General O'Neill arrives from earth to interrogate the gate refugee to see if they can find a clue as to who she is.
After searching through several hallways that branched off from the control room, they backtracked, knowing that they had gone too far. “Damn it Ronan, how can we have missed her? We'll have to check these rooms again...”
John's comm crackled. “Colonel, Carson here. What the bloody hell have you done with my patient? I come back on duty to find that you have taken her for a short trip around the base and have now been advised by Elizabeth that she is missing. Good god, you're supposed to be protecting the lass, not losing her.”
“I've already yelled at myself Carson, so you don't need to jump on the bandwagon. We're searching now, Ronan's with me and I have two marines searching rooms off the hallways. We'll find her soon.”
“Make sure that you do Colonel!”
John deactivated his comm and swore. They had checked several of the rooms, and now waved over the control of this last doorway and it refused to open. Nodding to Ronan, he tried again, then went to grip the centre where the two doors met to attempt to open it manually. If the sensor was blocked, it was a good indication that something was in front of the door, blocking it. Tapping his comm he radioed Rodney. “Rodney, I need you in the second supply room on level 3. We have to do a manual override of the doors.” He waited until Rodney responded, then shut off the comm.
While he waited for Rodney, he crouched down and called through the door. “Dani, it's John. If you can hear me, please respond. I'm sorry that I frightened you. I'm not angry at you, just at what has been done to you. Can you hear me?” He waited a moment, and got no response and saw Rodney exiting the transporter and heading in their direction.
“Hurry Rodney. I think she's fallen against the doors and is blocking the sensors.” Fortunately, Rodney chose today not to ask a million questions and was hooking up his hand held computer to the door controls and had it overridden in seconds. The doors partially opened to show that indeed a small body was blocking it and Rodney and Ronan managed to manually force the doors open a little further so that John could slip through.
The room was in darkness and only the light from the hallway coming through helped him to see the crumpled figure on the floor. He crouched beside her, put a hand on her face and lowered his face. “Dani, sweetheart. Can you wake up for me? Let me know you're ok...” He received no reply, so wanting to kick himself for his stupidity, he gently got his arms underneath her and drew her up into his arms. Stepping through the still not fully opened doors, he headed back to the infirmary to face Carson's wrath.
Carson's face told it's own story, and he only had time to place Dani on the bed and Carson's hand was pointing back to the door, giving no doubt that he wanted John out of his infirmary. Hanging his head just a little, he did just that and went back to the control room.
Elizabeth was there and she drew John off to the side. “We've got General O'Neill and two IOA officials on their way from earth in the next few minutes. This is being treated with top level seriousness, they want to find out where she came from and if it was earth, just where the second gate is.”
John ran a hand through his hair, desperately needing another cup of coffee. “She's in no state for interrogation Elizabeth, you saw her earlier – and she's managed to do more damage to herself, thank's to me. I don't know what they expect to get out of her.”
“The order's come from the President John, we have no choice. They need to move immediately in case we are looking at a security risk.”
The squealing of the gate alarm signalled an incoming wormhole and they heard the gate technician call out “SGC's IDC, Dr Weir.” Going downstairs to the gate room to meet the visitors from earth, John sighed and wondered exactly what can of worms this was all going to open.
“General O'Neill, Sir!” Giving as smart a salute as he could muster under the circumstances, John greeted the tall commander of the SGC and the man who had recruited him for the Atlantis mission.
“Colonel... I hear you have yourself a little refugee from earth. Now, that's a new one! Usually it's aliens and glowing minerals and plants that carry all sorts of nasty bacteria... but a refugee from earth, that managed to get our attention – and the president's.”
“So I hear..” John murmured. “Sir, with all due respect, can you please go easy on her? She's lost her memory, or most of it, she's confused and she's been badly hurt by someone, be it from earth or from his galaxy...”
“We're not monsters Sheppard, we're human beings, and we'll have compassion for what she's been through, but we need to get to the bottom of this – now, where is she?”
“In the infirmary General, but good luck getting in to see her. She's under heavy guard by Carson and he's more ferocious than a pit bull if you upset one of his patients... as I just did...”
“So noted Sheppard, but we'll take our chances. You coming along?”
Wishing he didn't have to, he gave General O'Neill a tight smile and accompanied him and the two IOA men, who had said nothing since their arrival on Atlantis, down the hallway to the infirmary.
Seeing John enter the infirmary, Carson's eyebrows drew together forbiddingly. “Out, Colonel!”
“Ah, I have company Doc, higher up company...” and he stood back as General O'Neill moved into the infirmary and acknowledged Carson with a smile. A smile which Carson did not return. “General or otherwise, you'll not bully my patient, is that clear?” His scottish brogue came out thicker than ever, now angered over the treatment of one of his patients and the General's smile widened into a grin.
“Doctor Beckett, I'd certainly want you on my side if I was ever sick or incapacitated. We need to speak to her, we'll be as gentle as we can, but it is a matter of earth security and it cannot wait. Please doctor, I would like to do this the easy way. The hard way would involve someone higher up than me coming in and physically removing her back to earth.”
“Ok General, so noted. But I'm warning you...” John had to hide a grin, the doctor certainly held no fear when it came to the welfare of one of his patients, one of the reasons he had been made chief of medical staff on Atlantis.
John spoke up again. “Let me try and talk to her first, just to smooth the way so to speak. She takes one look at you lot and she'll panic and clam up and you'll get nothing. She knows me a little, at least I'm a familiar face and I can get her to trust you hopefully.”
General O'Neill considered this, then nodded. “Ok Colonel, we'll do it your way. Carson? Can you get her to wake up?”
Carson gave a sharp bark of laughter. “She's not asleep General, she's unconscious, I can't just snap my fingers and wake her up. I'm not bloody prince charming!” Again, John fought valiantly to hide his smile at the raw nerve that Carson showed and mentally gave him a high five. Fortunately General O'Neill was also known for his sense of humour so John was relieved to notice the quirk of his lips as a smile threatened.
“Ok, so we'll go and indulge in Atlantis coffee while we wait. Stay with her Sheppard and let us know as soon as she's awake and ready to talk.”
They strode out leaving John and Carson looking at each other with raised eyebrows. “Well, this is one for the books..” Carson began.
“Prince Charming?” John was laughing now. “You have no respect doc, really... the man is a General for god's sake...”
They heard a soft groaning and turned, seeing Dani's agitated movements on the bed. “Feel sick...” she muttered and Carson was quick to react, bring a pan near her head and holding her hair out of the way as she retched. Nothing came up as she had not eaten in likely, several days and when she had finished he removed the bowel and got a damp, cool cloth to wipe down her face.
“Well lass, looks like you've managed to get the attention of one of our General's...not to mention turning the base upside down because our colonel in resident managed to lose you... a productive morning, I should think.” He was smiling as he said it and he waited a little until her colour had returned before stepping aside to allow John to approach the bed.
An instant flicker of fear in her eyes brought a sick feeling to John's stomach and he gave himself another thorough mental kicking for putting that fear there. “We need to talk Dani, before the others come back, can we do that?” He pulled up a chair, and drew it next to the bed, sitting and picking up her good hand to run a thumb gently over the back of it. Seeing her relax slightly, he nodded to Carson to contact the General and let him know that she was awake.
“Can you remember anything yet? Fragments maybe, pieces? If you can give us something, anything, we can make a start on trying to piece together your last movements.” He saw her frown and knew that she was pulling fragments out of the darkness, and kept up the soft pressure of his thumb over the back of her hand.
General O'Neill and the two IOA men walked in then and feeling her begin to tense, he increased his pressure just a little so that her eyes slanted back to his. “Talk to me Dani – they'll just be in the background listening. They want to help find out who you are, where you've come from, that's all.”
The look he turned back on the General was a forbidding one, also a challenge, telling the General in no uncertain terms, that while he was the commanding officer, John was taking responsibility for this woman and would not allow them to upset her. General O'Neill nodded once in acknowledgement, letting John take the lead. He did however, hand him a picture and said quietly - “show her this, it may trigger something...”
Feeling a sense of unease, John took the picture and passed it over to Dani, laying it on the bed in front of her. The picture showed two men in military uniform, army fatigues, standing arms around each other, grinning for the camera. In staring at the photo himself, John almost missed the look of fear and shock that instantly lit up Dani's face and she went to rip the blankets back to get away from the bed and the room, and the sudden memories that had begun to flood back. John was quick this time, and pinned her shoulders slightly, forcing her back into the pillows, dropping his eyes so that he could make contact with her, watching as the shades of gray went from cloudy to stormy.
He spoke softly. “Who are these men Dani. Did they hurt you? Are they the ones who sent you here?”
Carson hovered in the background and John could see that he was extremely angry. Flicking a quick glance at him, John turned his attention back to Dani. “You know these men, don't you Dani? I think they are the ones who hurt you and I think what they did to you was so terrible that you've chosen not to remember.” He turned back to General O'Neill. “Who are they?”
The general stepped forward now. “The one on the left, Captain Eric Baines, the one of the right, Major Ted White – both career military, land based forces out of Washington DC, they've both been stationed in Afghanistan for the past two years, and six months ago they were pulled out and sent back to DC. Dropped out of the loop a little so to speak and when some of their actions started to cast a few worried looks their way, The IOA here started to look into them. Turns out they've both come into a bit of money in the past six months, so they've been the centre of an investigation that seems to be turning up a lot of dead ends.”
“Until now?” John guessed. The General shrugged, then turned his brown eyes on Dani, whose gray ones were huge in a pale face as she followed the story that he was telling. “It seems Major Ted White had a girlfriend. He met her in DC while home on leave from Afghanistan and when he was pulled out and sent back to DC, things escalated a little and they became close – at least that's the intel we've managed to get from friends and family. A month ago she disappeared, and so did both Ted White and Eric Baines. The girlfirend's name is Dani Stevens.” He pulled another picture out of his pocket and threw it on the bed alongside the other one, showing a beautiful woman in evening dress, perfectly made up, on the arm of Ted White who wore formal military dress. He was smiling down at her and they looked like any other happy couple. John wondered how they had gone from that, to the poor beaten woman who was sitting terrified in the bed in front of him.
Carefully, he touched the bruise on her cheek. “Is any of this coming back to you Dani? At least we know who you are now, but two of the biggest concerns are – one, who did this to you and is he still out there looking for you, and two, how the hell did you end up in this galaxy?”
She shook her head, and the tears sprang easily to her eyes. “I'm sorry, I don't remember... anything. I know the name you said is right, I look at the picture and know these men, but feel terrified when I look at them, so how can I be involved with one of them? I can remember bits and pieces of my life before, but fragments only, and nothing from the last six months. What are you going to do with me?”
John spoke up, turning to face the General. “You can't send her back to earth – whatever happened there, she was obviously a part of it, and they may be either still looking for her or assume she is dead. You need to find those two men – they will provide the answers, and I'm getting a bad feeling that they are involved in something very very black ops, that possibly involves the use of another stargate.”
The General's eyes had sharpened now, and held that hint of steel that he was famous for. “I don't need you telling me what to do Colonel Sheppard and I'm well ahead of you in the game. We have been searching for these men, and will continue to do so, and I don't wish to put this young lady at any more risk than she already is. She will stay in Atlantis until we get some answers. As to the use of another stargate... you may not be too far off the mark there and if that is the case, then I'm assuming that they are operating under the umbrella of a very off the grid agency that they have likely been recruited for. And that would also lend to the likelihood that Miss Stevens here stumbled upon something she wasn't supposed to...”