- Death - Minor Character
- Canon Divergence
- Science Fiction
19 August 2009
“Colonel Sheppard? This is Langley.”
John tapped his earpiece “Go for Langley.”
“Second transmission received. O’Neill confirmed, maintain current orders.”
It wasn’t really a surprise, but the snoops had to be sure the Wraith weren’t following them before they could even think about approaching Earth’s star system. “Acknowledged. Good work, Langley.”
John stood and switched channels. “Sheppard to Lorne.”
“Lorne here, sir.” Sounded like he was in the Mess Hall.
“It’s chair time, buddy, take us in. Mid-speed.”
“Roger, sir. Mid-speed to the Moon. Two minutes to Chair Room.”
“Acknowledged.” John picked up his tablet and headed for the command deck.
He hadn’t wanted to make this trip to Earth. They were finally making headway against the Wraith and giving them any sort of reprieve was never going to be a good thing in John’s books, but.
There were too many changes being made to the Expedition for them to do things in the usual way. The energy expenditure was significantly less taking the city to Earth than it would have been to open the necessary number of wormholes to get it all done, especially now that the Midway Station was gone.
On the bright side, however, taking the ship to Earth allowed the long-term residents already living on the city to have proper leave, spend some of their back pay, and stock up on luxuries.
He hoped the closest Godiva store was ready for the unprecedented hell that was coming its way. And that was just from McKay.
They might need a bigger boat just for McKay, his coffee, and his chocolate, never mind the new people.
When he got to the Command Deck, his men popped to attention. The Senior Chief running the pit crew ceded the command console without having to be told.
He had ten hours of lazy work ahead of him because he was supposed to take it easy until it was his turn in the Chair.
After so long on the City, they’d gotten the Best Known Methods for these situations down pat. Low stress and without the grogginess of sleep was the best mental status for Chair interaction, especially when it came to landing her on a planet. He was the only one with a strong enough gene to manage that so his current workload wasn’t negotiable.
At least, it wouldn’t be for another twenty or so years. He’d rather his daughter be over thirty before she sat down in a control chair, but that was probably unreasonable.
Still, he and McKay had requirements that had to be met before their little girl served on Atlantis in any fashion. Not that any of them planned to take her away from her home long term, they just didn’t want to make it easy for the IOA to maneuver her into a place of their liking.
With that thought, he pulled up his daughter’s latest medical report. Since their Accidental Child Acquisition, a.k.a. the Emma Incident, McKay’s minions had been fighting over Emma’s physical care.
He was looking forward to the ruckus her future education would cause. If the level of detail he got on his kid’s vaccinations and development milestones was any indicator, it was going to be both relieving and hilarious. And then, when his own minions had followed suit? Yeah, that was going to be fun.
John frowned and looked up something was wrong. He wasn’t sure what but Atlantis was shocked and horrified and—
“Colonel!” A man with blood on his hands and crazy in his eyes came sprinting into the gate room. “Colonel!”
Chief Yu placed herself between him and the scientist, stopping the panicking man with a careful hand on his chest. “Dr. Martinez?”
Santiago Matrinez was new to the city, maybe two months into his first stint. A microbiologist and bioengineer that came to fill a gap in McKay’s team.
It said something about this assignment that his first thought at the sight of a blood-covered, panicked, out of his mind civilian, was to make an actual note to make sure the Marines didn’t bully him while trying to acclimate to the City.
“Colonel!” Martinez repeated. Then the poor kid looked down at his hands and immediately went gray. “Dr. Keller.”
“What happened to Dr. Keller, Santi?” he asked softly, stepping around his work station.
The man looked up at him with wide eyes. “She—” He swayed in place, and three people started like they were going to catch him, but he kept his feet. “She. I found her—” He swallowed several times and whispered, “Body.” And down he went.
Chief Yu caught and lowered him to the ground before he could give himself a concussion on top of the traumatic shock.
John gestured over the medic who had followed the doctor into the room and waited for him to get through basic diagnostics before asking, “Any idea where he came from?”
“I was leaving Pier 2 when I saw him.” John wasn’t surprised. Pier 2 was the one normally set up for swimming. Even when they were in the middle of space, it was the Navy guys’ preferred hangout. “Saw the blood and tried to get his attention, but he couldn’t hear me so I followed him. Think he came from Keller’s lab.”
John nodded. “Alright, get him to the Infirmary.”
Then he headed for the closest transporter.
He tapped his earpiece to the team channel. “Ronon, I need you to secure Keller’s lab. Teyla, secure McKay. McKay, stay in your lab.”
“The kid’s here too,” Rodney informed him. “Sitrep?”
“Uncertain,” John admitted. “I’m checking it out.”
The team confirmed his orders, and he stepped into the transporter. When he got to Keller’s office, a pair of Marines were guarding the door and Ronon was leaning against the wall across the hall from them, cleaning his nails with a knife.
“Sheppard.” The big man straightened and focused on him. “It’s not good.”
John didn’t say anything but even the Marines looked pale when he stepped between them. The door opened with a thought and at first he couldn’t really make sense of it. There was a lot of pink and red. A little brown. He could see a little more than knees to feet, mid-chest to hair. Only one hand… It was definitely Keller and she definitely was not coming back.
* * *
“And after you located the body?” General O’Neill asked from behind General Carter’s desk.
“I ordered the city to lock the chamber so that only I could enter it and put the whole thing in stasis.”
O’Neill looked impressed. Yeah, John hadn’t known Atlantis could do that either.
“Everyone was confined to quarters except for Master Chief Dex and a team of non-gene carriers to secure the hallway and Lorne who was driving at the time. I had Captain Jensen secure all electronic communication and video security for the entire city. I beamed down as soon as Atlantis was in range.”
O’Neill frowned at him. “You have a plan?”
“In the last databurst, I saw in the notification that Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was touring the Mountain for security issues and the request for our cooperation with his security review.” John admitted. “I was hoping we could borrow him.”
“Unfortunately, he hasn’t agreed to sign on with the Program just yet. He’s still exploring his options.”
“And he has a lot of options?” John frowned.
“Boy, does he.”
John shook his head “He’s always been popular. Though he never seemed to quite get it.”
“You know him?”
“We’re frat brothers, sir. I was a bit ahead of him so we’re not exactly close, but he’s a good guy. Shame what happened to his leg.”
“Where’s your team?”
“Brought Chewie with me. Teyla is unofficially guarding McKay. Even on lockdown rumors are flying and everyone knows McKay broke up with Keller not that long ago.”
“You think someone will do something stupid?” O’Neill asked.
“No,” John admitted, “but the Expedition has taught me that stupid shit will happen to you whether you believe in it or not.”
O’Neill snorted and stared at him for a minute before nodding and opening one of the drawers of General Carter’s desk. He pulled out a folder, opened it, and presented John with a business card that only had a phone number handwritten on it.
“Call the phone number. DiNozzo landed in Las Vegas two days ago.”
John looked up at him. “Las Vegas, sir?”
“Maybe he’s decided to embrace the crazy.” O’Neill shrugged as he stood and moved for the door. “I’d give him a call first. Word is he’s getting fed up with drop ins.”
“And take Chewie with you.”
John watched the general leave with a jaunty step and decided that he probably just… shouldn’t ask.
Instead he went to the door, jerked his head at Ronon, and waited for his favorite alien barbarian to join him. Ronon shut the door and leaned on it. “So?”
“We have a go.”
Well indeed, John pulled out his temporarily assigned cell phone and dialed.
“Who is— John? John Sheppard?”
“The one and only.”
“Holy shit, when did you come back to life? Last rumor I heard had you dead.”
“Not dead, just on a mission.”
There was an extended silence. “One you just happen to need me for?” Tony asked softly.
“No.” Then John reconsidered. “I wouldn’t say no to you joining the Expedition, and if I had any choice in the matter I wouldn’t bother you with the crazy I’ve heard hinted you have going on, but one of the civilians on my assignment was murdered.” Tony hissed and John nodded even though his frat brother couldn’t see it. “I know you have permission to liaise with AFOSI and you know NCIS.”
“How could you know that?”
“I read General O’Neill’s email to the entire project I’m working on.”
“Ah.” And Tony stopped. That was not a good sign in John’s vague recollection of their time together at Ohio State.
“I can have you at the crime scene in seconds,” John tried regardless. “You can take all the files back to your room. We’ll probably need to arrange security for that but this doesn’t have to mess up your trip.”
“If you can get me there in seconds you can get here in seconds.”
“I can,” John confirmed.
“You have five minutes,” Tony said and it was totally a test. “I’m in a suite at the Palazzo.”
“Five minutes,” he agreed, and Tony hung up.
He traded looks with Ronon who shrugged.
The room information was in O’Neill’s little folder, coordinates were included. John took the whole thing and stood beside Chewie. He tapped his earpiece. “Lorne, beam us up.”
Three minutes and forty-seven seconds later, they materialized inside Tony’s suite. In the hallway to the bathroom, which was slightly awkward for them but the furthest they could get from the huge Strip-view windows to keep from exposing the entire project.
“Son of a bitch.”
John turned to find Tony staring at them, wide-eyed and a little pale. Well, staring at Ronon, that was for sure.
Ronon’s grin said he appreciated the attention.
“Tony?” John tried.
“Is this murder on a space ship?”
“Is this spaceship in space? Like, right now?”
“Cloaked behind the Moon.”
“Behind the—” Tony blew out a breath and shook his head. “Why not?” He marched to stand between John and Ronon and said, “your people better maintain my reservation for as long as this takes.”
“And I’m two days into a week stay. I want my time missed, too.”
“We can do that.”
“Alright, fine. Let’s go,” Tony threw his hands up in the direction they would soon be traveling. “Beam me up, Scottie!”
Yet again, John tapped his earpiece. “Lorne, three for beam up.”
“Lorne,” Tony scoffed under his breath. Then they started to dematerialize.
They rematerialized in the not-a-closet at the base of the Control Tower. Technically, it was the only one McKay had programmed to beam outside of the City’s internal network so that they could pop off and onto the City if needed.
Tony sort of wobbled but caught himself with his hands on the wall. The wall that lit up under direct contact.
“Shit,” John realized, “he’s got the gene.”
Tony looked at him. Well, in his direction, his eyes were glassy. “She’s singing.” And he promptly passed out.
Ronon caught him.
John thought the doors open. Captain Jensen was there, gun at the ready, with his usual partner in crime, Sergeant Cougar, silent at his side. “We need a stretcher. And medical.”
* * *
John had done his best to stay away from Tony and his investigation. They’d had dinner in the Mess once or twice because John didn’t want him to feel socially isolated on the City but he also didn’t want to risk prejudicing the case. Not that he thought Tony was easily swayed by anyone but for the sake of appearances and all of the reputations involved in the incident, he did.
Not that Ronon had been interested at all in leaving Tony alone, but John had stayed out of that.
Mostly it seemed like they were discussing movies and the music and literature of their respective planets, so there was nothing for him to be involved in, really. Probably not, anyway.
John looked up from the report he was reading. “Yes, Chief?”
“General O’Neill is beaming up now. You’re expected in the senior conference room in five minutes.”
Since there had been nothing about General O’Neill coming aboard on his schedule this morning, that had to mean Tony was ready to move. “Thank you, Chief.” He nodded to her and immediately got up from his desk, heading for said conference room.
Tony was already there, setting out a series of folders.
John helped himself to the coffee set up in the back of the room and waited.
Tony was giving him the hairy eyeball when he turned around.
Tony outright frowned this time. “You could have mentioned that the prime suspect was your boyfriend.”
“McKay’s not my boyfriend.”
Tony gave him the look that probably deserved. “Then he’s your baby daddy.”
“Technically, Meredith McKay is listed as the mother on Emma’s birth certificate.”
Tony snorted and rolled his eyes. “Sit down and stop being a nuisance.”
John held up his empty hand in the universal gesture for no harm but didn’t sit. He propped up a wall because he wasn’t sure how much company O’Neill brought with him.
O’Neill brought his team plus Cam Mitchell and Woolsey from the IOA. John liked Woolsey. Woolsey was a good guy. It was a shame he’d had to return to Earth after a Wraith encounter of the too-close kind. Not that John blamed him; his own feeding scar tingled just thinking about it.
“If we can get started?” O’Neill asked as he sat at the head of the table. John ended up on the other side of Mitchell from Carter, mirroring Woolsey who sat with the civilians on the other side of the general.
“Alright,” Tony agreed, standing in their midst. “I have six individuals on restriction—house arrest, pending formal arrest. Two civilians and four military.
“Based on what I’ve been able to find, Dr. Keller was Trust. Her mission objective was to obtain control of Dr. Rodney McKay for Trust use, she elected to achieve this task through a romantic relationship that would culminate in the two of them returning to Earth to start a family.
“This plan, of course, failed when he broke up with her after the Emma Incident on MXT-296 where he and Colonel Sheppard accidentally used Ancient Technology to create their daughter. According to transmissions between Corporal Brad Johnston and their Earth-bound control officer—thanks to Captain Jensen for preserving those transmissions before lockdown procedures could cause their erasure, by the way—the new plan was to frame Dr. McKay for Dr. Keller’s murder and return him permanently to Earth that way. Preferably bringing Emma McKay-Sheppard, and Colonel John Sheppard back to Earth with him as a thrilling bonus.”
“Do you still have the transmissions?” General Carter asked.
“I do. The transcripts are in the evidence packages in front of you. Electronic copies have been secured to my duty tablet.”
“I’m going to need those.” She glanced at O’Neill, “If we can trace them to the signal origin…”
“We can find the new leaders of the Trust,” O’Neill completed the thought and nodded. “Next steps, DiNozzo?”
“The Expedition Charter is clear on what would happen to operatives of foreign bodies working against the interest of the IOA, sir. They get formally arrested, tried by a tribunal, and if convicted, imprisoned for life.”
“Alright,” O’Neill opened the file in front of him. “Break this case down for me.”
Four hours and a round of turkey sandwiches later, O’Neill closed his folder and stood. “Good work, DiNozzo.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tony shook hands with the generals, Cam, and then John.
“Tony,” he sighed in relief.
“Don’t even,” his friend cut him off. “I’m glad your kid got to keep both her parents.”
“Yeah, me too.” He let his frat brother go and watched him make his way down the line of civilians. Tony and Teal’c didn’t even shake hands, they just did some weird communing thing that John didn’t want to think too much about.
“Decision?” Jack prompted and the goodbyes started wrapping up.
“I’ve decided you can return me to the Palazzo.” Tony grinned. “You owe me five days alone in Vegas.”
“Sure we shouldn’t see if Chewie wants to go with you?” Jack asked with his best no-I’m-not-a-conniving-bastard face.
“To the transporter, you mean?” Tony rolled his eyes. “I can carry my own bags, Jack.”