Title: Evidence of Things Unseen
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine, the world is not.
Summary: Nothing in the faith of Lorne's childhood had equipped him to deal with such challenges. 1200 words.
Spoilers: Set during SGA 4.20 "The Last Man"; minor SG-1 references
Notes: Written for delwrites in the ninebillion ficathon, for the request: "Lorne-centric. With the SGC he saw gods die and his faith died with them. He finds it again in Atlantis." Originally written March 27, 2008.
Lorne stared down from the balcony of Atlantis' gate room, watching the silent ring as though it might activate and disgorge their missing colonel at any moment.
He knew better, of course; it had been eleven days since Colonel Sheppard's disappearance, and he'd been there on-planet when the man had stepped into the wormhole that was supposed to take him back to the city. The symbols had all been correct-- and of all the problems the Stargate program had encountered over the years that might highjack a correctly dialed wormhole, Lorne knew that none of them lent themselves to a quick, easy fix.
All the same, he found himself wandering down to the gate room whenever he had a spare minute, wondering if that would be the moment McKay would finally figure out what had happened, or the moment Sheppard would rescue himself and dial in. Lorne wasn't alone in the habit, either; most of Atlantis' personnel had been unusually restless in the last few days, even those fairly new to the city that hadn't known the colonel well.
The current commanding officer was no exception. Lorne nodded to Colonel Carter as she came out of her office and joined him in his vigil. "Evening, ma'am," he greeted her. "Any news?"
"No." She sighed and leaned against the railing, weary lines etching furrows at the corners of her eyes and mouth. "We've ruled out Wraith or Genii interference, and the DHD records on the planet checked out. Rodney's still digging into possible errors in the programming, or natural causes that might have diverted the wormhole from its intended destination, but there are a lot of variables. It may be a few more days before he has anything concrete."
Lorne nodded. He hadn't been one of the original group of soldiers assigned to the Stargate program-- he'd joined them after one of their early expansions, much like he had with the Atlantis project-- so he hadn't been there for the infamous Antarctic incident, but he'd read the reports and heard the scuttlebutt. And he had been there for several of the other wormhole malfunctions that had befallen SG-1 over the years. If there were anyone in Atlantis who knew just how many variables there were to consider, it would be Colonel Carter.
"Understood," he said. "I'll keep holding a team on standby until he does."
Carter turned to look at him then, brow knit in concern. "You know this isn't going to be a simple rescue mission," she cautioned him. "If there had been enemy involvement, it would be one thing, but this was a mechanical malfunction. If he was sent to a space gate, or into the far past, or if he was trapped in the buffer--"
Lorne shook his head. "Or he could have been sent into the near future, or picked up by Larrin's people, or something else that we haven't thought of yet."
She stared at him thoughtfully for a minute, then chuckled and shook her head. "You know, when I was on SG-1, it was usually my team trying to convince the general that there was still hope, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to find that attitude here, as well."
"Colonel Sheppard has been in some pretty tight spots before," he allowed.
"Still, that kind of faith-" she said, then trailed off thoughtfully, turning her attention back down to the gate. "I didn't have enough time here when SG-1 visited to deal with the supergate to get a good feel for morale in the city, and I was a little concerned when I took this assignment. After the environment at the SGC-"
She didn't seem to know how to finish that sentence, and Lorne was just as glad. "I know what you mean, ma'am," he said, neutrally.
He did, actually, though he suspected that his experience had been far different from hers. His time on SG-11 had been just another job; a slightly exotic one, perhaps, but once the interplanetary commute was taken out of the equation, not much to get excited about. Excavations and the occasional skirmish; not exactly faith-building material. The incident with the Unas had been the most extraordinary thing that had happened in his years with the team, and that one had, in the end, turned out to be just another footnote to the legend of Dr. Jackson.
Instead, Lorne had watched from the sidelines as false deity after badly dressed false deity had fallen beneath the heel of SG-1; as the SGC's scientists had folded and spindled the fabric of the universe in ways he was sure it was never meant to go; as little gray aliens also known to be false deities had interacted with humanity as though they were toddlers, or favorite pets; as soulless killing machines that had adopted man's own image had snuffed out countless millions of extraterrestrial lives. He hadn't gone to church since before he'd joined the program; he hadn't prayed since the day Dr. Jackson had walked through the gate, alive, more than year after his death. Nothing in the faith of Lorne's childhood had equipped him to deal with such challenges.
Something about Atlantis, though-- after the environment at the SGC--
It wasn't that he'd gone back to reading his Bible regularly, or anything. He was still pretty sure that Whatever watched over their lives didn't look much like the God he'd learned about in Sunday School. But faith, by definition, was the evidence of things unseen-- a firm belief in something for which there was no proof. Maybe it was his artist's eye for detail and pattern finally kicking in, or maybe it was just that he'd finally let go of the limitations of his earlier beliefs and opened himself to greater possibilities, he didn't know. But everywhere he looked, he saw the movement of the Unseen hand: the stamp of a Maker tending to a Creation.
So maybe that Maker didn't protect the life of every sparrow, or answer every prayer. The Atlantis project had experienced just as many crippling losses as it had miracles, if not more, and the people of the Pegasus Galaxy at large had had it even worse. Even the Ancients, as long-lived and powerful as they were, had proven fallible. But the greater picture, as a whole, kept resolving toward order; time and again, fate came down on the general side of those who spent their lives serving others. Lorne found it impossible to believe that the living fulcrum point known as John Sheppard would be allowed to pass out of that picture anytime soon.
Beyond that, though-- he had faith in Sheppard himself; in Sheppard's team; in his own people, in the drive and ingenuity of these men and women who had chosen to come so far from Earth and give their all for a job, a city, a people they'd never be able to discuss back home. They'd weathered everything thrown at them so far, and he knew they'd weather this, too.
"I hope there'll be better news tomorrow," Colonel Carter finally said, interrupting his thoughts.
Lorne smiled. "I'm sure there will be," he replied.