Disclaimer: I do not own 'Stargate: SG-1', 'The 4400' or any of the characters associated with either show.
Richard and Kevin had both opted out of the proposed plan for promicin distribution, insisting that they wouldn't play any part in passing out a substance that would kill half of the people who took it. Thanks to Tess, they had been prevented from interfering, or from revealing the whereabouts of Jordan or the promicin, and as their involvement was not known, they had returned to the 4400 Center to continue their own work for the greater good.
Even without them, Jordan had no shortage of volunteers, and the task of passing out the shots had been entrusted to the groups of homeless people who had first heard his message.
"Each of you will receive one bag. Inside the bag you will find an envelope with travel money and the name of your destination." He announced, holding one of the envelopes high to illustrate. "We don't have much time. Go. These shots are free. Give them to anyone who wants one but be careful to explain the risks.
"Okay, come on." Will said, opening the cooler he carried and beginning to pass out the sealed bags containing the syringes of promicin. "Now everybody take one. That's it."
"Thank you all," Jordan said, shaking their hands. "You're about to impact the world in a way that will never be forgotten."
He had failed.
He had allowed the promicin that had been taken from Isabelle to be stolen, and by the last person in the world they wanted to get his hands on it. Worst of all, he had allowed NTAC, not to mention Samantha Carter and her colleagues at the SGC, to learn about the deal he had made with Isabelle. It wouldn't be long before they came to him, looking for answers, wanting to know who he had been working for.
His superiors hadn't said a word when he made his report but their stony expressions had spoken volumes.
He had made no apologies for his failures. It wouldn't have done him any good.
They had allowed him to go home, but he wasn't naive enough to think that it would end there.
Ryland poured himself a measure of whiskey, swirling it in the glass for a moment before taking a sip, savouring the flavour as he looked out the window. It figured that it would be raining.
He didn't hear the door creak open, and he didn't hear the footfalls at first, not until they were very close. When he looked behind him, he could only see a pattern of wet footprints on his carpet. There was no sign of the person who had made those tracks, but he still knew who it was.
"Hello, John." He greeted calmly, looking at the spot where he estimated that the other man was standing. He raised his glass. "Do I have time to finish this?"
"Ah! There you are!" Vala's grin was broad as she made her way into Sam's lab, pulling out one of the stools and sitting down opposite her. "You are a hard woman to find – I pride myself on my sense of direction but all these corridors look the same to me."
"Hi, Vala." Sam looked up from her project with a smile. "Has Dr Weir made arrangements to let you go back through the stargate to your own planet?"
"I don't have one." Vala told her bluntly. "And that's what I wanted to talk to you about."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I was wondering if you fancied the idea of coming along – no, hear me out." She said hastily, seeing that Sam was ready to decline her offer. "I think that we could make a great team. With your abilities, you could make one hell of a colleague, and I'm prepared to offer a very generous cut if you'll sign up."
"I figure we split everything down the middle, eighty-twenty – I get the eighty." She added, just in case Sam got the wrong impression. "And if you insist on occasionally doing the whole greater good, save the innocents thing, I can live with that... as long as you don't make a habit of it. So what do you say?" She asked, beaming. "Since the 4400 get treated like crap on this planet, maybe a change would be good for you – and if you have any 4400 friends who'd like to come along, I'm sure that I can find something for them to do."
"That's a very generous offer," Sam began, trying her best to keep a straight face, "but I don't think that would be such a good idea."
"Why not?" Vala asked. "If you don't want to leave Colonel O'Neill behind, you can bring him with us."
"I have my work to do here."
"If you like, instead of Sam going with you, you could stay here." Weir suggested from the doorway, startling both of the other women. "I mean it," she said kindly, seeing Vala's disbelieving look. "Now that we don't have the Goa'uld or Replicators to worry about, we'll be sending SG teams out to explore the parts of the galaxy we haven't been able to get to yet. We could use somebody who knows her way around."
"You should think about it." Sam encouraged her. "It really is a great place to work."
Vala considered for a few moments before speaking. "What does this job pay?"
Jonas Quinn had grown up on a world fraught with conflict, with all sides vying to build the most powerful, most destructive weapons possible, all afraid that if they didn't work to advance their own offensive technologies, they would be caught unawares when one of the other groups perfected their own weapon and targeted them.
Nearly five years ago, they had come close to being destroyed by naquadriah, a powerful substance that the three nations that made up Langara had agreed they were better off avoiding from now on, which had set off a chain of events that had led to him joining SG-1 for a year, after Dr Jackson's death.
He had enjoyed his time on SG-1, had enjoyed exploring the galaxy and examining the many artefacts that the SG teams had brought back through the stargate, souvenirs from countless different cultures, but his own people had needed him to return, and he had been kept very busy since then, coordinating exchange programs between the great universities of each continent, so busy that when he had a couple of hours to himself, as he did this afternoon, he took full advantage of it.
The grounds of the University of Kelowna were beautifully landscaped, maintained by a team of gardeners and they were his favourite place to sit, to read, even to think. He settled on his favourite bench, book in hand, to enjoy the afternoon sunshine.
A shadow fell over the pages, as though there had been an eclipse of the sun.
Jonas looked up to see huge ships looming over the city.
His first thought was that they reminded him of toilets.
The word was out, and all around the country, people scrambled to get their hands on a shot at a 4400 ability. Those handing out the precious liquid that would give them this chance made little or no attempt to hide what they were doing, and as per their instructions from Jordan, they all made certain that every single person to whom they handed one of the promicin-filled syringes was fully aware of the risk that he or she would be taking.
It weighed heavily on most of them that half the people who came to them would be dead within forty-eight hours of taking the shot, but the other half would develop a new, superhuman ability, one they could use to make the world a better place. They believed that what they were doing was not only right; it was essential.
They needed to believe it.
In an alley in Seattle, a heavyset, bearded vagrant called for calm as he distributed the syringes, trying to assure all those around him that he had plenty left.
Something about the woman who stood in front of him now made him reluctant to hand her a syringe, despite Jordan's orders than anybody who wanted the shot was to be given it. The desperate glint in her eyes was hardly an unfamiliar sight at this point, but it was the almost greedy expression she wore that made him hesitate. Of all those he'd seen so far, she was the first who didn't seem to carry any sense of foreboding as she regarded the syringe, and the luminescent yellow liquid within.
"Remember," he called after her as she walked away, "there are no guarantees!"
She kept walking, he couldn't make out all of what she was saying over the rising clamour about him but caught the tail end of her response "... never are." He turned to a man on his left, and held up another syringe. "How 'bout you?" he enquired. "Fifty-Fifty. You want the shot?"
Maybourne reached and plucked the syringe from the other man's hand. He held it above his head, examining the liquid curiously under the beam of a streetlight. "Sure," he shrugged, as if some kid at a fast-food counter had asked him if he'd like a dessert to go with his burger. "Why not?"
THE END (for now)
Author's Note: I hope to start posting the next part of this series, titled "The Walled City", in the near future. In case anybody is curious, Maybourne isn't the only character who will be taking the shot but I'm not going to give away who else is getting it just yet.
To everybody who has been reviewing, thank you for all your kind words and encouragement. I hope that you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.