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Week #68-70: The Court of Athos

Title: The Court of Athos
Author: schneefink
Rating: G
Words: 1440
Summary: A few hours after they arrive in Pegasus the Earth expedition meets the Queen of Athos.
Notes: Thanks to tari_roo for beta. Also on AO3.


Halling straightened and looked at John and Ford for a long moment. He seemed strangely unconcerned for someone who found a group of unknown men at night pointing weapons at his children, John thought.

"Queen Teyla will wish to meet with you. Come."

***

"So, a queen, huh?" John asked the kids. Halling had led them onto a broad road through the forest that was illuminated by fire bowls on both sides. Every few yards stood a strange sculpture that looked vaguely like a power generator of some kind. John wondered what kind of technology the people on this planet had.

"Teyla's been queen for five years," the boy without the mask said.

"No, longer than that," the other one said. "And the Wraith haven't come in all that time! She's making us increase the defenses and then we can go to the Old City!"

"Shhh, we weren't supposed to hear that!" the first one whispered and nudged his friend.

"The Wraith?" John asked, shining his flashlight into the trees. From what little he could see of them in the dark they looked similar to Earth's. He tried to remember the complicated explanation one of the scientists at the SGC had given him. It had boiled down to "probably terraforming."

"You don't know them?"

"Which world are you from? Your queen must be very strong!" the boy with the mask said admiringly.

"Yeah, she does all right," John said vaguely. Did all alien planets around here have queens?

"Look, that's Teyla's sign!" They were approaching something that looked like an electric fence, about three yards high. The masked boy pointed at a large dark flag above the opening.

"It's not on, he can't see it, dummy," the other one said.

"You have to leave your weapons here," Halling said from the front, standing between the torches before the fence.

"We can't do that," Sumner protested. "We don't know you."

"We don't know you either. This is Queen Teyla's territory, and we can't let strangers in carrying weapons."

John couldn't see it in the dark from his position, but he was willing to bet that Sumner was glaring. But Halling looked back at him without moving an inch, and eventually Sumner handed his gun to Bates.

"Bates, Jones, you stay here and keep watch. Stay in radio contact."

"Yes sir."

As soon as everyone had passed over their weapons, Halling led them into the village. John tried to look around, but Halling led them quickly to the biggest tent.

"It is Halling. I bring men from away who wish to trade," Halling called.

"Enter," a calm voice replied, and Halling opened the tent.

Sumner motioned for Ford and John to follow him and then entered after Halling. He didn't seem happy about the situation, and John wondered if being weaponless bothered him or if he just didn't like monarchies.

A woman stood in front of a table. She didn't wear a crown or any obvious insignia, but her posture and expression were confident. Behind her six people sat on benches, obviously in the middle of a meal, and eyed the strangers curiously. The tent was decorated with furs and baskets and illuminated by candles on the table and electrical lamps on the ceiling. From the fence and the power generators John had expected to find more technology, but maybe they kept it elsewhere. The food on the table was plentiful and the people looked well-off, and John hoped that that indicated good conditions for trade.

Should they bow or something like that? John glanced at Sumner, but he looked straight at the woman. Halling lowered his head when he told her how he'd met them, but that might just be because he was so much taller than her.

"I am Teyla Emmagan, Queen of the Athosians," she introduced herself.

"Colonel Marshall Sumner, Major Sheppard, Lieutenant Ford. We have very few specific needs, ma'am."

"We do not trade with strangers," Queen Teyla said with conviction.

"Is that a fact?" Sumner said.

"Well then we'll just, uh, we'll have to get to know each other," John offered, smiling at her. She glanced at him.

"Who is your queen, and can you speak in her name?" Teyla demanded.

"We don't have a queen," Sumner said, almost challengingly. He definitely didn't like monarchies.

Teyla's eyes narrowed.

"We speak for the leader of our people, but she had to stay behind because we weren't sure if it was safe," John added quickly, putting some emphasis on the word 'she'. Sumner noticed and gave a grudging nod.

"Why have you come if you doubt the intentions of the Athosians?" Teyla asked sharply.

"No, it's just, we didn't know who'd be here. We're kind of, uh, new to this area. That's why we're looking for friends."

Teyla looked at him, and John tried to inject as much friendliness into his smile as possible.

"What is your leader's name?"

"Elizabeth. Elizabeth Weir."

She invited them for tea, so it must have worked.

***

"No," Teyla said. "You cannot enter the City of the Ancestors."

After sunrise most of the Athosians had left, and Teyla had invited them to a smaller tent to negotiate. It was open towards the lake, and from where he stood John could see the grey sky through the grating overhang.

"It is not safe. The Wraith will come," the man next to her – Torin? – explained.

"You said you have never seen them," Teyla said before Sumner could say something, "but believe me when I say they are formidable enemies. If you enter the City and the Wraith come, it is my people who will suffer."

Sumner looked frustrated. "I understand, ma'am, but what we could find there is very important for us." He hesitated and then offered: "We will help defend your people if the Wraith come."

Ford seemed surprised at that, which in turn surprised John. He didn't know the Lieutenant well, but he seemed to be a good kid, and last night he'd quickly warmed up and tried to joke with the Athosians. Sumner hadn't talked much, but he'd listened attentively to what little Teyla told them and watched John sharply the whole time as if to check that he wasn't giving too much away. John suspected that he had, at least according to Sumner's criteria, but Bates had interrupted them to show them the city he'd seen before Sumner could berate John.

"We're building additional defenses against the Wraith. When they are finished we will explore the City of the Ancestors to learn from them. If your people and mine become allies, we may invite you to come along."

Torin's expression made it clear that he found Teyla's offer more than generous, but Sumner wasn't satisfied. "And when will that be?"

"In a few months."

"We could help with that. We're good with technology, and the work would go faster," John offered. From what he'd seen the Athosians didn't have as much or as advanced technology as Earth.

"We can discuss that with your leader. If we are to be allies, I want to meet her," Teyla said directly, looking at Sumner.

Sumner hesitated, looking uncomfortable.

"We might not have a choice, sir," John said quietly, turning to him. "We'll probably need to evacuate soon."

"Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, Major," Sumner replied. He looked at Teyla. "We're having temporary problems at our current base. We might not be able to stay there. Could we stay here for a while, ma'am?" The honorific sounded a tad forced, but at least he was trying.

Teyla tilted her head. "For a short while, but not as our guests. We can't host an entire people who are not even our allies yet. But there are many abandoned planets that your people could settle on. We can help you find one that suits your needs."

"Thank you," Sumner said, and he seemed to mean it. John hadn't thought that he was a person who said that often. "Lieutenant, contact Doctor Weir and tell them they can come here if they need to evacuate."

"I look forward to meeting her," Teyla said. "But if you wish to make contact with other worlds, it would be easier to call her your queen. A strong people who do not have a queen are frequently seen with suspicion."

"We'll think about it," Sumner said.

"She'll be fine with it," John muttered to Ford.

"That's what I'm afraid of, Major," Sumner said.

***

Months later, when they finally contacted Earth again, Elizabeth couldn't quite hide a grin at Jack's reaction when Sumner automatically called her his Queen.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
londonsabre
Sep. 28th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
Loved this!

schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:52 am (UTC)
Thank you :D
(Deleted comment)
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:53 am (UTC)
I must have watched Rising ten times while writing this ;) Thanks!
tari_roo
Sep. 28th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
Ah, its good to be Queen. I'd love to see Jack's face at that moment.

Awesome little AU!
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:55 am (UTC)
It would depend on the situation, but probably a very skeptical look, eyebrows raised, until Sumner realizes what he said and tries to back-pedal. Then either a grin or a very serious face. *g*
Thanks :)
tari_roo
Sep. 29th, 2012 11:52 am (UTC)
In a snapshot - PERFECT!

Pleasure :)
panisdead
Sep. 28th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
"Yeah, she does all right," John said vaguely.

This struck me as PERFECTLY John. Hah!
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:56 am (UTC)
Hehe, glad you think so ;)
esteefee
Sep. 28th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
\o/ HA LOVE LOVE LOVE. this is awesome. I especially liked how in character John was, taking in the subtle cues and reacting appropriately, while Sumner was all stiff but still grudgingly making the right decision. brilliant.
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
Thanks! :D
Can I have an author tag please?
esteefee
Sep. 29th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
done.
ceitie
Sep. 29th, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
Hah, very cool alternate verse!
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)
ladysorka
Sep. 29th, 2012 07:54 am (UTC)
I really like this - it shows what kind of influence the Wraith could've had in the Pegasus galaxy, in a way that just makes sense.

And yay, Sumner lived in this universe!
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 11:00 am (UTC)
Yes, I think over 10,000 years there are all kinds of ways human society could have changed due to the Wraith. And I like Sumner alive ;) Thanks!
ozsaur
Sep. 29th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
Very intriguing AU! Love the idea of Teyla being a Queen. And Sumner and John were very much in character. Enjoyed it!
schneefink
Sep. 29th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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