SEASON: Season Five - sometime before Remnants
MAJOR CHARACTERS: McKay, Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon
NOTE: As always, I know nothing about technical things. This is just for fun
SUMMERY: McKay is blinded by an Ancient device and then starts seeing things. I couldn't come up with a good title, so this is what you get.

SWAMPED - by NotTasha

PART 1: BOG

The bog stretched out in all directions on the planet P9H-992. It looked fetid, soupy and terribly moist. A fog clung to the countryside, a miasma that seemed almost alive as it flowed over the endless bleakness. The ground seemed ready to swallow them up at any moment. The air was heavy and stank of long dead things. One could almost taste the decay. The gloom dampened and they trudged through it.

Ronon led, picking a path through the unsettled looking soil, avoiding the large pools that appeared to have hardly any depth at all, but one ill step might send a soul into murky oblivion. He carried a stick and gauged the earth ahead of them -- tempting it, trying it, assuring that it would hold their weight. In his other hand, he held his blaster ready.

Behind him was Teyla, who kept her gaze moving, scanning the unwelcoming landscape on all sides -- a stretch of spare trees and miserable looking bushes, ponds and pools and murky lakes, hemmed in by a ring of high cliffs.

She paused a moment, thinking she saw something coming through the mist, and gasped when she was bumped from behind.

There was a softly voiced, "Sorry. I wasn't looking," from behind her, and she moved forward again, following the path that Ronon had blazed.

Rodney followed her, his head down. He sniffled, clutching his coat against the damp, and watched where he placed his feet, careful to step only where someone had stepped before. His feet sunk in a half-inch or so. The wet, peaty earth would squelch and would make a quiet 'slurp' when he pulled his boot loose to take his next step.

Sheppard came last, walking more backward than forward, scanning the land behind them as they moved. He'd given up the lead to Ronon, knowing that the Satedan would have better luck in finding the best trail.

From time to time, a group of frog-like creatures would fire up, filling the air with the shrill noise. They'd die down once the interlopers had passed.

A black-winged bird took flight. The clatter of its large leathery wings broke the strange silence of the place. For a moment they all stopped, transfixed by the bird's flight and the whine of amphibians. The bird looked like an old coat fluttering on a clothesline. It dipped and rose and dipped and stretched out its talons to perch on the branches of another blighted tree. The frog-like things quieted as the bird stood, wearily, warily, and hunched in its place.

The team kept moving.

John watched the dark spaces under dark brambles. Things moved in that dimness. Little creatures whisked and scurried across the land – too small to worry about being sucked into the muck.

The bird shifted on the branch and ducked its head. Black eyes watched them. The frogs were quiet.

John kept moving backwards as he eyed the bird that eyed him. There was a soulnessness to its gaze as if it had seen everything it had ever needed to see.

Suddenly, John's foot sunk in deeply. Startled, he fought to keep his balance, shuffled his free leg, fought for footing, and with a sickening sounding squelch, pulled his foot from the quagmire.

The bird blinked at him, hunching on his perch. The frogs said nothing.

"You okay?" Rodney asked. His voice sounded odd after the long silence. The dampness of the air seemed to harden the tone. "Sheppard?" McKay twisted in his spot as if afraid to take his feet from the path that Ronon had forged.

"I'm fine," Sheppard grunted, frowning at the black sludge that covered him to his knee. "Just fine." He made an attempt to shake some of the muck off, but it wasn't going to happen easily. He considered grasping hold of Rodney for support, but the scientist look precarious at that moment.

He wanted to scrape it off, but he'd prefer to keep his hands clean of the dirt. The mud, would, dry, he figured, or fall off without his help.

Teyla glanced toward them, ascertaining that all was well. Ronon hadn't stopped probing the ground and stepping forward.

With a sharp nod, John ordered, "Keep moving." Teyla complied.

McKay just looked at him, his expression bleak. "But we've been walking over an hour already, and we're getting nowhere."

"We're getting closer," Sheppard told him.

Rodney continued, "Not by much! It's not easy walking in this stuff, you know? And I'm cold. This sort of weather just eats right into me. I'm bound to catch a cold – one heck of a cold."

"That's why we need to keep going," Sheppard stated, keeping his voice even. "Standing still isn't helping." When McKay didn't immediately react, Sheppard stated, "And you're the one who was all excited about coming here."

"Secret lab," Ronon muttered from the front of the line.

"Yes," McKay snapped back. "A secret lab where the Ancients were working on a way of deterring the Wraith."

"And they figured a bog would be the perfect place to hide it," Sheppard grumbled.

"I'm the one who suggested we use a jumper," McKay countered. "That would have saved us a lot of trouble."

"The ground won't support a jumper in that area," Sheppard returned. "It'll sink right into this sludge."

Rodney looked annoyed. "The outpost should be huge," he muttered. "I don't understand why we weren't getting a better reading off the place during our fly over. It must be totally underground, and that means that the landing site should be solid."

"Well, the sooner we get there the better," Sheppard replied. "We don't need to be walking out here, in danger of running into the… what was it called, Ronon?"

"The chubbock," Ronon reminded.

Ronon and Teyla were both vaguely familiar with the planet, having heard of it often, but neither had visited before. "There is a … beast," Teyla had told him earlier, with some embarrassment. "A creature that lives in the bog."

"A bog beast?" Sheppard had tried.

She'd smiled, chagrinned, and told him, "They are tales from childhood, meant to frighten children. Nobody truly believes that the chubbock exists."

"And what is a… chubbock?" Sheppard had asked, cautiously.

"There used to be a civilization here, up on the cliffs," Ronon said, nodding to the high lands above them. "Then the chubbock came. It's fast, taller than as a man." He held a hand up to his own height – so obviously he meant a 'big' man. "Walks upright some of the time. Huge body. Has this pointed snout. Long bare tail. Claws. Lives in the bog. Chews off your face."

Teyla shook her head, and explained, "It is simply a story told to frighten children," but she looked a little rattled by Ronon's descriptions as if she had been one of those frightened children at one point.

"If the people lived up there," McKay said, pointing. "How did the bog beast get them?"

"There is no game in the highlands," Teyla explained. "To survive, people needed to enter the bog."

"They have these on other planets, too?" McKay went on.

Teyla nodded. "Any large swamps has legends. As children, we often believed that a small marsh might even have such a creature, but that was unlikely."

"Great," McKay kept his hands on his weapon as he looked about at their surroundings. "And this is the first we've heard of these creatures? I'm pretty certain we've been near bogs before in our explorations!"

"They are legends," Teyla went on.

"Just stories," Ronon added.

Rodney harrumphed, and didn't look convinced.

"Keep moving, McKay," Sheppard cut in with a discontented sigh. "We should be there soon."

McKay faced forward again and looked about nervously. "Bog beast," he muttered.

"Chubbock," Ronon said from in front of them, his voice tight.

"Stupid name," McKay muttered, and gamely tried to catch up to the others in the slurping sloshing swampy bog.

Teyla waited for him and offered him a quiet smile before she turned and continued after Ronon.

Sheppard sighed and followed, walking mostly backward, keeping an eye on the landscape around them, heading into the fog.

The black bird watched them with black eyes. It watched them until they disappeared into the mist. And then it took flight again, swooping down from its perch in the gloom of the bog.

Something leaped beneath the black bird. The mist and bog and something more substantial swallowed it up

888888888888888888

As they trudged onward, Sheppard regarded the time. They had several hours before dark, but they weren't getting anywhere fast. They'd had to make two lengthy backtracks when they'd ended up surrounded by water.

The fog was settling in, getting thicker around them and reducing visibility. Sheppard hated it. If something was out there, he wouldn't be able to see it until the last moment.

Around them, things schlomped and burbled. Something splashed and something went ploink. Sometimes the frogs fired up and the air was filled with their shrill voices. Sometimes they trudged through a section of particularly foul smelling earth that made them clamp their mouths shut against it.

Rodney sighed loudly – again – and sniffled. The Canadian carried his firearm as if he was lugging an armload of firewood. After another snuffle, the scientist asked, "I hate to ask, but… are we there yet?"

Ronon grumbled. "No," he said tersely.

"How about dry land?" Rodney went on, a whine in his voice as he squelched onward. "I know my boots are never going to be the same. I bet they rot right out from under me, and you just know I'm going to get some sort of awful foot fungus from all this moisture and NONE of you get to complain if I end up with some horrible funk when I take off my shoes."

"No," Ronon said again, his voice a low growl.

"No?" Rodney shot back, not knowing how to take that.

"No sign of dry land," Ronon ground out.

"Oh," McKay replied and kept walking in that same disconsolate trod. "I'm just sayin', it'll be nice to get out of this stuff."

"Yeah," Sheppard replied because he figured he had to say something.

"No sign of the… the bog beast thing, right?" McKay asked tentatively.

"Not yet," Sheppard responded.

"Good," McKay stated. His voice grew high as he started, "You really think we're going to…"

"We're not going to see it," Sheppard reassured mechanically as he scanned the misty surroundings. "We're going to be fine."

"Good, good…" McKay responded. "Because that would be… good… if we never see the thing." And he sighed again, loudly. "If we could just stop for a bit and rest though…"

"Yeah," Ronon suddenly proclaimed as he tossed down his pack. Amazingly, it didn't sink.

"Yeah, what?" Rodney called.

"We're here," Ronon stated.

"I thought you said that we were…" McKay started, but Sheppard shoved past him, eager to get to the firm ground.

"Thank God," Sheppard muttered, stomping a foot and happy to find it didn't shake like gelatin beneath him. Clods of mud dropped from his leg.

Teyla sighed, pausing long enough for McKay to also reach terra firma before she joined them.

"We're here!" McKay said with a sigh. "Finally!"

Sheppard turned around slowly, taking in the sights. In the mist and the fog, the Ancient structures didn't look that different from the trees. Here and there stood a little shelter, an alcove, an obelisk.

It was hardly impressive.

Rodney pulled his data tablet from his back and gamely began punching at it, pausing to stretch and manipulate his fingers. "I can barely work my hands," he grumbled.

"Just get it done," Sheppard ordered as he moved through the foggy structures. They'd flown over earlier with the jumper, and mapped the area – finding little of interest. They'd hoped that there'd be more to see once they were amongst the structures.

Apparently not.

They were standing on a shelf of rock – solid ground in the morass. Maybe there was a facility built into this stone and McKay only needed to figure out the key to let them in.

"I found something," McKay uttered happily. Sheppard turned as Rodney popped open a panel. The scientist grinned.

"Good," Sheppard responded. "Open up the secret door and let us in."

"Patience, patience," McKay responded as he examined the controls. His eyebrows knitted as he watched Sheppard step closer. "Aren't you supposed to be keeping an eye out for that bog monster thing? We really need a couple of guys watching out for that, because, well, nobody wants to have their eyes eaten by a bog monster."

"I assure you," Teyla repeated, "The chubbock does not exist." She stood beside the scientist, ready to help him with his work, ready to protect him if any mythological beast drew near.

"Yeah, well… just give me some room here, okay?" McKay said. "I have to figure out how to read this monitoring device."

Since McKay and Teyla seemed to have the technical things under control, Sheppard turned to the fog. He could see nothing – just different gradients of gray. The mist was chilly, his clothing was damp, and his leg was wet with bog water. His shoes were soaked. Last thing he wanted to do was spend much more time on the surface of this unpleasant place. "You about done?" Sheppard asked.

"Come on!" McKay responded sharply. "I just got started here."

"I could have a look at it if you want," Sheppard said slyly.

"No, no, you just keep watch for scary things. I'm going to see if… oh!" He made a happy exclamation. "There we go."

Sheppard glanced to McKay who was grinning brightly at Teyla. "Ah-ha!" The panel was alight and McKay leaned closer to it as he continued his examination.

"Almost done?" Sheppard asked.

"Give me a minute!" McKay shot back.

"Okay, you get a minute." Sheppard turned his back on the pair so that he could watch area. After a moment, he dropped his gaze to check the time.

There was a piercing zzzzttt and everything went white.

A bright, piecing white.

--------------------
TBC - I'm sure everything is going to be fine