Episode Five- Bloodline- Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Keltoi and his group of four other villagers lead Daniel, Kenmore, and Sheppard’s team down the main path of the village.  Kenmore, Daniel, and Sheppard are the unlikely trio in the front again followed by the trio of Ronon, Rodney, and Teyla.  The first thing Daniel notices is that this place, this revisioning of Camelot was a lot cleaner than the Camelot he’d been to.  Well, he meant that while the paths through the medieval village are still dirt, they aren’t muddy and their soil’s coloring isn’t black.  It’s the same terracotta shade as the roofs of what would most likely be these villager’s most important buildings.  As they pass through the village, the idea keeps coming to him over and over and over again:  Is one of those buildings housing the Ark of the Covenant?  Probably the centermost protected building in the village, if yes.  If no, then does one of those buildings house a library that can point him in the right direction?  Was there the chance, no matter how much of a longshot it might be, that someone had taken the care as Merlin had, to leave little clues behind them before they either died or Ascended that Daniel could find?  Would the metaphorical lightning strike twice for him?  Was that even possible?

The second thing that he notices about the village are its people.  Some villagers, simply dressed but still arrayed in a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors even though their faces and the clothing are dirty, look up at their little incoming group of foreign visitors while others just keep going about their business, not looking up and not ceasing what they’re doing for a single second.  It’s hard to figure that them showing up is business ‘as usual’ judging by how untraveled the gate area had looked, but Daniel supposed to each their own although it keeps striking him as odd that no one is disturbed or at least caught off guard by seeing them.  The usual reaction SG-1 got was fear and people diving out of their way, running off to find whoever was in charge and tell them that oddly dressed strangers had arrived through the Chappa’ai.  Not ‘Oh look who’s showed up, isn’t that nice?’ or blind indifference.  Was the Atlantis Expedition’s notoriety so far reaching that even these people on a presumably ‘shut-in’ planet heard of them so much or for so long that they aren’t alarmed to see people dressed and armed so unlike themselves?  Almost immediately he feels the urge to walk towards the nearest person and start asking them every question he can think of.  Have you seen people that are dressed and armed like us before?  That question came courtesy of their dealings with both the Trust and the NID, thank you very much.  Have you ever heard of someplace called the Lost City of the Ancestors?  That one was due to having to conceal their own personal whereabouts and Atlantis’ whereabouts from Wraith worshippers and Genii spies, again thank you very much.  Have you ever heard of something referred to as the Ark of the Covenant, it might also have been called the Ark of the Testimony?  That one was getting straight to why they’re here.  And of course, my name is Daniel Jackson, what’s yours?  Always good to be polite, although he should probably start with that along with the usual dog and pony show speech about them being travelers from a distant world looking to make new friends and to trade things like information.

“Speaking of our little session of getting to know you time about how we know each other and for how long, how are you and Vala doin’?”

Daniel glares at her, every question abruptly forced to the back of his mind.  Kenmore grins like an obnoxious child with a not so little secret for leverage… or ammunition whichever need comes up first.  Well, gloating is first, but whichever of the other two comes next.

“Oh come on, Daniel, everyone—well almost everyone at Cheyenne Mountain knows you two have been together since the Ark of Truth mission.  So… how’s it goin’?”

Daniel returns his eyes to villagers and their fair village.  Ignoring her.  And focusing on the problem at hand.  Kenmore keeps her mischievous grin on her face but follows suit and returns her eyes to their surroundings.  Seriously fighting the urge to giggle at her friend’s expense.  Sheppard glances over at them, it’s a show of a side of the Lieutenant none of his team have truly seen up close and personal yet:  friendly playfulness.  But they have had the chance to observe when she would eat lunch in the mess with Lorne and other apparent old friends from back at Cheyenne Mountain, jovial laughter that was made with her whole body would attract Sheppard, Ronon, Rodney, and Teyla’s attentions from across the room.  Giggles that made Sheppard stare at her mess group sometimes long after the rest of his team went back to eating their meals and having their own lunchtime conversations because the very sound of it actually warmed him.  It really did make the muscles at the corners of his mouth pull upwards in a lopsided roguish grin.  He’d never met anyone that had a laugh that could make him do that involuntarily.  Voluntarily for sure, he’d lost count of how many times he faked smiling at a truly hot chick’s dumb witticisms just to be polite… because, you know, being polite can’t hurt a situation just in case one thing leads to another very happy-making thing.  Kenmore was so laid back and animated all at the same time when she conversed with her friends.  He saw her crack jokes, high-five others, or share in their mutual joys at whatever jokes someone else had cracked at their table.  When he saw it, a part of him wished she would do that with his team… it would go a long way toward making missions run smoother which would take a hell of a load off his shoulders.

Keltoi and his companions lead their group to a small-sized, relatively speaking of those around it, building that stands alone.  Keltoi opens the dark-stained thick oak door and gestures for the SGC people to enter.  They do and Keltoi and only one other of his group of men, a man wearing a knee-length tunic the color of raspberry wine with simple trimming of inch-thick dark brown leather bands with matching trousers and boots, both made of the same dark brown leather, and a mustard-colored long-sleeve undershirt, follow them in.  The rest of the greeting party disperses.

*                      *                      *

The building constitutes of one whole room and one room only.  It’s tall, double stories, which gives it the feel of being large and roomy despite the fact that width wise it’s not.  No staircases, most likely indicating no use for the extra height other than to illustrate that this single-roomed building was meant for a grander purpose.  There’s one window in each wall about half way up each wall and each window is a simple design of a grid of two columns by four rows of unblemished clear glass.  They serve to help point out how tall the room is.  Like it needed it.  Thankfully the bottommost edge of the windows came just under Teyla’s eye level and with her and Kenmore being the shortest two of the bunch that meant they still had eyelines out the windows.  So they aren’t exactly trapped blind, they’re just… visiting.

In the center of the room is a medium-sized rectangular wooden table with equally simple wooden chairs stationed around it, but still there’s the element of grandeur to it like those incredibly modern super apartments on the fortieth-something floor of some chic building in New York City.  Simple and sleek in its décor but still being clearly rich and luxurious despite the fact that nothing in the room is even remotely made out of gold, silver, platinum, nor any other expensive metal.

The statement in its own way is obvious, it’s apparently a meeting hall of some sort and not one meant to be exactly off-putting to whoever didn’t live here already.  Quiet hospitality.  Another thing that’s obvious to the SGC group is that there’s no threat to them here.  The building itself and its décor are too passive.  Even the simple four-pronged candelabra-like sconces stationed around the room couldn’t be reutilized as weapons of any great sort, maybe blunt force instruments but nothing more.  The group looks around themselves.  Feeling something akin to ease perhaps.  But for John Sheppard’s team that ease is edgy, they all remember when they had been called to represent Atlantis at a meeting of the Pegasus’ fledgling ‘Federation of Planets’ only to find out that the meeting was a ruse and actually a trial meant to convict and sentence the Atlantis Expedition and Sheppard’s team specifically for all the trouble they’ve caused in this galaxy despite all the good they’ve done for it too.  They had been led to that first room, which had looked like an extremely low-rent version of this place and gassed for passage to the location of their trial.  Subtly, but he notices Teyla, Ronon, and Rodney doing the same, John visually checks the walls for vents or any indications of ones.

“I will tell the Elders that you are here.  I am sure they will come shortly,” Keltoi tells them with the really excited smile still on his face.

Sheppard smiles politely back at the man although he’s really starting to find him either creepy or annoying, John’s not sure which yet.

“Thank you,” Daniel nods.

Keltoi bows.  He doesn’t actually act like it, but John can definitely sense a huge amount of excitement practically emanating from the man in heat waves.  It makes John even edgier knowing that this giddy man was anticipating something apparently huge and neither John nor any other member of their group knew what that huge thing was.  He leaves with his fellow villager, closing the wooden door behind them.

“They were waiting for us,” McKay balks cynically, bolting to the nearest wall and blatantly feeling up and down it for those vents or their indicators, “Funny I didn’t hear anybody run off to tell this village that we were here.”

“You didn’t hear anybody there in the first place,” Ronon comments.

“I’m not going to let this drop, Daniel, and you know it,” Kenmore sing-songs, ignoring the debate… and it was her personal opinion that the one line from The Fellowship of the Ring was apt in this instance:  ‘The Dwarf breaths so loudly we could have shot you in the dark’, Doctor McKay being the Dwarf.  That and they all had been yapping as they’d made their way towards the village so it wouldn’t have been hard for one of the scouts to slip away and then slip back using their voices as sound cover.

Daniel sighs, Damn it Jack… Fine then.

“Vala and I have been figuring out what we’re going to do if Jack makes his announcement.”

“What announcement,” Ursula’s still thinking he’s trying to toy with her in some way.

Daniel looks down at the wide-planked floorboards…  Now this is going to be the hard one.  His mind has been mulling it over the entire time he first found out about it and he’d been dreading this very moment since deciding to come to Atlantis.  He doesn’t know how to tell his friend this, but bluntly seems to be the best course of action… or at least the quickest way of getting it out into the open.

“Jack,” he begins tentatively, “is thinking about announcing the existence of the Stargate Program to the world.”

Sheppard, Kenmore, and McKay stare at him.  All the playing gone.  All the looking over the walls gone.  Edges in moods suddenly shifting to tighten muscles.  Especially facial ones.

“What?!”  The trio exclaim.

“Jack can’t do that,” Ursula persists, stepping up to him like she’s standing her ground against an adversary.  Putting the table in between the two of them.

“Yeah, well, he’s thinking about it.”  Daniel turns away from her, surveying their surroundings for any indication of the culture or society he’s dealing with and what social morays or mannerisms he should avoid because of that; although he’s got a pretty good idea of those things already by quick observation of both the villagers’ garb and the village itself and the name Keltoi, it’s Greek for Celt.  It’s just that he really didn’t want to be having this conversation this way.  And he definitely at least didn’t want to be having it outside of anything other than a private room in Atlantis.  Or a private room on the Hammond.  Or the Apollo.  Or the Daedalus.  Or Cheyenne Mountain.  Hell, any place but here.

Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay join up with Lieutenant Kenmore to form a line of Earth soldiers opposite the Earth archeologist.  All three taking on the challenge of this debate, this potential debacle…

“That’s insane,” Rodney snaps.  His voice rising in pitch.

“The world is not ready to know about any of this,” John piles on with an expression on his face that bears a striking resemblance to the one he gave Rodney when staring the man down over Rodney trying to hide the fact that he had reactivated the nannites in Elizabeth Weir in order to save her life, a choice John had expressly forbade him from doing and Rodney had done behind John’s back anyways.  A straight forward facing head, tense lips that form a straight line but aren’t pursed so tight that they disappear into his face, nostrils flaring, and eyes focused dangerously directly where they needed to be.  In this case right at Doctor Daniel Jackson.

Personally, Teyla does not see the problem that her companions are seeing so clearly, “The Wraith have tried to attack your world and they were not the first enemies to do so.  Does your world not deserve the right to know what dangers are coming for it or what has been done in defense of it already?”

It’s a good point but John doesn’t even bother looking back at her to answer, “My world is fighting at least two wars right now about who prays to whom in a given country and how much that pisses other countries off.  Not to mention the countless genocides going on over territorial disputes and money.  General O’Neill cannot do this!”  Yes it is just like when Rodney had activated Elizabeth’s nannites behind his back.  Damn it!

“For God’s sakes, Syria has nukes pointed at most of the Northern Hemisphere.  Like they’re really going to stop aiming them at us just because we tell them that the real enemy is in outer space,” Rodney can’t believe he has to actually point this out, “Does no one on Earth have a brain?  I know there are millions of people with their heads lodged firmly up their asses and hundreds of them are in seats of considerably power let alone high posts of government, but come on!”

“This will not unite the planet, Daniel.  It will be an even bigger version of when General Hammond and that asshole Kinsey had to tell friendly ambassadors about the program.  That time the Asgard had to show up and scare the hell out the other countries into quitting their bitching!  This is not going to work.  There are no more Asgard to come save us from our own petty bickering.  The only Asgard around want us just as used and dead as the Wraith!    This’ll destroy Earth from the inside out.  Forget enemies!  We’ll tear ourselves apart!”

“Don’t you think I know that,” Daniel snaps back at her, “Because I do!  I told Jack everything the three of you have said but he claims that it’s not in his hands.”

The other three scoff.  Rodney turning away, Sheppard looking away, and Kenmore not buying that for a second.  It’s hard to believe the man in charge of Homeworld Security doesn’t have any control of this.  Bull actually.

“And he’s right,” they stare at Daniel, “It is out of his hands.  The government is making this choice.  Now either Jack can follow along behind and let the government control how this happens, to which I must say need I remind you of the Trust, the NID, or anything that the IOA has ever done?  Or Jack can take the lead on how this happens and at least do some attempt at damage control.  At least try to help in some way.”

The three Atlantis personnel look suitably censured, their eyes look down at the floor.  Daniel looks away from them, seeking solace in the bland view out the nearest window in his line of sight.  Villagers milling about and the sky pinking with the beginning of the sun’s set.  Outside this building, it looks as though there were no alien visitors among them.  The people are so easy going.  It looks so simple from here… but no one is happy about this.  And if tensions are running this high at the mere mention of the idea, then what the hell was Earth going to be in for in this, this… Stargate Revolution.

There’s a knock at the door.  The Earthlings take a moment to get themselves together.  A couple of breaths.  A couple of eyes shutting for a few heartbeats then opening again.  And…

“Yes,” Daniel asks.  Hoping he sounds pleasant, like someone answering the same door knock on a television show and waiting for the cue of the studio audience to applaud whoever enters.

The door opens, showing the daylight is getting dimmer outside, they must have come during this world’s mid to late afternoon, and Keltoi comes in.  He turns swiftly, an elegant, flourishing movement, and holds the door open for a group of five women ranging in age from middle-aged to elderly.  The women enter and face the group in a semi-arcing, single-file line.

Keltoi closes the door behind them and remains in the room, clearly in case of if any of these women will need him.  None of his fellows from his previous welcoming party were in sight, the mission members aren’t sure how to take that.  Not sure what it means or might mean.

Teyla’s eyes linger on the oldest woman, she bears a striking resemblance to Charin in her final years.  Her hair is long, flowing down her back in beautiful waves like solar flares radiating from the surface of the sun.  A halo of snow white and cornsilk yellow.  Her skin is pale, but combined with her lightened hair, the paleness is washed out even further to the point where it looks grey.  If it weren’t for the woman’s gorgeously arched yellow eyebrows and startling lavender-grey eyes, observing all of them with semi-drooped eyelids of age-given wisdom, and her strong physicality, the ashen tone would be misconstrued as sickly.  Her face and lips are unadorned with makeup, but the same could not be said of her clothing.  The draping gown of sheer bright sea foam green fabric revealed that her physically… attractive attributes are still something that could make many men of much younger ages than she come flocking to her in order to beg the elder to their beds.  A sash wrapped around her waist and the cuffs of the gown end halfway between her elbows and wrists.  The cuffs are made of two-inch thick bands of elaborately sewn together threads of silver accented by moments of gold, their design reminds Teyla of helmets warriors wore on some of her friend’s favorite movies, the warriors of Rohan in the, what was it, Lord of the Rings?  Her necklace, or rather the ‘straps’ of her gown, framed the top of her shoulders at an angle.  Creating a sideways chevron look with the top of her gown angling down, falling away from her shoulders.  The straps are of golden leather, held together by intricately linked silver chainwork with a large upside down arrowhead-shaped pendant embossed with a mosaic of melted colored glass to form the image of another beautifully white-haired woman of equally regal stature wearing a gold gown with bare arms and red straps and same shaped pendant.  The chainwork swirls and loops down from the arrowhead pendant’s tip another pair of inches to form a winged circle with another pendant at its center, this one of melted glass in the bright colors of red, yellow, and green swirling together into an intricate knot.  The loops hook down from the bottom of the circle pendant to form another upside down arrowhead pendant, much smaller than the first.  There is no image of a woman this time, just more swirling designs of red, yellow, and green melted glass.  The small arrowhead ends in two elegant convex arcs with a silver loop dangling from the center of each arc with a link chain dangling from each loop and intertwining with two other chains dangling from the bottom the small arrow’s tip.  The twin chains extending down to the old woman’s knees.  She isn’t wearing any shoes, her pale feet are covered with the earth of her world.  Teyla’s eyes rise to the elder face again, a pair of silver crescent moon-shaped earrings frame either side of her refined cheekbones as though her face finishes the rest of the moons’ curve.  There is a majestic nobility born of age and the laughter and happiness of many years.  Yes, she sees Charin in front of her.  A ghost of a past ravaged by the Wraith, but not broken or taken by them.  The Wraith had never robbed Charin of her ability to smile or laugh.  That was what Teyla missed the most about her eldest and dearest friend… her second mother.  The strength, the wisdom, the beauty of survival.

The eldest woman speaks.

“I am U’dana, the eldest of this clan,” her voice was not Charin’s, it was stronger, clearer, much younger sounding than she looked, “It was no trouble at all waiting for your arrival, Doctor Daniel Jackson, but before we address why you are here, we would know more of you.”

Wow.  That was fast.  More so than any of them have been used to in a while.  It’s… unsettling to the say the least.

“Well, I am a great studier of lore and a seeker of knowledge,” Daniel rolls with it.  As usual.

U’dana nods at him, elegantly and pristinely as one would expect an elder statesman would.  Then her eyes travel to the rest of the group.  Sheppard takes the cue like he had six years ago when he first met Teyla as she had surveyed the trio of he, Lieutenant Aiden Ford, and Colonel Marshall Sumner the same way.  He steps around the table to Daniel’s side, facing the women, puts on his best charming smile as he had back then with Teyla, and…

“My name’s Ursula.  I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain,” she says with a hint of swagger in her voice.

The rest of her group stares at her.  She had spoken as she came up on Sheppard’s free side, she looks around at all the eyes staring at her.

“What?  I really do like those things, that’s why I like the song,” she looks back at the Elders with a charming smile of her own, somewhat lopsided like John’s… cocky.

Sheppard keeps staring at her.  Now he knows how Sumner felt when he’d told Teyla about Ferris wheels and things that go more than two hundred miles an hour and tea.  Despite himself, or perhaps at the memory of Sumner’s face when John had done exactly what Kenmore had just done, John turns his smile back on at her.

“I’m Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard.  I like to fly and I too like piña coladas.”

Kenmore looks at him… and smiles back.

“So we agree then?”

“Yes,” Sheppard says.

“Deal?”  Kenmore holds out her hand to him…

“Deal,” he takes her hand and they share a single shake then return their smiling faces towards the line of village women, Daniel does too.  Nothing to see here people, move along.

The rest of Sheppard’s team gapes at their leader and Kenmore’s backs.  What the Hell was that?!  It’s a few moments of stunned silence before Rodney manages to figure out how to function again.

“I, I, I’m Doctor Rodney McKay and I’m the smart one.”  Seriously, what the Hell was that?!

Sheppard, Kenmore, and Daniel look back at him with frowns.  Really, the ‘smart one‘?  They return their attentions to the village women.  It was one thing to note that McKay’s comments usually come with looks from the sane gallery and not the peanut, but it was another to keep the attention on him too long.  He might say something else that would warrant more than look, it might warrant action and they don’t need to be showing right now that some of their number didn’t always heed their leader.  First Contacts can be tricky like that.

It is a moment as well before Teyla can snap herself out of her bewilderment, recovering perhaps a bit better than Rodney had but she is still flabbergasted by John and Lieutenant Kenmore’s sudden display of friendliness and unity.

“I am Teyla Emmagan, leader of the Athosian people.”

U’dana nods at her even more deeply than she had at Daniel.

“I’m Ronon,” then silence.  They wait for more.  It doesn’t come.

“Shrewd warrior,” U’dana comments then returns her attention to Daniel, Sheppard, and Kenmore standing in front of her, “And what is it that you seek exactly?”

“Don’t you already know that,” Rodney snips.

“We seek something that we know as the Ark of the Covenant,” Daniel ignores Rodney.

“It has also been known as the Ark of the Testimony.”

Daniel looks back at Teyla and smiles, Thanks for the help.  She nods back at him and he returns to facing U’dana.

The old woman narrows her eyes at all of them; the movement is soft but hawk like, keen.  She’s analyzing them.  Scrutinizing.  All of a sudden she turns her back to them.  Immediately the other observing women huddle with her, the SGC group idle considerately as the women talk.  Their five voices are low but by no means whispers and they’re no longer speaking English; Kenmore’s head shoots up at the huddle from how she had been idly looking down at her boots, Daniel’s attention is riveted too.  Kenmore takes a step towards the group of women.

“Gabh mo leithscéal,” she says.

The women suddenly stare at her.

“Ní mór dúinn i ndáiríre, ní gá do chabhair. Is é mo mháthair ar ár clan Tiarna. Tá tú mo vow ar mo onóir, ní mór dúinn a fháil ar an Ark,” Ursula goes on.

The women eye her for a long moment in complete silence.

“Fan anseo,” U’dana breaks it.

The women promptly turn away from Kenmore again, U’dana nods at Keltoi, he opens the door again, U’dana leads the women out, and Keltoi follows, closing the door behind him and leaving the SGC group alone.  Again.

“What the hell was that all about?”  Sheppard immediately turns to the Lieutenant.  Friendliness on the back burner now that tension’s at the forefront.  He hated being left in the dark, Jackson doing it was one thing, Kenmore is another matter entirely and it’s a matter that already in Sheppard’s limited experience with her has a great tendency to bite all of them especially the Lieutenant herself in the ass like a rabid bulldog brawling for the last bone in sight.

“They were speaking my mother’s language,” she answers, still staring at the door.  Riveted and something else… Sheppard doesn’t like any of the possibilities that ‘something else’ might be.

“And what did you say to them?”  He demands.

“That we really do need their help finding the Ark,” Daniel answers.

“It took all that just to say that?”

John shoots a warning look at Rodney, how wordy the alien/foreign Earth language is was not the thing that John wanted to know about.  But the Canadian physicist has a point, did the Lieutenant say more than what she and Jackson were both claiming she’d said?

Sheppard turns back to Kenmore, “Did you overhear anything?”  Is that really all that you said?

She shakes her head and suddenly he gets what the ‘something else’ is:  confusion mixed with suspicion, “Some.  They know something, they just aren’t willing to tell us yet.”

“And what did U’dana say to you,” Teyla asks.  Another good point made by a member of his team.

“She told her to wait here.  It means they’ll be back to tell us personally what they’ve decided whenever they’re done making that decision,” Daniel answers.

So that means that the group has to wait again… and Kenmore knows exactly what to with the time.  She immediately turns to Daniel.

“You can’t let Jack do this.”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Talk to him, Daniel, you know you’ve always been his conscience.  He listens to you Jiminy Cricket!”

“I have!  It’s not working!”  Daniel walks away from her again.  Runs his hands through his hair.

Ursula looks away from him.  Her mouth muscles tightening because she was biting the inside of both her cheeks at the same time.

There’s a lull as tempers take a moment to try to come back down.

It’s not as though Ursula thinks Daniel’s against her, it’s just that she can’t bring herself to do anything else right now but express what a bad idea this is, this could be.  She knows Daniel’s on her side of this, but, but…  This is such a crappy situation.

“Look,” Daniel tries to pour oil over troubled waters, “Teal’c, Mitchell, and I managed to convince Sam to try and talk to him.  She’s going to do it.  It might help, it might not.”

“What do you mean ‘might not’,” Ursula looks at him.

Daniel doesn’t look at her.  And here’s the other part of how this is the hard one, “Sam… doesn’t necessarily disagree with releasing the existence of the program,” he confesses.

“What?!”  She exclaims, her shoulders rising as her head leans towards him.  Her eyebrows pinched.  Eyes bugged.  Mouth gaping.

Daniel has to admit he was shocked too when he and Sam had talked about it for the he’s-lost-count time when the Hammond had chauffeured SG-1 on a recent mission, but the truth is the truth.  “She doesn’t think that releasing the existence of the program to the world is a bad thing,” he repeats, trying to make sense of it himself.  Still having a hard time believing it.

He couldn’t help but think that it was Sam’s childhood dream of being an astronaut, an out and open in the public space traveler, that was getting in her way now and clouding her judgment.  Or maybe it was other things.  Getting tired of hiding who and what she was to everyone she knew except those she already knew were in the program and who already knew she was in it too.  It does wear on you, the lying, the hiding, the secrets.  Even Daniel admitted that the small part of him that agrees with Sam and Jack is based in and motivated by his urge to shout from the rooftops of every academic hall that laughed at him and shunned him that he was right.  That he had been right all along!  About all of it, the pyramids, about what the glyphs said about aliens visiting Earth.  All of it… and ‘Screw you snobs!’  He had faith in himself and it brought him straight to the very government program that proved him right and that he’d made operational.  It’s quite a potent part of himself.  Really potent.  He can see the allure of Sam’s own personal issues getting a chance at seeing the light of day… but there’s a greater part of him that remembers all the alternate universes he’s either been to or encountered throughout his years with the Stargate Program.  The death.  The destruction.  People suffering.  Loved ones, friends, already lost before any help could arrive… before they could help themselves… before they knew how to.  He can’t help but believe that all of that heavily weights the scale in favor of one choice over another.

Ursula looks over Daniel’s head as her brain tries to process what she’s just heard.  Her arms come up as her mouth opens in an attempt to gesture to help her figure out how to form words.  Eventually they come.  “How can it not be a bad thing?  How can she…,” words fail her; she has to take a moment again, looks down at her boot tips as she fights the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose between her finger tips and massage the stress furrowing her forehead away.  She notices how worn her boots are despite the damn good polishing job she’s done on them.  She sees the journey she’s made through the Stargate Program in ever crease and every place where she knows she’s had to add just a little bit more of the black-tinted shoe polish to it to cover the color-damaging wear-and-tear.  “God, this cannot be happening.  The potential for this cannot be happening.”

Daniel looks sympathetically at her.  In truth he knows exactly how frustrated she feels, he feels it too.  Has been feeling it.  He’s lost count now of all the time and meals and nights spent awake in bed with Vala discussing what they were going to do about her when the announcement gets made.  Right now on Earth, particularly the U.S., people were having issues with illegal ‘aliens’ and those supposed ‘aliens’ are from the same planet as the people having issues with them.  What was going to happen to Vala when people found out she is a real alien?  How were they going to react then?  How were Daniel and the rest of their team going to protect her and Teal’c then?  At least Teal’c had been out in the public eye on Earth, lived among people willingly.  They knew him to be a good person, they’d trust him no matter what, he earned that form them.  Hell, they’d probably even think it was cool that he’s an actual alien.  But Vala… the last time she was out in Earth society was on accident as an escapee from some hideous Trust/Goa’uld interrogation session that hinged on making her relive being a ruthless Goa’uld.  Mental damage from the interrogation forced her to come across to outsiders as an abused person with PTSD.  It was sheer luck that a Vietnam Vet running a diner had taken her in, sensing a kindred spirit in the then traumatized woman.  How would that man look at her now?  Would she still be that PTSD-ed kindred spirit or would he turn on her, shun her because she wasn’t from Earth?

“Look, at least we have that documentary that film crew made,” he tries to find the silver in all of this and praying a deep felt thank you to General George Hammond for letting the film crew into Cheyenne Mountain even though it was against Hammond’s will while simultaneously Daniel was silently kicking himself for not helping the crew out more.  To help plead their case, this case better, “At least we can show that to the public.  Hopefully that can help us.”

There’s a moment more of silence then Ursula harrumphs.  Like a laugh.

“Really,” she finally looks up at him.  All the sentiment of frustration gone, replaced by something else.  Her stance doesn’t change, but she puts her fists on her hips and her face was lax with eyebrows slightly raised.  Her expression numb.  Replaced by sober apprehension, “Our best foot forward in this is Janet’s death?”

Daniel stares at her.  Every part of his body suddenly tense.  That point hurts.  Ursula can’t look at him anymore.  Can’t stand to be in the same room as him.  Can’t take anymore of this whole damn thing.  She goes to the door, opens it, and walks out in to the village.  Sheppard’s team stays in the room in the uncomfortable aftermath.  To Ronon it was like when he’d watched Sheppard and McKay go at it over Rodney disobeying Sheppard’s orders over turning the Replicator things in Doctor Weir back on.  He’d been on Sheppard’s side during that instance but that didn’t stop the Satedan from feeling like he was watching two close friends tear themselves apart in the chaos of a really, really bad situation.  Ronon had stayed silent and in the background as he usually did, just not for the usual reasons.  He kept his head low while sitting on the edge of a nearby medical bed while Sheppard and Rodney argued and came close, probably a lot closer than either’d realized they were, to breaking their friendship irreparably.  It was only McKay’s unusually mature decision to be the one to pull himself together first and apologize to Sheppard first and tell him that they both needed to stop fighting with each other for the sake of the Expedition and the city itself in that crisis.  Ronon looks away from the door and eyes Daniel for the same reactionary signs in the Earth archeologist as he’d seen in Sheppard then.  Rodney eyes Daniel worriedly, not sure how Jackson was going to handle the rest of their time.  Teyla looked down at the floor, allowing Doctor Jackson the privacy of the incredibly intimate moment he had just had with his dear friend.  Such things were a matter of the utmost privacy in Athosian society.  They were also considered somewhat selfish and petty because the constant threat of Wraith cullings throughout their cultural history had dictated that there were much larger and far more important concerns in their lives than bickering between friends, no matter how important the personal issue was that was coming between them.  Sheppard eyes the door as it starts swinging closed behind the Lieutenant.  He agreed with everything she said.  He found it hard to believe that the Stargate Program’s best foot forward in its exposure to the rest of their world was the death of close friends in field.  If showing Earth how great having the Stargate was hinged on video montage of all the soldiers and civilians that had died here like Matthews and his science team or Carson… or Elizabeth, he’d sucker punch General O’Neill in the face and would stop wailing on him until a lot of security pulled him off of O’Neill, threat of court-martial be damned.  Damned a lot.

“Who’s Janet,” Dex finally asks.

They look up at the Satedan, Ronon looks back at them and waits for an answer if any of them had one.  Daniel’s reluctant but he agrees to answer; it’s only right, he was the only one of them who actually knew Janet, “Our first doctor.  She was killed in the field.  Like your friend Doctor Beckett,” it couldn’t hurt to help the Weapons Specialist understand with a comparison he was personally familiar with himself.  “She, she was an incredible friend to all of us,” Daniel looks down again.  That point hurts like hell too…

Ronon nods.  So it was like with his friend Doctor Carson Beckett.  One of many people that it had broken Ronon to say good bye to not once but twice.  The Satedan looks away from the archeologist.  Allowing the dignity of a little privacy even if it’s only not looking at the man when he doesn’t want to look at any of them anymore.  Now he understands.  And a part of him agrees with Kenmore on it, although he’s not about to admit that openly, but if telling the people of Earth about the Stargate is judged to be best done by showing everyone how all the good people involved have been killed or died, then he could see why Sheppard, Rodney, and the bratty Lieutenant were so against the reveal.  He’d be too.

“You guys stay here.  I’ll go talk to her.”  Sheppard suddenly announces.

Instantly, that puts Ronon on guard, “Why you?”

Sheppard opens the door, “Just come and get us when the Elders get back.”  He leaves.

As soon as the door shuts behind him, Ronon immediately rushes over to Rodney and smashes his finger down on the table top in front of the scientist, “What the hell happened over there,” the Satedan demands.

Teyla stays where she is, standing by one of the windows, but eying the door and what’s transpiring in between nonetheless.

“Yes, I would like to know what occurred when the Ancients took you as well,” she adds far more politely than Ronon.

Rodney looks from Ronon to Teyla.  He’s trapped in a metaphorical corner and it shows all over his face.  He doesn’t know what to do.  What to say in the face of his friends and teammates.

Daniel puts his hands on the table top and leans on it with his head down.  “Don’t do it, Rodney,” he warns.

The three look over at him.  He looks up to meet McKay’s blue eyes, “It’s not your story to tell.”

McKay’s shoulders droop with a large part o f the tension he’d been feeling somewhat relieved that someone would give him the okay to not say anything, but as soon as his eyes shift to his teammates, although Teyla might give him the benefit, he can tell by Ronon’s up close and personally in your face face that saying nothing is not going to fly with him.

“You better say something,” Ronon warns for needlessly added effect.

Pause.  Stare down then…

“It was bad,” Rodney confesses.

“How bad,” Ronon demands.

“Bad,” Rodney reaffirms.

“What is ‘bad’ necessarily,” Teyla inquires in her definitely more restrained and polite but no less coaxing way.

Well at least this would be an easy analogy for McKay to make especially with her around,  “Imagine if Kanaan were killed by the Wraith,” he begins and she right away pales at the thought, clearly it wasn’t the first time she’d thought of that, and he uses it to his advantage, figuring now he’s got at least one of them on his side, “and then you’re captured by the exact same Wraith who put the Wraith DNA in your ancestors,” Teyla pales even further, again he gets the suspicion that that wasn’t the first time she’d thought about that especially knowing that Wraith can live to be thousands of years old.  The possibility is there and so is the likelihood.  He’s most likely chilled her now.  Good.  He continues, “and they do nothing but dump on you for having Wraith DNA in the first place.”

“That’s it,” Ronon breaks in, “The Ancients that made her half-Ancient took her and made fun of her for being Ancient?  That’s why Sheppard and her are all of sudden getting along?”

“They used her husband’s death to do it,” Rodney clarifies.

Teyla glances at the door, sympathizing.  But that’s not good enough for Ronon.

“So,” he asks.  Shrugging the question.

Damn it, Rodney thought he could get away with this easier than this.  “There’s more…,” he wasn’t sure he should say this but he was out of other options, “They bred them.”

Teyla’s head snaps to Rodney.  Her wide rich dark brown eyes say it all.

“They bred her and her husband together like animals.  It’s like what people thought of Teyla and Kanaan and Torren when we found out that it was Michael using their Wraith telepathic abilities to contact her disguised as Kanaan.  That he’d bred them together.”

“That would have been impossible.  Torren was conceived more than a month prior to Michael’s taking my people and it was many months into my pregnancy before I started receiving communications from Kanaan,” the Athosian woman defends her child’s lineage.  Something she has been wanting to do for awhile to anyone who had thought that.

“We all know that now but not then,” Rodney says.

She does not like hearing that any more than she had during Rodney’s breeding comment and using Kanaan, Torren, and she as an analogy.  Nor had she liked hearing it when she accidentally overheard rumormongers in the city’s hallways or its rooms discussing such lies.

“So,” Ronon repeats.  This time not shrugging physically, but the tone of his voice was the same.  Extremely skeptical.

Daniel and Rodney stare at him.  Even Teyla gapes at his cavalierness.

“They told her she was an abomination,” Rodney can’t believe he has to add on to what he’s already said.  Wasn’t the disgusting and morally reprehensible breeding thing enough?  “They told her that she and her son and her husband were unnatural freaks.  They want to put them down and I do not mean pick on them.  Her and her son, they want them put down like diseased animals.  And there is nothing humane about the way they want to do it either.”

Teyla returns her shocked eyes to Rodney, Oh my…  Many people had had the same reaction to others with the Gift before Teyla and Kanaan.  Those Gifted Others had not survived and indeed many believed after their massacres that handing them over to the Wraith would have been a far kinder form of execution.  A more humane way of murdering them.  Teyla’s eyes drift down to the floor, perhaps those ideas of murder had been learned from the Ancients and were not entirely a human thought and urge.  Suddenly she has a whole new reason to ban the Ancient’s practices among her people… and a whole new reason to fear those that her people was worshipped and called friends and saviors.

There’s a knock at the door again and Keltoi walks in without address.  They look up at him and hoped they looked better than they felt.  They wished the villager had given them more time to collect themselves like he’d done previously.

“The Elders have made their decision,” he beams at them, “They will be here shortly.  Please gather your other friends.”

The four of them look between each other.  Uh…

“I’ll go,” Ronon unhappily volunteers.  He still isn’t done with McKay yet, but he might get better and faster answers from Sheppard himself… and if that fails, there’s always pissing off Kenmore to the point where she’ll make a mistake and blab something she didn’t mean to.  The Satedan leaves with a flare of his gun which he dangles casually back behind his shoulder.

Daniel, Rodney, and Teyla breathe a sigh, they weren’t sure it was for relief yet but at least it was for some of the edge leaving the room for at least a moment.  It was also helpful because neither of them really wanted to tag along with him.  It was less about running into Sheppard and the Lieutenant after knowing what they knew now and more about the fact that neither of them wanted to come upon Kenmore if her this-whole-Jack-announcement situation and the mention of the video of SGC Doctor Janet Frasier’s death had brought to the surface the still obviously raw feelings of the previous mission.  Teyla and Rodney had seen the Lieutenant punch Sheppard, nearly breaking his nose.  Rodney knew personally and Daniel knew from reading between the lines of that mission’s reports that Sheppard had helped Kenmore through some of that pain, building a quick trust between the two of them.  But only time would tell if that quick trust would hold.  It was obvious from the reports that Sheppard has issues with Kenmore’s questioning of authority practically all the time and on practically all decisions he’s made and Daniel knows from again personal experience that that’s something in her that will never go away, it might lessen but it’ll never go away.  Is Sheppard the sort of leader that can take that, respect it, and move on?  Or not?  Again, only time would tell.

 

 

Kenmore sits in the dark on the grassy crest of a short hill overlooking a forest of pines, birches, and yews.  Trees talk to her.  Especially when she was a child.  Pines… birches… yews… ashes… oaks, every single one had a voice she could hear.  She spent long hours in the solace of the leafy branches, sitting cross-legged on a root breaking the surface, and looking up at their trunks and carrying on conversations about all sorts of things.  Oaks have deep voices that you could feel in your bones like the world itself is meditating to the sound of a single ‘Ohm’; in a way it’s like listening to James Earl Jones, she wonders if that’s why she likes STAR WARS so much.  Darth Vader sounded like an Oak tree to her and reminded her of good times spent in even better company.  Happy summers.  Ashes are whispery things like they’re always telling secrets, sharing incredible mysteries with anyone who would listen, or took the time and care to listen to what they had to tell them.  Yews are solitary and contemplative and speak rather like the Ents in Lord of the Rings.  Slowly and in short sentences like they are passing a great edict.  Of course, yews are among the oldest trees and when they speak, they are telling something from a very distant time and place and it’s worth paying attention to.  Birches sort of ramble like they have so many ideas going on in their heads and they can’t seem to figure out which idea to stick with so they just say each and every one as it comes to them.  They’re not flighty, just highly informed and very creative buggers.  Pines are giggly actually.  No one would think of it from their prickly and rough bodies, but they are.  Love to tell jokes and hear them.  Love to go along with people on adventures.  World travelers they are.  Friends to anybody and everybody.

Then there was the seeing things that only her mother could see and that scared the crap out of her father to see.  He called it evil too, called it Satanic.  Devil worship somehow even though he’d never worshipped the Devil a moment in his life… hadn’t really worshipped God either since he’d been a boy, but his strict Catholic upbringing paired with a huge self-absorption driven superiority complex somehow made him conveniently forget the years of intentionally dodging Mass at any time or day of the week, including dodging the priest at every sighting of the man… or calling him by the wrong name every time her father couldn’t avoid meeting the clergyman.  Fairies, she’d seen fairies.  One with a large, sky blue-colored Blue Bell bloom on its head, a tall lanky body, and a flower petal dress to match with great big butterfly wings the kind of which she’d only ever seen before on butterflies pinned to boards inside display frames.  Leprechauns, small little boys—not men, they looked like other children only extremely pygmy-sized—wearing a pointed blue cone-shaped cap with all green clothes the same sort that she saw on garden gnome statues in people’s yards and her own family’s yard when she was growing up.  They moved fast, like blurs.  You were never sure you’d actually seen them, but somehow… you did know you saw them.

Her eyes turn to the vista again, well when it had been a vista.  A dark grey mountain had been in the distance but that had since disappeared into the burgeoning night that had quickly descended after the short sunset a few minutes ago.  Night falls fast and hard on this planet.  She looks down again.  Colonel John Sheppard comes up and sits down beside her, facing her and keeping about a foot of space between them.  She doesn’t look at him, doesn’t change her picking at a blade of grass by her right boot heel.

“You doing okay,” he asks.

“Yeah, sure,” she shrugs and ironically enough he genuinely believes it.  She just needed some air and alone time to deal with and think about what General O’Neill was prepared to do.  He keeps his eyes on her though.

“There’s just one thing,” he says.

“Yeah?”  She keeps picking at her grass blade.

“You love your husband so much… that’s just weird.”

She looks over at him, pausing her nature playing, and frowning in confusion at him, “What, that I still love my husband even though he’s gone or that—“

“That she made you doubt it.”

She holds his gaze for a moment then looks away, going back to her playing with the grass, “I know how much I love my husband…  It’s just that, that I had my doubts about how much he loved me.”

Sheppard stares at her.  He wants to ask why but stops himself.  He senses that this moment is like the one in the hallway of that castle in the Void.  Simply sit here, near her, don’t walk away and she’ll talk.

“I mean hey,” she continues, “the Goa’uld got their brainwashing gizmos from somewhere.”

“You think he was brainwashed into loving you?”  She’ll tell you things you can’t find believable.

“You heard her, they bred us together.  And let’s face it, guys like him don’t normally go for chicks like me.”

“And what sort of ‘chick’ are you,” Sheppard asks.  He hadn’t meant to, but it came flying out of his mouth before he could stop it.

“Short, fat, and I don’t look like a model of any sort.  Plus-sized or otherwise.”

“You do know that there are guys that can see past stuff like that,” he points out.

“Really?”  She aims a doubtful look at him, “Guys like you?”  She baits.

“Yes.”  He bites.

“I’ve seen photos of your ex-wife and I see Emmagan every day, you wanna try that again, Pinocchio?”  She aims a playfully cynical look at him.

John swallows hard, walked right into that one.

Kenmore goes back to her blade of grass.

“So… who filed for divorce?  You or your wife?”

John stares at her.  The muscles in his cheeks tightening.  He didn’t want to be talking about this.

“You still love her?”

John stays silent.  He does not want to be talking about this.

Kenmore looks back out at the landscape, practically gone in the darkness now.  She could spot a nearby treetop here and there, but nothing near as much as she saw before, “Then you and I are in the same boat.”

He eyes her profile.

“I thought she was fine with it,” John finally speaks, accepting his turn for a hallway moment; Kenmore doesn’t look at him, granting him the dignity of some semblance of privacy like a priest behind the confessional screen.  Good, he needed that.  He didn’t like talking about his wife and he had even bitter feelings about his married life.  “I,” he picks up a few grass blades himself and starts to play with them, “I,” he tosses the blades aside, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”

“Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a complete stranger.  Look at me,” he does, “I broke down in front of you.  You don’t get ‘there there’d or look at their faces and see ‘Oh you poor thing’.  Strangers just hold onto you and listen.  There’s no baggage there.  No personal investment.”

Sheppard focuses on the corners of her eyes, but theirs is personal investment.  They’re on a team together, he’s in charge of her and she’s supposed to have his back.  Slowly his eyes start tracing the lines of her profile analyzing the distant skyline being lost more and more to the deepening darkness.  Her forehead.  The silhouette of her nose.  Her lips, they’re full, he’s not sure why he noticed that in particular.  Her chin.  The collar of her battle dress uniform and curves of her stiff tactical vest hugging up underneath her face, showing barely half an inch of neck before her clothing swallowed up her true figure… then he takes a page from the widow’s handbook.

“She couldn’t stand being a military wife.”

Kenmore takes it in stride and tosses her own grass blade away, “So you two got married after you joined.”

“No.  Before.”

This time it’s Kenmore’s turn to stare at him and the expression on her face turns his into one of relief.  She’s thoroughly perplexed.  She gets it.  He starts nodding.

“You see.  Exactly.  That’s what I mean,” he gestures.

“Eh, some people don’t know what it’s like.  They fall for the Hollywood then get hit upside the head with the reality.  And there’s a reason the saying is ‘Reality bites’.”

“Oh it bites alright,” John says bitterly, looking away.

Kenmore studies his profile.  The slight bumping of his forehead as it pinches between his smooth dark eyebrows.  The distinct swoop of his nose.  His flat cupid’s bow.  His lips, the lower one is just a bit plumper than the upper, she’s not sure why she notices that.  His chin, not projecting but simply finishing the nice curve of his face, “Disappointed?”

John doesn’t say anything.  It looks like he doesn’t have to.

“Yeah, me too.”  Kenmore looks away again.

His head slowly turns towards her.  His grey-green eyes narrowed and his mouth hanging open.  His brow pinched even further into definite bumps.

“You’re disappointed in your husband,” his shocked voice asks her.  She’ll tell you things you can’t find believable.

“Nope,” she shakes her head, admiring how the night has engulfed the world just beyond the falling off crest of the hill the village rests on, it’s only about six or seven feet away from where they’re sitting, “Disappointed in myself for doubting.”

John closes his mouth and returns his eyes to their normal width as he nods, Disappointed in myself for not realizing how unhappy she was sooner…

“Sheppard!”

Both Kenmore and Sheppard answer the loud bellow from the illuminated side of the third hut into the village from this side, the two soldiers look back to see Ronon Dex watching them.

“They’re back!”  He yells at them.

Sheppard nods and he and the Lieutenant get to their feet.  Dusting off grass from the butts of their BDUs.  It wouldn’t due to make a scruffy impression especially not after they’ve managed to make a pretty good first impression so far—well, at least good first impression for them.  Like John had remembered, they’ve had bad first impressions that range from awakening the sleeping evil of an entire galaxy to being gassed by friendlies and made to answer for that awakening.  The two of them head for the Satedan.  The former Runner waits for them—well, he’s waiting for one of them.

“She filed for divorce after I just got back from a tour in Iraq,” John adds as they walk towards Dex.

“Ouch,” Ursula hisses beside him, “Are you sure that’s honestly couldn’t-stand-being-an-Air-Force-wife because that sounds more like couldn’t-stand-being-married-to-you-personally?”

“Well if the divorce proceedings were anything to go by, yes, it was very personal.”

“Damn.  Maybe I am better off with my husband dead.”

“Yes you are,” then after a heartbeat he added, “Lucky.

They look over at each other and laugh.  She was right, if there had been baggage or personal investment there, there wouldn’t have been the laughter; there wouldn’t have been the ability to joke about the most heart wrenching moment of their lives.  And it felt good to laugh about it for once.  Laughing sure as hell beat the other feelings.

They reach Ronon, he’s eyeing them, liking their sudden bonding even less.  Sheppard gestures for Ronon to lead the way and he does while Kenmore falls in behind to bring up the rear.

 

 

Keltoi smiles and steps out the door into the night, checking up the path for the Elders.  The Elders still aren’t in sight yet.  He comes back inside.  There’s the quick awkward exchange of half-hearted semi-smiles between Daniel, Teyla, Rodney, and he.

“Are you enjoying your stay,” the villager tries to make small talk.  God bless him, Daniel sympathizes.

“Oh, sure, it’s been fantastic,” McKay retorts sarcastically.

“Splendid,” Keltoi answers, ignorant of the slight but Daniel slides a glare towards Rodney for him, “Places for you have been set at evening meal at U’dana’s table if any of you would like to join us.”

“We would be honored,” Teyla nods at him graciously with a kind smile and knowing full well what an honor being invited to share a meal at the Chief’s table is.

“Yes, we would,” Daniel adds for good measure, feeling he has to make up for Rodney’s attitude the same way he felt like he had to when Vala made some sarcastically remark that wasn’t too far out of the wheel house of whoever they were talking to for it to fly over their head.

Then Ronon walks back in followed by Sheppard then Kenmore a step behind, they take up their former positions.  Making everything look and feel a lot more awkward than it had before.  Ronon keeps eyeing Kenmore and Sheppard’s backs.  Teyla notices his already dark eyes seeming even darker.  A deep brooding mood is brewing in him.  Casually she leans in towards her friend and lowers her voice for solely the two of them to hear.

“What is it,” she whispers.

“They were sitting on the grass out there.  Talking.”

“So?”

“I don’t like it.”

“She is a part of this team, Ronon,” he looks at her.  Turning his glare to her.  Daring her to say it again, but Teyla Emmagan does not back down, “Whether you or any of us like it, she is a member of our team and I am sure that John is only trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

“If he wouldn’t just stand there and take this, we wouldn’t have to deal with her.”

“You know as well as I do that John does not just stand anywhere and take anything.”

“He’s taking this.”  Now his voice is starting to get loud.

“Ronon, do not push this.  Now is not the time,” she uses her own voice volume, urgently hushing it lower in a bid to make him follow suit; he does but he isn’t giving up on the argument itself.

“Then when,” he urgently hushes back at her.  Leaning in to her further.

“When we are not here,” she hisses back, but not as privately as she may have thought…

“Anything new happen while we were gone,” Sheppard asks louder than he needed to.

Teyla looks over at the back of their team leader’s head then slips her vision back over at Ronon, her eyes say it all.  With a seething breath and a grunt, the tall Satedan straightens up and goes back about his business of not being happy about this new revelation among their group.  Teyla again returns her eyes to the back of John’s head, awaiting his further leadership and answering his question.

“We have been invited to evening meal,” she tells him.

“Great.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m starving.”

Suddenly the Elders show up.  Keltoi respectfully stands aside and gestures to invite them in with a low and gracious bow, the women enter.  Again forming the semi-arcing line with U’dana at its heart.  She addresses all.

“We have made our choice.  But first, we must know,” her pale blue eyes zero in on Kenmore, “cé go bhfuil tú i do clan?”

Kenmore blinks.  First, she hadn’t expected that and second… does she want to answer?

“Iníon an taoiseach. Bhí a oidhre.”  Yes, she does.

U’dana nods and addresses the larger group once more, “Because of your fellow’s lineage, we will grant you an audience with what you seek.”

Daniel’s shoulders sag ever so slightly under the cover of an exhalation of breath as he sighs out loud, blowing out a puff of air.  He rubs the back of his head, good, good, he hated to think of how hard this could have been if Ursula hadn’t thrown the cultural connection thing in their favor.  He wasn’t entirely sure he could have pulled it off without her.  He claps his hands together with a not unduly loud smack as he takes a step forward.  Let’s get to work.  Teyla looks out the window again, satisfied with a temporary reprieve from the sudden personal stresses of this mission by the stress of the main goal of this mission being alleviated as simply as that.  Some smooth in the storm.  She inhales deeply and exhales just as deeply, a silent sigh unlike Doctor Jackson.  Then she notices it, a light suddenly appears in the darkness, seeming to glow in the middle of the air if it were not for the fact that she knew there was a distant mountaintop in that same location when there was still daylight.  Then another orb of light appears below the previous one… or was it above it, in the deep darkness of this world’s night, she cannot truly tell for certain?  Suddenly another light appears then another.  A chain of golden lights is forming down what she believes she can safely assume is the distant mountainside.  She tilts her head a little bit to the side.  Her eyes quirk at the mysterious procession.

“In the morrow,” U’dana supplements, “Till then night has set and we will take both meal and rest.  You are welcome in my clan’s household.”

“We are greatly honored that you would extend us this courtesy.”

“It is my honor and duty, Doctor Jackson, considering that your fellow here is brethren.”

“I believe your lookouts have spied something,” Teyla finally announces.  The light chain is undeniable now… and getting longer.  Much longer.

A flaming-haired Elder that looks every bit the quintessential idea of an Irish woman, tall and porcelain skin dignified by shrewd blue eyes with a beautifully framed face of sharp yet not inelegant angles and freckles on her forehead, cheeks, and nose and pale rose-colored attractive lips, speaks up with a voice as gravelly and deep and as attractive as Kathleen Turner’s is and complimented by an East Anglia accent, “Our scouts at the geata have not sent any word back.”

Teyla gestures out the window with a nod of her head, “I am referring to your scouts on that distant mountain.”

Keltoi and the Elders exchange alarmed looks.  Keltoi, smile distinctly gone, looks frightened.  Suddenly a horn blares in the village.  A long, low bellow that thunders the ground beneath their feet even through the wide wooden planks of the room flooring.  Everyone looks in the direction the sound is coming from.  The building front.

“What is that,” Sheppard asks.  Hoping for that to be word from the scouts on said mountaintop that it’s something like nine o’clock at night time for the shift change like a factory foghorn blowing or the weirdest call to dinner he’s ever heard.  Bigass alien grandfather clock maybe?

“The war horn,” Kenmore breathes equally as alarmed as the Elders.  Sheppard’s shoulders tense at the sound.

“Someone’s attacking,” Jackson’s just as spooked.  Sheppard takes hold of his P-90.

Out of nowhere a track shears right down the middle of the meeting hall’s thatched roof by the swift flick of the long spade-shaped tail of a massive black winged creature.  Shorn flecks of straw fly up and rain down in a giant puff of dust.  Everyone ducks.  People scream as roof debris tumbles on them.  The creature flies off.  People come back up.

“What the hell was that?!”  McKay exclaims.

No one answers him.

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