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Summary: An intriguing Ancient find leads Sheppard, Lorne and a familiar outcast on interconnected searches for home.

Updated: 29 Nov 2015; Published: 16 Nov 2015

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Story Notes:
A third season-based sequel to my "Too Much to Pretend," as second of likely trilogy. The story is currently set in the early part of Season Three, probably between Irresistible (3.03) and Sateda (3.04). As with its prequel, I'll probably include some Map and Playlist info, along with other footnotes along the way to help interested readers explore more.

With Sheppard jogging along in close pursuit, McKay began speaking almost before he was entirely into Weir's office, and nearly tossed his open laptop onto her desk. "Jackson confirmed it! There's a Greek legend about the 'Ring of Gyges,' which gave its wearer the power of invisibility..."(1)

Weir calmly closed her own computer, and looked up at the exuberant physicist with noncommittal expectation.

Not the shared excitement McKay was hoping for; but she also didn't immediately yell at him like Sheppard had when he'd interrupted the Colonel's game of solitaire. So he continued before either of them could change their minds, "The Ancient database includes a reference to a facility called 'Gaetea', where some of their most important work on cloaking, and maybe shielding, was developed. Probably for security reasons, it wasn't connected to a specific Gate address; so we hadn't known to explore it sooner."

"Rodney has decided," Sheppard summarized, "that the word fragment carved into the city's colonnade, the ionic interference thingies in the atmosphere, and these other coincidences mean that we've found this month's 'discovery of a lifetime.'"

While not appreciating the obviously dubious tone, McKay couldn't argue with the list of evidence and the conclusion. "Jackson suggested that Ancient name could easily have mutated into 'Gyges' on Earth, even as the Lantean stories morphed into the sunken city of Atlantis myth."

"I take it you are... less convinced?" Weir asked her military commander.

"Let's just say that I still find it really convenient that one of our teams just 'happened' to overhear a conversation that points us toward a planet on the edge of the galaxy that just 'happens' to be a key Ancient research facility."

"What's that saying about looking at 'gift horses' again...?" McKay feigned forgetfulness.

"John, you think it's a set-up?"

"He thinks it's a trap," McKay acknowledged. "But the MALP showed no indication of recent activity; just a large Ancient city overrun by an abundance of plant and animal life."

"It's basically forest with some walls, Rodney; it's not like there could be footprints in snow or tracks in the dust to show who or what's been there recently," Sheppard countered. "And as many animal lifeforms as are crawling around there, it'll be hard to tell if anyone was there or approaching." Turning to Weir, he raised his most important concern. "Besides, what really makes me uncomfortable is that the atmospheric conditions Dr McKay pointed out from the MALP readings only appear not to affect on-the-ground sensors or communications. He's already determined that they will keep us from determining whether anything is in orbit. So, if any unfriendlies are in the area--land or air, we'll have no way of knowing until they're on us."

"So we take additional guns and grunts, and stay alert... How is that so different from 90% of our missions? It's what the military is here for!"

"While I appreciate your condescending confidence in my men, Rodney..."

"The natural jamming qualities of the planet's atmosphere were probably both the basis for the Ancient cloak and shield research—which has protected us on numerous occasions, and a good defense for the facility itself," McKay interrupted, trying to make a calmer, clear argument lest Sheppard out-cool him. "To have access to the Ancients' source material could potentially help us improve our cloaks, if not shields; and who knows what else." He didn't need to spell out that the renewed Wraith attention made any such advantages critical.

Taking another breath, he continued, "I appreciate that that the good Colonel is rightly concerned for my safety-"

Sheppard rolled his eyes at the comfortingly consistent narcissism.

"—But I also wanted to ask that we commandeer Max Royce before the Daedalus gets him out of range. With an assistant, I can move faster through any materials we find, so we don't spend any more time than necessary on the scary planet. We can at least get the raw data back to Atlantis for a deeper review; and then Ginger Spice can continue on his way home." With a sideways glance to his sworn defender, he reminded, "And, getting Royce would also mean that the big, powerful space carrier will be hovering overhead, should any forest animals pose a threat to us."

Sheppard pursed his lips and rocked on his heels, surprised and disappointed that he really couldn't argue McKay's logic in this instance.

A little surprised at the effectiveness of his own rationale, McKay smiled expectantly at Weir, whose look at him showed she was still torn. He made a last effort to seal his case, playing the one card he knew would push her over the edge. "Elizabeth, the fact that I'm actually asking for help on this should tell you how important I think it is..."

Sheppard's eyebrows shot up at this rare near-admission that the amazing McKay would acknowledge another scientist's value.

With a trademark in-breath on reaching a tough decision, Weir nodded and tapped her headset, "Sergeant, contact the Daedalus and ask Colonel Caldwell to divert to the coordinates Dr McKay will provide momentarily. Please ask him to have Dr Royce prepare for a surface mission, tropical climate; details to follow."

"It will take them about two hours to get there from their present location," she pointed out, suggesting that she'd already considered the possibility before even being asked. Handing McKay his laptop, she leaned in to emphasize the conditions for her approval. "I want you both to take every possible precaution to safeguard and speed up the mission. If it is too good to pass up, let's not. But let's be smart about it."

Chapter End Notes:
1. See "Ring of Gyges" on Wikipedia or other source.