A/N: So, college delayed this a while, but I finally have it up. Big battle next chapter.
"The life of John Sheppard, was a life of decisions and chances gone wrong. He went against his fathers wishes to join the Air Force, but was dishonorably discharged after an unauthorized rescue mission went wrong. He moved to Las Vegas, where he became a detective for the police force, where he worked for the rest of his days.
But that should not be the focus of our reflection. He helped many people, both while in the Air Force and in the Las Vegas police. While his life may have been of decisions gone wrong, it was also about sacrifice. In the end, he gave everything to the people he loved, and to his country. May he find the peace and love in heaven he was unable to find on earth."
As the priest finished speaking, the casket bearing the body of John Sheppard was lowered into the open grave. It was an overcast rain, with an oppressive humidity that begged for rain, a rain that would not come. Besides the priest, there was only a nurse, Laura Welks, and a doctor, Rodney McKay.
Laura cried as the casket was covered up with dirt. McKay stood silently next to her, just offering her his companionship. He had gotten leave to go to this, and he felt it was his duty to, especially after what Sheppard had given up to help this planet, and after the encounter with the alternate universe Sheppard who had been a part of the Atlantis Expedition.
Finally, the casket had been laid to rest, the grave covered, and the priest had departed, leaving McKay and Welks standing there, just looking at the tombstone, on which was written.
A Solitary Man, no longer alone
Laura talked as she cried, seeking the comfort of the only other person who had shown up. "I...I wonder why...we're the only two here. We can't have been the only ones who cared about him."
"Sheppard's father died about a year ago. And after he defied his fathers wishes to go join the Air Force, he and his brother didn't really talk. No family other than that. And he quit the LVPD the day he died," explained McKay.
Laura wiped away the tears falling down her face with a tissue. "You were...one of John's friends?"
McKay nodded, certain even in this lie that it would have been true. "In a different life, we were. We had just met a day or so before he died."
Laura paused from crying long enough to throw McKay a confused glance, intrigued by the wording of that statement. But she let it go. "I'm sorry. I don't even know your name."
"McKay. Doctor McKay. Civilian specialist with the Stargate Program," replied McKay.
Laura's eyes widened. Like everyone else, she had heard a lot about the program over the past few days, and the thought that John had known someone in it was amazing.
The two of them stood there for a bit longer before McKay averted his gaze. He could only look so long at the death in front of him. That had come so close during his time on Atlantis. So many challenges, trials, sleepless nights, racing to save the city. The Program was public, but Atlantis was still a secret. So all those who had died on the Expedition were listed as KIA on unassociated projects in the Program, during the conflict with Anubis and the Ori. It irked him, but he didn't make policy, as Caldwell was fond of reminding him, so he had to live with it.
"So, you were Sheppards..." inquired McKay.
"Friend. I, I was in love with him, but he never knew. He was always so busy with his work, and he was averse to attachments. And now I'll never get a chance to tell him..."
McKay held her comfortingly as she cried, her tears mixing with the humid air. Emotional stuff wasn't his strong suit, but marrying Jennifer had given him a crash course in not being a total jerk like he was at the beginning of the Expedition.
Actually, she had wanted to come to this, since she had heard about the alternate Sheppard incident, but she had been kept busy by the Atlantis relocation and SGC business.
"It's okay. You can be proud of him. He died trying to save all of us from the Wraith. In the end, he was a hero."
"But, he failed, didn't he? The Wraith are coming."
"He did. But he tried. In the end, he put the fate of all of us above his own safety. That's something to be proud of."
"I guess you're right."
McKay stood with her for a little bit longer, then said goodbye to the Sheppard he didn't really get to know, and began leading Laura away to a waiting Air Force limousine that would take her to her house. She would probably come back later, but they couldn't stand here forever. And she needed to get away, so she couldn't stare and cry until she collapsed.
They got in the limousine, and McKay gave the driver her address. As the car pulled away, he glanced at Sheppard's grave through the tinted window and said his last goodbye.
Announcer: "From the global resources of ABC News, with Martin Bashir and Cynthia McFadden in New York City, and Terry Moran in Washington, this is Nightline, March 7, 2009."
Overlay the opening paragraph with the title theme. The words are said as lines of yellow flash through the blue colored cities of New York and Washington DC, eventually resolving into the show title. After a short commercial break, the show comes back to the main set, with Martin Bashir taking the lead.
Martin Bashir: "Today on Nightline, we have a special look into the Stargate Program. Revealed to the world a few days ago, this program has been operating in secret for the past ten years, protecting the planet from alien threats we never knew existed, and saving us from slavery and disaster multiple times.
Today, we sit down with a representative from the Stargate Program, who will provide insight into the Program and their efforts on behalf of this planet."
Walter Harriman walks in and sits down at the table Martin is at.
Martin Bashir: Hello Sergeant Harriman. Welcome to the show.
Harriman: Thank you sir. General Landry sends his regards and wishes he could be here, but was held up by Homeworld Command business.
Bashir: Understandable. So, Sergeant, lets talk about the Stargate itself. Now, from what I understand, it was found in Egypt, correct?
Harriman. Yes sir. There were initially two Gates. The first was found in Egypt in 1928, and was shipped to the United States in 1939. The second Gate was discovered in Antarctica by SG-1 in 1998. the Antarctica gate was destroyed in the war with the Goa'uld in 2002. The first Gate sits in Cheyenne Mountain right now.
Bashir: The Goa'uld. We met them when we first activated the Gate, and fought them from a long time. Can you tell us about them?
Harriman: The Goa'uld were a race of parasitic aliens that embedded themselves in a human's body and took control of their mind. They also had to ability to repair extensive damage to their human host. They were also all evil.
Bashir.: Evil? Isn't that a bit harsh?
Harriman: No, it actually is not. They have a device that we call a sarcophagus, which can heal all bodily wounds, even being able to bring back the dead. But experience has told us that prolonged usage of the sarcophagus can alter your brain patterns, inducing paranoia, megalomania and intense notions of superiority. Basically, using it for long periods of time makes you literally evil.
Bashir: I see. And according to information released by the International Oversight Agency, the Goa'uld were actually...gods.
Harriman: Yes. In Ancient Egypt, the Goa'uld enslaved humanity and portrayed themselves as gods to control us. Eventually there was a revolution, which overthrew them and resulted in the Stargate being buried.
Bashir: And there were also the Asgard, ocrrect?
Harriman: Yes, the Asgard were the basis for the Norse religion. In contrast to the Goa'uld, they actually tried to uplift humanity, and provided us with several skills that made civilization possible.
Bashir: However, I understand that they no longer exist.
Harriman: Yes. By the time we met the Asgard, their civilization survived solely by the cloning of new bodies and the transferal of consciousness to them via crystal computers. This left them open to genetic degradation and genetic based diseases, and they eventually committed racial suicide to preempt the inevitable death of their civilization.
Bashir: Now, can you tell us a little bit about the Ori?
Harriman: The Ori were a sect of Ancients that separated from the group we know as the Ancients in the past. They set up a religion called Origin to have humans worship them, adding on to their power. The Ancients in our galaxy hid us from their notice until SG-1 accidentally contacted them and alerted them to our presence. They then had their followers invade the galaxy in an attempt to convert us to Origin. Using a device called the Sangraal, all the Ori were destroyed. A few months later, SG-1 was able to recover a device called the Ark of Truth, which was used to prove that Origin was a false religion, and end the crusade against us.
Bashir: Sergeant, going over the reports we have from that time. I can't help but notice the parallel between the war against the Ori and America's own struggle against the Taliban. Can you comment?
Harriman: I can't really explain it except it is very strange.
Bashir: Yes. Yes it is. Now, lets turn to the Wraith. Can you tell us what led to this war between us and them?
Harriman: Yes. One of our SG teams was exploring a planet and had come in contact with the natives there, when several Wraith "Darts emerged from the Gate and began attacking the village. Our SG teams assisted in the defense and forced the Darts to retreat, but two members of the team were taken prisoner, along with some of the villagers.
A rescue mission was authorized, and several SG teams moved in. The Wraith facility was infiltrated. Sadly, Colonel Sumner was killed before he could be rescued, but the others made it safely.
Bashir: So, this rescue led to the war?
Harriman: Yes it did.
Bashir: Now, when exactly was this first encounter with the Wraith?
Harriman: It was in 2004.
Bashir: You say it was 2004, but I don't see any mention of them in the mission reports for that year, or any since then. Care to comment on that?
Harriman: Actually, I don't. You'd have to ask the IOA about that.
Bashir: And while we are at it, how come the Wraith are only a threat now, instead of five years ago, when they were first encountered?
Harriman; Most of the Wraith go into hibernation to give the human population time to regrow. However, the rescue mission inadvertently woke them up. It took time for them to wake up, and identify Earth as our home planet.
Bashir: I see. I've heard from some individuals that the Wraith actually come from a different galaxy. Care to comment on why a race would cross a galaxy just to come and fight us?
Harriman: I'm sorry. I'm not authorized to answer questions in that area. I suggest you contact the SGC if you want to continue that line of questioning.
Bashir: Alright then.
Coming up next, we continue our talk with Sergeant Harrman about the current status of the multinational arms buildup, as well as the plans being put in place for the defense of Earth.
Commercial break begins.
The city of Atlantis, wrapped in a protective shield, floated outside the large structure that was the rebuilt Midway Station. After it had been destroyed during the Wraith takeover, the Tau'ri had come back and made it bigger and better. The tactical advantages of the Gate Bridge were just too big to pass up. So they had remade the Station, this time giving both Gates an Iris to stop intruders and attackers. They had also posted a marine complement there.
Now though, the station was a bustle of activity as they prepared for the arrival of the Wraith armada. The Station was being mostly abandoned, with the self destruct being enhanced by a naqudah bomb to add to its destructive power. The Wraith would get a nasty surprise when they got past the Tau'ri fleet.
Onboard the city of Atlantis, Caldwell sat in a meeting with his command staff. The only people not present were McKay, who had gated back to Earth for Sheppard's funeral, and Weir, who had elected to stay in Pegasus. They were discussing the status of the city, and future plans.
"Mr. Woolsey, what did the IOA say to you," asked Caldwell.
"Well, Atlantis is still a secret back on Earth. They want to make it a moral booster for when it shows up in orbit before some sort of climactic battle. To that effect, they want you to land cloaked near McMurdo. Our drone stock will be replenished from the Antarctica Outpost, and they will begin combat modifications to the city."
"Combat modifications? We have a shield and drones. I'm not really sure what more we would need," commented Lorne.
"The IOA is aware of that, but they believe that it would be best to have multiple attack options in the coming battles. They will be modifying the outer towers to put in railguns, and they will be attempting t o put in some Asgard beam weapons as well. They hope to have the smaller version complete before we arrive at Earth."
Caldwell looked at Zelenka, the resident science expert while McKay was away on Earth. "Dr. Zelenka, can the city handle that much of a draw on its power?"
Zelenka thought about that. "Well, I suppose it is possible if we can augment the ZPM with some naqudah reactors from Earth."
Caldwell nodded. "Alright. That's everything. You can return to your duties. I want to be ready to fight when the Wraith get here."
The meeting over, the command staff got up and went back to work on preparations. Caldwell went back to his office, to fill in some paperwork. Paperwork which, for some strange reason, had started to pile up the closer the city got to Earth. He now had a theory that the bureaucracy of the US government increased in direct correlation to the distance one was from Washington DC.
He hadn't expected it would be like this. Arriving in Pegasus for the first time, commander of the USS Daedalus, he had laid eyes on the city and had known right away that he wanted to be in charge of that. The conflict with the Wraith only strengthened that. This was a military situation, a war. A civilian couldn't be in charge here, couldn't make the tough choices. Over time his respect for Weir as a leader grew, but he saw the situation in Pegasus spin out of control. Civil War amongst the Genii, the creation of Michael, the awakening of the Asurans, who launched into a war with the Wraith with a furious vengeance.
When he had become Commander of the Atlantis Expedition, Dr. Weir had just been removed by the IOA for her mishandling of the Wraith-Asuran War who had devastated multiple human worlds in the Pegasus Galaxy. In the end, they hadn't fixed their mistake by activating the attack command. It had been the Wraith, shutting down the Asurans as they had before. At first he had been glad. He finally had the command he had been denied for so long, a recognition of his efforts on behalf of Earth.
It was once he was there, in the commanders seat, that he understood what Weir had had to deal with for the past years. The IOA couldn't predict everything that happened here, and with only Atlantis being able to dial Earth, he found himself forced more and more to ignore the IOA. And if he couldn't rely on his orders, then what could he trust? The others had kept him from some less than exemplary decisions, but the rogue Asgard, or Vanir as they called themselves, had shown up and almost destroyed civilization in Pegasus as they knew it in their pursuit to destroy the Wraith. They had managed to stop them, so at least that had worked out. And now the Wraith had arrived and he was back under the iron command of the US military.
While it was good to finally be able to get real support from Earth and have some solid direction that could react in a timely manner, he suddenly found himself protective of the people under his command. They had been through things that the people back on Earth couldn't understand, since Pegasus was very different.
He mentally scolded himself. No use dwelling on that stuff. He had a job to do, and he would do it to the best of his abilities. That was all the people of the USA and the world asked of him. He wrote down some notes, and directions for what to do when he was finished reading all these papers. Work, it wasn't fun, but it had to be done.