It took not hearing from the Lanteans for several weeks and their Ring refusing every attempt to contact them for Ladon to fully realize just how hard he’d been making long-term plans with the City of the Ancestors in mind. Not just with the City, at that, but also with the Lanteans and all their shortcomings and strengths.
He shouldn’t have. Nothing was ever permanent, no people was ever permanent, regardless of how untiringly individual peoples tried to make themselves so. Not in this galaxy. Everyone knew it, every child knew it, but Ladon had watched Sheppard walk free time upon time and had unintentionally let himself count on a measure of permanence all the same.
Several careful negotiations and far too many days later he knew everything about the Lanteans’ fate the Athosians knew, or at least – since Halling was no longer as trusting as he had been once upon a time – everything the Athosians had seen fit to share. It wasn’t much, and Ladon left the meeting deeply dissatisfied.
Katta from the Satedan settlement on Rranagus yielded even less. Worse, despite her reticent demeanor Ladon left with the impression that he himself had known more about the situation even before consulting the Athosians. It did not speak for her relationship with Dex and did very little to recommend her and hers to Ladon as worthy allies.
Weeks of trials and errors revealed that it was still possible to dial and connect with the Ring on Atlantis with the right calibrations. To open it and see if anything was left on the other side, Ladon’s calculations showed that the dialing party would need a power source not unlike a small nuclear bomb. Energy that, even and especially if wielded safely, would be sorely needed for the Coalition’s defense.
For all intents and purposes, the Lanteans were lost to them.
There had once been a different set of plans, of course, as well as contingency plans that had remained the preferable courses of action in the eyes of Ladon’s advisors even after their inquisition ending in acquittal. If no sudden ship came, if no message was sent, he supposed he’d be prepared – was prepared – to adjust and implement them. He really didn’t want to. The Lanteans were useful, and whenever they weren’t actively sabotaging or fighting each other Ladon could see their alliances’ potential – it was vast, the future brighter than Kolya or Cowen had ever been capable of dreaming– but it seemed it was not to be, like so many things.
Ladon was bemused to find himself in a frame of mind where he might have organized a rescue mission, had he but had the intel and the resources necessary to stage one such. He wondered what it said about him, and if he ought to mention it to anyone other than Dahlia, and whether or not any of the Lanteans or Dex or Emmagan would appreciate the inclination should he ever see them again and be intoxicated – no, better, fake being intoxicated – enough to tell them.
He was careful never to say any such thing to Emmagan’s man, lest he actually risk everything for a father’s sentimentality.
Over the course of the next months, other peoples began looking toward Genia as they hadn’t since Kolya’s failed invasion. Their comings and goings renewed the home world’s repute and prosperity, feeding into Ladon’s people’s pride. It was gratifying to witness the slide back into the role Genia should always have taken in terms of trade, defense, and galaxy-wide diplomacy – witnessing the Genii doing it better, Ladon thought viciously, than they had ever done before.
Only Ladon and perhaps the Athosian council had any concept of what else might have been possible, had only the City of the Ancestors not remained resolutely silent.
On a bright winter’s morning Ladon stood witness as a man who could have been far lesser pledged himself to Dahlia. The day before, a warrior force drawn from five different planets had successfully protected the people of Kerdan.
The tiny corner of his mind that was still waiting for a response to half-hearted knocking attempts to the Lantean Ring was shrinking with every moon that passed.
Life went on.