Title: The Worst Day
Genres: Action Adventure, Hurt/Comfort (Contains Whump)
Word Count: 12,199
Warnings: Minor language.
Characters: Radek Zelenka, John Sheppard, Rodney McKay
Summary: Dr. Radek Zelenka's day starts off badly, then it gets worse.
Disclaimer: I do not own them; I would have treated them better.
Written for Stargateland's Little!Bang Challenge. Posted as member of Team Atlantis.
Character Prompt: Dr. Radek Zelenka Word Prompt: worst day
The Worst Day
The constant buzzing was grating on his nerves. He had attempted to ignore the harsh noise, but eventually, he lost what little patience he still possessed. Picking up the offending noise maker, he blindly threw it across the room. The resulting tinkle of shattered plastic and small metal parts hitting some object in his room gave him great satisfaction.
The persistent buzzing seemed to linger in his head; the despicable sound soon accompanied by a string of 'expletives deleted' uttered in Czech. His most descriptive words reserved for a certain pompous, arrogant, insomniac, Canadian scientist. He moaned into his pillow, not wanting to get out of bed. Why Stargate Command had given the responsibility of directing the science department to a man like that was an enigma. Anyone who decided the science briefing had to be held at 0600 hours every morning was clearly insane. Dr. Radek Zelenka rolled over onto his back, tangled in covers on the narrow bed which was barely long enough for him.
He willed himself to get out of bed, take a quick shower, and head for the conference room. The morning science briefing would unfold as it always did. Dr. Rodney McKay would be impatient, and Dr. Klaus Deidermeyer would be whining about something. Everyone else would be sleepy and fighting over coffee. Radek shuddered, pushed the covers away, and crawled out of bed. He had taken only a few steps before his bare foot pressed down on a piece of sharp plastic, a remnant of his alarm clock. Hopping around on his uninjured foot, he whimpered in pain from the small wound on his heel. He managed to step on several more shards, making small cuts on both feet. He was cursing in Czech again as he managed to make it to the bathroom, leaving a barely visible trail of blood behind him.
Twenty minutes later, Dr. Radek Zelenka wandered into the main conference room, not acknowledging anyone. He dropped his laptop on the table, and headed straight for the coffee station. As he was reaching for a cup, a burly bioengineer cut in front of him. Radek didn't see him until too late, and he bounced off the larger man, crashing to the floor. As he was scrambling to get up, he heard a hurried, high-pitched voice aimed in his direction, Dr. Rodney McKay.
"Zelenka, what the hell are you doing on the floor? Get up; we have a meeting to start. People, people settle down, busy man here." McKay snapped his fingers, expecting everyone to come to order.
Zelenka heard Deidermeyer's grating voice already beginning to complain as he grabbed the bioengineer's outstretched hand. He nodded in response to the offered apology, taking the cup of coffee handed to him. Turning to the table, he realized that Deidermeyer had occupied the chair in front of his computer. Reaching around the cranky scientist, who glared at him, he grabbed his laptop, and headed for the other end of the table.
Zelenka sipped his hot coffee, relaxing a bit as his tattered nerves began to calm. Rodney always called on him first, so he tapped the power key to turn on his laptop. When nothing happened, he stared at the blank screen, pressing the power key harder. The screen remained dark. He muttered, "Do háje," as McKay called on him to give his department report. Not hearing Rodney at first, Zelenka ignored him, which clearly did not sit well with McKay.
"Zelenka, when you finish playing Warcraft, would you mind telling us what absolute amazing things you are working on?" Rodney's voice was snarky, as he usually was in the morning.
"Rodney, I cannot access the data I was to give. My computer is not working." He was still trying to determine what was wrong with the computer, and wasn't looking at McKay. So he was not forewarned that the chief scientist's cheeks were turning crimson.
"Everyone, do not come in here and clutter up my meeting if you are not ready to give your report. Now which one of you is actually prepared?" Deidermeyer immediately started whining about some problem in his lab. McKay turned an even brighter shade of crimson as he cut the chemist off, calling on the botany department head.
Zelenka leaned back in his chair, exasperated. His hip ached from the fall, his feet hurt from the earlier cuts, and his head was beginning to throb. He wished for the ability to time travel; he would return to that moment just before the alarm buzzed, and start this day over. Since, as Colonel Sheppard always said, without a DeLorean and flux capacitor to time travel with, he was out of luck. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the reports being given, hoping the meeting would be over soon.
Two hours later, Radek Zelenka was in no better mood. The slight throbbing in his head had become a full-fledged headache, his hip was bruised and sore, and he was angry. His anger was directed at two of the engineers in his department. One had dropped a very delicate instrument used to measure the transference of energy through the Ancient crystals. Replacing the instrument would be costly. Radek knew that Woolsey would be pissed; the director would yell at Rodney, who would, in turn, yell at him. Another of his crack engineers had wiped out a day and a half's worth of research on the Ancient database by forgetting to save the file. The translated data lost was regarding the mention of a weapon under development by the Ancients. Having reported the finding to Colonel Sheppard, he knew that Sheppard was anxious to learn more about the weapon. He knew the colonel was patient, but when it came to weapons, he'd want to know quickly. That wasn't going to happen.
Lost in thought when his COM activated, he was startled, nearly falling off the stool he was sitting on. He clutched the edge of the lab bench to steady himself, and tapped his earpiece to answer.
A shaken voice replied, "Dr. Zelenka, come to Ronaldson's lab, there's been an accident. Dr. Ronaldson and Dr. Peet are hurt."
"Coming." Zelenka sprang from the stool, running out the lab door, a chain of Czech swear words trailing behind him. Like a mantra, the thought that he should have stayed in bed kept repeating itself in his head. This was turning out to be a really bad day.
When he arrived at Ronaldson' fluid mechanics lab, Zelenka saw that EMT teams had arrived. One team was attending to Dr, Peet. Dr. Ronaldson, who appeared unconscious, was already on a gurney and rolling toward the infirmary. Marine firefighters and a hazardous materials team were securing the damaged lab. A Marine security team had evacuated the scientists and techs from the surrounding labs.
The injured engineer had been dragged into the corridor by the young biologist, Janice Peet, who had sustained a cut on her arm. An EMT was placing a pressure bandage on the wound as Radek approached.
"Dr. Peet, are you alright?"
She nodded, but didn't speak. The EMT stood up, "Dr. Zelenka, Dr. Peet was passing by when the explosion occurred. She was blown against the wall of the corridor and stunned, but recovered enough to realize what had happened. She entered the lab, and while tugging some equipment off of Dr. Ronaldson, she must have caught her arm on a jagged edge. When she managed to get him untangled, she pulled him into the hallway, and then called for help.
"Is she badly hurt?" Radek asked. The biologist was new to the expedition, and very tiny. He remembered Colonel Sheppard asking if she was twelve years old. At four feet, nine inches and ninety-five pounds, she barely looked that old; however, Dr. Peet was twenty-six.
"The cut's pretty ragged and deep. It's going to require stitches, and maybe some plastic surgery. I'm certain that the docs will want to run some tests to determine if she has any internal injuries. She was really close to the blast, but she is alert and oriented, to a degree, just a bit groggy. How she pulled Ronaldson out of that lab is beyond me, he must outweigh her by a hundred and twenty pounds."
"Radek, what happened?" Radek spun toward the deep voice, belonging to Colonel Sheppard. The colonel was trotting down the corridor, Richard Woolsey a few paces behind him.
"I am not certain yet, colonel. The EMT's said there was an explosion; Dr. Ronaldson is researching fluid dynamics on a liquid crystal compound found on MX9-338. I did not think its properties were combustible, but…now, we will have to see."
Woolsey asked, "How is Dr. Ronaldson?"
"Do not know, the EMT's were transporting him to sick bay when I arrived. Dr. Peet pulled him from the lab; she was passing by when the lab exploded. She has very bad cut on her arm."
Radek watched as Sheppard knelt next to the biologist, telling her how brave she had been to rescue Ronaldson. The EMT's were ready to transport her; Sheppard easily and carefully picked Peet up, placing her on the gurney. She blushed, and smiled shyly at the handsome colonel. Radek was glad Rodney wasn't here to see the infatuated scientist; Rodney would tease the colonel unmercifully.
A short time later, Radek was waiting for word on Dr. Ronaldson's condition when McKay came into the infirmary. Radek saw his eyes darting around looking for him.
"Rodney, over here," he motioned to the scientist.
McKay came toward him, already asking questions. "What the hell happened? I go into the bowels of the city looking for a power leak, and one of your idiots tries to blow up the city. What did he do?"
Radek took a deep breath, he already had a headache, now it was worse. "Rodney, I do not know what happened. Ronaldson was working on the liquid crystal compound found on MX9-338. We did not think it was explosive. I do not know what he was doing at moment of the explosion. Dr. Peet was walking past; she was hit by blast, but was able to pull Ronaldson out of lab." Radek was tired and his English was beginning to fail.
"She's OK?" Rodney asked. Radek could tell he was truly concerned about the young scientist. Despite his sometimes impatient, gruff demeanor around people, Radek knew Rodney did care about them.
"Dr. Keller does not believe she has suffered any serious internal injuries, but she is going to keep her overnight. Dr. J is sewing up the cut on her arm right now.
"Good, good; what about Ronaldson?"
"Don't know yet."
"I can answer that." The men looked around to see Jennifer coming toward them. "He's going to live, but he has serious injuries. He suffered a serious concussion, his liver is bruised, as well as his lungs, but he's breathing on his own. He also has a broken arm, and is badly bruised overall. He is going to need at least four to five-weeks recuperation."
"Can we talk to him?" Rodney asked.
"Unfortunately, he is still unconscious, although he's exhibiting signs of waking up. Perhaps you can speak with him later this evening. I'll notify you know when he awakens." Jennifer returned to her patient.
"Radek, Sheppard's waiting for me; we are going off world to investigate some underground bunker that SGA-9 found. We should be back in a couple of hours. See if you can get this figured out. We'll meet when I get back." McKay turned to leave, but stopped at the infirmary door, "Is that liquid crystal secure?"
"Yes, it's in containment. I have Braun's team securing the lab."
Rodney flung up his hand, Radek decided that must mean OK, and left to join his team. Radek glanced at his watch, shaking his head. All of this had occurred before 1000 hours. He hoped the remainder of the day would be uneventful.
By noon, Radek gave up; nothing was going right. With Rodney off-world, everyone in Atlantis with a problem was pestering him. Captain Waters, a seasoned jumper pilot, had limped home from a mission with navigational problems. He had barely managed to coax the jumper to lift off on the planet. The captain was forced to park the jumper in the gate room when it refused to elevate into the jumper bay. The jumper mechanics worked over an hour to get the nav system to recognize that the jumper needed to 'ascend,' as Woolsey had put it. Woolsey was upset because the gate was taken off-line while repairs were underway. The director paced the balcony asking, every five minutes, if the jumper was fixed. Exasperated, Radek knew he would like to do with the jumper, but he'd then have to answer to Colonel Sheppard. Not worth risking his life over; the colonel was over-protective of the jumpers. Once that crisis was solved, the thermostat in the huge freezer in the mess quit working; then some idiot broke a large water pipe, and the list went on and on. Radek decided that he was not going to get any of his work done without his laptop which IT hadn't returned. Until Rodney returned, he decided to quit trying, and headed for the mess for lunch.
Grabbing a tray, Radek rushed through the mess line, and sought out a quiet, isolated spot to sit. He simply desired some peace and quiet. Before he left the infirmary, Julius Jackson, better known as Dr. J, had given him a couple of ibuprofen to ease the pain in his head. Now that the headache had lessened, Radek did not want to risk it returning. He was about halfway through his meal when his COM cackled. It was Woolsey ordering him to the control room, stat. He sprang up, grabbing his cupcake, and quickly headed for the transporter.
The control room and gate room were buzzing with activity. The gate was activated; a jumper descended into the gate room pausing briefly before accelerating through the event horizon. He heard Chuck say that the first jumper with combat engineers aboard was away. As he entered the control room, he saw Jennifer Keller and a med evac team entering as well. This cannot be good, he thought to himself. When he saw Colonel Sheppard, covered in dust, a cut on his arm and one across his forehead, Radek had a sinking feeling that something was very wrong.
"Jennifer, leave me alone."
Keller had spotted Sheppard's bloody forehead and arm. "Colonel, if you don't let me tend to those wounds, you aren't going anywhere." Dr. Keller was standing her ground, but even she began to wither under Sheppard's steely gaze.
"I don't think you understand, Jennifer. Rodney has fallen through the roof of some kind of underground facility and we can't reach him. He's probably hurt, and some kind of noise began the second the roof fell, and we don't know what it means. We have to get him out now."
Sheppard pivoted from Jennifer to face Lorne and Woolsey. It was Woolsey, who spotted Radek and called him over. When Sheppard noticed him, he ordered him to gear up; they needed him to figure out what the device making the sound was, and how to stop it.
Within fifteen minutes of arriving in the control room, Radek found himself in a jumper piloted by Major Lorne. Colonel Sheppard was also in the back of the jumper, sitting across from him. The colonel had given Keller the ten-minute journey between the Atlantis gate and their destination to patch up his wounds. Sheppard was very pale, but Jennifer had ceased arguing with him. She had been around the colonel long enough to know when one of his people was in trouble, there was no stopping him. Besides, she had to be just as worried about Rodney as he was.
Radek hesitated to interrupt Dr. Keller, but he had to ask the colonel some questions.
"Colonel, can you tell me anything more about this noise that is being emitted?"
Sheppard had been staring at the floor while Keller was working on him; he looked up at the Czech engineer, "Not much. The combat engineers who were onsite with us this morning were doing soundings to determine how large the underground bunker was, and if there were any weak areas. I had a couple of teams out looking for hidden entrances, but they hadn't found anything yet. We were progressing across what we thought was the roof area, when McKay started picking up some energy readings. Like he always does, he got excited and took off toward the readings. I tried to get him to stop, but the pig-headed…" Sheppard stopped, he wasn't able to finish. Jennifer put her hand on Sheppard's shoulder; he flashed her slight smile, then continued.
"He was moving really quickly, when he just dropped out of sight. Once that area fell, a lot of the roof area began to collapse. Ronon grabbed me and pulled me away right before the ground beneath me crumbled. I got cut when I fell onto some rocks." He looked over at Jennifer, "We tried to raise Rodney on the radio, but no answer. I swung around to what we thought was the edge of the area closest to where Rodney fell. I tried to pick him up on the LSD, but there was too much interference. Franklin thinks the noise is the source of the interference."
"The readings from the sound?"
"Franklin reported he started picking up the energy signal as soon as the breach happened. He said the signal was strong and, for the most part, steady, but that there was some fluctuation in the signal. As soon as I heard something had been activated, I knew we needed more equipment, so I returned to Atlantis to organize the rescue. While I'm here, Ronon and Teyla are tying to make their way to the area where Rodney fell. Teyla's lighter so she's going to see if she can get close to the edge of the hole. There are two squads of Marine's with them and a couple of CE's."
Lorne called from the cockpit that they were approaching the site. Sheppard rose and went forward. Radek glanced over at Dr. Martin Cox and Lt. Dean May, both from the Ancient Tech lab. Radek had brought them along for their expertise in Ancient artifacts. Dr. Cox had never been off world, but he appeared calm. Lt. May was an excellent materials engineer, but an Air Force officer first. He had never been on a mission with Sheppard before, and Radek could tell the lieutenant was excited; his eyes never left his CO. No doubt a bit of hero worship for the young lieutenant, Radek thought. He was confident they would be fine on this mission; he wasn't so sure about himself. His friend was in danger; he was anything but calm.
Once on the ground, Radek found things were a bit more chaotic than he expected. There had been another collapse of the roof area and two CE's fell into the pit. They were lucky as only a small area caved in, and the surrounding area was a bit more stable. They were rescued after only a few minutes. The combat engineers had been able to determine that there was about two feet of topsoil over most of the bunker, then a fairly thick cover of a material very much like concrete. It had some silicon properties as well, but it cracked and crumbled like very old concrete.
Lieutenant Stackhouse met Sheppard as he exited the jumper. "Sir, we've made a little progress in laying support toward the opening Dr McKay fell into. The equipment brought by CB's a few minutes ago is making the process quicker. Also, sir, Corporal Brenner reports a possible opening…he used the word portal…on the north side of structure."
Sheppard tapped his earpiece, "Brenner, Sheppard. Stackhouse says you found a 'portal.' Describe what you found."
"Yes sir; we found a structure that looks like a miniature stargate, but only big enough for a couple of people to go through at a time, sir. It's not really a gate, but we think it's a device of some kind. It's sure not carved out of stone."
"OK, corporal, stay there, don't touch anything, we'll be there in a few minutes." Sheppard turned to Radek.
"Radek, take your geeks, get them set up; then find me. We'll check out this gate structure that Brenner and Rodriquez located. I'm going to check in with Ronon and Teyla first. Stackhouse, send two men with Dr. Zelenka's men, and two with the med team. Lorne, you're with me."
Radek motioned to Cox and May to follow him, and they headed toward the same area the colonel was heading. The main collapse area where McKay was trapped.
A few minutes later, the two scientists were beginning to set up their equipment to monitor the energy readings. Within a few minutes, they were monitoring the signal, which was still strong but fluctuating. Once the scientists were settled, Radek went to find the colonel.
He spotted the tall, spiky-hair colonel in a small group of people. The group included Teyla, Ronon, Lorne, Jennifer and Dr. J. He walked toward them; Sheppard nodded to him, and continued to listen to Ronon.
"Teyla made it within three feet of the rim, and the ground started to fall in. I pulled her out with the safety line Stackhouse insisted on."
Teyla spoke, "I don't think we are going to be able to go in from the outer edges."
"Lorne had a rescue harness attached under the jumper we came in, as well as, a camera. I want that camera lowered into that hole, so we can get some eyes on what's going on down there. Radek and I are going to check out this 'portal' thing. Maybe it's a way to get into that chamber." Turning toward Radek, he motioned for the scientist to follow him. Radek was scrambling to catch up when Dr. J stopped Sheppard.
"Colonel, if we can get in that way and find Dr. McKay, you may need my services." Dr. J looked at Jennifer who nodded her agreement."
Sheppard nodded his own agreement and said, "Let's go."
The terrain consisted of thick groves of trees scattered with meadows of varying sizes. A wide band of trees surrounded the perimeter of the underground facility; the roof area was covered in grasses. A heavy mist hung in the air, accentuating the chilly temperature. The walk to the north side of the underground chamber took about ten minutes. Coming through a thick grove of trees, they could see a clearing where the small circular structure stood. The 'gate' was similar to the Atlantis gate in that it had three blue crystal energy indicators and appeared to be made of the same material, but there were no markings on the gate. Rodriguez and Brenner were standing next the structure; Sheppard estimated it was at least eight feet in diameter.
"Colonel, there does not appear to be a DHD nearby, this is not a gate. It could be…" Radek ceased talking. As they stepped into the clearing, a soft humming sound began to emanate from the ring; the blue crystals embedded in the ring began to glow dimly.
Brenner and Rodriquez jumped away from the gate, guns raised. Rodriguez noticed Sheppard first. "Sir, did you do that?"
As Sheppard approached, the closer his proximity to the ring, the stronger the hum and the brighter the crystals glowed. "It appears, I may have, corporal." Sheppard continued to walk closer to the structure, as did Radek. The others held back.
Joining the colonel, Radek took readings on the tablet he had borrowed from Dr. Cox. "Colonel, I lack the programming, I usually have to interpret readings. However, this is definitely a piece of Ancient technology." He walked closer to the ring, and Sheppard followed him.
"Can you see any controls?" Sheppard was circling the ring.
Radek began speaking in Czech; it was evident that he was distressed. Sheppard understood enough Czech to know Radek was annoyed "Hey, Dr. Z, what's the problem?"
Radek looked up; his hair was sticking out from his habit of rubbing his head, his glasses perched the tip of his nose. He sighed, pushing his glasses up, "It has been very bad day that became a whole lot worse, colonel. I am fine, just upset because I do not have my own laptop with me. It broke this morning." Radek shuddered, trying to throw off his discontent. "Colonel, I do not see controls, and for the last few minutes, the power readings have been steady. I believe you activated the device, but there has to be more."
Their COM's activated, "Colonel, Lorne. Sir, we have the stationary camera in the area where Dr. McKay fell. Sir, the area appears solid with debris. We can't see anything. Lt. Michen is about to lower the snake camera in order to see if he can maneuver around the debris."
Radek glanced at Sheppard; both men were thinking the same thing and neither was going to admit it. Dr. McKay's chances of survival were diminishing.
"Understood, major; keep me informed. This ring structure has activated; it could be a transport, a door, of some kind. We're checking it out; I'll let you know; Sheppard out."
Sheppard was silent; Radek noticed he was tapping the stock of his P-90, staring at the ring. Then Sheppard closed his eyes. Within seconds, a shimmering veil of pale blue light flooded the inner circumference of the ring.
Radek quietly said, "Colonel?" Sheppard opened his eyes and smiled slightly.
"Apparently, all you have to do is ask nicely if you can enter."
Sheppard tapped his earpiece, "Lorne, I think we have a way in. I am going to take Brenner and Rodriguez with me. If you don't hear from us in thirty, get someone with the gene to try to get in. Somehow I doubt we'll have COM reception in there." Sheppard listened for a moment, then signed off.
"Ok, everyone…let's do this. Corporals, you have the six, I'll take point." Sheppard approached the ring, hesitating for a moment before he stepped into the pale blue light and disappeared.
Dr. J glanced at Radek and smiled, "Well, I wanted adventure." He, too, stepped into the light and disappeared.
Radek looked at the activated ring, and thought, "Yes, this day has been a very bad day. Rodney, you'd better be OK." He closed his eyes, holding his breath; he stepped into the pale blue glowing light.
A strong hand, belonging to Colonel Sheppard, grabbed his arm pulling him to the left. Brenner came through the pale blue portal right behind him. Dr. J snagged the corporal to give his teammate room to appear. After Rodriguez came through, the portal closed. The beams from the P-90s' attached tactical light, and the glow from Radek's tablet was the only illumination in the chamber. Radek found himself in a large, dark chamber which was considerably warmer than aboveground. He was trying to determine the direction that the power was coming from so that perhaps he could get the lights on, when the lights came on.
"Colonel, you asked for lights?" Radek asked almost in a whisper.
Sheppard sighed, "Yeah...looks like this station doesn't operate automatically. We may have to ask for we want, which means the doors may not open, unless I asked them to, so be careful. No one else here has the gene do they?" A chorus of no's sounded, sending a frown onto Sheppard's face, he pulled out his LSD. "Well, I don't have any life signs on this but our own. Let's check this room out quickly, then start moving toward the area where Rodney fell. Be careful, people, this roof isn't safe; the CE's say the entire roof could be unstable."
The lights had revealed a large room, about four times the size of the main conference room on Atlantis. The walls were pale blue and were adorned with dark blue panels not unlike those on Atlantis. The furniture was charcoal gray, also similar in design to the furniture on Atlantis. The light was coming from fixtures that were recessed into the ceiling, and from panels that were scattered across the room. There was a large counter against one wall; behind the counter, there were storage units with many shallow drawers, Radek recognized the units immediately. He waited to comment until the colonel tried to contact Lorne on the radio without success.
"Colonel, those cabinets behind the counter are like the ones on Atlantis. They provide storage for data crystals. I do not know what this place is, but there could be thousands of crystals stored in those cabinets alone." Radek's face was animated from his excitement at imagining what could be on the crystals.
"Radek, once we find Rodney and the engineers are able to stabilize this place, we'll return to check this out. For now, we need to move on." There were two doors leading from the room, Sheppard decided on checking out the one directly opposite the portal. It led to the direction where they thought McKay was. Walking up to it, he thought 'open', the doors slid apart to reveal a dark corridor.
Sheppard flipped on his tac light to obtain a visual on the corridor. Radek saw that the corridor appeared to be quite lengthy. He noticed a low humming, and was about to ask the colonel if he heard it as well, when sconces hung along the corridor walls began to brighten.
"I take it that is you again, colonel." Sheppard nodded and Radek remarked, "You are handy to have around.'
Sheppard chuckled, "Yeah, I always knew you guys only loved me for my gene," Radek laughed along with him.
The corridor was lined with doorways; panels adorned with Ancient numbers were attached to the wall next to the doors. Radek looked at Sheppard, "Colonel, could we open one of these doors to see what is inside? It could help us determine where we are and what this place is for. We might be able to find something that would tell us where Rodney is."
Sheppard replied, the hint of a grin crossed his face, "Radek, you geeks are all alike, curious to the end." He raised one finger, "One door, that's all." Sheppard approached the nearest door, thinking it open. Immediately, sconces brightened to reveal a closet-sized room. Inside was space for a narrow console with an embedded control panel with numerous slots for crystals. An Ancient monitor sat on the console; a chair the only other item in the room.
"Radek?" Sheppard looked at him inquisitively.
Radek shook his head, "To me, it appears to be a library carrel; this is most intriguing."
"OK, that's it; we're moving on. Let's pick up the pace." Sheppard continued walking. Radek scurried to keep up; Dr. J and the corporals following behind.
The corridor continued on for nearly fifty feet then opened into a large lobby. Again there were sofas and chairs and a central station outfitted with similar consoles to the ones in the small room. There were open corridors, the three corridors that branched out all had doors made of patterned colored glass.
"Colonel, this looks like a waiting room." Dr. J remarked.
Sheppard responded, "Yeah, doc, it certainly does. The question is, waiting for what? Radek, which one of these doors gets us closer to where Rodney fell?"
Radek gestured to the left doorway, "I believe that one, colonel." Sheppard walked toward the door, commanding it to open. As he walked through the doorway, Radek directly behind him, a deafening siren pierced the silence. Numerous advanced-looking weapons descended from the perimeter of 'lobby' ceiling. The three men remaining in the lobby ran, making it into the corridor as the doorway slammed shut. The siren ceased as soon as the door closed.
Dr. J was slightly unnerved and breathing somewhat raggedly. "Colonel, what the hell triggered that?"
Radek was still quivering as he watched Sheppard peer through the tinted glass door. He reflected that Sheppard must have nerves made of Alloy 1090. Radek had been startled, his body jerking, his heart racing. He probably shrieked as well; hopefully, no one would tell Rodney. Sheppard, however, never flinched, just turned toward the horrid din, and began shouting for the others to run. The colonel sounded composed as he spoke.
"If I was betting, I would say that you guys should probably to stay close to me. I can see the panels those weapons emerged from." He turned around, looking at the ceiling in the corridor. "They don't appear to be in this ceiling. That must be some sort of security sector. Without the gene, you guys must have set off the alarm; as I said, you need to stay close to me. Let's go." Sheppard headed off down the corridor; the others, literally on his six.
Radek was hustling to keep up with Sheppard's longer stride. They had been underground for nearly twenty minutes, and had yet to reach the area where Rodney had fallen through the ceiling. Radek sensed that Sheppard was getting anxious; his normally relaxed gait had been replaced by a more regulated walk, his torso rigid. Radek knew the colonel was alert to every nuance of their surroundings. A few more minutes of walking and they arrived at an intersection; another long corridor extended to their right. Sheppard threw up his hand, clenched in a fist; the entourage halted.
"Radek, which way?"
"According to the readings from earlier, colonel, we should take this corridor to the right. I believe it is heading toward Rodney."
"Then we go that way." Sheppard guided them to the right. The corridor was long; however, the lighting was considerably dimmer than the other corridors.
"Colonel Sheppard, energy readings are registering a bit lower here. I believe there is a power drain close by."
"Sheppard nodded, "Probably from the cave in area where Rodney is. Come on, people. Let's pick up the pace." Sheppard began moving faster, and Radek was practically jogging to keep up with him.
They were approaching another doorway. Radek was about to comment that the door was just like the ones in the security area they had passed through, when Sheppard stopped. Radek stayed right behind Sheppard, as he approached the glass door and peered through. Looking around the taller man, Radek saw a similar but smaller security area beyond the door.
Sheppard blew out a breath of air, and turned to the rest of his party. "OK, this room looks similar to the security area that we passed through before. It's smaller though, so we should get across quickly. There is only one door directly opposite this one. Once I open the door, I'll step through; we'll cross to the other doorway. I'll stay in the area until you're all in the corridor. It's too dim to see the ceiling panels, but I'll venture that they have the same weapons; move quickly.
Radek swallowed deeply, waiting for the colonel to open the door. He had been on dangerous missions before, but he never understood how Sheppard and his team always seemed so calm. Currently, he was shaking in his sneakers.
The door slid open and Sheppard walked into the dimly lit room. Radek followed, as did the others, on Sheppard's six, as close as he could comfortably get. They were nearly at the other door when they heard the now familiar sound of weapons dropping from the ceiling.
Sheppard quickly ran across the room, the others right behind him. The colonel skidded to a stop at the door. Radek began to get a bit concerned as he heard the colonel yell, "Open, damn it." The door didn't budge. Sheppard turned to him. "Radek, get this door open." Sheppard stepped to the left and pointed toward the door control panel on the wall.
Radek didn't have time to think, he pulled the panel away, throwing it on the floor and began to rearrange the crystals, attempting to close the electrical circuit. It wasn't working. He was concentrating on the control panel when he heard the unmistakable sound of weapons powering up.
"Radek, now," Sheppard's voice was low and calm. Only the fact that he enunciated each word emphatically, betrayed his tension.
"I'm trying, colonel." Radek was pulling out the cross crystal to examine it when the weapons began to fire. Rodriguez, Brenner, Sheppard stepped in front of Dr. J and Radek, firing at the weapons. Brenner's first shot took out one weapon, Sheppard's another; Rodriguez was about to fire on a third weapon when Radek yelled.
"Yes, it is open. Come on!"
Radek rushed through the open door, traveling down the hallway a bit to give the others room. Dr. J came next, and Radek saw Sheppard grab Brenner by the TAC vest, pushing him through the doorway. The colonel was reaching for Rodriquez when the weapons fired again, a blast of energy hitting Rodriguez in the chest.
"Crap," Sheppard shouted while he grabbed the fallen corporal and dragged him through the door way. As he cleared the door, Sheppard sent the command to close the glass door and it slid shut. He knelt beside Rodriguez, "Ray, Ray, can you hear me?"
Rodriguez stirred as Sheppard became aware that Brenner had also knelt beside his best friend. "Hey, broki, you OK?"
Rodriguez opened his eyes; a slight smile crossed his face, replaced by a grimace of pain. "Hey, colonel…I'm rubbing off on the gringo." His eyelids fluttered and closed, and Sheppard realized Rodriguez had lapsed into unconsciousness.
"Yeah, you are…corporal." Sheppard smiled, but moved away as Dr. J pushed him slightly.
Standing up, Sheppard tapped Brenner on the shoulder, "Corporal, you need to stay here to protect Dr. J and Rodriguez. Doc, Radek and I will continue looking for Rodney, and come back for you when we find him. OK." Dr. J nodded as he was pulling supplies from his rucksack.
Brenner was unconvinced, "Colonel, we know this place is dangerous; I need to help you."
Sheppard looked down at the young corporal, his eyes serious, "No, you don't. Right now the most important person we need to protect is Dr. J. Rodriguez needs him and I suspect McKay will, too. Take care of them both; Radek and I will be fine."
"Radek, we need to go." Before he moved, Sheppard looked at Dr. J. "Doc, how is he?"
"Lucky, I think, colonel. The blast caught him in the upper left chest, not directly over his heart. I think you pulled him out of the way in time to prevent him taking a direct hit in the center of his chest. That may have saved his life."
Radek watched Sheppard as he listened to the doctor. The colonel was chewing on his lower lip, a telltale sign that he was apprehensive. Radek notice that his eyes reflected relief at Dr. J's report, while he maintained a stoic expression. Rodriguez and Brenner were very special to Sheppard; they had saved his life on more than one occasion. Besides, Radek could tell that the colonel genuinely liked the young men.
"Good, take care of him, doc. Brenner, you take care of both these guys. Don't leave this corridor until I get back."
Brenner replied with an understood, sir. Sheppard spun around and headed down the corridor, expecting Radek to follow. Radek didn't hesitate.
"Colonel, those weapons didn't wait to fire until you were no longer in the room. Why?"
"Wondering that myself; this part of the complex must be more restrictive. It must require more identification than simply the gene to gain access to this area. What the hell is this place, Radek?"
"I do not know for sure, colonel, but I suspect it might be an Ancient library. If it is, why is it located in the Pegasus galaxy?"
"Asking why the Ancients did anything is the big question, Radek. The problem is figuring out the answer. Looks like we are about to take a turn to the left, does that get us closer to where we think Rodney is?"
Radek looked down at his tablet, "I believe it will, colonel."
The bend in the corridor was approaching. As they got closer, their vision began fading as the light began to dim. When they reached the turn, Sheppard motioned for Radek to stop. The colonel flattened against the wall on the inside corner of the passageway. He peered around the edge, and then stepped around, disappearing from view.
Radek waited impatiently. He was nervous; anxious about Rodney, worried about Rodriguez, scared about what was down that dark corridor. The colonel was out of sight for what felt like an eternity. Radek was trying to be quiet, but the sound of his own heart beating was pounding in his ears. He thought his heart was going to leap from his chest when Sheppard reappeared and hurriedly motioned for him to come along.
Radek turned the corner, gasping at the condition of the building. The hallway where they were standing was intact, but approximately thirty feet from them was devastation. The ceiling was sagging, fractured; chunks of the panels were scattered about the hallway, obstructing their passage in some spots. The lights were dim where the destruction began, beyond, it was pitch black.
"Yeah… I scouted ahead; it's a mess. I'm not certain far we can get, but we've gotta to try. At least, we know we're in the right place."
"Yes, we must try; Rodney is counting on us." Radek steeled himself for the danger ahead. Rodney would do the same for him.
Sheppard started down the corridor; Radek followed. The colonel's tac light and the flashlight that he carried soon became their only illumination. Both men tripped a couple of times on chunks of ceiling debris as they made their way down the corridor.
"Hold this; need to move a couple of these pieces."
Radek grabbed the P-90 Sheppard shoved at him. He aimed both flashlights on the area where Sheppard shoved a couple of large pieces of the ceiling toward the wall. Once a narrow path was cleared, Radek handed Sheppard his weapon back, and they continued.
"Colonel, I am beginning to get a spike in the energy levels. Although there are no lights, something is powered up a…" Radek wasn't paying attention to the debris in his path. He stumbled and toppled over a large chunk of what appeared to be concrete. The small scientist's body pitched hard into the opposite wall of the corridor.
"Radek, you OK?" Sheppard asked, as he knelt down beside him.
Radek wearily struggled to sit upright. His hair was sticking out wildly in every direction; his glasses askew. He exhaled before he answered the colonel, "I'm alright. At least, I think I'm OK. This has been a dreadful day that is only getting worse."
Sheppard grinned slightly, holding out his hand to help Radek up. "Don't say that; although, I have a gut feeling you might be right. As Radek stood with the colonel's support, Sheppard continued, "As long as we find McKay, it will be OK." Radek nodded in response, and they continued down the hall. With each footstep, they plowed through an increasing mass of debris.
They had traversed another twenty feet when the tac light on Sheppard's P-90 revealed another glass doorway. A large amount of debris and dirt was piled against the door, partially blocked passage. Sheppard carefully moved up to the glass, standing on a chunk of concrete. Dirt covered the glass and Sheppard wiped it away with his shirt sleeve.
Radek stood back as Sheppard peered through the still dirty glass, using his hand to wipe a smaller section a bit cleaner. Radek didn't take a breath until the colonel spoke.
"That's daylight filtering through; we have to be close to where Rodney fell in. There's rubble and dirt everywhere. Room looks like the others, bigger than the last one. There seems to be some to be some kind of equipment on the left side. Can't see well from this angle. Help me move this panel; I need to get further in that corner to get a better view." Sheppard started to hop down from the section of the large panel he was standing on, but lost his footing. He fell on top of a large piece of the roof material; his lower left side impacting on a sharp, narrow side of the chunk.
Radek clutched the edge of the colonel's vest before he rolled completely off the rock-like object, lowering Sheppard gently to the floor. "Colonel, are you OK?"
Sheppard shook his head yes, but the grimace that passed his face told the true story. "Help me, up."
Radek slid his arm under the colonel's to provide leverage. Planting his feet to support Sheppard's weight, Radek strained while the colonel pushed up off the floor. Once he was upright, Radek handed him his P-90. Leaning against the wall, Sheppard tired to catch his breath, but the air was thick with dust. Sheppard began coughing harshly from the fine particles he inhaled.
"Colonel?" Radek held out his small canteen. Sheppard grabbed the container, taking a long drink of water. As he handed the canteen back, he managed to speak, although his voice was raspy, rough.
"Thanks. Let's get that panel moved." As Sheppard moved, he groaned, and rubbed his side, but continued. Together, they pulled the large ceiling panel away from the door. Sheppard carefully inched over the remaining pile and flattened against the glass.
"I can see the entire room; it looks like the far left corner is caved in. There's light coming through the ceiling, filtering through gaps in the debris." Radek watched as Sheppard pushed against the glass to gain a clearer view. Seconds later, Sheppard reacted.
"Rodney's in there, he's lying in front of that console thing. He's covered with a lot of rubble." Sheppard was quiet for few seconds, then said, "The door won't open, it's stuck. Help me pull this stuff away."
Radek and Sheppard worked feverishly to pull away the debris. The pieces were ragged and sharp, and in some cases quite heavy. Radek noticed that every time Sheppard pulled on a heavy piece, he was stifling a groan. He had suspected the colonel was hurt worse than he would admit. When they had most of the big pieces away, Sheppard tried again but the door didn't move.
"Radek," Sheppard stepped away from the door. Radek pulled off the door control cover off and jiggled the crystals, then moved them around.
"Do háje! There is no power coming to the control…hold on, there is weak reading…give me moment"
Radek concentrated on the task, trying to forget about Rodney lying on the floor in the room beyond. He allowed brief thanks that Sheppard was patient or, at least, was being quiet. If the situation had been reversed, Rodney would be clamoring at him to hurry up. Then again, Rodney would have already elbowed him out of the way and taken over. He traced the source of the feeble current and made the connections; hoping he could bring enough power to the door to open it.
Sheppard spoke, "Open." The door hissed, parted slightly, then stopped. He repeated the command with the same results.
Radek fiddled with the crystals again, "The control is receiving power, now; there could be a short somewhere. Hold on; let me see." He pulled one out and rubbed in on his sleeve, replaced it. Turning to Sheppard, he nodded. This time the colonel gave a silent command, and the door slid roughly, jerking as it tried to open. The door panels partially opened, stalled, then slammed shut. Particles of dirt and tiny pieces of the ceiling floated like confetti over them.
"Pani ho do pekla! Tato věc je kus šoustající shit." Radek began cursing in Czech; he was becoming very frustrated. Turning to Sheppard, "Plukovník, dělat nebude...sorry…I do not know what is wrong, unless crystal has microscopic crack. I believe that…"
Looking at him, Sheppard frowned, "Radek, this calls for drastic measures." Picking up a piece of debris, "This should do the trick. Watch yourself." Sheppard turned around and threw the 'rock' at the glass doors. Both men watched in astonishment as the heavy object stuck the glass and bounced off.
"Son of a bitch," Sheppard was pissed. "What the crap is that made of?" Sheppard walked up to the door, pushing on the glass. Radek watched as the frustrated man slammed the butt of his P-90 against the glass. The glass reverberated, but didn't break. Sheppard, however, grabbed his shoulder, in obvious pain. "Shit…this is pissing me off."
"Colonel, that 'glass' may not be pure glass; I believe it must be reinforced."
Radek withered a bit, when Sheppard turned and glared at him, sharply uttering, "You think?"
Radek asked, "Should we try the door again?"
He waited for Sheppard to comment, but the colonel simply stared at him for a moment. Then he began looking around the corridor floor; his tac light pausing when he came to a big piece of rubble. Hooking his P-90 to his vest, Sheppard picked up the thick, heavy block, and started to make his way to the door.
"Radek, get that control working; when the door opens, I'm gonna wedge this between them. This should keep the doors separated enough for us to pass through. Give me a second to get set."
Radek went back to the controls; he felt a tinge of hope when the sensors in his tablet indicated that the power levels were increasing slightly. Perhaps, it would be enough. "Colonel, the door is drawing power from another source. We might have better chance."
Sheppard grunted, "Understood," as he strained to slide the sizable block into place. Satisfied that he had the make-shift doorstop where it needed to, he looked at Radek, "Ready?"
As he bridged the crystals, Radek heard the door emit a low buzzing sound. The morning episode with his alarm clock invaded his thoughts; the morning seemed more than mere hours ago. The door panels started pulling apart, jerking from the center, then flew open. The doors vibrated roughly. Sheppard used his weight to shove the block into the door's path, then stepped back quickly. No sooner had he cleared the door, did the door slam shut, or nearly shut. The block accomplished what Sheppard had intended; it succeeded in keeping the door panels apart.
Slipping through the opening, Radek didn't wait for Sheppard, he ran straight to where Rodney was lying. The rubble was piled around the Ancient console standing next to McKay. McKay was lying in an area of less dense debris; his legs trapped by what appeared to be a ceiling support beam. The scientist was pale, even in the dim light, and so still that Radek was extremely concerned. He was shaking as he dropped to his knees, reaching out to check Rodney's pulse. As he pressed his fingers to Rodney's neck, he began to breathe easier. He could feel a pulse, weak, but there. Radek was about to yell the news that Rodney was alive to Sheppard when the last sound they hoped to hear shattered the silence. The piercing siren that accompanied the security weapons activated. Turning around, Radek saw two weapons drop from the section of the ceiling still intact; another dropped but was clearly damaged.
Looking toward the colonel, he saw Sheppard take aim at one of the weapons. He fired, but the weapon rotated at the last second and the round missed its target.
Over the din of the siren, Radek heard Sheppard shouting, "Radek, is McKay OK? Can you drag him out of the way?"
"No, he is pinned by debris, but he is alive. His pulse is weak, and he is unconscious." Radek was hiding behind a large pile of rubble. He wasn't certain that Sheppard could hear everything he said.
He glanced at Rodney, who was somewhat in the open, to the extent that he was exposed to the weapon, but, most likely, not in danger due to his artificial ATA gene. Sheppard was crouched behind a piece of furniture; he was not in danger from the weapon. No, the Czech scientist knew the weapon was clearly tracking him. He muttered while waiting for Sheppard to tell him what to do, "Toto je vellum špatný den." It had been very bad day, indeed.
Radek peered around the rubble to see what Sheppard was doing. At that moment, the colonel was taking aim at one of the weapons. A few seconds later the room reverberated with the sound of P-90 fire, and one Ancient security weapon bit the dust. Then the roof caved in.
A crack in the ceiling started at the edge of the earlier collapse, above where Rodney was trapped. Extending across the large room, the crack ended directly above the doorway they had entered. As the ceiling began to fall, Radek guessed that the extreme vibration of the doors, along with the concussion from the P-90 fire, increased stress on the crack. With the damage already done, that amount of mechanical stress could cause an additional collapse. Radek had little time to react.
"Radek, get to cover." He barely heard Sheppard's voice over the rumble of the falling ceiling. Sheppard yelled something else to him, but he had already spun around toward Rodney, intending on shielding him from the debris. Anything Sheppard shouted was lost in the din. He flung his body across Rodney's head and back, sheltering his own head with his arms.
The sound of the ceiling breaking, rocks and debris spilling into the far side of the room seemed to go on forever. The air was filling with dust and dirt particles, fragments from the ceiling were bouncing off the floor, some rolling in his direction. Radek was coughing, the thick air seeping in under his arms. He was beginning to think this would never end, when the deafening noise abated. Only the muffled sound of smaller rocks and settling debris, reached his ears. He checked Rodney and could find no addition injuries, although he was still out cold. Then it hit him, there was no other sound, no human sound. Colonel Sheppard wasn't calling out to see if he and Rodney were ok.
Struggling to his feet, Radek turned toward the area where he had last seen the colonel. There was nothing there but a pile of dirt, ceiling panels, and concrete. He cautiously made his way through the newly deposited rubble. Visibility was limited, the settling dust still thick and swirling. He had tucked his flashlight into the waistband of his trousers; groping for it, he nabbed the small light, and switched it on. Most of the beam bounced back at him, but he could see slightly better, and began scouring the room for any sign of Sheppard.
He whispered "Zůstávají klidné, Radek", to himself, trying to make certain he remained calm. He swept the devastated area slowly, so he wouldn't miss anything; calling for Sheppard had produced no results. Radek's panic level was escalating quickly when he caught a glint of deep red in the flashlight beam, then of something dark and shiny…and spiky. He allowed his eyes to adjust to the dim light; it was Sheppard or more precisely, Sheppard's hair. He crossed the short distance as quickly as he could. "Colonel, colonel, can you hear me?"
Sheppard was lying beneath an enormous slab of concrete, with more debris heaped on and around him. The flash of red Radek saw in the beam was blood; the colonel had suffered a deep, uneven laceration on the back of his head. The injury was low, near his neck, and was bleeding profusely. Radek plucked a pressure bandage from his TAC vest, placing it over the jagged cut as securely as possible. He felt for Sheppard's pulse, relieved to find a strong heartbeat. Radek sat back on his heels, contemplating his next move. He decided to attempt to extract Sheppard from underneath the rubble.
After a bit of trial and error, he located a chunk of debris that he could utilize to prop up his flashlight. The air remained dense with dust, and visibility was very limited. The light from the small flashlight helped, but the particles suspended in the air behaved like fog, diffusing the light. Staring at the pile of rubble in front of him, he felt overwhelmed. Exhaling a long sigh, he began to tug at the debris; he didn't have a choice; he had to try.
Radek worked diligently, carefully removing bits of debris that surrounded the colonel. The pile was not as unstable as he had feared; however, it wasn't exactly steady either. He was reminded of the game pick-up sticks, he played as a child; a game which he sucked at. He finally managed to clear part of the debris away from the large slab that was pinning Sheppard to the floor. One more block of the ceiling panel to move, then he would have to find something to use as a fulcrum to pry the slab away.
After a bit of a struggle, he manhandled the last large piece of rubble from the slab. Standing up, he took a long swig of water from his canteen, and scanned the debris. The air was still full of dust, but visibility was improving. Spotting a lengthy piece of pipe, Radek thought he might have found his fulcrum. He stretched as far as he could, but barely managed to brush the pipe with his fingertips. Pressing forward to secure a better grip, he lost his balance. Before he could grab onto anything, he pitched face first into the rubble. Radek's forehead struck against a lump of concrete, and he blacked out.
Gradually, Radek drifted back into awareness; for a second, he couldn't remember where he was but then the situation came flooding back into his senses. He sat up; rubbing his forehead, he discovered a large and very tender knot had formed above his right eye. He was relieved to find his glasses still intact. As he looked around, he spotted a pool of light a few feet away, his flashlight. The air was clearer, most of the dust had settled, and visibility had improved.
When he fell, he had landed near Colonel Sheppard. Reaching out, he felt again for a pulse and thankfully, Sheppard's heartbeat was still strong. Before he attempted to free the colonel, he needed to check on McKay's status. He rose gingerly from the floor, and had taken only one step, when he heard a low grinding sound. He froze, "Oh, žádné," the sound was coming from the security weapons. Hearing the sharp whine of the weapon, building energy to fire, he lunged behind the rubble pile that was covering Sheppard. Shards of concrete and ceiling panels exploded from the spot he had been standing.
He sat with his back toward the weapon. He was pinned down with nowhere to go. Thinking that the weapon must work on motion and detection of the gene, the clearing air allowed it to detect him. The fact remained that he was the only person in the room without some form of the ATA gene; he was dead if he moved. "Come on, Radek; think." He had to formulate a plan to get himself and his friends out of danger.
For the first time since he entered the room, Radek took notice of the equipment that Sheppard had mentioned when he first looked into the room. Along the opposite wall, there were three consoles of Ancient design; Rodney was lying in front of one of them. Radek aimed his flashlight toward the area, and could tell they were similar to the consoles scattered about Atlantis. He felt a twitch of excitement when he realized that the consoles were active. Rodney's artificial gene or Colonel Sheppard simply entering the room may have been enough to power the consoles up. It also meant that power was still flowing to that side of the room. If that was so, he might be able to get them out of the situation. But first he had to keep from getting killed.
Radek looked at Sheppard, who was laying on his side, under the slab, a pool of congealing blood beneath his head. The bandage he had applied wasn't soaked with blood, so he was moderately certain Sheppard's head wound was no longer bleeding. Radek leaned against the debris pile, slipped off his glasses, and rubbed his tired, dry eyes. He mumbled, "Stupid ATA gene, if it had taken on me, I wouldn't be dead man walking." He sat up straight, "By mohlo... mohla, práce? Could that work? Could it be that simple?" Radek began crawling toward Colonel Sheppard.
Sliding across the floor, he stopped next to the colonel's head and dipped his fingers in the thickening blood. He grimaced at the tackiness of the blood, then proceeded to spread a thin layer over his hand and wrist. Cautiously, he elevated his hand until it cleared the debris. He heard the weapon pivot on the suspension rod, searching out the movement it sensed. He kept his hand exposed for about two minutes, waving it ever so slightly at first, then very quickly. The security weapon didn't fire. Slowly dropping his hand, Radek stared at the sheer red stain across the back of his hand in disbelief. It worked.
"Colonel, we never want to see you injured; today, however, your injury may help us to get out of here; just don't do it again." Radek smeared Sheppard's blood across his bare hand, face, and neck. Taking a deep breath to steel himself, he slowly stood up. The weapon didn't react.
Careful not to make any sudden movements, Radek treaded through the debris to Rodney. Radek was pleased to find that the scientist's pulse seemed slightly stronger. Once he was satisfied that Rodney was no worse than before, he started toward the consoles. He could not get to the front of the consoles from where Rodney lay; the debris was blocking access. The only way to get to the controls was to make his way to the last console, then around to the working side.
Surveying the symbols on the consoles, Radek reached the conclusion that they must be in the control room of the facility. One of the consoles appeared to be for life support, one for security, and one for operations. He decided to start with the security system, trying to disarm the weapons' system. He worked quickly; luckily, the consoles on Atlantis were nearly identical. He was certain he had found the emergency override code for the security system. Once he was confident it was the correct sequence, he inputted the code and waited. Within seconds, the tiny red light indicating the weapon was powered, faded to black.
Radek lowered his head to the console's front edge, taking a few seconds to relax. He resisted the urge to feel pleased; disarming the weapon was important. However, he had two injured friends who were depending on him. He had to find a way to communicate with Major Lorne.
Moving to the console that he assumed handled operations, he lifted the larger pieces of rubble off, using his hand to brush away the dirt and smaller debris. It was then he noticed a blinking light. Radek racked his brain, trying to remember how the crystals were laid out on Atlantis's consoles. They had interfaced their computers with the Ancient equipment, and rarely accessed the Ancient controls, running everything from their laptops. Which he could possibility do here, if his laptop was working.
Along the wall, behind him, was a series of towers that held the active crystals. He began pulling the drawers open, examining the small symbols engraved on each. Crystal by crystal, he reconstructed the console schematic in his mind. Once he finished, he knew what the blinking light on the console represented. He began to mutter to himself as the realization of what the steady humming sound he had come to investigate actually was. If he was right, they had a big problem. He had to talk to Lorne.
The big problem was that Radek was convinced that the humming sound was from a shield. A shield that was not only designed to protect the breached facility, but also serving as a force field to keep the remainder of the roof from collapsing. If he turned off the force field, eventually the others could reach them. However, they would find them crushed under more debris. He pulled his borrowed tablet from its connection on the security console, and slipped the interface connector into the operations console. After a few erroneous pathways, and a few uttered expletives in Czech and English, he located the shield program. After a few minutes of review, he realized that there were some weak sections in the shield. Perhaps, if he could manipulate the field, he could punch a small hole in it, enough to get communications through without disturbing the entire integrity of the field.
He was about to implement his plan when he heard a soft moan. He immediately thought that Colonel Sheppard was coming to, but a quick flashlight swing showed the colonel to be very still. Radek hurriedly made his way around the consoles, if the moan did not come from the colonel; it had to be from Rodney.
Dropping onto his knees next to McKay, Radek spoke to him, "Rodney, can you hear me? With a rush of relief, Radek watched Rodney's eyelids flutter for a few seconds and then open.
McKay's voice was raspy, weak; Radek had to lean in closely to understand him as he whispered, "Radek?"
"Yes, Rodney, it is me."
Radek grinned, "That is idea, Rodney, but we have run into snag, must get through the force field to get help from Major Lorne."
"Saw weak spots…go…through…them…" Rodney closed his eyes again. Radek realized he was unconscious once more.
As he stood up, he smiled, "That's what I am planning to do, smartest man in two galaxies." He was sort of glad that Rodney was unconscious again. He didn't want Rodney to hear him say that, even if it was the truth.
Returning to the console, Radek began his efforts to punch through the force field. After several near misses, almost collapsing the field completely on one try, Radek keyed his radio and called for Major Lorne.
"This is Lorne. Radek, Radek, is that you? What's your status?"
Radek nearly wept for joy, but composed himself to reply. When he spoke, the words tumbled from him, "Yes, yes…it is me. We found Rodney; he is alive, but injured. Colonel Sheppard and Corporal Rodriguez have been injured, also. Left Dr. J and Brenner in facility…"
Lorne interrupted, his calm voice helping Radek calm a bit, "Doc., slow down. Let's take this slower."
Radek took a deep breath. He then proceeded, slowly, to give Lorne detailed information about their journey through the facility. Once he finished, he succumbed to his weariness and the pain in his head, joining Sheppard and McKay in unconsciousness.
The soft repetitive beeping entered his consciousness; a low, melancholy sound. Although his eyes were closed, he could sense light. There were other strange sounds, smells he didn't recognize. There was, however, a voice he recognized, McKay. He forced his eyes open to discover he was in the infirmary on Atlantis. Raising his head, he saw McKay in a bed on his left, Colonel Sheppard on his right. Teyla was sitting in a chair between his bed and Sheppard's, Ronon on the other side next to Rodney.
"Well, the hero finally awakens," was Rodney's somewhat groggy response.
Sheppard struggled to sit up, "McKay, we could very well be dead if Radek hadn't figured out how to get us out of there. So be nice…" he grimaced. His shoulder was in a sling from being dislocated, he had a cracked rib from his fall, and his right hip severely bruised from the slab of concrete that had fallen on him. "Just…be nice, Rodney."
"I am nice…I'm just…" Rodney faltered, his head was hurting, and he couldn't think what he wanted to say.
Ronon interjected, "Jealous that Radek saved everyone." He flashed a strong grin at McKay.
"No, I…am not." Rodney answered with a glare toward Ronon. "I am thankful Sheppard brought him. Radek rescued us."
Radek, surprised at Rodney's admission, stared at Rodney, who refused to look at him. He uttered a quiet thank you to McKay, and then turned to Sheppard. "Colonel, do you know what happened after I spoke to Major Lorne?"
"Yeah, Lorne immediately sent for Beckett, since Jennifer doesn't have the gene. He then assembled a team of Marines and scientists with the gene, since they were uncertain the security system was completely inactivated. Once Carson arrived, they went to the ring and teleported into the facility. They found Dr. J and the corporals, then proceeded on to the room we were in. At the same time, the CE's were tunneling from above through the gap in the force field." He took a sharp breath, and Teyla spoke up to finish the story.
"Once Dr. Cox and Lt. May had reliable data readings, they stabilized and widen the gap in the force field. The combat engineers were then able to extract sufficient debris to clear a path into the room where you were trapped. Using a basket attached to the underside of a jumper, they hauled you to the surface. It took a few hours to accomplish rescuing you. At least, Dr. Beckett and Dr. J were there to take care of you."
McKay looked at Radek, "That was a good call bringing Cox and May."
Sheppard added, "I think they should both get more mission time. Lorne said they handled themselves very well. By the way, Radek, can you explain why you were covered in blood? Lorne said when they found you, they thought you were the most badly injured."
Radek sank down in the pillows, "The security weapon was still active and tracking me. You were unconscious and couldn't shoot it down. I thought maybe I could fool the weapon to think I had the gene, so I smeared your blood on my skin. I was surprised, but it worked."
"You used my blood…to…fool the security system? Clever; don't you think so Rodney?"
"Yeah, clever, very clever," Rodney groaned as he jostled his broken right leg.
Radek remembered that Corporal Rodriguez had been injured, "Colonel, Rodriguez, is he OK?"
Sheppard pointed to a bed on the other side of the room. "Yeah, he's gonna be fine. Brenner's over there with him. Damn fool won't go get any rest, has to stay there he said. Teammates can be stubborn." He smiled as he watched Teyla frown at him.
Radek smiled, he liked Brenner and Rodriguez as well. He was very happy that the young corporal would be alright. He sighed, thinking how lucky they all were to have such amazing people around that took care of each other.
"Radek," Rodney rolled over to look at him, "your theory about the facility being a library of some kind; I believe you're correct. From what I saw, and from what Sheppard told me, this place may predate Atlantis. Once the CE's get the place stabilized, we've got a tremendous amount of research to do there. I think Cox and May should head the research team; that OK, with you?'
Radek smiled, "OK with me, Rodney; I think..."
"What is going on here?" The lilting Scottish brogue of Carson Beckett interrupted Radek's reply. "You lads should be resting. You're very lucky you were not hurt worse. As it is each of you suffered a mild concussion," pointing to Rodney, then to Sheppard, "you, a broken bone, and you, a dislocated shoulder, and a cracked rib. I want all of you to be quiet, and go to sleep, now." Carson went off muttering to himself that he would probably have to return to quiet them down again.
Radek decided that sleep sounded very appealing; he was drifting off when Sheppard spoke to him.
"Radek, earlier you told me this had been a very bad day, didn't you?"
"Yes, the worst day I have had in a very long time, colonel."
"Well, look at the clock, Radek. It's over."
Radek looked at the clock hanging on the infirmary wall; the hands were at 0000 hours. His worst day was indeed over.
Included in this story are phrases in Czech that I translated using Bing Translator. My apologies for any of the phrases that did not translate correctly.
Comments of any kind are always welcome, please let me know. I love hearing from you!