Originally Posted: Mar. 17th, 2007
Length/Rating: 393 words, PG, Gen
Summary: Written for sga_flashfic Villains challenge.
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It would be easier somehow, if they were classic villains, full of bluff and venom and overacted anger. But they’re not. They’re just… oblivious.
They look like giant zeppelins, half the size of the Daedalus; ramjets with fins, swimming through an ocean of stars. Atlantis sends John’s team out to meet them, uncertain at first if they are friend or foe. Rodney dubs them ‘space whales’ on first look, abruptly rechristened ‘space squid‘ once John sees them move, startled into flight by the puddlejumper’s appearance. They are classified as ‘harmless’ after an hour’s interaction, not a hint of aggression in the rippling membranes and placid eyes.
The pod is graceful, dipping in and out of the upper atmosphere in misty phosphorescent trails, metabolizing the nitrogen and moving on. Elizabeth approves whale watching trips, but limits them to scientific purposes. Seats for ‘assistants’ to the biologists become a hotter commodity than gourmet coffee for about three weeks. Then the handful of squid-whales move on and life gets back to normal.
Five weeks later, as the deep space telemetry picks up the shadows of a second pod, Atlantis learns there weren’t just a handful.
There were thousands.
Tens of thousands.
And if the pods notice Atlantis’s frantic objections as they eat the atmosphere away in lazy gulps, they never show it. Through trial and error Atlantis learns the whales don’t like loud noises, sudden movements, but the puddlejumpers can’t be everywhere and the Daedalus is too busy playing Ark to help.
It’s a slow death and they have time to evacuate long before the planet’s stripped past its balance point. When they go back, to see what scraps the pod has left them, there’s only a mile of gas left. A mix of almost pure oxygen spread so thin that Parrish uses curses John hadn’t heard before, and that’s really the only good note from the trip.
Elizabeth writes the final report for SGC, explaining that they’ve lost the planet not to the Wraith, or Genii, or Asurans… but to random acts of wildlife. It takes her three days to find the right words to link ‘space whales’ and ‘planetary destruction’ without sounding more implausible than normal. Then she notices the biologists’ report has reclassified the whales from ‘harmless’ to ‘mostly harmless’ and gives up the fight. She has a feeling the SGC will sympathize.