Pairing: Sam/Mckay (friendship)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Summary: The city of Atlantis has been abandoned, its population driven out by a strange, native virus. Back on Earth, Mckay and Sam receive a distress call from the ghost city…
Chapter One: NICE TO SEE YOU TOO…
“Well, this can’t be good.”
Sam struggled through the door into the dreary room, carting several open boxes. “Hello Mckay – long time no see. How’s life?” she mocked, managing to prevent a landslide in her arms with a nifty side shuffle.
Mckay looked up, puzzled. “What, what?” he said. “Oh… yes,” he realised that this was the first time he had seen her in several months. With them it was as if they never left one another’s side. Mckay waved back. “Doing well, have a new cat – lives here with me, you?”
She lowered her gaze to the corner of the cramped office where a pair of liquid gold eyes peered back. Mckay’s cat snarled, puffing its hair up into needle like shards before stalking off amongst the debris of Mckay’s possessions. “Nice…” she muttered. “How important is that gadget you’re working on?”
The room went silent as Mckay paused, “I – why do you ask?”
“If you don’t get up here and clear some desk space for me, it’ll be your legacy.”
He was up in a flash. There were two desks in the Alien Artefact and Potential Developments Department (AAPD), both of which were hidden beneath several layers of Mckay’s muck. He had been stuck down here ever since the Atlantis base was abandoned three months ago.
Mckay stepped back and nodded at the clear space. She made a dash from the door and deposited the contents of her arms just as it slipped from her hold. Now, more than ever, the room looked like a small disaster area.
“Much better,” she cracked her elbows, reaching her arms up to the ceiling. She was dressed in a mustard overcoat and ash-gray jeans, prevented from trailing along the ground by combat boots.
“What did they get you for?”
Sam turned around and leant against the desk, facing Rodney. He looked exhausted and pale. “How do you know I didn’t ask for this post?” She lasted about a minute before his gaze cut through her. “All right,” she confessed. “It turns out that I’m more use to the Airforce down here than I am up there.” She pointed nondescriptly to the sky.
“So, not an Astronaut then…”
“No…” she replied quietly. “Something about blonds in space.”
Three days later, they were both asleep – deep rumbling snores filling the dank office. Mckay’s hand slipped off the desk and dangled awkwardly, the action dragging his head that bit further toward the edge. Sam subconsciously re-folded her arms, burring her head warmly in them. The hostile cat prowled along the edge of her desk, purposely knocking a delicate device off. The feline progressed and in an elegant jump, landed beside Mckay where it nuzzled his hair and curled up.
In another galaxy, the city of Atlantis drifted on a hazed-cloaked ocean. Smoke sat low on the water, several metres thick. Red light bounced off the atmospheric shell, obscuring the details of the city’s buildings. Everything was blurry, as if part of a dream.
A bleached skeleton lay draped over the west pier. Two clawed feet hopped along the exposed bones, surveying the ocean. The narrow throated bird fluffed its brown plumage and ducked into the body’s ribcage, protected from the salt laden wind.
It tucked its head under one of its folded wings, disturbed by a shrill sound escaping the city behind.
Chapter 2 : DOWNTOWN
The phone rang several times but remained ignored by the snoozing scientists. They had both been up past dawn, tinkering with a Tollan device found floating in space a year ago. Unfazed, their answering machine clicked on and Mckay’s crackled recording clicked over.
“If it’s not important, leave a message. If it’s vital to human survival or planetary safety – send a powerbar, flask of coffee, and – ”
“Mckay! This is my answering service too.”
“I was here first. You should get your own phone number.”
“You’ve reached Colonel Carter and Dr. Rodney Mckay, ignore him, and please leave a message.”
A harsh tone made the sleeping pair twitch.
“Ah, Sam? It’s Daniel. I’m downtown at that French coffee house you showed me last time I was here. Picked up something interesting on a recent trip. You should join me, I’ll be here all day… You sure you’re not there?”
Mckay’s cat unfurled its claws and began to kneed Mckay’s arm demandingly. The scientist felt the cold stabs of sharpened calcium dig in and draw blood.
“Ge-off,” he mumbled, unhooking the cat’s claws. The cat persisted, resuming its action with renewed determination. Mckay growled and with all his strength, lifted his from the desk. He was greeted by a world of white. It took him several moments to realise that a sheet of paper was stuck to his forehead, obscuring his view.
Conscious, he lowered his eyes and glared at the moon-eyed cat. “Might I remind you, that you’re not registered,” he hissed at it.
“Why are you even here?” said Sam, several hours later as they made their way down the busy street. It was the beginning of Autumn. There was a cruel chill tickling the turning leaves, reminding the street side trees that snow was on its way. Sam pulled her coat closed and latched it up across her chest.
Rodney trailed a step behind, glove covered hands tucked into his dark green trench coat. “I need to get out,” he explained, wishing he’d opted for a beanie.
“You’re such an arse, Mckay.” Sam prodded him sharply, almost overbalancing him. “Your sister wanted to come and see you… I don’t know why you can’t be happy that another life form elects to be in your company.”
“Apparently you do.”
“I’m paid, there’s a difference.”
“Rubbish. You love me.”
Daniel was located, nose first in a coffee mug. Catching sight of Sam stride past the glass store-front windows, he quickly set his smug down and dove into the rugged satchel beside his high-backed chair. From its depths he withdrew a field notebook and flicked to the appropriate page.
It was safe to talk in the corner he had picked out, though he was surprised to find Dr. Mckay in tow.
“Couldn’t shake him,” explained Sam, taking a seat.
Mckay frowned, “Oh how nice…”
It was tragic how they seemed to form a pair despite the time they spent loathing one another.
“No, no…” said Daniel, readjusting his glasses. “I was hoping you’d bring him along.”
“Name’s Mckay… Dr. Rodney Mckay.”
No one paid him the slightest bit of attention.
Daniel turned the diary around so that they could read the line of text his index finger ran along. Rodney frowned, ripping the book from Daniel’s grasp through Sam’s protests. He held it up to the light filtering through the glass. The string of numbers, carefully transposed by Daniel’s hand, made Rodney want to climb the tallest monument and leap off it into the freezing air.
“The – meaning – of – life…” he muttered, word by word.
“Give it here,” Sam easily snatched it from him and then held off his groping mitts with her spare hand. “It better not be 42.”
“It’s not,” he assured her. “They’re natural constants written next to a whole set of numbers I have never seen before…”
“I recognise this one,” Sam pointed to an eight digit string. Mckay nodded but secretly wondered what it meant. “Where did you get these?” asked Sam, not yet relinquishing the book.
“Hacked into a temple wall on P8X 595. The SGC unofficially wants you to take a look.”
Sam narrowed her eyes, “What’s going on, Daniel?”
“The new government thinks it’s a waste of time, but Jack wants to be sure. He thinks it could be the remnants of a new race of beings that are intelligent and, he hopes, sympathetic to our cause. We need all the help we can get now Atlantis is lost.”
“And how do you propose we investigate below radar? I mean, there’s only one gate…” Mckay held up a single finger and waved it about.