"Hey. What are you still doing here?" McKay asked as he saw Sheppard, Teyla and Lorne in the Mess hall.
"What do you mean, still here? We have only just got here." Sheppard responded confused.
"I thought you would be asleep by now." McKay shrugged.
"Asleep? We have only just got up." Sheppard said.
"What time is it?" McKay asked looking at his watch.
"Crap. My watch has stopped." McKay said. "I must have worked all night."
"Did you find anything?"
"Yes. It is really interesting. Their ships seem to use a completely different energy source to us or the wraith. The energy signatures are really fascinating. There are no millihertz oscillations, so either they are masking it really well or they do not us nuclear or ZPM technology." McKay explained as the other three exchanged bemused glances.
"McKay, I meant have you found anything I would find useful?"
"Well, no." McKay replied looking slightly defeated.
"So you pulled an all-nighter for nothing?" Lorne asked, causing Sheppard to smirk.
"You think research is easy? Hmm? Well let me tell you it is not. It takes skill, brains and hard work. Traits you clearly know nothing about." McKay snapped back.
"Rodney, perhaps some food would make you feel better and allow you to work more productively?" Teyla suggested.
"Hmmm? Food, oh yeah. I will just get a tray." McKay said, more to himself than the others as he headed to the kitchen area.
"Where's the little guy?" Lorne asked Teyla, once McKay had gone.
"In my quarters with Kanaan." Teyla said, causing Sheppard to tense. A movement that was not unnoticed by Lorne, who quickly changed topics.
"So you found a new, powerful enemy?" Lorne questioned. "I am impressed that is three in five years, four if you include the Genii, five for Michael." Lorne smiled, before adding, "Sir."
"What can I say, I have a magnetic personality." Sheppard half-heartedly scowled at his second in command.
"Is that what you call it?" Teyla questioned. "I just thought that you enjoyed spending time with your team and were finding enemies to ensure we would go on missions together."
"I can think of better ways to bond." Sheppard answered, causing Evan to nearly choke on his coffee.
"Did we miss something?" Jennifer asked, looking at Lorne.
"I am not sure." Teyla asked, looking confused.
"So I hear you have learnt some important lessons from Ronon." Sheppard quickly changed the subject, "like how to deck a guy bigger than you. I might have to replace McKay with you on missions."
"Hey. I am more than capable of fighting enemies, I just prefer to use my brains." McKay protested as he sat down with a tray laden with food, before Jennifer replied.
"Thanks, but no. I will be more than happy if I don't have to hit anyone again. I can't believe how much it hurts." Jennifer complained, waving her plastered hand in the air, causing the rest of the table to smile.
"Well if you held you wrist straight like I told you, you would not have broken anything." Ronon chastised, causing Jennifer to glare at him, whilst the rest of the table displayed even bigger grins.
"I have a question though." Lorne said. "Something that has been bugging me since the mine." The table turned and looked at him expectantly. "Where did you hide all the knives?"
"One in each of my boots." Jennifer shrugged.
"Doesn't that make it ridiculously uncomfortable to walk?" McKay questioned.
"The knife goes in a sheaf in the heel. It effectively replaces the plastic structure that exists in the heel of the boot." Jennifer explained. "You can easily fit a thin four inch switch knife in there."
"That is only two." Lorne replied. "You had at least four."
"You had four knives hidden on you?" Sheppard asked impressed.
"Four that weren't found by the guards." Lorne clarified.
"So where were the other two?" Sheppard asked.
"She is not answering." Ronon replied gruffly, causing Jennifer to turn red and Sheppard to raise an eyebrow.
"Really?" Sheppard responded wearing a big grin.
Ignoring Sheppard Jennifer, grabbed a piece of toast off her tray and avoided making eye contact with anyone at the table.
"Morning all." Woolsey greeted. "Dr Keller are you ok?"
"Mr Woolsey. I didn't know you were standing there." Sheppard said as he spun round to face the expedition's leader.
"I only just got here. Do you mind?" He asked pointing to a chair.
"Be my guest." Sheppard said. "The doc was just explaining how to conceal weapons."
"Ahh of course." Woolsey said, looking surprised and sceptical, especially as Jennifer was now turning redder.
"Are you feeling ok Mr Woolsey, you look somewhat, pale?" Teyla asked.
"Do I? It is probably because I have been up all night preparing a report for the IOA. In the last communication I had with them, they were not exactly happy about the prospect of another war."
"Does that mean they are prepared to let us engage the new race?" Lorne asked.
"No. Our standing orders were to avoid contact, I can't imagine that will change after reading the latest report."
"So the new people who are enslaved in the mines are …?" Sheppard questioned.
"On their own." Woolsey said, then speaking over Ronon's growl continued. "We can not risk starting a fight on another front right now. Especially against a race so far advanced."
"But we can keep gathering intel?" McKay asked.
"Absolutely, as long as there is no direct contact. But we must be more strict about revealing who we are."
"So we sit back and hope they go away?" Lorne questioned.
"Yes Major. For now that is all we can do. But the IOA has agreed to a new weapons program being established here, and the Apollo will bring new city defences. With any luck, when they have read the report, they might give us a ship permanently stationed here."
"I guess that is better than nothing, until McKay finds their weaknesses." Sheppard replied.
"Of course. It is up to me to save the day again." McKay said with his mouth full.
"Trust me when I say I would prefer to have the burden shared out amongst many." Woolsey smiled.
"Although if we had an army of McKays I don't think that there would exist a city big enough to hold all the egos." Sheppard quipped.
"Well if you will excuse me I have the IOA gate update scheduled for ten minutes. Colonel I would imagine that we will need to meet straight afterwards." Woolsey said standing.
"I'll be right up." Sheppard said to Woolsey before downing his coffee and turning his attention to Lorne and Jennifer. "You two stop looking so down. We will free the people in the mines. Even if it takes years, we will go back and get them. In the mean time think about the people who are already safe. We can't win a war over night, but we will do everything possible to ease the casualties." Seeing Lorne and Jennifer give small nods, Sheppard headed after Woolsey and the rest of the table disbanded, leaving just Jennifer and Ronon.
"How are you doing?" Ronon asked.
"Ok. It just feels like the last few days has been nothing but a hollow victory." Jennifer replied.
"It will get better with time." Ronon said before explaining. "The sitting back doing nothing. It is never easy, but it gets easier to live with."
"Doesn't feel that way at the moment."
"Well that is why I have got a plan."
"Yeah, to take your mind off what is happening here and back on Earth." Ronon smiled.
"What kind of plan?"
"Beach holiday." Ronon said looking very pleased with himself. On seeing Jennifer's stunned expression he quickly lost his grin and asked. "Did I get the name wrong? I am sure that is what Sheppard called it."
"Name sounds right, but can't think of anywhere that sounds suitable, that Woolsey would let us go to."
"It has already been sorted. We leave tomorrow for a small island on the far side of the planet. You, me, Sheppard, Teyla, McKay and Lorne's team. Sheppard persuaded Woolsey we all need, um, r and r. There is a small island a little way from the main beach area, which is all ours."
"Ours? How did you swing that?" Jennifer asked.
"You probably don't want to know. Now go pack." Ronon smiled. "Sheppard said it is a bit breezy and you should bring light cottons."
"Yeah, save the bikini for next time. He said, you would explain that one to me."
"Maybe another time." Jennifer smiled. "But I wouldn't get your hopes up, my back is a long way off wearing anything like that."
Ronon stared at Jennifer before standing and leading her from the mess hall.
"Where are you going?" She asked.
"To help you pack."
"Only if I can pack your things." Jennifer returned as the two headed down the corridors, looking forward to their days off.
A/N: Thanks to everyone for reading this story. I may return and do a follow up based on the new race, but in the mean time I have several other plots running through my head that I might develop.