Kenmore and Sheppard are sitting against their individual cells’ walls, well at least against the metal triangular columns the bars connect. At least the bars didn’t zap you when you leaned against them, Sheppard still hasn’t gotten over being pissed at Kenmore; he glares at her from where he sits, as far away from her as possible, the opposite end of the diamond. And Kenmore continues to stare at the door and its panel. Suddenly she dives towards the angled wall of her cell that stands between her and that door. Sheppard’s glare deepens; he’s not biting at that bait. Kenmore peers at the panel for a moment then feels her pant’s fly. She looks down at her fly’s buttons, plastic. Then she grabs at her belt buckle, metal. She frantically starts pulling her belt off then she starts scratching at the nearest connecting metal pillar in front of her. When she finally gets some curls of shaved off metal from the bar, she blows at it and the shavings fly out against the force field…and creates little sparks. John sees the little sparkles and hears them from behind Kenmore. Kenmore’s face bursts into a shocked smile. She starts scratching metal against metal again, harder. After a moment, she slides the buckle along the rut she’s made and gingerly slips it into the path of the force field. Spark doesn’t even begin to describe it. The explosion from the buckle hitting the force field rockets the belt across the cell, it hits another of her cell’s walls with a bright green flare and a sizzling sound, and skitters to the floor. Kenmore jumps back, sucking on her hand. John wants to laugh, Oh you so deserved that, but he doesn’t even crack a smile. He works his fingers in his fist he has balanced by the wrist on top of his bended knee. From his side of his part of the cell, he keeps glaring at her.
“Well that was pretty, why don’t you try it again,” his smart, condescension clear.
“I don’t want to die in a cage.”
Neither does Sheppard.
After a moment, Kenmore retrieves her belt, puts it back on, and turns back to the wall. She scoots back over to it, takes her dog tags out from underneath her t-shirt and begins gnawing off of one of the tags the rubber that trims them. Sheppard can’t help but notice the pair of rings dangling from the cheap metal chain alongside the other tag. He felt himself break a little, sympathize for her just a little: her wedding ring…and her husband’s. Apparently she had taken that “Till death do you part thing” as more of a suggestion than an actual rule of marriage. For a fraction of a heartbeat, he sees Nancy in his mind’s eye in that moment…standing across from him…her hands in his…as he spoke that particular vow. The on-base chapel, nothing fancy, but it made her look like an angelic gift. The veil cascading down from the Grace Kelly sort of updo she’d put her hair in. Him in his dress blues. His hair for once showing an attempt, however failed, at neat and tidy and respectable. His heart had been pounding in his chest the moment he saw her step into the doorway and start her procession down the aisle towards him. It roared in his ears the moment the priest told them to join hands and repeat after him. John didn’t really know what the priest was telling him to repeat but he knew he was uttering something, he could feel it, and it must have been the right thing because Nancy’s happy, expectant grin just beamed back at him. Even broader, even happier. What would he have done if he had lost her then?
Kenmore spits the rubber out then goes back to digging another rut into the metal bar with the raw edge of the tag. When she’s made some more curls, she blows the curls gently onto the tag edge that had created them then she gently angles the tag into the field, Sheppard watches intently, and instead of an explosion, a fierce looking electrical bolt ignites over the tag and shoots into Kenmore’s hand and up her arm and starts to travel down the metal string the tag dangles from towards her neck. It never reaches there. Kenmore jumps back again, cutting off the voltage from its source and the travelling bolt dissipates quickly. She slumps back on her butt close to the wall between them, nursing her hand. Ah, hell. Sheppard scoots over to her, sedately releasing the breath that had caught in his throat the moment he saw that mean looking bolt head for her throat.
“No interaction,” Sheppard frowns at some area of the ceiling he can barely see where he thought the Asgard’s disembodied voice was coming from.
“Do you have something metal on you, not your belt buckle or your dog tags?”
Sheppard frowns at her, “I’m trying to see if you’re fine?”
“I’m fine. Now what do ya got?”
Sheppard glares at her again but searches his body anyway. He’s here on his knees face to face with her and he’s trying to be nice the least she could do is give him the benefit of a polite answer or a decent reply that acknowledges the attempt rather than being her apparently usual stubborn, self-absorbed self. He pats over the shirt pocket over his heart and feels a twin pair of hard things there. He reaches in the pocket and pulls out his wings.
“Those are perfect,” Kenmore exclaims.
There’s just two big problems. They look at each other then the wall of laser light between them and Sheppard notices it. First big problem down…
“It doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling.”
Kenmore looks up too.
“Can you toss one of them over,” she asks him.
Sheppard analyzes it for a moment then starts nodding, “Yeah. I think I can.”
They inch back away from their side of the wall. Sheppard hefts one of the pair of wings in his hand a couple of times, trying to gauge the height and distance…
“Okay. One, two, three.”
He pops it up and lets it fly. It goes up smoothly enough, high enough, but it comes down short. It clips one of the laser bars and topples into the force field. It ricochets back out clear of the top of his cell and smacks against the far wall before clattering to the floor. Sheppard frowns at it then sees a bright red light near the ceiling in the corner of the room start flashing. He looks back at Kenmore.
“Well that sucks and I think we’re gonna have company soon.”
Kenmore nods. She starts shifting her wait from knee to knee, eyeing the wing in the palm of his hand. No use dwelling. At least they both had a heads up to what’s expected. He hefts the second and last of the wings in his hand again.
“Last chance. One…two…,” he takes a deep breath, “three.”
He hefts it again. Gently this time, maybe too gently. The set of wings barely makes it over the wall, but it does make it over and it clears the laser bars nicely. Kenmore catches it on the other side. Sheppard feels the urge to smile again, that was the second big problem: that was his favorite pair.
She smiles for him though, slides back over to the metal bar and begins scratching again. Sheppard winces as he watches her, that was half of his favorite pair. His first pair, his good luck charms. He’d have figured a way around these cell walls and kicked her ass if she’d lost them. Now she’s doing that to them…Something strange is happening though, the curls, rather than scattering from the rut, stick to the wing. Static electricity, somehow his wing has created static electricity. When there’s a light dusting of curls clung to the wing’s edge, Kenmore turns it over very carefully in her hands and begins to scratch another rut. This rut’s closer to the field. Kenmore scratches hard as hell but less vigorously. She’s even monitoring her breathing in order to make sure she doesn’t blow any of the curls off the wing’s tip. When there’s another dusting, she digs that wing tip into the rut, holds her breath, and slowly angles the other wing tip into the force field. Sheppard almost shouts when the wing enters the field and angles a point of it out creating a new bright green laser beam at the door. Kenmore slowly, gently maintains the beam and guides it to a certain spot on the computer panel that looks like some sort of lens. As soon as the beam hits the lens, the force field shuts down and the laser light bars retract, opening the cells to each other as well as to the rest of the room. Kenmore and Sheppard stand up and walk clear of their cell. Kenmore hands him his wing back and Sheppard promptly goes over and picks up its mate, pockets them again, and looks the open door of his cell over.
“Well that’s a handy trick. Where did you learn that?”
Kenmore, panting because she finally gets to breath again, manages to say, “Actually…MacGuyver.”
A smile tugs at the corner of Sheppard’s mouth as he goes back to looking at the open cell but Kenmore misses it as she starts concerning herself with the door panel.
“Really,” he asks.
“Kinda, I had to tweak it a little. It was an episode with a laser web, smoke, and a gum wrapper, oh and a lit cigarette too.”
Sheppard jolts a little with laughter kept to himself. Then he notices the flashing red light picking up speed, he calls back to her…
“Unless I’m mistaken, I think we just lost more time.”
“I’m working on it.”
Sheppard’s head shoots over to her.
“What do you mean you’re ‘working on it’? You didn’t see which button he pushed?”
“No. I think his big ole meat hook of a paw covering up the entire panel had something to do with it.”
Sheppard scoffs. Should’ve known it. God damn it, I did it again!
“Oh so don’t cop an attitude with me right now.”
Sheppard slowly looks over at her with a gapped mouth.
“You heard me.”
Sheppard turns to face her.
“You don’t boss me around. You’re not the leader here.”
Kenmore straightens up and faces him.
“You’re really pulling rank now? Of all times, now?”
“I’ll pull rank any time I have too.”
“Oh so now you have to pull rank? Like oh gee we’re running out of time, why don’t I pull rank like that’s really gonna help.”
“When it comes to you, it’s always a help. And speaking of attitudes, you’ve done nothing but cop an attitude every since you got to this galaxy.”
“Gee, I wonder why!”
Kenmore suddenly notices the flashing, practically strobing, red light go solid red as Sheppard tries to lay into her some more.
“Why? What,” he looks behind him at the wall and the light as Kenmore goes back to the panel. Yeah, okay, so ‘Oh crap’ is right.
“We’re out of time,” she says.
He looks at her.
“You figure it out yet?”
She straightens back up again, “No.”
She braces her back against the wall, Sheppard follows suit on the other side of the door.
“So what plan are you going off of,” he asks.
“Oh I know that plan.”
Kenmore nods. Sheppard gets comfortable against the wall while they wait for the Asgard Super Soldier cavalry to arrive. So does Kenmore.
“Rodney would’ve figured it out,” he says at last, venting some of his earlier frustrations at her. After all just because the light went solid and the bad guys were coming didn’t mean he just stopped laying into her, it just meant he had to hold off on it for a moment.
“Doctor McKay doesn’t waste time arguing with you.”
Shows how much you know.
“He still would have done it.”
“Doctor McKay has a computer.”
“And what do you have?”
“Me, myself, and you.”
“Oh that’s kind.”
“You want kind catch me on a good day.”
“You don’t have a good day.”
“Not since I’ve been here.”
Sheppard pauses, she is right. She really didn’t have a reason to have a good day here. Then she gasps. It’s so deep and rattling. Her eyes widen. John looks back at the alarm light.
The light hasn’t changed and it didn’t look like it was about to. He looks back over at her. She’s staring at the cell, only it’s more like she’s staring through it and, granted you can do that, but it wasn’t the same thing.
“What is it,” he asks. What does she see?
Kenmore steps away from the wall, in her own little world and it was a fast little world. John could see it from here, her mind was racing a mile a minute. It was like watching Rodney snapping his fingers before he started typing an equivalent mile a minute on his computer tablet. It usually meant something good. Suddenly Kenmore turns to the computer panel and starts frantically pushing every button like an obnoxious little kid left to amuse themselves in an elevator. John stares at her, That was it. That was the great conclusion to all of that. Rodney usually had some harebrained, theoretical astrophysicist scheme that managed to save the day in ten minutes or less, John knew, he timed it a couple of times.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Being Doctor McKay because I’ve got a computer.”
“What,” John doesn’t get it.
“I’m overloading the computer in this panel.”
Suddenly the door opens then shuts then opens then shuts. The force field of their cell suddenly flashes on then off before it can fully engage then on again then quickly off again. The laser bars of their cells disengage then come back on then off then almost immediately on again. Likewise the pillars that are projecting the bars and the force field start to slide down into the floor then up then they slide down again then up again. The door to their room starts to slide open then before it can even get halfway shut it slides open again then starts sliding shut again. Suddenly a flash of gas or steam or something that wasn’t good explodes out of the floor from the junctions where the pillars meet the floor. The stun shows on Sheppard’s face. Holy crap, that is a great conclusion. He dives over, takes up position right behind Kenmore, reaches past her and starts pressing random buttons with her. The systems start freaking out even more. Behind him, Sheppard hears the force field fizzing like a shaken bottle of soda, he can hear the metal bars of the cell grinding themselves against the floor with a screech, and the gas or whatever it was is on continuous jet mode now.
“And how is shutting down the whole room supposed to help other than they can’t watch us anymore, which is my personal favorite,” he says beside her ear.
“Asgard surveillance systems work just like any other surveillance system. Off of grids. I’m hoping that this won’t just shut down this room but take out the whole grid for this level, which would be my personal favorite.”
“What if this is more like an elevator system than a surveillance system? They’re gridded too but when one elevator’s computer goes it’s just that particular car, not the whole system.”
“Look around you, Colonel, we were put into cells. This is more prison than hotel. They’re surveillance systems.”
“This place hasn’t been accessed in thousands of years. We’re probably the only ones here. How do you know we aren’t bringing the whole facility down on us?”
“If what the mural indicated is right and they’ve been using Wraith cullings as cover, how many cullings do you think happen in this area of space alone?”
“Okay, so we’ve probably got an army here that’s just as big a force as they’ve got.”
Suddenly the whole room goes dark and Sheppard hears the cell pillars grind and screech down into the floor again and stay down, and the door to the room stays wide open. Sheppard forces Kenmore behind him and braces his side against the door panel. For a moment he doesn’t move relying on the darkness and natural shadows of the room to conceal their positions then he peers out into the brightly lit area outside their doorway. He can see a huge circular room outside and the center of the room is hollow. The only way around is a walkway that lines the perimeter of the room with no railings. It’s all cold, gleaming, brushed metal like nickel out there. No designs. Even the doors around the perimeter are simple human design, just plain upright rectangles with no moldings of any sort. Not even door panels like this one had next to their frames, just…plain. It told him that all the doors were controlled by whoever is watching them wherever they were watching from. He feels Kenmore get antsy behind him and when he slides back to push her further back into the shadows, she quickly moves past him and braces herself in the darkness on the other side of the door. God damn it, she’s gonna do it again, isn’t she? She looks out into the gleaming room too.
“Where are the other guards,” she whispers, “Shouldn’t there be a crap load of guards coming?”
“Maybe it is like an elevator. You just blew our room.”
“But that doesn’t answer the light?”
Sheppard nods but he likes no one coming better than everyone coming. It’s a shame though that they didn’t have any back up. John had liked the thought of an army to go up against an army. Two against an entire building’s worth of observant bad guys seems unfair, doable considering McKay and Daniel Jackson managed it but still unfair.
“McKay and Doctor Jackson were in this situation before,” he says.
“Really? What’d they do?”
Sheppard stares at her, “I thought you read the report.”
“I glossed over the rest of it after I got what I needed out of it.”
Sheppard scoffs to himself. Of course…he calms himself down a moment to answer her, “McKay got hold of a computer,” Kenmore scoffs, “and he used it to overload some computers somewhere else in the building.”
Kenmore nods, “Distraction bombing.”
“I always carry a little C-4 in my tacvest. Never know when you might need it.”
“So where do you think it is?”
Sheppard looks up at as much of the ceiling as he can see which is none, just bright gleaming nickel ascending into darkness. Like he thought, this place is huge.
“I can’t tell if there’s another level above us or below us.”
“They’d be pretty stupid to keep your gear on the same level as us.”
Sheppard looks back at the doors lining the walls of the perimeter he can see. God this is a crappy choice. Stay here and maybe die just from waiting here or go out there and die from whatever was out there. If they had cameras in here, John could only guess the sort of equipment lining the walls of the perimeter. Kenmore eyes outside as Sheppard tries to figure out what to do next then, with a sigh, she dives out onto the open walkway. Sheppard curses and dives out into the open after her and…nothing. In the complete sterile open of the massive room that seems to go on forever just as much above as forever can go below, the two SGC soldiers stand there looking around, again waiting for death to just come and get them. They look around, dumbstruck. What about the red light? Shouldn’t an unmitigated horde be barreling at them from both sides right now like something out of the Lord of the Rings? But there isn’t anything. Not even an annoying voice saying, ‘No interaction.’ Here’s Aragorn and Gimli, of course Sheppard was Aragorn, braced to defend Helm’s Deep’s door and what, the Orcs decided to call it a day? Sheppard looks at Kenmore.
“What the hell,” is the only thing he can think of to say.
Kenmore looks like she was about to shrug at him when her eyes suddenly zero in on something behind him. Sheppard turns and eyes the perimeter as he and Kenmore fall back to brace themselves against the wall, he sees a gap in it that he hadn’t noticed before. As his back hits the cold metal wall, he realizes that falling back doesn’t really afford them any good cover and their bodies are generating fuzzy reflections in the metal of the walls but they just didn’t have a choice, there just isn’t any cover here and where everywhere else a gap like that usually indicated a door that he had no problem seeing, Sheppard can only see more wall indicating that over there is definitely no cell door. Suddenly Kenmore slips past him and begins to creep towards the gap in the wall. Sheppard follows her. The other Asgard might be able to see them coming but at least there was going to be a group of them that might not. Even if their observant buddies warn them, the snakes have to come out of the barrel somehow and as far as Sheppard can tell, this is it. One way in and one way out. And if they managed to take down Kenmore, there was still Sheppard behind her. They might know that, they might not. Sheppard is personally counting on not. Kenmore comes to a stop just beside the gap. When suddenly they hear the distinct sounds of Asgard beaming technology so loud there’s no way whoever beamed in could expect the element of any surprise, either overwhelming force or firepower notwithstanding. But with sounds, plural, maybe they didn’t need the element of surprise. John didn’t feel good about this. Before the silence can even think of taking over, Kenmore doesn’t even bother to check and see if he’s ready to jump with her, she just bolts into the open of the gap. She barely manages to duck in time as a bright red stun blast flies over her head. Sheppard hisses, dives after her as he looks down the hall to measure what they were up against or at least what he was going to be up against when the little nut got herself killed by not looking before she leapt again, and stops; he can barely believe his eyes…