Ronon unlatched McKay’s grip from his arm and quickly approached Sheppard.
“Don’t touch him!”
What was it with that woman!? Ronon disregarded her order until he was within three feet of Sheppard and then stopped, his nose wrinkling up in revulsion. What was that stench? It was worse than a Caldenian cesspit!
He backed up, smack into McKay and Teyla, whom he nearly knocked over, but they too retreated as a gentle night breeze sent the overwhelming stench right at them.
“Just shoot me,” croaked a voice. Several of Sheppard’s fingers twitched on one hand, then the eyes cracked open. “Put me out of my misery now.”
“You’re not dead,” said Wallas dryly, “and you probably don’t have a scratch on you.”
Diplomatic relations or not, Ronon was ready to throttle the callous woman. The man was obviously covered in—
“It’s not blood,” Wallas finished.
Sheppard pulled himself into a seated position. A glop of something brown and gooey fell off his hair and landed in his lap. His head was plastered with the stuff.
“I’m going to need months of therapy to get over this,” he muttered. He swiped the glop away and shuddered. What was left of his shirt just seemed to fall off as he straightened up and it was evident that most of his skin was plastered with streaks of red and yellow liquid..
“That’s not what I think it is?” McKay said in utter disgust.
Sheppard’s voice was low and deadly. He swiveled his head enough so he could pinpoint McKay’s voice; he couldn’t really see the scientist because of all the flashlights shining on him.
“Colonel?” McKay was suddenly wary.
“Why?” Even Ronon knew Sheppard was up to something the scientist wasn’t going to like.
Sheppard ran a hand through his glopped hair and ended up with a healthy amount of the stuff in his hand. He suddenly threw it in McKay’s direction. Everybody scattered as if he’d thrown acid.
“Hey!” McKay shouted in horror.
“Colonel!” Teyla shot back in a very angry voice, and for a brief moment, Sheppard looked suitably chastised for his childish action. A second later, the frown settled back on his face and it looked like it was going to stay there for the duration.
“I was covered with all these damned monkeys,” Sheppard glared into the woods.
“Lenguons,” corrected Wallas authoritatively.
“I don’t care if they were leprechauns,” shot back Sheppard irritably. “And who the hell are you anyway? The damned things were just ripping up my uniform and leaving me alone until you had to call, Rodney. And do you know what happened when you called?”
Ronon noticed that the three people with the buckets had removed the lids, while the fourth was unraveling a large black bag.
“When they freaked out, they pissed all over me! It was like someone opened up the floodgates!” seethed Sheppard. “And then to just top it off, the damned things rubbed crap in my hair!”
The colonel’s hands gripped empty air in frustration. He let out an inarticulate scream of frustration, which sounded similar to the scream that had drawn them to this particular spot. It was followed almost immediately by a cacophony of howls and screams from the surrounding woods.
Almost everyone looked around in trepidation, especially Sheppard, whose eyes just widened in alarm as he grabbed the P90, only to discover the bullets had been removed. Ronon placed his hand quickly on the butt of his weapon.
“No worry,” the Wallas woman assured everyone as she walked up to Sheppard. “You just got initiated into their clan. They were just answering you back.”
“I’m not part of any damned monkey clan,” Sheppard argued, aiming his eyes back into the dark. “And you’re a dead man, Rodney.”
Ronon felt McKay actually hide behind him. “You won’t let him hurt me, will you?” he whispered.
“Depends,” replied Ronon with a smile, but if Sheppard lobbed anymore Lenguon crap, he was getting out of the way. McKay was on his own then.
“So the Lenguons weren’t trying to hurt the colonel?” said Teyla curiously.
“No,” replied Wallas. “They’ve never hurt anyone, not really.”
“Excuse me?” Sheppard’s voice was sharp and more than a bit stressed. “I was mugged. They jumped me out of nowhere, knocked me to the ground, ripped off my clothes, pistol-whipped me,” at which point he gestured toward his forehead, “and chewed on my toes and you’re saying they’re harmless? What fantasyland do you live in, lady?”
Ronon noticed a slightly strange look cross the short woman’s face, but it vanished quickly as she focused on the business at hand.
“Where’s Carson and his happy pills when you need him?” muttered McKay.
“And why is all of this…red?” Sheppard shook out his hands in disgust. More bits of sodden uniform fell off. Ronon was pretty sure there wasn’t much uniform left at all.
“They were eating the jorjora berries,” explained Wallas. “When they ferment, it makes the Lenguon a bit bolder than usual.”
“No, really?” Sheppard’s sarcasm was in full rant mode. Another glop of excrement fell off his hair into his lap and Sheppard smacked it off. His hand caught on some shredded fabric that he promptly ripped off. He was about to toss it, but instead stopped for a second, staring oddly at the strip hanging from his fingers. Ronon didn’t see anything terribly exciting about it, except that the yellow and red stained fabric looked like something blue and white striped.
“Uh, that looks like…” McKay trailed off, coughing. “Never mind.”
Sheppard’s face suddenly registered alarm and he dropped the cloth. He pulled his legs together and pinned both hands between his legs at a strategic juncture. “Just great. There’s goes my last shred of dignity, and clothing,” he muttered darkly under his breath.
“Lenguons have a habit of marking other members of the clan,” explained Wallas as the two people with buckets stood on either side of Sheppard. The colonel stared at them with the same undisguised apprehension that he’d give a Wraith moving in for a snack.
“You might want to close your eyes and hold your breath for a moment,” advised Wallas.
”Why?” he asked suspiciously.
“This will help contain the smell.”
“For god’s sake, let them do it,” sounded McKay. “You stink to high heaven. Elizabeth’ll never let you back.”
Sheppard glared at McKay and nearly raised a hand to make a gesture at the man until he realized just what that action might be exposing. “And would whoever is aiming that flashlight at my crotch, stop it!” he demanded.
The light went off, and Ronon was sure, glancing off to the side, that it was the Minister’s wife who’d been risking diplomatic relations. She’d been ogling him ever since they’d gotten to this planet. Funny how Sheppard had thought it highly amusing that the older woman had glommed onto Ronon. Bet Sheppard wasn’t laughing now.
A second later, the buckets were tossed. Ronon had at first been positive they’d douse the colonel with water to wash off the foul concoction of excrement and urine - although throwing him in one of the tiny ponds dotted around the area would probably be better - but it wasn’t water. Instead, a cloud of white powder enveloped the man.
The cloud settled a few seconds later. Sheppard let out a weak, hacking cough and opened his eyes. He was covered head to toe in the coarse white powder, which was slowly turning an orange color as it soaked into the slick mess on his body.
“No, I was wrong. This is my last shred of dignity just going down the drain,” he ground out.
Another person in one of those strange white suits handed Wallas a sheet, which she in turn gave to Sheppard, who stared at it blankly for a moment.
“If you wouldn’t mind standing up, we need to get the soaking powder all over you and since you’re sitting…” she pointed out.
Sheppard emitted an audible sigh, one that just reeked of defeat. He stood up and more scraps of uniform fell off, but at least he had the sheet to provide strategic coverage. One of the bucket people stood behind him and lobbed the powder all over him.
“Hey!” Sheppard began to turn but quickly wrapped the sheet around his waist instead.
“Had to get it in everywhere,” Wallas said knowingly.
“I did ask someone to shoot me, didn’t I?” Sheppard secured the sheet around his waist, then gathered up the rest of the cloth so he wouldn’t trip over it and add to the humiliation. “Now what? I just stand here till I dry?”
Ronon stared at Sheppard. The man looked pathetic, put out, pissed off, and totally ridiculous, all covered in white and wrapped in a sheet while he turned orange. Ronon let out a laugh and even Teyla couldn’t stop from joining in, as their relief was so great that the colonel was unharmed.
“Really, can this get any worse?” moaned Sheppard, looking up at the night sky. “Can it?”
....To be continued