Breaking Walls

Full Circle

-Somewhere in Pegasus-

Disgust, annoyance, exasperation, a myriad of emotions passed through all three Ba'al's faces as their eyes fell on the contents of the scout ship. It had been a bit disconcerting when the prototype scout ship had returned to the mother-ship on auto-pilot. It was the only scout ship equipped with the new long range beaming technology. The sensors showed one life sign on board, and that life sign was registering as unconscious. Ba'al, he, and himself decided to meet the ship personally when it docked. He'd have carried out the entire plan on his own were it not for the fact that he'd be recognized. He'd been shown time and time again that he was the only one he could trust to get a job done right. This would be added to that list of times.

Blood had spread thickly across the floor of the ship. His valuable merchandise lay unconscious in said puddle of blood. The steady rise and fall of Dr. McKay's chest suggested that the blood was not his, but there was heavy bruising around his neck and an odd angle to his left leg. Under normal circumstances he would seriously berate the individual responsible for delivering such important goods damaged. But only half of the employee in question had returned, and it wasn't a half Ba'al cared to attempt speaking to.

Was it really so complicated to beam a man into an orbiting ship and render him unconscious without nearly killing him in the process? This was just sloppy, incompetent, and negligent! Long range sensors had already shown that Atlantis' planet was still intact. He could only assume that the city itself had also survived. No doubt the humans of Earth and Atlantis would spare nothing in attempting to track down their little lost scientist. They had this annoyingly persistent tendency to be heroic that way; 'Never leave a man behind', and all that. How tiresome.

This was precisely the situation Ba'al had planned so carefully to avoid. He couldn't afford attention to be drawn to his other acquisitions and projects on Earth. Not yet. And a full fledged search for McKay would produce just that. Pity. Dead or alive, this Dr. McKay would eventually have to be returned.

Ba'al glanced over at himself and called for two more of him to assist. Cloning technology was just one of the many benefits he'd managed to accrue from his time with Anubis. Anubis had been the most corrupt and insane Goa'uld he'd ever had the fortune of exploiting. But Anubis had also been a visionary! No other of their kind had ever reached as far as he had in their quest for immortality. Unfortunately, he had been a selfish visionary. It was Ba'al's intention, not only to restore his race to their former glory but, to usher all who would follow him into the next level of existence. They would truly be gods.

It was the natural course of evolution, for all higher races to reach a point where they would seek immortality. The Ancients had sought ascension. The Nox had become forever young. The Asgard transferred they consciousness into cloned bodies. Their moral superiority was nothing more than hypocrisy. They each fought to live at all costs, just like every other life form. The Wraith were the purest example of this evolution to immortality. Survival was the only goal that counted for any form of life.

The Goa'uld were not yet one of the immortal races. Their lives could be extended remarkably by transferring themselves from host to host. The lives of both the host and the Goa'uld within could be further extended with dependence on the sarcophagus. But no Goa'uld but Anubis had yet reached true immortality. Anubis had shown Ba'al that it could be done. Ba'al was certain that the first step in following Anubis' footsteps would be understanding how the Ori and the Ancients had evolved themselves.

He'd been elated to learn that the humans, as primitive as they seemed in comparison to the technological advancements he was used to seeing, had actually unknowingly begun this research in a project they'd called Phoenix. The potential benefits were worth the risks involved in abducting Dr. McKay. Even a day of examining the human with the Asgard technology he'd acquired would make it worth it. He would have needed longer, but the information already transferred to him from Dr. Beckett's research had helped a great deal. At least those incompetents had managed to do something right.

He stepped into the shuttle, grimacing at the sticky mess as his shoe squished in the partially dried blood. The two Ba'al's he'd called arrived with a stretcher, and mirrored Ba'al's earlier look of disgust, annoyance, and exasperation.

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Sheppard let out loud a long string of curses as he spun the cloaked jumper away from its collision course with the now closed doors of the Mother ship's docking bay. So close! They had followed the Scout-ship's course, managing to stay ahead of it, by leapfrogging through eight star-gates. After the seventh gate the predicted course took the scout-ship over an hour of the way of the nearest gated planet. Sheppard had pushed every inch of speed out of the jumper, only to watch the mother ship open its doors and swallow the trail they'd been following just as they arrived.

He was seconds too late to follow the scout ship in. What he would have done once inside, he had no idea. But he had to try. Ronon sounded about as frustrated as Sheppard felt as he punched his own leg and growled something unintelligible.

Teyla calmly regarded the two men, "That was foolish. We cannot help Rodney if we are captured ourselves. We must stay hidden and direct the Asgard ship when it arrives. If we are to strike, we must wait until we have a chance of success."

Sheppard forced himself to take a calming breath. He knew Teyla was right. "I know." It just sucked. Those Goa'uld could be doing anything to Rodney while they were just sitting out there, letting it happen. John never would have thought before this that just doing nothing could take so much effort.

He commanded the jumper to land on the hull of the mother ship, remaining cloaked, and settled in to wait as long as it took. The jumper sensors picked up a shield surrounding the Mother ship, and the jumper with it. "We're here Rodney," he whispered out loud.

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Terror held Rodney's eyes closed while his heart beat loudly in his ears. He didn't want to be awake. He didn't want it to be real.

This isn't happening. This isn't happening. This isn't happening…

Even with his eyes tightly closed he could tell he was in a box, a small coffin like box. He could feel the closeness of the walls surrounding him, and his breath became short and fast.

Oh god! Wide open spaces. Wide open spaces. Wide open spaces.

He swallowed the moisture that fear brought to his mouth… and it didn't hurt? Why didn't it hurt? His throat had practically been crushed when he'd tried to get away from Bobby. Maybe it was all a bad dream? He'd had a lot of those lately.

The lid to the box slid open and light spilled in on Rodney. Despite his best judgement, he opened his eyes.

"Ah good. You're awake. Welcome Dr. McKay." A man in an expensive business suit smiled down at him.

"Are you sure it worked? He still doesn't look too good." Rodney turned his head and found an identical man looking at him with mild concern.

"Ah." The first answered as he looked down at the clip-board. "That would be the claustrophobia. Am I right?" He looked at Rodney as though expecting an answer.

Rodney looked down at the box that still enclosed half his body. It was a sarcophagus, as in techno coffin with addictive mind-altering properties. He scrambled out of it and tumbled onto the floor in panic.

"I'm right." The second man stated smugly.

"I so often am." The first man agreed confusingly, and then sighed and tutted, "Now, now, Doctor. If you hurt yourself you'll only have to go back in."

Ba'al! The realization shouted in Rodney's skull. He'd read the SGC reports. Unless there was another power crazy Goa'uld that had cloned himself repeatedly and set himself up as a high-end executive, this was Ba'al. Either way, this was bad. Bad, bad, bad.

Rodney scrambled to his feet and backed into something low, firm, and painful. He turned and saw an ornate table laden with foods native to earth. Fear still pounded in his ears, but he forced himself to take his first real look at his prison cell. He needed to get information if he was going to get himself out of this.

It was an enormous room, elaborately furnished with antique drawer sets, mirrors, and a set of comfortable looking chairs. Silky looking curtains draped down around a four-poster bed. The hum of the ship, and a window overlooking the stars, told him he was still in space.

"I had a little something layed out for you," the first Ba'al, no wait it was the second, said with a charismatic smile. He held his hands open in front of him, in a gesture to indicate he wished no harm, as he inched closer to where McKay had fled.

"We wouldn't want you getting hypoglycaemic. Don't worry. There's no citrus what-so-ever." The other Ba'al, whichever one it was, seemed content to stand back and give McKay his space.

McKay swallowed fearfully and backed around to the other side of the table, so that it was between him and the approaching Ba'al. "That's uh…," he hated how shaky his voice was, "Surprisingly humane."

"That's me!" The Ba'al that had stopped short of the table spread his arms magnanimously, "I don't have anything against humanity, Dr. McKay. You and I both know that the Goa'uld aren't gods, at least not yet. We need humans to survive. And can I just say Earth is a great planet. Did you know that my organization has become one of the biggest givers to your world's charities?" The Goa'uld punched his fist into the air, "We Fight War on Poverty!"

Think Rodney! What would Sheppard do? Think...Ha… not think, obviously. Act. He'd act…Blow something up, shoot something, knife something… that's it! He'd slip a weapon while the Goa'uld is expounding.

"You want me to believe you're a humanitarian?! You kidnapped me!" McKay slipped on his cloak of arrogance, as best he could while shaking in terror, and complained loudly as he slipped the closest thing to a weapon up his sleeve… the butter knife. The knife slipped neatly up the fitted cuff and rested against the soft fabric. McKay looked down at the shirt in surprise. It was blue, stylish, rather Italian, and he'd never seen it before in his life. It was tucked into equally expensive looking black trousers. "What's this?!"

"Armani," Ba'al explained. Rodney decided he no longer cared which one. "Sadly, the clothing you arrived in was spoiled."

"Spoiled? How? And where's Bobby Freeman? He was with me." McKay rambled off the questions even as the tried to formulate some sort of plan. Maybe if he could get through to Bobby they could escape together.

The Ba'al's exchanged a look before one answered smoothly, "It doesn't really matter. Are you really concerned for him after what he did? After all, you wouldn't be here if it weren't for him."

Rodney scowled at the Ba'al that was talking. Did they think he was that stupid? "I know you used some sort of mind control on him. Nothing he did was his choice."

Ba'al nodded and considered. Dr. McKay clearly had the sort of analytical mind that panicked less with more information. As he needed the man to be conscious for the procedures, he would be easier to handle if he weren't panicking, "Very well. He's dead, Dr. McKay, and not by my hand."

Rodney's felt his mind go numb as stared at the Goa'uld. The Ba'al took the opportunity to step around the table to within arms reach. Rodney didn't duck away, he just couldn't find the will to. He remembered now what Bobby had told him, what had happened to Mrs. Freeman. And now Bobby was dead too. Rodney turned to the Ba'al standing next to him, "How?"

"That's not important. I hardly think the gory details will help your frame of mind. Suffice it to say, he was quite beyond the help of a sarcophagus." Ba'al patted McKay on the shoulder.

Ba'al carefully watched the grief stricken look that appeared on the humans face and passed into acceptance. "The sooner you accept your situation, Dr. McKay, the better it will be for you. You have no allies here. You are my prisoner. But if you co-operate your stay will be made as pleasant and painless as possible."

Rodney noted that 'as pleasant and painless as possible' did not mean 'pleasant and painless'. As possible was a proviso that would allow megalomaniac aliens to do many unpleasant things. "What are you planning to do to me?"

The Ba'al with the clipboard smiled in a doctorly manner that reminded Rodney of Carson. The effect was nauseating, "We're going to begin by running some scans. Then we'll launch into some new treatments we've based on your remarkable Dr. Beckett's research. Under any other circumstances I'm sure you'd be fascinated, Dr. McKay."

"Treatments?" Rodney hated the way his voice cracked, but his quick mind was already imagining far too many unpleasant possibilities. He wondered if Atlantis realized he was missing yet. He wondered how Bobby had died. A knock at the door interrupted his morbid train of thought. And yet another three Ba'al's strolled into the room. This was going to get confusing; except McKay wasn't even trying to keep track anymore, as fear and depression overwhelmed his will.

"Time to go!" one of the new Ba'al's proclaimed cheerfully.

All five Ba'al's soon surrounded McKay. He made no move to run away and didn't struggle as they led him from the room. The effort would be wasted. One human with a Goa'uld could easily overpower ten Rodney McKay's.

He stopped watching where they were taking him and stopped listening to their explanations as he was escorted to various bits of equipment, scanned, poked, and prodded. All the same boring things he'd spent hours having done with Carson in Atlantis, with a few extra bits of alien technology gathering information.

First his principal, then Bobby and his mother had been murdered. He realized now that it was his fault. Why couldn't he have been more like Jeannie? She was brilliant. Possibly more brilliant than Rodney ever would be. But she had chosen to hide it behind moderate grades. She was quiet and well behaved. She did everything right. And everyone had loved her. Rodney desperately wished he could have done that. Sometimes he'd tried. But he just couldn't. He kept taking things apart, trying to understand them, and rebuilding them. He should have tried harder.

He winced as a needle was inserted into his arm, to draw out blood.

All he wanted was some small corner of the universe where he could be himself and learn everything he ever wanted to learn. He'd almost found that in Atlantis. Almost. And he'd nearly gotten it destroyed just by being there.

A Nobel Prize would have been nice too. A small corner of the universe and a Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize was the symbol of not only humanities acceptance, but appreciation, of a fellow human's brilliance.

And a date with Samantha Carter. A small corner of the universe, a Nobel Prize, and a date with Samantha Carter was all he ever wanted.

Well… maybe not all.

A small part of Rodney wondered if maybe everyone was better off with him locked away as far away as possible. He was so tired of hiding. He was tired of keeping everyone at arms length, even his own sister. After being so careful for so long he was right back where he'd started, with more people dead because of him and in the hands of lunatic's intent on doing horrible things to him, completely alone.

'Alright! That's enough." Rodney thought forcibly at himself. 'You've had your pathetic little mope. Now it's time to get your self out of this, again. You need a plan.'

Rodney had every intention of escaping as soon as an opportunity presented itself, but he had no idea where he'd go. Returning to Atlantis would only endanger it. On earth, he'd only be running again. He'd always be looking over his shoulder. There were a lot of other planets he could try to hide on. But for how long? It would only be a matter of time before the Genii or some other psycho people figured out who he was and how useful he could be. He was too well known now. He wouldn't fair any better or any longer than he had the last time he'd escaped. Rodney found himself sinking into melancholy again.

"This will hurt a little, just keep still." Ba'al admonished, while two others moved to help hold Rodney in place. The Goa'uld seemed to be enjoying the novelty of playing doctor.

"What?" Rodney blinked up at them, then gasped in pain as a large sharp needle was driven into his hip and slowly began to draw out bone marrow. "Gah! Don't you have any local anaesthetic?!"

"Sadly," The Ba'al actually looked apologetic, "We need your system clear of any drugs for the time being. This should only take ten or fifteen minutes."

Carson would never do this. He missed Carson.

Rodney closed his eyes and recited the periodic table.

"That's right." Not Carson coo'd, "Almost done."

The needle was finally withdrawn. Rodney would have sighed in relief if it weren't for the sudden jolt of pain in the side of his neck. "Gah!"

"There," All three Ba'al's smiled broadly down at him, "The painful part is over for now."

"For now?" Rodney glared. They released him and he lifted a hand to rub his neck. "What was that?"

"At the risk of sounding cliché, Dr. McKay, that was a bomb." Ba'al pulled out a little remote and held it up as he spoke. "More specifically it's about a hundred little nano-bombs. If I don't enter a very precise code into this device once every two hours you will explode. So I wouldn't get any ides about escaping or using whatever powers you might have or obtain to make us let you go and destroy all our research." He wagged a scolding finger at the scientist. "That little trick is not going to work here."

Rodney stared at the Goa'uld in disbelief, "You're right. That really is cliché." And he was now officially doomed.

The two Ba'al's that had held him pulled him effortlessly out of the chair and led him into a room with a cloning chamber.

"You're cloning me?" Rodney asked stupidly. The thought of dozens or more of himself going through whatever experiments Ba'al had planned, and more being taken as hosts, made Rodney ill. Not the least because he knew exactly how each of them would feel.

"Yes, but only so we have a spare or two while we're working out any kinks in the therapy." One of the Ba'al's explained as Rodney was firmly turned around and pushed into the chamber. "More importantly, Dr. McKay, This remarkable machine is going to scan and record your genetic code. It's not only going to pick out the traits that give you your remarkable intelligence, it will record your genetic memories as well."

"Oh. What therapy?" Rodney silently begged it wouldn't be like before.

Ba'al smiled at the human and supposed there was no harm in indulging his questions. After all, even if Dr. McKay was returned to his people alive Ba'al intended to detonate the human soon after. It was nothing personal. It was simply necessary to ensure his corner on the market, and to send a message to his would-be rivals. "We're using the samples we gathered from you, and Dr. Beckett's research, to produce a slightly improved gene therapy. It will be interesting to see how you react when your system begins to produce more of the ATA enzymes, among a few other things. Once we've perfected it in you we'll add your unique genetic qualities to the cocktail, and inject it into ourselves. Then we'll transfer all of your knowledge into ourselves."

The clear door of the cloning chamber slid down, trapping Rodney inside. He leaned back and waited for unconsciousness to take him away from the horrible enclosed space. It didn't come, and he opened his eyes to find Ba'al still watching him.

"Try to keep your breathing even, Dr. McKay. Unfortunately, we need you to remain conscious to ensure the cloning chamber has an opportunity to record your higher brain functions." Ba'al smiled charismatically. "This will only take a couple of hours. I'll just give you some space now. If you need anything, someone to chant 'wide open spaces' with you or just chat, don't hesitate to call, I'll be near."

"Not comforting," Rodney managed to snark between gasps.

It was difficult to imagine how this could possible get any worse. He had no hope of escape with those nano-bombs coursing through his system. He had nothing to look forward to but enduring captivity or death. As if blowing up a solar system wasn't bad enough he was now going to be responsible for creating more powerful Goa'uld. He couldn't let that happen.

For the second time in his life, Rodney found himself weighing the pro's and con's of staying alive.

Rodney scowled at his reflection in a shop window. There were boys that looked older than their age. Some lucky boys his age could probably look like they belonged in college. Rodney had no such luck. He looked too young to even pass for fourteen, his actual age. Everything those freaks that called themselves doctors had done to him had definitely stunted his growth. And it was becoming problematic.

The number of times he'd now heard the question, "Where are your parent's young man?" or "Why aren't you in school?" while he tried to rent a room or buy some food was increasing exponentially. One would think there'd be fewer nosy people in a city.

His powers were fading fast. It had only been a month since his escape and already it was becoming difficult to still their questions, or even provide himself with a simple distraction while lifting a wallet. He wasn't even so sure he could pull either off again.

Rodney's focus shifted from the shop window to the comic book display behind. Magneto, Mysterio, The Green Goblin, all were brilliance scientists, geniuses, as well as powerful. Even Xavier probably manipulated a few minds to gain all those riches. They never would have settled for anything like the situation he found himself in now. They didn't need to.

He felt the unwelcome tingle of someone's attention falling on him and turned to look across the street. It was the woman who ran the flower shop. He'd noticed her following him twice, and hanging around the hotel talking to security. He'd been able to look in her mind the first time, and learned that she was nobody to be concerned about, just a busy body. She was pointing at him and talking to two men and a woman.

He could just make out what she was saying, "He's out at all hours and I've never seen him with an adult. The people at the hotel stay he's staying their alone. Now, I'm not one to pry but it just doesn't seem right for a boy his age to be unattended."

Just great. He'd only been in this part of the city for a week and already someone had called social services, again. He turned and walked in the direction of the hotel, so that they would think he was heading back there, but ducked into an ally when a car went by.

This wasn't working anymore. He needed a plan. He ducked out of the side-streets and his eyes fell on a newsstand. More specifically, on a copy of the financial times and a picture of the New York Stock Exchange, and a plan fell in place.

It only took a month to write a computer virus that attacked the stock market, and through it the world banks. He was able to implant it when he slipped into the building with a school field trip. It added a small amount of money to every transaction and deducted as an invisible tax. The money was then bounce through several false accounts, that would create themselves and erase themselves for that single purpose, to finally in one that Rodney had made for himself. The amount of money taxed was cycled through various struggling currencies. The Venezuelan Bolivar was the equivalent of 0.00046 American dollars. One Ri'al was equivalent to 0.0001 dollars. And so on. It was perfect. Nobody but a completely anal stock market analyst with a genius IQ could have noticed it. Unfortunately, all it took was one.

He used the money to find the perfect hiding place. Where was the one place in the world where a child could spend copious amounts of money without any adult batting an eye? Disney World, Florida. By the time they'd found him, he'd even set up a secret hide-out worthy of any great comic book villain. It was under the giant model volcano in one of the water parks. All he had to do was alter the company's records of the building, to make them think it was solid rather than hollow.

That was where he was when his security camera's picked up a combined CIA and FBI swat team surrounding the base of the volcano.

"Come out with your hands up." A voice boomed from outside.

Rodney stood from where he was sitting, encircled by computers, in panic and tripped over one of his piles of university text books and half eaten pizza. He was still picking himself up off the floor when the door to his lab was kicked in and armed men in full swat armour and masks came flooding in. There was only one direction to run in, the stairs.

"Hold your fire! It's a kid!" One of the men yelled.

Rodney didn't look back, he just pelted up the stairs. He couldn't let them catch him! He ran for an exit near a fire escape, but stopped himself just as it opened to admit more armed men. He ran towards a ladder that would take him higher.

"Wait! It's alright." One of the masked men lowered his weapon, "Don't run. Look, I'm ordering everyone to lower their weapons." His voice was familiar.

The men still below and those that had entered on the upper level lowered their weapons. Rodney raised the ladder he had climbed up and turned to climb higher.

"Rodney, just come on down and we can talk," the man yelled after him.

Rodney ignored him and kept climbing up the series of platforms and ladders. There was no way he was going to let himself be taken by the government again. He wished he'd left the country.

"Did anyone bring tranquilizer rounds?" One voice asked. Rodney climbed faster.

"Nice work, idiot." Another man chastised.

There was a curse, and Rodney felt the platform he'd reached shake. He looked down and saw that one of the men had jumped up and pulled down the lowest ladder.

"I'm coming up unarmed!" The somewhat familiar voice shouted up.

He climbed fast, and was practically on Rodney's heels by the time Rodney reached the mouth of the Volcano. Rodney felt the breeze of a hand trying to grab his ankle as he climbed out onto the ledge and edged around to the far side.

When he could go no further he turned and saw that the agent had climbed out too and was holding out a hand towards Rodney.

"Ok, now this is not safe." The man stupidly stated the obvious. "There's nowhere else to run. So just, carefully, come towards me and we'll go back inside."

Rodney didn't move, except to look down over the precarious ledge. The mock volcano was an impressive height, the fall would kill. There was a slant, but likely not enough to slow his fall.

"Don't get any stupid ideas now." The man moved to inched towards Rodney.

Rodney inched further away and gripped the side as though to let himself slide down.

"Rodney, stop!" The agent yelled.

Rodney stilled.

"Look, I'm staying right here." The man took off his mask, revealing shock of messy grey-white hair and hazel eyes. Rodney recognized him as one of those who had found him when he'd destroyed Pheonix. He was the one who'd wanted to take him to a safe house.

Rodney shifted his weight to a slightly safer position on the ledge.

"Hey there," the man said carefully. He stood completely still, careful not to make any sudden movements. "You probably don't remember me. We never spoke, but I saw you a few times when I was passing through the office. You're Rodney McKay, quite an impressive junior consultant as I recall. Although, junior doesn't usually mean quite so junior. My name's Henry."

Henry's eyes darted momentarily towards his earpiece. It was an unconscious gesture, enough to tell Rodney that their conversation was being heard, and this man was receiving instructions.

"My friends down below tell me that you have some quite heavy reading down there. Advanced Astronomy, Particle Physics, and some university brochures too. You've been making some ambitious plans."

Rodney glowered, "I'm making up for lost time."

"Ha!" The man grinned, "You do speak then. Splattering yourself will sort of put a cramp in those plans, don't you think?"

"So will letting myself be taken by you," Rodney countered.

Henry's eyes darted briefly to his radio again, "I've been authorized to offer you a deal. If you come back and work for us, just odd jobs the same as you were doing before, we'll make sure that you get all the further education you want and wipe this whole stock-market thing off your record. So how about it? Come be one of the good-guys again?"

Rodney stayed where he was and glowered distrustfully, "How do I know I won't just be made a lab rat again?"

Henry gritted his teeth and spoke with forced calm, "You have my word that we will not let that happen again.

"Alright, look. The way I see it you've got a choice. You can take your chances with that drop, and I've got to say those chances don't look so good. Or you can take your chances with me. You still have a future. Don't let those people who took you take that away too. If you let yourself drop now, they win."

Rodney watched the man closely, looking for any sign that he was lying. He couldn't read minds anymore. But he could remember what he'd seen before. He seemed sincere, at least. Rodney logically weighed the pro's and con's of living, and the pro's won. There was too much he still wanted to learn.

And so it came full circle. There was still so much to discover, too many unfinished projects. But this time, the con's had it. He had to come up with a way to destroy the Goa'uld ship, and with it all the research. It was an insultingly simple task for a genius such as himself. Especially since no escape plan would be necessary.

Fortunately, there had been a cloning chamber in Area 51. And Rodney had been the one assigned to reverse engineer it.

Rodney could hardly believe he'd managed to conceal the butter knife this long. Ronon would be proud if it weren't a butter knife. It wasn't exactly a weapon, but it would do as a tool. He slipped the blunt knife out his sleeve and felt where he knew a panel in the cloning chamber should be. A little wiggling with the knife and the panel was pried open.

Rodney carefully felt out the correct conduit and jammed the knife through, the small sharp zap his hand received confirmed that correct amount of voltage was being fed back. It would gradually build up. He estimated that within eight hours the damage would be irreversible, and the unit would blow, taking a sizable chunk of the mother-ship and his clones with it. If the layout of this ship was anything like the diagrams he'd studied in Area 51, it would cause a chain reaction that would destroy the ship, and him with it. The panel slipped back into place easily, concealing his work.

He thought he should be freaking out. All his potential, all he had planned to accomplish for humanity with his brilliance, would soon go up in smoke. He was scared. Just no more than he was used to by now. But he also felt sort of peaceful. It was over. No more running. No more hiding.

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