Title: On the Wings of Unexpected Change
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: Thumbs are important.
Warnings: Mental warping
Betas: Keira Marcos, Jilly James and Chris King
Art By: Fanarts
John Sheppard walked into his new quarters and looked around, blinking slowly at the contents.
The room seemed to be decorated in what he was coming to know was the typical architecture of the Ancients. Which, he realized with a tired sigh, made sense since he was on Atlantis? His duffle, backpack and crate were all piled by the door with one of the mattresses that had been vacuum packed at the SGC. Looking around, he saw that there was something that might be a bed frame in the center of the room, but it was hidden under one of the ubiquitous drop clothes that littered the city.
John leaned back against the door and slid down it to rest on his ass. He was exhausted. The last two days had been nothing like he had expected, or been told about, and all he wanted to do was sleep. Finding new planets? Sure. Making new enemies? Okay, he could see that. Fire the bullet that was a mercy killing due to the new enemies? Oh, fuck a duck, but yeah. Being the one to have to kill his CO? O’Neill had never mentioned that shit being possible. Thumping his head against the door, he sighed. He needed to sleep, but he had things he had to do before he could pass out.
Rolling onto his knees, he heaved himself to his feet and shoved his gear against the wall to make room on the floor for his mattress. He wasn’t going to bother with the possible bed platform right then. Who knew what was hiding under that cloth? Finding out right then wasn’t high on his list. Pulling his knife, he cut the ties sealing the mattress and kicked it into place.
His uniform was easy to strip off, and he wrinkled his nose at the smell coming off it. Musty and faintly smelling of rotting insects, it was going to be washed as soon as he found the washing machines. His boots got kicked to the side and away from anything else because there was stuff on them that he was sure was going to do bad things to the leather if he left it too much longer. It was something for him to get to in the morning when he wasn’t blind with exhaustion. His weapons, though, were placed by the mattress when he got down to his skivvies and settled in.
The feel of Atlantis flowed over his mind and he gently pushed back, asking for the temperature to be raised a bit in his room. There was a brief hesitation and then the room started to feel a bit warmer, more comfortable. John murmured a brief thanks at the city and the feeling of happiness he got back was a surprise, but he was hazily certain that he would be thanking the city a lot.
Sleep finally reached out and grabbed him and he settled into its embrace without a fuss.
Hours later, he scrunched his eyes further shut, trying to block the light. Wherever the light was coming from, John really, really wanted it to go away. He was still tired! The light faded and he stretched out, enjoying the feel of his muscles pulling against themselves. Curling up, he settled in to sleep a bit more. If he were needed, they could come wake him up.
He was warm, comfortable and his tail was over his eyes to block the light.
John jerked himself awake and stood up, staring at his paws. He had paws! Glancing back across his side, he saw that he had fur and a tail. He looked down his snout and saw what had to be a dog’s nose. Swearing, and ignoring how the words came out as a series of growls, he took a step forward and tripped. He was still wearing his underwear and t-shirt.
Wriggling slightly, he managed to grab the cloth of each garment and get it off. Huffing in frustration, John headed towards what had to be the bathroom and tried to ignore how natural it felt to be walking on four legs instead of two. Heaving himself up on the counter, he checked to see if the Ancients had believed in mirrors in their washrooms. From the blank wall in front of him, they hadn’t.
Growling, he dropped to his feet and headed out. Someone in the ranks of scientists had to have some idea of what had happened to him! Walking past the panels of glass that made up his windows, he noticed them start to shimmer and then a ripple move across the surface. Staring at the ripple move, he watched the clear glass change to a mirrored surface. Looking at the room, he picked out what had to be himself.
He was huge. And what looked like a wolf of some type. He really needed to know what in the hell had happened! Maybe McKay would know? He was always going on about what an expert he was with Ancient tech, and this happened while they were all aboard the biggest pile of Ancient tech anywhere. And if nothing else, the scientist might have a better clue than he did.
“What! Can’t you see that I’m busy?” McKay muttered as he tied another computer into the database on Atlantis. He had four of the super laptops that he had constructed for his personal use hooked into the system, and each of them was running different search programs. He was going to figure out how the damn thing was organized if it was the last thing he did on the city.
He was trying to put together a search program that would translate English to Ancient when his radio beeped in his ear. He nudged the activation stud between one word and the next. “McKay. What?”
The dulcet tones of his boss filled his ear. It was hypocritical he knew, but he had to wonder if Weir had learned that volume didn’t equal urgency. Or a sense of command. “Rodney! There is a huge wolf walking around the base!”
“What? A wolf? We didn’t bring any animals! And have you told any of the goon squad that it’s around?” he asked Weir as he moved to a fifth laptop and pulled up the internal sensors to see if they could scan for whatever it was that she had seen.
“Yes, I have. And they are saying that they haven’t seen it. I saw it walking by when I left my quarters,” Elizabeth reported.
“Right. I’ll talk to you later,” Rodney informed her, voice sharp and short. “Major Sheppard?” Nothing. The sensor array he hacked into showed a whole bunch of lights around the main tower. The Ancient script flowing down the page identified most of the dots as Earth born humans with only five in different colors. Tapping the one heading towards the lab, it showed as a male Lantean/human crossbreed with the percentage of Lantean genetics in the high… squinting, Rodney ran the mental math to convert the base-8 system the Ancients had used to current human standard. Whoever they were, they read as 96% Ancient.
Giving in to his curiosity, Rodney quickly tapped the other four dots to get the information files on them. One read as female crossbreed with a genetic percentage of 88%. The second was male and was in one of the personal rooms and read at 90%. The third and fourth were both male, in the 60+% range, and from the position of one in the control room, he thought it was the Mountie. That meant that the fourth was in one of the personal rooms, and, from the bio rhythms, was sleeping.
Order of elimination said that the highest one was Sheppard, the other two high level ones had to be Kusanagi and Beckett. The two lower percentage ones had to be the Mountie and the other military member. Tracing the route of the highest ATA carrier, he saw that the Major was heading towards Rodney’s new lab. Tapping his earbud, he tried to get ahold of the new military commander. “Major Sheppard, this is Dr. McKay, please respond.”
Nothing. Another tap of his radio got him on the main channel for the military members of the Expedition and Rodney listened closely. Despite Weir’s call to him, there was nothing about any large wolf-like thing running around, and no one was reporting that the Major was heading towards the labs. He glanced down at the sensors and took a deep breath. Sheppard was almost at Rodney’s lab, and he needed to talk to him.
Stepping out his door, Rodney looked in the direction that the sensors reported the Major was coming from. Listening hard, the scientist didn’t hear the sounds of footfalls on the floor, he heard something else. If he wasn’t on Atlantis, he would think that the noises he was hearing were claws… but the city had been underwater for ten thousand years, basically unpowered, and there was no way that there was anything living besides themselves. They certainly hadn’t brought anything with claws.
The wolf coming around the corner totally fucked up that theory, and Rodney ducked back into his lab. Waving a hand at the door sensor, he tried to lock it manually before he moved back to the laptop showing the readout from the internal sensors. Right outside his lab was the life sign for the male carrying the 96% genetics.
Staring up at the ceiling, Rodney tried to wrap his fully rational and scientific mind around the impossibility that was outside his door. When the door opened, and the wolf walked in, the scientist tried not to whimper. Wolves were wild animals and nope!
Backing up slowly, Rodney looked around the lab for anything to ward the animal off. Unless he was willing to sacrifice a laptop, he had nothing. Making a mental note to change that if he lived through the next few minutes, he watched the furry thing move around the lab. The wolf padded into the center of the room and sat down, hazel eyes staring at him steadily. He was big. Really, really big, the scientist realized. He was easily staring over the top of the tables Rodney had already set up, and they were waist height on him. While he had never been around a wolf before, he had been around a lot of dogs, and this canine was just too big.
Taking a leap of faith, he stared into the hazel eyes and stopped retreating. “Sheppard?”
The wolf before him nodded his assent and looked at him with the familiar impatience that the military man had often shown him when he had played light switch. Rodney swallowed heavily. “Oh, my god.”
Finally! John was totally going to have words with everyone about today and how fucking slow they all were.
In the form he was wearing, he was in no way subtle and yet he had wandered around the base for an hour before had found Dr. Weir coming out of her room. Through some cautious listening around corners, he had managed to avoid the patrols Sumner had set, but he shouldn’t have been able to. His claws clicked on the floor, and that noise sounded nothing like boots, plus it echoed. How the guys missed the whole thing, he really, really didn’t know. He hadn’t even made an effort to try to be quiet. Jesus.
He was so going to have words with both Ford and Bates over this farce. If he could figure out how to change back to being human that was. Because his voice still sounded like a series of growls and short barks, and the more frustrated he was, the worse it sounded. And he was frustrated as all hell, so he sounded very fierce and horrible. However, he couldn’t chew someone out for their crappy situational awareness while barking. And despite being some kind of a wolf, he had no wish to chew on anyone.
McKay, on the other hand, seemed to have a clue. He had grabbed some of the Earth-made scanning equipment and was muttering to himself as he scanned everything he could. Tilting his head to the side, John tried to figure out what the scientist was saying. Most of his noise seemed to be curse words, but occasionally there were demands being transmitted to Zelenka with exhortations to find Kusanagi and Beckett.
When the door behind him chimed, John watched it, waiting for the person or persons on the other side to enter. When they didn’t, he looked at McKay. Pricking his ears forward, he tried to convey his question.
“I locked the door when you came around the corner,” the scientist admitted. “Your gene will override almost everything, so the city let you in.”
Oh. Well then. Concentrating on the connection he had with the City, he flexed it enough to open the door by about three inches. He wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get shot before he let anyone else in.
“Uhm, Dr. McKay? Is everything okay?”
John looked at the person peeking in the door and shrugged. He didn’t know them. Well, beyond knowing they were an Expedition member and one of McKay’s minions.
“Oh. Why are you out there?” McKay stared at the door and then shrugged. “Never mind. Go find Zelenka and have Weir figure out what is going on with Beckett and Kusanagi.”
“Yes, sir. Should I get anyone else?” the minion asked.
“No,” McKay had turned his attention back to his scanners, and John took that as permission to close the door in the flunky’s face.
John watched as the scientist took reading after reading, moving from Earth-based tech to something on one of the Ancient consoles. Curious, he got up and looked at the readings. Surprisingly, given what he knew of the visual range of canines, he was able to see all the results, and he was happy to confirm that his family was deeply fucked up. He was ninety-six percent Ancient? If they ever made it home, he was going to scour his family tree to find out what in the hell had happened to cause someone born on Earth to have those numbers.
“I have no idea why you turned into a great big furry wolf-like thing, Sheppard. There’s nothing in all the data given to us by the SGC saying that Ancient tech can turn people into furry animals,” McKay explained as he moved on to a new search. “I’ve got four new searches running in the Atlantis’ database with different keywords, trying to figure things out. I had to stop the search for ZedPM’s to do so. Hopefully, those will come up with something we can use. I can’t do it now, but I’ll be getting someone to go through the files we brought from the SGC to see if they are hiding some clue. But that’s going to have to wait until we get the mainframes set up.”
John grumbled slightly and the noise that came out of his mouth sounded suitably frustrated.
”I can understand being less than thrilled that there are no easy answers. I sure am. I thought I would be doing hard science by now. Maybe looking at how ZedPM’s are put together. Not looking at something out of legend,” McKay bitched as he grabbed a Power Bar and started eating it. “Werewolves.”
John felt his stomach growl and tried not to whine. Fuck. He was hungry. Sitting back on his haunches, he hoped that someone figured this out soon. Closing his eyes, he relaxed and dropped down to lie on the floor and tried to ignore his stomach. He was going to try to nap. Before he dozed off, John remembered to unlock the door to the lab.
Rodney finished the last of his Power Bar and stuffed the wrapper into a bag filled with many others. As soon as the mess got their act together, he was going to eat there. He would never tell Carson, but even he got sick of the concentrated little energy bars. Sighing deeply, he settled into his chair to go over the data he had.
When Sheppard settled down to nap, Rodney was happy to let him. The Major was an imposing figure as a human, but even more so as a wolf. His thoughts were interrupted by a light whine and he looked under the table at the room’s other occupant. Sheppard had his head on his paws, eyes closed and whining slightly.
Checking the time, the scientist tried not to smack his own face in realization. It had been hours since Sheppard had shown up and the other man hadn’t eaten. “Dr. Weir, can I get something with a lot of meat in it brought up to my lab?”
“Rodney? What is going on? Have you figured out what the large canine was doing in the halls?” Weir demanded.
McKay tried not to sigh in frustration. He had forgotten to let everyone know what was going on and now that was biting him on the ass. “The wolf is Major Sheppard. Something happened while he was sleeping, from what I’ve been able to determine. Now, the Major barely ate anything last night at dinner, he needs to get something down him soon.”
The comm was quiet and then the carrier wave that denoted the open line closed out. Swearing softly in frustration, the scientist unwrapped a plain bar and put it on the Major’s paws. He wasn’t going to go out and get food right then, so that would have to do. He would get a minion to retrieve something if Weir didn’t oblige. McKay ignored the sound of large jaws working the Power Bar as he started poking at his computers.
The chime of the door rang and the door opened without hesitation. Looking down at the furry major, the scientist grunted out an abbreviated thanks. The chuff of air he got in return seemed normal.
“So Major is now furry?” Zelenka asked as he walked around the table. Following behind him was the minion who had stopped by earlier. Baxter, Brent, B-something. Rodney waved a hand at the tray the man was carrying, and he slid it onto the counter.
“Yes. Is there any news on Kusanagi or Beckett?” he asked before putting one of the bowls of stew down in front of Sheppard.
“Yes.” Zelenka was obviously feeling evil because he waited until he saw Rodney take a drink of his coffee. “Miko is big ass kitty of some type, and Beckett looks much like Major.”
The spit-take missed the food, but Rodney was coughing too hard to notice.
“You are taking this awful calmly,” McKay commented as he mopped up the spilled coffee. Part of him mourned the lost caffeine, but he was glad it had missed the food and computers.
“Did not see fit I had in my lab. Ancients are even more bizarre than assumed from previous evidence,” the Czech informed him.
“You can say that again. I’m glad I missed that,” McKay allowed. “So all three of our super strong natural ATA carriers have changed into creatures out of legend and don’t seem to be able to change back. Do we have anything on the other two, with the lower percentage of Ancient heritage? Also this means that we are fucked if we need someone with thumbs to do something technical or quick that can’t be gotten across by charades. Joy. Anyway, I passed everything down to Beckett’s trained monkeys, so maybe they can come up with a medical reason for this.”
“Maybe they will have some luck. Have you asked Major if he can change back?” Zelenka asked brightly before he took a sip of his coffee.
“No,” the astrophysicist admitted. He wasn’t actually looking forward to interrupting the Major’s nap either. Big canine equaled big claws and really big teeth, too. He looked under the table at the furry mass of Major and prodded him with one careful toe. He was totally ignoring the empty bowl that had held the stew. “Sheppard, have you tried to change back?”
The look he got when the large canine opened his eyes was full of frustrated anger. There was also a growl that leaked out the edges of the wolf’s mouth and Rodney took the clue to heart. “Yeah, he’s tried and he isn’t thrilled that he’s still wearing fur.”
“Obviously with that growl,” Zelenka agreed, looking under the table as well. “But his ATA does work, even while he is furry?”
“He overrode me locking the door to keep him out when I wasn’t certain what he was,” Rodney said. “Plus when Baxter came over, he got the door to open only a couple of inches so he could see I was still alive.”
Zelenka looked out the door where the minion had disappeared after delivering the stew. “His name is Banner, but yes. It sounds as if the Major is in full control.”
“Yeah, seems pretty conclusive since I don’t have an active expression of the genome. Has anyone asked if Beckett or Kusanagi are cognizant of what’s going on?” he asked.
“Heightmeyer? The psychologist Dr. Weir brought along has gone to talk to them,” Zelenka confirmed.
Rodney snorted softly. Heightmeyer was just about useless in his books, since she was all about the squishy pseudoscience stuff. But he supposed if they had to have a shrink on this insane Expedition, she could stand in. Besides, at least Weir hadn’t offered up one of his hard scientists for potential sacrifice to a set of confused and possibly pissed off people.
“Your prejudices are showing.” Zelenka laughed softly.
McKay pulled a face at the Czech, but joined in the laughter. Like every other genius who had signed onto the SGC and then the Atlantis Expedition, he had talked to a lot of different shrinks over the years. Most of them had wondered why someone with his brainpower would be willing to go on what was likely a one-way trip. None of them been happy when he had told them how utterly stupid they were in great detail and small words. The whole reason boiled down to one word: science.
Every single one of his people had gone through the same thing. Every twitch, every habit, every tic that made up the jackasses under his leadership was put under a fine microscope and examined for every flaw. Rodney was quite certain that most of his staff had hidden some of their more extreme mannerisms just to get by. None of the scientists he knew had made it through graduate school without something interesting shaking loose in their brains.
“The Major checked out just fine on my tests and the sub cue that the SGC implanted in him comes up on the internal sensors,” Rodney informed his friend and 2IC.
“Good. So you have run many tests and yet haven’t asked the Major to initialize equipment. I will not ask why. Have you checked the phase of the moons like legends say?” the other scientist asked.
“The moons are in different phases with the closest being in the ‘new’ phase,” McKay muttered. Snapping his fingers, he pointed at Sheppard. “What about the Mountie? Carl, Clark, C something? If the other three ATA positive people have changed, has he?”
“Chuck was at his post in the gate room all night and so didn’t sleep. He is still human. He is currently drinking massive amounts of coffee to stay up in case that’s the reason for the shift,” Dr. Weir informed them as she walked in. “Stackhouse, the other ATA positive member, is sleeping. Thanks to you finding the sensors, we have some percentages of their ancestry, both of them are in the high sixties, so we shall see what happens.”
“Two different controls?” McKay asked as he carefully nudged Sheppard.
“Yes. Because we have to know what the cue was that turned three of our people into animals,” Elizabeth confirmed him bluntly.
John was keeping a careful ear on the two scientists as they talked things out. He was happy to know that someone else beyond McKay was trying to figure out what in the hell had happened to him. Maybe the medical staff would have a stroke of luck. The fact that the other two ATA positive people he knew who were close to his level of ability were also wearing fur wasn’t making him happy.
Kusanagi being a cat of some type was just weird and if he ever got back into his skin, he was going to ask if it was because she was female. Because Beckett being another wolf thing and male? Maybe…
The two scientists settled in to talk about the whole mess and he tried not to be annoyed at being ignored. When McKay asked him a really stupid question, he growled. Yes, he had tried to change back. No, he had no idea why he wasn’t able to. Yes, his ATA gene worked. It worked very well. See the door as an example!
Grumbling to himself, John looked at the sensors carefully. Since he couldn’t manipulate the Ancient tech with his hands, he reached out to bridge the distance mentally. He could feel the responsiveness of the programs, and gently pulled back before he did anything. McKay was using those computers to find out what had happened to him and he wasn’t going to fuck that up.
Now, if they didn’t get any results soon, John decided that he was going to take over one of the computers to communicate. As much as he could play the functional mute for everyone, he enjoyed the ability to talk when he wanted to. Sighing, he put his head back down on his paws and kept his attention on the two humans.
Nudging the bowl, Sheppard sighed. The food had been good, but he wanted more. He also wanted to check with someone on what he could actually eat. Wolves and dogs had certain things that weren’t all that great for them. Things that could actively make him ill if eaten to excess. Most of which he actually liked as a human.
Onion rings for the win.
Weir showing up and letting them know that she was experimenting on his men? Oh, he was not a happy Major. Standing up, John walked around the table to stand in front of her. “What in the hell are you doing with my men?”
The sounds were all growls, but he felt better for actually saying something.
“Major? Why don’t you settle in? You can wait to see if we can figure out what is going on.” the Expedition leader asked. To his ear, she sounded condescending and dismissive as she made her suggestion.
Yeah, no. He wasn’t going to get pushed around in his own command. Grabbing control of the computer system that had completed its search, he saved the data and flipped on the sound. Mentally typing in the question he pushed the Ancient tech to say the words he had given it.
“What in the hell are you doing with my men?”
Rodney felt his head snap up so fast his neck popped. Ignoring the rush of relief from the release of pressure, he stared at Sheppard. Once this whole mess was over, he was going to inspect every inch of the room to find the interface he had used. At any rate he really hadn’t expected the man to be able to manipulate the Ancient equipment in his lab like that. And he hadn’t seen any speakers in the room either.
To quote a childhood idol, fascinating.
Even if the words that Sheppard was ‘speaking’ were in Ancient, Rodney could understand him well enough. After two years of working on the culture’s systems, he was extremely fluent in the technical language, and passable in what would have been conversational Ancient. McKay knew that Radek was just as fluent, and given her position, he expected the same of Weir. If for no other reason than as a diplomat, having the basis of your opponent’s language down was a smart thing to do.
Rodney spared a quick glance at the Expedition leader. She seemed just as shocked as he was that the Major was ‘talking’. McKay just wasn’t sure if she was happy he was communicating or pissed that he was calling her on using his men as experimental subjects.
“Dr. Weir, what have you done with my men?”
Weir’s lips thinned and Rodney suppressed a sigh. He played the oblivious scientist often enough that no one thought to ask him to be anything but blunt, but he had enough social training, haphazard though it was, to understand what he was seeing. The good doctor was not happy to have her authority questioned. Especially not by the guy she had brought on the trip as a glorified, living breathing light switch that could maybe answer questions.
From what the CSO had gathered at some of the meetings between the high level department heads, Weir had never bothered to look into the background of the Major. Her interest in him had been firmly set after she had discovered that his ability to control Ancient technology had outstripped O’Neill, Beckett and Kusanagi, and his qualifications hadn’t mattered. Rodney hadn’t been so cavalier and had taken the time to read over the files that came with Sheppard. This scene was totally unsurprising in light of those documents.
Not that he was thrilled when his minions went and got stroppy with him, but he ran a lab. Putting forth opinions and theories was normal, accepted and expected. Arguing and pushing back in the military really wasn’t condoned. Unless you were the leader of the military wing and someone was using your assets in a ‘what does this do’ way. Sheppard only had so many men. Unless the SGC came through, they were all he was going to get, too. The Major was more than smart enough not to want any of them broken.
“Chuck and Sergeant Stackhouse have been thoroughly informed as to the risks they are undertaking,” she explained evenly. “As you likely know Major, we have every mind that can be helpful working to find a way to get you back to being a human being. We are also working on ways to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
McKay winced at that. If they did manage to get Sheppard and any of the other ATA carriers back to human, he was willing to bet that every single one of them would start practicing ways to switch back and forth. For the scientists, it would be their innate curiosity that would lead them down the garden path to proficiency in their gift. For the military men, it would be the ability to move in ways that were totally unknown to any foe. Especially if they could practice the art of walking silently.
Yeah, Rodney had way too many years in the military machine not to see the advantages this could bring.
“I truly hope that you are right, Doctor. Because we are far too few to play with our people’s lives like this,” the synthetic voice of the Major said.
Rodney could almost hear the anger the voice was trying to convey in its measured tones. Well, he was also reading the cues that the wolf’s stance was conveying. Sheppard was not a happy man right then.
“I’m sure they will be fine,” Weir told him before turning to look at the two scientists. “Do you have any idea what caused this?”
McKay suppressed a sigh at her denseness. And people said he had no people skills. “I am nearly 90% certain that the phases of our new moons had nothing to do with the transformations. This is backed up by the fact that Kusanagi chose a room that has no windows to sleep in tonight.”
Waving a hand at the direction of the hidden speakers, he took a deep breath. “Now that we know Major Sheppard can talk to us, I’ll be asking him some very detailed questions about what happened last night. I would suggest that we get someone to interview the other two as well,” he tried to suggest. Or to be more realistic, order. But in a way that actually meant he had a hope of getting his way.
“Is a good plan,” Radek offered from his spot in front of one of the computers slaved to the database. The Czech was typing away at something, and Rodney dearly hoped he was accessing the information needed to transform people back into people instead of animals.
“Humph. I’ll get Grodin to talk to Beckett, and see Dr. Kusanagi myself. Since we are both above average speakers of Ancient, it should help to get the information in a smoother fashion,” Weir informed them before nodding at both scientists and leaving the lab.
Sheppard stared out the door at her retreating back and growled. The rumble of sound was almost subsonic and Rodney could barely hear it, more felt it moving through the room. Yeah, the Major was much more readable in his current form than he was when he was human. The Ancient equipment he had forged a connection with was silent, and Rodney flashed Zelenka a grateful glance. As entertaining as it would have been to see Weir knocked down a peg or two, the situation they were in precluded that.
“So, what do you want to know about my evening?” the flat Ancient voice asked. Sheppard was staring at the scientists, very obviously pushing his emotions aside.
“Everything from the point where you left the ‘We’re Alive’ celebration,” Rodney demanded. He needed all the information that he could get before he tried anything to change people back. “Radek, please make sure our people have everything set up so we can start working on a cure for this clusterfuck.”
His 2IC nodded and headed out. Neither of them were any more eager to blindly experiment on someone than the Major. Less in fact. He had learned that lesson and made sure that his people had learned it as well.
Radek Zelenka was very happy with his position in the hierarchy on Atlantis. He was number two in overall charge of the hard science departments. He was far outside of the position, or even heir to the position, of leadership for the Expedition, and totally out of the worst of responsibility for any lives beyond what was normal for his department. His role was to be the good guy, the ‘soft touch’, the reasonable one, and he took full advantage of that.
For all that he and Rodney could play at being rivals, and genuinely were at times, they had come to have one overriding mantra: Keep their people safe. No matter how many times McKay ‘forgot’ people’s names or screamed at them, that was the main thing they both clung to. Even in the face of limitless possibilities and the urge to discover everything they could, their goal was to keep everyone alive while they explored.
Atlantis throwing them a curve ball, to quote something he had learned at Area 51, by transforming some of their people was nothing he could have expected. And yet? The whole insane idea seemed to fit in with how the Ancients thought. After two years of playing with their systems on Earth, Radek was deeply convinced that the Ancients had been entirely fucked up and not playing with full decks.
McKay was riding herd on the Major, and he, lucky man that he was, got to tell the rest of the hard sciences that they needed to pitch in to help. They had figured out who needed to do what, and when, to get everything done. The Major obviously needed to be returned to his human form before he got too frustrated. Add in the fact that he ate more as a canid than as a human? The Expedition couldn’t afford to feed one of the ATAs like that, let alone five.
Pulling the science department together, Zelenka started parceling out assignments. Those with good to great fluency in the blocky Ancient language and an ability to think outside the box got told to research everything they could think of in the newly discovered database. The rest of the department was either assigned to the dialing computer project or unpacking and assembling the labs they had brought with them.
“Why are we doing this? If three members of the Expedition are out of commission due to something, we should be concentrating on that,” Kavanagh bitched when he was directed to start unpacking and setting up the series of supercomputers they had for the hard sciences teams. “I can help with that.”
“You’re doing this because you are an astrophysicist with a master’s degree in computer science. We have enough people working problem with furry coworkers to spare one to set up computers so we can use them,” Radek told the man. As much as the man was right, he was also wrong. His skill set was currently valuable elsewhere, and all his bitching wasn’t going to change that.
Kavanagh was an asshole, the Czech had long before decided. Very useful in his fields, but damn near useless outside of them. He was slimy, he was obsequious to those in power, and disdainful of those without. He tried to use his degrees to push his coworkers around and never accepted it when someone shoved theirs at him. He and Rodney had tried to keep the jackass off the team, but Weir had kept adding him back on. It got to the point where neither of them gave a damn.
However, right at that moment, the man was back in the useful column. He had skills as an IT tech they needed and since their true computer science guru currently had no thumbs, the long-haired mizera was just going to have to suffer. Getting the computers up and running was now a higher priority than he knew.
“I didn’t sign on to this Expedition to be a computer tech, Zelenka. I signed on to do science. Now why…” From somewhere, Kavanagh found his sense of self-preservation and shut up at the glare the Czech was giving him. Radek was almost sorry he had.
“Every person on Expedition was brought on because they have skills. In many cases, we have several people with same skills. Right now, all the other people who are capable of setting up the Cray supercomputers we will need to assist in our efforts to discover what caused three member of Expedition to shift are either busy, or have no thumbs. You are only other person who is capable,” Radek stressed. “What is hard to understand about this?”
Swallowing hard, the other scientist nodded and shoved his glasses up his nose before scurrying away. The Czech kept a wary eye on him as he made his rounds, checking on everyone and their projects before heading out to check on Rodney. Kavanagh had started working on getting the first Cray up and running, and he was even moving quickly. But Radek had learned his lesson with the jackass. As soon as Miko was back and able to deal with things, he was going to ask her to go over all the computers.
Trust was a two way street, and Kavanagh had a long way to go before he was there. A very long way. But first he had to find out what his boss had been up to for the last four hours. He really doubted it had been sleeping.
The whole rundown of his evening had been more boring to recite than it had been to live. If nothing else, the fact that he hadn’t unpacked anything was a point in his favor. Fewer variables, since the seals were still in place on his duffle and his box. The mattress was a random one from the supplies they had shoved through the gate and his backpack had been snuggled up to his spine for hours on their first day on the city. So his gear from Earth was pretty much cleared of being the culprit for his transformation.
Still, if anything from Earth had been behind his transformation, it likely would have happened while they were still at the SGC. Thus, it was likely something on the city. McKay and Dr. Z seemed to come to the same opinion and asked him about everything that he had touched since he had stepped foot on their new home. Neither of them were too happy to know that they had touched most of the same things he had.
McKay had started barking directions at his people, and John resisted the urge to roll his eyes and make a very lame joke through his new voice program. Dr. Z went off to deliver assignments, and John was left to deal with McKay. In between the verbal fencing, he started poking around the edges of the thing to see if there was any way that he could make it sound less like an Ancient version of Stephan Hawking and more like a real person. Unfortunately, the program seemed to be hard coded into the city’s mainframe.
Sighing in defeat, John lay down. He really, really missed his thumbs. And his voice. And the ability to eat whatever the hell he wanted. Oh… and taking a piss without having to find one of the ten thousand year old plants to water. The less said about that experience, the better. He wasn’t going to think about any other bodily function. Nope.
“Major, I think we need to get someone from medical down to take a look at you. They are already examining Beckett and Kusanagi, but we need to make sure that everything is okay with you as well,” McKay informed him.
“Fine,” John agreed. Not like he was going to be able to weasel out of that. And he wanted to know what in the hell he actually was. He was too big, from what little he knew of wolves, to be an earth-born wolf. As a human he weighed in at roughly 172lbs, before his gear was added. John had no idea what he weighed as a wolf thing, but he was guessing it was far more than any wolf he had ever heard of.
“You’ll be happy to know that the other two can communicate as well. They found the program you are using and are getting their points across with vigor. Carson is even helping to direct his department on their search,” said McKay.
John just flicked an ear in acknowledgement. It felt like a grunt, the sound he used when he didn’t want to talk. Sighing deeply, he relaxed. Fuck if he was going to pace around and try not to have a fit. Everyone was tense enough without him going spazz.
Dr. Z arriving back in the room managed to distract McKay long enough that John was able to sneak out and… deal. Skulking back into the lab, he settled into his corner and faced the squabbling duo.
The sound of an open carrier wave reached his ear just as the warning beep of incoming communications emanated from both scientists’ ear pieces. John let his hearing focus on both men, and eavesdropped shamelessly. The enhanced senses of his form were useful for something at least.
“Gentlemen, I need to inform you that Sergeant Stackhouse did indeed transform while he was sleeping. The process seemed to be relatively painless since the Sergeant is still deep in the REM cycle, but we will be monitoring him for a while longer. And he is currently some type of a canine. One that doesn’t look like the Major,” Weir reported.
“Well, fuck,” John snarled.
This was not how she imagined their first days on Atlantis going, Elizabeth thought. She had somehow thought the science personnel she had brought along would be able to treat the city just like they had the Antarctic installation. She expected them to have their ATA person activate the place, tie in their Tau’ri electronics and start pulling information out within hours.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, she thought ruefully.
The opening lines of every Star Trek show ran through her mind as she walked the hallways of her post and she sighed. Search out new life and new civilizations, indeed. They had found several different brands of new life and only one of them was reasonable. The other civilization apparently liked to eat people.
Unbidden, the words of some of the people she had worked with in the UN came to mind and she felt her gorge rise. Humanity had its own deeply disturbing corners full of things that no one wanted to pull into the light of day. So eating people wasn’t something that was solely a thing in the Pegasus Galaxy. Earth had its unfair share of sickos. Pushing the thought away, Elizabeth tried not to think of the various methods that the term ‘eating’ someone on Earth could mean.
At any rate, the Wraith had been a very unwelcome surprise. They had kidnapped several of the military members of the Expedition, and the Major had been right to get in her face over that. If she wanted to retain any loyalty from her people, she needed to put every effort into bringing them back if they went missing. She had only 149 intelligent mobile resources and they didn’t have replacements.
“Speaking of replacements,” Weir growled to herself as she walked up the stairs to get to the command level. Sheppard was going to be a major, no pun intended, pain in the ass. He questioned her on everything. When could he go rescue his men? Was it wise to try to negotiate with every new culture they encountered? Was it wise to let the science department use the Mountie, Chuck, as their control model? She had double doctorates in PoliSci and Cultural Relations, with emphasis on statecraft and negotiation! She was far better prepared to make the tough calls than some inbred grunt who flew helicopters for a living! So what if he was an officer?
The man was a fuck up and the only reason she had campaigned so hard to get him on Atlantis was he should have been easier to control than O’Neill. She was sorry to say that he wasn’t.
Then again, Sumner was dead. And by the Major’s hand. If they ever got in contact with Earth again, she might be able to use that, Elizabeth mused as she walked into the gate room. She really didn’t hold out any hope that the SGC would be able to get the Prometheus or Daedalus ready. Or that they would be willing to send one out to find them–riches of Ancient tech or not. That meant that she needed to get control of Sheppard as soon as possible.
As soon as she reached the command deck, she looked at Grodin. He was manning the console that McKay had determined was the central hub to the main operations for the city. Thanks to Sheppard initializing it, anyone could use it. Which was good since Grodin wasn’t currently ATA positive. But he had gotten the tutorial from her CSO on it and had been in the Antarctic installation for over a year without incidents. So…
“Nothing to report, Dr. Weir, on the external sensors that we have running. Chuck is still human, and Stackhouse is moving through the levels of sleep on schedule. Biro expects him to exit the deepest parts of REM sleep in the next 30 minutes or so. Once that’s done, she wants to wake him and get some of the initial data on any changes recorded,” he reported.
“Good. Check with McKay. Sheppard managed to interface with the Ancient equipment in his lab and come up with something that allowed him to talk,” Weir directed as she moved across the catwalk to the room she had claimed as her office.
“Oh, that is good,” Grodin agreed softly, his gentle British tones hushed for once. “Carson and Miko will appreciate that, I’m sure.”
“Once they are able to talk, get someone to go over their days with them. I am thinking Heightmeyer and yourself?” she suggested as she stood in the door to her inner sanctum.
Grodin nodded and immediately got on the radio to call up another of the people designated as operations room techs. Out of all her people, she only had four, and she was going to do her best to keep them alive. Hell if she knew how to put a DHD back together.
Elizabeth finished her walk into her office and sat down, surveying her view of the city. Oh, yeah. This was much better than some hole in the ground back on Earth. And as soon as they had whatever had caused her high level ATA carriers to change into animals solved, all would be right in her world.
John had honestly tried to follow the discussion flowing between the two scientists. He had managed to keep up when they were throwing math around, but as soon as they got into the particulars of nano-physics and subatomic particles, he was lost. A PhD in applied math and a graduate degree in aeronautical engineering did not prepare him for physics on the level McKay and Zelenka practiced.
Head on his paws, he watched the two men bounce ideas off each other. They were both talking faster than should be possible and using their hands to emphasize points. It was a fascinating show to watch, and John was honestly entertained, but he found himself wanting some popcorn to really enjoy the show. It only got better when they hit something he knew and he could join in to keep the insanity moving.
Thankfully neither man was fully used to his new ‘voice’ so any time he said anything, he had their full attention. Not to say that was always a good thing because both scientists took sarcasm to new heights and were having a grand ole time ripping any theory out there to shreds.
“Just because I’m not a physicist doesn’t mean my theories are any less valid, Rodney,” the voice John was starting to associate with Beckett snapped out over the speakers from medical. “Nanobots are a perfectly acceptable explanation.”
“Except there’s nothing in any of your rooms to suggest you got ripped apart at the atomic level and then put back together wearing fur. Besides, even the Ancients would need more than a couple hours to do that,” McKay shot back, eyebrow raised in challenge.
“Fine, you daft bugger!” If Carson could have, John was sure the CMO would have thrown up his hands and rolled his eyes. As it was, hearing the insult coming out in a flat Ancient voice was weirdly funny.
Chuffing slightly in amusement, John hunkered down to go over the math that was filling the lightboard Atlantis had made out of one long wall. It was fascinating stuff, all base eight and it twisted and turned in ways that were making the math geek in him very happy.
He was engrossed enough in the math that it took him a while to realize that someone other than Beckett was on the radio. Whoever it was, they were very enthused about their topic. “So as best we’ve been able to figure out, the Major is one of the ancient dire wolves of legend. So is Dr. Beckett, and Dr. Kusanagi is an unknown feline. It isn’t something from Earth that we know of, so we are going to be looking in the database as we get to it.”
“Dire wolves? What?” McKay asked. “Why does that sound like something out of a science fiction book?”
“Because the term was co-opted by a number of authors to represent some really big wolves until someone found out that they were real. Now they mean what they say, and dire wolves were big, fast and no joke. Anyway, you’ve said that the Major is roughly 170lbs in his current form, correct?” the voice asked.
John really didn’t want to know how the various scientists had figured out his weight. Given that he was within a pound or two of his untransformed weight, it was freaky. Glaring, he looked at the two he had access to and they both smirked at him.
“From the look he is giving me, I would say that is pretty much spot on,” Rodney agreed.
“Well you can cross nanobots off the list, lads,” Carson announced. “My blood is totally clean of those things.
“Magic?” asked the unknown voice.
“Really? Is not magic,” Radek disagreed as McKay sputtered into his coffee.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Clarke had it right. Which means that what we call magic can be extremely advanced technology,” the voice argued.
“Corrigan, don’t make me petition Oxford to take your degree away,” the CSO yelped.
John nodded to himself. He had a face to put with the voice now, and Corrigan was a good guy who was the only anthropologist on the whole Expedition. He did double duty in the languages department as well, translating for those whose Ancient was weak. He and McKay routinely got into some spectacular rows about the meaning of Ancient words.
Settling in, John let his eyes close. He wasn’t all that interested in what species of canine he was. He was far more interested in the efforts to change him back into a human being. Since that effort seemed to be hitting a wall, he was going to nap and let his hindbrain think over the equations he had been reading. The intermittent naps he had been snatching were no longer helping and it had been hours since he had woken up. He was just done with the day.
Rodney kept a close eye on the Major as he sprawled out in a protected corner of his lab. The military man had settled into the spot without a grumble and had been holding very still most of the time. He had gotten up and moved occasionally, but, for the most part, had stayed out of their way. To the point where Radek had actually stepped over him when he needed a part stashed in that area.
The man had a good mind though. He had kept up when he and Zelenka had started talking math and had only dropped out of the conversation when they had ventured into the purely theoretical. It was refreshing to have another person there to talk to about interesting subjects.
Taking a chance, McKay hacked into the Major’s file while he and Radek were discussing something on the glowboard. He had made sure to move through the previous duty stations without looking too hard. While the information on where the man had been stationed was useful, it wasn’t what he was after. His education was.
Rodney was fairly impressed at what he found. The doctorate was in something useful and that meant that Sheppard wasn’t the complete moron he had assumed. Jumping back into the discussion, McKay started firing off some of the more esoteric options that might explain the transformation.
From the dirty looks the Czech was giving him, Zelenka wasn’t happy with what might be at the end of his suppositions. Not his fault he had a love of Schrödinger. Corrigan suggesting magic had gone over just as well. At any rate, the silliness had helped and he was picking away at the edges of the problem, just like Rodney was.
When Sheppard settled down to nap, Rodney grabbed the coffee carafe and shook it. Empty. And he hadn’t unpacked the coffee maker he had for his office either. The food tray was bare, too. Damn it. “We’re out of coffee and food,” he announced.
“Bother.” Radek looked up from his spot in front of a computer. From the manner of sound coming out of the speakers, he was continuing to work with Miko on something. His hands were still moving as he stared at him.
“I’m free for a few minutes. I’m going to go get something to eat,” Rodney informed him as he picked up the tray. “And more coffee.”
”Thank you. I will not tell minions you are being nice,” his second agreed with a small smile.
“See that you don’t. They might rebel,” he called as he walked out the door. “If they believed you, that is.”
The trip to the mess wasn’t bad, and Rodney took careful note of exactly where everything was. The Ancients had gone in for very bland and mostly pleasant architecture that looked pretty much the same from corridor to corridor. Tapping his radio, he checked with the supply weenies. He knew that they had brought all sorts of things with them. Including the materials to make directional signs.
He made a mental note to suggest that someone put up the signs so people could find their way around. It was ridiculous that he had to backtrack twice to find the damn café! Grumbling slightly at the irritation he felt, Rodney walked into the large open room and checked the food in the grab & go bins. Sandwiches, fruit, and there were even some electric blue jello cups left. Good choices all and he could eat them without endangering his health. The coffee even smelled fresh.
Errand complete, he headed back to his lab. Down this corridor, turn into the connecting hallway, cross the atrium and there was his door. Eyes on his hands, Rodney carefully deposited the coffee and goodies on the clean part of a lab table.
Looking around he couldn’t see Radek, but he could hear the Major snoring. They were soft whistle sounds that seemed too weird to becoming out of the muzzle of a huge predator. Peeking around the mass of equipment hording Sheppard’s corner, Rodney fought the urge to curse.
Lying on the floor in all his naked glory was the Major. Fully human and sound asleep.
Fuck, fuckity, fucking hell.
John jerked himself awake and sat up, shivering. He was cold?
Looking down at himself, the Major was startled to find skin instead of fur. He was human again. And totally naked. Which would explain why he was cold. Sighing deeply, John pulled his dignity around himself and ignored the parts of him that were touching the floor and shouldn’t be. Clearing his throat, he tried to put a causal tone into his voice. “So, is there any hope for a sheet or something similar?”
When McKay snorted in laughter, John nodded. Apparently his luck was just going that great.
“Can I borrow your earpiece then?” Sheppard asked.
“That I can do, Major,” McKay agreed as he unhooked the discrete communications device.
“Thanks,” John said as he curled up even further, trying to get his balls off the cold floor. Why hadn’t he noticed how cold the floors on the city were? “Lt. Ford, are you there? Come in.”
“Major?” the voice of his second was hesitant and Sheppard grimaced. Jeez, but the kid was green and it showed in so many ways. “Sir, it’s good to hear your voice.”
“Good to have one as well. Now, I need you to do something for me,” John requested. The assenting noise that Ford let out was enough for him to push forward. “I need some pants and my earwig from my room.”
The signal was quiet for a moment before he heard his second take a deep breath. “Yes, sir,” Ford finally snapped out of his silence. “Where should we look in your quarters?” the Lieutenant asked.
John restrained from commenting about looking in the obvious places. But yeah, no matter how many times Ford had been through the gate, he was still as green as grass. “My gear is in a pile by my mattress, Ford. Shouldn’t be hard to find. Now, while that is happening, I need a report on what’s been going on while I’ve been unavailable.”
“Yes, sir. Sergeant Markham is on his way to pick up your gear now, sir. We’ve been patrolling the central tower in six hour shifts, alternating pairs that check in frequently. The mess has been set up with the supplies allotted to it organized. MS1 Cooper states that they are all carefully stored…”
Sheppard listened to his second prattle on and felt his hackles start to rise. Ford was saying nothing about him being out of commission for a full day. The information he was reporting was good to know, but not what was most important at that point. What was important was that he, as the military commander of the Expedition, had been out of contact. And no one had come looking for him.
Holy shit was he going to be having words with Ford, Bates and Weir. Especially since two of the individuals who were affected by the whole shifting thing were military members. “Ford! Did Dr. Weir say anything to you about what has been going on in the last day or so?”
McKay’s head popped up, and John winced at the sound of his joints expanding. Apparently, he had kept some goodies from his canine shift because John was fairly certain that his hearing hadn’t been that good before. At any rate, the look the scientist was giving him was bleakly horrified.
The look John gave him back was just as upset. Mentally crossing his fingers, he waited for an answer from Ford. “Lieutenant? I need to know what Dr. Weir told you about what has been happening for the last day. And I need to know, now.”
“Yes, sir,” Ford’s voice was rueful and abashed. “Dr. Weir didn’t really tell us anything about what has been happening for the last day or so. Most of the information that we have gotten has been from Dr. McKay’s science teams and Dr. Grodin in Ops.”
“And what was the information that you all got?” John pressed.
“That you had been transformed by something Ancient. That you were out of contact since you couldn’t speak. That, until further notice, I was to be in charge of the military contingent here on Atlantis since you were unable to make actual contact. Sgt. Stackhouse, since he’s ATA positive, was under remote observation to see if he was going to suffer the same fate while he slept. Chuck, since he’s also ATA positive, is being forced to stay awake to see if he will go through the same process,” Ford relayed.
John tapped his borrowed radio off for a moment and growled. He could feel how the change he had gone through had affected his reactions. His emotions were much closer to the surface and he was very territorial over what he considered his. Well, more than normal at least.
“What did she tell them? I know that I missed the boat and didn’t tell any of the military, but yeah. What did she tell them?” McKay demanded.
“You weren’t the only one to drop the ball, McKay.” John ran a hand over his face and then nodded. “She told them nothing. Your people at least got them up to date on the basic information.”
John nodded. “Yeah, that about sums things up.” Toggling his borrowed radio, he signed back into the channel with Ford. “Lieutenant, I woke up yesterday as a dire wolf. I couldn’t talk, my ATA gene still worked and I had all my faculties. It wasn’t a fun time.”
“Oh, my god, sir. That is so weird,” said Ford.
“Yeah, you aren’t kidding,” John agreed before he explained what had happened. The noises the Lieutenant made as John explained what had gone on were gratifying and something in John smoothed out. The anger he was feeling was justified, but he had to calm down, settle his emotions, so that when he went to talk to Weir, he didn’t go for her throat. Literally or figuratively.
The Lieutenant moaned softly in his ear before he cleared his throat. “Damn, sir. I’ll have the men go and do a physical check on everyone to make sure they’re all still human and able to communicate.”
“Good idea. I need to go figure out what has been happening for the last day. I’ll talk to you in a few hours.” John signed off and then turned the radio off before handing it over to its owner.
McKay absently cleaned off the ear piece and hooked the little radio back into place. “So, the days here are about 27 or 28 hours long. We are getting the average done now. I have no idea on how long the year will be. We’ll figure it out.”
John stared at the scientist before rolling his eyes. “That long? Well, it will make the adjustment period interesting at least.”
“Yup. Still gonna have to make sure that my people don’t drive themselves into the ground by working all 28 hours in the day,” McKay agreed cheerfully.
The chime on the door interrupted him before John could snark back. The level of comfortable he was with the scientist was something that was comfortably weird after the months that they had been working together. Glancing at the door, he gave the mental twist that told the equipment that he wanted it to do something. In this case, open the door.
Sergeant Markham was standing in the doorway with Zelenka, cradling his uniform, boots, and poking out of his uniform breast pocket, the radio that tied the whole mess together. “Markham, thank you,” John said from his spot on the floor. He wasn’t moving, thanks.
The Marine nodded and set the clothes on the table nearest him before putting the boots on the floor. From what John could see, it was the same uniform he had worn the other day, but he wasn’t going to be picky. And he was grateful Markham hadn’t gone through his gear. That would have been a step or two too far even for him. Holding out his hand, John accepted his radio and hooked it onto his ear. As soon as the lightweight piece of technology settled in place, he felt better. More connected.
“Sir? Has there been any word on Stackhouse?” Markham asked as he turned around and stared at the door.
John glanced at McKay and twirled one finger at the scientist, silently requesting that the other man turn around so he wasn’t looking at him as he got dressed. The look the scientist shot him was full of irritation but he got a blatant once over before the Canadian turned around. From that alone, John was fairly certain that the other man was enjoying the hell out of his accidental nudity.
McKay was taking the time to answer his man’s question, and John was going to take advantage of the distraction to get squared away. It wasn’t that he was upset at being nude. He had been nude a lot in his life. It was just… the floor was damn cold, he had been sleeping on it and his pride could only take so much shrinkage. Huffing out a breath at the insanity of being male, John stood up and started getting dressed. As soon as his briefs went on, he felt a lot more secure.
Having his dick and balls flapping in the breeze was not comfortable. Even if he could work around it, it wasn’t comfortable. Socks, pants, t-shirt and uniform blouse and he was ready to take on the world. But first, maybe a meal?
Rubbing his hand against his stomach, John ignored his hunger and grabbed one of the cups that McKay kept around and filled it from the coffee carafe. It was just at a safe temperature to drink and he swallowed every drop. He needed the jolt if he was going to go deal with certain parties.
“I have no idea what is up with Stackhouse other than what was reported a couple of hours ago, Sarge. He was sleeping peacefully and then transformed. Currently, unless some very brave individual has gone and woken him up, he is a sleeping canine of some type,” McKay was telling his Sergeant as John walked up and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to settle the mess.
“I can tell you that he understands everything that is happening around him, understands what you are saying and if he is anything like me, really needs some help from someone who has thumbs. Might want to go do that now,” John prodded the Marine along. He had a very good idea what was going on with those two and, well, he had no problems with it.
As soon as his subordinate ran out the door, John closed it up tight and looked at the two scientists. “Can you get on the radio and talk to whomever is running the whole thing with Chuck and make sure they let him get some sleep? If he’s been up this whole time, he’s coming up on thirty plus hours awake and there is no need. I have to talk to Weir and I want all my people accounted for.”
“We can do that,” Radek agreed after a careful look at his boss. “But we still do not know why you changed or how you changed back!”
John headed towards the door, intent on getting his errands done. “I have no idea why I changed in the first place, but I know when I did so. REM sleep was the clue. When I entered it for the first time here on Atlantis, I shifted into the wolf. Sleeping in here and actually relaxing enough to hit REM changed me back.”
The sound of fingers snapping and groans of realization were sweet to hear as he headed off to beard a lioness in her den. Wasn’t this gonna be fun?
John moved through the hallways of his command, feet silent as they touched the floor. He was taking the long way ‘round to check on each and every person that Ford had said was on watch.
Thanks to the nifty side effects of his time as a canine, John was planning on inspecting everyone under his command to reset his impression of them. The ones he passed at their duty stations were cataloged and ticked off his mental list, each with their own notes about how he felt around them. Not all of his impressions were flattering, but he wasn’t planning on sharing them with anyone. He was also going to keep his opinion of some of Sumner’s choices behind his teeth.
Snarling slightly as he rounded a corner after checking another person off his list, John rested his head against a wall. What in the hell had Sumner been thinking?
The notes in his mental files were getting ridiculous. They were understaffed by an insane degree the way things were set up, he had no idea if the armory had been set up, let alone where his men were bunking down. What an absolute cluster fuck. Pushing off the wall, Sheppard headed towards the command center.
The first thing he noticed was that there were no guards on the outer door on the gate room lower level. Pausing, the Major studied the locking mechanism at the door. It wasn’t set in the manner that McKay had taught him meant that the door was actually locked. The whole thing was unlocked and with a wave of his hand, opened without a sound. There were no guards on the other side of the door, and he suppressed the growl that was threatening to erupt.
Rubbing one hand against his breastbone, John took a deep breath. He could not let the leftovers of his time in fur show in his behavior for the next while. He had to be 100% Tau’ri human, to use a phrase he had been hearing while at the Antarctic base. Not that he apparently was, he just had to act like it. Reaching back, he used the mental twist that told the city to lock the door behind him. Settling deeper into the mechanism, he coded the lock so only McKay or a high ATA carrier could override it.
The decision to add McKay to the pass list for the door was easy. The other man had been working hard to find a cure for whatever had caused him to go furry and had looked out for him as much as he was able. Plus, Weir didn’t like him at all. After the weeks at the Outpost and then time at the SGC, Sheppard had plenty of proof of how the woman felt about the scientist. Given that McKay didn’t seem to care one way or another about her, John wasn’t in a hurry to stick himself into the middle of that problem, even if he trusted the Canadian more than her.
At any rate, the door was secure enough to let him relax a bit and he turned around to look at the rest of the room. Frowning, he stepped out from under the raised walkway and checked the corners of the room. There were no guards stationed overlooking the gate, only one person manning the command console and, peering upwards, he saw the office was occupied. Weir. He was willing to bet that she was unarmed and he could see that the tech at the console was as well.
Oh, hell no.
Tapping his radio, Sheppard placed a quiet call. “Bates, what is the watch schedule for the gate room?”
The radio was silent for a moment before the distinctive tones of his Gunnery Sergeant came on. “There are supposed to be two of our people stationed in the room itself. There are four people cleared to run the main console, all but one of them non-ATA positive, so one of them should be there too. Chuck’s the only ATA positive tech and he’s currently being kept awake by order of Dr. Weir.”
“Who are the other three personnel?” John asked as he prowled the lower level of the room. From where he was, he could see Weir’s head in the office she had grabbed.
“The Expedition members assigned to the main console are as follows: Chuck Campbell, RCMP; Dr. Peter Grodin; Corporal Anthony Stephens, Army; and Dr. Andrea Stollins. With Chuck out for some reason, I was going to slot another of the men who’ve stood watch at the SGC into place,” Bates reported.
“So, about whoever you have guarding the gate room? Unless it was Stackhouse and Chuck, they are all on report,” Sheppard informed his Gunny dryly. He could hear the wince over that across the airwaves. “Punishment to be determined later. Also, whoever is supposed to be guarding or securing the lower gate room doors? They are on report, too.”
“Sir, I know I assigned a full set of guards to the gate room,” Bates tried to explain.
John made an agreeing noise before he ran up the main set of stairs. He was very happy to be running on two legs instead of four and he was still happy with his thumbs. They were very cool. Pushing away his mental aside, John waved at what had to be Stollins to stay put before he walked over to the upper level doors. Sticking his head out them, he was mildly surprised to see the two assigned guards standing outside.
“As you were, men,” he murmured before letting the door close. “Oh, Bates? Two of your guys are here. Just on the outside of the upper doors. Still no one but Weir and Stollins on the inside of the gate room.”
The cursing he could hear over the line was impressive. Someone was going to have a very bad day before Bates got hold of them. Too bad John really didn’t care. Ford had mentioned nothing about the lack of guards on the gate room in his report. He couldn’t have missed the men not being on watch.
The military wing of the Expedition was going to be in for a damn big shock once he got things hashed out with Weir. There was no way in heaven or hell that he was going to let shit like this happen again. And if he had to break a few soldiers to get what he wanted out of them? Well, he could do that. He really could.
“Sir, I am going to call the troops together to get a head count. I also want to know who told them they could leave,” Bates informed him, frustration bleeding through.
“Good idea, Gunny. Set it for three hours from now,” John directed. “Any idea where Ford is?”
“As far as I know, sir, Lt. Ford is in the room he claimed as his office,” Bates reported.
The Major sighed. “Three hours, Gunny. Once I’m free from my meeting with Weir, I’ll call to get directions to where you lot have set up.”
“We can do that, sir,” Bates agreed before the line went dead.
John looked at what Stollins was doing at the main console and then leaned over to check the telltales. From what he could see, they were all clear and steady, situation normal then. Standing back, he cocked his head to the side and studied the scientist in front of him. “Do you need any more help here?”
Shaking her head, Stollins pointed at Weir’s office. “I’ve already been told that I’m it for the watch, Major. It would be nice to have someone else here to talk to, but the only request I have is that there needs to be an ATA positive person either on the watch with us, or we need an on call list for the command deck. Before they let Chuck sleep, he had to come up here a few times to reinitialize everything.”
“Well, that isn’t a good thing because there will be times when everyone is busy,” John observed.
Pressing a hand onto the console, he reached out. Every time he deliberately stretched himself to connect with the technology the Ancients left behind, it got easier. This, the console that acted as the central hub for the control room, wasn’t as easy as the other items. It had more levels of security and thus was shutting itself down when Atlantis informed it that there were no ATA carriers within a certain radius. He was certain that was the root of the problems Stollins had noticed.
Burrowing in hard, John made a few changes. The equipment had all the necessary components to get a genetic read on the Expedition members and he directed the city to recognize the main four members who would be manning the main console, himself, McKay and Zelenka. Before he closed out the command, John made sure to put in a set of overrides. Three command codes were needed to get around his orders. If the staff manning the console changed, it would take some time to get the changes input, but better safe than sorry.
Nodding to himself at how the city accepted his work, he backed out of the main computer and stared hard at Stollins. “The system will work for you now. If it breaks, kicks you out or someone is needed to be added, you need to get McKay, Zelenka and I here to fix it. Okay?”
“Yes, sir,” she said.
The scientist looked incredibly relieved that everything had been fixed and John tried not to snort. Yeah, it was fixed because he was stubborn and had no problems pushing until he had found a way around the bullshit programing that the Ancients had left behind.
“So, I’m gonna talk to Dr. Weir. If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to interrupt. But, I also need you to email me everything that you can think of that you need to be able to do your job more efficiently. Understood?” John questioned. Fuck if he was going to leave someone who was a junior level scientist in McKay’s horde of minions alone without trying to back her up.
“Yes, sir. I can do that. Should I pass that order along to the other three?” Stollins asked. She was standing a bit taller, as if his willingness to pay attention to her was some form of validation.
“Please. Also, see if you can set up some kind of logbook on the system so you can keep track of everything that goes on. It’ll make your turnovers a lot easier,” he directed.
The smile she flashed him at that suggestion was happy and full of understanding. Sighing, John turned and started towards Weir’s office. He had no idea why she hadn’t come out of it to deal with him. Staring through the glass at the woman sitting inside, he wondered how in the hell she had gotten through all the screening for assholery that General O’Neill had made sure everyone went through. Then again, the biggest assholes he knew were perfectly capable of hiding the fact that they were assholes from everyone.
John drew a breath in through his nose and tried to analyze the scents he was smelling. Nothing but the same Ancient dust and stale electric smell that permeated the whole city. Yuck. Resisting the urge to rub his nose and rid it of the dust it had taken in, Sheppard sighed. He was not looking forward to this discussion.
Knocking briskly on the glass panel beside the door to Weir’s office, John mentally pressed against the locking mechanism. He was much happier dealing with the basic Ancient equipment like the doors. Everything else made him…reconsider how his family tree forked. From his viewpoint, he could see the doctor working on something on her computer and he, frankly, didn’t care what it was.
The faint sound of the ‘doorbell’ could just be heard at the edges of his hearing and he watched carefully as Weir’s head came up. From what he could see of her face, she didn’t seem too surprised to see him waiting at her door. John was reasonably certain that she had noticed him skulking around the gate room and the command level, the only question was why she hadn’t come out.
When she walked up to the locking mechanism to unlock it, he resisted the urge to do it for her. One, it would be really unwise to point out that he could do that. Two, why give away an advantage? And as a bonus, it pissed her off that she had to get up to do stuff that he didn’t.
“Major, I didn’t expect to see you up and about. I thought you were still transformed,” Weir said as soon as the door to her office opened. John was close enough that he could see how her eyes dilated in shock at seeing him. Maybe she hadn’t seen him coming.
“Things changed, Dr. Weir. I would, however, like to talk to you about the last day.” Sheppard smiled, laying on a bit of charm as he casually looked around. His inspection of the office solved the mystery of why she wasn’t able to see him as he had moved around. The glass from this side was opaque. And he wasn’t going to change it, either.
Waving her hand back at the two chairs in front of her desk, the head of the Expedition offered him a seat without saying a word. Just as silently, he took a seat and tried to look relaxed as she resumed her spot behind the desk. Staring at the piece of furniture, John wondered where anyone had found it. And who in the hell had put it in the room, because he could distinctly remember the room being empty when they had arrived on Atlantis.
Letting the mystery go for the moment, he concentrated on his opponent. He wasn’t happy that at a little more than four days in, he was already at loggerheads with his boss. It had to be a record. Resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose to relieve the pressure of the impending migraine, he waited for Weir to say anything.
When nothing was forthcoming after a long beat, he tilted his head in acknowledgement of her patience. Smiling slightly, he settled back into his chair and let his muscles go loose. He had read up on Weir when he had found out that she was to be the lead of the Expedition. Diplomat, architect of several well-known peace treaties, and the behind the scenes push on several other quiet ones, the good doctor was well known in the circles that parts of his family ran with.
She was also well known for being an ice queen that was perfectly willing to let her opponents spin themselves into making mistakes. Her personal life reportedly had always taken a far distant second place to her ambition, and she was fully capable of sacrificing anything and everything to the altar of the ‘greater good’. From what he had found out right before they had left, she had even left her fiancé behind and they had been months away from the wedding. Cold as ice was the kindest thing he could say about her.
He let all the information he had on her flow in and out of his brain and then settled in to wait. He had enough time to get some work done on what he wanted to do to the men who had left their posts, redesign the rosters for those walking the perimeter of the tower, and figure out what to set up as a training regimen to keep his people alive. It wasn’t the hardest thing he had ever done, but doing it all mentally and without something to keep it straight on was a bit more fun.
“So we can sit here and have a staring contest or we can actually talk about why you are in my office,” Weir interrupted his thoughts, voice as dry and as cold as the Antarctic base they had left behind.
“Oh, the staring thing is just a byproduct, Dr. Weir,” John assured her, voice smooth and just as dry. “I have to wonder what you were thinking when the new head of the military arm of this Expedition showed up wearing fur. Did you think that this would let you have uninterrupted access to everything? That maybe I could be moved out of the way? What? Because you were not a happy person when I found out I could talk.”
Weir didn’t bother to do him the discourtesy of denying the validity of the questions he was asking. There were far too many things that were starting to come together in his head for him to not want to make sure of her. Given who and what he was, integrity and loyalty had been bred into his bones, and the possibility of him going rogue was basically nil. That was something O’Neill had been well aware of before John had left his base.
“It would be less disruptive to have only Ford as the head of the military around here. And the chances of us staying under the radar would be much higher, yes. Your genome makes you useful, Major, but your will makes you a loose cannon. And I won’t stand for that,” she explained, face calm.
“My genome, Madam, is rather spread out among the people of this Expedition and thus hardly unique. The ones who have it won’t bow down to you and without us, you can’t run this city. She would still be under the waves, slowly drowning if we hadn’t arrived and I hadn’t reinitialized the main computer. So, loose cannon or not, you rather need me and mine around,” John responded agreeably. “No matter what you might want on that, we are here to stay.”
“But you cannot deny you have brought us to a higher profile than was intended in this galaxy,” Weir argued back. “Negotiations and low profiles are good things to cultivate if you don’t want to go to war.”
“Actually I could deny that, but that is neither here nor there. We are now a part of the Pegasus Galaxy and that means we have to live by at least some of their rules. The supplies we have aren’t going to be enough to make sure that the Expedition will live until General O’Neill can get either of the two ships under construction out here unless we augment them. The Athosians, while apparently unwelcome by you, will be invaluable in that respect. They know what is edible here, who trades and who doesn’t, and frankly, who to trust,” John said.
“They can no more be considered trustworthy than the Taliban,” Weir argued. “We got their home destroyed, their people killed and then we moved them here, to the center of their religious structure. And we have living examples of the very peoples that left them to die at the hands of the Wraith.”
“Actually, I find them far more trustworthy than the Taliban. And most of Congress for that matter,” John countered. He was holding onto his even-temperedness by teeth and toenail. “From everything that Teyla, the leader of the Athosians, has told me, this wouldn’t be the first time they have been chased off Athos. It happened several generations ago and they were folded into some kinclans they have on other planets. After the planet recovered from some disaster, they moved back.
“The people who died? Most of the Athosians don’t expect to see the equivalent of middle age, Dr. Weir, let alone die a natural death. The one woman they have who is old is revered since she has lived so long. If they are folded under our banner and kept safe, Charin may be the first Athosian in almost 200 years to die of old age and not the hand of a Wraith. As for the religion? Most of the Athosians I have met seem to realize that Atlantis is a city. She isn’t their Ancestors. And as such, isn’t a place to be worshipped.” The explanation was calm, and he kept his voice even.
John wanted the Athosians on Atlantis for a lot of reasons. First on the list was that he had no idea how they were going to feed everyone they had on the city. There had been at least one botanist included in the Expedition, but he had no idea if he or she knew what to do with food crops. He sure as hell didn’t. And for all that the village on Athos had resembled something out of old Westerns, the people had been plump and healthy. That spoke well of their ability to find food.
The rest of it? Would get hashed out. He was sure of it.
Standing up, John decided he was done with the conversation. “The Athosians are here to stay, Doctor. The military arm of the Expedition isn’t there for you to play with, so don’t try. If I find that you were behind my men being ordered away from their posts, I will make you regret it in every manner I can. As for the furriness of the ATA carriers? That will be looked into. But not by you. Leave that to McKay and his people.”
“Do you really think your word will outweigh mine, Major?” Weir looked amused. “I seem to remember someone was in the Antarctic for something other than his health.”
John looked at her and just grinned. “Oh, Doctor, you really shouldn’t believe everything you read in someone’s service record. You really shouldn’t.”
Whistling, John walked out. He could feel the poisonous glare that Weir was sending him between his shoulder blades and tried not to twitch at the feeling. Yeah, she hated his guts. Time to go check on Chuck, get cleaned up, and then go raise some hell on the military side. Humming the guitar line for his favorite Cash tune, Sheppard walked out of the lion’s den.
The walk down to the main science labs and the room they had stashed Chuck in was literally a walk down the tower. A good half dozen floors below the command center to be precise. The ZPM room and McKay’s search for the Holy Grail, was equidistant between them and about as protected as they could make it. If he had a few more men, he would make sure to have a constant guard or two on it for a number of different reasons.
Following a hunch, Sheppard detoured over to the room when he reached the correct floor. Peeking in the small altar to Ancient power tech, he saw that there were only four of the Expedition’s ten naquadah generators on site. Something about the way everything was set twanged on his instincts and he stepped into the room to prowl around.
The generators were spliced into the plinth that housed the ZPMs in a way that seemed to leave the empty reservoirs for the compact crystal units free if they ever found any. There were six cables feeding off the unit but only four generators that he could see. Walking around the whole installation, he rubbed a hand against the back of his neck. Six cables. Four generators.
Bloody buggering fuck. That could not be right.
“McKay.” John had his radio open and a call in to the CSO as soon as he registered what he was seeing.
“Major? I thought you would be indulging in some manly military bonding by now, not calling me,” McKay answered.
John wished. Boy, did he wish. The day just wasn’t going his way. Hell, the whole week wasn’t. To say nothing of his month or even year. “Yeah, that is gonna have to wait for a few. I stopped by the ZPM room to take a look at it. How many generators did you put in place to carry our load and not tax the remaining ergs on the old ZPM?”
There was a loaded silence on the other end of the comm and John almost winced. He had a lot of memories of McKay losing his shit on stupid people in the build up to the mission. It seemed that he was going to get a few more.
“There should be six, Major. Four to carry the load of us and our gear and two to cover any spikes caused by our equipment meshing with the Ancient tech. Why?”
Yeah, not good. “Because I am looking at only four wired in, two empty cables and no extra generators,” John explained.
“You are staying right where you are and I will be up there in five minutes,” McKay ordered.
John closed out the comms, without argument, as he snorted in amusement. Yeah, someone was going to run into the rough side of McKay’s personality. Right in the face.
He was enough of a geek, acknowledged or not, to want to play with all the high tech toys. But unlike some, soon to be unmourned people, he had some sense. He hadn’t installed any of the various pieces of equipment, didn’t know what they all did, and really wasn’t willing to find out the hard way. Doing so tended to lead to bad things. He had had enough of those happening to him for one day.
His ears caught the sound of regular, if fast footsteps hitting the composite material that made up the Ancient floor. The sound let something in him relax. When McKay and Zelenka stepped into the room, he moved out of the way. The scientists were silent as they inspected the room, and John held his peace.
“Radek, you came up to my lab hours after this whole mess started. Did you see anyone futzing with this?” McKay asked, voice calm.
John looked at the Czech and winced when he shook his head “I did not check room when I went back to your lab. I checked the power levels about two hours before when Kavanagh got last Cray hooked in. Power did not bobble.”
“So two hours before you came to meet me, everything was fine,” McKay muttered. Walking over to one of the many wall panels, the scientist poked at a spot on the surface. “When we set this up, I had Kusanagi with me, so everything in the room was accessible. Major, I need you to touch this spot and think ‘Open’.”
Sheppard didn’t even hesitate, just reached over and did as he was instructed. The panel opened up to show an Earth-born computer hooked into the hair thin fiber optic conduits within the wall. John had no idea what that meant for their current situation, but it spoke well of how paranoid the science corps were.
“So, we head out into the brave new world of Pegasus and the same shitty politics follow us. I hate being a suspicious bastard. I really do,” McKay murmured as he started pulling up diagnostic screens.
Sheppard looked at the screens and tried to follow what the scientist was doing. From what he could understand, he was looking at power flows and access points. “What is that, McKay?”
“When I put the power plan together after you went on the rescue mission from hell, I made it so the only way those cables would come unlocked would be with an override code. Every one of the scientists on this city has their own code, so it will be easy to determine whose code was typed in,” McKay explained.
Screens were moving faster and faster as he talked, and John looked at Zelenka. McKay’s second was watching the screen, face as intent as his boss’s. “Dr. Z? Do we have any idea where the extra generators might be stored?”
“No. At this point the remaining four generators that were assembled and ready for use are to be placed around the city at key points to take the load off the internal power grid,” Zelenka told him absently. His eyes hadn’t strayed from the diagnostic screens. “We have sufficient supplies on hand to make more generators, but that takes a little amount of time. Time we will have to make if we can’t find the generators from here.”
John found himself wracking his brain for everything that he had been taught about how the SGC powered itself. They had a number of the little generators running around the main base and most of the labs ran off of them. But naquadah was, from what he had been told, a very volatile element that, if treated wrong, was explosive. “Exactly how dangerous are the generators?”
“Oh, well.” McKay actually stopped what he was doing for a moment and looked at him. John tried not to freak out because even when there had been a containment breach at the SGC before they had left, the man had paid no attention to anything but his science. “They’re dangerous, Major. I mean, under the right conditions, one can blow up a fair sized chunk of the planet and could certainly sink the city again. But the conditions under which they can do that are pretty narrow and they were designed to be damn hard to put into that condition.”
“Right. So, do you mind if I get Stollins on the line and have her scan for any power sources that are out of bounds?” Sheppard asked carefully.
“Nope. Just make sure she doesn’t tell the dragon. We don’t need her huffing and getting in our way,” the scientist agreed with a wave. “I have the code that was used and the time, but this won’t work out the way that the perpetrators want it to.”
“Why? And who is they?” John asked. He was getting a headache and he had almost two hours yet until his meeting with Bates.
“Why, Major is because they use Kusanagi’s override code to open cables,” Zelenka informed him. “This was during time she was still furry and had no thumbs. She has since slept and come back to having them.”
Sheppard grinned at that news. So far he had confirmation that two out of the four affected people were human again. Excellent. “Thumbs are pretty damn neat, I agree.”
“Yes, they are. Especially useful for grabbing cables and leaving evidence,” the CSO muttered as he carefully inspected one of the two unplugged cables. There were still searches running on the hidden computer and John was wondering what he was thinking. “We need to go talk to our culprit.”
Cocking his head to the side, Sheppard watched the two scientists. “Do you need me there?”
Shaking his head, McKay put the computer back into its passive role and returned it to its niche. “Nope. The person we are going to talk to hasn’t had the spine to do anything but agree with higher authority for the last few years, so me coming down on them will be sufficient. Once we get the generators back though, I want you to do the same thing to this room that you did to the command console.”
John shot the Canadian a sharp glance and met the blue, blue eyes without a qualm. McKay was apparently well aware of just what he was able to do with the city and was willing to aid and abet him in his mission to actually have some kind of OpSec, or Operational Security, in place. There was too much city and not enough men to hold it without some kind of control in place. And if he had to go around the ‘dragon’ to do it, he would. Not like she was going to be able to get into anything he locked up anyway.
“Beckett said that he had a gene therapy that he had gotten a lot of success with that would allow someone with the recessive form of the ATA gene to get it activated. Are you going to try for it when he is human again,” John asked. The topic was completely out of left field, but he needed to know.
“Yeah, Carson told me the same thing, and right before we left, he said that since he got some samples from you, his success rate had gone up a lot,” McKay agreed. “I can tell there is a lot that I am missing and it is driving me mad. On the other hand, if it means that I turn furry every once in a while, I hope I become a cat. I am not really much of a dog person.”
John suppressed the flash of emotion he felt at that announcement and turned to the other scientist. The Czech shook his head. “I am not one of those who will likely get a good response from the therapy. There are no traces of ATA genome in me. It would take much more to get me to that stage. I am happy with my workarounds,” he said with a smile. Patting the wall, he murmured something in his native language and the light seemed to get a bit brighter where he stood.
“Okay, Doc, I can understand that. McKay, as soon as Beckett gets rehumaned, see about the therapy. I want some more controls in place, and if you have the ability to interface with the tech, that makes things a lot easier,” Sheppard said.
Waving at the door, he escorted the pair out and put a fairly firm lock in place. It wouldn’t keep McKay, Zelenka or Kusanagi out if they were determined, but it would keep everyone else away.
“The door is locked. I’ll leave you to the handling of the power supplies. I need to check on Chuck, go get cleaned up and then there is going to be a full meeting of all of the military assets on the city. Please keep your people under control and an eye on the Athosians,” John explained.
“We can do that,” Zelenka agreed before he waved a hand at the stairwells. “Chuck is on next level down in the large conference room. The coffee supply was stopped right before he went to sleep. He should be sacked out safely. If he changes, room is empty, so there is nothing in there for him to destroy.”
“Good to know. Thanks, Doc. See you both soon,” John said with a wave before he hurried down the stairs. He had a deadline.