Ronon wasn't the first person Sam would have thought of to be stuck in this situation, but when she'd set out for a remote part of the city in a last ditch effort to save it, Sheppard had sent a subtle signal to Ronon, the runner falling in by her side without comment. She'd sent an exasperated glare in Sheppard's direction, but he just sort of raised an eyebrow in a 'hey, if you want to go on a wild goose chase, that's your business, but I'm not letting you go alone, my boss or not' kind of way before disappearing into the jumper bay with everyone else.
Sam trusted Sheppard to have gotten everyone away safely. That inherent trust extended to the man by her side to some extent. It was just a bit unsettling to be in the not unfamiliar position of fighting for her life and planet (or city, in this case), only with pretty much the last person she would have guessed watching her six.
Ronon's made no secret of his dislike of her since the first moment Sam took command of Atlantis. She'd resigned herself to the reality that many people here would be critical of her for the simple fact that she wasn't Elizabeth Weir. Still others would just be resistant of change of any kind.
She hadn't been sure, at first, which category to put Ronon in. It obviously wasn't a woman thing, judging from the way he treated Teyla and spoke as reverently about Weir as everyone else around here did. But there was something there, something that made him regard her with wary eyes even now after all these months.
Maybe it shouldn't bother her so much, but she'd never been one to leave an unsolved puzzle alone.
"It's the science thing, isn't it?" Sam asked, still running full speed down the dark hallway, her P-90 stretched back behind her offering sparks of light and sporadic cover fire of their retreat. She could still just make out the flickering shadows of their enemy behind them in the feeble light.
Ahead of her, Ronon waved his hand over the door sensor, growling lowly when it didn't respond.
Sam dropped to her knees by the door, ripping the sensor off the wall as he shifted to cover her.
"What's a science thing?" Ronon asked, his head cocked to one side, listening for any approach with a gun pointed in either direction. At least with no one else left on Atlantis they didn't have to worry about friendly fire. There was nothing friendly left in the city.
"The reason you don't like me," Sam said, her head partially stuck in the panel now as she strained up to reach the manual release.
Ronon fired off a few rounds back down the hallway. "Who says I don't like you?"
Sam felt the lever finally give under her hand, the door next to them hissing open a few inches. Scrambling back to her feet, she grabbed one half of the door while Ronon tugged at the other. It groaned slowly open, just enough for Sam to squeeze through.
He stepped in after her, but remained at the door while Sam ran to the nearest consol. Dammit, there still wasn't any power getting through from the main grid. She abandoned the station and wrenched open the first pair of closet doors.
"You don't like that I am in command," Sam revised as she dug through the bins for the proper tools she needed, dumping them in a pile on the floor. "It's the science thing, right?"
Ronon looked over his shoulder at her and she waved him closer, taking the pack from his back. She unzipped it and pulled out a naquadah reactor, placing it on the floor near a hatch at the back of the consol.
"Math isn't hard to understand," Ronon observed. "People are."
Sam paused to look up at him, her hands still buried deep within the wiring of the hatch. "What, so I'm hard to understand?"
Ronon shrugged, moving back towards the door, and Sam focused her attention on not blowing them both up with her necessarily shoddy job of splicing the electrical system. Shunting the full power of the naquadah reactor into an electric grid not exactly designed for such a flow was surely not the smartest thing she'd ever done, but it was also far from the stupidest either. It didn't help that someone (meaning Rodney) had scrawled on the side: Do Not Touch. Chances are you are in no way smart enough not to blow us all up with you, idiot.
"Let's hope you're wrong, Rodney," Sam muttered before checking the connections one last time and sliding the reactor's core up, rotating it counterclockwise before lowering it back down.
A loud, surging hum filled the room, the lights flickering reluctantly on before finally holding steady. Sam sat back on her heels for a moment, letting out a long breath and rubbing tiredly at her eyes.
"You look surprised that worked," Ronon commented, something strange in his voice yet again.
"I usually am," Sam said as she pushed once more to her feet, ignoring his tone for now and bringing up a display. She tracked the path of now illuminated passages, knowing the light would keep them relatively safe for as long as it lasted. "Dammit."
"What?" Ronon appeared by her shoulder, his eyes similarly tracing over the display. She could see his brow crease when he reached the problem. He reached out a finger. "Why is this area still dark?"
Sam shook her head. "There must be damage somewhere. Probably here, at this relay." She pointed to a junction right on the edge of the powerless section, a good distance from their current position, but at least in the right direction. They might just make it back to the control room yet. If their luck held.
"Can you fix it?" Ronon asked as she packed an assortment of tools into his now empty pack.
Sam handed him the pack, brushing off her hands on her pants and picking up her P-90 once more. "Do I have a choice?" she asked.
Ronon glanced at his watch, confirming what she knew were way too many long hours until sunrise. They needed to get to the control room before that, if they wanted to survive.
"That's what I thought," Sam said when he didn't answer. She squeezed back out of the lab, Ronon close on her heels.
Just as she had hoped, the lights kept the majority of their path clear, though she caught sight of the intruders in several dark passageways branching off of their own. She wasn't going to lie, the wispy, ghost-like aliens still gave her the creeps, she was just letting the light make her feel a bit more optimistic.
The damaged relay was just where she had suspected and she once again kneeled on the ground, pulling open the panel as Ronon stood alert for any aliens proving to be more fearless than the others.
"Most people," Ronon said after a while as if their conversation had never been interrupted, "I pretty much know what they're going to do in any given situation. McKay will complain, Teyla will keep her cool, Sheppard will do the hero thing. Elizabeth would do whatever was right, no matter how illogical."
"And me?" Sam asked.
He laughed as he fired down the hallway, filling the space with the light of his blaster, the acrid smell of singed walls. "You are single handedly rewiring the city while you shoot a gun, and I know you are also brainstorming back up plans and ways out of here, and yet, in the middle of all that, you are having this fairly insane conversation with me."
"What, I can't be a multitasker?" Sam said around a piece of wiring clenched between her teeth.
"I guess I'm just waiting to see what happens when you're bad at something."
Sam's fingers faltered for a moment in their task, all flippancy in their strange banter lost. "That's usually when people end up dead," she said lowly, looking up at him.
He wasn't looking wary any longer as if he'd found her morbid confession reassuring, crazily enough. Sam turned back to the relay, rerouting what crystals she could around the damaged section, and jerry rigging with wire what she couldn't.
There was no warning of the overload, just the sudden liquid feeling of something crawling up her arm and down her side and then a giant flash of sparks, something shoving her back from the relay, her head smacking soundly against the floor.
She must have been out for at least a few seconds, because the next thing she knew, she was staring into blackness, Ronon's arm griping her arm tightly. Her tongue is thick in her mouth, but she manages to mumble, "Did the relay blow?" She was almost hoping she was just blind and that they hadn't, in fact, just lost their one solid defense.
"Pretty sure it did," Ronon said, his gun firing somewhere above her head, the fleeting red light illuminating the ceiling above her.
Her body didn't seem to be getting messages from her brain, because even though she knew she needed to push to her feet and get the hell out of here, she just remained lying on the ground.
"You have to make a run for it," Sam said, her voice sounding distorted, as if she was speaking slowly or her mind was just very sluggish at registering the impulses.
Ronon continued to fire as if she hadn't spoken, his hand now pulling at her arm, lifting her partially off the floor.
"Ronon, just go!" she said, her voice much clearer, but the pain still radiating down her right side. She was going to do nothing but slow him down, and that would get them both killed.
"Is that an order?" he asked, his face near hers as he leaned over to drag her to her feet.
"Yes, dammit," she rasped.
"Well, something you should know about me, Colonel Carter," he said as he hefted her upright, still supporting her with one arm around her back as he started dragging them both down the dark passage. He fired his weapon ahead of them, the ruddy light pushing back the entities for a few precious moments. "I'm not big on backing down."
Sam didn't know if he was referring to their enemies or her order. Probably both. Biting the inside of her cheek, Sam took as much weight on her uncooperative limbs as she could manage and reached across Ronon's chest for the second pulse pistol strapped to his hip. Swinging around behind them, she squeezed off a few shots, driving back the few aliens that had crept up on their flank.
"I think I can accept that," she said.
And who knew, maybe they'd even make it.