The Epilogue

'I wish you to find out.'

Two guards fell to the floor and lay there, motionless. The last one went to the console and pushed the controls, removing the force-field. He opened the cage door, then joined his comrades on the floor.

The male Wraith turned his head, then slowly picked himself up and walked to the cage door. The female Wraith could almost feel how his body shook from the weakness.

"It was not my intension to see you die," she said, observing the pathetic creature, which was trying to steady itself, leaning against the cage bars. "Not like this, anyway."

"Right." Nothing human was left in this voice, low and raspy.

The Wraith was looking at the human bodies on the floor.

"Eat," said the female. "I thought I would enjoy your misery and death – but I am not. Apparently one needs a soul of a special quality to enjoy the sight of a dying being."

The male Wraith didn't say anything. He slowly walked towards the immobile humans and stood over them, as if unsure what to do next.

"Take this." The female pulled the ring from her finger and threw it through the bars. The ring easily passed through the force field of her cage, fell to the floor, and rolled toward the bodies. "It will take you to the gathering place, and scramble the address after you go. Somebody is usually hanging around there. Ask where Chris went. If you will not find him, ask for Pony Tail. Tell him it is my wish that you would stay with his family for a while."

The male Wraith didn't respond.

"Let's face it," she continued. "Your fate is not with the human race anymore."

The Wraith bent down, but didn't pick up the ring. Instead he scooped up a P90, which was lying next to the immobile body of the one of the guards.

The female Wraith winced, seeing how much effort this simple move cost him.

"It's heavy and inconvenient," she said, still making a grimace. "Eat. Eat, and you will understand that you don't need a weapon. How many people are there in the Gate room? Twenty the most. An adult male can fight twice as many empty-handed. And win."

"How do you know?" He didn't look at her. She could see only his non-human profile, half covered with overgrown spiky hair.

"Eat. And you will know it too."

"You are just dying to see me give in." Apparently P90 felt unfamiliar to the Wraith's claws – he turned it around. And again, and again.

"No. I am dying unconditionally." The female smirked. "I am starving. I cannot hold them down forever – eat and go."

The Wraith stopped playing with the weapon – its short barrel pressed to his chest.

"Quit the nonsense." The Wraith female grimaced. "Oh, well. I promise you, if Chris… when Chris finds the cure, I will come looking for you. I will ask you then if you want to be a human again."

"He left you," the male Wraith noted flatly.

"He will be back," the female responded. "It is not the first time we have quarreled. Now, could you please eat? Please? It is a real pain to watch you."

The Wraith didn't respond, looking at the weapon in his claws.

"Don't be daft," said the female. "You die - you lose."

The Wraith snorted, as if suppressing the laughter. "I almost did…"

-o0o-

The Wraith, who had been John Sheppard once, was still standing, when the emptied P90 made a couple of clicks and went silent. Then he dropped the weapon and fell on his face.

Mouse waited. Then she waited a little longer. Then she sat down. Not the Wraith semi-crouch – she sat on her butt and hugged her raised knees. She kept looking at the lifeless shape on the floor, realizing, for the first time, that this pile of the bones, this empty shell, this miracle that was no more, was perhaps as magnificent as any other living being in the Universe.

Then she lay on her back and closed her eyes, listening to the whirlpool of Infinity spinning around her, slow and majestic.