"Dead or Alive"

by Grey Lupous

Part Two
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

McKay followed Sheppard so close he was practically stepping on his heels. Not that John could blame him much. If Ford hadn't arrived in the cave when he did, he wasn't sure what that crazy villager would have done to the scientist. The village elders had apologized profusely, but Sheppard wasn't willing to take any chances. He continually scanned the trees in front of him, not wanting to let his guard down. He had an uneasy feeling resting at the base of his spine; a weird tingling that wouldn't seem to go away.

It didn't take them long to reach the large grove where the Stargate rested. The pine-like trees reached high up into the sky, much like the redwoods in California, and surrounded the grove like a fortress. The gate itself was placed in front of a line of trees on the far side of the grove, completing the pretty little picture. Sunlight streamed down from directly overhead, illuminating the gate as if it were a heavenly arch. If it wasn’t for the fact that his scientist's head hadn't just nearly been taken off by a whacked out villager, Sheppard would think the entire place was peaceful. As it was, he still couldn't shake that feeling.

"Ford, you watch the path, make sure  no one sneaks up behind us. McKay, dial it up. Teyla and I will do a perimeter check."

As soon as the orders were given his team moved automatically to follow them. With a glance backwards he saw Ford step into a defensive stance, and could see the lieutenant scanning the trees lining the path they'd followed as well. Teyla had moved to start inspecting the left side of the grove, and McKay had approached the DHD. He started scanning the tree line on his side of the grove, thinking that maybe he was overreacting a little.

Rodney reached the DHD, telling himself to stop touching his head. He was fine, and his crazy little fan was back in the village, probably doing penance of some sort. He depressed the first symbol in the sequence, and watched despondently as the gate spun and locked into place. He returned his attention back to the DHD, and pressed the second symbol. Unsurprisingly, the gate once again spun and locked the second chevron.

A flicker of shadow behind the gate grabbed his attention. Great, he was seeing things now.

He stared where he thought he'd seen whatever it was, but it was just as peaceful and as still as when they entered the grove. Dismissing it to his agitated nerves and overactive imagination, he punched in the third and fourth symbol. He reached to press the fifth symbol, but stopped when he felt something cold, metallic, and definitely sharp press against the soft and fleshy part of his neck. His hand hovered in the air, and his body refused to release the breath he'd just taken.

Hot breath tickled his ear as the owner of the knife leaned in close to whisper needless instructions. "One word or any sort of warning to them and you'll never make another annoying squawk."

Even if I wanted to, Rodney thought, not daring to move except to glance behind him to try and get a look at Sheppard or Teyla. He could barely make out the Major's form, which was turned in the completely opposite direction, and he could only assume Teyla was even further away. Oh yeah, that would figure. The one time there was actually an ambush at the gate and Sheppard was staring at trees.

The uncomfortable sensation of another body pressing against him brought his attention back to what was happening to him. The hand not holding the knife wrapped around him and quickly pressed three other symbols.

McKay resisted the urge to laugh. He'd already started the address to Atlantis, the chances of this one working were nearly impossible...

His kidnapper finished the sequence and the gate roared to life.

McKay felt his throat go dry. He had the strange feeling that this was going to be a longer day than he had originally anticipated.

*          *          *          *          *

Sheppard heard the gate whir to life, and the telltale splash of the wormhole engaging, and felt himself relax. Now they could get back to Atlantis and make sure to mark this planet off the list of friendlies.

"Took you long enough McKay. What were you doing?" Sheppard teased and turned to the gate. "Waiting for an--"

The native that had attacked McKay earlier had a large and rather wicked looking knife pressed to Rodney's neck and was dragging the scientist closer and closer to the event horizon.

"Shit!"

There was no time to aim, the shot might hit McKay, or cause his attacker to jerk the knife in the wrong direction. He let his P-90 drop, feeling the gun slap at his side as he sprinted for the gate.

*          *          *          *          *

Ford and Teyla heard the curse and both quickly spun around in time to see the man from the village drag McKay through the Stargate. Only a few yards behind was Sheppard, eating up distance between his former position and the gate. A few feet away from his goal, they heard the telltale signs of the gate shutting down. With wide eyes, Ford watched the Major literally dive into the closing wormhole, watching as it winked into nothingness milliseconds after Sheppard's boots had disappeared.

*          *          *          *          *

This trip through the wormhole was definitely different from the rest. The coldness leeched onto every uncovered part of his body, providing a stark contrast with how incredibly uncomfortably close Vargas was holding him. As they emerged on the other side, the fun continued, as he was dragged down the ramp. Boy, that man had an absurdly accurate ability to navigate backwards.

Damn it Rodney, focus! Remember that knife?

 

No, was trying to forget it, really.

He could feel his mind entering panic mode as he stared at the shimmering blue of the gate. He was so dead. So very raped and dead. So very GANG raped and dead, since he was being taken to meet some of Vargas's “friends”. He really hated being so damn handsome! Honestly though, what were the chances of there being another active gate that shared the same first three symbols with Atlantis? They were...

His mind paused as it tried to do the math, but when he started carrying numbers he breathed out and felt his skin poke against the blade of the knife. Damn it! He couldn't concentrate like this! Where was Sheppard to solve impossible equations in the blink of an eye?

Right as the energy of the gate started to dissipate, like a swimmer finishing a graceful dive, Sheppard flew out of the gate, straight as board, immediately curling up into a ball and rolling until he came to stop with P-90 pointed directly at McKay and his kidnapper. The gate shut off a beat later.

Oh.

There he was.

*          *          *          *          *

"Major! So good of you to join us! My friend and I here were just discussing the finer points of--agh!" McKay's greeting was cut off as the villager dug the knife closer to his neck.

Sheppard narrowed his eyes, keeping focus on his target, but in the back of his mind hoped that the knife hadn't broken the skin. He just wanted to dispatch with this lunatic and get back to Atlantis. No injured scientists, please.

"Major Sheppard, nice to see you again." The villager drew McKay closer to him, his tall form seeming to shrink behind his human shield. "I believe we met briefly back on Fresca."

"Yeah, you seemed to talk a lot slower then." With a shoulder shot no longer an option, Sheppard re-adjusted his aim to the forehead. "Can't say I can remember your name too well. You know, all those Frescan names sound alike."

"You may call me Vargas, as the Mersir does."

Sheppard wrinkled his forehead in confusion, before remembering that was their word for doctor. Right, this guy was real polite.

"Well, Vargas, I know this might come as quite a shock to you, but I think you ran off with something that doesn't exactly belong to you."

"On the contrary, Major, the Mersir and I became very good friends in our short time in the cave. I really would hate to part ways with him right now."

McKay mouthed something along the lines of "Pleasedon'tlethimhavehiswaywithme!". That, or something about a walrus. He was mouthing the words too fast to really tell.

Sheppard narrowed an eyebrow, studying his opponent. His grip on McKay was tight and controlled; the sadistic smirk on his face definitely had nothing to do with friendship. His stance and tactics reminded John more of the mercenaries and rebel fighters in the Middle East than the kind of abduction Rodney was thinking of.

"Well you see, I've got this problem too. I sort of made this promise to bring him back every time I step through the gate, no matter how tempted I might be to leave him behind or let whoever feels like it kidnap him for their own evil deeds."

"Hey!"

Good, there was Indignant McKay. He wasn't scared completely witless. "And I mean that in the nicest possible way."

Now only if John could somehow communicate what he needed to do so McKay wouldn't do anything stupid like move at the wrong second.

"Are you saying there's no way I can convince you to just go back to your city right now?" Vargas was eyeing Sheppard just as closely as John was eyeing him. Oh, something told him this guy didn't miss much.

"Sorry, really afraid that's not possible. Now if you'll just give McKay back, I won't be forced to do anything drastic, and we'll leave, no harm, no foul."

"Unfortunately Major, I can't do that either." Vargas grinned before he ducked his head behind McKay's, and resumed dragging the scientist back. "Something tells me you won't shoot if you think you might hit him instead.”

"Obviously you and McKay aren't as good friends as you think," Sheppard returned, mentally cursing Vargas. "Just let him go!"

"How about I make the demands, and you listen, Major Sheppard?" Vargas made entirely too quick of progress walking backwards while effectively restraining a human shield. It was almost inhuman in a way. "You will not follow us, or I shall kill him! You will return to Atlantis, and you will not return, or again, I will kill him!"

"Sounds like you have just one threat there Vargas!"

The villager ignored him, continuing to make his way towards the line of trees.

"I have the feeling it is a powerful one to you! If you, or any Atlantean tries to stop me, I will kill your Mersir, and leave you little pieces to track down all over this jungle!"

McKay renewed his struggles, but quickly stopped with a short yelp as the knife once again bit into his skin.

Sheppard squelched the growl he felt rising in his throat, and had to raise his voice nearly to a shout to be heard over the distance. "If you do that, there'll be no safe place for you anywhere in this or any other galaxy!"

"Then perhaps you should make sure it doesn't come to that!" Vargas returned, his and McKay's forms growing smaller and smaller with the distance. "Do not follow me!"

"Oh right, like I'm going to be able do that after he gives me that tempting speech," John muttered to himself, watching as Vargas disappeared beyond the tree line with his friend. He made sure to wait long enough until he was fairly sure Vargas couldn't see him, then began to make his way towards the jungle, ripping out the life signs detector from his vest, watching the three little dancing dots. There was more than one way to play this little game, and he was not going to let this happen again, especially so soon after the Genii invasion. Someone's head was going to roll for this... Sheppard just hoped it wasn't going to be McKay's.

Next Chapter