- Character Bashing
- Death-Minor Character
- Permanent Injury
- Alternate Universe
- Episode Related
- First Time
One of the best things about being able to turn into a wolf was how much stress he dumped while he was in his fur, John decided. He was making his third turn around the city and just warming up. It was amazing how his endurance had gone up.
Every single member of his pack had joined him, if only for a mile or two before going back to their normal jobs. It was comforting and allowed them to bond and mesh as a workable unit. He wasn’t discounting the unchanged marines who did the same thing. Unit cohesion had rebounded and the only person who was upset was Ford, but that was an issue that didn’t have an end in sight.
As he rounded the corner that was the midpoint for the jogging trail, he perked up. His nose was telling him that McKay was up ahead. John couldn’t help the extra burst of speed that moved through his limbs as he added a bit of hurry to his stride. McKay wasn’t normally willing to run with him, so he treasured every chance he got with the scientist.
John looked around the atrium and tried to find the other man. No such luck. He could smell him, but couldn’t readily see him. Tilting his head back and forth, he tried to figure out where McKay was hiding. Listening carefully he tried to hear the cat’s breathing or the sound of fur on metal. There was nothing.
Impressed, John kept moving and did his best not to startle out of his skin when McKay dropped down beside him and matched his pace. From the amused purr the man let out, he hadn’t managed to hide it as well as he wanted.
Damn the man for discovering his inner sneaky person.
“We are meeting the Genii next,” Teyla announced as they headed through the stargate.
“I remember what you told us about them,” John murmured. “A settled society that farms a lot and has some excess that they are willing to trade.”
“Correct, Major Sheppard,” Teyla agreed. “We have traded with them many times in the past and have come away satisfied each time. It is about time for the tava bean harvest, so I expect they will know if they have any available to trade.”
“And Parrish has confirmed that tava beans are a good addition to our diet,” Rodney added as he gave a full body shiver after transiting the gate.
John watched as Teyla nodded. “Yes, they are. There have been times when tava beans have been the major portion of our diet and we survived well on them. Do we know what we can offer them?”
“Cooper states that the desalinators are producing high-quality metals on a regular basis and we have several hundred pounds of some of them. And that doesn’t even touch the amount of salt we’ve got stored,” Rodney reported. “The oceans of our current world are a bit different than the one we left at home. Iron and nickel are higher along with aluminum, the rest of the metals seem to fall into place like normal.”
“We use those metals as well, but getting them has been very difficult due to not being miners,” Teyla admitted. “We were only rarely able to trade with the cultures that mined and they were very demanding when we did.”
“So metals would be a good lead-in, okay,” John needed to confirm that. They used a lot of water thanks to the gardens and hydroponic bays scattered through the city. That meant that there were literally tons of byproducts from the desalination process and it was all stored on the city, ready for use. Atlantis was even nice enough to form everything in easy to move ingots.
“Given that they farm, I’m sure that the metals will be useful. Maybe some of the ones that we use for fertilizers?” Rodney slanted a look at John and then shrugged. “Maybe we should have brought Parrish with us for this.”
“No, I don’t think so,” John disagreed. “If this goes well, we can bring him later. But right now, we’re just getting an introduction.”
When they reached the settlement where the Genii met all their trading partners, John hung back for a bit. He was watching Teyla meet her friends and assessing them.
The look of the Genii reminded him a lot of an English period drama in clothes and manners with a dash of Amish to round things out. John made a determined effort to ignore his first impression and concentrate on what was actually happening before him. The male Genii were paying close attention to all three of them, especially him. He couldn’t hide his training and Rodney was first and foremost a scientist, not a soldier. No one could say that about him with a straight face.
Testing his gut, he moved around Teyla to inspect a plow that was propped up in what had to be a blacksmith’s workshop. “Hey, Rodney? Is this steel?”
When McKay wandered over, he pointed at the plow. John wasn’t sure if Rodney would be able to confirm his suspicion about the nature of the metal, but he hoped he would. The man was an amazing font of weird and wonderful scientific information after all.
“It looks like it,” McKay admitted after visually examining the plow. He looked over at the man who had followed them. “Can I move it? Maybe look a bit closer at how it’s constructed?”
“Why?” the unnamed Genii man asked.
“Because one of the things we’re thinking of trading is metal. And if this is made of what we think it might be, one of the metals used in its construction is on our list,” John told him. He was watching the way the man tensed as Rodney walked around the plow and how his fingers twitched like he wanted to have a weapon in them.
“Oh, sure,” their guard said. “I’m Tyrus.”
“John Sheppard and Rodney McKay,” John pointed at each of them. He had made damn sure none of his team used their titles while in the field. He couldn’t help the impression they gave because they were armed to the teeth, but he didn’t want to single anyone out for anything nefarious due to their job. And McKay was vulnerable to that due to the breadth of his knowledge.
McKay had started running his hands over the plow as soon as he had gotten permission and began examining it from every angle. He had even broken out his flashlight and trained it on the broken tip. The light glinted off the metal crystals that studded the inner surface of the plow.
“What do you think, McKay?” John asked.
“I think that it’s a good plow, but I have no idea how they would repair it since I’m not a blacksmith,” McKay admitted before looking at him. “And yeah, it’s steel. A very nice mix too. I wonder if we can get something similar for Halling?”
John eyed the plow with new interest. They had fields that were growing apace, but the plows the Athosians had used weren’t nearly as efficient as this one looked to be. Given that, he activated the camera on his vest and walked around the thing to get it from all angles. If they couldn’t trade for one, maybe they could make one. After all, one of his men had done blacksmithing as a hobby when he was younger.
“You would want to trade for plows?” Tyrus asked confused.
“Well, we want to trade for a lot of things,” John admitted. “But the plow would be nice to get because it’s better than the ones we have, so yeah.”
Tyrus tilted his head at that and then nodded “And you have metal that you are willing to trade for it?”
“Well more than metals, but yeah, we have some to trade,” John confirmed.
“I will be talking to Cowen then. Please don’t wander far,” Tyrus told them before walking off to talk to the man Teyla was speaking with.
“I’m smelling something suspiciously close to gunpowder from him,” Rodney murmured, voice pitched low. They had found that their hearing range had expanded and both of them could hear things that standard humans couldn’t. It was an advantage in the field that they used every chance they got.
“Oh, me too,” John admitted before helping McKay move the plow carefully onto its side. “And he’s wanted to go for a weapon several times as we talked. He keeps reaching for something.”
“I noticed. Also, there’s a hint of something really industrial going on around here. And it’s not from the blacksmith’s thing here,” Rodney shared. Clearing his throat, he spoke at a normal volume as Teyla and Cowen walked over to them. “I can’t tell how much this weighs outside of the wood, but I’m sure we have more than enough iron for Kirkpatrick to make one if we can’t trade for one.”
“Maybe,” John allowed. He looked over at Cowen and nodded. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with us. We were just looking over your plow here.”
Cowen looked nonplussed at them. His gaze was moving from the guns strapped to the front of their vests to the plow and blinking in obvious confusion. “You’re welcome. Are you really interested in the plow?”
“Actually, yes, I am,” Rodney confirmed. “Teyla and her people have some very good ones, but just looking at this one, the design seems to be better. I’m always interested in improving things, so hey, better plow, more crops. The end result is I eat better,” he shrugged. “And since we have metal to trade, it makes sense to me.”
“I can understand that,” Cowen smiled and John had to suppress a growl. He had seen used car salesmen with more sincere smiles.
They were finally getting down to the nitty-gritty on the trade front when John finally broke down and asked a direct question to their guard. “You’ve been staring at Rodney for the last ten minutes. Why?”
The conversation between Teyla and Cowen ground to a halt and everyone looked at the man in question. From the blush he was showing, he hadn’t meant to be caught staring. “He hasn’t eaten anything or drunk anything. I was trying to figure out why.”
“I can answer that, but it’s going to come out rather blunt,” Rodney told him. “And since this is the first time we’ve met your people, I may have to expand on the answer so everyone understands. I’m not trying to be rude, but there are some foods from my own world that can kill me if I eat them. Since I don’t know if the property that can injure me is in the foods that you have here, I’m not eating or drinking anything. It’s got nothing to do with your ability to be hosts and everything to do with me not wanting to die.”
“There are foods that can kill you?” Cowen asked incredulous.
“Yes,” John cut in. They had had this discussion on several planets, so he was able to explain the problem with a minimum of fuss. “Do you know anyone where if they eat something, or have it touch them, their skin gets red and blotchy? Or maybe they vomit? Or even lose control of their bowels?”
He kept a careful eye on everyone and saw when Cowen got it. “Yes. I know of several people that happens to when they are exposed to pilem. It’s a fruit from one of the worlds we frequent.”
“Right, so imagine that instead of all of those embarrassing and uncomfortable things, you stop breathing,” Rodney told him, voice grim. “That’s what happens to me if I am not careful. So I don’t eat anything but the food I know doesn’t have the things my body rejects. It’s not a question of trust. I just have to be careful.”
“Thank you for explaining,” Cowen told him. “I understand the need for caution. Speaking of caution… You are heavily armed for a trade mission. Why?”
“Because every time we go through the Ring we don’t know what we will find. Will it be a peaceful world? Will there be something that wants to attack us? Will there be Wraith?” John laid out some of the reasons why they went armed. He wasn’t going to go into their other skills. “So to make sure that we can protect ourselves in case something goes wrong, we go armed.”
“Can we get a demonstration of your weapons?” asked the man that John had pegged as a member of the Genii military. If his memory was correct, the man’s name was Acastus Kolya and the only person he deferred to was Cowen.
“I’m sorry, no. We have a rule about not using them unless there is no other choice, and doing a demonstration violates that rule,” John explained. The Prime Directive was a rule they had all made a choice to enforce unless they had no other choice. While they would meet with and interact with various cultures around Pegasus, every single away team member had been instructed to not share Tau’ri tech around.
From the way the older man reacted, he wasn’t happy to be refused. John sincerely didn’t give a fuck. They didn’t have enough for themselves, let alone to share with a people who they weren’t certain were trustworthy.
“Acastus, they are our guests,” Cowen admonished the other man and then smiled at John. “Perhaps one day?”
“Maybe,” John promised with as much sincerity as Cowen was using. That is to say; none. “One never knows what the future will bring.”
“True. So, shall we get down to the business of trade?” Cowen asked.
“Let’s,” John agreed. He started dickering in earnest. He wanted to get a decent trade deal done and then get off the Genii world. The whole place was making his gut churn.