The large bonfire was ready and by the light of the torches, Radek could see a much larger gathering than just the Athosians. Many of his former coworkers -- refugees from an Earth that was no longer home -- were present, along with many who had become his new family. Ronon and Umma stood to his right and Kanna was on his left.
Wex stepped forward and began to recite the roll, in a clear, calm voice. "Marshall Sumner..."
He checked the connections one last time to make sure everything was tight, then looked over the last panel to ensure it was properly fitted. Everything seemed in order, and he trusted himself and those he had deputized to help him. He lifted the radio to his mouth. "Make sure everything is clear, then open the spillway."
"Understood," came the static-filled reply.
Radek leaned out the open windowsill and looked far below to the great metal water-wheels at the base of the stone tower. The roar of the water almost drowned out the sound of the groaning of the wheels as they began to slowly turn under the pressure of the enormous cascade -- the falls larger and broader than Niagara on Earth -- slowly at first, then at greater speed. It took about fifteen minutes before they were moving at optimum speed and Radek pulled back inside to check the circuit boards. He smiled in satisfaction to see lights popping on, circuits connecting, power flooding the panels much as the water flooded the plains of P2Y-778, J'Yehn.
Shouts and cheers from below and then the thundering sounds of boots heralded the arrival of three young men. "It works! There are lights!" the oldest shouted, his face red and his eyes as bright as the lights he had seen.
"Lights! Everywhere!" The other two echoed the first's words while nodding exuberantly.
Radek chuckled as he closed the window and fastened it. "Yes, well, that is what it was designed to do. Let's go down and check on this miracle, shall we?" He ushered them out of the control room and carefully locked the door behind him, keeping the key in his hand. The steep stairs were no longer gloomy, instead were lit by strings of LEDs illuminating each tread and running along the handrails, a vastly more efficient light source than an incandescent light bulb. His three companions touched the lights as if they were holy, gasping in wonder with each step.
At the main level, the large room was teeming with people, most of whom were merely uselessly milling around, exclaiming at the artificial lighting. Goren, Radek's primary apprentice on this world, was the first to see and greet him, with a broad smile.
"You have done it, Doctor Radek," he said, grasping Radek's hand and pumping it. "Thank you."
"Thank you, Goren," Radek replied, returning the smile. "This project has been as much yours as mine, and now it is all yours. Here is the key to the control room. Keep it safe and do not let idiots into it."
Goren laughed. "You have my word."
Then the Duke was on him, reaching out with his meaty paws and Radek had to play nice with the natives again. Darovanému koni na zuby nekoukej .
Before the final rape and abandonment of Atlantis, Radek spent a lot of time with the Athosians. The SGC counted them as 'friendlies' (Elizabeth's doing, he was sure) and there were still things to do in Pegasus, Ancient outposts with mysterious and possibly useful tech scattered among the stars. He made sure to continue to 'find' things on a regular basis, just enough to keep the wolves at bay. Much of what he 'found' was already on Atlantis, had already been on Atlantis for years, just not cataloged.
He had already picked out the planet he would settle on, Elanis, home of the ruined twin of Atlantis, the planet where Ronon and other Satedans had already settled. He knew he would not be returning to Earth. There was nothing for him there.
It wasn't difficult to smuggle equipment and building supplies out of the city. Elizabeth helped all she could, aware yet unaware of his plans, blind to everything but her own pain. She still held out hope that John would return to Atlantis, that things would go back to normal, that they could return to what they were, the glory days. Radek had given up trying to explain to her why that could never be, because it just brought him more pain to see her confusion and denial.
Most of the gene-carriers had opted to stay in Pegasus, both science staff and marines, to Radek's surprise. A few went back -- Evan Lorne among them, and like Elizabeth, Radek refused to think about it. He didn't know if Evan's decision was personal or duty-bound, but either way, it hurt. They hadn't said good-bye.
Whenever Radek managed to get to Elanis -- which was as frequently as he could -- he made sure to visit Ronon. They traded intel, discussed strategies, talked about Radek's (and his co-worker's) defections, and drank copious amounts of ale. Ronon had already purchased two large plots of land, one for Radek's home and the one adjacent for his own. Radek wanted to know why Ronon needed such a large plot for a home.
Ronon ducked his head. "I..."
Radek laughed delightedly. "You have found someone to marry!" Grabbing the pitcher, he refilled their mugs. "The cave man has found a cave woman!"
"Shut up!" Ronon said, actually blushing. "Her name is Umma and she's amazing. I want you to meet her tomorrow."
"I would be happy to," Radek said, slamming his mug into Ronon's, spilling more ale to the rough wood table. "Blahopřeji!"
Ronon looked at him funny. "I hate it when you do that. I never know if you're insulting me."
Radek just laughed more and drank more. "So. Do you marry here? Hand-fasting? What is the tradition?"
"We're going to be married. There has to be eleven in the marriage party. There're four for her, four for me." Ronon settled back and looked a little nervous which made Radek feel like gloating. "One person to stand beside each of us as our proper. The last is the official. I, uh..." Ronon looked down at the table between them and picked at the wood with a fingernail. "Uh... Would you... be my proper? Stand for me?"
Radek's jaw fell open and he blinked. "Me?"
Ronon swallowed. "Yeah." He glanced up at Radek then away again.
It took Radek a moment to find his voice but finally he said, "But... John...?"
Ronon sighed. "You know he wouldn't leave. I could ask him and he'd want to, but it would just twist him up inside. It's not fair to him." He sighed again and finally looked directly at Radek. "You're pretty much the only family I got left, Doc. I really want you to be there."
Radek had to swallow around the lump in his throat before he could talk, but he could nod, so he did. "Ano. Yes. Yes, of course I will. I will stand for me and for both of them. For all three of them."
Ronon nodded and his eyes were bright. "Thanks, Doc."
Radek Zelenka is a private man. One could work with him for years and yet not know his history, not even through reading his file. Long after it was too late to share with those who had been closest to him, he sat down with a woman who had long, dark hair, dark eyes and a wise smile and said this: "I was born in 1971 in a small suburb of Prague. My father was an engineer and my mother was a housewife. I was the youngest of three and the only boy. My oldest sister married young and had three children in five years. My other sister went to school and became an engineer like our father. I was accepted at a very young age to the Technical University in Prague and studied physics and mathematics. My family was very proud of me and my father often bragged about me to his friends, how his son was getting advanced degrees while his friends' sons were still learning to wipe their bottoms.
"On November 16, 1989, seven weeks before I would have achieved my second master's degree in nuclear physics, the nená revolúcia, the velvet revolution happened and suddenly, I was living in a democratic country. When CERN came in January of 1990, I left without a backwards glance.
"I was told my father never mentioned my name again. Sejde z oèí, sejde z mysli." He swallowed and looked into her eyes, seeing only sympathy and kindness.
"... Brendan Gall... Peter Grodin..."
He had nightmares. Every night he would wake, hearing the screams, hearing the voices in his head, begging him to work faster.
For the many years he'd worked in Atlantis, he'd heard one voice in particular, arguing with him, yelling at him -- day in, day out, every single day and even most nights. To not hear that voice now seemed... it was like the universe had stopped. Like quantum mechanics had failed.
So his brain supplied it for him. Everything he did, every world he helped, he heard that acerbic voice telling him it was menial, it was beneath him to play Mr. Wizard for a bunch of country bumpkins who would probably break it in ten days.
Ah, yes, he would reply, but it is so rewarding. He never taught them to use fossil or nuclear fuels, just water, wind, solar or, on rare occasions, geothermal power. He taught them how to get it, to use it, gave them the insights that they would have probably gained for themselves, eventually. All he was doing was skipping steps, letting them go the better route that those on Earth had only found once they had used up everything else. Had used up Earth.
He was doing his best for them. They were not barbarians, worth nothing. They were people. They were good people. He defended them against a strident voice, one he would give anything in the world to have back at his side; he said, look at them, look how far they come with my help. Think how far they would have come with yours.
The Athosians were his ambassadors, and they had spread the word of him among the people of Pegasus. Radek was much in demand but he didn't let it bother him. He let them come to him, let them petition him and did what he could, when he had time. His new home of Elanis always took first place, and nobody begrudged him that.
He still had two mostly-full ZPMs, one left over from the rape of Atlantis, one he'd found on his own. He also had three Mark III naquadah generators, all of which were presents from Elizabeth. She had asked him to come with her and he had asked her to come with him and neither had accepted, though he understood her far better than she had understood him. Stará láska nerezaví. Elizabeth was a lot like Atlantis -- she would only understand what she saw, what she wanted, what she thought was right. It was why she couldn't comprehend her people's defection to Pegasus and would never truly appreciate John's sorrow and self-exile.
Still, with all that energy, he lived simply. His house had two sections; one for living, one for a lab and teaching. There were wood stoves for heat and charm, and electric appliances which ran off the local power grid which, in turn, ran off one of the Mark III naquadah generators. When he could have been living in a palace, he chose to live in a hovel, that scathing voice said, pointing out how primitive his house was, with its hand-woven rugs and blankets, thick, uneven glass in the windows and heavy, rough-hewn wood doors. But it was his house, Radek thought, looking around in satisfaction. He had his lab, he had his laptops, he had a couple of ZPMs and eventually, he'd be able to use them.
If the owner of that harsh voice were present, eventually might come sooner. But the owner was gone and Radek sometimes (often) still blamed himself.
Now that the Wraith were dead, now that the people of Pegasus could advance safely and become more industrialized, Radek was happy to help them do so. It was the least he could do to make up for what he had done, what he had failed to do. He only wished he could do so anonymously (something that amused Ronon no end) because he hated parties, receptions, whatever they were called; they felt so phony to him. He would rather go in, do the work and leave in peace. Or even better, bring apprentices to his workshop, show them what to do and turn them loose to do it. (Fumble-fingered morons, sniffed the voice.)
He had a never-ending stream of young people knocking on his door to learn what he had to teach, and he was always willing to show them. His house was next to Ronon and Umma and down the street from the stargate. Many of his former co-workers visited frequently or he visited them where they had set up shop on other worlds. They traded between the worlds, he visited the Athosians regularly, he taught his students, he even searched for the equivalent of homing pigeons (just because he hadn't found any yet did not mean he would never).
He was, on occasion, happy. It sometimes surprised him. Jak se do lesa volá, tak se z lesa ozývá.
"By the time I was eleven, I had a coop of near-championship racing pigeons. My pride and joy was Magda, a plain grey hen who never failed me and was the envy of even the adults in my racing group. My father disapproved of my hobby, but as long as I kept up with my school work (and I was already taking university classes), he said nothing but glowered, clearly unhappy with anything that wasn't school-work related.
"When I was fourteen, Uncle Petr took me to the Czech Technical University in Prague for a very important series of examinations. I didn't want to go, as it was time for a very important race, but I had been raised to always follow the directives of my elders. So I went, and the exams lasted three days, and at the end of them, Professor Klokner met with me and my Uncle Petr in a large, plush office..."
"Well, it does seem that you and your brother were quite right, Mr. Zelenka," Professor Klokner said, looking over the tops of his glasses. "Young Radek here is definitely the kind of material the state has been looking for, a genius under our own noses. I see no reason not to start him here at University this coming term. With scores like these, he could become a useful member of society by the time he's twenty."
As Radek sat in horror, two adults deconstructed his life and rebuilt it to their specifications, ripping him away from his home and his happy life, his pigeons, his books and his telescope, his refuge from his father's heavy-handed orders to study, study, study.
After ten minutes of near-panic, he managed to gain their attention and stuttered out, "Will I be... be living here? My pigeons? I have..."
The professor laughed. "Of course you'll be living here, in the dormitories. Pets are not allowed, young man. Only studying."
"Studying and bullying. I was a slight fourteen-year-old attending university with sneering adults who didn't like me because I got better grades. And when I finally got home, I discovered my father had sold my pigeons." Radek's voice faded into silence.
"Edward Collins ... Charin Tollin... Robert Griffin..."
Radek's house/lab in Lanissma, the capital city of Elanis, took almost six months to complete. Even before it was finished, he had students, people clamoring for his help, petitioners willing to pitch in and help finish his house if he would but help them complete an irrigation project here, a small power plant there, an Ancestral something that was supposed to work but nobody knew how and if Dr. Radek could just take a look...
One day, a small woman with long dark hair worn in a braid came to his house. She was about his age and wore practical clothing, trousers and tunics and when the occasion warranted, heavy aprons. She attended his classes and asked few, but penetrating and insightful, questions. When Radek misplaced something -- his glasses, his tablet, his marker, his coffee cup -- she always seemed to know where it was.
She was copying down some equations one afternoon when a self-important ambassador from Belkan entered and asked Radek to come check up on a project the following week. Radek was saying yes when she gently interrupted. "Dr. Radek is already promised to Temauden next week," she said. "Perhaps the week after?"
Both men blinked at her and Radek hastily checked his schedule to confirm that yes, she was right. He apologized and made the appointment for the week following his visit to Temauden. When he looked up, the woman was gone.
The next morning, however, she was back. He found her in the kitchen, and he suddenly realized who had been brewing coffee for him every morning and who had been making bread, providing fruit and juice and cereal. He'd been thinking it was all of his students, but apparently he had been wrong.
She looked up as he entered, and smiled. He decided he liked that smile and wanted to keep it around. Her name was Kanna. Pro oči nevidět
"...Carson Beckett... Steven Caldwell..."
When Radek finally managed to return from J'Yehn, he found Jinto waiting for him in the front room of his house, Kanna sitting with him. It was early evening and Kanna rushed to help him with his pack and coat. "Oh, you are late. Was it very bad?" she asked.
"Not much more than usual," he replied. "Jinto. How are you?"
Jinto smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. He stood and Radek was surprised again to find how tall he was. "I am well. It has been many days, Dr. Radek."
Radek was used to the familiar Athosian traditional greeting and welcomed it; it was far less intrusive than hugging. His sisters always wanted to hug him and he'd always hated it -- from them, it was always phony.
Shortly, the three of them were settled, Radek with some tea provided by Kanna. Jinto wasted no time.
"I have recently come from Colonel John's world, and he is very ill." Radek and Kanna shared a concerned look as Jinto spoke. "Wex is there with him, looking after him, but I fear it won't be long before he will be joining the Ancestors."
Radek looked down into his tea cup and tried to keep from crying. The last time he had seen John, he looked like a scarecrow, thin and trembling, and his hair had been almost all white. Gone was the good looking, rakish flyboy that Radek remembered and in its place was a man who was tired and ready to die, to join the man he had loved in death.
"How long before the ceremony?" Radek finally asked after a prolonged silence.
"About a month." Jinto's gaze was sympathetic and sad -- he had always adored John, from the moment he'd met the man, put him on a pedestal. Even after all these years, he couldn't bring himself to call him anything but 'Colonel John.'
"We should go soon." Radek nodded to Kanna before turning back to Jinto. "Have you spoken to Ronon?"
"Yes, I saw him yesterday. He said he'd be willing to leave in the morning. Is that fine by you? I know you've just returned--"
"No, that's fine." Radek nodded. "After breakfast. Would you stay here, Jinto? We have plenty of room."
"Thank you, Dr. Radek, if it's not too much trouble."
"I have made up the guest bed," Kanna said, rising. "I have some stew in the warming pot and fresh bread as well. Come, sit at the table and we will talk of easy things."
Radek wasn't very hungry after coming from the 'reception,' but Kanna's food was not something you should turn down. So he sat and dished a small amount onto his plate, dipping the bread into the rich stew. There was clear, cold water to drink which was better than any wine. Radek surprised himself by eating it all. Všude dobøe, doma nejlíp.
For his first summer break from University, Radek was eager to go home and get away from the bullies, both the academic type and the classmate type. He thought that perhaps he would be allowed to rest at home, that he would be free to seek out his few friends and become a boy again.
This proved not to be the case. His father had boasted about him to everyone, so his friends treated him with contempt. His sister used him as a babysitter for her brats when he wasn't doing housework for his mother or studying for his father. As often as he could, he got away by running into the woods with a book, not a text book but one of the story books his babi had given him years ago, before she died. Those books he'd hidden from his father and mother beneath the floorboards under his bed so they wouldn't be taken from him as useless.
After that first miserable break, he never returned home again, unless he was forced to. Much later, when he was at CERN and even later, at Cambridge getting his first Ph.D. and at MIT, getting his second, when people asked him why he never had letters from home or why he never spoke of his family, he just smiled and shrugged.
During his first years with the SGC, before he left for Atlantis, he received word that his father had died. General O'Neill himself delivered the news, in private, and briefly explained that Radek would, of course, be allowed time to return home to his family.
When Radek looked up, he found O'Neill's shrewd gaze focused on him. He had the feeling that O'Neill knew exactly what Radek would say, and furthermore that he understood why Radek would say it. "Thank you for letting me know, General," Radek murmured. "Leave will not be needed. There is much left to do, so if I may be excused...?"
O'Neill smiled crookedly and nodded. "Sure."
Radek crumpled the letter and tossed it in the nearest trash can on his way back to his lab. Kdo se smìje naposled, ten se smìje nejlíp.
It was late summer on John's planet, hot and dry and dusty. They went in Ronon's vehicle, which was powered by one of the small naquadah cells that Radek had designed for use in only a few, very necessary things. Jinto accompanied them, Ronon and Radek with Umma and Kanna. After much discussion, Jonny, Ronon and Umma's son, also came with them. He wasn't quite three but they felt he should see John before his death. Radek had sent word through the 'gate to others who might wish to visit and say goodbye to the man who had given his all to them, who had saved them so many, many times.
The house was just as he remembered it; from the outside it looked like nothing more than a mud hut partially sunken into the ground. There was a pebbled apron in front of it with the remains of years upon years of bonfires and camps, and they could just see a corner of the garden from beyond. The huge trees still stood sentry a quarter-mile away.
Wex emerged from the house as they pulled up and raised one hand in greeting. "I'm glad you've come," he said softly. "Colonel Sheppard is not well at all, he's not been able to eat or even rise for the past couple of days. Perhaps you can help him, Umma?"
Umma sighed. "I'll try. We brought some of my hanaas bread, he liked that the last time we were here."
"Yeah," Ronon said. "We'll try that."
The tiny bells outside the door were barely singing in the faint breeze so Radek touched them gently, making them chime. Inside the house was the stale odor of death and he closed his eyes and swallowed against it, had to school himself to calm in order to enter.
Inside looked much the way he remembered -- one large room with alcoves for a kitchen, bedroom, the large, beautiful table John had made, the pictures hanging on the walls. John was on the bed, propped up by pillows, and looked terrible. He was pale, gaunt, his skin mottled and it looked paper-dry.
Ronon immediately went to him and knelt by the bed, speaking in a soft rumble. "Hey. Sheppard. You there?" He put one hand on John's neck, feeling for his pulse.
After a moment, John seemed to take a deeper breath. "Ronon?" His voice was nearly gone.
"Yeah. You want something to drink?"
After another moment, where Radek thought John had slipped into sleep again, he whispered, "Yeah. Water?"
Jinto brought a cup half-full of water to Ronon, who held it carefully to John's lips. Radek quickly moved to John's other side and supported his head when it became obvious that John couldn't move easily. "Let me help, John," he murmured.
John took a sip of water, swallowed and blinked. "Radek? Hey, buddy, how are you?"
"Fine, I'm good John. It's good to see you."
"Same here. Elizabeth? You... Have you seen her? Is she here?"
Radek glanced at Ronon briefly before replying. "No, she went back to Earth, John."
John frowned and shook his head slightly. "Oh. Yeah. I remember." He leaned towards Ronon again and sipped more water. "That's good. Thanks."
Ronon turned and Umma stepped carefully forward. "Hello, John, it's Umma, remember me?"
"Umma?" John's eyes sagged shut but he was frowning again, as if he were concentrating. "Sure, I... What? I know you. Ronon's wife. Hi."
"I've brought some of my bread that you love. I thought you'd like to eat a little."
John's eyes opened and seemed to focus for the first time as he saw Umma. "Hey, you're expecting again?"
"You noticed," Umma said, sitting carefully on the side of the bed, little Jon on her lap. "Jonny is here too, he wanted to see his zoio."
John managed to smile at that. "Hey, slugger. What's new?" He reached out one trembling hand to Jon who, after glancing at his father, took it gently.
"You sick, Zoio?" Jon asked.
"Yeah, a little. Sorry 'bout that. No football today."
"That's okay. I give you hugs to make you better." Jon carefully crawled off his mother's lap and onto John's, gently wrapping his arms around as much of John as he could. "You too skinny, Zoio," he said softly. "Matah feeds you up."
"I'd like that, buddy," John murmured. A tear slipped out of one eye. "I'd like a lot of things."
Jinto and Wex pulled up chairs and they sat at John's bedside, holding vigil as John slipped into and out of consciousness. When he woke, he would sometimes take a little water or tea, but he couldn't eat, not even Umma's bread. He would sometimes recognize them, sometimes call for people who weren't there, or who were long gone. Jon fell asleep nestled in his arms at one point and the adults withdrew to the other side of the room to talk.
"Kanna and I will take Jonny home," Umma said, her voice grave. "You must stay here, Ronon, and you as well, Radek. He is dying and it will not be long, I fear."
Kanna nodded and wrapped her arms around Radek. She didn't know John well but she knew how much he meant to Radek and the former Atlanteans. "I can return to bring you more provisions," she said. "And there may be more people wanting to come say their goodbyes, I can bring them out."
Radek rubbed his eyes under his glasses and leaned into Kanna's embrace, grateful for her strength and presence. "Yes, that is probably for the best."
Ronon looked like he wanted to hit something. Umma grabbed his head and brought it down to her neck, holding it tightly. The dreads Ronon once wore were gone, had been gone for some time, but it always surprised Radek to see the shorter hair. After a few moments, Ronon seemed to relax and Umma released him. They looked at each other for a long moment, then they both nodded and Ronon went to scoop Jon off the bed.
Kanna had been cooking and cleaning and helping Radek for more than a month before he finally asked her to either stop or to just move in. She smiled at him again and her smile was more and less than Umma's sly smile.
"Shall I have a servant's quarters, then?" she asked.
"No!" he replied, affronted. "You are my student, I did not ask you to do all this for me. I should have someone come in and cook and clean for me, someone I could pay so that you could study with me full time. You have a gift for engineering and should spend more time studying and less cooking and cleaning."
"But it is how I can repay you, Dr. Radek, for teaching me."
What a vexatious woman. "I do not need repayment," Radek said. "You are here to learn, I am here to teach. You are here so often I thought it would be better if you lived here, that's all."
She cocked her head to the side and regarded him. "But what if I wished there to be more than that?"
Radek was surprised at her words but before he could respond, several of his students arrived and he was distracted.
It was almost a month later before he kissed her for the first time, and several weeks after that before he asked her to his bed. She regarded him gravely before agreeing. "I cannot bear children," she told him.
He smiled. "That is not a problem," he reassured her.
"... John Sheppard."
With the last name, Jinto and Ronon stepped forward, put their torches to the bonfire and it flared to life. Umma, Kanna and a young Athosian girl Radek didn't know stepped out of the crowd and began to sing.
Beyond the night, a rising sun; beyond the night, the battle's won; the battle's won.
Fear and shame now in the past; pain and sorrow gone at last; gone at last...
Radek stared into the bonfire until his eyes swam with tears. Jdi v pokoji můj přítel. Najděte si štěstí.
Radek and Kanna had been together a year when John died. The week following the ceremony, Radek hesitantly began telling her about his past, his youth and his family. Kanna listened gravely and didn't interrupt, though she certainly couldn't understand many of the references.
When he was finished, she sat still, absorbing. Finally, she looked up and said, "I wish your father were still alive so that I could find him and spit on him."
It was so unexpected it took Radek a moment to parse what she had said, then he made a noise that was either a laugh or a sob -- even he couldn't tell which.
After a moment, she added, "Can you tell me why you felt you had to tell me this now?"
Radek took a deep breath and let it out slowly, keeping his eyes closed, searching for and no longer hearing that hated and loved voice in his head. "Because there is another man who died when John did," he finally said, "and I never told him this." After a pause, he added, "I think now I should have."
Ronon and Umma's first child was named Jon. They called him Jonny and even Radek had to grudgingly admit he was a good child, mostly quiet and quite intelligent. He had Umma's sly sense of humor and Ronon's hidden gentleness and, for some reason, adored Radek. He knew that some day, the metal necklace his father always wore would be his, and that it would be passed on to his own son, too.
Radek and Kanna often had the Dex family over for dinner. They sat at the large, beautiful table that was hand-made by Jonny's Zoio, and Jon knew that it would be his someday, too.
Ronon and Umma's second child, born a few months after Jonny's namesake died, was a girl, a beautiful girl with Umma's hair and eyes the color of rich coffee or dark chocolate. They named her Meredith.