Blood pounding through his head. The static of the radio. Colonel Caldwell’s incredulous look. A leap of faith. “This is Lorne, requesting Genii assistance.”
It begins with a joint venture of good will, a way of the two foremost powers in Pegasus to show they care for the Coalition worlds beyond the sheer lending of their might. The marines know about digging, the Genii have actual farmers. As long as everyone strikes a balance between taking orders from the natives and giving advice, their forces gel better than either side could possibly have hoped for.
It still goes against every one of Evan’s instincts, though, to encounter Radim on planets like Marda and Rranagos and make nice.
He breathes a little easier with every time he goes to work the fields and nothing dreadful happened.
Evan was not part of the expedition when then-Major Sheppard killed sixty Genii in one go, but he recalls having met and commanded the two marines the invasion party killed when Radim helped Kolya take the city.
Five years later and there have still been no knives exchanged between the families on either side. Perhaps with the Mardai Elders to mediate, Radim hints, it will now happen… in a few years’ time.
The confirmation that Radim is keeping his word and is still holding Sora under house arrest has undeniably served to gain the Genii precious ground.
It sparks with a deceptively amicable debate over a set of rules that will allow the rowdy ones on both their sides to solve their differences through a spar.
The Mardai are gracious enough – voyeuristic enough, Evan thinks – to provide a space laid out with hand-woven mats to use as a rink.
Those fighting are watched with eagle eyes at first, but… Men and women enter match after match without anyone walking away from it unduly injured.
Evan has never been so grateful for Teyla and Ronon than the day he spars against Radim and wins.
Finishing up his sketch of the Rranagi village, Evan explains: “As long as what I draw is clearly ‘fantasy’, I get to show my nephews whatever I like.” The scattered Satedan dwellings add an intriguing element of steam-punk, he has found.
Only after the words leave his mouth does he realize that this is the first time he’s ever mentioned his family to Radim. “Not that you would show them what others could take for truth,” Radim says.
Evan bites back a curse. The Lanteans have only shared the bare bones of their conflict with the NID and the Trust, but apparently that has been enough. Of course Radim has experience with treasonous factions. Of course.
It takes up speed when Parrish at long last persuades Evan to do a joint study on Marda’s soil. Evan talks about his work to anyone who’ll listen – he’s excited, sue him! - and completely unintentionally moves Radim to pen an independent not-quite-Earth-style paper on the radiation Evan’s team has detected in several layers of rock.
He learns that he is the only one who looks forward to seeing their respective results rendered into the song form the Mardai prefer. It will take a while, but Dr. Corrigan and Kanaan will get it done.
The look of aversion on Radim’s face at the very thought of a nuclear poem is worthy of Dr. McKay.
Radim would jump at reverse-engineering the destructive glory that are the Lantean drones if given half a chance. No one among the Lantean-Tau’ri brass doubts it. But they also know that Radim has yet to order the use of a nuke against a human-occupied world, even one settled by Wraith-worshippers.
Evan is Air Force. If push comes to shove and a righteous goal comes around he knows he himself is capable of dropping a Big One.
Heading up the Lantean-provided security, Evan is thoroughly amazed when Radim solves the conflict on Aranet not by threatening a Genii invasion – though the plan for one such surely exists – but by calling in Teyla and Woolsey and the Elders of Rranagos and Marda and negotiating until well after dark.
It keeps up as Evan spends three weeks of leave on Earth. He reconnects with his nephews, is put to work by his sister, enjoys not having to be in charge. The paintings he’s brought find their way onto bedroom walls.
Eventually he finds himself on Midway Station and uses the now customary layover to catch up on his correspondence. His eyes catch on two brand new verses Kanaan has forwarded to him. Caught in a grid magnetic, evolved // ash compounded the pressure below.
Evan grins. Suddenly he is very much looking forward to his next shift on Marda.
Everything the Rranagi Satedans have to offer as reinforcements is already under Ronon’s command. None of the Tau’ri ships are in reach. Colonel Sheppard has had no dice hailing the Travellers, and – hell, Evan trusts Radim more than he ever did Larrin.
Sometimes, when the demands of his people and the rest of the galaxy wear him down, Radim envies Lorne for still having the luxury of being second-in-command.
Although when he thinks about all that the Lanteans had done and what they may still do… Being Sheppard’s second-in-command cannot be all that enviable, in truth.
Lorne’s face betrays nothing when Radim touches on this the next time they tend the crops on Marda, but Radim never thought it would. After all, he himself would never give voice to his own trials.
Something takes root when the Lantean shipments of medicine still go through despite the wide-spread intelligence that one of their ships has been all but destroyed in the conflict above Dsirna.
On a more personal note, it takes root when Ladon notes that the shipments to Genia aren’t giving special treatment to Dahlia. Lesser allies might have erred gravely by mistaking such a thing for an easy way to curry favor. To Ladon, it is a welcome sign that the Lanteans respect Dahlia – respect the strength that is in her and the strength she is expected to show in her position as Ladon’s sister.
And he knows just who signed off on it all.
While the Coalition expands, all Wraith not connected to Teyla Emmagan are fast being driven out.
Will they die out, Ladon wonders? Will attempts be made to get a young Queen on their side so that they can sustain their species? Will those belonging to Kolya’s former prisoner’s Hives simply attempt to live forever? These are questions the Genii debate heavily…
...but Ladon increasingly finds himself impatient to escape his own Council and get to the nearest radio station so he can talk the matter over with Lorne.
Something is nurtured when Ladon sets foot on Aranet. He could have sent someone else, except –
Ladon will deny that it’s relief he feels at seeing the Lantean representative already there, just as Major Lorne promised before journeying to the planet of his birth.
It’s been a whole lunar turn on Genia since the meeting was planned and Lorne may not be there, but Atlantis still appears to be where it’s supposed to and not vanished without a trace like once before.
It’s no secret that the geologist in Major Lorne would love to get a good look at the Genii caves.
“Maybe you will,” Ladon will tease whenever the matter comes up, carefully cataloging every tiny hint of frustration the Major’s composed face betrays.
Isn’t it odd, that for all that Ladon once kidnapped this man, held him and his subordinates hostage and faked their deaths, the words are no longer received as a threat or a profession of something altogether impossible?
Something prospers during the Rrnagani harvest festival.
The first harvest on Marda has fallen victim to the rains. Nobody felt like celebrating what little there was to rescue. Now, though...
Marda alone could not survive the recent had tragedy, but Rranagos is proof of how the Coalition will provide. Ladon’s festival attendance casts him as the symbol of what all can be accomplished with Genii assistance.
Watching Major Lorne squirm as Dahlia urges him to dance and pondering how long to best leave the man to suffer doesn't hurt.
The Lanteans have asked their partner worlds to let them take their ships to planets that were once but are no longer connected to the Ring system “to see what’s there.”
They’ve agreed to take a Mardai Elder representative to preach caution. Nobody wants an incident along the lines of the Lanteans’ worst mistakes.
Sheppard would never have thought to ask, once.
There were voices who wanted to forbid the launch. Most Coalition members, and Ladon as well, agree that as long as they leave behind Emmagan’s Wraith, it is still better to know than not if unexpected evils lurk on those lost worlds.
A voice crackling through the radio. “This is Radim. We are ready and coming through.”