vain_glorious: (cam)
[personal profile] vain_glorious
Title: Men in Stiff Procession 1/4
Author: [personal profile] vain_glorious
Fandom: SGA/SG-1
Summary: A new military commander, Cameron Mitchell, arrives on Atlantis.
Rating: PG-13, Gen, AU from the middle of "Inquisition" 5X13.
Spoilers: Up to 5X13
Word Count: ~21,000
Author's Note: A sequel of sorts to Marching Away and Softly Gone, but also can stand alone. Feedback is delicious.


“You sure you don’t want me to come along?” Sam Carter asked again. She was smiling, but she also looked kind of worried.

Cameron Mitchell frowned. “I don’t need a chaperone, Sam. Military officers transfer roles every day all over the world without any kind of handholding.”

They were sitting on the bed in Cam’s quarters – the place he crashed when too tired to leave the base – in the SGC. Or what used to be his quarters – he’d cleaned out all the crap he’d accumulated and it was just empty staff housing now – since he wouldn’t be back anytime soon.

“This isn’t the world,” she reminded him. “This is Pegasus. And it’s not just the military.”

“I know that.”

Sam didn’t say anything, but she did make a face. A cross between a grin and a wince.

“You’re saying the civilians don’t handle change well?”

“I’m saying I don’t care how many mission reports you read, Atlantis isn’t going to be…”

“Easy?”

“No.” She paused. “It’s not going to be anything like what you expect. I know it wasn’t for me.”

“I’m not taking over the city,” Cameron said. “Just the military.”

“They’re remarkably intertwined.” She took a deep breath. “Especially if you…get his team.”

“It’s tempting to bring you along solely to occupy McKay,” Cam joked.

In response, Sam just looked at him. “It’s not like SG-1,” she said. “I’m not talking about the personalities…”

“There’s only one of you, Sam. And one of Jackson, and one of Teal’c. And there sure as hell better be only one Vala.”

Sam laughed.

“I do have some experience with this,” Cam said, poking her playfully in the shoulder. “You weren’t the most cooperative bunch when I came around, remember?”

“Yeah.” The smile slowly dropped of her face. “But we also weren’t grieving.”

Cameron sighed. “Yeah,” he said. “I know.”

Sam reached out and squeezed his arm. “Just try to remember that no matter how excited you are, they’re probably going to be pissed off and resentful that you’re there. Because you being there means he’s gone.”

For a second, Cam squinted at her. “You feel that way about me when I replaced O’Neill?”

Sam tilted her head. “I could call Jack on the phone.”

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s different, I know.”

She nodded.

“Any other advice?” He paused. “About the team in particular?”

Now, Sam shrugged. “I was a little surprised to hear it’s still intact, actually.”

“Yeah?”

“Um, Ronon Dex wasn’t particularly attached to Atlantis, I don’t think,” Sam said. “He was loyal to Sheppard, not the IOA.”

“Don’t blame him,” Cam said, chuckling. Sam glanced at him, her expression serious. “Noted," he said.

“And Teyla Emmagan has a young baby,” she continued. “I don’t know how interested she’d been in…”

“Serving under me?”

“Adjusting,” Sam decided upon. “And that leaves-”

“McKay.”

“Yeah.” She was making another face.

“He’s going to make my life a living hell?”

“Going to be a tough sell?” Sam said, optimistically. “He and Sheppard are – were – really good friends. He’s going through a tough time.”

“You talked to him at all?”

“A little.” Sam looked guilty. “He’s not the easiest person to listen to when he’s upset. We exchanged a couple of e-mails where he ranted about them stopping the search.”

“Okay.” Cam nodded. He wasn’t a huge fan of McKay, but losing your CO sucked and the men had been friends, too. That tugged on anyone’s heartstrings, even if McKay had probably chosen to be a giant asshole about it.

Colonel Stephen Caldwell’s voice rang in Cameron’s ear. He raised his fingers to the earpiece. Sam had suggested he start wearing it already and get used to it, or he’d end up wanting to take it out. Apparently that was never a good idea.

“My ride’s here,” he said to Sam.

“Alright.” They rose together and Sam leaned in and hugged him tightly. “Goodbye,” she said, giving him a peck in his hair. “Good luck. Don’t get eaten by a Wraith.”

“Bye,” he said, starting to laugh at that last part, except she sounded awfully serious.

The Daedalus’s beam seized him the second Sam pulled away from the embrace. The room melted around him and then it was gone.

~

Cam used the three week journey on board the Daedalus to read up on the Atlantis mission. He’d already read every mission report John Sheppard had ever written, first. Just like he’d read every one filed by General O’Neill before taking over SG-1. There was a little déjà vu, in that both were about missions fighting really scary evil monsters (the Goa’uld and the Wraith, respectively) and that both O’Neill and Sheppard had very similar esoteric writing styles such that they managed not to say much despite filling hundreds and hundreds of pages.

With O’Neill, that had meant certain surprises about the actual way SG-1 had resolved various crises versus the action the SGC or IOA would have authorized. He’d only met Sheppard a few times, but Cameron assumed that’d also be the case on Atlantis, perhaps more so since the light years of distance would presumably only encourage even more creative decision-making. As long as he knew that going in, Cam figured he’d be prepared for most of it.

Cam had also read the mission reports of the late Aiden Ford. Ford’s were a little more informative, but they were also the oldest and the most out of date. Rodney McKay and Teyla Emmagan had written mission reports basically since the beginning, too, but Ronon Dex had never submitted any kind of paperwork. Cam was shocked the IOA – including Sam – let him get away with that. Cameron found it annoying, an enormous blind spot in his research on Atlantis and the crew he’d be commanding. It did tell him a little about Dex’s personality, though. The guy wasn’t all that interested in protocol and his superiors had either never tried to force him to follow it or they had, unsuccessfully.

McKay and Emmagan were considerably more verbose than their team leader. But their reports weren’t military at all and McKay babbled worse than Jackson. Cam hadn’t been sure that was possible. If he was honest, Cameron was the least excited about dealing with McKay. It was probably entirely selfish, since even Sam acknowledged how vital the man’s presence was for the city’s survival. But McKay was abrasive to begin with and who knew how much worse he’d be in the aftermath of Sheppard’s death.

Sheppard’s death changed things. When Cam had reunited SG-1, it’d been under the watchful if distant eye of its former commander. General O’Neill had never interfered or even commented his approval or disapproval, but Cam figured if he’d ever done something drastically wrong, O’Neill would have been on it. And at the same time, Cameron had been conscious of that surveillance, of wanting to protect and sustain SG-1’s reputation and O’Neill’s legacy. He’d deliberately put SG-1 back together but he’d tried to do it right. Vala kind of put a hitch in that, but she had ultimately fit right in. Something about being bugfuck crazy.

Cam wasn’t sure he felt the same need to keep Sheppard’s team intact. In part, he wasn’t sure he had the option. Sam had said as much. The reports painted a picture of a team that had been built around a dead man. Dex’s loyalty was to Sheppard, not Atlantis. Sheppard had somehow turned McKay into a team player. He’d recruited the Athosian woman, Emmagan.

McKay and Emmagan were too valuable to lose. If Cameron truly couldn’t stand McKay – and perhaps he was exaggerating how irritating the man could be, but he didn’t think so – then there were options. Civilian scientists, particularly ones largely responsible for keeping the city functioning day to day, didn’t need to be on reconnaissance teams. Cam could just politely bench McKay and leave him in the lab. If Emmagan didn’t want to serve under him, she could stay around the city with her family and continue to act as a consultant.

Cam did feel a little bad, thinking about dismantling Sheppard’s team. The man was dead, after all, and it felt sort of like trashing his estate. That wasn’t his intention, at all, but Cam still resolved to give the way it was a try before he made any big decisions. It seemed like the right thing to do.

At the same time, Cameron was painfully conscious of how little space he had to go wrong. Making mistakes in Pegasus tended to be deadly.

Sheppard’s death, perhaps, proved that. But that hadn’t been a mistake so much as a sacrifice. Cam didn’t know the full details – the massive report about the man’s last mission somehow managed to be scarce on those. All he knew was a group of Pegasus natives who blamed their suffering on the Atlantis mission had put Sheppard’s team on trial. Given that the judges had generated the charges, the verdict was known from the beginning. Richard Woolsey had tried to fix it in Atlantis’ favor.

It was supposed to have worked, except that Sheppard’s team came back to Atlantis without its leader.

Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard’s final days were still a mystery. He’d been sent through the ‘Gate to an uninhabited planet without a DHD, or so his captors claimed. Cam wasn’t sure he believed that. It was too detached. For how angry these natives had been and for what they’d blamed on him…it was a much too impersonal murder.

It seemed to him like a weak excuse, a way of protecting themselves from military reprisal from Atlantis. Like all would be forgiven just because they hadn’t killed the man directly.


And it probably seemed to have worked out for them. There would be no military reprisal, not because the city of Atlantis forgave them of Sheppard’s murder, but because the IOA wouldn’t authorize it and the interim military leader – Sheppard’s second Major Evan Lorne – wouldn’t defy that as much as he might have wanted to.

The natives got away with it. Woolsey claimed to have enacted harsh diplomatic measures, all of which read as hollow and empty because they followed the declaration of John Sheppard as missing in action and presumed dead.

Lorne had remained interim commander of Atlantis for nearly nine months. They’d searched for Sheppard during that time, until the IOA had interceded and declared those search and rescue (if he was alive) or recovery (if he was dead) missions were a waste of time and money. Cameron was really, really glad he hadn’t been the one to deliver that message. He understood it, agreed with it, even, but was still glad he was arriving months later.

The IOA had replaced Lorne, then. Maybe sensing an unwillingness to obey that particular order. Or, equally likely, using the opportunity to install a friendlier and more obedient face as the head of the Atlantis military rather than promote from within the existing ranks.

Cam had never met the guy they’d picked. Heard of him – Roger something or something Rogers particularly the persistent rumors that despite no evidence, the new military head was somehow related to one of the IOA bigwigs and his appointment was nepotism in action.

Cam would never meet the guy. He’d lasted about three months, before dying at the hands of those nasty Pegasus things. Wraith. Practically, Cameron knew what the Wraith were (he’d read about them, too, oh yeah), but the fact that was “Wraith-sucked” was actually a semi-official clinical description made his gut clench.

He’d heard other rumors about the guy. That’d he been incompetent and totally out of his element in the job. That no one had liked him. That it was entirely possible that he’d been fragged.

No proof, nothing but whispers mostly from the Daedalus crew, who enjoyed gossiping like they were teenage girls trapped in space. People who hadn’t been there, just delivered the guy to the city about three months ago. They were picking up his body, now, after depositing Cameron on Atlantis.

That tempered Cam’s excitement. It wasn’t just a new post, wasn’t just a new command. He was replacing two dead men. He’d like to avoid joining them. And he refused on principle to believe that the military of Atlantis would deliberately feed a man to the Wraith.

The reports from the past three months weren’t all that different from the earlier ones. Except that the city was no longer searching for John Sheppard. The mission reports were just a little more chaotic. It was hidden in military jargon, but perceptible if you knew what to look for. There were loads of requests to resume the search for Sheppard, mostly from Rodney McKay and all refused by the IOA. There were dozens more that hadn’t even made to the IOA. Whatever his other failings, the late military commander had known to filter out the rudest ones. Most of which were also from McKay.

The troops on Atlantis needed some stability and leadership, that much was evident. The fact that Cam was supposed to provide those things was a little intimidating. As recently as a couple of years ago, Cam wasn’t sure he’d have been up to the task. But the Air Force thought he was, now, so he’d have to be.

Cameron’s self-confidence took a blow about that fact, just a few days before the Daedalus reached Atlantis. He was having coffee in the Mess with the commander of the Daedalus, Colonel Stephen Caldwell. Cam hadn’t seen much of Caldwell during the month long trip, sort of on purpose. He hadn’t exactly been avoiding the man, but he’d known that Caldwell had at one time wanted the post at Atlantis himself. It struck him as a little awkward that Caldwell had now had to see three other men fill that slot, delivering two of them personally.

Caldwell probably figured out Cam’s thoughts, because he let Cam stew on how to acknowledge the situation without looking like he was apologizing for it. And then when Cameron tried – badly – Caldwell promptly corrected him.

“They offered me Atlantis,” Caldwell interrupted Cam’s stuttering.

Cam managed not to choke. “What?” he asked.

“They offered me your new position,” Caldwell said, flatly. “The IOA.”

“Oh.” Cam took a swig of his coffee, trying to process that statement. It came totally out of the blue. “Um,” he began.

“I turned it down,” Caldwell continued. “I suggested you.”

“What?” Cameron could only stare at him. “Why?

Caldwell shrugged. He leaned back in his chair, the tiniest of smirks twitching on his lips. Cam must have looked totally shell-shocked.

“I like my ship,” Caldwell said. “I like my command and I like my crew. I don’t feel any need to leave.”

For a second, Cam just blinked at him. He tried to ignore the vague second best feeling stinging in his chest.

“I know it’s Atlantis,” Caldwell said, knowingly. “But this is the Daedalus.” He glanced around the dimly lit mess. “And it’s mine.”

“It’s a great ship,” Cameron said, striving to sound respectful and not totally pissed off.

Caldwell seemed to understand him. “I recommended you,” he went on, “because I’d like to stay here.” He looked at Cam, pointedly.

Cam stared back at him, waiting for him say something else. When he didn’t, Cameron leaned forward. “I’m not following,” he confessed.

“I don’t want Atlantis to lose its third military commander in barely over a year,” Caldwell snapped. “Mitchell, I don’t want to pick up another coffin. If you can’t hack it, I’m next in line.”

The stinging turned into a flash of anger. “So if I die – ”

Caldwell nodded. “Yeah.”

Cameron took an irritated sip of his coffee. “Well, that’s not the plan,” he muttered.

“Nor is it mine,” Caldwell reminded him. “I recommended you because I think you can stay alive.” He paused, looked a little uncomfortable. “And your command style may be better suited to the troops currently stationed there than my own.” That sounded like a confession.


“Yeah?”

Caldwell grimaced. “I think you share more personality traits with the late Colonel Sheppard than I do.”

“That doesn’t sound like a compliment,” Cam accused, half-serious.

Caldwell shrugged. “He lasted,” he said, then glanced down at the table top. “For a while, anyway,” softer. Caldwell looked back up. “I’m perfectly willing to dismantle the Atlantis military and rebuild it to my liking,” he said, flatly. “But I’d prefer not to. Those people have been through enough trauma recently.” He paused and made a face. “And there are civilians.”

“Yeah,” Cam said. “So you think I can last?”

Caldwell picked up his coffee cup and looked at Cameron over the brim. “I wouldn’t have recommended you if I didn’t. I meant what I said. I want to stay on my ship and that means…”

“I have to stay alive.”

~

Cameron’s arrival on Atlantis was actually pretty anti-climactic. He put on his dress blues and reported to the Bridge. And then he was beamed down off the Daedalus with little more than a pointed look from Caldwell. The man had said all that was necessary.

His welcome to the city below was a bit more ceremonial. Major Evan Lorne had assembled the troops for his review, every squad in uniform and lined up in some massive, empty room where they all fit. It was perfectly orchestrated, every soldier’s shoes shined and every step in synch.

At first, Cam was almost overwhelmed by the spectacle. He drew his shoulders back and kept his spine as straight as the men’s marching before him. As much baggage as had lead to this moment was, it didn’t change how amazing it was.

But that was all it took for him remember that one reason the parade before him was so perfectly choreographed was the men had had to do it before, not so long ago, for a different commander.

That thought sobered him.

When the last pair of boots had marched into position, Cameron took his place at the front of the room. Lorne stood stiffly at his side.

The speech Cam had prepared said all the right things, or so he hoped. He acknowledged the recent upheaval in the city without dwelling on the fact that they’d lost two commanders in the past year. He tried to give John Sheppard the deference he deserved, while neatly – but not presumptuously – inserting himself into the man’s empty shoes. At the same time, Cameron tried not to remind them of the immediate failure of Sheppard’s replacement, while still making it very clear that he had absolutely no intention of taking that route himself.

It was a hard balance to hit and Cam had no idea how successful he was. The soldiers’ faces were impassive, of course. And it wasn’t like they’d tell him here and now if they already thought he sucked.

~

It would have been really easy to stay entranced by the glittering city, to be completely distracted from the mundane realities of dealing with the people who actually lived there. Cam had been to Atlantis before, but he’d never looked at it in this way before. It’d never been his city before.

Richard Woolsey immediately yanked Cameron back down from orbit, though. For the better, probably, but it didn’t change the fact that it hadn’t even been a month since he’d gotten this assignment and whenever he started reveling in it, someone forcibly reminded Cam just how complicated and hard it was supposed to be. It sucked, just a little.

He went with Woolsey to the man’s office, which had an amazing view out on to the ocean and some of the city. Cam didn’t get to look at it for long.


“Welcome,” Woolsey said, pouring Cameron a drink without asking.

“Thanks,” Cam said, eyes still on the view beyond the window. “This is a hell of a city.”

“Your office will be ready shortly,” Woolsey said. He coughed pointedly, and Cam remembered abruptly that the reason it wasn’t ready now was that the Daedalus had to beam up the possessions of the dead man who had occupied it last.

“No hurry,” Cameron said, cheerfully. “I don’t intend to spend much time there, anyways.”

Woolsey gave a faint smile. “I didn’t expect so.” He paused, looked uncertain if he should continue, then did. “I spoke with Colonel Carter,” he confessed. “She said not to plan on you having any more interest in paperwork than…your predecessors.” And that was a very deliberate choice not to name either of them.

Cam grimaced and picked up the glass Woolsey had poured for him. “It’s been a rough year,” he said. “For Atlantis.”

Woolsey nodded, drummed his fingers on the desktop. “I’m glad you realize that,” he said, slowly. He heaved a deep breath. “The anniversary of Colonel Sheppard’s disappearance was only two months ago. And we lost the last military commander a few weeks later.”

“And now here I come,” Cam observed. “Everyone must be so excited.” He took a sip of his drink, tried to swallow it smoothly.

“I’m excited,” Woolsey said, dryly, “that I’m assured you’re –”

“Not another incompetent IOA lapdog?” Cam interjected.

Woolsey looked annoyed. “I did not say that,” he replied. “But Colonel Carter had high praise for you.”

Cameron grinned. “Good to hear.” He paused. “Surprised she talked to you, though.”

“I replaced her, Colonel Mitchell,” Woolsey said. “I did not make the decision to remove her. She knows that. We’ve actually talked quite frequently over my tenure here. It’s been very helpful.”

“Good to have background,” Cameron agreed, and then immediately snapped his teeth shut because he’d just reminded them both that he, in fact, couldn’t talk to his predecessors.

Woolsey grimaced. “She has the best interests of Atlantis at heart,” he went on, “I know she wouldn’t want someone in your role she didn’t trust.”

“I’ve done a lot of reading up on it,” Cam said, lamely.

“Yes,” Woolsey said, nodding. “She did mention you enjoyed reading, er, memorizing, mission reports.”


“She also said that it wouldn’t really prepare me for actually being here,” Cameron offered. “So, I got that going for me.”

“It helps more than not,” Woolsey assured him.

Cam shrugged. “I didn’t see any civilians,” he said, moving on. “At my arrival this afternoon. I know they’re not under my command, but…”

“I’ve scheduled a departmental head meeting for tomorrow,” Woolsey interrupted. “To get you up to speed. I assume you’ll eventually want a tour of all the departments and that can be arranged, as well.”

“Okay,” Cam said, glad to be on the same page. “Sounds good.” Woolsey was making a strange face. “What?”

“I’ve asked the civilians to –“ he paused and scowled –“I’ve requested that they act with consideration and optimism during this very challenging time –”

“And not take bets on how long I’m going to last?” Cameron suggested.

“I didn’t say that in particular.” Woolsey’s frown deepened. “Perhaps I should have.”

“I get the drift,” Cam said. “Thanks for the warning.”

“I did ask them to behave,” Woolsey continued. “But there’s no guarantee.”

“Got it,” Cam said. “I got a thick skin.”

Woolsey nodded. “Good.”

“I didn’t see our Pegasus allies this afternoon, either,” Cameron said, moving on to his second question. Woolsey looked at him blankly. “Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex,” he clarified.

“Ah.” Woolsey’s brow creased. “I don’t think they knew you expected their presence. Teyla was probably with her family.”

“And Dex?”

Woolsey shrugged. “I don’t know.” It sounded genuine, but at the same time a very odd expression had taken over the man’s face.

“It was my impression that Dex has taken on a de facto military role,” Cam probed.

“That’s correct,” Woolsey said, quickly. “But-”

“Not the parade type?” Cameron guessed.

Woolsey nodded, but his eyes were scanning the room and refusing to meet Cam’s gaze. “I’m glad you understand that, too.”

“I think we can be friends,” Cam said, confidently.

Woolsey didn’t say anything, just nodded with that odd, uncertain expression on his face.

“I’ll track him down,” Cameron continued.

“After the staff meeting,” Woolsey suggested.

Cam shrugged. “Okay.”

“You’ll want to get settled,” Woolsey said, standing. “And unpack.”

Cameron rose as well. “Alright. But I don’t know where my quarters are.”

“I’ll show you,” he said. “Don’t worry, it can take some time to orient yourself to the city and figure out how simple things like the doors work.”

“I don’t think Sam conveyed just how much I like to read,” Cam said, mildly. “I’m good on that.”

“Yes, well,” Woolsey replied. “It’s different being here. Follow me to the transporter?”

Cam did, and they walked together down the corridor.

“I’m not in Colonel Sheppard’s old quarters, am I?” he asked, once they were inside the transporter.

“No,” Woolsey said, shaking his head. “That wouldn’t be for the best.”

“Good,” Cameron said. “Fresh start. I like it.”

It didn’t take Cam long to unpack his baggage. He hadn’t brought much, warned by Sam that the living quarters on Atlantis ran on the small side. She hadn’t been kidding. The bed was tiny, too. He slapped a framed photo of his parents on the bookshelf, put a photo of SG-1 next to it. There hadn’t been many decent team photos. This one happened to have Vala goosing Daniel out of frame, so everyone in it who wasn’t Daniel was laughing. Cam had chosen it both for the emotional pickup and because he liked that however he might idealize his memories of SG-1, it would serve as a reminder that more often than not, he was the one getting goosed by things far more malevolent than Vala.

Cam stayed up late that night, not tired at all. He didn’t even leave his quarters, just sat on his bed and looked out the window, watching the sun set and then the stars glitter at their reflections in the waters surrounding his new home.

~

Woolsey hadn’t been entirely wrong when he’d said the city took some figuring out. Cam had some trouble locating the cafeteria in the morning, despite having memorized the city’s blueprints. Woolsey also wasn’t wrong that the doors were a little tricky, but Cameron didn’t feel the need to share that fact with him.

It was a bit awkward getting breakfast. This was why he’d wanted to meet the civilians as soon as possible. Half the people in the mess were scientists who hadn’t seen him yet. They probably had to figure out who he was just based on having never seen him before. The population of Atlantis was limited enough that he guessed one new face would definitely stand out.

Their reactions, oddly enough, were mostly limited to blinking at him in confusion and then completely ignoring him. Some of the soldiers who had met him yesterday nodded or jerked to attention, but he waved them down.

Cameron sighed, again reminding himself that due to no fault of his own, it was going to take some work to win these people over. He had to prove that he wasn’t an incompetent IOA stooge and that he wasn’t going to up and die on them. Both of which, hopefully, wouldn’t be that hard.

Quickly, Cam tried to identify a familiar breakfast food and get out of there. He found something that looked like oatmeal – though it turned out to taste more like scrambled eggs, bizzarely – and ate by himself. No one joined him at the table. He didn’t take it personally. Well, he tried not to.

The departmental head meeting came next. It was, well, frankly the exact opposite of the military presentation. Cameron knew the scientists weren’t going to march around in perfect timing and salute him, but still. The meeting was in the debriefing room, a dozen or scientists seated around the table.

It was really boring.

Cam knew, practically-speaking, that these people were working on interesting, exciting, and important topics. But he’d spent enough time around Carter and Jackson to also know that they’d probably be totally incapable of communicating the bits he would actually care about. To their credit, each department head did try to limit their scientific babble to subjects that had real or theoretical application to the Atlantis military or at least to reconnaissance mission security. Kind of a stretch for Botany and Entomology. Except for those Iratus bug things, ugh.

It was still really boring.


Cameron may have tuned out at some point, around the same time he realized that Rodney McKay wasn’t in the room. He scanned the scientists’ faces around the table, was puzzled when he couldn’t find the man.

McKay’s official title was Chief Scientific Advisor or something; he should have been there.

A scruffy foreign-accented little man calling himself Dr. Radek Zelenka said he was representing the Science head, which sounded a lot like McKay’s job. Cam let him babble about more technical stuff he didn’t understand, then interrupted.

“Where’s Rodney McKay?” he asked Woolsey.

“Dr. Zelenka reported for that department,” Woolsey replied, which really wasn’t much of an answer.

Cameron looked to Zelenka. “Where’s your boss?”

“My boss?” Zelenka scowled, clearly not pleased with that description.

“Yeah,” Cam said. “McKay.”

“He is doing project,” Zelenka said, shifting in his seat.

“Couldn’t be bothered to show up?” Cam translated, irritated. McKay was managing to annoy him before they’d even officially met.

“No,” Zelenka said, quickly. “He is busy. You came before project finished.” And that was also not really an answer.

“The Daedalus arrived a few days earlier than expected,” Woolsey spoke up. “I’m sure Dr. McKay intended to be available.”

“Uh-huh,” Cameron muttered, doubtfully. He glanced at Zelenka, found the other man unwilling to return his gaze. The little guy was looking at the table top like it was fascinating. “I’ll just have to go introduce myself personally,” he said.

“You cannot,” Zelenka replied, hands fidgeting. “He is in, erm, time-controlled experiment in secure laboratory.”

Cam blinked. “Doing what?” he tested.

Zelenka stared back at him, looking somewhere past Cameron’s head. “Assessing alien substance for energy properties,” he said, which sounded like the same kind of babble he’d already presented.

“Oh,” Cam said, deciding that if McKay really wanted to put this much effort into avoiding him, Cameron would just have to go force the issue. “Well, thanks for coming on his behalf. Let me know when he’s available.”

Zelenka nodded. “Of course.” He scratched at his head.

Cam stayed seated at the table with Woolsey while the scientists gathered their papers and left.

“McKay must be super excited about me,” he muttered to Woolsey.

Woolsey shrugged. “More likely he doesn’t actually care,” he offered, like that was better.

Cameron scowled.

“Next on the agenda is a tour of the city,” Woolsey said. “Ready?”

~

Cam’s tour guide was someone he’d been wanting to meet, the Athosian Teyla Emmagan. He’d probably met her when SG-1 had visited Atlantis a couple years ago, but he didn’t remember. There’d been other stuff on his mind. For some reason, he’d expected her to be taller. Emmagan was small in stature, petite even. He’d imagined the woman in the reports was taller and bigger. Emmagan definitely didn’t look like she could kick his ass, but Sam had warned him that she totally could.

Emmagan was polite and friendly, pretty much the warmest person he’d met so far. That didn’t take much, but Cam instantly liked her. She didn’t have the baby with her, but Cam remembered from the files and conversations with Sam that Emmagan had a son and a husband-type person. He thought that was a shame. She was really nice. And pretty.

Woolsey left them alone, heading back to his office.

“What would you like to see first, Colonel Mitchell?” Emmagan asked him, smiling.

“Cameron,” he corrected. “Call me Cam.”

Emmagan inclined her head, but he noticed she didn’t offer him the same familiarity. Maybe she wasn’t that friendly. “Very well,” she said. “What would you like to see first, Cameron?”

He shrugged. “Everything?”

She started to walk and he moved to match her stride. “That will take some time,” Emmagan said.

“I got time,” he answered. “Why don’t you show me what you think I should see?”

Emmagan was a pretty good tour guide. She knew a lot about the city, having been here since nearly day one. He was a little surprised by how much she seemed to know about the Ancient technology, especially since a lot of what he’d read had suggested that most Pegasus natives had been kept in Stone Age living conditions thanks to the Wraith.

Cameron tried to pay attention to her monologue as they walked, but he was also contemplating how he should introduce the fact that he wanted her on his reconnaissance team. It seemed rude, somehow, to flat out state he wanted to take over Sheppard’s team. But he didn’t want to pretend it’d never existed. Cam frowned, wondering if every decision he make he was going to be haunted by that man’s ghost.

Emmagan noticed the expression on his face.

“Do you have a question?” she asked.

“Huh? No.” He paused, then went on, sort of blindly. “I appreciate the tour. I’m glad you were willing to meet with me.”

“Of course. Why would I not be?” She looked genuinely confused.

“I know it’s been a…transitional time,” Cameron offered, but that made her frown. “Rough,” he amended. “No one seems too thrilled to have a new military commander in town.”

“Yes,” Emmagan agreed, so quickly he almost wished for platitudes instead. “But it is not personal.”

Cam grimaced. He decided to just go for it. “Would you be interested in resuming your position on a ‘Gate team?” he asked.

Emmagan looked at him like she hadn’t quite understood the question. “You intend to form a team?” she asked, which was kind of strange. Of course he did.

“Yeah,” Cameron said. “I’m not a desk kind of guy.”

“Oh,” she said, the curious expression still on her face. She was fiddling with her hair, tucked around the earpiece worn on there.

He didn’t understand her confusion, but went on anyway. “Would you be willing to serve on my team?”

Emmagan continued to look at him oddly, still fidgeting with her earpiece. “I would,” she said, after a small hesitation. “That would be acceptable.”

At this point, he’d expected her to say no. He was surprised she’d agreed. “Okay,” he said. “Great.”

Emmagan smiled at him, but she still seemed distracted.

“Someone on your earpiece?” Cameron guessed.

She shook her head, immediately dropped her hand from the side of her face. “No,” Emmagan said, clearly lying. She saw him tilt his head and amended, “My teammates were talking to each other on our channel. It was distracting.”

“Your teammates,” Cam said. Dex and McKay. “I’d like to meet them, as well.”

“Of course.”

“McKay is hiding from me,” he told her.

“He is working,” she shot back, quickly.

Cam made a mental note to temper his attitude towards McKay. “What have you three been up to, recently?” he asked, changing the subject.

If Emmagan noticed he neatly avoiding tacking on ‘since Sheppard died’ to his question, she didn’t show it. “I have been spending time with my family,” she said. “I have a child.”

Cameron nodded. “I know.”


“Rodney has been working in his lab,” she continued. “And Ronon has been going on pilgrimages.”


He blinked at her. “Pilgrimages?”

Emmagan looked at him and nodded. “He has taken this time to undertake many rituals of his people,” she said.

“He didn’t strike me as the religious type,” Cam said, honestly.

Her eyes forward, Emmagan shrugged. “He is quite spiritual,” she said, but Cam wasn’t sure it sounded entirely genuine. She paused. “You have not met him, yet,” she reminded him.

“No,” he said. “But I read a lot about him.”

Now, she glanced at him. “Did you also read about me?”

“I did.”

“What did you think?” she asked, curious.

“That you were a valuable team member and I wanted you on mine,” Cameron said, honestly.

Emmagan dipped her head, smiled.

“Speaking of which,” Cameron said, abruptly remembering. “I’m supposed to hit up the infirmary.”

“Are you ill, Colonel Mitchell?” Emmagan asked.

“Nope.” He slapped his arm. “I need one of those tracker things so I can leave the city. And we’re gonna try and see if the ATA-gene therapy will work on me.”

“You do not have the gene?” she asked.


“Not yet,” he said, hopefully. “Let’s find the nearest transporter?” He stopped, expecting to backtrack. They’d passed one only a few minutes ago.


Instead, Emmagan pointed ahead. “This way,” she said.

It seemed to Cameron that they had to walk a lot farther to get to the transporter she had in mind, instead of reversing to the one they’d just passed. And then, once in the transporter, she hit keys that would bring the lift the wrong direction.

“Hey,” he said, stopping her hand. “Up, right?”

“Ah, yes,” Emmagan said. “I am mistaken.”

He blinked at her, a little confused.

“It is a large city,” she said, correcting the key strokes.

And it was, but Woolsey had elected her to show him around and she clearly knew it well. For no reason at all, Cameron was abruptly suspicious. He looked at her, but she only smiled.

“You are learning your way around very quickly,” Emmagan said. “I am impressed.

Cameron didn’t think she was impressed. The compliment felt fake and forced. Like something had just happened to throw off the nice, friendly vibe they’d had going all of half an hour ago. He wondered what her teammates had said into her ear, exactly.

 

~ Please feed the author~


Part 2

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