Title: Peccary Fog
Author: Heather F
Disclaimers: not mine, no money made etc.
Thanks: NT, Mitzi and MegT
Rating: PG ---violence etc. (I'd let Emmit read it)
Characters: Beckett and Team
Spoilers: Irresistible, Misbegotten, Common Ground---all very slight, except for Misbegotten
Warnings: See rating and Been a bit busy/distracted these last few months. It's been a tense and trying summer.
Summary: Beckett's off world with another team (Who would have thought that?). They are late in returning to Atlantis (Oh No!). Sheppard, McKay, Teyla and Ronon go looking for them (All the Ingredients for Disaster!).
Part 1 (having trouble with FFN...losing parts of sentences and formatting. Working on straightening it out)
His breaths sounded desperately harsh to his own ears. His legs flashed forward, blurred lines of grey against a dark shadowed background of greens and browns. His chest heaved painfully as his feet pounded over the uneven forest floor. The heavy tread of his off world boots were muffled by a continuous soft bed of pine needles and fallen deciduous leaves. Roots bulged from the ground, threatening to catch a toe, hook a heel or twist an ankle.
Leaves snapped back and forth as he brushed by them, knocking them hastily out of his way with his shoulders, a stray knee or shin.
Beckett ran. Wild eyed, pupils dilated, and mouth open, he ran down the narrow forested path in the direction of the stargate.
He cast a fleeting glance over his shoulder, his legs nearly crossed. His right foot skimmed the inside of his left ankle, catching the thick material of his off world uniform. It hitched his stride, threatened to tumble him to the ground. His arms instinctively flashed out, wavering for balance. His breath caught and interrupted the flow of oxygen.
He stumbled, flared his arms for balance as his head and shoulders were thrown outward over his flying feet.
He lunged forward, keeping his feet, maintaining his forward motion.
Beckett continued his headlong sprint between the trees following the twisting, turning convoluted path that would eventually lead him back to the stargate.
The short abrupt sound of P-90 firing clattered somewhere behind him.
His own .9mm remained strapped to his outer thigh, chamber open, clip empty.
"Oh crap. Oh crap," he muttered between great heaving draws of breath. His chest couldn't expand far enough, his heart couldn't seem to beat fast enough and his legs couldn't carry him to safety nearly as quickly as necessary.
He kept running. It never entered his mind to stop.
Carson pumped his arms. His shoulders were no longer restricted by the awkward, cumbersome backpack. He had unsnapped that and let it slip from his shoulders long ago. His off world vest was quickly shed soon after the backpack. Perhaps a quarter mile ago? Maybe more, maybe less.
It was a lifetime ago. Hurn's lifetime. The young man from Toronto had been dragged down the same time Beckett shucked his backpack on the run following the stern direct orders of Lieutenant Hopkins.
The Lieutenant's last set of orders.
Tree branches whipped by, snatching at Carson's half zippered jacket, scratching along his clothing and threatening to break his stride, twisting his upper body, and attempting to foil his mad blind dash back to the gate. His pelvis remained true to his direction, despite the gyrations of his upper body. His legs snapped forward and sprang back with every frantic stride.
Beckett, bent, twisted and turned his upper body, forcing his way through overhanging branches. He didn't bother pushing branches from his face, but pumped his arms, maintaining a rhythm with his legs and covered ground faster than he ever thought possible.
His chest burned fiercely. Great boluses of air seemed to knot and catch in his trachea. It felt as if a great band tightened itself around his chest, keeping him from expanding his thoracic cavity properly.
Run man, come on man…run. You can make the gate…run damn it…the gate…get help.
Another burst of P-90 fire erupted behind him. He could hear the large rounds tear through leaves and slam into trunks of trees with a dull thud. The sound was both frightening and strangely comforting. Corporal Edward Thomas was back there, laying cover fire despite his ruined arm. Buying Beckett time.
They were the only two left.
Carson followed the narrow game trail. Trees and scenery splintered past him without notice. Little undergrowth vegetation marred the pine needle-carpeted ground. Soft dirt and pine debris deadened the footfall of each heavy step he took.
Run, damn it….faster…..
"Come on, Doc!" Suddenly Thomas was a step behind him. Urging him on. "Hurry, Doc! Hurry."
Beckett merely blinked, not having the strength or coordination to nod. He lengthened his stride just a bit, leaned forward just a tad and clenched his fists just enough that he clawed for invisible purchase in the space in front of himself just to find a little more speed.
Mist gathered around his ankles. It circled and spiraled up around his boots, thin tendrils encircled his lower legs.
He whimpered. Oh God. Oh God. They weren't going to make the gate.
Beckett found a burst of speed.
He hauled in great heaving breaths through his open mouth. The tip of his tongue rested just at the base of his bottom incisors, trying to keep a straight unobstructed flow of needed air.
"We're not going to make it!" Thomas huffed. The deafening sound of P-90 fire exploded just behind Beckett. The corporal continued to protect their desperate escape.
Beckett dug down a little deeper; found a little more speed. His heart was going to explode from the exertion. He knew it.
Carson followed the path weaving left and right. He shortened his stride instinctively when forced up little inclines and lengthened his stride as he careened downward. He never lost speed.
Branches lashed at his shoulders and neck.
His palms were soaked. Sweat dripped from the back of his hands and along his fingers.
Sweat ran down the sides of his face and soaked his shirt. It beaded across his forehead and rolled into his eyes. The salt stung, forcing him to wipe his eyes with a hurried brush of a damp coat sleeve. It broke his stride. Interrupted the smooth, mindless gait he had unknowingly established.
"Hurry, Doc," Thomas whispered. The breathless order, though unnecessary, was heeded.
Beckett squeezed his eyes closed for just a moment, two strides. His legs flashed forward, the balls of his feet snapping into the ground and springing him forward. His shoulders never rose or fell. Extra motion wasn't wasted. The body drove itself on mindless instinct. Eyes remained dilated, airways open and free of mucous. Heavy muscle bodies consumed oxygen as blood was shunted from less important areas.
Breathing had become painful. More painful than he had ever imagined possible.
He heaved in great draughts of air. His chest was in agony. Air was sucked through his mouth, fluming down his trachea into his burning lungs. His chest felt on the verge of exploding. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Beckett ran through an improbable but unstoppable list of differentials; perhaps an undiagnosed neoplasm was sitting in his chest preventing air exchange; perhaps an aneurysm was on the cusp of rupturing. Maybe undiagnosed asthma? Oh Crap, maybe he was missing a set of lungs? He couldn't seem to get enough air. Drowning on dry land. Asphyxiating on a world that carried plenty of oxygen.
Carson could picture his heart twitching and fluttering wildly as it frantically beat under neurgenic stimuli to contract stronger, more efficiently, faster---impossibly faster.
His legs moved, pounded over the ground, turning over faster than he had ever moved in his life. Faster than he ever imagined he could move.
It wasn't going to be enough.
Thomas was less than a step behind. The young man from New York and not New York City as he reminded people at every opportunity, was only a half breath away, occasionally squeezing off small bursts of fire. He continued to try and protect them.
The mist whispered past their feet, swirled around their ankles. It stretched fine ghostly tendrils just in front of each desperate step.
They weren't out running it.
Oh Crap…Oh Crap. Carson kept his head up, his mouth open and tried to ignore the stretching grey mist that trickled and wisped from behind, stretching out to cover the ground before him.
Large leafy ferns slowly faded, disappearing behind the shimmering, circling mist as the trail in front of them became increasingly more enveloped in white.
Oh Crap. The gate was too far away. They were so close. So close to almost escaping.
But close only counted in horse-shoes, hand grenades and atomic bombs, or so his cousin once told him.
The mist reached further in front, obscuring the trail, building and swirling around them.
Beckett ran harder. He could no longer see the flash of his boots or lower legs. He stretched his legs further, lengthening his stride, trying to out stretch the mist.
His chest burned with near paralyzing intensity. He could feel his muscles stretch and contract, forcing tendons to pull on bone, flex joints, bend one knee, arch a foot and conversely extend them as well as his leg stretched for the ground only to kick off less than split second later.
The mist swirled around his feet.
Something bumped his lower leg.
He let out a breathless whimper. Sweat ran into his eyes, stinging them closed.
Something nipped at his left ankle.
He angled his steps to the side, twisting his upper body and rolling his shoulders as he quickly sidestepped and dodged something unseen within the haze.
He choked back a sob. His breath hitched. He missed a gasp. His chest screamed in silent agony as blood rushed through vessels with a little less oxygen than was needed.
Tears of exertion sprung to the corner of his eyes. They mingled with the free flowing rivulets of sweat that traveled unerringly down his shadowed face.
"Trees! Go up!" Thomas breathed just behind Beckett. The command was desperate, full of fear and perhaps a tinge of regret.
Without conscious thought, or taking the time to make a decision, Carson reached up and grabbed the next low lying branch that swung down close to the trail.
With momentum behind him, he swung his legs up, knees to chest, curving his upper body into a C and rolled himself stomach inward over the low swinging branch and into the tree in a single seamless movement. A move he would never probably be able to duplicate again.
Thomas was a step behind. The young man jumped straight up, his P-90 slapped against his torso. He grasped the thick branch with both hands and lifted himself vertical; bending his legs, drawing them closer to his chest as he struggled to lift himself onto the branch Carson had swung himself onto. The P-90 stock hooked the underside of the branch, halting Thomas's momentum.
Beckett scrambled one branch over, neither gaining nor losing height. He reached down desperately to grab the young man's exposed white wrist as the corporal's jacket sleeves slid back on his arms. Tendons and ligaments strained as blood vessels dilated just under the scantly haired lower arm of the struggling marine.
Beckett threw himself against his branch, bracing his heaving chest against the limb and clasped desperately to the young man's wrists and pulled.
The P-90 thudded against the tree branch, keeping Thomas's lower body close to the ground.
The young soldier kicked his legs upward, trying to gain a hold with his treaded boots against the smooth bark of the tree.
His boots scratched madly for purchase.
The mist swirled just under his curved back. His dark grey off world coat billowed like a partially deflated sail toward the ground.
"Hurry man," Beckett pleaded in a breathless whisper. Sweat dripped from his forehead and nose darkening the smooth bark just below him. Perspiration circled from behind his head to trickle down his neck behind his ears and into his sodden shirt.
Thomas scratched frantically for more purchase. He struggled to pull himself up with his one good arm, forcing his ruined arm to perform tasks it could no long hope to ever accomplish again.
The P-90 snared itself in a knotted tree bough.
"Doc?" It was a plea, a question, as if somehow voicing the title would-could-make the situation turn in their favor. It was the askance of a scared boy turning to a favorite uncle for help, for assistance. A young brave man, seeking help from an individual he himself had sworn to protect.
Thomas's terrified eyes caught Beckett's. They were a vivid blue, sparkling with fear and trepidation. "Doc?" The panic in the voice matched the horror that blazed behind strikingly clear, ice blue eyes. They were the dazzling color a mother loved showing off to family and strangers; the kind of eyes that had girls staring and left them wanting. Thomas's vibrant blue eyes were the hypnotizing clear that had people betting if they were real or contacts.
Carson knew them to be real. His little nephew had the same color.
"No," Beckett whispered, matching the desperation in Thomas's eyes. The doctor tried to haul the marine upward, using all his strength. His back muscles stretched and contracted, pulling against cartilage and bone. Ribs ached and discs compressed and pinched.
His slick hands slipped on Thomas's sweaty wrists.
Pale skin blanched further before reddening, highlighting the impressions left by Carson's slipping fingertips and palms.
The P-90 clanked and rattled, but remained wedged.
"The clasp---undo the clasp," Carson ground between tightly clenched teeth. "Hurry man." Thomas's ruined arm couldn't communicate fine motor skills to his fingers.
Thomas's feet lost their purchase on the tree trunk. They fell toward the building mist which swirled and circled along the ground, thickening and boiling.
His feet disappeared into the fog.
"No…no," Beckett mumbled and tightened his grip around the bony wrists. "No." He pulled again. His hands slipped. Thomas slid a little closer to the hidden ground.
"Doc?" The plaintive plea was barely audible.
Carson quickly adjusted his grip and tried lifting again, refusing to look at the coalescing mist.
The corporal began screaming. He thrashed and hollered. His head flew back and his body jerked. He kicked his feet up again, trying hysterically to gain purchase against the trunk. His left foot scrabbled and slid desperately while the fresh bloody stump of his lower right leg twitched and seized, bleeding, keeping time with the frantic beat of his over worked heart.
"No," Beckett denied again. He squeezed his eyes closed and pulled with the might and strength of the desperate. A tourniquet. They could stop the bleeding with a simple tourniquet'. He could treat the shock somewhat; it would be difficult but doable. They could survive this. Help would come. Come on man…
Thomas's foot lost purchase and once again disappeared within the swirling mist. His cries split the area. He spasmed and cried, choking and gasping. His grip on the tree branch tightened and then slipped.
For a brief moment of time, it was only Beckett's hold that kept Thomas's upper body from the mist.
The young man continued to scream. Blood curdling screams. His head was thrown back. He jerked and convulsed left and right, up and down.
Something tugged down on Beckett's grip, fought his hold. Thomas jerked in his hands like a baited fishing line hooking the catch of the day.
Thomas screams became gurgles. Bright red blood stained his teeth; then sprayed outward as he fought for an elusive breath and then finally thick blood bubbled from his mouth to simply roll down slack bluish lips and grey tinged jaw to disappear into the mist.
Thomas no longer made a sound. He hung within Beckett's grip; head arched painfully backward between outstretched, hyperextended shoulders, toward his scapulas. His tracheal rings were exposed. Bright red blood dotted and rolled down his too white skin. The jugular pulse became visible, racing for only a few seconds before diminishing in tiny little swells that leveled out into a calm, unmoving stream.
Beckett lay, heaving chest down, against his branch, holding onto Thomas's two wrists with no return grasp to aid him.
The once vibrant blue eyes were dull and stared at nothing.
Thomas should have been heavier. Though he no longer breathed and his heart no longer pumped, the Corporal continued to shudder and lurch within Beckett's grip. Thomas became lighter and lighter with each tearing, wrenching motion.
The slick wrists began to slip through Beckett's clenched fists. Unwilling and perhaps unable to give up, Carson lunged forward readjusting and tightening his grip. He dropped a leg to curl around his branch to gain more leverage.
His right foot dipped into the building mist.
Something sharp latched onto his ankle-high boot and lower leg. He screamed, mimicking Thomas from only moments before. Beckett yanked his foot upward, tearing a hamstring and pulling a gluteal muscle. Muscle fibers gave without him noticing.
A clinging weight tried to drag Carson's leg back downward into the circling fog. He felt teeth or perhaps claws pressure their way through his boot and into his skin. Beckett screamed and threw himself upward, relinquishing his grip on Thomas.
The corporal disappeared into the mist.
Beckett lunged for a higher branch and hauled himself forcibly upward.
Something clung to his foot.
Tears sprang to Beckett's eyes as he shook his leg, gripping the tree branch above his head and tried to haul himself higher into the tree. A weight pulled on his right leg. His knee popped. His hip stretched. He kicked his leg desperately trying to dislodge the unseen creature.
In wild panic, he lifted himself, attempting to scramble further from the ground, using the pure brute strength of his shoulders and abdomen, gaining a few precious inches. He leaned forward, hooking his chest over the branch, anchoring himself. He shook his leg again, sheared at it wildly with his left leg.
Finally the boot fell free. The murderous weight suddenly disappeared and Carson heaved himself up onto the higher branch.
He clambered upward, away from the mist, away from the lower branches which were covered with his sweat and Thomas's bloody spittle.
Carson scrambled and clawed his way higher, desperately seeking to get away from the circling mist and the last body of SGA-4.
Beckett finally stopped climbing, when leaden arms would reach no further. He settled heavily on a thick branch, leaned solidly against the smooth trunk, keeping himself tight to its substantial core and gulped for breath.
He closed his eyes and listened to the wheezing heaving breaths that masked his racing pulse.
His right foot, devoid of a sock and boot, bled freely. Fat crimson droplets dangled from the torn arch of his foot, meandered around his shredded ankle and streamed from his furrowed lower torn calf.
Thick blood droplets hung heavily to freshly ragged skin to finally break away from the body and free fall. Some drops landed squarely on the branches below, splashing slightly, sending tiny waves of motion upward and outward. Others skimmed along the sides of branches, marring the wood. Others still, fell free all the way to the ground uninterrupted only to be swallowed by the mist.
Within the mist, where the fresh blood fell, sharp growls and fierce snarls erupted as the gnashing of teeth and tearing of flesh herald a brutal fight over the taste of unsullied blood.
Beckett, yards above the ground, kept his face buried in his shoulder, fighting for breath as three of his limbs encircled the body of the tree.
His damage foot dangled freely, dripping blood. The steady splat of thick droplets of blood tantalized and teased the unseen predators below.
The only movement noticeable was the heavy rise and fall of his chest as he fought to catch his breath.