So I Married A Chair
Story 12 - Yay?
Carson. Wake up, my love.
Swimming up through the darkness clouding his vision, he considered just relaxing his muscles and slipping back into the cool retreat inside his mind. But there was something nagging at him. Slowly, he became aware of the steady beep-beep of a heart rate monitor, and then identified some of the more clinical smells of the infirmary. He must have blacked out. Carson opened his eyes to find Dr Weir leaning over him.
“Teyla?” he asked raspily.
“I am here,” came the Athosian’s voice from one side.
The CMO struggled to sit up, pressing a hand to his burning ribs. He winced, remembering how he’d slammed into the ground. After a quick glance over to ensure that Teyla was alright, he sighed in relief, relaxing a little. Finally, he matched the concerned stare being directed at him. “Elizabeth, I know ye must some questions.”
“‘Some’ doesn’t even begin to cover it,” Elizabeth said bluntly. “What am I supposed to think?”
Carson flinched, reading the mistrust in her eyes. “There isn’t time for this. I’m sorry, love. I need ye to get Major Sheppard for me.”
“Already here,” John announced as he appeared, with Rodney and Ford in tow.
Rodney’s fingers fidgeted over the electronic tablet he was carrying, and he cowed when Elizabeth turned her narrowed eyes to him. He coughed. Sheppard moved forward to Teyla’s side, asking her, “Are they releasing you for active duty soon?”
Teyla nodded. “Yes, but I have some important news. When I was…accessing the Wraith’s mind, I was able to discern which direction they will be attacking us from.”
“Why wasn’t I told about any of this?” Weir demanded. “I am the leader of this expedition, and Teyla’s attempt should have been at least run by me.”
The five of them exchanged guilty glances between themselves, realizing how seriously sprung they were. Carson turned his legs to the side of the bed and tentatively put his weight on them. Watching him suspiciously, Elizabeth continued, “This is not just about things being kept from me – you are deliberately undermining my authority. Especially you, Major. I am not leaving until I have some answers.”
Beckett walked uneasily over to her. “We don’t have much time. I can feel them now, and I’m certain they can feel me.”
“They are aware of me as well,” Teyla added softly. “They feel…as a predator closing in on a cornered prey.”
Rodney looked visibly unsettled. “And we needed to know that why? Look, much as I’ve love to hang around chatting all day, we do have this little problem involving three hive ships. Teyla, can you show me which direction they’ll be using?”
“I will accompany you to the control room, if Dr Weir allows it.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to raise more objections, but her headset crackled to life. She raised her fingers to tap it. “Say again.”
“Um…you might want to come up to the control room,” suggested Grodin’s tinny voice. “A woman just appeared.”
A few minutes ago, the control room had thrummed like a tomb. Those that hard dared to raise their voices above the slightest whisper were frowned upon like rowdy students crowding a library – and sent on their way. Despite the fact that the Wraith were barely two days away, the lack of sleep had dulled all their senses, including the ability to panic properly. It just seemed safer if they all agreed to say nothing, and pretend that their eyes weren’t stretched from being held open too long.
Peter Grodin fiddled nervously with the data that Dr McKay had sent him via the network, detailing certain areas of the city that needed exclusive amounts of power. The information didn’t make any viable sense to him, but perhaps that was because he wasn’t as quite amped up on stimulants as the head scientist was.
He almost jumped out of his chair when Sergeant Bates arrived behind him, demanding to see a list of potential alpha sites. The head of security snapped when questioned, “The alpha site could be compromised right now. The Wraith could be gleaning information from us.”
“You can’t mean Teyla,” Grodin guessed disapprovingly.
“Did I mention any names?”
The technician frowned. “You didn’t have to.”
Despite wanting to take the issue further, Peter preferred the previous oppressive silence and tapped a few keys to bring up a list of viable sites. He pointed unnecessarily. Bates pored over the list briefly. “Alright. Keep that handy.”
“That isn’t very nice,” piped up a familiar voice behind him. “Teyla risked her integrity to find some vital Wraith information.”
Bates spun sharply. “You!”
The woman from the sewage system stood unsteadily in the middle of the control room, resting her hands on her belly and casting stern eyes at him. Her image flickered a few times, becoming fainter with each failure. Grodin’s agape expression moved from his chirping power readings to her, reaching dazedly for his radio.
“Yes, me,” she acknowledged. “I am afraid I cannot let you speak ill of my friends.”
Bates hedged, “You must be sending our intel to the hive ships.”
Her expression soured further, and she whisked forward as a blur in the air to stand barely an arm’s length away. “Would you prefer I left you in the sewers? You jump at shadows, Sergeant Bates! We must all work together if the Wraith are to be repelled.”
Nena paused and drew a few shaky breaths. Concern finally winning against suspicion, Bates took hold of her arms and guided her to lean on the control panel. He ordered someone to bring her water, and then snapped at Grodin to sacrifice his desk chair. As Bates helped her eased down into the chair, Nena finally smiled at him. “I knew you could be a gentleman.”
Bates said lowly, “I have my moments of weakness.”
“Nena, ye stubborn woman!” exclaimed the harried tones of Carson Beckett as he arrived on the heels of Weir and Sheppard.
Bates whipped around to scrutinize the doctor as he raced forward, lab coat flying out behind him and embraced Nena. Titling her face towards her consort, she pressed a kiss just below his left ear and told him firmly, “Do not tell me why I shouldn’t be here. The time for secrets is over.”
“Your husband is Doctor Beckett?” Bates barked out in surprise. “And you want me to believe that he somehow dumped me in the sewer?”
Carson flushed hotly and turned to him. “I hope ye don’t hold it against me. I’m sure ye understand the need for security.”
“And a good laugh,” Ford added, earning himself a scowl.
“This is the woman you said you saw?” Weir asked Bates, who nodded briskly.
Rodney skidded to the console beside Nena and began calibrating the tablet with Grodin’s laptop. His whole face furrowed in brief concentration, until he spun around triumphantly. “Guess what?”
The room answered him with stares of disbelief.
“What? No twenty questions?” Rodney asked smugly. “Alright then. We’re going to use the LeGrange point satellite to blow up the hive ships.”
Again silence met this. The scientist beamed hopefully and offered, “Yay?”
“No, not quite yay.” Nena shook her head. “I have been unable to connect with the satellite for thousands of years. It is damaged beyond my control.”
“Can it be done manually?” Grodin queried, deciding to avoid any confusion and just go with the flow.
Nena considered this. “Yes, if the right repairs are conducted. The weapons system might still be operational.”
“Hold that thought for a minute.” Weir’s voice carried a hint of warning. “We are not taking any further action until someone explains to me what is going on.”
The buzz that had started to build amongst the assembled personnel died abruptly. Nena rested a hand on Rodney’s arm and he helped her stand. Watching this, Bates couldn’t help but wonder how infectious this entity’s good grace was on everyone in the room, from scientists to military. Carson slipped an arm around her waist, and began nervously, “Ye will recall when those darts came…”
“Yes, of course,” Elizabeth prompted suspiciously. “Was that you piloting the ‘Jumper?”
Sheppard coughed. “I believe you have Rodney to thank for that.”
“So we’re taking credit now.” Rodney brightened. “Yay?”
Carson’s lips twitched, possibly curved into a smile. “Aye, but watch who ye tell that to. Elizabeth, this city is more than metal and glass. It is a sentient entity that can control the city’s weapons, and everything else. She is Nena, queen of Atlantis. And I am her king, meaning I share her power.”
“What the doc is neglecting to mention is that she’s mostly a chair,” Ford said wickedly.
Beckett found himself on the receiving end of some peculiar stares, but he didn’t pay attention to those. His wife bowed in greeting. “Doctor Weir, I am more than eager to provide your expedition with the assistance required. While our abilities are compromised by the lack of power, we will do our best with the city’s weapons, although without the three power sources, this will be difficult.”
“Can I trust you?” Elizabeth asked simply.
Nena met her eyes. “I protect not only myself, but the child I carry. I have protected your people long before this day.”
“That’s good enough for me, m’am,” Bates said.
Elizabeth had to agree – especially if the usually hard-headed Sergeant was ready to concede trust to the entity. She held Nena’s gaze for a few moments longer, then nodded. “Alright. Let’s do this. Rodney, who do you need for the satellite?”
“Skeleton crew, probably,” Rodney mused. “So me, Grodin and a pilot. Just so everyone remembers, this was my idea and – ”
“Yay?” suggested Ford.
McKay threw him a scathing look. “A little premature, don’t you think?”
Activity increased exponentially on Atlantis, as the expedition was infused with the desperate energy of having the Wraith so near. The apex of most of this energy gathered in the Puddlejumper hanger as the last pre-flight checks were concluding. Rodney muttered over his PDA, pacing in front of the ramp. Most of it was derived from pure ramblings, but Carson was sure that more than once his friend had uttered “yay”.
“There is a wee chance that if ye repair the uplink,” he told the scientist, “I will be able to reach the satellite.”
Rodney lifted his head from the PDA. “We’ll have this armada sorted out in no time. Watch for the fireworks. If all else fails, feel free to flash your new Wraitho-cuting power.”
“It’s not tha’ easy. The city does not have enough power for it, especially if we’re under attack.”
Rodney wrinkled his nose at this, but made no dissatisfactory comment. He cleared his throat. “Well, Zelenka’s already given me a send off. How about yours?”
“This is not goodbye,” Carson stated, smiling. “This is ‘see you later’.”
“Do you think that’ll work?”
Radek’s mussed hair stuck out from underneath the primary Atlantis chair as he hummed and worked. His eyes appeared briefly, to check the blinking lights on the arm rest. He grunted in satisfaction and submerged himself again, consulting his electronic tablet. He tapped one module on the base of the chair, and waited. Sparks shot out overhead.
“I said I was sorry,” Carson said sincerely, as he winced from the feedback.
One eye peeked from underneath. “Carson, Carson, my ears are hearing you, but not my nose.”
Beckett laughed guiltily at this. He repeated his apology and settled back into the chair, breathing out slowly. A dim blue hummed behind him, weak but definitely enough to make more sparks whiz out of the broken circuit. Zelenka’s feet scrambled as he pulled himself back into daylight. He dusted off his hands. “Loose connection to the power source, which is depleted itself so…not helpful.”
Carson nodded thoughtfully. “Aye, it feels weak. Distant.”
“Is this where you met Nena?” Zelenka asked in a rush.
Blinking in surprise, the CMO focused his attention away from the whirring lights and sensations that made up Atlantis to the face hovering in front of him. Sensing that perhaps he could find some form of forgiveness, Carson responded eagerly. “Of course. But as I got to know the lass, she let me into the other chair room.”
Radek tapped his fingers over his tablet, thinking this over. “Does the other chair room have more powerful connections?”
“Not in the way ye want. This is the primary weapons system – yer lucky that Nena was able to fire these at all when the darts came.”
Zelenka whisked his fingers over the screen of the tablet, recording this information. He paused and rubbed his temples, fighting to keep his eyes open. After a moment, he regained himself. “Sorry, Carson. What were we discussing?”
“Do ye need a short break?” Carson asked, concerned. “We have been at this for a day.”
Radek yawned widely, but shook his head vehemently, eyes wide and glassy. Kneeling down again, he rolled over onto his back and slid underneath the chair. Various tapping and bleeping sounds echoed from where he was working, though many of them were set off deliberately by Carson to help him keep awake. Sighing, the king of Atlantis titled back his head and studied the ceiling intently. Although he could feel Nena floating throughout the walls and windows of the city, he missed her presence surrounding him. They had divided the systems between themselves, though he controlled more so that she could look after their daughter.
Then the whispers started, quiet at first. They were so much like the other voices of Atlantis that they disappeared in the tide of errors and patch-ups. But soon they grew to shouts of alarm, signaling abysmal failing systems. Carson jerked in the chair as blaring klaxons filled his mind, shaking him to the core.
Nena, where is it coming from?!
It is…not from here, she replied slowly, The satellite.
“Rodney must have repaired the uplink,” Carson said out loud.
Radek shot up beside him. “Really? This is good news. Can you access the satellite systems?”
Whispers returned, dispersing though he tried to grasp them with the tendrils of his own mind. Carson seized upon the strongest line he could fine and cried out as blood red images burned into his eyes. His hands flew up to cover his face and gasped, “Oh God, the hive ships are there, they’re right there…”
His body shuddered with the shock waves of an explosion and he arched his back, staring blankly into the stars.
“They did it,” he whispered. “One hive ship down.”
And then he heard it, another whisper which he knew so well.
Carson. Need your help. Grodin locked inside.
Chasing the mutterings as the volume increased, Carson found himself wading through symbols of English and Ancient. Squinting at the codes, he found the text that Rodney had re-routed through the satellite. The lines of green distorted until it was though he actually stood in the satellite, surrounded by flashing controls. He spun to see Peter Grodin frantically passing between two screens, and saw the resignation forming on the Englishman’s face.
Locked inside. Locked inside. Carson, are you there?
Damaged circuits clambered over his thought patterns, demanding and overpowering. Carson moaned with difficulty, and slogged forward through heavy coding until he was standing behind Grodin. The weapons were totally obliterated by age and abuse. Carson breathed in raggedly and drew the last remaining power from the satellite, smothering the technician’s life signature with a dense gripping shield, strong enough to keep away the pressures of space.
“Oh Lord,” breathed Carson.
And then the station exploded around them.
Rodney lurched forward in his seat in the Puddlejumper, clutching the control panel so hard his fingers felt like they would break. He opened his mouth, but as he was about to voice his failures, a rapid blinking flooded over the heads-up-display, whirling around frantically until it spelled out one single word.
“Yay?” read out Miller from the pilot’s seat.
Rodney punched the air. “Yes! Carson did it! Search the area, quickly.”
Radek had watched everything from the other side, and started forward anxiously when Carson keeled onto his knees out of the chair, shimmering between thin air and a vague corporeality. Uncertainly, he reached out to steady the doctor as his shoulders, but his hands passed clean through him.
“Carson!” he hounded frenetically. “Carson! You do not have the power to do this. Abort!”
The doctor collapsed with a fairly solid thud following this, eyes standing open but blank. Zelenka tapped his fingers quickly to Carson’s neck and breathed a sigh of relief when he felt a pulse beating though unevenly under his touch. He scrambled for his radio and called, “Medical team to chair room! Medical team to chair room!”
But even as he said it, Carson’s physical form slipped away from sight, made of fading particles that assimilated into the walls surrounding the chair. Radek stared in some horror. “Oh no. This not good. Not good at all.”
He glanced at the chair to make sure it was still functioning, and apart from a slightly ominous buzzing, it seemed to be glowing as fine as it was a few minutes ago – that is, as fine as the damaged piece of equipment could function.
“You need to survive,” Zelenka addressed the empty room, “or so help me, I will push you face first into sewage!”