Altered States

by Domenika Marzione


"... although the sight of Doctor McKay on the green trail at 0100 was nonetheless deemed noteworthy."

John expected that Rodney showing up to run on the 10K track late at night had been deemed a lot more than merely noteworthy, but Hanzis was the master of deadpanned understatement and so John felt comfortable translating the captain's words into "the marines wouldn't have been any more surprised if a naked Elvis had shown up to perform 'Jailhouse Rock' in the gym." It had obviously been necessary to explain to Weapons Company's Second Platoon that their leader was currently... unavailable and Gunny Wilder had temporary command. But perhaps nobody should have been surprised that the rest of the marines were all aware by dinnertime; gossip like that probably moved at twice light speed.

"How'd she do?" John asked. He'd once tried to get Rodney to start jogging; taking a guy out of the city in an infantry-like capacity when he couldn't run a hundred meters without collapsing afterward was just asking for trouble. But Rodney had fought him tooth and nail, coming up with excuses that were trivial and ludicrous and really not and generally being such a mammoth pain in the ass that merely getting him to the range for firearms training had seemed like enough of a victory to abandon the rest. They took the puddle jumper a lot, anyway.

"She's lucky that wasn't for her PFT, sir," Hanzis answered.

Everyone at the table enjoyed the chuckle. The weekly battalion staff meeting had thus far been a mixture of the mundane and the inexplicable and while there was a better ratio than had been the case for the first couple of weeks of battalion life -- getting the marines on a schedule and out of the city did wonders for both marine morale and John's credulity ("No, really, how do they do that?") -- there was still far too much mundane, in addition to the outright boring. On the other hand, as the Big Agenda Point had amply proven, John had really better start watching what he wished for in terms of excitement generated by his charges.

"Are we expected to have anything on this for the databurst, sir?" Lorne asked from the other end of the table.

The databurst was tomorrow and John was hoping that they'd have been able to hold off until next week, success or no, but he'd been quickly disabused of the notion by Elizabeth. "Doctor Weir would like something," he said. "Although I'm not sure what. I've gotten used to writing AARs featuring the life-sucking vampires, but hell if I know how to explain this. We can't exactly classify Cadman as 'missing' -- we know exactly where she is -- and I'm not sure if any of the other designations apply."

"POW," Polito suggested sotto voce, leaning over to mutter at Hanzis. "If anyone's a hostile power...."

John pretended not to hear, since he'd have to frown disapprovingly even though he himself had made the same joke earlier to Elizabeth.

"Actually, sir," Radner began wryly, waiting for John's attention to return to him after John exchanged a bewildered look with Hanzis and Polito; there were times when it was very clear that being with the Stargate Program too long was not a good thing. "We do have a designation. It's APS-dash.... 0939?"

"0949," Lorne corrected, not looking up from where he was writing out notes. "Unless we know that there's something sexual going on."

"Eww," Polito blurted out, tacking on a belated "Sir" because this time John did give him the cocked eyebrow of 'watch your mouth.'

"The SGC has a designation for people getting stuck in other people's heads?" John prompted, since Lorne was still writing and thus not elaborating. Although, now that the initial shock had passed, he supposed he really shouldn't be surprised. He'd spent most of last year with the SGC files as reading material, although he didn't recall any number system.

"They've got designations for pretty much everything, sir," Radner answered with a bemused expression. "Anything APS-09XX is for when you're being controlled by a sentient party. Goa'uld possessions, body swaps, telepathy, that kind of thing."

John wondered if the SGC had been upset that he hadn't reported on his interactions with Chaya by its proper code. "What's APS?"

"Altered Physical State," Lorne said, looking almost mischievous as he grinned. "We used to joke that you hadn't popped your gate cherry until you'd been 0825'd on a mission."

"That's stoned out of your mind, sir," Radner added helpfully.

"So this 0949 code covers Cadman and McKay's... thing?" John prompted, since judging by the stunned-yet-mirthful expressions on both Polito's and Hanzis's faces, this meeting was one well-timed one-liner from digressing into a nostalgia-fueled comedy routine. Which under pretty much any other circumstance John would have happily embraced, even encouraged. But he had a 1645 appointment with Elizabeth, he wanted to check in with Teyla since she was supposed to be sparring with Ronon, he knew he was going to lose most of the evening to Rodney and Zelenka's science show, and he hadn't eaten since 0800 while it was now 1620.

And, also, the idea of either Lorne or Radner getting high was far wackier than Rodney going for a 10K jog in the middle of the night and he wasn't sure he wanted details. He had read everyone's files, knew Lorne and Radner had been part of the SGC, knew that Lorne had scored his fair share of bizarre incident reports and medical chits and would do pretty well on whatever the SGC equivalent of the Purity Test was. But he'd known all that before he'd gotten to really meet the man and Lorne, in the flesh, did not seem like the kind of guy who'd routinely come back from other worlds with no pants on and then laugh about it. (Radner was a marine and he'd come to realize that they all did weird shit just as a matter of course.)

"It's sort of a catch-all code," Lorne answered with a shrug. "'Shared body, non-Goa'uld.' They tried using different numbers for each race, but that got too confusing."

"I can imagine," John said, although he really couldn't.

"We can pull something together for the databurst, sir," Radner promised and John wondered if he looked as lost as he felt. "Everyone back at the Mountain'll know that they'll get the full story at a later date."

John left for his meeting with Elizabeth while Lorne was still hashing out the details of who'd cover the three Engineering missions that they'd tried to get out of but had been overruled on. He was tempted to ask her if she'd ever been 0825'd when she'd been in charge of the SGC, but he was afraid that she'd actually answer.

feed me on LJ?


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16 March, 2008