Author: ca_pierson and darkmoore
Rating: R for violence
Summary: Rodney might not be a warrior, but it's still a mistake to underestimate him and the things he will do to make sure his team is safe.
Author's Note: This was supposed to be a team fic, but somehow it got away from us (it's more Rodney centric now) and we didn't have the time to bring it back into the right direction. However ... it still is about the team and how much they mean to each other. Merry Christmas, jadesfire! We hope you will at least enjoy it a little bit.
"You're making a huge mistake. I'm a genius!" Rodney exclaimed, trying to shrug off the hands that were holding him even as he stumbled along the uneven path. Panic was welling up fiercely inside of him and he was so scared that he felt sick to his stomach. "I'm the most valuable member of the team and whatever you're going to do to me, my people will find out and they're not going to stand for it."
"We have no use for the likes of you, scholar," one of Rodney's captors replied in a cold, deep voice, tightening his grip on him. "You would not survive in the cen-di-sa-ra-a for long. You are no warrior like the ones you travel with. You will go through the ring of the ancestors and leave this place, never to return. Do not come looking for your mates, for it will be in vain. Tell that to your people." The man shoved Rodney roughly, sending him tumbling to the ground in front of the Stargate.
"You're idiots if you think that my people, that I am just going to give up on my team. We're going to get them back and then you will regret what you've done," Rodney hissed, trying to catch his breath. His knees throbbed mercilessly, his hands were bruised and bloodied form the rough ground he had been shoved at and he was hungry and thirsty.
"So we should better kill you instead of sending you through the ring of the ancestors?" the leader of the party asked in an amused voice, clearly finding Rodney's threats funny. He obviously didn't believe for one moment Rodney could be any danger to them, at all.
Rodney couldn't breathe for a moment, but before he could get it together and give them a piece of his mind the wormhole engaged and his two guards dragged him forward and practically threw him through the wormhole. There wasn't enough time to even scream before Rodney was traveling and then catapulted out the other end. "Fuck!" There were going to be bruises. Lots of them. Lying still on the stony ground for a bit Rodney let the last few hours pass in his mind's eye. The happiness they had been greeted with. The banquet, the military precision everywhere. How they hadn't noticed anything wrong was still beyond Rodney's comprehension. What really made no sense whatsoever was how they'd been completely uninterested in Rodney and his abilities. They had thrown him away like a bag full of waste.
And they'd kept John, Teyla and Ronon. They'd kept his team.
Picking himself up from the floor he limped to the DHD and dialed the Alpha Site hurriedly. He had to get home ... had to get his team back as quickly as possible.
Three hours, one medical patch up and two angry conversations with Elizabeth and Radek respectively later, Rodney braced himself for yet another meeting. Elizabeth had wanted to talk to him alone before the actual meeting, which was to begin in a few minutes.
Rodney fumed. Elizabeth hadn't listened when he had told her they didn't have time for lengthy negotiations, that they didn't have time to try the peaceful route before doing it the military way. Usually Rodney didn't mind the 'let's talk the hostile natives into letting our people go' approach, especially if it meant he wouldn't end up being shot at. But this time, it would mean that his team was being tortured while Elizabeth tried to make nice with the stupid leaders of M46-Q39. Something told Rodney there were just biding their time.
"As you all know, Colonel Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon are being held captive on M46-Q39," Elizabeth began, looking at each of the people present in turn. "I have already begun negotiations with Zahlar, the leader of the Teraf and think I'm making progress. Zahlar agreed to let me talk to Colonel Sheppard tomorrow night. He also agreed to let our people go if we can set up a contract detailing a treaty between our to parties. They would like our help training their army and in return the Teraf will provide us with some sort of grain. Zahlar was afraid to simply ask us if we would be willing to train their troops, thinking we might not want to help strengthen a potential enemy. Their army consists of soldiers and refugees of many different planets and getting them into an united army seems to be a bit of a problem." At that Lorne sat up a bit straighter but didn't interrupt her.
"While I do not approve of us delivering weapons or the likes, I think that a bit of tactical and practical support is acceptable. I'm sure the Colonel, Ronon and Teyla will be back with us shortly. Until then, Zahlar assured me they are resting in most comfortable rooms and are treated as guests. He sent pictures of them and I think we can all agree that they don't look like they;re being mistreated. Right now, I believe there is no harm in leaving them there until tomorrow night. I really do not want any bloodshed over a misunderstanding and a desperate plan of desperate people." Elizabeth had held her monologue with a strong and confident voice and now she had a small smile on her face.
Rodney exploded. "That's a load of crap and you know it. They are only trying to buy more time. Time they will use to brainwash my team. Time they will use to make sure they don't want to come back to Atlantis. Right before they took me away from that cell they had locked John and the others up in, they told me that my mates would soon come to see it their way and would join their troops willingly. Does that sound to you as if they plan on letting our people go again?" Rodney had jumped up from his chair and was waving his hand about wildly. He knew he had to look like the proverbial mad professor but he didn't care. The fear for John, for his team, his family was just too great. "We need to get them out. Now," he stressed. They couldn't leave them there a moment longer than absolutely necessary.
"We have to try negotiating first, Rodney. I believe them and they are very forthcoming in the talks. I'm sure there won't be any need for a rescue operation."
Elizabeth's calm upset Rodney. He knew she cared. Knew she wanted John and Ronon and Teyla back as much as the rest of them, but there were times when her diplomacy wasn't the right way. Rodney knew this, had known since they figured out that no amount of talking could change the minds of some people - like the Genii. Oh, or the Wraith. He admired her and trusted her, but this time she was just plain wrong. "No, Elizabeth, this is exactly the kind of situation that needs a rescue. They've kept them, without provocation. They kept them simply because they're all warriors and I wasn't worth keeping. If you send any of our people there for training who's to say they won't keep them as well? I don't know what their agenda is, what they want, but I'm pretty sure that giving up John, Ronon and Teyla isn't on their list of things to do."
"We'll give them a few days-"
"That's too long," Rodney broke her off. "We can't leave them in the hands of these people for a few days, Elizabeth. They're doing things to people there ... I don't know what, but they're doing things to them. Lots of people from different cultures, and they all behave freakishly similar, we just didn't notice before ... we can't leave them there."
"But nothing happened to you, did it?" Elizabeth asked, like that was the important bit.
Rodney glared at her, "I said nothing happened to me. They weren't interested in me at all, though and I didn't see anything of the others after we were locked up."
"The others are resting in very nice quarters now and all the Teraf want from them is help in training their troops. It's not exactly a hardship for Teyla, Ronon or the Colonel. All of them enjoy sparring and working out, they won't mind putting a few men through their paces. You are being irrational, Rodney. Besides, the Marines I would like to send there for assistance would be armed, of course," Elizabeth's voice was amused now and she looked at Rodney with something akin to fond exasperation.
"Go get some rest, Rodney. You will see, everything will be fine. Tomorrow this whole ordeal will look a lot less threatening. Negotiations are looking promising. Trust me on this, I know what I'm doing." With that she dismissed him and the rest of the gathered people, but Rodney seemed to be unable to move.
Cold dread settled into his stomach. Elizabeth was condemning his team to some sort of ... slavery ... brainwashing ... whatever. Rodney was sure of it. The strange behavior of the soldiers around him had only penetrated his mind when it had been way too late. But the longer he thought about it, the clearer it became to Rodney that something was awfully, horribly wrong with the Teraf.
The brush of Lorne's hand over his back, quick and incidentally looking, startled Rodney out of his thoughts. Lorne was worried as well, Rodney suddenly realized. He was just better in hiding it. Shooting Lorne a quick glance to let him know he'd noticed, but mindful of Elizabeth's eyes on him, Rodney stood up and gathered his things. "I'd better get going. Might as well take Carson's advice and lie down a bit," Rodney said and left the conference room without looking back.
John was shaking again. He'd never in his entire life felt this cold.
They'd forced him to strip down to his underwear and left him in that little ... hole. Probably to make him more malleable. It wasn't as if John didn't know what they were doing. All this was just build up for something that was going to be quite bad, if John was right. They were keeping him awake and starving him as well. And they'd separated them.
The worry for the others, but especially Rodney, was eating at him. He was the one of them who had no defenses against this. Ronon, John wasn't worried about, he'd survived seven years as a Runner. Teyla would cope, somehow, she was strong like that. But Rodney ... Rodney would crack under pressure. He was the one they pulled together and hid behind them in situations like that. He was the one whom they protected. The one who'd then come around and save them with his brilliant brain and his arrogant ego.
John shivered helplessly. He wished he'd know what was happening to the others, if they were in a similar situation to his. If there'd been only an opportunity to get away ... John wanted nothing more than to find his team and get the fuck out of this miserable dungeon.
He must have zoned out a bit, because he hadn't heard the footsteps outside until his guards were already entering the cell. He was grabbed and hauled to his feet unceremoniously, no-one speaking a word.
"You could have just asked," John muttered sarcastically, acutely aware of his clattering teeth and the numbness of his hands and feet. He wouldn't be able to fight his way out of there, not with them outnumbering him six to one and the state he was already in. If they had only given Rodney something to eat. The damp cold would have worsened his hypoglycemia so much and John really hoped Rodney was still even conscious. Sure, they had pretended to let him go, had mocked him with how he wasn't a soldier, but John didn't believe for even one moment that they'd let someone as intelligent and useful as Rodney get away just like that. On the other hand, it was a nice thought. Rodney warm and safe and fed on Atlantis.
John smiled to himself, paying his captors who were half dragging him along some corridors now, no mind. He had no chance in escaping and all he could do right now was hold on and wait for the cavalry to come and rescue them. John had lost his sense of time, but he suspected that their check in with Atlantis was still a few hours away. It had been a first contact mission and they had been prepared to stay overnight.
A door opened in front of him and then John was shoved into a room that was dominated by a chair. Well, not a regular chair, it looked more like a mix between the control chair in Atlantis and some sort of messed up medical examination table. The lights in the room were blinding white and hurt his eyes, as his captors dragged him over to the chair.
Uh oh, he was so screwed.
Fighting the hands that were holding him tight, John began to struggle and kick out, trying everything to keep them from pressing him into the chair and tying him down on it. All he got for it was the barrel of a gun hitting his kidneys painfully and then he felt himself strapped to cold metal.
The face of a man swam into John's field of vision, as he tried to blink against the blinding light coming from above.
"If you cease your struggling and just give in, the procedure will be much more painless and a lot shorter," the man said, his voice entirely without emotion.
"You wish," John said, trying to move, but he was secured tightly to the chair. His arms were tied down on armrests, his leg held down by metal clamps. All of his body, especially his head, neck and shoulders were secured so tightly, he couldn't' even move a fraction of an inch. This looked bad. Really, really bad.
Since John could only look straight ahead, he didn't know the needle was coming until it actually entered the vein in his right arm. There was an IV bag being hung somewhere near his head and then the fluid started dripping, droplets of what felt like liquid fire entering his system.
Damn, it hurt.
And it made him lightheaded. A lot. And not in a good way. His vision began to change, colors swimming before his eyes and the prickling, numbing cold from earlier turned into a myriad of white hot needles burning his nerve endings making him want to scream in agony.
Suddenly the chair moved, the upper part lifting, brining him into a position in which he was almost standing upright. A part of the chair, right where his neck was lying was disappearing, leaving his spine exposed.
The movement of the chair had sent John's empty stomach roiling, the drug doing it's best to make his head spin and making him feel completely disoriented. There was a swap of something cold on his neck, right over his vertebrae and the sharp smell of disinfectant filled the air.
Cold sweat broke out on John's skin as the intention of his captors became clear. John's heart beat wildly in his chest, fear gripping him. If they messed with his spinal chord, if they did something to him and it went wrong ... he could be paralyzed for good, if he survived this ordeal. He'd be caught in a body that was completely useless, for the rest of his life.
A small, hysteric voice in his mind laughed, comparing his situation with a scene from some bad Vin Diesel movie, but hadn't those poked their victims in the side of the neck? Mentally shaking his head over the irony of him thinking about a movie when he was in the process of being ... what exactly? Tortured? Questioned? Examined?
John didn't really know, but all thoughts of asking or guessing were forgotten the moment the room suddenly went dark safe for an eerie blue light that was being shone at his neck from behind. A moment later John felt his head being moved forward slightly by the chair, and then his world exploded in pain as something was slowly, steadily shoved into the back of his neck.
John screamed, trying to get away from the pain but it was no use. Gasping for breath helplessly, John allowed the darkness to claim him.
Rodney hadn't been able to sleep. The thought of lying on the bed for one more minute, staring at either a wall or the ceiling was pretty much driving him crazy as well. At least Radek hadn't even said a word to him when he'd dragged his tired body to the lab. If he couldn't sleep he could at least do some work, because there was no way he'd take anything to sleep while his team still wasn't back home. No way. And Elizabeth was delusional if she thought Rodney would just sit back and do nothing.
"I am sure they are fine," Radek said, his voice even, but Rodney knew him well enough to hear the worry, "you see."
Rodney closed his eyes for a moment, trying to cling to the trust in Elizabeth's abilities, but he failed horribly. "No, it's not going to be fine. My team's in the hands of lunatics. And I can't help them." He turned to Radek, willing at least someone to understand how he felt. And was surprised when Radek nodded, his face grave.
Maybe he wasn't the only one with a bad feeling in his stomach.
"You should talk to Evan," Radek said and turned back to his project. "Now would be good. You are useless like this."
With a frown Rodney thought about that. "What's Lorne going to-"
"Just go, Rodney."
Puzzled, Rodney got up. It didn't sound like a suggestion. Radek had just told him to see Major Lorne and ... and Rodney remembered the way Lorne had looked at him during the meeting. When he left the lab he was nearly running until he was standing in front of Lorne's office, slightly out of breath. The door opened for him like he was expected. Which - on second thought - he probably was. "Lorne," he said in greeting and sat on the visitor's chair.
"Took you long enough, McKay," Lorne answered, his face grim.
Rodney rolled his eyes. Sometimes he didn't understand people. "You could have said that you want to talk to me."
Lorne looked at him with a serious expression. "Doctor Weir is the leader of the expedition, I can't contradict her openly. You think waiting will be a bad idea?"
"Yes, a really, really stupid idea actually. I don't think they're being treated as guests and I don't think they're alright at all."
For a moment Lorne studied him, thoughtfully. "You're not just saying that because they're your team and you want them out?"
"What? No! You should have seen those people. I know how I keep saying that the military and intelligence are mutually exclusive, but these people don't even stop to think before they do something. It was creepy, Lorne. They don't act like individuals at all. There were Genii and Hoffans there, warriors from a lot of different planets. And they all acted the same."
That statement made Lorne sit up straighter. "You mean like what ... like they are under some kind of influence?" he asked and Rodney sighed.
"I don't know what is wrong with them, just that for some reason they are acting like a hoard of sheep. Lemmings. Zombies. Take your pick. I'm telling you our people are in danger," Rodney repeated, hoping Lorne would take him seriously.
Seeing Lorne hesitate still, Rodney knew he had to change tactics. Leaning forward in his chair Rodney softened his voice saying, "Lorne ... Evan, you know me. You know I am the last person who thinks making people shoot at us is a good idea. You're friends with John, hell you're friends with me. You know I'm not saying things like that lightly. I'm absolutely sure that John and the others are in danger. When they warned me to tell my people we shouldn't come looking for my team, that it wouldn't be of any use - they meant it. And I really think that whatever bullshit they are feeding Elizabeth right now, is some sort of aversion. They're biding their time. We need to get my team out now before it is too late."
Lorne looked at Rodney for a long time, and Rodney could see him debating with himself. It would mean going against a direct order, something that could end Lorne's career and get him kicked out of the Air Force altogether. But John was his friend and commanding officer and Lorne wanted him back, safe and unharmed.
Question was ... would Lorne risk his career and his life on Atlantis on Rodney's word alone or would he want to play it safe?
Finally, Lorne took a deep breath and said, "What did you have in mind, doc?"
John felt like his skull was about to explode. Despite the cottony feeling in his head, he was in an ungodly amount of pain, allover. He blinked blearily and noticed that the room he was lying in was still mostly dark. The table was back in a horizontal position and some sort of video of marching troops was being projected onto the ceiling above him.
John briefly wondered how long he'd been out and if anyone was taking notice of him at all. Maybe he should just close his eyes again and try to go to sleep or something. That wouldn't be an easy task though since in addition to the light show above his head there was a monotone voice echoing through the room, coming out of hidden speakers.
"You are a soldier of the Teraffean army. Your complete loyalty lies with your comrades. You live to serve the council. It is an honor and a privilege to serve the council. You will readily sacrifice your life if that is the council's wish. You are nothing without your fellow soldiers."
What the hell? John thought, not sure what was going on.
"You are Teraffean by choice. This is your home now. You are a soldier of the Teraffean army. Your complete loyalty-" John stopped listening to it. He'd had a lot of practice letting Rodney's voice just wash over him and he put that to use now. They hadn't asked any questions, not about Atlantis, nor their weapons. He'd not been forced to initiate Ancient technology . They hadn't asked for anything at all, which made John more uneasy than being peppered with questions he wouldn't answer. But this? This felt more like ... fuck. Whatever they'd given him had made him stupid because that sounded so much like brainwashing it wasn't even funny.
Forcing himself to stay still he hoped that he was different enough from the people in the Pegasus Galaxy that the drugs they were using didn't work as well on him as they thought. In the clarity of the moment he realized that this was what they were doing to his whole team. Fuck. All they had to do was hang on until Elizabeth sent someone to save them.
"Ma'am, I've talked to Doctor McKay in detail and it is my belief that he's right. We think that they are brainwashing people to make them into good, little soldiers. Doctor Zelenka took a closer look at those photos they sent and he assured me that they are most definitely fake."
If Rodney hadn't known that was a lie he'd have believed it. The photos had been pristine and Rodney figured they'd drugged the team just for the occasion. It was maddening. Lorne made a lot of sense, though, and Elizabeth was starting to look just a bit worried. And rightfully so.
"I think we should wait until morning, give them a chance to wait for John to wake up and-" Elizabeth started, but Lorne didn't let her talk any farther.
"With all due respect, Ma'am, if they didn't mind SGA-1 contacting us then Colonel Sheppard would already have done so. They haven't met any of the check-ins, even after the Teraf started negotiating with us. We'd have heard from them if their status had changed to that of guest," Lorne stated, looking at Elizabeth expectantly.
Her gaze went from Lorne to Rodney and back to Lorne, but Rodney could see the beginning of doubt in her expression. "If we're right they are being brainwashed right now. By the time they stop pretending it'll be too late to get them back sane. We don't know what exactly they're doing, but this kind of thing can be pretty hard to fix," Rodney chimed in and he could pinpoint the exact moment Elizabeth finally gave in and saw reason. She nodded and neither of them stayed long enough to hear her tell them to put a rescue force together. Not like they'd need a lot of people, Rodney had a plan.
Ronon growled low in his throat. The pain that was wrecking his body was bad, but he'd felt worse. What was getting more to him was the funny feeling in his head and the increasing disorientation. The voice that was speaking the same, almost hypnotic words over and over again was making it hard to concentrate on anything but the pictures that were flickering over the ceiling above him and the words. The same words. Over and over again. Talking about home, about honor and sacrifices.
Home. Was this really home? Home had been Sateda. Home was ... Atlantis, wasn't it?
Somewhere beside him there was movement and then the voice that had come from all around him stopped and Ronon wondered what was going to happen next.
"What do you want from me? Let me go!" Ronon yelled, now that the voice wasn't distracting him any more, it was easier to resist.
A man with a clipboard in hand was stepping up to the table Ronon was lying on. He didn't look at Ronon but kept his gaze fixed on the clipboard he was holding. "What is your name?" the man asked.
"Not gonna tell you anything. Let me go!" Ronon growled. He felt alarmingly weak, confused and it was harder to remember who he was and what he had been doing when he been brought here.
"I can give you great pleasure if your answers please me, but I can give you equally great pain if you displease me. I ask you again, what is your name?" The man beside him asked again.
"Fuck you," Ronon growled and second later white hot pain flared though his body, every fiber of his being feeling like it had turned into molten lava. It as agonizing. Intense pain radiating out from the point where they had pushed something into his neck, earlier. Ronon almost lost consciousness again.
Beside him the man fiddled with the bag of fluid that was still dripping into his arm and when he was done, the burn of the fluid intensified and the disorientation and the lightheaded feeling in his head grew worse and worse.
"What is your name?" the man asked a third time and this time Ronon actually felt compelled to answer.
"Ronon Dex," he answered, unable to stop himself.
"Good!" the man praised and this time a wave of warmth and intense pleasure rolled through Ronon, making his skin tingle and Ronon groan low in his throat. Feelings such a these he usually only felt when having sex.
"Now, Mr. Dex, where is your new home?" the man asked before Ronon even could recover from the multitude of sensations running through his body.
"Atlantis," Ronon replied before he could stop himself. Whatever drug they were giving him was seriously weakening his willpower.
"No, Mr. Dex, your new home is here with us. You are Terafean by choice. You are a Terafean soldier now," the stranger corrected. "So I will ask you again. Where is your new home?"
"Atlantis," Ronon said again, bracing for another wave of pain. When it came, this time, Ronon screamed. As he felt his resistance weakening, Ronon just wished backup from Atlantis would come soon. He wasn't sure how long he would be bale to remember who he really was.
"Look, doc, it's not that I don't trust you, but I think two teams aren't enough to break out our people. We're talking about a whole planet full of soldiers, you said that yourself," Lorne argued as they were walking to the jumper bay. Their gear was waiting there for him with ten Marines in two jumpers. "There'll be a lot of resistance."
Rodney shook his head, "No, there won't. We tried to fix one of the broken Ancient devices and - while it didn't get fixed - it incapacitates anyone without the ATA gene in a five kilometers radius. It'll be a walk in the park, Major."
Lorne gave him an appreciative look. "So that's why you didn't want anyone without the gene on the rescue team?" He looked positively impressed now. "They won't even know what hit them."
Rodney thought about that for a moment, then he smiled and nodded. "No. They won't."
"Alright, let's get going!" Lorne called out and he made his way over to one of the 'jumpers, taking the pilot's seat. Rodney sat in the co-pilot's seat, brimming with pent up energy. He had a bad feeling in his gut. Not about the mission, no, but about the state they would find his team in.
He didn't pay any attention to Lorne going through pre-flight protocols but thought about John. Rodney knew he wouldn't be able to stand it if John wasn't himself any more. Well, he'd have a hard time if either of them were messed up but John was ... John was his partner. His lover. Losing him ... losing him like this would be unbearable. In his minds eye Rodney could see a John who wasn't himself any more, a shell, empty without the spark of mischief, without the intelligence in his eyes that he tried so hard to hide.
Before Rodney knew it they were through the gate, the 'jumpers cloaked and unnoticed on their way to the nearest village. The one where they had been greeted so friendly at first and where the rest of his team had ended up in holding cells.
Rodney's uneasiness grew as the 'jumpers set down just outside of the city's walls and Lorne said, "We've picked up their signal, doc. They are well within the rage of you little gadget's radius. If it works as you said it would, then there shouldn't be any problems at all. You ready to get our people back?" there was a definite smirk in Lorne's voice. He seemed much more relaxed now that he knew he wouldn't lead his men into an actual fight.
"I've been ready hours ago and you know it," Rodney replied, checking his backpack over again. It contained not only his laptop and some of his equipment but also a few other things he would need to destroy any technical equipment and data. On top of that he'd asked Lorne to pack some assorted explosives. Of course Lorne had looked at him pointedly and had asked him if he really thought they would go onto a rescue mission without ammunition and explosives.
Rodney had been on plenty of rescue missions in the past few years, but this one was probably the easiest ever. The device worked - or rather misfired - appropriately and there was absolutely no resistance as the rescue force with Lorne in the lead entered what was obviously a prison facility. They found Teyla first, in a tiny cell, lying half naked on the cold floor - unconscious. It was something they'd been expecting and two of the Marines accompanying them stepped forward. They wrapped her in a blanket and put her on a stretcher, then started on their way to the 'jumper while the rest of them were already moving on.
"This place is a maze," Lorne said, frowning as they had to double back for the third time. "We should be pretty close now, though."
They stumbled over Ronon in the next corridor, wedged between two of the Teraf. He looked worse for wear than Teyla, with fist sized bruises and cuts all over. Something inside of Rodney broke at the sight of him and he kicked the Teraf out of the way with a little more force than necessary, as he knelt next to Ronon. Rolling him onto his back carefully, Rodney saw that his eyes were open. He wasn't unconscious like Teyla, he was just paralyzed from the device. "Ronon, we're here to get you out. Don't worry. Once you're outside of the range of the device, everything will be alright. I promise," he told Ronon hurriedly while the Marines wrapped him up warmly and put him on the next stretcher. "Teyla is there already and we're going to get John now. I'll see you back at the 'jumper." It was all he could do to keep himself from going back with the stretcher, but John was still out there. "Don't worry," Rodney called out again as the Marines carried Ronon around the corner and back to the 'jumper.
He watched the place they had vanished at for a few heartbeats before he turned to Lorne with a sickening feeling in his stomach. "Lets go," he muttered.
They opened the next door and found John.
"Fuck," Lorne cursed while his men stared in horror.
Rodney couldn't say anything, all he could do was stare at John, who was strapped onto some sort of ... table. He was bruised and bloodied and there were some sort of ... needles sticking out of his body in various places.
"Colonel?" Lorne's voice sounded reluctant, terror apparent in his voice.
Rodney knew what Lorne thought - he was thinking exactly the same. 'Please, don't be dead' Rodney begged silently.
John moaned and Rodney could see him struggle weakly, as his muscles flexed. "John?" he asked, hating how his voice broke on the single word.
Bloodshot eyes opened at that. "Rodney?"
And oh God, Rodney had never heard anything better. "Yeah, it's me. And Lorne, he's here as well. We've got Teyla and Ronon already at the 'jumper," he answered the unspoken question that had come with his name. Moving closer, Rodney gently ran his fingers along John's arm, avoiding the IV line. Rodney forced himself to stay calm and collected as he smiled at John encouragingly. "You'll be fine, John. We're here to bring you home. I'm sorry we didn't come sooner," he said, feeling anger at Elizabeth well up inside of him, but stomped down on the feeling viciously. There would be time for that later.
"Well," Rodney said to Hornes, the medic that had come along. Suddenly Rodney wished Carson were with them. He'd feel much safer with John's health in the hands of a real doctor, not just a medic. It wasn't the IV that was disturbing Rodney, no, it were the needles that were sticking out along John's spine that scared Rodney half to death.
"I'll be careful, sir" Hornes said at the terrified look John threw him as he approached.
Rodney couldn't watch Hornes work, but he couldn't look away completely, either. Instead he concentrated on John's face. "Teyla was off much better, I knew she was more intelligent than either one of you. The whole active resistance thing never really seems to work anyway. You really should ask her for pointers, she could probably teach you something." Rodney ranted, trying to distract John from whatever Hornes was doing. Rodney knew just from looking at John that he was in a great deal of pain and Hornes prodding and probing, pulling and tearing on stuff wasn't exactly going to help.
"Sir, I can't get the needles out of his spine like this. There has to be some sort of mechanism. I don't want to risk hurting him if I try to remove the needles the wrong way," Hornes reported and he looked scarily distraught.
"Oh for the love of ..." Rodney cursed and moved behind the chair. "Let me see this," he snapped, pushing Hornes to the side and having a look at the chair John was strapped to, himself.
"Rodney, can you shut it off, please?" John asked weakly and something in Rodney's chest turned to ice. He straightened, reaching up to brush a careful hand over John's hair, his temples, soothingly. It was just a ghost of a touch.
"I'm working on it, John. As soon as I have figured out how this thing works, I'll get this stuff off of you, I promise," Rodney choked out, unable to keep his emotions under control. Right now he longed to hurt someone, as bad as they had hurt John.
"Not what I mean," John mumbled tiredly, sluggishly. "Can you turn off the voice recording? If I have to listen one more time to that drivel of me being a soldier of the Terrafean army, I swear I am going to scream. Please Rodney, shut it off."
Rodney looked at John, horrified. This was bad. Really bad. "Are you still hearing it right now, John?" Rodney asked carefully, since the only sound in the room was the soft humming of the chair John was strapped to and the labored breath of the horrified looking Marines.
"Yeah, its been going on for hours," John replied hands clenching and unclenching in the restraints.
"I can't hear a thing, John, but maybe it's connected to whatever they stuck into your spine. I'll figure it out and then we'll get out of here," Rodney said and set to work on the chair.
He'd been right, his team, his family had been tortured and obviously brainwashed. The thought alone made Rodney's blood boil. Someone was going to pay for this - and they were going to pay for it dearly.
Half an hour later, Lorne watched as McKay stepped out of the jumper, backpack in hand. He had asked Lorne to land in front of the Stargate, had said he needed to take care of something before they could return to Atlantis. Reluctantly, Lorne had agreed. McKay seemed to know what he was doing.
Lorne followed McKay outside, watching him set up his equipment. Inside the 'jumper, Hornes was taking care of his CO. The Marines had secured the stretcher with Sheppard inside his own 'jumper while Teyla and Ronon were in the other one. The Colonel was drugged to the eyeballs by now and McKay hadn't stopped hovering over him ever since they had gotten him out of that damn chair.
Now McKay was busy taking part of the DHD apart though, and he was also manipulating the Stargate itself somehow. Uneasiness settled into Lorne's stomach as he watched McKay mutter to himself.
"Hey, doc! What are you doing? We really should get the Colonel and the others back to Atlantis. You almost done?" Lorne called out, stepping up to McKay. He knew they had destroyed every bit of technology in the building they had found the Colonel in, with some sort of virus McKay had whipped up - and a few well placed packs of C4. So Lorne wasn't sure what use manipulating the Stargate would be. But maybe McKay had found a way to shut the Stargate off after they had left so no-one would end up trapped on this planet ever again.
Sure, Lorne would have liked to do more, would have liked to see the Teraf pay for what they had done to his CO, Teyla and Ronon. To his friends. But Lorne also knew getting the team back to Atlantis and into the infirmary had priority.
"I'll be with you in a moment, Major. Let me just finish this up and I'm good to go," McKay replied and there was an undertone in his voice that made Lorne curious.
"Doc, what are you doing?" Lorne asked again, suspiciously, watching as McKay began to pack his equipment away again, putting it back into his backpack.
"Oh, I was just setting the Stargate to blow up once we're through safely and the wormhole has disengaged. But I'm done now, we can go," McKay replied casually, sounding satisfied and almost gleeful.
"You what?" Lorne asked, dumbstruck. He thought he'd heard wrong. Lorne was sure that Elizabeth hadn't sanctioned this and really ... the idea was almost scary. He looked at McKay disbelievingly and started, "But isn't the Stargate made of naqahdah? If you blow it up ..." Lorne paused as, right as he watched, the look on McKay's face turned hard and his eyes turned cold.
"Yes, Major, I know exactly what will happen when I blow the Stargate up. The explosion will have the strength of several nuclear warheads, destroying a good part of the planet. In addition it will render the rest of the planet uninhabitable, making sure each and every one of this sick bastards that are kidnapping and brainwashing peaceful travelers will die," McKay said and there was neither regret nor mercy in his voice or in his stance. He was positively scary.
Lorne swallowed hard, "You are going to kill them all? Destroy the planet? Commit genocide because of what they did to your team?"
McKay gave him another hard look and said in a cold tone, "They kidnapped my team. They kidnapped and tortured my family. They tried to brainwash my family into forgetting Atlantis, forgetting their life, forgetting me. You didn't honestly think I'd let them get away with that, did you? No-one does something like that and lives to regret it."
With that McKay turned around and walked towards the 'jumper, sitting down beside the stretcher the Colonel was lying on.
A long time ago, when Lorne had first come to Atlantis, Colonel Sheppard had warned him that Rodney McKay could be a very dangerous man, if he set his mind to something. The Colonel had talked about not messing with the man who was in charge of the environmental controls if one didn't want to take cold showers or have one's bedroom turned into a sauna. But he had also painted the picture of a man who was fiercely loyal, undeniably brave and had saved Atlantis and the expedition almost single-handedly a few times over.
At first, Lorne hadn't wanted to believe him, thinking that Sheppard was just trying to explain the presence of a scientist on the flagship team of Atlantis. But soon enough, Lorne had realized that every word the Colonel had said was true.
And just now Lorne had seen the extend of McKay's loyalty. Lorne wondered briefly how many people underestimated McKay like that. Under all that arrogant bluster and the indifferent behavior was a man who would do practically everything for Atlantis and the people he called family. And that was what made him truly dangerous.
Rodney hadn't budged from the infirmary. He'd gotten a laptop and pretty much set up shop there, glaring at every nurse or doctor who'd tried to make him leave. Carson at least hadn't, he'd only taken one look at Rodney, shaken his head and then went to take care of Rodney's team.
By now Teraf was a lifeless ball circling around its sun and it was a thought that continuously warmed him as he waited for news on his team. Seeing John like that had been terrifying and Rodney still saw it every time he closed his eyes.
"Rodney?" Carson asked as he came out of the private room they'd put aside for the team, "they'll be fine, you should go get some rest."
Shaking his head, Rodney closed the laptop and stood up. "Can I see them?" There really was no way he'd leave the infirmary before he could make sure that his team was alright.
Carson nodded, "Yes, you can, Rodney. They're resting now. You got them out before any permanent damage was done. But you won't believe me anyway, until you've seen for yourself, so go on in; take your time. I'm sure your team will be happy to see you."
"Thanks Carson," Rodney murmured, suddenly feeling reluctant. He'd wanted to go and see his friends for hours, but now that the moment was there, he was scared. Sure, Carson had said hey would be fine, but Rodney wasn't so naïve to think there wouldn't be an aftermath to this. Being drugged and tried to manipulate like that had to leave more than physical injuries and Rodney could foresee some more nightmares for all of them.
Slowly, Rodney opened the door and stepped into the room where his team was resting.
Ronon was sleeping fitfully when Rodney entered, but Teyla rose up on one elbow, looking at him with wide eyes. "Rodney," she whispered, clearly grateful it was him coming in. "I am so glad that they let you go."
I'm not, he wanted to say. I wish I'd been there with you. Instead he smiled and stepped closer to brush his forehead against hers for a moment. "I'm glad as well," he said, then watched as she lay down again and closed her eyes. John was lying in the next bed, watching him intently as he got closer. "John," Rodney whispered, "how are you?"
John shook his head, then reached out and pulled Rodney closer. "I'll be fine," he rasped. "We'll be fine." He sat up and for the first time since they'd come back through the 'gate Rodney finally felt relief.
"They just kept you," Rodney said in a small voice and allowed John to pull him into a tight hug. "They just kept you. And I couldn't do anything."
John just sighed into Rodney's shoulder. "I know. But you got us out, that's the most important thing." He let go and brushed his lips against Rodney's briefly. "Stay a bit?"
The tone of voice was one so unlike John that Rodney wished he hadn't annihilated Teraf yet. He wanted to go back there and hurt them as much as they'd hurt John. "Okay," he muttered and went to get a chair. The bed was too small for him to even contemplate getting in with John, but he could sit here for a while and hold his hand. Being there for all of them if they had nightmares. Carson could just go to hell if he tried to kick him out. "I'll stay. I'll be right here." He felt John squeeze his fingers, then relax. "I promise," he added. Hearing Ronon's snore and Teyla's even breath was already lulling him in a bit. John rolled on his side, facing Rodney, and he was asleep before Rodney was entirely comfortable in his chair. Leaning in Rodney lifted John's hand to his lips and kissed his bruised knuckles. "I don't know what I'd have done if any of you hadn't survived this," he whispered, finally allowing the terror and the fear show in his voice. "I love you," he breathed into John's skin, then he settled back and closed his eyes. He was right where he belonged. With his team.