Disclaimer: Neither Stargates nor Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to me. I claim no ownership of them and recognize that they belong to the various people and companies who own them. I do this solely for my own enjoyment and, should our interests mesh, the enjoyment of others. I have made no money off of this and do not ever plan to. Anything that even looks vaguely familiar (such as brand names, culture references, etc) also does not belong to me.
Series: Return to the Blood Lands
Story: Welcome to the Keep
The wormhole closed behind them with a subdued whoosh. Rigid, the four stood at the threshold of the stargate and stared at the destruction of the world before them. Fires had ravaged the lands, burning bush and tree alike. Now, the fires were still present but, in such still air, weren’t likely to travel beyond the scorched earth around them.
“Shit.” John muttered. Such a WASTE. “Another culled planet.”
“Fire’s still burning.” Ronon pointed out. He looked around what was left of the forest and pointed out a barely marked trail to civilization. “It was recent.”
After a moment of consideration (because a very loud voice in his head was telling him to just turn around and leave), John adjusted his gun and took point. His team gathered behind him, equally wary as they went down the path. There was literally nothing to see.
“Do either of you recognize this place?” John asked absently of the two who knew the galaxy the best, examining the fire as much as he was looking out for the Wraith. There wasn’t anything left to burn in this area. His team was relatively safe in that respect.
They reached the outskirts of village faster than he anticipated- at least fast for a village in the Pegasus Galaxy. It probably didn’t help these people to have their village within scant miles of the stargate when a Wraith dart could travel that distance and more in under a second.
“I know the people.” Teyla finally answered, picking up a stretch of half-burnt cloth. It took John a second to recognize it as Athosian. He had a shirt or two of the same make, shoved way in the back of his closet. “They are fair traders.” Teyla tensed a bit as they all mentally corrected that sentence.
“Quick sweep, in and out.” Look for the survivors. Look for the wounded and dying. His team knew the drill. It was a routine. This wasn’t even the first culled planet of the week. They all wished and hoped for the sort of culling where entire families were spared, hiding out in the woods or buildings until the Wraith were gone, but the Wraith were getting more efficient at their task.
Damn those life sucking bastards.
“It looks like the roofs of some of these homes were purposefully shot off.” Rodney said quietly, his eyes glued to a house half in shambles. A wall was gone and the edges were burnt but the house, miraculously, had not caught on fire. John could see things- people’s things. Furniture, clothes, a half knitted blanket, and a roughly made doll, the edges of the make-shift dress too sharp and new to have been used much in the past- all the things indicative of human lives. The ruins of human lives.
John cast a glance sideways, not wanting to look at it any more. He caught a look at Rodney’s face and made a mental note to talk to Elizabeth about arranging sessions with Heightmeyer. Even though it would doom him to his own session with the lady doc, it would be worth it. The look on Rodney’s face hinted at nightmares.
And he wasn’t the only one. While John mostly focused on the good they did or tried to do for the people of the galaxy, John always was reminded, in some way or form, that he was the one who woke the Wraith up from their sleep. He was rational enough to know that the expedition would have run into the Wraith sooner or later but he also knew that, without his grave mistake, their numbers would not have been as great.
And as hard of a time that Atlantis was having fighting them off, the people of the galaxy had an even worse time. Atlantis was an inconvenient cockroach that kept on coming back. The people were merely ants, stepped on and easily forgotten.
Teyla and Ronon came back slowly, lingeringly- as if they believed they could find someone if they went as slow as they could. Teyla stared back at him for a moment before averting her gaze. Ronon simply shook his head. There was no one left alive in or around the village. And as far as the fires seemed to have spread, John doubted there was anyone left alive on the planet at all.
Team sessions with Heightmeyer then. He sensed that they were falling into a slump. What small victories they had won were falling flat in the face of mass casualties. They needed hope. They needed belief, especially in themselves. It was in moments like these that John understood why some people turned to religion for hope and answers because, sometimes, he felt like the universe was too damn scary to face without some deity or other willing to go to bat for the human race.
John looked at his team and they looked back with varying degrees of resignation. There was literally nothing they could do this time around. But there would be other times where they could help and they WOULD, all the more fierce in their resolve because they remembered the many times they could not help at all. He adjusted his weapon and nodded once, sharply.
“Let’s go home.”
End of WELCOME TO THE KEEP
Continued in THE ANCIENT PROPHECY.
AN: Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed this story. I know it’s a heavy story but it gets lighter, should you choose to continue.
This story marks the end of the general part of the series, so I’d ask you to keep in mind that the next story WILL have slash! If you like to continue, regardless, look out for THE ANCIENT PROPHECY.
And, because I was asked, if you want to use elements of my stories to write your own, I do not mind- as long as it IS your own take on it. Perhaps those of you who so wish I wouldn’t go to slash could write your own slashless stories that follow similar elements (Xander and the Wraith, the whole idea of being sent off to Pegasus by magic- whatever), I would not be offended as long as, of course, your intent is not to offend. Just make sure you make it yours with your own words and concepts, because it’s much better that way.