All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I do not own the rights or characters to Stargate Atlantis or to Stargate Continuum.
Richmond, Virginia: United States of America
7th of May 2008
Aprox 7 PM Eastern Standard Time
The sun glowed low on the western horizon, the buildings of the city below casting long shadows that lengthened steadily as the sun dipped. From far above, Sam could see the dying rays reflecting golden off the waters of the James River, which stretched out west towards the distant waters of Hampton Roads. From her perspective it was still early afternoon. Here, on the other side of the country from Alaska, evening was already fast drawing in. She guessed that the time here was near seven in the evening, a good four hours different from that street in Alaska. Already it seemed so long ago.
She gazed at down at the buildings of Richmond Virginia, upon which lights were already glowing. Their Jumper hung motionless above the city center, at an altitude of almost a thousand feet. Somewhere far below them, oblivious to their presence, was Daniel. She wondered what he was doing. She pulled back from the stunning view, taking her hands off the forward console she had been leaning on, and turned to Sheppard. Clearly anticipating her question, at his command a holographic screen coalesced in front of the pilot's station, displaying a map of the city. A white dot glowed clearly on the edge of the city center.
"That's Jackson?" queried Mitchell
"Yep." Said Sam. "Problem is, it looks like he's right in the middle of town" she said grimacing. As she spoke the display had altered, to show the topography from ground level. Jackson's dot glowed brightly, high up the side of one of the tall apartment buildings. All around were other taller buildings, and busy streets. It was going to be difficult to get close with the jumper. "Can we land on the roof again?" suggested Sheppard. Jackson's building had a nice flat roof."Possibly," said Cam, surveying the screen.
"The problem is those taller buildings all around Jackson's." He gestured to them. Everyone saw the problem immediately. It was getting dark, but it was still light enough that the roof of Jackson's 6 or 7 story apartment block was highly visible to anyone looking out the windows of the many taller buildings that overlooked it." Cloak or no cloak, it would only take one observant person to notice people mysterious disappearing into thin air and calling the media, and there'd be a news crew there in minutes. Not to mention the inevitable government watchers, which both Carter and Mitchell knew would probably still be watching the building.
"Can we wait until its dark and land then?" suggested Sheppard. Carter and Mitchell shook their heads. "It's only been an hour or so, but Sam and I are going to be missed pretty soon" said Mitchell grimly. "They might have noticed we're missing already, and if so the first place they're going to come is here. We haven't got long."
Sheppard nodded. "How do you want to play this?"
Mitchell surveyed the ground around Daniel's buildings. Power lines crisscrossed many of the streets, and billboards were set atop the roofs of the low shopping buildings above which various office blocks and apartment buildings would he thought be a nightmare through which to maneuver a vessel, even as nimble as the jumper, in order to reach the ground. Even if it was possible, there were few open spaces to set down upon, for the streets were busy with people and vehicles. For at least 2 city blocks around the apartment building the situation looked equally unpromising, but just to the east lay a park, a less well lit expanse of greenery and dense bushes that should provide just enough cover.
He pointed. "Set us down over there." Sheppard nodded, and the jumper began to descend swiftly. Cam checked his clothing, making sure his radio was concealed, but still easily accessible. "Carter and I will go. You too aren't really dressed for this, and anyway neither of us can pilot a jumper." Sam nodded. "He's right. She gazed around. "Got any spare radios?" McKay rose from his seat and rummaging in an overhead locker, pulled out a case. Unclipping it's latches, he handed her a standard SGC coms rig, which she fixed into place with practiced ease.
"Do you want any weapons?" called Sheppard over his shoulder from the front of the cockpit, concentrating on bringing the jumper in for a silent landing.
"We'll stick to the stunners." declined Cam, checking his own, which he had been given prior to meeting Carter. "We've never actually had the chance to test them." pointed out Rodney, "but we've had them used on us. Well, sort of. They should just knock someone out, but watch out they're pretty short-ranged."
"Good to know" thanked Mitchell, sliding his out of his jacket pocket briefly and reacquainting himself with the controls.
"Coming up on the ground" warned Sheppard over his shoulder.
In a shadowy corner of the park the grass and shrubs of one small inoffensive border were suddenly flattened under the invisible weight of a good ton of spaceship. There was a low mechanical humming, barely audible further away than 100 yards over the sounds of the city, and suddenly two dark figures appeared out of mid air. They immediately ducked into a patch of deeper shadow cast by a large bank of shrubs, watching warily for any signs their arrival had been noticed. There were none. As the two figures consulted a small handheld device, the screen glowing faintly in the shadow, there came the louder noise of the jumper's engines powering up.
The loud humming, over which the sounds of the hurriedly resealing hatch were almost inaudible, diminished rapidly as the Jumper rose smoothly back into the air. Less than a minute later, the only trace of what occurred in that shadowy corner was the flattened patch of grass, and the crumpled remains of what had moments previously been a rose bed blooming with colourful flowers.
As Sheppard's jumper rose smoothly into the steadily darkening sky Sam and Cam, guided by the signal on the ancient scanner Cam still held, proceeded swiftly towards their destination.
Their warm clothes caused no surprise or idle comment, for at this time of year the evenings were cold here, and the pair of them walked swiftly along the brightly lit and busy sidewalks. The pavements were busy with office workers returning home, or people heading out for their evening's entertainment, but they made good time. Ahead of them, the office buildings surrounding Daniel's apartment block rose into the sky, with cleaners and departing office workers clearly visible in their brightly lit windows.
Sam kept her head down, sticking close to Cam's side. In her joy of freedom, she had forgotten to anticipate that she would have to go out in public once more. She regretted now the absence of her camouflage, fearing that without the glasses someone would recognize her and the delay would cost them vital time. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice, and the pair hurried on. After perhaps 5 minutes, they were standing across from Daniel's building. Ducking out of the crowd into the shelter of a doorway, they consulted the ancient scanner. The dot glowed steadily, clearly coming from the upper floors of the building in front of them.
It was a nice enough looking building. Not that expensive, but comfortable. A cheerful entrance foyer, well trimmed shrubs on either side of the revolving doors. There was also, they both noticed with slight dismay, a clear reception desk visible on the other side of the glass doors. They had no idea of Daniel's new identity, and they could hardly produce a picture. Worse still if the government's had a watcher among the building staff, then their appearance could raise the alarm, assuming it hadn't been raised already. "What do you think?" muttered Cam in Sam's ear, pretending to check his watch. "I don't see a gate." She replied, eyeing what little of the interior they could see. Behind the desk she could clearly discern the doors of an elevator. "It depends how security conscious the staff are."
"Risk it?" he suggested.
"Do we have any option?" she replied tensely.
"Not really." He admitted, sounding none to happy himself.
He stepped out of the doorway, and after eyeing the street carefully in either direction, ostensibly for oncoming traffic, but really for any signs of surveillance or government presence, he crossed over. Sam followed him, also subtly checking the street for signs of watchers. They pushed through the revolving doors, into the warmth of the lobby, and walked purposefully towards the elevator doors. The guard at reception raised his eyes from his newspaper, swept them with an assessing glance, then apparently satisfied they did not look like thieves returned to his paper.
Breathing a silent sigh of relief, Sam pressed the call button. Thankfully the doors opened immediately, and they stepped into the elevator. Pressing the door shut button, the pair waited patiently for the doors to slide closed, before checking the scanner again. Guessing from the position of the dot, Cam pressed the button for the 4th floor. As lights above the elevator doors in the lobby flicked from ground to 1, then 2, the guard at reception lowered his paper carefully, and pulled a radio from a drawer. He spoke into it urgently, gazing at the illuminated numerals carefully. He watched them stop on '4'. A few streets down from the apartment block, a number of engines roared into life. Headlights illuminated the side alley they were concealed in, scattering the gathering shadow, as half a dozen black 4x4s responded to their spotter's radio call.
As if from a great distance, through the dim haze of alcohol and sleepiness, he heard the chimes of the door bell. He ignored it, sinking deeper into the fabric of his chair, tugging his dressing gown closer around him. As the chimes continued, becoming more insistent he groaned in annoyance, and peered blearily at his watch. It was almost 7 pm. The entire day had gone by, and he hadn't even got dressed. He knew he should get up, should go answer the door, but he just couldn't be bothered. He clumsily lowered his arm down to his side, only to give a curse of irritation as he knocked over the bottle of wine on a side table. It was less than a quarter full, but the liquid flooded over the carpet and chair, dowsing his right leg in wetness. He sprang up, cursing, while all the while in the background the door chimes continued incessantly.
The smell of the alcohol was overpowering, enough to make his stomach lurch, as he swayed dizzily. He reached for the stick he kept handy for moving around. He rarely used the prosthetic unless when he had too. He hadn't bucked it on today, hell he hadn't even shaved.
It sat in the corner of the bedroom, an arrangement of soft plastics, metal and artificial flesh. He hated it. He surveyed the floor and then himself, with no small disgust.
He had let himself go. It happened every now and then. He had work at a bookstore, something undemanding, boring, and the owner was a nice man, fairly tolerant. The first time Daniel had drunk himself senseless for a weekend, the man had understood, but firm. It was a Sunday today, thankfully. Tugging off the dressing gown with one hand, he dropped it to the ground, atop the spilt wine. Underneath he wore only boxer shorts and a warm t-shirt. He hoped over to the dresser, and pulled out a pair of tracksuit bottoms. Falling back on the bed he tugged them on, all the while cursing under his breath the incessant noise of the door chimes.
Who would want to see him so urgently at 7 pm on a Sunday night for goodness sake? Even the government kept more sociable hours.
They checked up on him from time to time sure, but usually during the day. He knew very few of his neighbors, the building was inhabited mainly by office workers, and most of those he had met still offered him the same stock looks of pity he received from the older customers at the bookstore. Thankfully since he had been fitted with the leg he had managed to hide his disability, something he was grateful for because it stopped people acting and talking to him like he was in some way incapable of doing anything himself. He took hold of his stick and hobbled out of the bedroom and down the corridor towards the front door. The apartment he passed through was sterile, comfortably fitted, but with few personal touches. The only real sign of his presence were the books on the shelves in the living room, the clothes both dirty and clean in the bedroom, and the pile of unwashed dishes in the kitchen. He hadn't bothered to decorate.
He reached the door, and without bothering to put it on the chain wrenched it open violently. "Yes!" he began sarcastically, "What is it that's so dam…..." He broke off, unbelieving, staggered slightly, and fell backwards as his cane fell from his unsteady grip.
Sam stared at Daniel, stunned by the changes. Cam, much more alert, lunged forward and grabbed their former colleagues arm, steadying him and preventing him from falling painfully on his ass. Recovering, Sam leaned down and scooped up the cane, passing it back to her friend, who took it automatically, still gazing at them in amazement.
After a few moments he regained his voice. "Guys" he managed weakly.
"Yes Jackson it's us," replied Cam straightforwardly, still supporting the archaeologist with one strong hand.
"But, but I thought they were never going to let us see each other again" he said, his voice strengthening.
"No, they weren't. Look, we've got some things to tell you which would best be said where no one can here. Can we come in?" said Cam quietly and slowly, indicating the open hallway with an inclination of his head.
"Umm, yes, come on in." said Daniel, who seemed to still be in a state of shock. He grasped the cane Sam had retrieved for him more firmly, and using it turned awkwardly so that he was facing back into the apartment. With a hand on his arm Cam guided him down the corridor and through a door into a room which turned out to be the living room.
Sam stepping after them pulled the door closed and shot the bolt, after a swift glance up and down the corridor to see if anyone had been watching. The corridor was empty, and if there were cameras she couldn't see them. As she stepped into the living room and saw Daniel again her heart gave a leap, but as she took in his haggard appearance a feeling of pity filled her heart. He looked almost broken, more defeated and self-loathing than she had ever seen him, even after the death of Shar're. He was unshaven, disheveled and half dressed. This was nothing new to her after years of discovering him asleep in his office after forgetting to go to bed. What had really made her heart sink was the look in his eyes, the smell of alcohol on his breath and worst of all the missing stump of his right leg.
Cam guided him into a chair, into which he sank gratefully. He was still gazing at both of them like he expected them to vanish if he blinked. He shook his head as if to clear a fug from it and managed, "how did you find me?" Cam didn't bother to answer, merely tossed him the scanner, which to his credit he caught neatly. He gazed at it, and then looked up. Sam could almost see the neurons starting to fire behind his eyes, as Daniel's magnificent brain came to life.
"This is ancient!"
"Yep" commented Cam dryly, "and there's an ancient ship in orbit too." 'That' got Daniel's attention. He sat up, rubbing his face to try wake himself up. As he did so, Carter and Mitchell gazed around curiously. The room was furnished but bare. It looked to them like a development which had been purchased fully furnished. The only personal touches were the ranks of books in the shelving and a number of dirty plates. Daniel had obviously not bothered to make a new life for himself. Not that Sam blamed him. Her life for the last 9 months had been miserable enough, and she had not lost part of one leg. She gazed around, and her eyes fell upon the prosthetic resting in a corner. It looked pitiful. Daniel had obviously followed her gaze.
"It's better than crutches," he quipped, with a trace of the old Daniel, but there was a worrying note of bitterness.
Despite his obvious tiredness, and perhaps slight intoxication, his eyes fixed them with a steely gaze, taking in their clothing, the bulges in their pockets. They flicked upwards, obviously taking in the unobtrusive radio booms beneath their ears.
"So what's happening?"
"We've got some help. Sheppard and his team from Atlantis are here, and they've got a ship in orbit," said Mitchell. Daniel blinked. The pair of them caught his confused look. "Long story apparently" quipped Sam, then she turned serious. "We need to hurry. We don't know if they've spotted our absence already, but it won't be long. How long will it take you to get dressed?"
Daniel's eyes dropped, considering his own half dressed and highly disheveled appearance. His expression, to the concern of his friends, was one of deep self-loathing. "Do I have time for a shower," he quipped ironically, but the smile did not reach his eyes. Any reply to the negative that Mitchell might have been about to make was drowned out by an urgent radio call in their earpieces.
"Mitchell Carter we've got trouble. You've got at least six black jeeps heading fast your way!"
Daniel must have sensed it was bad news, even though he had no headset, for he hurriedly began pulling on a shirt from a basket of dirty laundry which lay beside the open door to the kitchen. Sam noticed with a pang that he only pulled out one sock from the pile, clearly accepting that he would not have time to fit his prosthetic. Cam wasn't looking, he had other concerns. As Daniel was struggling into the shirt, he was on the radio to Sheppard, speaking urgently.
"How long do we have?"
The reply came back immediately. "Not long, maybe 5 minutes. You must have been recognized." Mitchell, franticly trying to visualize the layout of the building, or as much of it as he had been able to determine from the jumper's scans and their earlier passage through it, asked the obvious question. "How long will it take you to get here?"
"A minute tops." came the immediate reply. "Shall I aim for the rooftop?" Mitchell considered. They still didn't know if their actually was any access to the roof from this building yet. He turned to Jackson. "Can we get up to the rooftop from here?"
Jackson considered the question, and then shrugged helplessly, half way through pulling on a shoe. Despite himself Cameron couldn't help but be distracted by the scene. The horrible stub of Jackson's right leg below the knee, the pinkness of the amputation, even after 9 months. There had been times during the long recovery from his devastating crash in Antarctica when he had woken up in the middle of the night, his sheets damp with sweat, at the fear that his leg would have to be amputated. Thankfully, it had not come to pass, and after months of grueling physiotherapy he had recovered full ability in his wounded leg. Jackson had suffered what he had so feared. Cam pitied his friend, but he was more worried about how Jackson's wound might slow them up.
He hit the transmit button on his radio. "Stay overhead, but don't land yet. If there's no roof access we might just have to escape on foot. Any sign of air units?" There was a pause, and he imagined Sheppard or McKay running a sweap with the Jumper's complex sensors. It didn't take long. "None as yet. I'd hurry though those jeeps are really booking it." Sheppard sounded tense. Mitchell didn't blame him. Jackson finished tying the laces of his shoe and stood up, seizing hold of his stick. It was a stout wooden affair with a firm rubber grip and a no-nonsense handle. He pushed himself off the bed to his feet with practiced ease and leaning on this stick gestured with his head towards the door.
The three of them set off immediately. At once both Mitchell and Carter saw they were going to have a problem. Jackson was surprisingly fast on his cane, but he still could only really make a fast walking pace. Luckily his apartment was one of the closest to the elevator, but even so it was taking too long. As they hurried Mitchell was thinking desperately. If they took the lift to the top floor, they could perhaps get atop the roof before anyone spotted them and be picked up. On the other hand if there was no roof access they could end up being trapped on the building's upper floors, and nothing short of Sheppard blowing a hole in the roof with a drone would allow them to escape.
As they entered the elevator, which thankfully was still on their floor, he made up his mind, and pushed the button for the lobby. The lift descended swiftly. He checked his watch. They had perhaps 4 minutes left of Sheppard's 5 minute deadline. Was that enough time to get clear of the building and escape into some side alley? Jackson's one leg would slow them down and be a dead giveaway.
There was a musical note as the lift reached its destination, and the doors slide open. They were just hurrying out when there was a shout for them to freeze. They turned as one, Mitchell holding his stunner, Jackson shielded behind them. The security guard from earlier stood in front of them, pistol leveled. He was too close for Mitchell to risk bringing up his weapon
"Hands in the air" he shouted.
When they made no such move he shouted again. "Hands in the air right Now!" Before Mitchell could do or say anything, there was a strange 'fizzing' sound, and the guard slumped to the ground, his pistol dropping out of his hand onto the carpeted floor with a thud. Mitchell turned, to see Jackson holding Carter's stunner in his hand. Somehow he had managed to extract it from her pocket without the guard noticing, and shielded from view use it on the guard.
"Nice" commented Mitchell, as the three of them hurried past towards the front doors. As they passed the 'guard,' whom he guessed had sounded the alarm, he scooped up the man's weapon, sliding it into a pocket lest the man recover unexpectedly and use it on them.
They had taken too long. As the three of them spilled out into the chill of early evening, they saw a pair of black jeeps with government plates speeding towards them not 200 yards away. Hurried glances in the other direction revealed two more also headed their way, having clearly looped around to cover the street in both directions. Hurriedly Mitchell and Carter pulled Jackson back into the building, half dragging their colleague.
As they hurried past the reception desk and unconscious body of the guard Mitchell got on the radio. "Sheppard, the front's no go. How's the back of the building looking from where you are?" He knew from what he had seen earlier that there was a loading dock at the back of Jackson's building, served by an alley from a side street. If they were lucky they might be able to make it out that way.
The reply came back instantly. "No use. The other two jeeps just pulled up that way too. I count eight men piling out. They're all armed."
Eight men at the back, Mitchell realised, meant there were at least sixteen men about to come through the front doors at any moment. That only left one option. They headed for the elevator. Carter hit the call button, only to note with horror that the lift was no longer there. It was heading for the upper floors, presumably called by some other resident. It was the only lift in the building. Cursing the architect, all three members of SG-1 hurried for the door to the emergency stairwell, which stood a little way to the left of the elevator doors.
They reached the door, passed through it, and had begun to climb when the first of the black jeeps screeched to a halt outside the front of the building. Doors flew open and four figures in suits piled out, swiftly joined by their companions from the other three jeeps. Eight of them piled in through the lobby doors, while the remaining four formed a cordon around the building entrance, silently forbidding anyone from entering.
Once inside the first 8 drew their guns. Checking the pulse of the unconscious guard, their leader surveyed the scene. Noting the ascending figures above the elevator doors, he made the obvious conclusion and looking around, spotted the sign above the door to the stairwell. Just then, the numeral's illustrating the progress of the lift stopped at the 4th floor. Leaving two more men to guard the lobby in case their prey doubled back, his team set off pounding up the stairs.
At the same time, six armed figures of the secondary team burst through the rear doors into the building's service areas. Communicating by radio with their colleagues at the front of the building, the six men and women began ascending another stairwell, also heading for the 4th floor.
It was pure luck, but the misdirection of the elevator did in fact briefly help the three members of SG1. It gained them valuable moments. They were headed for the top floor, the 6th floor, hoping to find the access to the roof for Sheppard, floating just above the roof surface, had confirmed the presence of what looked to be door providing access out onto the top of the building. Their pursuers, deceived by the elevator and their awareness that Jackson's room was also on the 4th floor, headed no further up the stairs than that floor.
Carter and Mitchell, effectively dragging Jackson with them up the stairs, had just managed to close the fire door separating the 4th and 5th floor stairways behind them when their opponents burst through the door one floor below. These fire doors, hefty constructions in metal and fire-retardant material, were located on every landing and intended to prevent fires using the stairwells to spread to other floors. They had also, in combination with thick fireproof carpeting which dulled their footfalls, prevented any sound of SG1's frantic ascent reaching the pursuing party just a few moments behind.
Unaware of their unknown opponents error, and certain that they were only moments behind, Carter and Mitchell continued to half carry Jackson up the stairs. It was exhausting work for all of them. Without his prosthetic Daniel could hardly contribute to the effort, but was forced to push off from each step when he could. Behind them, the two government teams spilled out onto the 4th floor from opposite ends, securing the stairwells and spreading out to sweep the floor.
As the rapidly tiring trio reached the 5th floor landing, and passed through the firedoor onto the stairs leading to the 6th, the first government team reached the elevator on the 4th. To their surprise, the elevator was now descending, the numerals atop the closed doors steadily ticking down towards the ground. Suspecting their quarry was being cute, the team leader hurriedly snapped out orders. Just in case their quarry was trying to escape by the lift, the guards in the lobby and at the rear of the building were told to be alert. In case the lift was misdirection, intended to give their quarry time to achieve some other goal, he radioed for the other team to meet him outside the apartment belonging to the resident.
It was a logical mistake. It never crossed the team leader's mind that their quarry might in fact be heading for the roof. Why should they and how, since the lift was now descending and the stairways blocked by his men. What escape could there possibly be from the roof. The building was sheer and isolated, with no escape to nearby buildings or rooftops. Any attempt by their quarry to retreat upwards would merely succeed in them trapping themselves further. It was a logical assumption, but a mistake nonetheless.
He realized his mistake a few moments later, but not until after the combined eight operatives had taken up positions outside the door. At a signal from the lead agent, they then broke the door down and rushed inside, swamping the apartment in armed men. Tazers and guns ready, they swept every room, but they discovered only dirty clothing and unwashed dishes. There was no sign of their quarry.
It was then that he became aware of his mistake. The first indications, aside from the deserted apartment, were the gun shots which echoed dully from the floors above. The second was a report from the lobby team on the contents of the elevator.
Robert and Belinda Maidstone, aged 68 and 65 respectively, were heading out for an evening of theatre and dinner with family. They had left their luxurious 4th floor apartment, into which they had moved on Robert's retirement eight years previously, and called the elevator from the ground floor.
As they rode the lift down to the lobby, the retired surgeon and his wife were deeply involved in a discussion of the evening's upcoming performance, and a good natured squabble about just whose pocket contained the tickets. They were therefore more than a little scared and surprised to face pointed guns and shouts to put their hands in the air when the elevator doors slid open at ground level.
Just as one of the rather bemused agents at ground level got on his radio to report the situation, while his three colleagues hurriedly holstered their weapons and attempted to calm a rather distressed Mrs Maidstone, six floors above Cam pulled the trigger of the security guard's confiscated semi-automatic.
Moments earlier, a gasping Jackson, Mitchell and Carter had reached the 6th floor, stumbling along the corridors until they reached a study metal door leading to the building's attic spaces. Jackson slumped against the wall, gasping for breath. He was still in fairly decent shape but the lightning climb up the stairs combined with the alcohol in his system was making his lungs burn as they fought to suck down enough oxygen.
Sam and Mitchell were in better shape, but even so they were still breathing heavily. Sam took in the metal door. Black letters on it read 'Attic Access,' while smaller letters below proclaimed 'authorized access only.' She tried the handle. It was locked, and resisted any of their combined attempts to burst it open by force. Left with nothing but bruised shoulders for their efforts, with time ticking away, they considered their options.
Mitchell considered the ancient stunner, but he doubted it would be any use, and it wasn't large or heavy enough to be used to batter the door down. There was no window to break either and no bench, plant pot or fire-extinguisher nearby that he could see to use as a battering ram. Valuable time was ticking by. He made his decision. Withdrawing the pistol he had confiscated earlier from the guard downstairs from his jacket pocket, he leveled it at the lock, signaling for Jackson and Carter to stand clear.
He pulled the trigger. He fired several times, knowing that the first bullet would probably just hopelessly mangle the mechanism, aiming for where he thought the mounting holding the bolt in place would be.
No sooner had the lobby team begun to report with the news, than the upstairs teams suddenly raced for the stairwells. Once again they split, thinking fast even in their surprise, half heading for the front stairs, the other
half for the rear.
They were pounding up the stairs to the 5th floor even as Mitchell and Carter succeeded in forcing the metal door open, and were dragging Daniel up yet more stairs into the attic spaces. These stairs, not intended for pampered residents, were steeper. It was exhausting work and despite their brief respite their pace began to slow. As they climbed, gasping with the effort, Mitchell radioed Sheppard, managing to gasp out the words for him to bring the Jumper in for an urgent pickup.
As they reached the top they found themselves stumbling into a dimly lit service corridor, its roof littered with cables and pipes. This corridor lead all the way around the roof of the building, its various doors providing access to water pumping systems and tanks, electrical and heating services, along with the motors for the elevator. The floor was no-frills linoleum, slippery beneath their rushing feet.
Mitchell & Carter knew the roof access was somewhere up here, the question was where. Their pace slowed as their eyes scanned the walls and doors, looking for signs or labels that might help. As they paused briefly, they heard pounding feet behind them. As they spun around they saw half a dozen figures at least round a dimly lit corner. Shouts of 'Freeze' told them they had been spotted. Mitchell threw out his arm and fired, emptying the guard's pistol. He aimed over their pursuers heads, seeking to buy them time and make their opponents seek cover. It worked momentarily. As the clip emptied with a ping of metal, the men and women in suits recovered and returned fire. They also fired high, no doubt aiming to pin down their targets rather than to kill or wound them.
In that way their fire had much the same effect as Mitchell's, forcing the three companions to dive for cover. Jackson, reacting instinctively after eleven years of being in hazardous situations, pushed his companions into cover around a corner. The force of his exertions threw him backwards into some other cover. It was only once he recovered the he realized what he had done.
He was cut off from Carter and Mitchell by perhaps a meter and a half of bare linoleum. His stick lay out on the open, well out of reach of either himself or his friends. The walls were bare, lacking any of the handholds he usually needed to get up from the floor without aid. He couldn't move, could only crawl. He was stuck
As further shouts of 'Freeze' and 'Surrender' echoed down the corridor from their pursuers, he incredulously took in the sign behind his two friends. It was on the cross-wall nearest to their opponents, out of sight until just now. It was a stylized set of stairs, below the welcome words 'ROOF.'
"Look" he shouted over the noise of more gunshots, pointing at the sign. He saw Mitchell's eyes flick upwards to the sign, widen in surprise and excitement, and shout in Sam's ear. But when the pair of them gazed in sudden realization at him, he saw Mitchell's eyes harden, his pleasant features contort into a mask of fear and dismay.
"Jackson" he shouted, "You'll have to jump it."
As he spoke, another volley of gunfire tore into the concrete walls, indicating the hopelessness of that idea. Daniel, who had by now managed at least to pull himself to his knees, took a chance and risked a quick glance down the corridor. Obviously encouraged by the lack of return fire, the figures in suits had begun to advance down the corridor. They were already less than 50 feet away.
He tugged his head back in a hurry. He gestured to his friends. "Get out of here!" he shouted.
"Daniel" called Sam, her frustration and dismay obvious. Her hazel eyes were wide and full of emotion.
"Dammit Jackson we're not leaving you again!" shouted Cam, his face firm, his expression unyielding.
He met their eyes. What Sam saw in Daniel's eyes made her start desperately across the corridor, but Mitchell grabbed her and pulled her back. Daniel ignored them, and reaching into his pocket, pulled out Sam's ancient stunner. She had completely forgotten about it. He leaned around the corner, extending the weapon. He fired twice, and saw with satisfaction that two of their pursuers dropped to the floor senseless.
Mitchell, watching Jackson, desperately trying to think up some tactic to get him across the corridor, saw the Archaeologist's blue eyes widen behind his glasses. Jackson ducked back into cover, just as two metal prongs buried themselves in the concrete where his arm had been. The tazer darts visibly crackled with energy. Great, well that's something, thought Cam absently; they're not trying to kill us. Bad news is though, they're close enough to use tazers. We can't hold them off either. six jeeps, 24 guys, and there's got to be more coming.
Jackson leant out again, and fired three more times, catching another one of their enemies, stunning him. He was forced to hurriedly duck out of sight again, as two more sets of tazer darts impacted on the wall and floor where h had been.
Mitchell realized suddenly with shame that he had been sitting around like an idiot while his colleague had actually been doing something useful and risked a glance around the corner. He had his own stunner ready but any hopes of knocking out enough of their pursuers to get Jackson safely across were immediately dashed. Three unconscious bodies were sprawled on the floor less than 40 feet away but their pursuers were smart. The remaining 4 or 5 were taking cover behind their unconscious companion's bodies, which they had piled up in front of them as cover.
Behind them he saw more suited figures appear, and fired a pair of stun pulses at them. He missed, but luckily did not suffer a return volley of bullets or darts in reply. Their plan was obvious though. They were going to overwhelm them with bodies. If they didn't move soon he did not doubt their opponents would get reinforcements, and probably worse still air support. Sheppard would have no trouble shooting down a chopper with the Jumper's advanced weapons, but he sincerely hoped they would not have to so, and risk injuring innocent men and civilians.
Jackson's thoughts were obviously running parallel to his own. Daniel risked another shot, only to duck back into cover before he had the chance to fire, half a dozen tazer darts skittering over the floor and wall as they caught sight of him.
"Get out of here!" he yelled. "Come get me later."
"Daniel, No!" shouted Sam. For the last few moment she had stood motionless beside Mitchell, weaponless and unable to help, aware of her own uselessness, but his words spurred her again to action.
"Jump for it" she called. Sam was distraught. They had come so far, only to have to leave their friend behind again. Jackson would probably get stunned, but if he jumped far enough they would probably be able to grab him and drag him up the ladder. If only….
"No chance" he called back. "You'll never make it with me slowing you up." He pleaded. "I can't get up anyway!"
She hesitated, knowing with futile anger that he was right.
"Move" he roared at her, firing blind down the corridor. "They can hear us. GO NOW!"
Sam felt Cam grab her by the arm and pull her towards down the corridor. After a few meters she shook him off, running by herself, the two of them sprinting along the corridor. At the end was another set of stairs, leading upwards. They pounded upwards, their steps loud on the metal treads. At the top was another door. It was locked, but proved no match for Mitchell's raged fueled strength. He crashed against it, sobbing with frustration and anger, the lock giving way against his assault.
Behind them Daniel still crouched on the cold floor, firing periodically around the corner. He was angry. Really, REALLY angry, unlike anything he had felt ever since he had lost the leg. He had lost everything again. He had been left behind, again. Before he had been left behind because he had been stupid enough to stick his foot through some frozen planks and get it wet. Such a small thing.
He had thought he would die then, alone on the frozen ice at the end of the world. He had lived, although he still had nightmares about the ice. It had not been long, nothing compared to Cameron and Sam's trek across the ice, but it had felt like the end of the world. He was no stranger to death. Hell he had actually died before, more than once. It had been the loneliness that had got to him, then and for the last 9 months.
Now, just when he thought he had found them once more, he had been left behind, again. Left behind because he had been stupid enough to throw himself the wrong way. Well, at least this time he wouldn't die. They weren't trying to kill him, unlike the ice and cold and wind.
Still. It hurt that he was alone. Again!
He gripped the stunner tighter, pushing himself upright so that his back was against the wall. It was rough against his back, the handle of the stunner beneath his fingers was smooth and warm. He was preparing to lean out again, when something clunked noisily on the concrete and linoleum of the corridor.
He looked down. His blue eyes widened behind his glasses.
He just had time to hurl himself futilely sideways, when the stun grenade exploded less than a meter away. There was a blinding flash of light and deafening sound, and he knew nothing more.
The door swung outwards with a bang, and suddenly they were out in the fresh air, the lights of the city bright in the darkness. It was night, the only illumination the lights of the city around them. They gazed around, for there was naturally no trace of the jumper, when McKay emerged suddenly from the cloaking field and signaled to them. They staggered forward, and found jumper's rear hatchway suddenly before them.
They staggered into the rear compartment, barely hearing McKay's urgent enquiries."Where's Jackson," he said urgently, gazing back through the hatch towards the stairway.
"Not coming" forced out Mitchell, his teeth gritted.
Sheppard turned to face them, his expression worried. He caught Mitchell's grim expression immediately, and his own features momentarily tightened. Then there was a noise from the console, and he swung back around hurriedly, eyes worried. A screen flashed up. An orange dot was heading fast their way, closing in on the central representation of the jumper.
"Chopper" he called, his voice terse
"Take off" managed Carter, slapping a hand down on the hatch controls. Sheppard's hands were already tightening around the flight controls. The jumper's engines pulsed, grew louder, and then it lifted smoothly off the roof, so smoothly the only indication was the view through the cockpit window.
"Where's Jackson" spoke McKay in the silence.
"We had to leave him behind," said Sam, her voice toneless.
To his credit McKay said nothing. He simply walked forward into the cockpit, and sat down silently into the seat opposite Sheppard. As the Jumper's engine pods extended, coming to life with a soft whine, a helicopter soared over the surrounding buildings. Long after the jumper had got clear it slowed and came to a halt over the roof of Jackson's building. Rotors pounding loudly over the heads of the agents whom had spilled out onto the roof through the broken door. After a few moments a finger of white light darted down from its nose, the brilliant spotlight playing methodically over the surface of the building. It lit up the roof, picking out the various dark figures of the assault team
The mission leader had been stunned, but his second in command gazed around in mystification. Aside from his men, the roof was empty. There was nowhere to hide on the roof, nowhere to hide or go, yet their quarry had vanished completely, apparently into thin air!
End of Chapter 2
A/N: Again with the irritating formating system. Hopefully i've spaced things out a little.
Well, i hope you enjoyed it so far. Please do leave feedback and reviews, i'm so much more encouraged to continue if you do!