?

Log in

No account? Create an account
beth writing 30 days without

FIC: SGA - Life Don't Get No Better Than This

Title: "Life Don't Get No Better Than This"
Author: maddie_amber
Recipient:  linziday
Rating:
PG
Warning: None
Word Count:  2500
Summary:  It appeared to be the perfect Alpha site.  Sun, sand, surf and no annoying insects. 
Author's Notes:  Prompt was from linziday who wanted 1) Sun, sand, and surf 2) Team 3) Joy in her fic.  I tried to include those things, though this was an H/C fic exchange, so things had to go south, right?   Hope you enjoy. 

 

 

“Life don’t get no better than this.”

John Sheppard could almost hear Roche’s laconic drawl and knew exactly what the Louisiana native would have said.  Stretching he felt his spine and shoulders pop.  You’re right, Roche, he thought.  Life don’t get no better. 

Sheppard felt the bark of the palm tree against his back as he leaned against its trunk, totally absorbed in the perfection of the moment.  Cloud free blue sky above met shimmering ocean waters below in a seamless collision of endless blue.  Sugar white sand beaches rarely seen outside a travel magazine radiated heat from the sun above, baking the care out of the most careless, the emery grit of sand against the backs of his legs a delightfully pleasant discomfort.  The tang of salt sea mist and the scent of kelp beds just off shore graced the air with tropical allure while in the background the steady pounding of surf crashing against the shoreline beat a rhythmic tattoo.

The only thing missing was the raucous call of shorebirds squabbling over choice tidbits, the scream of monkeys clamoring in the trees, or the persistent buzz of insects.  That was the first thing he had noticed about this tropical paradise, not that he had tried to find fault, but for all its outward perfection, this world appeared to have no animal life.  He did not think it possible for a world to evolve flora and not fauna, but that was a question for the biologists.  It was enough that they had found a potentially suitable Alpha site after so many failed attempts.  It had been a long time since they had a properly designated, sustainable safe haven.  So no one would object if he took a few well deserved minutes to just relax and enjoy the moment, would they? 

In the distance he could see three tiny specks against the glare of the sun - Ronon, Rodney and Teyla running in his direction.  He could hear their voices, muffled against the backdrop of crashing surf, but he could not make out their words.  No matter, he thought lazily, they would be close enough to hear in a few minutes.  The heat of the sun shimmered off the immaculate sand, causing their images to waiver, like an illusion or a dream.  They were charging forward as though the devil was in pursuit, but he could see nothing following them.  As they drew closer, Sheppard was puzzled by the look of grim determination on Ronon's face.  Teyla appeared equally focused on some goal and Rodney simply looked frightened. 

Sheppard tried to raise his arm to signal that it was safe to approach.  But, his arm would not move, a leaden weight attached to his shoulder that neither responded nor seemed to exist.  As his heat addled brain registered his inability to respond, his daydream shattered like a thousand shards of glass.  He found himself face down in the sand, gasping and struggling for breath as his mouth and nose filled with grit, a sharp pain cut his side as a cable tightened around his midsection and he felt himself being dragged across the ground.  He tried to raise his head to clear his nostrils and take a breath, scrabbled at the sand with his hands and legs to slow him self down, but his right arm was pinned to his side and the force dragging him was much too powerful and persistent.  He could hear the shouts of his teammates as they raced to catch up to him, felt the static discharge of Ronon's energy weapon as it blistered through the air somewhere above his head and felt the whip-like cord around his middle tighten, pulling him inexorably across the sand.  Then he heard a sound like tree branches snapping in the wind, and he came to a sudden halt. 

"Sheppard?" 

Ronon was the first to drop to one knee by his side.  Sheppard felt Ronon's large hands on his shoulders, gently lifting his face from the sand.  He sucked in a sharp breath, and began to cough violently.  Other hands, Teyla's he thought, untwisted the cable from around his middle, easing the constriction that made it so difficult to breathe, and as she did, a sharp pain lanced through his ribcage.  Not good, he thought, still disoriented.

"What is going on?" he mumbled, barely able to form a coherent question. 

"Indigenous life form," Rodney responded nervously.  Sheppard could hear the barely concealed terror in his voice. 

"Damn big bug." Ronon said more succinctly. 

"Apparently this world is not  as lifeless as we had thought," came Teyla's practical assessment. 

Although they had all spoken almost simultaneously in answer to his question, he had heard each distinct voice. 

"We will explain once we have gotten you to safety," Teyla continued, "you may have been stung or bitten,"was all she had time to say. 

Sheppard shook his head trying to clear the fog from his brain.  He remembered their arrival on the planet with crystal clarity; the unimaginable perfection of the beach stretching before the Stargate, the perfect surf that had him itching for his board to test this ocean's mettle, the absolute lack of animal life.  As they fanned out across the rippling dunes, skirting the coarse scrub growing near the tree line, he had turned to Teyla to comment on how she needed to learn to surf.  As he had done so, she had smiled her patient smile, then almost as quickly her eyes had widened with alarm and her P90 had come up, aimed directly at his head.  Instinctively he had dived to the side, clearing the way for her to shoot whatever she had perceived as a threat.  He remembered a sharp stinging sensation in his left calf, then nothing until he woke sitting with his back against a palm, consumed by a mindless, bliss filled joy, imagining he was some beach bum considering his next wave and listening to his old air force buddy, Corbin Roche, wax poetic.  He shook his head, still unclear what part of the whole scenario was real and what part imagined.  What he had not imagined was the concern on the faces of his teammates.  They had closed in around him, shielding him from some real or imagined danger, Ronon's arm around his waist helped him to his feet then both guided and supported him as they did their best to race across the sand to the Stargate. 

"No, no, no…" Rodney interrupted.  "They're back.  Three of them.  Between us and the Stargate and closing fast."

"What?" Sheppard asked again, still not processing the situation.  Whatever had put him in surfer dreamland seemed to have fogged his cognitive ability.

"Damn bugs."

"They seem to follow the sound of our footsteps."

"Oh, crap."

Again Sheppard heard all three responses spoken as one. 

They stopped yards short of the DHD and even in his current addled state, Sheppard suddenly understood the threat.  Rearing before them, between the DHD and the Stargate, a giant black form rose from under the ground, white sand cascading from its hardened exoskeleton.  Like a centipede, its body was a series of linked plates, iridescent and strangely beautiful in the bright sun.  From each segment protruded a pair of jointed appendages, ending in talon like pincers.  Antennae whipped from the foremost section undulating as the creature lifted its forward half, swaying back and forth as if sampling the air, searching for its prey.

"Forget what I said about missing the animals," Sheppard said to no one in particular. 

They had frozen in their tracks and now stood facing the unreachable Stargate.  To their left a second creature had surfaced.  It was missing half its forward antennae.  Sheppard heard Ronon's hiss of satisfaction on seeing the damage.  The first creature lashed out, the antennae snapping at the second invader; the staccato clacking of its terminal claws sent a shiver through Sheppard.  The sound was a primal warning to stay away. 

"I thought you said there were three?" Ronon asked of McKay.

Silently McKay pointed to the right.  The surface of the sand undulated seconds before a third creature surfaced.  McKay was almost as white as the sand, but he remained uncharacteristically silent.  After a moment he took a deep breath and spoke quietly.  "I think Teyla may be right.  They seem to be have responded to the sound of our movements across the sand."

"If we remain perfectly still, they may withdraw?" Teyla's statement was half question. 

"Or they may decide to fight it out, and we'd be caught right in the middle," McKay answered, ever the pessimist. 

"We can't stand here forever," Sheppard added.  At first he had thought the numbness in his limbs would subside in time, but instead he found the sensation was becoming worse with the exertion of running.  The sting on his calf had begun to pulse with pain in time to his heartbeat, and his legs felt like lead.  Ronon's arm around his middle was the only thing keeping him upright.  The paralysis was spreading. 

"Teyla may be right," McKay said.

"I don't think we have time to find out."

McKay started to argue the point, then saw the look on Sheppard's face.  "Are you all right…"

"No."

"What do we need to do?" Teyla asked, her weapon held at the ready, moving constantly from target to target. 

"We need to get them away from the 'gate.  We need a distraction."  Sheppard swayed as his legs began to buckle underneath him. 

"I'm not a biologist, but they appear to respond to sound, or possibly the vibration the sound causes through the sand," McKay said, "and on a very primitive level.  I don't think their neural development is much beyond an insect's, despite their size.  Scent and visual cues don't seem to gain the same response."

"Because they are burrowers and neither of those would be very useful underground," Teyla suggested. 

"Then we need to make a really big noise, really far away."  Sheppard heard the impatience in his own voice, and mentally chastised himself.  It was just becoming increasingly difficult to think.  "What do we have?  Flash bangs?  Explosives of any kind?"  He saw each of them search their pockets all the while continuing to watch the writhing beasts on each side.  For the moment, the creatures seemed more intent on intimidating each other than eating them.  But Sheppard had no intention of waiting for the outcome of their confrontation.  Their pockets produced the usual array of nutrition bars, extra ammunition, and from Ronon the requisite number of knives, a small amount of plastic explosive and a detonator. 

Sheppard swayed as he forced himself to think through the problem. 

"They're not going to amuse themselves forever," Ronon said quietly. 

"How far do you think you could throw the plastic explosive?"  Sheppard asked.

Ronon hefted the small amount material.  "Not far enough," he said.  "There's not enough weight."

"What if you stuck it on one of your knives?" Rodney suggested.

"It would unbalance the knife.  Still not far enough."

"It seems to be our only option," Teyla said.  Her P90 continued to track the head of the beast with the broken antenna. 

"A cannon would be nice right now," McKay said.

"Whoa," Sheppard said, McKay's off hand comment triggering a sudden crystal clear thought.  "Rodney is that the laptop you normally have with you in the lab."

"Yes,"

"And what were you listening to, on that lap top, yesterday when I came…

"To bug me…pardon the pun," McKay interrupted.

"Yes."

"The 1812 Overture."

"Complete with cannon."  Sheppard felt himself grinning.  "Ronon, how far could you toss that," he pointed at McKay's laptop.

"Farther than the explosive."

"McKay," Sheppard said, "when I give the word, start the track with the overture, crank the volume up to max along with the bass and hand that laptop to Ronon.  Teyla, you be ready to run to the DHD on my mark."

McKay's eyes had widened and he clutched the laptop closely to his chest.  "You're not going to…"

"Not me," Sheppard said, gesturing to his left, "Ronon.  He's going to toss that laptop as far as he can, hope it continues to play, and that the vibrations from the sound system are enough to distract the beasties long enough for us to make it though the gate."

"This is my personal…."

"Please," Teyla interrupted, "I believe they are growing tired of posturing"

Sheppard realized that the incessant clattering of talons had almost completely ceased.  It had taken them only moments to come up with a plan, though to Sheppard it seemed like hours, and in that short time the trio of predators had been hissing and snapping their chitinous clippers in the background in their version of a territorial battle. 

"On my mark, McKay."  Sheppard thought he heard a small whimper escape McKay's lips, but he bent over the laptop.

"Ready," McKay said weakly.

"Do it now," Sheppard whispered. 

As McKay hit the play button and the music blasted from the computer's speakers, all three beasts turned their 'heads' in the direction of the sound.  McKay handed the laptop to Ronon and in one smooth motion Ronon tossed the machine, discus style, far from where they stood.  Sheppard watched the machine sail through the air, the sound receding like a passing car horn.  He prayed it would survive the landing.  There was a small plume of white as the laptop skittered across the surface of the beach, coming to rest against a growth of scrub grass, the sound now muffled by a covering of sand.  As one, the beasts swiveled towards the landing point, the two closest moving towards the thrumming vibration.  The third still remained in front of the Stargate. 

"Now, now, now," he said to Teyla.  She was off ahead of him a split second before he spoke, sliding to a halt at the DHD, slamming home the address for Atlantis, and feeding in her ID.  With Ronon supporting him on one side and McKay on the other, the three men ran for the gate as fast as they could.  The whoosh of energy exploding from the Stargate evaporated the upper section of the remaining insect, its body dropping to the ground with a thud.  Sheppard risked a glance over his shoulder.  The two remaining creatures seemed drawn to both sound sources.  The closest turned towards the running team just as they leaped through the event horizon. 

"Drop the shield," Sheppard heard McKay shouting to Chuck. 

The leading three segments of the giant insect that attempted to follow them were severed as the shield dropped into place.  Sheppard heard the distinctive thud of the remaining portion of the animal slamming against far side of the shield.  The dismembered segments that had managed to pass through into the gateroom continued to twitch and clatter for several minutes as the last of its biological processes shut down. 

As though on cue, Sheppard was surrounded by medics.  They eased him on to a stretcher and were wheeling him from the gateroom when he focused on Beckett's somber features.  "Honestly, Colonel," Beckett said, his brogue thicker than usual as he clucked his tongue in dismay, "What is it with you and your propensity for collecting large insects?  Bring it along, lads," the doctor said to several of his technicians, indicating the insect's 'head' with a nod of his own.  "I'm sure we'll need some samples to find out what this one has injected into the good colonel."

Sheppard just closed his eyes and sighed.  He was in good hands.  Then he opened them briefly to assure himself that Ronon, Teyla and McKay were right behind his gurney.  They were. 

 

(the end)

 

Comments

I loved all the visual details of this, the white beach and surf. You pulled me into John's hallucination and I was really caught up in his disorientation.

The insects, their attraction to vibration and John's solution were all clever.

A fun read!
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
This was great! Thank you!! Sun, sand, surf... and Pegasus bugs. :)

<< They eased him on to a stretcher and were wheeling him from the gateroom when he focused on Beckett's somber features. "Honestly, Colonel," Beckett said, his brogue thicker than usual as he clucked his tongue in dismay, "What is it with you and your propensity for collecting large insects? Bring it along, lads," the doctor said to several of his technicians, indicating the insect's 'head' with a nod of his own. "I'm sure we'll need some samples to find out what this one has injected into the good colonel.">>

LOL! The rest of the fic was no laughing matter, of course, but I had to single out this paragraph as one of my favorites. :) Love it!
I'm so glad you liked it! The sun, sand and such had me thinking for a while about how I was going to work them into an H/C fic. I'm happy it worked.
Well done. And, yes, with is with poor John always attracting large insects? ;)
John and his thing with big bugs! This was very enjoyable - lovely description, teamwork, and well written.

Thank you!
oooh, I loved the Lotus Eaters feel to the opening and the way it didn't feel quite right but you couldn't put your finger on it. Very nice with the Veliociraptor Bugs and I loved Rodney's playing of the 1812 Overture just to annoy John!

I sighed with John when they made it back to the city!
John's dread of bugs and Rodney's dismay at losing his computer--h/c for them both. A nice contrast--the explosive ending vs. the dreamy beginning.
eeeeeek!! awesome monsters! awesome team kickass!

poor John. not even a little bit of a break for the poor guy. :) I loved the dream segue, it was so vivid.
LOL - John really does have bad luck with bugs. Great details giving me a good mental image to work with - I love that. You have to love Carson's reaction at the end. Poor doc isn't even surprised any more.
Ha ha! This was a cool read! Sheppard and his bugs :D
I have to say, the line below says it all for me:

"Honestly, Colonel," Beckett said, his brogue thicker than usual as he clucked his tongue in dismay, "What is it with you and your propensity for collecting large insects?"

I REALLY loved that so much! Seriously, what is it with Shep and bugs? Hehe!

Great story. Loved the sun, surf AND annoying BIG fat bugs . . lulled me into a false sense of security there for a while until I realised what was going on!

I liked the insects and the way they were attracted to vibration,and I loved Shep's hallucination!Poor guy just can't catch a break- thank goodness!! Great job. Thanks for sharing!:)
Oh, John and his Pegasus bugs! This was a fun read. I was thoroughly with him at the beginning, daydreaming about a little sun and surf myself, and didn't realize something was already wrong until he saw his team running toward him and he wasn't able to move. The shift from bliss to disorientation and attack by giant bugs made for a great read!
This is very effective. I really like the logic behind the tracking method of the bugs and the solution John comes up with.
Loved this. Ah dear, poor Sheppard and his bug attraction!! Great adventure with the team all together adn even at the end, with Sheppard as he goes to the infirmary. The solution for distracting the bugs was ingenius my dear!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful whump and adventure.
That was great! Poor John and all those bugs! I loved how you wrote his confusion after getting stung. I even got some sound effects while reading - the cicadas outside started hissing...creepy! A very enjoyable read, thanks! :)
what is it with John and Bugs? Heee, i enjoyed this though. The big bugs like a mutant 1930's sci-fi B movie were still pretty scary, but i'm glad John and Rodney figured out a way to divert them. Loved Carson's weary comment about bringing the alien bug part with them for samples.
Great story! I really liked how this one started! Caught me off guard. ;)

Then he whump and team *luffs team*

Excellent! :)
Loved that you started out in the middle of the hallucination then turned sun 'n' fun into the battle of the bugs in a quick left turn. And very happy that John was the one who came up with the brilliant idea. Nice job!
A very enjoyable read with a good mix of peril and h/c. Nice effect in the opening with the apparent paradise and the shift to reality.
I love this!

The beach, John's confusion, the Team worrying about John...

Oh John, always with the bugs... :D

Thank you! :)