Neither Stargate Atlantis nor its characters belong to us. They belong to MGM. Captain Austin Adair, however, does belong to Emergencyfan (and Nebbyjen is his very protective aunt :-)
Set fairly early in season II.


SABOTEUR

"This is the Daedalus, we're ready for departure." The voice of Colonel Caldwell emanated over the Atlantis control room intercom.

"We read you, Daedalus. Safe journey," replied Weir from behind the console where she was standing. The words were warm enough but anyone who knew her well would not have mistaken the expression on her face for regret that the ship was about to depart. It was no secret that she was happy to have the Daedalus's commander out of her hair for next several weeks. She glanced over at Sheppard. Though his expression was unreadable, she suspected he was as equally thrilled the overbearing colonel was leaving.

"Thank you. Daeda…"

She frowned as the interrupted transmission was followed by a hiss of static. "Rodney?"

McKay had been at another station running some diagnostics but he left it to join her at the communications console. Flipping a few switches, he paged the orbiting ship. "Daedalus, this is Atlantis, do you read?" Silence filled the airspace. "Daedalus, this is Atlantis, come in?" He frowned and switched to yet another console, checking several readings, his face growing more and more serious. "This isn't good."

"What?" asked Sheppard, stepping over to look at the readings. His face soon mirrored the scientist's concerned expression. "Do those say what I think they do?"

Rodney looked to the colonel, then to Weir. "According to this," he said, waving distractedly at the readouts, "it appears that there have been several massive disruptions on board."

"Massive disruptions?" Weir asked, clearly requesting clarification.

"Explosions," Sheppard grimly replied.

"Not necessarily," snapped Rodney in irritation as he reconfigured the console for a more detailed scan of the ship. "You're jumping to conclusions based on limited information." Switching out several components on the control panel, he began downloading additional information to his laptop.

Sheppard stabbed a finger at the display. "What else could cause those readings!"

Worry and irritation had made Weir impatient as she waited for Rodney's answer. "Well?" she finally asked, uncrossing her arms and waving a hand in the direction of the control panel.

After quickly scanning the new information, Rodney looked up to meet her eyes. There was a grim expression on his face. "He's right."

"How bad?"

There was a rapid punching of keys as the scientist accessed the needed data. "They're venting atmosphere…wait…it's stopped. They must have managed to seal the bulkheads around the damaged areas." He ran his fingertip along the laptop's screen, reading the lines as fast as they appeared. "The ship is relatively intact and there are lifesigns throughout."

After taking a quick breath to compose her thoughts, Weir settled down to take action. "Colonel, I would like you to organize teams for the puddlejumpers…"

"We shouldn't interfere."

"What?" Weir asked, shocked. She knew Sheppard and Caldwell rubbed each other the wrong way but she never expected something like this.

"The Daedalus has emergency protocols in place for situations like this. Sending in a bunch of extra people who haven't been trained in their procedures will only cause confusion," Sheppard quickly explained.

"We participated in drills when we were aboard ship..."

"Yes, which if you remember, consisted mostly of us staying out the way. They'll let us know if they need anything," he said with forced assurance.

Elizabeth wasn't convinced. "With their communications systems down?"

Rodney was still keeping a close eye on the readings. "They are definitely making progress on their own and they can contact us through auxiliary control if they need to. That area of the ship doesn't appear to have sustained any damage and our transmission is getting through. They're just not responding at the moment."

Weir bit her lip to stop herself from commenting further.

Sheppard shot her a sympathetic glance. "I want to help too, but the Daedalus crew is the best around, and they have been trained for every contingency imaginable. Trust them to do their jobs. They'll ask for help if they need it."

She gave him a brief nod and occupied herself by calling Beckett and briefing him on the situation so he could be prepared if needed.

Fifteen long minutes passed, and though Sheppard had proclaimed complete confidence in the Daedalus crew, he was equally worried. A burst of static startled them all. Rodney quickly lowered the volume and made some adjustments which cleared most of the interference from the transmission.

"Atlantis, this is Captain Adair on the Daedalus, do you read?" came a remarkably calm Texas drawl over the communication system.

"Daedalus, we read you. This is Colonel Sheppard, Captain. Our sensors indicate you've had at least one explosion and several system failures. What is your situation?"

"Damage control reports all fires are out and emergency bulkheads have been sealed. Quite a few injured, but no deaths reported yet. We're operating on emergency power and life support is off-line at the moment. We have enough oxygen to sustain us for the time being, but between what got vented into space and what the fires consumed…"

Sheppard was happy to hear the captain's calm, concise report. Obviously Adair was a capable officer and well-trained to handle the current emergency despite his seemingly casual façade.

There was a pause and they could hear the captain speaking with someone in the background. "Well that's about as damn useful as a twenty-two shell in a twelve gauge shotgun. No, no. Just do the best you can." Adair voice came back full-force over the radio. "Sir, life support is totally shot to hell. It's doubtful we can repair it with the equipment we have on board, and definitely not before we run out of oxygen."

"Are you requesting permission to land?" Sheppard shot a glance at Weir, receiving her nod of approval and agreement.

"Damn nice of you to invite us, Colonel, but we've got to get the thrusters up and runnin' first."

"Where's Colonel Caldwell?" asked Weir.

"We haven't been able to contact the bridge and there's a damaged section of hull between us and them." A touch of worry crept through Adair's otherwise calm demeanor. "The damage may extend all the way to the bridge. Sensors are down in that area."

"Our readings say the bridge is still structurally intact with limited atmosphere," volunteered Rodney.

The information was apparently well received from the happy exclamations that could be heard in the background. While Caldwell might have a less than stellar relationship with the Atlantis personnel, he was obviously held in high regard by his crew.

Relief colored the captain's reply, "Good to know, Atlantis."

"How can we help you?" Sheppard asked.

"Hermiod is asking if Dr. McKay would be willing to beam aboard and assist our folks with the thruster repairs. The transporter technology is apparently undamaged."

"Apparently?" McKay squeaked.

Sheppard and Weir both gave him a glare and received a resigned sigh in reply. Rodney held up five fingers before disappearing down the back steps.

"Dr. McKay can be ready to beam aboard in five minutes. Is there anything else we can do for you?" Sheppard asked.

"Our medic wants to consult with yours. Everything else is under control for the moment."

"We're patching you through to the infirmary on a direct channel," said Sheppard, seeing that the technician who had taken over McKay's console had already started making the necessary connections. "Call us if you need us."

"Roger that, Atlantis. Daedalus out."

oOo

Adair stood, arms crossed, watching the empty space in the middle of the auxiliary control room. His weather beaten features had a skeptical look as he glanced at the Asgard. "You sure this is safe?"

"There should be sufficient power to beam one person aboard with minimal risk."

Pursing his lips, Adair nodded his permission. "All right then, let's give it whirl." He watched as the empty space was suddenly filled with a stumbling and irate Dr. Rodney McKay. Leaning down, he flipped a switch on the console. "Dr. McKay is safely aboard, Atlantis."

"Roger that."

As McKay opened his mouth to complain about the rough arrival, there was a shower of sparks from Hermiod's control panel.

"What was that?" asked Rodney, cringing from the few sparks which had arced in his direction.

"The transporter circuits have overloaded," said Hermiod, unruffled. He made a few adjustments to his panel.

"Over--OVERLOADED?" Rodney stared at the Asgard in disbelief. "I might have been killed or disintegrated or …"

"But you were not," Hermiod said, temporarily cutting through the doctor's tirade.

How the Asgard's calm, uninflected voice could convey both humor and sarcasm was beyond Adair.

"I'm so glad you feel you can risk my life whenever it suits you," McKay said sarcastically, glaring at the Asgard. "Of course, all you have to do is download your consciousness…"

"Doctor…" began Adair.

"…into another body, so you hardly understand the risk I just took. I was lucky I didn't wind up in the wall the last time you transported me. It's bad enough..."

"Doctor…" Adair repeated, trying to get a word in edgewise.

"you ignore security protocols…"

"Doctor, " the captain tried again, a little louder.

"..without any regard as to…"

"DOCTOR McKAY!"

"WHAT?" he snapped, turning on Adair. "There's no need to raise your voice, you know. I understand you're under a lot of stress at the moment but yelling at me is not going to help."

The captain ground his teeth. "The thrusters?"

"Oh, right!" Rodney walked over to the appropriate console and started pulling it apart without hesitation, squinting unhappily at the dim emergency lighting.

Adair watched, a little concerned at the multitude of wires and parts that McKay began yanking out, with seemingly no regard as to their function. "Do you think…?"

"More than most people," interrupted McKay. He studied a blackened part before chucking it over his shoulder and waving a circuit board at the captain. "Do you mind? You're in my light."

Adair stepped back, but from the look the scientist shot him, it wasn't nearly far enough.

"Don't you have some captainy things to do? People you need to go yell at?" suggested McKay as he pulled a flashlight from his vest pocket and peered into the panel.

"I could..."

"Good, go," said McKay waving his hand in dismissal without so much as a backward glance.

oOo

Rodney and Lt. Anderson were elbow deep in the guts of the thruster control panel.

"So, you asked for me, personally?" Rodney smirked, though his attention never wavered from the control systems he was working on.

"Yes," replied Hermiod from his station, in a less than thrilled tone.

"Don't let it go to your head, Doctor McKay," said Anderson as she replaced a damaged control chip. "He said you were the 'most qualified among the humans available'."

"Doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, does it?" came Sheppard's voice over Rodney's earpiece.

"Is there something you wanted, Colonel?" snapped McKay.

"Just checking to see if you needed anything."

"Yes, I need to fix the thrusters so we can land before I die of suffocation." Sheppard didn't reply but Rodney knew he was keeping the channel open. Oddly enough, he found it more reassuring than annoying. One last connection with an accompanying small shower of sparks completed the repairs. "Try it now," he said to Hermiod.

The Asgard made several adjustments to the console and the ship shuddered slightly as the thruster engines came back on line. "They appear to be functioning within acceptable parameters--barely."

"Good," said Rodney, ignoring Hermiod's lukewarm response before snapping shut the panel in front of him. He turned to see that the captain had reentered the room at some point during the repair process. "We're ready."

"Ya sure?" Adair asked, taking in Hermiod's lack of enthusiasm and casting a jaundiced eye at the jury-rigged console.

"The repairs are primitive." Rodney looked towards Hermiod as if daring him to comment. "But they should last until we get back to Atlantis," he said.

"Should," said Adair, raising an eyebrow.

"We don't really have much choice now, do we?" snapped Rodney. "I'll have to adjust the stabilizers manually once we hit the atmosphere. It's going to be a turbulent reentry at best."

"We may land in one piece but we're going to shake a few teeth loose in the process?" translated the captain, wryly. He could hear Sheppard chuckling in response as he clicked over to the Atlantis control room frequency. "Atlantis, this is the Daedalus, we are now requesting permission to land."

"Daedalus, you have clearance to land on the east pier. Safe trip."

"From your lips to God's ears," he murmured. "Roger that, Atlantis."

"We'll have medical personnel and a damage control team waiting to assist you if needed."

"Thank you, Atlantis. That's mighty neighborly of you," he replied, smiling. "Daedalus out." He flipped on the ship-wide intercom. "All hands, we're in for a bumpy ride, so secure any loose articles and grab yourself a seat if you don't want to get tossed." He nodded to the auxiliary pilot to start their decent then patted the rigged console affectionately. "Let's land this hay burner."

Rodney took up a position beside Hermiod, his eyes glued to the panel showing the fluctuating levels of the aft stabilizers. As the large ship began its slow descent through the atmosphere, what had been a noticeable vibration became the forewarned rumbling, causing several individuals in the room to lose their balance or to grasp about madly for the closest object bolted down. The Atlantis astrophysicist had a white-knuckle grip, his fingers locked securely to the Asgard's terminal.

Adair staggered over to their position and reached out to snag the small grey alien before he toppled sideways. "Fellas, what do you need me to do?"

Suddenly the Daedalus bucked hard to the right sending all standing crew members to the floor.

"Starboard stabilizer is off line!" McKay shouted above the increasing rumble. Scrambling on his hands and knees, he made his way back to the console and pulled himself to his feet. Fingers flying over the keypad, he deftly ignored the others struggling about him. "Compensating with thrusters and decrease of port stabilizer."

The ship groaned in protest before it slowly began to right its position.

Back on his feet with the help of the captain, Hermiod tracked the altitude and speed. "We are descending too quickly. External hull temperature is rising towards critical. Shield failure is imminent in thirty seconds."

"McKay…" Adair urged, hoping the scientist was as good as he told everyone he was.

"Be quiet and let me think!" Rodney eyes darted back and forth between the readings on various consoles.

"We don't have time for you to think!"

Rodney ignored the comment as he staggered towards the console on the back wall. With a one-handed grip on the panel, the free fingers of his other hand raced over the controls.

"Ten seconds to shield failure," Hermiod calmly announced.