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01 February 2008 @ 06:46 pm
Help from Unexpected Places: Hot Zone  
Hot Zone! One of my favourites. Enjoy. Previous parts are here.

Oh, and does anyone know anywhere else I could post these?

Hot Zone

John was really growing to hate practicing with Teyla. Especially since he generally spent more time flat on his back than he did actually fighting.

Case in point, as Teyla grew tired of dancing and, in three moves, had him disarmed and on his knees, choking on her staff.

"You have not been practising," she said disapprovingly.

"Yes I have," he protested.

"If this was really a fight ..."

"If this was really a fight, I would have shot you by now." Teyla let go, shoving him forward. "Y’know, no matter how many hours I put into this, you’re still gonna kick my ass."

"It is not for the winning that we practise," she reminded him.

"Well, what’s the point?"

She rolled her eyes at him, picking up her bag, and he scrambled to his feet to follow her. As they headed for the door, the city PA came on and they paused to listen.

"May I have everyone’s attention please?" Elizabeth said. "We have run into a questionable medical situation and at Doctor Beckett’s suggestion we have decided to put the city into a self-regulated quarantine. For at least the next couple of hours, I need everyone to stay where they are, and report anyone moving freely through the halls. I hope you’ll understand. Thank you."

"What the hell is this?" John said in surprise, swinging his bag off his shoulder and searching through it. "Did you bring your radio?"

She dug it out and passed it to him, watching him pace. His call to Elizabeth was intercepted by Bates; they spent a few moments arguing before she joined the conversation.

"McKay and Ford are both down there? I'm going after them."

"We're in quarantine, John," Elizabeth reminded him.

"Military head is supposed to be consulted in situations like this," John said tightly. "I’m ranking military officer here."

"Yes, I’m aware of that, Major. You were off radio and we had to act quickly. Now, this is all protocol that was put into place long before this expedition began. Bates is here with me and we agreed this was the best plan of action."

"Alright, alright. Teyla and I are coming up to join you."

"We’re in a self-regulated quarantine, Major. Everyone stays where they are."

"We’re nearly a mile away on the east pier," he protested. "D’you really think I’m in any sort of danger walking from here to the Control Room?"

"At this point we don’t know where they contracted the virus. This is a medical situation, John. Only authorised personnel in hazmat suits are allowed to roam freely – those rules apply to everyone, including you."

"Well, then, get someone to bring me a hazmat suit," John said very slowly, fighting his temper.

From her tone, Elizabeth wasn't doing much better. "Everyone in hazmat is busy configuring the lab to deal with a possible outbreak. Now if an opportunity arises, I will send somebody to come get you, but in the meantime, radio contact will have to do."

Alice put her head around the door, looking faintly curious, and he caught her eye. "Alright," he told the radio. "Just ... keep us in the loop."

"Will do," Elizabeth agreed, and the radio went dead from her end.

John stalked over to the bench, as far from Teyla as he could get in the room, and dropped his bag onto the bench. Under the noise, he hissed "Where have you been?"

"Around, like always. Did you want me?"

"We need to work on your initiative," he muttered.

"I'm not programmed for initiative."

"Next time a deadly virus breaks out of a lab, tell me, all right?"

"All right," she agreed, sitting on the bench.

"John?" Teyla said carefully. He turned to find her closer than he’d thought, watching him. "Are you speaking with someone?"

"Thinking out loud," he said quickly.

She studied him for a moment before nodding. "I believe I shall practice. Please, don't allow me to disturb your--thinking."

"You go right ahead and practice," he agreed. "I'll just..."

"Think," she finished for him.

He waited until she was engrossed in the movements to murmur, "Tell me what's happening."

Alice sguirmed on the bench, tugging at her top to resettle it. "Two of McKay's team found a viral research lab. They were careless, and the virus has spread. Three have died so far."

"What kind of virus? What's the cure?"

She shook her head. "All workstations within that lab are isolated from the main system. I have no access to their database." She hesitated, glancing away. "One of his team is running."

John gestured for her to continue. "Peterson. They're trying to stop him fr...ow! John, he's rewiring the door controls. Badly."

"Major Sheppard?" Elizabeth said suddenly.

"Yeah, we're here." Teyla propped her sticks against the wall and came to join him--barely out of breath, he noted enviously.

"We've lost another of Rodney's team."

"Who?" Teyla asked quickly.


John closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. "What does Beckett say?"

"He doesn't know yet. They're doing autopsies now; hopefully they'll tell us something."

"Everything else all right down there?"

John was carefully avoiding Teyla's gaze, but he could feel her staring at him. Yeah, she definitely suspects something, he thought tiredly.

"Peterson's attempting to make his way back to the city," Elizabeth said reluctantly.

"Someone has to do something."

"We are doing something," she said irritably. "Grodin’s working on a plan to limit the door controls..."

Alice was shaking her head. “That’s not good enough,” John interrupted Elizabeth. “Someone has to go out there and stop him. Teyla and I are ready.”

Major, we’ve been ...

He interrupted again. “Peterson obviously isn’t thinking straight and he’s endangering the entire population of the city.”

We don’t yet know the nature of the virus we’re dealing with. This is still a medical situation.

“Oh, we don’t have time for this. I’m heading out.” He rose to his feet, heading for the door.

Grodin, seal the gym,” Elizabeth ordered.

The door slid closed; John pulled up just short of walking into it. “What the hell is this?”

You said so yourself – you are the ranking military officer. I can’t chance you getting infected.

“I can’t chance you getting infected,” John retorted. “Bates?”

Yes, sir.

“Unlock the gym.”

Teyla was watching warily; she started to protest, hesitating when Bates answered “Yes, sir.

Stand down, Bates,” Elizabeth ordered. “You are not in command here, Major.

“Well, we’ll agree to disagree. Bates, open the door.”


“Elizabeth, he’s heading right for you,” John said frustratedly.

“He’ll reach Control within ten minutes,” Alice agreed.

So we’ll stop him. We’ll talk him down, we’ll block his way, we’ll...

“Sergeant Bates,” John said formally, “I am ordering you to open up the doors between the gym and the med lab right now.”

A moment later the door slid open. Teyla turned away, hiding a look of disgust, as John said “We’re heading out.” She followed him as he headed off at a run.

In the lab John pulled on his suit so fast he almost ripped it. Teyla was slower, more precise.

“You should not have undermined Doctor Weir’s authority in front of Sergeant Bates,” she told him.

“Sometimes Elizabeth makes a decision early on and gets locked into it. That’s a problem.”

“She is not the only one who suffers from that affliction,” Teyla said blandly.

John grimaced, touching his radio. “Doctor Weir, this is Sheppard. Teyla and I are ready to head out. What’s Peterson’s location?” She didn’t answer, and he pressed, “Elizabeth.

“E19-3,” Alice offered.

He’s in section E19, level three,” Elizabeth said finally.

John pulled his helmet on. “Let’s head out,” he told Teyla, glancing at Alice before leading the way.

“Stop,” Alice said a few minutes later, and John halted.

“What?” Teyla asked, pausing, but before he could answer their radios clicked on.

He’s just beyond the door,” Grodin told them.

“Thanks, Grodin,” John said, gesturing Teyla into position.

“Now,” Alice said, stepping to one side as the door slid open.

“Doctor Peterson, I presume,” John said lightly.

Peterson lifted his hands in surrender. “I’m not going back there.”

“You don’t have much of a choice.” He started to ease back, towards the doors he’d just come through, and John’s voice sharpened. “Easy.”

“I go back there, I get infected. That’s murder.”

“Once we ensure that you are not infected, you will be allowed back into the city,” Teyla said soothingly. “Until then, you are a threat to the rest of the population.”

“You won’t shoot a member of your own team.” Peterson dropped his hands, stepping forward.

“He’s infected,” Alice said warningly, and John raised his gun.

“Peterson. You will not be allowed to go back to the city.”

Peterson stopped, lifting his hands again. “OK, wait, wait, wait a second. Take me back to the medlab, just quarantine me there. I’ll go voluntarily – just please don’t make me go back there.” He glanced back at the open door with barely-concealed panic.

John glanced at Teyla and found her watching him, waiting for his decision.

“Really, I’m-I’m fine,” Peterson told them. “I’m fine. I feel perfectly fine.”

“He’s infected,” Alice said again. John nodded sharply, lifting one hand to his radio.

“Doctor Weir, this is Sheppard. Peterson has agreed to go back to the medlab until we can get this situation resolved.”

“John!” Alice said abruptly. Peterson was dashing for the nearby transporter, almost there before John or Teyla had even noticed.

“Stop!” John lifted his gun, shooting at the doors. Peterson yelled, sagging as the door closed.

“Mess ha...” Alice vanished mid-sentence and every door in view slid closed. John halted in the act of reaching for the transporter controls, staring uneasily around.

Alice reappeared. “..ll. That was odd.”

“What’s happening?” John asked. On the radio, everyone was talking over each other, and his question didn’t garner any attention.

“Medical lockdown. Atlantis knows Peterson’s infected. He got to the mess hall and now the city’s locking everyone down.”

Grodin and Elizabeth had figured out the same thing; over the radio, she asked, “Why now? Why not when Johnson and Wagner became infected?

The city’s detection systems might have been affected by the flooding in those areas,” Grodin guessed. “Once Peterson entered the Mess Hall, the pathogen was almost instantly detected by automated systems and the city protected itself.

Alright, what are my options?” Elizabeth asked.

Limited. As of now, we’re completely locked out of the mainframe.

John took a few steps, pausing when a door slid open.

“Thought we were in a lockdown? Why’d that open up for us?” Clicking his radio, he said, “Weir, this is Sheppard. Were you able to get the transporters online or not?”

Doesn’t look promising,” she said. “Atlantis itself seems to have somehow sensed a threat and taken over most of the controls.

“So it shut down the transporters?” John glanced at Alice, who nodded.

That’s right,” Elizabeth agreed.

“Well, I wish we would’ve thought of that,” John muttered.

When Elizabeth answered he thought he might have finally pushed her too far. “We did think of that, Major. That entire section had to be powered up for you to open the door to Peterson. In fact, if you hadn’t gone after him, he wouldn’t have been able to use the transporters.” She let that sink in for a moment before adding, “D’you still feel it was a good idea?

“Where’d he transport to?” John asked, ignoring the surge of guilt.

The Mess Hall. Thankfully everyone else respected the quarantine – there’s only a handful of people there.

“Alright, you’ve made your point.”

Make your way back to the city. Wait in Beckett’s lab for further instructions.

Teyla didn’t try to talk to John as they walked through the silent city. Alice didn’t keep pace, either; every so often she appeared, gave him an update on McKay’s team and then vanished again.

When they were almost at the control tower John sent Teyla on ahead; she didn’t question it, ghosting out of sight. Alice watched curiously.

“What’s up with the quarantine?” he asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“It’s not stopping us.”

“You’re not infected.” John stared at her, and she added, “That was the point of that outfit, wasn’t it? You’re not infected, Teyla’s not infected, so the city lets you pass.”

“That’s something you’re doing?”

She shook her head. “It’s in the...” She said the word in Ancient, and then corrected herself. “Protocols. Infected people need to be taken care of.”

Teyla reappeared at the end of the corridor. “I went all the way to the tower. I met with no obstacles.”

John touched his radio. “Doctor Weir?”

Yes, Major?

“We’ve reached the city, but we haven’t hit the city’s quarantine. Are you sure it’s locked you out?”

Pretty sure. I can’t even get into my office.

“Hasn’t given us any trouble yet.”

Behind Elizabeth, Grodin suddenly realized why they were safe. John swallowed a sigh of relief; he hadn’t been looking forward to working it into the conversation.

“If that is the case, we should make our way to the Mess Hall,” Teyla said. “I imagine everyone there will be very scared and confused.”

I agree,” Elizabeth said. “Get to the Mess Hall and report back.

“It’s not a virus,” Alice said abruptly.

John stopped, glancing around. “Teyla, why don’t you...”

“Examine this empty corridor?” she suggested. “Perhaps I shall.”

“Oh, she definitely knows about you,” John said, watching her leave.

“She knows you know things you shouldn’t. That’s all.”

“Not a virus?”

Alice shook her head. “Nanotech.” Off his look, she added, “Cell-sized robots. Designed to help. Hurting, in this case.”

“Gathered that much, thanks.” He sighed, tugging at the suit. “This still necessary?”

“The city won’t recognize you as uninfected if you’re not wearing it. Certainly not if you go in there.” She gestured to the mess hall.

“Figures.” He tugged it again, glaring at her. “Can you pretend to be sympathetic? No, wait. You’re not programmed to be sympathetic, right?”

Alice considered that for a moment before saying, “Teyla’s coming back.”

“What, you’re programmed to avoid the question now?” he muttered as Teyla came up to him.

“Ready?” she asked.

“Yeah. Let’s go.”

Alice slid past, entering the mess hall ahead of him; turning, she told him, “I couldn’t figure out which bit was the question,” before turning again to step over someone. The group had been isolated for a long time with only Elizabeth’s sporadic updates and Peterson’s body for company; they mobbed John and Teyla on sight, demanding answers.

“We have yet to determine how one contracts the virus,” Teylas said patiently. “It is very possible that none of you have been infected.”

One of the group—a lieutenant John couldn’t see clearly enough to identify—demanded, “Then why are you in hazmat suits?”

“Just as a precaution.”

John’s radio buzzed, and he tapped it automatically. “Major Sheppard, this is McKay.

“What is it?”

I could use your help at my lab.

John glanced at Teyla, who waved him away. “Go. I will be fine.”

John nodded, turning quickly to go.

“Alright, McKay, I’m here.”

D’you see it?

“Is it the big thing in the middle of the room?”

Yeah, that’s the one.

John studied it warily. Most of the machine was hidden beneath “Caution” and “Toxic” stickers.

“Should I pay attention to all these warnings?”

Not today, no.

“It’s harmless unless you have a pacemaker,” Alice added.

“What’s the plan, here?” John murmured, pushing the buttons McKay told him to.

“He’s going to set off an EMP to knock out the nanobots. He’s smart,” she said admiringly. On the radio McKay was explaining the same thing to Ford, with rather more emphasis on how smart he was.

“Will that work?” John asked, studying the machine.

“The idea is sound. An EMP will kill the nanobots.”

“And in practice?”

Major?” McKay said abruptly.

“It’s working. When should I hit the discharge button?”

OK – there should be a red overload light.

“Yeah, I see it.”

Wait til it comes on, give it a good ten count, and then discharge.

“A ten count?” John repeated.

Don’t worry – I’ve probably been around more EMPs than anyone.

“This is gonna be, uh – I’m gonna be fine, right?”

“Do you have a pacemaker?” Alice enquired, apparently serious. John made a face at her.

Yes. That’s a yes – you’ll be fine.

The light flicked on: John counted to ten before hitting the discharge button. The generator slowed to a halt.

Anything?” McKay prompted him.

Is it possible it might take some time?” Elizabeth asked hopefully.

Doubtful,” McKay said with a sigh. “Are you still locked out of the Ancient mainframe?

There was a pause before Elizabeth asked, “Got any other ideas?

“John,” Alice murmured.

He flicked off the mic on his radio, sighing. “What is it?”

“In the mess hall...it’s started. You have no more time.”

Major?” McKay said suddenly.

John flipped the mic back on. “Yes, Rodney.”

We need to fix the generator. Listen...

Five minutes later, John stopped trying to follow McKay’s increasingly panicked suggestions. “I’ve already tried that – it’s blown.”

That is before we re-set the sub-switch.

“Well, maybe we shouldn’t have overloaded it so much.”

Look, it’s fixable, it’s fixable – we just need to use a little trial and error.

“Look, even if we get this thing working, who’s to say the pulse is gonna get any bigger? Ford and Zelenka have twenty minutes before their arteries rupture. Are you sure an EMP will kill this thing?”


“Alright. I have an idea.”

“This is a bad plan,” Alice warned him.

“Help, or get out of the way,” he ordered. Alice stepped to one side and he began disconnecting one of the generators.

To his radio, he added, “What do you mean, no?”

It’s too dangerous,” Elizabeth said.

“You’d rather lose a third of our population?”

We’re not there yet, Major.

“We are there! Ford and Zelenka are next. The people in the Mess Hall have a little over three hours. This is a full-blown outbreak. People are gonna keep dying unless we do this.”

Even if we were able to get the EMP generator back online, the chances are slim that we would ever be able to get it powerful enough,” McKay added.

Can we bring the infected to the generator?” Elizabeth suggested.

Behind her, Grodin quietly vetoed that, and McKay insisted, “The major is right – the only way to create an EMP strong enough to wipe these little guys out is to ...

... to detonate a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere! Yes, I heard the first time!” she protested.

I know it sounds severe,” McKay admitted, “but if the major was able to overload a naqahdah generator twenty miles above the city, it would be perfectly safe from a radiological standpoint and the ensuing blast would be capable of creating a devastating electromagnetic shockwave – definitely enough to knock this virus out.

“It’s worth the risk,” John said.

After a moment, Elizabeth said, “OK. You have a go.

He quickly finished packing the generator up and turned away.

“Your ‘Jumper’s ready,” Alice said quietly.

“Thanks,” he told her, hurrying past.

“You’re almost there,” Alice said. John nodded, eyes on his display.

“I’m almost in position.”

Understood,” Elizabeth said. “Would the EM pulse have any effect on the Puddlejumper?

“I’m hoping not. Either way, I’m more worried about the shockwave.”

Good luck.”

“You too.”

You’re only gonna have thirty seconds once you release it before it explodes,” McKay said again. He’d given the same advice at least three times now. “You need to get as far away as you can.

“Get as far away from the nuclear explosion as possible – that’s good advice, Rodney, thanks!”

You’re welcome.

“I’m releasing the generator ... now!”

The ‘Jumper dived steeply; Alice vanished, and John concentrated. In the background, Grodin counted down the seconds to zero.

The ‘Jumper rocked crazily; John fought the controls, flinching when he caught sight of the explosion. Finally, he got the ship under control and aimed for Atlantis.

Major, do you read me?” Elizabeth asked.

“This is Sheppard. I’ve cleared the blast – I’m returning home.”

I’m glad to hear it, Major.

“Did it work?”

We’re about to find out.

You should know almost right away,” Rodney said uncertainly. “The pulse only lasts a couple of microseconds and then ...

The city’s already ahead of us, Rodney,” Elizabeth said. “You have a green light to return.

John smiled as Atlantis came into view. “I’m almost there. See you in a few.”

He wasn’t exactly avoiding Elizabeth. Or Teyla. Not really.

Sighing, he decided to get one of them over with at least, and made his way to Elizabeth’s office. Grodin smiled vaguely as he passed through the control room; John didn’t stop, tapping on her door frame and sitting down.

“Are you OK?” she asked, studying him.

“Yeah, just a little nuke – nothin’, really.”

“The naqahdah generator plan was very clever. Good work.”

“Thank you. Now, I’m going to bed.” He stood up, thinking for one second that he was going to get away with it.

“We need to discuss what happened earlier,” Elizabeth said, not looking up.


“That can never happen again.”

John nodded, coming back to sit. “Look, I’m sorry about ...”

“I understand your expertise in military matters,” she interrupted him, “and I agree that I should defer to those expertise in such situations.”

“Thank you!”

But you are not the one who decides what is and what is not a military situation. Now, both General O’Neill and Colonel Sumner warned me that you don’t respect the proper chain of command.”

John shifted uncomfortably. “Well, sometimes I see a situation a little different than ...”

“No. Listen to me, John. Now, you endangered yourself and the lives of many others.”

“Because I thought it was the best course of action to take – and, by the way, I saved your ass.”

“I know you did – but you have to trust me.”

“I do!” he protested.

She studied him for a minute. “Do you?”

He was saved from answering when Rodney and Carson came in, talking over each other about the virus. John escaped as soon as he could, leaving them still discussing conspiracy theories.

He didn’t realize where he was going until he found himself outside Teyla’s door. Sighing, he murmured, “Alice?”

She stepped out of a door further down the corridor, and he blinked. “Why do you do that?”

“Why do I do what?”

“You vanish into thin air, but you always come from somewhere. Why?”

“I’m supposed to. The People thought it was less surprising. Disappearing is fine; appearing is not.” She shrugged. “I’m not...”

“Programmed for psychology, I know. Is Teyla asleep?”

“Not anymore.”

John grimaced, touching the door sensor. “Go away.”

She smiled faintly, deliberately walking away.

Teyla’s door opened, and she studied him. “You are uninjured.”

“I am,” he agreed.

“Do you wish to come in?”

John peered uncertainly around her door. “Halling isn’t hiding in there to defend your honor, is he?”

“I believe I can defend my own honor, John. Did you wish to speak about Atlantis?”


“John,” she cut him off. “Atlantis answers to you as to no one else. We all know this. It is not something to be ashamed of.”

“I’m not ashamed, exactly, it’s just...” he shook his head, unable to explain it. “It’s...I can’t explain it. Even Carson doesn’t feel it.”

“She warns you of danger,” Teyla said slowly.

“When it occurs to her, yeah. She’s...”

“John,” she said again, cutting him off. “Atlantis speaks to you. This is something to be glad of. Certainly, if she is trying to help you. If you wish this kept a secret, I will.”

“It’s not a secret,” he said carefully. “But I don’t want to volunteer it, either.”

“Agreed,” Teyla promised. Turning her head slightly, she added, “Atlantis? In future, please tell John I am sleeping whether it is true or not.”

“Oh, yeah. Teach her to lie. Brilliant.” John smiled faintly. “Thanks, Teyla.”

Teyla reached for his shoulders, leaning her forehead against his. Letting go, she pushed him back lightly. “Get some sleep, John.”

“See you in the morning, Teyla.”

“Good night.” She took a step back, and just before her door hissed closed John heard her add, “Good night, Atlantis.”

“Want me to tell her to call you Alice?” he asked as he headed for the transporter.

“Alice isn’t my name,” she pointed out. “And you can’t tell her now, she’s asleep.”

“Traitor,” John said mildly. “’Night, Alice.”

“Sleep well, John.”
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
shanachie13shanachie13 on September 2nd, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
um if no one told you... fanfiction.net if you want somewhere else to post them... I'm on there and a bunch of others are too.
Acting my shoe size: Quiet! Voices.wild_force71 on September 2nd, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)
I'm on ff.n, actually, but thanks for the tip! I'm really glad you're enjoying these. :) Who are you on ff.n? I'll go look you up.
shanachie13shanachie13 on September 2nd, 2008 10:32 am (UTC)
Medie Shanachie... cool... I've been working my way through the stories...almost done.