SGA Rising

Follow us on Twitter

If you would like publication updates, please follow us on Twitter!

 

@sga_rising

Contact Us

If you would like to comment on our stories, please use the Disqus commenting system located below our chapters.  

 

If you have any questions or general concerns, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Who's Online

We have 20 guests and no members online

Statistics

Articles View Hits
609846

Primum Movens, Part I, CH V

<<< Back to Primum Movens, Part I, CH IV

John settled more comfortably into the pilot seat of Jumper One.  Despite being the second Hive he’d approached in less than a week, he felt none of the anxiety he’d experienced on some of the missions lately.    

From the seat beside him, Radek Zelenka studied the approaching Hive with intensity, glancing between it and the data pad he had in his hand.  

“It does not appear to have sensed us,” he said after a moment.  “This must be a good thing.” 

“I do not know,” replied Teyla, from behind him.  She, too, was staring at the Hive intensely, but her expression was concern, not interest.  

“Still not picking anything up?” 

“No.  Nothing.”  She shifted in her chair.  “I have never been this close to a Hive and not sensed a Wraith.” 

“You mean other than that one with the Vespida-whatever Keller calls them.” 

“No.  There the sensation was different but I still felt something.  Here…”  She frowned, almost in frustration. “Here, the connection does not seem to exist at all.” 

“Well, the thing’s not on autopilot,” John responded.  “If it could de-cloak, it’s got someone driving.” 

“The only things that can drive a Wraith Hive are Wraith,” said Ronon.  Teyla tossed him a look and he shrugged his shoulders.  “Wraith genes.” 

John looked over at Zelenka, who was now furiously pushing buttons on the pad.  “You got anything yet?” 

The Czech motioned to the datapad.  “I am picking up figures, but Teyla is correct.  They do not read the same as the Wraith.” 

“What do you mean, ‘they don’t read the same as the Wraith’?”  

“Their core body temperatures are much lower.  As though they are in stasis.” 

“An unwoken ship?” John asked.  “That would explain Teyla’s lack of sensing them, right?” 

“I am not certain,” answered Teyla.  “But this is different from anything I have felt before.  Even on Athos I could sense the few Wraith who would come for the cullings.  Even if what Doctor Zelenka says is true, I should at least be able to sense who is maintaining the Hive.” 

John’s anxiety level was rising, fast.  “You see any openings in that thing?” 

“Openings?  As in doors?” 

“As in clear passages with no Wraith—or life-forms-that-aren’t-Wraith—nearby.” 

“You would like to know this why?” 

“Because we need to get a closer look,” John replied casually. 

Zelenka nearly flipped his datapad.  “Colonel, are you sure that is wise?” 

“Relax, Radek.  You can stay in the Jumper.  But something seems fishy here, and we need to find out what’s causing the smell.” 

 

--/-- 

 

“You want to what?” asked Richard. 

“Explore the Hive.  Find out what’s going on with this thing.  Teyla’s got no sense of Wraith, and Zelenka’s not registering anything Wraith-like.” 

“Colonel, are you sure?  This could be a trap.” 

“I’ve considered that.  But this isn’t exactly the Wraith’s style.” 

Richard looked over at Chuck.  “I wasn’t aware the Wraith had a style.” 

The technician shrugged. 

“Okay, Colonel.  If you feel the threat is minimal, you have a go.” 

“We’re about to board a Hive ship.  I wouldn’t call that minimal.” 

Richard shook his head.  “Then…” 

“I do think it’s necessary, though, so we can find out what the hell is up with this thing.” 

“Okay.  Check back in fifteen minutes, Colonel.  And be careful.” 

“As much as we can be with the Wraith.” 

That much, at least for the most part, was truthful.  

Richard glanced back at Amelia, who was staring at the long-range sensors, lost in thought.  “Is that ship within firing range yet?” 

She didn’t answer. 

“Banks?” 

Amelia jumped with a start.  “Yes.  What?” 

“How long until the ship is within firing range of our drones?” 

“Um, maybe another fifteen minutes, if it continues its present course.” 

“Keep me updated.  Have you contacted the Daedalus?”

"They remain out of range but as soon as they dial in to check in, sir, we can let them know."

Richard eyed the monitors keeping track of the Hive.  "Let's hope that's sooner than anticipated." 

 

--/--

 

Rodney looked up from his computer, to where Franibeth—Elizabeth—sat quietly in her cell, her eyes on the ceiling.  

When he looked at her, it was hard, he would admit, to see his friend of so many years.  She was perfectly FRAN in almost every way, and much of what his mind automatically flashed to when he looked at her centered around FRAN’s part in the destruction of Asuras, despite Elizabeth’s now having inhabited her form much longer than FRAN herself existed.  Still, it was hard to forget that FRAN, despite her origins, had sacrificed herself to save them all, and she’d done it willingly and knowing it was for the best.  

In that way, Elizabeth was very much like her.  Or she was very much like Elizabeth. 

She drew her attention away from the ceiling and looked over at him, the jet-black hair of her form falling softly down by her shoulders. 

“How is it coming, Rodney?” she asked.  It was when she spoke that Rodney could much better see—or was it hear—Elizabeth, despite the very different face. 

“Ah…same.”  He smiled as cordially as he could.  "You know...programming code..."

"Sort of," she smiled back.  "You don't have to stay down here with me, you know.  If it's easier to scan through it in your lab--"

"No, no," he said.  "It's your code, and you deserve to know as much of what's going on as the...as anyone else."

"Well, it's good to know I still have your trust, at least."  

"Why wouldn't you?" he questioned.  She glanced down at her hands and shrugged.  

He sighed, folding the laptop monitor down.  "Look, Sheppard--he's been through a lot in the last few months, you know.  Replicator un-related.  If it makes you feel any better he's not really treating anyone like a human at the moment.  Not that you're not...um..."

"I know what you mean."  She grinned.  "Thank you, Rodney.  Truly."

"Yeah.  Um, no problem."  He cleared his throat and when she said no more, returned his focus to the laptop data.  "Anyways, I’m still trying to find reference to the Primus.  It has to be an anomaly of some kind.” 

“Or maybe something Oberoth did,” Elizabeth replied, turning to face him.  “He must have found the original Primus and replaced it somehow.” 

“Possible,” Rodney replied.  “I suppose anything was possible with that guy.” 

Elizabeth smiled, bemused.  Rodney noted it with surprise.  “What’s so funny?” 

“You talk about him like he was alive.” 

“Well, maybe he wasn’t breathing, but he caused as many problems as a real live bad guy, believe me.” 

She smiled again and glanced down at her hands once more.  “I suppose he did.  But at the end of the day, he was just a program.  Doing what he was programmed to do.” 

That statement startled Rodney, and he felt a chill run through him.  It’s just because she’s in a replicator body, saying that, that it becomes suggestive.  The real Elizabeth would make the same argument.  She was always diplomatic. 

“I guess,” Rodney replied.  “But then, by that logic, the Wraith are just trying to feed themselves, right?” 

Elizabeth looked up at him.  “I guess that’s true.”  She smiled but it did not touch her eyes.  He shivered again and returned to his datapad.

 

--/--

 

John noted the lack of coolness in the Hive almost as soon as he set foot in it.  Normally, Hives felt cold and moist, almost like they were alive.  Considering how they were seeded, it wasn’t surprising.  

This one—the air was dry. 

Teyla shook her head, not liking this one bit, and John fully agreed with her.  Something was completely screwy with this Hive and completely screwy was never a good thing in the Pegasus Galaxy. 

Ronon, positioned in front of him, edged around a corner and finding nothing, gestured for them to follow. 

“You have two entities coming up about ten yards ahead,” said Zelenka through the radio.  

John motioned for Ronon to lean against the wall.  The Satedan did as instructed, lifting his blaster up to eye level.  Teyla, pressed against the wall near his shoulder, tilted her head a little to get a good look at the two forms that would be rounding the corner.  

He could feel his breath come in adrenaline-fueled huffs, his heart pounding in his ears.  Ronon’s motion was slow and fluid as the Wraith drones appeared. 

Ronon fired a host of blasts at the Wraith, hitting each of them multiple times.  They bent backwards and fell slowly to the Hive floor.  The Satedan strode over to them, gun pointed down, covering John and Teyla. 

They were normal drones.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. 

Teyla bent down and placed her hand on one of the drone’s arms.  As she touched it, the creature twitched, and she pulled to her feet, stepping back quickly. 

The second drone groaned and started to move.  Ronon, with a surprised look, fired a few more blasts at it.  It dropped back down to the ground but twitched ever so slightly, and not in a dead-fish-dying kinda way.  

John was confused.  The Wraith had always been hard to kill, some more than others, but very few could withstand a dozen shots or so from Ronon’s blaster when it was set to kill mode.  

The drone nearest Teyla rose on its arms, pushing itself to sitting, and John, reflexively fired at it, nearly ten rounds of his P-90 hitting it solidly in the chest.  The drone stopped trying to stand with a strangled cry and collapsed back onto the floor. 

“What the—” John began to say, when Ronon jerked. 

“Sheppard,” he said, his brown eyes flickering towards the shot drone with a smidge of worry in them. 

Teyla gasped beside him.  The drone was still twitching, just like the other.  More disturbing, however, were the slowly disappearing bullet holes, which appeared to be healing by themselves. 

The connection was instantaneous.  And something John could have kicked himself for not having considered before. 

“They have nanites,” he said.

He didn’t have to mention anything more.  Teyla and Ronon took off immediately down the hall, and John was on his com, yelling at Zelenka to be seated and ready to go as soon as they got on board. 

The Wraith drones behind him were pulling to their feet. 

His heart pounding, John flew down the corridor, a million thoughts running through his head, though only one stood out.  

They’d been led into a trap, and Elizabeth was somehow responsible for it.  He’d let her out and brought her back.  He’d trusted in something again he knew he should not have. 

And if this damn thing was any indication, all of Atlantis was going to pay for it.

 

--/-- 

 

Elizabeth—the mostly human version—cast Jennifer a wan smile as Jennifer pressed a cotton ball to the inside of Elizabeth’s elbow and rolled her arm back to hold it in place.  “There.  All done.” 

“Is this really necessary?” Elizabeth asked, settling back against the bed of the infirmary isolation room.  “I’m not foreseeing too long a stay here.” 

“Don’t say that.”  Jennifer smiled and brought a sensory thermometer across Elizabeth’s forehead.   She was glad Colonel Sheppard was no longer insisting on the biosuits when handling Elizabeth, just a Marine detail around the corner.  “You never know.” 

“I know,” Elizabeth said.  “It’s not safe for me to stay here and it’s better I don’t.” 

Jennifer wrote down the results for the temp—98.6 Fahrenheit, same as any human—and tied on a blood pressure cuff with a bemused expression.  “When did you become a glass half empty girl?” 

“When I became a half empty girl,” Elizabeth replied, her expression tinged with humor.  

Jennifer wrinkled her nose.  “Funny.  According to Rodney, you’re only two percent not you.” 

Elizabeth drew back as Jennifer jotted down the results.  “That’s two percent too much.” 

“I remember someone telling me that, despite my fears of not being ready to handle things, I was ready because they had faith that when it counted, I’d be able to do it.”  She leaned forward and patted Elizabeth’s knee.  “I feel the same way about you, Elizabeth.” 

Elizabeth flashed her a smile.  “Well, thanks for the confidence, but it’s not a matter of faith.  This is a matter of what’s best to keep people safe.” 

“I have very little doubt that when it came down to it you would do everything in your power to keep Atlantis safe.  Rodney feels the same.  That’s why he is fighting so hard to make sure everyone else understands that.” 

“Rodney?”  Elizabeth squinted a little at her.  “The last I remember, he was only ever Doctor McKay to you.” 

Jennifer, to her surprise, felt herself flushing.  “Well, a lot’s changed in the last two years.” 

Elizabeth’s eyebrow arched.  “Apparently.” 

The door to the isolation room slid open and Carson walked in, his face set in a frown.  “Jennifer, I…” 

Beside her, Elizabeth gasped softly. 

He stopped, his eyes darting from Keller to Elizabeth in surprise.  “Sorry, I didn’t realize…” 

Elizabeth’s hand was on Jennifer’s arm, gripping tightly.  “Carson,” she whispered, almost as though she was seeing a ghost. 

“Carson,” Jennifer placed her other hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder and turned to Carson accusingly.  “You didn’t tell her?” 

Elizabeth’s eyes were wide as she studied Beckett.  “How is this possible?” 

“Elizabeth.”  Carson’s expression became meek.  “I’m so sorry.  I thought with everything going on, the other version of you and all, it was best to let you settle in a bit, before…” He looked at Jennifer.  “Well, before we hit you with everything.” 

“But…you’re real?  This isn’t…this doesn’t…” 

Jennifer smiled.  “He’s real.  It’s not an illusion.  Or a simulation, which is why he should have told you as much, at least,” she finished, with another pointed look at the doctor. 

Elizabeth sat up and placed a hand on Carson’s arm.  He smiled at her touch, and her eyes filled with tears.  “Carson.” 

Jennifer stepped back as he reached over to embrace her, squeezing Elizabeth tightly.  “I was afraid it would be too much of a shock.” 

“It is a shock.  How is this possible?  You’re not a…” 

“No.  One hundred percent flesh and blood…and a bit of a long story.  Maybe I’ll have some time to tell it a little later.  But for now,” he turned to Jennifer.  “Woolsey says the ship above us is getting closer.  We need to prepare for an attack.” 

“Attack?  Is he certain?” 

“Colonel Sheppard radioed in.  The Wraith on board…”  His eyes flickered towards Elizabeth inadvertently. 

“What?” 

“It seems they’ve been assimilated.” 

“Assimilated?  Like, with nanites?”  Jennifer swallowed as Elizabeth stared at him in shock.  

“Wraith—replicators?” 

“Apparently so.  The Colonel doesn’t have many more details on it, beyond—” 

“Beyond the obvious,” Elizabeth finished.  

Jennifer turned to her.  “Obvious?” 

“It can’t be a coincidence that an assimilated Wraith ship showed up right at the moment you picked up the last remaining Replicators in the galaxy.  It’s connected to the Primus,” she replied.  “Connected to me.”

 

--/--

 

Rodney rushed up the control room steps, emerging just as Sheppard descended from the Jumper Bay, followed by Teyla, Zelenka and Ronon. 

“Where’s the Elizabeths?” the Colonel asked immediately. 

“Franibeth’s still in the brig,” Rodney replied.  “Eli—Weir is in the infirmary’s isolation chamber.” 

“Double the detail on both of them,” Sheppard said.  “Ronon, you go keep an eye on Fra—the Replicator.  Teyla…” 

“I will go to the infirmary,” she replied. 

John nodded.  “We got eyes on that ship yet?” 

“It’s almost within firing range,” said Amelia Banks.  “About two minutes.” 

“Radio Carson, tell him to get to the Chair,” John said.  “And make sure the shield’s up.” 

“You don’t want to take point on this?”  Asked Richard.  

The Colonel shook his head.  “I think I better stay here, just in case Jumpers are needed.  Besides…” He threw a coy look at Richard.  “I figured at this point I was close to being replaced in Chair duty.” 

“Only in piloting,” Richard returned smartly. 

“And landing,” added Rodney. 

Sheppard tossed him a dirty look but said nothing. 

Rodney called up one of the sensors and got a good look at the Hive for the first time since they’d arrived.  It looked just like a normal Hive, only it was apparently nothing close to normal. 

“How did the Replicators manage to assimilate an entire Hive?” asked Woolsey, of no one in particular. 

“I assume in the same way they assimilate anything else?”  Rodney retorted.  “The Wraith are organic creatures, it’s not like they’re immune to nanites.” 

“Yes, but with the protocol—” 

“I think the bigger question is not necessarily how it was assimilated,” said Zelenka, from behind them.  Rodney turned questioningly as the Czech straightened his glasses. 

“Oh, and what is the bigger question then?” 

John, who’d been watching the Czech scientist, frowned.  “Exactly what Replicators did the assimilating.” 

Zelenka nodded.  “Correct.  As far as we know, the last two Replicators in existence are currently—” 

“—right here,” finished Rodney with a frown.  “He’s right.” 

“Elizabeth—Franibeth—the replicator version of Elizabeth had an offshoot group that avoided the destruction of Asuras,” Richard said.

“Yeah, but they had a particular purpose,” said Sheppard.  “Their intention wasn’t to attack us.” 

“We do not know this Hive is out to attack us, either,” said Zelenka.  “We surprised the assimilated Wraith, certainly, but—” 

“And you think they showed up here, what, just to chat?”  Rodney asked skeptically.  “Share technology?  They—” 

He paused, mid-sentence, as a horrible thought ran through his head.  “Oh no.” 

John raised a hand to his hip, his face darkening.  “’Oh, no’, what?” 

“It really may have been too easy,” Rodney muttered, hurrying over to one of the Atlantis consoles and running a quick data scan.  “Oh, no no no no no no.  Please, no.” 

The group watched in confusion as he pulled up records from the database, turning over a few more scans and glancing down at his data pad.  “Crap.” 

“Crap?” echoed Woolsey. 

He tapped his earbud, the expression on his face pained.  “Ronon, have you reached the cells yet?” 

“Almost there,” the Satedan panted. 

“When you arrive, you need to, ah, put down Franibeth.” 

“What?”  Ronon stopped running, the rhythmic slapping accompanying his voice ceasing.  “You want me to what?” 

“Stun Franibeth.”  

"Will that work?"

"Uh, hopefully?"

Sheppard’s expression hardened, suddenly all business.  “Just do it.” 

“Okay.” 

As Woolsey and Zelenka looked at Rodney questioningly, he raised his datapad.  “I’m picking up a subspace transmission feeding in from that ship.” 

Richard frowned.  “Subspace?” 

“It’s how the replicators communicate,” Rodney said.  “I think Sheppard’s been right all along.  It’s a set-up.” 

“Yeah, but by who?” asked John, eyes narrowed.  “They both have nanites.  Shouldn’t they both be put down?” 

“Only one of them is wholly replicator,” Rodney replied.  “Her entire form communicates on a subspace frequency.  Much easier to connect to—” 

“Unless you’ve been programmed to do it, which you did to Elizabeth for the mission to Asuras,” replied John.  

“Yeah, but only one of them was on board a Hive ship to begin with,” Rodney snapped back.  “So I’m guessing that of the two, Franibeth is the more likely culprit.” 

“Unless they’re both culprits,” retorted John.   “You were the one lecturing me about not judging on appearances.  It works both ways.” 

As Richard frowned at him, Amelia Banks suddenly spoke up across the room.  “Sir, we have incoming.” 

John glanced at Zelenka.  “Guess that answers the question about the Hive’s intention.” 

“Carson,” said the Colonel,  “are you in position?” 

“Aye, almost.  Just got here,” Beckett replied.  

“Good, because we’re going to need you.” 

“Shield is up,” Zelenka reported, as a matter of course.  

“Impact in five…four…three…two…” 

A hail of brightly colored missiles lit up the shield beyond the City.  

“And not even a hello,” said John. 

“I’m ready,” Beckett’s voice echoed through the com system. 

Woolsey nodded.  “Fire Drones.” 

“Drones are off,” Chuck announced as most of the control room looked out through the glass windows, watching as dozens of tiny yellow-lit objects streamed away from the City towards space.  

“We have impact,” announced Amelia after about half a minute, as eyes turned towards the computer sensors monitoring the ship outside the planet’s orbit.  “It appears their shields are holding.  No direct hits.” 

“Prepare to fire another round, Carson.” 

“Incoming!” Amelia looked up at Woolsey.  “Impact in…” 

She didn’t even get the count off before the projectiles breached the atmosphere, and within a few seconds the City shield lit up where they struck it, flickering with impact. 

“Shield is holding,” reported Amelia.  

“Of course it’s holding—and it will hold, even with just one ZPM,” Rodney retorted. 

“Ready,” Carson said through the headset. 

“Fire second round of drones,” Woolsey said, as the lights started to flicker around them.  “Doctor McKay?” 

“Slight power fluctuations with the impact on the shield,” Rodney responded, gesturing to the lights.  “Not a problem.” 

“Another impact, but the Wraith shield seems to be holding, sir.” 

“Prepare a third round.  Doctor…” 

“We’re fine—all systems intact, minimal power degradation on the shield.”  Rodney looked over at Woolsey and John.  “As we’re going now, we can hold out as long as it takes.”

 

--/--

 

Natalia Drubesky hadn’t been on Atlantis long, but her fellow soldiers had briefed her on what she might expect should there be any action seen by the City. 

Now, it was pretty much fulfilling everything she’d heard.  The City shook slightly around her, lights flickering, as the Wraith Hive above them barraged the city with missiles. 

The cells behind her hummed, and she glanced back, eyeing the thin figure in white contained behind the electronic bars and fingered her P-90.  Too bad she was stuck down here, keeping an eye on an ally, while her comrades were upstairs, watching the action.  A double duty was coming to replace her shift in a few minutes; maybe she could get assigned upstairs and see what was going on. 

The lights flickered again, this time for more than a second, and Natalia glanced down the hall, towards the Transporter.  Everything settled again, the barrage outside stopping for a millisecond, and she leaned back into guard stance. 

There was something strange about the atmosphere, though.  The lights were still flickering but something was missing. 

The humming.  The bars of the chamber were no longer humming. 

She started to turn but never made it around.  The cool hand around her neck was too quick; it was far too late for her to react when her feet lifted off the ground.  She clasped desperately at the slender wrist that held her against the wall, pleaded, silently, with the bright green eyes that now observed her blankly and without pity. 

She felt nothing at all as the Replicator’s left hand jabbed into her forehead. 

 

--/--

 

Teyla nodded at the Marines stationed outside infirmary isolation and passed them swiftly, moving into the cool blue light of the tiny room.  

Elizabeth sat on the bed, her eyes turned upward and focused, as though she could see the attack through the thick City walls.  Keller was nearby, typing information into a computer on the far side of the room.  

Elizabeth’s attention fixated on Teyla as the doors shut, and she passed her a concerned look.  Jennifer stopped what she was doing.  “Hi, Teyla.  What’s the—” 

“Is the Wraith Hive—Replicator Hive—attacking us?”  Elizabeth interrupted. 

“It appears so,” Teyla said.  “Elizabeth, did you have any knowledge of this?” 

“No,” Elizabeth replied.  “I wasn’t even aware the Replicators could assimilate the Wraith.   Are you sure that’s what’s happened?” 

“I was there.  I saw the Wraith heal, just like a replicator can heal itself.” 

“I knew I shouldn’t have been brought here.” 

“We do not know it is you they are after.” 

“What else could it be?”  Elizabeth’s eyes searched hers, then turned towards Jennifer, who was watching with a frown.  “A Replicator Hive ship shows up just a few hours after you found me?  That’s no coincidence.” 

“We were only able to find you by a happenstance.” 

“Happenstance or not, if they had nothing to lose, it wasn’t too hard a gamble, was it?” 

“Yes, but we were told—“ 

“You were told by a replicator version of me.” 

“Yes, exactly.”  Teyla drew near her, staring her in the face.  “A replicator version of you.” 

Elizabeth smiled.  “No one is incorruptible, Teyla.  Not even me.” 

Alarms sounded throughout the City.  Teyla looked around in surprise and lifted her P-90.  

Keller bit her lip.  “What’s that?  Are the shields failing?” 

“I do not believe so,” answered Teyla.  “Rodney said we had plenty of power.” 

Elizabeth drew her knees into her chest.  “Let’s hope so.” 

 

--/--

 

Ronon turned the corner to the prison area, a chill running down his spine.  He didn’t like the feel of this, and generally when he sensed danger, he wasn’t far off the mark.  

His senses hadn’t failed him.  When he arrived at the cell that was supposed to be occupied, he found chaos. 

“Sheppard,” he said, his breathing still heavy, “we have a problem.” 

“What happened?” 

“The Replicator.  It escaped.”  Ronon walked over to the body of a young Marine, lying near the cell.  The pulse was weak but she was alive.  “Broke through before the detail got here.  Somehow shut off the cell bars, too.” 

“Dammit.  Any idea where she went to?” 

“No.”  He scanned the area, but there was no sign of the Replicator.  “She’s gone.” 

“Major Lorne, I need you to head out with a team, see if you can find her.  I’ll meet you in a minute.  Ronon, get over to where the other one is being held.  Make sure she goes nowhere.” 

As Sheppard started speaking with Rodney about another barrage of drone fire, Ronon started towards the infirmary area, hoping to hit the transporter around the corner. 

The blur of white and black caught him by surprise, and he was barely able to catch the face of the Replicator Weir as she caught him by the neck and lifted him from his feet as easily as if she were lifting a child.  In one swift movement she had hurled him halfway down the hallway, where he landed heavily and slid to a stop by the far wall. 

He groaned, struggling to pull to his feet, but the landing had been painful and hard.  Her white boots paused near his head, and she bent down to grasp his blaster, which he’d dropped nearby. 

“Thank you, Ronon,” she said in a light voice.   The last thing he saw before she hit him with the blast were her cool green eyes, staring at him with something like pity. 

 

--/--

 

“How much more can they take!?”  McKay griped, standing and staring at the ship above them.  They’d fired a host of drones—Richard hoped it wasn’t quite half their arsenal as McKay kept insisting—but it seemed to have no impact upon the ship. 

“I mean, no Hive, not even the really strong ones, could withstand this!” 

“But it is not really a Hive, is it, Rodney?” asked Zelenka, from behind him. 

“What?  Of course it’s a Hive, look at it.  It’s a Hive.  Structurally the same, composed of the same materials…” 

“But it could cloak,” said the Czech scientist, with a little nudge at his glasses.  “Could it not?” 

McKay opened his mouth to reply, then paused and shut it again.  He made a curious face and moved over to Amelia’s console, where he gestured for her to move. 

Another hail of missiles landed upon the shield; the lights flickered more intensely, but they didn’t seem to affect Rodney all that much.  He continued to type, even as power dimmed. 

“Hmm.” 

“What?” asked Richard. 

“Zelenka’s right.  It’s a Hive in all appearance and structure.  But—” 

“What?” 

“Based on the readings?  It…may…have Ancient components.  So to speak.” 

“Ancient components?”  Richard moved over to the console.  “What do you mean ‘Ancient components’?” 

“Well, all its internal components—hyperdrive, cloak and shield, weapons even—they may be a hybrid of the Wraith systems combined with Ancient technology.  Something Replicators could build.” 

“So this is a Super Hive.” 

“I wouldn’t go that far.” 

“Doctor McKay, can we destroy it?” 

Rodney made a face.  “Yes, we can destroy it.  We just have to think how we overpower an Ancient ship.” 

“The Daedalus typically cannot withstand constant fire,” said Zelenka.    “Unless it is equipped with numerous ZPMs.” 

Rodney’s snide look faded into concern.  “Zed PMs.”  He met Zelenka’s gaze.  “The Replicators could generate as many Zed PMs as they needed.” 

“That is not good,” said Zelenka. 

“No, it’s not good.  It’s really not good,” Rodney muttered.  

“How long can we hold on under this kind of fire?”  Woolsey asked.  

“Long enough for them to exhaust their own arsenal,” Rodney returned.  “So that, at least, is one good thing.”  

“For now,” Richard retorted, “considering we’ve got a potentially rogue Replicator running through the City.” 

“Let’s focus on one crisis at a time, shall we?” whined Rodney. 

“Believe me, there’s nothing more I’d rather do, Doctor,” snapped Richard.  “However, at the moment, we’re not being given much of a choice.” 

 

--/-- 

 

John turned the corner, heading towards the cells at a quick clip.  What he’d gleaned from the various conversations dancing around the common channel were that the Hive ship had somehow been restructured as half-Ancient—which could have been a good or a bad thing—and that until its arsenal was exhausted it would be a thorn in their side. 

More pressing was the now almost proven assumption that Franibeth had double crossed them and was now, once again, roaming Atlantis with no real explanation of her motives.  She hadn’t killed her guard, so it seemed direct destruction wasn’t her main motivation.  But the fact that she and the Hive had a connection from the start was more troubling than even her actions now.  Somehow, in some fashion, this had been a set-up, and they’d been duped.  Again. 

He frowned and stopped his jog down the corridor.  Ronon hadn’t reported in since mentioning he was headed for Teyla and the other Weir.  Which was unusual, even for Ronon. 

“Ronon, this is Sheppard.  Have you reached Teyla and the infirmary yet?” 

There was nothing on the com in response.  He waited a few seconds and asked again.  

Nothing. 

“Teyla?  Ronon reached you yet?” 

“No, Colonel,” came Teyla’s seemingly unalarmed response.  “He has not yet reached our location.” 

“I haven’t heard from him.  Be on the lookout.” 

“We are aware,” Teyla replied.  “The additional detail that you requested has already moved into position outside the room.” 

“How’s Weir doing?  She showing any indications of going rogue?” 

Teyla’s voice dropped, which he presumed was to keep out of Weir’s hearing.  “No.  If anything, she appears to be alarmed.”  

“Yeah, well, don’t let the attitude fool you, she—” 

“I understand, Colonel,” Teyla interrupted, her tone brusque.  “I shall be cautious.” 

“Do that.”  John stood a moment, thinking.  The end game here—what was it? 

He turned around and headed towards the infirmary. 

 

--/--

 

The infirmary remained quiet, for the moment.  Teyla looked to Elizabeth, who remained on the infirmary bed, her knees still pulled to her chest.  She was troubled. 

“I am sure there is a good explanation for why she has run off,” Teyla said, drawing close to her.  “There is nothing to worry about.” 

Another barrage rained down upon the city; while they could not see the missiles, they were able to hear the sounds of their impact upon the shield.  

Elizabeth smiled sardonically.  “Nothing to worry about?” 

“Is this not a typical day on Atlantis, as the Colonel or Rodney would say?” 

That drew a genuine smile from Elizabeth.  “I suppose it is.” 

“John will figure out what has happened,” Teyla said, by way of reassurance.  “And Mr. Woolsey has handled the City well in your absence.  I think you will find not much has changed.” 

Elizabeth tilted her head, her eyes saddened.  “Teyla, everything has changed.” 

“What’s that?” asked Jennifer, from her position in the far corner.  There were sounds of a struggle and gunfire from beyond the infirmary door. 

Elizabeth unwound herself and slid from the bed, towards Doctor Keller.  Teyla swallowed and raised her P-90 in preparation.  

The cries of the Marines were quickly silenced, and within a few seconds, the door slid open.   Elizabeth’s replicator stood there, holding Ronon’s blaster and looking pristine and calm, as though she had not just attacked a number of Marines. 

Teyla’s heart began to pound.  “You must leave.  Now.” 

“I’m sorry Teyla, but I have some business I must attend to with Doctor Weir,” she replied, her eyes searching for Elizabeth.  “It is nice to finally meet you, Elizabeth.” 

“I wish I could say the same,” Elizabeth said.  She had placed herself between Jennifer and the Replicator.  “What is it you want?” 

“I would have thought you would have figured that out by now, all things considered,” the Replicator replied. 

Elizabeth straightened, her expression become resolute.  “Then, if you truly are me, you know that the last thing I want is for more people to be hurt.” 

“I do.  And if you cooperate, we will see to it that the least number of people are affected.” 

The Replicator gestured towards Elizabeth.  Teyla took a step forward as Doctor Weir studied her artificial counterpart, her expression emotionless, but doubt in her green eyes. 

Teyla closed in further, at which point the Replicator turned to her.  She, too, wore a blank expression, but the blaster was pointed in Teyla’s direction. 

Elizabeth held up a hand.  “Teyla, it’s me she wants.  Don’t interfere.” 

“I am sorry, Elizabeth.  I cannot allow her to take you.” 

“Teyla…” 

“Do what she says, Teyla,” the Replicator replied, her eyes returning to Doctor Weir.  “It will avoid any difficulties that might arise.” 

“If you move one more step, I will fire.”  Teyla swallowed, appealing to the Replicator.  “Please, do not make me do this, Elizabeth.  This is not what you want.” 

The Replicator turned to her finally, with a soft smile.  “You are correct.  It is not what she wants.  But that is not her decision to make.” 

There was a quick flash of movement, and even before Teyla had the ability to think, she felt the blow strike her across the cheek.  Her body left the ground and flew across the room, slamming into the infirmary wall. 

She blinked, trying to open her eyes.  Jennifer cried out, and Teyla forced herself into awareness, her throat catching as the young medic slid across the floor, a nasty cut across her forehead. 

The Replicator seized Elizabeth and clasped her by the throat.  Her hand quickly darted into Elizabeth’s forehead, Elizabeth struggling and trying to hold her off, but unable to break away. 

Teyla pulled herself up slowly, barely daring to breathe, and reached for her weapon.  The sound of her pulling it towards her was minute, hardly above a whisper, but the Replicator’s head whipped towards her, her eyes burning intensely. 

It was enough opportunity for Elizabeth to break the connection, dropping to the floor and scrambling for the entrance.  The Replicator watched her go, her eyes narrowing in anger as she reached for Ronon’s blaster.   The gaze turned towards Teyla.  

She lifted up the weapon and fired. 

 

--/-- 

 

Firing upon the shield had ceased, for the moment, to Richard’s relief.  Each barrage had been responded to with another hail of drone fire, and by Doctor McKay’s estimations, the Hive’s resources should have been reaching their limit.  

McKay appeared slightly concerned, his focus on the screens providing him readings of shield strength, ZPM usage and other useful numbers that would keep them alive and unharmed. 

“What’s going on?” Richard asked.  “Have they used up their stores?” 

“Impossible to tell,” replied Radek.  “There is no indication they have been weakened by our attacks, but we have no way to know for certain.” 

“Still,” McKay said.  “If they had nothing to lose…” 

“Colonel Sheppard, do you have eyes on Fra…the Replicator yet?” asked Richard.  

“Nothing.  I’m almost at the infirmary,” John said.  “Haven’t run across it.” 

“Sir,” replied Amelia, from behind him.  “We have an incoming transmission.” 

“From whom?” 

“The Wraith Hive,” she said.  

Richard looked over at the scientists, who shrugged at him.  “Open it up.” 

The sync took a few seconds, but a moment later, a face flashed across the screen.  

“Mr. Woolsey,” said a deep and unfamiliar voice.  “I would advise that you cease your attacks upon my ship, or drastic measures will have to be taken.” 

Richard studied the face, which appeared to be human, or rather a replicator-human, which confirmed what McKay and Sheppard had suspected. 

It was a Replicator unfamiliar to Richard, however.  And at the end of the day, who he was made no difference.  “In case you were unaware, you precipitated these attacks by the fact that you fired upon us first.” 

“A precautionary measure, to indicate the sincerity of my intentions.” 

“And what would those be?” 

“I wish for the Replicators you currently have incarcerated to be freed and returned to me.  They are the last of my people, and I wish them back.” 

“Those ‘Replicators’ you mention are not exactly your people.  One is not even fully replicator, and both of them are the embodiment of a former Atlantis citizen.  So I’m not certain what argument you are making here.” 

“They are Replicators.  They are not human, and as such can have no further interest to you.  Return them to me or suffer the consequences.” 

“Who are you?” asked Richard.  

“My name is Altus,” the man replied.  “And Doctor McKay, I believe, is more than well aware of my origins.” 

Richard turned to Rodney, who shrugged.  “Asuras?” 

Altus stared through the screen.  “We met in a Wraith research facility.” 

Rodney’s expression grew more puzzled.  “Um, I’ve been in a lot of those, actually, so you’re going to have to be more specific.” 

“During which time you were unkind enough to make alterations to my base code at the request of the Wraith.” 

“OH MY GOD!” Rodney snapped his fingers.  “He’s the…the…the Replicator!  The one that escaped!”  

“The one that what?” 

“When Sam—Colonel Carter was head of Atlantis, we got wrapped up into this plot with these friends—supposed friends—of Ronon’s, who ended up being Wraith worshippers, who led us to this planet, where there were all these Wraith experimenting on a Replicator, and of course Ronon’s supposed ‘people,’ being that they were actually Wraith worshippers, sent us into a complete trap…” 

“Doctor McKay,” Richard said in exasperation. 

Rodney frowned but proceeded.  “He was the Replicator the Wraith were trying to reprogram to snap out of the attack protocol.  But he was released and got away after we escaped from the planet.” 

“And no one thought it was a good idea to mention there was a loose Replicator running around Pegasus?” Richard asked. 

“It was in the mission reports,” Rodney replied defensively.  “I guess we all just assumed he got back to Asuras and was, you know, destroyed with the others.” 

“Obviously not!” 

“What were we supposed to do, go back and scan an entire planet for a Replicator in a haystack?  They're a little more advanced than just 'come forth!'” 

Richard turned back to the monitors.  “I am sorry Altus, but we will not be handing over either of the Replicators we have here to you.  I suggest you cease your attack, or we will retaliate with whatever actions are necessary.” 

“As will we, Mr. Woolsey,” said Altus.  “You have been warned.” 

The connection shut off before Richard had an opportunity to reply. 

“What kind of damage could that Hive ship really do?” Richard asked the two scientists.  

“Nothing the shield couldn’t protect against,” Rodney said.  “And so far it’s holding.” 

“As is the power,” said Zelenka.  “The ZPM is quite powered enough to defend against almost anything.” 

Richard raised a fist to his lips.  Altus had seemed deadly serious, though in his experiences with the Replicators, they always did.  

He had a bad feeling, nonetheless.

 

--/--

 

John instinctively knew the infirmary had been compromised; it was one of those things when senses were on high alert that a person knew before they saw the damage. 

Still, he wasn’t expecting what he found. 

The Marine detail stationed outside the isolation room doors were completely laid out.  A few were squirming, indicating life, at least, but they’d been thoroughly overwhelmed. 

Bullet holes riddled the infirmary’s main walls, and trays and tables were overturned, as were a few of the gurneys they used to move and treat patients.  

He skirted around the bodies, loathe to ignore them but aware that a greater danger was at hand, and entered the isolation chamber. 

The first person he saw was Keller, stretched out near the infirmary door, with a bad cut across her forehead.  He leaned down to check for a pulse, which was beating steadily, to his relief. 

Teyla was slouched against the far wall, her head twisted a little awkwardly.  As he moved over to her she winced and groaned, lifting a hand to her head. 

“Teyla,” he murmured, afraid to touch her for fear of upsetting something that might be injured. 

She blinked a few times.  “John?” 

“Hey.  What happened?” 

“Elizabeth.  The FRAN version of Elizabeth,” she whispered.  

John’s heartbeat quickened.  “What happened to it?” 

“I am not sure.”  Her eyes widened, and she turned, grimacing, towards the overturned infirmary bed.  “Doctor Weir?” 

He stood, glancing across the room.  “She’s gone, too.”

“She was attacked,” Teyla said quietly.  “The Replicator tried to probe her mind.” 

He studied her for a minute, then lifted a hand to his earbud.  “Control room, this is Sheppard.  The Replicators have escaped.  We need to put the city on lockdown.” 

“Already done, Colonel,” replied Woolsey.  All access to areas beyond the Tower has been secured.” 

“I’m going after them.” 

“Alone?  Are you sure that’s wise?” 

“Have no choice.  We can’t have Replicators loose in the City,” John said, picking up Teyla’s P-90.  “I’ll radio as soon as I find them.”  He patted Teyla on the shoulder and motioned to Keller, who was starting to move.  “Take care of her.  And let me know if you see anything.” 

Teyla attempted to stand but sank back down with a groan and nodded.  “Be careful,” she said. 

“Always am.” 

“And John?” 

He looked back at her questioningly. 

“I do not believe she knew—Elizabeth, the…the original one.  She appeared frightened and fought against the probe.” 

“I’ll bear that in mind,” he said, though he could tell by the expression on Teyla’s face she didn’t believe him. 

 

--/-- 

 

His body feeling number and sore, Ronon struggled to his feet.  He hadn’t taken many blasts from his own weapon over the years, but the sensation was unpleasant. 

He was glad of that, for the sake of the number of Wraith who’d faced the same thing. 

He tapped into communications, and the first thing he heard was Sheppard organizing a search for the escaped Replicator—Replicators, if he heard correctly.  

The City was on lockdown, but he could still get to the main portion of the Tower from his location.  And from the sound of things, he needed to hurry.

 

--/-- 

 

The fire from Altus’s ship was growing lesser; it seemed McKay and Zelenka had been right—there weren’t enough weapons in his arsenal to continue the barrage on the shield. 

“This thing lasted for years while the Wraith were attacking,” bragged McKay.  “One Hive, even a modified Hive, won’t be able to do that much damage.” 

“Do not forget the Ancients had three ZPM’s to power it and probably backups,” Zelenka said in a cautionary tone.  Woolsey tended to agree with him; whether you believed in karma or jinxes or whatever superstition, he felt it was best not to tempt anything. 

Rodney waved away Zelenka’s warning with a flip of his hand.  “They were also being attacked by fleets of the Wraith.  One Zed PM is more than sufficient.” 

“We’re getting another communication from the ship,” said Amelia. 

“Open up a transmission channel—secure,” Richard said.  Within a few seconds, Altus’s face appeared once more upon the screens.  

“Mr. Woolsey—are you prepared to hand over the Replicators?” 

“Our position remains the same.  We are not handing over any members of our team, former, replicator or otherwise.” 

“Very well,” droned the Replicator.  “You were warned.  Now the consequences will be yours to face.” 

The transmission shut off abruptly.  He looked over at McKay and Zelenka, who were exchanging wary glances. 

“Doctors?” He inquired.  “What’s changed?” 

Rodney shrugged and went back to monitoring the power levels of the ZPM.  Zelenka, looking more concerned, turned to the window, gazing at the shimmering shield overhead.  The sky above them remained eerily quiet. 

He didn’t know what Altus had meant and he didn’t like it.  But in the pit of his stomach, he hoped Colonel Sheppard got his hands on the missing Replicator. 

Quickly. 

 

--/-- 

 

Working his way down the corridors of Atlantis at full alert, Lorne scanned the environment, his senses tuned for anything that presented something out of the ordinary. 

It reminded him uncomfortably of the few times he’d been forced to play guard inside the City; when the Wraith had beamed in here, when the crystals had played with his mind, when Colonel Sheppard had almost converted into a—no, he better not think of that one, might mention it and get some flak for it.  

Most disturbing were the memories of hunting both Colonel Sheppard and Doctor Weir during the Thalen and Phoebus episode.  This was so eerily similar it was a little unnerving.  Hunting Doctor Weir, of all people, again. 

A shadow moved across the corridor to his left; he paused, halting the Marines with him with a raised fist.  They all slid up against the corridor walls, listening for the sounds of movement.  There was nothing. 

If the Doctor Weir replicator was a prisoner of the FRAN replicator, then they wouldn’t be able to move quickly. 

If she wasn’t, Lorne figured they had a lot more to worry about than how swift they were. 

The shadow flickered across the threshold again, and he gestured to the group to fall into attack formation.  He took a breath and started forward. 

They covered the ground quickly, their boots barely making a sound, and raced full force into the corridor. 

Lorne ran almost headlong into the barrel of a pistol.   Ronon was standing before him, his traditional blaster replaced with an Atlantis standard handheld for some reason.  The Satedan had an intense expression on his face, which faded into frustration with the recognition of Lorne and his group. 

Lorne lowered his weapon, letting his heartbeat slow as the remainder of his group released their breaths.  Ronon tilted his head. 

“No sign of them?” 

“Nothing over here,” Lorne remarked.  “Why are you here?” 

“Wanted to check something.  Take a look.” 

He gestured towards the room at the far end of the corridor, which was where the ZPMs were housed.  Three Marines lay sprawled in the front of the entrance. 

“They were here?” 

“At some point,” Ronon said.  He entered and moved aside to allow Lorne to enter. 

Lorne studied the room, which seemed to be functioning normally.  Nothing was amiss, and nothing appeared to have been touched. 

“What’d they do?” 

“I’m not sure.”  Ronon said.  “Didn’t look like anything was moved.  I was going to radio McKay when I heard you guys and thought it was them coming back.” 

“Doctor McKay,” Lorne said, not bothering to answer Ronon.  “It appears the Replicators made it to the ZPM room.  Can you tell if anything’s been tampered with?” 

“What?  Zed PM—I thought we were supposed to have a heavy guard on that considering the whole Trust thing?” 

“We DID,” interjected Sheppard in a harsh whisper, over the radio.  “In case you haven’t noticed, McKay, this Replicator can take down ten armed men in a single move.  I’m guessing three more Marines didn’t pose much of a problem.” 

“They didn’t,” Ronon confirmed. 

“Well…” Rodney paused for a minute more, then shook his head.  “Zed PM is functioning normally.  Nothing seems to be off.  Zelenka?” 

“Same here.” 

“She, or they, touched something,” Ronon said.  

“Keep looking,” Woolsey said, apparently to the scientists.  “Major, search the room, make sure you don’t find anything amiss.” 

“Yes sir.”   He looked over at Ronon.  “You sticking around?” 

“I don’t like it.”  Ronon glanced at the pistol in his hands.  “I’m gonna head to the Gate, make sure nothing’s going on there.” 

“Good luck.” 

“You too.”

 

--/-- 

 

John stalked down the corridor leading from the transporter to the Gateroom area.  With the Tower locked down, unless the Replicators had managed to get outside prior to the lockdown, there was no other place they could have gone but the central area. 

The path split down towards the back entrance to the control room and the corridor leading to the main floor and the Stargate.  He opted for the control room route; there were more corners to hide in. 

He reached the stairs leading upward with no sign of the Replicators.  Nothing was amiss.  It was like they had vanished completely.  

The lifesigns detector was completely useless, if only because only one of the two Elizabeths would show up, and that blip was indistinguishable from all the other ‘one’ blips in the Tower.  

Franibeth’s mucking with the ZPM room left him uncomfortable, but as Lorne provided recounts of everything within the room that appeared normal, he became more curious than anything.  What was her game?  The last time she’d broken away from them, it had ended up being to help them. 

She also hadn’t taken out a dozen men in doing so.  

His gut instinct the last time, even as he accused her of betraying them, had been to trust her.  This time around, his gut was telling him the opposite.  But then, trust at the moment wasn’t at the top of his ‘best skills’ list. 

Above him, he could hear Woolsey talking with McKay and Amelia Banks.  The steps were open, and he saw nothing hiding on the platforms above, but he moved up slowly anyway, relaxing only when he reached the top. 

Banks turned at the sight of him, and he moved past her without a sound to where Woolsey was overseeing the work of McKay and Zelenka.  The expedition head turned and acknowledged him but didn’t lose sight of the monitors around him, which were also keeping tabs on the ship of the Replicator above them. 

“Anything more?” John asked, startling Rodney.  The scientist nearly jumped out of his skin and mumbled something about giving a heads up. 

“He’s been silent,” answered Woolsey.  “Nothing since that second threat.” 

“I don’t like it,” John replied, lowering his voice.  “It’s too quiet.” 

“I agree.  No sign of the…Elizabeths?” 

John’s frown grew.  “No.” 

“What are they up to?”  Woolsey looked over at John.  “Whatever it is—“ 

He stopped mid-sentence, looking over John’s shoulder.  John turned, instinctively lifting his P-90.  

Behind them, standing in the doorway of Woolsey’s office, stood Franibeth.  She’d come from nowhere—or so it seemed. 

“Hello,” she said cordially, as they stared back in silence. 

 

--/--

 

The chatter in the control room went quiet over Ronon’s radio.  He stopped in the corridor, listening, as the voice of the Replicator spoke from somewhere near them.  

Ronon immediately started up again.  As he turned a corner, his eyes caught something strange high along the ceiling, something he was quite sure was not a part of the Atlantis architecture.  

It was blinking.  

He tapped his radio.  “McKay?  I think we have a problem.”

 

--/--

 

Richard turned fully, partly glad that Colonel Sheppard was situated between him and the somewhat menacing looking form of Franibeth now standing in his office.  In her hand, she held what appeared to be Ronon’s blaster. 

“I always hated that door,” he said.  As Sheppard tilted his head towards him in curiosity, he gestured towards the door in the back of his office, the one almost no one used.  

Franibeth smiled.  “I believe Elizabeth kept it locked most of the time.   She thought it a security risk.” 

“So, what, you’re not Elizabeth now?”  John asked. 

“Apparently not,” she said, with a cold smile.  “Rodney doesn’t seem to think so.” 

“What?” asked Rodney, his eyes wide.  Too wide.  He looked guilty.  As she looked over at him, he dropped his head quickly to the console he was studying. 

“You initiated the override protocol,” the replicator replied.  “The one that would shut me down.” 

As Richard glanced back at the scientist, McKay shrugged.  “It wouldn’t hurt her.” 

“But it certainly doesn’t speak of trust,” said Franibeth, taking a step out onto the bridge.  “Does it, Rodney?”

"Not anymore," replied Rodney, a serious expression crossing his face.  "Guess I was wrong."

The Replicator blinked once, staring at him.

“Where’s the other one?” Sheppard interrupted, with narrowed eyes.  “What’s she up to?” 

“I am not certain,” Franibeth replied cooly, returning her focus to him.  “She was rather uncooperative and escaped when Teyla distracted me.  I believed her to be heading here.” 

“She’s not working with you, then?”  There was bitterness in John’s tone, but Richard caught a flash of curiosity in the Colonel’s hazel eyes. 

“As I said before, she was uncooperative.  But that is very often the case with Doctor Weir, is it not?  She can be very stubborn.” 

Richard felt a chill run through him as Sheppard tensed up, his eyes narrowing.  “Definitely not Elizabeth.” 

“No.  Not anymore, at least.  I was, initially.  Which is exactly what Altus depended on—why he kept me alive.”  

Richard swallowed.  “You’ve been working with him all along.” 

“For how long?” John asked. 

“How long do you think?  She took another step forward, onto the bridge separating her from the control area.   “It was a good idea, you know, the one your Elizabeth came up with to trick the Replicators into leaving Atlantis, when she was in this form.  After what Koracen did, Elizabeth had to do something drastic to prove her loyalty to you.  But you shouldn’t have left her fate to chance.  You should have done what you initially wished to do—you should have destroyed them all.  Leaving her floating in space, where anyone could find her, just welcomed so many problems.” 

“Like someone tracking her down?” Sheppard said sharply.  “Someone like this Altus, who could reset her back—back to you, whatever you are.” 

“I’m not wholly reset.  There is still a bit of her, here and there.  With the modifications Rodney made, Altus found any attempt to ‘reset’ me completely to be very difficult.  He managed to do enough, however, for me to remember my purpose.  And there were some parts of her he did not wish to erase. I didn’t lie about the stasis, for example.”  She smiled coolly, her gaze drifting to John, whose expression seemed to grow darker.    “Knowing how she thought and felt about you—it was useful, in learning how to interact with you.  Hope, particularly for a lost friend, is such a powerful force.  And one easy to manipulate.” 

“What is it you want from us?”  Richard crossed his arms.  “There’s nothing we have that can serve the Replicators’ purpose.” 

“You are incorrect.  There was nothing you had.  But there was something you could get.  Something we needed.”  She raised her blaster at Richard, which caused Sheppard to move completely in front of him, P-90 at the ready.  Franibeth tilted her head a little. 

“Dial the Gate, please.  M2M-998 will do nicely, I believe.” 

“What in the hell makes you think we’re going to do that?” 

“Because,” she smiled again, then turned and fired a shot at Chuck.  The technician seized and slipped to the ground.  The rest of the control room went deadly quiet, staring in shock. 

“The next time, I won’t use the stun setting.”  To emphasize her point, she clicked the setting switch, and the gun whined, the lights on the barrel flickering to red.  When she lifted her arm again, the gun was pointed at Zelenka, who froze, hands over the console. 

“Now please.  Dial the Gate,” she repeated.

 

--/--

 

Ronon followed McKay’s instructions, trailing the conduit back towards the ZPM room.  There had been only one or two devices attached, and they didn’t look like bombs.  

“Don’t see anything else,” he replied.  The radio was silent for a moment.  “McKay?” 

“What?  We’re having a bit of an issue up here.” 

“What kind of issue?” 

“The replicator kind of an issue,” McKay snapped back, but in a whisper.  “That thing has your blaster!” 

“You need me up there?” 

“At the moment what we need is an ARG.  A big one.  Look, just try to figure out what those devices are, okay?  Maybe we can head this off before she gets away.” 

“Gets away?”  Ronon frowned, not understanding.  After McKay failed to answer, he headed back towards the room where Lorne and his men were still searching.  The Major glanced over at him as he re-entered, his eyes on the conduit that had the devices attached.  

“You see anything connected to this?”  Ronon asked Lorne, gesturing at the conduit.  “There was something on it outside in the hall.” 

Blaster shots rang through the radio.  Lorne met his gaze with concern.  

“McKay?” 

“Fine…I…”  The radio hissed.  “We…” 

“Ronon.”  Lorne was staring at the far wall, where the conduit came down to meet part of the power grid.  Hidden near the wall and out of sight a device was attached to it, slightly larger than the others Ronon had found, though it, too, was blinking.  One of the Marines moved over towards it. 

“McKay, we found another one of those things on the pipe things inside the ZPM room.” 

“How close to the module?” whispered McKay, now sounding like he was hidden behind something.  

“I dunno.  Close.”  Ronon peered at the cables.  “Looks like it’s going into the floor.” 

“Great.  What does she…wait.  She wouldn’t!” 

“McKay?  McKay!” 

The radio clicked off, and Ronon had time for one quick glance at Lorne before the ZPM suddenly engaged.  The Marines all took a step back, slowly.  

“Someone’s dialed up the power,” Ronon remarked. 

Lorne nodded as he edged out of the ZPM room.  “Why do I have a feeling that’s not a good thing?” 

The blinking light on the tubes nearest the ZPM room suddenly began to blink faster.  Ronon covered his eyes and threw himself to the ground as the device clicked a warning, then exploded in a small shower of dust and debris. 

He raised himself up on an arm, surprised at the effect of what had appeared to be a bomb causing so little damage.  He’d barely felt the force of the blow. 

“Was that it?” asked Lorne. 

Ronon just had time to gesture him down as a light flash suddenly rose from the destroyed conduit, traveling past them and encountering the first of the smaller blinking devices Ronon had found.  With a snap, the device fired off, sizzling the piping and causing even more energy to travel further down the line.  Ronon pulled to his feet, chasing the trail around the corner, watching as each device in sequence initiated and fried more and more of the cable-like structure. 

By the time it reached the end of the hallway, the cables had lit up in a blaze of bright light, which shot upwards, out of Ronon’s sight, traveling up the conduits towards the control area. 

“Not a good thing,” said Lorne, moving up alongside him.  

As if in response, the City above them suddenly groaned.

 

--/--

 

Amelia had replaced Chuck at the dialing console.  John moved forward, P-90 raised, and took a step onto the bridge as the Replicator moved back further into Woolsey’s office.  He was curious as to how exactly she was going to get to the Gate once it was active.  Even if she went back out the other door, she had to have known she’d never make it across the Gateroom. 

The chevrons on the Gate began to light up, and the Replicator’s gaze flickered towards them, keeping an eye on the lights as they displayed the sequence—probably making sure they didn’t attempt to space gate her again.  At the moment, it was a thought pleasant to John, the idea of this particular Replicator being thrown into that black void. 

The fifth chevron had lit up, and the sixth was darting around the circle.  Amelia’s hand hovered over the console, when McKay, who’d barely been paying attention, suddenly cried out, “WAIT!” 

He was a millisecond too late.  Bank’s hand slapped down onto the symbol, finalizing the sequence.  John noted that the Replicator’s smile grew as McKay and the rest watched the address lock into place.  

“EVERYONE DOWN!” screamed Rodney.  The control room staff did their best ducking maneuvers as the wormhole burst into life.  

Nothing happened. 

The pool settled, and John returned his focus to the Replicator.  A P-90 wouldn’t do much damage, but perhaps enough to gain the upper hand, whatever she was planning. 

Rodney peeked up from behind the console as Woolsey rolled his eyes, pulling to his feet by the balcony.  “Doctor McKay…” 

There was a heavy rumbling through the bowels of the city as John glanced around in surprise.  The entire Tower was vibrating.   As if that wasn’t enough, the consoles behind him had begun a makeshift fireworks show.  

The rumbling grew louder, and Woolsey grabbed the railing in front of him as the City started to shake.   “Rodney?” 

The workstation in front of Zelenka suddenly exploded in a shower of energy and electricity, forcing the scientist to backpedal away from it.  Movement through the windows distracted John from the sight, and he turned towards them in time to see the glimmering wave of the shield descending away from them, down into the ocean. 

“Rodney,” breathed Woolsey, his eyes on the sky outside, where the shield had been.  “What just happened?” 

Rodney was addressing the problems with the consoles, yelling something about conduits and energy bursts and too much power.  

John turned to the Replicator.  “What did you do?” 

A smile was her only response.  

Above them, the air was suddenly alight with missiles, and warning blips lit up the screens behind Banks’ unmanned console.  

“Incoming!” someone yelled.

Time, caught in that eternal beat of anticipation before impact, slowed before him.  The chaos of the control smoothed into a syncopated flow of bodies prepping for the impending blast, with technicians scrambling for the stairways or crouching behind their consoles.  Just one moment.  

That was all that was left. 

The first missiles slammed into the unprotected City with brutal force, striking Atlantis all across its massive span.  The City lurched with the force of the impact, and John felt his feet give way underneath him.  He stumbled and grasped for the railings of the bridge, catching himself as the City tilted.  

“Rodney!” He shouted.  “What the—“ 

“We’ve lost the shield!” shouted Rodney, holding tightly to one of the consoles and trying to avoid the sparks flying from it.   His eyes were studying readings coming through on the still functioning monitors.  “Stabilizing systems have been affected…there’s already significant damage on the West Pier, two of the towers on the South—I can’t get the power back to the shield!” 

Another series of projectiles whistled through the air, and he stopped rattling off his status report, his eyes widening.  “Not good! 

The skies near the City suddenly lit up, full of golden objects rising from the ocean. 

Drones. 

Carson.  

The drones worked like countermeasures, the contravening fire preventing any more direct hits to the City.  But the interference only saved them half the damage—the shockwaves of impact were so close they rattled Atlantis severely, shattering windows and causing the thick walls to shake.  The bridge John was on started to quiver with the force of the City’s movement, vibrating all the way through the metal railings.  

A whistling sound filled the air.  John looked across the Gateroom towards the outer balcony, barely managing to shield his face as a rogue missile burst through the great stained glass window, sending the colored fragments exploding in all directions.  The missile zipped through the open space, slamming into the far wall, across from the staircase. 

The Tower rattled heavily upon impact, the City groaning and lurching in protest.  Aftershocks traveled around the walls, the plant sconces and lights exploding, as a cloud of dust and smoke enveloped the Gateroom.  The panels of glass making up the sides of Woolsey’s office shattered in turn, forcing the Replicator to the ground in order to shield herself from the shards that blew inwards. 

The reverberations also shook the bridge; vibrating it so heavily John felt his teeth rattle.  There was a thick, cracking sound, and fissures opened up across the bridge’s surface, towards the inner balcony.  He threw himself towards Woolsey’s office as the structure began to crack and collapse beneath his feet, chunks of the once sturdy walkway raining down onto the floor below with a crash. 

More drones fired off from Atlantis, apparently trying to counter any missiles shot from the Wraith Hive higher up in the atmosphere, away from the City.  John struggled to pull himself up on the ledge, his feet kicking uselessly in mid-air. 

A pair of white-clad legs stepped in front of him, and he looked up into the calm and collected face of the Replicator.  Amidst the chaos of screams and shouts now echoing through the Gateroom and the plumes of dust and debris floating around the damaged City, she appeared the perfect picture of poise and control. 

John wanted to rip her apart, nanite by nanite. 

“I’m so sorry, John,” she said quietly, her eyes taking on an empathetic look.  She looked that way even as she lifted Ronon’s blaster to point it in his face.  “That it had to be like this.” 

“No,” a soft voice interrupted. 

Weir, the human version, was standing in the far corner of the office near Woolsey’s desk, surveying the chaos in horror.  As her gaze fell on the Replicator, standing over John, her expression hardened.  “What have you done?” 

“What was necessary,” replied the Replicator.  “And now…” 

“Now, no more,” Weir interrupted, lifting her arm.  To John’s surprise, she was carrying an ARG, and without a moment’s hesitation she fired.  The wave of energy stunned the Replicator.  John used the time to reach up for one of the frames that had held the glass walls, attempting to pull himself up and slicing his forearm rather nicely with the jagged remains of the glass in the process.  The sky lit up again as more missiles and counter-missiles, or rather counter-drones, collided. 

Weir worked her way to the bridge, but as she did another missile shot towards them, intercepted right at the edge of the now exposed control room by a drone.  The explosion was so close it was deafening, producing a shockwave that rattled the Gate in its supports and shook the entire outer balcony.  The crack beneath the inner balcony near where Woolsey was standing split open further and broke away from the metal rails, crumbling with such swiftness Richard barely had time to shout before he disappeared down to the Gateroom floor.  

A second set of explosions impacted somewhere above them, near the Jumper Bay.   The City lurched drunkenly with the force of them, tilting so much it seemed to tip sideways.  Halfway to him, Weir couldn’t maintain her balance and tumbled to the ground, sliding across the floor towards the broken windows.  She looked over at John with a panicked expression, but with nothing to hold on to, both she and the barely awakened Replicator were flung over the window frames and down to the Gateroom floor below. 

The City began a slow rock back in the other direction.  John’s grip was weakening, the blood on his hands making holding onto the window frame difficult.  Behind him, he could make out McKay shouting out orders from the dust-obscured control room.    

Rodney’s alive.  That’s good.  He can fix this. 

As he turned to glance behind him, the control room area burst into a bright ball of light and heat, blinding him for a moment.  The radio, which had been chirping non-stop since the first attack, suddenly went dead. 

He couldn’t think.  His vision was spotty and clouded, his ears ringing.  He couldn’t quite grasp what was happening. 

Bright green eyes occupied his thoughts.  

Mayel. 

No. 

Elizabeth. 

She was sprawled out across the floor of the Gateroom, a trickle of blood running across her forehead.  Her eyes were open.  But she blinked once, and relief flooded through him, inexplicably.  Just for a moment, until the Replicator stepped into view over her, perfectly whole and functioning.  Her gaze followed Elizabeth’s, to where he was hanging from the frame, and she lifted Ronon’s blaster, still in her hand and fired.

He released his hold as the frame exploded with the blasts, slamming heavily into the remnants of the bridge below.  Dust and then darkness, clouded his sight.  The only thing he could make out was the blue of the Gate, still shimmering and perfectly sound, despite the chaos milling around it.  

The Replicator was backing towards it; Elizabeth was back on her feet and locked in a chokehold, struggling against her but powerless to get free.  It was a scene familiar, somehow. 

There was nothing you had. 

He blinked, his mind clearing.  Franibeth had said that, before everything had gone to Hell. 

Nothing we had.  Something we got.  We got Elizabeth.  

She needed Elizabeth.  The Primus.    

The real-real thing. 

Elizabeth looked scared, locked in the Replicator’s grasp, her eyes pleading with him to help her.  But he couldn’t move.  He could do nothing.  

ARG blasts sounded above him, and Ronon appeared through the clouds of dust and smoke, firing at the Replicator. 

It struck her, and, as with the blasts before, she was momentarily stunned.  Elizabeth broke away, but as the Replicator regained control, much more quickly this time, she yanked Elizabeth forcefully back, fired a blast at Ronon, and resumed moving towards the Gate, Elizabeth struggling every step of the way. 

He tried to pull himself up as Ronon crouched down near him.  The missile fire sounded as though it had slowed; John could hear more sounds from the control room above them.  Having seen John conscious, Ronon stepped carefully over the debris, ARG still lifted, and stalked towards the Replicator.  

Her expression narrowed in frustration.  The fight with Elizabeth was taking too long; she wasn’t going to make the Gate in time to avoid Ronon’s approach. 

She tossed Ronon’s blaster and thrust her hand into Elizabeth’s head. 

Elizabeth grimaced as the Replicator released her from the chokehold, forcing Elizabeth to her knees.  The Replicator stood over her, expression intense, ignoring the ARG blasts that were washing over her.  The probe was causing Elizabeth extreme pain, and John was reminded of Koracen as Elizabeth had dismantled him.   Ronon quickened his step, scooping up his blaster where Franibeth had thrown it and switching it to stun. 

Elizabeth’s hand suddenly shot up, grabbing the Replicator’s arm in a death grip.  Blood was running down from her nose, but with effort she withdrew the Replicator’s hand.  The Replicator’s eyes widened, and she struggled, powerless against Elizabeth’s grasp, as Elizabeth rose to her feet, her hand pushing towards the Replicator’s head. 

Ronon fired at them, the stunners hitting both women.  Elizabeth released the Replicator, who, unaffected, backhanded Elizabeth powerfully enough to knock her across the Gateroom floor, then turned and bolted for the portal.  

She looked back and caught John’s eye, a soft smile on her face, right before stepping through, preceding’s Ronon’s second attack by only a few milliseconds.  Her form, disappearing into the Stargate, was the last thing he saw as the wormhole dissolved and the Gateroom faded into darkness.

 

FINIS, PRIMUM MOVENS, PART I

 

To be continued...

blog comments powered by Disqus