It presides over everything, the only room that does. Atlantis’ Commander’s Office juts out about two feet from the left side wall of the Gateroom like a play on a bay window and a short bridge connects it to the Gateroom’s overseeing Command Center or Operations as it is sometimes called. It’s bayed wall is nothing but floor to ceiling windows, it’s other three walls are the same turquoise color as almost all the other walls in the city are, and the floor is the same color of marble bisected by silver bands to form large geometric shapes. There are tall rust-colored, textured crystal-slat wall sconces indicating the transition from glass to actual wall. And hanging in a place of prominence is the wooden cut and carved, polished emblem of the Atlantis Expedition. A circle surrounding a Pegasus horse flying through the top pyramid-shaped part of a Stargate’s chevron. The wall hanging is mounted between two three-paneled bright teal colored lights and on the other side of one of those lights, framed and gleaming behind a thin pane of glass are the Law degrees he earned so many years ago.
Richard Woolsey sits behind his modern-style, sleek, dark grey trimmed in strips of shining brushed nickel desk, watching people move in and out and all around the Command Center beyond the short bridge connecting his office to that area. Being here, sitting here, it’s really all he can do…wait. And make sure that nothing else disastrous happens to their city or its other personnel. In spite of everything there are three other gate teams still offworld. Two that stand a pretty good chance of running into hostilities that would require emergency backup to them, one of those teams at the hands of the Genii, the other at the hands of the Wraith. The village they’re in is because their investigating a nearby village that is believed to be inhabited by Wraith worshippers. It’s purely scout, but there’s always the chance that a worshipped Wraith vessel or party through the Stargate could enter their picture and that could be hazardous to the team. With the Genii, it isn’t exactly like they haven’t run into something vaguely familiar to this with the Lucian Alliance back in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Genii are bullying farmers for a share of their crops in exchange for ‘protection’ from the Wraith. Richard Woolsey, as well as the team exploring the planet, doubts very highly that the Genii are going to do any protecting of these farmers and are most likely using them to bolster the Genii’s own foodstores and abandon the people to the Wraith in order to cover their own behinds. Woolsey had ordered the team to stay with the farmers and try to get the Genii to lose interest in them.
The third team is checking on some interesting new indigenous flora on a habitable moon that bore a striking resemblance to what you’d imagine Earth to look like if there had never been humanity on it, untouched, unspoiled. There should be no danger of Wraith or any other outside threats, but there is always the chance that someone could trip and hurt themselves, encounter hostile and previous unknown animal life, or hostile plants who were previously unknown to be hazardous, or someone could take a tumble and fall from a great height, something could fall on one of them…anything really, anything you could possibly imagine going wrong on a hiking or camping trip. There is always a chance for any three of the teams or all three of them to run into trouble. And Richard had to be ready to be in charge of the situation should it arise in the middle of the one here. So here he is, sitting at his desk. Waiting and watching.
He sees Teyla step into the Center, move through it, and walk across the bridge to his office. His solid, clear glass office door slides open at her approach and she enters. Her expression the entire time of her approach is not a happy one. His expression becomes grimmer. He doesn’t have to gesture, she takes the vinyl-covered, velvet-backed, light grey, modern-styled guest armchair directly across from him.
“I take it there’s no good news,” he says before she can tell him that there isn’t any.
Teyla Emmagan takes a deep frustrated breath, “It is not exactly bad news. Jennifer and Ronon’s research has uncovered that there is indeed a link between the void in which the Ascended reside and the hologram room, it has been confirmed by Radek and his team’s analysis of the area both inside and around the room.”
Normally that would be interpreted as good news, “But…?” Richard leads.
“Radek believes, and Jennifer and Ronon’s analysis confirms it, that the connection is very similar to those made between the stargates.”
“It’s a wormhole,” Woolsey’s stunned.
“No,” Teyla corrects, “but once a connection is made between the void and where we are, it is one way from the direction of whoever initiates the link.”
Richard’s shoulders lower, “Like travel through the wormholes.”
Teyla nods. And that is how normally good news can be bad news. Richard takes in this new information, and he doesn’t like it anymore than she does. Hours, hours, and this is all that they have to show for it. He leans back in his chair, he stifles the sigh he wants to issue. Richard angles the chair off to the right and his nearer hand comes to rest on top of the somewhat bare, shiny glass surface of his desk. His uniform is no longer the taut, formal, unruffled thing he prefers it be, to look like, it rumples at his stomach, collarbone, and biceps. It’s not meticulous. A mirror of how he feels, how this situation has made him feel…But being ruffled is all part of the job, a major part of this job especially. Not unlike his old job. Working for the I.O.A. meant that everywhere he went, he encountered nothing but animosity, anger, and in some instances flat out hatred. And each and every time, Richard Woolsey never let the…adversity keep him from doing his job and doing it to the best of his abilities.
“So…,” he finally speaks, “we can’t establish a connection to the Void, can we?”
Teyla shakes her head, reluctantly, “No. We cannot.”
“But,” he puts out there, “the Ascended can establish a connection to our realm of existence through that room.”
“Yes,” Teyla likewise confirms. But she senses something in Richard’s voice. His tone is different. Not anything like Teyla’s own tone of voice. He sounds more like he is hypothesizing. Giving the finer details of a puzzling situation, laying out the cards as her Earth friends would say, not resolved to the situation being out of their collective hands. He knows something, something in what she has told him has sparked his mind.
A pause. Teyla waits. He is considering whatever he is thinking further. She does not want to disrupt him for fear that he is on to something useful.
“You know what this means, don’t you?”
She looks at him, her amber brows furrowed in confusion and question. Still she waits.
“Our people were taken intentionally, not by some spatial anomaly that just so happened to occur, but by an Ascended being creating that anomaly. Whoever it was, the Ascended wanted our people. And we’re at the mercy of whoever that Ascended being is. They are at the Ascended’s mercy.”
Teyla’s brows soften into understanding and something else. The idea is not welcomed or looked on kindly by either of them. The grim set of Richard’s mouth says as much.
Richard, with his eyes still locked with Teyla’s, continues, “Now the true question is why?”
* * *
The torchlight flickers, casting distrustful shadows all over the room. Ganos Lal is waiting for them in the middle of the room. She may be standing straight and erect, a tall elegant figure for them. Her fingers are folded tightly into balled fists be her side. Her sparkling eyes no longer have this enchantingly mischievous gleam to them, there’s no light in them at all, just worry. Anxious, high anxiety worry. Her entire body gives the impression of a rubber band being stretched to its capacity. She’s practically vibrating. Even as they enter the room and Lorne’s measured and expressive eyes make contact with Sheppard’s, the Ancient woman keeps looking at the part of the room back behind her. The wall she had disappeared through.
“What is it,” the Lieutenant Colonel asks sternly. Already on alert because this woman basically broke one of his strongest soldiers, but also because scared Ancients usually mean bad things. And scared Ascended Ancients…well, that is just a whole new level of bad that he really doesn’t want to be dealing with right now.
For a moment Ganos is spooked by Sheppard speaking. Actually starting at the sound of his voice. The SGC soldiers exchange glances between each other, whatever had gone on while she was away, whatever she had gone off to try and handle, has gone from bad to worse.
“I’ve made a terrible mistake,” she tells them. Her voice quavering. Breathless. She’s trying to hold herself together in front of them just like Kenmore had tried and failed to do in front of Sheppard, but, like Kenmore, she’s failing at it and like Kenmore, she’s going down by it without a fight.
“Oh good,” McKay retorts sarcastically.
They all look at him, he shrinks under they’re gazes, especially Sheppard’s glare. Suddenly Ganos practically jumps out of her skin, staring behind her again. Moving away from the back wall. Her hand clutching at her chest. She’s gasping. She’s really gasping for air. That get’s to Sheppard. Fail.
“What mistake,” he asks hurriedly. His eyes darting back and forth between the back of her head and the far wall she’s so afraid of.
“I thought I could hide you from them.” She gasps.
“From who exactly?”
“The Others,” she sounds like a woman come face to face with the horrific monster in a movie you really don’t want to see alone late at night. Even if those movies are John’s personal favorites, he doesn’t want to be in one of them.
But Sheppard already knew who ‘The Others’ are, what he wants to know is, “Which of the Others exactly?”
“I thought I could hide you from them, but your powers, they can sense you,” she breathes the last sentence. Totally ignoring John.
Holy crap. “Which of the Others,” he sharply demands. He wants to grab the woman and shakes her, but…
She finally looks back at them. She’s terrified. Bright beautiful eyes wide. John had never really thought about what it would feel like to him to see an Ancient freaked out of their mind. There had been that group of frightened Ancients in the time dilated sanctuary, but they hadn’t ascended yet. They were mortal, they still had things to fear. The same things he feared. Like death. What could an Ascended Ancient fear? What could those Others possibly do to her? What punishment is worse than death? The thought jumps into his mind. The punishment that never ends…and never can end.
“It’s all of them,” it rushes out of Ganos’s mouth, begging them to understand. To know. To run. “Ursula, they’re after you.”
Sheppard stares at the woman. He’s not sure he can help his people get out of this. Rodney, slack jawed and scared eyes, stares at the wall Ganos is so terrified of. He doubts that he’ll be able to get them out of this. Lorne glares at Ganos. He knew. He knew when she showed up when they turned that corner that this was going to be bad. Really bad. Never when this woman showed up was it ever good for the humans she was talking to. Ursula, frozen, just stares at the woman. What has she gotten into? What was she thrown into? What about my son?
Suddenly Ganos jumps again, blatantly knocking back into John. He catches her. She’s absolutely riveted by the far wall that had been behind her. Like it’s come alive but she’s the only one that can see it. That’s familiar. John gets the distinct impression that the hideous monster has arrived. Or at the very least the horde is coming their way.
“We must go. You must go,” Ganos paws back at Sheppard, “I cannot protect you here. It, it was stupid of me to try.”
Before they can say anything, they’ve never heard an Ancient refer to anything that the Ancient’s ever done as ‘stupid’ before, Ganos quickly turns and begins shoving them towards the door. One of her hands intentionally catching Kenmore and shoving her back to the door. They obey. Leaving the room. Ganos last but certainly not least. She gives the wall one last terrified look before fleeing. The door closes of its own accord behind her with a jarring, thunderous slam.
With the boom still ringing in her ears and reverberating all around her, Ganos Lal quickly rushes to the front of the line of human soldiers and scientists. Her cream and white gown fluttering behind her. Making her look like an angel on the run. They are running. Fast. The Ascended Ancient’s anxiety putting them on greater edge than usual. Lorne taking up six then Rodney, Kenmore, and Sheppard at the twelve behind Ganos.
“Why are they after Urs? What’d she ever do to them except be born? Which is their doing I might add,” Lorne shouts.
“They want to destroy her,” Ganos answers.
The group freezes and its a few yards before she realizes that she’s not being followed anymore. She stops. Looks back at them. They’re not moving. None of them. She rushes back to them.
“Come. Come. You must come now. You do not have time for this,” she bursts at them.
“What do you mean they want to destroy her,” Lorne’s pissed.
“They made her,” Sheppard snaps just as pissed.
“Please,” Ganos begs them. Her eyes darting to the storage room’s direction, “I will explain it to you on the way, but we must go now! They’re coming!”
Against his better judgment, and his own urge to know, Sheppard nods. Ganos turns. John runs with the rest of his pseudo team behind her. At the corner she ushers Sheppard around and goes with him. Once again she leads the way. Only this time, forget running, they’re sprinting.
“Okay, you said you were going to explain. So explain,” John demands. He hadn’t nodded for nothing.
“The reason we kept the experiment going was out of duty. But we are determined to keep the highest concentration of Ancient in the descendants as possible.”
“Wait,” McKay speaks up already out of breath of course, “if, if you’re doing that…wouldn’t it be…be better to have a…half-human, half-Ancient and a…a full Ancient…have children together…That way their…their offspring…would be…three-quarters…Ancient.”
This time Ganos abruptly stops and looks back at Rodney. Her expression’s horrified. Eyes wide, Mona Lisa mouth gaped. But by something clearly different than the Others currently hunting their asses down.
“That would never be possible,” she gasps, “No Ancient would ever agree to any sort of a sexual encounter like that.”
“Why not,” McKay presses, and taking the time to catch his breath while doubled over, “You want as close to racial purity as possible, that would be it. Wouldn’t it? Just keep breeding the experimental offspring with full blooded Ancients.”
“Because I’m a half-breed,” Kenmore answers bitterly for Ganos. “Huh? No full Ancient would ever sleep with something like me, would they? It’s too much like bestiality to you people.”
Morgan LeFay looks indignant, recovering some measure of that statuesque arrogant haughtiness from before, Bane of Camelot indeed, “I would not put it that way, but…We do not associate with lesser beings, why would we mate with them?”
The Ancient turns and starts running again. Leading the way. Again reluctantly, John leads their group to follow her. But the thought rings in his head, Bitch. And, why do people worship these guys? What’s so great about them? I bet if anyone ever took the time we’ve just taken to talk to one of them, that urge to worship would become a definite urge to kick their asses.
“So you could have had a higher concentration, it’s just…,” Rodney won’t let it drop.
“No Ancient would ever stoop so low as to screw anything even remotely human,” Evan bites.
“Is that why they want to kill her? With her around it’s hard to hide the scandal.” John can’t bring himself to let it drop either. And his tone of voice is just as biting as Lorne’s.
“They want to destroy her because…There are some of us who believe you should be left alone, treated like any other human. But there are others who believe that you…your creation…is an abomination. Something unnatural. Something that needs to be put down.”
And Bitch just keeps getting worse…They stop again. But this time all of them at once. SGC members at the end of their ropes and thinking that maybe they should just stop running period and let the Others punish this woman as badly as she’s thinking they will. Except there’s that whole they also want to kill Kenmore thing and are as likely to kill the rest of them too just to clean up their mess. Witnesses. None of them are about to let that happen. Let Ganos Lal/Morgan LeFay go down, sure. But take themselves down with her, hell no.
But the Ascended woman is oblivious to their emotions and cautiously approaches the turn in the hallway. She had started sensing that the Others are trying to outflank them, come at them from two sides. When she yelled at the humans she’d brought here that she would explain everything if they would just come with her, she had simply needed to get these humans to move. But, just as it had been when talking to them, it is proving far more difficult than she had anticipated. They keep stopping, disliking what she’s telling them or causing her to stop because what they’re saying is so disgusting itself.
With all of these stops and starts taking up precious time, the Others may already be out in front by now. She checks the way. It’s clear but in the Void, that does not mean anything. If the Others are already prepared, then they are all only running in circles in this fortress she created to temporarily house and protect them while she tried to warn Ursula of the Others’ intentions towards her. The information has been passed along although most assuredly not in the way Ganos had originally intended, but none of this has gone on in the way she had intended when she started. Hopefully the population among the Others that share her opinions and views on this matter will hold off the rest of the Others in order to give her enough time. Buy them those precious few moments back. She turns back to the humans.
“We are going to have to be quick about this. This is the difficult part,” she informs them.
“I am not a freak,” Kenmore growls again through gritted teeth.
Ganos turns to look at the Lieutenant. The Ancient’s expression is out of the blue maternal.
“No child,” she says as calmly affectionate as a mother or even a kindly grandmother, “you are not. You were made, yes, but there is nothing unnatural about you except for the experiment that originally set the process that brought you about in motion. There is nothing wrong with you or your son—“
Kenmore lunges at her again, “You stay away from my son!”
Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard stops his subordinate in time, but Ganos Lal is not taken aback by any of it. She remembers fearing for the safety of her own son when the Wraith attacked the city. He was one of Moros’s pupils, the elder Ancient’s assistant, and Moros was the head of their Council at the time and was extraordinarily inclined not to back down from anyone, or anything. Extraordinarily stubborn even in the face of death. Once back on Earth, her son, Medraut, although she understood that Earth legend and history as well as SG-1 call him Mordred, continued to be Moros, the famous Merlin’s assistant…and that damnable man led her child down a dark path. A path that her son, her only child, quickly discovered was not what it seemed, not what Moros had told him it would be. A path leading to a weapon that would destroy all Ascended beings in a galaxy. A path resulting in the death of her son as he tried to stop that weapon from happening.
Her child never Ascended as she had, but at least Ganos had been spared the pain of watching him die an even more terrible death at the hands of the plague that wiped out many of their people. She had arrived at her child’s side too late, she couldn’t even help him try to Ascend in his final moments…but she got the grateful chance to hold him and comfort him in her arms during his final minutes…and through his last breath…her precious child’s last breath…And in this very Void, Ganos had volunteered to hunt down Moros and stop his continuing experiments on Ascended beings-killing weaponry which had become even more dangerous and unapproved by the rest them here. She wanted to hunt down and stop the man who had led her child into death…
“Whatever you may think of us, there are some here, very few I admit, but we are dedicated to protecting you and your son,” she tells the Lieutenant.
“And where were you when my husband died! Where! What protection was there when that damn weapon exploded! Where were any of you to protect him when his body was burning! When he was blown apart!” Kenmore’s snapped again. Rodney watches her. As does Sheppard.
The tears come again, this time hot and angry. No bawling. Just infuriating pain.
“He,” she points back at Lorne, “used a fire extinguisher on what was left of my husband after our friends, our family stopped me from going into those flames and pulling him out. How dare you stand there and say you protected us! You protected yourselves!”
“We did what we could, my dear—“
“We are nothing to you,” Kenmore throws back in her face.
“—But we are not perfect despite our existence on a higher plain than you.”
Kenmore’s not buying it. No one is. Well, except for the imperfect part.
“Simply know that we are trying. In the strictest sense of the rules, we are trying. We really are doing all that we can.”
Kenmore’s still not buying what’s being sold. But the rest of their group is, a little.
Ganos goes around the corner, rushes forward, and reaches out to the castle’s front door. She opens it and peers out into the black, bleak landscape beyond. The lowered wooden drawbridge over a moat of nothing. The desolate rocks. Whole galaxies acting like pinpricks of starlight.
As far as she can tell, nothing is there. But her silhouette prickles and crackles without sound here and there all over her body with flashes of her Ascended golden glowing aura which she did not need to use here. They are indications of the coming storm of the Others hunting down the prey she’s trying to hide by latching on to her own personal Ascended presence in their realm…But that storm is not here yet. They are busy rallying. She looks back at those she has made the mistake of bringing here, trapping here. Those she has sworn as her duty to protect in this Void…