In another flash they were in another transporting area and…nothing. There’s no one waiting for them again. Sheppard doesn’t believe it and neither do Ronon or Teyla. McKay comes out of his cringe behind the Athosian leader. Even Kenmore eyes the entrance warily. Another heartbeat of silence passes. Kenmore slips a toe out beyond the circle of the transporting pad. Sheppard sees it and hisses at her.
“Just giving them something to shoot at,” she whispers to him.
A smile hints at the corners of Ronon’s mouth; if she wanted to get her foot blown off that was fine with him, although he had wished he’d be the one to shoot some part of her first.
“I thought we might be too far back for them to see us.”
But nothing shoots at her. A discreet smile lifts the corners of his lips, he just might really get that chance to shoot her first after all. She takes the full step forward, still nothing, then another and still nothing. Sheppard actually untenses then Kenmore sucks in a sudden intake of air…
“What? What is it?” His shoulders knot again.
…and runs. Sheppard curses and runs after her with the others on his heels. As soon as he breaks into the open of the perimeter, he sees exactly what she’s headed for: the open door to a room directly across from them. Kenmore quickly makes the round with Sheppard and the others racing to keep up while simultaneously trying to make sure the area is clear. She runs into the room, again without thinking that such an invitation might be a big freaking booby trap. John’s pissed-offness returns once again but again he’d take it up with her later considering he wasn’t hearing ammunitions being unloaded into her brainless body nor had the room exploded…yet. And she still had that head that the Asgard wanted so badly with her…which meant, Damn it, that they still needed her half-Ancient DNA for whatever might be coming up next that might require it. With a quick glance around the rest of the perimeter, just in case, John ran into the room after her.
He stops beside the Lieutenant standing in the middle of the lab, looking around. It looks pretty much like what John suspects is the normal Asgard lab. Computers practically everywhere except that all the computers are displaying holograms of either diagrams of the human body or of the human brain. John imagined the regular Asgard hadn’t displayed stuff like that images of worlds or complex mathematical equations, maybe diagrams of their own bodies but not human ones. There are exposed cords snaking over the floor everywhere which John likewise figures wouldn’t have been normal for the other Asgard he’d met either. All the cords, some running underneath his and Kenmore’s boots and undoubtedly for rigging up aging, dilapidated equipment over the course of the past ten thousand years, ran from the computers and connected back to what seemed to be the crowning glory of the whole lab: some sort of yet another contraption Sheppard doesn’t really want to know what it does or what it’s for. It’s a circular platform about two inches deep with an about seventeen-inch circumference with these spider leg-appendages coming up out of it. God, the whole place looks like some really sick anatomy class to John. Perhaps this isn’t what he should consider the typical Asgard lab to look like but rather the typical bad guy Asgard lab. It’s dark, lit not by any actual lighting, but by the neon indigo blues and pinks of the holographic displays. It is sort of like being in the darkened fish aquarium section of a pet store and they were the fish. Sheppard doesn’t like that at all. The others file into the lab.
“What is this place,” Teyla asks, slightly slack-jawed and slightly wide-eyed as she takes in the new room.
Sheppard doesn’t have an answer for her as his eyes trail around the room to the further off shadows that no light seems able to illuminate. They seem to be asking that a lot in this place. It just seems to keep getting worse every time they walk into a room.
“Hell,” Rodney answers her, “This is what Hell looks like.”
John frowns at him. There’s no need to bang the negativity gong so hard just yet but he has to agree. This is what Hell looks like.
“Well how about you figure a way out of this,” John says instead.
“Of course, the scientist to the rescue. Why doesn’t that surprise me,” Rodney walks over to one of the computers, whips out his computer tablet again, plugs it in, and starts going to work.
It’s only a few seconds when he harrumphs. Sheppard’s head shoots to McKay.
“Well, I found out why we haven’t met any guards yet and probably aren’t likely to until we really, really don’t want to.”
“Why,” Ronon asks.
“They’ve been watching us. Actually, you two,” he gestures at Sheppard and Kenmore, “I’m looking at orders and computer routines specifically designed to let you guys work your way through everything. They lit up this room when you two broke out of your cell. They’ve been intentionally holding back. Signaling each other.”
Sheppard looks over and meets Kenmore’s eyes.
“Well that explains the flashing red light.”
Kenmore nods at him.
Although he had no idea what that moment of one-to-one interaction between Kenmore and Sheppard meant, he doesn’t have to. Ronon knows his own feelings on the matter. Ronon gives a disgruntled semi-growl as he looks outside the door at the transporting area directly across the maw from them, “I don’t like the enemy letting me do anything.”
Sheppard silently nods his agreement and looks back at McKay.
“Is it telling you anything else?”
“Yeah, they showed particular interest in us when we entered the morgue. Like you could hear a pin drop interest.”
“So this man did know something important,” Sheppard was about to agree with Teyla when…
“They couldn’t get in,” Kenmore says distantly.
Sheppard and Teyla look at her. The Lieutenant’s staring straight ahead of her at the contraption but beyond it, like she’s in a daze.
“What,” Teyla asks.
“They didn’t have the Ancient gene,” Kenmore answers still distant, “They couldn’t get in. They couldn’t get,” she looks down at the head in her hands, “him.”
Sheppard and Teyla stare at the head as well. But John’s more worried by Kenmore’s behavior. Usually going all spooky on a mission was a bad thing and coming from Kenmore, who had since shown herself to treat missions of any sort as old hat, it seems even worse than bad.
“Well that explains a lot,” he tries to bring her back from wherever her mind has gone out of focus, “They probably took scans of us when we were out. Checked our DNAs, found out how Ancient we both are. They’re letting us do their dirty work for them. And we are.”
“But why,” Teyla asks, “What is so important about this man that he was kept so protected from the Asgard? What did he see?”
“The Ancient,” Rodney offers.
“Oh eww,” Kenmore suddenly exclaims.
Their heads all snap to her. She’s standing in one spot cringing and bouncing almost like she’s doing a potty-dance, her face contorted in distress.
“What,” Sheppard asks her.
“I need the head.”
For a moment Sheppard gaps at her, A bathroom break? Now? Seriously? Then Kenmore holds out the head, her fingers twitching against it like she doesn’t want to hold the thing anymore. Sheppard stares at her. Great, and he thought she was back in the here and now even if it was with the idea of a potty break. What a time for her to go nuts. He looks back at Teyla and Rodney and they continue their conversation.
“But if they were working with an Ancient, would they not already know what he or she looked like,” Teyla points out.
“Oh eww, eww, eww. Gross,” Kenmore continues to freak out.
McKay ignoring the Lieutenant, “No, I mean a lab. The last time, well the first time, we encountered these type of Asgard it was because we found Janus’ secret lab hidden in the bowels of Atlantis.”
“And you messed with something in it,” Ronon adds.
McKay glares at him before he continues, “Look, all I’m saying is that it wouldn’t be totally out of the realm of possibility for another Ancient to have a secret lab. Maybe not secret so much as he gets to enter and nobody else does.”
Kenmore finally works up as much Dutch courage as she can without the Dutch part and rushes the contraption. McKay catches her.
“Oh my God,” as McKay complains, Kenmore shoves the head, neck down, on the spike in the middle of the contraption’s platform.
Instantly a single bright overhead light shines down on the head, Kenmore jumps back, and the spider legs reach up and pull the head the rest of the way down on the spike then hold it in place. The machine starts emitting a humming sound. Sheppard stares in shock and horror, and he’s had enough of this too.
“What the hell is your problem! What do you think you’re doing!”
“The dirty work.”
Sheppard shoves a finger in the Lieutenant’s face again, “You don’t respond! You shut up! And you don’t move till I say so! And if I have to I will shoot—“
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” McKay interrupts the Colonel’s rant.
“What is it Rodney,” Sheppard snaps. He wasn’t done yelling at Kenmore yet.
“They’ve gone silent again,” he looks up from his tablet, “Their watching us and I mean really watching us.”
Sheppard looks back at Kenmore.
“We have the leverage,” she says, “We have the head and the Ancient gene.”
“You mean we had the leverage. You just stuck the head on a spike and our genes can only carry us so far.”
“They’re not moving,” McKay interjects, “They’re waiting. She’s right. Whatever they want from us, we haven’t done it yet but we are going to. They’re not going to touch us until we do but when we do, their response is going to be massive.”
John looks back at Kenmore. They were stuck doing things her way. He rolls his eyes in frustration but steps in position beside her. Teyla falls in on Kenmore’s other side.
“Well,” he asks the Lieutenant.
“I don’t know.”
“Rodney,” he asks.
“I don’t know either but I’m getting a power reading off of whatever that is.”
“How big a reading?”
Wouldn’t it be just their luck to find a flesh and blood bomb? Hadn’t they already had a mission like that? Hadn’t it killed Carson? Suddenly the tips of the spider legs pierce the head with a sickening pop as they break skull and shove themselves up to their first joint into the man’s brain. Then the head’s opened eyes close, slowly and smoothly. Sheppard, Kenmore, and Teyla stare. Oh that is just gross.
“Well Rodney,” John swallowed, “I think we found your reanimator.”
Rodney grimaces, clearly he’d been thinking it’d look a lot different than this.
“So,” John continues, “now what?”
“I don’t know,” Kenmore repeats.
She looks around their immediate area. There has to be something here that can help her. This can’t be just it. There’s a hologram display of a brain glowing right next to the machine, which wasn’t unusual considering how the rest of the room looks except that it’s now showing labeled tags written in Asgard indicating different parts of the brain. Kenmore bites her lower lip and glances at the head as she slowly reaches towards the display and puts her fingertip through a tag. Suddenly the head’s eyes shoot open and he has an expression other than death on his face, he screams. Kenmore jumps back with a yelp and a gasp, putting a hand over her chest. Jesus Christ. The head says something in a different language then starts crying and Teyla stares at it.
“I know that language.”
That was the thing John had been waiting for someone to say: that they had an answer.
“Well what did he say?”
“That he is afraid.”
Sheppard stares at her, “Is that it?”
She nods at him but the head suddenly gasps dramatically which causes Kenmore to yelp again then the head starts whispering then just as suddenly goes silent and it’s eyes close again. They wait but nothing happens.
“He said that ‘they’ were coming.”
Sheppard glances at the Athosian.
“Whoa,” McKay says which draws Sheppard’s attention.
“What ‘whoa,’ Rodney?”
“The Asgard are listening. I mean a pin would sound like a sonic boom right now. The head may have stumbled onto something here.”
Ronon looks on from his position by the door, “Like what?”
McKay keeps working on his computer, suddenly a bright light snaps on from the ceiling off to the left side of the middle of the room. It draws the team’s attention. The light is shining down on a bed, actually a table, a metal slab of a medical table like an extremely unfriendly version of the ones found in Atlantis’ infirmary. It is the same silver color as the walls outside and that hideous guillotine thing had been—or once had been—down stairs. There is no comfy cushion like the medical beds in Atlantis had and it’s slightly elevated at the head. And there were metal restraints built into its sides and at its foot. There isn’t a single bed like that in Atlantis except for the gurneys that they had brought with them from Earth, but John doubted very highly that this was a gurney. Gurneys aren’t bolted to the floor.
“Like I think we’re in the room he died in. And,” Rodney works some more, “Well isn’t this more than a little disconcerting. They’re still waiting for us. They’re listening and waiting. If this were a movie, I’d say we’d be hearing the start of the theme song to JAWS right about now.”
Suddenly, without hesitation, Kenmore presses another label on the holographic brain. The head’s eyes open again and it starts talking, it throws in a couple of laughs and after a few words Teyla’s eyes widen at it as it keeps talking, laughing liltingly at Kenmore. The Lieutenant backs up with a disgusted cringe and leans over to Teyla…
“He’s coming on to me, isn’t he?”
Blushing violently, Teyla nods while averting her gaze from the head then it puckers up at Kenmore and makes smacking kissing sounds before he goes silent and his eyes close again. Kenmore stares up at the ceiling…
“Why do all the dead guys hit on me?”
“Let’s keep it moving here,” John intervenes, frankly just as disgusted by the head’s behavior as Kenmore is, “Rodney?”
“I’m trying but every time she does something it’s like they go into a feeding frenzy. All I can say is that the sharks are circling the cage and about all I can do right now is stall them. And even that is losing its touch.”
Ronon growls from the doorway.
“I hate cages.”
Kenmore sighs, does a shivering little dance to shake off the gross, and presses another label. The head opens its eyes again and its expression is fear but he doesn’t scream this time, he starts whispering. It’s the sound of the guy’s voice that unsettles Sheppard. He looks to Teyla. She senses the cue even though she’s focused intently on the head.
“He says he is in a room.”
“Oh is that all,” McKay snarks.
“Rodney,” Sheppard warns.
“He is on a bed,” Teyla continues, “It is quiet and dark except for a bright light over him. He can see lights of many different colors in the darkness around him. He is very frightened. He hears voices near him. He is trying very hard to stay still. He believes they are Wraith but they do not sound like Wraith. He opens one of his eyes wider very carefully and sees a man and a woman, they are Ancestors. They are looking at a picture floating in the air, the male Ancestor touches it and the picture changes. The man leaves the image and the woman takes his place. The man walks into the shadows. Then in the darkness there is a blue light and he can see the outline of the man,” Teyla falls silent as the man keeps talking, her brows furrow at the head.
“What,” Sheppard wants to know, “What is it? What’s he saying?”
“I do not know. Something about a fish crying and then a fence and a, a, a crown and I believe he just said a ruin?”
McKay rolls his eyes.
“Great, our only way out of this mess is a talking head and it just went nuts. How wonderful. Shall I just shoot myself now or—wait, wait, wait.”
“What,” Sheppard snaps.
“They’re mobilizing. Holy crap,” he looks up at Sheppard, “They’re coming for us. They are all coming for us. We’ve got to get out of here now and I cannot stress how now I mean.”
Ronon’s attention and fully charged weapon retake their position aiming out the door at the transporting area. He’s ready. The head keeps talking and suddenly gasps, the panic in his voice becomes crystal clear.
“The woman changed the image then suddenly looked back at him. She has realized he is awake and alert. She is telling the male Ancestor. They know he has been watching them. He has closed his eyes but he can hear their voices getting closer. They are agitated.”
Suddenly the head screams, horribly, then goes silent again and closes his eyes. John looks to Teyla as Kenmore starts looking around them.
“I believe they had just killed him,” Teyla confirms.
Sheppard looks at Rodney.
“Get us the hell out of here Rodney.”
McKay stares at his comrades. Flabbergasted yet again.
“What part of ‘all I can do is stall them’ and ‘even that’s losing its touch’ did you not understand?”
“You said ‘about’, Rodney, now I’m telling you to do the ‘about’ part.”
McKay sighs at him then Kenmore bolts for the wall and a panel, a circular screen the size of Kenmore’s face with an unlit console of nine buttons underneath it, in the shadows of the room rendered not quite so dark by the extreme overhead light of the examination bed behind McKay. She passes her hand over the panel. Suddenly the panel comes to life saturated with the same ocean blue light as most of Atlantis’ equipment is. Immediately the screen displays writing John’s never seen before but he feels like he should have in all sorts of ways that are confusing him.
“What the hell is that,” he asks.
“I don’t know. I mean I think it’s Ancient—“
“But it looks like the Asgard language too,” Kenmore finishes for McKay.
Then he and Kenmore look at each other with a shocked expression on their faces then both suddenly turn and start yelling and gesturing at Teyla…
“Get over here now, now, now,” Kenmore urges.
“What was the first one,” McKay snaps.
Teyla and Sheppard rush over.
“What ‘first one’,” he asks.
McKay ignores him, addressing Teyla while Kenmore focuses intently on the button grid, ready and waiting.
“What was that first thing he said when he was going crazy?”
“He said he saw a crying fish.”
Rodney looks back at Kenmore, his breathing puffs her hair, she nods.
“I got it,” she presses a button and suddenly an image shows up on the screen, a hieroglyphic, of a fat diamond with an open tail and a series of dots lined up in front of it like a crying fish.
Suddenly bright red lights like the one that had flashed back in Sheppard and Kenmore’s cell room starts flashing along the tops of the walls along with blaring sirens. Rodney’s panic-mode hits overdrive.
“Next,” he shouts.
“A fence,” Teyla yells above the noise.
Kenmore nods, pushes another button, and another image of three lines that look like railroad spikes appears on the screen.
Another image appears of a circle of dots.
“And ruins, he said ruins!”
Kenmore searches. McKay stares at her.
“What? What is it?”
“I can’t find it! There’s nothing here that looks even remotely like ruins!”
McKay looks then points.
“Try that one.”
“Are you sure?”
McKay looks at her exasperated.
“No, I just thought waiting here for our imminent deaths would be a nice change of pace. Yes, I’m sure,” he snaps.
Kenmore pushes the button and Sheppard can see what she’d been worried about, it is another circle of dots except some of the dots seem to be either missing or are elongated into sort of bar shapes. It just didn’t look right. It didn’t look like ruins at all. Except for maybe an aerial shot of Stonehenge? But even then it looks like a stretch. The panel slides sideways into the wall and reveals a bright, glowing blue interior with a line of three crystals embedded in a panel just like the wall crystals to Atlantis’ doors. Rodney immediately reaches in and grabs the top one. He runs back and yanks his laptop’s cord out of the supposedly Asgard computer he’d hooked it up to then starts for the door. Teyla, Kenmore, and Sheppard start to follow him, but after a few steps Kenmore stops, blocking Sheppard. She looks back at the panel then back at McKay.
“But what about those? Shouldn’t we take them with us?”
Rodney shakes his head, holds up the crystal and gives it a shake as he runs.
“No, this one is the key.”
Kenmore looks back at the crystals then back at Rodney. Sheppard doesn’t have time for this. He tries to go around her but she suddenly grabs the P-90 clipped to his vest, brings it up, aims it at the open panel of crystals, and opens fire. Everyone freezes and looks at her, shocked. The autofire shatters the blue box of crystals and its lights go out. She looks back at McKay standing on the perimeter walkway just in front of the doorway with Ronon right in front of him and Teyla standing on the threshold of the room.
“Can they fix that?”
McKay, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, shakes his head at her.
Kenmore cocks her fist back as she hikes her knee up, “Yes.”
The others continue to make their run for it. Once again Sheppard and Kenmore head for the door. Sheppard moves around Kenmore so as not to get caught behind her again when suddenly she skids to a halt in the doorway with a hiss then turns and runs back into the room. Sheppard skids to a stop just on the turn of the perimeter, turns, and yells after her. God, he did not have time for this. And if their heading into the Ancient part of this complex, he needed her genes.
She comes back out with the head in her hands, she runs up to the walkway’s edge, skids to a stop her tip-toes just at the edge, and lets the head go flying out of her hands in a gesture of an entirely uncontrolled lobbing throw. Sheppard runs up to his edge of the perimeter and they both watch the head plummet into the darkness below. Kenmore waves and calls after it.
“Sorry! You’re taking your secret to the grave with you if that’s any consolation! Thank you!”
Kenmore tries another smile and wave at it. Sheppard stares at her like she’s crazy then Kenmore finally starts around the perimeter like everyone else has already done and Sheppard follows her. Hopefully if she stops again, he can just shove her where he needs her to go. In the transporting area, McKay’s already plugged into the panel, typing like a madman, with the key crystal placed neatly into a small slot apparently revealed by a part of the panel that was designed to come open when one of the buttons on top of it was pressed, it would have been nice if Rodney’d told him about that before, and Teyla and Ronon are covering the sides of the area’s entrance/exit just in case the Asgard manage to beam into another part of this level. Kenmore and Sheppard run onto the pad. As soon as they slam into the back wall of the area, the Asgard beaming flash happens.
Then another happens as a whole group of Asgard soldiers suddenly beam in, missing the team by splits of seconds.