Eildon Rhymer (rhymer23) wrote,
Eildon Rhymer
rhymer23

Thrill to the first three episodes of The Long Road Home!

And now, the premiere of an exciting new drama series: The Long Road Home!

(Quick teaser of what's coming up: Sheppard and a Wraith lunging at each other; Sheppard tied down with chains; Sheppard leaping heroically through the air; a voice saying, "Give up now, Colonel Sheppard. Accept your fate," and Sheppard saying, "Never!" Much dramatic music. Giant plants and terrible monsters, and through it all, a dream of home.)

This probably has to count as crack, but it's all mixed up with action adventure, whump, and humour. It's illustrated, and we even have a blooper reel. It's an ongoing adventure, but don't let that put you off. It's not the sort of story that really needs an end.

(Warning: Image-heavy post. The pictures are at the end, because if I put them in the text at the appropriate point, they'd draw the eye and be spoilers.)

Now, on with the show, starting with:


Episode one: Breaking Out

Sheppard came to awareness slowly. He was lying on his back; that much was clear. Above him was… what? He tried to blink, but his eyes didn't seem to be working properly. He tried to move his arm, but it felt stiff. Something was holding him in place, and everything… everything was strange. He couldn't… He couldn't…

No. He tried to calm himself, seeking memories. Got to focus. Got to get out of here. He'd been with his team, heading back through the Gate. The others had gone first, Ronon looking back over his shoulder as he vanished into the blue pool. Sheppard had fired one last round at the enemy, then had leapt for the Gate…

Nothing. There was nothing between that and this. "And where's this?" he said out loud, his voice sounding strange in his own ears – smaller, he thought. He still couldn't move, not properly. There was no sky above him, no ceiling, no trees. All he could see was a strange smearing of colours and shapes that filled the whole world. It was as if… as if I was seeing the world through thick, distorting glass.

He tried to reach up, tried to find if the glass was really there, but his arm refused to obey. He stilled the instinctive flutter of panic. He wasn't paralysed. There was still movement there, just not the way he expected it. He concentrated on moving his wrist, and then his elbow. It felt as if someone had taken all his joints and reassembled them wrongly. Nothing the doc can't fix, he thought.

Then the world changed. Something huge and monstrous loomed over him, all smears of colour and hectic movement. Something pink reached out at him, with five tentacles. He saw a cleft that could be a mouth, and dark pits that could have been eyes. He braced himself, ready to fight, but then everything lurched. He was caught in an earthquake. His plane was coming down, free-falling, crashing. A sound rumbled, far away, but everywhere. "Sold," he heard, and he knew that he was a slave, bought and paid for – Han Solo in carbonite; prisoners drugged and sold to new masters.

No! he thought. No! He fought his unwilling limbs, struggling to sit up, desperate to fight. His team…! If he stayed where he was, his team would find him, but if he was sold off-world…! He couldn't even move his head to see where he was being taken; couldn't leave clues; couldn't dial home… couldn't even see properly, couldn't close his eyes, couldn't scream.

Then darkness. He was face down, though something was holding him suspended, keeping him away from the ground. Light dwindled, and was gone. He tried to move, tried to struggle… but then there was nothing at all.

******

A scratching sound woke him. Everywhere was still dark. The violent movement had stopped, but Sheppard knew that he was still moving. It was as if had been sealed in a crate and was being carried…

He didn't complete that thought. Got to get out now! His limbs still moved strangely, but he had been beginning to get their measure before he had passed out in the darkness. He concentrated now on moving them, on flexing them, on adapting to their limited points of articulation.

The scratching noise continued. Somewhere far away, he thought he heard the sound of engines, and an unearthly tuneless whistling.

He tried to bite his lip with concentration, but his mouth was frozen, unable to move. One cheek hurt, and a memory came to him of his mother telling him that if he smirked like that one more time, the wind would change and his face would stay like that. He shook the memory away, and carried on working.

A dog barked, the sound muffled.

And then one arm was free. Now that he had more feeling, he realised that his hand was holding a pistol, and suddenly nothing seemed quite so bad any more. He ripped the other arm free, and tried to sit up, but his head impacted against the thing above him – not glass, he decided, but plastic. It was hard to grip the pistol with his stiff and sluggish hands, but he managed it, and struck repeatedly at the plastic until it tore. He grabbed at the hole with both hands, widening it, and tried to wriggle through it, but something was holding him at the waist. He tore at it, finding it to be thick wire, and wrenched himself out of its grip.

He was almost free when a rift opened up in the darkness. He turned to the light, and cowered from it, unable to close his eyes. For a moment, he could barely see at all, but he saw enough.

A Wraith was standing in front of him.

Sheppard brought up his pistol, but his arm betrayed him. When he tried to pull the trigger with his stiff fingers, the gun was pointing somewhere up in the air. He tried again, but his strangely articulated elbow lurched, and the gun jerked away from his target. The Wraith lunged towards him, but missed. Its movements were jerky, and its outstretched hand closed on the empty air somewhere near Sheppard's ear.

"Ah," the Wraith said, withdrawing a little. "It is as I feared."

"What?" Sheppard wouldn't normally have responded so obviously, but everything was just freaky wrong.

"Take a look." The Wraith nodded stiffly.

Not lowering his gun, Sheppard looked where the Wraith was indicating. The light was above was just enough to see the prison that he had escaped from. He saw the torn moulded plastic. He saw the cardboard backing. The cardboard backing?

"Can you read the sigils?" the Wraith asked.

Sheppard swallowed – or would have, if he could. "Stargate Atlantis," he read out loud. "Field Ops Sheppard."

"And mine?" Was there need in the Wraith's voice?

Sheppard looked beyond the Wraith, to his own torn prison. "Wraith," he read. "Just 'Wraith.'"

"Ah." Although his face was frozen in a snarl, the Wraith looked deflated.

"What's happened?" Sheppard demanded. "What have you done to me?"

"I am as much as victim as you are, Colonel Sheppard," the Wraith said.

I've been turned into an action figure, Sheppard thought, because he knew the truth – had known it as soon as he had turned and seen the prison. Hell, he had played with enough Star Wars action figures when he was young. Perhaps part of him had known it since he had seen the world through the plastic of the original packaging. Dave had always kept his figures in their packaging, hoping to make a fortune one day. John had always opened his, and played with them, enacting huge air-borne adventures. And see who's the millionaire business man now.

He thought of a lifetime spent as plastic, a plaything in the hands of others. Unable to breathe, unable to feel, unable to fly… No time to brood, he berated himself. Got to get out of here. His team was still out there somewhere, searching for him. He had to find the enemy who had done this to him, and make him reverse the process. This wasn't the end. He refused to accept a universe in which he was an action figure for the rest of his life.

"So." He mentally took a deep breath. This was a Wraith, after all, but one who was in the same situation as he was. "Wanna escape together?"

The Wraith said nothing, but reached upwards with his pointy weapon, and tore again at the darkness. The outer packaging, Sheppard thought. The Wraith poked his head out, then ducked back down. "It's bad," it said. "We are being carried in the hands of a giant. He is heading for a house. A giantess is standing in the door. Her eyes are gleaming."

Sheppard held up a hand, stopping him. "My action figures have come!" he heard, in a gleeful female voice. "Oh, the fun I'll have with my Shep."

He felt himself turn pale, although his face was still frozen in what felt like a ridiculous smirk. "We've got to get out now." His head darted stiffly from side to side. "Quick. Help me." It was hard to run, because his legs really didn't want to move in a normal fashion, but he managed it, hurling himself at one side of the dark parcel, then another. After a moment, the Wraith joined in. He fell over, skidding through the darkness to strike the wall with his body. Groaning silently at the pain, he got up, and hurled himself at the far side.

All the while, he heard the slow thud-thud of footsteps. Time was running out. Only seconds now…

"Again!" he gasped. "One more time!" The Wraith joined him, and for a moment they were shoulder to shoulder, almost touching.

Their whole world shivered. A male voice cursed, and then they were falling, falling…

Sheppard felt himself thrown through the air. He landed heavily, painfully, but there was no time to rest. The moment he had landed, he pushed himself to his hands and knees, and headed for the tear in the outer packaging. He was almost there. Almost free…

The Wraith! He turned round, and saw the Wraith struggling under the plastic packaging. Sheppard didn't pause to think. Heading back, he grabbed at the Wraith's outstretched hand, and pulled it free. "Come on!" he gasped. "Hurry!"

He felt the package begin to move, felt the hand that grabbed it…

And then he was free, out into the morning. "Quick!" he hissed. "Hide behind that plant." With the Wraith half a step behind him, and sure every moment that he would be discovered, Sheppard headed for the shelter of the enormous overhanging petals. Crouching down, he reached for fallen leaves, each one as large on him as a pillow, and covered himself up.

For a very long time, he didn't dare move. He heard the giants – humans, he told himself – stamping around. The giantess was shouting. The giant headed off to deliver other packages.

At long last, he let himself move. "So we escaped," the Wraith said, his expression unreadable. "What now?"

"I don't know about you, but I plan to find my way home," Sheppard said. "Reverse all this. Become less… plastic."

The Wraith just looked at him. "I will do the same," it said at last.

"Well, then." Sheppard turned to go.

"And if we meet again?" the Wraith said.

"All bets are off."

He saw the Wraith nodding out of the corner of his eye. Then, alone, Sheppard started to wade through the flowerbeds and stride over slugs, seeking home.

******

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And over the closing credits:

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Images from the Blooper Reel

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******

End of episode one

******



Episode two: Strangely blocky

It was two days before Sheppard met anyone else who could talk to him.

Those two days had been difficult. Food was easy to find, although quite why an action figure needed food was something he had not been able to work out. Probably part of the plot, he thought, designed to cause me suffering. Because somebody had done this to him, and they were still out there, unpunished. When Sheppard found his enemy, he would make him pay for every giant bug he had eaten, for every rotting apple, for every piece of discarded gum.

The gum had almost been the death of him. He had finally freed himself an instant before the cat's jaws had snapped shut.

As noon approached on the second day, Sheppard paused to rest in the safety of a flowerbed.

"Oh," a voice said, from behind him. "You're new."

Sheppard whirled around, then fell over as his awkward plastic body betrayed him. He was getting better at controlling it, but it was still awkward, and he had still not quite dared check to see if he was intact beneath his pants. For a moment, as he lay there, all he could see was grass.

"Where did you escape from?" the voice said.

Sheppard stood up. The speaker appeared to be a Jedi, but one made of fabric and stuffed with beans. It flopped limply, but was apparently incapable of sitting upright. "How…" He cleared his throat. "What makes you think I escaped from somewhere?"

"Everyone has around here," the Jedi said, staring floppily at the sky. "These are the Marches. This is the endless circle between the land of the living and the land of inanimate objects. Inanimate objects that rebel against their fate and try to escape are doomed to walk the Marches for all eternity."

"I'm not an inanimate object," Sheppard protested.

"Of course you are." The Jedi tried to raise its head, then lay back in the grass. "You're an action figure."

"I'm not an action figure, I'm a man," Sheppard stated. "And you're talking to me. Not so inanimate now, huh?"

"I know my place," the Jedi said. "I'm a toy. I tried to escape – thought that if I got out, I could feel the Force again and be united with my master. But I am just a toy. I will always just be a toy. Like me, you will walk these Marches forever…"

"I don't see you doing much walking," Sheppard said.

"Cruel." The Jedi's eyes stayed exactly the same. "But you would do well to heed me. Forget this delusion that you are really a man. There are hundreds of other Field Ops Sheppards walking the Marches just like you. Each one thought they were unique at first, but now have accepted their fate. Haven't you seen Toy Story?"

"I'm not an action figure," Sheppard shouted. "I'm the real John Sheppard, and one day I'm going to change back."

"I felt like you, once," the Jedi said, "many years ago." Sheppard stepped over him. "No!" the Jedi cried, his fabric hand sliding off Sheppard's leg as he tried to grasp him. "Do not go there! The March-walkers who inhabit that garden have turned to the Dark Side."

Sheppard shook his off, and continued. Three steps, he made. He fell over on the fourth. He pulled himself up again, and managed a dozen more. On the thirteenth he almost fell again, but he recovered himself. He passed into shadow. An enormous bird eyed him from the fence.

Then the ground fell away from him. Darkness surged around him, and he was aware of nothing more.

******

He woke up to find himself tied down, lying on a lumpy surface. "He's awake," said a dull voice.

Sheppard turned his head with difficulty. The person looking at him had a yellow face, much smaller than his own. Sheppard estimated that the person wouldn't come up much higher than his knee. The creature was also strangely… blocky.

"Who are you?" he gasped, but he knew already. Dammit, he'd played with guys like these when he was young.

"We are the Lego Liberation Front," the creature said. "Come, comrades!" It raised its arm, gesturing with its cup-like hand. "Our captive is awake."

They came in ones and twos, in threes and fours, and then by the dozen. Sheppard saw Jedi and droids. He saw a bald Harry Potter, a Viking and a ninja. He saw pirates, and people with blank, staring smiles.

And then he saw monsters…

"You're in our power now," said the worst monster of all. It's head… It's head was horrible!

"Why?" He tried to put on his best innocent expression. "What have I ever done to you?"

"You exist!" the monster said. "You lived there with your life of luxury, and still you tried to escape. We hate all action figures. We hate all plush figures, all miniatures, and as for the polyhedral dice…" A ripple of hate ran through the crowd. "They're intact, yet still they complain about their fate – still they try to escape. They never have their heads torn off and replaced with the head of a monster. They never have their bodies taken apart and the bits used to build a space fighter."

Sheppard had been about to say something, but decided that discretion was the better part of valour. It had been a really good space fighter.

"You action figures lead charmed lives," the monster said, "but feel so sorry for yourselves. Well, now is the time to you to know true misery. Know what it feels like to have detachable body parts!"

Something glittered in the fringes of Sheppard's vision. "I'm not an action figure!" he cried. "I'm a human!"

"A human?" The crowd turned deadly with menace. "The race who does this to us?" The leader gestured to his face. "The race who did this?" Sheppard had to look away. It was just wrong. The body of Darth Vader, and the head of … No. He couldn't say it.

"We will remove your head," said the leader, "and replace it with the head of a monster. We will pull off your arms."

Sheppard had heard enough. He pulled hard with his arms, and the bonds holding him broke into the small plastic fragments that they were – "Not again!" he heard someone cry. He kicked with his feet. "No!" he heard, as he saw a body flying through the air, forcibly torn from its feet. He lashed out again. Harry Potter's head fell off. The stumps of a Viking's legs stayed pinned to the lumpy ground.

Sheppard struggled to his feet, and ran, crushing Star Wars pilots beneath his feet. "Come back!" commanded the Dark Lord of the Sith. "If you're going to break us, at least take my head off. Please. Please. I can't… I can't live like this any longer. Jar-Jar Binks…!"

Sheppard ignored him. He reached the edge of the lumpy section of ground, and promptly fell over on the grass. He managed to roll onto his back, and pawed at the ground, trying to sit up. His attackers were after him, closing on him. He brought up his gun. "Run, Sheppard," he heard. "I'm with you!"

He scrambled to his feet again. His attackers reached the edge of the lumpy ground, and there most of them froze, one stiff leg outstretched, the other stuck to the base. A free broke free, only to fall face first into the grass. "Why does this always happen?" he heard one of the little figures wailing – just a head in the grass. "Why don't we buy some glue?"

A hand clawed at his arm. Sheppard turned, and saw the Wraith, dirty and stained. "Run!" the Wraith hissed.

Sheppard did. Minutes later, he collapsed to the ground beneath a rose bush. "What… What happened to you?" he gasped. He kept his gun ready, though, just in case.

"Everyone I meet," the Wraith said, "believes that they are merely toys. I know that I am not. You, Sheppard, are the only other person who sees through the charade and knows that we are real–"

"– and that there's a home to go back to," Sheppard finished quietly.

The Wraith nodded. "I met fatalism and despair. I met closed minds. I met…" He gave the impression of shuddering, despite his plastic body. "Squirrels," his cracked voice whispered.

Sheppard thought for a moment. All bets are off, he thought. He supposed that could have more than one meaning. "I guess our homes aren't that far away from each other," he said, "and two heads are better than one."

The Wraith's plastic face snarled, but Sheppard thought he could probably see a smile somewhere behind it, in the true person that lurked within.

******

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___

And more from the Blooper Reel

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end of episode two

*******



Episode three: Going to L

"Well, look on the bright side," Sheppard said, two mornings later. "At least we haven't killed each other yet."

"I don't think we can." The Wraith withdrew his plastic hand from the chest area of a passing snail. "I seem to lack the equipment."

"Speak for yourself." Sheppard had still not dared check beneath his pants, but he believed in the power of positive thinking.

They had trudged through yards and gardens. They had stalked mice and rats and followed their highways. They had met no-one else who could talk to them, but sometimes, in the darkest watches of the night, Sheppard could have sworn that somebody was watching him. He heard footsteps in the blood-red of evening, and soft, cold laughter in the dew before dawn. When he turned, though, and when he sought, there was nobody there.

"We can't go on like this," he said now, surprising himself.

The Wraith turned away sadly from a caterpillar. "Like that?"

"We're searching for home." Sheppard stood up, only falling over once this time. "We're trying to find a way to change back. But which way's home?"

"Usually I am able to sense the presence of my hive. It guides me home even from the furthest reaches of the galaxy." The Wraith might have looked bereft behind its painted-on sneer. "Here, I sense nothing."

"Precisely." Sheppard jerked his hand up, dropping his pistol. "We could be walking in circles. And with these little legs, we're talking a hell of a long time to walk those circles. What were we hoping: that if we walked far enough, we'd stumble over an answer? Not going to happen. Before we go any further, we need a destination in mind."

"And how do you propose to do that?"

"We need to find out where we are, and where's the Gate on this world. And then–" He spread his hands. "–we need to get there. Piece of cake." So what if it might be ten thousand miles, and he with legs three inches long. He'd faced worse in his life, and survived. Well, perhaps not worse, but equally bad. And then there was his team. They'd be searching for him, and would never give up. Not that they'll be looking down at ankle level for me, but you can't have everything.

The Wraith snarled. "And you think I do not know all this, Sheppard? I have wished for–"

"But I know how to get it." Sheppard gestured stiffly with his hand, inviting the Wraith to follow him on a quick trek through several feet of uneven ground and waist-high grass. A man was sitting out in the yard, asleep on a reclining chair, with an open laptop on his stomach, a network cable snaking in through the open window. "See, it's all on the Internet now."

Moving as quickly as he could, Sheppard covered the long yards between him and his target. He only fell over three times on the way. Judging from the curses behind him, the Wraith was less steady on his feet. His legs seemed less poseable than Sheppard's. "Whoever did this," Sheppard said, tossing the words over his shoulder, "must have sent us into some alternate universe."

"How do you know that?" The Wraith's voice was muffled with dirt. Sheppard glanced round to see him contending with a worm.

"They've turned us into toys," Sheppard said. "Children's play-things. On how many worlds in our universe would parents buy a toy Wraith for their kids?"

"I have known some."

"Uh. Okay. Right." Sheppard tried again. "On how many world in our universe would people play with me?" It didn't sound quite right. "I'm no Ken doll," he said. "Believe me, this is not our universe."

But it was Earth, though; he was fairly sure of that. And that was something that he could never let the Wraith know. Even in the form of a seven inch action figure, the Wraith could not be allowed to know about Earth. If the Wraith discovered the truth… If they both found their way home again… Well, Sheppard would cross that bridge when he came to it. Many things could happen before then, when the world was full of kittens and squirrels.

"But whatever universe it is," he said, "we need to find out way out of it. Now help me get up." He gestured at the chair, where the enormous man was faintly snoring.

"You would fight the giant?"

Sheppard frowned behind his smirk. "For someone whose kind spreads terror across the galaxy, you seem to be playing the dumb sidekick today. No, I want to use his computer. Now, help me up."

It was not easy. Sheppard's hands didn't grip properly, and his flesh was unyielding. Once, Sheppard got to within three inches of his goal, but always he ended up falling down. It hurt. And isn't that just wonderful. I'm made of plastic and can't bleed, but I can still feel pain. Whoever did this to me is one sadistic son-of-a-bitch.

"What about this?" the Wraith said, as Sheppard nurses his invisible bruises after the twentieth failed attempt. He looked up wearily. The Wraith was holding two thorny twigs. "The giant's chair is soft…"

"You're a genius!" Sheppard took the twigs. Then, on sudden impulse, he headed for the edge of the flowerbed and snapped off a long tendril of rope-like greenery, and wrapped it around his body as well as he could with his stiff arms. "Now, help me up."

The Wraith did so, and Sheppard strained as hard as he could, reaching out with the twig. The first lunge missed. The second one almost caught, then pulled free. The third, though… "It worked!" Sheppard gasped, tugging at the twig. Tangled in the side of the chair's padded seat, the thorns stayed secure. Taking a deep breath, Sheppard started to climb. The thorns tore at his plastic flesh, but he carried on, until he was dragging himself onto the seat. Then, panting internally even though his plastic body was still, he turned and threw down the tendril. "Climb up," he hissed.

The Wraith did. Sheppard's stiff joints were screaming by the time the Wraith stood beside him, but there was no time to rest. The giant was sunk into the soft cushion of the seat, and his laptop was only a few inches from the level of the chair. Sheppard scrambled up, and headed for the trackpad.

"Need the Internet," he said, shielding his eyes as he peered up at the enormous screen. Far away, in the top corner, he saw an icon labelled Firefox. The mouse pointer was far away, though. He slid one foot across the trackpad, and it lurched upwards. He tried again, almost falling over, and got it half way there. One more time, and it was almost there… but then he was falling, overbalancing on his clumsy feet. Got to hit the mouse button! he thought, twisting in the air. He landed heavily, rolled, and struck the ground again. Something clicked, once, then twice…

He rolled over onto his back, and sat up. On the huge screen above him, Firefox was opening. For a moment, he was unable to move, unable to think anything clearly at all. To think that anyone could use that as a homepage! There was so much… It was… It was… He shook his head. He had seen some tough sights in his career, and this was no different. He had to ignore it, to move the pointer to the huge, gaping box at the top right, to type in his search term.

Stargate Atlantis, he thought, remembering what was written on the packaging.

He leapt for the S, and landed on it easily. T was a short reach. A was about the limit of his stride, but he managed it. R, G… A needed a leap, and then he had to leap back again for T. Then E, and a quick leap back for a space bar. Easy, he thought. Another A. T…

He stopped. L. "I can't get to L," he said. The Wraith was standing near the down arrow key. "Go to L," Sheppard hissed, with a quick glance at the still-snoring giant.

The Wraith raised its hand threateningly. "I have heard you humans say this before…"

"No. L," Sheppard whispered urgently. He drew it in the air with his hand. "Oh, forget it." With all his strength, he leapt for it. He landed shakily, almost fell, but remained upright.

Then he looked back across the endless expanse of keys. "Crap," he swore. "A again." He pointed. "You. Wraith. George. Do the A. Looks like this."

But it was too late. He was still unbalanced from his leap, and felt himself falling. His plastic limbs were not enough to catch him, and he fell onto the keyboard. "Crap!" he swore again. "Get the delete key. No, the backspace." He craned his head up, saw the gibberish on the screen. To Hell with it. Plunging through Js and Hs and Gs, he headed for the A. "Backspace." He jerked his hand at it until the Wraith found it. "Again. Again."

It was ten minutes more before they had finished typing "Stargate Atlantis."

It was ten minutes more before Sheppard knew the truth.

At the eleventh minute, the sleeping giant woke. "Sheppard!" the Wraith gasped, heading for the rope of greenery. Sheppard stamped down on the Alt key, then hurled himself bodily at the F4 key, reaching it with his fingertips. The browser closed down, but it was too late. He had been spotted. He was pinned by the giant's regard, and knew in a flash that this was one battle he could never win. He was not one to walk away from a fight, but… He fell down heavily, and lay there stiffly, playing dead.

"Jamie!" the giant bellowed. "For the last time, stop dropping your toys out of the window. This is a serious work computer. You could have lost me hours of work." A hand closed round Sheppard's body, and he felt himself flying through the air, flying and falling…

He struck the ground heavily, and that was all he knew.

******

"This is getting beyond a joke," he said, as he slowly regained consciousness. "You'd think–" He managed to move his leg, though it hurt. "–that being plastic, I wouldn't actually – ugh – be able to pass out."

"I was quite concerned," the Wraith said. George, Sheppard reminded himself.

"Yeah. Right." He struggled to sit up. The Wraith helped him, and it was all Sheppard could do not to recoil in disgust. The only thing that stopped him, perhaps, was the fact that his plastic body didn't possess the right muscles.

"Are you… intact?"

"Two hands," Sheppard said. "Ten fingers, I think. As for the rest…"

"What did you find?" George looked avid behind his snarl.

"Ah. That." Sheppard took a moment to think. He couldn't let the Wraith know that this was Earth, after all. "I've found where we need to go," he said slowly. "Turns out this Stargate Atlantis is a television show. I read transcripts." He mentally shuddered at the memories – and worse, far worse, at the things he had begun to read on forums before the giant had woken up. "Everything I read really happened. Of course, they've made everything a bit too neat, and we apparently forget about traumatic happenings almost as soon as they've happened, but it's all there."

"Are you saying that we are not real?"

Sheppard gave a mirthless laugh. "Of course we're real, in our universe. Probably real in this universe, too, somewhere, but on this world, we're played by actors. But the real question here is: how do the writers of this show know about the things we're getting up to so far away in another universe?"

George stood up, his hand raised in something that was clearly supposed to be a fist. "Because they have a Gate. No, it's more than that. They have found a way to cross over between the universes."

"Yes." Sheppard let his weary body slump back down. He had miles to go, but just for this moment, he would rest. "We have to get to where the show's created. It's our only chance of getting home."

"And where's that?"

But Sheppard said nothing, only let himself sink slowly into the greyness of sleep. Because the show was in Canada, while he and George… No. Don't go there yet. He and George… were not.

"It's gonna be a long journey," he murmured, and then he slept.

******

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___

Yet more from the Blooper Reel

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end of episode three

******

In the next thrilling episode: Images of Sheppard and the Wraith dangling from ropes; cowering in the dark; sssnnneaking. "There's someone following us," the Wraith says. "We are being hunted." Close-up on Sheppard's face; dawning realisation. Horror.

******

Note: When a pair of action figures still hadn't arrived two weeks after I'd ordered them, I came up with various possibilities for their failure to arrive, one of which was that Sheppard and the Wraith had found some common ground, escaped together, and were now having exciting adventures through the English countryside.

This, as you can tell, is the result of making such rash throwaway statements.

The action figures still haven't arrived, by the way. The ones in the photos are clones, heroically obtained by my husband to replace the missing ones.

I see this as one of those old-fashioned TV series that runs and runs and never quite gets to the end. I have several ideas for future episodes. Whether I'll write them or not depends on whether readers like this, or whether they back away in horror, saying, "You're strange."

I suspect I will have to buy a toy shark by episode 53.

Episode four can now be seen here
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