artisticabandon: futuristic cityscape (atlantis)
[personal profile] artisticabandon
Title: Fracture Points
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] stella_pegasi
Word Count: 14,392/14,392 (2,812 this part)
Rating: PG for this part for swears, probably PG15 overall
Warnings: Somewhat graphic torture whump, and allusions to such.
Summary: A debriefing is a debriefing until its an interrogation. Or, the story about how to break and still stay whole.
Author Notes: I was asked for slice of life, team, Cam, and lots of whump. I hope this suffices. Full prompt(s) will be posted with final chapter, because, well, spoilers. Also a bit more rushed than I usually like, because well, deadlines. And a totally chaotic RL.
Note the second: Thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] midnighta for the totally awesomely fast beta. :)



###

FRACTURE POINTS
PART 6: Shattered


###

AFTER
"So, I gather your team found you about then?"

"Yeah. I'd been pulled from the rubble, but I was still fairly close by." No one had been game to move him far. Not with his injuries and their level of technology. (At least, it might just be because they were a scouting team, but the Lao's had mainly hands, buckets, blankets, and ropes to use in his rescue. Enough said.)

"So...you were a hostage all told for..."

"I...don't know, really. I guess...a few hours. Maybe more. Maybe less. My time sense got real fuzzy in parts."

"And your team took how long to find you after leaving Atlantis?"

"I think that was in their reports, actually." Another trap dodged. They were probably trying to see if his team did something wrong in his retrieval.

"So why so long? Aren't Ancient sensors supposed to be powerful?"

Or maybe not. Time for a jargon dump. "Apparently there was some sort of chemical structure in the mineral surrounding the hideout that interfered with the sensors. It was broken when the roof collapsed, but there were still pieces of it all over the place and, more importantly, on top of me. They really only got a clear picture of the signal from my sub-cu when I was above ground and clear of the rubble. Due to the intricacies of the search grid the jumpers were on, it took some time both for it to register and then for them to reach me."

Cam nodded knowingly. It wouldn't be the first time they'd lost track of someone because they were underground or hidden by some sort of mineral. Sub-cu's were a great invention, but as they were finding, there were situations (which the SG teams seemed to get into with startling regularity) that they just didn't work. (Really, emerging Earth tech should just be given to SG teams for the field tests. They'd soon find out how practical things were in real-world situations.)

###

BEFORE
Now, I think I said earlier that the best sounds I've ever heard are those made by my team coming to the rescue.

The first thing I heard was the jumper. The Ancient propulsion system is a rather distinctive noise. (Kind of like a pulsing-bladerunner-noise...but not. It's hard to describe unless you hear it.)

The second thing I heard was their voices. (And that was when I finally relaxed.) Talking to each other, to the Lao'tians, and then when they saw me. Yeah. None of us expected me to come out of the mission uninjured after it turned into a hostage extraction live exercise, but I don't think any of us expected it to be as bad as it was.

So of course I made light of it. Standard bad field humor thing. I squinted up at them and grinned. "What took you so long?"

So there you have it. My team pretty much found me when I was already out of the rubble, but it was rather apparent where I'd been and who'd got me out. (Also, I have this vague memory of Ronon telling me with great relish what the Lao's did to the two idiot's' bodies...which I'm still trying to suppress.) (Like I said, I was the last in a long line of 'hostages'...or murder victims. I just happened to be the first to escape the trap alive.)

Seeing as it was pretty clear at that point that I was going to be the only survivor of the explosion and that I now had my own people to take care of me, the Lao's left the scene. Rather pragmatic people, the Lao'tians.

###

AFTER
Cam froze in the middle of a word, the phrasing catching his attention. "What do you mean, you were going to be the only survivor?"

"Just that. I was the only one they rescued."

"You mean there were others alive when they found you..." he said flatly. And they...no, the Lao's...didn't...help them... It was a hard concept for his brain to wrap around.

John tilted his head. "How shall I say this... Even as injured as I was, they said I was the one most likely to survive. So they did what they could to get me out. Like I said, they're a pragmatic people." But then, most people in Pegasus were like that.

"Sounds like you approve of that."

"I don't. I just understand the mindset. It's a Pegasus thing."

###

BEFORE
Anyway, with it now just me and my people, we could uncloak the jumper, bring it as near as possible. Make it easier for transport.

Not that I was going far without a proper stretcher and backboard. I mean, blankets were all well and good for an immediate short-term solution, but there was no way I was gonna be carted over the rubble-strewn field in just a blanket. (For one, it's undignified. A man's gotta have some respect, you know?) (And second, a blanket's not exactly stable.) (And also, have you ever tried to carry someone using a blanket? It's damn hard, and I had no desire to be on the receiving end of that. Not when alternatives were available.)

Getting on the stretcher was about as much fun as it had been to get on the blanket. Which wasn't much. Lots of poking and rolling. (While I did my best to keep the screaming to the minimum.) (I'd already hit my screaming quota once today, I had no desire to revisit it again. Although trying to move anything, as broken as I was, made it awful difficult not to do just that.)

Thank goodness for the joys of morphine and battlefield doses.

What I remember next comes in bits and pieces. Flashes of memory through the drugs, that sort of thing. (Good drugs, but sometimes not good enough.)

Entering the jumper (and feeling it welcome me).

Through the stargate (to Atlantis. Home.)

Corridor. Endless corridor. And someone jostles the gurney. (Don't do that again.) (Hoping that wasn't me screaming...)

Pain. Cold hands. No clothing. Infirmary. Yay...

From there, the clearest memory I have is waking up to see Keller's face. (Waking up? I was asleep?) It started all the endless rounds of wake-me-up-from-one-surgery-so-we-can-do-another. The docs were pretty quick to tell me I was in for some quality time with them. But then, I'd already known that from the moment that the two idiots had started going hard on me.

###

AFTER
John shifted in the chair once more. "So, I guess here I should add the prognosis, right?"

Cam coughed and blinked. As far as he knew, the doctors were waiting to tell Sheppard after this...debriefing. But trust Sheppard to get ahead of the curve. "Yeah, um, sure, if you, uh, know."

The Colonel just snorted. (He would've rolled his eyes, but, well, concussion victim here.) "Cam, this isn't exactly my first rodeo, so to speak. I'm pretty sure I know what they're going to tell me and how well I'll recover."

"Ain't that the truth," he muttered to himself. He cleared his throat, flipped to a new page, and said in a louder voice, "Ok then, I'm ready."

"Most of the breaks were fairly clean, as far as it could be, so I'm guessing 6 weeks. Except for the concussion, arm, and knee. The concussion is a wait-and-see thing because of all the hits I took. The arm was worse because it's an open compound fracture, so they had to go and pin it...probably 6 to 8 weeks there, depending on the swelling. As for the knee, that was worse because of the delay in treatment, so about 2 months, maybe less if I can keep off it and rest as much as I can. Add to that rehab and PT, because goodness knows the docs are fond of those two words, and I'll be back in action in 3 months." He paused a moment. "Pending the outcome of this inquiry thing I'm not supposed to know about."

This time Cam was sure his poker face was perfect. After all, he'd had a career perfecting it, and you don't get to be a Colonel without having a good one. "What inquiry?"

"The very fact you didn't deny it outright tells me that there is one."

Cam lowered his lids to cover his glare. Now there was The Colonel that the Atlantians both loved and feared. (And at this moment, he himself feared too.) Whichever way he went from here, he was going to get in trouble. If he denied it, he lied. If he confirmed it, he went against orders. "I...can't comment."

"Yeah. Is what I figured." Sheppard shrugged fatalistically.

"You mean..." Was he...was he actually admitting guilt? After this incredible performance, the sheer endurance, was he saying that he knew there'd be an inquiry because of what he did...wrong?

"No." Sheppard stared back half-lidded. "But if one of your soldiers came back like I did, leaving behind a planet in the state it was, wouldn't you investigate?"

Oh. "Well, yeah."

"Q.E.D."

###

BEFORE
So. I had a minimum of three months of infirmary time to look forward to. (Enforced bed rest, yay. Go me.)

But that's the way life treats us sometimes. Sometimes you come out on top...and sometimes you don't.

I found that out about, oh, a week and a half in, I think it was. After I was through most of the surgeries I needed and had healed enough that they'd finally dialed down the drugs part-way, so at least I could think and hold reasonably lucid conversations.

It was the first time I remembered seeing Woolsey, but he told me he'd been to see me numerous times. (And he'd talked to me each time too.) (Stupid drugs.) As base administrator, he felt it was his duty to tell me the outcome of the mission to MKR-389. (His words, not mine.) (I would have used 'fallout', not 'outcome'.)

Apparently, the reason the Ahm'lin had interfered in the negotiations was, as I'd suspected, because they saw the presence of offworlders as proof of Lao'tian superiority, prejudice, whatever. They thought the negotiations were actually to discuss fabled plan to destroy them (as if we were no more than mercenaries for hire) -- hence the whole hostage thing. As for the Lao'tians, well, the hostage thing was their tipping point. The Big Costar dude was convinced that because I'd been so quick to offer myself up instead of him, I had conspired with the Ahm'lin to make it happen that way. (Paranoid, much?) Hence the scouting team to find the Ahm'lin hideout.

And of course, with a collapsed building and no offworlders to show for it (because we had our own people to save, namely me and Rodney), the Ahm'lin and Lao'tian had reverted to type: they were blaming each other and dragging their people along with them. In other words, in the space of a few days, the planet had descended into civil war.

So there you have it. It was a bit of a convoluted mess, but the basic gist was that both sides had used my team as the catalyst (or excuse) for the escalation of their little civil war, and I'd like to think that we paid just as high a price for it as the civilians of MKR-389.

(I know I certainly did.)

###

AFTER
Cam nodded and scribbled a few final notes. "On that topic, have you heard how Rodney's doing?"

"The docs told me that the knife missed his spleen by a whisker. The docs kept him for, like, a week anyway to make sure he'd be okay." He shrugged. "All I really know is that he was getting out of the infirmary as they were putting me into surgery for the third time or so. Teyla and Ronon said they'd had a helluva time keeping him in his room to rest." (Especially as he kept coming back to the infirmary to 'keep watch' or visit the labs.)

Cam smiled. "Good ol' Rodney."

Sheppard smiled back. "Yeah. He's a good friend." He cleared his throat and glanced at his watch for the first time. "Is there anything else? I've got a PT appointment in about half-an-hour I can't afford to miss. That is, if we're still keeping things above board."

"Just a few things left. I noticed during the briefing, you paused when you discussed your training." Cam paused. It wasn't something he particularly cared to know himself, but it would stand out in the transcripts, so it had to be cleared up. "Care to elaborate?"

Sheppard stared. And said nothing.

"Right." Cam sighed and mentally connected up a few dots that he (probably rather stupidly) hadn't before. "I'm going to put down Black Ops. That'll just have to be enough."

"Is there anything else?" The firm tone implied that there'd not be -- or if there was, it'd better be damn important.

Cam cleared his throat and gripped his pen. (When did he lose control of this 'debrief' thing anyway?) "Just one last thing. There's been some suggestion that you...could have timed the 'break' better to limit your injuries. Do you have anything to say to that?"

Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Oh please, who came up with that question? I bet it was someone who's never been on the front-lines," he shot back. "Of course I'd much rather have faked them out before they did my hands. Or my knee, for that matter. But it wasn't like they gave me an itinerary of the torture so I'd know in advance how to time things. I worked with what I had at the time."

"And hindsight is a bitch." Usually it was the bitch of the IOA and the faceless men running the show, but neither of them were going to say that. Not here. Not now.

"That too." Sheppard pushed the chair back. "Now, if that's all..." He made his way to his feet. Which, really, was far easier to say than it was to do. He had one braced knee and both hands only worked somewhat well because they were still in articulated splints. It was, after all, only a month out of MKR-389. And so he used a rolling walker he could rest his arms in. (Actually he was still supposed to be in a wheelchair.) (But 1) he was stubborn that way; 2) a condition of attending this inquiry thing was that he be relatively mobile; and 3) he wanted this inquiry-thing over and done with so he could get on with the business of healing.)

Cam sat in his chair and watched as Sheppard awkwardly walked (okay, so it was more like a hobbling shuffle) to the door. Firstly, on a personal level, he admired the determination in every step. Secondly, the Atlantian Colonel had earned the right of him waiting until there was the extra support of the door. Just in case.

"Oh by the way, Colonel," Cam called out at the right moment, as if it was no more than an afterthought (which it so wasn't), "what are you going to do about MKR-389?"

"Oh, that." Sheppard turned back at the door, holding on to the doorframe with his good hand to make it back around. "I'll send Ronon and Teyla back to collect on the harvest agreement, with Charlie Company for manpower." The 'and backup' was as obvious as it was unspoken.

"On foot?"

Sheppard grinned, an easy smile beneath hardened eyes. "Of course. Even if I have to redial to get them all through."

Cam let out a low whistle. The boots on the ground of over 200 Marines was nothing to sneeze at. If nothing else, it'd make for an impressive sight. (Which was, of course, the whole point to the exercise.) But seeing as he'd volunteered to play the role of devil's advocate today... "But what about the civil war?"

"That's what Charlie Company is for. You need to have peace to collect a harvest, don't you?"

And then he was out the door and gone.

###

ELSEWHERE
The faceless men sat back in their chairs.

Silence descended on the room like a blanket, heavy, warm, thick, cloying.

"Well," one of them finally said, an indefinite time later, "I hope that answers your questions."

"It does. No way in hell am I going after one of his." He got up and walked out without looking back.

The third, who'd been silent up until now, quietly stood and dusted off his outfit. "We'll be clearing him of all charges. The note will be in your inbox tomorrow." With that, everyone else left the room.

The first speaker stood, and after a thoughtful moment, reached out and flicked off the monitors, sending the room into darkness.

###

END OF STORY



Extra notes:

Prompt in full:
action/adventure, character studies, new alien cultures, humor, slice of life, and whump…. Lots of whump.
In detail: Calling on an ally proves dangerous, when the team walks into a revolution and the rebels take Sheppard hostage, demanding Atlantis’ help in overthrowing the government. Who is really the bad guy, the government or the rebels?
Requested characters: In addition to Sheppard, I like Rodney, Ronon, Lorne, Zelenka, Beckett, Sam Carter or Woolsey. Having Cam Mitchell in a story with Sheppard would be nice.


I think I got most of it, although I'm hazy on certain parts, and not all the characters got speaking lines -- because Cam kept stealing them, the 'bad guy' role kept shifting, and Sheppard was downright chatty at parts. o_O Other than that, I hope it satisfies, and I had a blast writing it. :)

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