It hadn't been hard to locate them. The L'rasha seemed inordinately pleased at their handiwork and wished to show it off.
"The Satedan was the largest challenge," First One Rydar was saying as he opened an observation window. Below, Lorne could see Ronon sitting on a bench, looking for all the world like he was meditating. Rydar finished, "But eventually we found the right mixture, and now he is docile as a trinat.
"And....the others?" Lorne asked.
"It would be pointless to attempt to gentle the female," Rydar said, his mouth curling as he opened another. "It is a deficiency in their gender that makes them irrational. Fit only for breeding." He gestured to where Teyla was prowling the walls, exploring every inch of them. "See? She has done this over and over and refuses to see the futility of escape."
Lorne felt his fists tighten. He had never been so glad in his life he'd ordered Cadman to remain and guard the cloaked Jumper. "And the others?" he asked through gritted teeth.
A third observation window revealed Rodney curled into a ball on his cot, staring morosely at the blank slate-grey walls. "This one was troublesome as well, but surprisingly the most easy to gentle. We removed his voice and told him if he fought his companions would die, and he has been very easy to work with."
Rydar then moved to the fourth one. "This one, though, we see very little hope in." He opened the fourth window, and Lorne gasped in horror.
John was sitting in a room that was covered with what looked like mattresses. He was naked, curled into a ball, rocking so that his head impacted the padded wall over and over and over.
"The room is soundproof, so he can hear nothing – it even absorbs the sound of his own voice," Rydar said. "It is soft, so he can feel nothing. This is why we removed his clothing. We felt it was appropriate to do this, since he still refused to gentle even after we took his sight."
"You did what?" Lorne screeched.
"Two and three and five and seven and eleven and thirteen...."
He could feel his voice trembling. He couldn't hear it, but he knew he was talking aloud, to try to keep himself sane.
"....and seventeen and nineteen and 23 and 29 and 31 and 37 and 41...."
But he was afraid he was failing.
It was so dark. So quiet. So soft. So cold.
"....and 43 and 47 and 53 and 59 and 61 and 67 and 71 and 73....."
Nothing made sense anymore. So he'd latched onto the one thing he knew never, ever changed.
"...and 79 and 83 and 89 and 97 and 101 and 103..."
He felt the blast of cold air as the door opened. He stood, struggling for some purchase in the silent dark softness. His wrist was taken and he felt himself yell, struggling to let go.
But then his hand was guided to something hard, unyielding. And familiar. He went silent, his fingers tracing the familiar contours.
A P-90 clip.
His questing hand suddenly shot upward, tracing the arm of the hand that held the clip, all the way to the shoulder. And there, underneath the collar of the shirt, was a chain. He traced the chain down and felt the outline of dog tags.
He swallowed hard, his mouth forming the word, "Who?"
And he felt the shape of a leaf being drawn into his hand.
He straightened, a smile touching his lips. "Hello, Major. You took your time."
The hand was placed against a rugged cheek, and the head nodded, then jerked in an unmistakable sign – 'let's get out of here'. He felt cloth pressed into his other hand and shook out something long and familiar.
Smiling broadly as he pulled on the pants that still held his own scent, he then frowned. "The others?"
As they crossed the threshold, he yelped as sound came rushing back. "....hear me now, sir?" Lorne's voice.
"You picked a hell of a time to start channeling commercial guy," he couldn't help quipping.
Lorne chuckled. "We're on our way to get the others."
"Good. I'm blind, Lorne."
"I know, sir. It'll be reversed soon." He stopped walking. "Open that door."
John heard rustling and the clang of a door, then a thick silence. "Major?"
"It's Doctor McKay, sir," Lorne said. "We just freed him."
And John felt Rodney's familiar touch curl over his wrist. He couldn't see it, but Rodney had realised he was blind and was looking murderous.
"Who did this?" The words were the barest puff of air near John's ear.
"Rydar," John snarled. "They screwed with your voice?"
"Implant. Shocks me if I speak loud enough to vibrate my vocal cords."
John bristled. "Teyla? Ronon?"
"Here!" Teyla called, and suddenly she was in his arms, hugging him and Rodney together. "I am unharmed," she said softly. "They felt I was beneath their notice."
"Their mistake," John ground softly.
Ronon walked out as his door was opened. "You're all here," he said, his voice inflectionless.
John startled at it. "Ronon?"
"We have gentled him," Rydar said, that pleased note in his voice. "Here. I shall prove it." John heard the whine of Ronon's gun charging, then Rydar's voice. "Now, you see? His weapon was given to him. Fully charged. And he is making no move toward--"
Suddenly John startled, then smiled coldly, to hear the distinctive report of Ronon's blaster.
"What --?" Teyla gasped.
Ronon's voice held a smile. "Thank McKay. He taught me how to pretend I was meditating."
Teyla's voice held laughter. "We will discuss that later."
"Let's go home, huh?" John asked, suddenly aching to be back in Atlantis.
A day later, John was dozing in his darkened infirmary room. The drugs that had taken his vision had been counteracted by Carson, but he was still pretty light-sensitive, so he was resting in a special room where he could control the light by degrees of comfort to him and not bother anyone else.
There was a knock on the side of his door. "Yes?" John called.
John sat up and mentally raised the lights to the maximum he could stand – which wasn't very much. "You're okay!"
Rodney came in and sat down by the bed. "Yeah, I'm not supposed to be up, but what the hell. Carson was able to use an EM pulse to nullify the implant, and my body's already rejecting it. He thinks it should work its way out naturally." Both of them grimaced, then Rodney asked, "So how's the eyes?"
"Recovering. How's Chewie and Teyla?"
"Ronon's okay. He's still asleep. The drugs didn't work on him, but the fact that he was drugged was enough for Carson to knock him out until they're out of his system."
Rodney's face went coldly blank, but his eyes lit from within. John knew that was fury, and Rodney's cold tone confirmed it. "Rydar lied to us when he said they hadn't done anything to her. They were pumping poison into her cell. If Lorne hadn't arrived when he did.... as it was...."
"What?" John asked, sitting up. "What did those bastards do to her?"
"She was pregnant, John," Rodney said softly. "A baby sister for Torren. Eight weeks along. The poison...."
"Did she know she was pregnant?"
"No. Not until Carson broke it to her."
"Where is she?" John flung back the covers.
Rodney stood, producing a pair of John's aviators from his jacket pocket. It was only then that John noticed Rodney was fully dressed. "In her quarters."
He nodded. "I'll run interference for Carson. Go."
John pressed the buzzer, but there was no answer. He asked nicely, and Atlantis overrode the controls for him.
Teyla was sitting on her bed, Torren lying beside her. She was stroking his hair as she looked out the window.
"I just heard."
She turned to face him. "Kanaan has gone to our people," she said, her voice breaking. "He.... does not know."
"Are you going to tell him?"
"I do not know." She turned back to the window. "I just.... this was...."
John moved to sit beside her. "Wishing Ronon hadn't killed Rydar?"
"Yes," she admitted. "So that I could."
John wrapped his arms around her, and she leaned into his shoulder. She could not cry aloud, for fear of waking Torren, but she wept all the same.
And he brushed a kiss on the part of her hair, holding her very close and letting her weep.
Those bastards would pay for this. Somehow – they would pay.
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