Category: Gen, Angst, Drama, H/C
Warning: threat of drowning but not graphic and no deaths
Summary: Something fails to work as expected and danger ensues.
Pairings: only friendships.
M. Rodney McKay, PhD, PhD; Colonel John Sheppard; Elizabeth Weir,
PhD: Ronon Dex; Teyla Emmagan; Dr. Carson Beckett; Dr. Biro; Katie
Spoilers: After Runner and Duet. Before Ghost in the Machine.
Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis belongs to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corporation. All other publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis or any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind.
The morning briefing was about to get underway. Dr. Elizabeth Weir was ready to begin. Colonel Sheppard had arrived a few moments before. Dr. Carson Beckett and Sergeant Bates were here when he arrived. Teyla arrived within moments and that left Dr. Rodney McKay.
"Does anyone know what's keeping Dr. McKay?"
Colonel Sheppard tapped his comm unit. "McKay. Everyone is waiting on you for the morning briefing. Will you be long? I suppose we could all have another cup of coffee, but that will use up the five cups we save for you." Sheppard's half smile said he didn't anticipate a problem.
McKay answered in a rush. "Sheppard. Major problem with the transporter. They have to go offline, like ten minutes ago."
Sheppard lost the smile and rose to walk-jog to the control room. "Chuck, lock the transporters down. Put me on the intercom."
"Yes, sir. Can't lock it down until I know there isn't anyone in transit. It'll take a moment." He pressed a few more buttons. "They register clear. It's locked, sir. Intercom is live."
Sheppard took a breath and calmly relayed what he knew, which wasn't much. "Attention ... everyone. This is Colonel Sheppard. There seems to be a glitch in the transporter system. Sorry, it's the stairs for everyone for a while. When we know more we'll announce it." He nodded to Chuck to cut the intercom.
He reached for his comm unit. "McKay, can you..."
"Do you need any help?"
"No. Yes! Send a medical team to my lab."
"Are you hurt?"
"No. Not me." But coughing could be heard in the background.
"Zelenka. He was transporting to level 5 and ended up on Sub level 12."
Dr. Weir and the others had come to find out the situation. She was as surprised as the others. "That's a flooded section!"
Rodney must have heard. "Yes, yes. Luckily he can hold his breath and the electronics in that transporter still worked, more or less. He was able to put in the location for the transporter down the hall that we use all the time because it's closest. It transported him and all the water in the room. He washed out into the hall like a fresh caught fish. We heard the water like a giant flush, and then the coughing."
"Is Radek alright?"
Rodney sighed heavily. "Yeah. He sounds like he's coughing up a lung but he seems okay otherwise. Is a med team coming?"
Dr. Beckett answered quickly. "Aye, I dispatched a team as soon as I heard, Rodney. Just keep him warm if ye' can until they get there."
"Right. Well, Simpson's watching him now. I'm trying to figure out what went wrong. Miko's double-checking the lockout to make sure everyone is accounted for. I'll let you know what I find."
Morning briefing had been postponed to late afternoon; everyone was present except McKay. John sighed quietly and reached for his comm but McKay rushed in with a grim look on his face. John just sat up a little straighter. The tension went up a couple notches on everyone's faces in the room.
"I know. I know. I'm late. And I wish I had better news." Tired glances passed around the room. "The zpm is on its last legs as we all know. Small glitches are adding up fast and they're becoming bigger glitches and might soon become deadly." Rodney took a long breath and let it out slowly. "It might already have become deadly."
Elizabeth's little gasp got everyone's attention. "What? Not Radek." She glanced at Carson.
Beckett was quick to reassure. "No, no. He's fine Elizabeth. Or he will be. His lungs got a shock with Atlantis' ocean water so we're watching him closely, but I've got him on a wide spectrum antibiotic. He's stable and we expect him to be fine."
Everyone's attention went back to Rodney. "We took a head count early on but a few people were missed. So we contacted each person, and we've located almost everyone. For several hours we thought everyone was accounted for. We thought one of the botanists, Katie Brown, went to the Athosian village to take samples of some wild ... whatever ... The Puddle Jumper pilot and a couple of marines had permission to stay overnight to help the Athosians with planting and maybe do some fishing. They thought Katie changed her mind because nothing had been loaded in the jumper; no sample cases, sleeping bag, or duffle. They were the last group on Atlantis that we called, well, because they weren't ON Atlantis."
John was livid. "And they didn't call to check on her before they left?"
Rodney grimaced. "And they didn't call to check. But we didn't call them on the mainland about their whereabouts either until this afternoon because we thought the list was correct for this trip. But the scientists can be a little lax with calling in, especially when they're on the city. The Marines figured she just got caught up in her work. And she was here on the city, not left behind on another planet. I'm sure they thought she was fine... I hope she's fine, but we can't find her life sign."
Elizabeth sagged where she sat. "Oh, no." Everyone around the conference table looked to be in shock. It could have been any one of them. "Colonel, we'll need search teams immediately."
"Sheppard wait up."
John just kept walking.
"Sheppard. If the teams are gearing up to search Atlantis I need a few minutes to make assignments and to get ready. Can you slow down already?"
Sheppard finally slowed so Rodney could catch up. "I think you'd be more useful here working on the glitch."
"Yeah, maybe, although right now we're doing basic circuit tracing, trying to find were something zigged instead of zagged. But the Away Teams are working together for the search and I'd really like to be there. Besides, Katie's one of mine."
Sheppard finally slowed to a stop. "I know. I'm sorry. My men should've followed protocol."
"Yeah. But they didn't. And my people, who count on exactness in science, they can be so stupid with their own safety sometimes. But that's partly my fault. Hopefully she's still alive. It isn't like I can give her hell for a transporter malfunction."
"McKay. We've only begun to set up a search. Maybe we'll find her okay, maybe not, but don't blame yourself. You can only yell at them so much before they stop listening altogether. We just need to make sure the protocols are enforced. They're for everyone's safety. Everything gets lax over time and we can't afford to let that happen. The Marines are mine. I'll make sure they remember next time."
Rodney muttered, "Oh, please. Let's not have a next time."
The next morning briefing was subdued but everyone was on time and no one seemed to want to start.
Elizabeth softly cleared her throat. "It seems we have no good news to report on the search for Dr. Brown. Colonel Sheppard, is there anything else to add?"
"We've completed the regular search grid. And can I say that it's crazy that we even have a regular search grid." At that almost everyone sighed. "I know. We do the best we can but crazy things happen here. If anyone has ideas on how not to get lost in the city just let me know. Right now, Dr. Brown is still lost. MIA. I know no one wants to consider it, but considering what happened to Radek, it could already be too late."
McKay added, "He was actually very lucky that he landed in a transporter that could still receive and send in the network."
"Well, searches are still ongoing but we're still only covering areas of the city that have already been cleared for use by the expedition. If you think it's wise, and I'm not sure about that myself, but we could move further out, but only through major routes in the uncleared areas. We don't have the time or the manpower to search everywhere, and as with Radek's trip, many areas are not safe or are flooded. And it's slow going with no transporters."
"Alright, Colonel. Thank you. Dr. McKay, do you have anything to add?"
course I do. I'm not just twiddling my thumbs down there..."
"Dr. McKay. Please."
"Right. That's not helping. Uh, I've got some of my people still tracing circuits and doing diagnostics, but also going over security tapes."
Carson asked in surprise, "You don't suspect any foul play, do you?"
"No. No. Well, I hadn't really considered that." He stopped to think for a moment. "No. The glitches are real and we have to start there while we have time to find her before... well, before it's too late. It's unlikely, but not impossible, that her life sign is being blocked by some type of shield or unknown material."
Elizabeth wondered, "What are you hoping to find on the tapes?"
"Well, we know what transporter she went into already. But we're searching to make sure she didn't exit somewhere we don't have access to. If she did exit, then there's some other reason she's missing."
The comm unit beeped in John's ear. "Colonel?"
"McKay. What's up?"
"Well, we can't find any exit for Dr. Brown. We've checked readouts for every transporter in the city that was working at the time. Radek used the same transporter that Dr. Brown did only it was almost twenty minutes later. We have only one report for a transporter in a flooded area, and that was the one Radek ended up in."
"What about the glitches? Could the readings be wrong?"
Rodney's sigh was audible. "I know. I can't be 100% certain, but I don't think she arrived anywhere."
"Are you telling me she's stuck in there?"
"If we're lucky she's stuck in the transporter buffer. Since we know what transporter she stepped into we've done our best to eliminate any other locations. Hopefully she hasn't been locked in there for the past few days because there is no life sign registering. It would also be good if her transport wasn't interrupted. If her signal was somehow scrambled but the transporter deposited her back there, that would be very bad."
"Yeah. Can you get her out? If she's stuck in the buffer?"
"I don't know. That's why I called. I need to check that transporter, the one she was in. I need to check everything, inside and out, top to bottom."
"Do you need help carrying stuff?"
"No. I just need a basic tool kit and my laptop. Uh, meet me there?"
John suddenly understood why he called. "Yeah, buddy. I'll be there as soon as possible. If I'm delayed just wait for me."
Rodney sounded less tense. "Okay. Right. There are dozens of things I can check before.... Well, before you get there."
As Rodney came out of the stairwell he could see Sheppard and Ronon already waiting, and Teyla was walking up to them from the other direction.
Rodney looked a bit flustered. "Hey. I didn't mean to take you all away from searching or whatever. But, if you didn't have anywhere to be, well, thanks."
Teyla nodded once and then asked, "What will you do first?"
Rodney fidgeted a bit before reaching for an LSD. He fiddled with it for a moment, then scanned the area of the transporter. He grimaced and fiddled with the scanner again. He shook his head and lowered the device. "This whole section is dedicated to different labs. I've remove this one from the lockdown protocol for the time being so it can send and receive. All the others on Atlantis can still receive, just in case she's stuck and the transporter can send her to wherever she was heading if I can find a way to get her out. But so far, nothing. We're going to have to open it up."
"Alright." John said firmly. "Everyone move ten feet down the hall. We don't want to be in front of it. Knowing our luck there could be explosions or something."
Rodney looked grim. "Or something."
"Come on McKay," and Ronon grabbed his shoulder to ease him away.
"I'm moving. I'm moving." Rodney rubbed half-heartedly at his shoulder. They were standing well down the hallway. "Sheppard, it's open to commands. You just have to think open at it."
"Okay. Here goes..." and the door slid smoothly open.
Rodney tried to step around Sheppard, but Ronon got there first.
"Huh. It's empty."
Rodney perked up at that and in a couple of quick steps he was beside him. "Well. That's, uh, that's good. I guess. I'll get my laptop hooked up to the panel and see what I can find out."
Sheppard grabbed his arm. "Check the panel out here first. Don't go in until you have to."
"Outside first. Colonel's orders."
"Oh, like I'm one of your grunts. I'm the Chief Science Officer, and I know what I'm doing."
"And Security is MY business. Outside first."
Rodney sighed, acquiesced, but continued to grumble.
It proved slow going, but Rodney wasn't one to take stupid chances, and a scrambled transporter symbol wasn't something he wanted to leave to chance. He wasn't a reckless man, like someone else he could name. But everything he tested came out normal. There had to be something. He had Sheppard tracing circuits on another laptop, and Teyla passed him tools. Ronon just leaned against the wall and looked bored. He felt a little ridiculous taking up everyone's time like this.
"Hey, look. You guys don't have to keep me company. I've done diagnostics all over Atlantis without a babysitter. I – I really appreciated the company, you know. But this could take hours longer."
Ronon spoke up first, surprisingly. "We've already searched everywhere we can. This is where we lost her. This is where we'll likely find the answer."
"Yeah, yeah. Okay."
Rodney finally bagged up his tools to move inside. "Well, the answer has to be inside, probably in the control panel or the directional transporter key. I've checked all the circuits I can from here."
Ronon crossed his arms as he leaned on the wall opposite the door. "I'll stay here."
"Fine. But I could use some help. You could pass me tools. Or better yet, I could really use some coffee."
"If you need coffee that bad then you should take a break."
"Well, time waits for no man. Things to do and all that." He continued to mutter under his breath what sounded like, "Botanist to save."
Ronon and Teyla exchanged a glance. Teyla said, "I will pass tools to you, Rodney. It will help pass the time."
Rodney didn't even look up, but kept on with typing on his laptop. "Yes, yes. Uh, thanks, Teyla. Where'd Sheppard go anyway?"
"Chuck called the Colonel about a cracked crystal that they needed to replace right away, but neither you nor Radek were there to authorize taking one from the Growing Chamber. He knew the Colonel was familiar with the item he needed. Colonel Sheppard said he knew just where it was so he went to take it to him so the scientists could keep working."
"Good. They don't need to get distracted. We've got enough work orders and research projects to keep us busy for years even without one crisis after another. Sometimes I feel like I'm running in place and nothing is ever really finished."
Sheppard arrived back in time to hear that. "Yeah, you probably feel that pressure more than anyone else. How is this project coming? Are we any closer to an answer?"
Rodney sighed, and his shoulders sagged. "I wish I could tell you for sure. A few minutes, a few hours, a few years. However long it takes is what it will take."
Another hour and Teyla asked someone to take her place. There were traders coming back from a market offworld and she wanted to be there for their debriefing. Offworld commitments were still being attended to. They couldn't afford to aggravate allies, and the traders might have information about enemies and allies both.
"Thanks, Teyla, for the help. I'm sure McKay would say that if he pulled his head out of that panel for a minute."
"Yeah. Thanks." Rodney absently waved a hand and looked up as Teyla left the transporter. A wire that connected a panel circuit to Rodney's laptop was dislocated from its position when Rodney moved and the transporter door slid closed. Teyla looked panicked as she whirled around quickly and waved her hand over the sensor to open the door. But it failed to open.
Sheppard was right beside her and he, too, waved his hand over the sensor while thinking Open Open Open. Emergency Open. Nothing happened.
"McKay! Open the door. Open it now. McKay!"
Ronon shouldered him aside and pried at the door with his fingers. It wouldn't budge. Sheppard was only an instant behind him, prying with all the strength he could muster. They worked side by side with nothing to show for it. They finally had to give up.
"Teyla, how long has it been?"
Teyla, unable to reach the door, and without any tools or useable weapons was standing just to the side. She said in a badly shaken voice. "Minutes. Several minutes."
Chuck's voice came over their radios. "Colonel Sheppard. There's a transporter incident near the main lab."
Sheppard looked furious. "What KIND of incident, Campbell? Report!"
"Sorry sir, it deposited Dr. McKay like it did Dr. Zelenka. Alive, sir. Alive. Wet and yelling by the sound of it."
Ronon leaned forward to place his hands on his knees, Teyla managed a shaky breath, and Sheppard sagged against the wall.
"Chuck, we're heading there now." "Colonel Lorne."
"McKay wasn't injured, sir. He's already on the way to the infirmary to be checked out though."
"I want a guard on this transporter. Around the clock until we get this corrected."
"Yes, sir. Right away."
"Have Dr. Kusinagi check over the readings for this transporter and the one on sub 12. Something's wrong somewhere."
"On it, sir."
"Ronon, would you guard it until a security team gets here?"
Ronon took a deep breath to steady himself. "No one's going in there until McKay says so."
Sheppard winced as they got close to the infirmary. McKay's voice wasn't terribly loud but it was interspersed with coughing fits. Dr. Carson Beckett's brogue was music to his ears. He knew Rodney was in good hands.
"Rodney, spare what voice ye' have left. It'll only be worse tomorrow what with swallowing sea water and then yelling."
"I al – coff – most drowned! Again! IN Atlantis this time." Another small cough was followed weakly by a mutter, "Maybe that's destined to be my epitaph. First in the other timeline, and now twice in this timeline."
"Laddie, you can't think like that. Besides, I have it on good authority... your authority... that ya don't believe in destiny."
"Well of course not. Superstitious – hack-coff – nonsense."
"There's the Rodney McKay 'a know. Now, here are your antibiotics. After you take them you can settle in for the night..."
"Yes. Tonight. All night. Besides what almost happened and swallowing half the water in the transporter, you are stressed and exhausted. You need a break and I'm goin' ta' make sure you get one." When Rodney tried to interrupt again Carson added, "If you're good I'll put you in with Radek, he's been fighting to get out, too. That way there'll be company for ya' both. Now, no mass escape. Biro's on duty tonight."
Rodney's sigh was loud and followed by a small fit of coughing. "Biro? But the coughing's getting better. -coff- Really it is."
Carson didn't even bother with an eye roll, he just stared him down.
"Okay, okay." He saw Sheppard and Teyla waiting at that moment and was half way out of the bed when a glance at Carson made him think better of it.
"Eh. None of that." He turned to John. "Colonel, he's all yours as long as ya' make sure he stays in this bed until we're ready for him." He went away muttering to himself. "Maybe bunking him with Radek is a bad idea. They'll keep each other up and working all night." He stopped quickly and turned. "On second thought it might be better if you stayed right here in this bed till morning."
"Ah. I'll check on ya' soon so don't be thinkin' you'll slip away without notice."
Sheppard exchanged a glance with Teyla and offered this, "Hey, Ronon will be here in a few minutes, and one of us will stay with you tonight. We can take turns. It'll be fine." He smirked. "It'll be like a sleepover almost."
Rodney snorted and started coughing again.
Teyla laid her hand on Rodney's arm. "It will allow you to rest, and without other distractions you will have time to review your ... procedures. It never hurts to have calm moments to make sure nothing was overlooked."
"I did NOT overlook anything!" But a look of despair swept quickly over his face, and he had to ask, "Did I? Maybe you're right. Maybe a review of everything... get me my laptop." Coughing began in earnest and Rodney doubled over on the bed trying to get control.
Sheppard leaned in from the other side of the bed and rubbed his back and Teyla quickly filled a glass with water and offered it to Rodney.
Rodney looked up with watery eyes. "I am pretty tired. If – if Radek is feeling up to it maybe he could check on a few things."
Ronon, who had just arrived, nodded once. "I'll get him."
"Radek isn't in great shape either," offered Sheppard.
Rodney waved one hand. "I know. I only want him to check the results of the diagnostics I just did on that transporter. Everyone's worked nearly round the clock. Teyla's right. The readings should be checked by someone that's at least had some sleep and right now I don't trust anyone in the lab not to miss a decimal point and blow us up."
"Well, knowing Radek, he's probably bored by now, and the doc has said he's doing better. Now, since we've got that settled, I'll go grab some supper for us and be right back."
Radek was mostly over his coughing but his voice was a little rough. Still, he was glad to have something to do while waiting to be released.
He checked all the simulations, diagnostics, circuit diagrams, power fluctuations, and anything else that might show them what happened. He shuddered as he remembered his own immersion in the transporter on sub 12. He tried to push it out of his mind but it kept creeping in. Maybe he would be pleased to see Dr. Heightmeyer this time. He wondered how Rodney was handling this. Being in a jumper that crashed into the ocean was bad, but knowing a colleague may have died in a situation like he'd just experienced must be very difficult. Rodney was strong but not unbreakable.
How much power was expended when a transporter was activated, and how
much when an arrival was completed? Wouldn't the whole action require
a set packet of energy? Something looked ... wrong. Something was
wrong. The power utilized on initiation was correct, but the arrival
was less than half... Why in this universe, or any other, would the
Ancients keep these separate?
Radek peeked around the curtain that shielded his bed from some of the activity in the infirmary. "Yes, she is busy," he whispered to himself. He stifled a cough and headed for Rodney's bed. He stopped short outside of the curtain when he saw Colonel Sheppard. Then he heard Dr. Biro say goodnight to one of the nurses and decided he would chance the Colonel's ire but not Biro's. He slipped as silently as he could behind the dividing curtain of Rodney's area. He leaned to peek around it to see if he'd been seen.
"Uh, Radek?" the Colonel whispered. "What's up with the stealth moves? I might have to put you on a team if you can escape Biro's notice."
Radek turned and quickly put his finger to his lips to shush him. "I may have found something. I think I should wake Dr. McKay."
John stood up quickly. "Give me a summary."
Pointing to his laptop screen, "Well, you see this figure right here?"
"It should be almost double."
"And that's bad because..."
"It had power to initiate transport but for some reason it didn't have enough power to send the information to be reintegrated, so it's still there."
"And that means that Dr. Brown is... what?"
"She was never sent for reintegration, but is suspended in transit. I hope. It has been several days and..."
Radek looked worried as he continued. "The signal may have been degraded. It may not be viable any longer."
Colonel Sheppard sighed. "Then we need to wake Rodney, because getting her out should happen sooner rather than later."
"Yes. That is why I..."
A firm but moderately loud voice asked, "Dr. Radek Zelenka, what are you doing out of bed?"
Radek winced, and muttered. "Why is it that she is a young woman, yet still she sounds like my grandmother?"
Colonel Sheppard intervened with the lady doctor. "Dr. Biro. Radek has found something in the figures for the transporter Dr. Brown used. We're sorry about this but now it's a matter of time. To retrieve her safely we have to do it soon and, we'll need Dr. McKay. If we don't get her out soon we may never get her out."
Radek added, "Or she could be very damaged. We need Rodney for this, and he would never forgive us if we let him sleep and something terrible happened to her."
Dr. Biro nodded slowly. "I'll have a med team go with you if time is of the essence." She went to Rodney's bed and noted the readings on the medical equipment that surrounded him. She turned to the Colonel. "He looks stable. I'll get him a wheelchair, and I expect him to use it, at least coming and going, or else he could be right back here before he helps you. And you will bring him back when he's done."
"Oh, yes mam," and the Colonel grabbed a wheelchair from the storage closet and Radek went to shake Rodney awake.
"Are you kidding me? I can walk just fine." Coughing followed that exclamation until he was gasping but it finally died down.
Ronon caught up to them at the corner. "Hey, McKay. I heard you coughing from the mess hall."
"Yes, yes. Just tease me when I'm injured. And what were you doing in the mess? You had supper with us. Was that a snack or second supper?"
Ronon's only answer was a grin as he pulled an apple out of a pocket and took a bite.
Teyla jogged around the next corner and waited for them. "John said you might have found the reason for the problem. I am very pleased."
Radek coughed rather delicately.
Rodney looked at him. "I know, I'll tell her." He glanced around at his team and grimaced as he gestured at Radek. "It seems Teyla was right after all."
Radek looked disgusted.
"Well, she is. She said someone that was rested needed to look over the figures, and I wasn't rested."
Radek nodded, "As you say, Teyla was right, and the discrepancy in the figures was found. Now we just have to fix it."
Colonel Sheppard had kept his patience in check for the most part, but he had resorted to pacing in the last half hour. "Well, guys, how is it coming?"
Rodney peered around the panel and pleaded, "I need coffee. A large coffee."
"Are you sure you should have coffee?"
Radek nodded quickly. "I can, but for Rodney I am not sure, but no one said 'no coffee'. I would not lie about that, especially with Dr. Biro waiting for us." He glanced at the med team. "Yes? No?"
Nurse Dixon checked her tablet. "Yes for you Dr. Zelenka, and sorry, no for you Dr. McKay."
Rodney snorted. "Don't let Biro intimidate you. Remember, medicine isn't a hard science."
The Colonel smirked. "Yeah, you'd never let her intimidate you. I've seen you drink down a 20 ounce coffee that was steaming hot because you saw Biro coming."
"Well, it was the first coffee I was allowed that time. You know I live on coffee."
"Yeah." He sighed deeply and then asked, "But how are you doing on the panel?"
Rodney leaned one shoulder against the wall beside the panel. He looked worried. "I've checked everything backwards and forwards. If I'd known that the safety protocols were so flimsy I'd have done an overhaul long before this. I've fixed it so that now the transporter has to have the total power output available before someone is disassembled for transport. And also, if the destination isn't viable then a transit will not take place, or if something happens mid jump, it will jump back to the original location. For this transport I didn't want to take any chances. I've got enough power isolated for ten transfers and I only need enough for the second half, the arrival. And the location she was transporting to, and all the other transporters on Atlantis, are fully locked out even if someone uses their magic gene. She has to come here, not to that flooded section on sub level 12."
Radek shook his head and whispered, "No, that would not be good."
"Yeah. If I have my way that won't ever happen again to anyone. You want to know the scary part?" Rodney didn't wait or expect an answer. "She would have ended up on sub 12, too, if there had been more power available."
Ronon stood straight and crossed his arms. "Then let's get her out of there. You said the longer we wait the worse it could be."
Sheppard elbowed Ronon's ribs, "But it's going to be okay, Rodney. You have to do it, and it might as well be now."
Teyla placed a hand on Rodney's arm. "We are all here for you, Rodney."
Rodney gave one tired look around to his team, his friends. He nodded and clicked a few buttons on his laptop to reinitialize transport and a moment later the door slid open.
Katie walked out and stopped in surprise at the group waiting and staring at her. She smiled as she settled on Rodney. "Oh, Dr. McKay. I'm heading to the Athosian village in an hour. Is there anything you'd like me to look for specifically?" She chuckled, "When everyone in botany found out, I ended up with a two page list. Everything from abaxial to zoospore, or close enough."
Rodney was speechless for a moment. Sheppard placed his hand on his shoulder. "Rodney, why don't you take Katie to the infirmary with you so she can get checked out. She needs an explanation about the trip being postponed, too."
Katie's eyes widened. "The infirmary? And the trip has to wait? Why?" She looked around and finally realized something. "Wait. I was heading to my lab to get my supplies for the trip. How did I end up where I started?"
Rodney rubbed one hand roughly over his face but he managed a smile. "Well, Dr. Brown. That's all part of the story. As for canceling the trip, it was for a good reason. It seems one person was unaccounted for."
brought the wheelchair around for Rodney. He almost denied his need
for it, but that would be a lie at this point. He sat heavily and
Katie looked worried.
"Why, Rodney, are you all right?"
"It's okay. Everything's okay now. It's just part of the story that I'm too tired to tell right now."
"I don't know why I need to go to the infirmary, but you certainly look like you could do with a visit. You sit, and I'll push. I guess I can wait for the story, especially since the trip is canceled. I hope it wasn't anything I did."
"No. It was just a glitch in a machine. I took care of it with some help from my friends."