Title: Teyla Emmagan of Atlantis

Author: linda.ljc

Summary: The story of Atlantis, but in many ways the Expedition is much luckier this time around. (Because I want it that way.)

Note 1: I want to say that I'm not writing AU's of each episode, mostly just some scenes that make a few episodes AU.

Note 2: This is a one-shot.

Note 3: It's very strange to write an entire story just because I had a title.

Main Characters: Major John Sheppard, Dr. Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagan, Chuck Campbell, Dr. Elizabeth Weir, Dr. Carson Beckett, Dr. Radek Zelenka, Halling, Eldred, Larrin, Keras, Ares, Oberoth, Niam, other smaller roles.

Spoilers: yes, but remember it's also AU.

Category: Angst, Drama

Warning: Gen, Character Death (not graphic)

Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis belongs 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 linda.ljc with the love of the show in mind.



 

...1...Six Months In



 

It was an unusually calm morning as the Major watched the routine activity in the control room. Chuck Campbell was at his post, and they were waiting for one of the teams to call in soon.

They'd arrived on Atlantis six months ago, and Major Sheppard could feel the difference from the first days and weeks of their arrival. The members of the Expedition were settling in and becoming familiar with living in Atlantis. Daily activities were almost relaxed even though there had already been a number of events since their arrival that could have killed them all. But as those situations had been dealt with, eventually they'd settled down and had begun regular missions through the Gate. But he had no doubt that there would surely be interesting times ahead.

Sheppard nodded to Chuck who had seen him come up the stairs into Control. “Good morning, Major Sheppard. Sensors are clear and there are no incident reports from the night shift.”

Sheppard glanced over to Dr. Weir's office. “Thanks, Chuck. Has Elizabeth arrived yet?”

“No sir. Should I call her?”

Right after Chuck spoke they heard Elizabeth's firm steps as she came from the hall that led to the mess. She climbed the stairs, a steaming cup of tea in one hand. “Yes, I'm here. Good morning everyone.”

“You were up late last night.”

“It wasn't that late, really, so I came in a little early to work with Teyla. There are just so many reports and procedures for her to become familiar with unfortunately. I'm glad we've had some down time so we can really get her settled in. She's a fast learner, and her background in Pegasus politics is really invaluable. And she's helped me and the linguists sort out a few translations. The Athosian language, like many others in Pegasus it seems, is based on the Alteran language. And they've tried to preserve it because of their reverence for the Ancestors.”

Sheppard grinned. “The two of you complement each other.”

“Well, I've certainly learned a lot about Pegasus. We'd surely have made some missteps without her input.”

“You were up late debriefing Barker's team last night. You could have slept in one morning. The team that's coming back should be back soon. At least, they haven't come back early, so hopefully there were no major problems.”

“Well, if I know Teyla she's already in the office so she'll be ready when they return.”

Chuck nodded agreement. “She's been here a few minutes, ma'am. I think she has more questions about the Expedition Charter, too.”

Elizabeth sighed deeply. “I don't blame her. Every member of the IOA, and also the SGC, of course, had their ideas about what was necessary for that document. I'm only a little surprised we aren't still debating it.”

Dr. McKay came through the opposite hall. “Sheppard. Major. Oh, good morning, Elizabeth. Look, Major, I have an update on that outpost we talked about during yesterday's briefing. It continues to look promising. The remote sensor we dropped through the Gate is functioning well. We've got some interesting readings on the energy signature and I'll want to send an engineer with you to take a check it out.”

“Sure thing. The more the merrier. We'll have our briefing in an hour. Can he or she be ready by then?”

“I'll make sure of it,” and he was gone before anyone could comment.

Elizabeth hid a grin behind her hand.

Sheppard grinned outright at Chuck. “I'm sure he will. Maybe I should take McKay.”

Elizabeth grinned wider at Chuck's reaction then turned toward the Mission Office above the Control Room.

Sheppard followed, and as Elizabeth took her seat, he knocked softly on the door frame as he leaned into the office. “Teyla, we have an addition to the mission going out in an hour. I don't know who yet, but McKay is picking out someone to send. He said readings look interesting

Teyla closed her laptop, stood from her desk, and walked toward the door. “That is encouraging, is it not?”

“Yeah. We need any resources we can find. Hopefully the inhabitants will agree to trade with us. But the energy spike alone is a good sign. This mission might actually be interesting.”

Chuck called out the dialing of the Gate. “Scheduled activation in progress. We have a signal from Halling's IDC.”

Elizabeth nodded to Teyla as she went out to the Control Room.

“Open the Iris, Chuck, let them through,” said Teyla. She always looked as relieved as Elizabeth when Gate teams returned after a successful mission. Today it was Halling's team that came through the Gate. Halling, Jinto, Bates, and Keras, all in normal Pegasus' native attire walked through unhurriedly.

Seeing that the team arrived safely, Sheppard stepped into the office to speak to Elizabeth. "You look very relaxed this morning, even after the late hours last night." He knew that she and Teyla had had many long talks about the Expedition, Earth-and-politics, and Pegasus-and-politics. They had grown into an easy camaraderie that grew to include he and Dr. McKay when they joined them for discussions.

McKay had been a surprise. Getting to know him had taken a little patience but his view of the Expedition and politics were ascerbic and pessimistic at best, and were often humerous. It surprised him that he'd voluntarily joined their discussions. It was interesting to get the political perspective of a foreign national, even if he was a close neighbor, being Canadian.

He remembered one very long discussion about their uniforms and weapons. Thinking back, it had been kind of funny to watch Elizabeth and Teyla using their own tactics and strategy trying to win points for their side of the arguement. Surprisingly it was Elizabeth that had finally backed down.

Now at least their clothing wouldn't make them stand out in most of the villages that they visited in this galaxy. It was something that Teyla had been adamant about. She'd known that it would draw unwanted attention, but also, the clothing was easily replaceable with resources at hand.

The Major could see that Elizabeth's attention was still on the Control Room.

Sheppard glanced out there and only saw Teyla notifying the Infirmary of the team's arrival and that they would be down soon for their exam.

"She's very good."

Sheppard simply nodded.

"We have been very lucky."

Sheppard looked lost in thought. Luck had not always been good for them.

Elizabeth leaned back in her chair. "We have been lucky to have you, as well."

He flinched slightly. "Not for some."

"We could have lost it all, John. We have been lucky. We didn't know about the Wraith, but we do now, and we've taken what precautions we could. It was a blow to us all to lose Col. Sumner, and then Lt. Ford."

"Yeah. Morale was pretty low but it's getting better. What can you expect when your C.O. is killed by someone not even in the chain of command, and the next in rank dies in the rescue effort... what can you expect..."

"I really had no problem putting you in charge, John. You were my choice but I was afraid it would be very difficult for you. The men and women that came here with us didn't know you very well then. You know you were the very last addition to the Expedition. Everyone was comfortable with Sumner. And Ford was bright and enthusiastic... well, everyone liked him but I don't know how he would have handled Command of the Expedition."

"He was young, and I didn't know him well, but he went on the rescue party and did his job. If not for him, no one would have come back. I think he'd have made a fine Commander... "

"But?"

"But there was no time for him to learn, was there?"

Elizabeth agreed. They had needed... time. She knew they had come such a long way since those first days. She couldn't believe now how she and Teyla had butted heads over so many things, at least at first.

Sheppard had been her choice to replace Sumner, it was true, but she'd wanted to take the time to see how he would adapt, and how the military would adapt to him. She'd finally listened to Teyla. She'd argued and pushed for choosing the Major right away. The military members needed that settled as soon as possible.

Yet, Teyla had argued against some of his plans. He wanted to fight them right now, but Teyla said wait. She said we were demoralized; short of resources; short of energy; and too few in number. Even though her people, the Athosians, had retreated here and chose to stay, there was still too much to do just to settle in and learn what they needed to know about Atlantis. The city was as big a question mark as the Wraith.

When Major Sheppard began to take Teyla's advice, Elizabeth knew she had chosen correctly. Sheppard began planning, and for that he needed intel, and that was his focus for the time being. They needed to know everything they could about Wraith military strength, technology, and resources.

And Teyla had been right about almost everything. They were too small a number to fight so many Wraith, even with the gifts or the so-called Ancestor's blessings, as they called the ATA gene. So she set us on course to gather-in those who could help. She set our feet on a path, and Elizabeth, as leader of the Expedition, was adamantly against all of it at first because this was not the way Stargate Command would do things nor would they approve of it when/if they ever regained contact.

Teyla agreed that she didn't know what the consequences might be if Earth called, but this was now; and they were here. Pegasus was not the Milky Way. And slowly the merit of her arguments won everyone over.

They got rid of the uniforms that drew unwanted attention, especially by Wraith worshipers who watched out for technological achievements. Their uniforms, and especially their weapons, would never have come from a hardscrabble indigenous village. But a couple of the simpler weapons were deceptively effective. They were more powerful than most seen in Pegasus so far. And they were not out of place because trading was a dangerous life and defending themselves was part of it.

Then had come their acrimonious fight over the makeup of the trading teams. But after venturing out on a few missions the first teams agreed with Teyla. Traders went in small groups at most in Pegasus; usually two or three members otherwise they appeared too threatening. It was finally decided there would be one Earthborn, who was familiar with the Tau'ri weapons, and two or three would be from Pegasus: a negotiator, a trades-person, and if the mission was deemed a safe venture, a youngster old enough to be an apprentice as this was a common thing among those who traveled the Rings and would ease suspicions.

If a planet was inhabited and something of scientific interest came up a scientist/specialist could be added to the team. Otherwise the objective would be a first contact mission. The scientists were needed too badly on Atlantis; just ask McKay. But tech skills and engineering talents were offered only to allies that were vetted over time.

Trade goods consisted of basic health lotions and potions (what Dr. McKay scornfully called voodoo without the rattles and dancing), preserved wild game and fish, and some basic minerals like salt that were easily mined from the ocean of Lantia. They also discovered that tea leaves and herbs were welcome, too, and it helped that most were hardy, and they would grow fast even in Lantian soil. They also could be dried for use or sale out of season.

But they were always cautioned about revealing too much offworld. It was often a diplomatic challenge to acquire helpful scientific artifacts, but those were the most interesting items to the scientific members of the Expedition.



 

...2...There Be Lemons



 

When the Athosians arrived on Atlantis they were filled with many emotions. There was grief for those lost. They were wary of the Earthborn, the Tau'ri. And yet, there was relief that on Atlantis there was some degree of safety; and awe that they were living in the City built by their revered Ancestors.

But it was impossible for them to let go of their fear entirely. After all, the Wraith were not gone. The Ancestors were still not alive although some of their descendants had returned. But most worrying to them was that they didn't know if these descendants could be trusted to stay; after all, the Ancestors hadn't.

The Tau'ri had no idea what surviving under the Wraith was like. But the Athosians couldn't imagine life without Wraith cullings, or Worshipers that would even trade their own people for advancement with their gods.

So they held mourning vigils for those lost, and made plans for the future. Some plans involved the descendants, the Tau'ri, but their plans went beyond that. They were always planning the next step for when the Wraith came again, because they always came again, and each time their numbers dwindled. This latest attack would have been the end of them if not for the Tau'ri's intervention. For that alone, they felt they owed the Tau'ri a great deal. They hoped their arrival would be the start of a new era, and an alliance that endured.

Still, the Athosians chafed at the restrictions on travel within the City of the Ancestors, as they believed it their right, their birthright, to be able to explore this wondrous place where they now lived. But when Jinto got lost and the deadly shadow creature was released, they began to understand there were extreme dangers here, too.

One day several weeks after Jinto had accidentally discovered the transporters, Jinto and Wex went to Jinto's father, Halling, who then brought them to Teyla. Their excitement was obvious to her as they recounted their discovery of a garden, here on the city.

Teyla immediately went to Major Sheppard with a request to explore the tower where it was found, and he refused at first.

Teyla sighed, loudly. She surprised herself at her lack of composure. So she set about trying to explain. “Major Sheppard... we cannot remain restricted to just a few rooms. We do not require a lot of space but we are used to much freer movement. There is a space that would be acceptable for us to spend time in. In truth it is a vast space that Jinto and Wex have described.”

“Jinto and Wex, huh?” Sheppard managed a small smile knowing something about the restlessness of boys, and Jinto in particular. But when Jinto had found the transporters, exploration of the city had become a lot easier, but no less dangerous, unfortunately. He sighed in resignation. “Well, maybe we should check it out. If they got there and back once, they'll probably try it again.”

Teyla smiled ruefully and nodded agreement. “Halling and the boys are waiting. They are very eager to show us. I think Jinto wants to make up for the other discovery.”

Sheppard nodded. "I guess I can understand that feeling."

When they left the Central Tower far behind them Sheppard began to feel a little uneasy. He wondered just how far the boys had wandered. But the surprise as he turned into a broader avenue stopped him short. He'd seen this tower during flights over the city in the little puddlejumpers, or gateships if McKay had his way in naming them. He had bet on the puddlejumper name, and time proved him right.

But ahead of them was a building about half as tall as the Central Tower, but it was on the outskirts of the city so it wasn't scheduled for exploration any time soon. And it was so close to the edge of the flat pier-like structures that if they went any further they'd be in Lantia's ocean.

This face of the tower was in shadow and opaque to his eyes although they were walking sunward so that didn't help. The way it was situated, the opposite side of it met the sun full on. Depending on the time of year he figured different sides would benefit from Lantia's sun for different lengths of time but one side would always be bathed in sunlight. At the present orientation of the city, this tower would rarely be in the shadow of other city spires.

When they rounded the last corner he could tell that on the sun-facing-side, the ranks of windows reached from ground level to the very top. They all were gleaming in the light so that it took a minute to see within.

It looked as densely packed as any tropical forest with green and flowering plants. Small tendrils even dropped through the windows to hang like some of the houseplants you'd find in almost any Tau'ri home on Earth but these were not quite the same, although he wasn't a botanist by any means.

He reached up to toggle his mic. “McKay.”

Jinto pointed to a bird that launched from one of the open windows and everyone, including Sheppard, watched it fade quickly into the distance.

“What, Sheppard?” There was a small pause while the Major watched the bird disappear. “Sheppard?”

Sheppard grinned and made a small huffing sound.

“Well, I can hear you breathing, so stop wasting my time and tell me what's up.”

“There's something you should see. Jinto and Wex made a discovery."

"The Athosian kids? Isn't somebody supposed to watch them?"

Sheppard grinned at the boys reactions when they heard that.

Teyla spoke firmly enough that even McKay would hear. "I believe that was the arrangement. I think I will have to review their schedule as it seems they have too much free time."

Jinto gulped, but Wex started to say something and Jinto nudged him to silence.

Sheppard said, "Well, I called because you should come over to the easternmost tower... if you're not working on something urgent. There's something you really should see. And bring anyone that's an expert on plants and food cultivation.”

“Huh. You found plants?”

“Yes. Well, Jinto and Wex did. They and Teyla and Halling just brought me over here to see it. This is really amazing. I only hope some of it's edible.”

“I'll get Parish and Brown... and the nutritionists and Biology. Hell, even Carson will be interested.”

“It's really a sight, McKay. A beautiful sight.”

“Tell me you don't see any lemons or oranges.”

Teyla looked at Sheppard. “Lemons. Oranges?”

“Yeah. They're fruits. Usually, when they're ripe, they're yellow and orange in color and I heard that McKay is allergic to them.

“McKay, just come to the ground level, outside. We should really let the food docs explore it inside first.”

“I'm on my way. Wait, wait. Get the Athosians to look at the plants. They may be able to identify some things that are edible.”

Sheppard called Chuck to ask the Athosians to join them if they could. It was a good call because they were very helpful, and they looked very relieved. They had always grown their own food when they decided to stay in one area for a time. When they couldn't, when they were mainly nomadic out of fear of the Wraith, they gathered what grew locally when ripe. But just knowing that growing things here would be possible was a relief for them, and for the Expedition, too, because food stocks were already causing worry.

Teyla and John joined up with several dozen people investigating what the garden held, because it was a garden of many levels and a high degree of complexity. It soared far above them as far as they could see. The central atrium was open to the very top and a clear skylight fairly glowed with the warmth of the sun. In among the plants it was half twilight toward the shadowed side, where the forest was so thick in places that the clearly artificial paths were the only useful way around.

There were no obvious water features but the soil was obviously damp and seemed well balanced chemically from what the botanists were able to determine later. They could see that some windows were open so there must be a mechanism to open and close them and the skylight as well.

They learned a lot about the Garden when they knew what to search for. When Atlantis had risen from the sea there were mechanisms that had unsealed the dormant gardens. In fact, the botanists were ecstatic about the stasis apparatus within the Garden, because the plants within were too far advanced to have begun growth when they arrived and the city was forced to surface from the ocean floor. Everything was well into growth that would produce crops of various sorts all without any intervention from them.

When McKay had a chance to check the area out he was more excited than the boys had been. He'd been concerned about power usage and feared it would be a drain on the city's only remaining ZPM, but the Stasis Generator was independent of it. It was entirely powered by natural sources: the sun and wind, and when submerged it was powered by water currents. All of that was self-sustaining energy, and during emergencies, could be diverted to any area of the city that required it.

...

Later that week

“Do you want to go visit the Garden, Rodney? It's a great place for a walk. Some of the people have already found favorite spots from what I hear. Dr. Parrish thinks that the Garden was used for recreation as well as for the production of food. I think we needed some green space or we'd have begun to feel claustrophobic very soon.”

“Claustrophobic? Have you seen the size of Atlantis? It's like Manhattan without the dirt and the noise and the crowds. And it does have citrus in there. Parish made notes for me.” Rodney muttered something.

“What did you say?” asked Sheppard.

Rodney seemed irritated but what he said was, “Parish even took pictures so I'd be familiar with the plants they'd discovered so far, and not go near them.”

Sheppard grinned. “That was really thoughtful of him.”

“Yes, yes. I am Head of Science so I'm sure he thought he'd better go above and beyond because I'm his supervisor.”

“Well, maybe. But it was still good of him to do that for you.”

“Maybe I'll take a look around a little later. He said he'd give me a tour, too, so he can point out the areas to especially stay away from.”

“Hm. Sounds like that's a good idea. Maybe I could go with the two of you. I should become familiar with this stuff, too.”

“Really, you'd go with us? Well, yeah. You'll be going off world. If Pegasus is anything like the Milky Way you could encounter the same plants on a number of worlds.”

“Yeah. I think it would be a good idea for the members of the field teams, too. I hope Parish can spare some time for this. And since he's going to give you a special tour I should tag along. I need to be able to recognize the citrus, too. It's too dangerous not to be familiar with substances that can kill you.”

“Hm.”

“What?”

“Well, it's just that most people don't even believe me.”

“Are you kidding?”

Rodney managed to look irritated, grateful, and embarrassed at the same time.

Sheppard tried to lighten the moment. “Well, not your friends, of course.”

“Yes. Of course. Not my friends. Well... I'll contact Parish and try to set a time. You still want a tour, right?”

“Yeah. Of course." His stomach started to rumble and with an embarrased look he added, "Hey, it's later than I thought. It's time for supper, join me?”

“Uh, well, I, sure. Of course.”

“Good. Seeing all these plants makes me hungry.”

“I could eat.”



 

...3... Flashback



 

Major Sheppard had arrived early for today's mission. He watched idlely as Chuck updated one of his logs. He knew that Dr. Weir was out of her office but Teyla was covering for her. She'd come up with several good prospects for allies and were trying to narrow the list down.

But Sheppard's mind wandered and he glanced at the StarGate. He'd managed to cause problems right from the start. He couldn't help tensing up as he thought back to a day that had started so promisingly. The SGC successfully opened a wormhole to another galaxy... he wasn't sure now if he'd ever really believed it would work, but they had arrived with all their members and supplies intact... in a city at the bottom of an ocean.

That had led quickly to their first desperate mission to find a place to evacuate to if the city couldn't be raised. And that had led to meeting the Athosians.

...and then the Wraith.

Colonel Sumner and some of the Athosians had been taken by the creatures they called Wraith. The Colonel would never have agreed to retreating to Atlantis with a small village full of people, that's for sure. But Sheppard couldn't leave them behind when they were attacked.

He'd had to fight Dr. Weir to send a rescue mission for Sumner and the villagers. That second mission had an even worse ending. He had managed to lose two of their own but had come back with another handful of Athosians, and one of them was Teyla Emmagan. She had been in a rough state at the time. So was he. He'd had to leave Sumner's and Ford's bodies behind. He didn't like to leave his people behind, even if he knew they were dead.

…

Sheppard had seen the look on Dr. Weir's face that day as he arrived with those he had saved, and without those two ranking members of the Expedition. Even McKay seemed to be in shock.

"Dr. Weir, I'm sorry to have to report the loss of Colonel Sumner and Lieutenant Ford. Both died on the Wraith... hiveship. There are details that will be included in the report that I would rather do privately during the debriefing."

Weir seemed to get control of herself quickly. "Major, you can debrief after checking in with Dr. Beckett." Her attention shifted to Teyla Emmagan as she stepped toward the stairs and Major Sheppard. She stopped to speak to the Major.

“Major Sheppard, my people and I owe you a great deal for our rescue. We are very sorry about Colonel Sumner.” Sheppard flinched and wouldn't meet her eyes. She knew he had been forced to kill the other officer, and she knew it was a mercy, but it was also a terrible burden to bear. “And also know, that your soldier, Lieutenant Ford, was very brave. He was...”

“...But he followed my orders well, and he died. He shouldn't have died. I knew he was green. He didn't have enough experience to...”

Teyla placed a hand gently on Sheppard's arm. Sheppard flinched at the touch, and she quickly withdrew it. “Major. Do not deny his bravery. He was frightened, as were we all. But he did his duty, did he not? He saved you, and all of us.” She glanced behind her at the Athosians waiting to find their way in this strange place. And they were waiting for her to lead. As she knew Sheppard would lead. He was that kind of man.

Sheppard, too, glanced at the waiting refugees. He thought fleetingly that he'd seen too many stressed and terrified people in his life, but he'd rescued these people. They were his. He knew how it worked. Besides, there were procedures for everything.

He straightened and then nodded once to them and they nodded back. It seemed to be a universal action. Who knew? Pegasus and the Milky Way. There were probably many similarities they'd discover in the coming months. Well that actually gave him some ideas about what came next.

He cleared his throat and managed to ask, “Teyla, I'm sure everyone could use something to eat and then a place to rest. Am I right?”

Teyla relaxed her stance a bit in relief. “Yes,” she said wearily. “We have need of food and rest. I hope you will join us, Major Sheppard. There is much to discuss and I would feel better if my people were near so I may take their words in consideration, and just to be reassured that my people are safe for now.”

Sheppard nodded again. “I think that can be arranged.” He glanced at Elizabeth then turned to the man, Chuck, he thought his name was. “Can you tell the mess that a group is on the way? We have to check in with the Doctor first so this will give them a bit of a warning to give them time to be ready for us.”

Then he turned to Dr. Weir and Dr. McKay who were on the upper level of the Control Room. He could see they had questions and they were still obviously upset about their losses. “I know we need to debrief, but can we do it more comfortably in the mess?”

Dr. Weir was hesitant for just a moment but she knew that these people had been through a lot today. The debrief needn't be formal, not at this stage. She quickly nodded in agreement. "We'll speak after these people are settled, Major."

John simply nodded. He hoped that the Athosians would end up as allies and not just refugees. They certainly had knowledge that they sorely needed. Dr. Beckett could attend to their small injuries, and warm drinks and a meal would go a long way to ease the Athosians fears. It would benefit everyone and help ease the stress of this day's mission.

Dr. McKay agreed to come sit in for the briefing, too. That made two of the expedition's leaders, and he'd be the third. That's the way the situation was setting up, that he'd be the third.

That would be a step toward solving that problem. The two officers that had lead the military were dead, on a rescue mission that Sheppard had led. He knew what it would look like to Stargate Command and the Air Force. He was an Air Force Major, not a Marine, and was not in the chain of command. He would have to meet with Dr. Weir soon to discuss that. He would have to take command unless she had some other solution, but he wasn't sure how the Marines would react, if they would accept their new commander.

Somehow, things had to settle down. There simply wasn't any other choice. But the steps to achieve that would take careful negotiating. But if Weir and McKay approved, he thought it would be accepted... as long as nothing else truly screwed up happened.



 

...4...Flashback to the Next Arrival



 

Athosians were a generous people. They were certainly grateful for those that the Major saved from the Wraith and also for being allowed to stay in the City of the Ancestors. But it was even more than gratitude.

Teyla Emmagan became the heart of the city's inhabitants. She quickly became a friend, confidante, and consultant to Dr. Weir, and the liaison with the Athosians and other Pegasus natives. Teyla was “Teyla” to everyone. She quickly learned everyone's name and what their job was.

The Athosians had been assimilated quickly, but some other peoples had their own doubts. Some negotiated a trial resettlement of small groups, at first.

Some of the Elders of the population of M7G-677 came through with the first group of new immigrants. On Atlantis they called it the Children's Planet, because everyone on Atlantis was aware there was a horrifying rule that they had lived by. No one was allowed to live to the age of 25. But their treaty with Atlantis had changed that. The one named Keras was no longer the eldest of the 24's. For now he was the first and only member of the 25's.

“Ares,” he said. “Do you see?” Keras asked softly as he openly stared around the Gate Room. "They said they lived in the city of the Ancestors. Even I questioned that statement, but seeing this, makes me believe."

Ares was wary, even more than he was on their planet. He'd been outvoted by the others, and it still angered him. Ares pulled Keras aside as the others gathered at the base of the stairs leading up. “Keras, these people are not like ours. They think our beliefs are wrong. How can we honor all those that followed the law if we live here? It isn't right. These are not the forests and meadows of home. How will we live here?”

Keras turned to Ares. He placed his hands on Ares shoulders. “I'm sorry, Ares. If the Tau'ri had come last year your brother would be here, alive. I was honored that you agreed to accept me as your blood brother. I look around at this strange place and I, too, wonder if this will work for us. The agreement that we made with the Tau'ri promised that we could leave at any time...”

“But they have the device! The one that kept us safe from the Wraith! We will not be safe without it.”

Keras nodded gently. “I know. But they have promised to return it if we decide to leave. We both know they told the truth when they said it was nearly depleted. We knew it was failing, and it would not have worked for much longer. Please, Ares. Will you give this an honest trial?”

Keras glanced around them at the many younger people that had come through on this trip. “Look at them Ares,” he said even more softly. “I would not like to leave them unprotected to face the Wraith, and it would have happened perhaps in their lifetime, even before they could become 24's. That is why I agreed. We negotiated in good faith with these new Atlantians. I believe they negotiated in good faith, too. If we find that isn't true, then we will talk with the other Elders and decide, then, what to do. Are you willing to try? Are you with us for this trial? We need your fair judgement, brother.”

Ares looked around at this Atlantis, so different from what he'd known, and then looked at his own children that watched and listened for his decision. “A trial.” He still looked nervous.

Keras looked up at Dr. Weir, the negotiator of the promise. He kept one hand on Ares shoulder. “Dr. Weir. We have come. There are more gathering their possessions. They will be waiting for their assigned time.”

Dr. Weir smiled warmly. “Keras, it's good to see you. And you Ares. Would you like to follow me to the Infirmary? I can go over the procedures again for the children if you're not sure they're ready to go.” She glanced around at all the curious faces of the younger ones and asked, “Do you remember that I explained the procedures to you? It's for the safety of everyone, every time someone comes through the Gate. After that we can all enjoy the meal we've prepared for you to enjoy. Then you can meet many of our citizens that are waiting. You've only met a few of the Athosians and Tau'ri so far. Then we'll get you all sorted to quarters as well.”

“We remember, Dr. Weir.” Keras squeezed Ares shoulder quickly before letting go, then gestured for the others to follow her.

Dr. Weir led them away down the corridor. “Have you ever seen an ocean?”

Keras and Ares shared a glance. Keras answered, “No.”

One of the children with them, Casta, asked, “What is an ocean?”

Dr. Weir chuckled. “I'll be glad to show you. Come. There's a balcony just off the Infirmary. We'll stop there first.”

...

That was remembered as a happy day. Certainly all the citizens already living on Atlantis were glad to see even a mostly depleted ZPM arrive to join the one they had. It gave them just a bit more leeway on the safety front even though there were more mouths to feed.

But the best part was the sound of children. There were more with this group than the Athosians had brought. The soldiers and scientists sometimes looked surprised at the sound of giggles and children running in the halls. Sometimes the laughter was catching.

And they were fast learners. They wanted to learn everything; see everything; touch everything. So they had to learn fast. It was too dangerous otherwise for children and adults new to the city. Many in the future would work in civilian trades and small scale manufacturing, and others would join their newly formed militia.

The militia would guard citizens mostly when they went off world to harvest fields and orchards that had belonged to their new citizens, and then ready the fields for the coming year. If militia members proved adept, then they could transfer to military status and train with the Marines. They would also guard, and hunt, on the mainland in an area with arable land.

But if that was a happy day, one of the worst was soon to come.



 

...5...Ally or Enemy



 

Negotiations were to be entered into with the Genii. Teyla had insisted on going on the mission since she knew them well, and they had always been most congenial hosts that were visited often. When they reported in early and returned through the Gate, Elizabeth only had to look at their faces to know that something was very wrong. She couldn't remember a time before or since that Teyla had looked so angry.

Major Sheppard's face looked hard, and he was clearly furious when he came through the Gate. It had been deemed a safe mission so when McKay asked to go to try out the Ancient scanner he'd been working on, Sheppard had agreed. And McKay for all his usual bluster, was unusually silent.

After the Gate shut down Teyla approached Sheppard. “Major, I do not know how to apologize. The Genii are … were not what they presented themselves to be." She became even more agitated as she continued. "They always traded with us fairly, but... obviously not fairly. They lied with every breath. I cannot explain how I was so deceived.” By then her hands were clenched tightly.

Sheppard had stopped at the bottom of the stairs. He took a deep breath before he turned back to his team. He seemed to shake off the worst of his own fury, and managed to speak gently to her. “Please, don't worry about it Teyla. If not for McKay's Ancient scanner we'd have believed them, too. Nuclear experimentation is very dangerous. The radiation can be deadly in even small doses. From what McKay said, they'll probably pay for it with years of their lives. It's best if we stay far away from them. They're so terrified of the Wraith that they hide from everyone, even those who could help them and would be their friends. Believe me, we've seen this type of thing before, on Earth.”

“I had hoped they would be a strong, dependable ally.”

Dr. Weir had joined them at the base of the stairway. "I take it things didn't go well?"

Teyla simply stood and seemed to expect the blame for the outcome of this mission. "I do not know how it could be worse."

Sheppard grimaced. "Oh, please. I've seen worse. Sure, we'd be glad of a stable ally but it won't be the Genii. Don't worry Elizabeth, we'll give you the full debrief after we check in with the Doc. Until then, just try to imagine an Amish village hiding a nuclear bunker.” He sighed as he took another step toward the hall leading to the Infirmary. “We'll find reasonable, sane allies somewhere. Maybe the people on Dagan that you mentioned. They sounded interesting.”

Teyla nodded slowly. "Yes, Dagan." She sighed deeply as she followed him. She then tried to turn her thoughts from this latest blow to their plans. “Halling knows more about them than I. He has visited several times since we came to Atlantis. He has been very careful about what he has revealed, of course, but their society is very old. The Brotherhood has been intact for centuries. They have told Halling a little about an artifact that they revere highly, but no one but the Brotherhood has ever seen it. If we can offer them a safer home Halling believes they would agree to live here. Or we may gain them as allies at least. And Dr. McKay has said he is very interested in examining the artifact. Halling is working on that but the negotiation is going slowly.”

McKay looked glad to change the subject as he moved to follow them. He added, “Well, it's going to be a while before we can go to Dagan. We need to get ready for the storm that's coming. Considering how this trip turned out, I think we should have stayed here to make sure we were ready for it. In fact, I think I'll call Radek to come to the debriefing and find out if they've made any headway on repairing the grounding stations. I'm not sure how much time we'll have to fix everything.”

“See, Teyla. Halling is negotiating. McKay has a plan. Always plan ahead. There are friends to make, and things to fix. Right Doc? That will just have to wait till we see Carson and then meet with Elizabeth to do a full report.”



 

...6...Enemy



 

But despite the Atlantians wariness and quick leavetaking, or because of it, they had drawn the interest of the Genii. Their leadership had immediately sent out their spies to learn as much as they could about them. They knew that the Athosians had not traveled with these strangers until very recently. Strangers always prompted gossip throughout the markets in Pegasus, and these associates of the Athosians had said little about themselves. They were only able to find out their name, Tau'ri... so far.

The Genii soon made contact with the Manarans who they learned had allied with the Athosians and Tau'ri. The information they gathered from them told of a coming storm and a partial evacuation for most of the population. They had negotiated a price with the Manarans for a safe haven during this time.

The Manarans were always helpful, for a price. It was discovered later that the Genii paid them handsomely for those details. The Genii made their plans to take advantage of the coming temporary relocation. When Atlantis had evacuated all non-essential personnel and were operating with only a few of the Tau-ri soldiers, scientists, and leaders, the Genii were ready. They launched a strike team for the attack, with a large, eager invading force waiting to join them after Atlantis was secured.



 

…7...War Was Made



 

Sheppard had sent out a puddlejumper to make sure all equipment had been secured at the mainland base. But circumstances had kept those soldiers and Dr. Beckett, who could fly the puddlejumper but did it rarely, from returning. The storm had moved too quickly, and the winds were just too fierce for the doctor to chance returning to the city, even in a puddlejumper.

When they lost contact with Atlantis, Beckett and crew had feared the worst. But they were very relieved when the city appeared, intact, when they flew to its coordinates. They had no idea of the devastation inside until they were secured in the landing bay. The city was dark within it's halls, and silent. The visible marks of the carnage were everywhere. The Gate Room and the Control Room were burned and scorched, bodies in unknown uniforms and blood and discarded weapons were everywhere it seemed.

Dr. Beckett cautioned the men to stay armed and to be careful until they knew the reason for all the damage. Then he sent the men to try to check in with the guards that had been left on the city, and to find Weir, Sheppard, and McKay if they could. They needed to report that they had returned safely to the city. It was alarming that no one had answered their radio call. He decided to head to the Infirmary, suspecting that if they were injured they should be there.

"Major! It is such a relief to..."

"Doc. Questions later, okay. McKay could use your expertise right now."

"Of course, of course. And you, laddie. You look like you could use some help, too." Then Carson saw the covered body on a gurney. "Oh, lads, what happened here?" He took a tentative step, but Sheppard grabbed his arm.

His voice was rough as he pulled him off his course. "McKay first, Doc. Elizabeth doesn't need you right now."

Carson's gasp was sharp and he tried to turn back but was held firmly.

"Doc, we'll tell you what happened. Just... not right now. Okay?"

Carson glanced at McKay who was unconscious and looked beaten and bloody, then back to Sheppard. "You're sure..."

"It was the Genii. Their commander, Kolya was his name, executed her. McKay was there. He tried to stop him, and got injuries of his own. Take a good look at his arm, Doc. They did some pretty deep cuts to try to break him."

On seeing the arm wrapped in bloodied bandages, Carson seemed to force himself to action, but not before Sheppard saw grief and anger on his face. But the Doc was made of stern material.

"Major, can you radio the men to tell them where we all are? They're searching for you and your Marines right now."

"Yeah. They're dead, too." After telling the men to still be cautious as there could still be invaders in hiding He ordered two of them to see if they could get the sensors online to make sure. Sheppard finally sat and watched Carson as he went to work and set McKay's injuries as right as possible.

Then Carson turned to Sheppard. "Ye've seen a bit of a battle yourself. Can ye tell me what else went on?" The Doc gestured for him to shed his outfit.

Sheppard sighed as he eased out of his bloodied clothing. "Well, I don't know yet how they managed to get an IDC, but we'll find out. No one suspected anything was wrong. They came through the Gate with their guns firing. They killed the guards before they even had a chance to aim. I was on the upper deck watching the screens since Chuck was evacuated with the others. Elizabeth and McKay had just come from the hall to the Infirmary. They'd just been checking it out since you were still on the mainland."

Carson sighed deeply. "Ah, laddie."

Sheppard shook his head. "Don't you dare blame yourself for that. You did what you had to do, and we did what needed to be done here. But... I was too far away from them. I couldn't get to them..."

"Laddie, don't be claimin' the blame either, John."

"Right. Huh. Well, there were so many of them the only thing I could do was get away to fight them guerilla style. I had to make sure that the armory was locked down, and seal off the most dangerous science labs. I could do most of that from the Chair before locking it down, too. And try to secure the grounding stations. Rodney had been most worried about them with the storm coming. After that, it was a matter of taking out Kolya's men on the fringes as I worked my way back to the Stargate. I don't think I could have done it without the Ancient scanner McKay found."

"How many were there, John?"

"Dozens. I'm not really sure of the body count. But..."

"What?"

Sheppard swallowed hard. "Kolya and I talked on one of their radios. He bragged about taking over. And about the team waiting to come through when the invasion was accomplished, and the rest of his men would take control of Atlantis."

Carson looked worried for a moment. "But they never came? Or you stopped them from coming, is that it?"

Sheppard looked more haggard as he replied. "Yeah, I stopped them. The Gate was open... and I closed the Iris."

Carson's hands stopped in their ministrations for a moment. "How... I mean... I don't know what I mean."

"Kolya said he had a hundred men and women just waiting for their chance to do their part in acquiring such an asset."

"But you stopped them." And Carson's voice sounded almost as hollow as Sheppard felt.

"Yeah. I killed about a hundred and fifty people today. A good job, right?"

"I'm sorry it was you, John." He glanced to the body on the gurney. "I'm not sorry ye' stopped them."
...

Teyla had planned to return with the last of the people that had evacuated, since Elizabeth had chosen to remain on the city. But Sheppard had simply sent her a message for her to return immediately. The devastation she saw when she returned was horrible, but then she was told of Elizabeth's death.

She blamed herself. The Genii were monsters, and she never knew. Elizabeth's death was her fault, and she had been safe on Manara the whole time. She didn't know what to do. How could she help Rodney or John? What could she do now that Elizabeth lay murdered by people she had recommended as allies?

She went immediately to the infirmary to check on John and Rodney. John's injuries were minor and he had already left, but she was there when Dr. McKay was released. She wondered if Dr. McKay was really alright. She tried to talk to him but he wouldn't look directly at anyone, and he didn't stop to speak to her like he would normally.

She began to understand those changes in him when John told her what had happened. She learned that Rodney had tried to shield Dr. Weir from being executed by the Genii leader, Kolya, and had been tortured by him. Then Kolya had killed Dr. Weir right in front of him.

The Tau'ri were not Athosian. They were not from Pegasus. They did not know how to live with the constant fear of violent death. To have that violence experienced by Rodney, and even John who was a soldier, made her want to weep for them, and for her people. She had made friends here and to see the devastation so clearly on everyone's faces made her want to weep for herself.

...

The Genii had brought their people to make war on their city. But one man had stood in their way. Sheppard had stopped them, at first one-by-one, then had closed the Iris on what was to be the occupying force. Stopped, meaning destroyed down to their atoms, and no one was sorry because Dr. Weir had not been a combatant, and was not armed. And no one doubted they'd have killed everyone when they returned from Manara to an Atlantis in Genii hands. These were Genii, not Wraith. It was expected of the Wraith to be inhuman. How could humans do this to others of their own kind?

The worst signs of the attack were slowly erased. The bodies had been dealt with. The invaders bodies were left in front of the Gate to be destroyed by the wormhole. They didn't contact the Genii about any of it. They let them wonder at the disappearance of well over a hundred and fifty of their elite soldiers. Those men and women were not Atlantis' problem anymore.



 

...8...Triumvirate



 

After a week's time, Chuck began to wonder who was in charge now... No one wanted to bother the Major or Dr. McKay. Not even for a decision of that magnitude, but there were things that needed to be done.

“Teyla, is Major Sheppard or Dr. McKay going to call a meeting of the … Command Staff or the Atlantis Council?”

“I believe they will, soon. They do not wish to be disturbed right now.”

Chuck nodded. “Uh, Teyla, has anyone talked to either of them yet? I know they're both hurting. What I mean to say is, they really need their friends close. I know you're very busy... but I was wondering if you knew how they were doing?”

“I know, Chuck. I have stayed as close as they will allow, but Rodney has been so busy since he was released from the Infirmary that he has little time for anything else. I know that neither man wants to think about Elizabeth. They both believe themselves to be to blame no matter the true cause. I have tried to talk to both of them, but I think you can guess how well that went.”

“Yeah. They're real good at being too busy. Major Sheppard, he just looks lost sometimes. I know he feels bad about losing Dr. Weir, but he did all he could. They both did. I can't even imagine how Dr. McKay handled seeing her killed like that, after they tortured him. And Major Sheppard... we got a report from Bates about the city surveillance results you know.”

"Yes. I saw the tape myself. I know the Major well enough to know that he does not like to take a life unnecessarily, but he had no choice. He knows that but he is also upset that it wasn't enough to save her."

Teyla looked like she might cry herself but continued. “Rodney is so strong. He never broke and he must have known they'd kill him if he refused their questions. I think he believes that Elizabeth was killed because he refused. He said the Genii were furious that they couldn't simply take control of the city. Kolya thought he was hiding some kind of key or code that would allow the computers to function. After that, neither he nor John would barely speak to me or to anyone. Chuck, Elizabeth was my friend. And now all our people are grieving.”

“Ma'am, it may not be my place, but may I just say that we need you and Sheppard and McKay. You're our leaders now. You, the three of you, are the Command Staff now. And ma'am, I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but, you may be the strongest one right now. I think you may have to lead them for a time.”

Teyla didn't look surprised. It was obvious that the leadership of Atlantis was shattered. It was true that the obvious leaders, the head of Military and head of Science were themselves hurting and in shock and recovering from injuries, both physical and psychological.

Who would lead now was a serious question. The Military? Or Science, which was civilian, and the Charter was clear on that point, that the leader must be a civilian except under certain extraordinary circumstances. Maybe this was extraordinary enough?

She had discussed these things with Elizabeth and John before, to try to understand the way things worked for the Tau'ri. They had talked about various government systems and how when a leader was lost or died while in office, usually a council appointed a successor. Then the people held elections for their next leader. But Atlantis was different from those systems.

The Charter allowed the military to institute War Zone practices with civilian governance. They hadn't been sure if it would continue to work but it had so far. The problem now was who was the civilian leader? There were people that were military or militia, and others who were science or other staff, but there were also a large number of citizens that were neither. They needed to be represented, too.

The Atlantis that had been envisioned had never really existed. From the beginning it had refugees that came, and stayed, and became citizens. They'd been joined by others including the entire populations of several planets, including the largest so far, M7G-677. There were many more Pegasus natives than Tau'ri on Atlantis. Everyone who came and stayed did their part. Teyla just wasn't sure what her duty was now.

She could see that Chuck thought it was obvious who the civilian leader should be. And they needed to make it official soon, before this new society shattered.

...

Teyla and Halling were finishing up the reports necessary for the Genii Invasion.

"Teyla, are all these reports really necessary? I know I am not as fast as you, but most seem redundant. And," he paused to really look at her, "you know they might never be read."

Teyla leaned back in her chair. "What should we do, Halling? We have lost an entire Marine team, and we have lost Elizabeth. Reports seem endless and useless but there must be a reason for them. I believe they want the facts recorded so that mistakes won't be repeated. I am not sure it will help, but at least it distracts the mind when you have to focus on lesser things."

Halling leaned on his desk toward Teyla. "She was your friend, and the leader of the city. What do you wish to do now?"

Teyla looked a bit confused. "What do I wish? We need a leader. Someone strong that can do what needs to be done."

"You are strong. You know what needs to be done."

Teyla shook her head then stopped. "I am not Tau'ri."

"No. Do we need another Tau'ri for this?"

Teyla looked away and Halling knew that she had not really considered it seriously. She would make a good leader. It was her ideas that had guided them as much as it was Dr. Weir's. "Teyla, don't you know? She was training you to be her successor."

"No. That can't..."

"Then who else was she teaching? Sheppard and McKay have much on their shoulders. Besides, the Charter requires a civilian."

She nodded slowly. "Dr. McKay is a civilian. He could take over."

Halling let a small grin take hold. "I foresee chaos if that takes place."

Teyla gently snorted. "You may be right. But more likely mutiny would result." She finally looked back at Halling. "I really need to think on this, Halling."

He just answered with a nod and went back to his laptop. Every once in a while he'd glance at Teyla as she went through another cup of tea and use of her own laptop. When he got up for some tea for himself, he saw a page from the Charter on her screen. He felt some of his own fear ease.

…

Teyla chose to call a morning briefing with all Department and Guild heads. She sat at her usual place at the conference table but she was silent and still. It didn't seem to register with the others that Teyla was not her usual self.

Everyone had come fortified with their usual morning coffee or tea as the case may be, but no one seemed happy to be here. No one really spoke. Only small murmurs were heard and those were inconsequential.

Teyla watched everyone, but most of her thoughts centered on Major John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay. Their thoughts about the leadership of the city would greatly influence what was decided today. Dr. Weir was dead, and they needed a strong leader to take her place. Teyla was not entirely convinced that they would choose her. But someone had to lead.

She thought of a Tau'ri saying about the elephant-in-the-room, and how she had been amazed at the size of the creature when she had researched it. She had wondered exactly how it would fit in a room and how it could then be ignored. She had never really understood how appropriate a phrase it could be until today.

She sipped her strongest brew of tea and watched them. She wondered if anyone else was willing to start, but Halling broke off speaking to Keras and looked at her and nodded. She hadn't spoken of the day's topic to Halling but he was very astute, and she knew he would stand by any decision she made. She took a deep breath, held it for a second and let it out slowly. The moment she spoke, there was instant silence.

“Good morning. I called this meeting of all department and guild leaders of the city. There is business that must be attended to, and I have delayed this meeting as long as possible out of deference to the mourning period.

“Dr. Weir's death was a brutal, an unconscionable act. Her death was avenged and her killer, and his men were destroyed. We know the Genii people were responsible as were the Manarans who betrayed us. As you all know, word has been spread to all our allies not to trust, deal, or trade with any of them. The Manarans cannot be trusted with any association with our allies. We have mourned our losses, but now we must go on. That has always been the way of life in Pegasus. Mourn the dead, and to honor them... live.

“As most of you know, the Tau'ri Expedition to Pegasus has a governance charter. We have lived by it's code in Atlantis with no problems so far. But this charter requires a civilian leader. If we are to go forward, to live, we need to make a decision. We need a leader.”

Teyla looked to Sheppard, and he glanced at Rodney. Rodney wouldn't look up.

John looked back at Teyla, and then looked slowly at each of the grave faces around the table. He slowly stood. Teyla expected him to speak, but he didn't. He moved slowly to stand behind what would have been Elizabeth's chair. Everyone had left it in its place and empty. He looked at Teyla and nodded, then picked up the chair and moved to put it against the wall.

Around the room could be heard chairs sliding back, and people standing in respect.

There was a low sound behind him. When he'd turned back to the conference table Rodney had his hands over his face.

“Rodney,” Sheppard said softly. When Rodney lowered his hands and stood, Sheppard continued. “Well, we have a lot of civilians now, but none of them know the city as well as Teyla. She was Elizabeth's right hand. What do you think?”

Rodney turned toward Teyla. His voice was strained but firm. “Teyla has my vote.”

Sheppard managed a small nod and said, “Teyla has my vote as well.”

Variations of yes and aye were heard, but no nays.

Teyla had stood with the others, and now John went to her. He moved her chair over to the space made by Elizabeth's chair. Then he went to her and lowered his head, as she did. They touched foreheads and clasped hands and arms for a long moment, then Rodney moved to do the same. Indeed, all of the people that had chosen her moved to do the same.

It was the fastest election in anyone's recollection.



 

...9...Citizens Baring Gift



 

The Atlantian council had been very surprised by the reaction of the Elders of the Sudarian Brotherhood, but also, wary. They'd already endured the longest negotiations of any group that said they would consider settling on Atlantis. Then, suddenly, after their talks had stalled again, the leader of the Brotherhood seemed to have changed his mind. He had then suddenly insisted on meeting on Atlantis. A small delegation was agreed upon and a date, and they would be accompanied by a very frustrated Halling.

Halling stepped through the Ring of the Ancestors first, followed by the official delegation. Four of them carried a platform between them that they lowered to the floor, then they moved back a few steps. The woman in their company stepped forward to stand beside the platform which held a draped item. When an older man gestured, the woman removed the drape from the article it hid, and everything came to a halt.

The leader of the delegation nodded in satisfaction. They had chosen correctly. These Atlantians knew what they carried with them. The potentia gave off a steady, pale, amber glow.

Everyone in the Control Room then slowly advanced toward the railing above the Gate to gaze at what the delegation from Dagan had brought.

Major Sheppard only just managed to stop when he reached the steps. He cleared his throat and spoke to Chuck. “Get McKay and Zelenka up here. Tell them to drop... everything. Urgent but not dangerous.”

Chuck didn't bother to acknowledge, he just spoke softly into the mic. He waited and listened then said, “Doc. Just come and see. I don't quite believe it myself.”

When Rodney and Radek appeared, they didn't hesitate at all. It was obvious that Zelenka tried to slow Rodney down. He finally managed to bring Rodney to his senses by holding on to his arm for the last few steps. Still, they barely managed to stop within arms reach of the ZPM. Then Rodney immediately reached for it.

Sheppard stopped him with a soft, “Rodney.”

Rodney twisted sharply to look at him. He sighed loudly as he turned back. “Oh.” He made himself step back. “I. I would appreciate it if I could... take some readings of the ZedPM.”

Teyla and Sheppard shared a quick, surprised glance. It was probably the most diplomatic thing McKay had ever said.

Halling nodded toward the Elder and then to Teyla. “I've been told that they have come to negotiate terms of settlement."

The Elder bowed slightly and gestured for the young woman to step forward.

“My name is Allina. This potentia was entrusted to the priests of the Brotherhood by one of the Ancestors. We had heard stories of a new people in Pegasus, ones the Athosians and others have allied with. People named Tau'ri that Halling told us live in Atlantis. He explained a little but as negotiation progressed we came to realize from his stories that some of you have the Blessing of the Ancients. We ended the talks between us to allow time for discussion among our people. We decided we could delay no longer.”

The Elder finally spoke. “We have only to complete our task. To return the potentia to the Ancestors... or their descendants, when they have returned.”

Teyla had stood at the top of the stairs during this quiet exchange. She nodded to Sheppard and stepped forward, then smiled, and descended the stairs as calmly as Elizabeth used to do. “We wish to welcome you to Atlantis. I know that Halling would have explained our welcome procedures. Please, accompany me to the Infirmary. We can meet soon after. We will share a meal and discuss the next step.”

...

After all the searching they'd done, how did Atlantis get a full ZPM? The Daganians wished to join them, and the Lantians consented.

But Dagan's acceptance was a real turning point. Not only did they acquire another population to absorb but also gained their first full ZPM. But gaining new citizens was something they were getting familiar with. There would be a short welcome at the Gate, then a trip to the Infirmary with a short stop at the balcony, for none of the new citizens yet encountered had lived surrounded entirely by the sea. The vastness of the ocean and a view of the city was sure to overwhelm them for a time.

Soon there would be a warm meal and introductions to leaders of various departments and guilds on the city reassuring them that they could make a place for themselves. Then settlement would be arranged in these strange surroundings. After the new citizens had had enough of strange people and places, they would tour the Alteran Garden. The new citizens seemed to relax even more at this vision of natural beauty within the great city.



 

...10...Warship Aurora



 

Chuck was watching the Control panels as Dr. McKay and Dr. Zelenka worked on the information coming through on the recently initialized systems. The Dagan ZPM had hinted at marvelous unknown and unused diagnostic tools and long-range security scanners. Chuck was kept on his toes as both Docs would snap questions to each other and to him, and he didn't relish Dr. M's comments if he missed his cue.

Major Sheppard wasn't far away either. When he'd initialized one system they had received an instant warning, which had shocked them into a frenzied discussion of where/when/why. When they finally found the location it had been a relief. It was on the very edge of Pegasus. What was worrying was that it was coming from an Aurora-class Ancient warship.

“McKay. Is the warship heading toward Atlantis?”

Rodney sighed and stepped over to John. “When we activated the ZedPM, the city must have sent out some kind of an automated subspace beacon to any ships not accounted for.”

“It's heading here? How long...”

Rodney glanced at his laptop. “Well, given that it's at the edge of the Pegasus galaxy, let me see ... carry the four ... Forty-two million years. Should we go wait on the porch?*”

“Well, can we get there...”

“Nope. No Gate close enough so, too far for a Jumper.”

Sheppard sighed. “Well, that's not too helpful then.”

“I can shut off the homing beacon.”

“You might as well, until or if, we get a ship of our own to go check it out.”



 

...11...Misdirection



 

Of course, the Wraith would notice eventually that their food was disappearing. But for now news of the city and the movements of the “lost” populations was never discussed in depth off world. But they listened. Most of the team mates were not assigned to missions on planets where they were well known.

If questions arose they simply said why, they must have moved to another planet – if the Wraith didn't get them. That was the only comment allowed, and really, this type of movement had existed in Pegasus for ten thousand years, so they got away with it. For now. But plans were made.



 

...12...Sister Athene



 

AR-1's next mission surprised everyone. Not one of their many immigrants or allies had ever heard of a sister city for Atlantis. The city was named Athene, and their people lorded it over the people in the villages around it. They used weapons – Alteran drones - to ensure they were supplied with the best goods and services the villagers could produce. In return for the villager's support, the lords and ladies of Athene used those same drones to protect the villagers from the Wraith.

It seemed strange that the lords and ladies had no idea of their own history or that of the city. They gave no indication that Athene was once a floating city or that it had ever been space-worthy. But what really irritated the Atlantians was that Athene's citizens were the most skeptical and haughty of all the people that eventually came to Atlantis.

The Athenians had soon discovered that there were no lords and ladies to socialize with on Atlantis – just bureaucrats, soldiers, and tradespeople. And when they watched the military and the militia during training, they lost their interest in opposing Atlantis militarily. So, they turned up their noses and departed, preferring their own city and it's pleasures.

...

Dr. Beckett had been allowed to visit the city and surrounding villages several times. He had quietly verified that many of the villagers and some of the lords of the city had a recessive ATA gene. It was cause for a real celebration on Atlantis because while most of the lords and ladies eventually did return home, quite a few villagers with a recessive ATA gene decided to stay and gladly allowed their recessive gene to be activated. Gene carriers were sorely needed.

...

John Sheppard was relieved to finally leave the sister city. As far as he was concerned Atlantis didn't need that kind of arrogant, feudal lords as allies. But the drones. Those were nice. Maybe they could trade for some, but he'd rather they weren't beholden to the inhabitants of Athene for anything.

He walked with Eldred back to the village as he contemplated a more palatable option for ally.

“Eldred, you give much of your harvest to the city for it's protection, you said.”

“Yes, Major.” He sighed heavily. “They were not happy with this season's offering, but we gave all we could.”

“Ah. Eldred have your people ever thought to go through the ring of the Ancestors to try your luck on another planet?”

Eldred seemed a bit embarrassed as he admitted, “Well, when I was younger. Some of my friends left to try their luck. I thought I might even join them. They said they'd return and tell us of their travels, if they found a place to settle. But... no one came back. I did always wonder what happened to them.”

“I'm sorry your friends didn't return. Have you ever heard stories of another city like Athene?”

“Well, there are always stories that get passed down. The lords severely punish those who spread tales. But we know what our city requires, and there is no assurance that our lives would be any better elsewhere.”

“Eldred, what if I told you I came from such a city. It's called Atlantis.”

Eldred stopped quickly. “You? Why did you leave?”

“Well, we often leave to travel for exploration, to make allies, to trade. That's why we came here. We didn't even know about your city. It was quite a surprise to us.”

“The lords of your city allow you to travel? Your trade, do you gather tribute for them?”

“No, no. We govern ourselves. We have actually gathered several groups of people on Atlantis since we began traveling. New citizens that help with the city.”

“You have found others to help? Who controls the lights that the Lord Protector sends to make you obey and pay tribute?”

“We pay no tribute, but we do share the work as well as other things. I mean, we're not rich but we're free. But there is something else I need to tell you. You remember when our Dr. Beckett came to your village?”

“Yes, and we are most grateful. There were several children he was able to make whole, and some of the elders were relieved of constant pain. We are all very grateful.”

John was glad to hear this, and knew that Carson would be happy, too. “I'll be sure to tell the doctor, Eldred. But when he examined you and the others he discovered something else. You understand that our bodies are made up of many smaller things? Well, one of these is called the ATA gene.”

Eldred looked worried as he interrupted. “Is this of concern?”

John smiled and shook his head. “No. It's a good thing. At least when it comes to the city. This small thing in some of us... and some of you... allow us to control the city functions, including the lights, which we call drones.”

Eldred looked astonished. “Us?”

John nodded. “Yes.”

Eldred turned wondering eyes to their city. “But how could this happen?”

John reached up to scratch his ear, and wondered how to continue. “Well... the lords of your city probably had... male or female friends in the villages around their city. They may have had children. If they did, and really, they must have, since some of your people have a recessive form of this ATA gene. Our Dr. Beckett has a vaccine that can activate the gene. I don't know how strong the gene would be, but anyone that has it would be very useful on Atlantis.”

Eldred was quiet. When he looked up at John he asked, “And for our city, too?”

John nodded.

“Stronger than the lords?”

John pondered this a moment. “The lords have little influence on their city any more. We could probably help them, too, with the vaccine.”

“There are many small villages that depend on the city for their protection from the Wraith.”

“I think some of your people could help the lords with that protection. And maybe some can visit Atlantis. Even those without the gene would be welcome.”

“There is much to consider.”

“Whatever you decide, I hope that you will visit. Our city is different in many ways from yours. I think, if your lords visit, they will be surprised.”

Eldred slowly smiled. “I think I would like to see that



 

...13...Planet Hoff



 

The wormhole formed and the Iris slid into place to guard it's entrance.

“Atlantis, this is Sheppard.”

Chuck said, “It's the IDC for AR-1.”

Halling stepped forward toward Chuck and said, “Open the Iris.”

Major Sheppard's voice came through sharply, “No need. And don't send anyone else to Hoff.”

Halling and Chuck shared glances. “What is the problem John?”

“We're not sure what happened here, but the village we entered, a city really, is... dead. Everyone is dead. And not by Wraith. There is no evidence of an attack, and they don't usually leave this many bodies behind.”

Halling looked horrified. “Then, how?”

“There were only a few people on the street. Most people died in their homes. They looked wasted away, but not prematurely aged. Our guess is that it's some disease. We left the village as soon as we could but we don't know if we were contaminated. If we're contagious we could bring it back to Atlantis. So far, we're fine. Look, get Beckett up there. Under no condition are you to let him come here, not even if we're dying. Understand? That's my standing order.

"We will need supplies though. We need you to send through a couple of tents and food. And we might call for more because if someone else comes through we'll have to keep them here, too. McKay says he may be able to temporarily block incoming and outgoing wormholes, but he may need special tools and crystals. Hopefully we can keep people from coming, and we don't dare let anyone carry this, whatever this is, to other planets. We're just hoping we're the first one to visit since it happened.”

“Major Sheppard, we will do as you ask. We'll dial back in one hour.”

“Thanks, Halling. I know you'll take care of Atlantis, but I need you to talk to Teyla about warning our allies, and you should seriously consider postponing all missions for a while, in case we weren't the first to go to Hoff. I'm sure Dr. Beckett will order the use of biohazard precautions. Make sure the teams follow them strictly. They should just deliver the message and advise everyone to guard their Gates and send travelers back home until we give the all-clear.”

Halling glanced at Chuck. “We will do as you say until you all return. I would like you to check in at sunrise and sunset, or if anything happens that we should know about, Major.”

“Will do, Halling.”

After they signed off, Chuck waited for Halling's orders but he was silent.

“Sir?”

Halling turned to Chuck. “I have heard stories about Hoff.”

“Yes, sir?”

“Call Teyla and Dr. Beckett. Teyla may be able to tell us something more about them.”

Teyla came quickly. She'd turned pale when informed about what the team had found on Hoff. “They have been looking for a way to poison their own bodies in a way that would kill a Wraith if one tried to feed.”

“Oh, dear Lord,” whispered Beckett.

“Oh, my God,” was echoed by Chuck.

“We can only hope it isn't the death of all of us. I will need to talk to Bates about gathering supplies, but before we open the Gate again, I need to talk to Dr. Zelenka, also. No matter what happens to our team, we may need to sabotage the Gate on Hoff so that no one can dial it again. If Dr. McKay can't block the dialing or doesn't have time to figure out a way to disable it we might need explosives to do the job... hopefully the team will be healthy, and we can wait until they leave. If not... let us hope they will be able to return to us.”

…

Beckett sent a small portable medical lab through to the team to process samples. They performed tests on themselves daily. After a month of worry and waiting, John contacted Atlantis with one of the daily updates.

“Doc, I did okay in biology class but using this equipment is a little intimidating. Of course, when I think about that class I really only remember dissecting a frog. But I guess that will come in handy for these latest instructions.”

“Major, I did include very simple instructions for the miniature lab. All you had to do, lad, was stick your finger in it and let it sample your blood. Even a high school biology course should have been more than adequate to accomplish that. If there were any wee nasties in your blood the computer would have sent a message through the Gate to be deciphered by Atlantis herself and me.” He could hear Sheppard sigh.

“About these latest instructions, Doc. Do you really want tissue samples from the dead, too?”

“Aye. It's been a month, and there's been nothing unusual in your samples, but I want you to use one of those hazmat suits, and don't ye dare short the decontamination procedures, laddie, or you'll have a stiff talking too when you return.”

“Okay, Doc. You're in charge.”

“Indeed I am. You just remember that. If the samples are clear that will tell me if the bodies themselves are safe now or if they could spread whatever killed them. I'd like to get you all home safely on Atlantis.”

“Even if that's so, Doc, we have no way of knowing if they left samples in labs. I think we still should disable the Gate here.”

Carson sighed, “Right you are. But I'd feel even better about it if I knew the bodies left were still contaminated or not. I hope they didn't create something that would take this long to deteriorate.”

“Okay, Carson. It shouldn't take too long. The Gate isn't far from the city.”

…

“Well, Doc? McKay has the device ready to lock the Gate. We'll set it up just as soon as you give the word for us to leave.”

“Aye. You have it. You can come home. We definitely missed all of you. You'll have to go through decontamination procedures, and a short quarantine will be in effect, just in case, so I can run samples here. But we'll see you soon after... and then... well, like I said, we'll be right glad to see ye' lads.”

...

Teyla smiled to see the long delayed team mates come through the Gate. She tried to not let it show that it upset her when the quarantine shield came instantly into place. It was Carson's orders for one more safety check, but it was still concerning. When the All-clear was heard she turned to Chuck. "Please release Major Sheppard's team."

Sheppard and the others headed to the stairs while spontaneous applause broke out around the Control Room. She grinned when Sheppard took a deep, sweeping bow, while McKay did his best to not look embarassed, but he did look pleased, as did the third team member, Dr. Parrish, who gave a quick wave.

Teyla had always been concerned when two thirds of the Command Staff were offworld at the same time. This time the length of the mission had to be extended far beyond normal, but at least they were finally home. "I am very pleased to see you all back on Atlantis, and healthy. As soon as Dr. Beckett releases you we'll have the debriefing. Please ask Carson to join us, will you?"

McKay smirked as he pointed at Parrish and joked, "Doctor, Doctor, and Doctor. Sheppard, you're odd man out."

"You say that now, but I've had a month to revise my thesis. I'll need to run it by my adviser – that would be you - and we'll set a date for me to defend it."

McKay's mouth dropped open. "You actually finished it?"

"Well, I did spend most of a month sitting and watching the Gate while you and Parrish pretended to do science stuff. What did you think I was doing? I was bored out of my mind."

Teyla was still smiling as they argued all the way down the hall to the infirmary and out of sight.

...

The debriefing was going well when Carson finally showed up. They had decided not to wait for him. They could get the boring parts done and see what Carson had to say about the tests and the samples when he finally arrived.

Everyone stopped talking when the door finally opened, and he came in. He didn't look happy. In fact, he looked a little sick.

Teyla glanced at the others present before speaking. "Dr. Beckett, please, come and sit with us. Is there something we need to know?"

Carson sighed deeply but sat as requested.

McKay looked very worried. "Carson, what is it? Tell me the tests don't say we're infected with the Hoffan disease!"

"Nay, laddie. You're fine. All of you are fine. And we're fine."

It was Sheppard that leaned forward and asked, "Okay, we're all fine. But you look sick. What did you learn? Was it the samples I took?"

"Aye. The results were more than I expected. There were cells from the various tissues that looked like bastardized Wraith blood cells. On a hunch I put a drop in a petrie dish with a bit of Wraith blood."

McKay leaned forward. "Well?"

"The Wraith blood cells turned black. They died almost instantly."

Parrish looked around the table at the confused faces. "Dr. Beckett. Did they do it? Did the Hoffans find a way to kill the Wraith?"

In his agitation, Sheppard stood up and stared at Beckett. "Did they?"

"Aye. But now, what do we do with it? It will kill us, too... at least, as it is."

McKay looked focused and he spoke softly, as if thinking out loud. "Maybe, it can be weaponized. It has to be made safe for humans, though. Maybe an aerosol delivery system. Or a gell. A drone filled with it might take out a hive, since it's a living structure."

Carson looked terrified, like his worst case scenario had been made real. "Biological warfare? Now, I know that ev'ryone wants the Wraith problem to end, but ye can't be thinking... oh, laddie, ye must know that it could only end at genocide. That is too horrible a thing. Ye can't be thinking it."

Teyla didn't look horrified. "Doctor, I remember the names of every person I knew that was taken by the Wraith. How many people have the Wraith killed since they were created? Now tell me how many more they will kill if they are allowed to live. The Ancestors made a horrible mistake when they created them. They weren't created to be a weapon, but that is what they became. You must think of them that way. They are a terrible weapon that must be destroyed. I would not think this if there was some way for them to live in peace with us, but there is not. It may horrify you, but it is the truth."

Sheppard placed his hands on the table as he leaned forward. "Carson, if you don't want to work on this, please say so. You're an extremely talented geneticist, and we could use your help. But if you can't, I'll assign it to someone else. If the Wraith ever manage to leave Pegasus, they could scatter too far, and we may never get a chance like this again. If they get to the Milky Way billions will die."

Carson's complection looked gray, and he was very still. "A weapon... to be used against a weapon. I do understand. I will assemble a team."

McKay looked worriedly at Carson. He was a good friend. He was a good man. "Carson, if you need me, or if there's anything I can do... I'm just a click away on those damn radios. But really, any time, day or night. Believe me, I don't say that to just anyone."

Carson humphed and managed a deep breath. "Thank ye, Rodney." He looked around the table. He muttered softly. "It's just that I swore an oath to do no harm." He sounded lost.

Sheppard nodded. "I understand duty; taking an oath. But if you can do this, then you'll be preventing the Wraith from doing harm. It's probably not much consolation, but that's the way I look at it."

McKay sighed. "I guess if you find an answer, then we'll have to deliver it."

Sheppard slowly sat in his chair. "We need a plan."



 

...14...Replicator Headache



 

Chuck was there when the MALP's video appeared onscreen. There was a breathtaking view of a very much larger, but Atlantis-like metropolis. He very quietly asked about what they were seeing, “Major Sheppard, are they Ancient's? Or is this another sister city?”

“Those are very good questions, Chuck.”

One of the people on the screen leaned forward slightly and said clearly, “I am speaking to whoever sent this machine to our home. If you intend us harm, proceed no further. But if you come in friendship, please know you are most welcome here.”*

Sheppard looked to Teyla and she just nodded. He turned back to the Gate. “An offer of friendship is always welcome. May we send a small delegation to speak to you?”

The men on the screen glanced at the one that seemed in charge. Then the younger man answered. “Yes. It will be allowed. We will wait by the Stargate to welcome them when you are ready.”

Sheppard nodded assent. “We'll dial back in a short time. Thank you.” And the Gate evaporated, and not as it usually did. “Hey, Chuck. Did we do that?”

“Uh, no. That would be them.”

“Hmm. Let's get a team together. Halling, Bates, and one of the scientists.”

...

Chuck felt kind of bad for Dr. McKay. He didn't have the best luck on away missions. But McKay had practically begged to be assigned to the team. If Sheppard hadn't been on light duty from a training accident, he'd have gone, too, but Beckett wouldn't bend.

If these people were Ancients it would have been okay... probably... maybe... who knows? But unfortunately Atlantis didn't learn the truth until the team returned. They were the first to run into the Pegasus version of Replicators. It would have been nice to know that before they sent the MALP to their planet and then a team on a meet-and-greet.

But then McKay had the bad luck to be separated from his team mates long enough to be taken prisoner by them for an unknown reason. Someone said that he probably said something offensive.

Sheppard looked truly annoyed. "Or maybe... they want our CSO, since he's brilliant. Or maybe they want someone that's had their ATA gene activated."

Teyla glared at McKay's detractor, the one named Kavanaugh.

...

The mood on the city continued to be tense and everyone hoped for a quick rescue attempt... but deciding on one that would work was critical. What they found in the database and in reports they'd brought from Stargate Command were uniformly discouraging. Mostly they learned they were nearly impossible to kill and frustrating to talk to.

At least their first message had been non-threatening. But it was very worrying that they hadn't received any other messages for more than six hours after Halling and Bates had been sent back without McKay. They had worked on several attempts to contact them again when a communication was received from McKay.

“Uh. Hey, everyone. I've been talking to the Replicators and they insist on speaking to the Alteran leader.”

Teyla looked confused. She glanced at Sheppard but he was equally confused. Teyla made a sign to cut the sound for a moment. “John. What does he mean? Is this a code or something? Does it mean anything other than the obvious?”

Sheppard shook his head. “I don't recognize anything like that. But Alteran leader... not a clue, unless he means our top person with the ATA gene.”

"Which would be you." Teyla sighed and gestured for the feed to open again. “Dr. McKay, do you mean a true Alteran?”

“That's what they insisted that I request. I told them there were no Alterans on Atlantis but they said I was lying. Can you believe it?” McKay's irritation was obvious.

Teyla sighed deeply. “Then you know that we cannot give them what they most want.”

“Do you think I haven't told them that? And sure, I've spent hours here trying to convince them of that, but no! They're not listening to me. Perhaps you could send the Major. He might have more luck with them.”

“Is there any other request, Dr. McKay? We would be interested in meeting if they wish.”

There was silence for several minutes, and everyone in the Gate Room was understandably nervous.

Rodney's attention went to the Replicators for a minute then he turned back and spoke again. “Well, they want to know how, or actually who is making Atlantis function, because obviously someone like myself is not a real Alteran but I could be distantly related. If we have citizens that can accomplish this... functionality, they would like to meet with them.” Rodney looked nervous because he knew that would mean a strong ATA gene carrier and Sheppard was the obvious choice. Not that the Major wouldn't insist on coming anyway.

Teyla looked at Sheppard. She could see he wasn't pleased but he signaled that he was willing to meet with them. She wondered if Rodney had failed to mention that his own gene could make Atlantis function, although not as fully as John's. Although it might not be a good idea for them to know that they don't have full control.

John spoke softly and simply asked, “Where? When?”

Teyla nodded. “It is possible to do that, Dr. McKay. Do they want to make arrangements now?”

…

Dr. Beckett wasn't happy about Sheppard going on a mission.

"Come on, Doc. Would you like to go? Maybe I could send Kusinagi."

Carson just threw up his hands. He wasn't a mission specialist, he was a doctor. And although Miko was a science-ninja, she didn't often go on missions either.

An hour later, Teyla wished Sheppard well as he passed through the Ring.

...

“Sheppard. It's about time. I've been here for hours. Did you forget where you left me?”

“Hey, there were two sides to negotiating time and place. Don't take it out on me.”

“Right. Uh, this is Oberoth, leader of the replicators. We've talked and he's against becoming an ally against the Wraith, although I understand that they intend to fight them on their own. Sometime. When they feel like it, I guess. I can't seem to get anything more definite out of them.”

“Really? They intend to fight the Wraith? Oberoth, can you explain...”

“No. We have our own plans.” He continued without giving Sheppard a chance to speak again. “We would like to know about the Alterans on Atlantis. When did they return?”

John shook his head. “There are no Alterans. Not on Atlantis. There are people with us that can control Atlantis. We've only recently discovered our ability to do this and we came from our world to investigate.”

“Then how is this possible?”

“Well, we, some of us, seem to be descendants of the Alterans. They came to our world to escape the Wraith. There weren't many Alterans left at that point and they felt they couldn't fight and win against them.”

“Descendants only?”

“Yes. Ten thousand years ago they came and have since died out.”

Niam asked, “Then you have no knowledge of them?”

“No. I'm sorry. We came here looking for answers, too.”

“Sheppard.”

John looked at Rodney. “What?”

“Well, Niam has been very helpful with historical information. He has a way to give you their history. Kind of like a download. You won't like it, but I think you ought to hear it.”

“Yeah? I guess you don't mean like O'Neill got.”

“No! It was like a movie with mental subtitles. It's quick and it would give you a background for the current... situation." Then he mumbled quickly as he rubbed his temples, "And probably a headache.”

John looked to Niam and back at McKay. “You really want me to let him put stuff in my mind?”

“Well, I wouldn't suggest it but I've already done it so I know it's okay. At least, I think it's okay. I'm okay, right? I'm not babbling crazy stuff am I?”

“No. No. Calm down. For a minute I thought maybe you were different, but you seem more normal now.”

“Oh, great... thank you!”

“It's okay, Rodney. Niam, can you do this for me, too? I mean, it won't be a problem for you to do it again so soon?”

Niam and Oberoth exchanged a quick glance.

Oberoth said, “You asked if it would be a problem for him. One of us.”

John shrugged. “Of course. McKay thinks I need to understand the historical perspective, and I certainly don't want to endanger Niam.”

Oberoth said, “That is unexpected. The Alterans would not have been concerned.”

John nodded, “Yeah. We've gotten that impression about them. Let's just say we were... disappointed in our ancestors.”

Oberoth nodded assent at Niam.

Niam reached out a hand toward Sheppard. “Just take my hand. I can show you what I showed McKay.”

A feeling of dislocation was the only adverse sense that John felt. He seemed to see history at a distance and condensed in time, with wordless explanations effortlessly absorbed. The Alterans created the Wraith and devastation soon followed. More and more desperate attempts to fight them, defeat them, were attempted and discarded as time passed until the replicators were made. But they were not the tools the Alterans needed. They were self-aware and their aggression toward Alterans made them less than perfect tools for the destruction of the Wraith. The Alterans learned their mistake and tried to destroy the replicators, devastating their world until all were thought destroyed. But the Alterans failed in that, too. Some small nanites were left to rebuild. And they did. They prospered until their world far exceeded the city/ships like Atlantis.

John Sheppard slowly blinked until his awareness was back with the here and now. He huffed and rubbed between his eyes. Oh, yeah. Headache. “The Alteran's history is as bad as we thought. It's certainly not something to be proud of.”

Oberoth agreed. “And yet, there are those,” as he glanced at Niam, “that wish to Ascend. But I'm not sure we can. We are not flesh and blood like the Alterans. I think... I believe... we are fooling ourselves. I think if we seek Ascension and fail, we might as well turn ourselves off like any other piece of machinery the Alterans created. I would not want to see us attempt this and fail. I think that would be the end of us."

Niam's face showed the beginnings of real dismay. He faced Oberoth. “You think we can never be more than we are!”

Sheppard muttered softly, “He wants to be a real boy.”*

Niam looked at him quizzically and then he slowly straightened, but Sheppard couldn't read the expression on his face. Was it was anger, defeat, or defiance? “You don't believe it's possible either.”

Sheppard turned to face both Oberoth and Niam, and tried to explain. “I didn't say that. It just reminded me of a line from a very old story. The story was never about a real person, but about all people. The meaning of the story may sound simple. People live, grow, learn, and hopefully your conscience grows with your life experiences. You'll make choices all through your life and hopefully they're choices you can live with, that make others proud of you. That's what makes you a real boy. A real man.”

“You mean, a human man. I don't mean to offend, but you speak of a human man. Not an Alteran.”

“Yes. I'm speaking about humans, but all creatures are born with basic needs and wants. They're always observing and learning, trying things out and sometimes failing. Sometimes someone else will try to interfere and try to choose a different kind of life for you.

"But you resisted interference from the Alterans. You insisted on following a path of your own choosing. I think when the Alterans saw that in you, it frightened them. When you fought to go your own way, they knew you'd never be what they wanted and needed.

“It takes time, but you'll find your own path, just as the Alterans did. The things you learn along the way will affect the direction of your life. Your path is your choice and you get there by baby steps, as we say, not in one giant leap. It isn't something all laid out for you.

“Look, I don't know what you can achieve, but from what I've seen, you've worked hard. The Alterans nearly destroyed you but you survived.”

Rodney interrupted with a question. “There's something I've been wondering about. What does Ascension mean to you and the other replicators?”

Niam and Oberoth glanced at the other. Niam finally answered, but he looked like he was unsure Oberoth would agree. “The Alterans sought Ascension for many thousands of years. They thought it would be the pinnacle of their evolution. And many did Ascend, although we don't know why some did, and others did not. We hoped you could provide insight into their efforts in the years since they left this galaxy. We hoped that if you could answer that question then perhaps we could apply it to ourselves. Then we could achieve it also.”

Rodney nodded as if he understood. “Do you feel less than them? Do you think if you are able to Ascend that you will finally be equal to them, to your creators? “

Niam appeared to agree with Rodney's latest question. “If they were able to Ascend, and they created us to be in their image, then we can achieve this, too.”

“And what would you have achieved, Niam?”

Niam looked confused. He glanced quickly to Oberoth but he seemed unsure, too. “We... we have worked hard. We live in a glorious city the Alterans never built. We...”

“Do you ever leave this world?”

“When we are in need of resources, yes.”

“Do you explore this galaxy?”

“Sometimes spatial anomalies are curious. We have sought them out to learn about such physical processes in the galaxy.”

“But not often, I would guess. Do you build ships like the Alterans?”

“Yes, of course. We can use the Gates of the Alterans but we prefer to use our own ships.”

John said. “It's odd that we've never seen any of your works in the galaxy.”

Niam appeared to become anxious. “We work. We live. We are curious.”

Rodney sighed. “What are you waiting for? You don't really have a plan to fight the Wraith, do you?”

Oberoth hesitated but then answered tersely, “No.”

Rodney spoke again. “The Alterans lived for millions of years, and they've produced marvelous, ingenious, beautiful things. But they've also done unspeakable things. They made the Wraith. They made you to fight the Wraith, and then tried to destroy you when you wanted to follow your own path. They finally fled this galaxy and left all its people to their fate at the hands of the Wraith or whatever evil might come after them. I have to wonder if they thought it might be... you.”

“NO.” Niam nearly shouted. Oberoth stiffened in shock.

John held both hands up in entreaty. “I know that isn't what you want. But I'm being honest with you when I say that being equal to an Alteran is not my life goal. I can't imagine Ascending and hanging out with them. How great could Ascension be if the Alterans are there? I'm pretty sure they've mucked that up like everything else.

“I admit they did some incredible things. They've left scientific and biological junk lying all around the galaxy. I admit some of it's useful, and some will kill you if you aren't careful. But what kind of legacy did they really leave? They couldn't even fix the mess they made. They decided it was just too hard, or too messy to bother with, so they packed up and went away to hide. Their legacy is cowardice. Their legacy is fear and devastation. They were so far gone they committed racial suicide.

“I think you can be better than the Alterans. You can live. You can do great things, too. You have some decisions to make. It will be hard, and if you're not sure what to do that's okay. Then just live. Experience what exists here. Learn about yourselves. Find out what makes you happy. Sad. Content. No one can tell you what to do, or how to be. That's all for you to decide. If you're brave enough.

“I don't think you're cowards. When you were so nearly wiped out by the Alterans, you didn't give up; the Alterans are the ones that did. You're stronger than you think.”

...

Chuck couldn't believe it when Sheppard and McKay came back though the Gate. Teyla actually lost her cool so bad he thought she might cry. He didn't know if it was just because they came back in one piece, or if it was what they had with them. Whatever. But he'd come to believe that if you have the right people you make your own luck... and they had been very, very lucky.

…

“Sheppard, do you think they'll be our ally some day?” McKay asked.

“I don't know.”

“Did they tell you what galaxy they picked?”

“No. I steered them away from the Asgard's Ida Galaxy and the Milky Way. And I warned them away from the Ori without telling them that they're megolomaniac-ascended-Alterans. That was after they finally agreed among themselves that they didn't want to stay in Pegasus.”

“You know, they were in our minds. They probably know about the Ori.”

“Good. Then they have a good example of how bad ascended Alterans can get.”

“Well, a fresh start might be good for them.”

“They'll find their own way. I think they learned something already... altruism.”

“Yeah, that was a nice parting gift.” And McKay bounced on his toes.

“Yeah, a full set of three-beautiful-zpms



 

...15...Stay or Go? John Has a Plan



 

Teyla looked worried as they sat at their usual places around the conference table.

John and Rodney shared a questioning glance and Rodney did a quick little shrug of his shoulders to indicate he didn't have a clue.

John looked around the table and saw only Tau'ri. He leaned back in his seat. Slouching always felt like the proper position when he didn't know what was coming. “Teyla, we haven't had a meeting with just us for months. What's up?”

Teyla nodded. “Yes. What is up... I have a serious question to ask all of you, and I did not want to do it in front of the Council. I think I know what you will say, but I want you to be able to speak freely.”

A low murmur circled the table.

“It is nothing wrong, or dangerous, but we have ZPMs now. And I have wondered why no one has mentioned going home. Your home. To Earth.”

Rodney leaned forward. He sounded surprised. “Our home isn't Earth. Do you think we came all this way just to turn around and go back? You see, we had to come with no expectations of ever returning.” He looked quickly around the room as if checking to make sure that everyone agreed with him. “I mean, they promised they'd try, but with Earth's ongoing wars we figured we'd be lucky if Earth survived, much less was actually able to build an intergalactic ship. And really, why would they send it so far, into unknown danger, when they have so many enemies in their own galaxy. If Atlantis found technology that could help them then we could send them the information. We wouldn't have to go back.”

Teyla was still unsure. “But now we have four full ZPMs. Do you want to send one to Earth?”

Sheppard leaned forward. “I have a plan. I've set up a meeting that hopefully will give us more options. You remember that beacon from an Alteran ship? I think we might be able to find a way to reach it. Rodney and I have talked. He said the Aurora-class ships needed a ZPM to function fully...”

Teyla began to smile. “You could take the ship to Earth...”

John glanced at Rodney and around the table. “We could fight the Wraith...”



 

...16...Cantina-ish



 

“Larrin, it's a pleasure to meet you.”

“You're Sheppard, then.”

“That's right. This is quite a gin joint.”

Larrin quirked a cheeky smile at him. “It's... homey.”

Sheppard grinned without mirth. “I hope it's as secure as you seem to think. We have a serious offer for you.”

“Sheppard, I'm always serious. I'm surprised you contacted us. The Travelers don't really concern themselves with planet dwellers like yourself.”

“How do you know I'm a planet dweller?”

“Everyone's a planet dweller unless they're Travelers... or a Wraith.”

“Hm. Well, we manage to get out once in a while. But I admit we only have a small ship or two.”

“I wouldn't let that get around. Wraith don't like any up-and-comers. They take offense at the very idea.”

“Thanks for the warning, but it is something we've heard before.”

“You said you had an offer.”

Sheppard looked around at the loud but not crowded bar clientele. “Are any of these people yours?”

Larrin grinned like the proverbial shark. “Guess.”

Sheppard nodded to the barkeep who quickly brought him a refill. After Sheppard took a sip, he grinned. “I'd say... all of them. Even the barkeep must be on your payroll.”

Larrin looked less than pleased. “How did you know?”

“I'm good at what I do. These two are mine. Teyla. McKay.”

When McKay started to say something, Sheppard glared at him and he nervously reached for his own drink and took a good swallow.

Larrin asked, “So you trust these two?”

“With my life.”

Larrin leaned back and reassessed them. “The offer.”

“Alright. We know where one of the ships of the Ancestors can be found.”

“Is that so? What use is that? We all know their equipment is useless to us.”

“Not to us.”

Larrin sat forward suddenly, banging the front legs of her chair on the floor. The bar patrons went dead silent. “You're lying.”

“I'm not. And I can prove it.”

Larrin's scowl said just how much she believed that. “Then prove it.”

McKay glanced at John then reached inside his tac vest for an LSD. He laid it on the table in front of John, who reached out and tapped it on. It lit up just as it was supposed to.

Larrin reached out to pick it up. It stayed lit and she flipped it over and over, noting the construction and the Alteran writing in the display.

“This could be a fluke.”

“Yes, it could be, but it isn't.”

“A parlor trick.”

“Nope, not that either. Do you really think we'd take you to such a ship if we thought we couldn't use it?”

“What would we get out of it? If it works.”

“You have a fleet of ships. Old ships. They break down. They need repairs.”

“And I'm supposed to trust you, that you can fix these ships for us.”

McKay stated, “I can fix them.”

Larrin looked interested... in McKay.

“McKay,” John resisted a sigh and continued, “is very good at what he does, but he also has minions that work with him. Together, they've done some pretty ingenious things. But we also have the right resources to make it possible. If we didn't, it would still be useless.”

Larrin turned over the LSD again before asking, “And these resources are also part of the offer?”

“Of course.”

“How many repairs?”

John grinned. “Larrin, it sounds as if we're negotiating.”

Larrin looked rueful. “There are particulars that need to be discussed.”

John turned to Teyla. “Your turn, Ms. Emmagan.”

Teyla nodded. “Thank you Major Sheppard.” She turned to Larrin. “How many of your ships can reach the edge of the galaxy? We do not want to get stranded, and it would not be good to linger where we are going.”

“At least three ships. They're not big and the accommodations aren't luxurious, but they'll get us there and back.”

It took a while but contingencies were considered, as well as the cost of their time, and the various other types of payment that were considered and accepted or rejected. But soon the particulars of the offer were decided to everyone's acceptance.

...

They met for the journey on that same planet. Their journey was as quick as an aging fleet could take them. To Sheppard's eyes the ships were barely serviceable but Larrin's people took care of them as carefully as if they were a great prize. And they were, because they kept their people alive and at least a step ahead of the Wraith.

The Aurora was an Ancient derelict but amazing all the same. The Ancestors had been incredible engineers. Even Larrin's people were impressed, and not much impressed people that had managed to stay out of the Wraith's sights for so long.

Unfortunately, the beacon that had sounded for so short a time had drawn the Wraith to it, and they had beaten them to the ship. All of the stasis pods contained bodies of the crew; all dead. They were drained of what little life had remained to them.

The Atlantians were devastated. Sheppard's people hadn't thought there would be Alterans still aboard a derelict, but they had made plans in case there were survivors. They had hoped to rescue them if they were in stasis. The ship's log told them only enough to know that the real prize was gone. Lost to those Wraith that had already boarded the ship and left. They learned what her assignment had been, and that it had been successful, but because the Wraith got there first the information was lost. The ship had carried a secret communique that was concealed in a secure location aboard the Aurora. The ship's log only stated that they had located the homeworld of the Wraith and that it had no Stargate. It's spatial coordinates were in the sealed message stolen by the Wraith.

That information could have been enough to end the war. Perhaps. If they could raise an army and a fleet of ships. But Sheppard desperately wanted to know. But someone, somewhere, knew this information once, ten thousand years ago. Sheppard could only use what information he had. It was all he had to go on: the Wraith homeworld had no Stargate.

...

Larrin's ships managed to tow the ship they all called Aurora to a planet with a Gate but no population. The Atlantians would assess the full damage there and fix what could be fixed. If they could get it to Atlantis they would have all the resources they'd need, but this planet was not Atlantis. It was only a rest stop for the great ship.

The bodies were taken to Atlantis and a memorial was held and a place of rest was fashioned. They were, at last, home.

...

Larrin was watching Sheppard but said nothing as they toured the Aurora one more time before getting underway.

Sheppard suddenly turned and asked, “Okay, just what is it you want to say.”

“Me? Well.” She sighed deeply. “I have a ship that we can't fix. And I was wondering if we could negotiate a price.”

Sheppard was a bit confused. “We've negotiated before. We've negotiated for repairs before. Why is this ship a problem? Do you think it's going to be beyond us, or perhaps too expensive to fix?”

“Well, both maybe. But actually we need the ship badly. We've got ships in our fleet with double the rated occupancy. We need this ship for our people, but we can't make it work... It needs an Atlantian.”

John slowly straightened as he realized what she was really saying. “An Alteran ship.”

“Yes. Aurora-class. Like this one.”

“How badly damaged is it?”

“Not as bad as the one we just salvaged for you.”

“That's amazing! Why did you wait to tell me about it?”

“Well, I had made a somewhat tentative plan after meeting you.”

“And...”

Larrin grinned broadly, “Well, it included kidnapping and I didn't think you'd care for that part so much.”

“Kidnapping. No. But allies?”

Larrin nodded. “You do know my people are good at what they do, as are yours. We live on our ships. We need the room for our people. Maybe we can't run the ship like you, but we're good mechanics, and you'll need a good crew. Your McKay might even admit that if he's in a good mood.”

“McKay in a good mood and willing to give compliments. That would be something to see. So, this ship would be very useful in the fight against Wraith hives.”

“From what I've seen of it. It is a warship.”

Sheppard looked worried about something, then he asked, “But your ships carry men, women, and children.”

“Yes. Of course, Sheppard. You know the Wraith hunt children, too. Isn't it them that we fight for? Some of our best people come as family groups. They insist on staying together.”

“You know we'd make a place for the kids when a ship goes on patrol.”

Larrin tilted her head as she studied Sheppard. “But not our people. Do we have a deal?”

“Hmm. Come back to Atlantis with me. I'd like to talk to a few of my people first. But, a second Alteran ship is very tempting. But don't forget what I offered, Larrin, deal or no deal. And you can change your mind any time.”

Larrin nodded once. “Dealing with you, Sheppard, is always interesting.”

...

Teyla greeted everyone as they arrived for the morning briefing. As she waited she sipped her very hot tea carefully. When all were seated the meeting could begin. The last to arrive were Major Sheppard and Larrin, of the Travelers.

“Major Sheppard, have you discussed our proposal with Larrin?”

“Yes. I think we can come to an equitable agreement about this second ship.”

Teyla smiled knowingly. To Larrin she asked, “We both wish to make a profitable deal, yes?”

Larrin looked uncomfortable. “This, proposal. It isn't an allotment of grain or refined ore or simple repairs. This is a dangerous game you want to play.”

Sheppard said, “We know what we're asking. You need to tell us if you can do this safely. We don't want your people risking their lives and their ships for nothing. But you can go where there aren't any Rings of the Ancestors. And whatever information you find we can put to good use.”

Larrin shook her head, but she also grinned. “My people will consider it a challenge. And spying on the Wraith won't bother their sensibilities.” She turned serious then. “You and those that you've gathered here in Atlantis have stirred the hearts and minds of everyone that knows of you. Killing the Wraith, or even just standing up to them, is something that hasn't been seriously attempted in a very long time. They're thinking that maybe we should have been fighting them all along. We just didn't know that it would do any good in the long run except to draw their attention and vengeance.”

“Then we are in agreement?”

“Yes, Teyla. Sheppard. We have an agreement.”



 

...17...Recycling and a Charging Station



 

“Sheppard. Sheppard! What? Do you have your mic off? I've been trying to contact you all morning.”

“McKay, we just finished morning briefing. Bates covers for me in the Control Room during that time. Besides, it's early yet.”

“Huh, maybe for you. I've already been up long enough to do a day's work. But never mind that. Is Teyla still in the conference room?”

“Yeah. Do you want to go meet with her, too.”

“That would save time. Let's go before she gets away.”

Sheppard grinned. “What, do you think she'd run and hide? Teyla?”

“Hmph. Teyla doesn't run and hide without good reason... like Wraith. And then she'd probably run toward them.”

“Oh, yeah, even if she only had her sticks to fight them with.”

…

“Rodney. I am sorry you missed the briefing this morning, but I thought you said you were working on something that was very important.”

“Oh, I was. I finished. Well, with Zelenka's help.”

“Very good. I did want to ask about the Aurora and how the repairs were proceeding.”

“We're hoping to be finished in six months unless we run into something unforeseen. I didn't tell anyone?”

Both shook their heads.

“Well, it's going as planned so far. And I wanted to talk to you about the artifact on Doranda, the Arcturus Project.”

“What can you tell us?”

“Well, Larrin was able to get a team there for a preliminary study. I've been going over the data they sent back and I think it may be too much for us to take on. I think the concept may be way over our heads. Well, a longer study will tell us more, but I've been looking at Zelenka's assessment and I really hate to agree with him on that. BUT... there's something else. They must have used an incredible amount of power to build this device. One of the things I had Dr. Collins looking for was a charging station. For ZedPMs. And he found it! It's still intact.

Sheppard slid up straight in his chair. “Are you kidding?”

Teyla grinned, like she probably hadn't since she was a girl. “Did the survey team find this?”

“Yes. Dr. Collins was testing an area that wasn't badly damaged, and the vibrations almost got out of hand, so he shut it down immediately. That alone should tell us how unstable the facility is. Even if we never use the device the raw materials that we can recycle would keep us supplied for decades. ”

“Do you want to examine Doranda yourself, Rodney?”

Rodney looked eager for a moment. “Yeah... but no. I think the damage out there makes it too dangerous. The planet was slagged. It's obvious that even the Alterans couldn't handle their own creation... so maybe it would be best to take what we can for our own use and leave the rest for now. And the charging station is definitely something we can use. We have our two ZedPMs that are at almost total entropy to experiment with, but with two Aurora-class warships we'll need those to fuel them. I would like to go and study the charging station though. I'm sure the data will be useful. It could help me to eventually figure out how they created a ZedPM.”



 

...18...Testing Defenses



 

The Gate dialed, and Chuck announced, “Beta site unscheduled activation.”

Teyla had been conferring with Halling and Dr. Parish about the new supply of grain they expected from one of their allied worlds. Teyla and Halling headed directly for the Control Room and Dr. Parish held back to watch, not just curious, but any unplanned dial in could be cause for worry.

“Have you received a message?”

Chuck didn't take his eyes off his board. “They say they have been attacked. They have to evacuate.”

“Did they give the code?”

“Yes, mam: There are pine trees here, just like in Canada

“Then open the Iris, call Major Sheppard to the Control Room, and send out an all call. Sergeant Markham is not known to exaggerate a situation.”

Teyla walked to the railing to observe. She was glad the scientists had erected a clear energy shield around the Control Room after there had been a couple of close calls from missions that had gone awry.

She spoke to the Gate Guards. “Gentlemen, stay behind your shields, the team on the Beta site may be coming in hot...”

Teyla was about to say more but multiple shots came through the Gate. “Chuck, there are six team members there, as soon as they're through be ready to close the Iris.”

“Yes, mam.”

“Teyla, what's the situation?” Major Sheppard asked as he ran in to the Control Room from the Jumper Bay.

Then the team from the Beta site ran, limped, and two were carried over the shoulders of other team members as they cleared the Gate. The Iris closed and the wild shots that had left scorch marks around the area stopped. After that more shots hit the Iris and dissipated. The wormhole dissipated and the guards around the room relaxed.

“Stand down, gentlemen,” ordered Sheppard. “Chuck, get a couple of med teams up here. Markham, can you tell me what happened?”

Markham straightened after helping lower one of the injured men to the floor.

“Sir. I think we've lost the Beta site. Wraith darts, ten of them came through the Gate. We weren't expecting any of our own teams so we did expect trouble when the Gate activated, but not ten darts. We got four of them, but I figured right away that we wouldn't be able to use the site again. Since we were going to lose it anyway, and with most of us wounded it was my decision to evacuate, Sir.” Markham looked like he was in pain but he still looked afraid he made the wrong choice.

Sheppard sighed, “You were right. Beta site is gone. That's a pain in the neck. Well, we'll just have to select a new one, and notify our allies to halt visits until we've got it set up. Do you have any idea who could have sent the Wraith, or why? Or did they not stop to talk at all?”

“Huh. There was no talking, Sir. But we have had several of our allies through the Gate delivering trade goods in the past week. I'm sorry to say we lost that delivery of nearly-coffee. I'd really rather I didn't have to deliver the news to the geeks, Sir.”

“And I thought you were a brave man, Markham.” Sheppard glanced around at the arrival of the med teams. “Take care of your team. We'll do a full debrief in two hours if that's alright with you and Teyla?”

Teyla looked quietly furious. “Yes, John. I have the list of the trade deliveries that were scheduled there. Maybe some discreet questioning of these allies will reveal the traitor.”

Sheppard's eyes were hard. “And the ally responsible will answer to me. But I'm more worried about the fact that the Wraith chose to come after us. Sending ten darts to a small outpost like that tells me they were expecting resistance. They may have been trying to check out our defenses.”

“John, do you think they will attack here? It really doesn't matter how many Alpha or Beta sites we establish, they always knew where Atlantis is located. It wouldn't be difficult for their ships to come here.”

“I think we need to have a council meeting and seriously consider moving the city to another planet. The Alpha and Beta sites were more for an emergency evacuation or trade destination sites since the Wraith know exactly where home base is for us. I know that McKay and the other scientists have been spending spare moments on the Star Drive but I think it should become our top priority. The Wraith do know we're here. They made an attack that we managed to repulse, but we can't count on them staying away. They could come and investigate at any time.”

It was Teyla's turn to sigh. “We have long-range scanners that we did not have before the newest ZPMs were installed. We will keep watch. But we will also plan. I think the council will approve a dedicated approach to repairing the Star Drive. Both Aurora-class ships still need a lot of work. Months, we were told. We also need to ask Rodney for a detailed timeline for each of the repairs.”

John added, “And perhaps we can ask Larrin to stick close for a while.”



 

...19...Warning: Space Vampires



 

The Atlantis Council was for local issues on the planet Lantia, but the Council of Allies had been growing into a fine governing body that Teyla was quite proud of. The day the Council meeting was convened, the meeting ran late into the night. They finally decided to reconvene the next day and accommodations were provided for all of the attendees from the off-world allied populations.

One item of business today concerned the traitor involved in the Beta site attack. He was found when, Eldred, a representative of their sister city, Athene, became suspicious when he discovered that one of the lesser lords had fled their city under hasty, ambiguous circumstances. Eldred learned that he had fled to Manara, who were the same people that had betrayed Atlantis to the Genii. A council vote to further sanction the planet's population was passed without objection. They couldn't enforce unaligned planets to follow their decision but as more and more planets refused to trade with them and their allies, then their situation would become more dire. And as conditions worsened it was hoped that their people would choose their leaders more wisely.

As long as Atlantians and their allies knew not to trust them, that would have to suffice for now. They had other concerns.

During the second day of this marathon meeting, Dr. McKay asked to speak.

Sheppard was surprised, and so was Teyla. They both knew that politics was not something Rodney cared to be involved with even though he tried to come to every meeting. But they knew they should hear out any concerns, especially from the Chief Science Officer.

Rodney chose to stand. He cleared his throat and began. “I have a request. I think it's something we should have considered before but better late than never. I hope.

"My request is to send a warning to Earth. I've been thinking about this for a while. Actually ever since Col. Sumner died. It's because of his encounter with the Wraith Queen, the Keeper, that the Wraith know about Earth. We know they call it the new feeding ground, which I think is a little premature, but that's reason enough to warn them.

"We have a lot of information on the Wraith that could help them if they're attacked. Most of the Tau'ri have family there, or at least friends and colleagues. The people at Stargate Command will do all they can to protect the planet, but they don't even know that Wraith suck the life force out of people with their hand. I can only hope that they'll believe it if we send video of them in action.

“If the Wraith somehow manage to take Atlantis away from us, this enemy will only be a Gate away from Earth. We've made plans to prevent that from happening, but the Wraith are intelligent, and they're devious. What if they defeat our procedures? Or what if they develop a hyperspace drive of their own?

“We have a few Satedans that settled on the city. Ronon Dex was even a runner for years, for sport, for the Wraith. I remember when he asked to visit his homeworld. I went on that mission, and we brought back a lot of videos of the ruins of the planet Sateda which we made available to you. Earth is more heavily populated than Sateda ever was. The death and destruction the Wraith would cause on Earth would be many times worse there.

“All I'm asking is, since we have the power now, that we give them fair warning.”

Sheppard and Teyla shared a glance.

Teyla looked to each of the main delegates, then back to John. “Major Sheppard. Do you wish to comment?”

“I'm glad McKay proposed this. But I want to add that I don't think we should expect help from them. The Replicators want to destroy them, the Goa'uld want to enslave them, and the Ori want to be worshiped by them. As for the Lucian Alliance, they're just greedy and power hungry. The main reason we tried to find Atlantis was that Earth wasn't doing well.

“I think we might be in trouble in the future if they lose any of those wars because some people on Earth do know about Pegasus. We don't need any of their enemies to come here. And if they're doing well, I'd hate for the Tau'ri to come to Pegasus to search for us and find the Wraith by accident. Warning them to stay away might at least keep the Wraith from following them home.

“I think a warning is the least we can do. But I know that many of our people have some family there, so maybe we could send personal messages along with the warning. In fact, I think they would take our message more seriously. And McKay's people have discovered a number of scientific advances that could help them in their own situations. McKay, how much can we send them? Remember, we don't want to leave the Gate open any longer than we have to. I'd hate for the Wraith to notice the power surge needed to reach an address in the Milky Way.”

Rodney looked hopeful. “I have a compression program I've been working on. It will easily hold everything, and also the messages.”

"I'm glad we won't need to open the Gate fully. We may need the energy to move the city. Shields eat up the power. If we encounter one or more hives in space we could end up draining one or more of the ZPMs, and we still don't know how to make more of them.”

“In the coming weeks we need to talk about where we're going to land Atlantis, too. I don't think we should share that information with Earth.”

Rodney grimaced but looked to Teyla to ask, “But we're definitely going to send the warning?”

Teyla looked slowly around the Council table and asked, “Does anyone disagree?”

Rodney looked around quickly, obviously looking for dissent but all he heard were murmurs of assent.

Teyla nodded and smiled. “Good. I am pleased. Now I think we should take time to rest and have a warm meal together. We can gather for a short meeting tonight, but I think we will carry on in small groups tomorrow to discuss other matters.

“Dr. McKay, would you have the Tau'ri prepare any messages they wish to send? And have your staff gather information they think will be useful. Can it be ready to send at the end of the council session tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow? Well, yes. Yes, of course. I'll get right on it.”

…

Sheppard and Teyla as well as Rodney spoke with the attendees as they left the session that day, then Rodney excused himself to get the information and messages gathered and encrypted.

After everyone left, Sheppard turned to Teyla. “I was wondering what you're up to carrying this over for a third day. Usually you'd just schedule another session. Decisions on the other questions will take a lot of discussion. I doubt we'll get everything settled in just one more day.”

Teyla was calm as always. “I am not up to anything, John. But I do have concerns about Earth. Their politics and their many governments worry me somewhat.”

Now Sheppard looked worried.

“No, John. You need not worry. It is simply that I want to send the message while the delegates are here. I want us all gathered in the Control Room when we open the Gate. I want them, on Earth, to really see that we are an allied people; many planets, and one government. That we speak as one. And that we do this, that we give this information freely, as a gesture of friendship. Do you understand?”

Sheppard grinned. “I see you've thought about this a lot. Those are all good points. You know, you're pretty good at this.”

"I had a good teacher."

…

The council session was over for now. More decisions would have to be made in the course of the weeks leading up to Moving Day. The repairs on the Star Drive were on schedule. They needed to move before the long-range scanners gave them the news they expected.

The delegates filed out behind Teyla, Sheppard, and McKay, and joined Chuck in the Control Room. It was crowded but everyone felt relief that plans were on course and this warning to be sent to people they would probably never meet was accepted as a morally correct action; and they were well aware that it could benefit them in the long run. No one wanted the increase in Wraith population that would result if they found this new feeding ground.

Teyla gestured for Sheppard and McKay to step forward close to her. “Chuck, are you ready to record my statement?”

“Yes, ma'am. Anytime, and I can edit it if you want.”

“Thank you.”



 

...20...Teyla Emmagan of Atlantis



 

Teyla stepped forward slightly. “Stargate Command, I am Teyla Emmagan of Atlantis. We have a message for you from the Council of Allies of the Pegasus Galaxy. You may recognize several of the people in the Gate Room today as members of your Expedition. These two beside me are Major John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay. As you can see, there are others that have joined us for this message. They are delegates from the Council of Allied Planets. This message also contains encrypted reports and personal messages from your Expedition, but there is something important that we need to tell you today.

“Around me are delegates from many worlds. We allies came together to fight a great enemy. This enemy is known as the Wraith.

“We have survived ten thousand years of war. We understand from your Expedition that you know nothing of the Wraith, so we have included as much information as we can. They are predators that live on the life force of human beings. They have hunted many planets to extinction during those thousands of years. When your Expedition arrived, it's members fought alongside us. Indeed, we had almost forgotten that we could fight back and not just survive. They gave us hope that we might yet prevail.

“We may have to leave this planet if they come in force. But we will defend Atlantis, with all we have. We will fight, until we can fight no more. But if we fail... we must not fail, but if we do, at least we have given warning of what you may face.

“We know you have enemies of your own and counsel you to wait until you have recovered your forces before attempting to contact us. Contact would be welcome; as would a new ally. Believe us that it is for your safety that we direct you to wait. Wraith technology is advanced. At this time, they have interplanetary travel but not intergalactic. But they do know of Earth. That information came from the physical and telepathic torture of your Colonel Sumner. Several other Expedition members have died already in the struggle but the others have joined with the citizens of this galaxy. They voluntarily joined us in our fight.

“I truly hope some day that we can meet as friends and not just as allies in a fight against a formidable enemy.”



 

Teyla turned and nodded to Chuck. “You may dial Earth and send the information packet.”

The seven symbols lit in sequence around the Ring and it still had not yet connected. None of those from off world had ever seen a Ring use eight symbols for an address and there were soft murmurs of surprise as the last symbol lit. It seemed to impress upon the allies the great distance these Earth Tau'ri were from Atlantis. Then the Ring locked and settled into the blue they were all familiar with...

…

The End



 

*Season 3, Episode 5: Progeny

Niam's message to Atlantis via the MALP.

“I am speaking to whoever sent this machine to our home. If you intend us harm, proceed no further. But if you come in friendship, please know you are most welcome here.”



 

*the story: Pinocchio

“He wants to be a real boy.”



 

*Season 2, Episode 9: Aurora

“Well, given that it's at the edge of the Pegasus galaxy, let me see ... carry the four ... Forty-two million years. Should we go wait on the porch?”