CHAPTER 1

Welcome.

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Sheppard blinked. Swiping the moisture from his face, he slowly sat up with a groan. Some welcome. What the….? Where was he? They – he amended seeing his team mates lying, sprawled around him haphazardly. Where were they? Not again, he thought as he frowned up at the sky as the steady drizzle slicked his hair and soaked into his clothes.

"Hey." He poked Ronon. "Wake up."

Ronon came to with a growl and a lunge, his blaster swinging in an arc.

"Easy. We're alone."

Ronon glared at him and swept the surrounding area suspiciously. "Where are we?"

Sheppard got to his feet and moved over to check on Teyla. "Hoped you know."

Ronon just looked at him. "No." He slid the gun back into its holster.

"Last thing I remember is stepping through the Gate."

Teyla rubbed her forehead. "The Gate is on the plains. How did we get in the forest?"

"That's the $64,000,000 question."

A groan emerged from Rodney. "What hit us? Were we stunned? Are we guests of the Wraith again?" He asked petulantly before even opening his eyes.

"No, Rodney. No Wraith." Sheppard drawled, shaking his head. When had they gotten blasé about being Wraith prisoners? The fourth, maybe fifth time?

"Oh, good." He cracked open an eye as he rolled over to his hands and knees and awkwardly stood. "I take back the 'good'." He muttered taking in the situation.

"Why would someone transport us to the middle of a forest and leave us?" Teyla asked somewhat bewildered at the situation. Usually, they were stunned and woke up in cells.

"I don't know."

"We still have our weapons." Ronon remarked.

"That's new."

"That's good." Rodney said.

"And no one is shooting at us." Teyla added, looking around to see if anyone was hiding behind trees.

"That's very good." The apprehension on Rodney's face lightened.

"You would think so." Sheppard replied distrustfully.

"What? What do you mean 'you would think so'? How could having our weapons and not being shot at be a bad thing?"

"I'm just saying, Rodney. Why would they leave us armed?"

"What? Oh," Rodney's face screwed up with dismay. "We're being hunted, aren't we?"

"We do not know that." Teyla said calmly.

"So which way to the Gate?" Ronon asked before McKay could say anything else.

They all looked at each other and at the forest they were standing in. They had no idea where they were or which direction to head.

"Maybe I can reconfigure the life signs detector to pick up the Gate energy signature although its so faint when not activated that if we are at any distance whatsoever from it I doubt that I'll be able to…."

"Just do it, McKay."

Rodney hunched over the device he'd pulled out of his vest, muttering about rude people always cutting him off.

Twenty minutes later, he sighed. Defeated. "Nothing. Until someone activates it or we get closer I won't pick up the signal."

"Great."

"We can't stay here." Ronon said brusquely.

"Obviously." Rodney snapped. "I only have enough food for lunch."

"If you didn't eat so much." Ronon muttered.

"Yes. That's our concern. Not the fact that unknown persons may be stalking us." Sheppard retorted, talking over Ronon's remark and sending him an 'enough' look.

Rodney sent heated glares in both their directions.

"They are both concerns." Teyla stepped into conversation before the bickering could get worse. "The question is which way do we go? The sun was behind us and to our right when we came through the Gate." She looked up and orientated to the sun. "It is now to our left. I would say we go that way."

"As good a direction as any at this point." Sheppard said and began heading in the direction Teyla indicated.