Disjice Compositam Pacem, Sere Crimina Belli
There was silence at the other end after Elizabeth had explained their predicament to Dr. Kavanaugh.
"Are you still there, doctor?"
"Uhm, yes. I'll be right back. I'll confer with Dr. Zelenka. He's the engineer. But he should really have alerted me to such a serious system failure."
"It might just be a glitch." Elizabeth didn't think so, but she wasn't interested in hearing Kavanaugh berate his co-worker. It was public knowledge that there was no love lost between him and Radek.
"That's highly unlikely..." The chemist started, but broke off. "I will be right back."
Elizabeth sat down on the only chair on the room, suddenly feeling exactly how many hours she had gone without sleep. The night seemed to have made way to day without her noticing at all, but the pale grey sky above the always quiet ocean outside announced another day.
"Why would Mars be taking Lorcet?" Elizabeth had been thinking about that since she had found the bottles.
Carson shrugged. "I don't know. If he was a habitual user, someone would have known. Everyone who goes off-world has to undergo regular blood tests and the Ancient scanners pick up substances no test on Earth would reveal."
"That's reassuring at least in one way." Elizabeth agreed. "Still, I'm going to get to the bottom of this as soon as we get out of here. Lately, too many things have been going on that I didn't know about." Elizabeth glanced at Carson.
He glanced back at her. "So, what do you think?"
"Hell, I don't know what I'm supposed to think. We sure have our share of enemies here, the wraith, the Genii and just about every planet Sheppard ever visited. But it looks like we brought the bad guys along with us this time."
"We never needed aliens to help us kill each other." Carson remarked sadly and sat down on the edge of Mars' bed.
Radek Zelenka wanted to sleep, but somebody wouldn't let him. With annoying persistence, they kept trying to nudge him awake and no matter in what direction he turned, they wouldn't leave him alone.
"Wake up! Come on!" The voice sounded impatient, but also concerned, almost panicked. Rodney? The world was always ending in Rodney's mind. Radek opened his eyes and stared a blurry face.
"Oh, crap!" The face muttered now utterly panicked.
"Dr. Taylor?" Radek recognized the voice of the young Canadian. He never could tell all the English accents apart. "Where are we?" Radek glanced around, taking in the surrounding as well as possibly without his glasses. They were in a confined, dark space. Beyond the storm light a few feet next to Taylor, Radek couldn't make out anything in the darkness.
"Here. You'll need those." Taylor handed Radek his glasses.
"Where are we? What happened?" Radek now saw that they were inside a Jumper. The lack of engine vibrations told him that they were still on the ground. There was no one in the front section of the craft.
"Do you know how to open the roof of the Jumper Bay?"
"Theoretically, yes. Why?" Realization started to dawn, but not before Taylor drew a weapon. Radek stared at the ornamental, snake like weapon.
"You are not going to use this?" The truth was Radek had no idea what 'this' did and he didn't want to find out.
Taylor flinched as if the thought of actually firing his weapon hadn't occurred to him. "It won't kill you. Not on the first shot anyways."
"I assume this is how I got here." Radek was stalling for time but Taylor didn't bite.
"The roof of the bay, you have to get it up." Taylor demanded again.
"That's not going to happen and I'm not trying to be trouble. We have no power in bay." Radek half-expected Taylor to shoot him with the energy weapon, but Taylor was wrestling hard with himself.
"You have to do it, Dr. Zelenka. There is no other choice." Taylor's grip on the gun was wavering. Radek eyed him carefully, trying to stay out of direct shooting path.
"There is always another choice, Dr. Taylor." Radek didn't think that Taylor alone was behind this. If he could get him to talk, to trust him, Radek didn't think that Taylor had any intentions of harming him. But his plan backfired.
"You don't know anything! You get by agreeing to everything McKay says. You let him rant on and on and you just nod. Doesn't it bother you that he is the most self-absorbed person in this galaxy?"
Radek wasn't sure if he should take the bait. It could buy him time, but it could also provoke Taylor quicker than anything. The choice was made for him when the rear hatch of the Jumper started to open. Both Radek and Taylor turned towards the man who entered.
"What are you still doing here? I told you to wake him and get started immediately. Phase two is complete, I just watched it myself." The man, a lieutenant by the insignia on his uniform informed Taylor.
He grabbed Radek by the elbow and pushed him toward the front of the Jumper. "Get to work. You have fifteen minutes."
"I...I don't have the gene." Radek protested, stunned and scared.
"Didn't Taylor tell you? He stole McKay's little program." The man thrust a laptop at him. "In reality, McKay just copied what Ford did when he stole the Jumper - setting up a remote control."
"Even if this works, there is no way I can fly Jumper..." This was insane. They were going to crash, or bump into a planet, this was never going to work. Radek didn't believe how short-sighted his captors were.
"Don't worry about it, Doc. We will be out of here within the hour, I can assure you." The lieutenant slapped him hard on the shoulder.
Radek swallowed. He had no idea if what the men were asking was even possible.
"Is the panel lighting up on your side at all?" Dr. Kavanaugh's slightly nasal voice came over the radio. Elizabeth and Carson had been standing in front door, inside the quarters of the late Leon Mars for five minutes.
"It's still dead." Elizabeth replied, her patience wearing thin. Earth's best and brightest were out-smarted by ten-thousand-year-old door?
"I told you, it's not responding to me." Carson sounded unusually annoyed as well.
Elizabeth sighed and sat back down. Slowly, the footsteps disappeared from the corridor.
A few minutes later, noise returned to the corridor and a new voice was on the radio.
"Dr. Weir. This is Dr. Kusanagi. We want you to check something. Can you take off the cover panel?"
"You mean, pry it off?"
"We can try." Elizabeth didn't think the Ancient had built their City for easy disassembly. It had lasted for ten thousand years in remarkable condition after all, but the opaque milk white panel came loose easily. Elizabeth stared at blinking lights.
"Elizabeth, take a step back, now!"
Carson pulled her backwards, nearly taking them both down in a tumble.
"Carson?" Elizabeth stared at the physician. "What is going on?"
"I recognized it from the fragments Dr. Zelenka and I examined. It's a bomb, hidden beneath the door panel."
Elizabeth was aghast. The thought that she had been leaning inches away from a live bomb almost made her sick. "Are you sure?"
"Sure enough not to risk touching that thing again," Carson said and nodded.
"Try not to think at it either." Elizabeth reactivated her radio. "Dr. Kusanagi, this is Dr. Weir. We removed the panel and found something that looks like an explosive device." Elizabeth forced herself to remain calm as she relayed the information to the scientists on the other side of the door.
"Dr. Weir? Can you please repeat?" The panic in Dr. Kusanagi's voice told Elizabeth that she had understood her fine the first time.
"It looks like the device Dr. Zelenka described." Carson joined the conversation. „We can't see all of it, some of it is hidden underneath the wall panels, but it appears to be basically shaped like a spider. The arms are literally growing out of the wall. It definitely part organic in nature." Elizabeth admired the ease with which Carson described the spider-bomb to Dr. Kusanagi. He didn't seem to feel the least bit frightened.
"It looks like it is actually alive. It's moving."
"It is moving? Can you explain that?"
"It looks like it is breathing, which makes no sense since the fragments Radek and I examined were Naquadah..." Carson trailed off and stared at the creature in shock.
"Elizabeth, I think we have a bigger problem than I realized. We should get the window open."
Elizabeth startled. "I though we were in as much trouble as we could be. What is going on?" She followed Carson to the far end of the room.
"Radek and I were examining the bomb fragments in the medical lab, the fragment of a bomb that looked exactly like this one. Those fragments were made of Naquadah and an organic substance. It wasn't in our or the Ancient database, but as soon as it came into contact with the scanner, it almost blew up at us."
Elizabeth immediately reached for her radio. "Dr. Kusanagi. Stop whatever you are doing right now. Our scanners could set this whole thing off at any moment."
"Understood, Dr. Weir. What do you want us to do?"
"Evacuate this wing; have them use the stairs, not the transporters. I want all electronics on this level switched off now, including anything you are using, Dr. Kusanagi," Elizabeth ordered. She tried to remember how many rooms were occupied in this part of the City. Too many. There was no vital technology on the entire level, this bomb had been set to target people?
"What about our radios, Dr. Weir?" Dr. Kusanagi's voice came over the radio again.
"So far, nothing has happened, and we'll need to stay in contact, so I think we can risk it." Elizabeth decided. "I need you get me Dr. Zelenka down here. Tell him to bring everything he has on the bomb fragments. Tell him to leave his laptop at the lab."
"I will. Kusanagi out." The radio fell silent. Elizabeth looked around. The moderately sized room suddenly seemed very small. Elizabeth sat down on the bed and massaged her temples. She could fell a massive headache lurking beneath the surface.
John couldn't rest. While his body craved sleep, his mind kept him awake with reminders of what he had done. He had killed a man. John had hardly known Leon Mars. It wasn't his face he kept seeing. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Colonel Sumner's face, frozen in time the second before he had shot him. For months he had not been haunted by those dreams. He would never forget what he had done, but with time, the dreams had faded.
John sat up in bed. He felt slightly dizzy, but he couldn't stay in bed. There was no chance he could sleep; he needed to get the persistent images out of his mind. One look around the bare isolation room confirmed that his clothes were no where to be seen.
John decided he didn't care. Even though he didn't have a problem with small spaces normally, he needed to get out of the tiny room where he was captive along with his thoughts. He eased his legs over the side of the bed and carefully got up. His legs were fairly steady and he made it to the door without falling on his face. It took him a second thought to open to door; he was definitely not at the top of his game.
John stumbled out into the corridor and nearly fell when he stepped into darkness. He caught hold off the wall and slowly his eyes adjusted. There was faint light coming from the direction of the infirmary.
"Are you all right, Sir?" Suddenly a figure stepped out of the shadows. She had to have been standing there, in the dark without him noticing her before.
Cadman turned on a portable storm light. "Sir. Should I get Dr. Beckett?" She sounded genuinely worried. John had to look worse than he realized. He unconsciously tried to ruffle his hair into its usual bed-head style.
"What's our status?" John asked. He didn't think that Cadman was carrying around a storm light for the fun of it and the only reason he could think of involved Atlantis without a ZPM.
"Everything is under control, sir." Cadman flinched.
John suddenly had to urge to laugh. It had to be Beckett's drugs. "Frankly, I'm surprised you still call me 'sir'."
"I have not idea what you are talking about." Cadman smiled grimly, the expression on her face distorted by the shadows of the storm light.
"How is Rodney doing?" John changed the subject.
"I don't know anything official, but I heard it's looking up for him. I'm not telling if you sneak in for a moment." Cadman nodded towards the isolation room across the corridor.
"I appreciate it. I won't be long." The truth was John didn't feel too well on his feet.
Someone had been visiting Rodney earlier. There was already a chair beside his bed, a book upturned on the seat. John carefully put the book to the ground and sat down. Rodney was sickly pale, sweat matting his hair. His left hand was loosely tethered to the bedrail, preventing him from accidentally ripping out his IV line as he moved restlessly. John hadn't put together any words in his head and when he saw Rodney, he was stunned and at a loss for words. Rodney looked very ill. Elizabeth had told him that the scientist was improving; John didn't want to know how bad he had looked before,
John was surprised when Rodney seemed to settle and his eyes fluttered open to half-mast.
"Rodney? Come on, open your eyes."
Rodney blinked slowly at John. His gaze was glassy and John wasn't sure Rodney realized he was even there.
"Rodney." John squeezed Rodney's right hand. "It's me, John."
The motion was weak, but Rodney jerked his hand away from John's. Rodney's lips were moving but there was no sound coming out. The expression on his face was one of terror as he shifted as far away from John as possible.
John was anxiously eying the door to Rodney's isolation room. Dr. Millhouse had politely, but firmly, shoved him outside when he had called for her, near panic at Rodney's terrified response to his presence.
He was relief to see Dr. Millhouse come out of the room was calm face.
"Is he going to be all right?" John got up to meet her.
"We will need to run further tests." Dr. Millhouse replied. "You should go and lie back down. Dr. Weir didn't authorise any visitors for you or Dr. McKay yet. Anyways, it's probably best if you stay here for the moment." Dr. Millhouse didn't say anything but John could tell she was scared. Something very bad had happened, worse than what Elizabeth had told him.
"I don't think I can rest now." John admitted.
"Then you might as well join me in the infirmary. I need to take some blood and see about another dose of biperiden." Dr. Millhouse decided.
"Well, if you could find me some clothes while we are there, I won't mind." John agreed and followed Dr. Millhouse towards the infirmary. He was getting cold in the thin burgundy scrubs. The metal floor of the city was leaking ice into his bare feet.
John almost had to close his eyes at the bright lights in the infirmary. There the lighting was at normal levels. Whatever power problems they were having must not have affected this part of the medical wing. Most of the beds were occupied, but the curtains were drawn around them and Dr. Millhouse quickly led John forwards to the treatment area. She was speaking rapidly with curt gestures. John was sitting on an exam table, hands folded in front of his chest.
"I'll drop off your blood sample at the lab and see about getting you something to wear. There should still be a pair of sweatpants around." Dr. Millhouse gave him a thin smile. She seemed to feel sorry for him. Not what John had expected after he had killed a man. First Cadman and now Dr. Millhouse, they were treating him like he might shatter into pieces any minute. While John felt cold and rather dizzy, he had fought hand to hand with a Wraith feeling worse. But sitting here, not knowing what was going on, expect for the piecemeal of information he was being given, he felt much less confident.
Dr. Millhouse was taking her time dropping off his blood at the lab. John shifted nervously, he was tired, from the drugs no doubt. The few minutes he had been on his feet had drawn his strength. He longed for a warm blanket and a cup of coffee. Beckett was always sipping from a mug, so he probably kept a machine around, but John wasn't even sure of Beckett was drinking tea or coffee from his ever present mug.
John slipped to his feet. He was going to see about that coffee machine before his fingers froze off. He rubbed his hands together and made his way towards Carson's office. He nearly turned back the locked door, but then he saw the light blue glow of the laptop screen through the glass. John stopped and stared inside. The laptop was facing away from the door, so he couldn't see what was on screen, but it was very unusual that Beckett would have left the screen on after his shift, especially if he had locked the infirmary behind him. Then he spotted something else, under the desk, sticking to the desk plate from underneath. It looked like a gigantic spider, but it had a metallic shine and blinked menacingly.
John unlocked the door with a thought. For a second, he considered calling for back-up, but without knowing why he had killed Mars and why Atlantis had lost power, John had to assume the worst - the City had been attacked.
John didn't bother to sit down. The laptop was running only a single application. John had never seen it before, but it was clear what its purpose was. Files were being transferred somewhere. 98 complete, John clicked to cancel. The blinking light under the desk changed from green to red. Oh shit. John reflexively reached under, trying to remove the metal spider before anyone came running.
His fingers made contact with the metal and John screamed and pulled his hand back. His fingers were reddened, burnt, where he had touched the device, but the pain receded quickly. John winced; he was turning into Rodney, touching Ancient toys without thinking. John was examining his fingers which were now rapidly blistering when he heard noise outside. Footfalls, but oddly slow and uneven.
John cast a quick, futile look around. There was nowhere to hide and nothing he could use as a weapon against a potential assailant. He was trapped in Beckett's office. Any way out would lead him past whoever was coming towards him. A heavy thump outside interrupted his frantic considerations. John carefully snuck outside.
A figure was slumped on the floor, blond hair spilling over the back of a grey uniform jacket. John stepped over her, remembering Beckett's first aid lessons. Laura Cadman was on her left side, eyes closed. It looked like she had struggled, her hair had come undone, but what made John pause was thin metal dart sticking in her throat.
"Cadman. Lieutenant!" John forgot about keeping his voice down.
Laura opened her eyes and found John. She tried a raise a hand, but John held both of her arms down. She struggled against him, until John noticed what she was trying to show him. In her right him, Laura was gripping a silvery cylinder about two inches long. John gently took it from her and pocketed it. He could examine it later.
"Don't move. Stay still." John was not going to tell her that everything was going to be all right. After Dr. Gaul, he had stopped making that particular promise.
Cadman's lips were moving, but no sound was coming out.
"Don't. Don't try to talk." John released her hands.
At least John couldn't see any blood. That had to bee a good sign. He knew better than to try and pull out the dart. Beckett had taught them to leave foreign object where they were until a medical professional could take care of them. John instinctively reached for his radio, only to recall that he was still dressed in scrubs. He searched for Laura's radio, but the small device in her pocket was shattered. Dr. Millhouse was still nowhere to be seen and John had a very bad feeling that whoever had gotten to Cadman had gotten to the doctor as well.
Cadman was missing both her weapons, John hadn't noticed before searching for her radio. There was an assailant out there, armed with an automatic weapon. He needed to find Dr. Millhouse before it was too late, but he couldn't leave Cadman behind. He had made a career of leaving no man behind and it had cost him dearly - Afghanistan, Athos.
"Lieutenant." John touched Laura's hand for a second. "I'll just get a blanket. Then I'm going get a doctor. I'll just be a moment." John struggled not to let his own insecurity creep into his voice. Laura just blinked weakly. She was drifting away. Maybe the dart had been poisoned, but John couldn't afford to think about that.
John pushed himself to his feet and raced to the nearest cupboard. John rummaged through supplies, cupboard after cupboard. It seemed to take an eternity until he found a pile of neatly folded blankets. He took the top one and rushed back to where he had left Laura. He called her name, but she didn't react. With relief, he still felt a pulse and spread the blanket over her.
John took one last look back then he ran towards the direction of the isolation rooms and the medical labs. he passed through the small ward, but he didn't have time to check on anyone, he didn't have any skill to help anyways. Rodney. He was out there as well. But he needed to find Dr. Millhouse first.
The storm light was tipped over on the ground, broken, the glass shards scattered across the hallway. John only noticed after the first piece of glass cut into the sole of his left foot. John curse, but he couldn't afford to stop. It was nearly dark in the corridor, the dim light coming from the infirmary was too far away and the medical labs were lying in darkness.
John trailed one hand along the wall, finding his way to the lab. His thoughts brought on the lights, overly bright so that he had to close his eyes. He immediately saw Dr. Millhouse on the floor, in a mirror image of Lieutenant Cadman. A thin silver dart was protruding from her chest; it seemed to have gone through her lab coat and uniform easily. She was already unconscious, but her pulse was strong. John breathed a sigh of relief and looked around. The lab was empty, no sign of the technician on the night shift. If the assailant or assailants had though here, on the search for data, drugs or something else, why hadn't they overwhelmed the technician right here in the lab? Had they taken a hostage? But where had they gone. They had passed Cadman in the hallway between the infirmary and the lab, but the only thing in between was the isolation rooms. Rodney?! Damn. John picked up Dr. Millhouse's radio and hurried back to the corridor.
"Zelenka, its Sheppard." John activated the radio. Zelenka's skills wouldn't help Cadman or Dr. Millhouse, but if anyone knew what was going on, Zelenka did. He knew everything about everybody and Radek didn't believe in lies.
After a few seconds Zelenka replied. "Yes, John?" Zelenka sounded nervous. Since when was he on first name basis with Dr. Z?
"I'm having a problem with the heating system in my quarters, I was wondering whether you could come and have a look at it." John decided to not give away his actual location. He needed to talk to Zelenka face to face. Something was wrong.
"Yes. Uhm, yes. I come meet you there. I have to go." The connection was closed from Zelenka's end. John stared at the radio. He wasn't sure who would show up at his quarters, but he had the suspicion that it wouldn't be Zelenka. John couldn't risk trusting anyone right now.
The infirmary seemed safe for now. The attackers seemed assured that all threats had been eliminated already. Cadman and Dr. Millhouse. That left him and he still needed to check on Rodney.
The door to the isolation room opened at his thought. John stepped inside. Rodney was still in bed, but his face was turned towards John, his eyes fixated on him.
John saw the fear on Rodney's face and raised his arms in defence. "Are you all right?" He took a slow step forward.
Rodney nodded. "What are you doing here?"
"Checking on you. I wanted to see if you are all right." John repeated but Rodney only frowned.
"I can't. I need your help," John pleaded. He needed Rodney to tell him what the metal spider's purpose was and his help to disable it. If there were two of them, they could better help Cadman and Dr. Millhouse.
"I want to be alone." Rodney turned away from John.
"I need your help. It looks like we have invaders in the City. They are attacking people, apparently looking for something. One of them broke into Beckett's office, to steal data, I think."
"Call the jarheads, but leave me alone," Rodney snapped.
"They left a device behind, in Beckett's office. I tried to remove it, but it bit me instead." John held up his reddened fingers. The wounds looked almost like burns and hurt as much, but John tried to ignore them.
"You just touched it?" Rodney was incredulous and finally he sounded like his usual self. John had to suppress a smile.
"Yeah, heat of the moment and all. I need you to take a look at it. I think it might be a homing beacon."
"Or a bomb." Rodney sat up and started removing the EKG leads from his chest with shaking hands. "Is that your blood?"
John followed Rodney's gaze to the blood smears on the floor.
"Forgot to tell you, there are glass shards all over the corridor and we don't have any shoes."
Elizabeth stared at the white tile ceiling. Twenty minutes ago, Dr. Kusanagi had left to find Radek and since then no word. Trapped with a bomb at the door and no way to go at the other side, time was stretching painfully.
"Do you reckon Dr. Biro has finished the autopsy of Mars yet?"
"She should have. I'd be interested in his tox results. I don't have the illusion that there are no drugs on Atlantis, but Mars..." Carson sighed.
"You didn't think he was the type to do drugs?" Elizabeth asked curiously. She hadn't thought they had a drug problem at all.
"No, not really. I don't know who the type is. That would make my job a lot easier."
"Carson, is anyone on Atlantis caught up with drugs?" Elizabeth suddenly realised what Carson had been hinting at all along.
"You know I can't tell you." Carson avoided looking at Elisabeth.
"So there is something to tell?! Drug smuggling is not a medical matter; it is a matter of base security. I need to be informed. I can't believe you held out on me!" Elizabeth wrought her hands in exasperation.
"I was not aware of anyone being able to smuggle drugs into the City. I swear I would have told you immediately. But what my patients tell me in confidence; I can't just tell you without their approval." Carson argued his case.
"I don't care about their approval. I want too know if anyone is a potential danger to the security of this base." Elizabeth said sharply. She couldn't believe Carson was that stubborn? In the Pegasus Galaxy different rules applied and usually Carson understood the need for compromise.
"Elizabeth, I don't think you understand. These patients are struggling hard..." Carson sounded desperate
""I want to know you everything." Elizabeth needed to know. Carson was a perceptive physician, but he had not relayed his insights to her. Elizabeth wondered when he had lost faith in her.
"I really resent this. Dr. Kusanagi, Dr. Tiding and Dr. Taylor. I don't know about anyone else, but not anyone confides in me."
"And you?" Elizabeth asked quietly.
It had taken Radek thirty seconds to find the bay door controls and three minutes to find out how to reroute the power from the Naquadah generators. He hadn't figured out yet how to get out of the Jumper alive. He had no doubt that he would be killed as soon as they had left Atlantis.
The radio call had riled his captor. Radek was sure that his squeaking voice must have given him away. He hadn't dared saying anything other than directed by the lieutenant holding the energy weapon.
"Give me the radio." The lieutenant took the radio from Radek and made sure it had been switched off. Radek hadn't taken the chance; he was not that sort of brave.
"How long until you have the bay roof open?" The man demanded to know.
"I should go to meet the colonel; he will be suspicious if I don't show up." Radek insisted, hoping they would let him leave if he just completed the work they wanted.
"I'll take care of Sheppard. Taylor, stay here and keep an eye on him. Contact me if she shows up." The lieutenant handed Taylor the energy gun and slipped out of the Jumper. Taylor clutched the gun tightly. Radek was wondering what he was more afraid of, getting caught or being stuck alone with Radek in the Jumper.
"Who are you waiting for?" Radek asked, trying to sound casually.
"You'll see soon enough." Taylor got up to pace the narrow space. "You need to get the roof open."
"I understand. I'm working on it." Radek frantically searched for possibilities - any way to raise an alarm or send a message to warn to others. There wasn't enough time to program a virus to spread a message to every single computer in the City. Jam the Bay roof? Radek wasn't sure what that would accomplish, except getting him killed very fast. His only chance was to overwhelm Taylor while he was still alone with him. He had control over the Jumper, but no experience with manipulating the craft. He had only one shot at this.
"I think I got it. I managed to access the bay door roof controls." Radek turned to Taylor.
"Let me see." Taylor walked up the Radek in the front of the Jumper.
Radek lunged at Taylor the moment the Jumper took off, but he didn't bring the heavier, taller man to fall. Radek simply clung to him. A punch to the side of his head dislodged him. The last thing Radek saw was a flash of blue energy racing towards him for the second time the day.