Note: And finally, here is the last chapter. It's been a very long fic, and somewhat different from most, but this part of the story has been told and I hope that its overriding arc will now start to make sense. As I mentioned at the start of the first chapter of this fic, this has only been an Act One of this new part of the story of this AU John and Teyla, and the Alliance and its Elite. I hope you have enjoyed this ride so far, and yes, this of course means I will be writing more in this series, for there is SO much more of the story to share... Thank you to everyone reading for sticking with this fic and its larger Alliance saga. Long live Atlantis and John/Teyla. Wedj x
Chapter 26 - Epilogue
As always, the bunker smelt dank and cold as Kolya entered it, stepping down the bare unadorned staircase into the depths of the bunker. Water dripped from the edges of the hatch above his head as he descended deeper into the ground, the sentries stood at strict attention below finding a few extra inches of height as they stretched their spines in respect.
Above the sunlight cut sharply across the bare empty room as the hatch was slowly levered closed, slamming away the last of the light and sealing them into the hidden base. It had never been his favourite of bases to stay in, but of all his hidden bunkers and safe locations, this was perhaps the best concealed. No one in the Genii Confederation knew about this place, which had been in operation long before he had been so traitorously dismissed by the current twisted government of Cowen's. Cowen knew nothing of Kolya's work here, and he never would.
The day when Cowen would be kicked from his high pedestal was fast approaching, his weak grip of power on Kolya's people tenuous and ready to be broken.
In his many years of battlefield experience and political handling, Kolya had long ago learnt the importance of patience. It was the most patient and quiet of predators that were the most successful, and soon, very soon, all his years of careful preparation would come to fruition. And on that day, he would leap forward with the speed of the fastest predator alive to take control of the flagging weakness of the Genii Confederation.
His people had once been a powerful, commanding legion, but now they had weak politically greedy children ruling them. The Genii were born to fight, to rule, and to crush the Wraith, and Kolya would see his people return to those days. For the Alliance was rocking on its foundations, and it would take Genii leadership to bring it back to the glory days of unified purpose and control. Those currently in the hallways of power in the Confederation where not the right people for that purpose, but Kolya knew who would be. It had taken patience, and would take more to come, but one day soon he would take control of the Confederation and bring the Genii and the Alliance back on strict track.
"The patrol was clear, Commander?" A voice greeted him down the dank corridor through which he strode. The captain stood tall and straight in his uniform, his proud strong shoulders showing the thick muscle all Kolya's army trained to maintain every day. That he too maintained. There was no weakness here.
"All is clear, how are the latest results?" Kolya asked as he reached the captain's side.
"The latest batch are all the same," he reported as they turned off through a side archway. Ahead a new smell lingered in the air over the damp mould and gathered dust. Even after all these years, the smell of Wraith stink still felt like an assault on Kolya's nose.
"No advances at all?" Kolya clarified as he glanced at the partially functioning electronic pad the captain showed him as they took another turn down a side corridor. Growls and roars of anger vibrated against the solid walls ahead of them.
"The serum has no effect," the captain reported. "The Chief thinks we need a new full genetic sequencer to solve the problem."
"The Chief can find a new state of the art sequencer available outside the Alliance and then he can have it," Kolya replied sternly. "Until then, tell him to make do. The Atlanteans have solved the genetic sequencing, so will we."
"Yes, Commander," the captain replied as he pulled the pad out of view.
Another loud growl from up ahead was followed by sound of flesh slamming against metal bars.
"The new test subject is less than restrained," the captain reported unnecessarily.
Kolya ignored the comment as he strode into the first chamber and stopped. The wall of cells smelt of their usual mix of fearful Wraith sweat and unwashed clothing. Two cells down to the right a Wraith's arm tore out between metal bars towards one of Kolya's guards, snarling and spitting in rage as it tried to reach the man and his tempting life-force. Kolya's man simply ignored the violent attack, stood at a perfect distance away to be well out of the creature's reach.
Kolya approached, taking in the huddled mass of another Wraith in a passing cell, its body starved and its mind untangling. Left long enough without food, even the most stubborn of Wraith turned into a weakened lunatic, babbling nonsense and scrabbling around for even the insects that lived in the cracks in the walls for nourishment.
"Where is this new one from?" Kolya asked the guard ahead of him.
"Caught him running raids on a moon, stealing children and the elderly from the local villages," the guard reported without taking his eyes off the Wraith. Kolya was impressed.
"Chief has taken his samples?" Kolya asked.
"Yes, Commander," the guard reported with a slight nod, though still keeping his eyes on the Wraith. The creature had one cheek pressed up against the bars, its angry features twisted with the pressure to try and reach out just a little further to reach them.
"Release me," it spat.
"Have you used all methods on it?" Kolya asked, ignoring the Wraith completely.
"Yes, it goes down, but broke select pieces of equipment when we got it-" the guard started.
"Kill it," Kolya cut him off and turned away. "We have enough for the research, and its body will be more useful to the Chief when it's dead."
"Yes, Commander," the guard replied, and Kolya almost suspected he had heard a touch of pleasure within the professional tone.
Behind him, the condemned Wraith snarled again, cursing the guard and promising death to him and all his people if it wasn't released. They were all used to such threats here. They meant nothing. In this base, the Wraith had no power. Kolya and his people were in control, and given time they would learn all the Wraith's secrets - healing, telepathic and technology. Given time, Kolya was certain all could be learnt from the Wraith, and hopefully in time to see their kind completely slaughtered.
"Use the new Litan weapons," he added over his shoulder to the guard. "They arrived this morning?"
"Yes, Commander," the captain replied at his side.
"They had better be as intact as I was promised," Kolya muttered.
"The contact is usually good," the captain replied.
"We'll see," Kolya uttered as they neared the exit from the cell chamber.
Only, Kolya paused and glanced to the cell just to the left of the exit. Imprisoned inside, the tallest and oldest of their captured Wraith stood in the gloom. Its eyes caught some of the artificial lighting, casting a strange light to the creature's sharp, too intelligent gaze.
Of all the Wraith held here over the years, this one was one of the smartest and therefore most dangerous. Kolya held the male's direct eye contact, knowing the creature likely wished with every alien cell in its body that it could drain him dry of his life. Kolya respected such determination, even in a Wraith, for it was no danger to him. Kolya ruled this Wraith's life. At a whispered whim he could have its life snuffed out, and it knew that.
And today, looking at its old sharp eyes, he again considered killing it. Every day he visited the chamber he considered it, which he suspected the creature knew as well. Yet, it looked out at him with direct eyes and no threats. It was a battle of unspoken will and power each day he was in this bunker. For here, Kolya was a divine ruler, owning everyone's life and deaths as his own.
All that mattered to him was usefulness, and this Wraith, as predatory and intelligent as it was, had value to Kolya. It was usually very compliant with the feeding experiments and it had provided some useful technology information from time to time. Chief suspected it was one of the oldest they had found, tens of thousands of years old, and yet still here, appearing tall and strong despite its malnourishment in recent years.
Kolya wondered what it thought of him, what it thought of its own life after so many centuries lived.
"Commander?" a voice called out though, drawing his attention away, but not his gaze. Kolya kept his eyes on the Wraith.
"What is it?" He demanded as he triggered open the radio link attached to his belt.
"We have an incoming call," the disembodied voice reported from the radio.
Kolya looked away from the Wraith. "On my way."
With the captain behind his shoulder, Kolya made his way swiftly through the rest of the bunker, heading deeper into the nerve centre of the base. The large main chamber was dedicated to monitoring and communications, and it was currently a flurry of activity as he entered.
"Report," he demanded.
"We have a direct call bounced in via two of our satellite links," someone reported.
Kolya frowned. Only those who worked for him could do that, and he wasn't expecting any communications. In fact, he had ordered a strict silence to the base while he was here.
"A recent code from the last cycle," the man reported.
Kolya inhaled gruffly. Someone had acquired one of his people's codes from last week, before they had changed the codes on their regular rotation.
"Where does the call originate from?" He asked sternly as he watched hands moving over dials to find out everything they could tell him.
"The location's beacon in the signal is intact," one woman reported as she studied a monitor. Whoever was attempting to contact Kolya had not attempted to conceal their location, which was telling in itself.
"Where from?" Kolya repeated his question.
"Talmedge," someone else reported with some surprise in their voice.
Kolya let out an annoyed breath and looked at his captain. "Find out how he got that code, Captain. Now."
The man nodded, his face paler than before. Kolya turned from him and moved to the far wall of the chamber, where a large Alliance Military screen had been spliced into the base's communications systems. Below it, an outdated Genii camera stood ready.
"Put him on the screen," he ordered.
The screen fuzzed as the image slowly appeared, the connection between the base's system and the Military screen not quite interfacing naturally, but the picture soon stabilised to reveal the brightly coloured image of a bald man.
"Yes, Pyaban?" Kolya asked before the image had even begun to clarify.
"Commander Kolya," Pyaban replied, smiling out of the screen with his flushed cheeks and sparkling jewellery. Behind the information trader, lush vibrant colours of his citadel shone in sharp contrast to the dull greys and browns of the bunker. "It is good of you to speak with me."
Kolya didn't bother to ask where Pyaban had gotten the codes, the trader would want information in return and Kolya had no intention of playing into the trader's game.
"And you being so busy at the moment," Pyaban continued. "Running around whispering fearful words in so many ears."
Kolya ignored the less than subtle and unsurprising discovery that Pyaban knew about some of his schemes. It was obvious enough, given Pyaban's profession.
"And plotting assassinations in Atlantis of all places," Pyaban added, surprisingly Kolya a little.
The news of the failure of the assassination attempt had been disappointing, but not all that surprising for him. He would have been more disappointed if Sheppard had fallen so easily.
"I see you have more ears than ever of your own working for you," Kolya finally replied.
Pyaban shrugged and smiled in that annoyingly affable way of his. Everything about the man was soft and yielding, but his mind and connections had been vital for Kolya. But, Pyaban had never contacted him directly like this before. Clearly there was something the man wanted, which was interesting.
"In my line of work, I hear all kinds of interesting things," Pyaban replied pointedly.
Which meant that he had information to trade, which again wasn't exactly a revelation for Kolya.
"What do you want, Pyaban?" Kolya asked as he glanced aside to the monitors, watching his people fully scanning the link to Talmedge. Watching them also served to show Pyaban that Kolya was bored with the conversation already.
"I have something to trade which I believe you will be particularly interested in."
Kolya sighed openly as he set his thumbs through his holster belt. "Oh?"
"Now, now, Commander, no freebies," Pyaban joked pathetically. "No information until we reach an agreement of trade."
"I am busy, Pyaban," Kolya replied looking away to the monitors again.
"You will want to hear what I have to give you," Pyaban tempted. "Which no one else will likely ever be able to inform you of so accurately."
Kolya glanced back at the screen. "Clearly there is something that you want, so tell me what it is so that we can move this conversation along."
"A man of action, of course," Pyaban replied with what appeared to be an attempt at condescension – as if Pyaban's opinion of him mattered to Kolya in the least! "Very well, I feel that I have information unique enough for me to trade a very vital piece of useful information from you."
Pyaban leaned forward slightly in his seat, which was a display of intensity that was unusual for him. "I understand that there are events already unfolding within the Genii Confederation, and that soon enough Cowen will fall. I wish to know which man will take his place, which man you are backing into the seat of power."
Kolya was a little surprised at the direct question. Pyaban was usually more subtle and manipulative. For him to come out and ask such a direct request of something highly significant to Kolya's plans was a surprise. It also told Kolya that his ultimate plan was going as undetected on the Genii homeworld as he had hoped, for even Pyaban wasn't sure who would step forward for power.
"And why would I agree to tell you who that may be?" Kolya asked out of interest.
"Because what I offer in return will be so very insightful for you, and personal," Pyaban replied cryptically.
"If I have no idea what this information you claim to have entails, then why should I reveal such vital information to you?"
"Because I need it for trade," Pyaban replied simply.
"So you can inform those I would not wish to know?" Kolya scoffed. "I do not think so, Pyaban. This conversation is over."
He turned to his people and lifted his hand to signal to them to cut off the link, but Pyaban's face abruptly filled the entire screen.
"Commander," the trader insisted quickly. "Trust me, we have traded so successfully for many years. I would not undermine your work, since it will perhaps benefit me in the future as well. And this information I have is a one time offer. An offer of information that only certain very specific parties would know, and none will ever tell you."
Kolya frowned with impatience at the man. "Speak plainly or not at all, Pyaban."
Pyaban's face pulled back in the screen, allowing the opulent colours of his home back into view. "This is an offer not meant simply for my needs, for this is something I know will be important to you...about the fate of one we both knew and dealt with. A woman of fine beauty and a cruel mind."
Kolya's full attention fixed on Pyaban.
A beautiful creature indeed, in body, skills, and mind. A powerful and deceitful thing that had wormed herself into his mind a little too deeply. Of all the people he had met in his life, she had been the most impressively intelligent and interesting. If she had been Genii, he suspected nothing would have stopped his people from ruling the galaxy. She had been made to rule, to fight, control and manipulate.
And with her body, she had enslaved many men and women.
He had never caved to that rule, had instead enjoyed an amusing and satisfying enough game of control and dominance with her, had satisfied himself in her and watched her try to play him. She had been a most wondrous creature, twisted and misdirected as she had become at times, she had been the best that he had seen come out of the Elite.
Except, she had moved too strongly, too quickly, and her own appetites had lead to betrayal by her own. She had used seduction and blackmail to control, whereas she should have used respect and power as he did.
If they had been able to work together properly...
But, she had played her final game incorrectly, thinking with that fast body of hers and not with her logical mind. Revenge had tainted her, poisoned her into acting irrationally, and unsurprisingly the Elite had caught up with her. When the news of her demise had reached him not that long ago, it had not been a surprise to him, but on hearing confirmation of what he had known would occur, he had felt something he hadn't felt in a long time.
"I already know the Elite struck her down," he told Pyaban, "as most are aware."
"Mmm, yes, but the details, of those involved, I believe that perhaps you might wish to know their names."
Kolya strictly controlled his expression, not giving away anything of the annoyingly accurate response Pyaban was reading inside him. He did want to know who had killed her, how had been involved, but he would not be tempted into revenge as she had been.
He had no reason to want that, to take out his lingering thoughts of her on those who had killed her. She had angered the Elite, so what else was going to be the outcome other than their own revenge upon her? It had been her own doing.
There was no reason for him to feel anything more than that.
Other than perhaps a professional interest, and the thought that had it been him who had been killed that perhaps someone might seek to avenge him.
That perhaps part of him was a little resentful at who had killed her, who had sunk blade or bullet into her beautiful flesh to end her life.
"Trust me when I say," Pyaban added, "That you will want to know what I know."
And that was Pyaban's danger, right there. Damn him and his insightfulness. Kolya had no idea how the trader knew that Iketani had affected Kolya more than most, but clearly he did.
That didn't mean Kolya had to show it. "And if I have no interest in what you tell me?" He asked.
"Oh you will, Commander," Pyaban replied immediately. "And if not, then I will offer something else in turn, perhaps something about those Litan weapons you ordered through a mutual party."
Kolya narrowed his eyes at the screen. It wasn't like Pyaban to give away something like that, and certainly not to offer further information if what he traded didn't satisfy.
Considering the matter, it did not really mean anything for Pyaban to know who would take Cowen's place, for Cowen's replacement wouldn't hold power for long. Pyaban could sell the information to an enemy party, but what would that serve him with Kolya? Even if the coup didn't go as planned, Kolya had another lined up if necessary. Making this trade would not risk him much really.
"Very well, Pyaban," he announced. "Let us trade."
"Excellent," Pyaban replied with a happy grin, his hands clapping together once in a sharp slap and flash of overly adorned rings. "Tell me who will push Cowen from his mighty pedestal."
"Ladon Radim," Kolya informed him.
Pyaban's expression became more thoughtful as he nodded. "The scientist, a good choice. Thank you, Commander."
Kolya nodded faintly and waited.
"And in return I will share all I have on the last moments of our past mutual friend's death, but I suspect the information you will be most personally interested in is the fact that another party was involved in her end. Pulled in by her true enough, but who fought her directly and was there at her killing."
Kolya frowned, surprised by the turn of the information. He had not expected this.
"A party who I know that you take great interest in, being that he is not of the Alliance, or of our galaxy at all."
Kolya felt his body freeze, as if in a heightened moment of battle.
Pyaban smiled faintly as he watched through the screen, clearly enjoying his moment of revelation.
"Tell me," Kolya ordered, though he already knew who it would be; a man who had thwarted two of Kolya's past plans now, as well as Iketani' own. A man who had shot Kolya through the chest, the scar of which seemed especially sore in such damp places as this bunker in which he was forced to hide like a ground rat, while those from another galaxy enjoyed the luxury of the City of the Ancestors.
Fire burned up through him, forming new plans, new directions that would allow him to find some vengeance for himself and for Iketani.
"His name," Kolya insisted again of Pyaban's pleased smile.
"Major John Sheppard of Atlantis."