It seemed to Major JohnSheppard that the flight back to Atlantis took much
longer than it had when he had left only forty eight hours earlier.He stared
out of the screen in front of him, trying to steady his hands at the controls to the tiny puddle jumper.The stars blurred in his vision, but he thought he could see one very brilliant blue star that seemed to
burn brighter than the rest.
He tried the radio again.
“Atlantis . . .This is Major . . . Major Sheppard,
Puddle Jumper One.Do you read?”He brought his right hand to his head.The headache that had started hours
ago was getting worse.He coughed, shaking his head.“Have a medical team ready.I . . . I’m having
a hard time flying this thing.”He glanced at the man sitting unconscious
in the copilot’s chair next to him, then tried to focus on the blur of alien stars in front of him.
The planet in front of
him was growing larger, a brilliant blue globe . . . or was it the fog that had been growing in his vision that was making
it appear to be a planet?The screen in front of John
showed him Atlantis’ coordinates, and he painfully started to pull the ship into position, but the screen had to be
lying.Atlantis was closer than the coordinates the ship was showing him.
“Situation . . .”
he began.It was getting difficult to speak.“Situationis . . . I don’t know.Have a med team standing by.” John
shook his head, coughing again.Atlantis was below him, and he started to make
his descent.The waves on the surface were dancing in his vision, just as the
stars had been dancing and blurring together earlier.
“My team . . . They’re
dead.They’re all dead.It’s
just McKay and I.”
* * *
stirred, a heavy pain pounding through his head.He groaned, then cracked his
eyes open, realizing he was sitting sprawled in a chair.
“Ow . . .”
he complained, pressing a hand against his head.“Ow!”
The screen in front of
him in the puddle jumper was dark, showing only a few stars drifting by.McKay
squinted, looking around the dark foredeck of the jumper.
Sheppard was sitting slumped
over the controls in the captain’s chair next to him, his head turned away from Rodney.McKay jumped up, ignoring his own pain and hurrying over to the Major.He took the man by the shoulders and pushed him up, propping him against the chair.Sheppard’s body was absolutely limp.McKay
began to feel a bit panicky.Blood from a gash on the Major’s head had
pooled across the jumper’s control board.
Sheppard.Major, can you hear me?”He shook the man as much as he dared, then tried lightly slapping his blood covered
face.Sheppard didn’t stir.
“Oh crap.”McKay looked around the jumper.He really had no idea how to fly the jumper, and was certain that wherever they were, he wouldn’t be able to
get them back to Atlantis.
A screen popped up in
front of him, showing him their position in the uncanny way that the Atlantean ship knew what he wanted.He didn’t recognize the coordinates.
he exclaimed in frustration.He turned his attention back to the Major, not certain
what to do.He finally dragged the Major from the chair to lay him flat on the
deck.It was then he noticed a deep gash over nine inches long that was cut along
the side of John’s left knee.Blood had
soaked his pant leg from the thigh to his boot.McKay was afraid
to look for anymore injuries, and felt a little queasy at the sight of so much blood.He was starting to realize that he had no idea what had happened to put Sheppard in the position that he was now in.McKay also realized he couldn’t remember when he had lost consciousness,
or even why.
“Come on, Major,”
he pleaded.“You’ve got to wake up!”
Receiving no reply or
indication of waking from the unconscious man, McKay turned back to the controls.After a few moments of fiddling around, he surmised that the ship was adrift.A few more minutes of experimentation revealed that the jumper’s main thrusters were out, so he tried
to put the ship on as much of the thrusters that were left as he could, aimed it at what he thought was Atlantis, and hoped
that he had done right.
A faint groan sounded
behind him, and the doctor jumped up, hurrying to Sheppard’s side.The
Major was stirring, though it seemed as though he was having trouble focusing.
“Major!Major, can you hear me?”
Sheppard asked faintly.
“Yeah.Are you okay?”
Sheppard paused, grimacing
in pain.“No.No . . . I don’t
not the only one who’s a little off . . . I don’t know where we are.The
puddle jumper seems to be damaged.We’re barely moving out here and I don’t
think we’re anywhere near Atlantis.”
. . .” Sheppard’s eyes started to roll back in his head, but McKay grabbed the front of his shirt,
shaking him slightly.
close your eyes, Major!” he exclaimed.
“I just want to
sleep,” Sheppard replied painfully, closing his eyes.
“No!I think you have a concussion.If you fall asleep, you might
not wake up again, and then we’d both die out here because I don’t know how to operate this thing!”McKay was slightly beyond frantic at that point.
Sheppard tried to open
his eyes.“It’s easy . . .”
“Not for me it isn’t!I would rather enjoy the ride then have to work for it,” McKay
replied.“I could tell you how this thing works and maybe be able to fix
it, but I’d never be able to fly it . . . ever!”
Sheppard could almost
see Rodney’s hackles rising as he sputtered, not sure how to respond.
“Well, he naturally
has the Ancient gene and I don’t!”
Sheppard almost laughed
. . . except he knew if he would have, his lungs and ribs would have ripped themselves apart.His chest felt as though it already had been torn open, and he felt numb from the pain.
“Help me up,”
he managed to say.
struggled to pull John up.The man was heavier
than he looked, and McKay tried to be careful when Sheppard involuntarily let out a gasp of pain as he put
weight on his injured leg.It took only a few seconds for McKay
to break out in sweat from the effort of getting the Major back into the pilot’s chair.
said weakly, touching a few buttons on the control panel.“This thing can
basically fly itself.You’re just the guide . . . that’s what makes
it so easy.”McKay flung out an arm to steady him when
he suddenly swayed to the side, his eyes rolling back in his head.
“Whoa!Stay awake now!” he commanded nervously.“You
haven’t told me enough yet.”
Sheppard seemed to be
having a harder time being coherent.He slurred something at McKay,
but the doctor could not make out what he said.
he said desperately.“Stay with me now.”
Sheppard moaned loudly.His eyes were closed tight, and his face had a grey hue
added to his already pale skin.
mind went blank.Suddenly he remembered the emergency medical kit located in
the back of the puddle jumper.He scrambled to the back and found the small box
and brought it back to the front.
Rodney rummaged through the kit’s contents
and didn’t come up with anything that looked as though it might wake Sheppard up.He pulled out some bandages and alcohol and decided to take care of Sheppard’s leg wound.Luckily, the man had lapsed into unconsciousness, or else McKay was certain that the alcohol
he was applying to the wound would have made a stronger man squirm.
In the process of trying
to fix the leg wound, McKay discovered more blood seeping through the Major’s jacket.He peeled the coat off and discovered three bullet wounds, two in Sheppard’s left shoulder, and one
just under his right rib in the gut.
“This just keeps
getting worse,” McKay swallowed.
Screwing the cap back
on, McKay sat back, thinking hard.He definitely was suffering
from a memory lapse.He remembered . . . remembered what?
“This is so frustrating,”
he said aloud.He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remember . . .
Smoke billowed up from the dry ground, and sweat poured down McKay’s back as he tried to run faster.Sheppard
was behind him, fear in his eyes and his gun clutched tightly in both hands.Smith
and Derren ran at a good clip in front of McKay, and Rodney struggled to keep up.It was one of those
times where he wished he had been military so he would have at least been forced to get into shape.
A dozen wraith raced after them, and Sheppard turned to fire on them, his machine gun blazing as Rodney ran past him.
As suddenly as the memory
had begun, it stopped, just as though someone had pushed a button.
Sheppard was moving slightly
on the floor, and McKay knelt by him.
“Come on, Major,”
he shook the man as much as he dared.“Wake up!Please?”
Sheppard stirred again,
his eyes shut tight, yet still not making a sound.
Sheppard,” McKay tried to muster as much authority into his voice
as possible.“Major Sheppard!Wake up!That’s an order!”
opened his eyes.
quit pretending to be a military officer,” he whispered.There was a wheeze
in his voice, and his breathing was beginning to be more labored.
“Major, you have
to stay awake,” Rodney pleaded.“I’m
missing a lot of time.I don’t know what happened to the jumper.If you can tell me what happened, I could most likely get us back to Atlantis a lot quicker.”
back yet?” Sheppard murmured in surprise.
“No.I don’t know where we are, but Atlantis isn’t anywhere close to here.It isn’t showing up on the screen . . . Either that or my gene isn’t working.”
there,” Sheppard replied faintly.“I had us right there.”
probably delirious or something,” McKay said.“I
estimate we’re probably ten hours out.”
“What . . . ?”
ten hours.”McKay started pacing.“We’ve got to get you back now, not in ten hours.”
it,” Sheppard replied weakly.
“What happened to
the radio?” McKay demanded.“It’s been blasted
to smithereens.It looks like some took a pistol to it; it’s got so many
holes in it!”
answer, and Rodney could see the man was losing his fight against unconsciousness.He quickly knelt down next to him, shaking his shoulders as gently as he dared.
“Come on, Major!Don’t pass out on me!”
Smith and Derren had paused to fire on the wraith pursuing them, and were taken down by the aliens for their efforts.The killing was swift and precise as the wraith sucked the life from their bodies.
“Get down!Get down!” Sheppard screamed.
Rodney immediately dropped,
and heard bullets singing over his head where his body had been seconds before.The
wraith had taken Smith and Derren’s guns from the dead men’s hands and were firing at will towards Sheppard and
McKay.McKay lay frozen on the ground, afraid to move.Sheppard stood
a few feet away from him, returning fire, keeping himself between the wraith and McKay.
“Get to the jumper, McKay!” Sheppard ordered.“Move it!”
was able to muster up enough courage to get his head off the ground.
At that moment, Sheppard stumbled back, his body jerking convulsively and a sharp cry of pain escaping him.He fell backwards to the ground.
“Major!” McKay screamed.He was afraid to move, but when Sheppard didn’t reply,
he scrambled over to the man on his stomach.The wraith had figured out how to
reload the guns and continued their deadly assault.McKay could hear the shots
hitting the jumper, and he hoped that they didn’t hit any important equipment.
Sheppard was lying flat on his back, a hand pressed over his left shoulder.Blood
was seeping through his fingers and his lips were pressed tight together against the pain.
“Get to the jumper, Rodney,” Sheppard gritted out through clenched teeth.“That’s
“With all due respect, Major, I’m not in the military,” Rodney replied.
The wraith were getting closer, and the doctor knew they had to move.He
pulled Sheppard up and slung his right arm over his shoulder in an effort to hold him up and stumbled towards the jumper.The wraith continued advancing, only wanting to injure their prey and not kill them.
The jumper was so close, only a few more steps and they would be inside.
* * *
realized he must have fallen asleep again, and cursing, checked his watch.He
had been out for an hour.He was sitting in the copilot’s chair, the remains
of the radio spread out on the smooth console before him.Sheppard was still
lying in the same position he had been in an hour before on the floor, unconscious.McKay checked on him, then started pacing the jumper’s cabin again, brainstorming.
The radio was a no-go.It had been hit multiple times with bullets and would not work again . . . so he would
have to make a new radio.Rummaging through all of the equipment that was kept
on the jumper, McKay pulled everything out, going through every container’s contents until he had nearly
everything that he needed.Setting to work once more, he decided to check on
The puddle jumper’s
computer showed him their present course and heading on the screen, and frowning, McKay leaned closer.Dismay hit him like a bullet.
The ship had slowed in
its course, and at their present rate, they would not make it to Atlantis in ten hours.It would take nearly ten days.Calculating quickly their present speed
and the speed he had been aware of before passing out again, McKay realized that they were dropping speed
exponentially, and would eventually come to a full stop in dead space.They would
never make it back to Atlantis.
* * *
The wraith were getting closer, and McKay struggled with the Major’s weight.Sheppard managed to twist around
to fire a few shots at the wraith, then took another bullet to the gut.McKay
felt the terrible jerk in the man’s body as he fell against the doctor, and realized Sheppard could no longer stand.Determined not to lose, Rodney pulled Sheppard with him towards the jumper’s open door.They were almost there.
turned at the sound of Sheppard’s voice.
“Water . . .”
“Oh!”McKay pulled the water bottle from his belt and got out of his chair
where he had been working to kneel beside the Major.He got a hand under Sheppard’s
head and helped him partially sit up so he could drink.
“Thanks . . .”
Sheppard murmured, falling back to the floor again.The effort had seemed to
drain him, and Rodney noticed he looked much paler than before.The pain alone could slowly kill a man.
doing?”Rodney thought about telling the
Major their plight, but then decided against it.
Sheppard grimaced.“Fit as a fiddle . . . with broken strings.Got any aspirin?”
dug around in the medical bag and produced the pills.“I’m guessing
you want a big dose?” he asked.
Sheppard nodded weakly,
and Rodney gave him three of the pills, not wanting to give him too much since he did not know
how long they would be in the jumper.
“How much longer?”
couldn’t lie.“We’ve come almost to a full stop.We’re not going anywhere unless we can contact Atlantis.I’m
trying to make a long range radio right now.I’m not giving up, yet.”
seemed to take the news well.He nodded once, then closed his eyes, drifting
back into unconsciousness.
They were inside the jumper, and Sheppard summoned new strength, pushing himself away from Rodney as two wraith ran into the ship behind them.One swung the end of his stunner around, catching McKay square on the side of the head.The doctor went down fast, without a sound.
Wounded as he was, adrenaline started rushing through Sheppard’s system, and he yelled in defiance, catching
the end of the wraith’s stunner and wresting it out of the alien’s grasp.If he hadn’t caught the wraith by surprise, he was sure he would have never pulled the stunner out of the wraith’s
hands.He stabbed the wraith in the stomach with the weapon, showing no mercy.The alien fell backwards like a rock out the door, dead before he hit the ground beneath
The other wraith that had boarded blindsided Sheppard on the side of the head, smashing the Major to the floor.Half stunned, Sheppard couldn’t move for a moment, then summoned the strength
to launch himself off of the floor and into the wraith’s legs.The pair
tumbled down the ramp outside the jumper.
Sheppard left the stunner where it had fallen and ignored the wraith, turning back to the jumper, but the alien grabbed
the stunner, and, attempting to impale Sheppard’s left leg, grazed the side of his knee instead.Sheppard immediately lost all feeling in his leg and went down, nauseated from the pain.The wraith flipped him over, roaring in triumph and pulling his arm back to deliver the killing blow.Sheppard blindly grabbed for the stunner near his side and impaled the wraith.It slumped, a surprised look on its face, towards the ground.
Sheppard scrambled out from beneath the alien and pulled himself into the ship.The other wraith had nearly reached the jumper, and he shut the doors just in time.They banged on the outside of the ship as he pulled himself painfully into his seat.Black spots were beginning to dance before his eyes.Automatically, he
turned the ship on and took off.Dull thumps from the wraith weapons hit against
the ship’s hull continuously until he reached the upper atmosphere of the planet.The black spots in his vision were growing into a cloudy haze, but Sheppard slid out of his seat next to McKay.
“Come on, McKay, can you hear me?” he asked.
The doctor made no response, and Sheppard pulled him into the copilot’s seat and tugged the safety straps over
his shoulders in case they hit any turbulence.Exhaustion hit the Major, and,
before he could lose consciousness, he programmed the jumper to head towards Atlantis.
The black haze turned into night.
“Hello?Atlantis?Can you hear me?” Rodney
tried the radio for the fifth time in ten minutes.He knew it was working, but
he was not sure how far its range extended.
“Hey, is anybody
out there?Anybody listening?Hello?Atlantis?”
Still no reply.
“This is Dr.RodneyMcKay to Atlantis.Can anyone hear me?”
This time, a faint crackle
sounded from the radio.Rodney jumped on it eagerly.
“Atlantis!Can you hear me?This is McKay.”
The crackle continued,
still white noise on the radio, but Rodney imagined he could hear a faint voice sounding through
* * *
Weir was summoned from
her room around two o’ clock in the morning.Feeling exhausted, she entered
the control room rubbing tired eyes.
“What is it?”
receiving a radio transmission for the past twenty minutes, ma’am,” the night tech answered.He took his hand away from his headset and pressed a button on the control panel in front of him so Weir
“Don’t know . . . can hear . . . is . . . Sheppard’s in . . . can you . . .?”
“Can you clear up
the signal?” Weir asked, her brow furrowing in concern.
The tech shook his head.“This is the best it’s been.I
wasn’t even sure if I was hearing anything at first.I’ve been trying
to reply, but I don’t think he can hear me.”
“Is that Dr.McKay?”
“I think so, ma’am.”
Weir glanced at her watch.“When was Sheppard’s team due back?”
The tech glanced at his
computer.“Five hours ago, ma’am.”
Weir closed her eyes,
then said, “Has he said anything else or is this a loop?”
“It’s no loop.He’s been saying all sorts of things, ma’am,” the tech grinned,
then sobered quickly.“From what I’ve heard, though, it doesn’t
sound like they’re in good shape.I think he’s been trying to get
us to send someone out after them.”
“Can Atlantis pinpoint
their location from here?”
“Only if they’re
close enough, ma’am.”
“Check for me.”
After a few minutes’
search, the tech pulled up a display and pointed, explaining to her, “It looks like they’re just under six hours
out.They’re sitting dead in space.”
Weir wasted no time, slapping
the communication’s console.
“Ford, Teyla, put
a team together and meet me in the gate room.”She didn’t care that
it was , and knew that they would appear all the more faster because of the
* * *
“The luck of the
Sheppard shook his head
slightly.“I’m just holding on with the luck of the Irish.All I’m hoping is that somewhere in my heritage I had some Irish ancestors.You know . . . I feel like I’m flying sometimes.Maybe
. . . maybe it’s the drugs.”Sheppard chuckled, then stopped abruptly
when the movement brought waves of pain over his body.
not exactly flying anymore,” McKay retorted.“We’ve
come to a full stop, now.Let’s just hope Atlantis gets here soon.”
“Are . . .
are they coming?”
shook his head.“I don’t know.I thought I heard something on the radio, but I couldn’t be sure.It’s
two o’ clock in the morning there, you know.I’m sure the guys on
duty are using this time to catch up on a little shut eye.”
do that,” Sheppard replied quietly.
hope not,” McKay responded.Or we’re dead, he almost added.
* * *
“Hey!Can anyone hear me?Hello!”
Sheppard opened his eyes,
unaware that he had fallen unconscious again.He looked at Rodney
who was sitting unconscious in the copilot’s chair.
There was that voice again.It had woken him up.It took a few seconds
for Sheppard to realize that the voice was coming from the radio that was lying on the console before McKay.After a few moments’ struggle to get himself into a sitting position, the Major
pushed back the pain in his body and crawled forward to his chair.Getting into
the chair proved to be harder than he first thought, and he struggled to stay conscious against the pain.Finally, he was in the chair.He reached for the radio and
flicked the ON switch.
Sheppard?This is Ford.We’re right above you.We found some sort of grappling hooks on our jumper.We’re going
to tow you with us back to Atlantis.”
“Great.That’s just great . . .”
“Not really . .
“He’s here.”Sheppard was finding it increasingly hard to concentrate on keeping up the conversation
and keeping his eyes open.The concussion, he reminded himself.“He’s . . . he’s in pretty bad shape.Unconscious.Smith and Derren didn’t make it.”
There was a short silence
as Ford absorbed the information, then he said, “We’re about five and a
half hours from Atlantis.Can you guys hold on that long?”
There was no answer, and
Ford stared at Teyla worriedly.
“I will try and
keep up communications with them,” Teyla assured the young Lieutenant.“You
concentrate on getting us back to Atlantis as quickly as possible.”
It took the Athosian only
a few minutes to establish contact with their companion jumper.Sheppard drifted
in and out of consciousness, and was aware of her voice only after she repeated herself several times.
“Teyla . . . ?”
Sheppard, it is good to hear your voice,” she smiled.
“Where are we?”
“We are several
hours away from Atlantis,” she explained.“We are in another jumper
and are towing you back with us, remember?”
“Is he hurt badly?”
“He got hit in the head pretty bad.I got shot up, but other than that,
we’re fine.”Coughing sounded over the radio, and Sheppard wheezed,
“Yeah . . . maybe a little less than fine.”
on, Major Sheppard.We shall
be back to Atlantis soon.”
Five hours later, Ford
released McKay and Sheppard’s jumper, allowing the Major to guide it into Atlantis.The jumper wobbled unsteadily, but Sheppard had assured Ford that he could land the ship.
The puddle jumper settled
a little heavily in the docking bay, and Dr.Weir
was ready with Dr. Carson Beckett and the medical team when the door opened.Major
Sheppard and Dr.McKay
did not come out.
looked at her a little worriedly, then pushed his medical team forward into the spacecraft.Weir followed.
Sheppard was sitting trembling
in the captain’s chair, his hands still wrapped around the flight controls.Blood
streamed down the left side of his face, and his expression was full of pain, his eyes glassy.McKay was sprawled in the chair next to him, apparently unconscious.
took a quick look at McKay and had his team haul the man out on a stretcher, then turned to John.
Sheppard,” Beckett knelt next to him, gently pulling his hands away
from the controls.“Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Sheppard shook his head
slightly, his lips pressed tight together against the pain he seemed to be feeling.
looked into his eyes and pulled out a penlight, flicking it in the Major’s eyes, then looking at his head wound with
“He’s in shock,”
he said to Weir.He motioned the med team forward with the stretcher, and then
took hold of Sheppard’s arm.
“Major, can you
Sheppard tried to push
up from the chair, then doubled over, his legs collapsing beneath him and a sharp groan escaping him as he clutched his stomach.Weir then noticed the blood running down his left leg.An ugly gash was cut into his leg just above the knee.She couldn’t
tell if there was any blood on his body due to his black attire, but at an angle, the light showed his shirt to be wet.He coughed, a painful, hacking cough, and blood flecked the floor at his feet.
“Get him on the
stretcher!” Beckett ordered.
Four of the orderlies
helped Beckett lift the Major gently onto another stretcher.Becket
pushed Weir out of the way and rushed Sheppard out of the jumper to the infirmary.
The doctor wouldn’t
let Weir into the infirmary.“You’ll have to ask Major
Sheppard and Rodney what happened later, Elizabeth,”
he said, rushing her out of the room and pulling gloves on at the same time.“Neither
of them are in any shape to be talking to you right now.As much as I want to
know what has happened, they shouldn’t be put under any more stress.”
had to satisfy herself with that, though worry began eating at her like a plague.What
had happened out there?Sheppard had come back only with RodneyMcKay and both appeared gravely injured.He
had said that his team was dead, but what had happened?She felt sick and leaned
against the wall outside of the infirmary, her head in her hands.Now seemed
to be a good time to pray.
Two hours later, Beckett
emerged from the infirmary to find Weir still outside of the room, sitting on the floor, her face in her hands.
“Dr.Weir,” he exclaimed in surprise.She
looked up, her eyes bleary.He extended a hand to pull her up.
“How are they, Doctor?”
she asked wearily.
“Not good, I’m
afraid,” he answered.“Major Sheppard
suffered a good knock on the head, some fractured ribs and internal bleeding. He
was shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the ribs, and somehow got a nasty gash on his left leg.The leg wound narrowly missed a major artery.I can’t
tell what did it, be it a knife or some other weapon.I’m most afraid of
an infection at this time.We’ll just need to wait and hope he can pull
“He has been unconscious
the entire time.I can’t seem to wake him at this point, and I won’t
try drugs yet.It looks as though he suffered a concussion as well, though he
doesn’t have the extreme trauma as Major Sheppard.”
Sheppard told you anything?”
“No.He passed out almost as soon as we got him into the infirmary.I
have him on an IV and a sedative right now, and he won’t be coherent for a while.I’d like to know what happened out there as much as you do.”The
doctor looked down, sadness in his voice.“We lost some good people.”
Elizabeth replied softly.She looked at the doctor, her composure returning.“Keep
Later, Weir learned that
Major Sheppard’s mission to a nearby planet did not go as well as
they had hoped.A wraith ship had been hibernating on the surface, apparently
damaged.The Atlantis team’s intrusion onto the ship caused its inhabitants
to wake, and then followed a bloodbath that neither Major Sheppard nor Dr.McKay were ready to talk about.Smith and Derren
had been taken down on their way back to the jumper, and the Major and the doctor barely escaped with their lives.With their jumper damaged, and both injured, their situation was dire and they barely made it back to Atlantis
luck of the Irish for you,” Sheppard had commented to Weir.“Except
I’m not Irish.Maybe McKay is.”
“Are you kidding?”
McKay groaned from the nearby bed.“I’m Canadian,
you get a last name like McKay?” Sheppard argued.
“For your information,
my name is not Irish.It’s—”
“Gentlemen!Enough bickering!” Dr.Beckett
intervened, pushing Weir out of the way.“Time to go now, Dr.Weir.They need their rest.”
Weir smiled.Sometimes she wondered just how much luck her teams depended on to survive in this
new galaxy.“The luck of the Irish indeed.”