Don Juan McKay and Other Universal Improbabilities Author: liketheriverrunPrompt:
Anything up through season 4, several items are mentioned throughout, even though the majority of the fic is set very soon after Trio.Summary:
While tracking down a lead to find the Athosians, the team is arrested on a secretive planet. Little do they realize how their plan of escape can change the course of history for the world where they're being held and their escapades will become the stuff of legends.
Go to: [part one] [part two] [part three] [part four] [part five] [part six] The Tale of Princess Teh'la and the Love-Struck Sovereign
The woman sat heavily, awkwardly, the weight of the child she carried within her requiring her to shift her balance and brace herself against the arms of the chair as though she were sitting with her shoulders first then her hips. The youngest girl handed her a pillow made from strips of deep burgundy silk woven into a star pattern with tassels of gold. The colors and designs matched the rug the child sat upon once the pillow was delivered.
Placing the pillow behind her lower back, she settled into it with a sigh of relief. "Thank you, D'erra."
The girl smiled in pleasure at the acknowledgement and cupping her small face in her hands as she put her elbows on the knees of her criss-crossed legs and looked up at her in anticipation.
"Now then, which story will you have tonight?" There were so many of them, so many the woman had told over the many nights she had been here longing to return home. She was still many weeks before her delivery date, but the nesting instinct had set in and she wanted nothing more than to leave here and set to work on the nursery once again. But that was not to happen anytime soon and if situations did not change, she feared this might be the place she gave birth after all.
She had not realized she was staring out the window, across the gardens of the estate with their elaborate sculptures and fragrant flowers, their scent soft on the breeze that stirred the humid air in the women's quarters. She had not realized she had closed her eyes to picture home with it's never ending bustle of people and activity. Not until Ser'ana, the eldest child spoke.
"Are you not well? Should we call the physician?"
She forced a reassuring smile. "No, I am fine. It is just warm tonight. Is there more of the fruit tea?"
"I will get it," D'erra offered, jumping up from her place in front of the ten or so girls of various ages gathered around her chair. D'erra was always so eager to help. She had taken to the pregnant woman as soon as she'd seen her enter the grounds of the estate. It was no doubt due to the fact that she traveled with strange men with strange equipment and was a novelty to the quiet life at court, but D'erra was never far it seemed.
Taking the glass offered to her, the woman drank deeply and gratefully. The tea was still cool, condensation already forming on the clear crystal, and her smile was a little more genuine as she assured the eager child, "That is much better." Setting the glass on the small table, she paused to run her fingers over the delicate inlays of hardwoods that made out the ancient crest of the royal house. How could something so beautiful belong to someone so ruthless? It was not the first time she had asked herself that questions. She had had many nights in this very room to think about such things. Her imprisonment had been long, even though the man responsible never considered it anything less than the highest of honors to be chosen by him.
D'erra watched the woman's fingers trace the curls and loops before asking, "Will you tell us of the arrival? How the princess was imprisoned because the Sovereign would not share her beauty with anyone else?"
"I believe you know these stories better than I," the woman grinned mischievously.
"Oh, but you tell the best stories," another girl, Kell'ahn, coaxed.
"As you wish." Leaning forward slightly, she watched the girls in the room do the same in eager anticipation. "Listen well, daughters of Al'amenda, for this is the story of the Ending. But as everything must end, so must it begin. And it begins with the arrival of a beautiful princess in the royal court of the Sovereign."
"The Princess Teh'la," D'erra supplied.
Her face warmed at the sound of the name, so close to reality but not quite. But that was the way of so many great tales handed down throughout the generations, like the ones of her own childhood, so she nodded. "Yes, the Princess Teh'la and her companions who came from a far away land through the Great Circle to seek knowledge from the people of Al'amenda."
"Because the princess had lost something very valuable," D'erra once again cut in.
"D'erra, be quiet!" Kell'ahn complained. "You are not telling this story."
The woman nodded, trying to hide her humor at the girls. "Yes, Princess Teh'la had lost something very valuable and she had traveled the galaxy looking for clues to its whereabouts. Her counselor had advised against going to the mysterious land of Al'amenda, so had her bodyguard and her man of science. But Teh'la was not to be deterred, so the four of them traveled to the court of the mighty Sovereign to seek his help. But when the Sovereign saw Teh'la he was so struck by her beauty and grace that he locked her away, intent on keeping her as his own
The Tale of the Pregnant Athosian and the Sexist Dictator
"Are you sure about this?" John asked her as they prepared to leave Atlantis.
Teyla nodded, pushing down her own uncertainties in hopes of maybe, finally, finding her people. "Yes. It is too coincidental the trader we met on M4P-873 referred to the people of Al'amenda as shrouded in darkness. Those are the same words that Davos used to describe the Athosians in his prophecy."
"I know," John conceded, "but coincidences do happen."
"Not as often as one might think," Rodney pointed out as he and Ronon joined them. "Statistically speaking, they are more like data outliers than anything else."
John frowned at the scientist and Teyla believed it had more to do with Rodney disagreeing with him than anything else. "Whatever you call them, similar, yet unrelated, events do occur."
With a sigh, Teyla admitted, "I cannot explain it, but I feel that we are
to go to this world."
to go." John weighed her words, looking to Ronon for help in swaying Teyla since Rodney obviously wasn't going to.
"Sounds like a good enough reason to me," the Satedan shrugged, checking his gun.
Teyla gave a thankful smile. Ronon had been supportive of her pregnancy since she first announced it to her teammates. And while John had been adamant that she remain off active duty for the remainder of her pregnancy, Ronon had simply taken a slightly more protective stance the few times she had left Atlantis. She knew John's hesitance with going to Al'amenda was because of this same desire to keep her and her unborn son safe. Still, if this could lead to finding her child's father and the others, she could not remain behind. So, she had gone above John and pleaded her case directly to Colonel Carter. Normally, she would have never considered doing something like that, but this was anything besides normal. The expedition leader had agreed to allow Teyla to go on the mission, a fact that John had blamed on Teyla obviously asking soon after his commanding officer had taken a pain pill for her recently broken leg. Whatever the reason, Colonel Carter had sanctioned the mission, which was why she was now standing here with Rodney checking his pockets for a power bar, Ronon reholstering his gun, and John attempting to dissuade her once more from going.
"I'm not saying we shouldn't check it out," Sheppard tried again. "Just that maybe we should go in first, make sure everything's okay, before you come in."
"There was nothing in the Ancient database to suggest there is any sort of danger on the planet. And the traders did not say the people were aggressive
John cut off her argument. "The traders said no one can go to the planet without an escort. And those who do, never come back."
"I think they walked into a shield," Rodney supplied. When they simply looked at him, he continued. "The database said the planet was used as an Ancient outpost
well, technically, it was more of a space colony," Rodney corrected. "So it makes sense that they would have the same sort of protection on the gate that we do here in Atlantis. The planet sits so far out on the edges of the Pegasus galaxy, the Ancients needed a sort of weigh station for their deep space exploration so they set this one up, populated it with humans to run the place while they were gone, and promptly abandoned it like they did all the others in this galaxy when they returned to Earth."
"Which is why we shouldn't just go waltzing in there," John countered.
"But the escorts have agreed to take us and they have never shown aggression to those they allow
being a key word," John stressed. "To me, that suggests they have something to hide and that's never good."
"We only allow certain people to come to Atlantis," Rodney pointed out.
"Fine." John gritted his teeth as he glared at the scientist. "We're the exception to the rule."
"John, I cannot stay behind," Teyla told him simply. "Not on this mission. You must understand that."
"Yeah," he grumbled as the chevrons started lighting on the gate. "That doesn't mean I have to like it."
With a small bow of her head, she let out a relieved breath that he was not going to fight her decision. "Thank you. And if at any time while we are there you feel it is not safe, I will follow your counsel and leave."
"I don't suppose I could take you up on that offer here before we go, could I?"
"No," she told him succinctly.
The gate burst open and Colonel Carter, leaning on her crutches, addressed them from the control room. "Colonel Sheppard, you have a go. Teyla, good luck."
Teyla nodded her thanks for the well wishes and followed the three men on her team through the gate and onto the rendezvous planet where they were to meet their escorts. The baby shifted, perhaps due to the slightly erratic effect of traveling through the stargate, and Teyla rested her hand on her bulging stomach, rubbing absently. Her teammates were fanned out in front of her, guns at the ready, effectively forming a human barrier between her and anything in front of them, and Teyla felt another flip inside from what it meant to have these three watching out for her and her child.
Two men dressed in long tunics that reached the knees of their slightly baggy pants and beards braided into a sharp point touched a hand over their hearts in greeting. "Are you the traders sent by Ver'an?" the first asked.
"Yeah," John confirmed frowning slightly at the odd accent the men put on the name Veran, the trader who had arranged the meeting, but he lowered his weapon when the men appeared to pose no threat. "I take it you're our guides?"
They bowed their heads then dialed the gate to their home world without even an introduction. Teyla and John exchanged wary looks when the one man activated a small device before they enter the gate but Rodney just grinned smugly and mouthed the words, gate shield
. They exited out onto a well-kept lawn on a hill that overlooked a compact walled town less than half a mile away. Looking around, she saw the stargate on Al'amenda sat in a garden setting, with neatly trimmed shrubs framing a stone walkway and vines heavy with fragrant purple clusters of flowers climbing elaborate metal trellises. High above them, a latticework of beams provided shade from the heat of the midday sun. Rodney had told her the Al'amenda appeared to be taken from the Ancient word for 'the gardens', and she could see why. In the distance she could see lush green fields, but considering how the crop fields were in contrast to the dry land immediately beyond the patches of green, she assumed they must be irrigated from a water source that did not cover the entire area.
"The market place is down the hill," one of their guides informed them, but Rodney was pulling John's attention from the view of the village below them.
"Sheppard, you need to see this."
The second man, the one who had turned on the device before they entered the gate, once again pushed a button. This time, a shield similar to the one they had on Atlantis, flickered into existence.
"So, when we want to leave, I take it we can only do it with your permission." From John's tone it was obvious he was not pleased with that arrangement.
"It is a precaution," their guide told them. "The shield on the Circle and the one above us protects us from the Wraith. The Sovereign keeps us safe."
"Could I, possibly, see the device that activates it?" Rodney asked.
"Only those who have been blessed with the royal bloodline can make it work."
"The bloodline?" Rodney snapped his fingers. "You must have the gene!"
The man frowned in confusion. "I am not familiar with this term, gene."
"It's a genetic marker," the scientist tried to explain. "It allows you to operate special equipment that not everyone can."
"Yes, the royal bloodline, I possess it although none of my brothers do, and, being so blessed, I serve the Sovereign as he sees fit."
"Is it possible to meet this Sovereign of whom you speak?" Teyla asked, trying to hide her own discomfort at being sealed off from the gate.
"He is much too important to meet with simple traders," the guide told them briskly.
"We are more than traders," she tried again. "We seek knowledge that someone as
important as he may have."
The man frowned as he addressed Ronon. "Do you always allow your woman to speak so openly?"
Ronon raised his hands and backed up a step. "Whoa, hey, she's not mine." Teyla was ready to prove just that fact.
"Then which of you lays claim to her?"
"No man claims me," Teyla bristled.
The men seemed scandalized by the news. "Then where is the father of your child?"
"Missing, with many more of my people, which is why we are here. We had hoped to find information about them on your world."
Their guides did not seem to care about the fate of the Athosians. "A mated woman traveling with three men who cannot lay claim to her?"
"Look, can we just get past the whole laying claim thing?" Rodney demanded irritably. "None of us are the father, none of us are married to her, and none of us are going to stop her from talking for herself. And if you were smart, you wouldn't try either. Don't let the waddling fool you, she's one tough cookie."
Teyla inclined her head. "Thank you, Rodney."
"I guess what we're trying to say is that it's not our way to claim the women in our culture as property," John tried to explain.
"And I do not wish to affront the people of this world." Teyla realized if she wished to gain information from these people, she would have to try to find some way to work with them. "I want only to be reunited with the father of my son and I had hoped your people would know of some way to assist me in that endeavor."
The two men conferred quietly for a few moments before finally telling them, "We must inform the Sovereign of your request. But be forewarned that the blessed Sovereign does not grant audiences to those who are obviously of a backward culture."
"We'll try to be on our best behavior," John promised with an insulted twist of his lips.
"Please, we do not wish to insult traders who make the journey to our world, but as guides, we see many different cultures and have learned to tolerate the differences. The Sovereign may not be willing to endure the offenses against Al'amenda law. But perhaps he would be willing to meet with your leader."
John looked to Teyla who felt a moment of panic that she might not be able to plead her case. "Don't worry, if it's just going to be me, I'll find out all I can."
"You are the leader?" the man demanded in shock.
The team looked to each other trying to figure out why the men were looking at Ronon expectantly. "Yeah," John confirmed. "Is there a problem with that?"
"But you do not even have a beard."
"Well, it's not because I can't
grow one," John defended.
Rodney, obviously tiring of the bizarre cultural taboos of the Al'amendans, threw up his arms. "Fine, he doesn't have a beard, but he does have something infinitely more valuable. And he's not the only one." Snatching the shield device from the man's hand, Rodney deactivated the shield before tossing it to John. "Show him how it works."
"Rodney, I'm not so sure this is such a good idea."
Shaking his head at John's protests, the physicist argued, "Unless you can sprout whiskers on demand, this is the only way you're going to prove you have anything that they value."
If possible, their guide's shock just increased. "You are of the royal bloodline!"
John rolled his eyes and mumbled, "Crap," before reactivating the gate shield.
"You both are! Is this common among your people?"
Rodney handed the device back. "Common enough. Now
do you think the Sovereign will see us?"
They were already heading down the path to the town. "Come, we must find the Chancellor to request an audience for you."
The sun was high in the sky, and, even though the walk was not far, the heat was oppressive to Teyla even without the hormonal component that had her feeling warm on cool days.
"You okay?" Ronon asked from her side.
She gave him a reassuring smile. "I am fine; although, I will not complain when we are out of the sun."
Rodney was surveying the area with his life signs detector, the device exciting their guides even more, and John was glancing over at his readings.
"Anything we should be concerned about?"
"What?" the scientist scoffed, "You haven't seen enough things to worry you yet?"
"I just like to get as complete a picture as I can of the disaster I'm walking into."
Teyla sighed at the comment. She had not intended to put her team in danger and she truly did not believe the Al'amendans constituted a threat even now. But she did understand John's discomfort with their current situation.
Ronon evidently saw her distress. "Hey, if the rest of them are like these two, we've got nothing to worry about."
"Perhaps John is correct and we should be alert to dangers."
"I'm always alert," he reminded her and it was a statement of fact.
"I am not so sure that the potential dangers here are the ones we commonly experience."
Ronon frowned at her observation. "Then what are they?"
"We are faced with an alien culture on a very reclusive world. The slightest transgression could be considered an insult or even a crime here."
"Then I'll be on my best behavior," the Satedan grinned, twirling his gun before slipping it back in its holster.
"Yes," she responded blandly, hoping Ronon's beard would be enough to forgive him anything that he might do, "I am sure you will."
Ahead of them, Rodney asked their guides, "Are these aqueducts?" He was referring to the stone channels that ran along the road they were traveling.
"Long ago, the royal race who first built the foundations of the Sovereign's estates had water running from the mountains to their city, but it was destroyed by many Wraith cullings, as was most of the city itself. But then the blessed Sovereign was born and we saw a return of the royal bloodline. Since the Sovereign took the throne forty-three sun cycles ago, we have been free of the Wraith scourge thanks to his almighty power."
"But he never fixed the water system, eh?"
The man's rapture with his leader was not diminished by Rodney's observation, although he seemed annoyed with it. "Hauling of water is a small price to pay for the protection we are provided in exchange."
"I see, all gene and no genius; kind of like you, Colonel."
Teyla did her best not to snicker at Rodney's teasingly smug grin, but John simply drawled lazily. "Some of us don't need
to prove our genius with a MENSA card in our wallet, McKay. Although some of us do
need a little help in the gene arena, while others of us come by both naturally."
The grin disappeared from Rodney's face and it honestly had very little to do with John's comment. They had entered the walls of the township, their guides leading them away from the bustling market place that flourished to the East and toward the large estate that sat on an elevated area to their West. The stares and murmurs they received from the townspeople had all of them on guard. Teyla heard several hushed comments about the lack of beards, their clothing, and especially her condition. Evidently women in their last trimester of pregnancy were not commonly seen in public and definitely not walking in front of a man
the only one of the strangers with a beard, no less! Teyla could only assume that traders were rarely allowed in this part of the town and these people had seen very few outsiders.
In general, there were far more men watching them than women, all of the men with the same pointed beards and most dressed similar to the guides in tunics and pants of various colors
bright scarlet, deep blue, vivid greens. The women wore the same colors, although their clothing comprised long billowy skirts under the tunics instead of pants, and one was dressed in a vibrant yellow. Other men were dressed in robes that came to just below their knees, the colors muted browns and tans and the fabric courser than the silks worn by the others, and Teyla decided they must be of a lower social class, servants perhaps, given their subservient demeanor and deferential posture. She saw only one woman dressed in the dulled shades, her robe reaching her ankles, carrying a basket of with several loaves of bread. The woman kept her eyes averted as she scurried quickly into a building and watched them curiously through a window.
It was obvious women, even of the upper class, were considered lesser members of this society and given the way the wealthier members seemed to almost ignore the servants who trailed after them carrying goods, Teyla was beginning to think that perhaps they were slaves instead of hired help. The thought repulsed her, and she wanted nothing more than to speak with the Sovereign, see what he knew of her people, and return to Atlantis as quickly as possible.
Ronon had apparently picked up on the same thing, moving up so close behind her that she feared he would step on the back of her shoes. Rodney and John were studying the crowd of people as warily as the Al'amendans were studying them, and she saw John's hand tighten on his P90. She did not believe the people were a physical threat; none of them were armed that she could see. But they were not welcoming by any means.
When the team and their guides reached the estate, a runner was sent to request an audience with the Chancellor. The guides disappeared into the building, as well, and the team was instructed to wait in the courtyard. Teyla sat on a bench in the shade of a sprawling tree with broad leaves on long, arching branches. Rodney quickly took the only other seat beside her and pulled a powerbar from his vest.
John stood surveying the well-kept courtyard where they waited, with its small geometric flower gardens bordered by stone walkways, and armed guards stationed periodically, before turning back to his Athosian teammate. "How're you doing? You want some water?"
"Yes, please. That would be most appreciated."
She took the offered canteen and John's kindness seemed to rouse the same out of Rodney. "Oh, hey, you want one?" He waggled the half eaten bar he held in his hand. "I have another."
"I am fine, Rodney, but thank you."
He took another bite and spoke around the food in his mouth. "Well, just let me know if you change your mind."
"This place gives me the creeps," Ronon told them, pacing uncomfortably in the path before them.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Oh, sure, a lair full of mutant man-bugs is a walk in the park, but literally sitting in a park gives you the creeps?"
"These people aren't right," the Satedan informed them with a shake of his head.
Rodney pointed at Ronon as he spoke to John. "And the irony is, he's the only one they think is right out of our entire group."
"And what's up with the guards?" Ronon demanded.
"They appear to be mostly ceremonial," Teyla offered, and given the elaborate breastplates and helmets they wore with swords and tall spears, it seemed to be the case. "And this is the governmental offices of this world; a guard force would be expected."
Ronon grumbled wordlessly, unable to argue with Teyla's assessment but not feeling any better about the situation.
John glanced at Teyla and she gave him a desperate look asking him not to give up just yet. He did not seem too happy, but he sighed and told the other men on their team, "Look, we'll see how it goes with this Chancellor guy, and if it's a dead end, then I'm calling it and we're heading home."
That last part was meant specifically for Teyla and she nodded in understanding. As disappointing as it would be, John was correct in his assessment. If they could not persuade the Chancellor to allow them to plead their case to the Sovereign, then chances were slim that they would find any information on the Athosians here in Al'amenda.
They waited in silence for several more minutes until the runner returned and told them the Chancellor would see them and that no weapons were allowed in the Sovereign's Estate. Ronon seemed torn between staying outside and armed and staying with his team. In the end he compromised and handed over only the visible weapons and followed the others into the cool interior of the building.
The runner led them through several long corridors, past walls covered with elaborate tapestries and murals and the occasional piece of dark wooden furniture. It was obvious that this building was not the remnants of the Ancient outpost that had been here before. The construction was stone and wood, not by the Ancients, but it was definitely inspired by their architecture
the spires and angled arches, even the colors around them mimicked the colors so common in the city. In fact, they all stopped to gaze at the large stained glass window that made up one entire wall of a large open room they passed.
The man leading them closed the doors to the chamber and explained, "It is all that remains of the great city founded by the Sovereign's royal ancestors. It is where he holds court so that he will be bathed in the light of his nobility."
"This Sovereign of yours must be one heck of a guy," John observed as they continued down the hall.
"Without the Sovereign, Al'amenda would no longer exist. Many generations ago, the Wraith frequented this world, slaughtering our people for their food, burning our villages, leaving Al'amenda on the verge of extinction. But then the Sovereign had a divine vision and touched the stones and the shield rose to protect us."
"How is it possible for a ZPM to power the shield for so long?" Teyla asked Rodney quietly, because that was the only explanation for how the gateshield and the shield over the city could exist.
"I don't know. Maybe it was shut off when the Ancients left Pegasus and wasn't turned on again until this guy figured out how. The ones on Atlantis were able to power the shield for over three thousand years a pop. Forty years is just a drop in the bucket of what they're capable of."
"The Chancellor will see you now," the runner told them, opening the doors to the man's office with a flourish.
On the far side of the immense office sat a small man conferring with one of their guides who had brought them through the gate. As in the courtyard, several guards lined the walls, all of them standing at attention with their spears at their sides, so that they seemed to be statues more than living, breathing people. When the team entered the office, the official flicked his hand to shoo the guide to stand by the window before folding it with the other in front of him on top of the rich wooden desk.
"Hello, I'm John Shep
The man held up his hand to stop John's introduction. "Is it true that your people possess the royal bloodline, as I have been told?"
"Well, yeah, some of us
"And is it also true that no man among you here can claim this woman as your own."
"You know what, that really isn't all that relevant
Once again the main stopped John with a testily raised hand. "Simply answer the question. Can any of you lay claim to this woman or the child she carries?"
"No," John ground out in irritation at the man's attitude.
"The father, as I understand, is missing and has not been seen in some time?"
"Yes," Teyla cut in. "It is why we came here
"You speak without being addressed," the Chancellor scolded.
Teyla ducked her head, doing her best to seem meek. "Forgive me; your ways are new to me." If this is what is would take to learn the fate of her people, then so be it.
"Yes." Narrowing his eyes, the Chancellor studied her before making a note on the ledger before him. "You will learn soon enough."
"Whoa, wait a minute. What do you mean by that?" By the looks on the team's faces, John was not the only one concerned with the comment.
The Chancellor, once again, ignored him. "The child you carry, it is a son?"
Now Teyla narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "Yes, but why
"And you have had this confirmed by a medical examination?"
The man had already turned back to making notes in his book. "Very well, since no man here can claim the woman, and the man who could claim her has forfeited him claim by abandonment, the Sovereign will lay claim in his stead."
" Four voices demanded in unison.
The Chancellor flicked his hand again, this time to the guards posted around the room. "Take her to the women's wing."
"Now, hold on, here," John insisted. "You can't just take possession of her like she's an old sofa someone put out on the curb."
The guards were already surrounding her, and Teyla looked apprehensively to her teammates. She was unarmed, surrounded, and while not helpless, the odds were not in her favor.
The Chancellor furrowed his brow in confusion. "Indeed not. That would be illegal disposal of refuse, which is strictly forbidden by Al'amendan law."
Rodney threw up his arms in outrage. "So littering is illegal but enslaving a woman because she can't produce a husband isn't?"
"She is not being enslaved," the Chancellor corrected. "She is being accepted into the Sovereign's home and placed under his protection as the law allows. It is his right and she should consider it an honor."
"What about my rights?" Teyla shook off the hand of one of the guards and glared at the man.
"Your rights are tied to either your father or your husband. Since you are obviously well above the age of consent and can produce no husband, the Sovereign has every right to claim you and, more importantly, your child as his own."
"I am the property of no man."
"Of course you are not. You are a free woman who can do all that is allowed within the law."
"And what is the Sovereign allowed to do to me by the law if he lays claim?"
"A woman in your condition? Only what you will allow; the Sovereign is not a barbarian. Now take her to the women's wing."
"John?" Teyla called desperately as a guard took each of her arms and the other two closed in around her.
"This isn't our law; it's not even our planet," John tried to reason. "Now, we'll be happy to leave if you think we've offended you
"While you are a guest on Al'amenda, you will comply with our laws," the administrator told John simply.
And that's when Ronon had had enough of the talk of laws and customs and all the rest. Producing one of his hidden knives, he had it at the throat of one of the guards around Teyla. "Back away from the pregnant woman," he growled.
The Chancellor stood in outrage. "What is this? There are no weapons allowed in the Sovereign's estate."
"I'd listen to him if I were you," John told the guard. "He can be a little protective of his friends at times."
"Do you dare to defy the Sovereign's laws?"
John just smiled at the infuriated man behind the desk. "Yeah, I think we do."
Rodney's strangled voice had the others turning to see that he was being held in a position similar to the one of the guard with Ronon's knife at his throat, only the scientist had the point of the guard's spear pressing into the soft skin under his chin.
Teyla could see the defeat in John's eyes even before he sighed softly. "Okay, so maybe we can talk about this."
"Your man's fate is the same as the guard's," the Chancellor pointed out calmly.
Teyla quickly came to the same conclusion that John did the team valued Rodney's life much more than the Chancellor valued the guard's life. And it would be better for them to be alive and work this out than mourning yet another friend. "Ronon," she said softly, "let him go and put down your knife."
Ronon looked between her and Rodney, then to John, who nodded his agreement with Teyla's order. The Satedan threw the knife down on the carpeted floor and released his hold on the guard. He was instantly tackled to the ground, along with John and Rodney.
"You have knowingly broken the Sovereign's law," the Chancellor declared. "The penalty for doing so is enslavement."
"Oh, crap," Rodney grumbled at the edict.
"Consider yourself fortunate that the Sovereign is in the countryside this morning, else the penalty for having a weapon in his presence would be death."
The guards started moving Teyla toward the door, and she fought to turn and see her three teammates. John managed to twist his head and meet her eyes. "Don't worry about us," he told her as his hands were roughly bound behind his back.
"Exactly what do you know that I don't," Rodney demanded when he heard their team leader's reassurance and found it less than comforting.
As Teyla was led out of the room and toward an entirely different wing of the estate, she could not help but to wonder the same thing as Rodney.
Continue to Part Two