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Note: This is the second story by Merlin71 and Titan5. We hope you enjoy!
Silent Sacrifice - Chapter 1
"I'm sorry, I just have a hard time picturing our Teyla as a bridesmaid. I'm getting this mental image of her in a long flowing gown and a P90 hanging around her neck while carrying a bouquet of flowers with a knife hidden in the middle." Rodney crossed his arms forcefully and glared at the others in the jumper, as if that somehow emphasized his point.
John, who happened to be swallowing when McKay presented his view of Teyla as a bridesmaid, started out laughing and ended up choking. He coughed and sputtered while trying to keep his eyes open and guide the jumper. Rodney leaned over from the co-pilot's seat and slapped him soundly on the back.
"Stop," he choked out between coughs, frowning in concentration as well as annoyance.
"McKay, you aren't allowed to talk to him while he's flying any more," said Ronon from the seat directly behind Rodney.
Rodney rolled his eyes as he sighed loudly. "It's not my fault he can't laugh and fly at the same time, although I probably should have guessed. I feel sure he can't walk and chew gum either."
Rodney shook his head. "Never mind. Point is, he isn't smart enough to multi-task and I should have figured that out by now."
"McKay!" said John forcefully, now that he was able to breathe again. "Since you're supposed to be a genius, I would think you would know that slapping someone on the back when they're choking does not help."
Rodney smiled smugly. "I know."
John narrowed his eyes and slid them sideways to look at Rodney without turning his head. "It's a good thing for you I'm flying this bird right now."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Rodney waved his hand limply toward Sheppard.
"Of course, I won't be flying it forever."
Rodney frowned and snuck a look at John, trying to discern how angry he was. He let out his breath as he decided John mostly just looked annoyed. They still had about an hour until they reached their destination and Sheppard would probably have forgotten by then.
Rodney turned and looked at the cargo hold in the back. Both sides were filled with boxes of supplies and equipment. One of the other teams had come through the space gate to this system and done a preliminary scan of the planets some time ago. Three planets, well, actually two planets and one moon, had proven habitable on some level and they were here to check them out for civilizations, power sources, or signs of Ancient ruins. They had planned to be gone a week, just the three of them since Teyla was tied up helping a childhood friend with her wedding. Dubbing it boys week out, they had brought several frivolous things to do at night to pass the time.
"Are you sure you brought enough food?"
John sighed. "Yes, Rodney, I brought enough food. I loaded up enough MREs for three people for a week, then I remembered you and Ronon were coming, so I threw in enough for almost another week. We also have power bars and a few candy bars." John sat there for several seconds and then frowned. "You're right, I should have brought more food."
"Very funny, Colonel. It's not our fault we have a healthy appetite, unlike some people I know."
"Actually, I'm the one with the healthy appetite, or at least normal-sized," retorted John. When Ronon grunted, John added, "Okay, Ronon, you do work yours off."
"I work mine off," argued Rodney. "I just work in more of an intellectual capacity."
The jumper suddenly lurched forward and slightly sideways for a few seconds, followed by a loss of power that resulted in the jumper hardly moving at all. John checked the controls frantically. "What the . . . McKay, what's going on?"
Rodney jumped up and headed for the overhead panel in the back. "How should I know, I'm not the one driving," he replied as he pulled the panel down and began to look at crystals. The jumper suddenly lurched again, throwing him to one side against a stack of boxes.
"Rodney, you okay back there?" asked Sheppard, fighting for control of the ship
Rodney righted himself and grabbed the edge of the panel for support in case of another sudden movement. "Just peachy, Colonel, but could you try driving in a straight line?"
"Working on it McKay."
Rodney worked with the crystals in the panel for several minutes before dropping his jaw. "Colonel, what jumper are we in?"
"Uh, jumper five. Most of the other jumpers were still tied up with the maintenance and repair thing."
Rodney sighed and plopped down on the nearest box. "We are so screwed."
John dared a look back at Rodney. "What do you mean by that? McKay, what's going on?"
"You know that new guy that just arrived on the Daedalus about three weeks ago, Dr. Agnew?"
"No," said John and Ronon together. The jumper suddenly careened to one side, almost throwing its passengers to the floor. Once it righted itself, Rodney continued.
"Well, he's a menace. He thinks he's found a way to increase the power to the jumpers."
"Really?" asked John, his eyebrows shooting up in interest.
"Down, Tim, it won't work."
"Who's Tim?" asked Ronon.
"Character on one of those TV shows we were telling you about. He always wanted stuff to have more power," explained John. "The show was called Home Improvement and –"
"Colonel, could we stay focused on the situation at hand?" interrupted Rodney. "Anyway, I told him it wouldn't work, but the jerk thinks he knows everything and that he's always right. You can't imagine having to work with someone like that."
Ronon and John exchanged a look, which Rodney missed since he had resumed working with the crystals in the control panel.
"Well, he was helping pull maintenance on Jumper five and it looks like he's installed his new system. Unfortunately, instead of increasing the power uniformly, it's causing the alternate power surge followed by a power drain."
"Not to mention a certain loss of control. Can you fix it?" asked John, almost holding his breath as he waited for the answer.
"Of course I can fix it." John exhaled slowly in relief. "At least I could if I had about four hours and the proper tools."
"McKay!" John could feel that he was steadily loosing more and more control of the jumper functions. "Okay, I'm going to try to set down on the nearest planet."
McKay looked nervously at the planet slowly increasing in size as they drew nearer. "Shouldn't we try to make it back to the stargate?"
"No, we'll never make it. We'll do good to get down on this planet in one piece. I'd suggest everyone find a secure place to sit."
Rodney came forward and returned to the seat next to Sheppard. He could feel the fear rising up in his throat as they headed down toward the ground.
John was fighting the controls with both his mind and his hands. Neither seemed to be having a great effect. As the ground loomed closer, his heart dropped. The whole area was mountainous and full of trees. He didn't see a clear or flat spot anywhere, much less close enough to take advantage of. "Hang on, this is going to be rough."
As they neared the ground, he saw a small clearing. It wasn't large enough, but it gave him a place to start. He knew they were coming in way too fast, but he had lost virtually all control of the ship. He tried pulling the nose up as they plowed into the ground, digging up a trench as they went. The area was full of rocks and trees and the ground was at an incline perpendicular to his line of travel. They bumped along as they hit rocks and stumps and tilted wildly to the right on the inclined slope. And then they were in the trees, the jumper being tossed and bounced around violently as it ricocheted off the surrounding timber.
John was aware of the sound of crunching metal and things flying around the jumper as he was flung around himself, until his head made contact with the console and then he was aware of nothing.
John opened his eyes and then closed them again, the bright light increasing the stabbing pain in his head. He tried again, but more slowly, letting himself get used to the light a little at a time. He lay there for several minutes, staring at the ceiling as he tried to gather his thoughts. His whole body seemed to ache, but his head and ribs were screaming the loudest. The surface below him was hard and bumpy, so he wasn't in the infirmary even if he felt like he probably belonged there. He lifted his head a couple of inches, but the ensuing pain and the graying vision convinced him quickly to lay back down. He gave it another minute and tried again with more success.
He realized he was in a jumper, but it didn't look right. Glancing around, he finally figured out what was wrong. The jumper was lying on its side. He tried to sit up, but a stabbing pain in his right side stopped him. He settled for rolling over to his left until he could get his knees under him. He stopped for a second, panting against the pain and letting the wave of dizziness pass. They had crashed. With sudden panic, he remembered Rodney and Ronon had been in the jumper with him when it went down. Staggering to his feet, he stood with his mouth open, stunned. The whole back hatch of the jumper was gone, almost like someone had come at them with a giant can opener.
"Rodney! Ronon!" He stepped forward, the floor littered with boxes and supplies. He stopped suddenly when he heard something that sounded like a moan. "Rodney, is that you?"
He began flinging boxes and materials away from the area where he thought the sound had come from. He finally came to a tuft of hair. Rodney. He pulled and yanked, oblivious to the pain it caused in his side, until he had Rodney uncovered. A large gash stretched across most of his forehead and disappeared into his hairline on the right side of his head. Blood was smeared on his face and in his hair. The wound was still oozing blood, but John was relieved to find a good pulse on the physicist.
"Rodney, wake up buddy. Can you hear me?" John gently patted him on the cheek, causing him to groan at the motion it produced in his head.
"Sssstop," Rodney slurred, trying to make his eyes open so he could see what was attacking him.
"Take it easy, Rodney, it's just me, Sheppard. We crashed."
"Ya think?" Rodney managed to slit his eyes enough to see a blurry Colonel Sheppard kneeled down beside him. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, just the usual bumps and bruises you'd expect in a full-fledged jumper crash. Don't try to move too much. You have a head injury and I need to clean and bandage it. What else hurts besides your head?"
Rodney was silent for several seconds, leading John to wonder if the man had passed back out. "McKay?"
Rodney fluttered his eyelids a bit. "I'm awake." He shifted his arms and legs a bit, trying to see if pain told him anything was broken or possibly seriously damaged. "Ohhhh, that hurts."
"What, what hurts?" John leaned forward, trying to tell where Rodney was hurting.
"Back, I think I wrenched my back." Rodney's face was twisted in a grimace and he was breathing through gritted teeth.
John's breath caught in his throat. "Your back? Rodney, do you think you could have an injury to your spine?"
Rodney continued to breathe shallowly for several seconds and then seemed to relax a bit as the pain eased. "No, nothing like that. It's a muscle injury, I'm pretty sure. I can feel my legs okay and everything. I hurt my back rearranging my lab a few years ago and it felt a lot like this."
John sighed in relief. "Okay, that we can manage." He looked around and saw the medical kit, tossed on the floor a few feet from where he kneeled. He got up to retrieve it and immediately fell back to his knees as the jumper seemed to tilt wildly to one side. It took a few seconds for him to realize it was him and not the jumper. Snagging the kit, he crawled back over to Rodney, clenching his jaw against the pain in right side. Opening the bag, he pulled out a field bandage and unwrapped it. He pressed it down to Rodney's head and then put Rodney's hand on top of it.
"Hold that for a minute. Since you aren't dying any time soon, I need to find Ronon and see how badly he's injured."
"How do you know I'm not dying?" asked Rodney as John pulled himself to his feet using the stacks of debris around them.
"Pilot's intuition," he said as he began looking around the back of the jumper. As he neared the opening in the back, he let his gaze wander outside. He almost did a double take at the sight of Ronon lying on the ground about thirty feet behind the jumper.
"Ronon!" John called as he ran through the new opening. He had only gone a few steps when his feet seemed to get tangled up and he went sprawling across the dirt, jarring his aching head and ribs. He lay face down in the dirt for several seconds as the world around him swam. Have to check Ronon, he thought. Pulling himself together, he got up and walked toward the limp form before him.
"Ronon?" He squatted down beside the Satedan and put a hand on his shoulder. Ronon lay on his back, arms sprawled to his sides. The first thing was to check Ronon's pulse and John found it strong and steady. He then looked the big man over for signs of injury. His upper body looked okay, but John almost gagged when he looked at his left leg. The foot was laying at an odd angle to the rest of the leg and John knew that meant he needed to tap his memory on setting broken bones. He figured it was best if he did it while Ronon was unconscious.
John first made his way back over to the jumper to check on Rodney. He carefully picked his way through the scattered boxes and supplies until he had reached Rodney's side. "How are you holding up?" He already knew the answer, he could see the pain in Rodney's eyes.
"Just wonderful, Colonel. Nothing like being pampered and tended to."
"Sorry," John said sheepishly. "Can you hold on for a few more minutes? Ronon's leg is broken and I'd like to set it while he's out. Save him at least a little pain."
Rodney started to come back with a sarcastic retort, but then he thought about the time he had broken his leg and how much it hurt in a hospital with pain medication. This was definitely no hospital and there wouldn't be help any time soon. "Yeah, go ahead. I'll be all right. It might be kind of dangerous to set it while he's awake."
John smiled. "Thanks, Rodney. I'll be back to take care of you, I promise." He grabbed the medical kit in case there was something he could use and headed out of the jumper. Rodney's voice stopped him.
"Hey, Colonel. How are you the only one not injured? It's usually the other way around."
John started to shrug his shoulders, but it pulled on his ribs too much. "Just lucky this time. I guess I was due." He turned and walked quickly toward Ronon.
It took several minutes to find two sturdy sticks and clean the side branches off them. After straightening Ronon's leg, which resulted in the man moaning deeply, he used field bandages to secure the leg to the homemade splint. He discovered a rather nasty cut on the leg as he worked and cleaned and bandaged it as well. By the time he was finished, Ronon was beginning to stir.
"Ronon, it's Sheppard. Don't try to move, just lay still." He held his hand firmly on Ronon's shoulder to discourage him if he tried to sit up. Ronon gave a low moan as his eyelids fluttered open.
John leaned over so he was in Ronon's field of view without the man having to move. "I'm here. Do you remember what happened?"
Ronon closed his eyes a second as he rubbed his head. "Jumper crashed?"
John smiled and let out a deep breath. "Yeah, we crashed. You broke your leg, so don't try moving around. I've got it set and immobilized as best I can. How about the rest of you?"
Ronon took a deep breath and moved his head over a little to see Sheppard better. "I think I'm okay other than the leg. That's the only thing that hurts very badly."
"Okay, good. I need you to stay put while I go check on McKay. He's in the jumper with a head injury and a wrenched back, at least I hope it's just a wrenched back."
Ronon nodded. "Don't think I'm going anywhere."
"Okay, I'll be back as soon as I can. You can see the jumper from here." He nodded toward the jumper, upping the stabbing pain in his temples. Trying to ignore it, he continued. "Just yell if you need me."
Ronon winced as he twisted enough he could see the jumper. "What happened to it? Where's the back hatch?"
John followed his gaze to the damaged ship. "I have no idea. We lost it somewhere on this hill. Unfortunately, we lost some of our supplies through it too. Guess after I get you guys settled, I'll see how much I can find. I'm mostly concerned about the food and water. They won't miss us for a couple of days, and then they won't have any idea where to start looking, so we could be here a while."
As they looked at the jumper, a creaking noise came loudly from the craft and it shifted slightly on the hill. At that moment, John noticed the partially overturned craft was leaning against two small saplings that were beginning to bend under the weight. John jumped to his feet, swaying for a moment before he could move. As he took off for the jumper, a voice called to him from inside.
He entered the back of the ship as gently as he could and made his way over to Rodney. "McKay, we have to get you out of here."
"No joke, Sherlock. Help me up."
John leaned over and pulled Rodney's arm around his neck. Lifting the man as he groaned and hissed, he moved as quickly as he dared to get him out of the jumper. Rodney was so dizzy, he leaned heavily against John and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Every time he lifted a leg, pain shot through his lower back. By the time John led him through the open back of the jumper, he was almost dead weight, his vision gray at the edges and blurring everywhere else. They got a few feet from the jumper when he moaned loudly and leaned over, vomiting in the dirt and leaves.
Fortunately they stopped next to a tree and John was able to lean against it for support as he listened to Rodney throw up and fought the nausea that had plagued him for the last hour. He finally directed Rodney to a tree near Ronon and helped him sit down. They all turned at the sound of creaking metal.
"The supplies!" cried John. He ran for the jumper and disappeared inside as both Ronon and Rodney called to him to come back. They watched with mouths open as the jumper creaked and tilted, the saplings supporting it bent almost to the ground. They both shouted at him to get out of the jumper. John came into view a few seconds later with his hands full of packs and MREs. The jumper shifted and began to roll as John stepped out of the open rear hatch, knocking him to the ground. The craft narrowly missed him as it rolled out of sight. They heard it crashing through the trees as it rolled down the hill, followed by a long pause and then a huge crashing sound far below.
"Sheppard!" called Ronon. Rodney shifted positions, thinking he would get up to check on the colonel, until the screaming pain in his back stopped him. He sat panting and looked over at Ronon to see that he had managed to sit up. A few seconds later, John rolled over and pulled himself to his knees. He rubbed his head and sat looking at the dropped supplies for a while, almost as if he was confused. Then he got up and staggered back over to his two injured teammates.
"That was possibly the most stupid thing I've ever seen anyone do. Have you never heard that you don't go back in a burning building?" Rodney was red in the face, filled with fury and worry.
John frowned a little as he looked at him. "It wasn't on fire."
"It's a saying, Colonel. It applied to jumpers on the verge of rolling down hillsides just as well as burning buildings." Rodney looked at John in anger for another moment before the dazed look in the colonel's eyes got his attention. "Are you okay? Maybe you should sit down or something."
John rolled his shoulders and tried to shake the disorientation he felt. He had to focus. He had two injured friends, nowhere to stay, and very few supplies. Best case scenario was they wouldn't be rescued for several days. He had a lot of work to do.
"I'm fine. Rodney, the first thing is to get your head fixed."
"Are you sure that's possible?" asked Ronon.
"Oh, very funny. This from the one-legged man," shot Rodney.
"Okay, girls, that's enough. You're not helping my headache." John dug through the medical pack that he had left sitting by Ronon and got out the supplies he needed to clean and bandage Rodney's head. Once he got him fixed up, the next order of business would be to find a sheltered place for them to stay and then round up all the supplies he could find. He paused a second to look down the trail they had left in the side of the hill. He could tell there wasn't much there, but it looked like there were a few things he could gather together. He wasn't sure how long they had until dark, but he had a lot of work to do. He ignored his aching head and ribs and the rolling of his stomach.
When he finished with Rodney, John moved Ronon so he could sit under an adjacent tree. Ronon gritted his teeth during the move, but didn't utter a sound. John and Rodney were both impressed because they both knew how much it had to have hurt.
John squatted between the two men and placed two bottles of water, two MREs, and two powerbars on the ground within easy reach. "Okay, guys, I've got to look for some kind of shelter and I'm not sure how long it will take. I do know we don't need to get too carried away with the food and water until we see how much I can salvage, but I'm leaving you enough to tide you over until I get back. I won't stay gone too long. Can you two look after each other while I'm gone, and that means not killing one another?"
"We'll be good, Sheppard. Just hurry," Ronon grumbled.
"We'll be fine, we aren't children," said Rodney.
"It's hard to tell sometimes. I'm also leaving some Tylenol. That's all I could find so far, so it'll have to do." John pointed to the package of pills lying beside the food. "Okay, I'll see you guys later."
John stood up and almost immediately swayed to one side until he lost his balance and fell, landing with a grunt on the hard ground. "Shoot," he muttered, trying to get his hands underneath him so he could push himself up.
"Sheppard?" Ronon growled, sitting up so he could see Sheppard.
"I'm okay, stood up too fast, that's all." John got up on his knees and stopped, letting the wave of dizziness pass as his head suddenly felt like it was going to explode. After a few seconds, the rushing in his ears died down and the pain ebbed back to a manageable level.
"Colonel, maybe you should sit down for a minute. You don't look so good." Rodney was beginning realize that Sheppard looked a little pale and his eyes a little too dull.
John pushed himself to his feet and this time retained his sense of balance. "No, I'm good. I told you, I got up too fast. Major head rush is all. You guys stay put and I'll be back as soon as I can." He flashed his lop-sided grin at the two in an effort to show them that he was okay. "Someone has to do the work around here while you two lie around and get waited on."
"In that case, get moving or my dinner will be late," quipped Rodney, trying to smile as he swallowed against the throbbing in his head and his back.
John moved his hand in a couple of forward circles as he bowed just slightly. "Yes, master. Your wish is my command." He turned and walked up the slope toward the direction the jumper had come from. He figured that way he could inventory lost supplies as he went and pick them up on the way back. He also thought he might have seen a cave as they whizzed by the mountain, and he wanted to check it out. Shortly after he was far enough away to be out of sight and hearing, he gave up fighting the nausea and hung his arm around a tree trunk as he retched until he could barely stand. Taking the top off his water bottle, he rinsed his mouth and then took a sip of water. This could be a long week . . . at least he hoped it was only a week.