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The Off Season

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Kids, in the summer of 2010 my gate team was disassembled for a while, because of two successive and unrelated incidents: your uncle Barney was force-fed cursed soup by the angry inhabitants of XGR-598 (the curse, as we pretty much suspected, turned out to be a very nasty cocktail of Ancient biological warfare agents), and your uncle Marshall got a bleetaball to the head during the final rounds of the Atlantis play-offs. Since bleetaball was a game we learned from the Athosians, who were generally much tougher than we were and had the game rules to show for it, the head injury wasn't anything to laugh at.

The original plan was for the rest of us to spend the time resting, going over some new procedures, and joining your uncle Barney at yet another sensitivity seminar, but it became clear pretty quickly that spending time on Atlantis and bonding with our fellow inhabitants wasn't doing any of us much good. Your aunt Lily was terrorizing the infirmary staff, and your aunt Robin was starting to practice hiding knives in her hair. As for me, I almost got married to Dr. Keller, but that's a story for another time when your mother isn't likely to overhear and start laughing at me again.

In the end it was decided that we'd get two temporary members, both brand new arrivals from earth: a marine named Parker, who I'd never have believed passed the physicals if I hadn't seen her paperwork, and an engineer named Hardison, who just happened to be the same guy who'd laid your uncle Marshall out and won his team whatever Ancient gadget they'd been using as prize.

Now, I have to admit, this wasn't the first time we'd been assigned temporary members, usually while your uncle Barney was imprisoned on other planets, on trial on other planets, being pelted with rotten fruit at the town square on other planets, or attending another sensitivity seminar. We'd had marines and we'd had scientists, and once we had a supposed refugee from RDS-462 who turned out to be a mad priest and tried to sacrifice your aunt Lily to the Ancients. All of them, including the fake refugee guy, tended to find our team a little... weird.

Parker and Hardison didn't find us weird. That really should have been the first sign that something was very wrong.

The second sign should have been when both Marshall and Barney's blood work came back with results that meant they'd be spending another two weeks in the infirmary. Ordinarily, that would've made us think twice, especially since Marshall's injury didn't have anything to do with his blood work. But it was Atlantis. Things like that were always happening on Atlantis. We were just glad they didn't catch any nanobots.

Sheppard was looking nonplussed.

"So let me get this straight," he said. "You lost your two new teammates, inside Atlantis --"

"We didn't lose them," Captain Aldrin objected. "They rappelled off the north tower and disappeared."

"Right, sorry, they ran away from home during an emergency shut-down. So how did they end up at the infirmary? And why?"

"Uh --" Captain Aldrin didn't look sheepish often. Robin was torn between standing up straighter and presenting a united front, and between snapping a picture to show Barney later. "We don't know, sir. But apparently Parker dropped from the ceiling and knocked the attendant out." With sedatives from the infirmary's own supplies, but she was probably right not to mention that part just now.

"Right, right." Robin was glad she'd gone with united front. He really had no call to look like his team didn't have weirder things happen to them at least once a week. "And then she --?"

"Threatened Stinson with a fork," Captain Aldrin said, eyes front. "A plastic fork from the cafeteria. Sir."

"For what, exactly?"

"We don't know," Robin said, because Aldrin was starting to look hunted, then added, "But she's met him before, sir."

"Oh." Sheppard sighed. "Good point."

"I really don't see how this is our fault," Ted said. Robin turned to glare at him, catching Aldrin doing the same from the corner of her eye; just because his superior wasn't in the room didn't mean he should taunt the military commander - not when there were others present who could very easily find themselves assigned to a surprise workout with Teyla Emmagen.

Ted was wearing his I'm the Only Reasonable Person Here look. Robin hated that look just a little less than she hated his You Just Don't Understand Art, Science or the Higher Things in Life look. This really wasn't going to go well. They were going to end up with surprise workout sessions with Dex.

Canada, Robin reminded herself firmly, had a much better track record on human rights than some. She was safe. Probably.

"It wasn't us who let a fake marine and a fake scientist go on the Daedalus, or into Atlantis," Ted was saying. "How does that even happen?"

Sheppard was scowling. "Actually, you know all those irrecoverably gone records? McKay tells me whoever did that was definitely using Stinson's passwords."

Robin almost wondered what Barney had done to Parker. Except... well... it was Barney.

"Two people gone who were never supposed to be here." Sheppard tapped his desk. "Some Ancient thingamajigs gone that almost made McKay start crying. We don't even know how the hell they got off-planet."

Robin managed to stop herself before she asked the obvious, but of course Ted had to volunteer, "Did they check the Daedalus before it left?"

Sheppard gave him a long, withering glare.

It was two long months before they found out that whoever had searched the Deadalus didn't bother to check the ceiling panels, probably because they were supposed to be non-removable, or to make sure the passenger lists hadn't been tampered with after take-off, probably because the database was supposed to be hack-proof.

All in all, Robin figured, it was really one of their least disastrous summers.