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Title: The Cornflower Sky
Author: stella_pegasi
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Pre-Season One Rising
Warnings: None
Het/Slash/Gen: Gen
Word count: 1,470
Disclaimer: I do not own them, I would have treated them better.
Summary:The spartan world of Antarctica is home to Major John Sheppard, and that suits him just fine.
Week 14 Amnesty: prompt - spartan





THE CORNFLOWER SKY

By stella_pegasi

Cornflower blue was the only way to describe the vast sky. The crystal clear air caused everything within visibility to be hyper-focused. The sun, slightly past apogee, caused the snow-covered terrain to sparkle as though dusted with diamonds.

Air Force Major John Sheppard loved Antarctica. Even the cold weather, though he had to admit, he had taken to wearing two sets of thermal underwear and three sets of socks to stay warm. The fact was he'd never liked being cold. However, he loved the solitude.

More than the solitude, however, he loved flying helos. Especially when he could do what he was doing today, fly them alone. He chuckled to himself, so he was back to solitude after all. He banked the brand-new Bell Kiowa to starboard, flying terrain radar as he skimmed across the rocky ridges below.

Stark white snow, specked with dark rock, stretched endlessly before him, the brilliant blue sky touching a horizon that always seemed just out of reach. The spartan landscape matched his demeanor and his life, which he had stripped down to a spartan existence.

Nearly two years had passed since he had disobeyed orders and had accepted the McMurdo posting. He wondered exactly who he thought he was fooling. Himself, maybe; he really didn't have a choice. The brass had made it clear, take the McMurdo posting, or accept discharge from the Air Force. He hadn't hesitated, agreeing to the Antarctic assignment without hesitation; he had nowhere else to go.

He never regretted the choice. Here, he could still fly helos, even managed to train on a couple of aircraft he hadn't been rated on prior to arriving. He'd made a couple of friends from the science expedition; most of the Air Force and Air National Guard members ostracized him because of the events that landed him on McMurdo. He suspected that most of them were on McMurdo for similar reasons; he just decided it wasn't worth asking them.

Sheppard spent his days, when not flying, either doing paperwork, which he was positive was a condition of his punishment, or pouring over maintenance manuals. Knowing more about the crafts he was flying made him a better pilot. At least, being an excellent pilot was one thing they couldn't take from him.

He was taking the Bell Kiowa on a flight test. Two stripped-down Kiowa helicopters had been ferried down in the belly of a C-130 Hercules, destined to be used to transport dignitaries, scientists, and military to a secret Air Force installation, called Base Seven, located about fifty miles from the McMurdo station. Sheppard made the run more times than he could count, especially in the last three to four months. Many rumors surrounded the domed installation; rumors that also included reports of a firefight between some unknown type of fighter jets and alien aircraft about six months before. He'd been off-duty, playing poker on the science base; when he returned to McMurdo, the base had been abuzz with stories of seeing strange aircraft. The base had been placed on lockdown while he was gone, so something had gone on. He laughed at the time, suggesting that maybe Area 51 needed a new place to test the alien aircraft they'd captured.

Sheppard had not been paying much attention to his location; he was the only craft in the air that morning and had carte blanch to fly anywhere. As he put the helo through its paces, he was surprised to find himself near the secret installation. With each successive trip to Base Seven, he had felt more drawn to the location. It was subtle, a feeling of familiarity but never enough truly to resonate with him. He had simply chalked it up to the number of flights he had made there. Yet, today, when he wasn't designated to be there, he had wound up at the dome once again.

Making a tight rotation around the base, he felt that sense of belonging ebbing as he flew away. He was due back to McMurdo by 1100 hours, a two-hour rest period, then he was going to take the other new Kiowa up for its checkout. He had just turned the helo to starboard when he realized he had a problem. He always kept an eye on his gauges and a glance at the rotor engine power gauge showed the short needle, which indicated the main rotor RPM, and the long engine RPM needle were split. They only separated when the engine is no longer driving the rotor. Crap, he thought, he was in autorotation.

Air was no longer flowing down into the rotors; Sheppard immediately lowered the collective pitch, reducing the lift and drag, sending the helo into an immediate descent and producing upward flowing air through the rotors. As he was changing the helo's pitch, he began mentally running through the Kiowa's specs, calculating the air speed he needed to maintain for the best possible landing, taking the temperature, and weather conditions into account. Sheppard eased back on the stick, slowing the helo's airspeed and prepared for a hard landing.

As he closed in on a snow bank, Sheppard sent a mayday to McMurdo, and braced for impact. The helo struck the snow bank, one of the skids striking a rocky outcrop hidden beneath the feathery snow. The Kiowa tipped over on its nose, and tumbled over, then rolled down a slight embankment.

When the helo came to a halt, it was laying on the pilot's side, blades bent. Sheppard's head struck the doorframe as the helo rolled and he was groggy, but managed to unhook the seat harness and climb out the other hatch. Grabbing the skid, he swung himself away from the broken craft. A fire had broken out from a ruptured fuel line and he scrambled, crawling from the helo as quickly as he could. Reaching what he hoped was a safe distance, he collapsed into the snow. As he gazed around him, he saw only spartan landscape in every direction; he rolled onto his back; the last thing he saw before he passed out was the cornflower blue sky.

~ooOoo~


A soft voice roused him, "Major, major wake up; you okay, sir?"

Sheppard opened his eyes long enough to see the face of a young soldier, wearing arctic gear, looking down at him with warm, concerned brown eyes. He nodded that he was fine, then began to drift off again, as he heard the soldier say, "McMurdo, this is Lieutenant Ford from Base Seven; we've found the major."

The next time Sheppard opened his eyes, he was in the infirmary; he had a slight headache but otherwise felt fine. He sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed, intending on getting dressed and leaving; he hated the infirmary. He stopped when he saw Colonel Ryan, McMurdo's commander, heading his way. "Crap," Sheppard whispered, "this can't be good."

"Well, Sheppard, you just managed to tear-up a brand-new helicopter, which doesn't even belong to us; it belongs to Base Seven." Ryan didn't look happy.

Sheppard sighed; he was convinced that Ryan was in command at McMurdo because he'd pissed somebody off, and he didn't take kindly to screw-ups. However, Sheppard knew he hadn't caused the crash, and he wasn't about to allow Ryan to pin it on him.

"With all due respect, colonel, I didn't tear it up; it tore up all by itself. The rotors lost power and went into autorotation; I got her on the ground but a skid caught on a rock under the snow and tipped us over."

Ryan smiled, "Yeah I know. Maintenance recovered the helo; it was mechanical failure, major. The doc says you have a very, very minor concussion; he's going to keep you for a couple more hours then release you to your quarters. Get some rest tonight major, you're cleared for flight duty tomorrow. You'll be transporting some bigwig general to Base Seven tomorrow morning."

~ooOoo~


Two weeks later, Major John Sheppard grabbed his gear and headed to the transport that was taking him to board a C-130. He was on his way to the United States on an adventure, an adventure he had never expected, but General O'Neill had suggested he'd be an idiot if he didn't jump at the opportunity. At least now, he knew why he was so drawn to Base Seven. He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that he had some sort of alien gene that allowed him to activate alien devices.

As he walked up the ramp into the enormous plane, Sheppard wondered if he had made the right choice. Only time would tell, he thought as he settled into one of the canvas harness seats. As the ramp closed, his last memory of McMurdo was the cornflower sky.

The end…

For my dear friend, sherry57, who adores Sheppard, Sheppard Whump, and plane/helicopter/jumpers crashes. Hope you enjoy!


Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
hoktauri
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
Oh, hey, I loved this! I love Sheppard in his solitude, with the cornflower blue sky and the arctic white and the spartan landscape. And yay Ford! Very good bit of character study.
stella_pegasi
Sep. 10th, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. Yeah for Ford! As I told you in my reply to your story, good minds think alike...Ford just seemed to belong here.

Thanks again!
sherry57
Sep. 10th, 2011 07:15 am (UTC)
What a lovely unexpected surprise after my throw away comment about the helicopter circling my area......I love it! The beautiful image of this cornflower blue sky and Sheppards thoughts as does what he loves most...flying!
I love Sheppard in his pilot role...he does it so well and you describe it so well. What a great backstory to his meeting of O'Neill...his attraction to Base Seven....Atlantis calling from the chair maybe!!!
Me and crashes....you know me so well hon!!
I absolutely loved this short and so sweet story hon....thanks for sharing.
sherry57
Sep. 10th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
Forgot to say.....your banner is perfect!!
stella_pegasi
Sep. 10th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks!! As I have said before, it's not the banner...it's the subject matter!!!
sherry57
Sep. 10th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, you're right of course...the helicopter is pretty cool....lol!!
stella_pegasi
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
Ummmm...I was talking about Sheppard!!!!!
sherry57
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
Oh really? He was in it too.....I didn't even notice...lol
stella_pegasi
Sep. 10th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! So glad you enjoyed this; I hadn't planned on doing another story for any of the prompts but you inspired me! LOL..you and your love of crashes....

I'm really happy that you like it!!!

dragonladyk
Sep. 17th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
Excellent! A nice touch about feeling drawn to Base Seven before knowing what it was; it adds dimension to the scene in "Rising." ^^

DragonLady
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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