Title: The Alpha of Atlantis (Emergence!Verse)
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Relationships: No major pairings, future John/Rodney, and other M/M, M/F, M/M/F
Content Rating: PG-13/Teen
Genre: A/B/O (No non-con), Dragon-shifter AU
Warnings: Canon-level violence, dragons squishing Wraith
Spoilers: Season 1
Beta: Naelany and Ladyholder
Word Count: 10,700
Timeline: The Alpha of Atlantis begins about six months before the start of the events of Emergence, and ends slightly after the events in Emergence. It can be read separately from the main story.
Author Note: Remember that since these events are primarily occurring before Emergence, that no one knows anything about Drakes or Wyverns. Also, Wyverns do usually have some recessive Drake genetics, but it’s not what’s relevant in their emergence.
Author Note 2: Characters who did not have first names in canon, well, I just used the names Keira Marcos has graced us with. Might as well perpetuate the notion that Markham had a first name and that it truly was Jason (and Bates, and Stackhouse and so on.) Wouldn’t you all be confused if I named him Claude Markham?
Summary: The Atlantis expedition came to Pegasus with no emerged dragons. Suddenly, dragons are emerging at an unprecedented rate. Cut off from Earth, a large Wing has formed in need of an Alpha.
– – – –
The Alpha of Atlantis
– – – –
John Sheppard lay back on his bed, adjusting his neck carefully. He’d only been out of the infirmary a few hours and he wasn’t anxious to be back under Beckett’s tender mercies anytime soon. The life sucking alien parasite that had attached itself to his neck had nearly killed him, so he supposed he should be grateful he was just sore, achy and tired.
Actually, now that he thought on it, he had died. Maybe the parasite hadn’t killed him, but they’d shocked his heart to trick the bug from hell into removing itself, so he’d still died. He shoved that unsettling thought to the far reaches of his mind, firmly labeled ‘do not think of.’
Before he could make serious inroads on a much-anticipated nap, his door chimed. Groaning, he called out, “Yeah, what?”
A moment later, Beckett was standing in the doorway looking as awkward as ever. “Ah, Major, good to see you’re resting.”
Swinging to a seated position, John retorted, “No need to check up on me so fast, Carson. I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even thought about doing anything.”
“Aye, and as much as I’d love to leave you to your rest, I wonder if you’d join us for a meeting. I promise to keep it brief.”
John scrounged for his radio, fitting it to his ear even has he got to his feet, trying to hide the lingering stiffness. Within a few minutes, they were in the conference room with Rodney and Elizabeth.
“How are you… um, feeling?” Rodney asked a bit awkwardly.
“Aw,” John cooed, “you do care.”
Rodney shot him a look. “I went to a lot of effort to save you. I’m just ensuring my efforts weren’t in vain because you overextended yourself too quickly.”
“Why are we here, Dr. Beckett?” Elizabeth asked before John and Rodney could get into it further, for which John was grateful. He really wouldn’t change Rodney for anything. Most of the time. But John needed to be on top of his game for a round of Rodney wrangling.
“There’s a matter from how the expedition was assembled that only Dr. Weir and myself were privy to, and has not previously been an issue,” Beckett began cautiously.
Elizabeth’s head snapped up. “And is it an issue now? I thought it was just…” she hesitated, then said, “the one.”
Carson shook his head. “I’m afraid not.”
Rodney looked just as confused as John felt. “What’s going on?” Rodney immediately asked. “What do you mean there’s something the two of you know that we don’t? Why would we have been kept out of the loop on anything? Out here in the middle of Pegasus is not a good time for keeping secrets! Why–”
“Rodney!” John barked. “Let him explain.”
“Thank you, Major,” Carson said, hesitating for a moment. “The truth is that it was peculiar to anyone who looked into it closely that there were no dragons on the Atlantis expedition. The Stargate program has had a disproportionately large number of dragons in general, and for none to be included in the expedition was decidedly odd.”
Before Rodney could jump in, John just shook his head and quickly replied, “I’m not oblivious, Carson. I asked about that. The IOA worried they’d have to disclose the program to the Dragon Council if any of theirs were along, so they ruled them ineligible.”
Elizabeth braced her arms on the table. “That was a smokescreen, John. The truth was that Sumner was against having dragons on the mission. He would have been okay with betas, but it’s well known that betas cut off from alphas for long periods of time ultimately don’t function well, and he refused to have an alpha on the expedition.”
John reached up to rub the back of his neck, but aborted the motion so as to not aggravate his stupid bite mark. Instead he fisted his hand against his thigh. “That doesn’t surprise me.” He’d worked with a few alphas, and dragons typically followed the chain of command, but there was no doubt that dragons put the Wing first. “I take it someone is emerging?”
“Someone’s emerging?” Rodney echoed. “Who?”
Carson waved them both away. “Let me tell the whole tale before you begin with your incessant questions, Rodney. You may or may not know that dragons, especially betas, tend to emerge much more heavily in times of war. There are other factors, but great threat seems to trigger whatever causes dragons to emerge. It doesn’t occur near as predictably with alphas, though. Approximately twenty-five percent of the population on Earth is latent, and usually only a fraction of a percent of those ever emerge. However, there have been historical records of emergence rates of up to forty percent of the latent population in war torn areas.
“These facts were well known to General O’Neill and Doctor Jackson and they attempted to stack the deck in our favor, in the event that dragons would be helpful to us on this expedition.” Carson was looking between John and Rodney.
“How stacked?” John asked, leaning forward, aches and pains forgotten in his curiosity. He himself was latent, but it had never much crossed his mind as an issue. Like Beckett said, such a small percentage of latents ever emerged that it wasn’t even worth thinking on.
Elizabeth and Carson exchanged a look before Carson answered, “The gene was the first factor, but all things being equal, the next factor they looked for was latency. So, nearly eighty-five percent of our military contingent is latent. The civilian population had many other screening factors, but if there were two equal candidates and there was truly no preference, if a candidate was latent, that candidate was chosen. So the civilians have only a slightly higher than normal latency at thirty-eight percent.”
John did the math quickly. “So you’re saying that if we got the maximum of forty percent, we could have twenty-eight dragons on Atlantis?”
“Right before you lot left for your last mission, I told Dr. Weir that I’d discovered that I had pre-scales,” Carson admitted.
“You?” Rodney yelped incredulously.
“Aye, me, Rodney,” Carson retorted. “I’m one of the many on this bloody floating city who are latent… including yourself and the Major. I intended to tell you both right when you returned, but there were extenuating circumstances, and not just the Major’s injuries.
“While you were on mission, another member reported in with symptoms and I decided to do a check on everyone I could who was latent. I wanted to see if the effect of this situation had caused someone who made more sense than me to sprout pre-scales, and I found several others.”
“How many,” Rodney asked quickly. “Because you wouldn’t have told us about Sumner’s edict and O’Neill and Jackson’s plan if there wasn’t more than you.”
“There are nineteen in the very early stages.”
“Nineteen?” was exclaimed in some way from all the other occupants of the room.
Shock brought silence for a long time, and finally John managed to ask, “How many military and how many civilian?”
“Four civilian. Myself, Dr. Zelenka, Dr. Keene, and Dr. Gall. Fifteen military. Ah… Forgive me I don’t recall the names immediately…” He looked down at his tablet, but before he could say anything, Rodney waved it away.
“Just give it to Sheppard.”
John rolled his eyes, but took the tablet and glanced down the list. Notably, Bates, Stackhouse, Miller, and Markham were on it. He wondered if Ford was latent? He passed it to Elizabeth, then turned his attention back to Carson. “So, of the military personnel, if we were to get the forty percent, we would have had seventeen, and we already have fifteen emerging? Does that seem odd?”
Carson nodded vigorously. “It’s incredibly peculiar! While it’s not uncommon to see emergence clusters in war zones, this many at one time is one for the books!”
“Forget books!” Rodney retorted. “What if there’s no alpha among them? Oh god, what if there is? And what if they’re on the science team? Gall would be a terrible alpha. He’d be a terrible beta, for that matter.”
“Rodney,” John interjected, torn between amusement and exasperation, “Gall isn’t going to be an alpha.” Suddenly he had a thought. “Hey, wait a minute.” He looked to Carson. “That’s why you kept looking behind my ear when I was in the infirmary.”
“You’re latent, Major. I had to check.”
“Nothing, right?” John verified, not even sure which he was hoping for.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Rodney said slumping back in his chair.
John glared at him. “And why’s that?”
Rodney settled for a vague wave of his hand and a head bobble that John knew meant he probably didn’t even know why that had popped out of his mouth. “Wait… do I?” his hands shot up to his ears, feeling behind them. “Becoming a dragon would be a terrible idea for me. Who knows what affect that might have on my brain.”
Carson got up and checked behind Rodney’s ears. “You’re fine, Rodney.”
Elizabeth took over before Rodney could pursue it further. “Carson, do we have the supplies we need for emergences of this number?”
“If you mean the enzyme infusion, then yes. Though it’s a standard item in remote field kits, Dr. Jackson snuck extra of into our inventory. He wasn’t certain what we’d find here, or what obstacles we might encounter. I dare say he sent enough for most of the latent population, which should be protocol on a mission of this nature anyway. The danger was that it typically only has a year shelf life.”
“All right,” Elizabeth said, bracing her hands on the table as she got to her feet. “There’s really nothing further to discuss at this juncture. Emergence simply takes time, and the Major should be resting. We’ll need to eventually explain dragons to the Athosians, even though I’d rather they not divulge that to people on other planets. I’ll discuss it with Teyla and see where we go from there.
“As the time of these emergences gets closer, we’ll need to keep mission schedules in mind. Clearly we don’t want anyone on a space mission or even off planet when they’re going to be turning into a dragon for the first time. So be prepared to start adjusting duty rosters.”
“Elizabeth, do you really think the Athosians or Teyla are going to believe in dragons unless they see it?” Rodney began as he followed Elizabeth, so John started to head out of the conference room.
“Major,” Carson said, moving close, “just one more check… for my peace of mind, you see.”
Frowning in confusion, John managed a highly intelligent, “Huh?”
“Let me see behind your ear, lad,” Beckett clarified.
“Oh!” He angled himself a bit.
Carson looked and then actually felt along behind John’s ear, starting at the top near his hairline. “Oh dear. Make that sixteen military.”
– – – –
“You’re being ridiculous,” Rodney muttered between bites of lunch in the mess hall.
“It’s not happening to you, Rodney,” John bit out, though he was more interested in glaring at his own arm. Most days he tried not to think about what being a dragon might mean to him; he couldn’t really wrap his head around it. But now that all his body hair was falling out, he was having a harder time ignoring the reality of it. “Why the hell does this have to happen?” he finally asked.
Rodney scoffed. “Science has yet to explain how an average human suddenly turns into a fifteen to forty tonne reptile. And until that is explained, the mystery of why your body hair falls out is insignificant in comparison. Besides, you’re lucky you never have to shave again.”
John gave Rodney the baleful look he had just been giving his own recently free-of-hair arm. “You know, you could try to have a little compassion for the people who are suddenly going through major life changes.”
“They’re scales not leprosy,” Rodney shot back, unperturbed. “And no one has gone through any form of change as yet.”
Leaning back in his chair, he was actually comforted by the sounds of Rodney’s rant/ramble about dragons, the lack of good science, and how he deserved more sympathy for putting up with incompetents. John was happy for the distraction as he really didn’t want to think about being a dragon yet. Every time his mind went there, he just pushed it away. There was nothing he could do about it, so there wasn’t a lot of point in ruminating on it.
Still, that was easier said than done on a day when you woke up and found that most of your body hair had fallen out.
– – – –
John waited as long as he possibly could before he pulled a grieving Carson away from his duties. It had been three weeks since John had learned that he himself was due to emerge, but Carson’s emergence was now imminent.
Carson had been working on the Wraith vaccine on Hoff for days, and the situation had turned ugly and people were dying. John felt for Carson — on top of the vaccine killing people, Carson’s friend, Perna, had just recently fallen victim to the effects of the vaccine — but letting the doctor bury himself in work to deal with his grief when he was about to sprout scales was not happening.
“What do you need, Major? I have patients to tend to,” Carson argued, trying to pull away.
“No you don’t. Others can handle it. Besides, nothing we do is helping these people.” John didn’t want to be callous, but he’d been watching this all day. No amount of intervention on their part had saved a single person.
Carson dug his heels in. “I have to help where I can!”
“No! Did you forget the state you’re in?” John tapped Carson’s shoulder forcefully. “You’re already racing the clock!”
“I… you don’t know that. I could still have time.”
“Fine. Let’s see.”
With a growl that was almost unhuman, making John think they had less time, Carson yanked off his shirt. They both peered at the fully formed pre-scales and John could see reason return to Carson’s eyes. “I need to get back to Atlantis,” the doctor said blankly.
“Yeah, you do,” John agreed readily enough.
“But my equipment-”
“You have minions! Now move it!” Something was telling John to get going, and he was readily going with his instincts.
They’d been through the gate for barely ten minutes before Carson started feeling ill, supposedly the last sign that he had about twenty to thirty minutes before he’d actually shift for the first time. Carson would be the first dragon, but he’d start a domino of many more to come. Since the day John had been identified as the twentieth, there had been four more to show pre-scales.
He rushed Carson towards the transporter to the East Pier, which had been designated for emergences whenever possible. Though everyone had been advised that all they really needed to do was get outdoors. John realized he had picked up Rodney, Elizabeth, and several others along the way when he heard the transporter doors open again.
“Come on, guys,” he called back in exasperation, “he might want some privacy for this!”
“It’s all right, John,” Carson muttered distractedly. “Some of them will be going through this, too.”
By the time they reached the pier, Carson was half bent over clutching at his stomach, John urging him along with Rodney prodding him from the other side. Aside from the small crowd with them, almost every person about to pop scales on Atlantis had heard and was waiting.
Dr. Biro, the only medical personnel on Atlantis at the moment — the rest still being on Hoff — had also arrived and attempted to perform some kind of examination, but Carson waved the doctor away. “There’s naught wrong with me, so there’s nothing to be done. It’s time to make way. I’ll not see anyone hurt.”
John pulled the other doctor away in the middle of her protests, and ordered everyone to keep a clear distance. He noticed that Bates, Stackhouse and Markham were making sure the area was clear as well.
It was only about two minutes before Carson gasped and doubled over again. There was a funny sort of shimmer and then there was an enormous dark brown dragon lying on the pier. John was so awed by the sight, he ignored a niggle in the back of his mind about the color as he watched the enormous creature stir and make a rumbling noise.
As the dragon got to his feet, people began scrambling further back, which gave John hope for the intelligence of his expedition. Carson began nosing about the area, sniffing at people who strained away from him, even though he seemed only mildly interested in them. He paused the longest on the people who were actually emerging. He even stopped at John — and being sniffed by a dragon was one of the weirdest things that had ever happened to him.
Carson made that grumbly growly sound again as he snuffled near John, then abruptly moved on. John released a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding and slumped.
“He was really interested in you,” Rodney said breathlessly, grabbing his arm and pulling him a little further back. “I can’t believe Carson is the alpha! Can you imagine? That’s going to be so weird for you military… types.”
As Rodney continued rambling on, John was gaping after the dragon that was busily experimenting with its wings for the first time and trying to fly. Carson of all people was trying to fly.
Carson who hated to pilot the jumper, and wouldn’t sit in the control chair, and wouldn’t pick up a gun unless you forced him… Carson was going to be their alpha.
As the dragon made it into the air finally, John really wasn’t sure how he felt about the situation.
Though he sure as fuck was jealous about the flying.
– – – –
Over the next few days, John was wrapped up in a mission to trade with the Genii. Which turned into the mission to not get killed by the Genii, eventually turning into just trying to unfuck themselves before John himself sprouted scales.
When they’d set off to trade for food, John was within regulations as he still had a week before he was due to emerge, so he could go off world. By the time they were boarding the Wraith ship in search of intel for the Genii plan to sabotage the Wraith fleet, he was only a couple days away from his deadline and no longer within parameters. The only person they’d let push it so late was Beckett, but Carson hadn’t been on a spaceship. But, really, John had no choice. His team were on the line, and he sure as hell wasn’t explaining dragons to the Genii. Even if he had, he highly doubted the Genii would have been sympathetic. Assuming they even believed him.
It was frequently on his mind that dragons were emerging left right and center on Atlantis and he wasn’t there for it. That seemed wrong somehow, but he wasn’t sure why. Carson was the alpha — and that gone over like a lead balloon with Carson — and the doctor had been there for each one, so that should be all that mattered.
If John was right, there should be only the four identified after him, and two identified before him left to emerge. If things were on schedule, there were seventeen dragons on Atlantis now. Somehow that seemed like a good thing, though he wasn’t sure why. There was no evidence dragons were going to be any help whatsoever. What was a dragon supposed to do against a Wraith? A single Wraith? Maybe they could step on it. But a ship of them?
He focused on getting everyone out of this situation so he could get his team back to Atlantis and deal with his own dragon deadline. Then maybe they’d sort out what good dragons were against the lifesuckers.
– – – –
John sat cross-legged on the East Pier, arguing simultaneously with Rodney and Ford about two different subjects, which was frustrating Rodney and amusing Ford, and distracting John from his imminent dragonhood.
Teyla was also sitting with them, an indulgent smile on her face. In the just over seven days since dragons had started emerging on Atlantis, she’d only been able to see a couple, and those only recently. For Carson’s emergence, she’d been on Hoff helping the medical team, and then their team had all been on the Genii homeworld for most of the rest. She’d seen two emergences since they’d been back and she was rather quiet on the subject — other than to express her wonder the very first time.
Perhaps more importantly, the dragons seemed to be quiet on the subject of her. John had noticed that several of them gave Teyla odd looks. Bates, always a suspicious bastard in the best of circumstances, was even more suspicious of Teyla now that he had bright blue scales running down the side of his neck.
He wanted to talk to her alone about the subject at some point, but he’d decided to save it for after his own emergence because he knew she had questions about dragons and, frankly, he wasn’t one yet and thought his frame of reference might just be different after… well, just after.
It had only been about ten minutes since he’d felt stomach cramps, so he knew he had a little time yet. John just leaned back and braced his weight on his hands as Rodney and Ford began arguing with each other directly, leaving him out of it. He was glad his team was here, but the emergences were becoming old hat on Atlantis, so he hadn’t really expected anyone else to show up. Except Carson… he knew Carson would turn up.
He truly felt for Carson, even if John still wasn’t sure about the whole Carson-as-alpha thing. Granted, he didn’t understand the alpha/beta bond anyway, but it just seemed… weird. Though not as weird for him as it was for the good doctor. Beckett’d had a complete personality shift in the time John had been away dealing with the Genii, and John really didn’t know what to make of that either.
Carson was much more serious, he was territorial, and could get aggressive quite easily, especially when challenged. He also had a tendency to growl at people who annoyed him. When Elizabeth had suggested he see Heightmeyer, Carson had bared his teeth and rumbled lowly, before coming back to himself, apologizing, then stalking off. He definitely hadn’t gone to see Heightmeyer.
It was obvious to John that the military dragons were torn. They all clearly respected him as the military leader, but the dragon in them deferred to Beckett. In any given situation, whether Elizabeth liked it or not, John expected the military personnel to obey his orders over hers. Question was, would Carson expect the dragons to obey his orders over John’s or Elizabeth’s, and would they? It was a difficult situation, and John had lately come to some understanding of why Sumner had made the choices he had when staffing the expedition.
Not that John expected Carson to start countermanding his or Weir’s orders! It was just… unsettling that the loyalties of some of those under his command could possibly be so divided.
Carson was suddenly looming over them, concern leaking through his new alpha-stoic mask. “Are you all right then?”
John’s brows shot up. “Fine. Routine stuff now, right?”
“Aye. Routine.” He began to shoo away John’s team. “All of you come away now. It won’t be long and I’ll not have you getting caught by his tail like poor Corporal Matthews.”
Suddenly all the other dragons began showing up, and Elizabeth was there, too. She waved from the sidelines though she looked a bit concerned. John felt rather ridiculously on display, but he knew it wouldn’t be for much longer because the sense of something pressing on him was increasing and the stomach cramps were more intense.
He got to his feet, sensing the change was coming. For the first time, in these last few seconds, he finally let himself feel anxiety about becoming something entirely different to what he’d always known. It wasn’t that John hadn’t known he was latent, but there had never been a dragon in his family, and they all had served in the military and been involved in military action. If war was a trigger for dragon emergence, why now?
John wondered, and not for the first time, if that damn bug had something to do with it. Had the threat to his life finally been severe enough to cause the dragon blood in him to activate? And what kind of dragon would he be?
Even as he felt himself start to fade, he hoped he wouldn’t be that flaming shade of fuchsia like Dr. Keene.
– – – –
The dragon felt himself stir, head lifting from the ground slowly, blinking in the bright sunlight. He could smell many small ones nearby, some of them from his own Wing. He breathed deeply, imprinting the new scents onto his memory.
He rose up and began exploring, stopping to smell and even taste on occasion. His Wing stood carefully still for him to imprint them into his memory. Some of those who were not Wing were still those he would call kin. He memorized their scents, too. One smelled particularly good. It was making much noise and flapping its arms about as if it might fly. He sniffed it carefully, causing it to still and quiet, then moved on to catalogue the next scent.
When he has finished, he stretched out his wings, checking the feel of the leathery flesh, and the sensation of the air against them. The urge to fly was primal and he wanted nothing so much as to be in the air, riding the wind. With a few powerful movements, he pushed himself into the air.
The freedom was exhilarating as he climbed higher in the sky. Eventually he roared out his satisfaction and let out an enormous jet of flame. He continued to fly, letting instinct reign.
John attempted to push himself forward, and he and the dragon pulled at one another, each struggling to remain in control, neither willing to give ground. Their struggle could be seen in their flying as they soared and dove, then wove back and forth. No one had reported fighting so hard to get control, they said it just happened after a little time, but it wasn’t just happening for John.
He felt a growl in the back of his mind, and something in John growled back. He suddenly realized he was fighting for control of the dragon rather than trying to merge with it. Because it was daunting… giving yourself up to something that felt so primitive and wild. But as he made another glorious dive, his wings seeming to automatically know what to do, he decided that it might be the most freeing thing he’d ever do.
Only one way to find out.
All right, dragon, he thought, let’s dance.
– – – –
Exhausted, John landed on the East Pier, instinctively shifting back and feeling new and whole. His legs immediately buckled and he dropped. He distantly heard Beckett ordering everyone to stay back, then the other alpha dragon hunched down in front of John. “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
“I am?” he gasped tiredly.
“You’ve been out for three hours. No one else has been out for more than one. Not even me. What were you doing, John?”
“Wrestling with a dragon,” he muttered, flashing a grin.
After a long pause, Carson nodded. “Aye. You were at that. And in your wrestling did you happen to notice what kind of dragon you wrestled? Because I’ll tell you, while the weight of the world is not entirely off my shoulders, I’ll say I’m much happier than I was three hours ago.”
Things John knew but hadn’t really put together consciously all coalesced into his mind. He was dark red. So dark he was nearly black. So dark you could probably only tell the difference from black in the sunlight. “I’m an alpha,” he blurted out. How could he know and yet still be surprised?
“That you are. And a stronger one than me… I can feel it. So the Wing is yours, lad.”
John knew it had to be that way, but he still cringed a bit. There weren’t really enough dragons for two separate Wings. And it was weird that he knew that. “If you’d be my second, I would be honored.”
Carson nodded, truly looking like his world was much improved, and John got it. He felt a responsibility and obligation he couldn’t have fathomed three hours ago, and how could that be? He was one of the leaders of an expedition of about 120 people adrift in a galaxy far from home. How could being an alpha be more than that? But it was.
John knew that the responsibilities of leadership were not something Carson was used to, or even wanted. Not that he was truly away from it; the doctor was still an alpha, he just wasn’t the Alpha.
John started to get to his feet, but Carson was immediately there to help steady him. “You’ll feel better after you eat and rest. Emergence is tiring and so is the first flight, but generally you’ll feel more energized than you ever have.”
Before John could respond, Rodney was supporting him and haranguing him at the same time. “Sheppard! I nearly fell off the pier trying to avoid your sniffing!” That was definitely an exaggeration.
Biting his lip and trying not to laugh, though the few people still around were laughing outright, John slung an arm around Rodney’s shoulders. “Come on, Rodney… I’ll find a way to make it up to you.”
“With my luck, if I had touched you I’d have gotten some sort of dragon flu!”
“Dragons don’t get diseases, Rodney,” John replied patiently.
“I’m not a dragon! Who knows the types of bacterial colonies live under a dragon’s scales!” The more Rodney rambled, the more relaxed John began to feel.
– – – –
John found Carson on one of the balconies nearest medical. He propped himself next to the doctor and passed over the bottle of some moonshine they’d picked up in an off-world trade. They would never actually trade for liquor, but it was thrown in as a gift by some people grateful for simple medicines. It was damn hard to get a dragon inebriated, so it was more a symbolic mental lube in these circumstances.
The city had been besieged by a terrible storm and while most of the inhabitants had been evacuated off world to wait it out, the Genii had tried to take Atlantis, leaving only a small number to try to protect the city. They’d managed to muddle through it, like they always did, but Carson was clearly struggling with his own actions during the siege.
At his heart, Carson was still a peaceful civilian, but he was now at his core also a protective alpha dragon who saw his Wing threatened by an invading force. Instinct had won over a lifetime philosophy, and Carson Beckett had showed the invading soldiers no mercy when he’d encountered them.
“I nearly killed Sora,” Carson finally murmured, passing the bottle back to John.
The Genii soldier had stunned Beckett briefly while Teyla and Carson were making their way to the jumper bay, and then started to battle with Teyla. Carson had subsequently put her down. Hard.
“She was an enemy combatant intent on murder who aided in the takeover of our city. She helped torture the iris deactivation code from an Athosian. She wasn’t an innocent, Beckett,” John said firmly but without any anger.
“I don’t know my own strength, and even if I did, I’m not suited for this,” Carson finally said, sounding defeated.
John blew out a breath, not sure what to say. As much as Beckett had been happy to throw the alpha responsibility back in John’s lap, Carson couldn’t really escape it. He still would feel responsible for the Wing, especially if John were absent or in danger. Which is exactly what had happened today.
“This is taking us all by surprise, Carson. You’re not alone in being wrong-footed. I was just getting used to the idea of the responsibility of this expedition, and somehow this dragon thing is more. We’re all still trying to figure out where we fit, and how. Give yourself time.”
They talked for a long time, and they probably should have saved the liquor for someone who could actually get drunk. By the time the sun came up, things seemed a little easier to bear, the alpha responsibility a little less burdensome, and the dragon nature a bit easier to accept.
– – – –
“Lay off Teyla, Bates,” John bit out as soon as the door closed.
“I can’t!” the sergeant bit back. “Base security is my job.”
“I know! But you were better and lately you’ve gotten worse again, and she’s done nothing to warrant it. In fact, she helped save the city after the Genii tried to take it while everyone was off world.”
Bates just looked frustrated, and John could tell there was more going on than Bates trying to be a dick.
John slouched back against the wall. “Bates… Dean, just talk to me. What’s the problem?” Teyla was his teammate, but Bates was Wing, and something was up.
“You really don’t feel it? The dragon in you saying there’s something not right?” The arrogance and pugnaciousness had faded, and Bates just seemed confused and maybe a little lost.
“Yeah, I do feel it. And usually I’m all for following my instincts, but sometimes I gotta go with logic. Beckett and I have talked about it, and for all we know, a lot of stuff in this galaxy could set off the dragon’s instincts.
“Clearly this galaxy is setting off something in the dragon gene, because we’re emerging all over the place. Dragons have never been here before, and we can’t go off half-cocked every time something makes us uncomfortable. We’re learning, so be patient with yourself. I’m not saying don’t follow your instincts, but when you ultimately can’t follow that up with facts, you need to control the dragon and assert the human in you. Teyla has given you plenty of reasons to trust her and no reason not to.”
Bates nodded, and despite the fact that there had been no resolution, he looked like he felt much better. John made a mental note to spend more time with the betas who were in critical roles in the city. He was already feeling stretched thin, but this couldn’t be ignored. His betas needed time with him. Period.
– – – –
Since becoming a dragon, John was accustomed to flying every moment he could, so it was nearly instinct to shift to his dragon form as he came running from the crashed Wraith ship, pursuing the Wraith fleeing on foot.
They’d been in space investigating an Ancient satellite with a weapons platform when they’d detected a distress beacon from the planet, which turned out to be a Wraith supply ship that had crashed ten thousand years ago. Dr. Abrams had been fed on and Dr. Gall was wounded, but John had left Rodney to protect the wounded beta while John went after the fleeing Wraith.
John quickly closed the gap on the Wraith and came down on top of it.
Okay, that’s disgusting, he thought. He would forever remember the feel of Wraith squished underfoot, though he fervently wished he could wipe that memory from existence.
Once he had scraped off as much Wraith carcass as he could on a nearby rock, he flew back to the ship. Back in human form, he could still smell squished Wraith, dammit. Yuck!
He found Rodney and Gall in the same place, Gall looking pained and battered, but alert. The Wraith had beaten him for information after killing Abrams.
“Well?” Rodney immediately asked.
“Dead,” John retorted succinctly. “How’s Gall?” Instead of looking at Rodney, he hunched down in front of his beta, peering at him closely, noting the most serious injury was an obviously broken leg.
“Injured,” Rodney responded dryly. “The Wraith had just enough time to seriously hurt him. He needs to get back to Atlantis.”
“No. He needs to be outside and shift. He’ll heal in a few hours. At least mostly.” He addressed Gall. “Is your back hurt, or can I carry you out?”
“I’m fine.” Dr. Gall nodded encouragingly, obviously wanting to be outside.
Once John had the beta away from the ship and in a clearing, he got Rodney to back away and waited for Gall to shift, leaving a bright green dragon in the intense sun. Gall visibly sagged with relief and promptly fell asleep. John really wanted to berate him for not fighting the Wraith better. He had no doubt that even betas were a strength match for a Wraith, so there was no reason for a dragon to be so tortured by one Wraith. But Gall was a civilian, and even though he had strength and enhanced senses, he didn’t know what to do with them.
Feeling that this was a personal failure, John immediately resolved that all the civilians would increase their training in self-defense. But his betas, and even his subordinate alpha, would be put through the wringer until their first reaction to a Wraith was not to just cringe and let it beat them. It would be to kill them.
“Sheppard!” Rodney barked.
“What?” he asked, glancing at his teammate in bemusement.
“Don’t give me that look. I called your named repeatedly, and there’s information that you missed in your mad flight to chase the Wraith. Gall said that the Wraith first tried to torture the information out of him by feeding on him, but when it didn’t work, it became enraged.” Rodney was giving him a pointed look.
“It didn’t work? What do you mean, ‘it didn’t work’?” he asked, utterly confused.
“I mean, it couldn’t feed on him. Gall said it specifically asked, ‘what are you?’ Now isn’t that interesting. Dragons are immune to the Wraith.”
John looked over at Gall sharply; the beta was still sleeping. “We don’t know that. This is one isolated case.”
Rodney threw up his hands. “What else could it be?”
“You’re the scientist, McKay! The point is that one case isn’t definitive and you know it.” Before Rodney could argue with him further, he interjected, “We’ll argue about it later. I’m going back for Abrams’ body.”
John walked off. He was frustrated, though it wasn’t really Rodney’s fault. Rodney was not only his teammate, the alpha dragon in him saw Rodney as kin… as an extension of his Wing, and even as more than that. Rodney arguing was just Rodney being Rodney, but the dragon in John expected even kin of the Wing to put the Wing first. The only way to test McKay’s theory was to put a dragon in the path of a Wraith feeding and that was not putting the Wing first. To be fair, McKay hadn’t exactly suggested that, but John had gone there, and it made the alpha in him… annoyed.
As he stood over the desiccated corpse of Dr. Abrams, he let the what-if of the situation wash over him. What if he’d left Rodney with Gall and taken Abrams with him? Gall, who cringed from the Wraith rather than fight it? The human in him felt stirrings of guilt that he was relieved that it was Dr. Abrams who’d fallen to the Wraith feeding, but the dragon in him felt nothing of the sort. The idea of Rodney dying for any reason caused the dragon in him to nearly go crazy. John wasn’t sure what to do with that or what it even meant.
Every day he learned more about balancing his dragon nature with the human in him, and he knew it was going to take time. They just didn’t usually seem to have an overabundance of time to figure things out since arriving in Pegasus.
– – – –
“I have received multiple complaints from the civilians about the training regimens you have put into place, Major,” Elizabeth said as soon as they got the meeting under way.
“And I really don’t care,” John said, somewhat flippant in his tone, but dead serious all the same. Carson and Rodney were also present but both remained silent for the moment.
“Major,” she said giving him a stern look.
“Forget it,” he said sharply, bringing her up short. “We were overly lax for too long. We had basic qualifications for firearms and defense that were not reinforced for civilians. And if you want to overrule me for the non-dragons, I don’t have much say in the matter, but those in my Wing, and on my team,” he said shooting a sharp look at Rodney, “will continue with their training.”
“Major,” she tried again, “John… these are not soldiers. They’re scientists and engineers and medical personnel. They’re not prepared for this.”
“You’re not talking me out of it. If they’re a dragon, they’re training. And it’s my opinion that you’re doing a disservice to the rest of the civilians to let them be so unprepared out there. When we met up with that Wraith on that abandoned planet nearly five weeks ago, Abrams and Gall were sitting ducks. In subsequent weeks, we’ve learned that even a beta is superior in strength to a Wraith, yet Gall got his ass handed to him. We’ve also confirmed that dragons are impervious to feeding, so in a one-on-one confrontation with a Wraith, there is no excuse for a dragon to come out of it with serious injury. Fear and lack of training are the issues.
“I can’t do much about the former, but I promise you, I’ll be doing something about the latter. And as for the human civilians, every single one of them needs a better strategy when confronted by danger than to panic or freeze.” Fortunately they’d managed to keep the secret of dragons on Atlantis confined to the city or the Athosians, but they’d had one confrontation off world where a Wraith had attempted to feed on Stackhouse. The Wraith hadn’t succeeded, and Stackhouse had made mincemeat of it without even thinking of shifting. The natives had been justifiably confused.
“That’s not fair,” Rodney jumped in.
“Isn’t it?” John relented a little in the face of Rodney’s indignation. “Rodney, I’m not talking about you or quite a few of your people. You are remarkably levelheaded under pressure. But do we need to revisit what happened with the nanovirus outbreak a month ago? Does me chasing Peterson all over the place ring any bells?” In that mess, they’d also learned that the dragons among them were impervious to the nanovirus, which hadn’t been a surprise considering it had already been known that most viruses didn’t affect them. Dragons were impervious to a lot of dangers in Pegasus. Too bad it didn’t stop the Wraith from blowing them up from space.
Frustrated, John rubbed the back of his neck. “We need to train some of this reflexive panic out of the civilian members, and even some of the military. And the dragons will damn well keep to the combat training because a member of my Wing will never again get worked over by a Wraith like Dr. Gall did.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Major, you can’t–”
“I agree with Major Sheppard,” Beckett interjected.
“You agree?” Elizabeth said incredulously.
“Dr. Weir, I understand you’re concerned about the mental health of the civilians, but the whining you’re hearing is not indicative, in my professional opinion, of any significant mental health issues. I’d rather see the entire expedition better prepared, but if you don’t agree, I fully support Major Sheppard in seeing his Wing more ably trained.” When she seemed set to respond, he added, “Perhaps we can discuss it privately after the meeting? I know we have a full agenda already.”
John appreciated Beckett trying to intercede with Elizabeth, but John needed to be able to come to terms with her on Wing matters. Still, he let the matter slide. For now.
She conceded and the meeting moved on. “Any more expedition members with pre-scales since your last report?”
Carson nodded and John groaned. They’d blown the curve by so much it was ridiculous. “Grodin and Kusanagi, though she is just barely, which puts us up to thirty-one military and eleven civilian.”
Rodney nodded, “So we’re right at that forty percent number for the civilians, but we’re at seventy-five percent of the latent military?” He whistled lowly. “What is Earth going to make of that if we can ever make contact?”
“Perhaps dragon blood is much more… aggressive, if you will, when the consequences of not emerging is to get eaten,” Carson said dryly.
“Interesting scientific method you have,” Rodney snarked. Some of the snark was a little bit of Rodney’s resentment that he himself hadn’t emerged, even though he loudly and frequently professed that he did not want to be a dragon. Truthfully, it was confusing why Rodney hadn’t emerged, as he was as much on the front lines as anyone.
As Beckett and McKay began to argue, John considered Carson’s flip question more seriously. What was it about the Wraith that caused the dragon gene to activate so aggressively? Nothing humans had ever experimented with had ever had any effect on it whatsoever. And yet, within a couple weeks in the Pegasus galaxy, a huge percentage of the latent humans started popping pre-scales. It was a mystery. One they talked about frequently and he wasn’t sure they’d ever solve.
Elizabeth finally halted the arguing. “Dr. Beckett, I know we’ve discussed it before, but I just want to clarify, are you sure we’re not seeing any sign of omega emergences?”
Carson emphatically shook his head. “No, and as I’ve said, I wouldn’t expect to. While war zones seem to affect betas, and to a small degree alphas as well, there’s nothing to suggest omegas would be triggered in such away. It’s been speculated the opposite might even be true. Plus the odds of one in our population… well, they’re astronomical.”
– – – –
John knew Atlantis needed power. If he hadn’t known that, he’d never have been working with off-world treasure hunters trying to find a ZPM. It was because of how important power was that he was still standing there while his gut was saying to get his ass back to Atlantis, that something wasn’t right back home.
He let the conversation drone on as he tried to get a bead on his unease. It was definitely coming from his dragon side, he knew that much. Suddenly, he remembered hearing rumors about alphas who almost had a sixth sense about danger. It wasn’t all alphas, but from what he remembered, it was remarkably accurate for the ones who had it.
Deciding to stop second-guessing himself, he said, “Pack it up. We need to check in with Atlantis.”
He had a protracted argument with Rodney, but finally got everyone moving with the assurance that they’d be back immediately if there was no issue, and as soon as possible if there was a problem back home. Rodney really wanted to remain behind, but there was no way Rodney was staying without John. Maybe it wasn’t rational, but that was the way it had to be. Every time they got separated on a mission, the dragon in John went crazy. Which was slightly odd since it didn’t go completely off its rocker over Ford or Teyla being out of pocket. As they dialed Atlantis, he pushed the thought away, deciding to deal with it another time.
When they made contact, he found out that a Wraith Dart was incoming within twenty minutes and John knew he needed to be the one to meet that incoming ship.
When the short battle came, he had the satisfaction of personally shooting the Dart to pieces as it was scanning the city.
He made mental note to get Markham some more flight time. Without dragon reflexes, he doubted the sergeant would have been able to avoid the shot from the Wraith, and he needed his pilots to be better prepared to go up against a single Dart. This would not be the last skirmish they’d encounter, of that he was certain.
For some reason, he still felt unsettled about the city, but Rodney managed to convince him it was just “residual anxiety” and they needed to get back to hunting for the ZPM.
In the end, however, they didn’t get the ZPM, and there wasn’t a damn thing John could do about it. It was incredibly frustrating when he was in dire circumstances that being a dragon was of absolutely no use. They’d been trapped in an underground bunker, so he couldn’t shift. Then when they’d been losing the ZPM, he’d have risked hurting his own people or breaking the ZPM if he’d shifted. Not that he ever planned to step on humans to get them to cooperate.
Just scare ‘em a little. Maybe.
– – – –
John launched himself out of bed, managing to get his sidearm, uncaring of anything except getting to whatever was threatening his Wing. He encountered Teyla in the hallway and she went on alert as soon as she saw him. Breathing deeply, he took inventory with his senses.
“Major Sheppard? What is it?” she asked warily.
“What are you doing up?” he asked, giving her only a fraction of his attention. He heard nothing, but he really didn’t like what he was smelling.
“I could not sleep and thought to walk a bit.” He knew she’d been sleeping poorly for a while now, though she would only speak about it in the most vague terms.
“There’s a Wraith in the city,” he hissed lowly. “Gear up.” He went back to his quarters to pull on his own gear, putting in his radio and issuing orders.
It didn’t take long to run the Wraith down. The scent trail was fresh, easy to follow, and even though John hadn’t asked for him, Carson had met him for the hunt, the other alpha focused and unusually aggressive. Despite the fact that both alphas would rather kill the Wraith, they locked it up. The Wraith seemed somewhat unsettled by the hunting party so clearly willing to get up close with it and also much stronger than it could handle. John was starting to take perverse satisfaction in unsettling the Wraith.
The briefing was a little harder. The best guess was that the Wraith had beamed down when they thought it was scanning the city, and it had been hiding in a remote section out of dragon sensory range… even an alpha’s. John had only detected it when it began to perform reconnaissance and venture into the city at night.
They also thought it was why Teyla had been having nightmares for more than a week. Teyla wanted to look into that more closely… her connection to the Wraith. Elizabeth thought it was low priority, but John didn’t agree. Even though the Wraith were practically on their doorstep and they should focus on an impending invasion, his gut said they needed to find out what was going on with Teyla.
He’d pushed the dragon instinct aside in regards to Teyla from day one. Starting now, that was over.
– – – –
“Major Sheppard?” Teyla’s voice drifted out over the night air.
“Hello, Teyla. Come sit a spell,” John offered. At night, the damage to the city wasn’t as readily apparent as it was during the daylight, and John was enjoying a few moments of peace after the incredible stress of the previous few days.
She took a seat next to him. After a protracted silence, she finally said, “You have changed greatly.”
Turning his head from his contemplation of the sea, he looked at her serene profile. “That’s not exactly what I was expecting to hear.”
“And yet it is the truth.” She hesitated before saying, “I know you grieve for Aiden; I do as well. But I hope you realize how little was lost today because of you.”
“I don’t think I had as much to do with it as you think. You’re the one who was willing to let us dig into your past and find out you had Wraith DNA, and then connect into their slimy little brains, getting us the intel we needed.” The whole idea was horrifying.
“This is true, but if there were not dragons on this city, many more would have died this day,” she said with conviction.
“I didn’t make the dragons emerge, Teyla. It doesn’t have anything to do with me.” Actually, Carson theorized it might have more to do with Teyla herself. The threat in general of the Wraith was a factor, but he wondered what effect the Wraith DNA she carried had on them from the moment she came on Atlantis. Was her very presence why such a large number had emerged? Exacerbated by the times the Wraith themselves had been on the city?
John and Carson had talked it over exhaustively, but had ultimately decided to keep the theories to themselves. He was pretty sure he’d seen the light of realization in Rodney’s eyes, who had uncharacteristically said nothing.
“You are their leader. You are the one who ensured they learned not to run from the Wraith. You taught them to use their senses to search them out, and let the hunter become the hunted.” There was a vicious satisfaction in her tone that John found kind of hot. “It was you who ensured that every team securing the city had a at least one military-trained dragon on it. My people were not fed upon this day because dragons were with them.”
John felt his face heat a bit and looked back out over the water. “It’s just good tactics. We have enough dragons to go around.” They continued to learn what the dragons’ limitations were. And when it came to up close confrontation with the Wraith, there weren’t many.
The dragons had found that they were mildly impervious to the Wraith stunner; the first blast was like a mild electric jolt but not incapacitating. It took three shocks to bring a beta down and that for only about half an hour. John had volunteered to be stunned, and it had taken three to put him on his knees, and five to knock him out for a whole fifteen minutes. Of course, in their shifted form, they were completely impervious. It didn’t even tickle.
“Good tactics are useless without the training you insisted on. Even all your civilian dragons survived this day because they knew to fight the Wraith,” Teyla insisted. “And you persuaded Dr. Weir to continue training the non-dragon civilians, so even though Dr. Kusanagi and Dr. Grodin emerged shortly before the Wraith attacked, they were just as prepared for the battle as the other dragons.”
Miko Kusanagi had been a surprise. Atlantis’ third alpha, and easily the most vicious thing on Atlantis. He’d barely had time to talk to her, but he’d sensed she and Carson were similar strength wise, though she was embracing the dragon’s aggression in ways Carson likely never would. From the reports John had heard, she’d dismembered more than one Wraith and even ripped the heads off of two. A newly emerged alpha was settling their instincts for the first week. Perhaps not the best time to throw one into war. He’d have to be sure to find her as soon as things settled down some and make sure she was adjusting.
He considered everything Teyla had said. “But people still died. My people, your people.”
“But not as food! And not as many as would have without your leadership, and the sacrifice you were willing to make,” she insisted.
He blew out a breath, not wanting to go into it. “I heard reports that that the culling beam didn’t pick up dragons either. Any idea why?”
“It seems logical that the beam does not see you as human. If the beam picked up anything living, they would pick up a large amount of livestock and wild animals, creatures they cannot feed on and have no use for. Perhaps it is simply a ‘setting’ for their beam and they need a sample of your DNA. But I would defer the answer to those more learned than myself,” she hedged. John made a note to make sure the Wraith didn’t get a hold of dragon DNA but also to put the question to the science team.
She laid a hand on his arm. “As I said earlier, you have changed. I see some of your joy in life diminished and replaced with the burden of responsibility. It is my hope to see that joy returned to you in some measure, for you are a good man, and a good leader, John Sheppard, and I am proud to serve with you.” She tipped her head forward, and after a hesitation, he let their foreheads touch. John’s dragon would always growl a bit about the Wraith in Teyla, but since they had discovered why she tweaked the dragon, it had been easier to set that part at ease.
The discussion with his teammate had made him feel a little more grounded. It didn’t ease the grief of losing Aiden to his own Wraith enzyme addiction, but it helped. He belatedly realized there was something missing and that something was Rodney.
Before he could rest and call this day done, he needed to talk to his scientist.
– – – –
Unsurprisingly, he found Rodney in a lab typing away at a laptop and peering at a console. He looked strung out and exhausted.
“Rodney, what are you doing?”
“I’d think that would be obvious, Major. The city is damaged… repairs have to be started, I need to prepare a model for the life expectancy of the ZedPM, there’s a problem with–”
John gripped Rodney by his upper arms and gave him a gentle shake, which considering John’s strength, was a bit more teeth rattling than he’d intended. “Stop, Rodney. You haven’t slept in days; Beckett was keeping you going on stimulants! You did good, okay? It’s time to rest. You and Zelenka and Grodin carried more of the burden than anyone else on your team. If anything comes up, someone else can handle it. Kusanagi can deal with it. She needs much less sleep than the rest of you. For that matter, Zelenka and Grodin need less sleep than you.”
“No! No… We’d be lost without you, we admit it, okay? But we can get through a day so you can get some rest.”
“I have to–” Rodney broke off abruptly and blinked in surprise. “Are you growling at me?”
“Yes!” Sighing, John looked around for a good place to sit but found only a couple lab stools. He maneuvered them until they were sitting by the wall, shoulder to shoulder, Rodney grousing about sitting on the floor but not resisting. “Tell me what’s going on.”
John really wasn’t used to these sort of heart-to-hearts, and he wasn’t comfortable with them by any stretch of the imagination, but Rodney was vital to him in some way he wasn’t going to think too closely about. Plus, it seemed like it needed to be done and he was here.
After a long silence, he finally asked, “Is it Ford?” The whole of the original expedition was reeling from Aiden Ford, a well-liked and integral part of Atlantis, suddenly going crazy and disappearing through the ‘Gate at the end of the Wraith attack.
“Yes. No. I don’t know.” Rodney shrugged and just looked uncomfortable.
Mentally going over the last few days, John reviewed everything Rodney had been through. “Is it Kavanagh?”
At Rodney’s flinch, John realized he’d stumbled onto the right answer, though he wasn’t sure exactly why Kavanagh dying on that satellite was upsetting Rodney so much. Many had died in the attack, and Rodney and Kavanagh barely spoke civilly to each other on a good day. John felt like a callous bastard for dismissing a death so readily, but too many had died in the last few days. He was grieving over Aiden, he wasn’t grieving over Kavanagh.
“Tell me what’s going on, Rodney,” he prompted a little more gently. “Why is Kavanagh driving you like this?”
“I know I’m not the easiest person to work with, okay?” Rodney finally said sounding both exasperated and flustered.
“Well, neither was he, so you’re even.”
Rodney gave him a why-do-I-put-up-with-you look before continuing. “I don’t even know the names of half my staff and we’ve been here for almost nine months. What…” he trailed off.
Nudging Rodney with his elbow, he encouraged him to just spit it out. “I’m not going to judge whatever you have to say. Me least of all. I have my share of shitty habits and have done some really questionable things.”
Taking a deep breath, Rodney blurted out, “What does it say about me that I’m relieved it was Kavanagh with us?”
Blinking in astonishment, John took a moment to mull that over. He must be pretty damned tired, because it took him a moment to get it. “You mean instead of Grodin?”
Rodney shrugged, but John knew that meant yes.
Dr. Grodin had been the best choice to go on that mission but he’d been three days from emerging and had been ineligible for what could easily be at least two days in space, so they’d had to go with a second choice. Which had been Dr. Kusanagi, but she had also been close to emerging, though about a day later than Dr. Grodin, and Elizabeth hadn’t been willing to chance it. So Kavanagh had gone. And he’d died on the satellite when it had come under Wraith fire.
“Don’t twist it around. You’re relieved Peter Grodin is alive, not relieved that Kavanagh is dead. There’s a distinction,” John stressed.
“When that satellite blew, my first thought was thank god Grodin is confined to Atlantis. That shouldn’t have been my first thought. Kavanagh was an ass, but he deserved better than that. And at the end, he knew he was taking a huge risk to stay on that weapons’ platform.”
John suddenly got that Rodney probably didn’t have a lot of experience with guilt. It was painful, after all, the process of becoming a real boy. Rodney started to open up, and John tried to just listen without judgment.
The days ahead were going to be difficult and John had no idea what was coming. Stargate Command had yet to comment on their incredibly high emergence rates, and he had no idea if there would be any intervention. More soldiers and civilians had been reported as having pre-scales in the wake of the battle, both from Atlantis and from the Daedalus.
Their orders were to repair, regroup, and eventually Elizabeth was to report back to the SGC with whatever senior staff she wanted to accompany her. The tentative plan was for that trip through the gate to take place in six weeks. She’d already invited John to go with her, though he didn’t know how he felt about leaving his city or his Wing. She planned to take Rodney, and that was also a factor as far as John was concerned.
A sudden weight against his shoulder and a cessation of sound alerted John that his scientist had finally succumbed to his body’s demands for some much needed rest. Sitting on the floor wasn’t really the best way to go about it, but as John felt his own tension finally start to ease, he decided that, for now, it was good enough.
– – – –
John and Rodney’s Story will be continued in Emergence, Episode 01: Contact – Coming Soon