Supply and Demand 4: Scarce Skills (SGA/SPN) 2/?
Rating: Gen – PG13
Disclaimer: I own nothing and profit from nothing. But if I did, SGA would still on air and Dean would have super powers.
Summary: Life on Atlantis is about to get very interesting as the Trust launch their newest plan. Good thing Dean is still onboard, as the 'interesting' gets weird… fast.
Warnings: This is AU for SPN season three onwards and set post season five. No real spoilers for either series but you should really know them both
AN: Apologies for the long delay in posting. RL kicked me in the teeth last few months and the muse fled.
Dean slammed the cupboard door shut as he shrugged into the soft leather jacket. It clung to him snugly, lined with a soft fleece that seemed to mould itself around his torso. He zipped it up, double checked his offworld pack and palmed the door open.
Teldy was waiting for him near the entrance to the Gateroom, dressed in the non-descript clothes most of the military folk seemed to prefer offworld. She was chatting to a blonde scientist lady, whose white lab coat glistened amongst the collected blacks and blues of the duty personnel. Catching sight of him, Teldy smiled and winked at him, wrapping up her conversation. The scientist shot him a guarded look and trotted off to whatever brainy activity she had planned.
"Nice coat," Teldy smiled appreciatively, and pulled him closer, wrapping one arm around his waist. Dean grinned back and kissed her softly. "Wallstreet's payment for the Sauq-wheat deal. Fights like a glove."
"So I see," Teldy laughed. "I wouldn't put it past Wallstreet to have had it custom made for you. You know he wants you on his squad permanently, right?"
Dean nodded, smile fading a little, but his barriers were up and strong, so he was certain that none of his ambivalence about being 'wanted' shone through. Changing subjects, he stepped towards the Gate Room, gently pulling her along with him and said, "You sure you're ok with Old Hayn?"
Teldy shrugged and turned to check the departure board over Gate Control. "Yeah, I am, but I preliminarily booked a second stop to Mitchell's Folly, if that's ok. Could do with some sunshine and sand."
"Just as long as you packed your bikini," Dean smiled. Teldy's smile said she had not and had no need of one. Dean slipped his hand into her back pocket and sighed, "Hotpockets, music and sex on the beach… awesome." His grin was wicked and Teldy shared it.
The wormhole dial in for Old Hayn was scheduled to take place in four minutes, so Dean and Teldy slipped through the buzzing crowd of off-rotation personnel, and joined the line of people heading to the music festival. Dean nodded at Corporal Novak who was standing with Response Line One, and the odd guy nodded back, face serious and projecting 'I am on duty'. A clear, determined and no-nonsense voice called clearly over the crowd of waiting people. "No medical clearance, no travel, Dr Freeman. No exceptions and don't give me that wounded puppy look."
Ah, Charlie was on Border Control today. Cool.
Dean caught a glimpse of red hair near the front, and Teldy murmured in his ear, "Freeman hasn't gone offworld in years, but he tries every so often. I think he only remembers he's on an alien world every couple of months. Between Carson and Keller though, the man will go home first before he gates offworld."
Charlie's voice rose over the hubbub again, clear and strident, but you could hear the supressed laughter within. "I do not accept bribes, Doctor! Not even if you invented a sonic screwdriver, or a light-saber and put my name on top of the list."
"I'd cave for a light-saber," Dean sighed, and Teldy rolled her eyes. "You'd cave for peanut m'n'm's."
"True," Dean beamed down at her.
A disconsolate and browbeaten Dr Freeman pushed past them, his face the picture of abject misery. He was clutching a collection of grubby papers and books, his glasses askew and his hair in stereotypical disarray. The lingering odour that wafted in his wake was a pungent mix of garlic, old spice and BO. Dean grimaced and muttered, "Yeesh." The poor guy disappeared into the crowd, which parted before him like the red sea.
Up on the platform, Chuck queued the comm. system and said calmly over the speakers, "Old Hayn Scheduled Gate." The Gate chevrons light up in sequence and with a mighty 'woosh' the wormhole engaged, filling the room with blue light. Up ahead, Charlie started clearing people for departure and the line slowly but steadily moved. Dean shot a glance up at the stained glass windows, the storm outside was still raging, with no sign of abating. It was definitely a good day to be offworld as thunder rattled overhead and for a second lightning illuminated the room.
Recalling the storm yesterday, Dean flicked his eyes upwards, tracking the unseen storm clouds overhead. "Lightning doesn't affect the StarGate does it?" he asked Teldy quietly and she paused before answering. "Sometime, but not often. It's usually only Gates out in the open, you know.. highest point and all."
Dean frowned at her and grumbled, "Great, real comforting. Especially right now"
With efficiency born of needing to clear the Room for normal Gate Mission travel, the line was now quickly moving and Dean and Teldy reached Charlie and her invisible border control post. She looked up from her tablet, nose crunched in concentration, mouth half open with a question and said, "Papers…" She looked up, and trailed off, eyes darting towards Dean's face and she paled visibly.
Without missing a beat, Dean smiled and handed her his clearance card. Gathering her wits, Charlie took the card with an apologetic grimace and scanned it into her tablet, noting down his scheduled and potential destinations. She smiled wanly at Teldy whose face was unreadable and took her card too. Clearing her throat and speaking more to the Major than him, Charlie coughed, "Estimated return time?"
Somewhat coolly, Teldy replied, "18h00 Atlantis time."
Still trying to regain her professional demeanour, Charlie flicked her red ponytail of her shoulder and said, "Ok, make it 18h05 to 18h10 AT time. There's a big party from Athos coming in at 18h00."
"Understood," Teldy said, taking back her card.
"Ah, the usual protocols apply, ma'am er… sir?" Charlie blushed, and Teldy raised an eyebrow in reply, which made Charlie go even redder.
Dean's figures briefly touched Charlie's as she handed him back his card, and she went beet red, cheeks flushing prettily. "Sorry, sorry," she stammered, taking a small step back from him, eyes darting everywhere but him. Teldy stiffened next to him, but Dean nonchalantly slotted the card into his pocket and smiled at her. "I'm pretty certain that if he'd given you a real sonic screwdriver that you'd had let him Gate somewhere."
Startled, Charlie stopped, frozen in her awkwardness. For a long second Charlie stared at him, her eyes darting over his face, fingers clasping her tablet like it was a life preserver. Dean felt Teldy's surprise spike, along her with irritation, but there was an undercurrent of curiosity now too. Eventually, Charlie smiled, a small tiny smile bathed in blue StarGate light and she shrugged sheepishly. "Maybe. Probably."
Dean nodded, slouching a bit, hands in his pockets. "I heard that the guys over in applied physics were trying to build a light-saber the other day, until McKay caught them and confiscated the crystals they were using."
Charlie's eyes lit up and she laughed, "Really? McKay's probably trying to make one himself now."
Teldy titled her head and said smoothly, voice betraying none of the mixed emotions she was projecting, "Five bucks the Colonel figures it out first."
"No bet," both Dean and Charlie said, their grins matching.
Some of the bounce returned to Charlie's step, as she stepped aside and waved them through. "Enjoy the trip," she said brightly, grin back, even if it looked a bit forced. Dean nodded and he and Teldy strode towards the shiny Gate. As they approached the horizon, Teldy hissed in his ear, "What the hell was all that about?"
"Tell you later," he whispered back and stepped into the Gate.
As the wormhole disengaged and the Gate Room returned to the duller, gloomier mood lighting generated by the storm, Charlie cursed softly and vehemently to herself, at herself.
"Way to go, Granger. Way to lay low and avoid the Empath. Idiot."
She turned and checked the board. The Gate to New Athos was up next and she had to get her head back in the game. No time and no use berating herself, she'd have ample time later tonight. Charlie waved at Chuck who was watching her, no doubt having noticed her flups with Winchester. He waved back and returned to his console.
Charlie let out a deep breath, gathered herself towards herself and said softly, "Come on, girl. What would Willow do?" Charlie paused, scanned the GateRoom, the milling crowd and Gate looming over her. She whispered, "She'd snap out of it, lay down an awesome one liner and pretend nothing funky had happened."
And with that, she shook her head, pony tail whipping around and smiled at the next group of would-be travellers. "Ah, Dr Freeman. We meet again."
At first glance, Old Hayn looked like something off an expensive Swiss chocolate box; breath taking, picturesque alpine scenery. Jagged snow covered mountains glistened in the moonlight, and soft undulating hills dipped and dove into the valley, crisp and silver with snow. Trees silhouetted against the skyline added to the beauty, pin pricking the white snow with dots of shapely black, arcing up into the midnight blue sky. The town lights of Old Hayn burned warm, a welcoming yellow, nestled in the folds of the valley, and distant sounds of music and laughter drifted up in the breeze.
At a second glance, its similarity to Switzerland or Earth vanished. The three moons overhead illuminated the night so brightly the stars were vague points of light. The fourth moon would rise later in the night, adding yet more light. The mountains were too young, too jagged, their peaks resembling broken fragments or daggers, slicing into the heavens, untamed as yet by years of weather, storms and erosion. The trees were bulbous plants, with nary a leaf to be seen, slick and slippery, the snow falling off them and forming stalactites on the ground. And the massive not-horses that waited near the gate, hitched to sleighs to take revellers and travellers down to the town were a clear give away. Six limbed, stocky and thick like oxen, their equine-ness was brought through by their shapely, majestic heads and incredible manes. But otherwise, they sure as hell were not horses.
Dean hugged Teldy close against the icy air, the cold sharp in comparison to Atlantis's warmth. His breath steamed as he exhaled, and he was glad of the fleece lined jacket. "Let's walk," Teldy said, happily burrowing into her own jacket and Dean's side. It wasn't that far to the town and they weren't the only ones walking rather than paying the price of the sleigh. She nodded at the Lieutenant ostensibly in charge of this 'away' mission, despite not being the highest ranked officer on planet. The Lt. nodded back with a smile. They'd have to alert him if they left prior to the group scheduled return to Atlantis. Teldy checked their radios and comm. line and they set off.
The road down to Old Hayn twisted and turned through the hills, and was well salted, so they set off at a decent pace, the walk helping to keep them both warm. As they drew out of earshot from those gathered around the Gate, Teldy sighed, "So talk, Winchester. What was that all about?"
Watching the road, eyes primed for movement, Dean shrugged, a small smile on his face as he said, "She was embarrassed." Teldy's expression demanded more than that, and Dean raised an eyebrow of 'you sure you want to know?' "Spill, Winchester," Teldy poked him in the ribs and he grunted in protest.
"Charlie was projecting some pretty lustful feelings … about you."
Teldy stared at him, trying to see if he was pulling her leg, but Dean grinned back, honesty painted all over his face. "What?" she stammered.
Laughing, Dean nodded and said, "Yep, totally into you and when she saw me, she kind of imploded with embarrassment."
"Because you could tell?" Teldy asked, her boots thudding dully on the stone road. They both kept their eyes on the path, watching for patches of ice.
"Yep," Dean smiled and hugged Teldy tight. "You're on everyone's list, baby." He winked at her and Teldy rolled her eyes, but had a pleased smile. "How do you know it wasn't you she was hot for, babe?"
"Maybe when I started speaking geek, but until then… nada."
Teldy hmmed, her expression still pleased and relaxed. Her profile was highlighted in the bright moonlight, sharp, clear and beautiful. "She's kind of cute, wouldn't say no."
"In your dreams."
"Every night, babe. Every night."
The beach on Mitchell's Folly was wonderfully soft and comfortable – and not in the way a beach looked soft and comfortable until you sat down on it and discovered that sand is still just broken up rock. Not so on Mitchell's Folly. Here the sand had been worn and eroded down to the finest of granules, and due to mix of metal and chemical compounds unique to that environment, felt oddly buoyant. It made for fantastic sex on the beach.
Dean ran his fingers through Teldy's hair as she rested on his arm and against his side, running her fingers over his bare chest and stomach. The sky overhead was awash with celestial bodies, natural satellites and tiny moons, stars dimly viewed between them, and this was midday on Mitchell's Folly, the tiny trio of suns strong enough to warm the planet, but between the atmosphere mix and chemical composition of the ocean, there was no true 'sky' – only picturesque space.
"You hungry?" Teldy murmured.
"Always," Dean rumbled, eyes tracking a stream of meteorites racing across the heavens. Teldy laughed but didn't move, content for now where she was. Dean closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of an alien world. The crash of the waves onto the shore was muted, dulled by the soft sand, and wind moving through the trees on the shoreline was musical as it knocked the large nut shells clinging to the trees. An awesome concert, loads of delicious mini-pies, a girl on his arm, and a lonely beach all for themselves – bar for the two other couples who had come with them. Life was good.
Silence backed by the song of the ocean stretched out over them, quiet with contentment, the breeze keeping them cool. Teldy was tracing the curve of his ribs idly, the motion slightly ticklish. She sounded half asleep as she murmured, "You sleeping with anyone else, Winchester?"
Dean opened his eyes, the startling wash of stars and moons overhead making his heart skip a beat. The surface emotions from Teldy were calm and composed, but there was a deeper undercurrent of nervousness he did not pursue. "Not at the moment," he replied.
Her fingers didn't stop, their pathway rhythmic and repetitive circular motions. "You know we aren't exclusive, right?"
"Yep," Dean said, careful to keep his own emotions controlled and subdued. His walls were strong and firm, and had been for weeks.
Teldy's face was pressed against his arm, her eyes on the horizon, and crashing waves. Some of her nerves were dissipating, her usual calm confidence uppermost. "This has been awesome, Dean, but sometimes… like right now… it feels," she paused, her fingers trembling a bit. Dean flicked a glance at her face, what he could see of it. She met his gaze, eyes clear and honest. "It feels serious. Like it could get serious."
The hook up had been easy, two people in need of release and comfort. Teldy's list of available men on Atlantis was short – mostly due to command structure restrictions. Dean's T&E enforced dry spell had been top on his list of things to fix. Now a month later, they spent most nights in Teldy's quarters, mostly because hers were bigger. Dean wanted to say, 'And serious is a problem?' but instead he smiled back at her concerned expression. "You want to slow things down?" He projected nonchalant acceptance.
She shrugged, her whole body echoing a burst of mixed unhappiness. Slowly she moved her hand off his chest and sighed, "Don't take this the wrong way, but it would help if you were sleeping with other people, Dean."
He laughed, tightening his arm around her, bringing her closer. "Who says I haven't?"
Teldy smiled up at him, her eyebrows arched in 'oh really?'. "Maybe at first, but in the last few weeks?" Dean laughed again, and said, "First time any woman been pissed that I haven't been sleeping around." He pulled her close, almost onto his chest. Teldy opened her mouth to protest and she stiffened a little. Dean quickly interjected, his smile bright and genuine. "Anne, you are one awesome lady and I like you a lot but don't worry about this getting too 'serious'."
Her face softened but some of her scepticism leaked through. Dean continued, "I get it. Your love your job and like just fooling around. This, us, is awesome and fun. Nothing serious."
A massive breaker crashed, some of the liquid splashing their legs, as the tide turned. Teldy studied his face, eyes darting, trying to ascertain something. She smiled hesitantly and said, "Emotions are hard to turn off." She leant in and kissed him softly, her lips warm against his.
They kissed for a while, Dean running his hands over her back, Teldy's weight comforting on his chest as they moved together. The incoming tide broke the kiss, another wave lapping against their legs, the ocean liquid cool and tingling. Breaking apart, breathing a little hard, they looked at each other, faces close. Dean smiled gently and said, "So that Princess Leia outfit is definitely out? What about Lt Uhura?"
Teldy rolled her eyes, and pushed off him, standing up, looming over him. "No way in hell, Winchester." Her grin though was soft, a little sad. She turned and ran into the ocean. Dean sat up, feet digging into the strange sand. He stood slowly, and brushed off most of the sand before trotting into the waves after her. The ocean on Mitchell's Folly wasn't water, but a clear liquid with a slight pink tint. It felt refreshing and soothing, but you could only swim for a few minutes before it began to numb nerves and skin. If you stayed in too long, you wouldn't feel the horde of tiny predators that darted in and fed on your skin and flesh.
Dean and Teldy emerged from the ocean shortly and ran up the beach towards their clothes, which were piled underneath a tree on the shoreline. Things still felt a bit tense, unresolved, and Dean picked up residual uncertainty from Teldy, wariness almost. As he bent down to grab his pants, he quickly tried to think of someway to lighten the mood, to reassure Teldy that they were ok, that he was ok with the conversation. That he was ok with her wanting to keep some distance. With his mind elsewhere, Dean pulled the garment towards him and something small, black and very much alive let out a squawk of protest. Startled, Dean tensed, and automatically sought a weapon, eyes darting towards his sidearm or knife. Teldy turned abruptly, also searching for a weapon.
The little black creature squealed and flapped awkwardly in the sand, one wing caught on the fabric of Dean's BDU pants, the other dragging in the sand. Fragile legs scrabbled to find purchase and it let out another screech. Dean paused, heart pounding and stared at the thing.
Teldy laughed. "Looks like a dragon, doesn't it?"
Dean nodded, tension turning into astonished curiosity. He crouched down and peered at the struggling baby reptile. It sure as hell looked like a miniature dragon, right down to the long tail, delicate head and little claws. Murmuring soothing nothings, he reached out and tried to free the caught wing. The little thing wasn't happy about that and hissed and screamed at him, trying to get away. It pulled and yanked at the snare it was caught in and howled piteously.
Gently Dean closed one hand around it, to keep it still and the tiny beast exploded with motion, biting and clawing at him. Undeterred Dean quickly but cautiously unhooked the dew claw caught on his pants. Rather than try pick it up, he opened his hand and the little dragon surged out, chittering at him furiously. It flapped around on the ground, a noisy caterwaul accompanying each movement. It hadn't seemed to notice or care that it was free, instead it was howling up at him, eyes red with anger, mouth open, teeth bared.
"It's trying to scare you off," Teldy laughed.
Dean reached for his pants again, and the dragon screeched at him, darting for his arm, one wing dragging on the sand, the other flared up, flapping wildly. As it reached him, it latched on his arm, and started biting his thumb, tail wrapped around his wrist, little claws digging in like pins. "Sheesh," Dean hissed, but he didn't shake it off. It hurt, but barely registered as really painful. Looking up at Teldy who was still smiling, her face open and amused, Dean said, "Looks like one of its wings is screwed up."
"Yeah. Probably why it was on the ground. Probably can't fly."
The little dragon was still determinedly attacking his hand, and had drawn blood several times and was actually trying to chew on him. Wincing a bit, Dean leant forward and pulled his coat closer. Holding his dragon wrapped right hand gingerly he fumbled in his jacket for the last mini-pie. It was a meat one he'd been saving for the walk home. Teldy bent down and helped him unwrap the pie, her eyes crinkled with laughter. Once open, Dean broke the pie in half, and offered a small piece, dripping with delicious sauce, to the dragon. It hissed at him, red eyes sparkling magnificently, but when it stopped growling long enough to actually smell the meat, it squawked loudly.
Without letting go of his wrist, it launched forward, long neck reaching and keened for the food. Dean placed the meat on his open right palm and the dragon attacked it, scuttling up his arm, tail still wrapped tightly. It devoured the pieces in seconds.
"Chew, dude, chew."
The dragon howled for more, and Teldy popped the last half on Dean's hand. It vanished instantly, the dragon licking up crumbs and sauce, its little pink tongue darting over his skin. It arched its neck, staring up at them and cried for more.
"Well, now you've gone and done it. What now?"
Dean shrugged, sharing a bemused look with her. The stupid thing's cries were reaching uncomfortable decibels and they both winced at one particular long warbling note. Instinctively, not really thinking about it, Dean projected comforting, soothing emotions at it, willing it to calm the hell down.
The howls stopped instantly and the dragon stared up at him, eyes fixed.
"Did you just whammy it?"
"Maybe," Dean gulped, the little dragon transfixed on his face, claws flexing into his hand.
Teldy dropped to her haunches and reached out to touch the little guy. The dragon hissed and spat at her, wings flaring, and clung even tighter to Dean's hand, eliciting another wince from him. "You can't exactly take it back with you, Dean."
Dean frowned, bit his lip and asked, "Do you think xeno-zoology would be able to fix his wing?"
For a moment, Teldy looked at him, studying his face, and she nodded slowly, "Possibly. Depends on what's wrong I suppose, but we shouldn't interfere, really. It's against regulations and quarantine protocol."
Snorting, Dean shook his head, "Interference is the SGC's motto. Are you seriously telling me that no one ever rescued some animal in need of help?"
"If every Tom, Dick and Dean brought back a cute injured creature and kept it as a pet, we'd be overrun with wildlife. Besides what would you do with it when you go on missions? We shouldn't contaminate other environments with alien fauna, who knows what the consequences could be?"
"I don't plan on keeping him, Anne. I just want to see if Xeno can fix his wing, give him a fighting chance. I'll bring him back here after."
Teldy sighed, checked her watch and frowned slightly, "We're going to be late if we don't head back now." Looking up at him, she said firmly, "I think you should leave it here, but do what you want."
Dean nodded, and resisted the urge to soothe her a little, her irritation sharp and fierce. He dressed quickly, but awkwardly, trying to balance the little reptile who was unwilling to be shifted of his hand, judging by the amount of hissing and growling. Shaking sand out of his boot, Dean glanced at Teldy. She was watching the ocean, her expression distant, eyes shining in the clear light. Cautiously Dean coaxed the dragon towards his inner jacket pocket, projecting thoughts of warmth and comfort. The tiny creature blinked up at him, and gingerly crawled towards the pocket, grumbling a bit. It fit neatly in the palm of his hand, little tail strong and whiplike, features delicate and sharp, and it made a relatively small bulge in his jacket. The dragon curled up and Dean could hear it rumbling, maybe purring to itself.
"Ready?" he called to Teldy and she nodded, turning half towards him as she did. She set off ahead of him, legs eating up the distance in long strides. Dean trailed her, very much aware of the distance suddenly between them and not too sure when it had happened.
Sheppard sat down with a groan, feeling the burn of overworked muscles as he did. Between the black run this morning and deploying out to help the people of PX3-412 haul in their harvest ahead of a swarm of voracious insects, his body was protesting any continued movement. Tossing bailed up Sauq-wheat to waiting carts and then later into secured barns leant new meaning to the sensation of strained arms and shoulders. Racing a determined platoon of marines up the Central Tower stairs had been fun, but his legs were definitely feeling it now.
Messhall Three was still the flavour of the day, Maguire's roast wherry dinner drawing in the crowds. Messhall Two's gumbo pie just didn't hold a candle to that. Ronon happily placed an extra plate of roast meat on the their table and Sheppard's mouth watered as the collective smell of meat, vegetables and tobar root roasted to perfection wafted over them.
Rodney was two tables over, heatedly debating something with Zelenka and few other applied physicists. His face was red with emotion, hands waving in excitement, and the others were all talking a mile a minute as well. Only Zelenka was relatively quiet, mostly because he was furiously scribbling on his tablet. Ronon grunted as he sat down and mumbled over a mouthful of food, "What's more important than food?"
"For you, nothing. For them, science."
Ronon rumbled in reply, happily tucking into his meal. They had both worked hard today, Ronon doing more than his fair share of work on PX3-412, outpacing everyone, bar a few Marines who kept up with him. The whole large room was filled with happy smells and voices, the general furore not too loud, and conversations still possible.
Overhead, on a primary wall, the chronometer ticked over, indicating local Atlantis time: 18h20.
Charlie was still in the Gate room when the 18h10 dial in from Mitchell's Folly wormholed in at 18h20. The Athosian party had been late, so in true post scheduled mission form, the majority of the R&R dial-ins were late. She was up on the platform, helping Chuck catalogue data from the daily downloads, even though she was officially off duty.
She looked up absently when the wormhole engaged and the iris shield dropped. After a few seconds, the handful of people from Mitchell's Folly began walking through. Absently, she checked the confirmed roster and gulped silently, her heart skipping a beat when she saw Dean Winchester's name.
Shoving aside the surge of fearful emotion, she turned back to her portion of data dumps and focused on the screen, studiously not watching the Gate. Mitchell's Folly was the last dial in, and McIntire called out loudly, "And Winchester. That's it. Everyone's home, and accounted for."
The light from the Gate snapped off, dropping the room back to the warmer glow of the Ancient lighting. The storm had passed, but the sky outside was still overcast and the air was decidedly chilly. Unable to stop herself, Charlie peered over her laptop screen and watched as Dean strolled towards Decon. Teldy was ahead of him, nearly out of the room.
Charlie frowned as she picked up an ambient spike of anger from her and idly, almost unconsciously, Charlie followed the spike, trying to isolate it's source. Teldy was normally so calm and assured, the picture perfect female soldier, and she radiated strength and confidence. The tangible anger was unusual. Charlie pressed a bit at Teldy's barriers, absently feeling out the woman's emotional state.
Abruptly a wave of cold disapproval washed over her and a wall slammed between her and Teldy. Startled, shocked and instantly embarrassed, Charlie pulled back and blushed furiously. She didn't need to look at Dean to know he'd slapped her empathic questing feelers away. The raw power of his wall and ability was stunning in its intensity.
Ashamed, both at being caught and for slipping back in bad habits, Charlie sat up straighter and looked directly at him, projecting a sincere apology. Dean was staring straight at her, his face unreadable, his own empathic walls high and solid, leaking nothing of what he was feeling. His gaze though, his eyes bored into her.
Charlie felt a chill run up her spine – not of fear, but of warning. Be careful, young padawan.
Everyone knew Dean was an Empath, but here she was – hiding in plain sight, laying low, avoiding the same people who had their hooks in Dean. T&E.
Charlie nodded slowly, giving him a sheepish smile and she tried to project understanding and thanks at him.
Dean though shook his head and walked away, without looking back.
Fortunately, Chuck seemed oblivious to it all. Sighing to herself, Charlie checked her barriers and went back to work.
Nice job, bonehead.
The clock shone bright and red: 18h30
Dr Hoshi in Xeno-Zoology had asked Dean to leave the little dragon with him for the night and after a lot of fuss and Dean encouraging the little guy to stay in the fairly spacious lab, the tiny dragon was settled in an aviary cage, curled up with a pile of raw meat.
Hoshi hadn't exploded with excitement at the sight of the dragon, so Dean figured the Xeno-zoology department had already documented the dragons on Mitchell's Folly. Hopefully he'd be able to help.
Feeling a bit at loose ends, Dean strolled towards Messhall Three slowly, hands in his pockets, glad for the warmth of the jacket. The halls of Atlantis were quiet, most folk at dinner or working late. He passed a perimeter patrol and nodded at the Marines as they greeted him. At times like this, Atlantis felt like the abandoned city it had been, silent with memories of days gone past, ghosts flitting through the halls.
It wasn't particularly late, probably close to seven, and the main dinner rush would be tapering off. Dean turned towards Messhall Three, thoughts on the day and the somewhat sour note it had ended on. As he approached the corridor leading into the Messhall, he slowed, picking up a growing crest of emotion.
The building momentum of emotion abruptly exploded, a torrent of fear and surprise rushing at him down the corridor. Seconds later, people started screaming and there were sounds of gunfire. Slamming up his walls, Dean sprinted towards the Messhall, adrenalin pumping through him.
He crashed into a few people running away, their faces white, eyes wide and as he entered, he ran into a chaotic battle.
Scientists and civilian types were scrambling over tables and chairs, trying to get away or create space for the Marines who were shoving forward trying to reach Sheppard and Ronon. A glowing orb was hovering over the table Sheppard and his team normally used, and out of the ever growing orb flew hundreds and hundreds of … things.
Winged and clawed, the creatures plummeting out of the orb shrieked and snarled, and dove at anything and everyone, long claws racking faces and exposed skin. Two marines were trying to reach a lady who was collapsing under the sheer weight of winged attackers, her screams lost in the maelstrom of theirs. The creatures varied in size and as more flew out of the orb, they seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.
Ronon and Sheppard were at the centre of the battle, nearly completely surrounded by shrieking gun metal grey monsters. Wings, claws on hands and feet, wide open mouths full of teeth and bulbous black eyes, they looked like something out of a bad 80s movie, but they were fast and persistent. Ronon was shooting at them like a mad man, and alternatively fending them off with one of his knives. But his face was bleeding and the creatures kept pulling and tangling in his hair. Sheppard was crouched low, wielding a broken chair like a baseball bat, batting the diving monsters like pro.
Dean moved without thinking, snatched up a metal dinner tray and waded into battle. He beaned a few creatures flying towards the open door and the creatures collapsed with a shriek. All around him, Marines and the odd scientist were similarly batting at the winged monstrosities. No one was shooting, aside for Ronon, for fear of hitting someone else.
A storm of the creatures crashed towards Dean, howling and screaming, and he raised one arm to protect his face, and continued to pummel at them with his tray. The swarm hit him with real force and weight and nearly drove him to his knees. Several latched onto his arm, and bit and clawed at him. Fortunately the leather offered moderate protection, but all too quickly, he was bleeding in half a dozen places, the creatures crashing into him and clinging to arms, legs and chest.
Swatting them off was a temporary relief only, because as soon as he clobbered one, another two took its place, biting and clawing at him. Luckily he didn't have a lot of exposed skin, but his jacket and pants were taking a beating.
Hurt and frustrated, Dean pulled at the electricity within him and shocked the little bastards attached to him. The electric pulse snapped through them all and with a sharp cry of dismay, they disintegrated with a puff of smoke. In the momentary lull, Dean caught the very distinctive whiff of sulphur and then the horde was back, attacking even more ferociously. He had no idea how everyone else was faring, and they didn't have an internal taser. Dean gathered up another shock and zapped the creatures in his immediate vicinity. They vanished with a wail and trail of smoke.
Before the horde could coalesce and attack him again, Dean ducked and ran towards the kitchen. The impressive domain of Sgt Maguire was in complete disarray as the Marines on KP fended off the creatures with mallets and butchers knives. It looked like a blood bath inside, the walls and cupboards covered in black blood. Dean gestured at the cloud of creatures surging towards the Marines and an arc of lightning formed from the appliances and crashed into the cloud, dusting them all.
Dean snatched up a cellar of salt, turned and threw it straight into the oncoming swarm of screaming creatures. They parted like a grey sea, shrieking even louder. They were undeterred though and reformed, charging at him again. Dean though grabbed a bag of salt, shot a bolt of electric energy at the creatures and while they scattered, drew a line of salt across the threshold of the kitchen.
"Stay here," he yelled at the Marines.
Bag tucked under his arm like a football, Dean ran towards the black and still growing tide of monsters crawling out of the portal. The new arrivals were larger than before, the size of dogs, jaws wide and teeth jagged. Dean leapt up onto a table, wobbled a little, caught himself and let loose a arc of electricity straight into the middle of the cloud.
The creatures the bolt hit vanished in a puff of sulphur and the rest scattered. The beleaguered Marines, Ronon and Sheppard used the momentary relief to snatch up fresh weapons. They looked awful, blood dripping from countless cuts and bites. Unfortunately in the brief lift of creatures, Dean caught sight of a few motionless bodies, blood sprayed all around them.
Before the creatures could launch an attack, Dean opened the bag of salt and tossed half into the air. Shrieking the creatures parted and Dean yelled at Jones, who unsurprisingly still had a wherry drumstick tucked into his jacket. "Catch, Jones. Draw a line of salt across the entrance into the hall."
Jones nodded, caught the bag, and scrambled towards the main entrance. Dean snapped another bolt of lightning at the whirling swarm over their heads and drove them away from Jones. The portal was still open though and more and more winged monstrosities were coming through. Ronon was methodically shooting up at the swarm, knocking dozens out of the sky. The Marines and Sheppard were hacking at the odd creature who darted towards them out of the portal.
Dean leapt off the table, shot a bolt of energy straight at the portal and hoped to hell he remembered the symbols correctly. Quickly, Dean traced a modified devil's trap on the table in his own blood easily, his hands were bleeding so badly. As he closed the last line and drew the last symbol, the orb of light snapped shut and the creatures overhead wailed and screamed.
In unison, the creatures shrieked and dropped like kamikazes at them, a torrent of teeth and claws, a spiral of death. Ronon opened fire, steady and certain. Sheppard leant back with his broken chair, eyes tracking the monsters. Dean searched for the last bit of energy he could find, most of the power in the room already drained, and primed a massive electric pulse.
The creatures hit with a thunderous force, most of them dying in the snap of power from Dean, dozens falling to Ronon's gun. But the sheer numbers that fell on them were incredible. The largest seemed to go straight for Dean and he fell to the floor, born down by their weight and velocity. Drawing his knife, and shocking any that touched him, Dean struggled to find his feet. As fast as they died, more came and Dean was running out of energy, as there was no ready power source he could siphon off. In the end it came down to steady, solid slashing, beating back the beasts with the little power he could find, and slashing and stabbing the rest. It seemed to go on for hours, hacking and slashing endlessly, sprayed with blood.
Fortunately for Dean and the others, reinforcements arrived, Marines taced out in riot gear, wielding machetes and stunners. Screaming and wailing the creatures died, hacked or stunned into submission.
Exhausted, Dean stood, his arms and legs shaking, blood dripping into his eyes. Ronon and Sheppard looked as bad, if not worse. Jones and Kim were at the door, methodically stunning any creature that tried to escape, because the handful still left were now bent on survival – escape.
Heart pounding, body aching, Dean bent over his knees and willed the world to stop whirling around him.
"What in the hell was that?" Sheppard gasped, propped up on a table.
The blood splatted chronometer read: 19h45
TBC in Part 3