Summary: Oneshot : Sheppard and Ford find themselves on the menu of arguing trolls.
Placement: Post The Eye, somewhere after they start looking for Alpha Sites.
Spoilers: Negligible for the early half of Season 1.
Disclaimer: All-things-SGA-canon are owned by those lucky people and, the Tolkien estate owns the particular Trolls (from The Hobbit) that inspired mine, but I own the story.
Terrible Troll Trauma
Major Sheppard slowly came to his senses and felt that he was lying on the ground in a fetal position with something wrapped around him. The top of his head pounded and he swore a small lump was developing. When his eyes opened he saw a beige colored cloth in front of his face. He sat up carefully, his knees up to his chest and cramped in the small space.
He pushed out at the sides of the burlap-esque cloth, low light being filtered in, and the top being tied from the outside. The P90 was definitely gone, along with his 9mm. But, he remarkably still had his radio around his ear and activated it, his elbow scraping the sides of the material, he whispered, "Ford, come in."
No answer came so he spoke a little louder, "Ford."
His voice came through mumbled, sounding as if John had woken him up, "Umm... yes… what the- sir?"
"What's your location?"
This time his voice was louder and John also barely heard it close behind him, "I'm in a… sack…no idea where and am lying on my side."
"You're at my six; I managed to sit up in my…sack. Stripped of your weapons?"
Aiden looked down and checked where his leg holster should have been, "Yes, sir." He reached down to his boot, having to sit up to do it, but lost his balance and fell to his left, knocking into something.
"Oomph, Ford!" John was now back on his side with a Lieutenant pinning him down.
"Sorry, sir." Aiden struggled to get up, pushing and pulling until he did. John did the same. They were now sitting side by side, facing opposite ways. Aiden finally checked his boot, and pulled out his combat knife. "They took my hat but I still have my knife, sir."
John also checked his boot, "Same here. Let's take a peak."
They both cut small slits in the front of their burlap sacks and John related what he saw, "Looks like a large fire, and there's a black…cauldron in the middle."
Aiden took his turn, "A tree line about ten meters away, the sun seems to be long down, sir."
"Move out, while we can."
"No complaints from me, sir." They extended the cuts along the sides of the bags.
- xxx xxx -
Major Sheppard brought up the rear of the team as they headed back to the Gate, keeping an eye out for anything suspicious - Wraith… large bugs… webs…Wraith… a random Genii soldier… more Wraith…
Lt. Ford was leading point with Teyla beside him, both eager to get off that specific planet. It had been a long day walking through dense woods in search of any signs of life or inhospitable conditions. The Wraith were coming and they needed somewhere safe to fall back to.
One of Bates' security team had performed the initial assessment and found the terrain a little rough, but manageable, and the best thing of all – uninhabited. The open areas were flown over with a Jumper, but the dense forest required a team on foot. Sheppard and his team had been the lucky ones selected to sweep the forest.
"We are not seriously considering staying here are we?" Rodney McKay snipped beside John as he swatted at the swarm of small gnat-like insects they were walking through.
"There is nothing wrong with making camp here for awhile." He responded as he stepped over a fallen log and looked up at the rays of this system's sun filtering through the high branches.
Rodney waved his hand in front of his face, brushing away a dozen or so of the creatures, "You mean besides the bugs that want to eat us alive?"
"Don't talk to me about killer bugs."
"Oh, right. But still, how would we get any work done? These things are everywhere."
"They're not, McKay. But they do seem to like you." Ford grinned as he looked back, the swarm centralizing only on Rodney. The others were mostly unaffected.
Teyla turned back to see the scientist stopped and frantically waving his hands about. She smiled and began to laugh quietly, "Perhaps it's something you're wearing. Cologne?"
"Oh please, I don't wear that crap." He began walking again as Sheppard pulled him, "Hey! I can walk. If anyone should be getting attacked it's you, Aqua Velva man!"
Teyla gracefully stepped over another log, keeping an eye on the surrounding area. They were taking a different route back, wanting to cover as much ground as they could.
Ford had fallen a few steps back watching the scene behind them unfold and quickly caught up to Teyla as he commented to Rodney, "Could be just your blood or scent. My grandma always attracted more mosquitoes than any of us kids."
Rodney opened his mouth to retort but stopped as his 'life-signs detector' started beeping.
John whispered, "McKay…"
"I'm checking." He pulled the detector out of his vest pocket and looked at it anxiously, "Two coming from that way." He pointed to the group's right.
"Shh!" Major Sheppard snipped at Rodney who was talking much too loudly for the situation. He signed to Ford and Teyla to keep going as he tugged McKay by his sleeve, and stepped over the log.
"They're getting close…" Rodney overcompensated and his voice was barely an audible whisper.
They didn't know what was coming as they heard twigs snapping and leaves crunching. It could be Wraith, natives, Wraith…, Genii, or the Pegasus Galaxy's version of bears for all they knew, so the team sequestered themselves behind a large mossy boulder.
They crouched low behind it, so the front faced the way the two bio-signs were coming from. John was on the far right side next to Rodney, then Teyla, and Ford on the other end. It became apparent it wasn't Wraith, Genii, or natives when grunts could be heard. Non-humanlike grunts, and they never heard a Wraith grunt before.
Rodney swatted at the insects still buzzing around his head, and the team stayed quiet as the creatures began to come into view, something large. Voices also accompanied the sight – harsh, rough voices, but voices nonetheless.
"Aw, I'm so hungry. Can't we go somewhere new?"
"No! We stay here." A different voice responded.
The corners of John's lips turned up. This seemed a little too much like the banter he had with a certain Chief Scientist. Not as elegant, but still. He was about to prepare the team to meet the locals when they fully saw them and heard more of the conversation.
"But we haven't had a bit of man-flesh for… I don't know how long." The first voice whined.
"If yer didn't chase 'em all away, we would be eatin' 'til we burst ev'ry night!"
"We still do, just on kava and tornes."
From their hiding place the team could see two creatures with great heavy faces, large round noses, long thick limbs and torsos, and were great in stature, easily approaching seven feet tall. They were clothed in tight leggings and ill-fitting tunics pulled in place by black belts. The color was a kind of gray-blue and eerily matched their skin color so that they blended into them and became a part of their figure.
Teyla cocked her head, and kept her P90 at the ready. Sheppard and Ford also aimed their weapons in the direction of the locals, not wanting to be caught in a hand-to-hand with the things.
The bossier creature sniffed the air in their direction though the wind was just a faint breeze, wrinkling up its nose, but stopped and walked heavily by the team's hiding place with the other creature, their bickering voices fading off into the distance.
Looks passed between the team, McKay disgusted, Ford intrigued yet apprehensive, Sheppard just as concerned by the large beings, and Teyla had a rare look of confusion, never seeing such creatures before.
"Not a good place for a summer home." John remarked as the group stood.
Rodney snipped, "That's what I've been saying!"
John looked up to the sky, barely visible through the tree canopy, "Let's get back before the sun sets and they come back. Teyla take point, McKay stay right behind her. Ford, you're with me."
Teyla nodded and started heading off towards the Stargate, the team following in the designated order.
"There is such a thing as bug repellent."
Rodney replied without turning his head, "You must magically have a Pegasus version, Lieutenant, because Earth certified repellent would most likely not work here." He scratched his neck, "I think they're biting me!"
John grinned, "You'll be fine, just a few little bites."
"There is no way you can know that, insects carry diseases, Major."
"That swarm does not. You'll be fine, Dr. McKay." Teyla placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder for the briefest of seconds as she navigated the way through the forest.
"Really?" He waved his hand around his head, the bugs thinning out.
"Yes. Many species of animals and insects are found on multiple planets. I have not known those to harm anyone."
"We should still develop some repellant." Rodney ducked a branch.
"I have some back in Atlantis."
"What? Why didn't you bring it? Share the wealth!"
"I didn't know insects liked you so much." She ended with a discreet smile.
Rodney scowled and kept his eyes focused on the LSD as they inched toward the location of the Gate, their way obstructed by trees.
The pesky bugs finally moved from Rodney to other pastures, much to his relief, and the rest of the team.
Teyla called back, "The clearing is up ahead."
"Uh…they're back!" Rodney hissed, seeing two dots coming up from behind them on the screen.
"Move it, it's not far. It's pretty safe to say they know we're here."
They picked up pace as they could hear subtle sounds of twigs snapping behind them. As soon as they reached the clearing the Gate was in, Teyla ran over to the DHD with Rodney and began dialing, Rodney ready to send his IDC. The clearing was just large enough to fit the Gate and the DHD, the trees forming a canopy over the Gate.
"Are you coming?" Rodney barked back to Sheppard and Ford.
"Just get through the Gate; we'll be right behind you." Sheppard yelled as he and Ford walked backwards, their P90s trained on the tree line.
Rodney scoffed hiding his worry as the Gate activated and punched in his code.
The vegetation started moving and they fired off warning shots low to the ground. They waited a few seconds and there was no other movement.
"Major, Lieutenant!" Teyla and Rodney stood perched just in front of the event horizon.
"Go!" John turned to Aiden as he started to the Gate, "Let's get out of here."
Satisfied the Air Force men were coming, Teyla and Rodney stepped through the wormhole.
Sheppard and Ford ascended the steps, their eyes scanning the too-close trees when to both sides of them, masses of muscle came barreling out, holding clubs in their fists.
They got off shots as they dove for the event horizon, but found themselves snatched out of the air and thumped on the head.
- xxx xxx -
John limped out of his bag, his leg getting tangled in the cloth.
"Need some help, sir?" Aiden asked light heartedly as looked around, already freed from his sack prison and ready to leave.
"No, I'm fine." He denied as he shook the sack off his foot. "Any idea which way to the Gate?"
"Afraid not, sir. They could have dragged us anywhere, if we're still on M7P-346." Ford felt the top of his head, trying to distinguish if the pounding was leading to a bump or not.
"For all extensive purposes, we are. The head… creature seemed determined to stay. We should get out of the area, Teyla and McKay made it so we should have company soon."
"Our equipment should be around here somewhere, sir. It doesn't disappear."
"Make it a quick search. Take that side." He motioned to the right side of the fire as he walked to the left.
They hunted for their vests and P90s as they made their way to the other side of the fire and met at a pile of rummage.
"Our captors' belongings." John crouched and lifted things off the top of the pile, Aiden kept an attentive watch. "Nothing here, not even to help to us. We'll go… that way." He jerked his head in the chosen blind direction.
Aiden kept his grip on his knife and silently headed to the trees, John beside him doing the same.
John and Aiden froze for a nanosecond and took off, knowing that the two of them armed with only knives against two ginormous things was no contest. They dodged through the trees at a much slower pace than they would have liked due to the density of foliage.
The pounding of their steps radiated through their legs, the noise almost echoing around them.
"We'll teach 'ou." A firm hand clamped down on the wrist John held his knife in, another snatched it from his hand and threw it to the ground.
Aiden was in the same predicament with a creature of his own, it twisting his arm, forcing him to his knees in silent pain as his knife fell to the ground.
The one holding John spoke to his cohort, "Burt! Get 'em back to the pot." In one swoop, he swung John over his shoulder in a fireman's carry, the force of the thing's shoulder against his gut knocking the breath out him.
Burt followed suit with Aiden, also rendering him breathless, and not in a good way, which would have been extremely disturbing.
"Lout! I told you to watch 'em!" Bill bellowed.
"Who you calling a lout, ya booby!"
The darkness prevented Major Shepard and Lt. Ford to see each other, but if they could, they would have seen the sickened face on their teammate. Not only were the creatures strong, they smelled, and the men's faces were right next to the dirty clothes of their captors.
They also realized that though it had taken them ten minutes to get where they were in the woods, it seemed like only one to get back,
Bill yelled as they moved back to the clearing, "I'm not the one who let 'em git away!"
"The fire was dyin' down, we needed wood." Burt defended.
"You shoulda waited 'til I was back fetching the water."
"You were takin' too blimey long."
"The stream takes a couple hundred strides to get to."
The forest brightened, signifying the close proximity of the fire, and they entered the clearing.
"Put that down and git the rope."
Burt faced Bill, "Why would I do that?"
"So we can tie 'em up!"
"Oh." Burt dropped Ford, who had taken offense at being called 'that,' to the ground and went off to the other side of the large cauldron on the fire.
Bill pressed his boot down on Ford's back, "Don't be tryin' to run off again."
Ford thought it best not to answer, Sheppard on the other hand…
"Hey, excuse me, Bill?" John lightly poked the creature's back, "What's the point of holding us captive?"
"Food shouldn't be chatty."
"Food? Us?" Aiden glanced up and caught John's upside eyes glancing down at him.
Bill applied more pressure to the Lieutenant's back and gripped tighter where he held on to the Major's leg, "What'd you think you were? Banquet guests?"
"Can we talk about this?"
John's question went unanswered as Burt returned with lengths of rope, his gray-blue tunic flapping in the light night breeze. "Move your foot, I want his arms first."
Bill scowled so Burt added a 'pleeze.' Satisfied, Bill scooted his foot, keeping his balance, down to Aiden's lower back as Burt grabbed both of his arms and tightly bound the rope around his wrists, followed by his ankles.
"Tie this one's legs first." Bill commanded as he shook John.
"I was gittin' to it, blimey." Burt looped a length of rope around John's ankles and Bill dropped him next to Ford, Burt also tied his wrists together.
"Git the water boiling."
"Always with the bossin' me around." Burt grunted as he headed to the caldron.
John and Aiden had rolled onto their backs and sat up, as comfortable as they were going to get with their limbs bound and sitting on the rocky ground.
"Someone hasta be the brains." Bill started walking off towards Burt, but stopped when he heard John talking.
"Bill, if you're hungry enough to eat us, and I'm betting we won't taste very good, we could contact our friends and they'll gladly bring some real food."
"The only meat we've had fer months is tornes, we've been dying fer some man-flesh."
"Okay…" Uncomfortable with going any further with that line of conversation, John asked the question pounding at his mind (other than the headache), "What are you?"
"Ain't you ever seen a troll before?" Bill walked off, grunting. The fire was surprisingly bright and gave a perfect view of him.
Left alone on their side of the clearing, Ford and Sheppard scooted together so they could talk without being heard, hopefully.
"Do you have a plan, sir?"
"Getting there. You?"
"Not completely. It does start with getting these ropes off, sir." Ford lifted his hands behind his back.
"Right. Does it end with us not being eaten?"
"Good plan then."
"Thank you, sir."
"If only we still had our knives…" John trailed off as he saw Aiden moving from side to side, apparently trying to sit on his hands… and grumbling almost silently when he couldn't. "Ford?" John raised his eyebrow.
The Lieutenant paused, thinking and explained a new strategy, "If I can stand, I'll be able to step through my arms so my hands are in front of me."
Lt. Ford brought his knees to his chest.
From the other side of the fire, they could hear snatches of conversation, but the trolls had their backs turned to them. "You're clear."
Ford used his hands and feet to push off the ground in one motion. Leaning forward so his tied up hands were more easily resting below his buttocks, he lowered himself to the ground, falling the last few inches, his bound feet rising in the air for balance as he tipped back.
Now sitting once again with his knees to his chest but his hands under them, he leaned back, bringing his knees even closer to his chest, finally able to scoot his hands past his feet.
John raised his eyebrow, "Where did you learn to do that?"
"Escape training. Didn't you, sir?"
"It slipped my mind. Been awhile." He covered and went through the same routine as the younger man, though clumsier as Ford examined his bindings in the firelight.
"These are going to be difficult to get out of."
John looked down at his own bindings closely, "Why do you…oh. Crap." Each wrist was separately tied tightly then weaved together in a mass of rope. The knots were nothing pretty to look at.
"Same with the ankle ropes." Ford observed.
Now able to turn the radio looped around his ear, he activated it, "This is Major Sheppard, come in. … … … this is Major Sheppard, please come in. … …" He stopped, but left it on for someone to contact him.
"There's no telling how far the trolls moved us. A rescue team could easily be out of range, sir."
"We can't sit here and stew."
Ford winced, "I agree, sir."
He remembered the talk of boiling water, "Right."
Bill and Burt were back in view of the two men, busily walking about rather swiftly for being so large. Burt put more wood on the fire as directed as Bill poured water in the three-foot tall cauldron, darting his eyes over to their next meal.
Ford fell into his thoughts while still keeping an alert eye to their surroundings. Somehow the situation felt familiar, but he couldn't remember from where and it was irritating him progressively. If he could remember why it did, maybe it would garner some useful intel.
Sheppard racked his brain for ideas, all of them coming up short. Unless something changed, it looked like they were staying put. "Hopping out of here is our only option, but that won't do."
"Right, sir. We wouldn't get far enough. Nothing's stopping them from killing us right now."
"The less provocation, the better. Bide our time until Atlantis finds us. They will." He nodded for affirmation.
There was a strong gust of wind, carrying the scent of the trolls right too them. "Ugh, they smell like my Aunt Agatha's pickle potato casserole."
"Yeah, I always fed it to the dog. He seemed to like it."
Ford scrunched up his face in disgust, "More like my dad's feet when he pulled off his boots from work, sir."
"Close to your dad?"
"My parents died when I was a kid. I lived with my grandparents. You, sir?"
"They're living back home. We don't talk much anymore."
"Moving thousands of light years away does that, sir." Ford commented though he knew what the Major meant.
"Yeah, I tried calling the Postal Service, but they told me they didn't service out here."
"UPS and FedEx don't either, sir?"
"No, can you believe it? Service these days is getting laxed. I'm filing a complaint with the Business Bureau."
"If you can contact them."
"Right. I really did file a complaint with them before, well my dad did. Our house was on a corner and the people on the next corner down ran a business out of their house. Customers kept ringing our doorbell at all times of day thinking we were them. One guy even opened the door and walked in the house when just my mom was home. My dad threw a fit; turns out they didn't have a license."
"Your dad's Colonel Sheppard, right sir? Served in the Cold War?"
"The one and only." It didn't surprise John much that Ford knew of his dad, he ran into more than a few people who did since the Academy,
"I would not have liked to be those people, sir."
John's reply was cut off when the trolls raised their voices, becoming loud and clear to them.
"They too scrawny, if yer weren't so blinkin' slow we mighta got the others."
"It ain't my fault, you were just as slow!" Burt yelled back.
"The one looked nice and plump, and we coulda been havin' woman-flesh!"
"Wait until McKay hears that one." John commented to Aiden.
Burt sulked away, "There's no use barkin' about it now."
"Yeah, yeah." Bill peeked into the cauldron, "It's gonna be boilin' soon. Git them ready to throw in. Just sit on 'em, I don't want them to loose any blood, it adds flavor."
"Why don't we roast 'em?"
"Because we're makin' stew."
"They're not really going to eat us." John vocally denied, not knowing what was worse, having life-energy taken or your flesh actually being eaten.
The bickering had finally triggered Ford's memory, "That's what they do, sir."
"Have you met a troll before Lieutenant?"
Aiden shrugged, "I read about them in a book once, sir."
"Anything else about them from that book?"
"Sunlight turns them to stone."
"Considering they captured us in daylight, we'll rule that out."
Aided pointed out, "The clearing the Stargate was in was shielded by the tree canopy."
"I don't want 'em roasted!" Bill pushed Burt's shoulder.
"Stew makes me sick!" Burt kicked his leg, Bill responded by throwing a right hook and full blown fight erupted.
John saw their chance, "That buys us some time."
"Maybe they'll kill each other, sir."
"Let's try to hobble out of here, maybe we can find one of our knives. If not, at least put some distance in between us and them."
Both men made it to their feet after getting to a crouch position and turned around with some effort as the trolls fell to the ground, still fighting.
Somehow managing to hop the ten meters to the tree line with only one fall each, they braced themselves against the trees for a brief second and carried on slowly. They could hear the grunts and groans of fighting back in the clearing, hoping for it to continue long enough for them to be far, far away.
"Major Sheppard, come in… Major, please respond."
A very relieved and panting John responded to the radio transmission, "McKay, took you long enough." He glanced at Ford, now only the moonlight barely illuminating the forest. He nodded, signifying he heard through his own radio.
"We decided to eat first before taking the Jumper to rescue you." Rodney sarcastically replied back, not knowing about the irony of his statement.
"Major, what are your and Lt. Ford's situation?"
"Two hostiles somewhere to our six, and we're tied up, Sergeant."
"We're just reading you and the hostiles on our scanners now… you're both in pairs so… move so we don't shoot you by mistake."
"Comforting, McKay, really. Killed by our rescue team." He signaled to Ford to go what he was calling northwest from the troll's clearing. He went northeast, the further they got from the man-flesh hungry trolls the better.
"We got you. The other two signs are still right next to each other."
Ford and Sheppard moved back towards each other, now knowing that by the time the trolls would notice they were gone and go after them, Stackhouse and McKay would already be there.
"They're in a clearing with a large fire. You should be able to see it for miles."
"Yes, sir. We see it out our window now."
"Take them out."
"With pleasure, sir."
"Hey." John responded.
"Are you alright? We were getting very worried."
"We're good. Where are you, on the Jumper?"
"No. I am with Sgt. Markham's team. We are still miles away from your position on foot. Dr. McKay is relaying our transmissions."
They heard the very satisfying sound of the Jumper's weapons fire.
"Hostiles are neutralized. We're landing now, sir."
"We will go back to the Stargate."
"Get to a clearing, we'll swing by and pick you up."
"Thank you, see you then Major, Lieutenant." Teyla ended her transmission.
"I see a light."
John saw what Aiden was referring to - a single white light was coming towards them. "That light you guys?" He asked into his radio.
"It's a phantom motorcycle."
"I'll take that as a yes."
"McKay, Stackhouse." Ford nodded as the two shadowing figures came through the trees.
John shielded his eyes with his bound hands, "Jeeze, McKay. Lower the light."
"Don't like the light, Major?" Rodney aimed the small spotlight at the ground, now the quartet was lit up.
"Not when it's in my eyes."
"Here, Lieutenant." Stackhouse pulled his knife from its holster and his belt and started cutting at the ropes, pen flashlight in his mouth to better light up the area, not wanting to slice a superior officer's wrists when he was rescuing him.
Rodney did the same, though he was using the spotlight to see. "You're a hundred miles from the Gate, did whoever nabbed you have some sort of transport? A ship?"
"I doubt trolls have spaceships, but they can move damn fast from what we've seen. Careful, McKay."
"Relax, Sheppard. But trolls? Under-the-bridge trolls who eat Billy goats?"
Ford rubbed his rope-free wrists before taking the offered knife from Stackhouse, "No." He stooped to cut the bindings around his ankles as Stackhouse gave him light.
Rodney questioned, "What other kind of trolls are there?"
"Tolkien trolls, from The Hobbit." Ford replied nonchalantly as Sheppard, now with free hands, snatched the knife from Rodney and started at the ropes around his feet. Stackhouse saw and shook his head discreetly.
"I never read it. Did you two have fun on your little outing?"
"If you call being on the dinner menu fun, then yes. We never wanted to leave."
The four of them started back through the woods.
Stackhouse interjected, "That was what the pot was for."
"Astute observation, Sergeant. But seriously, they were going to eat you? Eww. You guys have nothing on you anyway."
Ford and Sheppard exchanged glances, trying not to laugh.
John grinned, "Bill missed having you, the 'plump one.' "
Stackhouse covered his mouth, stifling his laughing, but gave up when Sheppard and Ford didn't bother.
"I resent that! I am not plump; I was born with big bones."
The guys found it even funnier Rodney was offended by a troll and Sheppard continued to bait him.
"Being a little larger is normal, McKay. In some cultures the bigger, the better."
Ford was still smiling, "Some tribes in Africa fatten people up for marriage, though only the women."
Stackhouse pitched in, "Sumo wrestlers are very sought after husbands in Japan."
Rodney stormed off into the clearing followed by Stackhouse, "The next time any of you need rescuing, don't call me!"
Sheppard and Ford watched McKay fume as he entered the Jumper, both taking comfort in the fact that they weren't going to be eaten that day. They passed the scorch marks in the ground where Bill and Burt used to be.
Sheppard commented, half interested, "We'll never know whether they would've turned to stone."
"Guess, not. This planet should have a name, sir." They did after all have a unique experience there.
Sheppard groaned, "Don't get started, Lieutenant."
"They're just a few ideas, sir."
"Alright." John rubbed his temple in an effort to stave off his headache getting worse.
"Troll Land… uh Trollica, Man-eating Troll Land, Trolland." He gave John a friendly slap on the back, "Hey, what about that one, sir, Trolland?"
A/N: Thank you for reading!