Disclaimer: I don't own 'Stargate Atlantis' or any related concepts or characters; you know the drill by now. Also, the basic details of the plot were inspired by 'The Phantom of the Opera', although I have naturally put my own spin on things; hope it meets with your approval
Feedback: Always appreciated, trust me
AN: There's no direct connection between them- indeed, the whole thing's just one of those really freaky coincidences-, but if you go on YouTube regularly, I can highly recommend starg8rocks' Phantom/Atlantis videos, located at http://www(dot)youtube(dot)com(forward slash)watch?v(equals)YNuKjj0yGNU and http://www(dot)youtube(dot)com(forward slash)watch?v(equals)JlbSf3lpRI0; by a remarkable coincidence- and I assure you it's nothing more than that; the two of us haven't communicated beyond my comments on the videos themselves- they very accurately capture the mood I intend to create here. Whether I succeed in that goal when writing the story itself… well, that's for you to decide
AN 2: This story begins at the moment that the Atlantis expedition enter the city in the first part of "Rising", but there are significant differences between events as they took place in the series and the events as they occur here. The reasons for these changes will be explained over time, but, at the moment, just read on and see if you can spot what's different from the original episode and work your way up from there…
The Phantom of Atlantis
As Doctor Elizabeth Weir stepped through the Stargate for the first time, there was a momentary rush around her, as though something was rapidly hurrying past her in the opposite direction, and then she found herself stepping out of the 'puddle' of another Stargate, this time located in a vast, elaborate structure like nothing she had ever seen before. The hall before her wasn't the largest room she'd ever been in, but it certainly had a great deal of space to spare for anyone entering via the Stargate, and the steps immediately opposite and to the sides made it clear that this wasn't the full extent of the room she was now in. She could only just make out the doors to either side of her, of course- the room was illuminated well enough, but the doors themselves were overshadowed by the balcony-like structures above them-, but it was enough for her to confirm that there were other rooms around there, and the balconies and stairs ahead of her only served to reinforce that fact.
As Colonel Marshall Sumner barked out orders at the rest of the soldiers who'd come through in the first wave to secure the immediate area- she couldn't help but feel that slightly excessive; what was likely to be dangerous in a city that had been abandoned for over ten thousand years?- Elizabeth took in the rest of her surroundings. A brief glance upwards was all she needed to realise that they were currently standing in the upper part of a tower of some kind, based on the sheer height of the ceiling above her, with what looked like Ancient writing illuminated on several of the pillars and walls around them. For a moment, Elizabeth wondered how the writing could have still been illuminated after the city had been abandoned until now- the immediate area she could interpret as the city reacting to the presence of new arrivals, but nobody had gone near some areas and they were still lit up- but she pushed it aside; it was probably just the Ancient equivalent of leaving the lights on in the kitchen to discourage burglars or something.
While Colonel Sumner continued to issue orders as further soldiers arrived, Elizabeth took advantage of the few moments she'd have before the entire expedition to take in the sights and sounds of the room around her, unable to conceal the awe on her face as she took in the location that was now technically hers.
She had been awed when she first saw the Stargate in action.
She had been impressed when she witnessed General Hammond commanding the Prometheus.
But now… to stand here and see the building that may have been the greatest creation of the first race to ever evolve in their galaxy, if not the universe itself…
It was incredible.
"Security teams," Sumner said from off to one side of where she currently stood, "any alien contact?"
"Negative, sir," a voice responded over the radio.
"Team Four negative, colonel," another voice subsequently added.
As more and more of the expedition members and their equipment continued to come through the Stargate, Elizabeth slowly forced her attention off the awe at their new… home, she supposed was the only term that fit… and turned back to look as the rest of her staff arrived, each of them looking around the city with the same awe that she herself had felt as she saw it for the first time.
After a few further moments of taking in the sights around her, Sumner's voice broke her train of thought.
"That's everyone," he said simply.
As the last of the newly-arrived scientists moved to place their equipment down around the hall, Elizabeth removed the radio from her belt and raised it to her mouth.
"General O'Neill?" she said, smiling slightly as she spoke into the radio. "Atlantis base offers greetings from the Pegasus Galaxy. You may cut power to the 'gate."
Almost as soon as those words were out of her mouth, a bottle of champagne was sent rolling through the Stargate, stopping almost exactly in front of her as the wormhole cut out and vanished. Picking up the bottle, Elizabeth smiled slightly as she studied the label- Bon Voyage! General Jack O'Neill-, but swiftly turned to look at the rest of the expedition. Glancing up at where Doctor Rodney McKay stood alone at what looked like the Stargate control room, Elizabeth briefly nodded at him- the man wasn't the most pleasant person she'd ever worked with, but she couldn't deny his talents as a scientist- before she turned to look at the rest of the expedition.
"All right," she said, nodding at the mass of soldiers and scientists before her. "We're here now; everyone spread out and see what you can find."
Up near the ceiling of the hall, unnoticed by the rest of the Atlantis expedition, around the edge of the tunnel in the ceiling that linked the main room with the shuttle bay above it, a silent figure crouched near a small window on one of the walls, studying the assortment of figures now gathered in the hall below with a wide-eyed gaze of incredulity under the gleaming silver mask that covered most of his face.
After a moment's silent observation, however, the man's expression softened slightly as he looked at the new arrivals to the city, an almost wistful smile visible at the corner of his mouth. Even as the first arrival- a rather weather-beaten looking man in what the figure would guess to be his early to late forties- ordered his men to secure the surroundings, the figure remained still; he was so high up inside the tower that they would never get into a position that would allow them to discover his presence without him realising what was happening and relocating to another location. The slight smile on his face only became broader as the red-haired woman he'd noted earlier spoke into her radio as the last person walked through the Stargate; he'd worried for a moment that the weather-beaten man was in charge of this thing.
If she was speaking to whoever was on the other side, however, it leant some weight to the idea that she was in charge…
Which, the figure had to admit to himself, he greatly preferred to the alternative; she struck him as being a bit more… open… to some of the things he'd encountered in his time here than the first man would had been.
However, that brief moment of contentment failed to last long; almost as soon as the smile had spread across his lips, something else seemed to occur to him as he took in the sheer number of people that now filled the floor below him.
His eyes momentarily widening once again under the mask, the figure stood up as much as his current confined space would allow and walked away, heading deeper into the heart of Atlantis even as the new arrivals began to spread out around the city.
The figure may have remained silent since the Stargate had first activated, but his posture and stance made one thing clear; he had something to do, and he was going to attend to it straight away.
AN 3: OK then, if anybody wants to guess who that masked man was, feel free, but you'll have to wait a while before you learn anything more definite about him (Although I freely admit that his identity's going to become obvious sooner rather than later)…