John's mouth went dry and he backed away slowly.
"Sir, what are we going to do?" Ford's urgent whisper came from his six.
"I'll tell you what I'm going to do, Lieutenant," Rodney hissed to his right. "Panic! It's a tried and true response."
"Rodney. Shut up. You're not helping." John was not encouraged by the increasing gleam in the eyes staring at them.
"We can't shoot them...can we?" Ford sounded rather hopeful.
"Shoot them?" John was giving serious thought to it. "Somehow, I doubt Dr. Weir would find that an apropriate action to take."
The large one out in front, probably the leader, started taking menacing steps their way. A few behind her had started a low, hair-raising keening sound.
"While I usually despise the typical military response, I admit, Major, the idea is gaining merit, lots and lots of merit, right about now." Rodney moved closer to John, hiding behind John's P90 arm.
"We've got to find Teyla before we can leave. I want you two to get to the jumper, keep 'em distracted. I'll circle around the jumper and head back to the village."
"That's not necessary, Major." Teyla walked out of the woods to their left, trailing an entourage.
"Teyla, fall back to the jumper," John said urgently. "These Ularians are stalking us--"
"Of course they're not, Major." Teyla gave John a patient look. "I will clear up the confusion."
She turned and, with a series of short, brief hand movements, had the group of advancing Ularians bending down low and backing off.
John frowned. "What just happened?" He clutched his gun, not convinced the threat was over.
"I simply told them that you were not free game, Major, and that they would have to fight me for ownership first." Teyla gave a predatory smile, her hands on her knife and gun. "The odds are in my favor, and they knew that. The Ularians understand power--those who have it and those who do not."
Rodney let out a relieved breath. "You could have told us a bit more about their culture before you left us here like live bait!"
Teyla raised an eyebrow. "I had not taken into consideration that a hunting party would be out of the village and not be aware of my--our--arrival."
"Yes, well...so did we get the trade agreement?" John eyed the milling Ularians, noting that not one male was in the group. He wondered where they kept them stashed.
"We did. And Dr. McKay, you'll be pleased to know that they are giving us a large portion of their nuatnat. It is a coffee-like bean, I believe, one that grows abundantly here."
"Oh, joy," Rodney said faintly. "Can we leave now? I still don't like the way that one is eyeing us."
"Yeah, like fresh meat," Ford added.
John shifted his gun. "Yeah. Are we done yet?"
"Very well." Teyla turned and spread her arms, making a few gestures with her hands. An older female from the village contingent reciprocated, and they were done.
"Cool. Let's go." John started to back away.
"One moment, Major." Teyla walked over to the team. "There is one thing I must ask you to do, so that I do not lose credibility and power in the Ularian's eyes."
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Here it comes, I knew it."
Teyla ignored him. "I must ask you all to prostrate yourself before me--"
"Prostrate?" John burst out.
"--and then kiss my feet."
"You've got to be kidding!" Rodney said.
"Oh, in adoration, no doubt." John said, sarcasm thick and strong.
"Why, yes, actually. If you do not, the hunting pack will take it that you are, in fact, unowned, and I can tell, Major, that they have a great attraction to the three of you. I'm sure they'd keep you busy."
Six eyes flew to the hairy, semi-human bodies standing before them, yellow eyes watching intently.
"Well, I for one have had plenty of experience prostrating myself before annoying department chairmen while working at university, so I'll go first." Rodney buried himself in the detritus at Teyla's feet.
Ford followed suit, shaking his head, leaving Sheppard glaring at her with narrowed eyes.
"You sure this is neccessary?"
"Yes, Major. This is their way."
Grumbling, John slowly got to his knees, then stretched himself out before her.
"The feet," she reminded them.
Three mouths made a token motion on her boots.
"Guh...mud. Not a good taste," Rodney mumbled.
"Are we done now?" John asked.
Teyla nodded. "Yes, we may leave."
The three men jumped up, brushed the leaves off their clothes and started walking out of the clearing back toward the jumper.
"Let's go, Teyla! We've got a jumper to catch." John waved at his lagging team member even while he put more distance between himself and the Ularians.
He never saw the slow smile Teyla and the Ularian leader exchanged.