Title: A Night on Atlantis
Spoilers: None except presumes the season 4 universe.
Pairing or Character: Friendhsip (john/rodney teyla/ronon sam/rodney team lorne zelenka)
Genre: Action/Adventure Humour, Fun
Disclaimer: I own N-O-T-H-I-N-G except my laptop and internet connection.
Summary: The members of the Atlantis expedition decide to spend a night on the mainland. Chaos ensues. Possible tears.
Mckay foraged through the cupboard at the back of his lab. Various items fell on his head, scruffing up his delicate layer of hair in a constant but incongruent hail. Wincing from an impact, Dr. Mckay finally found the object of his search.
“Got you now…” he muttered under his breath, digging his arms in further to clasp the object tightly. With great effort, he pulled the dusty sleeping bag free. The puffed scientist landed on his butt, his newly acquired possession in his lap.
“So that’s a ‘yes’ then?” asked Major Lorne, appearing at the doorway of Mckay’s lab. He was dressed in his jogging gear and looked as if he was on his way back from a workout with Ronon. “I have you down as a ‘maybe, possibly, if the universe doesn’t crash down around me’.”
Taking a much needed breath, Rodney laid down on the floor. An eager upside down Lorne entered his field of view.
“What’s it look like?” he replied, clutching the sleeping bag tighter.
Lorne smiled, determined not to be put off by the scientist’s token snappiness. “’Probably, likely, as long as the world doesn’t end’.”
Mckay gave a big thumbs up, and Lorne continued down the corridor at a jog.
It was a stupid idea, thought Mckay for the eighth time since he had agreed to go. A camping trip on the new planet… Surely, he reasoned, there were better ways to spend his rare bursts of free time. Indeed, he had promised himself that he would not give into John’s relentless pressuring the day Lorne was given permission to host it. He had SWORN that no amount of taunting, jeering, or threats of blackmail would induce him into undertaking three days of alien wilderness. He promised himself, despite his genetic inferior excitedly declaring that he would be going.
“Come on Rodney,” he could almost hear Zelenka’s voice, “it’ll be fun.”
“Define fun,” he had replied.
“All those stars – being out there, on another world without having to worry about the nearest life sucking alien. This is what I always dreamed of, exploring other worlds – not being stuck in this lab all the time. On the bright side, I guess it’s an alien lab…”
Not wishing to be upstaged by his junior, Rodney had almost agreed to tag along on the trip then and there, but a well timed system check of Atlantian systems had given him the perfect excuse. In fact, it wasn’t until yesterday that he had given in to Lorne’s request. The procedure went something like this:
“Stupid, ignorant, pencil pushing, no good, pack of suited, ill tempered, seriously deformed, emotionally squat –”
“Rodney?” A head peaked into Mckay’s lab and looked around. “I thought I heard ranting…”
Rodney stopped mid breath, his mouth left agape.
Samantha Carter crossed the floor and scanned the room for any sign of the missing scientist. “Oh,” she exclaimed, finding Rodney cross-legged on the floor beside an unhappy Naquada reactor. “There you are.”
“There I am,” repeated Rodney, undoing another screw on the device’s casing.
Sam sat down beside him and watched him take off the outer casing. He didn’t protest, thankful for a second pair of eyes. The truth was that he had no idea what was wrong with the stupid thing. Rumour has it that Sheppard knocked it off the table during a fire fight with a loose Wraith, rumours that had been unconvincingly denied.
“It looks pretty sick…” said Sam, seeing a black streak of residue near one of the circuit boards and a suspiciously dented rear.
Rodney sighed. “I know. Hold this.” He lifted up the reactor and gave it to her to hold while he undid the screws beneath it. “Two person job,” he muttered as the casing came away.
The scientist nodded, not looking up from the machine. This bit was particularly delicate. One slip and ‘boom’, pulverisation.
“Are you going on this thing?” she said, handing him a delicate silver tool.
‘This thing’ universally translated as ‘Lorne’s bush romp’ because that’s what it was turning into. It started with good intentions – a couple of mates forming a small camping party, and had evolved into fifty plus people lugging wood and matches for a giant bonfire night. Even though they weren’t supposed to, alcohol had been smuggled from Earth and was now packed in the sleeping bags of most of the ‘expedition’. Those who couldn’t smuggle it were busy brewing. “No, I’m busy,” he replied.
“Not any more you’re not.”
Rodney paused. “I – am … not?”
“You aren’t,” she continued. “I need you to go along with them and oversee a couple of experiments I’ve asked the new recruits to run. There’s a lot we can learn from this place. It may be our home, but it’s still an alien planet. Who knows what’s out there.”
Rodney digested this. “You want me to babysit?”
Sam smiled. “I believe the term is ‘chaperone’. Don’t fight me Rodney,” she said, gripping his arm. “You’re going and that’s that.”
“And who’s going to ‘chaperone’ me?”
The conversation ended with a shrug and a sigh.
The next morning Rodney entered his lab to find that the Naquada generator had miraculously fixed itself alongside a giant bag of marshmallows sitting on his desk. Rodney deflated – orders were orders.
Oddly, as the days had rolled on, Rodney started to quite like the thought of camping. It was one of those childhood things that he never got to participate in. If he did this, he’d be able to add at least one story to the long mission treks that didn’t involve physics – well, didn’t centre around physics.
Rodney gripped his sleeping back tightly and made his way down the corridor, hindered by a backpack at least half his height.
“Looking good,” said a passerby.
“You try looking good with a bed strapped to your back,” he muttered, irritably.
John Sheppard stopped abruptly in the middle of the hallway and tilted his head to the side. “But I do…”
Rodney rolled his eyes and shifted the pack. “Oh, it’s you.”
“How’s my power-thingy?”
“The Naquada generator is recovering well. You’ll be able to knock it off another desk in no time at all.”
“When do we leave?” Rodney caught the conversation before it mutated into a row.
John strutted forward as a very attractive group of female scientists shuffled past. “Now. Colonel Carter sent me here to collect you but I can see that I didn’t need to bother. Whatever she did, worked.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “I was ordered, that usually works.”
John laughed, “Hardly. I’m going to go get my stuff, meet you at the jumper bay in ten.”
“We’re going to crash…”
“Lighten up Mckay,” Ronon leant over and punched the scientist sharply in the arm hard enough to hurt.
Mckay rubbed the spot dramatically, squished between the luggage. “I’m telling you,” he continued, “there’s a weight limit on these things.” The puddlejumper lurched as they took off, heading toward the open ceiling and stunning blue sky. “Flying fire bomb, gin is a wonderful accelerant.”
“Nobody here drinks gin, Mckay. Just, sit quietly in the back and think happy thoughts about your experiments.”
Rodney smiled for a fraction of a second before his tummy flipped. “Oh no…”
Take two was just as shaky, but at least they were in the air. Mckay cradled the bag of delicate equipments, settling on a determined frown.
Three other jumpers cruised beside them. Make that four, as Lorne darted across Sheppard’s screen, honing in on the green speck peeking out from the ocean. Ronon laughed, pointing to the dots ducking and swooping playfully like birds playing on the wind.
The grassy landing site ended at the fringe of a subtropical jungle. Sheppard chose a free patch as close to the dangling succulent leaves as was safe and opened the back. Rodney all but tumbled out with the rest of the luggage.
“Head for the hill?” shouted Lorne, wandering past Sheppard’s open jumper.
Rodney, draped over several large hiking bags, attempted to get up to no avail. “A little help – please…” he pleaded, as his teammates successfully navigated their way over the pile and out onto the fresh grass. Teyla, after taking a moment to admire the fresh air, took pity on the scientist and pulled him free. He dusted himself off at once, attempting to regain a little bit of dignity. “Yes, well, thank you.”
“Don’t mention it Rodney.”
Lorne, still waiting for an answer, set about re-tying his mountain boots. The whole place looked like a car-park, or be it more correctly a ‘spaceport’. Though decked out in casuals, the rest of the campers arranged themselves in their exploration teams. Ahead of them was a sizable incline, concealed by the junglish foliage. According to the Atlantian files, this place was riddled with spectacular limestone caves and friendly, edible wildlife. Their excuse for this escapade, (namely, what they would put on their official reports to Stargate Command) was a faint electromagnetic reading coming from their designated campfire spot.
“Let’s head out,” Sheppard winked at Lorne, indicating that his team could go ahead and have first chop. Lorne grinned madly and waved his team on.
Rodney strapped himself into his hiking pack and then bent down to retrieve the equipment bag. This action was a mistake. The weight on his back set him off balance into a dangerous rocking motion until gravity won out and he landed in a heap on the grass.
“Come on Rodney, let’s gooo….” said Ronon, flinging the majority of the luggage effortlessly onto his back. “The sun’s not going to stay up forever.”
“What – is – that!” Rodney, reclined against a rock, watched an ant with uncommonly long legs crawl past. Instead of eyes it had a set of featherlike feelers wandering independently of each other and an impressive set of spikes over its abdomen.
“Would you stop fretting!” John threw a bread roll at him which Rodney caught. “This is going to kill me, that tree’s going to hunt me! Not everything in the universe is out to kill you Rodney! Can’t you just enjoy a relaxing walk in the wild? Seriously, you’re the reason Ronon’s ploughed ahead to join Lorne’s party.”
Rodney was too busy munching to care.
“Should have fed him earlier,” John sighed, collapsing back amongst the leaf litter.
Teyla smiled in her reserved way. “Rodney does have a point. Not all of the wildlife here is friendly. Like any existence, there is a delicate balance of danger present.”
“Thank you,” Rodney managed between bites. “I have a point.”
“Sheppard, come in…”
John clicked his radio on. “Go ahead, Major.”
“My team’s found a potential camping site, do you want us to start setting up or wait for you to get here?”
“Go ahead, Lorne. We’re about an hour behind you and the others even further behind us. By the time we all arrive I reckon that sun’ll be pretty low. Just save some marshmallows.”
“Will do, Colonel.”
Rodney could not help but present a frown. “I thought I had the marshmallows…”
“I gave them to Lorne,” replied John, extracting himself from the ground. “In case you needed some motivation to reach the campsite.”
“Uh!” John raised a hand disapprovingly. “You know what the Colonel said, no fighting.”
Rodney mumbled to himself, “She meant with weapons.”
BLAZE OF TROUBLE
It was a roaring blaze, almost too big for the opening that they had found nestled between buttress-rooted trees. Sizable flames licked the edges of curious leaves, drying and blackening them until they fell into the fire and rose again as a shower of sparks.
Many layers of people were reclined against the sporadic rocks, listening to the distant rumble of thunder. McKay had coaxed – well, more correctly dared a marine to climb one of the trees with his science equipment. The marine, having completed his assignment, was currently swinging haphazardly through the branches to the amusement of those below.
McKay shook his head worriedly. “This is going to end badly,” he said to Zelenka, who was busy with a burnt marshmallow.
The caramelised blackness was licked tentatively before the scruffy scientist recoiled and tried to shake it off his stick.
“And it’s going to be my fault. That’s my career right there,” he pointed to the monkey-like shadow, fumbling for a hand hold. “Right there, about to hit the ground with a thud.”
“Yick,” Zelenka tried to pull his fingers apart but they were stuck together by the remains of the marshmallow. He continued with a rant in Czech which encompassed the stick, fire, sky and stars until he was tapped on the shoulder.
Rodney McKay stared at him with a look of sheer annoyance. “English!” he said, shaking his head.
The alcohol was well underway and the sheer volume that had made it up the long hike was impressive. When they really wanted to, the Atlantis expedition could do great things.
“Need your help,” announced a voice behind Rodney. A moment later he found himself hauled to his feet by a determined set of hands and then dragged off around the fire out of sight. Rodney cried for help, but Zelenka was too busy threading another marshmallow onto his blacked stick to notice.
“Put. Me. Down.” Rodney wiggled his legs, attempting to get free of the stranger. He felt like a kid on school camp, trying to avoid the attention of the popular kids in case they decided to use him as entertainment. This felt very much like his worst fear.
“Relax Rodney,” Lorne said, trying to stop the body from struggling. “The Colonel’s got a problem he needs you to help him with.”
Rodney was released and dropped unceremoniously on the ground in front of a group of female botanists who looked rather worried and guilty.
Sheppard, tummy down on the ground, lifted his head up and waved. McKay waved back, confused until Sheppard said, “That’s not McKay, that’s a squid. How did we end up underwater?”
“Yesss…” McKay drawled out, “very helpful.” He turned his attention to the girls. “Explain.”
An adorable but currently petrified botanist with wavy auburn hair and dazzling eyes stepped forward. “It was supposed to be a joke,” she gasped, her pale hands shaking. “We didn’t think that he actually would, you know…”
“Actually what?” prompted Rodney, watching John attempt a ‘freestyle’ swim.
“We thought it was harmless,” interjected one of her friends, not game enough to step forward.
“Well, we didn’t know for sure,” the botanist continued, “but it looked as if it was closely related to an Athosian herb.” Katie, frightened by the stories she’d heard of Atlantis’s head, was trying to divulge as little as possible. “Although, some of us had concerns.”
“That it could have been the Night Herb.”
Lorne snorted with repressed laughter behind McKay’s head. They both watched as John shimmed forward to gnaw on a blade of grass.
“Damn, wish we’d brought the cameras,” he said. “This is a month’s worth of blackmail.”
“You – be quiet!” Rodney instructed fiercely. Lorne held up his arms innocently.
“Spectator only,” he reassured the scientist.
Rodney sighed at the deranged Colonel Sheppard underfoot. “You better go get the doc, Major.”
“I would,” replied Lorne, “except we didn’t bring one.”
There must have been close on a hundred people bathing in the firelight or hanging from the trees nearby. “What do you mean, there isn’t one?”
Lorne shrugged. “There isn’t one. They were all busy. I tried to get Lisa – you know, the gorgeous nurse who arrived last week, but Beckett said that he couldn’t spare anyone. Most of us know basic first aid though.”
Rodney listened to Sheppard recite the alphabet backwards. “I seriously doubt they covered this in medics 101.” He turned back to the female botanist. “You – uh…”
“Katie,” she replied, standing in front of the others in a protective manner.
“You come with me. We’re gonna take him back to the jumper and get him to Atlantis. Yeah, that’s the plan. You too Major Whatever. This is your fault as well.”
Lorne scoffed. “You want to take him back looking like that? Colonel Carter will kill us – especially you. I hear you’re her favourite and I also hear that those close to her have a tendency to die horribly.”
“Die – horribly?” Rodney gulped.
Lorne squatted down to get a better look at Sheppard. He flashed his torch over John’s eyes which were almost all iris.
“Preeeetty,” said John, trying to catch the light from the torch as it tracked over the ground.
Lorne clicked it off and John started to cry.
“Now look what you’ve done!” yelled Rodney, as John pointed at the spot where the light had been and wailed.
“No problem. All we gotta do is keep an eye on him for a few hours. This, Night Whateveryoucallit – how long’s it last?”
Katie turned to the group of girls behind and then came back with an average of their estimates. “Five to eight hours.”
“I can’t do five more minutes of this,” Rodney pointed at the hysterical John as tears rolled down his cheeks. He kept repeating, ‘the light is gone, the light is goooooooone!’ between sobs.
Lorne picked John up off the ground and turned him around so that he faced the enormous bonfire. The crying stopped immediately and was replaced with an appreciative, ‘ooooooh…’
“See,” said Lorne. “Easy. They’re like three year olds – all you’ve got to do is keep them entertained. My niece has got a couple.”
The group, including Rodney, had almost convinced themselves that this was going to be fine until John grinned evilly and launched himself at the pretty flames.
“Whoa!” Rodney, Lorne and Katie yelled in unison, leaping on top of the Colonel.
Teyla and Ronon sat on the other side of the fire, locked in a silent competition of ‘who could make the better spear’. It had been a popular fire-side activity in both their cultures and they were thrilled to find another individual willing to put their honour on the line to compete.
With a tree branch balanced in each of their laps, they hacked away at the wood with a sharp knife. They frowned with concentration, slashing and slicing.
“Want marshmallow?” Zelenka wandered over to them with a shredded bag housing about three puffy sweets squid-ged in the bottom. The pair ignored him as he seated himself between them.
“Good fire. I like camping,” he continued, picking up a stick from behind Ronon. Pleased with it, he proceeded to thread a marshmallow on its end and extended into the roaring blaze where it quickly caught fire and vanished. With a genuine smile, he placed the remaining marshmallows on the tips of Ronon and Teyla’s spears.
The two hunters stopped slicing and stared at each other first and then lowered their gaze to the Czech scientist humming happily.
Back in the city, Colonel Samantha Carter leant over the balcony, watching the very last linger of sunset fade into darkness. A chill settled as the stars popped out, showering the ocean in a soft glow. She couldn’t see the mainland from here – which was probably a good thing. It was peaceful, for a change.
Suddenly it really felt like an alien world. The way everything moved and the sounds of the air, they were different from Earth and she liked it.
There was a soft wrap on the glass doors behind her.
“What can I do for you?” she smiled as Dr. Beckett paced around the control room. He stopped and grinned warmly as she stepped back into the room and shut the Atlantian evening outside.
“Normally I wouldn’ bother you,” he began. “It’s jus’ that Sophie was in getting a shot an’ happened to mention that they’d lost contact with the science equipment sent to the mainland. She wasn’ goin’ ta mention it but I thought you should know. Probably nothing.”
Sam folder her arms over her chest, “When is it ever nothing with Rodney involved?”
“True,” he replied.
“Leave it with me, Carson. I’ll see if I can raise them on the radio.”