SUMMARY: Sheppard never thought he’d make such a stupid rookie mistake.
John Sheppard cursed his stupidity even as he took a step toward the downed Wraith. He’d been in the Pegasus Galaxy long enough to know that it took a lot more than a hail of P-90 weapon fire to kill a Wraith outright.
He saw the dying Wraith’s hand raise, hover for just a moment over the self-destruct button on its chest as though the creature was undecided of its fate. Sheppard didn’t bother raising his weapon again. Pivoting on his heel, he turned and ran.
The blast slammed into him, lifting him high into the air, and for a dizzying moment, the sky and earth changed places. He somersaulted over and over, vaguely aware of a fiery burn that clawed through the skin of his back. His flight was short-lived; his landing hard and brutal, driving the air from his lungs, and, he suspected, cracking a rib or two.
He struggled to his knees, gasping for breath through lungs that seemed to be paralyzed. His head felt too heavy to hold up, hanging down between his outstretched, trembling arms. He dragged himself upright, only to collapse back to his knees when his legs gave way. His ears were ringing, and bile surged up his gullet, burning his throat. He retched, coughed then determinedly stood again, pausing only briefly to look back at what was left of the enemy.
Staggering drunkenly, he hobbled for the shelter of the trees, weaving sideways automatically as the heat of a Wraith blast seared his cheek, spitting bark into his eyes as it ricocheted off the nearest tree trunk. He felt befuddled and dazed but his innate sense of self-preservation prevailed, adrenaline flooding his body, his strength returning quickly.
There would be time later to castigate himself for such a stupid rookie mistake. Raising his weapon, he grunted as the movement caused white-hot pain to sear through his back.
Only one of the bastards left.
Sheppard waited, biding his time. The moment the Wraith came into view, he stepped out from his hiding place and opened fire, not stopping until his clip was empty. He didn’t even wait to see it fall. Turning, he limped back toward the jumper, weariness and pain finally beginning to overwhelm him as the adrenaline rush subsided.
He just made it to the rear hatch before his body gave up the ghost. The door slid up and he caught a brief glimpse of Rodney’s surprised expression before he hit the ground. This time, he didn’t feel the impact.