"Alright Blue Team, listen up," Sheppard said in frustration in their impromptu meeting on Yavin's southern combat field. "In case any of you hadn't noticed, we're currently in the basement," he said, pointing to a nearby scoreboard. Four teams were listed, with Sheppard's Blue Team in dead last.
"Now I don't know about you, but I'm tired of getting my butt kicked day in and day out by Green Team…and if any of you ever want to even think about being included in an offworld mission you're going to have to prove it on the training field first."
Sheppard glanced back and forth across the 54 assembled members of Blue Team, all of which were sitting in a semi-circle on a wide grassy field. He pointed off in the distance at a small rise. "We get bunker 2 this time…and the Greenies aren't going to get it. Am I clear?"
"Yes, sir," about half of the group said in unison.
"Keep your heads down when you're not firing this time," Sheppard scolded them. "We lost 15 kills to slop like that last time. Do that again, and I'll put an extra stun round into you myself," he yelled, not bluffing. "Get to the bunker!"
Together, all of Blue Team trotted off across the grass field toward their designated bunker for this round of the team competition. Sheppard fell in at the tail of the line, carrying his own stun rifle slung over his back while his smaller stun pistol rode in a hip holster on his left thigh.
All of the troops on Blue Team carried the same weapons…the rifles boasted increased stun power and were designed for range, while the pistols were for hand to hand combat…or in case their rifles' power packs ran dry. The bunker contained several gun turrets with scattershot stun batteries that fired at a rate of 50 per second, but each blast wasn't enough to induce unconsciousness, merely numbness that would debilitate the victim. However, multiple impacts would rack up a kill, not to mention a wicked headache afterwards.
Meanwhile, the attackers carried cut-down rifles known as 'nippers' that could be operated one handed. They carried this version because they were also allowed to carry static energy shields shaped as long rectangles, extending from a short lateral pole that could be handled with one or two hands. The attackers would approach the bunker across open field, using strategically placed ditches and holes, in conjunction with their personal shields, and attempt to seize the bunker.
The attackers were also given numerical superiority, which meant that Green Team got to field four times the number of Blue Team, which amounted to 240…Sheppard had forgone his extra 6 men allotted due to the simple fact the rest of his men couldn't yet shoot straight and had proved in past training battles to be more nuisance than assistance.
Green Team was led by none other than Ronon, and together they had racked up a unit score of 954. Yellow Team, led by Brand, ran second with 674. Teyla's former team, now commanded by a Pegasus native called Striker, formerly Ronon's top man, and ran third with 439. Sheppard's Blue Team was last of all with 375.
When all of Blue Team was in position within the bunker Sheppard hoisted the Blue flag…the signal to begin the battle.
Sheppard stayed on top of the bunker, literally daring Green Team to shoot him, as he scanned the horizon looking for Green Team's advance, which could be taking place from any direction.
He stood there for a good twenty minutes, cursing Ronon for 19 of them, before he thought he caught a glint of energy shield toward the northwest.
"Herra, four two-second bursts along a vertical axis in sector 11," Sheppard ordered.
A thin woman dressed in blue camo fatigues powered up her turret, raised it into the air, and started spraying yellow stun bolts towards the northwest. Sheppard saw a few impact the nearly invisible shields and he knew at least some of Ronon's men were camped out in ditches and underbrush in that direction.
But Sheppard wasn't about to be caught in another of his buddy's diversionary attacks. He turned around and looked the opposite direction, just in time to catch the faint movement of grass about three hundred meters out. Ronon had his men crawling forward through the long grasses no more than a couple of inches off the ground to.
Sheppard hoisted his rifle and laid down on top of the bunker's highest roof. He positioned the rifle on its built in bipod and sighted the crawling Greenies when he heard weapons fire from behind him.
"Sheppard!" he heard one of his men yell from below.
"I know!" he yelled back, keeping his sights on the crawlers. "Do I have to do everything for you? Use your heads…steady, even suppression fire. Snipers double up on individual shields."
Sheppard ignored the fighting starting behind him and took careful aim with his rifle's scope. He sighted in on several of the crawlers, noting their slowly moving positions.
"Ok, Ronon. You're going to have to work for it this time," Sheppard said before firing three blasts at the first target. Without waiting to see if he'd hit anything he switched to the second, then the third, fourth, and fifth...firing some twenty shots in a matter of five seconds.
He hit three of his targets, resulting in a swarm of green camo fatigues springing out of the grass and sprinting forward just under 275 meters away…farther away than Ronon had probably wanted them to get. "Reinforce rear guard!" Sheppard ordered as the Greenies charged the bunker from both sides.
Half the Blue troops on the lateral flanks pulled off their positions and doubled up the back half of Sheppard's defenses, mowing down the Greenies in a pleasing fashion. On the front side, from what he could hear, things weren't going so well, but if they could take the backside troops out quickly they could then triple up the front side and make up some badly needed points on Ronon's team.
Just as Sheppard started to get hopeful one of his four turrets got knocked out…literally. The gunner slumped out of the seat and fell two meters into a crash bag below.
"Someone get in the turret!"
Just as Sheppard yelled out the order somebody jumped up and slid into the seat…but the person wasn't wearing blue.
"Son of a bitch," Sheppard said under his breath as he recognized Ronon in the gunner's seat as he twirled it around to target Sheppard's men inside the bunker. Two more Greenies jumped up over the east wall...the wall Sheppard had pulled men from…and took up guard positions beside Ronon.
Sheppard took both of them down with quick, accurate shots, but not before Ronon opened up the repeater and stitched eight of Blue Team's front side defenders. Then his opposite number turned the gun towards Sheppard with a wide smile on his face, making it clear that he knew he'd outwitted him again.
Fortunately, Sheppard was able to roll off the roof onto a second lower roof before Ronon could light him up…but from then on things continued to go downhill quickly, resulting in another lopsided Green Team win.
At least Sheppard had been spared the sight of Green Team's flag being hoisted over the bunker…he was still lying unconscious inside the bunker's command tower during Ronon's brief victory celebration.
After Sheppard had regained consciousness he retreated to the 'VIP' center where the other commanders and on duty defense personnel were stationed. He pulled a quick video review of the massacre and vowed not to let Ronon make a fool of him again…a vow that he'd been making on a daily basis, yet one he hadn't yet been able to keep.
"Commander Sheppard?" someone asked from behind him, addressing him in his Pegasus Army rank.
He spun around in his floating chair. "Yes."
"We have a new report from SG-B," Corporal Wiggins said, referring to the special ops teams that Sheppard had compiled out of the original Earth personnel that had chosen to stay in Atlantis. He still retained command of SG-A, though at present it was little more than himself and Ronon. He still wasn't sure what to make of Teyla, though a part of him didn't want to go ahead and officially replace her.
"What's up?" Sheppard asked, leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head, making it clear that he didn't want to read the report himself.
The corporal took the cue and skimmed through the file on his datapad. "It seems a group called the Quindosim Brotherhood have put out the message that they want to meet with the people of Atlantis, namely you, sir, on a world called Merx. SG-B was able to procure the address to the planet."
Sheppard sat up straight. "Oh they do, do they?"
"Yes, sir," Wiggins said unnecessarily. "Something to do with the recently returned Ancestor and the item that they have been safeguarding for him."
"Now they want to give us the ZPM?" Sheppard said sarcastically. "Atlantis was nearly destroyed because they held out on us the first time, and now they want to play nice when we don't need it?"
"What's a ZPM?" the corporal asked.
"It's an Ancient power generator. Atlantis uses three of them to power the city," he explained.
Wiggins looked at him curiously. "The whole city? They must be huge."
"Na," Sheppard said dismissively. "It's only about yea big," he said, holding his hands about a foot apart.
"And we...don't need one of those?" the corporal said, obviously impressed.
Sheppard considered that, and the fact that Stevenson said that they were working off a limited supply of the things.
"Ok, so it's still important...just not as much as it used to be," he said, standing up and taking the datapad. He read through it quickly while the corporal waited.
"Find Ronon, and tell him to gear up along with two of his men, his choice. I want them ready to go offworld within the hour."