Episode Eight- Home Again, Part Two- Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

This lab is a setting none of the team have been in since they first arrived on Atlantis. It’s one of the few rooms that has a transporter open into it directly and thankfully since their arrival and during that first and only round of visitations to this place, they’ve discovered another entrance into the room. A suspiciously concealed other entrance, but an extra entrance nonetheless built to look like just another panel of the wall, directly to the right of the caging device and it’s podium that sat about six feet directly across from the transporter doors. And about six feet behind that podium, Rodney sits at the lab’s main computer console that has access to several of Atlantis’ systems including the communications, the power, and the Gateroom with Jennifer attentively by his side. At first it spooked him all the ways this single computer console had of contacting the city Command Center, but Rodney had since discovered that every lab’s main console had these sort of default computer features in them just in case whatever that lab’s particular experiment was went haywire and threatened the city. Not it didn’t spook him, it just really, really unnerved him…  Really.

In the wall on the other side of Rodney and his main console is the entrance/exit of a staircase that leads directly down into the lab from one of the major off-shoot hallways coming from the Gateroom as well, again a rarity. Ronon looks a weird glowing tower of blue-green, aerated liquid immediately to the right of the transporter doors up and down then he gingerly walks around the standard structural pillar in the center of the room and looks over at the equally strange towers of piped light and light, pipe, and framework set into the walls of the lab next to a second computer console. He’d never been in this room before.

“The Ancients caged something in here,” he asks.

Despite the glows of various colors from the computer consoles, the light towers, the other wall lights’ clear glowing crystal slats, and the bright ZPM-like glowing of the Ancient cage device, the room was bathed in gentle amber light that barely lit it properly. Sheppard stands in front of the opened secret entrance with the cage machine behind him, aiming his P-90 with its flashlight on, clipped to the front of his tacvest, down the empty hallway before him and shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. His anxious focus never leaves the hallway.

“Pretty much, yeah,” he answers.

Ronon looks over at Sheppard, eyeing the back of the man’s form.

“And now we’re going to cage something that’s like the Ancients in here,” Ronon asks.

Sheppard falters for a moment, thinks of glancing behind him then dismisses the idea, and continues his standing-in-one-spot way of pacing.

“Yeah,” he answers.

Rodney finally pops up out of his work on the computer. He tries to stand unsuccessfully and Jennifer catches him. He wraps an arm around her shoulders, holding her close. She silently returns the subtle little squeeze. Then he reaches up and activates his earpiece.

“Gateroom, this is McKay. We’re ready down here.”

*                      *                      *

Woolsey reaches up to his own earpiece and taps it to respond, “Thank you Doctor McKay. We’ll be listening in.”

Woolsey looks over at Zelenka and nods. Radek looks down at his screen, the map on it shows Kenmore’s room and her in it. He presses a few buttons and the glowing in the walls of her quarters and a small piece of the hallway outside of it disappears. He switches over to a map of a different section of the city. He eyes it for a moment then presses a single button. The map shows the ceiling and wall forcefields and the forcefield in front of Anubis disappear. Woolsey taps his earpiece again.

“Lieutenant Kenmore—”

*                      *                      *

At her name, Kenmore’s head shoots up.

“—You have a go.”

No sooner has Woolsey finished the sentence then Kenmore drops the file in her hands and bolts for her door. She slips by the still opening door, stops in the middle of the hallway outside, faces the direction she knows Anubis is in. And yells…

“Olly, olly, oxen—”

Lightning bolts strike wall to wall at the bend in the hallway in front of her.

“—Whoa geez.”

Kenmore immediately turns on her heels and bolts up the hallway. Anubis follows her. Catching up to her. Roaring like heavy wind roars in your ears…

Forcefield junctions break down in front of Kenmore and go back up behind her just as fast. Forcing Anubis to hurdle the forcefields. But it’s quickly clear that Radek is having trouble keeping up with the pace Kenmore and Anubis are setting. Anubis is so close to her…  The roaring is deafening.

Ursula turns a sharp corner. And slips. She barely has time to scramblingly regain her footing before the forcefield reappears centimeters behind the rising heel of her boot and forces Anubis to slam on his brakes. She allows herself a slight gasp of distress at the close call as she pulls away from him once more. Anubis shoots straight up and vaults the forcefield. Ursula turns another corner with a furious Anubis continuing to close in on her all over again.

*                      *                      *

Massive bolts of electricity suddenly burst from wall to wall and wall to floor in the bend in the hallway in front of him. And Sheppard quickly realizes that his gun isn’t going to be of any use here. He drops his P-90 and takes up the Wraith pistol. At least it’s an energy weapon. He calls back over his shoulder as he falls back behind the machine…

“Rodney!”

“I’m trying,” the scientist snaps back.

Rodney works frantically at the computer, his movements slower than usual. But they still do the trick. The cage device starts to hum as it builds up power.

Kenmore breaks into view. A few seconds later so does Anubis. She starts frantically waving at Sheppard.

“Back! Back!” She yells.

Sheppard backs away from the machine and feels his shoulder hit Ronon’s waiting chest. Ronon’s arm, blaster ready and set to kill, comes up beside John’s head. Both men stare down the hallway. Kenmore continues to run at them full tilt with Anubis trying to shoot uncontrollable arcs of electricity at her back. Jennifer looks up from Rodney’s side and sees quite clearly the bolts exploding on the floor and around the hidden door’s frame. Sheppard shouts again.

“Rodney!”

They’ve run out of time. Literally. Anubis is close enough and Kenmore is close enough that she has no choice but to dive. She leaps into the room, lands on the floor at the base of the machine, and slides underneath it. Barely. Despite the pain and tightness in his gut, Ronon reaches down his free hand and helps her up.

Anubis charges into the room.

The cage immediately sucks Anubis down into it, closes, and locks. Its locking mechanism’s light on top switching from red to green.

Everyone stares at it as it sits there emitting a high-pitch satisfied hum.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Rodney gapes breathlessly, his effort has finally taken a toll on him. For the first time since coming to in the isolation room and actually being able to realize that he was in fact in an isolation room in Atlantis, he seriously considers just collapsing into the chair bumping up against the back of his knees.

Then clicking starts coming from the machine.

“Oh no,” he begins.

They all start backing up against the wall behind them. The green light on the machine switches back to red.

Rodney reaches down to the console, “Oh no.”

Anubis suddenly explodes out of the machine. A far more menacing darkness than before. And reaches out towards Kenmore with wispy tendrils of black energy. Suddenly a burst of stark white light erupts out of the top of the cage device. Anubis is caught in its rays. Everyone shrinks at the brilliance. Ronon wraps his arms around Kenmore as she ducks into his chest. Rodney doing the same for Jennifer as she takes cover in the side of his neck. Sheppard cringes, trying to duck his head, but never letting go of his weapon or losing sight of the threat for a moment. The room fills with hideous screaming. Who knew a cloud could scream? They chance coming out of their individual recoils and watch Anubis be quickly engulfed by the white light. And ripped apart by it. Molecule by molecule. Disintegrated. Then the brilliant white light simply fades away as quickly as it had appeared, leaving the room as though it and Anubis had never been there in the first place. They all stare at the empty space above the machine for long minutes in silence…  Nothing happens… and nothing continues happening as they slowly ease out of their defensive positions.

“Well I guess we learned one thing today,” Sheppard swallows, his eyes fixed on the cage machine still humming contentedly; waiting.

“What’s that,” Rodney asks, “The Ancients do intervene in some things?”

“I was thinking more like don’t piss them off, but yours works too.” Sheppard finally loosens his grip on his pistol.

“No,” Kenmore speaks up from the continuing embrace of Ronon’s arms, her cheek still against his medical shirt covered chest, “I think it’s more like you really can’t go home again.”

Sheppard and McKay uneasily look over at her then at the same stretch of empty space she’s riveted by, that Anubis and the white light had filled moments ago, as Teyla and Lorne burst into the room from the staircase behind the group with guns at the ready.

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