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Subject:FIC: Dangling Participles- Part 1 (SGA Gen)
Time:10:15 am
Title:  Dangling Participles  written for the Jumper 3 Zine.
Genre: gen h/c with a bit of humor
Characters: Pretty much this one is 99% Sheppard and McKay
Rating: T.
Word count: ~ 11850
Warning: None
Spoilers: anything up through season 5
Author Notes: Once again a huge thanks to Brate and her crew for inviting me to participate in their wonderful zine and the edits that made it a much better fic.
Summary: When the platform they're working on collapses, Sheppard and McKay find themselves just hanging around in the worst way imaginable.

 

Dangling Participles

by liketheriver

 

 

Rodney felt the world falling away from him.

One minute he and Sheppard had been standing on solid metal, the next Rodney found himself in freefall. It wasn’t completely unexpected; after all, they had worn the harnesses and tethers for a reason. However, the suddenness with which the rickety catwalk seemed to have simply vanished from under his feet to be replaced by empty space was disorienting to say the least. The light from Sheppard’s P-90 shined in his eyes a split second before tumbling end over end in the darkness. Or was it shone? Rodney could never remember the proper way to change tenses on that particular verb. Not like fall; it seemed that was as easy as the act itself.

We fall.

We are falling.

We fell.

We have fallen.

It only lasted a few seconds before the tether seized and stopped his descent with a whiplashing jerk that sent him slamming into Sheppard, whose tether had also snapped taut. The two men bounced off of each other violently, sending them careening in equal and opposite directions− fucking Newtonian physics at its finest− until McKay crashed with teeth-rattling force into the jagged rock wall of the pit in which they now found themselves dangling.

The pain as his head hit stone sent a galaxy of stars exploding in his field of vision. Then he was falling, had fallen, fell a little farther, until it seemed he’d passed the world as it plummeted into a universe devoid of stars and light and anything other than all-consuming darkness.

* * * *

"Shit," Sheppard groaned, cradling his right arm where it had hit the cavern wall and hit it hard. He’d broken it, no doubt about it. He was going to need help climbing up his line to the path sitting fifteen feet above them, and seeing as Teyla and Ronon were back at the gate, that left only one person to help.

"Rodney," he called into the dark, "do you still have your flashlight?" The P-90 he had propped on the walkway to provide light while they worked was now at the bottom of the cavern. John was hoping like hell McKay could get to his light since John was sure he wouldn’t be able to dig his spare out easily, and without it he couldn’t see a goddamned thing. In typical Team Sheppard fashion, what had looked like a promising find went to hell in record breaking speed.

The jumper’s sensors had detected energy readings from the moment his team had flown through the gate and onto the densely vegetated planet. They had landed near the gate, and McKay had managed to track the readings on foot through the jungle to an opening in the mountainside. The path leading inside was actually partially lit; the pale blue glow started the instant John had crossed the threshold, although it provided just enough light to see the pathway and nothing more. Rodney had pushed his way to the front then, detector held before him as he eagerly told his team the readings were growing stronger. Sheppard had managed to pull him back so he could take the lead with his P-90 at the ready, but the slightly stale air and occasional rodent droppings and distant squeaking made it obvious pretty damn quick no one had been in this facility in a very long time. Unfortunately, even the dim Ancient lighting had died out a few hundred yards in, leaving only the lights they carried with them to illuminate the path. It also left Rodney concerned that major systems had been damaged in the facility over the years.

The structure appeared to be taking advantage of a natural cavern that the Ancients had enlarged a little more. John had traced the light on his P-90 up the limestone wall that rose up a good thirty feet, past dead light fixtures, to reveal a mobius twist of rock formations flowing along the ceiling of the cave. To their left, the path was guarded by a metal railing to keep anyone walking the trail from falling off the edge into what appeared to be a bottomless pit. Okay, probably not that deep, but the light on their P-90s couldn’t penetrate the sea of black to reach the cavern floor.

They’d hiked in almost a mile before they found the large doors reminiscent of those on the jumper bay back on Atlantis. Sheppard had to admit the thought of a fleet of jumpers, or better yet, another Aurora-class battleship sitting on the other side had him just as anxious to open the doors as McKay. Problem was, the doors weren’t responding to their presence, ATA or otherwise, and remained firmly closed. Nor was there a control panel anywhere on the rock walls adjacent to the doors.

"It has to be here somewhere," McKay had insisted, and the team had fanned out in search of it.

Ronon had been the one to finally spot it through an opening in the guardrails on the cliff side of the trail. There was a series of catwalks zig-zagging down to a control console seemingly built into the wall. McKay had thought the catwalk they’d been standing on to access the controls to the underground facility would support them. Apparently, he’d been wrong. Of course, McKay seemed to think anything was possible if it meant opening a door that could lead to some magical Ancient device or ZPM or fleet of starships or whatever the hell the Ancients had hidden down here. Rodney had already taken three steps onto the precarious walkway before Teyla even had a chance to suggest they go back to the jumper and retrieve the harness and tether systems stored there.

That was Teyla, always full of good ideas, John decided as he swung suspended in mid-air by said harness. Brilliant ideas. What wasn’t so brilliant was Rodney hadn’t responded to his question.

"McKay?" John called again, a little louder, a knot forming in his stomach at the thought that Rodney’s tether may not have held. "Rodney!"

He used his good arm to twist awkwardly to reach the spare Mini Maglite he carried in his vest, wishing Teyla and Ronon were here instead of back at the jumper. When they had gone back for the harnesses, Sheppard had taken advantage of being near the gate to report what they’d found to Atlantis. Woolsey decided to send additional teams to support them, so Ronon and Teyla had remained behind. The difficulty in finding the opening in the mountain, combined with the inability for the radios to work so far back in the cavern, meant the new arrivals would need to be guided. McKay wasn’t about to sit around for an hour or more twiddling his thumbs when he could be working to access the control panel and open the large doors. John had accompanied him back to the cavern, and the rest, as they say, was history.

Very dark and very painful history.

Finally fishing out the small flashlight, John clicked it on and saw nothing but the cliff face. Oh, Jesus! The beam danced frantically in search of his teammate until he heard a low moan behind him. John spun around, exhaling in relief to see that he’d become disoriented in the dark, and Rodney was, in fact, still held by his sling system.

The relief, however, was short-lived when he saw the way McKay slumped listlessly in the harness and the steady flow of blood running down his face and dripping from his chin.

"Rodney!" he yelled again, rewarded by another groan.

McKay was dangling about ten feet away. John clipped the small flashlight to a loop on his vest, and then pumped his legs to reach the wall. He pushed off with his feet and clumsily grabbed the front of Rodney’s vest. The action had them careening back toward the wall again, and Sheppard twisted his body in order to take the brunt of the impact. The pain that went through his broken arm had him blinking rapidly to keep McKay in focus, but through the fog of threatening unconsciousness, he managed to keep his one-handed hold on the injured man.

"McKay?" John’s voice slurred. He blinked a few more times, gritted his teeth against the agony in his arm, and managed to speak again. "Rodney, can you hear me?"

McKay’s blood was dripping on his wrist, but Sheppard didn’t dare loosen his hold, or else Rodney would simply swing away from him again. Besides, head wounds bled, he tried to remind himself. They bled a hell of a lot and that usually made the actual injury look much worse than it truly was.

Usually.

"Come on, buddy, talk to me here." John did his level best to keep the pleading tone out of his voice, but didn’t think he was anywhere near successful. "I usually can’t get you to shut up."

"Make up…mind," Rodney mumbled, finally shifting his head with a grimace and slivering his eyes open.

"Talk," Sheppard assured him with an exhalation of breath, tightening his hold on the vest when McKay raised his head farther. "Definitely talk."

Rodney squinted in the faint light of the flashlight hanging down between them, looking around into the surrounding darkness in confusion. "What happened?"

"Walkway collapsed and we lost our light along with it," John explained. "Luckily the harnesses did their job." When McKay touched his head and stared perplexed by the blood on his hand, Sheppard winced in sympathy. "Looks like you hit your head pretty good. You’ve been out for a few minutes."

"I’m bleeding," Rodney observed numbly.

"I know, and I need to try to get it to stop. But I think I broke my arm, so I need you to hold onto my vest so we don’t move away from each other. Okay?"

"Broke your arm?" Rodney repeated.

McKay seemed to be trying out each word as if he’d never heard it before. John hoped like hell the disorientation was only temporary.

"Rodney," John tried again, looking him in the eyes. From the pale glow of the flashlight, Sheppard could see the overlarge pupils, dilated but even. Concussed. McKay was definitely concussed, but hopefully that was the extent of it. "Listen very carefully. You need to take hold of my vest. Okay?" He waited until Rodney sluggishly raised a hand. "That’s it; hold on and don’t let go."

Satisfied McKay understood what was expected of him, John carefully let go, as if to test their connection. "Good. Just like that," he coaxed when McKay continued to hold tight. John used his good hand to pull a bandage from Rodney’s vest pocket.

At the touch to his wound, Rodney’s hand instinctively went to his head, practically pushing Sheppard away.

"Don’t!" John yelled, but it was too late, as was his attempt to grab Rodney before he spun off into the murkiness surrounding them.

The bandage fluttered down into the abyss below, but John was able to turn his body and plant his feet against the rock wall to buffer the blow. Grabbing blindly for a handhold in the rock, his hand skittered over sharp limestone before finally catching hold and stopping him from banging against the cliff face once more.

Rodney, however, hadn’t been so lucky. Off to the side, John heard an oomph! as Rodney collided with the rocks once, then again, followed by the unmistakable sound of McKay throwing up. Given his head injury and the spinning off into the darkness, John wasn’t surprised by the result.

After several long seconds, Rodney called miserably, "Sheppard?"

John let go of his handhold, drifting gently away from the wall, and managed to use his free hand to direct the beam of his flashlight to where Rodney was hanging dejectedly in his harness. "You okay, buddy?"

It was a stupid question, even to Sheppard’s own ears, given the way McKay was wiping his mouth and still bleeding a ridiculous amount. The blood on his shirt was now in competition with the new blotches on his boots for the title of most disgusting bodily fluid staining the stricken man.

"What do you think?" Rodney demanded with a pathetic wave of his arms.

"I think I need to stop the bleeding on your head. Do you think you can hold on a little tighter this time?"

"If you can get over here, I’ll hold on," McKay promised as he continued to twirl lazily from his tether.

John prepared to pump his legs in order to reach the rock wall again and use it to launch himself toward Rodney, but paused when McKay started to gag once more.

"You’re not going to puke again, are you?" Sheppard asked in dread.

"If I don’t stop this damn spinning I am." Rodney covered his mouth and swallowed. "Christ, it’s like a fucking tilt-a-whirl only without the promise of funnel cakes at the end of the day."

"Once we have you patched up, there’s a chocolate chip power bar in it for you. How about that?"

John didn’t wait for an answer, just used his legs to give an easy push off the wall toward McKay. Rodney grabbed blindly onto John’s vest as soon as he gripped McKay’s bicep. They swung back into the wall again, this time with just a bump that still had Sheppard biting his lower lip until it nearly bled to keep from crying out against the pain in his broken arm.

"John?" Rodney asked in obvious concern.

Sheppard ignored the worry and the throbbing that ran from wrist to shoulder as best he could and grunted out, "Can you reach the bandage in my vest pocket?"

McKay’s hands were shaking as he fumbled the Velcro open and pulled out the field dressing. He tilted his head in a futile attempt to keep the blood from running in his eye, but, fortunately, he never let go of John’s vest.

When Rodney had the bandage out, Sheppard cautioned, "Okay, I’m going to let go of you so I can take the bandage, so hold on."

"Trust me; I’m not going through that whole hurtling through the dark episode again," Rodney assured as his grip shook even more as he tightened it.

Sheppard tentatively released his hold, but Rodney’s remained secure. This time when he pressed the bandage to McKay’s head, the injured man hissed at the touch but didn’t let go.

Rodney seemed to be lucid enough to make small talk, so John decided it would be best to keep it up and hopefully keep McKay’s mind off his injury. "Come on, haven’t you ever ridden Space Mountain?"

"Yes, I’ve ridden Space Mountain." Rodney closed his eyes and swallowed, as if concentrating on not throwing up again− an act John was more than thankful for. "I’ve just never done it with what feels like a hangover… after I drank enough to not only eat the worm… but enjoy it."

"Yeah, I can see how that could take the fun out of the experience." When McKay groaned in misery as they continued to swing, John suggested. "Maybe we should talk about something besides tequila and rollercoasters."

Rodney cracked his eyes open hopefully. "Like maybe how we’re going to get the hell back up from here?"

"Ronon and Teyla will haul us up when they come back with the others."

"Was I out longer than I thought?" McKay scoffed. "Because that could be over an hour."

As excited as Atlantis had been about the discovery of a new Ancient facility, Sheppard knew it took time to gather personnel and equipment, especially scientists. That being said, Rodney probably wasn’t too far off on his predication of how long it would be before anyone came back to help them.

"Well, then, try to look on the bright side," Sheppard suggested, using a corner of the bandage to wipe the blood away from McKay’s eye before resuming the pressure against the wound.

"What bright side?" Rodney demanded. "All I see is darkness and you with a broken arm and me with a cracked skull…."

"It’s not cracked," John argued, at least it better not be. McKay slipping into a coma from a fractured skull would just be the icing on the goddamned cake of this day, but Rodney seemed to be growing more alert, not to mention bitchier, by the minute. Sheppard took that as a good sign.

Rodney snorted. "Oh, so now you have x-ray vision? If that’s the case, why don’t you fly us out of here, Kal-El?"

"You’re not impressed with my Fortress of Solitude?" John carefully lifted the bandage to check the bleeding and put it back in place when it continued to flow. "That really hurts my feelings, McKay."

"I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love for you to be able to fly us up and out and back to Atlantis where at least someone with a degree in medicine could treat me."

Sheppard frowned at the rant. "You know, maybe you should loosen your hold on my vest after all."

But if anything, McKay’s knuckles turned whiter and his eyes darted up into the darkness above them.

"What?" John asked in worry, trying to listen for whatever had caught Rodney’s attention.

"Don’t you hear it?" Rodney asked in a harsh whisper.

Holding his breath, John concentrated on blocking out the sound of their gear creaking and the occasional clink of the rings and carabineers of their harnesses knocking against one another. There. Rodney had obviously heard it, too, because he gave Sheppard’s vest a little shake.

A squeak. Faint and far away. Then another, as if in response to the first.

The critters they’d heard before were obviously back.

* * * * *

Rodney was actually surprised he’d heard the squeaking before Sheppard, considering his head was pounding and he’d be fortunate if his brains weren’t oozing out along with what had to be half his body’s requisite volume of blood. If he was lucky, Sheppard had managed to stem the flow so he didn’t pass out again, this time from blood loss on top of blunt trauma.

"Can you shine the flashlight up and see anything?" John asked, not letting up on the pressure on Rodney’s head wound.

Rodney was, of course, expected to do everything. Granted, Sheppard did have a broken arm. Even in the faint light provided by the small flashlight dangling from John’s vest, McKay could see the lines of pain seared into the corners of Sheppard’s eyes and mouth. It didn’t change the fact that it was taking all of Rodney’s concentration, not to mention willpower, to hold onto John’s vest, and now he was expected to direct a tiny beam of light and find some alien rodent, as well.

Not that Rodney was expecting to see anything. They’d heard the squeaks accompanied by the sound of small claws scurrying over stone several times on their hike into the cavern. Each time they’d swung their lights around the large opening, they'd seen nothing. Even Ronon, who could track a goddamn butterfly if the need arose, couldn’t find any sign of them beyond a few pellets of their droppings along the trail.

Holding firmly to Sheppard with his left hand, Rodney used his right to direct the beam up toward the cliff face where their tethers were anchored on the rails bordering the walkway above. The light skittered spastically and Rodney tried unsuccessfully to control his trembling that was caused by a combination of a throbbing headache and lingering nausea with a healthy dose of unadulterated terror at the thought of plummeting to his death thrown in.

"See anything?" Rodney couldn’t seem to make his eyes focus, and looking up just made the darkness hovering on the outskirts of their small cone of light crowd in a little closer.

"No, nothing." John’s voice sounded strained, like the position wasn’t the most comfortable for him, either.

Rodney had given up and closed his eyes again in an attempt to quell the dizziness, only reopening them when Sheppard hissed, "Wait! Move the light to the right."

McKay did as he was instructed and caught a glance of reflective eyes behind a short, whiskered snout. The distinctly rodent-like face vanished above a small lip of rock jutting out from the wall about five meters above them.

"What the hell are they doing?" Rodney demanded as the squeaking resumed, this time joined by even more shrill animal voices.

"I don’t know." John’s shrug had them swaying a little more. "Maybe they’re just curious."

"Of what? Two guys dangling in a bottomless pit of doom?" McKay moved the flashlight back and forth in search of more of the rodents.

"You have to admit, it’s not something you see every day." He shifted his shoulder again, then told Rodney, "Move the light a little so I can see your head."

Rodney stopped his survey of the rock face above them and did as he was asked, careful to avoid blinding himself with the light. Sheppard pulled the bandage away and McKay shifted the light enough to study John’s face for a hint of how bad the wound was. Remarkably, John’s expression, while slightly disgusted, was more relieved.

"Okay, I think it’s finally stopped bleeding. Think you could turn me around and pull the first aid kit out of my pack for an adhesive bandage to cover it?"

McKay was appalled by the prospect of not only releasing his hold on Sheppard, but having to try to work some aerial acrobatics that would probably have them slamming into the wall again. "No!"

John sighed at the response. "Rodney, it’s no big deal. Just reach around with one hand, grab the back of my pack, let go with the other, and I’ll turn on my own."

McKay wasn’t convinced it would be half as easy as Sheppard suggested but then John added, "And maybe you can fish out some painkillers…for both of us."

Drugs would be one hell of a treat right about now. The fact that it might help Sheppard with his own pain pretty much sealed the deal for McKay. After all, the guy had probably prevented McKay from bleeding to death, not to mention all the other times he had, technically, contributed to Rodney’s ongoing survival. The least Rodney could do was find him a couple of Tylenol.

"I could go for some painkillers," Rodney admitted. He dropped the flashlight back to where it was clipped on Sheppard’s vest and reached around with his left arm to grip the back of John’s pack.

Sheppard sucked in a ragged breath, his head actually dipping onto McKay’s shoulder, and Rodney realized too late he’d chosen the side with John’s broken arm.

"Shit! I’m sorry!" Rodney babbled in apology. "I forgot what side your broken arm was on. I mean, it’s understandable consid−"

"Rodney," John managed to grind out between clenched teeth, his forehead still resting on Rodney’s shoulder as he gulped air.

"I said I was sorry!" McKay insisted again.

"Move…your…arm."

It took Rodney a second to figure out exactly what the problem was with his arm, but then it all tumbled into place and he dropped his arm that was still around Sheppard’s busted one. "Crap! There, is that better?"

John moved his good hand to cradled his broken arm gently. "Second thought… morphine… vest pocket."

"Really?" McKay asked in surprise. Sheppard rarely admitted he was in pain, and considering their current predicament, Rodney was amazed he’d even consider dulling his senses with anything more than the wimpy meds they carried in their packs.

Raising his head, John took a deep breath. "No, not really. Was a happy thought, though."

"No kidding," Rodney agreed wholeheartedly, looking forward to when the crew from Atlantis arrived and pulled them up and they could take advantage of some serious pain medication. "Want me to try again?"

Rodney could see the faint gleam of sweat on Sheppard’s skin and knew the pale complexion wasn’t just a trick of the poor lighting. He fully expected John to turn down the offer, but John swallowed and nodded.

"Yeah, let’s give it a go."

Apparently, the thought of any painkillers, even over-the-counter ones, was enough that John was willing to risk it. This time, Rodney managed to turn Sheppard around with only minimal swinging involved. The digging in his pack, however, had them swaying dangerously close to the cliff face. Using his own flashlight, which he retrieved from his vest, Rodney was easily able to find the first aid kit, but trying to open it and hold onto Sheppard at the same time, especially given the minimal light he had to work with, proved harder than he would have imagined. Half of the Tylenol were sent sprinkling to the cavern floor far below them when he clumsily popped open the small bottle while simultaneously holding onto Sheppard’s pack and his flashlight, but he and Sheppard each managed to dry swallow a few of those remaining.

If possible, the bandage for his head was even more difficult and Rodney ended up using a combination of teeth and fingers to get the packaging open, which had them swinging even more. As a result, Sheppard had to kick off the wall with his feet to keep them from colliding. Rodney was able to slap the bandage over the general area of his head wound as they started to spin faster and head back toward the cliff even more rapidly than before.

"McKay!" John snapped in warning as they were coming in sideways and his injured arm was exposed.

Rodney pivoted his body so his own pack hit the wall cushioning their impact against the rock, but it jarred them both enough that they swore in unison. Their cursing was accompanied by an angry squeal and the shadow of a furry body about the size of Rodney’s forearm tumbling past them.

Rodney’s voice was deceptively high-pitched, as well, when he demanded, "What the fuck was that?"

Of course, it was a rhetorical question, because McKay knew exactly what it had been and instinctively tried to move away from where the rodent had plummeted down. The act had them colliding with the wall again, and another body falling past.

This time it was Sheppard who exclaimed, "Holy shit!"

"What are they doing?" They swung haphazardly in the dark, Rodney shuddering at the thought of another one falling, only this time directly on top of him. "Are they lemming-like and committing mass suicide?"

"Shine the light back up there," John told him, impressively calm with alien rats raining down on them. He even managed to reach back with his good hand and grab McKay’s arm to maneuver him around so they were face to face again.

Doing as he was told, Rodney pointed the beam of his light above them to reveal yet another rodent clinging desperately to the yellow nylon sling leading down to Sheppard’s harness. Christ, the rats were climbing down the tethers toward them!

"McKay!" Sheppard cried in alarm, all semblance of calm vanishing at the prospect of the creature reaching its intended destination.

"What?" Rodney challenged in his own growing panic. "What the hell am I supposed to do?"

"I don’t know! Shake it off or something!"

Sheppard apparently decided he wasn’t going to wait for McKay to act seeing as he started wiggling in his harness. All that accomplished was having them slam back into the wall, this time hard enough that Rodney’s pack couldn’t keep the colors from exploding behind his eyes once more.

"Damn it; it’s still there," John informed him.

Rodney just had to take his word at it since he had his eyes closed tight against the pounding in his head. "Do that again and I won’t be."

"Stay with me," Sheppard ordered desperately. "I need you to shoot it."

That had Rodney opening his eyes again. "Are you insane?"

Rodney gave up on his argument when John shook his tether again and this time the rodent did drop… right on top of the two of them. Holding onto each other pretty much went out the window to be replaced by flailing and screaming unashamedly rivaling that of six-year-old little girls. McKay wasn’t sure who was screeching louder, them or the rat, but in the end he and Sheppard ended up separated and the animal seemed to have lost its hold on John’s shoulder when Sheppard once again slammed into the rock wall.

Rodney’s hand was already scrabbling at his thigh holster before the latest round of stars was clearing from his field of vision. "Christ, I think there are more of them up there."

Sheppard’s only response was a low groan and Rodney knew if he’d hit the wall on his broken arm, it had to hurt like hell.

"John?"

Sheppard was still spinning, the beam of his flashlight clipped on his vest appearing and disappearing like a lighthouse but he managed to grunt out, "Can you get a clean shot?"

It was then that Rodney realized, somewhere in the process of fighting off falling rats and bashing into cave walls, he’d dropped his flashlight. Squinting, Rodney tried in futility to make out a dark shape in the even darker void above them. "Clean shot? I lost my light; I can’t even see what I’m supposed to be shooting at." His shoulder hit the wall again and he grunted but managed to grab hold of a piece of rock to steady himself.

John fumbled for the flashlight on his vest and Rodney could see how strained his face was from the pain in his arm.

"Are you okay?" Rodney asked at seeing how much trouble Sheppard was having trying to execute the simple task of taking hold of a flashlight.

"Fine," John dismissed gutturally. "Be fucking great if no more rats fall on me." It took him a couple of tries, but Sheppard managed to shine the light above him then sweep it over to McKay’s line.

"What do you think they want?" Following the beam up the tethers, Rodney strained his neck as far back as he could manage to try for a better view.

John was squinting in an attempt to see anything above them in the path of his beam. "They probably smell the case of PowerBars you always carry in your pack and want a snack."

"I carry the sufficient amount of PowerBars necessary for a day in the field and a contingency if we go long," Rodney defended. "It’s only prudent. Besides, they probably saw your hair and thought it would make good nesting materials."

John glared at the comment but Rodney ignored him as another more terrifying thought hit him.

"Wait, you don’t think they’re carnivorous do you? Maybe they smelled my blood and they do want a snack. Me!" As if on cue, a curious nose twitched over the ledge formed by the rock face. "Oh, you little, bloodthirsty, son of a…."

Pulling his sidearm, McKay fired three shots in quick succession at the ledge. The screeches and squeals in response were enough to send a shiver down Rodney’s spine at the sheer number of creatures that must be up there. He fired two more shots. The protests of the rats were farther away this time. Apparently, the sound of the gunfire had been enough to scare them away, at least for the time being.

"Whoa! Hey! Hold up!" Sheppard yelled at McKay when he started to fire again for good measure.

Rodney maintained his white-knuckle grip on his gun as he scanned the cliff face rising above them. "Do you see any more?"

"No, but I think you hit something."

"A rat?" Rodney asked, suddenly pleased with himself for being such a good shot.

"No," John clarified, "my safety line."

As if to prove his point, Sheppard dropped a fraction of an inch as the sling ripped a little more.

All the momentary pleasure at his crack shooting skills drained as Rodney contemplated how this day just seemed to be going from bad to worse at an alarming rate.

Part 2.
 


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