What Do You Mean, Vogons?

Sheppard stepped from the event horizon, P90 at port arms, scanning the area for hostiles and waiting for the familiar noises of his team following him. Upon hearing the third "bloop" (he still hadn't thought of a better word to describe the noise it made, despite numerous attempts over beers with Lorne), he gave the order to move out.

"Alright, McKay, let's look for that anomaly and get the hell out of here when it turns out to be another wasted trip."

"Your faith in the Daedalus's scanning abilities is both profound and likely well-justified," sighed McKay, who had strenuously objected to the trip. The Daedalus had reported a momentary reading on its long-range sensors indicating that a tear in the space-time fabric had occurred on this planet on its way by while stopped to fix a glitch in the hyperdrive, which McKay had scoffed at with more than his usual avuncular disdain, since P37-104 was known to be both long-uninhabited and free of useful technology, or, in fact, useful anything. A rare moment of complete accord between them on the necessity of the mission had resulted and had been promptly overruled by Dr. Weir, who, for a former UN negotiator, had a strange predilection for suspicion of bipartisanship, at least when it came to Sheppard and McKay. It probably had to do with that solar-system-destroying thing.

Beyond the DHD, a smattering of vaguely Greco-Roman ruins of the type they seemed to encounter virtually every damn where they went confronted them leeringly, and beyond them lay another goddam conifer forest, of the type Sheppard had sworn his mightiest oath never to enter again upon his return to Earth.

They strode forward, Sheppard, McKay, Teyla, and Ronon, with the rather odd air of casual wariness they had managed to acquire the ability to affect over the long years of being about to intrude on other people's happiness and way of life. McKay was peering intermittently at his scanner as they fanned out into a five-meter spread and moved off from the Stargate.

"Errr."

"Yes?"

"Hmmm."

"McKay!"

"Well, there does seem to be a residual reading..."

McKay's obvious reluctance to admit that there might have been any basis in reality for the Daedalus's report was grating on Sheppard's nerves.

"Dammit, is it there or not?"

"That way," McKay said resignedly, and pointed.

"Was that so hard?" asked Sheppard, then winced as McKay expounded on just how hard that admission had come for him. The others maintained the silence of long-suffering fortitude in the face of great temptation to violence as they meandered in the indicated direction.

XXXXXX

"... And personally," McKay held forth at even greater length, "I don't see why we had to come on this mission instead of any of those other damn redshirts-"

He broke off abruptly (causing no small amount of relief to his teammates in the process) as they crested a rise a few miles from the gate and came face to face with the strangest apparition any of them could recall having encountered on any of their many, many, gate travels to cause mischief and misery to persons wholly ignorant of mischief and misery's approach.

Before them stood a rather tallish, thinnish, unprepossessing specimen of homo sapiens, clad in a battered, threadbare dressing gown, even more distressed and mud-spattered bedroom slippers, and what appeared to be a pair of ragged, formerly blue-and-white-striped pajama bottoms. His brownish hair was long and scraggly, and a thick, luxuriant growth of beard (which irresistibly made Sheppard start humming "Jesus Done Left Chicago" to himself in his head) covered the lower half of his face.

They goggled. He goggled back, with some wordless working of his lower jaw upping the ante of dumbfoundedness. The apparition then raised the pot of incredulity with some aimless wandering of his left hand, as his right was clutching a rather nasty-looking bag of what appeared to be rabbit skin, which Shepherd noticed had a blue-and-white towel with big gold stars peeking from the top.

"Uh," began Sheppard incisively, "hi?"

The odd man gibbered demurely.

"My name's Colonel John Sheppard." He stuck out his hand.

The odd man looked at it like he'd been offered a possum which had some days earlier chosen the wrong time to cross a particularly busy thoroughfare.

"Shake?" prompted Sheppard, noticing for the first time what appeared to be a bone stuck somewhat dramatically, if such a thing may be said to have been done dramatically, in the man's beard.

The odd man slowly transferred the bag from his right hand to his left, then tentatively reached out and took Sheppard's outstretched hand. He shook it. He shook it and shook it.

After a bit, Sheppard found it agreeable to get his hand back.

"You're real!" said the man at last, speaking in a vocal style Sheppard seemed to recall from days in England listening to BBC radio. "I thought you were another hallucination, but I've never met you, and everyone else I've seen have been people I loathed, wouldn't you know it, so you must be real-"

Sheppard cut him off with a "simmer down" gesture. "Hey, hey, we get it. Who are you?"

"Dent. Arthur Dent," said Arthur Dent. He stuck his hand back out and Sheppard took it, shook once, and reclaimed his digits.

"Well, Mr. Dent-"

"Arthur, please..."

"Arthur, then. How did you get here?"

"Er..." Arthur seemed embarrassed suddenly, somewhat like a man who cannot explain to his wife how charges from the Moonlight Bunny Ranch came to be on his credit card bill dating to when he was supposed to be attending his father's funeral in Dunny-On-The-Wold, "Well, there was this Chesterfield sofa, you see... erm, perhaps we could get into that later?"

Arthur then held out his hand to Teyla, who graciously shook it with both of hers, saying now nice it was to meet him, and Ronon, who flipped him a jaunty salute and resumed staring uninterestedly into space, as he had been doing prior to this point.

While this was going on, Sheppard turned to McKay and raised his eyebrows.

"Well, ZZ McTop there is definitely human, and he's not the source of the tear, or giving off any radiation or anything, sooo..."

"Safe to take him back?"

"I guess. Let Carson check him out."

Sheppard turned to Arthur, who was tugging at his beard and looking at each of them in turn in the manner of a man who, upon being told by the attending physician at the emergency room that he has lost his testicles after a horrible deep-sea-fishing accident and being sedated after a perfectly understandable outburst of violence, has suddenly wakened to find it was all a mistake and a six-hundred-pound blue marlin did not, in fact, dine on his wedding tackle after all, and said, "So, Arthur, wanna come with us?"

"Erm, I don't suppose..."

"Yes?"

"... you have any tea?"