Jumper One glides slowly towards the entrance of the largest of a set of two windowed, white stone warehouses, but stops a few feet away from the gapping, dark, empty maw that was their opened front doors and settles silently and smoothly down onto the concrete. It doesn’t look out of the ordinary, like any other warehouse any Earth-born—well, human—person could find on a pier somewhere, but like McKay had said earlier in the mess hall looks can be deceiving. Keeping the cloak activated, Sheppard shuts the jumper down while Lorne lands his jumper a few feet beside theirs, also maintaining his cloak. Although no one can see it, their jumpers’ ramps lower, but what anybody can see is Sheppard, Ronon, and McKay disembarking at the same time Lorne and his team did. Just a bunch of armed guys literally appearing out of nowhere.
Teyla does one last double check on her tacvest as she walks through the rear cabin, past Kenmore, and slowly descends the ramp. She stops to stand at the bottom making extra sure that everything was secure. It would not be wise in a place like this to bear loose armaments. Kenmore checks her own vest as she quietly walks back into the front compartment. Done, Teyla looks back into the jumper for the Lieutenant and sees the woman do something at the jumper’s DHD. Then the Lieutenant turns around and, without looking up, walks back through the rear compartment towards Teyla as Kenmore finishes adjusting one of the pockets on her tacvest. As soon as the bottom of one of her boots sounds a metal clank on the jumper’s ramp, the Lieutenant finally looks up at the Athosian leader.
“Ready,” the Lieutenant asks.
Teyla nods silently. Kenmore continues down the ramp and moves on past Teyla to join the others as they group between the two cloaked jumpers. Teyla lingers behind for a moment. She takes a step on the ramp and the jumper’s interior suddenly comes back into view. She looks the interior over, eyeing the DHD, and trying to think of what it was Kenmore could have been interfering with. Ronon’s accusations of the possibility that Mister Woolsey and the Lieutenant could be working together to spy on the team suddenly pops into her mind and she side-glances at Kenmore’s back moving away from her for a moment then looks back at the DHD. There didn’t seem to be anything added like a listening device or a tracking device and Teyla had spent years in this vessel in particular its front and she could not find anything different from her memory of the tiny ship’s front interior. It did not make Teyla comfortable but, at a loss for anything out of the ordinary, she follows Kenmore. Teyla’s brows furrow at the unruffled Lieutenant. Then Teyla looks back again at where the jumper was even though she couldn’t see it then back at the Lieutenant again, now standing with the rest of the assembled troops. The Athosian leader is confused, she did not know why but there is a knot forming in her stomach. As she gets closer to the group, she hears the start of a plan…
“Okay, Lorne, you and your team’ll take the second warehouse next door. We’ll cover this one. Everyone proceed quietly. I don’t want to hear any radio chatter unless you’re pinned down and need, need the backup. And I especially don’t want to set off any alarms or alert any Wraith probes that could be in the area to our presence here. Everyone got that?”
They all nod at Sheppard.
“Okay move out.”
Lorne’s team splits off, single-file, as Sheppard’s team and Kenmore start to head deeper into the warehouse’s maw. Kenmore, bringing up the rear, watches Lorne’s team as they near the edge of the warehouse door. They slow down and nestle the butts of their guns into the joint of their shoulders before they cautiously peer around the corner into the alley between the two warehouses then, one by one, the men disappear around the corner. Kenmore returns her attention to her own group’s task at hand. She cocks her P-90 as they pass into the shadows that the light from the windows above don’t even pinprick anymore. In the darkness, the others can be heard either charging their weapons or cocking them as well. Then, in that same darkness, Sheppard opens a door upon a red-lit corridor leading off to the left. He checks their immediate way, nods to the rest, and then heads in. The others follow.
* * *
John had never been a big fan of narrow, solid concrete corridors with no windows and which were so flooded with bright, blood red light he felt like he was walking through one hell of a photographer’s dark room…or a horror flick. Bad, John, bad. Don’t go there. Every time you go there, you end up walking right into the movie. They come to the junction at the end of the hallway, Sheppard halts them with a raise of his hand then he takes out his lifesigns detector and checks it. It shows him a map of the warehouse but no lifesigns, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except that it wasn’t even showing Sheppard himself or his team. Sheppard shakes it and Rodney catches the motion.
“What? What is it,” he whispers from behind.
“It’s not showing any lifesigns. Not even us,” Sheppard whispers back. It’s shielded. Great, just what they needed when entering a warehouse that might be crawling with Wraith or experimental equipment or…things.
“It must be shielded. Great, just what we needed when entering a warehouse that might be crawling with Wraith or experimental equipment or…things,” McKay whispers in exasperation, throwing his hands up.
Sheppard looks back at him. Sometimes it’s scary how much he and McKay think alike. Then Sheppard returns to the predicament ahead of him. He checks the detector again. Well even if it can’t tell him where any body is exactly at least it still has a map of the structure which is still helpful. He decides to take the way going off to the right. The others follow with Kenmore providing the sole rear view. Although Ronon had it more than covered even if he didn’t look like it and that was just the way Sheppard liked it. He didn’t entirely trust Kenmore and he trusted her even less if the look he thought he had seen in her eyes proved to be true and the whole fortune-telling thing with the cards was a trick.
This hallway is dark. No longer saturated in bloody light, but dark…just dark. No lights at all. And as they slowly stalk forward, the hallway is beginning to open up. Sheppard slows down, usually a widening path ahead of them turned out to be a bad thing, but he wasn’t planning on stopping any time soon just because. As they keep going forward the hallway continues to spread until it finally opens onto a system of metal gangways suspended overhead of a huge, open room. The group spreads out along the basically designed railing in front of them. They pause and look down into the cavernous room below. There’s…nothing.
Well, there’s nothing terrifying here. Just stacks of crates and containers. No plastic sheet-covered rows upon rows of deceased science experiments stacked up to the ceiling or Wraith computer banks still up and monitoring stasis pods or stasis chambers full of half-experimented on people that were now more like blind things that crawled along the ground and hissed at you than people. Just plain, old boxes. And old was an accurate description. Everything looked like it hadn’t been touched in years, not too many years, but still years. On the other side of the warehouse, Kenmore can see an entrance in each corner of the room, each one probably belonging to its own hallway that leads into the rest of the warehouse.
“Looks simple enough,” Sheppard says.
“It doesn’t look like anybody’s been here in a long time. Are we sure the scout team was right? I mean a probe would have showed the Wraith this. There’s nothing here for them. There’s nothing here for us,” McKay complains.
“Looks can be deceiving,” Kenmore pipes up from beside Ronon.
Sheppard looks down the line at her. Gees, was everyone on the same wavelength today?
“We still check out everything,” Sheppard tells them, “I don’t want to leave here without something useful.” And if that wasn’t possible, then he’d follow Woolsey’s orders and blow both buildings sky-high. Both ways still meant they had to go down there.
With that, Sheppard leads them slowly towards the metal staircase to his immediate left. Nothing seems to be noticing them. No ticking, no hissing. He puts a tentative boot on the first step and cringes at the echoing sound of just how loud a clang that was in the silence, but still nothing happens. He continues down the staircase. John tries very carefully to make sure no more sound comes from him and thankfully so do the others as they each in turn step lightly onto the staircase and follow him down. Sheppard gingerly steps onto the concrete floor, still nothing happens, and he stalks forward a few steps as the others join him one by one on the main floor. Sheppard stops so the rest of them can reform up on him then he leads their diamond formation forward again.
In a way, he felt kind of stupid acting this way. It wasn’t like there was anything here. But still, they had to come down here and plant explosives if need be.
“There are two entryways on either side of the far wall. We should split up between the two,” Kenmore tells Sheppard.
“No, we stick together here.”
“We’ll cover more ground if we split up.”
The whole group pauses. The others look at her. Sheppard slowly turns his head around to look back at Kenmore. No one but the other members of Sheppard’s team had ever questioned his tactics in the field before, and even then that was rare, and, in their mutual opinions, they were the only ones allowed to do so.
“No, we stay together,” he tells her firmly.
John returns his attention back to peering down the barrel of his gun.
“No, we should split up.”
His focus breaks and he glances back at her again. They weren’t going to be going very fast if he had to keep arguing everything with her every five seconds, granted this was the first argument, but he knew where this was heading. He’d done it to his own superiors hundreds of times. He did it to Colonel Sumner in the middle of the gateroom back at the SGC when they were getting ready to dial Atlantis.
A spinning Stargate. Sirens. Chevrons clunking into place. Sumner standing just behind John, speaking in that gravelly voice of his that sounded like two bricks being gently ground together, low, sharp enough to cut steel, and entirely meant for Major John Sheppard and anybody next to them.
“Let me make myself clear Major,” a breath’s pause, the standard military commanding hard-ass’s measure to which John could only smirk, then, “You are not here by my choice.”
Then John’s half of the witty exchange, which John of course had to make as witty as possible, and add some smart-ass to the hard-ass.
He turned his head a little, seemed to speak into his shoulder, and told the Colonel, “I’m sure you’ll warm up to me once you get to know me, Sir.”
To which the gravelly reply came almost instantly…
“As long as you remember who’s giving the orders.”
Then the Colonel passed in front of John, heading towards tending other duties and certain he was the one who had gotten the last word in their banter. John smiled to himself, watching the man go. Men like Sumner never failed to unimpress John. And he wasn’t about to let the Colonel get the last word…
John could still remember what he had retorted to the Colonel’s back.
“That would be Doctor Weir, right?” With another helping of smart-ass if you please.
And it was rewarded with the Colonel turning around to face the Major with a glare as lackeys made sure the Colonel’s gear was on right that John only replied to with a lopsided grin and an eyebrow shrug of self-satisfaction. He was going to be damned if Sumner got the last word…and he didn’t.
“Look, I don’t know how they do things exactly back at the SGC but here we do things differently, and that means you do what I tell you and what I’m telling you is that we stick together.”
Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard returns his focus to his aim, as does the rest of his team except for Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore. They prepare to move forward, again except for Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore. The new Lieutenant stares at the back of her new Commanding Officer’s head. Her eyes narrow for a moment then, with a sigh, she suddenly bolts across the floor behind him. She runs in front of McKay, stuck in the middle, then Ronon.
“Get back in line Lieutenant Kenmore,” Sheppard orders.
And he wasn’t about to let the Colonel get the last word…
She isn’t stopping. And she wasn’t about to. Everyone loosens their stances to watch her. And whatever skill and training in keeping it together they had walked in here with flew out the damn windows. Oh yeah, even though nothing was here, this is exactly what they needed. Sure, great.
“I said get back in line Lieutenant.”
Kenmore slows down to a trot, that’s better, then bolts to her immediate right, that wasn’t.
Sheppard steps forward.
He was going to be damned if Sumner got the last word…
Kenmore heads, at full tilt, up the clear path towards the entryway.
…and he didn’t.
She disappears down the entryway. Sheppard sighs then looks back at his team. Teyla looked the same way Sheppard felt, they didn’t need to be chasing after some upstart newcomer who thought she knew best. McKay looked so exasperated he could scream but wasn’t even complaining for once, perhaps Kenmore irritated him so much it overrode his ability to articulate being ticked off. Well at least that was sort of a bonus. And Ronon just looked at him like ‘What could you expect’ and Sheppard shrugged at him. He had to admit his friend was right. What had he expected?
“C’mon, let’s go get her,” Sheppard broods.
He starts forward again and passes in between two stacks of metal shipping crates. He doesn’t notice that when his boot lands on the floor, two pinpricks of blue-green laser light suddenly appear on either side of it. Alarms start to go off and Sheppard looks down and sees the pinpoints of light against the black leather on either side of his combat boot. He’s just landed right in the middle of a blue-green laser line invisible in this light to his naked eye and held between the two stacks, “Aw crap.”
Suddenly a Wraith blast erupts from the part of the warehouse right in front of him and sails right over Sheppard’s bowed head. Sheppard dives for cover and returns fire as well as dodging it as do the others.
“I thought Woolsey said the Wraith were near the planet,” Rodney shouts over the fireworks.
“Well this is near,” Sheppard shouts back and returns fire.
“Clearly we should redefine that.”
Teyla delivers a volley from her position and sees three drones leave their posts behind a barricade of wooden crates and run down the same entryway Kenmore had disappeared down. She pulls back to the cover of her stack of metal containers as Wraith blasts streak past and shouts to Sheppard, “Some have gone after Lieutenant Kenmore. We should radio her.”
Sheppard glances around his own stack to see then he pulls back and nods at her. He touches his shoulder radio.
“Lieutenant Kenmore come in.”
He gets static and tries again.
“Damn it. They’re jamming us,” he yells.
McKay stares at him, panic stricken, from the corner he’s stuck in.
“So, what, we’re on our own here? We have backup next door and we’re still on our own?”
Sheppard nods grimly, Yeah this is what he had been expecting. ‘Looks simple enough,’ ‘Looks can be deceiving.’ You know some days he hated this job, and returns more fire.