Author: kariesue, kickstand75, firedew1, mysra, amycat8733
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, just borrowing them for a bit of fun
Size: ~10,279 (this chapter)
Comments: Team Sheppard travels to Belosia where they discover the origin of the Minotaur, but with everything the Ancients did, the truth is worse than the fiction.
This week: Chapter 13 – Some Ends and New Beginnings by: mysra
Ronon stopped next to Dexcian.
“Do you think your weapon can kill it?”
Ronon looked down, his blaster a comfortable, familiar weight against his thigh. He looked up again and held up the C4. “Think we’re gonna need this.”
The Beast howled beneath the nets. Its screams could be heard from the ranks.
“I think we should get the people out,” Captain Campbell said.
“Nura, Patritus,” Dexcian barked. Two men moved from the throng of fighters around the Beast and quickly hurried over. “Clear the stands.”
“Coughlin, Walker, go help,” Campbell ordered before the two locals could leave.
Dexcian stopped the men again. “Patritus, make sure the strangers’ equipment is handed back to these two.”
“Yes,” the man in question returned.
Ronon and Dexcian returned their concentration to the Beast.
“So how we gonna do this?” Campbell asked. “Throw it and then run?”
“Nope. Last time, I stuck it on its side.”
“It survived,” Dexcian pointed out.
“That was just one block,” Ronon returned, kneeling down. “Now we have eight.”
“Uh ... what?” Campbell exclaimed, watching as Ronon activated the detonators and handed half the blocks to Dexcian. The two stored the blocks wherever they could reach them easily again.
Ronon turned to Campbell. “We’ll tr—”
“Miiiinnnnneeeeee,” the Beast’s cry interrupted. “Goooonnnneeeee.”
“Oh shit,” Campbell gasped. The Beast was pulling nets and ropes from its body, flinging its attackers to the side with new vigor.
“Get back mine,” it cried. “Mine, Mine, Miiiiiinnnnnneeeeeee.”
Ronon shuddered. The Beast turned towards the balcony. “Campbell, stay out of the way and detonate on my signal.”
He looked at Dexcian and returned the man’s grim nod.
They ran to intercept the Beast. The creature chose that same moment to start on its way to the balcony, plowing down whoever stood in its way. Ronon and Dexcian chased after it.
“Use your weapon.”
Ronon skittered to a halt and took aim. He hit the Beast mid jump and its claws missed the railing. For a moment, Ronon thought his blaster had more effect on the Beast than he’d expected, but the Beast landed steady on the ground, turned and bared its teeth at them.
Its head cocked slightly as it studied the two, its arm pressing to the side Ronon had attached the C4 before. It snarled and growled. Its right hoof scraped over the hard, sandy surface. It opened its arms, its palms towards Ronon and Dexcian. The roar shook the ground.
“Think it’s pissed,” Ronon commented dryly.
He lifted his arms and fired once more. The Beast stumbled a step back when the energy bolt hit its right shoulder. It growled.
“Try the head?” Dexcian suggested.
Ronon immediately obliged. Dexcian used the Beast’s distraction as it ducked out of Ronon’s fire path to close the distance. He jerked his head and Ronon again knew what to do. He ceased fire and Dexcian jumped the Beast, slamming the first two C4 blocks on its back. The Beast slammed into the wall behind it as Ronon snuck up on the Beast’s side. Dexcian just managed to keep it from squishing him and jumped back a step as the Beast launched after him. When it turned towards Dexcian, Ronon jumped the Beast, plastering one C4 block on the its chest and a second on his neck. The Beast spun, abruptly throwing Ronon off and away.
Dexcian jumped a few feet back, bringing some distance between him and the Beast. Again, the Beast spread his arms and let out a deafening roar. It quickly brushed over its chest. The C4 fell to the ground and the Beast kicked it at Ronon. It followed the C4’s path and all Ronon could do was dive out of the way.
It stopped right in front of Campbell, who had tried to stay out of the way.
“Now?” he yelled, the remote control clutched in his hand.
The C4 on the Beast's neck might’ve been enough to knock it out for a while, but Ronon and Dexcian still had several other blocks of armed C4 on them. Ronon opened his mouth to shout no, but he never got the chance. The Beast grabbed Campbell’s arm so fast that the marine couldn’t even react. He cried out. The Beast flung him into the wall and he crumpled to the floor, his arm bent at an awkward angle. The Beast looked at the device it had snatched.
“NOOOOO,” it hissed. It turned to Ronon and flung the object behind it with an angry snort.
There was no one left to operate it. The few surviving soldiers had left the arena after the Beast managed to free itself. The stands were empty. The Atlantis soldiers were gone too, probably making sure everyone got out safely. If there was anyone still alive down here, they pretended not to be.
Time moved at a strange speed and Ronon wasn’t sure how much had truly passed. He caught movement in the corner of his sight. Dexcian was attacking, wielding his sword. Ronon looked around. On his right lay a fallen soldier. A sword lay about a foot next to the dead man. Ronon bent down and took the sword. He sent a silent promise to avenge everyone who had died here and hurried to join the fight. They needed to get behind the Beast and to the remote control. It was their only chance.
The swords had barely an impact on the Beast. It used its arms to block the blows, not holding anything back. Dexcian fumbled for the other blocks. When the Beast struck out at him, he rolled past its legs, slapping two blocks at once on the massive limb. What he hadn’t anticipated though was that the Beast had foreseen his move and quickly turned, ignoring Ronon for a moment.
Dexcian came to his feet with with his back to the Beast.
Ronon froze - he’d seen this move before.
The Beast flexed its hand and claws sprang out. Time seemed to slow.
The Beast’s claws tore through Dexcian’s armor. There was no sound from the strong warrior. His back arched, the force of the strike forcing him onto his tiptoes. The Beast made a sound probably meant to show satisfaction as Dexcian’s frame quivered and his head fell back. He remained tense for a few more moments, but suddenly his shoulders sagged. The Beast pulled its arm back, its claws slowly sliding out of the great warrior. Blood dripped to the ground and the warrior’s white shirt turned immediately red. Dexcian fell to the ground in a lifeless heap.
Time sped up again and the Beast was on the move, turning towards Ronon flinging its arms out, showing off its claws, still dripping blood. Ronon leaped back to avoid being hit. The Beast was drawing him away from Dexcian and from the remote control too. He risked one more glance toward Dexcian who lay unmoving, blood quickly pooling on the ground beneath him.
The Beast used Ronon’s distraction and the next strike hit him across the chest. Ronon was rammed into the wall and just managed to keep his head from impacting too. He sat down heavily, and the world twirled around him as he scrambled to his feet, the pounding in his head escalating from easily ignored to unbearable. Ronon’s vision blurred. He had to rely on his hearing. The Beast moved, sniffing the air and growling.
By the time his vision cleared, the Beast had moved under the balcony again. Ronon still had his two blocks, but the remote was too far away. A thought shouted through Ronon’s befuddled mind. He pulled the blocks out and tweaked the detonator. He got up. When he remained steady, he took a few steps. He increased his speed and then broke into a full blown run, the Beast’s attention focused on the balcony.
Ronon passed the Beast and threw the two blocks under it.
He counted the seconds. “One … two … three ...”
The explosion came two seconds too soon and was much louder than he had expected. The blast wave grabbed him, propelling him forward and to the ground.
A second explosion sounded and debris showered down on Ronon. Something hit his head and then he knew nothing.
“Fuck, did you hear that?” Stackhouse asked, skipping through the jumper from his position outside the ramp.
“C4, lots of,” Cadman said.
“The sensors indicate the explosion came from the Arena.” Zelenka drew a circle in the middle of the HUD map showing the city.
“Maybe we should fly to the city?” Yamato asked.
“The Colonel said we should stay here. We’ll wait,” Stackhouse returned. “Some of our people are headed this way,” he added pointing to a few dots quickly moving away from the city center.
For a moment, everything stopped. There was no pain … only surprise. Dexcian thought of Marinel, Marcus, and his precious little girl, Astrea.
“In the moment before you die your life will replay in your mind,” his father had told him again and again. “Only if you chose right, you will find the way to the gods and there will be no pain.”
There was no pain, but he wasn’t seeing his life either. There was only darkness.
Suddenly the light changed. Dexcian blinked against it. When he finally could see again he stood in a strange room. The walls were copper and green mingling and blending into one another. There were white chairs and a sofa, a table in the middle. A small line of cupboards were lined against one wall and a table with chairs stood in front of them. He wondered where the people here cooked. A white transparent curtain fluttered softly in the breeze coming through a big window. There were no apparent doors.
Strange pictures, much clearer than any painting he had ever seen, adorned the wall to the right showing people. A couple with three children, another showed the children with an elderly couple. Before he could move closer to see if he could identify the people, a child wound its way through the curtain.
“Grandpa,” the girl yelled smiling brightly at him. “Grandma and Mama said to look for you and bring you out again.”
Dexcian looked around and then back to the little girl, who was now looking at him expectantly. Long dark curls were bouncing around the girls face. When he didn’t react, she took his hand and pulled him outside.
“Come on, Grandpa.”
The light of the sun blinded him again for a moment. When his eyes adjusted, he found himself on a balcony. Tall towers, taller than he had ever seen glistened in the sun and behind them he could see water.
He turned to the voices that finally reached his consciousness. Around a grand table sat two women.
His gaze snapped to the grey-haired woman seated next to a younger. He recognized her right away. Though she looked aged, for him she still was the most beautiful woman in the world.
The woman next to her wore a uniform he had never seen before, grey with yellow patches on the chest. He studied her face and all doubt if he knew her or not vanished. Astrea was as beautiful as her mother, though she didn’t look exactly the same.
“Mama,” the young girl shouted and the two women turned to look at Dexcian. Marinel’s eyes brightened upon seeing him.
The girl let go of Dexcian’s hand and bounded away again, yelling she was going to play with someone named Siobhan. Strange name.
The young woman stood and moved to him. “Father,” she said. “I just said to mother how happy I am that you decided to stay a bit with us here on Atlantis.”
“Atlantis?” Dexcian mumbled.
His daughter laughed. What a sweet tune.
“Yes, Father, Atlantis,” she returned, shaking her head slightly.
“Mommy,” another voice, this sounding like a boy, called from inside.
Astrea chuckled again. “I’ll be right back. I don’t have to be at work for another hour, so we have time to enjoy breakfast. Marcus will be here too shortly.”
Dexcian turned as his eyes followed her on her way inside. He was stunned. His daughter was a grown woman with her own children. But from the way she looked at him and she stood - tall and confident - he knew she had been raised as an equal woman like Teyla Emmagan. And apparently she had an occupation and was working outside of her home. The way she had said it she had sounded like a man.
A soft hand on his arm startled him from his musings.
“Do you not feel well?” Marinel asked, her eyes concerned.
“I feel tired,” Dexcian quickly evaded.
Marinel’s eyes brightened as she gave a small nod. She led him over and the two sat down at the table. Dexcian let his gaze wander over the city. There seemed to be water all around. He took a deep breath and the smell of salt filled his nostrils. He had always loved the sea.
“Thank you,” Marinel suddenly said into the quiet. He turned to her, realizing she had been watching him the whole time.
“For giving us this life.” She lifted her arm, motioning around. “I remember the day our little girl was born.” She glanced down for a moment, but then she peered up, looking him straight in the eyes. “I felt like I had failed you.”
Dexcian wanted to stop her, but she silenced him, putting her hand on his mouth. Dexcian was stunned how easily that motion came and remained quiet, listening.
“I know that you didn’t see it that way. Still, there was little hope. I couldn’t have hoped for a better husband and that’s why I wanted to thank you, for sending me away and for giving Astrea this life where she’s equal to her husband and brother. Where she could become a master of science.” She swallowed hard. Her voice was proud. “Thank you that you made me equal to you,” she added softly. Her eyes once searching his. “You were right to send us away all those years ago.”
Dexcian studied Marinel. The way she looked at him - proud and self-secure. There was no hint of the fear he had seen once in a while in her eyes, even after they had been married for years. His wife had changed and for the better.
Dexcian could sit here forever. Maybe this was his afterlife.
All of a sudden pain exploded in Dexcian’s chest. Marinel called his name as he fell into darkness. He longed to stay with her, but he was just so tired. He would give in for now.
At first he didn’t realize that he was awake again. He closed his eyes and opened them again. He didn’t know how much time had passed, but he was no longer in that world which he had so wanted to stay. He felt the hard sandy ground of the arena under him and above he could see the sky. Every breath hurt in sync with his back and chest.
What a nice dream.
He fervently hoped it would come true, though he would not be there to see his daughter grow into the beautiful woman he had seen.
He closed his eyes for a moment. The sounds of fighting had decreased dramatically, but there was still a fight. He heard a growl.
He had a promise to fulfill.
He opened his eyes and tried to look around. Every move tore agony through his whole being and brought tears to his eyes. He tried to figure out where the Beast was and where Ronon was. And then he saw it. The thing Ronon had given to the other fighter. This was what he needed to kill the Beast.
He watched the object. It was so close and yet so far away. He took a breath that morphed into a painful cough. Something wet pooled in his mouth and he tasted blood on his lips. Still he had to reach it.
He heard a grunt and knew it had to be Ronon. He was still fighting. He could have left long ago, but he hadn’t. This thought spurred Dexcian into action. He turned and pulled himself over the ground inch by inch. Only a hair’s breadth separated him from the object when black shrouded his vision.
Once more, the picture of Marinel and their children flashed before his eyes. This gave him one last push. Somehow, he managed to bring his arms under him and propel himself forward. He grabbed the object and landed on his back again, grunting in pain. He studied the object for a moment. There was a red lid on the side. He pushed it open and found a silver pin underneath. He hadn’t much time, so he just moved it.
In a blink of the eyes, a loud bang reverberated around him and debris rained down on him. The first explosion was shortly followed by a second, and then silence reigned. Something heavy impacted next to Dexcian. He turned his head and found part of one of the Beast’s leg.
They had killed it.
He didn’t have the strength to look around further to find out what had happened to Ronon, or if there were any survivors.
He turned his head away from the still smoking piece and looked into the ever darkening sky. He could make out the first moon taking over for the sun. Breathing became more and more difficult, but he didn’t fight it. He had fulfilled his promise. He let darkness claim him again in the hope to travel back to the heavenly place where his family was waiting.
Something pulled him back to consciousness, though he didn’t know what or how long he had been out this time. The air moved strangely around him, and in his mind he heard voices, but he knew they couldn’t be there. All he wanted to do was close his eyes and see his wife.
A strange sound filled the night air. Out of nowhere, a grey object appeared obscuring his view. He tried to move up in his surprise, but the movement again sent agonizing pain through his whole being and finally threw him into darkness. He never even noticed the men sitting next to him.
John felt like he’d run for hours, though only a few minutes had passed. They had made a wild dash into Ducis’ mansion, where they’d run down a ridiculously long corridor and then down a flight of stairs, only to run back about the same distance and down another flight of stairs. John hadn’t been aware just how big the mansion actually was.
Along the way, guards had tensed and jumped into action, only to be told to stand down and hold their posts by Cornias. Down here, there was nothing to see of the fading daylight. Torches and oversized candles lit the corridor, bathing it in soft light.
They neared a corner and John hoped they had reached their destination. Black spots started to dance before his eyes and the last thing he needed was to pass out right before they found Teyla. Cornias skittered to a halt right before the corner.
John fought hard to keep from doubling over. Aware that Lorne watched him, one eyebrow raised.
“I’m fine,” John ground out between panting breaths.
Lorne handed him his field bottle wordlessly. But John shook his head and then quickly moved ahead to Cornias. He motioned to John, and the two spied around the corner.
“There,” he said, pointing at the next corner. “One turn left and another right. There’s another meeting hall, though it’s not used any more. The door is in the back. There are a few columns we can use as cover.”
“Good,” John said. He looked down at himself and decided to finally get rid of his toga. Cornias turned back and whispered orders to his men.
“I think you should drink something, sir,” Lorne finally said in a low voice, pressing the water bottle into John’s hand. John smirked and took it, taking only a few chaste sips. Lorne had also shucked off his toga. John handed the bottle back when Cornias moved closer.
“We go first,” Cornias said. John watched as the group of soldiers parted, one part moving ahead while the other took position, facing the way they had come. “We have to be very quiet,” Cornias added his gaze serious. “The corridor is especially designed to transport any sound into the hall. It is a defense mechanism and those in the hall will be alerted to our approach immediately.”
John nodded his understanding. The soldiers ahead shrugged out of their sandals. He looked at Lorne, who shrugged but bent down and started to open his laces. John looked down at his boots, and with a small sigh, bent down too. He needed to lean against the wall to keep from falling over, and when he was done, he found Lorne’s hand extended to help him up. He accepted the help.
“Thanks,” he breathed, once he was standing again and the world had stopped moving.
Cornias and his men started around the corner. John rolled his eyes. The speed they were going, they’d take days to reach the other side of the corridor.
“We need medical assistance ASAP,” Campbell’s voice burst over the com and John startled at the sudden noise, even though he knew that the voice didn’t carry past his ear. “We have two men down.” Campbell’s voice sounded strained too and John wondered if he was included in that list or not.
“We’re right above you in Jumper 2,” Ramirez voice returned immediately.
John’s thoughts stumbled for a moment. He had ordered Ramirez to return to the Arena. What in the world was he doing in the jumper? It didn’t matter, though, as long as he was there to help. Still, John filed that information for later.
He concentrated back on their progress to the first corner. Time dragged on slowly and John had to fight the urge to sigh loudly. They stopped every so often listening for any sounds.
It felt like hours, despite the fact that John knew only a few minutes had passed, but finally they had almost reached the first corner when Campbell’s urgent voice sounded over the comm again. “Colonel, if you can hear me, we need to return to Atlantis ASAP. Ronon might have a severe head injury and …”
John heard Rodney speak in the background.
“Dexcian, Spartacus, whatever just tell him,” Rodney yelled.
“Ramirez is trying to save … Spartacus, but there’s not much he can do here.”
John let the information settle. If he allowed the jumper to return home now, they’d be cut off from fast help.
After a moment, he touched his comm and clicked twice, letting them know he’d heard and agreed, but that he couldn’t answer. There had been enough dead. He and Lorne could manage whatever came their way, and he had no doubt that Atlantis would send another jumper.
Cornias looked back, his face tight.
John waved to him to move on.
After a moment, he nodded and moved right up to the corner, spying around it. John grew anxious. He wanted to be up front, but Cornias knew the way and he was in no real shape to be in the front row, though he would never admit it openly.
Suddenly, they heard sounds of fighting - swords clanking against each other reached them. Cornias looked around for a moment and then wordlessly raised his sword, giving the order to go. He and his men broke into a run and Lorne followed suit. John started after them, but soon realized he couldn’t keep up. The short break hadn’t helped much and his heart was thundering in his chest. He burst into the great hall about thirty feet after the others.
There were voices, and though John didn’t understand the words through the noise, he could make out Teyla’s familiar tone. He rounded the last column and froze. Still quite a distance away, he saw Ducis looming over a figure writhing on the floor.
“Teyla,” he gasped as he watched her body tense in obvious pain.
Ducis’ face was smug. He pointed a stunner gun at the woman John planned to tell just how much she meant to him as soon as this craziness was over. John could only watch as the first energy bolt hit her.
There was no sound from her, though John could tell she was awake, her head moving over the floor. Another bolt followed in short succession and again and again. Ducis was hurting Teyla and John just stood there stunned.
Realization hit him like a freight train and John didn’t think twice. He raised his P- 90 while starting to run and he issued a single shot, his aim thrown off by the movement. Still, Ducis fell to the ground in a motionless heap much closer to Teyla than John liked.
The sight of Teyla gave John’s system another jolt and propelled him forward. He was vaguely aware that there were two more bodies on the ground.
Lorne looked back for a moment and John waved at him to move on and take care of the two people fighting in back.
John looked at Teyla, his P-90 ready in case Ducis so much as twitched.
“Rodney, are you alright?” Radek asked.
“What in the world are you doing here?” Rodney returned, irritated.
Radek ignored Rodney and grabbed his arm when the other scientist stumbled on the ramp. He steered him towards one of the benches and helped him to sit down. Rodney groaned and leaned back, his eyes moving to the ramp again. Radek quickly looked around to see Ramirez, Sanders, and Meyers move into the jumper too. Sanders was holding his shoulder.
“Is everything alright?” Radek asked again, this time towards the rest of the team members.
“Does anyone look alright?” Rodney groused, pulling the scientist’s attention back to him.
“Despite Sanders, you do look ok,” Cadman threw in from her seat in the front compartment, smiling wildly at Rodney.
“Oh God,” Rodney groaned. “What she’s doing here?”
“Saving your butt,” Cadman returned.
“What happened?” Radek asked, trying to ease the tension. Rodney’s answer was cut off however.
“Get the jumper up,” Ramirez said to Stackhouse, who had settled in the pilot’s seat. Ramirez continued to fuss over Sanders.
“What didn’t would be the more appropriate question,” Rodney finally answered, glaring at Ramirez for interrupting. “Where the heck do you think we’re going?” he asked the medic in a biting tone. “We should stay close in case Sheppard needs us, and he will. In case you don’t know, he was dying the last time I saw him and what the hell did you give him? He should be on the way to Atlantis and not chasing after that madman.”
Ramirez rolled his eyes. “We’ll get the jumper in position over the Arena in case we’re needed.”
“Oh,” Rodney huffed.
Radek knew the feeling. He had missed that conversation too.
“There should be enough space to land in the Arena,” Rodney commented when the moment of surprise had passed. “Even for you,” he remarked, snidely looking at Stackhouse in the pilot’s seat.
“Say Rodney, you learned to fly in a straight line yet?” Cadman asked, looking at the scientist.
Rodney opened his mouth, but apparently he had no smart answer to that.
Cadman smiled one more time and then turned around.
Ramirez distracted Rodney further as the medic started to check him over.
Rodney looked back at Radek, his face annoyed. “What the heck are you doing here?” he asked again.
Radek crossed his arms over his chest. “Colonel Carter agreed I might be needed.”
“On a rescue mission?” Rodney squeaked, Ramirez trying in vain to take his blood pressure. “I can’t believe Carter allowed you to join a rescue mission, and why in the world would you come anyway? You hate going off-world,” Rodney ranted on, his arms flying through the air.
“Dr. McKay, please calm down,” Ramirez ordered, catching the scientist’s arms.
“Flying over the Arena in thirty seconds,” Stackhouse informed them.
“Ow,” Rodney complained as Ramirez slid the IV cannula into the back of Rodney’s right hand. “What are you doing?”
“Oh, stop being a baby, Rodney,” Cadman exclaimed.
“Cut it out,” Stackhouse hissed next to her and she turned back with an audible sigh.
“You’re dehydr…” Ramirez explanation was cut short.
“We need medical assistance ASAP,” Captain Campbell’s voice burst over the com. “We have two men down.”
“We’re right above you in Jumper two,” Ramirez returned, not wasting a beat. “Can you see anything?” he asked Stackhouse and Cadman off the comm.
“I’d say I was right about the C4 explosion,” Cadman said, standing up to get a better view out of the front.
“Looks like they blew up a part of the arena,” Stackhouse agreed. “There are a lot of bodies covering the ground. I won’t be able to touch down.”
“There are Reed and Walker,” Cadman pointed almost straight down. “There’s someone on the ground between them. Not sure who, though.”
“I can see Campbell and Coughlin,” Stackhouse said, looking straight ahead. “I’m going down on the other side,” he added. The jumper turned and all they could see now was the empty stands of the arena.
“Do you see Ronon?” Rodney asked, his voice now tinged with worry.
The statement hung heavy in the air.
“Dr. Zelenka, please help Dr. McKay move into the front. I might need the space back here.” Ramirez pushed the IV bag into Radek’s arms.
“What?” Rodney squeaked, obviously not happy about the decision.
“Come on Rodney, let’s move.” Radek didn’t wait for an answer and pulled Rodney up.
The scientist grumbled, but allowed Radek to maneuver him into the front and on the first chair on the left, while Cadman and Yamato moved into the back. Sanders stood up as well and followed the scientists.
The three bustled in the back, getting the medical kits and gurneys ready. When everything was set up, Ramirez pressed the back release of the ramp, despite the fact that the jumper still was about ten feet above ground. A light breeze flowed into the jumper as it continued to drop.
“Come on Cap … no sleeping on the job,” the voice insisted.
Campbell knew the voice, and he knew that when he obliged he would wake to a world of pain. But he also knew that there might be people hurt worse than him.
Someone touched his broken arm. The pain tore him out of his daze and he was wide awake again.
“Fuck,” he coughed when Reed set his arm. Coughlin caught his other arm that had been on its way to deck Reed.
“You could’ve just woken up, sir,” Reed said with a smirk as he fixed his team leader’s broken limb.
The pounding in Campbell’s head subsided and his vision cleared.
Dead bodies and debris lay scattered everywhere. Walker was some paces away, obviously looking for survivors. He looked at the balcony and swallowed hard. A massive hole gave the perfect view of the halls under the former balcony. His eyes swung over the arena. Between the grey of the stone remains, black smoking chunks were visible, one close to him looked suspiciously like one of the Beast’s arms.
At some point, the daylight had finally faded. Still, they could see everything. The Arena walls themselves glowed.
The people from around here obviously weren’t as backwards as they seemed.
“Ronon?” he asked, looking at his teammates.
“We haven’t seen him yet.”
Campbell started to get up. Reed and Coughlin helped and pulled him to his feet.
“Dammit,” he muttered. He had no idea where to start. He let his gaze travel over the chaos again. The last time he’d been aware of Ronon and Dexcian, the two had been close to the Beast and they’d still had some of the C4 on them. Would there be anything left to find?
Walker pointed urgently into the middle of the arena where a single shape was sprawled on the ground, one arm extended. Close to the hand lay a little object. Campbell recognized it right away. The remote detonator.
The three scrambled over the debris to join Walker.
“That doesn’t look good.” Reed crouched down next to the local warrior. He extended his hand to the man’s neck to checked for a pulse. After a few tense moments, he found it. “He’s still alive, barely though.”
The warrior’s chest moved and he pulled in a gurgling breath that ended in a cough. Blood sprinkled his lips.
“Shit,” Reed cursed, starting to peel the man’s chest plate off. Campbell watched him, awkwardly pulling bandages from his vest with his good arm.
Coughlin and Walker moved around them, checking out some of the debris.
“Guh, I’d say that’s one of the Beast’s legs,” Coughlin said, pointing at a smoking form next to Dexcian. He kicked it away. Campbell’s gaze traveled between the two and Reed tending Dexcian.
Walker squinted as he looked through the smoke towards the area with the most destruction, and then suddenly exclaimed, “Ronon!”
Walker took off running. Campbell stopped the other Marine before he could take off too. “Coughlin help Reed. See what you can do for him,” he added, already up. He hurried after Walker.
Campbell skittered to a halt next to Walker, who stood still a few feet away from Ronon, his P-90 trained on a round object on the ground.
“Gross,” Campbell grimaced, staring at the Beast’s head with lifeless but open eyes. “I’d say it’s dead. Let’s check Ronon.”
Walker nodded, still aiming at the Beast’s head.
Ronon lay on his side. From the looks of it, he must’ve been close to the explosion. His clothes and hair were scorched. Walker got down next to Ronon, while Campbell kept an eye on the Beast’s head. You never really knew.
“He’s going to hate that,” Walker commented, the humor not covering the worry in his voice as he continued to check the Satedan over.
“Oh, shit.” Walker pulled his hand away from checking Ronon’s skull. It was covered in blood.
“Guys, we need help,” Coughlin yelled from across the arena, his voice frantic.
Campbell looked back at his teammate, and in a split second he made the decision. He knew that the man laying at Coughlin’s feet had helped enough for Ronon to trust him, and Ronon needed better medical help than he and his three teammates could provide.
“We need medical assistance ASAP,” Campbell yelled into his comm. “We have two men down.”
Ramirez answered his call right away. “We’re right above you in Jumper two.” There was a short break. “Can you give me some stats?”
“Ronon has a nasty head wound,” Campbell returned. Then he looked out toward the others. “What’s going on on your end?” he yelled to Coughlin and Reed.
He was surprised that the jumper was already hovering about three feet above the ground on the other side of the Arena. It was a tight squeeze, but somehow Stackhouse managed. The ramp was already halfway down and he saw Ramirez ready to head their way.
“He opened his eyes for a moment,” Reed answered the question. “He just stared into the sky and then tried to move. He’s unconscious again and coughing up more blood.”
Ramirez ran towards them and stopped at Reed’s side. He crouched down next to him and looked the man on the ground over, then gestured to Yamato and Cadman, who had climbed out of the jumper after him. They quickly unfolded a stretcher and together heaved the limp man onto it. Ramirez didn’t wait for them to be done securing the man before he moved on, knowing that Reed was only one test away from being a medic too.
“What can you tell me?” Ramirez asked as soon as he had reached them.
“Ronon’s got a nasty gash on his head,” Campbell repeated, waving at the applied gauze that was already soaking through.
“Do you know how it happened?”
“Sorry, I was out too,” Campbell answered honestly. He looked at Walker.
“Sorry, sir, we came back after hearing the explosion. We moved right to you.” Walker glanced in the direction of where they’d found Campbell out cold on the ground. “Shit, our P-90s,” he suddenly spat. “The locals gave them back like they were ordered to.”
“Go get ‘em,” Campbell ordered, shaking his head as Walker hurried back to where they had found him. The P-90s were resting against the wall.
“Okay, we need to get Ronon into the jumper too.” Ramirez looked up at Campbell. “What happened to your arm?”
“Cadman, Coughlin,” Ramirez yelled. The two marines hurried over carrying another stretcher. “I need everyone back in the jumper. And I need you to sit in the front to give me and Reed the space we need to help those two. I’ll take a look at your arm later,” he added to Campbell, who hurried to lead the group and move out of the way.
Walker reached the jumper moments before them and moved to the front right away too, his arms full of P-90s.
Ramirez quickly moved into the jumper as Cadman and Coughlin carefully placed the stretcher holding the big Satedan on the left bench. Both looked relieved as they moved on to the front compartment, squeezing in with the others already waiting. Ronon wasn’t the easiest one to carry, that was for sure. Reed was standing between the two injured.
“Is Ronon ok?” Rodney’s worried voice floated from behind the onlooking marines. Suddenly his head appeared as he tried to look over the others. “What’s going on?”
“You better get us up in the air again,” Ramirez ordered, turning slightly and hitting the ramp control. Cool night air wavered in as the jumper rose into the night sky.
“What’s going on?” Rodney asked again. “Is Ronon ok?”
“Let them do their job,” Stackhouse said from the pilot’s seat. “Dr. McKay sit down. You too, Campbell.”
Ramirez walked to Reed. “Check Ronon’s pupils again. Set an IV and try to wake him.”
Reed nodded. “Dexcian’s blood pressure is dangerously low. He has three stab wounds, through and through,” he rattled off. “I started two IV’s broad volume and changed the bandages.”
“Thanks,” Ramirez said, turning to Dexcian.
Ramirez took in Dexcian. All tries to raise him to consciousness had failed and trying again wouldn’t do any good. He studied the bandages and realized with chagrin that they were already starting to soak through.
Ramirez took a stethoscope from their medical supplies. He didn’t like what he heard. Dexcian’s breath sounds told him that his lungs were filling with fluids too. They needed Atlantis, but then Teyla, the Colonel, and Major Lorne would be left behind. No, he had to do what he could here.
Suddenly he had an idea.
“Cadman, where’s that water?” he asked. Why hadn’t he thought of it in the first place? He started to pull off the bandages again.
“Left side,” Cadman answered, already picking her way in the back.
“Reed, how’s Ronon?”
“His pupils are irregular,” Reed answered. “We should give him some too.”
“What are you talking about?” Rodney wanted to know.
“Not now, McKay,” Campbell stated. “Yamato, Coughlin, Walker, you’ll need to help.”
“Got it,” Cadman said after a moment, pulling two canteens from a box and throwing one at each medic. They caught them and put them aside as the started to pull the bandages and gauze off their patients.
“Cadman, hold his legs,” Ramirez ordered, pointing at Dexcian. “Walker, help me lift him up. We start with his back.” On the other side, Reed was putting Coughlin and Yamato in position. Ramirez fixated the IV attached to Dexcian’s hand hoping it would hold during the seizures.
“What the heck are you doing?” Rodney’s irritated voice asked yet again. He’d moved to the bulkhead door, cradling his IV bag. He looked panicky. Radek stood next to him, trying to get him to sit down again.
“Saving their lives,” Ramirez stated. He tipped the canteen and slowly poured water over Dexcian’s back.
“Are you crazy?” Rodney exclaimed, watching in horror. Campbell quickly moved into Rodney’s path. “You can’t use plain water. Who knows what germs are in there? They might be harmless to drink, but who knows?”
“Calm down, Doc. It’s healing water. We found it in the caves. It’s the reason Colonel Sheppard is still with us,” Campbell explained.
“Healing water?” the scientist squeaked and finally went silent.
“Ok, down,” Ramirez said and poured more water over Dexcian’s chest. His last move was lifting Dexcian’s head and made the man swallow some. “Give it a few moments,” he added. “How does it look?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Nothing yet,” Reed reported.
Tense silence filled the jumper. Ramirez looked at Ronon again and then back at Dexcian. A minute passed, but nothing happened.
“Something’s not right,” Campbell stated. “The Colonel started convulsing right after we used the water on him.”
Ramirez looked at Campbell and then Reed, who shook his head.
“Damn it,” Ramirez spat. “I need bandages and another IV,” he said. Cadman let go of Dexcian’s legs and started to rummage through the med kit for the demanded supplies. “Get the oxygen tank and the tube set. We need to drain the fluids from his lungs.”
Reed was also working on Ronon, helped by Yamato. Coughlin and Walker, who’d been stationed at the shoulders, moved back into the front compartment.
“How’s it going?” Stackhouse asked.
“Not good,” Reed and Ramirez said simultaneously.
“Colonel, if you can hear me, we need to return to Atlantis ASAP,”
Campbell called, making the decision. “Ronon might have a severe head injury and …” he broke up, cutting the connection for a moment. What name should he give the Colonel?
“Spartacus,” Ramirez blurted, thinking it was the name Colonel Sheppard would most likely associate with the man on the bench.
“What? We can’t leave Sheppard and Teyla here,” Rodney spoke up again.
“You said it was healing water.”
“It healed the Colonel,” Radek stated.
“It doesn’t matter,” Reed groused. “If you want them to live, we have to go now.”
“Spartacus?” Campbell asked confused, despite the fact that he’d already activated his comm again.
“Dexcian, Spartacus, whatever just tell him,” Rodney yelled, his worry that Ronon and Dexcian were dying apparently weighing more for this moment than the fact they were about to leave the others behind.
“Ramirez is trying to save … Spartacus, but there’s not much he can do here.”
Two clicks sounded over the comm.
“Dial Atlantis and let them know to have two med teams ready,” Ramirez yelled. His attention focused on getting the heart monitor up and running.
“Atlantis, this is Jumper two. ETA ten minutes. Have two medical teams on stand by,” Stackhouse called. “Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne and Teyla are still on the planet. We need a second jumper to pick them up.”
“Understood,” was the single word answer.
“Do we have enough time to touch down, so we could stay?” Campbell asked when the comm went silent.
“No,” Ramirez said.
Again silence fell upon the people in the jumper, the erratic beeping of the heart monitor the only sound. The gate came into view and the beeping transformed into a single whining tone the instant the jumper touched the event horizon.
“Drop your swords,” Lorne yelled, his P-90 poised at the two fighting in the back.
John’s eyes stayed on Teyla. Her head had lifted from the ground right after he had shot. She moved her head in Lorne’s direction.
“Teyla,” John meant to yell, but he was so out of breath that his voice broke and his voice made it barely past his lips. Of course she didn’t hear him and to his chagrin her head sank back down on the ground. John was with her not ten seconds later.
The fighting sounds in the back continued.
“Teyla?” he breathed as he fell to his knees next to her. He carefully regarded her, looking for obvious injuries. As his hands hovered over her body, her chest moved rhythmically and without apparent distress. When he was sure he wouldn’t cause her more pain, he sat down and softly pulled her against his chest and away from Ducis, who lay right next to her.
John pushed his feet into the floor, sliding himself further away from the Dux. Though his eyes were closed, John saw the bastard’s torso heave as he inhaled. John was sorry that he hadn’t kill him.
Teyla’s head rested on John’s right shoulder and he whispered in her ear. “Teyla, I’m here.”
Her head moved toward his face.
Her eyes remained closed.
When John felt he’d put enough space between them and Ducis, he carefully placed Teyla on his lap. He plucked some loose strands of her hair from her face.
“Teyla?” he asked again, tapping her cheek, but she remained stubbornly limp. He pressed his fingers to her neck and was relieved to find a strong beat against his fingertips.
He started to check over her body again. Bruises had already begun to blossom on her arms. His blood boiled when he reached her middle and he wondered how he had overlooked them the first time he’d checked. But then he’d been looking for blood. Thin black tendrils wound around her form. He followed the lines and found the black cylinder about two feet from Ducis’ hand.
John tore on the lines and caught the cylinder. As careful as possible, he freed Teyla from the tendrils. When she was free, he took in the object. It was Ancient. He could feel energy flowing from it. John ordered it to shut down and the tendrils retreated. John watched a moment longer and then threw the cylinder against the closest wall, though it only broke in two. It broke and would never be used again.
“Come on, Teyla, time to wake up. I can’t carry you out of here. No matter how much I want to.” He carefully shook her shoulders. That at least got him a reaction. Teyla moaned.
John pulled his hand up, realizing he’d hurt her. He hadn’t checked her back yet.
Knowing the last move had hurt her, he tried to be even more careful as he brought her arm under her. He placed his hand against the back of her head. He wasn’t sure if it was her hair, but he felt a suspicious bump. He craned his neck.
Bruises were starting to form on her shoulders too. The flimsy dress Ducis had forced her into did nothing to cover them.
He quickly lay Teyla down again, realizing goosebumps were covering her arms. He quickly removed his jacket. He lay it down in front of him and placed Teyla on it, pulling it close around her while placing her back in his lap. He checked the back of her head and, though there was no blood, the lump covering her scalp seemed massive.
“Ok,” he said, shaking Teyla again. “Come on, Teyla, you need to wake for me now.”
Though he was sure he was moving her exactly like before, this time nothing happened.
“You’re a hard man to kill,” Ducis soft voice traveled over to John.
Instinctively, he drew Teyla up in his arms and on his chest. He looked at Ducis, who had turned to his side. A red spot was growing on the right side of his chest.
“Should’ve aimed better,” John returned.
Ducis’ chuckle turned into a cough. His whole frame shook.
John took the time to look up and see where the others were. They were circling around one man who held another as hostage, a knife digging in his hostage’s throat. Still, the hostage was grinning. The man holding him had no chance, though he probably didn’t know it yet. The main message to John was however that that man was the only one left from Ducis’ men. All others were on the opposite side.
“You have not won yet.”
John peered back at Ducis. Ducis too had looked at the scene behind them, but now he was looking at John again.
“Looks different to me.” John smiled smugly at Ducis. “The Beast is dead, and no amount of healing water will bring it back this time - I’ll make sure of that. Your last guy over there is as good as dead. And I have no idea what your people have planned, but to me it looks like they’re pretty much fed up with your reign.”
A long drawn grunt told John that the fight was over.
John had no intention of lingering any longer. He knew he was barely in the condition, but still he gathered all the energy he could muster and pulled Teyla up in his arms as he stood. Ducis watched him, his face red with anger.
“You might have won this battle,” Ducis agreed. “But I still will win this war. I still have the support of most of my people.”
“I told you, you’d never get my wife,” John said, instead of reacting to Ducis statement.
“You did.” A wide grin spread on Ducis’ face and he pulled himself up.
“But if I can’t have her, you won’t either.” He chuckled. “You are too late and I will still win. Our Aranea is a wonderful and in many matters useful weapon.” He pointed to the broken object close to the wall. “If easily breakable. But combined with our stun weapons it has the wonderful effect of taking away one’s memories.” He chuckled again. “Your wife will not remember you. I wiped you from her mind.”
“What?” John took a menacing step towards the man on the floor. He wanted to throttle him, but to do so he would have to put Teyla down and he was already feeling the strain on his abused body and knew if he didn’t use his steam now he wouldn’t be able to get up again.
Ducis just kept smiling. Suddenly, he moved, grabbing for the stun weapon John had missed laying on the floor. Ducis had just distracted him to be able to reach it.
John scrambled back, hoping to reach one of the columns. He tensed, readying himself to cover Teyla at the first sign of fire. John had taken two more steps back, his eyes glued to the trigger when Ducis abruptly seized and the stun weapon he was holding clattered to the floor.
Ducis screamed, the sound angry and drawn out. He started to tremble before he went limp and toppled over faceplanting on the stone floor. Thin black tendrils stretched across Ducis back.
Lorne was at John’s side in a few hurried strides, his P-90 trained on the limp form.
“Thank you for not shooting.” A man said as he took a step towards the Lanteans. John fought the urge to take a step back as he spotted the black cylinder in his hand. Cornias was still in the back and Lorne seemed relaxed enough.
“No problem, Quintus,” Lorne returned. John looked at the man he’d heard of already. He was Dexcian’s Lorne.
“It was right for us to kill him,” Quintus said.
“He’s dead?” John asked, perplexed. “I thought those things don’t kill.”
“Your Doctor modified them for us,” Quintus informed John.
He nodded. “To help in fighting the Beast,” he said. “Do not worry. Our next leader will not use force to rule. He’s an honorable man.”
“If you say so,” John stated. He’d seen enough rebellions on Earth and the next government was hardly ever better than the one before.
“You have met Dexcian Navis. You must realize he is.”
“Oh,” John said. He had to adjust Teyla in his arms. She was growing heavy and for a moment John felt lightheaded. Lorne’s arm shot out to stabilize him.
“I could take Teyla, sir,” Lorne offered. But John started to slowly shake his head, fighting another bout of dizziness.
“We can help you too,” Quintus offered. “My men can get a pallet.” Quintus mistook John’s hesitancy for confusion. “It’s a portable bed,” he added quickly.
“I’m good thanks, though I think we should leave. No offence, but I don’t plan on getting caught in your little uprising any further.”
Quintus nodded his agreement. “We will use the secret passageway and bring you to the Ring. This way you can leave unhindered.”
John nodded once. Quintus started to move, and he and Lorne followed. He looked over his shoulders, but Cornias and his men didn’t follow.
For a long while they walked in silence, each caught in his own musings. When John was sure they were out of earshot, he stopped. Lorne stopped too and immediately stepped back to his side, his face careful, worried. John took a deep breath. “I’m good,” he said to Lorne, before he turned to Quintus.
“Listen, Quintus, there’s one thing you should know. Dexcian was hurt badly in the Arena. My people took him to our home to help him.”
Quintus looked down and sighed heavy. “I feared as much.” He turned away, his shoulders going up with another sigh.
“We’ll do everything we can for him and return him as soon as possible,” John promised. He had no doubt that Quintus had some valid reasons to choose Dexcian as their next leader, though he couldn’t help wonder if one man could change a society like this.
“He is a champion of our people,” Quintus said. He looked over his shoulder at Teyla in John’s arms. “He is also a guide. He has taught me that women should be treated with respect and not as slaves. I hope he can help in making others see too and we can change the way our society handles several matters.”
John contemplated Quintus’ words for a moment. “You’re right. He did a fine job teaching you. Even if he won’t be there, I think you’ll be good to go. Just remember what he told you,” John advised.
Silence reigned for a moment as they started to move again.
“Ducis said that he used your energy weapon and that black cylinder thing to wipe my wife’s memories?” John found himself asking. Lorne looked at John, amusement written all over his face. John just rolled his eyes. And gave a short nod with his head, telling Lorne to look ahead.
“It is called vaco consentio,” Quintus stated, his voice grave. “The use of the Aranea in combination with several shots of the energy weapons wipes a certain part of the mind. The more often it is used, the wider the effect. It is usually a manner of punishment for someone committing an unspeakable crime.”
“What’s an unspeakable crime?” Lorne wanted to know.
“Ah, the usual,” Lorne deadpanned. Again silence descended over them again.
John didn’t have any more to say anyway. He looked at Teyla and his heart grew heavy. If this was true, she wouldn’t remember anything that had happened between them on this mission. He drew her closer to his chest. He was dead tired suddenly, but he’d carry her to the gate if he had to. He could only hope that Ducis had made a mistake and Teyla would remember. He had no idea what he would do otherwise. Could he go on just like nothing had happened, now that he had at least an idea that Teyla felt the same for him as he did for her? Would he have the courage to tell her again? But what if she had forgotten more than just the last few days? What if she had forgotten that she had feelings for him? What if she’d forgotten ever meeting him?
John loved Teyla, and despite the fact they hadn’t said the words, John was pretty sure that was what Teyla felt for him. At least, he hoped she did. But maybe her memories were from a time where those feelings had not been there.
He was pulled from his thoughts when they walked through a door and suddenly stood on an open plain. They hadn’t walked that long, and he hadn’t exactly followed their progress, but he still was surprised that they had already left the city.
“My men ordered a carriage. It should be here any minute. We should rest.” Quintus looked pointedly at John and he wondered if he looked as bad as he felt. From Lorne’s worried glances and the fact that he looked ready to jump into position, he guessed he looked even worse.
Before John could answer, a jumper decloaked above them.
“Colonel. Major,” Sgt. Bellard greeted over their comm. “We’re here to pick you up.”
“Perfect timing,” Lorne said, relief easily traceable in his voice. The jumper sank to the ground.
“By the gods,” Quintus gasped, and John remembered they had company. Luckily the ride he’d mentioned wasn’t here yet.
Bellard and their medic, Gibbs, walked around the jumper. John reluctantly handed Teyla over to him. “I tried to wake her,” he informed to the medic.
“Her head hit the ground quite hard.” Quintus had found his voice again.
“I’ll check her right away,” Gibbs said as he turned and hurried back into the jumper.
John’s face darkened.
“She fought like a true warrior,” Quintus added.
“Thanks,” John mumbled, not sure what else to say. “Any updates on the status of our guest?” he asked Bellard.
“Sorry, sir, not much. All I can say for sure is that his heart stopped right before they came through. They were still trying to revive him when we left.”
John nodded and turned to Quintus.
“You are Ancestors,” Quintus breathed, looking astounded.
John thought it best not to comment. “I am sorry, we’ll see what we can do for your leader, but we aren’t gods,” he warned.
Quintus nodded, apparently still stunned. He blinked a few times and then his face fell. “You were referring to Dexcian. His heart stopped?”
“Yes,” Bellard answered. “But from what I got Dr. Keller hasn’t given up on him yet. It might need some time.”
Quintus swallowed hard. He looked to the ground for a moment before looking up again. His face impassive, but his eyes showing his pain. “I understand,” he said. “As much as I wish for Dexcian to live and recover, matters here will be difficult for some time. We should treat with care not to risk more fighting among the groups. From your words I assume that he has been injured gravely. We can’t wait for him to recover enough to return.” He sighed.
“I understand,” John nodded. “How can we let you know what’s going on?”
“I will await you at the Ring of the Ancestors three days from now. I hope you return with good news. As I hope to have found Dexcian’s wife by then, so she can go see her husband, if you would allow her to travel with you.”
“Actually, she’s probably already with him,” Lorne interjected.
“Oh?” Quintus huffed surprised. “He said that she and the children were safe,” he said thoughtful looking to the ground again. After a moment he looked up again. “Dexcian is like a brother to me. But be certain that no matter the outcome, I know that without your help we wouldn’t have succeeded. I also understand that, if you hadn’t taken Dexcian with you, he would be already dead. Our healers would not have saved him. I never heard of someone being healed after his heart quieted.”
“Our healers will do what they can,” John promised.
The group stood in silence for a moment as Quintus seemingly considered John’s words. Suddenly a look of sorrow flashed over Quintus’ face and John felt there was something urgent. He wondered if he should just ask, but before he could Quintus cleared his throat.
“Dexcian loved … loves his wife very much. She is more to him than a mere servant. Our laws and traditions as you already learned are harsh on any woman that has no male protection. I know it is asked much, but please if you can care for her and the children. They deserve a better life than the one I could offer them here.” His voice broke several times.
John nodded. “In the end, it’ll be her decision. But if she decides to stay, we’ll give her a good home.”
“Thank you,” Quintus added with a nod.
“We’ll see you in three days. Thanks for the help,” John said, sensing it was time to leave.
“Travel safe,” Quintus saluted as John and Lorne moved away after Bellard.
When they reached the ramp, John finally realized they were safe. The relief hit him so strong that things blacked out for a moment.
“Whoa,” Lorne said, catching him by the arm and guiding him into the back.
“I’m fine,” John claimed, but the unconvinced looks his way spoke volumes. He was glad that Gibbs concentrated on Teyla for now. “Long day,” he added for good measure. He closed his eyes, laying his head back.
“Atlantis, this is Jumper five. We have retrieved everyone. ETA five minutes.”