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Secrets -- Chapter One

A readers says, "Wah! There was no preview of the first chapter of Secrets in the back of the paperback of The Furies, like there usually is!"

Because we're getting these books out so close together, Secrets hasn't been approved by MGM yet, so the first chapter couldn't go in the back of The Furies. However, here's the first scene for you, just as it would have appeared in The Furies if there had been time.

THIS IS SPOILERY AND FULL OF SPOILERS!




Ronon struggled to consciousness, aware at first only of the overwhelming need to run. He caught his breath with a gasp, fought to keep from flailing in the darkness. His limbs were free — that was good, meant he wasn’t trussed for feeding, wasn’t pinned waiting for some Wraith to insert another tracker. He shifted cautiously, feeling a body against his own. Two bodies, one with a spill of long hair — Jennifer, he thought, with renewed fear, and McKay. Faint lights were coming on, as though his movements had triggered them, glowing pinpoints that outlined Wraith controls, and in the dim light he recoiled from the Wraith who lay tangled beneath them. Not a Wraith, not really — it had McKay’s face, McKay’s sharp nose and thinning hair, but Ronon’s skin still crawled at its touch. He pressed himself back against the walls of the lifepod, trying to get himself under control.

OK, yes, they were in a lifepod, a Wraith lifepod, because they’d been cut off from the others and there was no other way off the hiveship: the plan had been to steal aboard Death’s hive, rescue McKay, or kidnap him, depending on whether or not he was cooperative, but Jennifer had collapsed before they could rejoin Sheppard’s group or contact the Hammond.

He shifted awkwardly, trying to fit himself into space designed for a single Wraith, worked himself free of McKay until he could reach Jennifer and drag her into a less crumpled position. The convulsions had stopped — if he didn’t know better, he’d think she was asleep. But then nobody slept through something like this. He touched her cheek, brushing loosened strands of hair back from eyes and mouth, but she didn’t stir. He could feel her breath on his hand, felt for a neck pulse anyway. Her skin was cool, her heartbeat steady. Whatever had happened, she wasn’t in any immediate danger, or at least not from whatever had caused her to collapse.

The situation, however, was another matter. He settled her as safely as he could into the protective niche, wormed his way around McKay’s unconscious body to study the controls. Unfortunately, nothing looked familiar. A few lines of data trickled down the small central screen. To the left of that, he saw a button with a symbol he did recognize: tracker. He swallowed old, irrational fear, his back twitching where the scars no longer were, and kept his hands well away from the console. The button wasn’t lit, so presumably it wasn’t working: they were safe from that, at least. He took a deep breath and scanned the symbols again. All right, that one— the glowing blue shape like a child’s image of lightning — that one, he was pretty sure was visuals, and he pressed it before he could change his mind. The falling data stopped abruptly, was replaced by an image of a starscape. It was rotating slowly around a point that seemed to be a hiveship, drifting disabled. Or not disabled: a hyperspace window opened, and the ship vanished through it.

Ronon blinked. Not exactly a good thing, unless the Hammond was still lurking somewhere nearby, and he didn’t really see any signs of that. There was a schematic in the corner of the screen and, if he was reading it right, there was a planet nearby, along with an awful lot of debris….

McKay chose that moment to stir, and Ronon jumped, reaching for his gun. He had it out and the barrel against McKay’s skull before McKay opened his eyes and bared sharp Wraith teeth at him.

“Get that away from me,” he said. “What the hell did you do to me?”

His voice was so much the old McKay that Ronon blinked, though he didn’t lower the gun. “Stunned you,” he said. “And drugged you.”

“What? Why would you do that?” McKay’s glare deepened. “And wasn’t that redundant?”

“Because the last time we tried to rescue you, you tried to kill us,” Ronon said.

“I sent you a message,” McKay snapped. “I’ve been waiting for ages — and why is Jennifer here?” His face sharpened. “And what’s wrong with her?”

“She’s out cold,” Ronon said. “I don’t know why. And she’s here to get you back in one piece.”

“By drugging me?”

“The IOA wanted to shoot you.”

“Oh, that’s very helpful,” McKay said. “Where are we?”

“In a lifepod.”

“What?”

“We blew up the hive,” Ronon said. “That was part of the plan. Only we couldn’t get back to the jumper because Jennifer passed out. So I put us all in a lifepod.”

“You blew up the hive,” McKay said. “What about the ZPM?”

“The one you stole?” Ronon glared. “When you led a bunch of Wraith into Atlantis?”

McKay had the grace to look abashed, but rallied quickly. “And you couldn’t get it back? We need that!”

“I don’t know,” Ronon said. “That was Sheppard’s job. I was supposed to be capturing you.”

“They couldn’t have destroyed it,” McKay said. “I mean, how hard could it be to unhook it?”

He sounded less certain than his words, and Ronon shook his head. “McKay.” McKay turned on him with a Wraith’s speed, and it took all his willpower not to press the firing stud. “Do you know how to work this thing?”

“Of course,” McKay said. He wriggled around until he was facing the controls, peered thoughtfully at them for a long moment, then touched a button. The viewer disappeared, and was replaced by another cascade of data. McKay reached under the screen and folded out a small keyboard, typed something.

“Well, that’s not good,” he said.

“What?”

“We’ve got about seventeen hours of air left, with three of us on board. And I’m not picking up any ships in the area, Wraith or human.”

That wasn’t good, Ronon thought. “What about the planet?”

“That’s not good either,” McKay said. “In fact…. Oh, no. No, no, that’s definitely not good.” He typed frantically for a moment, but got only a few pained beeps from the console. “We’re caught in the planet’s gravity well, and we don’t have enough power to break free.”

“These things are designed for reentry, aren’t they?” Ronon asked. “They must be.”

“Yes, of course they are.” McKay punched more keys. “And it looks as though the planet — yes, it’s perfectly habitable and it has a Stargate. No signs of people, though, no settlements, no wreckage. It was either abandoned or Culled a long time ago.”

The hairs on Ronon’s neck stood up, hearing this Wraith who was McKay talk so casually about Cullings.

“I should be able to get the guidance computer on line,” McKay said. His hands were busy as he talked, bringing new systems into play, eliciting soft noises from the console. “Yes, there. And track for the Stargate. We’ve got inertial dampeners, and thrusters, we should be able to make reentry.”

“Couldn’t we just signal the Hammond?” Ronon asked.

“We have seventeen hours of air,” McKay said. “And it won’t be very nice air toward the end. No, we need to get this thing down onto the planet, and then we can worry about signaling the Hammond. In fact, if we land it right, we could dial Atlantis and go home.”

Which presented another problem, Ronon thought. Could he trust McKay? Yeah, it sounded like him, he sounded normal, as far as that went, but he was still clearly Wraith. Could they risk going straight to Atlantis? He shook his head. First things first. He couldn’t land the lifepod himself, but McKay seemed to think he could. Let McKay get them down safe, where he could take a good look at Jennifer, and then they could worry about getting to Atlantis.

“I wish Sheppard was here,” he said.

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Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
raduancairinel
Jul. 15th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
Wow, now I can hardly wait for the rest and I really, reaaaaaally hope that MGM does not delay the release of Secrets, like they did with the others. And now, how about a little "Ember time?", pretty please...
jo_graham
Jul. 15th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! We're hoping for Secrets in a little more than a month, at the end of August.

And I will do an Ember piece in the next few days, since you ask nicely! :)
thesistersweb
Jul. 16th, 2012 12:05 am (UTC)
YAY cant wait for it.
jo_graham
Jul. 16th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad!
jeyla4ever
Jul. 15th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
This is Teyla's centric book, right? I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing with us a John and Teyla snippet that I can promote the book in Beya with? Pretty please with cherry on top? ;)
jo_graham
Jul. 16th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
That's The Furies, hon. Which is already out! This is Secrets, the fifth book, which is Rodney's book. But I will put up a bit with John and Teyla tomorrow!
jeyla4ever
Jul. 16th, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC)
Please don't hate me cause I'm stupid. ;) Aww...thank you!!! *smooch*
jo_graham
Jul. 16th, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
You know I love you! :)

I will put up a piece just for you tomorrow. Actually, want me to put something up on Beya? I'm happy to do that.
jeyla4ever
Jul. 17th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC)
*huggles* loves you right back.

YES!!! that would be the icing on the cake!!! *smooch* Can't wait...*bites nails anxiously staring intently at the screen*
Check out Beya's new look, too! :)
jo_graham
Jul. 17th, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC)
Ok Camy! It's up!
jarodrussell
Jul. 15th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
Poor Rodney, the least the Wraith could have done was give him long, flowing hair as part of the deal.

Edited at 2012-07-15 08:10 pm (UTC)
jo_graham
Jul. 16th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Sadly, Rodney still has his own hair, only white!
silverbullet27
Jul. 15th, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, please! A bit of Ember! And Bonewhite! And Steelflower... uh, sorry, I'm greedy...excuse me! Mea culpa! ...all of a dither, wraithy...
jo_graham
Jul. 16th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Hee! There will be many Wraith. I promise!
kickstand75
Jul. 16th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
eek! Poor Ronan....though it's Rodney and Jennifer I guess we technically should be feeling bad about, I can't help wanting to just pat Ronan on the back and say it's gonna be all right....Rodney is NOT going to eat you now that he's remembered you. lol. :)
jo_graham
Jul. 16th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this is not Ronon's best day! Trapped in a lifepod with unconscious Jennifer and Wraith Rodney -- so not good!
Lisa Claesson
Jul. 17th, 2012 07:29 am (UTC)
Cover
If Secrets will be Rodney's book, we'll we se a wraith Rodney on the cover?

Edited at 2012-07-17 07:30 am (UTC)
jo_graham
Jul. 17th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Cover
I don't know. I haven't seen the cover for Secrets yet. I'm guessing it will be Rodney's cover, but I have no idea what he'll look like!
2bluaeryn
Jul. 18th, 2012 12:39 am (UTC)
I'm so loving this series and will be very sad when it is over. My secret wish...make it into a movie *claps madly*. That would be so full of win!

Anyway, thanks for sharing this it made my OMG moment at the end a little more bearable until the next book.
jo_graham
Jul. 19th, 2012 10:34 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you're enjoying it! I wish it could be a movie too, but for the moment this is the best we can do.

And I'm glad it makes the end more bearable. They're still in a tight spot, but not dead!
(Deleted comment)
jo_graham
Jul. 25th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
I'll have to go see what your prediction is!

Yes, the eta is still the end of August. Thank goodness!
(Deleted comment)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )