SEASON: Second Season
MAJOR CHARACTERS: McKay, Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon
NOTE: As always, I don't know much about SG1 stuff... and science and medicine. Sorry if I got it all wrong. You don't have to point out my errors. I make it all up. Remember, this is just for fun!
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Tipper and GateBiscuit gave me a challenge because I hadn't written anything in a while. They presented me with five pages out of the "Worst Case Scenario" daily calendar. I had to write a story around the scenarios presented. This is the result. Blame them.
SPOILERS: small ones for Home, 38 Minutes, Conversion and Condemned
WORST CASE SCENARIO - by NotTasha
CHAPTER 1 – THE FOG
They strode out of the wormhole – Sheppard first, with Teyla and Ronon flanking him. McKay followed. The scientist paused for a moment as he stepped clear of the event horizon and he took in their surroundings. His eyes went wide, and faster than a quick-draw, he had his scanner in his hand and activated it to inspect the misty, heavy air that surrounded them. Fiddling with the controls, he looked beyond his compatriots and took in the sight before them.
"In the briefing," he started, "did someone mention the…?" and he motioned to the air around them.
"Wasn't in the report," Sheppard responded, as he stared into the grayness. "Foggy."
Teyla smiled and told them, "This area is known for this sort of weather. It is not uncommon."
Behind them, the wormhole closed and McKay glanced around, grimacing at the moist-looking air. "Fog?" He became intent on his scanner for a moment, jabbing way, and making a pirouette as he brought the device around. "Okay… Fog, yes… just fog. Could be worse," he said, glancing up from the display. "The fog isn't … you know… life forms or something."
Ronon gave him a curious look, but both Teyla and Sheppard let out a sigh of relief.
Sheppard stated, " I can tolerate fog when it's just – you know -- fog."
"Yeah. Rather not have aliens…" McKay flitted one hand around one side of his head, "In my brain again. Those fog people creeped me out." The hand came down to meet the tablet's screen and he started tapping.
Sheppard scrunched up his face at the memory of the fog people.
"Agreed," Teyla added and gave Ronon a look that told him she'd explain it later. The former runner seemed to accept this, having been in similar situations before with this group.
"You're going to check for energy signatures?" Sheppard asked the scientist who gave him a withering look. "Might be a good idea, to, you know, check."
"I'm working on it!" McKay snapped, which only made the colonel smile.
Sheppard stared out into the gray weather as McKay worked his computer. The mist moved, trailing along green hills, exposing little distant houses from time to time, only to cover them up again. It was like a shell game, John decided, and he almost expected a house to have disappeared when the fog moved on.
There were closer homes, looming out of the mist just in front of them. He squinted, trying to get a better look. Yes, houses all around them. Down a hillside, a town peeped from the blanketing weather. The fog clung to the structures like clothing. Everything was quiet. It was as if the mist had captured all sound and held it tight.
The air had a salty quality to it – they were near the ocean -- a cold sea, no doubt. Sheppard hoped there'd be no fjords, or glaciers or icebergs. He'd had enough icebergs for a lifetime in Antarctica.
"So," Sheppard started, partially to break that odd quiet. He watched the fog ebb its way through the structures -- creepy. "What's the name of this place again?"
"The town is called Nehalem," Teyla responded, gesturing toward the half-hidden buildings. "The planet is called Netarts, as is the ocean. The towns of Wheeler and Meares are nearby, but Nehalem is the center of their commerce."
"Nehalem is the town that controls the Ring of the Ancestors," Ronon went on.
"They were prosperous," Teyla added with a hollow note as she gazed at the emptiness.
"They fished," Ronon supplied. He nodded his head toward the green hills. "They got trees, too. Lots of them. Wheeler harvests lumber. In Meares they raised vegetables and stuff." He looked hungry. "Good sweet vegetables."
Teyla added, "They invited strangers to join in their good fortune. Some travelers were allowed to stay. Others were sent back."
With a shrug, Ronon dispelled any questions about what determined a stranger's fate. "The Nehalems were better than a lot of folk out there that have a good thing. At least they let some in. Could have been worse."
"What's not to like?" McKay asked hunching his shoulders inside his jacket. "I mean, it's moist and it's foggy and… moist. It's the sort of weather that draws people by the thousand, isn't it?" He sniffled unhappily. "Think this will burn off by mid day?" he asked hopefully, and began searching his pockets with one hand. "I certainly hope it burns off. It'd better, because this is going to chill me to the bone. I'm going to want a hot bath when I get back to Atlantis."
"Big baby," Sheppard muttered under his breath.
"I catch colds easily," McKay complained as he fixed Sheppard with an unhappy look. "Why would people want to live in this?"
To that question, Teyla smiled broadly. "The reason people came to this place," she told him, "is the reason we are here now." She continued with a patient air, as Rodney pulled a wad of tissues from his pocket, "A people can only become prosperous when they are free from the threat of the Wraith."
"And the Wraith didn't come here," Ronon went on, un-holstering his weapon. "Until about a year ago." He nodded to the surrounding area. "People came through the Gate and discovered that everyone was gone. The Wraith had culled every living soul on the planet."
In response, McKay blew his nose loudly into a tissue.
Sheppard waited, giving McKay an unpleasant look before asking, "You got anything?"
With a shrug, Rodney jammed the used tissue into a pocket. "No energy signature. Nothing outside of natural radiation."
With a tight nod, Sheppard stated, "Let's move out then. Try to figure it out."
They made their way past pretty little houses. The buildings had an almost 'Victorian' feel to them, as if someone had once set up a bunch of dollhouses, painted them in bright colors, and then left them to be eaten up in the gray gloom.
The houses were tall and narrow, festooned with decorative gingerbread, shingled in fish-scale, rounded with cupolas or topped with tiny widows-walks. Narrow chimneys ran from the roofs. They were built close together, huddled on the hill with tiny gardens between them. The hill was so steep that two levels of one house could be accessible from the paved street that ran alongside.
McKay trotted, trying to keep his balance on the steep hill. Ronon kept his gaze everywhere. Teyla remained quiet, taking in the sulky sad neighborhood that must have been boisterous once. Sheppard kept his eyes on his people.
Dormers peered from the rooftops like eyes, watching over the streets. Teyla gazed back at them, looking in toward what was once a parlor, a child's room, a reading room. Inside, the houses were dark and lifeless. Here and there a broken pane was set against the street. Toppled gardening tools, abandoned toys, open-empty doorways told of a sudden event that took the homeowners. Bits of stray clothing clung to bushes. Once well-tended lawns were overgrown and gardens were wild.
They had been rich -- there was no doubt. Teyla and Ronon had both commented on the renowned seafood from Nehalem. The people from the planet Netarts were good fishermen, safe from everything except the dangers of the sea – until their luck had run scarce.
There had been families here, whole generations that had grown up without the fear of the Wraith – there'd been fishing dynasties here -- families working together on the boats. Newcomers, it was said, came and fit into those families. Their new lives went so well, they never passed through the Gate again, never left the safety of the Netarts sea. It was all good.
There'd been old people, mothers and fathers and children -- and all of them had disappeared, leaving only the bare bones of the town – the abandoned buildings with the open empty eyes -- to describe the tale.
The town felt hollow, utterly empty. Teyla wrapped her arms around herself and stepped over a child's wagon that had been abandoned along the street. She stifled the need to shiver, feeling the cold air, and wished she'd brought a thicker coat instead of her jacket.
What could be worse than losing an entire planet to the Wraith? The creatures were cruel beyond measure, and she wondered what the last minutes had been like for these kind people, what horrors had been visited upon them.
Several steps behind, McKay studied the scanner's screen as he negotiated the steep grade. Oblivious, he bumped into the battered orange wagon, and with a clatter, it sprang forward, wobbled, and started to roll.
"Ooops," McKay muttered as the old wagon clangored down the hillside. The noise ripped into the quiet and Teyla turned sharply, her face severe. She attempted to stop the little cart with a kick as it came at her, but it was past before she had the chance. She took a couple of racing steps behind it, but the wagon had picked up speed and went careening down the hillside.
It sped, slicing along a curb, wheeling out across the narrow steep street and back again, clittering, clattering, banging its way through the center of the once silent town, a blur of orange until the fog ate it up.
The foursome watched it disappear, then three sets of eyes turned to McKay as it continued to clatter away.
For a moment, Rodney looked as if he was going to apologize, but the wagon, invisible and far down the hill, ran into something with a BANG. It quelled his attempt to ask forgiveness, and instead he shrugged and said, "Okay, so it went all the way down. Big deal! There's no one here to care."
"There are those that DO care," Teyla answered levelly. "This was once a community to many people. What happened to them was unspeakable. Respect should be shown to the memory." And she gazed again toward the empty houses.
Sheppard glanced down the steep street where the wagon had disappeared. "That was kinda cool," he commented. "I mean, if I were a kid here, I would've done that a time or two just to see how far it'd go."
"You'd probably jump in and take a ride with it," McKay included, using a hand to mimic the downward flight. "Good luck finding something to slow you down at the bottom. Probably run face first into a building and splatter your good looks everywhere."
Sheppard snorted. "Always the worst case scenario? I can pilot a wagon. I've done it a few times when I was a kid. It would be a kick. Bet I could run that thing all the way to the waterfront."
Poking at the scanner again, Rodney went on with the previous idea, "I bet I could have rigged up some brakes, a steering mechanism of some sort."
"We'd be flying," Sheppard added. He looked toward the other members of this team. Teyla still looked disturbed, her eyes taking on a sharpness as she looked in Rodney's direction. The horror suffered by these people was not going to easily leave the Athosian.
Ronon's attention was elsewhere already, scanning the area to see if the noise had drawn any attention.
Sheppard continued, "I'm betting that the kid who owned the wagon took a few runs down that hill. The thing was pretty banged up." And he paused as a new silence descended on them. He blinked, realizing the fate of that kid.
"Anyway…" McKay drew out. "There's nobody here." He gazed at the device in his hand. "Well, there's life. Birds or something. And a whole mess of something out there," and he gestured vaguely in the direction of the sea. "Fish, squid, whales," and he winced at the thought of the leviathans. "But out there, in those buildings, probably nothing bigger than a mouse."
Ronon made a soft sound and then muttered, "Don't think they got them here."
"What?" McKay asked, turning toward the big man.
"Mice, they don't got mice."
"Okay, not 'mice' exactly, but every planet has some sort of vermin," McKay commented.
Ronon shrugged. "Not every one," he added.
"Lucky sons of bitches," Sheppard responded.
Ronon responded with, "Guess their luck ran out."
Sniffling again, McKay reached for another tissue and daubed at his nose. "So, let's keep moving, huh? Find this anti-Wraith device of theirs." Looking irritated, he went on, "Sooner we get out of here the better, because I'm due for one hell of a cold."
"It didn't work." Ronon creased his brow. "The device that kept away the Wraith. It didn't work. Everyone's gone."
Rodney shook his head. "Of course, it worked. Whatever they had here worked for centuries, didn't it?"
"But it ultimately failed," Sheppard completed, cocking his head toward the scientist.
McKay let out an exasperated sigh. "Yes, and since it's just a matter of something 'failing', it can probably be revived, and I'm just the guy to do that. So let's keep moving and find out whatever they had here. We can get back to Atlantis, and I can get that hot bath before pneumonia sets in, as I know it will. Chop chop!"
Sheppard raised an eyebrow at the scientist, watching as he started a strange sideways step down the steep grade.
"And you're not concerned that there might be something hiding out there in the fog?" Sheppard asked.
The question brought McKay to a standstill. He looked up at Sheppard with wide eyes, then grabbed for his life sign detector again. "I'm not picking up anything," he squeaked. "Do you think there's going to be a problem?"
Ronon snorted and started down the hill after the scientist. "Wraith think everyone's gone. No reason for them to be here."
"Yeah, we got the place to ourselves," Sheppard stated, passing McKay as he caught up to Ronon. "What's the worst that can happen?"
McKay raised a hand to respond to that comment, but Teyla had wordlessly passed him, still looking rather miffed about the 'wagon' incident.
With a groan, McKay followed at his own stilted pace.
88888888888888888888A row of businesses and shops fronted the harbor, beside piers and docks, fish processing establishments, canneries and boat repair shops – empty as the houses. A large factory of some sort took up a section of the waterfront. Holding tanks could be seen poking up through the mist.
"It looks rather like a distillery or maybe a brewery," McKay declared, squinting through the fog, "If I could see it better, I'd know exactly what it is."
"I like the beer idea," Sheppard commented. "I wonder if they were more into lagers or leaned toward porter? Because, I could certainly go for a cold one."
McKay turned to the other two, asking, "Are they known for beer or anything?"
"Not that I know of," Teyla replied. "But they may have created a local beverage that wasn't exported."
"We'll check it out," Ronon said with a smile. "I'm willing to do some research."
They kept moving toward the protected bay that led out into the ocean.
The odor of decomposition came up at them from the forgotten fish processing places. Nets hung, rotting from the poles where they'd been hung to dry. Moored boats bobbed, bumping into with one another as the water lapped around them. They made a strangely lonely sound.
A few sunken craft sent up a bubble or two into the harbor.
The place was as depressing as hell.
"Somehow, I'd expect rats," McKay said, eyeing the doorway of one of the canneries. "I mean, lots and lots of rats or… something. Seems… wrong without them. Well, it's good that they're gone, right? Wiping out a full segment of the food chain is always a good idea."
"There's nothing worse than rats," Sheppard commented as he turned away from the waterfront. "Rats and bugs." He scrutinized the row of businesses that ran one block up from the waterfront. "McKay and me are going to check out what's there," he declared. "Maybe they have a town hall or police station or something. Be a sensible place to house an anti-Wraith device. Might even have a Hall of Wraith Deportment."
"Deportation," McKay quickly corrected, but he smiled as he stated, "But a Hall of Wraith Deportment wouldn't be half bad. A charm school for Wraith? They could be taught to sit with their knees together, provided with the basics of cultivated conversation. Beat into them the need to drink tea with their pinkies extended, hmmm?" McKay commented, providing an appropriate gesture.
Before Sheppard could launch into a response, Teyla broke in, "And we shall continue along this street." She nodded to the canneries and factory before them.
Ronon was peering through the fog, charting their journey past partially collapsed piers. "Might take a while to search," he decided.
"Yeah, I figured as much," Sheppard stated glancing toward McKay who still nervously clutched the scanner. "Anything?"
A twitch of the lip and McKay shook his head. "A lot of fish or something out there in the water.
"Rich fishing grounds," Ronon decided. "And no one's fished them for a while. Bet the ocean is full." He took on a thoughtful expression as he commented, "I used to like to get their Gearhart Soup."
"Deer heart?" McKay commented, his face looking a little bleak at the thought.
"Gearhart. It's a shellfish that they have here," Ronon explained, nodding toward the sea. "Used to get it at taverns that traded with the Nehalems. I liked it with nestucca fried up crispy on the side."
"What? Nest Ucka?" McKay tried the word. He looked disgruntled. "Can't just call anything 'fish' or 'salmon' or 'cod' and leave it at that?" He frowned. "'Sturgeon' even. 'Trout', for Christ's sake. What's wrong with that?"
"Nestuccas are not fish. They look rather like…" Teyla paused as she searched her memory for something the people from Earth might understand. "An iratus bug that lives underwater." Without realizing it, she made a crab-like motion with one hand.
While Sheppard flinched, McKay snapped his fingers. "Lobster!" he declared, and gave Ronon a congratulatory pat on the shoulder. "Oh, a lobster man! A man of good taste."
Ronon smiled broadly, while Teyla, seeing the discomfort etched on the colonel's face, added, "The nestuccas resemble the iratus bug only in their… bug-like appearance. I do not believe that they are truly insects or related to the Wraith. They are not dangerous. They are creatures of the water and would not be found on land."
"I hate bugs," Sheppard muttered.
Ronon continued his discourse, perhaps to distract the colonel. "Sometimes I could get kiwanda meat from here." His eyes glazed over a little at the memory. "Good eatin' especially when you cook it over an open fire."
McKay looked to Teyla while Sheppard threw off a little shudder at the idea of underwater iratus bugs. The Athosian helpfully described, "The kiwanda is a lizard. They grow to about the size of a man and have powerful jaws." With a little smile, she added, "Unlike the nestuccas, they can prove quite dangerous."
"Okay, kiwandas?" McKay started, his voice raising a bit as he clutched his scanner. "Big lizard. Great. They have alligators here! You think some of these dots might be a kiwanda or two?"
"They exist in the south. Quite distant." She gestured into the fog. "They require heat and do not thrive in this climate."
"Who would?" With a frown, the scientist went on, "And it doesn't need to thrive. It just needs to live." And he looked up sharply at Ronon and stated, "And if Conon is so fond of how they taste, then someone, somehow got the things through the Gate. Alive – dead – I don't know. This place hasn't been inhabited in a while, so one or two kiwandas may have moved in, and …" And he stopped, glaring at the screen. "I just don't want to think about it."
Sheppard shook his head. "Fine," he grumbled. "Get moving. Keep your mics active. No talkin' about us behind our backs while we're gone."
Teyla smiled and nodded, and Ronon looked curiously toward an empty cannery. McKay fiddled with his scanner and gazed toward whatever life-forms were revealed in the ocean. They paused a moment and then parted – McKay and Sheppard turning to the right to walk uphill one block to the more imposing looking buildings – Teyla and Ronon continuing along the waterfront.
On this planet, the Nehalems had found a means of keeping the Wraith at bay. They were determined to find what it was before they left the place.
TBC -Yes, what's the worst that could happen?