Title: Tower Tag
Title: Tower Tag
So named because that's what its been called for nearly a year now and I can't think of it as anything else.
Disclaimer: SGA belongs to MGM/Paramount and a bunch of others. No copyright infringement intended with the use of these characters.
Spoilers: For "The Tower" and what ever came before it.
A/N: It really does feel like I've been working on this story forever but finally…finally its DONE! I'll be posting it in parts though because, why not?
Yes, even though the name really was "Baldric" in the credits…after an extremely silly conversation with friends—Blame Tipper for the new name. A sincere thanks to 'the gang' (waves to all of you) for being encouraging and nutty and great and to NT particularly for the prodding, nagging, yelling, waving of the whacking stick and general encouragement to get this sucker done. Especially for betaing too!
All mistakes are mine.
Hope you like it. I'll shut up now!
Rodney stared into the darkness. "Well, this is better… I guess." Dust filled the air from the last tremor. Thick and gritty, he coughed and choked on it as he tried to peer around the dimly lit room. He shook his flashlight as if doing so would strengthen its weak light.
"Colonel?" He tried to quiet his gasping, holding his struggling breath as he waited for any response on the radio. "Teyla? Ronon?"
Turning, he glanced at the dark shadowy form of his guide. His guide was hunched over, hands on his knees, coughing and struggling to breathe through the dust as well.
"The tunnel is blocked again."
Rodney could hear the fear in Baldric's trembling voice. He directed the beam of the flashlight towards the young man. "Thanks, Baldric. I noticed."
"My name is Ergo."
"What?" Rodney stared at him.
"My name- it's Ergo."
"Yeah, not Baldric."
"Seriously?" Rodney started to laugh but the look on Ergo's face and realized—he was serious. "Fine, just be quiet so I can think."
"Can you shoot another…thing?" Ergo's hands moved, outlining the rough shape of a drone.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "A drone, and no. No,I can't."
"Well, for starters," Rodney let his frustration flow through his voice. "We just drained all the power. There's nothing left to power one of them."
"Oh." Ergo's voice sounded small.
"Yeah, oh." Rodney rubbed his forehead. This was so not good. He tried not to think about small confined spaces. Think like you're on Atlantis, he told himself. Where would you go now? "Let's…" He waved toward the only exit again. Maybe the small tunnel he'd managed to open with the first drone hadn't been completely blocked with the latest tremors. If it wasn't blocked, maybe they'd be able to get a radio signal again.
"Yeah." Ergo's figure nodded, his features beginning to become clearer as Rodney's eyes adjusted to the low lighting.
McKay quickly gathered his equipment and tossed it haphazardly into his pack. Then he motioned with the flashlight for Ergo to follow him. His light barely cut through the thick fog of dust and dirt, limiting visibility and forcing them to move slowly while his mind raced. Had he drained the power in time? Were Sheppard and Carson and Ronon and Teyla okay now? He had to find them. But what if he couldn't get out? What if he was trapped in the 'catacombs'?
Was there anyone out there to remember where he was and come rescue him? Was anyone alive to respond to a radio signal?
Panic flickered and he pushed it down, blocking it. He could freak out later, after they got out of here.
Stumbling over some debris, Rodney paused and shone the light around again. Think! He ordered his mind to work. There had to be another way out of this part of the city.
"What are you doing?" Ergo cut into his concentration.
"Shhh." Rodney waved him quiet. "I'm thinking."
"Oh." Ergo's tone wavered.
"Oh what?" Rodney turned on the native. "I don't hear you coming up with any brilliant way for us to get out of here." He swallowed, grimacing at the taste of dust. He eased his tone. "Do you have any ideas?" he asked genuinely.
Ergo shook his head. "No, but I think we're almost to the first hole you openedup earlier with that thing."
The hallway began to shake, the ground rumbling beneath their feet.
"Oh great." McKay ducked, covering his head with one arm and curling around the flashlight to protect it. He expected this tremor to roll through like the one before, but instead it intensified. Debris rained down around him. "Get back!" heyelled at Ergo, dropping his pack and pushing his guide back in the direction they'd come. Something hit his side. Pain rocketed through him. "Go! Go! Go!" hescreamed at Ergo, bumping into him and shoving him further back down the hall.
Rodney tried to follow but stumbled and sprawled awkwardly over debris. He dropped the flashlight as he threw his hands out to catch himself. He tried to regain his footing as the floor rippled beneath him and the ceiling crumbled in on him. Pain erupted in his shoulder and his back, stealing his breath and knocking him back to the ground again. Struggling to push himself back up, the last thing he heard was Ergo frantically screaming his name.
John sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, trying to ease his tight, tense muscles. He watched as Carson finished bandaging a young nobleman's arm.
Beckett must have sensed the scrutiny because the doctor looked up and smiled despite his obvious exhaustion. "Yer all set, son." Carson patted the nobleman's good arm ashe slowly rose from the ornate bench he'd been sitting on.
"That's it," he told Sheppard. "The last one."
"Nothing major?" John asked.
After Otho's death, a massive tremor had hit the tower. It'd scared everyone and dozens of people had been banged up in the resulting chaos, but he didn't think anyone had been seriously injured.
"No," Carson confirmed Sheppard's thoughts. "Scrapes and bruises mostly. Did you get everything sorted out with them?" Beckett waved toward another group of nobles where Mara stood.
"As sorted as possible." John exhaled slowly. He really just wanted to get out of there. After the tremor and a quick assessment of damages or lack there of, while Carson dealt with the injured, John had been left to deal with Mara and the other top nobility. He didn't quite know how he'd gotten himself into the position, but suddenly everyone seemed to be looking at him for what to do next. He thought he'd at least gotten them started on the right track,but didn't envy them the task of reorganizing their entire way of life.
"Colonel Sheppard?" Teyla's voice sounded over their radios.
"Here." He tapped his radio, responding, and shared a look with Carson, noting the concern in the doctor's eyes. "Everything alright out there?"
"Nothing has changed from when you checked in earlier," Teyla answered. "The village did not feel the effects of the tremor you reported, however…" She paused as if trying to figure out how to continue.
"What is it?" John felt his apprehension growing. What else could go wrong here? He just wanted to go home.
"Dr. McKay has yet to return to the village," Teyla finally finished.
John frowned. "He's not back yet?" He tried to remember the last time he'd spoken to Rodney. Had McKay radioed in at all after the fight with Otho?
"No. He is not responding to our radio calls either."
Carson's eyes widened. "He did mention the radios weren't working well in the tunnels, didn't he?" he suggested hopefully.
"Should've been back by now," Ronon pointed out.
John nodded. "He'd want to know if everyone was okay." He glanced at Carson as he tried his radio. "McKay?" He listened with the others for any sign that Rodney could hear them or was trying to respond over the radio, but there was nothing. "Rodney!" hesnapped impatiently, fear rising in his gut as silence answered him again. "He would have found a way by now."
"What are you saying?" Beckett's voice dropped to a whisper.
John closed his eyes as Rodney's words echoed in his mind. "There's only one problem. This place is pretty unstable. I fire up the engines, the vibrations alone could cause the whole thing to come down on us."
"Oh crap." John's eyes snapped open. "I told him it was a risk we had to take."
"What?" Teyla asked, obviously confused.
"A cave in. He warned me that starting the engines could bring the tower down, but it was the only way to drain the power fast enough to stop Otho from destroying the village. Damn it." John ran his hand through his hair. "He could be trapped down there, or…"
Teyla cut him off. "Ronon and I will find someone to lead us to where Rodney entered the tunnels."
John nodded, forgetting she couldn't see him. "Carson and I will find a way down from inside. Keep your radios on, just in case we can get a signal through."
John looked around the crowded gallery as Carson quickly repacked what was left of his supplies into his medical bag. Spotting Mara, Sheppard hurried to her. Catching her arm he pulled her gently away from the others. "I need to get down into the catacombs."
Her face crinkled with disgust. "Why?"
"I think my friend is trapped down there."
Her expression quickly changed, her pouty lips forming a surprised 'o'. "But it'sdangerous down there, especially after the tremor," she protested.
Realizing he was determined, Mara nodded. "I will lead you to the entrance." She turned and spoke to a nobleman close by. "We need torches. Fetch them and meet us at the entry to the catacombs."
John thought the man would protest but instead he jogged off to do as he was told. Carson appeared by his side and handed him his tac vest. "I'm ready."
Following Mara through familiar looking halls, a sense of urgency made John want to push her to move faster even as she almost ran. He had told McKay to take the risk, he hadn't given him a choice at all and McKay had followed his order. If Rodney was trapped or hurt or worse…
John picked up his pace, almost tripping over Mara. He had to find McKay.