We, the Sparky Army, decree 2008 to be the Year of the Spark. We pledge to post a new sparky story or chapter of a sparky story every day from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008. Though the Powers the Be have removed Elizabeth Weir from the regular cast of Stargate Atlantis, we feel that she remains an integral part of the show, and that the relationship between her and John Sheppard is too obvious to be ignored. We hope that you, and anyone might happen to read these works, agree.

And if that isn't official enough for you, we don't know what is. Seriously, guys, we're just trying to have some fun--and show TPTB that Sparky is the way to go. So sit back and enjoy the 366 stories coming your way!

A/N: With deepest apologies, I'm afraid this is going to have to be a four-parter. All I can say in my defense is a very close friend is going through a very difficult time, and she's needed all the support I can give her; which means there has been very little time left for writing. I love all of you who have been so kind and encouraging in your reviews, and can only beg your understanding and forgiveness. The final installment is already partly written, so the fourth one should TRULY be the last! -- Mama Jo


Denouement

Part III

Mama Jo


Once before, believing Elizabeth dead by Kolya's hand, he'd hunted Genii soldiers through the intricate vastness of Atlantis: Hunted them, and very methodically killed them. His actions then had been taken in the line of duty -- more or less. Now, though. . .

. . .Now was an entirely different matter.

As before, he hunted alone; by choice this time, rather than by necessity. By his order, all teams had been withdrawn from the active search to establish airtight perimeters around Atlantis's most critical zones, including all the site-to-site transporters closest to those core areas. His own team had reluctantly remained behind at the infirmary -- extremely reluctantly. Oddly enough, Ronon had capitulated first. Or perhaps not so oddly: He'd lost a wife -- John had fiercely refused to think the word "too." McKay, of all people, had been the one who'd needed his sternest, coldest stare before he'd backed down. Amazing, but the chunky Canadian scientist still had the ability to surprise him sometimes.

P-90 at the ready, eyes flickering from his surroundings to the life signs detector in his left hand, Sheppard eased down an open flight of metal steps. For the last several minutes, a bluish white dot had been appearing and disappearing at the extreme forward edge of the device's screen. He paused just past the halfway point, frowning at its will o' the wisp antics. Something really weird was going on. It was almost as if--

John could never afterward say what warned him; whether it was some sound just at the threshold of hearing, or some other indefinable sensory clue. One second he was poised on the staircase; the next, his muscles were catapulting him off it into twelve feet of empty air. As soon as his boots touched the floor, he instinctively tucked and rolled to dissipate some of the impact of his landing, feeling his breath jolt out of his body. At the very same instant, an explosion obliterated the stairs just above the point he'd jumped from.

Sheppard flattened himself, covering his head with his arms while fragments of metal pinged and whined all about him. Nor did all of them miss. Though his tac vest protected his vital organs from the flying shrapnel, he felt a fiery slash across the back of his left forearm. Son of a--! His ears still ringing from the blast, he used knees and elbows to propel himself swiftly to the nearby cover of a massive support pylon. He drew up into a cautious crouch. It's almost as if he knew-- He raised the life signs detector to eye level, wincing at the answering stab of pain as he rotated his left wrist.

On the screen, the elusive dot he'd been tracking was creeping downwards from the top, edging closer to his position. His headset clicked.

"Sheppard," the familiar, falsely smooth, hated voice murmured into his ear, "Weir is dead, did you know? I killed her. Just as I'm about to finish killing you--"

((()))

"He's got to know." Ronon's voice cut implacably across McKay's profane rant. He towered over his companions as he unconsciously rolled his shoulders back. "I'll go."

"And I." Teyla took up a position at the Satedan's right elbow, her grief-drawn face determined. McKay immediately flanked her, arms crossed over his chest, his prominent chin outthrust belligerently. Off to one side, a totally exhausted and battered Doc Beckett leaned on the crutch he'd finally accepted, looking very much as if he would like to add his support to their line.

Major Lorne's blue eyes, puckered in equal parts worry and outrage, evaluated them unflinchingly. He had his superior officer's clear orders. Willfully violating them could mean, at best, an official reprimand and having his bloody, mangled tail handed to him on a platter; at worst, a court martial and the end of his Air Force career. But of all the commanding officers he'd ever had, of all the officers he'd ever known, only two -- General Hammond and General O'Neill -- came close to inspiring the fiercely intense, deeply personal respect and loyalty he had for Colonel Sheppard. And truth be told, sitting on his figurative hands while all the time knowing his CO was out singlehandedly hunting that monster had eaten a hole in his gut, too.

He puffed a breath, his decision made. "Orders be damned," he said. "On my authority, we'll all go."

To Be Continued