Sheppard and Teyla come out of the gate practically at the same time followed quickly by Rodney and then a couple of heartbeats later by Ronon, ready with his gun clenched tightly in his hand but not quite poised to fire…yet. Boy is he ready to shoot this girl, Sheppard caught the sight out of the corner of his eye. The gate shuts down behind them as they look around. The sun is showing itself to be a little after dawn, fog still clings to the ground a little bit here and there but even that is quickly dissipating like the rest of it had already. They have maybe an hour or two before noon. It’s quiet. Sheppard hadn’t exactly known what he’d expected to greet him but nothing was not it, wasn’t even the tenth idea to come to his mind. He lowers his P-90 as he keeps looking around. Where was Kenmore? Where was all the crap she’d been carrying? Teyla looks around with an entirely different sentiment.
It has literally been years since she has been here and the last time she had been here she had been swept up into a culling beam and had feared her own demise let alone the demises of those of her people that had been culled along with her and woke to find themselves trapped behind the webbed gate of a Wraith cell. Her first time in one but it had proved to not be her last nor had it proven to be the last time the members of the Atlantis Expedition or indeed John Sheppard would break her out of one. It felt…weird to be back. So much had changed in her, in her life, as well as the landscape. But the landscape had not changed so much that she could not find the way back to her own village. She looks over at Sheppard, he seems wary but he nods at her and she leads them away from the gate. A thought comes to her and her cheeks plump with a small demur smile, Charin used to call her Teyla Who Walks Through Gates.
It was odd how her heart was beating as she kept up a steady, unyielding pace down the road to her village. She was beginning to recognize trees, even with the passing of time they were still so familiar to her, and she knew she was close to the entrance to her village and her heart was racing, pounding in her chest. Even through the bounce of her own firm and consistent steps, Teyla could see her heartbeats rhythmically shuddering the tacvest covering her chest. Suddenly there it was up ahead, only about twenty feet ahead, there was the gap. She closes her eyes, Teyla Emmagan was coming home, she opens them, she takes a deep breath, turns…and stops. It was…it was…She had not expected to see her village look so…destroyed. Teyla takes timid, slow steps down her village’s main avenue. It is unreal, it is all so unreal. She had had a vision in her mind of the place much as she had left it. Perhaps a little battle scarred from the Wraith culling but no worse from all the previous cullings they had suffered, but not this, without knowing it she had slowed to a stop, not anything like this. Sheppard comes up beside her.
“How are you doing?”
Teyla takes a moment to recover her slackened jaw and realize she had stopped, “I had not expected this.”
“Neither had I,” McKay pipes up.
Teyla and Sheppard look back at McKay, who had fallen behind in the pace and had respectfully taken up the rear. He was looking back at the village’s entrance and beyond the road is another gap that opens onto a lake with a sand bar for a dock and beyond the lake are the ruins of a large Ancient city—well, what had once been a large city. Emege, Teyla remembered its name. Her people told stories of once living there.
“What,” Sheppard asks him.
McKay looks back at him.
“All this time and you never thought to tell us that it looked like that.”
“The reports have been on the books for a long time Rodney, you could’ve checked them out any time.”
“No one’s reports, not yours, not Bates’, mentioned the city looking anything like that. Some of the towers are still standing, do you not see that? We went Indiana Jones-ing through tales about a brotherhood of monks, almost got killed by the Genii including our good ole friend Kolya, you do remember that time, don’t you, when we could’ve been rummaging through this place without the slightest possibility of guns pointed at the backs of our heads, and you didn’t think to mention this place,” Rodney gestures back at the broken city across the water.
Teyla looks at him and recalls so well the words Charin had spoken to her only the morning before she first met the Atlantis Expedition on these very grounds, “It is all gone long ago. Everything of value salvaged, everything worth using taken when my people dared to enter its ruins. There is nothing there but stone and twisted metal, all else has fallen to dust. Emege fell many and many a year ago, Rodney. There is nothing left.”
It felt comforting to Teyla that she spoke so strongly, so like herself, when this place brought up so many memories, both good and bad, for her. Rodney, like the true friend he is to her, takes her word for it, but Rodney, like she knows Rodney is, did so begrudgingly. That morning even she had considered venturing into the city to see if she could recover anything of value to trade on her people’s behalf.
“Yeah, well, there’s no sign she’s gone to the city. All that talk about the abandoned city and she hasn’t gone to it.”
Sheppard looks at Teyla.
“What else was in our reports?”
This was familiar. Teyla leads Sheppard through the forest. What wasn’t familiar was the fact that Rodney was right behind Sheppard and Ronon was vigilantly bringing up the rear, still waiting for Lieutenant Kenmore to pop up out of nowhere so his itchy trigger finger could get a chance to release some of its tension by shooting her; for John’s effort, he made the Satedan switch his weapon’s setting from kill to stun. Teyla crawls over a steep hill that has and had been eroded with broken and gnarled tree roots sticking out of it. The first time John had gone over this thing, Teyla had climbed over it with no problems but John had taken a sliding fall on his ass down it to which he had tried to cover the fact of by quickly bouncing up to his feet at the hill’s bottom and brushing his hands together like he had meant to butt-surf it the whole time. Teyla had smiled at him then. John scaled the hill with trouble from the giving ground again but no butt-surfing this time. He wished this time could have been just as jovial as the first, but…Behind him, John heard Rodney do the butt-surfing. Half a smile caught Sheppard’s mouth, it wasn’t exactly like the first time but that was funny as hell.
Then McKay said it, “Ow.”
And John fought to stifle his giggle.
Teyla climbs over a massive broken and downed tree trunk and sees the entrance to the caves that held the carvings. Although it looks like it might have been a natural cave at one point in time and had simply been more finely carved out, the short wall of rock betrayed how constructed it truly was and when you got to the low narrow doorway, you could see the brick work inside and that said it all. Teyla stops, Sheppard comes to stand beside her, and Rodney comes to a stop on her other side with Ronon.
“This is it?”
McKay was clearly underwhelmed.
“It is enough,” Teyla says.
And with that, Teyla starts towards the cave. Rodney looks over at Sheppard but he doesn’t say anything. Teyla gets to the entrance and runs right into a force field that’s been erected over the entrance. She staggers back a few steps shocked, that had hurt. The others rush forward, Sheppard and Ronon check on her.
“I am fine,” she assures them.
But Rodney walks over to cave’s entrance. He slowly extends his hand, it hits the field, and he yanks it back then he turns and gestures back at the entrance.
“Let me guess, that wasn’t there the first time.”
Sheppard shakes his head. And Ronon’s finally had enough. Suddenly he lunges at the entrance, slamming himself over and over into the force field and taking all of its pains. McKay throws up his hands in exasperation.
“Yes, of course, because that’s gonna help.”
Ronon keeps going despite Rodney’s comment or perhaps the Satedan just added that aggravation to Kenmore’s. Just when even Sheppard is about to tell Ronon to rein it in, Kenmore appears on the other side of the reacting, light purple-colored force field. She watches Ronon for a moment like she had had to see it with her own eyes first before she believed it before speaking.
“You know you could’ve just pushed the big red button sticking out of the leaf cover on the ground there,” she points down at the start of the right wall of the entrance.
Ronon stops and they all look at the indicated area and, just like she said, Sheppard sees a painfully obvious big red button sticking out of some sort of black suction cup looking thing sticking out of the leaf cover that had fallen on the ground. They look back up at her. She shrugs.
“Just a thought.”
They watch Kenmore disappear back into the dark cave entrance. There’s a moment of silence then Ronon slams himself into the force field again.