Title: Sineya's World
Fandom(s): Stargate Atlantis, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Categories: AU, gen, het, Crossover, xover, action, drama, romance
Summary: Rumours of a world protected from the Wraith reach Atlantis and SGA-1 are sent to investigate and form alliances, or at the least trading contacts.
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Teyla Emmagan, Rodney McKay, John Sheppard/Willow Rosenberg, Dawn Summers
AN: AU starting mid-Season2 SGA, just before 'Michael'. AU-BtVS Finale. Please forgive canon inconsistencies. Some spoilers, references to episodes from Buffy and SGA.
Warnings: past character deaths, sexual intimacy
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions own Willow Rosenberg, Dawn and Xander, Buffyverse, and co. Stargate SG-1 Productions (II) Inc., MGM Worldwide Television Productions Inc., Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp and Showtime Networks Inc / The SciFi Channel own John Sheppard, Teyla, SGAverse, Stargateverse, etc. I do not own the characters, and I'm not making money off my writing; it's for fun, purely non-commercial purposes.
For: LJ Community sgareversebang – Stargate Atlantis Reverse Bang 2012 – inspired by artwork #7, digital painting "Green Places" created by ileliberte on LJ.
~ooO Sineya's World Ooo~
Teyla Emmagen was not the sort to be thrown off when the unexpected occurs. Life in the Pegasus Galaxy was not kind to those who did not react quickly enough to change, good or bad. The Wraith cullings were a primary example of that. You might lose relatives, spouses, children, you grieved but life went on and you eventually re-married and had other children. Teyla was also more sophisticated than most of her people given her activities and experiences as a trader/spokesperson/diplomat. She had travelled to many worlds and interacted with other peoples, forming alliances and trade treaties when desired and possible. All of her experiences and upbringing helped her cope when the Tau'ri came, when the City of the Ancestors was raised from the ocean floor, when the Wraith were awakened, when she joined Atlantis to fight the Wraith. Teyla was quick to react and adjust to inexplicable situations, unexpected facts, difficult truths, hard situations, when enemies turned to friends and vice versa. Case in point, Ladon Radim who had offered a ZPM to Atlantis, for support when he staged a coup in the Genii leadership. He did succeed but the resulting experience made them even more wary of being embroiled with the Genii. Her colleagues in Atlantis called her unflappable and Teyla was proud of it. But this world… it threw her off.
Sineya's World was so rich and alive, almost overflowing with greenery and rich humid jungles. From what she observed the primary export of this planet was botanicals, herbal medicines and refined pharmaceuticals, trade items highly valued in the Pegasus Galaxy. Then how was it she had never heard of them before? Such a resource-rich world would have been whispered about, sought after by people like the Genii. Why had she never heard of Sineya's World? And more to the point how had this planet escaped being culled? Every race and world she knew of went through at least one culling every decade. But this world had not been culled in more than a hundred years!
"They might have some sort of defence, something like the electromagnetic field on M7G-677," Rodney speculated.
M7G-677 was a world where there were no adults, where the children raised themselves and had children at a very young age before committing suicide at twenty-five, to limit the population so the whole tribe could live in the same small village protected by a electromagnetic field generated by a ZPM powered device.
"It could explain why their population is rather small as well. If they practice birth control and have fewer kids later in life, so all of them can live in the limited area covered by the shield" John added looking around.
Teyla had to agree both John and Rodney did have valid arguments. There were very few young children running freely around the village. Most worlds in the Pegasus Galaxy prized children and protected them against potential threats, but SGA-1 was only four people, not a serious visible threat against an entire village! And John was so easy going and unthreatening. But if the Sineyans chose to have fewer children they would naturally be very careful with the ones they did have.
"There are fewer males and many same-sex pairings," Ronan rumbled.
And he was right. Teyla looked around more carefully and saw most of the villagers were women, women walking around in pairs or trios with another female or a male. She would have assumed they were kin if Ronan hadn't said anything. Now that she was looking closer she could see the small intimacies that would only be present in a romantic coupling. Very odd. Exclusive same sex pairings were not tolerated in most tribes, even her own. Because children were necessary for the tribe's continued survival, to recover from the cullings. Teyla knew of many such pairings that made arrangements with couples of similar inclinations, but opposite gender, in order to have children.
Their assigned guide, a tall mocha-skinned woman with curly black hair stopped in front of a centrally located hut.
"This will be yours, for the duration of your stay. The inside is divided into smaller chambers for privacy," she announced before turning to leave.
"Wait!" John called out. The woman stopped and turned. "Do you mind answering a few questions?" he asked with a smile.
The Sineyan looked amused, like she knew John was trying to get information out of her, but was not taking offence or slight. "Of course not. What do you wish to know?"
"Your name would be nice," John said before making introductions. "My name is John Sheppard but just call me John. This is Teyla Emmagen, Rodney McKay, and Ronan Dex."
Their guide nodded. "I am Thandi d'Kendra. Just Thandi is fine."
John held out a hand, a Terran custom. Teyla was surprised when Thandi responded gripping John's hand and shaking it. From John's imperceptible wince, Thandi's grip was much stronger than she appeared to be.
The team followed Thandi into one of the inside rooms set with chairs around a small round table. There was a tray with glazed dish-like cups and a metal ewer.
"It's flavoured water with salts," Thandi explained as she poured a cup for herself and all of them. "You loose salts and other minerals through sweat."
The answer surprised and impressed Rodney. "What kinds of minerals?"
Thandi shrugged. "The names are probably different. It's better if you speak to one of the scholars, or healers. I'm a warrior and I only know the healers insist we do certain things, or eat certain foods, to stay healthy. It works so I don't complain and just do it."
"Does Sineya's World trade with other planets or tribes?" John wanted to know. "We haven't heard much of your people."
The question amused Thandi. "Oh we trade. But they don't know who they're trading with." Seeing their confused expressions she explained. "Exchanges are always off-planet on a different world with many different buyers. Many have tried to track us down, to find out where we are getting the goods from, but no one has ever succeeded."
"But we did," Rodney countered.
"Only because our leaders wanted you to," Thandi said lightly.
That threw them off.
"What do you mean?" John asked warily. Teyla stiffened getting ready to spring into action at the first sign from John.
"We do not intend any harm," Thandi said directly. "Our leaders wish to speak to those who live in a City of the Ancients."
"A City?" Rodney pounced on the qualifier. "You mean you know of other Cities?"
Thandi nodded. "Yes. There is one on this world."
"Then why aren't you living there!" Rodney cried out exasperated.
Thandi shook her head. "There are many reasons. The biggest one is it's too damaged and difficult to access."
"Can we go and see it?" John asked. "We've seen other Cities that were damaged. But it might be possible to repair parts of the one on this world."
Thandi shook her head. "That is not a decision I can make. You will have to make your request to the Council."
John frowned slightly. "The Council? Your leaders?"
"Then we'd like to request an audience," Rodney interjected abruptly.
No one could mistake the gleam of amusement in Thandi's dark eyes. "I'm afraid you will have to wait. The Council members are not available until the Quarterly meeting being held in four days. You are more than welcome to stay and make your petition then."
Teyla decided it was best to speak and distract John and Rodney before they inadvertently caused offence. "That is most gracious and acceptable."
"Could we have a tour of the City site?" Rodney was determined to get his way.
"I'm afraid not," Thandi demurred.
"Why?" Rodney demanded to know.
"We currently do not have anyone who can be spared to guide you to the Ruins."
John smiled easily. "That's okay. You can just point us in the general direction and we can find our way."
"That would be irresponsible of us. Our world has many dangers and you have no training to identify the threats and to know what precautions need to be taken."
"My team has lots of experience dealing with unknown environments, with or without guides because most of the time there isn't anyone around to ask," John pressed to get his way.
Thandi sighed, an exasperated sound. "You might locate the Ruins but you will never succeed in getting inside without a guide. There is too much damage and none of the mechanisms work. At one point in our history it was a rite of passage for our younglings, to enter the Ruins and return with a small trophy. That stopped after several access points collapsed and they were declared as restricted lands. Our researchers spent years figuring out the most stable way to enter and exit the structure without causing a collapse. Even today anyone entering the Ruins must be accompanied by a specially trained guide. None of whom are in the village right now."
John nodded and smiled. "I understand. Can we request someone to show us the Ruins, when he or she is available? We'd like to compare it to others we have seen."
Thandi shrugged. "Dawn will be back tomorrow evening. If she is agreeable she can guide you the next morning." Her head tilted inquiringly. "Is there anything else you wish to ask?"
"Not at this time," Teyla murmured. Then she stood up and walked with Thandi to the main door and saw her off. When she returned her team mates were already in a deep discussion about what they had just learnt, and sharing their personal observations.
"They might have Ancient knowledge," Rodney said. "It might have been distorted and passed down through rote lessons, but they must have some knowledge of medicine, chemistry, and biology. There is no other way they could harvest biological materials and process them into drugs and medicines that are effective enough to be sought out by other worlds."
"They aren't very keen on letting us explore," John noted.
Ronan snorted. "That is common sense. You do not let foreigners wander around unescorted, for your own protection and theirs. And I have seen many jungles like these. With so much of growth and life, the ecology has to have a few big predators to thin out the herds."
Rodney made a face. "Ronan does have a point. Without several big predators the local ecosystem would collapse within a few generations. Earth's Amazon rainforests have lots of big cats and snakes and other venomous beasties like frogs and insects."
John looked around. "So we are in agreement, it's common sense refusal, not a potential hostage taking situation?"
"The trail to the Stargate is clearly marked with only a few guards. If we had to we could make a run for it," Ronan added.
John nodded. "Okay then. Hopefully this Dawn-lady is willing to show us the Ruins. If it looks like it's in okay shape we'll see about negotiating scavenging rights for replacement parts."
SGA-1 did not know but they had been observed by a certain group of individuals from the moment they had stepped through the Astria Porta on Sineya's World. They had scanned the housing provided for electronic bugs but they had no experience in detecting magical eavesdropping charms or blocking scrying spells.
The green-eyed red-head standing made a gesture ending the spell on the large portrait-window-sized mirror that dominated the wall at the front of the Meeting Room. The witch, once known as Willow Rosenberg, could have easily re-directed the spells into the four private bedrooms but that would be an invasion of personal privacy, and the Terrans had not done anything to necessitate such a measure.
She took her seat near the head of the table and glanced down the gleaming surface looking around at old familiar faces and new young ones in turn. They were Scoobies, Slayers and Watchers, the survivors of Sunnydale and their descendants, the remnants of their original home dimension. As her fellow Council members began a heated discussion on the sincerity of the Terrans, and the possibility of establishing contact with a world that was not their home, Willow let her mind drift to the past.
They had not expected to survive Sunnydale but they had with a comparatively high percentage of survivors. Once the school bus had cleared the crater that was Sunnydale they had made the fatal mistake of assuming everything was over. Because it wasn't.
Before they even reached civilization Whistler showed up and told them the Powers That Be were going to send them away, exile them from their home dimension, because there were too many Slayers from Willow's Calling spell, and that too many Slayers under the Scoobies leadership would skew the balance towards the light. And the Powers were more about balance than light or victory.
Buffy had screamed and threatened Whistler to no avail. They were forced out of their home dimension the day after they had struck the greatest blow against the dark. The information had put the newly awakened Slayers into shock. They had not expected such a betrayal from those who were supposed to be on their side. Surprisingly Xander was the one who managed to pull himself together, to bargain and take control.
The Sunnydale Slayers and survivors would be going together as one to this new dimension with assets, supplies and resources from the Council warehouses and properties. If there were any other fellow Champions or allies that were going to be exiled they would be sent to the Scoobies as well. The remaining newly awakened Slayers would have to survive the best they could, if the other Council survivors ever managed to get their act together. Some of the Slayers would do good, some would go bad. With very few Watchers to provide any guidance or help, nature would take over and eliminate the unlucky, unwary, and the inexperienced.
Then the core group of Sunnydale survivors found themselves stranded in this strange new world with three moons and alien constellations. They spent several months exploring this new land before confirming a few facts.
They were in a different star system, in a different galaxy.
There were no sentient locals on this planet they named Sineya's World but plenty of predators that were no real threat to Slayers.
They could travel to other planets and star systems via the Chappa'ai, the Astria Porta, the Gate to the Heavens described in one of their reference books.
There were plenty of sentients, humans on other planets, some good and some bad.
The Genii were misogynist asses who needed to be nuked back into the Stone Age.
The Satedans had been too proud and leery of foreigners to be good allies.
The race called the Ancients that had once lived on Sineya's World. The city ruins indicated the Ancients had great knowledge and talent in using both technology and psionic-powers, talents the exiled Sunnydalers called magic.
There were no demons that they found but there were terrible enemies as bad as any vampire or demon: the Wraith.
The people of Sineya's World were fortunate compared to many other worlds because they had a defence against the Wraith. Willow had found Wraith were vulnerable to magic, more so than humans. She had immediately set about making talismans, repelling charms, protective devices for everyone, especially those going through the Astria Porta. Then she set about casting perimeter wards around the Astria Porta, their communities and strongholds, to keep the Wraith out and unknowing. There had been many Wraith scouts that stepped through the Astria Porta and then back thinking they found nothing, saw no trace of human settlements.
In the years that followed they discovered several of the local predators secreted fluids that were very toxic, paralysing and lethal to the Wraith. The Slayers made it a point to form hunting parties to extract the venom from mature Fang-cats, to coat their weapons and darts in it before setting out on a Wraith Hunt. The hives never knew how many of their Scouts never returned because they fell under a Slayer's blade. Many worlds did not know they were patrolled and protected by roving Slayer teams who thinned the Wraith scouts sent out to locate human populated planets. The Sineyans didn't want their trade partners and more influential tribes to know and demand the Slayers to live on their world, to defend their people. Slayers were meant to protect everyone, not a select elite. And there were those like the Genii who tried to co-opt Slayers, to extract the secrets of their power and strength, to replicate it in their own people. The last group to try that were wiped out by Xander's Scorched Earth teams.
Slayers were a limited commodity in the Pegasus Galaxy. They only awakened from the female descendants of the original group from Sunnydale. It would have been impossible to find Potentials under such terms because in their original dimension Slayers were barren. Nikki Wood was the only Slayer to become a mother because she conceived and had Robin Wood before she was Chosen. In this world Slayers could conceive if her partner had a specific set of gene sequences, fragments from the Ancient genome, a rarity in the Pegasus galaxy. The Sunnydale group had resigned themselves to dying in one or two generations when Whistler dropped another heavy blow on them. The Sunnydale core group couldn't. Die that is. They were essentially immortal, cursed or blessed by the Powers, to never age until they found the right partner with the Ancient genes and had a child. Once that happened the immortality was deactivated and they would age normally.
Willow felt it was more of a curse. She had lived on Sineya's World for more than hundred and fifty years but had not aged a single year. The Sunnydale core group had watched their friends fall in love, have children, age, and die. Buffy was the first to do so but no one could begrudge the joy she found in Mathian and the children they had. Her descendants still called Willow Aunt. One by one each fell in love and raised a family, all but Willow, Xander, and Dawn. Willow because she loved Kennedy. Xander because he was driven to lead and protect, especially once Buffy and Giles fell in love and began aging. He was more worried about the future than his own love life. Dawn because she cared for Xander and Willow and did not want to leave them alone if she fell in love and began aging.
Willow had honestly thought they would be immortal forever, she and Kennedy, but then Kennedy fell in love with a man and left Willow behind. Kieran was kind and gentle and stable, everything that was best in Xander and Giles and he had cherished Kennedy. Willow learnt a hard lesson by then: letting go of the one you loved. Kennedy and Kieran were dead now but survived by their daughters, Rowena and Diana, both Slayers.
Willow suspected the Powers had pulled strings, because the Slayers seemed to have an uncanny instinct for the Ancient gene. They would be drawn to certain systems, to certain communities, to certain individuals, individuals with fragments of the necessary gene. Willow had been introduced to many men and women with the gene but none of them had clicked. She had resigned herself to immortality and loneliness, dreading the day when Dawn and Xander told her they had found their special someones.
"So we are in agreement then?" Dawn's familiar voice cut into Willow's maudlin thoughts. "I will show the City Ruins to the Terran group."
She bestirred herself. "Are you sure Dawnie? We can assign someone else to guide them."
Dawn shook her head. She had matured in looks but not aged since their exile. Nowadays she preferred to wear her hair twisted in rolls away from her hairline and secured in a chignon at the back.
"I want to get a good read on them."
There were nods of agreement from around the table. Dawn was best at getting information from her marks, male or female.
"When?" Xander asked bluntly. He rarely used the jokester persona nowadays. There was no one else who remembered the old Xander of her childhood.
"Day after tomorrow. I'll pretend to arrive tomorrow evening before meal time and get Thandi to introduce me."
Teyla hid a smile as she watched her team leader bounce in place, too eager to get moving. Today SGA-1 would finally get the chance to see the Ancient Ruins on Sineya's World. They were being guided by a very young and energetic looking milky-skinned blue-eyed brunette named Dawn d'Joy. Like most of the other residents, Dawn wore fitted leather pants, and lace-up moccasins made of nut brown suede. Her short-sleeved scoop-neck dark green top had an odd looking nubby texture that drew the eye with the subtle patterns of waves and flowers in the design.
Dawn smiled at Teyla and answered the question on the Athosian's mind. "It's called crochet. You use a slender wand with a hook on one end to knot the string in a certain way to create designs and different shapes." She touched her side and stroked the twisting vines that ran along her waist. "This was a gift from a good friend."
"Is it hard?" Teyla asked.
"Oh no. Basic crocheting is very easy," Dawn assured Teyla quickly. "Even if you don't know the advanced techniques of making clothing right off you can still make many squares that can be stitched together to make blankets or clothes. If you want to learn I can teach you," she offered.
"My mum knitted and crocheted," John offered. "She taught me when I was little. To keep me occupied and quiet," he admitted.
Dawn smirked. "And you admit it? Not a very manly pastime Colonel," she teased.
He grinned at her. "Lots of pretty girls joined the home ec and art-and-craft clubs," he countered. "Won lots of brownie points by showing 'my sensitive side'."
There was a comfortable silence as Dawn led the group deeper into the jungle, underneath the heavy canopy broken by stray beams of sunlight, the sound of rustling and other creatures within earshot.
Ronan and John were on alert.
"You don't have to worry," Dawn reassured them. "The lotion you were given has some stuff that repels the big predators. As long as we stay together they won't attack. Not unless they are very hungry or sick."
Rodney was intrigued. "Have you tried it on other planets?" he asked.
Dawn smiled and shook her head. "Without much luck. The lotion only works for the beasties on Sineya's World. Willow doesn't really travel off-world and she's the one who developed the blend."
Rodney perked up. "Willow? I don't remember meeting a Willow."
Dawn shrugged casually. "Willow's rather shy of meeting strangers." She looked into the distance with narrowed eyes. "We're almost at the Ruins. You should be able to see the spires in another ten minutes."
And she was right. In a few minutes they had left the heavy all-encompassing canopy and were standing on the banks of a broad slow-moving muddy-looking river. On the other side of the river were trees, but above the tops of those trees towered a sheer vertical slope covered with straggly vegetation, vines, and moss. On top of that cliff were several asymmetrical shattered bases of what had once been towering spires.
Rodney was aghast.
"It's overgrown! The jungle plants have probably overtaken and destroyed the interior without any shields to keep them out!" He rounded on Dawn. "Are there any interior rooms that are still sealed?"
Dawn gave him a sympathetic look. "I'm afraid not. Some are in better condition than others, but without the Ancient's power source it was impossible to maintain and use the structure. Oh some parts have been repaired and are used by our scholars but it is very hard to access those rooms."
Rodney was confused. "What do you mean?"
Dawn pointed at the sheer cliff face. "There once were ground-level exit and entry points but they've been overgrown and are unpassable. I know you have aircrafts but the mechanisms to open the bay doors are not working and most of the landing pads have collapsed and will not bear the weight of more than five people much less an aircraft."
Rodney was stunned silent, opening and shutting his mouth like a gobsmacked fish.
"Then how do you get in?" John wanted to know.
"We climb up," Dawn said pointing at the vine covered rough looking cliff face. "That is not rock but the outer walls of the Ruins. There are access points a certain distance above the ground. Most of the corridors have collapsed but there are a few that are clear and can be used to get to the inner rooms."
Rodney made a face but did not protest as Dawn led them to a narrow rope bridge suspended above the slow-moving murky river. It didn't take long to reach the base of the 'cliff'. It was less overgrown than the surrounding area and from up close it was easy to spot the hand-holds carved or hammered into the surface. Using the man-made grips, the thick heavy vines, and their own muscles, each member of the group followed Dawn up the not-natural cliff, up above the jungle canopy.
"Take a breather if you need it," Dawn urged from above. "The vines are very strong and won't break if they are thicker than your finger."
Teyla took the advice and paused in her ascension and looked out over the jungle they had just crossed. From up here it looked like any other forest. If it wasn't for Dawn guiding them they never would have found the Ancient City. Not without a Puddle Jumper to scan the entire planet. And if Dawn was right they might have even killed themselves trying to explore the Ruins.
After she caught her breath the Athosian continued her ascent to the point where Dawn had vanished. From here Teyla could clearly see the narrow deep crack-like opening. She swung across, gripping the edge of the opening, pulling herself into it. After crawling on her hands and knees for several body lengths Teyla found herself emerging from a wall some distance above the floor of a largish room. Carefully she dropped to the floor and waited for her teammates to join her and Dawn.
The first to appear was Rodney, who was panting heavily, followed closely by John and Ronon. John looked around with interest, allowing the MP-3 to slide and hang along his side, leaving his hands free as he walked forward.
He smiled at Dawn. "So, how about that tour?"
Two hours later the Atlantis team had gone through the ruined City using a reduced search pattern. The Sineyans claims about the City being damaged beyond recovery was true. Atlantis had been fortunate, because the Ancients had sunk it before evacuating/ascending. At the bottom of the ocean there had been few external influences corroding and eroding and weathering. This City had not been so fortunate. There were also no ZPMs, not even empty ones that needed to be charged up.
Rodney looked ready to tear his hair out.
"This city is a disaster!" he groaned. "Atlantis is a paradise! It only needed power, work to set up interfaces with our tech, and fairly minor cosmetic repairs. This City needs a complete overhaul! We'd be lucky to get any replacement parts!"
"Without power there is no transport system," John announced. "We had to walk everywhere and many corridors are collapsed dead-ends."
"The landing pads and shuttle bays are in the same place as in Atlantis and they have caved in and are now little jungle gardens," Ronan rumbled. "The railings are not reliable either and my foot went through several steps. It will take a small army to do all the repairs necessary to make it safe and inhabitable."
"The data storage and medical centres are more or less intact," Rodney said. "We might be able to scavenge replacement parts and perhaps some of the archived data but most of the city is a complete loss. My staff will have to be here to minimize damages and loss. The marines are not trained to do such delicate work."
"We will have to ask the Sineyans, if they are willing to trade and what," Teyla pointed out neutrally. "They did not seem very interested in Tau'ri weapons."
And it was true. Most other races first asked for guns, bombs, and other military hardware, especially after seeing it in action. The Sineyans had merely commented the guns lacked the penetrating power to take down the large top-level predators of their world.
John nodded slowly. "Let's ask Dawn, to get an idea how a trade request will be viewed." And they did.
Dawn did not look too surprised by the question.
"The Council will consider the request but will not agree without suitable compensation. The crystals are valuable because they are effective power foci and containers. And they are irreplaceable because we do not have the knowledge to grow or locate more of them. About the data storage they would be willing provided we get a copy of the data in a format we can access."
Rodney scowled. "That would be several thousands of books worth of printing!" he protested.
"I'm sure you have a electronic device that can act as a reader," Dawn pointed out reasonably. "Such an item and the means to power it would be a suitable part-payment."
John cut off Rodney's reflexive refusal. "I'm sure Elizabeth would be willing to donate a laptop and solar charger as part of the trade," he said smoothly, giving the scientist a warning look to be silent. "Of course additional units will have to be paid for."
"Of course," Dawn agreed equitably. "We have plenty of goods you might be interested in. Our healers have developed many effective painkillers, antibiotics, and treatments to diseases we have encountered on several planets. Most are organic and compounds made from plants and animals we harvest from the jungles. For example, the venom from fang-cats is a very effective paralyser that can be used as anaesthesia for operations. Willow spent a lot of time ensuring the compounds are safe with minimal side-effects."
Rodney perked up. "Really? Carson has been looking for local sources," he told John directly. "We often end up trading away our own drugs." He turned and gave Dawn a sharp look. "You know, if you have all these drugs you're willing to trade how come we've never heard of you before?"
Dawn smiled blandly. "We prefer to work through trustworthy intermediaries, so trouble doesn't land on our doorstep. Unfortunately greed makes usually dependable contacts turn unreliable. So we always limit the size of a shipment, and we always make the exchanges on unoccupied planets."
John sighed. "That is a very smart idea. Don't they try to track your traders origins? Use locating beacons? Bribes? Threats?"
Dawn inclined her head. "All the time. Our precautions keep the most selfish and destructive beings from reaching us." She waved around. "It's part of the reasons why Sineya's World has not been culled by the Wraith in a long time. However it doesn't mean it doesn't have its own set of problems." She made a face. "Our population is rather small and limited and the resulting isolation doesn't help. Most of our females have to travel offworld, often as traders or mercenaries with the nomad tribes. In the course of their travels they often meet suitable mates and bring them back to Sineya, to settle down and have children."
Rodney made a face and snarked at John. "Too bad none of them ever ran into you before now. We could have made contact with the Sineyans long before now."
Dawn couldn't hide her grin. "Oh really? You sound jealous. Would you prefer to have run into a Sineyan fem yourself? We do tend to be attracted to stronger dominant males who can hold their ground. We'd run over anyone without a backbone."
Rodney blushed, and sputtered as his friends laughed, and then fell into a sulky silence.
Teyla couldn't quite hide her smile as Dawn led them out of the overgrown ruins. Perhaps the Sineyans would agree to let them scavenge replacement parts for Atlantis, and perhaps they wouldn't. But either way Teyla was sure they had laid the foundation stones for a strong future relationship.
After they returned to the village, and the whole team had convened for a quick meeting, she said as much. And she was smug when all three males agreed with her.
"They've been on this one planet longer than most of the other Pegasus natives. And they seem more scientifically developed. Their medicine knowledge certainly isn't primitive." Rodney commented.
"They are strong and bold yet cautious," Ronan said. "It would be interesting to find out how they managed to hide their existence from everyone, including the Wraith."
"That is what puzzles me," John admitted. "If one person spills the beans why haven't more people heard rumours of Sineya's World?"
"They have ways of enforcing their secrecy," Ronan speculated. "Perhaps conditioning?"
John frowned slightly disturbed at the potential explanation.
"We do not know," Teyla pointed out. "Speculation is useless unless we have some facts to back it up. Our guides, Thandi and Dawn, they were both honest. They did not lie as far as I could tell; they simply refused to answer our questions."
John made a face. "And I can't fault them for that. Anyone with access to confidential information responds that way, especially those employed by military and classified projects. Every resident probably has the equivalent of National Guard training. It makes sense if they will be travelling off-world solo or in small groups."
"I'm interested in meeting Willow d'Giles," Rodney announced. "Her name seems to come up in connection with scientific research and discoveries." Rodney had been talking with several of the local equivalents of scholars, teachers, and researchers.
John blinked. "The same Willow?"
Rodney shrugged. "Probably. We can ask tomorrow."
Teyla made a soft noise. "Perhaps she would be interested in visiting Atlantis," she offered. "If she is truly a scholar and researcher, a scientist interested in exploring the universe, she might wish to see and perhaps stay a few weeks and watching the scientists."
Rodney made an agreeable noise. "I'd like to meet her first," he said.
And with that the group dispersed to retire for the night.
The next day, when Teyla made the suggestion/offer to Dawn d'Joy, the former Sunnydale native, was both surprised and intrigued.
"I don't know," she finally said. "It's really Willow's choice and she hasn't been interested in going off-world for a long time now."
"But will you ask her?"
"I will but I'm not making any promises. The choice to go off-world is always a personal one. Everyone who goes off-world usually has a very good reason. I can introduce you to Willow though," she added off-handedly.
Teyla was quick to respond. "Please. I would like to meet her myself."
Dawn was pleased Teyla had caught the implied words. You'll have to persuade Willow yourself. She laughed and said, "Everyone knows who you guys are. Willow is the red-head in green." She pointed out to a slender woman dressed in a long dark green dress with dark red hair braided around her head. She was talking to a dark-haired man dressed in dark brown leathers and a black eye patch covering his left eye.
Teyla nodded and moved away.
Dawn watched the Athosian approach Willow. A small smile curved her lips as she moved to watch Teyla make her sales pitch. Dawn would miss Willow but it was high-time the witch was exposed to new people and different experiences. Willow had been hiding from the possibility of meeting someone new all these decades and as far as Dawn was concerned it was time she met someone special, someone just for her.
Willow was not surprised when she was finally approached by the Athosian woman. By the request yes, but for being approached, no. Honestly she had expected Rodney McKay to interrogate her about her research methodologies and resources. But then again they probably thought if they wanted her to agree willingly they needed to keep him from interacting with her. His personality and social skills were too abrasive for most people but Willow, Xander, and Dawn were a hardy lot. They survived Cordelia and Anya, two people renowned for their verbal bluntness and full-speed-ahead personalities. Her hesitation must have shown on her face because Teyla was quick to speak.
"You won't be forced to stay if you don't want to. Of my people only I felt comfortable living in the City of the Ancestors. I still visit my kin on the mainland. I'm certain Elizabeth Weir will make similar arrangements for you to travel back, or have guests."
But Willow was still hesitant. She still had bad memories of the Initiative and several other military-ops that went very sour.
"They are honourable people. They will not force you to do or say anything," Teyla reassured the red-head.
"But can you promise your leader will not be replaced by one who is not so honourable?" Willow countered.
"Such an event cannot take place without some advance notice." Teyla said after some thought. "If it happens we will ensure you are off Atlantis at the least, so you can make your way home or to a neutral world." Still seeing the doubt Teyla pressed on. "John Sheppard is honourable and trustworthy. He will not let anything bad happen to you. He has gone against his superiors and orders in the past, to do what is right," the dark-skinned woman confided.
That was enough to shift the balance in favour of Atlantis. Willow knew she was in a rut, going through the motions, uninterested in exploring and discovering something new because she felt alone and isolated, with no one who was interested in listening to her work, challenging her preconceptions and beliefs. She wasn't really athletic or physical and didn't have much else she could share with Xander and Dawn who were often actively involved with the patrol teams and merchant caravans.
I don't have much to lose by going. I'll never meet other people if I stay on Sineya's World. Besides the defensive and deflective wards have been anchored and stable for more than two decades now. Even if I never return Sineya's World will be safe.
She inhaled deeply and gathered up her dusty long-forgotten courage.
"All right. I'll join you on Atlantis, for let's say hundred Sineyan days. If both of us are okay at the end of that time we can extend the arrangement indefinitely."
Teyla smiled. "That sounds wonderful. We can delay our departure so you can pack everything you wish to bring."
Willow waved a hand. "That's not necessary. I can send a message to Dawn if I need something I cannot find a substitute for."
Teyla bowed her head. "Would you like to meet the rest of my team?" she asked.
Willow shook her head. "Not now." She smiled wryly. "I need to start packing."
"If you need any help…"
Willow smiled and waved off the offer. "Thank you but no. I'll grab two of my students to get started while I pack my personal belongings."
Teyla watched the slender woman withdraw and cross the crowded room, occasionally stopping to greet a Sineyan. She spent more time talking with Dawn and the man with the eye patch. Then all three of them left the party. Teyla wondered how close Willow and Dawn were, and the exact nature of their relationship with the one-eyed man. Was it a three-some that was so common here, or was it purely familial? Teyla wasn't certain but she didn't feel it was appropriate to ask at this point in time. Perhaps a few weeks after Willow had settled into Atlantis.
She just hoped Rodney McKay wouldn't drive off the woman with his abrupt manners.