The village seemed deserted, no campfires, no signs of life not even the local wildlife was making a sound. The place was like a ghost town which seemed impossible as Sheppard and his team where just trading with them a few weeks ago. The search teams so far had found nothing.
"Lorne, anything yet" radioed Sheppard
"Nothing sir, it's kind of creepy out here I mean where does a whole village disappear to" No one mentioned a culling, there was no tell tale signs of one happening.
"Wait, wait, wait" McKay shouted while snapping his fingers together in this annoying way "One life sign below us just over there, its' very weak that's how I nearly did not spot it"
Ronan and Sheppard searched the area McKay had pointed out. "Over here Sheppard" Ronan said as he moved some wood out of the way to reveal a trap door. "McKay, Teyla get over here and get ready to open this up"
Teyla and McKay grabbed either side of the door while Ronan and Sheppard stood with weapons ready. One nod from Sheppard and they lifted the door, the smell hit the team before they could comprehend what lay beneath them.
"Oh my god" whispered McKay as his eyes took what lay beneath the team. There where bodies of men, women and children laying at the bottom of the pit. Ronan pointed out deep scratch marks on the side of the walls, indicating that they had been trying to get out.
"We need to move now" Sheppard said snapping everyone out of the trance they all seemed to be in. "But…" McKay started to say.
"Rodney, you said life sign" whispered Sheppard
"Yes, but that would mean…..Oh God" McKay's voice trailed off as he realised the life sign was underneath the mass of bodies below him.
"Lorne, get back to the gate and radio Atlantis tell them we need a medical team here now" radioed Sheppard "Roger that sir".
Sheppard stood by the pit thinking of a set up to start moving the bodies, McKay stared off into space as he tried to keep the nausea that threatened to erupt in his stomach. Ronan was scanning the village looking for any hint of movement itching for payback on whoever had done this.
Teyla crouched down at the top of the pit with grim determination etched into her face, when they heard it. A very faint whimpering sound coming from the pile of bodies below them. Sheppard lowered himself into the pit trying not to fall over the bodies trying to trace the source of the sound when a small hand shot into view. "Ronan, I need a hand moving these bodies we've got to get them out of here now" Ronan and Sheppard as quickly as possible moved the bodies one by one until a they uncovered what seemed to be a child of no more then 12 years old staring up at them with bright blue but terrified eyes.
"Hey, my names John that's Ronan, McKay and Teyal. Were here to help you" The child just looked at Sheppard.
Sheppard held out his hand and hoped the child would reach out for his.
"What's your name" asked Teyla
The child slowly lifted it's head and looked at Teyla, lips started to tremble as the child tried to summon the courage to speak.
Major Lorne suddenly came through on the radio telling the team that the medical team had arrived and would be with them within 5 minutes. Sheppard looked back towards the child who had mercifully passed out.
Sheppard and Ronan grabbed the child and with the help of Teyla and McKay got out of the pit and on the ground checking for injuries.
Keller and her medical team arrived within two minutes and got to work on the child. "What the hell happened here?" Keller asked Sheppard "We found the child in the pit, surrounded by dead bodies don't know for how long". Keller looked up at Sheppard then glanced over to the pit and asked "Any more alive down there?" Sheppard just shook his head and then asked "How is the child?" "Malnourished, dehydrated and in shock which is not a surprise considering where you found the kid. We'll stabilise and get back to Atlantis asap then asses injuries"
"Major Lorne, I want your team to escort Keller and her team back to Atlantis, bring back another jumper and do a sweep of the village and the surrounding areas for life signs" Lorne nodded and him and his team set off with Keller and her team back to the gate. "McKay, any more life signs on the LSD?"
"No, nothing John. What we going to do with these people, we can't just leave them like this?" "Were not, were going to give them some dignity and a decent burial". After what seemed to be hours to the team but was really only thirty minuets, Major Lorne voice came over the radio.
"Colonel Sheppard, Keller and her team are back on Atlantis. We've begun or sweep of the village and nothing yet sir"
"How's the kid?"
"Keller gave her a sedative and she's sleeping, dehydrated but no physical injuries". They all knew the damage would be physiological, no one not alone a child should have to go through something like that.
"Ok, finish your sweep of the surrounding areas and then get back here, were almost finished burying the dead here could do with a hand" "Roger that sir".
Night had fallen by the time the teams had finished the burial site, they all just stood around no one knowing what to say all lost in there own individual thoughts. One by one they slowly walked away trying not to show the emotional strain on there faces.
Back on Atlantis, Keller and Carter where discussing what they could do for the child. "Physically she's fine a bit dehydrated but no physical injuries, it's the mental side I'm worried about" explained Keller.
"What can we do for her?" asked Carter.
"Give her counselling and just try to let her release her emotions and be there for her is about all we can do. I gave her a sedative, so she should sleep for a few hours yet".
"Thank you Jennifer let me know the minute she wakes up"
Keller nodded and set off back to the infirmary to check on her newest patient.
As Carter set off back to her office, she was stopped in the control room by Chuck.
"Mamm, Colonel Sheppard has reported in. No sign of anymore survivors, but will keep searching and will radio back in within 2 hours".
"Thank you Chuck keep me informed"
As she sat down at her desk she could feel the emotions begin to stir deep inside her. Wiping the tears that had suddenly begun to fall down her face, she began to read the latest mission reports.
"Incoming wormhole" shouted Chuck as the gate sprung to life.
"Is it Sheppard?" asked Carter as she approached the gate room.
"It's Major Lorne's IDC but Colonel Sheppard's team is with them" Chuck replied as the wormhole engaged and the room was filled with light.
"Open the iris Chuck, let's see if they've found any more survivors", Carter replied as she set off for the jumper bay's.
The puddle jumpers came through the gate and the roof slowly retracted as the pilots flew to the jumper bays.
The look on the teams face's gave Carter all the information she needed as they descended the jumper ramps. Covered in dirt, damp with sweat and tears they slowly made there way out of the jumper bay to there quarters.
"We found no one else alive, just bodies a whole village wiped out. It was not the wraith as not one was fed upon, we've no idea who done it but I do intend to find out" the anger and conviction in Sheppard's voice was clear for all to hear as he walked past Carter towards his quarters. He needed a shower and change of uniform as the stench of death was so over powering it was making him nauseous. He stopped just short of the doorway and asked "how's the kid?"
"Dr Keller gave her a sedative, she's still sleeping. No sign of physical injuries but the psychological damage, we'll have to wait and see" replied Carter.
Sheppard nodded as he continued on his way to his quarters.
McKay, Teyla and Ronan heads down followed him out of the room, leaving Carter alone with her thoughts…
As McKay turned into the infirmary, he was not surprised to find Teyla, Ronan and Sheppard sitting by the kid's bedside. All of them had showered and changed and came to see how the kid was doing, she was still sleeping soundly the sedative not worn off just yet.
"How's she doing?" asked McKay
"Physically she's fine" replied Keller who was approaching the bed to check on the saline drip attached to the girl. "I'm just worried about the physiological side when she wakes. No one, let alone a kid should have to go through an ordeal like that".
"Will she be ok to answer a few questions?" asked Sheppard, "She might be able to help us find out who did this"
"I don't think she'll be answering any questions for a long time yet John, she may be to traumatised to say anything" replied Keller.
A small whimpering sound from the girl interrupted the conversation, Keller looked on with concern etched onto her face. The whimpering soon exploded into a piercing scream followed by the girl convulsing on the bed.
"Help me hold her down, she could injure herself" shouted Keller. Ronan grabbed her legs while Sheppard held down her arms each trying not to put too much pressure on the limbs. A nurse had handed Keller a sedative, but just as she was about to inject the girl her eyes suddenly shot open. Her terrified eyes moving back and forth taking in her surroundings, then she passed out!
Keller moved fast, checking the girls heart rate and blood pressure. Sheppard and the team looked on with growing concern on there face's. "How is she doctor Keller?" asked Teyla.
"Her heart rate and blood pressure are a little high, but that's to be expected. She's sleeping again, we'll just have to keep an eye on her and wait until she wakes again".
"Let me know the minute she wakes doc, we need some answers on what happened" Sheppard said as he walked out the infirmary door,
"Have you ever heard of anything like this happening before?" Sheppard asked Ronan and Teyla as the team sat in the canteen eating. Well McKay was eating everyone else was pushing the food around there plates thinking about who and why and what they could do to stop it from happening again.
"You going to eat that?" he asked Sheppard. His eyes lit up when Sheppard passed his plate over to him. "Hey I need to eat otherwise I'll have a hypoglycaemic reaction plus I need to get my strength up for when we go after the bastards that did this". Sheppard, Teyla and Ronan looked at each other and then at McKay, surprised by the conviction in his voice and determination in his eye's. They where interrupted by the com's going off in there ear's, "Colonel Sheppard please report to the infirmary, she's awake" Colonel Carter was sitting by the hospital bed as the team entered the infirmary watching over the girl as she stared with bright blue eyes at her surroundings. With a slight nod, Sheppard sat down on the other side of the bed and smiled at the young girl.
"Has she said anything yet?"
"Nothing so far John, she's still in a state of shock. We must give her time to come around in her own terms when she is ready she will let us know" Unhappy, but with deep understanding of the situation John nodded his head in agreement. "I would like to go back to the planet to see if there is anything we've missed, there has to be some sort of clue to who did this somewhere"
Carter looked at John then the rest of the team who where all stood around the bed watching with determination in there eyes, hell even McKay looked like he wanted payback. "You have a go John, but take Major Lorne and Henderson's teams with you report in every two hours".
As soon as the jumpers had cleared the Stargate on the planet, they each split off into different search patterns, Major Lorne's team taking the wooded area and Henderson's team taking the hills. Sheppard had decided to take a look back down in the village to see if they'd missed anything last time.
"Report in if you see anything, no matter how small it may seem I want to know" A firm acknowledgement was received from both jumpers. After the jumper had landed the team walked back towards the village in silence and slowly where drawn to the burial site. Sheppard was the first to notice something was not right, something was different. His stance changed alerting Ronan and Teyla who in turn raised there weapons in readiness in case of any hostiles. McKay was so engrossed at the screen of his LSD that he knocked into Ronan and was about to protest until he realised something was wrong and raised his P90 at the ready. "What is it" he whispered to Sheppard. Unsure, Sheppard motioned for Teyla to watch there six and slowly moved forward with Ronan drifting slightly to the left of him, McKay slowly followed.
They could not of imagined what greeted them as they reached the burial site, it had been disturbed and most of the bodies had been removed! Drag marks indicated them being dragged off to the jungle. "Jumpers two and three have you detected any life signs at all?" Sheppard asked into his radio.
"Negative Sir" was the reply from both jumpers.
"We have a situation, someone has taken the bodies from the grave and the tracks show them being taken to the jungle, so Henderson radio back to Atlantis and tell them we want two more jumper teams here asap".
"Roger that Sir" replied Henderson.
"Major Lorne, sweep the area for any signs of life. As soon as the other teams arrive I want your team to come with us so we can check every single blade of grass on this damm planet. I want these people found". The conviction and anger in Sheppard's voice was evident for everyone to hear and everyone felt the same.
After jumpers four and five had joined in the search, Sheppard and Lorne's teams started there search on the ground. Not one single rock was unturned in there search for the villagers, but after four hours they still came up empty. Frustration was starting to effect the teams as they could not figure out just what had happened to the villagers, it was as if they'd been sucked off the planet. Sheppard called the teams to a halt for a rest and to talk over theory's and ideas anyone had as to just what had happened.
The jumpers had found nothing. In frustration Sheppard ordered everyone back to Atlantis as night was closing in fast.
As the weeks went by with no sign of the villagers or who had taken them, the search was called off. The little girl was now on her feet and living with an athosian family on the main land, and was beginning to remember little bits of information. Her name was Junko and had been told stories since she was small, and always thought the stories had been just to keep the kids out of the jungle. Sheppard relayed just what had happened on that day to the rest of his team.
"This tribe are called the Tolko's they took the villagers for sacrifice to there god's and for food"
Nausea threatened to erupt from McKay's stomach as he took in just what Sheppard was telling them. "You mean they are cannibals?" he gulped.
A nod of the head was all Sheppard did in return. "None of the villager's have ever seen them before and did not realise what was happening until it was to late. Junko only survived because her mother threw her into the hiding place before everyone was slaughtered, not knowing that it was about to be used as a place to throw the bodies".
The room was silent for a very long time as each of the team members digested this new information. "She has asked if she can go back home to say a last goodbye to her family and friends" remarked Sheppard. "I'd understand if any of you don't want to go back….." His sentence was cut short as all of the team each stood up ready to go back. With a nod of understanding, Sheppard and his team headed to the jumper bay to take Junko home to pay her last respects.
As Junko stood in her own thoughts by the now empty grave site Sheppard and the team kept a weary eye on the surrounding area, the thought of cannibals sent a ice cold feeling in there veins.
"I'm ready to go now" Junko said as the sun began to set in the distance.
With a heavy heart Sheppard and his team got back into the jumper and headed back to Atlantis, knowing they would never understand the evil that still lived in the galaxy. Just as they entered the event horizon McKay thought he'd caught something on the LSD but passed it off as a glitch.
A lonely figure dressed in animal skins and carrying a spear stood on the mountain top watching as the Jumper past through the portal. As he turned and walked away he grasped the necklace of finger bones he wore as a trophy to his god and the tribe he lived with. He knew that in a few days more people would come to there home, they always did. No his people would never die of hunger, his god would see to that!