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Eurydice Turns Left

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It was not as serious as it initially appeared. Hard experience had been their teacher too long, and so they assumed a disaster was about to begin. Teyla had to remind herself sternly, later, that people slip off of boulders all the time, especially when they are showing off and calling their best friend "a wuss" instead of being careful. She saw John throw out an arm, stunned at himself, but in the moment between her seeing and the horrified laugh that flew from her throat, he had fallen out of view.

She clapped a hand to her mouth, and saw that Rodney was in the middle of his own bark of shock or amusement or something else. He bounded forward, rucksack jolting awkwardly on his back, and stumbled to find John. She was at his heels, jostling elbows with Ronon in the narrow ravine between stones.

He had not knocked himself unconscious, as she had feared. Instead John was levering himself up from a sprawl, cursing quietly in the yellow dirt. He turned toward the sound of them, still lying on one hip, and Rodney gasped next to her: John's dark hair glistened and his ear was drenched red with blood, which suddenly flowed freely down behind his jaw and to the point of his chin. It dripped: one two three and then many splashed down onto his black shirt. His team sprang into action.

Rodney kneeled and mashed his meaty palm into the side of John's head, chanting, "You're all right, you're all right." Teyla stripped off her jacket for padding and Rodney wrapped it around the wound hastily.

They ignored the muffled "hey!" that emerged, as Ronon stooped to offer his shoulders. John was up and hanging, folded in half so his booted feet kicked at Ronon's waist, before any of them had made a decision. It did not require speech for them to spin and jog as one unit back towards the gate they had left behind less than an hour before. Rodney came last, still pressing the jacket to the side of John's head; Teyla was too busy alerting Atlantis to the emergency to hear anything but the tension in their voices as the three men exchanged words.

Once back in home territory, John jackknifed on Ronon's shoulder, ripping the bloody jacket off his head and out of Rodney's grasp. "I said, I'm FINE!" he bellowed, and while they all stood gaping he snatched up a handful of Ronon's hair and pulled.

Ronon pivoted on one heel, eyes wide. John whirled with him, limbs flying, and Teyla raised her hands to stop them from falling over. She caught Ronon in the middle of his back, her palms flat against the spasming tension of his long muscles. He stopped then -- or else he might have knocked her right down without even noticing -- and in one convulsive move he shuffled John off his shoulder.

Still bleeding, John flopped to the floor.

"Where the hell is Carson?" asked Rodney, venomous, as he recovered the jacket and scurried to John's side. But John was having no more of this treatment, and achieved his own two feet through stubbornness and some careful yanking on Rodney's rucksack.

"Cancel that red alert," he said, and paced woozily away from the closing gate. Teyla saw in front of him two Marines, the standard defensive detail, staring at them all in surprised inaction. John passed the two men, reached the stairs, and sat down gingerly on the third step. "Really, guys, it's nothing serious."

That was the moment Dr. Beckett chose to appear, in a full sprint and with his mobile kit in hand. He detoured to John without losing a stride.

"Stop it," John groused, his own hand now covering the wound on his head. "I'm not dead yet."

Dr. Beckett kneeled before his patient, clucking with his tongue. "Who controls the analgesics here? Hm? Now let me look at it." He peeled John's fingers away one by one. Teyla could see that there was blood under the nails.

"He will be all right?" she asked. John gave her a dirty look, which reassured her even more than Beckett's reply.

"Likely so. Maybe concussion, but if he can complain, it's not life-threatening."

"Thank you very much," said John.

Rodney was making indistinct noises of displeasure behind her, a crescendo that peaked as he stomped past her and up the stairs. He did not appear to notice that he still held the jacket in one hand, and both his hands were red. "Don't come crying to me if you've got a broken skull," he spat as he passed John.

But the shock was wearing off, and Teyla could see his heart wasn't in it. He stalked toward Elizabeth's office while Dr. Beckett pressed gauze into the side of John's head. Teyla stood by helpless, unsure whether to laugh or to sigh in despair. Ronon came up next to her, still panting and flexing as if under attack.

John said a curse word, and fingered gravel out of his ear canal.

***

Elizabeth did the same thing Teyla had done, back on the planet: she shrieked a laugh and then covered her mouth, amazed at finding danger funny. Ronon could not decide if all foreigners were confounding this way, or if it was a ritual of Atlantis women only, taboo knowledge Sheppard could not teach him. "Oh my God," she said. "Is he all right?"

Teyla had a very reasonable voice. "Dr. Beckett says he will be fine. He could walk, to the infirmary."

"Oh, yes, he's fine," McKay growled. "He's so fine we should have left him there, bleeding all over that yellow hellhole of stone!"

This inspired some further laughter from Elizabeth, subtler this time and swallowed into twitching cheeks.

They did not ask Ronon what he thought.

Elizabeth controlled herself, and turned to the papers in front of her. "So much for that mission," she shrugged. "Do we need to reschedule?"

"Yes, of course we do," said McKay. His lips turned down at the edges, anger or righteousness or that default slow burn. Ronon suspected he had an acid stomach -- that would make anyone sharp-tongued. "There was an energy signature there I've never seen before, faint but real."

"Useful?" asked Elizabeth.

"I don't know." McKay hit keys on his laptop. "I was in the middle of trying to take readings, with an extremely defective hand-held by the way, when Colonel Wallendah decided to impress us with his agility. It was a low-level field, really a unique pattern of frequencies. Definitely something there inside the static, and I --" He gripped the edge of his screen.

Elizabeth smiled at him. "Words, Rodney?"

"Too many gaps in the data. We have to go back."

"We can schedule a flyover --"

"No." McKay made a cutting motion with his hand. "A puddlejumper won't fit through the gate. I measured." This brought up Elizabeth short. "The stones are too close. They're exactly the distance of the gate's backwash, no less, and a jumper is zero point three two meters longer than that. The body just won't go, unless you're willing to chop off part of the back ramp."

"Don't you think that's strange, Rodney?"

"I have heard," Teyla interjected, "that is a strategy for keeping away Wraith darts: obstacles in front of the Stargate, like a primitive shield." Good idea, Ronon thought to himself. At the least it would take out the first wave, unsuspecting. The second wave would not be fooled.

Elizabeth rounded on her: "You mean there are people on PX1212."

"Or were. They do not seem to be there any longer." Teyla considered. "The stones are not very tall; a dart might fit above them, and the Wraith took them long ago. Or they have migrated away from the mountains and toward territory more fruitful."

"Sounds worthy of a second look. I want you to take some experts with you next time, and --"

Rodney shifted, closed his laptop. "Look, whatever. The energy readings are reason enough."

It annoyed Ronon, that McKay was allowed to speak peremptorily to his superiors, when so many did not. He was beginning to know the new Marines from the old ones merely by how they reacted to McKay's behavior: the ones who appeared to consider killing him were the ones who had only just met him. Ronon could roll his eyes like any veteran, but inside he was unquiet, worried. Without discipline, how did they manage?

But they did manage, and methodically lessoned him in their customs. He had learned never to touch an American man except for fighting, and to touch a Frenchman always, and to touch but not linger on a woman of any flag. He watched, and watched others watch him, and whatever he was told he often witnessed something different. These were alarmingly contradictory people.

Ronon blinked. He stood up automatically when the others stood, and watched them offer the kind of meaningless phrases that Sheppard called pillow talk. He realized that key details of the meeting had occurred without his noticing. Teyla was giving him a wry look, as if it was to be expected. Meetings were another alarming new custom to get used to.

They all left Elizabeth's office at the same time, as if they had agreed in advance. Ronon studied them as they shuffled to the door, but could not see the cues that they all read without effort. Elizabeth was standing behind her desk like a benevolent queen.

"We call days like this thrill-a-minute," she said. She chuckled. "In an ironic way."

He knew what irony was, and showed his teeth to signal his appreciation. Sheppard had kind of made irony clear. Elizabeth's laugh faded. He had done something wrong again.

"It's a -- ask Colonel Sheppard about carnivals some time. Artificial excitement, for people who lead lives more boring than ours."

"I will ask him," said Ronon, stiff. "Thank you." She blinked away from his gaze, and he knew it was time for him to go as well.

He wandered the halls, puzzling, patterning. It was natural to find his way to the American soldiers; they spoke a language he knew. Three of them were practicing, dirty tricks with play-knives and stiffened wrists, while a fourth watched and drank water. Lorne. Ronon sat by him and watched.

It was a pleasant way to waste time, rhythmic and practiced and precise. Ronon liked to see that the soldiers knew their bodies well, used them well. It was a familiar thing. Lorne sat with him, fresh sweat and calm idleness, demanding nothing.

"Tell me about your custom," asked Ronon.

***

John's team abandoned him to Beckett's gentle grumbling and that sharp stink of antiseptics. They were surely all conferring in Elizabeth's office even now, hashing out the mission objectives completed and left undone, while the mission commander was busy receiving two dozen stitches in his scalp. Because there were three different gashes above and behind the ear, Beckett informed him solemnly that he would have to shave the side of John's head from neck to crown to situate the stitches properly.

John took a look at the electric razor and wondered, "It's like The Boz all over again."

"What?" asked Beckett, over the noise of the machine. Thick dark tufts and handfuls fell onto John's shoulder and the floor. He flashed back for an instant to being a cadet, seeing himself bald for the first time.

"Or, Wild Thing from Major League? Never mind," he said. "Just wondering what I'm gonna look like." He kicked his heels against the table's legs, already bored.

"With the cheekbone and your ear and the state of your forearm, you look like a man who's been pressed to the world's largest cheese grater." Beckett hummed to himself as he washed the wounds with warm saline.

John tried to imagine a civilization of giants, making pizza from scratch, and failed. "Or like a ten year old kid who's just wiped out on his dirt bike."

"If you're very lucky, the bruising won't settle and leave you with a black eye as well," lilted the good doctor. Rodney walked in just in time to hear that last, and smirked like somebody who had told you so.

"Chicks dig scars," said John, hopeful.

Rodney snorted his triumph. "It's probably less painful to get a tattoo. I think you'd look good with a nice red heart, with 'Mom' in the middle of it, right on your butt."

He couldn't just sit there, being squirted with warm salt water (that was getting in his ear, and who knew how long that would take to shake out) and take it. "You've never seen me naked. How do you know I don't have one already?"

"Carson, if you could just move over for a minute, the patient suddenly requires a de-pantsing to prove that he is, in fact, a big fat liar."

"Better a liar than a wuss, hm?"

"Is this an infirmary or a primary school?" asked Beckett, who had put down the squirt gun and had picked up a fishhook. Or it was the needle he was going to use for the stitches, but damn it looked like a fishhook. "I've seen him naked, Rodney. He's got no tattoos."

"Aha!" crowed Rodney. "Better a wuss than the biggest klutz in two galaxies."

Beckett was breathing gently into his ear, focussed on the stitch. John felt the needle's point, marrying one hot ridge of skin to another. Gentle pulls, as the thread slipped through. "Says the man who cut himself opening a sardine can that time."

"The key was defective! And if you'll recall, my sliced thumb did not require an all-out rescue."

"Neither did my sliced noggin."

Beckett interjected, "Children, if you don't hush, Mummy will never finish her sewing, now will she?" He tugged a bit harder than was strictly necessary at the knot he was tying behind John's temple. He sat quietly after that, giving Rodney funny looks (and only cracking up once, really) for twenty minutes, until Beckett was finished.

John slithered off the table (he was fine, by the way) while Beckett fetched a way-too-small plastic bottle of medicine from the unlocked cabinet. The good doctor stretched out a palm dotted with two pills. "Thanks. Drugs still rationed?"

"Yes, until people stop bashing in their own skulls on a weekly basis. I don't think we should be trading pharmaceuticals so enthusiastically, even with bimonthly resupply. No more than two every four hours."

"Right," said John, and took the bottle. Rodney was standing up, a flapping folder in his hands. John was just as happy to be shooed out of the infirmary and back to work.

***

Sheppard didn't arrive to the next morning's meeting (scheduled, at his own insistence, at stupid o'clock in the morning), so Rodney grabbed a Sergeant by the uniform sleeve and dragged him off to find their ranking military officer.

"Come on, soldier. Your Lieutenant Colonel has gone missing." The man was unfamiliar, so probably new. But not so new he had not already mastered rolling his eyes in an annoyingly Sheppard-like manner.

He was dark and shaped like a fireplug, short and with all his weight in a bull neck and shoulders. The Sergeant introduced himself: "Matty Melo, uh, dude," and the impulse to sir an obvious civilian was absolute proof he was a newbie. He sported that bizarre haircut all soldiers adopted, that made his head look like an anvil, and shook that anvil at Rodney.

"Doctor Rodney McKay, and a key member of the first team. Let's get this search party started."

"Basics, man." Melo looked up up and down with faint amusement. "Probably overslept."

"Basics, yes," muttered Rodney, puzzling over his search plan, and followed Sergeant Melo toward the military quarters. "He's not the sort to sleep in --"

"Colonel Sheppard is a morning person," concurred Melo darkly. They eyed each other then, in sympathy, as they stood in front of Sheppard's door.

"Right." Rodney warmed to the topic. "He could be behind that door with his brain swelling, expanding in the skull casing like those prepackaged tubes of biscuits if you leave them out in the sun, mashing against their cardboard walls until they ex --" Melo was frowning at him. "I have some experience with traumatic swelling. Fatal allergies, you know. Anyway, if his brain is acting like a squeezy stress toy, better we should break in and rescue him for immediate cranial surgery. He can thank us later."

Melo said, "Uh --" but Rodney had thought the door open and was stepping inside.

Inside was dim, windows covered. There was nothing on the flat surfaces of the furniture, and everything on the floor. The bed groaned a dull query.

"Colonel!" exclaimed Rodney.

"Sheesh," muttered Melo behind him, but Rodney was busy leaping manfully across the room, tripping over a pair of trousers, and barking his shins against the edge of the bed.

"Ow. Sheppard, wake up. Do you have a concussion?" Sheppard lay on his belly in a heap of blankets, the stitched side of his head resting carefully on a mashed pillow. Groggily, he levered himself up onto one elbow.

"Ngh." His tags clinked as they lifted off the mattress. "Too early. My feet better be on fire." He turned his head to see his visitors, and showed off the spectacular bruising across his cheek.

Rodney grabbed him by the shoulder. "You have a concussion. Your brain is swelling deathly even now. You missed a morning meeting and you never do that and there is something truly wrong with you and remember the part where I said don't come crying to me if you have a broken skull?"

Sheppard flopped theatrically back onto his pillow, and then spoiled his own performance with a grimace. "Damn," he muttered to himself, and rubbed the side of his face that wasn't black and blue. "Time izzit?"

"Considerably after sunrise, which is never a time you're still asleep, and what did you do with that bottle Carson gave you?"

"Top drawer," said Sheppard. He rolled over under the blanket stiffly and started to sit up. "I'll need five or six of 'em."

Rodney rummaged through the drawer and came up with the bottle. It was half-empty. He eyeballed Sheppard, half his head shaved naked and with his hands tucked into his armpits. He'd taken off the bandages from his forearm, which was pulpy with scabs. "You look terrible."

"Thank you?" said Sheppard. "Oh, hi, Sergeant."

Melo snapped to attention.

"Yeah, yeah," waved Sheppard. "Do you know if breakfast is still out?"

"I'm sure they can work something up for you, sir!"

"No need to shout." He reached up to scratch above his left ear, where the three rows of black knots sat in sticky, be-gooed relief against his swollen skin. Rodney stretched out a warning hand just as Sheppard realized what he was about to do, and tapped at his ear instead. "Okay, I'm up. You can go bother somebody else now."

Rodney shook two pills into his palm, mimicking Beckett from yesterday. "Take." Sheppard took. "You want water?"

Sheppard knocked back the pills dry in lieu of answering. "Look. I promise I will go get myself checked out again today. I promise I will not keel over in the middle of breakfast. Speaking of which, I'm in need of a shower." He made good on his word immediately, throwing his blanket at Rodney's head and groaning as he climbed off the mattress.

Rodney had just time to divest himself of sweaty bedding to see Sheppard's blindingly white butt, the whiter by contrast with his bruised hip and ribs, disappearing into the bathroom. "Cripes, Sheppard, warn a guy," blurted Rodney.

The shower started, and Sheppard poked his head back out. "Wait, who lives here? Oh yeah, me."

"Don't get the stitches wet! Carson said so specifically!"

A flapping wave was all the response Rodney was going to get. Melo stood by, hands stiff at his sides, until Rodney shrugged at him.

"I guess I'll go find him some grub," said the Sergeant.

"I guess Beckett wasn't lying about the tattoos," said Rodney.

***

It wasn't a concussion, although Beckett admonished him first for painkiller abuse, and second for washing all the antiseptic gel off his scalp. It was in the middle of this dressing-down that Elizabeth "happened" to arrive, and told John to take the day off. Which he did.

Or, half the day, waggling his toes in the ocean while failing spectacularly to catch any fish. He relaxed in the shade, closing his eyes against the bright waves and his still-throbbing head, and napping was about to commence when his new exec, Lorne, found him. The guy was disturbingly undisturbable: John hadn't gotten his number yet. He'd worked for General O'Neill, which was a good sign; but he seemed to enjoy paperwork, which was -- bizarre.

Lorne called a greeting, fair warning from the end of the pier, and gave a low whistle when he got close enough for a look at his boss's bedraggled face.

"Day off," said John, and tried not to smirk. "Doctor's orders."

Lorne had a face like a plank of pine, and when he worked at it a manner to match. "Status reports. Basic stuff," he said, "I figured you wouldn't mind signing it, sir." There was something a little too correct in him, his back a little too stiffly straight, and John had been around the block a time or two.

He signed everywhere that Lorne pointed. "Say, you know what would be the best prank ever?"

Lorne handed him the next form. "Sir?"

"Not that you would, I realize. But, theoretically. It would be totally awesome if I found out my superior officer slept in his birthday suit --"

Lorne strangled a cough.

"And then," continued John, smiling, "I could pull the gate alarm in the middle of the night, and wait for him to come charging out in a panic wearing nothing but dogtags!"

"That would be hilarious, sir," said Lorne, straight-faced. It was as impressive a performance as John had seen in a long time.

"And the sad part is, it really would be." Sheppard reached out and joshed him, got an uncertain grimace in return. "If I weren't the CO in question, I'd absolutely pull that one off. So, fair warning, in case anybody is thinking of doing it. Anyway, I don't have a bruised ass most of the time, so there'd be no point outside of this week."

Lorne shuffled his papers back into order. He had some strange ability to make all the corners, gummy and folded as they were, line up and look formal. That and no sign of nervous breakdown after a month in Pegasus -- either a saint or the devil himself.

"You like Melo? He must be a right guy, if he's thinking of pulling tricks on his CO after only a couple of weeks."

"Sergeant Melo is -- very unorthodox, for a Marine." Lorne asked, tentative, "If you want, sir, his clothes could all have an unfortunate laundry accident."

Maybe this guy would work out okay. "Sometimes you scare me, Lorne. No, that won't be necessary. I'll think of something."

"Yes, sir." That merited a real smile. He put his fistful of work behind his back, but wasn't ready to leave. "Speaking of scare. Ronon Dex came by a little while ago, asked me whether he should shave his head."

Even with his headache John busted out laughing. Lorne cracked at last, and guffawed. John asked, "He actually wants a high-and-tight?"

"He was very concerned that you, sir, what he said was you used his hair operationally against him."

John rubbed the narrow ridge of skin between two rows of stitches. "Oh yeah," he said. "Now there's a guy who never saw the inside of a third-grade classroom."

"I pointed him toward Lieutenant Cadman as an example of acceptable hairstyles, but --"

John sighed. "I'll talk to him."

***

With John out of action, Teyla enjoyed her time off. She beat Ronon at sticks three times running, daring him every time to pull her hair, before he would admit that it was an unlikely tactic. (Upon her report of this to the Colonel, he bestowed upon her the High Five.) She visited Halling on the mainland and luxuriated in freedom, and when after fourteen days John declared himself combat-ready, Teyla was vaguely sorry to return to dutifulness.

She assembled her rucksack mindfully, aware after days of inattention of the purpose of every object. She was ready when she approached the gate room, but on her arrival realized that the rest of the party was not.

"...and this is Judith Yu," said Elizabeth, her hand on the shoulder of a compact woman. She had a moon face and the kind of curved body that John liked to stare at. She was the rock-scientist, the geologist, accompanying them. Teyla looked over her nervous energy and rough hands, and decided to like her. She was massively overpacked for a simple overnight, rucksack mounding high behind her head, and Teyla stepped forward with her advice.

"I am Teyla Emmagen," she said, and the geologist responded instantly to her smile.

"Call me Judy," she said, and offered a hand to shake. "I haven't been offworld since I got here."

"It is something to become accustomed to," said Teyla. "Here, I will show you what you need." They crouched together, and began to sort materials. Elizabeth looked on for a moment, benign, before turning to collar Ronon.

"This is our intellectual hanger-on for the day?" asked Rodney, looming suddenly over them. Teyla had long observed his ignorance of his own physical presence; Judy shrank back from his closeness and his height even before she registered his verbal insults. She made a face, and did not stand to greet him.

"This is the geologist," said Teyla, moving into Rodney's way. "You will be kind to her, since she will rely on you for experience in the field."

"Of course," said Rodney, beaming. "I am the most battle-hardened scientist here."

"Not counting that Israeli microbiologist," interrupted John, strolling up to them with two soldiers at his flank. "And the guy from Spain down in botany, who did his compulsory military service as a UN Peacekeeper in Zaire. Actually, there's also --"

"Yes, yes," said Rodney. "Our enlightened countries do not require that their brightest lights be shot at before they can write down their brilliant thoughts. Of course, -- oh, hey, I know you."

John introduced his soldiers. "Sergeant Melo, Lieutenant Van Arden." They nodded at their names. "They're both fresh off the boat, so I thought a nice, sunny training exercise would be a good introduction. To the whole. Violent death and destruction thing."

Melo widened his eyes, swinging his P-90 by its strap. Van Arden frowned. She cocked her head at them all, gave them her sharp good looks as if telling both John and Rodney that she was too clever for their humor. She was pale and narrow and yellow-haired, with a pointy chin, and tightened the straps of her rucksack compulsively. Teyla said hello, to diffuse the woman's tension, and got back an intense blue gaze, wary, excited. Together they turned back to helping the geologist, while John bickered with Rodney, kneeling to re-tie his bootlaces. Melo wandered the gate room, feigning nonchalance.

"Dude," said the Sergeant, low. Teyla had never mastered this piece of slang, though Ronon used it comfortably. She assumed Melo was expressing the same awestruck fondness that still overcame her in such an ancient setting.

Then John was ready, in some way he had where he never called for attention. They all just ceased speaking and looked at him, that long rangy body and permanent irony on his face. The time off had done him well; he was tan and the stitches in his scalp were gone. The hair had grown back a little, so he only looked very strange instead of badly wounded. "Got your gear?" was all he asked.

On went the rucksacks. Teyla stood between Judy and Van Arden, offering them her surety against the unknown of the Stargate. John nodded at Elizabeth, standing at the base of the staircase, and then the gate made its water-music and they were through. John did not stand on much ceremony or anticipation.

They tramped up dust in the clearing of PX1212, which stood impassive as they had left it: sandy-brown rock before them and the black and snowy crags of the mountain peak behind. The breeze was low, swirling down off the cliffs, and the sky bright. John immediately put on his sunglasses, the black lenses like a mask. Teyla was not bothered by the daylight, but Rodney squinted, displeased. It was midafternoon, the sun past its peak but heat still building, radiant off the stones. The boulders in front of them were above man-height, sharp-edged, as far as they could see. They crowded close up near the gate, like a row of ill-tended teeth.

Now that she saw them that way, the mountain was a foreboding sentinel, looming. Teyla saw how its peak cast a shadow onto the stones like a day-clock.

Judy jogged forward out of Teyla's reach. She touched the stones reverently, slow passes of tenderness. "Not much weathering," she called. "These aren't natural."

She stood before the stones in such a formal manner, as if introducing herself to a dance-partner. All the stones were tall, even taller than Ronon. Suddenly Teyla gasped to herself: "Of course, they are patterned."

"Who are?" asked John, but Rodney was already tumbling on ahead of her.

"I wondered about that last time. Cardinal directions, quarters and sixteenths." He spun all the way around, slowly. "If they'd wanted a whole circle, I don't know why they placed the Stargate so far back, up against the cliff face like that."

John laughed. "We're standing in the middle of Stonehenge?"

"I think the stones are younger than the Stargate," called Judy. "They're -- hey, those are tool marks." She had disappeared from the circle directly around the Stargate. Teyla hated to lose visual on her, and as she moved she noticed the entire group was moving together. They did not like this human-made place any more than she.

Rodney's mouth galloped to keep up with his thoughts. "Who moved them here? Is it a temple to worship the Ancients? Is this where the readings come from? Maybe we're seeing some kind of primitive battery or solar collector --"

Teyla reached the edge of the ring, looked past the first row of stones and saw Judy again, darting about. The stones were placed in an alternating pattern, so that wherever the eye looked a stone was in its way. Someone could be hiding at ten paces' distance and never be seen. The geologist asked, "How far do these things go?"

It was when John made a noise behind her that Teyla realized they all had entered the maze of rock, and realized that she did not know where it ended.