A device is discovered and it's implications are considered...Cassie's destiny becomes clear.
John paced angrily in Elizabeth's office and Elizbeth closed her eyes in annoyance, getting just a little tired of his increasing overprotectiveness and demands.
“No more offworld missions Elizabeth, until the baby is born... and after the baby is born... same thing goes – no more off world missions. I'm not putting her and the baby at risk in any way. Damn, we don't manage one mission without a mishap of some sort. There's a massive sign on her forehead that says 'trouble'.”
“Actually...” interjected Elizabeth with a calmness she certainly didn't feel “you seem to have forgotten P3X641, P4T782, and oh, don't forget …” she broke off to consult her computer as she called up a list of mission reports. “...P2N694, I believe that was completed without a 'mishap' as you put it.”
John huffed out a breath. Those had been small missions, gathering intel really, and helping the science teams gather samples. They did not involve contact with people from those worlds and that was where most of the problems seemed to start. Cassie just managed to... attract... trouble.
“John, if you continue to try and wrap her in cotton wool, you will effectively and undoubtedly, push her away. Do you want that? She is a sensible, capable and very intelligent woman and I doubt she will willingly endanger herself or her baby. She has become a huge asset to the science teams.”
Now nearly five months pregnant, Cassie was blooming in all sense of the word. Finally putting on a bit of weight, thanks to the special treats that the mess chef cooked especially for her (another male wrapped firmly around her little finger, John thought sourly), she had developed some seriously delectable curves and her skin and hair, already lovely, had taken on that special glow that impending motherhood brings. John watched as eyes followed her around the base wherever she went, but it was with a sense of pride now. This was his woman and she carried his child.
But that didn't mean she was not driving him crazy, oh no. She insisted in getting up early when he did, when he would have preferred her to stay in bed just a little longer to get more rest. And the times he did manage to convince her, her lovely eyes had looked into his, and damn it, he was late for work again. He'd come back from combat training with Ronan to find her in the gym, engrossed in the weight training programme that Ronan had designed for her, pushing herself hard as always and he was tempted to bodily remove her and make her lie down and just rest, but damn it, one look in those stunning green eyes and he was bodily removing her all right, but it wasn't to rest – oh no! She was driving him crazy.
Elizabeth broke into his reverie. “John! Are you listening to me? We're not back in the cave man days. Cassie is healthy and she'll do what's best for herself and the baby and she'll not thank you for carrying on like this!”
“Can't you just find her... stuff... to do here? If it came from you, she might listen.”
“For goodness sake John! She knows you better than you know yourself!” John had filled her in on that ethereal experience when Cassie's and his son's mind essence had come to him on the south pier, and she smiled now recalling that. “Let her be the woman she needs to be, and you'll find that that will be the woman you want her to be also.”
Caught silent in the face of wise words, he shrugged, retaliating only as he got to the door. “So... I heard about this cute little outfit at Bloomingdales, hot pink flak jacket with matching wrist and ankle protectors, convenient stomach padding... and oh yeah, comes with a matching helmet. Think you can order one for her next time you dial earth?” Smiling in defeat he left the room and Elizabeth chuckled to herself.
The lady under discussion was in fact getting some hand to hand combat lessons with Ronan. They practiced the moves without any real force, just running through the mechanics of them really and John walked in as Ronan had Cassie in an offensive grip, large arm thrown across her throat, head forced back against him and one foot about to dislodge her leg and send her crashing to the ground.
Seeing John's imminent fury, Ronan quickly released her and held out his hands in a defensive gesture. “I'm not gonna throw her Sheppard, give me a bit of credit. We're just running through some moves. Relax man, you'll snap if you don't release some of that tension. Cassie, go and sit over there and John and I'll show you how it's done.” Ronan correctly surmising that John did indeed need to release some of his pent up tension, moved into offensive position and offered his friend a workout. Cassie settled herself cross legged on the ground content to watch, sipping from a water bottle that John had passed to her.
They spent the better part of an hour practising, both extremely strong opponents and John, although the smaller build of the two, had been proficiently trained in hand to hand combat in the military and made a more than adequate match for the large Satedan. Cassie watched as the sweat began to gleam on their faces and John paused briefly to toss off his black tshirt, muscled torso gleaming, the individual play of muscles as he pushed himself conjured up all manner of illicit thoughts in Cassie's mind. Ronan threw in the towel after an hour and with a smile for Cassie, he left the room. John towelled his sweat off, joining Cassie he bent to offer her a hand to pull her up. She came up hard against his chest and her hands splayed there, feeling the sudden clench of need in his body and raising her eyes to his, he bent his head to capture her mouth in a hot demanding kiss. Releasing her mouth, he trailed kisses down her neck growling 'Damn it woman, you're driving me crazy!”
“So, Colonel... what are you gonna do about it?” With a saucy look over her shoulder, she stepped away from him and left the room, John hot on her heels. Damn it, she was driving him crazy!
Sometime later, John leaned against the balcony outside their room, back to the ocean so that he could look into the open doorway and see her lying peacefully on the bed, sprawled slightly across it, hair fanned out to cover her breasts. Her stomach, now firmly rounded, rose and fell gently with each breath and John smiled at the ripple that flowed across it, a sign that his son was awake and approving of the intimacy that they had just engaged in.
Elizabeth's voice in his ear interupted his musings. He had replaced the ear comm when he rose from the bed, he was still technically on duty.
“John, we've received a message from the Tegalian people. It seems they have discovered an artifact they feel we may be interested in.” The teams had put out word to as many outlying planets as they could that they were particularly interested in any ancient technology other planets may have and would consider any sort of suitable exchange should the technology, one reviewed by one of the science teams, prove to be useful.
“I'd like to send your team there at first light Colonel – Cassie too, but we'll only send a science team out if Rodney takes a look at the artifact first. We're making progress John, but there have been stirrings that the wraith have increased their activity and we have to be ready in case of another attack. We know that there are devices out there that can repell the wraith and we need to make it our priority to find them. We need Cassie and Teyla's mind abilities to assist.”
John replied, watching Cassie as she slowly wakened, rolling over to her side to gaze at him. “Have the team ready to go at 0700 Elizabeth.” He clicked off his ear comm and moved back into the room to fill Cassie in, watching as she rose from the bed and made her way towards the shower, her delectable backside disappearing into the bathroom. Slipping off his ear comm yet again, he began to unfasten his pants and pulled his tshirt over his head. Damn it! That woman was driving him crazy.
The team met in the gateroom and with Carson insisting that Cassie had a full checkup before each mission, she had had to be in the infirmary by 0600. Carson immediately noticed her tiredness. “Sleeping OK lass?” While they talked, he took her temperature, blood pressure, gently palpated her stomach to feel the baby, listened to the baby's heartbeat and rigged her up to a monitor for fifteen minutes that checked all vital organ activity. They were taking no chances that gate travel could be detrimental to her health. “I'm sleeping OK Carson, but dreams, lots of them. Strange ones too, people and places I don't recognise, events happening that don't make sense. I sleep, but wake up feeling like I haven't.”
“Have you told John yet lass?” Cassie was quick to reply. “God no Carson! He worries enough as it is, always trying to drag me off for a nap!” Carson hid his smile, suspecting, as most of the base did, that John did not have naps in mind when he dragged his woman off.
“Do you want to talk to Dr Heitmeyer?” Kate Heitmeyer was the resident pyschologist and Cassie had enjoyed several non professional chats with her over coffee. “Maybe if they get worse Carson, but not now...”
“Everything checks out OK lass. Your baby is active as usual, right wee footballer by the look of him. I bet Colonel Sheppard has a wee football already put aside for him.” Cassie smiled recalling a package that had arrived from earth, indeed containing a small football.
Cassie joined the others in the gateroom after her appointment with Carson and nodded to John when he raised his eyebrows in question. He moved closer to ask quietly “no problems honey?” She shook her head enjoying the warmth of his breath on her cheek. “What about those dreams that have been bothering you at night. Did you ask Carson about those?” She looked sharply at him in surprise. “Yeah Cass, don't think I didn't notice. You're not the easiest woman to share a bed with at the moment. Fighting all sorts of battles in your sleep it seems.” She dropped her head and he grasped her chin to draw her eyes back up to his. “You'll tell me about them when you're ready Cass, I know that.” Grateful that was all he required from her at the moment, she nodded in agreement and they rejoined the team to start the mission.
The planet of Tegalia, designated P6X362 in the stargate database bore no unusual signs of activity as they stepped through the gate. They had used the ancient database to research the planet after receiving the communication from the Tegalian people. Cassie had discovered that one of the best ways to research a planet was to use the chair, simply using mind interface she was able to call up the name of the planet in question and bring forth all the vital statistics of that planet, providing the teams with pertinent information before venturing to any of the planets.
The had warned the Tegalian people the previous day of their intended arrival and upon stepping through the gate they were met by a group of the city elders, dressed in formal attire, intent on offering their city's hospitality to the explorers and guide them to the ancient device that they had discovered.
Rodney was excited about the possible artifact and even more excited about the upcoming dinner planned for them that evening in the city. The elders had been told by Elizabeth that Cassie was a singer and she had been asked to perform after the dinner tonight and had agreed, looking forward to performing some of her new material that she had been working on since her return to Atlantis. Since earth passage had opened up, Jack O'neill had sent through a list of equipment that Cassie had requested. A portable keyboard with it's own power source, portable yet powerful speakers and a whole range of other equipment. Happy to have some familiar equipment around her again, she had set up a music room and offered impromptu fun music concerts for the base staff whenever the mood took her.
It was a long walk from the stargate to a darkened area well beyond the city limits. It was overgrown with vines and other plants, concealing a cave entrance that had Cassie coming to a stumbling stop in front of it, reluctant to enter. “Ok love?” John had come up quietly behind her in tune as always, with her moods and emotions. She closed her eyes, visualising her time underground with Kolya and John understanding immediately, took her hand, pulling aside some of the dangling vines, to lead her inside. A series of darkened tunnels left Cassie shuddering and John had to pull her tight against him, leaving Ronan to bring up the rear. Teyla too, was uneasy. “It feels wrong in here Colonel. I am picking up something...”
“Wraith?” John asked sharply, rubbing his hand up and down Cassie's arm. Teyla answered. “Wraith, yes, but not recently, maybe not for a long time. It is a residual feeling – Cassie?” Teyla turned back to Cassie who was following behind with John. “Do you sense it?”
“These are really bad wraith Teyla. Different from the others... in pieces... I can sense humans too, but they too are different, half wraith maybe? I don't know, it's giving me a headache.”
John brought her around to face him, his hands going to her temple to gently massage. “You wanna turn back? We can let Ronan take Rodney and Teyla in, just say the word.”
Cassie turned looking into the darkness. “No John, I want to see what's in there, there's something not right... something bad I think. Let's do this, now.” He dropped his hands to her waist, squeezing slightly and urged her forward, not letting go.
The darkened tunnels opened out to an enormous room remarkably sterile in nature given that it was built as part of a cave system. It had obviously been a laboratory of some sort, long since abandoned judging by the layer of dust that covered the dust sheets protecting the equipment. Ronan kicked lightly at something in the corner. “Skeleton remains, human by the look of it, lot's of them too.” John came over to look, leaving Cassie in the centre of the room looking around.
“So much pain in this room. The wraith here – they were experimenting on the humans. They kept them here, underground for a long time, doing tests and injecting them with something...” she stopped, appearing to search her mind for something just out of reach. “... wraith DNA. Look at those skeletons John, what do you see?” He was squatting on the ground now looking at the remains and saw the formation of the skeletons had indeed been altered. “Crap” he muttered. “Should have brought Carson.”
Rodney had begun carefully removing the dust sheet, trying not to disturb too much of the settled dust but failing miserably and sneezing uncontrollably. “Great... this will do wonders for my allergies!”
Teyla stood beside Cassie. “You see more now. You are getting stronger Cassie. You were able to pick all that up from residual energy in this room?”
“It's not hard Teyla, when a room has undergone extremes such as this one has done. Pure evil leaves a strong imprint as does fear and both are present in this room and tell their story.” John moved up beside her. “No guesses as to where those damn dreams are coming from then!” He seemed angry as he said it, moving away abruptly to help Rodney, feeling once again that things were sliding slowly and inexplicably out of his control.
A large monitoring system covered almost one wall of the laboratory and Rodney began fiddling with buttons to try and get it to come to life, managing to partially succeed. A large computer like screen refused to turn on and he began pushing buttons at random on the control board in frustration.
“Rodney, calm down, let me have a go – you are so impatient!” Sensing his frustration and knowing that he wanted access to whatever data was stored in that computer, Cassie laid her hand on the control board and feeling her way by instinct alone, located another control panel at the side of the computer screen, laying her second hand on this also. The others watched in fascination as the screen sprung to life. John shook his head, an unjustified anger bubbling just below the surface. “I'm not even going to ask how you knew ...”
Rodney, jubilant, once again resumed control and Cassie felt a sudden overwhelming urge to leave. Throwing an apologetic look at them, she turned and stumbled down the dark passage, John immediately at her side, feeling guilt at the unbidden anger he was exhibiting. Holding her arm he whispered “breathe Cass, it's just a panic attack, breathe through it.” She stumbled out into the fresh air, taking in great gulps and willed her heartrate to slow. “Oh God John, the baby, he didn't want to be in there, he forced me to leave. I'm sorry, I'm trying to be strong, please, I know you are finding it hard to understand what is happening, but I can't take your anger, please...” She leaned in to him as an immediate apology rose to his lips, needing his strength and breathing in the unique smell that was a combination of woodsy aftershave and the man himself. She slowly calmed. “Shh...” he rubbed her back, nuzzling her hair, feeling the agitated movement in her stomach that pushed slightly against him. He moved a hand down to rest there, stilling the baby's movement. “Shh little one, I'll not let anything happen to her.”
Rodney came bursting out of the tunnel then, a crystal in his hand. “I know what they were doing. It's evil John, makes the Nazis seem like day care teachers! They were creating wraith/human hybrids, leaving their human consciousness intact so that they did not have the need to feed as the wraith do. Then they would hook them up to the device, the one in the corner, like human conductors. Four hybrids hooked up at a time creating a message that was sent out to worlds where they knew the human numbers had grown sufficiently for them to feed on. The message would appear to come from a human controlled planet, warning them of an impending wraith attack and offering sanctuary, but the planet address that was given, was not of a human planet, but a wraith controlled planet and as soon as they stepped through the gate...”
“Lambs to the slaughter...” John murmured. “Yeah, but you know the really sick thing Colonel? The human hybrids still had full human consciousness. At the time they were hooked up to the machine and sending out the false signals, they KNEW that they were sending thousands of humans to their death, and there was nothing they could do about it.”
Cassie felt sick and leaned over sinking to the ground. John rubbed her back, shooting a look at Rodney who held out a bottle of water. “So, why did they stop? As evil as the plan may have been, it obviously worked...”
“The date entries stop suddenly and it appears they were interupted, by what I don't know, but I do know they just left the hybrids here to die. But get this, that machine is turned on and transmitting.”
“OK, so that's a little scary, but if no one is hooked up to it, then no signal will be getting out?” John rubbed a hand over his face, thinking.
“That would have normally been the case Colonel, but I got to thinking. If a natural mindlink came within range of that machine, then perhaps it would be activated automatically.”
“Rodney!” John advanced on him. “What are you saying?”
“Colonel! It started transmitting just after we stepped into the cave.” A somewhat painful expression crossed Rodney's face.
“Transmitting what Rodney? Co-ordinates to a wraith planet?”
“No Colonel, co-ordinates to this planet. I think it is also a warning device for the wraith. And Cassie activated it.”
Cassie did retch now, great spasms that left her aching and exhausted. She felt the flow of conversation roll over her, felt John lift her and shut her eyes to block out the light that made her head ache. “Ronan, I need you to go back to Atlantis and get reinforcements, at least three teams of marines. It looks as though we might have company soon.”
As soon as Ronan had left, John, carrying Cassie and accompanied by Rodney and Teyla made their way into the city, searching out the elders to explain what had happened. Finding a cool room for Cassie to rest in, John left Teyla watching over her, and cornered Rodney and the elders in the courtyard outside.
“Rodney, we need to go back and turn that damn thing off before the wraith pick up the transmission and decide to come and investigate.” John had already explained to the elders what the device had been used for in the past.
“I tried Colonel, I did – but I think Cassie is the only one who can turn it off and I'm thinking that she is not going to be able to go back into that cave, so we'll have to come up with another plan.”
“So what the hell are we going to do Rodney? We can't just leave and abandon these people to a likely wraith attack, one that we were instrumental in starting!”
“Not we John... me!” Cassie had come out of the room, Teyla behind unable to stop her and she had heard what Rodney had told John and the elders. “I turned it on – I'll damn well turn it off!”
John's anger was back, directed at Cassie as she shouldered a blame that was not deliberately of her doing. “Now how in the hell are you going to do that – huh? You're a mess now, you're exhausted, you're weak and just being in that cave is more than you can handle. And now you're asking too much of me Cass, you expect me to stand by and watch you push yourself beyond human limits!”
Colour flooded her previous pale face. “You said it John, human limits! Yes, I've gone past my human limits, but am trusting, as I need you to do, that whatever weird alien gene has it's hold inside me, will help me find that extra strength to do whatever it is I was pulled into this damn galaxy to do.”
Angrily she turned in a circle, eyes up at the sky and holding out her hands as if to ward him off when he started towards her. “I know you don't understand John, I don't either. You make sense of actions and I come at you with feelings, and you're pissed at me right now, and that's not fair! I didn't ask for this. I have flashes of knowledge, then it's gone and I'm left just me.. a scared human who finds herself on an alien world involved in a battle that they can't even imagine back on earth.”
Rodney had crept around Cassie, trying to grab her from behind to calm her down before she hurt herself but she whirled away and John thought that she was angrier than he had ever seen her. “Don't touch me Rodney, I need to think, to work out how to turn that damn thing off. I'll not be the one to bring the wraith down on these people. John – take your damn actions and sod off, I'm not in mood for your negative energy right now.”
She stumbled a little, clutching her stomach as a spasm shot through her and it was Teyla who called urgently “wraith, John – they are here.”
John came to a decision and grabbed Cassie roughly, sparing no thought for the hiss of pain she made and thrust her angrily against Rodney. “You get her into that cave and get that damned device turned off and you take no crap from her Rodney. Teyla and I will get the people in the city to shelter and hopefully Ronan will be here soon with reinforcements.
Cassie vibrated with anger as she was drawn away by Rodney and in a small corner of his mind, John knew that he had pushed her too far, but quickly quelled the thought. If it meant saving her life and his sanity, then the ends justified the means.
Teyla and John left with the elders having ascertained that they still maintained suitable hiding places beneath the city as many human civilisations had learnt to do over the years during wraith culling. It took them a long time to round up the city's inhabitants and it was a slow process organising an evacuation to the underground tunnels, while overhead the wraith darts began their systematic aerial search of the planet, searching for humans and for the one who had reactivated the machine. John also knew that cruisers would be beaming down foot soldiers and the city would be searched.
Rodney and Cassie made it back to the cave entrance before they heard the first whine of wraith darts. Rodney cast a nervous eye to the sky saying unnecessarily “they're here Cassie, we need to hurry!” Casting a drole look at Rodney whose sense of the obvious was a little annoying at times she commented “trying Rodney, but haste does not come quite as easily for a woman who is five months pregnant. Bladder issues...”
“Ugh, too much information!” Rodney held up a hand as though to ward off any further explanation.
The headache that had been present during her time in the cave earlier, began to return as they neared the laboratory and she took shallow breaths to squash the nausea that accompanied it. Nearing the laboratory, she grabbed Rodney's hand hard. “Crap, Rodney – wraith, here in the tunnel. They'll have us trapped, we need to find somewhere to hide.” Rodney, not the bravest at the best of times, felt fear blossom, but Cassie dragged him around so that he was looking directly at her. “You can do this Rodney. You have to help me, I can't do it alone!” Seeing the plea in her eyes, he steeled himself against the fear and began searching the walls of the tunnel, remembering a a recessed area he had noticed on their way in the first time.
“Here Cass, found it.” Running his hand over the smooth material he added “I think there's a door, quick, get in! They'll think we've headed to the main laboratory – I doubt they know about this room.” Rodney pushed Cassie through the narrow doorway that led into a small room and leaned back against the now closed door, listening as he heard the wraith continue past the door without pausing. Rodney and Cassie took out torches, illuminating the room as best they could. It was small and appeared to hold only one item, a large blue crystal mounted on top of a small machine flanked by a control panel of lifeless buttons. Rodney jiggled his flashlight excitedly. “Somehow I think this is the device that the elders wanted us to see, the technology is different that the machines in the other room, I don't think it's wraith.”
Cassie ran her hand over the crystal and felt some of it's residual power indicating that it had been operational until a short time ago. The blue of the crystal pulsed once, weakly then flickered out again and Rodney placed his flashlight near the machine, angling it over the control panel so that he could try and understand what it was.
“Rodney, it's still warm, it's not long been turned off!” Rodney glanced up, understanding that her increasing abilities allowed her to understand things on a quicker level than he did. “So, what turned it off?”
Cassie sighed. “Me... I'm guessing that when I turned on that device in there, I somehow triggered the 'off' for this one at the same time...”
Rodney was confused. “So, what does this one do?”
“Think about it Rodney... the wraith suddenly stop their experiments here for no apparent reason and that transmitter in there, suddenly stops transmitting.” Rodney snapped his fingers as he caught on. “So, this crystal device, is a repellent, or a signal blocker of some sort, possibly set up by the ancients to screen the planets life signs from the wraith. Once it was activated, it effectively cancelled out the transmitter and the wraith, unable to understand why their device no longer worked and not able to get it going again, stopped everything and just left!” Rodney was on a roll now. “So, if we can get this crystal back on line, then that will turn off the transmitter?”
“That would be my guess Rodney. Tricky part will be working out how to turn it on as it doesn't seem to have reacted to my presence, apart from that initial flicker when we arrived. If I put my hand on the control panel nothing happens.”
Rodney was thoughtful, running through his mind some of the different ancient devices they had come in contact with. “Perhaps it requires two with the gene to operate it, along the same lines as the Atlantis fail safe.'' He keyed his comm. “Sheppard, we may have found a way to turn that transmitter off but there is a little complication and we need you here, but there are wraith everywhere...”
“Copy that Rodney. Ronan has just arrived with reinforcements and for now, the people of the city are safe and the marines are doing their best to take out as many foot soldiers as they can. The darts seem to be concentrating their efforts away from the city. Give me your location and I'll get there as quickly as I can... and Rodney?” He waited for Rodney to acknowledge. “How is she...?” John's question was on Rodney's private channel only and Rodney turned away from Cassie to voice his reply to John. “Stronger than you think Colonel...”
It took John nearly an hour to join them in the concealed room. Wraith activity was still prevalent around the cave and he managed to kill a few on his way to meet them, anxious to even the playing field just a little. The little room was indeed well hidden and he gave them warning of his arrival via the comm link so that they knew it was him when the door opened stealthily.
“Colonel, glad you could join us!” Rodney was beginning to feel a little claustrophobic, shut up in the dark in such a small space with only the light from their torches. “Knock it off Rodney! I came as fast as I could – it's like a damn mine field out there! Cass? You ok?” He deliberately kept his voice brusque, not wanting to incense her further. John set up his flashlight in another corner of the room to give them more light and noted Cassie with her back to him and heard her muffled reply, equally brusque. “Fine... Colonel.” He squeezed his eyes shut. Ok, so there would be hell to pay when he got back.
“Ok, so we're all fine. What do I need to do?” She turned then and he saw that she had been crying, just a little and he flicked his eyes away. Now was not the time to deal with this. Rodney, sensing the tension in the small room, made an effort to get them focused. “Cassie thinks we need two strong genes to operate this.” He proceeded to give John a brief rundown of what they thought the device had been intended to do and John felt a surge of relief that they might actually get out of this in one piece and be able to restore the planet to it's original protective state. He came to the control panel and placed his hands alongside Cassie's, deliberately overlapping them slightly, so that his fingers brushed hers. He felt her breath hitch slightly at the contact and moved closer so that their shoulders touched lightly.
“Cass, look at me.” he said softly. “No John, right now I'm angry, disappointed and a whole damn range of other emotions. I don't want to talk to you. Let's do this so that we can get this goddam machine turned on and let these people's lives get back to normal.”
“What about ours?” John asked so quietly that Cassie unconsciously leaned closer to hear. She chose not to reply, but pushed her mind at the machine, sensing John doing the same, venting his frustration into a tangible task and the crystal, after an initial flicker, suddenly erupted into a brilliant pulsing blue and the room was bathed in light.
“You did it guys! Looks like all systems are go!.” Rodney said triumphantly. Cassie slumped slightly, both in relief and exhaustion and it was Rodney who reached out for her to give her some support. Leaning against him, using just a bit of his strength, she sensed the coiled energy in the man beside her as he sought to push down the anger he was feeling.
They heard running footsteps in the tunnels outside, then a long period of silence, broken only by John's ear comm activating.
“Sheppard! The wraith are leaving, the darts have gone and the cruisers are leaving also. Whatever you guys did, it worked.” Ronan's voice continued. “I'm bringing the people out of hiding now.”
Rodney, after ging Cassie's back a quick rub, dropped down to his hands and knees under the device. “What are you doing Rodney – we need to leave?” John had pocketed his flashlight.
“I'm just looking for a way to remove the device so that we can take it back to Atlantis to study it. This is just what Elizabeth is looking for. One of these on Atlantis to repell the wraith.”
“Rodney are you nuts? If you take this device, it will leave the people of the planet defenceless. I swear to god that only one side of your brain works at times...”
Rodney had the good grace to look slightly ashamed. “I was just going to borrow it for a short time, take it back to Atlantis to reverse engineer it, then bring it right back!”
“No Rodney, you can come back another time with a team, to study it, but you will not remove it. Is that clear?”
Muttering under his breath, something about being owed a dinner anyway, Rodney was the first to leave, John laying a hand on Cassie's arm to delay her. She stilled, and he pushed his face into her hair, nuzzling her neck. “I'm sorry sweetheart. Talk to me, don't shut me out.” She had no words for him right now, but turned and buried her face against his chest and he held her, knowing that a battle waged inside her, one that she did not know if she could win.