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Chase the Morning

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Book One

Prologue

Invasion

On December 27th, 1999, at the dawn of the new millennium, the First Wave came without warning. Not even the most sophisticated long-range satellites picked up on the ships' approach. Billions of humans and their Tok'ra allies died in the initial onslaught, and millions more in the secondary and tertiary Waves. Those who survived were hunted for both food and sport at first, but soon mainly for food. A few managed to evade capture and gather together in small communities hidden deep in the forests and woods that grow unchecked, now that the logging companies no longer cut them down. These are the stories of the survivors, the ones who escaped the Wraith's Hunts, and who fight back as much as they can.

Part One: Hidden City

Chapter One: Captured

Date: March 28, 5 A.I (After Invasion) [2005]

Location: Colorado, USA

The rain poured down intermittently, soaking the ground and turning it into a muddy morass. The water made the flames of a fire lit underneath a large pine tree spit and dance, the embers crackling. Four figures sat around the fire, two of whom were tied to the sticky trunk of the evergreen. Their hands were bound in front of them, and a rope wrapped around their torsos, just tight enough to restrict any sudden movements but not enough to make breathing hard. One of the captives, a stout man with thinning hair and a perpetually sour expression on his face, was taunting their Wraith captors, as he had been ever since his capture somewhere in the panhandle of Oklahoma.

His companion was a younger woman of about thirty-five with black-brown hair that fell in damp waves to her shoulders and tawny brown eyes, which were half-closed but still watching the Wraith. Wraith Goon #1, as she and her Tok'ra symbiote had taken to calling it, had an irritable scowl on its tattooed face and kept grumbling under its breath while it poked at the fire with a stick. Goon #2 was watching him, his stunner lying across his lap.

Goon #1's patience finally snapped. It picked up a hefty rock and threw it at the tree, meaning to hit the trunk to the side of the man, but instead hit him right in the middle of the forehead. With a muted crunch, his neck snapped from the force of the throw and he slumped against the tree, his body going limp like a marionette with all its strings cut. The woman's eyes widened in shock, and she let out a strangled gasp. 'Johnson!' she exclaimed as Goon #1 gaped in shock. The Tok'ra had held little love for Johnson, but hadn't wanted to see him killed.

Goon #2 had looked up when the woman gasped and jumped up in anger, his stunner snapping up towards his fellow Wraith. 'You idiot!' he hissed, pointed teeth gleaming in the firelight. 'The meat was supposed to be delivered alive!'

'I didn't mean to!' Goon #1 whined, backing away from the fire. 'He moved at the last second!'

Goon #2 lunged around the fire towards #1, the stunner dropping to the ground in front of him. While they fought, the Texan woman was struggling to get away from Johnson's corpse, but her movements only caused it to shift and lean against her. She struggled against the ropes, panicked squeaks emerging from her throat.

Jess, calm down! Her symbiote, Anora, said urgently.

He's dead and he's dripping on us! Ohgodohgodohg-

Suddenly, the sound of automatic gunfire, intermixed with the deep-throated bark of a hand gun, split the air, and the two Wraith jerked and writhed as the bullets thudded into their pale blue-white flesh. Jess cried out, and pressed herself against the tree, not caring about the fact that Johnson's body was bleeding gently onto her dirty and ragged shirt.

The sources of the gunfire came into view, holding P-90s and nine-mil Glocks. One of them let his P-90 fall to his side, hanging by the shoulder strap, and hefted a sword. He reached the fallen bodies of the Wraith, and with two swift strokes, beheaded them, kicking the heads far away from the corpses. He had thick dreadlocks and dark-colored skin that Jess associated with those of Samoan or Pacific Island descent. He and the only woman of the group dragged the bodies over to the fire and dumped them onto the logs, not paying attention to the blue-black ichor dripping onto their clothes.

The other two quickly buried the heads a few hundred feet away from the makeshift pyre and then went over to the pine tree, where Jess was staring at them, wide-eyed with shock and fear. Her breath was fast and shallow, and she was on the verge of either hyperventilating or fainting. Anora was working on getting rid of the excess adrenaline, but it would take some time before Jess would be completely calm.

'Hey, there,' one of the men said, his dark green eyes reflecting the smile on his face. 'You okay?'

'That's an idiotic question to ask, Colonel. She's a Tok'ra, by the way, or at the very least, was a host at one time.' The second man snapped, producing a pocketknife. Jess whimpered, her eyes focusing on the sharp blade. The Colonel noticed her reaction and laid a hand on her shoulder. She flinched violently, trying to shrink against the trunk.

'Please don't hurt us,' she whispered, her Southern accent heavily flavoring her words. 'I swear, we'll do anything you say.'

'Don't worry, we're the good guys.' The other man said distractedly, slicing through the ropes with ease. They fell slack, and Johnson's corpse fell across Jess' lap, its head lolling grotesquely. Wrinkling his nose, the man with the knife dragged the body a few feet away, handing the knife to the Colonel so he could cut the rope binding the woman's hands.

'Got a name?' The Colonel asked, freeing Jess' hands. She hissed in pain as the blood rushed back into numb fingers, and then nodded, breathing deep.

'Well, my name is Jess Connor, and my symbiote's is Anora. We were an engineer, and have a Doctorate in electrical engineering. Of course, that was before the Invasion.' She replied, her accent not as thick now that she was calmer. 'Who're you guys, anyways?'

'Colonel John Sheppard, US Air Force.' Her rescuer said, grinning once more. 'The sarcastic ones are Doctor Rodney and Teshryn McKay; the one with the sword is Ronon Dex, and our fourth member is Teyla Emmagen, one of the best fighters I know.'

'Thank you, Colonel, for rescuing us.' Jess said, returning John's smile with a shaky one of her own. 'It's been a hell of a long time since we've seen a friendly face. How'd you find the camp?'

'We've been tracking the Wraith for a few days now.' Rodney said, returning to the shelter of the tree after hiding Johnson's body in a nearby thicket. 'They left a trail a blind man could've followed.'

'Right. Well, we'd better get back to Atlantis and take care of Doctor Connor here.' Sheppard said, holding out a hand for the Texan to take. She did so, swaying gently as she stood up.

'How are we getting to- Hold on, did you say "Atlantis"?' Jess asked uncertainly after Anora prompted her to ask.

'Sure did. It's the name of our base, and it's not too far from here, actually. Funny thing is, the Wraith have passed it by without knowing it's there so many times, it's hard to count.'

'Really? Huh.' Jess said, impressed.

Very nice. Anora noted. It seems as though we've fallen on our feet.

Yes, it does, doesn't it? Jess replied with a mental sigh of relief.

'Let's get moving,' Sheppard called, catching the attention of Teyla and Ronon. 'I want to get back home before dawn.'

After carefully banking the pyre to ensure that it wouldn't spread the fire to the trees around it, the small group set off, guns at the ready and alert for any trouble.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Atlantis

Date: March 26, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

The "short" trek promised by Sheppard turned out to be the greater part of two miles through the forest, ending at a broad lake. Jess looked around, confused. 'Okay, I don't mean to sound stupid or anything, but where the hell is Atlantis?'

'Wait a sec,' John said, and withdrew a remote from one of his pockets. He pushed one of the buttons, and a squat cylinder of a spaceship appeared on the bank of the lake, taking Jess by surprise.

'What on Earth is that?' she asked, a look of awe on her face.

'We call it a Puddlejumper, or Jumper, for short.' McKay piped up. 'The U.S. government found it a couple of months before the Invasion; no one knew where from, of course, but that changed after Atlantis.'

As he was talking they boarded the Jumper, Sheppard taking the pilot's seat and Teyla the co-pilot's. The door closed and sealed with a hiss, locking them inside. With barely a shiver of movement, the Jumper lifted off and then slid into the lake a few meters out. The Jumper made its way through the water, descending at a steady rate and then leveling off about fifty feet down. 'You'll get your first view of Atlantis soon,' Ronon said, startling Jess. It was the first time he'd spoken the entire trip; Jess and Anora had introduced themselves to the others, but only Teyla had gotten into a conversation with them, and the Tok'ra had enjoyed talking with the other woman.

'What?' Jess asked, looking through the viewscreen. 'Where?'

'There.' Teyla said, directing Jess' gaze to a spot some five-hundred yards in front of them. Resting on the lake bed in a deep underwater valley was a geodesic dome made up of some sort of thick blue-green crystal that blended in with the murky lake water around it. Jess wouldn't have even noticed it if there hadn't been a shimmer of blue-white light flickering momentarily across the surface of the dome.

That's beautiful. Anora said, her voice hushed. It's amazing.

Yes, it is.

'How- Where did this come from?' she asked in awe as John maneuvered the Jumper through the shield and into an airlock. The effect of the crystal outside reminded Jess of looking through a thick pane of frosted glass, where only the faintest hint of shapes could be discerned. The water level within the airlock dropped, and when it was empty, an inner door opened and the Jumper flew into the dome proper.

A magnificent city lay before them, buildings spiraling up to a few meters below the arch of the dome. It was shaped like a snowflake; six arms radiated from a central spire rising above them. John piloted the Jumper towards the main spire and hovered for a moment over a flat roof that retracted when he hit a button on the Jumper's control console. They slowly descended into a vast room where other Jumpers sat inactive but ready for transport at any time.

'Welcome to Atlantis,' John said, shutting down the Jumper. 'To answer your earlier question about how Atlantis exists, we're not entirely sure about it ourselves. The dome was found in '97 by divers mapping out the lake bed, and the government immediately took away their findings and paid them to keep quiet. As far as we know, they were killed in the Second Wave.

'Anyways, the government sent an exploratory team down in a sub and managed to get inside somehow. Atlantis was going to be a safe house for the President in case of terrorist attacks, but after he was killed, it became a sort of refuge for scientists from all over the world- those who had survived, anyways. We've been here for about two years now, and conduct periodic sweeps of the area to keep an eye on the Wraith, which is how we found you.

'Any questions?'

'Yeah,' Jess said as they left the Jumper and headed into the hanger bay. 'Two things: what's the dome made of, and where can I get a shower and clean clothes?'

John smiled, one corner of his mouth quirking up in amusement.

'We don't know, to answer your first question, but our best guess is some kind of crystal. It looks opaque from the outside, but it's completely clear on the inside. It's covered by a forcefield that holds back most of the pressure. As for your second question, I'm sure we can figure out something.' He said. 'Teyla, why don't you help Doctor Connor with that, and then meet us in the infirmary? If I know Carson, he'll want to check her over.' John nodded at the two women. 'See you soon.'

'This way, Doctor Connor,' Teyla motioned to their left as they exited the Jumper Bay.

'Please, call me Jess. I haven't been called Doctor for five years. It's going to take a while to get used to hearing that again.'

'Very well.'

'Out of curiosity, where are you from, Teyla?' Jess asked as they headed towards a nearby bathroom that was equipped with a shower.

'Athos. It is a small island in the Caribbean, near the Virgin Islands. I was on vacation here in Colorado when the attacks occurred.' Teyla responded, pausing briefly at a supply closet to retrieve some clothes that were Jess' size. The Texan nodded, taking in the information.

'And Ronon?'

'He is from Sateda, a country near Fiji. Here are the showers.'

'Thank you,' Jess said, taking the clothes- a white t-shirt and grey sweatpants- from the Athosian with a smile. 'For everything.'

Teyla nodded, a small smile on her face. 'You are welcome, Jess. I will wait out here until you are finished.'

Before Jess could protest, Teyla had opened the bathroom door and gently ushered her in, handing her a towel as she went. With a soft pneumatic sound, the door closed in front of Teyla, leaving Jess and Anora alone.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Music

Date: March 26, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Feeling highly refreshed after her shower, Jess dried off and got dressed in the clothes provided for her. A small packet of ponytail holders lay on the counter, along with a new hairbrush. Jess smiled; Teyla must've put them there while they'd been in the shower. She put her hair into a braid, the end brushing the base of her neck. Her old clothes had disappeared, but Jess didn't really care if they were ever returned to her or not. It's not like we'd want to wear bloodstained clothes, anyways. She told Anora, who agreed with her.

After putting the towel on a nearby rack to dry, Jess left the bathroom, padding along in stocking feet since her shoes had been taken along with her clothes. Teyla had left her post outside, and Jess wondered where the Athosian had gotten off to. It was probably something important, she decided after a moment's conference with Anora, and shrugged. Well, they knew where the Jumper Bay was, so maybe if they went there they'd find someone working in there that could help them.

As they walked down the unfamiliar halls, they passed many different rooms that probably held any amount of interesting things. When they didn't reach the Jumper Bay after ten minutes, Jess stopped, looking around for perhaps a sign or an indication of where they were in Atlantis. The sound of music playing nearby caught Anora's attention, so Jess followed it, reasoning that where there was music there would be someone listening to it. Classical music floated through the air, making her smile. It had been a very long time since they'd heard such music, and they decided they'd like to meet this fellow audiophile.

Jess poked her head around an open door and spotted a man sitting at a computer. He was leaning back in his chair, eyes closed and hands folded behind his head. From what she could tell, he wasn't a Tok'ra, but that was perfectly fine. Jess smiled at the picture of relaxation in front of her. The man seemed to be waiting for the results of a test; a program on the computer monitor had a progress meter on it. The blue bar was at about 73% complete, and went up a few more percentage points just as the music came to an end.

'That was beautiful. Who composed it?'

The man, surprised by Jess' sudden appearance, snapped back into wakefulness. His chair overbalanced and he went backwards, glasses flying and hands flailing wildly. He fell over with an almighty crash, tipping ass over heels and ending up with his knees slamming into his chest. Holding back what would've been a highly inappropriate giggle, Jess moved from the doorway and went over to the upturned man, picking up his glasses as she went.

'Sorry about that,' she apologized. 'I didn't mean to startle you, especially that much.'

The man managed to turn himself half-way to his side, getting one hand underneath him and pushing upwards. Jess knelt down to help, carefully taking hold of his arm and helping to a sitting position. He looked blearily at her until she remembered to hand him his glasses. Taking them with a muted sigh of annoyance, he put them on, blinking as the world came into focus.

'Who are you?' he asked after an uncomfortably long moment of silence.

'What? Oh, we're Jess and Anora Connor.' She told him, getting to her feet and then holding out a hand. 'And you?'

'Radek Zelenka. You're a Tok'ra? Are you new here?' Radek got to his feet, using the desk to help him up.

'Yes, and we just got in. We've been trying to find the infirmary, but no dice, so far.' She replied exasperatedly. 'D'you think you could show us?'

'I'm in the middle of an analysis, but perhaps when it's done?' Radek said, glancing at the results meter, which was now up to seventy-nine percent. 'Would that be alright?'

'That'd be fine. We're not in any rush, anyways. It's supposedly just a check up of some sort. So, back to my original question: who was the composer of that music?' Jess inquired as the more familiar strains of Beethoven's Fifth began playing. Radek reached for a small remote lying on his desk and turned down the music, lowering it so they could speak normally.

'It was Václav Jindřic Veit's "Symphony in E Minor."' He said, picking up the chair and setting it down on its feet. Jess turned and pulled up a nearby chair so that she and Radek could sit and talk at the same eye level.

'It sounded beautiful.' She said. 'Where's he from?'

'The Czech Republic. My homeland.' Radek grinned, blue-grey eyes alight with pride.

'Really? That's fantastic.'

Radek's smile, if possible, managed to widen, all annoyance at Jess forgotten as they began discussing their favorite composers, the masterpieces of the long dead filling this ancient corner of Atlantis.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Owls

Date: April 27, 5 A.I [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

It had been nearly a month since Jess and Anora had arrived in Atlantis, and they were definitely starting to go stir-crazy. They had taken to going on late-night walks around the city, at first just to familiarize themselves with the inhabited parts of the Atlantis, but now just to enjoy the calming silence that filled the halls at night. The dome covering Atlantis seemed to have its own artificial sun- and moon-cycles that reflected those of the ones above the water's surface. During the day, it was generally a comfortable seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit, but during the night it cooled to about sixty, so Jess generally wore a light jacket.

The night shift had gotten used to their pre-dawn wanderings and had taken to leaving a thermos of black tea in the mess hall for them. On their part, Jess and Anora had left small thank-you notes, and on one memorable occasion, had made two pies with some fresh berries brought back from the mainland, as the surface was jokingly called.

With thermos in hand, Jess wandered past the Engineering and Physics labs, but for once no one was working late, or early, for that matter. She smiled, hoping that everyone was getting the rest they deserved so greatly. There had been problems with the Ancient electrical systems, even with the aid of the five powerful and compact generators salvaged from Denver and farther afield. They weren't exactly sure of the range of the Jumpers, but the little crafts seemed to have an almost inexhaustible power supply, but they didn't want to run out at an inopportune time. The farthest they'd been was Nevada, but only the upper part.

The Wraith patrols had grown less frequent, perhaps because of the amount of "meat" lost in the area and of soldiers killed. In the month that Jess had been in Atlantis, four more people had been rescued- four civilians, including an ex-Army man-turned-FBI Agent. The other three civilians had been a great surprise, especially for McKay, since they consisted of his sister, her husband, and their young daughter. According to their reports, it seemed that the Wraith were starting to get annoyed with the Lanteans, and were planning on changing their delivery routes pretty soon.

Despite that, the Lanteans continued with everyday life, going on patrols and collecting crops from overgrown fields and orchards. There was a special hunting detail as well; they used traps to get their prey, setting them up along isolated game trails. It was mostly small game, but occasionally they found a rogue cow, goat, or sheep. Those they either killed or stunned with purloined Wraith stunners and transported them to hidden grazing grounds deep in the woods. The sheep and goats were of course easier to manage than the cows, but the Lanteans had retro-fitted a jumper for transport.

Jess passed by a somewhat secluded balcony and was surprised to see Radek standing there, looking out over the city. He was just staring off into space, his glasses reflecting the muted lights from the other buildings around him. The doors slid open as Jess neared them, letting in the cool night air. She walked out onto the balcony, the soft soles of her shoes making small noises as she moved.

Radek didn't acknowledge her presence right away, but merely leaned against the balcony railing, his arms crossed as he supported himself.

'Thought you'd be in bed by now,' Jess said finally, leaning her left hip against the railing near him. The Czech shrugged and then turned his head to look at her.

'What about you? You're not asleep either, I see.' He replied, a half-smile on his lips. Jess returned the smile, glancing down at the floor momentarily. Anora was sleeping, but Jess hadn't been able to. She caught Radek looking at the thermos and spoke, opening the canister as she did so.

'It's black tea. The night crew usually leaves us a thermos of it in the mess hall. Would you like some? It's still hot.'

'Thank you, but no.' Radek replied, his nose wrinkling momentarily. 'I'm not too fond of tea.'

'Hmm.' Jess turned so that she was facing the railing head-on and sipped at her tea, enjoying the flavor of said brew. She looked up towards the top of the dome and then sighed softly, frowning.

'Something wrong?' Radek inquired. Jess shook her head, looking back out to the middle distance once more.

'Not really. It's just that I'm used to seeing stars at night, and we haven't been cooped up in one spot for this long before. I guess I'm too much of a wanderer than I'd care to admit.'

'We all are, but think of it this way: if the Wraith hadn't come, none of us would've probably met in our old lives. I'd still be in Prague, and you in Texas.'

'I guess you're right,' Jess conceded. 'Life without Rodney McKay in it. Hmm. I'd almost started to forget what that was like.'

Radek laughed, his formerly pensive mood brightening. Jess joined in, the corners of her eyes crinkling as she giggled. 'Somehow, I think it's time for bed.' She said after calming down a little.

'I'll walk you to your quarters.' Radek said, his voice still carrying a trace of laughter. Jess quirked an eyebrow but didn't say anything as they re-entered Atlantis, travelling in companionable silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Ghosts

Date: May 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Central Shopping District, Denver, Colorado

Jess and Anora felt excited to be out of Atlantis, enjoying the feeling of the breeze on their face. They, Radek, SGA-1, and two Marines had taken a Jumper to Denver, intent on foraging for non-perishable supplies such as blankets and clothes. They were also on the lookout for medical supplies, and had planned to stop by one of the nearby hospitals to pick up a list of medicines that Carson and Jennifer had given them. Radek had said that he wanted to show Jess something he had found on the previous foraging trip, and wouldn't tell her what it was, only that it was something he thought she'd like.

This, of course, had distracted Jess to no end, and she had tried to get a clue out of Radek, but he had stubbornly refused to tell her more. Sheppard and the rest of SGA-1 had exchanged amused looks, John and Teyla smiling slightly. It was good to see Radek bantering and flirting gently with someone and getting as good as he gave right back. The Czech kept such an erratic schedule that it was hard to find someone who could both match him in intelligence and nocturnal tendencies.

More than once John had seen Jess and Radek eating what could be considered either a very late dinner or a very early breakfast in the mess hall as he did his turn on the night watch. Both were expressive conversationalists, utilizing various utensils, food items, and condiment containers to illustrate a particular point, as well as various hand movements. Sometimes, after the two had left for bed, John would find napkins with various equations or pictures scribbled on them. Jess seemed to be much more of a doodler than Radek; so much so that John could recognize which scientist had written what on each napkin.

John was leading the small group between the abandoned stores, passing faded storefronts and broken windows with moldering displays and mannequins lying amongst the rubble. When they came to a large shopping center, they split up, going off into pairs. All had handguns; the soldiers, Teyla, and Ronon had P-90s as well. Radek paired off with Jess, John with Rodney, and Teyla and Ronon with the Marines.

'Keep in touch with each other by your radios, and don't hesitate to shoot if you absolutely need to.' John said, stopping the group momentarily. 'Stick with your partners, check in regularly, and meet back her in two hours so we can figure out what else we need to get. Bring the stuff here, but just dump it and keep searching. Head out, and good luck.'

'Come on,' Radek said to Jess, pulling her away from the others. John watched them go, green eyes quietly amused.

'What are the odds on them getting together?' he asked Rodney as they went into a clothes shop. Rodney shrugged, grabbing a cart and starting to throw clothing inside, disregarding what it actually was.

'Not sure. You'd have to ask Grodin about that. He keeps tabs on all of the bets.' Rodney replied, pausing for a moment in his haphazard gathering.

'Really? Hmm.'

Jess waited impatiently outside a store, Radek having told her to stay there for a moment while he investigated within. She wasn't too thrilled with the prospect of him being in there alone, since she didn't know how proficient he was with a gun. Her own Beretta was out in her hands; she merely needed to take the safety off and she'd be ready. Radek emerged from the shop a few minutes later, tightening the straps on his backpack.

'What were you getting in there?' Jess asked as he approached her. He merely shook his head and grinned, saying, 'It's a surprise. Shall we move on?'

Jess shrugged, put her gun away, and shouldered her own pack, shifting the weight across her shoulders. They walked a few hundred feet until Radek paused and told her to close her eyes. Jess did so, a skeptical look on her face. He took her free hand and began leading her down the walk before stopping her in the middle of a shop.

'Open your eyes.'

She blinked in the shadowy gloom of the shop as she followed his request, taking a look around. Metal glinted dully in the light all around them, catching their eyes. 'Knives?' Jess asked, looking confused.

Why did he bring us here? We don't need knives. Anora said, confused as well.

'Look up on the second level.' Radek told her, pointing up at a narrow spiral staircase leading to a balcony. Jess climbed up the stairs, her boots clanging against the metal. To her delight, there was a wide selection of swords, daggers, and axes, all dusty, hanging on display on the walls and in glass cases.

'This is awesome!' she breathed, eyes widening. Jess turned around and looked down over the railing to see Radek looking up at her, a brilliant grin on his face.

'I told you that you'd like it.' He said. Jess returned his smile, laughing slightly.

'You were right about that,' she told him. Something flickered in her peripheral vision and she looked up, out through the dust-streaked window and out into the street. Her eyes grew wide as she registered just what she was seeing.

Jess! Isn't that-?

'Oh, hell.' She breathed, her grip tightening. 'Shit.'

'What?' Radek asked, looking confused.

'Wraith.'

Chapter Text

Chapter Six: Kindred

Date: May 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Central Shopping District, Denver, Colorado

Radek turned around, hand going to his gun. Before he had a chance to even get it out of its holster, rapid-bursts of what sounded like an energy weapon came from outside.

'The hell?' Jess asked, using the noise as cover for her descent down the metal staircase, her gun in her hands once more.

That sounds like zat'ni'katels.

Zat guns? But I thought the Wraith confiscated them all!

Obviously not.

'Back here,' Radek muttered, pulling her down and behind the front counter, which provided a somewhat suitable amount of cover.

'Connor, Zelenka, come in.' John said over the radio, his voice low and urgent. 'Is that you guys?'

'No, Colonel.' Anora replied, taking control and readying her gun in case the radio had been heard. 'Can you see what's going on?'

'Nope. Damn it, McKay, get-' John's voice cut off with a staticky crackle, and then the radio waves were silent. Outside, the battle seemed to be drawing to a close, the sounds of the energy blasts lessening considerably.

'I'm going to see what's going on.' Anora said after a moment's pause.

'What?' Radek barely had time to form a protest before his companion had left the shelter of the counter, moving in a scurrying crouch. She didn't seem to have heard him, but continued on, darting from storefront to storefront until she was lost from his sight. Cursing vehemently under his breath in muttered Czech, Radek went after her and reached the cracked sidewalk just in time to see Anora collapse to the ground, strange blue flickers of light playing over her now-prone form. A man stood over her, a zat gun in his right hand. Nearby, a man with an identical gun held in his hand was busy making sure the four Wraith that Jess had spotted were dead. Given that he was vaporizing them with his weapon, it was obvious they wouldn't be back any time soon.

'Anora!' Radek yelped, instantly drawing the attention of the two men. The younger of the two, who had been taking care of the Wraith, started and turned around, blue eyes fixing on Radek. His companion, whose hair was graying liberally, started forwards, leveling the strange weapon at the physicist. Radek raised his gun, but before he could get a shot off, blue lightning spat from the other man's zat, and his mind went black as he fell to the ground.

Heaven smelled liked warm brown sugar and cinnamon, with a hint of spice and lavender. Radek couldn't tell where he was, only that his head was cushioned on something moderately soft and warm. It would've been relaxing, if not for the voices disturbing his rest. His hearing returned slowly; the first thing he could make out was Jess' voice. It was very close, and she was muttering something, alternating between English and Goa'uld. Only when he heard his name did Radek realize she was talking about him.

'-and you'd better not die, Zelenka.' She said, her tone annoyed. Radek's pillow shifted, and he realized his head must be resting in Jess' lap. 'I swear on all that is holy in this Godforsaken world, we will find you in the afterlife and annoy the hell out of you for eternity.'

'Could be worse. I could have Rodney as a hell mate, and he is not as pretty as you.' Radek said, opening his eyes and blinking blearily up at her. Everything was slightly out of focus, and he couldn't figure out why until he realized he wasn't wearing his glasses. 'Where are my glasses?' he asked, and Sheppard produced them from a pocket. He handed them to Jess, who passed them to Radek. He caught a whiff of the scent he had encountered upon waking when she helped him sit up, and found that he rather liked it.

After putting on his glasses, Radek looked around him. He, Jess, John and Rodney were in what seemed to be some sort of cell, surrounded on three sides by thick concrete walls. The fourth side was made up of sturdy chain link fencing bolted into the concrete for an extra measure of security.

'Where are we?' he asked, dusting himself off.

'No clue,' Jess replied as she put her jacket back on. It had been cushioning Radek's head as he had been resting on his fellow scientist's lap.

'I bet those guys could tell us.' Rodney said, gesturing at four people standing outside their cell, watching the Lanteans interact.

'Two of them have symbiotes,' said the lone woman of the quartet, her voice carrying the augmented tones of the Tok'ra. 'But they're not acting like Goa'uld.'

'And they do not bear the mark of the Wraith, either.'

'Hey, you're the one who shot me!' Rodney sputtered, pointing an indignant finger at the tall man with a golden design etched on his forehead.

'They're kinda scruffy, too.' Chimed in the grey-haired man who had shot Jess and Radek, ignoring Rodney's outburst.

'Scruffy? Excuse me?'

'Rodney, now is not the time to go all pissy,' John said wearily.

'I can understand if they meant you, but me?' Rodney continued on.

'We all look like hell, McKay.' Jess said, rolling her eyes. She turned to their captors, shaking her head. 'We apologize for him.' She told them. 'He's not the friendliest of people, even on a good day.'

'That's an understatement.' Radek muttered.

'Not helping.' Jess hissed. 'Anyways, could you possibly tell us where we are? Or maybe your names? It'd be really helpful.'

'You go first.' The grey-haired man said, crossing his arms over his chest. Jess looked towards John, who nodded briefly. She turned back to the front and spoke, folding her hands in her lap.

'We're Doctor Jess and Anora Connor,' she said, giving them a brief smile.

'Doctor Radek Zelenka,' Radek chimed in.

'Doctor Rodney and Teshryn McKay, PhD.'

'And I'm Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, U.S. Air Force. Now that you know our names, what're yours?' John pressed.

'Can't tell ya quite yet.' The grey-haired man said. The young brown-haired man to his left looked as if he were about to say something, but a quick glance and shake of the head from his companion stopped him.

'Can you at least tell us where we are?' Radek asked before Rodney could make the situation worse.

'That we can do,' the younger man said quickly.

'And?' Rodney snapped irritably.

'Cheyenne Mountain.'

End Part One

Chapter Text

Part Two: Fool's Gold

Chapter One: Revelations

Date: May 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado

There was silence for a minute, and then Rodney spoke, his tone incredulous.

'Cheyenne Mountain? You mean we're in NORAD?'

'More like under it.'

'Under NORAD. Wow. Okay, then.' John said, looking bemused. 'So, now that we know where we are, could you tell us what you plan on doing with us?'

'We've got a few questions for you, that's for sure.' The grey-haired man said, and then waved at one of the SFs standing guard, motioning for him to get the door. 'For starters, where the hell you guys came from. We'll be interviewing you individually, starting with-' his eyes flicked from Lantean to Lantean, and then paused on Jess. 'You. Doctor Connor, was it?'

Jess glanced at John, who shrugged, and then got to her feet. 'Yes, it was.' She replied, stepping forwards. The door to the cell opened and Jess moved into the adjoining room, looking back briefly at the others before following the brown-haired man through another door and out into a hallway. They walked in silence, an SF shadowing them a few paces behind. The small procession got a few curious looks from various members of staff that they passed, and Jess saw quite a few civilians intermixed with the more obvious military personnel.

The man stopped at a door and then opened it, ushering Jess inside. It was a small grey room, furnished only with a table and two chairs. The SF stayed outside when the door was closed, but Jess noticed a security camera's light blinking in one of the corners.

'Do you have any other color of paint besides grey?' she asked as she took the seat indicated to her. Her companion smiled wryly, and sat down as well.

'It's the military; they don't tend to go for Better Homes and Gardens décor.' He said, withdrawing a small digital voice recorder out of his pocket and setting it on the table in front of him, turning it on as he did so. 'Okay, then. Let's start this out right. Please state your names for the record.'

Jess smiled indulgently. 'Doctor Jess and Anora Connor. I don't suppose you'll be wanting our ages as well?'

'If you wouldn't mind.'

'Very well. I'm thirty-five. I'll be thirty-six in August. Anora is roughly the same age.' Jess told him. 'Can I ask you a question before we get started too much?'

The man looked surprised. 'I guess. What is it?'

'Your name. This would go a hell of a lot easier if I knew that. I can't just say, "hey, you" all the time, now can I? Besides, you already know ours; it's simple courtesy that we know yours.' She sat back in her chair, folding her hands neatly on the tabletop.

'Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt. It's Daniel. Doctor Daniel Jackson.'

'It's a pleasure, I'm sure. So, Doctor Jackson, what else would you like to know?'

Daniel raised an eyebrow, and then leaned forwards. 'Well, first off, where'd you and your team come from?'

Jess laughed. 'Getting right to the point, I see. Very well. We're wanderers.'

'Really.' Daniel said flatly, obviously not believing the lie. 'Wanderers who just happen to have guns, and who look like they get regular medical attention and three square meals a day?'

Jess shrugged. 'Look, I'm obviously not going to tell you everything without some recompense. Why don't we do this- you share something about this place, and I'll do the same about our base. It's beneficial to both of us, and we may be able to figure out an agreement or alliance.'

'I highly doubt you have the authority to do that. Besides, how do we know you're not working for the Wraith?' Daniel asked.

'We could ask the same thing.' Jess retorted. She crossed her arms over her chest and sat in silence, content in just watching Daniel.

He's a tricky one, this Doctor Jackson. Anora mused. He doesn't give up without a fight.

Neither do we.

They sat there for a few minutes, and then Daniel sighed. His hand dipped into his pocket and withdrew the Life Signs Detector that Jess had been carrying with her before the Lanteans had been captured. He placed it on the center of the table and tapped it with a finger.

'What's this?' he asked, raising an eyebrow, 'And how does it work?'

'You haven't been able to turn it on, then?' Jess asked, amused.

'No.'

She reached out and picked up the Detector, turning it on with a thought. The familiar blue glow of the screen and the soft tingle of active Ancient technology were soothing, and Jess took a moment to let the feeling sink in before speaking. 'See those white dots?' she asked, holding up the LSD for Daniel to see.

'Yeah.'

'The two in the middle are us. The one outside is the guard.' Jess said, unable to hold back the small smile of satisfaction at Daniel's impressed look. 'It detects life signs, among other things.'

'How'd you get it to work?' Daniel inquired, reaching for the device. Jess let him take it, and it fell quiescent once it left her hand.

'It reacts to a specific gene, natural or artificial, which apparently you don't have. It would've turned on if you did.' She told him. 'Now, it's also-' Jess was cut off by the sudden sound of sirens, and the door opened behind Daniel, the SF poking his head in.

'Doctor Jackson, you're needed in the 'Gate Room.' He said, his hand just coming away from the radio he had clipped to his vest.

'Wait. This would be the perfect time to help each other out.' Jess said as Daniel got to his feet. 'We tell you where we got the detector, and you show us what's in the 'Gate Room.'

Daniel paused. 'It'll take a lot more than that to be able to see what's in there.'

'Atlantis.'

'Sorry?'

Jess got to her feet. 'That's where that' she motioned at the LSD, 'came from.'

'The lost city of Atlantis? You mean the one Plato described in his writings?' Daniel asked, waving the SF off for the moment.

Jess shook her head. 'No. Look, have you ever heard of the Ancients?' Daniel's stunned silence gave her the answer she was looking for. 'It's their city. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on this. We're a small community, but you won't be disappointed; there're people from all over the world, scientists, civilians, and soldiers alike who live there. Now, we've come across mentions of an Astria Porta and a Chappa'ai in the database and in Tok'ra legends, but we've never seen one. We suspect that your 'Gate is the one and same. How's that for a lot more?'

Daniel bit his lip, and then nodded. 'Fine. Come with me, but the guard stays with you.'

'Fine with us.' Jess said, coming around the table and heading towards the door. 'You won't regret this, I promise.'

'You'd better be right.'

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Release

Date: May 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Radek was dozing lightly by the time Jess got back, accompanied by Daniel and Jack, to whom Jess had been properly introduced a few minutes earlier. He woke up when the cell door opened, blinking sleep from his eyes. 'You're back,' he said, pushing himself from the slumped sitting position he had adopted while leaning against one of the walls.

'Yep,' Jess replied, grinning. 'Guess what?'

'What?' John asked, watching Daniel and Jack warily.

'We made some new friends, Colonel.' Jess said happily. 'You've got to come see this. I think you'll like it especially, McKay.'

'Why?' Rodney inquired, following John and Radek out of the cell.

'Just wait and see. It explains that siren you heard earlier and a few things we've been wondering about from the database.'

'Does it, now?' John looked interested. 'Any chance of us getting our stuff back?'

'In time.' Was Jack's reply. Jess seemed rather bouncy, like a young child eager to show off a new discovery. Radek walked behind her, smiling slightly at her enthusiasm. After a few minutes, they went up a flight of stairs and emerged in a room with a large table set in the center. Jess stepped to one side, revealing a slightly heavy-set man sitting at the head of the table, two stars that were pinned to a strip of cloth on the shoulders of his short-sleeved white shirt glinting in the shine of the overhead lights.

'General Hammond, may I present the rest of the Atlantis contingent?' Jess asked as Rodney and John came up behind her. 'Doctor Rodney and Teshryn McKay, Doctor Radek Zelenka, and Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard.' She gestured to each in turn as she named them, and Hammond gave a terse nod in greeting.

'Welcome, gentlemen,' he said, waving for them to take a seat at the table. 'To the SGC. I'm General Hammond. I understand you're the military leader of Atlantis, Colonel?'

'Yes, sir.' John replied, taking a seat. The others followed his lead, Radek sitting next to Jess and Rodney next to John. 'Connor said there was something you wanted to show us?'

'Yes. Doctor Jackson, if you would do the honors?' Hammond turned towards Daniel, who nodded.

'In 1928, an archaeologist made a discovery in Giza that changed the world. The United States government received control of the artifact found in Egypt somewhere around 1969. It stayed under lock and key until around 1996, when a successful attempt to decipher the inscriptions on the device was made. It was found that the device was capable of almost instantaneous transmission of matter across interstellar distances, via stable wormholes through space.'

'That's impossible.' Teshryn interrupted, coming to the fore with a frown forming on his face. 'Wormholes are theoretical. There's never been a proven instance of one forming. And the legends of the Chappa'ai are just that- legends.'

Jack and Daniel glanced at each other, smiling slightly.

'Sam and Jolinar would love this,' Jack muttered, shaking his head. He turned to Hammond. 'Permission to prove him wrong, sir?'

'Go ahead, Colonel. SG-22 is just about to leave.' Hammond replied.

'Follow us,' Jack told the Lanteans as he got up from his seat. Exchanging confused looks, the three men followed Jess up another flight of stairs and into a busy control room. Their attention was instantly captured by the large ring-shaped object standing in the center of the room visible through a large window.

'What is that?' Radek breathed, his eyes widening behind his glasses.

'That is the Chappa'ai, or Stargate.' Said Sam's symbiote, Jolinar, who was sitting at one of the control boards. 'SG-22 is ready to go, sir.'

'Start dialing.'

The technician working with Jolinar nodded and typed a series of symbols into the computer in front of him. Below, the inner ring of the Stargate began to spin. Red lights shaped like triangles lit up as each of the chevrons were dialed in, until six out of the seven visible were active. When the seventh chevron locked, a massive blue-white plume of energy boiled out of the 'Gate and then settled back into the ring.

It elicited startled cries from the Lanteans, even Jess, who had only seen the 'Gate when it had already been activated. Hammond leaned forwards and keyed an intercom mike.

'SG-22, you have a go. Good luck and Godspeed.'

One of the BDU-clad figures below turned and waved up at the Control Room, a big grin on her face, before following her teammates through the 'Gate.

'Looks like Doc Anderson has taken a shine to you, Walter.' Jack chuckled, patting the 'Gate Tech on his shoulder. Walter smiled sheepishly and hit a touchpad on the console. A metal iris emerged from the housing, covering the inside of the 'Gate.

'Now what do you think, Doctor McKay?' Daniel asked the Canadian. 'Still "just a theory"?'

'I guess not,' Teshryn replied distractedly, his eyes still fixed on the 'Gate.

'Teshryn, stop drooling. You have more than enough toys at home.' Anora drawled amusedly after Jess relinquished control to her symbiote.

John turned at the word "home", a hopeful look on his face. 'Speaking of which,' he said, looking towards Hammond and Jack. 'When can we go?'

'Once we get a few things settled, we'll take you back to where we found you.' Jack said. 'There're just a few technicalities to work out, is all.'

'Technicalities?' Radek asked, raising an eyebrow. 'Such as?'

'If you're willing to share information with us, as well as technology found. We'd do the same, of course.' Hammond replied.

'That sounds reasonable, but I'd have to talk it over with Doctor Weir.' John said after mulling it over. 'Maybe if someone came along with us?'

'I was hoping you'd suggest that. Doctors Jackson and O'Neill will be going with you.'

'Can we fit that many people in the Jumper?' Jess asked Radek in hushed tones, switching off with Anora. 'We've already got eight people. What did Torres say was the projected maximum capacity of the Jumpers?'

'He wasn't entirely sure, if I remember correctly.' He said thoughtfully.

'We may need a second Jumper.'

'Presuming that the first one is still in the area,' Rodney pointed out, breaking into the conversation.

'Yes, well, there is that, but still-'

'As fascinating as this is, I'm sure everything will be okay.' John said. 'We'll see what happens when we get there.'

The three scientists shut up, Rodney looking slightly annoyed.

'Come on, we'll get your gear for you.' Sam said, getting up from her chair and stretching slightly. 'It's all there.'

'It'd better be.' Rodney muttered.

'Don't worry, we didn't take anything.'

They trooped out, following Sam, Jack and Daniel down to a storeroom where their packs were waiting for them, along with their weapons and vests. Radek found his gear and quickly looked it over, checking to see if everything was intact and accounted for. It was, including the special items he had salvaged from the shops.

'Ready?' Daniel asked, adjusting his thigh holster.

'Ready.'

'Ready.'

'Let's go, then.'

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Home

Date: May 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Central Shopping District, Denver, Colorado

They took a beat-up, old grey van back to Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Sam at the wheel and Daniel sitting shotgun. The four Lanteans were arranged in the back, holding onto various straps and handholds. Jess chatted with Radek to keep his mind off the numerous potholes and bumps; the Czech was feeling mildly carsick. Rodney was uncharacteristically silent as they drove, ignoring Jess' attempts to draw him into the conversation. He wasn't looking particularly chipper, either, so the Texan chalked it up to queasiness, or perhaps he was merely discussing everything they'd found out that day with Teshryn, as was an occasional habit of his.

John was talking quietly with Sam and Daniel, trying to learn more about the SGC, when they finally reached the Shopping Center after about a half-hour. Everyone piled out, Radek and Rodney looking distinctly relieved that the trip was over. Jess dug out her Life Signs Detector- Daniel had returned it to her on the way back- and turned it on, checking the immediate area for others besides the six new arrivals.

'Anything?' John asked, idly checking his P-90.

'Just us, so far.' Jess replied, shaking her head. 'We could try the radios.'

John nodded and keyed his radio. 'Jumper One, come in; this is Sheppard. I repeat, Jumper One, please respond.'

'Jumper One?' Daniel asked, looking up from his examination of the Life Signs Detector in Jess' hands. 'You have more than one?'

'There're around twenty,' Radek said. 'We use about two at any given time.'

'Do they have weapons capabilities?' Jolinar asked as they walked on and towards shelter, just in case.

'Very limited.' Rodney replied. 'Which is why we don't use them unless absolutely necessary. Besides, that would get way too much attention from the Wraith if we tried attacking them with the drones.'

'That's understandable,' Daniel said. 'Any other surprises we should be expecting?'

'Nothing too bad.' Jess told him. 'You'll see when we get there.'

Suddenly, John's radio crackled to life.

'Jumper One to Colonel Sheppard. Come in, Sheppard.' It was Lieutenant Newcombe, one of the Marines accompanying Ronon and Teyla. He was able to fly the Jumper via the retro-virus Carson had made after discovering the gene that enabled some of the Lanteans to use Ancient technology.

'It's good to hear your voice, Lieutenant.' John said, smiling briefly. 'What's your position?'

'Just coming in over the center.' Newcombe replied. 'We should be at the rendezvous point in five.'

'We'll meet you there.' John told him. 'We've got some new friends who want to meet Doctor Weir, as well.'

'Yes, sir.' The young Marine signed off, sounding mildly confused.

'Let's go.' John told the others. They got up, Rodney muttering softly about his rest being disturbed.

'What about the supplies we came for?' he asked John.

'They should be where we left them.' Was the reply. 'We'll pick them up on the way.'

They made a detour to pick up the cache of clothes and other goods John and Rodney had gathered, and then went to the rendezvous point. After waiting for a few moments, the Jumper shimmered into view in one of the parking stalls. The back ramp lowered, revealing Teyla and Ronon standing there, P-90s at the ready. They relaxed when John walked up, his demeanor calm.

'Hey,' he said, nodding at the duo. 'You guys get what we needed?'

'Yep.' Ronon replied. 'Who're they?'

'Allies.' Jess came up with Radek, slinging her pack off and onto the floor of the Jumper. She rummaged around in it and then pulled out her datapad. Tapping the screen a few times with the stylus, she turned to show Radek and Rodney what she had pulled up.

'See, here are the schematics for the Jumpers.' She said, leaning against the doorway. Radek and Rodney grouped around her, Sam and Daniel joining them after a moment. 'The most people we've had in a Jumper at a time is eight,' she gestured vaguely at the others with the slender stylus, 'but we could probably fit two to three more. It might be a tight fit, but Atlantis isn't too far away, so it wouldn't be for long.'

'And if it gets too cramped, we could always throw Rodney out the back.' Radek said with a grin. John laughed softly, shaking his head, and then went to check with the Marines in the cockpit. Everyone else piled in the back, arranging themselves the best they could. Rodney claimed one of the chairs, as did Ronon. The rest spread out, finding seats either on the benches or the floor. John took over at the pilot's seat, and Lieutenant Newcombe joined Daniel, Sam, Radek, Teyla, and Jess in the back.

The Jumper lifted off smoothly and Radek, who was monitoring the power output on his computer, didn't notice any particular strain caused by the two extra people. He told this to Rodney, who nodded absently as he dug through his own pack before swearing softly.

'Damn,' he muttered, slouching back into his seat.

'What?' Jess asked, looking up from her datapad. Outside, trees flashed by on the HUD as they passed shielded over the Rio Grande National Forest, which concealed the lake in which Atlantis lay.

'I'm out of power bars.' He replied, looking grumpy. 'And I haven't eaten since breakfast.'

Jess rolled her eyes, dug into her pack, and pulled out a cellophane wrapped object, which she then tossed to Rodney. He unwrapped it and sniffed at it suspiciously.

'It's not poisoned, McKay, neither does it have citrus in it. I don't know why you'd worry about that, anyways; Teshryn should be able to protect you from anaphylactic shock in any case.' She told him. Rodney frowned at her but took a bite of the food. His eyes widened as he registered the sweet flavor of what he was eating.

'Where did you get this?' he asked after finishing his mouthful.

'I made it.'

'What is it?' Daniel asked, looking interested.

'A honey-almond bar.' Jess replied. 'It was a recipe of my mother's, but with a few tweaks. More cinnamon-sugar, for one thing.'

As they spoke, the Jumper slid smoothly under the lake's surface, the shield shimmering slightly.

'This is my favorite part,' Newcombe said, grinning.

'What?'

'Just watch.'

Sam and Daniel moved forwards, standing behind the two front seats as John deftly piloted the Jumper. The blue-green dome covering Atlantis came into view, a silvery school of fish swimming briefly across the front of the Jumper. Jess heard Sam draw in a startled breath when the outside airlock cycled open, and had to hide a smile.

Remember our first time coming in? Anora asked. We were just as impressed.

We still are.

The Jumper slid easily in and the water drained after the airlock closed. When the inner airlock opened and the Jumper went through, it was Daniel's turn to make a noise of surprise. The city lay before them, and there were a few people playing impromptu games of football, Frisbee, and soccer on the wide lawns of grass that stretched all around Atlantis. They looked up when the Jumper passed over, civilians and soldiers alike waving and yelling their greetings.

'You weren't kidding, were you?' Daniel asked Jess, who shook her head. The Jumper entered the bay and settled in its spot. Outside, Elizabeth was waiting, along with Peter Grodin and Sergeant Bates.

'Alright, everybody out.' John said, getting up and opening the back hatch. Everyone got out and rounded the side of the Jumper, joining their welcoming party.

'Welcome to Atlantis, Doctor Jackson, Doctor O'Neill. Colonel Sheppard called ahead and told me of your meeting.' Elizabeth said, smiling and extending a hand. Sam took it, shaking it briefly.

'You must be Doctor Weir. We've only heard good things about you.' Daniel said. 'As well as much about this amazing place.'

'Would you like to see more?' Elizabeth asked. Daniel's face lit up at the suggestion, and Sam nodded. 'I'll have a few of our Marines show you around.' Elizabeth turned to John and the others. Rodney was talking quietly with Peter, Radek and Jess; Teshryn and Anora occasionally coming to the fore and adding their opinions as well.

'Debriefing in one hour,' Elizabeth told them. 'I'll see you then. Doctor O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, if you'll follow me, I can get that tour set up.'

The group dispersed, all heading to their various labs and posts to check up on what had occurred since they had left.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Date

Date: June 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Clothes were strewn across their normally immaculate quarters, tossed aside after being rejected. She growled exasperatedly, throwing her hands up in the air.

'I give up,' Jess announced to the empty room. 'I'll never find something in time.'

Why don't you let me try?

''Cause I know you. You'll pick something that I'll feel absolutely uncomfortable in.'

Trust me, Jess. I want this to go just as well as you do, remember?

Jess sighed. She was trying to get ready for her dinner date that night with Radek. The Tok'ra woman had been caught off guard when he had brought it up.

They were working on a secluded console in the Atrium when he had brought up the subject of dinner.

'Jess?' he had said as he worked on a laptop. Jess had been buried shoulder-deep in the console, testing out various crystals to see how they were holding up.

'Yes?' Jess replied, attaching a cable to the next crystal in the array.

'What are your plans for tonight?'

'I'm not sure. Why?'

'I was just wondering if- Never mind.' Radek trailed off and returned to his work. Jess paused and then extracted herself from the innards of the console.

'What?' she pressed, dusting herself off. 'What were you going to say?'

'It's nothing.' He focused once more on his laptop.

'Radek…' Jess got to her feet and gently closed the laptop's lid. Radek sighed and looked up at her.

'Would you and Anora like to have dinner with me tonight?' he asked hesitantly, a somewhat hopeful look in his eyes.

Jess blinked, pleasantly surprised.

Say yes. Anora told her.

Hush, and I will. Jess shot back.

'We would love to,' she said finally, causing Radek to smile brightly.

Damn, he looks cute when he does that. Jess thought, and then blushed slightly when Anora agreed wholeheartedly with her. Luckily, any further embarrassment was curtailed when Rodney came bustling up, demanding to know if there had been any progress made. Radek opened his laptop and showed the Canadian the results so far, while Jess resumed her work within the console.

Why not just go with something simple? Anora suggested, taking control and picking up a button-down blouse Jess had discarded. A shirt and a nice skirt, perhaps? Or maybe-

She trailed off and dug around in the closet, pulling out an outfit that Jess had passed over. What about this? She asked, holding it up. This would work. As a matter of fact, this is what we will be wearing tonight, along with… these. Anora picked up a pair of shoes, and Jess let out a panicked yelp.

I can't wear-

Ah! No complaining. We want to impress him, right? Anora asked, starting to get undressed.

Yes? Jess said tentatively.

Then we're wearing this. Now, about our makeup…

Radek waited nervously on a balcony near the kitchens that had been set up with a table for two, his fingers tapping idly on the railing. He wasn't nervous, merely… excited for the chance to have dinner with good friends. Radek snorted softly; who was he kidding, anyways? He was nervous as hell; there was no getting around that.

Resisting the urge to abandon the whole idea entirely, he smoothed out the non-existent wrinkles in his plain black dress shirt, his nerves getting the better of him. Where were they? He had to admit, it was odd to think that he was essentially attempting to date two people at once, but he figured that it didn't really matter in the long run. Quite a few Tok'ra-human relationships had worked out over the centuries, so there shouldn't be much to worry about, logically. He checked his watch, and found it to be five to seven. He had said seven, right? Oh God, what if he was too early?

Before he could work himself into a further state of panic, the balcony door slid open and Jess walked out, a nervous smile on her face. Radek blinked in astonishment as the striking figure Jess cut, silhouetted against the multi-colored door. She wore a floaty dress that hit just below her knees; the skirt was a deep red with swirling black designs on it, and the bodice was a simple black halter-cut. High heels graced her feet, giving her an extra inch of height, and her hair was coiffed elegantly at the back of her head.

'You look… beautiful.' Radek breathed, unable to believe he was this lucky.

'You look wonderful yourself,' Jess replied, her smile widening. Her plain silver jewelry glimmered in the softly diffused light coming from inside, as well as in the candle light from the tapers on the table. A small bouquet of flowers in a slender vase sat in between the candles, throwing prisms of light onto the tablecloth.

'Would you like to sit down?' Radek asked, returning Jess' smile and pulling out a chair for her. She sat, and he turned away for a moment, retrieving something from the shadows. Jess heard ice shifting and glass clinking as he fidgeted with whatever he had, which gave her a shrewd suspicion as to what it was.

Wine or champagne? Anora asked.

Probably wine, love. We haven't had that in a long while, so be ready.

Her thoughts were confirmed when Radek returned to the table with two wine glasses and a bottle of nicely chilled white zinfandel.

'Where did you get that?' she asked, raising an amused eyebrow.

'On our last trip to the mainland.' Was his reply as he carefully uncorked the bottle and poured a half-glass for each of them. 'I wasn't sure if you drank red, so I picked white just in case.'

'So that's what you were doing in that shop.' Jess said, laughing softly. She took a sip of her wine, enjoying the taste.

Radek nodded, taking a sip of his wine as well and then keying his radio. 'Hetty, we're ready.' He said, and then signed off. A few minutes later, two of the cooking staff came out bearing two bowls of soup and some freshly baked bread. The two scientists thanked them and began eating.

By the time dinner was over and the last of the plates had been cleared, Jess was definitely ready for bed. It was a combination of the wine and good food, though mostly due to the wine, because even though Anora was negating most of the effects of the alcohol, there was still enough of a buzz to make Jess feel pleasantly drowsy. She yawned and blinked sleepily. Radek noticed and smiled slightly.

'Shall we call it a night?' he asked, setting his glass down.

'Hmm?' Jess shook her head, a lock of her hair managing to escape its confines.

God, it's been a while since I've felt like this. She told Anora.

What, pleasantly full and happy? What about at lunch?

You know what I mean, 'Nora.

'Well, if you want to do something else, we can.' Radek continued on.

'Maybe. I don't know. What did you have in mind?' She yawned once more, putting a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound and sight.

'No, I think it would be best if you went to bed.' Radek replied, getting up and pulling her to her feet. She swayed slightly and placed her hands against his chest to steady herself.

'Sorry,' she mumbled, intending to rest merely for a second while she regained her sense of balance. They stood like that for a moment, and then Radek gently tilted her head up and kissed her. Jess was pleasantly surprised and returned the kiss, one hand going to cradle the back of his head. They broke apart after a short length of time, a soft smile on Jess' face. Radek seemed slightly apprehensive, as if afraid that Jess would start yelling at him, or worse, just walk away and never speak to him again.

You'd better put the poor man out of his misery, Jess. Anora said, sounding highly amused.

Good plan.

Radek looked relieved when Jess started kissing him again, though it was short lived when Rodney's voice suddenly blossomed in Radek's ear, causing him to jump and break away from what had seemed to be a very promising kiss indeed.

'What, Rodney?' he growled, annoyed at the interruption.

'Get to the main atrium, right away.' Rodney replied, his tone brisk.

'Radek, what's going on?' Jess asked, having left her radio in her quarters.

'Is that Connor I hear?' Rodney asked, a vaguely interested note in his voice.

'Yes,' Radek said shortly. 'What is so vital that you have to interrupt my date?'

'A date? Well, the bet- No, forget that. I've got a laundry list of things that need to be done now, like-'

Jess took Radek's radio gently from his ear and then put it on, speaking to override Rodney's voice.

'Rodney.' She said, and when that didn't work, shifted control over to Anora, who snapped, 'Doctor McKay! Please be quiet.'

It worked; Rodney fell silent, since Anora wasn't known for using sharp words or tones.

'Thank you,' Jess said after a beat. 'Now, is it vitally important that Radek come right away?'

'Well-'

'Is the city going to blow up?'

'What?' Rodney seemed startled.

'Is the city going to blow up?' Jess repeated dryly, making sure to enunciate her words very clearly. 'Or something of that imminent death and/or destructive nature?'

There was a pause, and then a slightly sheepish 'No.' from Rodney.

'Then please, unless it is a dire emergency, leave us be for the time being.' Jess requested, and, with a grumble or two, Rodney agreed, signing off. Jess smiled and handed Radek back his radio.

'That was fantastic.' He told her, slipping the radio back onto his ear.

Jess smirked. 'Hmm. Now, what was it we were doing before we were interrupted? Ah, now I remember…'

Radek laughed and pulled her close, the artificially cool night air making the candle flames dance and flicker.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Dissonance

Date: Unknown.

Location: Unknown.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

The rhythmic sound slowly drew Jess out of a deep sleep, and she automatically reached for the warm presence that was Anora. Her symbiote was still there, though slumbering at the moment. Jess was content to let her be and lay quiescent on the bed, sounds filtering in gradually to her ears. There was the soft murmur of voices, as well as muffled footsteps. The far-off sloshing of the sea could be heard, which confused her slightly. A dull throb in her right arm drew her hazy attention, and she idly noted that her head ached as well. Hmm. Once Anora woke up, she'd have her take care of that. The noise that had awoken her continued on and she opened her eyes half-way to find the source.

Had she overslept? Or maybe it was the alarm on her laptop, telling her that results of a diagnostic were complete. The latter seemed more plausible, since the last thing Jess remembered was being in the main Engineering Lab, fiddling with an Ancient device and getting ready to run some diagnostics on it before going to meet Radek for lunch.

Jess looked to her right and saw a heart monitor, its screen displaying various vital signs. Hmm. So that meant she was in the infirmary. Just why she was there was a whole new question in itself. Sighing softly, Jess let herself drift back to sleep, the noise of the monitor slowly fading away.

When she woke some time later, it was to the sound of Rodney's clipped tones pestering Carson.

God, that man has a loud voice. Anora muttered grumpily. Doesn't he realize people are trying to sleep in here?

Jess could hear the increasingly annoyed Scot fending Rodney off, his accent thickening as time passed.

'She'll wake when she wakes, Rodney. I can't do much to make it happen any faster. Besides, we don't know who will be talking to us when she does- the symbiote or the host.' Carson was saying exasperatedly.

'Yes, well, that's why we've got her restrained. And have you tracked her DNA yet?' Rodney asked, and from the sound of it, Jess could tell the Canadian was moving closer to her bed.

Restrained? Wha-? Jess noticed that there was the feeling of cold metal around her right wrist, and she figured that it was a set of handcuffs.

'Rodney, stop pestering Carson, please.' Jess identified the speaker as Elizabeth, which left her wondering just who else was in the room. And what did Rodney mean by "tracking DNA", anyways?

'It's of vital importance, though!' Rodney retorted loudly. 'She was found in an abandoned lab. The possibilities are-'

'God, McKay, could you be any louder?' Jess drawled raspily, opening her eyes in annoyance. Rodney looked startled at the sound of her voice, turning around when she spoke.

'Excuse me?' he said, blinking rapidly. 'How do you know my name?'

Jess looked suspiciously at him, brow furrowing lightly. 'How do we know you? You're kidding, right?' she asked, clearing her throat softly. 'How could we not know you? You're the Head of the whole damn Science department of Atlantis. Everyone knows that.'

'Alright, then, who are you? And what do you mean "we"?' Carson asked, staving off Rodney's response.

'What?' Jess looked confused. She tried to sit up and discovered that the weight on her chest was a fiberglass cast that ensheathed her right arm from elbow to wrist. 'Okay, what happened?'

Anora, the arm?

It's best I let it set for a while, Jess, and have your body do the healing for now. It'll make it easier for me to finish it properly later on.

Fine.

'We were hoping you could tell us.' Elizabeth said as Carson raised the recumbent Texan to a more comfortable position. 'We found you in an abandoned lab in the South section of the city. You were injured and unconscious.'

'We were? Odd.' Jess sighed and blew a lock of hair out of her face. 'And you have us handcuffed because you don't know if we're Tok'ra or Goa'uld. Well, I can clear that up for you right now. We're Tok'ra. And- Aw, crap.'

'What?'

'I was supposed to meet- Wait, did you ask me my name?'

'Yes, we did.' Rodney replied, grabbing a nearby laptop and tapping a few keys.

'We're Jess and Anora Connor.'

Rodney paused. 'Um, which one are you?'

'Jess,' she said, having come to the conclusion that something seriously wrong was going on. For one thing, she couldn't sense the presence of Teshryn in Rodney, which freaked both her and Anora out severely. 'Though why you don't know that, I'm not sure. And what happened to Teshryn?'

Rodney was busily typing Jess' name into the computer and therefore didn't hear her last question, but frowned when nothing popped up in the search. 'Nothing. She's not in the staff database.'

'What? Did you spell it right?' Jess inquired, startled. What the hell was going on here?

'Like in Terminator, right?'

Jess had to fight not to roll her eyes. 'Yes, like in Terminator.'

'No, nothing. I wonder…' Rodney trailed off, tapping his fingers idly against the keyboard. 'What's the date?'

'Pardon?' Jess was thrown off by this non-sequitur. 'Well, depending on how you look at it, it's August 21, 2005, or August 21, 5 A.I. . I personally prefer the second. Why?'

'Because it's 2006. In November. What does "A.I." stand for, besides "Artificial Intelligence"?'

'Okay, now I know something's going on here. A.I. means "After Invasion."'

'Invasion?' Carson asked, looking up from a datapad a nurse had handed him. 'Invasion of what, and where?'

'Invasion by the Wraith of Earth.'

All three stared at her, startled and slightly horror-struck expressions reflected across all three faces.

'The Wraith?' Elizabeth said finally.

'Yes. They invaded Earth in 1999. Since I'm guessing you have no clue what I'm talking about, it's probably safe to say that never happened here?' Jess asked.

'No, thank God.' Rodney said, shaking his head. 'They've stayed here, in the Pegasus Galaxy. They've tried to get to Earth, but have never succeeded.'

'Lucky for you, then. This is Atlantis, right?' Jess said, looking around.

'Yes, it is.'

'So, it's not on Earth.'

'No. Why, is it where you come from?' Elizabeth asked.

Jess nodded vaguely. 'Can we go outside for a few minutes?'

Elizabeth and Rodney glanced at Carson, who nodded. 'Only for a few minutes, mind.' He said. 'And she'll have to be in a wheelchair.'

'Alright.'

Within minutes, a wheelchair was procured and Jess got in, fighting a brief wave of dizziness that Anora quickly subdued. Her handcuffs were transferred from the bed railing to one of the handles of the wheelchair, making sure she couldn't just run off willy-nilly- not that she felt like doing so, anyways. Carson wheeled her to a balcony door, the multi-hued portal opening as they drew near.

When the fresh scent of the ocean hit them, Jess' eyes widened.

'Oh, kree shac!' she breathed, lapsing into Goa'uld as she cursed, the sea breeze playing with her hair. 'This is so not our Atlantis!'

End Part Two

Chapter Text

Part Three: Echoes Resound

Chapter One: Lost

Date: August 21, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Radek was starting to get worried. It was forty-five minutes after Jess said that she'd meet him for lunch, and it wasn't like her to be late. Abandoning the table he'd been sitting at in the mess hall, he made his way towards the Engineering Labs, figuring that Jess must've gotten so deep into a project that she'd lost track of the time. That didn't make sense, though, since Anora was very good about keeping Jess aware of what was going on, even if she wasn't in control of their body at the time.

He stepped out of the transporter and into chaos. The hallways around the Engineering labs were full of people rushing here and there, and there was a cacophony of sounds coming from the Main Lab. Radek dodged a few overenthusiastic scientists and managed to get into the Main Lab, where Rodney was snapping at a small gaggle of people.

'Rodney, what is going on?' Radek asked, having to raise his voice to be heard over the babble.

Rodney turned and then surged forwards, grabbing Radek by the wrist and pulling him over to where a large matte black cube lay gently smoking on one of the tables.

'This,' Rodney said with a sour twist to his mouth. 'Is what Connor was working on. Miko! Get over here and tell Zelenka what you saw.'

Miko Kusanagi, a petite Japanese scientist who Radek knew worked with Jess on occasion, came forwards, looking as if she were about to break down in tears. 'I was working on the other side of the lab when there was a big bang,' she began, her voice trembling. 'I turned around to see what was happening, and saw Doctor Connor working with this device. Before I could ask what had caused the noise, she disappeared in a flash of light. One second she was here, the next-' Miko trailed off, looking miserable.

'We'll find out what happened, don't worry.' Radek told her with more surety than he actually felt. 'What was the device supposed to do, anyways?'

'We don't know,' Rodney said. 'That's why she was supposed to run a diagnostic on the damn thing.'

Radek looked down at the device and sighed. The melted remains of a diagnostic clip were just visible on the black surface, a short length of wire hanging from them. 'So we don't know what happened to her?' he asked, his voice quiet.

'No,' Rodney said, and in an uncharacteristic gesture of comfort, put his hand on Radek's shoulder. 'but we will.'

Radek nodded and turned away from the table, his mind blank of any true thought. He had switched into autopilot mode, going about the rest of his day's duties with just enough speed and precision to get them done. When he returned to his quarters at the end of the day, he flopped down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, wondering just where Jess and Anora were, and if they were even alive.

Three weeks later, Radek was working on a complex simulation when Rodney came in, looking as if he was trying to restrain his excitement. Radek looked up from his work, his hands pausing on the keyboard of his computer.

'Is everything alright, Rodney?' he asked politely, watching Rodney shift from foot to foot as he stood there.

'We think we know what happened.' Rodney blurted, his hands fluttering in front of him as he spoke. 'Remember that Quantum Mirror that SG-1 said they found a few years ago?'

'You think that device is something similar?'

Rodney nodded. 'I think the Ancients were looking to make it more compact- after all, dragging around a six-foot-tall mirror isn't exactly practical, now is it? Anyways, we think it probably got activated when Jess was trying to get the diagnostic lead put in properly, and it shifted her to an alternate reality.'

'Okay, but how do we get her home?' Radek asked, getting to his feet. Rodney's face fell.

'I don't know, but I'm sure we can figure something out.' He said, a determined look on his face. 'Now, Kavanagh, of all people, has come up with what we think is the remote for the ARC-'

'ARC?' Radek raised an eyebrow.

'Alternate Reality Cube.' Rodney explained with a wave of his hand. 'Anyways, if we can get it working again, we can flip through the different realities without actually going to them. According to some records we found in the Database, it's supposed to show a preview of the reality before you go there, rather like the Mirror. If we can find the right reality, we can get Jess back.'

'And how are we supposed to do that?'

'A video message.' Rodney said, a smug smile on his face. 'We send it through, just to get their attention, and then we switch to live feed if everything goes right. If there's any danger, we can just flip to the next reality. Once we get Jess back, we can destroy the device, or at the very least, throw it in the ocean or a deep body of water. That way, if anyone does try to get through, they won't get very far.'

Radek considered this. It was actually quite a good plan, even with the flaws that he could see in it.

'Alright,' he said, nodding briskly. 'What do we have to do?'

Rodney grinned and pulled him out of the lab, heading towards the nearest transporter and talking a mile a minute, his hands illustrating his speech.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Encounter

Date: December 13, 2006

Location: Atlantis Base, Pegasus Galaxy (Alternate Reality)

It had been nearly three weeks since Jess and Anora had arrived to this mirror universe, and had so far managed to gain some trust from the Lanteans here. They still had a guard, but were allowed to roam freely, save for the Science Labs and 'Gate Room. This meant that they spent quite a bit of time wandering the halls of Atlantis, their guard shadowing them a few paces behind at all times. Unsure what to do, they had been going through the small library of books that had been accrued, though it was always odd to find subtle differences in the literature of this reality and their own.

They were sitting alone in the Mess Hall, idly eating their lunch as they read, not really paying attention to their surroundings. When someone gently cleared their throat, Jess looked up from the pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which had never been writtenin her reality. She froze, her eyes going wide.

Oh, God. She thought, taking in the sight of the man in front of her. So far she'd been able to avoid seeing this reality's version of Radek, but not anymore.

'May I sit here?' he asked, indicating the seat across from Jess.

'I- Um, sure.' She stammered, and he gave her a thankful smile and sat down.

'Are you alright? You look as if you've seen a ghost.' Radek- No, Jess thought. Zelenka. Much better. Safer, too. - asked, looking concerned.

'I'm fine.' Jess replied quickly, giving him a small smile. 'It's just that no one's asked to sit with me before. I'm Jess, by the way. Jess Connor.'

Zelenka nodded. 'I know; I was one of the people who found you. I believe Rodney said that you are a Tok'ra?'

'Yes, I am.' She said. 'Tell me, what are the Tok'ra like in this universe? Do they live amongst the peoples of Earth?'

Zelenka shook his head. 'No, they do not. They have their own planet back in the Milky Way. We only found out about them eight years ago, and by all accounts, the SGC got off to a rocky start. Now we're good allies, but there's still a bit of hesitance on both sides. What about you?'

'The Tok'ra have always lived among the Tau'ri.' Anora said, coming to the fore after Jess had closed her eyes briefly to hide the eye-flash. 'Our Queen, Egeria- may her rest be eternal- wrested power from Ra and banished him from ever coming to Earth again. The Chappa'ai was buried in Egypt and forbidden to ever be used again. It soon passed into legend and was forgotten about. At least, until 1928, when a group of archaeologists found it in Giza. The United States government received stewardship of it in 1969, and it's been in use since 1997.'

Zelenka looked thoughtful. 'That's almost how it happened with us, though in our case there was a rebellion on Earth by the Ancient Egyptians who ousted Ra. They buried the 'Gate and, well, the rest is the same. You're Anora, right?'

'Yes,' Anora said, nodding.

'When I came up, Jess seemed startled. Do you know why?'

Anora paused, biting at her lip. 'I do, but it is personal for the both of us. Now, we have prevented you from eating your lunch. Please, feel free to eat.'

Zelenka laughed. 'I should think I'm the one stopping you from eating. Are you enjoying that book?'

'Yes. We only had up to Prisoner of Azkaban published when the Wraith came.' Anora told him, glancing down at the book. 'It is interesting to see how the series might have continued had the Wraith never arrived.'

'It gets better with each book,' Zelenka assured her, starting to eat his lunch. 'I think we have the next two somewhere.'

'Well, once we finish this one, we'll definitely try to-' Anora began, but was cut off when an excited scientist came rushing up to their table.

'Doctor Zelenka!' he said, looking as though he might fall over from sheer excitement.

'What, Dominic?' Zelenka replied, looking amused by the man's enthusiasm.

'You've got to come down to the Engineering Lab!' Dominic babbled. 'We just got a visual message from an alternate universe!'

'What?!' Jess snapped, quickly coming to the fore and standing up.

'What did it say?' Zelenka asked, getting up as well and heading off with Dominic. Jess made to follow them, but her guard stopped her.

'But-!' she protested, watching as the two men disappeared from view.

'You can't go to the Science Labs, ma'am.' Her guard said, a frown on her face. 'Either stay here or go to your quarters.'

Jess narrowed her eyes at the guard and then bolted, sprinting towards the transporter. She made it just before the guard, the doors closing in the other woman's face.

Hah! She said in satisfaction to Anora. They found us!

Maybe. Anora replied as they quickly left the transporter and hurried towards the Labs. Let's hope we can get there without being caught.

They made their way down the hall, trying their best to blend in with the other scientists. They had just made it to the Labs and had gotten inside when their guard appeared, accompanied by two other Marines. Jess darted around a knot of scientists and made it to the Main Engineering Labs. She had to hold back a sob of relief when she heard the accented voice of Radek speaking, his words rushed and frantic.

Oh, thank God! They found us!

Yes, but- Look out! Anora warned, seeing movement on the edge of their vision.

Jess turned just as the stunner blast hit her, making her crumple to the floor, Radek's voice fading out as the world snapped to black.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Found

Date: September 16, 5 A.I. [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

'So, you have found our Doctor Connor?' Teshryn was asking when Radek hurried into the Lab, his lab coat flaring out behind him as he rushed through the door.

'Yes, we have.' Said the woman projected in the flat image floating vertically six inches above the ALC. 'Or at least, we think we have. She's Tok'ra as well, right?'

'Yes,' Radek said, coming to a halt next to Teshryn. 'Is she alright? Can we talk to her?'

'Ah, Doctor Zelenka. It's good to see you.'

Radek leaned forwards and realized that it was Doctor Marni Wallace, one of the other engineers of Atlantis; or at least, it was her alternate counterpart. He could see a little ways into the room behind her, which mirrored the lab he was currently in. There was a sudden disturbance at the doorway that made Wallace turn around in surprise. Radek thought he caught a fleeting glimpse of Jess' face before she was wreathed in the blue-white energy of a Wraith stunner, making her crumple to the floor with a surprised cry.

'What's going on?' Radek demanded, his voice snapping out. 'Why did she just get shot?'

It took a moment for the chaos on the other side of the transmission to calm down, what with three Marines coming and standing over Jess' prone form and all, but eventually Wallace turned back to the ARC.

'She wasn't supposed to come into these labs.' She told the onlookers. 'We-'

'Look,' Rodney interrupted, his tone brisk. 'Wake her up and just send her back home, that's all we're asking. If our calculations are right, all she needs to do is touch the ARC, and then everything will be alright.' He turned and motioned at one of the nearby scientists. 'Go get Carson and Keller.' He snapped, and when the scientist looked hesitant, growled, 'Now, Roraen! Don't make me say it again, or you'll be assigned to cow duty for a week!'

Roraen scurried off, wanting to get away from Rodney's anger as quickly as possible.

'I don't know if-' Wallace began, but Rodney cut her off.

'Let me talk to your supervisor. No, better yet, go get your McKay, Sheppard, and Weir.' He said, his tone brooking no argument. Wallace nodded and left, disappearing out of sight. The three Marines had restrained Jess while Rodney had been talking, propping her up against a nearby table and keeping their stunners trained on her, just in case. Radek watched her, so wanting to just reach out and get her. It took all of his willpower not to do just that, and it was an agonizing five minutes later that he saw her rouse from the effects of the stunner. When she woke, Radek could tell instantly that it was Anora in control; the moment her eyes opened, her body language was closed off and tense, quite unlike Jess' more fluid and open mannerisms.

'Anora?' Radek called, garnering the attention of those in the room with him, as well as those with Anora.

'Radek?' she turned the best she could, looking for the source of his voice. When she saw his image floating over the ARC, a big grin formed on her face. 'Radek, it's you. That's fantastic! Look, could you convince them to let us go? We really want to get home and-'

She was cut off when Weir, Sheppard, and McKay came into the lab. None of the three batted an eye when they saw Radek's image floating in thin air. Weir stepped forwards.

'You said you wanted to speak with us?'

'Yes, we did.' Rodney said, moving closer to the ARC on his side. 'Look, all we want is for Connor over there to come home, safe and sound. As I was telling Doctor Wallace, what we think needs to happen is for Jess to simply touch the ARC and then she'll be transferred back to our reality.'

'It's that simple?' McKay asked, raising an eyebrow.

Rodney nodded. 'Yes, we think so. It can't hurt to try, now could it? If it works, everything goes back to the way it was.'

'And if it doesn't?' Sheppard inquired.

'We'll figure something out.' Rodney said stoutly. 'Now, all we need to do is have Connor touch the ARC. Untie her and bring her over.'

Sheppard motioned for the Marines to release Anora, who gracefully got to her feet once the zip-tie handcuffs had been cut off. She made her way to the ARC, pausing for a moment before reaching out a hand.

'Well, here goes nothing.' She muttered, and firmly placed her hand on the ARC.

There was a flash, and then the world went white.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Changes

Date: September 16, 2005 5 A.I [2005]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Jess woke with the sound of a heart monitor beeping nearby, and she was struck strongly by the resemblance to her first wakening in the alternate reality. Oh, God; she hoped like hell she wasn't still there. The sounds of gentle snoring to her left, however, made her open her eyes and turn her head, searching for the source of the noise. A soft smile crept over her face when she saw who it was.

'Nora, look. She said, rousing her symbiote from sleep. I think we made it.

It certainly looks that way. Anora replied, a note of relief apparent in her voice. Let's not wake him; there's no telling how much sleep he's gotten in the past few weeks. Knowing our Radek, he probably hasn't had much more than catnaps here and there.

'Our Radek.' Jess mused. I like it. Perhaps one day, we can make that permanent.

I would like that very much. Anora said. It's hard not to think of him as our mate, but we've both held back on that since we don't know how he'd react to that level of commitment.

True.

They contentedly kept watch over Radek, and eventually his rhythmic breathing lulled them back to sleep, content in the knowledge that they were home, and right where they should be.

Jess and Anora were released from the infirmary two days later, right around dinner time. Feeling more like their old selves than they had in a while, they made their way to the mess hall, glad to be free of any restrictions on their movements. Of course, Carson had put them on light duty for the weekend, but that was perfectly fine with both of them. When they got to the mess hall, they found Radek sitting at a table on the balcony outside, and joined him there once they'd gotten their own food.

'So Carson has finally let you go, I see.' Radek said, his eyes sparkling with mirth.

'Finally,' Jess replied with an overdramatic sigh that had Radek smiling. 'I kept thinking that we'd never get out of there.'

'Yes, well, the shorter the time you're in the infirmary, the better.' He told them, spearing a piece of lettuce with his fork. 'Besides, after a while, the need to sleep in your own bed tends to get a bit overwhelming.'

'You've got that right,' Jess laughed, enjoying the ease of the conversation.

We should ask him. Anora said suddenly, making Jess pause momentarily in her eating.

Ask him what, love? She replied, resuming her dinner.

You and I both know, Jess. Don't play stupid with me. Anora said, twitching gently in annoyance and sending shivers down Jess' spine. This was a habit of hers that let Jess know her symbiote meant business, and wouldn't take no for an answer.

Later, 'Nora. Maybe somewhere where it's not so public?

Hmm. I suppose you're right. Fine. Enjoy the meal, but this isn't over.

'Something going on?' Radek asked, and Jess snapped her attention back to him. He was waiting patiently for her answer, having seen enough of the Tok'ra holding internal conversations that he was used to the mildly glazed look that occurred during such a talk.

'Hmm? Oh, no. Just something Anora wanted to talk to me about. I'll tell you later. Now, what was it you were saying?'

"Later" came all too soon in Jess' opinion. She was nervous as hell; perhaps even more nervous than when she was getting ready for her and Radek's first date. Asking someone to be your mate wasn't something to be taken lightly, especially among the Tok'ra. It was akin to asking someone to marry you, which was basically what she and Anora were doing, but it also went deeper than that. It meant that you loved someone so deeply that being with anybody else romantically was physically repulsive, which could cause a hell of a lot of problems if one side of the relationship wasn't ready for such a deep commitment.

She paced their quarters, stopping here and there to idly straighten out a picture or smooth the bedspread. This continued on for some time, until Anora finally stopped her and made her sit on the bed.

Calm down. She soothed, adjusting Jess' brain chemistry to get rid of the panic. Radek will be here soon, and this will all be sorted out. After all, if he doesn't want to be our mate at this particular time, then perhaps at some time down the road.

I don't know, 'Nora. What if- Jess began, but was cut off by the chiming of their doorbell. She took a deep breath, got up from the bed, and went over to the front door, opening it with a pass of her hand over the sensor. Radek stood there, a smile on his face and a small bouquet of flowers in one hand.

'Hi,' he said, holding out the flowers. Jess took them, noting that they were a mix or roses and daisies, which were her and Anora's favorite flowers.

'Hi.' She replied, stepping back and letting him in. Once he was inside, Jess closed the door and then searched for a vase to put the flowers in. After she had found one and filled it with water, she arranged the flowers within, setting the vase on the small desk she kept near one of the windows in the small living room set off of her bedroom. As she was fiddling with the flowers, Radek came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her against him. Jess leaned back against him, enjoying the feeling of being in his arms once more.

'I missed you,' Radek murmured into her ear. 'Both of you.'

'We missed you too, Radek.' Jess said, turning within the circle of his arms so that she was facing him. 'It was hard, not being able to see you or talk with you.'

Radek pressed his lips against the top of her head, which wasn't hard, since she stood only three inches shorter than his 5'8", and then released her. 'Now, you said you wanted to talk to me about something?' he asked. Jess bit her lip, unsure of what to say.

Jess, just tell him.

I can't! I don't know how!

Oh, for the- Kiss him senseless, see where that leads, and then ask him. Or I will.

'Jess?' Radek hazarded. With a sudden movement (and no little prompting from Anora), Jess closed the gap between them and pulled Radek towards her, kissing him long and hard. It took a moment for him to respond, but when he did, it was with as much passion and enthusiasm as Jess had put into it. They stumbled towards the bedroom, neither wanting to lose contact with the other for too long. Clothes were shed along the way, leaving a trail that was cut off by the closing of the bedroom door.

As they lay tangled together in the darkness of the bedroom some time later, Jess heard Radek give a contented sigh as he snuggled close to her, one arm draped possessively over her waist. Right. Now was as good a time as any, she supposed. With Anora's encouragement she spoke, her words hesitant.

'Radek?'

'Hmm?' Radek murmured, idly trailing kisses along her shoulder.

'I- I mean, we wanted to ask you something- Anora and I.' she said, forcing herself not to rush her words. Radek paused in what he was doing, leaned back, and looked at her, one eyebrow quirking gently.

'And what would that be?' he asked, propping himself up on one elbow.

Jess took a deep breath. 'We care for you deeply. No, that's not right. We love you, and this whole thing with the alternate reality made it even more apparent than before. It was hard, not being trusted wholly by anyone, especially when they looked so familiar. When we first woke up back home and saw you at our bedside, Anora and I had a talk, and we decided we wanted to ask you…' she trailed off, closed her eyes briefly to collect herself, and then began again. 'Would you be our mate?' she said finally, not trusting herself to look directly at him. When Radek didn't say anything for a few minutes, Jess risked taking a look at him. His face was expressionless, and Jess couldn't tell what he was thinking.

Shit. He hates us. Shitshitshit. How could we have been so stupid? She asked Anora, her mental voice a panicked wail.

Jess, calm down; he doesn't hate us.

Then why hasn't he said anything?!

I don't know. I-

'Jess.'

Jess looked up from an intense examination of the nearest edge of the blanket, blushing heartily. 'I'm sorry,' she blurted. 'It's too soon in our relationship, isn't it? Only, we've never felt this way about anyone before and-'

Radek silenced her with a kiss, soft and slow. When theybroke apart, he gently caressed her face, sliding his hand along her jaw and then around her head until it came to rest at the back of her neck, right over her spine, and more importantly, Anora. Jess shivered at the intimate gesture he was making, whether he knew it or not.

'I would be honored to be your mate,' he said, a soft smile on his face. 'That goes for both of you.'

Jess blinked, and then a smile broke out across her face. She hugged Radek, the blankets entangling them momentarily before being pushed out of the way. 'Thank you.' She whispered against his skin, unable to keep the slight tremor out of her voice. 'For everything.'

End Part Three

Chapter Text

Part Four: Heart's Fire

Chapter One: Blade

Date: January 29, 6 A.I [2006]

Location: Hawk's Flight Village, Colorado

The past few months had been quiet, almost abnormally so. Life in Atlantis continued to be calm, though there was the occasional accident or minor catastrophe, but those were few and far between. The Wraith had been rather quiet as well, and that had been worrisome. It wasn't like the Wraith to be quiescent when it came to somewhat-open rebellion; they preferred to squash it before it had gotten too far off the ground. The small but usually steady trickle of refugees into Atlantis hadn't slowed, but those saved had been coming from farther afield than ever before.

Extra people meant needing more food and other supplies, so runs to the mainland were stepped up to twice a week. People were put on a rotating schedule to help with the bartering teams that were one of the few ways Atlantis could obtain food during the winter months, regardless of whether or not they were military, scientists, or civilians. Radek had been tapped to go on a trade mission to a small village that was hidden in the forest a few miles away from Atlantis. Hawk's Flight was one of their best trading partners and the two communities enjoyed a healthy relationship with one another, helping each other out in their times of need.

The people of Hawk's Flight welcomed the five Lanteans with open arms, the leader of the small community greeting them personally. Radek went off with Sergeant Ruiz and Corporal Tanner to peruse the selection of root vegetables and clothing, while Doctor Warren and Lieutenant Martinson stayed behind and chatted with the Mayor, Robert Hayes. Pulling his coat tighter around him, Radek followed after Tanner, his boots making sharp imprints in the scattered snow that lay on the ground. Radek usually enjoyed winter, but he supposed he was far too spoiled by living in Atlantis to appreciate the cold weather too much.

Besides the needed supplies the trading team had been sent out for, Radek wanted to get something special to bring back home to Anora and Jess. Over the past four and half months since they'd become mates, the connection between them had deepened greatly. Radek had been hesitant about telling people about the progression in their relationship, but all that Rodney had said when Radek had mentioned it late one night as they were working in one of the Engineering labs was that it was about time, and had promptly returned to his work. The small ceremony formalizing the decision had been held two weeks later; most of Atlantis had turned out for it, which had delighted Jess and Anora to no end.

He wasn't sure what, exactly, it was that he wanted to get his mate, but Radek knew that it should be something special. It was what they deserved, and Radek honestly liked doing things like that. Being able to make them happy and to see that megawatt smile that seemed to be reserved solely for him was just an added benefit.

He was browsing at a stall that sold fine fabrics when a cry of alarm sprang up from nearby. Radek turned to see a band of swiftly moving men with cloths shielding the lower portions of their faces coming his way, armed with daggers and staffs that they were using to incapacitate any who got in their way.

'Bandits!' the stall keeper, a broad fellow with short blond hair, bellowed, his eyes narrowing in anger. Radek was barely able to retrieve his gun when three of the bandits came rushing over, swiftly overwhelming him and the stall keeper. He tried to fight back, but all he got for his troubles was a blow to the head and a stab wound in his left bicep.

Staggering back, he searched for something to defend himself with. Nothing came to hand, so he ducked behind the stall and began to run, trying to escape the chaos that filled the market. Where the hell had the rest of his team gotten off to? Tanner and Ruiz had been a few hundred feet away from him when the bandits had come, but in the ensuing madness, Radek had lost sight of them. Now he was alone, left with a throbbing head and a bleeding arm. He tried to staunch the blood, but having little more than his coat and shirt, he was hard pressed to stop up the wound.

Radek was just about to try for the clearing where the Jumper was parked when Lieutenant Martinson suddenly stepped out of the shadow of a cottage and grabbed his arm. Luckily, it was the uninjured one, and Radek followed him into the cottage, Martinson shutting and locking the door behind him. The rest of the team was there as well, along with what Radek could only assume were the owners of the house and their daughter. The shouting outside died away after what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably only twenty minutes or so. Tanner had bandaged up Radek's arm, saying that it would have to do until they got back home. When everything was quiet once more, the Lanteans stepped out into the cold, weapons at the ready. The smell of smoke and burning wood drifted on the breeze, and Radek could see the ravaged remains of the small market when he exited the cottage.

Debris was scattered everywhere, and the smoldering skeletons of what used to be stalls littered the ground, sending thin spirals of smoke up towards the grey sky. Radek swore softly under his breath, taken aback by the scene before him. People were starting to emerge from their homes by now, picking through what little remained of the market. 'We should help them,' he said, turning to Martinson, who nodded.

'We'll help; you're injured, Doc. Stay here with Lightman and his family, and we'll pick you up on the way back.' The Lieutenant told him. Radek opened his mouth to protest, but the look on Martinson's face made him rethink that decision. Sighing, Radek turned back to his brief hosts.

'Is there anything I can do to help?' he asked resignedly.

Once the Lanteans had helped as much as they could, they made their way back to the Jumper, smelling of wood smoke. Luckily, the only injuries had been a few people who had been knocked out from a staff blow and a small collection of knife wounds, all shallow and none too serious. The Jumper ride back to Atlantis was quiet, which Radek appreciated. His headache had gone down some, but there was still the residual soreness from where the staff had hit against his head to contend with, not to mention the now-dull pain from his knife wound.

When the team got back to Atlantis, they all trooped off to the infirmary for their post-mission checkup, as was procedure. Carson took one look at their dirty clothes and had them change into scrubs, not wanting his domain to become any more unsanitary than needed. Radek followed his instructions, feeling far too tired to do anything more than accept the dark red scrubs that were handed to him and change into them, leaving his clothes in the small room he had ducked into to change. Once he'd changed, Radek took a seat on one of the beds, leaning against the wall in an effort to stay awake. His arm was starting to throb, and he was beginning to feel lightheaded. His eyes fluttered shut as he slumped against the wall, his body going limp and nearly succumbing to gravity's whim as he briefly fell unconscious.

Jess and Anora made their way to the infirmary, knowing that Radek would probably still be there, getting his post-mission checkup. They were in a good mood and couldn't wait to see their mate. When they entered the infirmary, however, it was to find Carson inserting an IV into Radek's arm, a slight frown on his face as he attended to the Czech physicist. Radek was shirtless at the moment, and Jess could see a gently stained field bandage wrapped around his left bicep. A nurse was preparing to change the bandage as Jess walked up, and gave her a nod of recognition.

'What have you done to yourself this time, Radek?' Jess asked, a hint of resigned amusement in her voice. 'I thought this was supposed to be a simple trading mission.'

Radek blinked blearily at her, his eyes foggy and unfocused. Jess frowned and then turned to Carson. 'What's wrong with him?' she wanted to know. 'His eyes are odd.'

'From what I can tell, it's a mild concussion.' Carson replied, taking a penlight from his lab coat pocket and shining it in Radek's eyes. He flinched violently, screwing his eyes shut against the sudden light. Carson sighed. 'Aversion to light is one of the more common symptoms.' He explained.

'Is there anything we can do to help?' Anora asked, switching off with Jess. 'I noticed that there aren't any Tok'ra on shift at the moment, and thought that perhaps a short time with a healing device might at least help alleviate his symptoms, at the very least.'

'Aye, it might.' Carson agreed. 'It would save some stitches, which I'm sure would be welcome. What do you say, Radek?'

Radek blinked sluggishly and then nodded mutely. 'Good,' Carson said, turning to the nurse, who had held off on taking Radek's bandages off for the moment. 'Would you get the healing device, love? It's over in the cupboard near the painkillers.'

The nurse nodded and then left, the sound of her footsteps fading as she walked away. Carson continued to do a few more preliminary tests on Radek while they waited, noting down the results on his datapad as he finished each test. When the nurse returned, she handed the healing device to Anora, who took it with a nod and a smile. She slipped it on and then had Radek hold still, as while the healing device would be helping his body recover the blood it had lost, among other things, the healing process was draining on both parties involved, seeing as it used both the injured person's and the Tok'ra's natural healing capabilities to effectively knit the injuries back together. Anora centered the healing device over Radek's chest as she had been taught, closing her eyes to focus better.

Before she had been barely begun to heal him, Radek lashed out, pushing Anora away and grabbing a wickedly sharp knife from a nearby tray in one swift motion. He continued the movement, surging to his feet and bringing the knife up in a defensive manner. Anora moved forwards, intent on calming her mate down, but he wasn't having any of it. He struck out, stabbing Anora deep in the side. She cried out and staggered back, eyes flaring gold in pain and confusion. She tripped, turned sideways, and hit the wall behind her. The others in the infirmary stared at Radek in shock as Anora slid down the wall, her eyes wide. A slender hand dazedly touched the rapidly darkening fabric of her Science Team shirt and came away glistening crimson.

Jess, coming to the fore, frowned, her brow furrowing in confusion; she looked up at Radek, who was standing there, his eyes emotionless and cold, the bloody knife dripping onto the once pristine floor of the infirmary. 'You stabbed me!' she said, her voice going ragged with pain and confusion. 'You fucking stabbed me!'

Carson and one of the nurses pushed past Radek to staunch the flow of blood coming from Jess' wound. The two Marines who were also still getting their post-mission checkups grabbed hold of Radek, Lieutenant Martinson carefully taking the knife away from him.

'He stabbed me,' Jess murmured as Carson held down a pressure bandage. 'Why?'

'We'll find out, love, don't worry.' The Scot told her as Martinson called Sheppard and Weir over the radio. 'For now, I need you to be quiet, and let Anora and us take care of you.'

John came in at a dead run, followed by Rodney and Elizabeth. They came to a halt a few feet into the room, Elizabeth's eyes widening at the macabre tableau in front of them. 'What the hell just happened here?' Rodney snapped, his voice breaking the silence that had descended since Carson last spoke.

'Doctor Zelenka just went crazy, sir.' Martinson replied. 'He- Whoa!' He and Corporal Tanner had to catch Radek just as his eyes rolled back into his head and he fell unconscious. 'He- unh- he attacked Doctor Connor while she was trying to heal him with the healing device.' Martinson and Tanner hefted Radek so that he hung between them. 'What do you want us to do with him?'

'Is he patched up already?' John asked, glancing at Carson, who was busy trying to stabilize Jess. Two of the nurses wheeled a stretcher over to where Jess lay and then helped Carson get her safely onto it.

'For right now, yes.' Carson replied, his tone distracted. 'I'm sorry I can't help you at the moment, Colonel, but I really need to get Jess into surgery. Jennifer can take care of you.' He nodded at his helpers. 'Let's go.'

They wheeled Jess away, hurrying towards the O.R. at a brisk run, leaving only a bloody swathe running down the wall and a small pool of blood on the floor where Jess had come to rest as evidence that something had happened. Elizabeth turned to John, Rodney, and Jennifer, who had come up while Carson was talking. 'Find out everything you can about what just happened,' Elizabeth said. 'I want all of you to work together on this.'

'And Zelenka?'

Elizabeth sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose in a gesture of weariness. 'Jennifer, please take a look at him, and then have him handcuffed to a bed in here. I want a guard on him 24/7. We're going to figure out what happened, and why.'

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Questions

Date: January 31, 6 A.I. [2006]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Radek woke with a groan, feeling like he had the hangover from hell. His head throbbed if he moved anything too fast, and he didn't think it was a wise idea to attempt to open his eyes at the moment. He was laying on what felt like a bed, but he couldn't be sure, given his current state of discombobulation. The sound of low voices conversing nearby made him turn his head, which he instantly regretted, as the movement sent waves of nausea washing over him. Radek managed to fight back the instinctual urge to vomit, but only just so; he could detect the sharp taste of bile in the back of his mouth.

'Doctor Zelenka?' a man's voice asked from nearby. Radek carefully cracked one eye open, his vision blurred. The speaker stood a foot or so away from him, looking concerned, from what Radek could tell.

'Need a bucket.' Radek managed, feeling another wave of nausea start to ramp up. 'Now.'

The nurse quickly positioned a plastic-lined wastebasket under Radek's mouth and helped him turn on his side so he wouldn't choke on his own vomit. The movement was just enough to set Radek off, and he retched into the basket, the nurse supporting him with strong, sure hands. 'Don't worry; Doctor Beckett will be here soon.' The nurse told Radek during a small pause in his attempt to empty his stomach of all the meals it had ever contained. 'I've called him, and Doctors Weir and McKay and Colonel Sheppard should be coming as well.'

'Guh,' Radek managed as dry heaves wracked his wiry frame. He spat, trying to rid his mouth of the acrid taste of vomit. The nurse left him laying on his side and moved to a nearby drug supply cabinet, which he opened and retrieved a vial containing an antiemetic drug and a syringe, which he set on a rolling cart just out of Radek's reach.

'Water?' Radek asked, his muscles quivering from the after-effects of the vomiting.

'Not right now, Doc, sorry.' The nurse said, taking the bucket away and replacing it with a fresh one. 'Just in case.'

'Right.' Radek sighed, his voice raspy. He tried to turn onto his back once more, but the nurse stopped him.

'You'd better just lie still,' he told him. 'You wouldn't want to mess your clothes up, now would you? Besides, I don't want you choking on your own vomit. It wouldn't be pretty.'

'Hmm.' Radek lay there, idly noting that his left wrist was attached to the bed rail by a set of handcuffs. Odd, that. He could also feel the pinch of an subclavian IV in his skin; he shifted slightly so that he wouldn't pull out any of the tubes out and create a mess. The nurse took away the full bucket, disappearing for a few minutes before returning with Beckett and the three members of the Senior Staff.

''Lo.' Radek said, weakly managing to wave at them with his free hand. 'What happened?'

Rodney blinked. 'You don't know?' he asked, and Radek gritted his teeth slightly at the sound of Teshryn's distorted voice, wincing at the noise. It grated harshly across his ears, which felt very sensitive at the moment.

'No,' Radek told him, watching as Carson injected the Cyclizine into the IV port. 'I remember coming back from the mission to Hawk's Flight, and then falling asleep in the Infirmary. I woke up here, feeling like hell. I still do.'

'Nothing in between that?' John inquired, and Radek shook his head minutely.

'No. It's all nejasný- unclear, fuzzy.' He frowned. 'What happened?'

The four standing in front of him exchanged glances, and then Elizabeth spoke, keeping her voice and expressions as controlled as possible. 'For some reason, you attacked Jess and Anora.' She said, and winced slightly when she saw Radek's shocked face. 'They're fine; they're recovering in the infirmary.'

'Aren't I in the infirmary?'

'You're in an isolation room, lad.' Carson explained. 'We wanted to keep you in here for everyone's safety, including your own. There are those here who are very protective of Jess and Anora and have called for your immediate banishment from Atlantis, or worse.'

'But I don't remember doing anything!' Radek snapped, his anger getting the best of him. He immediately felt contrite when he saw Carson's startled face. 'Sorry, Carson.' He apologized. 'It's just that you're telling me I attacked my mate, which I don't remember doing, and it's a little hard to believe.'

'Tell that to Connor.' Rodney snarled, and John hit him upside the back of his head. 'Ow! What was that for?'

'Give the man a little grace, Rodney. He just woke up and got this dumped on him.' John said, raising an eyebrow. 'Wouldn't you be concerned if you woke up and found out that you and Teshryn had attacked Jennifer and Nashi?'

'Well, yes, but-'

'It's no different, McKay.'

Rodney huffed and crossed his arms over his chest, looking just a bit put out.

'You said they are recovering?' Radek asked Carson, who nodded.

'Yes. They should be released sometime within the next few days. I'd prefer if they stayed longer, but they've been wanting to get back to work, and there's not much else I can do besides tying them down and sedating both of them to keep them from leaving.' Carson told him with a chuckle. 'As for you- well, I'm not sure what to do with you, lad.' He looked at Elizabeth, John, and Rodney. 'Any suggestions?'

'Well, until we can figure out what's going on, I say he stays here.' John said, idly stuffing his hands into his pockets. 'He probably doesn't need to be handcuffed, but the guards stay.'

'Agreed.' Elizabeth concurred. 'Rodney?'

'That sounds reasonable. Have the results on his blood work come in?'

'Not yet; Jen should be bringing them any time now.' At these words, the door to the isolation room opened and Jennifer walked in, bearing a tablet computer.

'Hello,' she said brightly. 'I've got Radek's blood results right here, and I think you'll want to see this, Carson.' She handed the tablet to Carson, who quickly scanned the information on the screen. Radek watched him read, Carson's eyebrows rising with each sentence he took in.

'Well, that explains quite a bit.' He mused distractedly. 'According to this, there was a low dose of some sort of deliriant in his blood, though we can't tell which, since it seems to have degraded rather quickly.'

'Deliriant?' Rodney asked. 'Wait, you're saying he was drugged?'

'Aye, most likely when he got stabbed. It's rather like smearing poison on a spear or knife, but I think that whatever was used was meant to merely incapacitate, rather than kill.' Carson said. 'It makes the most sense, especially since all the reports said that there weren't any fatalities, merely non-severe flesh wounds.'

'That's right.' John said.

'So, it wasn't truly my fault?' Radek asked, hope ringing in every word. 'I mean, I wasn't exactly myself, right?'

'Some of the more common side effects of a deliriant are dilated pupils, a fugue state, mood swings, and impaired recall, up to and including a total blackout of events occurring while the drug is at its peak.' Jennifer piped up. She blushed at the sudden scrutiny, but rallied magnificently. 'Nashi had a doctorate in toxicology before she blended with me.' She explained. 'Now, even though the drug has seemed to run its course, we should probably keep you under observation for a little while, just in case.'

'How long has it been since I attacked Jess and Anora?' Radek asked as John unlocked the handcuffs securing him to the bed. Radek shifted and made himself more comfortable. Carson helped him sit up, and Radek was relieved to see that the medicine he'd been given was working; he didn't feel as nauseous as before, and his headache and sensitivity to light had lessened greatly.

'Two days,' Elizabeth said, brushing an errant lock of hair out of her face. Radek sighed, running a hand over his face.

'And how long will it be until I can get out of here?'

Jennifer glanced at Carson, who shrugged mildly. 'A day, maybe two. We want to make sure that the drug's fully out of your system; you understand, right?'

'Of course.' Radek acquiesced. 'I, too, am not fond of missing too much work.'

'Well, there's plenty of it waiting for you once you get out of here,' Rodney told him. Carson raised an eyebrow at Rodney, who looked confused. 'What? It's true.'

'Aye, and there'll be no sneaking in of work to Radek while he's recovering, understood?' Carson said, crossing his arms over his chest.

'But-'

'Ah! No, Rodney, that's final.'

Radek settled back on his pillows, enjoying the back-and-forth between his two friends. His thoughts drifted towards Jess and Anora and he sighed softly. God, he hoped he could make things right between them. If not, well, he wouldn't be all too offended if they didn't want to be his mate anymore. He'd be hurt, true, but he also understood that it would take a hell of a lot of rebuilding of trust and faith in one another before they would be able to continue down the path they had been contentedly treading before this horrible accident had occurred.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Rumors

Date: February 10, 6 A.I. [2006]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Radek was released from the infirmary two days after he had first awoken, ready and raring to get back to work, though apprehensive all the same. Every time he entered a room, those inside fell quiet for a few minutes and then returned to their conversations. It was starting to annoy Radek to no end. It wasn't truly his fault that he'd attacked Jess, now was it? He'd been under the influence of a powerful drug that had, by all accounts, made him hallucinate and attack two of the few people in the world that he truly cared for with all of his being. On the few times that he'd gone to get something to eat from the mess hall during peak hours, the stares and whisperings had followed him as well. He eventually started eating during the off-hours, which meant that his eating schedule, which had been fairly regular before, was now sporadic throughout the day.

He was eating dinner alone late one night when Doctor Kavanagh came into the mess hall, looking bone-weary and carrying a chipped coffee mug in one hand. Radek looked up at the sound of footsteps in the empty room, pausing in his meal to watch Kavanagh refill his mug from the carafe that was kept warm in a small niche that seemed purpose-made for the task. Kavanagh took a long sip from his refreshed coffee, and then turned to go. He froze when he saw Radek looking at him, and Radek hurriedly turned his gaze back to his meal, not wanting to endure further questions or ridicule.

As Kavanagh's footsteps stopped in front of Radek's table, Radek didn't look up, but continued to eat, bracing himself for the comments he knew were about to come. When Kavanagh merely pulled out a seat and sat down without saying anything, Radek looked up, pausing in his eating.

'Can I help you?' he asked, keeping his voice calm.

Kavanagh shrugged and leaned back a bit in his chair, his tall frame slouching gently in his seat. 'I haven't seen you around the labs since you were released from the infirmary,' he said after taking a sip of his coffee. 'Though given the rumors that have been flying around, I can see why you wouldn't want to deal with that.'

'Yes, well, thank you for your concern.' Radek said shortly. Kavanagh sighed wearily, and Radek could've sworn that his eyes had shifted colors briefly to a darker hue of blue, though it could've just been the way the light was reflecting off them at the time.

'Look, don't take this the wrong way or anything, but the more you avoid people, the more fuel you give to the rumors, no matter what Weir, Sheppard, and McKay have said in your defense.' He said, setting his mug down on the table. 'I believe what they said about there being a drug; hell, it's one of the few things of this whole story that makes sense. You're not one for anger management issues, let alone homicidal tendencies against people you respect and love. Don't let the idiots who run the rumor mill in this place get the upper hand. God knows I've dealt with them often enough.' He let out a self-deprecating laugh. 'I know I'm not the poster child for popularity, but honestly, that shouldn't be the reason why you're here. This is Atlantis, the home of the Ancients, and if that's not a good enough reason to stay, well…' he shrugged and got to his feet. 'Maybe there're other reasons for you to rejoin the land of the diurnal, but I think you'll have to figure those out for yourself. Goodnight, Doctor Zelenka.'

Kavanagh turned to leave, and had in fact gotten a few feet away when Radek spoke. 'Thank you, Kavanagh.' Kavanagh paused and then turned around.

'You're welcome.' He gave Radek a fleeting smile. 'And thank you for listening. Not many people would do that.'

'Don't worry about it.' Radek said, and then watched Kavanagh leave, feeling mildly surprised. Kavanagh wasn't the most personable of people, so to hear him dispense some rather insightful personal advice was odd, to say the very least. Radek finished his meal in contemplative silence, wondering just how long he'd been complacent and fixed in his perceptions of the people around him.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Resolution

Date: February 12, 6 A.I. [2006]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

Jess walked into her engineering lab to find it empty save for Radek, who was sitting patiently on a rolling stool for her. He got to his feet when she entered, moving slow so he wouldn't startle her. 'Can we talk?' he asked, wringing his hands nervously in front of him. 'Please?'

Jess paused where she stood, regarding him for a moment, and then nodded, stepping further into the room after closing the door. 'I was wondering when you'd come and find me.' She said softly. 'You've been avoiding me since you got out of the infirmary. Where on earth have you been sleeping?'

Radek rubbed at the back of his neck. 'Uh, mostly on a cot in my lab or in one of the spare rooms.' He said sheepishly. 'I wasn't too sure how you'd take me sleeping in our room right after, well…' he trailed off, giving a hopeless sort of shrug.

Jess smiled wryly, setting the folders she had been carrying down on a nearby table. 'Yeah, that was probably a good idea.' She said softly. 'Anora and I were kind of shaky there for the first few days, but when Carson told us what happened and why you attacked us, it got better. We still have nightmares sometimes, though.'

Radek wasn't sure what to say. Just saying "I'm sorry" seemed too trite, while "I don't actually remember attacking you. Oops?" was stupid, and likely to be received very poorly indeed. He ran a hand through his hair, wishing like hell that the attack had never happened in the first place. Jess and Anora probably wished for the same thing, especially since they'd been the ones hurt the most by it.

'I…' he sighed, leaning back against the table behind him. 'God. I don't know what to say. I'm sorry, that's for sure, but there's so much more. You have every right not to want to see me again, ever, and I respect that. I know it's selfish to expect you and Anora to stay, especially after what happened, but then again, I'm a somewhat selfish man. You two are among some of the best things that have happened to me, I won't lie. I don't want to lose you, but if you'd rather go, I won't stop you.' Radek took his glasses off and sighed once more, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. Jess was quiet, and Radek could only assume that she was speaking with Anora. He settled his glasses back on his face, blinking gently to refocus his eyes.

It was a few tense minutes later that Jess spoke, choosing her words carefully. 'Radek, I won't lie to you,' she began. 'It's going to be hard, even though we know that it wasn't really your fault that you attacked us. There're going to be some issues that we're going to have to work out, but I think that, over time, we can get back to where we were, and perhaps far better. It's not going to be an instant thing, but both Anora and I agree that as long as we- meaning you as well- work on this together, we should be okay. For starters, we'd like you to at least consider moving back into our quarters.' She smiled wryly, a small laugh escaping her. 'Anora says that she misses the feel of your body lying against ours at night, not to mention the warmth, among other things, and quite frankly, I do too. We've gotten far too used to waking up to you being close by to let you go that easily. So, what do you say? Will you come back and help us work through this, or would you rather sleep another night on that cot in your lab?'

Radek chuckled softly. 'God, we're a messed up group of people, aren't we?' he muttered, shaking his head. Jess nodded.

'Yeah, we are, but look at the world we live in.' she said. 'At least we haven't gone insane.'

'That we can tell, anyways.' Radek pointed out.

'True.'

What Jess had said was right; it would take a long time for them to figure out just how to interact with one another again. Radek knew that it wasn't going to be easy, but he was willing to fight for what he wanted, and for those he loved. It was the least he could do.

End Part Four

End Book One

Chapter Text

Book Two

Part One: Rebels' Cause

Chapter One: Plans

Date: June 19, 7. A.I. [2007]

Location: Old City Sanctuary, Old City, B.C., Canada

They moved stealthily through the rubble of Old City, darting from cover to cover, the only noise the sounds of the occasional piece of debris shifting or the muted expelling of breath as they clambered over a particularly rough area of terrain. The object of their foray stood towering over them, looking remarkably intact given the amount of devastation around it. The occasional late-night avian flew overhead, though whether or not they were owls was an entirely different story. Things had changed ever since the Wraith had come; more and more Abnormals, especially those who were gifted with the power of flight, had appeared all over the world, though they tended to congregate in places where the Wraith had all but culled the former human population. Oddly enough, the Wraith didn't seem to mind the Abnormals, but then again, most Abnormals stayed well clear of the Wraith in any case, preferring to make their homes underground in the sewers, tunnels, and catacombs of the once-thriving cities.

Will looked up at the Sanctuary, remembering how long it had been since he'd seen it. He, Tesla, and Henry had been on a mission in South America- in the south-east portion of Argentina, to be exact- when the Wraith had attacked. The Abnormal they'd been tracking had been captured when an errant Dart had scooped it up just after the three men had made it to the safety of a cave, and they'd stayed there for the next few days while the world went to hell around them. When they'd been able to get back to the Buenos Aires Sanctuary a few weeks later, it was to find total chaos. Abnormals had escaped from the Sanctuary and were wreaking even more havoc than the Wraith, or so it seemed. Will, Tesla, and Henry had been hard pressed to find anyone who knew what was going on, as well as anything that could be used to contact the other Sanctuaries around the world.

Eventually, though, Tesla and Henry had managed to get something jerry-rigged and set up. Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, New Delhi, and London were all gone; there was nothing but static when they'd tried to contact them. Some of the more minor Sanctuaries- Nairobi, Denver, and Mexico City, along with a few more- had escaped relatively unscathed, though there would need to be massive rebuilding all around. When they'd tried to contact the main Sanctuary in Old City, it had taken some time and multiple attempts before the Big Guy had picked up, looking battered and bruised. He'd reported that Magnus had been captured by the Wraith; what they wanted with her was a mystery, but Will had a feeling that her extended lifespan probably had something to do with it. He'd shared his theory that once the Wraith found out about Magnus' Abnormality, it wouldn't be a long time before the Wraith would be using her to feed on. How long she'd survive was an entirely different story, one that none of the men wanted to speculate on.

It had taken them the past seven years to get to Old City; travelling across two continents by foot and keeping off of the Wraith's radar was hard going. Now that they were here, though, their goal was to get to the Sanctuary and see what they could salvage. The Big Guy was supposed to be waiting for them, safe and secure somewhere in the main lab of the Sanctuary- or at least, that's what he'd said he'd be doing when they'd contacted him from the Mexico City Sanctuary a few months ago.

'We're almost there, gentlemen.' Tesla said, giving his companions a wan smile. He had long ago abandoned his once-customary suit for some more practical clothing he'd picked up in Buenos Aires, knowing that it would be more useful to travel in. All of them wore a mishmash of clothing, keeping the spares in their packs, along with what medical supplies and ammunition for the weapons they'd been able to scavenge in their travels. They'd managed to survive by living off the land and occasionally going into some of the smaller cities that still had human populations and trading for supplies that they needed that they couldn't get otherwise.

'Good.' Henry replied, navigating over a large block of concrete with rebar jutting out of it, grimacing slightly as he got stuck halfway over and had to extricate himself, ripping his shirt a bit in the process. ''Cause I really need a shower.'

'Yeah, we all do.' Will said with a wry smile. 'Then again, that's presuming there's still running water.'

'Well, there's always the river.' Tesla suggested. 'We've done it before.'

'I'd prefer to avoid that if at all possible.' Henry muttered as they reached the main gate of the Sanctuary. Will noticed a security camera overhead whirr and track their movements. He pointed it out to the others, and then waved to the camera. It took a moment, but the gate soon opened inwards, moving ponderously as it did so. The three travelers entered the grounds, the gate swinging shut once they'd cleared its path. There were additional checkpoints they had to navigate; it seemed like the Big Guy hadn't wanted the Wraith to get far, even if they'd been able to get past the EM shield. Something about the varying frequencies of the shield disrupted their culling beam technology, which had proved beneficial to the Sanctuaries that had survived the initial onslaught. Unfortunately, the ballistic weaponry on the Wraith cruisers had proved more than a match for the Sanctuaries' defenses; not even the EM shields could hold off that sort of bombardment, no matter how enhanced they were. The Old City Sanctuary had survived simply because it wasn't in a dense population center, like New York or London.

Once they reached the main labs, Will, Henry, and Tesla spread out, looking for the Big Guy. Tesla eventually found him waiting in what used to be Henry's old lab and called the others over. Henry and Will were recipients of what felt like over-enthusiastic hugs, while Tesla was merely greeted by a nod and a short bark from the Big Guy.

'It's been too long.' The Abnormal said, settling back in a nest of what looked to be every available linen that had once been stocked in the closets of the Sanctuary. 'I've been watching for you ever since you called the first time.'

'Yes, well, traversing two continents by foot isn't done in one day, unfortunately.' Tesla replied, taking a seat on a nearby chair. 'We've been moving as fast as we could, but have so far managed to stay off the Wraith's radar, which is no mean feat in itself.'

'Have there been any other Abnormals here recently?' Will asked.

'One, a few months ago. He said he was going to try to get to Colorado.'

Henry blinked, frowning slightly. 'Colorado. Why does that seem so important?'

Will wasn't sure, but it was ringing faint bells in his head as well. Rumors about a safe haven there, perhaps? 'I don't know, Henry. I think I heard someone talking about it the last time we were in a camp, but I don't remember what the context was.'

'Sanctuary, ironically.' Tesla said quietly. 'Apparently, there's some sort of safe haven there, but no one knows where. Colorado's a pretty big place to start looking on a rumor, though, and one of the major routes the Wraith take to move prey' he spat the word as if it were poisonous. 'up into Canada and elsewhere. We had to take the long way around, remember?'

'Oh, yes, because I remember going through the Dakotas ever so fondly.' Henry snarked, making the Big Guy chuff in amusement.

'Perhaps exploring this rumor of a safe place in Colorado wouldn't be such a bad thing,' he said. 'If both Abnormals and humans are talking about it, then maybe there is some merit to the rumor.'

'Maybe, but we wouldn't even know where to start, let alone find someone who'd be willing to take us there. If it's such a well-hidden place, then obviously the Wraith don't know about it.' Will pointed out. 'Or they do, and it's a trap to lure people in.'

'Why would the Wraith need a trap? They've already got plenty of humans to work for them, not to mention to feed on.' Tesla leaned back in his chair. 'From what I gathered when we stopped in Montana, there've been less and less Wraith parties coming up from Colorado, and no one knows why. Maybe there is some credence to this idea of rebel fighters who snatch people from the jaws of death. God knows we could use some help, especially if we want to get rid of the Wraith once and for all.'

'Does anyone besides me remember how well the whole rebellion thing went down in Germany? Not to put a damper on your plans or anything, but there're probably at least four hive ships in orbit, not to mention who knows how many cruisers and whatnot as well. If we're actually going to try and make this work, we're going to need a hell of a lot more than a couple of people. We're going to need an army at the very least, or maybe some sort of super-weapon, if one exists.' Henry said. 'I know that we've got the Sanctuaries on our side, but honestly, if there's a chance we can actually pull something off, I don't think it's going to be with what we can scrape up from around here. I know you're a genius and all,' here he looked at Tesla, who shrugged. 'but if no one else in the world has come up with something by now, I don't think there's going to be much chance that we're going to be able to pull something off.'

There was silence after Henry's small speech as each of the four males in the room digested what he had said. Will ran a hand over his face, trying to think. What could they use to at least tip the fight in their favor? Sure, they had their handguns, and ten-to-one Magnus had some of her more esoteric weapons stashed around the Sanctuary, but Henry was right. They lacked the numbers and the technological superiority to go face-to-face with the Wraith and win outright. He sighed, suddenly feeling very tired indeed. God. What they really, truly needed was a miracle, and Will had stopped believing in those when the Wraith had come and Earth had been unable to defend itself. Even the few large weapons the Tok'ra had been able to come up with hadn't worked for long, which had been disappointing. The Wraith had adapted marvelously, reconfiguring their shields to adjust for the Tok'ra weapons and mowing down any who stood in their way, not even bothering to stop and feed on the fallen but not yet dead.

'So, we're basically screwed, then?' he said finally, breaking the silence. 'I mean, we can sit here until the end of the world-'

'Too late.' Tesla muttered.

'Or, we can try and find out what's going on in Colorado.' Will caught the Big Guy's look and shrugged. 'Look, I'd rather not abandon the Sanctuary either, but we have to be reasonable here. What's worth more to us, our lives or a building? Buildings can always be replaced, lives can't.'

'Yes, but going off somewhere on little more than a rumor?' the Big Guy asked. 'It doesn't seem like such a good idea to me.'

'We've gone places for less when the Sanctuary was still active,' Henry said with a soft chuckle. 'Remember that time in Malaysia when we were out hunting for that Kellseth that Magnus had heard was supposed to be there? Ten days of hunting, and all we got for it were bug bites and mud in places I never thought I'd get clean again.'

'Yeah, and Ashley was complaining about how she'd gotten her coat entirely covered in mud. It never did lose that odd smell.' Will laughed as the memories rushed back.

'Not to be the mood killer and everything, but one or more of us should probably stay here and keep in contact with the other Sanctuaries.' Tesla said, breaking into the conversation. 'It wouldn't hurt to be ready, not to mention that two would travel faster than three.'

'No, you're probably right.' Will said, sighing.

'I'll stay,' the Big Guy said. 'It'll attract less attention if I don't travel with you.'

'True,' Henry replied, stretching gently. 'Though I've gotta say, I've missed seeing your hairy mug around.'

'Hunh. Same for you, Henry.' The Big Guy said, gently cuffing Henry upside the back of the head. 'This time, though, you should take the long-distance radios. That way, we can keep in touch and I can keep track of where you are.'

'It won't be much help if they're a few thousand miles away, but it's a good idea. I'll stay as well,' Tesla said. 'I can help get this place back up and running, and maybe get some of our old contacts found once that's done.

'Anyways, back to the plan.' Tesla continued on, getting to his feet. 'Depending on when you want to start out, I suggest we go through our supplies, pack what you'll need, and then get some sleep. It wouldn't be a good idea if you started out right away, and who knows if you're even going to find wherever this safe haven is. You should also have a plan and a time limit on how long you're going to be looking for this place. I say if you don't find it within four months, you should head back here.'

'Why four months?'

'It allows for travelling time and search time.' Tesla said in response to Will's question. 'If you'd rather be gone for a longer period of time, now's the time to say so.'

'Let's talk about this in the morning.' Henry yawned, only belatedly covering his mouth with a hand. 'I'm beat, and I don't want to have to deal with any planning right now.'

'Good idea.' Will got to his feet as well. 'We can bunk on some of the old beds in the main house, right?' he directed his question to the Big Guy, who nodded.

'They're safe enough. Just don't put any lights too close to the windows; the Wraith still do flybys occasionally.'

'Got it. No lights near the windows. Anything else?'

The Big Guy shook his head. 'Sleep well. I'll be down here if you need me.'

Will, Henry, and Tesla all trooped upstairs, not wanting to bother with the elevator at the moment, and then went to their respective beds, choosing bedrooms that either didn't have windows or that still had heavy draperies that could be drawn across the windows. Will shook out his blankets the best he could -apparently the Big Guy hadn't absconded with all the linens, though it had seemed like it at first glance, turned off his light, and then took a seat in a chair near his window, not feeling tired enough to chance the creaky-looking bed.

It was good to be back home, even if for only a short while. Will looked out the window, picking out the familiar patterns of stars in the night sky. With the arrival of the Wraith, the glow of the city that had once nearly obscured the view of the sky save for from the rooftop of the Sanctuary was muted, leaving Will an unparalleled view of the constellations. He had to wonder if there were other civilizations out there that didn't know the oppression of the Wraith, and if they even knew of Earth's plight. He chuckled softly to himself. Wishful thinking never got him anywhere; if it had, everything would be right in the world: there'd be no Wraith, Magnus would still be here, and the Sanctuary would be alive and filled with the wonders of the unseen world.

Sighing softly, Will got up from his chair and curled up on the bed, wrapping his blanket around him. The feel of the mattress beneath him was so odd that it took him a while to adjust to its support, but once he did, he could feel himself relaxing. As he lay there in the dark, Will glanced out of the window one more time, the distant lights of the stars lulling him to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Journey

Date: August 18, A.I. 7 [2007]

Location: Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado, USA

Henry trudged through the rapidly darkening woods, collecting what dry pieces of fallen branches and tree limbs he could find. He and Will had stopped for the night, pausing in a thick stand of trees that was situated on the edge of what once had been farmland. From an initial glance, Henry guessed that the farm used to grow fruit crops; he could smell the rapidly ripening apples and peaches that now grew wild and unharvested. He noted the location, and figured that a breakfast of fruit would be a nice change from the dried meat and MREs that had been the staple of his and Will's meals for the past few weeks.

When he judged he had enough kindling and large pieces of wood, Henry returned to the makeshift campsite to find that Will had already laid out their bedrolls and had made a fire ring with some rocks he'd dug out of the soft earth. Will looked up when Henry approached, his hand pausing on the grip of his gun before relaxing.

'Hey.' Will said, giving a brief nod to Henry as he continued to clear the fire ring of leaves and other debris. 'I'm almost done here; did you collect enough wood to last the night?'

'Yep,' Henry replied, setting the wood down near the fire ring. 'There's an orchard on the other side of this wood; we could have fresh fruit for breakfast tomorrow if you want.'

'Sounds good,' Will said, sitting back on his heels and examining his work for a moment before turning to his pack. 'But for tonight, it's MREs again.'

'Wonderful.' Henry said dryly. 'I can't wait.'

Will snorted softly in amusement but didn't make any further comment as he withdrew two MREs from his pack. Henry busied himself with the fire, using a small lighter that he'd taken from the Old City Sanctuary to ignite the tinder. The lighter seemed to have an ever-lasting fuel source, and was one of Henry's most prized possessions, as he had been given it by Magnus. It took a while for the smaller pieces of wood to catch, but once they did, Henry carefully laid a few of the larger chunks of timber on the flames and sat back, enjoying the sight of his handiwork.

'The MREs are done,' Will announced a few minutes later. 'It's rice and chicken for both of us, tonight.' He handed Henry an MRE and then dug into his own, nose wrinkling gently at the thought of having to eat the prepackaged food once more, but ate it anyways. Henry started eating, having found that not actually thinking about what he was eating made it that much more palatable in the long run. When they finished their meals, Henry and Will played a few rounds of cards before settling in for the night. Will took the first watch while Henry dozed, sleeping lightly as he had for some time now.

Will woke Henry for his watch three hours later, nudging him carefully in the shoulder before turning in and going to bed himself. Henry sighed, wrapped his blanket around his shoulders, and sat with his back against a tree, idly poking at the dying embers of the fire. He looked up at the sky, wanting to see the stars, and found his view blocked by the tree branch above him.

'Damn.' He muttered, pulling his blanket tighter around him. For it being summer, it sure did get chilly at night. Then again, they were in the mountains, so that probably had something to do with it. The movement Henry made, unfortunately, made him realize that there was a pressing need he had to attend to, so he got to his feet and quickly made his way to the latrine pit that had been dug earlier in the day. He made speedy use of it, keeping one eye on the campsite and the other on the surrounding area. Once he'd finished, Henry covered over the portion of the pit he'd used and returned to the campsite, using a small portion of the water in his canteen to rinse off his hands.

Sitting back down once more, Henry leaned back against the tree, watching the few last embers of the fire slowly dim and then go out. A light breeze sprang up a short while later, stirring the ashes and making them dance in the light of the half-moon just visible over the crown of the trees. Henry watched the show for a moment, and then relaxed, listening to the night sounds around him. Crickets chirruped, owls hooted, and leaves rustled in the breeze. It was almost comforting, and Henry found that it proved to be a sort of lullaby. He had to fight to stay awake, and loosened his blanket so that he wouldn't get too warm and drift off to sleep before his watch was over. Henry drew a deep breath in and let it out slowly. This was going to be a long night.

Will woke him later that morning, right about when the sun had just peeked through the branches of a nearby tree. 'Breakfast time,' Will said in a way of a morning greeting. 'We could go get some of that fruit you saw yesterday.'

'Yeah, sounds good.' Henry yawned, belatedly remembering to cover his mouth with one hand. 'Just give me a minute to wake up.'

'No problem.' Will started packing up, scattering the ashes of their fire and making it look as if they'd never been there in the first place. Henry followed suit, attaching his bedroll to his pack and then burying what was left of the latrine pit after using it one last time. Once everything had been taken care of, he and Will started off once more, heading towards the orchard that Henry had seen the previous day. When they reached the edge of the woods, however, the two men drew to a stop, Will swearing softly underneath his breath.

The scene before them was slightly worrisome. A group of people were scattered around the orchard below the small rise that the wood stood on, gathering the ripe fruit hanging from the trees. There were only a few people on the edge closest to Will and Henry, and as they watched, two out of the three harvesters moved on to parts of the orchard farther afield, leaving their companion alone picking apples.

'Now what?' Henry asked as he and Will ducked behind some nearby bushes. 'We can't go in there, and I don't know if there's a way around.'

'I thought you said that this was a wild orchard?'

'It certainly looked that way yesterday!' Henry said, risking a glance at the workers down below. 'I mean, the trees weren't trimmed or anything, and there was plenty of fruit just lying on the ground.'

'Hmm. There's probably a village or settlement nearby, then.' Will mused. 'Or maybe they're some sort of travelling caravan or something.'

'The real question, though, is if they're allied with the Wraith or not.' Henry pointed out. 'It won't matter where they live if they're Wraith worshipers.'

'God, I hope not.'

'Yeah, me too.'

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Sight

Date: August 19, A.I. 7 [2007](day)

Location: Orchard, Rio Grande National Forest ,Colorado, USA

Peter dropped the last of the apples into his basket, taking a step back and surveying his work as he took a long drink from his canteen. The basket was three-quarters of the way full, and Peter figured that maybe another five to ten minutes' work would see it filled. He was happy with that fact, as well as the fact that he was enjoying the chance to get out of Atlantis, even if it meant he had to do some manual labor. He didn't mind so much, especially since some of the fruit would be going to Hawk's Flight, and he always like chatting with the villagers. Peter liked living in Atlantis, that was for sure, but he enjoyed getting the occasional chance to breathe some fresh air and feel the sun and the wind on his face.

Contentment welled up in him as he lowered his canteen, as did a mild wave of surprise and sudden caution. Peter paused, wondering where the last two emotions had come from. He looked around for his fellow harvesters, figuring that maybe he had picked it up from one of them, but they were all too far away from him to read them that easily. Peter was a passive empath, which meant that while he could See and sense just what emotion someone was feeling, he couldn't manipulate their feelings in any way. He could also See lies, a trait passed down from his mother's side of the family. All of Peter's family- his parents, his wife, and his close blood relatives on both sides- were Abnormals, including himself. Their talents ran towards the Sight and its variants, though it tended to change from person to person. His wife, Sasha, for example, had been an active empath and had been a psychologist, of all things. It had been a good fit for her, and she had enjoyed helping her patients. She and Peter had balanced one another out very well; their talents muted the other's considerably, and they enjoyed a relative normality when near one another.

Of course, none of that mattered now. She and Peter's parents had died in the First Wave, when the Wraith had hit Los Angeles, or as far as Peter knew. Peter had been at the Denver Sanctuary when the Wraith attacked, and had fled with those who could blend in with the baseline humans into the mountains. Eventually he'd been picked up by one of the Lantean patrols and had been in Atlantis for six years now.

Peter shook his head to clear his morbid thoughts and returned his attention to the situation at hand. All of his fellow workers were at least two hundred feet away or more from him, and since his empathy had a radius of one hundred feet, Peter knew that the caution and surprise hadn't come from them. He frowned, his eyes narrowing behind his glasses. Where, then, had it come from?

Someone was close enough for him to sense, but wasn't currently visible. Right. Well, he could at least get a general direction of where the emotions were coming from, and then maybe investigate it further. He closed his eyes briefly, taking a deep breath as he did so. When he opened his eyes, they had changed color from a moderate shade of blue to a deep cobalt hue. The world as Peter saw it had shifted to a grayscale environment, filled with varying shades of black, white, and gray. It always reminded the computer engineer of the scene in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy stepped out of her house and into the color-filled world of Munchkinland, save for in reverse. The only colors Peter ever Saw were those of people's emotions, and they stood vibrantly out against the plain backgrounds of the altered world.

He searched for those splashes of color now, ignoring those he could see out of the corner of his eyes and focusing on the landscape in front of him, turning his head slowly so he wouldn't miss the source of the emotions he had felt earlier. A small stand of trees up a nearby gentle slope caught his eyes, and he focused on it, seeing the tell-tale ribbons of emotions wending their way towards him. Silver flashes laced some of the emotions, marking them as belonging to an Abnormal. Peter smiled slightly and then blinked, letting the Sight fade back to its normal levels. The world regained its regular colors, the leaves of the trees once more their proper green and the apples their bright reds, greens, and yellows.

Peter picked up his basket, balancing it on his hip as he did so. With a sudden thought, he took a few apples from the basket and set them on a flat rock that he figured would be visible from the hill. He then wrote a quick note and stuck it under one of the apples so it wouldn't blow away, using a pad of paper and a pen he had stuck in his pocket earlier that morning. The harvesting party from Atlantis was staying the night in Hawk's Flight, and Peter figured he could slip away some time later that evening and return to the orchard. It wasn't a long walk from the village, and he was relatively sure that he could make it undetected.

Of course, it all depended on whether or not the person or people who had been on the hill had seen him place the note, would read it, and then meet him here at the appointed time. Peter filled his basket the rest of the way and went to deliver his current load of fruit to the beat-up truck they were using to transport the fresh-grown food back to Hawk's Flight, leaving the note behind. He didn't return to that specific area of the orchard, not wanting to scare off whoever it was, and hoped that he wasn't making an irreversible mistake in contacting them.

Will and Henry watched one of the harvesters below pause in his work and slowly look around, a frown forming on his face.

'What's up with him?' Henry asked, keeping his voice low so that it wouldn't carry. 'He can't see us, can he?'

'I don't think so.' Will murmured. 'But I suppose we can- now what is he doing?'

'I think he's leaving a note.'

'That's weird.'

'Yeah. We should probably see what it says once everyone's gone.' Henry said. Will nodded, and the two men sat back and waited. It took some time for the gatherers down below to leave; they were making multiple trips to and from the far side of the orchard, refilling their baskets with each trip back and forth. Once they'd been gone for a while, though, Henry and Will made their way down the slope, quickly grabbing the few apples left on the flat stone and the note, and then returning to their campsite of the previous night.

When they made it back and settled in, Will took the note out of his pocket and opened it. He scanned it and then handed it to Henry. The note was short and to the point.

Meet me where you found this note. No weapons. I'll know if you have them. 2130.

'Are we actually going to go meet this guy? For all we know, he could be working for the Wraith.' Henry asked, looking up from the note. Will shrugged, running a hand over his face.

'I think we're going to have to take that risk, unfortunately.' He said. 'From the way he looked, though, I got the feeling that he was a hell of a lot healthier than anyone under the Wraith's rule. They're not exactly known for keeping everyone in top shape, and from what I could see, every one of those people looked healthy and whole.'

'True,' Henry conceded. 'So, we're going to meet him, then?'

'Looks like.'

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Friends

Date: August 19, A.I. 7 [2007](night)

Location: Orchard, Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado

Henry and Will waited in the trees on the border of the small wood, watching for the man who had left the note. The moon was just beginning its descent when Henry spotted movement at the far side of the orchard.

'Hey, look.' He said, tapping Will on the shoulder to get his attention. 'There's someone down there, coming towards us.'

'Yeah, I see them. Let's go.'

They left their posts and headed cautiously down the hill, not particularly enjoying the fact that the hillside was bathed in moonlight. When they reached the agreed upon rendezvous point, Henry took a seat on the stone where the note had been found and Will leaned against a nearby tree, crossing his arms over his chest and trying to look nonchalant. The figure moving towards them resolved itself into the form of a tall man, his hair pulled back into a ponytail. Moonlight glinted off of his steel-rimmed glasses as he drew to a halt a few feet away from Will and Henry.

'Well, I wasn't expecting to see you here, Foss.' He said dryly. 'I could've sworn I heard that you died in South America.'

'And here I thought you'd died in L.A., Peter.'

'Looks like we were both wrong.'

Will looked from Henry to the man and then back again. 'Anyone care to tell me what's going on? Who is this guy?'

'Doctor Peter Kavanagh.' Peter said, holding out a hand. 'I used to work for the same company as he did, though for a different branch in Los Angeles.'

'Doctor Will Zimmerman,' Will said, shaking Peter's hand briskly before letting go. 'You know, I don't think I've ever heard of the Sanctuary Network being described as a company before, though I guess that's a pretty good comparison.'

Peter looked mildly startled. 'You worked for Doctor Magnus?'

'Yep. Out of curiosity, how did you know we were in the woods?' Will asked.

'I can answer that one.' Henry said. 'Peter here is an empath. Passive only, though, so you don't need to worry about him messing with your emotions or anything.'

'Always good to know.'

'Where'd you guys come from, anyways?' Peter inquired. 'It's been a hell of a long time since I've seen anyone associated with the Sanctuary, and I assumed most everyone was dead. It's good to see that I was wrong.'

'Yeah, about that. We've been travelling for a while.' Henry replied. 'We've been out of contact for some time now.'

'And what are you doing out here? There's not much out here besides trees and birds.'

'We could ask the same question about you.'

'Ah. Well…' Peter rubbed idly at the back of his neck. 'I live out here, actually. Um, quick question, though, since while I can probably vouch for you, Henry, I'm not too sure about you, Doctor Zimmerman: Are you allied with the Wraith? 'Cause there's no way in hell I'm going to tell you where I live without knowing where your allegiance lies.'

'How would you know what I tell you is the truth?' Will asked. 'And for the record, no, I'm not allied with the Wraith. Neither is Henry.'

'I know that now. I can See that you're telling the truth.'

'Wait, what? You believe me just like that?' Will was confused.

'As I said, I can See that you're telling the truth. It's another gift of mine.' Peter said. 'I can tell if you're lying or not.'

'Really? That's interesting.'

'Not really.' Peter sighed. 'Look, I can't stay much longer; if you want to come with me to the village you're more than welcome to, but you'll probably be locked up since it's night time. I'd wait until morning and then come into town. They're generally a little more receptive to strangers when it's daylight.'

'Well, that's good to know.' Henry said. 'They don't know about Abnormals, though, do they?'

'There're a couple near-human Abnormals in town and who're able to blend in, but on the whole, no, the general public still doesn't know about the existence of Abnormals.' Peter told them. 'I'm going to head back now; hopefully, I'll see you two in the morning.'

'Yeah, we'll be there.'

'Good. Sleep well, and take care of yourselves.' With that, Peter turned and left, making his way back through the orchard and then out of sight. Will and Henry watched him go, and then Will turned to his friend.

'Think we can trust him?'

Henry nodded vaguely, getting up from his seat as he did so. 'Yeah, I think we can. I've worked with him before, back at the Sanctuary, and he's always been a trustworthy guy. A little antisocial at times, but otherwise a good guy, and one you want to have on your side when the walls start to come crashing down.'

'Hmm.' Will started back up the hill, Henry following behind him after a beat or two. They made their way back into the woods, choosing a new spot for the night's camp and settling in, wondering what the morning would bring, and whether or not this chance meeting with an old friend would bear any good fruit.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Meeting

Date: August 20, A.I. 7 [2007]

Location: Hawk's Flight Village, Colorado

'Wait a minute, Kavanagh says he knows these guys?' Rodney asked, staring at Robert Hayes, the mayor of Hawk's Flight. 'And that he can vouch for them? How? And when did they get here?'

'They turned up at around ten this morning, Doctor McKay,' Hayes said, sighing softly. 'And yes, Doctor Kavanagh says that he knows with absolute certainty that neither Mister Foss or Doctor Zimmerman are allied in any way with the Wraith.'

'Really.' Rodney said flatly, drumming his fingers against the table at which he and the mayor sat. 'We'll see about that. Where are they now?'

'In the holding cells. We thought it best to house them there until you could be contacted and informed of their arrival.'

'Good idea.' John remarked, getting up from his seat next to the kitchen window. 'We're going to have to talk with these two, see what they know, and if they'd be of any use to us, either here or elsewhere.'

'Yeah, well, according to Kavanagh, Zimmerman's a psychiatrist and Foss is a computer tech.' Rodney said, rising to his feet. 'We could use both, but Foss more at the moment than Zimmerman.'

'Let's see what they're like first before we go deciding their futures, Rodney.' John said patiently. 'That's if they even want to stay here with us. For all we know, they were just passing through.'

'And what, Kavanagh just happened to meet them?' Rodney snorted. 'That's suspicious, if you ask me.'

'You think Kavanagh knew they were coming?'

'I don't know. Maybe.' Rodney said, pushing the door of the small cottage open and stepping outside, John right behind him. They made their way towards the holding cells, which were actually a group of small hut-like structures set a few hundred yards from the main village square. The buildings were large enough to comfortably fit three people inside at a time, but for safety measures, the two newcomers had been put in separate cells. A guard stood outside the door to each cell, keeping watch with a zat gun close at hand. When John and Rodney approached the cell holding Will, the guard stepped aside after unlocking the door.

John nodded at him and then opened the door, his hand on the grip of his gun, ready to draw it if Will tried anything. Nothing happened when the door came to a stop, though, so John relaxed, if only just enough to present a calm exterior to the outside world, and especially to Will. Will looked up when John and Rodney entered; he had been idly playing a game of solitaire with a pack of cards he'd found in one of the drawers of the sole bedside dresser. He was on his fifth game so far, and at the moment wasn't winning.

'Hey,' he said, giving a short wave to Rodney and John. 'You here to question me?'

'Yeah, we are.' John replied. 'Don't worry; we're not going to give you any trouble if you don't do anything stupid.'

Will snorted softly. 'If I was going to do something stupid, I probably would've done it by now.' He told John. 'As it is, I wasn't planning on going out in such a particularly idiotic fashion, anyways. I'd rather go down in a blaze of glory against the Wraith, if given the choice.'

'Hmm. Well, be that as it may, we're here to find out just what you're doing and why you're here.' Rodney said, moving forwards.

'Couldn't that be considered to be the same question?' Will muttered, but paused in his card game and sat up straight. 'Alright, ask away.'

'Um, okay, then.' Rodney cleared his throat. 'Let's start off with some basics. What's your name?'

'Will Zimmerman, though I think you probably already knew that. Next question?'

'Where did you come from before you stopped here?' John asked.

'Old City. It's in Canada.' Will said, stretching gently. 'Of course, we left there about three months ago.'

'Why'd you come here?'

'See, now we're getting somewhere.' Will leaned back, supporting himself against the wall behind him. 'There've been rumors everywhere that we've been- camps, cities, whatever- that somewhere in Colorado is a safe place that the Wraith don't dare go near. Now, all the stories pretty much agree on that; what they don't say is where, exactly, this safe place is, or what it's called.'

'So, you basically left your home on the basis that you might find something out of a campfire tale?' Rodney said incredulously. 'That's ridiculous.'

'Apparently not, though.' Will countered. 'I'd have to say that we've found at least something, if the fact that you're some of the healthiest and well-fed people I've seen for a long time is anything to go by. Most of the people living under the Wraith are worked 'til they're almost dead or they get just enough food to survive and little else. You, on the other hand, look like you get regular medical care and three square meals a day. You can't tell me that there's not something going on here.'

John and Rodney exchanged glances, John raising an eyebrow fractionally before speaking. 'Well, you've got us there, I guess.' He said slowly. 'What do you plan on doing about it?'

'Actually, I'd like to propose an alliance.' Will said, and judging by the looks on the other men's' faces, this wasn't what they'd been expecting him to say. 'See, Henry and I used to work for something called the Sanctuary Network. Without getting into too much detail at the moment, it was a world-wide organization that had access to resources not commonly found in the day-to-day world. Now, even though the Wraith have taken over, we've been slowly trying to rebuild the Network and get it somewhat operational again. It's been slow going, but we're getting there. Unfortunately, even with the resources available to us, we wouldn't be able to defeat the Wraith, not by a long stretch. However, rumor has it that the technology used by those who live in the so-called "Safe Zone" here in Colorado is more advanced than anything Earth has ever seen, before or after the Wraith.

'If we could somehow integrate the two, maybe we'd stand a fighting chance of winning this war. Of course, that all depends on whether or not you're the real deal, or if you're just lucky and have access to medicine and doctors.' Will paused, letting his words sink in, and then continued on. 'There are other elements to the Sanctuary Network, but I'd rather not go into those details until I can talk with your leaders. What do you say?'

'We're going to have to think about it; after all, you've just told us some very interesting stuff, and it's going to take some time to process it all. Let us go and talk with our superiors, and then maybe we can see whether or not we can make a deal. That sound alright?' John asked, nudging Rodney gently when it looked as if the scientist was about to make a protest.

'Sure. I take it Henry and I can't get out of these cells any time soon?' Will asked, waving a hand at his surroundings.

'Sorry, but no. Not until we feel sure that you're not some sort of spy from the Wraith or anything.' Rodney said shortly. 'Sheppard, let's go.'

John followed Rodney out of the hut, the guard shutting and locking the door once they'd left. Rodney walked towards the central grouping of dwellings, a frown tugging the corners of his mouth downwards.

'Something on your mind, McKay?' John asked, lengthening his strides to keep up with Rodney. Even though McKay was a few inches shorter than John, he could still move at a pretty brisk pace when he wanted to, and John had to compensate for that fact.

'I want to talk to Kavanagh, see how he knows these two.' Rodney said. 'I don't buy the fact that they were just wandering around, looking for some "Safe Zone" that they'd only heard of from campfire myths. I mean, what sort of sane person does that?'

'Someone who wants to get away from the Wraith?' John suggested. 'I don't know, Rodney; I mean, if you thought that there was some safe place away from the Wraith, wouldn't you want to go looking for it, even if it was just a myth?'

'But it's not a myth.'

John sighed. 'I know, I know. But they don't. And hey, maybe Zimmerman's telling the truth. Maybe we'll be able to get some cool tech out of it.'

'We live in a city filled with "cool tech", and you want more? And here I thought I was the tech hound.' Rodney said, laughing.

John grinned, unable to keep himself from doing so. It was good to hear Rodney laugh. It was all too rare to be able to do so, and John would take any instance of it occurring, even if it was only for a brief moment.

End Part One

Chapter Text

Part Two: Sanctuary For All

Chapter One: Network

Date: August 28, 7 A.I. [2007]

Location: Old City Sanctuary, Old City, B.C., Canada

Nikola sighed, one hand rubbing at his temple while the other was paused in mid-air, holding a whiteboard marker in its slender fingers. He contemplated the board in front of him, the complex mathematical symbols marked out in solid black ink against the stark white of the surface he'd written them on. The conclusion of the equation eluded him at the moment, so he decided to take a step back and take a break. Perhaps the forced interruption would prove to be the catalyst he needed to complete his current work.

Nikola set down the marker on a nearby table, putting the cap back on the felt-tipped end with a sharp pop as the lid snapped back into place, and then letting it rest on the gently scarred and pitted surface of the wooden table. He ran his fingers over the tabletop, idly tracing the whorls and patterns of the wood grain before stepping away and retrieving the ever-present bottle of wine he habitually kept near him as he worked and the appropriate glass from which to drink. Opening the wine bottle, Nikola poured a measure of the liquid contained within into the glass and then recorked the bottle, setting it carefully down before taking a small sip of his wine.

The bittersweet tang of the drink rolled across his tongue as he idly examined the whiteboard, his blue eyes tracing over each symbol and integer written upon it. After a few moments' contemplation, Nikola put down his wine and went back to work, setting off into the wondrous world of mathematics once more. He emerged after what seemed like a short time to him, but a glance at a nearby clock proved that he'd been absorbed in his work for a solid three hours. Nikola blinked, only just now feeling his body's demands that he eat something and use the restroom. He took care of the latter, washing his hands in the basin located there, idly staring at the mirror as he did so.

When he finished his ablutions, Nikola headed towards the pantry, not quite sure what he was going to eat. He never reach his intended destination, however, because the Big Guy stopped him as he passed through the main foyer on his way to the kitchen.

'You've got a conference call in ten minutes.' He said, one hand nearly engulfing Nikola's left shoulder. Nikola sighed.

'Damn. I'd forgotten. Thanks for reminding me.' Nikola made his way towards the main staircase, taking the stairs two at a time. He skidded to a halt outside of what used to be Helen's office, tugged the wrinkles out of his shirt, and then entered the office, attempting to project a calm and collected air. As if on cue, five of the seven computer monitors set on the tables arranged within the office turned on, each displaying the face of a Sanctuary leader over a highly secure connection that the Wraith couldn't detect. Nikola stepped into view of the monitors and their respective cameras, making sure he could be seen from each vantage point as he did so.

'Welcome,' he said, smiling slightly. 'Thank you for joining me today. I called this meeting because I've recently received some rather exciting news. As you know, Will Zimmerman and Henry Foss set out in June to go on what appeared to be a wild goose chase in Colorado, but it's actually borne some very interesting fruit. They met up with one of our associates from the L.A. Sanctuary, Doctor Peter Kavanagh, while in the middle of what used to be called the Rio Grande National Forest, according to our maps. Now, for the past six years, Doctor Kavanagh has been living there, though he was initially reticent to talk about where, exactly, he lived. I think you'll find it very interesting indeed when I tell you about it.'

'Then do so, Doctor Tesla,' Señora Sofia Huertas, the leader of the Mexico City Sanctuary, said briskly. 'Not all of us are gifted with as long a lifespan as you.'

Nikola chuckled softly, but shrugged. 'Very well. Doctor Kavanagh lives in Atlantis.'

There was silence for a few seconds, as everyone processed what Nikola had said, and then a babble broke out, voices overlapping one another.

'What do you mean, "Atlantis"?'

'Is he insane?'

'How can you be sure?'

Nikola held up a hand. 'Please, calm down.' He said, his voice stern. 'Will and Henry have been there. Have any of you heard of the Ancients?'

'Which ones?' Doctor Michael Roberts, the head of the Sydney Sanctuary, asked dryly. ''Cause there're quite a few "Ancients" out there.'

'I have.'

Nikola turned in surprise to look at the monitor displaying the leader of the Denver Sanctuary, Doctor Adele Tobin, who bit her lip gently at the scrutiny but continued on.

'Back in '97, before I started working here at the Sanctuary, I worked at Cheyenne Mountain.' She said, fidgeting slightly in her chair. 'I was an physicist there, working with what at the time was classified as Deep Space Telemetry. That was a cover story, of course; hell, most of the folks at NORAD had no idea what we were doing several stories below them.'

'And that was?' Roberts asked impatiently.

'Going to other planets, actually.' Tobin said without a trace of irony. 'There's this device called the Stargate, or Chappa'ai, as the Tok'ra prefer to call it, that allows instantaneous travel via a stable wormhole to a connecting Stargate on another planet, and the SGC- Stargate Command- ran it. I'm not sure if they're still around, though. The Ancients are the ones who built the 'Gate network, so it's not hard for me to believe that they had a hand in building the lost city of Atlantis.'

'Only, it's not so lost, now is it?' Nikola said with a quick grin. 'The leaders of Atlantis and the SGC- Yes, it's still active; apparently, it has been for the past ten years- are going to be joining with us on a conference call much like this one in a few days. They've agreed to hear our terms of alliance, and hopefully, we can convince them that working with us is going to be the best thing in the long run for all of us. If we can make this work, maybe we'll be able to take back our planet.'

Silence followed his comments, and then Huertas spoke, carefully choosing her words. 'And if they do not choose to join us?'

Nikola shrugged. 'Then we've simply been made aware of one another, and have a chance to be potential allies in the future. I'd prefer, of course, that they do join us; there're a few near-human Abnormals on Atlantis and in one of the villages allied with them that I'd like to speak with, Doctor Kavanagh included. If I remember right, his and his wife's talents proved to be quite a boon to us in the area of negotiations and whatnot when the Network was active. Does anyone know if Sasha Kavanagh survived the Los Angeles attack?'

'I'd have to check my records, of course, to be sure,' Tobin said thoughtfully, 'But we did get a small group of people from L.A. a few years back; I'm not sure if she was among them, but most of them are still here.'

'Good. Please check; I'm sure that he'd be overjoyed if his wife were alive, and we could certainly use their talents at the negotiations.' Nikola replied, smiling once more. 'Now, the conference call is set for three days from now; there'll be representatives from the SGC and Atlantis, if I remember right. Draw up a list of questions and proposals to discuss, if you would. I'll be doing the same, of course. I'll talk to you all soon. Tesla out.'

Nikola terminated the link, using his control over electricity to turn the monitors and cameras off. He sighed, running his hands through his already mussed hair in thought.

'Well, that went better than I expected.' He said to the empty room. ' Right, then. Time to get lunch.'

He left the room, turning off the light and shutting the door behind him.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Conversations

Date: August 31, 7 A.I. [2007]

Location: Old City Sanctuary, Old City, B.C., Canada

Three days later, Nikola was back in the office-cum-conference room, waiting patiently for the discussion to start. He had contacted Will and Henry, requesting that Peter be present at the Atlantis end of the conference. Doctor Tobin had called the previous day with some news that Nikola thought Peter might want to hear, and could barely keep himself from wanting to give away the surprise as it was. He composed himself when the monitors- all of them, this time- flicked on, announcing the beginning of the meeting.

'Hello again,' he said. 'And welcome to our guests.' He nodded to the Atlantis and SGC monitors, where various key personnel watched him with vague suspicion and wariness. 'I'll introduce myself for those of you who don't know me. I'm Nikola Tesla.'

'Wait, what?' Rodney asked, right about the same time that Sam went 'Tesla? You mean the Nikola Tesla?'

'Yes, "the" Nikola Tesla.' Nikola said, amused at the two astrophysicists'' reactions. 'It's a long story, which undoubtedly you will hear one day. Suffice to say, the reports of my death were false. Now that we've got that out of the way, shall we begin?'

'Of course.'

Nikola blinked, and then realized that it must be Rodney's symbiote, Teshryn, who was speaking. Will and Henry had mentioned the fact that both of the lead scientists were Tok'ra, but Nikola hadn't been expecting the symbiotes to speak. Though why he'd thought this, he wasn't sure. After all, from the reports, both symbiotes seemed to switch off with their hosts quite often, sometimes in mid-conversation at that.

'Fantastic.' Nikola replied, recovering his composure with ease. 'Now, the entire point of this little chit-chat is to get to know one another better, in hopes that an alliance can be forged against the Wraith. Both groups have technologies that the other would benefit greatly from, but think about what we could do if we combined our resources and worked as one large team. We've got about ten or so of the Sanctuaries back up and running, with hopes for more in the near future; the ones represented here today- Denver, Nairobi, Mexico City, Sydney, Prague, and Old City- are the main centers for the continents or countries they reside in. Some, before the war, were auxiliary Sanctuaries, but that doesn't matter at the moment. What matters is that we're still fighting, just as you are, and gathering as much information about the Wraith as we can.'

'Just what technologies are you planning on offering us, exactly?' Teshryn asked, crossing his arms over his chest. 'If it's useless, then an alliance is no good to us, no matter how many of these so-called Sanctuaries you have operational. And what is it, exactly, that you do there, anyways? Foss and Zimmerman said that you solve exotic problems, but didn't give us much more than that. I think an explanation is in order before we even begin to talk about negotiations and alliances.'

'Hmm. Very well. I open the floor to the question. Who would like to explain to Doctor McKay what it is, exactly, that we do here at the Sanctuaries?' Nikola said, waving an encompassing hand at the monitors arranged in front of him.

'I'll do it.' Nikola saw McKay and his companions turn around as Peter came into range of the camera. Peter gave a terse nod at the monitor on his end and then began to speak once more. 'The Sanctuary Network was founded by Doctor Gregory Magnus over a hundred years ago to study a group of beings that has always co-existed with the Tok'ra and human races; this race, if you can call such a diverse collection of beings that, was named the Abnormals. The Sanctuary Network was also created to help protect both the Abnormals and the baseline humans and Tok'ra, both from one another and from themselves. Not all of the Abnormals are friendly; some are very dangerous indeed. Doctor Helen Magnus, Gregory's daughter, took over the Sanctuary Network when he disappeared on a mission. She, like Doctor Tesla here, had an extended lifespan, and worked tirelessly to better understand the world of the Abnormals.

'Doctor Magnus disappeared during the First Wave, and we haven't heard from her since. I personally like to think she escaped from the Wraith and is in hiding, but since there's no evidence to prove that, it'll have to remain a hope for now. Anyways, the Sanctuary Network is world-wide, as you can see from the various nations represented at this meeting. Before I came to Atlantis, I used to work for the Los Angeles Sanctuary. That was before it was destroyed in the First Wave. I was in Denver at the time of the attacks, on temporary reassignment, but that's not really that important. What is important is that I think that an alliance is probably one of the smartest things to do right now, especially with the expertise that we can all share with one another. Hoarding information that could be applied towards finding a way to conquer the Wraith once and for all is, quite frankly, suicidal.'

Rodney, John, and Elizabeth, who were the three chosen as the Atlantis contingent, stared silently at Peter, until Rodney broke the silence. 'You're saying you worked for these guys?' he asked, frowning. 'Why the hell didn't you tell us before? And are you one of these Abnormals?'

Peter shrugged. 'Hey, for all I knew at the time we met, there wasn't anyone left in the Sanctuary Network. After Doctor Magnus was taken, the other Sanctuaries were hit pretty hard. Denver not as much as say, New York or London, but still, it was pretty bad. We were focusing mostly on survival then, anyways. And as for your second question, that's not important.'

'Not important? Not important?' Rodney spluttered, his eyes widening. 'Of course it's important!'

'The existence of the Sanctuary Network has always been kept secret, Doctor McKay.' Doctor Roberts said, raising an eyebrow. 'The very nature of its work demanded that fact. Oh, the governments of the countries that hosted the Sanctuaries knew of us, but rather like the Stargate Program, only those who needed to know about our operations did, and were sworn to secrecy. And it doesn't matter whether Doctor Kavanagh is an Abnormal or not; all that matters is that he is, in a sense, a liaison between our two groups.'

'It makes sense, McKay.' Jack piped up. 'Not everyone wants to know that there are things out there that aren't human or Tok'ra.'

'Unfortunately, with the Wraith attacking, that illusion was shattered.' Nikola said, shaking his head. 'As it stands, the very fact that neither the SGC, Atlantis, or the Sanctuary Network have been discovered by the Wraith speaks to the strength and tenacity of those entrusted in keeping them hidden. Let's put this topic to bed; I'm sure we've got plenty of things to talk about, and we don't have much time to do it in. These transmissions are encoded and shielded heavily, but that doesn't mean that the Wraith can't detect them. We need to come to a compromise, if possible, and soon. I realize that even though we're working towards the same goal, trust won't automatically happen.

'However, if we can't at least extend a sort of preliminary amount of trust, we'll never be able to work together, and therefore defeat the Wraith. I propose that we at least try to work out something that will benefit us all. If absolutely necessary, we can draw up some sort of contract. But I will not stand and watch the Wraith continue to subjugate our planet when we can work together and defeat them. Now, we've got all sorts of resources at our disposal, and not just building supplies, either. Our three groups hold a great wealth of knowledge; most likely, we've got the highest concentration of geniuses in the known world, no matter how hard the Wraith tried to eradicate us in the beginning. If we put that to good use, I'm sure we can come up with something. Hell, if I could, I'd build a death ray and kill every last Wraith in the solar system. But I can't. We also need to make sure that we have a planet left to live on if we do defeat the Wraith. It would be pointless if we sacrificed everything and then had to live on a barren rock or move to another planet. No, we need to figure out something that'll affect the Wraith, and only the Wraith.'

Nikola sighed, one hand rubbing at a temple. 'For right now, I want everyone to start working on possible solutions, and the next time we meet as a group, I would like to hear them. If there's already a project in the works, please let us know. We can't work together if we hold back from one another. Are there any questions?'

'Not right now, but I'm sure we're going to have plenty of them to talk about next time.' General Hammond said, speaking for the first time in the entire session. 'For now, though, we're going to have to discuss what we've talked about.'

'As are we.' Elizabeth agreed. 'Not everyone will be happy about this; there are those who think that we should just stay where we are and ignore the Wraith, or even abandon Earth entirely by going through the Stargate. I personally don't agree with them, but everyone's entitled to their own opinions.'

'Of course.' Nikola said, nodding. 'Well, we'll come back together as a whole in two weeks for a progress report. Ah. Doctor Kavanagh, can I ask that you stay connected for a little while longer? There's something I need to discuss with you personally. You as well, Doctor Tobin.'

Tobin nodded, trying to hide a smile, while Peter looked mildly surprised. 'Of course,' Peter replied.

'Good. The rest of you, thank you for attending. I'll see you in two weeks.' Nikola watched as all but two screens went dark, and then waited until John, Rodney, and Elizabeth left the room they had been occupying. Peter shut and locked the door behind them, and then returned to the monitor, taking a seat in front of it.

'Okay, what's going on, Doctor Tesla?' he asked, raising an eyebrow. 'If you're going to ask me to spy on them, I'm going to say no and-'

Nikola raised a hand, stopping Peter midsentence. 'Calm down, Doctor. I'm not about to ask you to compromise your beliefs like that. Actually, I've got a surprise for you that I think you'll like. Adele here helped me find it for you; we both hope that you'll be pleased with it. Adele?'

Adele nodded once more and then got up from her seat. The two men watched her go, Peter wondering what the hell was going on. They sat in silence for a few minutes until the sound of a door opening and closing caught their attention. Peter sat up as the slender figure of a woman came into view, his eyes widening dramatically when he realized just who was on the other side of the transmission.

'Sasha?' he breathed, going pale. Nikola smiled slightly as he terminated the Old City connection, allowing the two reunited spouses to speak privately with one another. Well, this day just kept getting better and better, didn't it?

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Weapon

Date: October 13, 7 A.I. [2007]

Location: Old City Sanctuary, Old City, B.C., Canada

Nikola stretched, bringing his arms over his head and extending them as far up as he could. He had just come out of a two hour meeting with the Tau'ri Alliance, which was what the newly formed association of the SGC, Atlantis, and the Sanctuary Network was called, and felt exhausted. The new allies were carefully testing out the waters that they now shared, cautiously revealing the progress they had made, and the projects they were working on. The SGC and Atlantis had already been working on a joint project they'd codenamed Phoenix, and were being reticent about sharing information. So far, all that Nikola had learned was that it had been in progress for at least six years, and was actually being worked on off-world. The Lantean portion of the project was being led by McKay's second-in-command, Doctor Radek Zelenka, and his Tok'ra wife, Doctor Jess Connor.

Apparently, the Lantean scientists were helping in making great strides with the project, as they assisted in integrating more and more Ancient technology into whatever the end result of Phoenix was. Nikola had the feeling that the Sanctuary Network would find out soon, or at least, that's what he hoped. At least they were being told something about Phoenix; the others could've simply kept it from the Sanctuary Network altogether, but they didn't, which made Nikola feel somewhat good about the progress they were making in trusting one another.

Another good thing that had come out of the alliance was the fact that there had been a few more unexpected reunions; Sam's father, for one, had been given refuge at the Mexico City Sanctuary a few months prior to the Alliance forming, and he and his Tok'ra symbiote, Selmak, were now safely at the SGC, and a few others had been reunited with their loved ones as well. The last Nikola had heard from Peter, Sasha had been picked up from Denver and was now living happily in Atlantis. The news that Peter was married had been a great surprise to his fellow Lanteans, as was the effect that Sasha had on him. Now that Peter wasn't constantly picking up an almost unbroken stream of emotions from the people surrounding him, he was much more like the warm and personable man Nikola remembered from the few meetings he'd had with him before the Wraith attacked Earth.

Nikola sighed and made his way towards his room, wanting nothing more to lie down and clear his head of the business of the day. He made it to his room without incident, half-expecting the Big Guy or one of the other Sanctuary personnel to meet him on the way there with something that would take up the rest of his evening. Nikola preferred to set a little time apart each evening for relaxation, because even though he technically didn't need to sleep, what with being half-vampire and all, it still drained away the stress and fatigue poisons that threatened to overwhelm him if he went too long without at the very least laying down on a bed in a darkened room. After shutting and locking the door behind him- the others knew to at least knock if they needed him, Nikola lay down on the bed fully clothed, not even bothering to take his shoes off before idly shutting off the lone bedside lamp with a brush of his fingers. Moonlight spilled into the room through the half-open curtains, and Nikola lazily watched the shadows play as clouds moved across the full moon outside.

Eventually, Nikola fell into a light doze, the closest he ever got to true sleep these days, and let his weariness flow away from him, his body slowly regaining its energy. Four hours later, Nikola was roused from his nap, his body tensing as he bolted upright and instinctually shifting to what Will and Henry had jokingly called "Vampire Mode".

'Doctor Tesla?'

Nikola relaxed, forcing the adrenaline to fade as he let his features change back to their normal physiology. It was Anya Faulkner, one of the non-Abnormal employees of the Old City Sanctuary. Anya had been a veterinarian back before the Wraith came, and she now used those skills to help take care of the more animalistic Abnormals who resided at the Sanctuary.

'Yes, Anya?' Nikola replied after clearing his throat. 'I was resting.'

'I know, and I'm sorry, but you're needed downstairs.' Anya said, sounding apologetic. 'Tucker 'n' Tyler said they need to talk to you.'

Tucker 'n' Tyler was the (literally) two-faced man that had been there for as long as Nikola could remember; they'd been hiding out in the Sanctuary with the Big Guy when Will, Henry, and Nikola had arrived almost four months ago. God, had it really been that short of a time? Things were moving so fast now, ever since Will and Henry had come across Peter in that orchard. Nikola shook his head, not bothering to turn the light on as he crossed the room and unlocked the door; the moonlight coming in through the window was more than enough to see by.

Anya stood outside, not at all surprised to see that the lights hadn't been turned on. Nikola was well known for his odd habits, and the Sanctuary staff had had plenty of time to get used to them. Nikola idly straightened out his mildly mussed clothes as he followed Anya downstairs, wondering what Tucker 'n' Tyler needed to talk to him about. He was relatively sure it was something important; the two-faced man knew not to bother him when he was resting unless absolutely necessary, so this should be good. The last that Nikola knew, Tucker 'n' Tyler had been working on a weapon that could be what they needed to at least have better success in close range fights with the Wraith. The gun was an updated model of the sonic stunner that was supposed to do serious harm only to the Wraith, and Nikola was interested to see what they'd come up with. Whatever it was, it probably was worth it. Besides, Nikola felt fine. It wasn't as if he was going to collapse or anything simply because he didn't get the full six hours of rest he usually tried to achieve.

'Did they say why they needed me?' Nikola asked Anya as they descended the staircase and made it to the main floor.

'No, they didn't, but they said it was important.' Anya shrugged. 'They were arguing about power supplies when I left.'

Nikola rolled his eyes. Tucker 'n' Tyler was probably the only man who could get into an argument with himself and actually come out in a stalemate. The last time the two faces hadn't agreed with one another, Tucker (the more normal looking one) had worn a parka for a week, muffling Tyler's protests quite neatly while he continued working. That had been two months ago, and Nikola figured that they were probably due for another big blow-up at one another.

'Fantastic.' Nikola said dryly. 'Just what we need. They won't talk to one another for a week, again, and we won't get any productive work done.'

'Maybe, maybe not. Anyways, it sounds like they've stopped.' Anya said as they neared the main science lab.

'And yet, that scares me more than the arguing. Let's go assess the damage, shall we?'

Anya nodded, and the two entered the lab, Nikola wary for any projectiles that might come their way, just in case. Nothing happened, though, so they moved on, getting as close as they could to Tucker 'n' Tyler without spooking them.

'I hear you wanted to talk to me?' Nikola asked, getting the man's attention. Tucker focused on him, giving him a bright smile.

'Yes, we did.' He said, nodding briefly. 'Tyler and I think we've finally cracked the problem of how to get the power source to be the size we need.'

'Yeah, we did.' Tyler chimed in, sounding happy. Tucker obligingly turned around so that Tyler could see Nikola, who saw a rare sight indeed: Tyler smiling brightly. Usually Tyler had a very grumpy expression on his face, which Nikola suspected was a sort of default defense mechanism, so the smile was rather off-putting.

'That's fantastic. Can I see?'

'Sure, boss.' Tyler said as Tucker turned back around and pointed out the gun and the new power pack to Nikola, who examined it closely. They'd done a good job; this power cell was much more compact than the old one, and from what Nikola could tell, it was about twenty percent more efficient at energy storage and dispersal, which was a vast improvement on its previous incarnation. Then again, if he just tweaked it like that

The two men continued working, occasionally bouncing ideas off one another as they tested the weapon out on dummies and one time, on Nikola. He'd been a willing test subject, and he'd had sufficient protection, but as always, it felt like he'd stuck his head inside a huge metal bell and someone had rung it while he was still inside. Nikola tried to shake off the ringing in his ears as Tucker fiddled with the gun, taking a seat on a nearby chair.

'You ready to try again?' Tucker asked, his voice curiously muffled.

'What?' Nikola inquired, and saw by Tucker's wince that his voice was probably a wee bit too loud. 'Hang on; give me a second.'

He waited for his hearing to return to normal and then waved a hand at Tucker. 'Sorry about that,' he said, now that it didn't feel as if his ears were stuffed with cotton balls. 'What did you say?'

'I asked if you were ready to try it again.'

'Why don't we try it on you?'

Nikola grinned at the sight of Tucker's grimace and threw him the padded helmet. He was so going to enjoy this.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Updates

Date: October 14, 7 A.I. [2007]

Location: Denver Sanctuary, Denver, Colorado

The air shimmered and flashed gold for an instant, and then resolved into two figures, one with a hand on the shoulder of the other. The two new arrivals to the Denver Sanctuary quickly hurried over to one of the hidden entrances in the fortified wall surrounding the Sanctuary. One of them, a stocky woman with jet black hair, pressed her hand against a certain brick, and then waited. After a few seconds, a quiet beep was heard, and a small section of the ground slid away, revealing a round hole that led deep underground. Once the two had entered the passageway, the concealing door slid shut, leaving no indication that anything had happened.

Nikola climbed down after his guide, feeling an odd sense of déjà vu, and he knew why. The teleportation had reminded him of John Druitt, though John had a certain flair to his travel that Nikola had never encountered before or since. Unfortunately, John had disappeared early in the invasion, teleporting onto one of the Wraith Hive Ships with a bomb and detonating it, disintegrating the Hive Ship almost entirely. He hadn't been seen after, and Nikola could only assume that he was dead, leaving only the half-vampire as the sole member of the original Five. Even though Nikola and John had been mildly antagonistic towards one another even while they were a part of the Five, Nikola had always respected John, though there had been some major strife between them during the period that John had gone insane and torn through Whitechapel as Jack the Ripper, and now missed bantering with him greatly.

When Nikola and his guide, Sarah Northman, reached the bottom of the vertical shaft they made their way briskly down the concrete tunnel that ran underneath the lawns of the Denver Sanctuary. Adele was waiting for them in the small library on the second floor of the Sanctuary, accompanied by Will, Henry, and Peter, who had returned from Atlantis the previous day.

'Welcome to Denver, Doctor Tesla.' Adele said, giving Nikola a bright smile.

'We've been over this, Adele. Please call me Nikola. Besides, we've known each other for how long?' Nikola replied, shaking his head in amusement. 'Will, Henry, it's good to see you again. You as well, Doctor Kavanagh.'

'Please, call me Peter.' Peter said, extending a hand for Nikola to shake. Nikola shook it briskly and then stepped back.

'Well, now that we're all here, we can get to business.' He said. 'Now, you said that you had some news about Project Phoenix?'

'Yeah, we did.' Henry said, nodding. 'The SGC and Atlantis have finally decided to share what it is, exactly, that they're doing off-world.'

'Really? That's fantastic.' Nikola grinned. 'So, what's it all about?'

'Over the past seven years, the SGC has been trading for technologies from their off-world allies. Among other things, they've collected a rather impressive amount of ships confiscated from various enemies, including the Goa'uld.' Peter said, leaning against the bookcase behind him. 'Yeah, they still exist, though their numbers have been reduced thanks in part to in-fighting and in part to the SGC. We've managed to reverse-engineer some of their technology, as well as that of a few of our allies. Put that all together with the Ancient tech from Atlantis, and they've managed to complete the project.'

'And the final result?'

'Three battleships. The Odyssey, the Daedalus,and the Apollo.' Will said. 'They're the culmination of seven years of research and building. If we play our cards right, we might actually have a chance to win this war.'

'Good.' Nikola sighed, running a hand through his hair. 'How soon will we be able to move on the Wraith?'

'General Hammond and Doctor Weir are due to arrive here any minute,' Adele said. 'They want to meet with us to speak about the next phase of the plan.'

Nikola nodded. 'Very well. Let's get everything set up for the meeting, then.'

End Part Two

Chapter Text

Part Three: War Zone

Chapter One: Fleet

Date: October 16, 7 A.I. [2007]

Location: Phoenix Project, Beta Site, MJ4-329

Peter Grodin was helping Miko with finishing the preliminary diagnostics of the Daedalus' propulsion systems when Nikola, Sam, and Rodney came into the engine room, all talking rapidly with one another. Miko glanced up from her computer, a smile passing across her face as she watched the trio come to a halt, Rodney and Nikola debating about something she couldn't quite catch.

'Look who's finally decided to join us, Doctor Grodin.' She murmured amusedly.

Peter blinked and then turned his head. When he caught sight of the three newcomers, he shook his head gently. 'Ah, good.' He replied. 'I was wondering when they'd show up.'

He got to his feet, having been sitting on a chair in front of one of the main consoles, and wandered over to where Nikola, Rodney, and Sam were.

'Hello, Doctor O'Neill, Doctor McKay. It's good to see you again. How are things back home?' he asked after politely waiting to be noticed.

'They're good as can be,' Rodney replied, sounding distracted. 'How're things going here?'

'We're just about two-thirds of the way through the diagnostics for the sub-light engines, and then we're going to start on the hyperdrive.' Miko said as she rose to her feet. 'But I think we might take a short break in between, since we've been going at this for nearly six hours now.'

'That's probably a good idea,' Sam said. 'By the way, Miko, Peter, this is Doctor Tesla. He's one of the technical advisors for the Sanctuary Network, among other things, so we're giving him a tour of our fleet.'

'It's a pleasure to meet you, Doctor Tesla.' Miko said with a polite nod. 'If you need anything, please don't hesitate to ask.'

'Thanks.' Nikola nodded briefly, and then turned to Sam. 'Now that I've seen the what the Daedalus can offer, would it be possible to see some of the other ships you've managed to collect?'

'Sure.' Sam led Nikola out, Rodney staying behind to see what Miko and Peter's progress was so far. Once they'd left the Daedalus, Sam took Nikola to where the bulk of their fleet was. Over the years, they'd managed to collect fifteen Alkesh, seven Ha'taks, some Tel'taks and a few other smaller ships of various designs. Nikola was impressed with the amount of ships; even though the Wraith had Hive ships, the Ha'taks alone seemed like they would be able to do quite a lot of damage, not to mention the fact that they had been retrofitted to accommodate both Goa'uld gliders and F-302s alike, giving the fleet a much better chance against the Wraith Darts.

The three entirely Earth-made battleships were capable of holding F-302s as well, though there were far more gliders than F-302s, since the supplies needed for the construction of the F-302s were highly sought-after by others, and it was hard enough getting them as it was. Nikola ran a hand over one of the gliders that had been parked near an Alkesh, marveling at its design. It was sleek, far more pleasing to the eye than the sharp angles of the Wraith's Darts. He wanted to see its inner workings, but figured he'd be able to do so relatively soon.

'So, how long before this all is ready to move against the Wraith?' he asked Sam, looking up from his examination of the glider. 'It's an impressive sight, but I'm sure it'll be even more so in action.'

Sam shrugged. 'Well, we're just waiting on the last few tests for the Daedalus, but once that's done, we're going to have to draw up a battle plan. Getting everything coordinated on both land and in space is going to be tricky; we're going to have to hit the Continental Wraith Strongholds at the same time as the Hive ships in orbit in order to maximize the damage we can do.' She said, leading Nikola away from the glider and towards the small grouping of buildings at the center of the shipyard. 'Now, do you know how the Sanctuary Network is going to be assisting us in the attacks?'

Nikola nodded. 'From what we've seen, the Wraith tend to leave the Abnormals alone. No idea why; maybe it's something to do with how we taste.' He saw Sam smile and then continued on. 'Anyways, if we can get at least two Abnormals per strike team on Earth, I think we'll have a greater chance of actually getting this to work. There are so many talents out there, not to mention Abnormals who aren't near-humans. We've got some pretty dangerous allies, most of which the Sanctuaries would've probably either captured or neutralized before the time of the Wraith. It's kind of ironic, using one monster to defeat another, but it's also one of the most viable ideas we've got.' Nikola grinned. 'Let's just hope our monsters are the stronger of the two.'

'Yeah,' Sam said as they reached the command post. She led the way, opening the door and ushering Nikola within. The few personnel not out working on the ships looked up from their work when the two newcomers entered and then returned to their tasks, talking quietly among one another. Nikola saw a small group of people standing near a whiteboard, Radek Zelenka and Peter Kavanagh among them. One of the scientists, who Nikola didn't recognize, was arguing with Peter, who looked as if he would rather be anywhere other than where he was was. Nikola could sympathize; even though he wasn't a receiving empath like Peter, he could feel the beginnings of a headache starting to form even from just listening to the arguing man's voice. It was nasal and grating to the ears. Nikola walked over, quietly joining the people on the outskirts of the group.

'What's going on?' he asked in a low voice to the person standing nearest to him. The scientist didn't look away from the argument, but answered him in a distracted tone.

'Well, Doctor Whitcomb and Doctor Kavanagh got into it because Kavanagh said that Robert's equations were off, and Robert said that they weren't. It kind of went downhill from there.' She told him.

'Hmm. I see.' Nikola scanned the lines of equations, recognizing them as power distribution equations, most likely to be used on the warships, searching for anything that might be erroneous within them. A few items jumped out at him, so he stepped forwards, tapping Whitcomb on the shoulder. 'Excuse me?' he said, stepping back so that the other man wouldn't feel overcrowded.

Whitcomb turned around, and Nikola caught the thankful look on Peter's face before he refocused on the task at hand. 'What?' Whitcomb snapped, transferring his attention to Nikola.

'Your calculations are, indeed, off. The coefficients here, here and here-' Nikola pointed them out with a quick motion of one hand. 'Are wrong, and arguing about it is clearly pointless.'

'Really. And just who do you think you are, anyways?' Whitcomb scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

'Doctor Nikola Tesla, pro tem leader of the Old City Sanctuary and chief technical advisor for the Tau'ri Alliance. Pleasure to meet you.'

'Yeah, and he invented the radio.' Peter said dryly. 'I'd listen to him, even if you don't want to listen to me.'

Whitcomb blinked, startled. 'I get that reaction a lot.' Nikola said in amusement to Sam, who had been watching the short interchange with interest once she'd returned from talking with one of the supervisors of the Beta Site. She hadn't spoken, preferring to see what would happen, so long as it didn't turn violent. Given the high emotions in the room, that was entirely an option, but she didn't think it would get that far.

'Anyways, once you fix those, you should be able to continue on with your work.' Nikola told Whitcomb. 'To be fair, you weren't far off, but if you had tried to put these formulas into your programs, it probably would've overloaded and shorted out at the very least.'

'I- uh, thanks.' Whitcomb stuttered, and Nikola nodded, one side of his mouth quirking in a brief smile.

'Don't worry about it.' He said. 'Well, I'm taking up your time, as well as Doctor O'Neill's, so we should probably be moving on.'

'Yeah, you're probably right.' Sam said. 'Cam and Daniel are waiting for us at the 'Gate, and we're a little behind schedule as it is.'

'Then by all means, let's go. Peter, it was nice seeing you again. I'm sure you and Sasha are doing well.' Nikola commented as he passed by his fellow Abnormal, who looked far more relaxed now that the tension and anger that had been thick in the air previously had dissolved.

'Yes, we are. Thanks for asking.' Peter said with a grin. 'She's on Atlantis at the moment, safe and sound. She's working with Doctor Heightmeyer as a psychologist again.'

'Good, good. Well, I've got to run. Say hi to her for me.'

'Sure.'

Nikola hurried after Sam, catching up with her after a few hundred feet. They continued on, making their way towards the Gate where Cam and Daniel were to meet them, Nikola feeling far more confident then he had in a while. After over seven years of oppression and hiding from the Wraith, it looked the peoples of Earth might actually have a fighting chance to free their home once and for all.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Reconnaissance

Date: January 27, 8 A.I. [2008]

Location: Outer Space, Sol System

A cloaked Tel'tak waited by the dark side of Earth's moon, observing the movements of the Wraith fleet while staying out of range of the Wraith sensors. Its occupants had come out of hyperspace on the far side of the solar system, cloaking as soon as they'd reappeared in normal space near Pluto. It was being piloted by Teal'c, and the rest of SG-1 were there as well. Jolinar was sitting up front with Teal'c, while Daniel and Cam were in the back, idly playing a game of cards.

'Anything yet?' Cam asked, looking up from the game of poker he was currently losing against Daniel. They were playing for the near-chocolate from M3J-241, which had become quite the commodity over the past year at both the SGC and in Atlantis. Jolinar turned in her seat, breaking off from an internal discussion with Sam as she did so; Cam saw her gaze snap back into focus as she opened her mouth to speak.

'Not yet, unfortunately.' Jolinar said, shaking her head. 'They've remained stationary.'

'And we've got how long until we switch off with SG-13?'

'Three hours, Colonel Mitchell.' Teal'c replied, keeping his gaze focused towards the ships. 'I do not believe that…'

Teal'c trailed off, leaning forwards. Cam got to his feet, Daniel following after him. 'What's going on?' Cam asked, coming to a halt behind Teal'c's chair.

'The Wraith look like they're moving.' Daniel murmured.

'Yeah, they do.' Sam said, coming to the fore. 'I wonder why.'

'Looks like we're going to find out real soon.'

The premiere Gate team watched two of the five Hive Ships slowly move away from the stationary orbital position they'd been in since the initial invasion. They flew past the moon and into the void between Mars and Earth, where, to SG-1's astonishment, they began firing on one another.

'What the hell?' Cam was in shock. The Wraith didn't just fire on one another. Sure, they had their disagreements, and it wasn't uncommon for a Wraith to fight another over a particularly prime food source, but he'd never heard of two Hive Ships going at one another like cats and dogs.

Teal'c maneuvered the cloaked Tel'tak closer to the battle, keeping well out of range of the Wraith's sensors, endeavoring to better see what was going on. The two Wraith ships kept firing at one another, trading blows back and forth. Eventually, one gained supremacy over the other and struck a critical blow, wounding the other ship greatly. A squadron of Darts continued the attack, making sure that their enemy was completely destroyed. The Dart battle continued as SG-1 watched, various Darts exploding or crashing into one another in kamikaze runs.

'Well, now what?' Daniel asked. 'Not that, you know, I'm not enjoying seeing the Wraith blow one another up and everything, but we've got to at least report this back to the SGC.'

'Which necessitates us leaving our post in order to get to a point where the Wraith won't detect our hyperspace window.' Teal'c replied.

'Well, for right now, I suggest we stay put,' Sam said. 'We might be able to gather some more intel on what's going on.'

'Good idea.'

Teal'c returned the ship to its previous position, deftly maneuvering it back into the shadow of the Moon. The wounded Hive Ship limped back into its customary orbit, listing gently to one side as it did so. Scores of Darts swarmed around it, protecting it from any other attack as it stabilized itself.

'Think we've seen enough?'

'Perhaps. None of the other Hive Ships seem to be attacking it, even though it'd be an easy victory.' Jolinar said, coming to the fore. 'We should probably return and report what we've seen.'

'Alright, let's go.' Cam said, slapping the back of Teal'c's chair.

SG-1 sat in the briefing room of the SGC, having just got back from the Beta Site, where they'd handed off the Tel'tak they had used for scouting out the Wraith's movements to SG-13. General Hammond was currently speaking with Doctor Weir over a Goa'uld communication stone, but soon concluded his conversation and exited his office.

'Alright, let's begin.' He said, taking his customary seat at the head of the table.

'Well, sir, about three hours before SG-13 was due to relieve us, two of the Wraith Hive Ships broke orbit and then started fighting one another.' Sam said, folding her hands on top of the table. 'When one lost, the other Hive returned to orbit. The odd thing is, none of the other Hive Ships attacked it, even when they had ample chance to.'

'That is strange.' George leaned back in his chair, a contemplative look on his face. 'If the Wraith are starting to fight amongst themselves, now may be our best chance to attack.'

'True, but we're going to have to coordinate with the other members of the Alliance, as discussed.' Daniel pointed out. 'Otherwise, I doubt we'll have any chance of winning even a short battle. 'Cause even if we take out all of the Hive Ships and associated Darts, we've still got to deal with the Wraith on the ground.'

'Which is why we're going to honor our agreement and work with the Sanctuary Network and Atlantis.' George said, getting to his feet. 'I've got some calls to make. If that's everything, then you're dismissed.'

'Thank you, sir.' Cam said as he and the other members of SG-1 got to their feet as well.

'Go get your post-mission checkup done. I've got a conference call to get together.'

'Of course, sir.' SG-1 trooped out of the briefing room, heading towards the infirmary, and Janet's care.

Nikola listened to the babble of arguments flowing around him, one hand going to his temple as he leaned back in his chair. He had taken to using one some time ago, having tired of being on his feet all the time. The video monitors had been rearranged to accommodate the new arrangement, lined up on a table set in front of the desk that had once belonged to Helen. The Heads of the Sanctuaries had been debating with those of the SGC and Atlantis for the past three hours, ever since General Hammond had called Nikola with the news of the Wraith attacking one another. Some had proposed for an outright attack, while others wanted to err on the side of caution and wait to see what would happen next.

'After all,' Doctor Roberts said, leaning forwards to emphasize his point. 'The Wraith might just destroy one another if these battles continue on.'

'Or they could be consolidating power so only one Queen and her Hive will rule Earth while the others move on and conquer other worlds.' General Hammond pointed out. 'They've only stayed here because of the large amount of humans, slaves and food alike that are available, even after the genocides of the Three Waves.'

'Yes, but-'

Nikola sighed and then cleared his throat, catching the attention of the others. 'Ladies and gentlemen, this debate is pointless.' He said, striving to keep his voice calm and collected, though some of his irritation crept through in his words. 'Continuing to argue amongst ourselves does nothing but waste precious time and energy. While I agree that there is a time and place for prudence and caution, we do have an unparalleled opportunity to move against the Wraith. We've made various contingency plans to account for different scenarios in attacking the Wraith, and it's high time we put the appropriate one to use. That was one of the reasons I returned here, to the Old City Sanctuary.

'We may have to modify a few of our plans, but if we do this correctly, we might just be able to weaken the Wraith even further than they've already weakened themselves. We won't win this war in one day, but we sure as hell can do our best to wound them as severely as possible. If we can take out as many Hive Ships as we can, clearing out the Wraith on the ground will be far more easier than with them. Doing a simultaneous strike both in space and on the ground will further the goal of wiping out the Wraith once and for all even faster than we originally thought. I propose that we take the best of both paths- we continue to gather intel over the next few days, and then we move when the time is right.'

Nikola settled back into his chair, content in having made his position known to the rest of the Council of the Alliance. The others began debating once more, though now there was a definite sense of purpose to the conversation, unlike before. He smiled to himself, hiding the satisfaction he felt by taking a drink from a nearby wine glass, letting the words of rebellion and freedom wash over him.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Infiltration

Date: February 9, 8 A.I. [2008]

Location: North American Wraith Stronghold, Alberta, Canada

A small group of near-human Abnormals, led by Nikola and Henry, made their way into the labor camp just outside the Wraith Stronghold for the entire North American continent, blending in with the human workers who resided there. The plan was to meet up with some of the Abnormals already within the camp who had been contacted by Will a few days prior to the planned incursion and gather as much support among the Abnormal community as possible. Many still remembered the Sanctuary Network and the work of Helen Magnus, and wanted to join the fight against the Wraith in any way possible. Nikola's and Henry's group wasn't the only one infiltrating a Wraith Stronghold; at each of the other six Continental Strongholds, a similarly small group of near-human Abnormals were entering the camps, spreading the word to those who could be trusted.

The plan was to get inside the actual Strongholds and set off a Wraith-specific poison that the scientists of the Alliance had come up with. It had been tested against a small Wraith camp a few weeks before, and had killed seventy-five percent of the Wraith in the party upon exposure. The rest had been weakened significantly and had been easy targets for the snipers positioned around the camp. The poison was deployed by aerosol attack, using UAVs or a deployment canister similar to a smoke grenade. It took a few seconds to work, but when it did, picking off those who survived was a less formidable task then trying to attack a whole platoon of Wraith Drones and Lieutenants.

While the poison was effective, it had to be placed and handled properly, and the plan was to place traps around the base, setting them with a remote release in order to give the rebel forces time enough to set the canisters off, let the poison do its work and then come in guns a-blazing. One of the problems with the plan, however, was that they didn't know if the poison would affect the Wraith Queens. However, there hopefully wouldn't be much cause for concern about that, since the Queens tended to stay on the Hive Ships in orbit.

On that front, the Alliance Fleet would be jumping out of hyperspace and immediately entering into battle, coming from the Beta Site when given the order to do so by Stargate Command. The entire collection of Jumpers from Atlantis would be joining them, providing aerial assistance to the gliders and F-302s as needed. Having fighter ships capable of cloaking and shielding would be a boon to the fleet, not to mention the effect the drone weapons would have. Unfortunately, even though Atlantis itself had weapons capabilities, it couldn't participate in the fight directly, since the dome covering the fair city had its primary shield on the outside, and there wasn't enough power for the secondary shield that the city did have.

Just after total sunset, Nikola and Henry left the ramshackle hut they had been staying in, keeping to the shadows in between the buildings until they reached a dilapidated church, which was where they were supposed to meet the local leader of the Resistance. Henry paused before slipping through the decaying wooden doors, keeping an eye out for any possible threat. Nikola was ready to Shift to his Vampire form, able at any minute to defend himself and Henry if needed. Even though they had guns- zats and nine mils- they didn't want to have to use them unless absolutely necessary, since the sound of bullets and energy firing would alert the Wraith to their presence, and that was not a viable option.

Nikola stopped Henry as they went deeper into the church, holding out a hand in a signal for his companion to halt.

'What's going on?' Henry hissed, shifting his weight.

'Thought I heard something.' Nikola replied, keeping his voice low as well. 'It was coming from a hallway over to our left.'

'Maybe it's our contact?'

'It's entirely possible. Stay here. I'm going to check it out.' Nikola left Henry crouched by a row of pews and crept along one of the aisles, staying low to the ground as he moved. The sound he'd heard a few moments earlier had reminded him of fabric shifting, though it had almost seemed too light for any normal person, and certainly too light for any Wraith, as they tended towards leather products when choosing their clothing. He continued on, ears straining to catch any repetition of the mystery sound. When he reached the end of the aisle, Nikola ducked into the hallway, pausing momentarily and listening once more.

He could hear the minute sounds of mice scrabbling in the walls, as well as the soft breathing coming from Henry's direction. One of the advantages of being a vampire, even if only a half-breed, was that he had heightened senses, though hearing and sight were higher on the list than the other three. Nikola waited, listening for anything out of place. It took a few minutes of tense stillness, but soon the sound occurred once more, coming from farther down the passageway. He motioned to Henry to follow him, waited until the werewolf had joined him, and then continued on, moving as silently as possible. As they crept forwards, the sounds grew louder, especially when the floor suddenly dipped down below ground level, leaving the church behind entirely. Henry and Nikola followed it, keeping a wary eye on their surroundings.

The path ended in a large open area that the two Abnormals could only assume had once been the cellars of the church, leaving them in near darkness. The footsteps had faded away, and Nikola was beginning to wonder if he'd been imagining them when suddenly someone appeared right out of thin air beside him and hit him over the head with something hard and heavy. Nikola crumpled to the ground, taken by surprise. He could hear Henry struggling nearby, but those noises soon stopped, though he couldn't see why. A voice he hadn't heard in eight years spoke somewhere above him, sounding just as dry as it always had.

'Well, this is a surprise. Hello, Nikola.'

Nikola barely had time to process this sentence before the darkness that was eating away at the edges of his vision finally overcame him, sending him spiraling into the black void of unconsciousness. He woke some time later, strapped to an uncomfortable bed that seemed to be made purely from splintered wood and itchy woolen blankets, his wrists and ankles confined by rough but effectively made restraints. Nikola opened his eyes slowly, feeling as if his entire body had been thoroughly pummeled with mallets of varying sizes and shapes. God, he hadn't felt this bad for years; his accelerated healing capabilities meant that bruises normally went away almost as soon as they were received, and only repeated massive injuries took a great toll on him. Thankfully, he'd never had to experience that too much, which was a blessing, especially with all the hell he'd been through over his greatly extended lifetime.

Movement from his left made him turn his head, which turned out to be a mistake. His head throbbed horribly, and he groaned against the unaccustomed pain. He must've been hit over the head harder than he thought; the last time his head rang like this he'd been mortal and had had way too much alcohol. Come to think of it, that had been just after John had announced his engagement to Helen. The male members of the Five had gone out to celebrate, eventually ending up in a semi-reputable tavern where they had stayed nearly the entire night, only coming home when the bartender escorted them out. The memories of that night were still somewhat foggy, but they carried with them a strong sense of joy and camaraderie that he hadn't encountered since.

The source of the movement came into Nikola's field of view, but all he could see was the sleek fabric of a leather duster and dark-colored clothes; his vision was limited to somewhere around the waistline of the person standing next to the bed he was strapped to. Automatically he tried to struggle, tried to break his bonds, as the only people he knew of who wore such clothing were the Wraith, and he sure as hell wasn't going to make it easy for them, not when he could still fight. In his desperation and anger, his vampiric features came to the fore; his eyes turned jet black and the planes of his face grew sharper, much more defined than they had previously been. Nikola snarled, attempting to bring his sharpened fingernail-claws into play, but the restraints held him back, even with his augmented strength.

'Really, Tesla, there's no need to worry. I'm not going to harm you.'

Nikola stilled, the shock of hearing the haunting tones of one he thought dead momentarily snapping him out of his manic attempts to escape. He tried to crane his head, not caring about the raging headache he now had thanks to his futile struggles, but still couldn't see more than a small portion of the man standing in front of him. Apparently this was noticed, as his companion crouched down, bringing his face down to Nikola's eye-level. The man smiled wryly as Nikola smoothly Shifted back into his human form, one corner of his mouth quirking ever so slightly. Nikola stared at him for a few seconds, unsure of what to say.

'What, no kind words for an old friend?'

Nikola recovered his composure enough to snort softly. 'Well, given that for the past eight years I've thought you dead, it's a little hard to come up with something nice to say. Oh, and the fact that you've got me tied down isn't much help, either.' He replied, settling back on the bed now that he could see who he was speaking with. It looked like John Druitt, but experience told Nikola not to believe his own eyes until he could get more solid proof. After all, he could be the captive of the Wraith and was simply hallucinating seeing his old friend and rival. Nikola wasn't about to say anything more than trivial banalities until he was doubly sure that John really existed and wasn't working with the Wraith. Unfortunately, he didn't have access to a Truth Seer, like Peter, so he'd have to be careful with what he said.

John nodded, and then began removing the bonds holding Nikola's wrists down, though he didn't touch the ones on the half-vampire's ankles just yet. 'Yes, well, we had to be sure you weren't under the influence of the Wraith or their allies.' He said as he helped Nikola sit up. 'Though given your past proclivities, I highly doubt that you'd want to be aligned with beings such as the Wraith.'

'I'm not.' Nikola said, rubbing at his wrists. His headache seemed to have gone down some, though it lurked in the back of his head, ready to come back in full raging force if he moved too quickly. 'But of course, you can't be entirely sure that I'm not, just as I can't be sure that you aren't.'

'Then I suppose we're just going to have to trust one another for the time being.' John replied. 'At least, until we can get a Truth Seer here. There's one in our group, but she's not here at the moment.'

'And how can I be sure I can trust what she says?'

'You know they can't lie about what they See.'

'I've never been too sure about that, but we'll have to see when the time comes. Where's Henry?' Nikola asked as he made short work of the bindings around his ankles.

'Foss? He's in containment as well; I haven't yet been to see him.' John told him. 'He didn't take too kindly to being brought in.'

'Given that your group attacked us, I'd say not.' Nikola said, getting to his feet. He nearly fell down, but John moved swiftly and caught him by the elbows, propping him up until Nikola felt like his ankles weren't going to give out on him like wet noodles any time soon. 'Thanks,' he continued on, stepping away once he felt confident on his own two feet. John waved his thanks away and led him out of the room, which Nikola only now noticed was more of a cell than an actual room. There wasn't any furniture besides the bed, which was waist high, and a bucket in the far corner of the room. Nikola didn't have to guess to be able to know what that particular container was for; he was just glad he hadn't had to use it at all.

'How long have you been here?' he asked John as they moved down the winding passageway outside the cell.

'In Canada? About three years.' John replied, stopping outside a reinforced steel door. 'The rest of the time I've been travelling, trying to collect as many rebels as possible and organize them the best I could.'

'Hmm. That doesn't explain why you didn't contact us all those years ago, but we can leave that discussion for a later date. Henry, Will, and I have been doing the same thing you have, hence why we're here. Although, I think we may've had a little more luck than you in amounts of rebels.'

'Really? How so?'

Nikola merely smiled as John opened the cell door, stepping to one side as he did so. A growl that was suddenly choked off sounded from within the room, and Nikola poked his head around the door to see Henry chained to the wall, nearly fully transformed into his werewolf form. It wasn't surprising; Henry had come to accept the wilder side of his Abnormality, just as Nikola himself had all those years ago, and allowed his werewolf form to come to the fore when needed.

'Henry, calm down. It's me, Nikola. We're safe.' He said, cautiously advancing into the room. Henry watched him warily, golden eyes following Nikola's every movement. Nikola made sure to stay just out of the range of the short chain that was connected to a heavy iron collar surrounding Henry's neck, keeping his body language open and relaxed. 'We're among friends here, Henry. Just relax and change back to your human form. It'll be much easier to explain once you're back among the furless and clothed.'

Henry snorted but did as Nikola asked. Brown fur smoothly shifted back into pink skin, and Nikola looked away in deference to Henry's privacy before the last bit of transformation had occurred. 'You wouldn't happen to have a blanket or a pair of pants nearby, would you?' he asked John, stepping out of the cell. 'I'd rather not have to have a discussion with Henry being naked and all. It's kind of distracting, to say the least.'

'Agreed.' John opened a nearby storage closet and grabbed a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt out of it. 'These might be a little large, but they should work.'

'Excellent.' Nikola stepped back into the doorway of the cell and threw the pants and shirt to Henry, who quickly put the pants on. 'We're going to get that collar off of you, Henry, so just give us a second.'

'Us?' Henry asked, his voice raspy.

'He means me,' John said, coming into view. 'Hello, Henry.'

Henry blinked at the sight of John, tilted his head, and then went 'Huh.' He waited patiently as John unlocked the collar from around his neck, and then carefully got to his feet, pulling the shirt on over his head as he did so. 'I thought you were dead.'

'No, sorry.' John said with a flash of a grin. 'Those rumors are completely made up, fortunately.'

'Yeah, I guess. Why didn't you come back to the Sanctuary once you'd set the bomb?'

John shrugged, but Nikola could see a brief flash of grief cross his face before it was forced away. 'I went looking for Helen.' He said softly. 'I eventually found her in Russia. She'd been a prisoner of the Wraith for three years by then, and she wasn't doing well.' He paused, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. 'She died five days after I rescued her. I buried her in London, next to her mother's grave.'

Nikola closed his eyes as a sudden wave of grief swept over him, just catching Henry's movement of sinking back to the floor, his knees being drawn to his chest in a motion meant to block out the world. God. Helen was dead. Somehow, Nikola had known all this time, but he'd wanted so badly to have it otherwise, to believe that his longtime friend and love had somehow survived. At least she hadn't spent her last days alone and friendless. It was a small comfort, but one Nikola took to heart.

'Thank you,' he said quietly, opening his eyes once more. 'For telling us, and for being there for her.'

'Of course.' John replied just as softly, his voice momentarily ragged with the pain of loss and sorrow. He cleared his throat after a few seconds, blinking rapidly. 'We should move on; the others are waiting for us, and I'm sure they'll be anxious to hear about your journeys. I know I am.'

'Right, right.' Nikola said, nodding. He went over to Henry, who was still sitting on the floor, and knelt down beside him, placing a gentle hand on his young friend's shaking shoulder. 'Henry, I know that right now you want to mourn Helen more than anything in the world; I do as well. However, we've got to move on and continue with our original mission. We can mourn later, once we are not under such dire time constraints, but if we are to carry out our part of the plan, then we need to get moving. Are you willing to do that for me?'

Henry sniffed loudly, and then nodded. 'Thank you.' Nikola said gently, giving Henry's shoulder a squeeze. 'We can talk about this later, okay?'

Henry nodded, wiped his eyes roughly with the back of his hand, and then got to his feet, Nikola staying close by him just in case. The three men moved out of the cell, the sound of Henry's and Nikola's bare feet striking against the earthen floor making an odd counterpoint to John's heavier booted treads. Nikola and Henry followed after John, taking the twists and turns of the tunnels the best they could. It felt strange, going shoeless, but Nikola was relatively certain that situation would be rectified pretty soon. He'd have to ask John about it, of course, but he doubted that they'd be refused the use of their boots, because even underground it was chilly.

He brought up the subject as they reached the more populated areas of the underground complex, and John agreed to return at least some of their gear to them. Their weapons weren't, for understandable reasons, given back to them at the time, but John told them that they'd be getting them back once the rest of the rebel leaders were assured of the willingness and safety of the two Abnormals. That made Nikola and Henry feel much better, so they went along with it, feeling both ecstatic that John was alive and well and grief-stricken at the news of Helen's death. It was certainly an odd combination; certainly bittersweet at the very least.

They reached the conference chambers with time to spare, and the three men got to talking about their various exploits over the years since they'd seen one another, Nikola and Henry telling John about the slow revival of the Sanctuary Network, and John speaking of the networks of spies and rebels he'd helped to create all over the world. When Henry mentioned that the Network was much bigger than it had been before the Invasion, Nikola stopped him with a shake of his head, reminding him that they were saving that information for the leaders of the rebels. John was about to ask what Henry had meant when the door to the Council chambers opened, and an aide stepped out.

'The Council will see you now,' he said, giving John a terse nod of recognition.

The three men got to their feet and went inside, the door shutting behind them with a muted thud.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Battles

Date: February 11, 8 A.I. [2008]

Location: North American Wraith Stronghold, Alberta, Canada

Two small groups of Abnormals made their way along the corridors of the Wraith Stronghold, all dressed in the nondescript clothing that all slaves of the Wraith wore. Hidden within their clothes were the aerosol deployment cans containing the poison, which they would occasionally set into a niche or in an unobtrusive corner. The cans were camouflaged so they wouldn't stand out against the interior of the Strongholds, blending in so curious eyes wouldn't find them and set them off prematurely. Nikola led one group, while John the other. Henry was back in the camp, meeting with the members of the rebellion and those of the Alliance who had arrived over the past two days, bringing weapons and supplies with them.

The plan was absurdly simple: set the poison canisters with a remote release so that they would go off when there was a large amount of Wraith in the Strongholds, wait until most of the Wraith had died- the poison took ten minutes to come into full effect, and even feeding off a luckless slave wouldn't have any influence on the rapid progression of the poison through a Wraith's body- and then go in and clean out the rest of the Wraith who had been severely weakened by the poison but who hadn't died outright from it. The fact that the slaves and rebels had high powered weapons was a bonus as well; zats and handguns normally didn't bother a healthy Wraith unless hit rapidly, but a Wraith in a weakened state? Easy pickings for the attackers.

Once the two groups finished with their task, they faded into the background, going about their normal duties to keep suspicion away from those not involved. All waited with bated breath as the time grew near, the rebels keeping a careful eye out for any trouble. Henry stayed in contact with the other members of the Alliance, using a comm device that was shielded from the Wraith's notice. When the signal was given to start the concurrent attacks, the canisters were activated, and the strike teams moved into place. After the allotted amount of time for maximum exposure to the poison, the strike teams entered the Strongholds across the six continents, moving swiftly through the halls of their oppressors' bases.

The Fleet jumped out of hyperspace on cue, emerging into normal space on the far side of Mars. They moved quickly against the Wraith Hive Ships, the larger ships blasting away at the Hives while the F-302s, Jumpers, and gliders tangled with the Darts that were currently on guard. Cam Mitchell, Jack O'Neill, and John Sheppard led mixed squadrons of Jumpers, gliders and F-302s, while Teal'c, Sam, and Evan Lorne led groups of Alkesh and Ha'taks. The Daedalus, Apollo, and Odyssey stayed back, sending off volleys of missiles while staying as far back as possible, just in case the Hive Ships decided to try and make a break for it.

The Wraith took a few minutes to respond, such was the sudden ferocity of the Alliance's attack. When they did finally manage to scramble their Darts and start firing back at the Alliance, the previously wounded Hive Ship, which seemed to have still been undergoing repairs, had been destroyed, exploding with an almost sad finality that had the various crews of the Alliance ships cheering. That left four of the six original Hive Ships that had attacked Earth to take care of.

'Stay on target, ladies and gentlemen,' came General Hammond's voice over the radios, being broadcast from the command deck of the Odyssey. 'We've still got quite a bit of ways to go, and that Hive Ship was already weakened.'

'Understood, sir,' John replied. 'Green Three, I've got some bogies on my tail. Can you assist?'

'On my way, Green Leader.' Said the voice of Lieutenant Grimsby, one of the pilots originally from the SGC. Grimsby came to John's assistance, taking care of one of the Wraith Darts while John pulled some fancy maneuvers with his Jumper and managed to shake the other. He shot at it with a drone, clipping it along one of its wings. The Dart spiraled out of control and spun into another Dart, sending both up in a large fireball. John grinned but soon sobered as he returned to the task at hand. He dove back into the fight, putting his all on the line.

Nikola crept through the halls of the North American Wraith Stronghold, leading his small group of Abnormals, humans, and Tok'ra. They were all armed with zats, P-90s, and handguns, and a few of the Tok'ra had hand devices, just in case. Nikola was staying in his human form for the moment, preferring to keep his vampiric side hidden for the time being, not wanting to give away his ace in the hole just yet. He carried one of the modified sonic stunners he and Tucker 'n' Tyler had developed, feeling much more confident with the energy-based weapon than with a handgun or P-90. In a pinch he would've been fine with a zat gun, but like any scientist, he wanted to know if his experimental technology even worked.

The first Wraith his group came across was dead, laying crumpled in a heap near one of the storerooms. Nikola examined it briefly and then motioned for the others to continue on after him, keeping his gun at the ready. The sudden blue-white of a Wraith Stunner was all the warning they got as they came under fire from the Wraith, and Nikola dodged the blast just barely, bringing his weapon to bear as he came to a rest after jerking to one side. Gunfire opened up all around him as the others began firing their weapons in an attempt to bring down the Wraith attacking them, most hitting their marks, though a few ricocheted off the walls and ceilings in the over-enthusiasm of the rebels' attack. When the gunfire died down, the remaining rebels- there were a few who had been stunned, and who were left behind in care of one of the healers of the group- went on, going deeper into the complex.

They reached the main hub of the Stronghold twenty minutes later, finding and fighting various groups of Wraith along the way. The sight that met them was stomach-churning, to say the least. Nikola heard more than one of the people behind him turn away and vomit at the smell of the dead Wraith. It was obvious that the Wraith had fought one another to escape, even as they were dying. Corpses lay haphazardly around the room, not all of them Wraith. In the attempt to escape the poison gas, the Wraith had tried to feed on any nearby slave, and when that didn't work, had killed them in frustration before turning on their fellow Wraith.

Nikola closed his eyes briefly and then started forwards, picking his way over the ichor-, blood-, and corpse-strewn floor. Some of the more hardier souls followed behind him, their weapons at the ready, just in case there might be some Wraith playing dead. When he reached the main console in the center of the room, Nikola stopped and turned around, hiding with difficulty his distaste and horror at the scene all around him.

'Alright, here's how we're going to play this,' he said as John Druitt's and the two other infiltration teams entered the room. 'Medics, I want you to check and see if there are any humans or Abnormals alive anywhere in the Stronghold. They might be holed up somewhere, hiding. Leave the Wraith alone; if any of them moves under their own power, no matter how small of a movement, shoot them in the head on sight. We'll fan out from here, using this room as a center of operations. Take at least two soldiers or someone with a P-90 with you, just in case.

'Those who aren't on the recon teams, start moving bodies once the medics give the all-clear. Dump the Wraith outside; we'll burn them once we get the chance. For the slaves, we'll bury them in graves, as is right and proper. Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait to do so until we've got the entire complex cleared. For now, set the bodies in one of the cooler rooms; use the refrigerated rooms off the kitchens for a start. Let's get going. Move out.'

Nikola caught John's eye and waved him over to join him. John did so, coming to a halt next to Nikola.

'We're going to need to report back to CenCom about this.' Nikola said softly. 'If you'd be willing to do so, I'll stay here and help clear out this place. I'm sure Henry's wondering what the hell's been going on, since we've been under radio silence ever since we started this operation.'

'Right.' John stared at him for a few seconds, and then shook his head. 'You've been spending far too much time around the military, Nikola. You're starting to sound like a soldier.'

Nikola smiled mirthlessly. 'Unfortunately, my old friend, we've all had to take on roles we never thought we would in these dark times.'

'That's all too true,' John said. 'But for the first time in many years, I think I can see a glimmer of light through the clouds.'

'Let's hope so.' Nikola replied before John disappeared in a flash of red lights. He sighed and then went to join in with the clean-up, not relishing the grim and gruesome task ahead.

The battle far overhead was going as well as could be expected, though quite a few of the Jumpers, F-302s, and gliders had been lost from either extremely lucky hits by a Dart or massive damage sustained in the heat of battle. Already the Fleet's close-range fighters were down by one-fifth of their previous numbers, though they were having a better time of it now, ever since the Odyssey had managed to severely weaken and then take out one of the Hive Ships, lightening the load for the smaller attack vessels. Two Alkesh were concentrating their fire on a mildly wounded Hive Ship, while a Ha'tak and a few glidersguarded them from a surprise attack. That left two Hive Ships that hadn't been full-on attacked, though the Fleet was doing its level best to engage them.

One of the Hive Ships tried to make a break for it, leaving the Darts that had launched from its fighter bays to fend for themselves against the onslaught. The Apollo fired a warning shot across the Hive's bow, and when that didn't deter the pilot, disabled their hyperdrive engines and continued firing at the enemy ship until it was effectively out of the fight, drifting idly in space, its hull rent in far too many places to be rapidly repaired. Atmosphere venting out one of the breaches in the hull made the Hive spin on its vertical axis, giving it the appearance of a top or an ungainly ballerina ponderously twirling in place. It was left alone once it had been decided that there would be no further use in firing at it; Colonel Ellis was content in picking up the pieces once they'd had the time. If anything else, the Hive would make excellent target practice later on.

The last two Hive ships were soon the subjects of an all-out bombardment by those ships not currently engaged in a battle. Several Ha'taks fired upon them, while the Daedalus and Odyssey assisted, sending out what gliders, Jumpers, and F-302s Colonels Davidson and Caldwell had held back in reserve to combat the Darts that had been deployed to protect the beleaguered Hives. The battleships hadn't gone unscathed throughout the battle; the Apollo had several decks sealed off due to hull breaches, the Odyssey's forward shields were low, and the Daedalus was starting to lose more atmosphere than was necessarily good due to a malfunctioning shield on one of its F-302 bays. Hermiod was working to counteract the damage, but so far, the diminutive Asgard was having trouble finding a way to work around the problem.

When the message came through via CenCom at the SGC that the North American Stronghold had fallen, quickly followed after by the European and African Strongholds, a great cheer went up among the members of the Fleet, giving them renewed purpose as they fought. The number of Darts in the fight was slowly waning as their sheltering Hive Ships were destroyed, which spurred on the defenders of Earth to press forwards, leaving little chance for the Wraith to escape. Once the final Hive Ship had been destroyed, leaving only the defunct and gently spinning one hit by the Apollo even somewhat intact, the tide of the battle soon turned in the favor of the Alliance. The pilots of the Darts turned desperate, going into kamikaze dive bombs in attempts to hinder the forward progress of the Alliance Fleet.

The fighters gave the Wraith no quarter, teaming up and mowing them down with little remorse for what they were doing. As the battle turned more into a mop-up situation, the critically wounded and injured began to filter back to their home bases aboard the battleships and Ha'taks, where a combination of Human, Abnormal, and Tok'ra doctors and healers awaited them. With a grim smile, General Hammond ordered the final Wraith Hive to be destroyed entirely. The Daedalus fired upon it, catching it amidships and causing a chain reaction of explosions that tore the Hive apart. A cheer went up on the bridge of the Daedalus; General Hammond and Colonel Caldwell exchanged bright smiles.

'Alright, people, let's get our fair ship fixed up; meanwhile, I'm going to go see what's going on with the rest of the attack force.' George said, getting up from his chair. 'Colonel Caldwell, you've got the bridge.'

'Yes, sir.' Caldwell replied, saluting George sharply as he took over the command chair. George nodded and then left the bridge, his pace brisk as he navigated the halls to the communications room, where he opened a visual link to CenCom down at the SGC.

'How's it going down there, Doctor Weir?' he asked once Elizabeth had been informed of the call. She looked weary, and her normally neat hair was escaping its restraints, forming loose waves around her face.

'Hard,' she replied, brushing her hair out of her face. 'As you already know, the North American, African, and European Strongholds have fallen, and we've just got word that the Australian and South American ones have been cleared as well. We're waiting on word about the Indo-Asian Stronghold, though. It appears that they're having more trouble than we'd anticipated, possibly because there're more Wraith there than the other Strongholds.'

'Well, we knew that might happen.' George said. 'Have you sent any backup?'

Elizabeth nodded. 'Some of our teleporters have moved several strike teams, but it's going to take some time, even with the extra personnel. As for the others, well, it's more of the clean-up phase at the moment. What about you? How goes it in space?'

George couldn't hide his grin. 'Well, we've managed to get rid of all of the Hives that were left, and we're down to doing some mop-up skirmishes with the remaining Darts. The wounded are making their way back to their home bases as we speak; our doctors should be taking care of them as they arrive. What's the casualty count on your end?'

Elizabeth sighed, though George thought it was one more of weariness than sadness. 'It's hard to say at the moment; as far as I know, there haven't been any deaths directly linked to a Wraith feeding on someone, but with all of the resistance from the Wraith worshipers and other people, we've got at least twenty of our people dead. It's a miracle that it isn't more; we got lucky with that poison.'

George nodded grimly. 'Yes, we did. Unfortunately, we have quite a bit of work ahead of us, even with the Strongholds and Hives destroyed. There're probably Wraith holed up somewhere, biding their time.'

'Yes, and-' Elizabeth was interrupted by Peter Grodin, who murmured quietly in one of her ears before stepping out of range of the camera. Elizabeth nodded, and then turned her attention back to George. 'I've just been informed that the Indo-Asian Stronghold has fallen, though they're still in the early stages of securing the base.'

'Good.' George was relieved to hear the news. The Indo-Asian Stronghold, situated on the border of what had once been India and China, just on the south-west side of the Himalayas, had been one of the most vital Strongholds to conquer. Control that, and the Wraith had little chance of ruling over one of the largest areas of land on the globe. 'I'll inform the rest of the Fleet. We'll be heading back to the Beta Site once we're able to, but the Jumpers will be returning to Atlantis.'

'Understood.' Elizabeth paused, and then allowed a smile to form on her face. 'We did it, General. We've started on the path to freedom.'

'Yes, we have.'

End Part Three

Chapter Text

Part Four: Freedom's Call

Chapter One: Wounded

Date: February 12, 8 A.I. [2008]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

The Atlantis infirmary was filled almost to capacity with those residents of the underwater city who had been injured in the battles both on land and in space, including John Sheppard, who was laying in one of the beds, a cast ensheathing his right arm. He had broken it when a Dart had slammed into the Jumper and sent it spiraling out of control, the inertial dampeners going on the fritz for just long enough to throw John out of his chair and slam him into one of the walls, snapping the bone neatly in two. Luckily, there had been another ATA gene holder on board, Lieutenant Newcombe, and he'd been able to get the Jumper back under control, the inertial dampeners coming back online just in time.

Carson bustled over, his stethoscope swinging against his chest as he moved. 'Alright, John,' he said, coming up to John's bedside. 'You're going to have to move out of that bed; we need it for other patients.'

'I'm injured, Carson.' John tried to protest, not wanting to relinquish the comfortable pile of pillows.

'Aye, but not as severely as Sergeant Matheson. You've been cleared to go, and I know that your team is anxious to see you. I've been having a hard time keeping them out, Rodney especially. You know how he gets.'

John smirked. 'Yeah, I guess.' He levered himself to his feet and stood still while Carson outfitted him with a sling. 'How long do I have to have this thing on, anyways?'

'At least three weeks, less if you come in for a few short healing sessions with Doctor Yates,' Carson told him, mentioning one of the Tok'ra doctors on staff. 'I'd much prefer you let your body heal naturally for at least two weeks; I've never entirely trusted the healing devices, and you can develop an immunity to them if they're used too often on simple injuries.'

'Alright. We'll see what I've got going on. I'll try to come in, I promise.' John said. Carson just gave him a skeptical look and shooed him out of the infirmary, waving down a nurse to help him change the linens of John's recently vacated bed. John wandered around the halls of Atlantis, nodding in greeting to the various people he passed. He'd much rather be back in bed, but since Carson had effectively kicked him out for the next few days, he'd have to deal with his own bed. It wasn't that it was an uncomfortable bed, but somehow, the pillows in the infirmary were always much more comfortable than the ones given out to the general population.

John was just passing one of the science labs, wondering if Carson hoarded the most comfortable pillows for his patients, when he heard voices coming from the room he'd just passed. They were arguing, though there wasn't much venom behind the words. Recognizing the lab as Radek's, John wandered into the room and leaned against one of the walls, idly readjusting the strap on his sling as he did so. Radek, Rodney, and Jess were all in there, conversing about some of the data they'd been able to recover from one of the Strongholds. Rodney had a bandage around one arm, visible only because he was wearing a t-shirt, the bright blue bandage marking him as a blood donor. Jess was listening to Rodney and Radek debating back and forth, occasionally breaking into the conversation and adding her own point of view.

The entire situation made John grin, glad to see that life had returned to a small degree of normality so soon. He made himself comfortable on a nearby chair, surprising the hell out of the three scientists when he made his own contribution to the conversation. The four Lanteans continued their banter, the feeling of relief from finally having the weight of living under the Wraith's oppression palpable in the air.

Off in an entirely different section of Atlantis, Peter Kavanagh and his wife were enjoying some time alone, simply relaxing in the presence of one another. They lay on one of the grassy areas in between two of the piers jutting out from the main spire of Atlantis, a blanket spread out beneath them. Nearby, one of the Marines was playing an acoustic guitar, and a small crowd had gathered, taking seats around the talented soldier and occasionally requesting songs. If the Marine didn't know one, the guitar was passed to someone who did.

Peter sat up when one of the botanists requested "Famous Blue Raincoat" by Leonard Cohen, propping himself up on an elbow. 'I know that one,' he said, rising to a fully upright sitting position. The guitar was passed around the crowd until it reached him, and once he'd gotten comfortable with the instrument, Peter began to play, Sasha singing along with him. The melancholy melody rang out, a few of the other listeners singing softly. When Peter had finished playing, he segued into a much more upbeat rendition of "Yellow Submarine", wanting to bring the mood up after the melancholy song. It worked like a charm, and soon there were smiles and laughter all around as the crowd sang along to the infectiously happy song.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Mourning

Date: February 14, 8 A.I. [2008]

Location: Old City Sanctuary, Old City, B.C., Canada

There was a somber air among the residents of the Old City Sanctuary as they officially mourned the loss of their one-time leader Helen Magnus. The memorial service was held in the chapel adjoining the Sanctuary, and a camera had been set up that would broadcast the ceremony to the Sanctuary Network and the rest of the Tau'ri Alliance. A picture of Helen had been set on a pedestal, the frame a simple matte black. The photo was one that had been taken a few years before the Invasion, when both she and Ashley were still alive. It was a candid shot, showing Helen sitting near the fireplace in her office, holding a book in her hands as she read from it. The firelight made her hair take on various shades of chocolate brown, intermixed with gold and copper. She looked at peace with the world, entirely unaware of the photograph having ever been taken.

John, Nikola, Henry, and Will sat in the front row of chairs while the Big Guy gave Helen's eulogy; the rest of the Sanctuary staff were arranged in the chairs around them. Peter, Sasha, and a few other Abnormals from Atlantis and the SGC sat in the back of the room, each privately remembering the amazing woman who had inspired so many over her long and illustrious lifetime.

'Helen Magnus was more than just the leader of the Sanctuary Network,' Will said when it came his turn to speak. 'She was a friend to all she met. It took quite a lot for her to even dislike you, but Heaven help you if you got on her bad side. Magnus was protective to the point of sacrificing herself; I can recount more than one time where she'd nearly worked herself to exhaustion, and yet still found the strength to carry on in search of an elusive answer to the problem she was currently working on. She had more strength than I can ever imagine having, and I don't know if I'll ever meet someone with as brilliant a mind and strong a character as she had.

'She touched many lives, most for the better. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her, and I'm sure many of the rest of us could say the same thing. Helen Magnus will never be forgotten, and I truly believe that she far exceeded the promise of "Sanctuary for All", even when the world went to Hell and back. Her legacy allowed us to conquer the Wraith, and for that, I'll be ever grateful. To Helen Magnus, may her spirit live on in all of us.'

The SGC and Atlantis held memorial services as well, remembering those who had given their lives in the pursuit of freedom from the Wraith. It was a mixed bunch of civilians and soldiers who helped bury the dead, including those who had been found in the Strongholds across the world. Not every grave had a name carved on its marker, but once all the bodies were interred in the ground, there was a generic service held for them all, commending their spirits to whatever higher power the specific person had believed in. The weather was appropriately somber as well; grey clouds created an overcast pall overhead that soon unleashed a light dusting of snow, gilding the freshly turned earth with fine silvery-white powder. The mourners left soon afterwards, returning to their homes as the sky released its cleansing burden on the earth below.

A lone figure stood vigil at a hand-hewn gravestone in the shattered remnants of London, his black leather duster buttoned tight against the chill wind that whistled through the abandoned buildings nearby. John stared down at the rough stone in front of him, blue eyes hooded in grief. It might be considered foolish, coming here alone, but he didn't care. He could take care of himself if needed. A flash of blue-white light that signaled the appearance of an Asgard transport beam didn't faze him; he barely looked up when the sound of footsteps crunched over the freshly fallen snow, coming ever nearer to him.

'I wanted to see for myself,' Nikola said softly. 'But I can leave if you want to be alone.'

'No, stay.' John replied, surprising even himself. He wasn't one to share his feelings much, but for the moment, he didn't care if Nikola saw him grieve. It was quite a change from how he used to be, John reflected, and smiled inwardly. Helen seemed to be able to continue to change him, even from beyond the grave.

Nikola didn't say anything but merely nodded, joining John in his silent vigil for the woman they had both loved and lost.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Rising

Date: April 25, 8 A.I [2008]

Location: Atlantis Base, Colorado

The sound of laughter rang through the Mess Hall as a large group of the city's inhabitants entered the room, chattering and talking with one another. Peter Kavanagh looked up from his meal, the sudden influx of joy catching his attention. 'My coffee tastes like happiness,' he told his dining companion. Sasha smirked, shaking her head. She was used to her husband saying odd things like that; his talents sometimes overwhelmed his senses, especially if he was eating something at the time.

'I'm not going to do anything about that,' Sasha replied with a laugh. 'I haven't heard that much laughter in years.'

'I wasn't about to ask you to,' Peter said. 'If anything, my coffee tastes better than before.'

'I suppose that's a good thing.'

'Considering the state of the coffee that's usually served here? Yes, it is. Besides, this is the near-coffee from M2J-308. It's not exactly what we're used to.' Peter took another sip of his coffee, considered its taste, and then shrugged. 'You ought to try it.'

Sasha shook her head. 'No thanks. You know I'm not much of a coffee drinker.'

'Mm.' The two Abnormals watched the chattering group of scientists- mainly physicists and engineers- take their seats at a nearby group of tables. Radek and Rodney were among the members of the crowd, sitting right in the thick of things. Peter watched them for a minute, and then got up and wandered over to them, curious as to what had gotten his colleagues so excited.

'What's going on?' he asked after taking a drink of his coffee. Yep, it still had the tangy yet sweet taste of excitement and joy to it, though he reckoned part of that was from the near-coffee itself.

'We think we found a way to make ZPMs!' Miko Kusanagi said, nearly bouncing in her seat. 'It could be what we need to raise the city to the surface.'

'Really? That's- Well, that's fantastic.' Peter said, the general air of excitement and happiness starting to infect him as well. 'Any clue on how soon we can get started on production?'

'Well, we're going to need specific materials that we may not be able to get here on Earth, but with the Asgard Core that's able to tell us what the ZPM is comprised of, as well as being able to replicate those elements, we might be able to start manufacturing in a matter of months, if not weeks.' Radek replied, just now noticing that Peter was standing nearby. 'Come and see what we mean.'

Peter glanced over at Sasha, who smiled indulgently and motioned for him to join his fellow scientists. He gave her a bright smile and turned back to the others, joining in the rapid-fire conversation as he examined the specifications of the suspected manufacturing plant hidden deep in the bowels of Atlantis, staying on his feet, as there wasn't any room for him to sit down. He didn't care though; for something like this, he'd stand on a bed of broken glass if it meant he could be a part of something this momentous.

Five weeks later, the first prototype ZPM rolled off the production line, and all those present in the laboratory held their collective breath as Rodney and Radek connected the diagnostic leads to it. Their computers beeped and trilled at one another as the various tests were run; making small noises of confirmation to themselves once each test was finished. When all of the tests were completed, the wait for the data to compile was almost even worse than that for the tests to be done. Once everything was finally compiled and all the data in its proper place, Radek and Rodney went over the results. Their growing excitement as each test came through was clearly palpable; Peter could feel it even in the next lab over, which was where the overflow of the crowd waiting for the results had ended up.

'Alright, everyone, listen up!' Teshryn announced, raising his voice as he stepped up onto a nearby chair. 'All of the test results have come back positive. We've got a working ZedPM!'

A tremendous cheer went up at these words, and there was a general air of excitement all around. Radek found himself being spun around and had a split-second to realize that it was Jess doing the turning before she kissed him soundly on the mouth in celebration, laughing happily as she did so. They held onto one another's hands once they broke apart, not wanting to be separated from one another as they celebrated this monumental achievement.

'You know, we should eventually tell the rest of the city,' Jess commented as the cheering wound down into an excited murmur.

'I'm relatively sure that the rest of the city knows by now,' Radek replied, helping Teshryn down from the chair. 'After all, we were pretty loud.'

'Very true. However, it'd probably be in our best interest to make the announcement anyways.' Teshryn said with a nod of thanks to Radek. 'Elizabeth and John did want to know the results as soon as possible.'

'Well, you two go tell them, and I'll corral these yahoos into the Mess Hall.' Jess said. 'I think this calls for cake, at the very least.'

'Agreed. We'll see you there, then.' Radek gave his gently pregnant wife one last kiss on the cheek and then left with Rodney, the two men squeezing their way through the exuberant crowd.

Rodney bustled into the main Power Control room six days later, his computer tablet carried the crook of one arm while the other arm and hand were being used to illustrate his conversation with Radek, his fingers fluttering in the air as he spoke. The other scientists working within the room looked up as the two men entered, quickly returning to their tasks as soon as they had seen who it was. Rodney stopped in front of the power console and tapped at his radio, setting his computer down as he did so.

'Sheppard, are you ready?'

'Are you sure about this, Rodney?' came John's mildly nervous reply, which was totally understandable. What he was about to attempt almost seemed impossible. The crystal dome that protected Atlantis was actually set up much like a sports stadium's roof- it was retractable, opening like a blossoming flower or the iris on the Stargate in the SGC. The secondary shield would go up before the dome opened, and then John would release the docking clamps that held the city to the bottom of the lake bed. Theoretically, this would allow Atlantis to rise up out of the water, but not even Rodney knew if it would actually happen. Having the secondary shield up would at least protect the city from the water for the amount of time needed to close the dome and then drain it if everything went pear-shaped, but everyone hoped that that wouldn't happen.

'As sure as I can be, John.' Rodney replied, doing a last minute check of his calculations. 'We're going to insert the three ZedPMs. Are you in the Chair yet?'

'Yes, I am. And for the record, I still have a bad-'

'Right. Let's do this.' Rodney said, riding over John's voice. 'Inserting the ZedPMs in three, two… now!'

The three ZPMs lowered themselves into their allotted slots, their internal glow going from a dim shine to a deeper, more purposeful light. It took a few minutes for the systems to power up, but once they did, Rodney gave John the go-ahead.

'Fine, but if this doesn't work-'

'It will. Stop fussing and try it already. Everyone's inside and away from any windows, just in case.'

'Oh, good. That makes me feel so much better.'

'I thought Rodney was supposed to be the complainer, Colonel.' Radek commented as he kept an eye on the power consumption meters. Everything seemed to be doing alright as John gave the command for the shield to rise. Once that was done, the dome slowly opened, the primary shield holding back the water until the dome had completely retracted into its housing.

'Docking clamps disengaging.' John reported, and those in the control room could feel the shudder as the city let go of the lake bed. 'If all goes well, we'll be on the surface in a few seconds.'

There was a momentary feeling of pressure, akin to that of when an airplane lifts off the ground, and then the inertial dampeners kicked in, relieving that pressure as the primary shield powered down and flickered out of existence completely. The city began to rise ponderously towards the surface, the water around it rushing in to fill the previously occupied space. The once lush and grassy lawns were now entirely flooded, and as the bottom arc of the shield lifted off from the ground, became submersed in thousands of gallons of fresh water. As the city rose, its inhabitants clung to the nearest sturdy object they could find, which often was a doorframe or a bed. Some murmured prayers, while others rode in tight-gripped silence, staring at the ceilings of the various rooms they were in.

The spires of the towers broke the surface first, and as the water cascaded down the sides of the shield, sunlight poured through the multi-colored windows of Atlantis for the first time in over ten thousand years. Once the entire city had breached the surface, John shut down the shield, not wanting to drain any more power than absolutely necessary. Just because they had the means to create as many ZPMs as they wanted did not mean that was an option. After all, the SGC had requested one, as well as several members of the Sanctuary Network. Even though they'd managed to defeat the Wraith, it didn't mean that there weren't other races out there looking for someone new to take over, and the peoples of Earth had no intention of letting that happen again any time soon.

When the city had been automatically anchored to the lake bed floor, John got out of the Chair as quickly as possible, not wanting to stay in it if he didn't have to. He always felt discombobulated after using it, and he hated being out of control of his own body. It was one of the reasons he hated having to use heavy pain meds after being injured. John made his way to the Main Atrium, where Rodney had gone once the city had settled on the surface.

Elizabeth was there as well, and they were just getting ready to make their first above-water call to the SGC when he arrived. 'See? That wasn't so bad, now was it?' Rodney asked, giving John a bright grin. John rolled his eyes in response and shook his head at his best friend.

'Alright, fine, it wasn't too bad. But it wasn't easy, either. Next time you want to move the city, you do it.' He said.

'No can do. You're the one with the crazy-ass expression of the 'Gene, remember? So unless you can convince Colonel O'Neill or Carson, you're stuck with the job. But don't worry; I don't think we'll be moving the city any time soon, anyways.' Rodney replied.

'Alright, we've got everything set up,' Peter Grodin said, looking up from his console. 'Whenever you're ready, Doctor Weir.'

'Thank you, Peter.' Elizabeth said, giving him a smile. John had just enough time to wonder if there was something going on between the two of them before the image of General Hammond appeared on the screen, flanked by Jack and Sam.

'Greetings from Atlantis,' Elizabeth told them. 'We've made it safely to the surface.'

'Glad to hear it, Doctor.' Hammond said with a smile. 'Hopefully, this'll make it a bit easier to visit you if needed.'

'Of course,' Elizabeth said with a nod. 'And of course it's always nice to be able to see the sun whenever we want, rather than having to hide away from it.'

'Yes, yes it is.'

The sunlight streamed in through the windows, painting the nearby floors and walls with multicolored shards of light, making it look as if someone had attached vibrant swatches of translucent paint to the smooth Ancient surfaces. When the link to the SGC was terminated, John, Rodney, and Elizabeth went to the nearest balcony and stepped outside, relishing in the feel of the cool mid-day breeze on their faces. Rodney took a deep breath in and let it out slowly, leaning contentedly against the railing. John and Elizabeth joined him, taking in the panorama spread out before them. The world was peaceful now, a state it hadn't seen for far too long, and all hoped that it would stay that way for ages to come.

Chapter Text

Epilogue

Hope

~Three Years Later~

The bright sound of a child's laughter rang through the halls of Atlantis, accompanied by a much deeper rumble of a laugh. Two pairs of footsteps could be heard, one heavy and the other light. A small child no older than four rounded one of the corners of a hallway, her dark brown hair falling in loose waves across her shoulders. Her father chased after her, skidding mildly as he turned the corner but managing to right himself as he continued to move, using his momentum to gain traction against the slippery floors of Atlantis.

'Tessa, come back here!' Radek called, feigning exasperation. Tessa looked back, and as she did so, ran full tilt into a lanky figure coming down the hall. Peter managed to steady both of them as Tessa wrapped her arms around his legs, putting one hand out to brace against the nearest wall.

'Ah. Hello, there, Tessa.' He said, looking down to see what was currently doing a rather good impression of a jellyfish entangling itself about his legs. 'You're running away from your dad again, aren't you?'

'Yep.' Tessa replied, looking up at Peter. 'You're really tall, Mister Peter.'

'I know, Tess.' Peter said, smiling amusedly. 'I can't help it, unfortunately.'

'Oh.' Tessa stayed where she was for a minute and then let go of Peter, launching herself at Radek and nearly bowling him over as well. Peter chuckled, shaking his head.

'You know, neither you nor Jess is that energetic. Where on earth did she get that much energy from?' he commented. Radek raised an eyebrow and managed to hoist Tessa up so that she was perched on one of his hips.

'Honestly, I have no idea. I would blame Anora, but that's not exactly fair to her, now is it? Anyways, thanks for catching my little runaway here. We're due at the infirmary in ten minutes for her bi-yearly check-up, but she managed to escape from me on the way from our quarters.'

'Well, good luck with that.' Peter said with an amused smile. 'Sasha and I are due at the Denver Sanctuary. Apparently there's a dispute going on between some of the residents there that only we can resolve.'

'Good luck to you as well, then. It sounds like you'll need it.'

'Thanks.'

The two men went their separate ways, Radek readjusting Tessa's positioning so that both he and the little girl were more comfortable. As they made their way to the infirmary, Tessa shifted in her father's grasp so that she could lean against him better. 'Papa, why doesn't Mister Peter have any kids?' she asked, surprising Radek.

Radek blinked, trying to figure out the best way to answer his inquisitive daughter's question. 'Well, Tess, not everyone can have children,' he began. 'But some choose not to. I believe that this is the case for Mister Peter and Missus Sasha, since their jobs mean that they have to travel a lot. It wouldn't be fair to a baby.'

'Oh.' Tessa took this in, looking as if she were considering the matter deeply. 'They should get some fish, then.'

'Really?'

Tessa nodded. 'And I'd help feed them when they're away, too.'

'I see. This is another request for a pet of your own, yes?'

'I really want one, papa.' Tessa said as they neared the infirmary. 'Doctor Rodney's got his kitty, and Missus Sheppard's got a doggy.'

'Yes, but Teyla also keeps her pet in the village. Where would you keep a dog in this city?'

'Doctor Katie says she found a park yesterday.'

'I see. Well, you'll have to talk to your mother about it; keep in mind, I'm not saying yes or no to this, alright?'

Tessa nodded as Radek set her down on a nearby examination table, and then took a seat next to her as they waited for Carson or Jennifer to join them. Radek watched Tessa swing her legs back and forth as she softly sang a song she had learned in the informal pre-school that had been set up a few years back when the first children who had either been born in Atlantis or who had come to Atlantis with their parents were of the right age to attend. Kaleb and Jeannie Miller helped teach it, with several of the other civilians pitching in for the teaching of the older students. Radek was content in just listening to Tessa sing, enjoying the sound of his daughter's voice.

It was almost hard to believe that only five years ago, the world had been under the harsh rule of the Wraith. The global population had started to rise once more, though it would be quite some time before it reached the pre-Invasion levels it had been at. It certainly wouldn't happen in the rest of Radek's lifetime, and he highly doubted it would even occur in Tessa's. Even now, there were scattered reports of Wraith being sighted, though that was mainly in the more remote portions of the world, and any sightings were quickly verified and taken care of, should they prove to be true.

Radek was torn from his musings about the state of the world by Carson's arrival, especially when Tessa broke off from her song and made a delighted noise. 'Hiya, Doctor Carson!' she said, nearly bouncing off the examination table. Radek slid off the table and returned to a standing position, staying nearby just in case, but keeping out of Carson's way.

'Hello, love.' Carson replied, grinning warmly back at Tessa. 'You're a bundle of energy today, aren't you?'

'She always is, Carson.' Radek said with a laugh. 'I wouldn't have her any other way, though.'

'Aye, I know what you mean. Laura's got her hands full with Donnie at the moment. Alright, lass, let's see how your heart sounds.' As Carson began his check-up, Radek's thoughts drifted back to their previous course, and the notion that he was very lucky indeed crossed his mind. He stood there, watching his daughter and friend interact, and wondered if, out there somewhere in some alternate universe, as Jess had once experienced, the Wraith had never attacked Earth. Would he still have met his wife and had a daughter?

He shook his head, clearing his mind of those thoughts. That didn't matter. What mattered was that his child was alive and free, as was the rest of the world. Right now, that was the most important thing in the universe, and that was all he truly cared about.