Walter got back to me the next morning when I was sitting in a cafe a few blocks away from my Dad’s old office finishing a late breakfast. John had rushed off early in the morning to continue his quest to find the Replicator, leaving me clear to be beamed back down to the surface to hopefully continue mine.
I'd begun by searching the internet for more information on court orders - what I found didn't reassure me because it seemed even with a court order I still might not get access to everything that was in my file. I was at the point of glaring uselessly at my laptop screen in annoyance over my lack of progress when my phone rang.
“Mrs Sheppard,” Walter greeted me briskly. “I have some information for you on that court order.”
“What did you find out?” I asked hopefully, glancing quickly around the mostly empty restaurant.
“Not a great deal ma’am,” Walter admitted. “Court orders for release of records like the ones you want can take anywhere from four to twelve weeks to make it through the system. The air force does have the power to expedite petitions through the courts but usually that’s reserved for top level importance, things affecting national security and such.”
“Oh,” I nodded to myself – not really a surprise. Still, it couldn’t hurt to ask. “Is General Landry around?”
“I’ll put you through ma’am,” Walter replied in a tone that said he'd already anticipated my request.
“Thanks for your help Walter,” I said before he transferred me. I waited a few seconds listening to the canned hold music while tapping my foot nervously against my chair.
“Mrs Sheppard,” General Landry greeted me pleasantly.
“General Landry, thank you for speaking with me,” I began. “I’m not sure if Walter filled you in or not but I was looking to get a court order to open my adoption records. He tells me it’s usually a significant wait – I’ll be back home long before it’s likely to make it to court. Walter mentioned the air force expediting some requests if they’re seen as important enough?”
“And you’d like for us to do that in this case,” General Landry concluded. “Forgive me for being blunt but you must have had plenty of opportunity over the years to gain access to those records. Why now?”
“I never cared before,” I admitted honestly. “Things have happened back home recently that make me think my origins might be a little more important than I've always thought. But I won’t know unless I can look at those records.”
“Unless you can be a little more specific I don’t see that as compelling enough to warrant air force intervention,” the General returned in a reasonable tone. “Have you got anything more than vague suspicions?”
“Ah,” I thought quickly, wondering if I should tell him what I’d heard in the hologram room. No – John’s words about keeping it to ourselves echoed loudly in my head and I decided to respect that. “I’m sorry General, at this stage it really is just a vague feeling. I understand that you can’t act on that alone.”
“I’m sorry Sabina,” General Landry said understandingly. “I can see that this is important to you right now ... if you still want to pursue the court order give the details to Walter. He can progress it in your absence and let you know when the decision is made.”
“I appreciate that, thank you General,” I signed off feeling more than discouraged. I understood the air force wouldn’t see my own little case as being nationally relevant – of course it wasn’t! Still it left me with the sense that things were conspiring against me ... a feeling that made me all the more determined to get around them.
Realising I needed to talk to John again, see if he had any other ideas I called Walter back and got him to patch me through to John’s cell.
“You have reached the voice mail of Colonel John Sheppard. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”
Great! I resisted the urge to groan aloud at yet another road block. Leaving a short message that said little more than hello I shoved the phone back in my pocket and sat back, thinking. What now?
I knew I should have just let it drop, bitten the bullet and gotten the address Rodney had given me but I couldn’t get that damn Davos vision out of my head. I had seen my file – seen myself looking at it. There had to be a way.
And that’s when it hit me ... if I had the guts to do it I could take a peek at my records without the time lag and the whole official route through the courts. Luckily I had my laptop but I needed a couple of other tools before I could execute my plan so I headed out to find the nearest electrical store.
An hour before close of business I strolled into the offices of Scott and Sloan Associates, walking confidently to the lifts with a friendly smile to the receptionist. She smiled back, obviously recognising me from the previous morning. She didn’t question my presence just as I’d assumed, my personal connection to Jason would have been pretty clear from what she’d witnessed the previous morning. She just assumed I was there to see Jason again and let me through without a word.
Inside the lifts I punched the button for the basement, not surprised when it didn’t work – of course you’d need special access to get down there. Picking the lowest floor I could get to I rode the lift down, plans bubbling away in my head.
There were a couple of offices down there plus a large law library, luckily all deserted late in the day. And a storage cupboard just the right size for me to hide in through closing time. Settling myself on the floor I sat back for a long uncomfortable wait.
Waiting until 7:30pm was torture but I daren’t move any earlier than that, remembering lawyers were notorious for working late – or at least Roger had been. Groaning as my muscles protested I dragged myself out of the cupboard and quickly across to the door. Looking out into the corridor I relaxed at the deserted feel of the place.
Before I went any further I tried again to get John on his cell without success ... either he was still up on the Apollo or more likely he was involved in something that required communications silence so he’d switched off the phone. At the back of my mind was the vague worry that something had gone wrong because surely by now he’d be wondering where I was but I pushed it into the background for later.
Heading straight for the lifts I called the lift down to me. Once inside rather than push a button I quickly pried off the lift covering and attached some leads from my laptop to the operating controls inside. Crossing my fingers I ran one of the old programs I’d created when I’d been an ethical hacker, hoping it would still prove effective in bypassing the floor control systems.
A few seconds later I was grinning at my success – I now had access to all the floors in the building and only had to push the one I wanted. With any luck they’d be like every other company I’d come across when I’d been in the hacking business, believing that stopping someone from getting to specific floors was all the security they needed.
The basement was dark and creepy, like a maze with its rows and rows of shelves. They had a catalogue system near the door to help find specific files easily but rather than hack into that I shone my torch at the nearest shelf to see what kind of ordering system they were using. Alphabetic by month and year.
Walking slowing down each row of shelves I made my way steadily back in time until I hit the relevant year ... 1974, more specifically December 1974.
Running my finger over the labels on each box I located the ‘S’ one and pulled it slowly from the shelf, carrying it over to the single desk in the middle of the room. Sitting down I opened the lid. Inside it was just like a filing cabinet draw, with individual files inside, complete with labels. ‘Scott’ jumped out at me and I felt a sudden apprehension that I was so close to finding out ... well it could be something but it could also be nothing at all.
I opened the file and skimmed through the first page – details about the adoption that I already knew.
Then there was the post adoption birth certificate Gwen and Roger had registered for. There should have been an original birth certificate too but I could understand why there wasn’t ... if you were going to abandon your baby at a hospital it stood to reason you wouldn’t bother registering that baby’s birth first.
It was the next and final sheet that had me sitting up and paying attention. It was the police report on the search they’d done to find my birth mother. What was interesting about it was the comments from the attending officer when they’d marked the file as unsolved.
“This baby might as well have appeared out of nowhere for all the evidence we have to explain where she came from,” he’d written. “There were no fingerprints or any other kind of identifying markings on the baby’s things or in the room where she was left. The door was locked from the inside ... no windows and no evidence that the lock had been picked or otherwise tampered with. The baby’s cries alerted staff to her presence and it took them more than ten minutes to locate the key to what was a little used storage room. Surveillance footage from the surrounding security camera’s showed no one entering or leaving that room during the window when the baby must have been left there. Fingerprint analysis against the police, military and FBI databases did not reveal any leads on either parent. With so little to go on we have no choice but to abandon the investigation.”
Appeared out of nowhere? That had an ominous ring to it, especially in light of what I’d heard in the Hologram room. It would have been nice if they’d done some kind of DNA search too but that kind of thing didn’t come into forensics until the mid to late eighties.
My eyes shot to the door as it opened, revealing the night security guard doing his rounds.
It would have been comic to an observer the way our eyes met in surprise ... the delay before we each reacted.
“Hands up!” the guard ordered, pulling his gun and aiming it straight at me.
“This is ... I can explain,” I stood slowly with my hands hovering at head height.
“Tell it to the cops,” the guard dismissed ... clearly I wasn’t going to be talking him over to my side. “This way.” Motioning with his gun he urged me from the room and into the lift, keeping his weapon trained on me the whole time.
On the ground floor he moved to the security desk and called the police.
“Can I at least call someone too?” I asked hopefully.
“Quiet!” the guard ordered grimly. “I’m not letting you touch anything else until the cops get here.”
In less time than I’d have imagined two police officers appeared at the doors and were let in by the guard.
“This is her,” the guard gestured to me almost proudly. “Caught her down in the basement vandalising some old files when I was doing my first nightly rounds.”
“Hey I wasn’t vandalising them!” I retorted indignantly.
“What were you doing?” police officer one asked mildly.
“I was ... ah ... I was reading them,” I admitted reluctantly. “But it was just the one file and it was about me so really I can’t see what the harm is.”
“You broke into the building and accessed restricted information,” police officer two returned.
“Actually I didn’t break in either,” I pointed out. “I was in the building before closing and I just didn’t leave when everyone else did.”
“What’s your name?” police officer one requested.
“Sabina,” I said slowly. “Sabina Sheppard.”
“Well Ms Sheppard,” police officer one announced. “You’ll have to come with us down to the station.”
“Are you gonna charge me?” I cringed at the thought, wondering what John was gonna say when he found out about the mess I’d gotten myself in to.
“We’ll need to contact the owners,” police officer two replied.
More great news ... now I’d have the disapproval of Jason Sloan to add to what I’d be copping from John. Great going Sabina!
Let me just say straight up that all my previous thoughts about Earth jails turned out to be completely accurate. If I had a choice I’d be choosing an Ancient jail cell for all my future incarcerations.
It was cold and grey and frankly very worrying to be pacing around in that tiny cell waiting for something to happen. Finally a different police officer arrived and said I could make a call if I wanted. He led me out into a processing area and pointed to the phone. The two policemen I was familiar with were there also, one of them filling in some kind of form while the other stood waiting.
Rather than waste a call on John’s cell when he probably wouldn’t answer I decided to go through the SGC, crossing my fingers that doing so wasn’t going to get me in even more trouble.
“This is Sabina Sheppard,” I said casually to the person on phone duty – it was late and contrary to popular belief Walter did actually leave the SGC each night. “Can you patch me through to Colonel Sheppard please?” I noted the way my words caught everyone’s attention but there was nothing I could do about it.
“Colonel Sheppard is here on base at the moment,” the Sergeant advised. “I’ll see if I can locate him ... stand by.”
Smiling awkwardly at my audience I tapped a foot impatiently waiting for John to answer.
“Sabina?” John greeted me with a mix of concern and irritation. “I’ve been trying to call you for hours! Where the hell are you?”
“Ah ... don’t get mad okay?” I began, my voice quavering as I braced for his reaction.
“Where are you?” John asked again sternly.
“Washington seventh district precinct,” I admitted weakly. “I was ah ... I was arrested for um trespassing and um ... other things.”
“What?!” John’s voice echoed loudly in my ear and I winced at the anger that came through nice and clearly. “You’re in jail?”
“Yes,” I confirmed, “and I’d really appreciate it if you could come down here and bail me out.”
“I’ll be there in five,” John hung up abruptly, leaving me staring at the handset mutely.
“My husband,” I said to the watching officers awkwardly. “He’s on his way.”
“Colonel?” police officer one asked curiously.
“Air force,” I admitted. “Needless to say he’s less than impressed with me right now.”
“We called Jason Sloan,” the other officer advised. “He’s also on his way. It’ll be up to him whether formal charges are laid but he said he would like to speak with you first. We’ll take you to the interview room now so you can wait for him.”
“Thanks,” I said, trying to smile but failing to stop the faint quiver as I realised the full depths of how badly I’d screwed up this time.
John got there first and somehow managed to talk his way into speaking with me privately. I felt the usual leap of connection when a police officer escorted him into the room and closed the door behind him. John was dressed casually ... jeans, black shirt with the collar open just a little and the usual heavy boots. His expression however was anything but casual ... the door had barely closed before John was demanding an explanation from me.
Looking more at the table top than at him I rushed through the basic highlights of my days activities, culminating in getting caught where I wasn't supposed to be. John was silent the entire time ... until I'd run out of words and sat braced for his reaction.
“I can’t believe you broke in!” John said angrily, pacing back and forth in front of the table I was sitting at. “How is it possible for us to be on Earth and yet you still get yourself into trouble?”
“I didn’t break in! And besides I had to act now,” I said defensively. “I tried to contact you more than once but you weren’t there! The SGC couldn’t help either – what was I supposed to do? Let the one chance we’ll probably ever have to find out the truth just slip through my fingers?”
“You could have waited for the court order,” John pointed out grimly. “Sure it would have taken time but it would have been better than this!”
“I thought I could get in, read the file and get out with no one being the wiser,” I admitted. “It’s the kind of thing I used to do legally all the time when I was doing that hacking job. It was only my file so I couldn’t see the harm in it.”
“Yeah well now you can,” John replied angrily. “If we can’t convince your Dad’s old partner to let this drop you’re in a boat load of trouble here. The kind the air force can’t help you out of. I can make bail but it’s not a given they’ll let you leave the States before this comes to trial. This is really serious Sabina.”
“I know and I’m sorry,” I said weakly, feeling close to tears for the first time at John’s obvious disappointment. “I just ... I felt like I had to see the file right now, like it was something that couldn’t wait. I knew it was wrong but I just ... I had to do it.”
John stood for a moment, I was sure considering both what I'd said and what I'd told him of Davros's vision all those months ago.
“I’m not condoning what you did but I understand the motivation,” John finally said in a more reasonable tone.
“Well perhaps you could explain it to me then,” Jason Sloan said from the doorway.
“Mr Sloan,” I got up and then just stood there, not sure what I should do next. John solved that for me, striding over to Jason and holding out a hand.
“John Sheppard,” he introduced himself briskly.
“Jason Sloan,” Jason shook John’s hand with a bemused expression. “When I spoke to Sabina yesterday morning I didn’t think I’d be meeting you like this.”
“It’s less than ideal,” John agreed. “Look, I understand that you’re angry right now and you have every right to be, but I’d ask you to sit down with us, give Sabina the chance to explain, to apologise, before you decide on a course of action.”
“I can do that,” Jason took one of the seats across from me and waited expectantly. I glanced at John, receiving his nod and his gesture urging me to begin.
“I’m really sorry Jason,” I started out with the apology first. “I know you’re probably really disappointed with me right now and I deserve it. I don’t know if I can even explain to you why I did this, why I couldn’t just wait for the court order, but I’ll try.”
Jason nodded, willing to continue listening.
“It’s been on my mind a lot lately,” I explained, “because I found ... something when I was researching another topic as part of my work. Something that made me doubt everything I thought I knew about where I come from. Not about Gwen and Roger – before that. When you said I couldn’t look at the file I asked the air force for help but they couldn’t speed things up for me and see the thing is, I can’t – we can’t – hang around here for weeks waiting for a court appearance and it might be a year before we get leave to come back. I did some research this morning and it sounded like if I wasn’t there personally there wasn’t much chance they’d rule in favour of opening my file. And even if they did they’d probably confidentialise all the detail out of it which would kind of defeat the purpose. I didn’t know what else to do so I ...” I trailed off miserably.
“So you decided to take matters into your own hands,” Jason concluded expressionlessly.
“Yes,” I agreed weakly. “I really am sorry. If it’s any consolation I used to do something similar legally a while back, looking for weaknesses in security, especially computer security.”
“It appears there are some weaknesses in my systems,” Jason commented with a tiny hint of amusement that gave me hope for the first time.
“We’re prepared to make whatever reparation you feel is appropriate,” John announced. “Given what Sabina told you about the nature of my posting I would be very grateful if we could settle this amongst ourselves, without you pressing formal charges that could keep her here in the States without me.”
“I knew you’d come and see me one day,” Jason looked to me with a strange, unreadable expression. “It was something Gwen said when I was working on the adoption papers.”
“What did she say?” I was puzzled at the sudden turn in the conversation.
“There was a woman at the hospital,” Jason revealed. “She was some kind of social worker Gwen got friendly with the first few days you were there. Gwen must have spoken about how she and Roger had tried so hard to have a child of their own and how fate must have had a different path in mind for them. Gwen was explaining to me why she was so keen to adopt you and she said fate can bring gifts from further away than can be imagined. She said you were special and that she and Roger had been charged with the task of guiding you and looking after you ... and of loving you in the absence of those who would have gladly done the job.”
“What does that mean?” I asked with a frown.
“I asked Gwen that and she admitted she didn’t really understand it beyond her belief she’d been chosen to be your Mother,” Jason explained. “It was part of the reason Gwen settled on you as the only baby she wanted to adopt. She was adamant about it ... said you needed them.”
“You know what’s in my file don’t you?” I commented quietly. “What it says in the police report?”
“I looked at it late yesterday morning,” Jason admitted. “None of this makes sense to me but the fact that you were so driven to find the answers on top of what Gwen said to me ...,” he trailed off before continuing with a shrug. “This is outside my league. I won’t be pressing charges and I don’t expect you to make any kind of amends for this ... apart from maybe advising on some improvements to our systems?”
“I can do that,” I smiled in relief. “Thank you Jason ... you have no idea how much this means to me.”
“You can thank me by promising not to do anything so foolhardy again,” Jason returned in a more disapproving father tone.
“You have my word,” I vowed seriously.
“I appreciate your understanding,” John refrained from questioning either of us further, focussing on the task of getting us out of there as soon as possible. “Sabina will send through those suggestions before we leave.”
“I won’t say I’m happy about the setting but I am glad I got the chance to meet you,” Jason told John approvingly. As the two men stood up and shook hands again it occurred to me that what I was seeing was a strangely distorted echo of what it would have been like to introduce John to my Dad - to Roger.
When Jason turned to leave I couldn’t just leave it like that. “Wait,” I said urgently, rushing to him as he turned back from the door.
He opened his arms just in time to receive my hug, squeezing me back without hesitation.
“I should have kept in touch,” I whispered sadly against his shoulder.
“I should have tried to find you,” Jason returned in a voice thick with emotion. “I let you down ... let Roger and Gwen down too.”
“It’s okay,” I stepped back so he could see the certainty in my eyes. “It had to be this way ... and I’m happy now, more than I ever could have been.”
“It was good to see you,” Jason reached out and ruffled my hair much as he had when I was a child.
“You too,” I ducked away with a laugh. “Thanks again for understanding.”
Nodding simply Jason turned, nodded to John too, and then quietly left.
“Nice guy,” John commented into the silence.
“Yeah,” I agreed roughly. “Reminds me of my Dad ... I guess I blocked that out too, huh?”
Saying nothing John pulled me into his arms and hugged me tight, not commenting on my tears or the way I clung to him too tightly.
It was a simple matter after that to extricate ourselves from the police station with nothing more than a stern warning from my arresting officers to watch my step in future.
“Where to now?” I asked, looking around for some indication of how John had gotten there, beyond the obvious beam in close by.
“The replicator issue got resolved,” John informed me. “I’ll tell you about that later. Ronon’s heading back to Atlantis but I told him we still had business to take care of.”
“Back to Richmond?” I queried.
“We need to make one stop first,” John took my hand and led me around the corner where our rental car stood waiting. “I drove it over from the law office,” John explained, opening the passenger door and holding it open for me.
I watched curiously as he got in the driver’s side and competently got us moving. The whole thing at the station had taken hours and light was already beginning to appear over the horizon. Still I couldn’t see where we could possibly be going so early in the morning. Without consulting a map John pulled out and drove towards our destination, taking left and right turns purposefully over Anacostia River and past Capitol Hill. Fifteen minutes later we were pulling up outside a familiar gate.
“This is the cemetery,” I said in surprise. “I appreciate the thought but I already stopped by yesterday.”
“We’re not here for that,” John said simply. Getting out of the car he came around and took my hand, guiding me out of the car. Wordlessly he walked us over to the main gate, stopping and pulling a familiar and now slightly worn piece of paper from his pocket. “Read the address off this,” he urged seriously.
Unfolding the paper I read what Rodney had written over a year ago.
“Lot 180-181 Lincoln Circle, 2219 Lincoln Road NE Washington DC,” I read aloud.
“Now read that plaque,” John pointed to the right of the gate.
“Glenwood Cemetery, 2219 Lincoln Road,” I read in surprise. “Rodney gave me a bogus address?”
“I don’t think so,” John disagreed. “When I looked up the address to drive you out here and realised it was a cemetery I did some digging. This place has been here since 1854 ... and I don’t think it’s a coincidence they’ve got Angels and Archangels guarding the entrance.”
“You think this has something to do with what I was told in the Hologram Room?” I asked worriedly.
“I think we should check out who’s buried in Lot 180 and 181,” John replied, taking my hand and urging me to walk with him.
John looked at the map of the layout they had displayed inside the gate while I glanced around with new eyes. “This way,” John drew my attention back to him, pointing off to our right.
We walked silently through the cemetery, early morning dew glistening on the grass. The route we took wasn’t familiar until we turned onto the circle.
“My parents are buried somewhere along here,” I offered quietly.
“Show me,” John invited. Nodding I took the lead, looking at each head stone until I found the ones I wanted.
“Here,” I pointed down to the graves of Gwen and Roger Scott.
“Sabina,” John squatted down and shifted the flowers I’d placed on Gwen's tombstone the day before. They’d been obscuring the lot number ... when John took his hand away I looked down reluctantly.
“Lot 180,” we both said together.
“I don’t get it,” I turned away, looking out across the grass on the other side of the circle. “Why would Rodney give me the address of my adoptive parents grave sites?”
“What did he say to you when he gave you that paper?” John asked, putting a hand on my shoulder bracingly.
“Ah ... let me think,” I put a hand to my forehead, frowning as I tried to remember. “He said those were the names of my birth parents and the address where they lived when I was born. Except clearly that’s not the case, is it? Unless Rodney was trying to suggest Gwen and Roger were my biological parents which I know they weren’t.”
“You never looked at this did you?” John queried gently.
“No,” I said insistently. “I told you at the time that I didn’t want to know – for good reason as it turns out!”
“Look at the names,” John handed me the paper again. Taking it with a sigh I read the rest of what was on there.
“Cato and Levana,” I recited softly.
“Not exactly common Earth names are they?” John pointed out.
“No they’re not,” I agreed. “You know these are Latin names right? Cato meaning wise and Levana meaning rising sun. We could find lots of repetitions of them in the Ancient database, more than you’d find here.”
“Sabina is a Latin name too,” John persisted.
“Yeah but it derives from history here on Earth,” I protested the direction he was taking this. “Look, I know what you think this is all suggesting ... you think that somehow my parents were Ancients, that they brought me to Earth for some reason and that they chose Gwen and Roger to take care of me because for some reason they couldn’t.”
“Rodney could only get from your mind what was shown to you at the time,” John put an arm around me and drew me into his side. Strolling back around the circle towards the gate he gave me time to think about that.
“You think somehow they knew what was going to happen to Gwen and Roger – that they planted the knowledge in my head,” I stopped and looked at him in distress. “Was I supposed to know they were gonna die and do something to stop it?”
“You were ten,” John took my hand and got us moving again, “so no, I don’t think that. I think the only thing we can make out of this is that your parents were Ancients and that they knew Gwen and Roger’s eventual fate but chose them for you anyway.”
“Ancients who came here when they abandoned Atlantis?” I frowned as I tried to work out the logistics to make that possible. “How’d they survive for so long?”
“Maybe they were Ascended and chose to return to this plane of existence to have you,” John suggested.
“This is all sounding pretty farfetched,” I commented with an incredulous laugh. “Definitely falls within the bucket of topics never to discuss with anyone else!”
“There’re a lot of holes,” John agreed. “When we get back home you’ll have to try the Hologram Room again. Maybe now you have something concrete to ask about you’ll be able to re-establish contact with the Ascended you spoke to last time.”
“You really think it was an Ascended Ancient I spoke to?” I waited as John opened my car door before running around to his side.
“I didn’t before but now I’m not so sure,” John admitted, starting up the car and pulling back out into the street.
“I’m not sure I want to know any more,” I admitted. “The picture I’m getting isn’t exactly reassuring me.”
“We’ll figure it out,” John promised.
Pulling into a deserted side street he placed a call to the Apollo. Moments later we were on the road a few miles out from Richmond. John resolutely drove us towards his family home.
Dave was visibly surprised when he answered the door to our knock a short time later.
John said nothing, just looked at his brother with an uncertain expression. Dave nodded, motioning us forward.
“Come in,” he invited, exchanging a small smile with John.
The house was well appointed but it had atmosphere that said ‘family home’ too ... it wasn’t just a magazine showcase. Dave showed us to a small sitting room and called the housekeeper for coffee to be brought up.
“Did you resolve that work thing?” he asked to make conversation.
“Yeah,” John replied, taking a seat on the couch and drawing me down beside him. “Sorry I had to leave so suddenly.”
“You’ve made a career out of it,” Dave said without censure. “I know it caused problems for you in the past but never with me. That was one thing I did understand.”
“Just not the rest of it,” John commented somewhat bitterly.
“What did you expect John?” Dave said in exasperation. “When you left here you cut the whole family off – not just Dad. You lumped me into the same basket with him, you never checked to see whether I agreed, never asked me for support.”
“Would you have given it?” John asked, spearing Dave with the first direct look since we’d arrived.
“As a matter of fact yes I would have,” Dave replied firmly. “I couldn’t see why you couldn’t do what you wanted – it’s not like you were running off to join the circus. The air force was a respected career – qualifying to be a pilot wouldn’t have been easy. Dad should have seen that and been as proud of you as Mom and I were.”
“You were proud?” John reacted with surprise.
“Of course!” Dave shook his head sadly. “Mom was too. But you and Dad were so stubborn – neither of you would listen, you were so convinced only you could be right.”
The arrival of the housekeeper halted the conversation. We received our coffees in silence, John waiting until she’d left again before continuing.
“I’m sorry,” he offered quietly. “I really did think making myself scarce was what Dad wanted, especially after what happened at Mom’s funeral.”
“Like I said at the wake it wasn’t,” Dave insisted. “Dad regretted that he’d pushed you away ... he just didn’t know how to make the first move.”
“I wish I’d known,” John said sadly. “I haven’t been around much the past few years but I would have made the effort. Now it’s too late.”
“Not for us,” Dave pointed out hopefully. “I’m sorry I made that comment about the money. I don't really think that's the reason you're here ... I was angry that now you turn up, when Dad’s gone.”
I'd been sitting beside John on the sofa, quietly listening to the brothers talk, watching Dave's expression closely. Everything about him spoke of sincerity ... it would have been hard to make that apology and I was convinced Dave had done so because it was the right thing ... he wanted to make things right with John. Perhaps they were more alike that first impressions had suggested, something that had me truly relaxing as I realised John still had family to care about him back on Earth.
“I don’t know what Dad said in his will but I’m really not interested in any of it,” John insisted. “You do whatever you need to do for the good of the business and your family. We have everything we need – you don’t have to worry about that.”
“He did leave the business and most of the property to me,” Dave admitted. “But he set up a trust for any children you might have ... I guess he was hopeful one day you’d settle down. If that doesn’t eventuate the trust proceeds will go to a charity of your choice.”
“Ah,” John frowned at the unexpected olive branch from his father. “That’s ... more than I expected. And ah ... maybe he understood me more than he ever let on.”
“Maybe he did,” Dave agreed. “He would have been pleased you remarried. He always said all you needed was the right woman to ground you.”
“I’d never want to do that,” I spoke for the first time, frowning at the suggestion that John should ever be tied down like that. “Being a pilot is a part of John.”
“The right woman,” John smiled as he acknowledged the intent of Dave’s previous comment, making me blush in embarrassment.
“Is there anything else you wanted to talk about right now?” Dave asked.
“It’s been a tough week,” John admitted. “I would like to know more about how Dad was the last few years but ... it’s too soon.”
“Next time,” Dave promised, getting up purposefully. “For now, how about a tour around the place? We’ve made a few improvements since you left.”
“That’d be great,” John raised an eyebrow at me questioningly, smiling when he got an emphatic nod in return.
“You have horses?” I asked eagerly as Dave led the way out to the back of the house.
“A few,” Dave smiled in amusement. “Would you like to see them first?”
“Yes please,” I smiled enthusiastically.
“Sabina’s very fond of anything that can go really fast,” John shared with Dave in amusement.
“That explains why she hooked up with you,” Dave quipped back with a grin.
“You have no idea,” I smiled wickedly, letting Dave draw his own conclusions from that. If only we could tell him about Puddle Jumpers and F302’s and all the other wonders of the Pegasus galaxy. Of course then we’d have to tell him about the Wraith so perhaps not knowing wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
After a pleasant couple of days at John’s family home we returned to the SCG for our journey back to Atlantis. John was relaxed, in some ways more so than I’d ever seen him. Reconnecting with his brother had settled something inside, despite his continuing grief over remaining forever unreconciled with his father.
Family issues – our own origins – had been the central focus of the previous days ... in my case leaving behind more questions than I’d had when I arrived. I had filled John in on the contents of my adoption file leaving him with just as many questions as I had. I could only hope something back on Atlantis would help us answer them.
Trying to work out specifically where John is from on Earth was next to impossible – they don’t mention anything in the episode or anywhere else that I could find. John is described as a Southern gentleman on some of the Scifi sites which narrows it down a little. On Outcast there aren’t really any obvious clues either. The house John grew up in seems to have a largish stable so maybe they raised horses, there aren’t guests running around with cowboys hats so it’s probably not Texas, the cafe Ava takes them to seems to be somewhere with a larger city feel but it doesn’t look like Louisiana. In the end I just decided to put the house just outside of Richmond Kentucky – southern enough but hopefully also with no really obvious characteristics missing from Outcast. Googling such a vague set of clues didn’t help much.
I tried to be accurate with the legal side of Sabina wanting to find out more about her real parents – the adoption law details for Washington came from apps dot leg dot wa dot gov. I don’t know if the air force could expedite something like court orders but for the purposes of the story I went with no they wouldn’t. And I don't know how realistic the whole police side of this was ... I get my information on that from watching legal shows on TV so ...
I chose the location of the cemetery from google maps and tried to be accurate in referring to it as much as possible without having seen it in person. The only thing I couldn’t confirm is how they number their lots and whether they really do have an address plaque at the gate. I also accessed www dot glenwoodcemetery dot net to find out more about it, including using their map of the entire layout.
Re the names I chose for Rodney’s note, Cato ‘The wise one’ and Levana ‘The rising sun’ both came from babynamenetwork dot com.
And lastly I think in reality if there was such a ship as the Apollo and it had beaming technology they would hardly use it to suit the whims of John and Sabina as I have written here. For the sake of moving the story along though I decided to give them (and the readers) the favour of quick travel rather than have to write all the travelling they would have done without the Apollo.
"How was it?" I looked up from the report I was reading to see Major Lorne standing just inside the doorway of my lab. Since the whole infirmary friendship scene where Evan had perhaps shown more emotion than he was comfortable with we hadn't had a chance to spent much time together. It had taken time for me to get back to mission strength and circumstances since then had precluded me from going off world. John and I had been back on Atlantis just over a day and I would have eventually sought out my team leader if he hadn't caught up with me first.
"Evan," I replied with a smile, motioning for him to come in. "It was ... interesting," I replied to his first question.
"You met Colonel Sheppard's family?" Evan asked, using the bench as a seat and swinging his legs casually.
"His brother," I agreed, sure John wouldn't mind me telling his 2IC that little detail. "Man you should have seen the stables Evan ... they had horses - beautiful horses. Not that we were there for that ... the family stuff ... it was difficult." I frowned, reminded again of the entire mess of uncertainty I now felt over my own family history.
"You okay?" Evan asked in concern, picking up on some of that.
"I don't know," I admitted. "I ah ... I did some digging about my birth parents while I was there. Ended up with more questions than answers. It's just got me feeling ... unsettled."
"I can understand that," Evan sympathised. "Anything you want to talk about?"
"Thanks," I smiled at the offer before turning serious as I considered how much to tell him. I did want an opinion from someone outside the situation. "I'm not sure there's anything to talk about right now ... I just ... I have a horrible feeling that certain things I've always believed are going to turn out not to be true. If that happens, how will I know myself anymore?"
"You mean how will John know you," Evan corrected, quickly seeing to the heart of my concerns. "I can't speak for him but I can't imagine there's ever be anything about you that would have me seeing you as anything other than yourself. Everyone who knows you would say the same."
"One day you're going to make someone very happy Evan," I smiled at his usual faintly embarrassed blush over receiving a compliment. "Are you sure you don't want me to scope out a nice girl for you?"
"I'm sure," Evan grinned teasingly, "but I'll let you know if I ever change my mind."
"You do that," I returned. Glancing at my watch I raised an eyebrow expectantly. "Lunch time?"
"Why not," Evan jumped down from the bench and waited while I shut down my laptop. "Let's grab Brown and Parker on our way there."
"Good idea," I agreed. "A team lunch is just what I need!"
A few days later John was scheduled for an offworld mission while I'd scheduled myself some much needed time to do some research ... some historic research. I'd been avoiding the subject since our return and John had been letting me. Neither of us did well being pushed into action or conversation ... something we'd learned very early on in our relationship.
Calling up the personnel files for those known to have lived in the city I began by trying to find records on Ascended Ancients - it was a long shot but maybe some detail would jump out at me - something I could use to verify that I had in fact spoken to an actual Ascended Ancient in the hologram room. If not that, then anything on whether the whole idea of using the hologram room like that was even possible. I quickly became immersed in my work, not expecting any interruptions for hours.
“Hey,” I looked up to see John standing in the door way of my lab, smiling in a way that suggested he’d tried to get my attention more than once.
“You’re back from M5V-801 already?” I asked in surprise.
“Yeah,” John walked inside and glanced down at my screen. “They had a ridiculous list of demands before they’ll agree to move their settlement. Not exactly my area of expertise so Colonel Carter’s heading back there this afternoon with Jennifer and Rodney. What you working on?”
“Before I go back to the Hologram room I wanted to see if I could find anything more in the main database,” I admitted.
“Any luck?” John asked curiously.
“Not really,” I replied despondently. “If the whole ‘talk with an Ascended being’ thing is real then they treated it like a big secret. Apart from that one book I haven’t found any other references.”
“Well it looks like you could use a break,” John commented, putting his hands on my shoulders and massaging them lightly.
“That isn’t hurting,” I sighed as he increased the pressure enough to have an involuntary groan escaping me.
“You’re pretty tense here,” John spun me around, frowning down at me in concern.
“Aren't you the least bit concerned about what we discovered back on Earth?” I asked impatiently.
“I know you are," John returned lighly. "Look - you know you’re gonna have to just go try the hologram again, right?” he raised an eyebrow when I shrugged dismissively. “But not today obviously. So – coffee?”
“Definitely,” I let John pull me up from my seat.
He distracted me with amusing comments about Jennifer and Rodney’s one upmanship over who’s problems were more pressing. It was a welcome respite but all too soon John had to get back to work. I sat for a time, looking around the Mess as I let my thoughts drift.
“Daydreaming?” Ronon threw himself down into the seat across from me.
“Procrastinating,” I admitted.
“Something you’re avoiding?” Ronon questioned curiously.
“Kind of,” I replied. “Have you ever had a situation where you could find out something but you didn’t want to because you knew you wouldn’t like the answer?”
“Not really,” Ronon admitted. “It’s not the Satedan way to avoid anything. What don’t you want to find out?”
“Just stuff about my parents,” I said vaguely.
“They’re a part of who you are,” Ronon offered. “Good or bad, you can’t change that, whether you know the details or not.”
“You’re right,” I nodded at the truth of that.
“So go do it,” Ronon waved a hand, being just as vague as I’d been.
“I will,” I said firmly, getting up with a smile. “Thanks Ronon.”
Tapping my radio as I walked away I made contact with John.
“Hey, just wanted to let you know I changed my mind,” I said quickly. “I’m heading to the Hologram Room now.”
“Check in with me in half an hour,” John ordered.
“Okay,” I appreciated that precaution, just in case things when south and I needed help.
My footsteps slowed as I got close but I pushed on anyway. The Hologram room was silent and unassuming and yet I imagined I could sense a less than benevolent presence. Stepping up to the dais I put my hands on the console and said the words.
“Ego quaeso regimen ex preteritus.”
“You have returned,” the voice echoed through the room strongly. This time a shimmering ball appeared in the centre of the room where the familiar hologram image should have been. It swirled and shifted before coalescing into someone I’d never seen before. She was tall and slender with a long flowing river of dark hair. Her face, her entire bearing was regal and composed as she looked at me with bright blue eyes. She wore the standard dress of the Lanteans, although in her case there were decorative touches at collar and sleeve edges that gave the outfit an air of importance.
“I suppose,” I agreed uncertainly. “I still have questions, starting with who are you?”
“Diamantia,” she intoned simply.
“And you’re Ascended?” I continued. “You’re not just another form of hologram?”
“I am here,” Diamantia replied. “Ask your questions.”
“Back on Earth I found evidence that suggests my parents were Lanteans,” I began. “I wanted to know how that could be.”
“Are you truly ready to hear the answers?” Diamantia asked forebodingly. “Once I begin there is no turning back. You must agree to do what I ask so that you may fulfil the purpose for which you were created.”
“I’m not going to agree to something before I know all the details,” I retorted. “If you won’t tell me what I need to know I’ll just find another way.”
“There is no other way,” Diamantia countered. “You will not find the answers you seek without me, and I will not give them to you without your agreement.”
“Fine, then I guess this conversation is over,” I announced grimly, taking my hands off the console and heading for the door. “If you change my mind you know where to find me.”
“Stop!” Diamantia ordered. “I cannot let you leave now ... the opportunity to converse in this direct manner may not come again. You must listen to me!”
“I don’t have to do any such thing,” I returned, swiping my hand over the door control decisively. When it didn’t open I raised an eyebrow at her mockingly. “A bit childish don’t you think?”
“You force me to it with your equally childish behaviour,” Diamantia said blandly. “Will you listen?”
“No,” I tapped my earpiece defiantly. “John, do you read?” There was nothing, not even static. “John, come in?”
“He cannot hear you,” Diamantia said in amusement. “No one will hear you until you do as I have requested.”
“If it was a request then I might have considered it,” I pointed out. “Instead you manipulate and mislead ... and take delight in keeping us humans in the dark.”
“It is the way it must be,” Diamantia said complacently.
“Not in my world,” I retorted angrily. “Now let me out!” I beat at the door with my fists in frustration.
“Not like this,” Diamantia replied firmly.
“John!” I tapped the earpiece again even though it hadn’t worked last time. Trying a different tack I turned back to the console and accessed communications the old Ancient way, quickly searching for John. There! “John, I need help up here,” I thought at him strongly. “The hologram room won’t let me out.”
John’s reply was faint but I got it. “We’re on our way.”
“Impressive,” Diamantia commented admiringly. “I suspect the city has not seen gene powers as strong as yours in close to ten thousand years.”
“John’s are just as strong,” I countered.
“Perhaps on the surface,” Diamantia agreed, “but that has more to do with what you are willing to embrace about yourself than it does inherent skills you each possess.”
“Look, I’m tired of all the cryptic crap,” I said hotly. “If you have something to tell me for god’s sake just spit it out!”
“Very well,” Diamantia gave in suddenly. “Your gene skills are more consistent with the Lanteans who left here ten thousand years ago,” she began. “You have antibodies to a virus that hasn’t been seen in that format for the same amount of time. And there is no record of your birth or your very existence on Earth before you magically appeared at the hospital where Gwen Scott worked. What picture does that paint for you?”
“You’re saying I’m the person that I am because I have some kind of direct link back to ten thousand year old Lanteans?” I asked incredulously.
“I’m saying that you are one of those ten thousand year old Lanteans,” Diamantia countered.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I laughed at the idea. “How’d I get there then? I thought it was impossible to travel to the future.”
“What was your future is my past,” Diamantia replied. “I brought you here because the entire galaxy needs you to be exactly what you are, right now in this place and time. None of that would have survived if I’d left it to genetic chance as you have always believed.”
“Wouldn’t that break the basic code of the Ascended?” I mocked. “You’re not exactly big on action – or as you call it interfering.”
“The space of both time and distance were sufficient to ensure my interference was not noted,” Diamantia explained.
“What, so you just walked into the city and stole a baby?” I asked incredulously.
“There was an outbreak of Kirsan fever, worse than they had ever seen before,” Diamantia said serenely. “So bad that it affected some of the adults and most of the children including a few of the babies ... one of them being you. You were one of several children with the mix of genes I required but the only one sick enough to be in the infirmary and therefore vulnerable. Everyone was tired, distressed, confused ... I used that confusion to take you and bring you forward to this time. I chose the hospital to take care of you, lingered to give you the fever treatment while they believed it was their care that was helping you. And I chose Gwen for you ... I watched her during the weeks you were in the hospital, spoke to her in the guise of a social worker – I knew she was the one to take you in.”
“Did you know she and Roger were going to be killed ten years later?” I demanded bitterly.
“There were many events required to bring you to Atlantis,” Diamantia said evasively. “I arranged for the placement most likely to result in the required outcome because I could not stay to shape your future.”
“You’re saying I needed to have adoptive parents who died when I was ten in order to end up on Atlantis?” I scoffed in disbelief. “Because if you are I have to say that is seriously disturbing!”
“I gave them something they would not have experienced otherwise,” Diamantia pointed out.
“And it ended up killing them,” I returned grimly. “I’m not sure they would have thought I was worth it!”
“Their fate was sealed regardless of your presence,” Diamantia told me firmly. “Even your friend Doctor McKay perceived the truth of that when he attempted to extract details about your origins while close to Ascension. It would not have mattered if your parents had never adopted you ... except those ten years would not have been as rewarding for them.”
“I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have been picking up a birthday cake that day if not for me,” I insisted on keeping that portion of blame I’d always held inside.
“Believe what you will,” Diamantia intoned, “but know that what was done was necessary. Your task is still before you and you must be ready to act.”
“What task?” I asked. “And how come you can be here now telling me all this? Aren’t you worried the others will come and punish you?”
“The space of years still protects me,” Diamantia excused my question lightly.
“This isn’t your present either?” I asked with a sinking feeling. “You’re from somewhere still in our future?”
“I am,” Diamantia agreed. “In my future you lived your life in the Atlantis of the past ... you were never here in this time, never a part of the expedition from Earth. I have altered that timeline and brought you here solely for the purpose I spoke of.”
The banging on the door was an abrupt distraction. John had arrived!
Frowning impatiently, Diamantia turned back to me. “My time here is short and I will not be able to return before ... you must be there!”
“Where?” I demanded.
“One of your companions will be taken by the Wraith,” Diamantia predicted. “You must be with them when it happens or every human in this galaxy will suffer. It was just a small change ... to put the solution inside of you. When the time comes, do not hide yourself!”
Her form shimmered even as John forced the door open a few inches.
“Tell no one!” her voice echoed again.
“Wait!” I called out but Diamantia was gone.
“Sabina!” John called from the doorway. Rushing over I swiped a hand at the controls, not surprised to find that this time they opened easily. “What happened – are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I glanced at the marines he’d brought with him before smiling casually. “The door controls were jammed – you must have fixed them when you forced that section open.”
“Okay,” John frowned but let me get away with the public lie.
“It was all a bit tiring though,” I told him meaningfully.
“You should probably lie down then,” John got the message, turning to his marines with a shrug. “Return to your posts. I’ll escort my wife to our quarters.”
“Yes Sir,” they turned as one and strode back down the corridor.
“What was that all about?” John asked as I rushed us in the opposite direction, keeping a brisk pace until we were safely inside our room.
“Oh, just an Ascended Ancient from some time in our future who says she stole me from Atlantis ten thousand years ago because apparently I have to be here right now to stop all the humans in the entire galaxy from suffering!” I got the whole thing out in one breath.
“An Ascended Ancient kidnapped you from Atlantis?” John questioned uncertainly.
“It makes a sick kind of sense,” I paced back and forth in agitation. “She said it was a Kirsan fever outbreak, a bad one. She used that to sneak in, grab me, and then sneak out again. It would explain the antibodies plus how I appeared in a locked room inside a hospital without someone leaving any trace of evidence.”
“We could confirm it,” John suggested hesitantly.
“I could look myself up on the database,” I acknowledged that I’d already thought of that. “She didn’t give me a name.”
“You have their names,” John reminded me. “That and the Kirsan fever thing should be enough.”
“I’ll go look it up now,” I agreed. I’d taken a couple of steps before the urge to say something overcame my good sense. “You’ll still love me right? If it turns out I’m an alien instead of being human like you?”
“What?” John laughed before he realised I was deadly serious. Moving over to me he cupped my face in his hands and kissed me firmly. “I will love you because no matter what happened in the past you’re still you and you’re still mine.” Moving his hands from my face he put them in the small of my back and pulled me in sharply. “Not to mention the fact that you’re still hot – and everyone knows that making it with the hot alien chick is seriously cool!” He kissed me again quickly before I pushed him away with a laugh.
“Can you take this seriously for just a minute?” I said with impatient amusement.
“I’m taking it as seriously as it needs to be,” John insisted. “You’re you – no matter who your parents were, where you were born, or when. Find out the rest and then we can put this away where it belongs.”
“Okay,” I agreed meekly, standing there just looking at him instead of moving like he expected.
“What?” he demanded when I said nothing.
“You really are one in a million John Sheppard,” I said softly, pulling his head down to instigate a kiss of my own. “I can see now just how much luck was involved in my being here with you ... if I had the choice I’d go twice that far for the privilege.” Leaving John standing there bemused I turned and headed back to my lab, smiling when he caught up to me a few moments later.
“It’s all true,” I turned away from the computer screen and looked at John with a blank expression. “Cato and Levana lived here in the city at the beginning of the Wraith war. They had a daughter, Carus, who mysteriously vanished from the infirmary during a severe outbreak of Kirsan fever. She was never found.”
“That’s you – Carus?” John asked gently.
“I guess so,” I agreed, my voice thick with emotion. “It’s one of the words they used for beloved.”
“It’s nice,” John drew me to him and held me while I cried ... for the parents who’d lost a child and never known what had happened to her, and for the child who’d always believed her parents had abandoned her because she wasn’t worthy of their love.
We sat like that for a time until other emotions began to override my grief.
“How could she have done this?” I asked John, wiping at my tears impatiently. “How could Diamantia have justified doing something so extreme?”
“She must believe it’s necessary,” John replied.
“You’ve suddenly got a lot of faith in the motives of an Ascended,” I commented grimly.
“I’d thank her if I could speak to her,” John admitted without remorse. “She brought you here ... to me ... for whatever reason nothing can change that. It’s out of her hands now ... it’s for us to decide whether we play along or not.”
“You’re right,” I realised. “She can talk about her motives until the cows come home but it’s just that – talk. She can’t make me do whatever it is she set me up to do.”
“I’d say not otherwise she wouldn’t have been so keen for your willing agreement,” John pointed out.
“Do we have to tell the others?” I asked despondently. “On the one hand it’s almost a relief to know that all those things we thought were so unique about me can be explained by knowing I was born on Atlantis thousands of years ago. But on the other hand having everyone know I’m not human is just a freak out I’d like to avoid for as long as possible.”
“We can wait until you’ve had a chance to get used to this,” John agreed, “but eventually we’ll have to let Colonel Carter know.”
“Great,” I muttered snidely. “The SGC will inform the IOA and the next thing you know I’ll be the subject of experiments at Area 51!”
“That won’t happen,” John insisted with conviction.
“Do you promise?” I asked worriedly.
“I promise,” John replied, squeezing my hands firmly as he made that commitment.
“Okay, then let’s just forget about the whole thing for now,” I suggested. “I never asked you how things went for Rodney and the others on M5V-801.”
“Colonel Carter has a broken leg,” John offered. “Apparently she, Jennifer and Rodney fell down a big hole and she broke it trying to climb out.”
“Are they all okay?” I asked in concern.
“Rodney cut his hands up pretty bad,” John admitted. “He’s fine though – so’s Jennifer. Sam will be getting around on crutches for a few weeks but she’s fine too.”
“Wow, Rodney and the woman of his obsessions almost alone in the dark,” I said in amusement. “I bet that was a conversation worth listening in on.”
“I don’t know about that but he and Jennifer were seen having drinks just after they got out of the infirmary,” John added fuel to my speculations.
“Really?” I smiled, knowing John was just trying to distract me with the latest gossip. Call me shallow but ... it was working. I was happy to occupy my brain with thoughts about how best to begin teasing Rodney over his latest ‘love’ interest!
Diamantia from the Latin word Diamanta which means ‘Adamant, like a diamond’, from babynamenetwork dot net.
“Time’s up,” John announced a week later. He’d called me up to his office and when he shut the door after me I knew it wasn’t good news.
“Huh?” I frowned in confusion, sitting in the seat in front of his desk. John propped a hip on the desk next to me, watching me closely as he explained.
“They finally got somewhere on that investigation into how Walker knew so much about the SGC and in particular you,” John explained. “Turns out one of the IOA committee members was involved as well.”
“And?” I asked, knowing telling me that hadn’t been why John wanted to speak to me.
“The IOA now have new membership,” he revealed grimly. “The new guy is insisting on interviewing all the as he termed it ‘aliens’. He’s already locked Teyla and Ronon in for visits back to the SGC over the next few days.” John rubbed a hand over his face in frustration. “I wanted to give you as much time as you needed to accept things but if we don’t tell Colonel Carter that you were born here instead of back on Earth before the IOA start these interviews ...”
“It’ll look really bad,” I concluded glumly, getting up reluctantly. “Okay, I’ll go tell her now.”
“What about everyone else?” John asked, grabbing my hand and pulling me into him.
“God, I don’t know,” I leant my head against his chest wearily. “I guess I’ll fill Major Lorne and the rest of my team in once I’ve spoken to Sam. You can tell Rodney and the others ... if you don’t mind.”
“They won’t think any differently of you,” John squeezed me tightly.
“I know,” I sighed before adding, “but it’s just another thing isn’t it?”
“Well actually it’s more like the thing that explains all the other things,” John pointed out.
“Can I use that eloquent explanation with Sam?” I joked, looking up at him with a forced smile.
“It’s not copyrighted – yet,” John grinned smugly. “Listen, I could come with you, help you explain it to Sam.”
“I appreciate the offer,” I felt a genuine smile bubbling to the surface, “but I think it’ll go over better if I’m not clinging to your hand like a child.”
“Probably,” John agreed, giving me a pat on the back before releasing me. “Off you go then ... you’ll be fine.”
“Uh, Sam?” I stood at her office door uncertainly. “Have you got a minute?”
“Sure Sabina,” Sam smiled. “Come in.”
“Okay,” I sat down across from her, obviously apprehensive, trying to work out how best to begin.
“You can talk to me you know,” Sam said gently. “I don’t bite.”
“I know,” I acknowledged, “I’m just not sure how to start. Ah ... so when the Ancients took back Atlantis last year the leader, Helia, was very interested in my background, especially the gene power’s I’d inherited. I spent a lot of time talking with her second, Caritas, about the Lantean genes as well as the Wraith ones and about how the anti replicator protein was matched to the Wraith DNA so I’d get that protection if the nanite virus was reintroduced. Caritas and Helia were both amazed that the link had survived through ten thousand years, but they put it down to the success of their genetic design. Only it turns out there’s another explanation for all of that.” I stopped for a second to work myself up for the punch line. “During the years when the Lanteans were heavily involved in the war with the Wraith there was a severe outbreak of Kirsan fever ... it affected babies and children alike, even some of the adults. In the confusion a baby was stolen from the infirmary and never heard of again. I ah ... I’ve pretty much confirmed that I am that baby.”
“What?” Sam sat forward abruptly, looking at me with an expression I hoped didn’t mean she thought I was crazy. “How? Why?”
“I don’t know the why yet,” I admitted. “I stumbled across a reference in the Ancient library for using the Hologram Room to make contact with an Ascended Ancient – to ask for guidance. I tried it out not really expecting it to work and eventually found myself talking to someone called Diamantia – she said she removed me from the past because I need to be here now, that all the humans in the galaxy will suffer if I don’t fulfil my purpose.”
“I don’t suppose she told you what that purpose was?” Sam commented grimly.
“Ah – not really, no,” I replied apologetically.
“I’m not discounting what you’ve told me,” Sam said thoughtfully, “but for you to have travelled to the future goes against everything we believe about the nature of time itself.”
“Diamantia explained that too,” I responded. “She said that my future is her past ... in fact she said that our present is her past too. That’s the reason the other Ascendeds haven’t cottoned on to her interference – because of the separation of place and time as she put it.”
“But surely if your origins are Lantean instead of Earth we would have discovered it before now?” Sam asked. “Didn’t Doctor Becket do a full DNA analysis for you when you first came to Atlantis?”
“Not as far as I know,” I offered. “He tested the sectors where the ATA gene resides and of course found that I had it – I think that’s when he found the anti replicator protein too , and then later he matched up the Wraith DNA based on Teyla’s DNA. He must have found a few things of interest because he spoke to Doctor Lam back at the SGC about me but it was mainly to do with the ATA/Wraith gene link. I haven’t actually spent that much time in the infirmary, apart from my one stint recently. I’m not sure I’ve ever had anything done that would have made a Doctor suspicious – Lantean and human physiology is pretty similar, especially on the surface. Doctor Beckett didn’t know Chia was an Ancient until Rodney tricked her into revealing herself.”
“That does make sense,” Sam agreed. “How long have you known about this?”
“Since we came back from Earth,” I admitted a bit guiltily. “John wanted me to tell you but he didn’t think a little time to get used to the idea would hurt anyone. To be honest I still don’t know what to make of this ... the only reason I’m telling you now is because of this new IOA push to interview all the aliens. Not that I consider myself an alien – I was raised on Earth and something that happened so long ago isn’t going to change who I am. I just didn’t want this to come back and hurt John, or you, if we weren’t up front before the IOA gets started.”
“I appreciate you coming forward like this Sabina,” Sam replied. “Leave it with me for now ... I’ll inform the SGC and the IOA and I’ll let you know if they want to speak to you personally.”
“Thanks Sam,” I got up feeling much lighter than I had when I’d sat down, relieved to have the conversation out of the way.
“You’ll let me know as soon as you learn any more about this purpose Diamantia spoke of,” Sam instructed firmly.
“Of course,” I agreed. “Although to be honest I don’t know how I’m going to find out any more than I already know. I’ve got nothing to go on and Diamantia said she couldn’t speak to me again before whatever’s gonna happen happens.”
“She didn’t give you any clues on the timing?” Sam asked curiously.
“Nothing obvious to me,” I replied. I felt a pang of guilt at deliberately keeping Diamantia’s comment about a companion being taken by the Wraith to myself. I wasn’t doing that because she’d told me to – I was doing it because I had no way of knowing who that companion was likely to be. John wouldn’t be able to prevent that from happening but he could ground me so I couldn’t be with them. I wasn’t sure I believed what Diamantia said about my purpose but if it happened the way she’d said and my being there helped save one of our own then I had to make sure I had the opportunity.
“Okay,” Sam nodded. “I’ll let you know what the response is from Earth.”
Thanking Sam again I hurried from her office, keen to catch up with John.
John was conducting a training session by the time I got done so I couldn’t see him until dinner ... and then it would be a team Sheppard affair. In the interim I tracked down Major Lorne and the rest of my team, keen to get it over with now I’d been forced to reveal what I’d learned about myself. Rather than search the city looking for them I radioed everyone individually and asked them to meet me in one of the smaller, rarely used, conference rooms.
They were all sitting around the table waiting for me when I rushed in deliberately a few minutes late.
“Guys,” I said, sitting down and attempting a casual smile. I was nervous ... not because I really thought I’d get a less than favourable response but because I wasn’t ready to be ‘an Ancient’ and after I’d told them there’d be no going back.
“Sabina?” Evan looked at me in concern, easily picking up on my nervousness.
“I ah ... I’m just going to blurt this out,” I announced. “You guys all know that I was adopted right?” Parker and Brown both nodded without saying anything. “Okay, well, I was actually abandoned at birth and I never knew my birth parents. When John and I were on Earth recently I did some digging to see if I could find out about them – there were reasons for that but they’re not really important right now. Anyway, I ah ... I managed to find my adoption record and it was ... vague.” Realising that I was rambling and not doing a very good job of explaining the background I paused to regroup.
Looking at Evan I started again. “Remember that discovery I mentioned when we were waiting for Atlantis to contact us ... on M7G-677? The one I said I had to tell John about first?”
“I had other concerns at the time,” Evan reminded me the situation had been a lot direr than I was making it sound. “But sure – I remember something like that being said.”
“Well, the discovery was a way to talk to Ascended Ancients through the hologram room,” I revealed. “I tried it and I actually spoke to one. She said things that made me question my origins and then after we got back from Earth I spoke to her again. This is where it gets really interesting. Diamantia ... that’s her name ... she ah ... she said she stole me from my birth parents and took me to Earth and gave me to the Scott’s.”
“Stole you from where?” Evan frowned in confusion.
“From here ... from Atlantis,” I replied. “Only it wasn’t now ... it was 10,000 years ago.”
There was silence for a moment before Parker decided to comment.
“That makes you really, really old, doesn’t it?” he said with a straight face, making me laugh in spite of the situation.
“I hadn’t really thought about it like that but I guess in a way it does,” I returned. “Thanks for pointing that out.”
“You’re welcome,” Parker grinned. “You know how I like to be helpful.”
“So you’ve got an Ancient name then?” Brown queried after another moments pause.
“You’re not calling me anything other than Sabina,” I shot him a warning glance, “so there’s really no point in telling you what my birth name was.”
“Tell us anyway,” Lorne practically ordered.
“I’m not telling you,” I returned stubbornly.
“We’ll just find out some other way,” Parker pointed out.
“No you won't," I shot back. "And you can't tell anyone else about this yet,” I almost pleaded. “I ah ... I know it’ll get out eventually but I’m not ready to be a curiosity just yet.”
“You were worried about how we’d take this weren’t you?” Evan asked, his expression bland.
“No!” I returned instantly. “I trust you guys so no ... but once I start admitting to being someone born on Atlantis 10,000 years ago it’s real ... and it has to change things. I don’t know how yet but accepting that this is all true changes me ... I’m not who I thought I was anymore.”
“You are to us,” Parker said simply.
“Yeah,” Brown seconded that quickly. “I don’t care where you were born.”
“Thank you,” I smiled at each of my team mates gratefully. “Look ... I’ll get used to this eventually. I just wanted you guys to know first because Colonel Carter has to report what I’ve told you to the SGC and the IOA ... their new membership is making some kind of push to evaluate the ‘aliens’. God forbid they label me as one but it could happen.”
“We won’t let them take you anywhere,” Brown promised.
“I’m not sure any of us will get the choice,” I admitted. Not liking the downturn in the mood I smiled gamely. “So anyway, that’s the news and ah ... thanks for listening.”
Parker and Brown got up, each slapping my shoulder companionably as they walked out, talking about some football game they’d got on DVD in the last shipment from Earth. Evan loitered, waiting until they’d disappeared before speaking.
“This was what you were worried about?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “You were right though ... John laughed when I admitted I was worried it might change things.”
“It won’t,” Evan reaffirmed. “Not with the people who count.”
“I know,” I smiled, all at once feeling more comfortable with my situation. I didn’t have to accept everything right there and then and I didn’t have to let it change how I looked at the world. What I did have to do was work out how to use it ... how to make something out of events contrived without my free will. How to make my birth parent’s unwitting sacrifice have meaning.
“What happened to your parents?” Evan asked, “your birth parents?” It was something John and I had skirted around so far and Evan's question forced me to think about it right there and then.
“I found them in the Ancient database, but ...,” I shook my head sadly. “I don’t know Evan. They were in there ... I was in there but ... there were no personal details. They lost a baby that was never found ... that’s all I know.”
“I’m sure they missed you,” Evan said softly.
“Well I hope not too much,” I replied, causing him to frown. “Who wants to know that not being there made someone miserable for the rest of their lives?” I asked, trying to explain. “I’d much rather believe they grieved for a time and then went on with their lives ... just like I’ve had to. I mean - they would have gotten over it eventually, right?”
“No,” Lorne returned, understanding immediately what I was alluding to. “I’m pretty sure you never get over the loss of a child. But did they learn to live with it? Did they find happiness in other areas of their lives? I think so.”
“I think so too,” I replied.
With my own team successfully 'in the know' all that remained was for me to find out how John’s team had taken the news.
“Hey Sabina,” Rodney greeted me smartly when I arrived at their table for dinner, “or should we be calling you Carus now?”
“Not if you want me to respond,” I retorted, sliding into the seat next to John with a raised brow. "You told them the name thing too?"
“I filled them in on your latest discovery,” John confirmed. "Rodney's not really going to start calling you Carus," he pinned Rodney with a warning look, wordlessly demanding Rodney agree.
"Ah ... no, no I'm not," Rodney gulped and looked both nervous and apologetic all at the same time.
"Having origins in the Pegasus galaxy is another thing we can share in common,” Teyla offered graciously. “I am saddened for the parents you never knew ... I believe they would have been proud of what you’ve accomplished without them to guide you.”
“Thanks Teyla,” I smiled gratefully.
“Always knew you were too good to be a mere human,” Ronon quipped, directly a teasing grin John’s way.
“I wouldn’t put it like that,” I retorted, “but in a way I’m kind of relieved there’s a much simpler reason for all that weird DNA and blood stuff.”
“You call kidnapping and time travel to the future simple?” Rodney asked incredulously.
“It’s a neat explanation,” I persisted before trying to change the subject. “I know this is big news but can we just go back to me being Sabina Sheppard now?”
“For now,” Teyla agreed. “But I fear you will not be able to bury your true origins forever.”
“I’m going to give it a damn good try,” I returned, deliberately ignoring the concerned look John was giving me. Telling his team and mine and resolving to accept it, to make something of it was one thing ... having the whole city talking about it was something else entirely and I was so not ready to go there.
“You know what this means, don’t you?” Rodney had that teasing look on his face, this time directed at John.
“No Rodney,” John retorted with exaggerated patience. “What does it mean?”
“You actually did end up with the hot alien!” Rodney laughed when everyone groaned at his poor jest.
“I think I’ll take that as a compliment,” I decided with a rueful laugh. “Anyway, if you believe all of this then this is my home turf.”
“So?” Rodney looked at me in confusion.
“So you really should be saying it the other way – that I ended up with the hot alien,” I pointed out with a mischievous look at John.
“All right,” John said firmly as the others laughed again. “Can we change the subject now, please?”
The others let me off the hook and dinner returned to its usual pattern.
Of course it wasn’t going to be as easy as that. The day before Teyla was due on Earth for her IOA interview I received what could only be classed as an order for an interview of my own. It was going to be Teyla first, then me and then Ronon.
“I can’t believe they’re doing this,” I’d rushed straight down to John’s office as soon as Sam had let me know and was pacing around because I had too much nervous energy inside to sit down. “They’re treating me like I’m not even from Earth. It’s insulting!”
“I’ll speak to Colonel Carter,” John promised grimly, just as annoyed as I was.
“She won’t be able to stop this interview thing,” I said despondently.
“No,” John agreed, “but she can speak with General O’Neill, make sure the IOA can’t revoke your placement here or reassign you somewhere else. Then it’s just a case of you humouring them.”
“God I didn’t even think of that!” I exclaimed. “Is that a risk for Teyla and Ronon as well?”
“Only in an official capacity,” John clarified. “It’s not like the IOA can order us not to be friends anymore.”
“Can you speak to Sam straight away?” I looked at him pleadingly. “We need to make sure I’m safe because I really don’t think I can go back to Earth unless I’ve got some kind of promise.”
“I won’t let them keep you there,” John made a promise of his own. “In any case, if they try something like that on the basis that you’re Lantean then you can equally claim the Pegasus galaxy as your home for exactly the same reason. It’d be pretty stupid on their part to push that line.”
“You’re right,” that thought actually did cheer me up a little, not that I wanted to claim another galaxy as my home if it meant I’d have to give up ties to Earth.
“I’ll talk to Carter,” John promised again.
Teyla took her almost seven month pregnant self through the Stargate to the midway station the next day. As if it wasn’t enough to waste time going to Earth in the first place, first we’d have to waste 24 hours in quarantine, and then another 24 hours on the way back. I went about my usual routine for the four days Teyla was away, getting more and more apprehensive the closer it got to her return, because her return would signal my departure.
I was in the Control Room when she dialled in from Midway, and waited impatiently to speak with her while she filled Sam and John in on her visit.
“Teyla,” I called when she walked from Sam’s office a few minutes later.
“Sabina,” Teyla greeted me with a smile.
“How’d it go?” I asked hopefully.
“It was an interesting experience,” Teyla replied diplomatically. “The new IOA member, Mr Coolidge, was just as Sam cautioned he would be. I believe that I was able to convince him of my continuing importance on Atlantis, although he appeared to be distracted by the fact that I am pregnant.”
“Great,” I muttered sarcastically. “A male chauvinist – that’s gonna work in my favour - not.”
“You will do fine,” Teyla insisted. “In fact I have something that should ease your mind considerably.”
“What is it?” I asked with a puzzled frown.
“A note from General O’Neill,” Teyla reached into a pocket and pulled out a sealed envelope. “General Landry assured me this would see you much happier to go along with the IOA’s agenda.”
“Thanks Teyla,” I took the note and opened it straight away, smiling as soon as I’d got the gist of what it contained.
“Sabina,” Jack had written. “Consider this your get out of jail free card. You can pass go but don’t expect the IOA to be handing out anything anywhere near as useful as $200. Give me a call when you get done – we’ll have cake. Jack.”
“It is good news?” Teyla looked at me curiously.
“I was worried they’d revoke my position here,” I admitted with a self depreciating shrug. “General O’Neill has given me his assurance that won’t happen. So yeah, it’s good news.”
“When do you depart?” Teyla asked.
“An hour,” I said unenthusiastically. “Just enough time for me to say goodbye to John and grab my gear. I’ll catch up with you when I get back – we can compare notes.”
“Of course,” Teyla agreed. “I believe John is attempting to get your attention.”
“What?” glancing over my shoulder I smiled when I saw John standing outside Sam’s office waving at me. “See you later,” I called to Teyla as I headed over to John. “Time to say goodbye?” I asked glumly.
“Come on,” John urged. “I’ll carry your bag.”
It was just an excuse of course, John helping me with my gear so we could go back to our quarters for a private goodbye.
“General O’Neill came through with that guarantee,” I told John once we were behind closed doors. “That’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
“You’ll still have to play the game,” John reminded me. “Just answer their questions as briefly as you can – don’t give them anything they haven’t asked for.”
“You already told me this,” I said, amused in a warm and fuzzy way at his ‘take care of me’ approach. “I think you can find a better use for my time.”
“I’m sure I can,” John smiled, pulling me into him and then dipping me low to the floor.
“What are you doing?” I asked, laughing as I clung to him tightly.
“Making sure you have something to think about during your interview,” John said innocently, kissing me lightly as he pulled me up again. He spun me away from him before bringing me back in against his chest sharply.
“This will certainly do the trick,” I agreed, keeping my arm strong around him. “They might think I’m insane though it I spend the whole time grinning to myself.”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to control yourself,” John quipped before letting the humour drop from his face. He looked down at me, his eyes dark and serious. “Don’t let them make you feel less than you are,” he ordered. Before I could think of a response he was kissing me purposefully, making me feel like I was his whole world. He had me lost in those feelings to the point that I groaned and tried to keep him with me when he made to pull away.
“Not yet,” I pleaded.
“We don’t have time for everything I’d like to be doing right now,” John ran his hands down my back, aligning us in all the right places just in case I was in doubt as to his meaning. “Everything I will be doing just as soon as you get back.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” I promised. “I won’t care what you’re doing at the time ... it could be very embarrassing for you.”
“I’ll make myself available,” John promised in return.
Wordlessly I gathered up my bag and took John’s hand, letting him lead me from our room and all the way to the Gateroom.
Throwing him a confident wave and a ‘see you later’ I stepped through the wormhole.
The IOA didn’t waste any time. I’d no sooner arrived at the SGC after my 24 hours on Midway than I found myself in a conference room at a table full of IOA members. I was severely outnumbered and wondered at their obvious attempt to intimidate as they began without even introducing themselves.
“Thank you for joining us Mrs Sheppard,” one of the men took control immediately. “Mr Coolidge I presume,” I thought in amusement. “If we could begin with you explaining the fact that you aren’t in fact from Earth but rather from Atlantis?”
“Since I’ve spent twenty eight of my thirty two years on Earth I think I can still claim being from here,” I began pointedly. “As for explaining the fact that I was born on Atlantis I can’t – all of my memories begin here. All I can tell you is what Colonel Carter put in her report. An Ascended Ancient admitted recently that she took me from Atlantis some time during their war with the Wraith – for reasons she failed to go in to.”
“Surely she offered some kind of justification for such a radical action?” Mr Coolidge scoffed in disbelief.
“If you’d ever met an Ancient, Ascended or not, you’d understand that justification isn’t exactly their strong suit,” I said smoothly. “There are enough examples of that for my current situation not to be a surprise.”
“Do you feel differently about your commitment to Earth now?” one of the other members asked blandly.
“I’m married to an air force Colonel,” I reminded them. “And I’ve spent the last four years helping him protect this planet from the Wraith. I don’t think you can get much more committed than that.”
“Do you consider yourself Lantean instead of human?” Mr Coolidge persisted.
“Human doesn’t have to mean just people from Earth,” I pointed out. “By definition it also means having human form or attributes – and I definitely have those.” Before they could ask me another lame question I pressed on. “Look, I don’t know what it is to be anything other than what I am. The few Lanteans I have met didn’t exactly inspire me to want to be just like them. I don’t see myself as being any different than I was before I spoke to Diamantia and I’d fully expect that no one else would either.”
“And Colonel Sheppard agrees with this,” someone asked.
“Of course,” I said confidently. “He thought I was being just a tad silly to worry that others might treat me differently because of something that happened so long ago. The few people who already know have proved him right so far.” A subtle push for them to put aside their petty line of questioning but hopefully it would do the trick.
“Perhaps you would like to refresh yourself before we begin again,” one of them offered, meaning they wanted to talk about me for a while before deciding what questions to ask next.
“That would be nice,” I agreed graciously.
That first meeting was probably the most disturbing of the many I endured over the next day and a half. Surprisingly the whole kidnapping incident on Earth was never mentioned ... perhaps because Mr Coolidge himself wouldn’t be sitting in his cushy IOA seat but for Walker and his plot to use me.
It was the only thing I had to be grateful for though. They’d obviously worked through every Atlantis report that I’d had some part in and proceeded to question my thinking and my motives for all of them. It took too long and it was needlessly boring and monotonous but I played along just as John had requested and I got through it relatively unscathed. All the while I was reminding myself that General O’Neill had promised my safe return to Atlantis and recalling at inappropriate times John’s promise to finish what he’d started just before my departure.
Finally I was done and Mr Coolidge was informing me they’d send through any recommendations concerning my role to Colonel Carter.
“I’ll look forward to that,” I thought snidely.
When a knock sounded at the door while Coolidge was still doing his self importance routine I looked up disinterestedly, until I saw a familiar face.
“General O’Neill,” Coolidge greeted Jack almost respectfully. “I had no idea you were visiting the SGC today.”
“Just checking up on my empire Bob,” Jack quipped in return. “I was hoping you were finished so I could steal Sabina away. They’re serving chocolate cake in the Mess,” he shared with me, “and you know how much I like chocolate.”
“We had just concluded our meetings,” Coolidge replied congenially – not an expression he’d shown the whole time I’d been there and frankly, not a good look for him.
“Good,” Jack grinned. “Shall we?” he looked at me expectantly.
“I could use some cake,” I followed him casually; waiting until he’d closed the door behind us before showing him how happy I was to see him. “Thank you,” I said fervently. “After two days of ... that I’ve used up what little patience I ever possessed.”
“From what I hear you did good,” Jack said seriously.
“Yeah well having that free pass from you helped my attitude no end,” I replied gratefully. “I really appreciate that by the way.”
“If I can’t pull a few strings, flex a few muscles, then there’s no point in being The Man,” Jack refused to take as much credit as he deserved for helping me. “I wasn’t joking about the cake though.”
“You came all the way from Washington to have cake?” I asked in amusement.
“They don’t make it right up there,” Jack complained.
“Or maybe it’s just that you still miss being around here,” I suggested gently.
“There is that,” Jack agreed. “I hear your super powers aren’t that super after all.”
“If you mean I’m just a kidnap victim instead of a genetic marvel then you heard correctly,” I played along, knowing Sam would have given him the full story as soon as she’d heard it.
“And how do you feel about that?” Jack asked.
“It’s nice to give up the genetic freak label,” I tried to explain where I was at, “but it would have been better if it hadn’t come with dire predictions about galactic suffering and some higher ‘purpose’.”
“That’s one of the first things I teach,” Jack joked. “There’s always a catch when you’re not fishing.”
“Sounds like a fun class,’ I replied in amusement. “Where do I sign up?”
Cake eaten, more thanks handed out, and farewells given, I travelled back to Midway and from there 24 hours later back to Atlantis.
“Honey I’m home,” I quipped as I walked up to a waiting John.
“And it’s about time,” John hugged me quickly before grabbing my hand and leading me away.
“Is that Teal’c?” I asked in surprise, watching a tall dark man following Ronon into the Gateroom where Sam stood waiting.
“Yeah, Colonel Carter asked him to come and coach Ronon before his interview,” John explained.
“Damn,” I muttered. “He must have left the SGC while they had me locked up in that conference room so I didn’t get to meet him ... again! Didn’t get to see anyone other than General O’Neill back on Earth either. They were all off on various missions.”
“Well it wasn’t exactly a social visit,” John reminded me, urging me to keep walking. “Now as I recall I made you a promise before you left.”
“Shouldn’t we say goodbye to Ronon first?” I glanced over my shoulder at where the two men still waited.
“Already done before you got here,” John didn’t even pause in his stride. “I said good luck from you too.”
“That was nice of you,” I smiled, letting myself be swept away on the wave of his enthusiasm. “I missed you,” I said once we were tucked away in our quarters.
“You can tell me all about it later,” John replied. “I’m off duty and lucky for you I remember exactly where we were up to before you left.” And then he launched us straight from ‘hello how are you’ into passion before I had time to draw breath. As far as welcome homes went it was right up there with the best of them.
It was already dark when John and I headed up to the Control Room so I could check in with Sam and update her on my interview. Rodney had called John up there as well ... both he and Sam discussing something when we arrived.
“What's goin' on?” John asked Rodney curiously. Sam was standing looking at the screen over Rodney’s shoulder.
“Intergalactic Bridge is down,” Rodney announced.
“How'd that happen?” John asked with a frown.
“I don't know,” Rodney admitted. “We're sending the daily status reports to the SGC and we can't connect to Midway.”
“Some kind of malfunction, either in one of the Gates or the call-forwarding macro,” Sam added.
“It's probably just a glitch – a simple software hiccup,” Rodney dismissed lightly.
“Hiccup?” John looked at Rodney expectantly.
“We hope,” Sam seemed to be treating it just a little more seriously than Rodney was.
“Ronon and Teal'c!” John said abruptly.
“The malfunction occurred several minutes after they went through,” Rodney explained without concern. “I'm sure they made it to Midway.”
“But we can't be absolutely certain,” Sam discounted, earning an indignant look from Rodney.
“Those Gates are in space,” John pointed out grimly. “If they walked through, then ...” he trailed off at that unpleasant thought.
“No-no-no-no-no,” Rodney protested impatiently. “Look, the glitch occurred at M4F-788. That is a planetary Gate at the edge of the Pegasus galaxy which means – worst case scenario – they stepped through the puddle and they found themselves stranded on an uninhabited planet.”
“Stranded,” John repeated. “More time together – just what they need!”
“All indications are they made it all the way to Midway but we can check that by dialling M4F-788 independently,” Rodney explained, quickly punching the seven symbols.
The gate ran through the sequence but didn’t lock, earning a frown from Rodney. He tried again without success and began muttering to himself under his breath as he tapped away furiously at the console.
“Rodney?” John demanded.
“Working,” Rodney shot back, concentrating on his screens.
A few minutes later, still frowning Rodney sat back. “There’s nothing wrong with the dialling sequence or anything else at our end ... let’s try dialling 788 again.”
The gate did its thing, this time not stopping until the kawhoosh announced a connection.
“We've got a lock,” Sam confirmed.
“Finally,” John said in relief.
“Yeah. It seems someone was dialling out from 788,” Rodney explained. “It was preventing us from dialling in until now.”
“Ronon and Teal'c?” John questioned.
“I doubt it,” Rodney denied. “Look, even if the malfunction spat them out on the planet, the only logical address they would dial was back to Atlantis, which, as we know, they didn't.”
“Could they be there but not be able to get a lock?” I asked Rodney hopefully.
“Ronon, Teal'c, are you there?” Sam activated the comms after Rodney’s shrug indicated that as possible. There was no reply so Sam tried again. “Ronon, Teal'c, this is Colonel Carter. Please respond.”
“I'm telling you – they made it to the Midway Station before the malfunction,” Rodney insisted when there was still no response. “I'm sure of it.”
“Wait a minute,” John asked with a puzzled frown. “Didn't you say 788 is uninhabited?”
“It is,” Rodney agreed.
“All right – if it's not Ronon and Teal'c, then who dialled out?” John pointed out that glaring inconsistency.
“Ah ... good point,” Rodney responded, looking to Sam in concern.
“Get a MALP ready,” Sam ordered. “Let’s find out.”
I stood with John and Sam on the balcony overlooking the Stargate, watching the Techs getting the MALP ready. Rodney was poised at his console, waiting for his screens to show something as the MALP travelled slowly through the open wormhole.
“MALP is through,” he announced. “Receiving telemetry. Visual coming in now.”
We all looked at the wall screen as the video feed came through, showing a sandy desert like planet with a rocky outcrop a short distance away.
“See? No Ronon, no Teal'c,” Rodney pointed out.
“Pan left,” Sam ordered.
The camera moved slowly, giving us a view of the DHD – it had cables trailing from it that certainly weren’t Earth based.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked Rodney with a sense of foreboding.
“That's Wraith tech,” Rodney confirmed. “It's hooked up to the DHD.”
“Pan right,” Sam instructed grimly.
This time we got a rocky ridge with something dark on top that wasn’t quite visible until the camera tilted up and that darkness was revealed as a Wraith cruiser.
“Oh crap!” John uttered the words with a grim expression.
Before we could react further a Wraith guard walked into view with stunner aimed at the MALP. It wasn’t surprising when he fired and the screen went blank.
“We lost the feed,” Rodney said unnecessarily.
“Yeah, not to mention the MALP,” John retorted sarcastically. “Shut down the Gate.”
“Is it possible for them to have hijacked the Intergalactic Bridge?” Sam questioned Rodney.
“This is a hell of a lot more than a "hiccup"!” John looked at Rodney irritably.
“No-no-no-no, it's impossible!” Rodney insisted. “I mean, first they'd have to know about the Bridge and even if they did, there's too many security barriers in place. Look, encryption I used on the call-forwarding macros would take them years to try to ...”
“What if they knew the passwords?” John interrupted impatiently.
“How?” Rodney demanded. I could see where John was going though ... our Wraith ‘friend’, the infamous Todd!
“We just had a Wraith on base, Rodney, working with you, side by side, on your computers,” John pointed out.
“You mean Todd?” Rodney looked at John with dawning understanding. “He was our ally! Look, even if he wanted, there's no way he could hack into my system ...” Rodney trailed off as the doubts began to surface. “Could he?”
“You saw the tech hooked up to the DHD,” John insisted. “What else could they be up to?”
“All right, listen, we have to get to Midway,” Sam said decisively. “The Daedalus is back on Earth. Is there another way we can get there?”
“Well, connect to the Bridge via another Gate in Pegasus,” Rodney suggested.
“Then we have to find one that's close to the outer edge,” Sam concluded. Rodney brought up the star map with M4F-788 and its surroundings displayed.
“There's M6R-125,” he pointed to a nearby dot. “We could connect to the Bridge through that, but I'd need to reconfigure the macro.”
“OK, get on it,” Sam ordered. “Colonel, prepare a strike force.”
Rodney turned back to his console, already beginning to alter his program. John nodded to Sam and then to me before getting on his radio as he strode from the room.
“Did you want to fill me in on your interview?” Sam looked at me approachably. “It’ll be at least a few minutes before they’re ready to go.”
“Okay,” I followed Sam and gave her a quick rundown, ending by passing on Jack’s regards.
“General O’Neill was there?” Sam asked in surprise.
“Yeah,” I smiled fondly. “He said it was for the cake – they don’t make it right in Washington apparently – but I think he was just making sure the IOA couldn’t go around him. Thanks for speaking to him about me by the way.”
“No problem,” Sam said simply. “You’re done?” she looked up and asked when Rodney appeared in her doorway.
“We’re good to go,” Rodney announced, urging Sam to follow him back to the Control Room. John was already there and I shot him a quick smile before turning back to Rodney.
“We're re-directed,” Rodney explained, pointing to the star map. “We gate from Atlantis to M6R-125. We insert this crystal with the Bridge macros into the DHD., dial the first Gate in the void and we're back on track all the way to Midway.”
“Is your strike force ready?” Sam asked John.
“As soon as McKay gears up, we're ready to go,” John announced.
“Well, I'm not ...,” Rodney began before sighing in resignation. “All right, I'm gearing up.”
The brief wait for Rodney to go get his gear gave me just enough time to talk to John. I didn’t bother to ask if I could go along, knowing there was no way to justify my inclusion that would satisfy Sam, let alone John.
“Be careful,” I said to him in a low tone, walking with him down the steps to the Gateroom floor where a large contingent of Atlantis soldiers stood ready. It wasn’t like John hadn’t gone out on dangerous missions before but I’d never gotten complacent or learned to take for granted that he’d make it back okay. Every such leaving was therefore a strange mix of trying to be positive along with masking the desire for a fervent goodbye spurred on by unnameable fears.
“It’ll be fine,” John said confidently. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
“Make sure you are,” I ordered briskly, earning a small smile in return.
“Colonel Sheppard,” Sam drew our attention just as the Stargate kawhooshed a connection to M6R-125. “Let’s make sure they can’t use Midway to get to Earth. Then Rodney, establish contact with Earth and inform them of the situation.”
There was no time for further goodbyes. I had to be content with a small smile and wave as John urged his team through the gate.
“Waiting again,” I said to Sam once the Stargate sat silent again. “You know I hate that right?”
“I can’t say I’m all that fond of it myself,” Sam replied with a sigh. “Especially since I’m still more used to being on the team heading out rather than staying behind like this.”
“We’ll hear something back soon enough,” I tried to be jovial but Sam saw right through me.
“You’ve covered a bit of ground today,” she commented. “Why don’t you go get some rest? I’ll let you know as soon as they report.”
“Okay,” I hadn’t slept well the whole time back on Earth so I nodded my thanks almost happily. I wasn’t exactly relaxed but if I’d known it would be two weeks before I’d hear word of John I wouldn’t have gone off for a nap with even that level of ease.
While I love the whole Midway episode the sight of a Wraith with fingers over an Earth keyboard in the classic QWERTY formation had me cringing and brought back the same ‘This is ridiculous’ thoughts as for “Michael”. Maybe Todd after weeks on Atlantis would have learnt to use our technology but to pass that on to other Wraith? I know it’s just a show but I would have preferred seeing the Wraith using some kind of Wraith/Earth interface like Rodney created in The Lost Boys than just sitting at the keyboard doing 60 words per minute. But that’s just me.
I returned to the Control Room two hours later, only to discover that every effort to dial in to Midway had proven useless, even though Rodney should have fixed things with his redirect crystal. Either the Pegasus Gate on Midway was in use or somehow it had been disabled so that we couldn’t dial in. I was concerned but not worried ... it wasn't unusual for things to take longer than expected to fix, even for the great Rodney McKay.
Having nothing constructive to do left us waiting for them to send word to us, either directly or via Earth. That approach took us another couple of hours into the night with no news ... that's when my worry began to escalate.
At that point Sam decided the use of ZPM power was worth it and dialled Earth directly. The fact that I’d been pacing around the Control Room since I’d returned, getting more and more agitated with every minute that passed without word had nothing to do with that ... although perhaps there was a slight smidgeon of taking pity on me in her decision.
“Stargate Command this is Atlantis,” Sam announced once the connection was established. “What’s your status?”
“It’s good to hear from you,” General Landry said with evident relief. “We feared Midway had been destroyed when we didn’t hear back immediately.”
“We’re not using the Intergalactic Bridge Sir,” Sam admitted with a concerned look around the Control Room. “We sent through a strike force, led by Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay, a couple of hours after the malfunction occurred. When we didn’t hear anything from Midway and we couldn’t establish a lock I decided a direct dial in was warranted. What happened Sir?”
“The Wraith sent through a stun device to the SGC,” General Landry reported. “Knocked us all unconscious and sent the whole facility into lockdown. A number of Wraith managed to make it through ... who knows what they could have done if Ronon and Teal’c hadn’t come through after them. As it stands, all the Wraith are accounted for with minimal injury on our side.”
“That’s a relief Sir,” Sam replied. “Ronon and Teal’c had no idea what was happening on Midway?”
“No,” General Landry said seriously. “We’ve tried to contact them also with no success. The Daedalus is on its way there but it’ll be two weeks before they arrive even pushing the hyperdrive engines. At the very least we have to assume the gate bridge has been damaged – with any luck Doctor McKay is working on fixing it as we speak and we’ll hear from them before the Daedalus gets there.”
“Let’s hope so Sir,” Sam responded as positively as she could manage. “We’ll check in a week from now. Atlantis out.” Motioning for Chuck to cut the connection she turned to Teyla and I with a frown. “Not the news we were hoping for,” she commented grimly.
“We could take a Jumper out there,” I proposed hopefully. “Gate to the last Stargate in the network and then sublight the rest of the way.”
“You’re still looking at more than a week’s travel,” Sam pointed out. “You won’t get there much before the Daedalus and if things are worse than just a disabled Gate it won’t be soon enough to help them.”
“We should still try,” I argued. “I’m happy to spend the time and what’s the harm? The Wraith would be long gone now their doorway to Earth isn’t working anymore.”
“Unless they’re still there trying to fix it,” Sam said reluctantly. “I don’t want to think that’s the case any more than you do because it means we’ve lost our people but I have to consider the possibility.”
“We can go in cloaked, check it out first,” I persisted. “And if they manage to fix things while we’re en route you can get them to leave us a message of some kind so we’ll know what happened when we get there.” Sensing that Sam was weakening I resorted to pleading. “Please let me do this.”
Sam thought for a moment, focussing on me with an assessing look as she worked through the pros and cons. “Okay,” she agreed finally. “Major Lorne can lead the mission. Load up the Jumper with enough supplies to get you there and back, just in case.”
“Thank you,” I felt my spirits lift now I was doing something to help find John and the others.
Major Lorne found me while I was checking existing supplies in Jumper two.
“You volunteered us for a mission,” he commented from the open hatch.
“Do you mind?” I asked, thinking that maybe he was annoyed I hadn’t spoken to him first.
“Of course not,” Evan replied with a frown. “I’m just ... concerned about what we might find. Are you sure you want to be along for that? I’ll still be leading the mission even if you want to sit this one out.”
“I appreciate the offer but the sooner I know the better,” I replied firmly. “I’ve been running all the possibilities through my head – I need the distraction, need to do something.”
“All right,” Evan agreed simply. “Make sure we’ve got enough to see us there and back. Add in a return trip with a maximum load just in case we ...” he trailed off without saying it.
“When we find survivors,” I finished it for him with a confident nod. “I’ll see to it.”
And then we were away, having committed ourselves to a long and tedious trip with an uncertain conclusion.
Nothing of note happened during the journey ... in fact the four of us deliberately didn’t talk about the reason we were out there. We could have been going to a barn dance for all the evident attention we gave to the mission objective. On the surface anyway ... I didn’t know about my team mates, but every spare watt of my mental energy was going into alternating between praying we’d find John, Rodney and the others alive and trying desperately not to think about it at all.
Almost two weeks later we arrived at the location of the Midway Station.
Only it wasn’t there anymore. Instead we found enough floating debris, spread out over a vast area, to account for it's whereabouts. Given two weeks of inertial movement from the point of origin it told a grim story about the fate of the station.
“There was an explosion,” Evan confirmed, checking the readings on the sensors. “Could have been the self destruct though – it would have been the easy way to make sure the Wraith couldn’t keep sending more troops through.”
“Then where is everyone?” I couldn’t help the quiver in my voice. Parker and Brown both made as if the view screens in their seats behind pilot and copilot were the most interesting things in the entire galaxy, leaving Evan to look after me.
“I’ll start scanning sector by sector,” Evan tried to reassure me. “If they used the Jumper as an escape pod it might take a while to locate them.”
“We all know there were too many of our people on that station to fit in one Puddle Jumper,” I said, despairing of finding John alive and well. “I ah ...,” I took a shuddering breath, trying to reign in my emotions. “I need to ...,” I gestured vaguely to the back section, quickly making my way there and slamming the bulk head closed behind me.
And then I just let go, sobbing violently for John, convinced that this time I wasn’t going to get that lucky reprieve. I don’t know how long I checked out for but I was staring fixedly at the wall opposite me when Evan reopened the bulkhead.
“Sabina,” he said gently. “We just picked up an incoming ship on long range sensors. It’s the Daedalus – they’ll be here in half an hour.”
“Anything on the scans?” I asked blankly, carefully not making eye contact. “Communications?”
“Not so far,” Evan replied. “We’ve still got a bit of ground to cover. It’ll go faster with the Daedalus here – their equipment is much stronger than the Puddle Jumper’s. We’ll keep going until they get here and then we’ll dock, fill them in on the sectors we’ve already searched.”
“Okay,” I turned away, resuming my examination of ... nothing.
“Don’t give up,” Evan said softly before leaving me to my solitude.
The Daedalus arrived and Major Lorne flew us into the F302 bay. Ronon was waiting when we opened the back hatch.
“Have you guys picked up any signs of Sheppard or the others?” Evan asked him as soon as we stepped out of the Jumper.
“We will,” Ronon looked at me when he made that promise and I tried to borrow something from his conviction.
“It’s good to see you’re okay,” I told him in a low tone, letting him pull me in for a comforting hug.
“They’re out there,” Ronon assured me.
I couldn’t respond, just nodded quickly, and then followed the others to the Bridge.
An hour later the Daedalus finally found something. It was Midway’s Puddle Jumper but when Colonel Caldwell called them on the radio there was no response.
“Bring it into the 302 Bay,” Caldwell ordered.
I kept up with Ronon’s long strides as we both rushed down there. I couldn’t think why John wouldn’t have answered the Daedalus’ hail but finding something was still better than nothing at all.
Ronon hit the external hatch controls and we both stepped back, waiting to see what we’d find inside. It only took a micro second for me to realise that John wasn’t amongst the people inside the back section.
“Rodney!” I pushed past the other occupants, grabbing his shirt front and demanding information impatiently. “Where’s John?”
“Forward section,” Rodney turned and hit the button to open the bulkhead. Everything inside me leapt when I saw John slumped in the pilot’s seat. He’d swivelled the chair so he could use it and the seat behind as a make shift recliner. He was actually sleeping, headphones over his ears!
“Oh God,” I leant against the wall unsteadily. “I thought ...,” I trailed off with a desperate look at Rodney.
“He lasted about a day,” Rodney explained. “Sealed himself in there.”
Wordlessly I pushed away from the wall and hugged Rodney quickly, letting him go just as quickly hoping he’d know I was glad to see him alive too.
“Wh-where are we?” Bill Lee asked in disbelief.
“Daedalus 302 Bay,” Ronon replied. “We saw you, we scooped you up; we're heading back to Atlantis.”
“Thank God!” Peter Kavanagh exclaimed. It was petty but I couldn’t help but think if that guy had survived and John hadn’t there would have been no justice in the world. It was already clear from the small numbers present that we'd lost a number of people on Midway, most of those on the teams John had chosen for the mission.
“Midway was destroyed,” Rodney told us.
“Yeah, we saw,” Ronon glanced in at John and then back to me. “No wonder he didn't hear the radio call - you gonna wake him up?”
“What?” I realised I’d just been staring at John and blushed in embarrassment. “Of course I’m going to wake him up!”
Moving forward I stopped by John’s chair and contemplated how best to do that. “Look away gentlemen,” I joked before straddling John’s legs and leaning down lightly on his chest.
John shot to wakefulness as soon as he felt my weight, dropping his feet to the floor. His eyes locked with mine and in that instant he pieced together everything he needed to work out how I could be there. He said nothing, just ripped his headphones off and then threaded his fingers through the back of my hair, pulling me into him and kissing me urgently.
I kissed him back, not even caring if Ronon and Rodney were still there or not.
“God I missed you,” John pulled back to look at me intently. “I would have anyway but two weeks stuck in a Jumper with those guys? I swear if I hadn’t locked myself in here I would have taken a stunner to the lot of them ... repeatedly.”
“Even Rodney?” I quipped, grinning because I was just so damn happy to be sitting there in his lap looking at his beard roughened face.
“Okay, maybe not Rodney,” John allowed. “Not that I’m not very happy to see you but, how’d you get here?”
“Gated as close as we could and then did almost two weeks of my own in Jumper Two with Lorne and the others,” I explained simply. Remembering how I’d felt only an hour before my lips quivered and I could feel tears welling into my eyes. “We didn’t know what had happened to you ... then we got here and there was no trace of you. Oh John, I really thought ...,” I swallowed hard, looking at him miserably.
“I’m sorry,” John settled me into his arms so my head was resting on his chest. “But it wasn’t by choice. The Wraith booby trapped the Gate – when we shut it down to stop them sending through more reinforcements it triggered the self destruct. Rodney couldn’t shut it off in time so we were forced to abandon the station.”
“You survived,” I affirmed gratefully. I hugged him tightly for a time before reluctantly stirring myself. “I’m sure you want to get out of here and Colonel Caldwell probably wants an update too.”
“Duty calls,” John acknowledged, helping me off his lap and then standing up beside me. “Let’s get it done then so we can have a proper reunion.”
“Now you’re talking!” I grinned, desperate feelings forgotten for the time being.
Of course Ronon passed his interview with the IOA based solely on the impressive performance he’d given in ridding the SGC of Wraith. Teyla and I passed as well, both of us agreeing that Ronon had gotten off easily in the whole scheme of things.
It wasn’t until we we’d been back on Atlantis for a couple of weeks that I found out just how close I’d come to losing John. We were sitting in the Mess at dinner and Rodney was ribbing John about something that had happened that day.
“Well at least you didn’t make me vent the atmosphere this time,” Rodney returned one of John’s comments jokingly.
“When did he do that?” I asked curiously.
“Didn’t he tell you?” Rodney asked, suddenly serious. “On Midway when the Wraith were about to overrun us. John ordered me to vent the air even though he wasn’t at the Puddle Jumper. I seriously thought I’d killed him. I don’t know how he did it but somehow he managed to get himself into one of the spacesuits before he completely ran out of oxygen.”
“Something you forgot to tell me?” I raised an eyebrow at John in annoyed disbelief.
“I was just too happy seeing you again,” John tried to go the charming, flatterer path.
“You are in big trouble mister,” I got up, held out a hand to him imperiously and ordered “on your feet soldier.”
“Yes Ma’am,” John kept a straight face with difficultly, more than amused by my attempt at being stern and commanding. “Sorry guys,” he said to his team, grabbing my hand and assisting me in pulling him from his chair. “Looks like we’re leaving now.”
“Have fun,” Ronon smirked.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about that,” I said in all seriousness, moving to gaze out the window once we were back in our room.
“You were already too upset thinking I’d died when the station blew up,” John came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. Resting his chin on top of my head he sighed. “I couldn’t make it any worse by telling you all the details.”
“I get that,” I turned into him and looked up with a frown. “But what about after? We were on the Daedalus for almost two weeks!”
“I suppose I wanted to avoid just this reaction,” John admitted honestly. “I didn’t have any choice you know and I didn’t make the decision to give that order to Rodney lightly. Thinking of how you’d find a way to make me pay if I didn’t make it spurned me to push myself when I thought I couldn’t go any further.”
“You wouldn’t be the man I love if you’d done anything different,” I acknowledged, sighing as I added, “although you do make that role very difficult at times.”
“No more than you these days,” John pointed out. “So, what’s my punishment for leaving out some of the details?”
“Well ...,” I smiled as I insinuated my hands under his shirt and ran them up his back. “You could show me some of the upside of being Mrs Sheppard.”
“You mean this?” John wrapped his arms around my waist and lifted me easily. I felt the muscles rippling in his back as he turned and carried me over to our bed, gently settling me to sit on the edge. Kneeling down before me he unlaced and removed each of my boots in turn.
“This is a good start,” I murmured, running my hands through the scruffy hair I loved so much. Leaning into my caresses John rested his forehead against my stomach for a moment before grinning up at me.
“Got any other orders?” he joked.
“Give me everything you’ve got,” I locked eyes with his deeply, ignoring the joke as I demanded what I wanted.
“Sabina,” John made my name a solemn caress, rising up to kiss me deeply. I reciprocated with the intensity of emotion bubbling away inside me. There was nothing really different about that night compared with any of the others we’d shared together. And yet I couldn’t deny the heightened connection ... the zing of compatible Lantean genes feeding backwards and forwards between the two of us along with the unexplainable edge that was just the inherent chemistry of ‘John and Sabina’ together.
I didn’t register the logistical moves to get us from fully clothed to naked ... John was a master at that part of the journey, never breaking the mood with the practicalities. But I jolted when it was just us, skin to skin from head to toe.
“John,” I moaned as he shifted against me, making everything fuzzy around the edges so that I could focus only on him.
He pulled out all the stops, getting me so worked up with desire that I was desperate and pleading with him to finish it before he’d even made the two of us into one. When that moment came I didn’t try to stop the emotional tears from marking tracks across my face. That I could do that, be overcome with emotion and feel comfortable revealing it, showed how far I’d come from the Sabina who’d shared similar moments with John that first time three years before.
I felt the release in every part of myself, felt him at the very core of me. He was murmuring endearments and telling me how much he loved me during his own release ... it was intense and beautiful, the same and yet different as well.
“Wow,” I was boneless and relaxed beyond belief when I came back down to Earth in the aftermath. “Where did that come from?”
“I have no idea,” John said languidly, “but give me an hour or so and I’ll see if I can stage a repeat performance.”
“An hour huh?” I smiled, pressing a kiss to his chest before resting my head against his shoulder. “Ambitious.”
“You asked for everything,” John reminded me. “If you can still move in the morning then I haven’t delivered.”
“Now you’re just bragging,” I laughed outright, wanting nothing more than to gather him up and hold him close forever.
“We’ll see,” John spoiled that one by yawning tiredly. We were both still smiling as we settled down to sleep.
I spent some time considering whether the Midway Puddle Jumper would have some kind of distress beacon to alert rescuers to its position in space. Ronon says they ‘saw’ the Jumper which sounds to me like they didn’t ... I decided to take that angle because it made for a better reunion sequence, even though really an escape pod should have had both a beacon and a proximity alarm so they’d get rescued easier and know when their rescuers were close by!