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Primum Movens, Part II, CH I

<<< Read Primum Movens, Part I, Ch I

 

AND NOW FOR THE CONTINUATION... 

 

Atlantis was rattling and shaking.  People were screaming as the City shook unsteadily. 

It was rising from the ocean, from beneath the protective waves of ocean water, rising towards the surface to stand as it had ten thousand years ago, when the Ancients had commanded it, and the Pegasus Galaxy, before the Wraith had chased them away.

No.  That has already happened.  I was there when that happened. 

This isn’t right. 

“Doctor Weir.” 

Elizabeth opened her eyes, trying to blink away the fog clouding her vision.  The first thing she saw was the concerned face of Ronon bent over her, his blaster in his hand.  

The sounds around her started rising in volume: screams, shouts, commands and orders, along with tremors and the crackle of electricity.  Something had happened, something devastating to Atlantis.  

Why couldn’t she remember what?  

She pushed herself to a sitting position, wincing at a sharp, stabbing pain that arose in her head, and gazed around.  Technicians and Marines were running to and fro throughout the Gateroom, which, if she wasn’t mistaken, was slowly shifting side to side, as though the City itself was being rocked. 

“Ronon,” she whispered.  Her gaze fell on her office—what remained of her office.  The glass windows were broken, and the bridge… 

The bridge… 

Not my office.  Woolsey’s office.  John was on the bridge. 

She pulled to her feet.  Beneath where the bridge had been was a pile of rubble.  She could barely make out John’s form cradled among it, one arm, scratched and bleeding, lying across the broken parts.  She took a few steps forward, but Ronon placed a restraining hand on her shoulder, his gaze tentative, as if uncertain whether to let her discover the truth—or whether to trust her at all. 

The memories came rushing back, almost overwhelming her and she lifted a hand to her head.  A Replicator version of her, one who looked like a replicator Rodney had built, appearing in the infirmary.  Attacking her.  Causing the explosions in the control room. 

Causing the attack on Atlantis. 

“No,” she murmured, looking around with clear understanding for the first time.  The great window was gone, its remains blown across the Gateroom with such force they pockmarked the opposing walls.  

Above her, the control room was alight.  Fires were being put out on various pieces of equipment and portions of the floor were gone, including the inner balcony, which had collapsed completely.   

A section of wall across from the window was blown in.   Lights and sconces had exploded with the force of the explosions, littering the floor with debris. 

Worst were the bodies, various Atlantis personnel in unknown states, dropped to the floor by the unexpected, brutal attack.  

An attack perpetuated by someone they had trusted.  Someone who had claimed to be her.  It was something she didn’t fully understand but what she knew many of them had believed. 

Small lights lit up the sky through the broken window, and Elizabeth could see another wave of missiles coming from the Wraith Hive piloted by the Replicator, Altus.  His face was clear in her memories, though she was certain she had never met him before.  Instinctively, she seemed to know everything that had happened between him and the Replicator version of her. 

Drones rose from the ocean, moving to intercept the missiles.  They did so efficiently and effectively, stopping the projectiles from doing any more damage, but she knew that if the City took any more hits, it would be impossible to salvage, if it weren’t already. 

She heard shouts from the control room above and one very familiar voice. 

Rodney. 

Before Ronon could stop her she’d bolted past him, working her way through the glass and debris to make it to the stairs.  At the entrance to the Gateroom, Keller had appeared, a cut on her brow but her expression all business.  Her medical staff clambered carefully over the ruins of the bridge as she bent down to attend to John.  Teyla, standing behind her, surveyed the Gateroom in horror, her expression shock as she gazed between John’s inert form and the chaos of the Tower. 

The control area was a mess, a collection of singed equipment, beeping lights and fritzing machines.  Most of the technicians were conscious, though a few had bad cuts and burns.  

Rodney was thankfully in good shape, dodging between consoles with workmanlike efficiency.  Zelenka, off to his left, was doing the same. 

“McKay,” Ronon said, over her shoulder.  He hadn’t bothered to try and restrain her this time around. 

“Little busy here right now!”  Rodney snipped. 

“We need to get the shield up,” she said.  The sound of her voice caught Rodney’s attention, and he blinked once in surprise, looking up at her and then at Ronon as though questioning exactly why she was standing in front of him, giving him orders. 

When Ronon didn’t answer, Rodney glanced back at her.  “You’ve got some—”  He gestured with his hand towards her nose.  “Right there.” 

She lifted a fingertip to her nose, which was bleeding, and swiped it away with a portion of her sleeve.  “Rodney, focus.  Shield.”  

“Uh, yeah,” he replied, looking back down at his datapad.  The information rolling across it seemed to snap him back into work mode.  “The Replicator, um…you…attacked the conduit lines from the Zed PM room to the shield generators.  There’s no way to channel power from the Zed PM to the shield.” 

“You need to figure it out.  The City won’t be able to withstand another attack.” 

“You don’t think I know that?” he snapped, and everything was back to normal again. 

“How is it you’re able to monitor—and how is the Chair still works?” Ronon asked, as another wave of drones flew up out of the Atlantis arsenal. 

“She only destroyed what she needed to drop the shield.  Certain other systems were affected because of how they’re linked in,” Rodney explained.  “But the lines to the Chair were unaffected, thank god.” 

“She knew she couldn’t tamper with them,” Elizabeth answered.  Rodney and Ronon both stared at her in surprise. 

“If the Chair had fired up while she was setting up the charges, it could have ruined her entire plan,” she said.  She fixed Rodney with a look she hoped was assertive.  “We can figure out how exactly I know that later.  Right now, the most important thing is figuring out how we get power back to the shield generators.  Whoever’s in the Chair…who is in the Chair, by the way?” 

“Carson,” said Ronon. 

“Carson won’t be able to—did you just say Carson?  Carson Beckett?” 

“He’s actually pretty good with it,” Rodney answered.  “I think Woolsey was going to promote him over Sheppard…”  His voice trailed off and he glanced towards the bridge and balcony. 

She raised her voice a little, drawing his attention back.  “Carson won’t be able to keep this up.  Think.  Shield.  How can we get it up and running?” 

“It’s impossible.  With the conduits damaged there’s no way of getting any power to its emitters from the Zed PM chamber, and the backup naquadah generators are not strong enough to power it.  You know that.” 

Elizabeth raised a fist to her lips, thinking.  Another projectile slammed into a portion of the City, forcing them to grasp the consoles to keep from sliding as it lurched again.  Atlantis groaned in protest. 

Rodney snapped his fingers.  “Think.  Think think think think!  Zed PM.  Conduits.  Um…” 

“What about that subroutine we wrote for when the shield needed to be charged in one full burst?” asked Zelenka.  

“We’d need a massive power burst,” Rodney replied.  “Plus, the City is full of people.  If we tried using the halls as conduits, who knows who’d be caught in the crossfire.  GAH!  If I could just get the Zed PM’s energy around the destroyed conduits…” 

“So do it.”  Elizabeth said. 

He blinked at her.  “What?” 

“Hook the ZPM up to the shield.” 

“We can’t just hook it up to the shield—it’s not a disposable battery pack!  Not to mention there are multiple emitters, subroutines we’d have to…” 

“I know that, Rodney,” she said, drawing closer to him.  “But I also remember you managed to hook up a Jumper’s cloaking device to the shield and turn it into a cloak during the Siege.  In record time, I might add.” 

“This isn’t exactly a cloaking situation!” 

“Doctor Weir is correct, however,” Zelenka said, his expression thoughtful.  Apparently Elizabeth’s reappearance had not fazed him as much as some.  “When we converted the shield to a cloak during the Wraith attack our first year here we wrote a subroutine to link the emitters.  Similar to the lightning, only this…” 

“Linked them directly,” finished Rodney.  “So one emitter would share the information with them all!”  He snapped his fingers.  “If we can hook up the Zed PM to one emitter and modify the subroutine we used to turn the shield to cloak, we can directly power the shield with the Zed PM!” 

Elizabeth looked at Zelenka with a knowing smile.  The Czech scientist shook his head and grinned.  

“What about the other systems?” Ronon asked.   “If you pull the ZPM…” 

Elizabeth looked at him.  “Our first year here, all the Primary systems except the shield ran on naquadah generators because we didn’t have a ZPM.   Providing those generators are still in place—“ 

“They are.  We use them as backups,” Rodney said.  He was looking at her with something like respect.  “How did you remember all of that?” 

“I’ve had a little experience with eleventh hour saves,” said Elizabeth. 

 Rodney’s expression tightened.  “Right.” 

She smiled.  “You can fix this, Rodney.  Do it.  Save our city.” 

He lifted his eyes to her and nodded once, firmly.  “We’ll need to make sure pulling the Zed PM won’t affect the Chair.  Zelenka.  Can you get down there, hook up a spare generator to it?” 

“Of course,” Radek said.  “But who will initiate the commands here?” 

“I can do that,” said a young woman Elizabeth wasn’t familiar with, though she couldn’t help but note the look of relief that was written quite plainly over Ronon’s face as she walked up.  

“Amelia—“ he started.  

“I’m fine,” she answered brusquely, though her eyes flickered towards him more than once.  “Just let me know what you need me to do, Doctor McKay.” 

“Ronon.  You.  Now.  Let’s go.”  Rodney trotted off towards the back steps, but the Satedan didn’t move, looking between Elizabeth and McKay with some concern. 

“I will stay with her, Ronon,” said a soft voice behind them.  Elizabeth turned as Teyla made her way into the control room.  

“Radio me…oh, crap,” Rodney said, glancing at the communications console.  It was offline, the entire thing apparently having blown up during the attack.  “Great.  Now what do we do?” 

“I believe Colonel Sheppard would call it ‘old school’,” Teyla said, reaching into a pack and handing him and Zelenka walkie-talkies.  “I noticed the communications were down on our way to the Gateroom.  Use channel two.  We will keep you apprised of the situation here.” 

Rodney stopped his grousing for a moment.  “And, um, Colonel Sheppard?” 

Teyla’s expression softened just a bit.  “It appears he will make it.” 

Rodney cleared his throat, then nodded, his expression returning to authoritativeness.  “As soon as the Zed PM’s hooked up, I’ll let you know.” 

He and Ronon took off down the back stairs, followed by Radek.  Amelia went to work, throwing a few precarious glances at Elizabeth every now and again. 

She looked across the chaos of the control room.  Keller’s people had spread out and were attending the fallen.  There was no indication how many of them were hopeless cases. 

Her chest felt heavy, and the image of John flickered through her still pounding head.  “Exactly how bad is the Colonel?” she asked. 

“He has a head wound and is still unconscious, but Jennifer does not think it is serious,” Teyla replied quietly.  “Her greater concern is Mister Woolsey.” 

“Richard?” 

“Apparently he fell with the balcony,” Teyla said, nodding towards the cracked floor nearby.  “He has suffered some head trauma.” 

Elizabeth closed her eyes and swallowed.  The expedition head, suffering a serious head wound from an attack on the Tower?  It was like the world had come full circle.  

She pushed the thought from her mind.  “And your...Kanaan and your son?” 

“They were in our quarters when the attacks began.”  Teyla’s calm demeanor showed the first signs of distress.  “With no communications I have not heard from them.  I can only hope…” She stopped speaking and took a breath.  “We cannot always change what is dictated as our fate.  I can only hope.”  She looked over at Elizabeth.  “We must not give up hope.” 

Elizabeth shook her head softly.  “No.  We mustn’t.” 

 

--/--

 

Ronon was having to jog, surprisingly, to keep pace with Rodney, who was walking faster than normal McKay pace, even for an emergency.  

Below the Tower, the City looked almost normal.  The sounds of attack were muffled by the windowless walls, and seemed to have let up for a moment.  No one walking these halls, beyond the fried conduits along the walls, would notice anything different. 

McKay trotted into the ZPM room where Lorne and his men were still stationed.  The Major came over as McKay went directly to the ZPM console and began to fiddle with it. 

“What happened?”  He asked.  “Radio’s dead.” 

“Shield’s down,” Ronon said.  “The Hive is firing on Atlantis, and the City took a couple of direct hits, a few in the Gateroom.” 

“The control area?” 

“It’s a mess.” 

Lorne swallowed.  “Damage?” 

“Pretty bad.”  Ronon kept his expression stoic as a few of the Marines glanced at him with worried eyes.  “Sheppard’s down.   Not sure about Woolsey.  And there are others—too many.” 

“Did they find the Weirs?” Lorne asked. 

“The Replicator got away,” Ronon said, gritting his teeth.  He could still see her face, smiling at them, as she walked through the Gate. 

“And the other one?” 

“She’s…under guard,” Ronon said, feeling, for some reason, not up to sharing more about that.  In his head, he knew he ought to have taken her out from the outset.  But his gut instinct had stopped him.  Instead, he let her not only run around but give McKay orders.  Sheppard would have had a fit. 

But considering everything, he really didn’t care.  It felt right and he’d learned to trust his instincts. 

“Okay, we’re going to auxiliary…” Rodney slapped on his headset a couple of times.  “Hello?  Hey!” 

“McKay.”  Ronon nodded towards the walkie on Rodney’s belt.  The scientist followed his gesture, rolled his eyes and snatched the walkie from his waist.  “Zelenka.  Are you ready to go?” 

“I have checked the power going into the Chair,” Zelenka said.  “All readings indicate it will remain functioning on the auxiliary power, but it must not remain that way for long.  I have procured a spare generator and will attempt to hook it up to supply additional power.  But I am afraid that if we lose power to the Chair, we will not be able to restart it again, so please, hurry.” 

“Well, there goes my plans for a casual stroll through the City!” 

“We’re ready up here, Doctor McKay,” said Amelia.  Ronon felt his heartbeat quicken at the sound of her voice.  He’d never been more relieved to see anyone all right.  “Everything is prepped for the switchover that can be.  We can go on your mark.” 

“Carson?” 

“There’s been a bit of a break in the attack,” Carson said over the walkie.  “If you’re going to do this Rodney, I suggest you do it quickly.” 

“Okay, then, on my mark.  Three, two, one.”  He slapped on a console button, and the ZPM powered down.  It took a few seconds, after which Rodney’s fingers started tapping uncontrollably, but the City lights flickered for just a few moments, then came back on in auxiliary power mode, the machines around them beginning to whir once more.  McKay observed everything out of the corner of his eye and punched the talk button on the walkie. 

“Zelenka?” 

“The Chair is functioning,” Zelenka reported.  “Though it is pulling quite significantly on the auxiliary power.  I will begin working on the second generator now.” 

“I am able to sense the drones,” Carson added. 

“We have power restored to the main grid for life support and back-up power,” Amelia added.  “And communications, I think I can get that back up through a secondary console.” 

“On my way to the nearest generator.  Carson, don’t expend the extra energy unless you have to.” 

“I’m not playing a video game, Rodney,” Beckett said.  “Just hurry.” 

“Yeah, yeah,” Rodney muttered, toting the ZPM down the hallway, tucked under one arm.  “You coming?” 

Ronon gestured at Lorne.  “They could probably use your help upstairs.” 

“Got it.  Good luck, Doctor,” the Major said cordially.  Rodney ignored him, widening his eyes in impatience at Ronon and strode off towards the closest emitter.

 

--/--

 

Jennifer surveyed the control room, trying to maintain focus despite the devastation at hand.  It wasn’t as difficult as she thought; she’d always been about the job—it was one of the reasons she was able to do what she did. 

Still, sights like these wouldn’t be easily forgotten once she had time to sit back and assess them. 

Beneath her hands, Colonel Sheppard groaned and lifted his head a few inches from the floor.  They’d been able to ascertain no breaks in key areas, but he was going to have a heck of a headache, a sore right arm and some serious bumps and bruises.    

“Ow,” he stated matter-of-factly.  

“Colonel, can you move your legs for me?”  

He blinked a few times and squinted a bit to gather who was hovering over him and ordering him around.  “Keller?” 

“Yep.  Move your legs, please.” 

He frowned and wiggled both feet awkwardly.  She grinned.  “Now your hands.” 

He lifted both arms like he was being cuffed.  “Did I pass the test?” 

“Maybe a broken head, but you’ll live,” she said.  “I want to do a CAT scan, make sure there isn’t a concussion.” 

“There isn’t.  No more than yours, anyway.  I didn’t hit my head, I hit my—“ his eyes widened and he suddenly seemed to remember what had happened.  “The ship.” 

“Still firing on us,” she said.  “The Shield is down.  Carson’s managed to hold off most of the damage, but we’re still in danger.  Rodney’s trying to power up the shield now.”  

“Rodney’s okay?  Good.”  John sat himself up as Jennifer lifted her hands to try and restrain him, though she didn’t bother to hide a smile. 

“He’s okay.  Would you please lie still for at least two seconds?” 

“Not now, Doc,” he said.  He winced and she knew he was fighting off dizziness and probably some nausea. 

“Colonel—“ 

“There’s more to worry about at the moment than my head,” he said softly, as he regained his equilibrium enough to look around the damaged Gateroom.  There was a moment of silence as he observed the chaos.  Just a second’s worth. 

Then, his expression changed.  “Where’s Woolsey?” 

“We took him to the infirmary.  He has some pretty bad injuries.” 

“Who’s running the City?” 

“Best I can gather?  Rodney.  With a little help from Doctor Weir.” 

“Weir?”  Concern flashed across his face.  “Where is she?” 

Jennifer nodded to the control room, and he rose, keening a little as his equilibrium was challenged again.  He steadied himself then turned back to her.  “Keep me updated on Woolsey’s status.” 

“Colonel—” 

“Just keep me updated.” 

“Fine.” 

He trotted off towards the Gateroom staircase.  She picked up her bag, used to the hero routine by now and moved to the next most critical patient.

 

--/--

 

Teyla watched as Elizabeth studied one of the few functioning consoles, concentrating on the interactions between Rodney, Zelenka and Amelia Banks. 

She appeared as concerned as anyone else, but then Teyla had trusted the other version of her as well, and what was happening now was a result of that trust. 

She tried not to think of Kanaan and of Torren.  Their fates were already decided, it would do her no good to worry, but the despair that entered her heart at the thought of the worst was almost too much to bear.  

The sound of footsteps behind her forced her to turn, and she welcomed the sight of John, covered in dust and debris and with a few cuts and bruises but looking mostly unharmed. 

“Colonel,” she said quietly. 

John’s eyes were on Elizabeth, who looked up at him first in surprise, then in relief.  “John.” 

“How much did you know?” he asked coldly. 

Elizabeth frowned, her forehead crinkling in confusion.  “Of what she was planning?  Nothing.”  

“You do not know what she wanted?” Teyla asked quietly.   “Why she would try and attack you?” 

“I’m not sure.”  Her hand fluttered to her forehead.  “Though the plan, and some of her thoughts, came across when she probed my mind.  Whatever she was doing, it was intense.” 

“She did not have much time in the infirmary to affect you,” said Teyla, with a sideways glance at John. 

“She tried the same thing again,” said Elizabeth.  “Before she went through the Gate.  We were connected for more than a few seconds.” 

“It looked like she was trying to kill you,” John said.  “She—you—other you, when she was you, I mean—it ‘d been done like that before, with one of her other Replicator followers.” 

“I don’t know.”  Her eyes met John’s, the expression on her face resolute.  “If she managed to manipulate my nanites, given what’s just happened, I would understand if you have a problem with my being here.” 

John made a face as Amelia kept her eyes glued to her console, not wanting to look at any of them.  He thought for a moment, then sighed.  “We’ve got bigger fish to fry right now than whether or not you’ll go rogue on us.  At least I can handle that, you’re not really a replicator.” 

Teyla tried not to glance down at the P-90 in his hand.  Elizabeth nodded, though her eyes widened a little. 

“What’s the status?” he asked, sounding a bit more like himself.  Elizabeth looked over at her, and Teyla nodded to her to continue control of the situation. 

“Rodney is heading to the shield generator with the ZPM.” 

“The ZPM?”  John’s expression grew alarmed.  “What about—” 

“They’re using the naquadah generators to power the City,” she interrupted.  “We checked and made sure the Chair would function on their power.  It and the other functioning Primary systems are all fine so far.” 

“How long’s it been quiet out there?” 

“About five minutes.”  Elizabeth looked through the wide-open window to the sky, which was empty of anything save the smoke flowing upwards from the damaged portions of Atlantis.  “Though it’s not over.  I believe Altus’s intention is to destroy the City, now that the Replicator is gone.” 

“How would he know that?” Teyla asked.  

“My guess?  He can either track her, or he could sense her,” Elizabeth answered. 

“Subspace connection,” John offered.  When the women looked at him curiously he nodded towards Elizabeth.  “You did it last time.  I mean, she—uh, it.  You know, the bad you.” 

She raised an eyebrow but said nothing and instead picked up the walkie-talkie near her elbow.  “Rodney, any word?” 

“It would go faster if I didn’t get asked so many questions!” 

“The Rodney McKay I remember managed to fix things AND answer questions at the same time,” Elizabeth said.  “Has that much time really passed?” 

“Excuse me?!” 

Teyla caught a small grin flash across John’s face, before Elizabeth, rolling her eyes, looked towards them.  “Good to see Rodney hasn’t changed much.” 

“I can hear you!” 

“Here they come!” Shouted Carson across the walkie.  “Another round just cleared the atmosphere!” 

Drones rose from the ocean, rising to meet in the incoming fire.  But it was not as many as before, and only about three-quarters of them intercepted the missiles.  The remainder slammed into the Eastern side of the City, shaking them all where they stood. 

“The Chair is sluggish,” Carson said.  “I don’t—” 

“That’s the power differential,” John said.  “Carson, you’re going to have to be more strategic with your strikes.” 

“Oh, sure.  Because that’s so bloody easy!” 

“Rodney?” 

“I cannot go any faster by you repeatedly saying my name!” McKay snapped.  

“Why did all the missiles land on the eastern side of the City?” asked Teyla.   “None impacted the Tower as they did before.” 

“He must have cut them off,” John said.  “The way they’re positioned, those would be intercepted first.” 

“No, Teyla’s right,” Elizabeth said, walking past them towards the balcony.  “Those missiles struck pretty far away from the Tower.” 

John followed her as she moved through the balcony door.  The rails of the balcony were warped and bent in a few places, the sconces gone, but the balcony itself remained attached to the side of the Tower.  She began to walk upon it when John placed a restraining arm on her shoulder. 

Elizabeth looked back at him, and he shook his head.  “Might be unstable.  Better not try it.” 

She swallowed and remained where she was, rising on tiptoe to see around the far side.  From the eastern pier, smoke was rising. 

“He attacked it on purpose,” Elizabeth said.  “It’s—“ 

Another group of missiles entered the atmosphere, and John yanked her backwards, shoving her and Teyla into the depths of the control room.  Once more drones rose from the ocean, but again, they were less numerous in number than previous counterattacks.  More projectiles struck the eastern side of the City but remained away from the Tower. 

A thought flashed through Teyla’s mind, one that appeared a bit silly considering the circumstances, but the parallel seemed correct. 

“It is like your Titanic, is it not?”  She asked. 

Titanic?”  John frowned at her.  “The ship?” 

“The movie,” she replied.  “In the movie, did the ship not break apart and sink because one portion was flooded, which then flooded the remaining parts?” 

John turned to Elizabeth, who looked upon them both in horror, and snatched the walkie from her. 

“Rodney, we need that shield up right NOW!” 

“I told you—“ 

“Look, unless you want to be repairing this thing from the bottom of the ocean you better figure out a way to speed it up!” 

“Bottom of the oc—wait, he’s trying to sink it?  Oh, of course he’s trying to sink it!  Just great!” 

“Just do it, McKay!  Or we’re all going down with the ship!”  He lowered the walkie in frustration, nostrils flared, thinking.  “We’ve got to find some way to slow him down.” 

“I think—yes!“  

They turned to Amelia Banks, who’d clapped her hands together in elation.  She caught them staring at her and looked sheepish.  “Sorry.  I’ve got communications up again.” 

As she pressed the button to initiate, a high pitched screech sounded through Teyla’s headset, and she pulled it from her ear quickly.  John did the same, making a face.  “Banks!” 

“Sorry…sorry, Colonel,” she said.  “It’s online now.”  

He reinserted his headpiece.  Teyla hesitated for a moment, knowing full well the sound now currently screeching over the system was Rodney complaining.  Elizabeth looked bemusedly at her as she frowned and reinserted her headpiece. 

John rolled his eyes as Rodney’s sniping quieted.  Elizabeth walked over to Amelia, who took a few tiny steps to her left.  “Is the communications system capable of communicating with objects beyond the City?” 

“It has the same functionality as before,” Amelia answered.  “We just don’t have the long range.” 

“I think…I think I might have an idea,” Elizabeth said, turning to John.  He looked over at her suspiciously.  “But you’re not going to like it.” 

“Does it involve the Replicator?  Because you’re right, I probably won’t,” he replied. 

“Do you want to save Atlantis or not?” she asked, quietly, but with the determination Teyla remembered so well.  It fanned a small flame of hope deep in Teyla’s heart.

 

 

--/--

 

 

Carson grasped more firmly to the Chair controls, as though tightening his grip on the blobby mess could somehow enhance the power he felt slowly fading from the Chair.  

“I wish Rodney would hurry,” he murmured.  Above him, the defense monitoring system, which was thankfully still functioning, showed that Altus had fired another round of missiles towards them.  He concentrated and felt more drones rise from their hatches below the City, but he wasn’t connecting with as many as before.  

It wasn’t enough.  Without full control of the Chair, he was allowing Atlantis to fall beneath his fingertips. 

“I believe he is almost finished,” said Radek, as helpfully as he could.  He’d been trying to make enhancements to the power system with the second generator, but the truth was nothing worked like a ZPM. 

“Let’s hope you’re right.  Impact,” he said, gritting his teeth and reaching for more drones in preparation.

 

--/--

 

Standing in front of one of the undamaged monitors, Elizabeth, her fist at her lips, watched as Amelia calibrated her makeshift communications system.  In front of her, Jennifer’s team had tended to and cleared away most of the injured, so that all that remained with the battered portions of the Gateroom, cloudy with dust and smoke. 

John stood to her right, P-90 pointed towards her casually.  She turned and met his gaze, swallowed, then closed her eyes. 

Her head was pounding; throbbing with such force it almost didn’t feel quite attached.  But within the core of the pain, buried somewhere deep, she was sensing more of what the Replicator version of herself had been doing in Atlantis—memories and thoughts that were awakening slowly.  Buried within them were the reasons why she’d needed Elizabeth so badly. 

Amelia nodded that she’d finished with her repairs and had sent a communication towards the ship.  Elizabeth looked through the broken window at the skies, then back to the console, and morphed her expression from concerned to resolute. 

The face of Altus flashed upon the screen.  He observed them with interest, especially Elizabeth. 

“Doctor Weir,” he said. 

“Surprised to see me, Altus?” she asked.  “Your Replicator didn’t fulfill her end of the plan.” 

“I’m sure she did what was required of her,” he replied.  “She would not have left if she did not.  The rest will be taken care of shortly.” 

“I presume you mean the sinking of the City.  It’s not going to work.” 

“I would imagine the damage done would contradict this statement, Doctor Weir.  You are bluffing.” 

“After all of Oberoth’s experiences with us, the one thing you should all know about humans, at this point, is that their most annoying trait is resiliency.  They will survive where logically they should not.” 

“There is a limit to even that resiliency.” 

“Maybe.  But you’re not going to find it today.”  She took a step closer to the monitor.  “And when Atlantis is back up and running, you’re going to find that whatever that Replicator needed me for, my people will be able to turn it against you.” 

“You think you are very clever, Doctor Weir.  You are not.” 

“No?  There aren’t very many reasons anyone would go through all this trouble and take so many risks.  Just for one human?  I think it’s pretty clear what you were after.  You needed my nanites.  Or something they contain.” 

John and Teyla both stared at her in shock, and for the first time, Altus’s expression shifted to uncertainty. 

She took a step towards the monitors, dropping her voice.  “Look, if all you want is me, then you can have me.  Just stop this attack.” 

“Hold on,” John whispered harshly.  “What do you think you’re doing?” 

 “What I have to,” she said, glancing back at him.  She returned her focus to the monitor.  “If you want me, Altus, then I will find a way to get to you.  You’ll have what you need and you can leave here.  Nobody else gets hurt or infected.” 

The Replicator hesitated, though his expression did not betray his thoughts.  She waited on him patiently, knowing that any word or movement could sway his decision.  

“My counterpart has what we need,” he said finally.  “You are no longer necessary.” 

“Are you sure about that?  The last contact we had, I broke the link between us.  She was forced to retreat through the Stargate.  Whatever you were hoping for, if you destroy the City now, could be buried beneath the ocean to the point even you could not find it.” 

“I have faith she has procured what she set out to find.”  Altus replied coldly, “And if you are buried beneath the ocean with Atlantis, then I do not have anything more to fear, do I, Doctor Weir?  No.  I will take my chances with the destruction of your City and of all that remains of my creators.” 

The transmission shut off abruptly.  Elizabeth and the others turned towards the window, looking up at the sky, where projectiles were entering the atmosphere, towards Atlantis.  There were a cloud of them and they were banking off in all directions—a few heading straight for the Tower. 

“Carson,” John said quietly, but with insistence. 

Drones rose from the ocean, but not enough—nowhere near enough to counter the incoming missiles.  Elizabeth swallowed and closed her eyes. 

The sound of impact was dull and uneventful.  She opened her eyes in time to see the glimmering mass of the shield rising quickly from the ocean, blocking out the missiles, which thumped uselessly against its protective barrier. 

“Oh, thank goodness,” she murmured, taking a deep breath.  

John was on his radio, as a wave of drones flew out of the water.  No longer in defense mode, they zoomed towards space.  “Took you long enough, Rodney.” 

Whatever Rodney’s response was, it wasn’t kind, as John made a face, before replying.  “We managed to prevent the sinking of the City, if that’s what you’re asking.  And that’s—” 

“Colonel Sheppard?”  Amelia said.  “You should take a look at this.” 

John pursed his lips and moved over to her console.  Elizabeth and Teyla followed, staring as she pointed towards a blip in the sky. 

“The ship.  It’s leaving.” 

They watched as the blip flashed a few more times, pulling out of orbit, then disappeared altogether from the monitor.  

“Turned tail and ran,” John said.  “Figures.” 

“Made no logical sense for him to stay,” Elizabeth said.  

Teyla looked at her questioningly.  “How did you know of his plans—the need for your nanites?” 

“I didn’t.  But I figured I had a card up my sleeve when the Replicator version of me did the mind probe.  If they’d wanted me dead, it should have been simple enough just to kill me.”  John looked at her with a surprised expression.  She offered a small, knowing smile in return.  “I’m ninety-seven percent human, remember?  No, it wasn’t as simple as just wanting me gone.  She needed to connect with me for a reason, and the only thing she could have wanted from that type of connection had to be in my nanites.  He just confirmed it.” 

“Yeah, but why attack the City?” said John.  “If all they needed was to get the programming, why go through the trouble of getting you back here in the first place?  She knew where the capsule was—chances are she programmed the Primus coordinates into her nanites herself.  So why all the trouble?” 

“Doctor Weir wouldn’t be the only thing on Atlantis worth taking—or destroyed if the City was destroyed,” Amelia Banks said.  When they turned to her she looked up from her console, her eyes wide, as though she suddenly realized she’d spoken aloud. 

“Like what?” asked Elizabeth.  

Amelia swallowed.  “Um…” 

“Out with it, Banks,” John said.  

“Well, the Atlantis computers have all the information stored in them about Doctor McKay’s alterations to the Replicator base code, not to mention the schematics for the FRAN replicator herself and the lab that was used to create the other rebel versions.  Destroying Atlantis would destroy everything related to what we knew about them.” 

“Along with Rodney.  So they were trying to tie up some very loose ends,” John added.  “Making sure nobody survived who could muck with their future plans.” 

Elizabeth frowned.  “Still, attacking the entire City head on?  That doesn’t seem to be a very logical way to go about things,” said Elizabeth. 

John made a face.  “Uh, the last time these guys acted ‘logically’ they took out entire planets.” 

“And perhaps they are not wholly logical,” Teyla added.  “I believe Altus said that with you gone he would no longer have anything to fear.  And yet, they are replicators.  They are not supposed to speak in this manner, as though they are afraid.  But he was afraid of you.”  The Athosian took a step forward, lowering her P-90.  “You were able to overcome your nanites’ command of you, were you not?  And you were also able to control Oberoth.  In a way, if what you speculate was true, then you were both something they needed and something they feared.” 

“Which is why they wanted you here,” John added.  “They knew we would keep you contained, but more than likely wouldn’t destroy you.”  There was a little grittiness to his tone as he spoke.  He cleared his throat and went on.  “It gave them a controlled opportunity to both study you and take what they wanted, and once they had that, a clean cut way to take us all out in one swoop.” 

“Well, they have failed,” Teyla said firmly.  “And what’s more, they have confirmed for us all that what we most wished to know.” 

“What was that?” 

“That you are Elizabeth Weir,” she said.  “The version taken on Asuras.  You are—” 

“—the real real thing,” finished John.  There was no humor to his tone as he said it. 

“That might be true,” Elizabeth replied after a moment, looking at him.  “But at the end of the day, I still have nanites.  And as dangerous as they are to Altus, if he has gained any information about them or figures out a way to control them, I may be an even greater danger to you.  Especially now.”  

“Maybe.  But for the moment,” he said, as he looked over the ruined Gateroom, “we’ve got bigger things to worry about.”

 

>>> Continued in Primum Movens, Part II, CH II

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