Characters: Ancient!John Sheppard, Elizabeth Weir, Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson
Pairings: John/Rodney, Sam/Jack
Summary: Atlantis sent the letters; this is the SGC's reaction to them
Series: drabble #13 of ??? in the Ancient!John 'verse. [End of Season One] Part of Locality.
Notes: I wrote the entirety of this drabble after a grueling 15 mile hike with my dad. On my brother's computer, on a strange word processing system, while trying to work on the next installment in this 'verse. As a result, it may make less sense then usual.This started out with the intention of being Daniel meets Iohannes with all the requisite fanboy squeeing, but then I realized I needed background, and, well, this happened instead.
The Sword Was Given
An Ancient!John Drabble
"Datos, ne quisquam seruiat, enses."
The sword was given for this, that none need live a slave.
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (Lucan) Pharsalia
12 July, 2005 - Stargate Command, Terra, Avalon
"What do you mean it's from Atlantis?" General O'Neill asks about an hour after they'd received an unexpected – and impossibly brief – off-world activation.
"I mean, Sir," Sam insists, "that the Atlantis Expedition managed to dial-in to our gate and establish a wormhole for one point three seconds, during which they were able to send us a transmission."
Daniel pushes his glasses up his noses as he frowns at the paper in his hands. "One point three seconds? That's barely long enough to send an IDC. Are we sure it was them?"
"That's just it. They didn't send an IDC. Instead, they sent a databurst encoded with a high-compression algorithm that Doctor McKay helped develop for the Air Force a few years back. It's taken me until to unspool it and go through what's there, but there can be no doubt who it's from."
"And just what is there?"
"Specifications of the city – it appears that the address we found was for The Lost City of the Ancients after all, and not another outpost, - mission reports, tactical assessments, translated documents from the Ancient database they discovered, and several hours of video messages. This one was earmarked for you, Sir."
"Have you watched it yet?"
Sam shakes her head. "No. Like I said, it was earmarked for you, and they managed to send several dozen terabytes of information. I've barely had time to figure out what all is there, let alone what's on it."
"Well, let's see what Atlantis has to say."
Sam hits the lights before taking her seat at the conference table. Only once Daniel's flipped his notebook open to a fresh page does she press play.
The image of Doctor Elizabeth Weir immediately appears on the screen. Sam spent three months under Doctor Weir's command, most of it while the General – then Colonel – was in stasis, and so it's hard not to notice the new lines that have formed on her face. Even before she starts speaking, one gets the impression that, for all the discoveries the Atlantis Expedition may be making in the Pegasus galaxy; it's been a hard eleven months for them.
(Just a week shy of a year, actually. It's not been an easy year for Earth either, but even with the Battle of Dakara just fifteen days gone, Sam's already starting to remember what it is to relax in a way she has not since long before she joined the SGC.)
"Greetings to everyone on Earth from the Pegasus galaxy," the recording begins. "This is Doctor Elizabeth Weir and it is vital that this message be delivered to General Jack O'Neill or the highest ranking officer available as soon as possible."
Doctor Weir waits a moment, as if to allow whoever may be watching to get the General, and then continues.
"First of all, my apologies for not attempting to contact Earth sooner. As you well know, the power requirements for dialling between galaxies is enormous and the ZPMs we found in the city upon our arrival were all but depleted from the strain of holding back the ocean. We have attempted to track down other, charged, ZPMs in this galaxy or find a way to recharge the ones that we already have, but we have been largely unsuccessful in both these endeavours, for reasons that I will get to in the course of this briefing. But, for the moment, allow me to give you a brief overview of the situation we now find ourselves in.
"Shortly after arriving on Atlantis, we discovered that we were under the ocean. The city had been sunk to the bottom of the ocean by the Ancients during a war with an enemy known as the Wraith. A shield had been holding back the water for the last ten thousand years, but the constant strain had severely depleted the city's energy reserves and our arrival only served to deplete them still further. It appeared as if we would have to abandon Atlantis only moments after arriving in order to save ourselves.
"But then," Doctor Weir's eyes brighten, "a miracle happened: the city rose to surface, seemingly of its own accord. It was then we discovered that we were not alone."
"The Ancients," Daniel breathes, at the same moment that Weir continues-
"A single Ancient had remained on the city after the other abandoned it. I'm still not entirely certain if the others knew he remained behind... but he has a very singular connection to the city, and it is my sincere belief that he would sooner die than allow Atlantis or anyone on her to come to harm.
"This Ancient – we've taken to calling him John Sheppard – was severely injured when we found him, so it was some time before he was well enough to provide us with any information about the city.
"Because of this, we Colonel Sumner felt it was appropriate to continue with our original plan of finding a suitable planet in the Pegasus galaxy to retreat to should Atlantis yet fail. He and his team were scouting out a planet known as Athos when he, Sergeant Bates, and several members of the local population were swept up in a Wraith culling."
Weir pauses, piercing her lips and looking downwards. There's something... uncertain in her eyes when she looks back into the camera. Not ambiguous uncertain, but unnameable uncertain. If pressed, Sam might call it a mixture between sorrow and steadfast resolve. "The Wraith are a terrible enemy. Though we are not certain how – and, if Major Sheppard knows the details, he's chosen not to share them – human DNA was allowed to intermingle with an insect indigenous to this galaxy which feeds by draining its prey of its life-force. The end result was the Wraith, a technologically advanced humanoid race which feeds upon the human populations of this galaxy."
"Holy Hannah," Sam says. It's by far the most work-appropriate response to this news said by anyone in the briefing room.
"The Ancients," the recording of Weir continues, "fought them for several generations, but eventually saw no recourse but to retreat back through the Stargate to Earth. In the millennia since, the Wraith have largely behaved liked farmers in this galaxy. However, their feeding ground can only support so many at a time, so large portions of the Wraith hibernate between individual cullings, so as to support the maximum possible.
"However," she says, sounding both proud and resigned, "when Major Sheppard discovered that Colonel Sumner and the others had been taken, he attempted a rescue. His reasons are further detailed in his report, but the primary source of his concern was that the Wraith would somehow determine from those they'd taken that Atlantis had risen and, through it, find a way to Earth and a newer, richer feeding ground.
"While Major Sheppard was able to rescue most of the Athosians as well as Sergeant Bates, it was too late for him to save Colonel Sumner – or to prevent the Wraith from inferring the presence of a human race in this galaxy with the potential to be a formidable enemy where none had been before. As a result, every Wraith in the galaxy has woken...
"They've spent the last several months gathering strength. The cullings are growing in both frequency and intensity. But now the deep space sensors show that three of their great hive ships are on the way to Atlantis. Projections estimate they shall be here within three weeks.
"Without any means to power the Atlantis' shields or its defensive weaponry, it is likely that we will not be able to hold the city for long. It is our intention to destroy the city if necessary.
"What I ask is this: if you have any means of doing so, send reinforcements immediately. However, if you have been unsuccessful in your attempts to find a ZPM as well, do not attempt a rescue. The danger of a ship being intercepted by the Wraith is too high and the risk to Earth should they do so too great. We plan to take the control crystal that allows for travel between galaxies with us, should we need to evacuate, so we will attempt to contact you if the chance ever arises. But, in all frankness, this is likely to be the last time we will be able to make contact.
"We have done our best to make the most of a terrible situation. Even after all this time, I continue to be surprised by the heroism and bravery of the men and women of this Expedition. Their resourcefulness has staggered me. And, while our future is uncertain, you should know that, should we not return, it will not have been through the fault of any member of this Expedition.
"In addition to the mission summaries and tactical assessments, we plan to include as much of the Ancient database as we are able in this databurst, as well as personal messages from most of the Expedition for their families should we not return.
"This is Weir, signing off."
The screen goes dark.
The briefing room remains silent for a long moment. Then-
"An Ancient, Jack," Daniel says, practically bubbling over with excitement. "They found a real, live Ancient. Imagine the secrets of the universe he could tell us."
"He's not going to be telling anyone much of anything unless we can find a way to stop the armada heading their way," is the General's reply. He leans forward in his seat and braces his elbows on the conference table. "Anyone got any ideas about how might go about doing that? Carter?"
Sam shakes her head. Short of finding a ZPM and managing to get it to Pegasus in time, she really doesn't know what options they have.
"Start thinking. You've got three weeks to come up with something."
"Yes sir," she says, and immediately heads for her lab. It's going to be a long three weeks.