AN: Hello, hello! I don't have a lot to say except thank you for everyone who has been reading my fics, and hope you enjoy this one. It's not going to be huge, it's going to be more of a humor piece, and beyond everything, it's something that I hope will break my writer's block with my other stories that I'm trying to get written. This hasn't been beta'd, I know I should've, and I've got a brilliant beta in Gaffer, but I'm desperate to put something out and just want to use this fic to get my going again.

Precious Commodities

By M.N. Talbert

"This is your fault," said Sheppard crossly, while shifting his bound hands in his lap, vainly trying to find a position that wasn't so painful.

"Why is it always my fault?" retorted McKay.

"Because it is."

"Oh, right, that's fair," snorted Rodney. "Whenever my ideas work, I get 'good job, McKay' – good job! For saving the entire city, I get 'good job'." If his hands hadn't been tied, they'd have been moving in tune with his irritation, as it was, he settled for slight twitches of his arms. "And when it just so happens that one of my ideas," holding his hands up together and straightening a finger he continued scathingly, "one! Lands us in a less than desirable -"

"Less than desirable?" exploded Sheppard, staring incredulously at their bound ankles and hands, and the straw wagon that rolled painfully along a rutted path.

McKay narrowed his eyes. "Less than desirable," he continued, "suddenly it's my fault."

"Because it is."

"You know what?" seethed McKay. "I'm not talking to you anymore."

"Fine," snapped John.


The groaning of the wagon wheels took over where they left off, and with each bump, McKay felt the accusing unspoken criticism from Sheppard. He sighed, and closed his eyes, thinking maybe if he didn't see Sheppard, he could imagine this wasn't happening. It was his fault, but he sure as hell wasn't going to admit it.


McKay half-heartedly punched the down arrow, skimming another page of Ancient text. Hunting for a potential source of power was beginning to grow tiresome, yet here he was, at some ungodly hour in the morning, doing just that.

He'd never considered himself a team player, nor a sucker for a helpless cause, and in a galaxy full of billions of stars, finding a power source they'd actually be able to use, was proving to be the proverbial needle in the haystack, made even more so by the technologically stunted development from the constant harassment and culling by the Wraith.

Rodney McKay, now a member of a team, and increasingly prone to spending hours beyond his requirement, searching and giving in to the tiresome task that he would've accused anyone else a fool for. The reason - because he'd learned that sometimes you did find the needle. He'd watched Carter pull it off. Then he'd watched Sheppard do the same, and save a lot of lives in the process. What had startled him the most, was when he'd done it not much later, by using a shield and luring the entity out of the city and through the gate.

That's when he'd begun to really consider those tiny little needles that had seemed unreachable. The gene therapy had allowed him to experiment with the shield, and the shield had allowed him to last long enough in the entities ethereal cloud, to toss the power generator through the gate, drawing it after. A random, seemingly unconnected chain of events saved their lives.

And then they'd discovered, like the yin and yang of the universe, that Sheppard had found the locket, given it to Teyla, and in doing so had alerted the Wraith to their presence, setting of the chain of events that had woken the race of soul-suckers that threatened everyone's existence. Again, another random chain of events, but this time it was for the worse.

Grimacing, he hit the down arrow again. Life sucked that way. One minute up, the other down. The best you could hope for was a shorter time down, than up. So far, they'd pulled it off. Even as his mind processed thoughts, his eyes scanned the information, looking for the information they needed, and when it blinked up at him innocently, he dropped his hand from supporting his head from the shock of it.

A broad grin replaced the tired introspective look, and he slammed a fist against the table top, startling a technician cleaning in the corner.

"Sorry," he murmured, embarrassed. "Bug." He made a show of wiping off the spot, before gathering his laptop, and hurrying out of the room. He'd found the needle!


Sheppard banked the fighter to the left, and began pressing the stick forward, aiming for a downward spiral.

"Spike, what the hell do you think you're doing?" snarled a voice over his radio. "Pull up, now, that's an order!"

Letting out a whoop of delight, Sheppard followed the directions, and brought the sleek aircraft to a straight cruise above the thin clouds. "Just checking out the equipment, Sir," he answered cagily.

"Do it again, and you're ass is on report!"

"- wake up!"

Sheppard puzzled at the navigation display in front of him. "Sir?"

McKay took a deep breath, and balancing the laptop in his hands, nudged Sheppard harder with his knee. "You're a damn officer in the military, you're supposed to be a light sleeper, wake up!"

Sheppard felt the airplane flutter away, and blinked, surprised to see McKay leaning over him. "What -"

"I found something."

"You found something," repeated Sheppard. He was still shaking off the dream, and trying to figure out why McKay was in his room, and what time it was. As his eyes drifted to the clock, a frown snaked across his face. "It's two in the morning, couldn't this have waited?"

"I'm sure the Wraith will look at their watches, and say 'oh look at the time, we can't attack now, they're all still asleep'."

Teeth gritted, Sheppard sat up, thrusting the blanket to the side, and searching for his pants. "This had better be good."

McKay beamed smugly, "Zed PM good, Major."

Sheppard paused in pulling up his pants, and caught McKay's gaze. "You sure?"


"Then what are we waiting for?" asked Sheppard, standing up and fastening the last snap. "Let's go."

A bemused look fell across McKay. Wasn't that his point, he thought? Watching Sheppard's back as he moved to the door, he tilted his head and asked, "Wasn't that my point?" He followed the major and said, "I'm pretty sure that was my point."



"Shut up."

McKay wondered if this was the time to tell Sheppard he'd forgotten his boots…


Sheppard stepped out of the event horizon, immediately holding his weapon tighter while he surveyed the surroundings. He heard the slurp of his team members arrive behind, and shielding his eyes from the glare of the sunlight, scanned the dusty road for any of the native inhabitants.

Teyla hadn't traded directly with these people, but she knew of them. A world hit unusually hard by the Wraith, their men taken disproportionately due to their attempts at protecting the women and children. The results were disaster. Without the men, the world had foundered, and eventually the population had fallen into negative growth. Rumors were that the young women were married to off-worlder's whenever possible. Sometimes they stayed, sometimes they left.

The direct result, the Wraith hadn't culled this world in Teyla's lifetime. When he'd heard that, he'd asked her why she had never mentioned it before, and she'd promptly informed him that it would be impossible to foresee every scrap of information she knew that might prove helpful.

He'd realized she was angry with him, and justifiably so, but this would've been an ideal alpha site, and if McKay's theory was right, there was an outpost somewhere on this forsaken rock.

"Ford, you and Teyla take the rear, I'll stay up front with McKay." Sheppard looked at the scientist, and saw he already had the PSD, power source detector, in his hand, and was scanning it to their left. "If there's any trouble, get to the gate."

They hadn't gone far when trouble arrived. The first whistle that blew past his ear startled him, but he thought it was a bug or a bird. The second whistle impacted his thigh, and as he looked dumbly at the dart embedded in his leg, he realized things weren't getting of to a good start.

McKay had been walking to his right, and paused when he did, looking away from his machine. "What?" he snapped, wondering why Sheppard had stopped.

"I've been shot -" he managed to get out, before crumpling to the ground.

Without hesitating, McKay shouted, "Ford, Teyla, get back to the gate! The Major's been hit with a dart -" he felt a sharp sting, and looked at his arm with stupid fascination. "Ow," he managed, before his eyes rolled up, and he fell beside Sheppard.

Ford hesitated, torn between wanting to help and getting reinforcements. He took a step towards Sheppard and McKay, when another dart found its mark. He looked at Teyla, his face registering surprise, before falling to the ground.

Teyla knew the odds of them getting out of this were slim, but she didn't hesitate another moment, turning and running to the gate as fast as possible. She never saw the dart come out of nowhere, and hit home in her calf, but she did feel the stinging impact, and fell forward, her body still in motion, and resting to the side of the DHD.


John had gotten drunk more than few times in his life, and had more than a few hangovers, but whatever was in that dart, rivaled the worst of them. His stomach was roiling, his head felt like a jackhammer had been running beside him for hours, and cottonmouth took on new meaning.

"Shit," he moaned, trying to get himself upright.

Why was it every trip out they landed in it? Taken captive, shot at, but tranq'ed was a new one. The pounding in his head grew as he managed to finally sit.

A groan to his side, and he realized McKay was waking up. He appreciated just how messed up he was, because before that, he hadn't had the mental awareness to remember his team. Now, he looked around the dim cell, and with dismay, saw that they were the only occupants. Where were Ford and Teyla?

"I'm gonna be sick," muttered McKay, before he crawled to a corner, and retched painfully.

Sheppard winced, and tried to keep his own stomach from joining the fray. The smell was strong. He lay his sweating face against the wall, and breathed in his mouth, forcing the nausea down.

"Let it out," said McKay, crawling back to his side. "It helps."

Rolling his head to look at Rodney, he noticed that even though his face was pale, he did look better. Closing his eyes, he fought against doing that.

"No," gritted Sheppard. He wasn't going to add to the mess in their cell if he could help it. He didn't like losing control, and that included his stomach.

McKay found a position that helped his own aching head, and mumbled, "Suit yourself."

For how long they sat like that, both men miserable from the after effects of the drug they'd been darted with, Sheppard wasn't sure. It was McKay who finally spoke, breaking the depressing quiet. "Where's Ford and Teyla?"

The thousand-dollar question. Where were the other two members of his team? "I don't know. I woke up right before you." Sheppard had managed to gain some control over his stomach. He shifted carefully, moving his stiff legs on the floor covered meagerly in straw. "You were the only one here."

"Do you think they made it back?"

"I don't know."

"False hope, Major, does a body good."

Sheppard rolled his eyes, and immediately regretted it. He didn't know eyes could hurt like that. "False hope, McKay – think about it."

It wasn't called 'false hope' for nothing. If they'd made it back, they still had to find wherever here was. So far they hadn't heard or seen another person. What if they weren't even on the same planet anymore?

McKay didn't say anything else, and Sheppard felt slightly guilty for dampening what little hope the scientist had. How many hours they sat there, he didn't know, probably wasn't as long as it felt.

A door opened, and revealed a hallway running parallel to their cell. A tall woman walked in, followed by two other less ornately dressed. She stepped to the wrought-iron door, and peered haughtily at them. "These are the specimens worth such a high price?" She wrinkled her nose in distaste at the smell of McKay's earlier sickness.

"We're not for sale!" protested Sheppard.

"How high of a price are we talking?" asked McKay.

The woman ignored both, and snapped her finger at the lock. "Regardless, clean them. A wagon waits to deliver these men to my home, and I do not wish to be kept waiting." She didn't wait for the other women to respond, but strode towards the door she'd entered.

Sheppard, forgetting his touchy stomach, jumped up and grabbed the bars. "I said we're not for sale!" he shouted angrily, knowing even as he did so, that it was pointless.

"I had better cost more than you," said McKay. "I'm a physicist. A physicist is worth at least two Major's."

The sound of Sheppard finally losing the battle with the nausea drew his attention away from the retreating woman, and as he watched sympathetically while Sheppard heaved, he couldn't help but add, "Perfect example, I threw up in the beginning instead of suffering all day, whereas you stubbornly held out, and feel absolutely miserable now -"


Present time…

The wagon had bumbled along, and Sheppard's mood didn't improve. It irritated him that McKay had been right about throwing up, it annoyed him that he'd been right about the price (McKay had sold for double the amount of Sheppard), and if that weren't enough, the damn straw was itching all over.

They'd been stripped off their uniforms, and dressed in some kind of fancy schmancy outfit that left little to the imagination of what they had been bought for. Teyla's words about the lack of males rang in his ears, and he wondered again why he always found himself following McKay to these worlds, only to wind up knee deep in trouble.

"How long is the silent treatment going to last?" asked McKay. "Very childish, by the way."

Of all the –

"You know, McKay, if you're trying to get me to forgive you, insulting me isn't exactly the way to go."

"Forgive me?" McKay's eyes were snapping at Sheppard. "This isn't my fault!"

Sheppard turned to face Rodney. "You can't do it," he accused.

"Can't do what?"

"Admit you're wrong."

Now here Sheppard had got McKay by the gonads, because he'd used 'can't' in relation to McKay's ability, irregardless that it was about admitting he was wrong when he wasn't going to admit he was wrong…ever, but by using 'can't' it was tantamount to waving a red flag in front of a bull.

"I can when I'm wrong," he snapped defensively. "But I'm not."

"You said the people here were harmless," recounted Sheppard, adjusting his tone to mimic McKay. "They're just a bunch of women, you said." Sheppard raised his hands, and glared at Rodney. "Look, McKay! Look at how harmless they were!"

Rodney muttered something and looked away.

Sheppard wasn't interested in letting it drop. "What?"

"I said this would never happen to Captain Picard."

Sheppard stared open-mouthed at McKay. "Are we even on the same planet?" he finally said.

"I always call you Captain Kirk," explained McKay irritably. "This," he waved the bound hands in front of Sheppard, "is something that'd happen to Captain Kirk. This stuff never happened to Captain Picard."

The muscles of his jaw tensed, and he held McKay in a steely glare. "That's because Captain Picard had a big ass Klingon to knock the shit out of anyone stupid enough to try and kidnap him!"

"You had Ford and Teyla," replied Rodney calmly. "I thought you said you never watched Star Trek?"

"I said my heroes were the John Wayne type," said Sheppard. "Christ, McKay, everyone has seen Star Trek."

They're arguing had distracted them from realizing they'd arrived at their destination. "Out!" ordered a short woman. She looked older than Moses, and probably ten times as mean.

They got out. Awkward, and in the end Sheppard rolled, and fell on his shoulder, before having McKay use him as a soft landing, but they got to their feet not a whole lot worse for the events of the past twenty-four hours.

"You're mistress is waiting," cackled the old woman gleefully, eyeing them appreciatively.

Sheppard fought against the crawling revulsion skating through his body. All they were was meat for the feast. He'd chased a lot of women in his time, but this wasn't a predicament he ever thought he'd be in. Despite the small amount of flattery, most of him wanted to get as far away from this place as possible.

"Uh, I changed my mind," said McKay, pushing Sheppard forward with his body. "He's worth four of me."

Sheppard cast a dirty look over his shoulder, but took the lead. The building wasn't what he was expecting. From her dress, he'd imagined some kind of castle, or mansion, but what they got was a wooden one-story house. Pretty damn plain, and it reminded him of the long houses that the Native Americans had built in cooler climates.

The door opened into a broad great room, with a fireplace against the far wall that took up the majority of the space. Now that he thought about it, he was a little chilled. 'Moses' led them into the center, their progress painfully slow because of the rope still keeping their feet tied. Shuffling wasn't easy.

The haughty woman entered, from a door at the other end of the house, and eyed them critically. She quickly closed the distance, and leaned in, sniffing the air before running smooth hands over Sheppard's chest, and moving on to McKay. Satisfied, she stepped back. "You've cleaned up adequately," she observed. "Was you're trip pleasant?"

Sheppard didn't even try to stifle his disgust. "We've spent the entire trip tied up, and being knocked around."

"It was wonderful," smiled McKay, stepping towards the woman, and drawing her hand into his own, an awkward move with his hands still tied together. He lifted it to his lips, and kissed her hand lightly. "But not as pleasant as seeing you again."

The woman returned his smile, pulling her hand back slowly, and eyeing him with interest. "Good, I'm glad to hear that." She continued to stare at McKay for a moment, before pulling her gaze back to include Sheppard. "My name is Mistress Karna. You may call me Karna. Follow the rules, and you will be treated well."

She left unspoken what would happen if you didn't follow the rules, but Sheppard figured he could connect the dots.

"Uh," Sheppard shoved McKay back. "There's been a mistake here. We aren't for sale."

Karna turned her full attention on Sheppard. "There's been no mistake, Major Sheppard."

"You know who we are?"

She smiled gamely. "Of course. We do not purchase stock without certain – assurances."

"Look, you've got me at a disadvantage here," started John.

"I assure you, I've got you at more than a disadvantage." Gone was the haughty, offish demeanor, and in place was a lady shark, waiting to devour him.

He felt the red hot blush that crept to the roots of his hair. A cough to his side, and McKay insinuated himself between the two. "Excuse me," he inserted, "Would it be possible, my dear lady, to remove these," he held his hands aloft, "ropes?"

Karna waved at the other woman, and as she moved towards Rodney, she addressed them sternly, "Certainly, but make no mistake, escape is not possible. To try will have grave repercussions."

"Graver than being sex slaves?" Bewildered, Sheppard couldn't help but ask.

Before McKay could reply, Karna's words wiped the amused smirks from their faces. "If you consider death graver, then yes."

Without explaining, she left the room, leaving them to the older woman's care.