By Enola Jones

Written for a challenge: Use the line "With some trouble, Woolsey found his voice. 'Are you sure?'" as part of the story.

With some trouble, Woolsey found his voice. "Are you sure?"

"Very sure." Coolidge, the spokesperson of the IOA, nodded firmly.

"But.... but...."

Coolidge leaned forward. "Mister Woolsey, must I remind you where your loyalties lie?"

His jaw closed and set, and his shoulders straightened. "No," he said firmly. "No. You don't."

"Very well." Coolidge gathered his papers. "I'll leave it to you to tell them."

Woolsey stood. "Will my command staff--"

"We need Sheppard's gene and McKay's expertise on Atlantis. And the aliens need to remain there, where we can keep an eye on them. Everyone else will be rotated out."

Woolsey slowly nodded. "Am I dismissed, then?"

"You are. And, Richard --- don't forget again exactly who you're loyal to."

"I won't, sir." And he left the office.


"You gotta be kiddin' me!" John exploded.

"They --- They're not serious!" Rodney gasped.

Woolsey sighed. "I'm afraid they are. The IOA feels that Atlantis is too large and too valuable a prize to be released. They intend to moor her in the Pacific indefinitely --- when they do not require her.... services."

John whirled up out of his chair and Woolsey thought he would punch the wall. But instead, he lay his palm and then his forehead on the wall.

"She's agitated?" Woolsey asked.

"Oh, hell yeah," John ground out.

Woolsey sighed. "I was repeatedly reminded to remember where my loyalties lie."

Rodney clenched his fists and glared into space, his jaw set.

"And I'm going to do just that." Woolsey's voice hardened. "There is no more doubt in my mind as to where my loyalties lie. Doctor McKay, how soon can Atlantis be made space-worthy?"

Rodney blinked at him, and John turned to stare wide-eyed, his jaw lowering slightly. "Uh..." Rodney said, his brain re-engaging. "If I had a charged ZPM, less than an hour."

"You'll have one in a few days." Woolsey stood. "Get us ready to go as soon as you can."

"Hold on," Rodney gasped, "I don't---"

John interrupted, grinning from ear to ear. "She got under your skin, didn't she?"

"As I said," Woolsey said, meeting his eyes. "I now know precisely where my loyalties lie."

"In Pegasus," John finished.

Woolsey spared him a smile. "Dismissed --- the both of you."

They left the conference room, already talking over each other as they co-ordinated their plans. Woolsey watched them go, then leaned his full weight onto the table for a long moment.

Then he stood and strode out, purpose in his step.

Time to call in some favours.


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