Beta-ed by the lovely liminalliz What would I do without you?
Yes, my first full length Stargate fic. Go me.
“So? Who are they?” Elizabeth asked as she sipped at her beer.
“Who are who?” Sam responded.
“You know who I’m talking about,” Elizabeth said, poking her in the arm.
“I’m sorry Liz, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” Sam said innocently as she sipped at her drink.
Elizabeth sighed and pointed towards the window. “Alright, see downtown from here? And do you see the enormous building being renovated in the center? The one that’s been like that for months now? Who’s moving in?”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “And why would I know?”
Elizabeth leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “All buildings have to be up to fire code regulations, correct?”
“And that building, having been practically torn down to its foundation and then built up again, will have to be inspected?”
“Yes, but it’s not my job to inspect that building.”
“Ahh,” Elizabeth said, “But you are rather cozy with someone who, at least, knows whose job it is to inspect those buildings.”
Sam smirked. “We try to keep our jobs out of personal life. The number of times you almost died doesn’t make for very good pillow talk.”
“Oh really? John talks about jet ski design all the time. Even his sleep.”
“Jet ski design? I thought he was a bike messenger?”
“That was an intermediary job. Something about a corporate extraction. And stop evading the question.”
Sam sighed and leaned back. “Alright, alright. It’s Rathe.”
Elizabeth leaned forward, her eyes widening. “Rathe? As in Rathe Enterprises? They’re building a branch in our city?”
Sam shook her head. “No. They’re moving here. That building’s going to be their new corporate headquarters.”
“Rathe Enterprises?” Daniel said, “Are you serious?”
Murray nodded. “You sound surprised doc.”
“Well, it’s just that the current president is notoriously nationalistic. I have trouble believing he’d ever leave Great Britain for anything. How much do you know about them?”
Murray shrugged. “I know that they’re huge. Captain Carter described them as ‘Europe’s answer to General Electric,’ and that they apparently have trouble living up to American fire codes, but I don’t know much about them beyond that.” He looked up at Daniel suddenly. “This is all still covered under the patient/doctor confidentiality thing, right? I’m not really supposed to tell you about who owns the building.”
Daniel nodded and got up from his chair. He dug through his trash can before pulling out a newspaper. He uncrumpled it and sat down, searching through the paper for something. “Ownership of the company is almost completely consolidated in the hands of the Rathe family. They’ve been passing down the company through the family since the late eighteen hundreds. The rumors say that is started out as an idle fancy of some noble in the family line, supposedly he based it off some old ancient text he found of the family’s history.” He straightened out a page of the newspaper and handed it over to Murray. “Take a look, that’s the current CEO and chairman emeritus. Sir Michael Angelus Rathe.”
Murray took the paper and looked at the black and white picture of a long haired man in a business suit grasping the podium and looking outward, his eyes covered by sunglasses.
“Looks like a nasty dude,” Murray said.
“Don’t let the sunglasses fool you. All the family wear them when they’re outside. Some sort of genetic disease that makes their eyes hyper sensitive to light. Of course, that’s hardly the only thing that’s wrong with them.”
“What do you mean?”
“I could write an entire series of textbooks on the bizarre and dysfunctional family dynamics of the Rathe clan throughout the ages. I wouldn’t even have to look back into the sixties to complete one book. You think your family dynamic, or even Captain Carter’s family dynamic is bizarre? You haven’t seen anything.”
Murray shrugged. “Still, it has to be good for us, right? Having a corporate headquarters of a multinational like that here has to be good for us, right?”
Daniel leaned his arms on his elbows and clasped his hands in front of his mouth. “I guess so. I just can’t help but wonder what on earth would make them move here.”
“You can’t tell me you don’t like them just because they’re from another country,” Jonas said as he peeled a banana.
“No, Probie,” Jack answered as he shifted through is paper work and tried to think of reasons not to do it, “I do not dislike Rathe Enterprises because they’re from England. I dislike them because they’re a very weird family and they, for whatever reason, seem to be unable to live up to fire codes unless we hold a gun to their heads. Which is starting to sound like a better and better idea the more I think about it.”
“You can’t just make blanket statements like that about the Rathes when you don’t know them,” Jonas said as he started eating the banana.
“I can with this family. Don’t tell me you haven’t read anything about them.”
“Well, yes,” Jonas said, finishing off the banana and tossing the peel into the trash can behind him.
Jack waited a few seconds. When Jonas didn’t say anything else he looked up. “And?”
“Oh. Well, they’re financial and business geniuses. What started as a nobleman’s fancy has turned into one of the top three multinationals in the world. Last year the acquired AmGen Medical, which puts them at the top of the game when it comes to medical technology. They say that they’re currently testing techniques that would help someone survive a bullet to the head.”
“And what about the disappearing secretaries? Their turnover rate? The downfall of all their competitors? The way the President of AmGen suddenly went from fighting the takeover tooth and nail to being their loyal servant almost over night? The fact that their family seems endless? That every time one of them dies old age, yes another one pops up in his place that we had never heard of before? As if they were, I dunno, breeding them in tank? They way Michael Rathe seems to have barely aged since he became Chairman? None of this seems odd to you?”
Jonas pulled another banana out of his pocket and started to peel it. “And where did you read that, sir? The Weekly World News?”
“…Not all of it.”
“So wait, we’re going to have our major jet ski competitor in our own backyard?”
“It’s hardly our backyard Rodney. We don’t have a claim to this city,” Sheppard responded as he filled up a mug that read Kirk has nothing on me. “What are you so hyped up about anyway?”
McKay scowled at his boss as he filled up his own mug, which read I’m smarter than you. “I don’t think you quite grasp the severity of the situation, John.”
“What, they can more easily engage in corporate sabotage?” Sheppard said as he walked from the break room towards his office, he sat down and put his feet up on his desk.
“No, normal sabotage. The kind where they blow up your factory.”
“Oh please, Rodney, how paranoid can you get?”
McKay tossed a newspaper on Sheppard’s desk. “Look at that, front page! They poisoned one of their competitors!”
Sheppard put down his coffee and picked up the paper. “Oh please.” He flipped through the paper and threw it back down on the table. “Alright, let’s assume for a minute that you’re right and that they do engage in all the underhanded evil cloak and dagger stuff that you claim they do, why on earth would they care about us? And put that coffee down before you burn yourself because of a dramatic gesture.”
“Why wouldn’t they care about us? We’re their main competitor in the area of personal watercraft and the top designer now resides in the same city as their corporate headquarters!”
Sheppard smiled and opened a folder on his desk. “Right. I’m not sure which is more frightening. Your paranoia or your ego.”
“Well, don’t come crying to me when they blow up out testing facility,” McKay said, snatching the paper. “How reliable is your source, anyway?”
“Well, I trust the lady who’s been entrusted with our company’s fine image and reputation.”
“Elizabeth’s your source? How can you be sure she’s just not saying that to try and get you to recommend her company for other jobs? Where did she learn this anyway?”
"You're just jealous because she likes me." The raising of his eyebrows said more than his words. McKay pursed his lips and glared. "Touche."
McKay glared at Sheppard for a while who finally looked up at him.
“Don’t you have work you should be doing?” Sheppard asked, sipping at his coffee.
“Yeah, yeah,” McKay said as he walked out the door, grumbling.
Sheppard smiled and nodded his head as McKay turned his head to yell, "Eight years at MIT. EIGHT YEARS!"
The e-mail went out from an unknown source. None of its recipients questioned where it came from. They knew better to crawl through the system to see which of the various users had accessed the anonymous program. It was even received in the sender’s box. That was just how the system worked.
It was received in a surgeon’s office in a hospital, in the personal quarters of a priest. In the house of the one of the day’s premiere actors, and in the ivory towers of the university.
An FBI Agent stroked his chin as he poured over the e-mail on his computer, as did a retired old man who kept a small rock garden and taught kung-fu to children.
It was read, in one of the highest seats of government, by cold eyes.
“You seem nervous, T. Is there something on your mind?”
Murray opened his mouth to say something, than thought better of it and shook his head. “No, it’s nothing.”
Bray moved his knight forward and took Murray’s rook. “I’ve known since you before you were knee high. And I know when you’re lying to me. What’s wrong?”
T sighed and moved his queen to check Bray’s king. “There’s been some rumblings among the Jaffan. Apparently the syndicate is less than pleased about Rathe Enterprises coming here.”
“T, that part of your life is far behind you, as it is far behind me.”
“You and I are lucky Bray. We had someone to help wean us off the drugs. But what about the others? We know what their pain is. We can’t just turn our backs on them”
“No, we can’t ,” Bray said, reaching out towards one of his bishops. “And your work in the rehabilitation programs is admirable. But just as we can’t turn our backs on the Jaffan, we also cannot allow ourselves to be caught up in the problems of the Syndicate. They will take any chance to bring you back into the fold. And no father should ever have to bury his son.” He placed his bishop down and stood up. “Checkmate.”
Jack sat on the edge of his desk and regarded his team. “Alright, we have an order down on high. Commissioner Hammond has decided that, as a show of civic pride and generosity, some of us will be attending the ceremony next week honoring the arrival of Michael Rathe to our shores. Now, who doesn’t mind getting dressed up in uncomfortable clothes and going to watch a bunch English businessmen of questionable sanity walk off a boat with me and Carter?”
Jonas’ hand shot up. Jack pointed to him. “No surprise. I take you want to learn more about the fascinating hierarchy of Rathe Enterprises?”
Confusion struck Jonas’ face. “Er… no. I just have a date that I want to impress.”
Jack’s eyes widened. “Ah. Oh. Right. Anybody else? I think we can afford to take one more person. T, you up for it?”
Murray looked up. “…Yeah. Yeah, I think I’ll come.”
Sam looked at Murray. “Something on your mind?”
Murray shook his head. “It’s nothin’.”
“You sure?” Jonas asked.
Muray nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
“You should go.”
“To what?” John asked as he tried to button up his shirt.
“The ceremony next week. The thing at the docks.”
John glanced back at Elizabeth. “Why? They’re our biggest competitor. It’d be like Roosevelt going to Hitler’s wedding.”
“Godwin’s Law,” Elizabeth said, getting up from the bed.
“What?” John asked, returning to his shirt.
She walked up behind John, reached around him, and started to button up his shirt. “Godwin’s Law. First person to invoke Nazis in a discussion loses. You’re going. Anyway, I can’t believe you just compared Michael Rathe to Hitler. And yourself to Roosevelt.”
“Have you looked at Sir Michael’s track record?”
“You’ve been listening to McKay too much,” Elizabeth said as she picked out a tie from the closet.
“McKay thinks that they’re here to sabotage us.”
“Well, he’s probably a little right. I don’t think they intentionally moved here just to mess with you, but I’m sure that intimidation is a side benefit,” Elizabeth said as she tied John’s tie. “Which all the more reason you should go.”
John shrugged on his jacket. “Explain.”
Elizabeth kissed him swiftly and guided him out the door. “You need to show them that you’re not afraid.”
Rebecca Carter Reese slid the invitations across the table, where they thudded against Quentin’s bowl of Lucky Charms. “Hope you shined your shoes,” she said.
He put his silver spoon into the bowl and picked up the invitation. “What’s this?”
“Sir Michael Rathe is throwing a grand ball for all the civic and business leaders of the community. That includes us. It’s a very nice affair and we should be there."
Quentin scrutinized the invitation and coughed nervously. "I hate these things." He turned the invitation over and ran a finger over the Rathe seal. "They're coming in three ships to the harbor? Three ships?" He looked at her, his eyes incredulous. "So, white tie?"
“No," she said a little sharply, "that would be showing them too much respect." She picked at her oatmeal and sighed. "They’re our enemy in many ways, and we can’t let them think that we’re so afraid of them to be bowing and scraping. We must be respectful, but firm.”
"Sure." He looked at her for a moment and then returned to his cereal.
Rebecca stood, her mouth curved in a smile as she reached him, her fingers running through his curly hair. "Don't worry, love, they've come into my territory now. We'll find a way to crush them."
"Crush them?" Quentin laughed. "Woman, you are a machine. You want to buy out an established English company?"
"Anything is possible." Rebecca leaned down and kissed his cheek.
He looked at her with a suddenly boyish grin, "Trust me, I believe it when you say that."
Rebecca clicked her tongue against her teeth and then turned. "Glad you think that, dear."
Two lights shone in the top of the new sky scraper. Small lights, barely visible to anyone on the ground. Not a soul that mattered knew.
Up in the penthouse office, a man stood in the doorway and shined a flashlight on his boss, who flinched, held up an arm to his face, and waved the light away with his own flashlight.
“Sorry sir,” the man in the doorway said. He swept his flashlight around the room, following his employer’s. “If you don’t mind me asking, sir, why are you here early? You’re not supposed to arrive until tomorrow.”
“Well, Reinhardt, you’re right. Officially, I don’t arrive on these shores until tomorrow,” his boss replied, his British accent ringing through the empty room. “But I just thought I would inspect my new home before I came. Long ago is struck me as a good idea to know your home before you lived in it.”
“If you say so, sir.”
His boss flicked off the flashlight and walked towards the doorway. He threw his arm around Reinhardt’s shoulder. “Come on Reinhardt,” he said, reaching out towards the man’s flashlight. “We’re done here. Let me buy you a drink.”
“Well, well, well. Michael Rathe. I haven’t seen him in years now.”
Ba’al glanced across at Anubis. “You knew him?”
Anubis may have smiled, it was difficult to tell in the shadow cast by his hood. “Oh yes. Yu and I knew him long ago. Didn’t we Yu?”
Yu scowled and sipped at his tea.
“So?” Brindar asked. “Why do we care about them? If we stay out of their way, they won’t bother us. It’s in everyone’s best interests that we all survive, isn’t it?”
“That’s the way it has been,” Osiris replied, "But once a new player enters the scene he doesn't necessarily know the rules of the game"
“Replicant Industries learned easily enough.”
"Though not too well," Ba'al said coldly.
“Yes, but this is Michael Rathe. He’s different,” Yu said. “Didn’t you tell him, Sokar?”
Sokar looked up from the candle he had on the table in front of his seat. “I thought it best if someone who knew him spoke.”
“Wrathe’s a parasite,” Anubis said. “He takes anything he can find and makes into his own. Business, natural resources, criminal, anything. He’ll use whatever he can find. Every time they open a branch somewhere, everything in the area eventually comes under his control. Yu and I saw it happen ourselves in Germany ten years ago.”
“And we aren’t?” Sokar pointed out.
“It’s… different,” Anubis said. “We try to maintain some sort of balance. They take what they can and move on once they have taken all there is to take. We take more pride in our work.”
“How? He can’t buy out and threaten everyone into submission,” Osiris said.
“He doesn’t have to,” Anubis responded. “Michael is very… persuasive. Be alone with the man for twenty minutes and you’re his best friend. Forty minutes and you’d be willing to sign anything over to him. Hang out with him for an hour and you’d take a bullet for the man. I’ve seen it myself.”
Ba’al suddenly stood up and produced a knife from his sleeve. It went hurtling across the table and struck one of the cloaked figures in the shoulder. He screamed and went down to the floor instantly. One of the burlier cloaked figures lifted him up off the floor and slammed him on top of the table.
“I see your point, Anubis,” Osiris said as she pulled the man’s hood back. “He was obviously persuasive enough to convince Eron here.” She unzipped his robe and pulled upon his shirt. A microphone was taped to his chest.
“Tsk tsk tsk.” Osiris ripped the mike from him and crushed it under her heel. “You look pale, Eron, you should see a doctor,” she said.
Apophis suddenly appeared behind her, scalpel in hand.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been assured that he’s quite good at his job,” Ba’al said from across the table. He pulled out a vial of green fluid out of his robe and placed it on the table. “And if it doesn’t work, well, we can always give you some Sarcaoph-beta
“What’s the point of this?” Eron sputtered as Apophis’ scalpel drew slowly closer to him.
“We want you to tell us what you told Michael,” Yu said, calmly sipping at his tea.
Eron screamed as Apophis cut through his skin.
“PLEASE! I’LL TELL Y OU!”
“Not quite yet,” Osiris said. "It takes a little more blood than that to get the real truth out."
“But when you have,” Sokar said, stepping behind Apophis. “Then you will cease to need a doctor. Then, your only need will be me.” He clutched at his rosary.
And Yu and Anubis calmly drank their tea.
Michael Rathe was all smiles as he ran down the gangway of his flagship, his enormous family walking slowly behind him.
The mayor met him. They shook hands. Pleasantries were exchanged. He was given a key to the city. He met the Fire Chief, shook his hands. Asked about his family. Etcetera.
And then he spoke to the crowd.
“I doubt most of you really want to hear me babble on end, especially on a beautifully sunny day like this one when your time could so be better spent elsewhere,” he said, pushing his sunglasses up his nose. “So I will be brief. I merely wish to thank you for inviting me and my family into your lovely city. Some of you, I’m sure, are curious as to why the dramatic entrance with my three ships.” He turned around and regarded the large ocean liner behind him. “I’m sure some of you,” he glanced at Chief O’Neill. “Think that it’s only a rich man showing off to the plebian, unwashed masses. And I’m sure that others of you,” he said, looking around the crowd at Jonathan Sheppard’s group. “Think that this might be all some part of a crazy plot to undermine your company, me being the evil crazy businessman that I am.”
(Elizabeth shook her head in disgust wondering if she could even tactfully handle a client this messy at public speaking.)
Michael Rathe shook his head and turned back to the crowd. “But believe me, there is nothing sinister in my intentions. Nor am I the type of man to show off my wealth. The reason is very personal to me. Centuries ago, my family came to the new world. My ancestor, also named Michael Rathe, came to this very place, this very city, to start a new life. And, as you may or may not know, my family was chased out. The reason is lost to history, but they escaped and fled back to England, with nothing to their names. And now we return.”
He smiled broadly. “And is that not, really, the true realization of the American Dream? How anyone, even an immigrant, can work his way to the top? Is that not the true indication that the American Dream has become the World’s Dream?”
The people clapped politely, a few smiled, many began gossiping at once and more than one rolled their eyes.
“You’re smiling,” Sam said.
Jonas looked back at her, his smile wider than before. “Oh, well, I’ve never been to a big public event like this before.”
“Even when it’s for a bunch of crazies?” Jack said.
“Sir, that’s hardly fair,” Sam responded.
“No, I’m with Jack on this one,” Sheppard said. Elizabeth smacked him on the arm. “What?”
“You look like you want to ask me something,” Michael Rathe said, swirling a wine glass gently.
Reinhardt Mansfield looked up nervously and pulled at his collar. “Well, I was just wondering sir, and far be it from me to criticize you or question your judgment-”
Michael chuckled lightly. “No, question away. I’m hardly infallible after all.”
Reinhardt cleared his throat, “I understand the need to move our corporate headquarters sir, but why here?”
Michael Rathe smiled. “Something wrong with this place, Reinhardt? I’m quite fond of this city. Particularly the ocean view our building affords us.”
“It’s just that… isn’t it dangerous building here? Replicant enterprises has already set up shop. And the word is that this is where most of the Goauld Syndicate has their home base. It just strikes me that this might be a dangerous area to call home, sir.”
“Indeed, but that also makes it vibrant. The dark side of the city grows along with the light, and there is equal profit to be made on both. Besides, this is where it all started.”
Reinhardt looked up at Michael nervously and shuffled some papers around on his lap. “Where all what started, sir?”
Michael smirked. “I’m sorry Reinhardt, I sometimes forget you’re not part of the family,” he said, reaching over and picked up a wine glass on his desk. He swirled around a bit before taking a sip of the dark red liquid. “This is where it started, you see. The family’s infamy. Of course, we had to run from the new world, chased out as heretics.”
“Yes. The messier part of the family’s history. We do not talk about it much. But look what happened, eh? They chase us out of the New World into the Old Country, and we return, triumphant. They cannot hold us back forever. It’s only a matter of time, and we are very patient.”
“Is that so, sir?”
Michael stood up from his desk and smiled. “It is. Do you know, I don’t say this enough, but you are an excellent assistant, Reinhardt.”
Reinhardt’s Adam’s Apple bobbed. “Really, sir?”
“Oh yes,” Michael said, moving around his desk. He sat on the edge and stared into Reinhardt’s eyes. “An excellent assistant. Possibly one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s almost a shame you aren’t part of the family.”
Michael slowly reached out and placed to fingers in the center of Reinhardt’s forehead. Reinhardt kept his gaze locked on Michael’s eyes as he slowly moved his fingers down Reinhardt’s face.
“Yes, if you were part of the family, I might be able to offer you a more permanent position. One with… tenure, so to speak.”
His fingers were currently resting between Reinhardt’s eyes and were still making their slow descent.
“As it is now, you will one day be replaced, I suppose. Corporate policy set down by my father, and his father before him, and his father before him, and so on. No assistant can last very long with us. Otherwise they could become… treacherous.”
“But if you were family, that wouldn’t be a problem, would it Reinhardt? You’d be one of us then, and then we wouldn’t have to worry about whether we could trust you or not.”
His fingers reached Reinhardt’s lips, pulling the lower lip down a little as they continued towards his chin.
“Such a shame all the daughters that are of age are married off. But still, you can be patient, can’t you Reinhardt?”
His fingers tapped Reinhardt on the chin.
“After all, patience is our defining characteristic.”
Reinhardt nodded slowly, his eyes slightly glazed over.
Michael smiled. “Now, go tell my children to come up here. And tell them to bring the girl with him.”
Reinhardt nodded. “Which children, sir?”
“Steven, Robert, and Keipra.”
“Umm… I think Steven…. Er… the girl.”
Michael Rathe shook his head and laughed softly. “Steven, Steven, Steven. What are we going to do with you? Oh well. He’ll learn restraint one day. Alright, see about hiring someone new.”
Reinhardt gathered his papers, stood up, and gave a slight bow. “Yes sir, Mr. Rathe.” He left the room.
Michael Rathe walked towards the enormous windows of his office, grabbing his wine glass in passing. He swirled the contents around again as he leaned against his window, looking out over the city.
“Hello, cozy little hamlet. Little no-name town. Do you remember us? Do you remember me?”
Cross-posted to my journal.