Cassie and Teyla return from their trip to New York to find that the Genii have taken the Satedan children in retaliation. Cassie goes after them.
Cassie and Teyla returned through the stargate, complete with shopping bags, new attire and beautifully groomed hair and faces thanks to the morning's spa treatment. The odd feeling that Cassie had been getting increased exponentially when she saw Elizabeth comes running into the gate room to waylay them.
“Cassie, I'm so glad you are here... I have some bad news, and I wanted to tell you in person not through General O'Neill.” Elizabeth bent to take Cassie's suddenly cold hands as she dropped her parcels and the newspaper she had been carrying. “Elizabeth, God, I knew something was wrong.. John... where is he... what's happened?” Frantically she pulled her hands from Elizabeth's and looked up at the control room to see the gate technician looking down at her sympathetically.
“Cassie, I need you to calm down and come with me. I'll tell you on the way to the infirmary.” Cassie heard nothing. She ran as fast as she was able, throwing open the infirmary doors with a resounding thud that had Carson looking up with a “bloody hell!”. He saw who it was, and the frantic look on her face and immediately jumped up to intercept her.
“Cassie, love. I need you to slow down and let me explain. Please love, let me tell you first.”
“No Carson, let me go to him, please...” she pulled away from his restraining hands, having seen the lone occupant of the infirmary, John lying eyes shut, dark lashes sweeping very pale cheeks. She stopped at the side of the bed, reaching immediately for one of his hands, so cold, and holding it tight in her own, to infuse some of her energy into him. “John? Wake up John,it's me, Cass, I came back early... I missed you!”
Cassie, after exchanging a glance with Elizabeth who had entered the infirmary behind Cassie, put his hands on Cassie's shoulders and gently made to pull her away. “No Carson! Leave me alone. He needs me.” Tears starting falling in earnest down her cheeks and Carson slid a chair in behind her so she could at least sit.
“Tell me what happened Elizabeth...” Cassie raised John's hand to her cheek and kept it there.
“We got word from the Satedan settlement that they were under attack, the Genii... Colonel Sheppard, Ronan and Lorne went over immediately to lend assistance and John was shot.” Cassie's eyes blew to Elizabeth.
“Shot? Oh God, how bad.” She looked at Carson now. “It's pretty bad lass, got him good on his right side, but managed to miss any major organs. He lost a lot of blood but we've managed to stabilise him now and I am optimistic that the worst is over.”
Cassie's head dropped forward onto the bed, taking John's hand with her. “Was anyone else hurt?” she asked and looked up sharply at the ensuing silence.
“That's not the whole story Cass...” Carson said softly, ignoring the censure in Elizabeth's eyes. She had thought it best not to tell Cassie about this second part yet. “The Genii took some of the Satedan children...”
“Keisha... they took Keisha?” Cassie barely got the words out, she felt so sick. “Whose gone after them?”
Elizabeth answered. “Ronan, Lorne and six marines have gone to the Genii homeworld. We're not sure yet why they took the children. No demands have been made, we are just waiting. We've heard no news from Lorne yet, so am assuming they haven't managed to locate them.”
Cassie dropped her eyes as she looked back at John, lying so still on the bed. Carson took her by the shoulders again. “How did the appointments go Lass, do you have some reports to give to me. I need to go over the obstetrician's recommendations.”
Cassie's voice was quiet. “It went ok Carson, I don't want to think about it now... the reports are with our bags in the gateroom...” he voice trailed off as she leaped out of her chair and ran out the door. “Cassie, what is it love?” She was back quickly, out of breath and waving something. She went straight to John and held it in front of him.
“Look John... look... can you see? It's our baby, a picture of him. See? He has his thumb in his mouth.” Smiling now, she put the picture taken during the scan on the table beside John's bed and settled back into her chair to begin her long vigil. “Elizabeth? Will you let me know if there is any news about the children?”
Elizabeth's voice was kind. “Of course I will Cassie, as soon as I have any I will come and tell you straight away. Please don't tire yourself out, you'll be no use to him if you exhaust yourself and he awakens. Rest a bit, let Carson stay with him.”
“I need to be here Elizabeth, right here beside him. I need him to feel me close.” She dropped a kiss on his still face, then moved her head lower and rested it along the side of his body, so that she could hear him breathing. Taking a deep breath herself, she closed her eyes and entered the darkness.
She saw him, a long way off down the tunnel. His form was a little indistinct as though the artist had not filled in the colours completely. “John?” she called, “why are you so far away. I can't see you properly over there, you need to move closer, into the light, please...” She saw him smile, but it was a small one and there was pain in his eyes. “Cass darling, you need to go back, you can't be here. You need to go and take care of our baby, please love...”
“No John, I'll not leave you here alone. Come closer so that I can touch you, kiss you. I've missed you, come closer and hold me.”
“Oh God Cass, I want that more than anything in this or any other world, but I don't know if I can. I feel weak.”
Cassie was angry now. “Stop that right now! You are the strongest man I know, and that man wouldn't give up, I know that! You can't leave me alone, I won't stay here alone. I need you.”
“Our son will look after you, and you will look after him.” His form seemed to waver and grow further away and Cassie's voice rose in a sob.
“Damn you John, if you leave me I will never forgive you. I won't fight this fight on my own.” She reached out a hand and reached out her mind and she saw determination on his face and he took a step forward, then another... The effort cost him and he paused to take a breath and she could see the pain in his eyes. “I'm trying Cass, but it hurts...”
“I know love, just a few more steps, then I'll be able to reach you... just a few more steps?.”
Cassie reached out with her mind and pushed her strength at him and he grabbed hold of it like a lifeline, using it to pull himself closer to her until she could reach out her fingertips and grab hold of his hand. “I've got you John,and I won't let you go. You're safe now. With me.”
Carson came running to the bed when he heard John's sharp gasp and saw him lying there with his eyes open, hand resting lightly on Cassie's head. “Doc?” His voice was rough and not much more than a whisper and Carson smiled down at him.
“Colonel Sheppard, it's good to have you back son!”
“Somebody wouldn't let me go... she's stronger than she even knows Carson.” His eyes had dropped to Cassie's bent, sleeping head. “She'll need to rest now, that would have taken every ounce of energy she had.”
Carson looked quizzically at John. “She just saved my life Doc...” and Carson shook his head in denial of all the unexplained and unusual incidents that had been occurring in Atlantis, mostly centring around the nucleus that was Cassie Devon.
When Cassie awoke sometime during that night, she felt John's hand tangled in her hair and raising her head saw that while he was still asleep, it was sleep now, and not unconciousness. Groaning with stiffness, she eased herself out of the chair and out from under his hand and bent to gently kiss him. He smiled in his sleep but did not waken.
“Don't be mad John, but I have to go find her... please understand.”
John awakened ten minutes later, feeling the absence of Cassie from his bedside and recalling in the corner of his mind, a whispered conversation. Groaning he pushed himself to a sitting position, causing a concerned Carson to come running over and restrain him. “Easy Colonel, you'll not be getting out of this bed just yet.”
“Please Carson, just help me to the gateroom, I need to get there... please, life and death...” Carson looked concerned and alerted Elizabeth via the ear comm to meet them in the gate room. John was very weak, however Carson managed to get him upright and standing, and propping him up under the shoulder they made it to the gateroom in time to hear the chevrons moving into place as the stargate was activated. Cassie stood ready to go through the stargate with Teyla. Teyla looked back in apology at the Colonel. “I can't let her go alone Colonel, please understand.”
“Cassie...” John's voice was pitched low. “Don't do this, please...” The look of anguish on his face caused her to pause and turn back to him.
“Think about it John, Elizabeth... why do you think the Genii took the children? Remember Layton's last conversation with us – he was disppointed that Koyla had made incorrect decisions in the alliances he was making? I think the Genii have made a new alliance, an alliance with the wraith.”
John's voice had grown stronger. “So why take the children? What does that prove.”
“For god's sake John, think about it! What do wraith really want, other than a new feeding ground? They want the key, the key to power, the key to ultimate domination in this galaxy.” Her voice, angry in the beginning, dropped to a whisper. “And who holds the key... who is the key... me, our baby... they want us... and they will have set the Genii the task of finding a way to force my hand. They knew that taking the children would force my hand.”
John exploded away from Carson, intent on reaching her before she went through the stargate.
“Cassie, damn you – if you walk through that gate now, I'll close it and you'll not walk back. Damm you!”
Cassie's eyes were full of pain as she turned and stepped through the gate and the last sound John heard was the tinkling of metal that hit the ground after the gate deactiviated. Reaching it he picked it up. It was the engagement ring he had given her, still warm from her finger.
“Damn it Carson, Elizabeth, that was the last straw. Carson strap me up, patch me up - whatever you have to do, just do it, no excuses. I'll get her back, then she's going back to earth until the baby's born and she'll go whether she likes it or not because I'll drag her there myself kicking and screaming. I can't take this anymore!” He thrust the ring in his pocket and with a face like thunder he turned and went back to the infirmary. Carson followed without a sound, there were times when being quiet seemed the appropriate thing to do and if Carson refused to help him, he had no doubts that the Colonel would find a way to do it anyway. Really, he thought, they were two of a kind, him and Cassie, both strongwilled and stubborn and when they came head to head like this, it was best for all concerned if the path was clear.
Cassie took a deep breath when she and Teyla arrived on the the other side of the wormhole, subconciously rubbing her finger where her ring had rested. There was no going back now, her decision had not been one based on impulse, but intuition and she knew that what she was doing was the right thing, the only thing to do. She pushed the memory of John's anger into a small area of her mind, knowing that she would have to deal with this later. But now, Keisha needed her.
Teyla brought her weapon up, scanning the immediate area for threats of any sort, then keyed her ear comm. “Major Lorne, Ronan, are you nearby? We are concerned that we have not heard from you since you left, please respond.” Her ear comm crackled in response and it was Lorne who answered. “Glad to have some backup Teyla, how's Colonel Sheppard?”
“I believe he is in fine fighting form Major” she answered dryly “and I imagine you will be seeing him in the near future if you have not found the children yet.”
“Ah Teyla?” Lorne's voice was hesitant.
“Yes Major Lorne, what is it?”
“Is Cassie with you by any chance?” Teyla could hear from Major Lorne's tone of voice that he had just closed his eyes in defeat. When she did not immediately answer he said “Crap... sorry Teyla, no disrespect... I was hoping this would be a simple extraction.”
“Major, if it was going to be a simple extraction, I believe you and your team would have located the children by now and Cassie would not feel the need to be here. You of all people, should have learnt to trust her instincts by now Major.” Teyla rose instantly to the defence of her friend.
“Yeah I knew that Teyla, and I'm sorry for implying otherwise. I was just thinking that we would probably have to deal with an irrate Colonel Sheppard on top of everything else...”
Teyla's reply was grim. “I believe that would be an accurate assumption Major. Please let us know your location so that we can meet you.”
Their location was several clicks away, they had been tracking the Genii since their arrival through the gate and they knew the children had been brought this way. When they arrived near a stand of trees and saw Major Lorne and his team, they moved immediately to his side and filled him and Ronan in on John's condition and their conclusions as to why the Genii had taken the children. Lorne was shaken when he heard this and the fire of anger in Ronan's eyes was palpable and Cassie moved to reassure him. “I'm sorry Ronan, your people have lost so much already and this time it is my fault, it's because of me. I will do everything in my power to get those children back, you have my word!”
Ronan pulled Cassie in close to him and tipped her head up, but was distracted by her hand which no longer held the ring that John had given her. “Long story...” she murmered, but leaned into him for a little while, enjoying the warmth that the large Satedan gave out. He rubbed the back of her hair and sighed, knowing it was a rocky path that his two friends travelled on.
“We've tracked them as far as here, then the trail sort of goes cold. No sign of the Genii or the children, they just appear to vanish. I feel we're going around in circles now, even Ronan's having trouble picking up any tracks.” Lorne referred to the Satedan's formidable tracking skills.
“The Genii are here somewhere Lorne, probably nearby and watching us. If they've not shown their hand yet, they are waiting for something... something or someone.” She turned in a circle, looking into the trees as though searching, then tipped her face to the sky. “The Genii can hide their tracks easier, but children can't. If the trail stops here, then the children are no longer here.”
“So where the hell are they Cass? We've searched the area for entrances to tunnels and their underground system – nothing! We should have found something!” Lorne too scanned the tree line. Cassie moved away from Ronan and towards Lorne, touching his arm lightly. “The children are gone Evan, I think they were beamed aboard a wraith ship, that's the only thing that makes sense.”
Lorne swung around sharply, knocking Cassie as he did and he reached out both hands to secure her, but she broke away from him and headed toward the trees. Lorne indicated with a look to his marines, that they were not to let her out of their sight for a moment and to keep her covered with weapons at all times.
“Layton? I know you're there and I know you can hear me and are watching. Did it make you feel strong and powerful to align with the wraith and take the children, to take someone who is weaker than you?” She paused, looking back at Lorne who stood watching her closely. “You are such a weak and despicable little man who can only find the strength to steal what is is weaker and align with a force that is evil. That does not take courage Leyton, those are the actions of a coward.”
Layton stepped out of the trees at that moment, with a group of his Genii soldiers. Cassie looked at him with loathing and walked closer to him. “You make me sick Layton, you who found Kolya's actions despicable? Bringing children into battle is unacceptable and we will make sure that this fact is known throughout the galaxy and your cowardly actions will prevent trading alliances with many.”
While Lorne and his marines had their weapons trained on the Genii, they themselves had not raised weapons of any sort, and this made Lorne and Ronan a little uneasy. Ronan shouted at Layton. “Where are the children Layton? Give us the children and we'll leave... this time.”
“The children are collateral. You know that Cassandra and you know what is required in return.” Layton was near now and she launched herself at him, catching him off guard and sending him crashing to the ground. She sat astride him and slammed his head into the hard ground, causing him to yell out in pain. Ronan was quick and moved to intercept her but John and another team of marines stepped into the clearing and it was clear from the look in John's eyes that he was fighting more than one battle that day.
“Cassie! Stand down now! That's an order!” John's voice rang out through the clearing and in the shock at hearing it, Cassie whipped her head around and Layton, now able to catch her off guard, clamped his hands tightly on her shoulders and threw her sideways, crashing into the hard ground.. Ronan was quick, but not quick enough. At that moment, a wraith dart shot overhead, it's lethal beam tracking along the ground until it reached Cassie, moments before Ronan did. Before John's tortured eyes, he saw the beam bath Cassie in full light, curled up on her side and holding her stomach, then she was gone and the ground where she lay was empty. Ronan had reached out to grab her and there was just empty air, and the dart swept by and was gone. “No!” Ronan's cry was primal and he turned to face his commanding officer and his friend. “I am so sorry John, I tried to grab her, I failed... I am so sorry.” He stood there with his hands on his head, tears in his eyes as he looked at John, but John's eyes were hard. “It's not your fault my friend, she brought this one on herself.”
His voice was rough, but it cracked near the end and he turned away. Ronan saw his shoulders slump briefly and heave once, then the soldier was back and John turned and strode over to Layton, hauling him up by the ear. “You'll come back to Atlantis and you'll tell us everything we need to know or I'll remove pieces of your body, bit by bit. Oh, and I'll make sure you remain conscious throughout the whole process.”