Fandoms: Stargate Atlantis w/Highlander: the Series
Picks up shortly after where the previous story: "Devil Hedges His Bets"
Prompt: #26 teammates
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 belongs to MGM Productions, Gekko Film Corp, as do all the characters. Highlander belongs to Panzer/Davis Productions.
The title was inspired by the Robinson Jeffers poem by the same name. The story picks up shortly after where the previous one “Devil Hedges His Bets” left off. References events from the 2nd season of Stargate and references events from the 5th Season of Highlander: the Series.
Sateda, present day
“Hurt Hawks” by Karen
When it rains it pours and never has that old adage been more apt than now. He does not know how he came to arrive in this unfamiliar place, and this point it really does no matter all that much. If the slowly fading aftershock of explosions in the distance is any indication, whereabouts are soon going to be the least of his concerns.
Standing up in the midst of a pile of rubble and the remains of what was once a well-furnished house the dark-haired well-built man squared his wide and muscular shoulders and took stock of his situation.
He was no stranger to being knocked unconscious in one place and waking up in a completely different one, but if that was the case, then where the guards, the threats, then?
Duncan MacLeod attempted to move around disturbing the pile of rubble that he had been lying on prior to regaining coconsciousness in this unfamiliar place.
Incredibly stiff he made a brief attempt to get the kinks out of his muscles and then began checking all the available exits and entrances. To the northeast he again heard a high-pitched whine and throbbing and the sounds of booted footsteps on packed ground.
“Hello!” Is anyone there!”
While waiting for a response he almost instinctively checked if his sword was still in its sheath strapped to his back. Reassured on that score Duncan continued his
reconnaissance, finding nothing else of use in the abandoned dwelling Duncan decided to go outside begin to search.
He needed much more information with which to work and one empty house was not enough evidence to draw a concrete conclusion but it was obvious that something terribly wrong had occurred her to draw away the inhabitants.
In his very long life Duncan had become more than familiar with the many reasons why a town, or a village, or even an entire city would be forced to evacuate.
And if what he had seen thus far then the extensive and wide spread destruction had been caused by more than the effects of a natural disaster; perhaps it had been famine, or disease….”
Duncan thoughts ran through the gamut of all the reasons for this kind of mass evacuation, and in the back of his mind his own memories of other such scenes played out before his mind’s eye. Images and memories from his past crowded out the immediate danger.
It was only when a high-pitched whine, still distant but closely in on his position brought him back to the present that he crossed the space to the door and then stepped out of the door and into the eerily lit twilight.
“A war happened here,” muttered Duncan glancing all around and wondering what his next move should be. It was at that moment that he realized that if a war had been fought here, no matter how long ago, there should be more than an empty silence of the wind blowing through the crevices and empty windows of the houses.
However, there was hardly any life stirring, no animals, no bird; nothing. But Duncan had not survived as long as he had throughout the centuries to let down his guard. He had distinctly heard that explosion and those booted footsteps; those were certainly not figments of his imagination.
High above where one man labored in ignorance hovered a deadly ship whose occupants were only slightly more deadly than their vessel.
The Wraith did not miss much when it came to their own private hunting territory and the ship burning through the outer atmosphere of world of Sateda could hardly escape their attention or fail to peak their interest. Tracking it from high orbit above the planet’s surface they realized that there was only one humanoid life-sign aboard the damaged ship and its engines were failing and it would soon fall into the planet’s gravity field.
If the ship survived reentry, which was unlikely, it hardly mattered. It’s occupant, however, was a different story. Yes, it was only one male humanoid, but they had time to kill.
With a brisk nod; the decision was made to send only a half-size hunting party after the ship’s occupant.
The hunting party had then beamed down the surface of the planet and began to fan out, weapons at the ready. The target was a human male, age approximately in his late 40’s although it was difficult to tell for certain due to some kind of unidentified electro magnetic field that had been interfering with their sensors from the moment they had locked on to the derelict space craft. Not that they cared all that much: one target was much like another in the end.
After all, as far as the Wraith was concerned they were three classifications of human or humanoids if you preferred: the living, the hunted, and the soon to be dead. Some they simply killed, others they hunted.
With minimal instructions delivered in the clipped, uninflected tones the leader of the hunting party began to move adopting a long-limbed pace much akin to that a of a predator better suited to the dry and open steppes of Africa; it ate up kilometers quickly and efficiently and it carried very little sound to any would be prey in the immediate area.
Duncan MacLeod had been through several revolutions that had taken place in three continents in his just over five centuries and had seen disasters and war aplenty, some more recent than others, but he would truthfully admit that he had never seen anything like the pallid fish-belly complexioned beings that had cornered him approximately two miles east of the deserted village. To his immediate left were long undulating grassy plains and much farther in the distance were the first of a series of what he had taken to be mountains.
“Who, or rather, what the hell are you?” demanded Duncan.
“You do not know?” inquired the apparent leader.
“If did, I wouldn’t have to ask, now would I?”
“We are Wraith; you are prey.”
“I like your math,” replied Duncan in a clipped tone of voice. “The only problem with it is that according to my calculations one and two in this case does not add up to two.”
“It wishes to fight back.
“Damn it”! Duncan said, at last his patience with the entire crazy situation in general fraying apart and his patience with being regarded as nothing more than prey fraying apart at the seams.
As he had told these self-proclaimed Wraith, the math was exceedingly simple. He could continued to run, or he could stand and fight. Under the circumstances; it was open country for as far as the eye could see, he had already been trying outmaneuver the pursuit for the better part of two, or was it three days now, and there were only half a dozen of them. Sure, they had him outnumbered and outgunned, but never let it be said that Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod went out without a fight.
“Come on, then!” Duncan challenged and coaxed them on, wondering if they would simply allow the leader to have first crack at the prey, or if they would charge him enmasse like a pack of starving wolves. While he was considering that Duncan reached over and across his back shoulders for the sword that he wore strapped there. If he was going to stand any chance at all he needed to whittle down their numbers and he needed to get rid of those energy guns, whatever they were.
As he shook his head to clear it of the inevitable cobwebs and the weariness, forcing himself to focus his concentration on the task at hand; Duncan did have to wonder if this entire confrontation was not something he had dreamed up in his subconscious. Another thought surfaced up: His one-time best friend and protégé Richie Ryan would be having a field day with this. That is, if he were still alive. For instance, what do I should I make of pale-skinned ghouls hunting down people in the middle of a barren wasteland toting around laser guns?’
The answer, if there were one, was not immediately forthcoming and Duncan pushed it down and shoved it into a back corner of his mind.
He had been correct in his assumption that they would come for him enmasse forcing him to make almost constant turns with his sword held out in front of him in order to keep them at bay. He had never fought any one armed with laser weapons before and the few times that he miscalculated or took a misstep the blazing trail of fiery heat energy singed his skin and tore even more tears in his flesh and clothing that had already seen much abuse.
Duncan staggered back to his feet, unsteady and a bit dizzy using his grip on the hilt of his sword to keep his balance. In the time he had spent fighting, he could no longer keep track of the passage of time; he had managed to whittle down the half a dozen to three.
Standing less than one meter from where he was in the process of pulling himself out of a ditch the leader waited for him to regain his feet and resume the fight. “Tell me something, human,’ he hissed.
Duncan did not immediately reply as he staggered to his feet and yanked his sword out of the damp grassy ground. “I’m not dead yet.”
“Yes, I noticed. I find it curious why anyone would chose to fight rather than submit to the inevitable, and why you should chose to do so, in any case, with such, such, a primitive weapon.”
“It’s my life,” retorted Duncan sullenly.
“Yes, and under the circumstances I am surprises that you are still alive.”
“I would like to keep it that way,” said Duncan.
“It can be arranged,” replied the Wraith leader, “But I warn you know, that you will not much like it,” then he cocked his head as if thinking something through. “Then again, if Yandro is correct in his initial assumptions of you; you might come to like it. Very much.”
The sneer on the other face was a twisted wriggly thing. Duncan, not for the first time since he had arrived on this world, wondered what the hell he had gotten himself into, and maybe, just maybe he would better discover the rules of this ‘brave new world, before they ended up costing him his head and with it his very existence.
Evening at the Pegasus Base
“Thank you all for coming at such short notice,” began Dr. Elizabeth Weir. “I am sorry that I had to pull you away from more urgent business.”
“Well, I can only speak to my own experience, but unless I am given unlimited access to the lab I very much doubt that I can successfully replicate enough quantities of the ATA gene in order to cover out entire population,” said Rodney McKay with a sniff as he took his customary place around the table.
“Can it, Rodney,” whispered Sheppard in an soft but warning undertone.
Seated next to him Dr. Carson Beckett nudged Rodney with an elbow.
“Go on, lass,” added Beckett
Teyla and Ronon seated down that table at the other end both nodded.
“Thank you, as I was saying, Dr. Zelenka has just informed me that they have just completed running initial tests on what they believe is another Ancient weapon. If they are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them, it might help find an alternative power force so we don’t have to rely so heavily on the ZPMS.”
“I can get it to work,” Rodney replied.
“”The Ancients couldn’t get it to work. What makes you think that you can?,” remarked Sheppard.
Seated at his place at the long narrow conference table Richie Ryan, feeling uncomfortable and yet completely confident of his own permanent place among all of these forceful people squirmed in his seat and glanced at Ronon Dex; who had taken him under his wing.
“Look, I don’t know about the rest of you. But I’ve been over and over those initial calculations so many times that I could recite them in my sleep. Nothing is going to go wrong,” exclaimed Rodney nearly falling out of his chair in the mid exclamation.
“May I remind you, Rodney, that there is a fine line between over confidence and actual ability. Face it, this just might be one of those times,” she replied.
“I ….”Rodney began and then trailed off as Ronon’s very large hand clamped over his mouth. “Shut up or I will find a way to do it for you.”
“Ronon,” interrupted Teyla in her quiet but persuasive manner. “That will not be necessary.
Richie was listening to the interchange with the utmost concentration but with the suddenness of a sucker punch to the midsection he felt the unmistakable crinkling sensation of the sensation know among Immortals as the Buzz; which was very strange and unsettling mainly because in the last year or so he had been the only Immortal on the base.
As he swooned and his twitching and squirming around in his chair drew the attention of Dr. Beckett: in his mind’s eye he could not escape the flashing images of his former friend and mentor,. Duncan MacLeod in danger. And not just the usual run of the mill kind of danger: but face to face with the Wraith.
He shook his head to clear it of the inevitable cobwebs as the images and the tingling sensation that had definitely lodged somewhere in his lower back gradually subsided, he shook off Dr. Beckett’s firm grasp but he could not so easily shake off the worried look in the doctor’s dark eyes. “What ails ye, lad?” asked the older man.
“Is the kid all right,” asked Ronon.
“Is he technically still a kid,” asked Rodney unhelpfully. “I mean, he is Immortal after all.”
“Shut up, Rodney,” replied Beckett.
“I….I’m not sure how to explain this. But for an split second there. I could have sworn that felt as if were standing right next to my old friend, Duncan MacLeod. And, as weird and as crazy as thoughts, and believe it’s pretty crazy. He was standing right there, as plain as I can see all of you right now.”
“What did he want,” asked Teyla wondering if Richie’s unique physiology might actually have something similar in nature to her own genetic ability to sometimes sense the presence of the Wraith’s approach. The others might consider such things nothing more than the byproducts of an over-active imagination.
“He was there.” Richie said although if pressed he most likely could not have explained in any kind of coherent fashion exactly why he felt so strongly about this.
“All right,” Elizabeth Weir remarked as she finger-combed the worst of the snarls from her hair. “For the sake of argument, what did he want?”
“He was asking for my help,” replied Richie with a gulp and his voice breaking a little on the last syllable of the last word.
“The Wraith could be anywhere by now,” added Beckett as he checked Richie as best he could by touch and looks; the initial concern having faded away, but the line that creased his brow told him that he was still very much concerned.
Richie glanced at Teyla and Ronon and wondered if what he was about to say would only confirm for them that he was crazy or cement his own doubts that was crazy. “Sateda. He’s on Sateda.”
“That is impossible,” remarked Teyla. “Sateda has been deserted.
“I should know that for a fact,” interrupted Ronon Dex. “Better than anyone else in this room. If the kid says his old friend is on Sateda.” He paused and exchanged significant glances with all of the others gathered around the table. “I say we check it out.”
“Ronon?” Richie said, surprised and a bit overwhelmed by Ronon’s show of support.
“All right,” Dr. Weir remarked, “Enough, Richie. Enough. “I’ll agree to send a small unit under the command of Colonel Sheppard
Sateda, present day
A puddle jumper landed within a half an hour’s walk from the coordinates that a life sign reading had been shown on their initial scan of the planet. Ronon Dex was apprehensive and a bit curious. His world had been evacuated upon reports that the Wraith were about to cull his planet; those who had not been evacuated in time or chose to remain should all be long dead by this time or harvested; the likelihood of any survivors on the planet at this late date was slim to none, or to borrow one of Colonel Sheppard’s Old Earth phrases: about as likely as a snowball’s chance in Hell.
So, as much as he wanted to believe that one of his people had survived, as much as he begun to trust Richie Ryan’s instincts, this mission very well could turn out to be a junket.
A mere sliver of a blade was all that separated Duncan MacLeod from either certain death or if the implications in the Wraith’s leader’s threat were realized a fate worse than death. At this point Duncan was not exactly certain which was worse. It was then that a piercing shrill shattered the unnatural stillness of the fall air on the grasslands.
A company of half a dozen uniformed and armed strangers approached and a man with short-cropped brown hair cut in military fashion knocked aside the deadly clutch of Duncan MacLeod’s Wraith attacker.
“Nobody said that you could use this planet as your own private hunting preserve,” said the brown-haired man. “From this moment on, Sateda is hereby off-limits to the Wraith.”
The Wraith leader so addressed merely blinked and barred his teeth an a venomous snarl.
“Colonel John Sheppard, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?”
“Oh, I think you know,” the man addressed Colonel Sheppard replied with a shrug. “And it’s Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard to you, Mister.”
“Mac!” cried Richie as he broke from the line and began to run toward where MacLeod lay gasping for air and attempting to reconcile this apparent last minute eleventh hour rescue. It might have been the light-headiness from the numerous wounds he had sustained or something else because he could have sworn despite the strange uniform, the military-style haircut and an solid confidence he had never truly seen before in the young man who had grasped him around his shoulders and begun to lift him to his feet; this was Richie Ryan who stood before him.
“Richie?,” asked Duncan uncertainly and in a hoarse whisper. “Is it really you?”
“Yeah, Mac,” Richie replied that devil-may-care off center grin firmly plastered on his face. “It’s me. Never thought you’d see me again, did you?”
“Never in a million years.”
A tall man with dread locks that MacLeod most definitely would never have classified as military ambled over and helped Richie carry MacLeod out of harms way. “Let me help you with him. Or we’ll need to rig up a stretcher sooner or later.”
A day or two later
“Sheppard,” said Richie, “Thanks for backing me up on this. I guess the others all thought I was crazy.”
“Not crazy, or well, not any crazier than anyone else around here. Sometimes I really do think that we ought to be receiving hazard pay on top of our regular salaries.”
“That’s something you gotta take up with the brass,” replied Richie.
“Don’t think I haven’t tried,” replied Sheppard. “Hey, Ryan, before I go, tell me something, this ‘hunch’ of yours it was more than a hunch. You guys got some kind of ‘connection’ or something. A deal that Immortals share, am I right?”
“He knows about us?” whispered MacLeod more nervously than would dare admit. There was so much about this ‘brave new world’ that he did know or understand.
“Mac, take it easy. It was kind hard not tell them and a lot of it they figured out on their own,” Richie said with a sigh.
“Yeah, but it works both ways. Back on Earth you had to be at least in each other’s immediate area for it, we call it the “Buzz.”, to be felt at all.”
“Richie, is it possible that you can satisfy Major Sheppard’s curiosity at some later date,” asked Macleod.
“Sure, sure, not a problem,” replied Sheppard. “Besides, no doubt you two have a lot of catching up to do,” remarked Sheppard as turned the corner. “Ryan, call me or Teyla if you need anything. “ With that he left Richie’s quarters and backed out the door into the hallway beyond.
Duncan MacLeod was grateful to Colonel John Sheppard for allowing him an opportunity to as Sheppard ‘catch up with his former student and friend, Richie Ryan, but there was so much left unresolved between them that Duncan MacLeod was not entirely certain that he was prepared for this moment. What would he say? How would Richie react? Would they have to fight, and if they did, would it come down to more than mere words?
“Richie!” MacLeod exclaimed almost but not quite able to believe the evidence of his own eyes. “You were, I thought … I killed…..” he trailed off into an awkward and uncomfortable silence.
“You,” Richie grinned. “At a loss for words. Never thought I’d live to see the day.”
“There’s the key word. How is it even possible?“
“Yeah, now that you mention it,” continued Richie in a quieter and more subdued tone. “Mac, now that we’ve got a moment alone like this, I have to tell ya,” he paused and reached up to finger comb the worst of the snarls out of his hear and then stopped before adding. “I don’t mind telling you this, back at the track when I saw you coming at me….I really thought it was the end you know what I mean?”
“We don’t have to talk about it, if you don’t want to,” hedged Duncan in an equally subdued tone.
“I want to. I mean, talk about it,” whispered Richie. “It’s complicated. But somehow, that bright white light that you hear everyone talk about in new age journals and what not going about near death experiences; I saw it.”
“Let us say, that I am familiar with the concept,” replied Duncan.
“Yeah, well. I guess common wisdom would say not to go into the white light, but then you know me?” Richie grinned and suddenly that oh so familiar devil-may-care grin was back and firmly plastered on his face creasing the lines around his mouth and eyes.
“As long as I’ve known you’ve never been one to follow conventional wisdom or common sense, why start now?” Duncan returned the grin and with that some but not all of the tenseness and the guilt of Richie’s death at his hands that he had been carrying around for so long that he could barely keep track of how one day blended into another began to slowly seep away.
Richie began to laugh and laugh. “I couldn’t have said it better myself. Say, you wouldn’t happen to have any of that Scottish brandy, would you?”
“No I kind left in a hurry, and forget to pack some. If I had known you had taken a fancy to the stuff…” Duncan trailed off once more.
Richie waved a hand and managed to stop laughing long enough to lean back in his chair in the quarters he had been assigned on the base. “Never mind, Mac. I was just kidding. But I think I know where I can get some. It’ll be like old times again.”
“Dr. Carson Beckett. You met him. He keeps a stash in one of the cabinets in his infirmary.”
“For medicinal purposes, no doubt?” MacLeod said with a grin.
“That, and for special occasions, “ replied Richie
“I would say that this ‘reunion’ qualifies as a special occasion.”
Continued in Chapter 5: Last Night on a Dying Earth