SGA Rising

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Episode 3: Trust

John strolled casually into the gate room, casting a glance around the bright, well-lit space. Expedition members occupied various parts of the open area, chatting, carrying datapads and moving unconcernedly past the armed Marines locked into their posts by the entrances and exits.

Above him, Rodney was moving about the control room, snapping his fingers every few seconds or so and barking orders to Zelenka, Chuck and a couple of the other technicians. Since the landing, McKay had been working tirelessly to make sure all systems—most particularly the cloak and shield—were fully repaired and functional in case they were needed and that the remaining ZPM was being used in the most conservative way possible. Given the unfortunate loss of their full ZPM battery by the Wormhole Drive malfunction and the accidental drop into the Wraith armada—not to mention the less-than-delicate landing—the City had taken something of a beating and was in serious need of some TLC. It was essential, actually, if they were going to remain here.

Ah, Pegasus. Home Sweet Home.

He couldn’t help but smile.

The gate lit up, signaling someone’s arrival, though there was no great scramble at the gate console. Woolsey emerged from his office, moving to the bridge as the Marines hoisted their weapons in preparation for the arriving guests.

The gate exploded into life, the shimmering pool settling into its customary wall of blue. A second’s pause and the material parted to admit four visitors, the leader of whom smiled broadly upon sight of him.

“Colonel Sheppard.” Mayel Serrana offered him a nod of her head. She looked pretty, with her auburn hair tumbling about her shoulders and her full health restored. It helped that he could observe her in a time of peace rather than running for their lives or in the middle of a huge Wraith battle.

“Commander Serrana.”

“You seem to be healing well.” She gestured to his forehead, where the cut from his experience during the Coalition battle with the Wraith Armada was still visible, though fading.

His hand flitted upwards subconsciously. “Well, I had a good nurse.”

Someone behind her coughed and she jumped a bit, which John found amusing. He got the impression that flirty bantering wasn’t a part of her normal repertoire.

“Um, Colonel Sheppard,” she said as she moved to the side, extending her hand towards the remainder of her party. “Allow me to present Caris of Riva and Santho of Hoff. I believe you know Shiana, of the Tribes of Santhal.”

John’s eyes narrowed a little as the petite brunette moved forward, her chin raised. “We’ve met.”

Mayel’s smile quirked a little. “They will be speaking on behalf of the Coalition for this meeting,” she said, her eyes moving towards the Atlantis staircase. “Mr. Woolsey.”

“Commander Serrana,” Woolsey replied, extending his hand towards her as he drew near. “It is a pleasure to see you again. And you as well, Shiana.”

Woolsey’s much more polite response drew a reserved nod from the Santhalan. “Mr. Woolsey.”

“We welcome you all to Atlantis. Please, follow me.” Woolsey took a few steps forward, then paused. “I thought Teyla was to join us?”

“She hasn’t returned from New New Athos.” At Woolsey’s look of chagrin, John shrugged. “What? They haven’t named it yet. Anyways, she hasn’t returned yet. Given the, um, ‘circumstances’, I don’t know when she will.”

Woolsey raised an eyebrow. “I thought she wasn’t allowed among the Athosians?”

Mayel’s face drew into a confused expression. “Teyla has been outcast?”

“Long story,” John said, looking at her for a second before returning his gaze to Woolsey. “She escorted Kanaan there. They’re trying to work out a situation to allow Torren to visit. I think the excuse Kanaan made was that as his mother she needed to be involved in the discussions. Don’t know how well that’s going to go over, though.”

As if in response to his question, the gate lit up again, only this time, with the announcement that the activation was unscheduled. The shimmering gate shield flittered into life over the active wormhole as Marines moved into ready positions around the gate floor.

“It’s Teyla’s IDC,” Chuck said, and at Woolsey’s signal lowered the shield.

The pool parted once again for Teyla, who was trailed by Kanaan. Her eyes scanned about the gate room, the expression in them forlorn and saddened. As she caught sight of the Pegasus Coalition party, that expression changed from woeful to frustrated.

John threw a glance at Woolsey. Irritated and uncooperative Teyla was not the Athosian they needed right now.

Kanaan threw out a hand to her shoulder, stopping her as she walked towards them, and whispered something into her ear. She drew away from him sharply, eyes widening, but after a moment’s pause she nodded, that woeful look returning. Kanaan’s own expression was determined, though he squeezed her shoulder gently.

“Please, forgive me,” Teyla said, her voice soft. “I do not feel well enough to attend this diplomacy session. Kanaan will stand in my place.”

“We welcome him,” Woolsey replied, almost thankfully, if John had to harbor a guess.

As Kanaan moved to join them, John met Teyla’s gaze for a moment, trying to read the emotions in her usually expressive eyes, but there was nothing there. Nothing at all.

That was frightening and more than a little disheartening. He offered up the most reassuring smile he could before jogging up the stairs to join Mayel and the rest.

Teyla remained in the center of the gate room floor, watching them until the conference room doors had closed. He could only presume she’d turned to leave after they were shut, but he could not be sure.

 

--/--

 

Teyla watched the group composed of John, Kanaan, Richard, Commander Serrana and the rest move up the stairs towards the conference room, her heart heavy.

Kanaan had commanded her to return to their rooms; not out of frustration, but out of concern. It had not qualified the surprise she had felt initially at his authoritative demeanor, but she was grateful for his will.

Above her she could see Rodney and his technicians checking the systems of the City, more than likely ensuring they were in functioning order following their return to this galaxy. Rodney always took care with such matters, making sure every little detail was perfectly in place.

She had failed in such attentiveness to her own life.

Jinto’s face haunted her mind; even now, the young man grown so old in such a short period of time could not be forgotten. She could not say that she could not understand his position; around his age she, too, had been forced into a leadership at a very daunting time. And yet, the bitterness he bore in his heart was so very different from their ways back then. She would not have been able to blame others as he now did. And his anger did not even touch that of Nevir and his group, who sought her dismissal from the tribe altogether, as though she had never been Athosian.

And yet, her mind spoke thoughts that did not blame them for their words. How had she run contrary of what they accused her? Of abandoning their people—this she had done. Of allowing the Wraith, and Michael, into their lives—this too she had done. Nothing they said could be countered by any of the actions she had taken as leader of the Athosians. She had led them, in part, to this fate, only a handful of survivors of a once great race, simply by her alliance with Atlantis.

A coldness sank into her chest and the great window before her began to blur. How could she ask for Jinto, Nevir, or anyone else, to trust her once more as leader? Even as a member of their tribe? They had suffered so much and she had done nothing to defend them. For all that she chastised the people of Earth, and of this Expedition, for their loyalty to their people, she differed in one great regard from them—they had always put their people first, and she had not.

The cold sensation deepened and for the first time, she realized she knew this feeling. It was not the abandonment she was sensing. This was something different—something more sinister. Something she had once again felt only recently.

She scrambled up the great stairs. “Rodney.”

Rodney glanced up from his console, the irritation at being interrupted replaced with concern at the sight of her face. “Uh, Teyla…what…”

“Rodney, check your sensors.” At his confused expression she leaned in towards him. “I am sensing the Wraith.”

His eyes widened. “Wraith? Where?”

“I am not certain. Close.”

“Are you sure you’re not just, you know…stressed? We did a pretty thorough scan, and there were no Wraith here,” he stated, rather stupidly, as he moved to the monitoring consoles and started pressing buttons.

She maintained her temper, forgiving Rodney his innocent inquiry. “It has been long since I have sensed them, beyond the Wraith armada, but I have not forgotten the feeling. This is the Wraith. And quite strong. Not just one. Many. Perhaps a Cruiser. Or…a Hive.”

“A Hive? That’s ridiculous. We would have…” Rodney studied his readings for a moment before his eyes widened. “Oh my God!” She watched him inquiringly as he turned to her, pointing towards a rather large white dot on the screen. “It’s a Hive!”

 

>>> Continue on to Trust, CH I

 

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