Title: A Burning Madness
Fandom: SGA, SG1, NCIS
Relationships: Sheppard/McKay, O’Neill/Jackson, and more to come
Warnings: Canon-Typical Violence, Medical Bullshit
Summary: After visiting M9S-921, SGA-1 return home to find themselves changed. Instead of being human beings, now they are what can only be termed as… werewolves. They have to navigate their new lives, the SGC, the IOA and discovering what the changes mean for their personal lives. John, Rodney, Teyla, and Ronon have a lot to discover and no one but themselves to rely on.
Author’s Note: Everyone knows I have little to no respect for actual canon anymore, right? Also, I might have underestimated my word count. Oops. I’m going to finish this on my site. Hold tight. I’m not done.
“Dr. Weir, AR-1 is late,” Lorne announced from the doorway into the expedition leader’s office.
Weir looked up with a speculative glance. “How late, Major?”
“Fifteen minutes, ma’am. Far longer than any other time the team has been late. Permission to go M9S-921 to see what’s holding them up?” Lorne asked.
He stood silent while Weir thought things over. He’d been on Atlantis for only a few months and had been paying attention to how his new command operated. While Weir was in overall charge, Sheppard ran the military without much if any interference from her and he was counting that extending to him as well. “Ma’am?”
“Do you really think we need to go see what’s keeping them?” Weir asked with a skeptical air.
“Yes, ma’am. The SGC doesn’t leave anyone behind and we always go after our people if they are missing,” Lorne informed her, voice mild. “We can’t afford to stand by and wait to see if AR-1 has just fallen behind or not. This galaxy has the Wraith and the expedition has made several enemies who could also be the reason why they are late. It would be criminal to wait any longer.”
“Fine,” Weir agreed with bad grace before waving a hand at him. “I’m sure you know what you are doing, Major. I’ll leave the whole thing to you.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Lorne agreed. Turning on his heel, he headed for the jumper bay by way of the command levels. Leaning over, he tapped the panel of the command module designated for security. “Campbell, make sure that a copy of that whole discussion is recorded and placed on the colonel’s server,” he directed quietly. “Also let Beckett know we may be coming in with wounded and he should have a triage unit on hand in the jumper bay. Then start hailing AR-1.”
“Got it, Major,” Campbell confirmed. He quickly manipulated the computer in front of him and nodded once. “All done.”
“Good,” Lorne said before he headed out at a trot. Reaching up, he triggered his radio. “Bates? Tell me you’ve got a S&R team ready in a jumper.”
“Jumper Two, Major,” Bates agreed. “And I have your tac vest and gear so you can be rigged out.”
“Excellent,” Lorne said as he approached the rear of the jumper. Making his way through the back, he snorted softly in amusement. Jumper Two had been designated as the flying MASH unit by Beckett and it was currently crowded with Marines and medical gear. “Please tell me we’ll have enough room to house everyone?”
Bates nodded once as he held out Lorne’s tac vest. “We will sir. Just got to pull some of it on when we get to M9S-921 and the rest will be packed away in the compartments.”
“If you say so, Gunny,” Lorne said with a wry smile. He shrugged into his vest and then clipped on his holster. Jumping slightly in place to settle everything, he nodded once before sliding into the pilot’s seat and starting his preflight as the back hatch closed. “You know the colonel’s going to be peeved that we had to come fetch him.”
“Saves walking, sir. He’s not all that fond of exercise when he can get a ride. Just like the rest of us,” Bates disagreed with a smile.
Lorne hummed once in answer before he took the jumper down through the floor access to the Gateroom. Mentally reaching out, he turned their comms on as the ship rotated to face the open gate. “Campbell, any word from AR-1?”
“No, sir. There’s been nothing on comms. Complete radio silence,” Campbell reported.
“Shit,” Bates muttered from the co-pilot’s seat. “That doesn’t sound good at all.”
“No, it really doesn’t,” Lorne agreed. He opened the comms again. “Close the gate after we report in, Campbell. We’ll dial in once we have some answers.”
“Yes, sir!” Campbell confirmed before closing the line.
“Time to find out what’s happening then,” Lorne muttered before he sent the jumper through the gate.
Bates kept a close eye on the little ship’s sensors. “I’m not seeing AR-1 on sensors. Nor am I seeing any power sources.”
Lorne reached out and nudged the jumper to extend the sensors out another five miles. “How about now?”
“Ha,” Bates exclaimed. He started tapping keys on the laptop grafted into the console. “Got a bead on the colonel’s radio. I can triangulate off the gate.”
“So why haven’t you gotten the ATA therapy?” Lorne asked as he started circling the jumper around the gate. “Found the trail AR-1 took out of here.”
“I wasn’t offered it, Major,” Bates admitted. “I’m not sure why, but Dr. Beckett didn’t offer it to many people. Mostly the civilian scientists.”
“That’s going to change,” Lorne growled. “Got a location?”
“Yes, sir. Ten miles to our current ten o’clock,” Bates reported. “I’ve patched in the mics for AR-1 and it’s silent other than their breathing and some light snores.”
“Well, that’s a bit of good news,” Lorne said before he turned the ship in the indicated direction. “Standby!” he called over his shoulder to the men in the cargo compartment. As they came over the rise of a small hill, he blinked once and slanted a glance at Bates. “Did you know this was here?”
“No, sir, I did not,” Bates said, shaking his head. “No power at all, but it looks like the front door is open.”
“Joy,” Lorne said, deadpan. He settled the jumper into place, and let down the ramp. “Okay, people. AR-1 are in there somewhere, we don’t know how far in and there’s no power. Sensors don’t show any animal life in the area and there’s nothing asking to be turned on from an Ancient perspective.”
“Sounds good, sir,” Stevens called as he started walking towards the only entry into the Ancient installation. The rest of their force followed behind him and Lorne took his P-90 from Bates as he fell in behind everyone. Clicking the remote he’d attached to his tac vest; he closed the ship up.
“No footprints,” Lorne murmured as he flicked on the flashlight attached to his P-90. Pulling out an LSD, he fired it up and nodded towards a doorway leading deeper into the facility. The team moved through the various rooms, checking each carefully. Unlike a ruin on Earth, there was no dust on the floor or in the air.
“I’m honestly glad there’s no dust. I’d be sneezing like no tomorrow,” Stevens said softly as he checked out a room on their right side. “Nothing in here. Completely empty.”
“Same here, Sarge,” Walker called. “Every single room we’ve checked out has been empty. Maybe this is the one place the Ancients actually mothballed correctly?”
“Or they abandoned it, Corporal,” Lorne reminded him. He had his flashlight pointed up and was checking out the ceiling. His area cleared, he checked the LSD and nodded towards the next room. “They should be through there.”
Bates and Stevens entered first and quickly cleared the room. Both men stood on either side of AR-1 and popped open battery-operated lanterns to add additional light. Lorne followed with Coughlin and the medic dropped to his knees and started triaging AR-1. Everyone held their peace while he worked.
Coughlin sat back on his heels and sighed. “Okay, so they’re obviously unconscious, but I can’t see anything wrong with them. No spinal damage anywhere, no open wounds, no obvious issues in the room to cause this. We need to get them back to the jumper where we can place them on stretchers.”
“At least the jumper is retrofitted for this,” Lorne observed. He made sure to clip his P-90 to his vest and then stared down at the four bodies on the floor before slanting a look at Bates and Stevens. “I’ll take the Colonel,” he announced before bending over to get Sheppard into place.
Bates and Stevens grunted before they played a quick game of rock/paper/scissors. Bates smiled softly before he picked up Teyla and Stevens took Ronon. Coughlin carefully maneuvered McKay into place on his shoulder. Lorne scanned the room one last time and shook his head. It was utterly bare. Whatever had gotten AR-1 had left no trace.
“Do we have any idea what knocked them out?” Weir asked.
“No, ma’am,” Lorne reported. He’d told her the same thing when they’d made it back through the gate and Beckett had told her that after he’d examined AR-1. The answer wasn’t changing. “There’s no evidence of what happened and the facility they were exploring was completely powerless, so we had no ability to mine it for records. I want to talk to the colonel before I authorize anyone to go back with a naquadah generator to look for answers.”
“Hmm,” Weir hummed before she turned away from her spot in the observation point overlooking the examination room AR-1 was currently in. “Let me know if anything changes,” she directed as she left the room.
Lorne let her go without a fuss. He stayed in place as Beckett finished his exams and left AR-1 to the nurses. Only when they had each of them tucked in and hooked up to various machines did he leave. He needed to corner the CMO to get an update on what was happening with his CO. Lorne knocked on the door jamb leading to the man’s office and waved. “Dr. Beckett? Do you have a moment?”
Beckett looked up from his computer and blinked once as if he was lost in thought. “Oh, Major Lorne. What can I do for you, lad?”
“I was hoping you could give me an update on the condition of AR-1?” Lorne asked.
“They are currently resting comfortably as possible, given that they haven’t woken up. All the tests we’ve gotten back so far have shown to be completely normal. Blood pressure, respiration, and MRI all came out normal. We’re waiting on a review of the blood tests to see if there’s anything hidden in there, but I don’t know of anything that would take the four of them down without a trace. I checked to see if they had any of the after-effects of something like a zat’nik’tel blast, but there was nothing. I also checked to see if there was something left from a Wraith stunner, and that was negative,” Beckett reported. He looked frustrated and Lorne sympathized. It sounded as if the doctor and his people had checked every single option they had and it was all coming back negative. “I have no idea what happened and I don’t think we’re going to find out any time soon.”
“Well, that’s unhelpful,” Lorne admitted. “We took swabs after we got AR-1 back to the jumper. Did those show anything?”
“Not yet,” Beckett said. He waved his hand towards the labs. “Those are still being run, but I’ve heard nothing from them yet either. It’ll be hours, lad. Best thing at this point is to go relax, get some food and then come back when AR-1 wakes up to see what they have to say.”
Huffing out a frustrated breath, Lorne nodded once. “I hate waiting.”
“You aren’t the only one, lad,” Beckett said with a rueful smile. “But that’s what we’re stuck with at this point and so, wait we must.”
“Fine,” Lorne agreed with ill grace. “Thank you, Doctor. Please have me paged if any of them wake up or we get some results.”
Beckett nodded once. “I shall.”
Lorne waved as he headed out of medical. There was nothing to go on, no clues as to why AR-1 had gone down on M9S-921. He was deeply frustrated with getting no answers. And if he was frustrated, the troops would be as well and they were all anxious to know what had happened to their CO.
Sighing softly, he straightened his shoulders and turned to look at Zelenka. He normally liked the excitable Czech, but his timing was wretched. “Dr. Z, what can I do for you?”
Zelenka paused and studied him. “There is no news, yes?”
“Not a bit,” Lorne confirmed.
“I have my people researching the facility on M9S-921. They are scouring the database to see what it comes back with. We will pass any information we have on it to you and to Medical,” Zelenka
“Thank you, doc. That would be a great deal of help,” Lorne said. He was absurdly grateful that the science department wasn’t trying to compound any issues and was trying to help.
“It is not good that we don’t know why this happened,” Zelenka fretted. “But we will figure this out.”
Lorne could only nod. He had to hope that they could. He’d seen the scientist of Atlantis pull off miracles when the chips were down.
“Do we have any new information?” Weir asked from her spot at the head of the conference table.
“Other than AR-1 being awake?” Beckett asked before he shook his head. “No. All their tests have come back utterly normal.”
“None of us remember anything weird happening before we woke up back here, Elizabeth,” John said. He rubbed a hand over the back of his head before he let it drop. “The whole mission was pretty standard. We sent the MALP through and it came back with a pretty standard planet with everything in the normal ranges. Once we stepped through, everything seemed the same. No issues, no sudden allergic reactions to the biosphere, and no dinosaurs.”
McKay picked up the report as he trailed off. “We had a small power flux that showed up after we sent the MALP back through. It was barely enough to trip the sensors on my LSD, but it was Ancient in profile, so we hiked to see what it was. The hike was easy enough. No weird flora or fauna.”
“There were no indications that the Wraith had been there,” Teyla cut in.
“And I’d never been there. Totally a new planet to me,” Ronon confirmed.
“Okay, so all of this was covered when we made the decision to go to the planet,” Rodney reminded the room. “Radek managed to find the planet in the database. The notes state that there was a research outpost. Whatever they were working on wasn’t recorded though.”
“Or was classified above what we can access,” Lorne suggested grimly.
“I thought of that, Major,” Radek admitted. “When Colonel woke up, I had him repeat the search to see if he could get a different result. Both of us came back with the same results. Whatever the Ancients were doing there, it’s been lost to time.”
“Well, that’s disappointing,” Rodney muttered. “But I’m not really all that surprised. Whatever was there had to have been important for them to have cleared everything out. Have we checked the personal journals that were recorded?”
“Miko and her department are doing that now. They have keyword searches running as we speak. No idea when or if a result will be found,” Radek shared.
Weir looked around the room before she cleared her throat. “So, we’re stuck? We don’t have any further clues?”
“No, not at this time,” Lorne admitted.
“Radek?” Weir asked.
Radek shook his head. “No, I have nothing at this time.”
“And none of us remember anything,” John confirmed when she glanced at him.
“Okay. How about this. I know that Rodney has a number of experiments that he’s been wanting to get done. The military arm of the expedition has requested the time to do a few training runs,” Weir said. She eyed Teyla and Ronon carefully. “If we put AR-1 on hiatus for several weeks, will that work out okay with you?”
“I have several projects to complete for my people and I believe I can spend time with Charin,” Teyla admitted. “There are several festivals coming up that need my review as well.”
“Ronon?” John asked.
“Your Marines wanted to have me do some training with them,” Ronon reminded him. “This would let me do that.”
“Just don’t break too many of them,” John said. He looked at Weir and shrugged. “Say three weeks from when we left? So, eighteen more days?”
“That works for me,” Weir confirmed. She made a note on her computer and nodded. “Okay, so we can add this to the weekly meeting to see if anything new comes up.”
“Sounds like a plan,” John admitted. He had a pile of work that he needed to get done. It bothered him to even think of passing the work onto Lorne without doing as much of it as he could. If he took advantage of the time right, he might even be able to get ahead of some of his work.
The meeting broke up quickly and John headed for his office. He had stuff to do.
“Do you think Weir’s going to let us back out in the field any time soon?” Rodney asked. “It’s been two weeks.”
John looked up from his paperwork and shrugged. He had been taking advantage of their downtime to get his paperwork done. Despite his teasing of Lorne, he’d vowed to keep track of his own work and he did everything he could to prove he was a good commander for his troops. And that meant that he wasn’t going to shuffle his paperwork off to his XO. As a thank you, Lorne was taking a large amount of the day-to-day bullshit off his plate. John had already ordered several canvases for him to show his appreciation.
“We did agree to hold out for three weeks unless we came up with new information. Nothings come up, so she may hold out for the full amount of time. Are you really that anxious to get back in the field?” John asked.
“Eh, not really? But I wanted to figure things out so I can start scheduling experiments after this. I’ve gotten a lot done, but you know there’s always more to do. Also, I’ve been going over the reports for everyone and we’ve got a lot of very questionable science going on in this city,” Rodney bitched as he sat down across from him.
John placed his stylus to the side and turned his full attention to Rodney. He got reports from the science department, but for the most part, they were summaries of what was going on, not an in-depth analysis and explanations like what McKay got. Keeping up with what the scientists were up to was a full-time job and he had only so many hours in a day that he could devote to them. “What’s got you concerned?”
“I’ve been reading over everything and it seems that Carson wants to get a live Wraith so he can experiment on them. Per the notes I found, he’s not quite at the spot he wants to be to get this done, but he expects to be soon,” Rodney reported. He started waving his hands as he talked and John ignored the flailing out of long habit. “His notes are all talking about suppressing the Iratus bug part of them so they’re human. Ish. He’s also been doing a great deal of work on the Hoffan contagion as he calls it. He’s increased the survivability of the contagion into the low 60%’s but that’s still horrific. From what I got out of the reports, he’s thinking that he can get it to be better and release it wholescale throughout Pegasus.”
“There’s no way in hell I want to let that thing loose in Pegasus,” John snapped. He took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “I didn’t know he was still researching that. What else is going on in the sciences that we don’t know about?”
“Very little anymore,” Rodney admitted. “I started looking at the backlog of reports while we were stuck in medical due to the shit with M9S-921 and I’ve been busy reading ever since. I’ve already killed several proposals to get either a Wraith corpse on the city or a live Wraith so it could be experimented on. Also, there’s a scientist in Area 51 who wants to get a sample of the enzyme that fucked up Ford.”
“For fucks sake, Rodney. No. Just no,” John said after several seconds staring at his friend. “Did you make a list of this shit? So, we can get O’Neill to come down like a ton of bricks on this?”
“Yup,” Rodney confirmed. “I did. I sent it to you before I came down.”
John eyed his computer wondering what was hiding in his emails. “How insane is this going to make me?”
“I’m not happy,” Rodney admitted. He sighed softly. “My people are doing shit that is ethically dubious and they hid it from me. I’m going to have to deal with this soon.”
“I know,” John admitted. He tapped his desk once and checked the time. “Have you managed to get those guys shut down?”
“As much as I can. They aren’t going to be going any further without getting their hands on a Wraith. Since they won’t be getting one, they’re stuck. I’ve contemplated locking Carson out of the genetics lab, but I want to go over everything before I make that decision,” Rodney said. He looked conflicted before he pushed on. “He has degrees in genetics and I need to know if this is a hobby thing or if he’s genuinely wanting and planning on removing the bug DNA from the Wraith.”
“Are you able to lock him out of someplace and make it stick? I didn’t think you were able to do that without me backing you up.” John observed as he started shutting down his computer. “Want to go get dinner and we can talk about how we want to deal with this?”
“I’ve been able to override his locks since not long after I got the gene therapy,” Rodney explained. He waved a hand around as if was trying to encompass something. “Carson looked into it and confirmed that I was missing a copy of the activator gene. Once I had that due to his therapy, I was able to make use of the ATA genome I already had. For whatever reason, if I lock something, he’s not able to override me.”
“No wonder you were so peeved at not being able to access the equipment at the outpost,” John said, shaking his head at the waste. “It must have felt like it was all just out of reach.”
“Yes,” Rodney confirmed with a shrug. “And it wasn’t until we got here that I was able to find out why. Are you ready to go?”
John finished logging off and nodded. “Yup. Let’s go.”
Dinner had been good for the most part. John had tried to keep to innocuous topics while in the mess hall and McKay had followed suit. It was only when they had headed back to his room that they had knuckled down to figure out what was going on. John had started recording their observations after the third program they had found outside of Beckett’s shit that hadn’t been authorized by McKay. They’d only stopped researching when they had started falling asleep over their computers and called it a night with plans to start again the next night.
“You look rough,” John teased gently as he watched Ronon stumble into the mess.
“I hate mornings,” Ronon grumped as he dropped into place next to John.
“Really? Normally you’re bouncing around after running for ten miles,” John observed. He eyed Ronon closely. He had no idea how to tell if the Satedian was ill or not. “Have you checked in with medical to see if there’s anything wrong?”
“No,” Ronon said shortly. He eyed John’s plate with interest. “What’s that?”
“Cooper made waffles with maple syrup,” John explained, pointing at the item on his plate. “You’ve seen the eggs, bacon, and potatoes before.”
Ronon hummed softly. “Yeah, but you normally don’t eat that much in the morning if we’re staying in the city.”
“No, I normally don’t,” John agreed. He eyed his own plate once before he shrugged. “I’ve been feeling out of sorts for the last few days and I didn’t sleep too well last night. I thought I’d try the food coma cure to see if I can get some better sleep tonight.”
“Starting a little early then, Sheppard,” Ronon said, amused. “I’m going to get some of my own.” He stood up and headed for the breakfast line.
John kept a casual eye on the former Runner as he managed to charm an extra waffle out of one of Cooper’s people. Ronon had adapted easily to the community meals the expedition used as the best way to make sure everyone was fed. There was little that he didn’t eat and most of the food he avoided were condiments that most people on Earth liked. Ketchup had gotten a long look before he’d pushed it aside, mustard was tolerated and he like soy sauce on just about everything. So, John was surprised when Ronon came back to the table with a serving of syrup in a small bowl by his plate.
“I thought most of our condiments were too sweet for you?” John asked carefully.
“Royce suggested that I try the waffles with some of it. She told me to dip the waffle in it, not pour it on top,” Ronon explained as he started cutting his good up. “If it isn’t to my taste, she said she’ll get me some fruit to add to it.”
John watched him eat and smiled as Ronon grunted in satisfaction at the taste of waffle, butter, and syrup. Curiosity satisfied, he started working on his own breakfast. As he finished his meal, McKay and Teyla showed up and got their own massive breakfasts. “Are we all super hungry this morning?”
The other three members of his team looked at their meals and shrugged. “I was hungry this morning,” Rodney explained.
Teyla nodded once and John let the whole thing drop. Everyone on his team were adults and he didn’t need to fuss at them that badly. Pushing the urge to continue aside, he leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee as he watched everyone as they made their way through the room.
“John, do you have any idea when we will be allowed to use the stargate?” Teyla asked as she finished the last of her waffles. “I have several trade agreements that I need to check on for my people.”
“I know I have an appointment with medical today to get cleared for gate travel,” John offered after he checked his schedule on his tablet. Changing screens, he checked the team schedule and confirmed the other three members of his team were also scheduled for medical appointments. “Looks like you’re all scheduled for appointments as well.”
Teyla pulled his tablet around and smiled at the appointment for her. “I shall go do that first thing and then head to the mainland to see who would like to go with me to visit our allies.”
“Have fun and stay safe when you go,” John said. He looked at Ronon and raised an eyebrow. “Do you want to go with her?”
“I have training scheduled with the Marines,” Ronon admitted. He looked at Teyla and shrugged. “If you want, I can cancel that and go with you?”
“I should be fine,” Teyla soothed. She picked up her tray and headed for the door.
Ronon nodded once at him and Rodney and headed out to do whatever he did in the early morning.
“Rodney? Want to meet up this evening to go over what we were discussing last night?” John asked as he started to police his own breakfast dishes.
“Sure,” Rodney agreed. “Swing by my office after you’re done for the day? I have some experiments I’ll be running and have no idea how absorbed I’ll be.”
“Fair enough. See you tonight,” John said. He dropped his tray off to be cleaned to headed down to his office to get some work in before his appointment. He didn’t feel good at all, but he honestly didn’t feel sick. Just achy like he’d gone several rounds with Teyla and Ronon before running the obstacle course the marines had set up on the mainland. Food and coffee had helped a bit, but he could only hope his muscles would warm up as the day wore on.
“Medical, this is Major Lorne,” the call cut across all comms traffic on the city. “I need two stretchers in Colonel Sheppard’s office. He and Dr. McKay have collapsed.”
There was silence on the comms for several seconds before there were a flurry of replies. Lorne ignored them as he carefully rolled his CO into the recovery position. He quickly moved to do the same to McKay. Reaching up, he tapped the stud on his comm. “Bates, check on Teyla and Ronon. If whatever this is hit the colonel and McKay, it might have hit them too.”
“I already checked on them, Major,” Bates said immediately. “We have them both on their way to medical.”
“Right,” Lorne said. He stood up and got out of the way of the medics as they moved in to evaluate their patients. “Someone needs to tell the Athosians that Teyla’s in medical again.”
“Got it,” Bates confirmed before he ended the transmission.
“What a cluster fuck.” Lorne bitched.
“Do we have any news?” Lorne asked as he entered medical.
“No,” Beckett called from the back of the room.
Lorne paced back and forth in the area that had been designated as a waiting area for several minutes. His radio was reporting to him constantly, updating him on the timeline of events for AR-1. Nothing was standing out to him. Since AR-1 had been restricted to the city, their risk factors were the same as his and he hadn’t fallen down in seizures and pain.
“Son of a bitch.” Beckett yelped. The echoes of his words had barely faded before four voices started to scream and then were abruptly silenced.
Throwing caution to the wind, Lorne headed back to where the medical staff was gathered around AR-1. Each member had a team dedicated to them and should have been working on them. But they weren’t. “What?” Lorne asked as he shouldered his way into the clutch around Sheppard. Instead of a black-haired man, lanky and tall, there was a wolf. “Uhm?”
“Right?” Beckett demanded; eyes trained on the wolf. “We were trying to get the colonel out of his clothes when he seized and did this. The computer came up with some kind of canid.”
“Right after he changed, Dr. McKay changed, along with Ms. Emmagan and Mr. Dex,” Biro reported. “Since they were all on the beds, we should have readings showing what lead up to this. I’d have to say that they’re wolves.”
“That’s great and all, doctor, but my commanding officer shouldn’t be a wolf,” Lorne sniped. He was keeping a wary eye on the four wolves in the beds surrounding them. “Do we know that all four are Canis lupus?”
“No, we don’t,” Beckett admitted. He had lost the sound of fear in his voice and was starting to sound fascinated.
The urge to roll his eyes at the insanity that was the scientists on Atlantis was strong, but Lorne suppressed it. He didn’t have time to be weirded out by the science corps. “Do we have any idea what caused this?”
“We got blood from McKay, Dex, and Sheppard before they changed. Teyla was the last to arrive and we weren’t able to get a sample from her before she changed,” Biro said. She waved a hand at the tables beside the beds. “Humans don’t do this and nothing we’ve learned about the people of Pegasus says that they do this either. This is straight out of our mythology.”
Lorne shrugged out of his uniform jacket and held out his arm. “I’ve been working side by side with the colonel since AR-1 has been on downtime. Could you please run my blood against theirs to check?”
“Sure,” Beckett agreed. He quickly prepped Lorne’s arm for the blood draw and pulled four vials.
As the fourth vial was finished and the needle was withdrawn from his arm, Lorne could see Sheppard’s nose start to twitch. “Is there an isolation room that we can roll these four into? I don’t know if they’ll wake up with their human facilities instead of the instincts of a wolf. And if they wake up in the middle of a blood draw…”
“They might freak out and in their new forms, that could be bad.” Beckett turned to look at the forms of AR-1 and nodded. “Good call,” he agreed.
It took only moments for AR-1 to be moved to the isolation room with an observation platform. Lorne made certain to lock the door of the isolation room and reinforced it with Atlantis. Taking a moment, he tried to catch his breath. Turning his head slightly, he stared at Alicia Biro when she stepped up next to him. “Please get the blood tested as quickly as possible. I need to check out what’s happening from the observation room.”
“We’re going to need to tell Dr. Weir,” Biro reminded him softly. She tilted her head towards Beckett. “He’s going to be wrapped up in the science for a while.”
“Fuck me,” Lorne sighed. He ignored the laugh Biro let out and nodded. “Right, let’s get this started.”
Turning around, he headed for the stairs up to the observation deck. Reaching up, he triggered his radio. “Dr. Weir? I have some news.”
“Major Lorne, what do you have for me?” Weir asked. She sounded stressed.
“AR-1 has apparently turned into wolves. Best guess is Canis lupus from Earth. We’ll be getting more information as we get more time.”
The line was silent for several seconds before Weir cleared her throat. “Please tell me you’re kidding?”
“I wish,” Lorne said simply. He turned onto the observation deck and stepped up to the window. Looking down, he winced. “One moment ma’am,” he said. He carefully turned his comm off and hit the intercom. “Colonel, please don’t try to exit the isolation room. Most of medical are very nervous and we don’t want to have them freak out.”
The wolf that was lying on Colonel Sheppard’s clothes turned to look up at him before nodding once. Lorne watched as he hopped down and started inspecting his teammates. From the grumbling going on, Sheppard wasn’t happy that the other three were unconscious. The sharp bark he let out before he turned to stare at Lorne seemed like a demand to him.
“We’re doing tests now on your blood from when you were human. Once we get that done, we’ll see about getting blood from you in this form,” Lorne explained. “No one else has been affected and that’s all we know. No one was hurt either when you transformed.”
The huff the colonel let out sounded peeved to his ear, and Lorne couldn’t blame him. “I’ve already let Dr. Weir know about your transformation. I’ll be drafting a message to send the SGC in a few minutes. Should I let them know that you’re you?”
Sheppard huffed again and nodded.
“Thank you, sir. I’ll send Bates up so he can stand guard,” Loren promised. He nodded once and shut the intercom off. Chore list decided, he headed for the door to the main part of the city. He had a lot to do in a very little amount of time.
John turned his attention back to the isolation room and tried to figure out what next. Reaching out, he nudged Atlantis and she pushed back at him. Satisfied that his connection to the city existed even with his current change in species, John hopped down off the gurney he was on and froze.
The action had felt normal. There was no hesitation to his actions and he hadn’t tripped over his legs. Stepping forward, he walked a few steps and tried to pay attention to how everything moved in his new body.
He got pulled out of his contemplation by the sound of a yelp as Rodney woke up and rolled off the bed. Snickering slightly, he headed over to where his scientist was sprawled out on the floor. Nudging him with his nose he got his attention. Sitting down neatly, he curled his tail along his body as he stared at McKay.
As McKay figured out where his feet were, John turned his attention towards Ronon and Teyla. Both of them were deeply unconscious and if he concentrated on them, he could hear their heartbeats. The cadence was slow and even and deeply reassuring.
A sharp bark broke the silence of the room and he looked back at Rodney. He took in his body language and tried to figure out what the scientist was trying to say. It seemed McKay had managed to figure out his feet and was sitting, ears perked forward towards him and eyes direct. If he had to label the position, he would say the man was curious.
Chuffing slightly, John tried to shrug. Canine bodies weren’t designed for the motion, but from the gusty sigh McKay let out, he got the idea.
John turned his attention back to the door to the isolation room as someone attempted to open it. Yipping softly, he jerked his chin at the door and Rodney looked over at it.
Nodding purposefully, McKay stood up and walked over to stand between the gurneys where Teyla and Ronon lay.
Only when he was in place did John let the door open.
“About time that opened,” Beckett muttered as he walked in. He had his head down and was fiddling with a set of vials. “Sandra? I need you in here to help me draw blood from AR-1.”
John growled softly at the sight. He could feel his hackles going up as Beckett stopped abruptly and then started backing up.
“What?” Beckett yelped. “Marine! I need a marine in the isolation room!” Beckett called as he hurriedly exited the room.
John leaned into Atlantis and pushed the request to have the city lock the door and only allow himself or Lorne to open it. Turning his head, he checked his team. Teyla and Ronon were still unconscious and Rodney was growling softly at the door.
Barking lowly, John tried to ask a question about what had just happened.
From the sneeze Rodney let out, he had no idea either.
“Dr. Weir, we need to let the SGC know what’s happened with AR-1,” Lorne suggested as he walked into her office. Nothing in any of the reports he’d read from any of the SG teams had suggested that this was possible. It had to be something that the Ancients had come up with.
“I’ve already got a report started,” Weir admitted. “Are you certain they’ve turned into wolves?”
Lorne nodded once. “Dr. Beckett offered the generic canid, and Dr. Biro suggested wolves. As far as I know, we don’t have complete certainty at this time. I expect we’ll get a confirmation on that soon. Colonel Sheppard did wake up after AR-1 had been placed in the isolation room and he seemed like he had his facilities, but our interaction was very brief.”
“Well, that sounds promising?” Weir offered. She sounded dubious about the whole thing and Lorne tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. She hadn’t talked to the colonel and it was her job to question. It just pissed him off that she questioned the military a lot. “Should we have Dr. Heightmeyer do an assessment?”
“It might be best if we do,” Lorne agreed reluctantly. “I want to get back to medical to stand by if AR-1 needs anything before too much longer.”
The nod Weir gave him felt forced. “I think that’s wise. Before you head off? Do we know if they will be changing back to their human forms?”
“I have no idea, ma’am. But when we found them on M9S-921 they were human and there was no indication that they’d ever been wolves,” Lorne reminded her. “I can’t see that their clothes would have survived the transformation.”
“Right. Do you think we should go back to M9S-921 to see if there are any clues as to what happened? In light of this new information?” Weir asked.
“There was nothing there, ma’am. We checked and Dr. Zelenka went over the readings to see if there was anything we missed,” Lorne reminded her. “Nothing came up. We even checked to see if there was a ZPM that had been drained, nothing. The facility ran on solar energy and every single panel we saw was broken.”
“There goes that idea,” Weir muttered as she sat back in her chair. “Do we have any idea what’s happening with them?”
“Not a bit,” Lorne confirmed. He tapped the band-aid he had on his arm. “I gave several vials of blood to Dr. Beckett for review since I’ve been working closely with Colonel Sheppard over the last two weeks. If there was something that was environmental here in the city, my blood should show it.”
“Good thinking,” Weir admitted. She tapped her fingers on her desk. “We’ve got no idea what happened, do we?”
“No ma’am,” Lorne said gently. “But I need to contact the SGC to let them know that Colonel Sheppard has been disabled.”
“Okay, so. You are going to head back to the isolation room, we’ll both write our reports, and then meet back here in an hour to call the SGC?” Weir asked. She checked her watch and paused. “That would put the time at the SGC at around 0800 and Landry should be available.”
“Which in turn means that General O’Neill will be available in DC,” Lorne finished. He nodded once. “Okay, I’ll be back here in an hour, Dr. Weir.”
Lorne nodded once at her before he turned on his heel and headed out. He had to pick up his laptop and then head to the isolation room to talk to his CO and get an update from Bates.
“What in the hell did you think you were doing?” Lorne asked as he stood in front of the isolation room door. He’d gotten an earful from Bates and none of it had been good.
“I needed and still need blood to figure out what is going on with them. That means I need to get it from them in this form as well as their human form,” Beckett snapped. He waved a hand at the door. “One of them snarled at me when I approached them.”
“You walked into the isolation room we placed them in to keep them safe without announcing yourself, without confirming if they were awake or if they had their facilities. You wanted one of my marines to shoot them with a zat or a Wraith stunner so they would be unconscious and you could take their blood. Have you tried talking to them?” Lorne asked acidly.
“They’re animals, Major. There’s no reasoning with them and I need to get blood so I can get my tests done,” Beckett protested.
“How would you know if they are or aren’t strictly animals? Why don’t we go up to the observation level of the iso room and check?” Lorne demanded. He waved a hand at the stair and smiled grimly. He wasn’t going to move until Beckett started up the stairs and even then, he was going to follow behind the Scot, Fuck if he could figure out what the man was thinking from his actions.
“Fine!” Beckett huffed before heading up the stairs. “When this is shown to be bullshite, I want you to stun them so I can get blood.”
Lorne shared a speaking look with Bates and followed behind Beckett. He had to trust that Bates would make sure that there was nothing on hand that the doctor could use to complete his plans. As he entered the room, he found Beckett standing in front of the window, glaring down the four wolves lying on the gurneys. Reaching out, he hit the intercom. “Colonel, Dr. McKay, Teyla, Ronon. How are you doing?”
The wolf he remembered as being Sheppard looked up at and sneezed before he yawned. The one lying on McKay’s clothes followed suit. Ronon and Teyla didn’t do anything.
Snorting softly, Lorne nodded. “So, I take it you’re bored, sir?”
Both wolves gave definite nods before they turned their attention to Beckett and Lorne could see their body language change. He wasn’t close enough to confirm if there was any lip curling, but if he had to put an emotional name to it, neither of them was happy with him.
“Why are we bothering with this?” Beckett asked. He turned his back on the window and stared at Lorne. “I need to get blood from all four of them to be able to isolate what happened to them. If you won’t help me get it, I’ll pull the zoologist we have on staff in to come in and pull it.”
“You realize that the four people down there are our coworkers and friends, right? One of them is your boss. And they understand what’s happening,” Lorne pressed.
“There’s not enough brain in those skulls for their human intelligence to have transferred,” Beckett snapped back. He seemed agitated and Lorne had no idea what was going on in his head. “We don’t even know if they’ll be able to transform back. In the meantime, I need to get samples from all four of them to determine what’s happened to them.”
Lorne stared at Beckett for several seconds before he flicked a quick glance at Sheppard. The colonel was staring up at the window, lips pulled back in a growl and his hackles were raised. Standing at his shoulder were the other three wolves, and they were all mirroring Sheppard’s stance.
“No, Doctor. You won’t be taking samples from them. You won’t be calling anyone in. You’re off their case and I want you to transfer everything to Dr. Biro,” Lorne decided.
Beckett stood still for several seconds before he roundly cursed him out and stormed out of the room.
“For fuck’s sake,” Lorne bitched. He turned towards the window and stared down at AR-1. “I think he forgot everything in here’s recorded. Anyway. I’m going to write my report and then head up to let the SGC know what’s happened. If you could possibly change back while that’s happening, that’d be great.”
The four wolves slowly sat down and then Sheppard’s tail moved once before he relaxed completely. With him standing down, the other three did as well and Lorne sighed. “I didn’t think so. Okay, sir.”
Turning back to his laptop, Lorne fired it up and pulled up his report software. Time to fill out the oh-so-wonderful ‘Involuntary transformation by unknown method’ form. He hadn’t had to use it in ages.
“Master Sergeant Harriman, this is Major Evan Lorne,” Lorne announced as the connection between Atlantis and the SGC steadied. “I have several reports that need to be reviewed immediately and passed onto General O’Neill.”
Harriman nodded once. “Should I pass this along to General Landry?” he asked as he moved his hands out of view of the camera.
“General Landry has been cc’d on the reports, Master Sergeant,” Lorne explained. “But this really needs General O’Neill’s deft touch and frankly, the IOA is also going to be informed and since he’s currently in charge of Homeworld?”
“Right. Best he be informed before they are,” Harriman confirmed.
Lorne looked at Chuck and raised an eyebrow at him. “Message packet has been sent, sir.”
He glanced back at the screen to see Harriman nodding. “Message packet has been received and I’ll send General O’Neill his mail with the highest priority. Will there be anything else?”
“Not right now,” Lorne admitted. He eyed the time on the computer and did some quick mental math. “We’ll call back in about four hours.”
“Understood,” Harriman said. “SGC out.”
Lorne waved a hand at Chuck and the gate tech killed the connection between galaxies. “Call me if I’m not up here at least five minutes before time.”
“Will do, sir,” Chuck promised. He made a note in the log and then highlighted it to make sure it wasn’t missed. “Dr. Weir did message me requesting to speak with you when you were done with your call.”
“Hell of a long-distance call that,” Lorne muttered before turning towards Weir’s office. “Hopefully this won’t take too long.”
“Thank you for coming over here, Major,” Weir said as soon as Lorne walked in. She pressed a button on her desk and the door behind him closed. “I wanted to talk to you about a disturbing report I got from Carson.”
Weir waved a hand at the chair in front of her desk. “Please take a seat.”
“Could you enlighten me on the report you received, ma’am?” Lorne asked.
“Dr. Beckett states that you’ve blocked him from investigating what’s happened to Colonel Sheppard and his team,” Weir said. She glanced down at her computer and frowned. “He also states that you’ve directed him to turn over all information on to Dr. Biro, his second.”
“I did,” Lorne confirmed. “What else does Dr. Beckett have to say?”
Weir looked briefly startled as he confirmed the information without a fuss. Not like he could hide what he’d done and he wasn’t going to try. “He states that AR-1 have reverted to their animal nature and at this time, he has no idea if they’ll come out of it.”
“Uhm, no,” Lorne interrupted. “If you remember, I mentioned that I believed Colonel Sheppard was fully cognizant when I spoke to him before our first meeting. I was able to confirm that when I saw them the second time. I also reviewed the security recordings of the isolation room AR-1 was placed in. Dr. Beckett had been warned that they might wake up disoriented and possibly aggressive. He entered the room without any warnings and demanded assistance in drawing blood from AR-1. I know for a fact that he doesn’t do this when he’s dealing with humans. When confronted with this behavior, he stated that they were animals and there was no reasoning with them. AR-1 was not amused, and made it known.”
“I haven’t gotten Kate to go down and do an assessment yet,” Weir admitted. “The lack of official confirmation of their sentience and sapience might be coloring his opinion.”
“Whether they are purely animals or not, ma’am, they are still people who he’s known for years and he’s acting as if their transformation makes their rights to body autonomy irrelevant,” Lorne snapped. “If all it takes is a little non-consensual transformation to make our CMO act like we’re test subjects for him to experiment on, that’s not good. Not good at all.”
“Ouch,” Weir muttered as she contemplated his point.
“And if he’s like this with people he’s known as human for years, what is he honestly like with anyone else?” Lorne pressed. “I know he’s pulled off some major saves here in Pegasus, but at what cost?”
“I… I don’t know,” Weir admitted. “I know he’s got some private research, but most of the science department does as well.”
“But for most of our scientists, they aren’t potentially playing with the genetic code for Humans or Wraith,” Lorne reminded. “And he’s already shown that he can manipulate a virus to make humans inedible to Wraith.”
“It had a 50% efficacy rate,” Weir murmured. “Carson was devastated when the Hoffans used it. He wanted to keep refining it so it was above 95%, but they jumped the gun.”
Lorne winced at that news. He’d read the after-action report for that mission and Sheppard had spared no one is detailing what a clusterfuck it had been. It was one of many reasons why he had decided to make sure Beckett’s interactions with AR-1 were monitored. “And he was kept from doing so because of what?”
“We decided that there was no reason to go further with it,” Weir admitted with a grimace. “The decision was made by John, Rodney, and myself. We didn’t think he could improve on what the Hoffans had done and we didn’t want him looking into any further ways to make people inedible to the Wraith because the process seemed to be a good way to kill most of a population.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” Lorne admitted.
“Yeah, and then we heard that Hoff was culled like Sateda had been. While there are some of the Hoff still in this galaxy, most of them are dead. Their quest to be safe from the Wraith backfired,” Weir continued with a grimace. “When we told Carson that, he seemed to be okay with setting the research aside.”
Lorne cocked his head to the side as he thought that over. “But we don’t know.”
“We don’t. And with his attitude towards AR-1, I’m not too sure about what else he’s capable of,” Weir said. “If he’s acting like this with friends…”
“Keeping him away from AR-1 while they’re transformed seems like a better bet, ma’am. And Dr. Biro can easily do the blood draws,” Lorne offered. “Speaking of.” He held up on finger and toggled his comm. “Lorne here.”
“Major, this is Sgt. Stackhouse. Dr. Biro wants to go into the isolation room to see if she can get the samples needed to compare against what we have from AR-1 when they were human. We’re in the observation room and once we get the okay from you, we’ll be using the intercom in here to ask AR-1 if they’re cool with it,” Stackhouse reported.
“I’m good with this,” Lorne confirmed. “Let me know if there are any issues and request that Dr. Biro sends me a copy of the initial report on what tests have already been done. I’ll be talking to the SGC about this in about 3.5 hours and I’m going to need all the information I can get to deal with them.”
“Yes, sir. We’ll get right to that,” Stackhouse confirmed. “While you were talking, Dr. Biro checked in with AR-1 to see if they would be good with her getting the samples. They’ve allowed her into the room. She seems like she’s only collecting some saliva and some skin cells. No blood. Also, the wolf I’m guessing is Colonel Sheppard still has an active ATA gene because he looked at the door and it opened.”
“Huh,” Lorne grunted. “Thank you for the update, Sergeant. Please contact me if there are any issues.”
“Yes, sir!” Stackhouse agreed.
Lorne turned back to Weir and smiled. “So, some information to add to the column that states AR-1 are themselves, just furry… That was Sgt. Stackhouse. It seems Dr. Biro is at the point where she needs to get samples from AR-1. Stackhouse states that Colonel Sheppard still has an active ATA gene since he opened the door to let Biro in.”
“Well, isn’t that something,” Weir mused. She leaned back in her chair and let it rock from side to side. “Please keep me updated.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Lorne confirmed. He stood up and headed down to the mess. It had been hours since everything had gone to hell and AR-1 had to be hungry. He was.
“Sir?” Cooper called from the depths of the galley.
Lorne walked up to the door leading to the depths of her territory and poked his head in. “I need your help!”
“That does not sound good, sir,” Cooper cautioned. “What can I do for you?”
“It’s nothing that will get you in trouble. I need to get about five to seven pounds of great beast meat delivered for each member of AR-1 in medical. In chunks that a wolf could eat,” Lorne requested.
“So, the rumors I’ve been hearing about a transformation incident have some teeth?” Cooper asked as she waved him in.
“Yup,” Lorne confirmed. He walked in carefully. He’d been in there before, but not enough to know what happened in the depths of it.
“Should I add bones to the bowls?” Cooper asked as she ushered him down a hallway. “Or organ meat?”
“Let’s not,” Lorne suggested. “As best as I can confirm, they have their own minds, and I’m not too sure that they’d be comfortable gnawing on a raw bone. And the thought of raw organ meat? Just no.”
“Right, that would gross me out too,” Cooper muttered. She opened a door labeled ‘meat’ and picked up a bucket from a stack beside the door.
Lorne looked down into the remaining stack of steel buckets. They were all scrupulously clean, but he had to know. “Why buckets?”
Cooper pulled a set of nitrile gloves out of her pocket and started loading her bucket full of red meat. “Because we have two hundred and fifty plus people on Atlantis and I gave up on using the same pans I use on the steam tables. Bunches of five-gallon buckets work a treat. And since they’re metal, we can sanitize them to hell and back.”
She picked up the bucket and moved it up and down, obviously weighing it in her mind. “Are you sure that the amounts for each are correct?” she asked.
“I checked before I came over with the biologists and they mentioned a wolf can eat up to twenty pounds in a sitting, but for daily meals, five to seven pounds is about right.”
“Okay, sir, we can swing that,” Cooper said. “If they seem like they’re hungry, please let me know so I can send more up?”
“I’m sure that Ronon and the colonel will be eating more than Dr. McKay or Teyla,” Lorne offered. “They are the bigger wolves from what I can see.”
“Do you really think the colonel will take food away from his team if they seem like they need it?” Cooper asked. She pulled a second out and placed it on a scale before hitting some buttons and then swapped out the buckets. The full one was put into place and she eyed the display. “Having too much is better than not enough, I think,” she muttered before she added a few more pounds.
“Is that going to leave us short?” Lorne asked as he eyed the contents of the room. The room was cold and he was starting to feel the urge to shiver.
Cooper flashed him a reassuring smile. “No, sir. We’ve got plenty. I can add more vegetables to the meal to make up for any lack.”
Lorne nodded once. “Okay, you know what you’re doing on this. Do you think they might want any vegetables?”
“Canids, at least the domestic ones, eat vegetables because we put them in their food. I’m not 100% certain if wolves will be able to tolerate vegetable matter on a larger scale beyond what might contaminate any meat they eat,” Cooper said after several seconds of thought. “It might be wise to just go with the meat as is and we can research more as we need to.”
“Okay, that sounds like a plan. Can you hold this in here while I get food for myself? And do we have smaller bowls to be able to serve them?” Lorne asked.
“We can use trays, sir,” Cooper suggested. “I’ll have Jones walk down with you so you don’t have to worry about parceling out the meals and carrying the bucket back.”
Lorne let lose a slow sigh of relief. “Thank you, Chief.”
Cooper flashed him a smile and pulled her gloves off before she covered the bucket with a metal lid. Using a dry erase marker, she labeled the bucket and ushered him out of the room. “I’ll get the trays; you go warm up and get yourself a meal. I’ll also have Jones bring bowls and water.”
“Right,” Lorne said before he headed back out of the kitchen. A quick run through the line scored him enough hot food that he was going to be full to the gills if he finished it all. Just as he was filling up a second glass of juice, Jones appeared at his side with a loaded cart. “Ready when you are, MS1.”
“Lead on, sir. Want me to add your tray to the cart?” Jones asked.
Lorne eyed the arrangement and then shook his head. “As much as I know the way is smooth, I don’t want to spill my meal all over theirs and make a mess.”
Jones nodded and started pushing the cart towards an exit. “Aye, sir.”
Lorne started to follow and didn’t blink when Cooper walked by him and dropped a dome lid on his meal to keep it warm. “Thank you, Cooper.”
“You’re welcome, sir!” she called as she headed back into the mess.
When Jones saw the dome, he snickered softly. “Cooper got you?”
“She’s the biggest worrywart on the city,” Lorne said by way of agreement.
As they entered medical Lorne saw Biro was waiting for him at the door. A quick check with her confirmed she needed to get a blood sample from each member of AR-1 for testing. He handed his tray to Stackhouse and knocked on the door firmly. It took only seconds before the door was opened and Sheppard was sitting in front of it, staring at him pointedly.
“Yes, sir,” Lorne said with a sigh. “I’m sorry if we didn’t mention it earlier, but Dr. Biro has been placed in charge of your case. She needs to draw blood from each of you so she can run some additional tests.” At the low growl Sheppard let out, he held out a hand. “Beckett has been taken off the whole thing, sir. We won’t be pushing it, but you know she needs it so we can figure out what’s happened to you.”
Sheppard chuffed once and then sneezed before he moved out of the way. As he stepped to the side, his gaze lit on Jones, and his ears pricked forward.
“MS1 has water, bowls, meat, and some trays to place it on so you can eat and hydrate,” Lorne explained. “After Biro gets her samples, I’ll stay in here and brief all of you on what’s been happening.” He checked his watch and confirmed the time. “I have about two and a half hours before I need to get back to the gate so I can report to the SGC as to what’s been going on.”
There were three other barks at that and he turned to see the rest of AR-1 moving to stand around him. “Colonel? Do you want to go first?”
Biro walked over to where Sheppard’s clothes were lying on his gurney. “Colonel? I promise I’ll be as gentle as I can.”
The sigh Sheppard let out was put upon, but he gamely hopped up onto the gurney and laid down with one leg positioned for ease of access. He turned his head and watched as Jones laid down the meat and water.
“The meat is great beast,” Jones explained as he set it out. “Given that the best guess is that you four are wolves, we didn’t want to give you food that might cause problems with your current physiology. And since no one in here seems to have thought of it, we brought water too.”
Ronon eyed him carefully as he parceled out four shares of meat. Jones made sure that there were equal amounts on each tray before taking a handful of the water and drinking it. Once it was down, he carefully poured each of the bowls full. “I’m not trying the raw meat, wolf. I’m not into steak tartare.”
“Ronon, I watched as Chief Cooper pulled the meat out of the fridge. It’s the stuff she was going to use in today’s meals,” Lorne called. He took his tray and settled on the floor to start eating his meal. When McKay sniffed at his meal, he carefully pushed him out of the way, not flinching at the involuntary growl he let out. “Seriously, McKay, you have your dinner. This is mine.”
McKay huffed at him before he turned back to the meat. Teyla sniffed at him lightly before she shouldered Ronon to the side to get her share of the meat. McKay took two bites of his meal before he turned to the water and started drinking from the bowl. When Sheppard barked at them, he turned away from his water to see Biro standing by his gurney.
The sigh he let out was utterly McKay and Lorne laughed softly as he started on his entrée. McKay easily hopped up on his bed and settled in for his blood draw as the colonel dropped down from the gurney. Sheppard carefully inspected each bowl of food before he stared at his tray and then at Stackhouse.
Stackhouse laughed softly as he bent over to pick up the tray. “Sure, sir. I’ll move your bowl over by Major Lorne so you can get your briefing.”
“Right,” Lorne cleared his throat and started to explain everything that had happened since AR-1 had transformed into their new forms. It took almost an hour to get everything out with Biro chiming in on the parts of the story that concerned medical, but everyone was updated.
While the debrief was happening, Ronon and Teyla got their blood draws as well. Lorne was relieved to note that none of the wolves got snappy with Biro as she inserted her needles. When she left, the four of them relaxed even further. As he started to wind down on the debrief, they laid down to listen, each of them focused intently on him as he talked. The evidence of their sentience was piling up for him and he remembered what Weir had promised. “Stackhouse, has Heightmeyer been by?”
“No, sir, she has not,” Stackhouse confirmed.
“Fuck,” Lorne cursed under his breath before taking a deep breath and triggering his comm. “Dr. Heightmeyer, this is Major Lorne. I need you to come down to the isolation room in medical.”
“I’ll be right there, Major,” Heightmeyer said before the line went dead.
“Sir, you need to actually cooperate with her for this evaluation to be useful,” Lorne cautioned as Sheppard mimed vomiting. The knock on the door to medical happened only a few minutes after his call and he snorted softly in amusement. “She had to have run all the way here.”
McKay snorted once and then glanced at the door. Lorne watched as it slid open without any prompting from him. “Go you.”
“Major Lorne, you wanted me here?” Heightmeyer asked.
“Have you been kept up to date on what’s been happening with AR-1?” he asked.
“I know that there was an issue with possible transformations, but I was waiting on medical or Dr. Weir to call me down to evaluate them,” Heightmeyer confirmed.
Lorne wanted to say that he was shocked at that, but he really wasn’t. “Well, Dr. Weir promised me that she would call you, but it seems that she hasn’t. So, I need you to do a quick eval of all four members of AR-1 before I have a meeting with the SGC in an hour.”
“Yes, sir,” Heightmeyer agreed. She settled on the floor not too far away from him and looked over her patients. “Can I get a confirmation of who is who?”
“Sure, doc,” Lorne agreed. He quickly pointed each of them out and she nodded as their ears pricked forward at the sound of their names. Sipping on his coffee, he settled in to watch as she did her thing. When she didn’t object, he relaxed further. Eying his watch, he tried to prepare for the meeting to come.
“SGC, this is Atlantis,” Lorne announced into the open line.
“Atlantis, this is General O’Neill. I have General Landry standing by with me, along with Dr. Lam and Dr. Jackson. Do you have an update from your last report?” O’Neill’s voice came over the line like a wave of calm.
Lorne could feel the knot of panic he’d carried since he’d seen his CO’s new form relax. As much shit as they got into in Pegasus, SG1, and O’Neill had gotten into massively more in the Milky Way. He could trust O’Neill to give him good advice on what to do next.
“Yes, sir, I do,” Lorne agreed. He settled in to give his report. He had thirty minutes to get it all out. Plenty of time.