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A/N: This story wouldn’t be nearly as good without the brain-storming, assistance, and beta skills of theicemenace, although the jury is still out on those Gibbs slaps! This story started out as a small idea and grew rapidly due to overfed plot bunnies. She helped me turn them all into one cohesive story. Any flubs left are entirely mine.

OC WARNING: This story is the continuation of my Atlantis series featuring Dr. Radek Zelenka and two OCs, Dr. Bethany Noble and Sgt. Bryan Reynolds, USMC. Any resemblance of my OCs to real people is purely coincidental, as they are a product of my warped brain. If you haven’t read Retrospective Ruminations, I highly recommend you do so, as this story builds on some of those chapters.

The Stargate franchise is, sadly, not owned by me. I simply borrow their characters for my own amusement and to appease the rampant plot bunnies.

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The beginning is set between Suspicion and Childhood’s End

Conference Room:

 Peter Grodin looked around the conference room as he sipped from his mug. The taste of his special tea blend tantalized his taste buds as the caffeine hit his bloodstream. They were halfway through the reports, and by now enough coffee had been consumed that most people were fully awake. Some of them, including Bethany Noble from Linguistics, weren’t amused at being up at this time of morning. He caught her eye and saluted her with his mug. The look she shot him said quite clearly that 0530 was way too early for a department heads meeting. Peter hid a smile behind his mug, taking another sip as he focused on the current speaker.

“I need to have someone from engineering take a look at the device before I can proceed,” Peter Kavanagh said as he gave Zelenka a pointed look. “I’ll also need Noble to translate the Ancient writing on it. I believe this is a power source of some sort, and I expect it to be moved to the top of the priority list.”

“We actually have more pressing concerns than your pet project, Kavanagh,” Rodney McKay snapped. “Things like, oh I don’t know, making sure we have enough power, potable water and food. Noble will be busy searching the database for vital information I need. As for Engineering… Zelenka? You’re up.”

Radek Zelenka walked to the front of the room, tablet in one hand and coffee cup in the other. “There is a problem with desalination tank on the East Pier. It appears to be working, but nothing is flowing from the tank to the city. I have a couple people looking into it, and will send out an update when more information becomes available. Remainder of team is tracking down source of the power fluctuations in Athosians’ living quarters. Should have that resolved within next couple of hours, at which point they will undertake inspection of sewage system in currently occupied areas. I will be in the Jumper Bay running diagnostics and making repairs to damaged Jumper.”

Radek glanced down at the tablet in front of him, skimming through the schedule. “There will be no one available to look at Kavanagh’s device, or any other non-emergency projects, for a minimum of two to three days. I will send someone when opportunity arises.”

“That is completely unacceptable. Why can’t someone look at it before working on some minor power fluctuations? It’s not like they’re going to solve the problem today anyway,” Kavanagh said snidely.

Rodney looked at him in disbelief. “I'm going to speak slowly so you understand. Power fluctuations bad. Stargate not working bad. Your little toy, not important.”

“I should at least have Noble...” Kavanagh started to say.

Rodney cut him off with a wave of his hand. “We’re done discussing it, Kavanagh. Any more out of you and you’ll be joining the team inspecting the sewage system. Noble? What’s the status on the translation program?”

“It’s not ready just yet, but we’re getting close to beta testing. Grodin and Kusanagi have been collaborating with me on it, and the coding is almost finished.” Beth gave a brief report on the status of database searches and translations for the current projects. She finished by saying, “if I have time later, I’ll stop by Kavanagh’s lab and take a look at the device he’s working on.”

“Yes, yes, very good. Anything else? Then get to work!” With that, McKay ended the meeting. Peter followed the heads of Botany and Oceanography out of the room, smiling as he listened to them discuss the possible merits of the indigenous algae recently discovered during an excursion along the mainland. He walked down to the landing, crossed it and started up the steps to Ops, where he could see Dr. Weir waiting for him.

~~~~~~

Kavanagh snagged Beth’s arm as she stood up. “Looks like you have time now. Let’s go,” he said, tugging her towards the exit.

Beth shot him a dirty look and he released her arm. “I said I would come if I had time. I have several other tasks waiting for me. If you have a problem with that, feel free to discuss it with McKay.”

“Fine. But I expect you to come as soon as possible.” With that, Kavanagh left in a huff.

Beth glared at his retreating form as she called him a few choice things in Romanian and Greek. Radek approached with a couple mugs of fresh coffee as she finished her tirade, ending with arrogant a******.

He chuckled as he handed her one of the mugs. She took it gratefully, sighing with pleasure as she sipped the hot liquid. “I agree with your assessment of Kavanagh. That man almost makes McKay look like a saint… some days,” Radek said with a laugh.

“I heard that, Zelenka,” Rodney’s voice came from halfway across the room as he looked their way.

“You are arrogant, egotistical, and difficult to work with, McKay. This is no secret,” Radek calmly replied.

“Don’t you have puddle jumpers to diagnose and desalination tanks to inspect?” Rodney said in a snarky tone, waving a hand in the air at him. “If you don’t have enough to do I’m sure Kavanagh would be happy to have you look at his little device.”

“If I was helping him, then who would double-check your calculations and point out errors?” Radek responded on his way out the door. Rodney sputtered in indignation, but Radek disappeared before he could form a coherent sentence. Beth left for her own lab, laughing at Rodney’s snide comment about ungrateful Czech engineers.

~~~~~~

Kavanagh’s lab later that morning:

The device looked like the Ancient version of a dodecahedron Rubik’s© cube, albeit a metal one with flashing buttons instead of a plastic one with colorful stickers. Kavanagh tapped his foot impatiently as he turned the device per Beth’s instructions. “Why do I have to hold it? Surely you can take pictures with one hand and hold it with your other!” 

Beth rolled her eyes as she snapped photos of the writing etched on each side. “We’ve been through this. You don’t have the ATA gene; I do. You really want me to touch it before we know what it does?” She motioned for him to set it back down as she transferred the photos to her laptop.  “Okay, give me a few minutes to translate this and we’ll see what we have.”

Kavanagh continued to poke and prod at the device while making snide comments about the some people taking their own sweet time to do a simple task. He couldn’t fathom what could possibly take so long; after all, she was a linguist so this should be a simple process. It’s not like she’s doing advanced physics calculations or dealing with space-time theories, he thought with distain. “Well? What does it say?” he said impatiently. “You should have finished by now. It’s not like you’re reverse engineering the device; just translating.”

Beth pointed at herself and said, “Linguist,” then pointed at Kavanagh and said, “Physicist. Can you shut the hell up for five minutes and let me work? Otherwise your little project goes to the bottom of the list and I head off to the botany lab.” She rolled her eyes and muttered a few phrases in Italian as she focused on the screen, laughing to herself as he complained that she could at least speak English.

Kavanagh silently watched her work for all of sixty seconds before he started in on Zelenka and the engineering department, and how his project should have taken precedence over a few measly power fluctuations.

Beth put up with him for a few minutes longer before deciding enough was enough. “I’m going back to my lab to finish up so I can access the Ancient database. I’ll let you know when I find something,” she said as she slipped the laptop and digital camera into her pack.

“You can’t leave now,” Kavanagh whined. “I’m on the verge of a breakthrough that may be the answer to all our problems.” He continued to fiddle with the device as she grabbed her pack in one hand and walked out the door.

She turned back towards him when he yelled, “S***!” as the device rapidly flashed a sequence of colors while emitting a high-pitched whine. He dropped it on the table and flung himself to the floor, rolling under the sturdy metal table and covering his head with both arms as the device detonated. The concussive wave knocked Beth off her feet and flung her body onto a couch in the corridor. She slumped against it, knocked out by the impact.

~~~~~~

An alarm sounded throughout the city. Dr. Weir came running out of her office as the control room shook with the force of the blast. She watched anxiously as Grodin searched for the location of the explosion and then sent out a city-wide broadcast. “Medical team to Kavanagh’s lab. Drs. McKay and Zelenka to Kavanagh’s lab.”

“Great, just great. Like I have nothing better to do than deal with stupidity and incompetence. Figures it would be Kavanagh.” Rodney grumbled as he and John ran down the hall towards the nearest transporter. They’d been in the mess hall when the alarm sounded, and Rodney was less than thrilled to have his lunch interrupted by idiots.

“McKay,” Sheppard said in a warning tone.

“I swear, the whole department is full of five year olds with delusions of grandeur.” Rodney continued, oblivious to Sheppard’s tone. “You’d think we could get people who weren’t inherently stupid or hadn’t obtained their degrees from an online college somewhere in South America or the Caribbean.”

“McKay!” John said in exasperation.

“What?” Rodney asked.

“Let’s see what the situation is before jumping to conclusions,” John suggested.

“Oh, yes, because that’s always worked out so well for us in the past,” Rodney retorted sarcastically. “My guess would be the idiot did something so monumentally stupid there aren’t words for it.”

When they arrived at the lab they found Beckett and his team working on two people. McKay recognized Kavanagh’s ponytailed figure at once, but it took him a moment to realize that the crumpled figure lying on a couch in the corridor was Dr. Noble. What is she doing here? Then he remembered her offer to help Kavanagh during the morning’s staff meeting. Damn. He couldn’t afford to lose his linguist. “Beckett, how’s Noble?”

“Not now, Rodney. I’m wee bit busy at the moment.” Carson replied as he assessed her condition.

“Yes, I can see that. Is she…?” he stuttered to a halt, unable to say what he was thinking.

“A nasty concussion from the look of things, as well as some bruising and swelling on one knee. I’ll know more once I get her back to the infirmary and run a complete scan.” Carson looked at the two orderlies beside him. “All right, lads. Let’s get her on the gurney. On my count. One, two, three.”

~~~~~~

Radek came flying around the corner as Beckett disappeared with his patients. “What has happened?” he asked, looking around at the destruction as he straightened his glasses and ran a hand over his flyaway hair.

“Dumbass Kavanagh couldn’t be bothered with proper procedures.” Rodney gestured towards the pieces of the Ancient device scattered in what had been a lab only a short time ago. “He’ll be doing every menial task I can find for the next two weeks.” Rodney stated, grimacing as he gazed around at the devastation. “Zelenka, I need you to remove the pieces of the device and secure them in my lab. I’d do it myself but we need to make sure it wasn’t the ATA gene that set it off. Kavanagh couldn’t have done it, but Noble might have triggered it,” he mused. 

Radek walked over to the damaged table and gingerly picked up a piece of the device. He looked sharply at Rodney as he registered what he’d said. “Beth was here when the device went off? Is she all right?” He looked around, catching sight of her pack slumped against the base of a couch in the corridor.

“Beckett took her and that idiot to the infirmary to get checked out,” Rodney said absently as he walked around the room, viewing the explosion from various angles.

“Rodney.” Radek’s voice intruded on Rodney’s thoughts, much to his annoyance.

“Hmm? What?” he responded, distracted by the puzzle in front of him.

“McKay!” Radek said in exasperation.

“What is it? I’m a bit busy here, Zelenka,” he snapped.

“Answer my question and I will leave you alone. Is Beth okay?” Radek asked, his accent thickening in his agitation.

"Does that really matter when we have more important... Where the hell do you think you're going? Zelenka!" Rodney called out to Radek as he headed for the door and disappeared without comment. Rodney huffed in annoyance. "One of his pigeons would be more help." He reached up and tapped the earpiece. "Simpson! I need you in Kavanagh's lab ASAP!"