II. Four Conversations About One Thing
“Do we have enough C-4?” Dawn questioned, looking at the hive ship displayed on screen in dismay. “That’s really big.”
“Yes, Dawn.” Rodney exclaimed. “We’ve done this a few times, you know.”
“Flown into a hive ship with just a bit of C-4 that you want to attach to their power source in order to magnify the explosion? You’ve done this before, and that doesn’t worry you?”
“Dawn,” Rodney shook his head. “I understand that you have doubts about the magical properties of C-4, that you’d rather have Willow do some of her mojo and just make the Wraith ship disappear—but we can’t do that.”
“Oh, I know,” Dawn retorted. “I’m not so kindergartener who doesn’t understand the meaning of the words ‘secret’ and ‘identity’.”
“Then why are you still bothering me about this?”
Dawn took a deep breath. “Because Ronon is going to be the one walking around a Wraith ship, unprotected by the team, in order to deliver the damn C-4.”
“Yes, well, Ronon volunteered. He wants the Wraith dead, and knows this is a legitimate way of going about the task.” Rodney didn’t even look up from his modifications during this speech, instead using his tablet to focus on the blueprints of a Wraith hive-ship that the Ancients had kindly left behind in their database.
“Screw this,” Dawn responded. “I’m going to go to the mess.”
“Bring me back some pudding?” Rodney asked, absently. “I could use some sugar—I can feel my hyperglycemia kicking in.”
“Fine,” Dawn muttered more to herself as she left the lab. Scientists knew nothing about what it was like to be in the middle of a good worry.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” Dawn asked Sheppard once she entered the mess. He had been sitting in the corner, staring off into space.
“Is what safe?” John didn’t look away from the corner he was staring into: instead, he mechanically ate the food in front of him without even checking to see how much made it on his spoon.
Dawn stamped her foot in anger. “The whole letting Ronon wander around a Wraith hive ship with some C-4 in order to blow the entire thing up.”
“It has to be Ronon—the Wraith think we’re dead, remember? Ronon isn’t associated with Atlantis so if the Wraith see him, they’ll think he’s an independent factor.”
Dawn didn’t say a word for a second, instead settling down in a chair opposite Sheppard and biting into her pie. She chewed and swallowed, before calmly taking two more bites. “I didn’t ask for the rational behind the plan, Colonel Sheppard. I asked if it was safe.”
“Hmmm?” John finally looked away from the wall and noticed Dawn had a frightfully calm expression on her face. He’d been warned about that look by nearly all of her friends, including her sister, before Dawn became part of the Atlantis expedition. And now it was directed at him.
“Yeah, he’ll be safe,” John finally responded, looking Dawn calmly in the eye. “Why are you worrying, anyway? We’ve done this tons of times.”
Dawn didn’t move a muscle; her face didn’t tick, her eyes didn’t widen and her mouth didn’t flutter into a brief smile or frown. “You’re asking me why I care if a mission is safe? Where the hell is your mind at, Colonel?”
Sheppard hastily finish the food before him, not responding to Dawn’s inquiry. He had just slammed down the last bite when he stood and began to back away from the table. “Gotta go—Weir needs me to go over the last minute preparations for the mission.”
Dawn nodded, glaring at Sheppard for not answering her questions regarding the mission. It didn’t matter though—there were other people who would explain. She’d make sure of it.
“Dr. Beckett?” Dawn hesitantly stepped into the infirmary, looking around at all the empty beds. She took a quick second to thank TPTB because none of the slayers were injured or hurt—she’d had reservations about loaning a few slayers out to the military, had reservations about the language involved: loaning a few slayers out implied ownership and possessiveness. She didn’t want the New and Improved Watcher’s Council to go down that path.
“Aye—yes Dawn?” She looked around and finally spotted Dr. Beckett in his office, glaring at a medical file and muttering obscenities under his breath.
“Busy?” she questioned—patients came before anything, including irrational worrying about a team mate.
Beckett shook his head before setting the folder down. “Just marveling at Rona’s medical history. Take a seat.” Dawn nodded her ascent and gracefully sat down across from the doctor. “What can I do for you, today?”
Dawn took a breath before letting it out, slowly. She had learned methods of controlling her anger after one of the newbie slayers had destroyed Dawn’s room in a fit of anger. Deep, calming breaths were the key to not screaming about the injustice of a situation.
“I was wondering how safe this mission is—Ronon wandering around a Wraith Hive ship with some C-4 that he can attach to a power source to blow it up.”
Carson looked at Dawn in confusion. “I don’t think any of the missions are particularly sane, but that’s not my call. You should be talking with Elizabeth or Sheppard.”
Dawn sighed and unconsciously slumped back into the chair. “I’ve already talked with Sheppard, and he just ran away from me. And I’ve talked with Rodney, but he didn’t even bother looking up from the schematics of the ship.” She took another deep, calming breath. “I understand that the ship is threatening an entire planet, and something needs to be done—but can’t we just use Asgard beaming technology and put a nuke on there or something?”
Dr. Beckett took a moment to look at the girl in front of him. Technically, she wasn’t a girl, she was a grown woman, but there was an innocence about her that defied all explanations. He knew what she had been, how she had grown up, why she was on Atlantis now and he couldn’t help but marvel at her strength. She had lost so much, but still she fought.
“You know as well as I do, girlie, that the Wraith have added to their protective shields so beaming is pretty much impossible.”
Dawn muttered obscenities under her breath before smiling and settling down. “Yes, I know. But why does Ronon have to walk in there. Surely if we just have him drop off a nuke and get the hell out of there it would be safer for him and the success of the mission.”
“Dawn, I really don’t know the details of most missions. You’d be better talking with Weir or Teyla.” Dr. Beckett looked earnest, but sad. Dawn nodded, stood and left the room. The silence was deafening.
“Teyla?” Dawn interrupted the Athosian woman as she practiced with her sticks. “Do you have a minute?”
Teyla threw her sticks to Dawn and grabbed another pair from the nearby bench. “I have to practice, but you can talk while we fight.”
Dawn toed her shoes off and stepped onto the mat, bowing slightly to Teyla as was her custom. She’d been taught various forms of defending herself after Sunnydale. Buffy…Dawn shuddered and completely dropped the thought. No thinking of Buffy, or the others. Focus instead on now.
Before long, the figures were a blur of motion, poetic in their simplistic attacks. Dawn aimed for the three critical areas on a human—kneecaps, lower back, shoulders. If she could hit one of those three locations with enough power, she could possibly knock Teyla down and gain a slight advantage over the Athosian woman.
Instead, Dawn was hit in the knees and she went down, hard. Teyla stopped, stood still, catching her breath. Dawn whimpered before gathering her strength—now would be the time to attack, while Teyla was distracted. But that wasn’t what Dawn was there for.
“How do you let them risk Ronon like this?” She finally questioned, rolling to her side in the process. Teyla didn’t respond, instead continued to stare at Dawn as though she knew that wasn’t what Dawn really wanted to know. Seconds ticked by, the silence grew louder. Finally Dawn huffed, bounced onto her feet, and nodded. “How do you trust them enough to risk your team mate?”
Teyla replied: “I trust my team with my life,” which Dawn had been expecting. “I trust my team because they’ve saved me, and I trust the others because my teams says I should.”
“But why?” Dawn turned away, she didn’t want Teyla to see her face during this conversation.
“Why do you not trust them with Ronon’s life, but let your slayer’s fight with them?”
Dawn began pacing, her back constantly to Teyla. “The slayer’s can take care of themselves, they all chose to participate in this fight, and have the option to leave whenever they feel they need to.”
“Ronon does as well.”
“Yeah, but he’s risking his life by going to that Wraith ship. He’s risking his life, and he probably won’t succeed.”
Teyla didn’t respond, instead she moved until she physically blocked Dawn’s path. “You need to trust Ronon, Dawn.”
“I do!” Dawn was practically foaming at the mouth, anger evident in her very stance. “I do trust Ronon, more then I trust everybody else on this mission.”
Teyla slowly shook her head. “You need to trust Ronon with your heart. That is why you’re worried—you don’t want to lose him before you even have a chance to gain him.”
Dawn fell silent, unresponsive. She did like Ronon—he was comfortable, he felt safe. She knew where she stood with him at all times: he didn’t lie, didn’t cheat. His honor was worth so much to him that he couldn’t imagine not doing his part in any fight, no matter the cause.
“No Dawn.” Teyla was firm. “You need to trust Ronon to make the best decision for himself; you need to trust that our team won’t leave him behind; you need to trust that Atlantis is looking out for everybody, not just the people that once stood on Earth.”
With that, Teyla spun and left the room. She had said her part—now Dawn needed to prove that she had heard.