Emma Kilgal had made few promises in her life, and broken fewer. She did not make vows lightly. Both of her parents had believed in the integrity of self above almost all else. Thus, it was with a heavy heart that Emma stepped out of her husband’s tavern to find the delegates from Atlantis, her son Galen held tightly in her arms. As it was, she was almost too late. The delegates came only every third month, and were scheduled to depart that day at the noon hour. She hurried through the lunch-time crowds, desperate to find them now that her choice was made. She caught them just as they turned onto the Way of the Ancestors.
“Stop, please!” Her cry caused them to pause, and their leader turned toward her. “I am sorry, but I must speak with you.” Emma came to a stop just in front of them, panting from her sprint through the marketplace.
“Hey, there. Why don't you take a few deep breaths. We can wait a few minutes.” The leader was an older woman, gray liberally streaked through the dark blonde hair that was knotted at her neck, and concern was evident in her expression. “Take all the time you need.” She sounded so much like her mother that Emma had to look away, focusing her attention on slowing her breathing instead of painful similarities. The leader's voice was gentle, but insistent. “Now, why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?”
Emma adjusted the baby in her arms carefully as she met the leader's eyes, conscious of each labored breath the infant struggled to take. He was the reason she was doing this. She couldn't turn away now. “I…it is my son. He’s sick. Your people can help him. I am sure of it.”
The leader blinked. It was obviously not the request she had expected. After a moment's consideration, she nodded and and shot a glance back at one of her men, who nodded in turn. He was young, but wore the colors of a Lantean healer. “Doctor Chester here will be more than happy to take a look at your son, ma'am."
The healer stepped forward and smiled pleasantly. "There’s a nasty bug that’s been going around, but it’s nothing that can’t be treated with a dose of antibiotics. I'm sure we'll have him right as rain before you know it.” He reached for Galen, and Emma stepped away instinctively, tightening her grip. “Now, ma’am-“
“It's Emma." She cleared her throat, and felt the worry that she'd suppressed so fiercely come rushing back. What if they couldn't help him? What if she lost him like they'd lost Anders? Her brother's death had torn her parents apart from the inside out. She wasn't going to let that happen with Galen. "Emma Kilgal.”
“Ms. Kilgal, then." The healer continued on, oblivious to her inner struggle. "I can’t help him if I can’t take a look at him. I’m not going to hurt your boy, I promise.”
Emma shook her head, speaking before she could think better of it. “But you already have.” Her eyes widened as she realized what she'd said, how it must have sounded, but she couldn't bring herself to apologize. There was truth in the words, even if she wasn't sure how much. She didn’t know the whole story of her parents time before coming to Chinaan, wasn't even sure where they'd come from, but she remembered her brother’s death clearly enough. Her father had cursed the Lanteans just as vehemently as he’d cursed the Wraith and the Ancestors when the baby had died, and he had not been a man to cast blame easily. Judging by the look in the Lantean leader's eyes, a mixture of confusion and anger, Emma knew that it would be pointless to continue as they were. She would have to go to the city, breaking a promise she had made to herself never to dig into her parents past. She would do it, because she wanted her son to live. “I need to go with you to your city."
The leader frowned. "Now, ma'am, I understand that you're worried about your son, but let the doc take a look at him. There are rules about visitors, and I can't break those for anyone."
"Then you will call, and they will say yes, and I will go with you. Your healer is too young to understand what needs fixing. You cannot understand. I wish to speak with Teyla. She will know what to do.”
"You know Teyla Emmagan." A skeptical expression settled on the leader's face. "All right, look. I'll make you a deal. We'll go to the 'Gate, and I'll call in. But if Teyla doesn't know you, you're not coming back with us.”
"That will be fine." She nodded as the Lanteans turned back toward the Ring of the Ancestors, and adjusted Galen before following after. When they reached the ring, already lit and waiting, the leader pulled a radio out of a pocket on her vest.
"Atlantis base, this is Colonel Cadman reporting in."
The response was male, and full of easy going charm. "Cadman, we were wondering what had happened to you. Everything okay over there?"
"Everything is fine, but we've run into a bit of a snag."
"I've got someone here who wants to come back with us. She says she knows Teyla."
"Um, okay... Teyla's actually on the mainland right now. It's going to be a few hours until she's back in the city. Can it wait?"
Emma was shaking her head even before the colonel turned to her. "It cannot. My son is gravely ill, and requires treatment within the city. If you must speak with Teyla, then do so quickly."
"I, uh, hm." There was a pause. "I can't promise anything, but I can put in a call and see if she's got her radio with her. Can I give her a name?"
"Tell her that Emma Kenmore wishes to come to Atlantis."
The colonel dropped the radio, and stared at Emma with wide eyes as she fumbled to pick it up again. The silence was broken by the voice on the radio, although the speaker sounded no more composed than his counterpart. "K-kenmore? As in..."
"As in Michael Kenmore. I take it that you knew my father?"
The colonel cleared her throat, seeming to regain her equilibrium. "You could say that. I... Look, Chuck, this is getting way too weird for my taste. Get a medical team up to the Gate room - better yet, get Carson - and I'll give provisional clearance."
"For God's sake, get Teyla back from the mainland. If she knew about this, I want to know."
She clicked off the radio and paused, staring into the water within the ring for a long moment. Galen began to fuss, and Emma shifted him in an attempt to settle him down. The colonel must have seen something in the water, because she hefted her weapon, which had until then been holstered harmlessly against her leg, and aimed it at Emma. "After you, Ms. Kenmore. Nice and slow."
Emma nodded cautiously, taking her time as she ascended the steps to the ring. The change her father's name had caused was concerning, but at least it meant that they knew him. They might know what had been done to him, as Teyla had implied. She paused for a moment on the threshold. She had never stepped between worlds as so many of her childhood friends had, never left home for a brighter future on another world. She wondered what might have happened if she had. If she would have gone to the Lanteans sooner, or not at all. If all of this was worth breaking the vow she had made to let the memory of her parents rest undisturbed. Looking down at the child pressed against her chest, blond haired and blue-eyed in a way that Chinaa children never were, she had her answer. She did what she must, and it would always be worth it.
~ Finis ~