SGA flashfic: amnesty 2006, First Contact challenge
Rating: gen (some bad language)
Beta: LKY and L
had a quick shuftie
Disclaimer: I don't own concepts, characters.
Spoilers: Set sometime after Season 2, no particular spoilers.
“What is it?”
“It’s a baby.”
“I can see that, the question is: a baby what?”
“An alien,” Rodney said, succinctly.
“Is it intelligent?” Sheppard said over the disconsolate howls.
The lump of dark brown fur in the centre of the glade was easily the size of a Volkswagen. The wailing thing tucked against the Volkswagon’s side was tiny compared to the volume of its cries. Rodney angled his life signs detector towards Sheppard and only one blip -- the baby -- showed up. With a sigh, Sheppard lowered his P-90 and cradled the weapon’s butt in his hands.
“Not at the moment, no. But--” Rodney toed the cylindrical, hard-topped bag beside the dead, larger alien and it concertinaed open with a little hissing sigh.
“Oooh,” Rodney said, stooping and snagging a bracelet of interlocked jewel-toned facets.
Face twisted, Sheppard crouched on his haunches and held out his hand. “Hey… thingy.”
The hairy thing lifted its head from the bigger hairy thing’s side and let out an ear splitting wail.
“Damn.” Rodney slapped his hands and bracelet against his ears.
“Geez.” Sheppard blinked at the high pitch. He ran a hand through his hair. “Hey, none of that.”
It took one look at him and leaped.
“Fuck.” Sheppard reflexively caught it against his chest. It wailed, prehensile fingers and toes shimmied up his tac vest until it wrapped its fingers in his hair and pushed its face into the hollow of his neck.
Rodney grinned at the living monster wrapped around Sheppard’s head.
“Hair,” he said sagely. “You’re bonding over your hair.”
“Get it off me!”
The wailing dropped in volume and intensity.
“Hmmm, not a good idea. It’s stopped yelling.”
“Well, get Ronon! It can bond with him.”
“I’m not touching it.” Ronon stepped back well out of reach.
The big eyed, hairy, long fingered, ugly thing sobbed unrelentingly and piercingly into Sheppard’s hair.
“You could try taking your t-shirt off. It would probably like your hairy chest,” Rodney observed. “That might help.”
Sheppard glared, balefully.
Teyla – hair bound up in an uncharacteristically tight bun – offered, “It is a child, possibly even a newborn, you could try talking kindly to… it.”
Rodney cocked his head to the side and scanned the momma beast for the hundredth time.
“It’s got a massive brain case compared to its body size, with the artefacts I’m thinking sentient.” He glanced over his shoulder at Sheppard’s new hat. “It’s got a big head.”
“How did it die?” Ronon scanned the deceptively peaceful looking glade.
“Haven’t got a clue. That’s voodoo – need Beckett.” Rodney crouched. “No evidence of wounds. Infection? Choked on a fur ball, maybe?”
“So basically,” Sheppard said tightly, “we’ve got an orphaned baby abandoned on a planet.”
“No. no. no.” Rodney jumped to his feet. “You cannot be serious.”
“It’s. A. Baby,” Sheppard said, emphasising each word.
“Do you see how big its mom is!” Rodney said, pointing, finger-jabbing at the beast. “It looks like a cross between Dr. Who’s yeti and a giant orangutan.”
Sheppard tuned him out. “Teyla, have you seen anything like this before?”
“Do you not think that I would have told you?” she said archly.
“So in the hundred and one times you’ve traded on this planet, you’ve never seen this uhm…”
“Fug-ugly butt monster?” Rodney supplied.
“…type of alien before,” Sheppard continued rhetorically. “And the quiet, pastoral farmers that we’ve just visited are likely gonna freak if we go back and ask them?”
“That’s a given,” Ronon said dryly.
“Ronon, see if you can see any identifying jewellery or something on the mom. Teyla get the bags. Rodney, take some DV and samples,” Sheppard ordered.
“What?” Rodney shrieked.
“Just do it.” Sheppard winced as the high pitched shrieking began anew. He reached up trying the wrap his hands around the bag of loose fur wrapped around his head. Too many muscles and bones moved sinuously under his fingers. A long, six fingered hand with blobby, vaguely sticky finger tips plastered over his nose and eye.
“Well, Atlantis hasn’t instigated a lock down,” Rodney said brightly, as the wormhole dissipated behind them.
Weir jerked to a stop at the edge of the platform, staring leerily at the bag of fur on Sheppard’s head. “What is that? Do we need to call medical?” Her finger brushed her ear comm..
“The colonel’s new pet.” Rodney moved back out of slapping range.
“John rescued the child and thought it best to bring it to Atlantis since its mother is dead,” Teyla said soberly.
“Why’s it screaming?” She winced.
“Its mom just died. It’s a little upset,” Sheppard said through gritted teeth. His ears were vibrating.
“Okay.” Weir slid
gracefully backwards. “Go see Dr. Beckett. You’ll need your post mission exam.
Rodney jerked a thumb at the command centre on the balcony above. “I’ll check the database. See if I can find any intel. It’s not often we find an alien in either of our galaxies. Maybe we’ll be lucky and find out where it’s from.” He pushed the sealed envelope of samples he had collected from the mother into Teyla’s hands. “I’ll catch up with you.”
He arrowed away before they could stop him.
“Christ, Doc, get it off me.” Sheppard slapped the gurney for emphasis.
“So Rodney thinks it’s intelligent?” he said, interested.
“The baby’s mother had belongings.” Ronon dumped them on the bed. “He said that its brain case size relative to body weight was indicative of sentience.”
“He didn’t say it like that.” Sheppard narrowed his eyes at the runner.
Ronon shrugged. “Big-headed momma.”
“It’s a baby!” Sheppard protested.
“I’m not advocating
“Dr. McKay took samples from the mother,” Teyla interjected, holding up the sealed envelope of vials. “We have hair, follicle and blood samples. Dr. McKay was concerned that the mother had died of an infection since there was no evidence of wounds.”
“Och, that’s helpful.” If he had been McKay he would have made grabby hands, as such he just snatched. He glanced back to Sheppard. “It’s a noisy wee thing, isn’t it?”
“Try it from my perspective,” Sheppard said through gritted teeth.
“Perhaps it’s hungry?”
Ronon rifled in the case on the bed and pulled out a jar of grey paste.
“Aye, that could be it. Better analyse it first, though. Maybe some water in the meantime.” He hummed. “Doesn’t seem to have a nappy on, though. Aye, well never mind, we don’t want it to get dehydrated.”
Sheppard lazed on the gurney, arms crossed over his chest, and the thing communed in sorrowful whimpers with his hair.
“Hey,” Ronon boomed.
“Teyla had an idea.”
Sheppard cracked open an eye as Ronon dumped a mound of fur on his chest. The throw from his own bed.
“The kid might like it.”
“I’ll try anything.” Okay, he could have forcibly yanked the thing from his head but a) he would probably lose valuable hair and b) it was upset. As he sat up, Ronon draped the line of white fur over his shoulder.
“Hey, thingy,” Sheppard cajoled, finding a spidery thin leg under the fur and detaching it from around his neck with a shiver. He set the foot pads on the fur. They drummed rhythmically testing the weave and weft. Holding his breath, until he saw stars, Sheppard waited. The thingy unfurled enough to slither onto his shoulder. One prehensile arm remained looped around his head firmly gripping his ear for balance – but it curled up off his head.
Sheppard looked into two pairs of amber, slitty eyes. “Hey, Thing, is that better?” It let out a soft wail.
“I’ll leave you two to it.” Ronon lumbered off before he could be inveigled into offering his dreds as a nest.
“Chicken,” Sheppard grumbled after him.
“Okay, I got the
chemists to check the grey glue.”
“What? You expect me to feed it?”
Sheppard snatched the spoon. “And for this I went to Officer Training school?”
“Just feed the poor wee thing. And I’m going to get a hot water bottle to tuck under that blanket, that’ll probably help.” And he too made his escape
One handed, John managed to get the pop lid off the jar and got half a teaspoon of sludge on the spoon. Thing’s head came up like a hunting dog’s.
“Jesus fuck! Carson, have you seen the size of the pointy teeth on this thing?”
Thing shifted untwisting in a sinuous curve. Sheppard held still as it crawled off his shoulder and ventured on to the bed.
Yes, yes, yes, he chortled, finally free.
Thing let out an almighty belch and stuff the same colour as the baby food erupted from beneath the mound of fur, fouling the gurney.
With a high pitched screech, Sheppard flung himself off the bed.
Carson ran out from his office. “What’s the matter?”
“It--” Sheppard pointed.
“Holy Mother of God.” Carson reeled at the stench. “Oh, well, I bet he feels a little better after doing that.”
“Is that all you can say?” Sheppard said from behind his hand.
“I’m a doctor. I’ve seen and dealt with worse. Much worse.”
“Okay, I’m off. Things to do. Reports to write. Astrophysicists to torture.” As he moved to escape, Thing wailed. The glass beside the bed cracked and sheared in two. The high pitched shrieking stopped like a switch and Thing looked at the glass and at him, pairs of eyes moving independently. Appendages stretched out, it opened and closed its long fingered hands beseechingly.
“Oh.” Carson fired his own set of pleading eyes.
“I can’t,” Sheppard protested. “I’m the military leader of Atlantis not an alien’s babysitter.”
“It’s a baby. A poor, wee orphaned baby.”
“Oh, quit it,” Sheppard snapped. “Wipe its butt before I pick it up.”
Sheppard lay on his bed, panting as he overheated. Thing lay curled up on the fur, resting its lumpy head over his heart, but its sticky fingers were still entwined in his hair.
“Give me a sec, kid.” He manhandled Thing to the side and with it still attached to his hair, he got his arms out of his t-shirt. Leaving it slung around his neck, he lay back down. Thing latched on, clamping a hand-like foot on his rib cage, long foot pads weaving through his chest hair.
The door chimed and before he could say a word, Rodney barrelled in.
He smirked. “Hey, Tarzan. Like the fur sarong.”
“Give it a rest, McKay.”
Rodney rocked back and forth on his heels and smirked.
“You found something,” Sheppard said unnecessarily.
“Fug-ugly is a Numue. Probably the equivalent of a nine month old human baby – developmentally speaking.”
“They’re in the database.”
“Yes.” McKay rolled his eyes. “And you’ll like this. They’re shape changers.”
“What?” Sheppard sat up. Thing squeaked, protesting.
“Intelligent, sentient, alien shape changers.”
“Shape changer?” He fumbled Thing, wincing as it pulled at his chest hairs. “Is this its… natural state?”
“Yes.” Rodney angled his computer tablet, showing a line drawing of a bag of lumpy fur with a host of eyes.
“How the Hell are we going to find its people if they’re shape changers? Was there anything in the database about their planet? It’s been ten thousand years, they could have moved anywhere.”
Rodney held up a finger, smugly. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Since when do mothers with babies go wandering willy nilly through the Stargate?”
Sheppard sagged back. “The farmers on PX8 740.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time that the innocent little pastoral scene hid a secret.” Rodney shrugged. “Welcome to Pegasus.”
Sheppard stood at the edge of the platform, Thing cradled in the blanket in his arms. He had caught the knack of corralling Thing’s prehensile limbs in the fur, stopping the constant exploration of his hair, nose and ears.
Elizabeth wandered up. “Carson found indications of a massive bacterial infection in the mother. It appears that, unfortunately, mom was ill and she passed out and died.”
Thing whimpered and the hairs rose on the back of Sheppard’s neck at the pitch.
“Hey, hey.” He joggled and offered Thing the bottle of sugar water that Carson had prepared. Its eye slits closed as it suckled.
“You’re very good with him… it.”
“I should have gone through.” He stared at the quiescent Stargate.
“The baby cries loud enough to shatter glass when you let go of him,” Elizabeth said with the air of having repeated her words more that once. “Teyla is an experienced diplomat. She will delicately broach the subject of a missing child. No doubt the Numue have found the baby’s mother, and if we walked through with the baby the surviving parent might overreact and they are rather large.”
“I still think that I should have gone through.” He eyed Elizabeth’s long dark hair. “I’m sure that Thing would like you,” he wheedled.
Elizabeth stepped back.
Thing wriggled and the form under his hands moved like jello. Astounded, he watched as its fur retracted, sliding into pale skin. Folding back the blanket, revealed a little pot-bellied tummy. Between two blinks, a pair of eyes merged into chubby cheeks. The remaining fur on its furry head darkened.
Sheppard held a baby. A human baby with green eyes and dark, spiky hair.
“Oh,” Elizabeth cooed, stepping back into his personal space. Automatically, she reached out.
“Yeah, now you want to hold it.” He curled his shoulder, excluding her. “Aren’t you a clever thing, Thing.”
Thing definitely smiled at him.
“Incoming wormhole,” Chuck called from above. The Stargate whooshed and settled. “Teyla’s IDC.”
Teyla’s voice came over the comm.. “Colonel Sheppard, Elizabeth, I have made contact with the Numue. Unnos’ -- the closest explanation is Great-Grandmother -- would like to come through.”
Sheppard shared a hopeful glance with Elizabeth. Teyla had used her IDC when contacting – everything was kosher.
“Of course, we look forward to meeting with the Numue,” Elizabeth said with her customary gravitas.
If Unnos’ mamma was a Volkswagon, his Grandmother was Dumper-truck. The immense mound of fur rolled through the event horizon, walking on overly long arms and legs, spindly fingers and toes picking their way over the lined platform. She stopped and squatted. Four sets of eyes unerringly focussed on Sheppard. He angled Thing in the cradle of fur so she could see it.
Her greeting cracked three amber panels in the ceiling overhead.
Thing hee’d and waved chubby hands.
“I apologise,” she intoned, the bass note vibrating through the embarkation arena. And then she folded in on herself. Rodney just stepping though the event horizon, promptly pulled out his energy detector and angled it at her. Fur gave way to skin as arms shorted. Some fur remained in place but draped over her like a cloak. Finally, her form stabilized and she stood head and shoulders over Ronon and shared his twisted dreadlocks. Ronon, at her side, didn’t look like he knew whether to be appalled or pleased at the mimicry.
“Ah, fascinating.” Rodney looked up from his detector. “Energy-mass conversion rules stay intact. She’s very dense. So the older you are the larger you get? We only met your children when we came through the Stargate before?”
She craned her head, regally, in answer.
“Dr. Elizabeth Weir, leader of the Atlantis Expedition--” Teyla extended her hand in Elizabeth’s direction, “--allow me to introduce Mwyn, the leader of the Numue.”
“Allow me to offer my apologies on the death of your daughter,” Elizabeth said soberly.
“Thank you for looking after my grandson,” Mwyn returned politely.
“Hey, my pleasure. He only puked on me once.” Sheppard walked carefully, holding Thing like fine china.
“John!” Elizabeth said through gritted teeth.
“I see that you are the one that has looked after my grandson.” Mwyn stroked a plate-like hand over Thing’s sticky-up black hair.
Sheppard shrugged, abashed.
“Oh, cool.” Rodney poked his head in between them. “Thing can change shape too.”
“Thing?” Mwyn asked.
“Rodney!” this time McKay got the gritted teeth chastisement.
“We didn’t know his name.” Sheppard smiled.
“Hah, he even has pointy ears,” Rodney continued irrepressibly. Thing reached out and tried to grab his nose.
“Give it a rest, McKay.” Sheppard said through the side of his mouth.
Stepping back, Rodney grinned and patted at his tac vest, hunting.
“Mwyn, would you like a tour of Atlantis?” Elizabeth interjected smoothly.
Uncurling from her scrutiny of her grandson and Sheppard, Mwyn’s spine cracked like nails on a blackboard.
“I thank you,” she said formally, “but I would request a proper postponement. Unnos and I need to return to attend his mother’s wöc.”
“Of course.” Colour flooded Elizabeth’s cheeks. “I should have thought. Please convey our condolences to your entire family.”
A faint air of maternal amusement coloured the air, a soft smile graced Mwyn’s dark brown face.
“It has been many, many years since we have met with those of the tau’ri that can tolerate those that are not of their kindred. While this meeting may have stemmed from great sadness, it is indeed a good day.”
The smile on Elizabeth’s face lit up the whole gateroom.
“And now my grandson, protector.” She opened her massive hands.
“Oh.” Sheppard’s mouth opened in a soundless intonation. “John, my name is John.”
“I am honoured to meet you, John.”
Sheppard hefted Thing a little higher on his shoulder. Eyes sparkling, Thing batted his hands, entranced by the goings on.
“Uhm, Lady Mwyn?” Rodney raised a finger. In his other hand, he waggled his camera. “Can I take a photo of the Colonel and Thing?”
“A graphical representation of this event. A memory,” Rodney said with uncharacteristic succinctness.
Sheppard was already shifting Thing so he had a full on view of the camera.
“Yes,” Mwyn said slowly, her confusion evident.
Rodney stepped back, rocking left and right, framing the picture. “Cheese!”
Sheppard smiled toothily and Thing did the vague, cute baby thing as Rodney snapped off a handful of pictures. Finished, he turned the camera around and showed the last image on LCD screen on the back.
“A memory,” she noted with a nod.
“We’ll print one out for you,” Sheppard said, charmingly. “You know, for when you come back.”
“Ha,” Mwyn mocked gently. “And now my grandson, John.”
Sheppard dutifully relinquished Thing and fur blanket (Ronon’s favourite) into his grandmother’s arms.
Mwyn gathered her grandson up, comfortably sitting him. He laid his head on her shoulder and eeked loudly and happily at Sheppard. “I will return to Dyadd, now. Make sure you visit us.”
“Kirk,” Rodney snarked, relatively quietly.
“Dial PX8 740,” Elizabeth called up to the overhead balcony.
“Hey, just a sec.” Sheppard darted over the platform and scooped up Unnos’ mother’s bag. “We took this, to see if there was anything in it which would help us with Unnos. The baby food was an experience.”
“Oh and, hmmm.” Rodney patted at his pockets. He pulled out the bracelet out. Only the faintest of blushes highlighted his cheeks. “Identification purposes, you know.”
As Mwyn gathered bag and bracelet, the event horizon whooshed and stabilised.
“I thank you,” she said formally. Smiling, she finished, “I look forward to extending our relations.” With a swirl of her innate fur cloak, she stepped through the wormhole.
“Well.” Elisabeth rubbed her hands together. “That was a success.”
“Indeed it was,” Teyla returned. “They are a kind and generous people.”
“I’m hungry, come on, let’s get something to eat,” Ronon said.
“Yes, we deserve a treat.” Elizabeth sauntered off the platform with Ronon and Teyla. “I think: hot chocolate.”
Sheppard pushed his hands in his pockets and watched as the shimmering wormhole subsided. At his side, Rodney bounced up on his toes.
“You have to love this place,” he said.
“What do you mean?” Sheppard asked, smiling. He knew damn well what Rodney meant.