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ACT 6 ACT 1: Missing the Lighthouse

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EARTH DATE: JUNE 23RD, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 01/01/0005.

Your name is Daniel Jackson, and you're grieving something fierce as you look through a pile of old containers and all sorts of other ANCIENT EGYPTIAN ARTIFACTS that the Langford Family had kept in its possession from the Giza Dig that had uncovered the Stargate.

The memorial service was all the things it was supposed to be, and more. Amusingly enough, a burial at sea. Catherine liked the idea of her ashes disolving away in it similarly to how one steps through the Stargate.

And now that she's gone, you can head back to the place you're meant to be- Pegasus Galaxy, and the City of Atlantis.

Before you can return to Atlantis, though, you have so much to work through.

Your "Inheritance" as it were.

Between you and the Harleys, there's a lot of old stuff to search through.

"Daniel?" Jake Harley speaks up from around a small hallway of shelves and bins. "Come look at this for a moment?"

And so you reluctantly do.

"What is it?" You ask.

"Odd Canopic Jar," Jake holds it up. "The Hieroglyphics on this look off to me. Like it's not quite Egyptian."

"That'd be because it's badly written Goa'uld," you frown. "...Another fucking Corruption Cipher." You get out a notepad and start correcting it.

"A what now?" Jake asks. "What does it say then?"

"...Contents: One Video Camera. Sincerely..." you read after a moment, and blink. "SG-1."



Breaking the seal was one thing- finding a cable to charge it is another. The exact type of port doesn't seem to be manufactured yet except on some high-exclusive next-gen camera being sold out of Japan. A trip with the Daedalus' transport beams gets you there and back to the SGC pretty damn quick.

From there, you and Jake go to Jonas' office, plug the camera into the first available computer, and replay the footage.

And then there you are- except in Ancient Egyptian Robes. He speaks, "Okay, uh, my name is Doctor Daniel Jackson. I'm part of a team called SG-1, and we have just traveled back in time 5000 years."

You stare at yourself. He looks so different. More confident, for one thing.

"You see, the thing is, we're not sure we're gonna make it back. Um, the chamber where you discover this tape should be discovered shortly before we're set to leave. Hopefully the timeline hasn't changed at all. Let's see, what are some recent major events. Uh, communism recently failed in Eastern Europe. Um, they should be well on their way towards democracy by now. Henry Hayes is President. What else... Sam, help me out here?"

And then Carter steps into view, and the other you introduces her, "Um, Samantha Carter, Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force, and a member of SG-1."

"My God," Jake whispers. "It's them. The other SG-1 that Joey was talking about from Giza."

"What, uh, I suppose we should tell them about the Stargate," Carter says.

"Or some of them, at least," you say. "Multiple teams, remember?"

Other you continues on, "Right, um. Colonel Carter and I work for an organization known as Stargate Command. It is located under Cheyenne Mountain. Now, for the past eight years, we've been regularly traveling through a large, ring-shaped device known as the Stargate. It should have been discovered in 1928, somewhere near where this tape was found."

"Now, by means of these off-world missions, we've managed to acquire a lot of advanced technology which has helped us defend Earth against several alien attacks," Other-Carter says.

Other you continues, "If for whatever reason, the things we're talking about are not true, then it is possible that we have somehow inadvertently changed the future. Now the purpose of this tape is to provide you with the tools you will need to go back in time and set things right. If, for whatever reason, the Stargate has not been discovered, you will have to find it and get it up and running. Uh, Jack, you should say something."

You pause it. "Well, at least we have the Stargate and things seem... mostly intact? Or at least, circumstantially parallel enough."

"Yeah," Jake nods. "Seems close enough to me."

You resume the tape.

"No, uh, I'm good," says Jack from off screen.

"We should all appear on the tape," Other You says.

"We have no way of knowing how things could have changed," other Carter says.

And then another Jack O'neill steps on screen.

"Uh, General Jack O'Neill, United States Air Force. How ya doin'?"

"Tell them about the future," other you says.

"...Uh, college football is played on Saturdays, pro on Sundays, and there are no fish in my pond... at all... where I fish." Other Jack glances at other Carter and other you. "I think that covers it."

"Didn't the others go fishing recently?" You pause the tape. "I could've sworn they said Mitchel and Teal'c reeled in a really large fish."

"I'd take that as proof they're from an alternate timeline, then," Jake says.

"I need to let the others know about this," you say. "...Also, we need to check what else was buried with the rest of this stuff."

"I'll check through the rest of the tape, and compare with the manifest," Jake says.

"Thanks," and with that, you head off.

...Damn it all. Time Travel. It's always Time Travel.

You miss the simpler days when you were just on Atlantis dealing with the Wraith...

You can't wait to go back.

Chapter Text

"I'm Emmett Bregman, here with Keiko Ayano, of the Atlantis Expedition. Miss Ayano, thanks for doing this interview with me."

"It's my pleasure, really."

"Before we begin, how has work been going here in Atlantis so far?"

"It's been good, Mister Bregman. I'm a little annoyed by the power system not accepting our ZPMs, but it's all been good otherwise."

"So, you're something of an oddity among the Expedition. Like a large potion of the expedition team, you're not from Earth, but at the same time, you are. Sort of a single solitary paradox among others. What can you tell us about that?"

"Well, I'm from a version of Earth that, thousands and thousands of years ago, was besieged by the Goa'uld. However, where your Earth was subjugated by them before eventually over throwing them, mine never got that far."

"What happened?"

"We're not exactly sure of things like, who said what, but we're certain of one fact. The City of Atlantis that we're going to in this reality came to our aid in mine."



Settled at the seat of the head command ship, the one called RA smirked an alien faced smirk as he stares down at the blue Jewell of a planet. A perfect mix of sapphire blue and emerald greens. A garden planet.

And then one of his servants cries out- {"MY LORD! A SHIP APPROACHES!"}

{"What Kind of Ship?"} Ra inquires.

{"It's... it's...!"}

And then a Mothership to Ra's immediate right is blown to pieces by a string of golden fire- alas, the one who would be called Anubis had perished in the explosion.

{"WHAT!?"} Ra turns his head and stares, watching as the strangest space ship he'd ever seen bursts through the remains of Anubis' mother ship.
It looks like someone took a city, and made it FLY.

The strange city vessel swoops forwards and takes up center position between the Goa'uld fleet and the planet they sought to conquer.

And then a transmission comes over the communications array.

{"Halt there, Parasites!"} a scowling, human face glares a death promising glare from behind her rounded glasses. {"We are the owners and protectors of this planet. Leave at once or face the consequences."}

Ra laughs, getting to his feet and glaring back. {"And just who the hell do you think you are to challenge the full might of the Goa'uld Empire with but ONE ship?"}

The woman laughs, turns to her side, and asks something in a language Ra is unfamiliar with, it sounds... oddly familiar though in a way. Like an ancient relic of a forgotten piece of the past. Then, receiving a response, the woman turns to look back at Ra, and declares, {"We are Atlantis. And you have thirty seconds to retreat before we blast you out of the sky like the locust you are!"}


 

"So what caused this divergence, do you think?"

"We're only working off of conjecture at this point, but, our best answer is time travel. A previous version of this expedition failed to survive the city flooding, save for a few fortunate souls, who went back in time and changed things. In one reality, they convinced the Ancients to raise the city when the shields failed- this one- and in another, they returned to Earth- mine."

"Naturally with such a huge divergence point, there has to be a lot of differences between our two worlds."

"Of course. The repelled assault of the Goa'uld lead to the planet being heavily damaged. Our Ancestors, both human and Ancient, ended up setting up massive versions of Atlantis- huge, sprawling, hundred floor things we call Castle Ships. Each one has a base floor size of ten thousand kilometers! And then they just, gradually get smaller and smaller as they get higher."

"That sounds incredible."

"That's not even the best part. They all FLY. High up above the surface of the planet! They're suspended in place by way of a series of metal plates that form a shell around the planet itself called the Magneto-sphere. Going by the name you can probably tell that it's like, a lot of high rise magnetism tricks, to keep everything floating. My Castle is called AINCRAD."



Sunlight glints across the clouds, disturbed only as a long, round shaped flying ship bursts across its surface, heading directly up towards the massive CASTLE SHIP: AINCRAD.

The small Castle Jumper flies above the clouds, tilted in such a way that the sunlight doesn't glare into the front window. Not that it mattered too much, given the countless gleaming bursts of reflected sunlight off of the castle's shiny, metal surface.

With a tilt, and then a turn, instead of diving up towards a higher point on the Castle, the tiny Jumper went beneath Aincrad, beholding its multiple, light producing engine drives that were keeping it afloat.

 

 


 "So, how did you get involved with traveling between dimensions?"

"Oh, that's a fun story. Basically, one day, my Sister's boyfriend- Kazuto- wait, hold on. Right, so, my Mother is best friends and co-workers with the family nearby us. The Kirigayas. Suguha is their daughter, and Kazuto is her cousin. Shiori's my sister. Anyways. Kazuto was out doing flying practice in a Castle Jumper with his Aunt, and she noticed something off about how the Castle was floating in the air."

"And for the record, a Castle Jumper is...?"

"One of the Puddle Jumpers we have here on Atlantis, just without a built in DHD. Like, the exact same shape and size and everything."

"Right, continuing on?"

"Right, well, on the way back, His Aunt had him check the other Castles, and found that Aincrad was definitely floating weirdly- a lot like it had when Kazuto's parents had died in a Jumper accident."

"How terrible."



"Midori," your mother begins, "how was the trip?"

"Concerning," Midori says. "I spot checked the engines. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with them that I could see, which is even more concerning. External scans also matched what we were reading from inside- the engine output is so much lower than it should be."

That doesn't sound good.

"There's something else, though," Midori says. "Kazuto ran into some interference keeping him from righting the Jumper properly beneath Aincrad's engines. We didn't have that problem over at the other Castles."

"That's... that's worrisome," your mother frowns. "What do we do about that?"

"I don't know, but I think we need to spot check the Magneto-sphere itself," Midori says. "I think there's something wrong with it, maybe."

"If that Magneto-sphere is breaking down..." your mother grimaces. "This could affect more than just Aincrad."

"Let's double check the Jumper's Flight Logs before we head out again," Midori says, and with that, the both of them walk into the Jumper, and close the door behind them.



"Yeah. Anyways, my sister Shiori's a bit of a history nut, and has this huuuuge thing for going and exploring dangerous places. So, like, completely unrelated to this whole engine trouble, she was planning a trip into a nearby support structure- one of the emergency stairways to the next floor up, basically. Anyways, they went exploring there and I tagged along and, well... while they took a- ahhem- Food break... Pina got distracted chasing something, so I had to run after her, and... that's when we found the secret, hidden away Mirror Lab Shiori had us hunting for to begin with."

"How exactly did you find it?"



The wall suddenly slides open behind you with an enchanted HISS because of COURSE you would have the luck of leaning against a hidden door of all things.

"Ow..." You mutter as Pina releases her destroyed target and flutters over onto your chest.

"Kyuu?" She inquires, likely wondering if you were hurt.

"Nothing but my pride, Pina," you smile at her, giving her a tender pet down the neck before getting up to your feet. Pina shuffles onto your shoulders in the process so smoothly you didn't even notice, so you're surprised when she gives your right cheek a tender lick. "Aww, thanks."

"Kyuuui!" she chirps as what's probably meant to be "you're welcome!" Either that or "Feed me fish when we get home!"


"Oh, well. I just sort of activated the door by touching it. ATA Gene Key. Y'know?"

"I see. Continue on?"

"Inside there was a bunch of stuff like a flight training console that had been cracked by, though I didn't know it at the time, a Fae named Sakamoto who was a royal guard for Alfheim's princesses. Astora put him under orders to keep her younger sister safe from their father, Oberon. They'd fled through the Mirror and came to Aincrad."

"So this Sakamoto had come to Aincrad to hide away from the king?"

"Yep. That was a whole adventure and a half tracking them down. Like- a whole year of trying to figure it out, basically."

"Story for another time then."

"Yeah. Anyways. So, I turned on the Mirror and that's when I saw her- Silica! The cat girl Fae version of me!"



You don't even need a mental command to turn it on. You just press the blinking red button.

The mirror makes a weird whining sound, and then the black colored parts burn away with fire made out of static before resolving into a flickering image of yourself... except NOT.

Sure, she has a Pina on her shoulders just like you do, and sure she has your face and eyes and hairstyle, but... Her clothes look nothing like yours, and beyond that... You're reasonably quite certain that YOU do not have CAT EARS or a CAT TAIL.

The image flickers and warps for a moment before stabilizing.

"What the hell...?" You mutter as you watch your odd, be-cated twin do the same.

You tilt your head to your right, and she does the same to her right- that is to say, your LEFT.

You raise your left hand and give a wave, and she does the same, but whole seconds later.

It's not a mirror image! It's... it's... it's like a video screen??

She turns around to face someone off screen, and you see her mouth moving, but you don't hear the words. A second later, a boy and a girl walk into view... you'd say they look like some kids you know from class, except they're different too!

Like, you're quite sure that the boy you're thinking of is wheelchair bound, and for that matter, doesn't have wolf ears or a tail. The girl, also, you're reasonably certain doesn't have green highlights in her hair, or pointy elf ears for that matter!!

They're talking about something, quite excitedly, but it's impossible to tell what with the audio muted... You really need to learn how to read lips one of these days.

You see your alternate self's cat ears flick side to side in response to something, and you wonder if they're covered in actual cat's fur, or if it's just short hair like on her/your head?

You kinda, just want to reach out and--

Your hand brushes against the glass right as the image sort of warps with static and you scream as an electrical charge runs through your arm.

You scream, and then you hit the floor.



"The Mirror on their end was in a state of half-repair, though, so... it kinda fried the moment I went through. Silica and Minori went to fetch replacement power crystals while I stayed with Touya while he worked on repairs."

"That must have been quite a shock for them."

"Not as much as it was a shock right to my own heart- Literally! I was out cold for a while there after I touched the mirror."

"That sounds painful."

"It was! But Fae magic is pretty powerful. Healing magic works wonders! ...I can't begin to tell you the amount of times I've had to use it. I've got some nifty scars from the rapid healing, even if you can barely see them most of the time."

"...I get the feeling I'm going to be doing a whole series on your misadventures through parallel worlds, in the near future."

"Hahah! Probably. Anyways, as it turned out, Silica, Minori, and Touya were on a mission from the same Princess Astore to find Sakamoto. So once the Mirror was repaired, they came with me back to Aincrad. But that's when everything went to hell."


 

Your name is SILICA, and FINALLY, after years of work, you've got the WORLD MIRROR working again. All Powered up, turned on, and not flickering with static, you can see the same lab that Keiko was standing in before she touched the mirror. Beyond that, you can see two other people in the lab, who jump in surprise when the mirror turns on.

Funnily enough, one of them looks like Kirito, except... younger somehow? In the eyes, at any rate, he seems younger. Also, definitely not Fae.

Still, the Mirror is on, and Keiko heads back through first to explain the situation, and also as a test of the mirror to make sure it won't fizzle out again on its first use. FWASH! It doesn't break, and so Minori heads through next with a large bag full of all the personal shit you three have been storing in this lab since you started this project. FWASH!

You turn to Kirito and Yui, and say, "Good luck, you two."

Kirito just nods, while Yui echoes the statement of Good Luck.

Then, Touya heads through- FWASH!- and you take a breath, make sure the bag with the remaining Power Crystals are secured on your back, steel yourself, and then touch the mirror as well.

FWASH!!

And you emerge, feeling light headed to the point of everything trembling from the sudden change in altitude, into the middle of a conversation between Not-Kirito and a girl who Keiko keeps calling "Shiori Onee-chan"-- Big sister?

In this world you have a big sister?

Huh.

Oh, also, you feel very off balance. That's not due to being light headed from the altitude difference. The room seems to actually be shaking. Earthquake? No, can't be. A castle in the sky doesn't have earthquakes.

"We weren't just going to leave you here in the Dungeon like that!" Keiko's sister- Shiori, you guess- says rather loudly for the room space. "We were so worried when everything started shaking and you weren't here and-"

"When did everything start shaking?" You ask, and not-Kirito and Shiori turn and look at you, surprise in their eyes.

"Uh, about five minutes ago?" Not-Kirito says.

"Does it matter when it started shaking?" Minori asks as a bit of dust from the ceiling falls down on her head. "We should get out of here now that we're all together, right?"

"Yeah, good point," other you says, nodding. "Let's go!"



"What happened next?"

"What happened was utter chaos. A Goa'uld had gotten onto Aincrad and was sabotaging the engines in a hope to crash the Magneto-sphere to pieces. Had been trying it for long enough that it killed Kazuto's parents. It took my mother, tried killing Kazuto's Aunt, and went to finish the job. We had to stop it. So we followed it into the Engine Core."



SKREEEE! The ring around you chimes out as Kazuto hops over it and stands in the center with you. BRRRMM--

"Is this going to hurt?" You ask as the ring on the floor opens and ejects MULTIPLE MORE RINGS (VRRM X8 COMBO!) that rush upwards and FLOAT IN PLACE somehow!?

"Oh, definitely," Keiko says, tone definitely-- VARRROOOOOOSH!!! --serious but apparently joking as a beam of light washes over you pain free and then the Rings descend.

VRRM VRRM VRRM VRRM VRRM VRRM VRRM VRRM - RRRMMM- SHNKT!

There are a lot of either dead or unconscious bodies on the floor surrounding the transportation rings.

You and your duplicate draw your daggers, your twin pet dragons ruffle their feathers in anticipation, Minori her staff, Touya and Kazuto their swords, and Shiori readies her claw-gloves.

"When in doubt," you mutter, "follow the dead body road."



"That sounds like a lot to put on the shoulders of kids your age."

"It... kinda was? I was only... eleven or twelve at the time. For reference, I'm eighteen now, almost nineteen. It's terrifying what we went through, looking back on it, but... there was nothing else that could be done. We were the closest ones to do anything who knew the full situation and there just wasn't time to bring anyone else up to speed."

"So you confronted the Goa'uld on your own."

"Not that we knew what that was at the time. Kazuto went in with his sword, trying to distract her."



You draw your sword, and then run into the room, "Miss Ayano! Back away from the console right now and put this Castle back right where you found it!!"

She laughs, not even looking up from her code-typing work. Her voice is... it's different. It's echoing. Well, chalk one up for DEMONIC POSSESSION, you guess. "Oh, Kazuto," she says, "you poor, naive boy."

"Stop typing!" You growl, pointing your sword at her and stepping forwards. "Stop typing and back away right now!"

"Or you'll do what?"

"Or... or I'll cut your head off!!" You bluff.

Still... Bishop Ayano, or whatever it is possessing her, hits the enter key, and then backs away from the console, turning around and putting her hands into the air.

Her eyes flash, and she smirks. "I was prepared to die when I first started this mission. I knew I'd never make it off of this Castle alive. Go ahead. Kill me. It makes no difference. Nothing you can do will stop the destruction of this Castle and the Magneto-sphere holding it and the other Castles in orbit."

"Why!?" And then the last person you wanted barging in here does so. Oh, Shiori, you so wish she didn't have to see this. "Why would you do this, Mom!?"

"News flash, Shiori," the woman's eyes flash again, this time seemingly out of annoyance. "Your mother isn't home right now. Hasn't been for four years. You can call me... The Administrator Cardinal."



"That sounds like a Goa'uld, alright."

"Yeeep."

"So, what did you do?"

"Silica used a phasing spell to incapacitate her, but it was too late. The Castle was accelerating into the upper atmosphere already, ready to drop down on the Magneto-sphere and pop it like a bubble."



"...Okay, so in three minutes we're being thrown at the thing we're not supposed to be thrown at," Touya summarizes. "Our other option is rebooting the entire system, which has us falling to our doom uncontrollably? Is that the difference?"

"Well, yeah, but-" Shiori pauses. "Wait, yes, rebooting everything shuts down the engines and Aincrad falls, but we're falling thanks to gravity, not the engines being thrown in reverse!"

"So we reboot the engines and then throw the engines back on after the reboot is done to control our descent!" Keiko says.

"I- I guess??" Shiori frowns. "But there's no telling how fast we'll be falling due to gravity! We might hit the Magneto-sphere anyways!"

"Quick question because I might have a stupid idea!" Minori raises her hand. "This Magneto-sphere, is it a solid thing or an intangible thing?"

"It's solid," you say. "A bunch of giant, interlocking, magnetic plates that encircle the entire planet."

"Right, so..." Minori looks at Silica, "Silica, that spell you just used to sneak in here, if we change out the self-target component for a scaled item target...?"

"Oh! Yeah!" She snaps her fingers. "We could make the entire castle and everyone on it intangible for a few seconds! If the engines haven't rebooted by the time we're about to crash into it, that is."




"You made the castle intangible?"

"We made the castle fucking intangible."


 

[Attention Citizens of Aincrad,] you start speaking to everyone in Aincrad by means of triggering the female voiced Automated Broadcast System all across the Castle. [Due to engine sabotage, we're about to crash and explode. So we're going to try something that should get us back into a safe position... but it might make us crash and explode just the same... Either way, you're going to want to hold on tight to something because this is going to be a bumpy ride.]

"Nice speech, Kazuto," Shiori smiles at a camera, knowing you can see her through it. Then, you feel, more than see, her press a certain key combination. "REBOOTING SYSTEMS!"

And then you feel everything go dead, and yet, you're still connected to the Castle Aincrad itself.

You feel all the upwards thrust cut from the engines- the STAR DRIVES, as the Castle helpfully supplies- and only forwards momentum keeps you going up and up and up.... and then it slows.

You feel it slowing as the sheer bulk of Aincrad gets pulled back down by the planet's gravity.

Soon, the shaking you'd felt omnipresent and gotten used to disperses, and everything is still.

Absolutely still.

AND THEN YOU FALL.

[0:05]

Inside your minds eye, you see the three other worldly visitors put themselves in a triangle formation around a bag full of Z.P.M. crystals, all resting on top of the power generator. Minori casts some kind of spell that seems to link the three of them with mystical bonds of energy, and then, they wait, standing impossibly still as gravity takes hold elsewhere.

You watch as Shiori holds herself tight to the console, watching a progress bar of the Castle's Operating Systems rebooting. You watch Keiko throw herself onto the back of the chair you're sitting in, using one hand to grab you by the shoulder and keep you sitting in the chair.

You see everyone who can grab onto something do such, even as gravity threatens to pull and whip them up onto the ceiling above them.

[0:12]

If this were a Jumper, this would be where the inertial dampeners kick on... and it seems, that's the case as they too reboot for all of Aincrad.

You feel the entirety of Castle Aincrad as it hurtles down through the atmosphere, picking up speed and falling, falling, falling.

You're not so high up that you begin burning in re-entry, but you feel the heat of acceleration against the Castle's armored skin regardless.

[0:30]

You can only wonder what this looks like from the outside- a giant tear-drop shaped beast of metal hurtling down from above, breaking MACH SPEEDS and threatening doom for everything else.

The external feeds, and the acceleration sensors kick in as they become the first system to reboot, and you get a picture of how fast of an approach you're making towards the Magneto-sphere.

"ENGINES WON'T REBOOT IN TIME!" Shiori yells, "CAST IT NOW!!"

"RIGHT!" Silica yells back. "LET'S DO THIS!"

"RIGHT!" The others nod.

[1:00]

Their spell craft spills forth from their mouths then, sounding like music as you FEEL the flow of power from their foreign Power Crystals draining away into those three mages, and then redirected through out all of Aincrad through the Z.P.M. console.

You feel the magic takes hold, spreading rapidly across every available surface, and then, once it had a grip on everything, ALL of Aincrad's solid mass suddenly becomes OUT OF PHASE with the rest of reality some how.

Your world becomes shadow, and then CLOUDS as Aincrad falls through the cloud layer, and then a moment later--

[1:33]

You can only wonder how it looks from below. A massive ball of shadow piercing through the Magneto-sphere and falling like the ominous herald of doom.

Except, as you feel the three Fae collapse to the floor from exhaustion, the shadow would flickers, and suddenly a silver Castle appears, falling down so fast it seems impossible.

[1:41]

You're back to reality, and, naturally, that's when the MANEUVERING ENGINES Reboot. Not the STAR-DRIVE, though. It's not enough to slow your descent if you turned those on just yet. But...

You throw the Engines on anyways, hoping to change your descent towards a rocky demise into a WATER LANDING, because while there's nothing but crust beneath you right now... in the distance you can see the ocean.

And so you tilt Aincrad as best as you can to use your current momentum to overshoot the continent below you and land in the ocean.

You watch as whole mountain ranges, snow covered and beautiful, whirl past beneath you, giving way to plains of grass and wild fields of flowers, and then there are... there are miraculously signs of civilization. People... people have been surviving down here after the Castles were launched??

[1:55]

It doesn't matter.

You FOCUS on making it over the ocean as best as you can, and then once you do... well, you're going to have to-

"LEVEL OUT!" Shiori cries out. "WE'RE GONNA CRASH IF YOU DON'T LEVEL US OUT!!"

"...Thanks for the reminder!" you grit out, wrenching your real eyes tighter.

The continent below continues to blur past, and then- then- YES! OCEAN! OCEAN AT LAST!

And wouldn't you know it? That's when the STAR DRIVES finally Reboot and turn on and you throw everything you can into stopping while still leveling out as best as you can.

[2:25]

Fast! Too fast! You're still going too fast!

You can see a timer flashing down in your eyes, counting down to the moment you finally touch down on the ocean's surface, and if you do it wrong, the whole castle will CRASH and probably EXPLODE.

So you're going to do it right. No pressure, RIGHT????????

You can feel the waves and the sea itself misting up beneath Aincrad as you skim over its surface- slowly, surely, leveling out, but is it enough?

IS IT ENOUGH!!?

It's going to have to be! You've leveled Aincrad out as well and leveled as you're going to be able to get and--

[2:53]

You feel the ocean crash into the castle, and you feel your heart skip as all power cuts for a crucial moment- your world is nothing but blackness with only the sensation of water crashing into you from all sides.

[2:58]

But then, your awareness comes back, and you feel Aincrad is still there. Still level. Sliding to a halt on the water's surface as the displaced ocean rains down around you in your wake.

You're here.

You're all here.

Everyone is ALIVE.

Bruised and battered, but alive.

[3:19]

...And the average citizen is applauding and cheering as everything seems to stop moving so drastically.

---

"...Words don't quite do it justice, really."

"I can only imagine."

"After that... well, things went about as back to normal as they could be considering we'd crashed into the ocean with a full Hundred floors of structure and people. There was a lot of rebuilding, and a lot of politicking with the management... and there was a lot of searching for more Goa'uld possessing people... But those are stories for another time."

"Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me, Miss Ayano."

"Any time, Mister Bregman. It's... really fun to be able to talk about it with someone after all these years."

Chapter Text

EARTH DATE: JUNE 25TH, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 01/03/0005.

Your name is Joey Claire, and you awaken in your bed back on Diaspora with two warm bodies curled up next to you. Skin against skin- slight differences in warmth between them enough to tell you who's who without even looking. Polypa runs hotter as a general rule of thumb, and she's on your left, pinning your arm against her chest with her own arms and having her legs wrapped around your own. Mierfa is a bit chiller in comparison, and she's on your right, tucked up into a ball from how her back arches against your side.

These are the mornings that you just don't want to get out of bed. You just want to stay beneath the sheets with your Matesprit and Kismesis and not even bother getting dressed.

You could get away with it too, really. The whole just lounge around your house naked all day thing. You and your whole teame are  all on leave for ateast another solid month. Doctor's Orders for you, and Okurii applied it to everyone else because "You've earned it!"

There's only one problem with your desire to be lazy today. Well, two, really, but first and foremost is one glaring issue.

...You have to go to the bathroom.

"Nngh," you groan, opening your eyes,  and shrugging your entrapped arm at Polypa. "Lemmego, Poly..."

"Nooo..." She snuggles her face up against your neck. "Too perfectly warm."

"But I gotta go to the bathroom," you whine as quietly as you can so as to not wake Mierfa.

"So?" Polypa cracks an eye open at you.

"So I'd fight and break loose but I'm not sure I'd have the energy to even walk after last night," You tease. "At least get me my crutches so I can walk?"

"Fiiiinee..." Polypa giggles, and then untangles herself from you before searching around for your crutches while you try your best so sit up.

You really did a stupid thing, powering the Ultrazord with your own body like you did.

Not only did you burn down whatever battery of psiionic energy you had built up inside your very being, but you pretty much did the equivalent of frying all the circuits that let you channel that energy, to continue the metaphor. Since you woke up back at the SGC, your legs have felt like you haven't walked on them in years and you can barely even get your wings to manifest for more than a few moments at a time. It's frustrating,

"...Ah." Polypa says suddenly, and turns to look at you with an apologetic look on her face. "I Can't find them."

"Ugh," you grunt in annoyance. "I'll try to make due without 'em, then."

"Or I could help walk you?" Polypa offers.

"...Or that, yeah."

And so you slip out of bed- barely able to hold your own balance until Polypa swoops in and helps support your weight.

"Easy there," Polypa says.

"This sucks," you lament once you've hobbled out of the bedroom and started down the hall.

"For you, yeah," Polypa teases. "I dunno, I kind of like having you all discombobulated. Usually you're the one making me all out of sorts."

"Pft," you feel a bit better hearing that, for some reason. "Yeah, the tables have really turned for us, haven't they?"

"Yeah," Polypa nods as you reach the bathroom. "It really has turned around."

Wasn't too long ago, it feels like, that you helped her into your room, healed her burns and... well...

It really was a while ago, though, wasn't it? Back when the All Your Base was still your home and...

Now it's gone for good.

Your home gave all it had to beating English over the head into the Supergate. both the ship and the planet and... isn't it weird how you'd come to thought of Alternia as 'home'?

It wasn't a very pleasant home, but it was better than Earth in some vague, indescribable way.

As you finish up and then head back to the bedroom, you ask, "So... think we can find those crutches before we head out to the Caverns?"

"Yeah," Polypa nods. "I don't think we did anything too extraneous with them. They probably just got knocked under the bed or something."

"Probably," you agree.

You're really going through with it today.

You're taking two captchalogued buckets full of genetic mix to the Mother Grub and 'commissioning' a grub of your own to raise.

After everything that you've been through... all the challenges you've overcome...

Now you're moving onto something that even Okurii's beaten you to trying.

Parenting.

You've been so afraid that you'd screw something up or become like your Pa. Just... absent absent absent...

Well, if this inability to walk without crutches carries on for any longer than another month, you're pretty sure that last part isn't going to be a problem.

"Hey," Polypa jostles you in an annoying, but reassuring way. "C'mon. Me and Mierfa've been your legs with Kyoretsu. We'll be 'em here too and we'll get through this."

"Thanks," you smile.


 

Your name is Mierfa Durgas, and you and Polypa sit and stare, watching as Joey snoozes once again. You're not due to head to the caverns for a while more, so you'll let her rest.

You glance at... well. You're pretty certain you and Polypa have somehow wound up as Moirails in this entire weird ass situation. You just haven't put a name to it yet. Your Matesprit's Kismesis is your Moirail. That sounds both incredibly weird and also sort of just... Right at the same time.

Go figure.

You've got your phones out for texting while she's sleeping so you can talk.

"So what did we do with those crutches again?" Polypa asks. "I swear they've just up and vanished *| Like poof *| just gone into the ether *| I even checked under the bed and everything!"

You frown, racking your memory.

"We had dinner... we went to the bedroom..." you reply. "We.... put her down on the bed and then..."

What had you done with the crutches?

Joey had handed them to you and you'd...

You quietly, carefully, slip out of bed and tip toe over to the closet.

"Found them," you text after checking inside. "I hung them up on one of the jacket wall hooks."

"Good *|" Polypa replies, "one less thing to worry about. *|"

"Yeah," you reply, and return to the bed, carefully carrying the crutches with you to place next to the bedside.

"Hey *|" she says after you've climbed back into bed. "I'm kinda worried *| you know?"

Yes, you know exactly what she means. It's been just a little shy of two weeks since the Ultrazord battle with English, and it's been an exceedingly slow amount of time for Joey's energy reserves to rebuild.

It ain't Void Rot, because that'd imply her energy levels were constantly draining. But... they're simply just not regenerating as fast as they should've been. And given the damage to her DNA...?

"Yeah, I am too," you reply. "Do you think maybe we should have waited to do this until she was feeling better? Or atleast, more energized?? And what if the kid's genetics are screwed up because a burnt out chunk of her DNA doesn't get filtered out by the Mother Grub?"

"No *| it's not that *| if anything last night was the most energized I've seen her since we shoved English through the Gate *| And the mother grubs can filter out even the worst of recessive genes so I dont think thats going to be a problem mierfa *|"

"Then what are you worried about? >:?"

"...Nevermind *| It was a stupid question *|"

"Come on, just tell me."

"I... I'm scared that Lynera and Elwurd are going to try something that takes one or both of us away from her. *| Or hell *| What about Xefros??"

That's... a rather terrifying concept indeed. More so than what you were worried about.

"Like," she continues on, "even if we retire *| what if they pull something and the teams on duty can't stop it and we get hurt? Before I'm sure she'd bounce back but..."

After the Ultrazord and all of this...

You look at Joey, all sound asleep and lying flat on her back, looking just... so cute and tired...

And vulnerable too... damn it.

"I just..." Polypa has a look on her face that's hard to place. "Fucking don't know what to do *| and it makes me so mad that I'm even worrying about this shit *|"

Well, you guess it's time to put your assumptions to the test.

"Hate or love, we still both care about her, Polypa," you say. "And... we care about eachother too. We'll get through this."

And then you punch in two simple characters that could make or break all of this.

"<>"

Polpya's eyes blink at her phone's screen, then jump up at you.

"Wha...?" She doesn't type that, but actually says it out loud. Well, whispers, really, but still. Verbal rather than text.

What she does text back, half blind while staring at you, is "Seriously? Like *| Are you being serious about that sign here?"

You reply back, hoping you haven't just totally ruined something here... "I am." You even nod for good measure.

And then she cracks a grin and thumbs down two characters in return.

"<>"


 

Your name is WANSHI ADYATA, and as odd as it sounds, you miss the simple days of when you were FIVE-AND A HALF SWEEPS. When everyone treated you with kid gloves, and peppered you with what few books they could sneak away from the town some distance away from the Caverns.

Of course, as you got older, the kid gloves came off and you got embroiled in the tending duties and the care of everything and...

And then the day came that the All Your Base came crashing down into the desert, and Joey Claire and company walked into your life.

You'd watched from the background as the Matrons and Seers all talked with them- the outsiders and the Alien girl.

They were rebels!

You loved the SOLDIER PURRBEASTS Books that you'd gotten at one point, but you never got enough to have a complete picture. It was all scattered about. Were there ever rebel Purrbeasts who fought against the fighting and clan-caste dynamics? Probably, you'd rationalized, just not in the volumes you had.

The day came soon there after that you all moved to Diaspora. Then Bronya, and Daraya, and Sumara decided to go work for the Rebellion and- of all the things- they included you in on the discussion and decision making and--

While you readily accepted, you knew in that moment that your days of youthfull innocence had completely ended.

And GLUBBING HELL. Lynera. She'd been so protective of you. To think that she'd go and--

Daraya had left the Alternia Galaxy entirely for Pegasus, and Kanaya had gone too because Rose was going. Bronya and her lover Skylla have basically gone off the radar since the incident. And Sumara and Lanque were the only ones left of your generation...

So... you came back to the caverns pretty much full time.

And at any rate, it's not like you were ever really that involved with the major fighting stuff. That was Daraya's thing. Sure, for a while there you were all gathered together as a group but...

Everyone went their own ways then, and they've done it now.

You've got shoes to fill, especially with Lynera just...

The thoughts just keeps rattling through your mind.

"I should have seen it. I should have been here. I should have done something."

But you didn't, you weren't, and couldn't. So... you'll do better now going forwards. You'll be there to see it and do something. You'll make sure another Lynera doesn't happen again.

It's with these thoughts all in mind that when you found little Tirona Kasund crying behind a tree near the cavern entrance. Apparently Lynera was letting the girl stay with her, but with Lynera now gone... Nobody else wants her- she's too old- and tainted by exposure to Lynera, socially speaking..

You decided to take her under wing and give her a place to stay.

It's with all of these thoughts that when an egg of indigo  shell color hatches into the wrong color entirely, and the Matrons all recoil in fear because- after all of the grubs that have hatched since the migration that were of every hue except purple- to now have a little grub with Purple as his hue especially right after the Death of English?? And the grub was from one of Lynera's batches as well, adding to the shock and surprise and---

You put it aside.

You drag up your inner Bronya and take the grub under your wing as well. Even if, you tell the Matrons, only for long enough to ensure he's healthy while  you try to find a set of parents for him... Honestly, the only person you'd trust enough at this stage would be Bronya, but she's off in the wind.

And when Joey Claire and her Matesprit and Kismesis come along with buckets of genetic material requesting a commission... an idea strikes you.

"Hey, could you see if you could pass along a message to Bronya?" You ask Mierfa while Polypa and Joey deal with the main reason that they're here. "I have a problem I need to speak to her about."

Oddly enough, by the end of that night, your phone rings, and you hear from Bronya in the first time in ages. You're not sure how Polypa managed it, but you'll thank her later.

"...A Purple Blooded Grub hatched?" Bronya asks for confirmation once you relay the situation to her.

"Yeah, and... I'm worried. He was from Lynera's latest batch and considering that whole fiasco, purple blood color aside, everyone's looking at him like he's an omen of disaster and- I can't let anything happen because of people hating on him." You sigh. "Beyond all of that, I've got the grub at my place for now, and I can tell there's something off with him already."

"Off?" Bronya asks. "How?"

"His grub speak is just... non existent," you explain. "Like, he tries to speak, and then... nothing. Like he can't make it work. I'm worried whatever mutation caused him to change in his shell from Indigo to Purple might be effecting him."

"Listen, I'll be back from the Villein village in the morning," Bronya tells you, "we've been working on some defense mechanisms and- well. Anyways. We've finished with that and were going to be heading back later this week anyways. I'll travel ahead of time to help you deal with this."

And she does.

When morning rolls around, Bronya is back, and she's looking at the grub you've taken a keen eye on and she agrees with you.

"Yeah. It's probably a result of the indigo-to-purple  mutation," she deduces. "I can tell, something with his vocal chords haven't formed right. Hopefully they'll fix themselves properly when he molts, but..." She frowns. "The Matrons are pressuring you to find someone to take care of him, aren't they?"

You nod, grimly. "They are. Yeah."

"Then I'll take him," Bronya says, scooping the little grub up into her arms. "I'll be his guardian."

It's a huge relief off your shoulders- but then you remember, "Oh- what name should I put him down under? I think the Matrons might throw a fit if I use Ursama or Koriga as a last name. At the very least, they'd tell me off for trying to pin the name to someone who they haven't even spoken to since Lynera left..."

"...You're right," Bronya frowns. "Karako Pierot. That'll be his name."

And so it was that you returned that morning to the caverns and informed the Matrons that you'd given Karako Pierot off to a loving mother.

You didn't get a chance to see Bronya again, but Skylla arrived later that day with some Villein, and began setting up VILLEIN-TECH DISRUPTOR WEAPONS around the settlement as defensive devices. Apparently, they were targeted, single focus laser beam based weapons that served the same function as the waveform-based Replicator Disruptors.

Hopefully, nobody would need to use them.

And then Skylla went through the Gate to the BELTUS with some disruptors and you didn't get a chance to see her again either.

Still... you think you know where they've moved to now. The Villein settlement... you might be able to swing some vacation days and visit them, some time in the future.

Chapter Text

EARTH DATE: MARCH 13TH, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 09/20/0004.

"Sugu, are you serious!? We're on the Ocean!?" the girl who looks like Minori-- Miri, wasn't that her name?-- exclaims.

"I'm serious! Kazuto went on a flight around and there's nothing but ocean for miles!!" A flight Suguha's big brother already filled you in on the details of. "I wanna go swimming but Mom says it's a bad idea! But it's the OCEAN! I've never been in an ocean before!!"

"That sounds dangerous, Sugu," you say, hugging Pina close. "I think your mom has the right idea."

"It seems so weird, though," the boy in the wheel chair- Tony, you think- remarks. "What about getting us back in the air? The other Castles have to have noticed what happened!"

"I don't think that's going to happen any time soon at all," you speak before you realize it. "The ZPMs aren't connecting to Atlantis' systems and- Wait." You frown. Atlantis? No. That's not right. Aincrad. Isn't it? It's... It's...

Pina licks you impossibly across the nose- somehow having gone from your arms to your head and- Ah.

Right.

You blink awake as your little friend continues to serve as the best alarm clock ever.

Your name is Keiko Ayano, and you've left Aincrad far, far behind.

"Morning, Pina..." you sigh, and then giggle. "Time to get up, right?"

"Kyuuu!" your dragon purrs, and nuzzles your neck.

It's time to get up, and get dressed.

You'd lament the decision to skip showering, but they're still refilling the city's water tanks with desalinated water. Not that you could anyways, given your poor choice in room selection.

Sure, being next to a swimming pool is nice and all, but... you missing having your own shower. A sanctuary away from your sister and her boyfriend whenever they- Well.

That's in the past now. You have the future to worry about.

It has been about a week since the Atlantis Expedition arrived in the Pegasus Galaxy, and... Well... Things have never gone according to plan since you arrived.

Already, an unstable time loop seems to have happened to divert disaster right on the very first day. Then you kicked over all sorts of trouble in the form of pissing off the WRAITH- the local dominant life form atop the food chain. Oh, but atleast you made friends! And... find yourself unable to dial back to Earth to make a scheduled check in because the City won't accept any of the ZPMs you brought with you.

Atleast the Naquadah generators work to keep the city powered, but it's nowhere near enough to power the Stargate for an extra-galactic connection.

You think you've figured out the work around by now, though.

As you exit your room, dressed up in your work uniform, you pause in the hall, running almost face first into your neighbor- an Alternian troll named Mallek Adalov.

"Ready to give the Gate a try?" he asks, and you nod.

He might not look like much at first glance- just some punk in a hoodie with a lot of ring piercings along his face and horns- but he's a fairly competent programmer/hacker/coder/what have you.

Most of the people on this Expedition are smart- they wouldn't be here if they weren't. Well, okay, maybe that's an understatement. There are the military minds and those with super powers, and of course, the civilians who are there to fulfill other such roles as COOKING, CLEANING, or who knows what else.

You come from all over. Tok'ra and Humans from Milky Way, Alternians from the Alternia Galaxy, you and Pina, from a whole completely different universe. One where EARTH came under Goa'uld attack, and was defended by the CITY OF ATLANTIS...

This very same city that you're in now, just under different circumstances.

For thousands of years, your version of Earth was home to countless floating castles- each one a hundred times taller than Atlantis itself, but based on the same technology. And then you found a Quantum Mirror in a maintenance dungeon, and got involved with the world of ALFHEIM- where another you and other people from her world gathered together to fight back against a tyrannical king, rescue a couple of princesses, and... well... Eventually made contact with the people of Stargate Command- from the Earth of this dimension.

Things got really complicated after that.

That's really all there is to say on the matter.

Lost in your thoughts as you are, you arrive at the Atlantis Control Ops room sooner rather than later.

"Miss Ayano, Mister Adalov," Doctor Elizabeth Weir, leader of the expedition, greets you as you arrive. "Good Morning."

"Good Morning, Doctor Weir," you greet.

"Mornin'," Mallek nods.

"So then, are we ready for the attempted dial out?" Weir asks.

"Where's Doctor Mckay?" You ask, looking around the room. "I thought he'd want to be here for this."

"He's in the infirmary receiving the first human trial test of the ATA Gene Therapy," Weir explains. "Doctor Beckett assures me that if Rodney can permanently recieve the gene, he'll be prepared to hand it out to anyone who volunteers."

"Sweet," Mallek grins. "They're doing it without the Shaper Crystal, right?"

"Yes, Kanaya Maryam and Rose Lalonde are off world right now with Teyla, trying to secure some food trade through one of the Athosian's friendly contacts," Weir says. "I think Carson mentioned something about a mouse retrovirus and a lack of FDA testing out here in passing."

Ah, the Athosians. Some local humans native to this Galaxy that got their village raided by the Wraith. And... a mouse retro virus? You have no idea what "FDA Testing" is either.

Mallek seems to have some idea, though, because he laughs.

"Well, whole brave new frontier out here, isn't it?" He asks. "Wonder if it'll work on Alternians?"

"Something that'll have to wait after we see if it works on humans first," Weir smugly decides, then motions to the DHD. "Shall we begin?"

"Right," you sit down at the DHD, decaptchalogue your laptop (Thank you, ancient (In time) Alternian Technology!) connect to the Ancient (Species) technology and begin the Dialing program.

Atlantis' DHD has refused to dial out past six chevrons if the seventh symbol isn't the Point of Origin. It seems like a security measure, really. In addition to trying to work past SIMIILAR restrictions on the ZPM RECEPTICLES in the power core, you and Mallek think you struck upon the magic number for getting past said security block, in the Stargate, at least.

While Mallek heads down and ensures the Stargate is hooked up to the ZPM repository you'd brought through from Aincrad, you double check everything.

This is your technology. Sure, it's a ANCIENT RELIC (In terms of time and species), but it's still YOUR TECHNOLOGY. It's a precursor to everything that runs and ran on Aincrad. You can DO THIS.

Mallek gives a thumbs up as he returns from checking the connections, and with that, you nod to Weir, who goes on the city wide intercom.

"Atlantis, this is Doctor Weir speaking. We're about to attempt to make one more attempt at a  connection to Earth. As always, please shut down or disconnect any non essential equipment to protect it from possible power surges. Thank you."

Then, she nods to you.

"Dialing Earth," You breathe out, and then run the program.

You're bypassing the Atlantis DHD entirely and instead using a home brewed program. This time, it should work. Hell, you're not even dialing using spatial coordinates. You're using the tried and true Nine Symbol MAC Address for the Stargate at the SGC. This connection should make it no matter what!

The Gate lights up- a symbol appearing in the top center chevron, and then spinning down along the digital tracks in a large, counter-clockwise circle before locking into place under the first chevron.

Another glyph appears, top center, and spins clockwise into the second chevron. A third, counter clockwise, to the third. Another chevron, clockwise, to the fourth. Again counter to the fifth. Clockwise again to the sixth...

And then the Gate shuts down as the next input symbol is rejected.

"That shouldn't have happened," you frown. "That should have worked! We were inputting the symbols into the Gate directly! There shouldn't have been any security protocols in place to stop it! We checked the Gate's programming! This should have worked!"

"What if it's not a programming protocol?" Mallek asks.

"What do you mean?" Weir asks.

"What if, and, just hear me out here because this is crazy..." Mallek looks at the Gate. "What if there's a Physical Limiter installed within the Stargate itself that shuts down all functionality if the last symbol isn't the Point of Origin?"

"The Ancients wouldn't want the Wraith to be able to dial outside of the Galaxy, so they locked out Eight Symbol Addresses," Weir rationalizes, "But by doing so they also prevented the ability to dial a Gate's Nine Symbol MAC address."

"Which is something even the Ancients likely didn't use that much," Mallek says.

"So... that leaves us with one big question..." Weir begins...

"How do we bypass that limiter?" You finish, thinking the same thoughts.


 

O<--STARGATE: ATLANTIS-->O


 

Your name is Elizabeth Weir, and it's been a hell of a day so far, considering it's not even Nine A.M. local time.

The Planet is being called LANTEA or some varriation of that so far. The Athosians started calling it that, and, well, the name's spread among the Expedition staff.

Fresh Water won't be a problem, Grodin is telling you, as the tanks are nearly full and should automatically continue desalinizing the seawater as the usage drains it.

"It seems some Ancient technology requires the user to have the gene. Other things merely require initialization. Once activated, like the control room, anyone can push the buttons to make them work," Grodin rambles a bit as you pass by a trio of Athosian boys, Jinto among them, who pause in their run to bow in greeting.

"Good Morning, Doctor Weir!" Jinto greets.

"Morning," you smile, "Be careful in the halls!"

"We will!" And with that, they run off.

You look to Grodin, and say, "I think we need to designate some specific recreational areas. Wouldn't you agree?" Especially if the rumors you're hearing are true and some members of the expedition have either hooked up prior to or been hooking up since arrival. Unprotected. A few cases of "Just Allergies" have surfaced already among certain staff members.

Even if the Athosians find a new home and move out of the City... Atlantis is sure to have some kids running around it in a few years.

"Yes," Grodin nods in agreement. "I think that's for sure."

"And we certainly need to clear more of the hallways of our supplies and get everything put away as soon as possible, and can we lose the ten-thousand-year-old dead plants?" You glare at a pile of dead plants in a planter that still have yet to be cleared out.

"Of course," Grodin says. "We're still in the process of making sure everyone's been assigned living quarters. Major Sheppard seems to be taking his time okaying enough space."

"Well," you say as you finally arrive in the Gate room. "The Safety and Security of this expedition are his top priorities with Colonel Sumner now dead."

"Well, that's-"

"Okay! I'm Ready!" Mckay's shout interupts whatever Grodin was about to say.

And then Mckay falls off of the balcony above and lands on the ground next to you.

There's an odd FWASH sound as he hits the ground though.

You look up and see Sheppard staring with an odd sort of mischief in his eyes. "Did it work!?" He asks.

Mckay then leaps to his feet, and cheers- "Did you guys see that!?" He grins.

"Yes- What just happened??" You ask.

"I'm fine!" Mckay grins, and Sheppard marches down the stairs to join you. "Look, Beckett's gene therapy worked. I was able to activate this," He points at a device somehow attached to his chest. "It's a, uh, personal shield, acts like a, uh, protective skin, and it must have inertial dampening properties, too, because I didn't feel a thing. Watch this." He turns to Grodin, and demands, "Hit Me!"

Grodin does so- it's a fine right hook that should knock anyone out.

It stops short of a green forcefield a few inches away from Mckay's face- which flares up and causes Grodin to stagger backwards with a yelp.

"You didn't have to swing so hard," Mckay taunts. "Also," he looks to Sheppard, "Notice that he didn't even hesitate? It took me like three minutes to convince you to even slap me!"

"Yeah, well, I didn't know it was going to actually work," Sheppard remarks.

"I'm still trying to understand how you thought it was a good idea to test this device by having someone throw you off a balcony," you inquire.

"Oh, believe me, that was like, the tenth thing we tried," Mckay says. "We worked our way up!"

"Like?" you ask, glancing to Grodin, who's still nursing his fist and muttering curses promising Mckay a swift death by way of vampires of the normal, earth-born varriety. (Although isn't there an interesting question regarding where Earth's vampire myths came from?)

"I shot him- in the leg, of course," Sheppard answers, a little bit smugly. "And Jade flung a couple of marbles at him. Stopped them cold despite how fast she'd thrown them! Not even a tiny bit of nuclear fission from the impact either!"

"I find it rather concerning that you decided to test a possibly nuclear reaction before throwing someone off of a balcony!" You remark.

"Oh, we took a Jumper out over the ocean for that part," Sheppard says. "We're not THAT dumb, Weir."

Wait.

"The OCEAN??"

"Oh, yeah, Mckay figured out how to retract the Jumper bay roof," Sheppard says. "But that's not important."

"What is is that I'm invulnerable!" Mckay grins, sounding about as excited as you've ever heard him sounding.

"Aren't you the one who's always spouting off about how proper and careful scientific procedure must be adhered to?" You ask.

"In~vul~ner~a~ble!" Mckay sing-songs, bopping up and down on his feet a little.

You sigh. "Alright, fine. Just take it off."

"You're just jealous," Mckay sticks his tongue out.

"Oh, yes, green with envy," you dryly return as Mckay reaches for the device and--

VRRRRRR!

"...Uh..." Mckay keeps gripping at it, only for the forcefield on the hand and chest areas to keep flaring up and prevent him from grabbing the device. "...Atlantis, we might have a problem."

Sheppard reaches for it, but is similarly repelled. Mckay glances at him, with a 'Really?' sort of look.

"I had to check," Sheppard says, a bit quietly.



Your name is RODNEY MCKAY...

"Oh, yeah," Keiko nods. "I've seen these before."

"And??" You ask.

"In a museum," She answers, prodding at your shielded chest. "Looong after the batteries died and they were useless to anyone. Nobody ever could figure out how to recharge them."

"So no idea how to shut it off?" You ask.

"Nope!" She grins.

...And you are NOT amused at all.

"Well, thanks for that," you lament.

"Sorry," Keiko shakes her head. "Anyways, I'll take a look at the documentation and see if I can find anything."

"Well, thanks," and with that, you make your way to the conference room.

You can't even eat or drink. You'll starve within a day!! Okay, so Carson says you can last longer than that- maybe atleast 3 days without water- you weren't exactly paying attention, too busy Moping....

Why do the awesome things have to borderline on deadly?

You arrive in the conference room as the security briefing you skipped out in nears its end. Better to atleast put in an appearance near the end before you starve to death.

"Do you not trust us?" Teyla is in the middle of asking.

"It's not a matter of trust," Weir consoles, "it's a matter of safety. We had ten incidents yesterday, three Athosians, two SGC Military, three Alternians, and two Civlian Scientists who all encountered Ancient technology that misfired before they could be safely moved or turned off and had to be taken to the infirmary. And that's just yesterday, within areas of the city inside the areas we'd rushed through clearing only to have them be stumbled upon by accident by people who weren't on patrol. That's ten people too many and I don't want to see anyone else getting hurt."

"She's right on that," Sheppard says, "it's not that we don't want to include you guys in the perimeter searches, it's that the more people we have going through the city at the same time, the more chance there is that we start triggering multiple disasters that might chain react into something we can't stop easily."

"Very well," Teyla nods. "I can see the logic within that. Unfortunately I've already had to chastize those who touched things without checking if they were safe or not for acting like children in the forest. I will inform those that wish to help on the reasoning behind it. Perhaps their annoyance will carry through the message to look and not touch."

"Let them know we'll try to work in some of the Huntersinto future patrols once we've gotten a better idea of what we're dealing with," Sheppard says. "In the mean time, if there's anyone who has some mild water-telekensis powers or something and they want to help, we do have some jobs for them helping to clear out some flooded sections of the city we just came across. Gotta deflood it before we can make it safe."

"I'll pass that along as well," Teyla agrees, "I'm sure it will help aleviate some of the anxious desire to do something among my people."

"Just to hammer the point in, I'll be issuing a base wide statement later today," Weir says. "Everyone needs to remember and take it to heart to not touch anything unfamiliar."

"Yeah," you say, "That's very important. I mean you never know. Even a tiny, little, innocuous-looking thing can…can kill you." All eyes look towards you, and you riase your hand, adding, "Dead man talking."



"So... What is this 'ATA Gene' thing?" Emmett Bregman asks of Carson Beckett in front of a Camera. "And why is this gene therapy so important?"

"So, the A.T.A., or Ancient Technology Activation, is a single gene that's like a master key of sorts. It instructs various cells in the body to produce a series of proteins an enzymes that interact with the skin, the nervous system, and the brain," Beckett elaborates. "Now, a part of our research into this is based on the gene therapy that is used in Keiko's world to give people who did not inherit the trait from their ancestors to gain the ability to use certain pieces of technology."

"How are you delivering it?" Bregman asks.

"Well, you see we couldn't exactly reproduce the methods used in Keiko's world- their scientists refused exactly to let us see how the process worked in a repeatable environment due to security concerns- entirely understandable, mind you- but they did give us enough of a head start that we were able to figure out a way to deliver the same gene to the human body through use of a mouse retrovirus."

"A- a mouse Retrovirus??" Bregman inquires, sounding very off put. "Is that safe??"

"It's one that's been deactivated," Beckett nods. "So yes."

"Are there any side effects to it?"

"Dry mouth, possible headaches, a craving for cheese, the irresistible urge to run around on a small wheel," Beckett answers with a cheeky grin.

Bregman laughs. "Funny! So, how long does it take before it starts working?"

"Going from the time I injected Doctor Mckay earlier this morning to the time he activated the shield device?" Beckett muses on the timing. "A surprisingly short five minutes."

"Speaking of Doctor Mcaky, do you have any idea why he's been unable to take the shield off?"

"Oh, I've discussed it with many people so far, Miss Ayano, Doctor Weir, Major Sheppard..." Beckett muses, "We're pretty sure on some subconscious level Rodney just doesn't want to shut it off- afraid for his own life within a city sized spaceship we're only days into understanding."

"So... it will shut off then, right?"

"Either when Rodney feels like taking it off, or when a built in safety protocol shuts it down," Beckett answers with a nod.

"So, ah, one more question."

"Of course."

"...Why wait until now and not before we left Earth? I mean, if it's possible, we would  need as many people with the gene as we could get, correct?"

"Well, honestly..." Beckett winks conspiratorially at the camera. "The main hindrance was FDA approval. They wanted us to test it on mice and monkeys for a solid two years before moving onto human trials. Which, honestly, is pretty useless on an expedition like this, wouldn't you agree? What good would mice and monkeys able to use Ancient Technology do for us? We'd be more likely to set off a city wide self destruct than turn on a light switch!"

"Oh, definitely," Bregman agrees. "And it's completely safe so far?"

"As far as experimental gene therapy goes, yes," Beckett says. "That said, I've not encountered any serious side-effects from those who have volunteered thus far. The results are promising!"



"Alright," your name is Elizabeth Weir, and you've got the most important people on Atlantis gathered together. "As far as we know, there is no way to dial out back to Earth from Atlantis, however, just in case there IS something we're missing and this is the ONLY Stargate in Pegasus that's capable of dialing extra-galactic, we are making this our last line of defence against the Wraith. That's why we're establishing a tried and true method- a base self destruct."

"The Self Destruct system requires two separate codes," Grodin explains to the crowd. "Now each person here is going to be required to memorize their code."

"Don't bother giving me one," Mckay interrupts.

Tyzias Entykk elbows him in the side- triggering the shield flash.

"...Sorry," Mckay apologizes.

"Anyways," Grodin coughs. "Once both codes are properly entered, every Naquadah Generator in the city will overload within thirty seconds, causing... well. One very large bang."

"Polypa would approve," Jimmyy O'neill remarks.

"That she would," Daraya Jonjet nods.

"Are we sure it'll do enough damage?" Lieutenant Ford asks.

"You ever seen a twenty kiloton nuclear explosion fueled with naquadah before?" Tyzias  asks.

"...No?" Ford answers.

"What about a Naquadria detonation event that terraforms the entire surface of a planet into a molten ball of blue flames?" Tyzias continues.

"...Not that either," Ford answers.

"Good," Tyzias answers. "Keep it that way. It's terrifying."


 

Your name is Tyzias Entykk, and you yawn as night falls on LANTEA.

Who would have ever thought when you were a grub that you'd have gotten used to a Day-light based sleep schedule? Hell, who would have thought you'd HAVE a sleep schedule at all?

You're wandering through the presently open halls of the city of Atlantis, bemusing the day's events.

The ATA Gene Therapy has been working on the humans, and you're debating whether or not to be the guinea pig for Alternian use. If it works, neat. if it doesn't, well... No big loss, although...

There IS  one very easy work around for that- the Shaper crystal Kanaya wears on her forehead.

Eh.

Doesn't matter.

It's not like you're going to be flying a Jumper any time soon, anyways.

Though, you'll be flying in one.

John's put together a list of three initial teams under the "Atlantis Recon" designation- His team, your team, and an other one. Yours is going to be taken up by the positions of yourself, your Matesprit Daraya, Mallek, and Keiko.

You're somewhat glad John is keeping the "band" together, as it is, from Alternia. But you're apprehensions to a degree. Are you sure you want to get into the field work again? Maybe you could take up a hobby, like... model kits?

...You're exactly one galaxy too far removed for that to even be possible, and it kind of just makes you sad.

You pass by the Athosian hallways, and that's where you find the whole village's worth of Athosian kids sitting around in one of the larger rooms as John, Argo, and Jade tell a story to them.

"And that's when the evil Darth Maul unhooked his laser sword and ignited not one, but TWO plasma beams from either end of his weapon!" John exclaims, and all the kids start gasping in surprise and/or terror.

"That's amazing!" One of the kids exclaims.

"It's terrifying is what it is!" Another kid counters.

"So the two Jedi Knights retrieved their swords and activated their weapons, preparing for a Duel... Of the Fates!!" Jade continues from there.

And with that cue, Argo presses the play button on her MP3 player, and it starts playing a chorus track from some movie through a set of nearby speakers.

You smirk, and turn to leave, only to see Teyla motioning for you to follow her out a ways.

"Miss Entykk," she greets once the sound of music and excited story telling is a bit more muted by distance.

"Just Tyzias," you say, "everyone calls me that except Doctor Weir."

"Right," Teyla nods. "How are your people finding the city?"

"Fine, save for the ever present fact that we're over water," you say. "We didn't bring that many Sea Dwellers with us on this trip, so everyone who's used to being on solid land is a bit uneasy about it."

"I see," Teyla then inquires, "I heard mention that your world had terrifying monsters living within its sea, and on its land as well."

"Alternia definitely had a death world vibe to it, yeah," you laugh, hollowly. "Even the plants wanted to kill you. The rain was acidic, and the sun could boil your eyes red-dead-blind within a few seconds. But... it was home for a lot of us, nasty as it could've been." You chuckle, genuinely this time. "I suppose it makes sense we chose worlds with more tame wildlife and less harsh suns for our newer settlements... and they're all suspiciously far inland, although I'd say most of that has to do with centering ourselves around a Stargate."

"I see," Teyla hums that phrase again. "So much like life here in Pegasus, the threat of death hung overhead?"

"Yeah. Constant companion that Death guy," you say. "Remind me to tell you about Karfin Ourpost some time. That was a close call I don't ever want to repeat."

"I will have to, at some point." Teyla glances back at the room with the kids as they all yell out various exclamations of surprise. "...There is much I am still unsure of with regards to your Galaxies. That you come from two separate ones is astonishing enough- but that you would venture forth to a third is..." she trails off.

"Technically, this is our fourth galaxy visited," you say. "Well, for some of us, at least. It ended up being a relatively small expedition team that time, and we haven't gone back since."

"The Ancestors must have visited many Galaxies, then," Teyla muses.

"Yeah, something like that," you say with a shake of your head. "We never saw any of the Ancients in person in our Galaxy. Just a couple of ships that our old Empire had captured and begun using to install Stargates everywhere."

"That sounds..." Teyla pauses. "Truthfully, it makes me very confused."

"Yeah, don't I know it," you shake your head. "Anyways, I gotta get going. Have a good night, Teyla."

"To you as well," She bows, and lets you walk along the way you were going.

You soon find your way to the room you and Daraya and Barzum had claimed as your own. You swoosh your hand over the door console, and the door glides open as if it were brand spanking new.

Daraya's lounging on one of the two beds in the room- truthfully, why you hurried to claim this particular room- and Barzum is sitting on the other in a medatative pose, stairing out the window at the starry sky above.

"The stars are so different here, Tyzias," Barzum remarks when you slide the door closed behind you.

"Eh?" You ask, "How's that?"

"They're scared," Barzum says. "I can feel it. It's not like back on Haven. Or even Alternia in the past... They're so scared."

"Yeah, I think I can figure out why," You say, glancing at Daraya, curiousity brimming in your eyes as to how long Barzum's been going on about this. She glances back with a "Don't ask me, she's your Moirail" look. "It's the Wraith, right?"

"I'd guess so," Barzum nods, not tearing her eyes off the stars. "There's the same sort of fear here, too. From the Athosians." She finally turns to look at you. "Though... tonight there's more of a fear of double bladed swords than of the Wraith."

....Huh.

"Hey, Barzum," you ask, moving to sit down next to her. "It's been about a week since we got here. How are you holding up with everyone being so close by?"

"It's loud," She answers. "Louder than Haven, but... none of them are trying to get inside my head."

You put your hand on her far shoulder and drag her in for a hug. "You ever feel overwhelmed, just let me know. Alright? We'll go find a nice quiet planet to explore for a while."

"Thanks, Tyzias," she rests her head on your shoulder.

You take in a deep breath, squeeze a little bit tighter, then let go so you can get ready for bed.

First step first, a shower.

As you gather up your shampoos and towels from your TRAVEL CAPTCHALOGUE DECK, separate from your usual day-to-day one, Daraya puts her book down and gets up to do the same.

Shared shower? Yeah, looks that way.

You both head into the Bathroom adjacent from the room, and while you start making sure your stuff is all situated on an unfortunately small shelf in the shower, Daraya starts wiping off her eyeliner makeup.

"So... we're what team designation?" Daraya asks.

"AR-2," you answer.

"ALT-2 to AR-2," Daraya 'heh's, "John sure has a sense of humor, doesn't he?"

"It's a lot of twos," you agree, before stripping down, stepping in, and turning on the shower.

Another thing to chalk up to your new circumstances- the persistent amount of salt water in the air. Your hair just isn't used to it. You end up scrubbing for something like five minutes before realizing you've essentially brought the wrong kind of shampoo for this environment.

By the time Daraya joins you, you think you've gotten most of the damage to your hair under control, and so while she checks over your work, you check over her hair. How she's managed to keep it in better condition is a mystery. One you'll have to ask about, regarding what shampoo she uses or not.

When you both step out of the shower a while later, you're both well and truly ready to go to bed and sleep 'til morning.

Unfortunately, life has other plans.

There's a furious knocking at your door, and so you hastily throw a towel around you, and answer it.

"Jinto's gone missing," Jade informs you.

"...Which one's Jinto again?" You ask, frowning.

"Halling's kid," Jade says.

"I'll be out in a minute," you say. "Just gotta get dressed first."



Your name is Mallek Adalov, and your work on examining the Stargate blueprints stored within the Atlantis Database is interupted by a search for an Athosian kid who went missing.

It was about time for a break, at any rate.

You close your eyes and lean back in your chair as you let the world move around you.

"Can we find him with the sensors?" Weir asks.

Sure, if you could power the danged City with the ZPMs you brought with you.

"We don't have nearly enough available power to activate the whole city at one time," Mckay shuts it down.

"Even if we could, the sensors don't distinguish-" Grodin stops talking suddenly as you hear the telltale sound of power fuzzing around. "...Individuals..."

You crack an eye open, watching with everyone else as the lights flicker for a few moments.

"And beyond that," Mckay says. "for all we know, he could be in a shielded area, or the, ah..." The lights flicker again. "Sensors could be malfunctioning. Though..." He brings up a laptop- you hear telltale little fwishes of his forcefield as he types. "We are getting a pretty strange energy reading in an unexpored area of the city."

"Activate the communication system," Weir orders.

You close your eyes again and listen as Weir starts talking to Jinto, asking the whole "If you can hear me please respond" thing.

She's just getting warmed up when- PCHUUUUuuuuuuu.... The subtle glare of lights against your eyelids dims sharply.

"We've lost power," Grodin observes.

"Still got battery powered stuff, though," Mckay says.

"I don't know why that happened," Grodin says.

"Maybe the kid's stuck somewhere and he's trying to turn on the radio?" You put forth the option. "Could be he's just hitting things he doesn't know are messing with us."

Right on cue, the BZZZHMMMM of the Stargate shield kicks on.

"That wasn't me!" Grodin quickly shuffles the blame off of himself.

"Of course it wasn't," you say.

The shield shuts down, and then the Gate starts to dial out all on its own.

"Shut it-" Weir starts to order, but you're already on it.

One swift spin in your chair and you palm your hand down on the "Cancel Wormhole" button. Yeah, the Ancients put one of those on there and noth much else.

"...Down. Thank you Mister Adalov," Weir says.

"Yeah, yeah," you say.

"You know," Mckay begins, "Either this stuff is so old it's breaking down after only a few days of use, or there are ghosts."

"Not you too," Grodin laments. "I've heard enough of that from the Athosians! This city was abandoned, not murdered to death!"

"Control Room, this is Sheppard," John's voice crackles over the radio. "The lights just went out."

Weir replies, "Sorry, Major, we're experiencing some technical malfunctions. Adalov seems to think Jinto might be trying to signal us, some how."

"That," Mckay interjects, "or it could have anything to do with the interfaces between our naquadah generators and the city. Well, that, or the way we isolated certain systems could be causing erroneous operations in the Ancient programming..." He pauses. "Or, hell, it could be ghosts."

"I'll run a diagnostic on the power flow," Grodin heads off to deal with that.

"I didn't think you believed in Ghosts, Rodney," Weir observes.

"I didn't, then we learned about the Wraith who can suck the life out of you with their hands," Mckay holds his hand up for emphasis. "So what the hell, universe? Why not ghosts!"

"Ghosts do exist, you know," you voice.

"...They do?" Weir asks, looking at you while Rodney laments "You just had to say it!"

"Of course they do," you say. "Rust Bloods have two psychic abilities- telekensis and communion with the dead. Plus, there's that whole 'Reaper' Crystal from Joey's old bracelet that literally lets you rip someone's soul out of their body."

"Fair point," Weir pauses, spotting Teyla entering the room. "Just a moment, Teyla." She turns to Mckay, "Do what you can, Rodney," and then she heads out with Teyla to the stairs leading down to the Gate Room.

Nothing better to do, you follow.

So much for your nap.

"Doctor Weir, this is Marta," Teyla introduces a teenaged girl to Weir.

"Please to meet you," Weir says.

Marta nods, very nervous, glancing at you.

"Sup," you greet. "I'm Mallek."

"It's alright," Teyla tells the girl. "Tell them what you saw."

"A shadow," Marta says.

Weir goes to say something, but you interject- "What kind of shadow?"

"What?" The girl asks.

"I mean, was it kind of thin and whispy like the Wraith Illusions?" You ask, "Or was it more like... sort of thick and omnipressing? Kind of... like a cloud, maybe?"

"Cloud like," Marta says. "But... sort of... thick? Like Congealed Soup?"

"Like Jelly or Oil?" You ask.

She nods.

Shit. Fuck. Damn it.

"Did you hear any sounds like a whale crying out?" You ask.

"What's a whale?" Marta asks. "I don't recognize the word."

"Um, sort of like a big giant fish that goes, um..." You try to emulate the sound best as you can. "EEEEE-OOOO?"

"Oh," Marta nods. "I know the animal you speak of. No. I did not hear it."

"Good," you say, then to Teyla, "If your people see any shadows like that, or hear any whale-calls like that, let us know immediately."

"You sound like you recognize this creature?" Teyla asks.

"Or something like it," you run your hand through the back side of your hair. "Some of us found an old abandoned research facility on a snow planet a few years back. There were two creatures being stored there- sort of energy based creatures that fed off of a person's psychic and other bodily energies." You explain, "Now, this crazy chick, Shadre, took one of them as a pet, and left the other one to kill everyone left on the planet. It killed just about everyone there, except for a few survivors. One of them had gotten like, brushed by it and was hovering near death."

"And you think it may be the same kind of creature?" Weir asks, sounding incredulous.

"Maybe. I don't know for sure. The creatures take on different appearances, but they've got two major distinguishing traits," you say, "one  is that they have a sort of oil-infused jelly-like appearance. Shadre's absorbed a lot blood into it, though so its possible whatever this other thing is, its nature changed by being stuck under the ocean for a couple thousand years. The other defining trait  is that they have a whale cry- if we start hearing that indoors we've got a huge problem."

"How did you defeat these creatures?" Teyla asks.

"Stargate Kawoosh," you answer. "Dialed it up, and shoved them into the vortex as it formed."

"I'll put the word out, then," Weir goes for her radio. "Major Sheppard, this is Weir. One of the Athosians is claiming to have seen what she's calling a shadow. Adalov's recognition of the description pins it as a possible energy based creature his people have encountered before."

"What kind of energy based creature?" Sheppard asks.

You take the radio from Weir, and explain it for yourself. "John, it's Mallek. You remember the mission reports on Shadre's pet monster?"

"Shit," Sheppard swears. "You think it's one of those?"

"Maybe," you say. "We've only got one sighting so far, but we might see more before the night's out. Just, keep your ears open for any whale cries."


"Got it," Sheppard replies. A moment later, there's a click of changing channels, and, "All teams, this is Sheppard. Fall back to the Gate room and wait for further instructions. We may have a starved, hostile energy monster loose in the city."



Your name is Tyzias Entykk, and you frown at Mallek as he tries to reconfigure some of the city's sensors. He looks tired.

"We've secured access to all the control towers and living quarters," John reports as he joins you all in the Control room. "What've we got?"

"Two more Athosians have reported seeing the shadow," Weir tells him. "Their descriptions have it as moving around rather unlike a Wraith illusion, and closer to what Mallek described."

"Thick and Oily and moving around in the air?" John asks.

"Yeah," Weir nods.

"Any whale cries?" he asks.

"None yet," Weir shakes her head.

"Whatever this thing is, if it's a cousin to the Psy-jellies," you say, "it might not be an exact one to one match for vocalizations."

"What, you think it's like some sort of weird, intergalactic cousin?" John asks.

"In as much as any creature like this could be," you say. "From what we know the ones in Alternia were home-grown. Could be the Ancients were doing something similar to attack the Wraith... or it could just be some Ascended being puttering about."

Teyla and Halling arrive, then.

Halling wants to speak to Jinto through the city, and you turn to check on Mallek. "Yo. Dude. You've got that look in your eyes," you whisper to him. "You know. The one that Daraya had to drag me out of, basically?"

"I'll sleep when we've got a way to track it," Mallek says.

"I know the energy signatures like you do, Adalov," you say. "Go get some rest. I can finish up here."

And then Halling starts praying aloud in Ancient, before raising his arms and saying, "If you are angry that we have unrightfully inhabited your great city, we humbly apologize. We mean no harm. We will leave if it is your wish, but I will not go without my son!"

Then, the lights snap off again in response, and...

THWUMP.

You and Mallek turn to look at Doctor Mckay lands face first on the floor.

"...Also," Mallek says, "I'm nowhere near as ready to collapse as he was just now."

You ignore that to go check on the guy who literally just collapsed.


 

EARTH DATE: MARCH 14TH, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 09/21/0004.

Your name is Elizabeth Weir, and...

Last night, Sheppard and Grodin saw the shadow monster on their way back from escorting Mckay to the Infirmary. (Mckay himself had "Passed out from Manly Hunger" or rather... simply fainted.)

Sheppard got a photo of it as it went for a Naquadah Generator and started siphoning energy off of it.

And then it grew.

Thankfully, Sheppard's following  order to remotely shut the generator down made the creature go away.

Still.

The morning sun's light never felt more like a spotlight being shined down from above, focused by a magnifying glass.

"So, it's an energy vampire similar to the Psy-Jellies," Entykk says after absorbing all the information. "But its first inclination is Naquadah Generators rather than the psychic energies of people."

"For now," Mckay interjects with a pointed wave of a sealed power bar in hand- just waiting for the shield to drop so he can eat it. "It's happy with the Naquadah generators, but it's probably been stuck here for thousands of years. It's starving- and I cam empathise- which is exactly why if we cut off the Naquadah generators for long enough, it's going to start going after people. Because, psychic or not, a living organisim puts out a lot of bio-electric, heat based energy. And it's nowhere near as much as a Naquadah Generator, but it'll have no other choice."

"And if we let it feed off the generators, it'll just keep growing," Entykk agrees. "And then it'll grow so big it won't be able to be fed on just Naquadah, or even a ZPM,  anymore."

"And by now it's too big to just Kawoosh away," Adalov agrees, looking over the photo. "What's bugging me is that it's got no coherent form. Both Psy-Jellies we ran into before held onto a barbell shape when out in the open."

"It's possible that was the result of the Bracelets within them," Entykk suggests.

"Or maybe they're completely different species?" Mckay offers.

"Whatever it is," you look to Adalov, "how goes the tracking program?"

"We've almost got the sensors reclaibrated," Entykk says for him. "Now that we know what we're looking for, it shouldn't-"

"Hello???" Jinto's voice suddenly echoes through the room. "Can you hear me? Can anyone hear me?"

Over the radio, you hear Sheppard ask, "Jinto?"

"Major Sheppard!"

"Are you okay?" You ask into the radio.

"I'm scared," Jinto answers and of course he would be.

"Jinto," Entykk radios, "this is Tyzias. Can you start from the beginning and tell us how you got to where you are?"



Your name is Jade Jackson, and you feel a bit miffed that it was Jinto who had found a Transporting Elevator chamber and not you. Teleporting feels like it should be under YOUR purview.

It's like a ring platform of sorts- Mass Transit for the City. They go up, they go down. They go north west. They go south east. They go all over... And "Someone" clearly thought it would make a nice storage closet without reporting or calling in the OBVIOUSLY glowing wall pannel on the back that opened up every time you opened the doors to the chamber.

Jinto had gone playing hide and seek with Wex late at night, and searched in there, then activated the pannel.

He'd gotten stuck in an Ancient lab and started messing around with buttons and everything else in an attempt to get himself noticed, or turn on the radio, at any rate. Mallek was right about the random power fluctuations and Gate activities.

Everyone else is worrying over the fact that one such device had, when shut off, let loose a burst of shadow that quickly vanished.

You?

You're searching through the boxes of stuff to find out who catalogued it and hid it in that specific "Closet."

Chances are, they're either the dumbest person alive for not reporting the control console on the back wall, or they're TRUST. You're leaning towards the latter, given the fact that none of this stuff was stored where the reports say it was.

You're just glad Rose and Kanaya came back yesterday to help you with this. This is really more their kind of thing than yours.

"Bluuuuhhh-" you slump forwards against the conference room table and lean your head on its side. "This suuuuuucks." The lights flicker somewhat as you say that. The creature, no doubt, being lead in circles around to the various Naquadah generatiors.

"You did realize that there was a good chance we'd be stuck doing this sort of thing most of the time, right?" Rose has that 'I'm not really asking' tone of voice to her question.

"Paperwork? Yes," you say looking at her sideways and upwards from your weird positioning. "Doesn't mean I can't complain about it sucking, though."

"Well, that's true," Rose nods. "Changing subjects, hows your father doing?"

"Daniel?" You huff, pushing yourself back up to sitting. "Reading some fascinating Ancient text, no doubt. I've barely seen him all week. It's like he's double timing it here and at the SGC or something."

"With time travel I suppose anything is possible," Rose remarks. Then, she frowns. "Jade, read this for a moment?"

She hands you a thing, and you read it and...

"What? But that doesn't make any sense," you frown. Apparently, the creature isn't the only one going in circles.

"I feel as if whichever Trust agent is behind this has crafted a major circle for us to follow it around in," Rose laments. "It just loops right back to the beginning."

"Bastard," you swear.

"Agreed," Rose nods.

....And then you hear a pair of screams from down the hallway.

"...I'll go check it out," Rose says, and then vanishes into thin air- or rather, out of phase with reality.

You quickly hit the button for the room door to open it, and then close it again once you're sure Rose is through.



Your name is Rose Lalonde, and you spot the creature rapidly retreating down the corridor past you.

Out of phase with the rest of reality as you are, it doesn't even notice you,

That means you can observe it in ways you're sure you were never meant to see.

Instead of being made out of pure darkness, you see a blinding blob of a cloud of little tiny orb particles, held together by a vast array of electromagnetic impulses.

At the center of it all is a slightly larger orb than the others.

It almost looks like a living organism's nervous system.

And then it's gone, and you hurry back down the hallway in the other direction.

That's where you find Ford and Stackhouse on the ground- exposed skin smoking like they'd just been shocked with lightning.

You phase back to reality and radio, "Men Down! Ford and Stackhouse! We need a medical team stat!"



Your name is Rodney Mckay, and you laugh nervously as you figure it out, and brief Doctor Weir and Major Sheppard on the DEVICE that the shadow had emerged from.

"The Ancients were researching Ascension," you tell them. "At some point during their evolution, the Ancients reached an advanced stage of being where they were able to rid themselves of their physical bodies and rise to a higher plain of existence, one in which they live as pure energy. Atleast, that's what we thought. This is all indicating that they were researching how to get there."

"So, big creepy ghost out there is either... what? Naturally occurring energy vampire or someone they forced to Ascend?" Sheppard asks.

"I haven't read that far into it yet, but it's looking like a naturally occurring creature," you answer. "Also, the notes say its sentient. So... not exactly discounting the possibility it's a half-ascended Ancient or something."

"Well... I suppose that means it would get mad if we ran it around in circles," Weir grimaces.

"I know I'd be pissed," Sheppard says.

"And hungry," you say, feeling a twang of sympathy for it. "Point is. I think the device Jinto released it from is an attract-and-contain device. I might be able to get it working again, but I need some time."

"We'll let you be, then," Weir nods, and lets you be.

Why. Why you? Why did it have to be you who got stuck in a near similar situation to this creature???

What cruel thing did you do, Universe, to make you deserve this kind of punishment?



By the end of the day, Mckay figured out how to trap the creature... and right as he did so, the shield came off. Since the device wasn't working for anyone else, "Bonded to him" according to Keiko and Doctor Jackson, you, One ROSE LALONDE, have volunteered for this mission, given your ability to phase out of reality. The creature seemed to ignore you before, so it should continue to do so...

You turn on the trap, they turn off all power in the city, the creature comes to you and it shoves itself into the pocket dimension within the device.

As simple of a plan as any.

It should work!

Except the thing is smarter than anyone expected it to be. Cloaked in a parallel dimension as you are, waiting for it to go into the device...

Well, you get to watch as the cloud of 'neurons' inside of it flare red in anger after a few moments of observation,  and then back away rapidly from the device.

It recognized the device and fled.

The thought that this is going to make this so much more difficult crosses your mind as you shut down the device, return to the control room via your cat form's wormhole powers, and report in.

Weir is not happy with the news. Neither are anyone else for that matter.

The argument that ensues makes you want to tape your cat-ears closed, or at least shift back to your human form.
 
Except that form has no bio-luminescent fur to light up the room with. And you quite like lighting up the room, It lets you see all sorts of things! Namely, walls, floors, ceilings... people's expressions.

Stuff that a tiny little orange candle can't really hold a flame to.

Why, your light positively snuffs it out in comparison!!

Wait.

"What if we snuff it out?" You ask.

The room goes silent.

Eyes turn to you, and you elaborate.

"Like, why not dial a space gate, shove a MALP through with a Naquadah generator, and let the creature chase it into the void?"

"That seems a tad harsh," Weir says.

"Maybe," John says, "but it's what we tried to do to Shadre's. Almost worked too, if the Carapacians hadn't picked her up again."

"Perhaps we should just send it to an uninhabited planet?" Teyla suggests. "The creature may simply wish not to be here any more than we wish it to be here."

"There's no telling what will happen if it interacts with a Stargate," Mckay says. "It could feed off of the power from it or whatever generator we use indeffinitely until it grows so large it covers the entire city."

"Regardless of where we send it, pushing it through the Stargate sounds like the most sane option we have," Tyzias says.

"Agreed," Weir nods. "Let's get this plan into motion. Get a MALP and a Naquadah Generator prepped and ready to go. And someone get me sensors back online, I want to know where the hell this thing is."

"I'm just going to say for the record that I think this is a very bad idea," Mckay voices his opinion.

"Noted," Weir says, "but unless you've got a better idea?"

Mckay says nothing, clearly unhappy about the fact he has no idea what to say as an alternative.

So it's set up. A MALP is brought in, loaded with an active Naquadah Generator sealed inside a case, and the Gate is dialed out to M4X-337- a barren wasteland that Teyla suggested.

KAWOOSH.

The cloud enters the Gate room, and the MALP starts trudging towards the gate.... but then the cloud overcomes the Gate and the MALP and nobody can see a thing.

...So you switch forms and go ghost and lookie lookie.

You pop back to reality, and report, "MALP is stuck infront of the gate."

"It must have drained the battery," Tyzias says.

"And it's growing," Mckay sounds angry. "Look! It's clearly feeding off the Generator or the Stargate, just like I said it would!"

"Shut down the gate," Weir orders.

"I can't," Grodin reports. "The console is dead!"

The cloud continues to grow. You phase out of existence again to get a better look. Oh, yeah, that little central orb is hovering over the Naquadah generator case and all that energy is just being fed out into the rest of the cloud and- wait, is that Mckay running down the stairs into the cloud??

"MCKAY!" John yells, too late.

Mckay runs into the cloud- stops for a moment- then trudges his way forwards towards the MALP.

He grabs the case off of it, rears back, and flings the case through the Gate.

The orb of energy that's the center of the creature less follows it and more unintentionally is dragged through the wormhole through the motion- apparently having affixed itself to the generator to feed more efficiently.

Regardless, the result is the same- the cloud's mass funnels through the gate's eventhorizon and then vanishes.

You look back to Mckay and see that he's fainted.

You pop back into reality as everyone else rushes down to check on him, and instead of following, you shut down the Gate just incase the creature can travel both ways through a wormhole.

And hey, Mckay is fine, getting back up into a sitting position even as the medical team rushes in at Weir's command.

On a whim, you check the one watch you keep synched to Earth time and--

EARTH DATE: MARCH 15TH, 2001.

Oh.

Whoops.

You think the Gate was active during the time the SGC was supposed to try to re-establish contact.

...It's probably fine. They'll just send the Prometheus to come find you now, is all.

Just another week of isolation.

You'll all be fine. It's not like the Prometheus will get Grand Theft Spaceship'd or anything.

Chapter Text

Your name is Jake Harley, and you feel emotionally drained knowing that one of your oldest friends is gone. After all the work has been done and all the sorting through Catherine's "inheritance" for the rest of you has been handled...

You find yourself in a hotel room with Chixie at your side, just staring blankly upwards at the ceiling. Just, musing.

Death comes to everyone multiple times- always through someone else, rarely yourself that you survive the encounter... Sometimes its a struggle to continue going on. Other times, it comes on so suddenly from an outside source and then it's gone.

You've had so many brushes with death that it's staggering. A whole century's worth of adventures, just about. All sorts of life and death skirmishes all leading to a final confrontation in a basement.

It should have ended there for you, but didn't. You got a second chance. A way to continue living. Some times you came close- like when Anna died- to losing yourself entirely to the weights and pressures. But you found a way somehow. Your will to survive another day has always tilted the tide in your favor.

You are an exception to the rule. Not the only one, mind, but an exception never the less.

Catherine Langford wasn't.

It was her time, yes, but you feel like it shouldn't have been.

And isn't that always the crux of the matter?

You can't keep wallowing in your misery now, though. To do such would be to waste this second chance you've been given. You're sure there will be tough days to go with the easy ones, but... As much as some distant part of you wants to retreat into the ether and never be heard from again, you can't let that happen. You can't give up.

Not now, not ever.

You have a family and people who care about you. Chixie's warm body next to you reminds you of that. Time may march on, and you may lose everyone you know now to the marches of time... but there will always be more friends to make and family to have in the meantime. And one day, you will meet them all again, Catherine included.

You are not alone. You won't ever be.

Endings are just a form of beginnings, and for every FINAL PAGE in a book, you'll have HOPE to turn another one in the next book! The end of one Adventure just means the start of another.

And You will be there for every single one of them, or else your name isn't JAKE HARLEY!!

Chapter Text

"Doctor Mckay, thanks for sitting down with me."

"Beckett has me on bed rest. It's not like I'm going anywhere."

"Right, well... I just thought I'd ask. What was going through your mind when you went into the cloud monster?"

"Mostly 'Oh god oh god I'm going to die and they'll never find my body'?"

"I see..."

"Also, 'If Mallek left that ZMP plugged in and it's feeding off of that, we are SO screwed!'"

"Right..."

"Oh, and 'If they survive this and I don't they'd better sure as hell make one damn impressive statue. Or at least name a planet after me. Something like that.'"

"...Okay."

"Also, I did think, just a bit selfishly, 'What if this thing never comes off again? I'm probably going to starve to death before it falls off again.' But, it did. Look, Ma. No shield!" SLAP! " .... Ow. Why did I slap myself so hard??"

"Are you alright, Doctor Mckay?"

"...I'm not entirely sure. I think Doctor Beckett put me on some preeeety weird pain killers. I think they're either Athosian or ones he made himself."

"...I see. I think I'll leave you to your rest and recovery then."

"Thanks!"

Chapter Text

EARTH DATE: MARCH 25TH, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 10/02/0004.

WWEEE~EEEE~EEEE~OOOOOOOO! cry the engines of a Puddle Jumper with a sputtering cough to them that was audible to everyone inside the Jumper, even all the way up at the front seat.

Your name is JOHN SHEPPARD, and you know, your ship is hurting. Those mean nasty Wraith shot at something and she's barely holding together. But you'll get her through to Atlantis in one piece- her and her precious cargo.

"Get this Damned thing off me!!" Keiko's voice yells from the back.

"Daraya!" you call back into the jumper, "How's the situation back there??"

"It still won't come off!!" Daraya shouts back. "Oh, sweetie, we're trying..."

"There has to be something we can do," Mallek adds.

"Emergency first aid kit," Mckay says, "Behind the pilot's seat!"

"Right!" Mallek runs into to the front of the Jumper, grabbing the med kit from behind you and returning to the back.

"I think we're in range of the Gate," Mckay says from behind you.

"What am I looking for?" Mallek asks.

"Teyla, dial Atlantis," you order.

"Something for the pain!" Daraya answers.

"Right," and Teyla starts pounding in the keys for the City.

"Ford, you do the talking," you say, "I've got a ship to keep steady!"

"Right," Ford takes to his radio as you do the mental equivalent of defibrillating the Jumper's engines to keep the thing going.

"I don't think Earth-brand Headache reliever's going to do it!" Tyzias remarks.  "How much longer??" She yells to the front.

"Done," Teyla reports once the light of an open Stargate flares infront of you. "...Can we not go any faster?"

"Almost there!" Ford reports, then starts to Radio, "Atlantis Base, this is Ford. Jumper One is inbound with a medical emergency. Please respond."

"Sure, if you want to get us home in five billion smoking pieces!" You grit your teeth as the Jumper's rear engine pods struggle weirdly for a moment. Shit. That's not good.

"This is Weir. What's the nature of the medical emergency?"

"Some sort of funky alien bug attached itself to Miss Ayano's neck. She's completely immobile."

"What's it doing to her?"

"We don't know, but we can't get it off and everything we've tried has failed."

"You do understand the risk of bringing something like that back to Atlantis, don't you?"

"Yes, ma'am, but we really don't have a choice in the matter!" Ford says. "The Jumper's barely holding together as it is."

"Understood, Lieutenant, Good Luck," Weir says, and then the radio goes silent as the Gate looms ahead. You'll pass through any second now. Home sweet home awaits.

You retract the side pods.

An error message flashes on your dash moments before you realize what it means.

"Oh SH-"

SCHLORP!



O<--STARGATE: ATLANTIS-->O


 

Your name is Tyzias Entykk, and you groan as you pick yourself up off the floor after the Jumper suddenly ground to a halt.

"Oh no," you swear, staring at the rather prominent sight of the event horizon framed through the doorway in the middle of the Jumper.

"Ngh... what happened?" Mallek asks, getting to his feet.

"The drive pods," you realize. "The, like, wing things that stick out when we're flying. They must have failed to retract. That's the only thing it could be."

"This is a big problem..." Mallek trails off, before pointing at the eventhorizon's floor. "There!"

You and he both rush down and grab at a pair of familiarly booted feet, before dragging Daraya out of the Eventhorizon.

She gasps as soon as she's completely out and jumps to her feet. "Holy Shit! What the fuck!?"

"That-" you point at the eventhorizon. "Would be the latest problem of the week."

"...That scraping sound before everything jolted- was that--?" Daraya looks at you for confirmation.

"We're stuck," you inform her. "The side pods must have failed to retract in time. Rectangular brick, meet round Stargate."

"John and the others-" Mallek begins.

"We'd dematerialize as soon as we crossed the eventhorizon," you cut off that train of thought. "There's no way to reach for them at all."

And then you hear the clicking hiss noises of that damned bug, and all three of you turn to look at your teammate, who has that fucking bug still wrapped around her neck.

"Ow..." Keiko groans awake. "Anyone get the number of that Jumper?"

"It's the same one we've been in," Daraya says, kneeling down to check on her vitals. "We're stuck, we think."

"Oh, lovely," Keiko grimaces.

"Jumper One, this is Weir, what's your status?" Your radios buzz.

Mallek takes to the radio, "This is Adalov. Good to hear your voice, Atlantis. AR-2 is still here, in the back of the Jumper. AR-1 is inside the event horizon."

"...Say Again?" Weir asks.

"Ma'am," you radio, "Jumper One is lodged in the Stargate. We're pretty sure the Jumper's engine pods failed to retract in time. The front half of the Jumper along with Major Sheppard, Teyla, Lieutenant Ford, and Doctor Mckay are all inside of the Stargate."

"If I'm understanding you correctly, you can't access the flight controls," Weir says.

"No, ma'am," you say. "And it's a really extremely intriguing conundrum that I'd love to discuss in detail with you all until the Stargate Shuts DOWN and the ship is cut in two!"

"Miss Entykk, I understand you're stressed, but I can't help if I'm not caught up to the current situation," Weir says. "Walk it back for me."

You let Mallek handle this, and focus on helping Daraya check on the Bug Situation.

"We couldn't I.D the Wraith base of operations from space, like Major Sheppard  did the last time he was here, So we went to the same landing coordinates as before to get a closer look," Mallek reports. "But it was gone."

This creature is unlike anything you've ever seen on Alternia or in that Galaxy at all. It's... it's horribly efficient at what it's doing.

"Gone?" Weir asks.

Glubbing hell, if Khepri had ever gotten her hands on this kind of insect...

"Yes, just a big huge crater where a mountain should have been," Mallek clarifies.

Damn it! You can't focus on this!

"I don't think she needs to know that, Mallek!" you say.

"It's intel she needs to know!" Mallek protests.

"And we have LESS than THIRTY EIGHT MINUTES!" you stand up, hammering the point in by jabbing at Mallek's shoulder.

"Wait- what happens in Thirty-Eight Minutes?" Weir asks.

You sigh- exasperated. How the HELL does she not understand this? How does NONE OF THEM UNDERSTAND THIS!? "Thirty Eight Minutes is the maximum amount of time a Stargate can remain open outside of a Black Hole affecting it. It's one of the most immortal and unchangable laws of Gate Travel and OH! WOW!" You glare at the wormhole, hoping it carries through to the other side. "Look at the time! It's probably more like thirty five minutes! Can we move ON?!"

Mallek flinches back against a wall from how loud you got there, and Daraya makes a shooshing sound at you, before pointing to a clearly disturbed Keiko, grimacing in pain.

"Okay," Weir says. "I get it. What do you need?"

You run your hand through your hair. "We need help. I'd ask for Doctor Mckay but he's stuck inside the Gate right now."

"All right," Weir says. "I'll get as many people in a room as I can."

"That's good," you say, then snap your fingers. "And the Czech guy who was talking with Mckay this morning in the cafeteria."

"Doctor Zelenka?" Weir asks.

"Yes, him. I'm pretty sure he was talking about mapping out a Jumper's control circuits. Get him in a Jumper and on that ASAP."

"Anything else?" Weir asks.

"No, we'll call you," you say, and then tab off the radio.

You look to Mallek, and say, "I'm going to scream into the Gate now. Please hold onto the back of my jacket so I don't get sucked in?"




Your name is Keiko Ayano, and you can't feel your legs.

That's not a good sign, really, especially not after everything you'd just gone through.

Tyzias finishes her screaming into the Gate, and Mallek pulls her back out.

"So..." You try dry humor. "Did that help any?"

"Not sure yet." Tyzias answers, frowning. Then-  "Oh!" she snaps her fingers. "Keiko, the Jumpers here are similar to the ones back home, right? Is there a way to manually retract the drive pods?"

"Cockpit, on the left," you unhelpfully answer, staring at the eventhorizon. "...I don't know if there's a manual control for it back here or not."

"Right," Tyzias frowns. "Okay, then if you'll excuse me I'll be a foot over that way trying to run a system diagnostic. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves."

"Sooo..." Mallek sits down next to you. "How's this mission ranking up so far?"

"Eh..." you grunt. "Pain wise About as bad as the time we had a bunch of giant bio-mech spiders break out of a containment lab on the 25th floor thanks to Aincrad crashing like it did."

"Do I even want to know why you ranked that as 'pain wise'?" Daraya asks, squinting at you.

"Their bites were mutagenic," you answer. "I've got a scar on my shoulder from one grabbing me."

"There was a cure, though, right?" Mallek asks.

"Obviously," you grunt an affirmation. "Turns out they were a pet project of an Ancient who was using creatures from other worlds for research trying to repopulate the planet. The bugs got hidden away in Aincrad, and the cure hidden away in another universe through the mirror. The bastard.  I was sort of pre-occupied at that point what with the horrible pain of a mutagenic substance transforming my body and what not."

"I feel like I need to ask, but did they have any relation to this little clinger on your neck?" Daraya asks.

"...Probably not," you say, grimacing as the bug tightens its limbs  just a little bit tighter around your neck. "Just because they were called 'Life Stealers' didn't mean they actually stole your life. Not like this..."

"Let me guess," Mallek jokes, "'Life Stealers' because they stole your old appearance and turned you into monsters, right?"

"Yeah," you try to laugh, and fail. "Also. They liked hanging prey up in cocoons from high places and letting it drop to the ground. We lost a lot of cows to that."

"Well, that's one way to make ground beef," Mallek jokes.

"...Vindictive," Daraya says, "also. Ew, Mallek. So not the time."

"What? I'm just saying..."



Your name is JOLINAR of the future, and you're doing your best to observe the scientists while Sam-- rather, Morgan Carter-- works on helping solve the situation.

Kavanagh, Grodin, and Simpson, along with a few other scientists you've yet to properly be introduced to, are all working on the problem.

Kavanagh is rather confrontational about everything.

Grodin has to explain basic gate mechanics to those who really should know more by now- the simple things like the Gate transmitting in whole units and not in parts.

As of 29 minutes, the only solution they've come up with is to buy more time by closing the bulkhead doors to prevent the Jumper from instantly depressurizing the moment the wormhole cuts.

Sure, "it would leak atmosphere like a sieve" but it's the only option they've come up with so far. Mount a rescue mission AFTER the gate's shut down? Seems... impractical, to you.

At least Doctor Zelenka is actually working on a Jumper trying to figure the problem out that way.



Your name is Tyzias Entykk, and you get up and slam shut the mid-section doors because- OH. YEAH. That's probably a good idea.

"What?" Mallek blinks. "Why'd you do that for?"

"Air pressure," you say. "If it shuts down, at least we won't immediately be exposed to the harsh, airless void of the deep, deep black of space."

"...Ah," Mallek nods. "Fair enough."

Of course, your radio buzzes then. "Jumper One, this is Atlantis," Grodin speaks.

"We're still here," you radio back.

"We recommend closing the-"

"Bulkhead Door?" You ask. "Already did that. Anything else?"

"...We're still working on it. We'll get back to you. Atlantis out."

You roll your eyes, "Well thanks for the call!" You sigh, and look over your team. "So. Anyone else feeling extremely claustrophobic all of a sudden? Because I'm not handling this well, in case you haven't noticed."

"Will it hold air?" Keiko asks.

"Like a bug net catching a bucket full of water," you reply. "The air'll get reeeeeal thin at that point, but atleast we'll have, probably, a few minutes before we suffocate to death?"

"Tyzias," Keiko grunts.

"What???" You ask.

"Calm down," she orders.

"Well I-" You want to snap, but she's right. God damn it, she's right. UGH. Fucking. Just. You run your hands through your hair. "You're right. Damn it. I just... I feel like I'm the only one who understands how fucking screwed we are."

"Yeah, well..." Keiko scoffs. "I'd be one to talk."

"...I guess, fair enough," You say.

"Also," Keiko narrows her eyes. "John has to make it back in one piece for time loops. We'll get out of here."

"HE. Will get out of this," you say. "There's not telling about the rest of us."

"Let's not give up on them just yet, alright?" Keiko asks, narrowing her eyes at you. "Just... figure this out and get us the hell out of here."

"Alright," you nod. "Right. Okay. There has to be a circuit that passes through this rear section to close the pods if there's a manual control in the front. So. Just have to find it." And so you pry open one of the ceiling boxes, and start looking at all of the crystals. Better get a head start and all that...

"You seem stronger," Mallek says.

"No, it just the pain isn't so bad now," Keiko says.

"That's good, right?" Mallek asks, and you can hear Darara shaking her head while Keiko grunts.

"Not really," Keiko says. "I can't feel my legs. Arms down to my hands are numb... I can barely move it and it's creeping up further."

You pause to look at her, and deduce, "So what you're trying to say is that if we don't get that thing off of you...?"

"I've got even less time than you do," Keiko says, grimly.

And you get back to work.


 

Your name is RADDEK ZELENKA, and your work in mapping all sorts of things inside Jumper 2 is stalled as you find exactly the wrong circuit when Doctor Weir enters the Jumper. The lights all turn off.

"Oh! Yes! Thank you for that, Jumper Two," you scold it. "I really needed the rear lights instead of the engine pods."

"[Doctor Zelenka?]" Weir asks in English.

Oh of all the- You do not have the time for this.

"[I am rapidly short on time, Doctor Weir,]" you say in the same.

"[I don't want to slow you down, but I need to know what progress you've made,]" Weir says.

Slow down? SLOW DOWN??

"You're slowing me down just by talking to me," you mutter, twinging the circuit you just failed, and turning the lights back on. "[Well, as you can see I just found the light switch. Very handy, that.]"

"[So no progress on the drive pods?]"

You don't waste the time turning around to glare at her. "[No! Not really. Oh, there's much redundancy in ancient technology making it dangerous for them to experiment in this way.] What a lovely day, I'm having today. Really. Just lovely."

You just love doing rush jobs. Really. Couldn't just take your time to do this. No. Had to blindly stumble around in a rush. Twenty something minutes now- you don't even bother being exact with your watch.

"[So they might accidentally open the rear hatch or shut life support off entirely?]" Weir asks- damn it won't she just go away??

"[Yes. Yes, yes. Which is why we are attempting to isolate the correct control pathway!]" You tell her, rather curtly.

"[Understood. What could I do to help?}"

"[Stop Talking, Please!]" You try another circuit, and- ZPARK! "OW! Why you over excited little fuse!"

Nearly defibrillated yourself there.




"Mallek," Keiko orders. "Cut this thing off me. It can't hurt as much as it did last time."

Your name is Daraya Jonjet and you're incredibly against that idea.

"Keiko, the last time we tried that, we almost lost you," you remind her.

"You're gonna lose me anyways if we don't get it off me," Keiko reminds you in turn.

"Keiko, we tried to get it off you back on the planet. Remember? Ford even shot it?" Mallek reminds her. "Everything we've tried just hurt you more. It just heals itself!"

"It's like a Wraith," you deduce. "Actually..." You radio. "Jumper One to Atlantis. Could you get an Athosian on the line? I need to ask them about bugs like this."

"Roger that, give me a moment," someone unfamiliar on the other end says. There's a pause, and then- "Oh! Doctor Beckett just arrived."

Lovely!

"This is Doctor Beckett, how's our patient?"

"Good timing, Doc," you radio. "This is Daraya. Keiko's conscious but the creature's still latched onto her neck."

"Can you make house calls?" Keiko asks in a slightly childish whine.

"Would if I could, Miss Ayano, but you'll have to settle for long distance." Beckett answers. "Now then, what's this cling-on look like?"

You feel he's making a pun, but you're not going to bother with trying to figure it out. "It looks like the ugliest damn tick you've ever seen, and that's saying something considering some of the ugliest damn ticks I've seen," you radio back.

"Handy, but I meant, description? Anatomy? Something else?"

"Right, uh. It's about two feet in length, including the tail," you say. "The tail is, ah, wrapped under Keiko's shoulder. It's got two spikey spines coming out of its mouth going to the..." You wrack your brain for the earth terminology. "Carotid Artery, I think."

"What else?" Beckett asks.

"It's forelegs are wrapped around Keiko's throat. No eyes that I can see. It's got a hard shell like a beetle, but there's soft, squishy stuff below it."

"How did it attach itself?"

"We were on our way back to the Jumper when we were ambushed by Wraith," Keiko responds. "I got split off from the others for a moment by a shadow projection and ran face first into a web. Then this thing grabbed me."

"I see, and physical symptoms?"

"Well, at first it was like I got bitten by a Visorak," Keiko says. "Everything hurt and I felt like my blood was on fire. After that, I've lost feeling in my arms and legs. I can't move."

Beckett mutters into the radio about it incapacitating with pain, then paralyzes.

"I also can't interface with the Jumper like this," Keiko says. "I'm pretty sure I could get us moving, but I can't... reach it, if that makes any sense? It's been like that since take off, so it's not because we're stuck in the gate."

"So some sort of cognitive issues as well, related to motor functions or skills?" Beckett sounds like he's tapping his finger on a console. "Alright. What have you tried?"

"Cutting, burning, shooting," You relay back."Ford used his nine-mil, point blank. There's not much worse we can do without killing Keiko along with it."Then, you add, "We think it might be related to the Wraith since it was on their planet. I asked for an Athosian to confirm if there are any related creatures."

"Why is that?" Beckett asks.

"The creature's healed itself after each attempt to remove it," you report. "Like it's sapping Keiko's lifeforce away, like a Wraith."

Tyzias remarks, "I suppose the Wraith had to evolve from something. If it's a natural evolution, I mean. Ancients sure do seem to love mucking about with alien genetics."

Keiko laughs at that- then groans. Mallek grabs her hand and squeezes tight.

"I can barely feel that," Keiko tells him, grimly. "Squeeze harder."

"Look, Doc," you say. "Keiko's not going to get better unless we do something now."

"You said the creature has an underside of soft tissue?" Beckett asks. "Sort of like a leech, perhaps?"

"...Yeah, I guess so," you say. "Cutting into it just made it nearly strangle Keiko to death."

"That's because you don't cut or burn leeches off, you put SALT on them!"




Your name is Doctor Weir, and you find the room full of scientists arguing as you return.

"If you activate the shield, they'll DIE!" Simpson is arguing.

"Hey, we can always open it again if they fix the problem-" Kavanagh is interrupted by Carter.

"They might not have time!"

"If they don't," Kavanagh yells, "they could destroy this entire facility!!"

"Well, that's completely-" Simpson starts.

"AHHEM," you loudly announce your arrival. "I thought you were working on solutions, not bickering?"

"We think the jumper must be damaged for this to have happened in the first place. Ancient systems are too advanced for this to have been pilot error," Kavanagh says.

"So?" You ask.

"So depending on the extent of the damage, we can't rule out a catastrophic power feedback in the drive manifold."

The- what??

"Without the Technobabble, please," you demand.

Carter, thankfully, supplies, "Doctor Kavanagh was implying there's a very slim chance that with the drive controls interupted and the pods damaged, the main engine drive could explode."

Kavanagh scoffs. "Especially if Mckay starts nosing around in there. And he will."

"Need i remind you Doctor Mckay is presently inside the Stargate?" you tell him.

"I-- wait, he is?" Kavanagh goes pale. "I hadn't heard that."

"Because you refused to listen to us!" Carter and Simpson yell simultaneously. "We've corrected you five times already!!"

You frown at Kavanagh, who looks mightily unsteady.

"Alright, say it does overload. What happens?" You ask.

Kavanagh says, "The full force of the explosion will break up the jumper, follow the burning fragments through the stargate like a bomb."

"And this is a minimal risk?" you ask of Simpson and Carter.

They nod.

"Extremely slim," Carter nods.

"So small as to not even be needing mentioning," Simpson says. "If it were going to happen, it would have happened already."

"You all agree?" You ask everyone else. They nod. "Then we take the chance and leave the gate shield Down."

"I thought it was important to point out the risk," Kavanagh says, stubborn.

"And you did. Now stop focusing on your own ass, and focus on saving TWO TEAMS worth of lives," you order him, and then remind the room. "Twenty-Three Minutes."

With that, you turn and leave down to the Control room. You nearly run into Halling on the way.

"Doctor Weir," he greets.

"I'm sorry, I don't have time right now-" you try to tell him.

"I was asked to converse on the matter of the bug wrapped around Major Sheppard's neck?" Halling says.

What?

"What? No, it's around Keiko Ayano's neck, Not Major Sheppard's," you say. "But if you were asked to converse, that's fine."

"Odd," Halling frowns. "The man who told me to come here was quite certain it was Major Sheppard."

What??

"Regardless, I'm glad you came to consult," you tell him.

"I am concerned though," Halling says, following you into the control room. "Why has Telya not talked to them over this matter?"

"Teyla is inside the Stargate along with Major Sheppard, Lieutenant Ford, and Doctor Mckay," you tell him.

"...What?" Halling blinks. "I was told Teyla was outside the Stargate, not inside. I was prepared to read her her last rites if she wished them to be read."

"...Halling," you look him in the eyes. "Who told you this?"

"Does it matter?" he asks.

"It very well might," you say. "But later. Tell me later. We've got more important things to deal with."

"Indeed we do," he nods.


 

"Yes, that sounds like a creature we've heard about in legend, a precursor to the Wraith in a time before they began culling our people," Halling radios over through the Gate after hearing the creature's description.

"Anything about removing them?" You're still Daraya, and you have to ask.

"Beyond a swift death of the person afflicted?" Halling sighs, "Unfortunately, no."

"Thank you, anyways," you say.

"If you would like me to read you an Athosians' last rites, I would be honored to," Halling offers.

"Ask again closer to the shutdown time," you defer. "We Alternians don't like to give up without a fight."

"Understandable," Halling says, likely nodding. "I will return then."

"Thank you," you say.

A moment later, Beckett radios, "All right we've got everything from the jumper manifest already laid out here. What's your personal inventory?"

"Swiss Army Knife, Chocolate, matches, emergency kit," Mallek radios over, "Water, alcohol, iodine, painkillers... Ah. Portable Defibrillator."

"Already thought of that," Beckett says, "Miss Ayano would receive the same shock and it would likely kill her."

"Right, we'll have to try everything one at a time, then," you say, taking a breath.

Keiko says, "I'd give you a thumbs up but I can't move my hand."



"Doctor Weir!"

Emmett Bregman's crew pause in their walk to the control room through the gate room itself, and quickly turn on their cameras to pan up at the overhead bridge to Doctor Weir's office.

"Kavanagh, I hope you've got something important to tell me," Weir says, exiting her office to meet Kavanagh.

"I do!" Kavanagh starts. "What the hell was that??"

"Excuse me??" Wier asks. "What was what?"

"I left the SGC because I'd had it up to HERE!" He motions above his head. "With all the military running things, and you just busted me like a Private!!"

"I'm not the one who was ignoring my fellow scientists pointing out that I had the wrong team-members trapped inside the Stargate!" Weir counters. "Besides, don't be so dramatic. The Air Force doesn't even have privates."

"Neither do I!" Kavanagh snarls. "You just cut them off, right in front of My Research Team!"

"YOUR Research Team?" Weir asks. "I could have sworn I put Morgan Carter in charge of that particular group."

"Oh- Yes, Major Samantha Carter's Clone! Yeah! As if I didn't have enough of HER bullcrap at the SGC too!" Kavanagh sounds extremely angry.

“What is this about, Kavanagh?” Wier asks, “Are you embarrassed??”

“Humiliated is more like it!” Kavanagh says, completely unaware of the camera crew and everyone else that’s stopped to stare at the encounter.

“Oh, I haven’t worked up to Humiliation yet,” Weir says, her tone growing dangerous.

“I just assumed that with a civilian in charge of the expedition, things would be more-”

“A Civilian IS IN CHARGE,” Weir interjects. “And we are CUT OFF FROM EARTH. Which makes us more of a Colony than an Expedition, doesn’t it?”

“I... Suppose?”

“Well, that makes me Governor of this Colony,” Weir says.

“Well, that’s all very well and good but-”

“Do You Have A Problem With That?” Wier asks.

“You’re missing my point, Doctor Weir!”

“No, you are missing MINE.” Weir says. Her tone of voice was that of which that made three dictators wet their pants once before during a meeting which had dictated the fate of several African villages.

It was that which had made a few leaders of the United Nations pause their pety bickering during the founding of the Atlantis Expedition and stop trying to one-up the other in terms of who got their hands on what technology first.

It was the tone of voice that had made a whole group of angry, Confederate-sympathiser teenagers literally stop their harassment of a young black girl outside of a coffee shop in New Orleans and seriously fear for their lives because the woman infront of them was anything but that.

And Kavanagh felt so very small as Weir continued.

“If You continue to waste any more precious time which could be used to help save my people, and they DIE because of your EGO? I promise you, I will dial that gate back to the cold black void of space you consigned their fates to, and shove you through the Wormhole’s eventhorizon with a swift kick to your groin!”

“...You... You wouldn’t-” Kavanagh falters.

“You think I’m Kidding?” Weir asks.

“You’d never do that-” Kavanagh tries to call her bluff.

“Kavangh,” Weir begins, “Get back in there, or you’ll find out whether or not I would or would not do something.”

Kavanagh turns to leave with a “We’ll talk about this later.”

“No. We won’t,” Weir glares at him. “Now. GO!”

 

ZPARKS!

“OW! Of course you’d-”

WRRRRRHH-CLINK-THUND.

“OH! Oh! Did it-- Yes! Yes It Did! [Doctor Zelenka to Control Room! I have something!]”



“Jumper One, this is Weir. Doctor Zelenka’s isolated the control systems in the port side of the Jumper that retract the drive pod. Do you have any devices that can receive schematics?”

“Yes!” Your name is Tyzias Entykk, and you decpatchalogue your Grubtablet and ready it. “Ready to receive.” It beeps once you’ve gotten the data. “Thank YOU, Zelenka! Noe we’re cooking!”

“What is it?” Mallek asks.

“Zelenka’s narrowed this down from chances of one in a million to one in a thousand,” you pause. “Though, uh, Atlantis?”

“Yes?” Weir asks.

“We’ll only have seven or nine seconds to worn you if we accidentally trigger an overload,” you say. “So if I call for raising the Shields... Don’t hesitate.”

“Understood. We’re aware of the risk, Tyzias,” Weir says. “Do your best.”



"Excuse me, Doctor Weir?"

Your name is Argo Lalonde, and you're panicking on the inside, arms wrapped around your stomach protectively and wings fluttering anxiously.

"Yes, Miss Lalonde?" Weir turns to face you.

"I've been hearing a bunch of conflicting reports," you tell her. "What's going on?"

"John, Teyla, Mckay, and Ford are stuck inside the Stargate. Keiko has a bug wrapped around her neck, Mallek and Daraya are trying to get it off, and Tyzias is trying to get the Jumper moving again," Weir answers succiently to you, forgoing titles and ranks for ease of communication. "We're short on time, about less than Twenty Minutes before the gate shuts down."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" You ask.

"I'm not sure there's anything you can do from this side," Weir says. "I know you could slow down time for people here, but-"

That's when there's some muted screaming and shouting over the radio from the nearby console.

"What happened?" Weir rushes over to check on it, and raising the audio level so you can hear it.

"Salt Water made the creature react badly," Daraya's voice reports. "It made Keiko knock Mallek across the pod into Tyzias. Everything jolted..."

"Ma'am," Tyzias radios, "I hit the jumper engine controls by accident. They fired for a micro second. We slid in further and the eventhorizon's breached the bulkhead wall."

You don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound good.



Your name is Tyzias Entykk, and you feel at a loss for all of thirty seconds before you throw yourself back into it.

There's only so much time to waste on this feeling sorry for yourself. Thirty seconds is all. And you've spent it.

You have lives to save and to symbolize that, you open the bulkhead doors because the reason for closing them has been rendered moot.

So much for Plan A. It's time for Plan B.

The light of the eventhorizon flooding the room makes you squint for a moment before your eyes adjust, and you continue working.

"We'll figure this out!" You tell your team. "We'll solve this! We'll get out of this alive! We have to!!" You grit your teeth.

"You sure... about that?" Keiko asks.

"Of course I am! We'll all get through this!" You're not going to let any of this get you down any further. You sure thought a rebellion was a longshot at first, but look at what you all accomplished?

Khepri- Exiled into the past by thousands of years!

The Royal Empire- CRUSHED and SCATTERED!

"Then why did that Wraith let me go?" Keiko asks. "He saw me as good as dead and walked away."

"Yeah, well, that's his stupid mistake!!" You declare, turning around to face her. "We're going to live, Keiko. We're GOING TO LIVE, DO YOU HEAR ME!?"

"...What happened to bemoaning the inevitability of our deaths?" Mallek asks.

"Clearly, that shock from the Jumper drive knocked it right out through the Eventhorizon," Daraya smiles at you.

"Wait," Mallek has an idea. "What if we throw Keiko through the Gate? It'd be like holding her in suspended animation until we make it to the other side."

"I wouldn't risk that," Beckett radios. "If the creature reacted that violently to a few drops of water, what would it do to Gate Travel?"

"So we can't send Keiko through the Gate with the creature on her..." You grin. "So we take it off and THEN send her through."

"Hit me with the Defibrillator," Keiko says.

"That might work," Beckett says over the radio.

"But you said that'd kill her!" Mallek protests.

"That's the idea," Daraya says, snapping her fingers. "This creature is like a Wraith, right? And Halling said the only thing their lore said to how to get it off was a SWIFT DEATH! It stops feeding when the host dies!"

"So how do you think it would respond it Miss Ayano died right here and now?" Beckett inquires.

"So we trick it into thinking Keiko's dead by stopping her heart, and then we re-start it once it's let go," you summarize, "and if it doesn't work on our side, we send her through the Gate until I get us home."

"Keiko," Weir begins, "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

"I want this bug off, Ma'am," Keiko answers.

"Miss Jonjet, do you know how to use the Defibrillator?" Beckett asks.

"Yes, Sir!" Daraya pauses to grab a pair of scissors from the med kit and toss it to Mallek. "Cut her shirt open while I'm prepping it!"

"What?" Mallek asks, catching and fumbling with the shears.

"Cut her shirt open, idiot!" she repeats, charging the defibrillator and greasing the paddles. "I need exposed skin!"

Mallek looks to Keiko, and she laughs- "Tell you what, we make it through this and we'll go for a swim at the pool some time?"

"I- Uh- Sure!" Mallek nods, and then gets to work cutting her shirt open.

You can't help but snort, and quickly turn to check a few more circuits. Hoo, boy, would this all have some rather funky connotations if this weren't a life or death situation.

"Bra too!" Daraya orders.

"Wha-?" Mallek sputters.

"It's okay, I didn't like pink as a color anyways," Keiko tries to inject some humor into the situation.

Oh, hello- that's definitely not the circuit you need. Definitely don't want to fire off a drone straight through the Stargate, nope. No sir.

"Ready to go," Daraya says. "Once the bug's off, Tyzias, kill it while I recharge the paddles!"

You pause in the circuit work, and decaptchalogue a Zat gun that you definitely were not allowed to take with you on the expedition. What Zat Gun? You see no Zat gun.

"Mallek," Daraya begins. "You or me, who carries her through the Gate if this fails?"

"Me," Mallek nods without hesitation.

The Defibrillator beeps in announcement of it being ready.

Daraya places the paddles over Keiko's torso in the requisite positions, and she pauses to ask, "On Three?"

"THREE!" Keiko yells, and Daraya punches the paddles.

CHUUUNCH! Goes the discharge, and Keiko's eyes roll back into her head.

Daraya sets the paddles to charge, and checks for a pulse... "No Pulse!"

You hold your definitely not a Zat right at the bug and wait--

"It's not coming off!" Mallek hisses after a tug on the bug.

"Settle!" Beckett warns. "It may take a moment..."

There's a pause... a pause...

And then the Bug makes a very discontent sound and releases its grip on Keiko.

Mallek throws the thing to the floor and you shoot it about four times with the Zat for good measure.

The shriek it makes is ear rattling, but a moment later it gives off a lovely, satisfying puff of smoke.

Daraya shrugs off her jacket and tosses it to you, and you wrap it up before tying the sleeves into a knott.

"CLEAR!" Daraya says a moment later- CHUUUNCH! "Still no pulse!"

Daraya and Mallek heft the unconscious Keiko up and drag her over to the Wormhole.

"Good luck," Mallek says, giving you a nod, before he secures Keiko within his arms and then steps back through the gate.

As they vanish- you can't help but catch a glimpse of what look like claw marks along Keiko's stomach. What the hell kind of adventures has she been going on to get THOSE?

"Okay!" Daraya radios, "Keiko and Mallek are through the Gate. The creature has been removed, but we could not revive her."

"And it's time for me to get back to work," you nod, and get back to checking the circuits.

"Thank you, Daraya," Weir reports, "Tyzias, you've got seven minutes."

You keep at it, plugging away the minutes.

You're only about half way through the possible circuit pathways, and you tell Daraya, "You should go through the Gate. Incase this doesn't work, that's a whole lot of a better way to go."

"What happened to miss positivity from earlier?" Daraya asks.

"Adrenaline shock wore off," you grunt.

"Either way, not leaving you," she says. "...You did make sure the creature was dead, right?"

"Four hypothetical shots with a hypothetical Zat should be dead, right?" You hypothetically answer.

"Hypothetically, you'd think so," Daraya says.

"Tyzias," Weir radios. "We're down to two minutes."

"I know the time," you answer, "I've still got over two dozen circuits left to-"

Whatever circuit you tried makes a familiar whirring clunk sound. The whole back section shakes from the movement.

"...Oh! That was it!" You grin.

"...Then why aren't we moving?" Daraya asks.

"...We've bled off all the forwards momentum," you groan. "Shit!"


 

"What now?" Your name is Daraya Jonjet, and you radio Atlantis. "We've retracted the pods but we're not moving."

"One Minute," Grodin reports.

"Wait!" Someone else interjects- Kavanagh, you think? "The Rear Hatch! Blow the Rear Hatch! It should give you enough thrust to make it through!"

"That could do it," Tyzias snaps her fingers, "but the only mechanism to blow the hatch is back here." She points at the wall.

And you make a decision.

"Go through the Gate," you tell your Matesprit. "I'll see you on the other side."

"What?" before she can react, you're grabbing her into a kiss and dragging her towards the puddle.

"If I start glowing and thirsting blood after this," you smirk once you've broken the kiss, "then I'd consider that a win, at any rate."

"I-" And then you push Tyzias through the Gate, and then climb up onto a seat, grabbing at the overhead luggage netting, and radio- "I'm blowing the rear hatch!"

You then grab the lever with your free hand, and take a large ass breath.

"Thirty Seconds!" Grodin radios.

That's when you hear a god-awful chirrrrrrrup from your jacket.

You slam the lever with extreme prejudice.

The sudden rush of vacuum sends your jacket and the bug tumbling out the back and brings the puddle of not-water rushing up to meet---

SCHLORP!

---You and then it's gone and you're falling to the floor as gravity takes hold again.

Ow.



"-HIT!" You finish swearing, only to emerge on the other side of the Gate, the alarm message clearing up in a moment.

"Oh My God!" Mckay yells from next to you.

Your name is John Sheppard, and you spare a glance backwards to see Mallek holding Keiko, sans Bug, lying on the floor of the Jumper, with Tyzias rapidly climbing off the ground next to them to run in to the back of the jumper to check on Daraya.

You can see the stargate shutting down behind you- because there is no back door to the Jumper anymore.

"What just happened?" Teyla asks, as you return your attention to flying up into the Jumper bay as quickly, and safely as you can.

"...I think we were just trapped inside the Stargate," Mckay answers, grimly.

"What?" Ford asks. "That can happen??"

"Remind me to tell you about the time Teal'c was trapped inside a Stargate for several days," Mckay answers curtly.

You land the Jumper, and medical teams rush in.

Mallek sits there at Keiko's side as Beckett works his magic with a defibrillator to zap her back to life.

"She'll be fine," Someone says of Daraya, who gets to her feet with some unsteady ease to sit down next to Tyzias....

"Good work, Tyzias," you're barely aware of Weir joining you in the Jumper- you're more focused on Argo being right behind her and having an extremely relieved look on her face at seeing you alive.

"Don't thank me yet," Tyzias says, worried...

And then--

"We've got a pulse!" Beckett announces.

And everyone sighs in relief.

"Getting stronger!" Beckett confirms, placing a stethoscope to her chest and listening. "...Breathing is regular. She's going to be okay."



Your name is Argo Lalonde, and you, John, and Jade head to the infirmary during the late hours of the evening.

Keiko is lying in a bed, Mallek sits next to her, holding Pina in arm so that way the little Dragon doesn't mess up any of the monitoring vitals.

"Hey, Keiko," John greets. "How're you feeling?"

"Starving," she answers.

"She's got quite the hickey," Mallek says, "but Beckett says she'll be fine in a few days."

"We thought as much, with the food," Jade says, decaptchaloguing a cafeteria tray full of food. "So we brought food!"

"It was fried chicken night," you elaborate. "But we also got pudding and all sorts of other things."

"Thank youuu..." Keiko grins.

"Here, hold this for a minute," Mallek hands Pina over to you, and then takes the tray from Jade to attach to Keiko's bedside.

Pina squaks indignantly at you for being denied food, and you say, "Well, I don't like this any more than you do."

Your feathery companion ruffles her wings in agreement.

"So," John looks to Mallek. "Tyzias and Daraya drop by yet or did we miss them?"

"They left after Beckett gave Daraya the once over and cleared her again," Mallek syas. "Tyzias said something about taking off all her clothes and work to do?" he shrugs as you all share a laugh- save for Keiko, who's too busy chowing down on a large piece of fried chicken.

"Ah," you giggle. "The tried and true, age old stress reliever."

"Anyways, if you see them before we do," Jade says, "make sure to tell them we are all having a group 'yay, we survived' breakfast the minute Keiko's out."

"I'll let them know," Mallek says with a nod.

"Anyways, we should get going," Jade says. "Let you two rest, right?"

"Right," You nod, then hand Pina back over to Mallek. "Have a good night, you two."

"Night!" Keiko says in return before chowing down on another piece of chicken- the last one having been basically inhaled already.

"Later," Mallek says.

And with that, you three head off for your room.

"I'm really glad everyone made it out alive," you say.

"I'm just annoyed I was stuck in the library helping Dad sort through Ancient Books," Jade huffs, summoning her wolf ears just to droop them in an adorably sad manner. "I didn't know anything was happening until it was all over."

"It's not like you could have done anything anyways," John says. "I don't think your powers can reach through a Stargate like that."

"I'll just have to practice then," Jade says, determined- her ears perking up.

"Just don't practice so hard you crack any planets we care about open," John warns.

"Speaking of, it's a shame we won't be there to see Alternia go boom," you say. "I really hope someone thinks to record it. I wanna see the look on English's face when they lazer him with the Ultrazord's Naquadria lasers!"

"Who's to say we won't get back before it's time?" John says. "Prometheus should have left already, or left today. One of the two. They'll find us soon enough."

"Unless, god forbid," Jade laments, "they got boarded by space Pirates or something."

"Come on, what are the chances of that happening?" you ask.



Onboard an Al'kesh in the Milky Way Galaxy, a woman named Vala sneezed.

Chapter Text

Your name is Mallek Adalov, and you're escorting your hallway neighbor, Keiko Ayano down to her room from the infirmary.

"I am just," Keiko starts, "SO looking forwards to sitting down at a computer for a few months and not going out into the field at all."

"Yeah, that was just... rough," you cough, trying hard not to think about what had happened the other day.

Pina chirrups in annoyance from atop Keiko's head.

"I know, I know," Keiko laughs. "I'll spend more time with you too, Pina."

Appeased, the Dragon huffs a "Kyuii!"

"So... Dragons, huh?" You ask.

"Oh? Pina?" Keiko nods. "Feather Drakes are native to Alfheim and Aincrad, somehow. Honestly, I think a bunch of them got migrated to Aincrad and other castles through the Quantum Mirror. The Ancients did a lot of weird shit."

"Like giant spiders who mutate people with their bites?" You ask.

"Ah..." there's a flicker of something in her eyes, not quite pain, but something close. "Yeah. Stuff like that."

And just like that, the conversation dies, pretty much.

You arrive at your section of the hallway in silence and, you go to make your excuses to go lock yourself in a lab for a while, but-

"Hey," Keiko begins, "would you mind coming in for a while?"

--Your think-pan freezes over.

"I mean, I just... I'd like to talk about that, if you're up for it?" She explains.

Oh, well.

"Yeah, I can stay for a while," you nod.

And so she opens up the door to her room and you follow her inside.

The first thing you think is: "It's like a dragon's nest in here." Because, it's messy, but there's an order to it.

There are a few large, translucent plastic bin stacked into a closet with all sorts of childhood mementos peeking out from within. There's suitcases on the floor in a corner, one left brazenly open, showing atleast a top layer of a bunch of identical shirts exposed to the air.

Then, there's a Cat-tower-home that Pina immediately lifts off towards and settles down in a literal nest of towels up top.

Beyond that, there's a bed, a small red fabric sofa, a window, and a door that you assume leads to the Ancient version of a restroom... there's not much else in here. Hell, it's practically an exact mirror of your room.

It's small, cozy, and everything is clearly exactly where Keiko wants it to be.

"Sooo." She sits down on the edge of the bed across from the sofa, tucking her legs up against her chest. "Visorak. Life Stealers."

You sit down on the sofa. "Nasty giant spider bugs, right?"

"Yeah," She nods. "So, about a month after Aincrad crashed into the ocean, everything was going... moderatley well, I guess? We were trying to re-establish contact with the other Castles above us, but weren't having much luck. Mom was... in isolation after having that Goa'uld in her, so Shiori and I- oh, Shiori's my sister, by the way- we were left on our own, basically."



YEARS IN THE PAST, BUT NOT MANY...

ALSO, A PARALLEL WORLD AND A GALAXY AWAY...



Your name is Keiko Ayano, and you're a little bit miffed at your sister.

"Shi~or~iii!!" You're just about close to screaming.

Okay, maybe miffed isn't quite the right word. Angry? Enraged??

Whatever, the point of the matter is- she hasn't done the laundry.

The big sister should be doing the housework when the mother is away! Not the little sister!! And of COURSE she'd be out in town shopping for who knows what- but it almost certainly isn't going to be food, you'll bet.

UGH.

Well, fine. you'll just get someone else who can reach the detergent bottle off of the top shelf so you can do it yourself then.

With that, you stalk out of the house and head out to the small add-on building that was being built up to serve as a new lab for researching the stuff found in the Mirror Lab.

The living quarters were finished, at the very least, and that meant that your Fae-counterpart who can FLY lives relatively close nearby.

Months of accidentally walking in on your sister and her boyfriend while making out has lead to your rightfully paranoid habit of knocking before opening any doors.

It's not anyone you'd expect to open the door, though. Midori Kirigaya lets you in, and gives all sorts of pleasant smiles and greetings, before elaborating, "The Aincrad Council has agreed to let the Fae live here, and give them real-enough fake identities to use with their human form disguises so as to not alarm anyone about the existance of parallel worlds, just yet."

"Everyone's freaking out over the ocean crash still, right?" You ask.

"Mmh," she nods. "That, and some odd gravitational issues on floor Twenty Five."

"What's going on with Floor Twenty Five?" you ask.

"An increasing number of cattle are being found splattered on the ground," Midori tells you, leading you to a kitchen area where Touya and Minori reside, presently eating away at lunch. "As I was just telling our new friends here, I was about to come looking for you to see if you'd want to come with me to investigate."

A chance for an adventure while leaving your sister out of it? Hell yes. Sufficient payback for a lack of laundry done!

"I'm in!" You say.

"Kyuiii!" Pina chirrups in agreement, landing on your shoulder.

Wait.

No.

Not your Pina.

Her coloring is off. Her blue feathers are a lot more silver, and her red eyes are golden. This isn't your Pina.

"Okay, I'm back-" And then Silica enters the room from somewhere else. "Oh! Hey, Keiko."

She doesn't look at all like a Cait Sith at all. She's missing her cat ears and tail, and her eyes and hair are colored gold instead of the respective red and brown that she usually has (and makes her look a lot more like a you with cat ears and tail).

Faction Disguise, you realize a moment later. The spell that she, Touya, and Minori used on Alfheim to turn themselves, visually speaking, into other Fae races to sneak around unnoticed. Physically, it just makes certain attributes invisible, but not intangible. If you were to reach out and grab at Silica's head, you'd be able to find her ears rather easily.

"Hey, Silica," you greet in turn. "New look?"

"Yeah," she nods. "Took me a while to get the Human ears down right. I had to heavily modify my Puca appearance, but- well, I was never using that one much anyways."

"Oh, if anyone asks," Midori says, "Silica is your distant cousin from Floor 75."

Ah, right, the floor nobody really likes going to if you weren't already living on it. What with the giant skeleton monsters that roam the access tunnels and fields. People have been leaving it en-mass since the crash landing.

Rumor has it lately that a particularly nasty one has taken up root in the tower leading to Floor 76 since the crash, but nobody's been able to confirm.

"Cousin, right," you nod. "That'd explain the uncanny resemblance."

"Well, that happens sometimes, doesn't it?" Silica shrugs. If you squint you think you can see a reflection in the air where her ears are wriggling in amusment.

"At any rate, we should probably get going," Minori says as she gets up from the table, and casts Faction Disguise herself. The Sylph's appearance of blonde and green coloring shifts rapidly- her hair turns red, and her eyes grow pink. Her ears also round down in sharpness, and her skin takes on a somewhat more bronzed coloring tone to it. "Human form achieved!"

"Awh, you mangled your Salamander appearance?" Silica pouts. "I liked that one."

"I happen to think the round ears looked cuter on the Salamander disguise," Minori counters.

"If you girls don't mind," Touya says, "I'll stick around here for a while. I've got work to do with cataloging the lab contents."

Minori translates for you, "He means he hasn't gotten Faction Disguise to work on any form without a tail yet." Meaning, he's stuck with a Cait Sith disguise as his only alternative.

"What I mean is I have work to do cataloging the lab contents!" Touya protests- wolf ears and tail flaring out in annoyance.

"Whatever," Silica shakes her head. "Shall we head out?"

And so you do head out, all thoughts of laundry forgotten.



Cu Sidhe, Cait Sith, and Sylph- three races of Alfheim's ten "common" factions. The wolves, the cats, and the air elementals.

Cu Sidhe weren't nominally a recognized faction, apparently, being a mutation caused by some wayward magic or something like that. You've had Touya explain it a bunch of times, but you're not quite sure you still understand it that well. There was something about how changing factions literally rewrote a Fae's genetic makeup to some wild degree, which you can't understand how that's possible at all.

With your Pina settled on your shoulder properly, and Silica's Pina resting atop her head, you both climb into the back of the Castle Jumper, while Minori and Midori sit in the front, continuing on with some meaningless conversation you don't really pay much attention to.

"So... flattened cows?" You ask.

"Yeah, apparently they're all ground beef now," Silica jokes.

"...Ew," you can't help but giggle.

"What? It's true," Silica sticks her tongue out at you.

Even with the hair and eye color differences, it really is like staring into a mirror image.

Cousins? Really? You could pass for twins.

There's no way the kids in school are going to buy this.

Miri and Tony especially are going to suspect something's up when they spot their own dopplegangers running around.

"I'm thinking one of us should change hair styles," you begin.

"Huh?" Silica blinks. "How so?"

"Well, we're both wearing our hair in twin tails," you point out by way of tilting your head left and right, and feeling the braids bump against your ears from behind. "It's... pretty obvious how alike we are, like that."

"Hmm," Silica muses on it. "You're right, even with the color changes, we're basically pallete swaps right now." She plucks Pina off of her head and undoes her hair ties before strapping them around her wrists. Then she shakes her hair out and then ruffles up her bangs a bit so they're not in the same shape that you have yours in. "That'll have to do for now. We'll work out something better later."

"Yeah, I guess that'll do for now," you nod. "Though, I'm thinking, when we're together, I might just change up to a single pony tail instead of two."

"Oh?" Silica blinks. "How come?"

"I always have a hard time getting them centered evenly. And you always get them perfectly balanced!" you admit, which makes your interdimensional twin snort.

"I'll admit, I cheat a little using my ears as a guide," she also admits.



The 25th floor of Aincrad had suffered some major structural damage during the crash- fissures rent through the earthen surface, and trees colapsed over on their sides.

It very well may have been the aftermath of an earthquake, given the damage.

Aincrad clearly had never been meant to handle such a rough landing in one piece, even when smoothed over by a pilot. And yet... It spoke wonders to how thoroughly well designed the place was that it HAD landed so intact otherwise.

And then that image was ruined by the sight of a cow falling through the heavens.

MOOOOOOO....

THUD.

"They just keep coming down where-ever," the Farmer who owned one of the herds being gravity tossed remarked. "I've been keeping an eye out on them but sometimes they just vanish during the night and I find 'em squashed in the mornin'."

As gross as it was, though, Silica had to investigate the scene of one personally.

Cait Sith seemed to be expert hunters/trackers/beast tamers, from what Minori explained to you as you tried very hard not to look at the splattered remains of a cow.

(You swore to never eat another hamburger for at least a year.)

"There's webbing on these cows," Silica reports, bringing it to your attention. "Barely intact after the fall, but, I found a piece inside the cow's mouth."

It's stringy, and sort of slimy looking, and it has these translucent barbs poking out of it.

"...What kind of spider spun that?" Minori asks.

"A very big one," Silica says.

You're not sure you're happy about this revelation.



BACK TO THE FUTURE...

AND A DIMENSION AND GALAXY OVER...



"I don't really remember much after that. We started investigating the nearby Stairway tower..." Keiko shakes her head. "And I know we found a den full of giant spiders had taken up root inside all of it. We tried to escape, but one of them jumped me and bit me in the shoulder and after that, it's just even more of a blur."

You're once again Mallek Adalov, and you exhale as she continues.

"But... I can never forget what it looked like," she says, "it was as big as the back half of a Jumper. Four legs. Armored like a beetle, except it had a flat section in the back that was flat and round." She looks you in the eyes, and says, "The whole thing was a slick, rust blood red, and its eyes were glowing green. It had these ridges between them that stuck up in the same shape as the pincers that stuck out well past its mouth."

"Sounds like a real monster, alright," you say.

"That's nothing compared to being knocked onto the ground and having it biting through my jacket into my shoulder," Keiko says, shrugging her left shirt sleeve down her arm enough to reveal some faded, jagged shapes that angle downwards towards the heart. "There's a matching set on the back side. Four fangs, four injection points, four doses of venom at once."
Pina leaps from the cat-tree over to Keiko's shoulders, and wraps herself protectively around Keiko's neck.

"Kyuuui..."

"Heh, thanks, Pina," Keiko smiles, reaching up to scratch the dragon behind the ears. "At any rate, Silica says she shot the thing off of me with a Zat she'd taken off of the Goa'uld that'd been in Mom, and they took me back to the First Floor. Apparently the venom mutates whatever's been bitten into a hybrid creature with whatever else the last thing they touched was- that wasn't a Visorak, I mean."

"So..." You glance at Pina. "Feather Drake?"

"Yup," Keiko nods. "Growing wings is about as painful as it sounds. The feathers? Like a bunch of needles all over my skin at once. Claws? Like my bones were bursting out of my skin." She shudders. "The tail was the weirdest, because it honestly didn't bug me that much... but the pain was just... it was so bad I blocked out the next few days until it was all done and they'd found a cure and were able to turn me back."

"...How long were you affected?" You ask.

"I'm not sure exactly," Keiko frowns. "I think... Three? Four days? But, the problems didn't end there after they cured me."

"Let me guess, the spiders got out and started mutating people?" you really hope you're wrong.

"Yeah." Keiko nods. "The whole 25th floor ended up quarantined and sealed off during the whole time. People were attacked and transformed and... the whole thing went on for a month before we got it all settled..."

You're not really sure what to say to all of that.

"In the end, we stunned or killed the Visorak, and shoved every single one through the Mirror to a world we were sure was uninhabited," Keiko concludes, in absence of you saying anything else. "...Though,that wasn't what I meant to begin with."

"What did you mean then ?" You ask.

"Feather Drakes don't grow exceptionally fast," Keiko says. "Pina's just about as old as I am and she's barely grown out of her hatchling stage... We thought the curative mucked up my growth cycle, but as it turns out, I just had a little bit of Feather Drake left inside my DNA."

"Well, you certainly look a lot more grown up than you were back when you started contacting the SGC, so, something happened to fix that, right?" You ask.

She laughs. "Yeah. Something happened. About a year or two after that- in a whole completely different adventure- well..." She shakes her head. "That's a story for another time, but suffice to say, the slow aging stuff got flushed out of my system. I'll tell you about it later."

"Fair 'nough," you say, standing to get up.

"Wait-" She interjects once more.

"Yeah?" You pause, half standing.

"....Do you think scars are cool?"

Ah. Now that's a question you don't think you'd ever expect to hear. You sit back down and think on it for a moment.

"Speaking as a person who has thirteen piercings and dabbles in tattoo work? I'm not really a person to judge..." You muse. "I think... It depends on how you got them. "

"On how you got them?" her head tilts to the side curiously.

"Like... say someone hurts themselves intentionally for a scar just because they think it's cool... Then, no, I'd say those kinds of scars aren't cool." You elaborate, "Or did they do something stupid like running in the street buck ass naked, trip, fall, and roll so badly they scrape up their sides and get road burn on their butt? Depends on why they were running. Was it from a wild animal that broke into their Hive while they were taking a shower? I guess it could be kinda cool. Was it because of a dare? No way in hell is it cool."

And then she asks, "And surviving a bunch of monster attacks?"

"A 'bunch', huh?" You consider it. "Gonna need more context for that."

"Topic for another time, then, I guess," she sighs. "Sorry for holding you up then."

"It's fine," you say. "Any time you wanna talk about that kind of stuff-" Wait, isn't that way more Pale than you were intending?

"I'll keep that in mind," and then Keiko stands up and... "So, uh... About that date I said we should go on..."

"...Date?" You ask, blinking.

"The, uh-" She scratches at her nose. "When we were in the Jumper, and you were cutting my shirt open, I said something about a date?"

You rack your memories, replaying that conversation to the best of your ability.

Wait.

A tired laugh. Then- "Tell you what, we make it through this and we'll go for a swim at the pool some time?"

"The swim at the pool?" You ask for clarifying. "You meant that as a date invitation??"

"I... Uh..." She nods. "Yeah?? Did I not say it right?"

...You'll be honest, you thought it was just a 'I'm literally going to  die soon' kind of joke??

"I..." You blink. "The word 'date' itself never actually came up, to my memory. But- uh-"

"Oh, geeze... I'm sorry, I thought-" She blushes and glances at the window- anywhere but at you. "I'm such an idiot. I've never done anything like this before and I- Gah! Why did I have to be so bold back there for!?"

Ah, shit. She's going on a self-berating rant now, going fast enough you can't pick out enough words to make coherent sentences.

Pina's crimson eyes afix you with a "FIx This, You Idiot" kind of look. Who knew tiny dragons could do something like that?

"I wouldn't be opposed to it if you're seriously asking me on a date," you manage to squeeze in.

Keiko glances back at you, somewhat shyly. "A... Are you serious?"

"I mean, we did sort of just go through a huge life or death situation," you say. "I don't see anything wrong with just... trying it and seeing where it goes?"

"R-Right!" She nods, turning back to face you. "Then- Ah. Tomorrow? At seven??"

"Morning or Evening?" You ask.

"Mor-Ev-!" She stops, takes a deep, calming breath, then says, "In the morning."

"Sounds like a date, then," You get up and...

Okay, what's the right option here?

...Fuck it. Go classy.

You take her right hand in yours and give the back of it a brief kiss.

"I'll see you at the pool tomorrow at seven," you say, and then quickly abscond across the hallway before your think-pan melts down into an explosive mess of incoherence.

As it is, what could only be a hybrid squeal of Delight/Anxious Terror resonates across the hallway by the time you've secured your room's door behind you.

Well. This could either be the Beginning of Something Really Excellent or a complete disaster.

Chapter Text

Chapter Text

"Ah. I screwed up."

Those are the words I started my last journal on.

My last journal that I've now lost, thus prompting the repeat of those words just now.

I suppose introductions are in order, as well as a summary of contents of the previous Journal. Aaaah. That took so many years to write and now I've lost it.

My name is Sakamoto. I am, or more accurately was, a Royal Guard of Alfheim. I am a Cait Sith who was serving specifically to protect the Princesses- the daughters of King Oberonn and Queen Titania. Princess Astore however, being the eldest at the time, was ostensibly my boss, despite the fact I was supposed to be her guard.

But that's neither here nor there. Not just yet.

I.... also had a lot of unrestricted access to a World Mirror. So I... took some rather long and enthusiastic walks... to other worlds.

I had this fondness for one world in particular- a world with a floating castle up in the sky. A hundred floors of territory to explore...

I soon got distracted by a very beautiful scientist who had set up shop within a laboratory that the matching World Mirror. It was about a few months into my walks of that world. I unfortunately never got to take a solitary walk on my own ever again.

Thus, prompting my original "Ah, I screwed up," I fell in love. I slept with her. I didn't think of consequences. I didn't realize that the ongoing decline of birth rates on Alfheim was related to a curse on our world and not this one.

We had a daughter- thankfully taking after her mother rather than her father. Oh, yes, I could feel the aura of Fae magic within her soul waiting to be activated. Surely then she may grow ears and a tail matching my own... But I refused. I let her have her own life in her own world. I came to visit now and again, as any father should.

And then Princess Astore teased the truth out of me. It was not the disaster I thought it was. The Princess wanted me to take her infant sister to that other world and hide her away from her Father. King Oberonn wanted...

"He wants to do horrible things to my sister," Astore told me, hoisting the infant into my arms. "When she grows to age.... he plans to... to..." She was near tears. "Take her, and hide her away far from our Father's reach!"

And so I stepped through the mirror, and watched helplessly as Astore sabotaged the mirror on her end, even as more Royal Guards surrounding her father barged into the room.

I'll never forget the look of rage in the King's eyes as he saw me vanished from sight with his daughter. That was the look of a man who should never be a parent.

I worry for Astore. I do. But her sister... She is the more important soul to guard.

I never dated the other journals for security reasons, but I feel that I should say it here for the record. That was eight years ago.

Admittedly, I hadn't written in the journal I'd lost for atleast a year. It'd been a slow one- alright?? A Cat has to take time off to manage his life- right? But still, it was my observation log of checking the Mirror.

Astore had told me that when she could manage it- when the time was right- she would be sending a team of Fae- specially chosen by herself- to come to Aincrad and find me and the other Princess. So, I checked back on that lab every other week.

Thus, prompting the "Ah. I screwed up" that opened this journal...

While I was checking on the Mirror, a proximity alarm went off. Children from nearby had entered the Dungeon Stairwell, and were searching through it. I spied on them using the Beast Form spell to take on the appearance of a tiny kitten- as I felt was my job to secure the lab. The lab they were searching for. THAT LAB. The Lab I left my journal in.

The Lab I tried to retreat to, but was chased by a feather drake. I got caught up inside some old cloth toy and... AHHH. I Screwed Up.

The feather drake had me pinned and I had to escape using a phasing spell through the floor below.

By the time I'd made it back up a level to the Lab, my journal was gone, and the Mirror had been used. There was no telling where the owner of that Dragon went. The chances of it being Alfheim were slim to none.

It was with defeat, tail between my feline form's legs that I returned home to my wife and daughters on the 25th floor.

And then the world shook to its core. Aincrad raised itself higher and higher and then- FELL!!!

We were dead. We were so dead! Oberonn had clearly found us and was trying to kill us! That was what I thought at any rate.

Except, if that was the case, it then made no sense for them to then phased the entirety of Aincrad into a ghost form so that we could pass through the shell Aincrad balanced atop of normally.

We crashed into the ocean- we survived, somehow. Except the exposure to that massive phasing reality spell, my daughter grew her cat ears and tail.

That was a very awkward conversation. My wife was not happy.

Aaaah. I'm in the dog house tonight!! (Ah. Well. Cat house, technically. But we don't have outdoor houses for cats here on Aincrad. We do for Dogs. You get what I mean, me! Or, well, if someone has similarly stolen this journal like my last one. (AAAAH. I SCREWED UP AGAIN, IF THAT'S THE CASE!!) You know what I mean, right? Please tell me you know what I mean. That's weird, right? That Cats don't have their own outdoor houses like Dogs do?)



Update. Wife did not actually make me sleep outside. Instead, she's insisting I teach our daughters how to use magic. We haven't told the Princess about where she actually comes from yet.

A project for tomorrow.



It's been a few weeks since Aincrad Fell.

Our floor was invaded by strange, bio-mechanical spiders. I could tell they were somewhat robotic. They failed to show up on a 'detect life' spell, but did on a 'detect inanimate objects' spell. Their bites could turn people into monsters. One of them tried attacking our home. I killed it, and ruptured its venom sacs. Opportunity knocks!

Allowing myself and my Daughter to retain our more obviously feline features, when we moved down to the First Floor, we were able to pass off our appearance as being due to minor splash back from the venom sac I ruptured in that dead spider. Providing it as proof to the team of children researching for a cure, they were able to trace down a cure to it for those more heavily afflicted.

Of course, I and my daughter turned it down. We were not actually afflicted, and like some people who ahd been legitimately afflicted, our 'changes' were not so obtrusive as to interfere with our lives, unlike that poor girl who had been turned into a Feather Drake.

I have my suspicions about those children. Three of them smelled like Alfheim. Faded, but... still recently from there enough to have its scent upon them.

Are these the ones Astore sent? Are they Oberonn's?

This requires further investigation.



UPDATE!! My daughter transferred into the school these children are going to! This could be a disaster!!!!

Well. if they're Oberonn's spies. If they're Astore's...

The life of a bodyguard is terrifying.



My Daughter has made friends from her class! Oh! Lovely!! They're clearly not even the ones from Alfheim. One of them was something of a klutz but she's so earnest and honest and it's endearing!!

She doesn't even care about the ears or tail! She said my daughter is my daughter no matter what accessories she has sprouting from her body! ...I know that sounds weird out of context, but she'd said that even if my daughter were a robot with a windup key on her back- she would still be my daughter!!  The others echoed that sentiment with more polite ways of speaking but-- AAAH!!

Such earnest girls my daughter has become friends with!!



The Spiders have been dealt with. They've either all been killed or "disposed of" which I suspect involves a World Mirror.

One of the girls from Alfheim who was investigating the spiders looks just like a pallet swap of another girl- the one who had been turned into the Feather Drake- thus confirming my suspicions.

There are Fae locally out and about. I need to discern who they are and what they're doing here.

...In the mean time, my Wife has suggested a vibrant idea of exploring a nearby continent using a Castle Jumper. She's already begun recruiting people to start exploring the nearby landmasses. Aincrad, it seems, may have too much structural damage from the crash to be livable long term.

Chapter Text

EARTH DATE: APRIL 12TH, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 10/20/0004.

There was a continent out there waiting to be explored, thanks to Jumper Travel. There were beaches to be surfed and crops to be planted and--

And the one place everyone seemed to want to be instead for their time off was the large indoor pool that Atlantis had for some inexplicable reason.

Your name is Jade Jackson, and you're very miffed over that.

It's a bright sunny day, and instead of enjoying it, like the bunch of shut ins the scientists here are... everyone's choosing to stay inside.

You can't blame them, but... damn it.

You and John look at Argo, sitting on a lounge chair wearing a large sweatshirt over their torso and absolutely looking miserable, refusing to take it off and get into the water for the clear and obvious reasons that they were pregnant and getting obviously so at this point.

It was April, now. Four months since January. A little while longer now and the hoodies weren't going to cut it.

People were going to find out sooner or later, that was true, but you'd been able to avoid prying eyes thus far by timing your visits to the pool to inactive times of day.

A time that should have been today and wasn't.

And so instead of swimming, you, John, and Argo are sitting out of the pool because there are so many people in the pool.

So many eyes.

So many ways for people to notice.

Most people are fine and good and awesome at minding their own business.

Aradia Megido is not one of those people.

"Come oooon! It's not that crowded!"

"We'll wait for it to get less crowded, thank you very much," you deflect.

"Other people aren't waiting!"

"That's why we're waiting, it just keeps getting more crowded!" Argo counters.

"But that's so boring!"

"Aradia, can't you just let us choose to not swim for now and go bother someone else?" John asks.

Aradia considers it, humming a tune as she does so, and then says, "Oh, fine. Okay. I'll talk to ya later then. But I'm not leaving this room until I see you guys going swimming!!"

And then she absconds to go harass Roxy Lalonde, Jimmyy O'neill, and Morgan Carter- who were playing around with up sized children's toy fishing rods you'd seen Roxy conjure up to annoy people who got too close to them.

The "hooks" as it were seemed to be some sort of magi-tech magnet shit that was drawn in towards people's foreheads.

You have no idea how it works, but with a slight strain of your ears, you can hear Roxy excitedly talking with Carter about taking one of them apart to figure out how it works.

O'neill seems amused only in that he keeps hooking and reeling in passing by swimmers like fish- nobody else is quite so amused.

You make a mental note to not go near them with such potent fishing technology.

Sure, those three (Five? Technically five, given Lantash and Jolinar) know- and arguably they could run distraction for you if you so chose to...

But you're not going to push things.

They've got enough on their plates right now.

Plates.

Food.

Your stomach growls.

Aradia seems to have forgotten about her promise to keep an eye on you three, focused more on the fishing rods now. So...

You suggest, and John and Argo nod in acceptance of, the idea of going to eat some early lunch.

You all do want to go swimming still, and maybe the pool will be less crowded when you get back, so you don't bother going back to your room to change. Instead, the three of you just gather up your stuff and head on along to what had been claimed as the dining hall/cafeteria.

"It was so loud in there," Argo laments once you're out of the immediate noise radius of the pool. "I didn't even realize how bad it was until we got out of there."

"It'll be okay," John puts his hand on their shoulder. "We'll get a chance to go swimming later."

You pass by Mallek and Keiko on the way to the pool, both dressed for swimming, and chatting about something to do with the ZPMs. You do a double take as you pass them- since when did Keiko have that many scars?? No, it has to either be a trick of the lighting or some of Mallek's tattoo work.

Surely a girl that age should never have that many severely fatal looking marks along just about everything except her face.

It can't be real, can it?

Thoughts of that troubling nature whirl around your head as the three of you arrive in the cafeteria.

It looks like Boldir, Diemen, and a couple of Earth-born chefs are working the shift right now. John and Argo give you their orders then go claim a seat while you go to place everything.

"Greetings, Miss Jackson!" An Asian-looking woman with a French accent greets you. What was her name again? Marinette, you think? "What can I get for you?"

You place the order off of the day's menu, and you spot Diemen get to work immediately getting it all together.

You return to Argo and John's side and wait for your food to get brought out.

The cafeteria, conversely to the pool, is pretty much empty. It's a relishing quiet you can appreciate.

Argo appreciates it too, judging from how they're leaning against John, eyes closed and trying not to look like they're falling asleep.

You sit on John's opposite side- his exposed left side- and then lean in to do much the same.

"Heh," you hear him chuckle, and can feel the rumble through his body.

An unknown amount of time passes before your food gets brought to your table by Boldir, who makes it a point of bringing her own plate of food and sitting down with you, citing, "It's my break."

"So," she begins, doing most of the talking while the rest of you eat. "Did you hear the Athosians are moving to the mainland?"

"Yeah," John answers. "Teyla said something about cities in general feeling too tight and constrained for them, long term, given the Wraith."

"I can relate," Boldir muses. "This city is... tight living despite being a city. It's very... how do I put it?" There's a pause of silence filled as all of you focus on eating for a moment. "It's like being on the All Your Base, then setting up shop on Diaspora, before having to go back to the inside of a spaceship."

"Maybe once we spread out and secure some more places, we'll be better off space wise," you say.

"Maybe," Boldir eyes you, and then Argo. "I can certainly see you three moving up to a bigger room at least."

John and Argo grow indignant at that- you just sigh. "Right, that." [Mind reading. Right?] She nods. "Out of curiosity, have you seen how crowded the pool is?" [How long have you know about that little fact?]

"I knew the moment I was in the SGC Gate room with everyone at the same time," Boldir answers- pausing dramatically to chew some lunch. "We were gonna have crowds, Jade. All the crowds. All of them."

"Well, the pool is quite a popular place right now." And then Doctor Weir joins your group with her own plate of food, and a mild, "Mind if I sit with you?"

"Sure," Argo nods.

"So, overly crowded pools, huh?" Weir asks. "I bet it won't last. Not once the shores are checked and cleared for safety. That's when surfing season starts."

"Saw that," John says. "The waves look pretty good from the air."

"Some beach time would be nice," Argo agrees.

"Oh, by the way," Boldir suddenly interjects. "I think Beckett's getting the Gene Therapy working for Alternians finally with Rose's and Kanaya's help. You should consider going and checking it out."

You squint suspiciously at her. [You mean for Argo to talk with Beckett?] "You think that's necessary?"

"Yes," Boldir nods. "Definitely. Absolutely. We need more ATA capable people around here with this city."

"Don't feel pressured into it, now. Taking the gene therapy is a huge responsibility to be placing on yourselves," Weir says, seemingly missing the real conversation going on here. It's all inferences and such, after all. Mind readers can be tricky.

Boldir laughs. "I'm just saying they should Talk To Beckett," and there's a stress there. "See if the Gene therapy's Right For Them, you know?"

"Yeah, sure," you say. "We'll take a visit to the Infirmary later."

"Cool," Boldir nods.

Weir seems off put, but says nothing. She's clearly aware that she's missing something.

You'll have to make it up to her somehow. Later.

The conversation turns to other ways. Reaching out to Athosian allies and seeing who's willing to trade. Figuring out a way to reach Earth again. Figuring out Wraith movements.

And, under the hushed veil of secrecy, hunting down Trust agents within the city. There's been some progress in identifying them, and you've been able to figure out how to work around some of their more obvious ploys so far.

There's still one person going around using false names for everything, and talking to people with names that they don't actually go by. Several times, in fact, including disguises.

You'll give the Trust credit where it's due- they're sneaky bastards.

Atlantis doesn't have cameras, unfortunately. Not in the strictest sense of "This is a video recording device" cameras. There are sensors and stuff but never anything that records positioning. It's a severe oversight on the part of the Ancients, really.

That makes tracking down the Trust agent all the harder. Conversely, it also makes it a bit easier to get Argo around without people noticing.

You return to the pool, find it emptier to the point you can find a secluded spot where nobody is watching, and Argo can finally shed the sweater they'd been wearing and get into the water.

You and John cling close to them. Thankfully, the only people still around close enough who might have noticed how exposed Argo was in that short span of time seem to be Keiko and Mallek. And them? They're too busy splashing each other with water to notice.

"So... Boldir thinks we should go see Doctor Beckett, huh?" Argo whisper-asks.

"Mmh," you nod. "We really should have gone to tell him sooner, I guess."

"Weir's going to find out," John says.

"She always was, at some point," you say. "If she doesn't have an inkling already. I over heard a couple of the nurses complaining the other night that the birth control supplies have been running low faster than expected. Some of the female scientists have also apparently trying to write off their morning sickness as bad food reactions or allergies to something."

Argo snorts. "Some people are just hornier than rabbits. And also bad liars."

"My only reservation with Beckett is his, ah..." John glances around. "Well. To be honest he almost killed us in an elevator. And he's been taking a lot of risks out here lately without oversight."

"Yeah," you shake your head at all of the "lack of FDA oversight" mumbling over the ATA Gene Therapy. "Still, he's head of medicine here for a reason. Right?"

"I'd just feel more comfortable with Fraiser or Lam," John says. "Or, hell, what's that Alternian Doctor's name? The one who's worked on the Base and Beltus?"

"You mean the girl Okruii started dating on the other side of the Paradox and they've both thought they've been secretive about it?" Argo asks. "That's Marsti Houtek."

"Huh?" John asks. "What? Where did I miss that?"

"I feel like I'm missing something too," you say. "What about the paradox?"

"Did I not mention it?" Argo blinks. "Ah, anyways. I'm pretty sure it's a paradox change, at any rate. Though, I did only notice it after, so who knows... Er, either way. I saw Okurii and Marsti hanging out all private like in Okurii's office on the Beltus one day before we left for Atlantis. All cozy like."

"Huh," you blink. "That's news to me."

"Marsti Houtek," John blinks. "Yeah, that sounds right to me. Sort of slicked back looking horns and hair?"

Argo nods. "Yup!"

"Right," John says. "I'd still prefer her over Beckett's... enthusiasm for bending the rules any day."

"Little weird, that, considering all the rule bending we've done before," you joke.

"It's a little different now," he says, getting a lost look in his eyes. "It's so much more pressure being in charge of everyone's safety- not just me and mine but everyone."

"Aww," Argo cuddles in close, forcing John to change how he's swimming/floating just a bit. "Good John. Best Friendleader."

"Agreed," you grin at him- only not drawing in closer due to not wanting to accidentally drag both of them under water.

"Thanks," he smiles back.

You three float in silence for a while. Time ceases to have all meaning, it feels like.

"You know?" John begins suddenly. "I had a moment of panic, right before the Jumper got stuck. 'Oh, Shit!' I'd thought. There was a safety alarm and I realized we were going to get stuck in the Gate. Except- thirty eight minutes later- by the time I'd finished that thought, we were out."

"Everyone was worrying and working to get you all out," Argo says.

You still feel bad that you didn't even find out about it until it was over. Just another failing of the Trust's manipulations, as it would turn out. You personally confronted the woman who'd been sent to fetch you, and she confessed to a face full of wolf teeth and claws that an "unidentified" superior in the Trust had told her to not come fetch you. For her honesty, she'd been put on latrine duty and pulled from any places of vital importance.

As for the unknown superior... Well...  Whoever that is, you're going to rip their throat out, come the time.

...Okay, maybe not go that violent. Maybe just... claw up their stomach a biiiii....

You glance back at Keiko as she climbs out of the pool and gingerly walks over to an Ancient recliner chair with a fluffy towel laying on it.

You do some quick visual counting...

There's... a LOT of groups of three, four, and five lines all following along the same angles of attack.

That's what it is.

Angles of attack.

At some point in her life, Keiko had gone up against what you'd be willing to bet was a Fae Werewolf. A Cu Sidhe, the same faction as Touya, the Fae Werewolf who'd helped you get your powers under control.

But... wait.

"John," you venture, cautiously. "Wasn't helping me the first time Touya helped someone get used to controlling their werewolf form?"

"I think so, yeah," John nods. "Why?"

"Just... something occurred to me, is all," you answer, staring at Keiko as she wraps a towel around her torso to dry it off, obscuring the claw marks from sight.

If Keiko had been attacked, there was a high chance she'd been turned, right? Especially if it were a Fae Werewolf. You distinctly remember John mentioning that Touya could turn him if the situation arose. That implied some certainty in the knowledge he had in that ability.

That raises a whole lot of questions you really don't want to be thinking about right now.

You're going to have to talk to the expedition's Resident Ancient Descendant about this- if only to sate your own curiosity.

At least you're not a cat-girl, then it might just kill you!

...

...

You make a mental note not to mention any of this to Argo or Rose until you've gotten the answers you need.

Chapter Text

EARTH DATE: MAY 2ND, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 11/09/0004.

VEEEE, VEEEE, VEEEE, VEEEE went the Atlantis City Alarms as the gate dialed in, and the camera crew's lenses turned to view the action.

KAWOOOSH!

"Receiving AR-1's IDC!" Grodin reports.

"Lower the shield!!" Weir orders.

The shield lowers, and a barrage of Wraith stunner blasts shoot through the gate, forcing anyone caught unawares to dodge for cover.

None of Bregman's cameras are forced to do such, however.

And then AR-1 comes running through the Gate- Sheppard, Ford, Teyla, then Mckay- who takes a stunner blast to the face as the shield raises again.

A medical team rush in to check on them, and the cameras focus in on Sheppard and Weir as they exchange knowing looks.

A counter fades onto view of the edited footage- "The Fifth Wraith Attack within the last Six Missions."


 

O<--STARGATE: ATLANTIS-->O


 

A hidden camera records the briefing as Weir talks to AR-1, sans Mckay, and instead, Lieutenant Bates is joining them.

"Five attacks in six missions, this is not a coincidence," Weir says. "We're fortunate that Doctor Mckay is only suffering mild paralysis and should be released soon. That said. we need to figure out how our security has been compromised. That last planet was uninhabited. There should have been no reason for the Wraith to show up."

"It's clear to me the Wraith have a spy in the city," Bates says. "Every single compromised mission nso far has been preceeded by an attempted negotiation mission with an Athosian ally."

"If you're claiming the Athosians are compromised, that is extremely unlikely," Teyla says, indignant. "I know my people well, and each one personally. None of us are fond of the Wraith."

"Maybe you don't know them as well as you think," Bates accuses.

"Or," Weir proposes an alternative. "it's the Trust we have to worry about and not the Athosians."

"Excuse me?" Bates asks- shocked. "The Trust? What? Now you're just making things up. Colonel Sumner ran a background check on everyone to prevent that."

"And yet we've identified no less that four Trust operatives within the city so far," Weir tells him.

"Even if that is the case," Bates begins, "why would they willingly compromise our missions to the Wraith? It's absurd is what it is. It doesn't follow their line of thinking at all."

"Or maybe the Trust lost their leader and they're all operating independently," Sheppard proposes.

"...What are you insinuating?" Bates asks, eyeing Sheppard suspiciously.

"What I'm insinuating is that someone in the Trust decided to cut their losses and work for the Wraith instead of the Trust," Sheppard says.

"Besides that," Bate scowls. "They lost their Leader? What do you mean by that?"

"We have reason to believe Colonel Sumner was working with the Trust," Weir says. "As you said, he ran background checks. He would have been in the prime position to put his own people on the Expedition."

"You're slandering the name of a good man! A dead man!" Bates says.

"What if it's not an intentional leak?" Ford interjects, before things get out of hand. "What if the Wraith planted a tracking chip in one of the people they captured and we rescued? We could be unintentionally broadcasting our locations to the Wraith whenever we step through the Gate."

"Good point, Lieutenant," Weir says. "I'm ordering everyone who was on that mission- Rescue Party included- to have an examination performed by Doctor Beckett."

"We checked for it when we came back," Bates says. "We came back clean and we've only started running into trouble recently. This is a spy."

"Wraith tech is part organic, Bates," Sheppard reminds him. "We could have breathed something in and it grew inside us to become a transmitter that only just recently came online."

"I would not be surprised if a tracking device were implanted while we were unconscious," Teyla says. "The Wraith have been rumored to have a tradition of setting up moving targets with tracking chips. Runners, I believe they are called."

"Everyone gets examined," Weir says, "and that's an Order, Bates."


 

"Well?" a camera is focused in on Weir's office door as she enters the room, and seals the door shut behind her.

Another fixed angle shows Boldir raising herself up from behind the desk. "He confirmed what we thought in his head," she says. "Sumner was Trust and supposed to lead this whole operation. With him gone, Bates is floundering and failing to pick up the pieces."

"And of the Wraith?" Weir asks.

"He's dead sure it's an Athosian, so if he's our security breach, he's either Partitioned it really well, or he doesn't know he's leaking it," Boldir answers. "Quite frankly, he's panicking over the idea he's got a leak in his forces. He'll co-operate. Hell, he's already making moves in his head to get his people in line. Only problem is he doesn't have the complete list. Only Sumner did, and it was all inside his head, apparently."

"Good," Weir says. "Let's pray that Ford's right and it's some tracking device the Wraith implanted while they were captured and not anything more unsavory."

"What are we going to do about Bates and the Trust, Ma'am?" Boldir asks.

"We'll use him to fish out the agents he knows about. Convince them to turn, if we're lucky," Weir shakes her head.  "Hopefully, whatever agent is going around with all the disguises is one of them."

"And if we're not lucky?" Boldir has clear concern etched on her face.

"Then we do things the hard way and force them to go to ground," Weir decides.


 

Bregman's camera crew position their cameras up, and start filming once Mckay gives them the signal.

"Right, for the record, I am Doctor Rodney Mckay, and we've identified a subdermal transmitter that the Wraith have implanted inside the right arms of every human we rescued from that first mission." He brings up an image of an X-ray on his laptop. "It's a small, seed sized device, slowly ramping up in its broadcasting power over the, ah, last three-ish months? Basically, for now they're only transmitting on worlds with what we can only assume are signal boosters. But, ah, if we don't remove them now the signals may become strong enough to start transmitting into subspace from Atlantis."

"Is it safe to remove them?" Bregman asks.

"Oh, should be," Mckay nods. "It's not like they're wedged deep into the bone or muscle tissue or anything. Quick incision here, some pliers there, and stome stitches later and the devices will be out and we can destroy them safely. Well, all except for one."

"Why leave only one intact?" Bregman asks.

"We're going to set a trap and capture a Wraith," Mckay smiles smugly.



"I had no idea I was chipped! You have to believe me!" Bates protests in the infirmary as he nurses a bandaged arm.  "And is the camera really necessary??"

"I do believe you on that, and yes it is," Weir says, to the side, just barley in frame of the camera recording the conversation, and was focused dead center on Bates. "However, we need to talk about the potential security risks this poses in the future. We have no idea what these chips may have transmitted beyond location. Secured Passcodes, Secrets kept from dear family members, Classified Information, anything at all could be at risk to the Wraith knowing about now."

"My mind is a steel trap," Bates boasts. "Not even that Psychic Mind Reader Alternian can get her claws inside my head."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that," Weir says, and then quotes, "February Fourth, 2001."

Bates stills. "What?"

"The day Colonel Sumner approached you to work alongside him in the Trust operation that was to be centered on Atlantis," Weir clarifies. "Miss Lamati is very good at what she does, Bates. If she can pry information like that out of your head just from watching you get a chip pulled out of your arm? Who knows what the Wraith know."

"...What do you want from me then, huh?" Bates asks, expression growing cold.

"Honesty. I want you to turn in everyone you know is also a Trust Operative," Weir demands. "Co-operate and renounce the Trust as your bosses, and we might be able to rebuild the, ironic, trust that you've lost from me by working for them."

"And if we don't?" Bates asks.

"Then I might just have to exile you all to the planet we sent the Psy-jelly cloud to," Weir answers. "Ford tells me the feeding experience is shockingly unpleasant."


 

"To think that the Wraith had me marked like cattle, and I was unaware," Halling growls as he and Teyla rest their arms elsewhere within the infirmary. "It makes me angry to no end."

"Fortunately for us, we will be able to turn their trickery on them," Teyla appeases the man. "In but a few days, we will use these tracking devices and lure them into a trap. Their arrogance will be their undoing."

"Let us hope they will regret their choices as painfully as can be done," Halling grunts.



EARTH DATE: MAY 4TH, 2001.

DIASPORA DATE: 11/11/0004.

VEEEE, VEEEE, VEEEE, VEEEE went the Atlantis City Alarms as the gate dialed in, and the camera crew's lenses truned to view the action.

KAWOOOSH!

"Receiving AR-1's IDC!" Grodin reports.

"Lower the shield!!" Weir orders.

The shield lowers, and through the Gate exits AR-1 and AR-2, with a male Wraith Commander tied to a stretcher.

"Major Sheppard," Weir rushes down to greet them. "I take it your mission was a success?"

"Yes, Ma'am," Sheppard says in confirmation, hefting a Wraith Stunner over one shoulder. "One Wraith Commander tied up and stunned. Now we just gotta dump him in the holding cell before he wakes up and turns into a pumpkin."

"Good," Weir nods. "We'll debrief after he's secured."

And thus AR-1 and AR-2 carried the Warith away, accompanied by armed escorts.



A security camera poised at a metal cage surrounded by a force field records as Sheppard enters the room outside it. The Wraith inside the cave bristles. "You again," he hisses. "Your kind is persistent."

"Yeah, well," Sheppard smirks. "We have all the time in the world. You? Not so much."

The Wraith reaches out for a gap in the cage only to run into the force field. "HIISS!" he snarls as he snatches his hand back.

"The Ancients were pretty good with shields, y'know," Sheppard smirks. "Personal version of one of those could tank some pretty heavy fire power."

The Wraith grunts.

"I give you a week, two tops, before you crack," Sheppard summarizes.

"You waste your time. I will tell you nothing of importance." The Wraith counters.

"I wonder what hurts more, actually," Sheppard muses. "The gunshot wounds Teyla gave you. The utter beating with a couple of broken branches that Teyla gave you. ...Or could it be the hunger?" Sheppard leans in, and says, "We'd love to help you out on that regard, but, ah, how did McKay put it?" There's a pause. The Wraith stares him down. "Oh, right. 'We can't meet your dietary requirements.'"

The Wraith snarls. "When I am free, you will be the first that I feed upon."

"Charmed, but I actually have two someones feeding off me on a regular basis," Sheppard counters back. "So pick someone else. I'm taken."

The Wraith snarls- but it's a confused snarl. "What??"

"Okay then," Sheppard grins. "I think I'll go make myself a sandwich."

"Impudence!" The Wraith decrees.

"No, I was thinking Tuna," Sheppard counters.

"You think you've won a victory by my capture? By bringing me here you've only hastened your own doom!" The Wraith growls. "It is only a matter of time before my kind comes to rescue me, and when they do, there will be nowhere in this universe that you can hide!"

"Awh, Stay positive now," Sheppard says with a mocking tone of sympathy, before turning to leave.

Chapter Text

The expedition is planned to last a few months while attempts are being made. Wife is going, I am not. I expect to see many videos and photos when she gets back.

I know I'll worry about her, but I'll try to be calm for the girls.



Are those Fae using the Mirror to explore worlds? Why? It makes little sense to me, but I can feel the repeated tremors in reality as they use it. Something is not quite right.

I feel on edge without her around. I fear something else has gone wrong.



I'm sure of it! Those Fae children are traversing mirror worlds!! We just had an incident where a herd of Horse-sized lizards with tiny arms, massive legs, and over-sized heads got loose and rampaged through Star City!

They ate a whole bunch of fruit from stalls!! That's what they did! And to say nothing of the parks worth of grass fields stripped bare!

People are calling them Guars.

Yes, that's cute, but what do we do with them now!?

Still no word from Wife.



Update: Overnight, the 'Guar' were rounded up mysteriously and vanished into thin air....

Still no word from Wife. Worry grows.



Wife has returned, her story in summary:

"Adventure, adventure, adventure. Giant monsters, giant plants, giant mountains."

"Earth" as the planet is being called is... very unsettling. If everything that's considered giant sized back on Alfheim were brought here? They'd barely reach to half the height of the things here on the nearest continent.

Even Yggdrasil, the great world tree, is but a sapling compared to the monstrosity of a tree they uncovered. It's tall enough that its upper branches brush the visible edges of the Magnetosphere above us.

If I did not have the video and photos, I would not believe it myself. There were Aincrad-castle sized fruits growing from its branches.

Massive. Utterly massive.

Truly, as my wife called it, deserving of the title of "The Great Tree."

This is the only one like this that we've discovered so far. It's sprouted up from beneath the surface of what appeared to be a desert at one point. It's at least ten thousand years old if not more.

There are people living in its uppermost branches.

She says they dared not approach just yet, and the people there seem incapable of flying.

The Aincrad council, My wife says, is voting we focus on repairs to the Castle and we leave the giant tree and its people alone.

Aincrad is far enough away that the curvature of the planet means we don't see the tree at distance, meaning they can't see us either...

What terrifying neighbors we have. To think we never knew what was growing beneath our very feet...


There are skeletal monsters on the 75th floor that are rampaging out into the 76th and 74th floors.

The floors in question are all being evacuated and their maintenance tunnels are being sealed off.

The higher floors above it are being evacuated as well- moved to lower and lower floors.

Wife has gone off to help investigate.

I fear I may be over-reacting if I lose her, and yet...

I cannot help but to be scared.



An "Incident" happened. I haven't heard from her in days and that's why. An "Incident" happened. But there are reports of so many dead or grievously injured and---

I'm scared for her, I'm so scared to the point I'm joining a team to go investigate and check for that last group of survivors.

The Fae I've been suspicious of have joined as well. I will put my suspicions aside for now and work with them to help find my wife.



Update: They have my old Journal!! I saw the one girl native to Aincrad who's working with them using the device I stored it on!

Trying to ignore the desire to steal it back from them.

I have more important things to deal with.



Update: Still no sign of Wife. Fae children have blatantly discarded their Faction Disguise illusions in aid of fighting against the skeletal monsters running rampant.

I won't tell them my ears and tail aren't from mutation yet. Not unless it comes to it. My stomach continues to churn with worry for my wife. Where is she? I must find her alive and escape similarly intact or else our Daughters will be parrentless!!



The Skull Reaper has set up home in the center most city of Floor 76.

He is massive. The city is in ruins.

How can we even stand a chance? No- a more important question is where the hell did something like this even come from? How is it alive? It's massive, it's metal and its bone and it has no organs to speak of. Is it a machine? Where was it made, if so?

My gut continues to churn with worry. Where is she? We should have found her by now.

I'm scared for her, I'm scared for us. How do we defeat such a thing??



We've found her backpack, bloodied, torn... and her lab coat. Oh by Yggdrasil, please let her still be alive, please let her be alive please let her be alivepleaseletherbealive!!!!!!!



We're retreating!? Just like that!? JUST LIKE THAT!?!?!

NO!

WE CAN'T

I REFUSE TO LEAVE WITHOUT HER



They left me behind. I have to search for her still.

Cowards. Cowards the lot of them!!!!



Castle Jumpers.

Of course.

What better way to destroy a giant monster with minimal risk of life?

Get out of its weapons range and blast it with drones.

The beast didn't stand a chance.

The rest of his bone-shaped minions have all colapsed without him.

Must Find Wife. Cannot give up hope.



SHE'S ALIVE!!!!!!

It's been days since we found eachother and got back down to Floor One. My darling wife was busy saving lives and dodging death.

I feel as if a great weight has lifted from my shoulders!!

Oh she's a lovely darling, my wife and- well. We'll see if there will soon be a third set of tiny feet running around out house in the near future.

Regardless... Wife told me that there was an experiment the Ancestors had left running. Nanomachines of a weird sort that... well. Needless to say they over bred and became that monster of a beast.

We've talked it over. I'm going to confront the Fae about who their master really is and--

Oh. There's been a knock at the door and it's not my daughter's friends to see her.



Update: They confronted me first. They're Astore's chosen. That's a relief.

What's not a relief is finding out that all the ripples in reality I've felt haven't been from the mirror itself, but bleed through from worlds they've visited. Worlds that Oberonn is searching like made for his youngest daughter.

We've agreed to keep her out of the loop for the time being.

Now? Now we're preparing for the worst case scenario. And I... I've got more spells to teach children besides my Daughter.

Life, as always, is a frantic roller coaster. I simply hope that the events to follow donot mark the end of more childhoods than strictly necessary.