Chapter 19: Is there anything else you haven’t told me?
Now that I knew I was really on to something I spent even more time obsessing over the palm pad. I also began to disappear for hours every day, walking the corridors of Atlantis as yet unexplored, looking for clues to the rooms’ location. I know Ancient Elizabeth had said Atlantis itself would show me when I was ready to find it but I didn’t trust that this could be true.
I wanted to see if Dr Beckett had learned anything about the ancient genes yet so I made my way to the infirmary one day a few weeks after ancient Elizabeth had been found.
“I’m worried about her Major Sheppard,” I heard Dr Beckett’s concerned voice. “She’s not sleeping well and she’s lost weight – she’s running herself into the ground.”
“What do you think I can do about it Carson?” Sheppard was obviously frustrated. “She won’t listen to me.”
“Have ye tried lad?” Dr Beckett didn’t give up. “Sabina cares about you – cares about your opinion. I’m sure if you tried you could get her to ease off a bit.”
Wasn’t it amazing how much you could learn on Atlantis just by keeping your ears open? Eavesdropping sounded like such a nasty thing to do but honestly they were all so oblivious to the people around them that I didn’t even have to try. Deciding they’d had more than enough time to talk about me I cleared my throat loudly and almost stamped my way into the room.
The atmosphere made it obvious that Sheppard and Dr Beckett had been talking and had shut up just moments before I’d arrived so hopefully they weren’t aware that I’d overheard them. It would be interesting to see whether Major Sheppard actually did try to talk to me about my work and sleep habits.
“Hi Dr Beckett, Major” I greeted them innocently. “I was just wondering Dr Beckett if you’ve made any progress on that ... problem we discussed a while back?”
“Not yet lass,” he admitted, “although to be honest I haven’t had much time so far.”
“That’s okay,” I excused him. “It’s probably not as important now anyway. Well, I’ve got lots of studying to do so I’ll see you both later.” I turned to exit the room, not missing the significant look Dr Beckett shot at Major Sheppard. I saw Sheppard roll his eyes before reluctantly following me out of the room.
“Hey Scotty,” he called out. “Wait up!”
“Major,” I acknowledged. “Was there something you wanted?”
“There you go with that question again,” he almost teased me and I had a sudden memory of his response last time I’d asked him something like that.
“Ha ha,” I tried to shrug it off. “You called out to me remember – why?”
“Oh, well I just wanted to talk to you about ... um ... Dr Beckett was worried about ... look, have you got a few minutes for a drink? I need to sit down for this one.” Sheppard stumbled his way through, giving me that adorable lost puppy dog look he sometimes used to charm his way through something.
“Oh all right,” I conceded. “But this better be good.”
Instead of taking me to the commissary the Major grabbed a couple of water bottles and kept moving through the city until we came to an unused balcony. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the one he’d taken Chaya on a picnic to.
“No I didn’t bring Chaya here,” he said in an almost insulted tone, sitting down on the only bench available.
“How did you know I was thinking that?” I protested.
“Because I know you Scotty and I could almost see the question written across your forehead!” Sheppard shifted uncomfortably. “Would you sit down already?”
I sat down without a word, taking the bottle he offered me and gulping it down quickly.
“Dr Beckett’s worried about you,” Sheppard began. “And to be honest so am I.”
“I’m fine,” I denied any need for them to worry.
“No you’re not!” Sheppard looked at me closely. “Have you looked at yourself lately? You’ve got dark circles under your eyes, you’ve lost a lot of weight and you hardly talk to anyone these days unless it’s about whatever project you’re working on.”
“You make me swoon with all these compliments Major,” I tried again to deflect his attention.
“You need to take this seriously!” Suddenly I was talking to the very daunting Major Sheppard, the one in charge who wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever it took to protect his people. “And you need to come clean with me about what you’ve been working on because I know it’s not training anymore. Elizabeth says you’re as good as she is these days at translating ancient. You disappear for hours on end and we can’t find you because you always blank yourself off the sensors. Something’s going on and I’m tired of waiting for you to tell me what it is.”
“Nothing’s going on!” I denied but like that day so many months ago I couldn’t maintain my eye contact and quickly looked down before he could see I was lying.
“Sure, nothing,” he said almost sadly. “I knew I should have confronted you weeks ago when I first suspected something was off.”
“Why didn’t you then?” I asked, curious despite my nervousness that it would all get taken away from me.
“Because I was still tiptoeing around you over the whole Chaya thing and I didn’t want to do anything else to piss you off! I trusted you to tell me if there was something going on that I needed to know about,” he explained.
“You’re right,” I reluctantly agreed. “I should have told you as the military leader of this expedition. I’m sorry – I was so caught up in my personal ... concerns ... I just haven’t been thinking straight.” The game was up – I had to let him in and hope it didn’t end up with me being pushed out into the cold.
“So tell me,” he invited.
“It’s better if I show you,” I replied. “Come on.” Jumping up I headed for my quarters without looking back, trusting that he’d be right behind me.
Once we were both inside I walked over to my concealed wall safe and waved my hand over it. Major Sheppard gave a small whistle as the panel disappeared to reveal the space within. I took out the palm pad and silently handed it to him. Of course it lit up as soon as he touched it.
“This is why you wanted to learn ancient?” he asked with an angry edge to his voice. “You’ve had this thing the whole time since before we were together and you never told me?!”
“Yes,” I admitted miserably. I wasn’t surprised that he had so quickly worked out my motives and deduced I’d been keeping this secret for a lot longer than he’d originally thought.
"I didn't know it meant anything to start with," I tried to excuse myself. "I thought it was just going to be about my ATA gene. By the time I realised, things were all weird between us and I just ... I don't know!"
"Is there anything else you haven't told me?" he asked, still seething with anger.
I had worried that he would let his relationship with me get in the way of his duty but I saw then that it was in fact me who had done that. If I didn't have all these seething emotions swirling inside me I'm sure I would have come to him with the ancient palm pad the day I found it. I deserved his anger ... and I still had to tell him what ancient Elizabeth had said.
"Ancient Elizabeth knew about the palm pad," I admitted miserably, sinking down onto my bed and looking away from him. "Janus left it for us to find."
"Oh this just gets better and better," he said in an annoyed tone, before turning away and rubbing his forehead in frustration.
"Okay, just tell me all of it," he commanded, sitting in a chair across from me and waiting expectantly for me to begin.
So I told him the whole story. He refrained from making any comments - when I got to the part about there possibly being a Wraith destroying weapon somewhere in the city I could see him clenching his teeth to stop himself from blasting me.
"Is that it?" he asked in that deadly quiet voice he's so good at.
"I still have that laptop you gave me before you knew I wasn't supposed to be here," I said, trying to lighten the mood, without success.
Silence descended on the room as he sat there looking at me, clearly thinking about all the implications.
"I can understand you keeping the palm pad to yourself to start with - you didn't know us and you were looking for your place here," he began. "But what I can't understand is why you kept silent about the fact that there's a potential weapon somewhere in this city!" His voice was frustrated, and angry, and disappointed too. Strangely it was his disappointment in me that I found the hardest to deal with. "It’s my responsibility to protect this city and everyone in it from the Wraith," he continued. "We need every advantage we can get and we need them yesterday!"
"I'm sorry," I whispered, struggling not to cry. "I let my emotions get in the way of doing my duty. I don't know what else to say ..."
"I'd cut you out of this if I could but from what ancient Elizabeth apparently said we need you to make it work. But let me tell you this," he leaned in and his voice was all intimidating and serious. "If I find out you've kept anything else from me, no matter how small, I'll bust you back to the brig so fast you won't know what hit you."
He got up and motioned for me to follow him. "We need to fill Elizabeth in."
Chapter 20: Maybe I'm not ready
Dr Weir was quiet while I miserably told the whole story to her. She didn't get angry like Major Sheppard had but I could see that she too was disappointed in me.
"Why would you keep this from us Sabina?" she asked quietly.
"Like I said to Major Sheppard," I began. "To start with I really thought it was just going to be a way for me to learn about my DNA - it was only recently that I found out it was much more than that."
"You should have said something then," Elizabeth admonished.
"I know," I agreed miserably. "But if I had then you'd have handed the whole thing over to someone much more qualified than me!" I finally admitted. "The palm pad was revealed to me - ancient Elizabeth asked to speak to me - I wanted to do this, I needed to solve this to prove that I do belong on Atlantis." I was painfully aware of Major Sheppard's silent presence in the room - I had no idea how he'd reacted to that last statement and I didn't really want to find out.
"Sabina,” Dr Weir scolded me. "You don’t have to prove yourself! You have the ATA gene - if we'd found you on Earth we would have asked you to join the mission."
"No you wouldn't," I disagreed. "The only people here who had the ATA gene naturally also have other qualifications. Carson is a talented doctor. The Major is in charge of the whole military angle. I don't have any qualifications. Well I didn't - that's one of the reasons why I was so keen to learn ancient."
"I'm sorry we didn't do a better job of making you feel secure here," Dr Weir said. "There's no point in dwelling on what's done - we need to work out a plan for how to proceed from here."
"Did ancient Elizabeth give you any clues to the rooms’ location?" Major Sheppard spoke for the first time since we'd arrived at Dr Weir's office.
"Not really," I replied. "All she said was that the city itself would show me ... when I was ready."
"That's what you've been doing all those hours when you were off sensors - looking for the room?" He questioned me further. His voice sounded quite reasonable without any hint of the anger he'd shown me earlier but I knew it wouldn't be that easy for him to forgive me.
"Yes, and I haven't found anything." I admitted.
"Well, that's a starting point then," Dr Weir instructed. "Sit down with the Major and mark out on a map of Atlantis all the places you've already looked. We can put teams on searching the rest."
"I can do that,' I agreed. "But I'm starting to think I could have already walked past it without knowing it. I don't think walking around the city is the way to find it."
"What about the sensors?" Major Sheppard suggested. "You're pretty good at manipulating them to hide yourself ... could you tap into them somehow?"
"That's not a bad idea," I commented in surprise.
"Well I do have them occasionally," he said with a self depreciating smile.
"And it fits in with what ancient Elizabeth said ... it takes a fair amount of concentration so maybe she meant I'd be ready when I'd developed enough mental control." I felt excitement at the idea.
"Okay then," Dr Weir agreed, turning to the Major. "Talk to Rodney, get Sabina hooked into the sensor system and we'll take it from there. Let me know as soon as you find something."
"Why didn't you tell me you felt that way about not belonging on Atlantis?" Major Sheppard questioned me as we headed down to Rodney's lab.
"What could you have done about it?" I denied that I should have said anything. "When we were friends and I was doing basic training it just seemed like a weakness I should be able to overcome. Then we moved so quickly into ...," I blushed and looked down at the floor, "you know ... and then for a time I did feel like I belonged so it wasn't an issue anymore."
"And after?" Major Sheppard kept walking, me hurrying to keep up with his longer legs.
"I was angry ... more than I can remember ever being," I admitted. "I know I should have told you about the weapon okay - I know - I let my personal feelings get in the way and pretty much proved that I don’t belong here."
"You had every right to be angry," he surprised me with that comment.
"No I didn't," I said with a frown. "You were free to behave in whatever manner you saw fit with Chaya. We'd hardly even begun our relationship and we didn't make promises... I said it at the time but it was only later when I truly believed it."
"So you forgave me?" he asked, stopping in the corridor to look at me. "Then why didn't you say something?"
"I did, in a roundabout way," I said, looking up at him reluctantly, "when I started talking to you again."
"Oh," he sighed. "So why aren't we ... you know?” His hand gestured a connection between us.
"You were right," I said, turning away to continue walking down the hall.
"I like that,' he smiled as he caught up with me. "What was I right about this time?"
"It was too fast and I did screw it up by rushing things," I admitted. "I just don't think I'm cut out for relationships ... I get too emotional and I can't seem to separate that from doing the job. It's not that I don't think personal relationships have a place on Atlantis because I do. The people here are so cut off and they need whatever comfort they can get."
"Just not you?" he queried with a frown.
"Right!" I agreed. "Just not me."
"Now isn't the time," the Major said as we arrived at Rodney's lab, "so I'll let that go. But we will be talking about how ridiculous that last comment was later."
I made a childish face at his back as I followed him into Dr McKay's lab.
Rodney was intrigued by the idea of using the sensors to find a room we knew was somewhere in Atlantis. I spent hours that day trying to get my brain to make a deeper connection with the Atlantis systems but it just wasn't working.
"Maybe I'm not ready," I commented tiredly to Major Sheppard, who'd stopped by to check on my progress, or lack thereof.
"Or maybe you're just tired,' he disagreed. "You've been pushing yourself for weeks and you look like crap."
"Be still my beating heart," I pretended to swoon with one hand on my chest and the other over my forehead.
"Funny," Sheppard said without laughing. He grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the room "Time for dinner," he ordered, pulling me with him in the direction of the commissary.
For the first time in ages I actually felt hungry and I didn't care if people were talking because the Major and I had turned up and sat together. Before I could finish a dizzy wave of almost unconsciousness fell over me and I would have fallen out of my chair if Sheppard hadn't caught me.
"Sabina!" he said urgently.
"I'm okay," I mumbled the excuse. "Just ... tired." And with that I leant my head against his chest and fell into sleep.
It was hours later when I woke up in my own bed. I stretched, feeling more refreshed than I had in too long. I looked around the room, wondering how long I'd been sleeping, and spotted Major Sheppard asleep on the chair across from me. Quietly I exited the bed and crept over to him. I couldn't help the tender smile that graced my face as I took in the picture he made with his face relaxed in sleep, hair sticking up in a dozen different directions. He was seriously cute. I should have known I couldn't creep up on an ex special ops soldier though - before I'd even realised he was awake his hand shot out and grabbed my arm, pulling me into him.
"Hey!" I protested.
"How are you feeling?" he pulled me onto his lap and ran his eyes across my face. "Carson said you were exhausted and we should just let you sleep it off."
"Wait, when did I see Carson?" I sat on his lap as though I did it every day, trying to show him that his nearness was having no effect on me.
"He came to the commissary after you fell asleep on me," Sheppard informed me. I fell asleep on him in the commissary during the peak dinner hour? Great!
"Oh, sorry about that," I apologised.
"No problem," he said lazily. "It was kinda nice actually - getting you to do what you're told without having to hear a whole bunch of arguments."
"Ha ha," I said, squirming a bit as I tried to sneak my way off his lap. "Are we all done here?"
"Not yet," Major Sheppard let me get up. He stood and did one of those full body stretches that showed off every muscle and raised his t-shirt to give me a tantalising view of his stomach. I looked away quickly but not before he caught me ogling him.
"We should get back to the lab," I said, turning away from him. "I'm close - I can feel it. I just need to concentrate harder."
"Sabina," his deep voice came from too close behind me.
"Not now," I pleaded. "I promise I'll sit and listen to whatever you want to say ... just later okay?"
"Okay," he agreed easily. Thinking he would move away I was surprised when he pulled my pony tail aside and placed a gentle kiss on my neck before leaning in and rubbing his face into my shoulder.
"Are we good?" I asked in a small voice.
"We're getting there,' Sheppard replied, not pretending he didn't know what I meant. "I'm still annoyed with you for keeping quiet about the weapon but I didn't give you much reason to trust me, did I?"
"Thank you." I turned around and hugged him quickly before stepping away. "Time for work," I announced in a more cheerful voice.
"No,' Major Sheppard disagreed. "Time for breakfast ... then it'll be time for work."
"Okay," I grumped. "I'll just go do the stuff we women do in the mornings - I'll be there in ten."
"I'll be waiting,' he promised.
Authors note: It's a given that the sensor system can't find a specific person BUT after The Eye we do know that lone sensor signals do stand out and that they would do checks of the city from time to time - Sabina would know this too hence hiding her signal. Rather than put in a big scene explaining all that, the story flowed better to just assume Sabina and John would have talked about it at some point.
Chapter 21: I just imagined a big blanket and hid the two of us under it
I hoped that after more sleep and food than I'd had for a while I'd make some progress with the sensors but the whole morning was spent getting more and more frustrated.
"Why isn't this working?" I angrily pushed away from the ancient console.
"Don't give up," Dr McKay reassured me. "I mean the fact that you can block out the sensors the way you do is just amazing. Have you tried to do anything else like that?"
"Well, I tried to block Major Sheppard's signal when the Genii took over,' I admitted. "It worked for a few seconds I think but I couldn't maintain my control because Sheppard was moving too fast. I thought at the time that I'd have to be physically there with him to make it work but I haven't had the chance to test that out."
"Let's get Sheppard down here," Rodney suggested. "You're not making progress going straight at the problem - maybe this will help."
"Rodney," Major Sheppard complained as he arrived. "This better be good - I'm in the middle of planning our mission to Dagan.
"Oh right, one of the ZedPM planets from Ancient Elizabeth’s list," Rodney nodded distractedly. "Well this won't take long and then you can get back to counting your ammo or whatever it is you do to plan a mission."
Although the comment was biting I knew that Sheppard and Rodney shared a strange but close friendship so I just smiled as Sheppard raised an eyebrow at me.
"I'm not making any progress," I admitted. "Rodney thinks if I do something else it might help. When the Genii took over I tried to block your sensor signal like I do my own. I thought I might be succeeding here and there but it was too hard because you were just moving around too damn fast."
"Okay, so you want to try that now?" he guessed why we'd called him down there.
"If you don't mind?' I acknowledged.
"What do I do?" he asked, stepping closer to me.
"Just stand still for now," I said distractedly, turning to Rodney and asking him to get the sensor map to display this room. Three life signs registered, then two as I put up my own block with the ease of much practice.
"That is so cool," Dr McKay breathed before registering my annoyance at his interruption. "Okay, now try to get rid of Major Sheppard’s signal."
In my head I'd developed the method of spreading a mental blanket over myself as the trigger for hiding my signal. Now I tried to make the blanket bigger and spread it over Major Sheppard as well. As I watched a second life sign dimmed and then went out. I smiled in relief but it was short lived because as soon as I took my concentration off him for a second, Sheppard’s signal reappeared.
"Damn," I grumbled.
"It's okay Sabina," Major Sheppard said, while at the same time Dr McKay said "Touch him!"
"What?" we both turned to Rodney.
"You have the gene, he has the gene. Maybe touching him will reduce the burden of hiding him? After all, he's always saying how much Atlantis likes him!" Rodney said in that voice he uses when he thinks something should be completely obvious.
"Oh, right" I commented, putting my hand on Major Sheppard's arm and trying again. This time it was easier to keep my blanket over the both of us. No one said anything as I held the block for minutes. I was amazed at how quickly I found a way to put the block on both of us to the back of my mind and free up some of my mental capacity. When I was first learning the technique it had taken days to achieve the same thing for myself.
"What now?" I asked, noting that both of them looked impressed when I managed to hold the block while speaking to them.
"Can you do that if we move around a bit?" Major Sheppard tone suggested he could see the value of this from a tactical point of view.
"Shall we go for a walk and try it out?" I asked, turning to Rodney. "Can you let us know when Major Sheppard's life sign reappears?" I requested.
It was a little awkward walking with my hand on Sheppard’s arm and we did get a few looks as we turned away from Rodney's lab and headed for the control room.
"How are you doing this?" Major Sheppard asked.
"I just imagined a big blanket and hid the two of us under it," I admitted reluctantly.
"Cosy,” Sheppard grinned, clearly enjoying making me uncomfortable.
I had been expecting Rodney to tell us he could see Sheppard's signal but we made it to the control room with no word from him.
"McKay?" Sheppard barked into his radio. "Are you reading us?"
"Wouldn't I have said something if I was?" Rodney complained. "Where are you? Because I couldn't track you once you left the room. I can't tell your signal from anyone else’s so I don't know if you're being picked up or not!"
"Oh right," Sheppard said quickly. "Well can you tell me how many people there are in the control room right now?"
"Two," Rodney said immediately.
"Sabina and I are both here so there should be four," Sheppard informed Rodney. "Not bad Sabina," he acknowledged.
"Take your hand off him," Rodney instructed me "but try to maintain your block."
I did what he said and waited to hear the result.
"Still only picking up two life signs," Rodney congratulated me. "How does it feel from your end?"
"I had to concentrate hard when I first let go," I said cautiously. "But now it doesn't feel that much harder than what I do for myself."
"Nice,' Sheppard commented. "What about if I'm not in the same room? This won't be much help if you have to be with me."
"Rodney?" I asked.
"Go for a walk Sheppard,” Rodney's voice came back over the radio. 'But this time can you tell me where you're going? Do it quietly though because I don't want Sabina to hear you."
"Okay," Sheppard agreed readily, giving me a smile before he turned and left the room. I sat and concentrated on maintaining my link with the sensor system - my theory was that I didn't have to be with Sheppard because I now knew what his signal 'felt' like to Atlantis. I could find that feeling in the system and put a separate blanket over that. I started to shake a little at the effort I was putting in and eventually I had to let go.
"Sorry Rodney,' I apologised weakly. "I couldn't maintain it but with practice I probably could."
Overall we agreed it had been a successful morning. I was so tired I didn't even argue when Major Sheppard instructed me to have some lunch and take a nap.
Chapter 22: The room, it's not big enough
Despite my success with hiding Major Sheppard’s sensor signal it was still a couple of days before I made the big breakthrough.
Sheppard had come to check on me, something he seemed to do at regular intervals every day. "How's it going?" he asked.
"This sucks!" I said angrily. "I hate this console."
"No you don't," he said, giving my ponytail a light tug. "You're obsessed with that console."
"I'm running out of ideas here," I admitted, looking up over my shoulder at him to complain. "This is really frustrating!" Turning back to the console I almost slammed my hands against it and yelled "SHOW ME THE WRAITH WEAPON ROOM, FOR GODS SAKE!"
As I'd started yelling, Major Sheppard had put a calming hand down firmly on my shoulder and at his touch I felt a huge surge of power. It definitely came from him, picking up speed and intensity as it travelled down my arm and into the console. It wasn't a physical thing - no one else in the room would have noticed anything, but the result was definitely spectacular. All the lights in the room went off but the console lit up so much the room was shrouded in that bright blue light the ancients liked so much. A map of the city appeared on the big screen, showing an area located down in the depths of Atlantis. One room was pulsing slowly, burning itself into my brain.
"Do you know where that is? I whispered to Sheppard.
"Yeah," he said, taking his hand off my shoulder. Immediately the display disappeared and the lights came back on.
"What did you do?" Rodney exclaimed.
"I didn't do it," I said quietly. "He did!" and I turned to look accusingly at Major Sheppard.
"What?" he denied it. "I didn't do anything! All I was thinking was that I wished I could help you somehow and then you made the map appear."
"I didn't" I disagreed.
"Well I didn't either," Sheppard retorted.
"Okay children can we focus here?" Rodney cut in. "It doesn't really matter how you did it - we now have somewhere to look for the Wraith weapon room so how about we stop arguing and start moving?"
"You're right Rodney," Sheppard snapped into leader mode. "Elizabeth," he said into his radio. "We're heading down to the lower levels of Atlantis. We may have found Sabina's room."
"Acknowledged," Dr Weir replied. "Keep me informed on your progress ... and be careful."
"Will do," Sheppard replied before turning to me. "Shall we?"
It took some time to get there, even using the transporters, because it turned out the room was at the very bottom of Atlantis. As we walked along darkened corridors Atlantis itself seemed to welcome our passage, turning on just enough light for us to see ahead.
"I think we're on to something here," Rodney commented, consulting his data pad with a frown. "According to my readings, there's an empty shaft up ahead ... I'm pretty sure something like that was mentioned in that weapons research inventory Sabina activated. Of course the Ancients didn't bother putting in any details about where it was, but this could be it."
"Did the inventory happen to tell you what kind of weapon it was?" Major Sheppard asked, pointing his P90 around a corner before motioning us to continue.
"No," Rodney admitted. "I think most of the stuff on that inventory was extremely experimental and potentially dangerous ... they wouldn't have wanted details falling into the wrong hands."
"You do realise there's nothing between us and the ocean except this floor, right?" Rodney commented nervously a few minutes later. "I mean, its reinforced and it seems to be structurally sound but ..."
"Rodney," Major Sheppard interrupted the beginnings of a classic McKay tirade. "Let it go!"
I said nothing as I listened to their conversation. After we'd turned that last corner I had known we were close ... I felt a sense of recognition as well as expectation that was only heightened the closer we got to our destination.
"This is it," Rodney stopped at an innocent looking door. "That empty shaft is right above this room and it's huge. Take the ceiling away and we'd see the sky a long way above us."
Major Sheppard swiped his hand over the door panel but nothing happened.
"Losing your touch Major?" Rodney smirked at John's surprised look.
"Sabina?" Sheppard motioned me forward. As soon as I put my hand near the door panel, the door slid open with a faint grinding sound.
Major Sheppard went in first, weapon at the ready, followed closely by Rodney. After a moment where I waited anxiously in the corridor Major Sheppard motioned me into the room.
I should have realised it wouldn't be as easy as walking down there and just opening the door. This room looked exactly like all the other lab’s we’d found on Atlantis. The only problem was it was completely empty - it didn't even have all the consoles and equipment that usually went with them.
"You have got to be kidding me!" I looked around in disbelief.
"Just wait,' Major Sheppard cautioned me. "Rodney, are you picking anything up?"
"I'm not getting any energy readings but there is something definitely not right about this room," Rodney replied distractedly, holding his sensor pad out in front of him as he walked around the room.
"It's not big enough," I said quietly.
"What?" Rodney turned back to me.
"The room, it's not big enough," I restated.
"How could you know that?" Rodney asked me curiously. "There weren't any dimensions on the map and nothing about its shape to give us any clues as to its size."
"I don't know Rodney," I admitted. "I just know the room I'm standing in is smaller than the one I saw on the map." I walked around slowly before coming to rest in front of the wall directly opposite the door. "This wall," I said. "It shouldn't be here." I put my hand against the wall and felt a tingle. Up close I noticed that the wall was etched with ancient symbols enclosed in circles of varying sizes. At my touch a faint blue light traversed the wall, illuminating the symbols.
"Wow," Sheppard said. "Can we break through it?"
"Oh that's your solution to everything isn't it Major!" Rodney said heatedly. "If you can't work it out quickly then just blow it up! Well for your information that won't work here. The room is stable but I wouldn't recommend setting off any charges so close to the outer walls, not unless you'd like to go for an unexpected swim. Anyway I can't tell how thick this wall is so we have no way of knowing how much C4 we'd need to make a hole big enough. So to answer your question - no we can't break through it!"
"All right Rodney, keep your shirt on," Sheppard winked at me. He did enjoy getting Rodney riled up and I was pretty sure he did it deliberately.
"It's a puzzle," I breathed. "An ancient puzzle we have to solve."
"I kind of worked that out for myself Sabina," Major Sheppard drawled. He turned away to start organising the room for a longer stay but I barely registered his presence. I'd brought all my ancient references as well as the palm pad and I sat down on the floor in front of the wall and began to translate.
Chapter 23: Another puzzle to solve
The words were all wrong. No matter how much time I spent staring at the symbols I couldn't make sense of them. I'd been working on the wall for a day and a half and was already frustrated. Individually the symbols were all translatable but when I put them together they were just gibberish. I checked my watch ... I only had another 20 minutes before Major Sheppard arrived to force me to give it up for the day. Turning back to my notes I started again on the first section of the wall.
"Any progress?" Major Sheppard’s voice startled me out of my silent contemplation.
"No," I said, resting my back against the wall as I looked up at him from my sitting position.
"Looks like Greek to me," he joked, coming over and looking down at my notes. "Hey isn't that the word for 'light'?" he asked, pointing to one of the symbols.
I turned the page upside down and looked at it closely. He was right! "How did you know that?" I asked him suspiciously.
"Hey you can't live here and not pick up a few words of ancient," he excused his unexpected knowledge.
Looking back at my upside down notes I realised for the first time that many of the symbols meant something else when looked at that way. Feeling a sense of discovery and excitement I walked to the wall and found the symbol Major Sheppard had pointed out. It was enclosed in a small circle - could it really be that simple? I put my hand on the circle and tried to rotate it clockwise. There was a faint stones rubbing against stones sound and the circle moved.
"That's it Major," I said turning back excitedly to my notes.
"Well I aim to please," he joked. "Need any more help?"
"Yes," I said, pulling him over to the wall. "Help me rotate this circle."
After an hour we had rotated all the circles in such a way that the passage almost made sense.
"What does it say?" Sheppard asked as we started to push the last circle into position.
"The chosen shall bring forth the key to destroy the ancient enemy and return light and life back to the galaxy" I paused to read my translation. "Or something like that."
Before he could say anything else the last circle clicked into place and we heard an ominous rumbling sound. Pulling me away from the wall, Sheppard stepped back and shone the light from his P90 into the gap that was emerging. After the dust had cleared the light revealed a chamber with a strange looking device in the middle. It looked like a table with square stone blocks of various sizes and heights on top of it. Each had symbols on them and there were more symbols on the walls.
"Oh great," I said tiredly, "another puzzle to solve."
"Elizabeth," Major Sheppard said into his radio. "We found the weapon."
Up until now the ancient palm pad hadn't been of much help, even though ancient Elizabeth had said it would be. Once Rodney had seen the weapon though he began muttering about schematics and rushed back to his lab to consult his research. And I began the task of translating the new batch of ancient we'd discovered, knowing this was going to take much more than a couple of days.
Major Sheppard went off world to Dagan, one of the addresses ancient Elizabeth had given us. Obviously we would need a ZPM to power the shields and I had assumed that would also apply to the Wraith weapon.
Rodney had been right in his initial mutterings - the ancient palm pad did contain some schematics for the weapon and once they were translated from ancient he was able to speculate a bit on how the weapon worked. He believed it was capable of tuning into some kind of frequency and using that to target the Wraith somehow. We had discovered straight away that each block that made up the weapon could be pushed down and that this affected the positions of the other blocks - Rodney said this was how the frequency must be set. But without knowing what frequency we were looking for or how to get the machine to align with it we were almost back to square one. I was sure the answer was written somewhere on the walls of that room, hence my compulsion to translate everything as soon as possible.
I was still on edge whenever Sheppard's team was off world – even after all this time I hadn’t gotten used to trusting that they’d be all right, that they had the skills to get themselves out of trouble. Although I spent most of my time down in that room I was still aware of the passage of time and began to worry when the Major didn't return when he should have.
I was never gladder of Sheppard’s over protectiveness than when a lone Wraith dart flew over the city and scanned us. He had insisted that while he was gone, I could only go down to the weapons room if I took one of his men with me. Today it was Private Mason. The Private told me to get down and remain still as the dart flew directly over us, chased by three of our jumpers. I didn't see anything so far down in the city depths but I felt disorientated and there was a strange buzzing in my ears. I hadn't been blocking myself from the sensors because Dr Weir had asked me not to but right then I felt the need to be invisible again and re-established my block. Almost immediately I began to feel better, and turned my attention back to the weapon. I felt a huge relief when Mason informed me that the danger had passed.
"Interesting," I mused. The section of the wall I was looking at talked about the hands of the chosen together bringing alignment to the console. That sounded promising. I looked around, trying to find anything that would correlate with that. There was a border running all the way around the table and I noticed for the first time that one part of it seemed to have been added on after its initial construction.
I pulled out the pocket knife Major Sheppard had given me at the end of basic training and used it to pry up the top of that section, grabbing it when the gap was big enough and gently lifting it away. Beneath it were carved indentations in the shape of two human hands, fingers outstretched. Without thinking I placed my hands on each spot. A surge of ancient power shot out of the console and travelled up my arms. I felt like my very blood was on fire and that my head would explode from the mental pressure the machine seemed to apply. The sensation was more than I could bear and I tried to rip my hands away but they seemed to be fused to the table. Crying out in pain I saw Private Mason running into the room from the corridor where he'd been checking in.
"Get back," I yelled, still struggling with the device. My consciousness narrowed and the edges of my vision turned black. Snakes of energy were flashing out of the device now and one of them struck Private Mason, sending him flying across the floor. I could feel my body slip from the machine to the floor as I made a last desperate attempt to shut off the device in my head. Then the darkness took me.
Authors Note: Sorry about the spoilers for Stargate SG1 The Reckoning Part 2 - I didn't want to put a warning in before hand in case that gave away what the weapon was ... from my understanding the Ancients built the gate system and everything else Ancient that SG1 ever found in our galaxy BEFORE they went to the Pegasus galaxy. The weapon on Dakara was incredibily powerful AND capable of defeating a whole race - it doesn't seem out of character for them to make another weapon in the Pegasus galaxy once the threat of the Wraith got so out of control. They'd want to make it a bit more secure though - hence it being something under development rather than something they deployed (making their retreat back to our galaxy unnecessary - which clearly it was!) Well, that's what I think happened anyway!!
Chapter 24: You put your hands on them?
The next thing I knew I was waking up in Dr Beckett's infirmary to the site of Major Sheppard dosing in a chair beside my bed. Of course I'd been down to the infirmary lots of times before but I realised this was the first time I'd been an inmate. As I became more aware of my surroundings memory came back and I looked down at my hands. They were both covered in white bandages and I wondered how bad it was - I couldn't feel any pain but that was probably because Carson had dosed me up with some nice pain killers.
"Major," I croaked too softly for him to hear. Clearing my throat I tried again. "Major!"
"You're awake," he snapped to attention instantly. "How do you feel?"
"Stupid," I said bitterly, shifting restlessly in the bed. "How's Private Mason?"
"He'll be fine," Sheppard reassured me. "He'll need a few days to recover fully - Carson said he had every appearance of having been struck by lightning."
"I'm glad he's okay," I whispered, thinking back to what had happened. "Did you get the ZPM?" I asked before he could question me further.
“No,” Sheppard replied with a frown. “We found it after having to dig up half the planet, solve a puzzle, and outsmart the Genii. Rodney stupidly told the Dagan’s we weren’t the ancients and they refused to let us bring it back.”
“Is there any chance they’ll change their minds?” I asked.
“Nah, they said they’re going to hide it again until the Ancients return and they get their reward.”
We both fell silent for a moment, before Major Sheppard reached out and carefully touched one of my bandaged hands.
"So tell me what happened." his voice was firm and I knew I'd used up his patience and would have to admit to my own stupidity.
"There was a reference on the wall to the hands of the chosen," I said, trying to be brief. "I found a part of the console with spots to put my hands so I just ..." my voice trailed off.
"You put your hands on them?" Sheppard’s voice was incredulous. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"I wasn't thinking," I snapped back. "The city is starved for power - I didn't consider the fact that the weapon might have an independent power source. I tried to pull it back once I realised what was happening but it was really difficult to get control. I did manage to shut it down eventually but I didn't have enough left over to stop myself passing out."
"I left Private Mason down there so you couldn't go off and do something stupid but you still managed to find a way to pull it off," Sheppard was clearly less than impressed.
“It wasn’t that bad,” I protested his over reaction to what seemed to be minor injuries.
“That puzzle on Dagan had spots to put your hands too,” Sheppard informed me. “One of Koyla’s men put his hands on it, touched the wrong buttons and it killed him!”
“I didn’t know that,” I defended my actions.
“Enough crap has happened from people touching Ancient technology!” Sheppard pointed out. “You should have expected the worst! In fact let’s make a new rule – no touching the Ancient stuff without McKay’s approval.”
“Ha, Ha,” I said. "It was worth a couple of sore hands," I told him. "We needed to know how the weapon works and now we're much closer than we would have been. That Wraith dart came here for a reason - we may not have a lot of time to figure this thing out."
"You've got that right," Major Sheppard had a worried look in his eyes. "There are 3 hive ships heading our way – they‘ll be here within 2 weeks."
"Crap," I said weakly trying to sit up. "I need to get out of here and back to the weapon."
"Not until Carson says you're good to go," Major Sheppard pushed me back down far too easily.
"Okay, then go get him so I can get out of here,' I commanded briskly.
"Yes Ma’am!" Sheppard flipped me a mocking salute before turning to get Carson. When he got to the door he turned back with a serious look. "I'm glad you're okay," he said quietly before turning to find Dr Beckett.
Dr Beckett released me from the infirmary just before lunch time with a promise that I'd check in with him the next morning. I realised I hadn't eaten in some time so I headed to the commissary, not surprised to find it humming with muted conversation. I saw Teyla sitting with Dr McKay, and was relieved when she motioning for me to join them.
"It is good to see you are well," Teyla commented with a smile. "We were most worried when we discovered you unconscious on the floor of the weapons room."
"We were worried," Dr McKay quipped, gesturing to himself and Teyla. "Sheppard was freaked out."
"Rodney!" Teyla reprimanded him.
"What? Like she's not going to hear it from someone else?" Dr McKay protested before continuing. "I've never seen him look so pale - I thought he was going to faint and wouldn't that have been justice after the number of times he's hassled me since I passed out that one time?"
"Well, it wasn't my finest hour," I admitted, ignoring what Dr McKay was saying. I didn't believe for one minute that Major Sheppard had been weakened in any way by the prospect of me being injured.
"You are definitely on to something though," Rodney looked up from the sandwich he had been eating at a rapid pace. "I took some readings and I think we can rig something up to work out how much power we have. It's not a ZedPM because I would have detected that when we first got here but it could be something like the system that runs the Stargate. It’s good to know the ancients didn’t power everything in Atlantis with a ZedPM."
Before I could respond my eyes were drawn to the entrance where Major Sheppard had just appeared. It only took him a second to spot me in the crowd (how does he do that!) and he made his way over to us. It had been some time since I'd allowed myself to truly make eye contact with him - his sudden appearance had our eyes locked from across the room before I could look away. I felt heat suffuse my face and my heartbeat quicken as he stopped in front of me, still just looking at me.
"Hello?" Dr McKay’s voice demanded attention. "Atlantis to Sheppard!" he added, interrupting our silent communication.
"Rodney," Sheppard said, still looking at me. "Elizabeth wants to see us all to discuss our options. You okay?" he questioned me.
"I'm fine," I said firmly. "Ready to get back to it." I added as Teyla and Rodney got up and left the table, nodding to me in farewell.
"I thought you'd say that," he acknowledged. "Private Spencer will be accompanying you - he has orders to make sure you don't touch anything else."
"I wasn't planning to!" I said indignantly. "At least not until I've translated the rest of the walls," I muttered under my breath.
"I need to get to this meeting," he frowned at me, clearly worrying about what I'd meant by that comment. "Stay out of trouble! I'll catch up with you later." He stroked a hand down my pony tail before turning and following Teyla and Rodney from the room.
I glanced around to see if anyone had noticed and gave a weak smile when I saw a few people looking my way with knowing looks. Looking back down at the food I hadn't yet touched I couldn't help but think about what Rodney had said. Had Major Sheppard really been that affected by my collapse? Could I possibly be any more confused and divided about him?
I was still puzzled by that connection we had that I knew did have something to do with the ATA gene. I wasn't up to that level of thinking after my experience earlier in the day so I resolutely pushed it all to the back of my mind again. It was getting pretty crowded back there.
Chapter 25: Do you want to send a message home?
“I’m going off world with Teyla,” Major Sheppard told me at breakfast the next morning. “Zelenka worked out where the hive ships will be stopping. We need intel and there’s a planet close by where Teyla is well known.”
“Oh,” I tried not to let him see how much that worried me. “Be careful ... I know – you’re always careful!”
“I wasn’t gonna say that,” he denied with a smile. “I was gonna say you be careful too.”
“I’ll do my best Major,” I looked up at him with a smile of my own, a smile I couldn’t hold as I watched him walk away.
I went down to the Wraith weapon room as soon as he was gone, intending to continue my work as best I could. It was difficult with my hands bandaged to work quickly but Dr Beckett had assured me there was no serious damage and that the bandages would be off in a couple of days.
As usual, Major Sheppard didn't return when he was scheduled ... I spent every waking hour in the weapon room, frustrating myself with my lack of real progress. I'd translated many sections on the walls but none of it had anything to do with how the weapon actually worked. I was beginning to worry that the weapon would be like every other piece of Ancient technology we had found - long on potential, short on instructions!
It was almost two days before Major Sheppard finally returned. “How’s it coming? he asked by way of greeting.
“Slow,” I admitted, relieved that he was home safe. “Why don’t you have another look, Mensa Boy?”
“Rodney told you about that?” Sheppard looked uncomfortable.
“Only to complain that you refused to join his Atlantis chapter,” I laughed at his expression of distaste at the thought. “Who knew you were a geek?” I teased.
“Don’t laugh too hard,” he took delight in informing me. “I saw your test results – apparently you could be a Mensa geek too if you wanted.”
“No way,” I denied.
“Way,” Sheppard insisted.
“Well, don’t tell Rodney,” I said dismissively. “I don’t want to join his Atlantis chapter either.” I turned back to the wall, trying to continue my work but too aware of Sheppard standing silently behind me.
“How was the mission?” I asked casually.
“Don’t ask,” he replied. “We got the intel we needed and we saved a few people from the culling. One of them is a friend of Teyla’s.”
I knew he was leaving out much of the detail but I also knew that pressing him now would only make him defensive. Even though I’d never seen a Wraith myself I was filled with anger at their callous disregard for human life in this galaxy.
“Do you want to send a message home?” he abruptly changed the subject.
“McKay found a way to send all our Intel to Earth through the Stargate. Apparently even though we only have 1.3 seconds to get the message through there’s still a whole second left. Dr Weir suggested we could all send video messages to our families. Do you want to?”
“I’m good,” I refused, looking back at my notes.
“You don’t want to tell your family you’re okay?” Major Sheppard asked in surprise.
“No family,” I rushed that one out.
“Well, what about friends then?” he persisted in digging at me.
“No friends,” I said it even quicker, trying to give him the impression that I was completely fine with that.
“Surely there’s someone back on Earth who’d be happy to hear you’re okay?” he said in disbelief.
“No one that would miss me if I disappeared,” I admitted. “Can you just drop it please, because I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“I don’t have any family either – parents died in a car crash a few years back and I never had any siblings,” he said it quietly.
"That's sad," I said softly. Of course I wanted to know more about the Major but at the same time I was unwilling to enter into a deep and meaningful conversation if it meant I had to reciprocate.
“I tried the whole marriage thing but it didn’t last very long," Major Sheppard continued. "Long absences and too many secrets killed things before they really even got off the ground. Moving around with the air force, especially my last posting at McMurdo, doesn’t make for keeping non military friends.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I looked over at him before looking away again.
“I realised when Elizabeth mentioned letters home that I don’t know anything about your life before you came to Atlantis,” Sheppard admitted, moving to stand just a short distance away from me. “I thought it might make you feel more comfortable telling me about you if I shared a little of my past.”
“Well it doesn’t,” I retorted, turning my back to him. “You want to know? Fine. I never knew my parents, grew up in foster care moving from family to family because I was never good enough to be adopted. As soon as I was old enough I went out on my own. I couldn’t work out what I wanted to do with my life though so I just drifted from place to place doing whatever jobs I could get. Never stayed anywhere long enough to make friends. End of story.”
“I’m sorry,” Major Sheppard said quietly, putting his hands on my shoulders and squeezing gently. I tried to shrug him off but as usual found that he could be pretty persistent when he wanted something.
“I’m sorry you never found your place back on Earth, never found people who could appreciate you.” I snorted in disbelief at that last bit. Major Sheppard turned me around so he could see my expression. “You have a place here,” he said it with firm resolve, “and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it’s never taken away from you.”
My eyes began to water as I registered the commitment he was making to look after me. Leaning my head against his chest I whispered a grateful thank you. I felt him kiss the top of my head as he held me, circling a hand over my back as he patiently waited for me to get myself back together.
“Happy now?” I finally asked, pulling away from him and swiping an embarrassed hand across the tears still on my face.
“Not quite,” Sheppard drawled. “But I’m getting there.”
“Good for you,” I quipped, trying to put some emotional distance between us. “I need to get back to this so if there’s nothing else ...”
“I’m going,” he said.
I went back to my work with a lighter heart, and a smile on my face.
Chapter 26: You have Wraith DNA
I spent pretty much all my time in the Wraith weapons room after that, including sneaking back during the night when everyone believed I was sleeping. I had finished translating all the symbols and felt I should fill Dr Weir, Dr McKay and Major Sheppard in on what I’d learnt. I have to say it was a little daunting to be in the briefing room for the first time and have everyone’s eyes on me, waiting for me to speak.
“Dr McKay was right,” I smiled at his smug grin. “The weapon is based on finding a specific frequency for the Wraith. Unfortunately it doesn’t say how to find that frequency ... the only reason I can think of for that is that it was something so obvious they didn’t feel the need to write it down.”
“As we’ve already seen, the ancients weren’t that good at writing down instructions for any of their technology – we’re lucky there are schematics at all, even if they’re woefully incomplete.” Rodney said scathingly.
“I’ve hooked up a laptop to the device,” Rodney continued. “Dr Beckett thinks he can use the Wraith samples he got from our captive in combination with the machine – it would mean a process of trial and error to alter the position of each block on the device until it seems like we have a match.” Rodney shook his head as he admitted “there are millions of combinations of positions for those blocks and what’s worse you change one position which gets you closer but then when you change another it messes up what you had and you end up further away. It’s not looking good.”
“So we can’t use the weapon?” Dr Weir asked.
“Not exactly,” I disagreed, deliberately not looking anywhere near Major Sheppard. I knew he was not going to like the next bit. “The device was meant to be operated by ‘the chosen’,” I emphasised that title. “From what ancient Elizabeth said it’s safe to assume that I qualify for that position. I think it’s worth the risk for me to reconnect with the machine like I did before and attempt to get it running.”
“No way,” Major Sheppard’s protest was immediate. “That machine almost killed you the first time and you want to go sticking your hands on it again?”
“I wasn’t prepared last time! Besides, I don’t think it’s up to you Major,” I stated, looking to Elizabeth for support. “Three hive ships will be here in less than a week – the time for caution is over! We need every advantage we can get and the ancients meant that weapon to be the final defence of Atlantis!”
“I don’t care,” Major Sheppard said hotly. “You’re not doing it!”
“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do,” I almost yelled.
“Sabina! Major! Please!” Dr Weir broke in. “While I appreciate your willingness to try this Sabina, for the moment I agree with Major Sheppard. We have no way of knowing what that machine is capable of and until I see something concrete to show me we won’t end up blowing ourselves up instead of the Wraith I don’t think we can risk it. Yes we’re running out of time, and yes we may want to revise that if things get a lot more desperate, but we’re not there yet. For the time being I suggest you keep studying the device without touching it. If you can show me that you know exactly how it’s going to work then, and only then, will I reconsider.”
“Okay,” I said to Dr Weir reluctantly. “I’ll keep studying, and try to understand more about the device.”
The meeting was clearly over so I jumped up to get out the door as quickly as possible
“Sabina,” Major Sheppard’s voice stopped me in my tracks. “A word please.”
“I’ll give you a word,” I said in a low tone, waiting for the others to leave. “How about arrogant arse!”
“That’s two words,” he pointed out. “Here’s a word for you though – reckless!”
“I’m not reckless,” I denied his accusation. “But I can’t sit around enjoying your protection when I know there’s something I can do to help.”
“I’m not saying you should, just that you shouldn’t be so quick to rush in before you know the full situation.” Major Sheppard insisted. “I ... Yes Carson?” he was interrupted by the Doctor on his radio.
“I need to see you immediately,” Dr Beckett said, “and Sabina as well.”
“Okay Doc,” Sheppard agreed. “We’ll be right there.”
With a sick feeling of dread I had the sudden realisation that things were about to get much worse.
”Major, Sabina,” Dr Beckett greeted us. “Thanks for coming down.” His whole demeanour came off as somewhat nervous, a view Major Sheppard seemed to share.
“What’s wrong Carson,” he asked.
“Well, as you know, we found out yesterday that Teyla has some Wraith DNA,” he began.
I looked at Major Sheppard with a raised eyebrow. “I was gonna tell you,” he insisted.
“It was easy to miss – not surprising given I had no way of making the necessary comparison between Teyla’s DNA and Wraith DNA.” Dr Beckett continued. “It was the information you brought back from that planet that made it possible to identify.”
“I know all this Carson,” Sheppard protested. “Get to the point.”
“Okay,” Dr Beckett said reluctantly. “It struck me this morning that there was something familiar about the strands I’ve isolated as being Wraith. I’ve seen them before,” Carson looked at me uncertainly, “in your DNA Sabina.”
“How’s that even possible?” Major Sheppard reacted. “Sabina’s not from the Pegasus galaxy – she’s never even seen a Wraith!”
“I can’t explain it Major,” Dr Beckett said. “But there is no doubt. There are a few differences but the match is close enough it can only be Wraith DNA. Sabina has additional rogue DNA I still haven’t identified but some of hers is definitely Wraith.”
“I think I can explain it,” I said in a small voice. “It’s here somewhere in my notes,” I thumbed through the pages I still had with me from the meeting with Dr Weir. “I worked out pretty quickly that the machine was keyed to a specific subset of the ancients, much like the rest of their technology except not only was the ATA gene required but something additional as well.”
I looked down at my notes and read “The chosen gave themselves up as tainted to make the necessary connection for the final protection of Atlantis”. I stopped reading and looked up to judge their reaction. “I thought it meant that it was some naturally occurring degradation in DNA they took advantage of in designing the weapon but it wasn’t that at all. Some of them willingly submitted themselves to be genetically altered – obviously with Wraith DNA. They never got the chance to activate the weapon and the few remaining chosen retreated through the gate to Earth with the rest of the population. They passed on those Wraith genes much the same as the ATA gene has been passed on.”
“Aye, that makes sense,” Dr Beckett agreed.
“Teyla can sense the Wraith,” Major Sheppard commented. “If Sabina has Wraith DNA too, how come she can’t do that?”
“I’ve never been anywhere near a Wraith,” I reminded him. “Maybe I could sense them if I were close enough and I knew what I was looking for.”
“What about that day the dart flew over Atlantis – did you sense anything then?” Sheppard persisted.
“I was a long way from its flight path,” I pointed out, trying to think back to that day. “I recall feeling a little dizzy and hearing a buzzing in my ears, but it quickly passed once I re-established my sensor block.”
“Well,” Dr Beckett commented. “From the sounds of that it seems that maybe you could sense the Wraith if you were close enough and you weren’t shielding yourself.”
That made sense – the mental blanket I placed over myself was a barrier between me and detection. Clearly that could work both ways, making it hard for me to detect anything as well.
“I don’t think you should start experimenting trying to sense the Wraith,” Major Sheppard cautioned me. “Teyla’s been doing this since she was a child.”
“I wasn’t going to,” I denied distractedly. Thoughts were zooming through my brain as I realised the implication. I had Wraith DNA which meant I had it within myself to tune in the Wraith frequency for the weapon. I was sure the hand controls were the way in which the individual blocks should be set. I just had to work out how I was going to control the device for long enough to put the frequency into place.
I found out later that day that Teyla had managed to connect with a Wraith and learnt that they were coming here as the only means of making it to Earth and a new rich feeding ground. Time was running out.
Chapter 27: In the end it will be Major Sheppard's decision
Things started to move very fast after that. Dr McKay headed out to the LaGrange satellite weapons platform – our main hope for defeating the three hive ships before they even got to Atlantis.
Major Sheppard took the rest of his team out to look for a new alpha site for the evacuation. I didn’t want to leave Atlantis and hoped that it wouldn’t come to that. It saddened me too that our backup plan was to destroy Atlantis to prevent the Wraith from getting their hands on it.
While Sheppard was off world I gathered together my notes and research with the plan of showing Dr Weir that using the weapon was a viable option, should the satellite prove ineffective.
“Sorry to interrupt,” I apologised as I walked in to Dr Weir’s office. “Do you have a minute?”
“What can I do for you Sabina?” Dr Weir asked.
“I wanted to talk to you some more about the Wraith weapon,” I said. “I’ve done all I can to work out a plan for using it and I think it’s viable.”
“Okay,” Dr Weir said. “What’s your plan?”
“Well,” I began. “The ancients deliberately altered themselves with Wraith DNA and it seems pretty clear from the writings in the weapon room that it was an essential part of the weapons design – obviously so they could tune the weapon specifically to the Wraith alone. The references to the ‘hands of the chosen’ make it clear that the hand pads were the way the ancient operator was supposed to key in the frequency. If it was as simple as just putting in a frequency then the ancients could have just pre-programmed it. I think that the Wraith DNA was needed so the operator could do what Teyla has been doing – actually connect to a Wraith ship. The machine would then connect to that Wraith presence, take the frequency needed, and set off the weapon.” I paused to take a breath, surprised that Dr Weir hadn’t interrupted me so far.
“The weapon creates an energy vortex ... when the power has built up enough it shoots out an energy beam to encompass the whole city that will destroy every living thing it passes through,” I said. “The key factor is the frequency – it only destroys living things corresponding to that frequency. The range of the weapon is limited too – it’ll take out any Wraith in the city as well as any in orbit but nothing beyond that. The ancients were still working on a way to take the effect throughout the whole galaxy. The weapon was being constructed at the height of the siege against Atlantis - their resources were divided to such a point that they were forced to abandon the city before they solved the problem.”
“Did you determine how the weapon is actually operated?” Dr Weir asked.
“The ancient gene is required so there’s a mental effort necessary to control the weapon,” I said. “The Wraith gene is required to connect to nearby Wraith to get the frequency so that’s about mental control too.”
“So you believe with sufficient mental control of both your ancient and Wraith genes, you’ll be able to operate the weapon successfully?” Dr Weir confirmed her understanding of what I was proposing.
“Yes,” I confirmed. “Teyla has made progress on connecting to the Wraith – she could teach me how to do that. As for the ancient gene ... I’ve been practising for hours every day and I believe I’ve attained the level of control necessary to make sure the power doesn’t overload like last time.”
“Didn’t Rodney say that the possible results of activating the weapon were too unpredictable to make the risk worthwhile?” Dr Weir questioned.
“From what's written on the walls in that room, the Ancients meant the weapon to be used to defend the city - they wouldn't have done that if the weapon was dangerous to Atlantis. I can do this Dr Weir,” I stated firmly. “I’m willing to put in the effort necessary to make sure I can control the outcome.”
“Okay,” Dr Weir acknowledged that statement, clearly thinking over her options before coming to a decision. “Work with Teyla on finding a safe way to connect to the Wraith. If that goes well, and if the Wraith get close enough to the city to make the weapon useful, then we’ll decide if we’re ready to pursue using it.”
“Thank you Dr Weir,” I said with relief.
“Don’t thank me yet Sabina,” Dr Weir cautioned. ““If the Wraith get that close to the city the military will be fully in charge – in the end it will be Major Sheppard’s decision as to whether we actually deploy the weapon. I suggest you work out how you’re going to convince him you’re ready to do this.”
Authors Note: Timing wise, from what I can work out, Season One of Atlantis and Season 8 of SG1 are sort of happening at the same time - hence Dakara hadn't happened and being cut off from Earth when it does happen Atlantis wouldn't know about it (and so wouldn't know to use the Stargates to spread the effect of the weapon). I also think the Ancients in redesiging the weapon would have thought to make it much harder for it to be used for anything other than it's intended purpose.
Chapter 28: Shouldn’t we be able to connect to each other?
I spent the rest of that day thinking over how to approach Major Sheppard. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and I didn’t have a clear plan but when I heard that Sheppard was back from the latest alpha site mission I decided to tackle the problem straight away. Using the sensors I asked Atlantis to tell me where Major Sheppard was and determined he was in the commissary – it was dinner time so maybe I could have just worked that one out by myself.
Finding a specific person using the sensors was another new skill I’d acquired recently. Unfortunately it required me to know how a person ‘felt’ to Atlantis so it was only useful for people with the gene that I’d previously done some kind of exercise with the sensors on. That meant only the Major and Dr Beckett at this stage.
“Is this seat taken?” I asked Major Sheppard – he was sitting alone reading a report while he ate his dinner.
“I already spoke to Weir and the answer is no,” Sheppard replied without even looking up at me.
“How can you say that?” I asked in a frustrated voice, sitting down in the chair opposite him. “At least give me the chance to explain what I’ve learned!”
“Won’t matter,” Sheppard said, finally looking at me. “It’s too dangerous. You’re not doing it.”
“You are the most annoying ... arrogant ... annoying ... man!” I almost growled. “I bet if it was a machine that you could operate you’d be all over it no matter what the danger was!”
“Maybe,” he conceded, pinning me with an intense look. “But it’d be my job to do that to protect all the people under my charge and under my command. It’s your job to help the science department with ancient translations and technologies – not to recklessly risk your life on something with such an uncertain outcome. Besides, McKay is on his way to that weapons satellite right now. That thing is supposed to be capable of wiping out all three hive ships so we might not even need the Wraith weapon.”
“How likely is it that Rodney will get that satellite fully operational?” I allowed myself to be momentarily sidetracked.
“Okay, it’s a bit of a long shot,” Sheppard admitted. “It’s been out there for 10,000 years and McKay wasn’t sure that power was even the problem. Dr Weir has the evacuation and self destruct plan as our fall back.”
“So you’d rather see Atlantis destroyed that let me do what I know I can do?” I asked in disbelief.
“You haven’t shown me anything to convince me using that weapon is even possible,” Major Sheppard protested. “I’m not willing to jeopardise anyone’s safety on what frankly looks like an extreme long shot at best!”
“Dr Weir is allowing me to work with Teyla,” I said. “If I can prove that I can control a connection with the Wraith to her satisfaction, will you reconsider?”
“Dr Weir told me she was letting you do that,” Major Sheppard leant forward, resting his hands close to my own but not touching me. “And I told her that I didn’t agree with that decision and that it wouldn’t impact on the decision I’d already made not to make use of the Wraith weapon.”
“What if it was someone else?” I asked, changing tact. “What if we found someone else who had the ATA gene and the Wraith gene? Would you let them do it?”
Major Sheppard looked away as I asked that question, rubbing a hand over his forehead as though I were giving him a headache. I could almost see him trying to come up with a logical way around that one. “If they were in the military then maybe, and I do mean maybe, I might be willing to let them have a go if the situation were dire enough,” he admitted.
“Okay, then I’ll enlist,” I threw out that challenge.
“No you won’t!” Major Sheppard protested. “There is no situation I can think of where I’d willingly agree for you to be under my command again.”
“Why the hell not?” I argued heatedly. “If I enlisted then it would be my job to take whatever steps were necessary to protect Atlantis!”
“You know why not,” Major Sheppard’s voice was full of all the things still left unspoken between us. “Besides, I don’t have the power to accept enlisting personnel here – you’d have to go back to Earth for that and we know that’s not possible so forget about it.”
“But,” I began, trying to keep the discussion open.
“That’s enough!” Major Sheppard interrupted. “It’s been a long day and I still haven’t found a suitable planet for the alpha site. I’m not in the mood to argue with you.”
“Fine!” I almost shouted as I jumped up from the table. “I can see my petty little problems aren’t of interest to you right now so I’ll go and take them somewhere else.”
“Sabina,” I heard Sheppard call out as I made a hasty retreat. I didn’t look back.
It was so frustrating to believe so completely what your role was meant to be and have no one else support that. I was sure that I could do what was required in spite of what Major Sheppard thought. I had permission from Dr Weir to proceed up to a certain point – I didn’t need the Major’s permission for that. And so I decided to ignore what Sheppard had said and do everything I needed to do so that if it came down to it, I would be ready to use the weapon.
Teyla was somewhat reluctant to assist me with making a connection to the Wraith, despite having told Dr Weir she would do what she could.
“It is dangerous and draining,” she informed me when I asked her later that evening if we could begin. “I am not sure it is wise to attempt this type of connection when the need is not crucial. The Wraith could take control of you instead and gain valuable information to use against Atlantis.”
That was a valid point – I didn’t want to do anything to risk alerting the Wraith to the presence of possibly the only weapon capable of destroying them en masse.
“Could you train me yourself?” I asked, having a different idea.
“I am not sure what you mean,” Teyla admitted with a puzzled frown.
“You have the Wraith gene,” I pointed out, “and so do I. Shouldn’t we be able to connect to each other?”
“I had not thought of that,” Teyla was intrigued by the idea. “I believe you are correct – a connection such as the Wraith use should be possible between us.”
“Okay,” I said with a smile. “Progress! Let’s go talk to Dr Beckett so we can get started.”
“It is late and Dr Beckett informed me that you have not been sleeping well,” Teyla said firmly. “I suggest we both get a good night’s rest and begin in the morning.”
“I’m fine,” I protested. “The Wraith could be here any time – we need to hurry before it’s too late.”
“Connecting with the Wraith requires strong mental concentration,” Teyla stated, “the type that can only be achieved after sufficient rest.”
I knew how futile it would be to argue with her – Teyla was very determined and seldom gave way when she had set her mind on a course of action.
“Okay,” I reluctantly agreed. “Thank you for agreeing to help.”
“I will meet you in the infirmary at 8 am,” Teyla took her leave with a serene smile in my direction.
I thought about going back to the weapons room to check out a few things but decided that perhaps Teyla was right and I did need the rest. The fact that I spotted Major Sheppard heading towards me from the direction I would have had to take to get there had nothing to do with it. Honest.
Chapter 29: What ever happened to 'Stay Positive?
The next morning I awoke feeling much better than I had in a while. Thank you Teyla! After a quick breakfast on the run I rushed down to the infirmary to talk to Dr Beckett. Teyla had not arrived yet - I noticed Sergeant Bates in one of the beds and looked over at Dr Beckett with a raised eyebrow.
“He was beaten pretty badly,” Dr Beckett admitted. “There’s some suspicion that Teyla might have had something to do with it.”
“Teyla would never do that!” I denied the possibility.
“I know lass,” Dr Beckett agreed. “We’re waiting on some test results – I should know more by the end of the day.”
Teyla rushed in at that point, apologising for being late. Sheppard and Ford had met with her in her quarters about Sergeant Bates and had delayed her in the process.
“John wouldn’t believe you had anything to do with this,” I assured her.
“I hope not,” Teyla acknowledged before adding “Shall we begin?”
“Can you hook us up so you can break the connection if this actually works and we get into trouble?” I asked Carson.
“Aye,” Dr Beckett agreed readily. He got us set up on two adjacent beds and hooked up the sensors.
“Are you ready?” I asked Teyla. We had agreed that I would attempt to make a connection to her using the method she had described to me. If I made a connection Teyla would then attempt to reverse it and get into my mind instead. My job would be to resist that.
“Proceed Sabina,” Teyla said softly, relaxing against her pillow. “I am ready.”
It was the strangest feeling to send my mind out and into someone else’s head. Teyla’s instructions were effective and I made the initial connection with ease. I had thought the sensation would be similar to what I felt when I used ancient technology and although it was, my experience there didn’t help me. Apart from getting the sense of how controlled and ordered her mind was, that first connection was so brief it was over before it began. I felt Teyla invade my mind almost immediately and tried to put up a block so that she couldn’t take control. At first I could block her but the mental effort required was extreme and I began to tire. Before my block could crumble completely, Teyla released me and I opened my eyes to see Dr Beckett looking at me curiously.
“Did it work?” he asked, almost excited.
“It did,” Teyla said. “Sabina was able to make the connection with ease; however she must develop more mental strength if she is to stop a Wraith from taking control.”
“What Teyla means is that I was barely able to hold the connection for a second before she took over,” I admitted with a self deprecating laugh. “How effective was the block I put up?” I asked curiously.
“Although it was complete to start with,” Teyla shifted to look at me closely, “it became less so as you tired. I was able to gain some access to your thoughts.”
“Oh,” I said. “Anything interesting in there?” I tried to lighten the suddenly tense mood descending on the infirmary.
“You need not worry Sabina,” Teyla reassured me. “I will not divulge anything I might learn during our practice.”
Okay, that just made me more worried. What was I unwittingly giving away by making myself vulnerable to her and did I want Teyla to know that much about me?
“Shall we try again?” Teyla broke into my thoughts.
“Huh? Oh right, yes – lets.” I replied, worrying about the things I didn’t want anyone to know while at the same time trying not to worry about them. My head was already beginning to hurt.
We practised for hours that day and by the end of it I had a massive headache but also a sense of achievement. By our last attempt I was able to hold my block indefinitely and Teyla agreed that with further practice I would be able to stop her from taking over the connection. Dr Beckett said that my many hours controlling the ancient technology would have strengthened my mind and that I just had to learn new ways to resist mental attack – something I wasn’t used to because ... well Atlantis liked me and would never attack me!
Unfortunately my practice with Teyla was cut short. Dr Beckett had proven her innocence in the attack on Sergeant Bates – by proving there was a Wraith in the city! Teyla rushed out immediately to assist in its capture.
Although the idea of practicing on a real Wraith was momentarily attractive I knew we couldn’t risk giving anything away and we had no idea how much the Wraith had communicated to its ship. The fact that a Wraith had been in the city for two weeks freaked me out ... knowing that Teyla and Major Sheppard were out there hunting it down scared me even more. I was tired and had to make a more conscious effort to keep my sensor blocks in place.
Waiting it out in my quarters, I paced back and forth as I anxiously prayed that no one would get hurt. It was Dr Beckett who let me know that the Wraith had been apprehended - Major Sheppard had been stunned with the Wraith weapon and was recovering in the infirmary. I stopped in briefly and was relieved to see John sleeping peacefully – good enough for me to retire back to my room to sleep as well. I had a feeling it might be a while before we’d get the chance for a full night’s sleep again.
Early the next morning I headed straight for the infirmary only to find that Major Sheppard had already left to interrogate the Wraith prisoner. I was still there when we heard the news that Rodney’s team had got the satellite up and running just in time to confront the hive ships. I cheered with the infirmary staff as it was broadcast that one of the hive ships had been destroyed. And I despaired at the news that the satellite had been destroyed with no further kills, carrying away Peter Grodin in its destruction.
The mood on Atlantis was bleak as we all came to the realisation that we were out of options, a point that was slammed home when we all heard Dr Weir’s city wide announcement.
“May I have your attention, please? This is Doctor Weir. Our plan to stop the Wraith armada has failed. They will make it to Atlantis. Therefore we must begin our evacuation plans. I wish I could tell you all that this is a fight that we will win, but I can't do that. I wish I could tell you that we will find a safe harbour when we leave here. I can't promise you that either. I can tell you this: up to now, you all have accomplished extraordinary things, and I believe that even in the face of an uncertain future, as long as we stay together we have a chance to continue to do so. Now, we all have our evacuation duties, so thank you -- and I'll see you on the other side.”
So that was it ... I wouldn’t get the chance to even try to use the Wraith weapon because we would have evacuated long before the hive ships were within range. I was upset that we’d be responsible for the destruction of a city that had stood firm for 10,000 years but deep inside a small part of me was relieved that the decision was out of my hands, that I was no longer under pressure to operate a weapon even the ancients had hesitated to use.
I had plenty to do before the evacuation but I decided food should be the first priority, especially as I was kind of hoping I’d run into Major Sheppard or Teyla in the commissary. My mood lifted when I spotted both of them at their usual table. The rest of Atlantis was already buzzing with activity only a couple of hours after Weir’s announcement so I wasn’t surprised to see the room was otherwise deserted. It would take the rest of the day and some of the night before the evacuation would be complete.
“Are you okay?” I asked, not directing my question specifically at either one of them as I sat down across from Sheppard.
“We are all fine,” Teyla reassured me.
“And the Wraith?” I asked hesitantly. I could sense that something wasn’t right but was it really my place to question them?
“Dead,” Sheppard said in such a way that I knew he had been the one to kill it and that I would be getting nothing more of the story from him.
“I will leave you now,” Teyla said unexpectedly, rising from her chair. “The mornings events have been ... unsettling. I am sorry we did not get the chance to practice more Sabina but I have much to do before the time to evacuate is upon us,” she added before leaving the Major and me alone.
“Is everything really okay?” I asked softly. “I mean apart from the fact that the Wraith are coming and the 10,000 year old piece of technology we were relying on is out of the equation?”
“What ever happened to ‘Stay Positive’?” Major Sheppard looked at me with a slight smile, already appearing to put the events of the morning behind him.
“It’s been a long week,” I excused myself. “Do you want to hear about my progress?”
“Not particularly,” Sheppard admitted. “Teyla filled me in on the basics anyway,” he added.
“Oh ... right ... of course.” I said, realising we were now alone in the commissary. “I should probably start packing myself,” I added, making no attempt to move.
“How’s the headache?” Sheppard looked at me closely.
“How did you know I had a headache?” I asked incredulously. I’d had one since yesterday’s practice with Teyla but I thought I was better at hiding things than that.
“Your eyes,” he admitted. “The brown kinda goes greenish when you get angry, or upset ... or when you’ve been doing too much of the mental control stuff.”
“That’s very observant of you Major,” I said stiffly, not sure how I felt about that. A silence fell over us as neither of us made any attempt to leave. It was kind of nice just sitting there quietly, enjoying his presence in a way I hadn’t done since the whole Chaya incident.
“Sabina,” he broke the silence to ask softly. “Do you think you could do one thing for me?”
“What?” I asked just as quietly.
“Call me John.”
“Okay,” I agreed easily. “But that doesn’t mean I've given up on getting you to let me use the Wraith weapon.”
“I never for a second thought it did,” he drawled. “Walk me to my room?” he stood and held out a hand to me.
“Okay,” I took his hand and let him pull me up from my seat.
John kept a hold of my hand after we were both standing and I didn’t protest. We walked the busy halls of Atlantis hand in hand, neither one of us compelled to speak. A strange mood had descended upon us – I felt very keenly that old bond between us but for once it didn’t frighten me. The Wraith were coming and it seemed wrong that the petty things that had kept us apart should remain a barrier between us.
When we arrived at John’s door, he turned and looked at me intently. I gazed back at him, trying to convey my acceptance of the question I knew he was asking. Coming to an agreement without speaking, he opened his door and we both walked inside.
It was so familiar to be in his arms again, but at the same time so different. We had both changed ... grown, especially me ... in our time apart and that was reflected in how we came together. We had an unspoken agreement that we wouldn’t talk of our feelings or any of the things that had held us back. In fact we hardly spoke at all.
The same heated urgency and need overtook us as it had in the past, even more so because I think at the back of both our minds was the thought that this might be the last time we would have the chance to do this. I let down my guard more than I ever had and as a consequence felt that deep connection, that electric jolt, I’d always felt with him down to my very soul. Emotion and passion enveloped us - it was over in an instant that was an eternity.
After, as I lay cradled in John’s strong arms, I promised myself that soon I would work out what this thing was between us. But for now I would just enjoy it, enjoy that feeling of being safe. I knew the future was uncertain but that just made me gladder that I’d had one more chance to be with John.
Chapter 30: You are relieved!
John only allowed himself an hours rest before he insisted on going back to the control room. Kissing me in farewell he reminded me that I should pack my things up as quickly as possible and get to my designated evacuation group.
I had offered to pack up his stuff and did so quickly before returning to my room to do the same. When the evacuation plans were being drawn up I had managed to justify my need to be in the last evacuation group – although to be honest I think Dr Weir saw through my arguments to the fact that I didn’t want to leave unless John was leaving too. There was no point in doing anything more with the Wraith weapon so I made myself useful packing the equipment for safe transport.
The time passed quickly and before I knew it I was being instructed to make my way to the gate room. I stood with my group, looking up at the control room. John was up there and it reminded me of that first day when I’d arrived and first laid eyes on him. Who would have thought that it would end like this?
The Stargate began its dialling sequence but before it could complete an incoming wormhole took over. The marines herded us to one side as the shield was lowered and four marines stepped through. I watched as John ran down the steps with Dr Weir and Lt Ford to meet them. More marines were coming through the gate, some wheeling large boxes of equipment. I edged a little closer so I could hear what was being said.
“Colonel Dillon Everett, United States Marine Corps,” the leader crisply stated.
“You should know ...” Dr Weir began.
“General O'Neill sends his compliments on a job well done under extraordinary circumstances,” Everett interrupted her to state. He saluted her before continuing. “You are relieved.”
“Sir, we're about to evacuate,” John informed him.
“Without a fight!” Everett stated in disbelief.
“Yes, sir!” John confirmed.
“On my order,” Dr Weir pointed out.
“That evacuation order is rescinded,” Everett stated. He looked around the Gateroom before asking “I assume you've armed the self destruct device?”
“Sir, what happened, as Doctor Weir was trying to tell you ...” John tried again to explain the situation to Colonel Everett but he really didn’t seem to be interested in hearing anything but the sound of his own voice.
“I am gonna need you to disarm it immediately,” he interrupted again.
“Hold on a second, Colonel -- I don't think you fully grasp our situation here,” Dr Weir had her own go at getting the Colonel to listen to them.
“You have three Wraith hive ships bearing down on your position and precious little to defend yourselves with,” Everett stated with no emotion. “That about sum it up?”
“You got our message!” Dr McKay spoke up for the first time since the marines had arrived.
“We got your message,” Everett confirmed.
“It's down to two hive ships. We managed to destroy one of them,” Dr Weir reported.
“Good for you!” Everett congratulated Dr Weir condescendingly. “That should make my job a little easier.” He started to head up the steps to the control room but no one else moved.
“What exactly is your job, sir?” John asked.
“I should think that would be obvious to you by now, Major,” Everett said. “We are going to defend Atlantis at all costs.”
The marines were moving us away from the gate room so I didn’t get to hear the rest of the conversation. I couldn’t believe it – Stargate Command had sent through reinforcements! Atlantis would get another chance for survival and the Wraith weapon was now back on the table. I would need another chance to prove that the it should be deployed in the defence of the city. I had no intention of approaching the arrogant Colonel Everett myself but perhaps Dr Weir could be convinced to raise it as an option. John wouldn’t be happy but since he was no longer the ranking officer the final decision was no longer his.
John found me in my quarters late that night. I hugged him tight before pulling away to get a better look at him. I could tell that the hour or so he’d spent with the new leader of Atlantis had not gone how he would have liked.
“Can you stay?” I asked him up front, already suspecting what the answer would be.
“No,” he admitted, smoothing his hand down my pony tail absently. “Too much to do ... and I’m not gonna put you in a position for criticism from someone who clearly has no interest in hearing about the way things are here.”
“He was a bit arrogant, wasn’t he?” I commented as John went to stand looking out at the ocean surrounding Atlantis.
“He doesn’t like me,” John said it like a statement of fact. I knew he had enough experience with the prejudiced opinions of commanding officers after his ‘black mark’ in Afghanistan to know he wasn’t just imagining it.
“He doesn’t know you,” I pointed out – all that really needed to be said under those circumstances. “Can they defend Atlantis?”
“If the Colonel actually listens to people like Dr McKay then maybe,” John replied, turning away from the window to look back at me. “But it won’t be easy. A ZPM to power the shields is on its way on the Daedalus but it won’t get here for 4 days – we have to hold Atlantis until then.”
“With what?” I asked incredulously.
“Six naqahdah enhanced nuclear warheads, twelve hundred megatons apiece,” John replied with a faint smile. “Apparently they emit almost zero EM and are otherwise invisible to radar. The plan is to deploy them in space and then detonate them by proximity fuse. They’ve also got some rail guns for close in fighting.”
“I’m not sure what all that means,” I admitted, “but it sounds pretty good!”
“They’ve brought a new naqahdah generator for the command chair too” John added. “McKay will need to hook it up and test it tomorrow – can you help with that?”
“Okay,” I agreed. “What will you be doing?”
“Teaching marines how to fly the jumpers ... planting nuclear warheads in space ... you know, the usual.” John tried to lighten the mood.
“Be careful,” I said quietly.
“I’m always careful,” he gave the standard reply. “You be careful too.” He moved towards the door and I knew his visit was almost up.
“Can I at least have a kiss before you go?” I asked, moving in front of the door to block his path.
He put his arms around me and kissed me, lifting me up and squeezing me tight as he turned us around so that he was in front of the door. The kiss took on a life of its own as all kisses we shared seemed to do. John pulled away after a few enjoyable moments and smoothed his hand down my hair again, resting his forehead against mine.
“Get some sleep,” he instructed before turning and leaving the room.
Yeah, like that was gonna happen!
Chapter 31: What is it with the military?
Dr McKay and Dr Zelenka had successfully installed the new Mark 2 naqahdah generator to the weapons chair platform by mid morning and called me down to assist them in powering it up. I looked at the command chair in apprehension – it looked like a throne crisscrossed with lines in no obvious pattern. Each arm rest had embedded at the end of it something that looked like a gel pack you’d use for a sports injury.
“What do I do?” I asked a bit apprehensively.
“Listen to me very carefully,” Rodney’s voice was stern and purposeful. “Do exactly what I tell you to do and hopefully no-one will get hurt.”
“That’s not reassuring me Rodney,” I said nervously.
“When you sit down all you have to do is concentrate on powering up the chair -- nothing else, nothing more, nothing but.” Rodney instructed. “Don’t worry though - it’s likely that nothing will happen anyway. Only General O’Neill and Major Sheppard have been able to get a command chair powered up just by sitting in it.”
“Okay, so no pressure then!” I carefully lowered myself into the chair, placing my hands on the arm rest pads. Immediately the chair lit up with bright blue light, at the same time reclining me so that my eyes seemed directed towards the ceiling. McKay and Zelenka looked at me in astonishment; Rodney bent his head down, looking at various readouts on his laptop.
“Good. Good. Good. And ... oh no.” Rodney said with a sick look on his face.
“What? Did I do something wrong?” I asked nervously.
Without replying, Rodney pulled the connecting cable out of his laptop and ran out of the room. Zelenka walked over to me with an apologetic look.
“So, see? Nothing to worry about.”
I was about to respond when Rodney walked back into view and told Dr Zelenka to get me out of the chair, before turning and hurrying away again.
“What was that all about?” I asked, grabbing the hand Dr Zelenka held out to me to pull me out of the chair. The chair powered down as soon as I was no longer sitting in it.
“I have no idea,” Zelenka admitted, “but with Rodney this is not unusual.”
“I’ll just go make myself busy somewhere else then,” I said. “Call me if you need me back here.”
My first stop was to check in with Teyla and see if she had time for another ‘Wraith mind control’ training session that afternoon. Apparently Colonel Everett had asked her to stay out of the way and she was more than happy to help me right there and then.
Our session went well – after a couple of hours I was able to fully block her attempts to take over and I didn’t have anywhere near as big a headache as I’d had the first time. I felt confident that if I had to I could get what I needed from the Wraith without giving them the chance to take me over. I shared a surprisingly (given the dire situation we found ourselves in) enjoyable dinner with Teyla that was marred only by the absence of Major Sheppard. I hadn’t heard from him all day and could only assume his new duties with Colonel Everett were keeping him too busy to leave time for anything personal.
It was late evening but I wanted to see Dr Weir before I turned in about the possibility of telling Colonel Everett of the Wraith weapon room. She was looking at something with Rodney in the control room and I hesitated to interrupt.
“Sabina,” Dr Weir noticed me before I could make a quiet exit.
“Dr Weir,” I hesitated. “Do you have a minute?”
“Come to my office,” she gestured for me to precede her from the control room.
“I can guess what this is about,” Dr Weir pre-empted me, “and I don’t think now is the time. The warheads were detonated by a meteor field sent by the Wraith, and our sensors have been blind for hours.”
“Then wouldn’t the Colonel be looking for other options?” I asked, feeling a bit sick that the big plan to defend Atlantis had been so easily thwarted by the Wraith.
“The Colonel is a man who seems ... committed to his own course of action,” Dr Weir said diplomatically. “His ego has suffered a major blow here - I don’t think he’d be receptive to a civilian coming in with a different plan to defeat the Wraith.”
“What is it with the military?” I cursed their attitude that suggested civilians could never come up with something as good as their own plans.
“Aren’t you involved quite ... closely with ‘the military’?” Dr Weir teased me.
“That makes me uniquely qualified to comment,” I said cheekily, not minding her reference to my relationship with John. “Will you at least promise to bring up the Wraith weapon if the timing seems right?”
“That I can do” she agreed. “Thank you for your help with the command chair this morning,” she said, changing the subject.
“No problem,” I said. “What was that all about anyway? Rodney just ran out of the room without telling me anything.”
“The chair is almost out of drones,” Dr Weir frowned. “The remaining drones will help us in the short term but it won’t be enough to take out a hive ship.”
“Is it just me or does it seem to you like everything is deliberately working against us?” I asked in frustration.
“It does seem like that,” Dr Weir agreed. “We have to remain positive that the Daedalus will arrive in time to help us.”
Before we could say anything else an alarm sounded from the control room and Elizabeth ran from her office to see what was happening. I followed her into the control room in time to hear that the first waves of Wraith darts were heading for the city.
It was all bustle and activity after that announcement. I lingered in the control room trying to stay out of the way as teams deployed at the rail gun positions went into action. I knew that Major Sheppard would be in the command chair trying to make the most of the last drones. Within minutes it was all over, with the last Wraith dart destroyed by the last drone. Although there was a sense of relief that we had survived the first attack there was also a sense of dread. Many of our resources had been used already and it was a sure thing that those hive ships could send down hundreds more darts than we could ever defeat, especially now we no longer had drones to help us.
With nothing else to do I went back to my room to try to get some sleep, hoping that John was doing the same.
Chapter 32: Back at you
I was much relieved early the next morning to find John having breakfast in the commissary. His mood was sombre – even if nothing else had, that would certainly have convinced me of the seriousness of our situation.
“Did you get any sleep?” I asked, not really sure what to say to him.
“Some,” John said. “Sorry I didn’t catch up with you yesterday.”
“I didn’t expect you to,” I excused. “I’m surprised you’re even taking the time to eat.”
“Orders,” John admitted. “I’ve got to report to Colonel Everett in the control room in a few minutes – somehow we have to come up with a new plan because the old one is dead in the water.”
“What about ...” I began, intending to suggest he reconsider the Wraith weapon.
“Don’t,” John interrupted me, holding up a hand. “I know the kind of leader Everett is and he’ll never go for it – too uncertain.”
“What’s the harm in making him aware that it’s an option?” I persisted.
“We’re not that desperate yet,” John said.
“We have two Wraith hive ships less than a day away and we’re down to a few rail guns – I can’t see how we’re gonna get much more desperate than this!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, well if the hive ships get here and we still don’t have a plan then I’ll consider the Wraith weapon,” John said it in such a way I knew he didn’t believe that time would ever be upon us.
We continued our breakfast in silence and all too soon our brief respite was over. John stood up to leave but hesitated with a look that said he wanted to ask me something but didn’t know how to do it.
“Would you consider heading out to the alpha site this morning?” he asked after a few seconds pause. I could tell he found it hard to ask me that question and so I gave it genuine thought before replying.
“If I feel like there’s nothing I can do and that I’m just in the way here then I’ll consider it,” I offered. “I’m not promising anything though because I’d much rather stay here, no matter what the danger.”
“Okay,” John agreed. I expected him to head out but again he seemed to hesitate.
“What is it?” I urged him to get whatever it was off his chest.
“You ... ah ... you know how I ah ... feel, right?” John rushed the words out quickly, looking at the ground rather than at me.
“Don’t,” I protested, not even acknowledging his statement. “You are not gonna do some kind of last breathe confession here – everything will work out and then you’ll just be regretting it later!”
“I won’t regret it,” he said with firm surety in his voice.
“Yes you will,” I insisted. “When this is all over, if you still want to tell me whatever it was you were trying, badly I might add, to tell me you can do it then.”
“Fine,” John agreed in amusement. “I have to go ... remember what I said about the alpha site.” I was surprised when he bent down and pressed a hard kiss on my lips before turning and walking away. I didn’t even bother to look around and see who’d witnessed that – I just sat and watched him go.
“John?” I couldn’t resist calling out just before he got to the door. He turned back to look at me with a raised eyebrow.
“Back at you,” I said quickly. He grinned before turning away and disappearing out the door.
I really did intend to consider the whole alpha site evacuation thing but it turned out I was needed after all. I got a call from Dr McKay an hour or so after John had left for his meeting – they needed my help in the chair room.
“Sheppard came up with the brilliant idea of using remote flown puddle jumpers to deliver bombs to the hive ships,” Rodney told me as I rushed in the door. “We need to get the chair and the jumper to talk to each other so Sheppard can use the chair to deliver the bombs when the time comes.”
“How come John isn’t here to help with this himself?” I asked worriedly.
“Because he’s off with the Marines and Teyla’s people chasing the Wraith that beamed down to the city last night during the attack,” Rodney said distractedly, setting up his instruments.
“How many?” I asked sickly, glad I’d been maintaining my sensor block nonstop since I’d begun my practice with Teyla.
“Between 20 and 30,” Dr Zelenka admitted. “Internal sensors are still down but don’t worry – Major Sheppard has the portable sensor units and they’re working fine.”
Don’t worry? Clearly these guys were more than just exhausted if the thought of 20 or 30 Wraith in the city didn’t worry them!
“Are we ready to do this?” Rodney asked impatiently.
“I’m ready,” I said, trying to put the thought of John being in danger to the back of my mind. I sat down in the command chair more confidently than I had yesterday, in part because I knew it was out of drones and I couldn’t do any damage even if I wanted to. The chair lit up immediately and reclined.
“OK, we're in business,” Rodney said. “Head down to the Jumper Bay,” he told Zelenka. “Radio me when you get there.”
Dr Zelenka rushed from the room, leaving me alone with Rodney.
“Is this gonna work?” I asked him quietly.
Rodney walked round to the rear of the dais the chair was mounted on and pulled open an access panel, ignoring me completely.
“Rodney!” I said his name a little louder.
“What?” he questioned me impatiently, looking up from whatever he’d been tinkering with.
“Is ... this .. going ... to work?” I spaced each word out clearly as though talking to a child.
“I am exhausted and starving!” Rodney excused his grumpy behaviour. “The military come in here with their big guns and even bigger plans and when they screw it up they turn to the scientists to fix things!”
“RODNEY!” the irritation in my voice must have gotten through to him.
“I don’t know, okay!” he admitted impatiently. “It should work ... if we can stabilise the connection between the chair and the jumper and if the power holds out ... and if people give me a chance to concentrate instead of asking useless questions!”
“Thank you,” I said, ignoring that last comment.
It took a long time, most of the day in fact, but it was a pretty easy day for me. All I had to do was sit relaxed in the chair while I waited for Rodney to ask me to do something. Zelenka was obviously tinkering with things in the puddle jumper too because every now and then there’d be heated discussion between the two of them as they argued the best way to resolve the problems that kept cropping up. Eventually Rodney and Dr Zelenka seemed ready to proceed with a full test.
“Okay, give it a test,” he told Dr Zelenka.
“Standing by,” Zelenka’s voice came back over the radio.
Rodney stood up and walked over to a control panel. “Sabina, I need you to clear your mind and think about the Puddle Jumper. Think about bringing it online.”
I nodded, concentrating hard on trying to imagine the puddle jumper controls coming on line. It took me a few seconds to work out how to do it as I was now attempting to talk to two independent Atlantis systems at the same time. There was a short pause before Dr Zelenka reported back to us.
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Rodney! Rodney! It works!” he cried in excitement.
“Thank God!” Rodney sighed in relief. He sank down in exhaustion, sitting on the edge of the dais and closing his eyes. That was lucky for me because he didn’t see the delighted grin on my face or the ‘light bulb going off’ look on my face. If I ever got the chance to use the Wraith weapon I now had a way to help me control the power build up I’d experienced the first time I’d tried to use it.
I think Rodney had actually dozed off before Elizabeth's voice coming over the radio jerked him awake.
“This is Weir. I've got the prototypes,” she reported.
“Prototypes. Right,” Rodney said wearily. He stood up and walked away, leaving me still sitting in the chair. This time he didn’t come back.
Chapter 33: The Wraith hive ships are approaching the planet
It was late and I had little hope that I’d be seeing John or Teyla that night. I’d been thinking all afternoon about the Wraith weapons room, what Ancient Elizabeth had said to me, what I’d learned from all my translations and research, and even about how I’d ended up here against all the odds. I knew now that no order was going to come down from Colonel Everett or Dr Weir sanctioning me to attempt to use the weapon to defend Atlantis. If the weapon was going to be of use then it would be up to me and me alone to make it happen.
So instead of heading to my quarters to sleep, putting my future solely into the hands of a couple of remote controlled puddle jumper bombs and the Daedalus that might not even arrive in time, I picked up everything I would need for an extended stay and headed down to the Wraith weapon room. I was conscious of the fact that, since I hadn’t heard anything for some time, there could still be Wraith at large in the city. I took the risk and dropped my sensor block temporarily as I made my way down to the depths of Atlantis – hoping I’d be able to sense any Wraith before they were upon me. As soon as I arrived at my destination safely having sensed nothing out of the ordinary, I slammed my block back into place – I didn’t want the Wraith to sense what I was doing and I didn’t want to appear as a lone life sign when the internal sensors finally came back up.
The next few hours would be a waiting game for me as there was nothing I could attempt until the hive ships had actually arrived at the planet. I tried to sleep but gave it up as impossible and instead spent the night reviewing all the notes I’d brought down with me, trying to convince myself that I was right and that the weapon really would do what I believed it could do. To be honest, if not for the live confessions of Ancient Elizabeth, I don’t think I’d have been quite so confident.
I don’t know how long it had been before I heard the first news on what was actually going on outside my little room.
“This is Everett,” his voice came over the city wide radio. “Jumper Four has just informed us the Wraith hive ships are approaching the planet. Defence team to your positions.”
I felt a rush of panic sweep over me ... it was nearly time for me to act and suddenly I felt very nervous, very alone, and very scared.
“This is Weir,” Elizabeth’s voice followed some seconds later. “Now I know how tired you all are, and how much we have asked of you these past few days. Hopefully the Daedalus will arrive soon, but until that happens our fate is in our own hands. If, during the course of this battle, our mission fails, I will give the order to evacuate. Now, we all hope it won't come to that. But if it does, don't hesitate. That is all.”
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if the order to evacuate was given because I was a long way from the Gateroom. I could only hope that they’d scan for life signs so that I could let my sensor block go and they’d know I was on my way. Trying to think positively, I decided it didn’t matter because the Wraith would be destroyed one way or another and we wouldn’t need to evacuate.
I’d brought my radio so I could hear what was going on – at least what was going on that was taking place over the radio system. I needed to know what was happening so I’d know if, and when to act.
“Sheppard, are you ready?” Dr Weir’s voice was steady. I knew that John would be in the control chair ready to remote fly the puddle jumpers but there was no answer. I waited anxiously and a few seconds later Dr Weir spoke again. “They're sending in another wave! Major, we need to go!”
“Rodney,” it was Zelenka’s voice this time. “Nothing is happening!”
“Why are there no Jumpers in the air?” Dr Weir questioned impatiently.
“We must have exhausted the Mark Two's energy output,” Rodney’s voice echoed with horror. “It's dead.”
I knew exactly what would happen next. John would realise the bombs couldn’t be delivered remotely and he’d do the big hero thing and fly one to a hive ship himself. I had only a few minutes to do something before he’d be at the jumper bay and it would be too late.
I rose and stood before the hand controls on the weapon. Taking a deep breath I closed my eyes and concentrated on putting my mind within the weapon before I touched it. The next step was for me to drop my sensor block so that I could link in with the Atlantis power control systems using much the same method as I’d used to get the chair to talk to the puddle jumper. Taking another deep breathe I slowly lowered my hands until they were just touching the hand slots.
I felt that same surge of power from the weapon I’d felt the first time but this time it was routed through the city’s power control system before it could build up. I had to take a couple of systems off line so I wasn’t surprised when I heard Dr Weir’s voice over the radio.
“Sabina?” she demanded. “What are you doing?”
“What needs to be done,” I replied shortly, maintaining my control, waiting for the power levels to build up sufficiently to activate the weapon. There was a pause before a different voice came over the radio.
“I am ordering you to stop what you’re doing!” Major Sheppard’s voice came through loudly. I felt relief that I’d stopped him for the moment from making that suicide flight in the puddle jumper.
“I’m no longer under your command, remember?” I said lightly, most of my attention still on the power levels.
“This is a military situation,” John pointed out, “so technically everyone is under military command. You’ve cut power to the jumper bay – I need to get in there now before the Wraith send too many darts for us to handle!”
“You mean so you can fly the bomb into the hive ship and blow yourself up in the process?” I said angrily. “You said we weren’t at the stage of being desperate enough to try using the weapon ... well guess what? Now I’m that desperate!”
“Sabina, please don’t do this,” John tried to reach me on a personal level.
“Too late,” I replied, taking the final step and reaching out my mind to the Wraith like Teyla had taught me.
There were so many Wraith darts flying over the city that it was almost too easy for me to make the connection. I saw Atlantis through the eyes of the Wraith as they hurtled towards us. I could feel their hunger and malevolence, their overwhelming desire to take the city so they could reach their rich new feeding ground. The power of the connection was so much more than I’d been able to achieve with Teyla and for a few moments I was overwhelmed in the rush of sensations.
It was too much and I knew I was in danger of giving control to the Wraith if it went on much longer. I could feel my body shaking as I struggled to make sense of what I was getting and separate that from what I needed to feed to the weapon. As I began to lose my focus random thoughts started flashing through my consciousness. Atlantis – the home I’d been looking for my whole life and somehow stumbled across. Learning to fight with Teyla and getting my arse kicked every time. Running down the corridors in the early morning as I struggled to keep up with John.
John ... oh God ... multiple images of the time we’d spent together raced through my mind. My struggle became just as much about controlling my emotions as it was about controlling the power of the Wraith connection.
How pissed off was John going to be with me if I messed this up?! That one thought alone gave me the strength to pull everything back inside and refocus my efforts on tightening my connection to the Wraith. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done but slowly I managed to silence my thoughts and concentrate only on the Wraith. Once I felt that I had enough control I turned my attention back to the weapon and slowly tried to transfer that connection to the weapon. It was about timing as much as anything, coordinating the exact moment when I should take myself out of the middle leaving only a direct connection between the Wraith and the weapon.
I was sure that this was the way to make the weapon work but when I tried to take myself out of the loop I found I couldn’t release without severing the link. With a sick feeling I realised I would have to maintain the link which meant I’d still be connected to the weapon when it activated. Praying that John would forgive me for what I was about to do, I released my hold on the power control systems.
Power slammed into the weapon with tremendous force. The blocks that controlled the weapons frequency setting began to move, shifting up and down in an almost graceful dance before finally coming to rest in a pattern of highs and lows. The room began to shake as a gap appeared in the ceiling directly above the weapon. The gap widened and I caught a glimpse of the blue sky over Atlantis – for some reason that fact struck me as strange because it felt like a lot more time had gone by than was actually the case. A visible energy dome gathered around the weapon, encasing me within it. The energy dome spread up the shaft, travelling at a steady rate. When it hit the top of the shaft I felt the power peak and the wave detonated, spreading out in all directions as it flashed through the city and out into space.
The concussion from the wave’s dispersion sent my body hurtling away from the weapon and I saw myself crash into the opposite wall and lie still.
“JOHN!” I heard myself screaming in my head when I tried to wake up but couldn’t. “JOHN ... HELP!”
I lost awareness for a few seconds but my attention was reclaimed when Dr Beckett and a medical team came running into the room. It had only taken a few minutes for him to get there and I could only assume that Dr Weir had ordered a medical team as soon as she’d realised what I intended to do.
Dr Beckett knelt beside my body and felt for my pulse ... immediately he called for the defibrillator and for someone to bag me. I watched as they hooked me up to the monitors and shocked me. No pulse. Again. Still no pulse. They continued to push breath into my lungs and then shocked me again. I could see the expression of grief on Dr Beckett’s face as he asked someone to call it before rising slowly to his feet.
“I’M NOT DEAD!” I tried to scream but of course no one could hear me. Was this what being dead was like?
I thought that things were as bad as they could get ... until Major Sheppard arrived. He took in the situation with a single glance and I saw him visibly steel himself before he questioned Beckett.
“Carson?” his voice held the faintest edge of shakiness.
“I’m sorry,” Dr Beckett said sadly. “There was nothing we could do.”
“No,” John almost whispered the words. “She’s not gone – I can feel it.”
“There’s no pulse Major,” Dr Beckett told him reluctantly. “Sabina was gone before we got here.”
“But I heard her,” John protested. He seemed to lose the strength in his legs as he slipped down against the walk and sat on the floor across from my body. “She called out to me ... called me for help.”
As I watched John bow his head over his knees I realised what he’d said. He’d heard me call to him even though I was pretty sure that I’d never managed to verbalise my plea.
“JOHN,” I yelled. “CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
“Sabina?” John raised his head suddenly and looked across at my body. A pained expression crossed his face as he was bombarded with the image of my supposedly dead body. I could see him swallow hard to contain his grief as he lowered his head again.
“JOHN,” I yelled in exasperation. “IF YOU EVER WANT TO ENJOY A MOMENT OF SILENCE AGAIN YOU BETTER PAY ATTENTION TO ME RIGHT NOW!”
“Sabina!” John cried, jumping to his feet and looking at the weapon.
“Major?” Dr Beckett put a hand on John’s shoulder, clearly thinking that he’d lost it in his overwhelming grief at my demise.
“It’s all right Carson,” John insisted. “I can hear Sabina – in my head. She’s still here and she ...”
“ENOUGH CHIT CHAT!” I broke in to John’s thoughts, not really caring at this point if Carson thought he was crazy. “I NEED YOU TO TRUST ME AND DO EXACTLY WHAT I SAY. YOU NEED TO PLACE MY HANDS BACK ON THE WEAPON. HURRY!”
John moved over to my body, carefully picking me up and carrying me over to the weapon. He placed my hands gently over the controls. “What now?”
“YOU NEED TO TOUCH THE WEAPON – BUT MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ONE HAND ON ME AS WELL. DON’T WORRY – IT’S PERFECTLY SAFE,” I instructed.
John did exactly as I said without any hesitation. “Nothing’s happening,” he said worriedly.
“I KNOW ... YOU NEED TO IMAGINE YOURSELF AS A BRIDGE ... A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE MACHINE AND MY BODY ... THEN BRACE YOURSELF BECAUSE I’M GONNA BE TRAVELLING THROUGH YOU TO GET BACK TO ME. I DON’T THINK IT’LL HURT BUT IT MIGHT BE ... A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE.”
“You don’t think it’ll hurt?” John questioned me incredulously.
“JUST DO IT! I DON’T HAVE A LOT OF TIME HERE!” I retorted.
John closed his eyes and a frown appeared on his face as he concentrated on doing what I’d asked. I saw the bridge appearing in front of me ... a wide path with simple trellised sides, glowing with ancient light. I stepped hesitantly onto it and when it held my weight I moved forward confidently. As I walked forward the scene changed and instead of walking on a bridge I felt myself falling ... falling into John’s mind. I landed hard as though I’d jumped from a fair height and felt John flinch. Catching my breath I looked around in amazement – was this what John’s mind was like every day? I found myself walking through a field with long grasses gently swaying in the breeze. The sun was shining down warmly and the sky was an impossible blue. I walked slowly through the field, running my hands over the tops of the grass before spotting another bridge up ahead.
This one was made from a beautiful red brown wood that almost glowed in the sunlight. The sides of the bridge were crisscrossed beams and there was a scalloped banister to rest my hands upon. The whole thing was carved with intricate designs and sanded so that it was as smooth as silk. Where the first bridge had looked ethereal and temporary this one looked solid and stable, giving me the impression it would be there when Atlantis itself had turned to dust. I stepped out onto the bridge and began walking slowly across, looking down to the gentle river than flowed beneath it. As I neared the other side I felt that same shift in scene and I was falling again ... falling into myself.
I opened my eyes and saw my hands sitting on the weapon, John’s right hand resting over mine while his left was placed firmly on the machine. Leaning back slightly I felt the comforting strength of his entire body pressed into mine.
“John,” I whispered tearfully.
“You know,” he said with a relieved grin. “You didn’t have to shout.”
“Sorry,” I slurred, before I fainted back into his arms.
Chapter 34: Thanks for saving mine
My first conscious thought was the realisation that someone was holding my hand. I opened my eyes and discovered I was in the infirmary again and that it was John sitting beside my bed, one hand resting over mine.
“Hey,” I croaked, trying to squeeze his hand and discovering how weak I was when all I could manage was the movement of my fingers within his.
“Hey yourself,” he replied with an easy tone that did little to cover the seriousness in his whole demeanour. “You scared me,” John said, looking away and swallowing hard. “Don’t do it again.”
“Not planning on it,” I agreed tiredly. “Did it work?”
“Spectacularly,” John admitted. “From the reports I’ve been hearing the Wraith hive ships, the darts, the Wraith themselves disintegrated instantly into ... well the best description I’ve heard is little mounds of funny coloured sand.”
“Sweet,” I smiled triumphantly – that was more than even I’d hoped for. “I’m not gonna say I told you so.”
“You risked your life,” John said, ignoring my last comment. I realised that although a large part of him was just relived to have me alive when he’d believed me dead, another part was angry that I’d defied his orders so blatantly. “I could just as easily have been arranging your memorial service!”
“I didn’t do anything that you weren’t willing to do yourself!” my voice came out a lot weaker than I would have liked and I felt tears welling up from deep inside. I looked away and swiped angrily at my eyes.
“It’s not the same!” John insisted. “Part of my job is being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people I’ve been made responsible for ... to protect you.”
“What, so me being willing to do the same doesn’t count because I’m not military?” I asked incredulously, forgetting my tears for a moment at the absurdity of that view.
“I know that you closed the jumper bay deliberately,” John looked at me closely. “Rodney’s been trying to get the sensors back on line – he worked out that you didn’t need to do that to take control of the power systems.”
“So I didn’t let you go out and splatter yourself all over the inside of a hive ship,” I retorted sarcastically. “Are you going to send me to the brig for that?”
“You are the most ... stubborn ... annoying ... stubborn woman!” John complained in exasperation. “We shared an experience that was ... well I don’t even know how to describe it, it was that deep ... and you’re arguing with me?”
“Hey, you started it with your ‘I can risk my life to save you but you can’t do the same for me’ speech!” I passed the complaints straight back to him. I wanted to argue some more but the enormous headache I’d been expecting chose that moment to arrive, sending searing pain through my skull. I winced and clamped a hand across my forehead like that would help somehow.
“What’s wrong?” John’s anger was forgotten in his concern for me.
“Headache,” I gasped. I spaced out for a bit, coming back to myself when I felt the injection in my arm. John must have gone to get Dr Beckett, dobbing me in for a needle which he knew I hated.
“I told you not to upset our patient,” Dr Beckett scolded John. “She’s still very weak even if she’s putting on a good act to convince you otherwise.”
“I’m fine,” I insisted.
“You’re NOT fine!” two voices chorused back at me. I don’t know what would have happened next if John hadn’t been interrupted. He turned away and activated his headset.
“What is it Rodney?” he asked. He listened for a moment before responding. “Okay, I’ll be right there.”
Turning back to me, he reached out and put his hand across my forehead. The sensation of his cool hand was soothing and I wished he could just stay there like that, even though I knew that duty called.
“Do what Carson says,” he told me sternly. “I’ll be back to see you later.”
“Okay,” I agreed. I watched him walk towards the door, waiting until he was almost there before I called out to him. “John!”
“Yeah?” John turned back to look quizzically at me.
“Thank you,” I said simply.
“For what?” he frowned.
“For saving my life,” I acknowledged.
“Yeah, well,” he said, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. “Thanks for saving mine.” Not waiting for my reply, he turned and left the room.
“Try to get some rest,” Dr Beckett laid a hand on my shoulder, which is when I realised something.
“I didn’t get the jolt,” I said it worriedly. “You know ... when someone with the natural gene touches me. I only just realised – even with John I didn’t feel it.”
“I’m not surprised lass,” Dr Beckett dismissed my concerns. “You overloaded your system as far as anyone can ... you’re lucky to be alive! Don’t worry,” Dr Beckett reassured me. “I’m sure all your ATA gene powers will be back once you’ve given yourself the chance to recover. Now I suggest you get some sleep.”
That wasn’t a hardship ... I was so tired I’d been finding it hard to concentrate on anything even before the end of John’s visit. I drifted off to sleep, wondering at the back of my mind what it was that Rodney had wanted to see John about.
I woke up briefly some hours later, ripped from sleep by the sound of my own voice calling for John. Dr Beckett must have been close by because he appeared at my side only moments after I’d awoken.
“Where’s John?” I asked in confusion, still half asleep and not sure of where I was.
“Major Sheppard was back to visit you a few hours ago,” Dr Beckett admitted. “Unfortunately he had to go on a mission but he said he’d be back here as soon as he returned.” Dr Beckett busied himself talking lots of readings and writing things in his chart but I hardly noticed.
“What mission?” I frowned.
“He asked me not to tell you,” Dr Beckett admitted. “Your only priority is getting better. Major Sheppard will be back before you know it and you can ask him about it then.”
Doctors were too good at keeping secrets so I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be getting any more information out of Carson. I tried to stay awake to see if I could overhear anything that would explain it but I must have drifted asleep only moments later because when I next work up I couldn’t remember hearing anything.
Hours later I awoke again, feeling so much better I was almost ready to leave the infirmary – if all I needed was sleep then surely I could do that in my own quarters? Dr Beckett denied my request to be discharged but did let me sit up reclined in my bed. I looked around and was dismayed to see the number of occupied beds. I knew there would have been injuries and even casualties from the Wraith attack – the time it took to activate the weapon was unknown to me but I knew it would have been more than a few minutes.
I was drifting in a sort of half dose, thinking over the events of the past few days, when I saw Dr Weir and Teyla come in to the infirmary. They both stopped at my bed to tell me they were glad I was okay before moving along to another bed across the infirmary. Aiden was lying on that bed with his eyes closed, wearing a bizarre-looking pair of sunglasses. A scanner was moving back and forth alongside his bed.
“It's starting to affect his brain chemistry,” Dr Beckett said softly.
“There's no way you could have known that, Carson, and its better this than death,” Dr Weir excused.
“We need to be more aggressive -- wean him off it quicker than I expected to,” Dr Beckett advised. “It'll be painful and arduous, but I think it may be the only option. I've sedated him, but he should definitely be under secure supervision.”
“I've already stationed a guard at the door,” Dr Weir admitted.
“Doctor Weir -- the Daedalus is requesting permission to land on the east pier,” a voice reported over the intercom.
“Permission granted. We'll meet them there,” Dr Weir said as she and Teyla turned to leave the room. I really wanted to find out what had been going on but Dr Beckett refused to let me leave. To be honest I felt a bit neglected – I’d practically saved Atlantis and all they could do was relegate me to the infirmary and not even bother to tell me where things were at!
I tried to console myself with the thought that things couldn’t be that bad - with the Daedalus here Atlantis would have a shield, should there be any fallout from us taking out three hive ships. That worked for an hour or so and then I couldn’t stand it anymore. No one was paying attention to me and when an opportunity presented itself, I snuck out of the infirmary.
Chapter 35: I simply realised my place
I slipped down the hall and made it to my room without drawing anyone’s attention – not bad for someone dressed in a hospital gown. I changed and tried to make myself look presentable – a hard task once I’d got a look at myself and seen a very pale face with bruised circles under the eyes that I hardly even recognised as my own. Realising it wasn’t going to get any better, I made my way up to the control room.
My timing was perfect because Dr Weir, Major Sheppard, and another military man I didn’t recognise were all standing near a console while Dr McKay was checking one of his readouts.
“The shield's holding under the bombardment but it's under incredible strain,” he reported.
“How long will it hold?” Dr Weir questioned.
“Well, if they stop firing at it,” Rodney said almost snidely, “it'll last almost indefinitely but ...”
“Are we talking months, weeks?” Dr Weir persisted
“Days,” Rodney admitted sickly. “At this rate the ZedPM will be depleted within days.”
That was the moment when John noticed my presence. “Sabina?” he questioned. “Should you be out of the infirmary?”
“So this is the lady we have to thank for taking out those two hive ships?” the other man broke in to ask before I could respond.
“This is Sabina Scott,” John introduced me. “Sabina, this is Colonel Caldwell, commander of the Daedalus.”
“What’s going on?” I looked at John, hardly aware of the tremor in my voice. “Are there more hive ships?”
“I’m sorry Sabina,” it was Dr Weir who answered me. “Maybe I should have sent someone down to brief you ... but we felt the best thing we could do was let you regain your strength.”
“How many?” I looked at John again, willing him to include me in the decision on what was to be done.
“Ten,” he admitted. “There were twelve but we took the Daedalus out after them and destroyed two with a site to site bomb transport - before they worked out what we were doing and found a way to block us.”
“Rodney, what’s the status of the Wraith weapon?” I asked, hoping my voice sounded stronger than I felt.
“I already thought of that,” Rodney admitted, not looking at John to see his reaction. “It’s fried – you were lucky the thing had enough power to ... you know ... get you back to yourself. It’s not an option.”
“But couldn’t you rig up a different power source?” I asked incredulously.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “The whole thing is a bit of a black box and I’d need a lot more than a week to even figure out how it works. Maybe the ancients only meant it to be used once – maybe the plan was to find a way to take out the entire Wraith in one go.”
“Oh,” I said quietly, looking down at my feet. I knew the chances of my being able to operate the weapon successfully would have been slim given that I’d still not recovered the full use of my ATA gene. But to be told there was no chance at all because I’d broken the weapon filled me with both guilt and despair.
“Dakara!” Colonel Caldwell suddenly exclaimed. When he was greeted by blank looks from all of us, Caldwell continued. “Just before I left, the SGC managed to wipe out a race called the Replicators. They did it with an ancient weapon that sounds very similar to the one Sabina used. One of the G’oauld, Baal, found a way to get the Stargates to progressively dial each other throughout the whole galaxy just before the weapon fired. The effect travelled through the Stargate system wiping out the replicators on every planet and in space.”
“That would have been nice to know up front!” Rodney complained, shooting a glance in my direction.
“You mean we could have wiped out all the Wraith?” I asked sickly. “If I’d waited to use the weapon ...”
“Not all of them,” Major Sheppard pointed out. “Only those on, or in orbit around planets with a Stargate. That wouldn’t include the armada heading for us right now.”
“Not in time either,” Caldwell added. “Only Baal knows how to reprogram the Gate – even Colonel Carter couldn’t work out how he did it. We never would have figured out how to do it with the little time we had left.”
“But maybe one day,” Rodney said excitedly. “If I can get into the weapon and find out how it works ... I’d need access to Carters research on the altered Gate program ... of course it’s only an assumption that the Pegasus Gate system is similar enough that the same thing could work here ... they might have put in fail safes to stop that from happening but we could ...”
“Rodney,” John interrupted Rodney’s babbling, casting a concerned glance in my direction. “You can think about that later ... we need a solution we can implement in a day, not one that could take years.”
“Yes, yes,” Rodney said apologetically, turning back to his console to take further readings on the shields.
There was a momentary silence during which I realised the futility of my being in the control room. My usefulness as an ATA gene carrier was temporarily zero and the Wraith weapon was out of commission. Sure I’d taken out two hive ships but that was a drop in the ocean compared to the ten hive ships now on their way. If I’d waited then maybe I could have done something about those. But I’d let my personal emotions control me and ended up screwing things up ... again!
“I should ... You need to ...” there was no graceful way for me to take my leave so I just gave up. Looking anywhere but at the occupants of that room, I quickly turned and fled down the stairs.
“Sabina!” I heard John calling after me but I didn’t stop. Before I’d gotten halfway to my quarters my arm was grabbed and I was pulled to a stop.
“What was that all about?” John demanded, pulling me around so he could look at me.
“What was what all about Major?” I directed my gaze over his left shoulder and tried to pretend that I felt nothing.
“That – back in the control room!” John refused to let me off the hook. “Why’d you run off like that?”
“I didn’t run off,” I denied. “I simply realised my place ... which isn’t being part of high level discussions about the fate of Atlantis.”
“Your place?” John asked incredulously.
“Yes, Major,” I responded crisply, much as I had during my weeks of basic training. “My place – to activate the ancient technology with no requirement to actually understand it. I think I’ve proved pretty spectacularly what happens when I forget my place.”
“You couldn’t have known the weapon would burn itself out!” John said in exasperation.
“Dr McKay would have known,” I refused to excuse myself. “I let my emotions direct my actions and now Atlantis is worse off than it would have been if I’d done nothing.”
“What about me?” John asked quietly, not believing that I was suggesting I should have let him die.
“The Daedalus arrived in time,” I responded flatly. “You would have been rescued before the bomb went off and they would have taken out the remaining hive ships. Then we’d still have the weapon now ... when we really need it.”
“You can’t know that,” John denied. “Besides, it doesn’t matter how many hive ships we take out ... they’re just gonna keep coming and coming!”
“Don’t you have a meeting to be at?” I asked, tugging my arm away from his grasp.
“Dr Weir ordered everyone to get some rest – we’re meeting in the morning.” John looked at me thoughtfully. “You want to go get something to eat?”
“I’m not hungry,” I said quickly, keen to get away so I could think. “Anyway, I didn’t exactly have permission to leave the infirmary – I’d better get back down there so Dr Beckett can ream me out about my recklessness.”
“I’ll walk you down,” John offered, surprising me by ignoring the last part of that statement when I’d been sure he’d be angry.
“There’s no need Major,” my tone was again crisp and impersonal. “It’d just be a waste of your time.”
“Let me decide how I want to use my time,” John insisted, a puzzled and somewhat hurt look on his face.
“Sabina,” Dr Beckett scolded me as soon as we arrived in the infirmary. “Not 24 hours ago you were at deaths door – you shouldn’t even be out of bed! What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t,” I admitting, realising how much my short trip to the control room had taken out of me. I was even grateful for John’s hand under my elbow as he guided me across to Dr Beckett.
“Let me check your vitals,” Dr Beckett said, helping me up onto one of the examination tables.
“You don’t have to stay,” I told John when it looked like he was settling in. “I’ll be fine.”
“I don’t know what’s going on in your head,” John ignored my request. “We need to talk ... but this isn’t the time.”
“It never is,” I muttered under my breath.
“When this is over it’ll be number one on my list,” John promised. Ignoring the fact that the infirmary was busy and that Carson was standing right there waiting to examine me, John threaded a hand through my hair to grasp the back of my head before pressing a gentle kiss on my lips. Up that close it was impossible for me to avoid his eyes ... in them I could see his confusion and hurt at my distant treatment as well as his firm resolve to fix things. I had no idea what he saw in my eyes but I was very aware of how thinly held my emotional control was.
After pulling me closer for another, harder kiss John stroked his hand down my hair in farewell, turned, and left the infirmary. Once he was gone I raised a shaking hand to my lips, still feeling that tingle of electricity he’d passed to me.
“ATA gene back in operation?” Dr Beckett quipped.
“Oh yeah,” I admitted. I sat patiently through my examination and made no protest when Carson informed me that some of my readings were still a little off and that he wanted to keep me in the infirmary for observation.
Chapter 36: Prepare for detonation flash
I was curled up in my bed early the next morning, pretending to be asleep when I heard the sounds of a scuffle and then a body falling to the floor. I turned over in time to see Lt Ford run over to a fallen marine and grab his pistol.
“Ford!” Dr Beckett confronted the obviously agitated Lt.
“Don't move or I'll shoot!” he threatened, walking towards Carson, and aiming his gun at him. “Where's the rest of the enzyme?” he demanded.
“There is no more,” Dr Beckett admitted reluctantly.
“I saw you extract it -- don't lie to me,” Ford protested. “Where is it?”
“No, I'm not lying,” Beckett insisted, holding his hands up to Lt Ford in a calming gesture.
I jumped as Aiden suddenly fired the pistol at Dr Beckett, only just missing him.
“Where is it?” Ford demanded again.
“You're not thinking straight, son,” Dr Beckett tried to talk sense into him. I admired his calm in what was a very tense situation. The Lieutenant could very well kill him and yet Dr Beckett was still trying to look after Ford’s best interests.
“You're all afraid of me,” Lt Ford accused, sounding almost childish in his complaint.
“Look at what you're doing,” Dr Beckett pointed out incredulously. “We have good reason to be.”
“I'm gonna die if I don't get it,” Lt Ford accused.
“Aiden, you're not gonna die,” Dr Beckett’s tone was caring and sure as he tried to talk Aiden down from the tense situation. I thought he was making progress but then Aiden seemed to focus once more.
“Shut up!” Ford yelled. Without taking his eyes off Carson, he slowly and deliberately turned his gun on a man in a wheelchair. Was he really going to shoot an innocent man to get what he wanted? “I'm not gonna ask again,” he threatened.
Reluctantly, Carson turned and walked over to a cabinet on one side of the room. He opened the door and took out a bag of brownish looking fluid.
“Is that all of it?” Lt Ford demanded.
“I promise you,” Dr Beckett confirmed.
“Toss it over,” he instructed. Carson seemed to hesitate and Aiden shouted “Toss it!” Carson tossed it over and Aiden caught it with his free hand. “Don't follow me,” he growled before turning and running out of the Infirmary.
Dr Beckett looked sadly after him for a moment before making his way over to the downed marine. After making sure he was all right, Carson instructed some nurses to continue with his care and then hurriedly left the infirmary himself.
Dr Beckett returned only a short time later and informed us of the plan to trick the Wraith into thinking Atlantis had been destroyed by setting off a bomb at the outer edge of the shield before cloaking the city. It made sense – John was right when he’d said the Wraith would just keep coming and coming no matter how many ships we destroyed. I asked Carson quietly what would happen to Lt Ford and was relieved when he told me that Major Sheppard had gone after him. John would be more compassionate than anyone else, especially someone who didn’t even know Aiden.
The infirmary became very busy after that, preparing patients for transfer. As many non essential personal as possible would be transported to the Daedalus while the plan was carried out. Dr Beckett tried to get me to be one of them but I still felt that same dread at the thought of leaving Atlantis and convinced him I should remain just in case someone with the ATA gene was needed for anything. Dr Beckett agreed, as long as I stayed in the infirmary so he could keep an eye on me. I was happy to do that, especially once I heard that part of the plan involved Teyla sending a message to the Wraith that we would rather destroy the city than let them have even a tiny part of it.
“Good luck,” I said quietly, watching as Teyla lay down on the bed and allowed Carson to hook her up to a monitor.
“Thank you,” Teyla replied serenely.
“Now,” Dr Becket informed her. “I'm jolting you out of this the second I feel there's a problem.”
“I understand,” Teyla acknowledged.
“We're all set down here,” Dr Beckett reported to the control room over the intercom. We waited patiently for Dr Weir to give the go ahead.
“Doctor Beckett?” Weir’s voice questioned just moments later.
“Teyla?” Dr Beckett turned to her with a questioning look.
Teyla took a deep breath, and then nodded. “I am ready,” she said confidently.
“We're good to go,” Dr Beckett told Dr Weir.
“Alright,” Weir responded. “Send our message.”
Teyla took another deep breath, then exhaled and closed her eyes, concentrating on making the connection.
“I am on one of the ships. ... They see me,” she reported after a few seconds. She gasped, opened her eyes and sat up on the bed, staring straight ahead.
“Teyla?” Carson stood up, looking at her nervously.
“The message has been delivered,” Teyla said with a satisfied smile.
“Elizabeth -- it's done,” Dr Beckett reported, before sinking back down in relief.
I hadn’t realised that I’d become used to the sound of the Wraith bombardment on the shields until it ceased. A few seconds passed and then the city-wide comm. system activated.
“Attention all personnel,” Dr Weir announced. “Prepare for detonation flash.”
Everyone turned away from the windows as the excessively white light of a nuclear warhead going off flashed through the city. We all waited anxiously to hear if the plan had been a success. It took longer than I would have thought before the city-wide comm. system activated again.
“This is Dr Weir,” I could hear the jubilation in her voice. “The Wraith fleet has broken orbit and entered hyperspace. The cloak has been deactivated and for the time being Atlantis is safe.”
It was over ... after three weeks of worry, fear and desperation, we had survived the coming of the Wraith. Our loses had been great – in particular Colonel Everett who’d been reduced to an elderly man during an interrupted Wraith feeding, and Lt Ford who’d found a way to take a jumper through the Stargate despite Major Sheppard’s attempts to bring him down. Hopefully it would be some time before the Wraith discovered our ruse and returned to try again.
Chapter 37: This doesn't mean I’m going to start obeying your orders
Now that it really was over I didn’t know what to do with myself. I assumed that with Colonel Everett out of the picture John would again be the ranking officer in charge of Atlantis so he’d be busy tying up all the loose ends. What I really needed was a holiday ... perhaps I could get Carson to fly me to the mainland once all the dust had settled. That wouldn’t be an option for a while though because it would probably be days before everyone was recovered enough for things to return to normal.
During the lull between the end of the attack and the return of the Daedalus with the bulk of Atlantis’s personnel the city took on the feel of a ghost town. Drs McKay and Zelenka had gone off to get some much needed sleep ... in fact it seemed that most of those who’d stayed behind had retired to sleep. Practically all I’d done for the past couple of days was sleep, so more was the last thing I wanted. In the end my curiosity drew me back to the Wraith weapon room.
I could almost have believed that Rodney was wrong about the weapon being burnt out because on the surface it looked the same as it always had. Regardless of the outcome I felt a strange fondness for the room I’d spent so many hours in. I raised a hand, contemplating trying the controls to see if the weapon really was dead.
“I wouldn’t do that,” John’s voice echoed from the doorway. “I know Rodney is usually right about these things but ... do you want to be the one time he’s proven wrong?”
I said nothing in response and John took a step into the room.
“I’m sorry about Aiden,” I said, moving my hands away from the console. I kept my eyes on the weapon, aware that John had taken a few more steps towards me.
“So am I,” he said sadly. “We tried the planet he gated to but I knew he wouldn’t be there. He ditched the jumper and dialled another address we couldn’t trace.”
“He was always nice to me,” I glanced at John quickly before looking away again. “So ... what now?”
“The way I see it,” he drawled, “we have two options. Option one we spill our guts, get rid of the anger, have fantastic make-up sex and then live happily ever after.”
“And option two?” I asked, fighting the sudden urge to smile.
“Option two,” he took another step towards me, “we skip the gut spilling anger and go straight to the make-up sex.”
“I’m guessing you’re gonna go for option two?” my voice quivered as John closed the distance between us to a single small step.
“See that’s where you’re wrong,” he denied. “I’m actually gonna go for option one and since I’m now back to being the ranking military officer for the time being, I’m not giving you the choice.”
“I’m not ready for this,” I admitted, appreciating his attempt to lighten the mood between us.
“Who’s ever ready for something like this?” John asked incredulously, suddenly deadly serious. “I thought I’d lost you,” he reached out a shaky hand and stroked my cheek. “It was ... pain ... deep ... like I’ve never experienced before. I mean, I’d gotten a taste of how bad it could be when we found you the day you first touched that console,” he gestured towards the weapon.
“Rodney said you almost fainted,” I admitted.
“I didn’t almost faint,” John denied hotly, drawn into that old debate between him and Rodney momentarily. A silence stretched between us again ... I didn’t know what to say ... what was he expecting me to say?
“It weakened me,” John admitted. “And I resented it because I thought that made me weak as a leader.”
“You resented me,” I stated it as though it were fact. “Do you regret getting involved with me?” I asked.
“NO!” John’s voice was frustrated. “I never resented you and I would never regret meeting you. There was a connection there from the first day ... you must have sensed it too.”
“Yes,” I admitted. “Although to be honest I decided pretty early on that it was the ATA gene giving you the push ... I even asked Carson if it was possible because I just can’t understand why someone in your position would be interested in me.”
“We’re not gonna do the whole ‘me leader, you nothing’ thing again!” John commanded, getting riled up for the first time since he’d arrived.
“I don’t see why it makes you angry when I point out what’s pretty obvious to everyone else!” I persisted. “I wouldn’t be here unless by accident.”
“And I wouldn’t be here either,” he threw back at me, “if I hadn’t sat in the command chair in Antarctica and accidentally powered it up! I had no more idea about the Stargate program, Atlantis or any of it than you did the first day you arrived.”
“That may be,” I acknowledged, “but you’re a Major in the US Air Force. You’re smart; you’ve got serious ‘skills’ – you’re not just a body that happens to have the ATA gene!”
“You may have been just a body with the gene to start with,” John admitted, “but surely you can see that’s no longer the case! You’re just as smart and you’ve worked hard to get yourself some equally ‘serious’ skills. We need you here ... I need you here.”
He’d said similar things to me in the past but they’d never penetrated that hard shell I’d held around my heart because deep down I didn’t believe them. It wasn’t anything different that John said this time that opened my eyes ... but finally I realised that he was right. I had worked hard and I had acquired skills that could only be of use in Atlantis. Even without the possibility of using the Wraith weapon again, I really did belong here! My lips trembled as I tried to stop myself from breaking into tears. Holding a hand against my eyes I turned away from John, taking a few deep breaths to calm myself down. John gave me some time before he redirected the conversation again.
“As I said,” John continued. “I thought having such strong ... feelings for you would make me weak. Did I not want you to use the weapon because it was the right call from a military perspective or because I was scared of loosing you? I over analysed every decision and if you’d asked me what my main motivation was I wouldn’t have been able to tell you – I don’t know if it were someone else in charge that they wouldn’t have ordered you to use the weapon and damn the risks.”
John waited a few moments to see if I was going to say anything before continuing. “When the command chair didn’t fire up and I realised what I’d have to do I also realised something else ... those feelings I had for you didn’t make me weak. They gave me the motivation to do what had to be done and the surety that it was the right thing to do –because I was doing it for you and not just because it was my duty. That’s when I admitted that my orders not to use the Wraith weapon were as much to do with not losing you as they were about the outcome being too unpredictable to justify the risk.”
“I was angry with you,” I admitted. “I thought you wouldn’t let me try the weapon because you didn’t think I was up to it – that I couldn’t do it. It just made me even more determined to prove you wrong. That wasn’t the only reason why I did it but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t factor into my decision.”
“I was angry with you too,” John rubbed a tired hand across his eyes. “To be honest I’m still angry – you took a risk, not only with yourself but with everyone on Atlantis. You disobeyed my direct order because you decided you knew better than everyone else. I understand the sentiment – we both know I’ve been there myself! I do understand the thinking when the lives of people you care about are at stake and you’re convinced the person in charge is wrong. I’ve acted on that thinking more than once and I never regretted it.”
“So why are you angry then?” I said, confused now about what he was trying to tell me.
“Because you didn’t trust me,” he said hotly. “Not Major Sheppard the leader, but John the person. You were supposed to feel closer to me than anyone else on this base and yet at every turn when it was time to trust me you deliberately disobeyed me!”
“It wasn’t like that,” I protested. “I...”
“I wasn’t finished!” John interrupted. “I know I made it impossible for you – you tried to talk to me to convince me about the weapon but I was too caught up in worrying about your safety. I didn’t want to hear a logical argument if it meant I’d have to reconsider my military decision.”
“We were both wrong,” I admitted. “You should have given me the chance to convince you but I should have considered what you were saying too. I didn’t want to hear your logical arguments either because I saw that weapon as the reason I was here and the only way to prove that I belonged here.”
“I stuffed it up, didn’t I?” I turned away, feeling my eyes begin to brim with unshed tears. “One day we’re gonna need that weapon and we won’t have it because of me.” A few tears ran down my face and I angrily brushed them away.
“You didn’t stuff it up,” John denied. “Hell, even the Ancients couldn’t work out how to use the weapon to get rid of the entire Wraith all at once – that’s probably why they never activated it themselves.”
“Do Dr Weir and Rodney feel the same?” I asked, despite the fact that it really was pathetic I cared so much what they thought.
“Rodney finally found something useful in that weapons research inventory gizmo you activated way back – he said the weapon had never been tested and it’s a wonder you even got it to work once. He’s already rubbing his hands together at the thought of how much of a genius he’s gonna look when he fixes it where no one else could,” John said only partly in jest. “As for Elizabeth, she firmly believes that casualties were much less as a result of your setting off that weapon when you did. Since I would have been one of those casualties I whole heartedly agree.”
“You know I did it for you,” I said, more tears escaping as emotions churned inside me. “I’d like to say the lives of everyone on Atlantis were at the forefront of my mind but the timing kind of gives that away. In the end I just couldn’t let you die if there was anything I could do about it.”
“I know,” John raised a hand and brushed at the tears tracking slowly down my face. The intent look on his face made it clear he was thinking about my motivations and I wasn’t ready to start confessing my feelings just yet.
“Is there anything else you’re angry about?” I asked before he could say anything else.
“I wouldn’t say angry,” John let me get away with redirecting the conversation. “Frustrated ... that’s a better word. You were always so careful to maintain a little distance between us and every time I tried to get closer to you something happened to pull you away. I felt like I was trying to build a bridge over a river when I only had access to one side.”
“Did you see me?” John’s mention of bridges had reminded me of something I’d been meaning to ask. “You know ... when I was going from being in there,” I pointed at the machine, “to being me?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. “After the initial ... landing, which was a little painful actually,” he reminded me that I’d said I didn’t think it would hurt, “it was stunning – you were stunning. Everything glowed – the field, the grass, the sky, but especially you.”
“Did you ... um,” I ground to a halt, not knowing how to ask what I wanted to know.
“Did I hear any thoughts, find out any secrets, stuff like that?” John knew exactly what I was worried about. “Not so much,” he reassured me. “It took pretty much all I had left after having to drag your lifeless body to that console just to build that bridge.”
“You did good,” I complemented him. “Once I’d got past your rickety ancient bridge,” I teased, “I didn’t even have to try – you pretty much drew me the rest of the way back by yourself.”
“Yeah, well the first bit I just cobbled together quickly – it was pretty flimsy but you were already there before I could make it more solid,” John took a few steps away from me, idly running a finger over one of the designs on the wall. “The second one wasn’t any effort at all – I had it all there in my head.”
He turned back to me and looked at me intently. “From day one I felt like I had to build on the connection we already had just to maintain my position with you. Every little thing I did to get closer to you ... was about trying to make that even stronger ... so you’d want to stay with me. So when you said bridge, it was that connection that I thought of and it just appeared like that, like I’d had it there the whole time.”
“It was a beautiful bridge,” I admitted, “the most beautiful bridge I’ll ever see.”
“Let’s not go overboard here,” John’s face flushed a little in embarrassment. “I’m just ...,” he took a deep steadying breath, “glad that it worked so well.”
We’d been on our feet for a while and I was still easily tired after my ordeal in that very room. When I took my customary seat on the floor with my back resting against the wall, John walked over and joined me, sitting close enough that our shoulders brushed if either of us moved.
“How are we doing?” he asked me after a few minutes of companionable silence. “You got any more anger issues before we move on to the gut spilling?”
“I thought we were doing the gut spilling,” I laughed.
“You think I’m gonna let you off that lightly?” John turned to look at me. “Think again.”
“I do have a question,” I hesitated, wondering if I should bring it up. “When you were on your way to the jumper bay ... were you going to tell me what you were doing?”
“I don’t know,” John admitted. “I’m not that good at the whole ‘last words’ thing so whatever I said would have come out wrong anyway.”
“You do know!” I got up again to pace in front of him. “You had no intention of telling me anything! Just like when you snuck off to the Daedalus while I was in the infirmary.”
“I didn’t sneak!” John protested. “Look, in the military you can’t always tell the people close to you what you’re doing. Besides, there would have been no point in upsetting you before anything had even happened.”
“Right, like finding out after and realising I never got to say goodbye would have been so much better!” I said hotly.
“I don’t see what the problem is here,” John complained, getting up and putting himself in my path.
“I love you, you insensitive jerk!” I yelled up into his face. “It would have been nice to have been able to tell you once before you scattered yourself all over the atmosphere!”
“Well, it would have served you right, waiting until I was about to die before telling me,” John yelled back before we both realised what I’d admitted. “You love me,” he confirmed with a smug grin. “I knew you did but I never thought you’d admit it ... nice delivery by the way.”
“Yeah, well enjoy it because I probably won’t be saying it too often,” I turned away. “I might love you but you are a serious pain in the arse sometimes!”
“What a thing to say about the man you love,” John teased, grabbing my hands and pulling me towards him. “You’re not alone,” he said before wrapping me in his arms and kissing me senseless.
“Hey,” I pulled away, putting my hands on his chest to hold him back. “You promised me gut spilling and that’s the best you can do?”
“I’m a guy,” John almost whined. “We’re not good at this kind of thing.”
“John!” I warned. “If you want that make-up sex you mentioned you’ve gotta do better than that!”
“Okay, okay,” John laughed and I realised he’d been teasing me. “I love you,” he said it easily. “Have since that first running session when you busted yourself to keep up and never complained. I know I made mistakes, made you doubt me, but that never changed.”
“Very nice,” I smiled as I complemented his declaration, feeling almost embarrassed by his comfortable show of emotion. “Much better than mine.”
“You just need practice,” John said seriously.
“Maybe,” I admitted. “Would it bother you if I never get comfortable with the whole expressing my emotions thing?”
“Nah, as long as you try once in a while,” John pulled me close again and held me tightly to his chest. “Besides I’ve got to think about my image you know – can’t have you gushing over me all day – no one would take me seriously!”
“Ha Ha,” I hit his shoulder as hard as I could, making little impression. “Don’t worry – I don’t see girly gushing anywhere in your future.”
“That’s a relief,” John muttered, planting kisses across my face as he pulled the right parts of our bodies into alignment. I shivered as John nuzzled his head into my neck, his hands already under my t-shirt.
“This doesn’t mean I’m going to start obeying your orders,” I gasped as John kissed his way up the side of my neck.
“I never for a moment thought it would,” John denied before taking over my mouth with a heated kiss.
“Do you really want to be doing this here?” I broke away to ask breathlessly. John looked around as if just noticing for the first time that we were still in the Wraith weapon room.
“You’re right,” he agreed. “It’s cold in here and I’m too old to be rolling around on a concrete floor.” John grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the room. I had to run to keep up with his long strides as he quickly found the shortest path back to his quarters – luckily there was no one around to witness our mad dash, complete with crazy laughter.
Once we had the door of his quarters firmly closed behind us, we looked at each other steadily. It only took a few seconds to remember where we’d left off – John was right – it was warmer there and his bed was much better than a concrete floor. I didn’t think I could feel any closer to him than I had the previous times we’d been intimate but somehow having spoken of our feelings made a difference. It was just as intense as before but it was also tender with less urgency and more stability – and it cemented within my mind the belief that he really did love me.
Gut spilling, anger management, and make-up sex – what more could anyone ask for? Oh right – the happily ever after – it was still early days but even that didn’t seem like such a stretch any more.