“Major,” John said, standing beside Lorne’s desk.
He glanced up from his datapad, where he was doing yet more paperwork. “Sir?”
“Woolsey says he’s getting some push-back from the IOA about the latest round of requisitions.”
Lorne glanced up again. “What about them? They’re pretty standard. Mostly necessities - good coffee for McKay, extra power-bars for offworld missions, extra toilet paper, the nice tampons so Teldy doesn’t lead the XX contingent in another rebellion.”
John consulted his datapad and the mostly caps email he’d received from Woolsey, considered a diplomatic way to translate the man’s fury. “He says a lot of eyebrows are being raised over the requisitions for the entire music catalogues from Starship Entertainment, Big Hit Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, TS Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and Cube Entertainment out of South Korea.” John blinked. “That’s a whole lot of entertainment.”
“Ah, finally. Max will be pleased,” Lorne said.
It took John a moment to figure out who Lorne was referring to. “Max the Wraith?” He was Todd the Wraith’s second-in-command after Steve had betrayed him.
“We’re importing CDs for the Wraith?”
Lorne nodded again.
John raised his eyebrows. “Why?”
Lorne blinked. “Didn’t Marie tell you?”
Again it took John a moment to figure out who Lorne was referring to. “The head nurse?”
“She didn’t tell me.”
Rodney came skittering into the command office with his datapad. “John, I don’t understand, I can’t even -” He thrust the datapad into John’s hands, almost toppling John’s own datapad.
“Can’t what?” John asked, juggling both datapads till he could set his on Lorne’s desk and look at Rodney’s.
Rodney’s expression was flustered and flushed, his mouth pulled into a frown. He shook his head. “I just - I don’t -” He tapped the screen, and the datapad came to life.
It was a video of nine Wraith, none of them wearing their usual long leather coats or their creepy face masks. Usually the ones who wore the face masks, the foot soldiers, were the heavier-built ones. Drones, John thought they were called. These were the more slender ones, the ones who were usually officers. They were wearing pants and what looked like black t-shirts.
They were all in a cluster, and they were - wrestling?
They were dancing.
That strange sound in the background wasn’t a Hive siren, it was some kind of synthesizer. An Earth-based synthesizer.
The Wraith were dancing in perfect synchronization. John had been subject to a few boy bands in his time, but this was beyond that I want it that way and Bye bye bye nonsense he’d seen on TV. The choreography was almost military in its stop-start precision, but the smooth isolations required intense muscle control.
Which the Wraith would have, due to their superhuman physiology.
Only then the Wraith started singing.
No, not singing. They were lip-syncing. They’d been assigned parts. The song they were dancing to was in Korean. John had been stationed in Korea for a hot second fresh out of OTS, knew the sound of the language even if he couldn’t understand it.
There were snatches of English in the song, as was typical for foreign pop.
The chorus was You can call me monster.
“Lorne?” John asked, pausing the video, because Rodney’s utter confusion made perfect sense. “What the hell is this?”
“The Wraith have a new hobby,” Lorne said.
“I wasn’t aware they had an old hobby.”
“You’d have to ask Marie. She tells it best.”
John tapped his radio. “Medical, send Marie Ko to the military command office. Stat.” He set the datapad down before it could burn him or explode or something.
“I can never unsee that,” Rodney said in a small voice.
“You have to admit,” Lorne said, “that hive mind has its benefits.”
John tapped his radio again. “Medical, we need Marie right now.”
“Hello, Max, my name is Marie, and I’ll be running a few tests on you today to see how the new bunny diet is working for you, all right?”
Jennifer hung back, let Marie take the lead, partially because she wanted to give Marie the experience, and partially so she didn’t have to interact with the Wraith any more than strictly necessary.
By all accounts Max was a young commander, had been raised into the notion of the alliance with the Tau’ri, and was eager to embark on this path of research with the Atlantis expedition. Like most Wraith, he was pale-faced, sharp-featured, sharp-fanged, and laconic.
Marie took his quiet in stride. “First I need to draw some blood, and then I’ll take your blood pressure and other vitals, and then probably scan you as well. How does that sound?”
Max blinked at her.
Marie smiled calmly. “Please roll up your sleeve.”
Max, who was wearing the usual leather-tacular Wraith get-up, shrugged off his massive coat. Underneath he was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic.
Marie explained about the tourniquet, asked him to extend his arm, tied it on. She explained every single step - swabbing his arm with an alcohol wipe, tapping the vein inside his elbow, showed him the needle.
Max gazed at her and said nothing. He didn’t flinch when she inserted the needle, watched as she filled several vials with his black blood.
“So,” Marie said, “what do you do for fun?”
“Fun?” he echoed.
“You know, when you’re not jetting around the galaxy in search of world domination. Or do you just sleep between feedings?”
“When we are not in battle, we train for battle,” Max said. “What do you do for...fun?”
“Lots of things,” Marie said. “I like to read and listen to music.”
“Music,” Max echoed. “What is music?”
Jennifer rarely went off world, but as far as she knew, plenty of alien cultures had things like music. At least, the Satedans and the Athosians did.
Marie gestured over her shoulder to her laptop with one thumb. “That’s music.”
She had an endless stream of kpop videos she played quietly in the background while she worked, so long as no patients were sleeping.
Max tilted his head curiously, stared. “You move your body like that?”
“Ah, no,” Marie said. “That’s dancing. You dance to music. Can you hear the music?”
Max nodded. He said, “They are not moving together as they should.”
“Well, they’re pretty close. They’re only human,” Marie said. She took his blood pressure. The machine checked his pulse and his oxygen levels as well.
“The way they move is - pleasing, to the eye,” Max offered finally.
Marie glanced over her shoulder and smiled. “Yeah, it is. Those boys are some of my favorites.”
“So you must always dance like so?”
“Well, there are different songs, and you can dance in however big or small a group you want - you can even dance alone.”
“Different songs?” Max asked.
“Yes. Tell you what - once I’m done running these tests, you can watch my kpop music videos to your heart’s content.”
Max nodded and, disturbingly, smiled. But he was complacent as Marie did the rest of the exam, watching her laptop over her shoulder.
“Why do they lift up their clothing?” he asked.
Marie glanced over her shoulder again. “Oh, that? It’s kind of a teasing thing. Letting the audience see a bit of their body.”
“Why would an audience care?”
Marie said, “Hey Lorne, lift up your shirt.”
Major Lorne, who was sitting on the bed beside Max’s for a post-mission check, reached down and hooked his thumb under the hem of his uniform t-shirt, hiked it up absently. He was reading a mission report on his datapad.
Jennifer blinked. Who knew Major Lorne was cut like that under his clothes?
“See the outline of his muscles?” Marie asked.
“A lot of women find that pleasing to the eye.”
Max lifted the hem of his tunic, and - damn.
Of course, the Wraith had superhuman physiology. They would be physically more impressive than most humans.
“Would human women find this pleasing?” Max asked.
Marie blinked. “Some of them might indeed.”
Max let his tunic fall.
Lorne said, “Can I put my shirt down now?”
“Er, yes,” Marie said.
Lorne smoothed his shirt down, opened his mouth and said ah when Dr. Biro asked, still reading the mission report.
“What is the purpose of this dancing?” Max asked.
“Fun, exercise, entertainment,” Marie said. “People dance for each other, so others can enjoy the view. Sometimes it’s a form of competition, too.”
“So I’ve heard - two crews of dancers compete, and whoever wins gains control of disputed territory.”
Jennifer had heard similar stories, usually in after-school specials about street gangs, how inner city youth were encouraged to express themselves artistically instead of engaging in violence.
“How could I acquire some music?” Max asked.
Marie looked pleased. “I’m sure we can figure something out.” She patted him on the arm. “All done. Want a lollipop?”
Max stared at the little tub of lollipops that Marie held out. “What are they for?”
“I give them to patients when they’ve been well-behaved.”
“They are a mark of obedience?”
Max selected one, studied it, sniffed it, and shoved it somewhere in his vest. Then he pulled his coat back on.
“How might I acquire some of your music?”
Marie picked her datapad, tapped at it, handed it to him. “I have a playlist of my favorites on here. Enjoy.”
He inclined his head politely to Marie, then turned and strode out of the infirmary, his coat billowing dramatically behind him.
“Should you have given that to him?” Jennifer asked.
“I put it in kid mode so all it does is play music. He’ll be fine.” Marie bundled up the vials of blood and headed over to the lab.
Jennifer wondered what a Wraith would even do with music.
Rodney stared at Marie, horrified and confused and a little numb.
John looked about as confused as Rodney felt, so he didn’t feel quite so embarrassed for how confused and shocked he was.
“So you’re telling me,” John said with that slow, dangerous patience that usually ended in an authoritative dressing-down of insubordinate Marines, “that the Wraith have chosen to have dance-offs in lieu of battles.”
Marie nodded. “Yes. When I mentioned it to Max, I mostly meant in the context of inner-city gangs resolving territory conflicts in a non-violent manner.”
“How would Max know that?” Rodney cried. “He’s a Wraith.”
“Methods of non-violent conflict resolution, like counting coup, are prevalent in plenty of cultures, ancient and modern,” Marie said tartly.
Rodney narrowed his eyes at her. “What are you, an anthropologist?”
“I educate myself in my spare time,” she said. “I come from a culture divided by conflict. I have a vested interest in non-violent conflict resolution.”
John considered that, nodded. “Fair enough.” He rounded on Lorne. “Why are you importing every single K-pop album ever?”
“It seemed like a pretty reasonable request in the long run,” Lorne said. “First of all, we’ll keep the originals in the MWR archives, and Rodney figured out how to digitize our media for Wraith consumption, so the Wraith won’t be getting the actual CDs. If the Wraith are starting to settle on planets to farm energizer bunnies, well, they need some way to negotiate control of planets.”
“I feel like there’s a massive copyright issue in there somewhere,” Rodney said.
“Best as I understand it from Max, each hive ship is putting forward a single dance crew, and each crew will sort of - take on the persona of a pre-existing K-pop act. So they need to be able to sample all the options. From there each ship will, you know, collect additional media by a given group.” Lorne sounded perfectly calm and reasonable, but the words coming out of his mouth were total insanity.
“So the Wraith are going to be having dance-offs and lip-sync battles for control of planets,” John said.
Lorne nodded. “That’s about the size of it.”
Rodney sank down into the chair at John’s desk. “It’s official. I’ve lost my mind.”
Marie peered at Rodney’s datapad, prodded it, started the video from the beginning. “They look pretty good.”
John narrowed his eyes at Lorne. “Why do you know so much about this whole dancing Wraith business?”
“I’m helping them design costumes,” Lorne said.
Design costumes, John mouthed, stunned.
Rodney was pretty sure he’d died and gone to some kind of hell.
John finally said, “Well then, I’ll tell Woolsey to get those requisitions cleared. For the good of the galaxy.”
Lorne nodded. “Thanks.” And he continued working.
Marie ducked out of the command office.
Rodney stayed in John’s chair, still trying to figure out what was going on in this universe.
Chuck knew this occasion was momentous, so he gathered in the gate room with Atlantis’s senior command and any personnel who could fit (and who wanted to witness history in the making), but he was mostly baffled.
Because two groups of Wraith from rival Hive ships were about to have a dance off in the gate room to decide who could take possession of an otherwise uninhabited planet that was suitable for raising and breeding the Wraith’s new food source, the unofficially-named energizer bunnies.
When the two opposing groups of Wraith filed into the gate room in perfect lock step, Chuck had to do a double take. Because one group was wearing what looked like Atlantis science uniforms, with the tan pants and blue shirts. And the other group was wearing Atlantis military uniforms, with gray pants and black shirts and even the black-and-gray jackets.
“Lorne?” Sheppard asked in a low, almost menacing voice.
“The Drone Wraith are pretty handy at sewing,” Lorne said, perfectly calm and unruffled.
“Who’s judging?” Amelia asked.
Some other Wraith arranged three chairs at the bottom of the stairs into the gate room for Nurse Marie, Dr. Kusanagi, and Captain Vega. Because the Wraith still functioned as Hives under the direction of a queen, they cared more about women’s opinions than men’s.
At least, that was Dr. Jackson’s opinion. He was also present, to observe an historic moment and also out of intellectual curiosity.
Chuck had met Teal’c, and he wasn’t sure he could handle dancing Jaffa.
“Just how well can they dance?” Ambrose asked. “All they do is - kill.”
Both groups bowed to the three women, and then the ones in science uniforms departed, and the ones in military uniforms remained, arranged themselves in a cluster of poses, one taking a knee, another bending down, the others with arms raised.
Chuck had seen a lot of bad interpretive dance in his time, because his older sister had been part of an interpretive dance troupe that required no actual dancing skill, and he was prepared for some really terrible dancing.
And some terrible Wraith music.
Did Wraith even have music?
Or would they be dancing to syncopated stunner blasts or something?
One of the Wraith said, “Hit it,” and Amelia giggled.
Music filled the gate room, digital synthesized sounds, and the Wraith shifted, twitched inward like a many-limbed monster inhaling, shifted outward like a giant alien plant unfurling under the sun. The ones on the ground slid up to their feet, and the others shifted around each other almost aimlessly.
This was going to be so bad. Chuck wished he had a camera.
Someone from anthro had to be filming this for posterity.
But then a human-sounding voice joined in with the strange music, and an actual beat kicked in, and - whoa.
All seven Wraith snapped into perfect synchronization on the first down beat, and they were standing in military formation.
What followed was breathtaking. They glided across the floor fit to make Michael Jackson jealous, were a single unit that shifted and breathed and lived music.
Cleverly, their uniform jackets were part of the dance, like props, accents for certain dance moves.
The song, whatever it was, wasn’t in English, but the chorus seemed to be so beautiful, and somehow, the dancing was.
When the song ended, all of the Wraith lined up, took their bows, and marched out of the gate room.
“What just happened?” Chuck asked faintly.
Amelia said, “I think those Wraith just danced.”
Everyone was stunned into silence as the next group of Wraith marched into the center of the gate room.
They arranged themselves in single file, and then one of them said the very Earth-sounding, “Hit it.”
Their song was obviously music from the get-go, a steady beat, again synthesizers that sounded sort of like sirens, and - rap.
In a foreign language. Was that what Wraith sounded like?
Only Amelia said, “Are they dancing to Japanese music?”
Suddenly Dr. Kusanagi’s place on the judges’ panel made a lot more sense.
As the music built, the single line blossomed into a living, moving organism as the Wraith stepped out one at a time. Whoever had choreographed this number had a great sense of floor work and formations, had the dancers shifting from lines to groups smoothly, rotating who was at the front so each dancer had a chance in the spotlight.
The chorus was spotlight spotlight, which made no sense. Did Wraith even know what spotlights were? Only they made a blinking sort of motion with their hands during the chorus. How had they accessed Earth-based music? Had Kusanagi given it to them?
Why would she have given it to them?
Again the Wraith moved with perfect precision and synchronization, and they looked amazing.
Except for the fact that they were, well, Wraith. In Atlantis science uniforms.
The song ended, and the Wraith took their bows, slid into single file, and marched off of the dance floor.
The gate room was now also a dance floor.
Everyone was still watching, silent. Two Wraith queens were in attendance, sitting at the top of the stairs with Woolsey and Sheppard, guests of honor, but they looked completely unimpressed by the display.
“What now?” Chuck whispered to Amelia. “Do the judges vote?”
On the military-uniformed Wraith, sans jackets, were marching back out to the dance floor. The arranged themselves in a loose cluster, and music flooded the gate room on the signal from one of the Wraith.
Two of the Wraith started toward each other, shoulders tight, ready to fight. A third Wraith jumped between them.
Chuck’s pulse climbed. Was a fight going to break out? Was one dance all the civility the Wraith had?
The remaining Wraith jumped in, separated the fighters - and as one they slid into motion. It took Chuck a moment to figure out the aesthetic, but - the Wraith were mimicking fighting. Earth-style fighting. Two dancers would link arms, another would lean on the line they created, like a boxer leaning on the ropes. There was a sound in the music, like the bell between boxing rounds.
What was so cool about these dancers was the way they moved as a single unit but had parts, spotlighting one dancer, the other dancers pausing to give that dancer a moment, then waking back up to motion as one. The way one dancer led and the others responded as if on invisible strings was fascinating.
Apparently the Wraith had mastered not just synchronized dancing but artistic elements of dancing, the way they carried the theme of their song, which was about being a fighter and fighting for love and being a champion. Some of their dance moves mimicked shadowboxing, were a riveting harp stop-and-start combined with a sinuous slide.
On the second chorus, the Wraith shouted along with the music, the snatches of English, like a battle cry.
Someone started clapping along, and it picked up, swept across the gate room.
Chuck joined in. He couldn’t help it, caught up in the sheer energy of the performance.
When it ended, the Wraith held their pose, and there was silence in the wake of the fading music.
And then someone started to applaud, and once again it picked up, swept across the gate room.
The Wraith straightened up, bowed to the judges, and marched off the dance floor once more.
The other troupe in science uniforms marched back onto the dance floor for their second round, this time wearing what were definitely replicas of the science uniform jackets, and they arranged themselves, six of them lying down in a circle around the seventh, who was sitting casually, elbows resting on knees.
The music started, and the one in the middle summoned the others to their feet with cries, of Monster, monster!
Where the other troupe had mastered art with their dance, these Wraith had mastered flirtiness in their dance. One of them actually winked during his spotlight section, and another one tossed his head, ran a hand through his hair.
When the chorus hit, the Wraith moved into position with their uncanny synchronization - born of their telepathy, Chuck realized - and for one of their dance moves they all hiked their t-shirts up for a second, just a tease of skin and muscle.
And - damn. Every single one of them was totally ripped.
Which of course they would be, they were superhuman.
The chorus was I can be your hero, I can be your man.
The Wraith queens continued to look completely unimpressed, but had the audience been filled with other lady Wraiths, they’d probably be screaming like teenage girls at an NSYNC concert.
The song ended with all the Wraith back on the floor, seemingly collapsed after their athletic display.
The audience didn’t hesitate to burst into applause.
The Wraith climbed to their feet, assembled themselves into a line, bowed, and then shuffled off to one side, and the other Wraith crew, with their jackets back on, returned to the dance floor. They arrayed themselves into two groups in front of the judges, utterly motionless.
Kusanagi had to get on the PA system over her radio to get everyone to settle down.
“Atlantis, thank you for participating in the first ever New Wraith Territory Battle,” she said, and the cheering died down. “This battle is to see which Hive will control an uninhabited, rabbit-friendly planet designed MX7-842. The judges will confer, and then the winners will be announced. In the meantime, give the competitors another round of applause!”
The audience burst into more cheers while Kusanagi, Marie, and Vega huddled close and conferred.
The discussion was brief, and then Kusanagi got on the PA again.
“All right, Atlantis, the decision has been made. Who do you think should win, Team Fighters?”
The Wraith in military uniforms bowed, and the audience cheered.
“Or Team Heroes?”
The Wraith in science uniforms bowed, and the audience cheered even louder.
“Who do you think was better?” Chuck asked.
Amelia said, “Definitely Team Heroes. And not just because we’re gate techs.”
“And the winner is...Team Heroes!” Kusanagi said, and cheers rose up.
And then SFs had to jump into the fray when the two Queens turned on each other and Team Fighters took a dive at Team Heroes, but all in all, Chuck figured the event was, in the grand scale of millennia of Wraith-Ancient-human warfare, a success.
“We have a problem,” Woolsey said.
Teyla, John, Ronon, Marie, Rodney, and Lorne were all gathered in his office.
“What kind of problem?” John asked. “I was thinking, now that all the Wraith think they’re Backstreet Boys, I could take a long vacation.”
“I have had extensive communications with the Wraith Queens,” Teyla said, because she was a woman and they trusted her more than they trusted Woolsey or John, “and apart from enemies engaging in armed conflict on Wraith soil, all Wraith disputes will be settled by dance battle from now on.”
“Why is that a problem?” Rodney asked.
“Because that means we have to also engage in dance battles,” Woolsey said.
Rodney blinked. “Wait, what?”
John groaned. “Thanks a lot, Marie.”
“I’m sorry! He seemed interested in my music and it was a way to build rapport and keep him calm during the exam,” she protested.
Rodney looked frustrated. “How are we supposed to compete against the Wraith? They have telepathy. They will always be perfectly in sync.”
John and Rodney glared at him.
“The Wraith are very skilled dancers,” Teyla said, “but surely we can prevail in an art form that originated on Earth.”
“Have you seen them?” Rodney cried. “They’re all ripped and hip hop and flirty and -”
Marie sat up straighter. “Teyla’s right. When they danced, they mimicked the music videos they got from me to a T, including all the flirting. That’s not inherent in Wraith culture, because they breed by cloning, right?”
“I try not to think about it,” Ronon said, brow furrowing.
“We could definitely do better than them, maybe not on synchronization, but on choreography and originality,” Marie said.
Woolsey looked at Lorne. “Are any of your Marines good dancers?”
“Not that good,” Lorne conceded. Then he looked at Marie. “But we already have the answer. Korea has mandatory military service, right?”
She nodded, realization dawning on her face.
Teyla looked between them. “I do not understand.”
“Every single one of those boys in those boy bands has to serve in the Korean army at some point before they turn thirty, right?” Lorne asked.
“So?” Rodney asked.
John nodded. “So we wait till a bunch of them join up and we make our own boy band.” Then he made a face. “I cannot believe I just said that.” He jabbed a finger at Marie. “Again, this is all your fault.”
“Dancers aren’t enough,” Marie said. “Yes, we could pull some well-trained dancers from the ranks, but what makes their performances good is their choreographers and costume team.”
“So let’s get some choreographers and a costume designer,” Rodney said. “Wait, we already have Lorne.”
“Ah, no,” Lorne said, shaking his head. “I am not a full-time costume designer. Altering cast-off uniforms is one thing, but the stuff I’ve seen in Marie’s music videos - those are way out of my league.”
Woolsey turned to Marie. “Tell me your dream team. The ultimate boy band. We can get them.”
“Only if they’re in the Army, though, right?” Rodney asked, anxious.
Ronon said, “I didn’t realize Earth had mandatory military service.”
“Not all of Earth. Just some countries,” John said.
“So these boy bands,” Ronon said, “they all just do dance battles?”
“Not just dance. Sing,” Marie said.
Ronon raised his eyebrows. “So we could write our own songs?” His expression turned thoughtful.
“Or we could hire a team of songwriters and producers,” Woolsey said.
Marie was writing down a list.
John peeked over her shoulder, reading aloud and, judging by Marie’s wincing, mispronouncing the names badly. “Shin Ho-seok -”
“He goes by Wonho,” Marie said.
“Kim Hyo-jong -”
“He goes by E’dawn.”
“Ee-don?” Rodney echoed. “That’s not a name.”
“Maybe not in English,” Teyla said diplomatically.
“Kang Young Hyun - he goes by Young K onstage, but when he went to school in Toronto he went by Brian Kang,” Marie said.
“So he speaks English? Good.” John looked relieved.
Lorne said to Woolsey, “Maybe also get a full-time interpreter. Or two.”
The man was taking notes and listening earnestly.
“Kim Min Seok, goes by Xiumin.”
“Noted.” Woolsey kept on writing.
“Jung Ho Seok, or J-Hope,” Marie continued.
“J-Hope,” Teyla echoed. “It is a very pleasant name.”
“Jung Dae Hyun, whose stage name is Daehyun,” Marie said.
“That at least makes sense,” Rodney said.
“Which of these guys are in the Army?” Ronon asked.
Woolsey said, “None of them. Yet.”
Teyla was alarmed at his tone.
“Also Wang Jia Er. He goes by Jackson. Went to the International American School in Hong Kong, so he speaks English,” Marie said.
John frowned. “That sounds Chinese, not Korean. We can’t just press gang a Chinese national.”
“China is part of the IOA and Shen Xiaoyi and I have a...working relationship. I’ll make it happen.”
Teyla wasn’t sure what ‘press gang’ meant, but she had a feeling it wouldn’t end well for Jackson, Wang Jia Er, whoever he was.
Woolsey cleared his throat and read his list. “So, for the future peace of multiple galaxies, we need at least seven talented dancers and singers, at least one songwriter, one record producer, one choreographer, one costume mistress, and two Korean-English interpreters.”
“Sounds about right,” Lorne said.
“All right. I’ll contact the IOA.”
Minhyuk hovered behind Wonho, twitching and nervous. He was pretty sure they weren’t the only former idols in basic here, but he’d known as soon as some of the other recruits recognized him, and he didn’t want to get into a fist fight on his first day.
The drill sergeant spotted him and Wonho, and malicious glee crossed his face when he recognized them.
“You two! Up front. You can see the barber first.”
Wonho strode forward, defiantly confident, so Minhyuk followed.
Five other recruits were clustered at the door to the barber shop. Minhyuk recognized them immediately - E’dawn, Xiumin (he was cutting it close, as old as he was), J-Hope, Young K, and Daehyun. Xiumin was standing in front of J-Hope and E’dawn, expression defiant.
The drill sergeant leered at Xiumin. “We’ll start with you.”
And then someone shouted, “Wait!”
A white man, wearing what looked like a military uniform, but also glasses, came running up to them.
“Wait. Don’t cut their hair.” He spoke very good Korean.
The drill sergeant frowned. “Who the hell are you and what are you doing on this base?”
“Daniel Jackson. I’m with the United States Air Force. And I need these six men.” He listed off all the other idols by name, including Wonho. “That’s all of you, right?”
Wonho and the others nodded.
Daniel Jackson heaved a sigh of relief. “Yeah, no, don’t cut their hair. I need them - I need them as is.”
The drill sergeant prowled over to Daniel Jackson, expression fierce.
Daniel Jackson didn’t give any ground.
And then a high-ranking officer appeared, wearing a fancy uniform and a lot of medals, and all the other soldiers snapped to attention, including the drill sergeant. The officer was accompanied by a Chinese woman in a fine suit - and Jackson from Got7.
The officer spoke to the drill sergeant, explained that Dr. Daniel Jackson from the United States Air Force and Ambassador Shen Xiaoyi from the International Oversight Committee (whatever that was) had been granted permission to temporarily take command of several Korean soldiers.
Daniel Jackson beckoned, and E’dawn, Xiumin, J-Hope, Young K, and Daehyun stepped toward him - and away from the angry-faced drill-sergeant.
“What about Minhyuk?” Wonho asked.
Daniel Jackson blinked.
Minhyuk offered a small wave.
“I’m not leaving him here with - with him.” Wonho lifted his chin at the angry drill sergeant.
Daniel Jackson peered at Minhyuk over the top of his glasses. “Who are you?”
Daniel Jackson frowned. “He wasn’t on Marie’s list. Can you dance?”
“Can you sing?”
Minhyuk nodded again.
Daniel Jackson glanced at Jackson. “Is eight too many for a boy band?”
Jackson burst out laughing. “You’ve never seen Super Junior, have you?”
Daniel Jackson blinked, confused.
“No,” Jackson said. “Eight isn’t too many.”
Daniel Jackson eyed the angry drill sergeant. Minhyuk shamelessly offered up his best puppy-eyed expression.
“Sure,” Daniel Jackson said. “We’ll take him too.” Then he spun on his heel and swept away.
The high-ranking officer and Chinese woman followed him, as did Jackson, so Minhyuk nudged Wonho, and they fell in.
Wonho asked, “Where are we going?”
The Chinese woman looked sour and she said, in passable Korean, “Far away. Far, far away.”
Because Wonho was a terrible nerd and had seen Star Wars too many times, he said, “Another galaxy?”
Daniel Jackson spun around and pinned him with a look. “Who told you that?”
Wonho pulled up short. “Han Solo?”
“Who? Oh. Right. Of course.” And Daniel Jackson resumed marching.
“Maybe we should have stayed back there after all,” Wonho whispered.
Minhyuk shrugged. “At least we didn’t have to cut our hair.”
Later, when the eight of them were standing on a deck in a spaceship and staring down at Earth, Minhyuk thought maybe he should have deferred his military service a little longer.