When the members of Team Sheppard are held captive on a Wraith hive, only one member can hope to save them.
Spoilers: Set sometime after 3x18 'Submersion'. Slight John/Teyla UST at the end if you're looking closely.
Author's Note: Okay, this still isn't the long piece I've promised some of you, but apparently all of your reviews inspired the Muses.
Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate Atlantis, its characters or Star Wars.
Finally, the onslaught of images and emotions reaching a pinnacle, the queen forced the woman to look once more into the face of the man who stood in front of her gun. Hazel eyes met hers, resigned but pleading. She squeezed the trigger.
Shots rang out.
The queen lay on the floor of her chamber. Two bullets to the chest and one well-placed shot to the head had proven enough to bring her down. Teyla could only hope now that none of the wraith realized their queen was no longer amongst them. While imitating the queen was not difficult, she was not sure how long she could keep up the charade.
Teyla had seen flashes in the queen's mind of what she had planned. She would force Teyla to shoot her teammates at point-blank range. Then she would indulge in the anguish and despair that Teyla felt at killing her friends, and take delight in denying Teyla both forgiveness and such an easy ending.
From the beginning, she had known that she could not fight her way out, but she could use subterfuge. As the queen had revealed her plans, Teyla quietly slipped into the queen's mind. Too wrapped up in anticipation, and underestimating humans, the queen did not open her eyes to notice that Teyla had never left the room.
Teyla let the queen believe she was leading her along the corridors to the cell. It was not difficult to imagine her teammates standing at her arrival, or their reactions when she pulled a gun. The emotions were easy to convey: Teyla had been at this point before with John when he was possessed by Thalen, so she let her feelings spill forth.
The shots had been real, but they had not been aimed at her friends. Instead, they had taken down a queen.
John sat on one side of the cell, staring at his hands while he worried about Teyla. On the other side, Rodney sat and Ronon paced, their minds also with their teammate.
Suddenly, the drone that had been on guard in the hallway outside their cell turned and walked away. A moment later, it returned with its hands full of their tac vests and weapons. John and Ronon exchanged puzzled looks before the drone dropped their things outside the door and opened the cell.
"Don't ask, just go," John said, dragging Rodney out with him when the scientist voiced his opinion about this being a trap. In seconds, all three men had put on their gear and were ready to leave.
Ronon was raising his gun to shoot the drone, which was still standing there dumbly, when John grabbed his arm. "Make sure you only stun it," he said.
"Why?" Ronon growled. "That's just another one that can come after us."
"Yes," John said impatiently, "but obviously something is up and the alarm hasn't been raised yet. If Teyla is in control of the queen, we don't want to alert them that something is off by killing one of them."
"Do they actually know when a drone is killed?" Rodney whispered frantically.
"I don't know," John said. "But I really don't want to find out right now."
Ronon stunned the drone and they stepped into the hallway. "We need to find Teyla," he said, heading off in the direction the drones had marched her earlier.
Despite her superb physical and mental condition, Teyla could feel the effort of hiding the queen's death weighing upon her. She had begun to walk from the throne room to her friends' cell but had to pause in the middle of the hallway to keep her concentration. It was better to keep her friends safe until they found her. Convincing a drone to release them took little effort.
At the edge of her consciousness she could feel some of the male wraith beginning to question the queen, suspicious that something was wrong. She soothed them as best she could, but also struggled to control her nervousness while convincing them to stay away longer.
Teyla could feel herself shaking by the time running footsteps came pounding around the corner. She spared enough concentration to open her eyes, rejoicing when she saw her team speed down the hallway toward her. "I only need to fool them for a short while longer," she said breathlessly.
Already understanding what she was doing, Rodney grabbed her hand to guide her through the ship as she continued her deception. John and Ronon took point and rear guard, and together the team kept running.
In what had, sadly, become a routine for them, Sheppard immediately hotwired a dart and took off toward the open space where the others stood. Just as the scooping beam reached them, Teyla let down her defenses and ended the ruse.
Sheppard managed to pilot the dart out of the hive ship with no resistance, as it took the remaining wraith time to organize themselves and deal with the loss of their queen. However, knowing there were still wraith reinforcements on the ground and finding the stargate already engaged, Sheppard rematerialized the team near the cloaked jumper they had originally used to get to the planet.
He had dialed down the beaming device so his teammates would still be conscious after their reappearance, but while Ronon and Rodney came out just fine, Teyla listed to the side and would have fallen completely if Ronon hadn't quickly reacted. In one fluid motion he picked her up, got his bearings, and led a strangely calm scientist to the jumper. Rodney grabbed the remote out of a vest pocket and had the team inside in moments.
"Sheppard, you still with us or have you died in some crazy attempt to save us?" Rodney asked sarcastically as he headed up to the cockpit and powered up the jumper.
"Still here, Rodney," Sheppard said, sounding a bit breathless. "Could use a ride, though. Just make sure you stay cloaked."
"No, really?" the scientist answered without pausing in his preflight check. "We'll be there in a minute unless you've managed to land in some insanely inaccessible spot that you couldn't park an Ford Focus in."
"A Ford Focus? Is that really all you could think of?" John mocked. "Think of those UPS drivers. Their parking is pure magic every day."
Rodney grumbled but turned to focus on his piloting. The colonel used the time to climb up out of the small gorge where he had finally ditched the dart. He hadn't wanted to park it too close to the jumper in case he was followed, and leaving the ship in such a difficult area could probably buy him some more time from the ground patrols. He had put the canopy back up after climbing out in order to make the drones think twice about whether their quarry was still inside, and then hightailed it up the gorge and into the trees.
He told himself that the dents and dings on the dart's surface and the dirt piled on top of the nose were 'strategic camouflage'. These things were a pain to fly without any actual windows. At least none of his teammates had seen his landing. He would have to teach Teyla how to fly one, because there must be some psychic component he was missing out on.
Sheppard could hear the faint whine of darts in the distance when he arrived at a large clearing. A few moments later he could feel air displaced and then Ronon leaned out of nothingness to guide him to the entrance.
"Rodney, get us into space and stay cloaked," he said before the back hatch had even closed.
"Are you sure you don't want to take over?" Rodney asked, almost hopefully.
"No, McKay, you're doing great," Sheppard said. He always meant for Rodney to have more flight training, and this was as good a time as any. Besides, after his rough landing and run up to the clearing, John needed to rest. Not that he would ever admit to that…
"How's she doing?" he asked, turning to Ronon. The Satedan stood against a bulkhead watching Teyla, whom he had gently placed on one of the benches as soon as they had entered the jumper.
"She keeled over as soon as we rematerialized," Ronon said. "I think this took a lot out of her."
"I can't believe she not only took on a queen but an entire hive," Rodney added from the front. Teyla had filled them in with a few breathless sentences on their way to the dart bay.
"She's tough," John said, then added, "…but I'd hate to have this go to her head."
"SHE can hear you," Teyla murmured, slowly opening her eyes. She struggled to sit up and John reached forward to help her.
"You were great out there," he told her when she was settled and appeared to be more awake. He gingerly sat down beside her on the bench while Ronon sat on the opposite bench.
Teyla's smile faded a bit when the images of her teammates at the end of her gun flashed through her mind. Feeling weariness drag her down again, she unconsciously propped her head against the colonel's shoulder. If he had any qualms about this, he did not say anything.
"I simply did what I needed to do. I knew I could not overpower her with brute force, so I was required to be more subtle," she said. John cracked a bit more of a smile as he pictured Obi-wan Kenobi telling an anxious Han Solo that sometimes there were alternatives to fighting.
For a while Teyla dozed, coming awake with a gasp whenever the queen's images found their way into her weary mind. Each time, she would smile at the concerned looks directed her way and relish the feeling of safety and serenity from the closeness of her teammates. Only one thing would make this better.
"Want to do the honors?" Ronon asked, handing her a radio detonator a while later.
Still propped against John, Teyla smiled and took the device from Ronon. She could see the hive ship through the viewscreen over Rodney's shoulder. During their escape, Ronon and John had stopped long enough to plant C4 on the engine components Rodney deemed would create the 'biggest bang'. Still cloaked, they were hovering at a distance that hopefully was close enough for the detonator to reach but far enough away that the jumper would have time to make a run for it.
"Fire in the hive," Teyla said, hitting the detonator.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then suddenly, a fiery burst was visible near the center of the hive. More explosions followed.
"Get us out of here, Rodney," Sheppard said, sounding tired. Without a word, the permanently disabled hive became more distant and then disappeared as McKay turned the craft back toward the planet. There were probably some drones still alive in parts of the ship that hadn't been exposed to vacuum and also on the planet below, but those likely would soon perish in the cold of space or at the hands of another hive.
"So, home?" Rodney asked hopefully as he flew back toward the planet hosting the stargate.
"Sounds good," came a gruff reply from Ronon. When no one else answered, Rodney turned to the back to find Sheppard and Teyla propped up against each other, asleep, exhausted from their ordeals. Teyla still clutched the now-useless detonator in her hands like a child might hold a favorite toy, and a small smile played at her lips.
Rodney and Ronon grinned at each other. "How about a picture first?" Rodney asked mischievously. Without hesitation, Ronon handed Rodney his backpack and Rodney dug around for his digital camera. Even after a day like this, sometimes home could wait just a bit longer.