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Part Seven

Oh crap.

Rodney's words sounded amid the eerie glow of the battery operated lap tops. For one heart-stopping moment, his mind froze as he contemplated the idea that he might have broken Atlantis.

Just moments before, the plan had been working perfectly. He'd completed his calculations and the mother of all lightning strikes had hit the city, jumping from one place to the other and sparking other smaller bolts. The energy had kept building until it topped out the scale. The lights had started to get bright right after that and then nothing.

A breath passed in the darkness before he heard the shuffling feet of the nearby soldiers. Their nervousness was making him nervous.

Nothing to worry about, he said in direct contradiction to his previous comment. Hopefully 'Oh crap' didn't translate well. Last thing he needed was for over anxious soldiers to start shooting up things in the dark.

Then suddenly, there was a spike on the lap top and with a sound like a generator winding up the lights came back on. He watched the screen as many other systems began to cycle back in as well.

What happened? the nearest guard asked, looking uncertain as to how to respond to the situation. McKay was sure that black outs in ancient cities wasn't covered in Genii Generic Bad Guy Training 101.

Despite all of his scientific knowledge and the many things he'd experienced in his career, he was still a little confused, too. Then suddenly, things began to click in his mind. An uncontainable grin spread its way over his features. It was simplicity itself.

Circuit breakers. It's circuit breakers! He began to pace as worked his way through the idea. The Ancients must have installed a fail safe to protect the city from a power overload, he said, completely excited by how flawlessly the system had worked even with the presence of the power generators that had been brought from Earth. It obviously kicked in when the lightning strikes became overwhelming and just shut everything down. No doubt, when the levels decreased they reset everything. Although, considering the incredible amount of power the system was able to handle prior to the fail safe . . . .

He paused at the blank look that came over the guard's face. Ugh, never mind. Part of the plan. He waved the man away and returned to his computer screen. That had been a pointless conversation. He had much more important things to do, like making sure that they'd be able to hold on to any power they may have been able to harness, and after that, masterminding a way to get away from these three goons stationed in the command area so that he could check on his friends.

--

John barely had time to react when what felt like Kolya's shoulder collided with his midsection. Instinctively, he drove his arms downward, slamming the butt of the Genii weapon against flesh and bone. Despite the grunt that Kolya emitted, his momentum sent them both hurtling toward the unyielding material that made up Atlantis' walls. John's back took the brunt of the impact.

Pain receptors gone into overload took John's legs out from under him and he dropped like a stone taking Kolya with him to the floor. He heard the gun clatter away somewhere beyond his head. Having landed more or less on top, John tried to press his slight advantage by working to pin the broader man. But his reflexes were slow and being concussed, stabbed, stabbed again, shot, and then slammed into a really hard wall had a way of taking the strength out of a guy.

Still, he wasn't doing too awfully bad and was managing to keep Kolya relatively under control until the man's fist made contact with the side of his face. He tumbled to the side off of the Genii, landing on the wounded arm.

Instead of going for the gun as John had expected him to, Kolya followed him over and continued the punch fest. That was when it occurred to John that this was so much more than war; it was personal, between himself and Kolya. Atlantis barely fit into the picture. Kolya would not accept being bested by another man and wanted to prove with his bare hands that he was warrior chief. John had no problem with that; he had more than a little aggression to work off against the other man.

Suddenly the lights came back up, and Elizabeth was there, still holding the .9 mm. She directed it toward their new position and ordered Kolya to freeze. The Genii was leaning over him, had one hand clutched in the material of John's vest, while one arm was drawn back, preparing to throw yet another punch.

John stared up at him, having a nearly irresistible urge to get in one more blow, to put the other man's lights out. But that'd only mean that they'd have to carry him, which wasn't a good bet at the moment. So, he satisfied himself with taking in the beginnings of the ugly bruises the Genii would soon be sporting.

Lets try this again, shall we? he gasped, after extricating himself from their position on the floor. He willed himself to make it back to his feet without stumbling. He then retrieved both Genii weapons, and after tucking one into the back of his pants, he pointed the other at Kolya.

The Genii's cold eyes held the promise that there would be another time, but he didn't speak, and John didn't have to ask him to get up and start walking.

--

By the time Ford realized that the light from the life signs reader was shining like a beacon in the night, he caught the muted sound of a footstep. The noise was almost right on top of him. Before he could react, the lights came on, bringing him face to face with the blonde woman from the Genii home world and three other soldiers. The three men all had weapons trained on him.

He brought his hands slowly upward in surrender, locking gazes with Sora. Her expression was brutal.

Where is Teyla Emmagan?

Here I am. Teyla announced, gathering the attention of the Genii. They turned as a unit to see Dr Beckett and Teyla with P90s leveled on them. Ford brought his weapon to bear, covering them from the other side, effectively trapping the Genii between the three of them.

Drop your weapons, Ford ordered, clearly the one in charge.

The three guards looked to Sora for direction. After throwing hateful looks all around, she nodded and the men slowly lowered their weapons to the floor.

Radios, too, Aiden added, pointing toward the devices. That drew another furious glare from Sora, but they complied and the electronics were dropped to the floor alongside the guns.

Dr. Beckett, Ford called. If you would retrieve their weapons?

Happy to lad. The doctor replied, stepping somewhat nervously away from Teyla toward the pile of weapons.

One of the soldiers shifted as Beckett drew closer and Ford got the point across with a gesture of his P90 that there was a bullet with the soldier's name on it if he tried anything. The soldier settled down with a glance toward Sora.

He caught Beckett's nod of appreciation as he moved out into the cross corridor. It only took several moments for him to gather all of them up into his arms. Peripherally, Ford noted that as the doctor started to straighten back up, his body jerked in shock as he stared beyond the Genii. The weapons began to spill from Beckett's arms just as a shot rang out. And then all hell broke loose.

Part Eight

Carson had long heard the saying that one's life flashed before one's eyes just before they died. Though he'd always discounted it as a medical improbability, he was ready to revise that opinion when he saw the Genii soldier appear at the end of the long corridor wielding a big triple barreled gun.

All of the events that led to his arrival at Atlantis rushed to mind, making him wonder that such a fantastic journey would end there and then at the apex of a dimly lit corridor.

He didn't remember dropping the arm load of weapons, or even ducking for cover. But the flashes of light burned their way onto his corneas, and the sound rang through his ears.

He thought he heard Ford yell something and then it seemed that bodies were moving everywhere. Four of those bodies wore Genii uniforms and they were moving toward the weapons. It was reflex that caused him to kick the guns, scattering them before Sora or either of the men could reach them.

Another shot sounded and one of the Genii jerked before crashing to the floor. The other three, it seemed, froze in place. Carson's gaze darted between the downed man and the corridor ahead. He blinked. It was completely empty.

Get up! Ford's orders toward the remaining Genii penetrated, jumpstarting him to action. Moving on automatic, he went to the downed man's side and quickly began to check him over. Even before he tried for vitals, he knew it was too late. A life lost.

What the hell happened? Aiden demanded as he and Teyla secured Sora and the other two guards with restraints.

Carson rubbed a hand over the man's eyes, closing them. There was another one down there, he said, still feeling breathless from his own near death experience. He shot at me. But he's gone now.

Ford looked along the abandoned corridor. Are you sure?

I wasn't hallucinating.

It's just that he didn't show up on the life signs indicator before, Aiden replied, his eyes remaining suspicious. Carson wasn't ignorant of how the Lieutenant felt about him as a fighter.

Well maybe he was out of range, Carson shot back. I didn't imagine seeing him and I certainly didn't imagine being shot at!

I-

Lieutenant. Teyla's voice interrupted whatever Ford might have said. She gestured toward the wall at Carson's back.

Carson followed the Athosian's gaze. An arc of impact marks shown along the surface mere inches from where his head had been. He gulped.


--


Kolya's radio beeped and the trio stuttered to a halt. Elizabeth glanced over at the Major. She suspected that his exhaustion wasn't feigned this time. His skin was pale, lines of strain were etched around his mouth and his eyes had taken on a glassy look.

As a voice sounded across the radio link awaiting acknowledgement, they got moving again.

Sir, respond. The voice came again, this time with a heightened edge of alertness to it.

You're running out of time. A malevolent grin spread across Kolya's face.

You're just a regular one-track record, aren't you? John managed in a weak voice. In opposition to the way he sounded and looked, his feet began to move a bit faster, pushing them on toward the brig.

John . . . , she started, wanting to tell him to take it more slowly, conserve his strength. But the look he shot her direction stopped the comment.

We're almost to your new home, he said, more for her benefit, she suspected, than Kolya's.

The radio went quiet and stayed quiet.


--


Rodney was so enthralled with Atlantis' fledging new shield, temporary though it might be that he missed whatever had been said across the Genii radio link. By the time the increased tension in the room registered in his mind, the soldiers had already gone into action. All of them were fiddling with the controls on their radios - changing the frequency, he suspected.

What's going on? he demanded, focusing on the nearest guard.

The guard barely spared him a look as he moved into a huddle with the four other soldiers in the control area. They spoke so softly that he was only able to catch a portion of what was being said - something about reinforcements.

I want to know what's happening, he repeated, more loudly as he closed in on the group. Clearly something was up. Whatever was bad for the Genii had to be good for Atlantis.

A weapon raised in his direction halted his steps. Something has gone wrong, hasn't it? You might as well tell me what it is. What am I going to do about it anyway? It's pointless to . . . .

Rodney's words trailed away as the soldier with the raised gun began to move toward him. His expression didn't spawn any thought that he might be rationalized with. He moved into Rodney's personal space and he took a step backward, bumping against the console.

Or . . . I could stay right here . . . . Rodney conceded and inched back toward his lap top. More city saving, stuff. He took the fact that the soldier didn't pulled the trigger as a sign that he could go back to work and set into a furious typing pace on the small keyboard.

The soldier held his position like a hovering shadow half between Rodney and the group of arguing Genii men. It didn't take a scientific genius to figure out that they were arguing about the gate. That one of them pointed emphatically toward the DHD clinched it. But it did take a scientific genius to do what Rodney did next.


--


John? Are you all right?

They'd walked out of the brig in silence, leaving the Genii military leader behind bars. John had moved with single minded determination into the outer corridor and surveyed the surrounding area before half-slumping against the wall and closing his eyes.

I'm fine. I just need a minute.

Elizabeth nodded, though she was sure he didn't see the action. I'd imagine something a little longer than a minute is in order.

A week feels about right. John's eyes creaked open and he shot her a smile. Though tinged with exhaustion, it was good to see.

So what's next? she asked. She was over her head in what amounted to a military situation. The next step would be his call.

Next we see where our back up is. He sorted through the items that he'd stashed in the corridor and pulled out his communicator device and routed it over his ear. Sheppard to Jumper Two. What's your 20?

Surprise rolled over his features almost immediately, followed quickly by pride. They're here on Atlantis, he said between listening to the voice speaking in his ear. The smile faded away from his face as he continued to listen.

Okay, we'll we're at the brig now. Get here as fast as you can. We'll meet you half way. They had taken no more than a few steps when suddenly, without warning, Atlantis was plunged into darkness once again.


-- --


Forty-five, forty-four, forty-three. . . . . The panicked count down played through Rodney's brain as he half-crawled across the darkened control room, a lap top clutched under one arm. The pounding of his heart all but drowned out the sounds of the confused Genii soldiers, and though he knew intellectually that they shouldn't be able to see him, he expected to feel a bullet slamming into him at any moment.

He crawled past the base of the last console at what his brain identified as second number thirty-one. He was several yards away from the nearest transporter alcove. He had less than thirty seconds to navigate the space, avoiding a couple of support beams, on memory alone. Having programmed Atlantis to shut down for forty-five seconds before opening the transporter door and locking out all gate functions.

A bright beam cut through the darkness, making an arc somewhere above his head. He froze, nearly losing the lap top in the process. Several tense panicky moments passed before he realized that he'd forgotten to count.

He's gone! A voice yelled. Probably the guard who'd had the gun on him, Rodney decided. Torn between keeping absolutely still and making a run for it, his mind latched onto a compromise. The quick flashing of light had revealed his proximity to one of the support beams.

Not cut out for this, not cut out for this, not cut out for this played through his mind as he struggled not to breathe so loud and made for the column. Where were the military types when you needed them? Ducking downward as low as he could, he concentrated on sounds the men were making. Other lights began to flash around the room behind him.

Cursing himself for losing track of time, he began to crawl straight out toward what he hoped was the transporter alcove. The lights could come back up at any moment, and he wanted to be close enough to dive into the parting doors. He kept crawling until his head bumped against something sending off sparks behind his eyes. The lap top clattered to the floor echoing in the room like a shot.

The lights came back up.

There he is!

Rodney reacted. Shots rang out behind him as he ran the few steps into the open transporter alcove. He thought he felt a bullet fly past before he crashed against the inner wall and down onto his backside. The doors began to slide shut just as one of the running soldiers stopped and took aim.

Part Nine

You've got to be kidding me! John declared to the darkness. Enough already! Trying to remain positive was becoming a challenge in the current situation.

Perhaps it's an effect of the storm, Elizabeth's voice reached him in the darkness, offering a possible explanation.

Yeah. Maybe, he agreed, fingering the switch on his P90 that turned on the built in light. All a part of McKay's plan?

An expressively raised brow revealed that she wasn't discounting the idea.

Realizing she was right, he stifled a chuckle and keyed on his radio.

Ford?

Here, Sir, came the reply. When the lights went down the prisoners attempted to escape, but we took care of the situation. Sheppard couldn't resist the half grin at the tone in Ford's voice as he made his report. He couldn't imagine that Sora wouldn't appreciate her present predicament.

We're still moving in your direction, Ford continued with his report. It would be a lot easier though if the lights stayed on.

Can't argue with that, John agreed. How far out are you?

Ten minutes. Maybe less. Kinda hard to tell in the dark. Ford had barely completed the statement when Atlantis re-illuminated.

The power of positive thinking . . . . John said, looking about, half anticipating that the lights would go down again.

I think we're picking you up on the life signs detector, Ford's said. Wait. . . Sir! His voice was suddenly filled with alarm. I'm registering a third life sign!

John cursed and spun, leveling his P90 on the corridor behind them. Every nerve ending seemed to protest the movement. Thankfully the area was clear.

Where, Ford? He demanded into the radio. How close? One handedly he reached into his flak jacket and removed his own detector and handed it to Elizabeth. His attention remained on scanning the area, alert for any hint of movement.

They've moved out of range, Sir, Aiden said. I can't see them anymore.

We're going to have to work on figuring out how to get that range extended, he muttered, then shot a glance toward Elizabeth to see what their device told them. The frown on her face brought an even deeper frown to his.

What's wrong? he asked, moving in closer. Even from a distance the screen seemed dimmer than usual.

Is this the way it should work? Elizabeth asked, handing the item to him.

Shooting a glance outward, still alert, though he knew Ford would cue him if he saw anything close, he took the detector. The blips that shown - far too many to represent reality - were fading in and out. Never a good sign with technology.

He sighed. It must have gotten damaged when Kolya and I were fighting. Something else for McKay to fix when they got out of this.


--


The doors closed just as the sounds of the bullets impacted against the outer surface. Too frightened to even more or breathe, Rodney remained frozen in his position on the floor as he dematerialized and was transported elsewhere on Atlantis.

When the transport was complete, he still remained seated on the floor for several long moments waiting for his heart to start beating again. Then, slowly, he opened the lap top, hoping that the industrial level UL certification meant that the device would survive being drop tested at least once more.

The screen came to life like a loyal pet. He half smiled at that positive bit of news. He immediately linked into the now pass worded system and deactivated the transporter alcoves. Next, he went in search of the frequency of the radios that the team used.


--


This is McKay, calling anyone on the mainland or nearby. Please respond.

The voice boomed across the radio link reverberating through Sheppard's head. Happy to hear the voice, aggravated at the volume and bemused that the voice had sounded just as he'd thought of his repairing the broken life signs scanner. McKay? That you?

He met Elizabeth's equally surprised gaze as he awaited the response.

Of course, it's me. Didn't I identify myself? came the returned response. That was his McKay all right. A grin spread across his face as Ford, Teyla and Beckett all announced their presences over the radio link.

What happened? Where are you? John cut across the chatter. Last time I saw you, you were stuck in command with the bad guys.

I managed a little plan to get away. Which I see you've done as well. Rodney replied smugly. Shall I assume since the gang's all here that we have a plan?

Uh. . . we're working on that, John told him. But first, where are you? And please tell me that you didn't leave the Genii all alone in the gate room.

Well first of all, I'm in a transporter alcove, Rodney replied, his back clearly up. And second of all, yes I did.

You what?! John demanded. What's stopping them from bringing more through the gate? It's bad enough that we still have to get rid of the ones that are already here. What were you thinking?

Are you done? Rodney asked.

Not hardly. But I'll feel better if you tell me there was a good reason for what you did.

Of course there was. They don't just hand out degrees in physics to complete morons. In fact, considering the things I've accomplished today alone . . . .

McKay. . . . John started warningly.

Right. I, in spite of your obviously low opinion of my reasoning ability, locked out the control room and routed it through my lap top. We'd already begun the process when we set up the capturing protocol. It was just a simple matter of a small pass coded routine to take over from there. No one's coming or going through the gate or doing anything else in the control room unless they have either my pass code or the ATA gene.

Ah, Sheppard nodded, impressed. So that last power outage . . . that was you?

It was. The smug smile was evident in his voice.

What else can you do?

I can locate all of the life signs in the city.

John felt a plan forming. Do it. "
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writerjc

September 2010

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