Chapter Two: Rescue Mission
They parked the van off the road, hidden in trees about a mile from the mansion's grounds. Major Lorne and his team arrived shortly after them in another nondescript van and parked nearby.
The mansion's security was not as tight as it could be, but John supposed the Foundation didn't want to attract undue attention with high tech systems on display. It was set inside heavily wooded grounds, only the last fifty metres or so were treeless, and even then there were shrubs to hide behind for much of the way. If he had been running a place like this he would have cleared much of the bushes and trees, and could only suppose that the place hadn't been used for nefarious activities until recently. Either that, or the Foundation was getting sloppy and overconfident.
They entered as one team, making their way through the wood carefully and quietly. Part way in, Ronon stiffened and used a hand signal for everyone to stay still, his enhanced senses having picked something up.
"Dogs," he growled softly. "Can smell and hear them over that way." He pointed slightly to the right of them, before striding off in that direction.
Sheppard nodded, letting Ronon get several metres in front of them before signalling the team to follow. Teyla took the lead, using her empathic ability - that allowed her to pinpoint people accurately - to track Ronon, and several minutes later they caught up with him.
Ronon was on the ground, fussing one of the four very docile looking Dobermans, who were feeding from his hand - literally. The Satedan's ability to calm and control even the wildest of animals always amazed Sheppard, and could come in extremely useful at times like this.
"Food's drugged," Ronon informed them, keeping his voice low as the dogs slowly closed their eyes. "They'll sleep for hours now."
"No. At least, not that I can hear or smell."
"Okay. Teyla, take your group and head for your assigned target. Radio silence unless it's an emergency."
The teams split up, heading into the gathering darkness.
Teyla made sure that Carson was sandwiched between herself and Stackhouse, with Smith covering their six. She used her empathy to locate the enemy inside the house, but pulled back from reading emotions as that would tire her unnecessarily. It seemed that the household were situated within a small area, most likely the labs she and her team were targeting. Nine people, and one of them would be Dr McKay. She would be able to distinguish him from the others as she got closer.
Stackhouse froze the lock of the door, causing the metal to turn brittle and crack, enabling him to break the lock with the butt of his gun. Teyla was worried that the people inside would hear the noise, but her senses told her no one was coming to investigate. She carefully pushed the door open, making sure not to make contact with the remnants of the handle or lock, knowing that they would be cold enough to badly burn her if she did. Walking down the hallway, the door that led down to the underground corridor and labs was easy to locate. Stackhouse soon had that open as well.
Teyla put up her hand to stop everyone before they entered the stairwell, having sensed the presence of a person approaching below. Had he heard the lock breaking? Carefully, she extended her empathy. No, it seemed he had other things on his mind. She pulled her empathy back and they waited for him to come closer, pulling the door too so that he would not, hopefully, notice any problem with it.
Fortunately the man didn't notice anything amiss and entered a room just before the stairwell. She led her team down the stairs, to the door of the room the man had entered, and indicated that Smith and Stackhouse position themselves on either side of the door of the room.
The sound of a toilet flushing was soon heard, causing Smith and Stackhouse to share a grin and a moment of mimed juvenile humour. But they were ready for the man as he left the restroom, quickly and silently overpowering him. Carson injected the man with a sedative, before Stackhouse and Smith tied him up and left him in the restroom. All of this was done in a practised silence.
Telya led them down the corridor, expanding her empathy again and reading the emotions of those she could sense. A strong feeling of pain, fear, desperation and despair hit her and she had to close her eyes to help steady herself against the onslaught. She narrowed the feeling down to a room two doors away, and then pulled back quickly to save energy that she needed for her telepathy now.
"From our position, Dr McKay is being held two doors down. Two guards are with him," she informed both teams and John. " Three doors down and around the corner from us there is a room with five more people inside. No others, except the one we just took down. My team will wait outside the second room were Dr McKay is being held. Once I sense we are all in position, I will give the command for both teams to go in. If that is alright, Colonel, click the radio once."
Hearing a click, she nodded to her team to get into position. She hoped she didn't need to use her telepathy for more than giving the 'go' command - she was tiring rapidly.
John led his team to their point of egress and Major Lorne used his enhancement to melt the lock - only in doing so, he also melted a fair bit of the metal door as well. John rolled his eyes as Lorne gave him a sheepish grin and a shrug of the shoulders.
Being careful not to burn themselves on the molten metal, and grateful that the hallway and surroundings were solid brick and stone, they entered the kitchen area. Ronon took point, using his enhanced hearing and smell to warn of any people close by.
It didn't take long to find the back stairwell down to the lab area, and this time Sheppard stopped Lorne before he could try to melt the lock - the door was made of wood and would most likely catch fire - falling back on his black ops training from many years ago and picking the lock instead. Something he hated doing, as it was fiddly and took more time than he liked.
They paused at the top of the steps as Teyla contacted them with the locations of people inside the mansion along with her plan of action. Clicking his radio once in acknowledgement, they stealthily moved into position, glad that the corridor turned another corner before reaching the room they were targeting, giving them some protection.
He waited for Teyla.
Teyla gave the command to go, and she and her team burst into the room, taking down the first guard before he even knew what was happening and the second before he could return fire. Hearing firing from around the corner, Teyla resisted the urge to find out how things were going, instead motioning Carson into the room, and then standing guard at the door.
Carson approached the cell - or cage, he amended in his head - slowly and carefully, not making any sudden moves that might further terrify the frightened man before him.
Rodney had nearly had a heart attack when the fierce looking woman had entered the room and killed the two guards. He'd slammed himself into the bars at the back of the cage, slipping into a crouch and curling into himself, hoping that the next bullet wasn't meant for him.
"We're here to rescue you. Once we have the place secure we'll see about getting you out of that cage. Are you hurt?"
He looked up at the man in front of his cage. He wanted to believe that, he really did, but maybe these people merely wanted to do their own experiments on him? Out of the pan and into the fire and all that.
"It's okay," the man said quietly. "We're not going to hurt you. I'm a healer, if you're hurt, maybe I can help you."
Healer? Did he mean he was a doctor?
"Who..." he croaked, his voice strained from all the screaming of the last few days.
"I'm Dr Carson Beckett. That's Teyla Emmagan, Sergeant Stackhouse and Lieutenant Smith. I'm a medical doctor, and also a healer," the man answered, apparently understanding what he'd tried to ask. "I have the ability to heal people - well, so long as the injuries aren't too severe. I can't raise the dead or anything like that."
Another freak, like himself. That didn't mean they weren't here to hurt him though. The ones who'd held him here talked about their enhanced friends - people who would benefit from his pain. These could be people like them.
The healer, Beckett he'd called himself, was kneeling by the bars of his cage now, as close to him as the man could get - within touching distance, but Beckett made no move to reach him. Scared and hurting, he decided to take a risk and reached out hesitantly, showing Beckett the welts on his wrists from the restraints.
Beckett hissed in sympathy and gently touched him. He flinched back, before steeling himself and leaning forward, allowing Beckett to hold his arm. A cool sensation, that was strange but not entirely unpleasant, spread throughout his body. He could see the welts on his wrists healing before his eyes and felt his other injuries being healed as well. Then the feeling faded and Beckett removed his hand, kneeling back and smiling at him.
"I'm sure you're feeling a lot better now."
"Thanks," he answered easily, his vocal chords returning to normal.
He was still desperately scared that these people would turn on him, but Beckett hadn't harmed him and, okay, maybe they needed him healthy for their own experiments, or maybe they were trying to gain his trust to make it easier to study him, but something about the man before him suggested otherwise.
He didn't always follow his instincts, preferring rationality, logic and facts to guide him instead, but he was tired and scared and maybe, just maybe, his instincts were right.
He hoped that they were.
John positioned Lorne and Miller to one side of the door, and Ronon and Markham to the other. Then, standing in front of the closed door, he took a deep breath and slowly made himself invisible. It wasn't easy for him to do - imaging a shield or cloak surrounding himself and anything he held helped - but even then, he couldn't remain invisible for more than a few minutes without feeling very queasy.
He waited for Teyla to contact him, wishing not for the first time that they had someone with x-ray vision on their team - but so far, that was an ability that remained solely in the realms of comic book heroes.
"Go!" Teyla's voice still managed to startle him, even though he'd been expecting it.
Not wasting any time, he opened the door and entered the room, moving to the right and out of the line of fire. In the room, four guards were playing cards at a table, and off to one side was a doctor - or at least he assumed she was a doctor by the white coat she wore - who was studying a computer. No one had noticed the door opening, apparently too engrossed in their activities. John shook his head. Sloppy, very sloppy.
He fired, his shots taking the guards by surprise, two of them down before they realised they were under attack and could respond. He wished there was another way, but knew from bitter experience that guards employed by the Foundation would rather die than surrender, taking as many with them as they could.
Lorne burst through the doorway taking out another guard, while Ronon dispatched the last of them. Lorne then turned his gun onto the doctor.
John took the time to shake off the his invisibility - the doctor looked at him curiously, before giving a sad smile. Her legs buckled beneath her and foam dribbled out her mouth.
"Smells like almonds," Ronon stated, his nose picking up the smell.
"Cyanide," Markham said with a grimace. "Must be mixed with something else, though, to act that quickly."
John nodded, not really surprised by what the doctor had done, but wishing he had been able to stop her. He watched as Dr Miller moved to the computer, carefully avoiding the doctor's body, and connected his laptop to it.
"Lorne, call NID and get a clean up crew in here. Then take Smith with you to get the vans. Markham, you're with me," John ordered, heading to check on Teyla's situation.
Rodney started in surprise as two more people entered the room.
"Hey, everyone okay in here?" one of the men asked.
"We are fine, John," the woman, Teyla, answered. "The key is missing, but Sergeant Stackhouse is about to freeze the lock."
"You might want to step away from the bars," the sergeant said to Rodney. "They might get rather cold as well."
He stood quickly, moving away from the bars while watching the sergeant with furrowed brow as the man froze the metal lock until it cracked and broke, the door swinging open. Another freak, then, he thought to himself. Though one with a useful ability, he had to add, as he cautiously left the cage.
"Are you all enhanced?" he asked curiously, trying to hide how vulnerable he felt without the bars between them - part of him wanting to go back into the cage where they couldn't hurt him, but part of him knowing that was stupid, pathetic even. He was a rational human being, not some animal that preferred its cage to freedom when the time came to be released.
"Everyone in this room except Lieutenant Smith, yes," the healer, Beckett, explained, sounding tired.
"We need to get you out of here," the man Teyla had called John said. "The van should be at the front soon, and there's always a chance the Foundation has been notified somehow. An alarm button certainly isn't out of the question, so the sooner we get you are out of here, the better."
The thought of an alarm button wasn't comforting, and Rodney decided that, although he wasn't confident of the motives of these people, he really didn't want this Foundation - presumably the ones who had hurt him - to get their hands on him again.
"Okay," he said, swallowing nervously.
"Stackhouse, you drive. Send Smith back in to help with the clean up. Teyla, Carson, you're going with Dr McKay. I'll send Ronon and Lorne as well. That way, if the Foundation tries to reacquire Dr McKay, you'll have plenty of backup. I have to stay here and wait for our NID contacts," John, obviously the person in charge, ordered.
Rodney allowed himself to be led out of the building, climbing into one of the vans when they arrived. He really hoped these people were the good guys - and not more bad guys in disguise.
The journey had been nerve racking, with Rodney afraid that the van would be attacked at any moment. But no one had attacked them and now he was in what passed for an infirmary inside Cheyenne Mountain. Maybe he should have paid more attention to conspiracy theories, because he was sure this wasn't part of NORAD. Though whatever it was, presumably it had a military basis to it, as it was accommodated here.
The room held several beds, though none of the other beds were occupied, to his relief. He had checked the room for any form of surveillance, but hadn't found anything - of course, that didn't mean the room wasn't bugged. Still, he wasn't strapped down, which was a definite plus, and it wasn't like he was going anywhere any time soon. Even after the weird healing Beckett had done, he still felt weak. Apparently, there were limits to what Beckett could do.
He perched on the edge of the hospital bed, wearing the grey sweatpants and t-shirt he'd been given not long after arriving. Although still unsure of these people, he was grateful to get out of the dirty white scrubs he'd been wearing and back into proper clothing, even if drab and ill fitting.
The door opened and Beckett entered with a tray of food. His eyes lit up. That smelled good. Really, really good.
"I thought you might be wanting something to eat. I've no idea if those bastards bothered to feed you or not."
"Not much," he said, moving to a table and chair next to one of the walls as Beckett placed the tray down. "It's not got any citrus has it?" he suddenly asked anxiously. "I'm deathly allergic..."
"No, I checked."
"How did you know to check?"
"When the Intel came in about you being captured by the Foundation, information on you was requisitioned, including your medical records." Beckett shrugged. "We needed to be able to help you, and to be able to do that properly we needed to know everything we could."
"Oh," he said, feeling decidedly uncomfortable with that knowledge. These people knew too much about him for his liking. As he started in on the food - wow, the stew was delicious - he wondered if there was anything they could use against him, and if there was, would they?
"I know you're probably feeling skittish about medical things right now - goodness knows I would be in your place - but I would like to check a few things; your pulse rate, blood pressure, nothing invasive or painful. Would you be alright with that, Meredith?"
"Don't call me that," he said with a scowl.
"Ach, I'm sorry. Would you prefer Dr McKay?"
"Yes, or Rodney if you must, but definitely not my first name!"
"Ah, I see. Not overly fond of it, I'm guessing," Beckett said with a smile. "Not that I can blame you. So, can I..."
"If you must," he muttered, hiding his unease under anger.
"Aye, I must," Beckett said, though he did have the decency to wait until Rodney had finished eating.
It wasn't that bad, really. Beckett did some basic checks and then left him alone to rest. Not that he expected to sleep much - but exhaustion had other ideas and he soon fell into a deep sleep.
Pain tugged at him, calling for attention, straps digging into him, burning and burning, muscles contracting, convulsing...
People talking, watching, recording, waiting...
And then there was Larry, his best friend when he was six, laughing at him as the bullies beat on him, shouting names at him, ending their friendship in the cruellest of ways...
And he was fourteen and his parents were snarling at him to go away, to leave them alone, they hadn't wanted him as a baby, they didn't want him now. A sister he didn't know watching him with fearful eyes. Pain in his heart...
Shifting through darkness...
The drone of bees, out to get him... can't breathe, can't breathe, going to die... and he's alone and afraid and there's no one and no one and still no one and he can't breathe, only he can, but it's wheezing and it's hard and he's going to die... but it eases and he doesn't die but he was alone and no one knew and no one seemed that worried when he told them what had happened...
And there's laughing, and it's Susan, and she's laughing because he thought that she liked him, and it was high school and he's not quite sixteen yet, but she said yes, he could take her to the dance, but when he showed up at her door she laughed and there was Joel, the star quarterback, and they went to the dance and he went back to the children's home, alone...
And pain, so much pain, detached voices, not caring, no one ever caring, never really caring, just pretending and then leaving or hurting or discarding...
Pain...pain...white-hot fire in his veins...
He screamed... and awoke, sitting up suddenly, eyes darting around the room...
White room, medical...
No, no, no, no, no! He was back there, the rescue was all a dream, a terrible dream...
He pushed himself out of the bed, rushing to the door - he had to get out, out, out and he had to do it now, before they came back and restrained him, and he opened the door but beyond it lay darkness, solid and terrifying, reaching out to him, so he shut the door, but then hands were pulling him back towards the bed and pain and...
Someone was talking, a low voice rumbling in his ear...
He jolted awake - really awake this time, not the false waking of his nightmare - and nearly collided with the one talking to him.
"Easy, lad," the soft tones of Beckett reached him. "You're safe now."
Suddenly embarrassed, he wrapped his arms around himself, unable to meet Beckett's eyes. "Sorry," he muttered quietly.
"Ach, it's only to be expected. And nothing to be ashamed of, that's for sure." Beckett patted his shoulder gently. "You might want to talk about it. It can help."
"No," he said, shaking his head.
"Aye, well, when you're ready."
He didn't think he'd ever be ready to talk about, well, that. What they'd done to him.
"There's nothing in your medical files about telekinesis."
"When you woke up, you pushed your bedside table over, telekinetically," Beckett explained. "At least there wasn't anything breakable on it."
"I'm not telekinetic," Rodney said, worry furrowing his brow. "I've never..." he trailed off suddenly, remembering the conversation he'd overheard. "That woman, the researcher, she was talking to someone. Something about me developing a mental ability, though it wasn't very strong. They were trying to make their enhanced friends even more enhanced, but it wasn't working." He looked at Beckett, fear in his eyes. "They were going to increase the injections, make them more often... I don't think I could have survived that!"
"Easy, lad, easy," Beckett placed a gentle hand onto his shoulder. "It's okay, we got you out, you're safe."
Rodney tried to get his breathing under control, but panic gripped him. What had they done to him? He didn't want the gills, he certainly didn't want anything else as well.
"Come on, lad, slow breaths. In. Out. In. Out."
"Oh crap," he whispered, but he slowed his breathing, following Beckett's instructions.
"It'll be okay," Beckett reassured him.
"You don't know that," he retorted.
"No, not for certain," Beckett admitted, giving his shoulder a quick squeeze before letting go. "But we'll do everything we can to help you, you have my word on that. We've got their research notes, which will be a great help, and we have access to some of the world's best doctors."
"We have an expert on telekinesis. I'll arrange for him to see you tomorrow. I know this must be difficult, but try to get some rest."
"Fine," he muttered and Beckett left him to sleep. Like he could sleep after that revelation! Damn it, he really didn't need something else to make him more of a freak than he already was. What had he done to deserve this?
He spent the next few hours tossing and turning, worries and fears churning round and round in his mind - with the few snatches of sleep he managed to get disturbed by nightmares.