As Sheppard stood in front of the massive gate and sent through the IDC code, worry nibbled briefly at his mind. What if Lucius convinced his people not to let him back? After all, Sheppard had been downright rude to the man, and what if Rodney couldn’t stop them from putting up the shield? No, no. That was paranoid thinking, and if he didn’t get back, Atlantis would fall. He had no choice.
Sure, the Daedalus would be dropping by in about three weeks but every single Wraith in the galaxy could decide to drop by before then.
He felt relief as he stepped through the horizon. Not dead. Not a bug on the windshield, but that relief turned to bitter dust when he heard Rodney’s raucous laughter coming from Elizabeth’s office. The scientist was laughing himself silly over alien marmots. Couldn’t the man follow just one stupid simple order of staying away from the nuts? Rodney then explained so matter-of-factly but so happily that it took a second for the terrible impact of the statement to get through: Ronon had held Rodney to the wall till that drug took effect? Holy crap. And Elizabeth was wrangling up food? And they’d sent the rest of his team to the Wraith-occupied planet with Beckett in charge? Sheppard didn’t give a rat’s ass that Beckett could walk on his hands. He was ready to shoot Lucius right then and there.
The gate klaxons echoed, accompanied by Beckett’s radioed pronouncement that they were coming in hot – which meant only one thing – Wraith! Sheppard raced down the steps, horribly aware that nobody else was concerned – that they weren’t worried that people they knew and cared about could be injured or worse but then his missing people came bounding through the event horizon, laughing as though they’d just left a movie theater, carrying large bags of … herbs? Shit. Weed, smack, marijuana, you name it was something not worth risking their lives over! When he reached out for a bag, Ronon pulled his weapon and thrust it straight in his face. Ronon, the same man who’d forcibly pinned Rodney to a wall. A wave of cold fear swept over Sheppard as everyone – people he knew and trusted with his life – turned against him, suggesting that it was he who had the problem. The image of Ronon’s lethal gun just inches from his face, and the man now covetously gripping the plastic bag full of that strange herb, drove it all home. A strategic capitulation and retreat was in order, not hard to do because even the armed guards were looking at him like he was the enemy. He swallowed his pride, meekly apologized and blamed his cold for his aberrant behavior.
Retreat alive, but come back for another day, or hour - as soon as he could figure how to launch a fight against an entire city.
Sheppard went back to his room and locked the door. As a second thought, he placed his skateboard in front of it, just in case someone decided to break in, a feat Rodney could easily accomplish. At least an intruder would trip over that, give him a moment to defend himself. He fell back on the bed, exhausted. He really shouldn’t be tired as heck, he’d only been up since six in the morning, but it seemed more like six the previous morning with the way things were going rapidly downhill. He shut his eyes, trying not to see Weir fawning over their new guest like he was Brad Pitt…Carson making a total jackass out of himself, and now McKay? Teyla and Ronon? He could have sworn he’d heard Zelenka giggling hysterically like some schoolgirl with a crush.
He’d have to be careful or else Ronon might shoot him or worse if he ticked off Lucius. None of them could see it, but Lucius had them all eating out of his hand, and Sheppard didn’t ignore the possibility that if he pushed too hard against the new ruler of Atlantis, he could find himself with broken bones or drugged in the infirmary.
Shaking off the myriad of nasty scenarios, he got up and rummaged easily through the side table’s smaller drawer. He found the bottle. He shook out the one last Advil and swallowed it. Great. Not that it did any good against the cold. “It’s just a cold, albeit this galaxy’s version of a cold,” Beckett had told him several days ago. “Sergeant Carstairs only had it for a week and he’s perfectly fine now.” Yeah, and Sheppard distinctly remembered how blah the 6’3” Marine had dragged around the base for that week. And it didn’t help that all the standard Earth cold remedies brought with the expedition had the standard “do not operate heavy machinery” cautions on them, which would discount jumper flying, so…. he had to put up with sneezing. Of course, he could have taken some of that stuff, gotten spacey and let Rodney fly the jumper…
Hmm… that gave him an idea. Of course, for this plan to work, he’d require certain equipment: Rodney wouldn’t mind it if he stole his laptop. After all, the scientist wasn’t going to be using it, at least not rationally unless he was going to calculate alien marmot populations.
Sheppard hadn’t had to fake looking miserable when he leaned against the door of the infirmary, putting on his best downtrodden expression and telling Beckett that he felt something was wrong with him. His cold had felt worse than before, so he wasn’t exactly lying, yet Carson of course instead took it as a confession of the man’s weakness that he hadn’t fallen for Lucius’ charm, but that he was finally coming around to seeing how wonderful Lucius truly was.
Fat chance. As soon as they were both out of sight of the other medical personnel, Sheppard withdrew the stunner, turned and shot Beckett into oblivion.
Getting the unconscious man to the jumper was a little more difficult. The doctor was heavier than he looked. Fortunately everybody was so zonked on the love that was Lucius that the one or two people who spotted him didn’t go “Hey, what the hell is going on?!” and instead just ignored him. It freaked him out a bit because one of those people was a guard who was supposed to make sure Atlantis’ personnel remained safe, not get abducted and dragged off into jumpers by obviously deranged colonels..
Fortunately, whoever was in charge of the control room was equally as slow in reaction time so before they could shut the bay door, he’d fled in a jumper. He knew they’d send people after him so he cloaked the jumper, just minutes before a groggy Carson finally came around. The trouble was that it took over half an hour to get to the mainland. All the while, Carson complained. No, he whined. Whined about being kidnapped, whined about being away from Lucius, whined about how he couldn’t be away from Lucius. Maybe it was good that the cold was spreading so maybe he’d get clogged ears and soon couldn’t hear the griping.
Once they landed, he dragged out Rodney’s tablet and tried to explain the whole situation to Beckett. For a brief excited moment, it seemed that Carson actually got the idea of ‘an addictive personality,’ until he snapped ‘It’s rubbish!” Sheppard ignored the man’s grim expression, once again trying to explain the logical progression of the situation. It was simple. They were all drugged, and Beckett was the only person who could keep the whole of Atlantis’ population from going through the same horrible withdrawal that Lucius’ people were going through on the other planet. “But you’re doing it to me right now!” Carson whined horribly. Sheppard couldn’t take it anymore. He punched the doctor in the arm, ordering the man to “Buck up!” The physician had to create an antidote or else they were all doomed. Sheppard expected another outburst, but not a crying jag. He hadn’t expected that. Watching the man weep uncontrollably over how Lucius needed him was just awful. And it was giving him a bigger headache.
The mainland was big - very big, so Sheppard took the risk and brought Beckett outside. After a while, the man had to relieve himself and getting him out of the ‘claustrophobic confines’ of the jumper seemed to stop the whining. Sheppard wondered when the doctor had become like Rodney, but maybe it was the effects of the herb. The man had finally stopped his crying – thank God – Sheppard had begun to worry the physician was having a breakdown. First being held by Wraith not long ago on that planet and now being abducted again, couldn’t be good for the man’s psyche, but he quieted down and was now more amenable to going through Rodney’s data. There was the glimmer of cooperation and in the last hour, Sheppard hadn’t heard any words about electing Lucius to ruler of the universe. The fact that Beckett was actually looking a bit miserable was making Sheppard feel a little better.
Until he heard the familiar deadly whine, then Ronon’s lethal weapon against the back of his head. His own team had found him. Just wonderful. He should have known, really. Damned cold.
At least Ronon had the weapon on stun. Or so he said. If they took him back to Atlantis, there was no way in hell he’d be able to save his people. It was worth the risk.
TO BE CONTINUED…