Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis, as much as that would be cool!
Author's Note: Okay, so this ended up being a lot longer than it was supposed to be... I hope you like it (I do, though not as much as I should...). I'll tell you the inspiration at the end, cause there actually was inspiration behind this... Um, it's been in the works for a while, finally finished it tonight, thought I'd post it, so here you go!
Oh, and for all those who read Cross Jurisdiction, there is a sequel planned... as soon as I finish exams and get to writing it! I even have an idea, and even have an idea for a third story in tha crossover... so, you know, seeing as how so many people liked it... nearly 300 reviews, so totally awesome!
Oh, and um, the italics are Sheppard and Ronon...
Blaze of Glory
Blaze of Glory
When the Daedalus dropped them off, they didn't expect to find either one of them alive.
"Go!" John called, his voice loud and clear even above the stunner blasts from all around them. "Get to the gate, don't wait!"
Teyla ducked as another blast came her way, even as she tried to hold Major Lorne up, Rodney on the other side. Marines surrounded her, most, if not all, injured, some unconscious, but all alive, just or desperately.
"Get through the damn gate now!"
Crying out, venting some frustration, she looked behind her, watching Ronon and John stand up, firing into the bushes, covering for her. Knowing it was now or never, she and Rodney hauled Lorne up: she heard the scientist gritting his teeth against his own sprained ankle. She didn't say a word – her fractured ribs wouldn't allow such misuse of air – but willed him, and the unconscious major, strength as they all hobbled towards the active Stargate, that shimmering blue event horizon tantalizingly close and yet so achingly far.
"Teyla move it!"
John's shout, half terror, half frustration, pushed her on, pushed her and the attacked soldiers on, and she leapt, taking the last few feet in one astounding jump. Time and space flew. And then they were on the other side, sprawled on the floor of Atlantis as personnel crowded around them.
One second later, the Stargate shut down.
They had been lucky, really, that the ship had even managed to get them back to the (former) alpha site inside a day. They figured that would be where their luck would run out, and the lack of transmitters only seemed to prove it.
So when they beamed down to the area where the Stargate was supposed to be, they were slightly shocked to find only Wraith bodies littering the ground. Of course, that was after they noticed the Stargate.
Or lack thereof.
Teyla, still wounded, but far too stubborn to be stuck on the sidelines for this retrieval, shared a look with the still tired, pale but just as stubborn Major Lorne, and then Doctor Keller as they rematerialized to find the Stargate a smoking ruin.
Sheppard looked behind him to make sure his people had all gone. Heaving a sigh of relief that they all seemed to have made it, he stood up, crouching, tapping Ronon on the shoulder as he passed the big Satedan. Their turn.
He hadn't even moved when the Dart fired and explosions ripped the area. Sheppard flew back to the ground, hitting one section of ruins hard enough to knock the wind out of him.
And when he sat up to find the Stargate gone, a molten mess in its place, the wind was knocked out of him for a second time.
While never possessing skills that approached Ronon's, Teyla was a fine hunter herself. A skilled woodswoman, as it were. She looked for signs, looked for any marks left by her friends, fearing the worst. Fearing that the Wraith had got them.
And then she found the shell casings. Scattered over a small area behind a block of ruins. Someone had put up a fight. Someone with a P90.
"John," she breathed, before calling the others over.
Sheppard tried not to freak. Tried not to lose hope, tried not to scream with the unfairness of it all. Instead he ducked back down, scanning the terrain nearby for any sign of Ronon.
The sounds of the Satedan's gun caught his ears, and he looked to his right, relieved to find Ronon not only alive but fighting back. The man was close by, though too far away for Sheppard to be able to see the effect of the ruined Stargate on his friend. But he was alive, and fighting, and goddammit they weren't just going to sit back and let the Wraith catch them. They would fight to their last breath.
"Colonel Sheppard made a stand here," Teyla told the gathered crowd, looking around, walking, immersing herself so completely in finding out what had happened that she could distance herself from the fact that it was her friends she was trying to find.
"And Ronon, here," she continued, finding the deeper marks where the Satedan had knelt. "They knew they couldn't get through the Stargate. So…"
She trailed off, trying to find the next set of marks.
He had to shout it to be heard above the noise of the Wraith stunners. Sheppard ducked down, pulling out his last clip of P90 ammunition. He sighed and gazed at it wistfully, knowing it wasn't going to be enough, before looking back at Ronon.
"That way," he mouthed, gesturing the other way. The tree line would provide cover, and hopefully they could make it back to the alpha site proper, where he could get ammunition, and shelter, and hell, maybe even something to take down that dart. Before the self-destruct on it blew them all to hell.
Ronon got what he was saying, and ducked down. Taking a deep breath, Sheppard got to his knees to look over the block of ancient whatever that was providing him protection. And he locked his finger on the trigger, sweeping his aim along the enemy front as Ronon made his way over to his commanding officer.
Sheppard ducked down again as Ronon joined him, allowing the taller man a quick grin. "Got ourselves a problem here, eh buddy."
Teyla licked her lips, trying, desperately trying to distance herself from the situation. "Ronon joined Colonel Sheppard."
She walked back to the shell casings, trying to determine John's knee marks from anyone else's feet marks. In the soft mud, it was relatively easy. "Then John moved… over here."
She walked to another pile of ancient rubble. "Ronon soon joined him once more. And then, again, they moved, over here, to the tree line."
In the darker light of the forest, it was harder to see.
Ronon had almost made it when Sheppard's ammo ran out.
Cursing, he tossed aside the P90 and grabbed quickly for his sidearm, the denser shots of the 9mm strange after the almost tinny rounds of the automatic. A moment later Ronon joined him under cover and they both ducked behind trees to avoid the stunner blasts.
And that was when the first Wraith showed up.
"There was an… altercation."
Teyla knew she sounded harsh. Knew she sounded cold. She couldn't bring herself to harbour any more emotion at the moment though. She had heard the Earth expression, a picture told a thousand words. Well, in this case, the picture told her far more than she wanted to know.
"Someone was injured," she explained, kneeling down and placing a hand protectively around her ribs. "They were bleeding as they fell to the ground. Most likely from a head wound."
Sheppard didn't even feel himself fall to the ground, or roll over. The next thing he knew, he was on his back, his head was ringing, and there was a Wraith standing over him, the pointy end of its stunner ready to impale him.
He held his breath and waited for the end.
It never came. A moment later the Wraith drone was hit by red, and it jerked, before falling to its knees and falling over.
Ronon took its place in his field of vision, offering a hand, which Sheppard gladly took.
"When did they start using stunners as clubs?" he demanded when the dizziness subsided. Ronon glanced at him, his eyes cold and deadly.
"When they decided we were too much trouble alive."
The dead Wraith body spoke proudly of Ronon's efforts. Keller was the only one who visibly ignored it, though the rest turned to Teyla also, for more explanation. She didn't deprive them.
"They ran, this way. They did not stop to fire, to cover each other." She followed the tracks, heedless of those following her. "They must have been low on ammunition."
The discarded P90 now in Lorne's arms had been a testament to that. Teyla shook her head. They couldn't have survived this.
She swallowed, and looked up at the team. "They must have headed for the shelter the alpha site provided."
They ran like hell.
They didn't stop, didn't look back, able to tell just from the sounds of breaking branches that there were Wraith on their tail. Hell, even the Darts were on their tail. But lady luck was shining down on them in that regard, and the trees provided enough protection from the beam or a weapons lock.
Sheppard's head pounded with every step he took, but he gritted his teeth against it, struggling to keep up with Ronon. He knew the Satedan wouldn't leave him behind even if he did begin to lag, but he also knew that would be just the problem.
And then the alpha site appeared before them, and the twenty feet of open space he had once though would be good for defence now seemed like the worst idea ever. Yeah, if they had been attacked, they would have been able to see the enemy easily.
But as soon as they emerged from the tree line, the Dart locked onto them and blasts dogged their steps.
Somehow they made it, made it to the shelter without being blown to bits, though it was a close thing. Sheppard was sure the heels of his boots were singed.
He and Ronon didn't even need to say a word. Like the brilliant soldiers they were, they split up at the entrance. Ronon dashed to the back of the makeshift room to grab weapons, while Sheppard ran up the stairwell for the machine gun located on the roof, determined to take down the Dart before it could kill them.
When Teyla led them into the open space where the alpha site had once stood, that pit in their collective stomach hardened like rock and they couldn't breath. Not just from the sight, but from the smell of burning wreckage and the knowledge that Sheppard and Ronon had put up one hell of a fight.
Sheppard launched himself at the machine gun latched onto the top of the roof, and swung it around, his sights quickly taking in the coming Dart, its whistle howling in defiance and promise.
Sheppard just glared at it, waited, and then pulled the trigger.
The repetitive firing of the M60 filled the air, but the pilot was used to such noise. He ignored it, concentrating instead on the Dart as the bullets found their mark.
Something began smoking, and then suddenly the Dart stopped firing. Sheppard didn't, bitter frustration keeping his finger on the trigger even as the Dart began spiralling and the pilot began getting a bad feeling…
Sheppard swore and slid back down the ladder, shouting out to Ronon as he nearly collapsed with dizziness at the bottom.
"Ronon, get out of here!"
He screamed it, trying to be heard over the whistling of the diving Dart, and somehow the Satedan's ears caught it. He looked up from where he was grabbing some guns and then across at the doors.
And then he ran for them.
Sheppard wasn't far behind, grabbing a few clips of ammo for his sidearm as he ran passed the table. His legs wobbled, but he kept going, ignoring his pounding head, ignoring his exhaustion, ignoring everything but the doors getting closer.
He was never going to be fast enough.
They had their guns back up, the crashed Dart a vivid reminder of exactly what Sheppard and Ronon had been stranded here with. Not that they thought the pilot of the Dart had survived. The space plane was a mess, one wing torn off, the front a mangled heap.
A bit like the building.
To their surprise though, they couldn't find any bodies. Well, the body of the Wraith gave Keller a bit of a shock when she went up to inspect the cockpit, but once more, there was no sign of Sheppard or Ronon.
But if they had been in the path of the Dart when it had crashed into the building, would there really be all that much left?
Ronon was flung to the ground as the building exploded, the heat singing his back and head as he fell into the ground, rolling, the blast ringing in his ears until he couldn't even hear properly.
He got up slowly, knowing he needed to be moving faster, but not sure that he could. There had to Wraith around, hunting him and Sheppard, trying to kill them, but his whole body suddenly ached, the concussion of the explosion still tearing through him as his body tried to come to grips with almost being blown up.
He got to his knees, and then his feet, nearly falling once but managing to catch himself. He was still holding onto two P90s he had grabbed so Sheppard could fight effectively.
Ronon spun on the spot, horror making his face pale as he took in the wreckage of the building, the one Sheppard had been in.
He ran towards the building, still shaky on his legs as the numbness fell away from his body, nearly falling over again as he stumbled. He dropped the P90s, holstered his blaster, spotting a body clothed in black laying sprawled over the rubble. Heart pounding, he fell to his knees besides Sheppard's body and rolled it over, shaking it as he tried to get the man to wake.
"Sheppard, come on buddy, you need to get up!"
Teyla made her way through the wreckage, heading towards the back, trying to ignore the smouldering ruin all around her. The others were trawling through the wreckage, looking for anything useful, or that would tell them what had happened.
And then Teyla spotted the blood.
The others rushed over, Lorne wincing as he led the charge to where she stood by the fallen wall of the crumpled alpha site. Blood covered a large pile of rubble.
"Oh, God," Lorne muttered as he came to a halt. "That's a hell of a lot of blood."
Teyla nodded, moving aside. "I know. But whoever left it, they didn't die here." She gestured at the ground. "There's slight drag marks. Someone took them away."
She moved to the outside, stepping over beams and rubble. "They went this way."
"Wraith?" Lorne asked, looking away, and around. "Were they taken by Wraith."
Surprisingly it was Keller who answered, nodding at something in the distance. "If that's the case, they didn't get very far."
Teyla and Lorne looked up at where she was gazing, and saw piles a hundred feet away. Piles of Wraith corpses.
"That's it, Sheppard, come on."
"That's it, Sheppard, come on."
Ronon tried not to swear, helping his friend to his feet. Sheppard was hurt – he could see the blood already coating his black shirt, under his arm – but they had to get out of here. Ronon could hear the Wraith getting close.
"Come on, buddy, on your feet."
"'m trying, Ronon," Sheppard slurred, blinking deliberately. "Jus get outta here."
"Not without you, Sheppard. Now, move your ass, before the Wraith's ears stop ringing."
Sheppard blinked again, and then brought his feet underneath his body, supporting his own weight. "Do Wraith even have ears?" he asked, even as he started looking around. "I don't think I ever looked before."
"It's not generally something people are looking at," Ronon told him dryly as they reached the dropped weapons. "Here. Can you see straight yet?"
Sheppard looked up at him with dazed eyes. But there was still a certain danger in them. "Well enough," he answered, taking the P90 from Ronon. "Just point me in the right direction."
Ronon had no need. A second later the first stunner blast came their way and they both turned, weapons up, fingers already on the trigger.
They all but ran over to the bodies, guns lowered by now, jogging amongst the corpses that were either riddled with bullet holes or singed by Ronon's blaster. They searched quickly, scanning the ground, and again, finding nothing. They went back through, kicking over bodies, taking a thorough look.
John and Ronon weren't here either.
"They headed back for the tree line," Teyla told them, picking up the trail once more.
The last Wraith fell and the two soldiers didn't even pause to celebrate. They could hear more of them, pounding through the forest towards their location.
They ran like hell.
They were in the cover of the forest when the first stunner blasts came their way, but they didn't stop to fight back, to make a stand, didn't slow down even as Sheppard felt more and more blood leak through the wound in his side. It burned like fire, but he didn't slow, didn't lag, refused to give up.
"We need… get… caves…" Sheppard gasped, holding one arm around his ribs. "Cover… fight… 'til… Daedalus…"
Ronon looked down at him as they ran, his eyes saying what his mouth never would dare utter, because of loyalty, because of pride, because of sheer damn stubbornness.
But he didn't think Sheppard would make it that far.
They headed into the mountains in silence, taking the staggering path that Ronon and Colonel Sheppard had taken. It was easy enough to follow: tread marks, signs of someone falling over, catching themselves with one hand, traces of blood littering the dirt every now and then.
Which meant the Wraith could have easily followed as well.
Teyla licked her lips as they came across the first Wraith body, and again with the second. She was sure at any moment that they would come across one not so alien, that they would come across the body of one they loved.
By the time they reached the fifth, alone, Wraith body, it was clear where the two men – injured, bleeding, alone, trampling up a steep incline – it was clear where they were headed. And Teyla didn't just mean the caves.
No, with a fight like this, dead or alive, these two men that she loved were headed for the stories of legends.
By the time they reached the caves, they were 'running' at little more than a fast walk up the incline of the mountain. Sheppard was panting loud enough to be heard a mile away, he was sure, but Ronon had not once said a word.
Behind them a clear trail of bodies marked their path.
Ahead, the caves stood, solid and stable, a haven for them to fight the Wraith and try to stay alive until the Daedalus reached them.
But all around, they knew, were Wraith.
Ronon nodded at the caves, a grin splitting his face. "We actually made it," the ex-Runner remarked, some relief shining through. "Come on, we better get inside, get ready for this."
They moved forward, Sheppard leaning like an old man, but leaning on his own, without aid. Ronon watched him carefully, making sure his friend didn't fall over, or collapse, because half his side was caked with his own blood. Maybe he should have been watching their surroundings instead.
The first stunner blast hit Ronon in the shoulder.
He cried out, but spun, still conscious, and Sheppard brought his P90 up, not aiming as he scattered the tree line with bullets. Puffs of red marked hits, but there were many of them. Too many.
Wraith poured forward, forgetting their stunners in the heat of battle. Sheppard wasn't so unfortunate, but the scattered fire of a P90 was useless in close quarters anyway. He pulled out his sidearm, a more precise weapon, and took out another three Wraith drones, determined to fight or die trying.
There was a moment of absolute clarity, of absolute silence and knowing. Sheppard and Ronon shared a look as the remaining Wraith came at them. And then their faces hardened, and they knew. Knew there was no 'or' about it.
They were going to die trying.
They emerged from the bloodied path of corpses into the clearing before the caves, and stopped, eyes wide, jaws dropping, taking in the sight of so many Wraith piled before the entrance to the cave.
Keller was the last to snap out of it, while rest moved forward, checking, once more, for their friends.
"I don't get it," she answered, her voice high and obviously strained from trying not to cry. "Wraith aren't easy to kill. But… How did Ronon and Colonel Sheppard…"
Teyla gave her a sad smile. "It's simple when you think you are already dead."
Lorne gave a cough as Keller looked down at the ground. "Teyla… over here."
The fight passed in a blur, and before Sheppard knew it, he was on the ground, and a Wraith stood over him, raising its stunner like a club once more. And John knew he wasn't going to survive this.
He couldn't get up: his side burned, his ribs ached, and he was exhausted. He had been running, had been blown up, and knocked out, could feel his life seeping out through the wound in his side…
And now the Wraith was going to put him out of his misery.
He should have known better than that. He should have known Ronon better than that. Suddenly the Satedan was looming over even the drone, one of his knives slitting its throat from ear to ear. And not even a Wraith could survive that. It fell to the ground, dead before it kicked up that small cloud of dirt on impact.
Sheppard lay his head back, tempted to close his eyes and end his misery anyway. But a grunt, and a second thud as of a body hitting the ground forced his eyes to remain open, his body to sit up, as he took in the form of his friend, his invincible friend, falling to his knees, then to a sitting position. As he took in the blood seeping out from the far too deep belly wound made the man's own knife, driven to the hilt into his body.
Teyla moved over to what Lorne was pointing at, saw the two marks, one made by someone laying down, getting up, rushing over to the second set of marks, of someone falling. A Wraith had laid between the two sets, but it had been roughly kicked aside as the first made his way to the second. As the first grabbed the second, and dragged him, with his last strength…
"The caves…" Teyla whispered, heart pounding, throat catching as she all but ran for the tiny entrance.
The cool of the caves made Sheppard's skin prickle, but he didn't recognise it as he dragged Ronon's body into the cover, as he knelt by his friend as blood began bubbling over the Satedan's lips.
"God, no, Ronon."
Sheppard swore, grabbed at the pocket on his vest, grabbed the field bandage, forgetting his own injuries in the rush. He had to apply pressure, couldn't let Ronon die, dammit, not after the man had saved his life so many times!
"Ronon, just… hold… Daedalus… here… soon…"
He was still gasping, still breathless, still hurting, still bleeding. But he was still alive, still alive, and that was all that mattered. So long as Ronon was still alive as well, and they could still go home to Atlantis.
Ronon looked up at him, actually peaceful as he too struggled to breath, struggled to stay alive, heaving and coughing, voice strained with pain and even some slight fear.
"Sheppard… Wraith… There are more… Wraith."
"I know!" Sheppard shouted, he shouldn't have shouted, because not only did it draw the attention this way, but he couldn't catch his breath as it was. "Just… Ronon… Stay… with me… come on… buddy… stay…"
"John," Ronon told him. "You need to watch… entrance… More Wraith out… there."
More blood too, God, there was so much blood, the bandage was already soaked through. John sat back, hands up, looking at it all, wanting to throw up at the way it stained his hands.
But Ronon was having none of that. He growled, and held out his hand, palm facing him. "You're a good man, Sheppard," he whispered. "A good soldier. A good friend. You saved my life."
Setting his face, Sheppard grabbed the offered hand in return, grasping it tight, afraid almost to let go. Ronon nodded at him, and they both knew. Maybe had known all along.
At least one of them wasn't making it off this rock alive.
Ronon nodded again, coughing, blood dribbling down his chin; Sheppard watched it in cold fascination as that good soldier within took over. The Satedan let go of his hand.
"Never give up, remember," Ronon ordered. "Watch the entrance and kill as many of those Wraith bastards as you can."
Once you were inside, the cave was deceptively big. But they didn't notice that. They noticed the blood. They noticed the stench.
They noticed the cold, hard body of their comrade, lying outstretched on the stony ground, eyes still open in the glassy stare of death.
They noticed their commander, crumpled near Ronon's body, discarded P90 by the entrance, bloody marks showing he had crawled his way back to his friend.
They noticed the stillness, and the determination, and the sheer stubbornness that had brought the two of them this far.
Teyla and Lorne, the first ones through, didn't even pause. They split up, each heading to one of the men, Teyla to Sheppard, Lorne to the Satedan.
Lorne's head dropped as he felt no telltale beat beneath his fingers. As if there would have been a pulse when those glassy orbs stared endlessly into the afterlife. He shook his head.
Teyla pressed her fingers firmly against John's neck, almost not breathing, as if her own breathing would steal the breath from the colonel.
And they all waited, inside the entrance, waited with bated breath.
They all jumped when Teyla gasped, her voice tight as she spoke, her eyes wide with…
"He's still alive!"
John wasn't sure how long it had been quiet for. To be honest he didn't think he would notice an elephant right now. Just breathing was getting harder and harder.
But he couldn't do it anymore. He was so tired, so cold, beyond shivering, beyond caring. He just couldn't do it anymore.
Not while the body of his friend lay right behind him, not backing him up, never backing him up again.
His numb fingers dropped the P90 – he didn't realize it was empty anyway – and he turned around, heading deeper into the cave, crawling, lacking the energy to even get to his feet, or remember to breath on a regular pattern.
And then he sat by Ronon, watched him lay there so still. Ronon was never still. Never.
John's throat didn't even catch when he realized what that meant. He couldn't think, couldn't see straight, his whole body was numb, the edges of vision blackening.
He didn't feel it when he slipped to the side, either, and then he felt nothing but darkness.
Teyla and Rodney took turns watching Sheppard sleep. One after the other, they never failed to have one of them there, by his bedside, waiting. Waiting for him to wake.
As it turned out, they both were there when he opened his eyes and looked at them for the first time in a week. Actually looked at them, coherent, and aware, and stunned beyond all reason.
He saw Teyla first, and his eyes widened, before he turned and looked at the movement to his side, Rodney, and his breath hitched. And then he was looking all around the infirmary, as he had never seen such a wonderful place in his life.
And then he looked back at Teyla.
"Am I dead?" he asked in a hollow voice, though his two remaining team mates caught the waver in it, underneath the attempt to reconcile himself with his own demise.
Startled by the question, and by the waver, Teyla's voice caught in her throat, and she shook her head. Rodney was more vocal about it.
"What?" he demanded. "No. Why would you…"
He trailed off as he got it, and he looked away, and down, backing up a few steps, the ultimate Rodney McKay actions when he wasn't prepared to deal with something.
Teyla never lost John's gaze, as he remembered what had happened, as he fought the visions that passed his eyes.
And then Sheppard swallowed. "Ronon?"
Tears slipped – not for the first time – and Teyla finally had to break the eye contact with John, dipping her head as she shook it again.
Sheppard grunted, looking away himself, but Teyla wasn't about to abandon him. She gathered her strength and looked up, grabbing John's hand in a tight hold, making him know that she was there.
It was a shock when Rodney did the same, but John didn't seem to mind, and for a moment they sat there, in silence and grief. The colonel stared at some long memory, and then he licked his lips.
"Never give up," he whispered, glad that his friends weren't trying to reconcile him with mindless words, like 'but you're still here,' or 'he went out fighting, that was what he would have wanted' no matter how true there were. No, his team, his friends, his family, they understood. He nodded, hands tightening around those of his family.
"Never give up," Rodney agreed, nodding his head.
Teyla held her head high, getting it. "He didn't give up, John. You didn't give up. You fought like you have never fought before."
There was a pause as Rodney got it too. "It's just that… Sometimes you can fight like you never have before, and the fight will still kick your ass," the scientist told him, taking his seat.
"It does not mean the fight is worthless," Teyla told him, giving his hand a squeeze.
"It just means you'll go out in a blaze of glory when you do," McKay continued.
John gave them a weak, sad smile, some part of him wondering if they had rehearsed this as he removed his hands from theirs. It wasn't a rejection, it was just confirmation that he would be okay. Not now, not today, or tomorrow, but eventually. He nodded.
"Never give up, right."
So, the inspiration... I read an article with Jason Momoa about how he would like Ronon to leave the show. He said some stuff about all guns blazing, him and Sheppard, on some planet killing some Wraith where they both die, but they both die in one of the biggest show downs of all time. Don't take that as verbatim, that's just what I basicaly remember from it.
Figured, okay, I can do that. Except I didn't really feel like killing Sheppard this time... So only Ronon got to cark it!
Hope you liked it!