"Hey Sarge, got another load for ya. Rescue mission - everyone got sprayed with some purple shit." A steaming bag of rags and cloth were thrown in through the doorway.
Sergeant Louis Ward, currently in charge of washing the offworld team uniforms, sighed heavily. "This better not burn me!" he yelled after the rapidly retreating footsteps outside.
He poked it gingerly with the toe of his boot. It was perhaps, not the most normal of responses to a bag of dirty washing but Louis had learnt the hard way not to go straight in with his hands. There had been the time when one set of uniforms had been covered in yellow pollen; he'd been taken to the infirmary after someone heard him screaming from the vivid hallucinations it caused. Major Lorne's team had once dumped their uniforms off covered in a tacky substance, which he had assumed was harmless 'til he woke up the next morning looking like a Smurf with a skin disease. The last bag of washing dumped in his door had caught on fire after being exposed to water - he still hadn't been forgiven for letting Lieutenant Kanan's lucky t-shirt go up in flames.
He continued poking the bag for a few more minutes then flicked an experimental few drops of water at it. It kept steaming but nothing caught fire. He moved closer and upended the bag.
Louis considered it a sad state of affairs that he was no longer allowed to just dump the clothes into the nearest washing machine without touching, smelling or releasing any of its contents. Accidentally put one life signs detector through the wash and suddenly everyone was a critic - still it had gotten him put on kitchen duty for a week. It had been the most boring week of his time on Atlantis so far; nothing had tried to bite him, nothing had poisoned him, burnt him, caused hallucinations, caused itching, caused a blue rash, caused any kind of rash or left him sans memories.
He was supposed to be doing it for a longer period of time but then there was an incident so horrific his replacement actually cried and he got booted straight back to offworld uniform laundry. His superiors claimed it was because he was the only one who could get half the strange stains out of the clothes - Louis reckoned it was because no one else was suicidal enough to take on the job willingly after the crying incident.
Not that he just did the laundry. He spent the rest of his day doing a combination of PT and guard duty - he had even taken part in a few rescue missions (mostly for Colonel Sheppard's team). In a weird way, he did like doing the laundry - when the clothes thrown in your direction could possibly explode it did liven up the morning - though he didn't think anyone truly realised just how often the laundry room came close to going boom on a daily basis. Still, it did seem like a waste. After all, he'd been sent across to another galaxy, away from his wife and kids - just to do some potentially combustible laundry.
Louis knelt down, ignoring the way his knees cracked, and carefully picked through the clothing. It was warm to the touch and half of it was ripped. One of the t-shirts had a large brown stain across the front; it was either shit or blood - Louis hoped it was the former. He separated out the items with the worst stains and dropped them into a nearby tub of hot soapy, vinegary water. He watched the water froth for a minute before he ambled over to the tumble dryer and pulled out the previous load of washing. He hummed to himself as he folded the clean, dry, warm pile of clothing, trying not to inhale too deeply. White vinegar may have been a brilliant stain remover, but sometimes, when he left clothes to soak, the whole room began to smell like the inside of a Fish and Chip shop.
Louis shoved the now folded clothes into Major Lorne's Team laundry bag. He paused in his humming as there was a sudden wet splat from behind. He turned round slowly and stared. One of the jackets had flopped out the tub of water and was very slowly inching its way across the floor. It was being followed by a pair of trousers, although the trousers hadn't managed to get both legs in order and one was still stuck in the tub.
Louis dropped the laundry bag and cleared his throat. The two items of escaping clothes froze, the jacket collar seem to twist round to look at him. Louis took the opportunity to dive across the room and managed to secure a hand on both items of clothing. The jacket and trousers weakly tried to pull away from him before four small beige creatures, which looked almost like hamsters, shot out from inside the clothing and scarpered out the door.
"Bugger!" Louis shot to his feet and tossed the soggy clothing back into the tub before running out the door after the tiny creatures. He tapped his radio as he ran. "Control, this is Sergeant Ward. Be advised four creatures are loose in Atlantis. Small, beige, look like hamsters, most likely came through with the last offworld team, probably hid in someone's pockets. Currently heading towards the Infirmary."
"Copy that Sergeant."
Louis tracked the not-hamsters through the hallway, dodging and weaving past dozy scientists and amused soldiers. Occasionally one of the not-hamsters seemed to drop behind, then another would fall back and nudge it forwards. Had he not been running almost flat out and still be lagging behind four creatures about the same size as the palm of his hand, it would have been cute. The doors to the Infirmary opened up ahead and Louis watched groaning as the four not-hamsters darted inside.
Louis skidded into the Infirmary cursing fluently under his breath. There was no sign of the not-hamsters. There were, however, several people staring at him. Including most of Colonel Sheppard's team.
Sheppard, perched on the end of the second bed, looked faintly amused. McKay was out cold on the first bed with Teyla stood between them. Ronon, in the process of having a head wound stitched, watched him with a grin.
"Is everything alright, Sergeant Ward?" Teyla asked gently.
Louis shook his head and his gaze suddenly fell on a quivering lump next to one of McKay's legs. He moved stealthily towards McKay's bed. If he could just grab those damn things he could throw them at Zoology and get on with his day.
He leant over McKay and stared at the lump beside the unconscious man's leg. "Got you." He moved to grab the tiny creatures but instead suddenly found himself face down on the floor with one arm twisted up his back. It was only then, in a beautiful moment of hindsight, that Louis realised he should've mentioned the creatures prior to pouncing. Everyone knew that following a rescue mission, the teams that were rescued generally tended to be very twitchy about people getting too close and making sudden movements. Even more so with Colonel Sheppard's team as they tended to get captured more often.
"I was after the creatures," Louis ground out. "Four of them escaped from laundry."
He heard the sound of a sheet being pulled back, and a loud frenzied squeaking. His arm was released; Louis rolled over and stood up. "I am very sorry, Sergeant," said Teyla not looking at all repentant.
Ronon, the stitches over his eye still unfinished, held out four squirming not-hamsters to him. Louis sighed. Colonel Sheppard held his hand up to his radio. He paused, his hand hovering in position and glanced across at Teyla. "Who's down in Zoology?"
"Doctor Coutinho's Head of Zoology," said Louis, surreptitiously poking a tender spot on his side. He caught the questioning look on Teyla's face. "You'd be surprised how many little bas – er – creatures slip in with the Laundry."
Sheppard nodded to him and tapped his radio. "Sheppard to Doctor Coutinho, we've got some creatures down in the Infirmary you may be interested in. I'd really appreciate it if you could bring something down here ASAP to hold them in."
"Really? Oh how fascinating! I'll be there right away, Colonel. Try not to kill them in the meantime won't you?"
Stackhouse appeared in the Laundry room just after dinner with a bag of clothes in hand. "Hey Lou," he greeted him cheerfully.
Louis accepted the bag with caution. "What's on it this time?"
"Nothing," Stackhouse grinned. "We walked through a few fields and came home. I even had all my team check their pockets for any little animal friends." He winked. "Heard about your little hamsters yesterday."
"Who hasn't?" Louis muttered darkly.
Stackhouse clapped him on the shoulder. "You're the hamster hero of Zoology."
"They were devil hamsters," said Louis vehemently.
"I once looked after my cousin's hamster," said Stackhouse leaning against the wall. "She'd named it Cuddles. Christ, I'll never forget Cuddles." He shuddered. "It used to arrange its nuts in perfect circles and triangles around its cage."
Louis gave him a sideways look. "You killed it, didn't you."
Stackhouse shook his head. "Nah. Janet brought another hamster to be a friend for Cuddles." He shuddered again. "Cuddles ate it; left the head at one end of the cage, the ass at the other and then died the next day."
Louis stared at him, then shook his head and opened the bag. "You tell me such beautiful stories." A ripe, sweaty stench permeated the air; Louis clamped the bag shut and held it at arms length. "Jesus wept! What the hell were you doing in these?!" He glared at Stackhouse. "You just had to piss on my strawberries, didn't you? Three semi normal loads and your team just has to hand over something that smells like a skunk sprayed and shat on you."
Stackhouse chuckled. "C'mon Lou, it's not that bad."
"Feel free to wash them yourself then," said Louis tossing the bag aside.
"You could just asked to be reassigned somewhere else," Stackhouse suggested, clearly trying not to breathe through his nose. "Probably get Peterson to do it instead."
Louis snorted and shook his head. "What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment. It's a pain the arse, but it's my pain in the arse." He pulled a face. "Besides, I wouldn't trust Peterson with this. He couldn't tie his own shoelaces without a diagram and some instructional videos, let alone work out how the damn washing machine works. We'd be down to loincloths within days."
"Whatever you say, man." Stackhouse clapped him on the shoulder again and left the room laughing.
Louis pulled on a pair of gloves and headed towards the latest bag of washing with more than his usual amount of trepidation. Lieutenant Kanan's team had just come back from the regular trading mission to P3X 492, which in itself wasn't a bad thing. The natives there were welcoming, friendly, and very open to trading for supplies with them. The chosen team would get to stay for three days, enjoy a feast and work out the next trading arrangements. All brilliant. Aside from the bugs.
The lovely planet with its lovely people and lovely food was also home to some of the most indestructible bugs Louis had ever come across. Big and small, P3X 492 had the lot. If he was lucky the clothes would only be infested with lice, if he was unlucky some of their bigger and slightly more poisonous friends would have hitched a ride.
The previous head of laundry before Louis managed to beg a transfer off laundry duty following the return of the P3X 492 trading team. The one before that had suffered an unfortunate accident involving three pairs of trousers, some tree sap and a spork. Personally, Louis had already survived through two occasions of P3X 492 bug related incidents and through process of elimination had learned the best way to cope with the onslaught was a giant vat of chemicals and one of his spare boots.
Louis gingerly tugged the bag over to one of the empty tubs at the back of the room. He filled the tub up half way with the chemical mix the science team had specially created specifically for the lice infested uniforms. It smelt oddly like burning flesh, but nevertheless it killed the lice without dissolving the clothing as well.
Louis peered at the bag and groaned. He could see tiny black specks crawling around the neck of the bag. He sighed and tipped the contents of the bag out and then tossed the bag into the tub as well. Studiously avoiding breathing through his nose, Louis knelt down and began to separate out the clothes in the tub with care. Black specks began to float to the surface and he smiled. Only lice it seemed this time. Someone up there was clearly warming to him.
Naturally, about six seconds after that thought crossed his mind, a cluster of grey things, with at least nine legs each, popped up out of the water, scurrying up and over the sides of the tub, with a few crawling up his gloves and along his sleeves. It was less than half a second after that that Louis leapt up, yelling, swearing a blue streak and frantically swiping at his arms and torso, flicking three bugs onto the floor.
"Die you little bastards, die!" he yelled stamping up and down, hitting furiously at his left arm. There was a sudden release beneath his fist and when he pulled it away strands of red, shell filled goop were stretched between his arm and his fist. He snatched up the spare boot stood on top of the nearest washing machine and started indiscriminately hitting out at the grey bugs around him. It was both disgusting and cathartic when the shell like body of the bug gave way to the pressure and exploded into red goop. "I am the bug king!" he crowed as the final bug died under the force of a military issue boot. "All bugs shall bow before me as I am their Master in Chief - fear me and my fearsome boots!"
"Having fun, Sergeant?" came an amused voice from the doorway.
Louis spun round on his heel, the hand holding his now sticky, gooey boot jubilantly in the air. Major Lorne leant in the doorway, grinning. "Situation's under control, sir," said Louis, feeling his face turning red. "Was there something I can do for you?"
"I heard you shouting from Botany," said Major Lorne, glancing round the room. "I came to check you were okay."
Louis winced, last time he'd been shouting that loudly it was down to hallucinogenic pollen that made him think his mother-in-law was a Wraith. She'd been trying to suck his life whilst simultaneously berating him for being a piss poor husband and father. Then he'd thought the washing machine was trying to attack him and the whole thing had gone downhill from there. "I'm fine, sir. I was just getting a little too enthusiastic."
Major Lorne stared at the red, gooey floor. "P3X 492?"
Louis nodded. A glob of the red goop dropped down from his upheld boot to the floor.
"I'll send someone down to help you clean up," Major Lorne sighed.
Louis scrubbed at the red stains on the floor, scowling and muttering under his breath. Clean up following the previous day's bug massacre had not gone well, for the clothes or the floor. For once it had only been his own uniform that had been wrecked, but he was hoping he could soak the stain out of it.
He sat back on his feet and rubbed his arm. A nice black bruise had come up on his arm where he'd smacked at the bugs; it didn't hurt, but was still sore enough to be annoying. Especially when he scrubbed at the floor. The last bug splat had taken him half an hour to scrub off, not including the ten minute interruption by Doctor Coutinho. The hamsters ("But not actually hamsters, obviously, it's just easier for you to understand.") had tried their own version of The Great Escape. Three of them had gotten out, but one had been caught. According to Doctor Coutinho the other three hamsters had returned for their fallen comrade at which point they were all recaptured. Doctor Coutinho had thought he'd be interested as he was the one who found them in the first place. The good Doctor had then fled shortly afterwards after receiving an urgent message from his department. Louis wondered if it made him a bad person to be both pleased and amused that someone else was suffering through some weird Pegasus related shit for once.
He shook his head and started scrubbing again. He'd almost successfully removed the stain when his radio chirped. He shucked off one of his gloves and tapped his radio. "Sergeant Ward here."
"Sergeant, your presence is required offworld, report to the briefing room."
"Be right there, Ward out." Louis yanked off his other glove and set them on top of the nearest washing machine before walking at speed to the briefing room.
Chuck smiled cheerfully at him as Louis took the stairs in the control room two at a time. "They're waiting for you," he said helpfully.
Louis nodded, took a moment to pull his uniform straight, and hurried into the briefing room. Mr Woolsey and Colonel Sheppard were sat down, waiting for him in silence. "Sirs," Louis acknowledged them. "You wanted to see me?"
"There's been an incident offworld," Woolsey began.
"Louis," Sheppard interrupted impatiently. "I need you geared up and ready to leave ASAP. Some wine was split offworld and the natives aren't impressed."
"Colonel," Woolsey tried, frowning.
"Apparently they'll let my team go if we send someone as a representative to remove the stain," Sheppard continued, ignoring Woolsey. "We've got a very tight window to get back to this place before they consider us forfeit and kill my team. It's a four hour walk from the 'gate and there's no space for a 'jumper."
Louis blinked. "Right, sir." He nodded slowly. "What kind of material is it? It'll affect what I can do."
"It's a goat," said Sheppard. "A blue goat they treat like a god."
Louis tried not to sigh. "You want me to clean a wine stained goat, sir?"
Sheppard nodded. "Can you do it?"
Louis gave up and sighed, his mind ticking over the possible things he could use. "Probably. I'll be ready to go in about ten, fifteen minutes."
"Meet back here. Dismissed."
Louis turned and ran from the briefing room, vaguely registering an argument happening behind him as he went. He tried not to snort; Woolsey should've figured by now that when it came to a threat against his team Colonel Sheppard did not like to waste time. Louis was actually impressed Woolsey had managed to get the discussion moved to the briefing room. Last time Sheppard's team had been in danger a rescue team was arranged via radio alone.
Louis increased his speed and skidded into the laundry room, narrowly avoiding slipping on a soapy bug stain. He was kitted out with all his cleaning supplies and back in the 'gate room within ten minutes. Sheppard was already there waiting for him.
The Stargate burst to life and Sheppard went through. Louis inhaled sharply; hamsters, bugs and blue goats – he bet the SGC laundry crew never had to deal with this shit. "This is going to end well," he muttered darkly to himself as he followed Sheppard through the 'gate.
It was absurdly bright on the planet, and Louis instantly squinted, waiting impatiently for his eyes to adjust.
"C'mon Louis," Sheppard called, already heading into the tree line up ahead. "We have to get there before dark."
"I have to clean it in the dark?" Louis asked speeding up to fall into step beside him.
"No." Sheppard looked distinctly unimpressed. "It has to be cleaned first thing tomorrow; they just want us all in their village for the night beforehand."
"Right, sir," said Louis. "As long as there's a good reason." He pushed aside a large overhanging branch and risked a glance at Sheppard. "Should be easy enough to get the stain out," he offered.
Sheppard nodded and kept walking. His boots clomped through a large patch of mud, flicking it up the backs of his trousers. Louis tried not to wince.
The rest of the journey, through what seemed like a thousand miles worth of forest, was conducted in complete silence. It wasn't a bad thing, necessarily, but Louis was almost relieved when a group of people suddenly appeared on the path in front of them.
"Colonel Sheppard," the man at the front greeted them with a slight bow of his head. He stared at Louis. "Is this your chosen man for the ritual?"
"Yeah. This is Sergeant Ward."
Louis tried for a charming smile. "Pleasure to meet you." The group of natives looked less than impressed. Louis stopped smiling.
"Come with us and you will be reunited with your team," said the man at the front. He gestured to the men beside him and turned on his heel.
Louis glanced across at Sheppard who gave a barely perceptible nod. They followed the group out of the forest and onto a small area of open land filled with several wooden buildings and one made out of something...else. It reminded Louis a little of Atlantis – in design, not in size – the building itself was far and away larger than the smaller wooden constructs surrounding it. They were taken to one of the central buildings, surrounded by various young men holding weaponry. "You have proved yourself honourable by your return," said the leader of the group solemnly. "The cleansing of Turas begins at dawn." Their escorts efficiently stripped them of their weapons and take to take Louis' pack but he held onto it firmly.
"This contains all my cleaning supplies," he said glaring at the man trying to pull it away from him.
"Then it will be returned to you at dawn," said the leader.
"Let it go, Sergeant," said Sheppard evenly.
"Be extremely careful with this," Louis warned before relinquishing his grip on the pack. One of the young men opened the door and stepped back hurriedly. Louis and Sheppard's entourage motioned for them to go inside.
The interior of the room was poorly lit and furnished with two small beds. Teyla and Ronon were near the doorway; Ronon was vibrating with impatience and both were tense. McKay was stood just behind them, clear relief on his face.
"Everybody okay?" Sheppard asked giving his teammates an assessing look.
"We are all fine, Colonel," said Teyla.
"Yeah, it's been just peachy waiting over eight hours for you to get back here," McKay snapped pushing through Ronon and Teyla. "What happened? Did you go via the scenic route?"
"You know me, Rodney," Sheppard replied easily, some of the tension in his stance easing. "I had to show Louis the sights."
Louis tried for another smile as everyone looked at him. Teyla smiled back warmly. "It is good to see you, Sergeant Ward," she said.
"This whole situation is ridiculous," McKay declared, turning his attention back to Sheppard. "That thing rams me and I get the blame because a little wine spills on it in the process? Why didn't you just bring back a 'jumper load of marines and break us out of here?"
"We don't need marines to get us out of here," said Ronon crossing his arms.
Teyla sighed and Louis suddenly got the impression this was not the first time they had had this discussion. "Possible trade with these people and access to the Ancient facility is worth more than yet another violent encounter." She fixed McKay and Ronon with a firm glare. "If this situation can be resolved peacefully it will be far more beneficial to Atlantis in the long term."
"Could've already been home by now," Ronon muttered.
"Oh please," McKay pulled a face. "If we have to clean off a stupid stain we may as well get in the best person for the job. It's not like any of us could've done it. Well, I probably would've been able to given time, but the damn thing hates me anyway so we can all guess how well that would've ended. Especially seeing as if we don't remove the stain they'll kill us all. Unless you meant escaping, which probably would've worked out pretty well although knowing my luck one of us would have been speared by one of the pissed off natives –"
Louis froze. "Kill us all?"
"Look, tomorrow Louis will clean off the goat and then we can all go home."
Louis woke up with a jolt and shot upright. At his sudden movement Ronon snapped awake and Teyla, who was currently on watch, leapt to her feet. Sheppard also stirred, but McKay remained asleep, drooling gently on the jacket he was using as a pillow.
"Sorry," Louis mumbled embarrassed.
They relaxed down again but did not return to sleep. Louis stretched out and winced as several joints popped. He glanced at his watch.
"Time passes quickly on this world," said Teyla softly. "It will be dawn shortly."
"Should've woken me," Sheppard grunted, easing himself up carefully.
"I was just about to."
Louis stood up and yawned. Ronon rolled upright with disgusting ease and patted McKay's shoulder. "McKay. Get up."
McKay made an uncoordinated swipe in Ronon's general direction and grumbled something. Ronon grinned and shook him.
"C'mon Rodney, let's rise and shine," said Sheppard brightly.
"God, I hate you all." The disgruntled scientist opened his eyes and swatted Ronon's hand away. "I'm up, I'm up."
Ronon moved towards the door and listened intently. "Someone's coming."
"Remember plan B," McKay whispered loudly. "If Sergeant...Louis fails miserably we –"
"Get the hell out of dodge," Sheppard finished for him. He gave Louis an encouraging look. "But that won't happen."
A few seconds later the door was flung open and they were escorted out and through the town. Most of the townsfolk were waiting, gathered in a large huddle and staring open mouthed at them all. The huddle parted and Louis ground to a halt. "Permission to complain, sir! That is not a goat!"
"Sure it is," said Sheppard with a winning smile. "It's got two horns, hooves, looks like a goat."
"You think that thing is a goat?!" McKay demanded loudly.
"This is not the time to discuss it," said Teyla her gaze darting from person to person.
The 'goat' was lying unconcerned in the centre of the group of villagers. It did indeed have two curling horns on top of its head, as well as hooves, but the rest of its appearance suggested that at some point someone had wondered what a goat crossed with an angry Rottweiler would look like.
Louis tried to mask his incredulity. "With all due respect, sir, what the hell kind of mutant goats did you grow up around?"
A middle-aged man stepped into the centre of the group, and bow reverently to the goat before spreading his arms. "My people! Today's dawn marks of the cleansing of Turas by those that defiled him. Today Turas will decide if their slate shall be wiped clean and they will become trusted allies, or whether they are to be permanently defiled for their desecration. The one called 'Sergeant Ward' has been brought forth to cleanse the stain from Turas."
Louis hated dogs. He had done right from being small. He'd hated the wild rabid dogs that roamed the area of Kosovo he'd been based at. He'd even hated Frank, the stupid lolloping Alsatian at RAF Lossiemouth, who was the size of a small horse and liked to jump on people. Rationally he tried to convince himself it wasn't actually a dog, but couldn't reconcile with it in the face of, what was essentially a blue Rottweiler with horns and hooves.
Louis snapped out of his dark, uncharitable thoughts as his pack was thrust at him by an eager young village boy.
"Sergeant Ward," the village Elder intoned. "You may now proceed with the cleansing of Turas."
Louis accepted his pack, straightened his shoulders and tried to look as non-threatening as possible as he slowly approached Turas. The crowd had fallen silent and the village Elder had melted away into the throng of people. "Nice Turas," he murmured as he neared. "Nice Turas. Easy does it, lad."
Turas stared at him. Louis froze. Turas lazily licked its nose and laid its head down. Louis exhaled slowly and crept further forward. Turas didn't react as Louis knelt beside it, gently lowering his pack to the floor. Up close Louis could see the large purple stain running down the hind leg of the creature. He reached out with care and gently touched the stain. Turas continued to ignore him as he examined the stain.
Louis rose to his feet. "I'll need a bucket of water," he announced to the crowd. He saw some of the crowd nod approvingly and within minutes a bucket of steaming hot water was set at his feet. Louis pulled out the cleaning supplies from his pack and a cloth.
It was agonisingly slow going removing the stain. Initially at each rub Louis fully expected Turas the mutant goat to turn round and eat his face, but then after a while Louis became genuinely concerned the bugger had died on him. He kept his head down and kept gently rubbing at the stain praying that the bastard thing was still alive. If they were ready to kill AR-1 over a simple wine stain, God only knew what fresh hell they would have planned for the unlucky sod that actually managed to kill it.
Louis inspected his work, then pushed himself to his feet and dropped the cloth in the bucket. "It's done," he said.
The village Elder strode out from the crowd, bowed respectfully to Turas, and inspected Louis' handiwork. "Turas has been cleansed!" he proclaimed joyfully.
Turas rose to its feet and then carefully urinated on Louis' leg. There was an audible gasp from the crowd. The Elder silenced them with a look and motioned for Sheppard's team to be brought forward. "You have proven yourselves honourable by atoning for your desecration," he told them, his gaze flickering between them and Louis. "We may now discuss trade between our peoples."
"That is most generous indeed," said Teyla respectfully. "But my team and I must decline and return at a later date. We have duties on our homeworld that require our attention."
"Could you not stay a little longer? Some of my people would very much like to talk with Sergeant Ward."
"No, we have to go," said Sheppard firmly.
The Elder nodded. "Fine. Return at the end of the next cycle and we shall discuss a trade agreement." He turned to the nearest group of men. "Bring their belongings. Our guests are returning home."
Louis shouldered his pack and tried to ignore the strange looks the villagers were giving him. Instead he watched as Sheppard's team checked over their gear, with McKay lovingly tapping out commands on his tablet and Ronon secreting knives about his person.
Ronon took point, Louis brought up the rear and everybody started walking. By the time they reached the Stargate four hours later, Louis wanted to strangle McKay with his urine soaked trousers. He was imagining the squeaky noises of outrage the scientist would make with mutant goat piss shoved in his face as Teyla dialled the 'gate. He watched them disappear through one by one until it was just himself and Sheppard left to pass through.
Of course that was when he felt the sharp pinch of a dart sinking into his neck. He collapsed backwards, away from the open wormhole, as Sheppard passed through. He landed in a sticky patch of mud. "Oh bugger. That's gonna stain," he slurred as the world spiralled away into darkness.
Louis was not a happy bunny. He'd woken up back at the village, in a far cushier room than before, but still under guard and with a thumping headache. The Elder had been in, bowing every so often, to explain how being pissed on had made him a holy figure. Apparently it was an honour to get to feel the warm trail of smelly urine travel down his leg. Since the Elder had left Louis had been left to his own devices, which meant he'd been pacing for about an hour wishing for clean trousers.
He stopped pacing as the door opened and a very pretty young woman stepped into the room with a shy smile. "It is an honour to meet you, Sergeant Ward," she said. "My name is Lynea."
"Are you going to let me go?" Louis asked, crossing his arms.
"Sergeant Ward, do you not know of the honour you have been given?" Lynea asked, her eyes wide and shining. "Turas has marked you – you belong here now." She crossed the room and stood in front of him, smiling. "You will be the most revered man in our society." She trailed a hand down his arm. "The rewards will be immense."
Louis stepped back and held up his hands. "Listen, I'm all for being respected and -" he swallowed, "- revered as much as the next man. But I have a family and responsibilities."
"Would your family not be proud to learn of what you have become?" Lynea asked holding out a hand to him.
"I'm pretty sure my wife would laugh in my face," said Louis. "And the military have rules about deification." There actually were genuine rules against declaring yourself God on alien planets. Accidentally or not. "It's not looked favourably upon."
"Your wife clearly does not deserve you," Lynea purred winding her arms around his neck, "And the rules of your military do not apply here."
Louis smiled nervously and gently pushed her off him. "No, I love my wife very much, and I know her well enough to know that if I stay here she will hunt me down and tear off parts of me I would very much like to keep. And if she's really pissed she'll bring her mother for back-up which will just complete my own private circle of hell." He stepped away and stopped smiling. "I would very much like to go home to my family, and failing that, I would like to go back to my washing machines."
Lynea frowned and backed away. "You will learn to love it here Sergeant," she said sadly. "Turas has willed it to be so." She left the room.
"Turas can stick it up his hoop!" Louis yelled after her, moving towards the open doorway.
There was a muffled scream. Louis peered outside and realised his guards were gone. He looked down and saw a pair of feet disappearing round the corner. Louis cautiously looked round and gave a relieved grin as he saw Ronon none too gently dumping one of the guards out of sight. Sheppard and Teyla came up behind him.
"Ready to head home, Louis?" Sheppard asked with a grin.
Louis thought about his urine soaked trousers and his washing machines back on Atlantis. "Yes, sir."
"Good, because this is the part where we run."
"So far it's been a pretty good week," said Louis leaning back in the cushy chair and stretching his legs out. "Some hamsters and some bugs. Getting pimped out by my boss to clean a mutant goat. Pretty average."
The new base shrink nodded her head and smiled. "A vast improvement on last week, you would say?" She paused and raised her eyebrows. "Even though you were rescued from captivity only yesterday?"
"They wanted to treat me like a god; it was just a matter of waiting to be rescued, really. I've had worse parent-teacher conferences." Louis tried not to shuffle position again. He wasn't a massive fan of his sessions with the new and kindly Doctor "Call me Gale" Edwards. They'd started up following his very first encounter with a hallucinogenic substance and Doctor Edwards had considered it an excellent idea that the sessions continue. Judging from the grumbles heard in the Barracks, he wasn't the only one she'd managed to get into regular sessions.
"Is there anything else you'd like to discuss with me?" Doctor Edwards asked, pushing her glasses further up on her nose. "You mentioned you hadn't had a letter from home recently in our last session, is that still the case?"
"No, the missus sent one with the last databurst," said Louis crossing his legs. "Apparently her sister's dropped another sprog, and she got roped in to help. She just didn't have time to write out a letter last time."
"Does it worry you?"
"What? That my sister-in-law's had yet another kid?" Louis shrugged. "It just means there'll be a baby brother for little Beelzebub and Lucifer to turn to the dark side."
"Peterson to Sergeant Ward."
Louis started and sat up straighter. "Excuse me," he said to Doctor Edwards before tapping his radio. "What is it, Peterson?"
"Sir, I think you need to get down here. I've got a problem."
"Roger that, I'll be there in a minute." Louis tried to look vaguely apologetic as he turned back to face Doctor Edwards. "Sorry, Doctor. There's an emergency down in Laundry I have to go sort."
Doctor Edwards pursed her lips disapprovingly. "Sergeant Ward, surely there is someone else who can deal with it. You've been called away from the last four sessions due to some emergency in the laundry room. Don't think I don't know what you're doing."
Louis rose to his feet. "I'm sorry, Doctor, truly I am. But the laundry waits for no man." He shook his head sadly.
"Fine, I'll schedule you in for another session in two weeks," Doctor Edwards sighed. She gave him a penetrating stare. "And if some 'emergency' happens to require your attention during that session, be advised I will bring up the matter with Colonel Sheppard to check the legitimacy of the situation."
Louis nodded. "See you in two weeks then, Doctor." He hurried from the room and sighed in relief as the door closed behind him. He walked quickly to the nearest transporter and then down the hallway to the laundry room.
Peterson was waiting inside, miserably scrubbing at his hands. Louis paused in the doorway. "Oh, I see the problem." He bit his cheek and tried not to laugh as he approached the miserable man.
"There was something on the uniforms, sir," said Peterson. His shoulders slumped and he glared mutinously at the washing tumbling out the bag on the floor. "It won't come off!"
Louis stared between the bag on the floor and Peterson's bright pink hands. There were even hot pink smudges on the man's face. Louis slung his arm round Peterson's shoulders. "This is why you never go in hands first," he admonished, desperately trying not to laugh. "If it isn't coming off you need to get on down to the quacks. I'll clear up here." He clapped the young man on the shoulder before moving his arm away. "You should be grateful," he told him as Peterson began to slope off towards the door. "The last man who went straight in with his hands lost a finger."