Episode Five- Bloodline- Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

Kenmore, wide-eyed and breathless, tentatively reaches out for the book like a child being shown an amazing thing then encouraged to touch it but is afraid to. U’dana willingly extends it forward and puts the tome in her hands. Ursula snatches it and presses it close to her body like said child given a precious treasure. When she does finally ease up on her grasp enough to pull the opened book away from her chest to look down at its picture, Daniel pours over her shoulder at the picture as well.

John and his team look at them like their freaks.

“Didn’t you say this Nuada got the Silver Arm and it made him king again,” Ronon asks, kind of bored with this, then finishes off his tankard.

“Where is it,” Ursula demands. Her eyes shooting up and staring straight at U’dana.

“The Fomorians took the Airged Lámh many hundreds of years ago in one of their raids. We believe that it lies in the Black Mountain,” the old woman answers. Her tone equally imperative. Staring intently back at Ursula.

“But why would they take it,” Daniel asks. That doesn’t make any sense.

“We do not know.”

“And you say it’s probably in the Black Mountain,” Ursula reconfirms.

Daniel looks at her. So does Sheppard. Both men know what that means.

“Urs, you can’t.”

“Daniel,” she looks at him, “You know it’s not a choice.”

Daniel stares at her as Sheppard gets up from his seat to join them.

“She is right,” the three look at U’dana but her focus is still on Kenmore, “One of the other Elders, Epona, is already preparing a horse for you. The journey will take the rest of the day’s time as well as the night’s, the morrow’s day, and its night as well. The beast cannot take you all of the way, but it can take you some of it. That will gain you some time. May Those That Have Gone Before guide you, Child of the Sky Riders.”

Ursula nods. U’dana immediately turns, leaving. Kenmore following right on the old lady’s heels.

“Hey,” Sheppard yells. It’s loud enough to make Daniel flinch right next to him.

The two women abruptly stop and look back at him.

“She’s not going anywhere.”

“She has no choice, Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard, it’s in her blood.”

Sheppard eyes Kenmore, truer words have probably never been spoken. The whole reason Kenmore is here in this galaxy, here as part of his team is because of what’s in her blood… and her son’s blood. A fact which Woolsey and the IOA keep slapping in her face in order to make the Lieutenant go along with missions and play their game. But at least in this matter, the Lieutenant looks like she’s willingly going along with this. Okay, two choices…

“She’s not going anywhere without us,” he amends.

His team exchange looks behind him as U’dana and Kenmore exchange looks in front of him. The doubt circulating like a piece of gossip. The old woman’s eyes return to John Sheppard.

“Very well,” she sounds as thrilled with this as Ronon looks, if John would look behind him at his best friend to see it, “It will take us a little time to prepare steeds for the rest of you.”

Teyla rises from the table, leaning forward on it, “But what of your people? The Fomorians will attack again tonight and tomorrow night and many of your people are injured now and many more may join that number. If we leave—”

“Do not fear, Teyla Emmagan of the Athosians, we have many ways of defending ourselves.”

“Actually,” John pipes up, scratching the back of his head in that casual way that means he doesn’t really have an itch but rather a notion that might be a bit on the crazy harebrained side, “I think I’ve got an idea on lending you a hand with that.”

U’dana and the others look at him.

*                      *                      *

A big and grayish-black draft horse stands in the middle of the village, no saddle, huge and beautiful. A young man stands beside it holding small packs of extra food, flasks of drink along with a fire starting kit, and another small satchel of medicines meant to be attached to Lieutenant Kenmore’s tactical vest. The Atlantis group walks up to the horse. The man holds the packs out to Kenmore.

“These are for your travels, Lieutenant Kenmore,” he tells her. Apparently she’s already made a name for herself in the village or at least he was given her description.

She nods and takes the packs from him. Then kneels down, unsnaps and takes off her vest, and begins tying on the packs and medicine satchel in any free spot she can on the sides and back of the vest. Rodney watches her do it in disbelief.

“Please tell me you’re kidding. You have got to be kidding me. We are not actually doing this, are we? Look people we are not Frodo and friends. We are not a merry band of hobbits and I don’t know about you, but,” he points at the distant mountain, “I am not storming Mount Doom.”

U’dana comes out of the woodlands behind Ursula’s horse with the other Elders, leading a group of four other large draft horses also without saddles. This time U’dana and the Elders are carrying more small packs and medicine satchels. A grouping of bags for each of the mission members. Quietly, they hand the bags over to the mission members as Rodney gripes about the horses.

“Where did those come from? You can’t possibly tell me they’ve been here all along. Let alone did we not hear them when we were walking all the way here, we didn’t even smell them either.”

Daniel realizes he was wrong. Being on a mission with Jack was actually preferable to this. He keeps tying the packs to his vest as do the rest of Sheppard’s team, Rodney included, “Keeping their horses in the forest gets the animals familiar with the terrain as well as their manure usually creates incredibly fertile soil for plant and fungi growth.” His second nature is to add ‘Jack’ to the end of that, but he catches himself before the name leaves his lips.

McKay’s head snaps up with an especially foul glare for Daniel alone as the astrophysicist continues tying his packs onto his vest. He hadn’t actually cared to get a response, he didn’t actually care why these animals were in the forest. He’d been hoping to put the idea of how ridiculous and out of nowhere all of this is and how they should reconsider all of this. They came here to find the Ark of the Covenant, that was their treasure hunt. And in a way they did find it. They found out that SG-1 had already found the Ark of the Covenant years ago. Going on this new treasure hunt for some pretty bracelet is just stupid. A complete waste of both time and manpower. Like he said, they are not hobbits and no one here is Frodo.

They all put their tactical vests back on. It wasn’t the sound of the zippers zipping up, but the loud clicks of their vests’ snaps that made the Canadian’s shoulders sink without any hope of getting out of going to this Black Mountain of Death in search of the Pretty Bracelet of Power thing.

“We do not have enough horses to spare for all of you, only the five. Two of you will have to ride two upon one horse,” the pale-skinned Elder with hair so blonde it appears almost white, Epona, informs them. John, his team, and Jackson start at the meek sounding voice of the young girl. It’s clear that she hadn’t been believed to have been an Elder when she gathered in front of them with the other village women. John, and he wasn’t alone in this, thought she was an aid to one of the women like Keltoi was to U’dana. But no, this young girl, she looks to be about what sixteen, John definitely doubts that she’s eighteen, is in fact an Elder.

Her long, slightly wavy, white hair is pulled partially back from her round face by reins of hair woven into braids then joined at the back of her head by a strand of tan leather. Making her dark eyebrows stand out on her face and their not alone. Her eyes are far more piercing with their baby blue color than U’dana’s pale ones ever thought of being and in the quiet intensity of those eyes, they can see the spirit of an Elder. And her clothes remind them of Teyla’s Athosian sparring outfit but of rougher and more homespun quality than what the Athosians have. A dark brown rough linen halter top with a couple of orange-colored bands woven in to frame beneath her small breasts and coming to a point over her fit stomach accessorized with a thin bronze ring pierced at an angle over her heart. Paired with a wrap skirt with ragged edges of beige tanned animal hide that ran from her waist down to just below her calves and that split in front more than enough to show her dark brown leather skin tight trousers. What added to the memory of Teyla’s sparring outfit is Epona’s outfit’s belt. It’s a simple band of off-white, ragged-edged, animal hide bound to her petite but spectacular frame with two thin bronze belts, the top one made of half circles side by side and the bottom one made of bars lined up side by side. Finishing off the outfit are pale beige, mid-calve high boots wrapped at the ankle with two thick strips of color-matching leather. She might be small and young, but she is something to see.

However Rodney McKay is focusing on making his point even more with this new opportunity.

“Oh great. See, see, this is what I’m talking about. Which one of us knows how to ride a horse?”

He’s being flippant but both Sheppard and Kenmore raise their hands… then, hesitantly, Daniel and Ronon. Everyone fixates on Ronon.

“Okay, the Ivy League I understand, even Indiana Jones here,” Daniel frowns at him, but McKay’s oblivious to it, “but… there were horses on Sateda?

“They were like horses,” Ronon manages.

The others stare at him in continuing confused silence, but Boudica draws their attentions back.

“We suggest that you use your knives and sword. Quiet weapons will work best, the obsidian of the Black Mountain’s interior creates deafening echoes otherwise.”

“How do you know what it sounds like in there?”

She turns her fierce, extraordinarily emerald green eyes on McKay, “A few have survived the Mountain and returned to tell us their tale before they perished here in the arms of their countrymen and homes.”

“Oh,” he nods at her, feeling the hint of being a jackass, then looks over at the horses.

“So,” Sheppard moves on, “got any saddles or ladders we could use to get up there?” He was used to quarter horses and standards, the typical show jumpers, but these behemoths are very, very different creatures.

Daniel casually turns his head towards John, trying not draw too much attention to his quietly informing Sheppard that, “These particular Celtic tribes didn’t use saddles. They rode bareback.”

John tries to be equally covert, “Then how about those ladders?”

And now Daniel misses Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell too.

Ursula walks up to her appointed horse and with a gentle pat on its nose…

“Down please Sweetheart.”

Rodney prepares to scoff until the horse actually politely kneels down on all fours like a camel waiting to be mounted. He gawks, they do that?!

Kenmore glances back at Sheppard with a smirk. He simpers back at her in an ‘Oh laugh it up’ sort of look, then he heads for another horse. A piebald. He’s not sure how to do this exactly. To add to the awkward feeling, now he knows how Harry Potter felt in front of the hippogriff, only a heck of lot less scared for his life despite the horse’s massive size and a lot more ridiculous because it is after all only a horse.

“Hey Buddy…,” God he feels stupid doing this, “can we, uh, hitch a ride?”

Without hesitation, his horse kindly kneels into a camel position for him. Sheppard looks over at Kenmore and smirks back. See, I can do it too.

Kenmore climbs onto her horse’s back and pats it’s shoulder, the gentle giant carefully rises much smoother than any camel she’s ever been on or seen that’s finally been mounted by its rider. The tall, wondrous draft horse stands at its full height of well over six feet. Sheppard climbs onto his horse but before patting its shoulder, he looks over at the rest of his team and Daniel.

“Okay, so Teyla’s with me and Rodney can be with Doctor Jackson and Ronon can have his own horse.”

Teyla starts for Sheppard as U’dana smiles up at Kenmore.

“Chase an ghaoth, Tuatha Dé Danann,” she tells her.

Kenmore eyes the woman… then slowly a sly smile pulls her lips upward. Sheppard suddenly freezes in mid-reach for Teyla at the sight of Kenmore. He knows that look. Dammit he knows that look.

“Kenmore,” he warns.

Teyla freezes. She looks over at the Lieutenant too. Not quite understanding yet but seeing the potential danger that the Lieutenant always manages to bring with her on missions.

The Lieutenant’s mischievous brown eyes shift to looking at the ridgeline out of the village… towards the Black Mountain.

“Kenmore.”

Suddenly Ursula latches onto the animal’s mane and yells, “Yah!”

The giant horse immediately bolts. The ground vibrating with the thunder of its hard pounding hooves.

“Dammit!” Teyla dives back to the others as Sheppard spurs his horse to its feet and charges after Kenmore. Latching onto its mane for dear life. Crap, it’s harder to stay on one of these things than any of the horses back on Earth.

The left behind horses start rearing and shrieking urgent whinnies as they stare at the sudden dust cloud, wanting to join their galloping friends.

Fearing for her small size compared to the beasts, Ronon yanks Teyla back even further from the anxious steeds.

Daniel quickly runs over to the nearest horse, “Please down.”

The horse eagerly obliges him. Daniel quickly hops on and reaches out, “Teyla!”

She doesn’t hesitate to join him on his horse. It’s a struggle but she manages to get on by a combination of her own zeal to follow and a yank by Jackson. Teyla immediately wraps her arms around his waist and clings to his back as the horse instantly rears ungainly back onto its feet. The horse bolts. Daniel barely latches onto the chestnut mane for both human lives. His knuckles go white as what a bad grip he has manages to hold. Through gritted teeth he warns Teyla, “Hold on tight!”

He feels her head mashed against his back nod. She squeezes her body closer to his. The horse races on.

Ronon rushes over to the last horse left.

“Down,” he orders it.

It doesn’t. He stares at it.

“Down,” he repeats.

Again nothing.

With a roll of his eyes, he gets it. “Please,” he grumbles.

The horse quickly obeys. More out of its eagerness than his.

He gets on, making a mental note to be sure he’s polite the next time so he can get this done faster. He reaches over. Yanks Rodney on after him. As soon as McKay’s on, their mount scrambles to its feet and charges off after its friends.

U’dana, Boudica, Epona and the rest of the Elders smile at the Lantean group’s dramatic exit, seeing the humor in the young.

*                      *                      *

The horses gallop single-file through the heart of the village, sending villagers scattering backward out of their way. Oddly enough from what Sheppard can glimpse as he blurs past them, the people don’t look exactly surprised to see them nor how fast their going. Ursula’s horse leaps over the semi-cliff drop-off that marks the bottom edge of the village, landing easily on the heather laden small field beneath, and charging on with Ursula letting out a hooraying whoop. Sheppard’s horse makes the gallant jump and John falls forward and clings to the beast until it lands. His eyes just barely catch sight of the others’ horses making the same leap and the others acting like John before his horse dashes after Kenmore’s lead steed.

It’s a matter of seconds before the herd finds their own personal path through the forest. Carefully avoiding the clearly trodden-down one obviously made by the Fomorians last night. Living in the woodlands is clearly an asset in more ways than just fertilizer and simply being comfortable with being in the forest in the first place, it also apparently makes the animals far better at navigating the terrain than the people, following their own path rather than any obviously manmade one. Leaving the animals to operate off of a body and brain automatic GPS and the humans riding them to focus on fighting. The best teaming up ever.

The stampede is sensory assaulting. John’s eyes catch but it’s a few moments before his brain processes lichen… on thick rocks… birch trees… oaks… ashes… shrubs… that are spindly. Kenmore’s horse bounds again over a downed tree and John peeks the freedom of the leap before he plasters himself against his horse again in prep for the scary-ass jump. The flight is high, smooth, elegant. Like breathing in fresh air.   Once again Sheppard hears Kenmore’s voice over the roaring of wind in his ears: she’s laughing. Full and more ecstatic than any he’s ever heard from her before. Freer.

*                      *                      *

It’s bright and as vernal green as any springtime day spent hunting Easter eggs. It might be described in a word as blissful. In a phrase, a breath of fresh air. Air free from smoke, free from death, free from war. None of that seems to have touched anywhere beyond the limits of the village’s hill’s crest. Hasn’t touched out this far.

The initial surge of adrenaline is ebbing, being replaced by some semblance of comfort riding the giant beasts and the wherewithal to keep the horses at a fast pace but not the dead out charge that the creatures had chosen to run at during Kenmore’s moment of chasing mischief.

John Sheppard and his team glare at the back of the young Lieutenant, resenting the hell out of Kenmore’s bolting, but for different individual reasons. Ronon for being stuck with McKay in the most uncomfortable circumstance they’ve been in together to date—and that is saying a lot considering that the first time they found each other trapped together, just the two of them, had been after waking up in cocoons that the Wraith keep their waiting human foodstuffs in while traveling on a hiveship. Rodney, for him having to be on one of these damn things in the first place. He isn’t even going to dignify any of this by calling them horses, they are massive, berserk, four-legged psychopaths. Sheppard, for that fact that his having to chase after Kenmore meant that Teyla’s riding with Daniel instead of him and John has to begrudgingly and uncomfortably admit to himself that his long held, deep crush on the beautiful and kind Athosian leader made him really, really want her to ride that close and hold on that tight to him—despite her having what other Expedition members were more and more often referring to as a ‘husband’. John knows exactly why he can’t bring himself to call Kanaan anything other than Teyla’s partner until he absolutely has to.

The group continues galloping through the forest. McKay’s really doubting that their thundering approach isn’t alerting someone in that stupid distant mountain that they’re coming when all of a sudden Kenmore’s four-legged psychopath bucks. She barely manages to hold on as her horse refuses to go any further. As the rest of the group comes up beside her, their horses also suddenly rail against going any further. Forcing a halt at the exact same point. Every single one of the lined up creatures flatly refusing to go any farther.

“What the hell is wrong with these things?” Rodney clings to Ronon’s back. And if the scientist digs his nails into his body any deeper, the Satedan’s going to buck him off himself and the horse can just deal with not getting the chance.

The group looks around for any signs of what’s riling the horses. The forest is dense around them. A solid wall of bright brilliant green everywhere they look except up… but there’s a difference in the foliage. Kenmore hops down off her ride—well due to the horse’s height, it’s less hop and more blind leap of faith and a hope to land safely and softly on her feet—staring straight ahead at where the horse refuses to go.

“What is it,” Sheppard asks, spotting the Look again.

“It’s ivy. Climbing ivy and lots of it.”

The rest of them peer. She’s right. It’s a subtle difference in leaf design and formation, but it is climbing ivy. Daniel takes one of Teyla’s chilled hands from clenching tightly around his waist and guides it down to the horse’s mane, she takes the hint and clutches the beast’s coarse reddish-brown hair as Daniel also jumps/leaps off his horse. Leaving Teyla still on it as he goes to look at what his friend might have found.

The Lieutenant and Doctor walk up to a part of the foliage that seems to be just another wall of leaves with this odd sort of pillar-like shape of solid ivy leaves running up through the middle of it. Even though they’re on an alien planet, hell not even one in their own home galaxy at least, it strikes both SGC members as both an odd and unusual growth formation. On Earth it means only one thing. Daniel and Kenmore reach out and start pulling the ivy apart to see what it’s climbing.

The stone column hiding behind is thick, about two and a half feet, and stretching up above their heads to a slab of stone that, as Daniel moves a few steps over, comes across three feet and, he pulls more ivy out of his observing way, is balancing it’s other end atop another stone column. The height coming to total over six and a half feet. The megalith is impressive… and very familiar.

“It’s a henge,” he reports.

Rodney tries to angle around Ronon’s imposing athletic form for a look, “What, as in Stonehenge?”

Daniel continues to peruse the rock, feeling the stress induced tightness of this entire mission in his shoulders ebbing away, his breathing shallowing, and a calm sense of serenity washing over his mind like the warm lapping waters of a hot comforting bath. This is his element, “Yes in a way. You see a henge actually refers to the geological formation,” he looks closer at the texture of the stone itself, “There seem to be symbols etched into the stone. They’re weather worn, but they are here.”

Sheppard climbs down off his horse too, barely, “Could it be writing,” he asks, heading over to the two.

“No, it’s not Ogham,” Daniel answers.

“Ogham,” Teyla asks, still holding onto the animal with small prayers that it did not do anything while Doctor Jackson or John nor any of her other friends were not near enough to her to provide any help.

“That’s what our written language is called,” Kenmore answers.

Rodney gets off the horse, more like falling off it even with Ronon trying to help him get down safely, “‘Our’?”

Oh God, is he really going to start that again…

“Yes, our. They’re my mother’s people. They’re mine too.” And God help you, if you start in about it one more time.

“They are not your mother’s people.”

Before Ursula can turn around and start laying into him, Daniel pipes up as he continues analyzing the stone pillar, “Actually she’s right. U’dana must be a form of the name Danu, the name of the mother Goddess to which the Tuatha Dé Danann get their name, the Children of Danu. And U’dana did refer to Ursula as her child so it does stand to reason that no matter how many generations in between them Ursula is one of U’dana’s descendants and therefore considered one of her children. So, yes, they are her mother’s people and subsequently Urs’s as well.”

Ronon dismounts too and walks over to Teyla. He reaches up to her, she thankfully reaches back, and the Satedan takes hold of her tiny waist and helps the small Athosian woman down gently and carefully. He can sense in the tautness of her body and how she’d, at least for her demeanor, practically leapt into his arms when he’d made the offer to help her down was terrified and looked at his help as some sort of rescue. Horses, he guesses, especially ones as large as these, are an acquired taste, an acquired skill. They join Sheppard watching the other two Cheyenne Mountain-ers.

“Do the symbols mean anything,” Rodney asks as he walks closer, coming up to form a line with his teammates.

Well at least he’s off the stuff about Ursula’s heritage, Daniel sighs, “That’s why I’m looking, Doctor McKay.”

Kenmore walks back over to her horse. Its blue eyes look at her.

“You can go back now, all of you. They need you.”

Amazingly her horse nods at her and it and its companions turn and gallop off again. Racing back to the village. Sheppard’s team starts. Ronon glowers at Kenmore while simultaneously watching the horses’ behinds charge further and further away from them, always the combative multi-tasker. Teyla is probably the only one relieved to see the massive beasts leave them, but her attentive eyes and tense musculature pulled so tight over her cheekbones along with her tight jawline shows that the horses’ fleeing is all that she is feeling better about. Her body facing the Lieutenant and the Athosian’s mind wondering what the younger woman was planning. Meanwhile Sheppard can’t believe his eyes, he turns his head slightly as though to beg the question ‘Excuse me?’, but he doesn’t say a thing. His pinched and furrowed brows, confused eyes, and agape mouth say everything all at once. Rodney lowers his head, taking a moment to try and stopper the meltdown he wants to have, but he gives voice to what all of his team is thinking.

“What did you do that for?!”

Kenmore walks back to Daniel and the henge without rushing and walking her usual somewhat nonchalant walk that hinted of Sheppard’s laissez-faire, hands-in-his-pockets swagger but stiffer with a stronger more mission-based attitude, “U’dana said they couldn’t take us all of the way. Apparently this is as far as they go.”

“Just because they won’t go around some rocks, you send them away?”

She doesn’t look back at McKay, “They’re not just rocks.”

Daniel tries to angle for a better look at one of the symbols, “Henges, no matter where they appear, are considered holy sites. Somehow animals sense this and refuse to infringe upon the location. They’ll go around it, but they’ll do everything they can not to enter it. Like it or not, we’re on foot from here on out.”

“But we just started,” Rodney complains. It’s not like he’d liked riding on the steroid enraged super horses, but their speed sure as hell beat walking.

Teyla has to agree with Rodney and looks back at the path they already travelled. She can see the village’s edge far away. Much farther away than she had expected to see it. She looks back at her team, “And yet we have already travelled a great distance.”

Ronon looks back too and analyzes the same details she has. He nods, “Stride length.”

His friends stare at him again and this time it’s Ronon’s turn to shrug at them like nothing he’s said has been in any way weird for him to be saying at all.

“Are there anymore of these henges around,” Sheppard asks. Just like Rodney he had expected a far longer ride than that no matter how unpleasant. But unlike McKay, if this is their stop, and he’s okay with it because he’d felt his own horses definite hesitation and knew it had nothing to do with the possibility that Kenmore had called that shot, then Sheppard wants to know what’s ahead of them. And creepy unnatural stone formations that animals stay the hell away from at all costs is most assuredly a ‘what’s ahead of them’ that he wants to know about.

“If how they appear on Earth is anything to go by, yes. Concentric circles of them. But…,” Daniel straightens up and starts looking around their immediate area, “I’m not seeing any more climbing ivy nearby. We could be on the outer rim of one of the larger circles which would mean that the next henge could be anywhere from ten feet to a hundred feet away on either side of this one,” he looks over his glasses back at Sheppard, “These things can have diameters that stretch for miles. If we try to go around, there’s a good chance that we could go hours perhaps days out of the way. We’d lose whatever time U’dana and the other Elders were trying to give us by letting us use the horses.”

Sheppard and his team looks left… then right. Oh great. Got that wrapped up in a nice little bow there huh?

Kenmore moves some of the other leaves aside from the henge’s other side and starts walking forward. As she does, Daniel brushes aside some leaves on his side and starts forward also.

Sheppard may not be able to say anything to Doctor Jackson, but he can sure as hell say something to the Lieutenant, “Hey, hey, hey, where do you think you’re going?”

Kenmore and Daniel stop and look back at Atlantis’s flagship team with their leader front and center.

“Forward,” the Lieutenant answers like isn’t that obvious, painfully obvious.

“Look, I know you probably haven’t read the mission report yet, but Sheppard and I were helping this kid named Harmony and in the forest on her planet there were these stones, her people called it a shrine. But it wasn’t a shrine, it was a weapons testing ground and the weapon being tested fired hundreds of miniature drones.”

“Are you saying that those stones looked like these ones,” Daniel gestures at the henge. Instantly curious.

“No, but what I am saying is that those stones had Ancient writing on them and that helped tell me a lot about what the shrine was. We don’t know if these stones are telling us something we need to know.”

“There are. They’re telling us to keep going.” Kenmore disappears back into the forest.

Daniel agrees, he turns and disappears as well.

The team looks at each other. John can see it in all their eyes.

“You know what? I am fed up with this crap. She says things and then just goes off. And we follow her. Why do we follow her?” Rodney snaps.

Suddenly Kenmore pokes her head back out from in between some leaves and ivy, “Because I usually find crap and which one of you is going to pass up the chance to watch me be the guinea pig for testing the crap out.” Her head disappears behind the foliage again.

The team looks at each other again. This time John sees something new in their eyes. There’s still frustration there and uncertainty in seemingly constantly following the young Lieutenant’s reckless lead, but now there’s also what has become another staple of their missions with her: she has a point. Even Ronon’s eyes are willing to follow her now, although John thinks he can attribute that to the guinea pig testing thing more than anything else.

For his part, John feels that there’s something else going on here, something none of them have been told about. Something like the Lieutenant is playing into either Woolsey’s hands or the Ancients’… or both. After all, these people are Ancients. Maybe not the Morgan Le Fay sort but definitely the Merlin sort and, to him, there isn’t much difference between the two. Camelot was their personal little battleground. Nope, John’s thinking Kenmore’s getting played here but she’s so starry-eyed or distracted by the thoughts and memories of an obviously beloved mother and how much her people, these Tuatha Dé Danann, mean to her that she either can’t see that she’s getting played or she isn’t acknowledging it. And with what happened between he and she on the last mission, something unexpected and yet entirely expected has come up in him. He’s feeling protective of her. She’s brought up too many of his past memories in him so vividly that he’s not sure he can help it. And if the Ancients are playing her, they’re leading both Kenmore and Jackson into something really bad and it’s going to be up to him and his team to follow them and save them both from let alone whatever it is the Ancients have in store for them but also themselves. Sheppard gets his grip comfortable on his P-90 and nods at his team. They nod back. He turns and walks into the foliage right behind Kenmore.

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