Type: Gen-ish… overtones...
The title is a big fat juicy clue as to the content.
I’m totally blaming teenygozer for this. It’s all her fault. She’s the evul enabler... without her this fic wouldn't exist. She did double B duties -- beta and brainstorming. All I was doing was telling her about the haunted hotel in the Netherlands and she made this happen:
By Sealie for Celeste
“I really don’t want to stay. Really don't want to. I want to go home. Now,” Rodney said truculently.
“Don’t be such a kid.” John tugged at his vest as he looked up at the guest house on the top of the hill.
Rodney jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Puddlejumper hidden in the trees. We can be home in twenty minutes.”
“The Nephilli have been very gracious,” Teyla said smoothly. “They are unaware that we can return easily to Atlantis and have kindly offered us accommodation.”
“Well, bully for them,” Rodney said with a faux British accent. “I still don’t want to stay in the Bates Motel.”
“It’s not that bad,” John said, “it’s sort of more Gothic.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?!”
Ronon spun his blaster over his finger. “I’m tired. Let’s crash. They said they’d feed us.”
“I’m sure they will,” Rodney said bitingly. “The question is, to what?”
“Okay, no.” Rodney came to an abrupt stop. “I am not sleeping in this room.”
Sheppard planted a hand right between Rodney’s shoulder blades and pushed, hard.
“Ow!” Rodney complained, predictably, as he slid into the room.
The lights were low, casting orange shadows throughout a dark auburn-dressed room. A football field-sized bed sat in the centre lacking headboard or pillow – only a mound of quilts which might have been claret red, black or even blue or a combination of all three in the dim lights.
“I’m not sharing,” Rodney said focussing on the lonely bed.
“You know we double up on missions. Teyla won the toss.” Sheppard laid his P-90 on the ornately carved dresser. Above the dresser was a mirror. The frame was dressed in bronze with two naked cherubs clinging to the frame looking into the mirror to gaze at their reflections. A third cherub glared outwards at the world as it perched on the top ready to fly. “Holy cow, that’s nasty.”
The reflection in the mirror showed two deformed Rodneys facing forwards and back. Sheppard spun on his heel.
Across the room, Rodney stood before an immense mirror which stretched from floor to ceiling. The mirror's silver was pitted and scarred so that any reflection was rendered garish. Directly opposite one another, images stretched into infinity. Somewhere, Sheppard’s superstitious grandmother turned over in her grave.
“Okay.” Rodney turned, reflections spinning, and crossed his arms over his chest. “No way. Let’s go home.”
“And we tell the nice, very tall people we think that they’re creepy and would rather trail back through the dark, dank, predator-infested forest only lit by a pair of gibbous moons--”
“Are you listening to yourself?” Rodney pointed straight through the giant-sized double windows direct at the puddlejumper hidden in the woods. “Home: twenty minutes. Look we can get out via the balcony. Quick shimmy down the ever-so-convenient vines which are bound to be crawling up a trellis and we can be out of this horrid place.”
“Who knew that you were so sensitive to ambiance,” Sheppard said mockingly. “We’ll offend the locals if we book.”
“I have no problem with offending these people, even if they do have a crude form of tech and are potential allies.” Rodney made mocking speech marks with his fingers as he said ‘allies’.
“Yes, potential allies.” Sheppard pointed at the low watt candelabra overhead. “So we’re not leaving. Teyla trusts them.”
Rodney in turn glowered at the guttering array of wax-dripping candles dotted around the room. “Even if they do seem to prefer candles.”
They both jumped when a heavy hand banged at the door. Ronon lumbered in.
“Dinner is served.”
Rodney cast a dark, dark glare at Sheppard.
Teyla had changed into a long, flowing, wine-red dress and was waiting for them in the great hall as they entered. She leaned up against the mantle of a stone fireplace. The roaring fire warmed the room. Ronon stood on the opposite side of the fire, face impassive, arms crossed.
Rodney leaned into Sheppard’s personal space. “If Ronon’s turned into Lurch and Teyla’s the femme fatale, what does that make you?”
“The hero,” Sheppard responded instantly. “And you, I guess, comic relief.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “I, I’ll have you know, am the brains of the expedition. The Sherlock Holmes. You can be the dumb sidekick, Dr. Watson.”
“Holmes wouldn’t have been anything without Watson.”
“They’re off again.” Ronon left his post and flopped into one of the enormous gilt-edged chairs by the table. The chair was a giant hug of a chair, padded and ornate, back rising head and shoulders over Ronon.
“Where are our hosts?” Rodney moseyed over to the long table, unconsciously rising on his toes to survey the vast repast. The centre piece was an honest to goodness stuffed roast thing with what looked like an apple forced between its gaping, toothy jaws. Four places were set, well-spaced apart on the long table.
Teyla tooled a finger around the rim of a goblet. “The Nephilli consider it to be Highly Offensive to look upon non-family members while eating.”
“Family,” Ronon echoed and popped a bread roll in his mouth.
“Does that taste all right?” Rodney perked up.
“Yep.” Ronon lobbed another roll across the width of the table. Rodney snapped it out of the air as if a hockey puck fired into the crowd.
A flash of light outside illuminated the edges of the heavy curtain; a double-barrelled peal of thunder rocked the room. Hail-like rain pummelled the windows.
“Oh, can this get worse?” Rodney said around a mouthful of bread. “Where’s the spooky music?”
“You watch far too much television.” Sheppard hiked himself up onto the chair at the head of the table, back to the fire, facing the doors. “Soup smells good.”
“The Nephilli did say that there would be a storm tonight. Thus, they invited us to stay.” Teyla coasted along the length of the table heading for the end seat opposite Sheppard.
“Very kind, too.” Rodney eyed the plump cushion that the Nephilli had placed on the last chair. Grumbling, he clambered up to sit facing Ronon, who pushed a sampled dish in his direction.
“Well, this is cosy.” Sheppard grinned and Rodney just knew that he was kicking his feet back and forth like a kid under the table. “Bit like Thanksgiving.”
“What kind of creepy-assed family home did you live in?” Rodney waved both hands expansively, at the candle wax dripping chandelier over the table, gold and silver dishes, dark wood panelling.
“I meant table, food, dressed up nicely.” He toasted Teyla with a goblet.
“They didn’t leave us any clothes,” Rodney said sullenly.
“The Nephilli Hierophant noticed that my trousers and the tails of my coat were damp after walking through the forest and kindly offered to launder my clothes.”
“Well, very fetching.” Rodney applied himself to his meal.
Rodney crouched by their bedroom door, meticulously checking the baseboard. Inch by inch, he had cased the room.
John lay on the bed, hands behind his head, propped up on the roll of quilt that was their designated pillow. The Nephilli didn’t seem to believe in pillows, despite being fond of plush, red draperies. Earlier, John had commented that some tasselled, red cushions to lounge upon would not have gone amiss – Rodney hadn’t been amused.
“What are you doing?” Sheppard drawled.
“Checking for secret passages.”
Sheppard couldn’t help but laugh. “Come on, McKay. It’s creepy, I grant you. But a Hammer House of Horror film?”
There was a polite little tap on the door. Rodney stood, reached up, caught the latch and opened the door.
“Oh.” A tall young man blinked heavily mascara-ed lashes down at him. “I forgot to bring you your pillows. Don’t tell my father.”
He thrust the tasselled, red pillows into Rodney’s hands, turned and ran, long smock tails flapping.
“Very weird.” Rodney peered down the corridor. “His father? Do you think his father’s thirteen foot tall? Mammoth-dad? Telephone pole dad?”
“Probably,” John said unconcerned as he lounged. Yep, he had been one hundred percent correct about the gold and scarlet trimmed pillows.
Rodney spun delicately on his heel and kicked the door shut with a thump.
“Your pillows, sir,” Rodney said.
“Thank you, Dr. Watson.”
“Hey, I’m Sherlock Holmes,” McKay said and fired the first of the pillow barrage at Sheppard.
John's shriek as McKay laid into him was purely unintentional. But he was a military-trained officer and could retaliate. McKay winced as John batted him around the head. Feathers flew.
“Hey!” Ronon’s boom stopped them dead, as McKay sat on John using his greater weight to pin him to the bed.
“What?” Rodney huffed breathlessly.
Ronon holstered his blaster. “I thought you were under attack.”
“I am,” John said.
A disapproving Teyla looked around Ronon. “Please be quiet. Ronon and I are in the room next door. We are trying to get some sleep.”
Sheppard bent his right knee, twisted his right arm -- pinned above his head -- down and used a deft application of leverage to launch Rodney right off the high bed.
“We are going now to get some rest. It may stop raining later,” Teyla drew Ronon from the room, firmly closing the door.
“K,” John said absently. He walked on his elbows to the edge of the bed and peered over. A pink-faced Rodney lay on the hard wood floor.
“You want the first shift or the second shift?” Sheppard asked, unrepentant and knowing exaggeration when he heard it.
“Neither. Teyla’s sleeping or trying to. There’s no reason that we can’t,” Rodney said rhetorically. “A genius needs a certain amount of sleep. Teyla says that the Athosians have been visiting the Nephilli for millennia...”
“I’m not comfortable--”
“Uh-uh-uh,” Rodney said, squelching John’s protest as he reached into his vest. “Life signs detector. I’ll programme mine to act as a proximity alarm. It will detect any movement in a set radius.”
“Unless it’s a ghost. Ooooh oooo oooo.” John waggled his fingers.
“Even ghosts, presuming they exist, will present electromagnetically.”
Rodney rolled onto his stomach and stubby fingers tapped at the life signs detector. Ancient text scrolled and the LCD-type screen showed the boundary of the room. Another tap dance of buttons and programming and he extended the perimeter to include Ronon and Teyla’s room, plus a yard-width of the corridor outside their rooms. With a pleased rat-tat-at on the unit, Rodney initiated the set up and laid the sensor on the floor.
“Won’t it go off if we move?”
“No, I set it to exclude our, and only our, sub-dermal transmitters, anyone else in the vicinity and ‘alarum bells’ will toll.”
“Alarum bells?” John raised an eyebrow deliberately.
“Seems appropriate.” Rodney shifted onto his haunches. “I’m going to leave it on the floor here, since we don’t seem to have a bedside table.”
“Set it on the dresser.” Sheppard sat up, and applied himself to unlacing his combat boots.
“I don’t believe that you sat on our bed with your boots on.” Rodney took a running jump onto the high bed and thumped down next to him, deliberately toeing off his walking boots onto the floor. “So we’re not sleeping with our boots on?”
“Just shoes and jackets,” Sheppard said circumspectly. “You know, there’s vibes.”
“Ha.” Rodney rubbed at his bare arms. “Still want a quilt.”
“Knock yourself out.” Sheppard grabbed one of their pillows, punched it into submission. “So do you think that...?”
Rodney was down for the count, face planted straight into the pillow in the most uncomfortable way imaginable. John flipped the edge of a quilt over his shoulders.
Mentally, John commanded the lights off, and pouted when they didn’t obey. He had to get out of bed and physically turn them off – life officially sucked.
^..^ purrr, purrr, purrr
The rattle of the balcony windows being tested had Sheppard sitting up in the space of a heartbeat.
“What?” The next instance had the P90 lying beside him in his hands. A flash of lightning illuminated the room. Nothing moved. The life signs detector on the dresser glowed, the interface a neutral blue. Thunder pealed. The balcony doors rattled again.
Sheppard scrubbed at his face. “McKay?”
A heavy-limbed Rodney slept undisturbed, mouth open, raspy breaths in the back of his throat.
Feeling foolish, Sheppard relaxed, vertebrae unkinking by vertebrae until the ceiling filled his vision.
A Wraith stood at the bottom of the bed. Slowly, it set a leather-clad knee on the edge of the bed. It smiled, all pointed teeth and offensively waggling tongue.
“It’s a dream,” Sheppard told himself. “A dream.”
That pink, pink tongue came out to cat-lick at its black talons.
Leaning, it carefully placed a saliva slicked hand on the quilt covering him and pulled. The eiderdown slipped down Sheppard’s body. Leisurely, he was uncovered, inch by inch.
“Dream,” he repeated. It had to be. “Rodney?”
He couldn’t move; that was right -- you were paralysed in dreams. He couldn’t even turn his head to check on Rodney.
The Wraith slithered onto the bed. A single talon stroked the inside seam of his trousers above his knee. A surge of adrenalin and Sheppard managed to turn his head.
A desiccated husk greeted him, lips peeled back -- mouth open in a rictus of a grin. The scream was unspoken.
“Sheppard? John!” Flappy hands pawed at his face. “Wake up.”
“Rodney.” Frantically, Sheppard grabbed at Rodney’s t-shirt and yanked it up over his collarbone.
McKay eeked loudly, “Getoff!”
The expanse of pasty white flesh was smooth and unblemished. The tuft of sparse hair in the centre of his chest was unmarred by the rent of a feeding mark. Rodney got a hold of his t-shirt and pulled it down.
“What the hell was that for – Oh, yes. Well.” Rodney wasn’t as emotionally dense as he pretended to be. “No Wraith. We’re all right. It was a dream.”
“Fucking hell.” Sheppard swabbed at his forehead, it was slick with sweat. “I should have known. It looked like Gary Oldman. I don’t care if the marines think watching vampire films is fun – I’m boycotting the next one. Geez.”
“You screamed like a girl,” Rodney said conversationally.
“Oh, thanks,” Sheppard shot back, flopping to his mashed pillows and then, “Really?”
“Really,” Rodney smirked.
“So where are Ronon and Teyla?”
“Oh.” Rodney was off the bed and over by the life signs detector before Sheppard could blink. “They’re not in their room. It’s empty.”
One step, P-90; two step, door; three step, corridor; four steps and into their team-mates’ room. Rodney was at his back, SIG P-226 in his clasped hands pointed at the floor. The room was empty.
“The bed’s made up,” Rodney said. “That doesn’t make sense.”
Their room also looked as if it had stepped out of a Harlequin Romance or an episode of Masterpiece Theatre. But Rodney had his finger on the pulse.
“They were in the room,” Rodney continued, “for almost three hours and they never even sat on the bed?”
“Are you picking them up on the life signs detector?”
“No. They must have left of their own accord.”
“How do you know?”
Sheppard lifted an eyebrow in question.
“No alarm, therefore no unknowns in the vicinity. No sign of a struggle. Indeed, they found the time to make the bed before they absconded. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, Dr. Watson.”
“I am not the sidekick.”
“Oh, yes, you are.”
“Oh, no, I’m not.”
“Oh, yes, you are.”
“Oh, no, I’m not.”
“Solve the mystery, then, Dr. Watson.” Rodney lifted his chin challengingly.
“Okay.” Sheppard pointed. “What’s the range on that thing?”
Rodney held up the life signs detector. “Two hundred metres.”
“So they’ve left the building.”
“Excellent deduction, Dr. Watson.”
“What about the thick stone walls? Would that affect the signal strength?”
“It could,” Rodney said truculently.
“Let’s do a quick recon before we get the hell out of here.”
>^..^< cough, cough (furball)
Sheppard had the lead, illuminating their way with the tactical flashlight from his P-90.
“Why the hell would they leave without telling us?” Sheppard shifted his vest with his elbow checking that he had the puddlejumper remote. But even if they had taken the remote, to what purpose? -- Ronon and Teyla couldn’t fly the ship.
They turned down another labyrinthine corridor.
“Have you any idea where we are?” Rodney hefted an ornate candle stick off a sculpted sideboard, shining flickering light on the surroundings. “Can you find your way anywhere on the ground?”
“Are these corridors moving?” John ignored the snippy bite.
“Corridors don’t move.” Rodney held out the life signs detector in his other hand. “Oh, that’s weird. I could have sworn that the corridor turned right.”
“Ha!” Sheppard jabbed a finger.
“How about we go get the puddlejumper and come back with a platoon of marines?”
“’k.” P-90 primed, flashlight guiding their way, Sheppard skirted the wall, presenting the least conspicuous target possible.
“So you’re down with this plan.” Rodney trooped along after him down the middle of the corridor.
“Yeah, man, I’m really down with it.” Sheppard rolled his eyes. “Unless we find Teyla and Ronon first or a trail to where Ronon and Teyla are or--”
“I get the picture.”
“Hey, we’ve got to get out of the Addams Family’s mansion first.”
“They’re creepy and they’re cooky, mysterious and spooky,” Rodney sang under his breath.
“Shush!” Sheppard raised his hand and Rodney stopped dead.
Sheppard pointed the flashlight attached to the barrel at a glistening, dark patch on the floor. Rodney peered around him.
“What is it? It looks like--” Rodney jerked forward. “--blood?”
“It’s too dark and wet.”
“Oh, great,” Rodney grumbled as he crouched down to better peer at the mess. He touched a ball-point pen into the liquid and brought the end up to sniff. “It doesn’t smell like blood. Alien blood. Ronon-damage?”
“Could be,” Sheppard said.
Rodney whipped out his energy detector and scanned the tip of his pen. “Weird. What? I registered neutrinos! Neutrinos!”
“Neutrinos!” Rodney stood and turned in a half circle, intent on his detector.
“But. But.” Rodney pushed the energy detector right into John’s face. “Fermi’s neutrinos. Do you know how improbable it is that I could detect them? I need to get back to Atlantis and download the data-log of my detector to better analyse the readings.”
“Are you sure that we can’t just leave and come back.”
“It’s Ronon and Teyla, McKay.”
Rodney had the grace to look a little abashed (for a second). “But back-up would be useful.”
“Come on; let’s find the rest of our team.”
“I don’t believe this place.” Rodney lifted the candlestick high, trying to shine the poor glow a little further. Three stuffed animal heads were hung on the wall arranged in a neat little triangle. “Are these people just demented?”
John cocked his head to the side, trying to figure out what exactly he was looking at. For some reason, each creature’s four shiny black eyes set close together made his stomach turn.
“What are they?” Rodney asked the world at large. “Spider rabbits? Teeth or claws?”
John moved ahead. Some things were better not contemplated and creepy spider-like compound eyes were one of them.
Sheppard stopped dead.
“Contemplating getting that back-up now?” Rodney asked nonchalantly.
John blasted through the heavy doors into the massive dining room, propelling Rodney ahead of him with a stiff arm.
“Table! Table! Table! ” Rodney put on a burst of speed. His shrieks reverberated off the vaulted ceiling.
John leaped past him with the grace of a gazelle pursued by a leopard (or a Lieutenant Colonel with severe entomophobia). A striding leap took him onto the chair, another onto the tabletop still littered with the detritus from their meal. Rodney clambered up behind him and turned to kick the chair over. It cracked against the floor.
A horde of black spider rabbits, their coarse fur shimmery in the candle light, scurried into the room.
“Shit, we should have closed the door.” John kicked over the chair that he had sat on.
“Ha, that would have been sensible.” Rodney scrambled over the remains of their roasted boar beast to knock over another chair.
“Keep an eye on the table legs; make sure that they don’t climb up them.” They were everywhere, turning the floor black. “I don’t believe this is happening.”
“Kowabunga!” Rodney’s improvised Molotov cocktails smashed against the floor. Licking flames and alcohol spread sending spider rabbits scurrying away.
“Go go go!” Sheppard pushed and Rodney jumped, heavy-soled walking boots protecting his feet.
A kick, squeak and a few splats and they were back out the door, Sheppard turning to slam the door shut. A little black paw was crushed under the sill and the rail. It twitched.
“Score!” Rodney exulted, kicking a remaining spider rabbit to splat against the wall.
Not to be outdone, John launched another (wincing dramatically) along the length of the corridor.
“Let’s get out of here and get reinforcements.”
They clattered down the cobblestone path, before veering into the forest and their camouflaged puddlejumper. Dark twisty, finger-like branches seemed to reach down to them as they ran towards their ‘jumper. John could have sworn that one ruffled his hair.
“Force field,” Rodney huffed.
Still running, John flicked the button, the puddlejumper resolved before them, all sharp, silvery lines in the moonlight. The back hatch dropped down for them.
The sound of their boots clattered loud in the ‘jumper’s hold.
“Dial the gate,” John directed, pointing at the DHD console on the dashboard. “How close do we have to be to the gate to initiate it? Do we need to get in the air?”
Rodney didn’t answer, smacking down to his knees and then simply popping off the base of the console’s DHD. John tuned out his muttering, knowing that he was griping about actually taking off and going to the ‘gate versus boosting the signal. Crystals flew back and forth.
“You’ve got five and then we’re physically flying to the gate.” John turned away leaving the maestro to it.
Outside the ‘jumper, the high winds forced the tips of the tall, dark trees back and forth. The only thing missing was the lambent moon currently covered by a rapidly moving bank of cloud. Light from his P90 did little to pierce the darkness.
“Got it,” Rodney said, seconds later. “Must be something in the air. Hmmmm?”
Automatically, Sheppard tapped his ear piece. “Control?”
“Eh, Colonel Sheppard,” Chuck responded. “You’re checking in early. Is everything okay?”
“Where’s Colonel Carter?”
“Oh, she had to go back to the SGC. A mission.”
“Again? Geez.” John rolled his eyes.
“Something about an ark?”
“I guess I’m in charge again. Send three squads of marines. We’ve got some razing to do. Don’t let them forget the flamethrowers this time.”
“Why are we going back to the creepy mansion?” Rodney whined. “Shouldn’t we wait for the marines? You know; the big buff guys with the big guns?”
“Buff? Big guns?” John returned, deliberately raising a mocking eyebrow.
Ignoring the jibe, Rodney peered nervously about trying to see through the dense underbrush. “Did we get turned around?”
“No.” John pointed back along the path they’d tumbled down. Or, more accurately, where he thought that the path should be.
“I should have known! You always get lost.” Rodney pulled out his energy detector. The light set blue spooky shadows against his face.
“Baltar,” John muttered.
“I hate you,” Rodney said. Moonlight reflected in pinpricks of misty drizzle caught up in his fine hair. “Who knows what’s out in these woods? I mean, has it ever struck you as strange that we’ve never seen a Pegasus equivalent of a leopard or bear?”
“Great, just jinx us, why don’t you.” John swung his flashlight back and forth, reassured by the barrel of the P90 beneath it. “Why don’t you speculate on the Wraith coming?”
“Well, that’s hardly unusual. Wraiths. Vampires. It’s a perfect night for them to appear in Gothic World. Or werewolves,” Rodney finished speculatively.
“I was always more scared of werewolves when I was a kid.” Rodney swallowed. “When you think about defeating Count Dracula – you just needed a stake. Willow killed one with a pencil, I mean come on. But how many people do you know who have silver bullets?”
“You made some, didn’t you.”
“I might have,” Rodney said shiftily. Changing the subject, he indicated due north-ish. “The mansion is that way.”
The baying howl wasn’t a surprise to either of them.
^.M.^ I am a were-cat!
“So,” Rodney began conversationally as they perched on a tree branch, “this is new.”
“Nah, not really.” The enormous wolf-thing circled the tree. Occasionally, it stopped and looked up at them and licked its chops.
Face scrunched up, Rodney was thinking hard enough that there was almost a smell of singeing.
“There are commonalities in all the worlds that we’ve visited. You’ve listened to the namby-pamby anthropologists. Houses are angled; we’ve yet to visit Hobbit World--”
“That would be cool,” John mused as he lounged back against the trunk.
“Without Saruman, yes. But the aspects of this world are out of...” He levelled a pointy finger at the mansion that they could -- from their high vantage point -- see. The spires and towers seemed higher and more ornate than earlier in the evening.
“I’ve tried thinking it off. It’s not a virtual reality.”
One hand clinging to a bendy branch, Rodney freed his energy detector from its vest pocket. “I’m not picking up any holographic, coherent light emissions. And yes, it’s too clunky for a virtual reality. I’ve learned how to spot them. But that’s weird -– neutrinos again -- dancing angels on the head of a pin.”
John didn’t ask. He could detect any Ancient tech. Ancient tech liked – no, loved -- him. He knew its amative stroke.
“You all right?” Rodney snapped. “You look a bit constipated. Are you feeling something?”
John shifted on his branch. “The marines will be here soon, they’ll rescue us,” he said changing the subject with a gaucheness that verged on painful.
“And the drizzle’s stopped. Things are looking up, apart from the rabid--” Rodney’s voice began to rise, “--slavering wolf waiting for us to make one false move and fall out of this tree to gobble us up!”
“When you fall, try and land on the wolf. I don’t want to be caught up a tree with you by a squad of marines.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
John made sure to grin toothily so Rodney could see each pearly white amidst the sharp moon-lit shadows.
“Here boy. Here, boy!”
John and Rodney shared a glance. A tall -- they were all tall -- Nephilli skipped along the path, long coat-tails flapping. She had another smaller, blacker, dog on a lead.
Letting out a delighted yip, the chops-licking possible-werewolf gambolled towards the Nephilli, back end waggling from side to side.
“Did you run? Did you run off?” The red cloaked woman crouched to ruffle the wolf’s ears. “There’s a good boy. What did you catch?”
“Uh, hello?” Sheppard called down. “Do you mind keeping a hold of your... uh... dog?”
Vulpine and gothically-pale faces peered up at them. “What are you doing up a tree? Oh, bad, BOY!”
“No. No. That’s okay. We were just being careful.” Agile, Sheppard began to climb down.
“Are you insane?” Rodney growled under his breath as he clung white-knuckled, to his nest of branches.
“She’s out walking her dog.” John dropped the last three metres to the loamy, pine needle-covered floor.
“Little Visitors.” The Nephilli stayed crouched so that they were at comparable head levels. “Little Visitors are always very strange. Are you lost?”
Since they had been up the tree, John actually had a good idea where the mansion was. He pointed.
“Oh, yes, the House of Requirement. Where all the Little Visitors stay when they visit.”
“All visitors?” John checked.
“Yes, all visitors.” She stood making John crane his neck. “We get no few visitors, except at the time of the Moon og Gynt e Athos through the portal.”
“Rodney,” John asked for clarification.
“What? What?” Rodney looked about, suddenly interested in the foliage.
“Okay, I listened to that part of the briefing. Teyla told us that we could only gate to MSG 666 during the Harvest Moon of Gint. I think that she said something about a menhir as well.”
“I figured that they put it in front of the gate. Then I got an AIM from Radek. Colour me distracted.”
“Perhaps I should conduct you both to the House of Requirement.” She held out her hand.
John clutched his P90 to his chest.
Her hand dropped.
“Horrible wet, mizzily, drizzly place,” Rodney grumbled as he shimmied down the tree trunk.
“MSG 666?” John hissed each ‘six’.
“The planetary designation.” Perplexed, Rodney chanced a downward look and promptly fell the last few feet.
John yanked him up by the scruff of his neck.
John gave him a good shake, just to make sure that he got the utter insanity of coming to a planet called MSG 666.
“It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a number. Get off.” Rodney twisted free, huffily crossing his arms.
The Nephilli coughed discretely. “House of Requirement?”
“Actually, I wonder if you could help us? We’ve lost two of our companions,” Sheppard tried to see any hint of deceit in kohl-rimmed eyes. “They left their room. And we don’t know where they went. Anywhere you know where Little Visitors might ... say... hang out?”
“Hang... out?” She seemed vaguely horrified by the suggestion, hand going protectively to her throat.
“Not hung,” Rodney clarified with the panache of an elephant in a rice paddy. “We don’t want them hung. It’s colloquial. I’m never quite sure if the Stargate translates colloquial speech. We’ve lost our team mates.”
“Rodney, you’re not helping,” John gritted.
“The moons are full. They might have gone to the Rite?”
“Does this involve human sacrifice?” Rodney interjected.
“Rodney!” John poked hard. “Not helping.”
“No.” The Nephilli said, thick eyebrows coming together in a ‘v’. “There have been no sacrifices for a millennium.”
“Sacrifices? Why aren’t you at the Rite?” John narrowed his eyes.
“Oh, I’m too young. You’ve... I... it’s an adult thing. ” She batted heavy eyelashes at John.
“Really,” John said slowly. “So, you know where they perform these rituals, right?”
“Oh, yes. Weren’t you allowed to go either?” She bent over and patted the little black thing at her side.
Horrified, John jerked back: spider rabbit! He almost flung himself into Rodney’s arms, but manfully contained himself by biting his knuckles.
“Oh?” Rodney peered around him. “EW!”
The Nephilli straightened, spider rabbit cradled in her hand. “This is Puddles.”
“Puddles?” Rodney echoed. “Huh.”
“Puddles.” John looked at Rodney and Rodney looked at John.
“A pet?” they said simultaneously.
“A pet?” Rodney said as they trooped up the hill behind the young Nephilli. She had deigned not to share names when John had introduced themselves. The Nephilli names were secret and not shared with Little Visitors.
“Yes, Teyla’s going to kill you when she finds out that you Molotov Cocktailed the Hierophant’s pet beagles.”
“I didn’t see you complaining,” Rodney growled. “And who stuffs the head of a dead pet and hangs it on the wall?”
“The Nephilli, apparently.”
“I guess Teyla would say it was cultural,” Rodney added morosely.
“Yeah, probably.” John kicked a stone into the undergrowth.
Barely within earshot they could hear twinkly music on the edge of strident. There was some kind of bleating wind pipe adding a jolly rhythm beneath the higher notes. Ahead it seemed a little lighter; a golden amber glow cast shifting shadows against tall, dark green trees. The sounds of celebration were unmistakable.
“Party?” John hazarded.
“And they didn’t invite us?”
^...^ spider rabbits!
There was a... oh... John’s brain stuttered to a halt. Bright sparkly lights, he thought, stunned. Bright sparkly lights overhead....
“Oh, they’re dancing naked!” Rodney said with his typical stentorian shriek. “Ronon.”
John closed his eyes.
“Teyla!” Rodney’s voice would have shattered glass. “I’ve gone blind.”
John chanced opening an eye a mere crack. Rodney had his hand clapped over his eyes, but those blunt-ended fingers were splayed open a fraction. Even as he peeked, Rodney was mouthing apologies and, “Teyla’s gonna kill us. Sorry. Don’t kill us.”
John closed his eyes firmly, blocking out the strings of illuminations tied from tree to tree, the roaring bonfire casting complex shadows and, oh my god, the ghostly, furry loin-clothed Nephilli dancing with a naked Ronon and Teyla. There was laughter and joyous sounds.
Lal laaa laaa laa.
“John, Rodney,” Teyla said evenly.
“Hi, Teyla,” John said brightly, eyes still firmly closed. “We came looking for you. We found you.”
“sosorrysorysorry,” Rodney muttered.
“John. Rodney. I am now wearing a robe. You may open your eyes.”
“Is Ronon dressed?” Rodney squeaked out.
“Ronon,” Teyla ordered in one word.
“I see that you were right, Teyla Vit e’ Emm-gen, your compatriots are too young to join us in the Rite of TIguan,” the Hierophant said from somewhere very close on his right.
“Covered,” Ronon informed them and everyone within a hundred yards.
“You weren’t in your room; we came looking for you.” John said evenly, eyes still closed. He would have put it past Ronon to be standing right in front of him, parading. The guy had no shame.
“We came to your room, but you were both sleeping peacefully. I left a note on your dresser. I did tell you of the Rite and that if the weather turned fine, I was thinking on attending.” Teyla sighed. “Ronon is decently attired, John.”
John finally cracked open an eye. “Look, Teyla, you shouldn’t have--”
“Holy Cow, tentacles,” Rodney blurted.
Opening his eyes was purely instinctive. And boy was Rodney right. The Nephilli weren’t wearing furry loin clothes. Hairy Cthulhu tentacles. It was enough to make his eyes water. Rodney’s mouth was open and he was a statue with a pointing finger aimed right at the Hierophant. The derail only lasted a millisecond.
“Oh My God, you're not human!” Rodney exclaimed.
“They are Nephilli, Rodney." Teyla heaved a sigh. "I told you this in the briefing when Ronon was sleeping with his eyes open and you two were playing footsie under the table.”
“We were not playing footsie!” John protested. “We were playing Pac Man.”
“Yes, indeed. Pac Man. Footsie.”
Rodney jabbed his pointy finger against his energy detector. “It needs calibrating. It needs calibrating. I was right. The extant neutrinos. It all makes sense. Coupling to the DHD remotely.”
“Calibration.” Rodney sat down on the spot with a thump, head bowed over the energy detector. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, he had his laptop out.
The Hierophant wandered over, tentacles dangling, to peer over Rodney. John flinched, jerking back a step, as they almost brushed Rodney’s shoulder.
“John...,” Teyla began.
John held his hand up. “I...,” he managed. “Okay, that explains the long robes. I’m kind of surprised that they’re aliens.”
“They are the Nephilli, the strange ones. My people have had good relations with the Nephilli since the dawn of our history. They advise and offer guidance; no more, no less.”
“Huh,” John blinked.
“Yes!” Rodney joggled on the spot. He played his finger-dance over the keys. Plainly, absolutely, tickled pink, he jumped up, pushed past the Hierophant and scurried to John’s side.
He presented the screen right into John’s face. “Ha!”
“What?” John could only see a joggling screen. He snatched it out of Rodney’s hand.
“It’s so close. Close. So close. But it’s the close that makes all the difference.”
It was very pretty. John thought. A strobe of colours lines which said very little. “Something about the EMF? You’ve turned this into an EMF meter? Detecting what?”
“We’re in another universe.”
“What?” John glared at Teyla. “Did you mention that?”
“No, John,” she returned evenly. “This is the world of the Nephilli.”
“Which you can only visit when that moon thing is happening,” Rodney exulted. “A celestial phenomenon that allows a temporary alignment between universes.”
“And you’re only just figuring this out? Is that why it’s so..., ” John coughed, into his hand. “Creepy?”
“This whole place is probably the catalyst of Gothic Horror – Gothic is a bleed over from this universe into ours. Maybe a thousand years ago it happened often.” Rodney twisted his fingers together in a Gordian knot. “And -- tah dah! -- werewolves and goblins and... and freakin’ fairies. But now in our current scientific age, they’re more separate.” He pulled his hands apart splaying his fingers wide. Immediately he brought his fingertips together just touching. “And they just touch fractionally because the universes are more than a step out of phase now. Myth and memory. Moons and menhirs.”
“So,” Sheppard drawled, he let a slow, wide grin cross his face. “It’s just a jump to the left?”
“And then step to the right.” Rodney put his hands on his hips and grinned cockily.
Teyla turned her back on them to better explain her team mates to the Nephilli as they collapsed onto one other laughing.
It's just a jump to the left.
And then a step to the right.
With your hands on your hips.
You bring your knees in tight.
But it's the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane.
Let's do the time-warp again
They got into real trouble when the Marines arrived with the flamethrowers. But Teyla sorted it all out.
Oh, and they left before the Hierophant discovered what happened to his spider-beagles.
OMG, teenygozermade me write song fic!