Title: To the Far Distant Shore
Series Order: 5
Banner Art: None
Word Count: 1,916
Weaving through the piles of gear and people packed into the halls of the SGC John sent his senses out, trying to find his Guide through the chaos. Scent stated that Rodney was ahead of him and enjoying himself as well as being slightly apprehensive. Add in a heartbeat that was tripping along at the pace that the Sentinel had learned meant excitement and John was satisfied that his Guide was having the time of his life.
Reaching the large room where the Stargate sat, John smiled genially to one and all as he made his way to the location he and his Guide had been assigned in the queue. Pausing slightly as he moved around yet another member of the of the science department, the Sentinel saw that Colonel Sumner was gearing up right next to Rodney’s backpack. Suppressing the need to snarl at the invasion of their space by force of will alone, John managed to exchange something close to small talk with the man. He really didn’t bother to control his mouth as he talked and so wasn’t all that surprised to notice the burst of burnt plastic smell that signaled Sumner’s irritation as the man moved away. The man had had a constant cloud of the scent surrounding him since he had been introduced to his new Sentinel/Guide Pair the week before. Pausing to once again reassure his partner via the Bond that everything was fine, John turned to face the Gate.
Thinking over the exchange, the Sentinel hoped that this wasn’t going to be the way things went once they were on the other side of the wormhole, but he wasn’t going to hold his breath. Shortly after meeting Colonel Sumner at one of the many planning meetings that had taken place before they had gotten the green light to go, John had decided that he really wasn’t all that impressed with the man. After careful thought, he realized it was because while the Colonel stated that he had worked with other Sentinel/Guide pairs, he seemed to be quiet ignorant of what to do with the Pair actually assigned to his forces.
A major factor highlighting the Colonel’s pervasive ignorance was his insistence on following the regular Marine Corps regulations concerning conduct between the two men. It didn’t seem to matter how many times General O’Neill or Dr. Jackson explained that the US Sentinel Corps played by a different rule book, Sumner continued to insist that John play by the Marine Corps one. And this was leading to a lot of stress on John’s part as he attempted to not react to the, hopefully, unintentional challenge to his Bond and his Guide. In addition to Sumner’s stubborn insistence on John and his Guide sleeping apart, he seemed have started a whisper campaign against the Sentinel for going after his original Guides. And that was more than enough to make any sane Sentinel growl and twitch. Because when you came right down to it, John was not the typical Air Force jockey and he was less than pleased to be treated as if he was. Which just went to prove that Sumner had absolutely no idea what he was doing with a Bonded Sentinel/Guide Pair?
Shaking off the bad mood, John sent a pulse of reassurance back up the Bond to Rodney. And while no true words were exchanged via the Bond, John could feel Rodney’s flash amusement and worry at what he had seen. Pushing another pulse of reassurance and love back up the Bond, John tried to get across that there really was no reason for his Guide to get upset at this point. They still had to get the Gate to connect to Atlantis, make sure it was stable and then confirm that Atlantis was habitable. They were going together and they would be okay.
Rodney knew that he wasn’t the one with the hyperactive senses, but he could almost smell the nerves and excitement coming off his fellow Expedition members. He could certainly feel the rise and fall of everyone’s emotions as they got closer to the designated time to attempt contact. The resulting surge of emotion, both good and bad, beating against his shields was causing him to clamp down on all of his own emotions. Rodney knew that when he exerted this much control, he came across as stiff necked prick and he could only hope that Elizabeth realized that this wasn’t his normal behavior.
When he felt John walk into the Gateroom, Rodney began to calm down and his shields began to firm up again. Watching as his Sentinel wove through the crowd, the Guide hummed lightly in appreciation. John was a very tall, lithe and graceful man who was managing to not bump into anyone despite the crowded conditions. Feeling the sudden surge of rage from his partner as he caught sight of Sumner, Rodney tried not to worry. From the surge of reassurance that came from his partner, he wasn’t all that successful.
Watching the wormhole appear was a huge source of satisfaction for him. He had known that using the ZPM would allow them to go to Atlantis and here was his proof. Waiting for the MALP to get through and report back was causing him to bounce a little in impatience and Rodney felt another flash of emotion from his Bondmate and this time it was amusement. Oh well.
When the all clear came through, Rodney made sure to grab his pack up and hustle down to the Gateroom floor to take his place in the queue. Tuning out Elizabeth as she made her speech, the Guide ran a professional eye over his Sentinel and saw that everything seemed to be in balance. Shrugging his shoulders he settled his pack more firmly against his back and placed his hand on John’s shoulder in preparation for going through the Gate. Just a few more minutes and they would be heading out for the adventure of a life time.
When John walked through the Gate into Atlantis, he immediately threw out a sensory net, trying to make the area it covered as large as he could to get as much information as possible. The sooner they knew what was surrounding them the better. Pausing lightly to process what he was receiving, the Sentinel started to pass the information onto his Guide.
Rotating through his senses, John started with the easiest first, sight. Sight had reported that the room was pitch black and lit only by the light of the wormhole as John stepped through and then moments later lights had started coming up from unknown sources. Scent and taste were coming back with a combined update of dry and slightly stale air, lightly burdened with minute particles of dust and a faint hint of mold. His hearing was simultaneously stating that there were numerous echoes as people moved around in empty rooms and hallways, and an underlying sound of water moving against something. Finally his sense of touch was saying that there the air was moving slowly and that was a fair amount of pressure being exerted against the room at large.
Moving up the stairs with Rodney, John paused as lights lit up the stairs under their feet and moved up ahead of them to the landing. Looking at his Guide, John shared a look of stunned disbelief. Neither of them was doing anything to turn the lights on, so it had to be an automatic function. Making their way up to the area at the top of the stairs, John hung back slightly to allow Rodney space to work. When a console turned on just as he passed it, he threw up his hands in innocence and protested that he hadn’t touched anything!
Because he really hadn’t. All he had done was step through the wormhole into a different world and here they were. There was so much trying to get his attention in what should have been an empty room that it was dizzying. And while the Chair in Antarctica had called to him to sit down in it, this City was trying to seduce him into melding with it. Leaning on his bond with Rodney, John did his best to ignore the murmurs at the edges of his mind.
For Elizabeth, finding out that Atlantis, the City of the Ancients was both underwater and out of power was turning out to be a major disappointment. No matter how she tried to spin it in her own mind, the whole situation had gone from bad to worse and there seemed to be no bright spots on the horizon. She had brought over one hundred people on what was supposed to have been the adventure of a lifetime and within hours it was turning into the type of horror movie she loathed.
When Sheppard suggested using the Gate to contact a planet in their current galaxy to use as an Alpha site, Elizabeth was willing to grasp at any straw, any option that would allow the Expedition a chance to come back to Atlantis. And although the MALP showed that the chosen planet was capable of supporting human life, she didn’t want to admit defeat by sending the Expedition through. Instead, trying to buy some time, she agreed with Colonel Sumner when he wanted to send an away team through to explore, but she was not going to okay sending Rodney through with his Sentinel. Thankfully Sumner didn’t bother to ask her why she was so reluctant to do so. Elizabeth knew that McKay was perhaps the best chance they had to figure out a way to both save Atlantis and possibly themselves from whatever it was that had sent the Ancients running back to Earth. So while it wasn’t something that normally done, she had to separate her Pair, had to trust that the Sentinel could hold it all together long enough to be able to survey a new world and that the Guide could deal with all the raging emotions that were flashing through those remaining behind.
And over the hours that the away team was gone, Elizabeth could only stand by and watch as Rodney became more and more frayed around the edges. As each member of his science team reported in and hope faded with each additional negative result she felt more and more depressed. There was so much here that they could learn and yet they needed to abandon it in order for it to survive.
When Sheppard and his team came back, Elizabeth was truly less than pleased to see that he had brought back more people to the City. And after catching the sharp glance that Rodney had thrown her, she knew that her spike of anger had been felt by the Guide. Not that it was something that really mattered at the moment. Dealing with the impending destruction of the City was the important thing right now.
Thinking later of the moments following the arrival of the Athosian’s to Atlantis, Elizabeth could never really put them together in any logical manner. There were flashes of her shouting at Sheppard, of falling to the ground as it moved under her feet and feeling movement. The next moment that was clear in her memory was seeing the sun shine in through the stained glass windows facing the Gate. It looked as if they now had the time they so desperately needed.