I’d Like To Buy A Vowel (Stargate Atlantis)

Originally Posted: Sep. 15th, 2007
Length/Rating: 660 words, PG, Gen
Pairing/Warnings: none
Summary: Gameshows, color theory, and other cultural idiosyncrasies of the Pegasus Galaxy.

“STARGATE ATLANTIS”, “STARGATE SG-1” and other related entities are owned, (TM) and © by MGM TELEVISION and DOUBLE SECRET PRODUCTION in association with GEKKO FILMS and THE SCIFI CHANNEL. All rights reserved. No copyright infringement is intended nor implied.

The world is ending, and he’s run out of words.

Which isn’t his fault, it isn’t even half his fault. If Sheppard hadn’t used ‘grass’ and ‘seaweed’ two turns ago, Rodney would be able to say some version of ‘green’ without the computer muting him. Then maybe they wouldn’t be spending the last hours of their life suffocating in this stupid excuse for an ancient version of hangman.


Which isn’t a color at all, and it takes Rodney a moment to figure out Teyla’s not talking about which buttons to push. Her voice sounds wistful even through the radio’s static and he wonders if her cell is as mind-numbingly bland as the one he’s stuck in. No color but the four buttons (red, yellow, blue, and black) arrayed on a shelf the same featureless beige as the rest of the room. There’s a door with no handle, and five lights over the door; four on, one off; which means there’s just this last game to go. He hopes.

He tries to think of something supportive, some word encompassing ‘don’t give up’ and ‘we’ve been through worse’ and ‘hello, genius here, working on it’, but they’ve already used them up. So he goes back to thinking about turtles, and snakes, and–


They’re down to one-word sentences now, no use in wasting what they might need later. They’ve lost pronouns, names, colors; if they don’t win soon they’ll be down to grunts and Morse code.


And now he’s reminded of the fact they been in here over sixteen hours, and he is so going to kill Ronon when they get out. His last powerbar had been hours ago, but if he could just figure out how to say ‘green’… because the team isn’t stupid. They’d figured out the answers, first as a team, then one by one as they ran out of words, deciphering what buttons to push in the ancients’ game of ‘what comes next’.

They did color theory, then ran the spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared, then played a game of Simon Says that used up enough curse words that Rodney had been reduced to screaming at the console in silent frustration. Every wrong answer reset that level of the game, and if he had to remember one more red-red-blue-black-yellow-blue-blue sequence he was going to start inventing words.

But so far only Rodney has figured out that green follows orange-black-yellow in this version of the game, and it won’t let them move on until everyone answers right. It’s green, not white or red, because they’ve moved onto ‘colors as numbers’ instead of wavelengths or color mixing, and this had to be the stupidest waste of ancient technology he’d ever seen. If they ever got out– when they got out, he was taking the ZPM and nuking the damned Rainbow Temple into radioactive sludge.

Green, green, green. Mold, mildew, grass, trees, they’d used those on earlier games. Absinthe, Elizabeth May, Ireland, Australia’s flag, Dallas Stars’ jerseys… words that wouldn’t mean anything even if he used them. Even lime, and pine, and apple, and envy would mean nothing to Ronon or Teyla. In Pegasus most apples were red, pine trees were called something he couldn’t remember, and the Atlantis mess hadn’t bothered to stock limes because they needed him more than a little zest–


Someone else had figured it out, finally! If only it was Teyla or Ronon, because maybe there was something Pegasus green they hadn’t used yet–


Ding! Ding!

Rodney watched the door slide open with a congratulatory chime and counted to fifty (twice) before he stepped into the next room, with its cheerful holographic recording congratulating them on their success. After sixteen hours of synonyms, and euphemisms, and blind flailing, he’d been saved by a Muppet. (More accurately: Movie Night and Lt. Parkers’ belief that everyone should see The Muppet Movie at least once.)

Some days it just didn’t pay to be a genius.

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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