Disclaimer: So very not mine, or the show wouldn’t have been cancelled and we’d have gotten our movie by now?
Author's Notes: This is perhaps not exactly what you would be expecting considering your request. But I hope that you enjoy it.
Summary: After returning to Pegasus with the stolen City of Atlantis, it’s a surprise who gets kidnapped by a native population first.
They had left the cloaked jumper behind in a small clearing before making their way towards the compound. It hadn’t been difficult to find the hidden building with the jumper’s sensors. It had practically glowed on the display. The aerial scans they had done before landing had given John the basic layout of the structure he was planning to invade.
Rodney hadn’t been able to get a very clear picture of the internal layout because of something in the building materials. Truthfully, John had stopped listening to the list of materials that might be causing the interference when Rodney degraded into blaming the local flora.
Advancing through the forest towards his target, John couldn’t help but marvel at the fact the Wraith hadn’t already picked up on the energy signatures and blasted the sons of bitches from space.
Then again, food was scarce for the Wraith at the moment. No sense destroying a population that might be able to sustain enough Wraith to crew a Cruiser.
You have no idea what you’ve done.
Oh, I know exactly what I have done. I have captured a valuable member of society from the City of the Ancestors. Your people will negotiate with my representative and soon we will have much of your technology to help defend us from the Wraith, with none of the nasty effects of becoming your trading partners.
Lorne knew the layout of the compound he’d been brought to. His captors had been happy to show him around pointing out all the fortifications and defences that would keep him prisoner. Coded door locks, with codes that changed twice a day, on a daily basis. Biometric scanners at every access point, windows that were not only bullet proof but shielded as well. Walls that were four feet thick concrete slabs with internal wire mesh supports that scrambled his transmitter signal. Guards that were more a freak show of mechanically controlled humans, something better than the replicators, but completely beyond corruption and bribes.
And that was just the base where he was being held; beyond the compound there was a massive mountain range that encircled the northern and western sides, a thick nearly endless forest to the south, and an ocean to the east. Even if he made it out of the compound and away from the guards, he still had no idea which way the gate was, or if he were even still on the same planet.
They knew that returning to the Pegasus Galaxy was the least of their worries. Stealing Atlantis from Earth and escaping the Milky Way without being followed had been the easy part; reintegrating themselves back into Pegasus after their abrupt departure and their long absence was going to be the hard part.
And as proof of that, Lorne had been lured away from his team, rendered unconscious, and awoke to find himself trapped in a prison cell. A rather comfortable prison cell, but still a prison cell none the less.
Sitting on the floor, staring out of his opaque window, Lorne felt the floor vibrate under him and watched with detached fascination as dust gently fell from the ceiling above him. Tilting his head back slightly, he felt the second vibration in the floor and couldn’t help but smile.
Rescue was on the way.
“Hang on a second,” Rodney demanded, pulling his computer from his pack.
John and Ronon kept a look out at the entrance of the corridor where Rodney had called them up short. Teyla was watching their six, shifting uneasily as they all waited for Rodney to finish checking whatever it was he was checking.
“Rodney,” John hissed in frustration.
“I know, I know,” Rodney muttered. “It’s just that...” and he trailed off as he tapped something into the tablet and took a step closer to one of the guards they’d killed to secure this bit of hallway.
“Holy shit,” Rodney breathed. “John, the guards, they’re machines.”
Pulling away from his position, John went back to Rodney while Ronon moved in to cover the entire entrance on his own. “What do you mean they’re machines? Like robots?”
Rodney scoffed at that. “No, Colonel, they aren’t mechanical. Think the borg with less technology and more human. Or, better, whatever that movie was called with the death row convicts that were part of some kind of game.”
“Gamer,” Ronon supplied.
John turned to Rodney for confirmation and saw the grim look in the other man’s eyes. Looking back down to the dead guard, John considered that possibility and how it affected their plans for rescuing Lorne.
Some of the details had to be changed. Because if the guards were being controlled like some kind of human robot, that meant there was a controller. And whatever the controller knew, the rest of the guards would know soon enough.
“What kind of information can they send back to their handler?” John asked.
“I don’t know,” Rodney answered reluctantly. “I’d need to have access to a live link to be sure.”
Nodding, John lifted his P90 back into position and turned to move up next to Ronon. “Then let’s go find a live one for you to check out.”
They won’t negotiate with your representative.
Claiming to be an insignificant member of your society is useless. We have confirmed your identity and your status among your people, as well as your relationship to your leaders. They will ransom for you. Your history with the other peoples of the Galaxy has shown us this much.
When the alarm began to sound, Lorne was taken from his cell in shackles and chains.
It wasn’t much of an alarm. Just a soft humming sound that came and went at regular intervals. But it was all the warning his guards needed to move him from his present location and bring him to a more secured room in the compound.
And the most secure room in the compound was nothing more than an office; an office with its own ventilation system, security codes, guards, and defences.
Shoved into the room, Lorne came face to face with his captor. He hadn’t even gotten the guy’s name.
“You’ve had a security breach,” Lorne stated.
His captor just huffed at him and continued to work from a terminal set up on his desk. It was always a shame to be captured and kidnapped by races who had advanced forms of technology, Lorne mused. There were so few of them in Pegasus, it sucked having to cross off a potential ally because of their greed.
“It’s been what? Seven minutes since the outer wall was breached?” Lorne asked conversationally. “By now, most of the guards in that section of the compound have been eliminated and several of your systems have been hacked.”
When his captor didn’t responded, but furiously punched in what seemed to be a series of commands into his terminal, Lorne took a seat in one of the chairs facing the desk and slid it a little ways further from the door. There was no sense being in the line of fire if he didn’t need to be there.
Feeling another slight tremor in the floor, Lorne frowned in concern. They were using too much C4 to get through the compound. There wouldn’t be any replenishing the supplies once they were through them – not now that they were on the run from Earth.
“That ping back must be giving you one hell of a problem,” Lorne said, glancing about the room.
That comment seemed to have gotten his abductor’s attention. “Ping back?”
Looking back to the other man, Lorne raised his eye brows in mock shock, “The delay between command and response? That much of a delay is going to give them the upper hand. All of your guards are basically human robots. They can’t think on their own.” Smiling as though he had been helpful, Lorne added, “Makes them easier targets.”
“Rodney, hurry up,” John demanded.
The scientist made a frustrated sound before snapping back, “I’m trying! Brain waves were never meant to be converted into computer code like this. It’s not that easy to translate the information I’m getting from the data port... And what kind of sick bastard puts a data port in someone’s ear?”
Peeking around the door frame to get a better look down the hallway, John jerked his head back quickly. “We’re running out of time, Rodney.” There were more guards advancing on their position. John did not want to get pinned down in a tiny room where only one person could fit in the door way to return fire. “Are you getting anything useful from him?”
“No,” Rodney admitted and jerked the cable out of the man’s ear. “And that is not a man anymore. It’s just an automaton in a human body. Whatever process they used destroyed anything resembling an independent person.”
Ronon stepped forward and shot their prisoner in the head once Rodney was done with him.
“I think I saw some kind of control room down the hall,” John offered. “Maybe you can get more information from a real computer instead of a human puppet?”
Rodney didn’t reply, just put his tablet back in his pack and pulled his own P90 back up and into position, ready to follow John’s lead.
You’re a little late to be jumping on to the kidnap bandwagon. We’ve been gone for a while.
Yes, that was rather frustrating to discover. But you have returned to your travels, and have provided us with the opportunity we had been searching for.
“My guards are exceptionally well trained men and women. There is no delay in their programming.”
“I’m sure there isn’t,” Lorne conceded, careful to make sure his tone of voice said the very opposite of his words. “You’ve heard of Colonel Sheppard, right?”
“Of course,” the other man snapped.
“He was the one slated for rescue missions if I or my team turned up missing.” Nodding, Lorne added, “Do you know what he did to the Genii when they captured Atlantis?”
This time there wasn’t a response. At least not a verbal one. Lorne watched as the other man paled across the desk from him, focusing all the harder on his terminal.
“He hunted,” Lorne supplied. “Stalked them through the city and killed them, one by one. He’s an exceptionally good hunter. Only gotten better since then now that he’s got a Satedan on his team. He’s a former Runner. I didn’t think there were many things that Sheppard didn’t know about stalking and hunting. But Ronon was able to pass along some great pointers to help him improve. And then, when the Genii captured me and my team, he didn’t really need help to find us. There weren’t that many guards left to block our escape by the time he made it to us.”
They’d left Rodney and Teyla back at the control room they had found and cleared on the lower level. Rodney had seemed confident that he’d be able to access some of the systems through the terminal. Though, he’d muttered something about primitive knock offs before John had left the room. Something he was pretty sure he wasn’t meant to hear.
The life signs detector they’d brought with them was useless. The interference from whatever was in the walls jamming the signals and turning out false positives, and completely missing large pockets of guards waiting for them.
Making their way up to the higher levels of the compound had been made all the more difficult with the security precautions put in place. Rodney hadn’t been able to circumvent the security lock outs on the doors, but he had been able to jam their bio signatures so they stopped announcing to whoever was controlling the guards exactly where they were every time they passed through a door way.
Burning through more C4 than he was really comfortable with, John and Ronon made their way to the fourth level where Lorne’s signal seemed to have been coming from when they made their fly by.
As the next door blew open to another corridor with armed guards, Ronon fired twice into the waiting guards, attracting their attention.
They had discovered that killing the guards was easier up close. It took them too long to process what was happening to respond with any kind of efficiency. So John dove into the space between two guards and went down hard on the floor before he came back up with a knife already slashing at unprotected bellies and throats.
And once their attention turned to John, Ronon fired a few more rounds to pull their focus back onto him. It was an easy, if labour intensive process. John cut and stabbed and slashed through flesh and bone and vital organs until the guards were nothing more than a bloody mess around him.
Ronon clapped him on the shoulder as he passed up, already pulling out more C4 for the next door that would be waiting for them.
A lot of things have changed between then and now. Atlantis doesn’t have the resources you seem to think. And we aren’t bound by the same codes and rules any more.
Don’t be ridiculous. A people’s behaviours do not change overnight. Your people will ransom for you, just as they have done in the past.
The lights in the room flickered shortly after silence fell.
Glancing up, Lorne tilted his head to one side. “That would be McKay. Blew up five sixths of a solar system once. He’s Sheppard’s enabler; he helps to make sure that Sheppard always gets what he wants... Not that he needs much help.”
Considering the man across from him, Lorne asked, “You ever seen a man killed?”
Fighting back a smirk when his captor turned a little green around the edges, Lorne went on. “I should probably prepare you for what’s waiting for you out there then. Not a very pretty sight let me tell you. So sometimes the forewarning can help.
“Sheppard is very good at what he does. He’s a trained killer, a trained hunter, and since he arrived in Pegasus a ruthless son of a bitch. He’s possessive and very protective of his people. Doesn’t take to kindly to other people threatening them or abducting them,” Lorne pointed out. “Back where we come from, he’d have just come in, gotten me out, and that would have been the end of it.
“But since he’s been in Pegasus, since he’s connected with Atlantis – your precious City of the Ancestors – he’s learned that you don’t leave an enemy alive behind you. They’ll always sense the act of compassion or mercy as a weakness and strike again. So, Sheppard doesn’t leave survivors in cases like these. He’ll cut down every man you have out there, leave them where they fall so their blood will spill out on the floor.” Lorne watched as the other man began to sweat, his desperate strikes at the command terminal becoming more aggressive and anxious. “And he won’t bother to walk around the mess - just walk right through it - leaving bloody foot prints created by a ghost that will lead you nowhere but into a trap.
“And once you’ve been caught, once Sheppard gets his hands on you, there won’t be any saving you. If he’s in a good mood, he’ll probably just put a bullet between your eyes. But if he’s not...” Lorne shrugged off the end of the sentence, leaving the possibilities to the other man’s imagination. If Sheppard were in a stink about having to rescue him, he’d probably just put a bullet between the poor bastard’s eyes regardless.
“He’ll have breached your secondary levels of defence by now,” Lorne tacked on with a cheerful lit.
“Where are you, Colonel?” Rodney demanded over the radio.
Reaching up to open the mic on his own radio John replied in a much softer tone. “We’re about to breach the third level.”
“Don’t bother,” Rodney told him. “Lorne’s been moved to the fourth level. As far as I can tell he’s being held in some kind of panic room. Separate ventilation and power system. The only way you’re getting in that room in through the front door.”
“Nice to know,” John muttered, restructuring the layout in his mind. If wherever they’d taken Lorne was some kind of panic room, then there was a good chance that there was someone else in there with him.
Someone like the controller.
“Can you tell me if there is anyone else in the room with Lorne?” John asked as they gestured for Ronon to head up to the next level.
John kept careful watch of the stairs leading down, guarding their six, while he waited for Rodney’s reply.
“There’s two signatures in the room,” Rodney answered. “But there are at least two dozen more guards between where you are and where you want to go.”
Nodding to himself, John did a mental stock of his supplies. He had two spare clips for the P90, his handgun had an extra clip as well, and he had the utility knife he’d been using to cut down the guards. Ronon had the last of the C4 they’d brought with them, two more spare clips for John’s guns, and a couple flash/bangs.
“Hey, Rodney, can you gain access to the whatever network that’s connecting all the guards?” John asked as they rounded the landing that marked the halfway point between levels.
“Possibly,” Rodney hedged. “The actual controls are going through a different terminal system. I might be able to hack my way into the actual program, but I don’t know if I can just turn them off. This isn’t normal computer code we’re talking about. It’s all about brainwaves...”
“Don’t worry about turning them off,” John replied. “I have an idea...”
Things change. People change.
Not the Atlanteans with their high morals and disregard of the consequences – except when it impacts one of their own. Your people will go to any lengths to have you returned them. You should not doubt your worth.
The fighting had closed in over the last ten minutes. Lorne could hear the sound of a P90 echoing in the corridors surrounding the office he’d been brought to. But try as he might, Lorne couldn’t pick out the sounds of more than one gun, not even Ronon’s.
“Times almost up,” Lorne announced.
“He will not breach this room,” his captor said with more certainty than Lorne could actually see in his eyes. “Every security measure has been taken to protect this room and myself.”
Lorne laughed at that. “Like setting up a secondary power system just for this room? You think he doesn’t already know that? Sheppard isn’t stupid.”
“He will not get into this room!”
Lorne shrugged and glanced away as if uninterested in what the other man had to say. “Suite yourself, but if I were you, I’d start making peace with my maker right about now. He sounds kind of pissed off out there.”
Lorne leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, willing his body to relax as though he didn’t have a care in the world. He kept his ears open however, listening for the sounds of fighting to approach, listening to see if he could pick up on a pattern, anything that would let him know what the plan was. Any sound or movements that would clue him in on what role he was supposed to be taking in his own rescue.
But there were none of these messages. Oh, the fighting got closer, Lorne could hear that much; he heard bodies hitting the floor under the echo of machine gun fire, heard and felt the distinctive bang and rattle of a flash/bang going off in the hallway outside the office.
And then there was the very distinctive sound of a drawer opening, and a round being chambered in a handgun. Cracking open one eye just enough to see by, Lorne watched as his captor considered the Earth made weapon. When he lifted the gun to point at Lorne, Lorne held his breath.
“Rise and come stand before me facing the door,” the other man commanded. There was a sick, animalistic gleam in his eyes. He hadn’t given up on bartering for safety from the Wraith. He’d just changed the way the bartering was going to take place.
“And if I refuse?” Lorne asked, more to buy time than out of curiosity.
“Then I will kill you now instead of giving your commander the chance to negotiate for your safe return,” was his response. “Then all his work to rescue you will be for nothing – a waste of his time, effort, and supplies.”
Lorne stood up to do as he’d been told. Sometimes, there was nothing else to be done.
“John,” Teyla’s voice crackled over the radio. “Rodney believes he’s completed his work, but we have encountered a problem.”
“It’s more than just a problem,” Rodney cracked over the radio. “Listen, the guards weren’t the only ones connected to the network. The Puppet Master has himself linked in too. Injecting the computer code into the network is going to seriously screw up this stupid plan of yours.”
“What do you mean?” John demanded as he ducked back behind the cover of the wall. “It looks like it’s working just fine. It’s slowing them down.”
Ronon peeked around his own corner and fired off a handful of shots of his own before taking cover again. “Yeah, they’re only getting a few rounds off at a time. And they seem to be hitting each other more than they are firing at us.”
“That’s all well and good,” Rodney snarked. “But they only have a connection to the network. The Controller is the network! I just gave a human emotionless logical rationalizing. He’s not going to react to fear or intimidation.”
John cursed under his breath and looked over at Ronon. The entire plan had hinged on being able to frighten and intimidate Lorne’s captor into thinking they could control his minion guards by jamming them so full of useless coding that they just froze where they were.
This was seriously screwing with his plans. First Lorne gets kidnapped, then they find out he’d been taken to some secret base that practically shone in space with all the energy readings. And now his plan to trick the bastard into just giving up Lorne to a stronger power was quickly circling the drain.
“Ronon, pass me one of the flash/bangs. We’re going to deal with the rest of these guards and then blow a hole through that door.”
Oh, I’m not doubting my worth. I’m seriously doubting your ability to understand the phrase “go to any lengths.”
When the door blew open, Lorne’s captor shouted out his few demands before someone could shoot him.
“I have Major Lorne at gun point. I will release him on the condition that you provide to me all that is needful to be safe from the Wraith.”
There was a short pause afterwards where Lorne squinted into the settling dust, looking for Sheppard’s outline. But all he could make out were the bodies of dead guards scattered across the floor. And a trail of bloody foot prints on the ground circling through the bodies.
“All you want is protection from the Wraith?” Sheppard called out. Lorne was able to pin his location a few feet to the right of the open door. Probably leaning against the wall for shelter.
“That was all I ever wanted, Colonel Sheppard. Your slaughter of my guards was unnecessary. I know that you are in possession of what I need. It is a simple matter of trade,” the man holding a gun to his head reasoned. It kind of disturbed Lorne how rational he was being.
Lorne caught a movement of shadow on shadow. A rather tall shadow, much further down the hallway. Ronon. At least Sheppard hadn’t come alone to the office to rescue Lorne. But at that same moment, Sheppard stepped forward gun raised, blocking Ronon’s light of sight, and pointed to a spot just above Lorne’s right shoulder.
Sheppard asked, “If I give you what you need to be completely safe from the Wraith, you’ll let Major Lorne go?” Lorne blinked at the word choice.
“Of course, Colonel,” the other man replied. “I am a man of my word. I will release your Major Lorne just as I have promised to do.”
Lorne watched as Sheppard considered the proposal; watched as Sheppard made up his mind, and then stared in shock as the Colonel nodded his acceptance. “We have a bargain. Though, I need Major Lorne to step out of the way so I can give you what you’re asking for,” Sheppard said, reaching into his left pocket as though searching for something.
“Done,” Lorne heard and then was shoved off to one side just as a gun went off.
Stumbling back to his feet, Lorne shook his head, trying to clear the ringing from his ears. Looking over to where he’d been standing Lorne could just pick out the small trickle of blood from between his unnamed captor’s eyes.
“I warned him he’d get shot between the eyes over this,” Lorne commented in what he was sure was a too loud voice.
“Yeah, well, you owe me a chocolate bar for this one.” Sheppard’s words came out muffled, but loud enough for Lorne to have heard him.
“And how do you figure that, sir?” Lorne asked as Sheppard came forward and began unlocking the shackles and chains binding him.
“You were the one who got kidnapped first.”