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beth writing 30 days without

FIC: "What We Must Do" (1/1) PG - Written for LFWS #2, Round 8

At this stage of the LFWS #2 challenge only the first place story received a banner.  This story placed second out of three entries. 

:  What We Must Do
Author:  maddie_amber
Word Count:  920
Rating: PG
Prompt:  AU challenge.  Create a pure AU. Put the team somewhere other than Atlantis and in jobs other than those shown on the show.
Disclaimer:  All characters belong to MGM.   No infringement intended. 


 What We Must Do




 Shrouded by smoke and dust filled air, fires pulsed all around him casting a ruddy, baleful glow over the ghastly work of the Elites.  The air was acrid with the stench of their weapons, the cloying metallic scent of blood, and the reek of charred flesh.  No one could have survived such an assault.


His voice was a hollow echo in the presence of so many who should not have died.  Who would not have died, had he not left them.  In the short breathe of his absence so many had given their lives.  He was the one they wanted.  He should have been the sacrifice. 

Staggering through the crumbled archway that led to the main quad, he stood in the heart of the institution, where students and faculty regularly met to laugh and debate, where the vibrant life of the university was like a heartbeat.  From their airborne beasts, the Elites had rained fire upon the assembled crowd leveling humans and stonework alike until the ravaged square looked like a battlefield.


A wheeze and a shudder of movement drew his attention to the crumbled wall of the arboretum several feet to his left.  Slumped there was a dark figure swathed in academic robes, head down the source of the wracking cough.  “Rodney!” he called again, rushing to the man then kneeling to support him. 

 “John,” Rodney rasped, caught in another spasm of coughing. 

Rodney was covered in dust and blood, cradling his arm against his middle, his robes rent from shoulder to elbow, a bloody gash beneath.  

“What happened?”  John asked the question even though he knew the answer.

“Elites.  Came at us in the darkness.  We had no warning.”  The words came out in a breathless rush.  “It was a peaceful rally.  We were waiting for you.  We weren’t armed.  They didn’t even ask us to concede, they just attacked.”  Rodney’s voice rose, becoming more shrill as he spoke.   “We never had a chance.”

“My fault,” John said.  I should have been here, this might not have happened, he thought.  John’s gut rolled.  Before he could say more he felt Rodney tense. 

“They’re back,” Rodney squeaked, panic edging the tone of his voice even higher. 

John heard it too, the swish of wings cutting the night air.  He felt the compression beneath a powerful down stroke followed by the sudden draft of air.  He shoved Rodney back against the shelter of the crumbled wall, protecting him with his own body.  Seconds later, the creature descended between them and the firelight.  A rustle of feathers as its wings folded were the only sound it made.  The powerful avian, twice the height of the average man, wore the distinctive crested headpiece of the Elite.  Came back to finish the job, John thought.  He felt Rodney tremble behind him, but to his credit the man remained silent. 

He heard the creak of leather and metal against metal as the avian’s rider slipped to the ground.  There was a familiarity about this animal that John couldn’t quite recognize through the smoky haze until he heard its rider’s voice.  

“Professor McKay…Dr. Sheppard?” came a tentative inquiry. 

“Teyla,” John called back, a rush of relief replacing his caution.  “Over here.  Near the conservatory.  McKay’s wounded.”

Teyla stepped around the avian, which turned as she did, its bronze feathers gleaming in the phantom firelight, its eyes iridescent orbs in the darkness. 

Teyla, always calm and in control, looked distraught.  “I came to warn you.” She said her voice a whisper.  “I am too late.”

“There’s another one coming,” McKay said, hunkering even farther down into the shadows.

Teyla paused, her head cocked to the side listening.  She breathed a sigh.  “It is Ronon.”

In the space of time it took to speak a second avian landed in the courtyard.  A shimmering, black-feathered beast that stood half again as tall as Teyla’s mount.  As Ronon leaped from its back his avian moved protectively closer to Teyla’s.

If Teyla had been shocked by the destruction at the university, Ronon was enraged.  Anger simmered in his dark eyes, his jaw clenched, and his hand reflexively gripped the weapon at his side.  As always he spoke bluntly.  “Word of this attack is spreading.  People are rising up in all the small villages and towns.”

“The Elite will be spread thin trying to quell the insurrection.  An insurrection they started with their own greed for power.” Teyla added.  “We need to get you two to safety while they are distracted.”  

“You are both Elite,” John said.  “You’ll be marked as traitors if anyone finds out you’ve helped us.”

“I can no longer claim allegiance to those who take innocent lives,” Teyla said firmly.

Ronon snarled.  He produced a short sharp knife and wordlessly cut one of his long locks of hair.  The lock was circled by a single gold band, his badge of rank among the Elite.  Tossing the lock and band to the ground at John’s feet, he said simply, “I have a new allegiance.” 

“Now come,” Teyla commanded. 

“I won’t hide from this fight,” John protested.

“You cannot fight if you are a prisoner,” Teyla said.

John looked again at the devastation that had once been a place of study and learning.  “I never wanted to be the leader of a revolution.”

“Sometimes our fate is not what we want, but what we must do,” Teyla said.  There was steely conviction in her voice.  

“We’re all with you,” Ronon added.

“Then let’s go.” John said firmly.