Title: Hollow Bones
Series: Sunvae Synergy
Series Order: 2
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Genre: Alternate Universe
Relationship(s): John Sheppard/Tony DiNozzo
Content Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 9,188
Summary: When his mother died when he was eight, and his gifts had tried to come online in the wake of that tragedy, some psionic force stopped them, and the Sentinel and Guide Center labeled Anthony Dinozzo damaged. When he was thirty-eight and his partner Caitlin Todd was gunned down right next to him he learned they were wrong. He wasn’t damaged, it just wasn’t time yet. His Sentinel was out there somewhere but he wasn’t ready for the full measure of his gifts. But ready or not, their paths are about to cross in the most unlikely of places.
Dr. Samantha Grimm squirreled herself away in a small lab the Daedalus crew had set up for her, which is where Tony found her. He’d had first looked in the space they had co-opted and turned into an office for the trip. And then the ship’s mess hall because the Grimm’s could pack a meal away. Tony remembered that from the year he had worked with Sam on a case at Eielson AFB. Tony was working with AFOSI and Sam with some scientists on a new discovery out on the ice.
They’d been out there so long that Samantha’s brother John visited for a few days. Tony had never seen two people eat so much at one time. John told him it was a genetic quirk, but he said it in that way that told Tony that there was an inside joke there.
“Here you are.” Tony leaned against the door-frame. Sam was examining something in the microscope she’d appropriated from the medical staff and didn’t even acknowledge him for a minute.
“There’s something weird here,” Sam said as she looked up from the slide she’d been examining.
“Samantha.” Tony sighed. “We have spent the last seventeen days going through every report that came out of Atlantis in their first contact with Earth. There’s a lot that’s weird in those reports.”
Sam snorted. “True. But some of Dr. Beckett’s information is extremely clear and concise.”
Tony nodded. “He is a research doctor.”
“Right. So I don’t understand how, if he was really trying to create an artificial ATA gene, he didn’t realize the ramifications to latents.”
“There’s something there that tells you it should have been obvious?” Tony asked curiously. “We’re not even on Atlantis yet, so we don’t have access to his actual research, or the personnel there.”
“No. But there are a few gene carriers on this ship, not to mention a few latents, both sentinel and guide, including yourself.”
“You can’t use me in an experiment.” Tony reminded her.
“No, I know. Your results are too unpredictable.” She agreed. “However, Steven agreed to let me take a sample of his blood for examination. Lt. Marks, and Drs. Randolf and Masterson also allowed me to look at their blood.”
“Right. Caldwell is an online Sentinel, no gene, that we’re aware of. Marks is an online guide with the gene, Randolf is a latent guide with the gene, Masterson has the gene but no Sentinel and guide genetics that we’re aware of.”
“Precisely. Not exactly a perfect test, since the sample size is so small, but it’s enough for me to really look at the differences and similarities.”
“And?” Tony asked. He wasn’t an idiot but his degrees were not in biology or genetics.
“There’s a protein marker in all four samples. It’s stronger in Marks than the others, but they all have it to some degree.”
“Okay.” Tony nodded. “And what about mundanes, with no gene?”
“I took a sample from Dr. Novak to use as a control,” Sam said.
“Did she have the protein marker?”
“No, not even trace amounts.”
Tony thought about that for a minute. That sounded like it connected the ATA gene and the gene for Sentinel and Guide abilities. While that was probably a huge discovery, for someone, he wasn’t sure how relevant it was to the purpose of the trip.
“There’s no way an expert in genetics like Carson Beckett didn’t notice this protein marker. So, I have to wonder how he didn’t realize that turning on a person’s ATA gene would also turn on their sentinel and guide abilities, or at least give them a path to do so.”
“Weir to Colonel Sheppard.”
John sat back in his chair and tapped his radio as he looked across his desk at Major Lorne. They were going over some reports and making some personnel adjustments. “Sheppard here.”
“I’d like to see you in my office.”
John raised an eyebrow at Lorne. There was something in her voice that seemed a little off.
“On my way.” John looked at the files they still needed to go through and frowned. “Do you mind continuing this while I go see what this is about?”
“No, sir. I’ll just be here, reviewing these.” Lorne smiled slightly before going back to his reading.
John laughed and left, heading towards the control room and Elizabeth’s office.
He ran into Rodney, and his two spirit-guide shadows in the hall on the way up to the control room. “You’ve been summoned too?” John asked with a wry smile.
Rodney snorted. “I wonder what this is about?”
“It’s almost time for the Daedalus to return.”
“Do you think the Council will do anything?” Rodney frowned.
John knew from his talk with Rodney just after Ronon arrived that his friend hadn’t had a lot of experience with Sentinel and Guide centers, having only been tested a few times as a kid, and being found negative each time. His experience as an adult had been little better as John recalled. During their brief visit back to Earth after the siege, the Sentinel and Guide center in Aurora, Colorado had insisted on evaluating Rodney.
“We’ll see,” John said finally. He hadn’t wanted to give any sort of specifics about what he had done or who he had involved, because he wasn’t sure what would come of it, or if anything would. He knew if their situation got any more awkward and uncomfortable and the Council or the SGC did nothing, it would force him to act on his own.
“Gentleman,” Elizabeth said as they entered the room. “Please have a seat.”
She had that tightness around her mouth which meant she wasn’t happy about something.
“What is it? I was in the middle of something.” Rodney snapped.
Elizabeth stared at him for a moment before speaking. “I would appreciate it, Rodney, if you would leave those…animals, in your quarters, or in your lab instead of parading them all over the city.”
Rodney opened his mouth, closed it and then opened it again. He turned to the Polar Bear. “Baruk.”
The bear stared balefully at Elizabeth before there was a shimmer and he was gone. The leopard followed a second later. Almost immediately after they were gone, Sue appeared in the room and perched on the back of John’s chair. Elizabeth didn’t look towards him at all, so he was invisible.
“Is that why we’re here? To discuss our Spirit Animals?” Rodney asked. “Because we don’t control them. That’s a documented fact. If you’d done the recommended reading on working in the field with Sentinels and Guides, you’d know that. There are three whole chapters devoted to it.”
Elizabeth huffed. “I don’t work in the field, Rodney. And before this expedition, I never had a Sentinel or Guide on a diplomatic assignment. There was no need.”
John blinked at her. There was something about her statement that struck him, but he wasn’t sure what it was, exactly.
“Elizabeth,” John said quietly.
Elizabeth took a deep breath and centered herself for a moment before spearing them both with a look. “The Daedalus is due in a few hours. I received an encrypted message from the SGC.” She watched both of them, waiting for them to say something. When they didn’t, she continued. “General O’Neill has sent an investigative team, civilian, to look into the Atlantis Expedition and some disturbing reports he’s received.”
The way she said disturbing reports, John could hear the quotation marks. “Did he say who he was sending?” John asked. An investigative team. That sounded criminal. Did he go to AFOSI? Were there Stargate-briefed people at AFOSI? Did he get investigators from the Council?
“A Doctor Samantha Grimm, and a Dr. Anthony DiNozzo. Both Ph.D.’s, I assume, though General O’Neill’s orders didn’t provide a lot of information.” Elizabeth sounded irritated at this.
“Dr. Grimm has three Ph.D.’s.” Rodney offered. “I don’t recognize DiNozzo’s name, so probably not a scientist.”
“What are her areas of study?” Elizabeth asked, grasping for any information.
“Forensic Archaeology, Genetics, and molecular biology. She also has a master’s in Genetic engineering.” Rodney frowned. “She’s really good.”
“And you didn’t try to recruit her?” John teased.
“Oh, I tried.” Rodney scowled. “She didn’t want to come to Pegasus. Something about her brother and the uncertainty of contact.” He shrugged. “Her loss.”
“General O’Neill didn’t indicate what they were investigating.” Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “Perhaps, the SGC read the reports on the Hoff virus and think that it has merit as a weapon against the Wraith.”
John didn’t agree with her, but he didn’t disagree either. Until he spoke to Colonel Caldwell or received a message of his own, he would have no idea how this was going to play out.
“Thank you for your time,” Elizabeth said abruptly.
John and Rodney exchanged a look before standing and leaving her office. They were halfway down the hall towards the transporters before Rodney spoke. “Do you think this is the Council’s doing?”
“Yeah, I do.” Sue clucked as if he agreed.
“We should reach Atlantis in less than an hour.” Colonel Steven Caldwell stepped into the office.
DiNozzo looked up from his tablet and nodded. “Do they know we’re coming?”
“General O’Neill sent a message that I passed on once we were within range. However, all they know is that you’re investigating something based on some reports they received. He didn’t explain where the reports came from or what they contained.”
“Did he provide our names or credentials?” Samantha asked closing her own files and setting the tablet down.
“Just your names,” Caldwell confirmed.
“Dr. McKay will know who I am,” Sam told them. We’ve worked together before. He tried to get me to go to Atlantis with them.” She admitted.
Caldwell looked slightly surprised. “You didn’t want to go?”
Sam and Tony exchanged a look before she answered. “I couldn’t leave my brother, especially without telling him where I was. He’s…not someone you want to piss off.”
Tony snorted and Caldwell looked interested. “He’s a marine, right? He retired and left the program after some off-world mission went wrong. Everybody died?”
Sam narrowed her eyes at the Colonel. “Yes. Everyone died. Except for us.” She stood up abruptly, grabbed her tablet and left the room. “I’ll meet you on the bridge in twenty minutes, Tony.” She called out as she walked away at a brisk pace.
Tony whistled. “Good job, Colonel. Not many people can get to Sam.”
Caldwell winced. “I didn’t mean to upset her. I wasn’t aware she was on that mission.”
“Yeah, that’s the part they don’t talk about.” Tony agreed. It wasn’t his job to smooth anything over. If Sam wanted Caldwell to know the truth about what happened on Olduvai, she’d tell him.
“Do you have everything you need?” Caldwell asked, sensing that it was better to get back to the business they were here for.
“Yep. I think we’re as prepared as we can be. I’m going to grab my stuff. I’ll see you on the bridge in fifteen.”
Tony arrived on the bridge, his go-bag slung over his shoulder and his spirit guide following behind him. Atticus had been on alert ever since Moses had called. Tony wasn’t sure if that was something he should be concerned about or not.
Atticus tended to remain invisible to most people because Tony didn’t like to explain Atticus’ appearance and Tony’s connection to him, despite his latent status. That got old when he was still in boarding school.
Sam smiled at him, quirked a grin at the falcon and then turned to Lt. Marks. “We’re ready.”
“Caldwell to Atlantis.”
“We’re here Colonel.” Elizabeth Weir’s voice came over the radio.
“We’re ready to beam down.”
“We’ll be waiting.”
Colonel Caldwell nodded once to Lt Robertson, who was manning the station where the Asgard beaming technology controls were. There was a flash of light and the three of them disappeared.
Atticus disappeared seconds after they re-materialized in Atlantis. Tony was used to Atticus doing as he pleased, no matter where they were, mission or not, so he didn’t worry about it. His spirit guide was old, had his own way of doing things.
Tony turned his attention to Atlantis. She was a little awe-inspiring. If he had come here for any other reason, he would have enjoyed getting to know the place a little better. He felt the hum of the city in his bones, different than anything else. He’d been around Ancient technology once or twice at Area 51, but this was completely different.
“Dr. Weir. This is Dr. Samantha Grimm and Dr. Anthony DiNozzo.” Caldwell introduced his passengers to the civilian leader of Atlantis.
Tony watched her carefully, his expression as bland as he could make it. He could feel her irritation, but she was keeping the emotion off her face. He wasn’t sure what was causing it, their visit, or the lack of control.
“Shall we go to my office?” She asked.
Sam smiled. “Yes.” She followed Weir towards a staircase.
Tony looked around the room and noticed a few curious stares, but nothing out of the ordinary. His empathy didn’t pick up on anything alarming coming from anyone here. He did notice that both the military commander and the head of the sciences were not present. He thought that was strange, especially considering Colonel Sheppard had been the one to submit the reports that brought them here in the first place.
He joined them in Dr. Weir’s office, where Sam had taken a seat in a chair in front of the desk. Tony sat in the other chair while Caldwell remained standing.
“Dr. Weir, I am just here as escort. We have orders to return to Earth right away.” Caldwell informed Weir.
Elizabeth frowned. “Can you wait a day or two? If your guests can finish with their…work, then you can take them home with you.”
Samantha smiled in that way that told Tony she was pleased. “Steven, you can leave. We’ll be fine.”
Caldwell looked at Samantha Grimm for a long moment before he nodded in understanding. He clicked a button on his uniform and then he was beamed away.”
Elizabeth pursed her lips. “You’ll excuse me, but I don’t really understand why you’re here.”
“I was told General O’Neill sent word we were coming,” Tony said, raising an eyebrow.
“He did.” Weird agreed. “However, he wasn’t very clear on what exactly you hope to accomplish.” She turned to Dr. Grimm, “And I don’t appreciate you dismissing Colonel Caldwell like that.”
“Dr. Weir, the Daedalus was supposed to remain Earthbound for two months for maintenance and upgrades. They postponed that so they could escort us to Atlantis. Now that we are here, there is no reason that they can’t return home and get back to work.” Tony told her, his face a mask of cooperation, but his voice held a slight note of steel.
“No, of course not, Dr. DiNozzo.” She paused. “What is your specialty?”
“I have doctorates in Forensic Psychology, and Criminology and a master’s in Sentinel and Guide studies.” His work with sentinels and guides was more narrow than that, but he’d found mundanes didn’t often understand the intricacies of the field, so he usually kept it vague.
Elizabeth’s face tightened some more. “I see.”
Sam handed over a disc. “We have the permission, and authority from both the SGC and the IOA.”
“O’Neill indicated you would be investigating some reports that he received?” Weir asked.
“That’s correct. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any more information at this time.” Sam told her pleasantly.
Weir ground her teeth together, clearly frustrated.
“If you can have someone show us where will be staying, we’ll get out of your hair. I’m sure you have a lot to do.” Tony said standing.
Before Weir could respond, there was a ripple in the air and a spirit guide appeared. Weir frowned hard at the creature.
“Look at you?” Tony asked with a smile. “You’ve grown.” He whispered, reaching towards the bird, a Martial Eagle, he thought.
Sue moved forward, reaching out for Tony just as he reached him. He clucked, nipping Tony’s fingers.
Tony shuddered at the sudden wave of emotion that hit him. “Oh…oh yes.”
“Tony?” Sam moved toward him but didn’t touch.
“I’m fine. It just…startled me. I’m good.” He stood up straight and looked at Dr. Weir. “So, our quarters?” He felt jittery, but he was not going to lose control in front of this woman.
“I’ll have Peter take you..” She nodded, looking confused.
Sam took Tony’s bag as well as her own and led the way out of the office. She knew enough about Tony to tell he was not fine.
John stared at the ceiling catching his breath as he recovered from the most recent attack Ronon had landed on him while they were sparring.
John sat up and looked at Major Lorne as he entered the gym and allowed the door to close behind him.
“There was an incident this morning.”
“What sort of incident?” John was almost afraid to ask.
“David came to me, privately, and he didn’t want a report filed.”
“Dr. Parrish?” Ronon asked, remembering him.
“Yes. He…came online this morning, suddenly. After Dr. Beckett gave him the ATA therapy yesterday.”
John looked surprised. He wasn’t one of the latents that joined the expedition, but then neither was Rodney. “How is he?”
“Freaked out,” Lorne admitted. “He had a bad experience when he was tested as a kid, so he never went back.” Lorne looked really uncomfortable. “He doesn’t have any problems with us, Sir, but he’s refusing to report to the infirmary and he doesn’t want any sort of report filed that indicates his online status.”
John sighed. “Did he tell you why?”
“No. In fact, he refused to discuss the matter any more until he could speak with Dr. McKay.”
“Rodney?” John looked surprised. “He wants to talk to Rodney?” That seemed weird. Rodney was Parrish’s boss, but Rodney was not exactly kind to those under him, especially those in the so-called soft sciences.
Lorne shrugged. “I called him and left them together in his quarters before coming to you.”
“Alright, Major. Let’s go rescue him from Rodney’s abrasive tongue.”
Ronon grinned, thinking of his Kjarja. His tongue was sharp.
Halfway down the hall towards the living area, a spirit guide appeared. John frowned.
“Do you think that’s David’s?” Lorne asked cautiously.
“No.” John halted. “This belongs to someone else.” He stared hard at the white bird, a falcon. He couldn’t explain how he knew that; it was an inborn knowledge, instinct. “Isn’t that right, boy?”
The bird shrieked and flew ahead of them. “Come on. Let’s go.”
John Sheppard frowned as he followed when something…shattered, and his senses whited out. He felt Sue’s presence as a comfort through their bond, but he was not close, and everything was stretching too far, too fast, and he knew he was headed for a zone out, but he couldn’t stop it.
Ronon watched Sheppard hit the ground, his body tense, as though he was primed for something, as though he was reaching too far. Ronon watched as the new spirit animal flew back toward them, it’s talons making contact briefly with Sheppard’s shoulder before it screeched in a way that Ronon could feel down to his bones and then moved away, so it’s spirit-touch was no longer affecting Sheppard. He turned towards Lorne. “Go on ahead. I’ll stay with Sheppard.”
Lorne looked reluctant but trusted that his CO would be in good hands.
“Dex to Carson.”
“Dr. Beckett is on the Mainland, Ronon. What can I do for you?” Doctor Varis answered.
“I need a Sentinel-trained medical team to the east pier. And maybe a guide with aura training.”
“Excuse me?” Dr. Varis asked, confused. She had only been on Atlantis for a few weeks, less time than Ronon.
“I said I need a Sentinel-trained medical team to the east pier, and a guide with aura training, if you have any,” Ronon repeated. Carson Beckett was the only doctor he’d personally dealt with, and he seemed to have some knowledge of Sentinel medicine, though he had admitted that he only trained in the bare minimum required for residency. Ronon supposed Teyla would do in a pinch. She had a very soothing aura. So long as Rodney wasn’t alerted. Rodney may have been a guide but he wasn’t soothing, at least as far as Ronon could tell not to anyone except his own Sentinel, which was fine.
“I heard you the first time.” Elke Varis said. “Can you tell me why? Are you having trouble?”
Ronon clicked over to another channel. “Teyla, are you available to come to the East Pier?”
“On my way,” Teyla answered calmly.
Ronon clicked back to Doctor Varis. “Sheppard is unconscious. He’s had some sort of Sensory overload. His Spirit Animal is not present. I don’t recommend anyone without Sentinel training approach the area.”
“Understood,” Varis answered crisply. Ronon could hear her hesitate a moment before her voice came over the line again. “Are your senses exhibiting any issues?”
Ronon stared down at Sheppard and wondered if maybe he had been spending too much time with McKay because sometimes he thought his guide was right and some people were idiotic. “Sheppard’s condition is not contagious. I am fine.”
“The medical team is on the way.” Dr. Varis disconnected just as Teyla arrived.
“What has happened?” She approached cautiously. There were none among her people with advanced senses nor people with empathic gifts, the way the Guides from Earth seemed to be.
“Can you talk to him? I know you are not Kjarja, but it may help.”
Teyla bent down and began speaking soothingly to Sheppard. Ronon sent his senses out, looking for anything that may have caused the collapse, but nothing seemed out of place.
Teyla looked up at Ronon when there was no change.
“Stay with him. I will bring Rodney to the infirmary.”
Teyla nodded and watched as Ronon ran off.
They were escorted to a pair of rooms by Peter Grodin and left on their own. Tony was mildly surprised that Dr. Weir didn’t have guards on them, considering how frustrated she had been with their arrival. She was an experienced negotiator, however, so she may have decided to pick her battles.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Sam asked once they were alone.
“No,” Tony admitted. He turned to the bird who had stayed with them the entire time, though he hadn’t tried to touch Tony again. “Bring me to your Sentinel.”
Sue let out an affirming noise and flew away. Tony followed. Sam set the bags down and followed her friend, not trusting anything in this place just yet.
Tony followed the spirit bird down several corridors and the closer he got to their destination, the more focused his empathy started to become. He started off scanning everyone and everything he passed, knowing that the Sentinel he sought wasn’t nearby but unable to stop.
“I think we’re here.” Sam pointed when they reached the commotion at the end of one hallway.
Tony stopped and stared. Atticus was hovering over a man who was zoned-out if he was any judge. A woman was trying to speak to him, to bring him around. Tony wondered for a minute why she didn’t try to touch him to ground his sense that way but then noticed that if she got too close, Atticus would let out an ear-piercing shriek. A medical team was attempting to get closer, but they weren’t having much better luck.
Tony took a step forward, almost afraid. He bent down and placed a hand on the man’s chest and then suddenly everything went white. It was like he was eight years old again, coming online during the most traumatic event of his young life, feeling the pain and anguish of the whole world bearing down on him when suddenly there was respite, a buffer. He was on a bridge, somewhere quiet and safe, with no one to batter at him.
Tony looked around for a second. it looked the same as it had thirty years ago.
Quiet with only the sound of the nearby water. He could feel the breeze of trees, but couldn’t really see anything past the bridge he was standing on. There was a man a few feet away. He looked different than the last time they stood on this bridge. Thirty years had passed. They were no longer boys of eight.
“It’s you, isn’t it?” The man took a step closer.
“John?” Tony took his own step forward. He wasn’t sure if this was really happening, even though he’d spent his entire life trying to get back to this place. Trying to find John again.
“It really is you, isn’t, Dom?”
Tony flinched. He hadn’t been called Dom since he was eight. That’s what his mother called him. His middle name came from her favorite uncle. Once she had died, no one called him that again. When he met John all those years ago in this very place, Dom was still the name he preferred so that was what he said his name was when John asked. Now though, it was just a reminder of everything he had lost that day. His mother, and his Sentinel.
“What’s wrong?” John stepped forward again. They were almost close enough to touch.
“I, uh…I go by Tony now. No one has called me Dom since…well not in a long time.”
John frowned. “But…it’s you, right? Where are you? How did we get here? I’ve uh…I’ve looked for you.”
“Yeah, me too.” Tony looked down for a second. “As for where I am, physically, I’m, uh, on Atlantis.”
John jumped back. “What?”
“Yeah. I just arrived. I think I’m the reason, or my spirit guide is, for why you zoned…maybe.”
“Your spirit guide.” John paused. “A white falcon?”
“Yeah, Atticus. And yours is a Martial Eagle, right?”
“Sue.” John nodded.
Tony grinned. Of course, his spirit guide would be named for a Johnny Cash song.
“So, how do we get back?” John asked.
“Let me try something.” Tony took the final step forward and leaned forward. As his forehead came to rest against John’s his hand came to rest along the back of John’s neck. There was a flash of light and then they were back in their bodies.
Everything was bright and loud and too much.
The birds were shrieking and there were entirely too many people. Tony reached out and cocooned John in a bubble of safety and then turned to Sam. “We need somewhere quiet.”
He watched in a detached sort of way as his friend moved efficiently and took care of the worst of the problem, getting some help from a large Sentinel in dread-locks. He recognized him from the files they read on the expedition. This was Specialist Ronon Dex, from the Pegasus planet Sateda, destroyed by the Wraith. There was an interesting aura surrounding the Sentinel that he had never seen around a Sentinel before. He wondered if it was because he was an alien or something different.
“Come on. Ronon here is going to take us to Colonel Sheppard’s quarters. They should be safe.” Sam told him. She turned towards the large man. “Ronon Dex, this is my friend, Doctor Anthony DiNozzo.”
“You are Sheppard’s Kjarja?” Dex asked.
Tony raised a brow. “If that’s Satedan for Guide, then yes.”
Dex grunted and turned around moving down the hall.
Tony placed a hand on John’s shoulder. “You good?”
The three of them followed Dex, with Tony keeping a close eye on John. Despite what he said he knew John wasn’t okay. His senses were weaving in and out, and he was only maintaining because of Tony’s buffering. it wouldn’t last long. Hopefully, John’s quarters were in a Sentinel-safe zone.
“I don’t think I can do this, Rodney.” David Parrish. stared up at his boss. “I never wanted to be a Guide, and I…I can’t register.”
Rodney blew out a breath. “David. Your shields feel pretty solid. You’re not struggling with your…empathy, right?” He winced at the word, still hating the idea of anything as touchy-feely as what the center back in Alexandria tried to explain when he was seven.
Parrish firmed his shoulders and took a deep breath. “My shields are good. I…I was diagnosed as a Mundane Sensitive when I was five. There was an incident at my school involving another student. I was tested repeatedly after that but I always came back negative. My mother was always so disappointed. When she died my father could barely look at me. He blamed me for breaking her heart. I never went to another center again. Rodney, I can’t register, not after that.”
“It’s not because of anything going on here, though? Not because of Weir or Carson?” Rodney pressed.
“Well, I don’t want to be examined by Doctor Beckett. His interest in the Colonel feels focused in a way that’s jarring.” Parrish paused, “And Weir. She’s an unpleasant person. You’ve spent more time with her than I have. You must have noticed her…feelings?”
Rodney nodded reluctantly. “I have.” He thought about the situation for a minute. They were very far from any sort of Sentinel and Guide Council oversight, so the protection of every Sentinel and Guide, Online or otherwise on Atlantis was up to those who were there and had the power to protect them. That meant Sheppard, and he and Ronon. “You don’t have to register, for now. I’ll talk to the Colonel and we’ll decide what to do about both Becket and Weir in the long term. For now, I want you to work with Miko and Sean Farris on your meditation and settling yourself. They’ll both keep everything confidential. You can trust them.”
“I know, Rodney.” Parrish agreed. “I trust you, and I trust the other Guides on Atlantis.”
“But not the Sentinels?” Rodney asked carefully. This was another one of those things he just wasn’t prepared for. He just wasn’t a very good guide. At least not in any way that he’d thought Guides were supposed to be. Ronon was helping him redefine what being a Guide…a Kjarja was, but it was still too much like a soft science and not enough like something that had rules for him.
“I trust the Colonel, and I know you wouldn’t bond with someone who wasn’t trustworthy, so Ronon is probably okay. Of the other unbonded Sentinels, I only know two of them well. Eliza Paulsen and Brian Ericks. But I know them as work colleagues not…not as Sentinels.”
“And Major Lorne? How do you feel about him, or Sgt Bates or Winters? You’ve had cause to be around or work with all of them in the past. Lorne and Winters are both Online Sentinels, and Bates is Latent. Are you uneasy with the idea of being around them?”
“I, uh…I don’t think I’d have a problem with them.” Parrish hesitated. “But I haven’t actually seen any of them in person since I came online. I called Evan on the radio, but I was afraid of what might happen if he came to see me.”
Rodney blinked. “Do you think he might be your sentinel?” He asked.
“I, uh. I’m not sure. I mean, how can you tell?”
“You can sense it, with your empathy,” Rodney answered. He really needed to get more comfortable with the guide vocabulary because twitching every time he spoke to another Guide was ridiculous. “Sentinels use their senses, but I haven’t actually spoken to Ronon about that.” Because Ronon didn’t question what was.
“I don’t think we are,” Parrish said finally. “Evan and me, I mean.”
Rodney nodded. “Why I don’t I call him and we can find out for sure, instead of meeting again randomly.”
Parrish took a deep breath and nodded.
Rodney tapped his radio. “Major Lorne, can you meet me in Doctor Parrish’s quarters?”
“On my way.”
Rodney focused back on Parrish. “We’re in a precarious situation here, David. We’re in a warzone, and Weir and Beckett have caused some issues that we’re going to have to work through. I don’t want you to have to deal with that though. You shouldn’t be pressured to make a decision about registering because of politics or stupidity.” He looked away from Parrish to the corner of the room where Parish’s spirit guide, a small blue frog, with dark spots along its back. He didn’t know that much about amphibians so he had no idea if that was its natural color or some weird spirit guide thing.
There was a chime at the door that interrupted anything else
Samantha Grimm left Tony with Colonel Sheppard. She wanted to find out exactly what had happened but knew right then wasn’t the time. It was better if she got a start on their reason for being here, because it was clear that things had just changed, drastically, at least for Tony.
She’d known Tony for a long time. She’d worked with him both before and after what happened on that hellish off-world mission to the planet the SGC called PX7-NLV, and the locals referred to as Olduvai. The changes Olduvai had wrought within her gave her an insight into Tony and his unusual situation that others didn’t have.
She knew, for other Sentinels and Guides, Tony was an anomaly. A confusing mix of mundane, latent and online Guide that they could never quite figure out. The genetic testing said he was a Latent Guide, and experience had told them that no one his age ever came online without extreme circumstances or some kind of interference or manipulation. Empathic testing rated his empathy at a level four, which should have been impossible, given his Latent status. To other Sentinels and Guides, he didn’t feel like a Latent Guide. He didn’t even feel exactly like an online Guide but like a Bonded Guide.
Sam knew that Colonel Sheppard was somehow connected to the anomaly that was Tony DiNozzo and that just made their work here a hundred times more complicated.
She turned towards the other Sentinel. “Specialist Ronon Dex, correct?”
He nodded once at her.
“Is there somewhere we can talk privately? Perhaps with Doctor McKay?”
The Sentinel tilted his head in a fashion she had seen from her brother. This man had the same kind of wildness in him as her brother often exhibited. She wasn’t sure if Ronon was utilizing his senses or connecting with his Guide in some way. “My Kjarja is currently busy with something, but he doesn’t mind if we go to him.”
“Thank you.” Sam followed the Pegasus native and her natural curiosity was peaked. She wasn’t as experienced with Sentinel and Guide matters as Tony, but she didn’t think there was any sort of telepathic bond between them, so she wondered how communication could be so precise.
She wanted to ask some questions but realized that not only wasn’t the halls of Atlantis the place, but she wasn’t sure how Specialist Dex would take the questions. She didn’t want him to think she was just another unscrupulous scientist. She knew McKay’s reputation well enough to know he wasn’t one of those, nor would he allow that sort of behavior. but she also knew he didn’t hold much interest in genetics or other bio-sciences and may not have been overseeing them as closely as was apparently needed.
Once she had time to sit down with McKay and look at all of the records and discuss his personnel they could figure out what he knew and what he didn’t and whether that was due to his lack of oversight or something else.
She noticed when they left what she determined was the Sentinel-safe area and entered a more populated area. She wasn’t sure how she could tell the difference, exactly. There was a slightly different harmonics to the sound buffering, perhaps. Something to discuss with Tony or perhaps with McKay when she could.
They entered what looked like some sort of elevator, but there was a flash of light and the doors opened again. Transporters of some sort? Finally, Dex stopped in front of a door. He swiped a hand in front of a panel and the door opened into some sort of small conference room.
“Rodney will be here soon.”
John Sheppard sank onto the edge of his bed after Ronon and the woman left. He knew he should have spared more attention to her and what she was doing here, but all he could focus on was his Guide, here in Atlantis, of all fucking places.
When he’d come online at eight it was traumatic, but it was also bizarre. He’d been away at boarding school, his father’s compromise to his acting out after his mother’s death. One minute he’d been in the library studying the next he’d heard a screech, Sue had appeared out of nowhere and in the next moment, he’d been on that bridge.
By the time he’d come back to himself, six months had passed and he’d been back in Virginia at a Sentinel and Guide hospital. It had taken him another six weeks before he’d been released back to his family, and most of that time had been spent with the specialists trying to determine what had happened and understanding his readings.
He was an online Sentinel, but they couldn’t adequately determine his rating. They knew he was a high-level sentinel, and that he would require a bond to develop his abilities to their fullest potential, but they couldn’t fully test his abilities without throwing him into some weird fugue state that was a cross between a zone out and a feral drive. After three attempts, they gave up and just labeled his rating as undetermined.
He had learned a lot over the years about himself. He knew he wasn’t like other Sentinels. He didn’t have the drive to find a Guide, which the various other Sentinels he’d met found bizarre, considering the fact that most people considered him an Alpha. It wasn’t until John met Frank Moses and Jim Ellison that he’d started to feel safe in his own skin again. They were the first Sentinel’s he had met that looked at him and told him that he wasn’t an anomaly.
John looked up at the softly spoken question. Dom…no, Tony was standing in front of him, holding out a cup of water.
“I’m okay.” He took the water, careful not to touch Tony yet.
“I know you are.” Tony took a step back to give him a little more room. “So, Atlantis. Do you want to talk about her, or you and I?”
John tilted his head slightly, curious at the way Tony referred to the City. “I think…Atlantis can wait a little while. We should talk about us.” He paused. “Do you know what happened to us on that bridge all those years ago?”
“There was an accident. It was nothing but water and sound the crush of metal. My mother was dying and I could feel her fear and regret. It was too much and my empathy blew wide open. I think I would have just lay there and let the water take me. But then there was a screech and when I focused there was this bird, and then there were two and they were working together to drag me out of the car.”
“Our spirit Guides saved your life,” John said in realization.
“Yes.” Tony agreed. “When I saw you on the bridge I knew something wasn’t right. That it wasn’t real, but it felt safe. When we touched, do you remember what happened?”
“There was a weird wave of energy. I was blinded for a moment, almost as if a flash from a camera had gone off.” John recalled.
“Yeah. But afterward, I felt calmer, like the accident was distant like it had happened years ago.”
John nodded because he too had felt more settled. “We bonded.”
“Yes. In most ways that matter.” Tony agreed. “However, according to every test that’s ever been run on me, I’m Latent. Not that it matters most to the Center. They say I’m damaged. What happened to me back then, traumatized me, and I won’t ever come online.”
“You are online,” John stated emphatically. “You don’t feel Latent,” John continued pointedly, noticing the little smirk on Tony’s lips as he spoke. He was clearly repeating something he’d heard often, not something he believed himself to be true.
“No, not to you.” Tony agreed. “And to be honest, most of the high-level Sentinel’s I’ve met have told me I felt to them like a Bonded Guide.”
“But the Center still labeled you Damaged? That doesn’t make any sense. The center is run by Sentinels and Guides.“What about other Guides? How do you feel to them?”
“I can usually control how I affect other Guides. How much of my Aura they can sense. Except for really powerful Guides, or Shamans. I’ve only met three Shamans, and all of them told me I felt bonded to them as well.”
“When did you know?” John asked. “About us being bonded?”
“Not for a long time,” Tony admitted. “My first degree was a master’s in Sentinel and Guide studies, just to help me understand what happened. It didn’t. Eventually, I joined the police and then NCIS and focused my studies on criminology, but I was always trying to understand why I was different. Why I was Latent but still had access to Atticus,” He tilted his head towards the fierce-looking falcon, “why people sometimes reacted strangely to me. I kept having these…visions, I guess. I thought they were dreams, but, now I know they were something else. Glimpses, I think into your life. Not much, not enough to see who you were, or even where you were. Nothing to help me find you or anything useful. But it was enough to tell me that what happened on that bridge wasn’t some fanciful notion of a scared kid.”
John was sort of fascinated by his guide’s story. He’d met a lot of Guides in his life. Probably more than was typical considering his undetermined status. The center was always trying to expose him to Guides of varying power levels and abilities hoping that they would have some kind of effect on him. None of them had. “Then what?” John asked in curiosity.
Tony shrugged. “I went back to school. I was still working for NCIS, but things were…well we’ll get into that another time. I did a lot of consulting work, a focused a lot of my attention on my studies.”
“And did you learn anything new?”
Tony let out a sharp bark of a laugh. “Yeah, John, I learned a lot.” He took a cautious step closer. “Enough to tell you without any doubt that we have already bonded on two of the three levels that a Sentinel and Guide bond on.”
John frowned. “I never paid much attention when they talked about bonding. It just seemed…like something I wouldn’t have to worry about.”
“Because you didn’t have a guide?” Tony asked softly.
“Because I wasn’t going to find you among the people they tried to force me to interact with. I knew, somehow you were out there, and as much as I was an anomaly by being undetermined, by Guide would be just as contrary.”
Tony laughed. Before focusing once more. “You wouldn’t have learned about the different levels of bonding even if you had paid attention. I don’t think it’s part of any sort of training the Centers put out. But, there are three levels that a Sentinel and Guide Bond on. The first and third happen without any sort of conscious choice in most cases. The first is usually what happens when the guide accepts the Sentinel and the Empathy surrounds and accepts the Sentinel. The second is the physical bonding, and that is where the sense imprinting happens. The third is the spiritual bonding, for lack of a better term. It’s a connection on the psionic plane. And that doesn’t usually happen right away. it usually happens over time, after the Sentinel and Guide are more in tune with one another and they have become more comfortable and the trust becomes ingrained. That bonding happens naturally.”
John grunted thoughtfully.
“There are some cases where the empathic bonding happens on the Psionic plane, and usually, in those cases, both types of bonding happen at the same time.”
“And you think that’s what happened to us?” John asked though he could feel a sort of resonance in his bones that echoed as if it was truth.
“What can you tell me about the report Colonel Sheppard filed?” Samantha Grimm asked once she, McKay and Ronon Dex had left the quarters where McKay had been and were seated in a private conference room where they could talk without being interrupted. They weren’t in McKay and Dex’s quarters as far as she could tell, but
“Nothing specific,” McKay answered with a frown. “I didn’t read it and he’s been…vague about the details. Probably in some misplaced decision to shield us from Elizabeth, or from what the IOA might do in response.”
Sam’s lips twitched. McKay amused her. She could see he had changed in some pretty significant ways from the person he had been when they had worked briefly together back on Earth all those years ago, but fundamentally he was still the same person, and she was relieved about that. From her own time in the SGC she knew that this type of work could have devastating consequences on a person and who they thought they were. The people on Atlantis were even further removed from safety and help than those in the Milky Way, so she was glad to see that the experience hadn’t changed someone as vibrant as McKay.
“He is your Alpha.” She pointed out reasonably. “Isn’t it his job to shield you from any sort of backlash?”
McKay snorted. “If that’s your way of saying he’s a self-sacrificing idiot, then yes.”
Dex huffed. “Sheppard said he made a report but didn’t tell us what it said or who he sent it to.”
“He made two reports,” Sam admitted. One to General O’Neill and another made it’s way to the Sentinel and Guide Center, to the East Coast Primes, William Cooper, and Frank Moses. Cooper is my cousin, but that’s not why we were called in.” Sam looked at Rodney carefully. “It was never important before, but what do you know about my background with the SGC?
Rodney looked away, uncomfortable suddenly. “You and your brother were both part of the program, he as a Marine and you as a scientist, though you went off-world often enough. More than some of the idiots I have out here anyway. There was a mission. Things went horribly wrong, as things tend to do. People died.”
“That was all in the mission reports,” Sam noted in a slightly detached way.
“What wasn’t?” Ronon asked suddenly, watching her carefully.
“Rodney?” She asked instead of answering Ronon’s question. “What else were you able to dig up?”
She was curious what McKay might know about the real circumstances of that clusterfuck of a mission. She had been with the program for less than two years and it had been her fifteenth time through the Stargate. The mission parameters were nothing unusual. Her brother John was second in command of the team who was going through with her. He’d been a part of the Stargate Program for six years before that mission, and when they came home nothing was the same, not for either of them.
John had walked away from the SGC and had wanted Sam to do the same. Sam did stop working in the mountain and working solely on SGC projects, but she had agreed to consult on a case-by-case basis. She consulted with a lot of groups and agencies so she felt that working with the SGC on occasion wouldn’t be any different.
McKay stared at her for a long moment before he nodded once and continued. “It didn’t just go horribly wrong, it went epically, disastrously, horribly wrong. Some sort of infection spread and turned everyone into monsters, your brother’s CO went crazy, and he had to remind him and everyone else why his call sign is Reaper.” McKay snorted in an unamused fashion. “You two were the only survivors, though how and why you survived is not something I think we should be discussing here and now.”
Sam smiled slightly because McKay didn’t disappoint. “Agreed. Because of my history with the program, and my background in genetics and forensic archeology, General O’Neill agreed when Cooper and Moses asked me to join DiNozzo on this trip.”
“DiNozzo? He’s the other investigator? Where is he now?”
“He’s Sheppard’s Kjarja,” Ronon announced as if that was no big deal.
“I’m sorry, what?” McKay turned to look at Ronon. “You couldn’t have lead with that?”
“You were busy.” Ronon shrugged.
McKay tilted his head slightly and turned back to Sam. “John is bonding with the investigator you came with? Elizabeth didn’t know what his discipline was. He’s not a scientist.” He said with confidence.
Sam quirked a smile. “Not on your level, no. His doctorates are in forensic psychology and criminology, with a master’s in sentinel studies and a third Ph.D. in Psionic Linguistics and abnormal bio-connectivity. He doesn’t talk about that last one outside certain circles.”
McKay blinked. “I’m not even sure what you just said.”
Samantha laughed. “let’s just say he understands how Sentinels and Guides communicate with the Psionic plane and the nature of the connection between a Sentinel and Guide, bonded or not, and leave it at that.”
“I don’t think this was what Cooper meant when he told me to open the door.”
“hmm?” John hummed as he lifted his head slightly from where it was half under the blanket, but mostly still attached to Tony’s side.
“William Cooper. He’s…a mentor of mine, I guess. He told me that I wasn’t damaged, no matter what the tests said, no matter what all the others at the Centers thought. I was just…waiting. not ready maybe. But when it was time, all I had to do was open the door, and there you’d be…well, My Sentinel. I don’t think he knew specifically who it was. He was kind of pragmatic about that sort of thing. He said you couldn’t really prepare for your Sentinel. One day you were living your life, doing your job, and the next, they barrelled into it and chaos.”
John snorted. “That sounds like Coop. Frank didn’t make things easy on him.”
Tony twitched. “You know them?” Then he paused. “Of course you do. The whole reason I’m here is because of that report you sent. Yous ent it to Frank right?”
“Yeah.” John sat up reluctantly. “We should probably talk about that and maybe meet with Ronon and Rodney.”
“Doctor Samantha Grimm. She came to Atlantis with me. She’s a specialist in Genetics, Molecular Biology, and Forensic Archeology. She’s also Cooper’s cousin, though I don’t suppose that has much bearing.”
John nodded. Rodney mentioned Her. He said she tried to recruit him and she turned him down.”
Tony sighed. “She has a twin brother. Marine. They were both part of the program. There was an off-world mission that ended badly. Everyone died. Well, everyone except Sam and her brother John. Something happened out there, it changed them. John left the program. Sam did too, officially, but she still consults occasionally.”
John whistled. “So, she came with you to review Carson’s research?”
Tony squeezed his arm and then pulled away to get out of bed. “Come on. Let’s get dressed and go find Dex and McKay. After we hash this out amongst us, I want to beard the lion in her den.”
Elizabeth Weir arrived in the conference room just as everyone else was sitting down.
“Good. You’re all here. I’d like to get started.”
Grimm and Dinozzo shared a look as Elizabeth took her seat but didn’t comment.
“Before we begin, I wanted to clarify something.” DiNozzo began. “Colonel Sheppard and I have bonded. That doesn’t have any bearing on this meeting or why Doctor Grimm and I have come to Atlantis, but I wanted to get that little announcement out of the way.”
Elizabeth stared at Doctor DiNozzo horrified before looking back at Sheppard. “Bonded? But…you can’t.”
Sheppard arched an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
“I mean…they told me you were incapable of a bond.” Elizabeth stuttered.
DiNozzo smirked. “Whoever told you that didn’t have all the facts. I would educate you, but that’s not my job, nor is it why any of us are here. Now, I’ve told you of the change, as a courtesy, but we have no intention of discussing our relationship or the relationship of any Sentinel or Guide in our Pride with you, so let’s move on.”
“I won’t have a bonded Sentinel leading the military!” Elizabeth snapped starting to rise.
Sheppard leaned forward in his chair. “That decision isn’t up to you, Elizabeth. You do not make decisions about the military on Atlantis. You can certainly discuss the matter with the IOA, but they don’t make the decision either. Now, do you want to discuss the matters that brought Doctors Grimm and DiNozzo here, or shall we reschedule?”
Elizabeth sat back down, pursed her lips and looked away from them and to Doctor Grimm who was reviewing something on her tablet as if nothing unusual was going on. “Very well. Let’s get started.”
DiNozzo turned to Grimm, which must have been some sort of unspoken signal because the woman looked up from her tablet and faced Weir. “Let me frank, Doctor Weir. The SGC asked us out here because they didn’t think they could trust the information you provided at face value. Doctor DiNozzo and I are both experts in our fields, and they wanted us to be able to see to the truth of the matter…on a number of topics.”
“How dare you!” Elizabeth started to stand again.
“We will be going over all reports from all departments, as well as interviewing every person on this base. If you have issues with our orders, you may dial into the SGC and speak to General O’Neill yourself.”
“What exactly is it you think you are going to find, Doctor Grimm?” Elizabeth asked crisply.
Samantha smiled. “I prefer to withhold judgment.” She looked around the table. “Any questions?”
McKay frowned but didn’t say anything.
Elizabeth huffed and stood up. “I’m going to speak to General O’Neill and the IOA about this.”
Ililsa – Spirit Animal
Ililsa-vek – Spirit Plane
Kjarja – Guide
Korsiin – The Closing
Kria – Feline
Reyat – Sentinel
Rey-nor – physical plane
Sundassa – The Path – The Journey between ‘Onlining’ and Bonding.
Sunvae – on the path together