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12 May 2012 @ 11:13 am
Come Away to the Slaughter (Come Away to the Water) - Part III  
Title: Come Away to the Slaughter (Come Away to the Water)
Fandoms: Stargate: Atlantis/Hawaii Five-0
Pairings: John/Elizabeth, Danny/OC, Ronon/Teyla, Steve/Kono, minor Cadman/Lorne
Rating: R for violence, scary situations, and language
Summary: When a zombie plague spreads through Hawaii (and the rest of the world), the 5-0 team has to make difficult decisions and flee their homes. Coming across a Stargate, but not understanding what it is, they have to choose between facing the horrors on their planet or escaping to somewhere unknown. When they end up in the Pegasus Galaxy, they think they're somewhat safe... until Atlantis falls and they're on the run again, this time with new friends and no idea where to go.
A/N: The biggest of thanks to citymusings for a) putting up with my insanity, b) dealing with a story that involved zombies, c) cheerleading of the highest order, and d) beta-ing this beast. This would not have gotten done without you, my dear.
A/N 2: Song referenced somewhere near the end is "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri.
Disclaimer: Gabby is the only main character that belongs to me.
A/N 3: Anybody reading my story "For This Dance We'll Move with Each Other" will recognize Gabby. She is, in fact, the same character. This is just an alternate way for her and Danny to meet.
Disclaimer: Gabby is the only character that belongs to me. Everyone else belongs to their respective creators and I'm just playing with them.



Danny wondered if maybe there was something wrong with him. He hadn’t thought that initiating contact with a new planet would be the most exciting thing he’d done in his life, but he thought that it might at least pique his interest. This was an alien culture, after all. The Kalkkaris, though, didn’t seem so alien. They reminded him of a hundred different villages he’d seen in medieval epic war movies. He didn’t think he’d actually ever say this, but he was almost starting to miss the armed conflicts that Steve was usually so good at getting them into.

He might have to admit it to himself, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to say anything to Steve.

Instead, he just bit back a sigh and settled deeper into the uncomfortable chair he’d been offered. If he didn’t keep on top of the conversation, Steve might feel prompted to start speaking. And since tact and negotiation with normal, civilized, non-gun-toting individuals weren’t exactly at the top of his acquired skills set, Danny thought it might be better to avoid that.

Even if the Kalkkaris were painfully dull.

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The Gate wasn’t supposed to activate. McGarrett and his team weren’t due for another day at least, and they were the only team off-world at the moment. In line with their training, his soldiers formed a half-ring in front of the Gate, prepared for whatever might make its way through.

But nothing came.

“Chuck?”

The other man shook his head. “It’s not someone trying to come through. I’ve got an audio feed, though.”

“Play it.”

“Colonel Sheppard, this is Ladon Radim. I have information I’m sure you’ll be interested in. No charge, either, which I’m sure will make you even more suspicious. But it’s just me out here. Your people can take my gun while I talk to you. I need you to trust me, Sheppard. For both our sakes.” There was a slight hesitation. “And for the sake of someone I know you care deeply about.”

Ronon and Teyla had come up to stand beside him.

“He sounds quite urgent,” the Athosian said.

“Who do you think he’s talking about?” Ronon asked.

Sheppard shrugged. “Who knows? With Ladon it could be anything.” He grimaced. “I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

Ronon grunted. “You got tortured for this guy. You don’t owe him anything.”

“I’m not sure the bad feeling is about this,” John said quietly. “Chuck, lower the shield.” He looked at his teammates. “We’re a little short on friends right now. Let’s not alienate Ladon until we know for sure he’s not worth the trouble.”

There was movement at the Gate, and then a single man was walking through. The shield went right back up behind him and he stood there calmly, arms raised to show that he meant no harm. A Marine stepped forward and divested him of his gun, quickly patting him down to make sure that he wasn’t carrying any other weapons. Then he looked up at Sheppard and nodded before stepping back.

“Ladon,” John greeted.

“Colonel Sheppard. I’m grateful you let me through so quickly. I was honestly expecting more trouble.”

John shrugged. “I figure I’ll just let Ronon shoot you if you make me regret this.”

The man’s eyes flickered over to Satedan for a moment. “That does sound like something you would do.”

“Get up here, Ladon. Let’s here what you have to say.”

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“You’re staying here, right?” Grace asked as Gabby tucked her into her father’s bed. Though the little girl had moved to her own bed a couple of weeks ago, she insisted on sleeping in Danny’s bed while her father was gone. Gabby couldn’t blame her.

“Absolutely,” she reassured her. “And you can wake me up if you need anything okay? Even if it’s a glass of water or because you had a bad dream.”

“Gabby?”

“Yes, darling?”

“Do you talk to God?”

The question startled her, but she recovered quickly. “I do, actually. With the amount of trouble Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay manage to get themselves into, I find it quite necessary at times.” She paused, tilting her head slightly to the side. “Do you?”

Grace nodded. “Mommy and I always talked to God before bed.”

Gabby seated herself gently on the side of the bed. “Do you have something you want to talk to God about tonight?”

“Danno? I’d like to ask Him to take care of him. Keep him safe.”

Gabby smiled. “I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

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“You’ve got a problem,” Ladon said as soon as they were all sitting around the conference table.

“We’ve usually got problems,” John shot back. “Care to elaborate.”

“Kolya.”

Everyone in the room froze at the man’s name. John focused on keeping his breathing steady despite the fact that his hands automatically clenched into fists that turned his knuckles white. It didn’t matter that it had been a couple of years since he had last seen Kolya - he would never be able to forget what he had put himself and Elizabeth through.

“What about him?” he gritted out. He could feel tension coming off of Ronon and Teyla in waves and Lorne looked like he was chiseled out of stone. There was no one in the room who didn’t hate Kolya.

“He’s been making trouble. And I think it’s about to affect you in a big way.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that he has a bounty out on your head, across dozens of planets. And not just you. He wants anyone from your team. Alive. The reward is...tempting.”

“For you?” Ronon all but growled.

Ladon shook his head. “I know Kolya all too well. I wouldn’t lend the man water if he was dying of thirst.” He looked straight at John. “He wants people close to you, Sheppard. He knows how much your team means to you. And he’s more than willing to exploit that. And rumor has it he’s got the resources to attract desperate people.”

“Looks like we’ll just have to be on our guard,” he said. “Well, more than usual, anyway.”

“That’s not all, Sheppard.”

“You’re telling me there’s more bad news?”

“I know why he wants your people.”

John frowned. “You just said it. He wants to hurt me.”

“No, I mean I know why he wants them specifically. I know what he plans to do with them.”

“And you couldn’t just spit that out?” Rodney exclaimed. “What are you trying to do? Drag it out for the drama?”

“Quiet, McKay.” John leaned forward. “Tell me.”

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Danny tossed and turned, but the mattress was just too damn uncomfortable. He had slept on a lot of unfortunate surfaces in his life - Steve’s couch being closer to the bottom of the list - but this sorry excuse for a bed was quite possibly one of the worst. No matter how he turned, something was sticking into him, or his hips would be pressed painfully against the wood floor underneath the mattress. How anybody could get a decent night’s sleep this way and then actually get up and go work in a field the next day was beyond him. Eventually, he decided to just get up and stretch his legs. He needed to go to the bathroom anyway.

Things with the Kalkkaris had been uneventful so far, which he supposed was a good thing. They seemed pretty open to the idea of being friendly with Atlantis, and they were damn good farmers. Being cut off from Earth, the city was going to need more resources for fresh food. All the same, Danny wasn’t looking forward to sitting in those uncomfortable chairs for another day, talking out of his ass. He almost wished Steve would blow something up so he could rant and yell his boredom out on his friend. That wasn’t very fair to the Kalkkaris, though, and Danny supposed he was just going to have to tough it out. Who knew being a space explorer could be so boring?

He ducked into the edge of the woods surrounding the village and quietly relieved himself. If he pushed away the knowledge that he was in another galaxy and just looked into the trees, Danny could almost believe that he was somewhere on the mainland back home. The forest reminded him of the one that surrounded his grandfather’s cabin up in Maine, and for a moment, Danny let a wave of homesickness wash over him.

He heard a twig snap somewhere to his right and automatically reached for his gun. It was probably just a squirrel, or another guy taking a leak, but he couldn’t be too careful. He might have been on a strange planet in a strange galaxy, but he was a cop and he wasn’t going to let somebody get the drop on him.

The dart came from the opposite direction, burying itself in his neck. Danny had just long enough to register the sting before the darkness closed in and his knees softened, dropping him to the ground.

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“As I’m sure you know,” Ladon explained, “the Wraith and the Replicators have been working hard to put each other out of business. For the most part, humans have been content to sit back and see how that plays out.”

“For the most part?” Ronon asked.

“Though I have no interest in getting involved in their war, it’s unlikely that they’ll simply destroy each other and leave us alone. One of them is going to win, and we are going to have to face that victor. Which is why I thought it prudent to find out whatever I could about both camps.”

“I take it you found something worth sharing?” John prompted.

Ladon shrugged. “I haven’t heard back from my man checking on the Replicators. But the Wraith aren’t just focusing on overwhelming their enemies by physical force. Turns out that they’re very interested in the science of things these days. They’ve got a location where they do experiments on Replicators, looking for different ways to defeat them.”

“I hope we’re not supposed to get choked up over the idea of Replicators being experimented on. They’re not human. They’re machines.”

“They’re experimenting on humans as well. There are rumors that they’re looking for a way to turn Replicators human.”

Rodney scoffed. “That’s impossible!”

“I’m not sure I disagree, Dr. McKay. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re trying.” Ladon turned back to Sheppard. “Kolya hates you. He wants to hurt you. And he also needs money and power. All of that adds up to him kidnapping your people and selling them to the Wraith as test subjects.”

“So does that mean we can just kill Kolya the next time we see him?” Ronon asked. “I mean, if he’s trying to sell us to the Wraith, it’s like self-defense, right?

“I think I’ve let him live enough times,” John agreed. “If I do it again, he’s just going to take advantage and try to kill me.”

“Like he did all of the other times,” Rodney pointed out.

“Exactly. And that just gets boring.”

“There’s more,” Ladon said, cutting into their banter. “We know of one Replicator they’re experimenting on now.” He paused, locking his eyes with Sheppard’s. “She used to be human.”

The air in the room suddenly disappeared for John. He tried to breathe in, but nothing happened. He was no longer aware of other people in the room. There was nothing except the fire in his chest and the intense need for oxygen. The walls began to tilt and he gripped the table in an effort stay upright.

Ladon was looking at him sympathy, which somehow made the whole thing even more painful.

“It’s her,” the Genii leader said. “It’s Dr. Weir.”

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Kono had to stay calm, because Steve couldn’t.

It was almost more than she could take, honestly. Losing Chin was still too raw to even think about, but the weight of it never went away. She’d shed tears for him since coming to Atlantis, but she wasn’t sure she’d truly mourned him. And every time she looked at Steve, she was reminded of her failure. Chin had been her cousin. She should have been able to put down the monster that had taken over his body. Instead, she had been weak, and Steve had had to do it.

A man who already carried more than his fair share of burdens.

And now Danny was missing. They’d searched everywhere, but there was no sign of him. The leaders of the Kalkkari had been completely cooperative, sending their own men out to aid in the search. The only thing they’d discovered was that three men from the village were missing as well. They had no families and had left behind no belongings. It wasn’t a stretch to believe that they had had something to do with Danny’s disappearance.

Steve was ready to tear into anything within reach. Unfortunately, at the moment that was Radek, and the poor man didn't deserve that. Kono reached out and rested a hand on his forearm, fighting back a wince when Steve flinched at her touch.

"It's not his fault, boss," she said quietly.

"I am sorry, Commander," Radek told him. "I know how much Detective Williams means to you. And if I could simply reach into the DHD and find out where they had taken him, I would. Unfortunately, that is just not possible. The last fifty gate addresses are stored in here, and not in any order. We would be guessing - which would most likely be a monumental waste of time."

"We are not leaving him," Steve hissed. "I don't leave people behind."

"And I am not suggesting that you do. But we have searched this planet, yes? And a villager confirmed that they saw the gate activate in the middle of the night. Detective Williams is no longer here. We should go back to Atlantis, brief Colonel Sheppard, and formulate a more efficient way to search. That would benefit us and Detective Williams."

Kono didn't need to point out that the scientist was right. Steve already knew it, and she could see the conflict in his face. Leaving the planet felt like leaving Danny behind. But the only way they were going to find him was with more help than they currently had.

"Let's go then," he said, his voice hard. "The faster we get back to Atlantis, the faster we get back to looking for him."

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The city was already abuzz when Steve and his team came back through the gate. Sheppard came down the stairs quickly, a frown on his face.

“You weren’t due back for another - Where’s Williams?”

“They took him,” Steve bit out.

“Who?”

“Some villagers. We searched everywhere, but there’s no sign of him. We’re pretty sure they took him off the planet.”

John glanced back over his shoulder and shared a look with Ronon. When he turned to face McGarrett again, his expression was tight.

“I think we might know where he is.”

“What? How?”

“Let’s get a team together so we can go get him. I’ll brief you on the way.”

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News traveled fast in the city. As soon as Gabby picked up on what was going on, she took Grace down to Malia’s quarters. When the doctor opened the door, Gabby wasn’t entirely surprised to see that Mary McGarrett was there as well. Both women had seemed pretty lost since coming to the city, and it made sense that they would become closer.

“I have a favor to ask,” Gabby said, forcing as light a smile onto her face as she could. “There are some things I absolutely have to tend to, and I was hoping that Grace could play with you while I’m busy.”

“I can’t come?” Grace asked, looking up with a sad expression.

Gabby squatted down in front of her. “Not this time, darling. But I promise to come get you just as soon as I’m finished, okay?”

The little girl nodded and Gabby got back up, facing Malia once more.

“Would that be alright?”

Despite the sadness in her eyes - Gabby wasn’t sure that would ever go away - the other woman smiled and nodded. “Of course. Maybe you, me, and Mary could get some lunch?”

“Okay.”

Malia stepped aside so that Grace could step into the room; once she was focused on Mary, the doctor looked back at Gabby.

“Is this about Danny?”

“I take it you’ve heard, then.”

“Yeah.”

“Grace doesn’t know. We’re going to go, we’re going to get him back, and she’s not going to spend the time in between worried that her father is dead.”

“We? You’re going?”

Gabby gave her a cold smile. “My skills are not relegated to simple paper pushing. Trust me - between Sheppard, McGarrett, and myself, we’ll bring him home.”

“Make sure you bring yourselves home, too.” She swallowed roughly. “We don’t need to lose anyone else.”

“Don’t worry. And thank you.”

Malia nodded. “Good luck.”

Gabby turned and headed back down the hall. Now she just had to convince Sheppard.

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“No way in hell.”

“I wasn’t asking your permission, John,” Gabby said evenly. “I was simply informing you that I was coming along on this little rescue mission.”

“No.”

“John -”

“You should let her come.”

They both looked up in surprise when Ronon spoke. The big man was checking one of his weapons, but he looked over to give Gabby an approving look.

“I’ve sparred with her a few times,” he continued. “She’ll be useful in there. Especially since Teyla’s not coming.”

The Athosian woman hadn’t been happy about it, but John needed her and Major Lorne to stay in the city. If something happened to the team, he needed to be sure that there were leaders in place to take care of his people. Teyla and Lorne were the best equipped to do that.

The rescue team consisted of himself, McGarrett, Ronon, Kono, and Rodney. He didn’t want Gabby to come along; he was already worried enough that this mission was going to be less than a total success. Ronon’s opinion, though, was not something to be taken lightly. If he said that Gabby was an asset, then that’s what she was. And the look on her face told him that she was getting on that puddle jumper one way or another.

“Fine,” he relented. “Just remember that you’re a civilian and if I tell you to do something, you do it.”

With that, he stalked off towards McGarrett. Gabby shared a look with Ronon.

“Do you really think Elizabeth is there, too?” she asked quietly.

His expression didn’t change, but the air around him seemed to tighten. “I don’t know. I hope so, though. For his sake, if nothing else.”

“Me too,” she whispered.

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The gate address that Ladon had given them dropped them off on a planet that looked like nothing more than a burnt up husk. The first village they came to was full of ashy ruins. Everything was cold and dead. Whatever destruction had happened there had happened a long time ago.

"Not exactly welcoming," Rodney muttered as they passed through.

"A good illusion, though," Kono observed. "Looters would think that there was nothing left of any value. And people looking for a new place to settle wouldn't see any fertile land. No one would have a reason to stick around and explore."

"Alright, the village Ladon put the facility in is two miles that way," John said, pointing to his left. "But the village we want is almost three miles that way." He pointed straight ahead of them.

"Why?" McGarrett asked.

"Ladon said there's an underground passage that should make infiltrating easier than knocking on the front door. And I like to avoid front doors whenever possible."

The trip was done in almost complete silence. Gabby positioned herself near Kono, and the women shared a look before turning their attention back to the men in front of them. Both of them had a lot at stake on this mission. Steve needed to find Danny. It wasn't just that Danny was his partner. Steve considered him a brother. Aside from that, there was Grace. Kono suspected that one of her boss' greatest fears was having to come home one day and tell Grace that her father wasn't coming back. He would do anything to keep that from happening.

John's position was slightly different. He would give almost anything to find Elizabeth alive and well. Gabby had caught him asleep in one of the common rooms and he had jerked awake, murmuring Elizabeth's name before realizing that he wasn't alone. It was clear that she still haunted him. Finding her was the only way to start healing that wound. If she wasn't there, though, it would be just another dead end. Another nail in the coffin of his hope. He'd had more than one of those in the past couple of years. Gabby knew that one more wouldn't break him. But it would take another piece of him, and she wasn't sure how much more of that he could take.

Once they reached the village, the entrance to the underground passage was right where Ladon had said it would be. John led the way once they were down there, everyone else falling behind and Ronon bringing up the rear. Kono was right behind Steve and she knew it was killing him to not take the lead here. He kept quiet though, his grip on his weapon tightening.

They ran into guards forty-five minutes later. John and Steve took care of them silently, moving as though they'd been fighting together for years. A common desperation linked them now, and it made it easier for them to predict what the other was going to do.

The facility was larger than any of them had been prepared for. They moved quickly and quietly, killing any Wraith that they came up against. They knew that it wouldn't be long before the alarm was raised, and they needed to find Danny before that happened. They worked their way to a computer station and let Rodney do his work. Even he was managing to keep his normal complaints to a bare minimum.

"Hurry up, McKay," John muttered under his breath.

"Do I really need to explain to you again that, despite my genius, some things just take time?"

"If you even try, I promise I'll shoot you myself," Ronon said.

"And I'll help him hide the body," Gabby added.

"I am constantly appalled at how intelligence is mistreated - I've got them."

Everyone stopped.

"Where?" Steve asked.

"Three levels down."

"Then let's go."

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Danny sighed as he sat down and leaned back against the wall, pulling his knees up against his chest. Despite the fact that he had been poked and prodded more in the past eight hours than he had been in his entire life, the only thing he could really focus on at the moment was the fact that he wanted his shoes back. It had taken him a long time to get used to the fact that people went without shoes all the time in Hawaii, but eventually he had at least accepted it. Here, though, in this sterile environment that felt part crazed science lab, part hospital, he felt like he should have shoes. Slippers, at least. But the bastards had taken his shoes and he didn't think he was going to get them back.

"I've been debating for the past two hours whether you're a plant or just a figment of my imagination."

Danny almost jumped out of his skin at the sound of the voice. It was a woman, coming from somewhere on the other side of the wall he was leaning against.

"What did you decide?" he asked, unsure of what else to do.

He could almost hear the shrug in her voice. "I decided it doesn't really matter. I miss talking to people. So you're just going to have to put up with me."

"I think I can handle that. How long have you been here?"

There was a pause. "I don't remember. A long time, though. Too long."

"Well, at least they haven't gotten rid of you yet. There might be some hope in that."

"Stay down here for awhile...I think you might change your mind about that." She paused. "What's your name?"

He didn't see the harm in telling her that. "Danny Williams. You?"

He heard a humorless chuckle. "It's been so long since anyone's asked. I used to be known as Elizabeth Weir. Back when I had people who knew me."

Danny froze, the name reverberating in his head as he replayed his conversation with Gabby. "Elizabeth? John's Elizabeth?"

He heard the catch in her breath through the wall. "How did you know that?"

"I'm from Atlantis," he explained. "I know Sheppard. I just saw him a couple of days ago."

For a little while, there was nothing but the sound of shaky breathing. "So he's alright?" she finally asked. "He's okay?"

"Well...he's still standing. He misses you, though. A lot. Everyone does."

The silence was longer this time, and when Elizabeth spoke again, he could hear the tears in her voice even as she tightly restrained them. "He told you about me?"

"No," Danny admitted. "But I get the feeling that Sheppard isn't big with the talking. Gabby shared your story."

"Gabby," she breathed. "So she's okay, too?"

"Yeah. She and Sheppard are pretty much running things. They're taking good care of your city."

Her voice was hollow this time. "It's not my city anymore."

"I get the feeling that it will always be your city. I'm pretty sure my team is looking for me. As much as I complain about him, my partner's a damn good guy, and he doesn't leave people behind. He's kind of obsessive about it, actually. So when he finds me, he'll find you, and then we can take you back to Sheppard and maybe he can stop looking like he lost his best friend."

"I'd like that," she said quietly. "I'd like to go home."

Danny winced. "Well...you can't actually go ‘home’ home."

"What do you mean?"

He told her about Earth.

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Things got quieter once they got down to what John assumed was the cell block of the facility. In his time in Pegasus, he had noticed that the Wraith suffered from a certain level of arrogance, and they could see that in the lack of security on that floor. They probably had the front door well-guarded and didn't expect anyone to know about the back way. They also probably hadn't been expecting a furious Navy SEAL and a desperate Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Their mistake.

Most of the cells were empty. John tried not to dwell on that. They moved down the darkened corridor as quietly as possible, checking each one before moving on. It was starting to look like a dead end when they finally stumbled onto Danny, sitting with his back against one of the side walls of his cell. For a moment they all just stared at each other and then the blond detective was getting to his feet.

"It's about time, McGarrett!" He turned to John. "You won't believe who..."

"Danny?"

Most of the team froze at the sound of her voice. John's eyes opened wide and he started to walk slowly down the corridor, until he could look into the cell next to Danny's. When he saw her standing there, hope and fear warring in her eyes, he had to swallow down a sob.

"'Lizabeth," he whispered, his voice rough and cracked. "It's really you?"

"It's me," she replied, a tear sliding down her face. "It's really you?"

John nodded, his resolve strengthening. "We're gonna get you out of here, okay?"

It was then that the alarms finally went off. The sound cut through the empty cells around them and both John and Steve swore.

"No time for finesse," McGarrett said, raising his gun. "Back up, Danny."

His partner moved to the back of his cell and Steve shot out the glass. John was already doing that to the other cell, and then he was helping Elizabeth get over the glass with her bare feet, his mind almost shutting down at the knowledge that he was touching her. He had found her. And now he was going to get her the hell out of here.

"Let's go!" he ordered.

They all rushed back the way they had come, with no time for reunions or words. By the time they reached their original level, though, it was obvious that there were too many Wraith for them to fight their way through. John shared a look with Steve and then stopped, causing the rest of the group to stop as well. Taking Elizabeth by the arm, he walked her over to Ronon, pushing her towards the Satedan.

"You get her out of here," he said firmly. "No matter what happens, you get Elizabeth back to Atlantis, you understand me?"

Ronon's face made it clear that he didn't like it, but he nodded. He carried his own guilt from pulling Sheppard away from Weir on the Replicator planet two years ago, and he wasn't going to let his friend down again. Elizabeth saw what they were doing and she was already shaking her head, taking a step back towards John.

"No," she argued. "You can't do this, John. We'll get out of here. All of us..."

He needed her to go. He needed to know that she was safe and that this time he wasn't going to let her down, and the time she was going to spend arguing with him was going to take away from the time she had to escape. Wrapping his free arm around her waist, he pulled her to him and kissed her softly, trying to memorize the way she felt against him.

"I'm sorry," he murmured, trying to make her understand.

Shouts came from one of the nearby corridors. Steve was pointing at Kono even as he prepared to make his stand with John.

"You get him back to Grace."

Kono wanted to argue that Ronon could handle it, but she just nodded, knowing that Steve needed her to make sure that it happened. He needed someone he knew, someone he trusted.

"Go," Sheppard ordered. "Get back to the rendezvous point and get the hell out of here! We'll make sure you're not followed. GO!"

Not a single one of them was happy about it; Danny and Elizabeth still voicing their objections. But the others pulled them away and they ran, leaving Steve and John to face the Wraith.

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The group managed to fight their way back the way they had come. Wraith were everywhere now, but they were never hit with more than they could handle. Everyone assumed that it was John and Steve throwing them off; splitting up in the face of the enemy was an illogical move and the Wraith didn’t know where to focus their efforts.

Once they were back at the entrance to the tunnel, Gabby stopped short, tugging on Ronon’s elbow.

“We can’t just leave them here,” she said quietly.

“Finally!” Danny said in relief. “So what’s the plan? We go back there -”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Gabby said firmly. She turned back to Ronon. “You’ll make sure they all get to the jumper safely?”

He nodded. “Think you can get Sheppard and McGarrett to the second rendezvous point?”

“What second rendezvous point?” McKay asked. “There is no second rendezvous point!”

“Not in your plan,” Ronon agreed.

“You guys had a second plan?”

Ronon shrugged. “Seemed like a good idea since we were dealing with Sheppard and McGarrett.”

Gabby leaned over and squeezed Elizabeth’s arm. “I’ll bring him back.”

The other woman gave her a small nod. “I would appreciate that.”

“Kill as many of those bastards as you can, okay?” Ronon asked.

Gabby smiled. “You got it, big guy. Now go.”

She made sure that they got into the tunnel without being followed and then headed back to where they had left John and Steve. Most of the people on Atlantis thought that Gabby was nothing more than an administrative lead. She handled the day-to-day business, serving as an executive secretary of sorts to whoever was leading the city. Elizabeth was the only one who knew how much larger her skill set actually was.

Gabby moved through the hallways silently, killing as she went. Wraith were not easy creatures to put down, as everyone in the Pegasus Galaxy knew. Using bullets was a waste of ammo, and the noise would have attracted others to her location. So she holstered her gun and pulled out her knife instead. The blade was really more of a dagger, something she had carried with her since her early twenties. The majority of her enemies’ bodies were heavily armored and difficult to get at. Moving swiftly and smoothly, she went for their throats and eyes. The arrogance of the Wraith served her well - none of them were expecting such a head-on attack.

By the time she got back to Steve and John, they were pinned down. They were both experienced fighters, but they were outnumbered by an enemy that had more than a few advantages over them. As she ran toward them at full speed, Gabby reached into one of the pockets of the jacket she wore and pulled out a grenade. Arming it, she threw it over their heads and into a pocket of Wraith.

“Get down!” she yelled.

She didn’t actually trust that they would hear her or obey. She had a moment to notice that both ducked even as they turned to look at her though, and she was mildly impressed. Then she was hurtling into them and knocking them both flat to the ground.

The explosion was loud, and she imagined very painful for the Wraith that were in its path. The men beneath her seemed to be in one piece, though, and she dragged them both to their feet.

"Come on, Maclane and Riggs. Let's get your pretty little asses out of here."

"Only if I get to be Maclane," Steve said even as they followed her down a passageway.

"Oh, hell no," John argued. "You are most definitely Riggs in this equation."

Gabby ignored their banter and led them down a series of passageways that were twisting and seemed to curl back in on each other. When laying out the floor plan of the facility as best they knew it, Ladon had shown them multiple ways of getting in and out. This particular way had been ruled out almost immediately because it was the most confusing. Which of course meant that Gabby had memorized it. She might not have been on John's team when they went off-world, but she knew him well enough to know that a crazy exit strategy should always be held in reserve.

Their path eventually dumped them into the tunnel that had brought them in from the other village. Instead of sticking with it, though, Gabby led them down another off-shoot that opened up only half a mile away.

"You know what you're doing, right?" John asked.

"I try to make a habit of it. You should try it sometime."

They turned a few more corners before Gabby stopped and squatted down. She pulled some C-4 out of her TAC vest and began setting the charges, keeping an ear open for any pursuit.

“Explosives,” McGarrett said. “I like it.”

“I don’t suppose you’d care to explain how an administrator knows how to set C-4 charges?” John asked.

“Not at the moment, no,” Gabby replied. “If you’d like, we can have story time once we get back to Atlantis.”

Once the charges were set, they continued on their way. The explosives went off less than two minutes after they moved on, the detonation rocking the corridor and causing small rocks and clumps of dirt to fall down on them. Picking up their pace, they kept running, praying that the explosion had at least slowed the Wraith down.

It was another thirty-five minutes of hard running before Gabby led them up and out of the ground. On the surface, John saw that they weren’t in another village. This tunnel entrance had been made to blend in with the forest around it.

“Now what?” he asked.

Gabby pointed toward a clearing. “Now we meet our ride.”

There was a shimmer in the air and then their jumper appeared. John could see Rodney sitting behind the controls, an agitated and terrified look on his face. The scientist still hated flying the jumpers, but he was really the only one that could once John and McGarrett had stayed behind to fight off the Wraith.

The three of them wasted no time running into the clearing and jumping into their ride. John’s eyes immediately sought out Elizabeth’s, reassuring himself that she was still there. She gave him a small smile and a nod, and it was so reminiscent of every other time he had come back from a rough mission alive that for a moment he had trouble breathing.

“Can we please get out of here?” Rodney whined.

John shook himself out of his memories and hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Move.”

“Oh, thank God.”

Rodney gratefully handed over the controls while Steve took a seat next to Danny and Kono. The blonde detective was giving his friend a death glare and eventually Steve sighed.

“Just get it over with, Danno.”

You,” he said, pointing at him. “You stupid, Neanderthal animal fool. You think you can just stand there and hold off a hundred Wraith? You think it’s okay to ask your partner - both of your partners - to just turn tail while you get to make some grand final stand? You think that’s what friends do? Let me tell you something -”

“You couldn’t fight, Danno.”

That actually made Danny stop. “Excuse me? And why couldn’t I fight? Did something happen to render me unable to pull a trigger?”

“No, but you couldn’t fight.” He glanced down at his partner’s feet. “You have no shoes.”

He said it like it was the most natural thing in the world, and Danny couldn’t do anything but stare at him, mouth hanging open. Steve looked over at him and gave him a tired smile.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Danno.”

Everything behind that simple statement seemed to take the wind out of Danny’s sails. He slowly closed his mouth and took a deep breath, some of the tension easing out of his shoulders.

“Thank you,” he said quietly. “Thank you for coming to get me.”

“Always will.”

Danny nodded and took another deep breath before looking up to see Gabby still standing by the back of the jumper. “And you - since when do you go off-world and save the day? And why are you still standing? There’s more than enough room to sit. McKay won’t bite. Well, he might. But we had him checked for rabies last month.”

Rodney took on an injured expression and opened his mouth to reply, but Ronon cut him off, looking sharply at Gabby.

"Something's wrong," he said flatly.

She waved him off. "Nothing's wrong, Ronon. I'm just...well, I guess I'm a little tired. It's been awhile since I've done anything like that..." She trailed off, her mind going fuzzy for a moment. "Oh dear." There was a sharp stab in her right side and she pressed her hand to the spot, frowning when she felt something warm and wet touch her skin. "Oh dear."

The inside of the jumper spun and her knees gave out. Without another sound she crumpled to the floor, Ronon and Steve converging on her just in time to keep her from slamming her head. They laid her out gently and Steve undid her vest and pulled her shirt up. A piece of shrapnel had embedded itself in her side, and he realized she must have taken the hit after throwing the grenade at the Wraith. Which meant that she had run more than three miles with blood seeping out of her.

"Step on it, Sheppard!" he yelled. He reached out and brushed the hair from her eyes. "Stay with us, Gabby," he whispered. "Stay with us."