Title: The Code Duello
Fandom/Genre: SGA, gen
Summary: When the lie direct is the first offence, the aggressor must either beg pardon in express terms; or fire on until a severe hit be received by one party or the other.
1. The first offence requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult.
"And what exactly am I sorry about?" asks Rodney, wide-eyed and belligerent. John slowly blows a breath out between taut lips and resists the urge to laugh out loud. This is in no way funny. They've gated to a world that's right out of a Hollywood western, and of course they were only here five minutes before Rodney said something that had their hosts drawing old-fashioned revolvers and sneering angrily.
"You're sorry that these nice men feel the need to shoot you," John suggests delicately, as though the surrounding mob can't hear their exchange.
"Colonel, the nice men here," Rodney spits, gesturing around at all the angry faces, "are determined to continue using an almost fully-charged ZPM as some sort of spittoon."
"It's their spittoon," John states, as mildly as possible. "It's up to them what they do with it."
"And they're clearly complete morons," Rodney finishes, triumphant. "Just as I said in the first place."
The next sound is of seven hammers clicking back on seven revolvers.
4. When the lie direct is the first offence, the aggressor must either beg pardon in express terms; or fire on until a severe hit be received by one party or the other.
The part of John that thought it was cool to gate into a Clint Eastwood movie is now hot, sweaty, and longing for the cool winter weather of Atlantis. Deserts are never as much fun without ice cream or swimming pools or casinos to break up the heat.
"Because it's not a lie!" exclaims Rodney, and John drops his forehead down onto the sticky saloon table, exhausted. Teyla takes over while the group of spitters mutters amongst themselves two tables over. "Any one of those idiots would be utterly embarrassed by a Stanford-Binet test, and I can prove it! 'Moron' is an accurate description and I won't apologize for making true and accurate scientific observations!"
"Perhaps you could apologize for straining relations with a potential trading partner," Teyla tries.
"Oh, and what are we trading for, exactly?" Rodney asks skeptically. "Their hooch? Their horseshoes? Oh, oh!" He feigns excitement, snapping his fingers. "What about their Ancient glowing spittoon? Except they've made it perfectly clear that it's off the auction block and frankly, I don't know why we're still here at this point."
15. Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intend leaving the place of offence before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.
"You're not going anywhere," says a mustached man as Rodney scrapes his chair back, getting ready to leave the saloon.
"Please, what are you going to do, spit on me?" Rodney asks, waving away the threat. "Hello, I'm surrounded by military types carrying assault rifles. I think I can do whatever I want."
"Rodney," says John, rubbing at his forehead in vain, trying to remove the stickiness that transferred to his skin from the table. "Please shut up now."
"That what you reckon?" says the Mustache, and gives Rodney the gimlet eye before firing a fat bullet of saliva at the tobacco-stained, slimy, and beleaguered ZPM.
"Oh, yes, that's just great, that's just -- Colonel, shoot them!" Rodney shouts, outraged, pointing.
14. Seconds to be of equal rank in society with the principals they attend, inasmuch as a second may either choose or chance to become a principal, and equality is indispensable.
"You his second, then?" asks the Mustache while Ronon kicks back another smudgy glass of moonshine. John officially hates Clint Eastwood, deserts, cowboys, and above all, summer in the desert.
Somebody has to keep Rodney from actually getting himself killed, though, so John nods twice. He feels the beginnings of a headache zinging deep between his eyes.
"Second what?" asks Rodney, blinking quickly and looking over at John. "Second what?"
16. The challenged has the right to choose his own weapon, unless the challenger gives his honour he is no swordsman; after which, however, he cannot decline any second species of weapon proposed by the challenger.
"Revolvers?" Rodney repeats after John says it, and the Mustache takes this as Rodney's choice with a solemn nod. "Yeah, this is in no way homoerotic," Rodney complains, and then it hits him. He grabs John's upper arm and squeezes while his eyes get wider. "Oh god, I'm going to die of a gunshot wound. I'm Canadian, this can't be happening!"
17. The challenged chooses his ground; the challenger chooses his distance; the seconds fix the time and terms of firing.
"Of course, we are not going to let him shoot you," Teyla reassures Rodney, straightening his tac vest and patting his shoulder.
"We're not?" Ronon asks, baffled.
"Well, not much," John compromises.
21. Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting takes place, or after sufficient firing or hits, as specified.
"There's this disorder," John says earnestly, even though he's not certain that the Mustache's aged second can even hear John speaking. "It's called Tourette's, and it makes people say rude things that they don't mean."
The second beetles his white eyebrows and works his toothless jaw, unimpressed.
"McKay's got Tourette's on a level of fatal magnitude, tragic really," John continues. "Also, he's foreign, and in his language, 'moron' means, uh, 'wise one'."
The second spits on the ZPM. John watches the brown glob of phlegm roll down the orange crystal face and grimaces. "How about we call the whole thing off and I give you a P-90 for your troubles?" John offers desperately. "Kills about six times as fast as what you got there."
22. Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily make the hand shake, must end the business for that day.
Back to back, McKay and the Mustache pace out the ten steps that John suggested. He doesn't trust Rodney to fire accurately from any further away. He's got his hand on his Beretta, watching for his chance to take the Mustache down and make a break for the gate, Rodney in tow. Ronon's slumped against a horse-post, three sheets to the wind, and Teyla is next to John, taut as a bowstring.
"Do I turn around now?" asks Rodney, and John nods at him. He and the Mustache pivot in place and Rodney blanches.
The Mustache goes for his revolver, John goes for his Beretta, and Rodney fumbles his up and out of his own thigh holster so that it falls towards the dusty road. The mechanism is greasy and wobbly, though it was the best John could borrow from their hosts, and before John can train the Beretta on the Mustache, Rodney's revolver's fired itself off into the area of Rodney's feet.
"Ow, ow!" Rodney shouts, and hops on one foot with his hands clamped around his toes.
"Seriously?" says John, startled, while Teyla hurries over to catch Rodney under the arm.
The Mustache is too busy laughing to remember that he was dueling, and John takes advantage of the general uproar to haul his team towards the gate. He doesn't think McKay's badly hurt, but wounds in the foot can be a bitch and he's not taking any chances. He dials Atlantis and pipes his IDC through, torn between relief that McKay's not dead and concern that he might not stay healthy for long.
"Medical team to the gateroom!" John bellows into his comm unit as they emerge on the other side of the wormhole.
"Cancel that," Rodney says calmly, letting go of his foot and shrugging out from under Teyla's arm. He's standing on his wounded foot and John notices that the foot doesn't look wounded at all -- there's no blood, not even a graze in the smooth surface of McKay's boot.
"You faked it?" John asks, pulse still racing.
"Did you get it?" Rodney asks Ronon, and Ronon holds up his pack, which seems bulkier than usual.
"You did not just steal a ZPM from a mob of angry cowboys," John says, urgently.
"Oh, what are they going to do about it?" Rodney scoffs, beaming as the brown-stained erstwhile spittoon comes out of Ronon's pack. "Challenge Atlantis to pistols at dawn?" Rodney's already halfway to the transporter, almost skipping with triumph, arms wrapped around his newest treasure.
Ronon gazes after him thoughtfully, then looks over at John. "You're right, we probably should have let them shoot him a little."
"I'll see to it that he writes a note of apology," John sighs.
A/N: The dueling rules are courtesy of Schott's Miscellany, which is a great book you must all own.