The Menace.

John S. & Rodney M.. Humor. Bit of Shep whump. Also hints of Sparky.

Timeline: Elizabeth and Carson are here – so obviously before end of season 3.

Previev: Atlantis is infiltrated by enemy most vile.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to MGM/Gecko.

Chapter one.

Typically, it all started with unscheduled off-world activation of the Stargate. While chevrons lit up one by one Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard stood on the balcony overlooking Gate Room and with pride, satisfaction and healthy dose of apprehension watched well organized and many times rehearsed chaos below. Shield flickered to life, teams on security duty took positions with weapons drawn and aimed, random passerbys hurriedly cleared the area. Before Elizabeth Weir managed to leave her office and incoming wormhole splashed against the shield, Gate Room was ready and waited in tense silence for another curveball Pegasus was going to threw at them.

"Anything, Chuck?" He asked blond technician casting a glance at Elizabeth, who just came to his side and gripped the railing. She arched her eyebrow and he shrugged in response. "None of our teams is supposed to return or call anytime soon" Explanation was unnecessary, she knew daily schedule by heart too – but it filled the silence, and quick smile rewarded his effort.

"Not yet, Sir...uh, i got IDC just now. Its Captain Locke, Colonel!" Replied Canadian Sargeant. 'Locke?' That was a surprise. Good Captain's team went to Athalia – one of their minor, but more trustworthy trading allies since Year One. Just a 'blue milk run' for some exotic spices and healing herbs Medical Departament was interested with. And in two years plus, none of their teams had any problems there. Turning back to the Gate Colonel noticed Elizabeth's hand halfway to her headset.

"Captain Locke? This is Weir, please respond" Despite situation he had to smile a little. Cool, calm and collected – her 'radio voice' never failed to give him warm, pleasant fuzzies. Even when he was running for his life...Hell, especially when he was running for his life.

"Ma'am!" Locke's voice burst from speakers. Another surprise – Marine officers never, ever yelled desperately. Even when there was battalion of Wraith drones breathing down their necks. "Drop the shield! We're coming in hot!" Yup, that was his cue.

"Captain, this is Sheppard" He said, trying to project some calm to Marine on the other side of wormhole. "Whats the situation. Are you under attack?"

"Negative Sir!" Answer was immediate, and breathless. "Its a forest fire Colonel. Its all around us. We've barely made it to the Gate." Coughing. Someone was yelling in the background. Crap. He nodded at Chuck. Elizabeth was already calling Beckett and medical team to the Gate Room.

"Shield's down Captain. Come through." He was halfway down the stairs when event horizon rippled and first body came through at full run. Marine in dirty, smoking BDU's tripped, fell and rolled on the floor. Grunt of pain, arm tucked tightly to the chest – most likely first of newest batch of Carson's guests. He barely recognized Corporal Tyrell under grime and soot. Next came Private Nathanson – he managed not to fall, but was barely able to make couple of steps to the side before bending in a coughing fit. 'Thats two'. Doc was already there, crouched over Tyrell, murmuring encouragements, his medical posse milling around with O2 tanks, IVs and gurneys. He caught Elizabeth's worried expression as he turned back to the Stargate. Exactly at this moment rest of the team came through – Locke and Quelvada half supporting, half dragging Dr. Asagumi, Carson's court Pharmacist. 'Three, four, five – all accounted for.' "Medic!" He yelled rushing to their side. Asagumi was already sliding limply to the floor, her thick black hair smoking. Her teammates weren't doing much better – he had to catch Quelvada before tall Sargeant fell on top of petite Japanese woman. Second set of hands helped to keep Marine upright – Ronon of course, grim but steady like a rock. Moments later they were surrounded by medics gently but firmly taking hold of wheezing, coughing patients, administering oxygen, gauze, whisking them on the gurneys. There was nothing more he could do, so with nod to his teammate Colonel went to stand by Elizabeth's side. She was absently wiping hands in handkerchief, anxious eyes following procession of gurneys heading for infirmary.

"You're OK?" He asked quietly. She looked away. "Yes, of course. I was not the one to run through burning forest after all." 'I was just the one to send them there' Supplied her eyes in a way that had nothing to do with telepathy, and everything with trust and deep, intimate connection that grew between them during many similiar moments. "Hey. Stuff happens." He squeezed gently her elbow. 'They are home and safe. Dont beat yourself over this. Please.' Shroud lifted a bit from green eyes, and small but genuine smile appeared like sunrise. He blew quiet, relieved sigh when cold knot in his stomach finally dissolved.

"Private, you really need to lie down. Please, let me take it." Soft but firm voice of one of the nurses brought his attention to the side, where Nathanson still sat on the stairs. Marine clutched tightly something that looked like burlap sack filled with something lumpy, and apparently refused to budge from his spot until rest of his team was cared for. On the other hand nurse Olafsson – strong motherly woman that served her turn in war-torn Kosovo and volunteered for another, was having none of it. Still chatting placatingly she deftly pried curled fingers open and took a hold of the bag...only to drop it with a shriek when something inside jerked sharply. "Help! There is something alive inside!" Years of training and experience instantly kicked in and Sheppard pushed expedition leader behind him, pulling his sidearm in one swift movement. Every gun in the room took aim at shuddering pile of fabric.

"Nathanson! What the hell is this?" Colonel's voice rang loud and angry over shuffle of personnel backing away warily. Marine shrank down a bit and swallowed with difficulty. But before he had a chance to answer his CO, sack unfolded, and creatures hiding inside stumbled out.