- No Beta
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
Rodney McKay breathed a sigh of relief as he settled himself in the taxi despite the uncomfortable seat with dubious stains he was trying to avoid. He had half expected to be prevented from leaving the Mountain and being forcibly put upon a flight for Siberia, despite his civilian status, but it hadn’t come to that, thankfully. He pulled out his personal cell phone – having been stripped of all SGC equipment – and, with shaking fingers, dialled the number of the one person he could call a friend.
‘Radek? Can you talk?’
There was a pause then Radek’s voice came over the line. No, Kavanagh, I will not come and give you answers to problem. I am busy clearing McKay’s office since he is dismissed from employ. I have orders to commandeer all research, but files are encrypted and will likely be destroyed. Go away.
Still trembling slightly Rodney turned off his cell, understanding the message Radek conveyed. The destruction of his research wasn’t an issue as he had back-ups of everything he produced on his own computers and back-ups of the back-ups in a fireproof safe in his apartment in Las Vegas in a Sentinel/Guide friendly building. He’d purchased the property two years previously upon leaving the private sector to accept the post at Area 51, needing a space to escape from the empathic pressure of the Groom Lake facility.
Once at the airport, he purchased a first-class ticket to Las Vegas grimacing at the thought of a commercial flight with his senses in such disarray and, having a three-hour wait for a direct flight, headed straight to the small Sentinel/Guide Centre to try to rebuild his shields. The girl at the reception desk raised her eyebrows as he handed over his Guide ID.
‘This doesn’t have your level on it, Mr McKay.’
‘If you read it properly, you’d see that firstly, it’s Dr McKay, and secondly, it’s a Canadian ID where the absurd levels you Americans insist on applying, erroneously in most cases, aren’t used.’
The girl flushed. ‘We don’t have any rooms available, Dr McKay
Rodney tipped his head on one side and looked at her. ‘Has no one ever told you how stupid it is to lie to a Guide? You work in a Sentinel/Guide Centre, for fuck’s sake!’
A door behind the desk opened and another woman looked out. ‘What’s happening here?’
‘Your receptionist not appearing to know the first thing about Guides is what’s happening,’ Rodney snapped, his patience finally running out. ‘I want to meditate to help deal with the stresses of a flight packed with mundanes, and this…person lies to me about having a room available.’
The older woman tapped the receptionist on the shoulder. ‘Take your break now, Claudine. I’ll deal with this.’
Claudine glared at Rodney and left the Centre in what could only be described as a flounce while Rodney turned his attention to the woman who had taken her place.
‘I’m Paula Finch, and I’m the manager of the Airport Centre. How can I help you?’
Rodney sighed and rubbed his face. ‘I have a flight in two hours, and I need to meditate .’
A couple of minutes later he was shown to a small but adequate room where he wasted no time in stripping off his jacket and shoes, sinking into a lotus position and closing his eyes. Dropping into a meditative state was much more difficult. Instead of stilling his thoughts, he found himself going over the earlier events and questioning everything he said, and every piece of advice he gave and, more frustratingly, found himself dwelling on his nemesis, Major Samantha Carter.
Rodney knew he was arrogant, and often petty. He also knew he had exceedingly poor people skills, for which he blamed a combination of his parents and his genius. His parents never wanted a child let alone a brilliant one, and had no clue what to do, leaving him largely alone to do what he wanted. He taught himself to read before he could properly walk, and by the age of four had read every book in the house and was clamouring for more. It was pure self-defence which made his mother enrol him in the local library where a kindly librarian took pity on the small child and helped him find books both to engage him and challenge his intellect.
His parents were more willing to deal with the sister who arrived when he was 11, but when Rodney unexpectedly came online as a high-level Guide at 13, they were furious that such a gift should not have been bestowed on their darling daughter. When Rodney left for college in the US shortly after his fourteenth birthday, they waved him off and out of their lives.
Such an upbringing left its mark, however, and while Rodney had learned the hard way to guard his tongue, he did sometimes forget, especially when faced with both beauty and brains. Unfortunately for him, Major Carter combined both these attributes, and he’d allowed his emotions to take precedence over the connection between his big brain and big mouth. He cringed at the memory of calling her a dumb blond, then took a deep breath and straightened his back. It was an abject lesson, and if his intellect had taught him anything, it was to learn by every means possible, including his mistakes.
Except he hadn’t been wrong about the Stargate. It wasn’t meant to be used without a DHD, and while Carter managed to build a dialling interface, it bypassed endless dialling protocols and ignored clear error-data.
That was all now irrelevant. He’d left the Stargate Programme and needed to think about his future. Perhaps he should return to the academic life, or maybe reconsider one of the many offers of work in the private sector he received on a weekly basis. There was a company based in Virginia which might be worth a second look…