Tammy, Sheppard and Ronin go to Earth to check on Sheppard's brother, Keller gets a chance to try out the ancient medical systems...and an original character returns...
Confirming Carter Book Three, Changes
"You check in every two hours." Sam said as she hugged Tammy.
"We agreed on four, we're going to be moving around alot, and may not be able to do it every two hours." Tammy laughed. "We'll be back in eight, but you go ahead and worry, I know I won't be able to stop you."
"Take as much time as you need." Carter said. "You just come home to me, all of you."
She watched as they stepped through the gate, wincing when it shut down behind them.
"Lady Tammy, it's a pleasure to see you again. I wish it was under more pleasant circumstances." Landry said, smiling broadly as he walked up the ramp to meet them. "Col. Sheppard, and...I'm sorry, but I don't think I ever got your name."
"This is Sir Ronin Dex, Guardian of the Realm, and Head of the Household Guard." Tammy said, smiling at Ronin as she held out her hand to Landry. "My protector in all things."
"It's a pleasure." Landry said, nodding at Ronin as he shook hands with Tammy.
"We have an aircraft waiting for you on the tarmac at Peterson." He told them as he led them down the ramp. He handed Tammy a large envelope and added, "That envelope has cash, credit cards, and two satellite phones with contact numbers for the SGC, the White house, and a team a government lawyers in case you run into any trouble. There's a car waiting for you upstairs."
He smiled as they reached the elevator. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"Yes." Tammy smiled. "Start thinking about coming to work for me."
Interior-St. Martins Hospital, San Clemente California
They were waiting at the nurses station when a tall doctor in green scrubs approached them.
"Col. Sheppard?" He asked, holding out his hand. "I'm Dr. Wilson, your brother's doctor. I'm sorry for making you wait, but I just got out of surgery."
"I'm used to it, doc." Sheppard said. "My fiancée is a surgeon."
"Really?" Wilson asked. "What hospital does she work at? Maybe I've heard of her."
"She's not local." Sheppard said. "What can you tell me about my brother, and can we see him?"
"He's in intensive care at the moment." Wilson said as he turned and started down the corridor. "I'm afraid only family members can go in. Your friends can wait here, or there's..."
"They are family, doc." Sheppard said tightly. "This is our adopted sister, Lady Tammy Ford, and our brother, Sir Ronin Dex. My father...it's a long story."
"We'd like to see David, and hear more about his condition." Tammy said, taking John's hand. "Would you take us to him please?"
"I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that there were other family members." Wilson said. "Only the colonel was listed as a family contact. But Dave rarely talks about his family during his examinations, so I'm not surprised."
He led them down the hall and through a set of double doors. He stopped outside David's room, and they could see him in his bed though the open door. Wilson picked up a chart from a rack on the wall and started flipping through it.
"He regained consciousness briefly following the surgery, but has been in a state of deep sleep since. He's not in a coma, He responds to stimulus, and his brain activity is normal. Basically, he's shut himself down so his body can try to heal itself. It's actually fairly common in patients suffering severe trauma."
"Kelno'reim." Ronin muttered. "I've seen Bra'tac do it."
Wilson glanced at him, then continued.
"We did a double bypass, but that was a life saving effort. We had to restore the flow of blood moving through his heart. That's only going to buy us a few days though. His heart is degrading, and he's going to need a transplant. The problem there is, there are no matching donors on the registry, so we just have to wait for one. Based on the rest of his condition, he's a prime candidate, and is at the top of our list."
"How long before he's in serious danger? Without a transplant, I mean." Tammy asked. She put her hand on John's shoulder, pushing him gently into the room.
"He's in serious danger now, I'm sorry to say." Wilson told her. "There was no sign of this during his last physical, five months ago. And based on what I saw when we did the bypass, his heart is deteriorating rapidly. We're looking at putting him on artificial support in the next seven to ten days."
"Do you have any idea what caused this?" Tammy asked, stepping closer to the doctor and looking down at the chart.
Wilson glanced at her, moving the chart closer to his body, blocking her view.
"Let's take him home." Ronin said quietly. "Jennifer can fix him."
Tammy nodded, then looked at Wilson. "Can he be moved? I mean, can he travel safely?"
"Yes, he's stable enough to travel." Wilson said. "But I don't think you understand what I'm telling you. It doesn't matter where you take him, There are no matching hearts available on the North American registry. We're waiting to hear from Europe and Asia but..."
"I understand what you're saying doctor, I'm a nurse." She told him, holding her hand out for the chart. "But we may have other options that you don't have available. I need you to start whatever paperwork you have to. I'll let you know where we'll be moving him to."
He handed it to her, taken back by her peremptory attitude. He watched as she flipped through it quickly, then handed it back.
"We're going to need copies of that, as well as copies of any testing you've done on him since he was admitted." She told him. "You might as well give us his whole file, our doctor is going to want to see it."
She turned to Ronin. "Tell John what we're going to do, and stay with him."
Ronin nodded and went into the room as she turned and strode down the hall. Wilson caught up to her at the nurses station, stopping when he saw her speaking into a satellite phone.
"I need to speak to the president please." She was saying. "Tell him this is Lady Tammy Ford, of Atlantis."
* * * * *
Tammy stopped Sheppard as he got out of the car and headed for the plane.
"You're not coming with us John." She said as they followed David's gurney toward the plane, then watched it being loaded.
"There's an F-15 in a hanger across the ramp for you and Ronin." She said as she stepped closer and hugged him, then turned and hugged Ronin. "You're cleared to fly supersonic above thirty thousand feet, so get there, do what you have to do, and get back to Cheyenne Mountain. I'll take David to the gate and get him through, and wait for you there."
She smiled as she turned to Ronin.
"You know what to do, Ronin. Don't worry about me, you just look out for John, and make sure you both get back as soon as you can."
"I will." He told her as he watched her jog up the stairs into the plane. "But you be careful. We don't know what can happen here. Keep your shield on, just in case."
"It is." She grinned. "I'm not taking any chances I don't have to."
* * * * *
"There's no room back here." Ronin grumbled as they taxied onto the runway.
"That's the least of your problems." Sheppard said quietly. "It's been a while since I've flown one of these things, and there's no inertial dampeners."
"Whatever." Ronin answered. "Just don't crash."
"I'm just saying..." Sheppard said as he pushed the throttles forward, then kicked in the afterburners.
* * * * *
"Things are worse than we thought, Sam." Tammy said as she unbuckled her seatbelt and stood up, moving over next to David. "John's brother needs a heart transplant, and there are none available."
She paused, listening for a moment, then said. "No, there's no time for that. We're bringing him home with us, Sam. Talk to Jennifer, and tell her to do whatev...yes, that's exactly what I want to do. She said she wan...yes, I'm on my way back to the SGC with him now. We should be there in a little over an hour, tell Jennifer to have her people waiting. I'm going to wait there for John and Ronin, and see if I can do some diplomatic...okay, I'll call you when we get there. I love you too, baby..."
She hung up and tossed the satellite phone on the seat, then leaned over and checked the monitor attached to David's gurney. She made a quick note on the chart, then checked his pulse. She stood looking at him for a moment, then returned to her seat, picked up the phone, and started dialing.
"Sam." Jennifer said, looking up at her from her desk. "Are you alright? Have you heard from John? Why didn't you..."
"I should have called, but I wanted to talk to you in person." Sam said as she sat down. "I heard from Tammy. John's brother's condition is worse than they led him to believe. He didn't just have a heart attack, it appears that there's another problem with his heart, and he needs a transplant."
"What kind of problem? Did they give you any..."
"Tammy forwarded his records." Sam told her, sliding a flash drive across the desk. "She knew you'd need them."
Jennifer took the drive and plugged it into her desktop. She scrolled through the records quickly, frowning as she read.
"He suffering from cytodegeneration of the heart." She said, glancing over at Sam. "That's an umbrella term for the progressive loss of structure or function of cells, including death of the cells. It's fairly rare, and usually caused by exposure to an outside agent."
"Are you saying he was poisoned?" Sam asked.
"What?" Jennifer said, looking up from her terminal. "Oh no, nothing that sinister. Considering that there was no sign of this on his last physical five months ago, and given the current condition of his heart, I'd say that this has been going on for at least three months. It was probably caused by something environmental, maybe some sort of exotic mold."
She looked over at Sam. "We need to tell them that they're going to have to go through his home, or anyplace else he frequents after the transplant, or it's just going to happen again, probably affecting other organs as well."
"That's the problem, Jenn." Sam said, looking at her steadily. "There are currently no matching hearts in North America, so they'll have to wait for..."
"They don't have time for that!" Jennifer said, her face going pale. "At the rate his heart is deteriorating, they'll have to put him on artificial support in two, no more than three days. Once that happens, his viability as a candidate for a transplant starts to go down fast."
"They told Tammy seven to ten." Sam said. "But that's why I'm here. You said that you had been going through the ancients procedures on implanting those prosthetics we found and..."
"You want me to..." Jennifer said, then nodded rapidly. "That makes sense, how soon can they get him here?"
"Tammy is on the way back to the SGC with him now. They should be there in a little over an hour."
"Good." Jennifer said, scratching out notes on a piece of paper. "I need Chuck to find me one of the ancient medical centers. Most of the process for implanting these devices is automated, but we need to find the equipment to do it. Here's a list of the files I found on the process. They describe the equipment, so he should be able to use that." She said, sliding the notes over to Sam.
"I'm going to need training on the equipment, but Susan can help me with that." she said to herself as she got up and moved around the desk. She walked over to the door and stepped out into the infirmary. "Listen up everybody, we have an emergency case coming in, and this is what we're going to do."
Sam watched as she spoke quickly to people as they came over to her, then hurried off in different directions. She smiled as she got up, tapping her comm.
"Carter to Chuck..." She said.
Interior-Medical Center Four, Bldg Thirty-Nine, East Pier
"Dr. Keller, this is Chuck. Respond please." He said as he looked around the surgical suite.
"Go ahead, Chuck." Keller said, stepping away from the teaching machine.
"Yes ma'am. I found your medical center." He told her. "We have power, and I started an auto sterilization procedure that I found in the database. That's going to take about forty minutes to run if I read it right. I sent you the information on it, along with the porter code and a map of the floor this suite is on."
"Thank you, Chuck. I hadn't thought of that." Keller said, glancing over at Susan. "Good thinking, that should save us some time. We're going through the training to implant the heart now, and should be ready in the next half hour or so. Let me know when David gets here, and I'll send someone down for him."
"Yes ma'am, we'll be ready when he gets here. Chuck out."
One of Jennifer's nurses and a technician were waiting at the foot of the ramp when they wheeled David into the gateroom. The nurse checked the status on the monitors attached to the gurney, and looked over at Tammy.
"He's stable, but we need to get him through the gate so we can prep him for surgery." She said. "Dr. Keller will be ready in a couple hours, but wants us to monitor him until she is."
"That's fine." Tammy said. "He woke up briefly on the plane, and I told him that he was being moved to another hospital. He understood, but wasn't strong enough to talk. He went back to sleep after a few minutes, and his vitals have been steady since we left California."
"I'll tell Dr. Keller." She said as she waved the technician over to help her move the gurney. "His waking up is a good sign."
Landry waved six marines over, then turned and looked up at the control room.
"Dial the gate, and send our IDC, Walter."
Moments later, the gate began dialing, and the vortex burst from it.
The marines carried the gurney up the ramp, sitting it down carefully just short of the event horizon.
"Atlantis advises their shield is down, sir." Walter said over the loudspeaker.
The technician stepped up behind the gurney while the nurse took a position beside it. They passed through the event horizon, and a few seconds later, the gate shut down.
"Do you have somewhere I can do a video conference?" Tammy asked Landry as he led her out of the gateroom. "I have some people I need to touch base with if it's not too much of a problem."
"You can use the conference room. I'll make sure you're not disturbed." Landry said as they went up the stairs and into the room. "Just press star, then six-three, and Walter will connect you to anyone you need."
* * * * *
"Hello, Dr. McKay." Tammy smiled when his face appeared on her laptop.
"Who are you? What do you want? I'm a very busy man, and don't have time fo..."
"And you're still an asshole, I see." She said lightly. "I'm Tammy Ford, queen of Atlantis, Sam's sister queen actually."
McKay just stared at her, so she went on.
"Sam and I were wondering, would you like to come home?" She said.
"After what she did to me? The way they treated me?" He said angrily, then stopped abruptly. He looked over his shoulder, then back at the camera. He leaned closer and said, "When?"
"How soon can you get to Cheyenne Mountain?" She laughed.
* * * * *
"Mr. President, I'd like to thank you for everything you've done for us today." Tammy said as Hayes came up on her screen.
"It was my pleasure, your highness." Hayes said with a smile. "It's a nice change of pace to do something we can see immediate results from, especially when it's a humanitarian effort, like this was."
"Before we go any further, can we drop the titles, and just make it Henry and Tammy?" She asked. "I think we'll get along better, and get more done if we just talk to each other, and leave all the fooforah for later."
"That would be fine, Tammy." Hayes said. "How are things progressing on the coronation? I haven't seen my invitation yet, and I'm going to need to clear my schedule..."
"I have no idea Henry, I'm staying out of it." Tammy laughed. "I'm just going to show up, stand where they tell me, and say what they tell me. But I'll ask Andi to get something out to your people when I get home."
She paused, then pressed a key on her laptop as she looked down at the script she had worked out with Sam and Andi.
"I've given Gen. Landry a gate address where you'll find fifteen three-oh-two's, and ten jumpers. You'll need to send pilots to get them, we don't have any to spare at the moment. You'll have to take the jumpers through the gate, they don't have hyperspace capability."
"I'd suggest sending them to the Alpha site. Mr. President." Landry said, his picture popping up beside Hayes. "We can move them as needed from there."
"I'll leave that up to you general." Hayes said, leaning off to one side, then turning back to them.
"We'd also like to send another ten thousand drones, and a shipment of our gene therapy to a gate address you specify." Tammy said before he could speak again. "We'll be sending information on recent discoveries we've made as soon as we get everything together, including research on prosthetic limbs and organs the ancients developed."
"That's very generous of you, Tammy." Hayes said, leaning back in his chair. He looked to the side, then made a gesture of impatience. "But I'm betting that you're going to want something in return?"
"Of course, Henry. I'm sending you and Gen. Landry a shopping list, mostly drugs, and medical supplies we're not able to produce in Atlantis yet." She said, pressing a key on her laptop. "But the real aim behind it is to give you an incentive to formalize relations with us, so we can begin trade in earnest."
"We're making progress on that, as Dr. Samuels has probably told you." He said. "With the countries that comprised the IOA, India, Japan, the European Union, and the industrialized countries of the Asia pacific, we believe that the organization we're bringing together will represent just over seventy percent of Earth's seven billion inhabitants. We'll be meeting next week to work out the final details, and begin working on treaty items."
"So we can expect it to be several more months before you're even close to being ready." She frowned, glancing down at her notes. "You'll have to forgive me, Henry. I'm not used to dealing with a bureaucracy. The people we've reached out to in Pegasus are eager to deal with us."
"As are we." Hayes said. "But given that the stargate program is..."
"That's your problem, Henry. But with the Goa'uld and Ori threats removed in the Milky Way, and the Wraith much less of a threat in Pegasus, you don't really have any reason to conceal the gate's existence any longer." She said. "I'm not saying that you have to make it public, but with the size of the organization you're talking about putting together, it's going to leak out anyway. You might as well get out ahead of that, and save yourself the headaches."
"Do you have any idea of what would happen if we made the stargate public now?" Hayes asked, his face taking on a grim visage. "The panic, rioting in the streets, mass suicides. The turmoil would destroy the worlds economies, and leave millions dead."
"I think you're overstating things, Henry, and not giving people enough credit." Tammy said, shaking her head. "But while I admit, making the gate public will cause you some problems at first, it will help in solving a host of others, overpopulation being one of them."
"We had considered that possibility." Hayes said. "One of the treaty items we'd request would be human settlements in Pegasus..."
"That's not going to happen, Henry. Pegasus has enough problems without bringing in predatory humans from Earth. Like we told the Tok'Ra, you can have the Milky Way. It's actually safer for you there, considering that you already have the Jaffa and Tok'Ra as allies."
"She has a point, Mr. President." Landry said. "Both Teal'c, and Master Bra'tac have told me several times that the Jaffa would assist us in finding worlds suitable for human settlements. The Tok'Ra would also be willing to assist if we ask..."
"This isn't a decision I can make unilaterally, and to be honest, I don't think making the existence of the stargate public to be in our best interests." Hayes said. "Lady Tammy, Gen Landry can provide you with a gate address to send those drones you mentioned to. I'll have someone arrange to send the supplies you're requesting as soon as we can. But if you'll excuse me, I have another meeting I have to attend..."
"Of course, Mr. President." Tammy said. "Thank you again for all your help. Have a good day."
"God, what a putz." Tammy muttered as she closed the connection.
"What did you expect, he's a politician." Landry laughed as he came into the room.
"Have you given any thought to that offer I made you?" She asked, smiling at him.
"If he fires me, I can start next week." He laughed. "If he doesn't, I'm planning on retiring after the first of the year. In the meantime, I took the liberty of ordering us lunch."
Interior-Medical Center Four, Bldg Thirty-Nine, East Pier
Susan looked up from the operating table she was prepping as David was wheeled into the suite.
"Over there." She said, pointing at large, coffin shaped device against one wall. She stepped over and lifted the lid, shaking her head as she looked down into it.
"The procedures say we put him in this thing for at least thirty minutes before we operate." She said as lifted a face mask from a rack and got it seated over David's face.
"What's this thing going to do to him, Susan?" One of the other nurses asked her.
"From what I understand, he's going to be immersed in a bath of nutrient fluid that will also sterilize him. There's an anesthetic component as well." She said as she watched them lift him, then get him settled in the chamber. When they had him situated, she attached a series of leads to his wrists, ankles and neck.
"Those leads will monitor him, and regulate the dose of the anesthetic, which should be absorbed through the skin." She told them as they stepped back. She closed the lid and checked the screen at the foot of the unit as she watched it fill with a pale red liquid. When she was satisfied that it was working properly, she stepped back and started for the door.
"Dr. Keller and I should be back in an hour or so." She said, stopping at the door. "Monitor his status, and call me if there are any problems."
Interior-Dr. George Keller's Home, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
"Yes, can I help you?" Dr. Keller asked, looking at Sheppard and Ronin through the screen door.
"Dr. Keller, I'm John Sheppard, and this is Ronin Dex, we're friends of your daughter, Jennifer. She asked us to deliver a message for her."
"You've spoken to Jennifer?" Keller asked, tears welling up in his eyes, "I haven't heard from her in weeks, and she usually writes every couple of days." He held the door open, waving them inside.
"I'll wait out here." Ronin said.
Sheppard nodded and followed Keller into the house.
"So how is she?" Keller asked, leading him to a couch, then pulling a chair closer.
"She's fine sir. Healthy and happy, and the most wonderful person I know." Sheppard said. He leaned down and pulled a tablet out of his bag. He handed Keller the tablet and said, "Tap the icon in the center of the screen, she can tell you for herself."
Keller took the tablet, and tapped the icon marked 'Daddy'. Jennifer's face appeared on the screen, and after a moment, she began to speak.
"Hi daddy, I'm sorry for not writing, but things have gotten a little strange here. I'm writing you every day, I just haven't been able to mail them to you." She paused, then smiled at the camera. "I'm in love daddy. I met the most wonderful man, the knight in shining armor I always dreamed about. He really is a knight too. Sir John Sheppard, First Knight of the Free City of Atlantis, Commander of the Royal Forces."
Keller looked up at Sheppard, and he nodded.
"I'll explain in a minute." He said, nodding toward the tablet. "Let her finish."
"He's asked me to marry him, daddy." Jennifer continued "We have the permission of the queens, but I told him that he has to have your permission too. So please daddy, say yes. I really do love him, and I know he's going to make me happy."
She smiled at the camera again, and a moment later, the screen went dark.
"She can't be serious." Keller said softly.
"She meant every word she said, sir. and that's why I'm here, to ask for your daughter's hand." Sheppard said. He pulled a thick stack of envelopes from his bag and sat it on the table. "You can read about it in her words later, but I'll try to explain some of it now if you'd like."
"You can try, but I don't know if I'll believe you." Keller said.
"Even if you don't, it's still a good story." Sheppard said with a smile. "Jennifer and I used to work for a top secret government project called Stargate Command. We used a device called a stargate to travel between worlds in the Milky Way galaxy, then to the ancient city of Atlantis, in the Pegasus galaxy..."
Interior-Medical Center Four, Bldg Thirty-Nine, East Pier
"Jesus, I may be out of a job if this get any easier." Jennifer muttered. She looked across the table at Susan. "Are you ready to place the heart, Susan?"
David Sheppard was stretched out on the operating table, his body covered by a glass and metal enclosure. Robotic arms moved around inside, one inserting a probe into a blood vessel, while another trimmed around the edges with a laser.
"Yes ma'am, I'm just waiting for the system to tell me when." Susan said. She had her arms through two holes in the side of the enclosure, and her gloved hands held an artificial heart up out of the way of the arms as they moved about.
A small light began to glow in front of her, and the rib spreader attached to his chest began to move, opening another half inch. Susan watched a screen, rotating the heart slowly as an arm pushed a sleeve back on each of the tubes protruding from the it, while another sprayed a thin film of sealant on the ends of them.
Another light came on in front of her, and she lowered the heart into his chest cavity, rotating it slightly, then holding it in position.
"Let it get the vena cava's sealed, then you can seat it, and move your hands." Jennifer said, watching as the arms slipped the blood vessels over two tubes, then rolled the outer sleeves in place. Other arms clamped around the tubes, sealing the veins to them, then running three rows of stitches around each seam.
Susan eased the heart down, moving her hands back as other sets of arms repeated the process on the aorta, then the pulmonary vein and artery.
When the arms retreated, Jennifer attached a small tube to a valve at the top of the heart, and a moment later, it began pumping. They watched as a blue liquid was pumped through the tube.
"Okay, let's watch for bleeders." She said. "I'm good on this side so far."
"Clear here, doctor." Susan said. "Pressure on the seals is holding at fifty millibars."
After a moment, the heart stopped pumping, and they could see the fluid being suctioned back out of the heart through the tube. Jennifer detached the tube, and turned a locking ring, closing the valve.
More arms came down, shifting the heart as they removed the clamps on the blood vessels.
Two more arms sprayed a sterile solution into the chest cavity, filling it almost completely, then suctioned it out. A light came on in front of Jennifer, and she touched three controls in sequence, and the heart began beating again.
"Coming off life support in thirty seconds." She said, watching the screens in front of her. "Internal monitors show no leaks, pressure steady at thirty millibars."
She looked across the table at Susan and grinned at her.
"Sonofabitch, it works."
"We just finished closing him up, Sam." Jennifer said. "Well, the machines did. All Susan and I did was watch and push a few buttons. Total time from first incision to last stitch was one hour and thirty one minutes. A procedure like this on Earth would have taken over twelve hours."
"How's he doing?" Sam asked, holding her tablet so Andi and O'Neill could see.
"He's in recovery, but his color is good, vitals are steady, and he woke up for a few minutes. The internal sensors show the heart is performing as it should. I'm going to stay with him for the next few hours, just in case."
"Thank you, Jennifer." Sam said, closing the channel. She sat the tablet on the table and looked at Samuels and O'Neill as they moved back to their seats.
"Wow, I didn't expect it to be that fast." She said.
"I don't think Jennifer did either." Andi said. "Ninety minutes for surgery to install an artificial heart. That's almost unbelievable."
"Didn't she call it implanting?" O'Neill asked. "Installing would be Sam here putting new parts in her boytoy."
"Watch it, O'Neill." Sam said, trying not to grin at him.
"You didn't waste any time, did you Rodney?" Tammy said as he came into the conference room.
"I prefer Dr. McKay." He said as he dropped a large duffle bag near the door. "I brought my cat. I hope that's okay. My other one died while I was in Atlantis, but this is one of her kittens, and I'm really attached to him..."
"I prefer Rodney." Tammy said as she turned in her chair to look at him. "I like to call my employees by their first names. If that's going to be a problem, you can go back to Area Fifty-one and do whatever you were doing there."
"No, no, Rodney is fine." He said, sitting a pet carrier on the table. "Can we talk about the job? I was thinking that I should resume..."
"I'm afraid not, Rodney. We already have a chief scientist." She said. "What we had in mind is more of a special projects coordinator, on a probationary basis. We..."
"You've already got...no, don't tell me that Zelen..." He stopped, wincing when he saw her glaring at him. "I'm sorry, it's just that I really liked it in Atlantis, and I want to go back. I..."
"If you'd shut up for a minute, I'll tell you how that can happen." She said.
He nodded, booting up his laptop and pushing it away as he turned to face her.
"We want you to work on some special projects for us, on an as needed basis." She told him. "You'll have limited access to scientific databases related to whatever project you may be working on..."
She stopped when he raised his hand. She nodded, giving him permission to speak.
"You're wasting a tremendous resource. I know more about Atlantis and its systems than anyone else. And I'm one of the foremost authorities on the an..."
He ground to a halt as she shook her head, smiling gently.
"Our city manager, Chuck Campbell, is our resident expert on the city and it's systems. He was one of your Ops technicians. You really should have paid more attention to what he was doing." She said lightly. "Now that he reads the ancient language, he's made quite a few amazing discoveries about the cities systems. I don't think we'll be needing your experience there."
She jotted down several lines of ancient symbols and slid it over to him.
"What's that say?" She asked him in ancient.
"I...I don't know. I can only recognize a few of those symbols. I had to guess what you were saying."
"It says, 'If you can read this, you can have your old job back." She laughed.
"Atlantis has changed in the short time you've been away." She said. "We have an independent government, and have taken in over fifty thousand new citizens who are running the cities factories and workshops. Atlantis has come alive while you've been gone."
She paused, looking at him closely, trying to gauge his reaction.
"What I'm trying to get you to understand Rodney, is that you're going to be playing catch-up, probably for the first time in your life. And you're not going to be the smartest guy in the room anymore."
"I doubt that." He laughed.
"Believe it." She said, grinning at him. "Sam has always been at least your equal, but now she makes you look like a second grader. And I'm not going to embarrass you by telling you what I make you look like. We'll show you when we put you on the teaching machine."
She laughed as he looked at her.
"Now, you're sitting there thinking, there's no way this bitch is as smart as I am." she laughed. "But I've tested in the low one eighties on IQ tests, I hold Masters degrees in Organic Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, earned concurrently from Harvard. I also have a PhD in Pharmacology from Johns Hopkins, where I also did my nursing training. Then there's the training I got from the ancient teaching machines."
"Wow, and you're hot too." He muttered.
"Thank you. But are you beginning to get what I'm telling you? We have a place for you in Atlantis, just not the place your overinflated ego has in mind. If you're willing to do as you're told, and not cause too much trouble...well, it's up to you."
"I...I think I can do that." He said. "But you have something specific in mind, otherwise, you wouldn't have called me."
"You're right, we do. You're still the most knowledgeable person we know of when it comes to Wraith tech. And that's what we want you for, at least to start."
"Wraith tech? Where did you...I mean how..."
"I'll let John and Stephen tell you about how." She said. "But we've been tagging idle hives and cruisers, and we want you to build a control interface so our people can operate them, and bring them into the navy. The second part of the project would be to translate Wraith into a form that we can put into the teaching machines so we can use other Wraith tech as we find it."
The phone in front of her rang, and she pressed the speaker button.
"Gen. Landry asked me to tell you that Col. Sheppard just touched down at Peterson. They should be here within the hour."
"Thank you. Would you just send them in here when they arrive?"
* * * * *
"What are you doing here, Rodney?" Sheppard asked as he came into the room.
"I just hired him to work on that Wraith tech interface we talked about." Tammy said. "How did it go? What did he say?"
"He thought I was nuts for the first hour, but after I had Ronin blow down a couple trees, he was more open to the idea of his little girl is living in another galaxy."
"Ronin? Is that really you?" McKay asked, getting to his feet. "I didn't recognize you. When did you..."
"Good to see you too, doc." Ronin said, shaking hands with McKay. "You coming back to Atlantis?"
"Wait a minute. Who's little girl? What are you two talking about?" McKay asked, letting go of Ronin's hand and looking back and forth between Sheppard and Tammy.
"You haven't heard?" Ronin laughed, slapping Sheppard on the back. "He's gonna get married."
"Married? To who?"
Sheppard looked at him uncomfortably, then said, "Jennifer."
"It didn't start till after you left." Sheppard told him.
"But still...I..." He noticed Tammy looking at him and stopped. "I...I should congratulate you. I hope you'll be happy together."
"Thanks, Rodney." Sheppard said.
"I think we should get out of here before someone changes their mind about letting us." Tammy said. "I know Sam's probably going nuts, and I'm starting to get hungry."
"God yes, I'm starving." McKay said.
"Luuuuuccccyyy, I'm hoooooommme!" Tammy yelled as she stepped off the porter.
Seconds later, Sam came running from the kitchen and slammed into her, almost knocking the wind from her.
"Oh thank god you're safe. I was so scared." Sam said, hugging her tightly.
"What the hell?" McKay muttered.
Sam looked over her shoulder, noticing him for the first time.
"Oh...you." She said, letting go of Tammy and turning to face him. "We need to get a few things straight before we do anything else, Rodney. I have never, and I mean ever, found you the least bit attractive. I've always thought you were an arrogant, self important little shit, and I while I knew you were sneaky, I never imagined that you were a snitch."
She stepped closer to him, but he stood his ground.
"That hurt me Rodney, hearing that you were going behind my back, and reporting to the IOA. Don't try to deny it, I ready your emails."
"I'm not going to deny it." He replied. "I did what I thought was in the best interest of the expedition. I doubt if you noticed, but you were getting pretty flaky the last couple months before all this happened. I was doing my job, Sam. And if you read those mails, you know that it was all facts, I never said anything mean spirited."
"Okay, I'll give you that." Sam said.
She glanced over toward the small bedroom, noticing Boris by the door.
"Boris, what are you doing over there, baby? Come give mama a hug. That's a good boy."
Boris came over and she hugged him lightly, then turned him to face McKay.
"Rodney, this is Boris. He's..."
McKay held out his hand and Boris grasped it. McKay jerked his hand away quickly, shaking it in pain.
"He shocked me!" He groaned, dancing in circles. "Sonofabitch, that really hurt!"
"Like I tried to tell you, he's an android." Sam grinned.
She turned and looked at Boris. "Disengage protection protocol, Boris."
"An android? You mean like a replicator?" McKay asked, backing away. "Why would you build something like that?"
"He's their sexbot." Jennifer said as she came down the hall.
"Really? You can do that?" McKay asked, looking at Sam.
"Relax, Rodney, He's not a replicator, he's an android, a precursor to the replicators in the ancients research." Sam told him. She looked over at Keller. "How did you get up here, Jenn? They didn't call up and say you were coming."
"I had Ronin tell them to let the court and senior staff pass tonight." Tammy said. "I figured we had company, and people were going to want to see him. Should I call down and tell them to start screening again?"
"No, that's fine. But if we're going to have a party, don't you think we should move over to the dining room?"
"No, let's stay here, Sam." Tammy said, coming over and putting her arms around her. "I've been away from you all day, and I want to spend time with you and our friends here, at home."
Interior-Medical Center Four, Bldg Thirty-Nine, East Pier
"John?" David said softly, his hand squeezing Sheppard's. "Wh...what are you doing here? What's happening."
"Shhhh, don't talk. You had surgery today, and you need to rest." John said. "They called me, and I came. You're going to be alright now."
Ronin stepped from the room and called Jennifer as he went over to the nurses desk.
"He's awake." He told the nurse. "I already paged Jennifer."
"Is he in pain?" She asked as she stood up and came around the desk.
"I don't know." He said, following her back into the room.
"Mr. Sheppard, are you in pain?"
David nodded, tightening his grip on John's hand.
"Dr. Keller will be here in a minute, and we'll get you som..."
The doors opened, and Jennifer came in pulling on a pair of gloves.
Sam and Tammy came in behind her, stopping at the door to stand next to Ronin.
"David, I'm Dr. Keller. I performed the surgery on you this afternoon." She said, looking at the monitors next to the bed. "Do you understand me?"
"I want you to close your eyes, I need to turn up the lights so I can look at your chest." She told him. "We'll give you more information tomorrow when you're feeling better, okay?"
David nodded again, closing his eyes.
Jennifer turned up the lights over the bed, pulling the sheets down to his waist. Grasping the corners of the bandage, she pulled it down quickly, making him wince.
"Did you have to do that?" John asked.
"Yes, it hurts less that way. Now be quiet or leave." She said as she leaned close, pressing on the skin around the incision with her fingers.
"The incision in your chest looks very good, David. There's no bleeding, and you're beginning to heal nicely. It's already scabbing over." She told him, moving the bandage back into place. "I'm going to turn the lights back down now."
"I know you're in pain, and we'll give you something in a minute." She said gently, grasping his hand. "I need you to tell me if you're feeling a lot of pain, or a moderate amount."
She turned and looked at the nurse.
"Helen, we want Demerol, three cc's by IV."
She turned back to David.
"Where is the pain, David? Is it deep, or closer to the surface? And is it in the center or off to one side?"
"Center. Clo...close to sur..."
"Good, that's where it's supposed to be." She told him. "It hurts there because we had to separate your rib cage to work on your heart. It's going to hurt for three or four days before it starts getting better. I'm sorry, but we'll help you with the pain."
David nodded, looking over at John.
"She's going to take good care of you, Dave. I know, she's my personal physician." John told him.
"You wish." Jennifer said as she watched the nurse inject the medications into the IV tube.
"You should start feeling less pain in about a minute, David." She said, leaning close to him. "I want you to try to sleep. It's the best thing for you. Your body needs rest to heal."
He nodded, closing his eyes.
She turned to the nurse and started giving her instructions.
"Stay with him for the next half hour. If he's not asleep by then, give him a half a cc of Ambien IV. Repeat the Demerol every two hours. If there's any problems, page me. I'll update his chart before I leave."
She walked around the bed and stood next to Sheppard.
"We'll give you a couple minutes, but we need to let him sleep." She said gently. "Say good night. I'll wait for you outside."
He nodded, and she stepped back and walked over to the doors. Sam, Tammy and Ronin followed her out.
* * * * *
Jennifer was still writing on his chart when John came out of the room. He came up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist and kissing her lightly on the neck.
"Thank you." He whispered.
"It's my job, John." She said, turning around in his arms. She put her arms around him, turning her head up for a kiss. "But I'm glad we could help him, I really am. I want to get to know my future brother-in-law."
O'Neill grinned at them as the elevator doors opened.
"Hi kids." He said, holding out a tray of shot glasses. "You're late for the party."
"No thanks, general." John said. "We had something to take care of."
"I heard. How's he doing?"
"He's much better." Jennifer said. "Those ancient machines did a better job, alot faster than I ever could. But I'm really glad we had something that could help him."
"So am I." O'Neill said softly. "I'll say a prayer for him John, we all will." He grinned again and added. "But for now, let's go see what everyone is up to!"
They followed him down the hall, stopping as they entered the living room. All their friends were standing or sitting around the room, talking and laughing, enjoying each others company.
Jennifer leaned back into John, looking up at him as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"Do you want to tell them?" She asked. "This looks like it might be a good time."
He smiled down at her, then looked out across the room.
"Friends," He said, raising his voice over the din. "If I could have your attention for a moment, Jennifer and I have an announcement to make."
"We already know you're getting married, John." Caldwell laughed. "Tammy told us that you went to see her father to get his consent."
"I'm pregnant." Jennifer said, bringing the laughter to a halt.
"So, this is going to be a shotgun wedding?" O'Neill said after a moment, bringing the room back to life.
Teyla looked up at Caldwell, and he nodded.
"I too, am with child." She said
"Good god, what have you people been doing while I've been gone?" McKay asked, looking back and forth between Teyla and Jennifer.
"And he claims to be a genius." Sam said from the couch, leaning over to kiss Tammy.
She turned and looked at Jennifer.
"Jenn, we'd like to come by in the morning, and have you get us started too, if that's not asking too much."
"That's fine, Sam." Jennifer smiled. "Just call me in the morning. The embryos are ready, so it should only take a few minutes."
"Now we really have something to celebrate." Andi said, raising her glass. "To the next generation of Atlantis, may they build on what we've begun."
"I had a really nice time tonight." Tammy whispered, snuggling closer and hugging Sam tighter to her. "Can you believe it? Teyla and Jennifer both pregnant already? Jacob's going to have lots of little brothers and sisters to grow up with."
"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Sam asked, pushing her over onto her back and sliding up on top of her. She moved lazily up and down over Tammy, letting their breasts brush against each others as her leg slipped between Tammy's. "I'm scared, not about doing it, or if he'll be healthy, but if I'm going to be a good mom or not..."
"You're going to be a great mom." Tammy laughed, rolling over suddenly, her hands pinning Sam's to the bed. "Now shut up and let's make love. We can pretend we're getting each other pregnant."
"Sounds like a plan..." Sam moaned, responding eagerly to Tammy's kisses.
So ends Chapter Five of Book Three, Changes. Read Chapter Six to see what happens next.
Please leave a comment on whether you like the story or not...getting feedback helps in the writing process...
May 17, 2018 in romance