Chapter 1 - Trap"Unscheduled off-world activation!" Chuck's voice rang out over the blare of the sirens. With a mighty "whoosh" the wormhole connected to the great O of the Stargate, then quickly settled into the water-like surface of the event horizon.
"Which teams are away at present?" Dr. Elizabeth Weir asked, coming out of her office.
"Only Major Lorne's team," Chuck replied.
"Right," Weir nodded. "The mining mission on P7G-262. When were they and Ronon scheduled to return?"
"Not before 1800 hours," Chuck reported. "But it is Ronon Dex's IDC."
"Lower the shield," Weir ordered, and turned towards the stairs that led down to the Stargate floor. She had barely reached the bottom when the event horizon rippled, and a tall figure with flying dreads came tumbling through. He was bleeding from several injuries, including a nasty gash at his hairline, and collapsed as soon as he had cleared the gate.
"Medical team to the gateroom, stat," Elizabeth called over her com, then ran towards Ronon who was trying to get to his feet. Behind him, the wormhole shut down.
"Ronon? Where are Major Lorne and his team?" Weir asked, dropping to her knees next to the Satedan, putting a restraining hand on his shoulder to keep him from rising.
"Taken... wraith," Ronon gasped. "Mining was... a trap. They are... wraith... worshi..." His eyes rolled back into his head, and he collapsed. Elizabeth barely managed to keep his head from hitting the floor. She heard the medical team arriving at a run. As she was getting to her feet to give them access to the patient, Weir noticed that a device of clearly Ancient design had slipped from Ronon's long fingers. She picked it up and gave it a quick once-over. I looked like a kind of intricate remote control. She had never seen anything like it on Atlantis before. Tapping her earpiece, Elizabeth said, "Dr. McKay? Would you come to my office, please? I think I have something for you."
A couple of hours later, John Sheppard sauntered into the sickbay. A very young looking medic was standing by Ronon's bed, writing busily on a tablet.
"How's he doing, Miss..."
"Keller. Dr. Keller," the young woman replied without lifting her eyes from the screen.
"Sorry, Dr. Keller," Sheppard corrected himself. "When will I be able to talk to him?"
"Tomorrow morning at the earliest," Keller replied. "Dr. Beckett had to perform some minor surgery to extract pieces of wood and metal from his wounds. The anesthetics Mr. Dex was given will let him sleep through the night."
Sheppard nodded. "I understand," he said with a very sincere face. Then, putting on his most disarming smile, he added, "But if he should wake up before that, you will let me know immediately, won't you?"
If Dr. Keller was impressed by his charm she didn't give any indication of it. Looking the Lieutenant Colonel fully in the face, she said, "I suspect a concussion, which means that he should be disturbed as little as possible over the next few days. I take it that your request to speak with him is urgent?"
"Very urgent," Sheppard replied, now serious again. "Apart from the fact that we need to know what exactly happened to Major Lorne's missing team, he has brought back a piece of Ancient technology. Before Dr. McKay starts experimenting with it, it would be helpful to learn what purpose it serves."
Dr. Keller nodded. "I understand. I have the night watch, and I will summon you immediately should he regain consciousness."
"Fair enough," Sheppard replied, and left the infirmary.
Rodney McKay was sitting at a workbench in his lab, surveying the new piece of Ancient technology through a magnifying glass. He looked up when he heard Sheppard entering the room.
"So?" he asked eagerly. "What did he say?"
"Nothing," Sheppard sighed, dropping into a swivel chair and turning around in lazy circles. "He's still out cold from surgery, and expected to sleep the rest of the night."
McKay rolled his eyes. "That would mean over 12 hours wasted. Just let me get this thing plugged in and see what it can do."
"What part of 'no' is it you don't understand, McKay?" Sheppard asked. "You've had enough close calls before to know that we are not dealing with electronic toys here. The Ancients built some really powerful stuff, and since for once we have a source of first-hand information on this thing you will put a check on your curiosity and wait until we've heard Ronon's story."
"But..." sputtered Rodney.
"This discussion is over, " Sheppard announced, getting up from the chair. "I suggest we get a bite to eat and then a few hours of sleep. Knowing Ronon, he will be awake a lot earlier than that new doctor expects."
McKay cast a last, longing glance at the device as he got up from his chair, and then followed Sheppard through the door, talking a mile a minute and waving his arms around as usual when he was excited.
It seemed to Sheppard that he had only just closed his eyes when a sharp beep from his com awoke him. Sleepily he fumbled for the earpiece on the table next to his bed, and answered.
"Colonel Sheppard," a slightly flustered female voice said, "you asked me to inform you immediately when the patient regained consciousness. Mr. Dex is awake now, and has asked for you."
"I'll be right there," Sheppard promised. Now that he was fully awake the light came on by itself, the city of Atlantis reacting to his powerful gene. He cast a quick glance at his alarm clock, and noted with a grin that it showed 02:17. His com crackled again.
"I'd appreciate it if you could make it quick. I can't say how much longer I can keep Mr. Dex from getting out of bed and going off to find you."
"Tell him to cool it, and tell him also that's an order from me," Sheppard instructed her. Quickly slipping into a black sweat suit and a pair of sneakers, he headed out to the sickbay.
Dr. Keller was expecting him. She appeared rather agitated, her cheeks were flushed and there was a thin film of perspiration on her forehead. Yeah, Ronon tended to have that effect on medical personnel. Stepping over to the Satedan's bed Sheppard pulled up a chair and sat down, while Dr. Keller went to the other side and pointedly took Ronon's wrist between her fingers, checking his pulse. Sheppard looked up at her.
"If you will please excuse us, Doctor?"
"Sorry, I won't," was the firm reply. "I am letting you question this man against my better judgement. Should I decide that he is unfit to continue, I will stop the debrief immediately."
The glare Ronon sent her way could have drilled a hole through a stone wall. Still, it didn't appear to fluster her.
"I'm fine," he growled. But the young woman seemed unimpressed.
"I'll be the judge of that," she replied. "And now I suggest you begin, since I am only willing to give you at most 10 minutes for this."
Ronon was still staring at her, so Sheppard cleared his throat to get the Satedan's attention.
"Just tell me what happened on that planet," he requested.
"Everything seemed normal at first. They gave us two escorts who were supposed to show us around this secret mining operation. We hiked up into the mountains. Finally we came to a plateau. It was totally bare, no cover. That's when we heard the darts..."
Ronon broke off and briefly closed his eyes. Concern clearly written on her face, Dr. Keller tried to put her hand on what was visible of his forehead under the thick bandage around his massive head, but Ronon brushed the hand away and returned his gaze to Sheppard.
"Our two escorts pulled little machines out of their robes, and one of them disappeared in a white light. The other one was closer to me, so I grabbed him just before he activated it. Next thing I knew we're standing at the edge of the forest, about half a mile away. There was no sign of the other guy. I knocked out the one I had with me, and then all I could do was watch while the Darts' culling beams picked up Lorne and his men."
Sheppard angrily clenched his fists. "So it was a trap."
Ronon nodded, wincing as the movement shot daggers of pain through his head.
"Yeah. Seems they're Wraith worshippers."
"Dammit!" Sheppard stood and began angrily pacing the floor.
"They must have realized that one of us had escaped. I met several patrols in the forest, and when I got back to the gate it was heavily guarded," Ronon continued his report.
"It must have been, for you to return in such a state," Sheppard quipped.
"It's just a couple of scratches, really," the big Satedan replied, sitting up and pushing away his blanket. "When are we going back?"
"Now, just a minute," Dr. Keller interrupted. "You are not going anywhere until you're over this concussion, and I have pulled your stitches."
Ronon ignored her and prepared to swing his legs over the side of the bed.
"Hold it right there, big guy," Sheppard interrupted. "Nobody is going back to that planet anytime soon. One, it's probably crawling with Wraith by now, and two, Lorne and his men will be long gone, taken to some cruiser or hive that was orbiting the planet."
"But I can't just sit here doing nothing," Ronon growled.
"Yes you can," came the reply from Dr. Keller. She was holding a syringe.
"Just try injecting me with whatever that is!" Ronon warned her heatedly, but then his eyes became unfocused and he sank back against the pillows.
"Too late, it was already in your IV," Dr. Keller explained to the drowsy man, pulling the blanket up again. Before Ronon's eyes closed there was an accusing look of betrayal in them.
Dr. Keller turned to Sheppard. "I hope you got what you wanted," she said.
Sheppard looked at her with new respect. "Yes, thank you. You managed to figure him out pretty quickly. How much did you give him?"
"Twice the regular dose. And judging from his recovery after the surgery, it will probably only last about half as long as usual."
Sheppard nodded, then leaned closer to the doctor, lowering his voice.
"Can I give you some free advice?" he asked, and when she nodded he added, "Try not to be around when he wakes up."
The first hint of a smile appeared on Dr. Keller's serious face. She nodded back at Sheppard before returning to the bed to make sure her patient was resting comfortably.