Chapter Four: Weird Science
"How are you feeling, Dr McKay?" Elizabeth asked as he took a seat in her office.
"Fine," was the noncommittal reply, as his eyes darted nervously round the room before settling on her face.
"That's good," she said with a smile, knowing he wasn't fine really. "And your new found ability..."
"You mean the pathetically weak telekinesis that those... those subhuman Neanderthals caused with their painful torture thinly disguised as experiments? I can handle it. It's virtually nonexistent anyway and far easier to hide than gills," he said angrily, but Elizabeth could see the hint of fear in his eyes; one he was desperately trying to hide. For once she didn't regret her lack of empathic ability - she didn't need to feel his emotions when they were displayed so clearly on his face.
"You can't hide anymore."
"I'm sorry to be so blunt, but the Foundation is aware of your enhancement and will try to reacquire you."
"Oh great! What am I supposed to do?" McKay demanded, clearly trying to push the panic down, though not really succeeding. "I can't...I can't go through that..."
"Dr McKay, maybe I shouldn't have been so blunt, but you need to understand the situation. We can offer you a new name, identity and job, but we can't guarantee that the Foundation won't find you."
"Then what? What do I do?" McKay asked, distress creeping into the edge of his voice.
"All of our members have to report in every day, even when on vacation. It has caused a few false alarms, but we'd prefer that than to have a Guild member taken..."
"You want me to join you? Is that it?"
"Yes. I would actually like you to be the head of our new science division."
"Oh." McKay looked surprised. "And if I say no, what then?"
"As a member we can protect you. The Foundation targets people who won't be missed for a few days, as this gives them time to cover their tracks. But if you don't wish to join us then we'll set you up somewhere with a new identity."
"But you can't promise that they won't find me?"
"No. Security is tight, but breaches have been made in the past," she said regretfully.
McKay sighed heavily, rubbing his eyes.
"I don't have much choice, do I?" he said resignedly. "What is this Guild? What do you do, exactly?"
"I need you to sign these non-disclosure papers before we go any further," she said, handing him the forms. "But rest assured, we only have your best interests at heart. We're here to help people with enhancements like you, and myself. I'm a telepath, but without the empathy that some telepaths develop."
"You're a freak like me..." McKay started, before changing tact when she gave him a disapproving look. "I mean, an 'enhanced person'..."
"Dr McKay, is that how you really think of yourself? As a freak?"
She watched as several emotions played across his face, before he looked away from her.
"It's what I am. A freak of nature. It's what everyone calls me when they find out, and rightly so. Call it what you will, but in the end we're all freaks of nature, nothing more." He recited it without feeling, as if it was something he had learned by rote, and that saddened her.
"While it is true that we are a rare occurrence, that doesn't make us freaks. Or would you call someone who was born deaf or blind a freak as well?"
"No, of course not. That's different."
"Is it? How?" she challenged him.
"I...it just is." But he sounded unsure of himself, as if realising for the first time the inconsistencies in his belief.
"Dr McKay... Rodney," the use of his preferred Christian name caught his attention. "You're an intelligent person. Everyone that we talked to says you are a genius..."
"You mean in between all the vitriol about what a jerk I am?"
"Yes," she admitted with a small smile.
"Huh. Jealousy. It makes people say bad things about others. Just because they can't handle someone pointing out their errors, and really, you'd think they'd thank me for it..."
"Yes, well, that as it may be," she said, firmly regaining control of the conversation. "My point is this; you're an intelligent man and I'm sure that someone such as you can overcome any ... dogma you may have believed when it is shown to be flawed."
"I..." His brow furrowed in thought. "Yes, I get your point." Though he still seemed far from convinced. Hopefully in time he'd come to believe it.
"Good. Now, the Guild is set up to deal mainly with the threat of the Foundation. They are a threat to people, both enhanced and not, for reasons that I can't fully explain to you until you sign the non-disclosure document."
"Fine. Let me read it through first and make sure I know what I'm signing away here."
She smiled as he started reading and opened her laptop. She might as well catch up on some of her work while she waited. There were several requisitions from the newly formed divisions that she needed to sign off on, for a start. Though, did the science division really need two Cray computers? Sighing, she drafted an email to Zelenka. She suspected the requisition was part of his plan to convince her that he wasn't the man for the job. Shaking her head, she wondered what else he would try to pull before he believed she had gotten the message.
A little while later, a large sigh caught her attention and she looked up as McKay picked up the pen next to him and signed the document.
"Right. So tell me the rest," he demanded imperiously, despite looking decidedly uneasy.
"Eight years ago the Stargate Program was set up. The Stargate is a device that allows for travel to other worlds via a wormhole..."
"What?" McKay looked at her incredulously. "That's... well, I suppose that is possible, but..."
"I assure you, the Stargate exists. I can take you to see it." Elizabeth checked her watch. "In fact, a team should be heading offworld soon, so you can see it in action." She rose, watching as McKay did likewise, and led him out of her office and down the corridor.
"So, if this is true, does that mean you've encountered little green men?" McKay said snidely, as they walked.
"Well, grey rather than green," she answered him, a smile twitching her lips at his look of surprise. "We have also met some dangerous aliens called the Goa'uld. They're snake-like parasites that inhabit a person, taking control of them."
"That sounds creepy."
"Yes, it is. In fact, it is because of their threat that the Foundation is conducting its experiments. The Goa'uld are unable to inhabit people with mental abilities."
"So, they tortured me to try and protect themselves from these Gourds."
"Goa'uld," she corrected, as they entered the elevator. "But yes, that is the reason, and I'm sorry that we didn't know earlier about your predicament. As yet we are unsure of their long term goals, but we have no doubt that they are out for themselves. Many of the enhanced members we have identified so far have criminal records, so whatever their aim is, it is not for the good of all mankind." The exited the elevator and headed through the corridors to the gateroom, McKay falling quiet as he no doubt digested what she had told him.
Entering the gateroom, she was pleased to see Colonel Carter there. Elizabeth had no doubt that McKay would have a myriad technical questions that she wouldn't be able to answer herself.
"Oh, hi." Carter turned from the computer screen she'd been concentrating on and looked at her, with a smile. "Anything I can help you with?"
"This is Dr McKay. I was wondering if you could explain the stargate to him?"
"Sure. It's about to be dialled, so I can show you it in action and we can go from there."
"I'll leave you in Carter's capable hands then," Elizabeth said. "Could you show him to the new labs when you're done here and ask Dr Zelenka to give him a tour?"
As Elizabeth left, she heard the gate dialling up - and McKay already demanding information.
She hope Sam wouldn't hold this against her.
Radek was busy working when he heard the lab door open and Sam walked in, with a man following her.
"And here is the main science lab," Sam informed the man. "There are three more along the corridor, two of them are clean rooms, so you have to go through the usual procedures..."
"I know, wear those ridiculous white outfits and head gear. I have worked in a lab before," the man said, in a rebuking tone. Sam pulled a face behind the man's back, and then looked to Radek with a tense smile.
"Dr Zelenka, this is Dr McKay, Elizabeth asked me to bring him down when we were done. She'd like you to show him around the labs."
Ah, the man who had been rescued and who Elizabeth wanted as Head of Science. It would be in his own interest for McKay to take the position.
"It would be pleasure," he replied. Sam gave him a relieved smile and left - quite quickly. Not a fan of McKay, then, Radek surmised, turning his attention to the man in question. "As you see we have the latest technology. Some of it is yet to be set up." He indicated some unopened boxes stacked nearby. "But we hope to finish soon."
"Everything looks new, I assume you haven't been here long."
"We are just moving into new labs. Before, we worked in SGC's labs as part of SGC. Now, we will be separate division, working for the Guild and reporting to Dr Weir directly," Radek explained. "It was only announced yesterday. There is still much to do."
"So, are you in charge?"
"At present, yes. We are waiting appointment of Head of Science. I will be glad to let him or her deal with this and return to my own work."
"Dr Weir offered me the job," Rodney said smugly.
"You are yet to accept, then. Perhaps details of our ongoing research will help you to make mind up?" Radek led Rodney over to a laptop and typed into it, his finger flying confidently over the keys. "Yes, here you will find most recent reports from Drs Simpson, Kusangi, Abrams and Gall, as well as from myself. We are still recruiting full science team. I will leave you to look this over while I return to my work. I will be just over here if you have questions."
"Fine." McKay sat down at the laptop and started to read.
Radek hoped that McKay would take the position. The sooner he could return to pure research and engineering, the better - even if McKay seemed overly arrogant.
Ah well, he had worked for many an arrogant man before. He knew well how to deal with them, and how to protect projects from those who refused to accept they might be wrong.
Now, where had he been before being interrupted?
Rodney began skimming through the reports, both amazed at what he was reading about - this technology was way beyond anything he could have imagined - and appalled at the apparent sloppiness of some of the work. Shaking his head, he wondered how no one had been seriously injured or killed yet.
Looking up to share his opinions with - Zelempa, Zilnika? - all comments seized on his lips when he saw Zelenki using telekinesis to rotate a circuit board within a clear plastic box and use a soldering iron on it.
Surprised and, admittedly, somewhat curious, Rodney moved towards Zelnka, who looked up at his approach.
"Sometimes empaths have trouble blocking out emotions, usually when they are ill or overtired. This is similar to a white noise generator, but aimed at blocking emotional 'noise'. Of course, I have yet to test it, and it will need tuning to each person individually. You will find all the details in the research report."
"I have some telekinetic ability," Rodney blurted out, before pausing. When Zelmpa merely looked at him with mild interest, he decided this was a chance to ask some questions. Ones he hadn't wanted to ask their ass of a telekinesis expert. "How are you doing that? Moving two objects at the same time. I can't even move one - well, not intentionally."
Zelinko - damn it, he would need to ask the guy's name again. Why couldn't it be something simple, like Smith or Jones? - looked at Rodney, confused. "It is all a matter of physics. Weight and distance times force - in this case the force required to move the object. The force is supplied by the brain's chemical electro field. Let me show you mathematical equations for telekinesis, perhaps it will help you to understand the ability the Foundation engineered into you."
Rodney looked up in surprise. "You know about that?"
"Yes, I helped to decode data from Foundation computers. As I understand it, they increased the chemical electro field within your brain. I can show you printouts, though I am not medical doctor so cannot explain as well as Carson."
Rodney found himself immersed into a new field of science, one he had not taken any interest in before. Although different, it was also familiar - using terms he had come across in other fields, and equations that he had no problem understanding.
"So, each mental ability has a unique electro field signature, the strength of which varies from person to person," Rodney said at last.
"Yes. Carson believes that the chemicals the Foundation used on you affected the chemicals in your brain. Had they continued with the injections, then your telekinesis would be stronger. According to the last reading Carson took, moving small objects should be within your capabilities."
"Okay," Rodney said. "Let me try again."
It made much more sense to him now - all that talk of winds, streams and such like had sounded like total mumbo jumbo to him and so had only served to confuse him. This, however, was pure science, and that he could understand, easily.
He concentrated on a whiteboard marker pen, that someone had discarded on the desk he was sat at. At first he thought he must have misunderstood - unlikely though that seemed - as nothing happened, but then, slowly and wobbling greatly, the pen lifted a centimetre off the table. Rodney could feel himself starting to shake with the effort, but couldn't stop a triumphant grin cross his face. He had managed to move something of his own accord, at last!
"Telekinesis is like a muscle. It needs exercise to strengthen it, then you can use it for long periods of time. Of course, much of the time it is easier to just pick up object with your hands," Zelinka said with a wry grin. "Also, practise will help your mind to learn instinctively how much force is required to lift something, based on its weight."
"Will you," Rodney's voice stumbled, he wasn't used to asking for help. But he knew he needed it, so sighing deeply, he tried again. "Will you help me learn to gain control?"
"Of course. It will be no problem."
Elizabeth entered the lab, smiling when she saw McKay apparently engrossed in something that Radek was saying. She had great hopes that the two of them would be able to work together, though she knew it could just as easily go the other way. Radek might not be as arrogant as McKay, but he did have his moments. He could also be quite volatile, breaking into Czech swearing regularly, often in annoyance at what he saw as other people's foolishness. But he was good at what he did and quite able to take what he gave - in fact, she suspected he preferred people to bite back - and was not without empathy. The unenhanced kind, that was.
"So, Dr McKay," she asked, interrupting them and gaining herself two scowls of annoyance. Though Radek's soon melted away when he realized who had spoken to them. "Have you decided whether to accept the position?"
"Yes," McKay replied. "I don't think I have much choice other than to accept, what with the Foundation wanting to reacquire me. Besides," he looked round the lab, trying to hide the wonder beneath a look of contempt, "This place looks like it'll fall apart without someone like me to organize it."
Radek rolled his eyes at that, muttering something unflattering in his native tongue.
"I'm glad you've decided to accept," Elizabeth said genuinely. "I'll sort out the necessary paperwork."
"Yes, yes, whatever." McKay waved his hand at her, clearly wanting to get back to his conversation with Radek.
"Well, I'll leave you to it," she answered dryly.
"Good, good, see you later," McKay replied, already turning back to Radek.
Shaking her head, she left them to it. Dr McKay was going to be a handful, she could already tell that.
But she believed he would prove to be worth it.
A/N: This fic was started in January 2008 and languished in my WIP folder most annoyingly! It was originally inspired by 'Living With It' by Tielan, who allowed me to take this in my own direction using her fic as inspiration. She has now added two new chapters to the story, giving it the title 'One of Our Own' - with 'Living With It' becoming Chapter 3. I'm hoping for more! Her storycan be found here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/85289/chapters/115420
This fic was started prior to Thought Reflex posting her wonderful fic, 'Treading Water', but to be safe, I asked her permission to continue with this fic, which was given. Her story can be found here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4085125/1/Treading_Water