As night continues to engulf the city, wrapping it in the dark of a cloudless and moonless night, the darkness ironically makes the light of the Atlantis’ Command Center that much brighter as though that room were being lit by the bright natural light of day and not by the unnatural light of active computer banks. And the center’s extraordinary light only serves to enhance the even darker gloom of the gateroom below it. The massive room, normally illuminated by sunlight or even dusklight filtering through its myriad stained glass windows, is dark, foreboding, and looking like a tomb waiting to be opened… or sealed.
Kenmore sits on the lip of Zelenka’s computer console with her arms crossed over her chest while Zelenka looks up at Woolsey standing in the middle of the room with Lorne standing a few feet behind him. Teyla, gaping at Woolsey, walks around Lorne to face him.
“You cannot do that to him.”
“I agree with Teyla,” Radek says, “Rodney is in no condition to be interrogated.”
“It’s not an interrogation,” Kenmore tells them, “We just have to question him.”
Teyla turns on Kenmore, “No! Rodney is still too sick.”
“We have to Teyla. After Anubis let them go, the victims remembered what they did when he was in control of them. What he wanted.”
“I told you he doesn’t remember anything.”
“And neither did the victims… at first.”
“Teyla,” Lorne intervenes with a gentle voice at the sight of the Athosian biting her lip and balling her fists at her side and just as she was taking a step towards Kenmore, “it’s an option we have to take.”
Teyla’s head snaps to him. Her mouth hanging open in shock. Her eyes wide with something akin to accusation and betrayal… and hurt.
“You cannot possibly be agreeing with this,” she breathes at him, “Major Lorne, Evan, Rodney is your friend. I am your friend.”
Lorne’s expression turns panged, Aw damn. She used his first name, she never does that with him. Not even when she was pregnant and taking on a Wraith Queen with one-on-one telepathy. She’d called for Sheppard to help her. He wasn’t Sheppard. He wasn’t John. And when she was pregnant and trying to find Kanaan and the rest of her people with only a necklace her lover had given her as lead… Suddenly Lorne found it hard to swallow.
“This isn’t about whose friends with whom, Teyla,” Kenmore says behind her.
Teyla, suddenly brimming with rage, turns again on the Lieutenant, “Perhaps if it were, you would not have been shot,” she spits.
Kenmore stands up, unfolding her arms. Ursula’s own fire matching Teyla’s, although coming across far more restrained.
“Plenty of my friends were in those tanks and in the same sickbeds McKay is in the last time Anubis attacked. And we all worked together despite the strain, despite the pain, despite the personal feelings, to bring him down. I was shot because none of you can take orders from anyone but yourselves.”
Woolsey hesitates, watching the friction between the two women for a moment, before speaking.
“Do it Lieutenant.”
Teyla turns to Woolsey. How could they all be doing this to Rodney? To them?
“Richard,” she begs.
At least he does her the honor and respect of facing her, looking her in the face, in the eyes…
“I’m sorry Teyla, but it has to be done.”
…when he betrays her faith and trust too.
Woolsey swallows hard and looks up to meet Lorne eye to eye.
“Major, you and Lieutenant Kenmore have my permission to question Doctor McKay.”
Lorne nods his head and without hesitation heads for the stairs with Kenmore right behind him. Woolsey watches them leave then looks at Teyla. Her shocked expression has never left him. She lets one more second hold between them as she closes her mouth then follows Kenmore and Lorne out, her fists still balled tightly by her sides. Richard Woolsey watches her go, taking a moment to himself realizing that he’s put a dangerous division in his lead team… and between his lead team and himself, before turning his attention to Doctor Radek Zelenka still sitting at the computer console.
“What system is Anubis checking now,” the former attorney asks.
The Czech scientist turns his attention to his computer screen. Pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose again, “Several actually.” Radek points to his computer screen. Woolsey steps towards him and the two men pour over the details.
* * *
Teyla walks down the darkened hallway, lined on either side by large rectangular panels painted brown then speckled turquoise with silver raised Ancient reliefs as borders and a central medallion. Although in the poor lighting of the dimly illuminating crystal slats embedded in the variety of short and tall wall lights that covered every possible bend or minute curve of the hallway’s path, everything looked black and gray. Alone, determined and with a surer stride than any she has ever used in Atlantis before, she reaches up to her radio link in her ear and presses it.
“Teyla to Colonel Sheppard.”
“They are coming to interrogate Rodney.”
* * *
Jennifer and Sheppard freeze just before they were going to plant the brakes on Ronon’s bed. Ronon tries to look back at them but he’s sure the same dismayed expression is on their faces as much as it is his.
“This is going too far,” Sheppard says. Yep, Ronon knew it for sure now.
“I agree. Keep them away from Rodney, I am on my way.”
Sheppard closes the link. They straighten up. Jennifer starts looking around.
“What are we going to do? We can’t move him. He’s unstable enough as it is.”
Sheppard starts looking around the isolation room too. But that’s just it, it’s an isolation room. It’s one massive open room made up of black walls and steel grated flooring with nothing in it but what they chose to bring in with them when they put something in here in the first place, granted there’s a giant bank of windows up on the second story part of the right side wall indicating there’s an observation room up there and there’s only the one thick steel door into the room. There’s no way to barricade themselves in here by any means and think they weren’t snakes in a very constricting barrel. Suddenly Sheppard gets an idea.
“How unstable? Not too unstable?”
Keller looks at him.
“There’s no such thing as ‘too unstable’. He’s unstable. That’s it.”
Sheppard looks at her with a little more emphasis and she catches on to his expression. She stiffens up.
“No,” she tells him.
“C’mon Jennifer. They want to interrogate him. We have to hide him and we can’t do it here.”
“He can’t be moved,” she restates.
“Just like we couldn’t take him to a cave or perform surgery on his brain there?”
Keller pauses a moment. Sheppard has got her there, but she’s still no less comfortable with the situation here then she was with the situation then.
“We can’t trust them anymore,” Ronon backs up Sheppard.
Jennifer looks from man to man, still uncomfortable with the situation.
“We don’t have Jeannie here and we can’t call her. He’s your boyfriend, your patient, it’s your call,” Sheppard can see that he has to go the extra pleading step further, “We have to protect him, Doc.”
It doesn’t take a whole lot of prodding beyond that.
“We have to be quick and we have to be gentle,” she warns him.
Sheppard nods then Keller and Sheppard race over to Rodney’s bed and start transitioning his equipment to allow them to move his bed. Sheppard calls back over his shoulder.
“Ronon, stall them.”
“Stall who,” comes Lorne’s voice from beyond Ronon.
Sheppard looks up and sees Lorne standing just a step into the room with Kenmore beside him. Sheppard exchanges looks with Ronon. Keller, who seemed temporarily frozen by the sound of Lorne’s voice, finally starts to move again. She slowly stands up and looks at the two new arrivals and braces as though she just got caught by the school principal in the worst way possible. Ronon and Sheppard look back at Lorne and Kenmore. Lorne repeats himself.
“Stall who,” he asks.
In the silence, Kenmore walks away from Lorne’s side and heads over to Rodney. Sheppard blocks him from her.
“We need the information,” she unflinchingly stares him dead-on.
“I won’t let you hurt him,” Ronon says from behind her.
Kenmore looks back at him. “And who else will get hurt because you’re trying to help,” she asks him.
Ronon looks angry, but stays silent. He knows the Lieutenant is outmanned, and frankly in his opinion outgunned, even if she didn’t know it yet. He did. Kenmore returns her attention to the Colonel.
“Anubis is in the city—“
“And that’s your fault,” Sheppard barks at her, shoving a finger in her face.
Kenmore lets that slide, “We need to know what he wants here.”
“I already told Mister Woolsey that Rodney doesn’t remember anything from when Anubis took possession of his body,” Jennifer jumps in, desperate sounding. Splaying her hands a few inches over Rodney’s body like that was going to be enough to protect him from the others. Kenmore looks over at her.
“After a while the victims started to remember things, even the one who held Anubis the longest. We need McKay to remember now.”
Sheppard eyes her. Kenmore’s expression, the tone of her voice, the affect in it… Damn it, even she was trying to plead a case with Keller.
“No,” Jennifer stops that in its tracks—to John’s relief—, “I can’t let you do this.”
“Neither will I,” Sheppard seconds defiantly in the face of the Lieutenant’s glance.
“Nor I,” Teyla thirds from the isolation room’s entrance.
Lorne jumps at the sound of the voice so close behind him. He and Kenmore look back at the just arrived Teyla Emmagan. Her defiance no less strong than the others. Lorne looks back at Kenmore.
“You won’t win,” Ronon warns them.
Kenmore looks over at him, “This isn’t about winning, and it’s about surviving.” She looks back at Lorne.
He nods at her.
“We have Woolsey’s permission,” he then informs them all.
Sheppard stares at him. For once, the Colonel’s eyes look like there’s hurt in them, betrayal.
“Major,” he says.
“I’m sorry Colonel. We went over your head.”
Kenmore starts to move further towards McKay, but Sheppard grabs her. She fights him until suddenly Rodney starts gasping. Jennifer immediately starts checking him. They freeze.
“He’s having trouble breathing,” Jennifer shouts. Without looking up, “Teyla, get me the little glass bottle with the bright blue label from the table behind Ronon’s bed and one of the syringes. Go! Now!”
Abruptly Kenmore yanks free from Sheppard, walks around him to the medical bed, grabs Rodney by the throat, and lifts up his chin. McKay’s breathing is still raspy, but it’s no longer strained in distress. Keller stares at her, but Kenmore keeps her focus on McKay.
“My Mother was a MASH nurse during Vietnam. I learned a lot from her. Doctor McKay?”
“Don’t,” Jennifer begs breathlessly, her voice on the pitiful brink of whimpering. Her eyes darting from Rodney’s face to Kenmore’s. She didn’t know how long he’d stay like this and she there are so many questions she needs to ask him. Was the treatment working? Was it not? How much pain is he in? Where does it hurt? How much pain?…
Kenmore doesn’t look up at her, “Doctor McKay, we need to know what Anubis wants?”
“I, I don’t remember,” McKay wheezes weakly. He sounded like an old man on Death’s door.
“Yes you do,” she tells him calmly, confidently.
McKay shifts beneath her grasp. She reasserts herself over him. Leaning further, closer over his face. Tightening her grip on his throat just a hair and lifting his chin back up the half-inch it managed to droop in her hands.
“Stop,” Jennifer demands. Finally finding something of her voice.
“Doctor McKay, Anubis is in the city. We need to know what he wants here. You have to remember.”
Pain contorts across his face. His arms and legs shift limply. Trying to shake Kenmore off. Too weak to do so. Jennifer can’t take anymore. She starts gasping. Opens her mouth to shout. Then he speaks.
“Others?” Kenmore rises sharply from him, confused by his answer. Her grip loosening a little.
“He wants to… to reach them… city the… only… only way… others…,” Rodney trails off as he falls back into sleep. His breathing still rattling in his throat and lungs like bare bones being dragged across a series of metal bars.
Kenmore slowly lets go of his throat; his head settles back down into its regular position. She turns to look at the others. Her eyes wide, her mouth slack jawed. How could none of them have known that this had happened? The SGC? The IOA? The Trust? No one? How?
“There are more Goa’uld in the Pegasus,” she breathes, disturbed. How?
Teyla reaches Jennifer’s side and hands her the small clear bottle bearing a bright blue label and a syringe still in its clear crackling wrapper.