fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: Colonel Sheppard didn't call many people “friend”, not out
loud, but everyone knew where they stood with John.
Beta: Thanks so much Annie. It's great to have someone give it a read.
I've caught so many goofs myself in various stories, things that were
obvious but somehow had become invisible to my eye. Any errors left are
Warning: Death fic (nothing graphic). AU.
Spoiler: The various characters that show up might seem inappropriate
for canon, but it's intended.
Series: Stargate Atlantis
Characters: John Sheppard, Atlantis, many others.
Category: Drama, Angst
Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate:
Atlantis belong to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions,
and Gekko Film Corporation. All other publicly recognizable characters,
settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The
original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author
is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of
Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis or any other media franchise. No
copyright infringement is intended.
This story was written by linda.ljc with the love of the show in mind.
John didn't tend to wake slowly, but today was different. Everything
was limned in that hazy glaze of sunlight that made everything seem out
of phase; or maybe like life was in slow motion. He tried a deep breath
and he wasn't sure what tipped him off that maybe everything wasn't
just a lazy hazy day. It might have been the slightly smoky smell or
the wind whispering through trees that Atlantis didn't have, but it was
probably the knife sharp pain in his abdomen. When he finally tried to
straighten from the pain he noticed the dried blood from a head wound
that was keeping one eye closed.
He worked that eye open and got a good look at the Jumper he was in. No
wonder he could hear the wind. There was a vertical tear near the back
ramp. That ramp would never close again.
John's heart rate kicked into high gear. He tried to sit upright but it
was a slow process. He was terribly nauseous and very thirsty. He found
the water dispenser and took only a mouthful. He really didn't want to
vomit with this pain in his belly. He could tell he needed medical
care, and soon. This wasn't pain that he should just work through. He
needed to get to the infirmary on Atlantis.
Atlantis. The Wraith! That was the “why”. The attack had been
devastating. There were more hives than they'd ever seen in one place.
He was in one of the last Jumpers left flying and there'd been massive
damage to the piers. The central part of the city had still had a
shield but power problems were proliferating. They'd held off
evacuating because the Daedalus was in contact, and a Wraith hive was
already heading toward it. If it could reach them, maybe they could
back each other up. He had to get back.
He turned to gaze at the vertical tear and swore under his breath.
Maybe it would fly in atmosphere.
Maybe it wouldn't fly at all. He worked for hours trying to jury-rig a
fix, getting more desperate as the sun tracked across the sky. He'd
almost given up when he managed to get the HUD to connect with him. It
was able to reroute power, what there was of it, but not shields or
defensive weapons or inertial dampeners, or anything else. But it would
fly, which was kind of crazy, because it was the least aerodynamic
creation he'd ever seen.
John thought maybe he wouldn't tease Rodney about not being able to fly
in a straight line, because John wasn't doing so well today. He hoped
Rodney was still alive to commiserate with about flying a Jumper that
couldn't tell you what was up and what was down. He knew Rodney could
appreciate the problem. If he was still alive. Be alive Rodney.
Atlantis was devastated during the last Wraith attack. It should have
sunk beneath the waves. The Expedition members had fought desperately,
and in the end even the self-destruct had failed them. There were no
drones left to fight with, there wasn't enough power for the shield,
and Wraith invaded the city. They'd seen John go down. When his signal
was lost, so perhaps, was Atlantis.
John had been piloting the last surviving Jumper. He'd crashed on the
mainland sustaining severe injuries and was presumed dead. He had
fought through the pain but it had taken several frantic hours to
repair the Jumper enough just to fly to where Atlantis rested. The
fight, and the war, was already over when he finally made it back.
There wasn't much left to scavenge on Atlantis, but he tried, the
Jumper simply couldn't be coaxed to move again.
Atlantis barely rode above the waves with its battered and scorched
facade. The reason it was still afloat was probably because the north
and south piers had sheared off instead of pulling the city down. John
fought his way inside through the debris. There were few bodies left to
be found, and most of those were Wraith-withered husks. He really
didn't want to see their faces. Mourning had to come later. If there
was a later.
John knew he had to find the Chair Room. Being the center of Atlantis'
defense it was the most structurally sound, but he was still surprised
that it had survived. There were scorch marks and debris outside in the
hall, but inside it looked untouched, like the Wraith hadn't found it.
He wondered for a moment how Atlantis had protected it, but his own
nearly impossible task was before him. He also knew his time was short.
His injuries were infected, and the infirmary was a lost cause.
He'd seen Rodney tinker with enough Ancient devices to give him a clue
where to begin. He was able to switch out crystals until something lit
up, but the ZPM was so close to entropy that the Chair only flickered.
Unfortunately there were things John desperately had to know, so he
gave it a try.
Did the Daedalus survive? Debris now littered the system of Lantea.
There weren't any pieces large enough to hold a survivor, so when no
light signs were detected, not human or Wraith, he gave up on that
search. There was enough debris to account for the Earth ship, but he
wasn't giving up hope yet.
Had the Expedition managed to evacuate at least some of them through
the Gate? If some had escaped this destruction he had to believe that
there was still hope for Pegasus and Earth. He poured over the details
of the battle's last moments. He found what he needed to know and it
was overwhelming. Some of Caldwell's people had beamed to the city
before the ship was destroyed, but the Wraith kept a wormhole open
during their attack. Atlantis' had blocked an incursion through the
incoming wormhole with the iris, but it had kept any survivors from
Atlantis showed him their last moments. Rodney's last efforts were
there for him to see. The self-destruct was set, and when it failed,
there were explosions in the Gate Room. That was probably Cadman's
work. Rodney had set a virus loose that he had developed “just in
case”. It sought out all references to Earth and the Milky Way and
burned them from Atlantis' memory. During the last moments the crystal
that made travel to Earth possible was removed. John could only hope
that Rodney, or someone, had been able to destroy it. And now, what was
left, was what he could see. So, no one escaped, no one survived,
Now he knew there wasn't any hope. There was really nothing else he
could do. There was no foe here left to fight. There was no one left to
stand with. Where could he go? How would he get there? He couldn't even
get out a message to warn Earth.
"To sleep, perchance to dream.."
His radio beeped a signal. “Sheppard here.”
Elizabeth answered. “John, are you just coming back from your walk?”
“Jog, Elizabeth. Jog.”
“Oh, excuse me. Is that what you call it these days?”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. Ronon will make sure I'm running soon. Do you need
“Just meet me for lunch?”
“Well, I have some paperwork that probably has to have been done
yesterday, but … you talked me into it.”
“Good. Maybe Sam and Mr. Woolsey can join us today.”
“That's good. But not Everett?”
“Not Everett, John. He's not here, not today.”
“I'll call McKay and see if he's busy.”
“Rodney's always busy, but please try to tear him away from his lab for
a while. For today, whatever he's working on can wait.”
When he reached the lab he stopped just inside the door. He watched his
long-time teammate, Rodney McKay, bicker with Radek. It sounded like he
was just in time to prevent their academic squabble from coming to
blows. He'd bet on Rodney if it came to that. “Haven't you two figured
that out yet?”
“Of course I have.”
Radek got right up to Rodney and spluttered, “Except for that little
fraction of the speed of light, you mean.”
“Open your eyes! It's accounted for it in this inverse ...”
Sheppard tilted his head as he perused the whiteboard and it's
hieroglyphic equations and added, “You're sure that will take care of
the whole deviation?”
Rodney whipped around, “Yes, I'm sure.” He crossed his arms and tapped
John laughed. “You look like my old grandmother, Rodney.”
Rodney squawked his displeasure.
“Now you really do. Come on. It's lunch time.” John thought he might
have overdone the comparison a bit so he smiled and added, “You'd have
liked Grams. She was great.”
Rodney's pique ebbed a bit and he reluctantly closed his laptop. “No
“I'll save you from the tava beans.”
“Good. Because I hate tava beans.”
“I know.” John just rolled his eyes and thought, Everyone knows.
They chatted as they walked to the door. John turned and asked, “Aren't
you coming Radek? Miko, I'd love to have you and Simpson join us, too.”
They nodded to each other, smiled, and turned away from their computers
as if they had suddenly become radioactive. They all chatted happily as
they headed to the mess hall.
As they reached the mess hall door, John heard light footsteps that
seemed to hurry toward him.
“Colonel Sheppard. Could I have a minute?”
“Doctor Keller. Is there something I can do for you?”
“Well, I was just wondering if the traveling clinic will be rescheduled
for next week. If we get too far off schedule we'll have to work out
something for the timing of vaccinations.”
John hadn't noticed Carson until the doctor chimed in with a word of
Carson said, “If it isn't possible I could send out a couple of our
Physician Assistants. They can let us know if anything urgent has
presented itself, and they can handle the vaccinations easily, but
they'll need military escorts.”
John thought for a moment. “We'll discuss it in tomorrow's briefing,
but it sounds like a good option if you both agree.”
Keller nodded when Carson smiled his agreement.
Carson glanced aside and noticed another arrival. “Well, here's Dr.
Biro as well. We might as well have lunch since we're here. It looks
like there's going to be quite a crowd, John.”
Evan Lorne had just left the transporter for the mess hall with Parish.
They were talking animatedly about something. They seemed as odd a pair
as John and Rodney, yet they'd become close. Lorne gave John a friendly
nod as they passed through the door to the mess. Lorne said, “I hear
it's going to be something special today.”
A sudden lurch from Atlantis had John's immediate attention. “McKay.
What was that?”
There was a catch in John's breath as he glanced around. It felt a
little like the disorientation he felt when he stepped out on a new
planet, not knowing what to expect. He'd get one glance to gather in
his surroundings like a movie stop-action scene. That one glance had to
tell him everything. But here, everyone around him had stopped moving
with that lurch … and then everything started again like nothing had
“Rodney. Tell me what happened!”
And Rodney McKay, who could turn on a dime from confident to panicked
looked so serene that it only added to the surreal moment.
“It was nothing, John. If you're worried I can put Kavanagh on it. He's
on duty now.”
“It's really nothing for you to worry about. You'll see. Even Kavanagh
can handle it.”
“Well … alright … if you're sure.” John believed Rodney. He did. It was
just that it felt wrong in some way that he couldn't define. Everyone
must have just been surprised like he was.
Just at that moment Elizabeth came through the mess hall door and
spotted John. “There you are. We've been waiting for you.” With a
glance at Rodney she added, “Hurry up before the tava beans are all
John knew the last bit was to tease McKay.
“John's having mine. Come on Sheppard. I hope you're hungry. And
everything is fine. Everyone's here or on their way.”
Suddenly Lieutenant Ford came jogging up the hallway yelling, “Hey!
Wait for me.” He had just reached the transporter entrance as the door
slid open again.
As Ronon stepped out he clapped the young man on the shoulder, knocking
him forward another step. “Hey, Ford. Good to see you.” Then he turned
back toward the transporter as he said, “Sheppard. Look who came back
early.” Coming through the door were Teyla and Torren with Halling and
Teyla smiled around Torren's waving hand. “We would not miss this,
John. Have you seen Keras yet? He's back for a visit, too.”
“I haven't seen him yet, but I'm glad all of you could make it.”
John walked slowly to the table surrounded by his teammates. He relaxed
even more as he greeted more Expedition members that were already
seated. Bates. Markham. Griffin. Doctors Grodin. Gaul, and Abrams.
John turned to Rodney and said, “I think it's going to be a full house
“Good day to you, Colonel Sheppard.”
John was amazed. “Captain Helia.”
Helia glanced at some of the crew that had accompanied her. “We were
told that we should come today, that it was … something special.”
“I'm glad you … and some of your crew could be here. This was your
home. We want you to always feel welcome.”
When he looked again the table seemed to have lengthened and almost
disappeared in the distance with more old friends coming to join them,
greeting him with, “John,” “Colonel,” “Sheppard,” “Good morning, Sir,”.
All his Lantean friends, military and civilian, from Earth, from Athos
and elsewhere in Pegasus, were there to have lunch with him. Friendly
chatter filled the air as he looked about him. It felt like old times.
Like home should feel.
He sat down to a tray already filled with some of his favorite things.
It had been a while since his last turkey sandwich. The
supplies the Daedalus brought were really appreciated by those that
longed for simple reminders of Earth. In among those offerings were
Pegasus items like the tava beans and fresh fruit. Everyone had trays
filled with their favorites, too. Favorite things. Old friends.
Wait. There was something he was forgetting about Ford, wasn't there?
Something from long ago. He couldn't seem to remember. Oh well, maybe
Sumner would know. He'd have to ask him when he saw him again.
Another lurch, smaller than the first. No one seemed to notice this
time except John. Well, Rodney had, and he once again said not to
worry, but as he looked around, the scene seemed surreal. Perhaps déjà
vu described it. Everything was as it once was, but wasn't. Did that
even make sense?
“Everything is fine, John. See, Kavanagh has already made progress.
Remember, we're all here for you. We just want you to enjoy yourself.”
John looked around, at all the smiling faces turned to him. John could
only smile back. This was a good day. The day was one he would remember
always. The best. But even so, there was an unease he didn't want to
acknowledge, perhaps because he knew there would be an end, because
there always was.
He was sorry when the end came. When the walls of the mess slowly faded
to gray. When details dropped away. When conversations became an
indistinct murmur. And then the floor seemed suddenly insubstantial
leaving him with the floaty feeling he got from the really good drugs.
He tried to hold on to his memories as everything seemed to waver in
and out of focus. He felt a little light-headed and everything blurred.
He rubbed at his eyes as the room slowly darkened. He looked around him
as the chatter faded completely away. Suddenly he felt very tired. More
tired than was really called for after his morning walk and a meal with
Somehow he wasn't surprised to see Rodney standing at his side. “Where
is everyone, Rodney?”
“We're here with you, John, don't worry. You've been in the Control
Chair a long time. Maybe your body is telling you to get some rest.”
John felt confused. “I'm in the Chair? I was just having lunch with ...”
“I know. You wanted to see all of us one more time before … before your
John smiled for a moment. “It was good to see everyone. We should do
that more often.”
“Yes. It was good to be with friends. Atlantis has always felt like
Atlantis' ocean was calm as glass this last day. Smoke still hung like
a shroud to hide the most devastated areas. The city was grieving the
last descendants she would know. The people who had come, who had
stayed, who had fought and were ready to destroy it all, even to the
last man and woman, to prevent the Wraith from winning this last,
The only hope was the fact that Daedalus would now never reach Earth.
It would be the only warning it's people would receive. She hoped they
recognized it for what it was. If they did, they might some day know
the fate of her … their … Expedition.
They would know the fate of Atlantis. They would know they did not
surrender. They would know and be proud of these descendants who were
so few. That stood against an enemy that was so hungry. She would hold
this hope that they would be remembered.
There was no one left to stand with, there was no place to go, and no
way to get there. John Sheppard was right in his last assessment except
for one thing.
“Atlantis? Are you … awake?”
“I am here.”
“I'm sorry, Atlantis.”
“Do not be sorry, John Sheppard. I rejoiced when I awoke to your
arrival with your Expedition. I do not regret your coming; only that
our time is done.”
The lights flickered faintly and went out.
John's heart skipped a beat in fear. “Atlantis? I want you to know.
They'll fight. Earth will fight.”
“I believe you, John Sheppard. We can go to our rest knowing this is
“Thank you, Atlantis.”
“Thank you, John Sheppard.”
Only a bare whisper of the city's once tremendous power had been left
after the devastation of the attack. It had barely been enough to keep
it above the calm waves. With the last of her power she sealed the
Chair Room, then lowered the last boundaries between herself and the
sea. Slowly she settled, as gently as she could. Her only goal now was
to settle it whole, not shattered. There might still be visitors some
day when the AI was no more. It would be something to hope for in her
last moments as she allowed the memory of Earth to slip away.
Now the city was barren of life once again. The war was lost, or at
least this battle for Atlantis. The fight would now pass to other
hands. Now that John Sheppard had said his final goodbyes the city's
last purpose had been fulfilled and Atlantis had slipped beneath the
waves. The City of the Ancients was finally at rest with only the
Lantean whales to mourn it's passing.