As many of you already know, I drew raisintorte in the Remix lottery...and this was the second time I've gotten someone I talk to EVERY DAY for a surprise fic-a-thon recipient. On the plus side, I knew exactly what would make her happy. On the minus side...she kept asking me who I got. :P So extra-special thanks to miss_porcupine for helping me figure out how to keep it all on the downlow. ;)
Title: Visitors From the Edge (The Edith Keeler Must Die Remix) (remix_redux link)
Title: Visitors From the Edge(The Edith Keeler Must Die Remix)
Summary: Bates thought he was going crazy when another Dr. McKay showed up with a hot redhead.
Rating: PG-13 for swearing
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Characters/Pairing: Bates, McKay/Cadman
Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis and all related characters belong to MGM and the Sci-Fi Channel.
Original Story: Time After Time by raisintorte
Notes: Thank you to shetiger, wojelah, lilac_way, and reccea for your help with editing and keeping me in one piece. ;) Also, thanks to miss_porcupine for the help with secret-keeping!
Visitors From the Edge
The package was addressed to Sergeant Bates, USMC, with the address for Cheyenne Mountain. It was delivered by a respectful Airman First Class in a uniform that almost would have passed a Marine Corps inspection. His younger brother was impressed for no good reason Bates could discern -- it wasn't like the kid hadn't seen his older brother in Marine Corps dress blues before.
Rattling around in the palm-sized box was a flash memory stick with a Top Secret sticker wrapped around it.
He waited until everyone was out the house -- "might be classified, stuff, bro," he said, which not only didn't deter the kid, it made him even more interested -- and then plugged it into the port on the desktop he'd bought for the family with his first Marine Corps paycheck, back when he was a private with no chevrons on his uniform sleeve.
There were two files on the one-gig drive -- even if he didn't erase them, he could use the drive to hold a lot of stuff. He clicked on the vid and waited for it to load.
"You've gotta be kidding me," he said aloud when Rodney McKay's face appeared on the screen.
"Is this thing on?" McKay asked, messing around with the front of his hair.
"Yeah," a fainter, female, but still familiar voice said. "You're centered, let me just -- "
The picture shifted to the left a bit and Bates shook his head.
"Okay, well, get in here, I'm not doing this by myself," McKay ordered. After a pause, he was joined by a pretty redhead in US Marine Corps digital utilities.
"Ah, hi," McKay started. "Staff Sergeant, now, I hear. Congratulations. I -- Sheppard told me you were being discharged. Medically."
"What McKay is trying to say," Cadman cut in, "is that we're about to discuss classified material, so if you need to clear the room, do it now." She and McKay exchanged a glance as they waited but Bates had planned ahead.
"So yesterday," McKay said, "the lieutenant thought she'd go playing with Ancient artifacts without finding out what they were first -- "
"Excuse me, but you're the one who activated it," Cadman said, crossing her arms. "I don't even have the gene."
"Semantics," McKay said. "The point is -- "
"We thought you'd recognize this -- " Cadman interrupted, holding up the small, silver ball.
One Year Ago
Bates started to go crazy the night of the energy-sucking-creature-thing, a bare week after the expedition had settled in Atlantis. He'd been on his way to meet up with one of the teams searching for Jinto when 1) the lights went out, 2) he heard McKay's voice say, "Crap!" and 3) a door snapped shut.
Problem being, McKay had been in the control tower with Weir when Bates had taken off. Bates frowned and moved toward the closet. He could hear voices, McKay and a woman's, one he didn't think he recognized, but he didn't know most of the scientists and knewnone of the Athosians except Teyla. He unclipped the P-90 from his vest and pointed it at the door. Then he tapped the control panel on the wall and dropped low, directing his attention into the room. All he saw was a violent flash of light that half-blinded him and destroyed his night vision.
Bates cursed and pivoted on his heel, out of the line of fire, back pressed firmly against the hallway wall. He reached up and tapped his headset. "This is Bates. I need Fire Team Five down here."
"What's going on down there?" Sheppard's voice asked in Bates's ear.
"Big flash of light, sir," Bates reported. "I heard Doctor McKay talking and when I went to look, there was no one there."
"Doctor McKay's in the control tower," Sheppard replied. "We've got power fluctuations going on all over the city. Fall back to the control room." Sheppard closed the channel before Bates had a chance to acknowledge the order. Damn cocky zoomie either didn't know or didn't respect proper radio protocols. The latter was more offensive than the former, but either was bad enough.
Bates cast one last assessing look in the empty closet, then shook his head and jogged off in the direction of the control tower. "Power fluctuations, my ass," he muttered as he went.
Bates never did buy the idea that his mysterious flash of light was just another power fluctuation attributable to the energy-sucking-creature-thing -- 150 of Earth's smartest people and that was the best they could come up with. Even the Lieutenant could have done better, Bates thought uncharitably -- but for four months, he never found a better explanation. He'd hoped he could at least prove that one second there were two people in that room and none the next, but the sensor logs for that time period were royally fucked from whatever that energy-sucking-creature-thing had done to the systems.
But then there was that mess with the Athosians and the Genii and off-world missions, and the mysterious interlopers had been relegated to the very bottom of Bates's list of things to worry about.
Until the day when he walked down the hall right outside the gateroom and saw McKay and a small woman in gray trousers and a black t-shirt -- the same uniform he put on every day. They had their backs to him and he eased back, keeping his boots light on the floor until he got his P-90 unhooked and aimed.
"I'll try something new this time," the substitute McKay was saying.
"Stay where you are," Bates commanded, his voice ringing in the hall.
McKay and the woman froze, backs stiffening.
"Good, now put your hands where I can see them," he said. "And turn around slowly." Four hands in the air as they eased around and Bates heard the clatter of footsteps that told him backup was coming from the gateroom.
"Sergeant, it's me," McKay said as loudly and irritatingly as the real thing.
"Nice try," Bates said, keeping his grip steady. "The real McKay is upstairs in a briefing with Major Sheppard's team and Doctor Weir." Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of silver tucked in the palm of the woman's hand as she turned and he shifted his sights instinctively.
"The device!" McKay said and grabbed the woman's hand.
Bates managed to turn his face away this time but the light burned white on the back of his eyelids.
"Fuck," he shouted, squinting at the empty place where McKay and the girl had stood. "You guys saw that, right? Tell me you all saw that."
"I saw them, Sergeant," Markham -- or Stackhouse, Bates's vision was still fucked and his ears were ringing a little -- said. "They were standing right there and then they weren't."
"What's going on down here?" Sheppard's voice bellowed from the gateroom. He shouldered himself into the middle of the crowd, with McKay, Weir, the Lieutenant, and Teyla on his heels.
"Happened again, sir," Bates said. "Saw McKay and a woman, bright light, then nothing."
"I saw them, too, Major," Markham -- definitely -- piped up. "It looked just like Doctor McKay and he was with a woman in military colors."
"Technically, black is all the colors, and gray isn't much better," McKay said. "I was with a woman? Was she about yea tall," he gestured, "with short blonde hair?"
"No," Bates said shaking his head. "She was a good six inches shorter."
"Redhead," Markham added. "She was kinda hot."
"She had some kind of device," Bates added. "When McKay grabbed her hand, they vanished."
"Huh," McKay mused. "An alternate dimension? A portable quantum mirror, maybe?"
"Like you could get a hot redhead in any dimension," Sheppard said wryly. "She doesn't fit the description of anyone on base, Sergeant?"
"No, sir," Bates acknowledged. "She was wearing expedition gear, though. And McKay knew who I was."
"Of course I knew who you were," McKay snapped. "If I'm in another dimension, you're probably right there with me." He paused a moment and looked thoughtful. "Or something like that." He snapped his fingers and pointed at Sheppard. "Time travel," he said. "I am time-traveling with a hot redhead. Just like Doctor Who."
"Doctor Who had a hot redheaded companion?" Sheppard asked.
"Hello, Leela," McKay said, his disbelief on display for all to see. "Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor?"
"Leela wasn't a redhead," Sheppard said disdainfully.
Bates cleared his throat meaningfully. Weir cast him a sidelong glance and said, "Gentlemen? Maybe we should discuss what kind of ramifications this might have."
"Especially if they're from the evil clone universe," Sheppard said, deadpan. "Did McKay have a pointy beard?"
"The situation," Bates interrupted tersely, "is whether we have a security breach. And whether it's an alternate dimension, time travel, or something you haven't even though of, I think it's pretty clear that we've been compromised."
"Hello, it's me," McKay said in that irritating whine he had. "I don't think I'm exactly going around sabotaging the place.
"Maybe if it was the Evil Overlord You," Lieutenant Ford volunteered.
"What did we say about naming things?" Sheppard asked.
"The sergeant is right," Weir said. "Rodney, have your people examine the naquadah generators and essential operations for tampering. Major, if you would do a bomb sweep of the occupied areas?"
"What?" McKay spat.
"Trust me, Rodney," Weir said. "You are the last person I would want working against me."
"Oh, well." McKay paused. "Is that a compliment?"
Weir just patted him on the shoulder, nodded at Bates and said, "Thank you, Sergeant. Keep me updated."
Bates felt vindicated. Just a little.
It didn't last, though. A dozen hours later, they'd found nothing and accomplished nothing but making the Marines and scientists both grumpy, and over the same thing for once.
As it turned out, Bates wasn't going crazy at all. Not that it mattered, since in the end, he couldn't even tell anyone.
"May I have everyone’s attention please? We have run into a questionable medical situation and at Doctor Beckett’s suggestion we have decided to put the city into a self-regulated quarantine. For at least the next couple of hours, I need everyone to stay where they are, and report anyone moving freely through the halls. I hope you’ll understand. Thank you."
Questionable medical situation? Bates turned on his heel and walked toward the control room. He was close and he certainly wasn't going to stay in the hallway for the next several hours.
"Sergeant! Sergeant Bates!"
McKay. Bates turned and directed his best drill instructor stare down the hall. He lasted all of about two seconds and then he saw the second figure running after McKay. He scrambled for his sidearm.
"Rodney, no, we can't!" The woman ran up beside McKay, the color high in her cheeks.
"We have to," McKay gasped, even though he seemed to be in better shape than the McKay Bates knew. "There's still time! I can save Dumais! And Peterson, and Hayes! We have to do something!" He looked desperate and Bates's grip on his sidearm faltered.
"Rodney. No! I know you want to save them, but you can’t. You’ve been preaching about protecting the timeline nonstop during this entire incident. We can’t change now. We have to leave. Now."
"Cadman, if you had the opportunity to go back and fix something, you would! I have that chance. We can save them!"
"No, we can’t." The woman, Cadman, reached up and touched McKay's face. Huh, Bates thought. McKay really did get the hot redhead. "They're already dead," she told him quietly. "We don’t belong here Rodney. We have go. Think of home, Rodney, think of home."
McKay cast a sidelong look at Bates. "I can tell you," he whispered. "I can tell you right now how to save everyone. We need a massive EM wave. The generator won't do it -- Sheppard -- "
"Rodney," Cadman said, turning his face back to her. "You've been telling me all day about how dangerous it is to tamper with the timeline. We're in the City on the Edge of Forever, Rodney."
Bates glanced back and forth between them. "Wait," he said suddenly. "Are you talking about that old Star Trek episode?"
McKay looked up at him, his eyes old and sad. "In that episode," he said dully, "Kirk goes back in time to save the life of his one true love but -- " He stopped.
"But if Edith Keeler didn't die," Cadman finished, "and she convinced the US to continue peace talks instead of using the Bomb, then Germany had enough time to finish their own nuke and win World War II."
"This isn't fair," McKay said. "I just -- he just needs to -- "
"You need a bigger bang," Bates said, thinking about McKay's earlier words. "How big are we talking?"
"Sergeant!" The redhead -- Cadman -- was no longer talking to McKay and all five feet and two inches of her were right in Bates's face. "Listen to me. My name is Lieutenant Laura Cadman. I'm the commander of Delta platoon on Atlantis in one year. And I am giving you a direct order to forget everything you heard just now."
"Ma'am," Bates said slowly. He'd heard everything she had said and he knew from training at the SGC that the first rule of time travel was not to admit anything. "If we can save people -- "
"Sergeant," she said, her voice soft, and Bates was suddenly reminded of Roosevelt's maxim of speak softly and carry a big stick, "I would like nothing more than to save the people you all lost the first year, hell, I'd like nothing more than to save every person on this expedition who didn't make it. But if we mess up too badly now? There might not be an Atlantis for us to go back to."
"Well, technically," McKay put in, "if we were to do something that destroyed Atlantis, we probably wouldn't be able to go back in time, which means we wouldn't have to do anything to contaminate the timeline -- "
"Right, or we might be trapped outside of time forever, and you don't want that, do you?" Lieutenant Cadman shot back.
Bates was really starting to like her. Anyone who could make McKay shut his giant trap was hot shit in his book.
"Do you think so?" McKay asked, looking dangerously thoughtful.
"Sergeant." Cadman turned back to Bates. "I'm giving you a shitty job. I know I am. And I'm sorry. But it's a job that needs to be done."
Bates glanced at the control room, where Weir was waiting, maybe waiting for him to walk in and say, We need a big EM pulse. Bigger than the generator in McKay's lab. How do we get one? He looked back at Cadman and a miserable McKay.
"So I could fuck everything up by saying something," he said.
"Look, nothing's for certain," McKay said. "Maybe, if it's a mistake, it'll just reset and -- "
"Rodney," Cadman said quietly.
Bates made his decision. "Yes, ma'am," he said as smartly as he knew how. "Is there anything you can tell me?"
Cadman smiled and her entire face lit up. "You can let Colonel Sheppard out of the gym," she said. "Not that you weren't going to anyway."
Bates blinked as her words sunk in. "They promoted the Major?" he asked in disbelief.
"Never mind!" Cadman said brightly, pulling out the shiny metal ball and grabbing McKay's hand. "Gotta go! Semper Fi, Marine!" she yelled and then she and McKay were gone.
"Fuck," Bates said as the light blinded him yet again. And then he squared his shoulders and walked into the control room to do his job.
"We spent yesterday tripping around your timeline," Lieutenant Cadman said from the computer screen, "and, well -- we thought you deserved an explanation."
"It's actually sort of a time-folding device," McKay cut in, "in which -- "
"Shut up, Rodney," Cadman said. "Look. You did good. I was sorry to find out that you won't be serving with me."
"Yeah, I -- maybe I should have told you," McKay said. "About the Wraith. But --Sheppard said this was patronizing and I shouldn't do it but the text file is a list of names and addresses of corporations I know with woefully insufficient insecurity and a letter of introduction from me. We gave you a hard time, probably because we didn't sign up to be corralled like military sheep, but you were good at your job and it warms my heart to think of these people paying you six figures to yell at them about their lax procedures. So take it in the spirit in which it was meant. The password is Pegasus. Also, Sheppard said you liked the Lakers, so there's tickets waiting for you at the WillCall station for every home game. It's -- it's the least I could do for not warning you. And I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry, too, Sergeant," Lieutenant Cadman said, looking straight at the camera. "Semper fi."
Bates stared at McKay and Cadman, frozen at the end of the video. He cleared his throat and straightened, feeling the shift of his nearly-healed collarbone fracture.
"Semper Fi, ma'am."