|A Mad Scientist
Author: stella-pegasi PM
A new rule has made Rodney McKay a very mad scientist.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Hurt/Comfort - John S. & Rodney M. - Words: 13,958 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-07-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7444005
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: A Mad Scientist
Rating: K +
Genres: Gen, Action/Adventure, Whump!
Word Count: ~13,400
Characters: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Richard Woolsey, Teyla Emmagan, Ronon Dex,
Disclaimer: I do not own them; I would have treated them better.
Summary: A new rule has made Rodney McKay a very mad scientist.
Author's Notes: Written for LiveJournal community sga_saturday's Week 19 Prompt: rule. This didn't start out to be as long as it was but this story had a mind of its own. There is whump…hope you enjoy.
Yes…I know…next Road Trip segment…almost done, really…..
A Mad Scientist
"This seriously bites, Sheppard."
"I know it does, Rodney, but what the fuck do you suggest I do about it? We've been over this a hundred times; I can't fix it." Sheppard finished zipping up his TAC vest, and checked his P-90 magazines, as Rodney paced back and forth in the gear-up room.
Ronon walked past Rodney, and smacked the scientist on the shoulder. "What are you so upset about, McKay? It's not like you really liked doing this."
"That's not the point, damn it, I…"
Sheppard spun around to face McKay, his face reflecting his own frustration, "Enough…it's done. Now we need to go."
Sheppard motioned to Ronon, Teyla, and Captain Jason Bayne, and the four headed for the gate room leaving Rodney alone and extremely dismayed. He watched as his team, his former team, left on a mission without him. There had to be something he could do, and he headed for Richard Woolsey's office.
The Atlantis director sat behind his desk, focused on typing, and didn't hear McKay enter. When McKay plopped down in a chair, uttering a deep sigh, he startled Woolsey, who nearly jumped out of his seat.
Gaining his composure, Woolsey spoke, "Doctor, from the expression on your face, I know what you're here to discuss. No, I cannot change this, and no…I am not going to make an exception for you."
"This is completely unfair," was McKay's only reply, delivered with a serious dose of anger.
Woolsey observed McKay for a few seconds, as the scientist sat fidgeting in his chair. He silently chuckled as he watched McKay's surprise at the use of his first name, "Rodney, I know how difficult this is for you, but the IOA has made it clear that we could lose funding if we continue to put you and the other scientists in jeopardy as members of SGC teams. I doubt even Dr. Jackson would be allowed to be part of SG-1 under this IOA regime."
"Well, that just shows how narrow-minded and obtuse the IOA is, SG-1 would not have survived on many missions without Jackson, just like SGA-1 would have been in trouble without me."
"I'm well aware of that fact, but that fact is not enough to alter the ruling."
"This really blows, Woolsey."
Woolsey gave McKay a thin-lipped smile, "Doctor, despite your eloquence, I am certain that nothing you could say would sway them from their decision."
"Just because some stupid idiot got himself killed on a mission, doesn't mean that we're all that stupid. Besides he was on a SG team, not one of ours; our scientists are smarter."
"Surely, you're not suggesting that the scientists on Atlantis are too smart to be killed on a mission. We both know that is not the case; unfortunately, we have lost scientists as well. All the IOA wants to do is make certain that anyone in the science division is not part of a military team on missions."
"I have been part of Sheppard's team, since we arrived here; they need me. It's ridiculous to assume that scientists can't be part of on-going missions."
"Well, doctor, since the IOA had to pay out several million dollars to keep the family of the scientist who died, quiet; scientists are no longer allowed on military missions, end of conversation."
'The fool shouldn't have left that damn diary where his family could find it," McKay fumed, "it's all about the money and the cover-up."
"I agree with you, but he died when he was serving as a member of an SGC team. The newly instituted IOA rule clearly states that scientists are only authorized to go off world on scientific missions, with a military escort. While I fully understand your feelings, doctor, there is nothing that I can do; you need to let the matter drop."
A month later, Rodney was sitting at his workbench in the astrophysics lab, ignoring Dr. Radek Zelenka's efforts to talk with him. He was staring into space when Sheppard walked in. Zelenka glanced up when he heard the colonel arrive, Sheppard jerked his head slightly toward Rodney, and Zelenka circled his ear with his finger, the universal sign for crazy.
Sheppard slipped up next to the scientist, "Hey, McKay, how 'bout some lunch?"
McKay jumped, "Ah, gee…you didn't have to sneak up on me."
"No, not hungry; I have too much to do," he glanced nervously at Sheppard, "too much science stuff to do."
Sheppard looked over Rodney at Zelenka and nodded his head for the Czech scientist to leave them alone. Zelenka wasted no time in departing.
"Rodney, you have been avoiding us; you won't meet us for a meal, for a movie. You didn't even go to the bonfire party on the beach last weekend. You've been holed up in your lab for weeks; come to lunch, Teyla and Ronon are waiting."
"And Captain Bayne, I suppose he's waiting as well?"
Sheppard exhaled sharply, "You gonna stop acting all hurt and jealous and come to lunch?"
"No, now go away, quit bothering me."
"Fine," Sheppard was frustrated but he attempted to keep his voice tempered. "By the way, Captain Bayne has a team of his own now; we haven't added a permanent member to the team. I've been rotating potential team leaders, and new arrivals with us on missions for training; but you'd know that if only you had decided to be sociable." He pivoted and started out the door.
"Sorry, John…I…I just hate…," Rodney didn't finish his thought.
Sheppard returned to the workbench, "Hate not being on missions? Is that Rodney McKay talking?"
"Bite me, Sheppard," Rodney slammed his laptop closed, and frowned, "Am I that obvious?"
"Well…maybe not to everyone; I think there's an airman in the laundry room that hasn't caught on yet."
McKay breathed deeply a couple of times, "This really sucks; I never thought I would hate not going on missions."
"If it's any concession, Ronon misses you," Sheppard smirked, "no one to pick on."
"You and Teyla?"
"What do you think? Word has it Lorne even misses you."
Rodney gave Sheppard a sheepish grin, "Lunch?"
"Come on, let's get down there before Ronon eats everything."
They grabbed trays of food, joining Teyla and Ronon at a table on the patio. Teyla smiled warmly at McKay, as he sat down, "Rodney; I am so glad you decided to join us." Ronon grunted a hello between bites of a huge roast beef sandwich.
Rodney glanced at his former team members, then dropped his eyes, "I…I missed you guys."
"We have missed you as well, Rodney, you will always be our team member." Teyla, who was sitting next to him, gently patted him on the shoulder.
They ate in awkward silence for a few minutes, a rarity for the friends, especially with McKay at the table. He was usually chatting away about some, in his opinion, idiotic action of one of the scientists. Sheppard realized that McKay was nervous about being with them in such a familiar setting after isolating himself for so long; time to deal with the issue.
"So, McKay, did you think that not hanging with us would make this easier for any of us?"
"Yes, I thought it would be easier for me. I don't like the IOA messing with what we do here, and I just didn't want to deal with it."
Teyla sighed, "Ignoring this is not the solution; unfortunately, it is what we must deal with at the moment."
McKay frowned, "Only going out on science missions doesn't make sense, we're still in danger. Really, we lost scientists right here on Atlantis, they don't need to be off world to be in danger. Hell, we've lost military right here; it's a ridiculous rule."
Sheppard pushed his tray away, slouching in his chair, "There is no denying that this rule is not in place for the safety of the scientists. It's been put in place to protect the IOA as a knee-jerk reaction to the death of one SGC member. A death that cost that cost them a great deal of money. They are only covering their own asses."
"Can't we just ignore them, take McKay on missions anyway?"
Sheppard, turned toward Ronon, who had asked the question, "I wish it was that simple, Chewie. In fact, I threatened to do just that and Woolsey talked me out of it. Rodney, don't think that Woolsey and General Landry, as well as General O'Neill, aren't trying to convince the IOA to change this rule, but they aren't getting anywhere."
McKay tossed his fork onto his tray, "I hate this; I should be out there with you guys."
His friends could only nod in agreement.
During the next two weeks, McKay spent more time with his friends but still didn't want to discuss the details of the missions they were racking up. On a recent off-world mission, Captain Stackhouse's team uncovered an Ancient outpost, along with a rather unruly group of local inhabitants. Routine photographing of artifacts for later review by the science department, implemented after the IOA ruling, had uncovered an artifact that they had never seen before. However, in a skirmish with the locals, the artifact had been destroyed. McKay filed a formal complaint, citing disregard for the preservation of artifacts, followed by an investigation conducted by Woolsey and Sheppard. They determined that the destruction was an accident due to the ambush conducted by the locals. McKay wasn't convinced; he contended that if he or one of the science teams had accompanied Stackhouse that artifact would most likely be intact. The scientists would have protected the item.
He convinced Sheppard that there were additional valuable objects in that outpost and requested a science team be dispatched. However, Woolsey refused to send a science team until another military unit canvassed the area. Sheppard decided that he and his team would check out the vicinity out and attempt to make contact with the locals.
McKay had not been present to see his former team off on a mission since the IOA ruling. He wouldn't admit it to himself, but a little piece of him crossed that event horizon each time his friends entered without him. It hurt not to know what was happening to them; his biggest fear was that one of them would be hurt and need him, and he wouldn't be there. For some reason, the morning SGA-1 left to check out the outpost McKay hid in the darkness just outside the gate room to watch them leave. He felt uneasy about the mission, chalking his apprehension to hanging around Sheppard and his spidy sense too long. Whatever the reason, Rodney McKay was nervous.
Nearly two hours later, he was working in his lab when Zelenka's excited voice erupted through his COM. Zelenka was in the control room working on an electrical circuit problem with one of the Ancients consoles.
"Rodney, you need to come to control room now." Radek's accent was thick, a sign that he was highly agitated.
"Leave me alone, I'm busy; get Montoya to help you if you've hit a snag."
"Rodney, Colonel Sheppard's team is in trouble; they just sent Lorne and three squads to assist. Someone is badly injured, but we don't know who is hurt yet."
Rodney was already at a dead run, heading for the gate room.
When he arrived, Dr. Beckett and a medic team were standing by, along with two more squads waiting to be deployed if needed. He rushed to Beckett.
"Carson, do you know who's injured?"
"No, Rodney, I don't; now calm down, we'll deal with what we have to deal with when they return."
Minutes passed, minutes that felt like an eternity to McKay; he began to pace. Beckett allowed him some time to expend his nervousness, then stopped him.
"Rodney, pacing is not helping; you need not to anticipate the worst."
"Not anticipate the worst, then why are you here? We know someone is injured, so don't tell me, not to anticipate the worst; the worst has happened." Rodney walked away from Beckett, and went to stand next to the wall alongside the stargate.
Ten minutes later the gate activated; the Marines immediately took defensive positions as they waited for an IDC. Chuck's voice floated over the balcony, "It's Major Lorne."
The event horizon settled, everyone in the gate room holding their breaths. Seconds passed before the first Marines emerged through the gate, carrying a litter; it was Ronon. Captain Isaacs' burst through the gate, spotting Beckett; he hurried toward him.
"Doc, it appears that Ronon has a compound fracture, Teyla's coming through in a second, she's got a nasty gash on her head and shoulder." He paused, breathing hard, "Sir, Colonel Sheppard's…the colonel has a really bad chest wound, sir. We had to revive him in the field."
Rodney was numb as he waited for Teyla and Sheppard to appear. When they did, Teyla came through carried by Sergeant Johnston, the 6'5" two-hundred-seventy five pound Marine, who was one of Sheppard's favorites. Then the litter carrying a pale and unconscious Sheppard came through the gate, carried by Corporal's Brenner and Rodriguez. They gently placed the litter on a waiting gurney and stepped aside. Beckett immediately looked to Rodriguez, who was also an EMT.
Rodriguez spoke, "He was apparently struck by some sort of projectile weapon, in the upper left quadrant, at an angle; slipped underneath his TAC vest. Teyla said he bled profusely before they managed to get a compress on, but it was still bleeding when we got to him. His heart stopped once and I was able to revive him, but his pulse is thready, and his respirations slow. I managed to get an IV line started, and we got him on a saline drip, sir."
Beckett gave the obviously distraught but in control, corporal a slight smile, "He was lucky to have you," glancing at Corporal Brenner, he added, "both of you. You always seem to be there when the colonel needs you." Nodding to the medics, Beckett directed them toward the infirmary; as they rapidly disappeared down the hallway, Rodney followed.
The next few hours were nerve-racking, Sheppard had lost considerable blood volume, and the doctors were having a difficult time stabilizing his blood pressure. They suspected he continued to bleed internally, and Beckett took him to the operating room.
Dr. Keller, who returned from a Pegasus Coalition Heath Service meeting after being notified, immediately proceeded to operate on Ronon's compound fracture, while Dr. Jackson, better known as Dr. J, stitched up Teyla's wounds.
Woolsey joined McKay in the small waiting room, about twenty minutes after Sheppard's surgery began. They sat in silence until Major Lorne arrived with Corporal Dani Ensor, who had been the fourth on Sheppard's team for the mission.
"Doctor, Mr. Woolsey, any news about the colonel?"
Woolsey answered, "He's in surgery, nothing yet. Teyla is resting; the cuts were deep, but she is going to be fine. Ronon had to have some temporary pins put in his leg, but he should heal within a few weeks."
"Well, at least that is some good news. This is Corporal Ensor; she drew the assignment to Colonel Sheppard's team for this mission. Corporal, please tell them what happened."
"Yes, sir; when we got to the planet, the colonel wanted to see the Ancient outpost first, since it is located near the stargate. It was huge, sir, a four-story building without windows. The doorway to the courtyard was opened, and we discovered that the door into the outpost itself had been tampered with. It appeared that someone had attempted to break in without success. Once we had a quick look around, we took the road that led from the gate, and began searching for a village. The colonel was hoping that the fact that Teyla and Ronon were Pegasus natives would be less threatening to the locals, sirs."
Woolsey asked, "Did you encounter them, corporal?"
"Not immediately, sir; we found what appeared to be an encampment rather than a village. There were some permanent structures, but they appeared to be quite new. We scouted around a bit, but didn't find anyone. However, there were some cooking fires, and they were smoldering. Teyla called out, explaining we were friends, but if they were nearby, they didn't show themselves. The colonel did use the LSD, but said there were no life signs other than ours in the vicinity.
"When did you run into these locals, corporal?"
"Mr. Woolsey, the colonel decided to return to the outpost for a closer look. We were about a half-click away when the first shot rang out. Colonel Sheppard ordered us to double-time for the outpost, there were only a few copses of trees to hide in. I believe the colonel thought most of them were already occupied, which left us with little defensive locations.
"We were running when weapon's fire struck a tree near Ronon, he leapt out of the way, but his boot caught on a huge root, and he fell, breaking his leg. Teyla was injured as she went to help him, another shot splintered a tree limb, and the large pieces hit her. She and the colonel got Ronon to his feet and assisted him the rest of the way, while I laid down ground fire."
She coughed, and Lorne grabbed a bottle of water for her from a tray. She nodded thanks, and after taking a sip, continued. "Colonel Sheppard realized that with Ronon's injury, we would have a difficult time getting back to the gate with any speed. He thought we could take refuge in the outpost, and he would return to the gate for reinforcements. However, it didn't work out that way. He couldn't get the courtyard door to reclose; it must have been damaged earlier as well. When he tried to get the door into the outpost proper open, it wouldn't open at all. The crystals lit up, but the colonel's gene couldn't open it. He thought it was jammed or didn't have enough power. While he was fiddling with the control panel, I was attempting to help Teyla stabilize Ronon's leg. That's when two of the locals got the drop on us from above; they had climbed onto the top of the wall surrounding the courtyard. I managed to eliminate one of them, but before Teyla could take a shot at the other one, he fired, and the projectile hit the colonel.
She took another drink, "Crap, sir...he was standing at just the right angle for that damn bullet to slip right under his vest." She grimaced when she realized she had cussed, but Lorne just smiled at her. "As the colonel was falling, I heard a sound, it was Ronon's blaster; he took care of the second local. Teyla and I tried to get Colonel Sheppard's bleeding under control, and then I decided that I needed to get to the gate for help. I got Ronon into position to watch the door and Teyla where she could watch the wall and keep an eye on the colonel." She paused, taking a deep breath, "I didn't want to leave them there, sirs, but I didn't have a choice."
Lorne smiled, "You did the right thing, corporal; you had three injured people under your protection. You secured them as best you could and came for help, well done. You're hereby ordered on twenty-four-hours rest; take a hot shower, get some food and some sleep."
"Sir, thank you; please will you let me know about Colonel Sheppard?" Lorne nodded and dismissed the corporal.
"That young corporal did very well; I think a commendation is in or…" McKay whose agitated voice betrayed his anger, interrupted Lorne.
"Damnit…" he stared into Woolsey's eyes, "I should have been there. This is exactly why they need me." He began to breathe rapidly, "Damn the IOA, if I had been there, I could have completed the circuit and gotten that door open, then Sheppard's life wouldn't be in danger. I told you this was going to happen; I warned you. If Sheppard dies, this is on the IOA's hands, and if they think the family of one scientist gave them trouble, they won't know happened when I get to them." He pushed his index finger into Woolsey's chest, " You get this rule changed, Woolsey or I will."
Before Woolsey could answer, McKay stormed into the infirmary. Woolsey followed him onto the small balcony off the main ward. He found McKay sitting on the deck, his back against the tower. Woolsey sat down next to him.
"Doctor, I realize that you are quite angry, but you must understand, there are some things that we cannot change so easily."
"Don't give me that bureaucratic bullshit; I could have prevented this."
"You don't know that, the control panel may have been damaged so much that you couldn't have gotten inside quickly enough to keep the colonel from being shot."
"You don't get it...you haven't been out there. If I had been there, the colonel would have been free to take care of the bad guys, while I worked on the panel. It would have bought more time. It would have given them a chance." McKay dropped his head to his knees.
Woolsey sighed, "I concede, doctor. You are correct; they would have had a better chance with you. The question is how I convince the IOA of that fact."
Sheppard was in surgery for nearly two hours. By the time, Dr. Beckett emerged to talk to them, Teyla was awake, Ronon still sedated. Lorne, and Woolsey were sitting with Teyla.
Beckett pulled off his surgical cap, and leaned against Teyla's bed. "He's resting, but he lost a lot of blood, about forty percent of his total volume. The bullet tore through the subclavian vein, causing the severe bleeding; it took a while to repair the damage. We've given him a couple of units of whole blood, and right now we're just trying to keep his blood pressure stable." He gave Teyla a slight smile, "Let me tell you, the action that you and the young corporal took, in addition to the aid Corporal Rodriguez gave him, saved John's life."
"Then he's going to be okay?" Rodney asked, apprehensively.
"Barring any further complications, yes…he's going to be fine." He patted Teyla's leg, "Now this little lassie needs some rest. John won't be out of PACU for at least another hour; time for all of you to get some rest."
As he turned, heading back for the PACU, he noticed no one left, and he knew none of them would, until Sheppard was completely out of the woods.
"Hey, Chewie, looks like the limp is gone."
Ronon sat down as he placed his breakfast tray on the table, "Yep, saw Keller this morning, she's released me. Still have to do some physical therapy, says I'm only ninety-five percent, but enough to resume my duties; going spar with some Marines this afternoon." The Satedan grinned wickedly.
Sheppard laughed, "Teyla, inform the infirmary to expect casualties this afternoon."
"I do feel sorry for the Marines present when Ronon walks into the gym, John. I believe the term is sacrificial lambs."
Rodney shuddered, "Right term and bad visual."
They laughed in unison at the image Rodney had conjured up. Several weeks had passed since Sheppard, and his team was injured. All had healed; Teyla's scars were barely visible thanks to excellent suturing by Dr. J. Sheppard had returned to active duty two weeks before.
They were speculating on how much damage Ronon could do with his pent-up energy when Richard Woolsey approached. The Atlantis director sat down without a word, took a sip from the coffee cup in his hand, then sat the cup down hard on the table.
Sheppard's spidy sense kicked in, "Richard; I know that look. What's happened?"
"I just received word that the Apollo is within two hours of establishing orbit around Atlantis."
"The Apollo, what's the Apollo doing here?" Rodney asked as his interest peaked; the Apollo had not been to Atlantis in nearly eight months. Which suited Rodney just fine, he and the Apollo's commander, Colonel Abraham Ellis were not exactly friends.
Sheppard followed up, "Yeah…the Daedalus is due in ten days, why the Apollo now? Has something happened to the Daedalus?"
"No, as far as I know, the Daedalus will be here with their regular supply run as scheduled. It appears that we are about to have company."
Sheppard's left eyebrow raised, "Company, who?"
By mid-morning, Sheppard was waiting with Woolsey in his office for the IOA representatives to beam down. Rodney was in the control room with Radek, conducting terminal diagnostics. Sheppard knew it was a cover; McKay wanted to be present when James Coolidge, who was the IOA Oversight Director of the Stargate Program beamed down to Atlantis.
"You know, Richard; maybe we should have Ronon here. He and Coolidge seemed to hit it off, after Teal'c, and he saved the SGC, and Coolidge's hide."
"I wish it were that easy."
"You think Coolidge is here because of the complaint Rodney sent to the SGC and to the IOA."
Sheppard frowned, "Yeah...I do."
Woolsey stared at McKay, who was sitting at a console in the control room. "I could just order him back to his lab."
"Good luck with that," Sheppard's reply prompted Woolsey to roll his head back.
Chuck's voice floated through the open doorway, "Mr. Woolsey; the Apollo is ready to beam down." In response, Woolsey and Sheppard rose and entered the control room.
The familiar hum and bright light appeared, depositing Colonel Ellis, James Coolidge, and three other individuals on the control room balcony.
After the obligatory greetings, Coolidge spoke, glancing over at McKay, "Mr. Woolsey, Colonel Sheppard, we need to speak…in private."
Woolsey motioned to the conference room across the mezzanine, and began walking that way. As Sheppard followed, he looked over at Rodney, who appeared very apprehensive. Sheppard mouthed, "Calm down."
Inside the room, Coolidge introduced his companions, Erik Günden of Germany, Macai Chu from China, and Dominic Marline from France. Sheppard was a bit surprised to see Ellis accompany them into the room. He realized he needed to determine which side Ellis was on, theirs, or the IOA's.
Woolsey spoke first, "Mr. Coolidge to what do we owe your visit?"
Sheppard noticed, with a good deal of satisfaction, that Woolsey omitted 'the pleasure of' from the question. Woolsey had come a long way since his days as the IOA liaison to the SGC.
"It has come to my attention, that despite our ruling, Dr. Rodney McKay insists on filing complaint after complaint regarding the role of scientists on this expedition. We have come here to put an end to those complaints."
Sheppard bristled and sat straighter in his chair; Woolsey looked at him, and Sheppard knew that the director realized that he was already close to exploding. A barely perceptible shake of Woolsey's head told him to remain quiet.
Woolsey addressed Coolidge, "Precisely how do you plan on ending those complaints? I would hope that you would change your mind regarding that ruling. As I explained in my request for rescission to the IOA, the ruling is too broad and is ineffective."
Sheppard was stunned; he had no idea that Woolsey had petitioned the IOA regarding the decision to prevent non-military personnel on military missions. When this was all over, he was buying the director a drink, hell he thought, the whole damn bottle.
Coolidge sneered, "Well, that isn't something that you can decide, Mr. Woolsey. However, at the insistence of Stargate Command and the President, we are here to audit your mission reports since the ruling was initiated and to make a judgment as to whether the necessity for scientists to be present on military missions is warranted."
Sheppard spoke up, "You have access to all our mission reports through the SGC, so I can only speculate that you are here for another reason." Sheppard knew what that reason was, but he wasn't going to vocalize his thoughts yet.
"Colonel you are correct; I am here to see if you, along with Mr. Woolsey have violated this ruling. After all, colonel, both of you have exhibited the affinity for not following orders and breaking protocol in the past."
Sheppard's temper flared but he remained in control, "You will find that we have not violated the ruling, regardless of how inane it is, Mr. Coolidge." His eyes were black with rage, boring into Coolidge's eyes.
Ellis interjected, "Coolidge; we talked about this, and you promised me you were not going to accuse anyone of anything. I will report any deviation from your stated mission to General O'Neill, who will be happy to speak to the president about you."
Sheppard breathed a sigh of relief; at least, he knew where Ellis stood.
Woolsey asked, "What do you want?"
"I wish to interview all personnel who have been on missions since the new rule went into effect; we will see if scientists were needed or not. I will provide you with a list of interview times, and I expect you to have the personnel available. We will use this conference room as our office. Now, please allow us to prepare, we wish to begin the interviewing immediately, and we expect each team to testify together with the expectation that we may call them individually as well." He turned to his laptop, effectively dismissing the members of the SGC.
Sheppard stood up reluctantly, his eyes drifting to Ellis, who gave him a knowing nod. Woolsey already exited the conference room, striding angrily, if Sheppard read him right, toward his office; the colonels followed. As they walked through the control room, Sheppard motioned for McKay to join them; this was his fight as much as theirs.
Woolsey quickly caught McKay up on the discussion with Coolidge, and then asked Chuck to send someone to get them coffee. Sheppard had settled in one of the deep chairs, the toe of his boot tapping against the glass-topped table in front of him. He stopped when he saw Woolsey frown at him.
Ellis spoke, "Listen, John; I didn't want anything to do with this but to tell you the truth Caldwell refused to transport Coolidge, threatened to resign if they forced him. Those two had a run in over a situation that occurred with the Lucian Alliance. They didn't take kindly to the Daedalus blowing a Lucian warship up; the IOA thinks we should be making alliances not enemies. Like that's going to happen with the alliance. So, they stuck the little weasel with me. He kept snooping all over my ship; Major Hart was itching to throttle him."
McKay fumed, "This is my fault; but I can tell you right now, I'd still file those complaints."
"You are not the sole instigator here, doctor. I sent my own letter, which apparently Coolidge took a serious disliking to, and here he is."
It was McKay's turn to be stunned. Sheppard remarked, "Yeah, Richard, gonna owe you a bottle of scotch for that."
"I don't like the IOA interference any better than any of you do, but for now, let's let his little kangaroo court ask their questions."
Ellis mused, "John; I know the loyalty of your military personnel and of the scientist here." He glanced briefly at McKay. "I have this funny feeling that what Coolidge hears from them is not what he is going to expect. Now, I am going to take my leave from these fun and games, due back in the Milky Way. The plan is for Coolidge and company to gate back to the SGC. If not, the Daedalus will be here in ten days, and Caldwell can be stuck with them. Good to see you again, John, and good luck."
Two days later, while the 'kangaroo court' as they had begun to be known across Atlantis was still asking questions, the control room received a mayday from SGA-6. On a scouting mission to a planet, culled over two years before by the Wraith, they stumbled across some kind of facility, and were overcome by noxious fumes. Lieutenant Bordain had managed to make it back to the gate, barely able to talk after he stumbled into the gate room.
Hearing the commotion, Coolidge came out of the conference room to complain that the noise was interrupting the interviews. He was going to complain until he saw what was happening in the gate room. Several scientists and military personnel were in hazmat suits. Obviously concerned about his own safety, he hurried toward the control room, noticing that Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay were both suiting up."
"What's going on?"
Woolsey answered, "One of our military teams accessed a facility where they released some sort of chemical that overcame three of the team members. One was further away and made it to the gate to call for assistance. Science teams, along with other military teams, are mounting a rescue." He turned his back on Coolidge, walking to the railing along the control room balcony. "Colonel, you ready to go?"
Sheppard nodded, twirling his hand to indicate for Chuck to dial the gate. As soon as the event horizon settled, the rescue team disappeared through the gate.
An anxious forty minutes passed before the gate reactivated; the waiting medics had Gurney's ready for the incoming patients. The teams came through the gate with carrying two litters and one body bag; Colonel Sheppard was helping to carry the body. He respectfully handed the body off to the waiting EMTs and headed up the stairs, as he took off his hazmat helmet.
As he entered the control room, his face was a mask of fury; he glared at Coolidge as he passed and approached Woolsey.
"Sergeant Whitley is dead, overcome by the fumes; Cramer and Perez are critical at the moment, but Carson thinks they have a chance."
"What happened, colonel?"
"We don't know anything other than what Bordain has told us."
"I spoke to him after you left; he said that they came upon this building, which looked like some kind of manufacturing facility to them. Once inside, apparently Whitley opened a door, which triggered the release of the fumes."
"This planet was as advanced as the Genii, and had manufacturing facilities. They didn't realize that they were in some kind of chemical storage facility. There were symbols on the walls, but none of the team recognized them."
"That's because, some idiots kept a scientist off of regular scouting missions." Rodney McKay was red faced, as he walked up to Coolidge. "A man is dead because of you, you disgusting piece of crap."
Woolsey came over to McKay, "Doctor, you don't know that. This could have happened even if a scientist had been with them, many squads go out without a science team member."
"I know that at first we didn't have enough scientists to go out with every team and the Wraith was always a concern, but we have enough now. This would not have happened if a scientist had been with them, we've seen those symbols in the database. Any scientist on that mission would have recognized the markings as dangerous."
Coolidge turned to Sheppard, "If that is true, colonel, then your people should have been aware of those symbols. So, I suppose this means this is really your fault."
Sheppard looked ready to wipe the floor with Coolidge, but he only said, "I take responsibility for my role in Sergeant Whitley's death, do you?"
The colonel turned to Woolsey, "I have a letter to write to a family, if you will excuse me, Mr. Woolsey."
Sheppard left and McKay, his face turning crimson, turned to Coolidge, "You bastard; John Sheppard is a thousand times the human being you are, how dare you say that to him. Unlike you, he would give his life for his people. Hell, he'd even give his life for you, although that would be the biggest affront to humanity of all. You disgust me." McKay stormed away.
Coolidge turned to Woolsey, "Are you going to allow him to talk to me that way?"
Woolsey simply said, "I'm sorry, did Dr. McKay say something?"
Coolidge spun around and left the room, while Woolsey returned to his office, oblivious to the grins of the control room staff that greatly approved of Woolsey's reply.
The next morning, James Coolidge was still fuming. He had been complaining to his fellow IOA members about the treatment he was getting.
Macai Chu allowed him to rant for a while, then she interrupted, "James these people lost one of their own yesterday. We were present late last night during the ceremony when the honor guard accompanied the sergeant's body back to Earth. They are family here, and you would do well to remember that. You should not have insulted their leader."
"I didn't say anything to Woolsey."
"Do you really think the true leader of this base is Woolsey? You are not paying attention either to the interviews or the atmosphere here." Dominic Marline threw his hand in the air. "You insulted the real leader of Atlantis, Colonel Sheppard. It is obvious to us that the members of this expedition, military or science, would give their lives for him as he would for them. They will not take kindly to your insulting him."
"I would tread softly, James. You are not handling this well," Erik Günden admonished. He sat back in his seat, "Not well at all."
While that conversation was going on, Sheppard, Woolsey, and McKay were meeting in Woolsey's office.
Woolsey watched Colonel Sheppard closely; it was apparent to anyone who knew him that the colonel had not slept. "How are Perez and Cramer this morning?"
"Better, Beckett thinks the damage done to their lungs will heal completely."
"We still don't know exactly what the compound was, it broke down pretty fast; I doubt it was even toxic, by the time we arrived. Dr. Deidermeyer is attempting to identify what it was." Rodney sounded and looked tired.
"John, you do know this is not your fault, don't take Coolidge's words to heart," Woolsey remarked quietly.
"Yeah, whatever...look, he was right about one thing; we need to be certain that info about things like this does get to the military units. Maybe that would have stopped them from opening that chamber."
Rodney whined, "And maybe not. Look, the best thing is to have a scientist with each team. There's too much data to assimilate, and while I know that the military personnel, we have here are quite smart, I…."
Sheppard smiled faintly, "You finally admit my troops are smart."
McKay smirked, "Don't let it go to your head. As I was saying, it would be better to have a scientist on each mission."
Woolsey said, "I agree with you McKay but it's not going to happen; these IOA people don't have a clue what it's like to go on a mission. Hard for them to make a decision about this without knowing. I found that out the hard way, right, colonel?"
Sheppard didn't answer right away; he was staring off into the distance. After a moment, he looked at Woolsey, "I have an idea." He tapped his COM and asked Lorne to join them. About forty minutes later, Sheppard and Woolsey headed to talk to the IOA members, who were on a break from their interviews.
Woolsey spoke, "We need a few minutes of your time; we have a proposition for you."
Coolidge snapped, "We do not have time for any nonsense. We have…"
Günden broke in, "What kind of proposition?"
Woolsey turned to Sheppard, who explained, "This morning during mission briefing, we discussed a potential return mission to PX9-7723. The report states the presence of a structure that appears to be of Ancient origin and what appears to be a friendly indigenous population. I would like to propose that you join us on the mission. You would be accompanying my team, and we'll have another team with us. So, what do you think, would you like to go off-world?"
Dominic Marline smiled broadly, "I would love to, colonel. It would give us a frame of reference to understand better what it is that the SGC teams do."
"I am in total agreement with my colleague, colonel," Macai Chu added.
"As am I," Günden said.
"Good, then it's agreed, we will leave at 0900 hours tomorrow; report to the gear up room at 0830 hours and we'll get you outfitted. I'll have the original mission report forwarded for your review." Sheppard and Woolsey turned, only to be stopped by Coolidge.
"Not so fast, I haven't agreed to this stunt."
Woolsey exhaled deeply, "I assure you this is no stunt, Mr. Coolidge, this is what we do daily."
Günden, who was sitting closest to Coolidge, slapped him on the back, "Don't be such an angst katze, James."
"I am not a scaredy cat." Coolige retorted.
"Colonel," Marline said, "We will be in the 'gear-up' room at the appointed time. I am looking forward to it."
"He's not going to like this."
Radek Zelenka sputtered, "Like you really care about what Coolidge thinks, Rodney."
"I'm telling you, when he comes into the gate room, he's gonna be pissed."
"Nesmysl; the colonel said his cohorts were all excited, but that he looked petrified. This should be fun."
They heard voices coming up the corridor from the gear-up room. Radek looked over his shoulder at the other two scientists, Doctors Jessica Prater and Dr. Martin Cox, both Ancients artifact specialists. They were happy, neither had been off world for a while. By the time, Radek turned back around, Colonel Sheppard and his team entered the gate room accompanied by the IOA members.
Sheppard stopped before the gate, "Those of you going off world for the first time, remember what Major Lorne and Dr. Zelenka told you in your orientation. Rule number one: do not touch anything."
Coolidge pointed to the science team, "What are they doing here? You said there would be another military team going with us."
Sheppard deadpanned his answer, "No, I said that another team would accompany us, I didn't say it was military. I must have forgotten to tell you that this is a science mission; we're the escorts." He looked up at the control room indicating for Chuck to dial the gate, choosing to ignore the chuckles coming from the other IOA members.
Sheppard and Teyla went through the gate first, followed by Ronon, who grabbed Coolidge by the arm, dragging him across the event horizon. The other IOA members followed, the science team on their six.
They exited the gate on PX9-7723 to a beautiful blue sky. The stargate sat out in the middle of a large field surrounded by rolling ridges, clumps of trees dotting the landscape. About a click to the east, on the crest of one of the ridges sat the low building that the team, who reconned the area, suspected was of Ancient origin. According to the mission logs, a large town sat on the other side of the ridge.
"Okay everyone, this path," Sheppard pointed east, "leads to the building; let's go."
Sheppard and Teyla took point, while Ronon took their six. As they were walking along, Coolidge noted that the scientists were armed, McKay with a P-90. He picked up his pace and moved up next to Sheppard.
"Colonel, why are these scientists carrying weapons?"
Sheppard had his sunglasses on, which he was quite happy about; he didn't want Coolidge to see the disdain he had for the IOA liaison. "Why do you ask?"
"They are not trained to be soldiers, colonel. Having them armed appears reckless to me."
Sheppard started walking a little faster, forcing Coolidge to a near trot to keep up with his longer stride. "There is nothing reckless about it; no scientist goes out on a mission until they have proven their proficiency in weapons' training and can pass a physical fitness test. It's dangerous out here, Mr. Coolidge; I want to make certain they have the best chance possible to stay alive."
"Surely you can't think that a little bit of training makes soldiers out of these scientists."
"I'm not attempting to make soldiers out of them; I'm attempting to make survivors." Sheppard picked up his pace once more, leaving Coolidge behind.
The small building sat along the apex of the ridge. As soon as they reached the building, McKay pulled out his scanner, while Prater and Cox began to examine the structure.
"Definitely a power source here, but the readings are weak." McKay looked at Sheppard, "Either that means that if there is a ZedPM here, it's nearly depleted, or it's very deep."
Sheppard chewed on his lower lip, then asked, "So, everyone up for a trek into the deep dark dungeon?"
Günden laughed, "Dungeon, colonel; this is getting more interesting all the time."
Sheppard replied, "It always does." He repressed the smile tying to surface as he watched Coolidge's face pale at his words. He didn't want trouble on this mission, but he was realistic enough to expect it. He watched as Zelenka began walking around the building, taking readings, while Cox and Prater closely examined the exterior, thinking if something happened to Coolidge, it would be his career. He was just going to have to make sure Coolidge stayed safe.
Prater yelled for him, "Colonel, come here; I think I've found a doorway."
Sheppard headed for archeologist, the others following. Two thin grooves, extended from the top to the bottom of the structure, about five feet apart; recessed into the wall was a rectangular cover. Rodney pressed on the rectangle, revealing a standard crystal door control. He passed his hand over it, but nothing happened.
Rodney frustratingly gazed at Sheppard, "Okay, your turn, colonel."
Sheppard concentrated on thinking the door open, and within seconds, a large panel slid left into the wall revealing darkness inside. Sheppard shined the light on his P-90 into the room with little success; the beam of light absorbed by the pitch-black interior.
"Okay, we'll do this the old-fashioned way; I'll go inside. Ronon, Rodney with me; the rest of you, stay out here until I tell you it's clear."
Sheppard went first, and immediately the interior began to brighten. He found himself inside a corridor, extending across the width of the building. The walls were familiar, covered with the same dark square panels decorating corridors on Atlantis. He suspected the two doorways, located along one side of the corridor, were transporters.
He stuck his head out the exterior door, "Come on in." As the other filed in, Sheppard speculated to Rodney, "I'm thinkin' transporters."
"I'm thinkin' you are right." Rodney swiped his hand across the control panel, and the door slid open, revealing a chamber similar to the transporters on Atlantis. The only exception was the structure directory on the wall. "Look at this Sheppard, there are four levels below us that must extend at least a hundred yards to the north."
"Check the others, let's see if these transporters all go to the same place." He and Rodney checked the other three transports; they were identical. "Okay, we're going to split up since there isn't enough room for all of us in one transporter. Ronon, take Günden, Maline, and Prater with you; Teyla, you get Cox, Zelenka, and Chu. Rodney, Coolidge, you're with me. We're going here." He pointed to the next level down."
"Do you think it's safe for us to go down there?" The tremor in Coolidge's voice was unmistakable.
"We'll find out; get in." Coolidge entered the transporter, followed by Rodney, who tapped the directory. Within seconds, the door opened; as Sheppard stepped out, lights came on revealing a large room with two doors along the far wall. There were large metal tables set at regular intervals along the wall, covered with artifacts.
"What the hell is all of this?" Sheppard asked not caring who answered.
Cox and Prater rushed to the closest tables, their excitement evident, "All of this really looks like an archeological lab."
Rodney frowned, "Great, pottery and bones…for once, I would like to find a cache of ZedPM's."
"Discoveries are discoveries, Rodney. Who knows what we might find here?"
Dr. Cox picked up an artifact, which appeared to be a bowl. "Colonel, this may be an Ancient facility, but I'm fairly certain that these are not Ancient artifacts. We've uncovered a fair number of ancient facilities, but I have never seen this style of pottery, or the markings that decorate the exterior. I believe we have stumbled on an Ancient archeological site."
"Rodney, how stable is this building?"
Zelenka answered, "I have been checking the building; it appears quite stable."
"Okay, everyone seems to be able to use the transporters, gene or not. Since the building appears stable, let's do a quick run through to see what else is here. Ronon, take your group to the next level down, Teyla the next and Rodney, you, Coolidge and I will take the lowest level. Let's meet back on this level in thirty minutes."
The groups split off and headed for their destinations. Sheppard stepped into the transporter, Rodney after him, and a reluctant Coolidge followed. Rodney tapped the lower level icon, and the doors opened to a vista they were not expecting.
Sheppard stepped out first, "Rodney, what the hell is this?"
McKay was standing next to him, "I…I don't know." He and Sheppard took a couple of steps forward, lights brightening with each step.
The transporter had taken them to an underground cavern; around them was what appeared to be an excavated area, workbenches, and large bins lined the perimeter. A floor, not unlike the floor they had found in some storage rooms on Atlantis, had been laid across the expanse of the cavern. What garnered their attention, however, were the doors on the opposite end of the cavern.
"We need to get Cox and Prater down here; this is really beginning to look like some kind of dig."
"Maybe the people on this planet are like the Genii, hiding something?" Sheppard remarked.
Rodney groaned, "Oh, wouldn't that be lucky for us."
"Come on, let's go find out what's behind those doors."
"Colonel, just one moment; I think it would be much more prudent to have the rest of our party down here before we do anything stupid." Coolidge was standing on the threshold of the transporter.
Rodney spun around, "Define stupid."
"I define stupid as what you are planning to do; go off into someplace you don't know anything about."
Shaking his head, Rodney turned back and headed for the doors, "If this Neanderthal was in charge, we'd still be living in the stone age."
Sheppard said quietly, "This is what we do, Mr. Coolidge; now come along."
Rodney was already at the door, fiddling with the control panel. "It's looks like they have some kind of access code on this."
"Can you bypass it?"
"I think so, give me a minute."
Coolidge was clearly angry, "Colonel; I demand that we leave here right now."
Sheppard looked at him but didn't reply and before Coolidge could say anything else, Rodney got the doors open. Cautiously, they walked through the opening and were stunned by what lay before them. Lights began to come on, illuminating the area.
"Whoa…that's…that's…," Sheppard was at a loss for words.
Rodney finished the statement for him, "Spectacular?"
Before them were the ruins of an ancient civilization, numerous structures were visible, some appearing intact, some with broken walls or only foundations remaining. There were worn cobblestone style streets winding through the buildings.
Coolidge had moved to stand next to them, "What is this place?"
"No clue, but let's take a look around."
Sheppard and Rodney, started down the ramp leading from their location into the city, Coolidge following. "Rodney this doesn't look Ancient at all."
'I don't think it is, this could be a pretty major find. It is certainly one that the Ancients had an interest in."
They walked toward the nearest building; a two-story structure crafted of what appeared to be marble blocks. One of the walls had collapsed, and they picked their way through the rubble and moved toward a building that seemed to be intact.
Rodney was amazed, "It's like they had an entire city down here, but why? If the Ancients were excavating this, then they most likely weren't fighting the Wraith at the time."
"Probably pre-dates the Wraith, we know the Ancients were in Pegasus for thousands of years before the Wraith emerged. Come on, let's go get the others; I think you're right, Cox and Prater need to see this."
Sheppard looked around for Coolidge, "Where the hell did Coolidge go?" He yelled, "Coolidge."
"Sheppard, don't yell so loud, these building might not be too stable."
When Coolidge didn't reply, Sheppard became quite agitated, "Crap, shouldn't have brought that little weasel with us. Rodney, stay here, I'll find him. He's too chicken to have gotten too far; he's probably wandered down that path on the other side of those buildings. Be right back."
Sheppard disappeared around the corner, and Rodney waited for a few minutes, then became impatient. He turned the corner and spotted a hut that appeared built by the Ancients; a soft green glow was emanating from the open doorway. As he began to walk toward it, he heard Sheppard yell 'run' and Coolidge burst of the hut, Sheppard on his heels. Rodney heard a soft clicking that was becoming more rapid; then he realized what it had to be, an explosive device. He was about to turn to run when Coolidge slammed into him, and they both went tumbling. Rodney fell flat on his back, Coolidge rolling over him. The last thing Rodney saw was Sheppard running full-speed toward him, then a huge flash of green followed by a loud explosion, then darkness..
Teyla and her group, were exploring the fourth level. Near the transporter, they had found what appeared to be a dormitory, a large room with couches and a kitchen. Near the rear, they discovered numerous storage rooms full of artifacts, surrounding a large workroom.
Only one word could describe Dr. Cox, gleeful. He was bounding from one storeroom to another, chattering excitedly. Dr. Zelenka was nearly as excited as he had found some devices that had crystal components. Teyla and Macai Chu were watching the two scientists in amusement.
Chu asked, "Are they always so enthusiastic?"
Teyla smiled, "Yes; the scientists on Atlantis are quite committed to their work; they are an invaluable part of the Atlantis mission."
"You are also valuable to this mission, from what I have determined."
"I am very grateful to the Atlantis expedition for what they have done to free the people of the Pegasus galaxy from the Wraith. I am proud to serve with them."
Chu smiled, "I must say, you are the poster girl for Atlantis." Teyla gave her a perplexed look, but Chu continued, "What is your opinion of the value of scientists on regular missions."
"I believe that they should be allowed to serve. Dr. McKay has distinguished himself over the years. I admit he was inexperienced at first in the ways of combat, but he has learned much. He has also saved our lives on more than one occasion. His courage was never a question except to himself. Colonel Sheppard managed to steer Rodney to learn how courageous he truly is. You should know the colonel takes the responsibility of protecting all under his charge quite seriously. He will not allow anyone off world until he is convinced they can defend themselves."
"So you would like to see the regulation restricting scientist to science missions only lifted?"
"Yes, I would. We miss Dr. McKay very much. Now, it is close to the time that we should rejoin the colonel. Let us find our scientist and retur…" A loud noise interrupted and the walls shook; dust from the artifacts flew into the air.
"What was that?" Chu asked excitedly.
"It sounded like an explosion from below us; we must find Radek and Dr. Cox and get down there."
As Teyla and Chu rushed to find the scientists, a loud klaxon began to sound. Radek ran from a storage room toward them; Dr. Cox exited another room.
"Teylo, to byla exploze, uh..that was an explosion...it like it was below us where Rodney and Colonel Shepppard are."
"Radek, what's that sound?"
The Czech scientist was busy taking readings from the sensors built into his pad. "I cannot tell but it sounds much like the warnings that Atlantis issues...a more subdued signal than the autodistruct."
"You don't think an autodistruct has engaged."
"Ne, já ne...Nemyslím si...no, I don't think so. I think it is more warning alarm triggered by explosion. I tried to radio Rodney but cannot get through."
"I tried the colonel before the explosion and could not reach him."
"These walls are reinforced; there must be a way to communicate."
"Radek, we need to get to the transporters and down to the lower level; they may need our help."
Rodney's ears were ringing, and he couldn't breathe for the thick dust in the air. Coughing violently, he winced as pain radiated from the left side of the chest. He could only manage very shallow breaths through the pain, as he tried to recall what happened. A green glow floated into his memory, then the image of Sheppard running toward him, then an explosion. Sheppard? Where was Sheppard?
He attempted to sit up, but something was pressing against his chest; a heavy stone slab was lying against his torso. He tried to push it away but couldn't; Rodney pushed harder and the slab shifted, sliding off his chest. The pain was excruciating, but he was determined to find Sheppard.
The cavern lights were out in the area where the explosion occurred. At least, the dust was settling, and Rodney could just make out the outlines of the buildings. He could hear a faint wailing sound. He rolled onto his right side and pushed himself to his feet, grunted deeply. Grabbing a small flashlight from his vest, he shined the beam into the darkened area, calling out for Sheppard. Finally, he heard a groan and hurried toward the location of the sound. It was Coolidge.
The IOA liasion, after rolling across Rodney, had come to rest against part of crumbled foundation. Rodney struggled to kneel down next to him, "Coolidge, how bad are you hurt?" There was blood on Coolidge's face and neck.
"I don't know...arm and shoulder hurt."
"Can you breathe okay?"
"Then get up and help me find Sheppard." Rodney rose and put out his hand, his chest burning as he pulled the slender Coolidge to his feet.
Rodney tried the flashlight on his P-90; it worked. He handed the handheld flashlight to Coolidge, "Find Sheppard."
As he began to search, Rodney felt a warm sensation along his hip and leg. He ran his hand along his upper left thigh and discovered a long, shallow gash. His hand was covered in sticky blood, but he believed the cut had already stopped bleeding. He ignored it; no time to worry about himself. He had to find Sheppard.
They searched for several minutes, which felt like an eternity to McKay. Finally, he spotted a black leather boot poking out from underneath a pile of debris. "Found him, get over here with that light."
Rodney shined the light attached to his weapon onto the debris pile, and his heart sank; Sheppard was pinned beneath several pieces of debris.
Coolidge arrived and Rodney ordered, "Keep the light on that area." He pointed to where he thought Sheppard's head was.
Rodney dropped to his knees, the pain in his side blazing, but he gritted his teeth and began to pull the chunks of debris from around Sheppard's upper body. He removed several of the smaller pieces, but a large piece of marble-like material rested against Sheppard's right shoulder. He couldn't move it.
"Help me," he yelled at Coolidge, but the two men could not move the chunk of debris. Rodney grabbed the flashlight from Coolidge and shined it around the immediate area looking for something to use as a fulcrum. There was nothing.
Rodney turned to Coolidge, "Go find something that we can use to pry this stone off of him."
Coolidge started to protest, but Rodney stopped him, his tone demanding, "Now, Coolidge."
While Coolidge was searching, Rodney managed to step on the other side of Sheppard. Sheppard was lying on his stomach; his head turned toward Rodney. His hand trembling, Rodney touched the colonel's neck, checking for a pulse. At first, he felt nothing, but he dampened his panic and moved his fingers, willing them to stop shaking. His heart retreated from his throat when the slow steady beat of Sheppard's heart pressed against his fingertips.
He spoke softly, "John, can you hear me?" There was no reply. While he waited for Coolidge to return, he moved more debris from around Sheppard's body. He panicked again when he found a pool of blood beneath the colonel's left hip. He couldn't turn Sheppard over to check the injury, so he couldn't stop the bleeding.
"Coolidge, where are you, find something to get this rock off." He yelled as loudly as he dared.
"I'm coming." Coolidge's voice was faint, but he appeared quickly, carrying what looked like a shovel.
"This is all I could find."
"It should work," Rodney positioned the blade underneath the rock. "Get on the other side of him and be ready to pull him out if I can only lift this some, not move it. And be gentle if you move him, watch his head, we can't get to him to secure his neck properly."
Rodney waited until Coolidge was in place and then put all his weight against the shovel handle. The rock didn't dislodge immediately, but he kept the pressure on the handle, despite the searing pain in his side. Just when he thought he couldn't keep the pressure on any longer the rock dislodged, rolling away from Sheppard. The action startled Coolidge, who fell back on his ass. Rodney scrambled to get to Sheppard's side.
"Get to his head and when I turn him over, you keep his head steady, and I mean steady."
Coolidge nodded and took his position; gently, Rodney turned the colonel over, then checked his pulse again, "He's alive."
Rodney noted the swollen lump on Sheppard's forehead that was beginning to bruise. Then quickly checked for the source of Sheppaprd's bleeding, locating two injuries. A deep gash on Sheppard's right upper arm, and a gaping puncture wound on his right hip, both were bleeding badly.
Rodney reached into the compartments on Sheppard's TAC vest and grabbed two compress bandages and a small spray bottle. He used his K-Bar to cut the sleeve of Sheppard's BDU shirt, then wrapped one of the bandages over it. He then cut through the fabric on Sheppard's pants, and quickly sprayed a gel-like substance into the puncture wound.
He then placed a compression bandage over the hip wound and had Coolidge help him roll Sheppard's body to wrap the bandage ties around his body. He then wrapped a Mylar emergency blanket around Sheppard, propping Sheppard's feet on a small piece of debris to help prevent shock. When he was satisfied that the colonel's wounds were tended to, he pulled a bandage from his own TAC vest and bound his own wound.
He looked at Coolidge, "You hurt anywhere besides the cut on your head?
Coolidge touched the side of his head, "I think it's stopped bleeding. My shoulder hurts, and I'm stiff all over."
"Yeah, well, you're conscious; that's more than Sheppard." Rodney reached for his small canteen and took a drink.
"Can I have some water?"
"You've got your own canteen, or did you even check to see what equipment you had?" He frowned as Coolidge felt around on his own vest, searching for his canteen.
Coolidge took a drink, then asked, "How did you learn to do first aid? What was in that spray bottle?"
Rodney's frown deepened, "Really, do you think we go out into the field without knowing this stuff? I'll admit when I first got here I knew nothing about first aid or how to fire a gun, but that man," pointing to Sheppard, "decided we needed to know those things to stay alive. FYI, the spay has a coagulant in it to get into really bad wounds where gauze won't work and the compression bandages have quickclot on them."
As Coolidge took another drink, Rodney asked, "What the hell happened? What caused the explosion?"
Even in the dim light, Rodney could see the sheepish expression on Coolidge's face as he answered. "I saw a greenish glow coming through an open doorway, and I decided to see what it was. I don't know why I went in there, but I decided that I should look around. There were cases of these small round objects, I picked one up and twisted the band that was around it. Colonel Sheppard came in just as the object began to beep. He looked at me for a second, then grabbed the ball, told me to run. So I ran, then the explosion happened."
"You touched something? You are a moron. Those were probably blast charges, probably how they were excavating this cave. You could have gotten us all killed."
"How was I to know? " Coolidge's haughty manner reared once more.
"That's the point; you don't. Don't touch anything, unless I tell you."
"So, if you are so capable, how are we going to get out of here?
"You really are a moron, the same way we came in. Wait here, while I go get Ronon and the others to help get Sheppard out of here."
Rodney gingerly made his way up the ramp, the left side of his chest flaring with pain with each shallow breath he took. When he reached the doors to the chamber where the transporters were located, he waved his hand across the control panel, expecting the doors to open; nothing happened. He tried again, again nothing.
He returned to where he had been lying to see if he could locate his pad. Coolidge asked as he walked past, "What's wrong?"
"The doors won't open; we appear to be in some kind of lockdown."
"We can't get out?"
"No, not yet."
Coolidge replied, smugly, "So, not out the way we came...who's the moron now?"
The incessant noise from the klaxon was annoying Radek Zelenka as he attempted to open the transporter doors. The string of Czech coming from him was becoming more rapid and vehement with each passing minute. Finally, he turned to Teyla.
"I need to find orginal power source. I believe that whatever is interfering with the transporters must be happening at main power source. While we looked around we did not find a control room, but there must be . This complex is very large but we need to find it...if nothing else, to turn off that noise." Zelenka's accent and his hand waving increased as he spoke.
Teyla grabbed his hand, "If there is one here we will find it, doctor." She turned to the others, "We need to search this level to see if we can locate a power source or some type of terminal or console." Each person headed toward a different section of the level to search.
Rodney located his pad, which had suffered some damage. As he was attempting to load the diagnostic sensor program, Coolidge had chosen not to be quiet.
"Dr. McKay, I demand to know how you are going to get us out of here. I need medical attention." McKay ignored him, but Coolidge continued. "I asked you when we are going to get out of here."
Rodney was sitting on what appeared to be a foundation, just a foot or so from Sheppard. He looked at Coolidge. "You need to shut up and let me work."
"I asked you a question."
"And I am not answering."
"McKay when we get out of here, I will have you removed from the SGC. You will not talk to me that way."
"S-shut up...Coolidge." The raspy broken voice came from Sheppard.
Rodney slid off the stone he was sitting on, kneeling next to Sheppard, "John; you okay."
"Yeah, just got knocked out; you?"
"Oh, peachy...banged up my ribs. You've got a bad cut on your arm and a puncture wound on your hip."
"Yeah, that f-feels about right. What's that noise?"
"I think the explosion set off some kind of alarm and put us in lockdown. I can't get the doors to the transporter room open."
"Any word from Teyla or Ronon?" Sheppard struggled to sit up, waving Rodney off from helping.
"No, they're probably trapped like we are."
"If the two of you are finished with your little reunion, it's time you got us out of here."
Sheppard reached for his canteen, grimacing from the pain coursing through his body,. His head was throbbing and he was nauseous. "Coolidge, I told you to be quiet. Rodney will figure this out."
Coolidge, "You can't speak to me that way, Colonel Sheppard. Your behavior and that of Dr. McKay will be addressed when we return to Atlantis."
"Don't worry, Mr. Coolidge...I look forward...uh...to explaining how you set off an explosive device, which threatened...the lives of your fellow IOA members. Not to mention...seven members of the Atlantis expedition when you...were told not to...touch anything." Beads of sweat had broken out on Sheppard's forehead and he was dizzy. He decided to lay back down.
Rodney exclaimed, "Yes, okay, got the sensor program to load. I'll be back." He headed for the doors.
Zelenka heard Macai Chu calling his name, and he hurried toward her voice. He met Teyla and Cox in the hallway, and they found Chu in a tiny room off one of the storage units. A room full of consoles with one very important one, a power pedestal with a ZPM.
"Oh, to je fantastický... ZPM! The consoles look familiar, let me see if I can figure out how to release the transporter," he turned to the other, "and turn off that noise."
"Sheppard, we've got a problem; the doors seem to be on a closed power loop. I don't think they are tied into the power supply in the Ancient facility." Rodney had been reading the data on his pad, when Sheppard didn't answer he looked up, "Sheppard?"
"I think he passed out," Coolidge remarked.
"Damn it, why didn't you tell me? Sheppard, can you hear me?" He once again checked for a pulse, holding his breath until he found one. Tersely he told Coolidge, "You keep an eye on him."
"How are you going to get us out of here?"
"I'm working on it, let me think."
"Doctor, you said it was a separate power source; if the power is interrupted why are there still lights?"
Rodney looked thoughtful, though his face revealed the pain, he was suffering from his damaged ribs. "A good question, why would they put the door only on a separate power source." He paused, "Probably as a safety measure, close it down so that they had time to get out…but that klaxon we can hear is telling them there was a serious problem. The entire complex must have gone into lockdown, or Zelenka would be working on a way to get us out of here. There is no indication of intermittent power, so no one's working on it." Rodney's musing was more for himself than Coolidge.
Coolidge asked, "Can you fix it?"
"I don't know…there only a connector box on this side; the main power controls must be in the other chamber." Rodney became silent as he pondered what to do, after a few minutes; he smiled, snapping his fingers. "If those…I'll be right back." Rodney disappeared into the darkness toward the ruins, the small flashlight beam tracing his path.
He was gone for a few minutes and when he returned, he was carrying several of the explosive devices and a metal box about the size of a small microwave. He noticed that Coolidge looked panicked at the sight of the devices.
Rodney held one of the orbs up, the faint green glow illuminating his face. "What did you do to this when you set it off?"
"I didn't do…"
"Don't tell me you didn't do anything…what did you do?"
"I picked it up and held it by that metal band, and the band moved, so I turned it. The thing got brighter and started humming; that's when the colonel entered the building."
"Yeah, and realized that you had activated it. When you picked it up, which way did you turn it? "Show me," and he handed the orb to Coolidge, "just don't actually turn it."
Coolidge demonstrated and McKay smiled, "If I'm right, I think I might be able to open those doors." He headed for back to the hut where they found the orbs and returned with several more, and took the orbs and box to the doors.
Fifteen minutes passed before he came back, "I'm ready to try this, but I need to get Sheppard close enough to get him through if the doors won't stay open." He knelt next to the colonel. "John, can you hear me? John."
"Huh…Rod…Rodney," Sheppard's voice was weak.
"Can you stand; I need to get you to the door before I try to open it." His question elicited a brief nod from Sheppard, "Come on, Coolidge, help me get him up."
When they got Sheppard to his feet, he was unsteady and pale. As they started to direct him toward the ramp, he muttered, "Sick," and he began to throw up.
When Sheppard stopped vomiting, McKay cajoled him, "Sheppard, come on, we need to get you to Atlantis."
The smaller Coolidge and the injured McKay managed to get Sheppard up the ramp and lying directly in front of the door, where he promptly passed out again. McKay then began to make final adjustments to the box, which was now wired into the small connector box on the wall.
"What are you going to do?"
McKay sighed, "These orbs are energy receptors, when you turned the metal band, it excited the energy inside, built up the power, and caused the orb to overload and explode. I believe they can control the strength level of blast that way. But the energy had to get inside somehow. See these two small holes," he pointed to the tiny holes, stacked on top of each other, on the band. "These fit this; he picked up a lead that was coming from the box, and the box is a power generator and can store energy. It's how the orbs are filled. So, I'm going to drain the energy from the orbs back into the box, and hopefully, use that energy to open the door."
"You're going to blow us up."
"Ha, I don't blow up single planets; I only blow up solar systems. Now, let me work."
Another few minutes passed and Rodney announced, "I'm doing this on a count of three; you get Sheppard through that opening. I'll be right behind you."
Coolidge nervously nodded, and Rodney made the final connection and monitored the level as the power began to flow into the door system. When the power approached a high enough level, he thought would open the door, Rodney swiped his hand across the door control panel and the doors open revealing Zelenka and Cox, who were examining the main control panel. Ronon quickly got Sheppard through the door.
Teyla immediately checked on Sheppard, then turned to Rodney and Coolidge, "Are the two of you alright?"
"No," Rodney answered, "My side is really hurting. Sheppard has a head injury, plus a couple of really bad cuts."
"Atlantis will be here shortly, Rodney. Once Radek was able to bypass the lockdown, Dr. Prater and Mr. Günden headed for the gate for help. We didn't know what had happened to you. Let's get to the surface and wait for the jumpers, and you can fill us in."
"Mr. Woolsey, we were told we could find you here." Coolidge and the other IOA members entered the infirmary.
"Mr. Coolidge, what can I do for you."
"We will be returning to Earth shortly and wanted to tell you that we will be making a recommendation to increase the funding for the exploration of the find on PX9-7723. In just these few days, we are overwhelmed with the data we have been seeing. Both Stargate Command and the IOA agree that this could be a very important find to help uncover the history of life in Pegasus as well as the universe."
Erik Günden spoke, "Mr. Woolsey is Colonel Sheppard able to received visitors? We would like to tell you and the colonel something personally, Dr. McKay as well, if he is available."
"Yes, Colonel Sheppard is doing much better. The concussion was severe, but he is recovering nicely and is recuperating from surgery on his hip injury. Dr. McKay has been released from the infirmary, but I believe the entire team is with the colonel at the moment. Come with me."
They entered a room near the rear of the infirmary where Sheppard's bed had been moved to allow him some privacy. Sheppard was having lunch, his team with him. "Richard, I see you've brought guests."
Macai Chu bowed slightly, "Colonel it is good to see you feeling better; you were quite pale the last time we saw you."
"Thanks, feeling much better. So what brings the visit?"
Coolidge appeared reluctant to speak, but Marline pushed him gently on the shoulder. "We have discussed the rule against scientists serving on military teams, and having seen how well the two departments work together, as well as the training that Colonel Sheppard has implemented. We are going to recommend the reversal of that ruling"
He turned to Rodney, "Doctor McKay, please consider yourself reinstated to SGA-1." He paused, "I want to apologize for my behavior in the cavern. I…I was…quite honestly terrified, and I behaved badly." Looking back at Sheppard, he said, "I did something reckless, which led to the explosion, and I am sorry."
Sheppard gave the IOA liaison a slight smile, "First missions are always the hardest, Mr. Coolidge. And thanks for getting rid of that rule; scientists do play a pivotal role on the success of this expedition.
"You're welcome, colonel; now we are going to take our leave and return to Earth."
Woolsey smiled, "I'll walk you to the gate room." The IOA representative and Woolsey headed for the gate, leaving SGA-1 alone.
McKay was the only one to comment, "I don't care how nice he's being right now. Coolidge is still a weasel." No one disagreed.
Rodney, Teyla, and Ronon were standing in front of the active stargate, waiting for the fourth member of their team to arrive. A couple of minutes passed, before Colonel John Sheppard hopped up the stairs from the corridor leading to the gear-up room.
"About time you showed up, we've been ready to go for ages."
"Exactly who put you in command?
"Well, somebody had to be while you took your little vacation."
"I wasn't on vacation, I was recuperating, Rodney."
"Yeah, recuperating on the mainland beach. Really, your doctor ordered a fishing trip as part of your therapy?"
"Beckett thought it would be very beneficial."
Rodney snarked, "Yeah...beneficial...that's a good one."
Teyla sighed, "Colonel, Dr. McKay; the town council on Benoya is waiting for us. Shall we go?"
Sheppard gave Rodney a smirk, "After you."
Rodney replied snarkily, "No, after you."
Teyla and Ronon exchanged a glance, then pushed the two bickering friends through the gate and followed behind. As the event horizon dissipated, Richard Woolsey, who had been watching SGA-1's departure from the control room balcony, smiled.
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