Characters: Rodney, Radek, Ronon, John
Word Count: ~2400
Summary: A surprise off-world raid leaves Rodney separated from his team and in charge of protecting a group of scientists.
A/N: Written for as a Christmas present for leesa_perrie (What? It's close to Christmas.) who wanted anything Rodney. Thanks to kristen999 for the beta. All faults mine.
“Johnson… Johnson!” Rodney snapped his fingers. “Johnson!”
The scientist jerked, her head whipping up from the console she was coaxing to life. “Yes?”
“That one can wait. We need to power up the satellites first. Go help Van Halen.”
“Van Heusen,” Zelenka corrected.
“Of course.” She hurried away, her face flaming.
Rodney shook his head in frustration. “I don’t have time for daydreaming.”
“She was not daydreaming. She didn’t realize you were talking to her.”
“I kept shouting ‘Johnson.’”
“Her name is Johansson.”
“Whatever.” Rodney connected his tablet to the main console and frowned. “Power levels are low. We have less than forty hours to get this place up and running.”
“I know the deadline, Rodney. We will be ready before the comet enters the solar system.”
He sighed. “We wasted so much time…”
“To ask permission of the local populace is proper. It is also protocol.”
“You didn’t have to spend three days sitting on a hard bench drinking tepid tea and listening to Uncle Fester drone on about tradition.”
“You’re right,” Zelenka waggled his brows with a smirk, “I didn’t.”
Rodney glared at him. “Next time-”
“McKay, this is Sheppard. Come in.” Sheppard’s tone was clipped, anxious.
Rodney exchanged a quick glance with Radek as he activated his earpiece. “This is McKay.”
“What’s your status?”
“Bringing the observatory online now. We’ve got-”
“What? No, no hostiles. What are you- Is that gunfire?”
The roar of bullets was punctuated by a few grunts and an inventive string of profanity.
“I can’t reach Bentley or Okuma.”
Rodney pulled the life-signs detector from his pocket and calibrated it to recognize the gate. “I’m reading eight life signs at the gate.”
“Are Woodward and Scott still with you?”
He readjusted the LSD. Six life signs. He raced toward the front, rushing past startled scientists and half-opened equipment cases. Hot air whistled through the cracks in the crumbling entryway, and he tripped over a small pile of rubble, gouging his palms and ripping the knees of his trousers. Before he could get up, voices drifted in from the outside. He crawled into the next room and to the warped door they’d propped open to peek out.
“Sheppard,” he hissed. “Woodward and Scott are down. Four guys who haven’t seen a shower in a while are going through their vests.”
Sheppard was quiet for a second. “Can you get to the gate?” His voice was tight, controlled.
“Are you kidding? They’re right outside. And they’ve got guns. Big ones.”
“We’re pinned down.” More gunfire and the unmistakable whine of Ronon’s blaster. “We’ll get to you as soon as we can.”
“Who are these people?”
“Apparently, the local magistrate forgot to mention the raiders that drop by on occasion. Sit tight. We’re coming. Sheppard out.”
Rodney peered out again. The raiders had finished stripping the marines of their weapons and gear, and were having a conference, shooting occasional glances toward the Ancient outpost.
“Oh no. Oh, God.”
He eased backward then crept down the hallway and sprinted to the control room.
“Get everyone in here now,” he ordered Radek. “Quietly.”
His gaze raked the gathered scientists. Only Zelenka had a gun. No C4 or flashbangs either, and wasn’t he spending entirely too much time around Sheppard and Ronon. Rodney flipped the safety off on his handgun as he studied the room. This was an observatory. No weapons of any kind.
“Rodney?” Radek prompted.
“Yes, yes.” Rodney cleared his throat. “A band of raiders has attacked the village. Four of them have taken out the Marines at the entrance to this facility.”
Murmurs rippled across the crowd as fearful glances were exchanged.
“Is Colonel Sheppard coming?” someone asked.
“No.” He held up his hands as the murmuring grew. “I mean, he will eventually, but not right now.”
“What are we going to do?”
Radek’s voice was surprisingly calm. Rodney’s heart was trying to beat a hole in his chest, his palms were sweating, and that strange tingling in his knees was back.
Every eye was on him. “Yes, well, um…”
Oh, God, he was the only one here who had any real field experience. He took a deep breath. He’d faced Wraith and Replicators and Genii. He’d even survived those grimy kids on M7G-677. What were a few raiders in comparison?
“Okay, you people are supposed to be the brightest minds in two galaxies. We’re surrounded by Ancient tech and our own equipment. The first person to come up with a workable weapon gets…the next day, no, two days off.”
Scientists scattered in every direction.
Radek’s brows arched. “Rodney, this facility is for data collection and analysis. I don’t think-”
“I know.” Rodney pulled him into the hallway. “I need to keep them busy so they don’t freak out and get us all killed.”
Zelenka gaped at him.
“A strange sentiment coming from you.” Radek looked impressed. “You have changed.”
“Well, don’t tell anyone. You’ll ruin my reputation.”
“That is unlikely.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Just…go see if there’s a back door to this place.”
“What are you going to do?”
He pulled his nine mil. “Hope they stay outside.” He took a step then turned. “Have you ever fired your gun?”
Radek swallowed thickly. “Only on the firing range. I’m not sure I could actually shoot a person.”
“You’d be surprised what you can do when you have to. Listen, it’s up to us to protect them. If you hear gunfire, I need you to back me up.”
“Yes, yes, I- of course.”
Radek hurried back to the control room while Rodney slipped down the hall, certain that he’d lost his mind. Running toward the bad guys was the sort of insanity his teammates were afflicted with. What the hell was he doing? He wanted to panic, knew he should be panicking, but he didn’t have time for it. Panic would come later. People were depending on him right now.
He knelt near the treacherous pile of rubble that had tripped him earlier. Voices and the crunch of debris filtered in from the anteroom. The raiders were in the outpost.
His heart leapt into his throat, cutting off his air. Black spots danced before his eyes. Damn it, McKay, just breathe! Sheppard’s voice rang in his ears. Rodney spun, gasping, but Sheppard wasn’t there. He was alone, in charge of a bunch of geeks.
They were so screwed.
Way to stay positive, McKay.
Silently cursing Sheppard and the relentless optimism that dogged his every step, Rodney ran in a half-crouch back to the hallway, turning slowly to weigh his options. He saw crates of equipment. Maybe he could… No, that wouldn’t work. What if…
Who was he kidding? He wasn’t Sheppard or Ronon or MacGyver for that matter. He had cases of crystals and circuits, boxes of screwdrivers and wrenches, scanners and soldering irons and oscilloscopes and computers. Everything they needed to get an observatory up and running. Nothing to prevent the bad guys for killing them all horribly.
Behind him, boots ground loose rock into the stone floor. Rodney quickened his steps, hurrying through the door to the main room and stopped. Close the door, genius, his brain supplied. How obvious. At least Sheppard wasn’t here to say it. He waved a hand over the controls. The door creaked, echoing loudly. Every head in the room turned.
Rodney waved frantically at the door controls as footsteps pounded in the hallway. The door groaned, slid forward, whined, slid forward more.
A face appeared.
A gun rose.
The door squeaked.
The muzzle flashed.
Rodney dropped to the floor as the bullet dented the metal. He ripped the nine mil from his holster and shot the door controls. Sparks flew. The controls went dark.
Hands gripped his arms and pulled him upright. He shrugged out of their grasp, wiping sweat from his eyes as blood roared in his ears. “Where’s Zelenka?” he panted.
Jones, Johnson, Yohan, somebody pointed toward the back.
The door vibrated as P-90 fire began to shred it.
“Let’s go,” Rodney ordered, forcing himself to not move until everyone else was flowing toward the back. He’d underestimated how hard it was to be the last one out. His respect for his teammates grew, though he’d rather suck a lemon than admit it.
Zelenka, wide-eyed and pistol in hand, met them in the back hallway. “I heard gunshots!”
“Put that up before you shoot yourself. Or me!” Rodney tugged the life signs detector from his pocket. “Okay, the bad guys are still together and still trying to get through that door. Did you find a way out of here?”
Radek nodded. “This way.”
Rodney stepped to follow. “Oh, right,” he muttered to Sheppard’s voice in his head. “Take the six. I knew that.” He moved aside to allow the others to pass. “This really sucks.”
They wandered through the darkened corridor, breathing in stale, musty air and ten thousand year old dust mites. Rodney’s skin began to itch at the thought. He bumped into the person in front of him when the line screeched to a halt.
Rodney pushed to the front. “What’s the problem?” he hissed.
“I haven’t been able to open the door yet,” Radek replied. “I was working on it when I heard the gunfire.”
“And you dragged us down here?”
“You would have preferred to remain where you were?”
“No, and don’t change the subject.”
“I was not-”
“Just get the door open.” Oh, God. He sounded just like Sheppard.
“You sound like Colonel Sheppard.”
“Shut up.” Rodney glanced at the LSD again. “Uh oh. Two of them are circling around. We have to get out of here now.”
“I am almost…” The door jerked then slid open. “…done.” Radek smiled triumphantly.
Rodney checked for life signs. “They are coming from the right.” He peered out into the barren landscape. “Head toward those rocks over there.” He waved at a crop of red boulders then turned to the group. “Okay, people, follow Zelenka. Stay down and stay quiet.”
He was actually surprised at how well they followed his instructions as they filed past, scrambling and flailing like…like scientists being chased by crazy people. He hustled after them, hoping he didn’t look as ridiculous as they did, and dropped behind the nearest rock. The life-signs detector showed the two from inside heading down the back hallway while the other two would round the corner any second.
“Radek,” Rodney called, “get over here.”
Zelenka crawled next to him. “What is it?”
“What do we do?”
Rodney wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers and pulled his gun. “We, uh, we don’t let them hurt anyone.”
Radek jerked off his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt then slid them back on with a nod. “Okay.” He swallowed thickly as he drew his weapon, gripping it with both hands and bracing it on the boulder. “I’m ready.”
Only their ragged breathing and a sniffle from someone in the back broke the silence. When the first raider appeared, Rodney took careful aim and held his breath. The second man followed, and both headed to the open back door. The first one frowned, glancing inside then down, tracking the oh-so-obvious footprints in the sand that pointed straight toward Rodney and his people. His gaze locked with Rodney’s, and he smiled, raising the P-90 he’d stolen.
Rodney squeezed the trigger. The man jerked; red blossomed on his shoulder. The other two men spilled out the door, catching him as he staggered backward. Radek muttered something Rodney didn’t understand and fired. Stone flew as the bullet ricocheted off the wall. The raiders glared, aiming their weapons at the scientists.
Red energy rippled past, hitting one raider in the chest. Two more shots blew by before the first guy hit the ground. Rodney squeezed his eyes shut then looked again. All four bad guys were down.
“You ready to go yet?” Ronon propped a hip on a boulder and grinned at him.
“Well, it’s about damn time you got here.” Rodney stood and scanned the area. His little group looked scared shitless but nobody had any holes in them. “Where are Sheppard and Teyla?”
“Taking back the gate.”
“It’s just you?”
Ronon rolled his eyes. “There were only four little guys. That was a good shot, by the way.”
“Only four? I could have been killed. You could have been… Really?” Rodney grinned shyly. “You think so?”
“Did you kill them?” Rodney waved at the fallen men.
“Stunned. Thought I’d let the villagers have them.”
“What about the other raiders? The ones who attacked the village.”
“Already took care of them.”
Rodney stood, stretching his back. “Oh, ow. I think I pulled something.”
Ronon snorted a laugh. “Come on, McKay. Let’s go home.”
“Not a chance. We’ve got a comet to observe in,” he checked his watch, “thirty-seven hours.”
“He is right,” Radek piped up. “We are here; the danger has passed. We should finish what we started.”
Ronon clicked his radio. “Sheppard, McKay wants to stay.”
“Tell him-” A heavy sigh wafted over the connection. “Fine. Get them inside and secure the facility. I’ve got two squads on the way.”
Rodney activated his comm. “How are…uh, the Marines?”
“Stunned, actually. I guess the raiders preferred stealth.”
“Then why did they shoot at me?”
Ronon shrugged. “Didn’t need to be stealthy anymore.”
“Figures.” Rodney turned to the group. “Okay, boys and girls…” Tired, shaken expressions stared back at him. He was getting soft. Normally he wouldn’t care. Actually, he normally wouldn’t even notice. “Time to go home.”
“What?” Radek asked.
“What?” Ronon echoed.
Rodney sighed. “This isn’t life or death. There will be other comets.” It hurt less than he’d expected. “Besides, we’ve wasted too much time. We’ll never get this place ready.”
“Yes, Johns… Johansson?”
The woman glanced at the others then lifted her chin. “We’re already here, and we were close to getting the satellites online.” She blushed to the tips of her ears. “I’ve never been this close to a comet before. I’d really like to stay.”
Heads nodded around her. An unexpected flush of pride washed over Rodney. He scowled to keep the smile at bay.
"Fine. Let's get to work."