SEASON: Fifth Season
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Team fic - Sheppard, McKay, Ronon and Teyla
DISCLAIMERS: The characters, Atlantis, etc, all belong to Sony, MGM, Gecko, Showtime, the Sci-Fi Channel. I own nothing.
NOTE 1: This story was originally submitted for the SGA Ficathon for the genre-Action Adventure and the prompt Catacombs. The original title was "Hope and a Hole in the Ground"
SUMMARY: The team is trapped! The only escape is through the catacombs
THE BONE PIT - by NotTasha
PART 1: CRAP
The town stretched through the valley, filling it with dark streets, houses, shops and little factories. The city of Ellik had existed for centuries. Its old stone structures remained, heavy and foreboding, decorated with dark ornamentation. Newer buildings were crowded in, looking less formidable, but equally ugly.
Chimneys chuffed. Horse-like creatures drew carts through rutted streets. Piles of manure dotted the byways. People stood along the filthy walkways, pressed against the buildings and holding their children close.
The streets stank. Litter was piled everywhere. The alleys were filled with broken carts and other useless trappings. The buildings were coated with years of soot, with centuries of grime. Narrow windows looked out on the narrow streets, and pale faces gazed out of them, watching the strangers who moved in their midst. Thin children sat in doorways, watching.
There was something so hopeless about these people, as if they knew this was their lot and there was nothing else left for them. Children should not be so listless.
Ronon's eyes fixed on the faces. He didn't like the situation. Too many people were watching. Too many observers had the high ground. The place felt wrong. He was taut, ready for anything as his team moved through the town.
Beside him, Teyla mimicked his movements, looking upward, and then all around, keeping a careful eye on their surroundings. She wasn't comfortable either.
Ahead walked McKay and Sheppard. McKay was talking, gesturing, pointing, and glancing to his scanner. "Look," he said, indicating one big building. "This is the library that was listed in our information. And that's their central council building."
Sheppard nodded to his words, but was watchful as well.
In the lead was a small delegation of Ellikans. They would look over their shoulders to offer encouraging smiles. "It is just a short distance," one of them, Gaispare, said. "We are nearly there."
"Yes," Rodney responded, glancing to his scanner. "I know. I've downloaded a map."
"Good to know," Sheppard muttered and, distracted by movement in a doorway, almost stepped in some sort of mess.
"I swear to God," McKay grumbled, "If anyone shouts 'gardy loo', I'm using Ronon for cover," and he hooked a thumb in Ronon's direction.
Ronon wasn't sure what the phrase meant, but figured he'd duck.
Dex knew little of the particular planet. It was on his list of places that he didn't need to visit ever. Teyla had been the expert, having come to the planet in the past to trade. She made a sour face at the mere mention of the place, and that was telling enough.
But they had recently received intel that a ZPM might be located at the site secretly worshipped by the upper caste of the planet. So, they'd come to check the idol.
McKay kept gazing at his scanner and fiddling with it. He groaned and held it out. "The ZPM must not be active because I'm not getting a power signature. Either that or these walls are too thick to allow any readings to get through."
Gaispare's eyes flitted to McKay's device. "Can you see the Fire Glass with that?"
"Like I said," McKay muttered. "I'm not seeing anything."
"But it shows you the way?" Gaispare looked intrigued.
"We have a map," Rodney said with a smile. "It's probably a couple hundred years out of date, but it has the Temple on it." He looked down in time to avoid some unpleasantness in his path. He ran into Sheppard in the process and nearly forced him to slosh through a particularly ugly pile.
"McKay," Sheppard snapped as he made a little leap to avoid it. "Watch it!"
"I am," Rodney replied. "What do you think I'm doing?"
Sheppard sighed noisily. McKay harrumphed. Teyla let out a slow breath. Ronon kept moving, watching the faces that peered at them eyes the followed mouths held tightly. A row of little children peered from a window, their grubby hands holding back grubby curtains.
"Here!" Clarifor, another of the delegation, cried. "We are here!"
Squat and ugly, the building sat at the end of the street, as if blocking them from going any further.
"This is the Temple of the Fire Glass," Clarifor went on, smiling widely.
Sheppard cocked his head at the place. The building was black and bleak and as old as time. He turned to McKay and asked, "Does this look like a temple to you?"
"Sure, why not?" McKay answered as he held his scanner to check his map. "Yes, this is the place." He frowned. "Even if the ZPM was active inside, I might not be able to get a reading from it. Those walls must be a yard thick."
"Come," Gaispare said. "We shall show you our treasure." And he stepped into a dark open doorway.
McKay moved to follow, but Ronon shoved him back. The Satedan peered into the space, seeing an inner room, and a dim hallway beyond. The interior was even uglier than the outside.
Ronon turned to Sheppard. "I don't like it," he told him.
"You don't like anything," McKay huffed, folding his arms over his chest.
"Yeah," Sheppard said, responding to Ronon. "What do you think, McKay? Is there a ZPM inside?"
With an exaggerated sigh, McKay held up his scanner and declared, "I don't know. I can't read anything through this rock. But this is the place described by the trader."
"Not exactly the situation we want to go waltzing into," Sheppard muttered.
"I'll check it out," Ronon said, looking into the building and glaring at Gaispare who waited within at the entrance of the hallway.
"Me, too," Rodney said enthusiastically.
"Just Ronon," Sheppard ordered.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "I am desperate to get out of this street! It's disgusting here. It smells like a pit toilet, and by that I mean a particularly bad one. And do you think he'll be able to find the ZPM?"
Ronon shrugged. "They're worshiping it, McKay. It'll be pretty obvious."
Sheppard glanced toward Teyla. She nodded, and John stated, "Teyla will go, too. Will that make you happy?"
"Not entirely," McKay responded. "But if you find the ZPM, just come back and tell me." He made a little hand gesture, a flip of the hand. "And if you don't find it same thing."
"Of course," Teyla replied.
"Right," Ronon responded and moved into the doorway, followed by Teyla. Gaispare, seeing their progression, smiled and continued deeper into the structure.
The hallway led to an inner room in the center of the building. The candle-lit corridor was narrow, and Ronon had to duck under the archways, careful of the sunken sill between the rooms.
He made his way toward the inner sanctum. Teyla kept close, moving almost silently behind him down the long hallway.
Ronon didn't like it.
Maybe McKay was right he didn't like anything.
They came out of the hallway and into a smaller room. No windows. No other exit. It was dark and confining. Sooty candles guttered in sconces, on ledges and along what must have been an altar. The flames cast strange shadows and perfumed the room with the stench of old tallow.
His eyes fixed on the altar where something had been draped in an expensive cloth.
Teyla moved alongside him, and scanned the room briefly before her gaze also fell on the cloth and she smiled slightly at Ronon. It was the right size and shape to be a ZPM.
Gaispare gestured. "Here," he said reverently, "Here is our sacred Fire Glass." And he bowed, holding out his arms, palm down.
Teyla waited patiently. Ronon glowered, watching the Ellikan unhappily.
Gaispare's head lifted. He looked hopefully at the others while the flickering candles cast his face in half-darkness. "Please," he said. "It is time. You may approach the Fire Glass."
Obsequiously, he backed away, allowing Teyla and Ronon to move forward.
Ronon sneered at the man and stepped toward the altar. Teyla came with him, eager to see as well, and Ronon smiled a little. If this was a ZPM
There was a sound a creeping, scraping, grating sound.
Ronon and Teyla spun around in time to see the stone doorway begin to drop. Gaispare was disappearing behind it.
Ronon shouted in rage, and dove toward the exit. He knew it was too late, even as Teyla flung herself at him, keeping him from getting crushed under the falling door.
The stone slab crashed down, shaking the floor beneath them. Ronon bellowed in rage as the candlelight sputtered in the rush of air as they were sealed inside.
The shout and the ominous crash sounded from within the building and Sheppard surged into it. McKay was directly behind him, calling into his radio, "Ronon! Teyla? What happened?"
Sheppard listened as he made his way quickly through the first room, and then into the hallway. No response. Damn. Damn!
He proceeded into the candlelit corridor, squinting into the dimness and leveled his weapon at the flailing form that came toward him. He lowered the 9mm, but only slightly, as he heard the voice Gaispare.
"Help! Help! Oh, please, help!" The man looked horrified, terrified, bereft.
"What?" McKay sputtered from behind Sheppard. "What happened? Where are the others? What's going on?"
Gaispare looked frantically between the two. "There's been an accident. I I'm going for help." He gestured down the hallway. "Go to them! Hurry! They need help!"
And then the Ellikan shoved past McKay and ran toward the exit.
Sheppard resisted the urge to grab hold of the departing man, but his team was in danger, and he moved in the direction they had gone. A moment later, he deeply regretted the choice as a familiar sound filled the space.
Something groaned and scraped. Sheppard turned in time to see the daylight disappear from the far end of the hall with a thunderous thud.
Gaispare was gone, and darkness capped either end of their hallway.
McKay ran toward the shut door, reaching for it and gasping before he let out a despairing, "We're trapped. He trapped us!"
Sheppard sighed, let his weapon lower, and said the only thing appropriate to the situation. "Crap!"
TBC - I'm sure everything is going to be just fine
Sorry about the issues with the quote marks. Looks like this site doesn't like 'smart quotes' anymore and took them all out