It took the rest of the day and most of the night with the help of a detail of marines as well as the remaining engineering staff to clear the lab of debris before Rodney could even start to try to find the cause of the explosion.
Finally though, after examining the remnants of several destroyed Ancient and Earth devices and researching the database to try to figure out what the Ancient devices had been, Rodney could say with some certainty what had caused of the explosion.
The lack of security cameras in the labs though meant that he would have to wait until he could question the four of his staff who had been present for the explosion before he could say for certain iwhy/i the accident had happened.
"It's why I locked down that lab when we had to leave so suddenly," he explained to Elizabeth during the morning briefing. "I didn't have time to properly decontaminate the tools I'd been using on the generator so I secured them, locked the lab and ordered it off-limits until I returned."
"So then," Elizabeth asked, eyebrow raised, "why were they in there?"
"Yeah," Rodney replied, "excellent question and one they had better bloody well have a very good answer to." He sighed, rubbing at his tired eyes. He'd been working on reviewing the logs and examining the remains of the lab all night and was slouching heavily now in his chair. "Ok, so a lot of this is still conjecture, but I've analysed the door's locking mechanism and can say for certain that it was bypassed. I can't say yet whether it was Kavenaugh, Preskayia or Madrina, but clearly it was one of them..."
"What about Dr. Zelenka?" Elizabeth asked. "You don't think he could have...?"
"No, Zelenka wouldn't have needed to hack the lock. He's authorised to open all labs when I'm away. There's no reason for him to want to go in there right now anyway." Rodney waived his arms dismissively. "The thing is, I have a pretty good idea what the three of them were after in there, but I can't say anything for certain until I talk to them."
Crossing his arms over his chest and looking directly across to Elizabeth, Rodney frowned seriously before going on. "Elizabeth, I'd like to ask you to let me deal with this as an internal science department incident. Now I know that with the explosion and injuries and damage that you'll need a formal report and action - and I'll do that, but until then, I'd like you to leave the rest to me."
"Rodney?" she asked, frowning. "I don't know... I mean this could have been..."
"I know, I know." He sighed, fingers tapping a staccato beat on the table next to his tablet. "The thing is, scientists are competetive - and the level of acheivement the scientists who work here have attained means that they are among the more competetive... This was one of those stupid scientist things. I just need to formalise and clarify the food chain in the engineering department and the science division in general a bit - nip a few things in the bud and make the new order since Peterson died more official."
"Dr. Peterson," Elizabeth explained to John's look of confusion, "was the head of Rodney's engineering department."
"Oh..." John muttered, looking down to the desktop, still uncomfortable nearly three weeks after what had happened when a nanovirus of unknown origin had killed several people, and had nearly killed many more thanks to his disobeying Elizabeth's quarentine. She'd lectured him for a good while and though in the end she'd said they were fine - not least due to his later actions that ended up killing the nanovirus and saving them all, he still felt a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing.
"So, you've decided to have Dr. Zelenka replace him officially then?"
"Yeah - he's the best qualified of the engineers I have left and if he ever learns to just follow orders, I think he and I might actually end up working well together. What?!"
"Uh, nothing," Elizabeth replied, unsuccessfully hiding a smirk. "Just - iyou're/i talking about iDr. Zelenka/i following orders?"
"I follow orders!" He glared for a moment at her raised-eyebrow-look of disbelief. "Well, the orders that make sense anyway. Just because a procedure works for Jackson and the SGC doesn't mean it makes any sense at all here! Anyway, that is completely beside the point. Yes, it's Zelenka - he has been de-facto anyway since..." He took a breath, waving his hand in lieu of completing that sentence. "I just need to put it on paper and make the announcement."
"And you think competition over who would replace Peterson had something to do with those guys blowing up the lab?" John asked
"The explosion was an accident caused by messing with tools that were contaminated with naquada particles. The competition part came in when I only had time to radio Zelenka why the lab was locked down as we rushed out and the others didn't know why and obviously didn't accept either that it was closed, or that it was Zelenka who told them it was closed. So, again, some of this is conjecture, but he did send the memo I told him to send closing the lab, I saw it. I can also confirm that Preskayia, Kavenaugh and Madrina read the memo. The confirming and details has to wait until Carson clears them all and I can bring them all in to answer some questions."
"OK," Elizabeth agreed. "You're right, I'll need your formal report, but I'll leave how you get there as an internal matter for your division."
"Thank you," Rodney said, grabbing his tablet and striding out of the conference room and toward the mess - he had just under an hour before Madrina, Preskaya and Kavanaugh would be meeting him in the ruined lab. He had a headache already just anticipating having to deal with their whinging and excuses.
Coffee, he decided. And lots of it to deal with this mess.