Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard emerged from the Stargate and stopped, taking a moment to inhale the fresh, damp air around him. He walked away from the gate and down two worn, stone stairs before stopping in the short grass, the light dew dampening his pant legs. He looked around as the rest of his team emerged. A large, grassy field greeted his gaze, with tall coniferous trees surrounding them. He couldn't see the Pegasus equivalent of a bird that made the odd chirping whistle sound that found his ears, but somehow he took comfort from it. The little creature seemed unworried about anything lurking in the bushes, so John followed suit.
John glanced at Ronon who stopped next to him. "Which way?"
Ronon pointed to a narrow trail that led into the woods. "There. Last time I was here I found a small village not far from here. Didn't stay long though."
John nodded absently, recognizing the subtle meaning of Ronon's words. The Wraith transmitter he'd carried for seven years had prevented him from staying in one place too long. John looked over at Rodney. "Anything?"
Rodney grunted. "Lots of animals, but no human life signs yet."
John walked forward. "Okay then. I'm on point, Ronon take the six. McKay watch for human life signs.
"I have never been here," Teyla remarked quietly as she followed behind Rodney.
"I'm not surprised," Rodney muttered. "Tell me again why we're here?" He added annoyingly.
John glanced over his shoulder. "Just bein' neighborly."
"We're on the other side of the galaxy from Atlantis. Hardly neighbors!" Rodney retorted.
"It is all irrelevant with the Stargate," Teyla commented quietly.
"Huh," Rodney grunted, his tone decidedly disagreeing.
John tuned out Rodney and relished the fresh, clean air. He followed the path as it meandered its way through the trees as his thoughts touched on the imposing Runner that followed at the back of his team. Ronon hadn't been around long, but already had proven himself as a good choice for John's team. A gifted fighter and expert marksman, Ronon was a man of few words, but one John was getting used to having at his back. "Did you have any contact with the locals at all, Ronon?" John ventured.
John smiled slightly at Ronon's abrupt answer. At first, he'd never been sure if the big ex- runner was mad or not, but after a while John came to realize that it was just the way he was; and with McKay around, John really didn't need another chatterbox anyway.
"Just once," Rodney groused, "I'd like to pick a warm sunshiny planet."
"Like M26-445?" John smiled mischievously. He could feel Rodney's icy stare on his back.
"Oh you're hilarious. Conditions that rival the Sahara Desert aren't what I had in mind!"
"But, it was warm and sunny," John replied, still smiling.
"Whatever!" Rodney fell silent.
John rounded a bend in the trail and stopped. "Well, that's a problem." His gaze fixed on a large landslide that completely blocked the path. His gaze narrowed. "Not sure I want to try climbing over that and risk anyone sinking in it." He took the positive sounding grunt coming from Ronon's direction to be an affirmation of his statement as he walked to the edge of the path and peered into the trees. "We could go around I suppose..."
"Great, slogging through wet trees," Rodney muttered.
"We could leave you here, by yourself, McKay," Ronon commented quietly, "lots of animals around, probably harmless."
Rodney sighed loudly. "Right. Lead the way, Colonel."
John smiled as he pushed aside a heavy bush with his P-90 and ventured into the woods. Wet branches brushed across his face and body as he worked his way through the underbrush. "We shouldn't have to go far, just circle far enough to get around the landslide..." John's voice trailed off as took two more steps and the ground under his feet abruptly changed. Gone was the firm feeling dirt, replaced with what he could only call a wobbling surface that creaked ominously. He froze. "Stop!"
Rodney's annoyed voice held a note of concern. Carefully turning his head, John caught a glimpse of his team from the corner of his eye. "I'm not standing on solid ground anymore." As if in response, the surface under his feet creaked again. John felt it bend under his weight. "This is not good."
He felt more than heard Ronon edge closer, but although the Satedan was still on solid ground, he felt the wobbling surface under his feet shift in response. "Ronon? Stay back. The ground is way too wet and unstable for you to get any closer." The creaking stopped as Ronon backed off.
"Sheppard, reach behind and I'll grab you."
John licked his lips as he considered Ronon's suggestion.
"Colonel, you cannot see it but Ronon can pull you back if you reach for him," Teyla reassured.
John sighed. "Right." He slowly let go of his P-90 with his left hand and gradually moved his arm behind him and towards Ronon.
"Sheppard," Ronon urged.
"I'm working on it!" John hissed. After what seemed like forever, he felt Ronon's strong grip on his wrist.
"I got you," Ronon commented quietly.
"McKay, Teyla," John's voice was hushed, his gut in knots despite the professional air he held onto, "stand back. Ronon's gonna have to do this fast..." The ominous sound of cracking wood under his feet cut off John's words. He felt the surface beneath him start to give as his weight proved to ultimately be too much for it to bear. "Crap..."
"Sheppard!" Ronon pulled hard on John's arm but was a split second too late as the fragile surface under John's feet gave way.
John felt himself falling and forced himself to let go of Ronon's arm, determined not to take the Satedan with him, but his action was futile against Ronon's tightening grip. John felt his fall break for just a moment, before air rushed by him once again and for a split second he realized that Ronon was falling with him. The bliss of freefall was broken by a sharp, breathtaking pain to his leg and a searing pain left arm, before his head met hard earth and darkness took him.