Title: Creature Feature
Title: Creature Feature
Characters: Rodney (H/C), Ronon, Sheppard and Teyla
Disclaimer: The characters, Atlantis, etc, all belong to Sony, MGM, Gecko, Showtime, the Sci-Fi Channel.
A/N: There's this new LJ community called 'SGAH/CChallenges'. It offers weekly challenges. Responses must fit the given criteria like being between 300-4000 words and having to be done in one week, etc. This one shot is an answer to the #2 Challenge "Worse than Dagoba" A team challenge with the following-Planet characteristics: Swamp, tall trees with tangled roots obstructing paths, poor visibility and difficult movement. Hostile environment with leeches, insects, crocodiles, snakes and lizards.
This is what I ended up with.
Thanks to NotTasha for betaing and the helpful suggestions
"I just need a minute." McKay hunched over, breathing heavily in the steady, drizzling rain. "You've got to give me a minute," he said again, wiping a wet hand across his brow.
Reluctantly, Ronon stopped. "We don't have time, McKay." He studied the overgrown path before them. "We need to keep moving"
"You don't have to be so demanding about it," Rodney protested, not looking up. He knew Ronon was right. This world was nothing like what they had expected. In searching for possible new evacuation,sites P9N-297 looked perfect from its description. Tropical setting, plenty of water…even the MALP had assured of good air and lack of obvious threat. Stupid machine had lied. McKay shook his head. All they'd found when they'd arrived was jungle and rain and sweltering heat. Insects the size of Ronon's head were the least of their worries. Even with all the glaring warning signs, Colonel Sheppard had insisted they take an hour to check the place out —just in case the jungle thinned and yielded something worthwhile. After all, what better defense against the Wraith was there then giant insects that could suck their life from them? Of course, as SGA-1's luck would have it…they found nothing but more swampy jungle.
"This was a bad idea," Rodney complained again, pressing his hand into the cramp in his side. Why had Sheppard sent him with Dex anyway? Dex had so much less patience with him and ran way too fast.
From Ronon's tone, Rodney knew his time was up. They had to meet Sheppard and Teyla back at the gate without getting eaten by any of the native wildlife. He swore the one crocodile-looking creature they'd seen had been the size of a houseboat "I know. I know. I'm coming."
McKay stood and took a deep breath. Rain continued to pelt at him. "Let's go," hesaid to Ronon's back.
"McKay? Ronon? Where are you?" John's voice sounded over their radios.
McKay reached up to tap his earpiece. "We're not far, Colonel. But…" He froze, his eyes widening as he felt it. Something heavy and solid slid quickly over his shoulder and across his back, wrapping around his waist as it went. "Oh God."
"What? What's wrong?" Sheppard demanded as the thing continued to press on him.
Ronon whirled around and aimed his weapon, his eyes widening in shock before he schooled his expression. He put a finger up to his own lips. "Don't. Move," he whispered. Rodney obeyed, but it was too late.
The snake was already around him. It curled its slick green and brown body, coiling faster than Rodney would ever have imagined. Oh God… oh God… oh God…
"I can't," he tried to speak, but the monster tightened and his words squeaked into a painful gasp. "Help," he whispered, looking up at Ronon for help. "Get it off."
Ronon moved deliberately, avoiding the creature's massive head. He reached, grasping hold of the snake's thick body and pulling,but the thing was huge and strong.
Rodney could feel it, crushing him. "Hurry," he tried again, but the snake just tightened. Every time he breathed out, the slithery giant constricted. God, he couldn't breathe. His vision blurred as his knees gave out, the creature quickly twisting tightly around his legs. How long was the freaking thing?
Black spots danced before him. Pain flared through his chest. There was mud in his ear. Ronon's dark shape hovered over him, voices rang in his head. He could hear Teyla and John both now, demanding answers but he had no voice of his own. The darkness crept in, taking over and drowning out his other senses. The last thing he heard was Ronon's harsh demand to hang on.
Ronon tried to tune out McKay's complaining,but it was getting difficult. He listened as Rodney demanded a break. With a grunt, he forced himself to stop, but couldn't bring himself to look at the scientist.
What had Sheppard been thinking? Sending McKay with him? The man just wouldn't stop complaining. It wouldn't be so bad if the planet itself weren't so wretched. This place was miserable and it irked him that he agreed with more than half of McKay's complaints. For once, he couldn't wait to get out of this mess of rain and muck and get back to Atlantis.
He listened as Sheppard radioed them, knowing Rodney would answer. He debated with himself,knowing he really did need to check and see just how worn out McKay was and how much could be chalked up to the scientist's flare for being overly dramatic.
It was Rodney's panicked "Oh God" that drew his attention, making him wonder what McKay's problem was this time. He turned, and finally looked a t the man – and his blood ran cold. His weapon leapt to his hand, but as he drew it and commanded McKay to stay still, he knew it was too late.
The snake was the largest thing he'd ever seen. Its head alone was as large as one of Sateda's harvest melons, and its body was so thick he doubted he could get both hands around hit. The weapon useless, he holstered it and rushed at Rodney, immediately trying to pull the creature off of him but his efforts only aggravated it. It hissed and tightened.
McKay was turning purple. Rodney's legs suddenly gave out and,as he went down, the snake gained more purchase. Ronon could hear the contents of McKay's pack cracking and saw Rodney's eyes flitter closed.
"Hang on, McKay!" Ronon shouted.
"Ronon? What's happening? Where are you?" John was shouting into the radio now.
"We are coming!" Teyla was assuring. He could hear their frantic breathing as they ran. But they'd be too late.
He strained, trying to pull the snake free, but it was useless. He would not win this fight.The only way to save McKay…was to shoot the snake, but any attempt at shooting it would hit McKay. Could he stun it? Would that stop the thing or would it just anger it into killing McKay quicker?
He pulled with all his strength, and the thing refused to budge. The thing continued to squeeze the life out of Rodney He had to decide. Now.
Standing, he stepped back and flipped his gun to stun. "Please work," he pleaded through the rain and fired.
The blast flashed over the snake and Rodney,and then Dex was on his knees, in the mud pulling at the stilled monster.
It was as heavy as it was thick and stunning it hadn't relaxed its grip on McKay at all. Frantically, he pulled at the dead weight of it, not knowing how much time he had before it awoke and tried again. He pulled and fell back, splashing in the thick muck, his dreads smacking his face. Rain mixed with sweat and stung his eyes as he continued to try to free McKay's limp body. His fingers dug into the smooth scaly skin of the snake, straining for purchase as the rain and mud made the body slippery. It slipped from his hands a third time and he yelled in frustration before pulling his knife and starting to hack at it.
Blood mixed with the mud and rain. It coated both him and Rodney, but Ronon knew he couldn't slow down. The entire time he worked, he watched for any sign that McKay was breathing, but there was none. "Breathe, McKay!" he yelled as he sliced the final coil away from Rodney's body. Flinging the remains of the snake away, he heard something crashing through the foliage. It was coming in their direction. He aimed his weapon,but relaxed and turned his attention back to Rodney as soon as he caught sight of Sheppard.
"What happened?" John demanded as he dropped to the ground beside them, his eyes widening at all the blood.
"Snake," Ronon explained. "It was crushing him. I had to stun them both to get it off."
"Get that pack off him," John ordered and helped hold McKay steady as Ronon cut the pack and vest away.
Sheppard rolled McKay onto his back and cocked his head over Rodney's mouth, listening, as he wrapped a hand around Rodney's wrist. "He's got a pulse, but he's not breathing." Without pausing John pinched McKay's nose and lowered his mouth over Rodney's.
Teyla moved gracefully through the slimy mud and guts, stepping over Rodney, and kneeled beside him, waiting to help.
Ronon watched and sat back, alert for any new dangers even as he focused on Sheppard's actions. He'd seen this before,but only on fake people the others called dummies. He'd learned it,but had never done it on a real person. He hoped it worked. For a moment,the jungle was quiet, the only sound he heard was John's deliberate breaths and mumbled counting.
Suddenly, John pulled back and Rodney gasped and breathed, but didn't come awake at all.
"I stunned him," Ronon reminded.
John just nodded. "What the hell was it? A snake did this?"
Teyla held McKay's hand gently, wiping mud and blood from his face with the sleeve of her jacket. "We must get him back to Atlantis."
John nodded again, running his fingers through his wet hair. The rain continued to drench them. He met Ronon's gaze. "What do you think?"
"Don't know what it did to his ribs, but I can carry him."
Looking through the trees John nodded. "Let me check him and then we'll get out of here."
Again Ronon simply watched as John ran sure hands along Rodney's chest and sides. He seemed concerned when he pulled back. "I think the pack protected him from the brunt of the force,but I also think he's got some broken ribs." He looked at Ronon. "Rules out carrying him."
"Can we build a stretcher?" Teyla asked, already searching the area for anything they might use,but everything was wet and soft and muddy.
"It'd take too long." John stood, looking torn. "I'll go back to the gate for help. It's not that far."
"I'll go with you." Both Teyla and Ronon spoke together.
"No." John shook his head. "I can…"
"You can not go alone." Teyla stood with him. "Ronon can stay and watch over Rodney,but you need someone to watch for you as well. There are too many unknowns here."
John looked like he wanted to argue, but instead nodded. "Keep in radio contact," he ordered Ronon. "We'll be back as soon as we can."
Ronon stood,watching the path long after John and Teyla had disappeared from sight. How exactly had he managed to get left behind with McKay? He should be the one going for help, not… he glanced down at the unconscious scientist and frowned. Rodney was a mess.
Checking the area for any threat, Ronon made sure there was nothing lurking around them before he knelt beside McKay. Leaning in, he listened quietly to the slow steady breathing, reassuring himself that Rodney was stable. He grabbed the discarded pack and pawed through the crushed laptop and scanner and mangled MRE's until he found a clean t-shirt at the bottom. He pulled the cloth out and ripped it into sections before he used it to clean McKay's face. The rain made the process easier, but once finished,he adjusted his position so that he could use his own bulk to shield McKay from much of the elements. He knew it'd probably be easier to prop McKay against him,but he didn't dare move him for fear of injuring him further.
Once settled, Ronon sat and waited. Minutes passed with nothing but the jungle moving around him. The rain picked up, falling in a downpour now. Rivulets of blood and snake goo flowed around and away from them as the rain rinsed them. He checked above for any signs of more snakes. The bushes nearby moved, but nothing approached. Eyeing the overhead vines warily, he kept his gun read.
McKay stirred, groaning as he tried to move.
Ronon placed a hand on his shoulder, gently keeping him still. "Don't move."
Pain. Rodney felt nothing but pain. His chest ached, his head throbbed. It hurt to breathe. He felt the rain and the squishy mud beneath him and tried to move. Oh. Oh. Bad idea. He groaned as his body protested with a whole new level of pain.
A hand touched his shoulder. Gentle but solid. "Don't move."
Oh god. Ronon. The snake. It was crushing him. He stilled and tried to open his heavy eyes. Was the snake gone? He found Ronon looking down at him. "You're safe. Rest."
"What?" Panic flared with the pain. He couldn't focus. He tried to sit up,but cried out as he fell back. Oh god, that hurt.
"You're safe." Ronon moved closer.
Rodney felt the hand on his shoulder slide and curve around his neck. Ronon's thumb ghosted his jaw and instinctively he turned toward the touch, focusing on Dex.
"You're safe now," Ronon repeated. "But your ribs are messed up. Sheppard and Teyla have gone for help."
His ribs? He was hurt because of the snake. "The- The snake?" His lips felt dry and he licked them, squinting through the throb of his headache. He was trembling and he knew
Ronon could feel him shake.
Relief filled him. "Good. Good." He closed his eyes again and felt Ronon's hand move back to his shoulder, maintaining the touch. Keeping a connection he needed at the moment.
He could feel himself calming. His shaking was lessening,but didn't stop completely. He listened to the rain, splattering in the mud next to him making strange plopping sounds. His chest ached making him want to move to alleviate the pain, but moving made it worse. "It's too quiet." His voice sounded stronger to him now. He took a deep breath and grimaced. "Oh that hurts." He looked at Ronon again. "It was just a snake?" It sounded like something from a bad creature feature.
Ronon nodded, his dreads dripping rainwaterover Rodney's face. "It was a big snake."
"Big snake." Rodney tried to remember. He raised his hand to touch his chest, trying anything to make the pain dissipate, but Ronon was quicker, catching his hand and stopping him.
"Easy for you to say," He couldn't help grumbling but he obeyed and let his hand fall back to his side.
Ronon's hand returned to his shoulder.
Rodney followed Ronon's movements as the former runner checked the trees above them,but the rain must have been working at keeping any more creatures away.
"What?" He looked at Rodney, a look of guilt flashing briefly over his features.
Thinking a minute, Rodney realized why. "You shot me didn't you?"
Ronon shrugged. "Had to stop the thing."
"Of course." McKay tried to be sarcastic but there was no real harshness to his tone. "He shot me."
He knew Ronon was grinning now.
"Ronon?" Teyla's voice startled McKay. He hadn't realized his radio was still on or even in his ear. Ronon's grip on his shoulder tightened reassuringly as he responded.
"We are on our way with the rescue team and Dr. Beckett. How is Dr. McKay?"
"He's awake," Ronon answered, his voice betraying his relief in hearing that help was on its way. "Hurting."
McKay frowned. Was he that obvious? Did it matter? It was true.
"We'll be there as soon as we can."
He watched Ronon nod. "Good."
"Any other problems?" Sheppard cut in.
"Sit tight. We're on our way."
Ronon looked down, realizing then that McKay was watching him and following the conversation. "I'm not going anywhere." There was something different in his expression and Rodney realized he wasn't talking to the others now.
Recognizing the message for the assurance it was, Rodney closed his eyes. He concentrated on trying to relax and block out the pain. "Thank you," he managed quietly.
The grip on his shoulder merely tightened.