Pros and Cons
by Eildon Rhymer (rhymer23)
Summary: It was proving to the be freakiest captivity ever. John doubted that even Ronon could take out four hundred crazed women when armed only with a teaspoon.
Note: No disrespect is intended to anyone, whether fans, real people or fictional characters. There is a very short scene in which real people appear, but I'm personally very uncomfortable with real people appearing in stories, and I managed to cope with writing it, so I hope it'll be copeable-with for similarly-minded readers, too.
The last thing John remembered was a blaze of silver light. He had turned desperately to Ronon, shouting at him to get back, but then the light had enveloped him, and he remembered nothing else.
Light was still blazing, flaring like a thousand camera flashes. John lurched with dizziness, his hand coming up to his head. Ronon! he thought, but Ronon was there beside him, looking as disoriented as John felt. "Whoa," John managed to say. "What just happened?"
Ronon frowned into the scintillating lights. "This isn't Atlantis."
"What gave you the clue, huh?" John blinked rapidly, struggling to persuade his eyes to focus again. "Would that be the horde of screaming, uh--"
"--women." Ronon said it in a way that implied that he thought 'monster' would be a more apt term.
John scraped at his eyes. From the noise, he had thought it was something much more dreadful, not even human. They were shrieking, cheering and whooping. They sat and stood in rows, apparently consumed with some frenzy.
"Most of them are unarmed," Ronon said.
John's eyes flickered around the large room, locating exits – 'fire exit,' they were helpfully labelled – and assessing the threat. "There's easily four hundred of them, buddy," he whispered back. "I don't think we can take them. Let's play along for now."
He raised his hand in a conciliatory fashion and gave an ingratiating smile. The screaming intensified. One of the women on the front row fainted.
Ronon drew closer to him. "This is freaky."
John nodded. Something felt different, he realised. His hand went to his thigh, but his sidearm was gone. "They've taken our weapons," he whispered out of the side of his mouth, all the while trying to maintain his ingratiating smile, "and my vest." They'd apparently been stripped, too, and dressed again in different clothing. They were both wearing jeans, and above that John was wearing just a plaid shirt, with several buttons open at the neck.
"What do you want with us?" Ronon bellowed. "Are you Wraith worshippers? I'll kill you all!"
The crowd erupted in cheers and whoops and loud applause.
"Playing along, remember, buddy." John clapped his hand on Ronon's shoulder. His ingratiating smile was faltering somewhat, he thought. "They don't look, uh, evil," he said. No red eyes and horns, anyway, which was a good start. "Maybe they're sick. We need to reason with them."
The weirdest thing, though, he noticed suddenly, was what the crowd of baying women was wearing. They looked like nobody he had ever met in the Pegasus Galaxy. None of them looked like refugees from a Renaissance Fair, and not one of them was wearing figure-hugging black leather. Many of them were wearing t-shirts emblazoned with slogans that made no sense to him.
"Well," said a man suddenly, his voice filling the entire room, "since neither of the guests seem talkative, shall we go straight to the question and answer session? And I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the auction this afternoon."
Auction! John stiffened. "We're slaves? You're selling us to the highest bidder?"
Most the women gasped aloud, pulling out money and cheque books. At least four more of them fainted.
"There's only forty-three of them between us and the exit," Ronon said, hissing it behind his hand. "Just give the word."
John moistened his lips, shaking his head. "Not yet. Play along. Be good."
The man spoke again. "Do we have any questions?"
A woman stepped forward, her face flushed and her hands visibly trembling. "Hi," she said. "I've got a question for both of you. Boxers, briefs, or--" She paused, as a ripple of giggling swept through the crowd. "--or neither?"
"Briefs," Ronon said, before John could round up his disparate thoughts into any sort of coherent answer. Ronon's answer really didn't help. John felt himself gaping. "Hey," Ronon shrugged, "these things are important when you're on the run. Chafing's a Runner's worst enemy. Look after the underwear and--"
"Buddy," John managed to gasp. "Thanks for the image, but I really didn't want to know that."
Ronon shrugged. "You said to play along. I'm playing along."
Things grew worse after that. After subjecting them to a barrage of humiliating and baffling questions, their captors led them to a small room, packed with the now-ubiquitous horde of women. A large camera was set up, and John felt his heart start to race, as he remembered Kolya and Todd. "When I give the signal," he whispered to Ronon, "we fight."
For now, though… Play along, John repeated desperately to himself. Sooner or later their captors would slip up and give them an opening. For now, his working hypothesis was that every last one of them was crazy. At least no-one had tried to shoot them yet, though, which was always a plus.
"Okay," a voice said, "let's get started. Who's first."
A woman came towards John, arms outstretched, while another one performed a flanking manoeuvre, trying to take out Ronon. John suddenly found himself with an armful of woman. "Uh…" He cleared his throat; he had never known what to do with his hands when women appeared in his arms.
Beside him, Ronon had no such qualms. "Don't touch me!" he shouted. He wrestled his attacker to the floor, and held her there, his hand at her throat. John joined in rather belatedly, remembering moves Teyla had taught him, and dragged his own attacker down, where he straddled her, pinning her so she couldn't move.
"…three!" the camera operator said, as the flash went off.
"Cool!" he heard someone whisper away to his right. "I wonder how much extra they paid to get that."
The woman held captive between his thighs appeared to have fainted. The woman Ronon had subdued was gasping for breath, a faint sound escaping her lips.
It sounded like 'squee.'
Their guard was redoubled when they were taken to the next room. There John found himself so surrounded by women that he didn't notice when Ronon was led away from him. "Ronon!" he shouted, suddenly desperate. "Ronon!"
"Sheppard!" he heard in reply, the voice barely audible over the torrent of noise. "I'm good."
There were just so many of them. Play along, he repeated. Play along until…
"It's so cool," he heard one of the women exclaim. "They're in character. They're the best guests ever."
John's guards wanted him to sit down at a desk. There was a jug of water there, but John wasn't falling for such a simple ruse. Better to go thirsty than to be drugged. "What do you want me to do?" John asked.
A woman came giggling up to the desk, and presented him with a picture of himself. "Uh…" John cleared his throat. "Aren't you supposed to send the picture to the guys back at home? Isn't that how kidnapping usually works?"
The woman giggled. "Just sign it," said one of the guards. He sounded irritated.
John picked up a pen and signed the name 'Reed Richards', deliberately scrawling the words all over his face on the photo. The woman picked the picture up and pressed it to her chest, sighing. "Thank you," she said. "I…" She blushed even redder. "I'm a huge fan of McShep and--"
"Of what?" John asked.
"McShep." She giggled into her hand. "You know – you and Rodney. It's so obvious you're in love."
"We're what now?" John fought the urge to gape.
"In love." The woman opened a folder and pulled out a sheet of paper. "I've done this piece of fanart. I'd like you to have it."
Despite his best efforts, John could feel his mouth dropping open as he looked at the picture. They were naked! And Rodney was… He cleared his throat, desperately struggling for control. "Is that actually physically possible?" he managed to ask. "Rodney isn't in very good shape, you know, and I doubt he could manage..." He tilted his head on one side. The body she'd given him was hot, although if it was actually possible to be that, uh, big, then he had some serious worrying to do. He cleared his throat again. Play along only went so far. "Are you trying to blackmail me?" he demanded. "That never happened. No-one's seriously going to believe that's us." He frowned again. "The wings are the give-away there."
"But they look so beautiful," the woman said, her voice barely audible and her cheeks flushing redder than John would have thought possible, "just… just like you are."
John found that his mouth was open again. He snapped it shut. This was the freakiest captivity ever. As he struggled to regain his focus, the woman moved away, and a new woman took her place.
The picture she gave him showed John slumped on the floor of the jumper, with that freaky alien bug… "I hate those things," John rasped, because he had to say something. "Is this some sick joke? How did you get this?"
"I'm a whumper," the woman said.
Think, John, John urged himself. Concentrate! "Wumpa?" he echoed. "Is that the name of your organisation? What does it stand for?" The W had to mean 'Wraith,' he decided.
"Shep whumper." The woman was blushing and tremulous. "It means that I like to hurt you."
It was too much. John pushed his chair back and grabbed the woman by the neck, pinning her down on the table. Her hand waved limply, desperately. "It's for the character development," she gasped, "and the team comfort. It's because I love you."
As John held her down, he dimly heard the sound of a commotion on the far side of the room. "How did you get that picture?" Ronon was bellowing. "Tell me who you serve, or I'll kill you!"
It was proving to be the weirdest kidnapping ever. Apparently they were in disgrace for attacking their captors, and they had been politely but firmly confined to their cell.
Their cell had a confusing resemblance to a hotel room on Earth.
Ronon had found the television and was flicking through the channels. "Why are these people shouting at each other?" he asked.
"Reality TV." John waved a hand. "Something civilisations have time to come up with when they're not being culled by the Wraith."
Ronon changed the channel. John wandered to the window to see if they could escape that way. So far, the only weapons he'd been able to find were coat hangers, teaspoons and a small bottle of shampoo. He doubted that even Ronon could take out four hundred crazed women with a teaspoon.
"Hey," Ronon said, his voice suddenly urgent. "That's you."
John turned in time to see himself sitting in the Ancient weapons chair. "Oh." He sank down stiffly into the bed. "Uh… Has the Stargate Program been declassified without me noticing?"
"How were they able to get these images?" Ronon shouted, grabbing the television with both hands and shaking it.
John frowned, his thoughts racing. Suddenly everything made sense. "It must be… Atlantis… It's full of Ancient technology, more than even McKay understands. Something must be automatically recording images of us and broadcasting them, and these people… Have we shown you Galaxy Quest? This place – this planet of crazy women – has intercepted the transmissions somehow and…"
"And what?" Ronon demanded.
John let out a breath, as everything that had happened reshaped itself in the light of his revelation. The crowd's predatory baying became adulation, and the giggling women with the photographs hadn't been threatening him at all, but rather, in their strange and primitive fashion, had been trying to praise him.
"I think we're their gods," he said.
After dark, a wary-looking guard invited them to join everyone at a party. The music was loud, and the women had formed themselves into lines and were performing ritual dances. They were showing no more sign of sanity than they had ever shown, but now that John knew the truth, he could almost pity them.
"But how do we get home?" Ronon asked, looking suspiciously at a bright pink cocktail that someone had thrust into his hand.
John smiled, and a sigh rippled through the mass of frenzied dancers. "McKay'll work it out," he said. "He'll bring us back in no time."
"Cut?" Rodney repeated to the infuriating little man who kept on trying to interrupt him. "Cut what? And why do you keep saying the name David? Are you called David? And I'm supposed to know that? I've got far more important things to do than remember people's names. I'm in the middle of some very important work here, until someone set off that silver flare – was that you, or was it your friend there with the rather large camera? And – oh! – someone send for a doctor, because a light that bright can't be good for you, and I can feel a headache coming on, and… get back! No, I don't care who you are, because… What? The director? Director of what? Go away. Run along. Chop chop. Let me work."
"Uh…" Jason looked down at the blaster prop in his hand. "It's… it's real. How did that happen?"
Joe hastily put down his own gun. "You appear to have just blown up half the set."
A crowd of extras was approaching. As Jason shrugged in apology, the extras all raised their… what was the technical name of those cool machine-gun-type things again? Joe and Jason whirled round as the Stargate prop flared silver behind them, and… "Cool!" Jason said. "How did they do that? They normally add that in post-production."
A single figure walked through the Stargate. "Hey," Joe said, "it's Chris." He walked over to the man in full Wraith make-up.
"John Sheppard…" Chris hissed, drawing out all the sounds.
"You always were a method actor." Joe clapped Chris on the shoulder. "Wanna join us for dinner?"
Chris snarled… and everything sheeted silver.
"That was… weird." Joe blinked at the room full of dancing women.
Jason looked at the glass in his hand. "How many of these have we had?"
"I'm surrounded by idiots, and…" Rodney broke off, and frowned at his surroundings. He seemed to be somewhere else entirely, surrounded by a completely different collection of clueless idiots. He shrugged. One lot was no different from any other. "So run along," he said. "How many times do I have to tell you? Oh, and you can get me some coffee while you're there, and where is that doctor?"
The Wraith's hand came down. "Oh… crap," said John.
Note: So there I was, editing away at chapter seven of my slave story/alchemy AU, when this popped into my head. I'm off to a con the weekend after next, and I'd told someone that "Sheppard and Ronon are going to be there," so I suddenly started wondering what would happen if they were. And now back to the regularly scheduled editing. Or, rather, back to work first.
You can leave feedback on LJ here (you don't need an LJ account to do so.)