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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Just Chillin' [Fin]


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It's strange the things that pass through your mind when you let it drift. Laying there, my skin welded to the frozen floor, I feel a sudden almost irrational surge of love for my boring military issue skivvies.

I had expected to be stripped of my boots – an easy way to stop escape attempts considering the miles of frigid wasteland surrounding us. My vest was also a given after they found the equipment it contained in its many pockets. My jacket, although I had hoped not, was next removed. Then, with a sharp jab of a spear it was made obvious the trousers were to go.

They say clothes make the man and standing there shivering in t-shirt, socks and boxers, I decided that all they make the man is cold.

How wrong I'd fucking been.

The sluggishly bleeding wounds are evidence of my battle to retain some dignity – a battle I lost in the face of overwhelming odds – and now I know what true cold is.

The desert had been a pleasure palace in comparison. There, I had layers of cloth, canteens, and hallucinations to keep me company at least. The heat had slowly seeped into my body and the creeping enemy, death, although not welcome, wasn't entirely unpleasant either.

Now death races to redress its failure the last time.

Snap frozen like a packet of peas, I feel my breath turning to ice before it left my mouth. With no energy left to shiver, I waited to die.

Or to be rescued - whichever comes first, I wish it would hurry, because this time, dying of hypothermia is anything but painless.

The door is opening. My team? I can't open my eyes. I think they're frozen shut.

What the hell?

Maybe they're trying to warm me up, but if I could speak I'd tell them it isn't working. Instead of rubbing me, just get me the fuck out of here!

Oh shit! Being turned, my skin gets left behind on the stone floor. And, fuck but that shit hurts.

Then red hot pain as something is inserted into each of the spear wounds – small, hard objects that stretch the cuts and left me gasping.

More rubbing, in every part - my legs, my stomach, my chest, my groin, even my face, and I shut my eyes against the smell of whatever they are smearing me with. I can't fight them, my limbs too stiff and cold to move.

Dropped to the floor again, so that the other side of my body can attach itself to the stone, I have no way to shift and nowhere to go if I could. I'm only thankful they didn't leave me belly down.

The door closes and I'm alone again.

So cold.

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Slow Roasted Huf

1 large animal – best made with huf, but any red blooded creature can be substituted.

2 large bunches of stapril leaves

1 hand of petry

3 juy cloves, chopped.

Pinch of slin

Kel to taste (optional)

Place stapril leaves in large dish and place in oven with water to cover. Cook for 10 kols and leave to cool.

Pluck animal, pierce several holes in skin, then freeze as rapidly as possible. When almost completely frozen rub with petry. Insert juy pieces into holes.

Leave animal in freezer for at least 20 rets.

Before completely frozen, remove from freezer, cut into manageable pieces and place in prepared dish.

Sprinkle with slin and kel if desired.

Cook slowly until golden brown and juices run clear.

Note: It has been said that chopping up the animal while still alive is overly cruel, however the freezing numbs it sufficiently to ensure it feels no pain. This humane method of killing ensures the flesh is as tender and moist as possible. Comparison of traditional cooking methods and 'new age' ones show the old-fashioned ways of our grandmothers as still the best.

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He was huddled on his side in the corner of the large room and curled up into as small a space as possible for a man of his size.

I thought he was dead.

Rea stayed at the door, keeping the locals back, while Hadley and I hurried to check on the Lieutenant.

His skin was grey, bordering on blue, and he wasn’t moving, not even reacting when we knelt beside him. I put my fingers on the carotid artery in his neck and waited, hoping. It seemed minutes before I felt a faint and very slow throb.

Hadley was watching me anxiously and I nodded. "He's alive."

“Vinny?” Hadley's fear showed in his voice as he put a hand on Wright's rigid shoulder. “He’s freezing.”

He began to turn him and I shouted, knowing I had to stop him.

"No!" He paused, looking at me in shock and I hurried on. "Don't move him." I pointed to his side and legs where his skin was a raw red color. "The cold is burning him." Already I could feel the chill through the cloth of my uniform. "Don't let any more of his skin touch the floor than it already has." Pulling my pack from my back, I began removing my sleeping bag and unfurling it, laying it on the floor as near to Lieutenant Wright as I could. "We have to be very careful and move him as gently as possible."

I stood, knowing we had to move the him off the freezing floor as quickly as possible, but also knowing the risks of moving a person with severe hypothermia. Even the slightest movement could stop his already stressed heart.

A flash of light accompanied the sound of a double zat discharge and I moved rapidly to the doorway, my weapon at the ready.


"They attempted to advance on us, Dana. I dissuaded them. I don't think they'll do so again."

The body lying in the hallway, it's still form was evidence of my teammate's rather drastic method of persuasion. I felt no inclination to criticize.

We had all seen the kitchen.

And the chopping board.

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I'm warm. That's the first thing I notice, then the dull ache of numbed injuries.


This time, for a change, I actually remember why I'm lying flat on my back on this hard surface.

Damn natives tried to turn me into a fuckin' ice sculpture.

I open my eyes, not able to do more, hoping against hope that I'm not still in that dungeon and that they haven't just decided to turn on the furnace.

A masked face looks down at me and I blink.

Definitely not one of the locals.

It's Doc Fraiser and her mouth is moving but I can't hear anything as I drift away.

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The first few days pass in a blur of soft voices and quiet footsteps. I'm cocooned, not just in blankets but in the nurses' professional concern. I think I scared them this time and I also think I know why. I'm a graduate of the SERE wilderness survival training.

I know I'm lucky to be alive.

Warm air wafts around me, soothing my burning skin, while machines chug and beep and needles pull gently at my veins.

And I coast through the days, gradually warming up.

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My first visitors, other than Janet and her staff, creep timidly into the room. I manage a faint welcome and reach for the water to wet my dry throat, only to have it held so I can drink. I nod my thanks to Mat and rest my head back on the pillow after a few sips, already tired, the multitude of healing cuts covering my body sending messages of protest at even the smallest movement.

"You're looking better."

I didn't doubt it, so I smile. "Thanks to you guys. Fuckin' saved by the skin of my teeth this time."

Left a great deal of said skin back on that planet – fortunately only a thin layer, but the healing spots were as itchy as hell.

"You gave us quite a scare."

Mat has moved around the side of the bed and I watch as he peers at all the equipment still attached to me, his head cocked to one side as he looks at the various readouts. Goodness knows what he expects to learn, and he obviously comes to the same conclusion I did days ago – that most of them are just there to look impressive – because he soon walks back to stand next to Major Hadley.

He's staring at me now, looking me up and down as if I'm one of his damn toys.

"What?" I admit it comes out a little sharper than I intended.

He gives an affronted sigh. "No need to get huffy, Vin."

For some reason my team seems to find this extremely amusing, even Hadley gives a quickly stifled snigger.

I can't muster the energy to protest or to even keep my eyes open to glare at them.

There are some muttered admonishments and then Eckhart's voice comes from close to my ear as if she is bending near to me.

"We'll come back tomorrow, Vinny." She drops her voice to a whisper and I feel her breath flutter against my cheek. "I always thought you were good enough to eat."

Totally confused, I snuggle back under the covers, relishing the warmth.

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Far too long after being rescued, I’m finally out of the infirmary, if only managing to reach the privacy of my quarters. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the medical staff, and their professionalism can't be faulted, but you’re left with very little dignity after an extended stay in their domain.

Thawing me out meant a gradual increase in temperature and complete isolation. My body had skin to replace and infection was a very real possibility. Leaving so much of it behind on the cell floor hadn't been my choice, but then these situations rarely are.

So stripped down to nothing but a light covering I lay for days, touched only by sterile instruments and gloves and exposed to no one. Thank goodness I had no idea what was going on for most of that time. The inactivity would have driven me to distraction.

After almost two weeks in isolation and another few days in a small room off the main infirmary, my ordinary and very plain personal quarters have suddenly taken on the appearance of an exotic resort. Even the bright yellow covers of the ‘National Geographic’ issues on my bookshelf beckon to me in a way they haven’t since I was nine and enthralled by the photos of half naked native women. Color, there’s fuckin' color! No more sterile white or infirmary grey.

I can’t wait to get outside, take a walk, jump in my truck and enjoy the sounds and smells of the city beyond the confines of the Mountain. Hell, I may even be persuaded that a trip to the mall is fun, but unfortunately it will be a while before I’m let out into the big wide world. Janet has made it pretty clear that I need to be careful exposing myself to anything that may cut or otherwise damage my patches of delicate new skin.

So lifting my shirt and poking at my side probably isn’t a good idea?

Hearing a knock, I hurriedly pull my shirt back down and breathe a sigh of relief when I open the door to find a smiling team instead of a scary doctor. It isn’t long before they’re lounging about the room chattering about how good it is to see me and how well I’m looking. Rea grabs a pack of cards from my desk and before I know it we’re playing a lively game of poker, using matches Dana had in her pocket as chips.

Unfortunately the excitement of my first day out of the infirmary soon catches up with me and it isn’t even an hour after they entered that, despite my half-hearted protests, my teammates are leaving again, with orders to ‘get some rest’. Like a good boy, I obey them and it’s nighty-night for Vinny.

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Maybe it was the unusual time I’d gone to sleep, or maybe it’s just restlessness, but I wake in the early morning hours when even life in a mountain slows into natural sleep patterns. Sweat drips into my eyes and I realize I can’t fool myself with excuses – it wasn’t anything but fear that woke me. Yes, I can admit to being fuckin' afraid when the lights are out, I’m alone and it’s completely dark.

Like it had been for so long before I was rescued.

So, instead of attempting to go back to sleep, I sneak out, shuffling my weary bones forward along the corridor and toward the elevator, heading for the mess hall. Surely a trip of only three levels won’t hurt. Except I miss my stop, realizing I’ve pressed the wrong button only as the door opens on 21.


For crying out fucking loud, that’s the last place I want to be! I’ve just gotten out of Janet’s clutches and I really don’t want to land in them again so soon. Frantic button pushing results in the doors closing again and I’m heading up, stress causing my breathing to come faster and faster until I feel as if I’m running. Tumbling out at the first opportunity, I stare down one of those generic corridors the SGC seems to breed, grasping for anything recognizable. It’s long moments before I spot the huge 18 painted on the nearest wall. There, just a few doors down, is the sanctuary of Hadley's office where I can recoup my shattered nerves.

Sure enough, the door is unlocked. Switching on the light, the familiar clutter beckons me in. I turn, letting the mundane details of random books and papers and objects haphazardly scattered around overtake the disquiet I’m trying too hard to ignore. Soon I can breathe normally again and I feel just a tiny bit stupid.

His computer is beeping quietly to itself, a message showing about restarting for changes to take effect. Another one of those odd facts I seem to remember for no good reason pops into my head and I realize it’s the night we are always asked to switch everything off by the ass-hat nerds. Maybe I can prevent Hadley from getting one of those irate emails from the IT guys. I make my way around his desk and reach over, knocking some photos as I do so. It only takes a second to turn off the PC and as I wait for the screen to darken I look down.

That’s odd. Picking up the top photo of the pile, I peer at it, holding it more toward the light. It’s a kitchen, with ovens and large copper pots and strings of stuff hanging from ceiling hooks, like one of those country kitchens you see in magazines about France. I idly wonder why the Major has such pictures on his desk, but then my attention is drawn to the next photo and I poke it with a suddenly shaking finger as if it is some strange beast.

It may not bite, but it can hurt none the less, and I flop into the chair, unable to look away. Despite my better judgment, I tentatively fan the pictures out across the surface, seeing each with more clarity as my eyes skitter between them.

The evidence is there, plain to see. Pieces of people, an arm with hand still attached, a thigh covered in some sort of leaves, and most damning of all, a child’s torso, its surface gouged and filled with pieces of the same alien plant that hangs from the ceiling in thick bunches.

The designation of the planet is marked at the top of each picture – one I am intimately familiar with – and I swallow down the hot bile that rises in my throat.

Leaving the office as I found it, with only a silenced computer to show anyone has entered it, I stumble back to my quarters to lie awake, unable to close my eyes for fear of finding myself joining those other poor souls at the dinner table. Soft whispers of machinery sound eerily like the ones I heard in what I now realize wasn’t a cell but a freezer, and the slow drip I usually ignore from the bathroom faucet echoes as it falls, like my tears of pain frozen before they hit the floor.

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When the sounds of night change to the sounds of day I rise, wondering as I walk the few steps into the tiny bathroom for the warmest shower my new pink skin can stand, how my teammates could joke after what they had seen. Long minutes later I lean against the shower wall, shivering in the heat, unable to warm myself, and I sink slowly down while water pools, puddling around my legs.

If it wasn’t for the insistent beep of the phone I might be there still, but I manage to find a towel amongst the haze and, still shivering, squelch through the door and across the room to the phone beside my bed in time to answer it before the caller gives up.

It’s Hammond, wanting me, if I’m feeling up to it, to sit in on a briefing with SG-9. They’re going back to one of the planets SG-4 visited a few months ago to broker a treaty and apparently my advice on the inhabitants would be welcome. Naturally, I agree and am soon dressed and walking to the elevator as if nothing was ever wrong – as if I haven’t spent the night in a sleepless funk and the morning running out the entire base's hot water supply.

Opening the briefing room door, I smile and offer up a snarky comment, nodding at the rest of my team and the others already seated at the table.

It’s what I do. It’s what we all do. It’s our job.

Life goes on.

Best not to dwell.

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