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Futura Memoratia


Dr. Emily Freedman, a linguist/archeologist in the Stargate program, is driven to the Pegasus galaxy by a mysterious, ancient artifact. Will she find the answers she seeks in Atlantis?

Scifi / Romance
Jen Foehner Wells
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:

itinere (journey)

Dr. Emily Freedman stared gravely at the blue puddle of the event horizon through the windshield of the puddle jumper. Her stomach churned and beads of sweat were forming on her forehead and the nape of her neck. She was trying to keep her breathing even so her companions wouldn’t notice her distress, but she knew she probably wasn’t fooling anyone. She was terrified, yet hopeful, and could barely keep a coherent thought in her head. She clung to the thought that something new and exciting lay on the other side of the gate—regardless of whether it was what she was hoping for or not. Surely, it would be well worth the risk of taking the journey.

Some people found the act of walking through the Stargate to be unsettling for various reasons, mostly psychological, although most didn’t experience any feelings about the matter at all, once through the ring a few times. Emily quickly discovered, after joining the SGC, that her own reaction was quite unique. She seemed to sense the wormhole itself. While most people who traveled through the gate sensed only a fraction of a second of displacement, if that, her brain detected more of a sensation of movement through space, that seemed to be over almost before it began, leaving her swaying, on the verge of passing out, disoriented, and nauseous with the beginnings of a pounding headache.

It was embarrassing. Surrounded by servicemen and other experts, she hated the fact that she looked like a complete idiot every time she went through. She tried valiantly to hold it together somehow, employing various medical interventions with the help of the SGC doctors, but nothing prevented it from happening. She was the butt of running jokes. No one wanted her on their team. Having spent her life among the best and the brightest, always striving to excel, this was something that was beyond her control and it was holding her back from doing the very job she felt she’d been molded for.

After one of her more pitiful off-world excursions about four years prior, she’d been called to a meeting with General Hammond and Dr. Daniel Jackson. It was a very uncomfortable moment for all of them, she imagined, and probably a first in SGC history. Another ignominious notch in her belt. Dr. Jackson had recruited her himself. Archeologists with an open mind and a facility for learning languages were highly prized at the SGC for obvious reasons.

Emily had happened across one of Dr. Jackson’s papers while in graduate school. His theories about the great pyramids and their possible use as pre-historic, extra-terrestrial landing pads had gotten him laughed out of the halls of the most prestigious universities years before. Yet Emily was fascinated by Jackson’s new approach to these mysteries and didn’t see how anyone with an open mind could completely rule them out. Maybe she had indulged in too much science fiction, but considering how far human civilization had come in the short time since the industrial revolution, it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to her.

From Sabots to PDA’s in little over a century? From her perspective, this immensity of cultural development over such a comparatively short span of time, made spaceships seem not so much out of the realm of possibility to her, given the number of known star systems that could potentially support life in the universe. Surely there were other civilizations who were ahead of them on a developmental scale. She couldn’t see why no one else seemed to come to the same conclusions.

She learned from Jackson’s example, however, and kept those thoughts to herself throughout the grueling years of her education. Once, she googled him to see if he had done any work since that paper had been written. She couldn’t find anything except a couple of cynical and erroneous references to his work. She had, however, found an old mailing address buried deep in the search engine’s results. On a lark she wrote him a letter, telling him of her interest in his theories, her own academic progress, and her dreams of the future.

As she sat across the table from Jackson and Hammond in the meeting, sweating nervously, she recalled with a wry twist of her mouth, how she had even closed the letter with a paragraph about how she fantasized of living in a peaceful universe with galaxies of civilizations, each with their own artifacts, ruins, and languages to explore.

She never thought he would actually get the letter, never imagined it would ever amount to anything. For all she knew, Jackson was teaching high school somewhere, full of regrets—and if he did by some miracle get the letter, maybe it would give him a moment of happiness to know that someone out there in his field thought his theories had merit. It was just a way to put her thoughts to paper in a way that she could never speak aloud to her colleagues. She thought it had been a harmless fantasy, a moment of indulgence in her own vanity.

Roughly six months after posting that letter, mere months from finishing her dissertation, she attended a professional meeting, presenting a paper on an obscure Sumerian stone tablet with some novel symbols she had deciphered. Jackson had been in the audience and introduced himself after her talk, asking her to dinner to discuss some exciting opportunities as a contractor with the United States Air Force.

She had surely looked like a fool. She stuttered and sputtered and gaped at him. There went her theory of a paunchy high school history teacher who cried in his beer over his lost career every night. The Air Force needed polyglots and archeologists? Huh? It hadn’t taken much to convince her she wanted to know more. Before she knew it, she was moving to Colorado, spending most of her waking hours deep in an underground bunker called Cheyenne Mountain, learning Ancient and other incredible languages and seeing and doing things that she could never have dreamed of.

General Hammond cleared his throat, jerking her out of her reverie. Hammond and Jackson exchanged glances and Jackson started in, “Emily, do you know why we’ve called this meeting?”

Emily looked down at her hands for a moment, but quickly realized that was a mistake as tears started to well up. She instantly shifted her gaze to the ceiling, willing the tears to drain away without spilling down her cheeks, mentally cursing the weakness she’d been determined not to show.

“I’m a liability on the other side of the gate,” she said flatly. She picked a point just over their heads to stare at.

Hammond leaned in, his hands folded on top of some files. He looked reluctant to deliver his verdict. “The medical team can’t seem to find any organic reason for your reaction to gate travel, so there’s apparently nothing that can be done. We cannot dismiss the danger it poses to a team to have a member incapacitated for at least twenty minutes each time you go through.” He looked to Dr. Jackson as though he needed help softening the blow.

“It’s surprising, considering you have a naturally expressed ATA gene. As a direct descendent of the Ancients, we wouldn’t expect you to find gate travel difficult. But there it is, nonetheless,” Jackson said gently.

Her worst fears confirmed, she fought down panic. “So, I’m grounded? What does that mean? Do I transfer to Area 51? Am I out of the program?” She willed her voice to be neutral and steady. She’d known this was coming—she just didn’t know the outcome yet. She couldn’t imagine how she could go back to her old life after all this. Would they let her go? How could they, given what she knew?

“No, no. We need you here,” Hammond firmly assured her. “Your expertise is invaluable. We can’t replace you. You’ll be permanently stationed with the archeology lab here, working with science teams on the artifacts we bring back to Earth, as well as translations, of which you know there are always plenty. The work won’t be so different from what you’re used to. You just won’t be going off-world anymore.”

Hammond nodded and got up to go. Jackson remained behind, regarding her thoughtfully. “I’m sorry, Emily. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear. You ok?”

She felt limp from the roller coaster of emotion she’d just ridden—the intense build up of so much anxiety, followed by the wave of relief that they would keep her.

“Yeah. I guess. I hate going through that damn thing. But at the same time. . . I hate missing out on the good stuff.”

“You’ll be safer here,” Jackson said with a kind smile. It was like him to point out some positive aspect. He was aware of her aversion to the more unpredictable missions she’d been on.

“Somewhat,” Emily rolled her eyes and forced a laugh. “Until the next foothold situation, right?”

She wondered, a sense of tightness squeezing in her chest, if her father had lived, what he would have thought of all this, had she been able to tell him. He’d started out as Air Force before moving on to fly commercial. She’d barely known him, barely remembered him, but she suspected he would’ve been let down as much as she was by this moment.

And yet, here I go again now, Emily reflected, as the blue glow of the event horizon rippled over the faces around her. Farther than ever before. To another galaxy. She swallowed convulsively. It was insane—truly, utterly insane. She tried to quash down the panic that even the benzodiazapene she had taken couldn’t quell.

She was going to Atlantis in the Pegasus galaxy. As far as the SGC was concerned, this was a professional decision. One that surprised them, given her history, but the IOA had been pushing the SGC to send a linguist to Atlantis since the original expedition. They wanted someone working on the Ancient database, to bring its contents home to Earth in a form accessible to all, particularly anything that could be used to further the interests and defense of Earth. They wanted Jackson, but O’Neill and Landry wouldn’t allow it. She was their second choice and they’d been pressuring her to go for years. When Atlantis was recently lost and regained, they re-opened negotiations with her—this time offering an exorbitant pay raise. It was the excuse she used; the timing bizarrely perfect.

No one knew that the real reason she was going was entirely personal. Personal, emotional, utterly without logic, reason, or common sense. She was taking a huge leap of faith that even she wasn’t sure she believed and that she dare not voice to another living soul. She was going for one reason and one reason alone. To meet Dr. Rodney McKay.

Emily would be among the earliest users of the Carter/McKay intergalactic bridge built between the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies. This meant traveling in a small ship, affectionately called a puddle jumper, through gate after gate after gate across the incredible vastness of empty space that lies between galaxies.

General Landry had the foresight to send her along with a small group of medics, bringing medical equipment and replacement personnel through. A macro had been written by McKay and installed into the jumper’s computer that would take them through the gate on Earth and directly to the intergalactic gate bridge where they would be forwarded through the first seventeen gates sequentially without stopping or rematerializing. They would then pause at the unfinished midway station before continuing on through the last seventeen gates, taking them directly to the Atlantis gate.

Emily hoped her reaction would be similar to what she had experienced before and not worse. She was stubbornly refusing to wait and was going against medical advice. The doctors thought her issue with the gate was all in her head anyway, so, predictably, their objections had been minor. Once the decision had been made, she didn’t want to delay the transition because it would give her time to change her mind. She knew herself well enough to know—it was now or never. Certainty or. . . regrets.

The Daedalus was currently on its way back from Pegasus. It would take weeks to return and then weeks—maybe months—more to repair all the damage done by a massive solar radiation blast wave the Daedalus had recently blocked to protect Atlantis and her home world Lantea. Earth’s newest ship, the Apollo, was many months away from completion.

There was even a possibility that no ship would be returning to Pegasus any time soon because the Asurans, a race of human-form Replicators manufactured by the Ancients, now knew of the existence of Earth and the powers that be were currently trying to develop a plan to defend Earth. There was even talk of discontinuation of transfer of personnel to Atlantis because of the danger the Asurans posed to the city.

These were all just rumors. Emily didn’t have the clearance to know exactly what was going on. But she decided it was worth the risk to use the bridge. The gate bridge was in place. She didn’t want to be stuck on Earth for months or years, or worse—miss the opportunity to go to Atlantis altogether because of momentary discomfort. She could do some really important work in Atlantis with her plans to translate the Ancient database. Perhaps she would even find something that could turn the tide against their enemies. Their knowledge of the database was currently minimal. It was incredibly vast and Ancient was a complex language, difficult to decipher. Many there had a rudimentary knowledge of the language, by necessity, of course. But they needed an expert and that was. . . her. No one, except for Dr. Daniel Jackson, knew Ancient better than her.

Emily came to sprawled on the floor of the jumper. They’d arrived at the unfinished midway station and a nurse was hovering over her, pumping a blood pressure cuff tight around her arm. She struggled to sit up despite thick nausea rising in her throat and the pounding of her head. She’d been stationed with the military long enough to feel conditioned to ignore physical discomfort and to try to appear as normal as possible.

The nurse pushed her back down. “Whoa, there, Cowgirl! You’re not in any condition to get up right now. We were just discussing what the hell we should do with you. We knew you’d have some problems with the gates, but we weren’t expecting you to get this serious about it.”

Emily looked up, squinting through the pain radiating from the back of her head to her eyes, to see that the others were crowded around her with arms folded and serious expressions on their faces. Then it hit her again with a force that momentarily took her breath away. She’d always had an impression of blue-green tunnels of light after gating. It was fleeting and hard to hold onto. But this time it was vividly hanging before her eyes, blocking out her actual vision. She closed her eyes, but it didn’t go away—it just seared the darkness behind her lids with a surreal reverse image in magenta and coral. She struggled to swallow the bile rising in her throat.

“Take some deep breaths, Dr. Freedman,” the nurse urged Emily gently, then turned and barked, “Somebody find me some kind of emesis container—she’s about to puke, again.”

It passed. But she kept her eyes closed so she wouldn’t see their grim expressions and annoyance.

“How are you feeling now?” the nurse asked again, after a moment.

“Like I want to sleep,” Emily replied reluctantly, her voice coming out as a croak.

“Ok. We’re going to stay put for a few more hours and I’m going to place an IV for some fluids. You seem to be moderately dehydrated, which is probably worsening your condition. Didn’t you eat or drink anything before we left Earth?”

“No. I didn’t want to vomit in front of all of you.”

“Well, that plan backfired,” the nurse said sarcastically.


She groaned and moved slightly to prop her head against a crate behind her. There wasn’t much room to move around because of the supplies they were bringing. Her prone form filled up most of the remaining legroom which surely was making everyone in the rear compartment uncomfortable. The whole trip was supposed to take less than forty minutes. The midway station was unfinished and they would not be allowed to disembark during this break they were giving her. To stay in this tiny enclosed space for hours would be torture for the others.

She tried to muster the strength to tell them not to worry about her and to just move on. She didn’t want to make them all sit on their hands for hours while she tried to recover. But she barely had the energy to keep her eyes open, much less mount an argument with them. Soon the IV was in place and they left her alone to sleep.

To sleep and to dream of hurtling through blue-green tunnels of light with deafening shrieks in her ears. It was all jumbled up with images from her past. She would tumble out of a wormhole long enough to see a memory, some pivotal scene from her life, before being swept off again. Dreams, nightmares, visions—segmented by the terror of the wormhole.

A wormhole expelled her, revealing a tantalizing image, one she had seen many times before in her dreams. It had been induced, she assumed, by the accidental encounter with the alien device found on P3X-549. It was the image of an aging Dr. Rodney McKay—a man she had, in reality, never met—yet here in this moment, clearly knew well. He was smiling warmly at her over a champagne flute at a subdued party on Earth, holding her hand across a table top, rubbing his thumb gently over her knuckles. She zoomed in on her hand with stunned fascination, forgetting McKay for the moment. It was clearly her own hand but the skin was no longer taut and smooth. It was loose, wrinkled, spotted, and there was a ring there, that looked like an engagement ring. She looked into McKay’s soft blue eyes, crinkled with merriment, and felt herself smile. Overwhelming feelings, like nothing she’d ever felt before, flooded her senses. She tried to linger, to analyze, to commit the details to memory, but she was sucked into the wormhole once more. . . and it was all gone.

She woke, gasping for air, her mop of hair falling forward over her face. The nurse was there, clucking over her. “Ok, Cowgirl, how are you feeling now, after a little sleep?”

“Starving,” Emily replied. “Not too bad, actually,” she said with surprise, pushing herself up and shoving her unruly hair out of her face, memories still tugging at her from the corners of her mind, which she patently tried to ignore.

“It’s time for plan-B, Dr. Freedman. The docs at the SGC prescribed some stuff for a worst-case scenario and we’re going to have to use it. We can’t risk your heart rate and blood pressure getting so low again. We were on the verge of breaking out the defibrillator shortly after we arrived.” The nurse was bustling about, as much as that was possible in the confined space, matter-of-factly peeling open shrink-wrapped medical supplies, making some kind of preparations, and avoiding her gaze.

Emily blinked. A moment passed. She felt better, but was still having trouble processing what was going on. “Can I know what this plan is, exactly?”

The nurse frowned, then hedged, “Why don’t you have something to eat first, let that settle, and then we’ll fill you in before we get started. We’re all going a little stir crazy here, but we want to be sure you’re recovered enough before we proceed. We’re going to give you another hour. We radio’d Atlantis to give them our new ETA and to tell them to have a gurney ready to get you to the infirmary.”

The nurse was some interesting mix of soft-spoken southern gentility and hardened-Texan, military field nurse. Had the circumstances been different, Emily would have wanted to get to know her better. She probably would be fun to have drinks with.

The nurse pressed upon her that from now on she would be taking ships between galaxies. But for now, there was nowhere to go but forward. The others were grim with annoyance and discomfort. She gathered from their body language and hushed conversation that they thought her life could be in danger. She fervently hoped they were wrong.

The nurse drugged her and, with the help of the others, rearranged the supplies so they could lay her out flat on the floor of the jumper to help keep her blood pressure more stable. It was utterly humiliating.

She braced herself for the next incomprehensible wave that would accost her upon entering the Stargate. Instead, she watched numbly as her surroundings and companions dissolved, leaving her alone, seemingly solid and aware and completely still, sailing weightlessly without breath in the vastness of space. At first there were no stars, just darkness, lit only by the dazzling, blue-green light of the wormhole, and an endless, wordless scream that she assumed was the sound of the vastness of space being rent by the wormhole.

She felt only a small shudder as each gate in the void between Pegasus and the Milky Way was accessed. Then she could see Pegasus growing in the distance, a cloud of twinkling glitter and dust, floating in the vastness of dark space. Her new and dangerous home was utterly breathtaking.

Pegasus drew near, filling her senses with wonder, and the wormhole began to gently shift and curve, bending to avoid the deadly particles within stars that could disrupt its field and cause harm to its passengers. At the fringes of Pegasus, the bows and curves were gentle. But as they approached their destination, the wormhole began to twist and swirl violently as the distances between stars grew closer together, breaking the spell and filling her with fear once more. She was tossed like a rag doll, tumbling and swirling madly. She closed her eyes to it, desperately wishing for it to be over, as the familiar sensation brought her to the brink of unconsciousness.

She sensed a stillness and opened her eyes. Space no longer filled her vision. The ship and her companions had returned and she could see a fraction of Atlantis through the windshield of the jumper. She heard the others muttering their relief, gathering belongings as the jumper’s autopilot took over and they were en route to the jumper bay. The second the jumper landed, the hatch opened, and everyone except the nurse and one marine slid out awkwardly. Emily struggled to rise, feeling thick-headed and clumsy, but the nurse pressed her down and took her vitals.

There was a gurney waiting. Emily protested, but the marine picked her up and placed her on it. The nurse spoke in low tones with a dark-haired, male doctor who was loaded down with bags and a couple of medical field cases. Something about him was familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on what that might be. She turned her head and could see men starting to unload the jumper.

Emily sat up shakily, trying to push the grogginess away so she could greet the Atlantis personnel coming into the bay. Her clothes were disheveled and she could only imagine that her hair was frazzled beyond looking sane.

She recognized Dr. Weir approaching, looking concerned, “Is this Dr. Freedman?”

“I see my reputation precedes me.” She was surprised when her voice came out as rough whisper.

“I understand you’ve had some difficulty with the passage through the bridge?”

“That’s an understatement,” muttered the nurse.

Emily frowned and met a mirror of her own expression in Dr. Weir’s face as she slid off the gurney, with the nurse reluctantly offering physical support. Her knees were wobbly, but she could stand. She stuck out her hand to Weir and caught her breath as she tracked movement behind Weir.

It was McKay. She recognized him instantly, moving among the piles of equipment from Earth, looking for something. She stumbled momentarily with the nurse clutching at her and Weir still grasping her hand.

He was so much younger than she expected. But what did she expect, exactly? She was chasing some fragment of a dream induced by an alien artifact that she could barely remember. She was certifiably insane—and she was inexplicably panged with sadness that he didn’t even notice her existence.

Someone was shouting and she was feeling dizzy. It was getting hard to focus. She wondered if it was McKay who was yelling something about hosing out the jumper and felt piqued with guilt and shame. She was back on the gurney and it was moving quickly. Presumably, she was being taken to the infirmary. She fleetingly hoped they wouldn’t do a psych evaluation anytime soon. She was quite sure she wouldn’t pass.

Dr. Rodney McKay was striding purposefully to the jumper bay with Radek Zelenka trailing behind him like an eager puppy, prattling about something he’d found in the database that morning. The jumper Rodney was waiting for had finally come through after some unforeseen delay at the midway station. He frowned, wondering what that could have been.

The station, a protective failsafe to keep Pegasus bad guys from reaching Earth, was entirely his idea, and a brilliant one at that, but it wasn’t completed yet. There was no reason to stop there. They should have punched in the address to enter the Pegasus system immediately upon arrival. He hoped there wasn’t some kind of bug in the macro. That had been a pain in the ass to write and he really didn’t want to revisit it.

“Don’t you think it’s worth checking out?” Radek asked as they entered the bay.

“What?” Rodney countered absently, with irritation. He stopped and turned, casting a baleful eye on the Czech at his side.

Radek grimaced and peered over the tops of his glasses. “The Ancient temple I found in the database. I just spent three minutes telling you about it.”

“A temple? Why would we want to check that out?”

“Well, because it’s quite a puzzle—”

Rodney cut him off. “A puzzle? We know many of these local primitives were worshipping the Ancients. So some of them built a shrine, so what?” Hm, he thought to himself, they worshipped the Ancients because of their technology, their superior intellect and so forth, right? Maybe some of these primitives would one day be worshipping him. He snorted with amusement.

“No, no. This temple wasn’t built by the local human population, it was built by the Ancients,” Radek insisted.

They approached the only jumper with an open hatch. The team of military techs who maintained the jumpers was unloading the small amount of cargo the jumper had brought through from Earth. Rodney stopped abruptly when he realized Carson was there with a medical team. Some enormous marine was carrying a slight woman and laying her limp form on a gurney. They pushed her out of the way of the unloading area. Rodney eyed her with suspicion and started looking through the stacks of crates for the one he was looking for.

“Who is that?” Radek asked sotto voce, squinting and pushing his glasses up his nose. “She’s cute.”

“No idea. It looks like she’s sick. You think that’s cute?” Rodney shook his head and shot Radek an incredulous look. The man said the oddest things sometimes.

“Curly hair. I’ve always liked curly hair,” Radek said with a slight smile and a dreamy look on his face. Thankfully, he snapped out of it. “Ok, so listen, Rodney—this temple was built by the Ancients and the database says there is much knowledge to be found there. Intriguing, eh?”

“Maybe. Put it on the list, if you think it’s so fascinating. Elizabeth can assign a team to check it out if she agrees with you.” Rodney stuck his head in the jumper to see what was left in there and saw the crate he was looking for. He went in after it and pulled up short, blinking in disbelief. “Son of a bitch!” he bellowed. “What the hell happened in here?” He grabbed the case and exited the jumper quickly, still yelling, “Sampson—get your team in here and hose out this damn thing, ASAP!” He looked up and saw someone approaching in hazmat gear, holding a pressure washer and hose.

The soldier rolled his eyes and said, “It’s Simpson, sir. And I can’t hose it out until we clear the area. Hazmat protocols.”

“What is it?” Radek asked, peering into the jumper. “Oh.” Then he muttered something incoherent in Czech.

Rodney set the case on a stack of other cases and opened it. He saw Elizabeth approaching and nodded at her. “What was all that about?” he asked her irritably, noting Carson and his team wheeling the young woman away.

“That,” Elizabeth answered with raised eyebrows, “is our first archeologist and linguist. You knew she was coming today, Rodney. I sent you her file weeks ago. Didn’t you read it?”

“What? I don’t know. Maybe. I guess so.” He pulled an ARG out of the case and regarded it skeptically.

“Oh—is this Dr. Freedman?” Radek asked suddenly with a lot of enthusiasm.

“Yes, that’s right,” Elizabeth answered. “Do you know her?”

“Oh, no, not really. I email her from time to time with translation questions. She always knows the answer, no matter how esoteric the question, even about engineering specs. She’s quite good. And fast. I usually get an answer the next day.” He made some kind of hopeful, speculative face. “So, that’s her. Lovely. Too bad she’s ill.”

Rodney set the weapon back down abruptly, feeling his ire starting to rise. “Why would they send her now if she’s sick? She could be exposing us all to some sort of deadly Earth pandemic. Have they got that bird flu under control yet on Earth?” he asked nervously, unconsciously turning on his own internal sensors—probing for any kind of indication that he might be feeling unwell.

“She doesn’t have a virus. I told you about her—and it’s all in her file. She gets sick from gate travel,” Elizabeth said patiently.

“Oh, really?” Radek said. “That’s unusual.”

Elizabeth shrugged. “What do we have we here? Are these the new ARG’s?”

Rodney switched gears reluctantly. “Yes, yes. Carter’s newest redesign. This is the first batch. I’m going to take them back to the lab and give them the once over to see if I can improve on the design before Sheppard puts in an order for more to be manufactured.”

“Alright then. Keep me informed.”

She was moving off and he remembered he had something he wanted to talk to her about. “Elizabeth, wait a minute.” He paused a moment, gathering his thoughts and shot her a serious look. “I’ve been doing some more work, in my spare time, of course, trying to figure out how we could still make Arcturis work. I think I’ve hit on an idea that will do it. I’d like to talk to you about it.” He looked at her searchingly, waiting to see what her reaction would be.

She frowned and stared at him, a hint of skepticism on her face. After a few moments, she breathed a heavy sigh and said, “We have a staff meeting in a few days. Bring it up then.” She nodded and walked away, heading back toward the control room and her office.

He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and glanced at Radek who had an eyebrow cocked at him and was shaking his head. Rodney ignored that and closed up the crate that held the ARG’s, in preparation to return to the lab.

“What would make someone become ill from gate travel?” Radek mused as he fell into step beside Rodney.

“How should I know?” Rodney grit out. “Mental illness?”

Radek waggled his eyebrows suggestively. “New blood. Attractive woman. All the soldiers will be sniffing around that one.”

“Don’t forget the scientists,” Rodney replied, rolling his eyes and glaring pointedly at Radek.

“Maybe. The soldiers seem to have better luck.”

Rodney shrugged, reluctantly agreeing.

Radek sighed and looked crestfallen for a moment, then picked up where he left off about the Ancient temple he was so enamored with. “So, that is the intriguing part. We have had no indication thus far that the Ancients were a religious people. They devoted their lives to science and exploration. So who or what is this temple devoted to? What is it all about?”

Rodney listened half-heartedly for another moment or two, then tuned Radek out again, mulling over strategies he could use to convince Elizabeth to let him move forward with his latest, brilliant scheme to make Arcturis work.

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