Stars on the Water

By Azrena

Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis doesn't belong to me, the characters, the city, nothin' is mine; I'm just barrowing them. Dr. Emily Ashta is mine though, stored in my hard dive until I need her, any other character that I happened to come up with is mine to.

Spoilers from second half of first season though current episodes. The story is an AU, but then again… I think most fanfic stories are AU.

For Wendy: for constantly listening to me babble on about things she knows nothing about… and for "supporting fan fiction."

…oooOOOooo…

I WANT TO CHANGE PLACES WITH RIPLEY

They've been coming for weeks. Normally countdowns… countdown to something exciting such as birthdays or vacations or movies coming out… I don't want this countdown to end, cause at the end I see death and destruction; the fear in my stomach eats me away … slowly… a little bit more everyday.

I've never been the kind to get many nightmares, but lately that's all I've been getting, I see the Wraith looming over me, feeding on my friends and colleagues, finding a way past our defenses and reaching Earth. I'm sure lots of people here have been having that nightmare lately. Sleeping and awake, there is a consistent voice in the back of my mind, degrading myself for agreeing to come on this mission. Stuff like this is meant for those who are brave, who don't live their lives with their noses in books and telescopes. Yet here I am, not just hundreds of miles away from home, but millions of light years… 5 million… ish.

What really sucks, is when I look at the night sky, I don't even recognize the stars, stars I knew by heart on Earth. Yet here… here they are only foreign designs filling a dark sky. I try and make a new constellation every night. Mapping the new sky was a slow painstaking process, but there's no way I would an opportunity anywhere close to it on Earth. I guess that's what makes living here worth it. Putting up with leaving family and friends, TV and movies… and sports, oh I missed Hockey. That voice in the back on my mind was shut up when I thought about what I was gaining, opportunities to absorb new information…I always craved new information.

…oooOOOooo…

Space always interested me, growing up I just wanted to travel the stars. My dad started pointing out constellations to me when I was five. I raided the children's section of the library for any book with rockets and stars. My favorite one, I still remember it, is the Magic School Bus, the one where they tour the solar system, remember that one? After reading any book I could get my hands on, soon I knew more than my dad and had to discover things on my own. At twelve you think about all sorts of romantic ideals about what you want to be when you grow up. Astronaut was on the top of my list, well… the only thing on the list, so what if I was (still am) afraid of flying. I thought that the best place to learn about the stars would be in space. Then I found the book "Contact", sure, it was an insanely large book for a fourteen year old, but then again most fourteen year olds weren't reading college textbooks on astronomy. Looking back, I think that's what changed me, that book. That was the first time I really realized that I could "live" in space, study it, my mind could constantly float around in it, without having to physically be in space. That there were people whose lives were dedicated to learning about this stuff, figuring out what was going on up there. Ellie Arroway became my hero. Information didn't just magically appear in those textbooks, someone had to discover it first.

In college, I never stopped taking classes, there was no summer break for me, I felt like my mind would unlearn what I'd crammed into it. Bachelors degree in two and a half years. My parents were amazed. Grad school… and I couldn't even drink yet. I stayed close to home, I couldn't get up the nerve to move away from my parents, I wasn't ready to grow up that much yet.

To this day, the events that lead me to the Stargate program and Atlantis are muggy, I don't know what happened behind the scenes. I got a job at NASA after getting my doctorate. In school I realized that the best places to be on the cutting edge of new discoveries, is with the government. Walking in one Monday I found a red trimmed file sitting on my keyboard, 'CASSIFIED' written across it in large red letters. My security clearance wasn't high, I was just an astronomer after all. The file contained a star's spectral analysis, didn't even say which one. Most of it would be gibberish for most people, but I read it like it was a second language. I'd never seen anything like it, there were elements that don't belong in stars. Unknown to me, I'd risen to be highly regarded by the powers that be in the government, and in astronomy. Someone in the new Stargate program had recommended that the baffling star's elemental breakdown be passed along to me. This was back when the program was just getting off the ground apparently and they didn't have many astronomers on their team yet. I can only assume that one of the few they did have, had read some of my papers, and research and thought that I could solve their mysteries. Slowly, I started getting more problems to look at, images to analyze and more sun spectrums. I'd never seen anything like them… I tried to find answers, but most were just theories, guesses. Little did I know, that I'd been helping the SGC study and travel the galaxy for years.

I'd gotten an email from a Dr. Weir, one Monday. She wanted to see me, set up a meeting. A week later she knocked on my door.

"Dr. Ashta?"

"Dr. Weir, come in."

She told me that she was from a program called 'Stargate' and that they were the ones sending the files. She said my work was "vital" and "important" to the program. Normally I would just think she was your typical government type, everything was important and the end of the world is always around the corner. But there was something about Dr. Weir, I don't know… maybe I trust to easily, but I couldn't understand why those files were so important. All I'd done was send them my best guesses, I'd never given them an absolute answer for anything, there's no way I could…

"We want you to come out and take a look at something for us."

"What?"

"I can explain everything on the way."

My curiosity over what I'd been unknowingly working on for so long got the best of me. I was surprised to find out that I would be leaving in three hours. Dr. Weir said that I couldn't tell my family where I was going, so I sent them a email telling them I was going to Hawaii, to do some research at the KECK telescopes and that I didn't know when I'd be back. I'd been there before and they wouldn't second guess me. Don't worry… I'll pick up my email everyday… I promised.

I hate flying, I don't quite know why. It's not the turbulence, or a fear of crashing. It was the small things, like the way my ears never popped and stayed clogged for days, it was the way the sun always seemed to find a way to shine right in my eyes though someone else's window, and it was the fact that I can never stand up and my knees are always bruised from the seat in front of me. Dr. Weir wouldn't tell me where we were going until we got on a non-civilian plane, that's when I found out that we were headed to Antarctica. I was just hoping it wasn't windy, I love cold and snow, it's the wind that I can't stand. I had to sign a new confidentially agreement, that's how I knew that whatever I was about to find out, it was big. I was right, I got a crash course on the Stargate, Gua'uld, Ancients, the battle over Antarctica, my head was spinning when we landed on a frozen chunk of ice in the middle of nowhere. I never went back to my office at NASA again.

…oooOOOooo…

And now I'm here, in another galaxy, with life sucking aliens that make me wish I was in Ellen Ripley's place instead, even those aliens seemed nicer then what was knocking on our door. And her's weren't coming for me either….

…oooOOOooo…

Okay, please review, I will be very thankful. BTW, 100 bonus points if you know who I stole my title from, he's my favorite singer…