November 03, 2007

Disclaimer: by request only. Written for lillian13. Do not archive without permission.


The Enniovet, who owned the marketplace on MX7-37G, issued each new arrival with a flimsy, tacky courtesy map, a badge proclaiming trader or tourist status, and a small booklet of gift certificates. They also made some very pointed remarks about what happened to visitors who used violence within Enniovet jurisdiction, and were completely unaffected by Ronon glowering at them, which made John think that a closer look at Enniovet weapons technology wouldn't come amiss. He gave the officials a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, we'll play nice."

"This is expected," the first Enniovet official said, and launched into a well-rehearsed spiel about safety first and the virtues of cooperation, while John nodded at appropriate intervals and tried not to yawn. Next to him, Teyla looked so serene and smiling, she had to be half asleep. It was barely past dawn on Atlantis, although here on MX7-37G, heavy mid-afternoon sunshine beat down outside the reception building. Inside, everything was painted a pale grey, and looked and smelled a lot like an airport.

John was aware that there was a certain amount of muttering and scuffling behind him, but he didn't give it his full attention until his booklet was snatched out of his hand. Then he turned around. "Okay, what's going on here?"

Ronon and McKay looked up from riffling through the coupons. "Mixed grill skewer with barbecue sauce," Ronon said.

"Buy one, get one free," McKay added, flipping another page. "So we can get eight." He poked at Ronon with his elbow. "Is this a dessert? It looks like a dessert."

Ronon was already two pages ahead in his own booklet. "Team competition," he read, flicking his eyes up at John and Teyla in turn. "Target shooting, enjo, labyrinth..."

"Many of our visitors enjoy this," the second Enniovet official said. "We hope you have a pleasant and peaceful day."

Outside, it was hot. John put his sunglasses on and looked around. This part of the marketplace seemed to be mostly textiles and crafts; he could see bolts of cloth spread out on tables under striped awnings, and baskets of yarn of every conceivable kind, from thick cables of wool to fine, brightly colored stuff that had to be for embroidery. Six people sat in a half-circle in the shade of a canvas wall, busy at lace-making. They had their wares set out in a box in front of them, ribbons of lace wound around polished sticks of wood; some of the ribbons were broader than John's palm, with patterns of leaves or flowers or snowflakes.

"Free sample!" a young man said, draping a scrap of lace over Teyla's sleeve. He wore a sturdy paper hat printed with the marketplace logo on each side, and smiled guilelessly at them. "Please come back later!"

Teyla smiled back and wound the lace around her wrist. "This market is famous for the high quality of its wares," she said.

One table was piled with knitted sweaters, and John started to sweat just looking at them. Hats, too, small round ones and long droopy ones and a few that looked like giant berets with ear-flaps. Knitted gloves that went up to the elbow, mufflers, socks. A young woman in a paper hat presented John with a knitted swatch of red wool with irregular white stripes. He stuffed it in his pocket.

Ronon was studying the map in his booklet. "The mixed grill place is this way."

They went past basket-weavers and hat-makers; one woman tried very persistently to sell McKay a wide-brimmed straw hat with a fine blue veil. The straw dust made Teyla sneeze. John felt the inside of his own nose prickle as they walked into the leather-workers area and were surrounded by bags and gloves and belts and boots, jackets and lacing-cords and coin-pouches and knife-sheaths and a hundred other things that John couldn't even guess the purpose of. Teyla spent a long time considering a skirt with geometric patterns punched in around the hem, while Ronon ended up with five different leather cord samples.

"Mixed grill," McKay said, and they moved on. Next up were the glass-blowers, with tables full of drinking glasses and little bowls and tall narrow vases and pitchers and cups, no two of them exactly alike. Behind the tables were boxes with more glass wares wrapped in straw. The woman at the nearest table wore a leather apron and had thickly muscular arms dotted with tiny burn scars. A small girl in a paper hat pressed some glass beads into John's hand and darted away, smiling.

"Let me see those," Ronon said. Before John could say anything, Ronon had strung the beads on one of his newly-acquired leather cords and tied them around John's neck.

"That is very becoming," Teyla said approvingly. McKay nodded with comical earnestness, his eyes bright with laughter, and John considered smacking him, but it was too hot. The beads felt pleasantly cool against his throat. Besides, McKay had a rosette of pink and green ribbons pinned to his jacket and a swatch of fine white fabric trailing from one pocket.

John stopped to look at a game played with clear and dark glass pieces, but Ronon tugged him along. Down one row of market stalls they could see, and smell, scented soaps and beeswax candles. Ronon guided them the other way, past crocheted shawls and huge ceramic platters and carpets and rugs and flowerpots and oil lamps and carved wooden picture frames, until John could smell food.

"This is good," McKay said, once they'd gotten their first round of mixed grill skewers from the two men in paper hats who ran the food stall, and were standing around eating, with sauce dripping down their fingers. "This is really good."

Ronon made a sound that could probably be translated as, Told you.

"It's a pleasant place, this market," Teyla said.

"Yeah, I guess it is." John pushed his sunglasses up with the back of his hand and smiled at his team. "Who's up for target shooting?"

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