SGA1 finds a planet the ancients thought was dead. A lot happens in 10,000 years, including the landing of an expedition from a future Earth, and the subsequent fight for survival against a space-born, carbon-eating spore they called Thread! Atlantis/DRoP crossover. Mid-season 4, and after the book "All the Weyrs of Pern."
MGM/Sony owns Stargate, and "The Dragonriders of Pern"(r) is owned by Anne McCaffrey.
SGA/Dragonriders of Pern (r)
Here be Dragons!
"Dial the gate." Colonel Sam Carter shot a look at Rodney McKay from where she stood behind the gate tech.
He was clutching his tablet to him as if it were a lifeline, knuckles white. "I told you already, the ancient database says it's a pretty much dead planet, subject to periodic sweeps of meteorites that totally trash the surface. This is just a complete waste of time, not to mention power."
The swoosh of the activated gate reached the control tower. "We're connected, ma'am," Chuck said quietly.
"Good, send the MALP."
"According to this, a rogue planet on a random elliptical orbit goes thru the Oort cloud on a semi-regular cycle, dragging swathes of…" Rodney paused in his reading, squinting at the screen "…something, that spirals off onto the 3rd planet when it's close enough," he continued as if there hadn't been an interruption.
"What is 'something'?"
"I don't know, what am I – a linguist?"
"Ok, fine. It looks like when these meteorites, or whatever, hit the atmosphere the heat of entry turns them into carbon-devouring, uh, spore…things. The last time the ancients surveyed the planet it was right after an incursion of these plant and life eating things from space, and there was very little plant life left on the planet, let alone anything sentient." He looked up from his computer. "I think we can safely say that unless the rogue planet somehow got knocked off it's course, there's not going to be any life on the third planet. It's going to be totally uninhabitable," he announced with his usual arrogance.
"We don't know that for certain," Radek Zelenka told him testily.
"Receiving MALP telemetry," Chuck announced.
"I should have made a bet with him about this," Radek told Lt. Colonel John Sheppard quietly, who smirked.
"Yeah, hindsight is 20/20." He turned to Rodney. "Well, McKay, no life, huh?"
Rodney stared at the large screen showing the grainy image transmitted by the MALP. "I don't understand." Large evergreen trees waved in a steady breeze, the detector showed acceptable, breathable atmosphere, albeit a little cold. "The database was quite clear about the danger on this planet, and that it was pretty much dead."
"Well, a lot changes in ten thousand years." John clapped him on the shoulder. "I'll run it by Carter, but I'm sure she'll give the ok."
The image from the MALP was still playing on the screen in front of them. Snow started to swirl down as they watched. "Um, can you request a jumper?" Rodney asked somewhat pitifully. "You know how the cold affects me."
John should be used to his whining by now. "What, you can't suck it up like the rest of us?" Rodney gave him the look, and John rolled his eyes. "Fine," he snapped and walked toward Sam's office.
Twenty minutes later the puddle jumper descended into the gateroom. Colonel Carter stood on the balcony overlooking the gate.
"You're good to go, Colonel," she said into her radio. "Be safe, and check in regularly."
"Yes, ma'am," John replied. He looked over his shoulder at the rest of his team. "Ready to go, kids?"
"Just go," Rodney replied.
"What's a matter, Rodney? Still sore about being wrong?"
He was prevented from a snarky answer as the jumper passed thru the event horizon.
Once on the other side, John kept the craft on hover and called up the HUD to see if there were any energy signatures in the area. Nothing showed up, so he turned to Rodney. "Any major life sign concentrations?"
The scientist was bent over his laptop already, muttering to himself. "Already looking."
John turned to Teyla and Ronon. "You guys recognize this place?"
Ronon simply shook his head, but Teyla said, "I do not believe my people have ever been to this planet." She leaned forward to look out the forward screen. "The trees seem to be different from what we have seen so far."
"You're right, they do look more blue than green. And a little white." Snow still buffeted the small ship. He leaned forward and tilted his head to look up out the window. "Can't tell if the sky looks any different."
"That's because there's a cloud cover, in case you hadn't noticed," Rodney muttered from his place in the co-pilots seat.
John turned to him, eyes narrowed. "No, really?"
Rodney didn't bother to answer. He'd already turned back to staring at and pecking at his computer.
John directed the jumper up out of the clearing in front of the stargate. They rose up over the trees and got a nice view of more alpine scenery and higher cloud-framed mountains to the north.
"Wow, look at that!" John exclaimed, slanting a look at Rodney, trying to keep a smile off his full lips.
"What? What do you see?" Whiplash was a distinct possibility as Rodney came up for air.
"Well, actually nothing. No craters, no dead things, just a nice planet with lots a trees," John replied serenely. "And cold, wet snow," he added impishly.
A sneer twisted McKay's lips. "Very funny, Colonel." He sighed and closed his laptop. John looked at him with surprise. "Well, I don't understand, but the sensors are recording a perfectly normal ecosystem, fully functional, a near perfect environment for humans."
"Well then, lets go check it out, shall we?" He turned to Ronon and Teyla. Ronon looked bored and Teyla… well, Teyla was her normal tranquil self. "If the ancients thought it was uninhabitable then it is likely so will the Wraith."
"No Wraith is good," Ronon spoke quietly.
"Exactly," John turned back to the controls. "I'm thinking Alpha site material."
"If, and I stress if, there isn't still a danger from that rogue planet and Oort cloud," Rodney added in a testy tone.
"What's an 'Oort cloud?'" Ronon asked.
Rodney turned to look at the large mercenary. "Um, Oort clouds are concentrations or dust and small rocks that settle at the edges of some solar systems. They're actually not that common, although Earth's solar system has one, as did the system Atlantis used to be in." He paused, and John could see the wheels turning. "Actually, it's strange – I've never heard of anything deadly coming out of one. Hunh!"
Ronon's eyebrow went up. "Uh, okay."
John suppressed a small grin as he turned the puddle jumper south towards a less forested area.
Suddenly, Rodney turned to John, a pleading look in his eyes. "Colonel, if there's time, could we, ah…?"
"If there's time." John knew exactly what the astrophysicist wanted to look at. In fact, he was slightly curious himself.
Two hours later, the argument for a new Alpha site was slowly losing ground.
First off, there wasn't any flat ground anywhere near the stargate large enough for even a campsite. Rodney wondered, out loud, of course, number one - why the Ancients would even put a gate on this world when it had been, supposedly, uninhabitable, and number two – why put it in steep mountains. John repeated his "A lot changes in ten thousand years."
As they flew south, the land below dropped in elevation, it stopped snowing, and the sensors registered life. A couple of large concentrations of life. They flew over one and didn't see any obvious signs of civilization. Teyla speculated that they might have built into caves in the low mountain range below them. They had run across similar communities on other planets – easier to get away from the Wraith.
The HUD pinpointed the other concentration a few miles away. Terrain showed it to be in the middle of a high mountain.
"You mean that?" Rodney squeaked and pointed out the window. John focused past the HUD and onto the obvious volcanic peak visible in the distance. The ship shut off the display in reaction to his change of focus.
"That looks like a volcano," Teyla volunteered from behind them.
"Uh, yeah, an awful lot like," John turned to Rodney. "You'll understand if we explore elsewhere. After that super volcano on…"
"Oh, scared of the big, bad," he paused, "dormant volcano?" A malicious grin framed happy eyes. He could finally get some back on the leader of their team.
"Shut up, McKay. And how do you know that is dormant?"
"Well, for one there's some sort of life forms living in the bowels of it, and for another," he flipped his laptop screen around and pointed at the sensor picture, "the magma tubes are completely empty." He brought it back around to face him. "Although, I wonder what this is."
"What?" John thought the jumper on autopilot and leaned over to see what Rodney was exclaiming over.
"Just …" he pursed his lips and typed in a command. "Just that there's an odd energy signature further underground, deep where pockets of heat would still be."
"ZPM?" Ronon asked, also leaning over McKay's shoulder. Teyla, now interested, leaned up also.
"If it is, its almost depleted, but no, I don't think so. I haven't seen this before, unless…no, no that wouldn't make sense. Oh, but if they did it right…no, it still doesn't add up." He looked up. "Ah, but maybe it does."
Ronon sighed, still not used to Rodney's flights of leaping thought patterns. His hand caressed the butt of his gun longingly. "What are you talking about?"
"Yeah, stop rambling, McKay," John ordered. "Look, what ever it is we can come back later if we don't find anything else."
"Oh, all right."
"There are more life signs coming into range," John pointed. "And an ocean."
"And we know how much you like waves." Rodney snipped.
John smiled happily at him.
They set down on an open length of beach, far back from the gently incoming waves. They had checked in with Carter before proceeding. She wanted them to make contact with any locals if that was possible. As well as survey for any possible food sources. The atmosphere in the jumper was getting a little too antsy and close, so John opened up the hatch and everybody got out to walk around.
Far out beyond the surf, far enough to be slightly hazy, were some tall standing stones. John stood silent for a moment gazing out to sea, hands loosely gripping his P-90. Warm sun streamed down over his shoulders and silence engulfed him, relaxing him. Sudden movement out by the stones focused his eyes. Something, a few somethings, were flitting over and around the stones, dipping down into the ocean, then disappearing altogether.
Rodney's strident voice reached him, although no words were distinguishable. John sighed, rolled his eyes and turned. Teyla was approaching him.
"Hi, nice planet, huh?" He smiled.
"Yes, it is." She paused, glancing from side to side. "Colonel, I feel…uneasy."
He raised his eyebrows. "Wraith?"
"No, this is…different. More…peaceful. No, that is not the right word. Less chaotic than the Wraith, much simpler." She tensed, frustrated at not being able to describe it properly. "I am sorry, I should not have bothered you." She tilted her head from side to side as if easing tense muscles. "It is barely there, and could simply be my own imaginings."
John put a hand on her shoulder to turn her around and walk them both back to the jumper. The hand still on his gun tightened imperceptibly. "No, no, you need to tell me stuff like this. Even if it's not the Wraith, there're other bad guys in this galaxy."
She smiled at him. "Thank you, John."
"Besides, you've never been wrong before. And," he leaned in closer, "between you and me, Rodney hasn't been scared shitless and Ronon hasn't shot at anything in weeks." He grinned. "I think we might all be wanting a little action."
Teyla grinned back. They reached the ship. "Found anything, McKay?" John asked, interrupting a little spat between him and Ronon. Good timing, too, Ronon was fingering his gun again, and standing in Rodney's personal space.
"Depends on what you mean by anything," he snapped. "It looks we might be in for more weather." He pointed to the sky in the east off the coast a ways. A smudgy gray fog was approaching fast. It was unlike any of them had seen before. Not cloud, yet not like fog either. A frisson down his back caused the muscles in John neck to tighten and the hair to stand on end.
The team watched in silence as the cloud grew nearer. Now they could see streams of what looked like elongated rain, falling into the ocean. Sound drifted to them, hissing like snakes, or like heated metal kissing the surface of the waves.
"Get in the jumper now!"
No one hesitated to obey his order. In fact, Rodney had been edging toward the hatch, so he was first in. Teyla and Ronon followed, with John bringing up the rear. Ronon and John took a stand at either side of the still open hatch, both fighting ready, guns out. John had a good view of the approaching…uh, weather.
It crept up the sandy beach, silvery rain falling in sheets and clumps, trying to burrow in the white sand. It was closer to the jumper, and John was very glad of the Ancient gene as he thought the door closed. They could watch from the front of the ship. Everyone looked up suddenly as several thumps were heard from the top. The rain was more solid than it looked, hitting the canopy in rapid succession.
John activated the shield when he reached his chair. The thumps disappeared. Then he happened to actually glance out the window. He stared. The air disappeared from his chest as he forgot to breathe, and his mouth got extremely dry at what he saw.
The bushes that had been right outside the jumper window were…gone. In their place was a horrifying long gray, wriggling…something, that grew even as they watched. Rodney made a gagging sound, and John had to swallow hard to calm his stomach. Ronon and Teyla were silent, but he couldn't take his eyes away long enough to glance at their reactions. More and more bushes were succumbing to the silver rain that turned into monstrous slug-like things.
Suddenly a swath of fire tore from the right, searing the slugs into ash. A large dark figure momentarily blocked the window, taller than the jumper, then was off again, apparently into the air. Rodney's impression was of huge bronze wings and magnificent whirling eyes as large as his head. There was no more silvery rain falling from the sky, or hideous slugs on the ground.
John leaned forward slowly to look up at the sky, not sure what he would see. What he did see stole his breath away again, but in awe not terror. Large winged shapes flew back and forth, breathing plumes of flame, searing the rain from the sky before it could come close to the earth. The flyers formed then re-formed into obvious flying patterns, designed to maximize effective elimination. His heart beat faster as one of the flyers snapped wings to back, diving for a clump that had been missed. Flame erupted, seared the clump, and the wings spread back out, catching the wind to soar back up into pattern. His mind refused to correlate the similarities of the flyers to an earthly mythological creature.
"Sheppard!" Ronon's voice snapped him back into the cockpit of the jumper. He turned in time to see Teyla collapse. Ronon caught her and eased her down onto the floor. Rodney was also snapped out of his wild-eyed stare at the ash now littering the sand.
"Teyla!" John reached her, kneeling down to grasp her hand. Her body was tense, her eyes rolling and fluttering, like she was in the throes of a Wraith mind attack.
"What happened?" Rodney asked, leaning over John, who looked up at Ronon for an answer.
"She was just standing there, looking out the window. Then she stiffened, and fell."
"Teyla," John called as he tapped her cheek gently. "Teyla, come on. Come on back."
She must have listened to his cajoling voice, as all of a sudden she went bonelessly limp, and opened her eyes with a long gasp of air. She looked around quickly seeing John bent over her and Rodney and Ronon standing. John helped her sit up. Confusion masked the normal brightness in her eyes.
"What happened, Teyla?"
She focused on John. "I heard them. So many voices, so overwhelming."
"I do not know, Colonel. Only that there were a lot of them, talking back and forth, giving and taking orders. Almost," she paused and looked off to the side, thinking. She brought her eyes back to his. "Almost as if they were fighting something together."
John looked thoughtful and turned his head to look out the window.
Ronon knelt beside her. "Wraith?"
"No, most definitely not." She was getting her breath back now, and the trembling was easing from her limbs. "But there were very many talking all at once, and I...it was very difficult to understand any of them."
John stood and held out a hand to her. "Are you all right?"
"Yes." She grasped his hand and he pulled her up. "Yes, I will be fine." She took a deep breath and smoothed down her coat. "I was able to block them out the same as I did with the Wraith queen."
John opened his mouth to speak, when a large shadow blocked the light from the front. He and Rodney turned at the same moment, wondering what new shock was in store for them. All they could see was bronze filling the screen. Suddenly whatever it was crouched down and a little light was let back in. A figure dropped into view onto what might have been a forearm, tilted to act as a step. A bi-pedal figure, that bent over to peer into the window. The man reached up and pulled back a hood and took off protective goggles, showing himself to be as human as they were, albeit a little dirty. For a moment there was dead silence in the jumper. All mouths were, if not fully agape, at least a little slack.
"Well, shall we introduce ourselves?" John was the first to recover. He motioned to the figure outside, pointing toward the back of the ship. The figure nodded and jumped down. The creature stood again, and moved away, letting the light in fully. "Come on, crew." He hooked his P-90 back onto his vest, as Ronon reseated his gun. The rear hatch descended.
"Greetings, strangers." The man was waiting for them as they walked down the ramp. He stared with gleaming eyes at the jumper. "I have never seen such metal before. Does it fly?"
"Hi!" John put on his best 'meet and greet the locals' face, smiling slightly, keeping his gun down. "I'm John Sheppard, this is Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex, and Teyla Emmagan." Rodney jerked his chin in greeting while glancing at the sky, and Teyla gave a genuine smile and nod of greeting. "And, yes it does fly," he added, somewhat proudly.
"My apologies. I'm H'dor and this is Avamath of Benden." He gestured behind them. They turned…and four jaws dropped simultaneously.
A bronze beast, several times larger than the jumper was scrubbing its face in the sand. It opened huge gleaming eyes, faceted like a jewel, and brought its diamond shaped head up to observe the new people. John heard an indrawn breath through considerable nostrils, then had to close his eyes against the acrid stink that accompanied the out breath. He opened them in time to see the creature rear back and spread wings the same color as its body, but far, far finer. Light shone through the thin membranes that covered the wing bones. It raised its head to the sky, and crooned softly.
John followed its glance. "Wow," he uttered softly. There were a few of the creatures in the sky flying back and forth, and in the distance, he saw a formation flying off. Suddenly they disappeared.
He looked over at Rodney who was also looking at the sky, pointing up with a shaky finger. "Are those…?"
"Yeah, Rodney, I think they're dragons."