Beta: bluejbird over at LJ
Disclaimer: If they were mine, do you think I'd be writing this? Oh, and I don't own the copy rights for the song either.
Rating: R (for Adult Themes and Language)
Genre: Gen-ish (with mentions of slash and het)
Warnings: Spoilers! Major Angst, Apoca fic, Character Death(s), Dark fic, Mentions of Slash/Het, Mentions of MPreg, Kid!fic, Mentions of extreme violence (possible TRIGGER!)
Spoilers: SGA: The Storme/The Eye (1x10/11), Conversion (2x08), Michael (2x18), Misbegotten (3x02). SG1: The Powers That Be (9x04), The Fourth Horseman (9x10/11) Anything to do with Priors, Ori, and the Plague is fair game with this warning
Notes: I have no idea why I really wrote this other than the fact that I was looking over some of the fic I have on my computer while listening to the TV and I heard this song. And this came to mind. I hope, that if you read this you enjoy it, and if you read it and hate it because of the squick factor, I put everything in my warnings. But I do hope you enjoy this.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I'm found,
Was blind, but now I see.
The alarms were blaring over the city wide communication system, echoing down empty hallways and filling those parts that hadn't seen life in thousands of years. There was a stillness about the city, a waiting for the moment when those alarms would fall silent. Down empty corridors, through doors left open, over the scattered belongs littering the floor, the shrill promise sounded.
And in the heart of the city, high up in the control tower, the handful that remained stood in the broken silence. They watched the doors leading into the last safe space in the city. They were the last line, standing there in the heart of the city – her souls.
Up in the command room, overlooking the gate room and the few men and women who were scattered about below, three people stood. On the laptop between them numbers were counting down. There was no need for them to speak now; there was nothing left to say. Everything that could have been said had been. There was nothing left but the silent connection that had been forged in hell and would end in the same grip.
This was their last stand. This would be their final act. Redemption for all the pain and suffering they had caused by their own ignorance and arrogance. So many lives, so many faces, lost in a sea of blood, would find the peace that had been snatched from them.
Just as the count down reached zero, she closed her eyes.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
He had made one truly fatal mistake in his attempt to take the city. He had taken and hurt – killed – someone who was important to him. Kolya had made the mistake of assuming that the death of one person he cared about and the threat on the life of the other would weaken him. He'd taken one look at the surface and failed to see the silent beast that crept just behind the mask.
Sheppard released the tight leash he kept on the part of himself that could kill without remorse. He filled that beast with his rage and terror. He fed it with thoughts of vengeance, nourished it with the memory of Kolya's voice announcing Elizabeth's death. He gave over to it because it was the only part of him that could get him, and hopefully Rodney out of this mess now.
Stalking Kolya's men through the city, John Sheppard hunted his prey – moving through them towards his goal. Because if Kolya had killed Rodney as well, there would be no manner of death that would last long enough. Nothing that would cause the man enough pain to satisfy the thoughts of vengeance. Rodney and Elizabeth with Teyla and Ford and Carson were his family.
And who ever said that family had to be stable and functional? Because unstable and overly dysfunctional worked for them. But they all had to be there for it to work. And with Elizabeth gone, John didn't think he would really survive losing Rodney on top of that.
They were his family. And you did not fuck with his family.
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.
It was happening again. The Wraith had come back. After so many years, she had hoped that maybe they had all died. And she was losing to those tainted children once more. She could feel their weapons fire burning her, hurting her, killing her one shot at a time. And there was nothing she could do to stop it because she was not strong enough – she didn't have the power she needed to protect those within her walls.
She knew that her new children were fighting. They were fighting to save her, to save themselves, and to save the home that her lost children had fled to. The new children were stronger in some ways than her lost ones had been. But they were weaker in other areas – areas that they needed to be strong now.
In the moment that she knew one of her new children had taken one of the small ships to destroy one of the Hives, she felt an acute sense of loss and resignation. This would be her last stand. She would fall with her new children. But she would protect them for as long as she could in hopes that maybe they might escape through the Stargate like her lost children had. And in that moment she could blame her lost children for the situation that they now faced.
They had allowed the evil to grow unchecked. And then had fled when they discovered that they could not overcome their own creations. They had abandoned her and left her to rot at the bottom of the ocean. Something that her new children would never do. They would kill her themselves – save her from that kind of misery again.
But salvation came from the sky and the ingeniousness of her new children.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
He was getting so tired of having to save the day. Tired of having to pull one more miracle out of his ass. Tired of having to do things he thought he would never do. Tired of the continuous threat that had him living in almost constant fear.
This was it. This was the last time he was going to take the threat with downcast eyes and a quivering voice. They had forced him to do things that he'd never thought he would have to do. Forced him to learn things he'd never wanted to learn. They had helped to twist him into something so vastly different than what he had started out as. They had put a monster behind his eyes and now he was going to give it back to them.
Jamming the connection wires into the soft skin protecting the control panel Rodney tuned the bulk of his attention to the screen of the laptop in front of him. The alien language that flowed over his screen was like reading equations. Another thing he never thought to learn. But in that moment, it was to his advantage. Because he could read it, he could program the system to self-destruct the moment the four Hive ships grouped together. Close enough that one explosion would destroy the lot of them.
But he couldn't focus his full attention on his work. Too many years living under the threat that the Wraith presented had forced him to always keep a part of himself aware of his surroundings and things coming in and out of his awareness. When he heard the heavy foot steps coming down the hallway – Rodney jerked his laptop free of the organic wall, tearing the clammy flesh covering in his haste.
It didn't matter. The program was set, and the ships were already moving in closer together. Snatching up his pack, he stuffed his laptop and the connection wires inside as he exited the room through the second door just as the first one opened.
When he swam up through the darkness all he could feel was pain. It was like every part of his body was on fire or had been. And he was forced to wonder if he'd gotten away from the Wraith in time. Or if maybe they had captured him and fed from him, just a little, having discovered what his plan had been.
But no. No, he could hear the soft beeping of a heart monitor in the background. The Wraith wouldn't have bothered with such an annoying machine. The damn beeps, while reassuring that his heart was still steadily pumping blood through his body, were a constant sound he could do without. Except for the fact that it meant he was in Atlantis or aboard the Daedalus or somewhere – but it meant he was off the Hive ship.
Cracking an eye open Rodney glanced around him and stopped when he came to an almost familiar sight. His heart did a funny little flip in his chest that made the steady beeping of the monitor stutter before it started its steady pace again. Because sprawled out in the bed next to his were two of most important people in his life.
John was sleeping, his hair a worse mess than usual. Even in sleep he looked exhausted and beaten. Rodney had a feeling that the one reason John was even laying down on the bed was because of the little bundle curled up on his chest. The little bundle that was their eight month old daughter.
Rodney smiled when he noticed she was awake, looking at him with calm blue eyes. She was earnestly sucking on her thumb while John slept; keeping the vigil John had undoubtedly started.
(Dr. Rodney McKay the survivor had been a scary man.)
Rodney tried to wave his hand in greeting, like he did most mornings when he got up first and was peering over the edge of her crib. He took stock of her like he usually did. Took in the fact that she had his eyes, his nose, and the same silent demeanour he'd had as an infant. Took in the fact that she had John's curious ears, full mouth, and his ability to charm anyone he came in contact with.
(Dr. Rodney McKay the good, cold little scientist-solider had been a frightening man.)
Rodney completed his morning ritual. "Morning, baby," he whispered in a cracked voice. He watched as a smile bloomed on his little girl's face and he felt hat smile reach inside of him. It filled him with a sense of peace and well being. It filled a void that he hadn't known had been there until the day she had been born. He smiled to her in return.
(But Dr. Rodney McKay-Sheppard the Family Man was downright terrifying when his family's safety and well being was threatened.)
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endured.
The retrovirus had only been the beginning. He had hoped that it would also be the end as well. But he could see now that it was not the case. He had failed to perfect the virus. He hadn't been able to make the change it created permanent. The Wraith had kept reverting to their original states without daily inoculations. And the dangers of that had been manifested in Michael.
When he had realized that he couldn't perfect the drug, he'd tried to beg off. He couldn't do it, he couldn't create a biological weapon for them to use against Wraith. Nothing he did could make the changes last longer than two, maybe three days. And all it was doing was making the Wraith more determined to destroy them.
His research for the retrovirus had bordered on the ethical line of his oath as a doctor, had skirted the moral one he had drawn in the sand for himself as a researcher. And it had only become more difficult to justify the benefits of continuing the research as time had gone on. First there had been the accident with Colonel Sheppard, nearly changing him into something that was less than human, but more than insect.
Second had been Michael the first time around. Testing the drug on someone against their will had broken something inside of him. But he'd kept justifying it to himself. Telling himself that if he could make them human, they wouldn't be a threat, and they might even be thankful. The human part of them might be thankful.
Third had been the camp of Wraith they had turned human, and Michael the second time around. None of them had been willing. They had been experimented on against their will. And contrary to what the popular belief had been about the Wraith not having the same rights as humans, Carson hadn't believed that. They were still human underneath. And when he was done, they were human on the surface. And still they had killed them.
Killed them because they were still Wraith underneath as well. Still Wraith in the eyes of everyone else.
His research had been a failure not just because he couldn't make the changes last, but because he couldn't change the mindset of those around him.
So he'd stopped. Stopped everything. No more research, no more experimenting.
And then they had taken Laura. Precious Laura.
They had killed her. Fed on her and then tossed her broken, aged body through the Stargate as a reminder of what they would do the rest of them.
When the memorial service had ended, Carson had gone back to the infirmary and the medical labs and began to pour over the files he had on the Prior Plague. The survivors from Earth and the Milky Way had brought the information with them when they had fled. They had come to Pegasus hoping for survival, hoping for a second chance at life in a place that Priors couldn't find them. And in a way, he was sure that they had found it.
But now, the information they had brought with them was all that mattered. Locked away in the genetic analysis they had done was the key to everything that they had been hoping for. And everything Carson had refused to see or even think about.
In the days and weeks that followed, Carson threw himself into his work. He spent almost every waking hour in his small private lab, working with the information he had from what he was learning during his experiments. Nothing existed for him outside of that room. His work was everything. And they let him do it, because they thought he was mourning in his own, odd way.
After he had given Elizabeth the report on his work, a rumour had begun to spread through the city that even Carson, in seclusion, heard. They were calling his work the RAID Plague. It was his greatest work. And because he had not named it, he began to label all the files and prototypes with the same name that was being whispered through the halls.
When they had captured another Wraith, Carson infected him with the RAID Plague and documented his observations. He was vaguely pleased with the results. It worked. And when Colonel Sheppard and his team came back with two Wraith, Carson infected one of them and watched as the plague destroyed first one and then the other. Spreading the just the way it was designed to.
While he could have perfected it further – increasing the speed with which the plague spread, Carson left well enough alone. He'd done what he'd set out to do.
They deployed the first batch of the RAID Plague on a Hive ship. They only needed to deploy the one batch. It would spread from Wraith to Wraith, from Hive to Hive, every time they made contact. Humans could carry the virus and infect other Hives and other Wraith they came in contact with, with no ill effects. Just like the Wraith would. The virus would linger for months in almost any given environment and spread when it encountered a vessel that could carry it.
There was only one cure. And Carson had used it all up inoculating those few Athosians who carried Wraith DNA. He knew it wouldn't affect anyone without the Wraith DNA because he had injected himself with the same strain of the RAID Plague
Leaning back in his chair, Carson closed his eyes. He was tired. So very tired. But his work wasn't done. Not yet.
So he sat back up and reached for the 9mm pistol sitting on his desk. He popped out the clip and checked to make sure that there was a single bullet in it before slamming it back home with the heel of his hand. Looking around his room one last time, he assured himself that he'd cleaned the place up. Taken out anything that could be reused by someone else and set it aside. Resources were tight again, now that Earth had been lost to the Ori and their Priors. He'd made sure that no one would have to suffer cleaning out his rooms and things. He'd save them that pain.
Laying the gun back down on the desk he pulled forward a single sheet of precious paper and scrawled out a single line on its surface. He pushed it back a safe distance and picked up the gun again.
Turning off the safety, he chambered the single round. Cocking back the hammer, he brought the cold unforgiving metal under his chin and tilted his head back, closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.
Blood and thicker bits splattered about the room and on the desk, pooling on the sheet of paper under the single line:
God forgive what I have become.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
They were desperate.
The RAID Plague was killing them. And they couldn't find a cure to save themselves. They couldn't even find the virus in their bodies to fight it. Nothing they did was helping. And everything they tried only made things worse. John had to smirk at that.
His head snapped back with the force of the blow to his face, and still he smirked. They couldn't feed. The RAID Plague had stolen from them the ability to feed and save themselves that way and then it killed them. Destroyed them on a cellular level. But they were desperate, searching for the cure they know Carson had made before he'd killed himself.
But there was none left, and no one knew how he'd made the cure in the first place. He'd twisted the Prior Plague to such a degree that the remaining doctors were studying his work, trying to figure out how he'd done it. John told them there was no cure for them. They didn't believe him. They couldn't believe him. Because if they did, they would have to give up and accept their deaths.
And while John felt his ribs crack, bones break, and skin open, he thought back in his mind, remembering everyone they had lost to the Wraith. He could recite the list from memory, starting the Colonel Sumner. He knew their faces and names. He'd helped set up the shrine-like room in Atlantis to honour their memories. Pictures and offerings filled that room, lit by candles and hazy with incense. It was a peaceful place in Atlantis, and it was a peaceful place in his mind.
He escaped some of the pain, but not all of it. He remembered Rodney's face when they had found out that John was pregnant because of some strange device on the planet they had visited. He remembered Rodney's expression the day Jamie Jennet McKay-Sheppard had been born. He remembered his daughter's fretful cries on that day.
He was going to be killed on a Wraith Hive and he was never going to see them again. He wasn't going to see Rodney. He'd never get to hold his daughter again. Never get to tell her he loved her one more time. He wouldn't able to say goodbye to Elizabeth or Zelenka or Lorne or Teyla. He'd never get to stand over Carson and Cadman's graves next to Rodney and tell them about all the things that have been happening.
He wasn't quiet dead yet when the Wraith Dart they had taken him off the Hive with dropped him off on the control tower balcony. He lived just long enough to see Rodney falling to his knees next to him, to catch a glimpse of Jamie chasing after Rodney before he finally died.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.
She watched detachedly as people filed through the event horizon of the Stargate, evacuating the city. There were five Wraith Hive ships fast approaching the lost city. It had been decided that they would evacuate the city, sending the families, scientists and many of the soldiers to their Alpha site. They took with them all of the city's supplies – medicine, food, clothing, ammunition, technology, personal belongs, and themselves.
Elizabeth watched them, but noticed as Rodney handed Jamie over to Lorne and turned towards the balcony overlooking the gate room. He was frowning up at her, and after all these years, Elizabeth knew what that frown meant. He was going to try and do something very stupid that he thought was right.
Turning sharply on her heel, Elizabeth pushed her way through the crowd waiting to leave and marched up to Rodney. "I'm not leaving, Elizabeth," he announced when she reached him, crossing his arms stubbornly over his chest.
Her heart ached a little when he did that, because they had discovered too late, one of the side effects of constant gate travel – the cessation of the aging process. Rodney was trapped in a body that would never show its age and would leave him lingering in life far longer than he'd ever wish. "You have to Rodney. This is not an argument, or a debate. You are evacuating this city with the rest of the personnel scheduled to leave," Elizabeth replied in a stern voice.
"I'm not leaving," Rodney repeated. "I designed the self-destruct for this city. No one knows it better than I do. I should be the one to stay to make sure that it goes off."
"And what about Jamie?" Elizabeth asked softly. It was a low blow, but she was not beyond fighting dirty when she had to. "Are you going to just abandon her? She needs you Rodney. You just lost John two weeks ago. She shouldn't have to lose both her parents like that."
She'd struck a chord with that one. She could see it in the way shadows passed behind his eyes. But she also knew what this was about. Rodney had designed the self-destruct for the city. More than that, he'd helped design the new protocols in such a way that they would likely take out two of the approaching Hive ships if they were lucky. But she didn't want Rodney to regroup and try to insist that if he tweaked a little more he might be able to make sure they took out all of them. The last five Wraith ships in the galaxy.
"You know Ancient Technology better than anyone, Rodney," Elizabeth went on. "They are going to need you to help start again at the outpost we found. Jamie is going to need you to help her get through losing John and you are going to need her to get through that as well." She reached out and brushed his cheek with the back of her fingers. "John wouldn't want you to kill yourself and leave Jamie alone. He'd want you to fight, Rodney."
"I know," he answered softly.
She hugged him tightly, holding him close.
When she let him go, she took a half step back and looked into his eyes. There were years in them that would never show on his body. A knowledge in them that might sink him if he couldn't find a way to fight that hold. Taking in a deep breath she forced out, "I'm sorry, Rodney." And then she placed her hands on his chest and shoved him backwards through the open wormhole.
She waited for the Stargate to disengage before she walked away, heading back to the command center.
Zelenka and Teyla were waiting for her there so they could arm the self-destruct.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I'm found,
Was blind, but now I see.
The children were sitting around her, staring up in awe at the story she had told them. It was the end of their lessons for the day and she wanted to make sure that this lesson stayed with them. It was important.
"They were our ancestors," she told them. "They sacrificed themselves to buy just a little more time to save us. And save us they did. Because of what they did, our home was never discovered until it was too late for the Wraith. The RAID Plague had already reached its final stages and they were too weak to come after us here. We honour their memory and their courage."
"Jamie! Come here for a minute!" the woman heard from far off.
Turning back to the children gather before her, she smiled to them. "That's all for our lessons for today. I want you all to write me a short piece about one of your ancestor who lived during the war for tomorrow. We will add your stories to the Shrine the day after that."