupted by the gate activating.

"Unscheduled activation," Peter said automatically.  "I'm receiving an IDC... It's Teyla's," he said in surprise.

"But she came back," Elizabeth said, brows furrowed in confusion.  "Did she give her IDC to someone?"

"She wouldn't have done that," John said with certainty.

"Atlantis, this is Teyla.  I have not received a response to my IDC. Is there a problem?"

"She didn't go offworld again?"

"No, John, the gate hasn't been used since your team returned."

"Should we answer her?" Peter asked. 

Elizabeth looked to John, and then nodded.

"Teyla, this is Sheppard.  We need to confirm your identity."


"Well, you came back with us from Hoff so..."

"I am still on Hoff.  Dr Beckett drugged me."

"What?  Why would he do that?"

"I do not know.  Chancellor Druhin was surprised to see me as well, perhaps now I know why.  I do not know who returned with you to Atlantis, but it was not me."

"Okay, well, if you're Teyla then tell me what you said to me on Ne'dir when no one was listening?" John asked.

"That there were times when the Ne'dirans could be extremely tedious," Teyla replied swiftly.  "You agreed, stating they were more tedious than a group of anthropologists enthusing over their latest discoveries."

"Yep, I did," he said with a small sigh.  He had a feeling he would be receiving a lecture from Elizabeth about respecting other people and their interests after this was all over.  Turning to her now, he ignored the raised eyebrow pointed in his direction.  "There's no reason either of us would have mentioned this conversation to anyone else.  It's Teyla."

"Are you certain?" Elizabeth asked.


"As certain as I can be."

"Okay.  Let her through," Elizabeth told Peter, who disengaged the shield and sent the message to Teyla's GDO to say that it was clear to come through.

John went down the steps to meet Teyla as she exited the gate.

"Hi.  Look, we need to be absolutely certain that you are, you know, you."

"I understand, Major.  If I was in your place I would do the same."

"Okay, well, we'll go to the infirmary, get a scan done, take some blood, that sort of thing."

Teyla nodded, removing her tac vest and weapons and allowing herself to be guided to the infirmary by John, along with Stackhouse and Markham, who he'd indicated should accompany them.


Carson approached them worriedly as they entered the infirmary, clearly having been forewarned of their arrival by Elizabeth.  "Teyla, lass, I didn't drug you.  I was in the medical lab until you came in, or at least who we thought was you came in, that is, if you're you," he said, looking confused as he came to a stop and sighing.

"I believe there is more to this than we know," Teyla said simply, sitting on one of the beds as a nurse took a blood sample.

"Aye, that there is.  Let's run the scanner over you, then."

During the scan, they were joined by Ford and Zelenka.

"Sir," Ford said, "Is this Teyla?"

"I reckon so, the scan will hopefully confirm it," Sheppard replied.

"But how could someone fool us into thinking they were Teyla?"

"Perhaps they are not human," Zelenka suggested.  "Or perhaps they have a cloaking device, such as the SGC has encountered, one that projects an image."

"I haven't read that report yet," Sheppard admitted, and Zelenka went into a short summary of the situation regarding aliens, cloaking devices and foothold situations, before being interrupted a few minutes later by Carson.

"Well, having compared this scan with a previous one taken  a few weeks ago, this is Teyla.  The blood tests are a precaution, but I'm sure they'll confirm it too."

"Well, that's good," Sheppard said, relieved that Teyla was back with them. "But that means we have an intruder on Atlantis.  One who it would seem has the ability to look and sound like other people."

"Ach, how are we supposed to we find someone like that?" Carson asked. 

"If it is a device, perhaps I can configure the internal sensors to detect it," Zelenka suggested, pushing his glasses up his nose nervously.

"Who are you?" Teyla asked suddenly, her eyes on one of the nurses in the room.

"That's Marie.  You know her," Carson replied, casting anxious eyes to Sheppard and using a calming tone.

"No.  One moment I saw Marie and then the image faded.  Now, I see a man."

Sheppard pulled his gun, not pointing it directly at Marie as yet, but making sure it was ready in case it was needed.  He noted that Ford, along with Stackhouse and Markham, had followed suit.

"I don't know what you're seeing," Marie said, licking her lips nervously.  "I'm me.  You can see that, can't you?" she asked Carson.

"Aye, I know what you look like, but that doesn't mean anything."  Carson opened his comm.  "Nurse Holden, could you tell me your whereabouts please?"

A moment later, Marie answered her comm, telling him that she was in the mess hall and asking if he needed her in the infirmary.  "Hang on a moment, lass, and I'll let you know."  He turned to Sheppard.  "She's in the mess hall, or at least someone claiming to be her is."

Sheppard's eyes narrowed dangerously, bringing his gun up to cover the nurse-possible-intruder before him.

"Yesterday, Marie and I were talking about the pet she left back on Earth," Carson said, turning his attention to the possible interloper while reopening his comm.  "Long story, but could you remind me the name of your dog, Marie?" 

The eyes of the person in front of him widened in panic, as Marie answered the question over the comm in surprise.  "Yes, his name was Frisbee."

"Thank you, lass, I'll explain everything later." He looked at Sheppard.  "That's not Marie, she's in the mess hall."

"Okay, I think you need to come with us," Sheppard said to the... boy of about ten looking at them with big frightened eyes.

"Don't hurt me," the boy said piteously.

"Do not be fooled, Major, he is not a boy but a man, in his mid to late thirties," Teyla warned.

"You can still see him?"

"No, I see a boy now, but I saw a man earlier and believe that was the true person."

The boy's eyes clouded with anger, before widening in realisation.  "You can sense the Wraith, can't you? You're one of those Gifted ones, with Wraith genes spliced into them."

Teyla looked shocked and then angered by his words.  "I am not Wraith," she stated hotly.

"You think you're not, but my people found a lab where a Wraith was conducting experiments to make humans more 'tasty'," the boy/man grimaced over that word.  "The other Wraith stopped him, but some of his experiments lived.  They were left with the ability to sense Wraith, and my people believe they can also tap into the Wraith telepathic network too, that's why the other Wraith didn't like what he was doing."

"Is it possible?" Sheppard asked Carson.

"I suppose it is, but the DNA must be a small fragment or else I'd have picked up on it by now," Carson replied thoughtfully.

"I... do not wish to believe it," Teyla said, looking grief-stricken at the thought of it.

"It's like the Ancestral gene that a few of my people have, small and seemingly insignificant, but there."

"Look, whoever you are..."

"He looks like the man I saw earlier again," Teyla said suddenly.

"Seems he can only fool you for a short while then," Sheppard said.  "Which is good."

"It's because she has the Gift," the intruder muttered sourly.  "The Wraith see through my... ability, within seconds."

"I'd like to know more about your ability," Carson said eagerly.  "Is it hereditary?  How does it work?  Do you change shape or project an image?"

"Do you have technology or is it natural?" Zelenka added.

"I don't change shape, that's impossible," the boy/man answered scathingly.

"Then it is an image you project?" Zelenka said, fascinated.

"Yes.  And yes, it's natural, no technology, and no I'm not telling you any more than that." The boy/man crossed his arms and glared at them.

"Why did you come here? What do you want?" Sheppard asked suspiciously.

"The Hoffans were about to commit mass suicide and I decided it was time to move on.  Seeing as they guard the gate I had to disguise myself.  They don't just let anyone come and go, unfortunately.  Besides, you live in Atlantis!  The technology here, the knowledge..." The boy/man's eyes shined with avarice.  "I'm a scientist and this place... My people can only dream of living in a city like this."

"And are your people waiting for you to contact them?" Sheppard asked, his voice dangerous.

"What? No! I haven't had anything to do with them for years!"

"You know, we only have your word for that," Sheppard pointed out, "And I'm not sure I'm inclined to believe someone who drugged a friend of mine to gain entry to our home."

"I had no choice!  I couldn't stay on Hoff and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to come here.  It's not like anyone got hurt.  Your friend even managed to get back here, unharmed.  I just, I hadn't realised how few people there would be here, and I certainly didn't realise she had the Gift."

"This isn't the way to make friends," Sheppard pointed out.

"It's the way things have to be for me.  I have to hide amongst the crowd, to survive.  If anyone knew what I could do..." His eyes widened again, this time in fear.  "Oh no, you... What are you going to do to me?" He looked around the room, frantically searching for a way out.  "Torture me until I agree to use this ability for your purposes, whatever they might be?  Study me like some interesting specimen?  Both?"

"We don't torture people.  But we do need to be sure you're telling the truth."

"He'll want to study me," the boy/man pointed to Carson.  "It's what medical scientists do, not that medicine is much of a science, really..."

"You!" Carson said suddenly.  "You were the man who talked to me before Ford turned up!  You disparaged my profession and then told me I wasn't to blame for what the Hoffans are doing."


"I needed to see you so I could use your image to approach her." He pointed at Teyla. "And, well, it's stupid to think you're to blame for the insanity of the Hoffans.  Though you'll be to blame if you turn me into some sort of experiment and hurt me," he finished with a defiant lift of his chin.

"I have no intention of doing anything like that."

"I only have your word for that," he said, flinging Sheppard's words back at them vehemently.

"Look, just settle down," Sheppard said sternly.  "Yes, we'd like to know more about you, your people and your ability, but right now I just want to make sure you're not a danger to the city or the people in it.  So, you're going to come with us to the holding cells for the time being.  I assure you that we will not hurt you or experiment on you."

The boy/man shut up, scowling.

"And one more thing, quit it with the boy image.  Let us see you."

The scowl deepened, but the boy was replaced with a man in his mid to late thirties, with short dark receding hair, piercingly blue eyes and a slightly crooked mouth.  "Happy?" the man asked darkly.

"Ecstatic," Sheppard answered in the same tone, looking to Teyla.  "Is he who you saw?"

"Yes, except that he has a scar down the right side of his face."

"Vanity?" Sheppard asked the man, raising his eyebrows.

"Is that a problem?" the man grumbled defensively.

"Not really.  Come with us, and please don't try anything.  Teyla is coming with us and you know you can't fool her."

Carson watched as Sheppard, Ford, Teyla, along with Stackhouse and Markham, escorted the intruder out of the infirmary.

It occurred to him suddenly that they hadn't thought to ask the man his name.


Chapter 2 – The Not-So-Calm Before The Storm

When the forcefield for the holding cell was activated, their guest's eyes lit up with curiosity, chasing away for a few brief moments the worry and fear that had been there before.  John noted the lack of surprise, suggesting the man wasn't unfamiliar with this level of technology, and filed the information away for future use.

"I wouldn't..." he said, just as the man touched one of the bars of light and pulled back with a loud 'ow', shaking his hand, "...touch them," he finished lamely, receiving a glare from the prisoner.  He merely shrugged and offered a wry, "Sorry."  Perhaps the man wasn't as familiar with this technology after all.

Still glaring, the man looked around the cell, his shoulders slumping in defeat as,  presumably, he noticed the lack of escape routes.

"So," Sheppard said airily, "What's your name? I'm Major John Sheppard, in case you hadn't picked up on that, Head of Military on Atlantis."

"Maredith NcKay," came the subdued answer.

"Well, NcKay, I'd like to know more about your people."  When there was no reply, he tried again.  "You say they found a Wraith lab, and clearly they were able to both read and understand what the Wraith was doing, so at a guess I'd say your people are at least as advanced as the Hoffans."

"They'd be highly insulted if you told them that," NcKay answered with a sneer, which turned to a speculative look as he added wryly, "I'd pay to see that, actually."

"So, more advanced then?  Well, we're interested in making allies of people in this galaxy, and your people certainly sound like they're worth investigating..."

"My people would take Atlantis from you.  They don't share with others and they'd want the city for themselves.  They'd think it was their right to rule here.  You'd be better staying away from them and hoping that none of the few planets they deign to trade for food with tell them about Atlantis, or they will try to infiltrate and take this place from you."

"Infiltrate?  Like you, maybe?"

"No!" NcKay hotly denied.  "I left my people years ago and have had nothing to do with them since!  But I know that if they hear that the city of the Ancestors has been found, they will do anything to take control of it.  Anything."

"Well, then, even more reason to know about them, so we can try and avoid that situation occurring."

"No.  I'm not helping people who lock me up and... and who knows what else you'll do to me!" NcKay said, the panic tight in this voice. "Let me leave, and once I'm safe, I'll give the information to one of your allies."

"We're not going to hurt you," Sheppard reiterated.

"Why not? They did," NcKay stopped suddenly, looking fraught.

"Your people hurt you?"

"I'm not answering any more of your questions.  Not until you let me go," he said, trying to sound defiant but sounding desperate instead as he turned away from them, shoulders heaving as he tried to slow his panicked breathing.

"Okay, okay, calm down.  Just... take it easy."

"Perhaps we should talk to Dr Weir," Teyla suggested calmly.

"Yeah," Sheppard agreed and ordered Sergeants Stackhouse and Markham to keep watch before heading for the control room with Teyla and Ford.


Sitting in the corner of the cell, well, box really, Maredith hunched his shoulders and tried not to shiver.  He was trapped and he was scared and angry and... uncertain.  The things he had heard about these people on Hoff, the way they had tried to stop the Hoffans from committing mass suicide, the way that doctor blamed himself, it had made him think that maybe these people were okay.  And maybe they were, but how could he be sure of that? 

Life had been difficult since he'd left his homeworld; never daring to show his true self to those around him, always hiding behind the images he could project.  On some worlds, with close-knit villages or towns, fading into the background wasn't really possible and he had to move on quickly; passing himself off as a stranger passing through, using an image from another world and trying to avoid using a local's image unless he really felt he had too, because that was just too risky.

Other worlds, like Hoff, with large towns or cities and thousands of people were easier to hide on.  He could take a face from another world, claim he'd moved from one area of the city to another and no one would ever know differently, and so on those worlds he stayed on for months, even years sometimes, before moving on. 

But he always moved on, always looking for somewhere better, somewhere more advanced, somewhere he could use his skills and maybe, just maybe, be respected and liked.  No, not liked, that was stupid and unnecessary, being respected would be enough.

This could have been the place, maybe, but he'd miscalculated.  He'd thought it would be like Hoff, with thousands of people to get lost in, not the hundred or so he had found.  And yes, he knew they would figure out that something odd had happened, but they wouldn't know about him or his ability and in the thousands he could disappear and, hopefully in time, the strange events would be forgotten.

Oh trantan, how he had miscalculated!

And now...  Now they didn't trust him, and he couldn't be sure of their intentions, and even those with the best intentions might hurt him; study him as an interesting specimen at the very least, and if their intentions weren't good, then, well, who knew?  Maybe they would torture him into obedience.  Like Cowen had.

Unconsciously, his hand traced the scar on his face.  He could almost feel the knife again, slowly sliding through his skin.  Pain, hot, so hot, and fear.  He'd been beaten badly and half-choked and then... Cowen had come and the knife...

Breath hitching, he tried to stop remembering, but the memories would not leave him be.

The pain, the fear, the threat from Cowen to cut out his tongue, then one of his eyes...

He'd broken, agreed to Cowen's plans.  Used his ability, his so-called 'gift' to implicate Cowen's enemies, those that stood between him and the throne, with crimes they hadn't committed.

It had almost been a relief when Kolya, one of Cowen's supposedly most loyal men, had exposed the plot to the royal guards, gaining power in doing so, and Cowen had been executed for his crimes.  Almost a relief, except he was also slated for execution, and if not for his father's bribing of the guards to let him escape, he would have been.  It was perhaps the only good thing his father had ever done for his illegitimate son, but he was grateful.

The memories released their grip on him, but the fear remained. 

What would these people do to him?


"Carson, you said you'd finished the DNA test?" Elizabeth asked, as John, Teyla and Ford joined them and Bates in the conference room.

"Aye, I have."

"What have you found?" Teyla asked, uncertainty lacing her voice.

"I'm sorry, love, I know this isn't what you want to hear but he was right; you have a small amount of Wraith DNA.  I'm sorry I didn't pick up on this earlier, but it was very easy to miss.  I couldn't make the kind of comparison necessary to isolate the specific strand before we got hold of some Wraith cells, and even then we needed a full mapping of the genetic code contained within those cells..."

"But I am part Wraith?" Teyla interrupted, obviously upset.


"Aye, but no more than Sheppard or myself are part Ancient."

"And it does allow you to sense the Wraith, which has saved countless lives," John tried to reassure her.

"That does not make it less hard to accept."

"I'm not sure how I'd respond to something like this myself, however, I do know that this does not change who you are," Elizabeth added.

Teyla didn't look entirely convinced.

"According to NcKay, that's his name by the way, people with the Gift might be able to tap into the Wraith neural network, whatever that means," Sheppard said.

"My people have long believed that the Wraith can communicate via thoughts."

"A form of telepathy, aye, I remember you mentioning that once," Carson said, nodding thoughtfully.  "If you could tap into it then maybe you could gather information from it."

"Or they could gather information from her," Bates added darkly.

"I have never tried and do not believe I would ever wish to," Teyla assured them.

"And we're not about to ask you to," Elizabeth said, turning to Sheppard.  "Did you find out anything else from NcKay?"

"Yes, according to what he told us he left his homeworld some years ago.  Apparently his people are more advanced than the Hoffans, possibly quite a bit more at that."

"Could they prove to be allies?"

"If he's to be believed, then no.  He said that if they find out about us they will do anything to wrest the city from us."

"Do you believe him?"

"Well," Sheppard looked to Teyla, who nodded.  "My instincts are that he's telling the truth, but we can't be certain."

"I also believe he is not lying.  Certainly, he seems very afraid that we will torture or experiment on him."

"Like his people did," Ford added.  "Or at least, that's what I got from what he said."

"You mean his own people did that to him?" Carson looked appalled.  "Bloody hell, and it's perfectly possible too.  If they're advanced enough, they could use the information they gained from the Wraith's experiment to try some of their own, but that's..." Carson shook his head, unable to express his disgust.

"We only have his word for this," Bates pointed out suspiciously.  "He could have been sent to infiltrate the city and bring his people here, and even if that isn't the case, if we let him go he could return to them, offer his knowledge of us to help them launch an attack."

"We need to know more about his people, for a start," Elizabeth decided.

"He says he won't tell us anything unless we let him go," Ford informed her.

"And we can't do that, not until we're sure we can trust him." Elizabeth sighed.  "Okay, for now, he stays in the cell.  I want you, Carson, to get a blood sample and see if he has Wraith DNA."

"That won't help to garner his trust," Sheppard warned.

"I know, but we need to know.  If that bit is true, then maybe the rest is as well.  Once you find a suitable room that can be secured, then we can move him out of the holding cell.  I don't want to leave him in there too long unless we have to." 


The conference room doors opened as Grodin rushed in.

"Sorry to interrupt, but Sergeant Miller was returning from the Mainland when he spotted a hurricane heading towards both the Mainland and Atlantis."

"A storm?" Elizabeth asked, clearly not understanding the urgency she could see in Peter's eyes.

"Not just a storm, but a massive one.  He says it covers about twenty percent of the planet's surface."

"And it's headed straight for us?  Can Atlantis survive a storm that big?"

"Not without the shields, no."

"How long before it hits?"

"Ten hours before it hits the Athosian encampment, and then about an hour and a half before it hits Atlantis itself."

"Contact Zelenka, we need to know our options."
"He's already on his way."

"Good.  Carson, can you ready the infirmary in case we need to evacuate?"


"John, we need to organise a place to evacuate to, and Teyla, you need to contact your people and ask them to get ready too.  I hope Zelenka will be able to come up with a solution, but we need to be prepared for the worst."


Over the next two hours, Sheppard managed to negotiate with the Manarians to allow the Atlantis personnel and the Athosians to take temporary refuge on their world, but Zelenka was unable to come up with a solution to save Atlantis.  The storm would cause major structural damage, and there was a strong possibility of a tsunami sinking the city.

Beckett was busy acting as a reluctant pilot to help ferry the Athosians back to Atlantis, leaving his staff to pack up as much of the infirmary as was feasible to take with them, and the evacuation was in full swing within another hour of that.

With only half an hour before the hurricane hit the Mainland, John headed down to the holding cells.  NcKay was sitting hunched up in a corner, looking bored out of his mind and John felt a slight pang of guilt at not finding something to occupy him.  After all, they were trying to gain the man's trust and leaving him to brood was probably not a good way to do that.

At his approach, NcKay stood up, shifting nervously in place though he seemed calmer than earlier.

"What's happening?" NcKay asked.  "I heard your guards talking about having to abandon the city."

John sighed, sending a look to the two sergeants that suggested he'd be talking to them about not letting prisoners know too much.  They at least had the grace to look sheepish.  Deciding that keeping NcKay in the dark wasn't much of an option anyway, he explained about the storm that was heading their way.

"So why is that a problem?  A city like this must be protected by a shield," NcKay said after the brief explanation.

"We can't raise the shields," John admitted.

"Why? Are they damaged?"


"Hmm, well then..." NcKay looked thoughtful and then suddenly clicked his fingers a few times and started talking rapidly.  "Power, that must be the problem.  According to the legends, Atlantis was submerged beneath the ocean, which means the shields must have been active for the last however many thousands of years it's been since the Ancestors abandoned this galaxy to its fate.  And keeping a shield active that long must take enormous energy."

"Ten thousand years is a long time," John managed to interject before NcKay carried on, hands waving and sketching out images in the air.

"Right.  Now we know they used some type of power crystal but the only one of those we ever found had run out of energy, so we know they don't last forever.  But if the power crystals..."

"We call them ZPMs."

"Okay, if the ZPMs are depleted, then what are you using to power the city?"

"Not sure I want to answer that."


"Oh.  Well, I guess it doesn't matter.  The fact is, you don't have enough of them to power the shield, so... Hmm, yes, that is a problem."

"Dr Zelenka is trying to find a solution, I'm still confident he'll come up with something."

"Who's he?"

"Our Chief Scientist."

"Oh, right.  I'm guessing he's considered solar, wind and wave power?  Not that I know if the city is capable of using them anyway, it might not be set up for it, and from the experiments my people have been doing with them, they don't provide much energy..." A frown covered his face, as he paced agitatedly back and forth.  Then his face cleared as he snapped his fingers rapidly again.  "Lightning!  There was a discussion about using lightning.  The Hoffans had been looking into it, but really, lightning storms aren't that common or predictable, so I think they gave up on it.  Is the storm passing over any land before coming here?  If so, that will increase any electrical activity.  There'll be plenty of lightning, so it's just a case of seeing if the city's capable of collecting it."

"I'll... mention it to Zelenka," John said, sounding sceptical that it would be of any use.

"You will?  You're not just saying that to appease the crazy scientist guy?"

"I will, I promise."

"Good.  I mean, it's a long shot and might not be possible, but..." NcKay shrugged.  "It might be something."


"Are you... if it doesn't work out and this Zelinda..."


"Yeah, if he can't save the city, what then?  You're evacuating?"

"Be stupid to do otherwise," John said dryly.

"Yes, of course it would." NcKay nodded, looking anxious.  "You, ah, you wouldn't leave me here, would you?  To die, I mean."

 "Of course not," John said, frowning at the idea. 

"Oh, good, good.  It's just that, well, some might think evacuating prisoners is a waste of effort..."

"Not us," John assured him.  "I actually came here to tell you we're going to be moving you in the next hour."

"Oh, right.  You know, I might be able to help.  I have a good grasp of Ancestor technology..."

"I'm sorry..."

"I just, I don't do sitting around and doing nothing well, you know?"

"I'll get you something to occupy your mind, after you've been evacuated.  Now, I need to find Zelenka.  Tell him about your crazy idea."

"Hey, it might work and then who'll be crazy?"

John merely smirked before leaving.  This NcKay guy was certainly a character, he thought with a shake of his head, feeling somewhat bemused by what he'd just witnessed.

And yet strangely, quite likeable too.


When they came to move him offworld, Sheppard had the decency to tell him that Zalenda, or however it was pronounced, had come up with a plan to save the city using his lightning idea.  He couldn't help but smile smugly at that.  Maybe they'd realise he was a genius and not just some freakish curiosity, and that being nice to him was in their interests.

Of course, they could just decide to torture him into submission, but... he was beginning to consider that possibly, maybe they weren't like that.

Not that he was going to stick around and find out. 

Sure, the city of Atlantis was everything, and more, than he could have dreamed of, and yes, he'd love to have the chance to learn about its systems, delve into its database, but although he was beginning to think these people were not bad and that maybe they wouldn't hurt him or use him in experiments, he couldn't be sure.  So if he got a chance, he'd escape his guards and go to another planet.  Perhaps Sateda?  He'd heard it was in ruins, had been for many years, but there might be something there worth scavenging.  Something he could use in trade wherever he chose to go next.

It was not long after he had been moved to their offworld refugee camp that his opportunity came when his guards were temporarily distracted by a loud argument between two of their people.  He quietly slipped away from them, taking the face of an Athosian and heading for the gate, hoping he would be fast enough to escape before any of the Atlantis people caught up with him and stopped people from leaving this planet until they could ascertain their identity.

At first, he thought luck was on his side, but as he came to the edge of the forest clearing the gate sat in, his heart sank at the sight of Athosians in front of the gate.

Only no, that wasn't right.  He looked closely at the people gathered there and spotted one person who was dialling the gate under duress.  The man who held the Athosian was dressed as one of them but...

Oh trantan, it was Kolya! 

The prisoner took out a device, pressing some buttons on it, and Maredith recognised it as one of the devices that allowed entry to Atlantis. 

His people were about to attack the city, and he couldn't...

Using an image of a man from Hoff, but clothing him in Athosian attire, he used the distraction of Kolya killing the unfortunate prisoner to join the back of the raiding party.  It was reckless, dangerous and stupid; if Kolya counted his troops, he'd realise there was an extra person; if he looked too closely, or one of the others did, they'd see a stranger amongst them.

But he couldn't let them take Atlantis.  He just couldn't.  Not them, not his people, they didn't deserve it.

Steeling himself, he followed them through, hanging at the back of the group and watching in horror as the two Atlantis soldiers were gunned down by Kolya in cold blood.  He took the opportunity to slip away shortly after under the pretence of securing the area. 

He couldn't believe he'd done it, that he'd slipped past Kolya and his Genii cohorts.  But what now? 

Now, he had to find whoever had been left to execute the plan to save the city and warn them.  And, oh trantan, hope that they didn't think he was part of the attack, that he had brought his people here; or even worse, that he got trapped on a sinking city if the plan to save it didn't work.


Chapter 3 – Invasion

Elizabeth had disengaged one of the grounding stations before returning to the control tower and meeting up with Radek, who had also disengaged a station, and being contacted by John  to say that he had dealt with the first of the two stations he was responsible for and was heading to the second one.  She was about to sign off when Sergeant Peters contacted them to say that there were incoming casualties from an attack on Manara.

Immediately concerned, they picked up their pace and were less than a minute from the control room when they came to a sudden halt at the sight of Maredith NcKay approaching them at a fast walk.

"NcKay?  What are you doing here?" she asked in surprise.

"NcKay?" she heard John exclaim over the radio, and she realised that she had left the channel open.

"I..." He stopped, looking nervously at her before bracing himself and continuing.  "I took the first chance I could to get away from your guards and head for the stargate, only when I got there..." There was another brief pause, anxiety rolling off him.  "When I got there I saw an Athosian dialling the gate and using one of your devices that let people into Atlantis.  Only he was doing it under duress from a group of people, dressed to look like Athosians but... but the leader..."

"NcKay, what happened?" she asked, seeing the fear he was trying to hide.

"The leader is a man called Acastus Kolya.  He's... Kolya is Genii and he's ruthless and dangerous and... he killed the Athosian and then he killed your two men even though he didn't need to, but that's what he's like, and... and there's fifteen people with him, all Genii, and I think they're going to try and raid this place for anything they can.  If you get in their way, they'll kill you.  If they find out about the plan to save the city, they'll try to take control.  I... I managed to slip into the group, they were too busy to notice an extra person, and came here to warn you..."

"Who are they?  How do you know them?"

"They're..." he stuttered to a halt.


"They're my people, but I didn't do this, I didn't tell them.  There hasn't been time for me to do that, and I wouldn't have anyway.  You've got to believe me," he said desperately.  "I don't know how they know about all you, but it wasn't me. Maybe one of the people on that planet told them."

"One of the Manarians?" Radek asked.

"Crap," she heard John say angrily.  "It's possible.  I got a bad vibe from their leader." 

NcKay, however, looked stunned. "Manara?"

"Yes, why?" she asked him as he gave a disbelieving laugh.

"Because Manara and Genia have been trading partners for generations, and the Manarians would willingly sell out their own people in exchange for Genii trade if needed.  You can be sure they'd have no problems selling you out."

"Meet me in the armoury," John told her.

"Wait, John?  Have you disengaged the last grounding station yet?"


"He should not do so until we regain the control room," Radek stated.  "Once they are disengaged we are in danger from electricity.  The storm is not here yet, but can we be sure of getting to safety when it comes?"

"And I'm not giving these Genii any reason to stay," John added.

"Okay, we'll meet you in the armoury."

"Keep an eye on NcKay, just in case this is some sort of trick."

"Will do."


Kolya was looking around the Ancestral city's control area.  It was even more impressive than he had imagined and it was a real pity the city would not survive the storm.  It would have made an excellent base for his people and he would have won much acclaim for taking the city.  Enough to be offered command here, of that he was certain.


"Commander, we have internal sensors.  I'm picking up four life signs here," Ladon, an elite scientist he had been forced to include in this raiding party as a favour to the Genii leader, interrupted his thoughts and pointed to four dots on a screen.

"So, there are still people here," he mused.  "Will you be able to guide our people to them?"


"Good," he said, turning to order four soldiers to intercept these so-called 'Lanteans', as the Manarans had referred to them mockingly, with instructions to capture them if possible, or to kill if not.


As soon as they entered the armoury, John passed Radek a P90.

"Have you contacted Ford?" Elizabeth asked. "I know that Teyla, Carson and himself stayed behind to pick up some hunters that were missing..."

"They're on their way.  The eye passed over them and they used the opportunity to go into orbit and come back down ahead of the storm.  They should be landing soon."

"So we wait for them?"

"Not here.  Also, take this, you might need it," John passed her a 9mm.

"I hope I don't need to use it."

"Same here, but just in case..."

Elizabeth grimaced but took the gun anyway.  "I guess those lessons on the firing range weren't a total waste of time."

"Told you they weren't," John flashed her an impish grin, before turning serious.  "NcKay, no offence, but you're not getting a weapon."

"I didn't expect one."

"Good.  Oh, and just so you know, if you're working with them, I will kill you."

"John," Elizabeth said in admonishment.

"You understand me, NcKay?  I want to trust you, am going to have to, but..."

"I understand," NcKay replied, seeing the seriousness in Sheppard's eyes and gulping.  "I won't betray you."

"You'd better not.  Now, we need a plan."

"You should shut off power to the control room," NcKay suggested.  "My... the Genii know a bit about Ancestral technology.  It won't take them long to figure out things like the internal sensors."

"And you know about them how?" John asked suspiciously.

"I overheard someone talking about them before Teyla came back from Hoff."

"He has a point," Radek said.  "If we shut off the naquadah generator it will cut all but primary systems.  The shields, gate and external sensors won't be affected, but the internal sensors will be."

"The external are primary but the internal ones are secondary?" NcKay asked, puzzled.

"If I designed systems they would both be primary.  Ancients obviously thought different," Radek replied with a shrug.

"Okay, we need to make them blind," John agreed.  "And then join up with Ford, Teyla and Beckett  If we can split them into groups it would make it easier to subdue them."

"We need to do it quickly.  The storm is less than an hour out," Radek reminded them.  "It might be prudent to have someone at the grounding station, ready to disengage as soon as we have dealt with the intruders."

"But that means one less person to fight..." NcKay pointed out.

"I'll go," Elizabeth volunteered.

"After we've shut down the generator, and you will take Ford with you," John said.  "Let's move out, when the others arrive they'll contact us and we can meet up with them then."


They were halfway to the generator room when John picked up four dots on his life signs detector heading in their direction.

"We're being followed," he informed the others.

"They must be using internal sensors to follow us," Radek said.  "They will not be able to do so once generator is shut down."

"True, Doc, but we're not going to make it to the generator first at the rate they're catching us.  We need to ambush them."

"How?" Elizabeth asked.

"There's a room not far from here that has a gantry above it.  We climb the gantry, wait for the Genii to come into the room and then I'll take them out."

"That seems a little cold, doesn't it?"

"Yes, but we don't have time to try and negotiate with them, even if there was a chance it would work.  And we don't have time to take prisoners either."

"It still seems wrong," Elizabeth said, looking uncomfortable with is attitude. 

"They killed two of my men, I'm not about to let them kill anyone else."

"They don't negotiate," NcKay said.  "The Genii think they are superior to everyone else.  They rarely let anyone who isn't Genii live amongst them, and then only when it's to their advantage."

Elizabeth sighed, before agreeing reluctantly.  "Okay, it's a military situation, I'll follow your lead on this."



John watched from above as four Genii entered the room cautiously, scanning it for the enemy.

"Are you sure they're here?" one of the soldiers asked via his wrist communicator.

"Yes, and they can probably hear you," was the response from the control room.

He waited until they were in the middle of the room and directly below him, before, against his instincts that said to just shoot them, he called down, "Drop your weapons."

Instead of obeying his command, the Genii aimed their guns upwards and started firing.  Fortunately the bullets hit the gantry, ricocheting away harmlessly, and he wasted no time in gunning the four men down.

"Is everyone okay?" he asked.  "No one hit?"

"I am unharmed," Zelenka answered.

Elizabeth and NcKay nodded when he looked at them, though they seemed a little shocked by events. 

John knew he should have followed his first instincts, but he'd felt that he should give the Genii a chance to surrender, mainly because of Elizabeth's presence, if he was honest with himself.  But there wasn't time for civilian hand holding.  This was a military situation and he was lucky no one had been hit.  From now on, he would follow his gut instincts, regardless.

"Okay, we need to get to the generator quickly before they send anyone else after us." 

"You should take one of their communicators," NcKay said. 

"Fine.  We need to head down there anyway."

As they passed the dead Genii, NcKay showed him how to use one of the wrist communicators, setting it so they could hear any communications but not be heard themselves.

Or at least, he hoped that was the setting NcKay had used.  He could easily have made it the other way round, and if so, they were in trouble.  And NcKay was dead.

But his gut instinct was telling him NcKay was on the level.  He just hoped it was right.


Kolya realised he had underestimated his enemy when he was unable to contact his men after four life signs went out.  Losing four of his men was unacceptable.  He ordered three more of them to go after the Lanteans, but not to engage them except on his command.

"Ladon, once you know which direction the enemy is heading in, inform my men so that they can set up an ambush," he ordered.

"Yes, Commander."

This time his men would have the upper hand and the Lanteans would die.


The rest of the journey to the generator room was uneventful.  Radek turned the generator off as soon as they entered the room and they were plunged into darkness, making them glad that they had taken the time to pick up flashlights on the way here.  Radek then removed the generator's key and placed it into one of his pockets for safekeeping.

Heading out, they were a few levels below the control room when Ford contacted them on the radio to say that he and the others had just landed in the jumper bay.

"About time," John said dryly.

"Sorry, sir, but the hurricane was too strong to fly through, we had to wait for the eye..."

"Yeah, I know.  Beckett, you stay with the jumper and the Athosians hunters.  Close the ramp as soon as Teyla and Ford have left and be ready in case you have to make a quick getaway through the gate.  Hopefully, you won't need to, but be ready just in case things go south."

"Aye, alright."

"Ford, Teyla, meet us outside the mess hall"

"Understood.  We're heading there now," came Ford's reply.

"Better go join them," John said grimly.


As the control room went dark and a few emergency lights came on, Kolya turned to Ladon with a scowl.  "Report," he ordered tersely.

"They've cut power to the control tower.  It looks like Atlantis is being powered by five small generators, each responsible for a separate area of the City.  We still have most primary operations," he reported, walking over to another console.  "We have definitely lost all secondary systems."


"Can we track them?"

"No, we've lost internal sensors.  External sensors are working, as is the gate, but we can't track them."

"Recall my men to the control room."  There was no point in leaving them out there now that they had lost the upper hand.

"Yes, Commander."


As soon as Ford and Teyla had arrived, John had sent Ford with Elizabeth to the grounding station that still needed to be disengaged.  His thoughts then returned to the situation at hand.  They had taken out four Genii soldiers and according to NcKay, there were another twelve to deal with, including Kolya.  He truly hoped that NcKay could be trusted as he didn't have any other Intel to go on.  This could still turn out to be some elaborate trap, as unlikely as that seemed.

He moved everyone back towards the control room, trying to work out how to deal with the Genii left.  When he spotted three more dots on the life signs detector about a hundred yards behind them and moving quickly in their direction, he knew he had a chance to even the odds in their favour.

"You're sure they can't track us?" he asked Radek, pointing to the dots heading their way.

"I am sure.  You heard over communicator that their leader called them back to control room."

"So, they don't know we're here..."

"An ambush?" Teyla suggested.

"Yes," Sheppard replied, looking around and noticing a transporter close by with a storage room next to it.

"Zelenka, NcKay, I want you to stay in here," he said, opening the door to the storage room. "And stay quiet.  Doc, if anyone except us comes through this door, shoot them."

"I hope it does not come to that," Zelenka said nervously as he followed NcKay into the room.

"We'll do our best to make sure it doesn't," John said earnestly before closing the door.  He wanted to keep the civilians out of the fighting as much as possible, especially Zelenka, without whom Atlantis would be sunk.  Literally.
Opening the transporter doors, he indicated that Teyla should enter with him, and checked the life signs detector as the doors closed behind them.

"We'll wait until they pass us and then come out shooting.  I'm counting on the element of surprise here, but if things go wrong, then I want you to get back in here and transport out," John whispered to Teyla, who, although looking unhappy at the idea of transporting out, nodded her assent.
He knew this was risky, but the corridors in Atlantis, especially here in the central section, were long and wide, providing poor cover.
As the dots neared, Sheppard indicated the dot on the right to Teyla.  She nodded her understanding and they took positions near the doors.  Using his fingers, John counted down from three.  On the count of one, he opened the doors and together they opened fire on the unsuspecting Genii.

Two of the enemy fell to the ground before they had time to react, blood covering their backs.  The man who'd been in the middle of the three panicked and started to run, but had only taken a few steps before he, too, lay lifeless on the ground.
John grimaced.  He hated shooting people in the back, but it was far safer than trying a frontal attack.  In another time and place, he may have done things differently, but here and now, he'd done what was necessary to survive.  He'd deal with any feelings of remorse later.  If he survived the day, that was.

He turned and opened the storage room door, coming face to face with a shaking and pale looking Zelenka, who, despite his fear, had his gun aimed unerringly at John's chest.  As soon as he realised who it was, he let his hands fall to his sides, relief showing on his face.
"They are dead?" Radek asked.

"Yeah," John replied.  "But that still leaves nine of them to three of us.  That is, three of us with weapons."

"Maybe..." NcKay started, before stopping, an uncertain look on his face.

"Spit it out, NcKay," John ordered.

"I could project the image of one of the soldiers you just killed, make it look like the communicator was damaged so I couldn't contact them and then go to the control room and... and say that I saw you heading into a room a level down and that if they moved quickly there was a chance they could corner you..."

"And we set up another ambush for those Kolya sends with you?"


"It's risky..."

"I can do this," NcKay said determinedly, though John could see fear in NcKay's eyes.  He considered their options.  Taking out more Genii would give them a better chance of taking back the control room, but could he really trust NcKay?  His gut said yes, but...

He sighed deeply and decided to follow his instincts.  They hadn't steered him wrong yet.

"Okay."  He pointed to a room not far from them.  "Bring them here and we'll get ready to take them out as they enter the room.  Try to stay back, but if not, so long as you don't change images we'll recognise you and try not to hit you."

"I'll stay back, let them go in first."

"Take this." John offered him a spare radio, glad he had thought to bring one in case of problems.  "I've set it to an open channel.  We'll be able to hear you, so we know when you're coming our way."


"If things go wrong, it'll take us a few minutes to reach you..."

"I'll manage," NcKay said, a mix of terror and resoluteness on his face.

"Good luck."


He couldn't believe he'd volunteered for this.  It was stupid and dangerous and not like him, but he needed to prove himself to these people.  All his fears about them seemed to have dissipated, though he wasn't sure why.  Perhaps Elizabeth's reaction to the killing, how she'd clearly would have preferred negotiation, perhaps Sheppard's look after killing those soldiers, especially the first group; a look of determination mixed with regret and pain at what he'd had to do. 

Perhaps it was the way they were trusting him, not entirely, but more than he could have hoped for, more than they should do, that made him believe that they were good people.

Or it could be that when he compared them to his own people, he found them to be better, and that could only be a good thing.

Whatever it was, he wanted to help them, wanted to prove he could be trusted, and really, really wanted to stop his people taking anything from Atlantis back home.

Hmm, perhaps there was a hint of revenge in there too.

He schooled his features as he approached the control room, making sure the image of the soldier was projecting as he wanted it to, and entered.

"Idos, where are your fellow soldiers?" Kolya asked him.

"We were ambushed on our way here, but I managed to get away.  My communicator was damaged so I couldn't inform you of the situation.  I saw three people enter a room not far from here, I think we can catch them if we move quickly, Commander."

"No.  I'm not risking further ambush.  Help Sora with downloading from the database."

"Yes, Commander," he answered dutifully, while trying not to panic that the plan wasn't working.  He needed to try and slip away, but first, he'd better help this Sora person, or at least, appear to be helping her.

Inspiration hit him as he moved over to where the data-collector was plugged into Atlantis.  He would seemingly help to search through the information and to collect what was important, but instead he would ensure that the data was corrupted beyond use.


Damn, damn, damn.

"Let's move out," John said, Teyla and Radek following him closely.  They should have chosen a room closer to the control room, but he hadn't wanted to risk Kolya overhearing any commotion.

But damn it, this wasn't in their plans.

"He will be alright," Teyla said, sensing his concern.  "We will be there soon."

"Yeah, but I don't like our odds..."

"Then we will find a way to improve them.  Perhaps Dr Beckett can help..."

"He's worse with a gun than he is flying a jumper..."

"If NcKay is not in immediate danger then we can wait for Ford," Radek suggested.

"Okay, we just have to hope no one realises he's not this Idos guy before we can even things up a bit."


Chapter 4 – Regaining Atlantis

NcKay had been busy sabotaging the data-collecters while hoping he could find some way to slip out unnoticed or find some excuse to leave, when the woman beside him drew in a sharp breath and pulled her gun on him.

"Who are you?" she asked sternly.

"What? I'm Idos!"

"Sora, what do you see?" Kolya asked, gun also pointing at NcKay.

"One moment it was Idos, and then the next, a stranger," Sora said, eyes narrowing.  "He has a scar down one side of his face, dark hair, blue eyes..."

"Maredith NcKay," Kolya said with surprise, before smiling in a predatory manner.  "Well, now, this is an unexpected but pleasant surprise.  As you can tell, Sora here has the ability to sense Wraith, which is why she has been accepted into the Genii society.  She can also see through all of your projections."

Oh trantan, this was bad, this was really, really bad.  His eyes darted around the room, looking for a way out, or maybe for Sheppard to come to the rescue, but no, they wouldn't have made it back from the outlying room yet, and oh trantan, he was so, so dead.

"Clearly you are working with the so-called Lanteans.  But tell me, why are they so determined to stop us?  Would it not be better to let us take what we want?  After all, they have evacuated to Manara, surely they have taken all that they can with them?"

"I don't know.  Maybe they just don't like sharing."

"Perhaps, but I have been wondering why there are still people here.  Tell me, NcKay, what is their plan to save the city?"

"What?  What plan?  What makes you think they have a plan?" he babbled, wishing he could just shut up, but Kolya was so very close and he'd heard what this man was capable of.

"The plan they must have, or else why would they still be here?"

"To... To make sure everyone got out okay and collect a few last things..."

"You're not much of a liar when under pressure, are you, NcKay?" Kolya said with a sneer, leaning so that he was in NcKay's face.  "What is their plan?"

Kolya and Rodney

"I... There isn't one..."

Kolya moved back.

"Hold him," he ordered two of his men, who grabbed NcKay's arms tightly.  "Sora, seeing as you can see him, why don't you do the honours?" Kolya asked, handing her a knife.  "I think the right arm is a good place to start."

"No, no, please..." he cried as he struggled in vain to escape.

The soldiers pushed him against a console, one of them holding his right arm out as Sora cut his sleeve open.

"What is their plan, NcKay?" Kolya asked again.

"I... No..." he said, and then the knife was cutting into him and he screamed as it sliced into his arm.

"What is the plan?" Kolya repeated, as Sora twisted the knife and he screamed again, sagging to his knees as his legs gave out. 

"No," he whimpered.

"I tire of this.  Sora, take one of his eyes."

No, no, no, not that.  He felt a soldier grab his head, and then the knife was there, so close, oh so close... and he told them, to his eternal shame, he told them everything about the plan, about the one grounding station that was left, the program that needed to be activated, the radio he had and that the others were listening, but he didn't tell them about the jumper that had arrived, so Kolya wouldn't know there were more than four of them here.  At least he'd managed to keep something back, but Sheppard would never trust him, never.  And why should he, when he was so weak, so pathetic, so easy to break?

The soldiers released him and he slumped to the floor, holding his arm and trying to stop the bleeding.  He was vaguely aware of Kolya removing the radio from him, using it to demand that the grounding station be disengaged and for the others to surrender themselves and activate the program to power the shields.  If they didn't, Kolya would leave timed bombs in all of the consoles in the control room when he left, leaving them trapped in a city they'd no longer be able to save.

He'd killed them.  Even if they did as Kolya asked, even if Kolya took them to Genia, they were dead, sooner or later and most likely sooner.  Trying to gather his courage and his wits, he tried to think of a way to end this, without the city falling to the Genii or the others being captured, but his thoughts were scattered and his arm hurt and he was probably bleeding to death, and he was useless and had failed them.

There had to be something he could do, something to make things better.

But nothing came to mind.


The bastard had tortured NcKay and threatened to blind him.  Damn it, he shouldn't have sent him in there.  He couldn't blame NcKay for breaking, not after hearing what he had.  Hell, NcKay had told them he was a scientist, and that made him a civilian.  He shouldn't have let a civilian go into danger alone and unprotected, that was his job.

But recriminations would have to wait, he needed to take back the control room and rescue NcKay at the same time.

A quick discussion between himself, Teyla and Zelenka gave them a plan, not a good plan, not by a long shot as it put yet another civilian at risk, much to his annoyance, but one that might work.  He answered Kolya's demands.

"Kolya.  Damn, but that's a hard name to pronounce," he said flippantly.  "This is Major John Sheppard.  Do I have your word that if we do as you say we will be allowed to leave, unharmed, and that our people on Manara will also be unharmed and allowed to find a new planet?"

"I give you my word."

"Okay, well, Teyla and I are already on our way to the grounding station..."

"I hardly think it needs two of you to do that."

"Well you'd be wrong.  The grounding stations were clearly considered security threats if disengaged by an enemy and therefore require two separate codes to be entered into two separate consoles at the same time."

"Very well.  And your third person?"

"Dr Zelenka, are you listening to this?"

"Yes, Major."

"Go to the control room."


"I will be expecting him, and yourselves, to come unarmed," Kolya added.

"I'm sure we can manage that.  Sheppard out." Cutting off the comm, he changed to another channel, as he and Teyla followed Zelenka to the control room.  "Ford, you there?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good, tell Elizabeth to disengage the grounding station, then she needs to get to the jumper bay and join Carson.  If it all goes wrong, at least the jumper will be able to dial out and escape.  I need you to join Teyla and myself outside the control room, stat."

"Understood, sir."

"And keep to this channel, I don't want to risk Kolya realising there are extra people here."

"John," Elizabeth's voice came over Ford's radio.  "We heard what happened.  I take it you don't expect this Kolya to keep his word then?"

"Do you?" he challenged.

"No.  I hope you have a plan, I don't like the idea of Radek going in on his own."

"Don't worry, we have a plan."

"Good.  The station's disengaged."

"That's good." He signed off, and turned to Teyla and Zelenka.  "Ready?"

"Not really," Zelenka said nervously, "But, what choice is there?"

"Okay, just remember, Teyla and I will be outside ready to attack if need be.  As soon as Ford joins us, we'll come in.  Keep your head down."

"I will be sure too."


Radek entered the control room, allowing the Genii to lead him into the control area.  He could see NcKay huddled on the floor in front of the DHD console.

"May I wrap his injury with pressure bandage so he does not bleed out?" he asked.  "It will be a few minutes before the grounding station is disengaged and the program will only take seconds to activate."

The man who was clearly in charge, and therefore was presumably Kolya, scowled but nodded.  "Fine."

He crouched in front of NcKay.

"Let me see," he said gently, carefully prising NcKay's arm from his grasp and pulling a sterile wipe and pressure bandage from his pocket. 

"I'm sorry," NcKay said.

"It is okay."

"But I told them..."

"Yes, no more than I would in your position," Radek reassured him.  "Now, let me tend to wound.  You are bleeding all over Atlantis," he chided gently.

NcKay moaned and weakly tried to pull his arm away as Radek cleaned the wound as best he could before placing the pressure bandage into place.

"There, that is best I can do for now."

"Don't trust Kolya," NcKay said very quietly.  "He won't keep his word."

"Let us worry about that," he replied equally as quiet, getting up.  "I need to check program is ready," he told Kolya, moving to one of the back consoles, very much aware of the guns pointing at him.  He checked everything was ready, but also made a few alterations on the sly.  Once finished, he nodded.  "Yes, all is ready."

"Good," Kolya said.


As soon as Elizabeth was safely ensconced in the jumper with an increasingly anxious Beckett, Ford joined them outside of the control room.

"Okay, Teyla, Ford, you take the right entrance, I'll take the left.  Wait for my signal before going in."

"Are you sure you would not rather one of us stayed with you?" Teyla asked.

"I'll be fine."

"Very well."

John waited until they were in position before setting his radio Kolya's channel.

"Kolya, we have disengaged the grounding station and are heading back to the control room," he said, as he moved swiftly into position, close enough to hear what was going on in the control room.

"Understood," came Kolya's reply, turning to Zelenka.  "Dr Zelenka, the hurricane is  already hitting the west side of the city, I suggest you activate the program now."

"But Sheppard and Teyla..."


"Will not make it here in time.  They have sacrificed themselves to save this city."

"Commander, there is a massive wave approaching from the west, we need those shields up within the next ten minutes," one of the soldiers exclaimed, checking the external sensors.

"I will activate program," he replied sadly.  "We are getting hits in the western pier.  I am routing power to the corridors... Now!" There was a loud ping and nothing more, Radek looked at the console in alarm.  "Okay, I try again... Now."  Another ping, but no shields.  "This is not good.  The program is not working." Radek looked at Kolya, close to panic.  "I cannot get it to work, not before the wave hits."

"Make it work," Kolya ordered.

"I cannot, not in time that we have.  The conduits cannot handle the raw power, to find another way... I do not know if it is possible!"

"Commander, the wave is getting closer..."

"Dial Genia, it's time to leave." Kolya watched as his soldiers gathered the data-collectors and the few devices they had already boxed up.  As the gate activated, he turned back to Radek.  "You and NcKay are coming with us.  I believe our scientists have some new experiments they would like to try out on NcKay, and you... you will be sent to the surface during the next culling."

Soldiers grabbed both Radek and NcKay and started to hustle them down to the gate, but the sound of gunfire scattered them.  Radek hit the floor as soon as the soldiers who had been holding him ran for the gate, and kept his head down. In the ensuing chaos, all the Genii but one went through the gate. 

Raising his head, Radek could see Kolya dragging a reluctant NcKay towards the gate, using him as a shield.

"Oh no you don't," Sheppard said, raising his P90 and aiming it at the Genii commander.  "Let NcKay go.  You're not going anywhere. "

Kolya merely continued dragging NcKay towards the event horizon.

"I will shoot you."

"And risk hitting him?  Although, I could understand if you considered him unworthy of saving..."

"I'm not aiming at him," Sheppard assured him, shooting Kolya in the shoulder, causing him to let go of NcKay and fall through the gate.

Sheppard ran over to NcKay and helped him up.

"You okay?"

"No," NcKay replied shakily.

"You will be."

Radek had been distracted by the hostage situation briefly, but now he ran to the control console and started typing furiously onto the laptop.

"Doc," Ford said, nervously watching the external sensors, "The wave is about to hit..."

"I am aware of that," Zelenka snapped and then punched in a last command, smiling as the lightning was channelled into the shield generators and the shield activated just in time to save them from the wave.

"That was close," Ford said.

"Yes," Radek agreed, hands shaking.  "Too close."

Once the shields were active and Zelenka confirmed that the city would be able to survive the hurricane, Elizabeth asked John to recall the expedition members and Athosians from Manara, in fear of Genii retribution.  Fortunately, everyone was able to return without incident, though they had to remain inside stargate operations until the storm was over.

A very anxious Carson had tended to NcKay's injury, and as soon as the storm abated, moved him to the infirmary as shock was beginning to set in.

It was close to a day later before Carson would allow Elizabeth and John to visit his patient for a debrief, and even then he remained with them to ensure that NcKay didn't overdo things.  NcKay was still weak from blood loss, the injury having been deep and long.

"How are you feeling?" Elizabeth asked.

NcKay shrugged, looking away before answering.  "I'm sorry.  That I gave away your plan."

"We heard what happened," Elizabeth said, watching him shudder slightly.  "No one blames you for that.  No one."

"Yeah, NcKay.  You did good.  I mean, you didn't tell them that we'd been joined by Ford and Teyla, or tell them about Beckett and the Athosians in the jumper, or even that Elizabeth was already at the grounding station.  You told them just enough to stop them from maiming you and enough for us to still get the better of them."

"I..." NcKay furrowed his brow in confusion.  "You're not angry with me?"

"No, of course not," Elizabeth said reassuringly.

"Oh.  So, what now?  Back to the cell?"

"No," Sheppard said with a smile.  "We don't think there's need for that anymore.  Once Beckett here says you can leave, we'll assign you some quarters.  Zelenka wants to talk to you about how advanced the Genii are, check your own level of knowledge and find you some suitable work.  If you want to stay, that is."

"Yes, I'd like to stay," NcKay said, seeming surprised at their change in attitude. 

"Then that's settled.  We would like to know more about what happened to you, but only if you're up to it," Elizabeth stated.

NcKay looked thoughtful.  "The basics, perhaps?  The Genii, my people, live underground in an old Ancestor built facility, but much of the technology doesn't work.  The gate is underground as well and the Wraith don't seem to know about the facility and have never searched our world.  But then, why should they, when there are people on the surface they can cull?  People who have no contact with the Genii and don't know that there is a city beneath them.  Who the Genii consider to be barbarians, whose only job is to be culled, satisfying the Wraith so that they don't look any further."

"That sounds harsh," Sheppard said.

"I didn't use to think so, not before...  I mean, when you grow up with it, you just accept things are how they seem."

"Before what?" Elizabeth coaxed gently.


"Before they experimented on me," NcKay admittedly uncomfortably.

"Ach, your people are the barbarians if you ask me," Carson interjected in disgust.

"Why did they choose you?" Sheppard asked, curious as to why the Genii would sacrifice one of their own.

"I was of the elite blood, which means I carry the Ancestral gene and can operate Ancestral technology, but I wasn't high up in the blood line and not much liked.  I was a scientist, one of their best, but I had a lot of enemies too.  When one of my experiments went wrong," Maredith paused, a pained look on his face, "A handful of people died and my enemies took the opportunity to get me imprisoned for murder.  I made a mistake, a big one, and people died.  I deserved to be punished for their deaths, but not this!  I didn't deserve this!"

"I'm assuming this has to do with the Wraith experiments they found?  I've confirmed that you have Wraith DNA," Carson asked.

"Yes, they captured a handful of the above-dwellers and used them in experiments.  They couldn't do what I do though, only what the Wraith can with their ghostly projections.  The medical scientists wanted to see what would happen with someone who had the Ancestral gene and as I was a prisoner facing possible execution, I was handed over to them."

"And the experiment worked," Sheppard said.

"Yes, too well though.  They became afraid of me, of what I could do, what I might do.  I was supposed to be terminated, but Cowen rescued me." He gave a bitter laugh at that.  "Of course, he had me tortured." NcKay waved a hand over the scar.  "Made me impersonate his enemies and incriminate them in crimes they hadn't committed.  Kolya exposed the plot to our leader, Lady Dahlia of Radim, and was rewarded with a promotion.  Cowen was executed and I was awaiting execution when my father finally decided he couldn't bear to see his illegitimate son killed, so he bribed the guards to let me go.  I left Genia and hoped never to see any of my people again."

"Well, you're safe for now.  I can assure you that no one here is going to hurt you," Elizabeth reassured him.

"Are you sure you want to trust me?  I could cause trouble..."

"But you're not going to, are you?" Sheppard said sternly, with a lift of his eyebrow.

"No, I won't.  I won't use this ability against you or your people, not even for pranks.  I give you my word."

"Well, now that that's settled, my patient needs his rest."

Nodding and wishing him well, Elizabeth and Sheppard left.


Chapter 5 – Team Sheppard

Five weeks had passed since the storm and NcKay was beginning to find his place in Atlantis.  Zelenka had told Elizabeth and John that he was impressed with the ex-Genii's knowledge and understanding of technology, and although NcKay could be overbearing, arrogant and downright rude at times, it was clear that he had a genius level IQ and a staggering ability to absorb new information.

John found himself drawn to NcKay, often ending up bantering with the man, whose self-confidence had soon gained strength after a few tentative days.  NcKay had proved himself to be quick-witted and quite capable of both giving and receiving insults without any lasting rancour.  In fact, he thought with a smirk, it was fun to get NcKay riled up and just sit back and watch the fireworks exploding.

He walked over the bridge to Elizabeth's office with a bounce in his step.

"Not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked.

"Nothing that can't wait," Elizabeth answered with a smile as he took a seat.

"I've been thinking about the team situation.  I know you want me to assign a permanent scientist."

"I think it would be best.  I know that Simpson, Peterson, Kusanagi and Zelenka took turns to go offworld with you, until Zelenka asked to be excused from it a few days ago, but I think the team would work better with just one permanent scientist."

"Yeah, well, Kusanagi has also asked to be removed from the team rota too.  To be honest, they're all good scientists, but the only one I'd consider as a permanent team member would be Zelenka, and he's not interested in the position."

"But you need a scientist," Elizabeth said, looking concerned.

"Yes, I know.  Look, I'd like to take NcKay with us on our next mission.  It's a standard meet and greet with some of Teyla's trading contacts, so hopefully it'll prove to be an easy mission..."

"NcKay?" Elizabeth asked in surprise.  "Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"I hope so.  Look, the guy's good, Zelenka even says so, and his special ability could come in useful in sticky situations.  Besides, I think it'd do him good to get away from here now and then, might even help him to socialise more." He leaned forward.  "I can't put my finger on it, but my instincts tell me he'd be a good person to have at my back out there.  Teyla thinks it's a good idea too, by the way."

Elizabeth sighed.  "Okay, if NcKay is willing to join the team then we'll see how things go."

"Thanks," John said, getting up from his chair.  "I'll go find him."


John heard what was becoming the ever familiar sound of NcKay and Zelenka bickering over science as soon as the lab door opened, and he leant against the doorframe to enjoy the show.

"No, no, no, no, you've got that bit wrong," NcKay all but shouted, grabbing a pen from Zelenka's hand and altering the equation on the whiteboard.  Zelenka muttered darkly in Czech, and although John had never learned Czech, he got the gist of the meaning and was certain that NcKay did as well.  Of course, NcKay wasn't the slightest bit fazed by the swearing, and continued.  "See, this bit here, wrong, wrong, wrong."

"You are..." Zelenka paused, looking for a suitable term. "You are pain in neck."

"Yes, yes, all that, but also right, see." NcKay gestured to the board.

"Hmm, yes, maybe you have point.  But maybe that," Zelenka pointed to another part of the equation, "Makes your alteration, as you say, wrong, wrong, wrong."

NcKay looked at where Zelenka was pointing and scowled.  "Only if you're an idiot!  Look, see..." There was further scribbling on the board, and Zelenka's scowl transformed into a look of annoyance and awe.

"Yes, I see that." Zelenka shook his head.  "You are still pain in neck though."

"Hey, NcKay," John interrupted the bickering with a smirk on his face.  "Be nice to Zelenka, he's your boss after all.  Don't want to end up checking the sewage system, do you?"

"Ah, that is good idea, Major, thank you," Zelenka said, a wicked look in his eyes.

"Oh fine, waste my genius on something that trivial..."

"You would not think sewage system is trivial if it were to fail.  Perhaps your genius is just what we need to ensure it does not..."

"You wouldn't," NcKay said, crossing his arms with a confident smile on his face, one that fell when he saw the look on Zelenka's face.  He turned to Sheppard with a scowl.  "This is your fault.  Stop giving him ideas."

"I'm sure Zelenka doesn't need me to give him ideas." John pushed himself off the doorframe and walked into the room.  "Anyway, I came here to ask you a question."

"What?" NcKay said grumpily. "Can't you see I'm busy?"

"Yeah, but I was wondering if you wanted to join my offworld team tomorrow.  Just a meet and greet, probably not very interesting, but hey, might be nice to get away from Atlantis for a bit, and if it goes well... I could use a scientist on my team."

"What?" NcKay looked stunned.  "You want me to join your team?"

"Maybe, like I said, come with us tomorrow and we'll see how things go."

"But I have so much to do here..."

"Like check sewage systems?" John asked lightly, throwing a conspiratorial grin at Zelenka.

"Yes, perhaps tomorrow would be a good time to reassign you..."

NcKay scowled again, but then shrugged.  "Fine, if you want me that badly then I'll give it a go."

"Good.  Mission briefing in the conference room today at two, be there."

"I will."

John turned and left the room, grinning as he heard NcKay complain to Zelenka about ganging up on him with idle threats.

Oh yeah, this was going to be fun.


Elizabeth stood waiting for John and his team to return through the gate, and was pleased to see them return, not only unharmed, but in good spirits.

"I take it everything went well with the Nardim, then?"

"Yes,"    John answered her with a smile.  "The Nardim are happy to trade some of their crops in exchange for basic medical training."

"That's good to hear."

"NcKay, where are you heading?" John suddenly said, as Maredith started walking off.

"To get rid of my gear and then go to the lab..."

"The infirmary first.  Need to do a post-mission check."

"But we had a pre-mission check..."

"And now we have a post-mission one."

"But..." Maredith looked at him in dismay, which soon then turned to annoyance.  "Do you always do pre- and post-mission check-ups?"

"Yep, standard protocol."

"Well, standard protocol sucks!"

Elizabeth shook her head at the colloquialism Maredith had already picked up and smiling at the outraged response.

"Yeah, well, you'll just have to get used to it, if you want to be on my team," John said lazily.

"Oh," Maredith said, realisation dawning on his face.  "Well, I suppose I could get used to it... eventually."

John smiled brightly.  In fact, as they left the gateroom, Elizabeth noticed the whole team seemed pleased with Maredith's answer, not least Maredith himself.

It seemed the team had finally found themselves a permanent scientist, at last.

Team Sheppard

The End

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