To Square the Circle

Disclaimer:The Atlantis show and characters belong to their respective copyright holders.
The story is mine (except for one tiny plot line idea inspired by David Gammell).

It's plainly for fun; I neither sell it nor make money with it.

Scene setting: Season 3, some time after 'Common Ground'

Story:Trading missions can be murder

Shep whump, McShep friendship, team story, Carson, Genii, Kolya

oOo

A Welcome of a Kind

It was barely noon and a warm autumn breeze played with the leaves on the grassy plain and in the huge trees. Three men were standing in close proximity to the large monument that wasn't used very often lately.

Yet none of them so much as flinched as the Gate kawooshed, opening a portal for the strangers who had announced their return some hours ago.

Sheppard, Rodney, Ronon and Teyla emerged from the event horizon and turned to their waiting company immediately.

"Ah, Colonel Sheppard", ambassador Mroxos welcomed them cheerfully. All three men bowed their heads in a gesture of respect.

The Atlantis team did so likewise, knowing from their previous visit yesterday that the inhabitants of this planet were easily offended by people not sticking to their protocol of politeness. It had already taken a dark look from Ronon at McKay to convince the scientist of adapting the small gesture and also the ambassador's gracious understanding for alien cultures to avoid an Ă©clat the other day.

"Ambassador, how nice of you to keep us company for the way back to the city", John exclaimed with a smile.

He didn't really feel content at the thought though, wishing he could have spent the half-hour walk with his team mates, discussing their trade strategy.

After all, this was very important and he didn't think too much of either Rodney's or his own trade talents.

Fortunately Teyla was with them. Her being a Pegasus Galaxy native and a brilliant trades person by that, could perhaps turn the tide in case the council didn't want to sell their precious ZPM to anyone.

Ambassador Mroxos looked a bit puzzled at the four Atlanteans, obviously expecting someone else.

"I thought you wanted your expedition's leader to lead the negotiations."

"Unfortunately Dr Weir wasn't able to attend the meeting this afternoon due to other responsibilities. You will have to make up with me, Ambassador", Sheppard answered with fake nonchalance.

It was just tough luck that Elizabeth wasn't back to Atlantis yet from her trade mission to Kanoor.

Nothing could possibly be more important than the prospect of getting another ZPM. Despite that, she had told him she couldn't leave their new partners at the moment, trusting the negotiations to him and Teyla when he had dialled her up.

At the very least he knew she would be safe, since Lorne and his team had accompanied her.

The ambassador shrugged with a smile, bade them follow him and turned to the far city, his two ever-obedient servants walking five steps behind him. Team Sheppard followed suit, not sure whether or not their host was content with the answer concerning Elizabeth's absence, yet unable to explain it any further themselves.

A look back at Teyla's brown eyes showed John that she also doubted this had been a good start for them.

'Stay positive now', the Colonel told himself. 'Rodney is enough of a pessimist for all of us.'

He knew that was a little unfair because often enough the scientist's fears proved uncomfortably right to some point. But on the other hand most times everything turned out fine, eventually. Well, perhaps not fine but at the very least they always more or less got away in the end. Hopefully their lucky stars were shining down on them right now too.

They desperately needed the ZPM.

After a while John and Rodney caught up to Mroxos with Teyla and Ronon close by, watching their six and surroundings, and started a casual chat in order to improve their impression on the man. It was never too late for that, or was it?

The sun stood high up in the sky now, warming the seven people on the plain with more intensity than even Teyla would have believed. The temperature indicated more summer than autumn and McKay found himself pondering about not wanting to spend his summer vacation on this planet, already sorry he didn't bring his sun blocker.

Finally the city's buildings came into view close enough to make out different styles in architecture, which bore witness to various epochs of enlarging Shry, the planet's capital.

Ambassador Mroxos turned to John who walked a mere step behind him, Rodney at his side, when all of a sudden a deafening bang thundered across the plain. In next to no time Mroxos and his servants threw themselves to the ground, team Sheppard anxiously kneeling in the grass, suspiciously watching the surroundings, guns in hand. For a while nothing else happened. No movement, nothing.

The tension passed. John, Rodney, Ronon and Teyla slowly lowered their weapons, still keeping an eye on the close tree line.

Then, like in slow-motion, Sheppard collapsed, a stunned look on his face.

oOo

To be continued…