SEASON: Third Season - somewhere after Sateda
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Ronon and McKay -- with a bit of Sheppard
DISCLAIMERS: The characters, Atlantis, etc, all belong to Sony, MGM, Gecko, Showtime, the Sci-Fi Channel. I own nothing.
SPOILERS: Small ones for: Coup D'Etat, Sateda, Hot Zone, The Defiant One, Grace Under Pressure, Trinity, Hide and Seek, Duet, the Hive
STUPID STUFF - by NotTasha
PART 1: RUNNER
"What the hell was that?" McKay griped as he bent over, resting his hands on his knees as he came to a halt once again. He panted.
"Genii," Ronon responded as he checked his weapon, his eyes never leaving the foliage behind them.
The scientist grimaced and grumbled, "Well, of course. I knew that! I mean it's hard not to mistake the military mojo they got going there. But what the hell are they doing here?"
Ronon shrugged, keeping his attention on everything around them.
"There is no way that they knew about the... power signature," McKay went on. "I mean... we were barely able to pick up the signal, and... those Calabazans are hardly able to grasp the concept of how to... rub two sticks together to make a fire. I hardly think they were behind this." His words came out in a rush as he fought for air. "I mean, did you see how they dressed? Hardly better than... skins and furs. What do they know about power? I'm just sayin'."
Ronon held up a hand, hoping it'd silence the man. There was no such luck.
"Oh! Oh!" McKay snapped his fingers. "They got their hands on some of those old... wanted posters. That's it!" He continued to pant through his rambling as Ronon narrowed his eyes, watching. "Wonder if there's still a reward? Probably not. That was Cowen's idea, right? And there's no more Cowen because… well… nuclear blast. Not much hope of escaping that. Might have left a shadow, but that's it. Bet the reward money got... blown up with him. Might have hid it elsewhere. Think he paid those people who gave up Major Lorne's team? Maybe Laden made off with it. Think he did?"
Ronon didn't answer. This was a bad situation – too far from the Gate on a planet that had turned decidedly unfriendly in the blink of an eye. He had to get McKay moving again, get him to safety.
"And what's up with Laden? Honestly, I don't know what side of the fence he's on. Got to think though, he's not still offering that reward. He doesn't seem like the type. He's sneakier than that." McKay shook his head, wiping the back of one hand across his sweating forehead.
McKay made no sense to Ronon. Here was a man, gasping for breath, and still unable to stop talking.
"Still, do the Calabazans know that? They might be thinking they won the lottery or something when they realized that the folks in the posters were showing up on their doorstep. Bet it was Major Lorne that gave us away. Yeah, his mug was on those posters, too."
"Quiet," Ronon demanded and gave McKay a shove. "Keep moving."
Rodney's face scrunched up as he stumbled for his footing. "But we just stopped," he whined. "We've been running for miles and I really need a breather because…"
"We have to go."
A frown and McKay stated, "I don't know if you've ever really looked at me, but I'm not an athlete." And he gestured to himself as if that was explanation enough. "This isn't easy for me."
"Stop talking," Ronon ordered, giving the man another hard push that put him in motion again. "Got to get back to the Gate."
"Great idea," McKay snapped as he struggled onward. "Get to the Gate... and avoid getting shot. You should add that, because getting shot really is not on my 'to do' list for the day."
Ronon grunted and jabbed the man onward as he looked over his shoulder, searching for their pursuers.
It had started off as an easy enough mission. The Calabazans had been pleasant people, known by both Teyla and Ronon. Major Lorne's team had scouted the place, had found odd power readings, and they hadn't been able to track down the source. After working on it for the better part of a day, they'd returned to Atlantis. Three days later, Sheppard's team had been sent to check it out.
McKay had this freakish ability to pinpoint the exact location of nearly impossible to find power sources, so he'd immediately set on that task. Lorne had also mentioned the possibility of getting their hands on an Ancient scroll of some sort, so team had split up to investigate both possibilities at once.
Looking back, Ronon realized dividing the team had been shortsighted – stupid.
He had lost out in the arrangement, getting paired up with McKay. All things considered, Ronon preferred to be with Teyla in these situations, but Sheppard had wanted someone familiar with the planet with each team.
Teyla was better at handling the technical aspects, better at handling McKay. It would have made more sense to tag her with McKay. Ronon would have gone with Sheppard. It would have made sense. But attaining the scroll, apparently, needed a little negotiating and there was only one person in their band capable of that task.
The Colonel wanted some muscle to back the insistent physicist. McKay did tend to draw unfortunate results from the people he confronted. He might be a genius, but McKay could be foolish at times.
Ronon was just following orders and did as he was told. He was here to protect the civilian. He would perform that task and let no harm come to McKay. He'd just hoped he wasn't expected to 'help' the scientist with any of the technical devices that they might encounter. Because every one of them should have realized he wasn't cut out for that sort of thing. It made him uncomfortable, being around McKay when he was in full-genius mode. It made Ronon feel... stupid.
Luckily, McKay had expected nothing out of Ronon besides 'guard duty'. Fine. The less talk involved, the better.
His sole duty was to keep McKay safe – to ensure he made it back to Atlantis where his unfathomable brainpower would, in turn, keep all of Atlantis safe. It was a big responsibility – a huge one – and Dex did not take the job lightly.
Ronon Dex wasn't a genius, he wasn't the one that'd save their city with a last-minute brilliant plan. The least he could do was protect the one who could.
McKay had been hot on the trail of this particular power reading, nay-saying all the way. "Probably nothing more than a transistor radio, or a crock pot that has been left on too long. Of course, I can't believe these people capable of creating either of those things so … well… it's mere existence may prove to be significant. Hmmm." And they found a pile of rubble that looked like a pile of rubble, but for some reason McKay got excited about it.
Ronon stood watch as McKay fiddled. It was dull work, but Ronon passed the time by remaining vigilant, acting as if trouble were just around the corner, as if something horrible should be expected at any moment. It kept him interested.
So, when everything got turned over and the Genii spilled into the compound, he was ready. He'd been able to manhandle the scientist over a wall, and radio Sheppard and Teyla as they made their escape path unusable to pursuers. They put distance behind them, assured by Teyla and Sheppard that they were doing the same.
Sheppard told him to keep off the radio – because the Genii had had access to their communication devices in the past and were probably quite capable of listening in. The last thing the colonel said was, "Get back to the Gate."
They ran. They ran and ran, but not quickly enough. It wouldn't be so frustrating if McKay didn't pause so often, gasping like a fish out of water, sweating like he was sweltering.
Alone, Ronon could have covered the distance. Or better yet -- alone, Ronon could have fallen back, to lie in wait and take the Genii as they came past him. Alone, he would have done everything he could to destroy the pursuers, and then escape. He was more than capable.
But he wasn't alone.
"Keep moving!" Ronon barked as McKay flagged again.
"I am!" McKay shot back. "I can only run so fast, okay?"
Ronon had already stripped the scientist of his pack, slinging it over his own shoulder when the scientist squawked about the value of what was carried there. McKay was rather like a child. He hadn't lived all his life with the terror of the Wraith, hadn't lived for years as a Runner. Ronon couldn't fault him for his easy life. He couldn't even envy it.
Life without peril was alien to him – as alien as this entire galaxy was to these people. The military understood life-or-death situations. The scientists, on the other hand, were soft, they struggled, and even when running for their lives, they went about it like uninitiated tykes.
Ronon knew that they were still pursued. He'd managed to outfox the Genii once or twice, flummoxing their attempts to follow, but the Genii kept moving, kept coming. The Gate was far, and they were moving too slowly.
"Hang on! Hang on!" McKay gasped, coming to another halt. "I got to…Oh God…Hang on… I got a stitch…"
"Move, McKay!" Ronon ordered, even though McKay looked as if he was about to faint – flushed and panting, almost shaking with fatigue. Might be better off if he did pass out, Ronon figured, that way he could just pick up the scientist and carry him the rest of the way over his shoulder. And he grimaced, not appreciating the idea of having to tote the man for so far.
"We're miles ahead of them."
"They're probably just behind us."
McKay sighed expansively. "Give me a second!" He grimaced as he clutched his side.
"We don't have a second!"
McKay crouched, his head low, one hand on his knee, the other at his side. He looked about ready to vomit. "Just a second, okay? Christ! Just one second…" He didn't see what was coming.
The former runner heard the quiet squeak. He turned in the direction they were headed, and saw the glint, the shape of a weapon, a form hiding behind a tree, waiting for them. He charted where the weapon was aimed, knowing its course, its target, and seeing the only way to confound it.
He jumped, knocking McKay to the ground. He heard the shot, felt it explode into his side. He stumbled, falling fully onto McKay and they tumbled to the ground in a heap.
Pain… shock. He fought them off as he rolled, needing to get to his feet again.
"What? What happened? Hey!" McKay was shouting, trying to get himself untangled from the big Satedan.
Ronon moved into a crouch, unable to fully stand, weapon in hand. He made out the shape again.
A face gazed at him from behind a tree. A weapon lifted, obscuring the blank expression as the Genii aimed.
Ronon aimed faster. He heard the whine of his weapon, the scream of it discharging, a strangely wet sounding impact, the shattering of tree bark, and the quiet thud of the victim's body hitting the ferny ground. And then all was quiet, except for the terrified panting of McKay.
Good, Ronon thought, smiling slightly. Got him! He tried to straighten, but his body shrieked against the attempt.
"Let's go," Ronon ordered, reaching down to yank McKay to his feet.
"Wait… wait… you've been hit. Do you know you've been hit?" McKay scrabbled up on hands and knees. "Oh God, it doesn't look good. Someone should do something about it," he babbled. "Where's Beckett when you need him?" he muttered as he got to his feet. "Because we really could use him right now."
"Get moving, before more of them come." Ronon tried not to wince. He tried to force back the pain that assaulted him. Now, it was even more urgent that they got moving. How could he protect McKay if he had a hole in his side?
"Oh, that's got to hurt. You have to take care of that."
"No time!" Ronon hissed, grasping his side as the pain grew. He cursed McKay for bringing it up. Mentioning pain only made it worse. He couldn't let it get the better of him. Not when he still had this responsibility.
McKay was beside him now, his face white with worry. "That's so not good," he said again. "We need to do something about it." He patted at his pockets, bringing out a handful emergency dressings, scattering a few on the ground. "I'm not so good at this sort of thing. Really, I'm one of the very worst people you'd want, but if you just hold still a moment, I'll do what I can, okay? Just… can you lift your shirt or something and I'll…"
"Get moving!" Ronon shouted, grasping hold of Rodney's outstretched arm and wrenching it about as he drove the man forward.
"Ow! Ow! Hey! No need to be violent!" McKay groused as he stumbled. "I'm just trying to help, that's all."
"Try staying alive instead!" Dex growled, pushing McKay forward as they continued their path. Ronon groaned, clutching at the bleeding wound. It hurt, but he would not let it over come him. He had a responsibility to perform and he would not fail. They ran.
McKay half-turned, looking at the Satedan in concern, so Ronon grabbed hold of the scientist by the shoulder and propelled him onward.
"Ow! You don't have to do that!"
"Don't slow down!" he ordered.
They were in trouble. Big trouble. They were too far from the Gate, and he'd been hit. It was only a matter of time and he'd go down. He was determined to make the best of the time he had left. He wouldn't fail. He'd get McKay safely back to the Gate. If he could just get Rodney back unscathed. If he could manage that, then he could proudly go out of this life.
So he ran, shoving McKay all the way. He would not let the man stop again, no matter how many times McKay tried to twist out of his grasp. Ronon kept seeing that worried face turned toward him, obviously concerned about his own safety.
McKay was yammering about something, saying that they needed to stop, to take care of something, but there would be no stopping. Ronon would not quit until his responsibility was fulfilled, until he'd gotten McKay home.
They ran. More than once, he found himself half-falling onto the scientist, aggravating the hell out of the Satedan. As if he didn't have enough problems, McKay seemed to be getting clumsier by the moment. They were about to take a tumble. Ronon had to put more pressure on the scientist, more weight – just to keep McKay moving forward.
They weren't going to make it. And what would happen? Would McKay even know how to get back to the Gate from here after he failed? McKay was too green, too unsure in the field. McKay would probably 'freak out'.
Failure was not an option. They had to keep moving.
But it wasn't fast enough.
He growled through his teeth, "Too slow! Go faster or we're going to die!" It was Sheppard's theory that threat of death always spurred the recalcitrant physicist to greater speed.
"Faster! Don't slow down! If they catch us, we're dead!" he barked at the scientist, just above the man's ear. "We'll both be dead! Do you hear me?"
"How could I not?" McKay snapped back.
Why was McKay so slow? Ronon needed to keep urging on the man with each passing moment, he had to press more weight to move McKay along. "You're going to get us both killed!" he growled, hoping the threat would be enough to keep McKay moving. "You want that?"
"What? No… no… I…"
"Stop talking! Don't waste your breath!"
McKay gasped as he stumbled onward. He kept quiet after that, concentrating on moving. Ronon kept one hand on his shoulder – a hand that soon became an arm, and half his body, just to keep McKay moving onward, to keep the scientist going forward.
But they were moving slower. They went down to their knees and McKay struggled to gain his feet again. Ronon never released his hold on the man, tugging and yanking at him all the way. Why did they let these weak scientists into the field?
"Run! Do you want us to die here?" Ronon gasped out once they were upright. And they moved forward again.
Beneath his arm, McKay huffed and struggled.
Ronon would use his last breath to complete this obligation. He would use every last ounce of his strength to fulfill this responsibility. McKay would be returned to Atlantis – that was Ronon's pledge.
But it was getting dark. The trees seemed to close in around him, and he pressed even harder. Running was becoming an unconscious activity. He moved – he would keep moving.
They were in trouble. They were in big trouble. This was stupid, Ronon realized, stupid stuff and he was going to fail.
They were so far --- so far from…
"Ronon! McKay! What the hell?"
Ronon tried to jerk his head upward, but the world seemed to tilt around him. Somehow, they had reached the Gate. Teyla was dialing the DHD. Sheppard was beside him, his face taut as he grasped hold of his arm.
"Good," Ronon muttered, smiling slightly at his commander. He'd managed it. He completed the task set to him. Atlantis would keep its biggest brain. Everything was fine.
Dex let out a sigh as the wormhole engaged. Hardly able to focus, he released his grasp of the worried-looking scientist. He smiled again, a quirk of the lips, and wanted to tell McKay that he could relax now, but he let Sheppard take over that responsibility.