Word Count: 1960
Archive?: Ask me first. Thanks.
Pairings: None (thought a bit of unrequited Zelenka/OC. Radek's completely clueless about it!)
My first SGA fic, centering on two of my favorite characters, Evan Lorne and Radek Zelenka. I was thrilled to see Lorne as an artist in “Sunday”, since I'm also a painter.
Please R&R, thanks.
One“Team Two, this is Team One, report.”
Major Evan Lorne raised a hand and his team stopped. He tapped his earpiece and replied, “This is Lorne. We're heading into Sector Twenty-Three A.”
Colonel John Sheppard's tone was amused, even more than usual, as he asked, “Find anything interesting?”
Evan glanced up at Doctor Radek Zelenka. The Czech engineer scowled at his computer tablet and muttered under his breath. Lorne had worked with Radek long enough to recognize a few Czech expletives. This time, Radek uttered a whole string of them. Evan sighed; he didn't blame Radek one bit.
“Not really, unless you count empty storage rooms and a waste disposal unit.” Evan smothered a grin at more grumbling from Radek. The Marine escort overheard the dark tone and unobtrusively kept their distance. Funny, Evan thought, and I thought they were skittish around McKay.
And speaking of.. . “McKay's picked up something...looks like another one of those Ancient laboratories. We're going to check it out. Keep in radio contact, Major.”
“Will do, sir. Lorne, out.” Privately, he hoped McKay would keep himself out of trouble. Really bad things tended to happen when the Canadian pushed buttons he wasn't supposed to.
Radek echoed Evan's thought. “Rodney and Ancient laboratories. I hope nothing awful will happen...again.”
“Colonel Sheppard will make sure he doesn't get into too much trouble,” Evan reassured him. Mentally, he added, I hope. Aloud, he asked, “What's up next, Doc?”
Radek indicated the next building with a lift of his chin. “There. I am detecting a faint energy reading.”
“All right, let's get a move on.” He and his team headed in that direction with a sense of purpose. It had been a while since any of Atlantis's teams had explored any new parts of the city. Evan wondered what kind of secrets Atlantis still held, though he had a healthy sense of caution about any leftover Ancient artifacts.
To Evan's amusement, so did Radek. The scientist didn't object to the Marine escort around them, and in fact, had insisted on taking a medic along for the day. Radek kept one eye on his scanner as he spoke to Doctor Marta Cezivic in hushed tones. Cezivic nodded and responded in their native language. Evan would have described them as being 'cute' together, but he'd never dare saying it aloud to either of them.
They rounded a corner and ended up at the entrance to a plaza. “Major?” called Sergeant Van Maarten. “Look at this. It is remarkable!”
Evan nodded and gave a low whistle. “Yeah.” The plaza was enclosed on two sides by an intricately carved stone wall. The ground was covered in tiled mosaics, each piece inset with a loving hand and a precise eye. Stone benches dotted the plaza and a marble fountain dominated the center of it. There was no water in it now; the bottom of it shone green in the sunlight.
“Beautiful,” breathed Cezivic. “A little piece of paradise in the city.”
Radek grunted in agreement, but he seemed more interested in the energy reading. He brought his scanner to a niche in the wall. “Here is the control to the entrance gates. Major, if you would be so kind...?”
Evan nodded and swept his hand over the niche. The security control responded to his ATA gene and a seam cracked open in the wall. He pushed it open and nodded at Van Maarten. Together, the two entered the plaza, with the rest of the Marine contingent behind them. As soon as they secured the area, Evan waved at Radek, Marta, and the rest of the scientists to follow.
“I visited a Roman villa once,” Cezivic murmured, “and these mosaics remind me of the ones on the villa's walls. Look at them, it seems as if they were newly made!”
“Not a single trace of age,” Evan agreed. He tilted his head to see the mosaics better. Each section seemed to be a small part of an ocean scene. Whoever had made this had a good sense of color and balance; Evan's mother, an art teacher, would have loved seeing this.
Corporal Tenney waved at them from across the plaza. Evan nodded and caught up with the rest of the team. Radek and Doctor Zeina El Hamra were taking readings from a door of an adjacent building. El Hamra smiled at him and pointed at the symbols etched into the doorframe.
“What's it say?” Evan asked her.
“It's not clear, but it seems to be an important site for the Ancients. Some sort of repository.”
“Like an archive?”
“Perhaps. I'll try to translate this further.” El Hamra sounded distracted as she compared the letters to the ones on her tablet.
Tenney traded glances with Evan; at the Major's nod, Tenney and Van Maarten quietly organized a protective perimeter around the scientists. The military escort slipped into their roles with long practice. Evan watched with a sense of pride. Colonel Sheppard would be proud of 'em.
“Sheppard to Lorne.”
Evan tapped his com. Someone on Sheppard's end of the line was mad about something. McKay. “Go ahead.”
“McKay's found some strange database that isn't connected to the main Atlantis system. Looks like we're gonna be a while.”
“Somebody's private notes?”
“Maybe. The whole thing's encrypted. Whoever programmed it didn't want their information to be found. Doctor Sanchez thinks it's a detailed inventory of what's in the lab, but McKay thinks it's more involved than that. They're arguing about it right now.”
Evan resisted a smile. “So that's the bickering I'm hearing in the background.”
Before Sheppard could say anything else, Ronon's aggrieved voice boomed over the link. “I'm gonna go out into the hall and check out the next room. Call me when they're finished arguing.”
Evan suppressed a snort of laughter at Sheppard's exasperated sigh. There were times when the colonel's team acted like a bunch of rowdy schoolchildren. “We're in a plaza next to one of the buildings in the northeast sector. You should see these mosaics; they're impressive.”
“That from a soldier's or an artist's perspective?”
“Both, actually.” Sheppard was one of the few people who knew about his artistic endeavors. It wasn't something Evan advertised aloud. “Zelenka's checking out the source of an energy reading in one of the nearby buildings---”
Suddenly, the inscriptions around the doorframe began to glow, a shimmering blue. Radek swore and took a step back, bumping into El Hamra, who jumped as if he'd given her an electric shock.
“What the---” Van Maarten shouted.
“Get away from the door!” Evan yelled. A wave of energy passed over his skin. The metal of his rifle became white-hot and his fingers jerked as they reflexively dropped it. He cursed as he lost hold of his weapon and as the screech of a fried comm circuit nearly deafened him.
The door rippled as if it were made of water; it reminded him of the Stargate. A blast of white light erupted from its center, barely missing El Hamra and Van Maarten. Radek shouted as he shoved Cezivic out of the way of the beam. It overwhelmed Evan and he tried to fight the overwhelming force pulling at him, but to no avail.
“Do prdele!” Radek swore, before the roar swamped Evan's senses. It was the last thing Evan heard before the light faded into blackness.
“Lorne? Lorne?” John Sheppard yanked out his earpiece as feedback reverberated into his ear. “Son of a---” His legs buckled under him and only Teyla's reflexes saved him from an embarrassing spill onto the floor.
“Are you all right?” she asked him.
“Yeah...I think. Worse than the speakers at a Stones concert,” he muttered.
“I'll explain later.” He managed a smile at her and straightened under her grasp. “Rodney? You okay?”
“I'm fine...fine,” Rodney snapped, as he shook his right hand and blew on his fingers, “considering I nearly got electrocuted!”
“Where'd that come from?” Doctor Emilia Sanchez asked as she frantically tried to save her translation of the database. A panel next to her sparked and she nearly jumped in Rodney's way.
“Careful!” he told her brusquely. The lights in the Ancient lab faded out and left the room in darkness. A minute later, a soft glow illuminated the various consoles as the emergency power kicked in. “There was a surge in the power grid, and everything's out in this sector of the city. Transporters, lights, everything. I'm trying to reestablish our connection---”
“Sheppard!” It was Ronon, from the adjoining hall.
John and Teyla looked at each other, then made their way to the door. The Satedan stood a few meters away, his blaster pointed at a glowing figure at the end of the corridor. Two other Marines trained their P-90s at the unexpected visitor as well, but it made no reaction to the firepower zeroed in on it.
“Came out of nowhere,” Ronon told Sheppard, “just as the lights went out.”
No one said anything for a few moments. The light obscured its features, but it was definitely humanoid. It inclined its head at them, as if asking a question.
“It is curious,” Teyla whispered. “It wants to know what we are going to do.”
“Hold your fire,” John ordered quietly. He nodded at Ronon, and the two approached the figure, still training their weapons on it. The figure raised a hand as if in warning; John and Ronon stopped in their tracks.
Then John heard three distinct words in his head: “No, not you.”
The figure seemed to shrink into itself, then disappeared with an audible pop. It didn't appear again. Ronon scowled, but didn't lower his weapon a fraction.
“That was weird,” John said to no one in particular. “It didn't stick around. What was that?”
“Dunno,” Ronon rumbled. “It said---”
“'No, not you',” Teyla finished. Her delicate brows knit together in thought. “What did it mean by that?”
One of the Marines looked back at her, confusion on his face. “It said something?”
She glanced at him. “You did not hear it?”
The Marine shook his head. “No, ma'am.”
The lights flickered back on, feebly at first, then back to full strength. They all heard Rodney's frustrated sputter from the lab behind them.
“Rodney?” Sheppard asked, glancing over his shoulder at the Canadian.
“I didn't do anything this time!” Rodney snapped back. “The power came back on by itself. We've got communications back---”
Carson Beckett's voice broke into the channel. The Scotsman was obviously in the middle of a conversation with one of his medics. “We're almost there, Marta. Continue to apply pressure to Sergeant Van Maarten's head wound----”
Marta Cezivic's tone was professional as she spoke to her boss, but John Sheppard could hear the tremble in the medic's voice. “Major Lorne and Doctor Zelenka were in front of the building...but they've disappeared!”
Warm air blew upon his face and it brought the fresh smell of wildflowers. Evan struggled to open his eyes, but exhaustion tugged them closed. Just a couple of more minutes, he told himself. I'll get up in a couple of more minutes.
A soft voice called, “Evan, it's time to get up. Come on, sleepyhead. I've got the canvases and the paints packed in the car. If we don't get moving, we'll miss the sunrise.”
“Mom, just a few more minutes, okay?”
“Up, Evan. Now.”
He groaned and struggled up to a sitting position. Instead of finding himself under a quilt in his mother's house, he was lying in a dimly lit room. Memories slowly filtered through his brain. He and his mother had found an amazing view of the ocean; they'd spent hours painting on their canvases, side by side. Neither of them talked much, and neither shared their artwork until they were finished. It had always amazed him how two people could take the same view and come up with two different interpretations of it.
Those times had been some of the best of his childhood.
Evan blinked as the present time materialized around him. He sat in the middle of a circular room, with a door set into the wall directly in front of him. The faint light sparkled on the carpet; he took a closer look and saw the thin filaments of gold and silver running through the fabric. Every other room in Atlantis he'd been in had bare floor, so this was unusual.
“Hello? Doctor Zelenka? Doctor Cezivic? Sergeant Van Maarten? Anyone?” His voice echoed in the small chamber, but there was no response.
Evan reached for the flashlight on his belt, but it wasn't there. He scowled as he made another disturbing discovery: his P-90 and its spare ammunition were also missing. He still had his canteen and a couple of Powerbars stuffed into his jacket, so at least he wasn't going to starve or die of thirst anytime soon. The pieces of his radio mike were strewn on the carpet behind him.
“That's just great. I'm stuck in here.”
The only way to go was forward, so he got to his feet and headed towards the door. The lights came on and he saw the room clearly for the first time. Its walls were painted a light shade of blue, with faint white swirls running through like wisps of fog. The line of curves led his eye to a line of pedestals that stood along the entire perimeter of the chamber. Tiny pieces of tile were inset into the edge of the pedestals, but nothing had been set on top of them.
“Strange,” Evan murmured. “I wonder what---” His foot depressed a square in the floor and a bright spotlight shot past him. The light brightened to the point where he had to shield his eyes with his hand, and when it faded, the image of a beautiful woman stood in front of him. She wore a long white gown adorned with a rose pink sash around her slender waist. The exotically slanted eyes reminded Evan a bit of Teyla Emmagan.
“Who are you?”
The woman smiled gently at him. “My name is Nadriya. Be welcome to my humble space. I am the owner of this wonderful collection.”
“Owner?” he repeated. He looked over at the now-empty pedestal. “Of what?”
Nadriya didn't seem to hear him, but the amber-gold eyes flashed a warning. “You have been granted a special dispensation to enter these rooms. The treasures here come from a variety of worlds, a variety of cultures, some of which, unfortunately, no longer exist. If you are here, you must know that no word of this should ever reach the Council's ears. Ever. So I invite you to look, to take in the beauty that once was, and to remember.
.“Wait! There aren't any---”
The image of Nadriya disappeared, leaving the room again in semi-darkness. Evan frowned and looked around the empty room. If this is supposed to be the Ancients' equivalent of a treasure vault, where is the treasure? And why was she so determined not to let the other Ancients know about it?
He made a slow circuit of the room, looking in the corners and crevices, around and over the pedestals. There wasn't even a trace of dust, which struck him as really odd. Evan came face to face with a pedestal at about eye level.
“Huh,” he said aloud. “This isn't tile set into the edge of this. It's a single strip of something like paua shell.” It certainly fit the room's ocean theme. He ran a thumb along the surface of the strip and felt a sudden jolt through his body.
An elaborate clay pot materialized in front of him. It was decorated with delicate gold lines and glossy red paint, with an unknown script running around its handle. Evan gasped, for he'd never seen anything like it. The paints were as vibrant as the day they were mixed. The pot had been lovingly made by a true artisan's hand.
He ran a gentle finger along the edge of the pot to find it solid under his touch. There was a symbol etched into the top of the handle: an upside down “V” with a dot in the middle. It reminded Evan of the Stargate symbol. His finger brushed it, then...
Pain drove him to his knees and his vision clouded with agony. When he was able to see again, he saw the brief flash of red-orange flame and felt a wash of heat pass over his skin. Sounds of battle rang all around, women and children screaming, men crying out to their gods. Evan stumbled forward and his knee hit a piece of brick. He managed to turn his head to see several others strewn around, along with shards of smashed pottery.
A kiln. Someone's destroyed the pottery kiln. The knowledge became clear: the potter's village had been attacked and destroyed. By whom? The Wraith? Nadriya had hinted that some of the cultures from where the treasure came no longer existed. Whoever the potter had been, he or she was long dead.
Yes, yes, you. You will see and you will remember.
Evan saw a blur of movement to his right, then a heavy object crashed into the back of his head. The fact that he immediately lost all control of his body was a very bad sign. He couldn't stop himself from pitching face-forward into the dirt, and something sticky began to flow across his cheek.
Oh, crap...was his last thought before darkness claimed him.
“Major, Major Lorne! Can you hear me?”
He tried to make sense of the voice, but it spoke in a language he didn't know. Cool water passed across his lips and it helped chased away the cobwebs in his head. “Gotta quit passing out,” he muttered. “This is starting to get old.”
“Thank God. I was beginning to really worry whether or not you were going to wake up.”
Evan managed to open his eyes and saw Doctor Radek Zelenka kneeling over him. The Czech's glasses were sitting crookedly on his nose, and there was a fresh bruise on his left cheek. “Doc? What happened? You okay?”
“Bruised black and blue, no broken bones though.” Radek pushed himself up to a sitting position and Evan could now see the faint outline of his flyaway hair in the dim light. “Got sucked in through the front door. Whatever has brought us here has stripped us of anything useful.”
“Lost your equipment too?”
“All I have are my glasses.” The scientist's tone was both sarcastic and darkly humorous at the same time, and Evan couldn't help but chuckle. “I got the water from your canteen.”
“Thanks.” Evan tried to get up, but Radek gently pushed him back against the wall. “I guess I hit my head somewhere and you found me sprawled on the floor?”
“Basically, yes. You must have struck your head hard enough to open a cut; it was difficult to clean and bandage it, but luckily, it's stopped bleeding.” Radek sighed. “If Carson were here, he'd probably say you have a concussion.”
Evan reached behind him and found a bulky bandage at the back of his head. “Did a good job there, Doc.”
Radek blushed. “I found your medkit in your jacket. Spent several years in the Czechoslovakian army, before the liberation. I know how to field dress wounds.”
“Then I'm lucky you're around.” A hint of memory tried to break through to the surface, something about a clay pot, but he couldn't remember it. He sighed and let it go. “I take it we're cut off from the rest of the team?”
“Yes. We've both lost our radios.”
“Great.” Evan carefully turned his head to find himself and Radek in another circular room, this time devoid of any furniture. The effort was too much and he closed his eyes. Reality seemed to shift again and he floated above it, as if he was in a tank of warm water.
“Major! Don't close your eyes! You have to stay awake!”
But Evan didn't hear him at all as the world fell away again.
Elizabeth Weir didn't leave the main tower very often, but once Colonel Sheppard had told her what happened, she accompanied them to to where Major Lorne and Doctor Zelenka had vanished. She glanced down at Rodney McKay, who was taking energy readings of the door itself. He didn't look up at her until she spoke to him.
“Rodney?” she asked.
“Nothing yet. There's some sort of forcefield that's blocking our Life Detection Sensors, so there's no way of telling if Lorne and Zelenka are all right. I think they tripped some kind of security system.”
“Could Lorne's ATA gene have triggered it? Is that why he was taken?”
“Maybe, but Zelenka's gone too, and he doesn't have the gene,” Rodney pointed out in a brittle tone. “It could have been simple as just proximity, that they were the closest to the door.”
“Keep working on it, Rodney.” Elizabeth gazed at the scientist for a moment; McKay was worried, but as usual, he hid it under a brusque manner. She could see the tension in his features, hear the concern under the angry bluster. Of course, Rodney would never admit being worried for his second-in-command.
Carson Beckett approached her and she nodded at the doctor. “How's Van Maarten?”
“Just a wee bit of a bump on the head. He got the worst of it; the others have mostly minor bruises, but Marta did a good job.” Carson looked over at Cezivic, who was next to El-Hamra at the doorway. “Any sign of 'em?”
“No, but Rodney's working on it.” Elizabeth looked over at Cezivic; the woman's eyes were puffy and red, as if she'd been crying. “Is Marta all right?”
Carson hesitated, then answered in a low voice. “She's having a rough time of it. Radek pushed her out of way of the beam that swept him and Major Lorne into the building. I think she feels guilty.”
“That it should've been her that was taken, and not Radek?”
Carson nodded. “I believe she has something of a sweet spot for him, but of course, you didna hear it from me.”
She smiled, despite the circumstances. Carson picked up on little details like that, but he would never tell a soul. “Of course, Carson. I won't tell her. I'd better make sure she's all right.” She joined Doctor Cezivic at the doorway to the building and immediately was intrigued by the elaborate inscription there. Cezivic gave her a tremulous smile as she approached.
“Doctor Weir! I am glad to see you!”
“I came as soon as I could, Marta. When Colonel Sheppard told me about the inscription, I thought I'd take a look for myself.” She turned to El-Hamra. “Have you made any progress?”
El-Hamra nodded as she handed Elizabeth her tablet. “The ornamentation is part of the message. Quite clever, actually. I missed it the first time, but once I realized what it was, it was easier to understand.”
“What does it say?” asked John Sheppard. The colonel had come up silently to stand next to Elizabeth.
“It's not clear, but it seems to be a private dwelling of some sort. The inscription has a string of numbers and letters, then the word 'Nadriya'.”
John's brow furrowed as he said slowly, “You mean like a street address?”
“I think it may be, Colonel. This 'Nadriya' may have been the owner of this dwelling. There is more writing, Doctor Weir, but I haven't had time to translate it. It's quite complex. I would appreciate your assistance.”
Elizabeth nodded and followed El-Hamra to where a second inscription had been chiseled into the wall. As she began to examine it, she heard Cezivic murmur, “He saved my life.”
“I said, 'he saved my life'.”
“No, Radek. If he hadn't pushed me out of the way---” Cezivic was close to tears, though she tried to hide them. Elizabeth reached over and patted her on the shoulder.
“We'll get him back, Marta. We'll get him back.”
Cezivic managed a smile at her, then turned back to talk to Carson. Elizabeth traded looks with John, who only nodded agreement, then she refocused on the job ahead of her. The inscription did include letters and numbers, and the name “Nadriya” appeared several times. The second set of symbols appeared much newer than the ones around the doorway. Elizabeth frowned, read it several times, then double-checked her translation.
“It's some sort of repository, a clearinghouse for objects no one wanted anymore.”
John's eyes narrowed. “You mean like an Ancient junk shop?”
“More like an antique store,” El-Hamra said. “or a highly specialized museum.”
John's brow furrowed in thought. “Lorne told me his mom used to teach art and that she used to drag him along on her trips. You think that could be the reason why he got sucked in there?”
“Makes sense,” Elizabeth said slowly. “But then, what about Radek?”
Suddenly, Rodney shouted a warning and waved his arms. “It's glowing again! Get away from the door!”
“Take cover!” John yelled as he grabbed Elizabeth's arm. The three of them retreated back a safe distance on the plaza and joined Rodney and Carson behind a row of marble benches. The Ancient writing seemed to flare brightly in the sunshine, then expand outward, like a soap bubble being blown from a pipe. It stretched to encompass the area where they'd been standing before Rodney's warning, then stopped abruptly, as if it had hit a wall.
Elizabeth shaded her eyes with her hand. Deep within the light was a shadowed figure of a woman. It looked directly at her, and Elizabeth shivered at the malevolence of that gaze. Then she heard a voice in her head, like the chime of bells.
“No, not you. You are like the others. You take and take and take, and never give. One day, you will reap the seeds of your arrogance.” The figure turned and walked back towards the doorway, then the light faded into nothingness.
“It was that voice again,” Rodney sputtered. “She said, 'No, not you. What the hell does that mean?”
“'You take and take and take and never give. One day, you will reap the seeds of your arrogance.'” John repeated the quote. “I wonder who's she referring to. The Ancients?”
Elizabeth shivered again. It made sense; many of the Ancients had believed in their inherent superiority, even if it wasn't true. “Maybe. But why?”
Cezivic touched her arm. “Doctor Weir, we're missing someone. Doctor Beckett is gone.”
“Carson?!” Elizabeth whirled around. An open medkit was left where he'd been, with its contents scattered all over the pavilion. She met John and Rodney's horrified expressions. “Oh no. She's taken him too.”