wraithfodder (wraithfodder) wrote,
wraithfodder
wraithfodder

Stargate Atlantis Fanfic: "Denouement" (Gen, PG-13, complete)

Title: Denouement

Author: Wraithfodder

Rating: PG-13 for some graphic imagery

Category: Gen, drama

Spoilers: BIG spoilers for season 5 episode “The Prodigal”

 

Summary: I really thought that “The Prodigal” deserved a special tag, and this idea just got stuck in my head until I wrote it down…


Skitter. Skitter. Skitter.

 

Sustenance. Spread far and wide was the sustenance. It was a feast awaiting harvest. The wet, irregular pieces glittered appetizingly under the night orb’s tenuous rays.  The Colony could not waste time. Drawn by the scent permeating their watery world below, the workers quickly scaled the dark surface of the Home. Its immensity made them appear insignificant among the Leviathans of the vast oceanworld, yet its strange, impenetrable structure had proven time and again to provide the Colony’s needs. The massive swells of the waves in the time of the darkening would not deter them. To hesitate would mean that others would find and consume this new food source. Water crashed with fierce beats against the workers, knocking several back into the chilled water but they would regroup and return, undaunted in their single-minded desire to gather food. The ocean was harsh but the Colony survived, and now, attached to the Home, it would thrive.

 

Skitter. Skitter. Skitter.

 

Several workers, their claws dug firmly into a piece of the still-warm flesh, quickly passed by the older Monitor, their high-pitched trilling confirmation of their victory in securing a large piece of the sustenance. Down and over the inflexible curved side, the struggling workers vanished into the deep, black water, hurrying back to the Colony’s hive. The squablings would feast and grow strong, soon to adulthood, then abandon the hive to begin afresh. The Home was immense enough that they would not need to risk the oceanworld’s dangers. Food would always come to them.

 

Skitter. Skitter. Skitter.

 

More workers ascended from the waves, scaling the Home’s slanted side with a speed borne of desperate necessity. Despite the darkening, there were predators that ruled the massive sky above. Winged beasts would appear quickly from the dark to scavenge any sustenance, and if possible, members of the Colony as well. The click-click-click of the workers sharp claws against the Home’s surface echoed in the vastness. They swarmed over the pieces of the sustenance, tearing off the strange non-edible skin, discarding it after sucking it dry of the blood that soaked it. The juvenile workers scoured the Home’s surface, licking up any puddles of blood, while the adult workers carried away any and all pieces of the sustenance back to the hive.

 

Skitter. Skitter. Skitter.

 

Crash! The soundwaves thrummed with warning through the Home’s flat surface. The Monitor’s eyes unerringly found the source of the noise – the Others – the bizarre creatures that inhabited the land-yet-not-land of the Home. They appeared from the portion of the Home that dwelled in the sky. Two of the Others stepped forth, towering above the workers. The Monitor tweened its sharp battle cry. The workers furiously dragged larger pieces of the sustenance toward the water, fearful of the Others’ intent. Sentries on attention for the beasts from above instead launched forward several paces, bobbing up and down rhythmically, flinging out their several pairs of battle claws and hissing warningly at the Others. The Colony would not be denied this sustenance!

 

Skitter. Skitter. Skitter.

 

Lieutenant David Fisher checked his P90 before he cautiously waved his hand with a silent motion across the rectangular lightbox jutting out elegantly from the alien wall. The door swooshed open - just as they did in Star Trek. He remembered watching those old repeats as a kid. Despite the cheesy special effects, its adventures had propelled him toward a career in the Air Force, not that he would ever admit that out loud, but then he’d found himself at the SGC and what had once been fantasy was now reality, although he never would have thought that space vampires could be real. He’d been on Atlantis for eight months, two weeks and three days. The wonders and horrors of the Pegasus Galaxy still amazed him, and kept him on constant vigil.

 

“Is this really necessary? I mean--”

 

Fisher held up his hand in a quick, sharp motion, ordering silence from his subordinate. Corporal Wilkins was fresh off the Daedalus. He’d been in the city just a few weeks and hadn’t even gone offworld yet. The last several hours had initiated him to the incredible horrors lurking in the galaxy, yet the younger soldier still held firm to the logic that might apply to Earth, but certainly not here. Not on Atlantis. Not with— “Colonel Sheppard’s orders,” Fisher spoke quietly, his clipped tone demanding no further protest.

 

Fisher cautiously stepped out of the entranceway, his eyes rapidly scanning the area to both sides of the door. Caution, even if based on an incredibly wild assumption, was not to be tossed to the wind in the Pegasus Galaxy. A warm breeze swept by, bringing with it a dose of salt spray from the waves which battered the base of the massive Atlantean City. His eyes had already adjusted to the dark and the weird green glow of the night vision goggles, equipment that both he and Wilkins had donned before going outside. Two tours in Afghanistan had made night vision goggles old hat to him, yet the enemy there was totally different. Just fellow humans out to kill him. Not space vampires.

 

Colonel Sheppard, via Major Collins, had ordered some men to the base of the city’s main tower to confirm the death. Fisher knew how tall the tower was, knew the chances of anyone surviving was ridiculous beyond words… but then again, if they were on Earth, Wraith would be characters in a comic book, and USAF colonels sucked dry to grandpa status and then given their life back by the Wraith would be in a science fiction movie, but this was all real, and at times, too bizarre. So being given orders by a colonel who – according to Collins, had had his head repeatedly bashed into a wall, wasn’t walking all that steady and had been carted off to the infirmary to make sure he didn’t have brain damage – well, who was he to question those orders?

 

Skitter. Skitter. Skitter.

 

“Oh shit, what the hell are those things?”

 

Wilkins hissed words, laced with fear, were followed by the familiar sound of a weapon being brought to bear. Fisher pressed his hand under the weapon, pushing it up. “Don’t,” he ordered.

 

“That’s… gross.” Wilkins’ strained voice indicated he was swallowing down bile.

 

Fisher was a bit more inured of the graphic scenario laid out before him. He tapped his comm. “Major Collins, this is Fisher reporting. You can tell the colonel that Michael is definitely one dead puppy. The skitterers are enjoying a midnight snack.”

 

Affirmative,” crackled back a disembodied voice. “I’m sure the colonel will be pleased to hear that.”

 

Fisher signed off, then took a step back, an action immediately mimicked – although in a more concerned fashion – by the corporal. He leaned casually against the wall, resting hands atop the weapon clipped to his tac vest as he watched the creatures rushing back and forth to the pier’s edge. Wilkins wasn’t so relaxed. “What are those—skitterers?”

 

The lieutenant cocked his head, watching the creatures, almost a mutation between crab and spider with eight legs and huge sharp claws, rapidly making off with the remains of the Wraith hybrid known as Michael. The guy had to have hit something hard on the way down as his corpse was scattered all over the place. It brought back dark memories of a plane crash on a base in Iraq, and what had been strewn far and wide: limbs, organs, and bits and pieces so indistinguishable that they had to let forensic experts identify as to what belonged to which decedent. A human body, or a Wraith’s, could only withstand so much abuse before being torn apart. “They’re skitterers,” Fisher acknowledged, shoving the gruesome airplane crash far away in his thoughts. “They’re the local version of crabs around these parts. Sure, they’re as big as basketballs but they don’t attack people.”

 

“They’re… eating him,” argued Wilkins weakly.

 

“Food is food,” Fisher shrugged. “I’m sure if one of us did a faceplant from the tower to the pier they’d eat the pieces too, but they don’t attack live people.” He waved his hand toward the half-dozen or so skitterers moving up and down in a rhythmic motion that reminded him perversely of fans doing ‘the wave’ at a football game. “Those are the sentries. They put on a big show about how they’ll slice and dice us with those claws if we try to take away their food.”

 

“You know,” continued Wilkins, his voice still belying his trepidation. “Those claws do look big enough to do damage. I mean, they could easily swarm a person, right?”

 

Fisher didn’t respond. There was something almost cathartic about watching the skitterers hauling away the remains of a creature who had caused so many deaths in the galaxy. When the skitterers sometimes clambered up the side of piers in search of food during the daylight hours, their chitinous carapaces would shimmer a lustrous iridescent blue-violet color under the sun’s bright rays. Under the technology of the night vision goggles, they were a ghostly white visage, better suited to a horror movie.

 

“Don’t worry, corporal,” Fisher replied at last. “They eat fish and other acquatic life, and..” A grin lit his face. “Cheetoes.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Perkins still has a pack of Cheetoes left from the last Daedalus run,” said Fisher. “The skitterers go nuts for Cheetoes. We rig ‘em on a fishing pole and watch ‘em jump. Take bets but don’t let the colonel know cuz he doesn’t like anything that looks remotely like bugs. Yeah, they love Cheetoes, at least the puffy ones. Haven’t had a chance to try the crunchy ones. Damned scientists seem to scarf ‘em all up before we can get any.” Fisher was pretty sure it was McKay who was hoarding the crunchy Cheetoes but nobody wanted to tick off the lead scientist, especially one who was in tight with the military commander of the base.

 

“Where do they come from?”

 

Fisher grinned. “Beats me, but they’ve taken up residence on the underside of the city. Sort of like barnacles. Scientists are busy studying them. Oh, don’t mention the Cheetoes fishing to the scientists. They get all bent out of shape. Think we’re poisoning the indigenous wildlife.”

 

A strange thunk-thunk interrupted the constant underlying sound of skitter-skitter-skitter from the creatures’ movements across the deck. A half-deflated football-shaped lump was dragged over the side to vanish in the blackness. It took a moment for Fisher to realize that it was Michael’s severed head, now deformed from the brutal impact on the pier.

 

“Okay, show’s over.” Fisher shook his head, hoping that memory didn’t hang around too long. He tapped Wilkins on the shoulder. The younger airman startled, just briefly, then quickly went back inside, obviously welcome to get away from the gruesome scenario. Fisher knew that within hours, there wouldn’t be any indication that a body had impacted and imploded on the pier. The skitterers would peel every drop of ‘food’ from the deck, and the ocean’s eternal spray of salt water would clear off the rest.

 

Fisher appreciated that Atlantis came with a built-in clean-up crew.

 

THE END

 

Copyright (2008) Disclaimer: The Stargate Atlantis characters, as presented on the series, belong to MGM, Sci Fi, and other registered copyright holders. No copyright infringement is meant or intended by the writing and posting of this material. I'm just borrowing the characters and the universe for a piece of non-profit 'fan fiction' and will return in one piece (well, usually). However, all original characters and story material are copyright to author. Please do not repost this fiction, in whole or in part, anywhere, without expression written permission of the author. Thanks.

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Tags: fanfic, my fanfic, stargate atlantis
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