The Many Faces of Radek Zelenka: The Return

"OK, it's obviously the same technology as the quantum mirror," Dr. McKay said, several times over in large, nearly identical labs. "And the dialing device, here," he said, with several hands reaching down to pick up the remote, "controls the... I suppose we could call it a--"

"Quantum mirror."

"Quantum transporter."

"Quantum compact, since it's smaller and more portable than the mirror."

"Universal transportation device."

"Universe transportation device."

"Interuniversal transportation device."

"The Ancients' idea of a fun house toy."

In one universe, David was looking oddly at his co-worker and thought maybe the other David needed a long rest, or that Joe had put him up to a really lame joke. But he handed over the prop as requested. marveling at how well the thing had been constructed. A lot heavier than their usual props.

"All we have to do," the Rodneys continued, "Is dial the right universe and send Radek home."

"How do we know what's the right universe?" Sometimes Weir asked, sometimes Sheppard asked. Twice Beckett asked and once a very worried and very, very pregnant Teyla asked.

Rodney shrugged. "We might have to just ask. All the universes differ, some slightly, some by a greater degree. After all, it's how we figured out Radek's not where he's supposed to be in the first place."

"All right," permission was granted, generally from Weir. "And you've fixed the problem -- it won't electrocute anyone this time?"

"Technically, it was not an electrical shock--" Radek began to explain, then stopped. "It is safe, now." He and Rodney had been working on it ever since Radek had woken up in the wrong infirmary.

"Ready?" The Rodneys asked.

The Radeks nodded.

The Rodneys reached over and flipped the switch.

"Well, shit," John Sheppard was the one to say it, each and every time.

Wide, frameless doorways appeared at each quantum device. Through each, they could all see -- themselves.

"Ah, Radek?" A few of the Rodneys prompted.

Each Radek moved forward and began looking over each group. One moved quickly to stand beside the pregnant Teyla. Another very obviously female Radek walked over to the group with the female Rodney. Another spotted the only John Sheppard wearing a mustache -- to the obvious amusement of several other John Sheppards -- and went to stand there.

One of the Carsons moved forward to stand beside the Radek there and held up a hastily-scrawled sign. It read 'full moon tonight.'
Everyone looked at him in confusion except for one very relieved Radek. He went to stand beside that doorway and mouthed reassurances to his pack.

In another, John stepped forward and mouthed Radek's name. There was a moment of confusion as a second John Sheppard did the same -- and two Radeks looked back and forth in consternation.

There was a bit of discussion in each of the universes and a few attempts at relaying the extent of their relationships did nothing to clarify which Radek belonged where. Finally one John Sheppard stepped out of view for a few seconds.

When he stepped back into view, a dozen jaws hit the ground as one Radek went to stand beside his herd stallion. John glared for a moment, then sighed and moved sideways so everyone could get a clear look at his centaur form. Behind him, Carson said something with a grin which made John scowl at him.

There was one Radek who seemed about to faint and beside him, Rodney McKay was patting his hand in what was meant to be a reassuring manner. They spotted a doorway through which the other Rodney McKay was wearing civilian clothes and looking like he was about to have an epileptic fit. The Radek beside him was talking very rapidly and taking a camera out of Rodney's hands.

Finally there were only two left. They looked back and forth between the two remaining unclaimed universes. Through gestures and clearly mouthed questions, they determined that there was no partner waiting, to decide who belonged where. The Rodneys grabbed clipboards and began writing -- they each held up a brief summary of life so far for the Atlantis team. The summaries were identical in content.

There was more frowning and more discussion amongst the groups. The two Radeks took the clipboards and began exchanging personal trivia about their co-workers and friends, then they moved on to world history and events.

There was no discernible difference, and by this time the other groups were starting to hold up signs, offering suggestions. The two Radeks kept at it, both growing more frustrated as they went.

Finally one Radek got a thoughtful look on his face. He turned to his group, and spoke. The members of that group looked confused, then Weir brought over a glass of water.

The Radek stood there, holding the glass of water until he was sure he had everyone's attention.

Then he threw it on himself and turned into a penguin. One of the other Rodney's grabbed a beaker and splashed himself, and there was another penguin.

Everyone else stared, until one Rodney wrote the note they were all thinking. "You thought that was *universal*?"

But with the last two sorted, every Radek stood beside his -- or her -- proper universe. There was a moment when none of them moved. The reason was obvious on each and every face. They looked back and forth among each other, no one asking but knowing fully well they all wanted to.

Finally one Rodney wrote a note.

"Same time, next week?"

Everyone nodded, and the Radeks put their hands on the mirrors and went home.


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