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Part Ten

"Dr. Weir! Major Sheppard!" Carson couldn't hold back the exclamation at seeing his city-mates. Acting as guard and escort to prisoners wasn't really his strong suit. And holding the gun on them, with the intention of possibly pulling the trigger, just felt wrong.

Elizabeth greeted them all with a bit of a smile and a nod of her head.

John's greeting was much more hurried as he took command of the situation. "Let's get our guests to detention," he ordered, then turned to lead the way.

Carson frowned as the major moved. In the dim corridor lighting, he caught what he suspected was the remnants of blood on the major's temple. The pale complexion and the exhausted demeanor were a little harder to miss. Then there was the stiff way he moved, and even, he realized, a slight limp!

"Hold on, Major! Not so fast!" He moved around the rest of the group to catch up to the lead man. Sheppard's back stiffened slightly, but he did stop.

Carson moved around to face him, and took in his expression. "Hoping I wasn't going to notice, were you?"

"Maybe," John admitted, "But either way it doesn't matter. We don't have time for this. We've got . . . ."

Carson tuned out the words as he caught sight of the cloth darkened with blood which was tied around one of the major's thighs. And then there was the dry blood on one raggedly torn sleeve. Truly, the things humans did to one another were truly appalling.

With a sigh and a shake of his head, he reached into his pocket and withdrew a small flash light. "Just one little examination," he said in his best conciliatory tone. He shone it into the major's eyes.

"Didn't you hear me?" John winced at the light and swatted at his hand. "We don't have time for this!"

"Yeah, I did hear you," Carson lied. "But this should only take a moment more." He hadn't exactly needed to listen to the words to know what he'd said. This was Major Sheppard, after all. And there were bad guys out on the lam. Even injured, the man would only stay down if he was unconscious.

"Your pupils look okay." He dropped the flash light into his pocket and tried for a careful look at the arm wound. "You've lost a bit of blood and are suffering from exhaustion. I've a suspicion that there's further damage that you're not letting on about. It's my educated opinion that you need to be in the infirmary having those wounds looked after."

"As long as there are invaders in the city, we don't have an infirmary, doc. No place is safe and we're just wasting time here. As soon as the city is clear, I'll surrender myself to you."

Carson knew that was the best offer he was likely to get, but still he felt inclined to argue. A touch on his arm drew his attention to Elizabeth.

"I don't like it any more than you do, but he's right, Carson."

"Aye." He acquiesced then fell in line as they led the rest of the prisoners to the brig.


--


Accessing all of the systems wasn't as easy on the lap top as it was in the control room. It took longer to work his way through all of the screens and sub-menus. Finally he found the city's life signs detecting function.

Lifting the lap top a little he spoke into the small microphone. "McKay here. I'm in the system now."

"Good." Sheppard's voice came back through the computer's speakers. "Where are they?"

Rodney tapped a few keys to get the view he needed. "First I need a baseline. How many are in your area?"

"Eight, plus one in the brig."

"Right." McKay went to work. The blips displayed beautifully on the screen. "I've got your eight, but . . . . nothing in the brig, and . . . ." he hit a control key and switched to another view. "Everyone else is either in the control room or seems to be moving toward it."

"Did you say nothing in the brig?" Sheppard demanded.

Rodney rolled his eyes. Why was he having to repeat himself? He double checked the monitor anyway, though. "Like I said, nothing in the brig."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course, I'm sure," Rodney snapped. "Who is supposed to be there, anyway? Perhaps they've committed . . . ." His voice trailed away as he realized who was most likely locked away and what had no doubt happened. "Oh no. . . ."

"Oh no? What oh no? There's no oh no! What did you do McKay?" The major's voice came across labored as if they were moving more quickly. The blips showing on the screen revealed that to be the case. And they were closing in fast on the now empty brig.

Rodney gulped then began to explain. "The command I used after the shut down was an open doors command. It may have caused the brig doors to release."

"What?!" Sheppard had worked himself up into a righteous fury. "What did you do that for?! What if there were prisoners there?!"

Guilt washed over Rodney, but still he fought. This wasn't entirely his fault, after all. Not really. "I didn't exactly have time to refine the door code," he said, feeling more justified in his actions. "I was trying to prevent our not-so-invited guests from bringing more friends and family. Besides, how was I supposed to know there was anyone there? I'm not psychic! I had no way of knowing that you were running around playing hero and that I was ruining your game!"

Sheppard was quiet for a few moments and Rodney wondered if he'd gone too far. But then John spoke, his voice calmer. "Well, we're working together now. We're leaving three prisoners in the brig. Can we make sure they stay here?"

"Do-able," McKay responded in an equally subdued voice.

"Good. Now we need a plan."


--


John pressed on, trying to keep up a good front for the other four people who were with him. This thing had to end soon because he wasn't sure he had much left. In the relative calm of making their way back toward the control room, via a small detour to the weapons locker, there wasn't much of an adrenaline boost to keep him going. And he worried that if he stopped that would be all she wrote. But with the odds running just over two Genii to each Atlantean, they'd need every advantage that they could get.

"They're moving." Rodney's voice sounded in his ear.

"What? Where?" John asked, suddenly more alert.

"It looks like it's towards . . . . the jumper bay." Rodney's voice rose. John felt the same dread trickling through his system.

"Will they be able to activate the gate with the jumpers?"

Rodney hesitated. "Yes. If they can activate them."

John cursed. "See what you can do to stop that!" He turned toward the rest of them. "Time for plan B."

Part Eleven

John eyed his new, functioning, life-signs detector as he crept along the dim corridor. The low, intermittent drone of a voice reached his ears as he drew closer to the lower level entry into the gate room.

"McKay?" he called softly into the radio link. "How're we looking?"

"There are still two in the gate room and two in the control room. Jumper bay has six. Looks like they've found jumper one. Everyone is moving toward it."

"What is different about jumper one?" Teyla sounded in the middle of conversation.

"Anyone can use it." Sheppard replied, hoping to prevent either scientist from going into a long-winded explanation about genes and mental commands. "Which is why we need to move. Everyone. By the numbers."

John moved the remaining yards toward the gate room, stopping short near the doorway. The life-signs detector shown that one of the guards stood just a couple of yards away on the opposite side of the wall.

He slipped the clear mask down over his head, then tapped three times against the open radio link. Four answering taps sounded back, indicating that Elizabeth had likewise put on her mask and was in place outside of the other doorway which led into the gate room from the opposite side.

Five more taps came from Ford and Teyla's teams announcing that they had taken up their positions near the jumper bay and were ready to move. All that remained was for McKay to call the go-ahead so that they could begin the simultaneous attack that had become their plan B.

"Oh crap! They're starting to activate the gate. Go! Go! Go! Go Now!"

John reacted. The canister that he'd retrieved from the weapons locker was quickly activated and tossed around the door into the room. A startled cry reached his ears followed by the ensuing chaos from the jumper bay and the reaction of the two men in the control room.

Amid the noice, he called "Now!" across the link, bent low and entered the gate room.

Across the distance, he saw Elizabeth's masked form doing the same thing. Ignoring the incongruity of seeing her decked out in military gear, wearing a face mask and carrying a P90, he made for his target. The cursing, coughing, half-blinded soldier was making a valiant effort to reach for his weapon. It fell from his fingers to the floor.

John reached him in time to kick it away toward the center of the room before he caught a movement from above. He fired instinctively before ducking behind the curving stairs. More shots sounded before he risked taking a couple of more shots from around the staircase.

The downed Genii soldier jerked and whimpered as he was hit by friendly fire. But it was the cry that he caught in his ear piece that frightened him. Elizabeth.

Before John could speak, Rodney's frantic cries burst over the radio link, demanding to know if she was all right. John could barely get a word in edgewise, and the last thing he needed was panic rippling throughout the team.

But, Elizabeth's voice sounded back over the link. "I'm fine," she said, her voice only slightly shaky. "I wasn't hit."

John wasn't sure he bought that, and sought to form his own opinion. He ducked back out from behind his cover and fired upward. One of the shots found its mark and a body dropped to the floor from above.

Risking a peek out around the steps he caught sight of Elizabeth. She was trying to get to one of the still moving Genii so that she could put the temporary restraints on him. She was favoring her right hand, holding it in close to her body. The weapon she'd been carrying lay several yards away on the floor. They made eye contact across the expanse.

"I'm fine, John." She mouthed the words.

There were a lot of things that he wanted to say to that, but didn't have the luxury of time or place. He satisfied himself with a mouthed 'later' before turning his attention back to the problem at hand.

"Ford? How're you doing up there?" he spoke across the link.

"Rounding them all up, Sir," was the response.

"Good. Teyla, get to the gate room, help Dr. Weir."

Before Teyla's returned response sounded, another voiced sounded in the room. This one loud and daring.

"Major Sheppard! Do not think that you have won."

Kolya.

John leaned back into wall, thinking. Already the specialized tear gas was dissipating, what remained would not be strong enough to have much of an effect on the Genii leader. He needed to get in closer to do any real damage.

"I've captured all of your men," he called. "This is what we like to call, 'Checkmate'. Or, in simple terms, 'you lose'! So why don't you just surrender and save me the trouble of coming after you?"

"Another weakness of yours, Major. We Genii don't make things easy."

"Yeah, I didn't think you would," John murmured and withdrew the last remaining canister of tear gas. He gauged its weight against the distance to the spot that Kolya's voice had come from.

"More about us being the weakest link?" John called. Then, ignoring the objection of bruised ribs, he drew back and threw with all of his might before quickly ducking back around the steps. Several shots sounded, but amid them he heard the satisfying sound of the canister landing against the balcony floor. He did a slow Mississippi count to three and looked again.

The great Genii military leader was retreating away from the spraying container, covering his mouth with a piece of cloth. Taking advantage of the moment, John moved, taking the stairs two at a time in an attempt to reach the top in one piece.

Kolya remained ahead of him, seeking a means of escape from the pervasive chemicals. He disappeared through the doors into the driving rain of the storm outside. John followed, his mind tripping over the small item that was tossed back through the sliding door. John wasn't sure what it was, but he figured it wasn't good.

He reached for the device, catching it in mid-air, losing his P-90 in the process. There was no time to think about consequences or potential outcomes, all he could do was run. He cleared the sliding glass door and sighted Kolya moving farther along the balcony, obviously seeking cover.

"Here! Catch!" John called as he let the object fly directly toward the other man.

Kolya's eyes widened as the object sailed toward him. He raised his arms in an attempt at self protection, but in the end it did him no good. The device exploded.

The small concussive force knocked John off balance, sending him landing hard on his backside. It was a jarring experience, and all he wanted to do was just lay back, regardless of the chilly-ness of the rain, and let the world fade from existence. But there was one more thing he had to do.

Struggling up onto hands and knees he got his legs back under him, tossed the mask aside, then made his way over to Kolya. He had to be sure. The Genii's eyes were open in death, not reacting to the rain that splattered against him, washing away the flecks of red that dotted his neck.

"Turns out you were the weakest link, after all." He turned away, surprised when his legs threatened to give out. The irony of his final words to Kolya and the reality of his own weakened condition brought a grin to his lips. He would have chuckled, but that would have hurt far too much.

He managed the remaining steps that got him through the sliding doors back inside out of the weather. He heard the familiar sound of running footsteps and looked up to see Teyla and Weir headed toward him, both still wearing masks.

He let his back rest against the wall, hoping distantly that the gases had cleared out. His perspective shifted and it was a moment before he realized that he was sliding slowly downward. One of the women said something, but his brain didn't even try to understand. It faded into the haziness of the moment and the room seemed to brightened before fading to white.


--


John opened his eyes. For several long moments he felt as if he was floating, everything was hazy and had an unreal feel to it. Then, gradually, the fuzziness coalesced into a familiar room. The infirmary.

Not exactly his favorite place, but he couldn't seem to work up the energy to even consider moving, much less getting out of bed. That didn't stop the slight tickling in the back of his mind that told him that he was missing something. Then, suddenly, it came back to him. It was the sound and feel of every day business in the city. Soft footsteps moved somewhere in another part of the infirmary; muted voices making the sounds of normal conversation, all was right with the world.

He felt the urge to smile, but closed his eyes instead. The lazy, cotton-lined world returned, and then there was nothing.

When John next opened his eyes it was much more quickly and in reaction to something that was just on the edge of his perception. He looked around, a frown between his brows as he tried to figure out where he was and what was going on.

"Is he in here?" a disembodied voice demanded. McKay's voice.

He remembered then, and struggled toward a more upright position. Mistake. Whatever meds Beckett had been feeding him weren't up to the task of dealing with sudden movements. Every aching portion of his body chose that moment to chime in as well. There wasn't much hope of stifling his grunt of pain - and just when both Dr. Beckett and McKay showed up around the privacy curtain.

"Now look what you've done," Beckett exclaimed, shooting a look toward the astrophysicist before moving to John's side and starting in on the doctor thing. "He needs more rest."

"I'm fine," John objected, disappointed with the dry, tired sound of his voice. "Just moved too fast is all."

"That's your body's way of telling you to be more careful in the future. You took quite a beating, ya know. And whatever Dr. McKay needs can surely wait until a little later."

"I just came to make sure you weren't milking this injury thing for all it's worth. There is a lot of work to be done around here, you know."

"Me?" John barely choked back a laugh. Another mistake his body warned him about. "I'm hardly that person. But if you're here to thank me for saving the day, I'm all ears."

"Surely, you jest," Rodney responded. "I believe I'm the one who thought of the alternate plan to save the city. While you were sleeping it off here in the infirmary, it was my plan that brought the shield online long enough to weather the worst of the storm. It was -."

"Are we interrupting?" Another voice sounded as Dr. Weir, Teyla and Ford appeared around the curtain as well. He didn't miss the white bandaging on her hand.

"As a matter of fact . . . ."

"No." John cut in, ignoring Rodney's aggravated look.

"Good to see things are back to normal," Weir replied with a satisfied smile. Then, "How are you feeling?"

John caught himself before he shrugged and smiled instead. "Fine. How's the hand?"

She looked down at the appendage. "Carson tells me that I'll be back to gun toting in no time."

That caught John by surprise, and he couldn't hold back a laugh. He paid for it. Weir looked apologetic.

"You were pretty proficient out there," he told her. "Was that part of your diplomatic training?"

Elizabeth completely ignored the question. "I did what I could to help. I think all of you worked well together and had a part in saving this city. Commendations will be added to all of your records."

"We did make one heck of a team didn't we?" Beckett spoke up.

"We did," Rodney smiled smugly.

"Now that everyone is safe and happy," John spoke up, "What does a guy have to do to get some food around here?"


The End
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writerjc

September 2010

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