The hallway was plain as hallways go. It wasn’t exactly as plain Jane as the ones from upstairs though. No doors, no windows, concrete materials, yes, but there are also blocks of bright white lights on the ceiling, looked to be fluorescent or the Pegasus Galaxy alien equivalent thereof. The same lineup of pipes run down the walls by the ceiling like crown molding, just like upstairs. But this time there are two colors of paint cutting the walls in half at an odd ascending angle until part of the hallway was all one color and then the odd angle would come back into view, only this time it would be descending, and the original color would return. Bright, God-awful red-orange then putrid, mustard yellow. Yeah, the sixties had been the interior decorator.
Kenmore nonchalantly walks down the hallway singing to herself. No one was here, she hadn’t seen anyone yet. What else was there to do? Except sing and admire the architecture, half-assed acid trip as it was.
She carefully approaches each junction of two intersecting hallways which seems to be all red-orange ceiling and mustard yellow floor, checks either way, and then chooses the one she wants. In a new hallway that looks exactly like the one she’d just left, she suddenly stops as she hears sounds funneled down to her from the other end of the hallway: grunts, shuffling, and all the other familiar sounds of a guard party waiting in a hallway to pick off whoever manages to come their way. Kenmore smiles and starts walking again, singing the same song more quietly…
“Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way.”
As she draws near, she brings up the barrel of her P-90.
In mid-verse, she jumps out from around the corner into the next hallway and mows down the three drone Wraith standing there not expecting her.
“…Zip-a-dee-ay,” she finishes after the bodies hit the ground.
She takes a moment to see if anybody is going to pop up. She didn’t know necessarily about the Wraith, but the Goa’uld had a nasty habit of crawling out of their dead hosts seeking a new one. No one pops up and nothing crawls out. Kenmore takes that as the all clear and walks forward, whistling the same song in the new silence, Mister Bluebird’s on my shoulder…, and begins to scavenge extra resources from the crumpled bodies on the floor. Kenmore looks at the massive Wraith stunner lying beside the body she was currently examining. It’s long, pointy at one end and fat and cylindrical at the other with glowing yellow lights along the cylindrical shaft. It looks like a giant alien syringe. Yep, no way she was going to be able to carry one of those things around with her easily. She returns her attention to the body.
The body armor was a nice touch but it wasn’t going to help her either and she fought the urge to see what was under the crusty skull mask, but the belt with all its sections of—pod’s?—might help.
Keeping one hand on her P-90 at all times, she fingers around the perimeter of one of the pods and, just like she figured, it pops open. Three metal cylinders, perhaps an inch, inch and a half, in diameter and three squat inches in length that reminded her of Doctor Keller’s little glass vials. Rather zaftig versions but still…they were strapped to the flat part of the belt by little shiny metal hooks that looked like they were designed to spread open as the vials were pressed against them then clamp shut around the little things to secure them. Kenmore pops one out of its hook, held it up to her ear, and shook it. There was liquid inside. Kenmore looked at the little vial in her hand. She couldn’t see what color the stuff inside was. Probably something to aid, what did the files refer to it as, their regeneration process. Kenmore looked down at the body, still unmoving, still dead. What good was injectable medicine when you snuffed it before you could get to it? Of course, Kenmore had to admit it was SGC requirements to carry aspirin and all sorts of medicinal aids in the pockets of their tacvests as well as spare cartridges of ammo. And how many times did her fallen comrades get a chance to get any of those before they snuffed it in the field?
Kenmore looks at the vial in her hand again. Perhaps they were spare power cells for those big ass weapons. She glances again at the big round weapons with what looked like harpoons sticking out of one end. Nope. She doubted anything so small no matter how many of them you had was going to be able to generate enough power to keep that thing going for any useful period of time. Kenmore shakes her head at it. She simply had no idea what these things were. She puts the vial back with its friends and pops open another belt pod. Three more vials. She pops open the next pod. Three more. And the next one. Still three. Kenmore opened as many pods as she could without having to flip the body over and take the belt off.
And speaking of belts, on his left there was a holster strapped to the belt and his leg with some sort of pistol in it. Carefully Kenmore eases the weapon out of the holster. She weighs it in the palm of her hand. It’s light. The barrel measures eight inches and from what would be the hammer on a revolver at home to the end of the angled handle would be about…seven inches, seven and a quarter maybe. It looks like it’s grown more than built too. Like the barrel’s more or less bloomed to form the rest of the hand weapon and the handle of it continued to grow into a twist of gnarled old tree branches that fused neatly and comfortably together at the end, but the more Kenmore looks at it the more it looks less like tree branches and more and more like twisted—bone? And where there’s a gap in the leaves of the ‘bloom’—although ‘plates’ was more like it now, come to think of it—the insides of the weapon shows. It’s faintly glowing yellow. Her eyes slid from the weapon’s interior to the Wraith’s belt of opened pods. Little metal vials. Her eyes slide back to the weapon’s energy core. What would you want to bet those little metal vials contained the juice to power the energy cells of this little weapon?
Kenmore hefts the pistol in her hand a couple of times then slips it back into its holster. Silently and one-handedly, she keeps watch around herself and on the other bodies as she unties and pulls the holster off the Wraith’s corpse. She flings the holster, pistol and all, over her shoulder. She pockets all over her tacvest as many of the little vials as she can get from each of the three bodies, again without having to turn them over, then stands up.
She looks herself over. Well the P-90 is hooked to the front of her vest and its strap is flung around her so that’s not going anywhere. And her zat gun is strapped to her right thigh and there’s sure as hell no way she’s moving that around, she was too comfortable with where it was. Her Berretta she kept snuggled quite safely and soundly against the small of her back and hidden underneath her vest. Again, she sure as hell wasn’t going to move that from its spot. Again she was too comfortable with where it was. Well that left only one place. Kenmore looks back behind her. Her eyes dart from left to right. No one was coming. She looks back down at the bodies. No one was moving, not even a residual nervous system twitch. Finally, Kenmore looks up ahead of her. Well no one else was coming…yet. She picks her way over to the wall and braces her back against it, never letting her eyes stray from watching up ahead of her. For the first time since she’s entered the warehouse, she lets go of her P-90 but maintains vigilance as she removes the holster draped over her shoulder, hooks it to the left side of her belt and leans over a little bit further and straps it to her thigh. When she’s sure everything is settled nicely, hooked on correctly, nothing bugging the crap out of her, she takes her P-90 back in her hands and takes one last survey of the bodies then continues to the end of the hallway.
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah…she peers into the next hallway junction, she looks it over up and down, both ways are clear, she chooses which way she wants to go, and continues walking on whistling to herself…zip-a-dee-ay.
Pinned down and frustrated by not being able to call for any backup whatsoever, all Sheppard’s team can do is watch and return fire. Ronon pops up from behind his stack of containers and lets off a couple of shots. They’re close but they just shred the parts of wooden crate surrounding where the Wraith fire is coming from. As he’s up, he sees another group of drones break away from the main group barricaded on the other side of the vast room and run down the other entryway. Ronon bends back down as the barricade returns fire.
“Three more just went down the other entrance.”
“So how many does that leave,” Sheppard asks.
Teyla pops off a few shots from her position and stays up for the return fire. She counts how many flashes from weapons she sees from the barricade of crates and containers then ducks back down to safety again.
“There are four left,” she reports.
Okay, Sheppard fought the urge to nod, I like those odds.
“Good. That leaves one for each of us,” Sheppard says.
McKay suddenly screams as he simply puts his hand up without looking and fires a few wild shots from his pistol in the general direction of the Wraith. The others stare at him.
And I was thinking?
“Okay. That leaves four for the three of us,” Sheppard corrects.
Teyla nods at him.
“Okay, here’s the plan. Ronon, you pop up and draw their fire. Teyla and I will come out and pick off the rest.”
“And if we do not ‘pick off the rest’,” Teyla asks.
“Then I’ll pop up and you and Ronon will pick off what’s left.”
“Will the Wraith fall for the same thing twice?”
“We don’t have much choice,” Sheppard tells her.
Her brows furrow. She doesn’t look happy with that and he couldn’t blame her, but it really is like it wasn’t like they had much of a choice.
McKay lets off another screaming volley. Sheppard frowns at him then takes a deep inhale as he braces himself to pull this off. Ronon and Teyla watch him. He begins…
“One, two, three.”
Ronon pops up and fires the most shots anyone has this entire firefight and it obviously draws the Wraiths’ attention. He manages to pick off one and to make sure to keep their attention, he stays up. The Wraith fire starts going off at him like highly accurately aimed fireworks. Shattering pieces of wooden crate near his face. Sheppard and Teyla peer around from their stacks and open fire at the barrel flashes. Sheppard takes out one, Teyla takes out another, and McKay lets off another volley, that wasn’t part of the plan, but it draws the last Wraith’s fire and Ronon picks that one off easily. They all freeze, waiting and watching for the dust and shrapnel and smoke to clear. They don’t hear any movement, which wasn’t saying anything special. Slowly, they give up their covered positions and approach the barricade in a coupled formation. Ronon with Rodney, Sheppard with Teyla. Still nothing, which again wasn’t saying anything special. How many times had they approached anything even remotely Wraith and seemingly down for the count only for it to pop back up and come at them again…and again…and again? The defiant ones usually took a drone directly to the chest to finally go down and stay down, in pieces. And John still couldn’t quite forget the first time they came under attack by the Wraith on Athos and Sergeant Bates managed to down one of their culling darts and half of the pilot’s arm dragged itself out of the wreckage and started towards John. He Swiss-cheesed it on the ground but still…it had been like Thing’s green psychotic cousin.
They move up right beside the barricade. Still nothing. Ronon looks over at Sheppard from the other side of the barricade. John nods at him. They go around the barricade. And see the Wraith bodies. Nobody pops up; yep, they were dead.
“Did any of them manage to get off a distress call,” Sheppard asks.
He can’t see all of the bodies, but from where McKay and Ronon stand, they could. McKay steps forward and checks the gauntleted wrist of the nearest body just to make sure, but it was nothing more than light catching off of the blue gem embedded in the gauntlet, then he looks up at Sheppard and shakes his head.
“No,” Rodney stands up.
“The others might have,” Ronon adds.
“So which ones do we go after? The ones after our new dear Lieutenant Kenmore or the ones that went that way,” Rodney asks.
Sheppard tries his shoulder radio again.
“Kenmore come in.”
“Damn it, they’re still jamming us.”
Teyla looks around, “Should we split up?”
Sheppard considers it for a moment. Taking into account the fact that four bodies were here after six had run off, that meant that there had been ten Wraith lying in wait for them. If they ran into another batch like that, with no cover around…he shakes his head. Four would barely survive and two would be fodder.
“No. We’ll go after the three that went the other way.”
Teyla stares at him. He knows what she’s thinking.
“And what about Lieutenant Kenmore,” she asks.
“If she’s smart, she’ll find cover.”
Teyla glares at Ronon for his comment.
“And if there is no cover,” she presses.
Sheppard sees the showdown brewing between his teammates and makes his final pronouncement.
“Look, it’s three drones against the four of us. We’ll make short work of them and then go help her out.”
Teyla doesn’t look exactly enthusiastic about the plan. He knew that look, remembered its quietness. It was the same way she had not looked particularly enthusiastic but kept silent on board the jumper when they had been trapped on her father’s friend’s Orin’s planet during a massive Wraith culling the likes of which neither of them had seen before and that was saying a lot for Teyla considering she was born and grew up in the Pegasus Galaxy.
John sat in the jumper’s pilot seat staring at the ensuing carnage occurring just yards in front of him with a pair of binoculars to his eyes, because of course seeing the destruction of a village just wasn’t horrific enough from a distant front row seat, John had to see it as though he were on the one yard line, which was so much better.
“Come on, Orin. Show up.” It wasn’t like his words were going to do the trick but it made John feel better just to say them out loud.
John never did well under anxious situations like this. Sit back and do nothing because you couldn’t…but you wanted to, you really, really wanted to. And sometimes you really relied on hoping to replace action. John settled for irate pissiness and a sigh and put—slammed—the binoculars back down on the DHD console in front of and a little off to his right. It was enough off to the right that he had no problem catching Teyla staring at him from the corner of his eye and the Athosian woman did not look happy. In fact, she looked absolutely disgusted by him. He met her look, and her expression, head on and she looked away from him, back to the horrors outside the jumper’s window.
Although she was clearly refusing to look him in the eye, she had no hesitation in answering him.
“Not long ago, you would have blithely left him behind.”
“Well, the situation has changed,” John told her and went back to his observations.
He noticed her look at him from the corner of his eye again. Her expression was different, the sentiment behind it was different. He had only known her for about a year now, but was that disappointment…and perhaps confusion? Her brows were furrowed but John got the feeling it was more from distress than misunderstanding. She looks away from him again and back to the village. She takes a breath and continues…
“Earlier today, Lieutenant Ford suggested we steal from a community of children.”
“It’s because they have a ZPM, and we can bring them back,” John pleads his case, he looks at her, and before he can even finish his words, she finally meets his eyes…
“Only to face death in Atlantis.”
Well that was quick. John lets a heartbeat fall to cool his anger slightly but his first word to her still had a sharp edge to it…
“Look. Ford and I are military. We’ve spent a lot of our lives learning how to survive.”
And once again, before the words can even leave his lips, she came back at him…
“I have spent my life surviving the Wraith.”
“Part,” John went on, “of that training is knowing who you can save and who you can’t.”
She tilted her head sweetly and for a moment John thought they were okay, but her words had bite with a squint of her eyes…
“And that decision is yours alone?”
John may not have known her long, but he knew sarcasm when he heard it coming from anyone and, frankly, he had had enough of it.
“I said that I’d wait for your friend if there was time. Now there’s time,” John felt his boiling point; he thought Teyla was the last person he’d have to have this conversation with, perhaps Elizabeth, but not Teyla. “What else do you want from me?”
Again there was another moment of silence, Teyla took a breath like she was bracing herself for something she never wanted to admit ever and more than likely never wanted to admit again: disappointment. She looked away from John again…
“Too much I fear,” she finally said in that quiet Athosian Mother-Earth voice of hers as she continued to watch the carnage outside.
Well that stung like hell. John kept staring at her. The last person in the world he wanted against him was Teyla. She was the first woman he had trusted, gotten used to being close to in a long time. Not since his now ex-wife, Nancy. And in his typical fashion when he and Nancy had a fight, John let his own disgusted retort slip with a shake of his head…
“It’s gonna be a long night.”
John picked the binoculars back up again as Wraith darts screeched overhead, put them back to his eyes as a means of telling Teyla he was done with this conversation, and began to watch the carnage from a front row seat again because what he was seeing outside, he could handle a lot better than the carnage that was going on in here.
In the end, they did save Orin’s family plus about twenty others and John had been glad of it because the culling had truly been massive and disastrous. Orin, his family, and those twenty others had been the only ones to survive; the entire village had been wiped out. Teyla had told him then that it would mean something, be something, if he could save them and she was right. Later that day she had nodded at him, trusting him once more.
And she trusts him now and nods her agreement. The group goes down the other entryway. Forming up in their regular formation, Ronon and Sheppard leading the way followed by Rodney then Teyla bringing up the rear. Finally, it felt like old hat again. John wasn’t entirely sure that was a good thing or a bad thing but he was definitely sure it was a comfortable thing.