Sometime...Somehow... Part VII
"So how do we do this?" Sheppard had spent the afternoon greeting Captain Del-Porter's staff and unofficially inspecting the Terra Cotta II, giving it the green light for efficiency and fitness. His underlying thoughts all the while focused only on what was happening in the science Labs and Zelenka's preparations for stealing Rodney McKay's body and taking it...the somewhere they had not decided on yet.
Now he was sharing a coffee with Zelenka in one corner of the mess hall. "So how do we snatch Rodney's body without anyone knowing about it?"
Zelenka leaned in, keeping his voice low. "Well, all we have to do is decide on a time to transport it from the Terra Cotta II to the Daedulus and then hyper-jump away – without giving them a flight plan of course."
Zelenka nodded. "Yes. Why?"
"I just figured it'd be more complicated than that, so here's a complication - you know I can't just open a hyper space window and leave, right? I can't ignore my orders to protect the Terra Cotta. I can't just abandon them for the next two weeks."
Zelenka nodded. "We can wait until just before our arrival at Earth to do the transport, and then they'll be close enough to Earth's defenses before we jump away."
Sheppard's coffee had gone cold and he pushed it away. "We can't transport anything while in hyperspace, Zelenka. Both ships will have to drop out first."
"Well, we'll just have to invent an excuse to do so."
Sheppard sighed. "If the Daedulus has to drop out of hyperspace, then the Terra Cotta'll be forced to also." Sheppard tried not to think about the Court Marshall that was in store for him. "But it won't be easy, my people are good, they're going expect a valid reason."
Zelenka said. "Leave that to me. I can send a fake message to the Daedulus, maybe a false emergency signal from a nearby ship, something that'll force you to check it out. Both ships will drop out of hyperspace, we transport Rodney and then we get the hell out of there."
Sheppard shook his head. "We're nuts for doing this, you know. It'll be the end of both our careers."
Zelenka nodded. "What happened to Rodney is my fault. I have to at least try and make it up to him."
The problem is he won't even know about it. Sheppard thought. "The problem is, it's not just Rodney we'll be stealing, it's the eggs or whatever they are, too. Your science friends are going to want those back."
"We'll make sure to preserve them. Rodney gets a proper burial. After that, I don't care what happens. What about you, Colonel?"
One side of Sheppard's mouth turned up in an ironic smile. "Oh, I'll be going to jail." His expression sobered. "But...to hell with everything - Rodney's worth it." He only wished he'd had the opportunity to tell him as much.
Zelenka changed tact. "Any luck with Atlantis?"
"Four different teams have beamed down to the areas of the city that aren't flooded. Four different deadly pesticides alongside anti- electronic pulses – hell they've even tried atomized cyanide with re-programmed anti-nanite nanites. Nothing works for long." Sheppard said, "Plus they just can't get the stuff to all areas of the city at the same time. The damn things are eradicated in one tower while they multiply in another."
"The Replicators are counting on us eventually giving up and abandoning the city for good."
"Not while there's even the smallest chance." Sheppard answered "At least not while I'm still in the fight. And if the time comes where we have to give it up, then we'll blow it up; destroy everything before the goddamn Replicators have a chance to set up house."
"When do we reach Earth?"
"Two days." Sheppard said, looking around the Daedulus's mess hall at the half dozen or so crew eating meals or just sharing a coffee and a few minutes of talk. They were good people. He hated deceiving them. "You haven't mentioned what you plan to do once we reach Earth orbit, other than both of us getting arrested."
"There is only one person who'll understand what we're trying to do. Hopefully he'll be willing to help."
Sheppard followed his line of reasoning. "Carson? He's in Munich."
"I know. I just hope he has a private lab or office or somewhere we can take Rodney -"
"- I have a better idea. Carson may be temporarily helping with...whatever it is he's helping, but he's still military personnel. I say we try Teyla and Ronan. There's less at stake for them. Anyway, they both left the service." Sheppard said. "They can charge a civilian with theft but they can't Court Marshall them. Once we get him...once we have Rodney, we retro-fit a Puddle Jumper for cold storage and we jump back to Earth, first to hand Rodney over to his family for burial, and then to greet the end of our shorter-than-expected careers."
"But I thought all the Jumpers were lost?"
"Most of them are at the bottom of Atlantis's ocean but four were salvaged before we sunk the city. And those four were fitted with Hyper-jump capability in line with Rodney's design. And I just happen to know to which colony one of them was donated for indefinite use."
"Bingo. And the best part is even though it's a civilian colony they have government funded state of the art medical and research facilities." Sheppard looked forward to getting off the Daedulus for a while, and then remembered that he probably wouldn't be returning. Seeing he was about to steal a nine thousand year old body that technically belonged to a project funded by Stargate Command and its Science departments, it was doubtful he'd be welcomed back with opened arms. "Best of all, this way we can leave Carson out of it. No point in all of us going to jail."
In answer to his message, Teyla replied with a short one of her own. She was understandably upset but supportive. "Am very sorry to hear about Rodney. Like assist in any way but civilian status only and no direct access to colony medical facilities. However friends willing to help us. Ronan also here. States he will secure Puddle Jumper ready for when needed. Carson contacted from our end. Wishes to assist and will star-gate to Eilden within the day. Elizabeth aware of situation. Will seek what legal counsel possible for you and for Rodney's family Earth-side. God speed to all."
Sheppard met Zelenka in the lab next to the Terra Cotta's Cold Room, and shared the news. "Well, so much for keeping the collateral damage down to a minimum."
"It's just as well. You know how pissed off Carson would be if he hadn't been told?" Zelenka said, and then blew air from between his lips. "And Elizabeth? First she'd kill you, and then go to work on you."
"Yeah." Without a doubt they could use all the help they could get. Sheppard took one final look at the chilled earthen coffin that contained their friend. Screw duty and protocol. For all the times Rodney had complained to him about his penchant for doing things, if at all possible, by the book, this was one time he could oblige his friend by tossing the book out the proverbial window. "Come on Radek; let's get this show on the road."
Zelenka took his pretty assistant by the elbow and steered her away from the laboratory cameras with their tiny built-in mic's. "Are you sure about this? You don't have to help me, you know. Faking a distress message will get you into big trouble."
Rachel put one hand on her employer's shoulder. "I said I want to help. Doctor McKay's your friend."
Zelenka had no choice but to bring his assistant in on the conspiracy to commit theft of the body of one Doctor Rodney McKay. She had to generate the fake distress call and then wait until the Daedulus could make good its hyper-jump. Zelenka looked worried.
Tall Rachel took him by complete surprise by leaning down just enough to hug him tightly, dislodging his glasses askew and nearly squeezing the air from his lungs. She then kissed him hard on the mouth. After letting him go she whispered seductively into his ear. "Radek, if you need my help, for anything at all – call me."
Radek, face flushed, pushed his glasses back up his nose and stammered "Uh, th-thank you, Rachel, I will."
With the help of the pretty Rachel, the theft went off without a hitch.
Carson Beckett stepped out into bright sunshine and took a breath of air. Munich could get along without him for a while. And he wasn't going to miss this event for a world of studies, notoriety or anything else, even though the news was not what any of them had hoped for.
In a sad, sad way, Rodney had come home. Assuring him a decent burial was the least they could do. Besides if they didn't do it, who would? Rodney's parents were dead, and his sister thus far unreachable. It was just as well since they dare not tell her about it yet because then she might tell her husband and before they knew it the whole story would be in the wind. If that happened they as the thieves in the scenario would be tracked down for sure.
Even now, Beckett knew that sooner or later someone was going to figure out where they'd taken Rodney and show up armed to the teeth with Law Officers, forms covered with rules, and legal forensic claims to a nine thousand year old corpse. Their whole purpose: study it, learn as much as possible, and then share it with other labs.
Teyla greeted him at the facility door. "Doctor Beckett, it is very good to see you." She embraced him. This was not the military. There was no standing on appearances here. "I only wish that the circumstances were not so."
"So do I lass."
Beckett admired the white flowing robes Teyla was wearing that accentuated her wide shoulders and strong build. She explained. "Among my people wearing the white robe is a sign of deep respect to a beloved ancestor of wisdom and courage. Rodney may not have been a relative in flesh but he is still my family."
Becket nodded. Ancestor... Of course, Rodney was now over nine thousand years old. She led him down a long hall and introduced him to a large man with a somewhat bovine-ish face standing outside a metal door. "This is my friend Garte'n." Teyla said "Garte'n, please make sure Doctor Beckett has full access to anything he requires, anywhere in this facility."
The large man nodded to each of them and Teyla showed Becket inside the room. It was just an office, but its ceiling was cross-crossed with large thick pipes. A steady drone of forced air was flowing through them and Becket understood that they most likely lead to a nearby cold room where Rodney's body, and the solids that contained it, were being kept.
Teyla said to Beckett. "This facility is government funded but it is run by the colony." She pointed to a coat rack. "They have provided everything we need. If anything has been forgotten, please tell me and I will speak to them."
Beckett asked. "And they have agreed to help us." Beckett removed his suit jacket and donned a lab coat that was hanging on the coat hook.
"What sort of facility is this?"
"It is an animal research centre designed to examine genetically modify animals. Here is where the researchers learn whether or not their flocks are adapting to the environment of this planet."
"Are ya' sayin' this is a slaughter house?"
"In its original design yes. But here we use it for non-lethal research. And as such it seemed the best choice for what Zelenka specified was needed. I understand the block of material containing Rodney's body is rather large. A normal medical facility would not have sufficed. Plus it is less likely that we will be sought for here."
"I see. And your people did this all for nothing just because you asked?" Damn accommodating folks, these friends.
"These are my people and they know I have undergone the ritual to proclaim Rodney as part of my family, and so he belongs to them as well."
"Er, what sort of ritual?"
"Yes. Since we could not reach his sister, I chose to become his surrogate relative. It saddens me greatly that it had to be posthumously, but now in every way but blood Rodney is my brother."
"I've never heard of this."
Teyla's eyes watered. "I have always considered my friends akin to family, Carson, including you. The authorities are searching for Rodney to seize him as scientific research property, and I could not allow that to happen. Now that he is recognised under our Athosian law as my brother, they cannot touch him without my consent. If they try, they will be forced to deal with us under the new Universal laws that they themselves have written governing Earth and her sister planets."
Beckett only nodded at her, stunned by a side of Teyla he had never before met. The woman was a force to be reckoned with, in any galaxy. "I'm glad you were here ta' help." He said.
"As was I." She smiled warmly, but her eyes were still sad. It was a sad time. "They are all waiting for you." Gesturing with a nod in the direction of another door, "It is through there."
"My god..." It took Beckett a few minutes to absorb what he was seeing. "Rodney...is in there?" There was no true question in his words, merely the fact of it. A soft sorrow, however, marked his handsome features.
The block of sand, rocks, eggs and the greyish goo, which Zelenka had coined MV-624 Preservative Organic Medium Number One, in which McKay's body was encased sat on sterilized plastic slats. It took up most of the room. Along one entire wall sat three huge floor freezers, one for the eggs, one for the sand and other rock material, and the third for Rodney.
Zelenka stood beside him, almost shoulder to shoulder. And unconscious offer of comfort. He understood how difficult it was to comprehend. He had examined the DNA results himself a dozen times before he could believe it. "We have to get him out of there, Carson, without destroying the eggs."
Beckett nodded. "I haven't participated in any practical pathology for years, but I brushed up on my way here. As I understand it as long as we carefully regulate the ambient temperature and humidity in the room we should be able to thaw both organisms out without any cellular dehydration." Beckett suddenly felt grieved at his choice of words. Rodney, a good friend, was now an organism.
"It's then just a matter of returning the eggs to their preservative medium and...putting Rodney's body in cold storage." To keep his mind on what they were trying to do Beckett turned to his tray of instruments and the scanning machines set up on the nearby table. "I'd like to examine him, without dam...harming him of course before we...ahem."
Zelenka nodded. "Right." He slipped a paper mask over his nose.
Just then the air-sealed door opened and Sheppard walked in wearing a paper gown and mask. He quickly closed the door and air vacuums automatically switched into overdrive, drawing out whatever heat and moisture he had brought into the room. His boots clumped with a metallic clang as he walked the few feet from the door to the where the other two were standing by the table.
He looked down. Over almost every square meter of floor was a grate. To drain off water and other fluids, he supposed.
Beckett said. "John, I don't think you want to be here for this."
Sheppard crossed his arms and took a few steps back until his backside hit the edge of another un-used table. He got comfortable and said in no uncertain terms or tone "Like hell I don't."
Beckett and Zelenka exchanged looks. "Colonel, this might not be...pleasant."
Behind the mask Sheppard's face turned to stone. "He was my best friend. I was there when this all started and I'm sure as hell going to be here at the end."
"Then here," Beckett tossed him a pair of sterile gloves. "Ye' can help us with tha' work."
Sheppard snapped on the gloves.
Zelenka played with the keyboard. "Here we go."
Sheppard watched his friends who watched the block of material. Neither made a move to touch it. "Now what?" He asked, already growing frustrated that the two weren't doing anything.
"The temperature of the room has been increased by twelve degrees Celsius." Beckett offered "So now we wait for it to thaw."
It took half the day for the thing to become soft enough that grains of sand and some of the fluids surrounding the eggs started to fall away and drip. Then Zelenka showed Beckett and Sheppard how to carefully remove chunks of the sand and goo-ey stuff, and the eggs which they separated, and place each of the separated pieces in large sealable plastic bags. Each bag was then marked and placed into one of the large freezers.
Finally the rough mold of a man appeared beneath all the muck, curled up on its side, limbs tucked in close to its body. Beckett paused for a moment and then said to Zelenka. "We'll need the warm water hose to...wash him off."
With practised hands Zelenka pulled a hose down from its ceiling hook. Already attached was a spray nozzle to control the pressure and flow of the water. They made quick work of washing off most of the guck clinging to his body.
Once they were done, they transferred the body to a second metal examination table, Beckett said "Help me straighten out the limbs and lay him on his back."
Sheppard stepped over to help. "Let me."
Zelenka moved aside, cautioning "Gently."
He nodded curtly, having had no intent of anything other. Gentleness was all he could ever offer this man who once was his best friend, and he was surprised that Zelenka would not know that.
But Sheppard almost gasped at how cold the body still felt beneath his fingers. He realised he had been foolishly expecting soft flesh flush with warm blood. A terrible wave of sadness came over him from his gut-outward, making him stagger a bit, and soundly reminding him that this was not Rodney McKay, this was not his best friend.
It was only a body.
Beckett, all professional now, held back the long, scraggly hair from the body's forehead. The closed eyes looked peaceful. If this were a bedroom he would almost expected Rodney to wake up and demand what the hell they were doing with his hair. Instead he merely commented "He looks very thin."
Up to now Sheppard had avoided looking too closely at the face but now he did. Whatever Rodney had gone through before he died, it had demanded every last morsel of strength. His cheeks were hollow and he appeared frail beneath the raggedy remnants of the uniform that was now much too baggy on his frame. Rodney had never been a big man, but now he seemed infinitely smaller.
But other than the loss of weight he had not seemed to age a day. Sheppard was well aware that he had new wrinkles around his eyes of late, and had spotted a few grey hairs here and there and on Carson's head as well. Almost imperceptibly the years had passed and one day he had woken up older than he was used to. He was closer to forty than thirty and he had slipped into that realm of years where time was thickening around him, showing the heaviness of its hand more than before. It was smiling while it poked a finger here and there, at his mind and body, reminding him with glee that he was not immortal.
But Rodney, even with dishevelled tangles for hair and his skin caked in goo and dirt, still seemed to be on the fresh side of thirty. As though, even with all the deprivation and suffering he had obviously endured, he had remained young. But Rodney did not open his eyes. He was no longer young. Rodney was dead and for the first time that naked and merciless reality was sinking into Sheppard like a stone thrown from a mountain top into the deepest sea.
Beckett stood back as Zelenka began to direct the powerful spray over the body. Black and red rivulets of dirt and left-over goop were sluiced away from his pale skin, running in streams to the grate below. The hose got rid of most of the mess, but not all. Once Zelenka was finished he said to Sheppard. "We're going to remove his clothing now. Are you sure you want to be here for this?"
But Sheppard remained where he was. Being anywhere else at this moment and day would have killed him just as dead as a bullet to the heart would have. Sheppard wanted to look at his friend, and his friend looked peaceful, rested even – young!
Rodney's eyes remained closed against their sad scrutiny. How Sheppard wished he could see those eyes just one more time. Those deep set, animated, flashing, cornflower-blue, marvelous eyes that had demanded everything of their owner in life but almost nothing of life itself. Eyes that could peel your skin back with their patronizing glower, eyes that looked with such trust they spurred you to greater things that even you believed you were capable, eyes that stunned you speechless with their child-like hope, eyes that tore your heart to ribbons when you unintentionally caused their owner hurt, and eyes that staggered your world with their bottomless, soul-swaying vulnerability. Of every part seen or unseen of his friend that he missed, like an aching hollow in his soul, Sheppard missed those perfectly wonderful Rodney McKay eyes the most. "Doc'..?"
"I know." The skin on the face had not escaped the notice of Beckett. "It's like he didn't age a day. I suppose it could have something to do with the preservative fluid the eggs were in."
Zelenka picked up two pairs of sharp surgical scissors, handing one to Beckett. They began cutting away the soaked material, laying each section aside on its own metal-topped table. Part way through, before he reached the sleeves to cut them away as well, Zelenka stopped. "Here's the source of the signal we detected."
He held up a weird combo of items. A Stargate Command issue personal transponder, which Sheppard easily recognised, and what appeared to be an antique Wraith Disruptor, the latter which had been jury rigged to flow power to the former. "Rodney connected them." Zelenka explained, noting his old boss's handiwork with pride. "That's why his transponder didn't run out of power, even after nine thousand years." He set them aside as well and returned to the task of cutting away the remainder of the clothes on the body.
Finally the body was nude and Sheppard, after one glance at his dead friend's shocking thinness, averted his eyes until a clean towel was laid over the groin area. At this late date he did not want to compromise his friend's dignity, even if his friend was no longer aware of the gesture.
Beckett said "Radek, help me roll him over. We'll examine the posterior first."
Beckett sucked in a quick breath that made Sheppard look up again. A long diagonal scar was clearly visible across Rodney's back. It had not yet turned white. "This must have happened not long before he died." Beckett commented. "I wonder what caused it."
Sheppard, too, his throat and breath narrowing to a thin tube of forced air at the sight, wondered at the terrible wound it must have been when fresh and the miracle that Rodney had somehow managed to stave off infection.
Sheppard noted the other most shocking sight. "He was starving when he died." He said softly. Rodney had lost almost all his body fat and a song could have been played on his ribcage.
Sadly, "Aye," Beckett agreed.
Of all the agonies his friend must have gone through, that one bothered Sheppard the most and his throat ached to cry out for him because his friend no longer could. A host of memories appeared before him where a very much alive Rodney strolled through the city through-out the day, happily snacking on this or that in order to, as he had often claimed, stave off his hypoglycemic reactions.
But this wasted being was a testament to the deprivation Rodney must have gone through, and an abomination to his life-loving ways.
Sheppard was kicked from his memories by a buzzing sound. He looked up to see Radek using a hair shaver on Rodney's head, buzzing the long, dirt-clogged hair down to a respectable length of about an inch. A tad shorter than Sheppard recalled Rodney cutting his hair. It was neat again but it didn't look right.
Beckett retrieved another electronic looking device and laid it beside Rodney's head, attaching tiny electrodes to his skull where the hair was shortest or missing altogether. "I'm going to scan for residual radioactive contamination."
"You mean he's radioactive?" Sheppard asked.
Zelenka shook his head. "If he was, at least to a dangerous level, our regular Geiger counter would have already nailed it. We're just gathering as much information as possible for the researchers." Zelenka was quick to clarify "I know it seems a little sterile and unfeeling, but we already stole his body, it seems the least I can do is provide them with a data base of information on the results of the dig they funded."
Sheppard nodded once. He was not offended. Rodney would be involved with one last big research project. Hell, he would be the central and sought after relic, maybe even the Eureka! Rodney himself would have loved the idea, if he were actually there.
Beckett was frowning at his screen. "Hm, I'm getting a reading of some kind, but it's erratic. I can't shake it down to a recognizable pattern."
Zelenka said "Try increasing the output."
Beckett was fiddling with the dials. "Already did." He said. "It's stronger now." Shaking his head "It's not radiation, I'm not sure wha...what the hell I am seeing...but this, I mean it can't be – I-I don't see...how –oh my god."
Sheppard asked. "What's up doc'?" Beckett's normally soft taupe skin had turned white!
Beckett stammered "I-I think I'm getting - I think its brain-waves."
Zelenka and Sheppard looked at each other. It is a cautionary tale their eyes seem to say to one another. Perhaps Beckett had been working too hard lately?
Not for a remote second believing that it meant anything other than a malfunction, Sheppard cleared his throat and asked "And what does that mean?"
Looking at his read-outs once more just to be sure he wasn't seeing things or maybe still curled up dreaming in his bed-y-by. "Merciful Mother," Beckett said, spinning one-eighty degrees to stare at them both with a face as white a limestone. "What d'ya' think it means? It means he's bloody alive!"
"Radek, get some thermal blankets." Beckett stared at John who was not moving but was instead staring down at the body of McKay that to him still, for all intents and purposes, appeared as dead as a proverbial doorknob. "Colonel, help him and be quick about it."
Sheppard sprung to action but it was on uncertain legs with uncertain steps he did so. Because it was crazy, what they were doing. It was nuts, ridiculous and completely out to lunch. Rodney was dead. But his feet somehow made it to the cupboards to help Radek with the blankets, and his hands did what they were asked to do by switching each blanket control to its highest setting. They started spreading them over the body.
With one eye Sheppard kept a watch on Beckett. Their own task was almost complete, but nothing had changed and, even worse, the doctor was no less nuts than a moment before.
Beckett clearly didn't think he was nuts and had spent that same time throwing open other cupboards and drawers, looking for something. Finally he said "Oh thank god."
Sheppard recognised the defibrillator that the doctor brought to the table and plugged in to the socket somewhere down below. As Sheppard and Zelenka finished arranging the warming blankets on the ice-cold body, Beckett barked. "Radek, do you know how to start an IV?"
Radek jumped like he'd been bitten. "Uh, well, no."
Becket shoved him aside unceremoniously and dug around in more drawers. Finding what he was looking for, an IV line, a new hypodermic and a bag of simple saline solution, he swiftly arranged them all beside Rodney's left arm. Not bothering with a sterile wipe, with some effort he tried twice and on the third try managed to get the needle into the largest visible vein he could find. He attached the IV bag, opened the port wide and said to Radek. "Get a pan of hot water so we can warm the stuff before it goes into his body. It'll help heat up his core more rapidly."
Like a prairie rabbit on caffeine Radek jumped to the task.
Sheppard just staggered back a bit on his heels and watched the insane circus playing out in the death room. He could feel the air trickling into his lungs despite his whole-body shock, and hear his own heart pounding in his ears louder and louder and louder... Beckett looked like he knew what he was doing and yet the nuts factor hadn't budged at all.
Beckett squeezed a small portion of the current binding medium onto one side of the defibrillator paddles and placed them in position on Rodney's raw-boned chest. Beckett suddenly yelled "Clear", causing Sheppard to nearly jump out of his boots.
Beckett zapped Rodney and his body twitched - only twitched - just once.
But nothing else happened. Still nuts. Sheppard decided but watched in fascination as Beckett never-the-less tried zapping life back into a nine thousand year old corpse, life that had been drained from it centuries ago. Nuts, crazy, cracked...
"Charging to two-fifty." Beckett announced and sent the current through the rib cage for a second time. This time the body's torso jumped a centimeter off the table. "It's having an effect." Beckett said.
Sheppard could see no after-difference though. Shouldn't Rodney be scolding them by now? After all this was pretty fly-by-night doctoring. Beckett wasn't even wearing his stethoscope.
"Three hundred!" Beckett shouted and sent the charge through a third time.
Sheppard watched, almost as though the insanity was happening in slow motion. Rodney's body lurched off the table as though stung by a bullet. Then his chest rose and fell once.
Then it settled into a steady, though shallow, rhythm. With two thick fingers Beckett felt at Rodney's throat. "I've got a pulse."
It was Beckett's turn to stand back and look as his corpse came to life before all of their bulging eyes. Sheppard almost expected that if he looked up he would see the steeple of an abandoned watchtower above him through which he could see the night sky and the lightning flashing with maniacal glee followed by thunder clashing its inhuman laughter to announce that what could not happen had just happened.
In a spectacle, through a current of electric life, the once dead had been brought back to life.
It's alive... Sheppard thought. Jesus-H-Christ!
But "it" was not just a body any longer. It was Rodney, a friend. Sheppard turned his head to speak though never letting his eyes leave alone the suddenly breathing dead man. "What the hell did you just do, Carson?" Doctor Frankenstein I presume?
Beckett just shook his head over and over in disbelief. "I didn't do a damn thing, Colonel. Not really. But he's...but Rodney's alive just the same." As were they all, Beckett was yet in doubt of his own eyes. He whispered "Sweet Jesus in Heaven. He's alive."
Part VIII soon.