A Day At The Beach by Ravenfur
AN: Well, I had most of this written for quite some time. This is AU, set somewhere in Season Three before Sunday. As I had most of it written before the episode came out, this ignores John Sheppard's backstory in Outcast.
In other news, I've got a poll up on my author page, why don't you take a look?
Enjoy the story and please review.
Henry Sheppard, retired Major in the United States Air Force, loved to swim. Before he had gotten a medical discharge from the USAF due to a knee injury he had surfed whenever he could, but now he just paddled around in the water. Almost every afternoon, weather permitting, he drove down to a small stretch of beach that had been in his family for generations. It had the best surfing in southern California, and was completely unspoiled.
One summer afternoon he was surprised to see another car pulled up on the side of the road, in front of the path leading to the hidden beach. Suspicious, he pulled over and grabbed his beach gear, then began the walk down the disguised path.
Henry could hear some distance away the shouts and laughter of a group on the beach. Sticking to the top of a sand dune, he watched as two men and a woman set up a volleyball net, another man sitting under a beach umbrella. Looking around, Henry saw a familiar surfboard laying near the water's edge, but he couldn't place where he knew the blue and grey design from.
"Now, how do you play this game?" the woman asked the shorter of the two rather tall men standing near her.
"It's simple. There are two goals. If the ball is on your side of the net, you need to hit it back to the other side without it hitting the ground. When you hit the ball to the other side, you want to hit it so that the opposing team can't reach it before it hits the ground. That way you score a point. Got it?" The two listening nodded, and he continued. "Have you guys heard of anything like this?"
"On Athos we used to play a game with a ball similar to what you were describing. I was not that good at it, though." The woman smiled slightly.
"What about you, Chewie?" Henry would have laughed at this nickname had he not been trying to be stealthy. The tall man certainly looked like the character.
"My planet was too busy to play games," 'Chewie' said gruffly.
'Planet?' What were these people drinking?
Henry continued to watch, even more curious now. The man who first spoke lazily walked over to where the white volleyball was sitting on the sand and tossed it to the tallest of the three, the one with dreadlocks. He then looked at the figure sitting beneath the umbrella. "Rodney, put down your computer. You're supposed to be on leave!"
Yep, Henry thought, definitely military.
Rodney's response confirmed that fact. "Well, I'm sorry Colonel," the sitting man said, his voice dripping sarcasm, "I didn't know that you wanted Atlantis to be powerless for the next two months!"
Atlantis? Must be the codename for a base somewhere, Henry assumed.
"Rodney, I know for a fact that Zelenka and Kavanagh are working on those equations too," the dark-haired Colonel said as he looked down at the man underneath the umbrella.
"Zelenka and Kavanagh? Fantastic, now we're really screwed! They'll sink Atlantis again without my supervision. My entire staff, idiots! Am I the only remotely intelligent person in either two galaxies?"
The Colonel pulled the slightly pudgy Rodney to his feet. "Now now, we're on vacation! We have three weeks to relax. If you don't join in, I'll get Atlantis to make sure you never have hot water, no matter what room you go to. You can rant at your staff when we get back."
From his observation post Henry could see the surprise on Rodeny's face, and knew that it was echoed on his face. "You could get the city to do that - no, don't answer, you could get Atlantis to do anything. I swear, all you have to do is flirt with her and she folds. You and your damn gene. You're a freak of genetics! Even Carson or General O'Neill's genes aren't as good as yours. Horrible bastard..."
Gene? What did that have to do with anything? And talking about a city like it's alive? Feeling more and more confused, Henry just watched as Rodney continued.
"Alright, alright. Is this revenge for crashing your favorite Puddle Jumper? I really didn't know that ship was there. They hid behind a moon, for god sakes!" Rodney complained even as he brushed off his swim trunks and safely settled what looked like a laptop on a towel. Henry figured that Rodney did a lot of complaining.
Henry's thought processes came to a screeching halt as he mentally ran over what the man said again. 'Hid behind a moon'? They must be talking about a video game. Yeah, they have to be talking about a video game. Henry Sheppard tried to convince himself of that fact, these people feeling even more surreal to him.
Taking a closer look at the four people, Henry watched as they became serious, and realized the 'day out at the beach' act they were putting on earlier was just that - an act. "Teyla, do you sense anything yet?" the Colonel asked the woman.
"Nothing yet, but he may have found a way to shield himself," Teyla said.
"Everyone got extra clips?" Henry shifted, trying to get a better position on the dune, and a branch underneath him snapped. Freezing, he sat still, hoping that they hadn't heard him.
Unfortunately, the noise reached the four, who fell into crouches. Weapons materialized in hands that looked very experienced in their use, even the scientist. Henry Sheppard wondered where they had pulled them from. He saw three conventional guns - were those P-90's? - and one strange handgun held by the one nicknamed Chewie. All were pointed towards the dune he was hiding behind.
"Teyla, anything?" the Colonel hissed. The woman shook her head 'no'.
When Henry saw hand signals being exchanged he felt it was time to make himself known. Shouting, "Hold your fire!" and raising his hands, the retired Major stood up and began walking down the dune. He was not prepared for what the Colonel said next.
"Dad?" The Colonel took off his sunglasses, and Henry noticed with a shock who was wearing them.
The Colonel's identity was a shock to Henry's system. The renegade himself, his son John Sheppard. He should have known. The only person he told the location of this beach. And he also knew that 'Colonel' had to be a nickname, because John Sheppard would have never made it past Captain. The last time he had seen his son the then-Captain was on a one-way trip to Antarctica, of all places. The old hatred rose up in him, but Henry pushed it aside in favor of curiosity.
As Henry Sheppard joined the group of four, Teyla turned to John with an urgent look on her face. "He is close." Teyla then closed her eyes for a moment, then gasped. "Very close, and he knows where we are now."
Henry watched as John tapped the small headset he wore. "Major Griff, this is the bait. We've got our guest on his way. Let him through the perimeter and keep your weapons ready." John then turned to his friends. "Rodney, you're better with your handgun. Gimmie your P-90." The scientist pulled out a Beretta and passed the larger gun to John, who gave it to the elder Sheppard.
"What's this for? What in the world is going on here, John?" Henry demanded. He did take the weapon, though.
"Shush," John told his father, then tilted his head to the side, tapping the headset he wore. "What? Wonderful. Don't fire without the command." the Colonel said
"Sheppard, over there," 'Chewie' said, pointing over near where Henry had come down.
A pale, tall male with long white hair and a strange tattoo on his left cheek descended down the dune, pushing a middle-aged man dressed in BDU's. The older man hand a strange wound on his chest, mostly covered by the pale creature's hand.
Seeing the man, John cursed quietly, then aimed his P-90 at the creature. Henry saw him surreptitiously tap his headset and open another radio channel. "He's got Sergeant West. Griff, have your men stand ready." Apparently he got a response, because he turned back to his team and gave what Henry recognized as the hand signal for 'stand ready'.
"West? You still alive?" John called.
The old man tried to twist away from the pale creature, but was held in place. Whatever he would have said was drowned out as the creature spoke. "Colonel Sheppard, Teyla Emmagan, Rodney McKay and Ronon Dex. My Queen would be very grateful if I brought you four in." The creature's voice was almost sibilant, something that gave Henry a chill.
"See, I think we're going to have a problem with that. What's your name?" John asked the pale thing.
"I am your death, Colonel Sheppard."
"Now, we've heard that before. Is that standard Wraith-speak? I'll call you..." Henry watched John think for a moment, then smile. It wasn't a nice smile. The very dangerous smile made Henry shiver. "Al. Now why don't you let Sergeant West go, and we'll talk."
'Al' snarled, and then tensed. His hand quickly pressed against the hostage's chest, then something Henry had no explanation for happened. Sgt. West began to age, rapidly. After a moment Al dropped the now dead Sgt. West and pulled out a strange gun.
"Fire, fire, fire!" John called, both over radio and to his companions, as Al lifted the weapon and prepared to fire. Gunfire burst from around the dunes, as the creature was pumped full of rounds. Henry was startled to notice that it took at least 100 rounds without moving - and that included quite a few weird Star Trek-like blasts from Ronon's odd gun. Finally it fell.
Twelve men emerged from the surrounding area, guns trained on the fallen... thing. "Alright, nice work everyone. Griff, you and SG-2 go get our transport. Al's just fed, and he's probably going to wake up any minute, so Major Viskeiv, you and SG-4 along with SG-12 make sure that Al doesn't wake up again and kill us all," John said, receiving salutes from the men he addressed. "I'll talk to Landry, update him and Dr. Weir about this."
"Colonel, sir?" the Russian commander of SG-4 spoke up. "What about him?" Henry twitched back slightly as the man gestured at him with the P-90.
John turned to look at his father. "You really have shit timing, dad." Taking back the submachine gun, John switched on the safety and tossed it back to Rodney, who clumsily caught it. "Ronon, keep an eye on him. I don't want him going anywhere until we figure out what to do."
Henry was surprised to be nudged - he wanted to say shoved, the tall man really didn't know his own strength - out of the way of the main action and sequestered down the beach. Noticing that Ronon still had his weird weapon out, Henry assumed he was considered a threat. What he did to get in that category, he didn't know.
Watching from where he couldn't interfere with anything, Henry watched the eight men surrounding the dead thing unload round after round into its carcass. Finally they stopped. Looking around, the retired Major observed his son pull out a cell phone.
"This is Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. Can you patch me through to Dr. Elizabeth Weir? ... She's the Commanding Officer of the Atlantis expedition," he heard his son say, but lost focus. His son, a Lieutenant Colonel? His son, who had been given a dead-end posting in the middle of a sheet of ice? How the hell did this happen? What in the world had John gotten himself into?
A small part of Henry's mind realized that his son now outranked him.
"Elizabeth? It's John." Henry wondered why John was on first-name basis with his CO. "We got the Daedalus' stowaway. ... Al, do you like it? ... Well, we already had a Steve, a Bob and a Mike. ... Because I like the look on their face when they're pissed. It's hilarious. Anyways, SG-2 is grabbing our transport, and we loaded Al with so many rounds that he's probably gained 100 pounds. ... We lost Sgt. West. Drained dry. ... No, beyond that, it went swimmingly, except... ... Because we always run into something unexpected, it's what we're good at." John sighed.
After a moment, Henry watched John continue. "So, that beach I took the guys to? The one owned by my dad? Well, guess who shows up!" Henry saw his son hold his phone back from his ear, as if Dr. Weir had begun shouting. "Well, I couldn't just send him away! The Wraith had already got West, and was on a feeding high. If he had left, he would have been in more danger than standing with us, a P-90 in his hand. ... Alright, I'll stick around."
After ten minutes of silence, John continued his conversation. "Yeah, I'm still here. ... What? ... No, no, no, no, no. No! ... Oh, come on, Liz!" John groaned. "Do I really have to? ... No, he understands 'Classified'. Retired Major in the Air Force. ... Yeah, I kinda realized that, thank you very much. ... Alright, alright, we'll be there. ... Really? ... Thanks, we need one. You should join us, the beach is nice. ... Well, tell the IOA to go to hell and get your swimsuit. ... No, don't actually tell them that, I'll get court-martialed and you'd be removed from command like they've been wanting to. ... The invitation stands once you get out of the piranha tank. ... Alright, see you back at the SGC. ... Bye."
Henry watched John shut off the cell phone and stalk over to where he and his 'guard' were waiting. "Ronon, will you give Griff a hand moving Al?"
"Sure, Sheppard," Ronon said and moved over to pick up the end of the stretcher that Major Griff had bound the supposedly dead thing to. Another stretcher had the corpse of Sgt. Allen West laid out on it.
"Alright, Dad, you really do have the worst timing in any galaxy," John told Henry as he guided him to a chunk of driftwood. Henry sat down next to John, his confusion growing worse.
"What the hell is going on here, Jonathan? What was that thing? What happened to... what was his name, Sgt. West? What the hell have you been doing?" Henry exclaimed, looking his son over closely. Of what skin he could see, scars - either almost faded or recently healed - littered his body. Up close he could also see some more recent wounds still with stitches closing them shut.
"Unfortunately, my Commanding Officer managed to get you clearance to know what I've been up to recently. What I am about to tell you is classified under the National Secrets Act. It's so classified that only the people involved in the program, the Joint Chiefs, the President and a select few members of other governments know about it. You're going to have to come back to Cheyenne Mountain to sign some paperwork, but I can tell you everything here."
And John proceeded to tell Henry exactly what he had been up to the past three years. Henry could tell he was being told the bare minimum.
"So, let me get this straight. That... thing... was called a Wraith."
"And they feed on humans, like what happened to Sgt. West."
"And you met them in another galaxy, on a floating city that you traveled to through a Stargate."
"A floating city you can talk to." Henry guessed, having heard the conversation before the Wraith appeared.
John scratched his head slightly. "Well," he said, drawing the word out, "It's not exactly talking."
"Yeah, what is it like? You've never deemed us worthy enough to know what Atlantis actually says to you," Rodney interrupted from where he was standing. He walked over and plunked down next to John on the driftwood that was serving as a bench. "All I know about your connection to her is that the one time I tried to take your hot water off line she wouldn't let me, and if you don't want to be found even our most advanced sensors refuse to locate you."
"You tried to get rid of my hot water? What prank was that for?" John asked.
"The crate of lemons you had delivered directly to my bedroom and scattered about."
"Ah, that one." Henry watched as John smugly grinned, probably remembering the result of that prank, though he didn't know why lemons were considered a prank. "I liked that one. It certainly was a lot better than when I got my minions to bring every little technological problem to you specifically."
"I could have gone into anaphylactic shock!" Rodney exclaimed. "You're lucky that I made my minions clean them up for me!"
Again with the 'minions'.
"Rodney, they were plastic."
"Uhm, yes, of course." Rodney coughed, and then continued. "Anyways, the connection?"
"It's like... Atlantis... well..." John sighed and turned to his friend. "Atlantis communicates through emotions and pictures. You wanted to know why I only had nightmares off-base?" Rodney nodded. "It's like she sings me to sleep, as immature as that sounds. She's always in the back of my mind, when I'm in the Pegasus galaxy."
"I bet your head is emptier than usual now," Rodney snarked.
"Are you saying something about my intelligence, McKay?" John grinned.
"What intelligence, Sheppard?"
Henry smiled. At least his son had friends on Atlantis, wherever the hell that was. "So, John, who are they?" he asked, pointing to everyone.
"This is Rodney McKay," John began, but was interrupted.
"Doctor Rodney McKay," the man in question corrected.
"Anyways, he's an astrophysicist, and an expert in alien technology. He's from Canada." John said, and then waved over his two other friends.
"This is Teyla Emmagan, originally from the planet Athos in the Pegasus galaxy, and leader of the Athosians. We met her and her people on our first mission, and she's been our friend ever since."
Teyla smiled and bowed her head in a greeting. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"And the silent one looming over there is Specialist Ronon Dex, formerly of the planet Sateda. We met him about a year into our stay on Atlantis. He's been a member of my team since then, and an invaluable help against the Wraith."
"Hey," Ronon said. Henry nodded to the tall man. This Ronon seemed like a man of few words, and both he and Teyla seemed like the kind of people you didn't want to mess with.
"So, what do you do there, John?"
He honestly didn't expect the response he got to this question. "I'm in charge of the military forces on Atlantis, under the civilian leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Weir."
Henry was surprised. He thought the Air Force would have never given John Sheppard a command. He was about to comment when Major Griff walked up and saluted. "Colonel? Al is loaded, Majors Viskeiv and Hadden are ready to go. Are you coming back to the base with us?"
"Yeah, and we're taking him," John tilted his head towards Henry.
"Colonel?" There was a skeptical look on the Major's face.
John sighed. "Dr. Weir and General Landry have given the OK to take him back to Cheyenne Mountain. He needs to sign disclosure forms. Let's get packed up, I've got the rest of a vacation to get back to and I don't want to waste any more of it then I have to."
Ten minutes later the beach was empty.
Henry looked over the four people he was sitting on the sunny beach with. His son was clinging to every inch of sunlight as he tried to hit the best wave, refusing to come in despite it getting quite dark.
Rodney was doing... something with his computer that generally involved a lot of typing and complaining.
Teyla and Ronan were starting a fire to cook dinner, Teyla having declared that the only way they would eat something nutritious for dinner was if she made it. A quick question revealed that they had introduced the two Pegasus galaxy residents to fast food during their trip to Earth and Teyla was not impressed.
Looking out at the sunset, Henry was glad that he had decided to head to the beach today. At least now he knew what his son had been up to, as outlandish as it turned out to be. Snorting, Henry realized that he would never look at the stars the same way again, without wondering what else was out there.
AN: Thanks for reading this! Why don't you check out the poll I have up on my profile, and tell me what you're interested in reading?