Warnings: Language and non-explicit sex (of the latter, two relatively minor scenes. Do PM me if you're worried about content, as I'd rather chat with someone who wants to read this than have you skip over it just in case!).
Notes: Written for 2009's SGA Big Bang, with a lot of people to thank, including my two betas beahorgana and coldpoet, as well as moral support from grammarwoman, cathalin, 'vag,' and my support group bb gene therapy at LJ. Awesome art for the fic was done by monkey junkey--link TBA, as the site it's hosted on is having technical difficulties at the moment.
Spoilers: Up to Season Four; anything past that is luck save one character name that doesn't ruin anything afaik. So if you haven't seen S5, you should be able to read this with no problems.
Rodney wakes in darkness, but the flashes of pain that ripple through his body are sharp enough to register as pinpricks of light against his eyelids when he presses them shut. The air around him is thick with the tang of concrete and metal; his throat and lungs feel coated with dust as he takes his first conscious, gasping breath. There is a numb sort of weight on his legs, and Rodney experiences a moment of sheer terror at the thought of having a broken back, of being wheelchair-bound and perennially stuck in the lab. His fear overrides the pain, but only just—until he shifts his weight slightly and a jagged slice of agony resonates from his left ankle in all directions.
It takes him forever to orient himself; there is a solid, unyielding surface both under his knees and against his left shoulder, and he can feel the force of gravity working on every inch of him, from every direction. Moving leaves him dizzy and feeling an awful lot like an unwilling test subject in the research of blunt force trauma, though intellectually he knows that he's lucky to be alive at all. This is cold comfort, particularly when his mind finally begins to clear enough to recognize that there's an extra layer of sound above his rasping for breath and the too-loud roaring of his pulse in his ears. A distant, uneven whine slides from pitch to pitch indiscriminately, and Rodney can't latch onto it, can't place it. Every time he tries, his awareness slips away like fingertips on a ledge.
It nags at him, like it's supposed to be important but he's lost the focus to decipher exactly how, so the sound just hovers there, brushing against his ears just as the elusive columns of daylight brush against his eyes when he wills them open. The world as he knows it is completely abstract, with no reference points beyond the slant of sun, steel, and shadow and the grimy stone under his hands. Then the noise changes, whether by proximity or by his own returning consciousness, and Rodney experiences a few curious seconds of association. It sounds a little like... like an electric guitar, of all things. He's puzzled until his mind makes the second, grim leap, and then all he can see against his tightly closed eyelids are the faces of his team, of Lorne, Ronon, John—battered by rubble or sucked dry, dead, dead, dead...
When Rodney next opens his eyes, the light has shifted, and so has the temperature. This is disheartening, given that he's in the same position as before, but before he can work up enough energy to feel abandoned, he hears a shout somewhere above him. He can't quite make out words, and this is worrying enough that he keeps his eyes closed for fear of what his pain-hazed mind will make of his surroundings. Soon enough, the sounds draw closer, and he's able to lift a corner of his mouth in a hidden smile when he hears a voice he can recognize.
"Hang in there, McKay!" Sam calls out, close enough for him to hear the weariness mixed with elation in her voice. Rodney's throat feels like he's swallowed a quart of sand chased down with a few cups of silt, so he rests his head on the rough slab in front of him and waits, turning all his thoughts toward rescue and away from failure.
By the time he feels the cool night wind on his back, he's delirious again, trying to push himself up toward the fresh air with arms grey with dust and weak from shock. Sam's scolding voice sounds like Jeannie's, and he opens his mouth to tell his sister he'd been right to replace his subcutaneous transmitter—but the gentle hands lifting him up aren't gentle enough, and he passes out again when his injured ankle knocks against hard stone.
Rodney has perfected the art of waking slowly without opening his eyes, a defense mechanism borne out of his habit of falling asleep in inopportune places. He can tell he's in the infirmary by the (thank god) pleasant numbness that he recognizes is a result of really good pain meds, the kind that only come in IV form. His brief stab of worry about what this might mean regarding the extent of his injuries is soon replaced by a lingering dread. Out of ten people trapped in a collapsing building, how many could realistically have survived? Rodney knows his breathing has quickened, that it's only a matter of time before someone notices he's awake and starts to tell him what he isn't sure he wants to hear. He tries to calm himself with his usual chants and visualization, but all 'clear blue skies' nets him is an image of the rubble he'd been trapped in—how the roof had come tumbling down, replaced with emptiness.
Except—the sky hadn't been empty. Rodney gasps, his hazy mind finally recalling the detail he had thought was so important to hold onto before passing out the second time. He thinks he can hear the sounds of people scurrying to his bedside, but his chest feels too tight and his mouth is completely dry and his pulse is racing and damn it, he can feel the blackness threatening to overwhelm him again as he opens his eyes. The shapes around the bed are blurry and he's frustrated beyond all comprehension, but one of them steps forward and it's Sam, covered in dirt. He wants to ask her why she's wasting time in the infirmary. He wants to scream at her to tell him if Jo—Sheppard, his emotions are too raw to take chances with tone of voice, right now—is all right. He needs—but there's one thing that's more important, and he reaches out blindly, catching her wrist with fingers that feel like they're made of the same powdered debris she's caked with.
"Dart," he says with a gravelly cough, and she reaches out a hand of her own, clasping his shoulder and leaning forward.
"Are you sure?"
"Po-positive," he affirms, and with a squeeze, she's gone, replaced by Dr. Biro with a cup of water that he would have really, really wanted if he wasn't already sliding back into unconsciousness.
John finds fear inconvenient. This makes life very frustrating for him because fear-inducing situations seem to find him the pollen to their life-sucking, self-replicating bee. He'd love to be as unconcerned on the inside as he projects on the outside, but unconcerned is a difficult frame of mind achieve when, after failing to find one of your closest friends, the building you were searching starts to collapse on you and the rest of your team.
John skidded forward on the uncertain floor with Ronon's heavy but reassuring weight on his back, but despite the splitting pain in his ribs that had him seeing stars in the sudden-dark, and the worrying numbness of his arm beneath him, he didn't pass out.
That Ronon did was more troubling than the absence of light or the fact that John couldn't find his radio. Taking a deep breath and shouting when surrounded by dust and a possibly limited oxygen supply didn't seem like a good idea, so John decided to try to find Ronon's earpiece instead. The silence around them was deafening, and John's slow, pained movements in search of the radio were punctuated by an internal monologue that sounded suspiciously like McKay. There were cutting remarks on the brilliance of trying to arch his back with God only knew how many pounds of Satedan and concrete pressing down on him, as well as a sarcastic observation of 'Why yes, Colonel, that does appear to be Ronon's knee. You do realize that's nowhere near his ear, don't you?' John was pretty sure his version of McKay wasn't quite acerbic enough given their dire circumstances, but the running commentary was helpful and distracting and kind of comforting in ways that John really didn't want to think about.
When his hands brushed against solid rock somewhere in the vicinity of his teammate's shoulders, he was concerned, but not really surprised—after all, John himself had landed squarely against one of the large pipes that had fallen from the ceiling, and it made sense that they would be surrounded by debris. It wasn't until Carter, Cadman, and a group of determined and angry marines dug them out that John discovered exactly how fortunate he and Ronon had been.
It turned out that the concrete he'd felt near Ronon's head had been one of two massive blocks that had missed crushing them thanks to their difference in inertia—where he and Ronon had been sliding sideways, the blocks had fallen straight down. This meant that the material had landed beside rather than on them, but Ronon's hair had gotten caught in the middle.
He stared at the tangled mess of stone and dreadlocks for long enough that Colonel Carter had to order him to head back through the Stargate to the infirmary so the medical team could sort out his injuries. John wasn't about to tell Carter that he was prepared to disobey her in favor of joining the search for survivors, but since he and Ronon were the last ones found, he and Carter were both spared that confrontation.
When he reaches the infirmary, John immediately starts asking about the status of his team, and he soon finds out that with the exception of one of his lieutenants whose condition is still critical, everyone made it out without major injuries. John doubts McKay will see it that way when he wakes up with a broken ankle, though. John himself is mostly just bruised (ribs) and scraped (everywhere else,) which means that he is given some decent painkillers, told to stay put, and is left alone, for the most part. He wants to be around when the others regain consciousness, but the painkillers knock him out in a matter of minutes.
The lights are dim when John wakes, and when his eyes adjust enough to make out the clock, he sees that it's early morning. John knows he ought to stay in bed, but he's not about to start a new behavior trend now, so he gets up carefully, silently thanking Dr. Biro for opting out of an IV. Then he starts checking beds, starting with one next to his.
Dr. Keller finds him at the foot of Lorne's bed, frowning at the bandage that covers most of his 2IC's head.
"Concussion," she says softly, nodding at Lorne. "He'll be fine. Sore, but fine," she adds, giving him a direct look that tells him she's not just talking about Lorne. Keller doesn't fuss, like Carson would have, but the way her lips press together into a tired but reassuring smile has about the same effect.
"Listen… Doc," John starts to say, but Jennifer holds up a hand.
"Your ribs need rest," she says. "And that arm's going to hurt for days; you're lucky your shoulder didn't dislocate—"
"I had a little weight on me," John says, remembering not to shrug, just in case.
"Yes, well, you should get more sleep, once you've finished assuring yourself that everyone is okay, of course." Her smile is genuine this time. John looks down at Lorne and nods, reassured by his steady breathing.
"Rodney? Ronon?" he asks.
"I'm all right," Ronon rumbles from behind a curtain to their left. Keller slides it aside, and Ronon's sitting up. If it weren't for the hint of stiffness in the way he's holding himself, John would assume his biggest complaint is wearing hospital scrubs. "Can I take this off yet?" The other man's fingers trace the bandage that encompasses his entire head. John doesn't blame him for wanting it off; it isn't a good look for his friend.
"You should probably leave it on for a few more hours," Keller says, moving swiftly past John to bat Ronon's big hands away from the edge of the gauze as she examines it. "Besides," she says, her voice changing to be a little softer, more defensive. "I—I thought you'd want—"
"It's just hair," Ronon interrupts. The bluntness in his tone tells John he'll be just fine.
"...no evidence of Wraith activity." The voice is female, low and steady, and far enough away that Rodney isn't sure how long he'd been listening to it before he realized he's awake. He doesn't feel ready to find out what's happened, not yet, so he struggles to keep his breathing steady and his body still.
Rodney's always been good at keeping secrets and terrible at telling lies, a dichotomy that only works because he rarely has occasion to lie about what his job entails in a place like Atlantis. He's less used to hiding how he feels about—well, about anything, but he's nothing if not determined. They're subtle adjustments, really. On Earth it had become easy to replace his mental response of 'saving the world' with 'something really, really complicated that you would never understand' when asked what he did for a living; on Atlantis, he'd learned to replace a certain name in his head with 'Colonel' and 'Sheppard' in conversation. Rodney's life is mostly focused around self-preservation, after all, and if he allows himself the luxury of saying that name out loud once or twice after four years of abstinence, there's no real harm done. He can keep a secret when he's motivated enough.
"That doesn't mean they weren't there," a man's voice says, pulling Rodney back from his floating contemplations and back to reality. It's John—and it sounds like it's coming from the doorway, which means he's not only alive, but he's up and walking. Pure relief flows through Rodney's veins for a long minute, ratcheting up his pulse. It's almost certainly alerting his quiet visitors to the fact that he's regained consciousness, but Rodney finds he's no longer as afraid of what they might tell him. He opens his eyes gradually, wincing when the room's brightness proves to be too much for him. Almost immediately, the ambient light dims; the first person he's able to focus on is John, who is looking up at the ceiling with an expression of satisfaction so familiar that Rodney wants to laugh. Trust Sheppard to turn laziness into something cool by doing things with his mind.
Now that he's no longer being half-blinded, Rodney sees that John looks as beat up and bruised as Rodney feels, though he has changed out of his uniform and into the scratchy clothes provided by the infirmary.
"How you feeling, buddy?" John's voice is careful—too careful. Rodney wonders just how bad he really looks.
'Glad you're alive' and 'I'll be okay' Rodney responds, or wants to. What he really says is: "Hungry," rasped in a dry, cracked voice that begs for water. He thinks Sheppard probably gets the gist, though, since there's a smile on the man's face as he takes the cup Sam passes to him. Rodney draws in a grateful sip, noting the dirt on the hand John uses to hold the straw steady. The rest of him looks washed, if not clean, and Rodney wonders if he'd just neglected to rinse his hands thoroughly or if the pulverized stone particles have embedded themselves into Sheppard's skin. It's a chilling thought to Rodney, and he imagines it would be even worse for John—another reminder of the failure of their mission.
"Team," Rodney attempts next, and it's as if the water's done nothing at all. He squeezes his eyes shut and just lets the coughs wrack through him, grateful for the strong support he gets from either side of the bed, helping him sit up and hunch over. It finally passes, and there's still a hand on his shoulder. It's John's, it has to be, and while Rodney knows he's concussed and his ankle is almost certainly broken and no one would think anything of it, he doesn't give in to the urge to reach up and squeeze. In the back of his mind, the part that's whole and sound despite the terror and the inevitable head injury, he thinks that the absence of that gesture is probably more telling than anything else, but luckily, hardly anyone is gifted with that level of perception.
"The building's hallways seem to have been the safest place to be," Sam tells him in a steady, matter-of-fact voice. Rodney keeps his eyes shut under the guise of pain of a different sort, and waits for the bad news, grounded by John's warm presence at his side, on his shoulder. "Most of the team got by with cuts and bruises, a few broken bones—you and Lorne both have concussions—but Lt. Cern was caught under a section of wall…" Sam's voice falters, and Sheppard picks up for her.
"Dr. Keller is working on him now—he got worse in the middle of the night—but she says he'll probably pull through." Rodney can hear the guilt in John's voice and he wants to scold him, to point out that it was Rodney's intel that brought them to that place, but that's tough to get across in one word, and he's not anxious to start coughing again. Rodney slowly turns to look at Sheppard, taking in the bruise and the fresh scabs that ghost along his left arm up into his sleeve, how his customary slouch doesn't account for the way he's favoring that side.
"Most of this is from Ronon shoving me down and playing human shield," John says with a wry smile, dropping his hand and looking down at himself. "I'm pretty sure I've got a mark on my back the same shape as his gun." Rodney lifts an eyebrow. "He's okay," Sheppard says, responding to the unspoken question. Rodney then makes a face that he hopes looks more incredulous than pained. "Don't get me wrong, he's one big bruise, and—"
"We're lucky that all Ronon lost was some hair," Sam interrupts. Her tone shifts to businesslike and she steps closer to the bed. "Rodney, the Daedalus's long range scanners haven't picked up any hive ships close enough to that planet to account for a scout ship. Are you sure—"
Rodney nods and reaches for the water. "Modi-modified," he chokes out after a long gulp, then, "Michael." He sees Sam nod thoughtfully and look up. Following her gaze, Rodney sees Dr. Keller at the doorway, looking concerned. Carter murmurs an apology and heads over, leaning close to Jennifer as they discuss something that looks serious, though after a minute or so Sam uncrosses her arms and smiles.
"Looks like the lieutenant's out of the woods," Sheppard says, his eyes on the pair at the door—and now Rodney can reach out, because it's not just about him anymore. John's hand is braced within reach on the bed, and Rodney drops his on top and squeezes 'I'm alive' with as strong a grip as he can manage. Sheppard's not in a position to squeeze back, but he doesn't move away either, not even when Rodney's finger slides down to press against his wrist, feeling the pulse there. 'So am I.' John's gaze doesn't waver, but Rodney doesn't want to have to feel him pull away, so he takes a calculated breath and covers the resulting cough with both hands, one warmer than the other.
"The device was activated not long before I arrived."
Michael nods, more for himself than for the scout standing dull and straight behind him. "The database?" he asks, tilting his head for the answer without moving his gaze from the still form sleeping in the cell below.
"My second pass was from farther away," his creation says, its voice closer now. "Their search of the ruins did not seem to stop with the bodies."
"Good," Michael says. "Prepare for your next task, and report to me before you leave." Without looking to see if he is obeyed, he turns back to spread his weight across the transparent partition between his room and the next, his smooth palms leaving slanted smear marks as he leans forward, watching.
Rodney takes a minute to thank fate for sparing his fingers from injury before he snatches the tablet computer from Sheppard's hand and starts typing. He doesn't ponder the fact that John's spent most of the past day and a half in his presence. He doesn't want to. Sheppard's unofficially confined to the infirmary after proving that 'taking it easy' hadn't been in his agenda once he'd been released the day before—and, after all, it's not as if he and John don't spend time together on a normal day. In any case, as soon as they'd finished with lunch, Rodney hadn't spent more than five minutes whining about being bored and exiled from his computer (again) before the man had disappeared for a short time and come back with it. He wonders how much time he'll have to check up on his underlings' work before Keller appears at the door and takes the tablet away again with more stern imprecations to "Sleep, Rodney—you should really be resting." He huffs indignantly.
"You're welcome," John says pointedly from the chair beside the bed. He's got War and Peace with him, and is sitting in a kind of forced casual way that Rodney suspects is meant to discourage questions about his well-being and hide that his ribs are still bothering him. It's not working at all, and somehow looks more painful than if Sheppard had just sat normally for a man painted with bruises.
"You're supposed to be watching for Keller, unless you want to liberate this thing from her office for the third time in the space of four hours," Rodney says by way of thanks. "I'd really like to see what they've managed to break while I've been stuck in here. I don't know why she insists on taking my computer away, anyway—even I know I'm not pleasant to be around when I'm bored."
"The time would go a lot faster if you spent at least some of it sleeping, like you're supposed to," John says in a bland voice.
"Yes, because that worked so well for you and Ronon," Rodney says, and winces. He wishes there were a way to take back the past two days—the past three weeks actually. He doesn't ever want to go through the stages of grief again when it comes to John Sheppard, even if he hadn't made it past the 'denial' phase. "The only reason I'm still subjected to this torture is that my ankle is broken and I can't get away. When Sam broke her leg—"
"Colonel Carter is in a lot better shape than you are, Rodney," John points out, and Rodney can't help shooting him a look, noting with relief that Sheppard's words appear to carry no hidden meanings other than stating an embarrassing fact. He wonders when it was that his moods stopped turning on a dime whenever Carter was mentioned, and decides that he's probably better off not knowing. Denial isn't just a stage of grief, after all.
"Colonel Sheppard, please respond," Colonel Carter's voice calls from his radio. John sits up too quickly from his slouch ("Ow, damnit.") and taps his own.
"Sheppard here, I'm with McKay."
"We've think we've found the Wraith tech he described. It's damaged, but looks salvageable. I estimate we're looking at an hour, maybe two before it'll be portable, and that's about the most time I want to spend here—we have no way of knowing when or if any more scout ships will come back. We've spent too much time here as it is."
"Has there been any indication of other ships in the area?" John asks a split second before Rodney voices his own concern.
"I'm going to have to take a look at it somewhere other than Atlantis, Sam—there were no indications on the scanner that the building was wired up to blow." Rodney still feels like he missed something; Michael is good, no doubt about that, but Rodney knows he's better. "There could be some kind of a beacon, or—"
"Tracking device. Yeah, I thought of that. John, can you pick a team to head to the Alpha site and prep it? Supplies for three days, maybe more, minimal military presence."
"On it," John says, pulling himself to his feet.
"I won't need much more than a day, unless he set up some kind of deletion algorithm," Rodney objects. "Not that I'd put it past him," he adds darkly. Finally, he tells himself, something to do!
"Rodney, we're not sure our new Alpha site is secure yet, and if this thing is booby trapped in some way we haven't detected, everyone there will need to be able to get out and make it to the gate as quickly as possible." Sam sounds apologetic, and Rodney's eyes dart over to catch John's as the other man hovers in the doorway waiting for an end to their impromptu meeting.
"That's fine. I can take a puddlejumper and cloak it nearby—problem solved," Rodney says swiftly, but it's too late, he can tell by the tone of her voice.
"I'm sorry, Rodney, but I just can't risk that. I'm going to have Zelenka take this project for now, but you can keep tabs on his progress during each check-in," Carter offers, as though this will make up for his being stuck in bed while someone else gets to do all the fun stuff.
"Look at it this way—now you'll have motivation to heal faster," John says, too low for Carter to hear.
"Yes, Colonel, because I'm actually only still here because I enjoy your company so much I faked a very painful injury just to spend time with you," Rodney grouses, forgetting to key off his mic. He assures himself that it still counts as sarcasm because there's no way in hell he'd engineer a situation this boring just so John would stay in proximity. He's too much of a genius to go to those extremes.
"That would work better if I were actually injured, McKay," Sam says impudently. He's pretty sure he's the one who indirectly taught her to project that level of smugness in her tone of voice, not that it makes him feel any better. "Carter out."
"See you, Rodney," John says, slipping from view before Rodney can come up with a sufficient retort. He's certain that whatever pain medications Dr. Keller has him on are seriously impairing his intellect, because he is still sitting there clutching his computer with his mouth hanging open three minutes later when she comes to check up on him.
"This was hardly worth it, was it?" Jennifer says as she pulls the laptop from his unresisting fingers. He really wants to argue, but he's tired and grumpy, and losing tug of war just isn't what he has in mind for his ego right now. Not to mention the fact that he wasn't successful in holding onto it the first two times, anyway. This turns out to work in his favor, as Keller eyes him sympathetically for a minute before speaking again.
"I tell you what. You take a nap, I let you have three hours without fear of laptop seizure. Deal?"
"Deal," Rodney agrees sourly, shutting his eyes—ostensibly to sleep, but really to plan a way of getting the infirmary clocks to pause at every fifth second. He drifts off into a light sleep in the middle of trying to decide whether the time and effort this will take would be worth the resulting extra thirty-six minutes.
It's not hard to find volunteers; John has his team and their supplies ready by lunchtime, and once he sees what Radek has prepared to take with him, he decides there's no need to "rationalize" a puddlejumper, it's become a necessary addition. John asks Coleson, Schmidt, Key, and Farber to start loading the jumper with Zelenka's supervision while he and Carter agree on regular check-in times. Jumper Two is as responsive as ever as they sail through the gate, and he parks within easy distance of the sturdy tent and cinderblock structure they have for shelter on the Alpha site.
While John organizes his men, sending two into the nearby hills to keep watch for ships, and the other two to the gate itself, Zelenka supervises the setup of his equipment and starts to interface it with what Michael left behind. He watches the marines' retreating backs for a few minutes, squinting up at the irregular sunlight before he heads into the tent to find a comfortable place to keep an eye on Radek's progress.
After having spent a careful hour of interfacing and another of quiet swearing in Czech, Radek is bouncing back and forth between the two workstations he's set up. Before long John starts to feel a little like he's a referee in some sort of lab-related tennis. In this scenario, though, an 'out' means one of the consoles blows up in their faces—or worse. Almost as if he can read John's mind, Zelenka makes a distressed noise and hunches over his primary laptop.
"Radek?" John asks, getting up from his solitaire game to peer over the other man's shoulder.
"As I thought," Zelenka says. "This is nothing more than a decoy. The data here is all linked, like… like digital trap. Accessing these folders for any length of time means the rest all…" He throws his hands up in a gesture that mimics a burst bubble. John thinks about this for a long moment, narrowing his eyes.
"But you can access some of it? It doesn't…" John's hand circles in on itself as he searches for the right phrasing. "Dissolve before you can catch anything?"
"Yes, it appears so—but what to pick?" Zelenka says, scrubbing a hand through his hair distractedly. "Was very clever of him. Just enough visible to pique interest, but any deeper and the rest will dissolve. And we have no way of knowing if the information we choose is not a false lead."
"Great," John says with deep sarcasm. "What do we have to pick from?"
Radek shoots him a look of excitement mixed with regret. "This one shows the location of every planet where Michael has a base," he said, pointing to each symbol in turn. "Here is what seems to be location beacons for Wraith ships—I cannot tell whether these are just ones under his control or perhaps also those he has tagged." John gives a low whistle, motioning Zelenka to continue, and the scientist taps a different glyph on the display screen. "Detailed maps and diagrams with symbols I do not recognize, but they appear to be of each base Michael is operating. I recognize a few gate addresses." He pauses, and then points again. "This is list of what could be names, but I cannot translate. There are… very many of them."
"Hybrids?" John guesses.
"We will hope not." Radek's expression is grim. "This one I still do not understand," he adds, pulling up an image from one of the other computers. It looks like a screenshot showing the contents of the last folder. John tips his head to the side, trying to make sense of the jumble of characters and symbols until…
"They're—" John traces his finger across a line of what he recognizes as constellations.
"Gate addresses, yes," Radek finishes for him, an edge of uncertainty still present in his excitement. "But there is no correlation with data from the first list. I cannot see the pattern, and this worries me."
"Nothing's jumping out at me, either," John confesses after they stare at the image for a few more minutes. "We should check in, though," he says, tapping his radio to inform the men at the gate to be ready to dial.
"While you do that, I will scan these images," Zelenka says. He had cheerfully explained to John on the ride over of the 'complicated transmission procedure' he'd put together to protect the Atlantis mainframe from any programs buried in the data. When Radek signals that his screenshots are ready to transfer, John sends the message to dial the gate.