Not mine. Don't own'em. Didn't create 'em. Stargate Atlantis and all related characters are the property of MGM and other people who are, unfortunately, not me.
Thanks to nebbyjen and b7-kerravon. I couldn't have written this story without them - more on that at the end. I don't want to give away too many details just yet:-)
Amazon Women on Damooun
He knew it! He knew something smelled rotten the minute he arrived back through the gate…something other than McKay, of course. Sheppard closed his eyes, slowly counting to ten. His instinct that something was off after emerging from the gate had apparently been right on target, confirmed by the fact that Weir greeted them personally on their return. "What do you mean they're 'missing'?" he demanded, wearily slinging off his pack and letting it drop to the floor of the conference room with a thud. The rest of his team began unloading their gear as well. A haz-mat team appeared at McKay's elbow as he handed off his jacket and backpack. They had just returned from yet another fruitless mission of their own to find that team two had 'lost' both Zelenka and Kavanagh. The day had quickly gone from bad to worse.
Weir waved them all to seats, immediately sorry she had done so as it merely wafted the skunk-like odor that seemed to be clinging to Rodney towards her. She had already decided to read the mission report rather than asking an obviously irate McKay what had happened to him. She took a chair as far away from the scientist as possible. The rest of the team followed suit, leaving the scientist by himself at one end of the table. "Stackhouse and Bates said that they just disappeared. They returned to the gate and waited for several hours but the doctors never showed up."
"Where are they now?" Sheppard asked, looking around as if expecting the team to materialize out of the walls. He wanted the opportunity to question them personally.
"They're still on M2J-238 searching. Halling is with them," she said, giving Teyla a nod of acknowledgement. She realized the Athosian seemed distracted. "Teyla?"
"I'm sorry, did you say M2J-238?" asked Teyla, trying to remember where that designation would put the planet in the overall system.
"Yes. He referred to it as Damooun." Weir pulled up a star map so that Teyla could get a better idea of the location of the planet.
There was something odd about the Athosian's expression that made her teammates nervous.
Sheppard joined her in front of the map and frowned. Possibilities were running through his mind of the kinds trouble Kavanagh and Zelenka might find themselves in, assuming they didn't kill each other first. "What is it, Teyla?" he asked.
"We have seldom traded with this planet."
"Why not?" asked Weir. "Stackhouse said it has a thriving trade community."
"I am not certain," replied the Athosian. Searching her memory, she scowled, "My father was uneasy about it for some reason." She shook her head indicating that was all she could recall about it.
"Oh Great," McKay snapped in irritation, thumping his hand on the table in disgust. "Could you be any more vague?"
Weir briefly held her breath in at attempt to avoid the noxious odor Rodney's movements had sent in their direction. "Stackhouse's team will be reporting in again in," she checked her watch, "three hours. That gives you time for a meal and a shower and a nap."
Sheppard tipped his head in McKay's direction as they stood up. "Not necessarily in that order." Rodney narrowed his eyes at him grumpily but said nothing.
Three hours later, Sheppard and his team arrived on M2J-238. They were met by the remaining members of team two and Halling.
"Still no sign?" he asked, but knowing it was unlikely that the missing scientists had suddenly appeared. The sergeant had made his latest report to Weir only ten minutes earlier.
"No, Sir," replied Stackhouse, shifting his P90 slightly. He felt personally responsible for the loss of their teammates. Hell, as team leader, he was responsible.
"Alright, where did you last see them?" asked Sheppard, getting down to business.
"In the center of town," he said, leading the way. "It's only about a twenty minute walk from the gate. The place is mostly jungle but they've carved out a nice little area for the market."
Sheppard fell in behind him, McKay at his side. They walked a few minutes in silence before the major began to look around them curiously. "Do you smell something?"
"Like skunk?" McKay said, dangerously. He'd had about all the ribbing he was going to take regarding that little incident.
"No, nothing like that. Sheppard frowned trying to place the odor. It smells…" he paused a moment to sniff the air, "flowery."
McKay turned bright red. "We're on a planet, Major. You know -- trees, grass, flowers."
"Oh yeah, guess you're right," replied Sheppard distractedly.
They followed the Sergeant to a teeming marketplace. It was packed with people and vendors in roughly constructed booths with an astonishing variety of goods. Sheppard notice the majority of the traders seemed to be women…attractive women…in low-cut attire. "Your father didn't like it here?" he asked Teyla, surprised.
"No, why?" she asked narrowing her eyes suspiciously, her hands on her hips.
"It...uh… looks like a thriving trade-based community," he said, quickly borrowing Weir's previous description. He felt pretty sure Stackhouse had probably left out the native attire in his report to Weir. A woman walked by in a low-cut green dress and Sheppard's eyes followed her unconsciously for a moment. "I just think it's funny your father avoided such a bustling place." Ford snorted at the pun but fell silent when Teyla's disapproving eyes fell on him.
"My father never did anything without good reason, Major." She said, looking around with a wary expression. "Something's wrong here. I can feel it."