Rodney didn't like having to climb a cliff to get to the ZPM. But his protest was pro forma. Ronon didn't like the equipment they had for their climb, too flimsy to hold him if something went wrong. Teyla didn't like the Vilknimt themselves; they were regarded as unfriendly traders in the stellar markets.
John had thought they were okay, if standoffish, and it was John's opinion which had put them on top of the mountain, leaning into wet, drizzly winds, teeth chattering viciously and hands contracted around their weapons.
The treacherous appearance of the mountain had given them some warning, so they were tied to one another. When Ronon fell, inevitable on smooth rocks made slick by water, he didn't fall to his death. Teyla threw herself on her butt, and John and Rodney both planted their feet and hauled backward.
They might have been okay if they had sat still and waited out the rain, but Teyla lifted her feet -- putting it together later, they decided she must have intended to push farther back -- and Ronon startled at the same time, and that was two off the cliff.
Rodney didn't clearly remember how John got pulled off, how his shoulder got dislocated, how they were found. He just remembered the cold and wet and rain, and his body showed it in his sleep.
"Rodney needs a blanket," Teyla told the nurse, Whitney.
Whitney shrugged. "Beckett won't let us give bedding to anyone who's not actually been admitted to the infirmary. He says the gate teams keep shredding it if they get hold of it. Rodney's welcome to bring his own back here. "
Teyla frowned and nodded simultaneously. "Can he share my bed?, " she asked.
Whitney looked at the twitching, shivering ball of Rodney's body. "No. You cracked your skull pretty bad there. But he can bunk with John or Ronon if they don't mind. On Ronon's left side. The break on his right doesn't need any jostling either."
Teyla lay back against her pillows and closed her eyes. "When he wakes, I will tell him."
When she woke, Rodney was already huddled into Ronon's side. John was awake and watching the three of them with a look she didn't like. "It is not true, whatever you are telling yourself with that look on your face."
"Isn't it?" asked John, voice faint and raspy.
"If you're assigning blame for our injuries, then, no, it's not. Blame the Vilknimt," rumbled Ronon, eyes still closed.
"Oh," said John. And the look in his eyes changed, became heated.
Teyla nodded her agreement with Ronon.
"I can make a naquadah bomb," agreed Rodney sleepily.
Teyla watched the heat in John's eyes bank at Rodney's offer, humor blanketing the anger.
"Or maybe we'll just go back and ask what they thought would happen when they sent us up there," said John.
"Sometimes, it's nice just to have a naquadah bomb," said Rodney, but in a very sleepy voice.
They healed slowly, even Ronon. He was the youngest, but he had been the worst injured. They hunkered down in Rodney's room, mostly. John ventured out to get food, as he had the least damage to hands and arms. Rodney spied on his minions remotely and kept working on his own projects.
But they did heal, did go back off-planet, to the Vilknimt. And this time, all four of them looked at the Vilknimt with fear and anger.
They were backed up by Lorne's team, and Elizabeth's permission to use all necessary force. They did not have the naquadah bomb with them on the planet, but the pilot in the cloaked jumper could bring it down in about five minutes.
"You returned," said the Vilknimt's Great Speaker.
"Yes," said John. "We didn't find what we were looking for."
"No?" The Great Speaker raised an eyebrow. "I expect it's gone now. You should leave," she said.
"We demand recompense," said Teyla.
The Great Speaker turned and walked away from them. "No," she said.
"No‽" the four of them said together.
The Great Speaker turned back to face them. "You failed the test," she said, and disappeared in a flash of white light.
"No. Fucking. Way," said Ronon.
The village in the distance flashed bright enough that everyone shielded their eyes.