Episode Five- Bloodline- Chapter Five

Chapter Five

What one would think as a typical medieval communal building for an Irishman of high degree is not what greets them, it would be considered a typical communal building for an Irishman of high degree during the era of the Roman Empire.  Around the time of the first century Anno Domini.  To many it would seem poor conditions, beggar’s conditions, but others would know that it is the equal to other such buildings in the village except for its size, it’s the biggest.

Keltoi opens the wooden, cone-shaped building’s door and leads the Atlantis group in; it’s like opening the door to a root cellar and going in.  They’re still wet from the shower and were starting to feel the chill of morning, but the fire at the very center of the room is warm and roaring in a good way, snapping and crackling with heat.  Already warming up almost the entire room.  The group looks around at their new digs.  The fire pit is the only lighting in the room.  Everything, everywhere around them is dark… intensely dark.  If it weren’t for the cozy welcoming feeling, it’d be an uncomfortable reminder of last night.  But the team doesn’t feel edgy or like they’re about to be ambushed.  If anything, the fact that John’s eyes, even while doing their initial adjustment from the light outside to the dark in here, can easily detect the lines of the many, many stems of the hay of the roof’s thatching, is a good sign.  Certainly a much better one than random bad guys barreling out of the darkness at you.  Daniel can’t help but notice that their footsteps aren’t making any sounds; now, yes, they are walking slowly but not so slow as to render their steps as muted as they are.  He looks down and sees the firelight reflect off of clumps and ripples of hair, he peers closer and realizes that the ‘carpeting’ over the wood plank flooring is nothing more than animal skins lined around the room.  Daniel really has to focus his eyesight through his glasses’ lens to spot the subtle changes between the dark colored coats of bear, yep he definitely thinks that’s bear, and… horse, okay, he’s not sure how he feels about that, and… wolf, he swallows hard, had there been wolves in the woods the path from the Stargate cut through?…  Teyla’s keen eyes detect the outline of figures from shadows that have their own shadows, she believes she sees people standing there but her finely honed skills do not detect anything aggressive or hostile towards them.  In fact… her nose can detect something refreshingly homey, something not unlike Athosia and New Athos in what she is smelling… and Atlantis as well.  Something that makes her feel at home in such an unfamiliar place.  Ronon’s equally keen eyesight to detect the light of the flames bouncing off the straight, thick, bulky lines of high backed chairs and tall thin wicker baskets all around the perimeter of the room.  His mind instantly jumps to the conclusion that the usual furniture of the room has been moved aside to accommodate their number.  He’s not sure he likes that.  And Rodney looks so damn bored to be in another room that so obviously has no technology in it whatsoever, and didn’t the old woman say there was going to be breakfast in here?  Where, pray tell, is the food?  Seriously, is a buffet table piled high with eggs, sausage, toast, and everything else his little heart could possibly desire too much to ask for?  Really?

Keltoi gestures offeringly at the central bronze-lined cast iron fire pit balancing on a sort of inverted tepee stand of inch-thick, two-foot long cast iron rods and the short, small, simple, rectangular oak stools stationed in a circle around it.  The Atlantis Expedition and Stargate Command representatives go to the stools and sit down on them, Sheppard with Teyla to his right and Rodney next to her and Ronon beside Rodney in addition to Daniel taking up the stool on Sheppard’s left side and Kenmore sitting next to Daniel.  There are still a few more empty stools around the fire.  While they’re wondering who might be joining them other than U’dana, seemingly out of nowhere six servers come up to them with silver trays, polished but not shiny, and laden with a tremendous amount of food.  A whole small chicken, roasted with wonderful smelling herbs, probably rosemary and thyme and a little bit of sage.  A large head of something that bears a striking resemblance to broccoli, nicely steamed to a bright Spring-green and still steaming with the smell of freshly cooked vegetation and whiffs of thoroughly melted sweet cream butter.  There’s also about three fist-sized red-skinned potatoes, halved and quartered and looking and smelling like they were roasted in the drippings of the chicken, fantastic.  And lastly but certainly not least a hot, thick, palm-sized buttermilk biscuit that looked home-style and again steaming with the delicious smell of a pat of sweet cream butter melting between its halves.  The men hand the trays to the SGC personnel who each take them with nods and considerable gratitude.  Teyla thinks she hears her own stomach churn and growl at the sight and smell of what had been calling so gently to her nostrils.  The serving men bow then walk back away, receding once again into the shadows of the room.  Leaving the soldiers to feel as though they’re in their own private little world of a warm hearth in a good home with good food.

Against the far wall, beside a deep cooking fireplace with a massive cast iron kettle boiling with soup in its great fiery depth, opens a doorway and in walks U’dana.  She hasn’t changed clothes since they’d last seen her, she’s still wearing the same elegant clothing and jewelry she had to greet them and during the night long battle.  The chief village Elder walks up to the seated group and this time Keltoi appears out of the room’s shadows with two more silver trays piled high with food.  He steps up to U’dana and she gestures at the stools in front of her.  Keltoi obediently places the trays on the stools, turns and bows at U’dana, she nods back at him, and then he too disappears back into the room’s surrounding shadows along with the other male servers.  U’dana turns her attention to the group.

“Please eat.  You need to after such a battle.”

Immediately Rodney dives in, but the others thank her before they indulge.  U’dana looks into the shadows and nods.  The servers and Keltoi come forward again, this time with silver flagons and tankards, again they’re polished but shiny.  Keltoi again tends to U’dana as the other servers hand the SGC personnel the tankards and then fill the metal mugs almost to the brim with something like a maple-flavored mead before bowing at the group member they’re tending to and again retreating back into the shadows of the room.  Again U’dana nods for Keltoi to put the tankards he’s carrying on the stools with the waiting trays of food, he too fills them almost to the brim, and again bows out into the shadows.

Finally U’dana walks forward to one of the waiting meals.  She lifts up the tray and tankard and sits down on the stool beside the other waiting meal.  The old woman places her tray on her lap and begins to eat daintily.  Rodney, with a mouthful of chicken, gestures at the waiting tray beside her with a handful of tankard.

“Who are we waiting for,” he mushmouths.

U’dana answers, unruffled by the scientist’s thorough lack of table manners, “No one.”

The others freeze and stare at the Elder, except for Daniel and Kenmore who keep eating.

“Why would you leave so much good food for… no one,” the mere thought staggers Teyla.  To her people food is precious.  A sign of being able to survive the beautiful but harsh winter of their homeworld as well as a sign that the Wraith had not culled their numbers in many years.  Food is a sign of prosperity under critical circumstances, she cannot imagine what would make a people, make anyone, leave so much, such extravagance to be squandered like that.

“It is our custom,” U’dana replies as she eats a torn bite of chicken breast.

“Wasting food is your custom,” McKay reprimands sarcastically.

U’dana continues to eat, unfazed, as Daniel answers for her.

“It’s an old Celtic tradition to always keep an extra setting at meal times in case a stranger arrives.  It is your duty to show them hospitality and offer them that place setting.  Hospitality is their custom.”

Reluctantly, the others nod.  They don’t like it, but they sort of understand it.  Sort of… not really… Rodney doesn’t.

“Well that’s just stupid.”

The group rolls their eyes, but ignore him.  There are other things to talk about and Rodney can always be yelled later.  And they hope that the village Elder has encountered in her own group her very own Rodney McKay, and knows their plight and why they’re choosing to not call him out on his ornery behavior right now.

“So that battle… that happen often around here,” Sheppard asks as he tries to tear off a chicken wing without looking like a caveman about it, manners.

“Yes, Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard,” U’dana answers as she gracefully takes a sip of maple mead.

“And why haven’t you done anything about it?”  Ronon asks in his usual gruff accusatory manner.

“We have.  We defend ourselves.”

“And still they attack.  Not much of a defense,” Ronon snidely comments down at his chicken as he rips off the last of legs and begins to devour it while taking up his tankard and gulping down some mead while chewing chicken.

God, John rolls his eyes, ironically enough Ronon’s been spending way too much time around Rodney, apparently especially at meal times…  Great.  Quick turnaround from treating the astrophysicist and the Doc like crap, again Great.

“And who is it exactly that you are fighting,” Teyla asks before taking a sip of maple mead herself and taking on the tone of voice she used when Ronon had embarrassed her during a trading excursion made on behalf of her people, her first such journey with the Satedan.  By the end of that trip, Ronon had killed a dear old friend of his for being a traitor to their people and he had abused and tested Teyla’s friendship with him to the point where she had told him that she will not be so forgiving again, from there on he was on a second chance with her and it was his chance to do what he wished with.  It had been a long while since she had considered their friendship on second chance terms, but still, the idea entered her mind every time his gruff manner showed itself in the presence of people they were negotiating with.

“I think ‘what’ is more like it,” McKay mumbles into the second half of his biscuit before he chops into it.

“The Fomorians,” Kenmore answers out of the blue.

The others look over at her.  Even U’dana does.  The Lieutenant looks up and meets U’dana’s pale, almost icy, blue eyes.

“They are the Fomorians, aren’t they?”  Making sure.

U’dana nods.

“Oh that’s bad,” Daniel says.

“Why?  What,” Sheppard asks.

“The Fomorians were truly heinous warriors in Celtic mythology.  They conducted hideous rapes of women in villages they raided.  They mercilessly slaughtered children, the elderly, women, let alone men.  They showed—“

“No honor,” U’dana finishes for Daniel.  A bitter dark tone in her voice.

“And you put up with them being here?  Put up with them attacking your village more than once?”

U’dana turns to the Satedan, “They have just as much right to be here as we.”

The group, sans Kenmore and Daniel, scoff.  Daniel looks down at his partially eaten meal and half-full tankard and takes a dip drink of the alcohol.  He clearly understands the application of the word ‘courage’ to it and he understands her answer, knows why.

“They are one of the three,” U’dana goes on, reading in Ronon’s dark eyes that her first answer had not been good enough to him.

Sheppard can’t bring himself to take this any more seriously than his friend does either, “One of the three who,” he asks.  Like that’s a good enough reason to let someone attack you like that.  They’re part of a set.  Give me a break.

Again Kenmore doesn’t look up from her tray of food as she answers instead of U’dana, “The Fir-Bolg, the Fomor, and the…,” then she finally looks up again, straight at U’dana for a second time, “Tuatha Dé Danann.”  She finishes.

A smile breaks out on the Elder chief’s face, and Teyla’s heart suddenly aches at the vivid memory of Charin smiling at her as she sang of the Ancients while sitting at Charin’s table drawing swirling childish images of the flowers that grew in the forest near their village.  “Yes, Child of the Tuatha Dé Danann.”

Kenmore starts.  Her shoulders jump and she blinks, her eyes closing then re-opening much wider than they had been.  U’dana’s smile never waivers and she continues.

“We sensed it in your blood the moment you came to this world, but we were not sure you knew it was there.  But then when you spoke the Old Tongue, we knew,” the old woman starts nodding, her smiling making her eyes glitter like little blue-white zirconium in the firelight, “we knew your blood rang true.  You are Sidhe.”

“She who,” McKay asks.

“Not ‘she’ as in the pronoun, Rodney, Sidhe as in the Ancient Celtic faerie people.  The people of magic.”

“The gods,” U’dana adds reverently as she nods.

“Wait, you people think she’s a fairy… or a god?!”  Rodney exclaims gesturing across Teyla with a partially eaten chicken leg at Kenmore.  Barely succeeding in trying to hold in his laughter, but not at all bothering to hold in his cynicism.  Or his sarcasm.

“We know her blood is of their kind.  That is why you have earned access to the information you seek.”

Sheppard, Now we’re getting somewhere.

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” McKay grumbles under his breath.

Slowly Sheppard looks over at Rodney, Would you stop doing that?  It’s creeping me out now.

“You know where the Ark is,” Jackson asks.  Shifting closer to the edge of his stool.  Exigency in his voice.

U’dana nods while pulling a pinch of fluffy biscuit off and raising it to her lips, “Yes, it is one of the many things Myrddin created.”  She eats the morsel.

Everyone straightens up at that.  The Elder takes a bite of some chicken breast meat she tears away from the cooked carcass.  Wait, that’s it?  That’s all she’s going to say?

“You, you know Myrddin,” Daniel fumbles.

“He was born here long ago, Doctor Jackson.”

This blows Daniel’s mind, he gapes down at floor beneath his feet.  He’s sitting here… on… Merlin’s homeworld.  Merlin’s homeworld.  This man that he’s been following for so long, at first because of the Ori and then because of his own want and need and thirst for knowledge.  This man that he’d shared a mind with even if only temporary.  Memories return.  Old ones.  Not his own.  Percival.  Gawain, Daniel smiles slightly, at how Cam Mitchell really does look like the famous knight of King Arthur’s Round Table.  Mordred, who was, yes, just as mouthy and arrogantly insufferable as Ba’al.  And Arthur himself.  So many, many lifetimes.  And here, that has to be why he wasn’t disturbed to see this place when they cleared the forest path from the Stargate.  Why when he’d stepped out of the Stargate onto this world, he’d immediately known about the scouts guarding the Stargate, knew in which direction the village was even though the path to it on the plains was long gone until you got to the forest and the path was still somewhat there.  And how he knew these people.  It wasn’t just Ursula’s mother’s teachings.  It was memory, plain and simple.  He knew it because he remembered it.  Myrddin remembered it.  Most of Myrddin’s memories are gone, but a few have stayed.  Became ingrained in him as his own.  This was home, the place where the illustrious Ancient man had felt the safest, the most comfortable, but it could not keep him here; it was too small.  Daniel felt a deep kinship with that.  That’s why the memory stayed, Daniel hadn’t had a home until Abydos and Sha’re.  But Abydos didn’t keep him for long, when Sha’re was taken by Apophis, he’d gone out into the much larger galaxy to find his now dead wife; Abydos was too small.

Ursula’s brows furrow and she squints at nothing in particular ahead of her.  Something… isn’t… hmmm…

“He left behind many records of his studies.  The Ark is in them.  I can take you to his library if you like,” U’dana offers, sipping mead.

“Yes, yes, we’d love to.” Daniel scoots so close that his butt is barely on his stool anymore.

“There is no ‘we’, I said ‘you’, Daniel Jackson.”

Everyone except Kenmore looks over at him.  Daniel returns the look to Sheppard.  John knows what that expression means, the expectance in the eyes, the waiting.  Mommy, mommy, can I, can I.  John nods at the silently pleading archeologist.  Daniel’s eyes instantly snap back to U’dana.

“Uh, okay, I’d love to.”  Way to try and act nonchalant, like word choice was going to sell that idea.  John smiles as he eats a floret of broccoli.

The Elder statesman nods, sets aside her tray and flagon, half-eaten and mostly drunk, and rises.  They all look up at her.

“We must go now.  There are many books.  It will take time.”

Daniel immediately sets his tray down on the floor beside him along with his flagon and stands up too.

“Sure.  Lead the way.”  Again, way to go.

U’dana turns and starts walking towards the far door beside the fireplace.  Daniel following hotly on her heels, Sheppard’s amazed that the man hasn’t tripped over the old woman’s feet or tripped her up by stepping on her heels yet.  Kenmore’s still quirked eyes follow the aged woman also…

“Where is ‘here’ exactly,” she asks out of nowhere.

U’dana and Daniel stop and turn to look back at her.

“You are on the world Éireann, Child of Nemed.”

Kenmore reacts, but doesn’t let it show.  Her mind piecing more parts of the puzzle together.  She thinks she knows what the overall picture looks like, but she can’t be really sure yet…

“Your ancestors knew it well,” U’dana adds for good measure.

Sheppard’s team looks over at Kenmore.  Something’s up, Sheppard can see it on her face.  She’s putting something together.  And she’s not done with whatever it is yet.

“Thank you, but I actually meant where is this village located exactly?”

“On land.  What type of question is that?”  Sheppard nudges McKay, shushing the blue-eyed scientist, while keeping his pale gray-green eyes focused on the Lieutenant.

“We are on the edge of the plains of Moy Tura.”

“And this village is named?”

“Uisneach.”

“And the Stargate is located where?”

Rodney leans into Sheppard, “Where’s she going with this?”

Sheppard stays silent.

“The Star geata lies on the plain of Royal Tara at the very heart of the plains of Tara.”

Kenmore’s expression changes, not looking at U’dana anymore.  Brows still furrowed, her still narrowed brown eyes aimed slightly down and their gaze distantly trained at nothing in particular ahead of her, but now her head is tilted to the right and she’s biting the inside of her left cheek then the inside of her right cheek then the left again, going back and forth.  Her tongue rolling around the inside of her mouth.  Mulling things over.  Then she starts nodding.  She might be right about the overall picture, but it’s blurry.  The pieces fit right… but not right.  Some things are skewed.  Not fitting as right as they should be.

U’dana and Daniel turn again and leave, U’dana calling the servers and Keltoi with them before shutting the door; leaving Sheppard’s team and Kenmore alone together.

“What is it,” Sheppard immediately demands from her.

“Nothing really,” the Lieutenant shrugs him off, breaking off a chunk of broccoli from the main crown she’s been given and starts eating then adds, talking around a full mouth of green yumminess, “It’s just that there are some things I’m not familiar with.”  She’d add ‘No big deal’, but she’s not sure yet whether or not the discrepancies actually are a big deal.

“Monsters attacking us from the land and the sky, no, there’s nothing unfamiliar there,” Rodney snipes.

Sheppard ignores him, “What do you mean?”

“Well, first of all, I don’t remember anything about the Fomor being aided by flying… mutant… monkey things.  I mean we had dragons back then but they mostly kept to themselves, we were really more their guardians than anything else.”  She takes a swig of mead to wash down the broccoli then tucks back into one of her chicken’s thighs, “God, this is really good,” she muses through another mouthful.  Happily munching on.

“Dragons?  And what is with this ‘we’ stuff?”

Kenmore ignores McKay again, her mind switching back to focusing on the greater issues at hand.  Her eyes aiming once again at the same distant spot that isn’t really there, searching for answers as to why the puzzle picture is so damned fuzzy, “And second, if the gate is on the plains of Tara and this is the Hill of Uisneach then that means that the mountain beyond this village is supposed to be the Palace of Ebony, home of the King of the Fomor.  But it’s a mountain not a palace.”

“Dragons?”  Rodney repeats.

“And what does that mean for us,” Sheppard inquires.

“Mmm, for starters, the Fomorians are gonna attack again,” she goes back to her chicken and a shred of its fantastically crisped skin.

“Yeah, she already told us that,” Ronon tosses in gruffly, eating a hunk of broccoli.

“No,” Kenmore dismisses offhandedly, diving into her biscuit, “I mean they’re going to attack again tonight.”

They stare at her.

“What,” Ronon says blankly.

“They’re going to attack again tonight.  And they’ll keep attacking every night it seems for the foreseeable future.”

“What,” Teyla breathes, “Why would they do that?”  After seeing the damage done already, both to the village’s structures as well as its people, she finds it hard to believe that this village can survive another assault like that again.

“They’re recreating the Second Battle of Moy Tura.  But… it’s like the battle never ends here,” and that’s what’s confusing her most of all.  She’s sure if she can just figure out that one gnawing bit the clarity of the picture might finally come.

“Why don’t they go up the mountain and take the Fomorians out now?  The Fomorians ran away when the light came, they won’t fight in it.  They’re afraid of it.  It’d be easy, but these people just sit here and do nothing.  They let themselves get killed.”  People choosing not to defend themselves always bugged the crap out of Ronon.  He never saw a reason for it.  His people didn’t back down to the Wraith and, yes, they’ve been almost completely obliterated, but that’s ‘almost’, not entirely, and that counts… at least it does to him.

“They can’t do anything,” Kenmore restates with a frustrated sigh in her voice; God why can’t she figure that last little piece out, restating the obvious to these people might be tedious enough for her mind to work better on that, “This land was meant to be split between the three races.  There can be battles, border skirmishes, raids even, but neither of them can invoke an all out war.  No one has that right.  Not since the first and the last time it happened.”

“And what the hell was last night,” he snaps.  Pointing at the front door.  Bullcrap like that spikes his temper.

“For us, a border skirmish actually.”

“Really?”  McKay can’t believe that.  A night long melee with flying animals and their two-legged counterparts is just a little piddling disagreement over whose fence line goes where?  But when Lieutenant Insane Talk doesn’t elaborate on what he thought was obviously a joke to make him rise to some sort of bait, his expression turns serious at her.  “Really,” he asks again, “Seriously?”

Kenmore nods and goes back to her food.  The broccoli really is incredibly good.  Awesome actually.  Probably the best thing out of the whole meal and considering it’s a vegetable that isn’t exactly liked all that well on her planet, which is saying a lot.

John isn’t done with their talk yet though, “What else here is unfamiliar to you?”

“Well, on Earth there were only two battles of Moy Tura.  In the first, Nuada lost his hand and thus his kingship.”

“Why?  Your people don’t respect people wounded in combat defending them?”  Ronon Dex criticizes her.

“No, we have no problem with that.  But the laws created by the kings stated that no one could rule if they were not whole, not sound of mind as well as body.  Losing a hand means you are not whole of body, and, well, after losing his kingship, Nuada kind of went delirious with depression so there basically went the sound of mind bit too.”

“So,” Rodney asks, waving a broken off chicken wing at her in a way that begs the conversation to please move on here, he’s getting bored.

“In the second battle, after he was reinstated as King, after he got the Silver Arm, he died fighting the Evil Eye.”

“What is this Evil Eye,” Teyla asks then takes a draught from her tankard before turning towards her cooled biscuit.  She has never heard of such a being before.

“Well, it’s sort of a creature,” the Lieutenant tries to explain, thinking about it and she tilts her head heavily to the left and her expression becomes even more confused than before.  Now that she thinks about it, it’s actually really hard to explain the Evil Eye, the nickname given to the Worm God.  Really, it is.  The thing was reported to be so surreal.  Where does she even start?…

“Is it one of the flying monkey things?”

“No, Doc McKay, if it was one of the flying monkey things, I would have called the flying monkey things Evil Eyes, not flying mutant monkeys.”

Rodney looks successfully dug at and takes a drink of maple mead to cover it.  But John could tell that that restraint isn’t going to hold for long, Rodney had the look in his eyes.  The irritatingly arrogant man isn’t going to let it drop.  He’ll bide his time and then bring this back to haunt all of them and someone is going to pay for it dearly and everyone is going to be bugged the hell out of.

“Anyways,” Kenmore moves on, “it’s not important so much what the Evil Eye is as who controls it.”

John’s intrigued, “And who would that be?”

“Balor, Balor of the Evil Eye.”

“And how do you know this guy,” John finishes off his mead.  His attention and brain divided between absorbing the Lieutenant’s information and wondering where the servers had left the flagons with more mead in them.

“He’s a cousin.  By marriage.  Well more of a cousin-in-law really.”

“Your cousin,” McKay almost chokes on his mead.

“Historically speaking,” she adds, nodding emphatically.

“And do you expect us to encounter this Balor and his Evil Eye,” Teyla questions, taking another delicate bite of delicious biscuit.

“Well, ya’ see that’s another thing.  Back on Earth, his Grandson killed him, but…,” Kenmore looks around the room again, taking in much more than it’s expanse, taking in the expanse of the entire situation; God damn blurry picture, “enough things are different here that possibly… yeah, I guess.”  She still isn’t sure…

Okay, so she’s got a good handle on all the possibilities that they might be up against otherwise she wouldn’t be so stuck on this.  And that means that Jackson most likely does too.  Good.  They’ve got something to go on.

“Any other helpful intel on this guy,” Sheppard tucks back into his chicken and some more broccoli.  Wow, this is good.  The skin is so crispy and normally he hates broccoli, but it’s gotta be the sweet butter that’s making it mouthwatering.  Why was he missing Atlantis exactly…  Oh, yeah, bloodthirsty, battle frenzied humanoids and their just as pissed off flying buddies.  It certainly isn’t over the food or showers.  Well maybe the showers, at least in Atlantis those are private and you don’t have to keep your clothes on in them in order to clean yourself.  Ironic how privacy to get naked is a bonus.

“Balor was the King of the Fomor during both Battles of Moy Tura, well actually it was Indech but he got killed and Balor was the Fomorian’s spiritual leader so technically Balor wielded more power over the Fomor than Indech, but anyways,” Kenmore obliges him in her own way, “And he’s also been known as Balor of the Strong Blows as well as an incredibly powerful wizard.  It was said that he lived in a palace made up of a single solid piece of obsidian and the shadows of the Otherworld itself.”

“Oh let me guess, the Otherworld means Hell,” McKay manages around a combination of mead and chicken breast.  He’s almost cleaned his plate… like Ronon.

“Worse,” Ursula puts the last bite of her biscuit in her mouth.

At that the astrophysicist has to beg to differ, “What could possibly be worse than Hell?”

“Purgatory, the In-between, and all the levels of Hell combined into one along with the Void.”

“Wait.  ‘Void’.  Which ‘Void’,” Rodney freezes with his mouthful half chewed.  ‘Oh shit’ being the next optimum phrase to pass his lips if what he fears she’s going to say she says.

“I don’t think it’s the Ascended Void, but…,” God damn it, that’s another thing that’s off kilter and it’s starting to nag the hell out of her too now that it’s occurred to her.  The picture blurs even further.  Distorting in her mind’s eye.  Aww crap, she’s never going to see it clearly, is she?

“You’re not sure,” Sheppard states unequivocally.  Sucks doesn’t it?

Still trying to figure things out, still trying to see how the pieces could possibly fit, can fit, should fit, Ursula starts shaking her head, “No.  I’m not.”… she thinks… maybe… she genuinely isn’t sure…

“Oh great,” Rodney throws up his hands.

“Is there anything else ‘wrong’ that we should know about,” Ronon demands, finishing off his tankard.

Again she doesn’t know how to answer when a knock comes from the front door.

“Come in,” Rodney shouts without missing a beat.

Everybody winces and looks at him like ‘Really, Rodney?’  He looks back at John and says out loud, “What?”  He doesn’t see what the problem is.

John doesn’t know where to begin as Major Evan Lorne enters.

“Hey, Colonel, Urs.  I hope you guys are done eating ‘cause we could really use your help out there,” he informs them.

Ursula nods.

“Sure, Major, where do you need us,” John isn’t exactly done yet but he supposes he could wolf some more down real quick… and stuff his pockets… and walk out of here with the rest of his food in each hand.  Yeah, that could work.

“Actually you should talk to Doctor Keller about that, she’s the one ordering everybody around,” Lorne answers.

They nod… and Evan picks up on the mood from everyone.

“Is there something I should know about, Sir,” he asks cautiously.  His eyes going from face to face.  Looking for unspoken hints.

Before Sheppard can answer…

“Yeah, there’ll be a lot more injured and wounded by tomorrow morning,” Ursula chimes in as she stands up after just having set her tray and tankard aside, mostly-eaten and mostly-drank.  She stretches as though waking from a refreshing nap.

“So the usual then,” Evan quips.

Ursula nods as she yawns at the limits of her stretch.

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