The gateroom was quiet, with only a sole occupant attending the city's controls when a seldomly used panel lit up. The attendant, a former Air Force Lieutenant by the name of Devonshire, woke from her bleary-eyed stupor and turned toward the blinking yellow lights, unsure of what was happening.
She turned back to her laptop status display…only to belatedly remember that Stevenson had removed all such devices in the control room in favor of English translations input into the Ancient control terminals.
Devonshire cursed lightly then dragged up a schematical display of all functionality in the control room…a feature that she'd been relying on heavily since the trained control room staff had all returned back to Earth like good little minions.
She found that particular panel tagged as a long range communications node, and briefly reviewed the protocol for retrieval. A moment later she swung her chair across the smooth floor over to the still blinking console and brought up the message packet in hologram above her fingertips.
The message was written in Ancient, and she didn't know how to institute a translation program so she radioed for assistance. Teyla was the closest nearby and quickly arrived in the control tower.
"What have you found?" she asked as she strode up the stairs.
"I have a message, written in Ancient, but it didn't come over the subspace communications channels. It came through this console instead."
Teyla looked at both the console and the message floating above it in turn and frowned in confusion. "I don't think it's written in the language of the Ancestors."
Devonshire glanced back at the message. "Looks Ancient to me."
"No," Teyla said assuredly, looking at the small box corners and dots that made up the language's characters. "I've seen many forms of the Ancestors' language here in Atlantis…this is not one of them."
"Ok…then what do you want me to do about it?" Devonshire asked.
Teyla raised an eyebrow. "Find Stevenson."
Four hours later Stevenson returned from another of his mysterious journeys through the gate and was snagged by Devonshire before he could disappear elsewhere. She contacted Teyla over the intercom and the Athosian joined them within minutes.
"Can you read it?" Teyla asked when she arrived back in the control room.
Stevenson nodded without taking his eyes off the fairly long text.
Teyla waited patiently until he had finished. "What is it?"
"Response," Stevenson said, bypassing Teyla and going straight for the dialing chevrons.
"You sent a message?" Teyla guessed. "To whom, may I ask?"
Stevenson turned back to face her. "Nox."
Teyla shook her head unsure. "Who are the Nox?"
"Friends," Stevenson said as the wormhole activated and he headed down the stairs.
"Would you like some company?" Teyla offered.
Stevenson stopped and turned back to look at her. He smiled apologetically and shook his head no. He held up his index finger.
"One…only one?" Teyla asked.
Teyla sighed. "Well off with you then, and have fun. When you finally remember how to speak, you and I are going to have a very long conversation."
Stevenson laughed and waved goodbye as he walked off into the event horizon and back into Avalona…or as the Humans called it, the Milky Way galaxy.
Stevenson stepped out of the gate into a clearing in the forest that covered the entirety of the Nox homeworld of Leth. He walked forward a few steps into the grassy field then waited patiently, glancing around at the verdant wilderness surrounding him.
A few minutes later one of the Nox walked out of the nearby trees and greeted him in the language of the Ancients.
"Hello my friend," Stevenson said in reply, not in his own language, but that of the Nox.
"You know our language?" the short, bristly haired humanoid asked.
"I do, among many other things. I am Alterra, once ally to your ancestors."
"Indeed, as your message stated. How is it then that you still live when your kind passed on so long ago?"
Stevenson frowned. "I explained as much in my message."
"Forgive me, I was not told. Perhaps you could indulge my curiosity?"
Stevenson nodded slightly. "My brethren died off from a plague long ago. Before the last of them succumbed they created a race of lesser lifeforms to populate the galaxy in their stead, ones that would not be susceptible to the plague due to their primitive physiology. My brothers also left behind a number of devices that would alter the descendants of this lesser race into Alterra once their physiology adapted to an adequate level. I am the result of contact with such a device."
"What world did you originate from then?" the elder Nox asked.
"Known today by its inhabitants as Earth, yes?"
"Yes, it is."
"Then you are of the same people as the one called O'Neill that visited us before?"
Stevenson smiled. "I was. I am Alterra now."
"Interesting. So your transformation created a schism with your former people?"
"Out of necessity," Stevenson explained. "I cannot trust them."
"How sad," the Nox said genuinely. "Do you seek refuge among the Nox?"
"No, my friend. I wish to speak of resurrecting our former Alliance."
The Nox tilted his head. "For what purpose?"
"To undo that which time has ravaged."
"We have not heard from the Asgard nor the Furlings for much time. How fare they?"
"The Asgard are recently dead. The Furlings yet live."
"How did they die?"
"Their physical degeneration resulted in an illness that quickly spread amongst those that survived their war against the replicators. The remaining few destroyed their world to keep their knowledge and power from falling into the wrong hands."
The Nox didn't say anything, merely let his head fall, shaking it in regretful disbelief.
"I could not do anything to help them," Stevenson continued. "They died before I was transformed."
The Nox sighed. "Four there once were, bound as brothers in friendship, now only two remain, separate and isolated."
"Three now," Stevenson corrected. "Through me the Alterra have returned, and will rise once again."
The Nox stood a bit straighter. "My name is Ohper. What would you ask of the Nox, our long lost brother?"
Stevenson smiled. He had been afraid that over the generations since the Alliance had crumbled, the present day Nox might not have been willing to accept him, yet he should have known better. Nox were Nox, regardless of the time that had passed.
"First, I want you to know that I intend to honor our Alliance. If you ever have need of our assistance, do not hesitate to ask our help. I have been given the complete storehouse of Alterran knowledge during my transformation. I will gladly share any of it that may be of use to you."
"You are gracious in your offer, yet the Nox currently need for nothing. How might we be of help to you, young one?"
Stevenson stiffened. "I need to know what progress you have made with the disease that killed my people."
Ohper stared at him for a long moment. "That is not something that I can help you with. To obtain the answers you seek you must speak with the others."
Stevenson slid his ornamented gauntlets off his forearms and set them gently on the ground. "I will leave these here."
Ohper smiled. "You do indeed know the way of the Nox. Come with me," he said, waving his hand through the air. Both he and Stevenson vanished.