Sheppard walked up the ramp of the jumper, his boots clanging loudly on the little vessel’s metal. He glanced at Kenmore as he passed through the rear interior of the jumper and continued walking towards its front. She took her usual seat on the left side bench. Then she slumped on the bench, her arms resting over her vest, her legs extending out in front of her and crossing at the ankles in a lazy day-off sort of posture. She was planning on resting back here. How dare she not at least look bereaved or apologetic or something other than at ease, complacent enough with what she’s done to finally get some rest like the rest of them wished they could. He turns his disapproving eyes back to the jumper’s now lighting up command controls as he hears the rest of his team clanging into the jumper behind him. There was no hesitation in the sounds he heard as he took his seat in the pilot’s chair and he caught sight of his team assuming their regular seats without comment or a single lingering look back at Kenmore out of the corner of his eyes as he began starting up the jumper for its backup flight through the Stargate to Atlantis. Good, other than Ronon unceremoniously kicking her feet out of his way, none of them were giving Kenmore the time of day. How could they after she assassinated a world’s leader, one of their few allies, one that they’d needed the most?
Once the jumper’s ramp was up, John finally dialed Atlantis’ gate address. The Heads Up Display came up over the jumper’s windscreen to tell him the wormhole had established. With a frustrated, tired, tense sigh, he reached out over his console, pressed the button, and spoke…
“Atlantis, this is Jumper One—“
Woolsey spoke the rank and name enough like a worried question that John looked over beside him at Rodney and then back a little at Teyla and Ronon sitting in the chairs behind only to find the same thing going on: they were all exchanging really confused looks between the four of them.
“A half-hour ago the gate was activated, but it just as quickly deactivated. All we could tell was that a jumper was responsible for it. Is there anything wrong,” Woolsey went on before John could even respond to the question of his own name first.
John turns his chair to the rest of his team and catches it in all of their eyes. The team is stunned, shocked by the new news. She had simply dialed back to Atlantis. They slowly turn their chairs in unison to look back at Kenmore.
Sheppard turns back around to face the jumper’s controls. He only had one order and he wanted to make it absolutely explicitly clear without growling his commander into a subordinate position in public. He had to calm himself a moment.
* * *
The team, with Kenmore trailing a handful of feet behind them, slowly walks down the access corridor from Atlantis’ jumper bay. It had been distinctly emptied at Sheppard’s request over the jumper’s radio as he landed the craft in its regular slot in the bay. As if on cue, Richard Woolsey came rushing up to them, the man was trying to keep up the façade of confident command with a strong walk, but he was rushing.
“What is it? What happened over there,” he asks them.
Sheppard can’t bring himself to say it. Teyla like all the other members of her team look over to see their leader deliver his bad tidings…and sees his hesitation, his complete resistance, his shame at the situation. She feels for him like she had often felt for Elizabeth Weir, the difficult position of command, and she also feels that it is her obligation to do this for him. After all she was a fellow village leader in the Pegasus Galaxy…
“Shiana is dead.”
The stun surges over Woolsey’s face. There’s a moment of silence—like there needed to be another one since they’d found Kenmore in the armory hut and she’d put the weapon she had modified then unmodified back—as his brain processes whether or not it can form words and send them to his mouth anymore. Teyla takes in the silence, she had not meant to put that so bluntly, but she could not figure out a way to tell the news other than plainly. She did not believe there was another way.
“How,” the administrator finally breathes.
John’s time has come, it was nice of Teyla to stall for him, perhaps she felt an obligation to Shiana, a leader thing, but his time has come. He’s the leader of this team and, although he doesn’t consider Kenmore a part of it, she was his responsibility on this mission and he had ultimately failed to keep an eye on her. He turns to look back at her, the others do as well, and Woolsey follows their eyes. John can practically feel the man’s mind screaming ‘No, no, no!’
“Kenmore assassinated her,” John said in a low voice, as if the volume could undercut the weight of his words.
Woolsey is silent. John can’t even hear him breathing anymore and he is definitely not looking back to see what emotion has taken hold of the man’s face now. Suddenly John hears scuffling footsteps racing towards them. He looks back in Woolsey’s direction and sees Kenmore’s blonde-haired, brown-eyed little boy running up to them behind him with Czech scientist Doctor Radek Zelenka right on his heels. John knew Zelenka really wasn’t one for hanging out with kids anymore than Rodney was, but he never thought in a million years that the Czech scientist was uncomfortable enough with them to break John’s demand for an empty hallway. How bad was time with a kid that you had to race him down here despite my specific orders, Radek? What the hell do those kids on that planet do to you? No amount of face painting and hair dye warranted this.
Little Michael Kenmore races past Woolsey and in between John and Teyla to his mother, who kneels down to the floor and scoops him into her arms. At sight of the kid’s happy face, John figured that had been his heart’s little goal all along: reach Mommy. But somehow John had hoped that at seeing how everyone else in front of him was acting, the looks on their faces, would seep into the boy’s brain and Michael’d hit the brakes, turn around, and run back the way he’d came.
John looks over at Zelenka as the man comes to a breathless stop behind Woolsey. The scientist immediately starts trying to catch his breath enough to speak, at least he’d obviously caught sight of the expression on John’s face.
“I’m sorry Colonel…the moment…he heard you…were back. He…ran… away…from…me,” finally the need to stop completely for air took hold.
John nodded just to pacify Zelenka and give him the signal it was okay to stop and catch all of his breath back. Zelenka nods back gratefully and doubles-over completely gasping for air and working hard to get as much of it all back in as he could.
“You’re home Mommy. You’re home,” came Michael’s happy voice to John’s ears.
“Yes,” Kenmore answers calmly then, “Mommy has to tell you something.”
Immediately John’s head shoots back to her. Is she going to do what he thinks she’s going to do?
Kenmore takes her young son’s hands in hers and stares at them for a moment before she gives them a few shakes, looks up into his eyes, and says in a quiet, subdued voice none of them had heard from her before, “Do you know why Mommy doesn’t sleep at night?”
The boy nods knowledgeably, “Because you miss Daddy.”
John never knew that. Is that why she passed out? Exhaustion? Sleep deprivation…because of the mourning process. They didn’t have to be close friends of hers to know she still considered herself married to her dead husband. Clearly that wasn’t just something she said.
Kenmore nods at him then she becomes reserved again, pursing her lips together to make them temporarily disappear, thinking of her next words. Her eyes return to him, “What if Mommy didn’t stop going to sleep as a way of missing Daddy? Do you know what might have happened then?”
Michael quirks his eyes at his mother with a tilt of his head like he’d never thought of that before, “No.”
“Mommy got very sad when Daddy died,” for a moment Kenmore’s throat caught, she took a moment to get it back—Oh God, John thought, she didn’t sleep because she kept seeing her husband, kept reliving his loss; waking up every time realizing that the other half of your bed was empty and remembering why each and every time, John could understand how’d someone would never want to go to sleep again in order to never wake up again—, “and there was a woman at the village we went to that…was just as sad.” The boy waited for his mother’s words and listened intently, “But instead of not sleeping anymore, she decided to hurt other people.”
“What happened,” he was frightened.
“She was setting people on fire…because she couldn’t go with her children or their Daddy.”
“What did you do,” Michael asked. His body suddenly tense at the sound of people being set on fire, he obviously understood what that meant.
“Mommy had to kill her to make her stop hurting her people.”
There’s a moment’s pause as Michael processes the information. They all look on in stunned silence. Waiting like Kenmore was. Could he, could a child his age possibly fathom what he was being told? Then the boy asked…
“Are the people okay now?”
Kenmore nods, “Yes, they’re safe now. They have a new leader and he’s not going to hurt anybody anymore.” She referred to the swift ironic election of the tall, skinny man that had brought a pitchfork to defend Shiana and a starving little boy against Kenmore.
The boy nodded at the ground. Comforted by the news that the people were safe. Then he looks into his mother’s eyes…
“Yes,” Kenmore answered, attentively.
“Are they not going to sleep anymore either?”
“I don’t know,” she answered her son honestly, “I don’t know.”
The boy nods his head again, accepting the knowledge of the answer, and, with that, the Lieutenant stands up with one of her son’s hands still in hers. They walk casually up to the team. Kenmore keeps her eyes intently focused on Woolsey.
“Mommy, are you in trouble,” came Michael’s voice from beside her.
Her eyes stayed on Woolsey, there was no threat in them but there wasn’t any backing-down frailty in them either. She wasn’t gun-shy, that was sure as Hell. The team look to Woolsey. Wasn’t he going to stop her? They did have brigs here. Wasn’t she going to one of them? She assassinated a friendly planet’s leader.
But Woolsey doesn’t say anything as Kenmore and her son walk past him…and past Zelenka…and down the hallway…and into the rest of Atlantis without a single word of reprimand.
As always, thanks go out to everyone associated with Stargate Atlantis from the crew to the cast. It was wonderful television while it lasted, sadly far far too short, and it makes for wonderful reading now, and hopefully for much much longer. For this story in particular, huge thanks go to the creators of and everyone associated with the fifth season episode “Inquisition” in particular for the creation of the Shiana character that makes this book possible. Even though it’s one of those quintessential budget saving episodes known as recap episodes, it gave Atlantis one of the most interesting characters to its viewers: Shiana. She was the first person ever met that had suffered through what the reactivated and reprogrammed Asuran Replicators had done as part of their war against the Wraith. The fact that that established so much untold history for this character and, with the episode’s resolution, so much potential for her to re-encounter Team Atlantis, it was all just too inviting an opportunity to pass up. It would be tough to bring up so much with so little actual background for a character but actress Kaaren de Zilva did fantastic. And too her as well as writer Alex Levine and director Brenton Spencer, thanks for the writing and performance that made me never forget the potential of this character to be ground-shaking for Team Atlantis! Thanks to Propworx for their production description of Shiana’s outfit that they auctioned off. It was so spectacularly detailed it made the first description of this character in this story practically perfect. Trust me, Propworx, your description always help me far more than you may ever know, thank you. Another thank you goes out to the writer of “The Tao of Rodney” third season episode, Damian Kindler, for the hysterical scene of Rodney levitating Carson that made that moment of interior monologue of Sheppard’s have such amusing potential. It gave me a great way to portray how the Sheppard character might deal with situations like that and the influences he might bring to the table in order to do it. Another hysterical thanks to Carl Binder for his teleplay of the story both Brad Wright and he came up with, the second season “Critical Mass” episode the end of which featured the appearance of a children-decorated Radek Zelenka, that made that moment such a defining one for the character from there on out and one I couldn’t just pass up remembering either. And I also owe a third debt to Carl Binder as the writer of the “Letters From Pegasus” first season episode for the SG designation for said children’s planet as well as some of Teyla and Sheppard’s exchange that comes back to haunt the Colonel’s thoughts. I also owe another debt of gratitude to Stargate SG-1/Atlantis Magazine Issue #10 and K. Stoddard Hayes for “The A to Z of Teal’c” article which featured a zat’nikatel for the letter Z where I got the spelling for the weapon, although there a numerous spellings for this weapon, I’m taking this spelling as the definitive one. I’d also like to acknowledge writer Martin Gero for the second season finale episode “Allies” for the filler scene he wrote in which Sheppard wants to make sure Teyla is onboard with their plan to ally with the Wraith to dispense the retrovirus as a weapon. Although, according to the episode’s audio commentary, this scene was originally larger and had been cut for time only to be added back in, watered down, for time, this is still a great scene that I thought added to more of Sheppard’s haunted moments especially where arguing with Teyla is concerned. It just added another depth and a sense of old familiarity to the background of their interaction that I think should never go away and am proud to include in this story. And as far as acknowledgements and an incredible amount of thanks goes, I would be remiss in not giving some to writer Martin Gero (again), director Martin Wood, and actor Joe Flanigan for their work in the fourth season premiere episode “Adrift” and in particular the scene in which Rodney and Sheppard fight. It really showed that no matter how stressful the situation is, how far to his limits and convictions he’s pushed, Sheppard is someone who gets the sort of angry where he yells in someone’s face, just like everybody else, but never physically lashes out. I think it added depth to the character to take him that step further and show him literally at that edge and going beyond it, especially where it puts Sheppard’s sense of chivalry in danger. Kudos to Martha Wells for her own Stargate Atlantis novel Reliquary, my favorite one of all the Atlantis novels Fandemonium has published. I couldn’t help but put in a reference to your work, it provided such a help to make Kenmore’s crazy plan actually work. And as I said before, thank you so much for my favorite Stargate Atlantis novel. It’s just as much a fun escape as any episode of the show, you did the series proud. Thanks for the sweet escape. I’d also liked to thank everyone involved in the creation of the fourth season episode “Be All My Sins Remember’d”, especially writer Martin Gero (yet again) and director Andy Mikita for the scene where Teyla tells Sheppard and Ronon about her pregnancy in particular. It went such a long way to the interior thoughts and monologue for Ronon. It made it possible to convey how much Ronon observes situations and how much of his thoughts and opinions of them he keeps inside. It helped me convey how much the character is like a glacier, what he lets you see and what he allows himself to say is so much less than what he keeps below the surface and having a character like that is both a treasure and a joy. Characters like Ronon Dex are a writer’s dream just as much as they are an actor’s. Orlando Bloom once said that the character of Legolas was the most complicated and challenging he had ever had as an actor because he never talked in most scenes, it forced him to exude all that he could in the stature of the character and convey that much more in the simple and few sentences he was given. Writers like to be able to write characters like that; they feel, they remember so much in a scene, but they say very little and their expressions and they way they carry themselves in the scenes have to have all the gravity. Thank God, actor Jason Momoa was up to the challenge of Ronon Dex and the writer’s gave him scenes like that one. Actor’s love to react, us writers love to make character’s like Ronon Dex think. And thank you all so much for that. And, as always, my final thank you goes to my Mother, for being the first person to put a pen in my hand and telling me to go have an adventure. I love you and can’t thank you enough for it. I hope you like this adventure, there’s more to come.