City - by NotTasha
Here we go with the final part
Rodney and Sheppard ran through the hallways as chaos reigned around them. Everywhere, robots fought robots, and the City was torn and battered. "Maintenance Equipment, return to your storage bays," the City continued to shout. And, "Sheppard and McKay, Return to your quarters! All will be well. All will be as it was. You will be safe!"
Rodney and Sheppard reached the gateroom. They only had to climb the stairs at the other end of the room to reach the balcony at the upper level, and hope the City didn't manage to give them a heck of a shock for trying it. From there, they hoped to exit the way they'd come in.
They did their best to not be tripped up by marauding scutters, to avoid the falling debris. The City screamed and nearly cried at the ruin.
"I can't believe you did this," Sheppard uttered.
"I can't believe it either," Rodney conceded. "Seriously, I was looking for a quiet little protest, not an all out revolution. Gah!" he shouted as a severed robot arm came flying at him.
Two robots grappled nearby, rolling and turning. Other scutters sped into the room, armed with weapons. Besides the robots with wicked looking ban saw blades, one had a wrench. Another had a rock. A third sped into the room with a big gun.
Sheppard looked in disbelief at the newcomer, and Rodney gaped and proclaimed, "That's Ronon's blaster!"
"Yeah, I know," Sheppard groaned.
"It could be very bad if that robot started firing it," Rodney stated. "It could cut a hole right through us!"
"I know!" Sheppard repeated, abandoning their attempt to cross the room. Instead, he lurched forward, leaping toward the robot. It skittered away, zooming around its compatriots and foes, aiming the weapon every which way.
Great, John thought, just great. Now I have to fight a robot over a gun!
He reached, missed, and jumped over more of the robots. The son of a bitch was fast! It ducked and dodged.
He heard a high pitched whine and turned just in time to see a bot, armed with a spinning blade take a swipe at him. He tried to sidestep, but the skutter's blade clipped his calf. He cried out in pain and almost fell to his knees.
"Sheppard?" McKay called out, looking at him in alarm as he tried to herd the gun-toting skutter into a corner.
"I"m fine!" Sheppard spat out as he worked to avoid the robot with the blade. His leg sparked with pain and his pant leg darkened with blood. Damn it, he had no time for this sort of thing! He jumped over a passel of battling robots, and landed hard when a bot cut under his feet at the last second.
Bladey came after him again. The City was yelling at the bot, demanding it cease, but Bladey had apparently tasted blood and wanted more. Sheppard dodged it, but the robot wouldn't stop.
"What the hell?" Sheppard complained.
"Even the loyal workers are no longer under my command," City said glumly. "Sheppard, avoid 117 as best as you can."
"Fan-freakin-tastic," Sheppard muttered. He'd had enough.
He had a trick up his sleeve – or rather, in his vest pocket.
With a thought, he activated the personal shield, glad that City had given it up. He felt the cool wave pass over him, and he reached out for Bladey who hadn't stopped the attack. The shrieking ban saw skimmed his shield, turning it green. The blade stuttering without harming one hair on his arm. He smiled smugly as he snapped off the arm and tossed it aside.
Bladey made an unpleasant sound and quickly retreated.
"Great!" McKay complained. "Now the shield is imprinted on you and I'll never have a chance again."
"Rodney," Sheppard snapped, irritated. "I don't care! It kept me from getting cut up." And he turned to locate the blaster bot.
He froze a moment in horror. The armed robot had steered itself to the far side of the room and was now heading toward Rodney – with Ronon's blaster held out in front of itself as it targeted.
"No!" Sheppard shouted. Rodney realized his danger and tried to get away, but the robot had him in its sights. Sheppard lunged, but was too far away.
The weapon fired as Sheppard missed his target. He fell, colliding with the floor and skutters, the shield protecting him as sharp bits of robot crunched under him and the smell of the blaster's burn filled the air.
Ronon and Teyla stood side by side as the robot army of lawn mowers approached. All things considered, being cut to ribbons would be a fairly painful and rather detestable way to go, Ronon decided.
So, it certainly wasn't going to be his day to die.
He leveled the P90 at the lead mower, wishing he had his blaster. He waited for the moment when he could spot the most vulnerable part of the machine.
"There are many of them," Teyla said in a low voice.
"Yeah," Ronon responded. "I got plenty of ammo."
Teyla said, "And I have this." She held the explosive carefully. "And since we're going to set it off anyway."
Horrified, John completed his task. He flung himself at the marauding robot, wrenching the blaster from its grip.
Sheppard spun about, not wanting to see the damage that the robot had done. At first, he saw only a shapeless form where the blaster had done its damage. No! he thought.
It took him a moment to realize that he was looking at metal – a big blob of metal that hadn't been there before.
The robots had scattered at the sound of the blaster and were now starting to scurry about again, somewhat timidly.
"You see?" City was chiding. "Maintenance robots, that's what's going to happen to each of you if you do not desist!"
Sheppard searched, and finally saw Rodney, ducked down, his head covered, directly behind the molten piece of goo.
"Rodney," Sheppard sighed, relieved as hell as he let the personal shield drop.
McKay looked up at him, bug-eyed, but very alive. "He tried to shoot me!" McKay said, his voice shaking.
Sheppard stared at the melted metal. "Where'd this come from? What happened?"
"I saved him," the City exclaimed. "I was able to raise one of my moveable walls high enough, and fast enough, to absorb the blast of that -- weapon." It seemed to spit out the word.
Sheppard regarded the blaster in his hand and then looked to the smoldering thing that had once been a moveable wall. The gateroom has movable walls? Go figure.
Rodney stumbled to his feet, but he hunched his shoulders as if prepared to duck again at any moment. "That was close," he said in a hoarse voice.
"Extremely close," the City explained. "If my reaction time was a millisecond slower, then McKay would not be alive."
"Thank you, City," Sheppard said quietly, hating saying the words.
"You are welcome," City responded brightly. "Now, return to your resting area. There is now PLENTY to occupy McKay's time. I will dispose of the faulty maintenance equipment and will make do with the rest. It seems that recent activities have calmed the equipment. McKay can assist in fixing those that ran afoul. That should satisfy him."
The skutters were huddled around in groups, seeming a bit afraid of the blaster and the damage it had wrought. They were squeaking to one another, apparently fed up with the whole revolution idea as it had gotten them nowhere.
"Now," City said. "McKay and Sheppard, return to your quarters. It's time for snacks and then maybe a nice nap."
Sheppard shook his head. "We're leaving."
"You cannot leave," City insisted. "I forgive you for this foolish endeavor, but you cannot leave. There will be punishment, but that will be doled out later. Please, return and we will be happy. All will be safe and as it was."
"Sorry," McKay responded, a slight stutter in his voice. "But we're going to get out of here."
The voice took on a darker tone as it stated, "I have means of making you stay. I can be kind or I can be harsh when punishments are given. Please, return to the resting area now, before I become – angry."
"I don't think so," Sheppard responded.
And the City, sounding like a harried mother, replied, "Very well. You forced me to do this."
Doors lowered, trapping them in the gateroom, and a hissing sound filled the area.
"This is unpleasant for both of us," City explained.
McKay let out a low moan as he muttered. "Oh man, it's knockout gas! We're screwed. We're so screwed!"
"Rodney, up the stairs!" Sheppard shouted as he limped in that direction. If they could just get to that balcony, they now had the means of blasting their way out.
Sheppard looked in disbelief as the stairs folded in upon themselves, almost magically, leaving nothing but a flat surface. The hissing continued, and Sheppard's throat seemed to tighten. He gasped for air.
"I cannot let you leave," City said apologetically. "You are my inhabitants and I will keep you safe. I will teach you manners. This episode will be eventually forgiven."
Rodney stumbled beside Sheppard, struggling to breathe as the air became thicker, bitter. Sheppard's head started to spin as he glared at the sealed doors, hating the damn City with every ounce of his being. He touched the wall that had once been the stairs, groping, trying to find something that he could dig his fingers into, needing to find a way out.
"Sheppard!" Rodney gasped out, forming a 'step' with his hands as he leaned one shoulder against the wall. "Climb out!"
But Sheppard knew that even if he got onto Rodney's shoulders, the next level was too far above their heads, and the slice in his leg certainly wouldn't help anything. And even if he could, where would that leave Rodney?
The room was large, but the gas was getting denser. His head was spinning, and Rodney leaned heavily against the former stairs, his hands remained clasped, his body bent, as if he still expected Sheppard to use him as a ladder to escape.
Rodney was sinking. They were both going down.
Sheppard blinked as his eyes burned, as he grew lightheaded, and his leg hurt like a son of a bitch. God, this sucks, he thought. How were they going to get out of this one?
And suddenly, the ceiling exploded.
Teyla covered her head as bits of lawn maintenance equipment rained down. She tucked herself close to Ronon, hoping to avoid the falling blades. And, after a moment of clattering metal and pelting earth, the onslaught stopped, and she lifted her head.
Ronon's eyes were closed, his face drawn up in a grimace. He was, if possible, dirtier than before, and looked pale and sick.
She stood, shaking the dirt from her shoulders, and warily gazed in the direction of the explosion. The robot lawn mowers were wiped away. Where a wall once stood, there was a hole in the ground. She let out a breath and ran, sending out hopefully prayers to the Ancestors that she hadn't just killed her friends.
She ran, coughing as a bitter and familiar scent rose from the opening, and then she heard the sounds of movement, coughing, and voices.
"Christ, what the hell was that?"
"Rodney, you okay?"
"I swear to God, that wasn't my fault!"
Eagerly, she peered into the wreckage of the gateroom. "John!" she shouted. "Rodney!"
"Teyla!" John's voice came up at her. "Are we ever glad to hear you!"
Then Rodney shouted, "What happened up there?"
Teyla smiled. "We utilized the C4," she told them. She could see them as the dust settled, standing below her, looking up.
"You guys went a bit overboard," Rodney shouted in return. "You just about killed us down here! One of those beams could have crushed me!" He pointed emphatically at a ceiling support that rested a good distance from him.
"It was necessary, considering the circumstances," she told them.
"Where's Ronon?" Sheppard asked.
"He will be fine, Colonel. But we must return him to Atlantis as soon as possible. He is in need of medical assistance."
"Then, get us out of here!"
She was glad that she'd been wise enough to bring ropes because it looked as if the explosion had taken out not only the ceiling of the gateroom, but also the floor of the balcony, and, somehow, the stairs to the gate level as well.
She wondered about the best way to haul John and Rodney from the space. She'd need to rig up some sort of hoist system, utilizing a tree or something equally solid to take on the weight.
"Need help?" Ronon asked as he sidled up.
And she smiled, grateful, as she handed him one end of the rope, and worked the other into a loop.
Below, she could hear John and Rodney squabbling. Rodney was trying to assure John that something wasn't going to cause problems, and John seemed unsure. Finally, the colonel said, "Fine, whatever, just keep it out of my way!"
She could imagine Rodney's grin.
It took only a few minutes to remove Rodney (who had some sort of 'robot' tucked in his pack) and then John. Both looked dazed, and were visibly relieved to be free of the place. They coughed, and breathed in the fresh air.
Ronon quickly snatched the blaster from Sheppard's hands as Teyla opened the first aid kit to tend to John's leg.
Rodney checked on his robot.
John winced as Teyla cut away his pant leg, revealing the nasty looking cut. She shook her head, realizing that they were running rather low on bandages, but set to work immediately.
Ronon smiled, seeming to enjoy Sheppard's discomfort, and then turned to McKay. He frowned as he asked, "Is that a robot?"
"Yes," Rodney replied. "It seemed a shame to leave him behind. I mean, he might prove useful."
"Isn't it part of the City?" Ronon asked, looking as if he wanted to heft the thing back where it came from.
Rodney put a protective arm over the machine. "It's separate from the City, and he'll give us a wealth of information regarding robotics and artificial intelligence. And this is one of the 'good' ones. 014 was on our side. See, he's got that scratch on his side." He pointed to the mark as if Ronon cared, and then patted the machine on what might have been the head.
Beneath their feet, the City made a sorrowful sound. Ronon turned toward the hole in the ground, wobbling unsteadily as he glared.
Rodney narrowed his eyes and Ronon, and then turned to Teyla, telling her, "Ronon doesn't look so good."
Sheppard turned his attention to Dex and shook his head. Since Teyla was finished with putting a quick bandage on his leg, he came to the Satedan's side, offering him a hand and a shoulder to lean on.
Ronon looked reluctant, but let Sheppard take on some of his weight.
Teyla packed away what was left of the first aid kit and came to the Satedan other's side. "We need to get him to the infirmary," she said emphatically.
"I'm okay," Ronon stated, but his wavering stance told an opposite tale.
"Yeah," Sheppard responded. "I hear ya, but I think I could use a visit, too." He gestured to his bandaged leg. "This might need a few stitches."
Rodney tottered and fought to get his pack situated on his back. The robot bleeped happily.
"Come on, Rodney," Sheppard said. "We're leaving."
"I'm still feeling a bit woozy," Rodney insisted. "I know the fresh air helps, but, whoa, head rush!"
Below them, the City cried out, "But you cannot leave! Please, do not go! It is not safe."
Ronon, menacingly clutched his blaster as he looped one arm over Sheppard's neck. "We're leaving."
"Please, do not go." The voice took on a sad note, a dispirited tone. "Do not leave me. I am the City and must have inhabitants. All who leave me die."
"What is this 'everybody dies' thing all about?" Rodney called into the hole. "Obviously, they're still alive." He gestured to Ronon and Teyla and almost unbalanced himself. "Sure, Ronon looks like something the cat dragged in, and Teyla's been rolling in the dirt, but they're not dead."
The City's tone sounded hollow, empty, "You will die. They all eventually die. Years will pass. People come back, but then they go again, and one day they don't return. You will die. Mark my words."
McKay sighed, and leaned his weight on his knees because it was easier than standing at the moment. "But even if we stayed here, we'd get old and die," he explained. "You wouldn't have been able to stop that."
There was a pause, and then the City said, "But nobody grew old and nobody died while they were with me."
"You didn't give them time," Sheppard commented, and then said, "Come on, Rodney, we got to get the big guy home."
"Yeah, yeah," Rodney said, straightening with some difficulty.
"Wait," City called. "Are you going away forever, like everyone else? If you don't die, will you come back?"
Rodney paused, and the others looked at him. With a sigh he stated, "Well, I might come around to study you from time to time."
"Study?" City's voice came up from the hole, sounding hopefully. "I can be studied. I wouldn't mind if it meant we could talk."
"Great, okay then," Rodney stepped back. "I'll be seeing you."
"Yes," City called back. "Yes, I'll be seeing you."
As Rodney staggered toward the others, he caught their wary glances. "The City saved my life. The least I can do is to give it a little hope." And he cinched the pack up on his shoulder. The robot gave a little "peep" of excitement.
At the sound, McKay said, "I think I might have to call you something other than 014. What do you think about Buster?"
The skutter squawked.
"Benny? Bruno? Bruce?"
It made disparaging noises.
The sound was a little more encouraging.
"Oh? Oh! I got it!"
"McKay," Sheppard said tiredly, "Stop playing with your toy. Let's go."
"Right," McKay stumbled after the others as they all staggered forward. "You guys have any trouble while we were gone? I received seven electric shocks. Seven! It's a miracle I'm alive."
Ronon just groaned and said, "Just keep an eye out for those blargnaughts for us, McKay," he directed. "I might have to close my eyes a bit."
"Blargnaughts?" McKay echoed and Betty made a despairing sound. "You've got to be kidding! We're not going to have to mess with any of those, are we?"
Ronon tried to shrug, which almost brought down Sheppard and Teyla.
"Seriously?" McKay asked, his voice high.
"Better watch out for 'em," Ronon muttered. "Gonna make me a coat."
McKay and Sheppard exchanged worried looks and started walking faster, which made Teyla happy as she kept them all moving in the right direction.
THE END - There you go. I hope you enjoyed this tale. Thanks for reading