Rating: Teen (for some violence and a little language)
Spoilers: Early S4 somewhere for a brief mention of the potential existence of the setting, but nothing major
Characters: Kavanagh, Simpson, Corrigan, various minor OC's and alien race of the week
Summary: He'd been told in the mandatory counselling - necessitated by “his” continued inability to get on with most of the personnel on Atlantis - that teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. He could definitely say it helped his teamwork skills when the shared vision was not dying horribly.
Author's Note: This is for lirielviridian, as part of the kavtolanon Secter Santa, who wanted “college, deadly presents ( weapons! WEAPONS!) and Kav who can hold his drink.” Lacking in college elements, sorry, but I think I managed to fulfil the other two requirements well.
Betaread by rodlox and fififolle
Following the grim trail of blood that led into the mess hall, they were met by a scene of chaos.
“What the fuck!?” Simpson declared, stealing the words out of his mouth; both of them were drop-jawed by what they faced.
Furniture was strewn across the room, large sets of triple scores through much of it, made by the now ominously absent sword. The already inadequate Christmas decorations were shredded to bits, with what was left of them hanging haphazardly on one side. Those remaining paper chains ran down the walls, next to the rivulets of blood. There was no sign of any life and fortunately no bodies either. Santini's terrified babbling had died away as they'd reached the area and she wasn't any where to be seen, leaving them no clue whose blood had been spilt.
“Where did they go? Where would you go – if you were Santini?” Simpson whispered.
“I don't know.” He let out a short nervous laugh, his mind busily raking over the facts, desperately trying to formulate a theory from it all, “I don't exactly have a wish to get inside her mind. Besides, she was babbling like a fool on the radio. Do you really think we're going to any sense out of her?” he said, striding over to Simpson's position, ignoring the motivation. In the back of his mind he was thinking safety in numbers, comforted slightly that there were ten of them versus seven Tirtas.
“Worth a try. Whatever happened she saw it.”
He snorted, close to letting out another almost hysterical laugh. Out of all the Atlantis disasters, he'd never seen this much blood and being confronted with it was starting to get to him. “Yeah, saw it and flipped out. Real helpful.”
His reaction seemed to be testing Simpson's patience. “Reckon you could have done better?” she said daringly, moving closer, facing him off. He didn't move away but mentally he stumbled for a response, recognising that something horrible had happened here and he was barely keeping it together in the aftermath, which made it hypocritical to question the others' behaviour. The nonoccurence of a reply didn't deter her from throwing down the gauntlet though.
“Get over yourself, Kavanagh. Santini is out there crying to herself, people are injured, someone is possibly dead, judging by how much blood's been lost. I don't want to hear a single word bitching about bad management of the situation – we're in a state of emergency. Start thinking on your feet or you'll be next!”
He let her finish uninterrupted, unnecessary as her monologue was, knowing she was venting her own stress. The natural reaction seemed to be laugh, cry or fight - his was to laugh in the face of danger so far, which was about as useful as Santini's. Not wanting to end up hysterical, he tried to push the nervousness back and focus on the reality. Have to find people. Figure out what happened. Fight back.
Having finished her fuming Simpson picked up a metal chair leg, wrenching it out of the broken plastic base, and went to check out the corridor outside.
“Wait, there's a tapping.” he said, tipping his head, “Coming from the kitchen.”
Simpson stayed put, watching him as he made his way across and prodded the door open. He'd only put one foot inside when he saw a glint in the light and was jerked to the floor. In a flash he was dragged inside and the darkness became complete, with the one sensation he was aware of being the knife at his throat.
The question from Santini was short and sweet, some Italian unintelligible to him, but emphasised as a query by the tip of the knife digging in a tad more to prompt a response. Afraid of the blade he gruffly responded “Kavanagh” with minimum movement, hoping she was sane enough to recognise he was a friend, their disputes notwithstanding. After a second the pressure was released and he instinctively moved a hand to protect his neck, smoothing over the skin to double check there was no serious damage.
Reaching into his combats for a torch, he heard scuttling sounds and hurried to click it on. Illuminated by the beam, Santini was huddled in the corner, covered in blood. In her left hand was a carving knife, positioned upright, wavering alarmingly as she rocked on her heels. For a second he thought her responsible until his mind took in the details. Blood was all over her but there was none on the knife.
Keeping at a distance, he tried to engage her in conversation.
“What happened? Whose blood is it?”
Blood was the key word, eliciting her to glance at him and emit a mumbled reply.
“Blood. Everywhere. They came and it was everywhere.”
As she began to sob, he felt despicable to be pushing for more answers but it had to be done.
“Whose blood is it? Are all of us okay?”
“Is the team alright, Rebecca?”
The tears were coming freely but he didn't feel that moving closer to comfort her was wise – he was still wary of the knife held steadfast.
“Santini! What fucking happened?”
The crying stopped and she looked up. Probably wasn't the brightest idea to try to provoke a person with a weapon but it had got her attention. He didn't detect that usual fire in her eyes, there was no rage directed at him. She stared blankly through him yet she spoke clearly, detached this time.
“Birre came and Yolle came, with the others. They were armed and they argued with Mikku. Tried to force him to go with them. There was fighting, Mikku's sword got used. He was good with it but there were more of them, even when Rennu turned on the rest. I didn't know what to do. So many cuts, so much blood. I hid, and after, Rennu found me...his blood. Everyone else was gone.”
The last sentiment sank in and her tears returned with a vengeance. He considered taking her with him, to wherever he would end up, but didn't deem it prudent given her fluctuating condition. At least she had no problem defending herself, she was currently better armed than him. However, she was definitely in shock and from the brief training he'd had there came the idea he should do something about it - surely she'd stand a better chance if she was more coherent? How long the coherency would stay he couldn't tell, if she reacted the same again, but it was worth doing anyway.
The recommendation he could recall was for tea or coffee with lots of sugar, neither of which he was keen to take the time out to make, so he fumbled in his pockets for a powerbar. Sliding it across the floor it came to rest a foot away from her position. Her eyes darted to it for a second but she didn't take the bait. Groaning at the predictability of the situation, he reluctantly withdrew the other option and slid that across as well. This time the gift was snatched up immediately, stowed away who knew where because as he made his way to the door he couldn't hear her eating it. He hoped he hadn't just wasted his last candy bar on a soon to be dead woman.
The bright light stung in his eyes as he exited the kitchen. “Simpson,” he called out, wondering which direction would be best for a trip to the armoury. While his sight adjusted to the ambience, he couldn't see her about, and squinting less and less he realised he'd lost her. There'd been no noises whilst he'd been “chatting” to Santini and there was no sign of a struggle in the corridor but the possibility was there that Simpson had fallen foul of the renegade Tirtas group. Suddenly he felt empty, alone, the fear spilling in. He was in the middle of a wrecked corridor, exposed...but maybe she'd left him, fled like a coward at the first sign of trouble. He latched onto the anger, ignoring the point that it would be uncharacteristic for her, and marched defiantly towards the armoury, holding his only weapon – the small maglite – raised, ready to strike.
Heading for the ground floor “armoury” – the largest of the weapons lockers in the facility - it wasn't long before he came across another gruesome stream of blood that backed into a tiny easy-to-miss storage closet.
This time he pushed down the handle and opened it just a crack first – he didn't want to risk a potentially lethal repeat of the Santini event. Moving away to kick it open from the hinged side, he quickly swung the torch upwards, scanning the closet. The beam shone across a body and he angled it down to where he estimated the face should be, into the eyes of...Rennu. He was slumped against the side wall, eyes watery and skin pale.
“Couldn't stop them,” the Tirtas spluttered weakly, a hint of unnatural red staining his lips.
The crazed, delirious portion of his mind pondered the likelihood the guy had found the time to experiment with one of Yolande's lipsticks, ready to twist reality into a joke that seemed more acceptable, less panic-inspiring. The rest of him bit down on the maddened idea; he knew exactly what it was.
A glance further down highlighted torn white fabric wrapped around his torso, soaked through with blood. Glistening drops were forming at the bottom of the makeshift dressing, indicating the bleeding was nowhere near stopping.
“It's...appreciated,” he replied. The response didn't seem adequate to him somehow. Creeping closer, he took another sheet from a nearby shelf and crouching down, tried to work out the best way to apply it.
“Take the sword,” Rennu said, indicating with a feeble roll of his head to the left.
A few inches from his limp arm was a sword, one of the outer sections of the ceremonial triple blade. Of course, that'd make sense, there was little else to cut with around here and the strips already tied loosely were, upon examination, less roughly made than he'd have expected. Reaching across he pulled the sword to his side and set about making more, hoping he could better wrap them to slow the bleeding than Rennu had managed on his own.
Handling the sword was much different from any weapon he was used to, not that he'd fenced in years. Generally he avoided weapons training like the plague, wanting to keep his contact with the military to the minimum. Basic pistol and survival training should have sufficed for the type of missions he preferred and he certainly didn't want to give them any excuses to send him on extra dangerous missions, but right now he could've done with that course on impromptu melee fighting he'd opted out of last month. It'd been so easy to turn down with him being on leave at the time...
“Take the sword.” Rennu repeated, to his confusion – he might be fumbling it but he had the sword no mistake. Maybe the guy was already too far gone.
“I've already got the sword,” he replied, stripping the sentence of the impatience threatening to spill through.
“Take it and go. Birre has Mikku...looking for another, one of yours...” Rennu closed his eyes and grunted in pain as Kavanagh shifted his body forward, looping the makeshift bandage around his back. “He will kill you in pairs.”
“Feel like sharing the why?” he asked tetchily, pulling the wrap a bit too tight for Rennu's liking judging by his grimace. Guilt rose but Will reminded himself it was for his own good, Rennu stood no chance without decent dressings.
“A war with your people would be convenient, uniting the tribes and clans of our world, and,” Rennu laughed bitterly, eyes drifting to the floor as he elaborated the thoughts that must have been running through his head the past few hours, “it could justify the old ways. Birre would have his precious power returned, for as long as they deem him to be successful.”
Returning his gaze to Will, it became focused, piercing and almost demanding of him as he explained the bleak situation further.
“But it won't work. There's been a curse – a disease,” Rennu corrected his language, either avoiding ties to the superstitious old way or perhaps to appeal to the scientist, “on the lands for centuries. It grows colder, food sparser for it and half of us are reduced to desperate fools, willing to follow anyone proclaiming an answer.”
Will didn't know what to say to that. None of it helped him out of this predicament.
“I've done my best with your wounds. I'm no medic.”
“Many thanks for your efforts Dr Kavanagh,” Rennu said. His voice dropped to a low, sounding incredibly exhausted after his passionate confession.
“You're welcome,” he said, his voice wavering as he noted the speedily spreading patch on the new bandages, “I've got to go now.”
Closing the door quietly, he scouted the surrounding corridor. When he felt satisfied it was safe, he traipsed in the direction of the west wing, treading as lightly as possible. Creeping around the scattered pieces of broken glass fallen from a light above, he opened the creaky door to the stairwell with a wince at the noise.
Peering upwards the coast looked clear for a trip to his lab, where he knew there had to be plenty of hazardous chemicals he could use against the less friendly Tirtas. Starting a war wasn't going to look good on his record – and it always went down as the Atlanteans fault, which until now he could've believed, given Sheppard and co's casual attitude to mission planning and diplomacy - but damned if he was going to wait around to be a sacrificial lamb for some greedy power hungry priest.
With dread he stepped into the stairwell and began the climb to the top floor, ignoring the nagging thought that told him he was leaving the man to die in a dark tiny alien closet, and that he was chasing after an optimistic notion he'd fare any better off by resisting directly. The clank from the metallic step echoed and he held back on the following movement, wondering if this was such a good plan as it had seemed a minute ago. Going up there he could be walking right into Birre's arms or a trap set for him - they knew where he worked after all.
Backing off, he moved his foot down from the step, only to be surprised by a screech. He'd been hefting along the single blade from the tri-sword and glancing down he saw it had caught the concrete when he'd dropped his guard in defeat. Bloodstains marred the weapon, which he noticed in the well lit area was duller than when shown off by Mikku. This one looked older, antiqued and plainer too, the carvings simpler – in the pattern of the foliage scrolling out they were each time split into three branches. The significance was lost on him but he held it up higher, feeling it would be disrespectful to disregard the gift from Rennu, and with the effort came a rush of adrenaline.
Would Simpson stop here? Would she back down from a necessary fight? No. And neither would Corrigan or Valk; they'd talk, they'd aim for a peaceful end but they'd also strike back when that failed. Everyone else would fight. Even the gibbering mess that was Santini would fight tooth and claw against anyone threatening them. Everyone else would fight and fail, leaving only him. If he hid there'd be one insult on Atlantis he'd actually deserve, a slur against his character he'd not be able to defend. If he didn't fight, he'd be a sole survivor...and a despicable coward.
The determination not to prove them right replaced fear and he raised the sword higher still, muscles protesting, and ran forwards in a dash to his lab. He didn't make it to floor 2 without a rest – sprinting with a sword wasn't a bright idea – yet slowing to an average pace did not cause his courageousness to dissipate. He gripped the sword firmly and made his way, counting down the steps to the top, every step creating a shrill beat in his call to war.
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