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Aberrant: StarGate Atlantis - S1: E4: The Storm/The Eye

Dawn OOC

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Gossip spread like wildfire on Atlantis normally; this news spread faster than light. Two massive storms had combined into one, covering twenty percent of the planet and bearing down on them. It would sweep over the mainland first before pounding on Atlantis. The command team swept into action quickly, but even they couldn’t outpace the wagging tongues of bored personnel.

Manaria reluctantly agreed to take the Earth refuges. The planet wasn’t exactly friendly, but they seemed willing to gain favors. There was a problem with staying with them; the Manarians were only willing to take two hundred of Atlantis’s two hundred forty-nine refuges. Five were staying behind, which left forty-four people who needed to go somewhere else.

People were getting legitimately worried about the remaining forty-four souls when Sheppard called a meeting with a group of people. They met in one of the larger room, on a lower level of the main tower. There were about fifty people there – those who bothered to count noted that there were exactly forty-four people in the room, not counting Sheppard.

“Thank you for coming,” Major Sheppard said without preamble when everyone was seated. “I’m sure you’ve all heard about the storm and our problems finding enough space for everyone. The good news is that of twenty minutes ago, we found a solution. A planet called Nixar is willing to allow us to put the rest of our people there. You are all smart folks, so I’m sure you’ve figured out that you are the lucky forty-four we’re going to send to Nixar. We’ve been told that we’ll need to camp in their bazaar, so it won’t be very hospitable, but it will be off Atlantis. Everyone is to pack light, essentials only. You’ll be issued tents and other survival gear, as well as some food and trade goods. Remember this will only be for a couple of days, but plan for the possibility that this might be permament. Atlantis might not survive the storm.”

“And if that happens?” Dr. Kavanagh asked, his voice tense and nasal.

“In that case, find a place to survive and try to find a way home,” Sheppard said before adding firmly, “but that isn’t going to happen. No way McKay’s letting this city sink.”

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"Bloody hell," She fumed. Evana crossed her arms, hiking up a set of the loveliest cleavage Atlantis had to offer the galaxy. "Why couldn't I be sent with one of the groups to an island resort planet sipping drinks with umbrellas in coconuts."

"Something you'd like to share, Captain?" Major Sheppard asked, a slight grin forming on his lips. Truth be told she could have been enjoying those little drinks about now, but after her shenanigans with Bannon in the lab the other day, the Major felt this was punishment enough. Although he had to admit the look on Bannon's face when he claimed she'd reorganized his notes and research into a chaotic mess was almost worth a commendation, it took hours for him reorganize it all.

"No, sir." Her British accent added a certain charm to her sarcasm. She managed a feigned grin. "Just praising my good karma. I so love markets, have I ever told you?"

"Later." Sheppard replied. "For now form a small team and let's get this place secured for our departure."

"Of course, Major." She offered an informal nod of her head and set about her duty.

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'Orders are orders,' sigh, 'Go were they send ya.'

Without waiting, PFC Rivets picked up his pack, shouldered it, and swung the 82 lbs. onto his back. To some people, 82 lbs. wan't "packing light", but Rivets wasn't one of those people. You humped your kit, UNLESS you knew you didn't have to hump your kit. End of story. Even so, he knew they were going to give him more shit to carry. They always did.

Others milled around, somewhat uncertain of what to do, what to pick, and wondering if they could switch out with someone else, somehow. It was so much babble to the private. Internally, he went through the mission briefing (sure, it was short, but you take what you can get),

- Going to planet Nixar - check (not a clue were it is, but its a planet so does it really matter.)

- Base camp will be in the local market place/bazaar - check (Simple enough. Probably not defensible, but ... )

- Primary mission = hold Base camp/keep civvies alive (it was always keep the civvies alive here, wasn't it?) - check

- Primary mission duration = couple (2~5) days - check (two can be couple/ more than five is a week) - check

- Secondary mission - Survive a prolonged visit with a possibly hostile populace (shrug - pack extra ammo)

- Secondary mission duration - until relieved or team finds it's own way home (shrug - a classic case of NMP) [Not My Problem]

- GTHP (Go native and wait to be relieved ... I suppose)

"Aaah ... sir?" Some civilian was talking to Rivets. "Could you help me? I don't know what to carry."

Paul turned to face the man, who couldn't have been more than 5'6". The private was a head taller than the man.

'Smile. Always remember to smile when dealing with the civvies. Otherwise you might scare them (them's the Orders)

"Sir, I'm not a sir. I'm a Private. Sirs are for Officers." Rivets tried to present the lesson as good-natured as he could. What followed might not have helped.

"Sure thing, sir (little s - only officers got the big S ... except for Dr. Weir maybe). Why don't we find you the Sergeant? She'll know the specifics of your minimum kit - that's Army-talk for luggage - and tell you what to leave behind."

'The Sarge would know. Sergeants always know. I bet she even knew about this mission before Sheppard did. It was the mission of Sergeants to know BEFORE the officers did. That's just how it was.'

Rivets rocked up on his toes then smiled.

"I spotted her, Doc (they all seemed to be some kind of Doc, though apparently some of them - hell, most of them - weren't the Fix-You-Up kind of Docs). Come with me. I see her."

The PFC took the smaller man's hand and putting the Doc(?) behind him, began shouldering his way through the crowd. No, he didn't ask to take the man's hand. Paul did manage to say "Xcuse me", and "Pardon me" as he moved toward the Sarge, but he moved forward none the less.

'Almost there.'

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Inoae, as was her wont, was practically hiding behind Yseult. Maj Or Shep Erd didn't frighten her the way Cap Tane Bates did, but he was still a high ranking male the reported directly to the qu- to the Dok Tor Weer. And there had been all the questions that Dok Tor Mi Kay had asked her about the hive ship, which didn't make any sense. How was she to know about the hive ship? She was no scientist male, to tinker with the ship or know how it operated! By then end, Dok Tor Mi Kay was yelling at her and she was crying and the qu- the Dok Tor Weer had to make her male go away. Inoae had been sure she would be punished....she deserved to be punished, for making one of Dok Tor Weer's males so angry...but Dok Tor Weer had only called her Yseult Moreau and sent them both away.

And now they were abandoning the hive ship, which also didn't make sense but Inoae certainly shouldn't think that or say anything. She was already in trouble with two of the Dok Tor Weer's males, angering Shepherd would surely mean punishment.

Unlike the others, Inoae had no military kit or scientific instruments to take with her. The slip of a woman stayed in her Yseult Moreau's shadow and waited for direct orders.

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Curtis had quietly nodded while listening to the instructions given. Given the description of Nixar, it sounded like a low-tech world, though he ought to have it confirmed for surety. "Sir, just to be clear, what tech level is Nixar's population?"

Sheppard's quirk of the mouth might be called apologetic, or not- considering that the SG forces worked a great deal with lower-tech cultures. "We didn't have time for an in-depth survey, but they don't have indoor plumbing."

Yep. Curtis added that into his calculations of what to bring, because it they needed to get home by chance, they'd need his assortment of tools, his precious laptop, and probably some safely protected parts. The stuff in his tech lab section of his quarters basically, which did not carry too much weight.

Others though, had a different take.

Evana threw up her arms in feigned frustration and eye-rolling, "No indoor plumbing?!? Oh balls... So not only will I be squatting in some marketplace, but I get to squat in the bushes too?" She sighed in a moping way. "Where's my bloody island... and my coconut drinks?"

Curtis only sighed in response, very quietly under his breath- and went to pack his gear, and make sure the workshop were prepared to be hit by terrible weather.

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Captain Tanner approached Major Sheppard. "Commander, who is in charge of this expedition? We have multiple individuals of the same rank, and a clear chain of command would help prevent conflict."

Sheppard responded, "Captain Bates will be in charge. Got any problems with that?"

"None at all, sir. Being in command gives you more control, but means you also have all of the responsibility." Tanner saluted, and waited for Shepard's dismissal before going to get his own gear and to double check the gear people were bringing. For his own use, he brought an assault rifle, several magazines, a couple of boxes of ammo, and otherwise a pretty standard long range kit. There was a bit more weight than usual, especially with bringing extra grenades and claymores, but he didn't expect to be carrying it all with him at all times, though he had handled worse when the situation called for it.

Dropping his kit off by the gate, he started going over the gear the civilians had packed, in quite a few cases pulling out useless items that were wasted space and weight for a trip like this. He responded to complaints with, "You were ordered to pack light. You couldn't carry this all day while marching, so you packed too heavily. We can't abandon advanced tech on these worlds without possibly giving people technology they aren't ready for, so if you can't carry it, don't bring it." Any commenting on the size of his pack would get the simple response of, "I can carry that much on a 7 day forced march. I've done it before. Therefore, I did not pack too heavily."

People were allowed to keep what they actually needed, it was just things such as bringing too many sets of clothes or other items easily gathered in the field that he objected to. Even with how long they had been out here, some of them had packed as if they were going for a week's vacation at some resort instead of a week as refugees in a foreign country.

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"Look out LeBlanc, Tanner's being a dick again." Private Mathers slapped Private LeBlanc on the shoulder as he passed the guy up and continued to gather his belongings. "I swear the guy get's off on hearing himself talk."

"Eh, he's a dick." LeBlanc scoffed in Tanner's direction. "Try being on a mission with the guy, Jesus."

"Stow it ladies." Evana stood between the two men with her arms folded, giving them both a diapproving look. It was hard to believe she was a Captain in the Marine Corps with the way she wore her brown leather pants like a second skin. The heeled boots didn't lend much to her credibility either. "Tanner has a job to do and he's doing it. He' also your ranking officer, so mind what you say aloud. People are on edge enough with out you pillocks adding to the already low morale."

"But, ma'am..." Private tried to argue with the rather easy going Captain.

"But, nothing." Her icy blue eyes glared at the man, freezing his resolve. "Captain Tanner is a soldier, so instead of mewling like spanked school girls, nut up and take notes."

Private Mathers stood up straight with his chin high, "Ma'am." He acknowledged her with a measure of pride in his voice.

"Mathers, go with Sgt. Moreau and assist her in anyway you can. LeBlanc, instead of bitching about Tanner, go assist him instead. Show the civilians how to pack their belongings in a manner that makes them easiest to carry and get them ready for their assigned lodgings. I have a feeling we'll all be carrying our own tents."

"Yes, ma'am." Leblanc said, feeling a bit ashamed. "Um, you're not going to tell Tanner are you?"

Evana smirked and placed her hands on her hips. "Well, sweetie, that depends on you. Do your part during all this and see to it that everything goes smoothy and I don't see any reason Tanner needs to know that he's a dickhead. Move out ladies, I'm done with pep talks."

The two soldiers dispersed, grabbing their belongings and heading out to their assignments.

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LeBlanc was a little distracted, so his error was perhaps understandable as he came to the first bundle of belongings next to someone not in military uniform. A small rucksack, the tent and so on were all acceptable, but a large, old-fashioned doctor's bag, reinforced leather with a simple-looking lock on the top, was sitting beside the stacked kit. It looked heavy, and he doubted the archaic looking holdall contained necessaries, so he reached for it in an attempt to determine which dumbass civilian had decided to take their butterfly collection with them-

"Excuse me."

The frosty, acidic tone of voice was as effective an identifier as namebadge. LeBlanc half-sighed, half-twitched and turned to look into a pair of coolly disdainful green eyes belonging to Doctor Bannon, posessor arguably the worst attitude towards his fellow man in the Pegasus galaxy.

"Yes, Doctor?" he asked.

"That case. Does it belong to you?" Bannon asked, pale green eyes open wide with feigned curiousity. LeBlanc sighed again and squared his shoulders.

"Actually, I think it's yours, sir. We were told-"

"I see." The educated tones were like silk being wiped over a knife blade. "So it's mine." He looked at the bag, then at the soldier. "Not yours?"

"That's correct, sir." It was like being in front of a drill sergeant, with less shouting and a lot more malice, LeBlanc reflected. He tried again "But our orders-"

"Are reasonable. But if you or anyone else touches my bag, there will be... unpleasantness, because I am not reasonable. Mainly because I see no reason to be so. Now go and bother someone else. I have been packing my own belongings since I was in 6th grade, and I see no reason to stop now."

"Yes sir." LeBlanc gave up. He wasn't being paid enough to deal with that unpleasant tone of voice. Let Tanner or Evana deal with Dr Bannon. He wished them well. "Asshole." he muttered under his breath as he walked away.

"Yes." the doctor calmly agreed as he sat by his gear, dressed in his habitual white linen clothing and waiting for the word to go. He tapped a silver-foiled cigarette out of his case and lit it. "I am."

As he took a drag on the smoke, the young-looking doctor reflected that this really was the fucking limit. Whilst it might be interesting to see this bazaar and perhaps wander a strange alien city, having to do so as a disaster refugee was definitely not his preferred motive. Nor was the company his preference: namely he, himself and him. Crammed into noisy, crowded tents with the likes of Shane (a greasemonkey with a diploma), Inoue (a jellyfish without the assertiveness and strength of character), Moreau (a man eater with about as much subtlety as a jackhammer) and *shudder* that pain in the ass on heels Evana, who made him want to dig deep into his soul and find new strata of spiteful chemical retribution for her recent 'organising' of his papers. The fact that that talking pucker-brained asshole Sheppard and the other jarheads thought the whole episode was funny simply fuelled the fires of Bannon's cold dislike of the military. Why the hell he'd even listened to ONeill, he didn't know. He was reduced to a glorified grocer for a bunch of delinquent morons who'd managed to strand him umpteen thousand lightyears away from the nearest quality tobacconist.

So he puffed gently on his cigarette (only two packs left) and reflected, sparing a flesh-etching glare for anyone that even looked as though they wanted to 'advise' him or tell him to put the smoke out.

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Tanner approached Bannon fearlessly. The guy might be abrasive, but as long as he could do his job, Tanner didn't care. "I'm surprised you've got any of those left," he commented, nodding to the cigarette. "I made certain never to pick up the habit. Knew I would be in places where I would have to go without too often to make it worthwhile. Your gear is your own business," for one thing the man was way too ocd to have over packed or let anyone else touch his stuff, "but do you have any medicine that needs to be carried by someone with less gear? We're not supposed to be there long, but medicine is something I'd rather lug there and back than have to go without."

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A frozen green eye studied the captain as the doctor took another puff on the expensive cigarette. Unlike some of the scientists, Bannon was actually in pretty good shape for a civvy. On the forays he'd made, he'd never complained about carrying his load or about sore feet. Of course, that could equally be stubborn pride and a refusal to allow others to see his discomfort.

"Fascinating." he said as though he'd discovered some new microbe on his scope. An ugly, multi-tentacled one with weird sexual habits. "First, you say that my gear is my own business, which is admirable of you to be sure. Then you enquire whether I want anyone to carry any of my medicines. Seeing as the contents of this case comprise a sizable sampling of my life's work, I would rather entrust my testicles to a retard with a steak tenderiser than let anyone else carry them for me." He took another drag on his cigarette. "In the direst emergency, I might require someone to hold my case while I utilise the contents. If that occurs, Captain, I shall be sure to single you out." He blew a plume of smoke from each nostril.

"Was there anything else?"

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"Sir, with all due respect, extra bandages or a case of supplies that might save lives is something above and beyond your personal gear. If you have everything you need, so be it. The medic just happens to be one of the few positions I will order my men to carry extra gear for. I like having my people survive their mistakes, so I can give them a proper chewing out later." Turning he moved on to the other civvies. He had made his offer of aid. Time to see how well the rest were prepared as people continued to trickle into the gate room.

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Watching the people around and coming to the (all too common) conclusion that she was neither needed nor wanted to do anything useful, Inoue did something that would have had Dr. Heightmeyer jumping and clapping in elation over: she voluntarily separated herself from her Yseult Moreau to indulge her curiosity. Now, the separation was only by a dozen feet or so, well within sight and a quick jump back to her Yseult Moreau's side if she was needed, but the fact that she'd actually been curious and acted on it was a major step forward for the abused former captive. She could have chosen a better object for her fascination, unfortunately.

The pale waif ghosted over next to the taciturn botanist, crinkling her nose at the smell of cigarette even though she was quite used to them at this point. She kept herself mostly behind the scientist, sidling up to his medical bag with an intent expression. Dok Tor Gor Ro had a bag very similar to it, one that he had used to bandage her hand when they had gone to trade for food. She hadn't seen much of the male since then, save once a month when she was taken for a physical and one other time when she had tripped on towel in the bathroom and nearly given herself a concussion. They hadn't gone to another world together again, and now she was about to go to another world and a different member of the hive was carrying a bag almost like his. Dok Tor Gor Ro had been strange, but nice for a male; he'd reminded her a little of Darkness and a little of Shadow. Perhaps this male was like him? One that stopped bleeding and hurting in a hive without the means for the Gift?

Maybe it was just the bag that did that.

Most people could feel when someone was staring at them: some primal instinct picked up subtle clues in the environment and reacted by raising the hairs on their neck or just making their back feel exposed. Bannon, being the person that he was, had such instincts for his work, and now some other well-meaning moron was probably about to off to carry the "weak scientist's" most precious possessions. He let out another stream of smoke before snapping off, "Leave. It. Alone." in tones icy enough to remind those nearby of stints in the Antarctic, before glancing back to drive home the point with a long-perfected glare.

He was greeted by a pair of hazel eyes and an expression halfway between terror and tears. The young Lantean nearly fled back to the safety of Yseult's shadow, but her fear of injury and pain, with no Gift cure it, held her long enough for her to stammer out, "Ba...bag? Bag like Gift?"

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Yseult lounged with deceptive ease, arms crossed and the disgusted irritation she was radiating keeping a space clear around her... save for Inoae in her shadow of course. Why they hadn't limited the group roughing it on Nixar to military personnel was beyond her, it made about as much sense as embedding journalists in field units. There would still be enough military to babysit the squints on Manaria and nothing was stopping them from regrouping if the worst happened to Atlantis, but what did she know. It was probably some nonsensical regulation instigated by the IOA.

Lucky her, she found Private Rivets heading her way, civvy in tow and just behind them, Captain Princess had sent her Private Mathers. Rivets, didn't have the initiative for SpecOps, but he didn't think much and always followed orders, made his a good soldier, an excellent grunt. Mathers wasn't sure Evana had done him any favours; sure, Moreau was far nice on the eyes than Tanner, but if anything, she was a bigger bitch than he was a dick... Some whispered she had the bigger dick too, but those were the ones who she hadn't ridden to exhaustion.

"Rivets, Mathers, what do you want? Watching the squints scurry?" Yseult growled with a malicious grin. The civilian hung back, reconsidering asking for any help with packing.

"Sergeant Moreau, this civilian needs help with deciding what to pack," Rivets said with his typical directness.

"What,'essentials' too big a word for you?" Yseult snorted, giving the squint and the rest of the civilians in general a scathing look. "Food, water, shelter and the tools to get such. Basic first aid kit - unless you're a real doctor - side arm if you can manage not to shoot yourself, or more importantly, us, in the foot. Anything pertaining to your specialty, if it'll be of real use in keeping you and us alive."

Yseult rolled her broad shoulders, no seeming to notice the weight of her recon survival kit with the addition of her broken down Barret XM500 Sniper Rifle strapped to it, and patted the pair of matte-black K-bars attacked to her web-harness. "Rivets, Mathers, show 'em how to fucking distribute the weight of their packs and warn them that they better be sure that what they take, they fucking need. If they can't carry their own shit, its gets dropped on the trail. If they leave it behind, they might get it back. One of them brings a stamp collection, it gets used for kindling."

Yseult waved them off with sharp gesture, resisting the urge to light up when she caught the pungent scent of Bannon's cigarette. From habit, her eyes found Inoae, privately pleased she had stepped out to indulge her curiosity without being ordered too, disgusted that her curiosity took her to Bannon. If was hard to say who was the bigger asshole, him or McKay. McKay was an overweening egotist, but Bannon was pure acid arrogance. Should probably just geld the fuckers - We need their brains - supposedly, the ones in their skulls, not the little ones between their legs.

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Wonderful. Just about perfect, in fact. The sentient jellyfish was asking him something, and true to form was being as cluelessly vague as ever. The fact that she had large, warm hazel eyes and a childlike expression of terror merely added to Bannon's irritation, who hadn't signed up to be stranded in a far off galaxy playing "Me Tarzan, you Moron" with a witless native.

"This bag isn't a gift for anyone. It's mine." he told the wide-eyed girl, then sighed, glancing around to see if Moreau would be hurrying over to keep her little maidservant out of his hair. Seeing that the amazon was busy dealing with other subspecies of two-legged paramecium, Bannon sighed again and looked back at Inoue. "It carries my medicines, drugs, things to help people. In addition to a few small things in case we need a quick field analysis. It might save lives or prevent illness, which is why I am taking it despite my intense desire to see certain members of this little exodus develop explosive diarrhea." He gave Inoue a hard stare.

"So don't touch it. There's things in here that are dangerous as well as helpful. If Moreau finds you up a tree chasing purple winged unicorns, I'm sure we'll all know why." Privately, Bannon wouldn't be surprised if Inoue saw purple winged unicorns anyway, but didn't bother saying so in case it simply confused the girl more.

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"Yes Sergeant," Rivets replied saluting. They were 'inside' so saluting was allowed. In the field, you had to be more careful. He reminded himself of this often. He turned on the two civilians closest to him, "Come with me ..." he looked around for a clear spot," ... over here."

The Private led the two to an open spot, passed by some civvie staring down the Sarge's native ... (position uncertain). When he got to the place, he swung his pack down and had them do the same.

"Okay, let me see what you have."

The two civilians began emptying their packs. Some items they handled gingerly - not a good sign . If it was in his nature, he would have sighed in frustration of how long it took. They simply didn't know how to pack was all. Now to begin.

"Okay, pack your half-tent on the bottom. Normally you pack it near the top, but we will be traveling light and expect shelter at the end. Putting it on the bottom will help ensure that if you fall into a puddle, or a creek, your gear will remain - mostly - dry."

"Won't there be bridges and roads?" the female civvie asked.

"Ma'am, I have not intel on that. Plan for the worst and you'll do the best."

Then the 'packing again. It went something like this:

"But I need this! Its my (techo-babble, earth-shaking,one of a kind, device) and I MUST have it."

"Can you hump it, sir?"


"Can you carry it twenty kilometers?"

"But it weighs twenty kilos."

"Then it stays."

"But it's essential."

"Two things sir. A - if it was essential, the Captain would have ordered that it be taken along" which earned the Private a withering glare, "and B - you lug it through that gate, you hump it. When you can't hump it any longer, we strap a piece of thermite to it and melt it into slag. No outside tech in the hands of the natives. Those are the orders."

"But ..."

"Next item, sir. Sir, that photo album weighs about a pound. It stays."

"But ... "

And so it went on.

Duty done, Rivets waited for both to finish their packs and put them on their shoulders. No slipping some last minute priceless artifact from you childhood. It was human nature to try. It was the Army's duty to kick human nature in the nuts. They shouldered their packs, Rivets nodded then escorted the two the 'Ready Pool' of civilians ready to ship out. It was a slow process. Rivets didn't care. Trivial tasks were part of the job. You did them, went to the next one, and repeated til the job got done. It was fun, kind of like shooting at the enemy, except less hazardous to your health.

Rivets moved back over to the Sarge. She was busy, but he would hang in her orbit until either everyone was ready to go, or she needed him for something else. It never even occurred to him that he could have shirked duty and hung in the crowd. It was probably a lack of imagination, but that didnt' occur to him either.

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"What's this?" clucked a mild voice from behind Bannon. "My two favorite patients-to-be? And getting along so well together. Like watching kitens snuggle in a Christmas stocking."

The voice belonged to a non-descript, vaguely pleasant-faced man in his late 30's or early 40's, with some early hair loss giving him a big forehead. He was smiling at Inoue, but didn't offer a hand.

"You must be Miss Amara. My name's Max Keller. I'll be taking over for your other doctor. It's very good to meet you. I'm looking forward to our first session."

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"If I get ill, I'm certain there's plenty of proper doctors around to treat me. At the moment, though, I don't feel like being anyone's patient." Bannon remarked acidly with a cursory glance at the shrink as he took a final puff on his cigarette before stubbing it out on the sole of his shoe. "Now if you'd like to take your patient away and practice syntax, or even eating solid foods, you have my blessing. Please. Somewhere over that way." He waved an arm in a vague leftward direction and stood, picking up and shouldering his pack, then taking up his bag and moving in the opposite direction to the one he'd indicated, muttering under his breath.

Joining, or at least standing on the fringes of the crowd making ready to leave, he set the bag down again and leaned against a piece of equipment. The frosty expression in his eyes was the equivalent of a ditch lined with barbed wire, promising discomfort and possibly blood loss to anyone wanting to trespass on his private thoughts as he waited, his bad temper palpable around him. Great, so the witchdoctor would be coming along too. That promised to round off a perfect outing.

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Moira was packed, ready, and back to the group within fifteen minutes of the briefing. A quick review of her bags by one of the inspecting military personnel (conducted under her withering gaze) revealed a bag perfectly packed with military precision. The only additional item that she'd brought was a small Ancient device approximately the size of a book, and a very small, lightweight laptop computer. The two devices together didn't equal five pounds. Since she was a non-combat civilian, she didn't even carry a gun or ammo.

"Are you quite finished? Excellent. If you'd be so kind as to stop pawing through my things then, I may have time to repack properly before we depart."

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Inoae glanced between the two males, attempting to follow that was being said. Apparently the new male thought she was someone else....it wasn't her place to correct him, but she hoped he found Mis A Mar A before his superiors found out that he had made a mistake. Mistakes were not to be tolerated, at least not in her old hive. This hive was strange, who knew what they would do?

In her musing she nearly missed the first male walking off with the bag - the bag! - to go stand with the other "squints"; she'd heard her Yseult Moreau use the term often enough to know that people called Dok Tor were also usually called squints, except not the Dok Tor Weir and Dok Tor Hite My Er. She managed a quick, hopefully helpful, "I am Inoae, not Mis A Mar A. This one...I am sorry," before ghosting quickly after the first male.

She tried to do as she often did with her Yseult Moreau, keeping out of the male's sight and being silent. She wanted to ask about the bag again, feeling that her poor grasp of the hive's language may have made her question wrong, but the male seemed annoyed. Annoyed males were never a good thing. So, she picked out a shadowed spot next to a wall, near the bag, and leaned back in a state somewhere between frightening alert and chasing purple unicorns - whatever those were.

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The white haired professor of gloom and wit's ears perked slightly at the tell tale sound of the clacking of heels on the polished floor. "Banny, sweetie," Captain Evana approached the trio. Her icy blue hair was wound tight in a single braid that was slung over her left shoulder. As always, although out of uniform, she matched impeccably. Brown leather pants clung to her like a second skin. A match brown leather vest struggled desperately to keep her cleavage from spilling out into view but did a fabulous job of showing off her well toned midriff. The doctor did notice the Colt M1911 in a holster on her left thigh. A custom piece plated with silvery nickel and complimented with pearl hand grips and gorgeous engravings. I need you to assist some of the scientists with the understanding of the word 'essential'. I'm afraid my boys, being devoid of your spectacular intellect are ignorant on the finer qualities of the various do-dads and whatchamacallits. In short, their sneaking non-essentials past my boys by making it sound necessary."

"Doctor Keller, Inoae, hello." She smiled politely at them both, shortly after finishing with Doctor Asshole. "I do hope I'm not inturrupting, but I need Banny's help for just a few minutes."

God how he hated being called 'Banny'.

God how she loved the fact that he hated being called 'Banny'.

As was usual Bannon tried to retort. Her delicate, perfectly manicured finger pressed gently to his lips. "Shhh, love, no words." Her seductive Brittish accent was almost appealing, were it not the property of a vapid, sand trap of a woman, he thought. "Allow me to clarify two things before you argue with me. One, you get to rumage through other belongings for the next fifteen minutes, break the monotony of just standing here, and be a complete asshole in the process. Something you so gleefully enjoy, I'm sure." She grinned and gave him a seducing wink.

"Second," she practically cooed as her expression went from playful to deadpan serious. "I didn't ask you, I told you. I'm in no mood for your shit today as you are no doubt in the mood for mine. I want to be going through this about as much as you, now help me get this done and over with as swiftly as possible so we can go back to our witty, spiteful flirting later, which we do so enjoy. So please, pretty please, with sugar on top, rummage through their fucking things."

And just like that, the psycho bitch gleam in her eye had faded by the time she beamed Dr. Keller and Inoae a pearly smile. "I assume you're all packed up and ready guys, right?"

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Captain Tanner turned to Moira once she was done berating the soldier who had checked out her bag. "My apologies ma'am, but you would not believe the idiocy that some of these people packed, so we had to start checking everyone." He nodded towards one of the healthier looking scientists accompanying them, "That dumbass had a pair of dumbbells in his pack so he wouldn't miss his daily workout. He agreed to leave them behind once I asked him if he had ever heard of rocks. Wonderful things you can find lying around just about anywhere you want to move something heavy around for an hour. I am taking note of who has demonstrated the capacity to think in case we have to evacuate again, so I waste less time on the competent people."

He scratched the back of his head for a moment before adding, "With how bad some of these packs are, I'm thinking of suggesting to Doctor Weir that certain individuals attend a required training meeting on what constitutes light packing." He groaned as he saw another scientist stagger in at the last minute, dragging a bag so overloaded he couldn't even carry it. He pointed, "If you want to get upset at anyone, get upset with him. That is the reason we're having to do this." He marched to this latest task, one they had little time left for, wondering what he would need to chuck this time.

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Dr Keller's smile didn't waver a bit as he slapped a knapsack that dangled over one of his shoulders. "I travel light. Changes of clothes, a book...I'm set."

He glanced over at the Lantan waif. "As for Inoue...she seems to have some interest in Dr. Bannon. Or his gear at any rate."

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"There's no accounting for tastes." Bannon said in answer to Keller. "I seem to be a magnet for all manner of irritants right now." Hard green eyes stared at Evana. "Heaven knows why. Anyone would think I have 'Hello, May I Help You' written on my fucking t-shirt." He looked down at his plain linen shirt, then feigned astonishment. "My word. I don't."

"Now, despite the fact that the dear Captain here has stated an unwillingness to argue and attempted to appeal to my better nature, I have very little interest in beholding what some of the other 'squints' are carrying around in their luggage. In fact, my more delicate sensibilities are shrivelling in horror at the prospect. Additionally, standing here in gloriously pithy amusement as soldier and scientist clash appeals to my sense of schadenfreude." he added without breaking eye contact with Evana. "However, I am interested in concluding this farce swiftly - there, at least, you have me captain. So." he unshouldered his backpack, set it next to his leather case, and straightened up, casting an icy glare and a pointing finger at poor Inoue. "You. Leave my bag alone." Then he walked to the center of the room and clambered, with reasonable athleticism, onto a crate before clapping his hands loudly together.

"Fellow scientists." he declared loudly as people turned to look, the cultured voice dripping only a tiny bit of sarcasm as he swept them with his gaze. "The lovely captain there has just pulled rank on me and insisted I aid our military friends in determining what, if anything amongst your belongings is essential equipment and what is, in fact, an iPod containing whatever disgusting pornography is your personal vice. I thought I would give you fair warning that I hate being drafted, and I am going to take it out on you." The smile on the handsome face was far from pleasant. "Some of you might want to spare yourselves that experience by repacking hastily. I'll be put out, of course, if I don't get to tear at least one ego to shreds, but knowing and loving you as I do, I'm certain someone will give me cause. Thank you for your attention." The doctor made a 'move along' gesture. "It promises to be a fun experience. For someone."

His speech/announcement/threat finished, the white-haired young man hopped down from the crate and moved over to the first likely victim that caught his eye...

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As the white-haired male (finally, a male with proper hair color!) made his speech and moved away, Inoae took up a protective stance over his medical bag. She watched Evanna, wondering if she was an underqueen, which would explain her interaction with the proper male if he was her male. She relaxed a little as she thought it over, encouraged by seeing at least some members of her new hive acting correctly. She watched the bag, and anyone that came within three meters of it, with wary curiosity. Had she been the little girl her parents had raised, the contents would have already been spilled all over the room and she'd be tinkering with the simple lock on it like a....well, like a little kid with a favorite toy. Then again, if she were that little girl she wouldn't be desperately hoping that the bag, or something in it, had the power to take the burden of eating from her and instantly heal her from injury.

These half-thoughts and obfuscated memories roiled about in her mind until she laid a comfortable fog over them; she remembered that the bag was important, critical, and that there was another underqueen and proper male in the hive. She stepped away from the wall and took up a sentinel position over the bag, never daring to touch it and letting no one but the white-haired male or a high-ranking female near it.

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Dr. Olivia Jenings-Izumi presented herself as the unfortunate target. She'd missed most of the discussion until now; Beckett had held her until the last moment, fretting over her knee. It had left her little time to pack and she found herself running late. As such, she was the first 'squint' that the green-eyed doctor's serpentine gaze fell upon. As he opened his mouth to accost her however, someone else saved her from having to deal with the acerbic man.

"You are not going through my bags," Dr. Kavanagh snarled, pushing his golden rims higher on his nose. "I have a right to my privacy, and I'll not be bossed around by a trumped-up military 'woman' of questionable moral character and dress. Even if you think that they have a right to order you around, I am under no pretense. I packed my bag myself, I am not an idiot. I know what 'essential' means."

That sounded like just the beginning, but the man sounded like he was just gearing up for a fight. Olivia used him as a distraction to sidle around the room to Yseult's side. Looking a bit nervously at the men around the brawny woman, she asked, "So, Sargent, what did I miss?"

Across the room, Kavanagh was shouting about how he was a civilian, not a soldier. Olivia shook her head. The military guys had the guns. In the end, when push came to shove, they could make you do anything they wanted. She had learned that lesson all too well.

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"Doctor Kavanagh." Bannon said with a slow smile. "Leaving aside the question of whether you are an idiot, which you understand is a huge sacrifice for me personally, you find yourself presented with a choice." His eyes gleamed with unpleasant anticipation.

"If you insist on making a pompous ass out of yourself, which is your right and please, don't let me stop you, you will force these nice men in uniforms to seek higher authority. The best result for you is that they get it, go through your bags, and it all gets sorted out here. Still, you will look like not just a pompous ass, but an ineffectual pompous ass. I'm sure you'll manage." The white-haired young man grinned nastily. "Or we could get to where we're going, you could suddenly find out your pack is too heavy, and then you won't just look like a pompous ass but you will actually be a stupid pompous ass who will have lost some belongings, as our military friends will burn it to slag and stamp on the ashes. Oh, and you'll probably complain about it, too." Bannon eyed him critically, as though sizing up a set of curtains. "You seem the type. So you'll be a stupid, whining pompous ass complaining like a butt-spanked five year old girl." The biologist stopped, letting that sink in.

"Or, you could be a helpful soul and open your bags, let these experts in forced marches take a look, and swallow what's left of your pride before you choke on it."

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'Waiting and watching. Not a bad way to spend an ... what time of day was it again?'

Rivets did what all good soldiers did between assignments - he slept on his feet. Like all the better soldiers, he could wake up when someone came close, or asked him a question ... which was happening now.

"Aahhh ... "a perky young scientist was looking into his eyes then down to his arm. She was a brunette, hair half way down her back, pulled up in a pony-tail. She looked to be around five-nine and a 120 lbs. Her accent wasn't English English, but something like it, " ... ah .."

"Private ma'am," keep it short and simple was Rivets motto.

"Yes, Private ... ah ..." she blundered on, for some reason wanting more information than was necessary.

"Rivets, ma'am. Private Paul Rivets."

She beamed a smile at him, "Thank you, Private Paul Rivets. Could you help me with something?"

"I'll try ma'am. What is it that you need?"

She looked over her shoulder with a mixture of fear and loathing. When she looked back, Rivets was right were she had left him - kind of like a well-behaved dog.

"Paul, could you help me with my pack? I saw what a nice job you did with Dr. Stanfield, and I would really appreciate your help."

Rivets was stymied. For one thing, someone was using his first name. No one used his first name. That first thought was bypassed as irrelevant by the needs of the second thought.

'What is my mission? Help the Squints.'

"Sure thing ma'am. Let's lay your things out over here," he said, motioning to a clean spot. Once they got her pack unloaded, the woman leaned into him and whispered conspiratorially,

"He's a right bastard, don't ya think, that white-haired pompous ass of a man."

Paul blinked.

"I'm not in a position to comment on his parentage," was his honest reply.

The woman found that funny. She extended her hand,

"I'm Patrician Kyle, Paleo-geology." Seeing Rivets blank expression (did he need to remember what her specialty was?), she added, "that means I look at rocks and determine what minerals they have and what minerals should lie beneath them."

Rivets understood now. She was Australian.

Paul took her hand and shook it. To not do so would have been rude.

"So, I haven't seen you around Atlantis. Were have you been stationed?"

Paul thought that one over for a moment. He didn't 'have' to tell anyone not in the chain of command what his assignments were, but his work wasn't all that NTK (need to know).

"Last week I went with you to a mission on the mainland," he said blandly. "I carried your partner, Dr Lang's Thermo-whatever-it-was."

Patricia blushed.

"Sorry," she said quietly.

"For what," Rivets asked with direct honesty.

"For not remembering you."

"Not your problem, ma'am. You have important work to do. As long as I do my job correctly, why should you even know that I'm around?"

All the while, Rivets had been sorting out her gear.

"Done," he said. "Now let's figure out what you need."

As they were about to get started, another man came up. He was Asian, about five and half fee tall and a bit on the chunky side.

"Can I get in on this?" he asked.

Before Rivets could answer, Patricia said, "Sure, pull up a floor tile."

Rivets didn't even shrug. More work was just work that lasted longer. No reason to get upset over that.

"Empty your pack," she continued, "and the Private ... Private Rivets that is, will load it for us."

Which was pretty much what Rivets did. The two were so engrossed in their conversation that he was able to pair down their gear without protest. Meanwhile, the two went on and on about this Doctor Bannon character, and how dare Captain Evana put him in charge of anything. Rivets didn't know why. Doctor Bannon had never said any really bad words to him and he had to work near the man twice. They were still going on about his arrogance, lack of tact, or any appreciation for any field of study outside his own, that they even allowed Paul to shoulder their packs.

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Cold blue eyes hidden behind her sunglasses, Yseult snorted a sigh, wondering what had caught Inoae's attention this time; for whatever reason, she was hovering over Bannon's medical bag like a watchful hound. Whatever, if she really wanted to know, she'd ask later, then end up hearing Inoae's mostly nonsensical explanation. At least she was out of the way and wasn't causing fuss.

Speaking of Doctor Dickhead, her lips curled into a cruel smirk, watching Evana shanghai him into checking the other squints' bags. Let the eggheads snipe at each other instead of the ones trying to keep them alive despite themselves. She would have been inclined to leave without warning them and taken great glee in melting down their junk when the weight got too much for them - they needed a direct lesson - but they might need the thermite for something of more use.

As Olivia sidled up to her, Yseult gave her a sharp nod. If she hadn't exactly warmed to the doctor, Olivia had at least earned a grudging respect from Yseult for having kept attending her and Teyla's training sessions despite her handicap.

"So, Sargent, what did I miss?"

"Just the lesson on what 'essential' means," Yseult commented sardonically, glancing at Olivia from the corner of her eye. "A lesson few of your damned colleagues have bothered to learn." Yseult gave Olivia a frank once-over, then held out her hand insistently. "With your knee, it's a lesson you need. Now would be good." It wasn't a suggestion. "You'll need to balance the weight for your limp too. Can't afford to have you slowing us down even more and any unbalanced weight is just going to make that limp worst, non?"

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Olivia paused, biting her lip. Her leg was better - in fact it was fine - but she'd been hiding how much better at Weir's request. She hated walking with the limp but had agreed to pretend. By far, hers was the most visible recovery they had seen yet; the rest of the observed healing was bone-deep. They'd found that broken bones were fusing back together; breaks in bones were fading away. People weren't aware of the extent of the changes in a select few. Olivia was privy to that information only because it was happening to her. "I... you don't have to do that, really," Olivia said. "All I have with me are some clothes, the tent and bedroll and my laptop. And don't tell me to leave the laptop behind. It has the pictures of Dom on it and I'm not going to leave it behind to be submerged under hundreds of feet of water or let it be slagged. I appreciate the offer, but I really did pack sensibly and the balance is fine." Hoping she was swaying the burly woman, Olivia smiled. "Besides, I'm an anthropologist; I rarely need equipment except on a dig."

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Yseult arched a suspicious brow at the smile, but it was true her bag didn't look overly large or heavy and lately, Olivia had been hardly complaining about her knee. Yseult shrugged a thick shoulder; she wasn't interested much double-checking every damn bag the squints had packed. Let the fuckers learn the hard way, then the lessons might actually take.

"As you will. Do not say you were not warned," Yseult said, rolling her eyes at Private Rivets as she saw him pack a pair of bags, the squints obliviously blathering on about whatever. "Private Rivets, unpack those bags!" the brawny woman snapped, the two scientists jumping around in startlement. Yseult frowned. "And show the eggheads how to pack a bag instead of just doing it for them. Unless you want your duties to include permanent bag-check duty on all accompanying squints."

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"On it Sargent Moreau," Rivets said with just the right amount of discipline. He immediately began unpacking the bags one at a time, to the befuddlement of the two scientists. He did it with machine-like precision, laying everything out exactly the same way he had loaded it. It was obvious to him what item went in where by its placement on the floor.

Dr, Kyle crouched down and reached out to him. "Sorry for getting you in trouble with your Sargent," she said.

"You didn't have to do what the testosterone-laden bitch said," the other doctor said, looking peeved. Rivets didn't even look at him. It wasn't l like his opinion mattered in matters of command and discipline. He soldiered on.

"Okay. First you line your pack with your one-man tent. You do this because ..."

"Rivets, I said I was sorry and I mean it. Let me go talk to your Sargent and explain it."

She was about to rise up and do just that when Rivets spoke. Explaining things to her wasn't his mission. Stopping her from intervening in the Sargent's duty was.

"Ma'am, the fault was mine. I misunderstood my assignment is all. Now, if you would please allow me to direct you to the current project."

His voice was so calm and dispassionate that it stopped her. She had expected some amount of fear. The Sargent was a bully after all, but for some reason Rivets wasn't treating her that way. Slowly she sat back down on her haunches.

Rivets turned to the Asian doctor, "Sir, would you please sit down so you can load your pack."

It sounded like a polite request, but the doctor had a feeling it was more like a warning. He sat down. Together, the two squints began loading their packs under Rivets instruction, with the occasional polite request to pull and item out and load it the 'proper' way. In quick order, the two were finished, Rivets had helped them shoulder their packs and they had joined the "Ready" pack.

Mission accomplished, Rivets walked back over to the Sargent's orbit as if nothing had happened or been said. Saying "Sorry" was a sign of weakness, and redundant besides. What Sargent would give a damn that a private had screwed up? That's was what Sargent's were for: to kick privates in he ass when they inevitably screwed the pooch. What really mattered was that the job was completed, one on (or under) time. If he got permanent baggage check duty? There were worse jobs. It wasn't his place to bitch and whine. You go were they send you.

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"Nice work, Rivets." The Captain offered him a gentle pat on the shoulder as she moved past him. She didn't say thank you, since she was almost certain he was staring at her posterior while she walked off she considered that his 'gold star' for a job well done.

She moved through the crowd with serpentine grace soaking up the looks she got from others like a parched man thirsting for a cool glass. Everyone knew it, just few would say it with her in earshot: Evana knew people gawked at her and she loved it. She was an attention whore, period. Whether it was her natural beauty or the strangeness of her icy-blue hair and eyes or manner of dress, there was nothing about Evana that couldn't captivate someone on some level and she knew it and she reveled in it.

Despite Doctor Bannon's severe distaste for her -or anything breathing for that matter- she still approached him as he continued to work with the squints. She placed both her hands on his hips, not wanting to disturb his work too much, but certainly notify him that she was there, softly she whispered in his ear, giving others others to wonder what was being said in such an intimate hold. "Thank you, Doctor." Was all she said before letting go and moving on. Her scent remained where her cheek brushed slightly on his neck, a parting gift from her to him.

"How are things going Captain?" Major Sheppard asked as he tried to ignore the sultry bounce in her stride as she climbed the stairs to meet him.

"As well as can be expected Major," She approached and crossed her arms, the look on her face told him that she was, at least a bit, frustrated. "The military personnel are treating everyone like they have the authority to give them orders. The squints are resisting because, well, the military personnel don't have the authority to give them orders. Everyone is too busy giving orders and resisting orders to focus on trying to just get through this together. It's a bloody nightmare."

"It'll take time, Eva. We're stuck on a planet far from home, there's going to be some adjusting." The Major offered her a comforting smirk. "Hey, you got Bannon to actually help, kudos to you for that. See? I knew he was a closet people person."

"Doctor Bannon," she corrected him. The inflection mingled with her accent was enough to send a shiver down the spine of the Major. The two of them worked together tremendously well and had always remained professional, but that didn't stop him from sharing a witty exchange with her and she not teasing the hell out of him from time to time. "He's he helping, yes, but I had to damn near threaten his life. I think he's warming up to me though, he has yet to refer to me as 'you vacuous harlot' today. We're bonding," She smirked like a juvenile and clapped her hands really fast excitedly. "It's so much fun making new friends."

Major Sheppard offered a laugh and it felt good as a break from the stress of the situation. It was amazing to him how Evana seemed to be the only person, aside from maybe Inoae who could tolerate Doctor Banon for more than fifteen seconds. Honestly there were a few times where even Sheppard was on the cusp of wanting to lash out at the pale scientist. "That's what we're shooting for, Captain, Stargate Atlantis: bringing people together."

"The good doctor might be a completely yampy, but he's a good man, and I know a good man when I see one." Evana patted him on the shoulder and moved around him. "I'm going to do one more sweep, you call me of you need anything, kay? Oh, and Ford said the jumper bay is secured and shut down, he and his team are on their way back. Give em' five."

"Thanks Eva." He watched her descend back into the thick of things offering him just a wave over her shoulder.

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Siva had generally been ignoring the various fellows involved in looking though the bags, and pointedly ignoring Bannon, she had to work with the man, that didn't mean she had to listen to him as well, he was entirely too unpleasant of an individual to pay any attention too unless she had too. She respected the man's competence, she loathed his manner, so when someone came by to check her bags, she frowned at him, but was otherwise exquisitely polite. "Excuse me, young man, what are you doing?"

"Checking everyone's bags to make sure they are correct ma'am, and no one is taking anything unnecessary, weren't you listening?"

She listened then considered a moment, she responded . "To 'Doctor I'm so good that I can be unpleasant as I like?' Nope, only place I listen to him is in the lab, anywhere else, he's too much of a pain to pay any attention too. Well, allow me to go though it with you then, some of the stuff might need some explanation about what it's for and why I'm carrying it... if you have some suggestions about re balancing the load I'm fine on doing that too."

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Curtis had returned already, bag packed and prepared. Despite his role being closer to the scientists, Curtis WAS, as he knew quite well in Afghanistan- he shoved off an image of mortar fire immediately- a Sergeant. That gave Bannon no remit for pestering him, and Moreau and Rivets knew better than to suggest he wasn't ready by checking him out. He'd order them off anyway. He had spent minute after minute running down the list and checking over his pack- to the millimeter and nanosecond.

Still, the scientists- though they weren't part of the rank system- could stand to give the military an open ear, just to be safe. Even bloody Bannon. Curtis wasn't a psychologist, but he swore the man was practically a solipsist in his contempt for others. Whatever- as long as he proved useful, no one was going to push him down the stairs and claim an accident.

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Evana's perfume was a damned distraction. Knowing her, she probably laced it with warthog sex-pheromones or something similar, Bannon mused darkly as he moved from the braised and battered Dr Kavanagh to the next supposed 'great mind' who had no idea what was involved with having to carry weight over ground. Bannon, as a matter of fact, did. He'd been to outbreak zones in tropical countries, little pisspot villages in the ass-end of nowhere that required trekking to get to. Then, of course, there were the expeditions into rainforests and remote locales to harvest cuttings and perform assessments on local plant life, seeking rare breeds of flora both for their pharmacological properties and, of course, because the one thing Bannon loved, in a positive, life-affirming way, was plants. He'd had to leave his hothouses back home in the dubious care of paid assistants, but the biologist had brought cuttings and seeds to the Pegasus galaxy, to test the viability of transplanting Earth flora here and vice versa. The Ancients had left Earth for here, so surely they must have brought some of the flora also, perhaps seeing worlds here with breeds of plants long-dead on Earth.

As yet, he hadn't been able to do more than assess the long-dead plants hanging around the abandoned city, due mainly to the militaristic nature of the away-team expeditions. He had mostly been helping the other biologists with assessments of the piece of Wraith arm that Sheppard had brought back, and his own private notes indicated that there may be promising avenues towards exploiting a biological weakness - but there were many unknowns yet to be tested, and Dr Bannon was nothing if not dourly pragmatic. Actually going out in the field was something he'd been looking forward to, and he resolved not to let the company of assholes and morons ruin it for him. Even the wisps of Evana's mating scent clinging around him like tomcat urine wasn't enough to completely blacken his mood.

The other scientists, after seeing the results of resistance, quickly began grabbing nearby soldiers and all-but pleading with them to help them point out what items would be unacceptable. His work done, Bannon turned, noting and dismissing the various hostile stares from others present, and headed back to his bag and pack. He sincerely hoped the half-witted tagalong might have slunk back to the Moreau woman's side, taking the quack with her, but it appeared he wasn't to be so lucky.

"Did you touch it?" he asked Inoue with a glare. She was still where he'd left her, a frightened look entering her eyes as he spoke, and she mutely shook her head. "Oh, stop that." he muttered irritably. "It's like talking to a kicked kitten. Why don't you go back over to Major Muscles over there and leave me in peace?" he waved derisively in the direction of Yseult. "We'll be moving soon, and I'm sure she's got some training reins for you."

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"Listen up!" Bates' voice cut through the hustle of the room like a knife, drawing attention to him as he stood on the stairs. "We're about to make our evac. Military group one first, non-military personnel in the middle and group two is the tail. Civvies, when we get through, do not stop for any reason. You stop and clog up the warpgate, someone dies. Someone dies and I'm not going to be happy. If I'm not happy, no one else gets to be happy either. Do not freeze. When you leave the event horizon, someone will be directing you where to go. Follow their commands without hesitation. And because I can't say this enough: Do. Not. Stop. for any reason. Got it?"

There was a low murmur of assent, most of the civilians looking sullen at the commanding tone even if the order was common sense. Satisfied that this was as good as he was getting, Bates glared up at the Command Center and gave a curt nod. The strange sounds of the keys being pressed rang out in the hall as Bates moved to the front of the group, standing well back from the "flush" of the wormhole. The StarGate roared to life, opening a bridge to another world.

Bates was the first through; he may have been an ass, but he wasn't a terrible soldier. The light of the gate played over him, and then he disappeared through the gate...

* * *

The landing area immediately out of the gate was roughly fifty foot by fifty foot, in a rough circle. Beyond that circle was the bazaar, a maelstrom of humanity (or close enough) milled and swarmed. There was a maddening maze of booths and tents, filled with people hawking and trading goods with a single-minded ferocity. Beyond that maze, tall red stone walls could be seen. There were a handful of guards, but they didn't look at all bothered by the refuges that came spilling out of the active gate.

The soldiers fanned out protectively, drawing bored glanced from the guards. There was no reaction to their weapons beyond those stares. "Left!" Bates barked as the first of the civvies came out. "Line up to the left, stay behind the soldiers. Move! Don't clog up the Gate!"

The welter of noise made talking difficult; for once Bates's shouting wasn't because he was an ass. The confusion wasn't just audio either; the constant movements pulled wary eyes to merchants unfurling bolts of cloth or waving hands around, while the air was heavy with a bizarre scents. It was all sound and fury and confusion, but the soldiers were doing their best to maintain order.

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"Cartwright ... (looks at the name tag) Rivets," Bates called out, "give me a 50 meter sweep, from my right (he was facing the gate) clockwise. Keep in contact, and remember, no initiation of conflict. Clear!"

"Sir, yes Sir," the two men shouted in unison. Cartwright, being a Spec. took point, leaving Rivets to watch the flanks and rear. They moved through the crowd, doing there level best to keep out of the way of the 'normal' traffic. They also learned that indoor plumbing hadn't made much of an impact here, from the smell of things. As Cartwright reached what was approximately the fifty meter mark, he hand-motioned his direction and then 'eyes' on him - the old "Watch my Back". A fifty meter sweep wasn't really possible unless they walked through some stores and homes, but Cartwright did the best they could. When they reached the halfway point, Cartwright halted himself and Rivets, then called in.

"On main thoroughfare, All Clear."

Rivets heard Bates acknowledge. So far, so good.

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Captain Tanner stood to the side of the line of scientists with the second group of military units, still on Atlantis until all of the scientists had gotten through, watching for anyone trying to do something stupid like run back for gear at the last minute, anyone looking nervous enough to panic and cause trouble either this side or the other of the gate--in short looking for problems before they manifested.

Spotting a particularly edgy looking civilian, he pulled her out of the line. "Ma'am, what is the problem?"

She averted her gaze as she stuttered, "N-nothing's the matter."

Looking her over, he hazarded a guess. "You've never been on an offworld mission before, have you? Atlantis doesn't really count--going to the zoo isn't the same as taking a trip through the Savannah." At her hesitant nod, he added, "Don't worry. It takes a lot of trips for this to become routine, and it is when you let it be routine that you are most likely to face problems. A little nervousness keeps you sharp, but too much can make you panic, and panic makes people stupid. The place we are going may not be the nicest place you'll ever visit, but we have been invited there. We hope Atlantis will survive this storm, but even if it doesn't, know that we will do everything we can to keep you safe. That's what we do."

The scientist had calmed down visibly, now that she wasn't letting her worries over what might happen run circles in her mind until they tried to escape, so Tanner encouraged her to rejoin the line. and went back to looking for potential problems.

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Sergeant Yseult Moreau also stayed back with the second military - less opportunity for losing track of Inoae while trying to get an eye on the scientists in a new environment. The wayward Lantean had skulked back into her shadow after Bannon's latest venom, though she had stilled eyed him and his medical bag as if her life depended on it. He's not even a real doctor... She'd debating telling the asshole she didn't have any training reins, but was willing to break him to saddle all the same when Bates called out the beginning of expedition.

Another time perhaps - And really, I'm more interest in the cigs he has stashed away anyway. I'd break him... though he ain't as pasty as most of the other squints and is neither a toothpick, nor a tub of greasy fat.

Where Captain Tanner used a kind word and a clear explanation, Yseult quelled any hesitation on part of the scientists with just a glare from her icy-blue eyes, not impeded by the sunglasses she was wearing. The large woman looked strong enough - and all too willing - to simply throw any recalcitrant squint through the Stargate... With a single hand or a hard boot.

Watching the last of the squints step through the Stargate with Captain Tanner and the rest of the rearguard, Yseult glanced down at Inoae, then nodded at the rippling field of blue-white energy. "What'd you want with a shithead like Bannon," she asked gruffly, jaw clenching when she realized Inoae would hear an order when all she was doing was asking an idle question while waiting to step through the Stargate. And the wait was over. "Tell me on the otherside, Inoae. Time to step through."

Inoae stared at the rippling pattern of light for a moment, until a sharp gesture from Yseult urged her through, the brawny sergeant following right after her. The prickling cold of the Stargate slid over her skin, then vanished under the assault of a dry heat as she stepped into the clearing before the far side of the gate. With the civvies to the left of the Gate with the first unit ahead of them, Yseult stepped to the right, guarding the flank, sharp eyes roving the scene before her, catching sight of Rivets and Cartwright running a sweep.

Merde-fuck! The red brick and noisy bazaar could almost have been any other shithole in Afghanistan, narrow alleyways she was sure the squints would try to disappear down while 'investigating,' crap-tons of people everywhere. "Stay close and don't wonder," Yseult growled over her shoulder at Inoae, then shooting a scathing look at the rest of the scientists. "That goes for all of you. I don't want to need to leash the lot of you."

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Curtis darted through the gate with the first line, weapon ready- and no, his gun hand wasn't trembling. He was out on the left, keeping an eye on that section of the arrival zone. He was not far off from a stall where a vendor seemed to be doling out meat pies of some sort to customers-

And Sanchez traded his Afghanis over to the merchant for a handful of mantu, those delicious steamed local dumplings, some for Curtis, some for him. They passed by an elderly sort of looking car, and there was a great explosion as they were about to round a corner. Curtis was thrown onto the ground, Sanchez impaled through the skull by a shard of axle..

Curtis' head snapped round, and then he recomposed himself. Not now... job must get down. No freaking out.

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