Chapter 12: Friends Indeed
From the moment Commander Koyla had contacted Atlantis and informed her that Major Sheppard and his team were being held hostage, Elizabeth had refused to leave the control room for even a second. Immediately after Koyla cut the transmission, Weir had conferred with Sergeant Bates in regards to assembling a team to mount a rescue mission. Their previous experience with the Genii Commander left her little doubt that he would kill her people whether or not she met his demands. A man such as Koyla would want revenge at any cost, and she was determined not to let him have it. Not at the expense of her best team and also her friends. Nor would she relinquish critical supplies and technology to a man who had demonstrated not only he could not be trusted, but also so desired to gain control of the Ancient city. If there was something Elizabeth Weir had learned from Major Sheppard over these past months, it was that some situations called for action, not diplomacy. This definitely counted as one of those times.
Based on the strategic recommendations of Sergeants Bates and Stackhouse, they devised a plan to get a military force through the gate during the supposed delivery of the ransom. Concealed in a fourth, cloaked puddlejumper, the strike force from Atlantis was under orders to seize the area around the Gate from Koyla's men and then mount a search and rescue of Major Sheppard's team. Bates and his team had only left through the stargate a short time ago under the pretense of delivering the three puddlejumpers to Koyla. During the tense moments following their departure, Elizabeth took her customary post in the control room, waiting anxiously for their return.
"We have off world activation." Grodin announced, looking briefly at his computer screen before continuing. "I have Dr. McKay's IDC now coming through."
"Lower the shield, Peter." Elizabeth Weir resumed her nervous pacing as she watched the activity in the gate room around her.
The portal opened with a brilliant flash of blue as the wayward team finally returned home. Teyla came through first followed closely by Ford and McKay who supported Sheppard between them. Seeing the major was barely able to stand without help from his teammates, Elizabeth rushed down the stairs to where they awaited the arrival of the medical team. As she got closer, she saw the full extent of the injuries he suffered at the hands of the Genii. It took everything she had to maintain her composure as she noticed his battered face and the still wet bloodstain slowly seeping through the emergency field dressing and spreading down the front of his shirt.
"John!" She called out as she got to his side.
"Elizabeth, you really didn't have to wait up for me." Sheppard drawled as he tried to flash her a cocky grin, but only managed a weary and pained grimace.
"Someone has to try to keep you out of trouble, Major." Knowing Sheppard would downplay the true seriousness of his injuries, she peered up at McKay as she asked. "How bad is it?" The astrophysicist simply returned her glance with a worried look of his own as he continued to hold the major upright while he swayed unsteadily.
"I'm fine. It looks worse than what it is. I'll be up and about in no time at..." Sheppard's voice trailed off as his vision darkened, his legs suddenly buckled, and he collapsed as exhaustion finally overtook him. Catching the unconscious major as he fell, his colleagues eased him onto the gurney that had appeared in the nick of time.
Carson shook his head at his most troublesome and frequent patient. "I don't think so, Major. Oh bloody hell, what have you done to yourself this time, son?" The doctor briefly examined his wounds before dispatching him off to the infirmary with his medical team.
As the major was rushed out of the gate room, Beckett quickly assessed the remaining members of the team. "The rest of you best be coming with me. You all look like you've had a rough time of it, and I'll be wanting to check you over thoroughly." He herded the group in the direction of the infirmary before they could protest too much.
Elizabeth looked at Beckett as he turned to leave, her questioning eyes full of concern. "Carson?"
"Aye lass, I'll let you know." The doctor replied as he hurried off to tend his patients.
The arrival of the puddlejumpers carrying Bates and his team through the gate forestalled her from immediately rushing after her colleagues. Trusting Carson to keep her informed of their status, she went to the jumper bay to meet the Sergeant and get briefed on the events that had transpired on the planet before she would be able to check on her friends down in the infirmary.
It was the voices that eventually roused him from the deep recesses of sleep two days later. Reluctant at first to reenter the waking world, he lay with his eyes still closed as he listened to the conversation taking place next to him.
"Isn't it about time he woke up? I know you said he was just sleeping, but what if one of your scanners missed something and he's actually in a coma? It has been two whole days since we left Logara. How normal is it for someone to sleep for two days straight?" The speaker asked in a rapid-fire, breathless rush.
"Rodney, have some patience, laddie. The major has been through a serious trauma. It is perfectly natural for the body to take a wee bit of time to heal. I told you I would let you know straight away when he wakes." The doctor replied with some exasperation, making his Scottish brogue even more pronounced.
"Well, so you say. But I still am convinced you need to re-calibrate your equipment. Wait, I think I saw his mouth twitch. Right there! Ha, I saw a definite smirk." McKay called out as he leaned over the man in the bed and peered intently at his face looking for signs of returning consciousness.
"Can't a guy get some peace and quiet around here? I am trying to recuperate you know." McKay jumped back startled at the sudden reply from the previously non-responsive major who had finally opened his eyes and was squinting back at the scientist.
"See, what did I tell you? I was right as usual. He's awake, Carson." McKay said somewhat smugly.
"Aye, that he is. How are you feeling, Major?" Beckett was immediately at his patient's side, checking his vital signs and fussing with the monitors surrounding his bed.
"Like I went several rounds in a boxing ring and lost the match." Sheppard started to shift into a more comfortable position, but gave up the attempt when his healing ribs and stab wound protested against the sudden movement.
"Aye, that's to be expected. I'll have the nurse give you a little something straight away to ease the discomfort. Rodney, try not to tire the poor major out while I'm gone." Beckett gave McKay a warning look as he finished adjusting the drip on Sheppard's IV and went off to give instructions to the nurse on duty.
"McKay, fill me in on what happened with the rest of the Genii down on Logara." Sheppard inquired of the scientist after the doctor left the room.
"The Genii? Oh yes, while you were off on your seek-and-destroy-Koyla mission, we ran into Sergeant Bates and his marines. It seems the men Golathe dispatched from the bunker succeeded in rendering the Genii sentries guarding the stargate senseless right before our calvary arrived in their trusty puddlejumpers. Since Bates had already secured the gate area, we rushed back to get you, though not in time to prevent Koyla from turning you into a human pincushion. In the meantime, Golathe had Cowen locked up. I believe the magistrate said he put our Genii friend in the very cell you had occupied. Poetic justice on his part, don't you think?" McKay had folded his arms and was rocking back on his heels as he recalled the sequence of events that occurred on the planet.
"Hmm, I didn't think he had it in him. I may start to like that guy after all. Cowen must not be too happy with the way things turned out." Sheppard mused while wondering if they still hadn't heard the last from the Genii.
"Oh, Golathe kept him under house arrest for a day while he contacted the Genii homeworld to discuss certain terms for his release. I hear Cowen was sent home with his tail between his legs so to speak. I think he has finally learned it is not in his best interests to butt heads with anyone from Atlantis. Nor will he be threatening the Logarans with further extortion anytime soon." McKay assured him.
"What about the trading alliance with Logara?" Sheppard continued.
"Well, I see I've arrived at an opportune time. I'm glad to see you awake, Major. Are you up for some more visitors?" Overhearing the last part of their conversation as she arrived in the infirmary, Elizabeth Weir interrupted their discussion as she walked in with Golathe and Kenra following behind her.
"Uh, sure. Good to see you both again." The major responded, surprised to see the two Logarans here on Atlantis.
"My daughter and I are pleased to see you are on road to recovery, Major Sheppard." Golathe replied warmly.
Elizabeth tucked a pillow behind Sheppard, helping him sit up in a more comfortable position as his latest visitors stood next to the bed. Seeing the major's slightly puzzled look, she picked up where Rodney left off on his brief synopsis of the last two days.
"While you were keeping Dr. Beckett busy, Magistrate Golathe and I negotiated an alliance that will benefit both Logara and Atlantis."
"Really? That's good to hear. Seems people were busy while I was sleeping off the effects of Carson's magic potions. So are you going to tell me the details of this agreement or do I just have to sit here watching you and McKay grin like Cheshire cats?" Sheppard prompted.
"Magistrate Golathe graciously offered to supply us with a percentage of their crops and fresh meat from their livestock for the next two years." Elizabeth explained.
"Along with a supply of their renowned Logaran ale to help wash it down. I even managed to get some recipes of their fine cuisine from Kenra. The Logarans have interesting ways of preparing the indigenous poultry." McKay added, looking very pleased with himself.
"Also, your esteemed and learned scientists will collaborate with our best scholars and technicians in improving our defenses against the Wraith. In turn, we will assist you to make even more friends among the worlds Logara counts as its trading partners. Together, we hope all our peoples may find a way to defeat our common enemy, so that we all may live in peace." Golathe concluded.
"That sounds like a good plan to me. Perhaps we can offer a toast to the success of our newfound friendship with some of that famous ale." Sheppard suggested to the Logaran magistrate. "That is, when Dr. Beckett finally lets me out of here."
"Major, that is a promise I intend to keep." Golathe declared as he shook Sheppard's hand to seal the deal.