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Ice World

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Prompt Images: I focused on the second image. Sorry it's not very scary!

Spook Me 2015 - 01    Spook Me 2015 - 02

The cold wind howling across the ice sheet made John shiver despite the arctic gear that they had found in the Ancient lockers on Atlantis. He knew it was psychosomatic because the Ancients had been skilled in creating insulating materials so he couldn't actually feel the cold. Looking out across the surface all he could see through the face mask as far as the horizon in all directions was yet more ice. Just a flat sheet with no mountains or icebergs jutting into the sky. He had liked Antarctica for its high masses of snow, rock and ice but here the only break in the monotony of white was the distant Stargate, and John trudged towards it now. He had set down the jumper half a mile from the gate, not wanting to add the additional weight of the Puddlejumper so close to the Stargate despite the thickness of the ice as he hadn't wanted to tempt fate despite Doctor Wistman's reassurances.

Behind him he could hear the sound of Rodney and the small science contingent setting up an equipment tent just outside the jumper though he wasn't sure what they were hoping to discover on this barren world of ice. In truth, he wasn't even sure why Rodney had jumped at the chance to head out on this particular mission but perhaps the ice on this world was warmer than the frosty atmosphere between Rodney and Jennifer since their break-up. Eventually Rodney would tell him what had gone wrong between them but, until then, he would simply wait.

Thinking of Rodney made him stop and look back, smiling at how easy it was to determine which of the distant white-clad figures was Rodney, mostly because Rodney had a tendency to wave his arms about, especially when annoyed, excited, or agitated. He had a way of illustrating his words with his hands too, and those movements often mesmer-.

The slight shift of the ice beneath him brought his thoughts of Rodney grinding to a temporary halt and he felt the hairs on his neck rising in silent alarm. John stayed perfectly still, barely breathing as he assessed the situation. According to the scanner the ice was at least two to three feet thick in the thinnest sections, and over thirty feet deep in other stretches, so the chances of falling through thin ice was nonexistent. When no other movement stirred beneath his feet, John sighed out his irritation at his own paranoia and carried on moving towards the Stargate.

The scanner had shown no land mass beneath the Stargate, which meant the world had been covered in ice for more than the ten thousand years since the Ancients escaped to Earth - or ascended. It meant they had anticipated this world remain a frozen ball for the foreseeable future as otherwise they would have put in a space gate.

His thoughts returned to Rodney as they always seemed to do these days, recalling those last few days back on Earth before Atlantis headed back to Pegasus. Woolsey had made everyone take a few days off to spend with family and after witnesses Rodney have a semi-meltdown in the main laboratory, he took Rodney with him to see Dave. The visit had gone surprisingly well. Dave found Rodney amusing and interesting and Dave's kids latched onto Rodney like he was some kind of child magnet. John smiled because he had seen that happen several times off-world too, and with Madison, who loved her Uncle Rodney without reservation.

He froze as the ice moved beneath his feet again. Perhaps it wasn't as stable as Wistman believed as the vibration seemed to come from directly below him. Looking down John frowned when he thought he saw a pale light, but it disappeared almost instantly, making him start to doubt himself. he knew this kind of nothingness - this relentless, white expanse of ice - could play tricks on a person's mind.

The Stargate was only twenty feet away now and John could see thinner ice where the DHD would have been. John looked back over his shoulder nervously, calculating the time it would take him to run back to the jumper because his hackles had risen. John had learned long ago not to ignore his sixth sense for danger. He could see cracks in the ice radiating out from where the DHD would once had stood and had a strong feeling he knew where it was now - at the bottom of the ocean beneath the ice. the ice was almost transparent at this point and John squinted as he caught that faint light once more, suddenly aware it was rising from the depths of the water at speed. In a split second decision, he started running away from the Stargate, back towards the jumper, falling to the ice and quickly scrambling back to his feet to keep on running as the ice cracked behind him. ahead he could see the small group of scientists turn as one, frozen in place momentarily before all three came running towards him.

John yelled out, "Go back to the jumper. Get it in the air, Rodney!" The wind in his favor as it carried his voice to them.

He saw the familiar figure of Rodney stop, hesitating momentarily before yelling and heading back to the jumper.

Behind him John could hear the ice cracking, exploding upwards from whatever was chasing him from below, and he stopped sharply as it overtook him, heading towards the jumper. As the jumper lifted, something huge with layers of sharp teeth broke through the ice and snapped at the jumper, swiping at the back and sending it spinning, but it corrected quickly as the massive sea creature disappeared beneath the waves.

"Oh shit," John murmured as he saw the fractures in the ice snaking towards him.

Behind him the ice was no longer stable, and ahead of him it was breaking up. He looked back towards the Stargate just as it toppled over and sank into the water. Moments later he joined it, gloved fingers desperately holding onto the edge of an ice floe while he wondered if the creature was now circling beneath him, ready to surge upwards. The suit might have been good for wearing on the ice but quickly became waterlogged now he was partially submerged. He knew his situation was desperate, that he could not survive long in water this cold, perhaps ten minutes at best - I.

If he lived even that long, he thought as he saw the faint light grow stronger in the depths beneath him.

The whoosh of the drone caught him by surprise and he held on tight as it exploded deep below him, feeling the surge of water almost lift him back out onto the ice.

"John!"

Blinking, he realized the jumper was hovering right above him, and he reached for the loop of rope pulling it under his armpits. Moments later he was in the air, high above the ice and the danger lurking below. He felt the jerking motion of being pulled up. Too weak from cold to grasp the open back, he let them haul him inside and raise the door. Looking through the compartment he could see Rodney in the pilot's seat, gazing frantically over his shoulder.

"The Stargate's gone," John croaked out weakly.

"Tell me something I don't know." Rodney snapped back but John knew it was a defense mechanism out of fear rather than annoyance or arrogance.

"Where are we going?" Wistman asked, voice cracking slightly from shock.

"Safest place I know. Off this planet. The Daedalus is only a day out and we've ample supplies and oxygen to last until then."

Once they were in space high above the ice world, Rodney came back to oversee the medical assistance John needed. His deft fingers shoved John's aside and he swiftly removed John's sodden clothing, barking orders for blankets and berating Johnson.

"Are you trying to kill him?"

John smiled, knowing he was in the safest hands possible under the circumstances as Rodney had read up on hypothermia and its treatment after his own brush with death deep beneath the Lantean ocean. he began to shiver violently but he knew that was a good sign, feeling a tingling in his extremities as his body began to warm.

"OW!" he mumbled as Rodney stabbed him with a hypodermic.

"Antibiotics because who knows what germs are in that alien ocean. I don't want Carson blaming me if you catch pneumonia."

"Aww, Rodney. You really do care," he murmured, wanting to lighten the mood but instead Rodney stared down at him, silent and motionless, face stricken.

Perhaps the freezing water and the fear of imminent death from the creature lurking beneath the ice had shaken the cobwebs from his brain because everything became crystal clear. Rodney's break up, taking Rodney home to meet his family, movie nights, playing games, sharing every breakfast, lunch and dinner. He reached out a hand and Rodney grasped it, and the complaints about his cold fingers barely registered because even as he complained, Rodney was smiling.

END