Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story was created for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of Kolyaaa.
A/N: L.E. Posted this challenge to the SGAHC yahoo group – "While offworld Rodney is turned into a child...aged about 4-8. Old enough to talk and walk. He instantly latches onto John, and Teyla but only because she has chocolate she uses to calm him down. Once back on Atlantis they discover that Rodney has the power to manifest whatever he wants (If he wants his favourite teddy bear it appears.) He then during a nightmare manifests a Wraith, he doesn't know how to get rid of it and anytime they try to shoot the Wraith Rodney is hurt." It didn't say anything about his mind being at a four year old level, however...
A/N: This story takes place sometime after "Lost Boys"
Chapter One: A Scowl Like a Thundercloud
"Gah! Get it off me! Get it off me!"
Dr. Rodney McKay hopped across the cobblestone path, shaking his leg in a frantic attempt to dislodge the object clinging to his shin.
There was a momentary lull as all eyes in the village square turned to watch the spectacle. McKay flailed his arms at his teammates, awaiting rescue. All he got in response were unsympathetic smirks from Sheppard and Beckett, a pained diplomatic smile from Teyla and an unblinking stare from Dex, before the latter returned to demolishing the buffet table the villagers had set up to welcome the team and the chief medical doctor.
McKay glowered, gauging the distance to the food and weighing it against the effort he'd have to expend to get there. Grunting, he dragged and hitched himself closer to the skewered roasts and heaps of glazed pastry, trying to ignore the squeals of glee coming from somewhere in the vicinity of his knee.
He fetched up against the table and lunged for a pastry, only to have the plate snatched away by Dex, who crammed two of the last three desserts into his gaping maw. McKay opened his mouth to howl a protest, then froze in slack-jawed shock as the shaggy warrior crouched down to offer the final pastry to the toddler who had attached herself to McKay's leg ten minutes after they arrived on the planet and hadn't relaxed her grip since.
"Bweee!" she shrieked, holding out a pudgy fist toward the treat. McKay made an abortive attempt to shake her off while she was distracted, but stopped when Dex growled. The little one stuffed her face, belched, then wiped her sticky hands on McKay's leg. Dex beamed at the creature.
McKay recoiled. "Oh, ugh. Would you look at-Colonel!" He whirled and stomped away, trying to ignore the high-pitched giggles every time he stomped his left foot.
"Off, off, off," he chanted, hopping impatiently up to Sheppard. "Come on, this thing isn't going to detach itself. We're going to need a pry-bar and a block and tackle of some sort. Or maybe one of those packets of salt from the emergency kits."
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Rodney," he drawled. "It's a child, not a slug."
"Easy for you to say. It's not leaving a trail of slime on your trousers." McKay glared down at the melon-headed moppet drooling on his knee. The child smiled sweetly up at him, big brown eyes shining with adoration.
"I wuv oo," it said.
Sheppard caught the expression on McKay's face and took a cautious step back from the scientist.
"I think that's our cue to leave," he said, turning his best smile on the village elders. "Er, which way did you say it was to the Ancestors' Hall of Healing?"
The hike up a twisting mountain path gave McKay plenty of time to vent his feelings about children, child-rearing, the vanishing concept of personal space and the impossibility of finding decent dry cleaners in the Pegasus Galaxy. He'd just gone off on a tangent about homemade stain removers when the team rounded a bend and got their first good look at the ruined Ancient outpost.
"Oh my," McKay breathed out, rant forgotten.
The outpost - a cutting-edge medical research facility, according to the Ancient database back on Atlantis - had once been a sprawling complex of high white walls and soaring spires. The woods had grown up and around, swallowing most of the grounds, but the trees and the vines couldn't completely cover the scorch marks and blast scars that marred the rubble.
Ten thousand years of neglect hadn't destroyed this outpost. The Wraith had.
Sheppard took point, weapon at the ready, as the group moved cautiously toward the main building. The front courtyard was dotted with twisted heaps of wreckage, barely recognizable as Wraith darts. On the outskirts of the compound, he could make out the high towers that had once manned anti-aircraft guns, not unlike the ones Caldwell had installed on Atlantis.
The scientists had put up one hell of a fight before the end.
He paused at the arched front entrance, trying to ignore the way McKay and Beckett were crowding behind him, peering impatiently over his shoulders. Before the Ancients fled Atlantis, they'd stripped the city of every piece of medical equipment that wasn't bolted down. Before them sat a building once packed with miraculous medical devices. The scientists, Beckett in particular, were beside themselves, almost dancing with impatience to get in there and poke around.
He took a step inside, recognizing the familiar stained glass and brass accents of Ancient architecture peeking through the vines and drifted leaves. He was half expecting the lights to come on and the outpost to hum to life the way Atlantis had, but there was nothing. Just shadows, moss and mold.
McKay and Beckett elbowed past him and headed deeper into the room, talking excitedly at each other and over each other. Teyla and Dex followed at a more sedate pace, alert for danger.
Still talking, the doctors stopped short at a sealed inner door and McKay set to work, ripping off the control panel and fiddling inside, trying to jimmy the lock. Sheppard moved to follow and almost tripped over a shapeless lump on the floor. He toed the mossy obstruction, sidestepping quickly when part of it rolled free; revealing bleached white bone and a jagged row of razor-sharp teeth.
"Got it!" McKay whooped from the other side of the room as the inner door hissed open.
Sheppard nodded, still frowning down at the grinning Wraith skull at his feet.
"It's still here," Carson Beckett whispered, staring wide-eyed around at the rows of hospital beds, surrounded by banks of diagnostic equipment. Beckett darted from one piece of medical equipment to another, brushing at the thick dust that carpeted everything, his eyes shining like a kid on Christmas Day. "Damned if I know what any of it's supposed to do, but most of it looks intact. Look, Rodney, does this look like a portable-"
Sheppard tuned out the technobabble and ambled over to join Dex, who was peering down at a mummified corpse tucked into one of the hospital beds.
Dex flipped back a blanket that crumbled to dust at his touch. "Look," he said, nodding to the gaping wound on the patient's chest.
Sheppard swallowed hard, wondering if the Wraith had fed on the victim before he was brought into the medical bay, or after. He had uncomfortable visions of Wraith drones feeding on the helpless patients as they fought their way across the long hall. He looked around, noting other blanket-shrouded patients, and fallen bodies, Wraith and Ancient, on the floor.
"Why didn't the Wraith destroy this place afterward?" he wondered aloud.
"Could be they fought to a draw," Dex said. "Doesn't happen often, but I've heard of it."
Teyla nodded thoughtfully. "The Wraith would have dispatched a destroyer, had any of their warriors returned. And surely the Ancestors would have remained to tend the dead, had they been able."
Excited babble broke out on the other side of the room, drawing everyone's attention to McKay and Beckett and a peculiar alien device that arched across two beds, with a control panel in between.
A control panel that had just flared to life under Beckett's hands.
"What did you do?" McKay demanded, delighted and alarmed all at once.
"Nothing! I didn't do anything!" Beckett snapped back, his accent thickening with alarm as more and more multi-colored switches and toggles flickered on a control panel he couldn't even begin to decipher.
McKay was watching avidly. "This room must have some sort of auxiliary power source."
"Aye," Beckett agreed, distracted by the humming noise now coming off the device. "Any good hospital keeps a back-up generator on hand for emergencies."
McKay elbowed the doctor aside and peered down at the control panel, keeping one eye on the readings scrolling across his hand-held data device.
Beckett backed away until his hip hit the bed behind him. He grimaced down at the corpse. Its cobwebby hair spread across the remains of a pillow and its brittle finger bones curled across the hand-shaped wound on its tunic front. Mouth twisted in distress, he turned to study the figure on the other bed. Oddly, this one was in restraints, its wrists, torso and legs strapped down tight, its head-
"Oh Lord," Beckett breathed, staring at the faceplate of a long-dead Wraith drone, strapped into an Ancient diagnostic bed. "Rodney? What do you make of this?"
Before McKay could reply, the machine's humming escalated in pitch and every light on the control panel blinked green. The team froze as beams of coruscating light shot out of the device above each bed and began scanning the occupants. First the Ancient, then the Wraith.
"This is bad," McKay said, staring wide-eyed as the machine gave off an unhappy-sounding bleat at the end of its scan. There was a moment's pause and the beam above the Ancient's bed widened, then honed in on McKay, scanning him from scalp to toe as he repeated the litany: "Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad!"
"How do we turn it off?" Sheppard snapped, taking aim at the device, but afraid to shoot while it still had McKay pinned. He circled around, trying to get closer.
"I don't know!" Beckett slapped frantically at the control panel. "Turn off, you bloody toaster!" Teyla dashed in and caught his arm, trying to draw him away. He shrugged her off, refusing to leave Rodney.
The second beam flared, abandoning the Wraith corpse and honing in on Teyla. Beckett swore and tackled her, trying to knock her to safety, but the beam caught them both.
Dex let out a roar and leveled his blast pistol at the device as the light flared brighter and brighter.
"Don't!" Sheppard started to call out, but Dex was already squeezing the trigger. The machine blew apart in a shower of sparks. McKay, Teyla and Beckett's screams were lost as the device let out a piercing feedback shriek and pulsed one last time, whiting out everything in the room.
The next thing Sheppard knew, he was on his hands and knees, groping across the floor, yelling for his team. His eyes watered and swam with afterimages of the explosion.
"Rodney?" he called, coughing as smoke poured out of the shattered control panel. He could hear Dex blundering around nearby, getting to his feet and staggering around, calling for Teyla and Beckett.
"C'mon, McKay," he tried again. "Talk to me."
His fingertips brushed across familiar SGA uniform fabric and his hand closed over an empty sleeve. When had McKay taken off his jacket? He tugged it closer, frowning at the odd weight of the thing-too heavy to be an empty jacket, far too light to be McKay.
He reached for the bundle and recoiled as it whimpered softly. The hell? He poked the fabric-wrapped lump. It squeaked and flinched away from him. Thoroughly alarmed now, he peered down the neckhole of the jacket and found himself nose-to-nose with a very small boy. A very small boy with brown hair, blue eyes and a scowl like a thundercloud.
A/N: This story is a fine story, if I would say so myself