No Place Like Home part 2
Ronon continued to pace the cell as he tried to think of a plan of escape. He ignored the headache that crept up the back of his neck and wrapped around his skull. He needed to think. He changed direction and walked the perimeter of the room,stopping suddenly when his foot hit something. Surprised, he crouched and picked up McKay's scanner. He hadn't realized that McKay had managed to hide it before the soldiers knocked him out. Picking up the scanner, Ronon shoved it in his pocket. It was of little use to him, but he knew when Rodney came back they could use it.
Standing again, Ronon moved in front of the door and ran his hands all the way around it. It opened outward so he had no access to the hinges. The bars were solid in the wood, though even if he could break those apart, the opening was too small for any full grown human to fit through.
He focused on the opening edge. There was minimal space between the wood of the door and the frame,but there was no deadbolt that he could see. The door was barred from the outside. Plastering himself against the door,Ronon craned his head to peer out the small opening, but he couldn't see down the front of the barrier at all. Listening for any guards, Ronon squatted and dug a knife from his dreadlocks. No one ever thought to search his , quietly, he went to work on the edge of the doorway. If he could just whittle the edge and widen the space just enough—he could fit the knife through and hopefully use it to get to the latch that was locking him in.
Once he got the door open, he'd find Rodney, Sheppard and Teyla and they could get the hell off this planet.
"You are a willful man, Dr. McKay. You must possess great power." Doni's voice seemed to float around Rodney. He couldn't quit figure out where the man was standing now or what he was going to come at him with next.
"I've passed your damn tests," McKay rasped. His throat ached from yelling. "I have proved I'm no witch."
"There is a final test."
"Of course there is." Rodney closed his eyes. Dizziness assailed him. He didn't want any more tests. He didn't want to be here. He didn't even know how long he'd been here. It felt like hours. He wanted to go home. Where were Sheppard and Teyla? Didn't they know what was going on? Didn't they realize that while they sat around chatting with the King, he was being sliced and diced in this hellhole?
His wrists were torn and bruised from pulling against the leather as he'd struggled. Doni had started his tests by pouring some kind of thick syrupy sweet liquid down his throat. Rodney had tried to spit it out but then Rula had leaned down close to him.
"If you do not cooperate, I will send my men for your cellmate and you will be forced to watch him suffer a slow death before we continue."
McKay had decided not to press whether or not they were bluffing.
Then Doni had brought out the knives and all McKay could think about was Kolya. But instead of his arm, Doni had sliced across his torso, just deep enough to make it hurt…and bleed. What color was his damn blood? What color did they think it was going to be? They'd quickly and haphazardly bandaged the cut. He'd passed that test, but there'd been another, and another. His forearms had born the brunt of the testing.
But, he'd passed them all. He bled like them, his skin burned like theirs. He even lost his ability to breathe when a bag was pulled tight over his head, too. Combined with the drug—the tests blurred together and he'd lost track of what was happening to him. But no matter the result-- none of it was enough. Each test seemed to fuel their desire for more proof. Rodney almost wanted to shout that he WAS a witch and he was going to smite their souls for all this,but he figured that'd only piss them off more.
It was already unnerving how very calm and practical they were about the whole matter.
"From where do you draw your power?" Doni was talking again. The same question over and over again.
"I told you." Rodney leaned his head back against the top of the chair. He was so tired. The room spun constantly now. He just wanted it to stop. "I have no power."
Doni snapped his fingers and Rodney stiffened. That snap had come to signal bad things.
Someone grabbed his right hand, forcing him to open it and exposing his palm.
"No." His eyes shot open as he straightened in the chair and tried to pull away but between the soldier's grip and the leather bindings…he was stuck.
Doni lifted an object off of a nearby tray. The device lit up with a dim blue glow.
Rodney tried to figure out what was going to happen. What was that? It looked a little like the personal shielding device he'd found when they'd first come to Atlantis,but of course that had been green. He'd never seen this. Curiosity warred with fear. He wanted to examine it and find out its usefulness, but he didn't want to be tested with it. What would it do to him?
Doni handed the device to Rula and the light immediately dimmed.
"Oh god." Rodney figured out that it wasn't going to hurt him then, but it was going to doom him. He wasn't going to pass this test. "No." He struggled clumsily but ferociously now.
Rula looked at him warningly. "Shall I send for your teammate?" He waved to his men and three of them started for the door.
"No!" Rodney shouted despite his abused throat. He had yelled so much. "No, I'll…fine, just give it to me."
Rula smiled and moved forward. Gently he placed the ancient device in the palm of Rodney's outstretched hand.
Rodney tried to think "OFF" as much as he could,but it was pointless. The device lit up instantly. The once dim light glowed a brilliant blue and filled the entire room. McKay immediately recognized it as a portable holographic map of the Pegasus galaxy. The constellations floated above the room's occupants.
It took Rodney a moment to realize that the men around him were stunned. They stared at the starry projection around them in shocked silence until suddenly it shattered in a collective gasp and they were all talking at once. He could see the fear in their eyes and heard it in their voices.
The device was wrenched from his hand and the room went back to being dank and dark.
He heard what they were saying. He was a witch for sure. It didn't matter that his blood ran red or that he breathed just like them. What mattered was he'd taken something their magician had only been able to turn on and made it do something else entirely. He'd made the sky appear around them. He was too powerful.
No one was talking to him now.
"Get him out of that chair." Doni was ordering the soldiers now. "Take him back to his cell. We'll need to kill his companion,but keep the witch alive until we can figure out what to do with him. I must research how to utterly destroy his power before we kill him so that it doesn't infest someone else. Send extra security to guard the King. We must take his other teammates into our custody at once."
"What? Wait, you can't." They were going to kill Ronon?
"Keep him subdued or he'll use his power against you."
Someone came at him from the left,but he couldn't move to avoid the blow. It knocked him half out of the chair, only the bindings held him in place. Someone else must have unstrapped him because the next thing Rodney knew he was being manhandled out of the chair and dragged through the stony passageways.
Ronon heard the commotion in the hallway and stood quickly. He pressed himself against the door and listened.
"You can't. You can't kill him."
Rodney. Something was wrong with his voice.
"If you kill him-- I'll kill you."
Ronon raised an eyebrow. Rodney would kill for him? Not a surprise,but it wasn't often he heard his teammate admit something like that out loud. He didn't listen for the guard's response. Instead,he backed away from the door and hid the knife behind his back.
"Get back." One of the guards shouted at the opening, peering in just enough to make sure Ronon obeyed, but staying out of reach.
Though he wasn't sure how many were with McKay, Ronon knew he would have the element of surprise in his favor. He intended to use it.
The door began to open and Ronon launched himself towards it. It banged back into the soldiers and gave the Satedan the edge he needed. He swiped at the closest guard even as the man was still stumbling from being hit with the door. Ronon sliced the man's jugular and spun to stab the second guard through the heart before he could even react. The third guard was fumbling uselessly for his weapon when Ronon's knife ended him. In moments, the three guards were down and Rodney stood, swaying in the hallway looking shell shocked and confused.
Ronon shrugged and wiped the blade of his knife against his pant leg. "Yeah. You okay?" He scanned the scientist, noting the blood red eyes and focusing on his forearms and bloodstained midsection.
McKay's shirt sleeves had been shoved up above his elbows but before Ronon could see the reddened patches of burnt skin. Rodney quickly pulled the sleeves back down hiding his arms. "I'm fine." He held one arm protectively across his middle.
Ronon didn't believe him. Rodney looked awful. He was frighteningly pale and continued to sway. He started to ask if Rodney was sure,but McKay motioned for him to hurry.
"We need to get out of here. They're going to kill you."
Rodney huffed, sounding satisfyingly more like a healthy annoying McKay again. "Right, be picky about it. They're going to TRY to kill you. We need to get out of here."
"You sure you're okay?" Ronon reached out as Rodney turned and stumbled into the wall.
"I'll make it. We just need to find a way to avoid any of Rula's guards. He'll send more when these…" He gestured to the men on the floor. "Guys don't return."
"Oh, here." Ronon reached into his shirt and pulled out the scanner.
"Oh. That'll help." It immediately came on at Rodney's touch and for the first time in hours, McKay was thankful again for the ATA gene. "We need to hurry."
"Gotta find Sheppard and Teyla."
Ronon followed Rodney, concerned about the injuries he knew his friend was hiding. He wanted to give the scientist a break and let the man rest. He wanted to help his friend along,but Rodney focused only on getting through the hallways undetected. He held himself protectively away from Ronon and, though Ronon didn't understand why Rodney was hiding so much, he knew they didn't have the time to ask. Instead, Ronon kept pace and prepared to either fight anyone who tried to get in their way or pick Rodney up when he couldn't go any further.
Rodney gripped the scanner like it was a lifeline. He watched each blip on the screen, trying to figure out exactly where every life sign was located in the maze of passage. But, not knowing the layout, he felt like he was flying blind.
He forced himself to take one step after another even though each one rattled his body like he was being roughly shaken. The walls moved in and out around him and, every three steps or so, he reached out to steady himself and make sure it was him and not the walls that were actually swaying. His arms ached in ways he hadn't imagined back in the 'testing' room. His sleeve pulled mercilessly on the patch of burnt skin just below his elbow. The roughly bandaged cut across his chest still oozed and had started bleeding again. It was beginning to seep through the front of his shirt. His head ached like it had been cracked open, making ever sensation more intense. The light was too bright, sounds were too loud, and smells were nauseating. Everything hurt.
He knew Ronon was watching him. Studying him. He tried not to show how much he was hurting. He couldn't let Ronon get distracted by anything except getting them out of the prison. If they got caught, Ronon would die. Rodney was not going to let that happen. He was going to get them out and if that meant hiding the extent of his injuries, then that's what Rodney would do. If Ronon had to help him—he wouldn't be free to defend himself. Ronon needed to be unencumbered so he could move quickly.
"Anything?" Ronon asked quietly as Rodney paused.
"Not yet. There's activity here." He pointed to a fast moving cluster of a half dozen dots. "Where they kept us in that cell, I think." He looked up, not noticing the way Ronon's expression tightened when their eyes met. "They probably know we're loose now."
"How far to the main entrance?"
Rodney stared at the blinking dots. How far was the main entrance? Which direction? They'd wandered so freely before they'd found the hidden crown jewel chamber. He had paid attention,but then they'd been attached in the chamber and…he couldn't remember which way. He couldn't concentrate.
"McKay?" Ronon's voice was filled with concern.
"I-I" Rodney looked up and down the hall again and then back at the dots. The world started to spin around him again. He had to keep moving. If the guards caught them-- He couldn't let them catch Ronon. "Let's try this way." He gestured to his right, hissing as his sleeve pulled on his burnt forearm. "There's no one down this way."
Ronon watched him carefully and then nodded.
It was getting harder to keep going. McKay knew he was losing ground,but he pushed himself further. His ears were ringing, a dull roar that he recognized as a sign he was close to passing out. He couldn't let himself.
Ronon was beside him now instead of behind him. Watching the scanner, too. There were now a dozen dots behind them, still out of view, but moving quickly.
Just before they reached the next corner, Rodney pulled up sharply. His vision blurred and he started to go down. He felt Ronon's arm go around him, holding him up. "McKay."
"I'm fine. I'm fine." He shook his head. Groaning as another wave of nausea churned through him. He tapped the scanner's screen. "Two." He didn't have the words for more. He hoped Ronon understood.
Ronon did, but there were more dots advancing behind them and Rodney could hear them coming now. The guards were almost on them. He and Ronon were trapped. They were going to catch Ronon and kill him and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
"You have to kill them all." he whispered, pushing away from the Satedan. "Give me a knife."
Ronon laughed in spite of the situation. "I've got it,McKay." He shoved McKay up against the wall behind him, making sure he was steady and then turned, knife ready. Rodney kept a clumsy hold on one arm and McKay's grip was the only thing that saved Sheppard from getting a knife through the throat.
"Ronon!" Teyla's frantic cry made him pull up short on a follow through punch with the other hand.
McKay was so relieved to see them both he simply closed his eyes.
"Hey, big guy, what the hell is going on?"
"We had trouble."
Trouble? Trouble? Rodney realized he wasn't actually speaking out loud. "You call all this 'trouble'?" He opened his eyes and pushed wearily away from the wall. "We've got to get out of here. We need to get out, now."
Sheppard and Teyla just stared at him for a moment with shocked expressions.
"What? What's your problem? Imminent death here, guys."
Sheppard blinked. "Rodney."
Teyla stepped forward. "Rodney, are you alright?"
Huffing, Rodney handed John the scanner. "Yes, yes. I'm fine, can we just go? Plan our escape, come to the rescue? Get us home?" He shoved weakly at Sheppard spurring him into motion. He didn't catch the looks exchanged between his teammates. "Where the hell have you been anyway?"
Rodney let Ronon hold onto his upper arm this time and help him as they followed Sheppard. Teyla moved in behind them.
"We realized something was amiss when Rula came in to brief the King." Teyla started to explain as they moved quickly. "We were kept from leaving that room for quite some time and then the King was suddenly rushed out." She looked at Rodney. "We did not realize…"
"Well," he cut her off. "You're here now. How do we get out?"
"They don't like modern guns." John's voice was harsher than it had been and Rodney wondered for a moment if Sheppard was angry with him.
"Least you still have yours," Ronon griped.
"Oh yeah," Sheppard pulled Ronon's blaster out of his vest and handed it to the now smiling Satedan. "Almost forgot."
"Right," Ronon commented knowingly. "How'd you get it?"
"We have a limited time to get to the gate before they discover we have escaped from the room," Teyla reminded.
"Once the King left, they didn't think to put extra guards on us," Sheppard explained. "We grabbed our gear and found yours with it. Figured something went wrong and came to find you two. What exactly did you do anyway?"
John held up a hand to stop them all before proceeding down the next hall. There was a door at the end and it led outside.
"How'd you?" McKay looked at Sheppard.
"We found this door on our way to find you, McKay. What'd you do to piss them off?"
"We found their crown jewels," Ronon answered.
"What's the big deal then? You didn't take any did you?" John hurried them out into the village where no one seemed bothered by their presence.
"No, we didn't take any," Rodney snapped back, weary and frustrated. It was getting even harder to focus. He wanted to just sit down and close his eyes,but he couldn't. Not until he knew they were safe…that Ronon was safe. "The room was Ancient. Not much power, but enough that the doorway responds to the gene. Evidently their court 'magician' is the only one in the kingdom with the gene, so when I opened it…"
"They thought he was a witch," Ronon finished.
"You've got to be kidding me." John looked over his shoulder at Rodney. "Didn't you just explain?"
"Oh right. I told them I was a witch just so they'd lock us up and threaten to kill us. Yes, I explained. They didn't listen."
Sheppard acted like he wanted to ask more, but then abruptly let the matter drop. He had picked up the pace now. They passed through the village square undeterred. Once they were on the forest path, they were running.
Rodney made it four steps before he just stopped. He stood there in the middle of the yellowed stone path, trying to not fall, knowing he had to keep moving, but knowing, too that he was physically done. They still had to get to the gate.
The grip on his arm disappeared and an arm wrapped around his waist. "I got you, McKay." Ronon eased Rodney's right arm up over his shoulders and started moving again, supporting the majority of Rodney's weight.
Sheppard was suddenly on the other side of him, mirroring Ronon's movements.
Rodney felt like he was gliding. "I'm okay." He managed as his vision dimmed.
"Yeah, you are," Ronon answered.
Ronon stayed with Rodney even as Keller's medical team rushed him to the infirmary. He knew Sheppard and Teyla were coming as soon as they briefed Woolsey. Impatiently, he paced while he waited for Keller to let him in to see how Rodney was doing. He needed to see what was really wrong with McKay. What had Rodney been hiding and how badly was he hurt?
Guilt and anger fought for dominance, but he pushed both down. He stopped for a moment and watched the rain splatter against a nearby window. There was nothing he could do now. No matter how much he might want to go back to that planet and slaughter each and every one of them…
"Ronon?" Keller was there.
"Hey." He stopped pacing and stood awkwardly. Suddenly unsure of what to do with his hands.
"I've got him resting as comfortably as possible…" her voice shook a little and she looked away for a moment. "Marie is taking care of him."
"Why not you?"
"I needed a moment." She snapped, anger filling her eyes. "What the hell happened to him, Ronon?"
"You tell me."
She gaped at him. "Don't you know?"
"No." He looked down. "He hid it from me."
"He…"she looked back over her shoulder toward the curtained area. "Rodney hid his injuries from you?"
"I knew he was hurt, but he insisted he was okay and that we had to get out."
"He was not okay, Ronon." She stepped closer. "They drugged him. They cut him. They burned him. They strangl…" She choked on her emotion and backed away when he reached out to her. "No." She shook her head. "They strangled him, suffocated him somehow. His eyes."
She fisted her hands helplessly and blinked watery eyes. "He's not okay."
Ronon stepped closer and put a hand on her shoulder. "He is now." He squeezed and then let her go. "Go take a break."
"I don't know why he didn't tell you." She swiped at her eyes again and nodded, pulling herself together. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't leave him alone."
He smiled. "I won't."
When she was gone, Ronon ducked behind the curtain. Marie was adjusting McKay's IV. She looked up at Ronon and smiled but didn't say anything. She simply finished her task and slipped out.
Rodney was still pale, but looked better now that he was home.
"Hey." Ronon greeted, refusing to flinch as he met Rodney's still red eyes. He'd seen it before, he realized, now that Jennifer had mentioned the suffocation. Anger flickered inside and he pushed it down.
"How you doing?"
Rodney shrugged. "The drugs are better here. Nothing too serious." He looked suddenly uncomfortable again.
"Look." Rodney started but Ronon stopped him.
"You knew what?" Rodney looked confused.
"That you were hurt. You can't hide something like that."
"Yeah well, I didn't realize I had zombie eyes." He waved at his face. "I just knew we needed to get out if there. We couldn't slow down and take care of anything. There was nothing you could do and I couldn't let them…"
"Hey." Ronon patted Rodney's leg as he moved and plopped down in the chair next to the bed. "I know. Sheppard and Teyla are coming down soon as they're done with Woolsey." He watched Rodney pick at the blanket restlessly. "Gonna have to tell us what happened."
Rodney sighed. "Yeah."
"No more hiding." He paused a moment. "Least there were no flying monkeys."
"Oh God." Rodney snorted. Laugh lines softened the tightness of his expression.
Ronon grinned. "There's no place like home."
McKay nodded and closed his eyes. He seemed to relax into the pillows again. Ronon wondered if he needed to say more, but McKay was the talker, not him.
"Did I tell you about the Ancient device they had?" Rodney asked without opening his eyes. "It was palm sized and when I touched it, it projected a hologram of the galaxy all around the room. Do you know what I could do with that? I mean it'd be…"
Ronon slouched in the chair and let McKay's rasping voice wash over him. From his position he could just see the corner of the window. The rain was letting up and he could see the sun trying to shine through. Yeah, they were going to be okay.
Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.