Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis, the characters and universe are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions and the Sci-Fi Channel. The content of this story is solely for entertainment purposes and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N - This story is a continuation or sequel to 'Three for the Price of Two'. I recommend reading 'Three for the Price of Two' first in order to gain character understanding. This takes place about a year after Colonel Sheppard had an accident.
2-6-2008 Previous spelling errors corrected. Content of story unchanged. Any remaining mistakes are mine and mine alone.
Chapter One – Not His Usual Morning
It had been most of a year now that Colonel John Sheppard had been in a wheelchair after his accident on P4X-497; and six months since he was promoted to full Colonel. He could honestly say his life in the Pegasus Galaxy had changed a lot. Dealing with his paralysis had been a roller coaster ride, raw emotions and frustrations running wild. In general, John had always liked roller coasters. The bigger and faster, the better, but he hadn't liked this one. Although he had adjusted for the most part.
It wasn't until the Daedalus landed a year ago and Dr. Carl Epson came into his life that he had gotten his act together. Carl had given him a reason to continue, to fight for what he wanted. Carl showed him he didn't have to give up the things he loved to do, just because he was in a wheelchair now. And he was right. The Swiss task master worked him relentlessly.
Carl showed him he could still run with Ronon. He remembered that first day and how skeptical he was. Here he was in his wheelchair rolling down the halls of Atlantis and Carl a step or two behind him, seeing Carl's expression after he rounded that corner that morning sun piercing through the hollowed halls and displaying its magic on the walls for all to enjoy. Carl showed him he could continue his Katas lessons with Teyla, she is an excellent teacher and still, stroke for stroke; he couldn't knock a stick from her skillful hands. Being able to surf the sweet breakers off the mainland was a joy of a lifetime. Best of all, he maintained his command over Atlantis.
The Daedalus and Col. Caldwell were due any day now. Supplies were low and they were in need of medical supplies badly. Rogue Genii soldiers, leftovers from Kolya's reign, had tried to take Atlantis. Without Kolya's tactical cunning, the rogue Genii failed in taking Atlantis. However, two of his Marines died in that skirmish and there were three more wounded. In addition medical supplies were exchanged for the other hostages.
The Asurans tried again, but having three ZPM's now allowed the Atlantis shield to hold until John fired enough drones to destroy their satellite beam. Col. Ellis, commander of the Apollo, was dispatched to the Asuran home world with another Mark IX tactical nuclear bomb. Dr. Weir tried to negotiate with Oberoth, however, he had already made up his mind and the Apollo continued with its orders. Dr. Weir reminded Oberoth that in each of their encounters, Atlantis prevailed.
It had been a rough few months.
John had settled into his routine quite nicely. Taking care of himself was on the top of his list. So far, no more UTI's and to his recollection, this had been the longest he had ever stayed out of the infirmary. As long as he was healthy, he could keep everyone safe and sound. Carl made sure of that and put him through his paces, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, running, stick fighting, stretching his leg muscles, eating right and resting when it called for it.
John no longer had the dreaded, mandatory rest breaks imposed on him by Dr. Beckett. There were days, if he was honest with himself, that he really missed those rest breaks. John was in the best health he had ever been. Beckett no longer harped about his weight since he gained fifteen pounds, mostly muscle and credited his health to Carl.
Carl had become a member of his family, right along with Rodney, Teyla, Ronon, Elizabeth, Carson, Radek and Evan. He started joining them for movie nights, poker games, and trips to the mainland to surf, rest, and relaxed when time would permit. He was definitely becoming accustomed to the Pegasus Galaxy and Atlantis. John finally got his new life on track and under control. Now that John was more independent, and less reliant on Carl, Carl had more free time so he helped out in the infirmary. He helped the Marines stay fit and did all their rehab.
John was no longer a stranger to his office or to paperwork. Elizabeth was most happy about that; she was getting her mission reports on time. Requisitions were being signed and even turned in on time. He took over mission planning and debriefing allowing Elizabeth more time to deal with the scientists, SGC, IOA and the everyday operation of keeping Atlantis afloat. He kept up with drills for his Marines, old and new arrivals were treated all the same. Planned war games kept them all on their toes and that was paying off. Mock invasions, hostage taking, and emergency evacuation drills helped his Marines to have quicker response times. The results of their hard work had been proven when the Genii recently tried to take Atlantis.
Usually when the Daedalus came he felt solicitous or uneasy but this time he couldn't wait for the ship to arrive. He had requested several of his Officers and some Enlisted personnel to be promoted prior to their normal schedule. They had showed him outstanding courage, strength and unyielding leadership in ways he could not and would not disregard. They put it all on the line for him and for Atlantis. This was the least he could do, he thought.
"Atlantis, this… Col. Ca…well, requesting immediate landing and...assistance." The seasoned officer spoke with anxiety. "Atlantis, do……read?"
The Daedalus was early. No one expected the ship for another day or so. There were no set schedules for the Daedalus. Sometimes she would have to stay on Earth and help with the fight against the Ori. Other times, she stayed longer on Atlantis helping out when necessary. The SGC, in their data-burst would inform Atlantis of its pending arrival, but no specific time or date.
"Daedalus, we read you. Your transmission is breaking up; the east pier is clear for landing. Repeat… what assistance do you require?" Asked Chuck calmly, looking over his shoulder at Dr. Weir's office, raising his hand to get her attention and motioning her to come.
Elizabeth had been working on reports all morning, nothing exciting, just the normal day-to-day stuff. When she caught the technician's gesture, she came into the control room, "what is it Chuck?"
"Daedalus is requesting immediate landing and assistance. I've cleared them to land on the east pier and asked what assistance, but they have not responded yet." Chuck explained. "Their transmissions are shoddy at best."
"Okay, notify Colonel Sheppard and try to contact the Daedalus again." Weir instructed.
The Daedalus was coming in hard and fast. Atlantis was coming into view a lot faster than the seasoned commander wanted. You could see with the naked eye a trail of smoke following as the ship crossed the sky and plummeted closer to Atlantis.
"Elizabeth, I'm heading to the east pier now. Any word from the Daedalus of what assistance they need?" John asked as he rolled himself down the long hallway leading to the landing pier. He left his half un-eaten breakfast sitting on the table in the mess hall.
"None yet John, we're still trying to…" She broke off her thought when Chuck received a response from the Daedalus commander. Elizabeth kept Colonel Sheppard tied into the comm so he could hear what was being said from control as well as any communications coming from the Daedalus.
"Atlantis, need evacuation ……med…… assistance…do you…opy?" Caldwell replied. The communications array had been going in and out on them.
"Yes Steven, we read you. Evacuation and medical assistance on the way." Elizabeth replied.
"John, did you copy that?"
John was still about ten minutes from the east pier. He reached up and tapped his comm, "yes Elizabeth, I got that. I'm almost there. I'll contact Lorne and he can round up the troops. You contact Beckett."
Without saying another word, Elizabeth contacted Dr. Carson Beckett and advised him of the emergency. Well at least what little she knew of the emergency anyway.
John contacted Major Evan Lorne and had him round up the personnel and had them double time it to the east pier. Just as he got through the east pier door way his gaze was drawn to the sky above Atlantis where he saw the Daedalus coming in fast, trailing smoke. "Lorne, we need fire rescue teams; looks like the Daedalus is on fire and coming in hot."
John reported what he saw to Dr. Beckett and Dr. Weir. At least now the good doctor would know what type of emergency medical supplies he needed his staff to gather; saline and gauze for burns, oxygen tanks for smoke inhalation and of course bandages for any cuts.
John wasn't sure if the Daedalus was going to crash or land or crash land. At the rate of speed he witnessed, his bet was on crash. He hoped he was wrong. Even a water landing would be difficult to rescue survivors. He kept his fingers crossed, watching intently as the ship got closer and closer, praying for their safety under his breath. The Daedalus was diving at a steep angle but at the last minute it pulled its nose up and landed hard; very hard on the east pier.
The big ship pounded the pier. The vibrations carried through and into the halls in waves towards the inhabited part of the city just like a stone tossed in a pond. Atlantis groaned under the stress of the hard landing. John reached his mind out to Atlantis and offered his apology and thanked her for being so strong.
Major Lorne arrived at the east pier with fifteen teams, each team having four men. He had sent two other teams to the infirmary to help Dr. Beckett transport gurneys and supplies, and another team to gather all the stretchers from the jumpers. The three fire rescue teams had already dropped hoses into the waters that surround Atlantis and began pumping, spraying water on the visible flames and smoke of the ship.
From John's advantage point on the east pier, he could see a hole in the side of the big ship. It looked like a Wraith blast, but he put that thought out of his mind. If the Daedalus was attacked in their solar system by Wraith he would have been told. Long range sensors sweep the solar system every few minutes and it would have picked up on any enemy vessels. Whatever struck the ship appeared to have damaged the communications array. Half of it was missing. He surmised from the way the Daedalus landed that several other critical or navigational systems that were housed in that area were damaged by whatever had struck it.
The cargo bay ramp was lowering on the big ship. John wheeled himself closer, needing to know how many were injured, what he could do to help, and what had happened. Beckett and his crew arrived as did the team that was sent to grab stretchers from the jumpers. The Atlantis personnel stood ready and waiting for their next orders.
"Captain, where do you need my men?" John asked, knowing the Captain knew this ship and crew better than he.
Crew members followed the Captain down the ramp and out of the smoking ship. Lorne had Sgt. Moore, Tonniges and Jones's team aid those coming down the ramp and handed them over to Dr. Beckett and the medical staff, while they waited for instructions from Colonel Sheppard.
The young Captain was coughing, but managed a reply. "Decks three and four starboard side took the most damage, Sir. We have several personnel down in adjacent areas. The fire is under control for the most part, though we are still having a lot of smoke."
"Okay." Turning to face Lorne, "Major, send three teams to cover decks one through three aft and make sure everyone uses respirators. Send three more teams to cover aft decks four through six. Remove anyone they find. If someone is trapped, let me know on channel two and I'll send in the rescue team with a corpsman. We'll do assessments out here." Colonel Sheppard stated clearly.
"Captain, what about other areas of the ship? Command? Do you know how many are injured?" Colonel Sheppard inquired.
"Don't know Sir. Communications was only working half the time, but now it's off-line completely." Replied the coughing Captain. "I've tried to reach the command deck but no luck, Sir. All I get is static. I'm not sure if they can hear us or not."
John weighed his options. With communications not working he didn't know where help was really needed. "Lorne, take six teams to the center access port. Have each team cover one deck of the forward section in front of the blast, one team per deck. See if you can make your way through to Command. Help anyone you can find and get them out here so Beckett and his staff can look after them."
"Yes Sir." Major Lorne quickly turned and motioned for six teams to follow him to the center access port of the ship.
"Col. Caldwell, this is Sheppard, do you read me?" The comm crackled in his ear, but no reply. On the off chance that they were receiving and not able to reply, John advised them what he was doing from out here. He advised he had teams on decks three and four starboard side and had sent six teams to the center access port to help with rescue and evacuation, and that the fire rescue teams had put out the fire on the starboard side after they landed.
More crew members started to arrive, some were walking, and others were on stretchers. A new batch of Marines and some replacement personnel made their way down the central access port ladder aided by the Atlantis Marines. John had the remaining six teams divide in half. Three teams to the center access port and three to the cargo bay ramp. Once the wounded crew members and passengers were down, the teams stationed on the pier took over, allowing those with the respirators to go back in and search.
Drs. Beckett, Biro and Epson, along with every available nurse and medic corpsman treated the wounded with precision and accuracy; their triage looked like an assembly line. John could hear Beckett barking out orders to the other Doctors and nurses who were following his instructions to the letter. Beckett quickly assessed each person and then pointed to either Dr. Biro, Dr. Epson or one of the nurses or corpsman to handle their needs.
Glancing at the triage area it appeared that the crew members and passengers, so far, were suffering from the smoke. John could see a few with white bandages on their hands thinking they must be burned or cut. A couple of the crew members had white bandages on their heads, those he remembered seeing come out on a stretcher.
John received a call from Sgt. Buckland who was leading a team on deck four. They needed the rescue team and corpsman. One of the Daedalus crew was trapped under a fallen piece of metal that was once part of the bulkhead. John sent the team in with hydraulic lifts and a portable oxygen tank and mask. He hoped the hydraulic lifts would be enough to free the trapped crewman. He didn't want to use the welding torch to cut away the metal unless it was a last resort.
"Major Lorne to Colonel Sheppard." John startled as his comm sounded. John's focus was on watching the evacuation from the cargo ramp and the center access port.
Reaching up, he tapped his comm. "Sheppard here, Major what's your status?"
"Sir, I'm on the bridge with Col. Caldwell, he would like to speak to you. Just one minute Sir." Lorne advised before he took off his comm and handed it to Col. Caldwell.
"Colonel, thanks for your assistance. We received your message, but were unable to respond. Our communications system was damaged. How is the evacuation going?" Caldwell asked.
"Evacuation is going smoothly. So far only one crew member has been reported as being trapped on deck four. I sent a rescue team and corpsman in about fifteen minutes ago. Dr. Beckett is taking care of everyone out here. Looks like we have approximately one hundred-fifty out so far. How's it going in there, Sir." John was so glad they had communications established within the big ship, even if it was just one comm.
Col. Caldwell appreciated the clear and precise report that Colonel Sheppard conveyed. "We're fine Colonel. The damage was mainly the upper aft decks. As soon as the engineer gets the recycling pumps working we'll be venting the smoke. If you can have a couple of damage control teams standing by I would be grateful."
"No problem Sir. I'll have the teams ready and on stand-by. Keep Major Lorne's comm and ask him to meet me at the center access port. Sheppard out."
John wheeled himself over to one of his Marines, Sgt. Edwards, who was helping with the wounded, "Sergeant, would you please go to the armory and bring back a dozen or so comm's. Double-time it if you could." With a quick nod, the Sergeant was off and running.
While the Sergeant went to get the comm's, John arranged for two damage control teams to stand-by and await further instructions from Col. Caldwell on channel five. The Sergeant was just coming through the east pier door when John looked up. Then he looked at his watch and noted that it had only been twenty minutes. When the Sergeant approached with the box of comm's in hand, he was barely out of breath. "Thank you Sergeant. May I ask how you did that so fast?"
A smile crossed the young Sergeant's face, "Sir, I radioed ahead and had them meet me half way."
"Excellent idea Sergeant, just wished I would have thought of it. Carry on." John smiled back and nodded his thanks again. He started towards the belly of the big ship to the center access port to meet Major Lorne.
Over his shoulder he heard the young Sergeant say, "you would have Sir, but you are a little pre-occupied right now with more important things." The Sergeant went back to helping the wounded.
John got to the center access port and found Major Lorne just coming down the ladder. "Here Major, take these, get them to whoever needs one so Col. Caldwell can communicate with his crew. Have the Daedalus personnel stay on channel five. I advised Col. Caldwell that the two damage control teams are on stand-by and awaiting his orders. Do you need any more help inside?"
"No Sir. This will do it. Most of the crew have been evacuated. Only necessary Daedalus personnel still remain. Novak and Hermiod are in engineering working on the downed systems. Dr. Reinhold has a couple patients in sickbay, but no one is in any danger. Actually, I'm ready to send four of the teams out. I'd like to keep two on board to help the damage control teams if needed." Lorne commented, putting his right foot on the first ladder rung to start his climb back into the Daedalus.
At that moment, a loud hiss was heard; gray smoke filled the area around the outside of the ship. It appeared that the engineer finally got the recycling pumps working.
John nodded and turned around to head back towards Beckett and his people to check on them and see if they needed any further help or more supplies. He had received word that the rescue team had managed to free the trapped crewman and found no others trapped. All non-essential personnel had been evacuated and now stood, sat or laid on the pier. The trapped crewman was taken to the infirmary with a broken leg. Dr. Biro would set and cast the injured limb. Everyone else had only minor cuts, bruises, light burns or smoke inhalation. No one else needed the Atlantis infirmary.
As Major Lorne dismissed four teams from the Daedalus, Colonel Sheppard gave them his thanks for a job well done and sent them all to the showers and to get something to eat. He sent all but the two teams that now remained on the pier back as well. Every one of his people had worked fast, careful and flawlessly. He was proud of each and every one of the men and women who served with him and helped save the lives of the Daedalus crew and the new comers to Atlantis.
John informed Elizabeth of the number of guests that would be staying for dinner and to ready a few hotel rooms for a few days. Looking at the hole in the side of the big ship it would take a few days to patch it up before the ship would be space worthy again. Elizabeth got to work on room assignments and advised Rose Highland, and her mess staff, of the extra mouths the would need to be fed. John had the remaining two teams escort the Daedalus personnel off the pier once he got the okay from Beckett.
All in all not a bad morning. Not his usual morning routine, but hey…variety is the spice of life they say. And you couldn't get any more 'spicier' then a crash landing, fire, and rescue.