- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
It was dusk when Rodney announced, “Three life signs coming our way. Maybe fifteen minutes out. Looks like a jogging pace.”
“Thanks,” John replied, getting himself into position.
Rodney ducked back into the Jumper, moving to the pilot seat. John put the camp chair inside the Jumper, in case they needed to lock down or leave in a hurry.
John stood near the rear of the Jumper, waiting.
“At the tree line,” Rodney announced. “They haven’t stopped, and you should see them any minute now.”
John saw three indistinct figures moving toward them. He waited.
Ronon! It was Ronon!
A weight John didn’t know he carried suddenly lifted. He could breathe now.
“Sounds like Ronon,” Rodney said with a heartfelt sigh.
Ronon broke into a run, moving ahead of his companions. He reached the Jumper and wrapped John in a warm hug. John clung for a moment.
“Just you?” Ronon asked, frowning.
“Rodney’s inside,” John admitted.
“Anyone else?” Ronon asked.
John shook his head. He didn’t want to break the news in the open.
The two men with Ronon stopped a few paces back. Ronon gave a hand signal that must have indicated it was safe. They dropped back a few paces and set up a perimeter further away from the building..
“We live about half an hour from here on foot, just a few minutes in the Jumper,” Ronon said. “Stay with us.”
“We’d love to!” John replied. “Let Rodney pack up his gear, so we don’t lose anything.”
“Not a problem,” Ronon replied, giving John a look. They hadn’t always packed up Rodney’s gear when off-world.
John moved to the Jumper and put a foot on the ramp. “Do your friends need a ride? It’ll be tight.”
“No, thanks,” Ronon waved the others off. “I’ll come back with you and they can walk back. They will be fine.”
Rodney came out of the Jumper at that point. “Good to see you! Let me get these…” Rodney dashed over to the devices he had set up as a proximity alarm. It was the work of only a few minutes before he announced, “Ready.”
“Let’s go, then,” John said. He let Rodney get on the Jumper first, then Ronon, and John closed the hatch as he got on.
“Planning something?” Ronon looked around at the gear stacked in the Jumper.
“Long story,” John said. “Is Teyla with you?”
“She just got back yesterday from a trade fair on Partis,” Ronon replied. “She’ll be glad to see you, too!”
“Then we’ll tell this when we’re together,” John said. “It’s… I don’t want to tell it twice.”
Ronon heard something in John’s voice that made him shrug. “No problem.”
They were up in the air, Ronon pointing out landmarks to follow back to the… whoa… settlement. In its day, it would have been a bustling suburb to the city. Now, semi-crumbling homes were interspersed with recently built wooden buildings, and a few tents made up a town.
John was more than faintly surprised to see the number of homes still standing, some had been damaged but obviously refurbished, and other new buildings being raised.
“Quite the set-up you have here,” John said.
“Almost a thousand people,” Ronon said proudly. “Some Satedans, all of the Athosians, and refugees from a number of worlds.”
“Ran into a friend of yours in town,” John said. “Marek?”
Ronon snorted. “Gate scavenger,” Ronon admitted. “Tries to shake down smaller groups as they come through. Not interested in earning a living, so he preys on stray travelers.”
John gave a wry grin. “Figured as much,” John replied. “Although he did give us directions to find you.”
“He’ll expect something for that,” Ronon replied. “Did you give him anything?”
“Nope,” John replied. “Suspected he wasn’t up to anything good. We had already moved away from the Gate before he came to us, but we could see his spotters in the nearby buildings.”
“They won’t take on any group bigger than them,” Ronon said. “And by moving away from the Gate, you were outside of his setup. But we do have an arrangement for his group to provide warnings when someone comes through the Gate.”
“As long as it won’t come back to bite you,” John said.
“He knows better than to tackle us,” Ronon replied. “That’s too much like work, which he avoids as much as possible. If it’s not easy and safe, he backs right down.”
“Good to know,” John said.
It wasn’t long before Ronon was pointing to a home on the outskirts of the settlement. “It’s not fancy, but it’s dry and warm,” he said.
“That’s all we can ask for,” Rodney put in.
John settled the Jumper in the yard around the home, and took a deep breath as he powered the vehicle down.
“Dinner?” Ronon asked.
“Sure!” John said. “Can we help?”
“It’s just stew and biscuits,” Ronon admitted. “But there’s plenty to share.”
They exited the Jumper, Rodney closing the hatch as they cleared the decking. He set the lock.
“Too much in there to leave it open,” John said. He had left the P90, but kept the tac vest and the handgun. Until they had a chance to talk and see what was going on, he wasn’t going unarmed.
“Makes sense,” Ronon said. “While I’ve met everyone, it’s too large a group to really know everyone. And once you get to this size, there’s always a few that give us problems.”
“Not surprised,” John replied.
“Come in,” Ronon led the way inside. “Bathroom through there,” he pointed to a doorway, “and the kitchen is there. Dinner should be ready when you are.”
John was amazed at a lavatory that was connected to some type of a septic system. Then he realized that most of that would be infrastructure from before the Wraith attack on Sateda.
John waited as Rodney took a turn.
“This is nice,” John said as they entered the kitchen.
“We took some time to look for something we could work with,” Ronon said. “Larger cities are pretty much a total loss, but areas like this were lesser targets, and some were left intact. So it’s less work to make the buildings habitable.”
“Smells good,” Rodney said. “And I’m starved!”
Ronon gave a booming laugh.
Ronon didn’t ask a lot of questions as they ate. He talked about some of the refugees they had taken in and some of the planets they had explored.
At full dark, they moved to what would be a living room with multiple chairs and a couch. Ronon closed the shutters before he lit the lanterns. It was bright enough to see each other and it gave the room a warm glow.
“We still take precautions,” Ronon said. “Lights out at dark is a big one,” he said.
“What if the Wraith would come?” John asked.
“We do pay Marek and his people in foodstuff to send out an alert if Wraith come through,” Ronon replied. “We got an alert last night of someone coming through in a ship, but when you went quiet for the rest of the night, we waited to see what would happen.”
“If it were Wraith?” Rodney asked.
“We have some bunkers here,” Ronon said. “And we build any new buildings with deeper basements, so everyone has somewhere to go. If we have to evacuate everyone, it’s a tight fit right now, but we can protect ourselves with a few minutes notice.”
“We should be able to help with that,” Rodney said.
“Was hoping you could do something for us,” Ronon said.
At that point there was a small knock on the door and Teyla came in.
“John! Rodney!” She smiled. “So good to see you!”
John got up from his chair and leaned his forehead against Teyla. The warmth of her hands on his arms made him shudder slightly.
It was at that moment that he knew they finally had a chance.
“John? What is wrong?” Teyla asked with a frown.
“Everything!” Rodney answered, when it was obvious that John was too overwhelmed to speak.
“Sit,” Ronon ordered gently. “Tell us.”
John outlined what they had been through for the past three months. Carson warning them off, living on an isolated pier and… the deaths of everyone on Atlantis.
“Are you safe to be here — or anywhere?” Ronon asked when he understood the mortality rate of the virus.
“We’ve done what we can,” John said with a shrug. “We waited on Atlantis well past Carson’s estimate of viability. We used that time to make plans and pack the Jumpers.”
“More than one?” Ronon asked immediately.
“We left one on Athos,” John admitted. “We make a couple of stops before we went there, one in space and one on that planet with the radiation where we met you. Figured we’d see what was going on here before we went back and got it.”
“Sounds like you did what you could,” Teyla added.
“We can only hope,” Rodney said. “We wouldn’t have come here if we thought there’d be danger to anyone.”
“Everyone is gone?” Teyla asked softly.
John nodded. “Carson and Lorne did what they could to keep order, but Carson was in the middle of everything, trying to help. We don’t know exactly what happened to Lorne, but if he was still alive, he would have reached out to us. We checked for lifesigns a number of times and never found anyone.”
“But what if someone gates to Atlantis?” Ronon asked.
“I shut the Gate down on our way out,” Rodney added. “I put up the shield and set the computer to not connect, unless it also receives a specially coded signal. Without the signal, no one can get to the city.”
“Good to know,” Ronon replied. “Even if they can’t get sick, I suspect you don’t want anyone roaming about the city.”
“We also lost contact with Earth,” John added. “We tried to dial out multiple times, but never were able to make a connection. So we have no idea what might be happening there.”
Teyla’s eyes got wide at the thought of the virus loose on a heavily populated planet.
“I know,” Rodney said softly. “It’s too horrible to even think about it. But we’re here, and we’re alive. That’s where we have to start.”
Teyla rose. “You have had a long journey to get here. Rest and we will meet again tomorrow to see what we can do,” she said.
“They’ll stay here,” Ronon declared. “I have plenty of space.” He grinned, looking at Teyla. “And you have a bunch of kids that will be up at dawn. They’ll get more rest here.”
“Too true,” Teyla agreed, with a grin.
Ronon showed them to a room. “You’ll have to share,” he said, grinning.
“We’ll be fine,” John said.
“Sleep as long as you want,” Ronon said. “I’ll make breakfast when you get up.”
John turned and gripped Ronon’s arm. Ronon hauled John in for a warm hug.
“Good to see you,” Ronon rumbled in his ear.