Chapter One

Sighing , Sam frowned at the numbers that poured across the screen and wondered why she was having so much trouble collating the data. It hadn’t taken her this long to figure out the power usage back on Earth; maybe she was missing something...

“No, no, no, what are trying to do? Kill us? Here, get away from that console before you vaporise us!”

Of course, her inability to concentrate may have something to do with a certain annoying Canadian who seemed incapable of working at a normal decibel level. How did his staff put up with it? It was driving her crazy.

Sam pressed her fingers to her temples, willing her burgeoning headache to go away as Rodney’s voice echoed through the lab. Maybe she should get some earplugs. My God, in an alternative world I actually married this guy, what was I thinking? A hand suddenly hovered over her keyboard, and Sam slapped it away.

“Ow! It’s not going to work, you know, the power input is incompatible with the crystal capacitors.”

“That’s why we’re supposed to be working together, McKay,” she said, flatly. “You figure out how to tap the geo-thermal power supply, and I figure out how much power we need for the dimensional displacement field. It’d supposed to be your area of expertise, or can’t you handle it.”

“Oh please, I could do this in my sleep,” he snorted. “It’s hardly worthy of my skills. Zelenka could probably figure this out while cleaning his teeth.

“Then what’s your problem,” Sam muttered, looking up.

My problem is this,” he drawled, stabbing at the screen. “The variations are too unstable. Do you know how many failsafes the ancients built into their technology? The power capacitors will probably shut down in the first five seconds.”

“So figure out a way to get around them.

“Firstly, do you realise how many times I’ve nearly died because I bypassed an Atlantis failsafe system?” he countered, counting off his fingers. “And secondly, I’ve already figured out a way to do it…it’s just going to take a few days to reconfigure the programme.”

“So? I still don't see the problem.”

“The problem is that this is Atlantis, and nothing ever goes this smoothly. Ergo, this is not going to work.” Rodney muttered, leaning over her shoulder as he absently tapped his fingers on the table.

“McKay, stop doing that,” she sighed. “I’m trying to concentrate.”

“Oh please, as if you haven’t been staring at the exact same data burst for the last twenty minutes.”

Sam took a deep breath and reached out, stilling his hand. “Okay, I give up, what’s bugging you,” she said. “And don’t even pretend that this is about capacitors.

“What’s bugging me? You’re the one who’s acting so strange.” he burst out, pulling his hand away. “Do you realise you’ve been here two days, and you haven’t once called me Mer?”

“So? I thought you didn’t like that name,” Sam said, puzzled.

“That’s never stopped you before,” he complained. “And another thing, yesterday, when I introduced you to my girlfriend, you didn’t even make one smart comment. I’m beginning to think you’re some kind of pod person.”

“Or a replicator.”

A look of pure panic shot across Rodney’s until he noticed her smirk. “Ha, ha, very funny. The point is you’re acting funny. You’re being all…. considerate. Do you realise you’ve just asked me whether I was okay, and there wasn’t a trace of sarcasm in your voice; it’s unnatural.”

Sam paused. “Well…I did mock your dog tags yesterday.”

“Yeah, but your heart wasn’t in it.”

“Maybe I’m becoming immune to your annoyingness.”

“You know, I think I may find that remark mildly offensive,” Rodney sniffed. “You must be on the road to recovery.”

Sam laughed, shaking her head in bemusement. “Only you would get worried because someone wasn’t insulting you enough, Rodney.”

“Huh, I made you laugh, definitely a pod person.”

Sam smirked. “What you don’t realise, McKay, is that I’m laughing at you, not with you.”

“Oh, good comeback, I’m feeling better already,” he said, straightening up.

“Dr McKay, could you please come to Doctor Weir’s office.”

Rodney pulled a face. “See what I mean,” he muttered. “We’re in Atlantis; ergo trouble…come with?”

Sam hesitated, seeing the uncertainty in his eyes. Nobody was quite sure what her place in Atlantis was. Technically, she and Sheppard were the same rank, but Sam tried not to remind him. “Maybe I should stay here, keep working on the power fluctuation problem.

“Hello? Lack of ATA gene?” You’d be lucky if the pretty lights flickered,” Rodney snorted, waving at the console.

Sam grimaced. She had meant to take the gene therapy months ago but, with one thing or another, never got around to it. She’d had the shot the day before, but they still weren’t sure whether or not it had taken. “Fine, just give me a few moments to shut down the programme.”


Sheppard and the rest of Rodney’s team were already in Elizabeth’s office and Sam could immediately feel the tension as she entered the room.

“Took your time, McKay,” Sheppard muttered, leaning back in his chair.

“Sam,” Elizabeth said warmly. “It’s nice of you to join us.”

“I hope you don’t mind, it’s just…” she waved at Rodney in explanation.

Sheppard smirked. “No other explanation required.”

“Ha, ha,” Rodney muttered, his face reddening as he folded his arms.

Teyla caught Sam’s eye, humour showing on her face. She had spent some time in the Athosian’s company during her last visit, and she’d been pleasantly surprised by her quiet intelligence and perceptiveness.

“So, what did I miss,” Rodney said, looking around the room suspiciously

“Remanka has just been raided by Wraith,” Sheppard drawled, leaning forward in his chair.

“Remanka? That place where they make those little chocolaty sweet things?”

“Yes, Rodney, the place where they make the chocolaty sweet things.”

“Huh. Bummer.”

“They managed to get a message through the gate, but it disengaged before they could get any refugees through,” Elizabeth said, her tone becoming businesslike..

“That doesn’t sound good,” Sheppard said

“That is the third world that’s been attacked in the last week,” Teyla added. “And all of them are worlds we trade with. I’m beginning to think that this is not a coincidence.”

“I’m inclined to agree with you,” Elizabeth said. “Which is why I’m giving your team the go ahead once we’re sure the raid is over.”

“It’ll be dawn there in a few hours,” Ronan observed. “The Wraith don’t like to hunt during the day.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Dawn it is, then,” she murmured. “Which reminds me. Sam, I was wondering if you could go along with them.”

“I don’t understand,” Sam said, startled. “It’s not that I wouldn’t be glad to help, but why would you need me there?”

“Your device may have applications other than protecting Atlantis,” Elizabeth pointed out. “The worlds in this galaxy face the Wraith threat on a daily basis. If they could have access to this technology, it could immensely improve their chances of survival.”

Elizabeth,” Sam said, sharply. “We can’t promise them that. We’re barely able to produce enough power to protect ourselves.”

“At present, yes,” agreed Elizabeth. “But who knows what will happen in the future? All I’m asking is that you check the planet out. Maybe you could work out a viable way of powering the device from their natural resources.”

Sam sighed. “I’ll have a look around, Elizabeth,” she said. “But I’m not promising you anything.”

“That’s all I’m asking for,” Elizabeth said, smiling. “Thank you.”

“Right then,” Sheppard said, getting to his feet. “I’ll see you all in the gate room in three hours.”

“See? I told you it was trouble,” Rodney muttered to her under his breath.