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Quarantine

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"Do you know who died first for hunger in the concentration camps during the Second World War?" Rodney was lying on his bed, seemingly indifferent with his newest subject matter.

"Who?" Sheppard didn't want to know. He had been visiting Rodney in the evenings for weeks now and usually humored him. With the participation on Rodney's inane and nowadays morbid conversations he bought the access to him. Fair deal, he thought, for seeing that McKay was still here.

"The fat ones." That earned him a sharp look. "Obese were the ones with the poor metabolism. They couldn't use the nutrients the best possible way. That's why they were fat in the first place."

Suddenly Sheppard hated biology.

***

Sheppard consciously shed the tiredness from his walk when he got nearer Weir's office. The once welcoming feeling of the city, the thing that had made him feel special, was now gone. He hated it now. He hated the Atlantis.

What a major fuck up it had been. It was supposed to be the first annual vaccination of the people of Atlantis. A certain live virus in the vaccine, a regular, every day vaccine -on Earth-, resulted a total quarantine. A fail-safe system raised the shield all over the city and took the hold of the gate and that was it. The end of story.

Nothing went in, nothing went out. The scientists' efforts were wasted trying to raise the shield and get them out. After that, the whole city slowed down to a crawl. It was a big game of waiting; either the ZPM to run out, to someone inventing a solution or the supplies to run out, which ever came first. They had come almost fully equipped. From medical supplies to shoe shine, ammo, radio parts and laundry detergent, they had the reserves for years. To all but food. Food they had had maybe for six months, if rationed.

It had been almost four months now. To no ones surprise, the fresh food had run out the first. Then, the luxury items like coffee, sugar, candy and cup noodles. When the rationing started fully, these items disappeared so quickly that Weir had to announce all private stocking up illegal. Sheppard knew what to expect: the canned meat, powdered eggs and other protein sources were running thin now and within a couple of weeks, they would be down to rice and broth cubes.

Weir looked as neat and as sharp as always. She sure took the leader showing example thing seriously.

"John."

"Ma'am" When had all the briefings with Weir become heart-to-heart?

"John, you can see where this is going." Not so neat anymore. There were new lines under her eyes. Weir kept walking around the office while Sheppard sat, outwardly relaxed.

"People are becoming lethargic, some irritable. Could mean fighting in the near future."

"Yes. And what else?" Damn, why couldn't that woman ever cut him some slack?

"There is a black market going on. I have already placed men in the kitchen and in the storage rooms to prevent stealing."

Weir stopped in front of Sheppard. "I need you and you men to raid the whole city. All personal food items will be confiscated."

"People aren't going to like that." An understatement. Sheppard had very little faith left in people's good will and communal efforts. Practically a zero faith left.

"I know. That's why you will move quickly and efficiently before the word spreads and you will bring armed men with you."

"Yes, ma'am."

***

Before going back to Rodney, John detoured back to his own quarters. He went straight to a wall panel decorated with elaborate Ancient swirls. He just had to be sure. John gave a little mental nudge and the panel slipped aside. He might hate the city now, but it still loved him enough to grant him little favors.

Tomorrow, every room would be searched and all food confiscated. All except these. John mentally catalogued the power bars, MRE's and canned foods piled neatly in the space behind the panel. He didn't feel remorse. He didn't feel even slightly bad. After all, they weren't for him.

End.