"Hmm," Rodney said down at his tablet screen where he sat in the jumper next to John.
John guided the jumper lazily through the void of space, the massive blue ringed planet they were surveying came into view.
"There's a large magnetic field coming from the rings. Move us in closer."
John did as he was asked and slowly the planet filled the whole windscreen.
"A bit faster, we've got another six planets to scan after this one."
"And we've got all day. Just admiring the view."
"Yes it's very pretty. Take some photos and admire it later," Rodney said, now frowning at the tablet data he saw.
John sighed and the jumper gained speed as he guided it towards the rings.
"That's odd," Rodney said with a slight furrow across his brow. "The magnetic field is interfering with the readings but one of the objects in orbit appears to be moving erratically."
Rodney looked up and the jumper's on screen sensors activated and zoomed into the area in question.
John squinted, then his eyes widened, "Is that…"
"A ship," Rodney finished with glee.
Just as they got nearer, the object flew out of the rings and directly towards them.
John clicked the comm. open, "This is Lt. Col. John Sheppard of Puddle Jumper 6 to alien vessel, please respond."
Rodney grinned, "We come in peace."
John rolled his eyes.
The ship zipped towards them, then without warning it shot rapid red bolts towards the jumper.
"Whoa!" Rodney cried as he was shaken in his seat as most of the bolts hit home. Sparks flew from the rear compartment crystal tray.
John gritted his teeth and began to weave and dodge the jumper.
"Cloak?!" Rodney asked.
"Broken, so's the shield."
Rodney got up and ran into the rear compartment, swapping crystals round but most were burnt and useless. He yelped as the tray spat sparks and singed his fingers.
"Firing drones." John said in a calm voice.
The weapons shot out and tracked the attacking vessel, but its rapid fire weapons soon took care of the drones without damaging it. Many more shots hit the jumper and Rodney swayed. John was less lucky when his console exploded. He slumped down unconscious.
"Sheppard!" Rodney cried and went back into the cockpit.
The jumper was spinning out of control, the screen alternating between the blue planet and star covered space. The ship rocked and jolted under more impacts and the lights went out as it lost power.
Rodney's eyes were wide with terror. John still had a strong pulse and Rodney lifted him and placed him on the floor gently. Blood was leaking from a cut on his temple and there was a burn on his cheek but on quick inspection he seemed otherwise unharmed. Rodney had more pressing matters such as them both not being blown to bits.
Rodney thumped down in the pilot's seat and grabbed his tablet from where it hung in the co-pilots position, hastily plugging it into the pilot's console. There was a loud clang from the rear hatch which made Rodney jump. He just managed to siphon enough power from the tablet's batteries to power the sensors for a moment. "Uh oh," he said and gulped.
He grabbed his sidearm and stood up over Sheppard facing the rear compartment. Darkness closed over the windscreen as the attacking ship swallowed the jumper. Rodney's hands were shaking and sweaty in panic and he held the gun so tightly his fingers were white.
The rear hatch opened and Rodney fired twice blindly, not sure if he hit anything, then a red bolt flew through the jumper and slammed into his chest, throwing him back. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.
John woke up with a groan, clutching his head as an all encompassing pain went through his temples. It receded to a dull throb as he held it. He opened his eyes and found himself looking up at the ceiling of a puddle jumper. Then he remembered – the attack!
"McKay…?" He rolled over and closed his eyes waiting for the pain of that movement to dissipate. He blinked and looked around. Only starlight and the bright blue planet rolling up the screen illuminated the interior. He located Rodney curled up on the floor in the cockpit, facing away from him. John crawled over to him and rolled him onto his back and frowned.
Rodney had blood splashes on his neck and under his chin but was unresponsive to being moved. His chest rose and fell shallowly in breath and John felt a rapid pulse tapping against his fingers when he pressed them against the bloody neck. John checked him over for injuries, pushing up his shirt which was stuck in places then balked. There was what looked like a burn going down the centre of Rodney's chest, so severe the skin was mottled in places. It was gory bright red with blood and the coppery smell was overwhelming. He frowned at the ridge in the centre of the injury which wasn't as badly damaged. Then John realised both their tac vests were missing. The vest had probably saved Rodney's life, whatever had happened to him was clearly meant to kill.
He checked Rodney over more thoroughly and found dark purple bruises on his back.
John went into the rear compartment to get some medical supplies and flashlights but the overhead storage nets were hanging down and empty. "Huh." He lifted up the rear seat but all the gear had been taken. Even the boxes at the rear of the cockpit were open and empty. The whole jumper had been ransacked - even the crystals from the overhead tray in the rear compartment were gone. "This could be a problem."
There was a cough and a weak voice asked, "What happened to me?"
John went back to Rodney's side and sat down. Rodney had his eyes tightly closed in pain.
John asked, "I was hoping you could tell me. Someone really did a number on you."
"All I remember is the attack, the ship getting eaten and being shot."
John said, "I'm afraid there's some bad news. We have no power. They took everything including the medical kit otherwise I'd have given you some morphine by now."
"We're still in space?"
Rodney finally opened his eyes but still hadn't moved, his hand twitched towards his hurt chest, but John quickly grabbed it.
Rodney said, "Well then they didn't get it all otherwise we'd be frozen by now. We can still breathe. There's still gravity. They must've missed the integrated life support back up."
John tugged Rodney's shirt back down to cover the wound. With no medical supplies John had no choice but to leave it alone. Rodney coughed and squeezed his eyes shut as tears were forced out. Blood appeared on his lips and he gasped for breath. John rolled him onto his side and he coughed onto the deck. When he was done, he licked his lips and grimaced. He drew in a wheezing breath, "Ow, that's not good."
Rodney's eyes widened as he took in John's appearance for the first time. "You're hurt too!"
John dabbed the cut on his temple gingerly and winced. The headache was throbbing away but that was the least of their concerns. "I'm fine." Rodney looked dubious but didn't question him further.
John checked his bare wrist for the time. They must be overdue for check in by now. He had no radio either. "Feels like we got mugged," he said under his breath. Then he had an idea, "Can you reroute the power from life support to engines or communication?"
Rodney kept his eyes shut as he spoke hoarsely, "Tablet?"
"Sorry, they took it."
Rodney looked sad at that, "But the data…"
"We can get it again, we can't get another McKay again."
"Or a Sheppard. Okay, get to the rear crystal tray and I'll tell you which ones to swap round."
"Oh, um, it's kind of an ex crystal tray now."
"The one behind the wall?"
John glanced over at the panel on the floor that had been ripped from the wall and the gutted console revealed by it. "Nothing."
"T-the one under the pilot's console?"
John shuffled over to it and poked it but all the crystals were black. "No go."
Rodney sighed. "No then."
"How much air do we have on the life support?"
"A few hours." Rodney coughed again and shuddered. "My chest hurts."
John frowned, "Where does it hurt? Sharp or dull?"
Rodney frowned and coughed again to find out. "Everywhere. It's getting hard to breathe." John propped Rodney up against himself and held him up. "Better, thanks," Rodney said.
There was a loud clang from the rear hatch and Rodney flinched in John's arms. "Not again," he said.
Before John could ask what he meant, the jumper's spinning stopped as they began to move away from the planet at speed. "I think it's our rescue."
"Not a… moment too… soon." Rodney said then became limp as he fell unconscious.
John only spent one night in the infirmary while his concussion was monitored. Unfortunately Rodney's injuries were severe and he was going to be a guest in the infirmary for quite some time. He had to have surgery to repair his punctured lung and Carson had tidied up the chest wound and was considering skin grafting if it didn't heal properly.
As Carson was relaying this information to Rodney's team and Elizabeth, he said "Bloody good thing he had that vest on or he'd be a goner. Whatever hit him broke three of his ribs, driving one into his lung and he only got burnt down the midline where there's the gap for the zip."
"He said he got shot." John said.
"Aye, well I wouldn't want to meet whoever shot him."
A few days later, John was snoozing in the chair next to Rodney's bed when a croaky voice said, "Hey."
John snorted and woke up.
Rodney huffed a laugh then started to cough and gasp for breath in great distress. It was painful to listen to and made Carson come running over. John sat there helplessly as Carson gave Rodney some water then instructed him to breathe deeply and evenly with him. Rodney was a little red after he recovered, his features pinched in discomfort. Carson adjusted the cannula under Rodney's nose and rearranged the leads attached to and going into him where he'd displaced them.
"That was not fun," Rodney said quietly after Carson had left.
"That's an understatement." John sat forward where he had been lolling in the chair as he spoke. "Now that you're more coherent and not dribbling as much, I've got a few questions."
"Did you see what shot you or get a good look at the ship that attacked us?"
Rodney furrowed his brow at the memory, "No."
"Animal, vegetable or mineral?"
John raised his eyebrows.
Rodney grimaced, "I can't remember."
"Try really hard. Are we in danger?"
Rodney started to wheeze in panic, "I… I don't know. I can't… remember."
John could see Carson hovering looking unhappily in their direction as John upset Rodney. John rested his hand over Rodney's and squeezed gently, "It's okay, Rodney. The sensor logs got taken with everything else. Try to remember and let me know if you think of anything."
Rodney's breaths evened out and his eyelids drifted closed as he fell asleep and continued to heal.