A/N: Hey all, thanks for the great reviews! I'm glad the story seems to have improved, and I hope that you continue to think so. I am open to ideas and advise, although I do not promise to implement everything I am given I will at least attempt to credit any that I do use to whomever suggested it. Thanks for reading, please review! love xx Shezzi
Willow stood in the middle of the crowd of civilian scientists, watching the inner ring of the 'Gate rotate with bated breath. Doctor Weir’s speech had raised goose bumps on her arms, and she could tell, looking around, that she wasn’t the only one. Almost every member of the expedition, at least of the civilian contingent, since the military were standing up front, had the same expression of mingled excitement and nerves.
When the ‘Gate engaged, a cheer went up, Willow finding her voice rising with the rest, even as she struggled to draw air into her lungs, the power that had just washed through the room was so immense. As soon as the ka-whoosh, as she had heard it termed, settled back into the Gate, leaving the shimmering blue event horizon, the power levels dropped back to what she had gotten used to in the last twenty-four hours.
She watched as the large, awkward MALP trundle up the ramp and disappear, then waited anxiously as it took readings on the other side.
Once the report came back that they had atmosphere, Colonel Sumner, his security team and Doctor Weir headed through. As soon as the all clear came back, which didn’t take long, they were filing up the ramp and through the glowing blue event horizon. The carefully contained excitement within the group was palpable, even as they moved with careful control through the event horizon.
Willow followed on the heels of the man in front of her, feeling the power as she approached the wavering blue surface. She didn't have the opportunity to contemplate stepping into that much power, because she was virtually sandwiched into the group, a ghost with red hair. The first touch of the wormhole on her hand made her skin tingle, then the raw power washed over her, and she gasped as the man behind her bumped into her and sent her stumbling through. The power released by the wormhole made the power of the spell of awakening seem tiny.
She stumbled as she exited the wormhole, gasping for breath as her body screamed with the power it was trying to contain, the power that the wormhole had forced inside of her. Fortunately, no one could tell the difference between her gasping and the heavy breathing of several others who had just made their first Gate trips, but she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if she didn’t manage to reign this power in within the next few seconds, they were all going to notice that they seemed to have brought their own personal sun through with them.
She bowed her head, breathing deeply through her nose, and quickly clenched her hands into fists when she saw her fingertips sparking. She pulled the power in tight, compressing it until it felt like a burning hot ball under her sternum, then walled it off. It was a temporary measure at best, but it would hold, for now.
She was startled when a hand settled on her shoulder, and a concerned voice jolted her out of her reverie. “Willow, luv, are you alright?”
She swept his hand away from her before her mind caught up with what he was saying, and she quickly released his wrist, flushing with embarrassment.
“Sorry, you startled me. I’m fine, it’s just…a definite rush,” she told him. She started moving forwards into the room, looking around to get an impression of her surroundings, when a movement on the raised platform off to one side caught her eye. She turned to watch as Major Shepherd reached out one hand to brush a console.
The next moment, she was doubled over in pain, trying not to scream at the noise in her head. It was loud, so loud, completely overwhelming all of her mental defenses as it came.
“Willow!” cried Carson as the red head doubled over. He grabbed her shoulders and helped her to sit, her body seemingly moving on autopilot. He tipped her head back and was met with blank, painfilled eyes and a nose that was streaming blood.
“So…loud…” Willow breathed, barely a whisper before she slumped sideways, unconscious.
“Willow!’ Carson caught her and lowered her gently to the floor. “I need a gurney over here!”
“Carson?” Elizabeth called back, moving over to join him. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, Elizabeth. It may be an adverse reaction to Gate travel, although I’ve never heard of a case like this. She said something before she passed out, something about it being too loud. Until I can either wake her up and ask her about it or run some test that tell us what’s going on, I won’t know for sure.”
“Alright, let’s get her lying down somewhere a bit more comfortable then, shall we?” she suggested as one of the orderlies brought over a gurney that had been unpacked from its crate and assembled on the spot. “Well, not even here five minutes and you have your first patient, Doctor. Let’s hope that that isn’t a sign,” Elizabeth commented as she stood. “I’ll leave you to it, keep me updated on her condition,” she directed as she moved off.
“Of course,” Carson replied, already bending over Willow as he attempted to rouse her.
Three days later, Willow still hadn’t woken. She now lay in a bed in the newly appointed Atlantis infirmary, a room well lit by both natural and artificial light sources.
In the three days that she had lain unresponsive, the Atlantis expedition had undergone several sweeping changes. They had lost team members, most notably their military commander, and gained new friends in the Athosians who now shared their home. They had awoken a terrible enemy that had declared its intention of hunting them and discovering the location of their home world, and were waiting to discover exactly what type of ramifications that might have.
The mood in the city was an odd one, a mixture of celebration of survival, the excitement of new discoveries, grief for those lives that had been lost and fear for what the future held.
Willow was no longer the only patient in the Atlantis infirmary, although she was still its most confusing one. As far as Carson could tell, there was nothing wrong with her; at first her EEG activity had been off the scale, but it had settled down after the first day to match the rest of her normal readings, except for some out of whack electrolytes that had been fixed with a banana bag.
He stood at the end of the bed she was lying in with Elizabeth and Major Shepherd. “Basically, it’s just a case of waiting for her to wake up. I can’t find anything wrong with her. I’ve tried a few treatments, but none seem to have made any difference.”
“Keep me updated on her condition,” Elizabeth directed. “Are we sure that it’s not some kind of reaction to gate travel? I mean, it was her first trip.”
“Nothing in my readings suggests that, and we know that wormhole travel is designed to be safe for humans, so I think we can probably discount that possibility.”
Anything else he may have had to say on the subject was interrupted by a long, drawn out groan from the bed.
“Willow?” Carson moved up beside her, one hand wrapping around her wrist as he checked her pulse. “Can you hear me?”
Willow’s face screwed up in a grimace. “Carson?” she muttered, shifting on the bed.
“Good morning. How are you feeling?”
“Headache,” she whispered, her eyelids slowly lifting. Her eyes widened as she looked around, confused. “Where am I?”
“This is our new infirmary,” Carson told her as he took a penlight and checked her pupils. Willow winced slightly at the light, but Carson’s next words took her mind completely away from her physical discomfort. “You’ve been unconscious for three days.”
“Three days?” Willow demanded croakily, pushing herself up, and a nurse quickly propped some pillows behind her to support her. She started to say something else, but broke off in a fit of coughing. The nurse grabbed a cup of water with a straw and helped her to take small sips until she could breathe normally.
“Doctor Rosenberg. It’s nice to see you awake,” greeted Elizabeth, stepping up beside the bed as the nurse stepped back.
“It’s nice to be awake, Doctor Weir,” Willow replied formally. “Did I miss anything major?”
“We’ll let Carson catch you up on that. Keep me updated?” Elizabeth glanced at Carson, who nodded his agreement. “I’ll see you both later, I have a trade negotiations meeting to organize.”
“Doctors,” Major Shepherd inclined his head, and with one last curious glance at the rather gorgeous red head, left the infirmary.
“How’s your head?” Carson asked Willow. “Scale of one to ten.”
“A four, maybe,” she replied, shrugging.
“Having seen the damage your body has taken in the past, I think it’s safe to assume that your four would be anyone else’s seven or eight,” Carson replied, holding out a small plastic cup with a couple of tablets in the bottom. “Take these.”
Willow took the pills without complaint, then proceeded to drain the glass of water he had handed her with them.
“Good girl. Now, I have to go and splint a broken leg, but if you need anything, Cheryl will take care of it for you. Just try to relax, and hopefully you’ll be up and about in no time. As soon as I’m done, I’ll get you up to date.”
“Thanks, Carson,” Willow replied, reclining back against the pillows and closing her eyes.
Now she turned her attention inward, and felt what it was that had kept her unconscious for three days. The city pulsed against her shields, and she had a feeling that it had spent the last three days working out just how much she could take.
It had withdrawn from within her shields and now pressed gently against the outside of them. She could feel the joy of the city that it wasn’t alone anymore, and its sadness that it had hurt her, however unwittingly.
She remembered reading that some of the Ancients were telepathic, and she realized that the AI had been capable of communicating on that level, and that it had been so immensely lonely without anyone else that when she, with her lesser telepathic ability, had come through it had been so excited it had accidentally overwhelmed her.
It sent her another apology, and she smiled, sending it acceptance and forgiveness. She sent it a soft query, and it quickly filled her in on as much as possible of what had been happening in the last few days, from its own unique perspective, viewed from various surveillance cameras and through their interactions with the cities computers.
It was an odd feeling; the city had a personality of its own, a definite ghost in the machine, although it wasn’t in any way fully formed. In some ways it was animal like, tending to communicate not in words but in feelings, but the intelligence and the knowledge that it held were immense. She had a feeling that it would develop its method of communicating over time, but she would have to wait and see exactly how.
She turned her attention, with a gentle apology, from it to her other pressing problem – the small sun that felt like it was burning a hole in her chest. She tested the volume of the energy and was shocked; she had never had this much power, even when she channeled the power of the First Slayer and the Scythe during the spell of awakening.
She needed to get rid of the energy as soon as possible, and she frowned, trying to decide how would be best to do so. She couldn’t release it into the earth here, the type of imbalance that would create could cause all sorts of problems, including earthquakes and other natural disasters.
She felt a nudge against her shields, and turned her attention back to the city. The impression she received was that of a begging dog, and she nodded as the city made its idea clear to her. She knew where to go and what to do, so now she just had to wait until she was released from the infirmary. She hoped she could hold out for however long Carson saw fit to incarcerate her here, because it was rapidly becoming painful and causing a major strain to her shields.