The Sheppard of Atlantis

by ljc

begun 8/1/10

finished Sept. 2010 
 

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Summary: Sheppard? Shepherd? John has amnesia.   
 

Rated Teen.  
 

For Gen Audience. No warnings except that there are spoilers for some episodes.  
 

My thanks to Annie, my surprise beta reader. Thank you for taking on this 'project'. Any and all remaining errors are 'so' mine. I had to do a bit of rewriting after Annie beta'd it since there were a few holes in it (and cross-outs, and wrong tenses, and misspellings, and great gaping missing bits pointed out in the “notes” … thanks, Annie!). 
 

Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis belong to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corporation. All other publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis or any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind. 
 

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The headache was the first thing he remembered later as he tried to piece his memories into something more than scattered images. Something tickled his face and he swiped his hand at it and knocked a bit of electronics from behind his ear. He didn't worry about it because it didn't really mean anything to him. He knew it was 'electronics' and one end of it hung crookedly. It looked to be of no use to anyone anymore so he swept it aside and thought no more of it.  
 

The tickle was blood and even that didn't concern him much. It only made him more conscious of the various pointed and weighty objects on top of him  making it difficult to breathe. He thought it might be a good idea to move, until he did, and something settled loud enough to make a dog bark nearby. He decided it might be better if he tried to put those scattered images into some kind of order, because right now, nothing made sense. Like … how did he get here? Why was he lying under a pile of mildly smoking debris? Or for that matter, who was he?  
 

Maybe it was just shock and it would all come back sooner or later, but those scattered images he 'did' remember were a bit worrying. But not remembering his name had a whole other level of wrongness to it. Maybe leaving this spot wasn't such a great idea until he had a handle on what had gone wrong. He could come face-to-face with someone and not know if they were friend or foe.  
 

Those vague images... Were they friends? The one with the blue eyes didn't seem to smile much and he waved his hands a lot. The beautiful woman … the one with the sticks. He seemed to remember those sticks very well. And then there was the big guy with the huge gun. He remembered his grim and scary face, and a fight … but with him or against him?  
 

He finally decided that he wasn't remembering fast enough. He needed to know which side or sides they all were on and laying here wasn't helping with any of his problems. He started wriggling gently out of the debris, taking as long as he needed to prop up the pieces that could move and give him away. Finally he squirmed out from under the last of it and squinted into the bright sunlight.  
 

He looked quickly around, but he didn't recognize the place, which was understandable considering the state of his memory. It looked like it had been the site of a battle … on the losing side. He wondered if it was morning or afternoon. He could see a ridge beyond the village limits and decided it was a destination he could make if this was afternoon.  
 

He would scrounge for water and food on the way if he could, because he had nothing on him, just a set of well-made black clothes, a uniform, but one he couldn't remember seeing before. But it felt like his. It fit him anyway. He had no weapons except for a knife in his boot. He had no backpack. Wait … he dug in his shirt and pulled out his dogtags. Okay. Lt. Colonel John Sheppard. He had a name at least. Lt. Colonel? What 'army' would make him a Lt. Colonel? That would be Air Force … right. What country am I in? 
 

He sighed and took another look around. Looked like any country at war that he'd ever seen. He 'was' in the Air Force. That seemed right. And he was a pilot, a pilot without transport and hopefully not behind enemy lines. He'd better get on with reconnoitering. He needed intel on his situation and he figured he was on his own for the time being. 
 

When he reached his destination he decided that it was indeed afternoon. He'd have to find a place to bed down for the night. He didn't want to try any of the half destroyed buildings. If there were insurgents, and thankfully he hadn't seen even one sighting, they'd be searching those for enemy combatants or civilians. He knew too little about his situation to do something that stupid.  
 

He'd found water and some bread and fruit that was fit to eat from what looked like an outdoor stall that was mostly destroyed. He'd also found a couple of blankets at another stall. After eating and finding a rock ledge for a vantage point, he settled in for a quick nap. His head was still throbbing. He hoped it wasn't a concussion. But he needed sleep and he also needed to be watchful during the night, so he decided he had to risk it, before his body gave him no choice. His body was going to pull a mutiny on him at some point, and he didn't want it to be at a worse time than this. 'Cause this was as bad as he wanted to face right now.  
 

He used one blanket to form a lean-to against a rock away from the edge of the ledge and let it drape down over him. He used the other blanket to lay on. He took a few sips of water and a bit of bread, hoping they'd stay down. He was  still queasy from the knock on his head and the various bruises he'd sustained. He'd save the rest for morning. 
 

The nap didn't last that long. He was in too much discomfort and too stressed about his situation. His mind wouldn't let him rest deeply. He checked his watch and he'd only slept for about three hours. It was long enough for now. He decided to check out his little ridge top and see if anything was happening that he should know about. 
 

When he pulled the blanket lean-to aside he heard a small growl. He froze when he saw the cause. It was a small dog. And it was guarding a smallish boy. The child was looking at him with big round eyes and was panting shallowly. John could tell he was terrified, maybe also in shock from the attack on the village. Shock would be a pretty sure bet.  
 

The dog growled again when John moved the blanket out of his way. He carefully dug in his 'supplies' and pulled out the last of the bread. He broke off a small piece and put it in his mouth and chewed slowly. The boy watched him carefully. Watched the bread. Watched him chew. Watched him swallow. Then he swallowed and licked his lips.  
 

John sighed and looked at the 'protector'. He edged closer to boy and dog, but there were no more growls because the boy pulled  the dog into a not-too-gentle hug. The dog just licked the kid's face. So, the mutt was a family dog. 
 

John held up the bread and said, “I bet you'd like this, right?” He was startled speechless when the child said in a dry, husky voice, “Yes. Uh, please, sir?” 
 

John handed over the bread which the child split with the dog. All the while, John was wondering where the hell he was that a village had been devastated and the only survivor he'd seen spoke English.  
 

John and Jobie the dog became fast friends very quickly. The boy took a little longer. When he asked the boy his name, he just said, “Kantha.” So was that his name or some word John didn't know because 'Kantha' was less talkative than their first encounter would have led John to expect.  
 

John tucked Kantha and Jobie into his lean-to and did a reconnoiter of the ridge. He laid down on the ledge and slid out to see what might be going on below. There was no activity except for some animal sounds, that were hopefully just what they sounded like and not something more sinister.  
 

He was still wide awake when the triplet moons came up. John's shock made him doubt his own sanity. When his little panic attack died down he wiped the sweat off his face. He held his hands in front of him for a full minute trying to stop the shakes. He didn't want to interrogate the kid, but he needed some answers. 
 

Luckily Kantha was fast asleep with a choke hold on Jobie that the dog didn't seem to mind at all. John didn't have the heart to wake him, and truth be told, he didn't absolutely trust Jobie not to take affront to his effort to wake the boy. It could wait till morning.  
 
 

Assumption: 'they' are not the moon and this isn't Earth. It's only an assumption because maybe I'm delusional.

Assumption: the kid spoke English. Again, it's an assumption because my hallucination 'would' speak English.

Assumption: I'm wearing a uniform I've never seen before. Assumption because it's on the list of the many, many things I don't remember.

Assumption: my dogtags say I am Lt. Colonel John Sheppard. Assumption because they could belong to someone else, but it's something concrete to hold on to. I have to start somewhere. 
 

Question: Am I still on Earth?

Not unless we gained two new moons!

Question: How did I get here?

Unknown.

Question: How do I get back?

Unknown.

Question: What do I do now?

Something to work on in the very near future. 
 
 

By the time the sun came up … only one of those, and John took careful notice of the fact … John was ready for another nap, but Kantha was wide awake and still leery of John's presence. John pulled out the fruit and divided it with Kantha and Jobie since he figured the kid would share his portion with the dog. Then they shared the remaining water. 
 

John didn't quite know how to ask his questions, or even what questions to ask, but he had to get Kantha to talk and after feeding him and letting him sleep in his bed, well, it seemed like a good time. 
 

John scratched at his beard stubble. He hated not being able to shave, but that could, and would have to wait. First things first.  
 

“Ah, Kantha … that 'is' your name, right?” The kid hugged the dog and just nodded. “You know I won't hurt you. I watched while you slept, and I shared what food and water I had. You understand that I won't hurt you, don't you?” 
 

The nod was slower in coming this time but it did come. When it did John let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding. 
 

“Good. Look. I need to ask you some questions, okay?” Nod. “Okay. I should tell you that I hit my head yesterday and it's kind of scrambled my memory. Can you tell me the name of your village?” 
 

The kid buried his face in the dog's fur for a minute, then turned his head so just his eyes showed. His voice was muffled but John made out, “Jinthery.” 
 

“Jinthery? Kantha, and Jobie, are from Jinthery?” Fast nod.  
 

“I don't remember that name. Can you tell me the name of the three moons that came up last night?” 
 

“They're the Good Sisters. Everyone in Jinthery knows that!”  Kantha said in mild derision. 
 

“Am I from Jinthery?” 
 

Kantha hugged the dog until it squirmed then he patted its head. He didn't look at John when he said, “No. You came through the Ring of the Ancestors. You really don't remember?” 
 

John felt like the world just faded away. The 'Ring' meant something to him. What exactly was still to be remembered. But something about it resonated deeply. He was on the verge of another little panic attack, and wasn't that just peachy, when he felt Kantha's hand pat his face gently. The boy was kneeling in front of him and Jobie was behind him, wagging his tail excitedly. 
 

Shakily John said, “Thank you, Kantha. Answering my questions is a big help. I vaguely remember the Ring.” 
 

“I've never been through it. Da said I could when I'm older. Da's a trader. He was away when the Wraith came.” 
 

“Da is your father?” 
 

“Aha. But Ma was here. I saw the Wraith put his hand on her.” At this point Kantha started sobbing. John didn't remember what the Wraith were, but he probably didn't want to know what happened when an alien put his hand on someone. He just gathered Kantha into his arms and let him cry out his grief. When it died down to tired gasps, John picked him up and placed him in the lean-to. 
 

“Sleep, Kantha. Jobie and I'll watch.” John stayed till the boy was asleep. 
 

John tried to watch but since he kept falling asleep he figured he'd better catch a few snatches of sleep while he could. They couldn't stay here for much longer. He'd have to ask Kantha if there were any villages nearby. Or maybe the Ring. Maybe if he just saw it his memory would come back. He felt it was a very important part of his life somehow, but 'why' was a question he couldn't answer … yet. 
 

After he snatched a bit of sleep, John woke to find Kantha staring at him patiently with Jobie lying beside him and panting softly. John stretched as best he could without jostling the kid and dog and sat up. “Hungry?” Nod. “Got any idea where we can find food?” Big shoulder shrug. “Well, we … no, I, might have to visit some of the homes to find stuff we can use. Is that alright with you? We won't take anything but food, water, and a few more blankets, and maybe a change of clothes or two. Just stuff we'll need to live.” 
 

The kid hung his head but finally nodded.  
 

“Okay. Let me take a look around from up here, then we'll go. Oh, by the way, do you know if there's a village nearby?” 
 

Big eyes turned up to him. “Wraith got 'em, too. Saw their flying ships head that way.” 
 

“Flying ships. Tell me more about the Wraith.” 
 

Kantha fidgeted fretfully and John thought that was the end of the conversation, but he was surprised. “People say the little ships come when the big ship brings them. From out there.” At this, Kantha waved decisively at the sky. He bit his lip as his hand slowly dropped back to his lap. His hands clenched as he went on. “Wraith take lives with their hands. Life-eaters as we say. Nothing left to bury but a dry old body. Sometimes they leave just enough life for someone to suffer to die of old age, like old Grandda did. At least Grandda got to live his life and didn't have it sucked out of him like Ma.” At that, Kantha swiped tears from his face and stared at John defiantly.  
 

John was almost too shocked to respond but Kantha needed something. “You should grieve for your Ma. I'd guess the Wraith don't worry about what they take. Don't worry about showing you're different than them, Kantha. Be proud of it.” 
 

The kid nodded and pulled the dog close. John heard a few sobs, then decided he needed to think more about these monsters, these Wraith, that fed on humans. He was blindsided by more images, the blue-eyed man with the frightened face, the big man, and the woman, grim, furious, and so very determined. He fought them, but more, he fought with them. He was certain of this now. So, where were they? Were they a team? The blue-eyed man didn't look like a soldier, but neither did the other two. At least no soldier that he remembered. 
 

“Hey, kid. Kantha. You said I came through the Ring. Didn't anyone come with me?” 
 

The kid sniffed and nodded, “Wraith-worshippers. You were still fighting them until one knocked you out from behind.” 
 

“Then just me and, why am I surprised ... Wraith-worshippers. Do you know where I came from?” 
 

“I heard the Elders whispering. I got as close as I could. They said you were the Sheppard of Atlantis. Do you have sheep, or goats, or what?” 
 

John's eyebrow quirked up, “Uh, I hope neither. I don't think I'm that kind of shepherd. It's … uh … spelled differently.” But John breathed shakily at the confirmation that he 'was' Sheppard. 
 

“Huh. Then what do you do on Atlantis?” 
 

“Right. You said Atlantis. I don't remember, except that Atlantis was a myth or maybe just a city long dead and lost. I don't know how I could be 'of Atlantis'.” 
 

“But you are. I heard my Da talk about you and the City of the Ancestors.” Kantha looked at him as if he didn't know whether to ask a question or not. “Maybe, someday, when you remember, you will tell me about the City and the Ancestors. What you know about them anyway. They've been gone many, many cycles of the Good Sisters.”

 

“You seem to know a lot about all this.” 
 

“My Da and Ma teach me. I'm to be a trader like Da. The village needs … needed many things we can't make for ourselves. I think maybe that's why you go through the Ring, too. To trade. But we've heard that you also fight the Wraith, and even if it angers them, we're still glad someone fights them.” 
 

“Kantha, how old are you?” 
 

“I'm 114 Cycles of the Good Sisters.” 
 

“Well, since I'm not from around here, that doesn't help me much. You look about eight according to my calculations, but you sound older, maybe nine or even ten.” 
 

“Eight! That's a baby age,” he said indignantly. 
 

“Yeah. Here. But not … through the Ring.” 
 

“Oh, okay, I guess.” 
 

“Look, let's gather up the blankets and see what we can find.” 
 

So with Jobie's nose in everything, and underfoot whichever way they stepped, they finally managed that simple chore and set off down to the ruined village. Smoke still rose fitfully but no flames were visible. The fire had never really gotten started, and went to coals during the night. Best to move quickly though, because there were a lot of flammables lying heaped together. 
 

John walked quietly, wincing every once in a while when Kantha or Jobie made a noise. But he couldn't complain, because the kid had to be traumatized seeing this again up close. He should have left him near the ridge, but he didn't want to be separated from him in case the Wraith or their worshippers came back. 
 

Then he heard a noise that wasn't Kantha or Jobie and he whipped his hand up to signal quiet. Then he was startled by the idea that he did that, and then he was disgusted with himself that he, if he 'was' Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, just signaled to a kid and a dog! 
 

Then he heard a tiny, high voice whimpering, “But I hungry, Madden!” He hung his head as he realized he was probably going to acquire a couple more mouths to feed. He turned to Kantha and the boy whispered, “Must be Madden and her sister, Randa. I know them. Can we help them? Can we?” 
 

John sighed softly, “Well, of course we'll help. I wouldn't leave them here. Come up front since they'll know you, too. Just say, hi or something and can we come forward.” 
 

Kantha barely had a chance to say, “Hi,” before the little girls had him in a choke-hug. John smirked a bit, because it was kind of cute. He didn't think Kantha would appreciate the humor of it, and on second thought, three possibly orphaned kids hugging in the midst of this devastation was anything but cute. 
 

During the search John had exited one building to find Kantha swinging a slingshot. He was about to caution him when Kantha let go and hit a chicken. He knocked it out and the kids all scrambled for it. Well, lunch was taken care of. These kids were proving handy to have around. 
 

The search was done as quickly as John could manage with three kids and a dog in tow. He'd lost what food he'd eaten today when they came across some bodies of the dead. He figured he was probably still sane, but this almost took him over the edge. Only the presence of his three charges kept him grounded. He did his best to keep on point after that and avoid the dried husks of villagers. He didn't know why, but there seemed to be few bodies to avoid. He may not have known the why, but he was glad all the same. It wasn't just the kids that didn't need those horrific reminders. 
 

As the search continued, John found it necessary to rig up a backpack for everyone. Each kid got to carry a blanket, some basic clothing, and a bit of bread, fruit, and water, just in case they got separated for a while. Kantha manfully took his pack and slung a local version of a canteen over his shoulder. He looked way too old for eight or nine or ten.  
 

The girls listened to Kantha, and since Kantha listened to John, John got off easy. They all gazed at him with such trust that John felt a little sick. He'd done nothing to earn that trust, but he sure hoped to keep it. 
 

Now that they were all packed up and ready to go, John had to decide on a destination. “Hey, Kantha. What direction is the Ring?” Decision made, John headed out on point with Kantha bringing up the rear, with Jobie. 
 

They were almost out of the village when Madden pulled up beside him and tugged on his sleeve. She pointed back to Kantha who had paused maybe twenty steps back. John would have to keep better watch. He told the girls to wait and he went back to the boy. He looked upset. 
 

“Hey, what's the hold up?” John asked softly. 
 

The boy looked at him and then at the half burned building to the left. “I lived there.” 
 

John walked up and stood with Kantha and put his arm on his shoulders. “Is there anything you need from your home, kid? We're in no immediate hurry, you know. I'll help.” 
 

The boy shrugged, but not enough to dislodge John's arm. He looked up at him and said, “Da is a trader. I was to be one too some day.” 
 

“Yeah. You still can. Some day.” 
 

“No. I mean … he left the locations of his trading partners in a secret place. I know where they are. But if I take them, Da will think they were stolen. He might never return to them.” 
 

“I don't know. If I was your Da, then I'd hope you'd escaped with the information. I think I'd go looking for you there.” 
 

“Where 'are' we going?” 
 

John thought hard for a moment and made his decision. “These locations, they're safe?” 
 

“Yeah. Da went there every season.” 
 

“Then maybe we can follow in his footsteps, and try to find him.” 
 

“Really?” 
 

“Well, I don't remember where I belong, so we'll try to find your Da first.” 
 

“What about Madden and Randa?” 
 

John sighed deeply. “Do you know if they had family anywhere else?” 
 

The boy shook his head.  
 

“Well, maybe we can find a family for them somewhere through the Ring.” 
 

The boy smiled. He glanced ahead at the Ring and smiled a little broader. 
 

“Why don't we find that secret stash of your father's.” 
 

John held off only long enough to search for bodies within the ruined building, then there was a lot of moving of debris, and then some digging, to find a locked metal box. Kantha didn't have the key, but the lock was easily broken.  
 

They had their list of places to visit. Kantha told John that his father had only been gone a short time, and he only stayed for three or four days at each address. Kantha thought that the first three would already have been visited, so John decided to try the fourth. If Kantha's Da had already been there, they would move on immediately. If he hadn't arrived yet, they would carry enough food and water for a week and settle down to wait.  
 

John hoped they were hospitable people, and he did wonder how he was going to go to trading planets … without anything to trade. He didn't know what he'd be walking into. Hell, he didn't even know how the Ring worked. When he first saw it, the Ring looked like what John would call an archeological artifact.  It wasn't until Kantha had taken him to a device near the Ring and had shown him how to “dial it” that he finally understood that it had to be a very advanced alien mechanism.  He was grateful that Kantha was there to show him the ropes, and keep him from getting too close to the … whatever the heck that was … that washed out of the Ring.  
 

They all stood there looking expectantly at John as he stood looking at the blue rippling surface within the Ring. When he'd gazed his full at the Ring, he glanced around at the kids. “What?” 
 

The kids looked at each other, then back at John. Randa piped up with, “Aren't you going to step through the water?” 
 

“Water?” And John looked at Kantha. 
 

“She means the blue stuff that looks like water. In the middle of the Ring. That's what you have to do to get to the other side.” 
 

“Are you kidding?” 
 

They all shook their heads solemnly. 
 

Behind them they all heard, “Baaaah.” 
 

John twisted around with his hands fisted. “What was that?”  
 

Randa giggled. “It's just a goat, silly. See? Over there. It's just a baby. Can I keep it?” 
 

John slowly lowered his hands and stood speechless as Randa ran over to the 'goat'. She reached out fearlessly and rubbed it's forehead right between the ears. It seemed to be the right thing to do because it leaned into it with a little goat-sigh. 
 

John looked at the goat and then at the Ring. “Okay. Who's got rope?” 
 

Madden had a length of rope that would do, and soon they were all assembled at the Ring again. 
 

John said nervously, “Let me have the rope, Madden. I'm going to try something.” He led the goat up the ramp to the Ring and the goat balked at going through. “Smart goat,” John muttered. He looked back at the kids but they seemed not to be worried. He turned back to the goat. “Come on Bob, in you go.” John tried to hide the fact that he 'helped' Bob the goat put his head into the Ring, but then it just walked forward and disappeared. John tried nonchalantly to step to the side and look behind the Ring. No Bob. Hmm.  
 

Well, if Bob can do it … and Kantha and the other kids think this is the way to go … we might as well try it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. “You ready for this?” Three kids nodded vigorously. “Kantha, keep a hold of Jobie.” 
 

“I've got him, Sheppard.” 
 

Now or never? Never? “Okay, let's go.” 
 

The first step was memorable. Even the kids looked a little shaken, and Jobie whimpered. Bob was at the other end of the rope eating grass. 
 

Their entrance through the Ring was met with surprise since it had deposited them practically in the middle of an impermanent-looking, open air market. Of course, the arrival of a goat-on-a-rope without the holdee might have surprised anyone. It wouldn't have worried them, would it? They must have seen goats before. Right? How would he know? Different planet, different … okay, two suns. Maybe they don't know goats. 
 

John just pulled Bob a little closer as several people approached them. He saw Kantha step forward and give a short bow. 
 

“My name is Kantha of Jinthery. We have come looking for my Da. He is a trader and his name is Dantos. Has he been here this season?” 
 

“Welcome, Kantha of Jinthery. Dantos has indeed been here, conducted his business and left but three days ago.” 
 

John could see the kid's shoulders droop. He stepped up beside him. “Do you happen to know where he went next?” 
 

The gentlemen that had approached looked wary of answering. Finally one turned to Kantha and asked, “Who is this man who travels with you? He is 'not' of Jinthery.” 
 

Okay, it must be the uniform. John started to speak but Kantha gave a quick shake of his head and then turned and gave the men another, deeper bow. “I'm sorry for not enlightening you. This man is Sheppard of Atlantis.” 
 

Now there was a disturbing muttering as the information was passed back through the little crowd that had formed. 
 

John bowed as deeply as Kantha then started to introduce himself. 
 

Randa piped up with, “He's the shepherd with only one goat.” 
 

The crowd seemed to be amused by the comment so Sheppard just smiled and nodded though he couldn't help thinking sadly that he also had a few lost sheep. When quiet was restored, Sheppard said, “My name is John Sheppard. We've all come from Jinthery in search of Kantha's father.” 
 

Kantha said stiffly, “Jinthery was culled.” 
 

The crowd noise would have drowned out anything else Sheppard was going to say, but it was obvious that they were upset by the news. Again, when it was quiet, John asked, “Do you know where Dantos went from here?” 
 

They conferred among themselves for a moment but the answer was no. That information was rarely divulged, even among long-standing trading partners, it seemed. John found that odd, then remembered the Wraith and their worshippers. He figured giving out your itinerary might be dangerous for everyone involved. Not for the first time John thought that Kantha's father must be a brave man, stepping through the Ring onto another planet, never knowing what he might face. Yeah, that would take a brave man indeed. 
 

John bowed once again, and thanked them for their help.  
 

He received a bow in return and was invited to view the wares on display. 
 

“I'm sorry. We need to catch up with the boy- Kantha's father. But thank you for the offer. Maybe on another trip. Come, Kantha,” he said softly. He placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and turned him toward the Ring's device in an alcove to the side of the Ring. Though the market was close, it was at an angle, probably to protect the locations tapped into the device. Traders weren't stupid, and who could afford to be, with an enemy that had spaceships and wanted your life for his own. John shuddered at the thought. He had Kantha show him the next location on the list and tapped it in himself.  
 

After the big 'whoosh' John took a deep breath and glanced back to make sure they were all coming right along. He guessed they weren't quite as nonchalant about it as they'd seemed before because if he'd stopped abruptly before he got through the 'Gate there'd have been a pileup of John, kids, and animals. 
 

He took a calming breath, tugged on Bob's leash, and manfully stepped through the big water. The pileup happened on the other side because John really didn't want to be there, or have the kids there, and there was no way to stop them.  
 

In the distance, above a village much like Jinthery, there were flying ships firing weapons at it. True, there were people on the ground firing back but that wasn't very reassuring since they looked outnumbered. He looked frantically for the device that could get them out of here. Once located, he pulled the kids with him, out of the way of the 'whoosh' effect, and tried to think where to go. All he knew was where they'd been, and he really didn't want to bring this fight back to the marketplace.  
 

He suddenly heard a voice … yelling his name? Someone knew his name? Then he looked more closely at the four people running toward them and firing behind them. Two were wearing basically the same uniform that he had on, and the blue-eyed man was yelling, somewhat hysterically, for him to “put in the address, Sheppard” but of course he didn't know what “address” the guy was talking about. Maybe he should, but he didn't. But he did remember that face, and the big man, and there was the beautiful woman that could 'so' hurt him with sticks. Even the other man looked familiar, and the familiarity made him choke up, because, 'damn', it had been too long. If they all survived this then he'd have his answers.  
 

“Sheppard! Do it!” 
 

John knew he had to clue them in. “I don't remember. I - I hit my head.” 
 

When Blue-eyes finally reached him, he just pushed him aside, and none-too-gently. He hastily tapped seven keys on the device. “Of course you hit your head! That's typical, Sheppard. You spend more time in the infirmary than me and you say I'm a hypochondriac.” 
 

John looked back at the other three and saw they were laying cover fire for some of the villagers who were following them as fast as they could. Men, women, and children all fleeing for their lives, and these people were protecting them. Good. They were good people. That was good to know because the images he 'did' remember were confusing. 
 

The Ring did it's 'whoosh' thing, and everyone rushed to fling themselves through. John moved his little group up and through without another thought. Just to get to the other side was the best idea he could think of right then, especially with people that knew him. 
 

Arriving on the other side was surreal. He saw people's faces light with joy when they saw him. Shouts of “Sheppard”, and “Colonel”, and “John” greeted him from each and every one. And something else, something deeper, welcomed him home. Atlantis. She knew he was home. 
 

The three faces he remembered best surrounded him when the Ring faded behind them. They lowered their weapons and Atlantis whispered to him and he smiled, “Rodney … Ronon … Teyla ...” 
 

Rodney blurted, “I thought you didn't remember?” 
 

“I was … reminded. I still don't remember much.” 
 

“Well, if you don't remember Carson, you'll wish you never did after he gets you in his infirmary.” 
 

John looked a little doubtful at that. 
 

“John?” 
 

Atlantis whispered a name for him.  
 

“Elizabeth.” She was very pretty when she smiled. 
 

“Perhaps you could introduce us to your party.” 
 

Duh. Those names he did know. “Everyone, this is Kantha, Madden, Randa, and of course Jobie,” who was a bit intimidated in these surroundings. “Oh, we were on that ... planet ... to find Kantha's father ...” 
 

A worried looking man stepped boldly forward from the small crowd of villagers. “I am Kantha's father.” 
 

“DA!”  
 

The reunion was bittersweet as Kantha related the devastating news of the culling of Jinthery. Kantha tucked himself tightly into his father's side, and a now happy Jobie bounced around the two of them. Then Dantos turned to Madden and Randa and bowed solemnly. “Daughters of my friend, I would be glad to take you into my home.”  
 

The girls were shy but John could see their relief. It would take time to make them a family, but then, he figured Dantos was up to the job. He'd done a great job with Kantha. 
 

Returning to his own homecoming he smiled hesitantly. He felt a tug on the rope and he reeled in the last of his party. “And this is Bob.” 
 

Rodney looked at him in disbelief. “You have a goat named Bob?” 
 

“Yeah, Bob.” And John smiled down at the little creature that seemed perfectly happy, grass or not, and he scratched him gently on the forehead. Maybe Dantos could use a goat. Looking back up at Rodney he had to ask, “What? It's a good name!” 
 

“Some people just shouldn't be allowed to name anything!”  
 

“Hey, wait. If I'm really a Lt. Colonel then why shouldn't I be able to name something?” 
 

“Because you named the Gateship a Puddlejumper!” 
 

“I did? A ship that goes through the Ring, with the water effects and all? Puddlejumper.” John nodded his head. “Good name.” 
 

“No! It's not a good name. Gateship is a good name. Puddlejumper is like - like ... Steve the Wraith … and - and … Bob the Goat!” 
 

“Did I name 'Steve the Wraith'?” John wondered aloud. 
 

Rodney's face was getting a little red by this point, and his hands were waving freely in wide gestures. Everyone John could see in the room were trying to hide grins. John's face lit up as a half-familiar image came back to him. He raised his hand, smiled, and shook his finger at Rodney. “That's it!” 
 

“What? What's 'it'?” 
 

“'That's' it! That's the face I remember!” 
 

The End