"You've really done it this time, Sheppard," Landry said from across the table in the brig.
"Done what, exactly?" Sheppard asked innocently.
"Done what?" Landry repeated for emphasis. "Well, let's start with the obvious. Disobeying orders. I specifically ordered you and your teams not to go on any further offworld missions. The I.O.A. doesn't want us to needlessly jeopardize any more of our personnel fighting the Wraith when we know that any gains made will be for naught when we pull out of Pegasus."
"So we just turn tail and run because the Wraith are proving more resilient than the Goa'uld did?" Sheppard argued loudly.
Landry leaned his elbows over the table and looked Sheppard directly in the eye. "The original purpose of the Atlantis expedition was to recover Ancient technologies and bring them back to Earth…which is exactly what we're doing now. Fighting the Ancients' millennia old war is not why you were sent there…and despite the relationships you've established with the indigenous Humans in the Pegasus galaxy, their wellbeing is ultimately not our concern. And you, Colonel Sheppard, have no right to unilaterally inject Earth into the conflict."
Sheppard leaned forward as well. "Are you referring to recent events, or the original rescue mission that woke up the Wraith?"
"Both points could be argued, but I was referring to your recent assault on the Wraith outpost."
"They were setting up a new shipyard," Sheppard argued, "one that could grow ships that could be used to attack Earth in the future."
"The I.O.A. disagrees. It feels that without the advanced, intergalactic hyperdrive technology the Wraith will stay confined to the Pegasus galaxy the same way they have been for the past 10,000 years…and I'm forced to agree with them."
"So let me get this straight," Sheppard said quizzically. "I'm being court-martialled because I disobeyed orders and succeeded in thwarting the Wraith's attempt to build more ships that could be used to attack Atlantis during the pullout? I thought that sort of thing usually led to a commendation, or at least an informal pat on the back."
Landry shook his head. "It doesn't matter how it turned out, Colonel. You're a loose cannon and the I.O.A. has had it with your independent streak…as have I. Don't think that I haven't noticed certain supplies that have been mysteriously expended at a rate far faster than previous logistical reports."
"Oh…I see you didn't realize that. You thought you were real clever, ordering ammo, and weapons, and medical supplies through channels and then slipping them out of Atlantis's inventory in small numbers that wouldn't raise any suspicion."
"One good thing I'll say about Woolsey is that he's efficient," Landry continued. "He's the one that spotted the questionable figures. Don't care much for the man myself, but you've gotta respect that kind of obsessive scrutiny when it leads to the capture of a thief."
That brought Sheppard's ire up. "I'm no thief!"
"Oh no?" Landry said, standing up suddenly. "Then who was it that cooked the books? McKay? Lorne? Or was it Teyla's idea?"
"You know…" Sheppard said, shaking his head in disgust. "I thought Earth was supposed to be the good guy. The one the galaxy…or galaxies could turn to in times of trouble. Like the way the Asgard came to our aid when the Goa'uld were set to wipe us out."
"Oh, we're still the good guys, Colonel. But sometimes the good guys have to cut their losses and look out for themselves. Even the Asgard came to the same conclusion when the Replicators were killing them off. They chose, and rightly so, to protect their own first. Fortunately it worked out for Earth and we were able to defend ourselves from the Goa'uld at that point."
"We're not under attack," Sheppard countered, "so we aren't in a position to have to make that choice. We're just leaving for…why are we leaving anyway?"
"Because, frankly, it's none of our business what happens in Pegasus. We're not going to throw away the lives of our people in a hopeless effort to defeat the Wraith."
"It's not hopeless, General. The Wraith are tough but they aren't unbeatable."
"Apparently the Ancients didn't think so, and while I'm not the kind to back down from a fight, I think we'll take their word over yours as to how dangerous the Wraith really are. By your own accounts, Atlantis has survived this far purely out of luck, with a little hard work and courage thrown into the mix. If the Wraith find Atlantis again, they'll destroy the city through sheer numbers and there's nothing that we can do to fend them off. If the Ancients couldn't beat them then what chance in hell do we have?"
"Fine," Sheppard offered. "Let's hold out long enough to evacuate the Human populations from Pegasus back into the Milky Way. The Wraith have kept their numbers low, and without a food source the Wraith will either have to find something else to eat or starve to death."
Landry held his tongue for a moment. "There at least I can sympathize. While I don't expect that we could evacuate an entire galaxy, we could at least provide refuge for some of the Humans civilizations that we've befriended. I don't like turning our backs on our allies any more than you do, Colonel, but the I.O.A. is ultimately the one in charge. And like it or not, we have to follow orders."
"Even if they're bad orders?"
"Even if they're bad ones, Colonel. You've had too much leniency in Pegasus for your own good. Being a galaxy away from command influence probably didn't help matters any. I'll be sure to bring that point up at your court-martial," Landry said as he turned to leave.
"That's it?" Sheppard asked. "You just stopped in to chat?"
"Believe it or not, Colonel, I have another disobedient soldier to deal with…or perhaps not. I doubt he'll live out the month. He's probably better off, given the circumstances."
"What happened?" Sheppard asked. "Did Ronon do something?"
"No, Colonel. He's one of mine. Seems he found an Ancient Repository and decided to use it on himself."
"What's an Ancient Repository?"
"General O'Neill refers to it as a 'head sucker'. Thing is it nearly killed him…twice. The Asgard saved his life both times, but Captain Stevenson won't have that luxury."
"Did he know it'd kill him?" Sheppard asked.
"Probably," Landry offered, "Only he knows for sure, and right now he's in a coma in sickbay. Seems he disobeyed orders and didn't report it in. His team leader found him unconscious beneath the device."
"How do you know he did it on purpose?"
"Standing up for another rogue…how touching," Landry said sarcastically. "We found his hat several meters away from the device, along with some very distinctive footprints. He didn't just walk by and it grabbed him. Apparently he took his hat off before walking straight up to it and sticking his head in. Either way I'll find out for sure when he wakes up. I've got Dr. Jackson standing by to translate."
"Translate?" Sheppard asked, confused.
"Seems the Repository rewrites your brain with Ancient knowledge. General O'Neill eventually lost the ability to speak English."
Landry opened the confinement room door. "If I were you I'd start planning your defense. Your designated council will be here in the next hour, but you're going to need as much prep time as you can get. If I weren't ticked with you I'd wish you luck, even though I know it wouldn't do you any good. You're going to be staring at the inside of a cell for most, if not all of your remaining life."
Landry shut the door behind him with a clank, leaving Sheppard sitting alone behind the spartan table with the security guard watching over him from the corner.
Sheppard turned to look over his shoulder at the female guard. "Do we get any bathroom breaks?"