It was a simple trade mission. They were all simple trade missions, Ronon thought. If they'd simply said they were about to walk into enemy territory and encounter a hostage situation right from the beginning, maybe they could have been prepared. Brought more guns. Maybe a few grenades. Or, they could just avoid going to planets full of people eager to shoot at them in the first place.

At least this time, it hadn't been their team who screwed up. Lorne's team was supposed to check in an hour ago. Elizabeth had assured them that the team was probably just running late, looking as if she really wanted to believe it. Teyla had reiterated that it was a friendly planet; that her people had traded with them many times before, and had never encountered any problems. Sheppard had ordered them to suit up.

Ronon didn't think they were getting any teshla grain.


Nobody looked surprised when Lorne's team failed to meet them by the gate half an hour later. Ronon exchanged a look with Sheppard, and they settled in.


"I don't trust them."

Sheppard's look said he didn't, either, but they both knew that wasn't really the issue. Lorne's team had been missing over seven hours, and these people were still supposed to be allies. Which meant little, Ronon thought, except Atlantis wouldn't authorise a full-scale attack until other options were explored. Or until the rest of them were captured, too.

"You and McKay wait here. Teyla and I will be back in an hour."


After an hour and a half, Ronon stood up.

"Where are you going?"

He shot a look at McKay. "They're late."

"Yeah, I noticed. Shouldn't we call for backup?"

"If you want." He started forward, not waiting for the other man. "I'm going in."

For all his protests, McKay didn't hesitate; Ronon scanned the path ahead for sentries. "Fine. But when we get tortured and killed, I'm blaming you."

"Fine by me."

He unholstered his gun.


"What are you doing?"

Another look, and McKay fell uncharacteristically silent.

Three guards. Apparently alert, but Ronon guessed they weren't really expecting company. He circled around, the familiar sound of McKay following behind him. A twig snapped, and he grinned. "Follow my lead."

He took down the first guard before the others turned, and aimed again. He hit the second dead on, and ducked a shot from the third a second before McKay's Wraith stunner took him out.

This was more like it.

"Come on," he said, and didn't wait for McKay to catch up before he started forward again. He ducked out of sight at the sound of approaching voices, and shared a look with McKay.

The next three went down easily.

There wasn't much of a pattern to the patrols, as far as he could tell. It actually wasn't a bad tactic; their movements were irregular, which meant there was a smaller chance of getting through unnoticed.

It also meant these people probably weren't trained fighters, even if their weapons indicated otherwise. The third patrol went down quickly - four men, this time - and Ronon guessed they were getting closer.

As he and McKay crested the hill, he knew it.


"This isn't good."

Ronon nodded, ducking back behind a tree. At least it explained why the patrols had been relatively small up to this point; with close to fifty men guarding the village, they were secondary at best.

This was going to be short, either way.

"What do we do now?" McKay's voice was hushed beside him, and Ronon glanced around.

"Spread out. Heavy fire. Make them think we've got more manpower."

"More manpower than two?" McKay sounded sceptical; Ronon was used to it, by now.


"Great. How many men do you expect them to think we have out here?"

"As many as it takes." Being under fire was intimidating, especially if these guys weren't used to it; all they had to do was not get shot in the meantime.

"And you really think this is going to work?"

Ronon smiled, and started to move along the tree line. "Why not?"

The pulse pistol was an advantage; unfamiliar weapons always were. He was breathing heavily by the time half the guards had fallen, and he paused for a second.

He could hear shouts coming from McKay's direction, the sound of his weapon firing. They had good cover. They had the high ground.

Most of all, he was having fun.

He stayed low as he fired another couple of shots; one man went down, and bullets sailed into the trees behind him. They were getting irregular, now; the guards were panicking. It was almost too easy.

He didn't know how long it was before the opposing fire ceased. A few reinforcements had come, but not as many as he'd been expecting; stopping to catch his breath, he was glad of it. The last few soldiers went down quickly, and across the hill, Ronon caught McKay's eye, and grinned.


"What took you so long?"

Ronon straightened as he finished freeing Sheppard, and shrugged lazily. "I can come back later."

"That's okay." Sheppard crossed the room to retrieve his weapon, and handed another to Teyla. "Lorne's men are a couple of buildings over."

"Then let's go."

"Wait a minute." Sheppard stopped as they reached the doorway, and turned back to Ronon. "Where's the rest of our backup?"

"Didn't need 'em." Ronon looked around as he left the building, his gun still drawn.

"Then who the hell was making all that noise out there? It sounded like an entire army was attacking."


Sheppard stopped again, and Ronon rolled his eyes. "Wait, that was just you and McKay?"

He shrugged. "Yeah."

"You took down all those guards by yourselves?"


They reached the other building quickly; the door was open. "Just the two of you?"

Ronon's expression was blank as he turned to face Sheppard. "What, like it's hard?"

Sheppard let out a breath as they filed in; Lorne's men straightened, then relaxed as they recognised the team. "Remind me never to piss you off."