Chapter 9: The MDP
A/N: Mostly backstory stuff, but then again, that's pretty much par for the course with this fic. Just glad to be updating this again after so freaking long.
Warning: I don't know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Challenge: #1096 'Go to Hell' by Dragonhulk.
Thanks to my beta: zigpal.
Disclaimer: BtVS and AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. Stargate Atlantis characters belong to Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright / SyFy Channel. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Strangely enough, the MDP (Mutual Defense Pact) was sort of Ronon's baby. The idea began when Fred found him offworld…
The planet was supposedly safe for Fred to do some research on the flora and fauna in this galaxy to see how they differed from Earth. Vira was back in the fortress, taking care of her babies. That meant if they were going to find new sources of food to supplement what they had on their own world, Fred would have to look around on her own.
The bad news was she wasn't as alone here as they thought she would be. The good news was that she had a personal shield device which would hopefully last long enough to get back to the transport ship. Once there, she could hide out until the others left.
It was a good plan in theory, but failed to take into account Fred's innate curiosity. She had to know who else was on the planet and why. Knowing her strength lie in her brains and not her brawn, she at least went back to the ship to use its power if the other beings here were enemies.
When she saw the Wraith chasing the handsome man, she took a chance and hoped he wasn't simply the lesser of two evils.
She pulled the cloaked ship down close to where the others were and took out her latest 'toy'. Based on an EM-Pulse generator, this device was designed to knock out any creature that had neural pathways…non-lethally. At least that was the hope. Lantia was pretty sure it would work that way, but this was the first time it would be tested in a real-life situation. Fred really hoped it wouldn't kill the handsome man – assuming he wasn't evil. She mentally crossed her fingers and fired out the open hatch at the rear of the transport.
Vira was waiting nervously for Fred's return. Even though she had her kids, having another adult friend around was very important to her. It was doubly so since Fred was from Earth, too.
Worry turned to bemusement when Lantia informed her that Fred was back…with an unconscious guest.
"What's up with bringing home strays, Fred? I thought that was my job," Vira teased despite her concerns.
Fred went into little-girl-with-a-wounded-bird mode, complete with the wide eyes that begged for approval. "He was being chased by the Wraith. By the way, I don't think we should go back to that planet for a while."
Almost anyone who was on the outs with the Wraith were given a short leash of trust – or whatever the right phrase for that would be. Vira had a more pressing concern at the moment. "What happened to the Wraith that were chasing him?" she asked cautiously.
"They're in the ship," Fred answered. She quickly went on to explain before Vira could protest, "I thought maybe if I studied their biology, I could find a way so they could feed on something other than humans…or if that didn't work, then find an easier way to kill them."
"But Lantia told me it was just you and your friend on the ship," Vira said, a hint of reproach in her voice towards the city's AI.
They could almost hear the pout in his voice when Lantia defended himself, "There were only two lifeforms registered on my sensors."
Fred looked confused for a moment, then realized his sensors only 'saw' the living. "Oh, that's because they're dead. With their regenerative capabilities, I didn't even want to bring them back whole, so they are in several different containers," she assured Vira.
After a couple seconds of stunned silence, Vira asked incredulously, "You dismembered them?"
"Of course. It's just like dissecting a frog in biology class…just bigger," Fred said with a shrug of her slender shoulders.
Vira grimaced at the thought. She didn't even like cutting up frogs, much less things that were bigger than her. "Ugh! If you say so. What do you want to do with him?" she asked, pointing at Fred's passenger.
Taking that cue to add what he thought was pertinent information, Lantia spoke up, "If I might interject? There is a signal coming from an implant located deep within the muscle tissue of his shoulder. The signal matches that of the Wraith, so unless you want them coming to visit, you should disable it."
The procedure to remove the tracking device was simple enough for Fred to do with her eyes closed…not that she would, of course, even though it sounded like an intriguing experiment to try someday. Once they set up a stasis field around it, Fred got started on figuring out how it worked, and if there was some way they could use it to their advantage somehow.
That left Vira with the task of keeping an eye on their stray.
When the anesthesia finally wore off, the change was almost immediate. One second, he was lying there peacefully, the next, he was stumbling off the bed, looking for a way to escape – or possibly a weapon he could use so he could escape. Either way, escape was clearly the main issue on his mind. "Where am I? Who are you?" he demanded as he glared in Vira's direction.
Vira admired his sense of self-preservation. "Where you are is a secret that I'm not willing to share. However, I will tell you that my name is Viraga Custa."
Ronon's eyes narrowed in suspicion. Granted, he would be suspicious even if she had told him all her secrets, but the fact that she didn't put him even more on edge. "What do you want with me?"
While she understood his position, she refused to give away too much information to a stranger. They had gotten burned – very badly – in the recent past by the Genii. "My colleague saw the Wraith chasing you and decided to help you. Unfortunately, the best way for that to happen involved knocking everyone out…including you. When we got you back here, we found out you had a tracking device in your shoulder with a Wraith signature, so we removed it. My colleague is studying the device now," she told him, curious as to whether or not he'd believe anything she said…or if he'd be happy with what she told him.
Ronon rolled his shoulder as if to test the truth about whether they had cut him open. Obviously he wouldn't know if they were lying about removing it or not until the next time he encountered the Wraith. And even if they did remove it, that didn't mean they didn't have their own twisted agenda; he remembered a group of 'simple farmers' called the Genii who almost rivaled the Wraith for most feared culture in all the worlds among those that found out the truth about them. "So what do you expect from me? That is, if you really removed that thing," he added suspiciously.
"We won't demand anything of you," Vira assured him, "but if you aren't just as evil as the creatures that were chasing you, we might request some kind of alliance. I think we could help each other out greatly." Assuming he knew the different planets/cultures better than Lantia. Plus it would be nice to have another friend to talk to – especially one that seemed like a warrior. She loved Fred, but the science girl didn't really get the 'hunting urge' like Vira's Slayer-side did.
"I don't think so," he growled.
Vira sighed; it just couldn't be easy, could it? Then again, depending on how long he had that thing in him – which, guessing from the scar tissue was fairly long – he probably wasn't the most trusting of people. They shouldn't take it personally that he would doubt their sincerity based on something he couldn't easily verify for himself. It would still mostly likely hurt Fred's feelings when she told her later. "Alright, then…I'll have to knock you out so I can get you away from here without you seeing anything."
"Good luck trying," Ronon scoffed.
Smirking back at the man, Vira wished again for another outcome. He'd be fun to have around, once they got past the trust issue. "You seem to think I even have to try. Now!" she commanded Lantia.
As soon as she gave the order, gas started filling the area surrounding Ronon and with the force field in place, it couldn't dissipate. When Lantia measured that the man's vital signs indicated he was unconscious, the gas was vented out, and Vira moved forward to secure him. Then she lifted him onto a gurney and brought him to one of the transports.
"Where should I leave him?" she asked the AI. "We know putting him back on the planet we got him from is too dangerous."
"What about the swamp planet?" Lantia suggested.
"Dagobah?" Vira checked, using the Star Wars reference as a personal name for the planet. "That should work, unless he's allergic to something there. To be safe, I'll cloak the ship and wait for him to wake up and then leave."
Like she said she would, Vira waited for Fred's 'handsome man' to get up and leave. In doing so, she guess she learned a bunch of new swear words when he realized she actually managed to knock him out again. When he didn't find anyone nearby to interrogate, he left the planet, and Vira figured that was the last they'd see of him for a long time.
And it was, too. But that didn't mean he didn't see them…
Six months later…
Ronon had several 'close calls' with the woman who claimed to have helped him. To be fair, the fact he could practically walk right by a Wraith now seemed to validate her claim, but that didn't mean he would trust her blindly. He wanted to observe her first.
She was friendly, but cautious about helping people – which made him wonder why she helped him without learning why he had that tracker in his body.
After about the fourth time he caught her on a different planet, he thought he figured out her method. Unless it was a matter of imminent life or death, she wouldn't just hand over food or supplies; instead she gave them the tools to get what they needed…or she bartered for it. He wasn't sure what her people needed with the things she got in return for what she gave away, but then again, she was the only one of her people that he actually got to meet. The one who knocked him out the first time didn't really count since he didn't even know if that was a male or female.
Learning who Fred was happened by accident.
He was having a pint in a tavern when he heard the name Viraga mentioned. Carefully, he shifted his seat so he could look at the people talking while not letting on that he was listening in on their conversation. Apparently these were friends of his rescuer.
"When is Viraga bringing the little ones by?" the serving girl asked. "My ma has been asking about them constantly since the last time she came without them."
"She has to go to another planet once I get back from this one and that one isn't so friendly," the other woman – pretty, but sort of frail-looking in Ronon's opinion – explained. "But they are about to celebrate their life day, so I could probably convince Viraga they need a party here. But anyway, the reason I'm here…"
The serving girl nodded. "Ah, yes…the colorful rocks. What do you do with them, anyway, Fred? We have never found a use for them that made it worthwhile to dig them up before now."
"They are good for storing special things," Fred replied vaguely. Vira had drilled it into her that not everybody shared her enthusiasm for what she termed 'sciencey stuff'. "They help us make the goods we trade with you. Maybe someday we can show you how to do it yourself," she hedged. This community – like most others in this galaxy – was rather backwards, technologically-speaking. It was understandable since the Wraith kept killing off a large percentage of their population during their feeding cycles.
During Fred's visit, the village was attacked by a small party of Wraith. Ronon knew that he could probably get himself away safely, but something inside him said that he owed it to Viraga – if not Fred herself – to help Fred survive as well. So against his better judgment, he stepped out of the shadows and commanded the scared villagers, "If anyone can fight, have them help me; everyone else should find a good place to hide."
Fred smiled widely when she saw him again, but kept her enthusiasm down and just replied, "Thank you for helping us." Then she started directing the villagers to their safe zones.
The first thing that Ronon noticed about this hunting party was that they were on foot. Not having a ship made this very unusual in his experience. Another thing he noticed was the size of the party…only six of them. It would be difficult, but he could probably kill a few of them before he was overwhelmed. But he probably would be overwhelmed unless he got help from the locals.
Luckily he was joined a few minutes later by a dozen men with guns. By surrounding the Wraith and shooting them until they fell, Ronon was able to get close enough to cut off their heads. It was the only thing that he felt sure would kill them given their ability to regenerate. For added safety, they built a bonfire and burned the remains.
Meanwhile, Fred used the gate to contact Vira and let her know what happened. At Vira's insistence, she went through to Lantia to watch the twins so Vira could discuss the raid with the locals, as well as learn more about Ronon's involvement in their defense.
"So, good to see you're still alive…and a good guy. Would hate to think we helped this place's version of a Hannibal Lecter," Vira started the conversation.
Ronon looked confused by her pop culture reference. "Hannibal who?"
She shook her head and said, "Doesn't matter. Thanks for helping my friends."
"Couldn't have done it if they hadn't fought, too," Ronon graciously admitted before warning her, "Course fighting back could cause trouble for them next time if it's a normal hunting party."
"Sounds like you speak from experience," Vira stated, clearly probing for more info on Fred's 'wounded bird'.
His face a grim statue, Ronon replied, "I've seen whole worlds destroyed because the Wraith considered them a threat."
"So we need to prepare for that."
"Or make sure there are no survivors left to talk about which planet it is," Ronon added viciously.
Vira nodded in agreement. She stared at him for a long minute, then made a decision and said, "Probably a little of both. C'mon…let me buy you dinner and a drink."
Several drinks later…
Ronon was slightly tipsy, but not to the point where he couldn't defend himself if necessary; that point might not exist without the use of a poison of some kind. His tongue was just loose enough, however, for him to voice a complaint he had carried around for most of his life, "What I don't get is that there are more of us 'cattle' than there are of the Wraith. If we all fought together, I bet we could destroy them for good! The only problem with that is the people who don't fight back, and the people who only care about themselves, and the fact that the Wraith have ships and other advanced weapons."
Feeling the alcohol a bit herself, Vira smiled at his run-on sentence. "That's more than one problem, but I get where you're coming from. I like the idea of creating a group to fight the Wraith – or other threats to the individual communities. Mind brainstorming the idea with me and a couple others?"
Ronon hesitated at that. Did he really want to get mixed up in other people's problems? He watched his world burn for daring to oppose the Wraith. On the other hand, part of him enjoyed the sense of community he felt during the fight and during the celebration afterwards. Oh well, he could always help them until he got tired of it, then move on before he felt trapped. "Sure, why not?"
The starting rules included a 'freebie' for the new worlds. If a member of the Defense Pact was on a world that was attacked and believed the planet could be a potential member, they could ask for teams to come help fight or to form a rescue party if it was after the fact. After that, the people on that world had to pledge to help the Pact in the future or they would be on their own the next time.
Another rule was that if a planet was suggested as a possible member, the other planets had to approve them or give a valid reason why they wouldn't approve them. That was because of yet another rule that no Pact member could attack another Pact member.
Even though it wasn't a rule, an added bonus was that many of the worlds became trading partners. Between them, they had over half of the products needed by all the members, and with each new member planet added, that number grew.
In addition, Vira and Fred carefully picked Lantian technologies they could share with the Pact that wouldn't – hopefully – cause a great shift in power for the galaxy. At times it was difficult to watch their friends struggle with things, but deep down they knew that just handing stuff over without knowing their society was ready for them would hurt them in the long run. It was better to guide them to the point where they could use the items responsibly. As Fred reminded Vira over and over, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."
End of flashback…
Pulling Kares to the side for privacy, Vira offered him two solutions: staying in one of the other villages on this planet or creating a similar safety grid on the Athosian homeworld. When their leaders were rescued, the choice could be made. Vira wanted to be sure it was Athosians' choice, not the Earth group's.
A/N: Next…Time for an attempted rescue, but who will live and who will die?