Warnings: Eventual non-con (het), Occasional foul language
Word Count: apx. 2600
Notes: Sadly, this is still a wip I started posting on fanfiction.net. I've set a goal for myself that I will add one chapter a day to LiveJournal, and by the time I'm caught up I must have a new chapter. The gears are finally moving in my head, so I think I might just manage to make it happen!
Summary: A visit to a village covered in mud leads to a captured Colonel, and an unexpected alliance with an old enemy. Shep whump.
The door opened when Senzen knocked, and a guard appeared. “Colonel Sheppard has agreed to help us, Tammer.” Senzen informed him. The guard grinned and bent to pick up something leaning against the outside wall. His boots. The guard gave them to Senzen, who in turn returned them to Sheppard.
“I thought you would be more comfortable resting without them.” Senzen prattled to Sheppard as if expecting praise for his theft. Sheppard merely grunted, something he had picked up from Ronon, as he put them on. “I’ve even had them cleaned for you. We have enough mud in the village, no reason to suffer it in Sanctuary.”
Senzen stood with his hand extended towards Sheppard, offering the still shaky man his assistance. Sheppard just looked at the hand before pushing off the bed and moving to the wall for support.
Senzen shrugged, “This way, Colonel.” as he led Sheppard through the door.
Following slowly and leaning against the wall, Sheppard paused outside the door, feigning dizziness, and assessed every piece of information he could gather. There was only one guard, and Senzen, but he could hear voices down the hall. Both Nultarans had a knife in their belts, and something holstered against their hips; he didn’t know for sure what it was, but his military instincts knew it for a weapon.
The air in the hallway was stale and cold, making Sheppard shiver. “Where’s my jacket?” And the rest of my gear?
A look of surprise passed Senzen’s face, then regret. “Are you cold Colonel? I’m so sorry, how thoughtless of me. Follow me this way and that shall be amended.”
Senzen turned the corner, headed in the direction of the voices. Tammer waited behind him for Sheppard to follow. Seeing little choice, Sheppard obliged, running his hands across the goose bumps on his arms.
The corridor was long and dim, lit only by a narrow stream of burning coal on either side of the floor. For a group so worried about air consumption, they certainly waste a lot of it.
They approached a set of doors that had obviously been forced open; there was still a wooden beam wedged between them to keep them open. It was the Control Room. They entered just in front of the glass room that was Dr. Weir’s office in its Atlantean counterpart. Sheppard’s eyes immediately zoomed to the pit below, only to suppress a sigh of disappointment. No Stargate. Well it would be unusual to have two Stargates in such close proximity to each other.
Seven men and two women had stopped their conversations, and were staring at the Colonel. Mud stained their clothes, but like Senzen, and now himself, their boots were clean. “My friends,” Senzen announced, “Colonel Sheppard has agreed to help us.”
Small cheers met this statement, the applause reverberating in Sheppard’s ears like thunder claps, causing him to wince.
“Please, Colonel….” Senzen stood by a panel Sheppard recognized as Environmental Controls from Atlantis. As he made his way over to it, he didn’t know if he hoped the panel worked, or if he should be praying it didn’t. If only I could just think!
It felt as though the fog in his brain was getting thicker, the dizziness worse. Shouldn’t it be wearing off? Another shiver wracked his body. Or was it a shudder? Was he shuddering? What was happening?
Two hands firmly held his forearm, pulling it up to rest his hand on the panel. “Come now, Colonel, the only way to warm up is to turn on the Climate Controls.”
Hands started rubbing along his upper arms, the heat of the friction felt so good. The owner of the hands pressed into his back, and he realized it was one of the women. “Turn it on, John.”
“You can do it, Colonel. Just think ‘on’.”
On? Warmth registered beneath his hands as the panel started to glow bright blue. Lights came on from all around, nearly blinding the occupants of the room.
A hand clapped him on the shoulder, then held firm. “Well done indeed, Colonel, well done.”
“Reeva, take him back to his room, and see that he is fed.” Senzen ordered the brunette pressed against Sheppard. With a satisfied smile she steered the dazed Colonel to the door and down the now bright hallway, chatting soothingly along the way.
After they left, Senzen turned to the excited group staring in wonder around the room. Yes, their years of hard work and planning were about to pay off. “Shofen, return to the village and begin the evacuation. The Mud Storms should begin tonight; the timing could not be more perfect.”
Senzen shook his head. What incredible luck. Mud Storms were normally a disaster worse than the Wraith. They occurred predictably at the beginning and end of every harvest, encompassing everything. For once, that storm was going to work for the Nultarans.
“Ifsha, the Colonel’s people will be looking for him. Make sure they find him.” Senzen commanded the remaining woman. She nodded, and the group broke up to set about their assigned tasks. Just a few more hours and they would finally be free.
By the time they reached the room, Reeva had Sheppard’s arm slung over her shoulder, and was supporting most of his weight. His head hung heavily against his chest and rolled from side to side uselessly as they walked; his eyelids held at half-mast. “Just a couple more steps John.” she encouraged.
Sheppard knew this was wrong, knew he should be able to move and think clearer than this. “‘M sorry.” he mumbled, knowing the woman was struggling under him.
Softness pressed against his legs and his world tilted alarmingly as he was lowered onto the bed. “Rest Colonel, I will return shortly with your food.” Reeva left the room at a brisk walk, foolishly leaving the door open. This is it, Sheppard thought. I have to get out of here now!
Lifting his head was a monumental effort in and of itself, but sitting upright left him spinning with his breath caught in his throat. Sheppard got to his feet, stumbling to the wall for balance. This isn’t right. Have… have to… Atlantis! Have to get back to Atlantis!
Warmth pulsed under his feet as Sheppard felt the life of the city calling to him, begging him to stay. He paused to listen. He could feel his awareness expanding outward, down hallways he’d never seen before, yet were identical to Atlantis.
John. The City whispered to him. John….
“John!” Reeva had grabbed Sheppard just in time to take his weight as he collapsed, preventing him from hitting his head. “What are you doing out here? Silly man, come back to bed and rest.” Sheppard blinked as the world refocused, and Reeva led him back to the bed, propping him up against the pillows.
“I can’t even imagine how you had the strength to make it all the way out here.” she muttered as she returned to the hall to fetch the tray of food she had hastily set down to catch the errant Atlantean.
Sheppard’s head pounded as he lay in a daze. He closed his eyes to stop the incessant spinning around him. “Atlantis,” he mumbled, “Have to get back to Atlantis.”
“Oh, don’t you be worried about that. We’ll get you fixed right up,” Reeva came in with a mug of soup that smelled like rotten cabbage. “A good night’s sleep, and you’ll be all set to go tomorrow.”
Indistinct mumbling left Sheppard’s mouth as he tried to form a clear thought. A cup was pressed against his open lips and heat filled his mouth and foulness his nose as the liquid was poured down his throat, leaving a rotten tang in its wake. Sheppard coughed and tried to move away from the cup, but Reeva followed him with it everywhere.
Sputtering some out of his mouth left him with a wet chest and chin, which Reeva dutifully wiped away with a fresh cloth. Half of the soup settled into his stomach, actually forming a pleasant heat wave that cascaded into his veins and through his entire body.
He felt a hand run across his spiky hair and across his cheek, again and again, until he relaxed and felt the blackness take him.
“Good luck… and Major, bring him home.” were Weir’s parting words to the teams as they set off in Jumper Four to retrieve their teammate and C.O. Colonel Sheppard had been missing for most of a day, probably longer, depending on when during the night he was kidnapped.
Lorne sat in the pilot’s seat, and Teyla was in the co-pilot’s chair with Ronon leaning over her shoulder. Dr. Zelenka sat in the chair next to Ronon’s (were he actually sitting), and Lt. Johnson’s team sat in the rear. The scene that greeted them on the other side of the gate was not the sunny picnic Teyla had told Lorne to expect. It was absolute chaos.
Major Lorne was no stranger to hurricanes, having grown up in Florida, but this amazed even him in its fury. Total darkness filled the sky, occasionally highlighting the rocky mountains with long flashes of lightning immediately followed by thunder. Torrential rain and winds shook the jumper, making its passengers fear for its integrity.
Lorne tried to steer the jumper towards the village, but it was hard to tell if Lorne or McKay was driving, their path was so crooked. “Johnson!” Lorne called to the back.
“Sir!” Johnson stood behind Lorne’s shoulder, staring in horror at the disaster outside.
“Looks like your ground mission has been scrubbed.” Lorne informed him, confirming the obvious.
“Yes, sir!” Lt. Johnson stayed in the front section, unable to pull his eyes away from the storm.
The next flash of lightning revealed what looked at first like a waterfall sliding down the nearest mountain face. When the puddle jumper’s lights hit it, they saw it was mud, not water, covering the mountain in an avalanche.
Everyone felt the same sense of dread with the thought of their missing leader, who was most likely at the mercy of this worst of this storm.
Zelenka gulped. “For the first time, I really hope whoever is responsible for the Colonel’s disappearance has gated him off-world.”
“Teyla, Ronon,” Lorne’s eyes never left the controls, but his head turned towards them a bit, “Did either of you see anything in the village or surrounding area that could have been used to shelter the Nultarans from this?”
Ronon shook his head. “I’m afraid not, Major Lorne,” Teyla voiced. “Everything we encountered in the village would very easily have been destroyed in this.”
Lorne began to hover the jumper in place over a large cesspool of mud. “These are the coordinates for the village proper.” he said quietly. Not a spec of life remained. The intermittent bolts of lightning served to remind everyone of the devastation.
“Dr. Zelenka, are you reading any life signs?” Lorne already knew the answer.
Everyone was silent aboard the jumper, their eyes glued to the HUD, as Lorne made a last pass around the village and nearby area. He flew in stunned silence, worried for Sheppard, and anticipating what he would tell Dr. Weir.
“There is debris everywhere, but no bodies.” Teyla pointed out. Blinking, Lorne considered this. Teyla was right, there should be bodies. He flew the jumper as close to the ground as he dared, sweeping the jumper’s powerful floodlights to and fro.
It was impossible to tell if the wood chunks floating around were from the destroyed village or mangled forest, but the personal items were obviously Nultaran. Bits of clothing, pots, and even a table could be seen.
“What’s that?” Ronon pointed to one article of clothing in particular.
Without conscious thought, Lorne made the HUD zoom in on the bundle. It was impossible to tell much about it since it was covered in mud, but the familiar shape of the bulges were what had caught Ronon’s eye. “That’s a tack vest.”
“Are you sure?” Teyla held her breath. She could not identify it at all, but trusted her teammate’s judgment.
“Almost positive.” Ronon’s was not the most popular reply.
“Is there a way we could possibly tractor it on board?” Johnson suggested.
Everyone looked at Zelenka, who shook his head. “The jumper does not have tractor beams Lt.”
“Then it looks like we’re getting dirty.” Lorne retorted to Zelenka’s condescending tone. Really McKay was cranky enough, his department did not need to pick up on it, even in a bad situation. “Johnson, hook yourself up to a harness. I’ll bring the jumper as close as I can to it.”
“Understood, sir.” Teyla was struck by an old memory of Lt. Ford speaking to Col. Sheppard in much the same manner. Johnson looked to be about Ford’s age. She shook her head, unable to bear the thought of loosing another teammate.
All the marines that had previously been in the rear moved into the front, except one, who also harness himself to the jumper, and spotted Johnson as he dropped himself into the raging storm. The door separating the forward and rear sections closed, protecting those not harnessed, and allowing Lorne to concentrate on his piloting.
When the rear hatch sealed shut, the bulkhead door opened, allowing everyone a sight of the mud covered marines and now trashed jumper. Lt. Johnson dropped his acquisition to remove the harness, and everyone stared at the bundle.
“Well?” Lorne called from the pilot’s seat.
Ronon picked up the pile of clothes and felt around them. “I was wrong,” he said. Teyla’s eyes lit with hope. “It’s a tack vest and a jacket.” And her heart plummeted. Ronon scrubbed at the sleeve, revealing the blue-gray material beneath, and the SGA badge.
The still silence in the dark infirmary was suddenly broken by frantic screaming. “Sheppard!”
Kristen ran to the source of the shouting, finding Dr. McKay tangled up in his sheets, his eyes wide open, but unseeing. Quickly she grabbed him by the shoulders and held him in place, stopping his thrashing. “Wake up, Doctor, it’s alright. You’re just having a nightmare. It’s alright!”
“What’s going on?” Beckett came running out of his office, awoken from his own fitful sleep. Without needing the nurse to answer, he joined Kristen by his friend’s side. “Rodney. Rodney!”
McKay abruptly stopped thrashing and awoke with a gasp. Looking around wildly, he panted, “Where’s Sheppard?” A coughing fit followed, and Kristen poured him a glass of water from the jug on the nightstand.
“Calm down, Rodney,” Beckett soothed. He waited for McKay to finish his water, and look at him, thankfully slightly calmer. “The rescue team is on Nultara looking for him, remember?”
After a moment, McKay nodded and lay back down. “No news yet? How long have they been gone?” he asked. Beckett shook his head, even though Major Lorne’s team had returned over an hour ago. He couldn’t tell Rodney just yet. The middle of the night alone in the hospital was no place or time for bad news. Handling it tomorrow in the daylight, on a full night’s worth of sleep, and surrounded by his team, would be hard enough for him.
“Go back to sleep Rodney.” Carson suggested.
McKay’s eyes were already closed. “You’ll wake me when you hear something?” he pleaded.
“Aye,” he lied. He watched McKay sink back into sleep, eyeballs moving rapidly behind the lids. He had just bought himself a few hours to find a way to tell Rodney his best friend was dead.