MGY-489 was the world that Radek had instantly dubbed "White Star Planet" – confusing Rodney, as the world circled an orange star. Upon finding out MGY was the telegraphic call sign from the Titanic, Rodney instantly got a bad feeling about going there.
"Sinking feeling?" John quipped, earning him an acid glare from the scientist.
The mission went well – at first. Twila, the daughter of one of the elders, was friendly and the feast in their honour was delicious. There was a moment of cultural faux pas when John warned Rodney off of the ceremonial communal cup, but upon learning that it held a citrus-based beverage and that was damaging to their honoured guest, a fresh cup was brought, filled with water, and the ceremony resumed with no hurt feelings on either side.
Teyla asked about how they managed to thrive here, and the elder laughed. The Wraith, they were informed, could not see at night on their planet. So, they did not cull.
That made very little sense to Teyla, since darkness and light did not seem to control the cullings. But Rodney's instruments verified that there was some kind of dampening field around the planet. "Which is why the Jumper was acting so sluggish when we came out of the Gate," Rodney realised.
And that made more sense to Teyla. This dampening field wouldn't allow Wraith electronics to work very well. That alone would hamper the culling. "But why wouldn't they be able to see in the dark..." Ronon mused, curious.
John looked around at the villagers, noting idly that every one of them had eyes the same shade of blue as Rodney's. "Just so long as we can leave," he muttered, and Rodney nodded.
"Oh, we should be able to. It seems to only affect Wraith electronics. Ours are sluggish, but they function."
The elder was speaking again. "We also destroy every agent the Wraith sends to us. Even those among our own people."
"Well," John smiled charmingly. "We're here as friends."
"We shall see," the elder said, sipping his drink.
After a half hour of small talk and Rodney's scanning the field, Teyla realised, "They are stalling us."
"The sun sets!" one of the men at the table called.
"At last!" the elder grinned. "Now, if you are our enemies, the night will reveal it!"
"I don't like the sound of that," John ground out.
"Yeah, well, I don't like the look of this," Rodney snarled. "That dampening field is getting stronger." He looked up, his blue eyes huge. "There's a new, biological component that's starting to manifest as the sun lowers. I really am not liking--"
John's jaw dropped as Rodney's eyes flashed and became an even deeper blue. "Your eyes..."
"My eyes?" Rodney's hand went to his cheek. "What about my--"
"They flashed – changed colour..." He rose to his feet as he saw the villagers' eyes doing the same. "Everyone here has the same colour eyes as you – everyone but the three of us!"
And at that moment, the world flickered and turned completely black.
"Oh, shit," John whispered. "Oh, this isn't good."
"This isn't good" had turned out to be a massive understatement. The biological component turned out to be an optical dampening field, cued to the pigmentation of a person's eyes. Anyone who didn't have blue eyes was blinded from sundown to dawn.
When the villagers realised that Rodney was suddenly the only member of the newcomers that was sighted, they turned on a dime. Instantly the 'honoured guests' were 'Wraith agents' – and treated accordingly.
The four soon found themselves imprisoned. Ronon's growls were somehow comforting to the others as he and John roamed the sides of their prison, feeling for any way out.
There was a moment Rodney later described as "Keystone Cops comes to Pegasus" when the pair of blind men collided.
After a few hours, a guard came in and taunted them. He tried to drag Teyla out by her hair.
But the moment Teyla realised it was not one of the other three that had her, she turned into a wildcat – struggling and slashing. But the guard laughed and merely danced out of the way of the blind woman's arms and the two blind men's unco-ordinated and rage-fueled attacks.
Suddenly, the attacker felt a weight on his back. Releasing Teyla, who stumbled forward and into John, he tried to dislodge what was on there. He succeeded, and Rodney landed hard on his back.
But the scientist had had enough. His teammates had all been blinded and were disoriented. They had been imprisoned for no reason other than they had different eye colours and were at a genetic disadvantage on this world. And this masher had decided to have his way with Teyla while she was blind and confused.
It was too much! Before he could think his way out of it, rage took over and Rodney was on his feet, fighting hand-to-hand with this guard. What he lacked in training and finesse, he made up for in sheer rage.
Trying to get themselves out of the line of fire, John gasped as his hand suddenly vanished off the wall. He'd found the open door! "Rodney!" he bellowed.
"I see it!" Battered but holding his own, he shifted position and sent the guard lunging after him. Stepping back, he did it again. And again. And a third time --
Sending the lecherous guard headfirst into the wall beside the door.
For a long and tense moment, there was only the sound of Rodney's harsh breathing. "I can't... can't believe.... that actually worked!"
"Is he--" Teyla began.
"Out cold," Rodney panted. "Are you okay, Teyla?" She nodded against John's shoulder, and he nodded. "Good. Stay where you are, all of you." He moved over to Ronon. "Hey-- Ronon?"
"You're the one that can see," Ronon said, reaching into his hair and extricating a wicked-looking knife. "You might need this. And I'd feel better if you had it."
Rodney studied his face for a moment, then took the knife and slid it into his belt. "C'mon, let's get you over there and get out of here."
"That's the spirit," John said, smiling and nodding as Rodney guided Ronon to them. "We're not dead yet."
"No, but we're nowhere near the Jumper and freedom, either," Rodney pointed out. "And I'm not sure how to get the three of you there."
"I can help you, there." Twila stepped out of the shadows. "We need to hurry – there isn't much time."
"Time?" John asked.
"My father has sent agents to destroy you. They will be here in very little time. I can get you to safety. I have a pair of carts outside. If you will drive one," she said to Rodney, "we can get to the Ring in very short order. You mentioned you had a ship there--?"
"We do," Rodney said. "We'll leave you in peace if you get us there so we can get home."
She nodded. "And for what it is worth – I am truly sorry for my father's actions."
"Just get us to our ship," Rodney said, watching Twila take Ronon's arm and Ronon taking Teyla's hand. "Guess you're with me," he told John.
"Lucky me," John snorted.
John leaned against the seat of the wagon, smiling as the furious pace of Rodney's ranting washed over him.
Nothing else on this world made sense. But Rodney could always be counted on to rant. This time, he was venting about having to use Ronon's knife to cut the cords on the wagon so the flaps could close and hide John from view. It was the little things he was ranting about, and that made John feel better.
The rant sputtered out and Rodney called, “You okay back there, John?”
“So far,” John called back. “How much farther?”
“Uhm...” Rodney paused, and John could just picture the wheels turning in his mind. “Not too much. I can see the Gate from here – and the Jumper's nearby, right?”
“Right,” John said, “And Teyla and Ronon should be there by now.”
“They are!” Rodney laughed in relief. “I can see Twila's wagon!”
And John let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. He felt the wagon roll to a stop. “...Rodney?”
“We're here.” He groaned his way off the seat. “Three PhD's, and I'm reduced to driving oxen in the dark.” The flaps of the wagon rustled, then Rodney announced, “Going to touch you now.”
John nodded and accepted the touch and the help off the wagon. “This whole world is screwed up!”
“Yes, you've said that....” Rodney sighed. “Remote, please?” John held it out and Rodney pointed it for him. “Go ahead.”
John found and pressed the buttons. The cloak obviously fell and the jumper's hatch lowered, because a second later Rodney called out, “Twila, get them inside!”
John sighed in impatient frustration as he was guided inside the jumper and settled into a seat. Rodney petted his shoulder. “Be right back.” He scowled after Rodney's voice, barely keeping the crack that he was not a puppy to be petted inside.
Then he heard Twila ask, “Will you be returning?”
“And John heard Rodney draw in a deep breath. “Twila – you're good people. But you're xenophobic to the extreme. I mean – for God's sake, we had to sneak here in a pair of ox-carts just to keep your elders from coming at us with pitchforks!”
John snorted. “Hyperbole, Rodney?”
“Not by much, and you know it!”
John chuckled. “And this whole 'blind as a bat at night if you don't have a certain eye colour' thing stinks!”
“John,” Teyla spoke up at last. “It is not these people's doing that their atmosphere holds that peculiar...”
“Anomaly?” Ronon growled, startling them all to silence. “What? I'm blind, not stupid!”
Rodney cleared his throat. “Yeah, well, it's no picnic being the only one of the team that can see right now.” He took a deep breath. “So, sorry, Twila – I doubt we'll be back.”
John heard the hatch close and Rodney's sigh as he sat down to John's left. “She's gone, then?”
“Yeah.” He heard the distinct sound of the jumper's DHD dialing. “She's gone.”
“Look, Rodney,” John sighed. “These last few hours--”
“Oh, shut it. You're just lucky I have blue eyes, and the optical dampening field couldn't work on me.” More beeps. “Atlantis, this is Jumper One.”
“Rodney?” Elizabeth's voice, sounding rather stunned. “Where have you been? You're seven hours overdue!”
“Long story. We'll have to strike this world from the list. Is the shield down?”
“It is now. Come on through.”
John gasped as he felt the jumper move – a little wobbly. After the wrench of disorientation, the jumper sailed into Atlantis.
And John sagged in relief as sight returned to him. A quick glance showed Teyla and Ronon were looking back at him and grinning.
Rodney, visibly battered and dirty, was sitting – trembling – in the pilot's chair, lowered his hands from the controls. “I have never been so happy to be home in all my life” His voice trembled with exhaustion.
John squeezed his shoulder. “You did good, Rodney. Real good.”
And Rodney's tired but happy smile said it all.
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