"Dead or Alive"

by Grey Lupous

Part Three


Ford released the deep breath he hadn't realized he'd drawn in when he saw Sheppard dive for a disengaging wormhole. Visions of a severed body danced in the lieutenant's mind, but he shoved that image away. He turned to face Teyla, who was staring at the gate with a frown.

"Did you get the address?"

She nodded; having etched the symbols in her mind as soon as she realized the gate was shutting down. Ford followed her as she stepped up to the DHD, pausing as she went over the symbols in her mind.

"Well?" He asked, impatiently adjusting the P-90 strap on his shoulder.

"I know the symbols, but not the sequence Lieutenant. If I just started trying addresses, we could be here all day," she said patiently.

"Maybe we should dial Atlantis and give them the symbols, they can look it up in the database," Ford mused.

Teyla nodded and started to dial the gate when she felt something whiz by her shoulder, hearing the report of a gun go off at the same time. She quickly whirled around, as Ford returned fire, scanning the tree line. The ground next to her feet spat up dirt as a bullet plowed into the dirt.

"This way!" Ford barked and dashed for the cover of the trees. Teyla followed without thinking. The gunfire followed them until they finally lost their attackers in a more heavily wooded area.

"I thought they didn't have anything more dangerous than sticks and arrows!" Ford muttered to her, trying to keep his voice low enough so they could hear if they were still being chased.

"Apparently they decided to hide that fact from us," Teyla whispered back, glancing about the trees.

"I've heard that gun before," Ford frowned as he tried to pinpoint the exact weapon in his mind. The answer danced just beyond his reach.

"Why would the Frescans attack us though?" Teyla muttered more to herself.

"They didn't exactly explain why the big guy attacked McKay," Ford shot back, glaring at the trees. If they couldn't get back to the gate, Sheppard would have to handle that crazy villager alone. "I've got the feeling there's a lot they haven't told us."

"So it seems."

*          *          *          *          *

McKay grunted as Vargas tossed him to the ground in a small cleared area along the path. He rubbed his neck where the knife had kept poking him. It felt like it was still in one piece, which was a relief. That was one less thing for him to panic about. He glanced at Vargas, noting that the other man was intent on surveying the trees. No doubt looking for Sheppard and a sign to make good on his threat.

He tried to swallow the lump forming in his throat, but when it refused to dissipate, he realized he would have to ignore it so he could concentrate on his current predicament. He was currently in the hands of a madman with very questionable intentions towards the good doctor.

Shifting his position, his attention was tugged from his troubles to the weight hanging off his neck. Eyes drifted down to the P-90 still dangling there.

No, his mind argued, not believing the good turn of luck, he couldn't have forgotten. Although, Rodney had to admit, going a few verbal rounds with Sheppard could knock someone off their game, if they, say, didn't have the sheer brainpower of one Dr. Rodney McKay.

It sure seemed as if Vargas didn't consider McKay a threat. Quietly, he let the gun slip into his hands, subconsciously balancing the weight as he'd been taught to do. Moving slowly and surreptitiously, he lined up the sight of the gun where he gauged the other man's heart to be. It was easy... too easy.

Something vile and odious bubbled up within the scientist, and he stared through the sight of the gun as if he were looking through the eyes of someone else, someone a lot more like the Wraith. There was no denying that this man was acting out of less than pure intentions; however, even as the more frantic and instinctual part of his mind demanded he tighten the finger on the trigger, he felt that damnable rational part kick in.

This, of all times, was not the place for a personal crisis of ethics. Survival instinct screamed at the more peace-loving hippie part of his brain, trying to remind it that not fifteen minutes before this man had threatened to skewer him on that ridiculously large knife.

Flower power wilted as the survival instinct made a very valid point. Besides, he could always do a shoulder shot. That wasn't so hard. Hefting the P-90 back up, he retrained his aim so that it now focused on the back of Vargas's shoulder. Sucking in his breathe, he pulled on the trigger, and the single shot seemed to plow through the silence of the jungle.

Opening eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed, McKay looked for the prone form of Vargas, half expecting the man to pull another rabbit out of his hat. But no, there he was, sprawled out on the ground, arms flailed out to the side as he'd fallen forward.

He'd done it? He'd actually shot someone?

Pride and disgust welled up in his chest, and it was hard for him to try and acknowledge one over the other. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew the Major had to have heard the shot, and would be running hell bent for their current location, but the rational flowery powery part of his mind had managed to catch up to the more primal part, and he could feel his hands shaking, and the grip on the gun loosening.

He needed to leave, and now. That much he knew, but he couldn't tear his eyes from the still body of Vargas even as he started to back up to the path they'd taken into the jungle. He needed to find the Major and get out of here.  He reached for his radio, only to find it not there. When had that happened?

A familiar voice hissed from the ground beneath one of Vargas's hands.

"McKay! Rodney! Are you okay?"

While still very much in control, Rodney could detect the edge of nervousness in it. Of course he was fine. He'd just shot his first hostile alien. Time to celebrate, right? Rite of Passage and all that?

His backwards progress stopped as he realized it would probably be best to retrieve his radio. There was no way he could navigate back through that jungle. Most of his thoughts had been concentrated on not having his throat slit as he'd been forcefully dragged away from his only two avenues of escape: Sheppard and the Stargate.

Besides, if Vargas moved, Rodney could always shoot him again. Gathering his courage he cautiously approached the still man on the ground. The radio fell silent as Sheppard gave up trying to get an answer, and for a moment, all he could hear was silence.

The silence was broken by wind rushing through his ears as McKay's feet were literally knocked out from under him. The packed dirt rushed up to meet him, at the same time a heavy weight settled right between his shoulder blades.

"Now that was just rude Mersir McKay," Vargas tsked as he shifted his weight from a tackle to a sitting position. "Shooting a man when his back is turned? Have you no honor?"

McKay snorted. Honor. That was a good one. He would've responded something in kind, but he was literally kissing the ground at that moment, and the prospect of actually tasting the dirt didn't  seem too appealing on top of everything else.

"And here I was going to reward you for being a good Mersir—now you force me to do something I hoped I wouldn't have to."

A spike of fear lanced through McKay as the weight from his shoulders shifted. Oh god, here it was. The ultimate in humiliation and violation. Why oh why couldn't someone want him for his brain? Eyes tightly clenched, he was surprised when he felt something cool and metal snap around his wrists.

...What the hell?

Since when did backwater-sodomizing kidnappers carry handcuffs?

He opened his eyes as Vargas hauled him to an upright position, so they could see eye to eye. He was grinning again, apparently able to deduce what McKay had thought he meant. Smug bastard. "Why Mersir, you look surprised. What on earth do you think I wanted to do?"

McKay just glared in return. He wasn't going to give Vargas the satisfaction of hearing it aloud.

Vargas's lower lip protruded, which looked rather creepy instead of cute. It was at this moment that McKay noticed that the man was also completely unharmed, no bullet holes anywhere.

"I thought I shot you." Now it was his turn to pout. All of that and no bullet hole to slow him down. Where was his luck today?

"Oh you did," Vargas let go of McKay to pull his tattered homespun shirt aside to reveal a small chunk of metal caught in a vest that looked very similar to Kevlar. "A gift from my Uncle Athor."

"No offense, but how does an obviously pre-technological society make a bullet-proof vest, in a place where you don't use bullets? Does your uncle just invent crap in his hut in his spare time?"

"You misunderstand Mersir," Vargas's eyes twinkled with malicious glee. "My uncle is not Frescan."

McKay's frowned deepened.

"He's Genii."

Next Chapter