BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

EMMARIGBY

Winding River: Chapter 4
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Since I promised you a chapter a day this week, here's today's portion of the crossover fic that spends a lot of time in the Stargate verse (If you hate crossovers don't read!). A friend of mine stated that it was impossible to mix these two programs convincingly. Is he right? Let me know!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2336    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: see chapter 1 AN/ Yep, the chapters are still coming (I'm just starting writing chapter 9!) Here's another installment. Enjoy! (I hope)

Chapter 4 Affirmation

The briefing room seemed more crowded than usual. For a small person, the doctor could certainly take up a lot of room. The rich, dark pattern of the oak and leather conference table was almost buried beneath an avalanche of papers and graphs.

Janet Frasier sat with her arms folded, a foot tapping impatiently as she waited for the discussion to work its way around to her new patient. Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond had considered the events on P1X-701 and the potential threat to the SGC to be of greater priority.

"So, the two hostiles you took out. You believe them to have been human?" Hammond queried.

Jack grimaced at the recollection. "Well, they were pretty messed up but, yeah! I think they were human once. Don't know what made them to go all creature-feature though."

The General’s face became very serious. "Is it possible they were carrying some sort of disease?"

Janet shook her head with authority. "I did thorough blood-workups on River and all the members of SG1. They seem clear of any pathogens, sir."

Jack gave her an evil look and clutched his upper arm protectively, leaning over to whisper to Carter.

"Any excuse to break out the big needles!"

Sam smothered a grin. Making an obvious effort to maintain decorum she spoke up. "We'd have to retrieve one of the bodies for further testing to rule out a biological agent for certain."

General Hammond stared thoughtfully at her with furrowed brow. He was clearly unhappy with the notion of introducing such a spectre onto his base. "Let's leave that on the 'to do' list for now." He stated firmly. "What have we learnt from questioning the young girl you rescued?" There was an awkward shuffling of feet.

Jack spoke up defensively. "Well, sir, it was kinda hard to get any useful Intel. She's not exactly ... well, she's definitely a few kinks short of a slinky!"

Daniel scowled at him in disapproval. "I don't think she's insane, just a little cryptic. Actually, she kind of reminds me of Oma. You know, ‘if you know the candlelight is fire...’" He trailed off with a shrug. They all jumped as a small voice spoke from the doorway.

"The meal was cooked a long time ago."

All heads snapped around as one to stare at the slight figure hugging the doorjamb. She stood poised on bare feet, looking lost and infinitely breakable inside the overlarge hospital scrubs. Jack had risen to his feet either in alarm or protest at the unexpected intrusion. Before anyone could comment a sound of hurrying feet announced the flustered entrance of Airman Groves. A flush of relief washed over his anxious young features as he caught sight of River. Becoming aware of the illustrious gathering into which he had just stumbled, he came to attention with almost comic dismay. O’Neill pasted a mock disapproving scowl over his amused smirk.

"I’m fairly sure your orders were to guard the infirmary, not give a tour of the base!" he snapped.

The young man drew himself almost painfully erect, eyes straight ahead. "Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!" He swallowed nervously. "I don’t know how she got away from me, sir. I only turned away for a second, sir and she was gone!"

General Hammond stepped forward, taking pity on the quivering soldier. "I don’t believe the base was in too much danger this time." He smiled in an avuncular fashion at the wide-eyed child still clinging to the doorframe in front of the stiff young man. "Why don’t you escort Miss River back to the infirmary. Maybe you could even pick her up something to eat along the way."

"No." The quiet voice was firm and resolute. She looked up at him through long snarls of ink-black hair, her gaze pure steel. "I have to be here. I need to know."

There was a moment of silence as Hammond examined the pale, delicate face. His eyes slid from the livid bruise forming at her temple, lurid against the luminous translucence of her skin, to the hint of pleading in those bottomless eyes.

Major Carter broke the silence with a tentative suggestion.

"If we let her stay maybe she could answer a few questions for us?"

Jack waved his hand in a little gesture of impatience. "Yeah, like whether or not she’s an Ancient. I mean she seems to know the password to ascension." He turned to face River, eyebrows raised. "So what about it, Sweetheart. Are you going to go all glowy on us?" he asked her directly.

River stood silent and solemn, a look of slight puzzlement on her face. Janet rose swiftly to her feet, as if literally springing to the young girl’s defence.

"No, it’s nothing like that. My tests have shown she’s very human." She moved around the table with clipped, aggressive strides. She positioned herself between River and the General. Her normally soft brown eyes were fever bright with fury. She spoke in a tight, dangerous voice, her hands clenched into white-knuckled fists at her side. "Sir, from what I can tell this girl has been the victim of the most intrusive experimentation that I could possibly imagine. She’s been put through numerous unnecessary surgical procedures and it has left her understandably traumatised." Her eyes flashed dangerously as she coolly suggested, "If she wants to hear the results of the tests I’ve done, I believe she has that right."

General Hammond gave the compact, almost vibrating form of his Chief Medical Officer a long measuring look. His nod of assent released a tangible wave of relief from several people in the room. Despite her size, Dr. Frasier could be even more intimidating than Teal’c when her protective hackles were raised. Janet smiled gratefully and spun around to shoo impatiently at the young Airman. He backed away uncertainly and glanced at Hammond who smiled kindly.

"You’re dismissed, son." The young man practically fled from the room. Janet put a kind arm around River’s thin shoulders.

"Why don’t you come and sit down?" she asked gently. River flinched away from the contact and then turned to stare hard at the doctor, her large eyes glistening with sadness.

"Heroes." She muttered in a quiet, resigned tone. "They never last long."

She turned away from the perplexed woman to pad softly over to the desk. Teal’c stood and pulled a chair out for her in a gesture of timeless chivalry. She climbed onto it and hugged her legs to her chest, resting her cheek on her knees to peer sideways at them.

Janet seemed to shake off her bemusement and came back to the table, staring down at her papers.

"I ran an EEG and a couple of MEG scans on her whilst she was sleeping. The results were … incredible!" Janet’s face was an unreadable conflict of emotions as she stared down at the colourful diagrams. "Her brain has undergone massive restructuring. There’ve been multiple incisions into her limbic system." She shook off her absorption long enough to glance up and explain. "That’s a part of the brain used to control emotional responses and 'filter' incoming information. Parts of her amygdala have been removed which, we believe, are responsible for some aspects of personal identity and important functions related to memory. What’s really interesting is that whoever’s done this seems to have stimulated growth of the basal ganglia which, among other things, is critical for maintaining the brain’s timekeeping system."

She shook her head slightly in wonder. "This level of brain manipulation is way beyond anything we’re capable of."

Daniel half-raised a hand, tentatively trying to break into the doctor’s preoccupied silence.

"Is anyone else thinking Hok’Taur? I mean we know that several Goa’uld have been trying for centuries to breed more advanced humans to make better hosts."

Janet nodded encouragingly. "That was my first thought. The technology is definitely advanced enough."

Her eyes flashed angrily as she ground out "The arrogance of these procedures, the total disregard of the consequences for the patient, are certainly consistent with what was done to the children of Hanka." She broke off, cheeks flushed and continued in a quieter voice "And to my daughter." That soft admission revealed to the room, and also to herself, the source of some of her indignant outrage.

Her eyes lingered for a moment on River’s motionless, curled body. She cleared her throat deliberately and continued in a more professional tone. "River’s case isn’t really a close parallel to Cassandra’s. There’s no evidence of any retrovirus infection to rewrite her DNA. It did present some features I found familiar, though."

She held up a multicoloured blueprint of the inside of a skull. "See these reticular infiltrates from the base of the brain to the frontal lobe?" Sam and Daniel leaned forward eagerly, eyes tracing the wiggly lines she indicated. Jack didn’t look up from the doodle he was drawing. He was waiting for the inevitable dumbed down summary.

Janet continued undaunted. "They’re almost identical to the non-cancerous tumour that Jonas Quinn developed as a result of being exposed to Nurrti’s machine." She paused to fix the room with a significant look. "The experiment that led to him experiencing precognitive visions." Jack finally looked up at this, his brow creased in a thick scowl. "You think this is Nurrti’s handiwork? One of her attempts to build a better brain?"

Janet looked sceptically at River. She hadn’t moved an inch during the discussions and it wasn’t clear from her slightly glazed and distant stare how much was registering with her.

"It’s possible." Dr. Frasier mused, but her voice was thick with doubt. "I’m certain that this treatment will have left her with some … unusual abilities. On a purely physical level her reaction speed will be heightened, as will her fine muscle control." She caught the furtive glances that SG1 shot towards the motionless young girl and felt compelled to elaborate to try to dispel the sudden unease.

"In Parkinson’s disease a drop in the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine causes degradation in control of muscle movement, emotional response and the perception of time. I suppose she could be described as having a kind of anti-Parkinson’s disease. Her dopamine levels are five times higher than they should be." She grimaced, frustrated at the blank looks she was receiving. She braced her hands on the table and leaned forward earnestly, determined to get her point across to the group.

"The mental side-effects of what she’s been put through must be immense. I don’t think any Goa’uld could, or would even want to, cope with the mess that someone has made of this girl’s mind. Not only will her perception of the world be skewed but it’s also hyperacute. All sensation and emotion have been tied into the cognitive area of the brain. The line between thinking and feeling must be virtually non-existent. Every moment will be a chaotic jumble of experiences that she has to sort through to make sense of the world." She straightened and crossed her arms defensively across her chest, her shoulders slumping in frustration. Her eyes lingered in sympathy on the top of River’s dark head.

"I’ve given her a shot of Lorazapram which seems to have calmed her down, but really, I’m amazed that she can be coherent as she is!"

"It helps."

Dr. Frasier flinched in surprise as she suddenly found River’s eyes fixed on her with startling lucidity. River spoke quietly, as if for Janet’s ears alone.

"I know that I’m here, and that now is now, not then."

Jack stared at her with raised brows. "This is better?" he muttered dubiously before giving a tight smile. "I guess everything’s relative!"

Carter frowned impatiently. “So what are we saying here? Do we think a Goa’uld did this or not?”

Teal’c made a minute adjustment to his posture that somehow immediately drew all eyes to him. “There is one amongst us who could answer that question, if we but knew how to ask.”

Daniel stared at him for a moment, surprised that the normally laconic Jaffa had had to point out something so obvious. Truth be told, River had been so still during the discussions that he had almost forgotten she was present in the room. He leaned forward, trying to lower his eyes to the level of her line of sight.

“River?” he kept his voice soft and non-threatening. “Do you know what a Goa’uld is?” She continued staring past his right ear, pupils dilated.

He tried a different tack, with the patience that a long friendship with Jack O’Neill had taught him. “Can you tell me what the main form of religion is on your planet? What is it that most people worship?” Slowly those dark eyes drifted over to his face and her focus sharpened from its thousand-yard stare. A little line creased her wide forehead as she struggled to understand the question.

“Money?” she suggested uncertainly, glancing around with interest at the faces staring at her for validation that she’d provided the correct answer.

Jack barked a frustrated half laugh. “Great, she comes from the planet of the yuppies!”

Daniel pinned him with a stifling glare before smoothing his features back into comforting lines as he turned back to River. “That’s true of a lot of people here, too.” He reassured her with a gentle smile. “But is there one God, or Goddess, that people pay allegiance to?”

River cocked her head with bird-like quickness, her thoughts turning inward as she considered the question.

“The Shepherd had the good book. I thought it was an object. Didn’t understand its iconic symbolism.”

Daniel shot a startled glance back at his teammates. “The Bible! The Goa’uld rarely allow Christianity to flourish on their planets.”

“Yeah!” Jack growled in agreement. “Doesn’t really fit with their image of Godhood. Except Sokar, of course... He did a pretty convincing impersonation of the devil.”

Teal’c, ignoring Jack’s diatribe, was staring hard at the still huddled young girl. “River?” he called in a quiet voice.

“Tam” she whispered, her eyes connecting with his. He hesitated, raising a brow questioningly. “River Tam. Is me.” She elaborated. He inclined his head in gratitude.

“Thank you, River Tam.” He was obviously more at ease with the respectfully formal mode of address. “Have you ever seen men marked in such a way as this?” he queried, his large fingers brushing lightly over the raised gold oval on his forehead.

She stared at it, eyes wide, and a wince flashed over her smooth features. She dispelled it with an emphatic shake of her head.

“So!” Jack broke the silence. “Not a Goa’uld?” It was half question, half statement. He scowled, his lips a thin line of anger and frustration. “So that means we’ve got someone else out there who thinks it’s fun to play God.” There was no answer to this and his eyes rested on the thin young girl, swamped in her borrowed cotton scrubs like a child playing dress-up.

“I mean why the hell did they do this to the kid?” He exploded, his voice rough with pent up outrage. “What use is creating a psychic if you have to drive them crazy to do it?”

“Toy soldiers.” The anger drained out of him as River’s quiet voice spoke out. She suddenly straightened from her crouch and faced the group with the self-assurance of a professor imparting vital knowledge.

“But they wound me too tight. A spring broke.”

An uneasy silence filled the room as each person contemplated this. For once nobody was in much doubt as to the meaning behind the softly spoken words. And although every eye shone with sympathy, no one could find it in them to respond.

AN. Like it? Hated it? Go to that little review panel just down there and drop me a line to tell me which bits I did good on or should improve. Go on, it only takes a minute and it makes me make funny squeaky noises.

COMMENTS

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 2:56 AM

PONYXPRESSINC


Ok this has done my fragile writers ego no good at all, I was heavily doubtful about crossover fic, you've changed my mind.


Wednesday, May 3, 2006 8:47 AM

GUYWHOWANTSAFIREFLYOFHISOWN


I agree with Anonymous (211.246.245.239)


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