It had been a routine mission that had actually turned out to be routine. They'd gone to complete a trade deal that had been arranged weeks earlier. Rodney and his science team got what appeared to be an Ancient data-storage device to study, the mess got a new stock of grains and something that looked and tasted a lot like cabbage and the inhabitants of M27-PR9 got some help with an irrigation project and Tava beans (which, though apparently plentiful in the rest of the Pegasus galaxy, couldn't be grown on M27-PR9).
There had been no angry natives, no flying arrows and no message sent through with their GDO to say that they were coming in hot. So they were suprised to follow the laden MALP out of the wormhole to the sound of alarms.
Instantly their ears were filled with the sounds of panicked messages and calls for action: i"Explosion in Lab 7!"..."Medical team to the labs!"... "Fire suppression teams to the labs!"/i and John had barely started to lower the weapon he'd instinctively raised at the sound of the alarms when he heard Rodney cursing loudly as he ran from the gateroom and down the corridor toward the nearest transporter.
"What the..." John yelled over the alarms and racing after him. "McKay!" Damn, the man could move when he had a mind to! John thought as he rounded the corner to see the transporter already active having no doubt deposited Rodney on the lab level. Entering the transporter himself a moment later, he wasn't surprised to have Teyla and Ronon squeeze in on either side before the door shut.
"Elizabeth!" he heard Rodney's no-nonsense bark through his earpiece as the door shut and he reached to activate the transporter. "You need to monitor the radiation levels down here. The damaged Naquada generator was in Lab 7 and if it's been compromised, you need to contain the labs immediately."
Aparently not waiting for a response, John heard a beep as Rodney obviously switched from the command only frequency to city-wide just as the doors reopened dumping the three of them into a smoke-filled lab corridor. "All non-essential personnel evacuate the labs immediately - all labs. Go to your assigned gathering stations until further notice..."
It wasn't hard for them to find Lab 7 - they just followed the smell of burned plastic and the sound of Rodney barking orders.
"Where's the damn medical team?!" he bellowed. "Elizabeth! How's the radiation? ... Good, yes, it looks like that part of the lab was spared the worst of it so I think we're safe, but if anything spikes... right."
They rounded the corner to see Rodney standing in the middle of the ruined lab with Radek Zelenka standing in front of him. The Czech engineer was looking shaken and oddly vulnerable without his glasses.
Rodney held Zelenka's chin in one hand while his other held his forehead, angling his face up so he could look into the man's eyes.
"Radek," he demanded in a quieter voice, "8297 - prime or not?"
"Co?" Radek replied, looking confused.
"Shit," Rodney mutterd, then, "Radek:dvacet pět? osmdesát šest? Damnit man!" He slowly pushed Zelenka down onto the gurney that had just arrived with Carson and the med-team.
"His eyes look ok, but he was out when I came in and is still confused, he wouldn't stay down - it was all I could do to keep him from walking off," Rodney informed the medics. "Kavanaugh was standing and alert, but he's got a gash on his face. Madrina and Preskaya were both alert but I think Preskaya may be hurt as well..."
"Rodney, " Carson cut him off. "We've got them. It'd help to know what happened. Do you know if they've been exposed to anyth...?"
"How the hell should I know?!" Rodney yelled. "I wasn't even on the planet when this -- you!" He stopped, pointing an accusing finger at Kavanaugh. "What were you doing in here?!"
The combined pressure of Rodney's accusing glare and a glance at the blood on his hand from where he'd touched his cheek after hearing that he'd been cut was apparently too much though and with a sort of high-pitched squeek, Kavanaugh fell into a faint and was caught and laid on another gurney by Carson's team.
"Rodney!" Carson scolded. "He's in shock! Berate everyone later if you please! Let me treat them all now."
"Fine," Rodney barked. "But he's got some explaining to do." He pointed angrily at the now keening Kavanaugh. "Seeing as how he's been banned from this lab!"
When Rodney brushed past without even seeing them, following Carson and his team a moment later, John turned to the equally stunned Teyla and Ronon behind him. "Well," he said, trying for cheer. "That was interesting. Let's, uh.. Let's just make sure everyone is evacuated, then drop off our stuff at the armoury and debrief with Weir."
It was quite a sight when John made it to the infirmary after changing and determining that Elizabeth had put off their debriefing until later.
Rodney McKay was standing in the middle of Carson's office, still dressed in his off-world mission gear, absently handing off his weapons to the armoury sergeant as he and Elizabeth listened to Beckett's report on the scientists' injuries.
"So, they're all going to be alright?" Elizabeth asked, sounding relieved.
"Yes," Carson sighed, "they were lucky. Dr. Zelenka took the worst of it and he's got off with a mild concussion."
"Good." Anyone who didn't know better would think that Rodney's abrupt tone was uncaring John thought. "I assume you're ordering them all to rest?" He went on when Carson nodded, not waiting for a verbal reply. "Are you keeping Radek?"
"Only for a couple of hours," Carson answered. "If there's no change after that, I'll release him as long as he goes directly to his quarters to rest until tomorrow. I'll want to check him over in the morning before I release him for duty. Barring any complications, the others should be fit for light duty tomorrow. But go easy on them Rodney," he admonished wearily. "They're all pretty shaken up."
Rodney merely gave him a withering look. "Can I speak to them before they go? Or will they all shatter?"
"Yes, yes," Carson sighed again. "Radek is resting and I'd prefer if you don't disturb him yet, but the others, fine, as long as you're not too harsh."
"Fine," Rodney agreed, turning only to run into the sergeant. "What?!" he demanded when the man didn't get out of his way.
"Your cartridges sir," the sergeant asked.
"Oh, for..." Rodney grumbled, pulling the cartridges of bullets out of his vest pocket and handing them over.
"Thank you sir."
"You're welcome," Rodney answered impatiently. "Now, be gone."
John smiled reassuringly at the flustered soldier as he scrambled to get out of McKay's way.
By the time John, Elizabeth and Carson had made it out to the main infirmary Rodney was already issuing orders to the three ambulatory scientists who had been present for the explosion and were now standing, sooty and bedraggled before him.
"... will follow Dr. Beckett's orders to the letter. You will all return to your quarters to shower and then rest. Don't worry your pretty little heads about cleaning up the mess down there, others will take care of that for you. First thing tomorrow morning, as long as none of you suddenly develop whiplash overnight, you may turn on your computers. Not a moment before because your logins will be disabled until then. Are you all with me so far?" he demanded acidly, continuing when he got nods from two of them and a glare from Kavenaugh. "Good, because when you do login again, the only thing I want you to do is to compile a complete list of everything you are currently working on. That includes projects you've been assigned as well as any pet-projects you've got going. Then, you can all come to Lab 7, or what's left of it, at noon tomorrow. You're all banned from all labs until then. Clear? Good," he stated, not waiting for confirmation. "Questions?"
"You can't do...!"
"Oh, but I can - and I have. Next!" he barked, shutting down Kavenaugh's complaint before he could finish it.
"Figures you say nothing about Zelenka who can do no wrong!" he tried instead.
"He is still in Carson's gentle care. You three are not..." which was enough explanation as far as Rodney was concerned, obviously.
"Uh," the Russian scientist raised his hand slightly. "It's Preskaya, not Pretzlekov..."
"Yeah, well, that was before you blew up my lab!" Rodney cut him off, glaring at each of them. "Out! All of you. Go, take your naps, get your beauty sleep while we try to fix what you screwed up. Go!"
Madrina was the first to move, the diminutive woman almost in tears as she jumped and ran from the room. Preskaya said something softly in Russian that earned him a slight nod from Rodney before he too departed. Kavanaugh lingered just long enough to try to meet his superior's glare - very quickly though he straightened his shoulders and stormed out, muttering under his breath.
"You were a little hard on them weren't you Rodney?" John asked after Carson had retreated to the corner of the infirmary where Radek's bed was.
"Don't." Rodney held up his hand. "Just don't Sheppard. You don't know the whole story here so just... Don't," he finished almost wearily. "No one was supposed to be working in that lab while I was away. We got lucky." He turned his glare now on John. "It's only luck they didn't blow the city into small chunks sunk to the bottom of the ocean."
"Seriously?" John asked, surprised. "One little explosion in one little lab could sink the city? I know you said that without the shield the city's fragile, but..."
"One little explosion in a room housing a damaged naquada reactor. If it'd blown as well..."
"20 megatonne nuclear explosion - remember?" Elizabeth added. "Rodney, you'll let me know what you find out?" she asked.
"Right after I figure it out myself."
"Remember Rodney," she smirked. "No matter what, you can't hit them."
Rodney merely grunted in response, rolling his eyes.
"Besides," she added before leaving. "Kavanaugh would probably sue..."
"Don't worry," John said after a minute watching Rodney stare at Carson with Radek. When he merely grunted in response, John went on, "I doubt Kavanaugh could find a lawyer in the Pegasus galaxy anyway."
"Carson!" he bellowed, ignoring the joke.
Carson glared across at him from the other side of Radek's bed for a moment before succumbing to the summons in Rodney's glare.
"Yes Rodney," he said with deliberate patience when he finally came over to them. "You bellowed?"
"If I promise to stay all softy-softy, can I talk to him for a minute?" he demanded.
"Rodney," Carson argued. "He's just barely not in shock and he has a concussion - a mild one, but still he's absolutely beside himself and still quite shaken..."
"I said I'd be softy on him - I just want to talk to him before you release him and I need to get down to the lab so I can start figuring out what the hell happened down there."
"No." Carson stood firm, issuing a glare of his own. "No, I absolutely forbid you to demand he explain what happened! He's in no fit state to be..."
"Didn't I say softy?! I won't ask him and I won't let him explain yet alright? I just want to tell him what I told the others - softy" he assured again, then clearing his throat and avoiding Carson's gaze he went on, "...and, you know, make sure he's alright and all..."
"I'm going to stand right beside you," Carson relented finally. "If you start..."
"I'll stop you."
"I know. Shall we?" Rodney motioned for Carson to lead the way.
Ignored by them both, John followed, hanging back out of sight.
"Dr. Zelenka?" Carson asked quietly before Rodney could speak. "Do you feel up to seeing Rodney for a moment?"
"McKay!" Radek started, looking wildly in Rodney's direction.
But before he could begin to explain, as he obviously intended, Rodney cut him off with a stern "No."
And from then on the conversation was over John's head and obviously Carson's as well from the look he gave John over his shoulder. He could make out "Radek - something, something naquada something, something something Ok? Rest. something, something."
To which Radek replied "Something McKay, a bunch of something sorry!" then "a bunch more of something" before repeating wearily, "sorry."
They went back and forth for a couple of minutes with John and Carson understanding about one in twenty words, but whatever was said was having the effect of calming the injured scientist so they merely shrugged and let it go on until Rodney finished it.
"Rest Radek. Tomorrow, if Carson releases you. Not before."
"Ano Rodney, ano, ano..." Radek mumbled wearily. "Ano pane..."
"Alright," Carson intervened finally. "Go on then," he told Rodney as he took Radek's wrist to check his pulse. "You had your time, now let my patient rest please. I'll let you know if he's cleared for duty in the morning."
"Right," Rodney grunted at Carson before turning and striding out.
"Feel better Dr. Zee," John called before following.
"So, Rodney," he asked, catching up and joining him in the transporter. "You speak Czech?"
"A little," Rodney grunted, hitting the panel to send them to the labs level. "My assistant when I was working in Russia was Czech and I brought him with me to area 51 when I came back before the Antarctic assignment. If Radek were in his right mind he'd have been ridiculing my pronunciation."
"Why didn't he come to Atlantis?"
"Who?" Rodney demanded shortly as they exited the transporter. "Oh, Tomas? Uh, land mine when he was fourteen. Couldn't pass the physical requirement."
John stood back then and watched as Rodney sent scientists scattering from around the destroyed lab with the force of his glare and loudly barked orders.