The Soul of Ulysses
Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story was created for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s), not me. Thank you to the amazing writers, producers, actors, crew and directors who bring these shows to life.
Rating: Gen/T – action/adventure
Characters: Weir, with a very brief touch of the Team, Beckett and Caldwell
Acknowledgement: Thanks to NT for the quick beta!
A/N: This is the second in my poem inspired ficlets, inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses" and that most famous line, "to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield." It can be found here: Ulysses
SPOILERS FOR THE RETURN PART ONE, BUT NOT RETURN PART TWO. This just makes the assumption that they all survive. There are no spoilers for the second half of Season Three in this. Think of it as a tag to The Return, if you will, but not necessarily AU.
Description: Elizabeth on her withdrawal back on Earth in The Return Part I, and on her to return to Pegasus.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
to rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
Just weeks ago she had been sitting curled in a ball, surrounded by softness, her mind blank and empty, her eyes glazed over in a waking sleep.
The right hand cushion of her plush sofa had developed a permanent dent from her weight, her body rarely shifting from that location in her rented apartment. Sitting there, mindless and morose, she stared across the room at the opposite window for days on end, watching time pass by through the panes of glass.
The sun had angled through it during the day, and tracked a square across her floor, shifting slowly from right to left. Every day, right to left. Every hour...right to left.
Once or twice, she remembered, it had rained.
The gauzy white curtains had fluttered in the soft breeze filtering through, and she wondered at how they had become the only true source of unpredictability in her comfortable, pleasant life.
It was not a pretty view on the other side. She could only see the house opposite—slate blue wooden slats, white painted storm windows, a dormer with a cracked eave….If she strained her eyes, she could see in through the windows into the shadowed rooms themselves, which, during the day, were dark and lifeless.
At night, she could see people moving around, sometimes merely shadows, sometimes she could see their faces. Average people, who laughed and frowned and got angry and smiled and looked tired. They never saw her, and she had yet to see any of them cry.
She remembered thinking that was probably a good thing.
Just weeks ago, she had sat in stillness, safe and secure in this place that was hers, in this place where she was alone, watching the people in the house opposite move on with their lives.
Her arms had curled around her legs, tightening and loosening as the hours drifted by. Sometimes she played with the frayed thread at the bottom of her pale gray sweatpants, drawing it away from her thin, bony ankle until she got sick of it and snapped it off. Sometimes, rarely, her eyes would drift down to the open laptop on her coffee table, to look at the open Word program glowing back at her.
The title of the document that still read “Document 1”.
She would jump a little when the phone rang, or when the doorbell buzzed, signaling arrival of lunch or dinner. Her little laptop would ding as messages rolled in, and her eyes would glance down the list of familiar names in the pop up window—McKay, R., Beckett, C., Sheppard, J., Landry, G....
She hadn’t replied to them. Just as she had never picked up the phone.
If Carson hadn’t arrived around the same time that she had been expecting the Chinese food, she wouldn’t have let him in.
But she had answered, and she had gone to dinner, and she had seen them again—her men. She had tried not to look any of them in the eye, too afraid of being reminded of what she had lost, of the desolation she had tried so hard to quell, of the insane need to be...alive.
And then, at dinner, her phone had rung.
Just weeks ago, when she had worn red again, for the first time in months, for the first time since they’d returned.
Just weeks ago.
When she felt dead.
She had worn red.
And her phone had rung.
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods...
Today she stood on the bridge of the Daedalus, clad all in black and red, the edges of her clothes pressed sharp and clean, the colors vivid against the gunmetal gray background. She was surrounded by angles, corners and pulsing, artificial light—all of it unsettling and unpredictable, cutting in its crisp efficiency. People swarmed around, watching and waiting, eyes on her instead of the other way around.
Today her chin was lifted, her arms crossed, weight resting in false casualness on one leg.
Her hard, disdainful green eyes stared at the creature's image on the main screen, projected to her from across the vast expanse of space, from the glittering hive ship visible through the windows of the Daedalus' control room.
And Elizabeth's red tinged lips crooked in a mocking smile.
The Wraith queen stared back, slitted eyes unblinking, a hint of uncertainty in their shallow depths.
"I do not understand," the Queen hissed, all sibilants and aggression. "You think to threaten us?"
“I do,” Elizabeth said, tilting her head down slightly.
"But we came to you!" The Queen's head rocked back with the words, her long golden hair shimmering around her shoulders as she moved. "We are the ones holding your people in our cells; the ones with the more powerful ship; the ones who will crush you if you do not give us what we want! You must negotiate!"
Elizabeth just snorted. "If you really believed that," she said, "then why did you demand to speak with me at all? Why not just crush us, if it's so simple? Other than the obvious..." Elizabeth's eyebrows lifted in contempt, "that none of you have yet succeeded in doing so."
The Wraith queen sneered, shaking her head, lifting her nose to peer down at the woman on the other side of the screen. “Then you will not negotiate. You care so little for your people? So little for these four pitiful Atlantians, that you will not do this simple thing? Will not provide us the technology to modify our hyperdrives?”
“We do not negotiate with Wraith,” Elizabeth replied. “We tried it once, and we learned our lesson. But you have not learned yours. This ship I stand in has destroyed many of your kind. Hundreds of Wraith, dead. Hive ships, cruisers, darts…all destroyed by one ship. You think we would negotiate with the likes of you, knowing what we can do?”
“Sir,” a technician called quietly from the side, looking over at Colonel Caldwell sitting in his command chair behind Elizabeth. “Hermiod says he has broken through their jamming signal.”
“Have you got a lock on their sub-cues?” Caldwell asked, just as quietly.
"Doctor Weir?" he called, louder so she could hear.
Elizabeth turned to look at him, and Caldwell lifted an eyebrow, waiting. It was her decision. She gave a small smile, and nodded back.
And turned once more to face the projection screen, eyes meeting the Queen's with a levelness that caused the Wraith to frown deeply.
“You made a mistake, asking for me to conduct this so-called negotiation,” Elizabeth told her, the words slick like ice. “You thought I would be foolish enough to give up my home and my people for nothing. Well, I don’t play that way.”
"This is not a game," the Queen snapped.
"No," Elizabeth agreed solemnly, "it is not." She lifted her chin, not moving her gaze from the Queen's. “Colonel Caldwell, beam them over.”
A moment, and the four members of Sheppard's Team appeared on the bridge, staggering a little at the sudden change and looking confused. Ronon held onto McKay's arm to catch his fall, while Teyla straightened from her instinctive fighter's crouch. Sheppard's eyes flashed between Caldwell and Weir, then to the screen, widening slightly. But Elizabeth did not spare a glance for him or his team, not yet. She just matched the Queen's former sneer, whose insect-like eyes were round with shock.
“How did you do that?!” the Wraith demanded, clearly seeing the team behind Elizabeth. “What did you just do?”
“I've taken the upper-hand," Elizabeth replied. "Thank you for talking to me long enough for us to break through your jamming signal."
The Queen stared at her, really looking at her for perhaps the first time. Finally, she gave a nod. "I may have underestimated you." Her eyes narrowed, "You are more like a Queen than I first assumed."
"Oh no," Elizabeth's smile grew, "I am no mere idle queen." The smile fell, replaced by something which finally did cause the Wraith Queen to look fully concerned for the first time. "Today," Elizabeth told her, "I am your destroyer." She turned to look sharply at Caldwell, “Colonel, the warhead.”
The Queen’s eye widened further, and the screen suddenly went blank. Through the windows, they could see the hive ship shudder and turn, banking to fly away....
And then it exploded. White light burst from the heart of the ship, expanding outwards in a soundless but powerful burst of energy, pulling in the ship like newspaper crumpling in the fire. Elizabeth shielded her eyes, then stared into the satisfying emptiness of what was left.
Only then, when it was over, did she turn to look at the soldiers and scientists in the room with her, at her team and at her friends, meeting their eyes and smiling at them. Caldwell smiled back, and so did Sheppard—one looking impressed, the other merely grateful and knowing.
Weeks ago, she was dead.
Today, two years and so many more weeks later, she was older, wiser, grayer...and stronger. She understood who she was now, and who she was not.
And she was taking her team forward into an uncertain future. They could all die tomorrow.
She never felt more alive.
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Hope you liked it!
I'm thinking of a twentieth century poem for the next one...