The blasts of weapons fire that is definitely not SGC-grade munitions are coming from ahead of her. It had been awhile since she had heard anybody else and the hallways had long since started to look exactly the same as the ones they entered the warehouse in except for the lighting. These hallways still had bright white lights strapped to the ceiling, although this particular section had none at all, rather than red lighting the color of freshly spilt blood. Kenmore stops then silently and slowly steps into the glow of natural light that is cast across the walls and spreading floor at the end of this hallway. Just like the one upstairs, the hallway opens up onto yet another series of metal gangways floating above the perimeter of another vast room holding yet more stacks of crates and containers just like Kenmore had suspected it would. It’s almost exactly like the room she ditched Colonel Sheppard and his team in. You’d think you were going in circles in a place as reflective as this, Kenmore peers down at the scene below, well, perhaps not entirely reflective.
There are five of what she understands to be Wraith drones—was it the drones that had the craggy skull things over their faces or was that the Queens; no, the Queens were the most individual looking, right; with red hair or human looking skin or anything else that could possibly set them apart as female—that have taken up scattered positions behind stacks of wooden crates in the middle of the room near the right wall and they’re firing on a single cloaked and hooded figure hiding behind a single low stack of two metal containers again in the middle of the room just near the middle of the left wall. The figure is a good aim. He dodges and fires and each fire is methodically blowing tiny bits out of the Wraith’s stacks. Frankly, it’d be exactly what Kenmore would do if she didn’t have the advantage of being the taller opponent or the one with the most back up but had been granted the mercifully leveling advantage of being the one behind the metal. The figure blows a hole in one stack then moves on to fire on the next. Kenmore nods. That’s exactly right, be a systematic pain in their backsides. The process is slow and time consuming but effective. Make them think that you think they’re too much for you. Make them think they’ve got the upper hand. Make them think your firing is frantic. Uncoordinated. Overwhelmed.
Finally when the hooded figure fires on the first stack, his shot blows right through the container and takes out the Wraith hiding behind it. He moves his aim to the next stack and takes out that Wraith. Perfect. Simply perfect. The figure couldn’t have gotten much more textbook strategic firepower than if he’d wrote the textbook himself. Kenmore nods her head approvingly again. Impressive. Most impressive. But are you a Jedi…yet? In a few seconds, there’s only one Wraith drone—Kenmore finally felt comfortable calling him that—left and he’s caught on to the hooded figure’s game and has lowered himself deeper behind his stack.
Oooh, this could be a tricky one. The figure hadn’t blown any holes in the lower part of the stacks. Kenmore watches carefully. The figure checks the entryway just mere yards away from him, then looks back at the final Wraith’s stack, then back at the entryway, and judges it to be a worthy chance. Kenmore’s not so sure she would have made that exact same decision. The drone was far taller and longer legs could close mere yards in equally mere seconds. She would have let the drone come after her. From the sounds of his hissing, he was foaming at the mouth to do it. Desire was an advantage. Bloodlust was an advantage. Survival was an advantage. After all, which usually won out, gut instinct or the calculating mind?
The figure runs for the entryway firing at the stack the entire way. Apparently the battlefield was truly level, survival was just as big a desire as bloodlust. Well at least he?—Kenmore shrugged—wasn’t just going to make a plain, old fashioned run for it. The drone comes out from behind his stack and starts to pursue the figure, dodging the figure’s stray shots. Just like Kenmore thought, the drone had been itching to physically get his hands on the figure rather than just be content enough to blow a hole through the fleeing form. But not all of the shots are stray, several hit the drone as he quickly closes on the figure. Dear God, the caped crusader might actually make it. Kenmore grabs on to the gangway railing in front of her and leans over it to see the rest of the scene play out.
The drone is feet away from the figure when the figure’s last few shots finish him off and the drone stumbles to his knees…Oh God…and reaches out towards the figure…Oh God…The drone manages to catch the bottom of the figure’s robe…Oh crap…and pulls it to the ground with him. Kenmore suddenly yanks herself back and dips down to the floor to try to get a better look beneath the railings’ bars at whoever the figure is, but the figure is too far into the entryway for her to get a proper look at him. She can see the back of him from the shoulder blades down though. Just clothes, no skin, no defining markers. Not exactly eye-opening. In a fraction of a second, he’s completely out of sight. Kenmore jumps at the chance before her and runs across the gangway lining above the left wall and disappears into the entryway’s upper-deck twin.
Sheppard and his team stalk slowly down a whole new design of hallway. This one is still solid, windowless concrete, but it’s lined on either side with doors every few feet. But the doors still aren’t necessarily spectacular or interesting, they look like some precinct door out of an old police television show. John wasn’t particularly inspired. So far he was doubting Michael had ever set up any sort of shop here. They would keep looking, but more and more John was taking into consideration a personal decision: what were they going to do when they discovered that there was no lab? Woolsey hadn’t said anything about that. Woolsey’s stipulation was clear and precise: these warehouses were one of Michael’s labs; his distinctions were simple: either they’re in use or they aren’t, and either way, blow them up. But…Were they just supposed to leave the warehouses here and let the Wraith have them? John wasn’t sure he liked that idea but he liked the idea of wasting ammunition even less. They move down the hallway checking every open doorway they came upon. It was best to skip the closed ones for now, seeing as how nothing was currently jumping out at them from behind one or just blasting through the door at them either. In a sick way, John was hoping they would find something, anything, soon. He could see how Woolsey thought that there had to be a lab here. Everything pointed to it. And the Wraith are here. They had to be protecting something, but the longer he and his team poked around, the more it was looking like the Wraith weren’t doing anything here except scavenging what the planet’s own inhabitants had left behind. They hadn’t seen them do that before, but…a duck’s a duck.
After the second cleared room and just when Sheppard was starting to loosen up, they heard the sounds of the three drones they were after up ahead of them. The bored grunting and irritated hissing was unmistakable. Sheppard signals for them to stop and form up into a diamond again, this time Teyla and McKay calling sides and Ronon taking the back point, then they move forward again. Suddenly they hear scuffling sounds echoing up from behind them. They stop and look behind. Somebody was coming up on them fast and whatever it was didn’t care who heard it coming. Why didn’t he think of that? How long has he been doing this and John hadn’t thought of that? His team takes one glance at each other then breaks apart, taking up parallel positions against the walls. Sheppard slams his himself against the wall with well more than enough force just to punish himself for the lapse in judgment. He chokes down his grunt and keeps silent just like the rest of his team, like they always did when the crap hit the fan and there was no way to avoid the wind coming from both sides. Just like they expected, the sounds of the drones suddenly stop as the new scuffling sounds finally reach their ears and the drones, wasting no time whatsoever, of course, come around the corner and open fire on the team and the hallway.
Teyla and Ronon, in the front positions, return fire as Sheppard and McKay, in the rear positions, stare behind and wait. Sheppard wiggles the butt of his P-90 into his shoulder a bit more, getting it comfortably set in for the long haul as Rodney’s outstretched pistol wiggles in mid-air for an entirely different reason. It had been a long time since they’d had to do anything like this. But in their own ways, they were, as usual, ready.
The scuffling was getting louder to the point that Sheppard could comfortably call it thunderous bounding, considering it was starting to drown out the sound of gunfire directly behind him. This was going to be bad, this was going to be really bad…Suddenly Lorne and his team break into Sheppard and McKay’s view running towards them. John and Rodney shoot each other looks. Thank God, that was the break they needed, the one John had been looking for. Sheppard and McKay turn on their heels, Lorne’s team catches up, and everyone’s aim turns towards the drones.
“‘Bout time you guys showed up,” Sheppard yells over the weapons fire.
Lorne, out of breath, answers, “Sorry, Sir, there was nothing in the other warehouse. When we tried to radio you, we discovered the jam and when we got into that other room…this way had the most footprints in the dust. We figured we better come help you. Where’s Ursula?”
“She went the other way.”
And John regrets answering him honestly, the worry in Lorne’s voice is apparent, “Alone?”
Damn. Well, if you’re going to be honest, might as well go all the way.
“Yeah, she had a problem with my orders.”
“Following them. You ready for this,” Sheppard needed the subject change and thankfully Lorne goes along with him.
Lorne nods and both teams suddenly unload mass simultaneous fire at strategic areas in the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and into the open air the drones would have to be forced out of cover into. It only takes a few seconds and the drones are easily mowed down. The teams let the dust and smoke from the cooling gun barrels and blasted out chunks of wall fade away just to give the drones time to either regenerate and come back up swinging or stay dead. They stay dead and the two teams come out of their positions and walk forward to survey the damage they’ve done. Despite the not exactly easy way they had to take care of the Wraith, Ronon doesn’t buy how easy he believes it was.
“They were ahead. Why’d they stop,” he asks.
McKay points at the muddle of footprints in the disturbed dust in front of a regular plain, old door with a regular plain, old round doorknob, “They were guarding that room.”
Sheppard nods at Rodney. Rodney puts his back to the safety of the solid concrete wall beside the door and puts his hand on the knob. Lorne’s team ducks down and slips past the wooden part of the door and form up on the other side as Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla form up just in front of their fellow teammate. As soon as both teams are set, Rodney turns the knob and tosses the door back open. The teams burst into the room. It’s empty except for what Sheppard’s and Lorne’s teams were there for in the first place: a lab room with a computer that looks like it was grown rather than built.
“Well, there’s your computer McKay,” Sheppard gives the scientist the go ahead.
Rodney runs forward, pulls his computer tablet out from the pack behind his back, plugs it in, and starts turning the lab computer on. The others spread out in the room. Teyla looks around her with particular horror. It is familiar to her and yet not entirely. She can’t put her finger on why. It’s more than familiar to Sheppard and Ronon though. It looks almost identical to the birthing room Michael had set up for Teyla in that booby-trapped building they had found themselves buried underneath almost a year ago now. An incubator sitting against the wall by the door. It looked like it had been metal and glass once, standard-issue human stuff, but there’s an organic web stretched over it now like the cobwebs stretched over the crates in the previous room. An operating slab residing nicely in the middle of the cramped room, again it looked like it had been beautiful once. Delicate metal wrapped around and embroidering thick frosted glass. Beautiful…but now it too was covered in organic web material with chunks of what would look like organs if they didn’t have small diodes, computer panels, and screens embedded in them. And everything had inch-thick, ribbed cords coming out of them and running along the floor and up into the computer Rodney was currently plugged into. Beyond his control, John actually shudders. Bad memories.
“Well, this is one of Michael’s labs,” McKay announces from his spot.
A ghostly specter of Teyla strapped down at the ankles and wrists to the top of the slab seems to coalesce right before John’s eyes and he can hear the ethereal wailing of a crying baby coming from next to him. He fought hard to not look at the incubator. He didn’t want to see what horrors his mind was going to trick him into seeing over there. It was bad enough he was seeing what might have happened to Teyla had they not rescued her in time…barely…by sheer dumb luck. Sheppard closes his eyes, shakes his head slightly, and blinks the image and the crying away back into reality. Really bad memories.
“Well we figured that,” Sheppard snaps, “The room looks like a backup birthing room for Teyla when she was pregnant,” he catches Teyla’s eye as she suddenly turns to look at him, “Tell us something we don’t know. Can you download anything from that thing?” Their eyes just lock and nothing is said, but they’re sharing the same thought. They saved her from this. Enough said. And frankly Sheppard doesn’t know what more he could say on the matter and Teyla doesn’t know how to express her gratitude any further, she gave her son Torren the middle name of John in Sheppard’s honor.
Rodney nods as he continues to work, “Of course I can. I’m just bringing up—“
At McKay’s sudden stop, Sheppard’s look shoots to him, and at McKay’s look of shock and horror at the computer display in his hands, Sheppard starts at him.
“What? What is it?”
McKay looks back at him, his shock and horror not leaving him for a second.
“It’s Michael,” they all stare at him, “He’s alive and he’s here.”