So Rodney now has a naqahdah-powered, unstable remote controlled-car. What could possibly go wrong?
Ronon was the only one waiting the corridor where Sheppard and McKay usually raced.
"Hey, where's Sheppard?" Rodney demanded, trailed by Zelenka.
"Change of plans," Ronon said briefly. "Come on."
"Well, where are we going? Ronon? Ronon, where are we going?" Rodney was jogging to keep up with the Satedan. Zelenka leaned in and said softly,
"Rodney, he isn't going to tell you."
"If he doesn't tell me, I'm not coming." Rodney stopped abruptly and crossed his arms stubbornly.
When he looked up, Ronon was looming over him. "You really think I can't make you come with me?"
"Ronon," Zelenka said politely. "Where are we going?"
Ronon sighed. "There were too many people to fit in the usual corridor. Sheppard found a new one that can hold everybody."
"Too many people?" Rodney squawked, following him again. He had realised the pot had grown, but he hadn't realised people would actually show up to see the race itself. "How many people are there?"
"Everyone on base is here," Rodney said to Sheppard, shocked.
Sheppard shrugged. "Not everyone."
"Well, most of the people on base are here!"
"But not everyone. Look at it this way, if you win you can finish paying off your sister's car payments. When I win, I'm going to buy a Mustang."
"Oh, dream on!" Rodney scoffed. "You can think about that Mustang when you're watching my car leave yours in the dust."
"Big words, little man. Put your motor where your mouth is."
Lorne had volunteered to umpire the race. He watched carefully as Sheppard and McKay placed their cars on the ground, making sure that they were both exactly perpendicular to a line he had chalked in. The course was simple: down the hall, around a soup can serving as a marker and back to the line. The first one over it won.
"Alright," Lorne announced. "I want a nice clean race. No pushing, shoving, biting,tickling, hair-pulling or interference of any kind with either driver. This is purely about whose car is best."
"You wanted to be in sports growing up, didn't you?" Sheppard asked drily.
"On your marks…" Sheppard and McKay's fingers tensed on their remotes. "Get set…" The onlookers leaned forwards, holding their breath… "GO!"
Sheppard had better reflexes: his car took off a second before Rodney's did. McKay desperately pushed forwards on the joystick, and with a scream of rubber, his car sped up, leaving little black-tyre tracks behind it.
Sheppard had gotten the engineers to rig up some little miniature jet engine, Rodney knew, but Zelenka's naquahdah battery put it to shame. Barely halfway down the corridor, Rodney was pulling ahead sharply. Sheppard growled and leaned forwards, as if that would make his car go faster.
Rodney's car tilted slightly, taking the turn around the can. Sheppard pressed a button Rodney hadn't seen before on his remote, and two tiny little flames shot from the back of his car, lending it a burst of speed.
"Is that an afterburner?" Rodney gasped.
"Oh yeah," Sheppard grinned smugly. He had reason to smile: his car caught up with Rodney's right as it made the turn, took the inside track and bumped McKay's car aside, sending it swerving out of control.
"Hey! Lorne, that was interference!" McKay squawked.
"Sorry, Doc. It wasn't interference with the driver." Lorne shrugged. "Not against the rules."
McKay groaned to himself as he twisted the joystick, trying to get his car back on track. It had been going so fast that when he tried to turn it, it tilted, rolled and… burst into flames.
"Rodney, your car's on fire!" Sheppard yelled.
"I noticed, thanks." Rodney hit the brakes on his control, intending to stop the car so that someone could douse it with a fire extinguisher.
It didn't stop.
"The battery is still running," he moaned, watching his out-of-control, flaming car zig-zag back down the corridor towards Sheppard, Lorne, Ronon and himself. The onlookers were scattering, cramming themselves into rooms and corridors to avoid it. "It isn't going to stop!"
"Oh shit." Sheppard's face was pale. "It's catching me up…"
"You're worried about that stupid race still?" Rodney demanded, backing up slowly.
"I'm worried because my engine is loaded with jet fuel!"
Sheppard and McKay traded looks with one another, then broke and ran. Lorne and Ronon were already ahead of them, arms swinging and legs pumping as the cars chased them down the corridor. "Dump the remotes!" Lorne yelled over his shoulder.
Sheppard felt the heat against his back, and risked a quick glance, in time to see his car catch fire too. "IT'S GONNA BLOW!"
Ronon and Lorne swung around a corner and took cover. Sheppard tackled McKay, knocking him behind the wall just as Sheppard's car exploded. McKay's car drove through the fiery cloud like a little Transformer Angel of Death. Ronon pulled his gun, took aim, and began pumping rounds into the wall. Quick as he was, he only had time to squeeze the trigger twice before the car hit the wall at full speed.
Or rather, flew through the hole where the wall had been at full speed. Rodney, kneeling on the ground, watched his car hurtle towards the water below and sighed in relief. If that thing had hit the wall, all four men would be dead.
With his heartbeat no longer pounding in his ears, he could hear Atlantis' sirens wailing. Glancing out at the corridor, he took note of the tyre-marks, scorch marks and the large smoking hole in the wall. Right on cue, the smoke-detector system installed in the ceiling went off, covering them all in pink foam that muffled the last of the flames shooting from Sheppard's car and clung to Ronon's dreadlocks.
"We're in trouble," Rodney said glumly.
"You know, technically," Sheppard announced, sitting up, "My car crossed the line first."
"So how much did you win?" Ronon asked, straightening from his slouched position against the wall as Sheppard and McKay left Woolsey's office. He had come out of the entire affair pretty well, being praised for his 'quick thinking'.
"None. Woolsey is confiscating the winnings to pay for the damage," Sheppard said glumly.
"I heard it was quite a race," Teyla said, hoisting Torren onto one hip so that she could walk with them.
"It'll go down in history," Sheppard agreed. "And you know the most important thing?"
"What is that?" Teyla asked obligingly, sure that it would be something ridiculous.
"I got to see Ronon with pink hair. Ow!"
And that, my children, is the legendary Car on Fire incident.