Summary: A trip to a friendly world to explore potential defensive technology turns into something very unexpected for Colonel Sheppard. Spoilers include anything up to The Lost Boys. If you haven't seen any of season two and don't wish to be spoiled, don't read!
AN: This is a WIP but we've got quite a head start so updates should come very frequently.
Not The Daddy
by Merlin7 and Kodiak Bear Country
As Sheppard guided the jumper through the gate to Planet M44-8X8, otherwise known to the natives as Eradia, he thought about how enjoyable the next week promised to be. Sheppard had seen some worlds in the time they'd been on this side of the universe, but Eradia was one of the most peaceful, and to be blunt, it was simply beautiful.
Ronon had remembered a planet he'd encountered during his runner days. It had been the one planet that offered safe haven, but in his concern that the Eradian's defenses prove penetrable, he'd left after only a day's rest. The village leader had assured Dex that they were safe from the wraith, but Ronon didn't feel anyone was safe. If the wraith tracked him to that planet, they'd keep trying till they found a way in.
Sheppard had partially agreed. The wraith were damn persistent, and with the growing famine for their race, the need to pursue food at all costs would only get stronger. It made him wonder about the two protected worlds they'd found last year. The kids with the waning ZPM powered EMP field, and Athar's planet – Chaya, was she still killing all wraith who ventured near? And what happened if the wraith set a siege force on her world? Would she keep killing, or would the other ascended beings stop her from destroying so many just to save one world?
Too many questions, too many unknowns, but for today, Eradia remained protected, which was part of the reason they were here. Curiosity for how they did it. If a ship was in orbit, the sensors reported a dead world below. If you flew over, and looked out the window, you would see a dead world. But Eradia wasn't dead. It was one massive illusion, pulled off to such an unbelievable extent that technology or human sense couldn't penetrate the false images.
If Dex hadn't told them about this world, they would've continued to believe there was nothing there.
A blip appeared on the horizon, and Sheppard banked the jumper, aiming for the disturbance. They'd made contact last week. Sheppard's team had walked through the gate, and after going a few miles, waited, and Dex called out. He kept assuring John the Eradians were there, but McKay's snide comment about the 'wee folk' seemed appropriate. He couldn't see there being a pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow.
But he'd been wrong, and a beautiful couple; man and woman, dressed in flowing robes so white they were almost blinding, drifted out of the wasteland, and as they did so, the world around the team rippled, wavered, and as slowly and surely as a master painter had crafted a work of art, the true Eradia was revealed. The grass was thick, lush, verdant – trees no longer stooped in withered ruin, but grew tall to the skies. The green sickly atmosphere sparkled new and clear up to the heavens.
They'd welcomed the team with muted excitement, and Sheppard had lied about where they came from. As far as the Pegasus galaxy was concerned, Atlantis, the city of the Ancients, no longer existed. It had to be that way. He didn't like it, and he knew Dex particularly didn't care for lying to these people who had offered him a haven when nowhere else could, but the military part of Dex knew it was necessary.
He set the jumper down gently, a perfect landing, and smiled smugly at McKay, who had been giving him shit about his landings since he'd taught the scientist how to fly. It galled McKay that Sheppard was better at something than he was. It didn't seem to matter that Rodney could theorize physics in laps around John; he had the need to be the best at everything. The problem with that was that Sheppard had the same drive, and so they were like two school kids, always trying to one-up the other.
"Oh please, I could've done better with my hands tied behind my back," drawled McKay.
"I'd rather you did not," Teyla said softly, sliding out of her seat gracefully, and reaching for her pack.
Sheppard kept smirking, and Rodney stood with a disgusted huff, snatching his own bag, and heading for the rear hatch.
Ronon fell in line behind Teyla, and Sheppard brought up the rear. They headed into the warm air, and started towards the village. The illusions were dropped for them, another piece of an extremely intriguing puzzle.
Was there some mental switch that the Eradians flipped for those they considered safe? How could they see it one minute, but not the next?
The cobblestone path began soon, and they followed it to the meeting place. Sheppard took the lead, and headed into the large building. They found Hamas waiting at his desk, working on their version of bureaucracy.
"Good morning, Colonel," he greeted. "Doctor McKay, Teyla, Ronon."
"Morning, Hamas," smiled Sheppard at the genuine older man. Unlike many people they'd had dealings with, the Eradians came across as real, not deceptive and secretive. "Doctor Weir sends her regards and wishes she could have accompanied us here."
"I see." Hamas set his feathered pen on the table, and rose to his feet, the white robes of his people and office billowing as he stood, instead of clinging as one would expect. "I hope all is well with your leader."
McKay answered before Sheppard could. "She's fine, logistics, you know – caring for the refugees from Atlantis keeps her busy."
Sheppard elbowed him, mouthing 'behave', before apologizing to Hamas. "I'm sorry, Doctor McKay has issues with worlds that have managed to perfect defenses that keep the wraith away. It's a jealousy thing." Mentally he added a rude comment about penis envy, and at the sharp look from Hamas, wondered if there wasn't some kind of telepathy involved with the Eradian people.
"And that is why you have come, so let us go examine the machinery of interest."
McKay's annoyance shifted to excitement. "Really? Just like that? We don't have to swear over our first born, or bleed on parchment, or anything equally primitive and medieval?"
Ronon growled, and Teyla scowled. Sheppard settled for rolling his eyes. And Weir blamed him for all the diplomatic fiascos.
But Hamas was laughing. "Nothing so drastic, Doctor McKay. This way, gentlemen," and he gestured for them to leave through a back door off to the right of the large office.
You know that saying, if something is too good to be true, it probably is – that wasn't the case with the people of Eradia. Hamas walked them into an arch, and the ground tilted at a steep angle, progressing underground at a fast rate. They followed him, Ronon growing more apprehensive at the closed in space than the rest of them, though Teyla seemed to grow more uncomfortable the farther in they went.
Soon, another archway, and they were in a wide open cavern. Consoles were worked into the rock walls, almost as if the rock had grown up and around the original machines. Hamas introduced McKay to a young woman that was monitoring a console towards the rear of the cavern.
"This is our Chief Engineer, Dreya." The woman turned away from the panel that was recessed high into the ceiling. "Dreya," continued Hamas, "These are the Lanteans that we've heard about."
Sheppard moved forward, and at the same time, Dreya tripped over a cable. They stumbled into each other instead of shaking hands, and the impact unbalanced both, sending them to the ground in a pile of twisted limbs.
John grunted, taking the full impact, trying to protect her as much as possible from the fall. He must have hit his head, because he was suddenly dizzy and nauseous. He closed his eyes to shut out the spinning sensation, and dimly heard Ronon calling his name.
"We should take him back, and let Carson examine him," argued McKay.
"He's fine," refuted Ronon. "Let him wake up before you sentence him to a sick bed."
"He's not fine!" exasperated, McKay continued, "If he was, he wouldn't be lying there senseless."
"I'm fine," croaked Sheppard. He opened his eyes, and the room, blurry at first, slowly focused into what looked like someone's house. "Where am I?" he asked, confused. Last thing he remembered was falling, trying to keep that klutzy lady engineer from taking a header into the rock floor.
"Dreya's house," said Ronon, his massive bulk blocking the light as he hovered over Sheppard. "You were knocked unconscious by the fall." What he didn't say was how fragile the earthman was, but Sheppard could read between the lines.
"I'm not fragile," grouched John, earning him a more concerned look from McKay.
"See, he needs to see Carson, he's babbling."
Sheppard swore from the headache as he swung his feet to the floor. "I'm not babbling." God, but his head ached. "Teyla?"
"She's letting Elizabeth know there was an accident," said McKay. "And hopefully she'll send Carson since nobody seems to want to listen to me!"
"McKay, I'm fine, okay – relax, Jesus, you're making me sick by carrying on." And Sheppard wasn't exaggerating. Since he'd sat up he was feeling decidedly green. Suddenly he found himself wishing he hadn't had that second helping of scrambled eggs for breakfast.
"Sheppard, you look like hell," observed Ronon.
McKay was leaning in towards him, peering at his face. "Dex isn't kidding, you look like crap."
Oh, god, Sheppard jumped up, and tried to get out of the room. He was going to be sick, but the problem was, he had no idea where any kind of sink or toilet, or anything was, so instead he made a dash for the only door he saw. Thankfully, the Eradian's bathroom was behind it.
He leaned over what he hoped was a toilet, and not some kind of decorative statue, and emptied his stomach.
This was turning into a really shitty day.