Being a diplomat hadn't prepared Elizabeth for the unfortunate necessity of delivering death notifications. After her arrival in Atlantis, it had become an all too frequent duty. The Daedalus had arrived, mostly in one piece, a few hours before and her casualties, both injured and KIA accounted for just before this particular message had arrived in the form of Paul 'Disaster' Davis. At one time she would have objected to the nickname, however today she found it all too appropriate as she watch the Orion gently land in her berth on the North West pier.
"How soon can Colonel Sheppard be ready to go?" Davis fussed, glancing at his watch.
"He's not going alone. I'm sending his team, and Doctors' Dex and Beckett as well. I'm not sending him into this situation without backup," Elizabeth glared. John simply did not talk about his family, something that Elizabeth had found very glaring in the close knit community of Atlantis. Everyone knew a great deal about those the Earthborn had left behind, as messages, packages and letters from home were shared throughout the city. Among the Pegasus born news of distant family was shared with all as a matter of necessity, to keep the information alive in the face of Wraith cullings. Eventually even the most recalcitrant of the Atlantis expedition, (Rodney), had admitted to having a sister that he was estranged from. As John had never mentioned any family, most assumed that he was the only member of his family left, an all too frequent occurrence in Pegasus. Elizabeth had been the only one to know otherwise, and that was only because she was the one who updated his personnel file. She worried now about how this news was going to affect him.
Davis sighed. "That's fine, Doctor Weir, but the funeral is in two hours and the colonel has to be there."
"Most of the arrangements on our end have already been made. John's dress uniform, and suitable clothing for the others, is already waiting in the infirmary. The Orion looks intact, so with any luck all they'll have to do is a quick checkup and to change clothes. I can get reports from Lorne," Elizabeth said, attempting to calm down. Her hormones had her either snapping at everyone or bawling her head off today, and at the moment while she preferred the snapping, it wasn't fair to Davis. He was only doing his job.
As she had expected John and Rodney came in right behind the wounded. What she hadn't expected was to see them carrying two ZPMs. For a split second she froze in indecision. How could she deny Rodney the chance to install them? The first few hours after installation were going to be incredible. The answer was of course that she couldn't. All she could do was give him the facts and let him decide for himself. Fortunately she wouldn't have to be the one to call Radek as Rodney was already yelling for her husband to meet him in the gate team's checkup room. It had become convenient at times like this for the gate teams to have a small room set aside so that their checkups did not get in the way of treating the wounded. Usually the wounded were refugees that the team had rescued. Today it was their own who were hurt, but the room would still be put to good use, getting the non-wounded through the required health checks quickly. She hurried behind the group as they did their best to get to the room in record time.
Ronon and Miko were already on their way and managed to get to the checkup room ahead of Radek. The sight of Ronon, with his left arm in a sling, dressed in an Earth style black suit, and Miko dressed in formal Japanese funeral clothing, or at least as closely as the Athosians had been able to make for her, brought a sharp reaction from Sheppard. "Who'd we lose?" Rodney stood beside the tense Sheppard, clutching the ZPM in his arms, his face pale, and it was clear that for a moment he had forgotten what he held.
"I'm sorry, John, but it's your father," Elizabeth told him gently. "The funeral is in two hours. Colonel Davis is here to make sure that you get there in time. You'll 'gate directly to the SGC, get that side's health checks, beam up to the Apollo, and from there to the funeral."
"We've got your uniform, Sheppard, and mourning clothes for the others," Ronon said.
"Thanks," John said faintly.
That seemed to jolt Rodney out of his surprise, and he began issuing orders. "Radek!" he yelled, calling for his second once more as he gently set his ZedPM down on a gurney. "Miko, help Teyla with her clothes. She's got a broken leg." She gave him a short bow, and hurried over to Teyla with a bundle of clothing. "Meet us in the gate room in ten minutes, and make sure that she's got a wheelchair!" Rodney shouted at the women's backs, as Miko helped Teyla over to a curtained changing area.
"Here, Rodney," Radek said, entering the infirmary. He stopped dead at the sight of the two Ancient devices.
"Radek, take these and check them out," Rodney said, gently taking the second ZPM from Sheppard and giving it to Radek. "If they're good, install them. Do NOT let any of the morons destroy the city simply because we now have power. No exploration until we get back. You are installing the ZedPMs in case of emergency only. That means Wraith attack or other similar situation and don't let the idiots convince you otherwise."
Radek nodded, accepting his orders. With two full ZPMs they would be able to bring Atlantis' defenses on line. Bringing the drone manufacturing plant up to full capacity instead of the tiny trickle it was working at now, and being able to raise the city's shields to protect the noncombatants, those would be the answers to Radek's prayers, and he did not doubt, the prayers of every parent or parent-to-be in Atlantis.
"Ronon, help Sheppard into his uniform. He can put one on three quarters dead on his feet so just get him started," Rodney ordered, noticing that Ronon and Sheppard were just standing there. The twins were getting the short version of the health check while changing, and Rodney began to strip his own uniform off. "Radek, I mean it. No exploring anything because the goon squads need some downtime after taking out that hive. There will be NO relaxing of proper protocols and if they don't like it, they can take it up with me when I get back. They can wait 48 hours." Rodney managed to get the lower half of his suit on, and turned to check the team. As he had suspected, he was the furthest behind in getting dressed. "Let's go! We need to be in the 'gate room in five!"
The majority of Radek's attention was on the two ZPMs. He knew that the only reason that Rodney was entrusting them to him was because Colonel Sheppard needed Rodney to take charge of the situation. Mr. Sheppard would not be having an Irish wake, and Radek seriously doubted that either of the twins had ever been to a high class funeral – caused more than a few certainly – but not attending as guests. The others, (Teyla, Ronon, Miko and Doctor Beckett) would not be able to help the colonel any more than the twins. As Rodney hurried his teammates out of the infirmary, (Colonel Davis was trailing after them like a puppy, Radek noted) while attempting to button up a dress shirt, jacket and tie hanging from one arm, Radek sent up a prayer for the colonel before completely focusing his attention on what he held. Now the work could truly begin.
Dave Sheppard sat in the front row in the chapel of his family's church, right in front of Patrick Sheppard's coffin. He was still stunned by the turn of events of the last week. That John had caused an uproar in the family was nothing new, but this time it had spread beyond the immediate family, and it had caused their father's death. What made things even worse, (for a case could be made that John hadn't known what the results of his actions would be) Dave knew that his brother wouldn't bother to show up for the funeral. The gossips would have a field day with the three empty seats next to him – the ones reserved for John and any guests he might have brought.
Just when Dave was about to assign his older brother to a special place in hell, the door to the chapel opened, and a wave of surprised whispers flooded the room. When the tall, uniformed shape sat down next to him, Dave gave a silent sigh of relief. "I thought that you weren't going to be here," he said quietly. 'Like you weren't last time' remained unspoken, but Dave was sure that John heard it anyway.
"I've got a better CO this time," John said. "He knows that I was deliberately not told about Mom's death until three weeks after the fact. When he heard about Dad, he made sure that I was told right after the mission I was on was over and the communications black out was lifted. As soon as my team got back to base, we were hustled through health checks and then thrown on a transport so I could be here on time. He even sent the base doc with us in case the health checks missed something."
Dave shot his brother a startled look. He hadn't known that John hadn't known their mother had died until so much time had passed, but had to admit that their father had been so pissed off that he very likely hadn't let John explain when John finally had gotten a chance to call home. That glance took in the two men in dark suits sitting next to John, and the obvious injuries they had. The young man with dreadlocks had a broken arm in a sling, and sported several bruises on his face. The man with receding hair between dreadlocks and John had a small bandaged cut on his forehead and several angry looking burns on his cheek and hands. John's face was clear of any injury, but he had several smaller burns on the backs of his hands. Who knew what sort of injuries their clothes hid?
Dave turned to look over his shoulder, intending to see if he could spot the doctor that John had mentioned and get the real information on just how badly his idiot brother had gotten himself and his people hurt. What he saw was even more startling than his brother showing up. There was only one man in uniform in the back row and he was sitting next to two women; one a Japanese lady in an exotic version of formal funeral clothing, (Dave had gone to Japan with a group from Sheppard Industries a few years ago and had attended a funeral for a business associate), and the other, an exotic beauty in a stunning black dress that someone had beaten – and from the wheelchair she was in, Dave knew that her injuries were serious indeed.
When Dave turned back to the front, he knew that John could see the anger he was holding in at the thought of anyone harming the poor woman. The smirk that John flashed him told Dave everything that he needed to know. Whoever it was that had hurt the woman would never be able to do so again – and John at least, counted any injuries his team had received to be well worth the price of rescuing her. "I'll introduce you at the wake," John promised. Dave nodded and settled back down in his seat. This once, he could see that John's tendency to risk his life had produced a positive result. Now, if he could just get through the funeral and the wake without killing John for his role in all of this, he'd count himself lucky.