by Domenika Marzione

"How long until dawn you think?" Suarez asks. "We were here for at least ten hours of sunlight."

It has been too dark to see for the last seven hours, Lorne estimates from the corner of the cave where he is nominally sleeping. He doesn't need to look at the time; he knows when they set watches and if Suarez is still on, then it has to be less than five hours since they first stumbled into the cave.

"Maybe six hours," Ronon replies, his voice a low rumble. "Hard to tell the first night."

Suarez grunts something like agreement and they fall quiet again. Not a whole lot to talk about in the middle of the night, at least nothing that's not rehashing events already pulped by hours of the same.

Lorne thinks he dozes; the next time he bothers to listen in to the murmured conversation at the mouth of the cave, it's Reletti and Yoni. He can't make out most of what they're saying, but he can tell by the tone that they both think it's amusing.

Like everyone else who has spent more than a few months in the military, Lorne can sleep almost anywhere. The back of a C-130, rocky ground, prison cells, or wherever else he happens to be. Caves are no exception, but it's not the environment that is keeping him from anything approaching continuous rest tonight. It's his mind's inability to turn itself off, choosing instead to endlessly review the decisions he's made in the last day.

His team won't second-guess his choices, at least not out loud, but he can always tell what they think regardless and none of them have that wary edge that comes when they follow his orders out of obedience and not agreement. Ronon and Teyla have no obligation to even pretend to obedience, but they have gone along without complaint. Nobody here thinks he's fucking this up. Yet. But populist approval doesn't mean he's doing the right thing and so Lorne still wonders as he plans for what they'll do when day breaks.

They need to get back to the stargate; that much is clear. Finding the stargate means that they can report in, get reinforcements, and (perhaps most importantly) get their bearings. Their radios don't work, their PDAs don't work, and the cloudy, featureless day combined with a moonless night has made negotiating the endless forest a challenge that has so far more than confounded their combined experience. Reletti's frustration while on point had the others holding their jibes and even Ronon got turned around more than once. Sheppard and McKay could be right next to them and they'd be hard-pressed to find them.

Lorne knows that Ronon will want to continue the search for them once day comes. But as much as he, too, desperately wants to find Sheppard and McKay and knows that every hour wasted makes that job all the less likely to end successfully, it's a task that would be easier with seventy instead of seven and he fears that they'll need the additional firepower. For rescue or retaliation, he's not yet sure.

It's neither the Wraith nor the Genii, not unless either have taken to methods that are completely outside their normal routines. Which is both a blessing and a curse because while they know how bad the Wraith and the Genii can be, at least there is some advantage to the knowledge. Instead, what they have are a meager collection of clues and half-formed guesses and very little way to act upon them.

Reletti and Yoni have fallen quiet again and Lorne forces himself to clear his mind and sleep. He doesn't know when -- or where -- tomorrow will end.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

back to the yearly index | back to the main SGA page

26 December, 2006