Author's Note: Sorry about the delay in posting this chapter, but life kidnapped me for a little while and I had no chance to write. Thanks to all my readers and especially anyone who reviewed. Very much appreciated!
Rory grinned a little as the darkened lab immediately lit up at her entrance. She'd always admired Ancient technology, having a well-known hobby for pulling anything mechanical apart and trying to put it back together again, but she'd never really had a chance to play with it. Not like this, anyway.
"So why are we here, again?" Rodney complained, entering behind her and jolting her from her thoughts. "Oh, yeah, that's right... you won't tell us."
"I did tell you, Rodney," Rory replied, a little amused at the caustic scientist. "We're here so I can show you how to find Adria."
"And we're standing in the middle of the holographic room because... what? You want to listen to some more Ancient history?"
Rory rolled her eyes. "Just watch and learn, Doc," she said.
Moving to the small podium at the edge of the room, she opened the side panel and began to put out crystals. "Hey, hey, hey!" Rodney snapped. "Don't do that! You might break something!"
Glaring at him over her shoulder, she scowled. "I know what I'm doing, Rodney," she replied. "I was ascended, remember?"
By now, everyone else had caught up to them after leaving Morgan le Fay in the capable hands of Doctor Keller. Rory was a little worried about the other woman – her strength was flagged a lot faster than they thought it would. Returning to her task while her doubts continued to plague her, Rory inserted the small crystal Morgan had retrieved from the hidden lab into one of the spaces. Then she proceeded to reorder the other crystals and prayed to anyone listening that this would actually work.
When a hologram flickered into life, Rory turned to smile triumphantly at Rodney. "See?" she said. "I told you I knew what I was doing."
"Congratulations," Rodney said sarcastically. "You've found the Pegasus galaxy."
Above them, covering the ceiling of the room was indeed a holographic display of the planets in the Pegasus galaxy, much like the display Daniel used when searching for the Holy Grail. Rolling her eyes again and wondering if doing that too often would give her a headache, Rory pointed to the blinking red dot in the centre of the rotating planets. "No, I found Adria's lab," she said. "I thought you were supposed to be some kind of genius?"
Attempting to halt any bickering that would spring up between the two, Sam decided to step in at this point. "I thought you said you could find Adria?" she asked.
Rory sighed. "Well, I'm pretty sure that's where she is," she said.
"Pretty sure?" Rodney said scathingly. "You're betting the safety of two galaxies on 'pretty sure'?"
"Look, it's her favourite place in two galaxies right now. If she's not there already, she will be soon." Rory glared at Rodney. "And I'm sorry, Rodney, but it's not like I could microchip her or something!"
"How can you be so sure that's where she is?" Sheppard asked.
"Because without her powers of ascension, Adria is vulnerable. She no longer has her armies to shelter her," Rory answered. "And that lab contains the one thing she needs."
"A personal shield," Sam said.
Rory grinned. "Exactly!"
"How do you know that?" Rodney asked. "And, more concerning to me, is how do you know where Adria's secret lab is?"
"It's simple," Rory explained. "Some Ori devices, such as a personal shield, require a power source that gives off a specific type of radiation, which means they can be tracked. And with Adria travelling through the 'gates, trying to stop SG-1, it was only a matter of time before she created a lab somewhere, in case she needed it."
Cam shrugged, having listened the whole conversation in silence. It was only then that Rory realised that Teyla, Ronon, Daniel and Vala were all absent. "Seems simple enough," he said. "We find the lab, pick up Adria and be home for dinner."
"When are things ever that simple?" Sam asked him, amused.
Cam grinned at her. "There's always a first time," he said.
Suddenly, an emergency call went out over the radio. "Colonel Carter to the infirmary," came the voice of a slightly stressed Doctor Keller.
Imagining the worst, Rory took off after everyone else, heading straight for the emergency. Believing Morgan would be the one in trouble, she had not been prepared for the sight that confronted her. Daniel and Teyla both lay on beds, their eyes shut and medical staff hovering over them impatiently. Vala was sitting on a bed, having a light shone in her eyes and Ronon was watching everything with a stony gaze.
"What happened?" Sam asked as soon as she walked in.
Ronon shrugged. "We were walking down the corridor and Teyla and Daniel suddenly went flying," he said. "Next thing I know, I'm slamming into the wall hard enough to knock me out. When I came to, Daniel and Teyla were lying unconscious on the floor and that one was kneeling over me."
With a jerk of his chin, he motioned to Vala, who scowled in reply. "Well, that's the last time I try to save you!" she huffed.
"What was it?" Sam asked. "Some kind of explosion?"
"No," Vala replied. "We were attacked."
"You were attacked?" Cam echoed, sounded sceptical.
"Yes," Vala nodded. "Believe me, I know when I'm being attacked."
Sam cursed under her breath, her mind immediately picking up on what went wrong. Cam and Teal'c weren't far behind her. "Please tell me those things are all locked up somewhere, Sam?" Cam asked.
"The ones we have back on Earth are, but who know how many others are out there," Sam replied.
"What are you talking about?" Rodney scowled, clearly hating the fact that he couldn't keep up with the conversation.
"A Sodan cloaking device," Teal'c answered.
"Wait, you mean those things that make someone completely invisible?" Sheppard snapped. "Someone wearing one of those things is currently running around Atlantis?"
"Indeed," Teal'c replied.
"Then why the hell did they attack Jackson and Teyla?" Cam asked. "There are millions of other targets in here... the generators, the ZPM..."
Before anyone else could reply or anything could be done about the recent twist in events, the power suddenly shut off, plunging the room into darkness. Several people muttered curses, before Sam tapped her radio. "Chuck, what's going on?" she asked.
"Chuck?" she asked when she just got static in reply.
"Oh, that can't be good," Cam said.
Rory, who'd been standing just inside the doorway listening to everything, felt a tremor of dread go through her when the lights went out. She wasn't sure why she knew, but she had the impression that something exceptionally bad was about to happen – as in the next level above screwed.
Struck by a hazy memory, she felt her eyes go wide. "Oh, no!" she breathed.
Pivoting sharply on her heel, she hiked up the skirts of her robes and sprinting away, completely ignoring the shouts behind her or the bewildered personnel she passed in the corridors. "Rory, wait!" Cam called out behind her, but she just kept going, her memory guiding her through the corridors.
She wasn't sure how long she ran, but her breath was heaving by the time she stumbled to a stop and the feeling of dread had only increased. Turning the corner, she cursed when she saw the doors to the uncatalogued lab standing open. "Hey, wait!" Cam said, grabbing her arm before she could enter the lab.
Rory was a little surprised to see he was also panting a little – she must have run further than she thought. "Where are you going?" he asked her.
"The lab," Rory said. "I have to look in the lab."
With a nod, Cam let go of her but she caught the silent warning in his eyes; she wasn't supposed to go tearing off on her own again. Rory turned away before rolling her eyes. Before she ascended she'd been a Marine, for crying out loud! She could handle just as much as he could.
Stepping into the room, the lab didn't light up, which could only mean bad things for the ZPM. Rory moved to the centre console, wincing when she saw someone had completely destroyed the crystals in the slide-out panel. Biting her lip, she bent down to peer inside, before she cursed loudly.
"What is it?" Cam asked.
Rocking back on her heels, Rory looked up at him, her mind still spinning from what she had just found – or rather, what she just hadn't found. "She took it," Rory said simply.
"Who took what?" Cam asked.
"Adria," Rory replied. "She took the crystal."
"Adria?" Cam echoed. "Adria was here?"
Silently, Rory nodded. "She's the one that attacked Daniel. She probably would have tried to attack us too, but couldn't risk finding us before she was discovered. It would also explain why Vala was the only one not knocked unconscious."
"How did she get here?" Cam snapped.
Rory shrugged. "With a Sodan cloaking device?" she replied. "She could have slipped in with any of the teams coming back through the 'gate."
He sighed, looking like he'd just heard news he didn't want to have heard. "Yeah, that would be my guess too," he agreed. "We'd better do tell Sam."
"It's worse than that, Colonel," Rory said. "The crystal was – is – very important."
"Important, how?" Cam asked, his blue eyes narrowing.
"Merlin's anti-Ori device is not the only one. He had a previous version that was mostly destroyed," Rory answered. "The Ancients believed it was no longer a threat, but Merlin managed to hide enough of the pieces away that if someone found them with the right kind of knowledge..."
Rory trailed off, not needing to complete the thought. "So, what?" Cam asked. "Adria is trying to build her own anti-Ori device?"
"She's trying to get revenge, would be my guess," Rory answered. "She always hated the Ancients and being attacked by one probably hasn't helped that. With her powers of ascension bound, she might have thought to hit back in the only way she can."
"By killing the Ancients with Merlin's device."
Rory nodded, even though it hadn't sounded like a question. "Yeah," she agreed. "And now she has her hands on the power crystal."
"Come on," Cam said. "Sam needs to know this."
Nodding, she moved to follow him, but a second later, she felt the floor buckle and twist beneath her feet. Pain slammed into her and she felt a roaring in her ears as her mind took a moment to catch up and work out what was going on. Fear ripped through her as she realised the corridor around her had just exploded, before she slammed painfully into something and the world went black.