RATING: PG-13 for Language
SEASON: Sometime during the 1st Season - before The Eye
MAJOR CHARACTERS: McKay and Sheppard
DISCLAIMERS: The characters, Atlantis, etc, all belong to MGM, Gecko, Showtime, the Sci-Fi Channel. I own nothing.
NOTE: As always, I don't know much about SG stuff... just playing here.
SUMMARY: McKay accompanies another team to a new planet, and is left behind...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: As always, Tipper is to blame
FEEDBACK: Yes , reviews are appreciated!
SPOILERS: Some for "The Rising" and "Hide and Seek"
WARM AND SAFE AND DRY
PART 1: READING
"Hey, I was looking for you."
Major John Sheppard looked up from his book to see Dr. Rodney McKay step from the doorway and out onto the balcony. "You found me," the major stated.
McKay tilted his head, reading the title of the book. "Still reading 'War and Peace', huh?"
"Yup," Sheppard replied.
"Tolstoy is better in the original Russian, you know," McKay commented offhand. "I picked up the language during my tenure in that country, of course. It's really quite a beautiful tongue once you get used to it. Not that I let on to anyone that I'd learned it." He chuckled dryly at a memory. "One discovers a lot when others don't think you can understand them."
McKay's smile dipped a bit, as he changed the subject. "If I'd known you were so interested in the book, I might've brought my Russian copy along to Atlantis," he commented. "Well, of course, how would I've known that you were reading it since I didn't even know you before we came here? So, that would be a problem. Plus, you know, one only had so much space for personal belongings and my allotment was already full up. It's a big book. I doubt that I would've sacrificed any of my space for someone I didn't even know. Might not have given up space even if I had known you." He made a soft 'heh' and continued, "You must really enjoy that book. What is this, the third time you've read it?"
"First," Sheppard answered brusquely.
The tilt of McKay's head increased as he scrutinized the book. "But you're hardly into the first hundred pages and yet you've been reading it for months now." He screwed up his face in mock confusion. "Slow reader?"
"It's taking me a while to get through it, okay?" Sheppard snapped. "That was the whole point of bringing it! Why were you looking for me anyway?"
"Oh! Oh, yeah. Capt. Ozette is taking his team back to PX1-H0H. They did an initial check yesterday and spotted some interesting ruins. I figured I'd tag along." Rodney snapped his fingers, and popped an open palm against a fist. "Check out the site. See if there's anything interesting. They could use the help. Thought maybe you'd like to come, too."
"Ruins," Sheppard muttered. "I think I've seen plenty of those already."
"But it might be interesting. Who knows what we'll find there?"
"It's our day off," Sheppard said tiredly as he leaned back in the chair and settled one foot on the railing.
McKay curled a lip. "Well, yes," he responded. "But I have nothing going on in the lab, and since we're back on the time-clock tomorrow, I can't really start anything new, can I?" He spread his hands as if this was clear to anyone. "And I know how cranky you get when I'm in the middle of an experiment and you come by to tell me we have to go to some godforsaken planet. So there's no point in beginning anything."
Sheppard lifted his chin. "Cranky… yeah, I'm the one who gets cranky. And what makes this planet any less godforsaken than most?"
McKay did that hand movement, two snaps and a pop, grinning. "The ruins… the possibilities. Come on, it'll be fun."
"It's our day off," Sheppard restated. He snapped the book shut. "In fact, I've just decided… I'm taking out a puddlejumper."
"Puddlejumper?" McKay repeated. "Going to just fly around for a bit?"
"Yeah," John said, nodding his head decisively. "Just a calm, relaxing little trip around the planet. Get off this balcony for a while. I'm getting tired of just sitting here. Maybe I'll check out that lake I saw last time. Looks like it'd be good for swimming. Nice day for it."
Rodney hesitated, and then asked, "You wouldn't need a co-pilot, would you? I like swimming. I got swim-trunks."
"I think I can handle it," John responded.
"Because, maybe I could use some more flight time," McKay continued. "Might be more productive to me than …"
"You've already committed yourself," Sheppard said with a grin. "See what happens when you schedule yourself for work every day? No time for play. All work and no play make Rodney a very dull boy."
"Fine," McKay responded abruptly. "If I find any goodies, I'll keep them to myself."
"Do that," Sheppard responded, as he stood. "I'm off to find Teyla and Ford."
"Enjoy," McKay stated as he shook his head, then turned on the balcony before disappearing through the door -- off to join Alain Ozette and his team.
For a moment, Sheppard paused, watching the empty doorway, wondering if it was too late to follow along. There might be something interesting on that planet – and McKay would return with a shit-eating grin if he discovered anything. Then the taunting would begin.
But McKay was already gone, and Sheppard was never one for trotting off after someone else. And a flight in the puddlejumper would be a hell of a lot more fun than another trip to another planet to investigate yet another set of ruins. It had to be better than just sitting around Atlantis with nothing to do.
With a quick step, Sheppard left the balcony in search of Teyla and Ford – to go take a turn around the planet that he'd seen a dozen times already.
PART 2: EXPLORING
McKay moved deeper into the ruins, shining a flashlight along the wall, looking for further inscriptions. A series of symbols near the entrance had left him perplexed. His companion at the time, Dr. Ginger Sappho, had felt that they were of extreme importance and had proudly pointed them out to him.
"It's utter nonsense," he'd muttered to Sappho. "Look at this! It seems to be saying, 'Fear Total Will be Walking Interior.' Ridiculous."
"I thought it might be important," Sappho stated, sounding a bit perturbed. "I translated it to say, 'Beware all who enter'."
"Well, yes, if you read all the symbols totally wrong," McKay responded. "This is definitely the noun 'fear', not the verb 'beware' -- entirely different symbols. They've used the future tense of 'to walk' – not the infinitive of 'enter', and 'total' is from the wrong dialect. 'Interior' is written using a symbol that's far more modern than the rest." McKay stepped back, looking totally annoyed. "It's all hogwash."
"But…" Sappho tried, "They might have meant to say 'beware all who enter'…"
McKay had snorted and responded, "Then it would have said that, wouldn't it? This is just utter gibberish, hooey, twaddle! It's as if someone used the internet to translate a sentence, not even bothering to cross-translate it back to English to see the result. Only an utter moron would try to find meaning in this lunacy."
Dr. Ginger Sappho didn't seem to care much for that comment. She'd shouldered her pack and scowled. Of course, McKay hadn't started off on the right foot with her, laughing when he was introduced. "Ah yes, Dr. Sappho. We finally meet. I've always wanted to ask you, did you marry into the name 'Sappho'? Can't imagine I'd keep that one if I had an option. I'd probably have that changed. And 'Ginger', were you named after Ginger on Gilligan's Island? Always preferred her to Mary Ann. Wow… you know, who wouldn't? I mean…wow! Ginger Grant! Can't see how anyone would go for just milk and cookies when they could have caviar and cream. Of course, Mary Ann did bake a great coconut cream pie..."
He'd thought he'd been funny, but apparently Dr. Sappho didn't share his sense of humor. She'd been rather cold to him since that time – and had left him to the symbols after only a short perusal, heading back to the Gate with Corporal Alava to accompany her. He'd been alone ever since.
Finding nothing that made sense near the opening of the ruins, he moved further in. He shone a light along rows of pretty but pointless symbols. Some of the symbols seemed to be 'right' -- from he correct time period, a logical syntax -- but the rest of it was just 'wrong'. "It's as if someone came by later," McKay said out loud, "And added their own graffiti."
"It makes no sense," he muttered as he stepped around the portico, pulling his jacket close in the damp cool of the day. PX1-H0H certainly was a … drippy world.
He leaned one shoulder against a wall and contemplated the situation. There were some drawings – rather gruesome in nature, but it was almost as if they'd been drawn by children. "What is this all about?" he asked no one. "Is this a clubhouse?" He looked about, wondering if he'd find a "Girls are Stinky" or a "No Nerds Allowed" sign, too.
He sighed at that thought, feeling a twinge of melancholy. Right now, he could be on the sunny surface of the Atlantis mainland. He remembered the lake that Sheppard mentioned – recalled seeing it from the puddle jumper.
"Looks like a great place to hang out," Lt. Ford had said.
"Gonna build a cabin there someday," Sheppard had added.
"Should bring swimming suits next time," he'd suggested, getting thoughtful nods from both Sheppard and Ford.
Teyla had been confused by this term, asking why anyone would want to swim in a suit, and Ford had explained the particulars of swimwear, thinking he'd made things clear, but Teyla only frowned and responded with, "But why do you wear any clothing to swim? My people do not. I find it very freeing."
And that got the rest of them all thinking, and a swimming expedition had been in the backs of their minds since then. McKay grimaced, thinking that they'd gone without him. Once again, left out of the loop. It wouldn't be so bad, he thought, if the ruins weren't so frustrating, if the planet wasn't so damp, of Dr. Sappho wasn't so… humorless. You'd think, with a name like that…
He would've liked to have gone with them, even though Teyla had learned a thing or two about the modesty of Earthmen. It would have been … nice… to just sit at the shore of that pretty lake, and spend some time with his team.
"Well, you chose this particular expedition," McKay said out loud. "And you'd best stick with it. Complete the survey and report back." He glanced to the doorway, wondering why Corporal Alava hadn't returned, or why Corporal Fairholm hadn't returned in his stead. No bother.
Returning to his examination, McKay scanned the odd shaped room. It was all corners and alcoves. It might have been set up with chairs and benches at one point, but nothing remained of the furnishings. His brow furrowed as he noticed something strange about the nook before him. He moved closer to it and then smiled, pushing aside the vines that draped it.
His grin increased as a dim hallway was revealed. "Now, we getting somewhere," he muttered as he shown his light down the dim passageway. Something interesting HAD to be at the end of that corridor.
"Listen," he announced into his radio. "Capt. Ozette, Dr. Sappho, I think I've found something. You'll want to see this."
Ozette came on the radio, his voice tired, "What is it?" he asked. "More of those damn symbols?"
"I found a corridor! Send Dr. Sappho and Corporal Alava. We really must explore this area thoroughly and…"
McKay was cut off by Ozette's shout. "Wraith!"
And something buzzed in the sky.
At the entrance to the hallway, McKay froze, listening … waiting. He heard Ozette's team shouting to one another over the radio. "Alava, get back! Fairholm, get Dr. Sappho! Get to the gate! Get to the gate!" Over the radio, they shouted and McKay spun about, leaving the corridor behind.
Get to the gate! Outside, a Wraith dart screamed. The physicist huddled near the doorway, gazing up. Through the canopy of trees, he spotted the careening ship. It coursed through the leaden sky, bobbing and dodging, and then it disappeared again behind the trees. The sound of its flight remained.
Grabbing his pack, McKay ran. He ducked through the cool, moss-draped forest, rushed back to join the others. "Damn it, damn it, damn it!" he muttered as he tore into the dim woods. Everything was an intense shade of green, so verdant that it hardly seemed real. He ran, stooping and dodging his way through the dense, verdant wood. The ground beneath him was spongy with moss, or slick with mud. His dash became a balancing act.
Big blobs of water came down on him, rainwater collected by the foliage. Huge, primeval-looking leaves batted at him. He worked at un-holstering his Beretta as he ran, managing the task, but bobbling the weapon, hardly keeping it in his hand. Fat lot of good it'd do against a Wraith dart but it might slow down a Wraith on foot.
He had to get back to the others – he wasn't going to be the reason that the team stayed, waiting for him, in plain sight.
The dart continued to screech, accompanied by the report of P-90's. McKay listened, hoping that the latest blast of gunfire would accompany the scream of a plummeting dart – but there was no such luck. He paused as it flashed above him -- held his breath as it went past.
And he was running again -- running through the damp forest, not even trying to find the path that would bring him back to the Gate. Over the radio, Alava and Fairholm cursed in frustration as their attempts to bring down the ship were met with only failure. Ozette kept giving orders to his team, sounding tense and desperate.
"I'm coming," McKay shouted into his mouthpiece even as a wet branch smacked hard against his face. Stunned, he managed to keep his pace, wiping at the moisture with one sleeve. It took him a moment to realize that the communications had gone silent. His heart, already galloping, seemed to quicken to an all-out dash. Did the Wraith get them? Did that ship get all of them? NO! Not because they were waiting for me! NO!
Not slowing, slipping from time to time on the unfriendly ground, he reached for his earpiece, and a moment of relief hit him as he found it was gone – torn off by the branch, no doubt. No wonder he couldn't hear them anymore! Relieved that this was all that caused the disruption, he kept running.
He ducked beneath a branch, heavily-laden with a curtain of moss, and slowed to step over a toppled trunk. He slipped, one leg on either side of the nurse-log, and let himself flop onto his back to drag his other leg over. He rolled, gained his feet again, and crashed onward through the knee-deep ferns.
Why… why were the ruins so far from the gate? Why had he stayed when he should have gone back with Dr. Sappho? Why wasn't he in better shape? Why didn't he spend more time in the gym and less in the mess? His lungs burned as he ran. He shoved aside wet branches, stumbling, sliding, getting to his feet again, moving through the mud, moss and the muck. Feeling the sweat streaming down his face, mixing with the moister that permeated this place, McKay kept moving as the dart continued to scream above him. Get to the Gate! You have to get to the Gate!
Something grabbed him by the shoulder, jerking him and almost spinning him into a tree. Letting out a shout of fear and frustration, McKay fell to his knees as he lost his balance. He fought blindly, trying to free his arm, to find it was caught in the strap to his pack. No! No! Ahhhh! Leggo! He fought, bringing about the gun and turning to face his attacker.
He blinked, trying to figure out what had just happened – there was no one there… no Wraith. His pack… his pack… had been caught up in the branches.
With a jerk, he freed his arm, shoved himself up, and stumbled onward. He ran five steps when he paused and turned back. The pack hung, mostly hidden, probably well-snared. He contemplated retrieving it, before he discarded that idea, knowing that there was no time.
PART 3: RETURNING
"Bring down the shield!" Ozette shouted as he stormed into the GateRoom with Alava, Sappho and Fairholm. He spun about, anxious, awaiting a stunner blast to catch him, but the iris closed and his team was safely back in Atlantis.
"Son of a bitch," Alava shouted, still clutching his P-90 as if he still expected a Wraith to slip through.
Dr. Sappho was leaning forward on her knees, trying to catch her breath and to calm her skipping heart. Fairholm looked about nervously, staring back toward the Gate.
"Report!" Weir demanded as she took the stairs in quick strides.
"Wraith," Ozette breathed out. "Don't know where it came from. We were waiting at the Gate when it came. The dart came out of nowhere."
"There's probably more of them," Alava informed. "We're lucky we got out when we did. Probably a whole Hive Ship in orbit."
Dr. Sappho lifted her head, looking like she wanted to puke. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself, shuddering. "I've never…" she started. "I've never been so scared…"
"We barely made it through the Gate," Ozette commented. "Couldn't hit the damn thing."
"Must have some sort of defense system," Alava declared. "Deflected everything we threw at it."
Weir's brow knitted at this news. "Do you think they've adapted to our technology?"
"Seems so," Ozette responded. "Couldn't bring it down… couldn't bring it down."
Weir blinked, suddenly remembering something. "Where's Rodney?"
Fairholm, still staring at the Gate, stated, "We left him."
Alava quickly defended, "We had no choice! He was back at the ruins. We couldn't just wait for him to get back. It would have taken a good fifteen – twenty minutes to…"
"He was instructed to stay at the ruins," Ozette answered professionally. "He'll be safer if he stays there. I told him to stay put!"
"And he agreed?" Weir pressed.
Ozette hesitated a moment. "Yes, he confirmed that he'd remain until we could go back for him." He nodded. "I ordered him to stay put and stay off the radio! It was the only way to ensure his safety."
"He agreed," Alava added. "I heard him. He said he'd stay in the ruins."
Sappho looked up, and brushing the hair away from her face as she turned to Fairholm, who looked annoyed.
"What makes you think that the ruins were safe?" Grodin asked, joining them. His face was taut with worry.
"I did what was best to save my team… the rest of my team," Ozette quickly amended. "He was too far away and we couldn't bring down that ship!"
"You just left him?" Grodin continued, appalled. "Hiding in a stone structure won't save him. They'll find him! How could you just…"
"Peter," Weir spoke softly, stalling the scientist. "We'll get him back."
"We need more firepower," Ozette demanded, hefting his P-90. "My team could do nothing against it, and I wasn't about to sacrifice them. It took everything we threw at it and it didn't even slow down."
Weir nodded sharply and turned to the stairs. She'd put together an attack-force, decide out how to destroy these new
darts. The thought of a new, enhanced dart terrified her. But, they'd figure it out – find a way to disable it.
She promised herself, they'd do everything possible to bring Rodney
TBC - okay, so... they left him. That wasn't so nice. I'm sure things will improve, right?