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The Forgotten

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It was a hell of a plan, and John hated every god damn part of it.

The old biddy wanted 'the women'. There was zero chance in a snow covered hell that John was going to hand them over, and he was pretty confident the 'Lantean ladies weren't about to volunteer. Teyla looked ready to break some bones, and Cadman had a half-smirk that was a definite warning she was planning on using some, if not all, of the C4.

But if the women were the prize, then it stood to reason that the old coot wouldn’t start shooting until the ladies were out of the line of fire.

Maybe.

Possibly.

He hoped.

Hell.

John thought of asking Kiryk to transport the women to safer places around the square, but he couldn’t chance moving the doc. Without McKay to breakdown the Ancient armband, John couldn’t trust Jen would survive another trip. She’d barely lived through the last one.

So if Jen couldn’t leave, then none of them would.

With the fire now crawling up the door at their backs, they hastily decided that Teyla and Laura would lead the parade out through the front door. The plan grasped for the hope that Thea wanted to keep Laura and Teyla alive so she could turn them into mindless drone-wives. Which meant if the ladies went out first, there wouldn’t be any shooting.

Unfortunately, putting Teyla and Laura up front and center went against every macho male bone in John's body. And Evan’s. And Ronon’s. And even though he hadn’t asked, probably Kiryk’s, too. John fully understood he was reacting like some kind of mentally mad caveman, but it didn't matter. He hated being relegated to the rear like a damn recruit.

The only ones who seemed fine with the filing order were Teyla and Laura, and John certainly wasn’t about to tell either one of those two that he was so far passed pissed-off at being at the back of the line he was standing in another galaxy.

If he had to have two women taking the lead, Teyla and Laura would be the two women he chose first and foremost.

Didn’t mean he had to like it.

Teyla coughed. “We need to go. The smoke is becoming very thick.”

When she moved past him towards the front door, he placed his hand on her shoulder. Even though he would always and forever freely admit she was the stronger of the two of them, he couldn’t stop the worried direction of his thoughts. He hated knowing she was taking the first step. Putting herself right in the line of fire. He should be out there with her. In front of her. Protecting her.

She smiled as though reading his thoughts. “I will be fine, John,” she said softly.

Better be.”

Evan and Laura were having a mind-meld conversation in the corner, neither speaking but John supposed neither had to. It was probably the same conversation he’d been silently having in his head with Teyla.

Don’t fucking die.

John glanced over at Ronon, who was holding Jennifer tightly in his arms, his blaster barely visible beneath the fall of the blankets the doc was wrapped beneath. John had no words of advice for the Satedan, so he simply gave the big man a nod. Ronon would die before he let anything happen to Jen, but at the same time, Ronon would also do everything he could to keep himself alive to protect her.

Unwilling to consider losing any one of them to the creepy old crone and her poison soup, John forced his emotions down into a box and locked them up. He glanced at his team-mates, every one of them locked, loaded, and ready to get busy.

They may not have the numbers, but damn if they didn’t have the firepower.

Time for some show-and-tell?” Evan asked. He looked about as happy with being behind Laura and Teyla as John was.

John dipped his chin at Teyla. “Go.”

P90 in hand, Teyla opened the door and stepped onto the porch. As soon as she did, the air inside the building changed, and the fire jumped at having fresh oxygen. A stack of seed bags next to the door frame lit up with a whoosh.

Out,” John ordered.

Facing a village firing squad would be better odds than standing in a burning building.

Teyla walked straight the edge of the covered porch then took a step down to stand in the dust of the central square. Laura walked up to her right, John on her left. Evan stopped on Laura’s open side. They angled themselves to cover as much of the crowd as they could, forming a semi-circle around Ronon, who stood behind them with Jennifer in his arms and Kiryk at his side.

Drop your guns,” the old witch commanded.

I do not think so,” Teyla replied.

John kept his attention locked on the villagers. If one of them so much as twitched, the dusty square was going to turn into the OK Corral.

Thea took a step closer. “You can not win.”

You have seen what our weapons can do,” Teyla countered. “You are a fool if you believe you will survive.”

The old woman laughed. “I was not talking about your weapons, I was talking about your doctor.”

What about her?” John demanded.

You came for her. Fought for her. That means she is worth something to you. Something of value. You may kill me, you may kill us all, but you will also be killing her.”

You won’t touch her,” Ronon growled.

I don’t have to touch her,” Thea said with a cackling laugh. “She is dying in your arms at this very moment. I alone can cure her. I alone can save her. Give her to me, and I will see that she lives a long, healthy life.”

Not going to happen,” Ronon snarled.

Thea lifted her hands, her gnarled fingers pointing into the air to the left and the right. “Then you shall all die.”

It's the oldest trick in the book, John silently argued with himself. It's a distraction. Don't look. Don't look.

He looked.

Standing on the rooftop of the closest buildings to the left, and the right, were six men each. All armed. All aiming rifles at their group.

John twisted, his P90 targeting the rooftop. He didn’t have to ask to know that Evan had done the same on his side. But covering Thea's snipers meant splitting their firepower. John and Even may have the roof, but Teyla and Laura would now have to cover the entire square.

They couldn't retreat--the back half of the store was now completely engulfed in flames and smoke was pouring out the windows--and they sure as hell wouldn't surrender.

Left or right,” Kiryk said quietly, his question just loud enough for John’s ears.

John shook his head. Even with Kiryk to distract one of the groups on the roof, he wouldn’t be able to take all 12. “Unless you’ve got another one of those armbands, we can’t take both.”

My last offer,” Thea called out. “Drop your weapons.”

A familiar whine sliced the silence.

John shifted positions so he could see both the rooftop, and Ronon.

Kiryk was now holding Jennifer and Ronon was striding across the dusty center square, his blaster pointing straight at the old woman's head.

Aw, crap.