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John paced back and forth near the door, biting his lip. The crowds outside would subside for a few moments, then someone would get them all worked up again and they would start yelling. They weren’t speaking English, but he could still understand the gist of their protests.

Something along the lines of “off with their heads”.

He crossed his arms and frowned again. Elizabeth was still sitting at the desk, speaking with Tharon and discussing the best way to handle the situation. The Fa’torian Prime Minister had apologized again and again about the team being stuck in the middle of this situation, but Elizabeth had only nodded and emphasized that right now, the objective for all parties was peace.

Tharon had wholeheartedly agreed.

Kerrak had stood by her side the entire time, keeping his composure. For someone who had just been thrust into an awkward position, it surprised John to see him not at all unnerved. Maybe he was on the inside, but he didn’t let it show.

Maybe this would work out for them, after all.

Ronan was starting to get antsy, and the last thing that John wanted was for him to get out and start taking out villagers. Teyla stood near the desk, but kept glancing back towards the doorway when the cries would rise up again.

John sighed, then dropped his arms and walked over to the desk. “Do you keep any weapon caches in the village? Or anyplace nearby that is easily to get into?”

Tharon glanced hurriedly at her husband. “I do not believe so. There has been no need for weapons for many years.”

“The villagers are getting pretty worked up.” Ronan shrugged. “Wouldn’t take much for them to make something themselves.”

Kerrak raised an eyebrow worriedly at the group. “Do you foresee this becoming violent?”

“I may not speak your language, but I know an angry mob when I hear one,” John retorted, pointing a thumb over his shoulder to the securely locked door behind them. “Ronan’s right. It’s only a matter of time before they take things into their own hands and this gets worse.”

Tharon looked helpless, and John felt for her, but only for a moment. “What can we do?”

John turned and looked at Elizabeth, who raised her eyes at the same time. A flash of concern swept across her face, but she quickly discarded it. “Rodney is due back soon with the radar equipment. Perhaps he can bring an extra team with him.”

“I’m thinking three teams. With stunners.” John crossed his arms again in thought. “Mainly for crowd control.”

“Perhaps we should consider evacuating Tharon and Kerrak to Atlantis, until the mobs die down,” Teyla suggested.

No,” Tharon adamantly replied, pressing her hands flat against the desk and standing up in a rush. “These are my people, and I will deal with the consequences of this unexpected decision.”

“Tharon, with all due respect, your people sound like they’re out for blood. You just announced your intention to rewrite how many years of history for your people, and you think they’ll be placated by some reassuring words?” Elizabeth stood up and crossed her arms as well. “If you stay, your people will most likely kill you. We can offer Atlantis as a temporary asylum for you. After the crowds die down, we will be more than happy to return with you. Even send a peacekeeping force if necessary, but that will not even be an option if you decide to stay.”

Tharon looked ready to shake her head no, determined to remain in Fa’tor and ride this out, but Kerrak gently gripped her arm and turned her to face him. “Tharon. We don’t have a choice. If we stay, we will die. All of us.”

John saw a shocked look pass between them, but he had more important things to do than decipher its meaning.

He turned to Ronan and Teyla. “Do you think you can sneak out the back? Get to the ‘Gate undetected?”

Ronan smiled at him. “Not a problem,” he confidently stated.

Teyla nodded next to him. “We’ll send a message through the Stargate, requesting backup. Once it arrives, it should be safe to escort Tharon and Kerrak to Atlantis.”

John nodded at them. “All right, be careful. Radio back when you’ve made contact with Atlantis.”

They made their way to a back door that led outside, away from where the grounds were starting to gather in the main street.

Once the door shut behind them, John turned and looked at Elizabeth. “All right, we’ll wait for them to radio back. In the meantime,” he asked, directing his attention to the Fa’torian leaders, “do you have a backup plan just in case the rioters break down the door?”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Rodney had slept on his own mattress, which was considerably more comfortable than the one that the Fa’torians had provided for him, and he groaned at the thought of having to spend another night on it. Maybe they’d get the radar installed, give the locals a crash course on how to use it, and then he could be back in his own bed for the night.

A ridiculous thought crossed his mind. The IOA had allocated money for every imaginable position that an expedition this size would need: a barber, a psychiatrist, a dentist, even a cafeteria manager. Why couldn’t they have sent along a chiropractor, or, even better, a massage therapist?

He made a mental note to ask Katie Brown about her skills in that area, but it got lost in the shuffle as Chuck yelled out from across the control room, “Unscheduled off world activation!”

Evan Lorne walked in from Weir’s office. “Any IDC yet?” he asked as the Stargate fully activated and the wormhole came to life.

Chuck pressed his lips together and was about to shake his head no when he suddenly replied, “No IDC, but we have a signal being transmitted through the ‘Gate. Audio only.”

“Let’s hear it.”

Chuck ran his fingers over the keyboard and Rodney stood and walked over.

Atlantis, this is Teyla. Please respond.”

“We read you, Teyla. What’s the situation?” Lorne responded.

There has been a development. Tharon announced to the Council early this morning that she intends on stepping down as Prime Minister, turning the position over to her husband.”

“Oh geez,” Rodney muttered.

Lorne frowned. “If I remember correctly, this is a matriarchal society, right?”

Correct. Apparently, word has spread and a number of villagers are beginning to protest. Ronan and I barely managed to avoid them en route to the ‘Gate, but we were not seen. Doctor Weir wants to bring Tharon and Kerrak back to Atlantis for safety until the crowds die down, but we are unable to get them out of the village. Colonel Sheppard requested that when Doctor McKay returns with the radar, he be accompanied by three teams armed with stunners.”

“Understood. I’ll have them ready to ship out with Doctor McKay.”

As Lorne clicked his earpiece, Rodney spoke up. “Teyla, about how many people did you spot in the village?”

I did not look closely, but I would estimate at least thirty people. I believe more will join them as word spreads.”

“And Elizabeth wants to bring Tharon and Kerrak here,” McKay stated in reiteration.

Yes,” Teyla replied in an exasperated voice.

“Doctor McKay, how much time to you need to finishing preparing the radar?” Lorne suddenly interjected.

McKay cringed slightly. “Well, actually, I delegated that assignment to Zelenka--”

“I don’t care if you delegated it to a five year old, at this point, Doctor,” Lorne snapped. “Be ready in ten minutes.”

“But -- I need--”

“Ten minutes, Doctor. That’s all you have.”

Rodney left his tablet sitting on the top of the desk and ran down the stairs.


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