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Of Reports and Rumors

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Field Report #113
Transcribed by Scout Rober
Edited by Officer Garrett and Wanderer Calix
Observed by Archivist Belen

The Lanteans were encountered on Belsa. Contact was not initiated. Observation protocols were followed.

The leader of the Lantean team was Lieutenant Edison, known to Genii Intelligence to carry the blood of the Ancestors. His team companions had changed since the Lantean exodus and return. One was a dark-skinned man with a scar on his right cheek and no hair, his rank was mentioned as Boss, his name was either not mentioned or was mistranslated as a common word, more observation is necessary to confirm. One was a pale man with brown hair, his rank was mentioned as Private, his name as Sully. One was a pale woman with black hair and large glasses, her rank was mentioned as Doctor, her name as Kusanagi. Of the four, Kusanagi was not armed as the others. She did not carry the projectile weapon called a 'P-90', rather she carried the small pistol called a 'sidearm' and a curve-bladed spear with black and gold shaft.

Doctor Kusanagi laid her weapon before her on the table, it was longer than the table. Lieutenant Edison spoke to the tavern keeper. He described their mission as one of announcement, they were there to announce the Lantean return to the galaxy. While he spoke a man stepped up to the table and demanded her weapon. She waved off her male companions and stared this man down. He demanded her weapon again and grabbed the pommel end of the shaft. She stood up, picked up her weapon, twisted it from his grasp, and proceeded to defend herself. The style of fighting was similar to older styles used by Travelers in close quarters on ship, there is a possibility of a common source indicating the fighting style would be Ancestral in origin. However, unlike the Travelers' modern style, this curve-bladed spear was not used to immediately dispatch. This weapon was mainly used to insult. The style included pommel strikes to the belly, shaft strikes to the legs, a blade-hook to the legs that threw her opponent to the ground, and an aborted stab to the throat. She accepted his surrender before he gave it and returned her weapon to the table.

When he grabbed for her weapon again she did not insult. She picked up her weapon and gave a warning. She would part with her weapon when he parted with his head. He laughed and tried to take it from her. A single cut to the center of his head felled him. She wiped the blood from the blade and returned her weapon to the table.

Lieutenant Edison apologized profusely but the tavern keeper offered the Lanteans a free round of beer and told them it was the offenders own fault for not accepting 'the lady's gracious offer of surrender.' The tavern keeper expressed interest in seeing the weapon's style against a Wraith.

Lieutenant Edison continued to express his displeasure at the death until the Lantean team returned through the Ring. Despite the weapon's versatility and Doctor Kusanagi's skill at wielding it, it is unlikely she will be seen again as a part of the team led by Lieutenant Edison.


“You killed a man!” Edison shouted.

“I offered him his surrender,” Miko insisted. “He refused. He tried to take what is rightfully mine. I defended myself.”

“She split his skull in half with that polearm of hers!”

Dr. Weir held back the sigh as the accusations were tossed back and forth in the middle of her gateroom. Private Sully and Sergeant 'Boss' Elliot tried to sneak off to the locker rooms but Elizabeth's glare kept them in place. They both slumped and sighed.

“It was a clean cut,” Miko said. “His life was mine when I accepted his surrender. When he refused to yield I collected what I was owed.”

Edison's jaw dropped. “My god,” he muttered.

Dr. Weir turned her attention to the other two members of Edison's team. “Do either of you have anything to add?” she asked.

“The barkeep gave us free drinks,” Elliot said. “Said the guy's death was his own fault for not accepting Dr. Kusanagi's offer of surrender.”

“He said he really wanted to see that weapon turned on a Wraith,” Sully said.

“It shouldn't have happened,” Edison said.

“No it shouldn't have,” Sully agreed. “But it did. And we got free beer out of it.”

Dr. Weir pinched the bridge of her nose. The Daedalus wasn't even a week gone and already she was back to dealing with situations like this. Though, if she were honest, she'd have expected Ronon or Sheppard in this situation, not someone like Miko. Not someone who'd been on Earth during their exile.

She took the opportunity to observe her surroundings. This exchange was happening in public, in full view in the middle of the gateroom, Atlantis's own village fire. Chuck sat at the gate controls, eyes wide as he watched Miko stand in place, her weapon held at rest. Other military personnel looked somewhat less flabbergasted, indeed they seemed almost impressed. On the balcony above Ronon seemed most impressed with a big grin on his face.

Teyla and Rodney entered, the both of them drawn to the commotion. Though, more likely Rodney was drawn to the commotion and Teyla had merely followed him. It was a pattern of behavior that had developed over the past three months among the Athosians, that Rodney would be drawn to an idea or event and someone would follow him. Half the time Rodney didn't even notice.

“Miko killed a man on Belsa,” Elizabeth said flatly.

Rodney pointed to Miko. “Her?” he asked. “She killed someone?” He paused. “Did he deserve it?”

“Dr. McKay!” Edison scolded.

“It is a valid question,” Teyla said. “Did he deserve it?”

“No,” Edison said at the same moment Miko said “Yes.”

“He insulted Dr. Kusanagi, told her she wasn't fit to carry a weapon like that, and demanded she hand it over to him,” Elliot said. “He grabbed it and tried to steal it from her. She offered to demonstrate her ownership of it. He laughed at her and told her to try. So she did.”

“'So she did',” Sully said with a faraway look of glee on his face. “Boss is selling her short. That fight was a thing of beauty.”

“You're not helping,” Edison said.

“No, it was,” Sully insisted. He clumsily mimed actions that might have represented beating an opponent with a stick. “She didn't set out to hurt him, just beat him. She was hitting him with the butt end of that spear, the flat end of the blade, hooked him down with the back end of the point, didn't cut him once. Once she had him on the ground she put the blade at his throat and accepted his surrender. It was all really... civilized.”

“And then after she let him up he decided to fuck that and grabbed her weapon again,” Elliot said. “Said something about not letting any 'barren Lantean whore' beat him like that.”

“I finished him in one strike,” Miko said. “It was a quick death befitting of one without honor.”

Dr. Weir could feel the room take a step back. All save one. She saw Ronon wasn't watching from the upper balcony anymore, he'd come down from his perch to the control floor overlooking the gate.

“I offered him his life and he threw it away,” Miko continued. “He chose death. He chose death at my hands, with my weapon.”

“You couldn't have just let him have--”

Miko cut Edison off with a glare. “You may toss away your guns at the slightest chance to run but I will not,” she snapped. “I gave up too much for the right to protect myself. I will not lose that right as well as my soul simply to satisfy your need for a clean bar.”

Edison looked insulted. The gateroom was silent.

“You are worthy of many husbands,” Ronon said with a grin. “A man on every world.”

Elizabeth gave Ronon a sidelong look. She wasn't sure if she should be annoyed he wasn't taking this seriously or confused by his statement. It sounded like it was supposed to be a compliment but the words didn't match at all.

Miko walked off, head held high and her naginata held in readiness and rest.

“Can I get a scientist who isn't armed?” Edison asked.

“Dr. Palos carries a bullwhip,” Elizabeth offered.

“If you want to fight Lorne I hear Dr. Parrish has been working on weaponizing mind control spores,” Rodney offered.

“Dr. Stephan has one of those walking sticks with the thin sword hidden inside it,” Ronon said.

Lieutenant Edison sighed. This galaxy wasn't safe. What was the SGC thinking, letting the scientists arm themselves?! How were the military supposed to do their jobs like this?

*****

Miko felt the presence at her door before she heard the chimes. She sat on the pallet that was her bed, honing the blade of her naginata. She thought the door open.

The man at her door was an oddity. He'd never come to her personally before. Ronon was a private person, one of Dr. McKay's friends. Yet there he stood at her threshold holding a weapon that looked somewhat like the anti-replicator weapons she'd seen at the SGC. He inclined his head in a bow and stepped inside.

“You may come in,” she said even though he was already inside. She kept her awareness open even as she continued to hone her blade.

“I meant it,” he said. “There are many men who would be honored to raise your children for you.”

She paused in her work and looked up at him. He knelt down on her floor so she wouldn't have to crane her head. “Including you,” she predicted.

“Only if asked,” he said.

She didn't answer. She didn't ask him.

“I've seen you in the gym with your practice weapon,” he said. “You've wielded it for a long time.”

“The naginata is the weapon of a proper woman,” Miko said. “Training with the naginata teaches grace, etiquette, discipline, strength. It is an important part of a girl's traditional education. Most women take with them the lessons learned but abandon the weapon when they complete their education. I did not.”

“Why not bring your weapon with you in the first place?”

Miko bowed her head. “I had never wielded a true naginata then,” she admitted. “Only the practice weapon you saw. My country has cast aside its martial ways and embraced an enforced peace. It is a crime to own a weapon like this.”

Ronon looked confused, even disturbed. “If training is expected why outlaw the weapon?” he asked.

“We made war upon the world,” Miko whispered. “We lost. With that loss we surrendered our soul.” She looked up at him, eyes hardening. “There is a world in the shadows of Japan,” she said, her voice daring him to comment. “They embrace the crime of marking their bodies, of dealing in weapons and using them. I... opened myself to horrible things by accepting their marks on my skin, commissioning this weapon for my defense.”

“You did what you had to do,” Ronon said. He picked up the anti-replicator weapon and held it across his lap. “I'm not supposed to have this either,” he admitted. “I used it to take this city back from the machines. I like this gun. It doesn't have any more power, I'll never be able to use it again, and even when charged it only works on machines. But it's my gun. It's been to battle with me. It'll always remind me of that battle, that enemy, that victory. Trophies keep a battle real, remind you it happened. Did you keep one of the man you killed?”

Miko shook her head. She didn't even have enough blood spatter left to rust her blade.

“Then it wasn't really a battle,” Ronon said. “Belsa remembers Sateda. They remember trophies. They'll know you didn't respect his death because he didn't respect his death and they'll take you seriously for it. Lieutenant Edison wants you off his team but if you want I'll talk to a few of the other leads, get you on one of their teams.”

Miko knew not to ask why. Still she wanted to. “Thank you,” she said.

Ronon nodded as he got up and left.

Miko sheathed her naginata's blade and hung the weapon on her wall in its disguise as 'artistic display of traditional weaponry'. She could do this.

Chapter Text

Field Report #118
Transcribed by Scout Rober
Edited by Officer Suna and Wanderer Dae
Observed by Archivist Vocan

The Lanteans were encountered on Manaria. Contact was not voluntarily initiated. Observation protocols were followed.

Several dozen Lanteans attended the quarterly markets on Manaria. This is a known phenomenon to Genii Intelligence as something the Lanteans call 'a good first offworld trip for the newcomers.' The lot of them were ordered by Colonel Sheppard to stay together. As is customary, the Lanteans ignored orders and separated into small groups scattered about the quarterly markets.

Doctor McKay was observed attempting to convince Colonel Sheppard to loan him the collateral to purchase jewelry for his husband and wife. This attempt was not successful. Colonel Sheppard instead focused Doctor McKay's attention on buying toys for his young son. Teyla Emmagan was against the practice as it would teach him material burdens were more important than emotional connections. Ronon Dex questioned the ability of an infant to 'play' and suggested getting the mother Elena a bottle of 'Zelenka's Decent'. The arguments were not observed after this point as they were considered unimportant.

Major Lorne was observed in the middle of four scientists. Three scientists appeared armed. The scientist identified as Doctor Kusanagi had a large-bladed spear strapped to her back. One was a short woman of unbound body type with facial hair, she had a sword sheathed across her back. Her rank was mentioned as Doctor, her name as Stewart. One was a short man of healthy body type with facial hair, he had a large ax tied to his back. His rank was mentioned as Doctor, his name as Stoveck. The scientist identified as Doctor Parrish carried no weapon and hung back in close conversation with Major Lorne. Doctor Stewart was observed using gemstones as currency. The Manarians responded by inflating their prices. Doctor Stewart appeared not to notice.

These scientists were followed for observation. Involuntary contact was initiated by Doctor Parrish who caught Wanderer Dae following them and bought her a frozen ranada fruit dipped in toba cream. She maintained the illusion of 'innocent child' by thanking him and continuing to follow them.

The incident at the blacksmith's forge began when Doctor Stewart and Doctor Stoveck began to insist the blacksmith was 'doing it wrong'. The incident escalated into statements of prowess and minor insults before a wager was introduced. The Lanteans would take over the forge for the day and turn the blacksmith's project into 'something decent'. If it met the blacksmith's standards he would be responsible for purchasing dinner and beer. If it did not the Lanteans would instead. The Lanteans began work. Their actions were not observed after this point as they were unchanging.

Six of the Lantean warriors were observed in a brewer's tent. Their conversation was difficult to follow but concerned the Lantean scientists and their unwillingness to go unarmed into 'a hostile galaxy'. The general consensus was that scientists should not have to defend themselves, that was what the warriors were for. Their discussion then shifted to the 'barbaric' nature of the scientist's chosen weapons and amazement that the scientists were skilled with them. From there the discussion drifted to different types of skills. The discussions were not observed after this point as they were considered unimportant.

Observations of the Satedan nomads are available in Field Report #119.

Observations of known Wraith worshipers are available in Field Reports #119 and 121.

The conclusion of the incident at the blacksmith's forge was not observed. The aftermath involved the blacksmith paying for dinner and beer while expressing an emotion at the Lanteans. The emotion observed could have been fear, amazement, disbelief, or a combination.

The Lanteans were observed leaving through the Ring after the market closed.


The day after the quarterly market was always a mess.

Shopkeepers counted their barter and their remaining stock, packing up what they could and haggling among the other shopkeepers for the rest. Trade continued among the traders though the Manarians themselves did not advertise its presence. This was the Day After market and only the sellers were expected to partake.

As the sun was setting in the north and the wagons were being loaded, as riding birds squawked and serisus hissed, as the horned pack oods were laden with barter and burdens, the Genii came upon the market grounds. Shopkeepers waved, nodded, acknowledged the newcomers. The Genii Empire was once vast and not all had forgotten their past allegiances.

Though some had.

Conversation was less than open as one of the merchants, a veiled man leading a single pack ood, loaded his barter onto the animal's furry back and began walking it toward the gate. The animal plodded along on its long legs, its three-toed hooves leaving prints in the dust, its horned head low with boredom. What made the man suspicious wasn't the large gems he'd brought for trade or the delicate silk veils adorning his too-pale skin. It was the whistling. He whistled an inattentive tune as he led his animal off to the waiting gate.

Wraith worshipers were an unfortunate reality of any quarterly market. Markets like these were rare neutral ground where the humans of this galaxy might trade for items that only the Wraith and their favored worshipers possessed. Gems, fine silks, certain rare spices, everyone knew only the Wraith produced such things. Only worshipers of the Wraith could acquire them in any appreciable quantity. And only on neutral ground would those worshipers trade away these treasures.

Until now.

Merchant Smitan looked at the small red gem in his hand. It was a strange square cut with sheared corners, the gem as clear and as pure as any hive gem. It might be cleaved to make several jewels or kept intact as some gaudy ornament. The Lanteans gave it to him.

As a gift.

They said it was for 'no hard feelings', whatever that meant. Smitan had lost the bet fair and square. The Lanteans had taken his scrap iron and turned it into something, completely disrupting his plans to toss it together into a shoddy blade that would shatter at the first hard use and try to pawn it off onto some known Wraith worshiper. Instead the Lanteans had pounded and pounded at the iron, singing to it like addled children, and turned it into this.

The blade before him was unadorned, no great design to betray the hands who made it. It was a simple dagger, short and wide, in need of a hilt to cover the bare tang. It had an edge but that edge was incomplete, in need of polishing.

“I thought Wraith gems were bigger.”

Merchant Smitan looked up, broken out of his reverie. “Sorry, I didn't see you there,” he said.

Ladon Radom stood before Smitan's forge. A half dozen men lurked nearby, plainclothes men dressed to seem as generic as possible. Unfortunately it did nothing to hide their weapons as they stood guard over their leader. Closer than that, two men were much less subtle as one carried a board with papers and a pen, another in full uniform with formal weaponry.

Radim looked pointedly at the gem then back at the merchant. Then his eyes fell to the dagger. “Not a common design,” he said.

“Horrible for throwing,” said Radim's formal guard.

“I heard the Lanteans were here,” said Radim's clerk.

“How did you...” Smitan trailed off. Of course the Genii would know. There were children everywhere at the quarterly markets.

Ladon smiled. “Tell me about them,” he said. “The ones who took over your forge. What were their names?” He picked up the simple blade and twirled it in his fingers. “What did they create?” From the look on his face he knew exactly what the Lanteans had made. But he didn't know its story.

Merchant Smitan was more than willing to tell.

*****

Archivist Linas Rainar sat in his small office surrounded by reports, papers, pages, most in the familiar square-spiky Genii script. Some pages were written in the fat rounded Lantean script, though in his own hand as he practiced his fluency. It also made for a decent cipher script as it was difficult to read the thin letters among all the fat ones.

The incident at the Manarian quarterly market was on his mind and detailed on most of his pages. Two Lanteans in particular were detailed here, both of them new to Atlantis. At least there was no record of them from before the Ancestors took and then lost the city. Doctor Stewart and Doctor Stoveck were both described as shorter than the other Lanteans, stockier, broader all around. Doctor Stewart was even described as having facial hair despite being female. Rainar had never heard of such a thing. How would a female grow facial hair? It was difficult for many males among the Genii to do so, although Dahlia Radim was rumored to have the beginnings of a faint beard.

The Lanteans tended toward certain body types, this was well known. Many of the Lanteans were tall, most were thin even to the point of infertility. Doctor McKay was different, but Doctor McKay was always different. He was their weapons specialist and there was rumor his son had hair growing on his feet.

These new Lanteans were a different type of different.

Rainar had a terrible idea. Papers flew as he searched for the correct reference.

Yes.

There it was.

The 'stunted people'.

He flipped through the translated pages of the Red Book and read the description there. It made sense.

He gathered pages and some scrap paper, jotting down notes as he went.

Later, a haggard Rainar entered the library. Apprentices read, copied, shelved, and studied books while Archivists watched. He found Archivist Vocan and waved the man over into a secluded alcove.

“What is it?” Vocan asked.

“I have a job for you,” Rainar said. “I need every scrap of information the Lanteans have, have revealed, or have forgotten to conceal about a topic.”

Vocan groaned.

“This is important,” Rainar snapped. He paused, holding up a finger. The rest of the library had grown quiet. They were being listened to. Rainar dragged Vocan out of the library into a side passage.

“How secret is this?” Vocan asked.

“I don't know yet,” Rainar admitted. “I haven't taken it to Chief Radim. I want to know more before I do. For that I need your help.”

“Why me?” Vocan asked.

“You were at the Lantean Storytelling,” Rainar said. “You observed the translation and editing of Wanderer Dae's report. This is relevant. I need to know about the people the Red Book refers to as 'dwarves'.”

“Short, bearded, they sing?” Vocan asked.

“Yes. I need everything. Their skills, their appearance, their prevalence, everything.”

“I'll do what I can,” Vocan said. “I'll need a translation of the Red Book, the Wanderer I had during the Storytelling, and did we finish cataloging the books we liberated from the City of the Ancestors during its abandonment?”

“Some,” Rainar said. “I believe Chief Scientist Radim will be interested in what we have so far. Nothing relevant yet but translations are ongoing.”

“Of course.”

“I want this information before I go to Chief Radim,” Rainar said.

“I'll get on it,” Vocan said. He bowed and headed back to the library.

Rainar turned on his heel and headed back to his office.

Dwarves. Earth had dragons, why not dwarves? The children of Aulë surely had skills the men of Earth did not. That must be why they sent dwarves once the city was retaken. But if dwarves were as real as dragons then what about the rest? What was it the Storytelling had said about the strength of hobbits?

Chapter Text

Field Report #137
Transcribed by Scout Rober
Edited by Officer Garrett and Wanderer Masey
Observed by Archivist Belen

The Lanteans were encountered on Inara. Contact was initiated in an uncontrolled single incident. Observation protocols were followed.

The leader of the Lantean team was Major Lorne, known to Genii Intelligence to carry the blood of the Ancestors. His team companions were Lieutenant Reed, Lieutenant Coughlin, and Doctor Parrish. All of these individuals are known to Genii Intelligence to be team companions of Major Lorne. All were armed with the standard Lantean projectile weapons.

The Lantean team took over a camp near a cave. Wanderer Masey had found the camp abandoned the day prior and cataloged its contents. Full catalog is available in Field Report #138.

Wanderer Masey was shooed away from the camp by Lieutenant Reed. Linguistics clarification required for proper translation of the word 'scram'.

The Lanteans spent most of their time taking advantage of the camp's comforts while Doctor Parrish explored the nearby cave. Samples were periodically removed. These samples appeared to be fungus, lichens, and small roots in glass vials of diverse sizes. Major Lorne was observed following Doctor Parrish into the cave on several occasions. This led to wagers between Lieutenant Reed and Lieutenant Coughlin over possible sexual exploits. Goods were observed changing hands.

The cave in question suffered a rock fall on the third day. Doctor Parrish was trapped inside. Frantic action took place outside the cave until radio contact could be established. It was inferred from the conversations outside the cave that Doctor Parrish was in one of the deeper tunnels and was not affected by the rock fall.

Ideas were considered aloud, including explosives, returning to the Ring, and moving the rocks manually. Lieutenant Reed took action by throwing smaller rocks at the rock fall. This did not appear to affect the situation. Lieutenant Coughlin was sent to return to the Ring to acquire an 'engineering team'. Major Lorne remarked aloud his disbelief with the situation as the cave had been 'cleared' by 'Leonard's Team'. Lieutenant Reed expressed his doubts as 'Leonard doesn't have a geologist'.

Several minutes spent standing around seemed to frustrate Major Lorne as he suddenly changed his stance. He appeared to mime the lifting of large objects, complete with movements, sounds, and effort, though his hands were empty and he was several strides from the rock fall. Lieutenant Reed informed him he would be unsuccessful because 'it doesn't work without the music' then returned to throwing rocks at the rock fall. Major Lorne then began using his voice to sing a wordless music. Lieutenant Reed joined in. It is assumed they were attempting the same music even though their voices did not match.

The rocks shifted. Lieutenant Reed and Major Lorne both stopped silent and looked afraid. They stayed silent until Lieutenant Coughlin returned with one of the flying 'Puddlejumper' ships. The rock fall was quickly moved.

Doctor Parrish was recovered uninjured. He was observed asking about 'Star Wars music'.


Field Report #138
Transcribed by Scout Rober
Edited by Officer Garrett and Wanderer Masey
Observed by Archivist Belen

The Lantean camp was encountered on Inara.

Several Lantean crates were stacked in the open, draped with the mottled green-brown-black net-cloth the Lanteans use to mark landmarks so as to increase their visibility. The crates were opened with ease.

The first crate contained tools for mining including folded shovels, picks, a small axe, and a lantern with two wicks. The wicks of the lantern were small bags that felt like soft cloth. There was no obvious fuel in the lantern. There were bottles stacked in the crate, metal bottles painted green the length of one forearm, but they appeared to be sealed.

The second crate contained brown Lantean ration packets. The Lantean script on the ration packets is assumed to detail the contents of the ration packets. Wanderer Masey organized these ration packets according to their script and repacked them into the crate. This created more empty space within the crate.

The third crate contained weapon equipment. As per standing instructions, one of the large gray blocks of explosive putty was removed for Genii use. Follow-up observations indicate the Lanteans did not notice its absence.

The fourth crate contained a small item, a thick bar with two bulbous ends. It weighed far more than it looked. A collection of wires around it implied this was some sort of electronic device likely requiring a large generator.

The fifth crate contained electronic equipment, including the plastic books with a single glass page and the entire Lantean alphabet in a seemingly random configuration. One of the plastic books was taken apart to find it full of wires, gold flakes, green plastic sheets, and a heavy plastic bar with gold nubs. Another plastic book was opened and the alphabet keys pressed. The letter of a circle with one vertical line caused the glass page to light up. A gray screen with a winged animal shone through the glass with a little white bar. Lantean letters could be inserted into the bar by pressing the alphabet keys. After three strings of pressing keys the page changed. Red Lantean letters filled the white bar and the glass page went dark.

A sixth crate contained tents, sleeping rolls, and tent spikes all made of smooth fabric that smelled like old milk.

The crates were arranged around an old fire. The ashes were covered with dirt to disguise them but the ring of stones was left untouched.


The library was supposed to be empty at this time of day. Even the lamps were turned off, the circuits shut down at the dam in order to ease the pressure on the turbines while other facilities used most available power.

Yet Archivist Belen sat in one of the alcoves with a candle burning on the desk. Field reports were spread out around him, recent and less recent. They all had elements of a single theme, one that would have branded the Lanteans as Wraith Worshipers before the Red Book was translated.

Music.

The Lantean's lives, beliefs, actions, and identities were all wrapped up in music. That most dangerous of activity, almost guaranteed to bring the Wraith down if not done in secret. Yet the Lanteans dared sing in public, flaunting the threat of the Wraith as unimportant compared to their need to sing.

The Red Book detailed why.

And this most recent field report hinted at more than just 'why'.

A second candle shone in the darkness, weaving through the stacks of the pitch-dark library. Archivist Rainar approached, candle held aloft. “What's so important you asked me to meet now?” he asked, sounding tired.

Belen bowed his head. Archivist Rainar must be exhausted. Chief Radim had him running ragged trying to verify the dwarves the Lanteans brought among them. What were their strengths? Why were they here? Why now? This was not likely to make anything easier.

“There's no one to hear us here,” Belen said. “The library is empty. We'll see the lights of anyone on the approach.”

“What is this about?” Rainar asked.

“Music,” Belen said. “The Lantean's ability to create with music.”

Rainar set his candle down on the desk and collapsed against a shelf. The shelf creaked but didn't topple. “Their weapons specialist cannot create with music, he can only destroy.”

“I don't mean Doctor McKay,” Belen said. “I mean Major Lorne.”

Rainar stood up. The shelf creaked again and nearly overbalanced. Rainar quickly grasped it to keep it upright. “Major Lorne has the blood of the Ancestors,” he realized. “He can sing?”

“He can, but I don't think he's aware of it. The last field report states he tried to sing to free his, well, Genii Intelligence believes Doctor Parrish to be his lover so we'll call him that. He tried to sing to free his lover from a cave-in and stopped in fright when he realized he was succeeding. I don't believe he thought himself capable of it.”

“Interesting,” Rainar said. He took a deep breath. “That doesn't leave this alcove, this library, or those pages.”

“What? But Archivist--”

“What will the military do if they hear the Lanteans have more than one weapons expert?” Rainar demanded. “Especially one who has a lover? How do we exploit that without getting caught? What will the Lanteans do when they catch us?”

“But Doctor McKay--”

“We have agents on Scrinia at all times. It is not advantageous for us to lose that element of possibility. If the Lanteans have another weapons expert, with a weakness kept hidden in plain sight, what will Intelligence demand we do? Despite Chief Radim's insistence I do not believe our alliance with the Lanteans is entirely benevolent. Not considering what they can do.”

Belen's shoulders fell as he realized what Rainar was saying. How many Dread Singers were there among the Lanteans? How many were weapons experts? The elves in the Red Book were universally gifted with music. Considering how many Lanteans had the blood of the Ancestors, did that mean they could all sing?

What kind of power could the Lanteans wield if they decided to?

*****

Major Lorne scanned the mess hall looking for the right seat. David waved at him. Lorne waved back but didn't take the seat David offered. He needed something in particular. Ah, there.

It wasn't really a session if he saw Dr. Heightmeyer outside of her office. Besides, this wasn't anything dangerous, just weird. In fact he debated scrapping the idea and talking to McKay instead, that man had been through enough weird for three people, but then he'd have to talk to McKay and word would get out and then everyone would know he was a huge nerd. Worse, a huge suggestible nerd.

Lorne smiled faintly as he sat across from Dr. Heightmeyer. “This seat taken?” he asked after sitting down.

Heightmeyer raised an eyebrow. “It is now,” she said wryly. “Something on your mind?”

“Maybe a little bit?” Lorne admitted.

Heightmeyer nodded. “Many people experienced strong reactions to the whalesong, not all of them physical. Some even reported what I can only describe as a spiritual experience. You're not alone.”

“Entirely different problem,” Lorne said, cutting her off. He didn't need to hear about the people who had taken to singing and dancing on the East Pier again.

“Oh.” Heightmeyer cleared her throat. “Something different?”

“This was an off-world event,” Lorne admitted. “I want this entirely off the record but I also want to know I'm not worried over nothing. Dr. Beckett didn't find anything weird so I just have to accept this was a coincidence. I mean, Reed was throwing rocks at the cave-in the whole time, maybe he hit a lucky spot and shifted the whole pile.”

“The cave-in that trapped Dr. Parrish?”

“That one,” Lorne said. “Coughlin went back to the gate. We knew Parrish was okay, he was just stuck in a cave. Reed and I had nothing to do other than make sure Parrish didn't panic or anything. I... um... I may have tried to... this is embarrassing.”

“You were worried about your friend,” Heightmeyer said.

“That doesn't excuse trying to Jedi force-lift the rocks away,” Lorne said.

Heightmeyer couldn't help the question. “Did it work?”

“The rocks moved, yes.”

Heightmeyer sat back in her chair. “Huh.”

“At least something moved,” Lorne admitted. “The rocks shifted and I stopped. Reed stopped throwing rocks at the pile and we didn't touch anything until Coughlin got back.”

“You were worried about your friend,” Heightmeyer said again. “It was likely a coincidence but this still worries you. You dislike waiting, unable to do anything, while your friends are in trouble.”

“I already knew that,” Lorne said.

“And so your mind has latched onto this coincidence in order to feel like you weren't waiting. That you were indeed doing something helpful. Even if your conscious mind realizes the Jedi mind tricks are fictional.”

“Still not helpful,” Lorne said.

“If the effort kept you occupied during the crisis then, yes, I'd say it was helpful.”

Lorne paused and sat back. His tray sat untouched before him, spaghetti and meat ball getting cold. “I hadn't thought about it like that,” he said.

“Besides, it doesn't work unless you sing the song,” Heightmeyer said with a grin.

Lorne looked affronted. “I did sing the song,” he said. “Reed sang it with me. We stopped when it worked.”

“Oh. Sorry. That was supposed to be a joke.”

Lorne sighed and flattened his meat ball with his fork. The inside of the meat ball was still cold. He resigned himself to eating it anyway.

“You should talk to Dr. McKay,” Heightmeyer said. “He has the same SG training you do and he's used to strange things like this. He also won't mock you for singing the song, I've heard rumor he does it himself when his coffee's across the lab and he doesn't want to get up.”

Lorne snorted.

"I haven't heard of it working for him though," she mused with an exaggerated seriousness. "Maybe you could give him some tips."

"A telekinetic McKay," Lorne grumbled. "That's the last thing we need."

Heightmeyer had to agree.

Chapter Text

Field Report #167
Transcribed by Scout Rober
Edited by Officer Garrett and Wanderer Tey
Observed by Archivist Belen

The Satedan Ronon Dex and the Athosian Teyla Emmagan were encountered on Belsa. Contact was not initiated. Observation protocols were observed.

No Lanteans were present. It was gathered that the pair were on Belsa to avoid Lantean questions concerning their conversation. 

The full transcript of their conversation is attached to this report. The transcript has not been edited. The entire incident is listed below as reported by Wanderer Tey.


Teyla sat at the table looking at her wooden mug. Across from her Ronon had three empty mugs stacked around him and was polishing off a fourth. He finished it and thumped the empty mug on the table. He help up two and turned them upside down, indicating to the barkeep that this was an unacceptable situation.

Teyla sighed, her first mug still full.

“Something's bothering you,” Ronon said.

“No,” she said. “Yes. I do not know.”

Two of Ronon's empty mugs were replaced with full ones. He slid one forward to tap against hers before picking it up. “Wanna talk about it?” he asked.

Teyla looked around. This was not a safe place. There were no safe places. But at least none of the Lanteans were here. She and Ronon were offworld on some 'personal' mission, one Ronon had approved of once he heard it was a code word for 'get drunk'.

Perhaps she needed no safe place. At least here the Lanteans wouldn't hear her. “I am concerned about Rodney,” Teyla said. “He was capable of ascending to join the Ancestors.”

“He chose not to,” Ronon said.

“He does not feel worthy.”

“Like I said, he chose not to.” Ronon took a deep draught of beer.

Teyla wondered if this was the legendary Satedan constitution she'd heard legend of.

“He has the option, he could face the choice again,” Ronon said, putting his mug down. Teyla saw it was already half empty. “He doesn't want to ascend.”

“He does not feel he is allowed,” Teyla insisted.

Ronon belched. “Doesn't matter.”

Teyla fell back to staring into her beer.

“Looking at it won't make you feel better,” Ronon said. "You gotta drink it."

Teyla wrinkled her nose at him. Still she picked up the wooden mug. The beer was deep, dark, she could taste the char on the grains that were used to brew it. She moaned in want and quickly drank the entire mug.

Ronon laughed. “That's the way,” he crowed, raising his mug to her.

Soon she was three mugs in although it felt more like five. Maybe it was five? The empty mugs kept not staying empty no matter how much of it she drank. She gave a tiny burp and the taste made her decide to slow down. She made a face.

Ronon snorted his own mug, coughing and hacking as beer went up his nose. When he had cleared the beer from all the wrong places he realized Teyla had slid off the bench and was laughing on the floor.

“Feel better?” Ronon asked.

Teyla sighed happily. She did feel comfortably numb. She almost felt numb enough that Rodney's latest conversation didn't disturb her anymore. Then she remembered the real reason she'd brought Ronon here. “Ronon, we are friends...” she said, carefully enunciating the words.

“Yeah,” Ronon said.

“You will tell me if I am overreacting to something strange.”

“Like wha?”

Teyla sat up, leaning against the bench that she was supposed to be sitting on. “Rodney has... Ronon, you understand why we keep our music secret. Even on Athos I only sang to dare the Wraith to come.”

“Bold,” Ronon said.

“Our aged,” Teyla said. “Tradition says... we sing to the Ring to dare the Wraith to come. They feared to cull the aged in life, we dared them to come for them in death. They never did. Made us feel good about... things...”

“Still bold,” Ronon said.

“The Lanteans have a musical instrument that sounds like a dart in flight.”

Ronon spit his beer over the table. “What?”

Teyla nodded. “Rodney is so angry about it,” she mused aloud. “Of all the realizations he made while approaching ascension that is the one he fully remembers. He was... Ronon, one of the marines has such an instrument. Rodney was able to make it sound like a dart. We were inside and the sound terrified me.”

“Gotta be a coincidence,” Ronon said.

Teyla shook her head. “Rodney said much about sounds and variation and so many combinations. It was a ten with many zeros. Dr. Kusanagi's people remember the Wraith, she calls them Oni and tells how they swoop in from the night to eat people. What if their musicians remember the Wraith sounds? Ronon, they have turned the sounds of death into music! There are many such instruments on Atlantis! Their children learn how to turn death into music!”

“Very bold,” Ronon said.

Teyla glared at him.

“What? It is.” Ronon passed her half empty mug down to her. He ignored the shout from the barkeep that drinking on the floor was not allowed.

Teyla finished the mug and shot to her feet, running out the door. The sound of retching drifted in from outside.

The barkeep came over and collected Teyla's mugs. Ronon tipped him a stone bead.

*****

Rodney trudged into the mess hall. It was the middle of the night. Teyla sat in a darkened corner with a mug of coffee, her eyes shielded from the bright lights of the kitchen by something Sheppard had called 'shades'. They dimmed the lights while she watched Rodney rummage at the snack offerings, piling far more than a mere snack's worth onto his tray. Then he saw her and seemed to take her presence as an invitation.

“Can't sleep,” Rodney said as he sat down.

Teyla hummed. She couldn't sleep either but for an entirely different reason. Belsa operated on a different day cycle than Lantea and there was the headache that had her silently cursing the brewer, the barkeep, and Ronon.

“Keep dreaming of darts,” Rodney said. “I can't do anything, everyone's screaming and running and then I realize the darts are all synchronized to a Van Halen song.”

Teyla nodded sagely.

“I've had this dream three times now,” Rodney complained. “It's a different song each time. But it's always Van Halen.”

“Perhaps there is some deeper meaning,” Teyla offered.

Rodney scoffed. “I don't think 'Running with the Devil' has any deep meaning,” he said. “At least nothing that applies here.”

Teyla pretended that made sense.

Rodney laid his head on the table, pushing his tray forward in offering. Soon he was snoring and Teyla was free to peruse his selection of wrapped cookies and wrapped ham sandwich at her leisure. Rodney's snores quickly turned chaotic as he mumbled 'might as well jump' and then whined. His snores returned to their soft slow cadence after a short time.

She unwrapped a cookie as she watched him sleep.

Chapter Text

Incident Report #75
Transcribed by Scribe Inesh
Attended by Exploratory Field Unit Passers
Edited by Field Commander Anar

Commander Acastus Kolya is dead.

Former Guard Haemon was implicated in luring Commander Kolya to his death. He brokered a deal with Lucius Lavin on Cipitris, rumored to be an associate with the Lanteans. This rumor was proven true when Lanteans arrived on Cipitris and a confrontation occurred. However, the nature of this association is unknown and is expected to be mercurial, given events of the confrontation. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard was observed draining an artifact of the Ancestors of power during the confrontation and then laughing when his associate Lavin suffered minor physical harm due to his own reliance on the artifact.

Interview with the Ciptrians all agree, Commander Kolya's death was quick and uneventful. He was shot by Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard with one of the Lantean sidearm weapons during what Dr. Rodney McKay described as a 'typical Western duel'. The description of the confrontation was unlike any dueling method known to Genii history but it is heartening that Commander Kolya was allowed at least that consideration.

Unlike most civilized dueling styles, Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard did not give praise to the vanquished warrior's skills or accept a token of his death. Instead he took no part at all in the fate of Commander Kolya's body. Dr. McKay was observed mentioning there should be music, something he described as 'the good the bad and the ugly'. This apparently meant something to Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard as it garnered a reaction, laughter that turned hysterical, and a stated need for drinks. Their companions Ronon Dex and Teyla Emmagen agreed with this statement.

Commander Kolya's traitors did not attempt to move his body from where it lay while the Lanteans stayed on Cipitris. It has been suggested the Lanteans prolonged their stay on Cipitris because of this. If so, it was not a sign of respect.

Lucius Lavin has been taken into custody and is awaiting interrogation.


Archivist Belen was a scientist, an Archivist of the Genii Libraries. He'd been taken from the surface world as an Apprentice because of the Red Book. He'd risen quickly to the rank of Archivist in large part to the Satedan Ronon Dex and the information he'd been able to glean from Dex. He was an expert of Lantean music out of necessity but that was neither his passion nor his expertise.

His expertise would serve him today. He'd studied the anatomy of humans and animals long before he descended under the surface to his apprenticeship. He knew how they worked, what made them tick.

What caused them pain.

This human before him, whatever world he once hailed from, was a man. He was a man who had been thrown into the interrogation chamber with fear in his eyes and despair written all over his face. He was a man with a detailed history only hinted at by the spy network. He was a conman and a rapist who'd promised to raise the children of over two dozen women on nine worlds, leaving them pregnant and alone as he fled through the Ring to his next mark. Little better than a Plaguebringer.

Belen slowly walked around the human tied to the chair. A single electrical bulb flickered above them, revealing the empty room. A single guard stood next to the closed door, ready should Belen need some extra hands for a more involved approach.

“You are familiar with the Lanteans,” Belen said.

“I, I, I don't know if 'familiar' is really the right word. I've crossed paths with them, they may have helped me with a few things, but it didn't last long.”

Belen calmly held out a hand to the guard. He flicked his fingers in such a way to communicate his request. The guard offered him a sheaf of papers all written in the Archivist's shorthand Belen had barely learned to read. He opened the file, paging through papers as he occasionally glanced down at the bound man.

“Look, I know, I should have paid Kolya's men what I owed them, I made a mistake, but now they're dead and your Chief whos-it can reign in peace until the next fake election. So in a way I helped you guys out.”

“Lucius Lavin,” Belen said, seemingly ignoring everything the man had just said. “Lucius... Lavin... Ah, yes. Wanted on nine worlds for abandonment of duty, three for murder, six for forced abortion, oh, and one count of desecration of an artifact of the Ancestors.”

Lucius looked ill. His lip twitched as though he sought any way possible to weasel out of these charges.

Belen handed the file back the guard. “I'm not interested in these events,” he said. “It's not my job to judge your crimes.”

Lucius visibly relaxed. “Oh thank the Ancestors,” he said.

Belen cracked his own knuckles. “I have other interests,” he said. “I have been given leave to pursue these interests for the good of the Genii people.” He paused for effect as the bulb above him flickered. “By any means necessary.”

Belen found Lucius's fear to be a delightful beginning. Fearful people would say anything to avoid pain. But that meant that pain was necessary to test the veracity of the claims made to avoid it. He so rarely got to practice on living victims like this, this would be fun.

“You're familiar with the Lanteans,” Belen said, beginning his interrogation again. “Rumor says you've spent time in their city as a guest. I want you to tell me everything.”

*****

Belen was exhausted. But it was a good tired.

Hours of soft interrogation had moved on to the inevitable. With hands tied behind, nobody to hold Lucius still, it had taken intricate skill to practice the Genii specialty of filleting skin from living flesh without wasting a single drop of blood. The wound wouldn't be fatal, not if the lies Lucius pretended to believe were true. The Lanteans had the medicines to repair a wound like that, even to replace the skin. The libraries held detailed drawings of McKay's left forearm where the skin had been removed by Kolya and then later replaced, Belen had studied them. It was impressive work.

But the Lanteans would not help this man. Not if Lucius's claim of abandoning his duty to Dr. Weir, the Lantean commander herself, was true.

It mattered not. Lucius was no longer of Genii concern. The man would be sent through the Ring to Manaria. They had the strongest claim over him and would appreciate the opportunity to enact justice.

There was a drug called dulcis distilled from the herb known as 'lady's bane'. There was rumor the Wraith used dulcis recreationally. It had an affect on their worshipers. It seemed to have the same effect on most of the Lanteans as well.

But not Sheppard. Lucius was very clear about that. Not Sheppard. It all would have worked out if only Sheppard was affected.

It made sense. Sheppard was the only one of the Lanteans with the blood of the Ancestors to have the same pointed ears and multicolored eyes the Satedan Dex had reported among the Ancestors of the Tria. The blood of the Ancestors wasn't enough to resist the sweet smell of the Wraith's dulcis, one needed to be an Ancestor. Or at least close enough to be called an elf by his fellow Lanteans.

No wonder the Lanteans destroyed an artifact of the Ancestors solely to humiliate this man.

Belen added 'use of dulcis in the act of abandoning his duty' to the list of charges to be sent to the Manarians. The loss of this Lucius Lavin would be a shame, he claimed to have much knowledge of the Lanteans and their Earth, but in Belen's opinion that knowledge was poisoned at best. More likely they were stories screamed during torture, without consistency and contradicting everything the Genii already knew.

After all, this Lucius claimed the Red Book was a work of fiction. Such nonsense. The Lanteans themselves had confirmed its authenticity. And even if it were, as unlikely as that seemed, it would be a claim buried for the good of the Genii.

Chapter Text

“Dr. McKay, get back here!”

Rodney ignored Caldwell shouting at him. He ignored that other colonel, what was his name, Ellis? Elliot? Not Everett, he was dead. Whatever. Rodney didn't care. He stormed into the gate room, the gate only just reconnected to the Pegasus network. Testing was still underway, MALPs roving about between worlds. The tests all looked good enough, nothing abnormal, the gate was fine and he had to get out of here.

Elizabeth was dead. Elizabeth was worse than dead and it was all his fault. If he hadn't intervened she'd be dead, merely dead, not worse, not this horrible unknowing that he could imagine. He could see her in a Replicator cell, their hands in her brain as she screamed and screamed and...

He couldn't do this. He couldn't stay here and set up repair schedules like a good little CSO, he couldn't put up with this Colonel Ellis and his smugness, his insistence that their bombing the self-obsessed, self-contained, self-concerned Replicators into action wasn't directly responsible for everything.

Rodney knew better. He knew Ellis stirred up the Replicators with a perverse glee like he'd been poking a hornet's nest with a stick. He knew his plan to escape the aftermath had been slipshod and desperate, he knew his use of nanites on Elizabeth was why she'd survived being taken, why the Replicators had her now, why she'd have to experience being slowly disassembled into their hive mind, a single consciousness amidst the screams of who knew how many victims...

Nope. No, nope, no thank you, he wasn't thinking about it. He needed something else, something that wasn't this place, somewhere that wasn't Atlantis, someone who didn't silently blame him for this instead of the one who was actually responsible for the Replicator's rampage. He bodily shoved Chuck away from the console and pounded in an address. He knew this address by heart, as well as he knew Earth or Lantea.

The gate whooshed into life.

Caldwell and Ellis stood on the balcony overlooking the gateroom floor. Rodney glared at the techs and silently dare them to stop him. No one did.

“Dr. McKay, if you walk through that gate I cannot guarantee you'll be allowed back here,” Caldwell said.

Rodney fixed him with a glare, turned his back on them all, and walked through.

The gate disconnected.

“Purge his IDC,” Ellis said.

“Belay that order,” Caldwell said.

Ellis looked shocked. “You just said--”

“I know where he's going,” Caldwell said. “I can't approve of it but I don't blame him.”

*****

The dusty desert scrublands of Scrinia stretched behind him. The quiet gate stood alone on its red granite platform. The pale yellow-orange sun hung low in the sky, sinking toward an orange and red sunset. Soon the desert would be stained red, a sight the locals called 'bloodstone light'. The descriptor was accurate.

The path led toward the river district and the village of brick and stone and clay.

One of the few wood buildings stood in the center of town. The tavern was filling with the night's drinkers. He headed there, seeking the one he needed to find.

He found her there, still plump with baby weight. She carried fistfuls of mugs, laying them down in front of patrons. Elena's smile turned bright when she saw him. “Rodney!” she called. “What brings you here?”

Rodney fell to his knees before her and wrapped his arms around her middle. She fell off balance, tumbling to the floor with him. Only then could he make a sound as he began to scream in anguish.

*****

“Scrinia,” Ronon said.

“Scrinia,” Sheppard agreed.

“He went to Scrinia,” Caldwell confirmed.

“I do not see the problem then,” Teyla said. “We all know why he has gone.”

“No we don't.” Ellis stood leaning against the tarnished orichalcum paneling of the conference room. Elizabeth's seat was left vacant. The room felt even more tense than it had 24 hours before when Atlantis was adrift in the Void awaiting its death. “What's on Scrinia?” Ellis demanded.

Sheppard looked at Caldwell who looked at Beckett who looked at Ronon who decided dancing around the issue was stupid. “His family,” Ronon said.

“Family?” Ellis asked.

Caldwell cleared his throat. “Dr. McKay has a... family,” he allowed. “He has a wife, a husband, and a child.”

“Group marriages are the norm out here,” Sheppard said as though it were completely ordinary knowledge.

Ellis looked like he'd been struck. “You knew about this?” he demanded, turning on Caldwell.

Caldwell attempted to look like he wasn't involved.

“Steven was allowed to name the boy,” Teyla said.

Caldwell glared at her. “It was a name-in-a-hat situation,” he said defensively. “Elena happened to draw the name I wrote.”

Ellis did not look assuaged in the slightest.

“There must have been a time dilation issue while the Daedalus was in the Milky Way,” Lorne said.

Sheppard was impressed with how serious Lorne sounded, almost as though he believed it. But nobody still believed that excuse, did they?

Ellis looked at Caldwell for some backup here. He then realized Caldwell was just as involved. “You kept this from the SGC,” he accused.

“It was reported as your rules required,” Teyla said. “No more, no less.”

Ellis did not look convinced.

*****

Rodney sat alone on the amphitheater’s stage. The audience was both familiar and alien, representatives of dozens of worlds waiting for his words.

News of a calamity on Atlantis had spread fast. A drunk's stories held more weight when they came from Scrinia but they were still a drunk's stories. But when word came from the Athosians that Atlantis had a new world and Dr. Weir had been lost, those rumors gained weight. The lack of any official word from Atlantis did not calm fears.

Now, finally, there would be news.

Rodney sat alone, the only Lantean present at this Storytelling. Around him, waiting for news, were faces from Genia and Manaria, from Conlii and Belsa, from Paluda and Haren, from worlds he'd never been to, planets he'd never known had names. Elena and Adrian sat in the front row, little Benito swaddled in her lap. He wiggled in her arms, smiling and gurgling at his father on the stage.

Rodney smiled down at his son. He knew there was no going back now, no pretending none of this ever happened. If Atlantis refused to allow his return he would be okay. He'd accept exile before allowing them to ship him back to Earth.

He took a deep breath and began to speak.

“There's more in this galaxy than Wraith,” he said. “There's an enemy here who nearly destroyed our entire galaxy, the Milky Way.” He looked up to the stars and the faint smudge of a spiral galaxy. It was so far away he could cover the entire thing with with his thumb. Everything he once knew and loved was there, so far away.

“They have several names,” he continued. “You call them the Machine Pretenders. The Ancients called them the Asurans. I don't know what they call themselves, or if they even take a name. But we call them the Replicators.”

The amphitheater was silent as he weaved a tale, as he told the story of Colonel Ellis and the Apollo taking it upon themselves to destroy the Replicators for their crimes. Of the Replicator's response, how they sought to destroy Atlantis. How they nearly did, how it was only through luck and the sacrifice of a minor moon that Atlantis was able to escape, damaged but not destroyed.

How Elizabeth was nearly killed. Rodney was the one who took the tools of the enemy and rebuilt them, forced them to save her life. She'd been furious at him, believing herself tainted by this violation, but she'd been alive. At first.

He spoke of the heist, how Elizabeth sacrificed herself to save the others. His guilt came through here. If he hadn't saved her, if he hadn't tainted her with the machines that kept her alive, she wouldn't have been captured. She wouldn't suffer as she must now, her mind being disassembled as she was subsumed into the Replicator superconsciousness. She would be dead but she would have died human.

But Atlantis was safe. Secret, safe, and she would not stand this violation. A new leader would be chosen and her world, her New Lantea, would rise from ashes and shadow and seek vengeance for this act of war.

*****

Ladon Radim laid the report on his desk. He took a deep breath, reached for his glass of alcohol, and drained the entire thing.

“That was my reaction.”

Radim's office was closed, the doors locked. There was the wish that information would stay confined to this room. Time would tell if that wish could possibly come true. Archivist Rainar leaned on Radim's desk, a wry look on his face as though the man couldn't even be horrified by the Lantean's atrocities anymore. Radim wondered if he would ever grow hardened like that and what exactly he'd have to see to get there.

“Do we have their new address?” Radim asked.

“No,” Rainar said. “Few have it. Dr. McKay did not reveal it and word is he hasn't tried to return there. Rumor says the Athosians know the new address but they're keeping it quiet. The report from Scrinia might be serious when it claims Atlantis is in shadow. If so then that is the second most horrifying thing I've heard all year.”

“Only the second?” Radim asked wryly.

Rainar held up a short report. “After the Storytelling on Scrinia, this is more horrifying.”

“Worse than a Shadowed Atlantis?” Radim demanded. He snatched the report from the Archivist and immediately regretted it.

Elizabeth Weir had been recently sighted on Manaria. She and her two companions had refrained from touching anything, merely observing. They never spoke, not to one another or those who tried to greet her. Their dull machine-gray eyes were mentioned as an afterthought.

Dr. Weir had fallen.