SEASON: Season Five - probably sometime before "The Shrine"
MAJOR CHARACTERS: McKay, Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon - a team fic
SUMMERY: The team explores a planet, searching for an Ancient Outpost. They find a strange room, some plants, some buffalos and mayhem.



They stepped through the event horizon, alert for trouble. Sheppard scanned the immediate area as Ronon and Teyla twisted about, looking for where danger might be lurking.

The search ended rather quickly.

McKay stood beside Sheppard, slowly letting his P90 drop. "Huh," the scientist said softly as the Gate closed behind them.

Ronon sucked his teeth a moment, and also let his weapon fall to his side. "Yeah," he grunted.

Teyla tilted her head toward Sheppard who shrugged.

"So…" he said as he examined their surroundings. "Guess we don't have to worry too much about an ambush."

They were in scrub land – cliffs in distance, crumbly earth beneath their feet. Sour-looking grass dotted ground that had been carved long ago by a river. Now, only a slip of a stream cut through the area. It was a bleak and bare place.

The sky was a milky color that diffused the sunlight, making them squint. The air held an unpleasant chill. John sighed, pulling at the zipper of his jacket. "Doesn't look like there's anything here to see."

Rodney sighed as he clipped his P90 to his vest and brought out his tablet. He worked the device as he spoke, "There's supposed to be some sort of outpost here. The database didn't offer much. Didn't you say people lived here?" he glanced to Teyla.

"Yes," she responded. "The Madaket vacated the planet a few years ago. They lived near this gate."

"If you can call it living," McKay muttered as he prodded his computer. "I mean, what the hell could you do here? There's nothing."

"They were ranchers," Teyla responded. "They raised cattle."

"Cows?" Sheppard inquired.

Teyla furrowed her brow, trying to come up with an animal Sheppard and McKay would understand. She looked toward Ronon. "Bigger," she tried.

"Buffalo," Dex threw in.

"Asian, African or North American?" McKay inquired as he kept his attention on the computer.

Ronon grimaced, obviously not ready for an inquisition. "Bill," he ground out.

"What?" McKay lifted his gaze to give Ronon an incredulous look.

Ronon looked toward Teyla for help, but she just smiled at him.

"What are you talking about?" McKay persisted, and Sheppard pretended to examine the horizon. "They're billed? Like some sort of duckbilled plati-buffi-pus?"

"That's seriously messed up," John commented with a smirk.

"And they were bigger than cows?" McKay went on. "What sort of freaks were these?"

Sheppard glanced at Ronon, enjoying the irritation that seemed to grow on the big man with each question from McKay.

With a groan, Ronon clarified, "Lt. Cisco has a picture of one on her wall. A Buffalo Bill."

"Hickok?" McKay went on, his interjection sounding a little like a hiccup.

When Ronon growled, Sheppard decided to help. It would do none of them any good if any of them ended up in the infirmary. "Football," he informed, then added, "American football. None of that cheesy Soccer football."

"I know!" McKay shot back. "Just because I'm…" He thought better of completing the sentence and went back to the computer, poking at it petulantly. "I happen to remember your favorite pastime outside of golf and flirting with every woman you find."

"Speaking of which…" Sheppard raised an eyebrow. "What were you doing in Lt. Cisco's room, Ronon?"

Ronon's foul mood seemed to change at that question and he grinned toothily at Sheppard. "She was showing me her Bills memorabilia."

The colonel chuckled. Teyla rolled her eyes.

Oblivious, McKay went on, "And if they want to be correct, they should call that mascot a bison. There are no native buffalos in the Americas. The term 'buffalo' technically refers to either African, or Asian Water Buffalo. Calling the American Bison a 'buffalo' is just laziness."

With a look of irritation, Sheppard cuffed the man. Rodney let out a yelp of surprise, and stumbled to get out of reach. Ronon grinned as McKay ducked again, probably expecting the same from him. "I'm just sayin'," McKay muttered, scrubbing at his head. "It's not a buffalo."

Sheppard stepped out of the way, careful of what must have been a pile of dried manure from the creature in question. "Must have been a damn big buffalo," Sheppard stated.

"They were known to be of impressive size," Teyla confirmed.

"And delicious," Ronon added.

Sheppard frowned at the cow pie, not happy about having to cross a mined field. "Yeah, well, apparently some of them are still around. Step carefully." He lifted his head and asked, "Which way do we go?"

For a moment they were quiet as he surveyed the land with Ronon and Teyla. McKay's head was bowed over his computer as he poked it, frowning.

Finally, Ronon declared, "There's a building over there." He pointed.

Sheppard squinted where Ronon had indicated. Yes, there was a shape alongside the narrow river. He nodded. "Figure we could start off with that."

"Fine," McKay muttered. "Let's go, because I'm not coming up with anything here." He secured the computer to his pack and they started moving toward the little building.

As they moved, they passed the remains of a building, little more than a foundation left in the dirt. Scrubby half-dead grass dotted the land, separated by plops of dried dung.

The bleakness of the place left an empty feeling in Sheppard's chest. He angled the group closer to the little river so that it might offer them change of scenery, but the river wended its way dully, hardly making a sound. It was not a pleasant place.

Sheppard watched the water for a while as they moved upstream, and he frowned. "So, what happened to the ranchers?" he asked.

"The Madaket were well known for the quality of the meat they raised," Teyla explained. "They were quite adept at raising squams." She tipped her head toward Rodney and clarified, "Bison."

"I've had a few steaks over the years," Ronon said, almost a boast. "Mostly just when I had some money. Once I even got the really good stuff – the shimmo quality." He frowned as he gazed out at the ruined land again. "Too bad you can't get it anymore."

"What happened to them?" Sheppard asked again as he kept the group moving.

Teyla explained, "The Madaket became rich and increased the herds of squams until there were too many to be supported."

"Overgrazing," McKay muttered, kicking at the spoiled earth, and groaned as he knocked into an old clod of manure. It went to dust.

"I believe they tried several different chemical treatments to bring back the 'good grass'," Teyla continued. "But it had the opposite effect. The grass died. The land has not yet recovered."

"What?" McKay spoke up. "So, it wasn't their fault for putting too many animals on the land? It has to be the fault of science? And, just because they used a 'chemical' treatment, it's inherently bad? I don't understand why people say that all the time." He moved his hands in irritation as he walked. "For the most part, chemicals make our lives so much better. Think of where we'd be without them! Now, I do admit that…"

Teyla interrupted, "And with the lack of good food, the squams grew lean, and then a disease ran through the herds."

"So it wasn't the Wraith or the Replicators that sent people packing?" Sheppard asked.

Teyla shook her head. "The Madaket left on their own accord. Their livelihood devastated, they had no choice." She glanced around saying, "And apparently they took everything with them."

"Well, there's still a building up there," Sheppard said, nodding to their destination.

"Two buildings," Ronon said. "There's another behind it."

"Okay, two buildings," Sheppard allowed. "Maybe one of them is the outpost we were looking for."

Teyla nodded as she kept her eyes ahead. "The buildings do not appear to be of Ancient design." She glanced to McKay.

Rodney poked at the data tablet, frowning when it blatted at him. "No power signature," he muttered. "No life signs either. You're probably right. They look pretty rustic. I don't think this is what we're looking for." With a sigh, he returned the tablet to his pack.

Sheppard shrugged. "Well, there's nothing else in sight, so we might as well check them out."

"Seems like a long walk," McKay grumbled.

"Buck up," Sheppard responded. "Your feet work, don't they?"

"Not as well as his mouth," Ronon added.

McKay grumbled, and they kept their pace toward the buildings, and the lake that was revealed just beyond.

As they drew closer, the buildings came into focus. "The closer one must be a powerhouse or a mill or something," Rodney pointed out. "It's situated to make use of the river."

"And that would be a greenhouse," Teyla stated, indicating the next building. "Where do you want to start?"

"Does this have to take all day?" McKay asked. "I have things to do and I'd rather be investigating an outpost," he whined.

"If you find the outpost, we'll check it out," John responded. "You found it yet?"

Rodney gave him a disgusted look and dropped his head. "Not yet," he muttered.

"Fine, so let's see what we have here," John returned.

"Okay, fine. Just… keep me away from the plants," Rodney countered. "I have this serious aversion to greenhouses ever since…"

"Gotcha," Sheppard returned.

"And there's always the possibility that I'll have some sort of allergic reaction to pollen and…every plant I've ever owned has died. I water them, I fertilize them, I try to talk to them, but what can you say to a plant? A cat will at least respond to you. I just don't have the knack to…" McKay stopped suddenly and looked up at the others. "I have issues," he admitted.

"I know," Sheppard stated as he turned to Teyla and Ronon. "I guess that means you two get the death house of plants. Mr. Green Thumb and I will check out the mill."

So they separated, each group moving toward their selected buildings.

TBC - I'm sure everything is going to be fine