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12 May 2012 @ 11:32 am
Come Away to the Slaughter (Come Away to the Water) - Part V  
Title: Come Away to the Slaughter (Come Away to the Water)
Fandoms: Stargate: Atlantis/Hawaii Five-0
Pairings: John/Elizabeth, Danny/OC, Ronon/Teyla, Steve/Kono, minor Cadman/Lorne
Rating: R for violence, scary situations, and language
Summary: When a zombie plague spreads through Hawaii (and the rest of the world), the 5-0 team has to make difficult decisions and flee their homes. Coming across a Stargate, but not understanding what it is, they have to choose between facing the horrors on their planet or escaping to somewhere unknown. When they end up in the Pegasus Galaxy, they think they're somewhat safe... until Atlantis falls and they're on the run again, this time with new friends and no idea where to go.
A/N: The biggest of thanks to citymusings for a) putting up with my insanity, b) dealing with a story that involved zombies, c) cheerleading of the highest order, and d) beta-ing this beast. This would not have gotten done without you, my dear.
A/N 2: Song referenced somewhere near the end is "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri.
Disclaimer: Gabby is the only main character that belongs to me.
A/N 3: Anybody reading my story "For This Dance We'll Move with Each Other" will recognize Gabby. She is, in fact, the same character. This is just an alternate way for her and Danny to meet.
Disclaimer: Gabby is the only character that belongs to me. Everyone else belongs to their respective creators and I'm just playing with them.




They saw the second jumper get blown to pieces less than five minutes later. A collective gasp ran through the group as they watched a Wraith ship outmaneuver them and shoot them down. There was no time for them to do anything, no chance of helping their friends. As the pieces fell down into the water below, it was obvious that there weren’t any survivors.

“Get us out of here, Lorne,” Elizabeth said quietly. “Don’t go to the Alpha site yet. Not until we’re sure we’re not being followed.”

He nodded without any hesitation. “Yes, ma’am.”

Confident that Lorne could shake whatever tail they had, Elizabeth turned and surveyed her fellow survivors. She couldn’t believe that this was all there was left of the Atlantis expedition. Just the day before, the city had been vibrant and full of life. Now there was just a handful of people left, and none of them looked as though they were doing okay.

Kono sat in the seat next to Lorne, staring out into space. Steve stood behind her, leaning on the back of the chair. His eyes moved constantly between Kono, Danny, Grace, and his sister. She knew that he was reassuring himself that all of his people were still there.

Gabby had been patched up as well as possible and was now sitting next to Danny and Grace, her face pale and worn, covered in scratches and bruises. Danny was pressed tightly against her side even as he held his daughter close. The little girl was crying quietly and Danny just rocked her, murmuring quiet words of comfort.

Ronon and Teyla stood near the back of the jumper, both looking tired even as they stayed alert. Blood had dried on both of them, but none of their injuries seemed severed enough to warrant attention just yet, and Elizabeth was grateful that two of their best fighters were still on their feet. She hoped that once they got rid of the Wraith they could breathe a little easier, but there was no telling what the future had in store for them.

Cadman was lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. Whatever had happened to her on Atlantis had caused serious damage to her right leg, and both Carson and Malia were working to keep her alive. The blood loss was frightening and Elizabeth found herself praying to God that the lieutenant survived. Radek crouched nearby, passing the doctors whatever they needed from the medical kits that Carson had had the foresight to bring into the jumper.

She turned to John last. He sat beside her, his legs twitching with restless energy. Carson had assured them that the blindness was most likely temporary, caused by the flash of the explosion. It didn't do much to comfort John. A piece of his t-shirt had been torn away and fashioned into a blindfold to keep the light away from his eyes, and she could feel the frustration rolling off of him in waves. Slowly, Elizabeth reached out and placed her hand on top of his, letting him know that she was right there. She wanted to say something, but for once, words failed her. When John entwined their fingers and squeezed her her hand, she knew that he just needed her silent support for now. Words could come later.

She wasn't sure how long they flew on for. There were a lot of sharp turns and dips for awhile as Lorne did his best to lose the Wraith ships behind them. Elizabeth found herself watching Grace as her eyes slowly started to close. Danny shifted his grip on her and she curled herself against him, burying her head in his neck. Gabby wasn't far behind her, and soon her head was resting on the other shoulder. Danny looked down at both of them with relief and affection in his eyes, letting out a long breath. His eyes then searched out Kono and Steve and he seemed to settle a bit more.

By the time the jumper was landed, Gabby and Grace weren't the only ones who needed to be roused. All of them were exhausted and she was fairly certain that everyone was sporting injuries of some kind. She only wished that she could be sure they were going to get to rest soon.

"Where are we?" Steve asked once the ship was on the ground.

"M37-459. There are a few scattered tribes, but we're pretty much in the middle of nowhere right now. The Stargate is about ten miles west of here."

"We can't travel any more today," Carson interrupted. "We have some serious injuries here and everyone needs to rest."

Elizabeth shared a look with Steve and nodded. "That sounds like a good idea. We're in no shape for any more surprises or adventures. Let's unload whatever supplies we have and take stock."

Everyone agreed. Ronon and Steve handled Laura carefully as they carried her out into the wooded glen. Elizabeth came out next, leading John to a fallen tree where she gently pushed him down to sit on it. Even without being able to see his eyes, the grip he had on her was enough to let her know that he didn't want her to go anywhere. There was work to be done, though, and as much as she wanted to stay with him, they needed all hands on deck.

She squeezed his hand and crouched down. "I'm just going to help unload the jumper. I won't be gone long."

His jaw clenched and she could feel the frustration rolling off of him in waves. Steve must have sensed it as well - Elizabeth got the feeling that he knew something of the position that John was in - and he took a seat next to him.

"I won't let her out of arm's reach, Sheppard. I'll make sure that she's safe. Just until you can do it yourself again, okay?"

John gave a curt nod. "Thanks, McGarrett."

"Alright. You've got Malia and Carson tending to Cadman over to your left. Gabby and Grace are sitting just to your right, on the other side of me, okay?"

"Yeah. Go ahead. I'll hold down the fort here."

His lips quirked slightly, and Steve's expression matched. Getting to his feet, he followed Elizabeth back to the jumper.

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Gabby didn't stay perched on the log. Sliding down, she eased herself down to the ground, using the fallen tree as something to lean against. Her shoulder was throbbing angrily, enough to bring tears to her eyes, and the rest of her body wasn't fairing too much better. She started to let her eyes close, despite the fact that she knew she needed to stay alert at least until the others returned from the jumper. Carson and Malia were too focused on Cadman, and John couldn't see anything. If they were attacked, she was the only one in that group who could do anything to hold it off until the others reached them. She was just so damn tired. Her training in London had taught her how to withstand a lot, but everybody had their limits and she was steadily approaching hers.

Her eyes snapped open, though, when she felt Grace seating herself between her knees and leaning against her stomach. Pushing the pain in her shoulder as far back as she could, Gabby wrapped her arms around the little girl and placed a soft kiss to the top of her head.

"Are you alright, darling?" she asked softly.

Grace nodded. "None of the bad guys hurt me."

"What about your heart? You saw a lot today that nobody should ever have to see, and I bet a lot of it made you sad and scared."

"I'm trying to be brave, though. Like Danno and Uncle Steve."

"And you are doing a wonderful job. But it's okay to admit that you're not okay. All of us are sad and all of us are scared."

"Are we gonna be okay?" Grace asked. "I liked Atlantis."

"I did, too," Gabby admitted. "It was my home for the past few years. I'm going to miss it a great deal."

"And we can't go back to Earth."

"No, we can't."

"What do we do, then?"

Gabby took a deep breath, quickly deciding that was a bad idea as her shoulder screamed at her. "Well, I think we do our best to find a new home. It won't be the same, but we can make it ours. We have people that we love and who love us back, and that's what's really important, isn't it?"

Grace nodded. "Ohana." She pushed herself up slightly so that she could whisper in Gabby's ear. "Do you think Colonel John is okay?"

Gabby thought about it for a moment. "Why don't you go over and check?"

One of the many things that Gabby loved about Grace was the fact that she wasn't afraid to interact with other people. The little girl pushed herself to her feet and walked over to John, lightly touching his knee.

"Colonel John?"

A small smile tugged at his mouth as he turned to look in the direction of her voice. "Hey, Gracie. What can I do for you?"

"I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Carson said your eyes would start working in a couple of days, right?"

He nodded. "Yep. And the doc is usually right."

Grace bit her bottom lip and glanced over at the jumper, where the rest of their party was still unloading supplies. "Don't worry about Elizabeth," she said. "Uncle Steve is really good at protecting people. I always trust him with my Danno."

Her voice was steady and firm, her faith in her Uncle Steve complete and unwavering. John couldn't help but feel reassured just a little bit that McGarrett was watching over Elizabeth while he couldn't do the job himself. He'd seen the man in action enough times to know that he always protected his people.

Any comfort he felt immediately disappeared when he heard a familiar whine overhead. Despite Lorne's best efforts, someone had found them.

"EVERYONE OUT OF THE JUMPER!" Ronon roared.

There was nothing John could do for his friends, but Grace was right in front of him. Without thinking about it, he pulled her into his arms and pressed her to the ground, making sure that his body completely covered hers. The explosion ripped through the air only a moment later, and though John couldn't see it, he could hear the debris falling all around them. Something struck his back, but it wasn't particularly heavy and he didn't feel any sort of burning.

There were a few seconds of shocked silence, but then there were hands on him, pulling him off of Grace frantically. John fought at first, until he realized that it was Gabby and she was speaking.

"Are you both alright?" she demanded.

John nodded as Grace answered. "We're okay, Gabby. I promise."

"Elizabeth?" he asked, a note of desperation in his voice.

Her immediate response brought him relief. "She's okay, John. I can see her, she's on her feet. Steven got her out of the jumper in time." She paused, and John knew she was surveying the scene. "It looks like everyone made it out. Daniel is running over here. I'm sure you can guess why."

Gabby helped Grace to her feet just in time for her father to sweep her up into his arms and hold her tightly. She got the feeling that Danny was going to be doing a lot of that while they tried to figure out their next steps. The Pegasus Galaxy was full of surprises and horrors, just like any other place, except that they were fairly unversed in all of them. She wondered if there was any way to keep him from having a heart attack every time he had to leave Grace in the care of others. Probably not. Gabby leaned down and gave John a hand back up, leading him back to the fallen tree he had been sitting on. The poor man was obviously frustrated at needing help, and at the same time, not being able to help the people he cared about. She hoped that his recovery went quickly, for his heart's sake if nothing else.

Danny clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you, Sheppard."

It was a simple show of gratitude, but Gabby could see that it was what John had needed. A little proof that he was contributing, even if it wasn't in the bigger ways that he was used to.

"They're coming back for a second hit!" Teyla warned.

Gabby looked around for a place for them to hide, but apparently Lorne had different ideas. Most everything had been salvaged from the jumper, and that included a rocket launcher they'd never had much of an excuse to use. The major handled the weapon with ease, though, and he sighted the ship that was doing its level best to kill them. The rocket blasted out of the gun and shot upward, its aim true. The ship blasted into a million pieces that came crashing to the ground a little ways away from them. Lorne quickly reloaded, his eyes on the sky, but everything was silent now.

Elizabeth's commanding voice cut through everyone's shock at what had just happened. "Ronon, take Teyla and Lorne with you to check out the debris. Make sure no one crawled out and is deciding on how best to hit back. Learn whatever you can. The rest of us will pull into the trees a little ways for more cover.

Gabby couldn't help but smile as Ronon nodded and the three of them immediately ran off in the direction of the crash. Elizabeth may have spent a significant amount of time away from Atlantis, but she was still a leader in everyone's eyes. With John out of commission temporarily, she was exactly what they needed.

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Steve sat with his back against a tree, gaze lost in the dying embers from their dinner fire. The night was dark and heavy, pressing in on them from all sides as though it wanted to erase them from existence all together. He knew that it was just the anxiety of the situation weighing on him, but he still couldn’t shake the feeling. Everything had changed so much in the past twenty-four hours, and it was the second time in less than six months that the life he had known was completely destroyed. They hadn’t been on Atlantis for long, but they had fallen into a rhythm and were starting to get their feet under them again. Now they were going to have to start all over.

They weren’t alone this time, though. Dragging his eyes away from the fire, he looked at the people around him. Most were sleeping, though Teyla was sitting on the other side of camp, keeping watch like Steve was. Lieutenant Cadman had finally fought her way out of the woods, and Carson had announced to them over their meager dinner that she was going to make it. The relief had been palpable, and much needed after everything they’d been through.

Steve recognized that their surviving group was made up entirely of fighters. Not necessarily physically - he didn’t think Carson, Malia, or Radek could do much in the way of hand-to-hand combat - but definitely emotionally. Even Grace wasn’t exempt from that, though that fact didn’t really surprise him. He saw a lot of Danny in her and she was holding up better than anyone could have asked for. There had been tears, but there hadn’t been any despair, and that was what mattered.

Things would get better once Sheppard got his sight back. It wasn’t that Ronon, Lorne, or Steve himself couldn’t make the military decisions - each one of them was trained for things like this. John was the leader. It had been like that when Steve arrived in Atlantis, and he knew that the rest of the group was comfortable with that status quo.

His eyes wandered over to the woman sleeping beside Sheppard. Steve really hadn’t gotten a chance to get to know Elizabeth Weir too well, but from what he could see so far, she was held in high respect. Her instructions concerning the enemy ship had come naturally and they had made good sense. The group didn’t care that Elizabeth hadn’t commanded Atlantis in years. She was their leader. He got the feeling that once she and John were leading together, everyone would breathe a collective sigh of relief. It was just the way things were supposed to be.

There was quiet movement to his left, and then Kono appeared out of the darkness. Steve tensed at the sight of her, but at the same time, he wasn't all that surprised to see her. It only took one look at her lately to know that she wasn't sleeping well - and that was before the attack on Atlantis.

"I'm not supposed to be relieved for another two hours," he said quietly as she sat down beside him. He couldn't help but notice the space she left between them.

"I know. Got sick of lying there staring up at the trees."

"You need your rest, though."

She gave a quiet snort. "We both know how elusive that can be. Especially lately."

Steve nodded, unsure of what else to say. His conversation with Danny back on Atlantis came back to him. His friend had urged him to talk to Kono. It wasn't that he didn't want to. He did, so much so that it caught him off-guard. Every time he opened his mouth, though, he saw the look on her face when they lost Chin. He may have done the right thing by putting him down, but Steve feared that he had ultimately ruined whatever friendship he had with Kono. That thought cut him deeply and his chest tightened.

"We were lucky," Kono said suddenly, her voice low.

"What?"

"We were lucky. We got enough supplies from the Alpha site before the Wraith got there and destroyed it. We have some food, more weapons, extra clothes, enough tents for us all. We have a chance at actually making it."

Steve nodded, though he wasn't sure she could see it in the darkness. He had gone through the nearby Stargate earlier that day with Ronon, Carson, and Elizabeth. None of them were actually foolish enough to believe that the location of the Alpha site had remained a secret from their attackers. Kolya had been in the city and had gotten to the computers before the self-destruct had been executed. Whether the bastard had gotten out before the explosion was beside the point - information traveled quickly and easily and Kolya had most likely shared it with whomever he'd coordinated the attack with. That meant that the Alpha site was no longer a viable place for them to settle down. It had been fully loaded with supplies though, and they sorely needed those.

"They completely destroyed it," he observed. "I think we can count on the Wraith doing their best to hunt us down."

Kono gave a little shrug. "That's not really so different from usual, though."

"Point."

"What about Kolya? Sheppard seems pretty nervous about whether or not he survived the explosion."

Steve thought about it for a minute. "From the way Sheppard describes him, I think it would be foolish to assume that he's dead. He seems to have a fixation on Sheppard - and Weir, really - and now that he's working with the Wraith, he's got more resources at hand." He paused. "That body we found in the crashed ship is bothering me, too."

It had been immediately obvious that there was something different about the body. Ronon had carried it back to camp for Carson to look over, but it ended up being a joint venture between the doctor and Zelenka. Metal and computer components had been introduced into the body, replacing an arm, an eye, and a hip. The electronics had shorted out in the crash, but as Zelenka looked them over, he pronounced that they were highly advanced and made whomever they were attached to a much more dangerous adversary. Enhanced eyesight mixed with bio-mechanical sensors, increased strength...if people like this had filled Kolya's army, then it wasn't a surprise that they had been able to kill so many in Atlantis.

"The Wraith experimented on Weir and Danny," Steve continued. "It's not a stretch to think that when Kolya teamed up with them, he got some upgrades as well."

Kono couldn't completely suppress the shudder that ran up her spine. "Just what we need."

They both fell silent again. Neither was the type to fill the air with useless words just to make themselves feel better, and the space between them was both comfortable and painful. Steve hurt every time he looked at her, but he would never have asked her to move away, and he was glad when she sat by his side for the rest of his watch.

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John had never been a big fan of mornings. The military hadn't really given him a choice in the matter, though, so he had learned to deal with it ages ago. And no matter how much his brain didn't like five a.m., his body didn't really have a problem with it, especially when they were in new territory and Wraith were hunting them down. His mind, slower to get with the program, took a few extra minutes to brush away the nighttime fog and then his eyes were finally fluttering open, squinting slightly against the early sunrise this planet had.

He froze, forcing his eyes to stay open as he stared at the tree branches swaying overhead.

Elizabeth shifted at his side, somehow alerted to the tension in his body. "John?" she asked, her voice muffled as she struggled to come awake. "What's wrong?"

He shook his head head, almost giddy when the things in his vision moved with him. "I can see," he whispered.

She sat up immediately, sleep falling away from her completely. "What?"

A small smile tugged at his mouth. "I can see."

Elizabeth leaned over him then, putting her face right in his line of sight. John's smile grew as he finally laid eyes on her for the first time in three days and one of his hands came up to touch the hair falling over her shoulder.

"'Lizabeth," he whispered.

His hand moved from her hair to her face, fingers tracing the lines there. Usually looking at her for too long caused him pain at the guilt he still carried, but this time the relief overwhelmed everything else. She was right there and now he could see her.

Elizabeth was smiling, too, and she shook her head slightly at him, her eyes moist. Leaning down, she pressed a lingering kiss to his cheek and then a quick one on his lips before pulling back and sitting back up.

"You know what this means, don't you?" she asked, one eyebrow arched in typical fashion.

He was still off-kilter from the touch of her lips against his. "What?"

"No more lazing around for you."

Her response broke the spell and he laughed before giving her a smirk. "Does this mean I get my gun back?"

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Elizabeth sighed as she splashed cool water from the stream on her face. She found herself torn between the desire to completely despair over their circumstances and an immense thankfulness for the things that they had. John's sight coming back to him that morning was a huge help for everyone's spirit, and the camp felt lighter. Ronon seemed especially relieved to have his friend healthy again and Grace had given him a big hug. Any piece of good news was counted as a gain these days.

"Elizabeth?"

She started slightly at the voice, turning to see Teyla stepping out of the woods.

"I'm sorry," the Athosian said quietly. "I did not mean to startle you or to intrude on your private time."

Elizabeth waved a hand at her. "Don't worry about it. Besides, I'm not sure any of us really gets 'private time' anymore."

"Though we should be careful not to lose things such as that. It can be very important for keeping one focused and sane."

"That is very true. Was there something you needed, or were you just out for a walk?"

"I was hoping I could speak with you, actually. It is something I believe should be brought up to the group, but I wanted to talk it over with you first."

She was touched that Teyla had chosen to come to her before the group. She gestured toward a couple of rocks and the two of them sat down.

“Of course. What’s on your mind?”

“With the Alpha site compromised, I think it is safe to say that we do not have a specific destination in mind at the moment.”

“That’s true,” Elizabeth agreed. “It’s definitely something we’re going to have to figure out soon.”

“But it would be safe to assume that we are not going to remain here, since our attackers know that we came to this planet.”

“I agree. I imagine we’ll move on at first light tomorrow. The only thing really holding us back is Cadman, but John and Carson have been discussing making a stretcher to carry her.”

Teyla nodded. “You know that there are many different cultures in the Pegasus Galaxy - many more than any of us could even conceive of. We are sure to run into cultures that clash with our own, which I’m afraid could lead to some...unpleasant altercations.”

Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed. “Do you have an idea on how to minimize those altercations?”

“I do.” She took a long breath, as though she were still weighing her words. “You know that women are highly valued among my people. They had no issue with a woman leading them and being her own person.”

“Of course. We saw that many times with your people.”

“Unfortunately, not all other cultures are so enlightened. Women are viewed as...as property. As something to be conquered and owned. There is not a weak-willed woman among us, Elizabeth. And I am afraid that perhaps some cultures will see independent women who speak their mind as a challenge to be dominated.”

“So you’re saying that some men will see unmarried women as something to be bridled...and they might attack us?”

“Yes,” Teyla replied. “I know of some such cultures. It is acceptable and even expected for men to forcefully take the women that they want. If none of our women appear to be unmarried, then they will have less reason to try and cause any trouble.” She paused. “It would not take much to pull off such a ruse,” she added. “Simply sharing tents and introducing us as wives should do the trick. I simply want to make sure that we are protected.”

Elizabeth gave her a reassuring smile. “I know, Teyla. And honestly, I’m glad you thought of this. I get the feeling that we have no idea what’s in store for us. If we can worry less about being kidnapped or forcefully taken as wives, that would be very helpful.” She got to her feet. “Come on. We might as well break it to the group now.”

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“You’re joking, right?” Mary asked.

She was the only one who spoke up when Elizabeth and Teyla brought their suggestion before the group. Most of the men shifted uncomfortably, but Elizabeth didn’t think it was because they were adverse to the plan. The sidelong glances they were shooting at their female counterparts said that they were more worried about what they would have to say about the whole thing.

Mary answered her own question. “You’re not joking, are you?” She sighed. “Great. So we’re all gonna be fake married?”

“I suppose you could get married for real, if you wanted to,” Gabby said. “Though Steven might want to break the poor man’s face. I get the feeling he’d be an overly protective big brother.”

Mary rolled her eyes with a smile. “I have noticed those tendencies in him.”

“Shocking.” Gabby got to her feet and stood in the middle of the group. “What Teyla and Elizabeth have said is important. I think for the safety of the camp and each other, we can deal with sharing tents and making googly eyes at each other if necessary?”

There were a few chuckles and nods before Lorne spoke up.

“I don’t think you’re going to find any of the guys unwilling,” he said. “Just tell us who we’re paired up with and we’ll go with it.”

“Now hold on a minute,” Carson cut in. “I realize that these are fake marriages, but it could still cause some awkwardness. I think the women should choose who they’d like to be paired up with. It’s their safety we’re most concerned with, after all.”

No one had any objections to that, but no one made the first move to claim anyone, either. Gabby sighed and rolled her eyes, about to open her mouth, when Gracie beat her to it.

“You’re gonna stay with me and Danno, right Gabby?”

She fought down a small blush and glanced at Danny, who was staring right at her. A small smile tugged at his lips and she nodded.

“Of course, darling. As long as your father thinks he can handle the both of us in one tent.”

“I think I’m up to the challenge,” he replied.

The blush wouldn’t go away and she gave up trying. Turning away from him, she nodded at Teyla.

“Am I right to assume that you’ll be staying with Ronon? Or have you grown tired of your Satedan warrior? You could always use this opportunity to try someone else out,” she teased.

Teyla glanced at Ronon. “I believe I shall keep him. For now, anyway.”

Gabby fixed her gaze on Elizabeth. “You’re pretty much a given as well, right darling?”

Elizabeth noticed the way John tensed at the question. For a moment she was afraid that he didn’t want to be paired with her. She did her best to quell the panic in the pit of her stomach. Things had been going well between them lately - at least, she had thought so.

“Elizabeth?” Gabby pressed.

She gave John a nervous smile. “I hope you don’t mind being stuck with me.”

He met her gaze and she forced herself to relax. She had always been able to read him; she wasn’t going to let two years apart change that. Once her own insecurities were pushed aside, Elizabeth realized that he was afraid she wasn’t going to pick him. The relief in his eyes made her smile grow.

“It’s probably better this way,” he replied. “Now I won’t have to keep asking about you and threatening whoever you were paired with.”

“Trust me, ma’am,” Lorne interrupted, “it’s not pretty when Sheppard’s worried about you. I’ve been on the receiving end of the interrogation whenever you came off-world with my team.”

John had the decency to look slightly embarrassed about that, but Gabby let him off the hook and moved on.

“Malia?”

“I’d like to stay with Carson.” She shrugged as she looked over at him. “If that’s alright, of course.”

“It’s wonderful,” Carson replied, the smile on his face warm and genuine. “It’s a pleasure to know I’ll be sharing a tent with someone I can have a civilized conversation with.”

Gabby took a few seconds to study the last three women. She was fairly certain that Kono and Cadman could be a problem. There was something strange and painful in the air between Kono and Steve, despite the fact that they were close friends. Cadman felt like a burden at the moment, and had tried convincing a few people that they should just leave her behind because she was going to slow them down. Lorne had threatened to gag her at that point. Mary McGarrett was the wild card. She probably wasn’t going to pick Steve, since he was her brother, but she might choose Lorne. Gabby had her reasons for wanting to avoid that. She decided to take a gamble.

“Laura?” she asked, turning to where Cadman was lying by the fire pit. “How about you?”

“And before you ask,” Lorne cut in, “nobody is leaving you behind. So just pick somebody and deal with it.”

Laura glowered at him. “Watch it, flyboy. I’ll pick you.”

“Good,” he nodded. “It’s decided, then.”

“What? Wait -”

“You heard her say it, didn’t you?” Lorne asked Gabby. “She chose me.”

“That’s what I heard,” she confirmed. “Thank you, Laura.” She didn’t give the redhead anytime to object. “Mary?”

“I’m good with Radek here,” she said, patting the scientist on the knee.

He muttered something in Czech that Gabby didn’t quite catch. “What was that?”

“Nothing,” Radek replied. “I think Mary Ann likes to see how badly she can shock me with the things she says. Now she’ll have ample opportunity to give me a heart attack.”

“But what a way to go,” Mary quipped.

Gabby laughed before turning to Kono. “I assume you’re good with Steven?”

There was a tightness to her expression, and Steve looked a little pale, but Kono nodded. “Yeah, of course. Someone’s gotta keep an eye on him.”

“And I think you’re the perfect woman for the job.” She took a deep breath, glad that that was over and done with. “Now, Radek was mentioning to me something about a legend in Atlantean history that he found. It might be relevant to us, especially since it’s probably not the best idea to stay here much longer.”

Everyone's attention immediately turned to Radek.

"Well don't leave us hanging, Zelenka," John said. "Right now we're sitting ducks."

"Of course," Radek said, pushing his glasses up higher on nose. "Well, I've been going through the Ancient database lately. Not for any particular reason, really. Well, that's not entirely true. I started going through it more deeply once we learned that the Wraith were looking to experiment on Replicators and we discovered that they had both Elizabeth and Detective Williams..."

"There's a point to this, right?" Ronon asked.

"Yes. I'm sorry." He took a deep breath. "I did not find what I was looking for, but I did find multiple references to a...well, a sister city to Atlantis."

There were multiple frowns around the group. John was the first to speak, though.

"Didn't we already find one of those? The Replicators built one in their ridiculous quest to replace the Ancients."

Danny held up a hand. "There was a second Atlantis?"

Gabby leaned over. "Later, darling. It's a long story and John lacks patience," she said quietly.

He nodded. "Right. Carry on, then."

"Technically," Radek continued, "the city that the Replicators built on Asuras was just that...a replica. The city that was referenced in the database was built by the Ancients as a twin. From what I could gather, it wasn't as heavily populated as Atlantis, but it was completely operational. I believe that it may have served as a backup in case the city ever fell."

"But wouldn't the Ancients have gone there during the war with the Wraith instead of ascending or going to Earth?" Ronon asked.

Radek shrugged. "Perhaps some of them did. It's not like we have a list of all the Ancients and where they went."

"So where is this place?"

"That would be where the problem lies. Because they were afraid of others learning the location of this city, it was never explicitly named in the database. There are a series of clues that should lead us there, but they must be followed in order." He paused. "That is assuming, of course, that this city indeed exists and wasn't just a myth. Or that it hasn't been destroyed over the years."

Silence fell over the camp as everyone tried to digest the information. Elizabeth and John shared a long look, weighing their options in that silent way that had always marked their leadership in the city. No one else voiced any opinions, and Elizabeth realized that they were waiting for her and John.

"Radek," John started, "you said that the location is hidden in a series of clues?"

"Yes."

"And do you have the first clue?"

"Yes. We're lucky, actually. They're not in any sort of riddle format. The first clue is a Gate address. I'm assuming that we just go there and the second clue will be there."

No one mentioned that finding that second clue could prove to be extremely difficult.

John shrugged as he turned back to Elizabeth. "It's not like we really have any alternative options."

"I agree," she said. "Tomorrow at first light, we'll go through the Gate."

Everyone nodded, and there was a small sense of relief. Things weren't perfect, but there was at least a first step forward now, and it gave them all something to focus on.

"Rest up, everyone," Elizabeth suggested. "I think we're going to have some very long days ahead of us."