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The Author is Evil

Evil Textually Rendered?


March 31st, 2006

Fic: Virtual (PG) @ 10:22 pm


Title: Virtual
Author: SGAtlantisLight
Characters: McKay, Sheppard, Lorne, Emmagan, Caldwell
Relationships: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: PG for this part, but series as a whole is likely to be NC-17
Warnings: A bit of language, evil cliffhanger
Spoilers: References to events (some somewhat different in this AU) in Aurora
Summary: Part 9 of the Unified Theory series-- an AU where Everett was never drained by the Wraith and kept his position as military commander of Atlantis.
Disclaimer: The characters, the setting, etc. are NOT mine, even if I wish they were.



The Aurora echoed with the kind of ghost sounds usually experienced in abandoned towns and old ruins. John and Teyla walked along, counting and occasionally peering into stasis pods.

They had found the Ancient warship devastated, the bridge breeched, completely powered down except for the power to the myriad pods which held decrepit Ancients, wrecked by the thousands of years of their long sleep. They had found one near the ruined bridge that held a man in a different uniform that they took to be the captain. Lorne had reported their findings to Caldwell while Rodney got minimal life support up and running so they didn't need to rely on their suits.

They listened to the byplay on their radios.

"There's something going on," Rodney was saying. "This pod is magnetically shielded. I'm reading cortical signals."

"What does that mean?" Lorne asked.

Rodney spoke excitedly. "The pod is equipped with a neural interface and indicating definite brain activity. It's as though they were perfectly conscious. If all of these pods are interconnected, it's highly possible these people are, in fact, communicating with each other."

"This has been going on for ten thousand years?" Caldwell asked.

"It's possible. It was a way of keeping their minds occupied until they were rescued. But more likely the interface was reactivated when the recall beacon from Atlantis was received. Either way, the neural feedback loop is incredibly active."

"Can we find out what they're saying?" Lorne asked.

"Yes, of course. It says right here: 'Why is the smart one having to stop and answer so many questions?’”

"Rodney!" John chided. "It's a reasonable question."

"Yes, yes. Being able to communicate with a living Ancient is the opportunity of a lifetime, but this is a highly complex system which I will have to... Wait a minute!"

"What have you got, Doc?" Lorne asked.

"John, Teyla, have you found any empty pods?"

"There are a few scattered here and there," John answered.

"Perfect! Is there one near you?"

The two of them looked around.

"Yes," Teyla answered. "There are a few nearby."

"Good. We'll meet you there."

***

"Are you sure this is safe, Doc?" Lorne asked, looking askance at the open pod.

"Would I be volunteering to go if it wasn't?" Rodney asked.

Lorne nodded. "Point. But it would make more sense for you to be out here in case something goes wrong."

"I highly doubt--"

"But if it does..." John said.

"It won't!"

"It would make more sense for a military person to go in, gather intel," Lorne said.

"What? Are you crazy? The scientific knowledge that could be gained and you want 10,000-year-old intelligence?"

"You never know what they might have turned up," John said. "They sure put up a hell of a fight for some reason."

Rodney glared. "Whose side are you on?"

"Rodney..."

"Okay, so I should go," Lorne said.

"No, I should. There may be scientific information you wouldn't be able to understand the importance of."

"Perhaps," Teyla said, "John should go. He is both a scientist and a former soldier."

Lorne and Rodney both glared at her.

"Serviceman," John corrected. "You don't refer to members of the Air Force as soldiers."

"He's not allowed to go do stupid, heroic things," Rodney said.

John arched an eyebrow. "I thought you said it was safe."

"Well... it is... But you always seem to find trouble anyway."

"Gee, thanks, Rodney."

"Okay, okay, I'm throwing my vote in with John going," Rodney said.

"This isn't a democracy," Lorne pointed out, then sighed. "But it makes sense. If you're up for it, Sheppard?"

***

John lay in the pod as Rodney explain about feedback loops and his need to concentrate to leave the virtual environment.

"So ... there's no place like home?" John asked.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "If that works for you. Now, I should be able to monitor your EEG patterns, so in the highly unlikely event that something anomalous should present itself, I should be able to, uh, disconnect you manually."

"Good."

"... without permanent brain damage."

"Rodney?" John asked.

"It's not that high a risk, really. You know I wouldn't risk it if it weren't worth it."

"Maybe I shouldn't have gotten that life insurance policy," John teased.

Rodney chuckled and leaned down and kissed him. "When I close the lid, the pod system should activate. Ready?"

"I guess..."

"Good!"

***

"Why do you have to go back in?" Lorne asked over the radio.

"The Aurora was on a recon mission," John explained. "The Captain was carrying a communiqué back to Atlantis. In it is vital information about a weakness in Wraith technology."

"What kind of weakness?" Lorne asked.

"Well, that's why I have to go back-- he didn't tell me. He's trying to modify the hyperdrives in order to get back to Atlantis faster to deliver it."

"Don't they realise that's impossible?" Lorne asked.

"They apparently don't remember putting themselves in stasis. So, they had no idea who I was or how I got there."

"Why would the pods do that?" Rodney said.

"That's a good question, and another reason I should go back. What do you think, Major?"

"Yeah, definitely. I'll call Caldwell and give him a revised itinerary."

***

It wasn't long afterward that Lorne radioed Rodney. "McKay, what's our status?"

"I've been deciphering more of the program. I'm actually reading--"

"Sheppard's status," Lorne interrupted.

"Still in the pod. Why?"

"The Daedalus is reporting two Wraith cruisers heading this way, ETA one hour. Caldwell doesn't intend to be around by then."

"So, what sort of timeframe are we talking about?" Rodney asked, biting his lip.

"If Sheppard's not out in thirty minutes, you're going to have to disconnect him manually. You can do that, right?"

"I'd rather not, but--"

"But you can, right?"

"Yes, of course."

"Good. Lorne out."

***

Rodney sat, tracking neural signatures and sparing an occasional glance at John, wondering what was taking him so long. Few people seemed to hold up to the John Sheppard charm for very long.

"McKay?" Lorne's voice crackled in his ear.

"Yes, what?"

"We've got a problem. We're two decks directly below you. Get here ASAP."

"Understood," Rodney said, laying his laptop down next to John's pod.

***

"What is it?" Rodney asked, stepping off the access ladder.

He took in the sight of Lorne and Teyla shifting a wizened body and took in the unusual uniform.

"Have a look," Teyla said, nodding behind Rodney.

He turned and took in the odd equipment. "This is Wraith gear. And it's recently installed."

"Yeah, there's a reason for that," Lorne said, laying the body down gently out of the way. "Look in the pod."

Rodney turned and looked into the pod and took in the green skin, tattoo, and openings in the cheekbones. His blood ran cold as he thought of John in the virtual environment with a wraith, a wraith who was undoubtedly manipulating events within the environment. "Fuck!"

Lorne was already hitting his radio.

***

Rodney scanned through the data on John's condition, muttering under his breath at Caldwell. How dare the man beam them out before they knew what was going on? And now he'd given them a 15-minute window to figure out what was going on and get John out before he opened fire on the Aurora to prevent the oncoming Wraith cruisers from getting in telepathic contact with the one here.

"Damn! Not good, not good."

"What is wrong?" Teyla asked.

"Delta waves," Rodney answered.

"Delta what?" Lorne asked.

"Major Lorne, is your team ready to be beamed aboard?" Caldwell demanded.

"It hasn't even been five minutes!" Rodney answered, looking at Lorne.

"We've got a problem on this end, sir," Lorne answered.

"What kind of a problem?"

"Doctor Sheppard's EEG frequencies are decreasing. I'm reading delta waves which indicate that he's unconscious within the virtual environment. I'm not sure how it happened but something's definitely wrong in there," Rodney answered.

"Even more reason to pull him out," Caldwell said.

"That would be a mistake," Rodney argued. "Look, additional data I've been able to decipher from the Wraith's biometrics receiver shows significant manipulation of the feedback loop-- something we were clearly not aware of when John went in."

"We were also clearly not aware of the two Wraith cruisers approaching," Caldwell argued.

"Colonel, this Wraith is controlling the program, which means it might have booby-trapped it as well. We're talking about John's life here."

"And I'm talking about the lives of not only every person aboard this ship but every person in Atlantis when the Wraith find out it wasn't destroyed. I'm well aware of what you have personally at stake here, Doctor. Get your husband out of that pod, or my men will. Caldwell out."

Rodney bit his lip, looking to Lorne who shrugged. At this moment, Rodney hated the military hierarchy. "I've got to go in," he said, grabbing his laptop and heading for a nearby empty pod. "Look, Major, you've got to stall Caldwell and buy me some time. Just a few minutes at the most."

"What if you are unable to disconnect?" Teyla asked.

"Caldwell's going to blow this ship whether you're in there or not," Lorne said. Rodney met his eyes and he sighed. "Okay, I'll try to stall him, but make it fast, McKay."

"Good." Rodney handed Lorne a device. "Look, hit this to manually disconnect me. If I don't regain consciousness, go ahead and open John's pod. Have us beamed directly to Daedalus, and make sure they have a medical team waiting."

"You sure you want to do this, doc?" Lorne asked.

"I'm sure I don't!" he answered, feeling his gut tighten at the small space. "Okay... All right... There's more than enough air in here..."

"You going to be okay, doc?"

"Yeah, it's just my claustrophobia. I'll be fine-- I hope. Now-- the system should engage once you send me in."

"Gotcha."

He laid back and closed his eyes. There was a moment's hesitation and then he could feel the pod sliding into the wall followed by a feeling of disorientation... and how had he ended up standing again?

***

Well, that had gone spectacularly well, he thought as he was led down the corridors of the eerily familiar ship.

"Where are you taking me? I told you-- I'm looking for Doctor John Sheppard, er, Sheppard-McKay. He's about, he's about, he's about so high, uh, uh, uh, brown hair, a bit mussed, the term is rakish..." He caught sight of the bars over his shoulder. The brig. "Oh, for..."

"Rodney?"

He turned taking in the sight of his husband, sitting up, looking a bit disoriented, but apparently okay. "John, what are you doing in there?"

Rodney didn't fight as the guards shoved him into the cell with John.

"I could ask you the same thing," John said, stopping him before he stumbled.

"Are you okay? I came to help you."

The clanging of the cell door behind him made him feel rather like Luke Skywalker announcing his intentions to rescue the princess without so much as a plan.

John grinned. "I feel better already!"

***

On the other hand, once he was assured John was all right and learned what had happened, breaking John out wasn't so hard. It was simply a matter of disconnecting from the virtual environment for a moment, manipulating a couple of variables and then when he returned...

"Hi! Nice!" John said, standing outside the brig and looking at the two collapsed guards.

They took the weapons off the guards and began making their way down hallways, pausing once as two people passed. John nodded to the first officer. "That's her!"

Rodney couldn't resist looking and was surprised at what he saw. "That's the Wraith?!" he whispered.

"Yeah."

"Wow! She's hot! I mean, seriously hot!"

"I'm not feeling the love, here, Rodney."

Rodney grinned. "Okay, she's not as hot as you, but somehow I expected a Wraith to be, you know... more Wraithy."

"Wraithy?" John asked.

"Coast is clear! Come on."

***

Now that he'd manipulated the program to allow him access to the consoles within the virtual environment, it hadn't taken him long to hack into the database, but the news wasn't good. "The communiqué's been erased."

"Why would the Wraith do that?"

Rodney sighed. "Well, it says right here: 'I, the Wraith, delete this important information to keep you from seeing it!'"

"Obviously he did it to keep us from seeing it, but why didn't it end the damned program? What's the point of continuing?"

Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. "Oh no!"

"What?"

"You said they were trying to modify the hyperdrive?"

"So they can get back to Atlantis faster," John added.

"Well, according to the Atlantis database, there are two different types of Ancient hyperdrive: there's the more basic interstellar kind--"

"Like the one the Aurora has." John nodded.

"And then there's the more powerful intergalactic kind, similar to the one the Asgard provided us for the Daedalus."

"Why would the Wraith want to soup up the Aurora's hyperdrive?"

"Because the Wraith's hyperdrives are nowhere near as advanced as the Ancient hyperdrives! With all this technology the Captain's feeding her right now..."

"...she'll learn how to modify the Wraiths' hyperdrives from interstellar to intergalactic," John finished.

"Which means they could make it as far as Earth."

"That's what this whole thing is about! Their new feeding ground! And this is just step one."

"Even if she doesn't have all the information she needs, we need to stop her from sending what she's learned so far to the Wraith ships that are on the way."

John narrowed his eyes. "There are Wraith ships on the way?"

Damn. He knew he'd forgotten something. "I'm-I'm sure I mentioned that."

"How many ships?"

"Two cruisers."

"Can you disconnect her?" John asked, thinking fast.

"Him. Not from the inside, no. I should be able to disable the pod interface from the outside."

"Then why didn't you?"

"Because I didn't know what that would do to you," Rodney explained.

"Well, that's very thoughtful of you, but now she knows all about Atlantis."

"You told her about Atlantis?" Rodney felt a pang of jealousy. "Why?"

"Because I was trying to convince them that-- Just go and unplug the Wraith while I talk to the Captain."

"The communiqué is blank," Rodney said.

"Yeah, but he might still have some intel about the Wraith weakness. Now, Rodney, is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"

"Um. Only that Caldwell is probably going to destroy the ship at any moment."

John stared at him in horror. "Go!"

"Going."

***

He sat up and looked around, but the room was empty. "Lorne? Teyla!" he called. "I can't believe it! Two minutes in the pod and I'm abandoned!"

He hauled himself out, muttering, and unplugged his laptop, trying to hurry. It seemed like forever before he reached the wraith's pod and even longer before he managed to disable his interface. As he let out a triumphant "Ha!" the wraith's pod opened and Rodney realised he was alone with nothing but a pistol against a wraith.

He stepped back and emptied his clip at the thing as it sat up and then turned and raced to where John was lying still in his stasis pod. "Come on... Come on..." he begged, reloading his clip.

Relief flooded through him as John's pod slid from the wall, then his world exploded in pain as something slammed into his back.

Somewhere, he heard John screaming his name and the sound of a gun firing, then he was stumbling into John's arms.


Next part

 
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[User Picture Icon]
From:mizz_destiny
Date:April 1st, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
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omg!! I love this ep and your version is just great!!!

but clifhanger?!? no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
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Thanks! This was a great ep.

And, yeah, it's me, so cliffhanger...
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
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Um, well, it would be a rather short series if he were dead...

Thanks!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 1st, 2006 03:56 am (UTC)
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ACK! I KNEW this wouldn't end well!!! What happened!? Did the wraith get him...or a stray bullet...I'm assuming Wraith..either way...need more soon!
[User Picture Icon]
From:geeky_ginger
Date:April 1st, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
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^^Yeah...so obviously I wasn't logged in...so yeah..that's me.
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:02 am (UTC)
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ACK! I KNEW this wouldn't end well!!! What happened!? Did the wraith get him...or a stray bullet...I'm assuming Wraith..either way...need more soon!

You'll find out soon enough... ;>
[User Picture Icon]
From:mecurtin
Date:April 1st, 2006 03:59 am (UTC)
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Grarr! There's no sexin' in this bit! *pouts like John*

So this is a "Trinity"-free AU, eh? Interesting.
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
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Yeah, occasionally there must be angst and cliffhangers and hurt so that there can be H/C smut.

No, Trinity happened earlier. See chapter 5.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
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Thanks! Yeah, I can't resist the evil.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:04 am (UTC)
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Hehe. Yeah, I've been posting like crazy.

Thanks!
[User Picture Icon]
From:springwoof
Date:April 1st, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)
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Yay! Action! Adventure! Romance!
very cool chapter. I really enjoyed this AU version of the episode....
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
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Thanks! This was actually sort of a weird one to write because so much of it was actual dialogue from the show.
[User Picture Icon]
From:trollsttroll
Date:April 1st, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
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Oh I love that you kept the wraith being hot part in! And *snick* Wraithy!!!

Thanks for another chapter!
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 1st, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
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Yes, I had to keep that in.

Thanks!
[User Picture Icon]
From:sapphiresfic
Date:April 1st, 2006 07:36 am (UTC)
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ARG! A CLIFFHANGER!!! NO!!!
UGH Can't wait to read more!!! It was neat to see how you kept a lot of the dialog the same as from the show, but changed it enough to make sense... Oh man! I hope Rodney's okay!
NEED MORE PLEASE!!!
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 3rd, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
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Hehe. Well, I got the next part up as soon as I could, what with real life getting in the way.

I'm glad the dialogue worked. I was kinda "meh" about it.

Thanks!
[User Picture Icon]
From:adafrog
Date:April 1st, 2006 07:57 am (UTC)
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Rodney calling the wraith hot, and John being offended cracked me up. hee I love this.
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 3rd, 2006 01:52 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Well, John's offended in the canon when Rodney calls the wraith hot (at least if you look through slash goggles).
[User Picture Icon]
From:seekergeek
Date:April 1st, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
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Sigh. Rodney being hurt is going to delay the sexin, isn't it? *pouts* Oh well, there's always comfort to be had. Declarations of devotion, hugs, kisses. Okay. I'm in a good headspace now, I can deal. *waits patiently for next chapter and resolves to hang tough until there's finally some hot monkey love for the boys*
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 3rd, 2006 01:54 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, here John was so careful so he could get to the hot sex and then something happens to Rodney... ;>

Thanks!
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From:kerry_louise
Date:April 1st, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)
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Bitch!

There was me, going along, merry as you like giggling at the antics of John and Rodney... this paragraph had me particularly amused...

"Wow! She's hot! I mean, seriously hot!"

"I'm not feeling the love, here, Rodney."

Rodney grinned. "Okay, she's not as hot as you, but somehow I expected a Wraith to be, you know... more Wraithy."

"Wraithy?" John asked.


... and then! then! when I almost think it's safe that somehow I might survive this part without having to threaten you with bodily harm you leave us with a cliff-hanger like that!!!

I Hate you... luckily for you there is a thin line between love and hate, so its fairly assurable that I also love you... but that won't stop me maiming you if you keep doing things like this to me... my heart just can't take it!
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 3rd, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Well, I warned that it was an evil cliffhanger which, from me, should tell you something... ;>

Thanks!
[User Picture Icon]
From:justabi
Date:April 1st, 2006 08:59 am (UTC)
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Those boys do get up to trouble, don't they?

"Wow! She's hot! I mean, seriously hot!"

"I'm not feeling the love, here, Rodney."


I swear to god, that is exactly how it came off in the show, too.
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 3rd, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC)
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*Nods* Precisely. He just couldn't say it on the show... ;>
[User Picture Icon]
From:looking4tarzan
Date:April 1st, 2006 09:57 am (UTC)
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*wibble*

MAN DOWN DAMMIT MAN DOWN
[User Picture Icon]
From:sgatlantislight
Date:April 3rd, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
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Don't worry, he gets taken care of! In a good way!

The Author is Evil

Evil Textually Rendered?