- Character Bashing
- Explicit Sex
- Hate Crimes
- Alternate Universe
- Science Fiction
Rodney woke to a small body across his chest, grasping on like a leach. He saw Maddie’s eyes moving under her eyelids in a dream, and gently ran his fingers through her hair, calming her. The shift of a chair caught his attention, and he saw Caleb’s eyes watching him.
“Sorry, she had a nightmare and was crying that the bad men took you. We had to let her see that you were ok, and then she wouldn’t leave. We didn’t want to wake you.” Caleb whispered.
“That’s ok. If it helps her sleep, let her. I’m sorry she was in the middle.” Rodney apologized again.
“No, I know you would have done anything to keep her safe. I don’t blame you for any of it. Neither does Jeannie. We’ll be ok, eventually. Until then we do everything we can to protect her. That means protecting you, too. Because she needs to know Uncle Mer is safe.”
Rodney nodded and moved slightly, “I need to get up.”
Caleb shook his head. “You need more sleep. All of you do. Take some time to rest with your niece.”
“Um, Caleb,” Rodney looked toward the restroom, “I need to get up.”
“Oh, sorry.” He rolled Madison away, and Rodney gently left the bed.
“Look, I really do need to check in. It’s after seven, so I’m sure the others are already at it. Why don’t you lay down there with your daughter and see if you can get her to sleep for a couple more hours.” Rodney stopped by his cabinet and grabbed a change of clothes before slipping into the shower.
Clean and with enough sleep that he was thinking straight again, Rodney walked into what Joe had labeled the War Room. Radek was sleeping on a pallet next to the printers. The man had the uncanny ability to sleep anywhere. He sat down next to Joe and took in her sweats, fuzzy bunny slippers, and wet hair pulled back into a ponytail. He waved a hot cup of tea under her nose and held it back when she reached blindly.
“Did you get any sleep?” He looked at her closely. Her eyes were tired but no longer bloodshot and bruised looking.
“I’ve had seven hours.” She firmly took the tea and raised an eyebrow as she tasted her favorite blend doctored with just the right amount of sugar.
“Don’t let it go to your head.” He raised his chin, daring her to say anything.
Her eyes narrowed and then she grinned and turned back to the numbers. He stood but reached over and pulled her ponytail and looked down into her face when she looked up. “Take time to get some breakfast. Maybe some snacks for the rest of us?” Joe nodded and stood up to leave, taking her tea with her.
Rodney turned to watch Miko. She had noted his arrival but hadn’t stopped typing. He made a motion indicating that he wanted her attention, and she flicked her hair to the side in the movement that meant she needed a few minutes. Having learned the hard way not to interrupt he moved over, and started to put a throw over Radek. An eye opened to stare at him.
“Been asleep long? Why don’t you go find out where Lou set up bunks?”
“I slept. Checked shield. Slept. Have search program running, so sleep some more.” Radek stretched and looked around for his glasses.
“Did Miko sleep?”
“Yes, is her way when hacking. She sleeps on REM cycles and hacks in between. Harder for anyone to anticipate attacks. She is rested just not all at once.”
Accepting that was as good as he would get for now he sat down and check his system for updates while waiting for an update from Miko. She was their lead on this phase, but he had decided this phase was about to get dirty.
The typing suddenly became furious, and he exchanged looks with Radek before they both quietly moved behind her to watch. Rodney cocked his head to the side. Miko was downloading files into D.C.’s Metro Police Department’s systems. They stepped back to give her room and waited until she exited the system cleanly then cleared any traces.
“So?” Rodney asked.
Miko turned back steely-eyed. “If they wish to arrest John, they should appreciate the experience. Bench warrants will be served on several individuals. Perhaps if they had gone to court to resolve their issues, then they would not be serving time.”
Radek shook his head, “Will not stick. Can prove is false arrest.”
“First they must prove it.”
“What is point? Is inconvenience only.” Radek turned as Joe entered the room with fresh mugs and a tray of breakfast burritos.
Rodney headed for the food as well, “No, it’s good. It’s a distraction. We need more to keep them off guard. Most of them will never know where it’s coming from, the rest can’t touch us.”
“What of John?”
“The ones who touched him? Their lives are over. I’ll leave them in a room with Lou before this is finished.” Rodney took the fresh coffee and looked around at his team, his gaze settling on Joe. “Tell me about the money.”
“There’s a lot of it moving around. They’ve been throwing it around to grease the wheels.”
“Do we know who they are yet?”
“It funnels through a variety of shell corporations, but it all feeds back to one, Hammel Technologies. They’ve been at this a while. I’m finding payments to civilian contractors out of Nevada, politicians, military. Though I’m still tracking links. For example, every time a payment goes out to Nevada, a separate one is made to a General out of Colorado.”
Rodney leaned forward, “What is this General’s name?”
“Landry.” Rodney cocked his head to the side and shook his head in the negative. That wasn’t a name he knew. Joe continued, “Jones Jet Propulsion and Viper Avionics are working on something big in the middle of nowhere. Whatever it is it is big and secret. They’re payrolling about one hundred people who seem to work nowhere. Thing is, whatever they’re working on, both of those companies are owned by Hammel. Whoever hid the connection did it well, I’m just better.”
“Good, then it’s time for some retribution. The warrants are petty, let’s hit them where it hurts. I want you to freeze all accounts. Every single one. Start at the top and work your way down. Everyone who’s taken a payoff or is in charge of any of this, I don’t want them to have access to their penny banks. For now, I would prefer just screwing them over in a way that isn’t theft.”
“Jeannie, I think some of these good people need to have their cars repossessed. Considering your high school boyfriend still hasn’t recovered from it, I know you can get those orders through.”
“He deserved it.” She muttered as she moved to her computer and sat down.
“You should all know that these people, they work on an extremely classified project. I’ve been authorized to read you in on it if you stumble across classified material, but I would rather you never have to know.” Rodney argued with himself a moment. “If you stumble across anything that’s really out there and stupidly bizarre, let me know.”
Rodney moved back to his desk, and Radek followed. “What of me?”
“I need you to keep eyes on John. I need to know if they try anything. Patrick has his lawyers trying to get access to him.”
“Ano, yes.” Radek returned to his desk.
Twenty-something minutes later Radek was cursing. “They moved him.”
“Transfer shows released to Col. Sumner. Forty minutes later was on scheduled transport to Colorado. Why move him to Colorado?” Radek stared at Rodney with worry.
But Rodney was frozen in place, his mind moving faster than sound. They couldn’t, they wouldn’t. It’s the only reason. He snapped his fingers at Radek three times fast. “Are they there yet?”
“Arrived two hours ago. What is it? Rodney, what is in Colorado?”
Rodney rushed back to his computer and typed furiously to create a connection. “Colorado is the deep dark pit of despair. That’s what Colorado is. Come-on. Tell me you didn’t find it. Please, please. Tell me you didn’t find it.” He barely noticed as the team crept up behind him to watch the code flash across his screen.
“Yes! Not as smart as you think you are.”
“You have back door into classified systems.” Radek traded looks with Jeannie.
“I didn’t trust them. I had a damn good reason for not trusting them, and I was proven right. Again. Just wait…OK…I’m in. Miko, follow my lead. I may need you to run interference.” He read out the IP and a few instructions.
It took him several minutes to find orders for a prisoner transfer to their off-world detention base, and Rodney’s heart started to race. They were going to take John away to a place Rodney could never reach him. Rodney accessed the schedule. There were seven teams off world. They expected a dial-in any moment, and John would be transferred out immediately after. Fuck that!
Miko was in and transferred a video feed from her monitor onto the large screen TV they kept to review experiment video. It was a split view of the Stargate Command Gateroom. She was controlling the cameras and focused one of them on a group of marines, John standing restrained in the center.
As they watched the Gate began to cycle, and the sploosh of the wormhole forming caused them all to jerk just before the iris closed. A voice Rodney barely recognized called out, “SG-9s iris code, General Landry.” A reply could not be distinguished. A four-man team walked through the water-like surface, waved to the armed guards and headed down the ramp. The gate shut off and the iris retracted.
“Mer, what the fuck was that?” Jeannie may have started it, but they all joined it.
“Not now. Not now. I don’t have time.” The video showed the guards rousting John toward the middle of the gateroom floor. Rodney began typing in earnest, shredding protocols and bypassing protections. He didn’t bother to ask forgiveness of those who were out there, John depended on him an that’s all that mattered.
On the video, the gate began to spin, and the voice over the speakers called out, “Chevron one encoded.”
– – – –
John was fucked, he was seriously fucked. He stood in the middle of the gateroom floor and watched the gate dial, his life dialing down with it. He didn’t know much about gateroom operation, but he was sure of one thing, if he went through that gate he probably was never coming back.
The guards kept their hands on him to keep him from trying anything, and other than Sumner’s team and the General, no one had looked at him close enough to be able to ID him later. He didn’t know if that was self-defense or if Sumner had done this so many times that they just didn’t pay attention any longer. Either way, he was screwed.
He watched his life dial away and thought it was pretty fucking disgusting that the ring could remind him of a Ferris Wheel, if even in passing. They hit four chevrons, and then one of the power relays to the gate overloaded and blew. The guards dragged John back against a wall. Another blew, and sparks were showering through the gateroom.
John glanced up, and the people in the control room were flapping around. He saw one of the computer monitors blow. Sirens blared, blast doors lowered, and he was dragged up off the floor to the level of Command. The techs were typing furiously, but something was happening system by system. Finally, when only the last computer was left, the lights went out, and the only thing visible on the darkened monitor screen was a message.
“Give me what I want, and I’ll go away.”
– – – –
John leaned back and propped his shackled ankles up onto the catwalk railing. He had been stuck in the gateroom with his minders for the last ten hours. Shoot, it had taken them at least four hours to get the blast doors down here to open. Apparent there were still levels that were on lockdown.
The only things that were running down here were the backup emergency lights, air circulation, and water. And John smirked at the knowledge that they only had that because Rodney wanted John to be comfortable. He had no doubts in his mind about that one.
Knowing Rodney was at work gave him hope. They had tried to access everything through three laptops, but within moments they were all scrolling the same message, “Give me what I want, and I’ll go away.”
He had heard the tech guys in passing. They were freaked out. Nothing they did let them bypass the hack, and they couldn’t get the power running. They had something they called a naquida generator, but they couldn’t reach the level they were on, and there was no one here that knew more than the basics to plug them in. John wondered if these were the generators Rodney had mentioned.
John was tapping out Johnny Cash’s Got Rhythm on the railing when Sumner came out of the office with the General following. He reached John and hauled him to his feet.
“Who is doing this?”
“Not too bright, are you?” He was slammed back against the wall and barely kept his feet as his damaged ribs were hit.
“Look, son, this isn’t in your favor. If you know who is doing this, you need to tell us.” General Landry as the nametag read, said in a stern voice. “You are already in trouble, you don’t want things to get worse.”
John slouched back, “Seems to me being kidnapped and forced off-world when you all know for a fact that I’m innocent is about as bad as it can be. You tell me how much of a chance I have at coming home once I walk through that wormhole. The way I see it, I have zero motivation for helping you.”
“It’s unfortunate what is happening to you, but you need to be able to see the big picture. There are a lot of people that could benefit from the type of power McKay has stumbled on. We have reports that he can be hard to work with, but you were known to be a team player. Right now there are six teams off world with no exit and no backup. I know you don’t believe in leaving a man behind. Help us out so we can bring those men and women home.”
John stared them down grimly for a moment and then grinned. “It’s a good try. But, you see, they all signed up for it. Unless you are sending out slave labor, every single one of them had a choice. I don’t, and until I do, I don’t see a reason to cooperate. I think the message is clear here boys, Give him what he wants and we’ll go away.”
“Right now I can be your friend or your enemy. You need to think this through. Do you want another enemy?”
“Seems to me all I have here are enemies. I am a trained military asset. I have received some of the best training and conditioning there is when it comes to hostile situations. I know how to analyze a threat, and one of the first things I learned is that it’s not the military I fear.” He glanced at Sumner, “even when they’re homicidal homophobic assholes, I know where they’re coming from. But the scientists, they will rearrange your world. Never mess with the scientists.”
“It has to be McKay. Our team was supposed to pick him up and bring him in. How the hell did they end up dead grabbing one whiny geek?” Sumner asked Landry, ignoring John completely. How dare they go after Rodney.
Landry shook his head, “According to the spotters that blond in security stopped them and murdered them all.” He glanced once at John. “Now the whole compound is under a shield and McKay is untouchable. Sheppard is our only leverage.”
“No, I understand Dr. Weir wanted him under wraps. She has her own agenda. But I need to remind you all that I am in command here and I’m not going to keep command long if I can’t keep control of my mountain. We keep him here for now. At least until we can get our hands on the ZPM and control of McKay. Frankly, I don’t think he’s going to be a good long-term asset if we take his actions today into account. But for the short-term, we get everything we can out of him.”
“First we have to get out of the Mountain,” Sumner complained. He looked back toward the control room. “They still don’t have communications out of here. Outside protocols mean they will soon rule this a potential foothold situation and send in troops. We really don’t want people outside of our control asking questions, General. Dr. Weir pays you well to ensure you leave our operations alone.”
“Don’t try to threaten me. Take our prisoner to holding. Stairwells are blocked open in the lower levels. Make sure he’s alive to talk to McKay and get him to see reason.” Landry turned and walked away. John thought it looked more like sulking away.
Sumner motioned the guards closer. “Take him to holding. Make sure no one talks to him unless they are with us.”
– – – –
Rodney motioned to Radek and stood up and stretched. They were taking it in two-hour shifts to monitor the mountain. Every time the Mountain tried something new Rodney cut them off and locked them down. If it weren’t about John’s life, Rodney would be horrified that these are the people protecting their planet. There’s only one or two there that were remotely dangerous with a keyboard. He was mildly sorry about the people stuck off-world, but then he saw SG-1 on the list and decided he wasn’t as sorry as he initially thought.
Rodney passed by Miko and leaned down to kiss her on the cheek as he saw her canceling credit cards and ruining credit ratings. She was up to nine computers running at this point, and he wasn’t remotely interested in slowing her down. Miko’s retribution was a thing of beauty. The SGC would probably spend months unweaving the web she had spun over people’s lives.
He stepped out of the room and saw Lou passing by with a few of her men, checking in. “Anything I need to know about?”
“I’ve been in touch with local authorities. At this point, they are under the impression that the kidnappers were attempting to stop your test of the shield and have assured me that no one will interfere. They are interested in the stability and longevity of the device as they can see many applications for city and law enforcement. I’m referring them to PR for any questions regarding that aspect, but have explained that this is still a prototype.”
“Thank you, Lou. I know all of this isn’t easy.”
“McKay, I’ve said this before. This is my job. I have absolutely no problems with what I did yesterday, what I do today, or what I may be called upon to do tomorrow. I made a promise to protect you and yours at all cost. The fact I was able to do that brings nothing but satisfaction.”
Rodney nodded and met her eyes, “Ok, but for Maddie, I will always thank you.” She squeezed his arm slightly then walked away with her team.
He walked around a while until he realized where he was headed. He hadn’t been in John’s office since this all began. He walked around, thinking of the last time they made out in his desk chair, throwing around schematics for the Gem…GSEM, dammit. A framed picture of every Ferris Wheel they had ridden on together since they met.
He sat down in the chair and placed his hands on the blotter. He raised the top page to see the doodles and scribbles on the page below. Planes firing weapons at clouds that let the word Rodney punched out. Tears started to fall as he realized how close he had come to losing John.
A light knock on the door before it began to open and Joe entered. She walked around the desk and sat on his lap, hugging him while he tried to stop the tears. “Who knew you were human.”
“You’re still short and opinionated. And a business major.”
“This business major has figured out everyone involved that’s on the payroll. If you know where we can take this, they could get them all. I just don’t know if any of it is admissible in court.”
“Oh, please. Look at what they’re doing to John. I doubt any of them will see a court of law. Most will just disappear. I really, really hate it. But, unless they go public, it’s the best we’re going to get.” He moved to stand up, “Anything else I need to know?”
“Well, now that we have learned that the government can travel to other worlds, what else is out there that could surprise us?” She raised an eyebrow begging him to speak.
Rodney sighed. He hadn’t wanted to bring them into the crazy. But there was no hiding the Stargate, and frankly, he hadn’t stopped to consider when he was saving John’s life. He finally had to cut them off by promising to tell them everything after John was back.
“Come on, let’s see what the children are up to.”
– – – –
Rodney entered to see Radek, Jeannie, and Miko around Rodney’s desk. He hurried over worried the SGC had reactivated the gate. Instead, they were staring at Radek’s laptop to the side where he had been hacking the home computers of some of the higher access people on their lists.
“What is it?”
“Someone’s been a bad boy, Mer,” Jeannie said with a little grin that almost matched his own. “She pointed at the screen. I downloaded everything. The Chief Scientist out of Area 51, and I’m still burning by the way over the fact that’s all real, well this guy Dr. Peter Kavanagh has been smuggling classified data out of there on his personal laptop.
Miko tapped her fingernails along the top of the screen, “His security is idiotic…so is his science. He obviously doesn’t understand a tenth of the work.”
“Did you know they’re building a spaceship out in Nevada? A real spaceship, but apparently he can’t understand the engineering of it to save his life. They had a little grey alien there helping with the engines, but he quit and went back home because he couldn’t deal with the stupid.” Jeannie was completely blase over the alien but screwing up the science on the spaceship irritated her. Sometimes he really loved his sister.
Miko smiled at Rodney, “You need to repeat after me.” Rodney raised an eyebrow at her and lowered his head to look her in the eye. “You are my goddess and my queen.”
“He has blackmail on a few of the people we have. But he has one that’s not on our list. Vice President Kinsey has been a bad boy.”
Rodney grabbed the laptop out of Radek’s hands and scrolled through the data. He bounced in place as he read it. Right there in black and white. Helet Radek take back the machine and turned to grab Miko’s face and kiss her. “Miko Kusanagi is my goddess and my queen, I worship at her feet. Get me a copy of that. I also want it printed out and assemble a report on all the rest of them. I want the complete list.”
He turned and headed to the door, picking up the pace as he moved. “Mer, where are you going?”
He turned back to look at them, “I need to get Lou to ready an escort and prep the jet, I have to call Patrick and some others to set a meeting, and I need to go to D.C. so I can get John back.”
– – – –
“Patrick, just be prepared for that meeting. I’ve sent you all the data. It’s encrypted with the algorithm we set up. Don’t view it on a networked computer. I will be arriving with Antoine. Don’t worry, Lou will have my security team. We’re leaving all the others in the shield.”
There was the sound of Patrick letting out a deep breath, “I wish I could talk you into staying there as well. I don’t want to give them a chance to get their hands on you.”
“I trust Lou to stop them. I’m not going to sit back here, when I know, I will be more effective there.” This was non-negotiable. He needed to be in the middle of this. He’s been through the data, and he can see how the players fit together now. But, he has momentum, and he needs to keep it up.
“The team will stay here and keep the Mountain locked down. That’s the best containment for those players. But there is serious corruption here, and we need to make sure it’s cleaned up. It’s the only way to keep everyone safe. Those documents show that this goes almost to the top. We know the President is clear, but the fact that Kinsey is in so deep means they will not stop unless we find them all.”
“It’s not our job to find them, Rodney, it’s their job to clean up their own shit. Right now it looks like President Hayes and this General O’Neill are the ones in the clear at the top. They need to man up and clean their own damn house. I just want my son back.”
“We’re going to get them. They either give John back, or I’ll make sure they don’t have a place to hide. My first science fair project was a bomb, I’ve only gotten better at them. I’m sure some of Lou’s guys would like to help me test some experiments.”
“And, as for their little secrets? Secrets only work when the public is kept in the dark. If they take John, they take my life. There is nothing worse they can do to me than what they already plan to do. Give up a few secrets to the public so they can’t hide behind a shadow government? I’ll gladly pay that price.” Rodney pulled out his briefcase and started loading it. He had plenty of clothes at Sheppard’s home in Virginia, so he wasn’t worried about packing.
“We leave first thing in the morning, Patrick. Antoine is scheduling a special session at 2pm. As a world leader, he can call a meeting to address his concerns, and it’s mandatory attendance. Let him do all the work. You’ve been making waves all over D.C. Let your lawyers keep making them. Don’t let them know that we know who’s who.”
“Ok, fine. But get some sleep, Rodney. I need you at the top of your game tomorrow. I want this over with.” Patrick tapped on the tabletop, and it rang through the phone.
“David always dreamed of being an astronaut when he was a child. He used to tell me that there were other worlds out there and he was going to explore them all. I’m angry at them all that they took a moment that should have been joyful, learning that there really is life out there and we can see it now, and turned it into something ugly. They’ve given up the idea of exploration and replaced it with rape and pillage. I want John to be safe, and I want David’s innocence back. And I don’t know if I can ever have either of those things ever again.”
“We’ll work together to make it happen, Patrick. You have my word.”
– – – –