So I Married A Chair
Story 11 - A Less-Than-Awesome Time Pt 2
Somewhere deep in the literal bowels of Atlantis, two men were squirming and trying to hold their breath at the same time. The scientist of the pair kept crying out in a garbled mix of English and Czech, finally settling on the continued shouting of, “Jezis! Jezis!”
“Shut up!” Bates hurled back to Zelenka. “We need to figure out how to get of this mess.”
Radek subsided only a little, splashing even more of Atlantis’ raw sewage over his companion. Just a minute ago, they had been attempting to navigate their way through the ventilation system of the city, before it had miraculously dumped them in this cesspool. The Sergeant found himself sinking even further into the muck, and scowled darkly. He growled, “I should have just used the damn C4.”
Zelenka whimpered. “Something touched my leg.”
Oh…great. Something else to worry about. Bates tried to fight the rising panic in his chest. Luckily for him, anger was still strong enough to fight back the urge to howl and scream like McKay locked away from power bars. The fumes of the sewage were strong enough to bring tears to his eyes, distorting his vision so much that he thought the woman standing in front of him must be a trick of his vision.
“I wish my husband would consult with me before doing things like this,” she told Bates conversationally.
He coughed. “Zelenka, can you look over here a minute?”
“Ne, I think I must be hallucinating,” Radek muttered. “I see a woman.”
The specter couldn’t possibly be real – for one, she was adorned in a white dress that was entirely unspoiled from the surroundings. And for another, she was painfully beautiful with long auburn tresses flecked with gold that showered from her crown. Her smile made Bates instantly forget where he was, and her voice washed over him sweetly. “I am really here, and I am going to help you escape. Really, you shouldn’t be here in the first place. But my love is very impulsive when it comes to protecting me.”
“You’re not single,” Bates found himself stating in undisguised disappointment.
She laughed at that and shook her head. A humming noise sounded overhead, and a two pronged metal bar hovered just within arm’s length. Neither man needed to be prompted twice – both Zelenka and Bates reached up and latched onto the bar. The blue shimmer of gripping shields zipped over them, until holding on was no bother at all. The bar rose up above the collected sewage.
The woman floated alongside them, looking a little cross. But she was amiable in trying to distract them from the brown gunk below. It also became obvious to Bates that she was pregnant. “I am called Nena. I’m very sorry this happened; this experience will not repeat itself.”
“You are married?” Zelenka prompted.
“Oh. Yes. My consort, the one who put you here. I love him very much.”
Bates frowned. “It’s not Lieutenant Ford is it?”
“Why would you think he was human?” Nena asked, suddenly guarded. “I am the entity of Atlantis.”
“Sheppard?” Bates chanced again.
“No! Please, stop guessing. I must leave you now. I have already drawn too much power from the city in saving you.”
Her form shimmered away from sight. Zelenka and Bates shared quizzical looks. Finally, the scientist gave a little chuckle. “Very strange, no?”
Bates decided not to answer that. In fact, he said nothing more until they were safely crouched in the ventilation shaft, hurrying back towards daylight. And then it was only to have another go at Zelenka’s loud breathing.
“We need to talk!” Carson stormed into the less known chair room, “NOW!”
He leaped into the chair, quickly bringing it to life. The initial response to his outburst was cold silence, drawing on further still even though his telepathic communication to her was raging with panic and fury. His fingers clenched in the control jellies, shaking uncontrollably. The silence abated some of his anger.
I told you not to keep me waiting.
“Are ye daft, Nena? Ye as good as told them everything! And draining the power in our weakened state…”
Carson. It is not in my nature to idly sit by and let people suffer.
Carson closed his eyes and sighed, leaning back even more into the chair. “I shouldn’t have done it, aye, but I was afraid for ye. For us. And our daughter.”
I know. But there are other ways to protect me. And you did leave me waiting, just as I was getting in the mood.
Now that he was relaxing against her warmth, Carson could feel her disgruntled urgency. He opened his eyes and grinned vaguely up at the ceiling. After a moment, he leaned forward just enough to shrug off his jacket. “Don’t ye think it will draw too much power?”
On the contrary. It will help to bolster the systems.
“Typical randy Ancients.”
Zelenka was having his fair share of hallucinations today, so he wasn’t terribly surprised when he thought his screen clearly read that a shield had suddenly swarmed around Atlantis with painstaking brightness. He glanced nervously to his side, where Grodin was performing some usual ‘gate diagnostics. Abruptly, the dialing tablets erupted in a bright spiral of light before dimming. The shield crackled and died.
“Brief power spike,” Zelenka decided out loud.
Grodin frowned. “Where from?”
The Czech shifted his gaze away and worriedly checked out his data. His eyes widened when he discovered the origin was the same place that had been previously draining power – and had since returned to doing so. He cleared his very dry throat, and whispered, “No, no, not going there. Never again.”
The disturbingly fresh smell of sewage returned to his nostrils.
Carson knew lunchtime was approaching quickly, judging by the low rumbling in his stomach. Alone, he walked from the infirmary with his hands resting in his pockets. He was early enough that he expected only to find Rodney on his usual warm-up feast, but instead found all of Major Sheppard’s team crowded around a table. Even more out of place were the conspiratorial whispers being traded between them, not the bawdy arguments that Carson had come to expect.
“Over here, doc!” Ford called.
Trepidation beginning to buzz uncomfortably against the collar of his lab coat, Carson accepted the offer and drew up a chair. John tapped his metal cup against the table. “Okay, I bring this session of the Society for the Protection of the Knowledge of Doing Sordid Things to Chairs to order. First matter of business – Teyla knows.”
It took a moment for all of this to sink in, but it was Rodney who first broke the silence. “Could you be more childish? John, I thought we agreed on the Justice League.”
“I’m sorry, wha’?” Carson snapped nervously. “Teyla knows what?”
The Athosian offered a reassuring smile. “Do not fear. I apologise that I pressured Major Sheppard into telling me your secret, but you can trust that I will not speak of it beyond this circle.”
Peculiarly, a wave of warm relief passed over Carson. He was glad that she knew now. Glancing around at the four closest friends a man could ask for, he was able to return Teyla’s smile. John straightened in his seat. “Second matter of business. Ford?”
“The sewage trick worked, so we’ll use it again,” Aiden reported. “I doubt anyone will take another look until after the Wraith have blown us out of the water.”
Rodney winced. “Please. You think that’s all they’re going to do?”
“No, which is precisely my next point,” Sheppard said calmly.
He nodded sideways to Teyla, who inclined her head seriously to the others around the table. There was hesitation flickering in her eyes, until the Major repeated his nod, this time with a lopsided grin. Feeling more secure, she spoke softly, “I believe that the Wraith’s intent on capturing Atlantis has as much to do with the entity herself as with reaching Earth. For the past few nights, I have had nightmares about the Wraith. It is as if I can sense their intent, and it seems to be related to the second chair room.”
“My daughter,” Carson murmured. “Nena said she had sworn her revenge through human form. Now they want to kill my daughter.”
John put in at this point, “I’m a little worried about Teyla getting these nightmares. Is there a chance that she can really sense the Wraith?”
The king of Atlantis looked squarely across at the Athosian, and she returned the stare. Throwing out his awareness towards her, and drawing upon the life signs detector sitting dormant in the control room, Carson probed her life signature. He drew back sharply as his senses exploded into a cold aftershock. Regaining himself, he cautioned, “I am sorry to say this, my dear…but I sense Wraith inside you.”
“While it is not common among my people,” Teyla said to this. “Some of us have been able to tell when the Wraith are coming. Perhaps it is an inherited trait.”
“I’d like to do some blood work, if ye don’ mind,” Carson probed gently.
The Major visibly shuddered. “I don’t like where you’re going with that. Anyway, you and Teyla can work on that while I’m away. Gotta check out the alpha site.”
“Major.” Teyla’s calm evaporated.
“Don’t you ‘Major’ me, Teyla. You’re wound up too tightly at the moment. Ford, with me.”
Ford and Sheppard left the table. Even Rodney seemed in a hurry to leave, offering his quick apology. “Zelenka wants to tinker with the main chair and someone has to show him how it actually works. If you don’t mind, Carson, I’d like you to pop by when you’re done with all the scary Wraith stuff.”
“Will do, lad.”
Some hours later, Carson found himself pacing beside his chair. He reached out to grasp it, frowning as he stated, “I don’t like this. She has Wraith DNA. What if this makes her vulnerable to their control?”
Do you doubt her sincerity as a friend to us? Can you truly look down upon someone with different genetics than yours?
Chagrined, he shook his head. There was a slightly dangerous tone to her voice, and he knew it was her insecurities resurfacing. How many times did he have to tell her, he didn’t care? Moving over to the other chamber containing his daughter, Carson pressed his palms against the pod and breathed condensation of its glass.
“It’s jus’ too convenient, love,” he whispered.
The door to the corridor slid open, admitting Teyla Emmagan. It took several moments before Beckett’s heart could quiet from its brief panic. Taking a deep breath, he turned to Teyla. “Did you find the planet Charin spoke of?”
“Yes, but it held more questions than answers,” Teyla answered, unsettled. “If I am truly connected to the Wraith, then I can use this to discover their strategy, and exploit it. I would like to try this on the Wraith in the holding cell.”
“Ye can’t – ”
“Do not tell me what I cannot do. I will do this, because I feel useless otherwise. I see the way that people look at me now that they know what I am. I need your help, Dr Beckett.”
Carson nodded. “Then I will give it.”
Bob the Wraith watched with glittering eyes as Teyla arranged herself on the floor, crossing her legs and relaxing her shoulders. The cushions surrounding her had been brought from her quarters by Carson, not quite softening the appearance of the electric shock machine. After spending some long minutes studying the Athosian as she prepared herself, Bob turned to the doctor.
“The consort of Atlantis,” he hissed. “You are even weaker than I imagined. Even more foolish, as well.”
Carson ignored him. He would not rise to the bait, as he had done with the other Wraith. Forcing himself to think of long arguments with Englishmen regarding football teams, something that was a great deal more calming, he crouched beside Teyla and kept his hand on the knobs of the machine. He queried quietly, “Are ye sure ye don’t want John here?”
“I am sure,” Teyla said too quickly.
“Okay then, love. Don’t be afraid to stop.”
The Athosian drew in a deep breath, filling her lungs and her very being with the quiet energy that came from all things, even in the middle of an artificial structure. The coolness of the cell slid over her skin at first, then disappeared along with any other discomfit. Teyla drew in several more long breaths, and hovered away from the faint whirring of the machine next to her. Soon she felt nothing, heard nothing. But she could sense her own self, coiled beneath her skin, being wrapped within the outside energies.
Only then did she reach for the coldness already unfurling in her stomach. It was a feeling she knew so well, burned into her memory from when her father was taken. Rising up her throat like frozen bile, it threatened to overwhelm, but she focused it away from her core, towards the mind of the Wraith.
“What are you doing human?” The Wraith sounded amused. “Trying to see into my mind?”
Teyla was too far gone to respond physically. Her eyes and ears were immersed suddenly in the cold darkness of the Wraith’s presence, and she could see it staring right back at her with menacing eyes. But then she was trapped in echoing laughter, drowning out everything but the agony of the voice scratching with mirth.
“Teyla!” Carson cried when she convulsed.
He shot some of the electrical current down into her, until she gasped and opened her eyes. Teyla’s hand shot out to clutch his arm. She ordered, “Again. I almost had it.”
“I don’t think ye should, he’s already got one over ye.”
“Carson,” she fixed her eyes on him, “please. I know I can do this.”
He sighed, keeping their gazes locked. After a while, he nodded and settled back away from her. Teyla closed her eyes and her breathing evened out. Once again, she reached for a meditative state. Bob sneered at her, but she appeared not to be the focus of his thoughts. He stared impassively at Carson. “We will destroy you. We will destroy your child. Then we will control the entity.”
Beckett ground his teeth, feeling winded. Come on, Teyla, don’t let me down.
The Wraith jerked his head to the side, with what looked like concern crossing his features. But then he smiled again and added, “This is one also weak. I can snap her mind easily. I see everything she sees, and I know where you hide your offspring. I could make this one walk down there and shoot it. You would not be able to stop me. Maybe I will.”
“No,” Carson managed, terrified.
Teyla’s eyes shot open, but they lacked any of her compassion and warmth. Beckett’s fingers worked on the machine, but no matter what shocks he sent down into Teyla, it would not revive her. Her hollow eyes met his, and a slow wicked leer played out on her face. She stood, towering over him. Bob crowed, “See, consort of Atlantis? I can destroy you right…now.”
Beckett shot to his feet, fists clenched at his side. It didn’t matter if the Wraith killed him, but he couldn’t bear the thought of it exploiting Teyla to get to his daughter. A great ache of loss filled him. Snarling in his throat, he transported himself into the cell and threw himself on top of the Wraith. The lights lining the ceiling exploded, showering sparks down onto the fight.
“Let her go!” Carson shouted. “Yer fight is with me!”
“As you wish, consort.”
Teyla slumped to the ground, face twisted with pain as she slipped between the darkness of unconsciousness and the bright agony of keeping awake. Quickly scanning her body with remote systems, Carson was relieved to feel that she would recover. But now he must keep his thoughts solely focused on the Wraith. He whuffed loudly when he was thrown to the hard floor on his stomach. Rolling over, he narrowly missed having his eyes gouged out.
“I will tear your head from your shoulders!” growled Bob triumphantly.
Blue sparks of electricity began flying around the bars of the cell and Carson dropped back against one wall, collecting the sparks beneath his palms. He was a terrifying sight, as static raced through his hair, teasing it beyond any manageable capacity. The Wraith saw his own reflection in the bright blue eyes boring into him, and ignored the feeling of fear that grew inside it.
Carson said quietly, but dangerously, “I don’t even need to touch ye with my bare hands.”
The electricity rushed passed his body until it slammed into the Wraith, knocking it over. But the king of Atlantis would not stop there. Carson kept shouting words, but he didn’t even know what he was saying. All he saw was the writhing corpse before him, as the smell of sizzled alien flesh reached his nose.
He could have kept going until it was ash, and probably what have done so, had it not been for the stricken demand of Elizabeth Weir – “What is going on here?!”
“Well that depends,” Carson said faintly, “are ye a ketchup person, or do ye prefer a bit of barbeque sauce?”