Episode Six- The West Pier- Chapter Six

Chapter Six

The medieval-styled village bears a striking resemblance to the one Ronon found and killed Kel on, well, if any of the team members had been there with Teyla and Ronon when that had happened. Without that particular point of reference, the team members can only compare it to the planet on which some of them helped Teyla track down a vendor reselling Kanaan’s necklace and other Athosian personal items while the Athosian people were missing. How familiar. Thick stone fortification everywhere beyond the thatched domiciles. Thick, tall wooden beams, the same color as the stone, providing support throughout the city walls. Colorful pennant-shaped party strings dangling from one rooftop to another, from one overhang to the next. Like the town does nothing but hold renaissance fairs all the time. A constant state of festival. The villagers, dressed as though their playing their festival parts, mill around and talk to each other. A jovial array of rich gemstone colors like sapphire, ruby, plum, and emerald in combination with neutrals like beige, cream, brown, and black. Some with hats shaped like deflated chef’s toques, some were berets, and others were caps, just to name a few of the styles.

The obvious nonconformists stand out like sore thumbs, Major Evan Lorne and his team. From what the gray-colored uniformed team can observe as they stroll through the main part of the shopping area, choosing to stop beside one of the vendors touting wares as they’d done with a few handfuls of other vendors’ booths, they’ve most likely stumbled into the typical market day for the village. And the planet’s native people as well as its visitor’s, like Lorne’s team, are enjoying nicely. The team peruses the nearby vendor more intimately as their eyes scan the crowd, aiming to spot who might be the particular villager they’re looking for from the photo material supplied to them by the Gate Team Secretary, the Gate Team Director, and his Deputies. A young man that looks rather conspicuously similar to Kelore from Colonel Sheppard’s team’s tribunal last year. Reported to be his rather aimless and somewhat shiftless younger brother named Adame. Beach bum blonde hair cut short like his prestigious big brother with heartthrob blue eyes and a rakish demeanor to match. He’s the total package of every bad boy quality that a daydreaming girl would fall for in the instant of a roguish grin and charming wink of a single eye. It’s Lorne who spies the aimless, shiftless wonder first.

“Is that our guy,” he asks his team under the covert guise of appearing to be talking about the goods.

One of his other marines, a newbie that had come through the gate the same day Lieutenant Kenmore had, named Schiff casually turns like he’s just lookin’ around. The equally as young as their suspect Atlantis officer that’s temporarily filling the vacancy on Lorne’s team while one of his men is away on paternity leave back on Earth easily spots Adame too. He turns back to his new team leader.

“Yes, Sir.”

Lorne nods, “Good.” It always good to keep the new ones on their toes and on the ball, a little extra on-the-job training.

With that Evan turns to the plump, middle-aged vendor that reminds him of the Pillsbury Doughboy with a bushy mustache whose stall they’re standing in front of, selling wooden trinkets. Evan picks up one of the more common trinkets, a small ebony jewelry box. He looks it over for a moment then holds it up to get the vendor’s attention.

“Eh, uh, how much for this?”

“We do not deal in currency here,” the vendor scolds him gruffly, “We trade.”

Evan again thinks it over for a moment then searches himself for something, anything to trade. And comes up with a few ornately carved Athosian wooden buttons made courtesy of Halling out of one of his pants pockets, never knew when those would prove handy. Lorne holds them out to the annoyed renaissance doughboy.

“Will these do,” the Major asks.

The vendor looks the small offerings over in Lorne’s semi-cupped hand… then takes them.

“For that, yes.”

“Don’t make it too hard for me there,” Evan smiles at him.

“Do you want the box or not?” The man gets testy.

The Major quickly backtracks, “No, no, I do.”

“Then do not complain.”

Lorne shrugs it off and holds up the box again. “Thanks,” he says.

Pillsbury shrugs at him and goes back to trying to beckon other potential buyers with better stuff to trade over to his stall. A lopsided smile returns to Lorne’s face as he turns away from the booth and hands Schiff the box.

“There you go, Schiff, a souvenir of your first offworld mission in the Pegasus Galaxy. Congratulations.”

Lorne, Schiff, and the rest of his team smile, laughing at their newcomer. Reed and Coughlin slap the young man on the back as Evan leads his team further down the main lane towards a reported local ‘watering hole’. As they wind their way through the mix of people, Schiff slips his thumb up under one of his lower front tactical vest pocket flaps and slides his thumb across to open it. The sound of the Velcro strips separating getting lost in din of the throng. The first-time rookie slips his hand discreetly inside the compact canvas pocket and removes a small circular device from it. While his teammates are distracted by the conversation of the approaching easy-going time over a drink until their contact arrives, Schiff plays the spy game by covertly slipping the circular device into the small ebony jewelry box. His smile broadens as his fingertips feel how perfectly the device fits in the box. He closes it and quickly slips it into his pants pocket while his other hand smoothes the vest’s pocket sealed again. Finally paying attention again to his team’s rookie, Reed wraps a muscular arm around the thin kid’s shoulder and begins grandly gesturing towards the bar still up ahead but whose interior volume can plainly be heard spilling out into the street. The team’s second-in-command starts explaining to the junior team member the wonders that are awaiting him in an alien pub.

Except Schiff’s movements weren’t quite as James Bond as he’d thought they were…

Adame Va’lar keenly watches the Lantean team’s progress through the field of habitants and sees the gate team enter the drink house. Right on cue, the young Litiran casually blends into the flow of people and makes his way over to the trinket vendor.

“Good day friend,” the once gruff-voiced vendor greets him with a voice like Pavarotti and all the smiles and good manners he hadn’t given the Lantean soldiers, overflowing with graciousness, “Surely a young man such as yourself has a fine lady to woo somewhere. May I induce you to purchase a lovely necklace for her lovely neck or perhaps a fine pair of earrings to frame her lovely face?”

His sausage-like stubby fingers hold up two dangling pendant earrings so delicately carved that the look more like they’re made out of a fine golden-brown lace rather than wood. Truly a superb specimen of craftsmanship. A fine set. Any woman would be honored to receive those… just not any woman Adame knows is worth that price. The women he knows are usually the more, well… definitely less expensive. His elder brother would say cheap.

Adame, no stranger to this tact of selling and buying, nonchalantly looks over the rest of the eager man’s wares. It’s an impressive array, but he’s interested in what he’s not seeing on the tables of the stall.

“What about those offworlders,” he questions. His fingertips indifferently brushing back and forth over the grain of a large wooden box whose ornamentation comes from the rainbow-like variety of colors it naturally grows in and has been polished to heighten the beauty of. “Did you use those lines on any of them?”

The happy vendor’s demeanor dims, turning disgruntled again.

“Them, they wanted nothing. Just waiting around to meet with a friend of theirs.”

Young Va’lar starts smiling as he continues to feign looking over the vendor’s goods, “Is this friend a woman?”

“No. A man,” the portly man harrumphs. Clearly men giving gifts to women, whether expensive or cheap, is this man’s primary clientele. Men waiting around till their friend shows up so they can get drinks at the bar is not.

“How deeply disappointing for you,” Adame muses.

“Indeed. And they talk too much.”

The playboy Litiran makes his move and puts on an act of finally make his choice of what to buy. He picks up a trinket, the smallest and least expensive of the array, and casually looks it over, “Really? About what?” He gives the simple ring meant for a dainty finger an up-close cursory look over as though to ensure to himself that he really has made up his mind about purchasing it.

“They said they wanted to pass something along to their friend. Another trade perhaps,” the disgruntled man disgustedly holds out Lorne’s buttons to show Adame, “Maybe they give their friends better trades than this. Look at these. How valuable do you think these are?” Not very if the vendor’s sneering at them is anything to go by.

Adame Va’lar looks at the small trio and notices right away the designs of the carvings as uniquely Athosian. He shrugs while tilting his head from left to right as he looks at them, pretending to gauge his appraisal of the little items.

“They look pretty enough,” the enterprising young man comments, “They might appeal to a young woman.”

“But there are only three? How useful is that? What woman do you know wears a garment that requires only three buttons?”

The women I know don’t wear anything that requires buttons of any number…“Tell you what, friend, to make up for the offworlders poor trading habits, I will take those useless buttons off your hands as well as one these,” he puts down the low-cost wooden ring and picks up one of the same carved, small, ebony jewelry boxes that Lorne had.

That gets the vendor’s attentions back to being eager and gleeful, “Oh? And what will you trade for them?”

A good question that Litiran Adame Va’lar already had an answer to before he even came over here, he reaches into his tunic pocket and pulls out a very nice looking carved wooden pendant on an equally fine leather string. It’s not of the same quality as the lacing of the earrings initially offered to him, but it’s as well an elegant example of woodcraft as anything else displayed here. He hands it over to the vendor. The man starts to look it over. Adame makes another feint to seal the deal…

“A fine lady I know of left this behind with me after she slapped my face for some…minor indiscretions,” he laughs.

The vendor smiles. As Adame had guessed, right in the wheelhouse of the man’s usual clientele.

Va’lar continues his own sale, “Perhaps you will have better luck being able to fetch a better price for it than I’ve had trying to find another fine lady to pass it on to.”

The vendor’s smile broadens. Without another word, he hands over the wooden buttons to the playboy. As Adame Va’lar takes his newly purchased goods in hand, the vendor immediately turns, holds up the newly traded pendant, and starts trying to hawk it to the nearest people. Adame smiles as he casually slips away from the vendor’s booth.

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