I don't own Stargate Atlantis or its characters. They belong to MGM.
Thanks to Jen for the beta!
FAITH AND PROMISES
Sheppard's team and Dr. Weir were in the control room studying the latest MALP images currently being broadcast from the next planet slated for exploration.
"What? It looks okay to me." Sheppard shrugged while he watched the massive ruins slide past the screen as the MALP made a three hundred and sixty degree sweep of the area. Something in the area was causing some interference with the transmission but they could easily see that it was the biggest set of Ancient ruins that had been discovered so far in their explorations.
"Notice anything missing?" Rodney's voice dripped with sarcasm as he turned to the Colonel.
"There is no dialing device," said Teyla, studying the image intently though the mild static.
Rodney tapped his index finger on his nose. "Give the lady a prize."
"Is that really a problem? The jumpers have built-in DHDs, right?" Sheppard reasoned as he sipped on his coffee.
"True," agreed Rodney. "But it's not so much that the DHD is missing…"
"Why is it missing?" Ronon finished the scientist's thought.
Sheppard leaned back against the console. "There could be a hundred reasons."
Rodney screwed his face up in displeasure. "Well the last time, the reason was that it was a penal-colony-slash-wraith-buffet."
"He has a point, Colonel," said Weir, tipping her head, but giving him a conspiratorially wry smile at the scientist's sharp tone.
Sheppard looked at the images again. "If we're going to stop exploring unknown planets because past missions didn't go perfectly, we might as well pack up and go home."
Ronon, Teyla, Sheppard and Rodney stood, backs toward each other, P-90s pointed outward at the circle of weapon-wielding natives who surrounded them. Masses of spears, small arrows, and blowguns were pointed in their direction. They had barely made it twenty feet from the jumper when all hell broke loose. Now, they might as well be twenty miles from it. Suddenly the images of the ancient ruins that the MALP had sent back didn't seem quite so exciting any more.
"We might as well pack up and go home," came a snide whispered comment from McKay.
Sheppard ignored him and shifted uncomfortably, his weapon was aimed but he knew there was no chance of getting the upper hand in this situation. They might take a few of the natives with them, but that would be the extent of their defense. "Hey, we know when we're not wanted. We can take a hint," he said, eyeing the group surrounding them. He could feel Rodney shift nervously behind him. "How about we just leave the way we came, no harm, no foul?" he suggested reasonably. He knew the chances of the natives understanding the sports term was unlikely, but he was hoping they'd at least pick up on his tone. Apparently they didn't because they continued to glare menacingly.
"Teyla?" came a happy cry. A tall, attractive, muscular man pushed his way through the crowd of spears and arrows to stand in front of the Athosian. While he was dressed similarly to the natives, it was clear he was not of their race, though they treated him deferentially and made room for him, still eyeing Sheppard's group distrustfully.
Teyla squinted at the man uncertainly. "Melosh?"
Completely ignoring the gun in her hand, he grabbed her in a tight embrace and then rested his forehead against hers. "The gods have answered my prayers." He quickly released the Athosian, who stumbled a bit at the suddenness of the greeting. Taking her hand in his, he raised it high in the air and turned towards the natives, yelling out happily, "This is Teyla Emmagan. We are promised!"
The natives looked from one to another and slowly lowered their weapons. Sheppard's group cautiously did the same. The colonel cocked an eye in Teyla's direction and asked out of the side of his mouth. "Promised?"
Teyla shot him a slightly panicked look before returning her attention to the man who was still gripping her hand tightly. "Melosh, it has been a long time. Many things have changed…"
The man's face took on a crestfallen expression and he released her hand. "You have already performed the bonding ceremony with another?" He suspiciously eyed the three men with her, trying to decide which one was the most likely rival for her affections.
"No…" she began.
He smiled and waved away the rest of what she was going to say. "Then it is unimportant."
Teyla's mouth opened and closed like a gaping fish. Sheppard hid a grin at her discomfort. It was a rare occurrence to see the Athosian so flustered and there were times her composure could be a little, well, let's face it, annoyingly serene. He stepped in. "I'm Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, this is Dr. Rodney McKay, and Ronon Dex," he said, introducing the two men.
Melosh gave Sheppard a calculated look, barely glanced at Rodney, and then gave Ronon a stare containing a subtle alpha-male bristle that the runner instinctively returned.
Teyla had finally managed to regain some sense of composure. "Melosh, how did you come to be here, and where are Tenon and Hawliot?"
"It is a long story." He was completely focused on her again. "Come to my house, and I will tell you my tale and you can tell me of yourself and Athos. I have missed home."
Teyla bit her lip and glanced at Sheppard.
"Your friends may come, as well," Melosh added, almost as an afterthought before taking her hand again and pulling her through the crowd. Without so much as a backward glance at the three men, he began to lead her through the boulder-strewn meadow and down the hill towards some distant smoke, all the while talking rapidly and excitedly. The natives fell in behind the two as if they were some type of honor guard.
Sheppard blinked and then exchanged looks with the rest of his abandoned team. "Looks like we're invited to lunch," he quipped as he started to follow the group. Ronon and McKay fell in beside him.
"Promised?" Ronon asked Sheppard, frowning suspiciously at the unfamiliar term.
The colonel shrugged in reply and adjusted his pack's straps.
Melosh's hut was the largest one in the village. The inside was well appointed and neatly maintained. One of the natives must have run ahead because there was already a table set with several steaming dishes.
"Sit," their host invited, briefly acknowledging the men for the first time since their initial introduction, and he waved at a crude wooden bench that spanned one side of the table. As Teyla began to take her seat, he grabbed her arm and pulled out a well-cushioned chair near his own and gestured for her to sit as well. The various dishes were passed around the table in awkward silence as Melosh gazed raptly at Teyla, his eyes intent on her face. He intercepted her hand and picked up a morsel from her plate and fed it to her, oblivious to her discomfort.
"So," Sheppard said, pursing his lips and nodding as he looked over the variety of dishes on the table. "You and Teyla are promised?" The last word came out a little higher in pitch and was accompanied by raised eyebrows and the barest hint of a smirk.
Melosh reached out and grabbed Teyla's hand again, bringing it to his lips and continued to gaze at her with undisguised admiration. "Yes."
"That's like what? Engaged?" asked McKay, frowning in annoyance at the inevitably imprecise terminology used by other races. He helped himself to some sort of rice dish and sniffed at it unenthusiastically.
Teyla managed to slide her hand out of the man's grasp, taking the bowl that Ronon passed to her as the excuse to break contact, and spooned some of the food onto her plate before passing it on. She kept her eyes on her plate as she toyed with the food. "That was long ago, Melosh, we were little more than children then, following the wishes of our fathers."
Melosh ducked his head to catch her eye but didn't attempt to recapture her hand. "It was my wish as well." He smiled. "And as I recall, you voiced no objections."
She raised her head. "As I said before, many things have changed. When you did not return through the ancestral ring, we feared the worst. You still have not told me where Tenon and Hawliot are," she said, changing the subject.
Melosh's face took on a harsh expression. "They were not as fortunate as I. The gods struck them down shortly after we arrived."
Teyla frowned slightly at the strange phrasing. "I am sorry to hear that. I was fond of them."
"And of me as well, of course," Melosh teased gently.
"Of course," Teyla agreed, cautiously.
"What, exactly, happened to them?" asked Ronon, suspicious as usual.
Melosh shook his head. "I do not wish to talk of such things now. This is a happy time!" He covered Teyla's hand with his and while she looked uncomfortable, there was no way for her to pull away again without the risk of offending him.
Once they had finished their meager meal, Teyla turned to their host. "I would really like to know what happened once you left though the Ancestral ring."
"Later. First, tell me of Athos and yourself," he said, excitedly.
Teyla's face grew still. "Our village on Athos is no more, Melosh. The Wraith attacked our people and we had to flee through the ring of the Ancestors."
"Where did you go?"
"Atlantis…" She caught her teammates' eyes, "…at first, but the Wraith attacked there as well so we had to destroy the city and find yet another planet."
"You destroyed the city of the gods?" asked Melosh, incensed.
"We destroyed the city of the Ancients rather than let it fall into the hands of the Wraith," she said defensively. "We would not have done so unless we had no other choice."
Melosh still looked a little shocked at the revelation but he patted her hand. "Of course not. You are not as lucky as we are, to have gods that protect you from the Wraith."
Sheppard's team all exchanged glances at that revelation.
"And, um, how exactly do they do that?" asked Rodney.
Melosh shrugged. "They are gods."
"Of course," said the scientist, rolling his eyes in frustration. The glance Sheppard shot him kept him from adding any further comment.
"How about your story?" suggested Ronon, picking his teeth with a leftover bone from his plate.
"Yes," encouraged Teyla. "I am eager to know your tale."
"I arrived here..."
"With Tenon and Hawliot," she amended.
"Yes, yes, of course...with Tenon and Hawliot. They have been gone so long, I had almost forgotten."
"What happened to them?" asked Sheppard.
"They angered the gods and paid the price."
Rodney squinted. "And by 'paid the price' you mean...?"
"They are no more," clarified Melosh, becoming angry. "I do not wish to discuss this any longer." He turned to gaze to Teyla's eyes. "It is a time to rejoice, not think of unfortunate things that have long since passed. The gods have rewarded my years of devotion by bringing you here."
Teyla frowned again at the strange turn of phrase. Her people revered the ancestors, yes, but normally stopped short of worshipping them as gods.
"Um, actually, it was the ruins that got our attention," McKay piped up.
Melosh's eyes narrowed briefly; obviously unhappy at the interruption.
"It is my wish to see the ruins as well," said Teyla and Melosh's face cleared almost immediately. "Of course, I would be happy to take you there."