A/N: Hello! I have wanted to tell this story (or put Sheppard in this dilemma) for some time and only just came up with the way I wanted to do it. This is written partly to tell that story, and partly to collect my fanfic badge for a "Sheppard's in trouble with the law...again" story. Hopefully you will find it entertaining and a little bit disturbing. I do deeply apologize if my ignorance of the law or military justice is distressing in any way, no offense is ever intended, and gratefully corrected.


"Sheppard, you can't do it!"

John's hands clenched on the jumper controls and the head's up display came to life with the drone targeting program.

"Can't McKay?" his voice was a dangerous growl. "Teyla and Ronon…"

"Knew the risks when they came through that 'gate with us this morning. We all did…do?"

John jerked his head, "So I'm just supposed to sit here and let that place suffocate the life out of them?" The growl was bordering on an anguished plea.

"No! I… I don't know!" John could hear the anguish in McKay's voice too, and the deep emotion spilling out of the carefully narcissistic scientist stayed John's hand more than any furious tirade.

"What do I do, McKay?" They were supposed to figure it out. They were supposed to have a plan that would save the day. That would save everyone.

"I got nothing." Rodney tilted his head, then looked away in resignation. "If you fire a drone…"

"I KNOW," John bellowed, feeling like he couldn't bear to hear the argument even one more time. "If I don't, Teyla and Ronon die."

"You can't do it." Rodney's voice was very small.

John's hands flexed against the controls again, the mental command to fire so dangerously close to realization that the display flickered, then magnified closer to the target in a half-hearted attempt to interpret the pilot's conflicting signals.

I'd do anything, for any one of you. If it meant laying my life down like Ronon was going to do, I'd do it.

John closed his eyes briefly – a last moment before the decision was made. The only decision he could make. When he opened them again, they were determined and just a little bit sad. A drone leaped away from the jumper, disappearing quickly from their view against the vast bulk of the planet they were descending towards.

A small flash marked the drone's impact, then the point around the flash seemed to glow, spreading quickly outward in an expanding ring of red-black devastation. The circle of lava-like molten fire raced over the planet's surface, consuming fully a quarter of the planet's landmass with frightening speed before finally turning black and cooling at the edges. The circle ceased to spread, lying like a glowing boil on the devastated land.

"I can't believe you did it…" whispered Rodney.