emma_in_oz (emma_in_oz) wrote in valhalla_sector,
emma_in_oz
emma_in_oz
valhalla_sector

And there were stars

Title: And there were stars

Cross Over: Jeremiah/SGA



After years isolated in the Pegasus galaxy, the SGA team return to Cheyenne Mountain only to find that the Big Death has changed Earth unimaginably. However, there is a ray of hope.
Notes:

For Special_Trille.
(See the end of the work for notes.)



John checked his pack. He’d pinned his American flag to his shirt, something he had not bothered to do for years. But today was a special day, the day they were going to call home.

When the Atlantis team had come through the Gate, they had anticipated being cut off from Earth for a long time, maybe forever. It had been seventeen years since their arrival on Atlantis, and the Pegasus Galaxy had become their home.

The ties between the remains of the expedition and the Athosians were so close that it was now impossible to tell which of the children running about were the descendants of Earth and which of Athos. Both wore Athosian clothing, played computer games and ran through the long-deserted halls of Atlantis.

When Rodney found a half-depleted ZPM, they realised there was enough charge for a return trip. They had prepared carefully, filling their packs with the accumulated logs of the military, the research of the scientists, and a hundred or so heartfelt letters for families left behind nearly two decades previously. They carried requests for more media, solar batteries, science journals, porn, and ammo that was designed for the P17s to replace the hand-cast bullets they now used. They carried not a single request to return.

John looked at his team. Teyla and Ronan were as imperturbable as ever but Rodney was dancing from foot to foot. ‘Let’s get this show on the road,’ he said.

Elizabeth nodded and Chuck dialled Earth. There was a ripple of sound as the Gate locked on to Earth and then silence filled the room as everyone stared avidly at the portal home. ‘It’s open,’ Chuck said, ‘But... no response to our call codes.’

John frowned. The Pegasus expedition had been gone a long time and it was unlikely that their codes were still in use but it was odd not to get some response. Could the Star Gate program have been decommissioned. ‘Only way to find out is to go forward,’ he muttered, and the team walked forward.

He could see Liz’s anxious face, Chuck’s features averted as he checked his readings, and Marisuko’s eager face pressed against her father’s as they both waved farewell, and then they were gone, lost in the familiar swirl of the Gate.

The sight at the other end was jarring. The room was familiar, the same Gate room that they had marched through seventeen years earlier. But it was obviously not now in use as a Gate room; it had been retrofitted as a refectory. They had appeared through the Gate into a room filled with tables of people eating, all of whom were now staring at them. The Gate flared and closed behind them as one or two of the strangers leapt to their feet.

John scanned the room. It was filled with people, some were drawing back, pulling children with them, while others pushed forward and drew weapons. Non-military standard guns, he noted. No uniforms, indeed a wild mix of clothing. A heavily pregnant woman circled away from him and he raised his hands and assumed his mildest expression. ‘This is the Pegasus expedition checking in,’ he said neutrally. Something was definitely hinky and he had no intention of triggering an incident among a group of civilians.

He looked around for someone in charge, but he could see no one who appeared to be past their mid-twenties. Behind him the team surrendered their weapons. He could hear Rodney indignantly muttering about this welcome home but Rodney, like all of them, had mellowed over the years. He would rather wait to contact the authorities than precipitate something here. Cheyenne Mountain had obviously been abandoned though how civilians had gotten in he could not imagine.

Before him, two men seemed to have taken control. They held mismatched weapons in their hands, but held them comfortably. Another clue, he thought, but what does the puzzle look like?

Ever the peace maker, Teyla stepped forward and introduced them but her synopsis left their audience blank. ‘Where did you come from?’ one asked, ‘And how did you get so old?’

John’s face tightened. He was on the wrong side of fifty now but... He heard a stirring at the end of the room. Someone had obviously fetched the leader. A slim, earnest man stepped forward. He, too, was incredibly young. ‘I’m Markus Alexander,’ he said, ‘You are in Thunder Mountain, can you explain how you got in?’

He frowned. The Government would never abandon the Star Gate, even if they mothballed the program.

Rodney said, ‘Sam Carter would never leave.’

He was cut off. ‘They came through that.’ The lanky youth pointed to the Gate. ‘They just appeared out of thin air.’

He had anticipated Markus’ response to be disbelief but he said quietly. ‘Wow, those things really are gates to other worlds?’

His guards swivelled their heads. ‘They came from another world?’

Behind them a little man clutching a bag said, ‘God says Pegasus.’

Markus glared at him and he held up his hands, ‘Don’t shoot the messenger.’

John could see little point in further dissemblance. ‘I’m Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. I’m a member of the expedition to the Pegasus galaxy. We left through this gate seventeen years ago. This is our first chance to report in and I need to report to the nearest military post.’

Markus looked at him with compassion. ‘If you left seventeen years ago, then-‘

He was interrupted. ‘Dude, if you really have been on another planet for the past seventeen years, then-.’

His friend finished the sentence, ‘Then you missed the Big Death.’

There was a moment of silence and then McKay began to babble. ‘The Big Death sounds bad, like a very bad name for something. Like the Black Death only bigger. How big? How many dead? What has been happening here?’

Markus paused and then gestured at one of the chairs. John sat down with his team, facing Markus but noted that the two guards hung back, still holding their weapons. Markus said quietly, ‘It came in 2004. The Big Death had a 100% fatality rate, spread really quickly, infected all the adults.’

Rodney gasped beside him.

‘Here at Thunder Mountain, the military holed up with the scientists and their families, tried to cut themselves off from infection and work on a cure. Obviously it didn’t work. The Big Death came here too and it killed every adult.’ He paused to give them time to assimilate. ‘I stayed here with the other kids. I was the oldest. That was fifteen years ago and only recently have we had much to do with the outside world. Jeremiah and Kurdy here could give you a better idea of what things are like outside.’

John’s eyes slid to the two guards, who looked at each other and then holstered their weapons. ‘I heard it started in India as an experiment gone wrong,’ the lanky one said diffidently.

‘Got out of control and there was no cure,’ the other agreed. ‘But I also heard it was God’s curse. Anyway, it makes no difference where it came from. The point is, it came and it killed everyone who had hit puberty.’

Rodney said, ‘Statistically there must be some people who -’

‘Yeah, statistically speaking it should have burnt out before every single adult was infected, but I have walked from coast to coast and in all that time I never saw an adult. A person who was an adult before the Big D, I mean.’

‘I did once.’ Everyone looked at the dark man. ‘He said he had been on a hiking and hunting holiday and when he came out of the woods the Big Death had been through.’

John had seen worlds devastated by the Wraith but he still could not comprehend the end of his own planet. Markus said kindly, ‘There were all kinds of notes about it in the General’s office when I moved in. You might want to look at them.’

***

John left Rodney reviewing the notes and wiping tears from his cheeks. Almost without thinking he started heading upwards, towards the surface. He wanted to see the Earth with his own eyes.

One of the guards followed him, not that John blamed him. ‘My name’s John Sheppard,’ he said, slowing down.

‘I’m Kurdy,’ said the big man. There was a pause. ‘You really from another planet?’

‘No, this planet. I’ve just lived on another world for a while. How did you know about that?’ Security concerns were apparently so ingrained that the question remained even after the end of the USA.

‘Markus says there were some notes about it in the science labs but it didn’t seem important.’

‘I suppose not,’ he sighed. Then he tried to focus. ‘What did seem important?’

Kurdy shrugged. ‘For Markus? Probably getting the solar panels working so the air would keep circulating They’ve got tech here like I haven’t seen in many places. For me? Travelling, finding enough to eat, finding stuff to read, you know, getting through life.’

They had been walking upwards steadily, moving through the pedestrian exit which was now clearly the route. Every now and then they passed a skinny twenty-something, all of them gaping at John. They reached the final exit where a handful of guards were hanging about. Kurdy nodded at them, ‘We’ll be outside for a while.’

Walking outside was walking into fresh air. It was night, the stars were out, the same as they had always been. Tears smarted in John’s eyes. As far as he could see, there were no lights, no lights at all.

***

The next day at breakfast John ignored the way they were being stared at while he spooned up his porridge. He was trying to think of a way to apologise to Ronan for not fully comprehending how he must have felt when he saw the fall of Sateda. He had been sorry, of course, but he had not really understood.

He was saved from the need for communication when Rodney arrived at the table, white faced and still clutching the notes Markus had provided.

‘Is there something there about a cure?’ John asked.

‘No,’ Rodney said sadly, ‘They weren’t even close. Maybe at the Centre for Disease Control at Atlanta?’

‘It seems kind of pointless,’ John said softly, ‘Everyone we know is dead.’

Teyla touched his hand sympathetically. ‘Perhaps we should just go home?’
Rodney stared into space. ‘Carter is dead. O’Neill is dead. Hammond is dead. And all the scientists at Area 51.’

John pushed his breakfast away.

‘The guys I did my doctorate with. The MIT crowd. Bill Gates is dead. My sister is dead.’

‘We should leave. There’s no point in -‘

‘Oh my God!’ Rodney shouted, ‘My niece!’

***

Markus explained that it would take weeks to walk to Alberta, but there were literally dozens of puddle jumpers sitting in storage, waiting for someone with the gene. Once they were airborne, Rodney had an attack of the jitters and they decided to go the long way around.

Flying the shuttle was familiar, though he would never have imagined he could soar over Earth free of security concerns. Man, he only wished he might get hit by a missile. There was no chance of that; no sign of industrialisation of any sort. They flew close to the ground, close enough to see the grain laid out across the mid-west, close enough to glimpse the astonished faces turning towards them as they sped by.

McKay had his scanners attuned with the utmost delicacy and every now and then he would report that a village or homestead had some kind of power rigged up. The largest agglomeration Jeremiah and Kurdy named as Crab Apple Corner, where an entrepreneurial leader had fitted up bulk refrigeration running from solar power. ‘People store food there – game, berries, whatever they’ve harvested and then they can get it later and it’s still fine. Angelina runs the town and she takes a cut of everything that goes into her storage.’

When he reached the Atlantic, John flew on. ‘We need to see the whole planet,’ Teyla said.

***

They camped that evening at the Taj Mahal. A deserted cenotaph, thought John. Perfect.

Kurdy and Smith brought out supplies from Thunder Mountain while Teyla and Ronan set out for a spring.

‘Hey,’ called Smith, ‘Have you got a machine to check the water for radiation? Sometimes it’s a problem.’

John shuddered inwardly at this world and told them that he wouldn’t have landed if he’s recorded any radiation down below.

Smith added. ‘Thunder Mountain was locked down before they died, but there are lots of places where the ammunitions were left unguarded. Even where they are locked, over time you can still break a door down or take it off on the hinges.’

Jeremiah told them about the time he and Kurdy ran into this guy who had liberated a nuke. He was using it to make a whole heap of people work for him.’

While John was digesting this thought, Smith sighed. ‘Wish we could get rid of them.’

He reminded John of Elgin, who had never really recovered from being trapped on the island. ‘Get rid of the nukes?’ John asked. ‘How?’

Rodney replied absently. ‘It would be easy enough, with a puddle jumper using the gravitational pincers we found at PJS-388. You could just lift them out and take them out of orbit.’

‘Dump them on Mars?’ asked John.

‘Or send them into the sun,’ Rodney replied, finally looking up from the notes.

Suddenly the three faces looking at him were full of hope.

‘Except we don’t have the gravitational pincers,’ John said.

‘And we can’t go back to them because we’ve only got enough juice for one return trip,’ Rodney added.

Smith frowned. ‘I’ll work on it,’ he muttered.

Kurdy patted his shoulder. ‘You do that,’ he said comfortingly.

***

The next day they took a loop around the planet, which proved pretty conclusively that the Big Death had been a world-wide phenomenon. The oceans were empty, the cities deserted, and the people few. There were crops in the ground in Africa and Asia, which put them a little up on the other continents, but really it was a tour of a global disaster area. John had to keep quietly wiping his eyes.

When Rodney was ready, they followed the sun back to Alberta, setting down in a park near his sister’s house.

Jeremiah tried to prepare him. ‘You realise there’s probably no one there. Even if she survived, she could be literally anywhere.’

Rodney nodded but obviously wasn’t listening.

She was there, or at least, a tiny skeleton lay nestled between the remains of two adults in a bed. After they had buried them, Rodney lifted his head. ‘Let’s go home.’

***

John made his farewell to Markus. ‘We don’t know if we’ll ever make it back. It depends on whether we find a working ZPM.’

Markus nodded. ‘I wish you luck,’ he said.

‘To you as well,’ Teyla replied.

Jeremiah and Kurdy shoved back a few of the tables and Rodney dialed the gate. John tried not to remember the last time they had departed from here, how different it had been, the gate room full, the world still months away from annihilation.

The Gate had already flared into light before them when Smith touched his forehead and said loudly, ‘It’s under the temple on PXL 742. What does that mean? God says, the thing you’ve been looking for is at PZL 742. What’s a ZPM?’

‘A ZPM?’ gasped John.

‘Wait, a ZPM?’ Rodney turned towards Smith, but John grabbed his arm and pulled him forwards.

‘We’ve gotta go,’ he shouted as they stepped into the light, the way back home to Atlantis.

Notes:

Notes: Both Jeremiah and SGA use Cheyenne Mountain as an important site. The SGA crowd depart through the Star Gate there in 2004 and in the Jeremiah universe the Big Death occurs in 2006, leaving some survivors there.

If the SGA timeline diverted into an AU and they were trapped in the Pegasus galaxy for for seventeen years and then returned, that would put them in the Jeremiah timeline. It would be 2021.

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