A Stargate Halloween

Chapter 1

The Stargate quieted to a loud hum behind them as Colonel Sheppard and his team finished stepping through. On planet MH3-669 it was night and the wind howled mercilessly against their faces, causing them to sputter and blink furiously through raised hands in an attempt to look around at the darkened planet.

Overhead, thunder rumbled loudly and a bolt of lightning streaked wildly across the night sky causing Rodney to jump in surprise.

"Colonel??" he called ahead, trying desperately to raise his voice higher than the surrounding din.

Colonel Sheppard looked around and through his own squinted eyes; he made out a large cluster of tall trees just to his right and signaled for the others to follow him towards the cover.

The team rushed into the small shelter beneath the whipping branches and barely threaded brush. They all stood quite close, as the enormous claps of thunder would easily drown their voices.

"I do not think we should remain!" shouted Teyla as her hair flapped crazily in every direction. "We may return when the weather is less severe and gather our information!"

"Yes, I agree!" shouted Rodney.

Colonel Sheppard looked at Ronon, who simply shrugged as a skinny branch slapped hard across his large shoulder.

Just as Colonel Sheppard was about to instruct them to head back to the gate, another bolt of lightning flashed bright across the sky and skidded down hard, crashing just beyond their hiding point, striking the ground between them and the gate.

"Never mind! Let's just stay here!" Rodney said as his face turned pale.

Colonel Sheppard grimaced and just as he was about to tell Rodney to suck it up, his eyes caught a different light, a softer, constant, twinkling light just over Ronon's shoulder. He peered hard, forcing his eyes against the strong gusts to make out its source when after a moment; he incredulously realized exactly what he was looking at.

"Let's move!" he called, as the others looked at each other curiously and quickly hurried to follow his retreating figure out of the tree line and towards the open field.

They crossed the land quickly and with each clap of thunder or burst of lightning, Rodney's step seemed to miraculously increase and soon he found himself even affront the Colonel who had been leading, not caring much where he was running to.

Soon though, he saw exactly where they were headed. He stopped suddenly at the base of a small hill, where perched atop, was a magnificent looking house that almost stretched the entire plateau. With his wind whipped eyes and gaping mouth, he watched as another streak of lightning flashed just beyond the house, illuminating its greatness and filling Rodney's mind with a terrible imagery.

"I am not going in there!" he cried against the howling wind, turning back towards the Colonel who had just caught up.

"Yes, you are!" Sheppard said as he grabbed Rodney's collar and began heaving him up the hill with Ronon and Teyla by his side.

As they neared the house, a massive clap of thunder gave them only a moment's notice of scattered raindrops before burying them under an angry, hard rain, drenching them completely in a matter of mere seconds.

Almost there, they began to notice the ornate decorations that directed their path towards the towering double doors that was obviously the entrance. Perched on either side of them, were rows of stone creatures, all of them with monstrous faces carved in granite, their warped faces frozen as they cried out in agony or despair.

Colonel Sheppard pretended not to notice them as he continued to drag Rodney towards the soft lights cascading down from the many windows above, hoping that inside they would find refuge from the storm.

Chapter 2

The four team mates stood crowded together under the slight overhang of the doorway, glad for any kind of relief from the intensity of the storm. Teyla's teeth were chattering loudly that although Rodney made a pained face, he hesitantly put his hand around her shoulder and rubbed her arm violently, trying to give her some warmth to which she gratefully smiled.

John looked back once towards his sopping wet team before he raised a closed fist towards the looming doors and rapped loudly three times.

Silence.

"Wow…" Rodney said softly.

The others turned quickly and looked at him as he stared intensely at Colonel Sheppard.

"What is it Rodney?" Teyla asked through her chattering.

"Your hair….," he said, reaching out a hand towards Colonel Sheppard's dripping wet head. "Its…..just……flat…."

Colonel Sheppard pushed Rodney's hand away, giving him a dirty look as Ronon chuckled quietly.

An impossibly loud creak came as one of the heavy double doors began to slowly open inwards, causing them all to look on in anticipation. Soon, an old man dressed in black stood before them in the doorway. Although, he was covered in large faded liver spots and his spectacles were thick as steel plates, he stood regally and well postured, as his magnified eyes seemed to look past them, almost unfocused, as he said in a monotonous voice, "Good evening."

Colonel Sheppard gave a lopsided smile and replied, "Well, a good evening to you too sir. My name is –,"

The old man cut him off.

"No need to explain sir, you are expected." The old man turned sideways and held the door in a polite gesture for them to pass.

"Expected?" Colonel Sheppard repeated as he looked back curiously towards his friends.

"Oh, who cares at this point? It's dry in there, isn't it?" Rodney said rudely as he pushed past his friends and entered into the grand house, giving the old man a half feigned smile as he dramatically wiped his feet on the rug.

Sheppard looked at Ronon and Teyla who smiled and shivered as he turned to enter the house with the two of them in tow.

The inside of the house was unbelievable. The foyer in which they stood was enormous, at least the size of the control room back on Atlantis. The walls to the right were covered in magnificent blackened armor and shields, all emblazoned with strange carvings of serpents and rams.

Paintings of many men and women dressed in exquisite robes and gowns covered the opposite wall, most of their expressions smug and the paint eerily faded from obvious years of exposure.

Ronon peered closely at one particular painting. A beautiful woman, no older than him, sat obviously posed for the portrait, a saddened smile across her lips as she peered out a closed darkened window. Ronon stepped closer to the painting as the others shook the rain from themselves and he felt momentarily captivated by the woman's haunting beauty.

Movement in the painting caused Ronon to gasp, stepping back quickly as he wiped the straggling rain from his eyes. He thought he had seen the woman's eyes move from peering out the window to staring straight at him. "Impossible…," he whispered aloud.

A hand on his arm caused him to jump and Teyla stood there looking surprised. "Ronon, what is it?" she asked gently looking towards the painting.

"Nothing….," he replied, turning and looking back at the image one last time before joining the others.

Chapter 3

The four of them were politely ushered into an enormous dining room with a long elegant table extending from one end of the room to the other. There were five places already set with sparkling utensils and glittering goblets all laid out formally on a pristine, crisp, white table linen.

One would say an overdone yet normal setting except for the object that lie directly in the center, which drew all their immediate attention. Placed decoratively in the exact center of the table was a rather disturbing carcass of a serpent, its shimmering flesh frozen tangled and hissing, with candles placed strategically all over its body; the largest one protruding from deep within the serpents gaping mouth and throat, its flickering flame shadowing eerily across its once deadly fangs.

The butler asked them all to sit and announced he would be informing the cook of their arrival. Ronon stopped him as he brushed by, gently holding him by his elbow. "And who is the last place set for?" he asked eyeing the empty seat warily.

The butler smiled and yanked his arm away as gingerly as possible. "Why, good sir, that seat is for the master, of course." And with that, he proceeded through the swinging double doors that must have led to the kitchen without so much as looking back towards them.

"Well?" Colonel Sheppard asked, shrugging his shoulders towards his friends.

"I do not like it," Teyla said quietly and Ronon nodded in agreement. Rodney scoffed and pushed them aside, taking a seat, dragging it outwards, and noisily scuffing the well-polished floor. "Cmon guys! Hello! Free food? Don't you know the saying about a gift horse and its mouth?"

"Don't you mean snake?" Colonel Sheppard said his eyes transfixed on the creepy centerpiece.

"Whatever, its just dinner you big babies….." Rodney muttered, pulling a long fancy napkin from his setting and placing it eagerly across his lap.

"Big b—," Sheppard started to repeat incredulously but the swinging doors interrupted him and the largest woman he had ever seen came squeezing through with a tiny grunt.

She towered over even Ronon who had to crane his neck to look at her face. She was as wide as she was tall and she carried a large serving tray with four white bowls that she began to place down with her extremely chubby fist, her apron and house coat as perfect and clean as the rest of the house.

She did not even glance at them as she placed the food down gently and turned back as quickly as she came, just barely squeezing through the swinging double doors with minimal effort and again, a very tiny little grunt.

Rodney rubbed his hands together gleefully and the others finally took their seats hesitantly. As the three of them stared horrified at the contents of their bowls before them, an intense slurping sound filled the room and they all turned their attention to Rodney, who was devouring his food with huge hurried spoonfuls.

They stared; mouths open until he finally noticed them, saying rudely, "WHAT?"

Dark red trickled down his chin and he used his sleeve to quickly wipe it away. Teyla stared from Rodney's face to her bowl, where the thick blood and chunks of unidentified meat sat stewing within.

A roar of thunder crashed outside and they all turned towards its direction, jumping as they noticed a slender shadow lurking in the darkness of the doorway.

"Good evening," the shadow said as lightning streaked behind a nearby window, illuminating the figure in the most frightening of ways.

Chapter 4

The figure in the doorway stepped into the room and the dim light from the exquisite chandelier hanging above revealed his true form.

He was older then the members of the Atlantis team, dark brown hair streaked with silvery gray and sharp, shining black eyes that seemed opened far too wide, as if they were being held open to prevent him from blinking. His eyebrows were arched strangely and the smile he wore looked plastered on, almost as if a child had painted it there with a brush and red paint.

"Welcome to my humble home," he said grandly, taking a half bow. "I am Count Malum and your presence here is an honor, fine explorers. Please, let us dine together," he started as his eyes swept quickly over each of them. "Although I see some of you have already begun." The eerily plastered smile was seemingly growing across his face as he took his seat beside them.

Colonel Sheppard cleared his throat awkwardly, giving Rodney a dirty look to which he simply shrugged and smiled before Sheppard turned back and spoke to the Count.

"My name is Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and this is my team; Ronon, Teyla, and Dr. Rodney McKay. We apologize for our intrusion and thank you and your staff for your hospitality and shelter from the storm."

"Ah it is our pleasure, believe me Colonel….," the Count said eagerly, his bright eyes flashing strangely as he clapped his hands together loudly twice causing everyone to jump.

The butler came flying out of the double doors from the kitchen with a large urn-like container poised neatly in both hands. The outlet for the container was also the mouth of a serpent, and as the man began to pour their drinks, the fountain of liquid emitted from deep within the serpents throat.

"Wow," Rodney said eyeing the pitcher. "You guys sure like snakes….."

A light brown liquid was sloshing in the cups and Colonel Sheppard brought the cup to his nose, giving a feigned smile towards the Count as he quickly sniffed its contents. 'Tea,' he thought. 'It smells like tea.' And with that notion, he took a small sip.

The Count was speaking to the others about the planet's reverence to serpents when Sheppard began to feel something strange. His eyesight became blurred and across the table he saw two Teyla's and two Ronon's. The voices around the table seemed echoed and distant, and his head began to feel light, almost as if he would pass out.

He started to rise; pushing back his chair and practically fell, pulling the tablecloth slightly with his misstep. Teyla and Ronon rose immediately, saying his name and asking if he was all right.

"I'm fine…. wow, I guess I'm just really tired or something," he trailed, trying to stand straight and caught a blurry double-visioned Count in his sights. "I'm sorry for the disturbance….," he said just as he collapsed to the floor.

Chapter 5

Sheppard's eyes blinked furiously as he stared up, confused, at the faces of his friends. He lifted his head and felt Teyla's reassuring hand hold him steady.

"What happened?" he asked hazily, the fog obscuring his vision becoming more and more prominent.

"We do not know, Colonel. You simply rose and fell. Are you feeling ill?" He could hear Teyla's voice but her face was just a blurb of kalediescopic colors.

"I...I dont know. Its my eyes...I guess I'm just really, really...tired," he said stuttering slightly as he raised a hand to wipe futiley at his eyes.

The Count, who had also risen from the table with the others, began to speak as his hands slicked back his greasy salt and pepper hair on either side of his head with cool unwavering hands. "Well, I simply insist you remain here as our guests. We have rooms already prepared and we would honored if you chose to stay. The weather outside will be quite horrendous I'm afraid for at least another twelve hours, so please, let us take the good Colonel to his room." He clapped his hands again loudly and the butler came rushing into the room already prepared to lead their guests to their quarters.

Ronon and Teyla exchanged dubious glances but Sheppard sealed their fate with, "We really appreciate it, Count."

And so the four of them said good night to the Count, whose plastered smile seemed darker and wider than ever with his nostrils flaring and black eyes flashing as he gave them a curt bow and nod and walked off the way he came just as the obscenely fat cook reemerged, wedging herself through the door once again and began clearing their plates with her ridiculously chubby fists.

Ronon and Teyla placed Sheppards arms around each of their shoulders and walked him back into the foyer with Rodney in tow and up a ridiculously steep and long flight of stairs that led deep into the belly of the magnificent house.

--

With the butler waiting just outside the door, Teyla and Ronon placed the Colonel gently into the extremely oversized luxury bed with silky sheets and a four poster overhang that dropped fancily across all four sides. Ronon removed his shoes, tossing them carelessly to the floor while Teyla pressed a hand to his clammy forehead, feeling for signs of something wrong.

"I'm fine, you guys..." he said quietly, his eyes still shut. "Its just my eyes is all...After some sleep, I'll be fine..."

Ronon sighed and shook his head as he began to leave the room but Teyla lingered for a moment, warily eyeing the Colonel lying motionless amid the ocean of bed linens.

She joined the others in the hall and found her room to be only right next door, while Rodney's and Ronon's were quite a ways down the echoing hall.

Once in her exquisitely ornate room, she removed her jacket and hung it neatly across the back of a chair that faced a gigantic mirror, stretched evenly over a well stocked vanity. She stared at her reflection for a moment, before dousing the light and climbing into her own bed, the lightning bolts illuminating the room from outside her towering windows.

About an hour had passed since her eyes had closed and slumber had whisked her away from her worried thoughts of Colonel Sheppard or the endless pattering of rain on her windowsill. Something cold ran across her skin and she awoke suddenly with a short gasp and sat upright, her trained eyes quickly scanning the room for an unseen occupants.

Nothing.

She threw back her covers and began peering behind the larger objects in the room, convinced something was here with her, something cold and hidden.

Her hand caught a whisp of coldness as she passed her fingers slightly over a carving across the mantle of the large unlit fireplace, a carving in the shape of a serpent.

Prodding with her fingers, she pressed the indent gently and to her surprise, the fireplace began to move backwards, revealing a large hole in the wall behind.

Curiousity settled nicely on her shoulders as she gingerly stepped inside after reaching over to her chair strewn belt and slipped out the thin flashlight that all the team members carried there.

Three steps inside revealed nothing except a hollow tunnel, but the fifth and sixth step sounded strange beneath her feet and as she looked down she momentarily stopped breathing at the sight beneath her bare feet as the fast whoosh of the fireplace slamming silently back in place swept her hair into her open mouth.

Chapter 6

Teyla held her breath with her eyes opened wide as she watched, illuminated in the thin sliver of light provided by her small flashlight, the hundreds and hundreds of slithering, slimy, hissing snakes that covered the passageway floor. She stood motionless and her heart pounded against her chest as they began to circle her bare ankles and slide between her bare toes.

Panicked, she frantically used her light to search the floor for a vacant space for her feet and found none. She was trapped, trapped amid an ocean of serpents that weaved strangely, almost in a melodic rhythm and she knew she would have no choice but to cross them in the desperate hopes that she would find a way out before she was bitten.

Finally, after reminding herself to breathe calmly, she gulped back her fear and began to step gingerly atop the piles of shining slippery skin guided only by her small light. It felt like nothing she had ever experienced before and her stepping felt very unstable as the snakes moved and slithered beneath her.

One false move and she grasped hungrily at the rock wall to her right, momentarily grateful for the suport and relief, only to let out a small scream when a snake fell to her shoulder from somewhere up above which she quickly grabbed and tossed away, watching it land somewhere in the endless pile of its kin.

Pressing on, her mouth clamped shut in utter fear, she came to the end of the long dark tunnel and found two statues standing guard against another rock wall. She almost choked on her despair at the dead end, when she realized the statues not only had words carved upon them, but each had its own lever to pull.

One statue was of a gigantic horse with elegant wings and a long flowing mane. This one read :Winged Pegasus. The other was of a man and woman. Their bodies were entwined in a naked embrace with the scrawling of: Love Conquers.

A resounding echoing hiss sounded louder than the rest and Teyla turned her head quickly towards it. A snake with a rounded head so large that Teyla backed up instinctively, pressing herself against the creviced wall between the statues. The creature opened its mouth and revealed its distinctly long fangs that dripped with a mucusy saliva as it snapped its head straight in her direction.

Unthinking, she reached up and grabbed both levers pulling them hard and felt the ground open beneath her, sending her flying, screaming in the dark.

Chapter 7

Ronon sat on the edge of his bed, long legs dangling off as his back rested comfortably against the seemingly endless mountain of pillows behind him, their plush and velvety smooth texture relaxing him as he desperately strained to keep his eyes open. His jacket had been thrown on the floor and his boots were scattered in two different directions. He was tired and hungry and just wanted to go home.

As his eyes fluttered shut for their umpteenth time, he heard something, something very quiet, almost intangible. His eyes flew open wide and his neck jolted upright as he searched the room, although he felt quite certain it had been only imagined.

"Ro-non..."

An eerie version of his name danced across the air, almost whispered as a song, and as his eyes searched and rested on the source of the voice, he jumped from the bed and flattened himself against the nearest wall, fear and disbelief clogging in his throat.

Across the room was a portrait, unmistakably, the very same portrait that he had examined upon entering the magnificent house, with the woman in white staring sadly out her darkened window, except this version was slightly brighter, more vivid. And the woman was not only facing him for certain this time, but she was moving, moving towards him. He watched with his breath held as her fingers gently prodded themselves outside the boundaries of the picture and wrapped themselves against the aging golden frame.

He felt stunned and did nothing except stare with a horrified expression as she climbed slowly out of the picture until she was standing there in the center of his room, her outline slightly flickering like an old lightbulb about to fail.

She called his name again and walked unsteadily towards him as he pressed himself harder against the wall as he stared at her in awe. Her face was beautiful and yet still textured as though she remained inside the painting. She reached out a ghostly white arm towards him and her staggered steps quickened as she spoke.

"Ronon, I'm so lonely. Will you hold me? I'm so cold..."

She was practically upon him, the tips of her flickering fingers grazing his chin, their coldness unmistakable and clammy to the touch."I-I...," Ronon stuttered, unsure of what action to take.

She wrapped her arms around him and he felt a great chill streak down his spine as he looked deep into her deadened, pleading black eyes.

"Be with me, Ronon. Be with me forever...," were her words as she brought her pale mouth up to meet his. He did not resist at first, only still petrified and wondered if he was imagining the whole thing, before he realized somehow she had dragged him soundlessly across the entire stretch of the room.

He felt strange and opened his eyes. A blur of brown and gray was clouding his thoughts and he turned his head away from her, confused. He tried to move and felt her clammy hands wrapped tightly around his arms, they were strong and her fingers felt like sharp ice pressing deep against his warm skin.

He caught sight of the bed out of the corner of his eye and finally realized where she had brought him and what was happening. She was dragging him into the painting with her. He tried to scream and yanked with all his Satedan might, but the force behind the painting and the desperation in her eyes were stronger than any power he could muster, and all he could do was continue to struggle before he was completely sucked in.

Chapter 8

Rodney paced his room wildly, his mind sputtering with uncertainty and fear, as every creak and groan from the old house triggered his imagination to thoughts that made every hair on the back of his neck stand up straight.

Although he had every single lamp or lantern turned on in the room and the door was wide open out towards the hall, he still paced and muttered words of comfort to himself as his arms were wrapped tightly around each other, holding himself in a mock hug.

"This is ridiculous, theres nothing to be afraid of," he told himself aloud. "Just shut the lights and go lie down, everything will be fine." He hurriedly approached the bed, letting his knees barely touch its pristine edges before turning quickly at a ferociously loud rumble of thunder that shook the large window pane at the corner of his room.

"Is that window even stable?!" he shrieked to no one in particular as he rushed over, trying to think of some way to logically assertain its stability.

He placed his hands gently on the window pane to feel its solidity and momentarily watched entranced as the sky lit up in an array of lightning streaks while the shadow of the raindrops ran eerily down his face through the glass.

Movement caught his eye and he turned his attention to the yard below, which stretched miles behind the gigantic house. It looked as if animal pens littered the area and Rodney could barely make out the chained up creatures, their metallic leashes restraining them from moving very far.

Lightning lit the sky again and the creatures reared their heads toward it, filling Rodney with a sensation of pure dread at recognition of their faces. They weren't just any creature, they were Wraith.

Rodney stood transfixed as he watched them crawl around the yard on all fours, nipping violently at each other, their chained necks straining as they tried to reach. Another movement, and Rodney watched horrified as the butler emerged from within the house carrying a large wriggling black bag, which was obviously extremely heavy from the manner in which he was walking.

The rain was blearing the window and Rodney tried desperately to see through it, getting a better glimpse with each lightning strike.

Once the blur had cleared from the window, Rodney peered down and put a hand instinctively to his mouth covering it, as he watched the Wraith feed on the freshly dumped body that the butler had just removed from the bag. The man was barely dressed and blood covered most of his skin. Through the endless pattering of rain and mighty roars of wind, Rodney could still make out the man's screams and watched horrified as the butler simply rolled the black bag up neatly, dusted it off and reentered the house.

Chapter 9

Teyla landed on something solid and cold. Immediately she felt around for her surroundings though the total blackness that engulfed her, momentarily blinding her eyes, and the deafening silence that rang eerily through her ears like a loud obnoxious hum. Her breaths came short and the brunt of the fall made her body feel electric, every nerve screaming out in sharp pain.

Deciding the space was too slim to maneuver normally, she began to crawl towards a small shaft of light far to her left that she barely noticed after finally catching her breath. Her hands and knees scraped painfully against the rough flooring and she just managed to squeezed through the passage, desperately hoping what lie ahead would lead to her freedom.

Voices traveled eerily across the air and she moved faster towards them, her bloodied palms and knees dulling with the numbness of the gravel digging into her exposed flesh. Just as she reached the source of light, she saw a grate in the wall from which it came. Her eyes cautiously peering through its small holes, just wide enough to slip her fingers through, found a darkened laboratory with multiple gurneys all stained horribly and intricate contraptions hooked to them for which Teyla did not wish to know what they were for.

Voices came again and as Teyla caught sight of their speakers, she gasped loudly, instantly putting a filthy bloodied hand to her mouth to stifle herself.

The Count was standing over a particular gurney, garbed in a butcher's apron streaked with blood and goggles resting atop his silvery hair with a surgical mask just below his chin. Plastic gloves covered his arms, stretching all the way up just past his bony elbows. He was speaking to his butler who stood beside him, a long flowing napkin held regally in one hand and a metallic platter resting in the other, its handles on either side was the mouth of a serpent.

Both men standing spoke easily as if this was an everyday occurrence and made no movements at the sound of the quiet moans coming from the gurney below them. Teyla could barely make out Colonel Sheppard's boots and saw he was lying very still, although much to Teyla's relief, his moans of pain indicated he was still alive and that was all she needed to know.

She carefully eyed the immediate surroundings of the room and spotted a large intravenous pole on wheels that would satisfy her pupose. She gently placed her fingers through the grate, seperating her fingertips at even intervals to cover the entire metal grid and began to push as quietly as she could. Push and pull, push and pull, until the grate started to give and with a soft metallic groan that caused Teyla to cringe at the noise as it finally slid off.

Grateful for the shadows of the room, she exited the now gaping hole in the wall and lowered the grate, making sure it did not clang to the floor as she placed it there gently. She slid herself towards the pole she had previously eyed and grabbed it, carrying it with her easily raised as she stayed hidden in the shadows of the room, making her way to Colonel Sheppard's captors.

Closer and closer she came until they were merely feet from her still unaware of her presence as the madmen continued to speak to each other.

"Is everything prepared?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you feed the dogs?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good, then lets begin."

The whirring of a hand held device sent Teyla running from the shadows as she jabbed the mangled end of the pole towards the Count's now fully masked face. His eyes widened in surprise as the pole caught his cheek just as he noticed her, sending the whirring device flying through the air behind them as Teyla lunged hard. She needn't turn as she heard the machine sear through flesh and she knew the butler had caught its deadly blade, the blood splattering across Teyla's back.

The Count was unconscious, the gaping wound on his cheek dripping down his masked face and Teyla moved quickly to free Colonel Sheppard.

He stirred as she untied his binds, calling his name, waiting for a response.

"Teyla?"

She breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "Yes, Colonel. You are free now." She began helping him to a sitting position and he winced in pain.

"I-I still can't see anything!" he said worriedly.

"It is no matter. I have you now. We must find Ronon and Rodney and leave this place NOW."

John's wandering eyes read empty and he nodded. He trusted her to lead him as he leaned onto her shoulder and limped away with her guiding the way.

A Stargate Halloween FINALE

Rodney stood transfixed at the blurred windowsill, his saucer-like eyes unable to wander from the disgusting vision below. His fingers gripped the windows edge so tightly that his knuckles turned white in effect. He was frozen, terrified, and hardly believed what he saw. His mind kept telling himself to move but his body would not cooperate as they waged a silent war inside.

It was not till a extraordinary bolt of lightning lit his face against the rain splattered window sill that he realized the Wraith had stopped feeding on the man and were now looking directly at him, their deadened eyes beading in on him from the chaos below.

He yelped and quickly stepped back, releasing the window and immediately making a beeline for his still-opened bedroom door. Remembering Ronon's door was only the next one down, he ran at it, practically smashing into it with his chest and began pounding heavily on the door.

"RONON!! OPEN UP, ITS ME!!"

The door remained closed for a moment before Rodney hurriedly entered, uncaring of what he might find behind. A few steps into the room and Rodney felt utterly confused. Ronon's bed was empty and it took Rodney a moment to catch a flailing arm out of the corner of his eye; a flailing arm that was protruding from within a golden-framed picture on the wall.

Rodney fell over his own feet as he began to back away and stared disbelievingly towards it as he watched the scene unfold. Ronon was in the portrait being dragged by a woman in white, whose face held monstrously red eyes. Ronon's left arm was the only thing remaining outside the paintings walls and Rodney barely could make out Ronon's muffled screams.

Recovering quickly, Rodney ran to the painting, grabbing hold of Ronon's extended hand and pulled as hard as he possibly could. Ronon's screams became more prominent the more he pulled but Rodney focused on the pulling rather than Ronon's body suctioning its way out of the portrait. Ronon was almost fully released from within when he lashed out a heavy boot catching the ghostly woman off guard as she shrieked loudly while she inadvertently lost her strong grip on his arm.

Ronon came flying out toppling over and he and Rodney piled up on the floor together. Rodney grabbed Ronon by his shirt and yelled, "We need to get out of here NOW!"

As they got to their feet and headed for the door, Ronon made a face as he looked back towards the woman who was still screaming in the portrait, her face seemingly boiling with rage. Her shriek was reaching an ungodly octave and as Ronon and Rodney raced down the hallway towards the staircase, they began to notice the other portraits cluttering the hallways come to life as they woke from their endless slumber.

Men and women, beasts and monsters all moving within their own portrait, the shriek of the lonely woman filling them with her white hot rage as their eyes followed the two passing men as they themselves began to slowly emerge from their own boundaries of framing.

Ronon and Rodney barely could make out Teyla's voice at the bottom of the staircase calling for them and they rushed down to meet her. She was holding Colonel Sheppard 's arm around her shoulder as he looked around blankly and she stared wide eyed behind them as they rushed down the grand staircase at the strangely growing mass of creatures and things following that were all flickering like an old light bulb about to fade.

Seeing their haste and angry mob, she flung open the front door and led the blind Colonel out, with Rodney and Ronon in tow, into the great darkness and unrelenting storm. The four of them dashed down the long path back towards the sloping hill. No one seemed very surprised when the monstrous granite creatures that lined the darkened path began to come to life, squealing and groaning as they turned their ugly, mangled faces towards the escapees, their clawed hands reaching out violently, just missing the edges of the already soaking wet clothes.

Running as fast as they could they finally reached the control panel, narrowly dodging several bolts of lightning that seemed solely fixed on their position. The moaning crowd was practically upon them as Rodney punched the final symbol in and the Stargate activated enveloping them whole and sending them home.

As soon as the Stargate quieted, the sky turned a bright blue and the rain stopped fully as all remnants of the storm dissapeared into nothingness. The remaining creatures and ghosts returned dissapointedly to their portraits and resumed position for the next visitors of their planet.

In the dark basement laboratory, the butler staggeredly rose and began putting the pieces of his mangled body back into place, much like a puzzle, and the Count wearily rose from the floor, the gaping wound on his face miraculously healing as he did.

The Count looked at the butler. "You do realize they were the first to ever make it out alive."

"Of course, sir."

"Well, that's embarrassing. We need to make sure that never happens again."

"Yes, sir."

The Count started to walk away and turned back only once.

"You know why they survived, don't you? It was their loyalty to each other that saved them. Good thing it's such a rare thing to find or else the pets would never eat."

--

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!