"Nepenthe's Kiss"

by Grey Lupous

Spoilers, summaries, and other author's notes available at the beginning of chapter one.

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John chunked his pillow as the second piece of vine tried to sneak up on him from behind. This was insane. Not only was he being chased by a plant – he was being chased in his underwear by a plant that could strategize. He leapt off the bed, landing in an ungraceful heap. Quickly he rolled back to his feet, but just as he reached for the radio on the floor, one of the vines darted out at him.

"Damn it, no means no!"

He leapt back, took aim, and fired off another round from his gun, splitting that piece again. He didn't wait this time, and leapt over the stunned plant. From the floor he heard the radio flare to life.

"Major Sheppard, we're hearing reports of gunfire in your area. Please report back." It was Weir.

"Sorry, busy!" He shouted at it as he shimmied away from the three pieces trying to back him against the corner. The innocuous-looking evil seed spawns of horror closed in quickly. "Oh screw it!"

He emptied the rest of the clip into the remaining pieces, stunning them long enough to skirt around them and pick up his radio. He tossed away the useless gun as he slid out the door into the hallway, entirely too reminiscent of Tom Cruise in Risky Business. The vine spawn was right behind him. He sprinted down the hall as the vines gave pursuit.

"This is Sheppard!" He practically shouted into the radio as he struggled to keep his precious lead on the vinelings chasing him. "I need you to get everyone in this section of the city to lock themselves in their room!"

"John, what's going on? Was that gunfire?"

"Yes it was, and not to sound impatient, but I don't have time to argue!" He glanced back to see one of the pieces slithering up entirely too close. "Get me backup, fully clothed, thick boots, with as much weed killer or anti-freeze that you can find, and I mean right now!"

"Weed killer?"

"Elizabeth!" His tone was nearing hysteria. "Unless you want two laid up department heads, just get it done!"

"Sir, this is Bates."

"Sergeant, please tell me you've got some good news for me."

"I've 'acquired' something from Dr. Kavanagh's lab to help. I can be there in less than two minutes if you meet me half-way."

"Don't be offended if I beat you there," he puffed into the radio, rounding a corner that led towards the transporter Bates would likely be coming from. He glanced back, and sure enough, the tattered remains of the man-eating vine were still following strong as ever.

Just went to prove some days it didn't pay to get out of bed.

*          *          *          *          *

Sergeant Stackhouse limped into the infirmary. The sounds of quiet chaos drifted from the operating theatre as the night staff rushed about trying to get everything prepared for emergency surgery. He limped a little further in, a little confused at the lack of a medical presence in the infirmary.

The nature of his injury was rather embarrassing, and he had already had to wrangle Markham to get him to the infirmary and put up with the asinine jokes about his lack of balance. Markham would have helped him further except there seemed to be some sort of incident that Major Sheppard was asking backup for. Besides, what sort of Marine would he be if he couldn't limp a few feet into the infirmary?

There was no nurse waiting for him however. While he appreciated the lack of an audience to hear his tale of woe, he would rather someone look at his ankle as it was throbbing rather steadily and he was sure it was at least sprained.

This was the last time he helped Dr. Corrigan transport any more artifacts.

"Hello?" he called out, half expecting an echo. He continued to gimp along, peering into the various curtained off sections. He spied Lieutenant Ford resting in one cot; apparently still laid up from that nasty rash he'd gotten helping the Athosians in clearing out some land.

A tingle of uncertainty raced up his spine, the sensation he usually got when he was about to be ambushed. He narrowed his eyes and swung his gaze around the infirmary. He shook off the feeling and continued on, peering into the next curtained-cubicle.

Something hard and flat crashed over his head and before he could react, someone grabbed his head, slamming it into their knee. He only got a glimpse of the khaki issued science uniforms before he blacked out.

*          *          *          *          *

Ford had initially just closed his eyes to feign sleep in case McKay came back for another round of Charades, but at some point had actually drifted off. However, the sound of crashing metal brought the Marine awake instantly. He tugged against the restraints as he tried to peer around the curtain blocking off his view of most of the infirmary.

He could hear someone dragging something heavy in the partitioned area next to him, and peered through the material to see if he could see anything. The most he could make out in the lighting was a vague human shape, dragged something—no, someone—

"What's going on there?" He demanded, groping with his hands to find the nurse call button. The stupid straps on his wrists didn't help matters any.

The figure next to him seemed to be roused into a hurry. He finally managed to get a hand around the device and mashed the button to alert the staff. Rapid footfalls approached, and the muttered curses announced the arrival of Beckett.

"What's wrong, Aiden?" Beckett hadn't changed into his scrubs yet but from the lack of lab coat and jacket, he had been getting ready to. He fixed the lieutenant with an appraising gaze. "You didn't call me here just to take those off because I already told you—"

"No, listen Doc, I just heard a crash, and I think we've got a hostile—"

Beckett shook his head. "Clever. However I'm not going to loosen those straps until I'm sure you're not going to irritate that rash anymore. But I'll check on it, just to humor you."

"Doc, I think you need to call security—"

Carson ignored him as he poked his head into the next cubicle. There he saw an unconscious Stackhouse, laid out on the floor. He slowly raised his eyes to see the sergeant's gun pointed between his eyes. Beckett tried to swallow past the lump in his throat and focused past the weapon to the owner.

"Rodney?"

A mad gleam had entered the scientist's eyes, one that was completely unnatural on the man standing in front of Carson. Obviously he had miscalculated the affect the parasite had on his friend: gravely miscalculated it seemed.

"McKay?" Ford echoed. "What's going on, Doc?"

"Back up," Rodney ordered harshly, and faced with his current options, Carson could only comply.

As soon as they were both free of the curtained area, McKay made a move to step around Carson but he caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye as one of the nurses came out, presumably to find Beckett. In a split second he had an arm wrapped around the doctor's neck, muzzle pressed against his temple.

"We're going on a little walk," McKay said low, "and I don't want any of them joining us."

Heart hammering in his chest, Carson nodded weakly and held up a hand to halt the nurse's progress. She stopped immediately.

"No one follows us, you hear me!" McKay shouted to her. She nodded mutely. "If I run into any military on the way out, and I mean any, you're going to have to look for a new boss!"

"Rodney—" Carson protested feebly, but was cut off as McKay tightened the hold around his throat.

"Let him go, McKay!" Ford shouted as he struggled in vain against the straps holding him down. "You're acting crazy!"

McKay barely spared him a glance as he manhandled Beckett out of the infirmary. The door swooshed shut after them, leaving the infirmary in shocked silence for a few seconds, before the sounds of a patient struggling on his cot continued. "Someone get these things off me!"


 

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