Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Highlander
Rating: General Audiences
Prompt: #20 colorless
The list in order can be found here from chapter one "Strangers in Paradise" here <"strangers">
Disclaimer: Highlander: the Series belongs to Panzer/Davis Productions and its producers and directors. Stargate Atlantis belongs to MGM Productions, Gekko Film Corp. etc; neither belongs to me. Note: The story picks up shortly after where the previous story “Last Night on a Dying Earth”
<"lastnight"> left off.
“Domesticating Ghosts” by karrenia
Methos had always known that there was something the various regimes of the world had kept hidden from the general public; this had been true even way back before the advent of the global society and advanced technology. Secrets within secrets, wheels within wheels, and not all of them, hell, as the oldest living immortal, he could practically be considered the poster boy of the need and reasoning for keeping secrets.
‘Hell’, Methos thought, ”It’s good tactics if not the best public relations. If I were I charge I’d be inclined to adopt a similar policy.’ However, seeing the confirmation of the abstract made a concrete reality and with a sinking feeling in his gut akin to a sucker punch Methos refused to admit that he felt overwhelmed with the alien architecture and technology that surrounded him on all sides of the Atlantis base.
And on the heels of that particular thought, another one occurred to him, one that would have more immediate consequences for him personally, it had become more and more apparent that both of his fellow Immortals, Duncan MacLeod and his protégé Riche Ryan had much more familiarity and working knowledge of these systems than did.
He hated that fact most of all. Throughout the entire time of their acquaintance Methos, or in his adopted identity of mild-mannered perpetual graduate student, Adam Pierson; had been accustomed to being the one with all the answers. He had been accustomed to playing the game of one man up, and giving off the mystique of knowing more than anyone else in the room, but playing coy with those same answers.
“MacLeod is going to rib me without mercy. I know him too well. However, he is and always will be too much of a boy scout to admit to it.”
“Hey, you were saying?” Richie inquired from where he stood next to Dr. Rodney McKay in the room designated the Puddle Jumper Bay.
“Never mind,” Methos gruffly muttered. “So how do these things work?”
“Difficult to explain, it’s best if you got strapped in and I’ll explain as we go,” replied Rodney.
“Can I pilot? Richie eagerly asked.
“No, I don’t want to end up in the drink again.”
“Hey, in my defense that only happened once and even Sheppard said I was getting better at it.. I bet even Dr. Beckett ended up in the drink once or twice!” Richie said as they all waited for the boarding hatch to open and they climbed inside.
“Yeah, but maybe so, Ryan, “Rodney tossed over his shoulder as he stepped up and into the interior of the Puddle Jumper and took a seat in the pilot’s chair.
“However, I for one would not care to repeat the experience, and while I suspect that our friend here, Pierson or Methos or whatever he wants to call himself, would certainly benefit from the experience; so why don’t we let him learn from his own mistakes first?”
Richie thought this over for the moment: He liked Dr. McKay and his snarky guy who thought himself smarter-than-everyone else in the room attitude, but it did make this more difficult, and finally replied: “Works for me.”
“I’m sitting right here, you know?” Methos stated with a disdainful sneer curling up the corners of his mouth.
“Yeah, we know,” Rodney replied. “Strap in and I’ll radio for clearance for take-off.”
Throughout the trip McKay could not help but notice that Methos gave off a distinct scent that reminded him of nothing so much as pine resin and beer. And his both Teyla and Sheppard had remarked it made for an unusual combination. The beer part he could understand, not that Atlantis had an unlimited supply of hard liquor at their disposal, but the man was capable of consuming a lot of it in one go.
The other off=putting thing to McKay’s way of thinking, was the tree-resin smell, something that Carson had noticed as well, and had compared to the age rings that one could find on a tree; the more rings the older the tree.
In the back of his mind McKay thought,” How old is this guy supposed to be anyway? Each time when he thought he could get away with staring at him, he found that disconcerting blue=eyed gaze staring back at him, unblinking like the stare of lizard. “Huh, nothing. Do you want to learn how to fly this baby, or don’t you?” he testily replied.
Methos nodded, and evenly replied. “Of course, I do. But so far, you haven’t let me do anything except push the ignition button.”
Just at that precise moment and before Rodney McKay could properly formulate a sarcastic retort appropriate to the situation the entire ship shuddered around them. The gauges on both men’s consoles began to fluctuate wildly and the shuddering sensation continued, this time even more pronounced than before. Rodney clenched his teeth and attempted to run an intercept course. The difficult of course being that he could not see whatever it was that was attacking them.
Methos was well aware that he’d only been trained on the basics of the Puddle Jumper’s controls and parameters and given a passing grade on the simulator. With that in mind he checked the readouts as best he could, irked at the fact that he did not have the luxury of time of staring daggers at his trainer, because of the continual barrel rolls that Rodney put the ship through.
“I don’t know how much more of this the ship can take,” he remarked.
“If I didn’t know any better, I think we’ve run into an electro-magnetic force-field,” McKay replied through gritted teeth. “And you’re right. I suspect that if we continue to fly against the current as it were, we might very well be torn apart.”
“Oh, I feel so much better now,” Methos griped.
“Check the long-range sensors. See if you can find us a safe place to set down,” McKay instructed.
Methos did as he was asked and after a short while located a likely looking spot about 100 yards to the north of their present position.
“There,” he pointed to the cross-hatching grid on the view-screen.
The puddle jumper came to a bumpy and rolling landing, jolting both men in their seats, all to the tune of McKay’s grumbling about the proper alignment of the installed shock absorbers. It was a very near thing, but after describing a barrel roll the ship eventually came to a halt at the base of over-grown granite cliff.
The automatic access port still functioned and they were able to emerge from the Puddle Jumper with some effort.
Once on they ground Rodney glared at Methos and said: “Don’t even think about it.”
“Oh, that old bromide that any crash that you can walk away from is a good one?”
“Can you get it flying again?”
“With the time and the proper tools, than maybe,” Rodney hedged, “but time is one thing we have plenty of, the tools, not so much. This was supposed to be a routine dry run, and now it’s become a search and rescue mission. Sheppard is going to have a fit!”
“How will they know to come and look for us?”
“How can you be so sanguine about this!”
“Because I can,” Methos calmly replied. “Now will you answer my question, and more importantly I wonder if the natives of this planet are friendly and if so, if they have any beer.”
Rodney reached up to finger-comb his fingers through the unruly thatch of his dark hair, obviously an outlet for the frustration and anger building up inside of him. “Why me! Why did I get saddled with giving you your first dry run? Why couldn’t it have been Carson?”
Taking his attention off of his companion for a brief moment to regard his immediate surroundings, Methos realized that they had landed in the middle of the midst of plain of rolling hills. A line of deciduous trees of mingled species marched on either shoulder all the way to the distantly glimpsed horizon. To his immediate left was a row of standing stones, which indicated at some time there must have been people here to have built and placed those here.
Rodney left off his haranguing and stomped over to join him where he stood, there’s a road,
They walked down to the distant silver ribbon that was indeed a road of sorts, although unpaved, as he took one look at the road and then another back at the disabled Puddle Jumper Rodney Mckay could not help thinking that there was something definitely wrong with this picture. Either the planet had a naturally occurring gravimetric force-field which had forced them down.
Or, the natives had erected that energy field as measure of protection for themselves. They again, if it had been well, man-made, then they might very well be in trouble.
“Does the radio still work?”
“No, don’t you think I checked that first thing, before we crashed?”
“Do you have to be so testy all the time?” Methos griped. “It was a simple question.”
“The first thing about electro-magnetic fields, they play havoc on electronic systems.” Rodney rolled his neck in order to loosen the tight muscles that had been much abused of late and appeared completely oblivious at his companion’s more barbed comments.
“So, the answer is no, then.”
“Yeah, I think we should grab whatever we can carry from the ship and check this place out,” he said aloud.
Methos nodded and turned around and he squeezed back inside, and Rodney followed him, finding it tighter fit, but after some time fumbling around, they eventually came out again with two back packs stuffed full of standard issue survival gear, weapons, and sundry other items.
“Let’s go,” he said aloud.
Then they began to walk, with long loping strides designed to eat up the miles, and by night fall they could find a place to lie up for the oncoming evening.
Methos glanced up and paused a moment to admire the prismatic effect on the night sky lit up by what could only be described as an Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. It was beautiful, but with the havoc that very same energy field had played with their only means of transport, it could be both beautiful and dangerous at the same time.
Meanwhile back at the Altantis base Sheppard met with Dr. Elizabeth Weir, concerned but not yet alarmed at Mckay and Methos’ failure to report in at their scheduled check-in time.
“We still have their recorded flight plan in the computer database, should it be a simple matter to pinpoint where they fell off the grid,” Sheppard said.
“Agreed, but what concerns me, “she replied, “Is what caused it to happen in the first place.”
“It could be as simple a matter as Rodney forgetting to check in because he was distracted by something more interesting,” he replied.
Elizabeth Weir had lived and worked with Colonel John Sheppard for almost two years now and had believed she knew his nuances as well as anyone, but that droll, confident attitude did tend to grate on her nerves every once in a while. She’d just finished negotiating a cease-fire with the Genini, and the threat of the Wraith was always around the corner. As much as she respected Rodney Mckay’s brilliance and the invaluable service he could be to the Atlantis mission could she really afford to risk even more personnel on a search and rescue mission for two men?
She leaned back in her chair and stared around at conference room silent weighing the pros and cons before committing to it, then bent forward once more with her fingers laced before and locked gazes with Sheppard. “Just bring them back in one piece, John.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Sheppard saluted and flashed her one of his trade-marked confident grins.
Sheppard and his team stepped through the event horizon of the Gate, uncertain what if anything to expect on the other side. Although he would never admit to anyone, not even Teyla, even he was becoming just a little bit jumpy when it came to the uncanny ability of the Wratih to show up wherever and whenever they arrived on a planet.
He took a glance around ordering his team to fan out for a quick permiter check, with that task done,a and satisfied that there was no immediate threat, they began to march.
Several hours in they came upon the downed Puddle Jumper. Seeing as the dome of the sky was quickly going through the prismatic color change from day into night, Sheppard called a halt to the search for the night.
They would pick up the search in the morning
“Who the hell are you talking to?” Rodney demanded.
For his part Methos did not respond right away, following the faintly luminescent trail that led deeper into the copse of trees, leaving his companion fuming and standing at the edge of the small village.
The villagers had made him welcome, but neither man had seen anything that argued on behalf that they’d been capable of creating that electro-magnetic weapon, if it was indeed a weapon of sorts.
Rodney had insisted on doing the talking, and Methos had been content to let him do so. They’d been in the village for only three days and both were getting anxious, wondering how long it would be before their absence was noticed and whether anyone would be come to extricated them from their current situation.
He had felt distinctly out-of place, and out of step with his new surroundings, new experiences and way of life in the Pegasus Galaxy. And while he’d much prefer to be alive rather than blown to his component atoms, there was so much to assimilate here.
In the back of his mind Methos he wondered if allowing a compelling but disembodied force into the dark woods at midnight was a bone-headed thing to do. Not that long ago he and Joe Dawson had been instrumental in helping Duncan MacLeod overcome the considerable physical and physiological effects of a Dark Quickening.
Yet even as that particular thought crossed his mind he wondered what would happen if they had not been completely successful in that regard.
Images flickered at the edges of his vision, and suddenly he was engulfed in a fog bank as thick as any he had ever encountered. Walking deeper and deeper into the interior of the forest Methos could not help but feel that he was no longer the master of his own mind. He turned his head, the movement as slow and cumbersome as if it weighed a great deal more than it actually did.
Voices whispered, just on the edge of dissonance and comprehension, and his fingers twitched and he suddenly felt an almost overwhelming urge to turn on his heels and get the hell out of this eerie forest.
Even as thought crossed his mind Methos reached down to feel the outline of his sword concealed under his jacket. He had discarded his back pack somewhere along the path, too.
Invisible fingers tugged at his sleeves and hem of his jacket
Out of the mist figures appeared, some he recognized, some he did not, there were his old companions from his days of the Four Horsemen, some more recent, but all wore various expressions varying from rage, sardonic humor, grief, and others harder to read. It was only when they rushed forward and began to attack him did Methos whip out his sword and begin to press his own attack.
Rodney, against his better judgment followed a good distance behind, wondering if there was another force at work here that made otherwise reasonably sane people act like total morons. Because anyone in their right mind would not voluntarily go wandering into the woods at night. Even the natives knew better than that, they had claimed that the woods were haunted, the abode of ghosts and other things that went bump in the night. Of course, as a man of science Rodney Mckay did not believe in the supernatural, but that did not mean that something was lurking in there. “
“Damn it! Methos, were the hell are you! Why won’t you answer me?”
He stumbled through and over a giant downed tree and into a glade, its dimensions half-hidden by the triangles of falling sunlight gleaming down at right angles through breaks in the forest roof. He opened his eyes even wider to watch as his companion, sweating and wild-haired flailed at shadows with a drawn sword. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The muscles of Methos’ neck were stretched taut as if he were straining against an invisible obstacle and his body was locked in a tight upright position, that the merest shove would knock him off balance and down to the thick ground cover. Without thinking it over too much Rodney McKay rushed forward and shoved.
The other man crumpled to the ground with a groan. “I need beer, and lots of it.”
“They have some kind of liquor in the village, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a decent beer, if you think you really need it.”
Methos rolled over where he lay on the ground and stared up at McKay. “As long as it’s drinkable, I don’t care what it tastes like. Help me up.”
Rodney bent over and extended a hand. “You’re welcome,” he muttered under his breath.
“What happened here?”
“Something weird,” Methos replied as he glanced around the brightening clearing. “Even for me”.
“You know, it has occurred to me that,” Radek Zelenka said, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hands, “after reading their after mission-report that with time and some modifications that the electro-magnetic field that brought you down is a remnant of a much older civilization.”
“Ancient technology?” Sheppard asked.
“Not quite that old, but much older than anything we’ve encountered anywhere else except the city, of course.”
“Ancients? Methos echoed. This was the first time anyone had inferred that the alien technology that everyone here seemed to take for granted had an other-worldly source. He definitely needed to learn more, but he also felt that now was not the time to press his point.
“Then how do you explain, uh the vision quest that Methos here described?” Rodney demanded.
“I can’t. Not as yet,” Zelenka.
“It might help if he had allowed me to question him further on the nature of those visions,” Dr. Carson Beckkett quietly remarked.
Methos shrugged and said, I can’t explain, other than it was well, as they used to say in the 70’s, it was trippy, dude.”
“Good luck with that!” Richie Ryan remarked in an aside comment to Teyla, “He’s never been, shall we say, forthcoming about anything.”
“That could present a problem, moving forward,” Teyla replied.
“Would all of you give me a damn break!” Methos exclaimed. “I experienced something on that moth-ball of a planet that damn near drove me out of my skin, and I can’t explain any more than it felt like a fever-dream combined with an out-of-body experience! What more do what from me!”
Sheppard raised a single eye-brow and said. “Maybe a little more cooperation.”
“Damn it. I need beer, and lots of it.”