Frame of Reference series.



by Sealie


Type: mini-genfic
Spoilers: none

Beta: Therienne and Dr. Dredd

Contact: or




I know why Beckett gets unnerved by the Ancient stuff. It’s insidious – nope wrong word -- becomes part of you. The Chair doesn’t talk in words, but it’s responsive. Crap – this is like trying… this is…



Sheppard slumped back in his chair. He couldn’t even begin to encapsulate what interfacing with the Ancient technology was like. There were no words – they simply didn’t exist.



My mom’s grandmother was scary. She was from somewhere near Inverness in Scotland and visited a lot when I was a kid before she died. Like she was going to visit after she died – although knowing grandmother…. She could look you in the eye and tell you that playing with ouija boards last weekend had been a bad idea and it was a good thing that you’d quit before it got too scary. Auntie Sarah up the road – not a real Aunt but my mom’s friend – would come around when Nana was visiting and ask her to read the cards. The Tarot Cards.


Grandmother  knew stuff.


I asked her how she did it. And she said she just knew. It all came together. Grandmother didn’t really need the cards she just put it all together.



Sheppard abandoned the data tablet. The words glowed on the LCD screen. What it boiled down to was that he just did it. Using one finger he typed in:



I just do it. My gut knows.



Perhaps that’ll be enough? Sheppard wondered. His finger poised ready to delete the personal information. He knew, though, that a single sentence would not satisfy Elizabeth. Forgetting the data tablet, he slumped on his bed.


One minor little run in with the overly superstitious inhabitants of PX8-463 and an overly responsive piece of ancient hardware and suddenly Elizabeth was determined to find out about the super squishy side (McKay’s term not his) of the ATA gene.  The device had been venerated by the PX8s as the Accent of the Ancestors and the basis --historically –- of their religion. For the first time in recorded history it had awoken and sang to announce the presence of Ancestors in the Chapel of Explication. But the globular pulsating zit had dithered between him and McKay, before finally shining a curiously warm light on him. McKay was denounced as a Dd’el – false Ancestor – and had escaped from the Chapel by the skin of his teeth. Sheppard had had to dog his every footstep to prevent a spear in his back all the way back to the Stargate.


The zit had not liked McKay, but then again neither had the people of PX8-463.


He wondered what Beckett was making of this little assignment in psyche probing. He had read McKay’s essay – boring. He just thought ‘do it’ and it happened or it didn’t.


Maybe McKay didn’t get the feedback thing that happened for him.


Sheppard flopped further onto his bed. He wasn’t getting anywhere with the asinine assignment on his own. He needed to talk to someone to whom he could speak candidly and who possessed the Ancient gene in its innate form. And there was only one person who fit that bill. 


Sheppard snatched up the pad and exited his room.




“Dr. Beckett? Doc?” he said for the fifth time. “Carson!”


Uhuh?” Beckett looked up from the microscope. “Major Sheppard, what can I do for you? Are you all right?” He looked around, seemingly checking that he was in his lab rather than the infirmary.


“You busy?”


“Well…” Beckett waved his hand at the microscope.


“You got five minutes?”


Beckett found a little smile and nodded. “I just need a moment.”


“Sure, Doc.”


Beckett slipped the moist slide from the mount and placed it in a petri dish and sealed it. He leaned back in his chair and smiled. “All yours.”


Sheppard settled on a metal stool next to the doctor.


“Have you finished Elizabeth’s assignment?”


“Oh.” The doctor’s expressive face shuttered. “No. Bloody invasion of privacy.”


“You wanna read mine? Swapsies?” He held out his data tablet and wiggled it enticingly.


Beckett gave him an unfathomable look, but picked up a small, black notepad, peeled back the holding band and opened it. The pages were filled with scrawled black writing and swirly diagrams. Beckett flicked through and selected the requisite pages.




Sheppard exchanged his high tech data tablet. On first glance it appeared a bit disorganised; words jotted down in circles which were joined by jagged, dotted or smooth lines. In the centre was ‘ATA gene’ underlined four times. Arrows jerked off like starbursts to stab the circled words. A fat arrow led to ‘protect the people’. A thinner arrow led to ‘fear’' whose circle interlocked with ‘exhilaration’. Both circles had arrows which stabbed the ‘protect the people’ circle. In the top left hand corner sat a circle with the words ‘touch my heart and soul’. Set at the bottom of the page was a coloured-in square which bore the word ‘Ascension’ – which had rubbed out lines that went nowhere. Scribbled without circles and arrows were the words: formidable; sense; tickles and Atlantis.


Kinda hard, isn’t it?”


“Very.” Beckett’s smiled shyly. “So your grandma’s from Scotland?”


“Great grandmother, but yeah. She’s had a sweet little stone house – croft?”


Aye, could be. Maybe a cottage? And she’s fey?”


“Fey? Well, mom’s side said she was psychic. Dad just called her the witch.”


“Aye, well, people fear what they don’t understand.” Beckett heard his own words and then laughed, mockingly at himself.


Sheppard set the notebook down. “I know what to do and how to do it, but I can’t put it in words.”


“Well, that’s more tha’ me,” Carson said with something as close to bitterness that John had ever heard in his voice.


“You can do it, you just…”


“Get scared,” Carson supplied. “I don’t like the way it invades. No, it doesn’t invade. The feeling of controlled strength, the responsiveness to a mere thought. I could kill someone with a thought. I almost killed you.”

Sheppard held up his hand. “Enough all ready. It was an accident. You could get a dosage wrong on a drug or something, couldn’t you? Accidents happen.”


Carson glowered. “There’s checks. I work with my colleagues. The Ancient technology expects us to know more than we do.” He leaned back on his chair, his expression pensive. “It’s how I would imagine flying a dragon.”


Sheppard cracked a wry grin. “I…” He brought his hands up and clenched his fingers in frustration. “It’s like we’re on the edge of something and the words aren’t there.”




“When you fly, when you first learn, everything is A, B, C. Then eureka it all comes together and it becomes flying.” Sheppard flashed a smile.


“I don’t fly very well, but I did play the flute at school. And I remember the day I wasn’t mechanically looking at the music sheet and picking out each individual note and it all came together and became music.”


“Exactly!” Sheppard jabbed his finger. “And we’re still doing A, B, C. No – not right. Maybe you and me are jumping from A to D to F and the guys you’ve given the gene therapy are ABCing.”


Carson stood up and stretched before heading to his coffee pot in the far corner of the lab and fixing two cups. One with sugar and milk the other black.


John accepted his with a nod. 


“Sometimes I think that if I think about this hard enough I’m going to change into something else,” Sheppard said almost to himself.


Carson looked at him, eyes big and filled with trepidation “Aye,” he said softly.


“Do you imagine we’d be able to change back?”


“How? When you hit puberty you can’t become a child again. Or you’re a virgin and then you’re not and then you are. Ain’t possible.”


There was an Ancient device sitting muted on Carson’s workbench, waiting to be called into action. About a foot tall, the cylinder was slightly curved and inch in diameter. It had delicate Ancient metallic scrollwork spiralling up the side. At the tip, finger length filamentous leaves quivered. Sheppard picked it up and stroked it with his mind. It purred and sat up.


“You know, I bet if we did it we’d be able to explain the ins and outs.”


“But who would understand us,” Beckett said quietly.


“Yeah.” Sheppard didn’t think that he was ready for that trip.


Just yet