Also, icon by shusu. *blinking at it adoringly* Pretty when homicidal would also have been a godo title for this fic, yes?
I so haven't been in this good a mood in *forever*. God.
Earlier parts; one and two.
Warnings: Please see this entry for series warnings.
Carson's fit starts like clockwork, screams echoing down the hallway, metal chair hitting the metal wall with an off-note, echoing bang that makes Rodney's ears hurt and John tense up beside him. Beneath the blanket, Rodney desperately enters his calculations, despite the fact that Carson's really taken it up a notch today--Elizabeth's encouragement or Carson's inspiration, he can't be sure.
"The door locks at both ends of this hall," John had told him, sketching out a diagram on the floor. "They lock themselves in when they do patrols before they unlock to get out. Good for security, bad for them. It leaves them four to eight men vulnerable for the entire length of the hall with backup having to get through both sets of locks." John had leaned over him, tracing a dusty red path with one finger. "Ford's the best armed, but his aim's shaky and his concentration shit. These two first." John traces a line, grinning. "Once we have the hall secure, you work the doors open."
The plan calls for all forcefields to drop simultaneously, with the understanding that each block is on its own. Priority is to get control of the computers before they're gassed, which, considering the people they use for tech work here, won't be hard if Rodney has a laptop and five minutes.
John stays quiet on the edge of the cot, fully dressed beneath the thin blanket, and shivering in the cold. Rodney thinks, not for the first time, that second priority is getting environmentals back up to par, because John's cold feet are beginning to drive him crazy. The hazel eyes are huge and dark, fixed on the hallway outside, his entire body attuned to the barracks, waiting for the activation of the locks that signals the last third shift patrol.
"Shields," John had said succinctly to Elizabeth. "Once the shields are up, no one can get in or out. Communication blackout." John had waved a hand idly, looking bored. "Atlantis' weapons systems are deactivated, but they're still here. Shouldn't be a problem."
They both hear it at the same time--the soft sound of fingers entering code, the almost inaudible voices of men about to go off shift. Rodney reaches over, placing a hand on John's thigh, muscle thick and tense and almost *shaking* with anticipation.
Across the hall, Elizabeth's shifted to the edge of her cell, crossed-legged and relaxed to casual view, Teyla leaning against the edge of the cell behind her.
They wait as the patrol starts, passing the first two cells, Dumais and Kusanagi, the four cells of Athosian prisoners, and Elizabeth makes a soft sound just as they come parallel to John's cell.
Carson screams like someone just killed his mother in front of him and Rodney, sliding to his knees, enters the last three digits and hopes to God this works.
When the fields sputter and die in anticlimactic dark blue fizzles, Rodney thinks, oh my God, it worked.
The thing is, watching John with Bates hadn't really prepared him for when John went lethal. John makes violence as good as sex, *better*, and Rodney wonders dazedly what he looked like when he took out the first Asgard embassy, if anyone born had ever looked so good.
One broken neck and four zat shots later, Rodney comes out to see the other prisoners just beginning to emerge, a little dazed and a little put out, because Elizabeth had revved them up for a serious fight in the halls and John kind of spoiled that. Coming over, Rodney watches John study the cowering Ford in the corner with cold, bright eyes, zat trained neatly on his head.
"Search them," Elizabeth says somewhere behind them, but John's focused on Ford.
"How the hell did you get through the psych tests?" John says softly, and Rodney frowns, looking down to see Ford pressing harder against the wall. Like calls to like, he remembers abruptly. "Rodney. Can you activate one force field?"
Rodney sighs, pulling out the palm pilot. "I can, but why--"
"Command codes." John's head tilts. "And Ford here would love to be helpful." Crouching, John grins. "We'll talk later." Firing off a single shot, John steps back, motioning to one of the men behind him. "Bates? Search him and put him in a cell and there's a private moment with that pretty little guard off block six in it for you."
Bates limps by and Rodney watches blankly as Bates picks up Ford's unconscious weight like it's nothing, dragging him to the room before throwing him inside. With another sigh, Rodney reactivates the shield, setting it for single room, then follows John to the locked door.
"Can you break it?"
Rodney frowns at the panels, then shrugs. "Low tech. Open it up, blow the interior out. The failsafes will kick in." Stepping back, Rodney tries not to find John's grin as hot as it really is as he pries open the panel with the edge of the zat, then steps back, pushing Rodney behind him as he takes aim and fires.
"Bates," John says as the smoke clears and the door trembles. "Stay with Elizabeth. Anything happens to her, you live long enough to watch your guts fall out. The rest of you? Fan out. Keep to the plan." John's head turns, eyes glittering dark. "Fuck this up, you'll deal with me. Gateroom, fifteen minutes."
Opening the door, John peers out, then turns to Rodney. "Ready?"
No shit. "Let's go."
Elizabeth had been difficult about what to do with alpha shift.
"We can't lock them out," John had said reasonably, head turning toward Elizabeth from the safety of Rodney's thigh.
"And we can't fight eighty fresh guards on top of third shift," Elizabeth had answered sharply.
"Okay, first, that was insulting. I can totally handle them. Second--you have some people on the mainland, right?" Elizabeth had nodded reluctantly. "Okay. When shields go up, there won't be any communication going out. What we don't want is to alert the *five thousand staff* assigned there that anything is wrong in the city by a mass of shifts running back. Not unless we drop a bomb and wipe out the facilities, and Rodney's got some people there he'd like to keep." Scratching his chin, John had closed his eyes as Rodney fondly stroked his hair. "And Lorne's there, and he's pretty cool. I'd like to keep him around."
"Lorne?" Rodney had heard himself say later that night, in a voice that he barely recognized. Funny how jealousy could do that to you. "Who is Lorne?"
John had grinned and pushed him into their cot, arms braced on either side of Rodney's shoulders. "An old buddy. You'll see. You'll like him."
Rodney had doubted that, but when John kissed him, he didn't worry. Carson would need new subjects when they got out anyway.
Coming down the corridor, John keeps in front of Rodney, but it's not like there's much resistance. And it makes sense.
The problem with an inescapable, technically advanced prison is that outside the cellblocks, there really isn't much in the way of defensive measures. Rodney picks up a laptop after John wipes out the tech staff in lab three, rubbing off the blood from the keyboard with the edge of his sleeve before tucking it under one arm, kicking a body out of his way and sitting down at one of the Atlantean interface stations. The moron hadn't bothered to log out when he heard fighting in the corridor, so Rodney finds himself with midlevel access. Pulling up the defenses, Rodney checks the shield and then sets the locks on all the gateship bays. Lifesigns show none of the alpha shift got out.
"Cool," John murmurs, looking over Rodney's shoulder. Reaching, John strokes a bloodstained finger in a line. "Here, here, and here, gas? Set it off."
Rodney tilts his head up. "Why not just blow it?"
"Gateships. Spaceships. Two armories and anyway, why damage the city if we don't have to?" He looks as disappointed as Rodney feels.
"Fine," he says, pulling up countermeasures in neat menus, amazed that anyone would make a system so easy to turn against them. "Ooh. Did you know there's a self-destruct code? Set for command level only." Tilting his head back, Rodney grins. "If Sumner tries, think you can get Ford to help override?"
John grins back, leaning down enough to brush lips in an electric kiss. "Absolutely. Got everything you need here?"
"Activating the ATA first," Rodney says, typing. "Carson's useless until he gets Laura back, but some functions--yeah. They'll respond better with the gene." Finishing up, Rodney sets a few more of the countermeasures off, then nods, ducking beneath the computer under John's amused surveillance and pulling two of the crystals. "Okay, just in case someone gets in here after us and tries to fuck around. Then we--"
But he stops, watching soft blue light begin to fill the room, earth-based lamps and harsh fluorescents lost beneath the cool light of Atlantis waking up. Turning in a slow circle, he watches Ancient computers slowly begin to beep to life, waking up with a stretch and a yawn, the city seeming to curve around them, around--.
Rodney had himself tested years ago, and he knows, *knows*--
"Oh my God," Rodney whispers, turning to see John surveying the bright room with wary eyes. "It's you."
First thing--Jesus Christ, his life can't get any better.
"All you need to do is think," Rodney says, talking fast. John, two fingers hooked in the back of Rodney's pants, gives him a wary look. "Oh please, Carson can feel it, even if he whines about it too much. Think on, open, activate--hell, just think of something you want, and if the city can give it, it will." Doors are suddenly marvels of ease--no need to work manual locks, they open smooth and wide every time John comes close, corridors lighting up around them, John beginning to grin, and oh God, yes. Of course. Of course John would have the gene. "Okay, we have five minutes to get to the gateroom. What--"
"This way," John says, head turning, and Rodney follows when John lets go, getting a handful of John's shirt to keep him from getting too far away. "We need a better way to communicate."
"Atlantis has a communication grid built by the Ancients that came up when the ATA came online. I've seen examples of the earpieces." The guards use Asgard tech, not compatible with Ancient systems. "If we can get those--"
"It'd be easier," John says, and Rodney opens the laptop still moving, bracing it on one arm as he interfaces with the system.
"There's an armory--thirty feet straight ahead. But we need--"
"Let's see what they have in there," John says, sounding drugged, and Rodney thinks that just maybe, he shouldn't have said armory. But even a zat has its limits, and John's going anyway.
The door opens for John easily, and Rodney takes a second to enjoy the way John glows as he looks at the crates of P-90s in the corner, Berettas and M-16s, C4, grenades, things Rodney doesn't recognize but John does. Reverently, John tucks the zat into his pants, picking up a P-90 with the look of a man in a church. "Christ," John whispers, then slides it on, picking up two more handguns and a bag, dropping weapons and grenades in. "Ammo, ammo--got it," and dropping on his knees, John loads five guns in less time than Rodney to tell him they don't have time. Standing up, John grabs two black vests from a high shelf. "Put this on," he says, and Rodney sighs but puts it on, taking the gun John gives him and waiting as John gets a gun holster and straps it on. "All right," John says, looking almost post-coital standing there, playing gently with a utility knife, expression soft. "Now I feel better. You see those communication thingies?"
Rodney nods, mouth a little dry as he points, and John gets the box down, opening it up and handing one to Rodney before taking one himself. Rodney can hear static until John keys his, another Ancient system coming to life around them.
"This working?" Rodney hears in stereo, and he meets John's eyes with a smile.
John shoves them into a pocket of his jacket and, hooking a hand in Rodney's vest, pulls him into the corridor.
Elizabeth's team took the south entrance, leaving them the north. Conventional Asgard locks held the door closed beneath John's stare, but only barely, and Rodney steps back as John takes out the C-4, setting the timer before backing away, pushing Rodney down the corridor and into the wall, John's body shielding his.
He's almost deaf when John pulls away. Then a jerk, pulling him flat onto the floor when zat beams skim the air above them. John's hand on his chest holds him still.
"Give it a second," John says, slinging the P-90 around, shifting until his back is against the wall. Taking aim, he starts to fire, one bare foot pressed to Rodney's chest, a silent warning to stay down. In the distance, Rodney hears people screaming, but he's not sure who they are. John pauses, peering down the smoky corridor, and Rodney stifles a cough at the smell of burned metal and byproducts of the explosion filling the air. John's foot presses gently into his waist, nudging him, and Rodney scrambles for the wall, laptop clutched against his chest. "All right. You stay here--"
"You have got to be kidding me," Rodney says, pulling out his gun. John frowns, but nods shortly, standing up and pulling Rodney behind him as they approach the gutted door.
John keeps him back, though, as he peeks inside, but Rodney gets a look at John's smile suddenly bursts out, huge and happy, as he unslings the P-90, takes aim, and fires once. "Hey, Elizabeth. Need some help?" John waves a hand behind him, and Rodney comes up to look over his shoulder.
The gateroom looks like the scene of a massacre, bodies everywhere, Elizabeth lowering a zat with a contented expression while Bates and another man methodically go body to body and put bullets in every head. "Glad you could join us, Sheppard." Her eyes linger on the P-90. "Nice gun."
On the other side of the room, Sumner leans against the wall, a bullet neatly shattering one kneecap, gun forgotten on the floor beside him. Strolling over, John kicks it farther away and places a bare foot against Sumner's chest, Atlantis' lights coming on around him in welcome. "Nice to see you again, Colonel."
John, Bates, and a couple of the more military inclined lead sweeps the city and check the other prison blocks while Rodney and Grodin secure the gateroom and listen in using the Atlantis communication grid. Carson spends most of his time muttering in a corner until John shows up with Laura Cadman in tow, leaving her to bring Carson into coherence and give them all a little peace and quiet before Rodney shoots Carson himself.
"Sheppard," Rodney says as he starts bringing up the power grids. "You busy?"
The sounds of shooting drown out the response, then Sheppard drawls, "Not really, Rodney. Whatcha need?"
"A muffle for Beckett, but if you can spare the time? I need you to activate a few more things." First thing they need to do is get Carson in his lab and let him go as crazy as he likes. Early testing of the gene treatment on earth had been positive; surely the man retained enough sanity to recreate his work. Preferably now.
A glance at Carson curled up in Laura's lap isn't encouraging, though.
"We're almost done. Found some lifesign detectors in the jumpers."
Rodney rubs a hand across his eyes. This is more activity in a few hours than he's had for years. "What on earth is a jumper?"
The conversation is briefly derailed by another round of gunfire, and then John is back, sounding smug. "For the gate."
"Those little puddlejumpers?" Rodney can hear the amusement in John's voice. "Hey, can you bring the west pier online?"
Flicking a few keys, Rodney sighs. "Got it. How's it going?"
"We're almost done. Can Grodin get that manifest up? I've done a head count and we're still missing ten, not including the ones in the bays."
"He's decrypting it." Rodney shoots a sour look at Grodin, who winces before going back to his laptop like his life depends on it. Which it does, come to think. "All the blocks open?"
"No." John's voice changes slightly. "Six of them didn't get their heads out of their asses fast enough, so I'm leaving them until we decide what to do with them."
"If I can interrupt, gentlemen?" Elizabeth's voice slips between theirs. "I'd like to see you both." Rodney can hear her moving in her seat. "Have you gotten the gate operational, Rodney?"
"A long time ago," Rodney answers, checking the shield automatically. "What's so important that we need to stop our very important work? I mean, some of us have more to do than lay around and--"
"I thought," Elizabeth says, voice sharpening, "that you both might want a say in what happens next." She pauses significantly, then sighs. "Rodney. We're in this together. Let's figure out what we're going to do before Earth or the mainland figures out what's happened here. Conference room." She keys out, and Rodney hears John's breath release in a soft exhalation of air.
"Wait there for me," John says softly, then keys out, leaving silence behind.
Rodney finishes opening as much of the grid as he can, leaving the locked cell blocks locked, backed with Ancient tech so no one can change that but John. Eighty loose is enough to deal with, he thinks, nodding at Grodin as he gets up, just in time for John and Bates to emerge from the top level. At some point, Bates had acquired serious weaponry and a vest, looking crazier than usual. Unhooking his laptop, Rodney tucks it under one arm and follows them up into the conference room.
Elizabeth and the Athosian, Teyla, are already seated, and as John slums into the chair beside him, Bates on his other side, Rodney begins to wonder exactly what Elizabeth means about what comes next.