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21 November 2006 @ 11:28 am
SGA Fic: Mindscape Chapters 7-9/15 (FRT-13)  


Nondum Omnium Dierum Sol Occidit


After Dr. Millhouse had chased him out of the isolation room, Radek hadn't
been able to return to the lab. He knew he wouldn't be able to focus on any task
he attempted. As much as he complained about the arrogant man, Rodney was a
friend to him. This time, it wasn't a case of hypochondria. Rodney was in
serious trouble.

Radek sat down in the informal waiting room Carson Beckett had created not
long after their arrival in Atlantis. He worried about Rodney. It had been
almost half an hour since Rodney had flat-lined. The fact that it was taking so
long, that was probably a good thing. Dying was quick. Radek sighed. He should
be going back to the lab and work. Just as he wanted to get up, Dr. Millhouse
came through the door of the infirmary. Her face was a mask of impassiveness and
it was impossible to tell what news she was bringing.

"Dr. Zelenka, I thought I might find you still here..."

"How is Rodney?" Radek interrupted her, not in the mood for small talk.

"He is alive, for now. But his neural activity has dropped considerable
during the last half hour and I'm afraid this is a continuing trend. Dr. McKay
is in a deep coma right now."

Radek nodded. "What's the prognosis, doctor?"

"Without knowing more about what caused his condition, I'm afraid I can't be
very optimistic. At the moment, his brain activity will sustain autonomic
functions, but if he continues to deteriorate like this, he'll eventually suffer
brain death."

"How long does he have?" Radek hardly dared to ask, but he needed to know the

"Dr. McKay's condition worsened considerably over the last hour. He would
have had several days, but now, a day, maybe less. I'll have to consult with Dr.
Beckett and Dr. Biro, but I don't think they'll know much more than I do. We
need to know what caused Dr. McKay's condition in order to find a

"Yes. Can you let me know as soon as anything changes? I'll be in the lab."
Radek had an idea. He had not forgotten what Rodney had told him, just before
everything had gone to hell, but he hadn't been sure how much credit to give a
dying man. At least, he was going to check it out; he owed Rodney that much.

Radek walked out into the corridor and tapped his radio.

"Dr. Weir, this is Dr. Zelenka. I need to speak with you; it is urgent."

He got no reply. "Dr. Weir. I need to speak with you. It is urgent, about Dr.

"Dr. Zelenka. Dr. Weir is off-world at the moment. There has been an incident
involving Major Sheppard. It's pretty chaotic, so unless the world is ending,
you'll have to wait." Radek recognized the voice of Dr. Taylor.

"Yes, world is very well ending. Zelenka out." Radek clicked out his radio
and stormed off to the lab. Where were people when you needed them? He was going
to do this alone if he had to. Rodney had figured out a way to tap into the main
computer from the lab sometime last year after the Genii invasion. The access
protocol was locked up tight in a file on Rodney’s computer, and it was just a
matter of finding it. Radek let himself into Rodney's private lab and switched
on the laptop.


Ten minutes later, he had Rodney's password hacked. The man was too easy,
using Colonel Carter's locker combination. He would have thought the man would
go for something classier. But that was Rodney. Finding the access protocols was
harder than figuring out the password. Radek had to wade through denigrating
progress reports about the staff, unfinished letters to McKay's sister and
dozens of mission reports until he found what he was looking for.

Twenty minutes later, Radek was king over Atlantis. The power of Atlantis
sensors was at his fingertips. Oh well, at least until someone found out. But
that someone would have been Rodney, or him, so no one was going to know about
his little experiment.

He scanned for the presence of life-forms first. Nothing unusual showed and
the log for the past day didn't show that an intruder had been aboard Atlantis.
Looking though the logs for energy consumption, nothing had spiked during the
last forty-eight hours either. He did find something unusual, looking for energy
discharges during that time frame. He found what he was looking for.

It was at the right time and in the right place. About an hour before Rodney
had first collapsed, an unusual burst of energy had been released inside his
quarters. Two life-forms had been present at the time. The door to his quarters
had activated just before the energy surge and just after. It had been an
attempt on Rodney's life and Rodney himself had told him who the do-er was:
Colonel Sheppard.

If nothing else qualified as the end of the world, this did. Radek wasn't an
alarmist, but he needed to warn Elizabeth. Sheppard could very well be out to
kill her as well.

Radek tapped his radio.

"Taylor, I need to talk to Elizabeth, it's life-and-death. And I'm not

"She's off-world right now, Dr. Zelenka. I'm not even sure who is in charge."
Dr. Taylor was starting to sound nervous at the predicted Armageddon.

"Sheppard is going to kill people, so get security to infirmary. Do

"Are you serious?"

"Just do it!" Radek screamed in exasperation when suddenly he became aware of
a soft ticking sound. Ticking sounds were bad, very bad. Things that went boom.
Radek dove under the table and there it was. The device looked to be Wraith and
blinked in a menacing green. He tried to detach it, but it wouldn't budge. He
lost valuable seconds, before he recalled to just run, run and hope the door
would close behind him fast enough and seal the explosion within the lab. Rodney
would be so pissed at him for destroying his precious lab, but Radek would
gladly listen to Rodney ranting and raving if it meant that Rodney recovered
from whatever Sheppard had done to him.

The doors slid closed in agonising slowness as Radek sprinted away. He wasn't
safely around the bend yet when the explosion rocked the entire level.


Only the single moon and the stars over M2X-118 faintly illuminated the
grassy plain stretching out in front of the Stargate. The Jumper was parked
aside and Dr. Beckett and the other medics immediately hurried to help
Lieutenant Ritter with the wounded.

"Dr. Weir. My men have secured the area and we are ready to start a search,
but with the darkness, we can only rely on the LSDs to aid in the search. The
lack of visibility will make our efforts difficult." Simmons explained

"Do you have any further information yet, Sergeant?" Elizabeth inquired. She
didn’t have any experience to help in a coordinated search; her skills were in
negotiations. But for that to happen, Simmons and his men needed to find John
first, preferably without having to shoot him.

"We don't know anything new yet. We're planning to make a sweep by Jumper, as
soon as Dr. Beckett has taken Mars and Lorne back to Atlantis. I tried the
Ancient database, but there is nothing that can help us in there. Clearly they
never explored this planet. Without the Jumper's sensors, we have no chance of
finding the colonel in the darkness. He is almost thirty minutes head start on
us by now."

"I understand. I'll check with Dr. Beckett and see how much longer he needs."
Elizabeth headed over to the Jumper.

Carson and Dr. Biro were getting the injured soldiers placed on the

“Carson, how much time until you’re good to leave for Atlantis?”

Carson looked up from the still form of Major Lorne. "The sooner the better.
I hope Simmons knows how to fly these things steady."


Nick's world was moving too fast. He tried to stop and noticed that he wasn't
even moving; he was lying still, and the world was moving.

Suddenly, with a yank, the sliding motion stopped and only Nick's head
continued to spin. He must have made a noise, because someone started talking to

"Major Lorne, can you open your eyes for me?"

He recognized the accent; it was Beckett.

Nick risked a blink, but the bright light sent pain through his head, so he
slammed his eyes shut immediately. He felt sick from the moving around. Without
warning, a hand touched his neck. The pain was instant and agonising. Nick
screamed. He tried to roll out from under the pain, to move away, but his body
wouldn't obey him.

"Sorry, Major, the local should take effect any moment. I need to have a
closer look at the wound on your neck."

"Hurts like hell," Nick whispered. It felt like his neck was on fire.

"I can imagine. You were grazed by a bullet. You were very lucky." Carson
didn't sound like he meant it.

Nick didn't feel like it either. But before he could say anything else, he
drifted off again.


Elizabeth wasn't sure she preferred the Jumper to a commercial airplane. Sure
the leg room was gigantic, but the prospect of a ten thousand year old craft
zooming through the nightly air made her a slightly uncomfortable.

"We can only scan small segments at a time. It's going to take a while before
we find him. But if he is on the planet, I don't see how he could have escaped.
We'll find him." Sergeant Simmons tried to reassure her obvious discomfort.
Elizabeth nodded. She had heard it all before.

They had been in the air close to ten minutes already, flying one circle
after another. It was after almost twenty minutes, when Simmons finally found a
single life sign down on the planet.

"I can't say for sure whether it's human. But it's pretty isolated. The
problem is that we are over a wooded area. I'm going to have to set us down
further away in the nearest clearing. It's about 400 meters from where we picked
up the life sign."

"That might be a good sign. If Sheppard hears the Jumper, he might panic,"
Elizabeth considered.

"I'll take us down. You should stay in the ship, ma'am. There is no telling
what he will do. He tried to kill Mars and Lorne back at the gate.

"I'm not willing to believe that. I'll stay back. I want to try to reason
with Sheppard." Elizabeth was insistent. She didn't want to lose another good
man without trying everything in her power.

The Jumper set down without a hitch in a small clearing. The forest was quiet
and dark as the three men plus Dr. Weir stepped out of the craft.

"I'll stay back with the Jumper. Sheppard might try to steal it, even if we
lock it. The gene might enable him to break in anyways."

"We'll stay in contact," Simmons ordered. "Keep the lights down. We don't
want to spook him."

The night was thick black down in the forest. Sheppard would hear them, long
before they would be seen. Elizabeth had to struggle to keep up with the men,
who were used to marching though rugged terrain, but she was determined to see
this mission through. She was not going to let John Sheppard down.

They made silent progress. Simmons checked periodically if Sheppard was
already down on the LDS. Finally they were able to track his signal straight
ahead down a small ravine. They had gotten lucky; it was a strategic

Simmons motioned for Elizabeth to stay back between the trees as he and
Lieutenant Shaw moved to approach the ravine. Elizabeth watched from her post in
between the trees, but soon the two men disappeared. All she could hear was the
rustling of trees. She prayed the two soldiers would manage to corner Sheppard
without panicking him. They were armed with Wraith stunners, hoping to bring him
down without harming them.

A sharp scream pierced the night, followed immediately by the sound of
stunners being fired. Once, twice, then again the stunners were discharged.

"There he is." Someone--it sounded like Lieutenant Shaw--yelled and she could
hear movement in the underbrush. More stunner fire, then it was finally silent
in the woods.

"Dr. Weir." Simmons voice crackled over her radio. "We have him. Had to stun
him three times, but we got him. We're taking him back to the Jumper now. We'll
meet you there?" It was phrased as a question. Simmons knew how little
experience she had in the field.

Elizabeth glanced at the darkness surrounding her, and then she answered.
"I'll meet you at the Jumper."





Radek's ears were ringing when he finally dared to lift his head and look up.
He had survived. He scrambled back to his feet, noticing no injuries, except a
slight headache and possibly permanent injury to his eardrums. On wobbly legs he
walked back towards the lab. The signs of the explosion were clearly visible.
The doors had been completely blown out and Rodney's lab had been reduced to a
blackened room filled with debris. The biting smell trickled at Radek's eyes and
he had to sneeze. Wiping at his eyes, he reached for his radio; he needed to let
someone know what he happened. He was surprised no one had responded yet. An
explosion like that had to have rocked half the City and alarms should have gone
off all over Atlantis.

A sudden hand on his shoulder made him spin around. One of the new
marines--Zelenka didn't know his name--stood there, his mouth moving, but Radek
could only hear garbled sounds. The young soldiers seemed concerned.

Radek pointed to the direction of the destroyed lab. The marine frowned, said
something else and another hand had Radek by the shoulder, this one belonging to
a medic. Radek let himself by walked along the corridor and cooperated as the
medic checked him over for injuries.

The medic seemed to be confident that Radek had remained relatively unharmed
in the explosion, but then he pointed to his ears and to the gurney, signaling
Radek that they were making a trip to the infirmary. Radek fervently shook his
head; he had work to do. Sheppard had tried to kill Rodney and he was probably
behind the surprise under his desk as well. Radek wanted to examine the bomb. He
needed to know where the components had come from; maybe it would help them find
out who was behind Sheppard's seeming betrayal.

But the medic was insistent about the visit to Carson's domain.

At least Radek could convince him to walk there under his own power. Arriving
in front of the infirmary, he was stunned. The waiting room was overfilled with
injured expedition members, mostly scientists with minor injuries: scrapes,
bruises and small burns. Radek dropped in one of the few remaining free seats,
looking around with worry. It looked like bombs had gone off all over the city.
The damage had to be enormous. McKay was in the infirmary, hopefully still
holding on, meaning he couldn't afford to sit around waiting until it was his
turn, especially when others had more severe injuries than ringing ears.


In less than five minutes Radek was down at the Power Core. Using the trick
he had gleaned from Rodney just before the bomb had gone off, Radek went to
access the main system from where he thought he'd go undetected.

Bombs had gone up in four locations: Rodney's lab, the Jumper bay, the
control room and the main lab. Damage reports hadn't been filed yet, but Radek
was able to call up the Ancient diagnostics and found alarming news.

Power supply of the city was fluctuating heavily. If he didn't fix this, they
could all blow up. The bombs would look like firecrackers in comparison to an
unstable ZPM.

Radek accessed the power grid, trying to find a way to remotely dial down the
ZPM. They couldn't risk shutting it down, not if they didn't have to. They would
lose all protection for the City and be vulnerable to an attack.

It was no use; the ZPM and the system tying into the power grid of Atlantis
were too well protected from any interference. It was ironic; the technology
that had been supposed to protect them would kill them in the end. Radek had to
do something else to stop the impending overload of the unstable ZPM. The ZPM
couldn't supply all the power they were drawing and if there was a failsafe, it
wasn't kicking in. Radek had to minimise their power consumption by shutting
down one system after another. It was the only way.

Radek's fingers flew over the keyboard as he navigated the Ancient system,
trying to find a way to conserve as much energy as possible without exposing the
City to danger.

The weapons banks--they needed them armed, in case this was a Wraith plot.
The shield--they needed to be able to get it up in case the Wraith attacked.
They wouldn't be able to keep it up for much longer than a few minutes. The
damage to power grid had made sure of that, but Atlantis was going to need all
they could give her. The deep space sensors--they didn't necessarily need them.
They still had the Wraith device they had appropriated from the Genii, to tell
them if Wraith were on their way. He could shut them down to conserve energy.
What else? Radek's mind was racing. He needed to act fast before the ZPM went

There were so many areas that needed power: the infirmary, the kitchen, the
control center. The lab had been partially destroyed by the explosion, but they
would probably need all the power they could get to find out what had happened.
Radek searched through the data, trying to find out what consumed the most
power, always keeping on eye on the ZPM at the same time. The energy
fluctuations were getting dangerous. He wished Rodney were there. He was the
chief expert on the Ancient technology. Radek wasn't sure how close they were to
an overload, but the fluctuations were bouncing off the scale. If the ZPM
overpowered, the whole City would blow up. Radek closed his eyes for a second
and made the decision. There would still be the Naquadah generator powering the
critical areas of the city. He could only hope that Rodney's way in the back
door set up enough control to let him interfere with the ZPM. Radek entered his
authorisation code and waited. For a second nothing happened, then the computer
shut down and the lights went down. The ZPM had powered down. Radek slid to the
floor. For the first time, he noticed that his ears were still ringing. He had
been so focused that he had shut out his environment. He closed his eyes and
wrapped his shaking arms around his raised knees. He had taken a big chance and
might just have condemned Atlantis. If the Wraith choose this moment to attack,
they would be utterly vulnerable.


Miko Kusanagi found Radek sitting in the same spot almost an hour later. At
first, she didn't even see her colleague. Sent to check out why the ZPM had
suddenly failed, she had gone down to the power core, armed with a flashlight.
Miko didn't feel at all comfortable, down in the bowels of Atlantis, especially
now the lights were out and the sensors were down. The Wraith could be hiding
down there.

When the beam of her flashlight brushed over Radek sitting with his back to
the computer console, Miko let out a scream before she realized who she was

"Dr. Zelenka, what are you doing down here? We have been wondering what
happened? Why haven't you contacted anyone?" Miko started asking questions, but
stopped talking as she took in his shaken appearance.

Radek didn't reply, but he got to his feet. He didn't appear steady and was
holding on to the edge of the console.

"I think I should be going to the infirmary." Radek spoke
uncharacteristically loud and he wasn't looking at her. Miko was starting to be
seriously concerned for the other scientist. After what had happened to Dr.
McKay, maybe something had happened to Dr. Zelenka as well. Maybe they were all
in danger.

"I'll bring you to the infirmary," she said firmly and stayed by Radek's side
ready to try to catch him should he lose his balance. But the engineer kept
steady, one hand at the wall all the way to the infirmary.

Miko was shocked at how crowded the waiting room alone was. Every available
seat was taken and not by people anxious to hear how their friends and
colleagues were doing, but by injured Atlanteans. Most of them seemed to have
suffered only minor injuries, but still, there were at least fifteen people
waiting to see a doctor.

"You should find a spot to sit down." Miko said to Radek. "I'll see what I
can do to get someone to see you." She feared that Radek might have hit his
head. He displayed some of the classic symptoms that Dr. Beckett had mentioned
in his first aid course. Miko was starting to wonder whether she should have
brought Radek to the infirmary instead of just calling for a med team from the
Power Core.

Radek remained standing where he was, looking somewhere into space beside
her. He seemed genuinely out of it. Miko dreaded leaving him standing around
alone but there were enough people in the waiting room in case he fell or
something else happened.

Miko took heart and thought open the doors to the infirmary. Nobody seemed to
notice her, at least nobody was yelling at her to get out. Dr. Beckett was
currently busy with a complaining Calvin Kavanaugh, so Miko thought it safe to

"Dr. Beckett..."

"He's busy." Kavanaugh snapped before Carson could reply.

"Miko, I'll finish with him in a minute." Carson was wrapping Kavanaugh’s
wrist, which looked only mildly burned, but Kavanaugh was almost as big a
hypochondriac as Rodney.

"I'm done." Carson turned to her.

"I know I should have waited," Miko apologized. "But something's wrong with
Dr. Zelenka. I found him sitting at the Power Core. I think he'd hit his head
really hard. It's like he isn't there at all when I'm talking to him. I'm just

"Well, that sounds like he might have a concussion. Is he still sitting
outside?" Carson took her seriously.

"I hope he hasn't walked away." Miko knew she shouldn't have left Radek alone
out there. If he had walked away it would be all her fault.


Miko and Carson were at his sides, both talking but he couldn't hear what
they were saying. His ears were no longer ringing. He could hear buzzing and he
was feeling dizzy. He allowed them to push him through the double doors into the
infirmary. Inside it was even more crowded than it was outside. Every bed was
occupied and he caught the sharp glare of Dr. Kavanaugh, who sat on a bed with a
miserable expression on his face.

Carson touched his arm and stirred him over to a bed. Radek figured he wanted
him to sit down and complied. Carson disappeared again into the melee, but Miko
remained standing next to him. Her presence made him feel uncomfortable. He
could see her talking and stopping occasionally, but he couldn't hear what she
was saying and didn't know what he was supposed to say in response.

"I can't understand." Radek tried, not sure how loud he was speaking or how
much noise there was in the infirmary.

Miko had heard him and stared at him, worry and shock on her face. Radek
thought he should probably be worried too, but his head was buzzing too

Miko was just running off when Carson reappeared. Miko snagged him by the
sleeve and talked to him with flurried motion of her hands. Carson frowned, but
quickly came over to Radek. He was writing on a clipboard, and then held it for
Radek to see.

Were you injured in the explosion?

Radek shook his head. Beckett still looked at him questioningly, so he
explained. "I saw bomb under Rodney's desk, then I ran. The blast knocked me
over in the corridor."

Carson nodded. Then he wrote more. Did you hit your head?

"Maybe. My ears are ringing and I hear buzzing since then. I was so busy with
ZPM; I thought I was just too close to the explosion..."

Temporary, Beckett wrote.

Despite the chaos around them, Carson took his time to pronounce judgment. He
seemingly wasn't satisfied with the reaction of Radek's pupils, frowning and
sending him for an x-ray. Radek reluctantly complied, following the nurse on
wobbly legs. The Ancient version of x-rays worked without the gamma radiation
and supplied an immediate diagnostic with the scan.

It took only a few seconds for the red light of the scanner to move over
Radek, and then the machine finished. Radek sat back up and saw the nurse who
had performed the scan smiling at him. She said something and Radek could hear
grumbling sounds over the obnoxious buzzing noise.

She signaled for him to wait and a short time later, Carson appeared with
her. He was scribbling on his clipboard.

Your scan is fine. You have a slight concussion. Your hearing should
return in a few hours.

Radek nodded. "Thank you." Radek felt dizzy, but as long as he didn't have to
stand or walk around, he was confident that he could work. Atlantis had been
plunged into a crisis. They needed everyone at work, at least until the City's
defenses were operational again.

Just as Radek was ready to leave, Carson held him by his sleeve. Radek looked
at him. Carson's lips moved. Radek heard grumbling sounds and he had a fairly
good idea what Carson was trying to tell him. Carson was reaching for his
clipboard to write, but Radek held out a hand to stop him.

"Yes, I know. I will go to my quarters and rest. But only for a few hours;
the City needs me. McKay is in the infirmary and the ZPM is down. The Wraith
could attack at any moment."

Carson blanched at the news. He bent down to scribble furiously.

ZPM down?

“The Naquadah generator powers the infirmary in case of power outages. I had
to take the ZPM off-line. It was going to explode. Boom.” Radek didn't waste any
word and wiggled from Carson s grip.

"I promise, I will go and rest."

Radek did indeed intend to rest in his quarters, after he spoke to Elizabeth
about his suspicions. He wished he could speak to Carson about what Rodney had
told him. If Carson could use the information to help the scientists, Radek
wouldn't hesitate to tell Carson. But he needed to make sure the City was safe
first. That would have been Rodney's first concern as well. He needed to speak
to Elizabeth, tell her what he had learned and convince her to take action
against Sheppard.


Vibrations were running through his entire body, subtly but persistent
shaking him from a deep void. It was like waking from a long sleep, John came to
consciousness disoriented and only slowly becoming cognisant of his
surroundings. It took a few moments for him to realize that there was nothing to
see, he was enveloped in darkness. He could feel the vibrations underneath and
within his body and he could hear a faint humming noise, but he couldn’t see.
Panic gripped him hard and he involuntarily gasped a deep breath of air and
jumped to his feet. At least that was what his mind intended, his body never
followed suit, he lay weak and dormant, not feeling anything beside the
vibrations and a faint pressure. John concentrated, willing himself to open his
eyes. For a second, he succeeded, and a ray of light penetrated the darkness he
was trapped in. He wasn’t blind, but something was wrong with him. He couldn’t
move, as much as he tried, he couldn’t open his eyes again.

Suddenly he realized what might have happened. It took for a slight tingling
sensation in his hands to realize that he had probably been hit by a Wraith
stunner blast. The vibrations and the humming, he hadn’t been able to place
these sensations. He wasn’t in Atlantis, but maybe aboard one of the Jumpers.
Normally, he wasn’t so acutely aware of the sound of their engines, but robbed
of his vision for the moment, his brain was bound to zero in on his remaining

The tingling begin of the return of feeling to his body was tormenting, he
could feel his limbs being there, but beyond the awareness of their presence he
could feel nothing. John tried to open his eyes again, and this time he managed
to catch another second of precious light.

"I think Sheppard is awake." A gruff male voice sounded somewhere above

Hearing the presence of another person was reassuring. One of his team would
stay with him, even he had merely been stunned. But the voice wasn’t familiar,
Sheppard tried to open his eyes and see who was there, but all he was able to
see was a distorted glimpse of a tan face. This wasn’t right. John wanted to
twist away from the stranger, but his body wasn’t obeying his commands.

John heard movements close by and then he felt pressure on his arm.

"It's all right John, we are on our way back to Atlantis." He recognized
Elizabeth’s voice. He was among friends. John didn’t understand what Elizabeth
was doing aboard a Jumper, but he was relieved that she was nearby while he
waited for the darkness to recede.



Non Defendi Homines Sine Vituperatione Fortasse Posse,
Neglegenter Defendi Sine Scelere Non Posse



Nick became aware of something heavy resting on his neck. It was pressing him
down, cutting off his air supply. Nick tried to draw a breath, but the vice
around his neck only tightened further. He was being choked. His eyes flew open
and were assaulted by the bright white lights of the infirmary. Pain shot
through his brain and squeezed his eye shut again instantly. Nick tried to bring
up his arms to pry loose the unseen hands of his assailant, but he was being
held back and he couldn't move his arms up more than a few inches. He was in
panic; he was going to die if he couldn't breathe. Nick opened his eyes again
against the offensive light and tried to sit up. He hadn't moved an inch up when
pain stopped him. The pain was everywhere—in his neck, flaming down in his chest
and up his head. The seconds of effort had him panting and sweating hard as he
waited for the pain to fade away. The constricting force on his throat had
lessened, and he could finally get some air. It seemed a fair exchange for the
crippling pain.

Nick only then noticed the voice at his side. He couldn't make out soothing
words at first, but the tones were soothing. A blurred face appeared above him
and suddenly the pain started dimming rapidly, pulling him down back to


Radek sighed with frustration. His hearing was improving as Beckett had
promised, but much of what his colleagues were saying was still being drowned
out by the persisting noise in his ears. He had finally retreated to solitary
work in one of the Ancient labs. Illuminating his workspace with a storm light,
he was bending over a tray of bomb fragments that had been secured from Rodney's
lab. Radek was the only one who had seen one of the bombs before it had gone
off. Dr. Taylor was still working on recovering footage from the security
camera. Radek did not hold out much hope. If the bomber was still in the City,
and Radek suspected as much, he probably hadn't left a trail leading to their

The bomb fragments were tiny, but uniform shards of metal, not more than five
millimeters long with pointed ends. Like fragments off a grenade, they would
slice into anyone near the explosion, amplifying the damage done. Someone had
wanted more than just to harm the City; the bomber had wanted to inflict maximum
damage to its inhabitants.

Radek passed the scanner over the fragments, careful to know as much as
possible about them before examining them more closely and exposing himself to
possibly more danger.

The scanner clearly identified the fragments as Naquadah with an unknown
organic substance. The Ancients had used Naquadah in their technology, most
importantly to create the Stargate technology. The bomb had looked Wraith in an
eight-arm spider-like design, blinking green from a single eye. It had reminded
him of the organic Wraith technology, but he supposed it could just as well be
of Ancient origin. Atlantis was hexagon shaped with its six long arms reaching
out into the sea.

Radek rubbed his forehead. He was getting nowhere sitting at a desk,
pondering the container of bomb fragments. Radek grabbed the container firmly
with both hands and headed for the infirmary.


Radek found Carson nearly asleep at the desk in his office. Dr. Millhouse and
Dr. Biro were still patching up the last of the victims of the explosion in the
infirmary. When Radek came in and didn't see Carson, he was surprised and
wondered if he was with someone more severely injured or if something had
happened to Rodney while he had been gone. Dr. Biro quelled his concerns by
pointing to Carson's office. With a stern look, she said something and Radek
caught some of the words, understanding he should be resting in his quarters and
not wandering around. Radek decided to pretend that his hearing hadn't started
to recover yet and headed for Carson's office.

Carson was startled as he came in and he stared at Radek.
"Radek...rest…here?" Radek heard Carson speak, but couldn't make out all the
words yet over the buzzing sound.

"Carson, I'm sorry, but this is urgent." Radek set down the container on
Carson's desk. Carson eyed it and its contents warily, but said nothing.

"I have been looking at bomb fragments. They are Naquadah, coated with
organic substance. We have to find out where the bomb came from." Radek tried to
make Carson understand why the situation tolerated no delay. They had to find
the identity of the bomber before they could cause any more damage.

Carson nodded. "I... If…you…to bed." He looked like he needed some sleep

"I can't go to bed. There is a theory I have to check out. I promise, once
I'm sure, I will rest." Radek meant it.

Carson wrote his question down with an expression of alarm on his face.
What do you know?

"Yesterday, I was seeing Rodney. It was just me talking to him, when he woke
up. He was conscious less than a minute, but he claimed Colonel Sheppard
attacked him. When I asked Rodney how he did it, he only said energy. I
didn't say anything because I didn't believe Rodney’s mind was clear when he
told me and I didn't want to accuse Colonel Sheppard without verifying first. I
went to check out the sensor logs and I found an energy discharge in Rodney's
quarters the morning before he collapsed. But before I could tell anyone, the
bomb went off." Radek's hands went flying.

Carson's expression went from disbelief to shock to anger and then he
unleashed a fiery tirade on Radek. He only seemed to recall Radek's temporarily
impaired hearing when Radek stood and watching him yell was unmoved.

You should have told me! You nearly got two people killed!

Some of the effect was lost in print, but the words still hit Radek hard. He
hadn't meant to hurt anyone. He merely hadn't wanted to accuse an innocent

Carson had scribbled down more.

Sheppard took Mars and Lorne hostage, he shot both of them and now he's
missing on M2X-188. Elizabeth is there with some of the marines, they are
looking for him.

Radek flinched. He'd had no idea how bad it was. His recent actions made
Sheppard look a likely match as the bomber. He had tried to flee the City at all
cost, even risked killing his own men.

"How are Lorne and Mars?" Radek asked after a pause when he had himself under
control again.

Lucky. They are going to be fine. Carson wrote the clipped reply.
Let's go to the lab.

Carson led the way to the medical lab behind the infirmary. He didn't say
another word and averted Radek's gaze. Radek felt hurt, but he understood why
Carson would be so upset. Rodney was a good friend, and Carson would have had no
reservations to trust his word. Rodney's recent brush with the enzyme had
instilled caution in Radek and he had wanted to make sure there was more to
Rodney's claims, were more than semi-conscious ramblings.

The lab was a jumble of Earth and Ancient technology. The Ancient devices
were often superior, but it would take centuries to catalog and study every
piece of technology found in the City. Even Colonel Sheppard, who had the
strongest ATA gene, couldn't figure out everything.

Carson set the clear container down on the scanner bed and the scanner above
activated, sending down a red line passing over the container. They realized
what was wrong within moments. The container started to vibrate as soon the
scanner beam made contact.

"Shut it down," Radek yelled at Carson as the scanner beam stuttered and the
fragments started dancing inside the container, bouncing against the walls. It
was no use; Carson was white-faced staring at the container. He showed no
reaction to Radek at all. Radek was powerless, without the gene; he had no way
of controlling the scanner. Radek shook Carson by the shoulder as the scanner
beam crept further over the container, millimeter by millimeter and the Naquadah
shards were slamming hard against the inside of the vessel containing them. It
was going to shatter if he didn't stop this. They were drawing power from the
Naquadah generators. Unfortunately, this was a medical lab and was powered by
emergency power in case something needed to by analyzed quickly.

The shards continued to hammer against the walls of the container. No matter
what material the transparent container was made of, the Naquadah shards would
destroy it.

Radek had to do something and he wasn't the sort to engage in
self-sacrificing bravery. He left that to Colonel Sheppard. Radek gathered speed
and knocked down Beckett, who, thanks to superior body weight and strength, only
stumbled backwards, and then he lunged for the container. He tried to avoid the
scanner beam as he grabbed the box firmly. Still it felt like a knife was
cutting through his hand. It took only a painful second, and then he held the
case in his hands. The box was still rattling with shards trying to escape, so
Radek ran. He ran as fast as he could for the door. Panicking, with a
potentially deadly weapon in his hands, Radek raced along the darkened corridor.
Without the ZPM, the City wouldn't be able to protect them from whatever was on
the Naquadah shards. If it was some sort of toxin, or worse, a virus, it might
already be spreading and they had no warning. Radek raced towards the infirmary.
He was hoping to make it to the isolation rooms at the back of the infirmary.
The Naquadah generator powered the essential isolation protocol, which was the
only choice Radek could think of if they were to survive.

Finally, Radek reached the last isolation room. He managed to press the door
panel and throw the box inside before he slumped to the floor. Radek heard a
muted blow from inside, and breathed a sigh of relief.


Thousands of hot needle pricks brought stings of pain to John's limbs, but he
still welcomed the return of feeling, of any sensation in the darkness
surrounding him. The recovery from paralysis hadn't been so painful the last
time. This time, his muscles contracted under the pain and he was powerless to
do anything. The voices of the others in the Jumper were an anchor tying him to
reality. He'd had time to listen. There was Elizabeth. She was sitting to the
right of him, reassuring that he was going to be all right and was going to be
back on Atlantis soon. The two men in the Jumper spoke little, but enough to let
John know that they were there.

John was starting to feel Elizabeth's touch on his forehead and arms, another
indication that his nerves were starting to recover from the blast.

“John, we are going to be in Atlantis any minute now. Lieutenant Shaw is
about to dial Atlantis. Dr. Beckett will be waiting in the Jumper Bay. You are
going to be fine.”

John forced his eyes open to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth, needing to connect
a face with the voice. Elizabeth looked down on him with a deep furrow of
concern on her face. John didn't understand why she was so concerned over a
stunner blast. John wanted to reassure her that he was all right.

“Liz'th.” The name came out a slurred whisper.

“Yes, John, I hear you.”

There was pressure on his chest, and at first John assumed it was Elizabeth's
hand touching him, but the pressure intensified, sending pain along his stunned
nerves. He let out a sound of protest, but the pressure did not ease.
Elizabeth's voice disappeared beneath the rushing and sluggish, rhythmical
pounding that began to fill his ears. John tried to hang on to her concerned
words, but his hearing faded away as pain threaded its way through his
recovering muscles. John screamed.


“I don't think you managed to do any additional damage with your little
stunt. The isolation room is sealed off for now, until they can figure out what
mean little surprise you discovered.”

Carson was back on his feet and finished examining Radek for the second time
that day. Carson tried to shut out the infirmary, filled with injured expedition
members. He fought to focus on just a single patient; he could hardly recall the
last time he had had the chance to sit down. The day had been an endless stream
of wounded pouring into the infirmary --any doctor's nightmare.

Radek nodded. “Has Dr. Weir returned yet? I need to speak to her

“No, she isn't back yet. I wonder what is keeping them. But it is good to see
that your hearing has returned to full capacity. Still, I'd like to keep you
here for a few hours.”

Before Radek could protest, Carson held up his hand. „I know you are a busy
man, but you do have a head injury. Working yourself into the ground won't do
anyone any good. Just lie back down and try to rest. I will let you know if
anything new develops.”

Radek said nothing and leaned back on the pillows. He didn't look too happy,
but at least he appeared to accept Carson's advice. Carson shot one last look at
the scientist before he turned away.

He was thinking about what Radek had told him. He was still angry about Radek
holding out on him. He should have notified him immediately when Rodney had
regained consciousness. Any data about Rodney's illness could help him create a
treatment strategy.


It was just one word and there were many reasons Rodney could have said it to
Radek. Carson's first thought was energy weapon, but they didn't have any in the
armory, except some Wraith stunners they had managed to pick up. A Wraith
stunner couldn't have the effects they were seeing in Rodney. Rodney would have
been disabled right away. Instead his decline had been gradual. There had to be
some clues about the cause. Scans, blood work, Carson had worked through it all,
but he would go through it all again, if there was a chance that he might
discover the crucial piece of data.

Retreating to his office, Carson gathered the exam results of both Sheppard
and Rodney, fervently hoping to find a common link. He pushed a white board in
the already crammed space and tacked the scan images up in consecutive order. If
there was a common patter, he had yet to find it. Carson had speculated that
John had developed increased activity in a region of the brain that was
responsible for the psychic ability of some of the Athenians but he had never
gotten the chance to follow up on his theory. Was it possible the colonel had
attacked Rodney through mental powers? The Ancients had mastered the transition
between the corporeal and the energy state, so it was possible, but it had taken
them millions of years of evolution and genetic tampering. There had been
cases of mere humans achieving similar abilities in the SGC files, but without
evidence he wasn't going to go there just yet.

Rodney's scan patterns showed just the opposite. Carson stared at the scans,
going over them from back to front, and the other way around, hoping for the
revelation. When nothing would come to him, he got up to pour himself a cup of
coffee from his long cold pot he had brewed hours ago. The smell of the cold
coffee nauseated him, so he decided to brew some fresh coffee after all. Carson
filled the small machine. As he saw the first drops drip into the pot, it struck
him. He had been missing it all along. The bigger picture. Carson abandoned the
coffee without a thought and was back at his desk in an instant, spreading out
EKG printouts. He had been monitoring Rodney's heart when he had first returned
under the influence of the enzyme. Carson had worried about the stimulating
effects, but Rodney had been all right, physically at least. After Rodney's
collapse, Rodney had started to display signs of intermittent bradycardia. The
issue had been secondary at the time in Carson's mind; he had focused on finding
a neurological cause for Rodney's illness.

With the seizures Rodney had been experiencing when he had first fallen ill,
a suspicion was forming in Carson's mind. He had performed every conceivable
test for venoms know to Earth and a few known to the Ancients, but nothing had
turned up.

Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, naturally occurring in the human body, it
would be an untraceable poison, at least if they were on Earth. He still had the
blood samples taken from Rodney during the last few days. Maybe the Ancient
technology would help shed some light on Rodney's mysterious illness after

Carson was about to rush to the lab when his headset radio activated.

“Dr. Beckett, you are needed in the Jumper Bay. Major Sheppard has been
injured,” Dr. Taylor informed him over the headset.

“What's his condition?” Carson wanted to know to be prepared for the

“Unknown, all Dr. Weir said was that he’s unresponsive and seems to be in


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