- Rough Draft
- Discussion - Murder
- Discussion - Torture
- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Science Fiction
John shifted on the bed and let his fingers trail down his mate’s back. In the next room, the subtle changes in his son’s vitals told him that Kenzo would be awake soon. Miko curled into him and huffed a little in her sleep. He wondered if she was having a dream argument with McKay. His gaze drifted across the broad expanse of their bed to where his second mate was sprawled. Miko was a cuddler, but McKay needed room and as little touching as possible when he slept. The man was curled on his side now, one hand tucked under the soft swell of his stomach. A little surge of pride swelled in him. He was the only sire on the city to have bred two mates.
“I can feel your arrogance,” McKay muttered against his pillow and shifted. “And your smugness. Stop looking at my bump.”
“It’s our bump,” Miko murmured. “Our baby girl bump.”
John grinned because he was smug as fuck about it and didn’t even care. Kenzo started to cry, so he pulled free of Miko who grumbled sleepily and sat up.
“I’ll get him.”
Kenzo was sitting up in his crib, face ruddy with temper. The kid hated to wake up and most especially seemed to hate mornings. John plucked him up, made quick work of cleaning and changing him. The ten-month-old endured it fitfully and only managed to kick his father half a dozen times in hunger-fueled fury.
“Some days I question your parenthood,” John told his son wryly. “I think McKay corrupted you in the womb.”
“I can fucking hear you!” McKay snapped.
John tucked his boy against his chest and returned to the bedroom. Miko and McKay straightened up the bed, and she was situated in her favorite position to breastfeed, so he slid onto the bed and put the baby in her arms. Kenzo latched then huffed dramatically.
John laughed and gently rubbed against the dark blue scales that on the top of one chubby fist. They were similar to his own both in color and pattern. In the end, when the virus had run its course, those that remained were left with a variety of colors when it came to the scales on their bodies. McKay’s were sky blue, and Miko’s were dark red. The scales themselves started just under the ear on either side of their head and went all the way down the arm and all the way down from the ear across the breastbone and around the side of the body then down until it reached their toes.
“Are you concerned about today?”
John looked toward Miko who was frowning at him. “No, it’ll be fine.”
“But…” She sighed and focused on Kenzo. “I’m worried.”
“We already have the Daedalus in place at the Midway Station. If I don’t go there—they might come here, or worse try to attack us through the gate. Right now, they’re willing to allow the Asgard to mediate.”
“And if they refuse to unlock our gate?” McKay asked. “What then? I’ve been over the code a thousand times, John. Whatever Carter did to us during that last data burst is frustratingly unclear—being able to only dial Midway is bullshit.”
“The virus has run its course. There is no reason for the quarantine to continue and they know it. The Asgard knows it as well, so I’ll ask for the release of our gate as a gesture of good faith on their part. If they refuse, I’ll leave Midway, and we’ll go with plan B.”
“What act of good faith will they ask of us?”
“Probably Beckett and his data.” John made a face. “Beckett’s impossible, of course, and we’ve already made sure that his data isn’t viable. They won’t know that until they try to replicate what he did and even then, without him or Keller to work with the Iratus DNA, I think they’re screwed. They might ask us to secure Iratus specimens for them in the future.”
Rodney huffed. “Here’s hoping they don’t have someone as crazy as Beckett on Earth to pick up where he left off.” He ran a hand through his hair but then moved closer to Miko to peek at Kenzo over her arm. “Hey, kid.”
Kenzo kicked happily and reached out for Rodney with one hand.
Miko nudged him. “Get out of his line of sight, so he’ll eat.”
Rodney laughed and moved away.
John watched Kenzo feed for several more moments before he surrendered to the day ahead of him and left the bed in favor of the shower. By the time he was washing his hair, McKay had slipped into the stall with him.
“No morning sickness?”
“No, I think I’ve finally finished that portion of the whole thing,” Rodney said as he yawned and adjusted the temperature of the set of showerheads hitting him directly. “Graham Simmons said he was like death warmed over for the first four months, so I’m lucky, I guess.” He huffed and soaped a cloth. “As lucky as I can get—you know having a womb.”
John glanced his way. “You’re not regretting it, right? It’s not to late to…” He trailed off when McKay glared at him. “Don’t look at me like that. I want her, but if you’re not ready, then we can try again later.”
“I wouldn’t have let you get anywhere near my slit if I wasn’t ready,” Rodney said tartly.
John laughed and moved across the shower. He wrapped one arm around McKay and used his free hand smooth over the bump. “That would be really sad—I love your pussy.”
“Shut up and don’t call it that,” Rodney said and poked John. “Slit or vaginal canal are the terms we decided on.”
“We didn’t decide on anything.”
“The carriers got together and decided,” Rodney said. “As I’ve already told you a hundred times, Sheppard.”
“You let me call it a pussy when I’m fucking you,” John pointed out as he moved McKay around and pinned him to the wall. “And sometimes, when I’m giving it to you exactly how you want, you tell me to pound your cunt.”
Rodney huffed. “I can’t be held responsible for the crap I say when I’m getting dick. That’s completely unreasonable.”
John grinned and kissed him gently. “Want some dick right now?”
“Yeah,” Rodney admitted and rolled his eyes. “Of course, I do. That’s why I followed you in here.” He sucked in a shocked breath when John lifted him. “Whoa.”
John tucked Rodney’s legs around his waist. “The last time I had Miko like this, up against the wall, you watched. I could tell you wanted it, too.”
“Yes, well, you’re my mates so I can watch you fuck all I want,” Rodney responded and groaned when John reached out for the lube they kept on the shelf in the shower. He grabbed the lube from John’s hand and opened it. “You think you can handle my weight and anal in this position?”
“Braggart,” Rodney muttered even as he lubed the fingers that John offered. “Parrish told me if Beckett was still alive he’d berate him daily for the lack of a self-lubricating asshole.”
John laughed. “Shut up. I’m trying to get laid here.” He slid his fingers into the cleft of Rodney’s ass and rubbed over his hole. “But yeah, he dropped the ball on that front.” He pushed his fingers in, and McKay arched into the penetration, back pressed fully against the wall.
“In me,” McKay demanded, his mouth pressed against John’s cheek. “Now.”
John sucked in a ragged breath as he adjusted McKay’s weight to free a hand. He positioned his cock. “Tilt your hips just…yeah. Fuck.”
“Yeah.” Rodney buried his fingers in John’s hair and shuddered through the first deep thrust.
They’d been casual lovers before, and after everything was said and done, they’d gravitated toward one another. It was a relief that McKay had readily accepted and even welcomed Miko and the child into their relationship. John had worried about it because Miko and Rodney were both strong-willed and were dragon-like before they were exposed to the Unas based retrovirus that destroyed their humanity. McKay growled, and sharp nails dug into John’s shoulders.
“Easy,” John murmured. “Just hold on, Mer, I’ll get you there.”
“Fuck.” Rodney groaned and let his head rest against the tile with a soft groan as he arched into the hard thrust of John’s body against his. “That’s so good.”
John held onto his mate, rolling his hips with each thrust until their wet bodies were smacking together with a sharp, lewd sound. “You gonna come for me?”
“I can tell,” John said. “Your slit is gushing all over me—wet and open.”
“Wanna hear something filthy?” Rodney asked as his breath hitched.
“Parrish says he can put both of his balls into his slit. Just tucks them right in then he jerks off.”
“I’ll never look at that man the same way again,” John admitted with a laugh.
Rodney tightened around him and shivered as he spilled cum all over John’s stomach. Sheppard buried his face against McKay’s neck and came with a little shiver. He held his mate tight against him as his cock jerked in the tight grip of Rodney’s ass.
“I’m a lucky bastard,” John murmured as he eased his cock out and carefully set McKay on his feet. He smoothed one hand gently over the bump. “So lucky.”
“I was thinking…about names.”
“Well, you know the rule,” John said wryly.
“The person who carries the kid names the kid,” Rodney said with a laugh. “Still, I wouldn’t want to name her something you’d absolutely hate.”
“So your thoughts?”
“Nova.” Rodney paused. “Nova McKay Sheppard.”
“I love it,” John admitted and relaxed. “I was really hoping you weren’t going to go with one of our mom’s names. I mean—they’re nice and all of that, but she’s not…she deserves something special.”
“She’s not human,” Rodney said. “You can say it, John. We’re not human, and our baby isn’t either.” Rodney quirked an eyebrow when John sighed. “We wouldn’t even be having this kid right now if we were still human. I’m over it.”
“Are you really?” John questioned.
“Well, I could cheerfully murder Carson Beckett three times a day for the rest of my life, and I have a whole list of people I’d like to set on fire if we ever go to Earth, but like everyone else, I’ve pretty much accepted our new circumstances. Those that couldn’t accept have already…well.”
Killed themselves, John thought. He refrained from saying it, and the ten people who had killed themselves in the wake of the virus were listed as victims of the virus itself. That’s how it would be reported to Earth, and no one but those on Atlantis would ever know any different. It was a decision they’d all made together. John didn’t consider it a lie—if they’d never been infected those that had killed themselves would still be alive. They were as much a victim of Beckett and the IOA as the people who outright died because of the virus.
He helped Rodney clean up, finished his own washing and left the shower stall lost in thought. John used the built-in drying unit, rubbed a bit of soothing balm through his hair and left the bathroom in favor of the bedroom. The bed was made, and clothes had been put out for both him and McKay. Miko’s habit of choosing what they wore was more amusing than anything else since he really didn’t care what he wore on any given day.
John was tucking his shirt into dark brown leather pants when Rodney came out.
“She’s got a thing for you and those pants,” Rodney said in amusement.
Sheppard shrugged and laced up the front of the pants. “I think today is more about physical defense. These are puncture proof—made from that animal on PX4-N21 that you have to stab in the mouth to kill. They have use its own teeth to make needles to even sew it.” The shirt was black and made a thin, body-hugging material, but it was just an undershirt. He pulled on the vest that matched the pants.
“No uniform then.”
“I’ll never put that uniform on again,” John said evenly. “They betrayed us and no matter what O’Neill has to say today—there is no forgiving the SGC for their part in what happened out here.”
“Yeah.” Rodney sighed. He dressed quickly—heavy linen trousers, tunic, and a vest which could be buttoned over his belly for baby protection as needed. “Once the gate is unlocked—I’ll start the program that will corrupt our half of the gate bridge.”
“Bouchard is already out there in position,” John reminded. “And they can’t prevent beam out from the Midway station. I’ll be perfectly fine.”
“I know,” Rodney said simply. He walked to their dresser and opened the top drawer. “I’ve something for you.”
John blinked in surprise when McKay turned and held out his hand. “The shield…I thought it was dead?”
“Radek helped me fix it,” Rodney said. “I’ve cleaned up the programming, and it’ll work for you. I want you to put it on before you go through the gate, John.”
“I can’t take that—Anne and Ronon won’t have the same protection.”
“I’ve already given them theirs,” Rodney said. “They have prototypes of my own design—it’ll protect them against projectiles and the ZAT. My version can’t deflect a Wraith stunner, yet, but I’m getting there.” He held out the shield. “Take it, John.”
“You really think they’d try to kill me?” John questioned as he took the shield.
Rodney smooth one hand down the vest John was wearing then carefully buttoned it. “You think so, too. Don’t bullshit me.”
“In about three months, you’re going to be the father of two, and I expect you to be here for me to curse thoroughly when I push this kid out, John.”
“Miko said childbirth was relatively painless,” John said. “What with the Athosian tea and the new physiology.”
“I’m going to verbally eviscerate you regardless,” Rodney declared. “It’s my right.”
– – – –
He carried Kenzo all the way to the gate room, his son’s small hand curled against the skin of his neck. Neither Miko nor Rodney spoke much as they’d left the transporter and finished the short walk to the central hub of the city. The room was over-full, but he’d expected it. What happened at Midway was important for all for the entire Flight. Earth was their enemy, and they’d acknowledged that within days of the outbreak.
John looked over at the control deck. A young woman who’d once been Athosian was operating the gate. He wondered when he’d stop looking for Chuck Campbell. The outgoing wormhole established and he reluctantly passed the baby to McKay so he could focus on Miko. He touched her cheek, rubbed his thumb over her bottom lip as tears welled in her eyes.
“Hey, it’ll be okay.”
She huffed. “Fuck you.”
He grinned. “I think that’s what got us into this mess.”
She laughed. “You’re such an asshole. I don’t know why I bother with either of you.”
“Hey,” Rodney said with a frown. “I’m not…well, he’s a bigger asshole than me.”
John figured that was true. He pulled out the Ancient shield and wiggled it a little for Miko. “I’ll be fine, and William Bouchard is afraid of you. He’d never come back to the city without me.”
She laughed. “It’s nice to be feared.” Miko wrapped her arms around his waist and took a deep breath against his chest. “Mata ne.”
“Mata ashita,” he murmured in Japanese. John slid his fingers through her unbound hair and kissed her temple, which was just about Miko’s limit on public displays of affection. “Keep Kenzo and Rodney out of trouble.”
She laughed and brushed tears from her face as she stepped away from him. “I’ll try.”
John pressed a brief kiss against Rodney’s mouth and stepped back from his family. “Are we ready, Tia?”
“I’ve confirmed with Supreme Commander Thor that you may step through the gate at your leisure, Alpha Sheppard.”
“Thank you.” He turned and focused on Anne Teldy and Ronon Dex. “Ready?”
They both nodded. Ronon held out a holster and gun that John took after he’d tucked the personal shield under his shirt and activated it. He shrugged on the shoulder holster. The laser pistol, not unlike Ronon’s, was a familiar weight, so he took a deep breath as pulled on the leather coat Anne offered. It was made of the same leather as his pants. It was starting to feel more like a battle than a meeting.
“Would anyone else like to put something bulletproof on me?” John demanded of the room at large. There was a smattering of laughter. “You have a job to do after I step through the gate—get to your stations so we can get this floating Ancient wonder into space as soon as we get the gate issue resolved. If they refuse to unlock the gate, then all conversation will end. You’ll receive a message from the Daedalus if that’s the decision that Earth makes. Either way, after today we’ll be finished with Earth.”
John turned and looked at his son. Kenzo was waving with both hands—his fingers curling in a sign that he wanted John to take him. He met McKay’s gaze, and Rodney nodded before he turned and walked toward the steps with the baby. Miko followed him. Sheppard turned and stepped through the gate. Watching his little family walk away from him was a little more difficult than he was willing to do at the moment.
Midway smelled like Earth—John was startled by how offensive it was. A shimmering gold force field split the gate room down the middle. There were two tables and on the Earth side of the room—three people were already seated at one. O’Neill and Daniel Jackson were sitting in chairs off to the left of the gate. Ronon and Anne took the two chairs on either end and pulled them back from the table as John sat down in the chair remaining in the center. Anne sat on behind him to the right, and Ronon took the left.
John focused on the two Asgard in the room. Thor was sitting on what amounted to a throne—in another time that might have amused him. The other one was standing next to the chair.
“Alpha Sheppard, the Asgard thank you for the trust you’ve shown today,” Thor said. “This is Commander Heimdall. Hermiod is maintaining control of both stargates in the room as per our agreement.”
“Thank you Supreme Commander Thor,” John said.
“You know Richard Woolsey, I’m told. The IOA has also sent Shen Xiaoyi of China and Owen Tremblay from Canada as representatives of Earth for this discussion.” Thor waved a small hand as he spoke. “Did you bring the companions you expected to for this meeting?”
“Attending the meeting from Atlantis—Alpha John Sheppard, Anne Teldy, and Ronon Dex of the Tatsu,” Thor said. “A recording of this meeting will be made available to both sides. The force field between you was erected by Heimdall to protect you all should tempers flare.”
John just inclined his head. He shed his coat and relaxed back in the chair.
“Mr. Woolsey, you may begin.”
Woolsey cleared his throat and opened the leather binder in front of him. “Colonel Sheppard—”
“Don’t call me that,” John interjected. “Not ever again.”
Woolsey’s cheeks flushed. “I…my apologies, Mr. Sheppard.”
Ronon growled. John just held up his left hand and shook his head.
“Mr. Sheppard,” Woolsey repeated with a glance toward Ronon. “After some discussion, it was decided that Earth had a duty to Pegasus to prevent the spread of the virus that infected you and everyone else on Atlantis. We will not be unlocking your gate.”
John stood. “Very well, this meeting is over.”
“What?” Woolsey stood as well. “Mr. Sheppard surely you realize it would be irresponsible to allow you to spread…”
John glared at him, and despite his best efforts, a tendril of smoke coiled out of his nostril. “You don’t honestly fucking think that shutting down our gate isolated us on that planet, right? We’ve got a fleet of goddamned spaceships! I can make it to a gate in six hours by jumper, and the Daedalus can do it in ten minutes. All you did, when you locked down our gate, is make things inconvenient. Moreover, Mr. Woolsey, the virus has already run its course, and we’re no longer contagious. You know this! You wouldn’t agree to this meeting until the Asgard confirmed that.”
“Yes, well, the Asgard also explained that you’re all…still fertile,” Woolsey said, clearly uncomfortable.
“You provide me the information we need to unlock our gate or this conversation is over,” John said icily.
“Carter’s pretty amused McKay hasn’t figured it out, yet,” Jack O’Neill interjected.
Woolsey sat back down.
John glared at O’Neill. “I had no idea she was so petty. McKay nearly died during his transition and spent two months in a coma after it was complete. He could’ve ripped the whole system out and replaced the gate entirely. We will do that if Earth is going to play this stupid game with us. We’d rather not destroy part of our home but if you give us no choice, then we will.” He turned to Woolsey. “Is the gate decision final or is this merely a play for power? I don’t like games, Mr. Woolsey. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m intolerant of them.”
“We are willing to negotiate regarding the release of your gate,” Ms. Shen said smoothly. “It would require that you bring Dr. Beckett to Midway so he can be sent back to Earth.”
“That won’t be possible,” John said and sat back down. He relaxed in his chair and offered her a smile. “He’s dead.”
“All the ATA gene carriers survived the virus,” Woolsey interjected. “That was in the data we received from the Asgard when they met with you to evaluate the virus.”
“The virus didn’t kill Carson Beckett,” John said. “He was put on trial for his actions. He was found guilty of 709 counts of unethical human experimentation, 339 counts of murder, and the genocide of two different indigenous peoples in Pegasus. The penalty was death. The sentence was carried out immediately.”
“That…the expedition charter did give you or anyone else on Atlantis the authority to hold a criminal trial,” Woolsey said in a subdued tone.
“The expedition charter also didn’t give Beckett or anyone on Earth permission to experiment on me with a retrovirus created out Iratus, Ancient, and Unas DNA, and yet here we sit.” John shrugged and offered the older man a shrewd smile. “Looks like none of us can follow the rules.”
Shen cleared her throat. “In that case, we’ll need all of Dr. Beckett’s work—data and specimens.”
John motioned Anne to him, and she stood. She brought a duffle to the table, unzipped it, and withdrew a portable hard drive. “We have the data, but all of his physical work was destroyed early on the outbreak in an effort to prevent further infection. It wasn’t until week two of the epidemic that it became known that his special project for the IOA had mutated and gone airborne.”
Anne closed the bag and put it on the floor beside John before returning to her seat.
“It is our understanding, per Dr. Beckett’s last report, that Dr. Miko Kusanagi had an unplanned pregnancy and that you were the father.” Shen raised an eyebrow. “We’d like the fetal remains.”
“Remains?” John questioned.
“Yes.” Shen shifted papers around in front of her. “Dr. Beckett indicated that he would be suggesting for her own safety that Dr. Kusanagi have an abortion. We want the fetal remains. He was ordered to save them for study.”
“There was no abortion,” John said evenly. “And Dr. Beckett didn’t get a chance to suggest such a procedure. He was removed from his position as CMO shortly after we discovered that he’d experimented on me and sabotaged Dr. Kusanagi’s birth control. Her pregnancy wasn’t unplanned, Ms. Shen. It was facilitated by Beckett himself, as he knew we weren’t using condoms due to her latex allergy. He quickly confessed everything, you see, in an effort to save his own skin. He wanted off the city before he was infected.”
“But he was infected.”
“Everyone was infected—all of the Athosians, the entire expedition, and the crew of the Daedalus. 709 people were infected, and 368 of us survived.”
Woolsey made a note. “Is your…child the only off-spring since the virus?”
“That’s none of your business,” John said evenly.
“I believe we have a right to know how big of a problem we have on Atlantis,” Woolsey said. “If you’re reproducing at will, Col…Mr. Sheppard, it’s a problem.”
“Earth has no say in the reproduction efforts of the Tatsu,” John said. “Period. What we do—how we breed—how we live is no concern of yours.”
“Tatsu,” Woolsey repeated. “Many in the IOA are worried, Mr. Sheppard, about this situation and the obvious abandonment of your humanity. The Asgard reported that the entire population of the city has embraced the idea that you’re a new, separate species.”
“We are a new species,” John said. “I assure you, Mr. Woolsey, we’re no longer human enough for it to matter. Not a single one of my brethren could pass. My scale ratio is twenty-two percent, but there are those in our flight that have a ratio over fifty-percent. We are as much Human as we are Unas or Iratus. We’re fortunate we retained the ability to speak. We don’t even have the same organs. We have no choice but to accept who and what we have become—there is no coming back from what Beckett did to us. The changes are irrevocable. The thing is that the virus did more than expose us to alien DNA—it woke something primordial in us.”
“So you’re not interested in the cure we’ve been working on?” Woolsey asked.
“I said no games, Mr. Woolsey. There is no cure to what we’ve become. Any attempt to undo what’s been done will most certainly kill anyone would volunteer for it.” John leaned forward. “Don’t you think we’ve been investigating this ourselves? Insulting my intelligence by trying to wave some non-existent cure in front of me isn’t going to help your case.”
“Our people have been working diligently on a cure,” Richard Woolsey said. “With access to blood and tissue samples they believe that they’ll be able to…reverse most if not all of the changes made to you because of the retrovirus.”
“We’ll never let Earth experiment on us again,” John said evenly. “Besides, none of you know enough about what was done to us to have the first clue as to whether or not it could be reversed.”
“We have the report the Asgard created,” Tremblay interjected. “Increased strength and agility, regenerative capabilities, increased spatial awareness, hyper-developed senses, increased prey drive…what else is there to know?”
“Mr. Tremblay, do you have any idea what the word Tatsu means?” John asked.
Tremblay shook his head.
“It means dragon,” Daniel Jackson said. “It’s the Japanese word for dragon.”
“It’s an interesting choice,” Tremblay said.
“An apt one,” John corrected. “The Tatsu are dragonkin. When I said that the retrovirus woke up something primordial in us, I wasn’t being metaphorical. Did you know that when the Ancients seeded the Pegasus galaxy with life, they used genetic material they’d harvested from humans on Earth to do it? The entire Athosian population can trace their genetic history to a single haplogroup on Earth. Dr. Keller is currently mapping our new genome. The point being was that we all had the same primitive genes lurking in our X chromosome.”
“Dragonkin.” Daniel Jackson leaned forward in his chair. “What does that mean, John?”
“It means my auxiliary stomach isn’t for food,” John said evenly. He inhaled deeply and blew out a series of smoke rings.
Jack O’Neill sighed. “Well, shit.”
Heimdall had retrieved the hard drive from John and a USB drive from Daniel Jackson that held the information McKay needed to unlock the gate. Thor had checked both pieces of hardware for corruptive software which he’d warned both sides against doing then passed the USB to John.
“Carter says it’ll be an easy fix with the data she’s provided,” Daniel said as John passed the drive to Ronon who took it their gate exit after Hermiod dialed Atlantis. “It’s just removing a line of code from the dialing program that was preventing the DHD from adjusting for stellar drift.”
John frowned as Ronon flicked the USB through the gate and focused on O’Neill. “There are over four million lines of code in the DHD’s program, and it’s written in Ancient. Carter is amused that McKay couldn’t find a single line of code out of millions? Seriously? It’s like trying to find a specific needle in a stack of needles.”
O’Neill just shrugged a little. “It’s the little things.”
“Maybe one day I’ll sit down and figure out how many of our allies died in Pegasus because we couldn’t render them aid quickly when they asked because of her little program adjustment. I wonder how amusing she’ll find that list.” John focused on Woolsey before O’Neill could respond. “Supreme Commander Thor was clear in that Earth had a series of issues regarding Atlantis, future access, and the Daedalus. I’m ready to listen to your requests at this time, Mr. Woolsey.”
Woolsey cleared his throat. “We’ve scouted several planets in the Milky Way, and we’re prepared to migrate your entire population to one for your own safety. We’re preparing a second expedition to take over the city.”
John raised an eyebrow. “You want the city? You’re out of your damn mind if think we’ll give her up without a fight.”
“Mr. Sheppard, your people are in no position to continue the mission set forth by the IOA. Your reduced population alone makes that unfeasible.”
“The IOA can shove their mission goals in the orifice that will cause the least amount of pleasure,” John said evenly. “You’re not getting the city, and you’re also not getting another piece of technology from her. Atlantis is our nest, and I’d see her destroyed before allowing her to fall into the hands of anyone from Earth. You’ve already proven you can’t be trusted, Mr. Woolsey, with such technology.” His gaze flicked briefly to Shen who was outright glaring at him. “We’re keeping the Daedalus, too.”
“Earth built that ship.”
“Consider it compensation for the genetic rape your organization perpetrated on 709 people,” John said evenly. “Do you honestly expect, Mr. Woolsey, to get away with what’s been done to us? Do you think we’ll just forgive and forget? The only Tatsu on Atlantis who don’t blame the IOA and Earth entirely for our new circumstances are the ones too young to talk.”
“You have to be willing to negotiate with us, Mr. Sheppard, if you want our assistance in the future,” Tremblay said.
John quirked an eyebrow. “Rodney told me that you’re a reasonable man, Mr. Tremblay. He was shocked to see your name on the list the Asgard gave us. The last he heard you were the Prime Minister of Canada.”
“I didn’t seek re-election, but my successor asked me to represent Canada with the IOA,” Tremblay said smoothly. “I regret leaving McKay in the SGC. I should’ve recalled him when he was erroneously sent to Siberia. It was clear, then, that he wasn’t valued as he should’ve been. He certainly wouldn’t be in the position he’s currently in if I’d done so. Earth has lost one of the greatest scientific minds of this generation because of an experiment that 2/3’s of the IOA council had no inkling of until the outbreak was reported.”
Shen cleared her throat. “Let’s talk about the outbreak and how it happened. Since we lost access to Beckett after you stopped sending data bursts, we have no idea how the retrovirus spread through the population. You said it went airborne?”
“Beckett had been using me as a guinea pig for months with no outward success,” John said. “Over the course of six months, he injected me with several different variations of the gene protocols he created based on the work he’d done with the Hoffians plus what he called genetic cocktails that were designed to give me the positive traits of the Unas and Iratus. He also delved into ATA research again in an effort to unlock mental abilities the Ancients were known for—telepathy, telekinesis, and hands-on-healing being the most important to him.”
“And there were no side-effects for you?” Shen questioned as she made a note. “Nothing felt out of place?”
“Not until I woke up one morning with scales.” John looked away from her, there was a spark of something in her eyes that made him deeply uncomfortable. “My senses went haywire and started to shut down. By the time medical help reached me in my quarters, I could barely see. Everyone thought I was having a secondary reaction to the original Iratus retrovirus I was exposed to. Everyone but Carson Beckett that is. Looking back on it—I could tell he was elated by each development. All of his hard work was starting to pay off.”
“You speak of him like he was a monster,” Tremblay said.
“He was a monster,” John responded. “Far more a monster than anyone his experimentation left behind. Three days after my scales emerged, every single person I’d had contact with started to show similar symptoms. Within a week it had spread to the Daedalus and the Athosians on the mainland. Then Miko came to me late one night in the infirmary and told me she was pregnant—at least three weeks pregnant. She’d hacked Beckett’s private medical server and discovered what he’d done. Dr. Weir pretended to be horrified and stunned. She even ordered Beckett arrested, but she reeked of deception and dishonesty.
“We tried to get a handle on the spread of the contagion, but it was too late. It mutated and went airborne. We landed the Daedalus after Colonel Caldwell was infected. He died within twenty-four hours of being diagnosed. All of the Athosians were brought to the city for treatment and in a lot of cases—hospice. We did our best to help those that weren’t going to survive to go as peacefully as possible. Frankly, every single man, woman, and child that died during the epidemic suffered an immense amount of pain as their bodies rejected the retrovirus’ attempt to mutate them. In the end, we kept them heavily sedated until they stopped breathing—out of mercy.”
Daniel Jackson stood. “Let’s take a break, Thor?”
“Of course, Daniel Jackson.” Thor turned to John. “Would you like to return to Atlantis at this time, Alpha Sheppard?”
“No, I’ll stay here,” John said. “But we’d like some privacy.”
Thor inclined his head and pushed a button on his chair. The force field darkened black and all the noise from the other side of the room muted.
John left the table as Ronon and Anne stood. He walked to stand near the gate, and Anne pulled a small device from her duffle which she flipped on.
“Simmons called it a privacy bubble,” Anne said. “Another layer doesn’t hurt. It’s basically a fancy white noise generator.”
John slid his radio into his ear and activated it. “Captain Bouchard.”
“Alpha, Atlantis dialed in several minutes ago and confirmed that the city gate is once more fully operational. McKay has launched a firewall to prevent the SGC from, specifically, dialing the gate both from any gate in the Milky Way and Midway. We’ve set charges on all ten gates on our side of the gate bridge, and they are ready to be destroyed on your order. They expect to be ready to leave the planet within the hour. Any orders?”
“Tell Miko not to scratch the paint.”
Bouchard snorted. “With all due respect, Alpha Sheppard, I’m not picking a fight on your behalf with the Primus.”
John grinned. “Sheppard out.” Anne offered him a bottle of water, and he took it.
“How long do you think you’ll last before you lose your temper?” Ronon questioned.
“Slightly longer than you,” John said wryly and shook his head. “This room is full of the unfun kind of assholes.”
Anne chuckled. “Woolsey is just a paper pusher with a normal kind of agenda attached to the status quo. Tremblay plays a good game, but he’s got some pretty big motives. He smells like stress and anger.”
“What he has is a pretty big boner for McKay,” John corrected. “I figure he’s probably furious about this whole thing because now he knows that Rodney is never returning to Earth or him specifically.”
“Like the love of his life boner or McKay can make him a lot of money boner?” Anne questioned.
“The first with a smattering of the second,” John said roughly.
“That makes him dangerous then,” Ronon said. “A man would do a lot of fucked up things for love.”
“It probably makes him more dangerous for the people on Earth who were part of the conspiracy,” Anne speculated. “He’ll be looking to avenge himself and the life he expected to have. I mean, not that he’d have gotten what he wanted even if we hadn’t been experimented on. McKay doesn’t deny himself which means he never wanted Tremblay on a long-term basis.”
John nodded and pulled out his radio then tucked it into his vest pocket as Thor announced that the break was over. He sat back down at the table and set his water bottle in front of him. Woolsey looked uncomfortable, and his leather binder was closed. Tremblay and Shen, on the other hand, were relaxed and looking pleased.
“At this point, Canada, China, Japan, and Russia will be recalling all of their personnel from the Atlantis expedition,” Woolsey said stiffly.
“Every single Tatsu forfeited their citizenship to their former countries,” John said. “Moreover, I’ll not allow anyone or anything to force a member of our Flight to return to Earth as it is merely a path to more exploitation and experimentation. At the least, they would be imprisoned and controlled for the rest of their lives.”
“We’re not taking no for an answer,” Shen said. “Specifically, the representative from Japan is demanding the return of Miko Kusanagi and her offspring.”
“My son will never set foot on Earth.” John leaned forward as his gut heated. “And the Primus has no interest in speaking to anyone from her former country for any reason.”
“What does Primus mean?” Shen questioned. “Miko Kusanagi is the Primus?”
“She is the Primus of the Flight, our leader.”
“No, not a queen—such a thing would be a grave insult in Pegasus due to the influence of the Wraith. Our species is not matriarchal. We took a vote.”
“She replaced Dr. Weir.”
“No, Dr. Weir was never the leader of the Tatsu,” John said. “She lived and died entirely human. Though in the end, she’d have been dead either way—she was just as guilty as Beckett of the crimes committed against us.”
Woolsey cleared his threat. “You said that Beckett was charged with two different counts of genocide.”
“The Athosians and…” John took a deep breath. “Ronon was the lone survivor of Sateda. There were others, but they’ve been killed by the Wraith since the culling. We also learned, from his personal journals, that Beckett had picked out several different populations in Pegasus to experiment on including the people of Hoff. It was like he considered the whole galaxy a laboratory. His obscene and unethical plans seemed to have no end in sight. I know he has several counterparts on Earth. I hope you’re working to contain them, Mr. Woolsey. There’s no telling what they’ll create or set loose on Earth if they’re left to continue Beckett’s research.”
“How long did it take for the mutations to stop?” Woolsey paused. “They did stop, correct? You’re not still…evolving?”
“Stabilization took about three weeks,” John said. “I’ve suffered my share of trauma, but I’d never known anything like that. I can’t say all of us came out of the other side without severe emotional damage. Some of the civilians were barely functional the first few months after the virus ran its course. We all had therapy, whether we wanted it or not.”
“Since you were capable of leaving the planet despite our efforts to quarantine you, did you infect anyone from other worlds?” Shen questioned.
“Of course not,” John said evenly. “Not a single one of us even considered stepping foot off Atlantis until we were all no longer contagious. Of course, that meant rationing food—feeding the children before ourselves. We all lost a bit of weight in the process, but after everything stabilized and the virus was finished, we sought out our trade partners. Most of them accepted our transition—it helps that we don’t look a damn thing like a Wraith despite the Iratus DNA.”
“Have your dietary needs changed?” Woolsey interjected, and Shen offered him a mild glare.
“Why?” John questioned.
Woolsey blinked in surprise. “We can’t very well provide you food, Mr. Sheppard if we aren’t fully aware of your needs.”
“Why bother now when you didn’t before?” John asked. “Why suddenly offer us supplies when you cut off our gate and left us on our own for fourteen months?”
“Not all of us agreed with that plan,” Woolsey said. “General Landry’s questionable handling of the entire situation has led to his replacement in Cheyenne Mountain. We were going to reach out, but by the time all of that was settled your people had contacted the Asgard for assistance, and we were instructed not to contact the city directly by Supreme Commander Thor. It was clear you no longer trusted us.”
“We wouldn’t take food from Earth for any reason,” John said. “Because we don’t trust you and we never will again. Why risk further manipulation or outright poison? It’s clear you want the city, and it’s even more clear that there are those on Earth who wouldn’t have a single damn problem with the outright murder of our entire Flight.”
Woolsey’s heart rate increased and his cheeks stained red. Temper, John thought.
“I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t paint us all with the same ugly brush, Mr. Sheppard,” Woolsey said stiffly and shifted his binder around in front of him. “I’d never be a party to murder.”
“You’re sitting there representing the IOA,” John said evenly. “You’re already a party to murder. This incident should’ve caused the entire thing to fall to pieces. The US should’ve withdrawn immediately. China and Russia conspired with Great Britain to create a supersoldier, Mr. Woolsey, and they experimented on an officer in the United States Air Force. They destroyed my humanity and even now their representative is trying to rip my mate and child from my arms like I don’t have the right to them. I wonder what China promised Japan if they could get Miko Kusanagi on Earth with her offspring.”
“The continued operation of the Stargate program depends on the existence of the IOA,” Woolsey explained. “Russia could demand the return of their gate at any time.”
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” John said evenly. “If the SGC hasn’t already retrieved a DHD and a gate from off-world then I genuinely worry how the place continues to operate. You don’t need Russia’s gate, and if you had a DHD on the planet, they wouldn’t even be able to use the second gate. You could use the DHD to make their gate completely useless. I’m sure Carter wouldn’t have a problem figuring that out. This is about money, Woolsey, and technology. It’s about Carson Beckett’s experiment and access to the data. The US wants supersoldiers just as much, if not more than the other countries involved in this mess. My kind would be fodder in your conflict with the Ori and whatever else you manage to make an enemy of next.”
“You don’t think much of me,” O’Neill interjected. “Do you?”
“I did, once,” John said. “But then you let Landry and Carter try to kill us with isolation. Perhaps you all hoped we were too far gone physically or mentally to operate the Daedalus or the jumpers. Some of you may have even hoped that the virus would turn us into a bunch of primitive creatures who would end up eating each other for food. Either way, Major Davis seemed really fucking surprised I was even capable of speech when he accompanied Thor to Atlantis for the initial review. I guess it would’ve been easier, really, if we’d all starved to death like a bunch of caged animals.”
“I’ve been trying to fix this situation for a year,” O’Neill protested. “The new president doesn’t happen to care that I’ve saved the planet a few times. He doesn’t want us here at all, but the IOA overruled him.”
“There was a time when you’d have never allowed politics to interfere in the survival of your people.” John glanced at Daniel Jackson. “Or maybe it was always about specific people. Regardless, O’Neill, I don’t trust you and I never will again. I find it offensive to be in the same room as you. With all of you, actually. You stink of Earth. It’s stomach turning.”
“What do you want from us?” Tremblay questioned. “What are your goals for this meeting, Alpha Sheppard?”
“Honestly, we’d like you to leave us alone,” John said. “We don’t need or want anything from Earth at this point. The only thing we wanted was the gate unlocked—we just wanted to avoid damaging the city by removing the command consoles and setting up a new DHD. There’s nothing else Earth has that we want or need.”
“Contact with your families?” Tremblay suggested.
“People who end up on missions in other galaxies, Mr. Tremblay, tend to not have deep emotional attachments on Earth. I haven’t spoken to my brothers or father in five years. I have no interest in doing so now. Tell our families we’re dead. It’s a level of truth—the people they knew no longer exist. Earth means nothing to us.”
“Then how can we depend on you to keep the Wraith contained in Pegasus?” Shen demanded.
“You can’t,” John said. “Because it’s not our concern at all. We fight the Wraith to protect ourselves and our allies. Earth is not and never will be an ally to the Tatsu.”
“We’re not your enemy,” Woolsey stated. “We want to work with you.”
“The Wraith experimented on the people of Pegasus.” He paused and tilted his head. “Did you know that? It was a report we sent in early on. If I remember correctly there was a Goa’uld who experimented on humans…she was trying to make herself a superior host. It’s like you’re learning all the wrong lessons, Mr. Woolsey, as the SGC fumbles through the Milky Way making enemies left, right, and center. Would you have really protested Beckett’s little experiment? What’s one man in the scheme of things?”
“I would’ve never approved,” Woolsey snapped and took a deep breath. He sat back in his chair. “I’m disgusted and horrified by the entire thing. I’ve lobbied for the imprisonment of every single person involved in this…heinous situation.”
“And you failed.”
“I did, yes,” Woolsey said. “This meeting is my last act as the US representative for the IOA. I can’t be apart of the organization anymore. Within the week, I’ll be taking command of the SGC. Any agreements we make here today, Mr. Sheppard, I will see they are met to the letter.”
Shen glared at Woolsey and averted her gaze when he merely stared back at her.
There were undercurrents that John didn’t understand, but honestly, he didn’t care. What was happening on Earth wasn’t his problem as long as they didn’t bring that shit to Pegasus.
“But you will answer to the IOA one way or another, Mr. Woolsey, and they clearly have plans that involve Atlantis and my people.”
“China and Russia are losing traction in the IOA, and they’ll lose more support when the details of the experiment are released to the entire committee,” Tremblay stated. “The city of the Ancients will remain a point of contention, I’m afraid as many believe it to be the property of Earth.”
John smirked. “Atlantis is useless to you, Mr. Tremblay. She’ll no longer respond to anyone who isn’t Tatsu. It’s the first thing we did after we were fully recovered. We changed the biological signature required to operate all the Ancient technology we had access to. That’s not all we’ve done, of course, but it was the beginning.”
“That’s why McKay didn’t figure out the gate thing,” Jackson said in a subdued tone. “He was focused on the city herself.”
“Priorities.” John picked up his water bottle and took a long sip.
“It can and will be changed again,” Shen said. “In fact, we’ll need that information so we can open Ancient tech to all of us, not just those with the ATA gene.”
“McKay wouldn’t teach you how to accomplish that for any single reason,” John explained. “He’d honestly like to set most of you on fire. That’s one reason why he’s not here today. He loathes Earth and never intends to return.”
“He’s not interested in contacting his sister?” Tremblay questioned. “I could arrange that. Perhaps even a meeting here on Midway if she would be willing.”
“No, he’d prefer his sister to be told he’s dead,” John said. “There is nothing to gain by telling her what really happened—let her think her brother died a human being. It’s for the best.”
“Cutting yourselves off from Earth seems like an unhealthy choice,” Woolsey said in a tone that bordered on pensive. “We want to help you—we want to find a way to treat your condition.”
John sighed and shook his head.
“You seem to think we’re here to negotiate,” Shen interjected. “We’re not. We will be sending another expedition to Atlantis. The Daedalus will be returned to us, and your population will be migrated to a planet in the Milky Way. Those that have been recalled by their governments will be sent home. Your…off-spring…has a dubious claim to dual citizenship in both Japan and the United States. Its fate will be decided by our two governments at a later time.”
“How exactly do you plan to make this happen?” John questioned and glanced toward Thor. The Asgardian’s mouth was pursed though he had no way of knowing if that meant he was displeased or not.
“We’re more than willing to force the issue,” Shen said and smiled then checked her watch. “In fact, it should be starting right about now.”
“I really hope you didn’t send anyone to Pegasus you wanted to get back alive.” John pulled his radio from his pocket and tucked it into his ear. “Bouchard. Situation Red.”
The shimmer of transporter energy around him started and he offered them a smirk as he disappeared.
Bouchard was standing at parade rest when they solidified on the bridge of the Daedalus. “Sir.”
“They sent ships to Atlantis. What was the last status you received?”
“They were preparing to leave,” Bouchard said and hit a button his command chair. “Wilkes—dial Atlantis now.” Several long moments passed.
“No joy, sir. The last chevron refuses to lock.”
– – – –
“What the fuck have you done?” O’Neill demanded.
“What the SGC should’ve done months ago!” Shen snapped. “The Korolev was dispatched to Pegasus to take control of the city. We’re no longer willing to tolerate their rebellion. Those science experiments need to be rounded up and contained. Colonel Chekov has orders to subdue the population and transport them off the city.” She crossed her arms when Woolsey stood from the table. “Relax, they’ll be careful with the children, at least. If the adults fight back then whatever happens is on them.”
O’Neill turned to Woolsey. “I told you it was a mistake to give Russia the second 304. We should’ve kept it like we intended. I had a great name picked out. It’ll be another six months before the third is ready. Now, Earth doesn’t have a ship at all.”
Shen scoffed. “You don’t honestly think the people on Atlantis destroyed the Korolev. It’s got Asgard shields.”
Thor cleared his throat. “I imagine the ship lasted at least fifteen minutes under the bombardment of Ancient drones—perhaps a little longer depending on how much patience Dr. McKay had.” He focused on O’Neill. “The Asgard will no longer be involved with this matter on Earth’s behalf, O’Neill. I am disappointed in how the Tauri has handled the situation with the Tatsu. Should Alpha Sheppard request our help—it will be given.” He pushed a button on his chair and disappeared. Heimdall shimmered away seconds later.
Jack didn’t bother to check the control area from Hermiod. He had no doubts that Thor had retrieved all of his people. “Fantastic.” He glared at Shen. “You do realize you’ve damaged our relationship with the Asgard with this stunt, right? We agreed to take no hostile action against Atlantis!”
“My government didn’t agree.” She shrugged. “We already have all the technology we need from the Asgard.”
“Really?” Daniel laughed bitterly. “They’ve shared less than ten percent of their knowledge with us, and without them, I’m not sure we stand a chance against the Ori.” He ran a hand through his hair. “For fuck’s sake, Jack.”
“We need to prepare in case they decide to retaliate,” Jack murmured.
“You think Sheppard would do that?”
“I think it will depend entirely on whether or not anyone on Atlantis was hurt during the altercation,” Jack said evenly and glared at Shen. “If there were any deaths I expect they’ll make us pay in kind. The fact that they didn’t lash out over the virus is a miracle considering the obvious primal drives they’re dealing with. Sheppard is a predator—a very dangerous predator.”
“Agreed,” Woolsey said. “It was like being in a room with a pride of lions. We certainly don’t know the full extent of their abilities or what they’ve learned to do with them. Sheppard was obviously keeping track of our vital signs. He knew I was honest just as easily as he knew that Ms. Shen was profoundly hostile.”
“This meeting was a mistake,” Tremblay said. “They got the only thing they needed out of us, and now the relationship is even more hostile than it was before. Sheppard will rightly think he was brought here to make the city more vulnerable to a takeover.” He rubbed his face. “Let’s just hope that all they did was blow the Korolev up. Because if they’ve taken hostages, we have nothing to bargain with.”
“I have a feeling that the Tatsu doesn’t take prisoners,” Jack said neutrally. “It was clear that Sheppard’s world is a black and white one. There are enemies, and there are friends. We are their enemies, and I don’t expect a dragon gives an enemy a single bit of quarter.” He focused on Shen. “If you ever refer to Sheppard’s son as an it again, I’ll ruin your life. That kid, no matter his origin or species, is off-limits to you and your government. The SGC will not be a party to any action going forward that targets that infant.”
“He’s patient zero, General O’Neill. He’s the reason that Sheppard’s altered genetics activated and the virus was generated,” Shen snapped impatiently. “That infant is the key to repeating the experiment. He will be retrieved from Pegasus, one way or another. What you want isn’t going to matter for much longer. When I get back to Earth, Russia will be taking their gate back.”
Jack grinned then. “Sheppard was right about one thing—we don’t need Russia’s gate anymore. I’ve several back-ups at this point and a few DHDs, too. We’ll be happy to throw Russia’s gate back their way. Not that it’ll do them much good.” He shrugged as she glared at him.
“We should dial Atlantis to apologize for what’s happened and order the Korolev to stand down if the situation is ongoing,” Tremblay suggested.
Jack nodded, and Daniel left the room at a trot. Within a few moments, the Pegasus gate started to lock chevrons. It stalled on the last symbol.
“It won’t lock, Jack,” Daniel said in a subdued tone. “You don’t…think they…surely they didn’t destroy the city to avoid being taken over.”
“Sheppard said he would do exactly that,” Jack said grimly and took a deep breath. “Dial Earth. We need to get off this thing immediately.”
“The gate is dormant again,” Simpson reported from her station to the left of the Bouchard’s chair.
“Life signs?” John questioned.
“None, Alpha. They’ve evacuated the station completely.”
“Destroy it,” John said. “Wait. Get my coat then blow it.”
“It was a birthday present,” John defended. “I can’t imagine the lecture.” He snatched the coat from the air when it shimmered into the air in front of him. “Thanks, Helen.” He pulled it on and watched on the view screen as a series of Ancient drones hit the space station. It cracked like an egg as it exploded.
“Orders, sir?” Bouchard asked.
John hesitated only briefly. They couldn’t count on the fact that Atlantis had made it off the surface of the planet, so they had no choice but to go back to the planet to confirm before heading to the rendezvous point. “Old world. We need to confirm the location of the city and the ship from Earth.” He paused and glanced toward the view screen. “Drop out of hyperspace every six hours—to dial the city. Check the old world and our rendezvous point.”
– – – –
Kenzo was fussy, but that was to be expected. He always got fussy when his sire was out of his sight for more than a few hours at a time. Miko passed the baby to Rodney who situated his squirming new burden across his bump. Kenzo made a throaty purring sound and rubbed his cheek against the swell of McKay’s stomach, which made them both smile.
“Do you think he knows there’s a baby in here?” McKay asked curiously as Kenzo clumsily hugged the baby bump.
“Maybe on some instinctual level,” she conceded.
Miko looked out over the balcony and focused on the Earth ship in orbit around their old world. They’d achieved orbit roughly ten minutes after the ship had appeared on their sensors. The whole city was cloaked and shielded, so she wasn’t concerned about being discovered.
“Lorne thinks we should destroy them outright.”
“There are three different carriers on this city carrying his offspring,” Rodney reminded. “His own mate, Alison Porter, and Graham Simmons. With that much paternal instinct at play, it’s no wonder at all that he wants to destroy a ship that was clearly sent here to invade us.”
She hummed under his breath. “I’m of two minds actually.”
“I’m torn between blowing it up and taking it.”
Rodney laughed. “One ship from Earth isn’t enough for you?”
Miko spared him a glance. “I’m not opposed to adding it our defensive measures, but it’ll be several months if not a year before they can replace it. If they lose another to us, they might be less inclined toward sending another ship to Pegasus merely for the sake of their budget. Also, if we managed to take it—we could review the data and their mission perimeters. I’d very much like to know why they’re here and what their goals were. We could interrogate them then send them back to the Milky Way—gate them to the planet of our choice depending on how we feel about them afterward.”
“Then I can assume we’d be sending them to that hellfire and volcano planet that tried to eat Daniel Jackson?” Rodney said wryly and grinned when she laughed. He adjusted himself on the lounge chair, and Kenzo nuzzled against his neck as he shifted the baby upward. “We’re due to meet John and the Daedalus in fourteen days.”
“They probably coordinated their efforts,” she murmured. “Perhaps even tried to take them hostage. We should’ve made arrangements for alternative communication.”
“If they tried something with John, we know they failed,” Rodney said. “The Asgard promised us they would not allow a hostage situation of our people. Moreover, we had Bouchard in place. If that happened then, they are coming here before anywhere else to at least look for the ship from Earth.” Rodney frowned at the ship. “Per the information we have the Daedalus, that ship out there is supposed to be named Apollo, but it clearly is named Korolev.”
“Russian,” Miko murmured. “I wonder what has happened on Earth to cause such a shift in politics. We know that Russia and China were heavily involved with the Brits where it concerned Beckett’s research.”
“The fact that China was allowed to send their IOA rep to the meeting a Midway should’ve been enough for us to refuse to meet with them outright.”
Miko frowned but nodded. “In the end, it was about distraction and stalling. Which was obviously something both sides were working on. We’re safe from their plans, and we need information from John before we proceed. How long do you think the Korolev will stay in orbit before leaving?”
“They’ll need another twenty-four hours just to complete a surface scan. Another forty-eight if they’re going to search underwater for the city. The gate energy signature is distinct but small—they’re certainly looking for it. It’s tempting to drop a gate down on the surface to keep them busy for longer.”
“But in the end, it’s a waste of resources—we could beam a team on board to disable the ship and keep them in orbit if that is an immediate concern.” Miko took a deep breath. “I hate this.”
“Why can’t they be good?” She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth when it trembled. Crying in public wasn’t something she should indulge in. The rest of the Flight looked to her for leadership, and that went beyond the general running of the city.
She hadn’t wanted the job, to be honest, but when it came right down to it not everyone was comfortable under the leadership of a former military man and McKay had been even less interested than she had. Miko had tried to lobby for Teyla’s placement, but in the end, the Pegasus native demurred on the grounds that she didn’t know enough about the science done on the city to competently oversee experiments. Teyla had agreed, however, to be part of the Primus’ advisory council, so that was something. She also acted as Miko’s second-in-command when it came to the overall administration of the city. John handled security and off-world missions while McKay maintained official domain over the sciences and maintenance of the city. The spread of power made her comfortable.
“Humans are greedy, ambitious, and prone to an immense amount of selfishness,” Rodney said after a protracted silence. “They chose to experiment on John because by their estimation he’d already been ruined and contaminated by the Iratus. He was less than them as far as they were concerned. Beckett didn’t think of John as a person anymore—he was a lab experiment, a rat in a cage.”
Miko pushed down an immense amount of fury even as her chest heated. The flames within them weren’t a traditional sort of fire, but the heat felt similar. Smoke trailed out of one nostril. “Fuck.”
“Sorry,” Rodney murmured. “I know you hate the way it tastes.”
The fire-energy, as many referred to it, tasted like ash and sulfur. She did hate the way it saturated her tongue as it was expelled. Miko wondered if that was why she was the first of them to learn to lure the fire to her hand instead. She clenched her fist then opened it as a ball of fire appeared.
Kenzo made a happy sound and reached for it. McKay shifted himself around and put the baby on the lounge so he could sit, and Miko passed the ball of fire to her son. Kenzo giggled and tried to bite it. The blue fire lit up his face, and he shivered with delight. His coal black wings unfurled and fluttered on his back as he chewed on the fire.
“I think he might learn to fly before he learns to walk,” Rodney said.
“He does love to fly with John,” Miko said in agreement.
“Da!” Kenzo exclaimed and waved the fireball. “Da! Now!”
Miko laughed. “Maybe John was right—I think you did corrupt him in the womb.”
“There is nothing wrong with knowing that you want and expecting to get it,” Rodney explained and shed his jacket.
Miko watched McKay’s wings slide gently out of the openings in the back of his shirt and unfold just as gracefully as the baby’s had. Having read the report that the Asgard prepared for Earth she knew they’d shared very little with the humans about the Tatsu’s biology. Their entire intent had been about confirming that the virus that had made them was truly dead and it was, after a fashion. It was no longer airborne and could not be passed by touch. It was active in their blood, however, and more than one ally in Pegasus had expressed interest in joining them both on the city and as a species. After all, it was becoming well known in Pegasus that the Wraith could not feed on the Tatsu.
She knew, eventually, they would have to develop a way of knowing for sure who would survive the transition and who would not. They’d all agreed that they would not risk exposing anyone to the contagion if there was a chance it would kill them. Miko personally couldn’t imagine watching another person go through the horrible deaths many on the city had suffered.
“Keller says she’s close to figuring out what all of us have in common that allowed us to survive and change with the virus,” Miko said.
Rodney grimaced but said nothing. She knew he wasn’t on board with allowing anyone to volunteer for the conversion but as Primus, she had a duty to the city and to their new species. The more genetic diversity they had on the city, the fewer problems future generations would have. Moreover, who was she to deny a person in Pegasus safety from being fed on by a Wraith?
“Would you…” Miko paused. “Would you take a cure if one was found?”
Rodney blinked in surprise and steadied Kenzo when he tilted too far forward. “I…” His hand went to his belly. “Honestly? Before I got pregnant, maybe, but this is magic, Miko. I can’t wait for Nova to get here.”
She laughed and reached over patted the bump. “Let’s hope she doesn’t actually live up to her name.”
Rodney shrugged. “I don’t really know, I guess. I mean it would…” He huffed. “A part of me misses being human. But the virus changed a lot more in my life than my body. It gave me you and John.” He cupped Kenzo’s head when the baby tilted back and tried to shove the ball of fire into his mouth. “And the two of you gave me a beautiful and amazing son. I have a family because of the virus. But I also watched you and John suffer an immense amount of physical and emotional trauma to get here. I love you both so I would’ve done anything to prevent you from being hurt.” He paused. “Also, I think you realize as much as I do that John would’ve never even considered a triad relationship if we were still human. He’d have eventually had to make a choice between us and that would’ve hurt him a lot.” He paused. “And me.”
“You think he would’ve chosen me?” Miko questioned in surprise.
“Don’t you?” Rodney asked with a frown and glanced toward the baby.
“I don’t think he would’ve abandoned our child, Rodney, but John’s been in love with you since the first year of the expedition. He just never thought you’d commit to a relationship with a man and also there were those stupid military regulations. John fell into a sexual relationship with me because you started dating Katie Brown despite the fact that you were sleeping with him on a regular basis. He thought you wanted to play it that way, so that’s what he did. We fell in love by accident, I think. I certainly didn’t plan on it. I don’t doubt his feelings for me—trust me on that—but I think he would’ve chosen you.”
“This is a depressing topic,” Rodney declared. “Maybe he’d have dumped us both.”
Miko grinned. “Then we could’ve gotten together and rubbed it in his face.”
“You’re so mean and petty,” he exclaimed. “It genuinely makes my day.” He checked his watch. “If we moved the city and established an orbital path just short of the planet’s hill sphere, our gate would start working. John will probably try to dial us periodically the whole trip back.”
“We’ve confirmed the earth ship doesn’t have a gate,” Miko said and took a deep breath. “Yeah, let’s do that, but we’ll need a full security team on duty just in case, let Lorne know?”
“I will.” Rodney passed Kenzo back to her and slid out of the lounger.
She watched him walk away then focused on her son. “Your fathers have turned out to be quite useful most of the time. Now, if only I could break them from leaving their clothes on the floor before you’re old enough to emulate them.”
Kenzo tossed the ball off the balcony and giggled as it disintegrated. Ashes drifted in the artificial atmosphere supplied by the city before a vent nearby activated and drew it all in.
– – – –
The second dial out from the Daedalus found John standing down in the secondary cargo hold they’d turned into a gateroom. Ten days away from his family had felt like a nightmare even before the situation had unfolded on Midway Station. It was a personal sort of torture that he was utterly prepared for but couldn’t force himself to speak of. The idea of his mates and children being exposed to a threat when he couldn’t respond was chilling and infuriating. He barely refrained from slumping in relief when the gate connected.
They were still on homeworld—he didn’t like the implications at all.
“Atlantis, this is Sheppard.”
“We’ve got a Russian ship in orbit, sir. Let me connect you to the Primus.”
John waited for half a heartbeat before Miko’s voice filled his ear.
“Why haven’t you blown that ship up?” John demanded as he picked up the duffle he’d sent out on the Daedalus. He tapped out his IDC even as he walked toward the gate. “We’re coming through.”
“The shield is down,” Miko said. “I’m considering stealing the ship.”
John stepped through the gate with Teldy and Ronon at his back. He found McKay, Kenzo and Miko both standing just short of the gate, surrounded by a whole unit of former Marines. They hadn’t, yet, decided what they’re military situation would look like. Though they were leaning toward a Navy structure due to the nature of their current fleet.
“Da!” Kenzo lurched out of his mother’s arms, and John caught him with a little grunt.
He dropped his duffle as the baby’s wings flicked rapidly with excitement. “Out and proud today, I see.” He kissed his head, and the baby giggled. John curled one hand protectively against Kenzo’s back, his fingers brushing gently under the edge of the baby’s leathery wings.
“He’s been curling them out and in repeatedly since last night,” Rodney explained. “Hungry?”
“No, I’m fine. We need to sit the advisory council so I can lay out what happened on Midway.” His fingers curled briefly into his son’s shirt. “I’d rather that the baby not attend the meeting.” He flushed when they both raised an eyebrow at him. “We really don’t know how much he understands, you know. We can’t compare him to human infants.”
“No, you’re right,” Miko murmured. “Jennifer, do you mind taking Kenzo?”
Jennifer Keller was taking a turn in the ops center. The whole population had been forced to cross train and work during the epidemic, and that workload had continued after it was all said and done due to reduced numbers. She stood with a smile and Kenzo made a happy sound when she reached out for him.
“Watching this gorgeous guy is nothing short of winning the lottery,” she declared and focused on Kenzo who was staring at her pointedly. “Let’s go chase butterflies in the arboretum.”
“Bufys!” Kenzo bounced a little in her arms.
“Oh.” McKay fished a little leather harness out of his pocket and passed it to Jennifer. “Just in case. He achieved a bit of minor lift his morning in his crib.”
Jennifer laughed. “Did he? You’re so smart, Kenzo.”
She strolled off with him, and John stilled the urge to stop her. He trusted Keller completely, but instinctually he wasn’t comfortable with his son being taken out of his sight. Jennifer had more than proven her worth as a doctor and a geneticist during the epidemic. She’d been instrumental in figuring out what Beckett had done to them and even now her work in studying their genetics would help them grow and thrive as a species.
John let himself be guided into the conference room. Teldy slid into a chair beside Teyla Emmagen who was working silently on a laptop.
Ronon took the seat on Teyla’s other side and reached out of a wrapped sandwich from the pile in the middle of the table. “How’s the baby?”
Teyla glanced ruefully down to her prominent baby bump and huffed. “I think he has decided to stay. I’m now ten days overdue. Dr. Biro would like to induce me, but I’ve not made the decision, yet.”
Teyla’s child had been fathered by another Athosian. He’d survived the transition, but the man had been unprepared emotionally for the change. Kanaan’s family had been heavily experimented on by the Wraith—he’d emerged from the epidemic with a very high scale ratio. John often wondered if the man would’ve killed himself if his appearance had remained more human. Though it wasn’t something that he’d ever ask Teyla. She’d made peace with her lover’s decision to end his own life and had even stayed with him while it happened. In their culture, there was no shame in choosing to end one’s suffering whether it be emotional or physical. Those who could not cope with the changes had, in fact, all turned to the former Athosians for solace in their final moments.
“It’s true that we don’t know enough about our gestation to know for certain that you’re overdue,” Miko said. “My own labor was brought on by stress.”
John watched McKay bring tea to the table for all three of them and accepted the mug out of politeness than desire. He took a sip and allowed himself to relax a bit as they waited for Radek Zelenka, Evan Lorne, and Alison Porter to arrive. Porter had taken over as CMO shortly after Beckett’s arrest. Porter slipped in and took a seat beside Teldy, her mate, and cracked her neck a little. Alison was part of the Primus’ council, but Anne was not.
Evan hit the tea table and came back with two mugs, one of which he passed to Porter. John wondered, often, how that worked. He knew that Lorne had agreed to father children for both Porter and Teldy as desired and they had a family group situation going on with himself and Chase Harris. Lorne had also fathered a child with Graham Simmons—who’d wanted a baby but hadn’t been all that interested in a mate. Graham was part of their household as well.
“Stop speculating about their sex life,” Rodney muttered, and John laughed.
He took another sip of tea and focused on Miko who’d taken a seat in her regular chair on the opposite end of him. John waited for her to start—when they’d settled on Miko as the Primus of their Flight and the city leader, he’d sworn to himself that his personal feelings for her wouldn’t interfere with the jobs they had to do. It was a work in progress if he were honest with himself, but they’d come along way since the beginning. He trusted her to make the best decisions for the city and the Flight—the rest of the population did, too.
Miko set her tablet aside and finally focused on John once everyone was seated and the doors had slid shut. “What do they want?”
“You, Kenzo, and probably me,” John said bluntly. “Japan, China, and Canada want all of their people back. They believed the pregnancy had been aborted, China specifically wanted the fetal remains. When I explained to them that the pregnancy had continued—Shen then demanded you and Kenzo be turned over to the Japanese government. She called Kenzo…patient zero. I suspect they want to use him to duplicate the experiment on Earth in a controlled setting or perhaps on a planet in the Milky Way. Either way, they never had enough of Beckett’s data to understand that I manifested my changes and the viral contagion due to paternal instinct.”
“Beckett didn’t believe that,” Porter said. “That’s Keller’s working theory regarding the retrovirus, but Beckett thought she was silly and fanciful. Of course, he never really got the opportunity to study us post-transition. He had no way of knowing how advanced our senses would become. Otherwise, he might have asked you if you could smell the changes in Miko’s body due to pregnancy.”
“Granted, but people on Earth have reached a partial conclusion that they’re prepared to fight to test.” John focused on his tea and cleared his throat. “I think we need to reevaluate our plans for the future. Most importantly, I believe that our next home should be a planet that has never had a gate in Pegasus. Earth has access to the gate data from the city. Moreover, no matter how close the ally we’d be better served with never sharing our home address with outsiders.”
“You want to have a beta site for mission departure and arrivals?” Rodney questioned and shared a glance with Porter. “My only concern would an emergency involving an injury. Minutes can be the difference between life and death.”
“Our physiology is more robust,” Alison began. “We’ve sourced a lot of the puncture resistant animal hide for field missions. Our goals are different now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t encounter hostile situations.”
“There are records for several space stations,” Miko said. “Defunct and off-line after the Ancient migration. We could potentially recover one of them and use it for off-world operations. Do you consider Earth that big of a threat?”
“I think there are elements on Earth that would murder us all to get what they want and they want our son,” John said. He watched a thin wisp of smoke curl out of her nostril and his own fire which he’d kept carefully banked started to burn hotter. “I don’t think O’Neill would support it, but he isn’t in control of that ship out there.”
“Should we give him a chance to make that right?” Rodney questioned then frowned.
“Out of everyone at Midway, he and Jackson were the only ones who didn’t appear to have an agenda that would end with us being killed or held hostage,” Teldy said. “We have a lot of vulnerable people in the Flight right now—three infants and a multitude of pregnant carriers. We can’t risk them for any reason. I don’t think a single sire on the city would remain civilized.”
John knew he wouldn’t. “Let’s ask the Asgard to treat with O’Neill personally. They’re especially sensitive to the delicate circumstances our species currently exists in being on the cusp of extinction themselves. They know our population is barely viable and that we can’t afford injuries or losses.”
“And if O’Neill can’t be trusted either?”
“I don’t think Thor would bring him or anyone else here if that were a problem. If we attack the Earth ship then we’re escalating the conflict,” Lorne said. “I’m prepared to do that if it’s the best defense we have against Earth. But if we can make an alliance that will prevent them from actively hunting us, then we should.”
John rubbed his head roughly with both hands. “Personally, I’d like to beam myself over to that fucking ship and rip them all to pieces.”
“I’m game,” Ronon interjected and shrugged when Teyla elbowed him.
“I believe seeking peace for as long as we can is the correct course of action,” Teyla said pointedly and focused on Miko. “And if they can’t play nice, then we can send a team of there to make them regret all of their life choices.”
“Radek?” Miko questioned. “You’ve not expressed an opinion.”
Zelenka frowned. “They piss me off. I say let John and Ronon kill them all. We take their ship, rename it something lovely, and fuck off to our new world. Let Earth wonder what happened to them.” He waved a hand. “We can toss the bones in a crate and leave it on the planet for them to find.”
John grinned at him.
Miko huffed. “Mating has not tempered you as I believed it would. I’ll be talking with Dr. Parrish about this.”
“They shouldn’t have come out here if the wanted to live,” Radek said crossly. “They’re endangering our nest.”
“Oh, god,” Rodney said and groaned. “Come on Radek. You let Parrish knock you up? Who’s going to keep the idiots from killing us all if we’re both on paternity leave at the same time?”
Radek crossed his arms. “Fuck off, Rodney.” Then he frowned. “Though I am worried about the idiots. Why Beckett didn’t work on increasing intelligence is a goddamned mystery to me, that sheep-fucking bastard.”
John snorted and flushed when Miko glared at him. “Well, I find myself appalled by Beckett’s lack of attention to important details as well. He clearly had a problem with his priorities.”
Miko sighed and picked up her tea. She slouched back against her chair and shook her head as several people started to laugh. “We’ll contact the Asgard. Thor will decide if O’Neill is capable of diffusing this situation. If the answer is no—from Thor or Earth, then we’ll take their ship. Any that survive it will be gated back to a planet in the Milky Way of Rodney’s choice, and he can be as petty as he would like.”
Rodney grinned and wiggled an eyebrow at John.
Jack O’Neill had been relieved to be retrieved by Thor and had quickly gathered SG1 and an entire team to take over the Korolev. The fact that the people on Atlantis were willing to give him, at least, a second chance had been heartening. He hoped it spoke to a good future relationship, but he knew that their fate greatly depended on how the current conflict was resolved.
Agreeing to beam down without weapons had put Abraham Ellis off entirely, but the younger man had stopped questioning the decision when O’Neill had suggested he stay on board the Asgard ship, the Beowulf. Carter and Jackson were excited to see the city of the Ancients so much that they’d have stripped bareass for the beam-down if required. Teal’c had merely raised an eyebrow at Thor that clearly indicated that he considered himself badass enough not to really need a weapon. Mitchell had followed orders immediately to disarm, but he didn’t look pleased at all. As a result of their various reactions, O’Neill had resolved to watch Ellis the closest, and a shared look with Teal’c had ensured he wouldn’t be on that duty alone.
He gave Thor a nod, and the Asgard gave him a pursed barely pleased look in return. Jack knew he had a long way to go on repairing Earth’s relationship with the Asgard. He didn’t understand the depth of their attachment to the Tatsu that was obvious. It had been a severe fumble in the meeting. The beaming technology activated and he found himself in the middle of the gate room on Atlantis directly in front of Dr. Miko Kusanagi and a full team of security at her back.
“Dr. Kusanagi.” Jack nodded and was relieved when she offered her hands in greeting. He took both gently and immediately to avoid the impression that he was hesitant to touch their kind. “Thank you for inviting us to Pegasus. I hope this second meeting goes better than the first.”
“We hope so as well,” Kusanagi said coolly and released his hands. “This remains your only chance of making any sort of peace with the Tatsu, General O’Neill. Should this encounter not be resolved to my liking, you will never hear from us again.” She motioned toward the large balcony behind the gate. “Come, I will show you something.”
Jack followed her, and the sight that greeted them blew his mind. Thor had told him that the city was in a cloaked orbit, so the shield and space view wasn’t a surprise. There were a dozen children and some adults flying. Every single one of them was sporting bat-like wings.
“John was the first of us to master flight,” Kusanagi said. “This is a flying lesson. Since the children who survived the outbreak varied in age—we had no choice but to learn fast and teach them faster. My son is ten months old, and he’s already achieving lift. We’re a sturdy race, but a fall from a great distance would cause us significant harm.”
Jack didn’t know what to say, and he’d freely admit he rarely found himself at a loss for words. He glanced toward Carter who was staring at the flyers with an awed expression though he wasn’t surprised to see a bit of a calculation on her face as well. Forever a scientist, he thought somewhat sadly. One reason why he’d always hesitated with Carter, even after he’d moved to Washington, was her inability to just let something amazing and beautiful happen right in front of her. Science and discovery eventually bled all over her thoughts.
He turned back to Kusanagi, and John Sheppard dropped down onto the balcony with a flush of large black wings. Jack figured his wingspan was every bit of thirty feet. He had a child in his arms, held tight against a bare, sweaty chest. Scales trailed down both sides of his head all the way down into the pair of leather pants Sheppard was wearing. The baby’s little black wings were fluttering rapidly on his back.
“Based on the time scale we were given by Beckett, Dr. Kusanagi, your son should be seven months old.” Sam was focused intently on the baby.
“The average human gestation is forty weeks,” Miko said with a mild glare. “I’m not human.”
Carter flushed. “Of course, my apologies.”
Sheppard glanced between the two women as his wings curled close to his body and disappeared. “The harness was a great call. He’s already able to hold his own weight up and liked the freedom.”
“Your wings fold into your body?” Carter asked.
Sheppard made a face. “I’m no longer a lab experiment, Colonel Carter. Keep your curiosity to yourself or return to the Beowulf.” He walked across the balcony toward O’Neill and paused in front of him. “Jack O’Neill meet patient zero, Kenzo Kusanagi Sheppard.”
Jack sucked in a shocked breath as Sheppard offered him the boy. He couldn’t help but take him. The baby was a bit lighter than expected based on appearance.
“He’s telling you he flew,” John said.
“He’s already talking?” Jack asked. “A little early, right?”
“We really don’t know, yet,” Miko admitted. “He’s the oldest of the children to be born Tatsu, and the developmental stages from Earth don’t apply. He spoke his first word at six months.” She shot John a look.
“It was the F-word,” John admitted.
Jack snorted and focused on the baby. The child’s wings were still flicking gently and up close, they had a leathery appearance—a thin membrane stretched tautly over fragile looking bones. The child felt and looked breakable to him, and it was a devastating thought. “He’s light.”
“Our bones are more avian in structure than humanoid,” John said. “He’s a lot sturdier than you think but we’re all lighter now—stronger as well.”
“Mama, milk.” Kenzo reached out for Miko. “Peez.”
“Let’s go the conference room,” Miko said and took the baby from Jack’s arms.
Jack hated to let him go. It had been far too long since he’d held a baby. He shared a look with Daniel who looked pensive and concerned. Carter was obviously still teetering on the edge of inappropriate scientific curiosity. Both Ellis and Mitchell looked deeply uncomfortable with the whole thing. Teal’c was still watching the other Tatsu fly.
Jack cleared his throat. “Yes, hmmm, we brought you guys some coffee? Daniel insisted.”
John winced as they entered the city. He grabbed a T-shirt off the stair railing and pulled it over his head. “Thank you, Dr. Jackson, but our physiology can no longer tolerate even small amounts of caffeine. It might interest you to know since you’ve worked with the Unas, that their species once had the ability to fly. Our genetics department believes that the Unas probably evolved from a dragon-like creature much like we did from primates. At any rate, we had to remove several Earth staples from our diet due to intolerances reactions. Caffeine and alcohol were the first to go.”
“That breaks my heart,” Daniel Jackson said earnestly. “I can’t imagine giving up coffee and chocolate. It’s a nightmare.”
“Fortunately, we have trading partners that have similar products that don’t have caffeine in them,” a woman said as they entered the conference room.
“General O’Neill and company, this is Teyla Emmagan, she is second to the Primus,” John explained as he took a seat beside Kusanagi, who had slid into the chair at the head of the conference table.
Jack noted there wasn’t a chair on the opposite end. An indication they weren’t going to give him equal billing in the room. He shook his head when Ellis started to speak. “This is Colonel Abraham Ellis, he’ll be taking command of the Korolev and hand-picked his crew from the SGC for that mission. I brought SG1 with me at the behest of President Hayes. Dr. Daniel Jackson, Colonel Sam Carter, Colonel Cameron Mitchell, and Teal’c.”
Kusanagi focused on each of them in turn before shifting her child in her arms and casually unbuttoning the fitted vest and blouse she wore. Ellis made a startled sound when she exposed one plump, rosy-tipped breast. Kenzo immediately latched on, and his wings curled in as he relaxed utterly in his mother’s arms.
She looked up after she was settled and focused on Ellis. “If it offends you to watch me nourish my child you can step outside until he’s done.”
“I’m…I was…surprised,” Ellis settled on. “I’m not offended.”
Jack eyed the man but then focused on the Primus’ face. “Thor told us that your people infiltrated the Korolev and disabled it.”
“Yes, I thought it best to keep the ship in orbit,” Kusanagi said. “I considered beaming them all off the ship into space.” She just offered Jackson a lethal smile when he gaped at her. “It’s still an option for me, I assure you. The Korolev represents precisely what kind of threat Earth has the potential to be both to the Flight and specifically to my son. I will not allow such a threat to continue to exist—it’s why we work now to fight the Wraith and kill them. Not for Earth but for the Tatsu and the other peoples of Pegasus we’ve aligned ourselves with. Absolutely no resolution we create in the days to come will involve any sort of capitulation on our parts.
“I’d say we don’t owe the Tauri anything, but it wouldn’t be true. Earth is due to be paid back in kind for all of the death and suffering that took place on this city because of Carson Beckett and the IOA. It is due to suffer for the genocide of both the Athosians and the destruction of Sateda’s legacy. Ronon stood as the last of people of his world and if he were willing to discuss such a thing with you—he’d tell you that he no longer feels any sort of connection to his former world. It was destroyed by the retrovirus. I know this destruction intimately—as it writhes in my gut much like the fire we can’t extinguish does.”
“What do you want from us?” O’Neill questioned. His gaze dropped to the baby. “I want you to know that I’ve informed President Hayes of the IOA’s demands regarding the retrieval of your son. We were forced to return the Russian’s gate to them, but Carter disabled it before it was sent. They won’t be able to go off world to source the parts to fix it. Additionally, we’ve installed a DHD in Cheyenne Mountain to maintain dominion over Earth’s gate address. We will not be returning the Korolev to them. It will be recommissioned for the U.S. shortly before the president declassifies the entire program.”
“Hayes is going to declassify the Stargate Program?” Sheppard asked in surprise.
“He doesn’t have much of a choice if he wants to get ahead of China’s demands regarding ships and technology. The IOA is imploding, and once more they are trying to blackmail us. I told him that it was a never-ending circle and that our only escape was full disclosure. He agreed much to my shock.”
“Will this declassification include the Atlantis mission and Beckett’s sanctioned experiment?” Miko questioned as she deftly switched her child around to her other breast.
“Hayes wants you to make that call,” Jack said. “We’re willing to do that. We’re also willing to list the Atlantis mission as a failure and all members of the expedition KIA. Some of you have family on Earth, but Colonel Sheppard led us to believe you don’t wish to contact them.”
“No, those of us who have…no.” Miko shook her head. “Not a single member of the Flight wants to contact family on Earth. None of us had particularly good relationships with the family we left behind. You don’t volunteer for a one-way mission to another galaxy because you have loving family relationships you’ll miss. I personally agreed to the mission because my parents were pressuring me to marry one of my father’s business associates. Regardless, there is nothing but heartbreak left for us on Earth, O’Neill and most of us believe we’ve suffered enough for what’s been done to us.” She frowned then. “But I don’t want what was done to us covered up. Those that share blame on Earth should be punished as severely as possible, and that means full declassification. If any family left behind honestly wish to reach out to us in kindness, we’d consider it.”
“Is McKay joining us?” Carter questioned. “I had some questions about his cloaking technology. It’s great.”
Miko glanced briefly at Sheppard. “No, Dr. McKay isn’t available to meet with you. We might arrange for a conversation over the radio at some point.”
Carter flushed. “I realize McKay and I didn’t always get along at the SGC, but I’m not a danger to him.”
“You are actually,” John said neutrally. “All of you are. McKay and several others on the city have been sequestered for their own protection.”
“I don’t follow,” Jack said. “Not a single person I brought with me to Pegasus would attack one of you unprovoked. You don’t trust me anymore—I get that, but I’m trying really hard here, Sheppard.”
“McKay and seventeen other men on the city are currently pregnant,” Miko said bluntly. “They’ve chosen not to interact with outsiders to avoid hostile situations and questions. In early pregnancy, our kind are prone to explosive reactions in stressful situations which can lead to miscarriage. We found that out the hard way.”
“McKay is pregnant?” Ellis asked aghast.
Miko grinned. “Does it help, at all, to know I’m not the daddy?”
Jack burst out laughing.
– – – –
“O’Neill is clearly doing damage control with the Asgard,” McKay said as soon as John and Miko entered the lab with the baby. “Also, that guy’s face when you told him I was pregnant—priceless.” He turned on his stool and met John’s gaze. “I think O’Neill and the SGC will do a hell of a lot to soothe the Asgard’s ruffled feathers on the issue of us.
“I don’t know if that translates to safety where we are concerned,” Miko murmured and she passed Kenzo to McKay when the baby reached out.
John watched the two of them interact silently for a few moments before he walked across the lab to stare out the window. He didn’t like having the city in space—because it was a risk and also because he missed the sounds and smells of the ocean. The city air filtration system was so efficient that it already shed every bit of ocean air to be found within the shield. He let his forehead rest on the glass and stifled the urge to sigh. He knew they were waiting for him to say something, anything.
“I don’t trust them.” John winced, and his voice broke. He cleared his throat and turned to face his mates. “And I never will. Maybe it’s irrational, but I blame every single one of them for what was done to me, to us. Beckett had a lot of power behind him, and in the end, I don’t care that O’Neill was completely in the dark about the whole thing. He should’ve fucking paid attention to what was happening, and he didn’t for whatever reason.”
“I don’t disagree with any of that,” Rodney said even as Kenzo gleefully chattered against his cheek. He adjusted the baby as his wings unfurled. “There is nothing that Earth can really offer us that would equal any sort of absolution in my mind. Even the ones that didn’t know about the experiment would probably be willing to explore benefitting from the results. Carter is a perfect example of that. I’m not saying she knew about it or would’ve even participated in the experiment had she known, but she’s clearly more curious than appalled by what was done to us.” He frowned. “Why did you let O’Neill hold the baby?”
“I wanted him to…” John frowned and averted his gaze. “I wanted him to see that Kenzo isn’t just…the result of the experiment. He’s our son, and I guess part of me wanted to remind O’Neill of his own loss which I know is a disgusting thing to do, but Earth sent a goddamned nuclear-armed spaceship out here to…take his fetal remains.” He shuddered. “Shen’s face when she found out about Kenzo was nothing short of a nightmare. No matter what happens, in the end, I think it’s in our best interest to make sure Earth can never find us again after we leave this solar system.”
“You know neither of us disagrees,” Miko said quietly. “But I’m not above going there and letting you bomb them back to the Stone Age.”
John grinned at her. “We could just space the really deplorable people and let the rest sort themselves out.”
Miko walked across the lab to him as John leaned back against the windowsill. She curled her fingers into his front pockets as she slipped into his space, so he wrapped one hand around her hip and pulled her in.
“Do you regret getting Thor to bring O’Neill and his people here?”
John couldn’t help but grimace. “It’s the honorable choice, right?”
“I’ve always gotten the most appalling headaches when standing on the high ground,” Miko said and smiled when he couldn’t help but laugh. “Thor expects honorable choices from us all that’s why he’s so disappointed in the SGC. I think reaching out as we did solidified our good relations with them which will only benefit us.”
“Yeah.” John nodded and cupped her head gently. He pressed a kiss to her mouth when she shifted upward. “I just want us to be safe. Maybe that’s a naïve thing to even say aloud.” He ran his fingers through her hair and pulled her closer. “I want them to pay for what they did to us. I want them all to pay which isn’t fair, I guess, but I don’t care.”
“We’ll play nice for the moment,” Miko said. “But if they make a single move that looks like a threat—rip them all to pieces, John. Thor can take their parts back to Earth, and we’ll keep that ship out there. We can let the children give it a new name.”
“Agreed,” John said and let his hands fall to her hips. “Let’s get some lunch, and we’ll let Ellis tell us how he plans to subdue and remove the crew of the Korolev. If it’s risky, we can recess and have a conversation about that.”
Miko scrunched up her nose. “I was thinking that I’d just throw fire at him every time he says something I don’t like.”
“That works, too.”
– – – –
“So far, the Korolev has ignored all communications from us,” O’Neill began. “Thor says there is nothing wrong with their communication system but their hyperdrive remains offline.”
“It’s going nowhere,” John agreed. “I pulled the crystals controlling navigational controls—we know a lot about the BC-304 since we’ve had the Daedalus for a while now.”
O’Neill nodded and shared a look with Ellis, the only person he’d brought back to the city with him. “The president did order me to ask you one more time if you’re firm on keeping our ship.” He looked toward Miko as he spoke and John wondered if the older man thought he might get a different answer from her.
“John made my decision regarding the Daedalus perfectly clear, General O’Neill. It’s ours, and I’d sooner destroy it than return it to Earth. We’re in the process of upgrading it to require the correct genetic structure to function much like the rest of our technology.” She sat back in her chair and took a sip of Athosian tea.
Jack nodded and shot Ellis a look when the man started to protest. “I’ll tell President Hayes that it is to be considered a part of our reparations. What else can Earth provide on that front?”
“Beyond the appropriate punishment for every single person responsible for Beckett’s experiment?” Miko questioned. “We’d like you to leave us alone. The Tauri are not welcome in Pegasus. There is nothing here for you, O’Neill.”
“Atlantis isn’t the only thing the Ancients left behind in this galaxy,” Ellis said. “We’re still searching for technology to protect Earth, Dr. Kusanagi. You don’t have the right to say we can’t return to this galaxy.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Our alliances are spread far and wide in Pegasus. The details are beyond your right to know but do be assured that the Tauri would not be welcomed on a single on a planet that is allied with us. They all know what was done with us and they’ll never trust you as a result. In Pegasus, the Tauri are considered no better than the Wraith because of what you did to the Athosians. They were one of the oldest societies in this galaxy and were well known for their generosity. We have allies that would kill a Tauri on sight.”
“Why would you…” Ellis trailed off as O’Neill cleared his throat.
“We have the right to our own goddamned history,” Miko hissed, and blue flames flickered out of her clenched fist. “And who we tell our story to is our business, Colonel Ellis. Are you ashamed to be associated with such a legacy?”
“Of course, I am,” Ellis snapped. “No good man would want to be associated with a genocide!”
“Good,” Miko said evenly and sat back in her chair. The flames died down, but the air in the room smelled faintly of sulfur. “Carry that shame with you all of your days, Abraham, and take care in every single decision you make while you work with the SGC. Make sure everyone around you does the same. None of you should ever be allowed to forget what was done to us.” She focused on O’Neill. “Is Thor willing to beam them off the ship and into a cargo hold of some sort on the Beowulf?”
“He offered,” Jack said. “It would be disorienting for them, and they might react violently. We’re worried about panic and injuries.”
John honestly didn’t give a shit if anyone on the Korolev hurt themselves, but he said nothing.
Miko scrunched up her nose, and he had to look away to keep from laughing. She clearly didn’t care either. “Then arrange for them to be sedated in some fashion as soon as they are on board the Beowulf. I don’t care, honestly, what happens to those people. Sending them here was an act of war.”
O’Neill looked away from her, and his eyes fell on Teyla Emmagan. “Are you currently receptive to an apology on behalf of the Tauri regarding the fate of your people, Ms. Emmagan?”
“No,” Teyla said flatly. Her eyes darkened and when she exhaled smoke drifted out of her mouth. “The only reason I consented to be in your presence is that Supreme Commander Thor vouched for you personally and assured me that none of the people you brought with you were involved in what was done to us. As Alpha Sheppard already explained, it is offensive to be in your presence. You smell like death and suffering.”
“Do you know if Mr. Dex feels the same way?”
“Ronon is currently standing guard over the sequestered,” John said. “And would prefer not to interact with any of you again. His preference will be honored.”
O’Neill sighed and stood abruptly from the table. He walked over to the table where refreshments were laid out. “Should I avoid anything?”
“We ate and drank everything on the table when we were human,” Miko said. “The blue carafe has a coffee-like product you’ll probably enjoy unless you prefer to drink it black as tar. It tastes a great deal like Kona from Earth.”
“I’m having a hard time with all of this,” O’Neill said conversationally. “I get it—you have every right to be furious with the SGC. In your place, I’d certainly be far more uncivilized. I can’t make any of it right, and we all know that.”
“And you’re frustrated that we aren’t going to give the appearance of closure?” Miko questioned.
O’Neill snorted. “Closure is a myth. It’s an unattainable fantasy created by desperate people seeking relief when there is none to be found. My ex-wife is still searching for it, but I couldn’t stand by and watch. I’m just honestly grateful that you’re not willing not pretend it’s possible for your people.” He returned to the table and sat down. “All I can offer you is my regret, my own anger, and, like Abraham, an immense amount of shame that I will carry with me the rest of my days.”
In the end, Asgard technology made removal of the Korolev’s crew easy and painless for their side. They’d all been confined in a cargo bay on the Beowulf and threatened with unconsciousness if they behaved in a manner that disturbed Thor. Since none of them knew what they might entail, Jack hadn’t been all that surprised when every single one of them had taken a seat quietly and said nothing. He’d thought about going down there and lecturing the fuck out of them, but none of them were his people, and frankly, none of them would be his problem once he got back to Earth. He’d already decided to drop the whole lot of them in the UN’s lap and let them sort out that mess. Hayes’ first step in declassification had been a visit to that organization.
“How do you think it will shake out?”
Jack shrugged. “A lot of people will have a lot of opinions about how the SGC has handled the Stargate and various conflicts since all of this began. Some of them will be valid, and others will be formed from a place of ignorant safety. The Goa’uld are no longer a threat to us so that’ll quickly become abstract and the people we lost in that fight will be no more than names on a list.
“The looming threat of the Ori will cause a lot of problems especially with the deeply religious. Maybe they’ll even consider them a bigger threat than a species that would eat their life force.”
“At least until a Wraith lands in their backyard,” Mitchell said wryly and cleared his throat. “And we know that is a possibility. A stronger one now than it ever was before because they know about us, and Atlantis is no longer our vanguard. Sheppard would let a hive sit in orbit and cull our entire planet. You know that.”
“His priorities are messed up,” Carter said.
“No,” Jack said. “His priorities are just as they should be. Earth is not and never will be their responsibility again. Alpha Sheppard is tasked with protecting his whole species. They don’t have the resources to protect Earth.”
“Then they should give us the city,” Carter said. “They don’t need it—they could…” She trailed off when Jackson huffed. “Daniel, you know I’m right. They could easily settle on a planet in Pegasus and leave us the city. It’s selfish, what they’ve done.”
“Their population is small—barely viable,” Daniel said evenly. “They need the protection of the city. It’s not selfish to focus on their own survival in the wake of what has happened to them. An attack with too many losses could lead to their extinction, which is exactly why the Asgard are so heavily on their side in this whole situation. They’ve been teetering on the edge of extinction of over a thousand years, and they’re intimately familiar with that fear.” He leaned forward on his arm, hands seemingly relaxed on the table. “Sam, think about that baby. Think about Kenzo Sheppard. Imagine him in the hands of a Wraith or just try to picture that beautiful alien child in a lab on Earth.”
Carter paled and averted her gaze. “So we give up the city of the Ancients because of what others did to them?”
“Atlantis is Kenzo’s home,” Thor said from the doorway of the room they were in.
Jack refrained from standing and swallowed back a sigh at the way Thor was staring pointedly at Carter.
“They could build a home elsewhere.”
“They could,” Thor agreed. “But they don’t need to, Colonel Carter, because Atlantis belongs to them. Atlantis is Kenzo’s legacy, his birthright. I will not allow Earth to endanger him or his people in any single way.” He turned and focused on O’Neill. “As we leave this galaxy, O’Neill, I will set up monitors. I will know if a single ship from Earth approaches Pegasus. I will know if your people try to use the stargate to return to this galaxy. Any action taken against the Tatsu from this moment forward will be considered an action also taken against the Asgard. Some of your people may think us weakened due to our fight with the replicators but do keep in mind that you have absolutely no defense against us.”
Jack felt a thick knot of dread settle in his stomach. “I understand, Thor.”
“I do not doubt your honor, O’Neill,” Thor said. “But your people concern me greatly.”
“Why…” Carter took a deep breath. “Thor, why are the Asgard so invested in the Tatsu?”
Thor inclined his head and stared at her. “You were once instrumental in the salvation of my home world, Colonel Carter and I’m grateful for that. Your stupid idea was…quite helpful.” She blushed. “So I will soothe your curiosity on this issue. Once you asked me why the Asgard couldn’t transfer our consciousness into a human body to solve our cloning problem. I explained, in detail, how your brain structure was not advanced enough to hold the consciousness of even a young Asgard. We have grown too far mentally to return to our oldest body form.”
Sam nodded. “Yes, I remember.” Her eyes widened. “Thor…are you saying that the Asgard consciousness would survive in the form of a Tatsu?”
“They are unique in the universe,” Thor said neutrally. “Ancient, Iratus, Unas, and Human—there is no other species like them, and the result is stunning despite the horrific origin. It is the hope of the Asgard that we will be allowed to join the Tatsu in the future. Our numbers are small now, and the end is near. We will allow no one from Earth to interfere with that hope.”
Jack said nothing as the small alien stepped back and the door shut.
“We’re screwed,” Mitchell murmured.
“It would be advisable to tread carefully with the Tatsu from now on,” Teal’c said. “They are a beautiful species.” He turned back toward the viewpoint he’d been staring out of most of the meeting. “They rose from the ashes of a terrible ordeal, O’Neill, and they deserve peace with their children.”
Jack curled his fingers against his palm, a fleeting grief drifted across his mind as he remembered what it felt like to hold Kenzo Sheppard. A manipulation that had certainly worked. He’d known Sheppard’s intention and respected it. O’Neill knew he would have done that and a lot worse to protect his own son. He stood and cleared his throat. “I’ll handle the final conversation with Dr. Kusanagi alone.”
“Are you sure?” Jackson asked with a raised eyebrow.
“They find the very smell of us offensive, Daniel,” Jack said wearily. “I can only assume they would appreciate less of that for this final conversation. I’m going to have a lot of people to answer to when we return to Earth, and I’d really like to be able to tell them that we might, in the future, have a chance of regaining what we lost with Kusanagi and her people.” He rubbed his head. “I’m going to go take a shower and stand in that weird sanitation stream thing until I stop stinking of Earth, whatever that means.”
Daniel grinned. “Good idea.”
– – – –
John honestly loved to fuck. Thankfully, he’d had the good fortune to mate with not one but two people who loved as much as he did. The first time he’d had Miko—it had kind of been a surprise. At least, it had been a surprise to him. She’d shown up at his door one night, looked him over, and told him she desperately needed a good, long fuck. He’d been sort of seeing McKay who’d also been dating Katie Brown, so he hadn’t seen any reason whatsoever to say no.
Carrying a baby had changed her body—her hips were a bit wider now and her breasts larger. He loved the way her red scales glinted in the light coming from the bathroom as Miko rocked down on his cock; the way her nipples were tight and wet with the faintest glisten of breast milk. He wanted to lick them clean, but he stayed where he was, sprawled on his back just like she wanted.
Miko braced her hands on his chest, and John caught her hips to steady her as she shuddered. “John.”
“You’re gorgeous,” John murmured. “I want…” He wanted to breed her again which was really not something he should be considering at all, but it had been tumbling around in the back of his mind since Kenzo’s wings had finally dropped and unfurled for the first time just a month before. “I love you.”
She grinned. “That’s not what you were thinking.”
He laughed. “I do love you.” John rolled his hips just slightly, and Miko shuddered, her back arching beautifully. Smoke drifted on her skin, and John groaned. “I was just…I want another baby with you.”
“You want to breed me,” Miko murmured. “Don’t make it pretty, John. Tell me the truth.”
“I want to fuck you—hard, fill you with my cum,” John admitted roughly. “With my get.”
Her nails scraped against his skin as she trembled and came. “Yes, god, yes, John. I’ll stop drinking the tea tomorrow.”
John groaned, rolled them over and pinned her to the bed. Miko wrapped her arms and legs around him even as he started to move, her claws broke the skin on his shoulders, but he was past caring. He knew intellectually it wouldn’t happen immediately—the Athosian tea was very effective for their species no matter the gender of the carrier—but just the knowledge that she wanted it as much as he did was overwhelming. His wings opened as he lifted her off the mattress and slid to his knees.
Miko trembled and shuddered through another organism as she was enveloped by his wings. He came them, lost in the pleasure of her tight cunt.
“I’ll never get enough,” he admitted hoarsely against her neck.
She ran fingers through his damp hair. “It’s a good thing you had the good sense to pick two mates then.”
John laughed and caught her mouth in a soft kiss as he stretched his wings out. “It is.”
“Thank fuck for high ceilings,” McKay said dryly as leaned in the doorway of the bedroom. “The Ancients preoccupation with taking up too much space certainly makes things easier around here.”
John let his wings slide back into his back as he lowered Miko to the bed and reluctantly pulled free of her. “I kind of figured they were a little leery of confinement actually, maybe even the prison of their own bodies became too much for them in the end.” He dropped down onto the bed as Rodney shed his clothes and dropped them in a basket near the bathroom. “Kenzo?”
“Two stories and three trips up and down the corridor,” Rodney said and slid into the bed. “Maybe we shouldn’t let him have solid food at night.”
“It’s important that we let him lead on that front,” Miko said and stretched. “He has the teeth for it and the digestive process to handle it as well.” She yawned. “Even if he does go to sleep easier if I breastfeed him.”
“We should sleep. We only have a few hours before O’Neill comes back to the city.”
– – – –
Jack wondered if the Tatsu were aware of the Asgard’s long-term ambitions and if he should warn them that the little grey guys wanted to sort of clone them. He knew Thor certainly wouldn’t engage in that kind of activity without permission, so he resolved to mind his own business when it came to the potential Tatsu/Asgard merger. He knew that the powers that be on Earth would be horrified and ultimately even more eager to have a relationship with the Tatsu as a result.
He’d been seated in the conference room with just a single guard since his arrival. He didn’t know the young man—a former Athosian as far as Jack could tell. The doors to the conference opened suddenly, and Kusanagi entered with McKay. Jack let himself glance only briefly at the other man’s stomach. It was swollen gently, and perhaps if he hadn’t known that the scientist was pregnant, he might have assumed that he’d just been indulging a bit too much at dinner.
“Is congratulations in order?” Jack questioned and waved a hand. “I don’t want to be more offensive than I already am.”
McKay snorted and put a tablet down on the table. “It’s fine—I’m not pregnant by accident, O’Neill, so thank you.” He patted his stomach. “A girl.”
“Here’s hoping she doesn’t have your attitude,” Jack said and grinned when McKay groaned.
“We can all hope as much,” John said as he entered with his son.
The baby had a ball of blue fire in his hand, which was industriously chewing on.
“He’s…huh…making fire already?”
“No, it’s Miko’s,” John said easily. “He prefers to her fire to mine when it comes to teething. But that could be entirely because he tends to eat my fire so hers last longer.” He sat down at the table with them. “We took note that the Korolev left orbit early this morning.”
“I sent them home,” Jack said. “We have been instructed by the Asgard not to use a ship or a gate to return to Pegasus without your explicit permission. Thor will be monitoring that situation personally.” He glanced at Kenzo briefly before focusing on Kusanagi. “I realize we don’t deserve any sort of consideration from you or your people, but it would be a relief to know that I’ll be able to contact you in the future.”
“What do you propose?” Miko questioned. “I’m not willing to tell you where we are going after we leave this system, O’Neill. It’s not about whether or not we trust you specifically.”
“I know. Carter seems to think that your cloaking technology is enough to hide you from the Wraith. Is that true?”
“How would you feel about leaving a cloaked satellite of some sort in orbit around this planet? Something we could use to leave a message for you? If not that, would you be willing to set up a planet here in Pegasus we could use for meetings in the future with Thor’s oversight?”
“Thor will know where we are,” Miko said. “We’ll make it clear to him that we’ll accept communication from you, and you only, through the Asgard. We’ll consider a beta site for meetings in the future and will let him know when and if that is possible. The political mess you’re going back to on Earth concerns me. We’ve all learned the hard way that politicians can’t be trusted.”
“I want to make promises, but you know they’d be empty,” Jack said neutrally. “I want to believe that…I just want to believe that one day you can count Earth as an ally in your fight against the Wraith. I don’t want to leave you and your very small population alone here in Pegasus in a war.”
“Because of Earth,” Rodney interjected. “To protect Earth.”
“Not just,” Jack protested and sighed. “Never just Earth again, McKay. Ultimately, I feel responsible for all of you in a way I never expected, and I want to protect you. I want to protect your children.” He focused on Kenzo. “There are children all over this galaxy who go to sleep every night wondering if tomorrow will be the day the Wraith comes to kill them. I don’t think I’ll ever…I can’t live with that and do nothing.” He turned to John. “You understand that, right?”
“I do,” John murmured.
Miko cleared her throat. “Very well, O’Neill, we will remain receptive to your visits in the future. Let the IOA and President Hayes know that no other ambassador from Earth will be accepted. I can’t promise we won’t utterly destroy the next ship from Earth we see so keep your people at home.” She paused. “And leave Carter at home the next time you come to Pegasus. I don’t like the way she looks at us—as if we’re specimens in a lab. I understand her mindset, but it’s offensive and discomforting all the same.”
“O’Ne,” Kenzo said and offered his ball of fire to Jack.
John laughed and took it. “He can’t play with fire, baby.”
Kenzo huffed. “Da.” He took the fire back and shoved it in his mouth with a pout.
“That kid is far too cute and smart for all of your sakes,” Jack said and checked his watch. “Thor will be ready to depart shortly. I’ll do my best to send him all the information I have as I get it regarding declassification. Richard Woolsey is preparing an information packet to present to the United Nations regarding what was done to you. I expect he’ll dedicate his life to getting everyone he can prosecuted in the international court.”
“The way this matter is resolved on Earth certainly bear weight in any discussions we allow in the future,” Miko said and stood.
Jack took that as his cue and stood as well. “One thing?”
“Sure.” Miko quirked an eyebrow.
“If you aren’t McKay’s baby-daddy, who is?” Jack asked and smiled when she laughed.
“I am,” John said with a smug grin.
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Mind your own business, O’Neill.”
– – – –
John caught the edge of the very top of the central spire as landed and focused on the Asgard ship just off their starboard side. He settled there and activated his radio but said nothing until the Beowulf disappeared into hyperspace. “Launch the scanners and drop the communication buoy for Thor to find later.”
“Done,” McKay replied. “Radek and Ronon are using handheld scanners to check all the areas that the people from the SGC were allowed just in case they dropped something to use to track us. I wouldn’t put it past Carter or Ellis to do something like that on orders without discussing it with O’Neill. We’ll be ready to leave orbit as soon as they’re done. The sector is clear, and Miko wants you in the chair to prep for the trip.”
“I’ll be there shortly.” He focused on their old world—it looked beautiful and peaceful from space. It was difficult to reconcile that thought will all the trauma and grief they’d suffered on the world they were leaving behind.
He wasn’t going to miss it—not even the giant whales could make up for the rest of the stupid shit the planet had to offer. “We won’t be here when the whales search for shelter the next time.”
Rodney sighed over the radio. “We’ll…I’ll figure out something. Stop hanging out on top of the city like a gargoyle.”
John grinned and let go of the spire as he stepped off into the air. He dropped fast, the rush was insane but so was the moment he opened his wings and caught an updraft. He landed on a pier not far from the transporter and headed for the chair room. They had a long trip ahead of them.
Your stories are so addictive and sooooo good! I don’t know where your ideas come from but I hope they never stop coming 🙏. Thank you for this wonderfully interesting story.
This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.
This is lovely, thank you for sharing!
I so loved this when you originally posted it. I’m happy to see it again. Though I miss the adorable pictures of Kenzo and his scales. I can’t remember if those were on the actual story or just in MHQ though.
It was on MHQ, I believe.
Wow. Great worldbuilding, and a great idea. It was a lovely read, thank you! I appreciated the way you write about the emotions coming with it – the struggle to accept the otherness, those that could not, but also the comfort another culture gave them by accepting their decision to take their lives.
Just – lovely story, lovely – if gruesome premise. The accounts of what Beckett was considered guilt of is strong stuff to read and contemplate.
Thank you for sharing your work!
I am in awe of the ideas you come up with and the worlds you build around them.
I love John having wings and the baby sounds adorable.
Some people on Earth are not good at seeing other people’s/cultures priorities and, unfortunately, a lot of them end up in positions of power. Having illegally experimented on John and caused so much suffering and death, penitence should abound, but greed, self-interest and a total lack of repentance seem to be well represented on the IOA.
Thank you for posting this and allowing us to enjoy it. Which I very much do ( and did on RT).
I’ve been listening to your podcasts this morning. I’m still in 2015 since I started with the oldest one I could find. It’s lovely to hear your voice. You talked about Ladyhawke earlier. Just thinking about that final scene gets me every time. A truly powerful romance.
Thank you for sharing with us.
I adore your works and you may claim this is rough, but I think it’s beautiful and very finished as is. It’s so, so amazing!
Wow! So fucking awesome and amazing! I was utterly spellbound from the word go. Thank you.
Loved this so much!! You’ve given me a new pairing to enjoy as well,
I honestly never considered adding in Miko and I find that I really enjoyed it. But then I enjoy everything that you write. Thank you for sharing!
Wonderful, amazing story … Thank you very much!
What we get is quite lovely. This story is thought-provoking, as are so many of yours. Thank You!
Splendid, absolutely splendid. Thank you so much
Dear Lord! (Ba’al?)
I love your brain!
This was amazing. I hope you will continue it because I’m in awe. You make a story so real you feel like your there living it with the characters. Great work.
Excellent concept! I can easily see the different attitudes and prejudices and appreciated how you blended them into a cohesive story. It’s interesting how their culture developed so quickly, between flights, alpha, nests, etc. Truly fascinating story.
Six months later and I was just as enthralled as the firstvtime I read it.
Thank you. I loved this as a rough trade entry, still love it here! Great world building, as you do so well. Love John and Rodney and absolutely adore Milk, so glad they are a triad. Thank you again for letting us enjoy your world.
I have been checking everyday for new stories and rereading old ones. I was ecstatic when I found this! And now I am just have no words! This is an amazing story!
I’m so happy that you’ve posted this, Keira! I love this story and if I lived in this ‘verse I’d be petitioning to join the Tatsu myself!
I just love this story and the whole idea of the Tatsu. Of course, Dragons. You can’t go wrong with dragons. 😉
fuck yeah, this fucking rocks. I remember the first story too, and it also kicked ass. gracias for sharing it!
the attitude of the Tatsu toward Earth warms the cockles of my shriveled black heart, so it does. *bows*
of course, it’s also quite possible this is the only story and my brain is just fried again, that happens. either way, booyah!
There is only the one story. lol
I adore this with the heat of a thousand fiery suns. Thank you.
I loved this story when it was first posted, and am thrilled to be able to read it again. And while I could certainly repeat the multiple, well deserved comments regarding your imagination and remarkable world building, there is something else that impressed me even more in this story.
My favorite part was Radek expressing his opinion on what should be done with the Russian crewed ship, and McKay’s horror that Radek had allowed himself to get knocked up. Not because it made Rafek ruthless and bloodthirsty in defense of the Nest, but because they would both be on parental leave at the same time, and there would be no one on duty to save their asses from stupidity. The attention you pay to even the most minor character (not that Radek is minor) and the way you enfuse each one with life and let them add richness to the story is a hallmark of your work in general and especially well done in this piece. Just knowing Chuck was gone and an Athosian now was on gate duty, or that the sire of Teyla’s baby chose to end his own suffering with Teyla’s support in the tradition of their people added so much to the overall experience. Tiny details of world building displayed in so few words via individuals that are not treated as filler or throwaway characters really makes them, and the story as a whole, come to life.
Thank you for allowing us to revisit and experience this version of Atlantis again in all its vivid glory.
I was just thinking about this story last week. And of course couldn’t remember where I read it. Thank you so much for reposting it. I loved it when you first posted it and I love it now.
huh, I vortexed the first half of what I was gonna say, lol!
story is amazeballs! don’t bug me none if it’s rough — it’s got all the important bits! sometimes they just end.
you are in no way obliged to do more, ever, than pleases you. for me I am happy you put all these up for us to read and enjoy. other’n that, my quest is to become a better reader and not an arsehole. *doffs his hat*
While what was done to the people in Pegasus was monstrous, it makes for an utterly fascinating scenario. As always, you’ve handled it beautifully. I loved this; thank you.
Wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!
Holy shit. That was beautiful. Just absolutely gorgeous. I am giddy after reading this. I love it so much. You’ve created such a fascinating world here and I’m eager to hear more about it. Just what you’ve hinted at is making my mind race.
You always have so much going on at once, not including all the new stuff you come up with. It’s always a treat when you post but I admit I anticipate some things more than others. (Though that can change by the day, everything is so great.) I think this just went to the top of my list. Number 1 would love to see more.
I loved this! I can’t help picturing the kid and Jack face when he saw them fly! Awesome read as always
Thank you for sharing this M’Lady. It was a favourite from when I first read it and I’m so happy to read it again. So much so that I’ve stayed up to 1.43am and I’ve got to be up at 6.30 to get to Uni – I’m back to working on Campus at the moment. It was worth every waking moment because your writing and story-telling is just awesome! Hugs, Hxx
Fascinating, both idea and execution. Thank you for this.
What a treasure to enjoy in such a difficult time! KUDOS
Holy fuck, that’s amazing.
Such an amazing story. I loved it when I first read it, and it’s truly a delight to read again. Thank you for sharing it here.
Amazing. Thank you for sharing
This is fabulous! I am so glad to have a chance to read it again because the world-building you do and the depth you give the horror of their change along with the current joys is just amazing.
Thanks for sharing it with us.
This was so good and I loved everything about it. I’ve recently made myself read stories by other authors in other fandoms as I’ve been ignoring other sources of reading material and reading here, RT and the works of authors on those sites. And while I have discovered some previously unread gems, there really are none that reach the level of fabulousness that are your stories. The last few nights I’ve had to actually talk myself out of opening your website to get my fix. Now that I’ve gone ahead and read this though I’ve admitted I will be re-reading works on your site and am already looking forward to some quality time with Rodney and John or …. maybe I’ll start with some Harry/Draco/Hermione … Hmmm, so much to read (again), so little time. Thanks for sharing Kira.
Amazing story. Hooked me from the 1st paragraph. Thanks for sharing.
This was so friggin’ awesome. Thank you. I kept thinking of so many other dragon/human universes that this fits so well into. The visuals were wonderful. Earth humans have so many problems I just love it when a group of people just walk away from the planet. May you always be blessed with incredible ideas and storylines to share.
Yay, another chance to read this.
A lovely flow to the story giving history & culture without getting bogged down in the nitty gritty.
Thanks so much for sharing another amazing world.
As usual, you deliver a wonderful and entertaining story. Will be on the lookout for whatever flight of fancy you decide to write next.
I had sort of forgotten this story, I have no idea how I could since I like it so much. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
I absolutely adore this story. Thank you for sharing it!
I enjoyed reading this story-all your stories if I am honest. You have a gift for finding the voice and thoughts of a character. Great work, thank you for posting.
Love this, I think you are my favorite author in about any fandom you write in. Thank you for posting this gem.
This was utterly lovely, of course, and I was so delighted to see it on wild hare. I’m besotted by the concept of the tatsu and as always every Sheppard you write carves a forever-home in my heart. Kenzo is adorable and the way the narrative frames around past tragedy and future hope really jerked at my heart-strings.
I adore you so much! Thank you for posting this. I was in love with it when it was posted to Rough Trade. My brain enjoyed wandering down the What If Wires after reading it. Hours and hours of entertainment!
This is absolutely amazing! I love the world and culture building of the Tatsu. Thank you so much for sharing!!
This story is so good. I absolutely love all of your work.
Still fucking amazing…
Can someone else play in this sandbox? While making it clear that the origin story is yours, and not a real continuation…
Thank you kindly.
I love this story, so compelling!
This was the most amazing story. I could never think it up and I’m so extremely happy that I was able to read this and can’t wait to read it again. I loved it so much. I want to say so much, but I have too much to say. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!
this is brilliant. I will cherish the image of Miko throwing fireballs at Ellis forever. also, O’Neill holding baby Kenzo and knowing he was being manipulated and helpless to do anything about it bc…baby dragon. too cute. can’t. lol!
thanks for a great read!
I can read this over and over. It’s so very well done. It would be a great movie.
Absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing.
Amazing story and believable based on Bennett’s previous history.
I absolutely fucking adore the result of the genetic combo in this story. I could also see in perfect mental detail how hundreds of people suffered horribly before dying, & am not even a teensy bit shocked at the idea of IOA countries’ complicity in human experimentation.
Thank you for the fantastic read.
This is a fantastic story!
I like the premise, as gruesome as it is. I hope they didn’t give Beckett a quick death – he didn’t deserve it. My brain wants to contemplate putting him in an EVA suit, complete with plenty of oxygen, then kick him out the back of a jumper in a quickly-decaying orbit around a gas giant, letting him anticipate his death as a fiery meteor! (But then I can sometimes be a truly vengeful person!)
Carter is so arrogant – it’s “selfish” of the Tatsu to want to keep the city – they should give it to Earth (who, as we all know, will operate it strictly under altruistic principles for the good of all) instead. Sheesh!
The meeting on Midway was inspired – Woolsey truly believing he was negotiating in good faith and not understanding why John wouldn’t negotiate back, Shen practically licking her chops over the prospect of Kenzo in a laboratory (she’d probably be the first to volunteer to pick up a scalpel!), and Daniel being the only one who, on a gut level, really understood (as well as an outsider could) the perspective of the Tatsu on any relationship with Earth going forward.
John’s momentary panic over his leather coat being blown up was cute!
The family feels between John and Miko and Rodney and Kenzo (and approaching baby Nova) were beautiful! *warm fuzzies abound*. This includes the flying, too!
Lastly, Miko as the Primus is perfect! The calm, take-no-prisoners, give no quarter, iron fist screw the velvet glove implacability make her the best leader possible for the Tatsu.
Love this more every time I read it!