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Week 17: Relic

Title: RELIC
Author: stella_pegasi
Rating: Gen / PG
Spoilers / Warnings: None
Word count: 2,227
Disclaimer: I do not own them, I would have treated them better.
Summary: The discovery of an Ancient outpost leads John Sheppard to make a unique discovery of his own.
Prompt: Week 17 Trace





RELIC

By stella_pegasi

"Colonel, can you come here, sir?"

John Sheppard had just arrived from Atlantis, after Rodney reported that they found an Ancient outpost. He stepped over the remains of an exterior wall that had once been part of the compound. Nearly half of the outpost lay in ruins, working in the area that remained intact was the archeologist who had just asked the question.

He joined Dr. Parker Jones, head of the Ancient artifacts department, who was standing in front of what appeared to be a doorway. Dr. Radek Zelenka was working on the power source next to the door.

"Looks like a door, Jones."

"Yes, sir; we just uncovered it. Radek thinks he can reroute power to the door, but we don't know if it will open without the gene."

"Radek, there's power here?"

"Yes, colonel; we discovered a chamber with a ZPM power module." Noting the rise of Sheppard's eyebrow, Radek quickly added, "The ZPM is nearly depleted; Rodney is not certain there is enough power to divert to this door control to get it to open."

"Whatever power is there is all we have to work with." Rodney McKay emerged from a passageway behind them, "Radek, move; let me do that." McKay not so gently shoved Zelenka out of the way. He fiddled with the control crystals, wiping his brow several times; the planet they were on was arid and hot. The crystals finally lit up, and McKay ran his hand in front of the control panel…nothing happened. After he tried unsuccessfully twice more, Sheppard spoke.

"Rodney, allow me." Sheppard paused, his focus on the doorway; within seconds, the door began to slide open, its movement sluggish and halting before it opened completely.

McKay gave Sheppard a snarky stare, "Show off."

Dr. Jones started to enter the newly opened chamber, but Sheppard grabbed his arm. "No, doc, let us go first." Motioning to a couple of Marines, who had been standing guard, Sheppard said, "Let's go."

As soon as he crossed the threshold, dim lights began to come on in the chamber. The initial room they entered was large, with several tables and benches scattered about. There were two other doorways and one opening that appeared to be the beginning of a long corridor leading from the room. Calling for McKay and Jones to enter, Sheppard and the two Marines did a quick check of the doors and hallway, then returned to the main chamber.

"Looks like this area is probably barracks of some kind; most of the rooms down the hall are small rooms with bunks, and there are a couple of heads as well," Sheppard reported. "There looks like a lot of personal belongings still there.

Dr. Jones, who was standing in the door of one of the adjoining rooms, "Colonel, if these are military barracks, do you think this might be the quarters of the commanding officer?"

Sheppard entered the room, immediately feeling something familiar, safe. The lights brightened as he walked around the room revealing a desk, several chairs, a bed, and a doorway leading to a small bath. The room was very neat but showed signs of being lived in; a jacket flung across the back of a chair, a mug sitting on the desk next to a an Ancient monitor.

"I think this could be the commander's quarters." Sheppard walked over to a cabinet and opened it, "Yes, Dr. Jones; I think these are definitely military quarters," inside Sheppard found weapons; small handheld devices like those that he saw on the Aurora and larger versions of the same design.

Jones brushed past Sheppard, "We've never found hand weapons on Atlantis, so where did these come from?"

"Good question and one I have always wondered about. We knew from our interaction with the Aurora that the Ancients certainly had personal weapons, but there were no weapon's caches on Atlantis."

McKay walked up, "At least none we've found, but there is so much of the city we haven't explored. Who knows what could still be there?"

Sheppard picked up one of the small familiar weapons and the pale blue crystal inside began to glow, "These are really cool."

"Well, watch it flyboy, you still don't know how these things work," McKay said, backing away. A glare from Sheppard was his only reply.

"Colonel, this is an amazing find. We've never found an outpost that looked like someone simply walked away. Everything is well preserved, probably because these chambers were sealed and this planet is very arid. We will need to be careful with the artifacts, and maintain this environment until we can take precautions. I'm going to need quite a bit of time to catalogue all of this."

"Take all the time you need, Dr. Jones."

"Sheppard," McKay was heading for the door, "I'm heading back to the ZedPM room. Come on, Zelenka." McKay, Zelenka, and Jones left leaving Sheppard alone in the commander's chambers.

He wandered around the room, opening drawers, then the closet finding articles of clothing, a stash of small boxes that held crystals in a desk drawer, but it was next to the bed, inside a small bedside cabinet that he found the box.

The box was familiar. They had found several of them on Atlantis, larger than a cigar box, with a removable lid that usually had some type of adornment. This box was simpler than most he had seen; the top was smooth, without carvings or crystal inlays. Sheppard felt like a voyeur as he removed the lid, he felt as though he was intruding on someone's privacy.

Within seconds, Sheppard realized the box held personal items of whoever had occupied the room. Inside were many small data crystals, along with a small device he had never seen. He picked up the small object, about the size of a box of matches and was startled when it activated, and a hologram appeared. The image was of a smiling woman, short dark hair framing her face, her dark eyes bright with laughter. He felt his heart seize for a moment; he had no doubt that she was very important to the occupant of the room. Sheppard wondered how many lonely nights the commander spent in this room staring at her beautiful face. He stared himself for a few more minutes, almost reluctant to let her go, but finally returned the small device to the box.

Rummaging further, he found several medals, the first discovery of what appeared to be military awards. He pulled them from the box one by one, laying them on the bed. There were twelve medals, inlaid with crystals and embossed with Ancient lettering. He had learned to read the Ancient language; the words 'valor', 'duty,' 'honor,' 'distinction' appeared on many of the medals. This commander was a hero.

Tucked in the corner of the box was a dark-green sash of some kind, a symbol embroidered on it and underneath the sash, an item that brought a smile to Sheppard's face. A leather wristband, in perfect condition, was the last object in the box. Before he removed it, he ran his fingertips across the stitching running along the edge of the band, feeling the stiff leather. He picked the wristband up and examined it. The golden red leather was smooth, a design that vaguely reminded him of the stained glass on Atlantis was branded onto the leather. The edges of the leather cuff were asymmetrical, curving along one edge, coming to a point on another.

Sheppard sat for a bit longer, examining all the items, not able to resist viewing the hologram once more. Cautiously, he replaced the contents of the box and carrying it, he left the room in search of Dr. Jones.

The next few weeks were filled with surprises from the outpost. While they had discovered numerous scientific outposts and certainly found defensive outposts, this was the first time they had uncovered what appeared to be a true military compound. The crystals they found in the desk were filled with daily logs, and mission reports. What was mysterious was there was no reference to Atlantis in any of the data. However, there was no denying that the outpost was of Ancient design. The situation was the main topic of conversation on Atlantis.

The normally reserved Richard Woolsey was pacing in the conference room as he listened to Dr. Jones' latest report. He finally interrupted the archeologist, "What you are telling us is that there is no mention of Atlantis in any of the data that you have recovered?"

"No sir, not one mention; however, there are references to a 'headquarters,' which does lead us to believe that there was a stronger presence of these Ancients in Pegasus."

McKay blurted out, "Not so fast. The power station held three ZedPMs; I am not convinced that an outpost would normally hold that much power, unless they had a longer distance to travel. I think for these Ancients this may have been an outpost in another galaxy, much as we are."

Woolsey sat down, "Well, that just leaves us with a bigger mystery than we had before."

Sheppard spoke, "The one thing we can deduce from the personal items left is that whatever happened to the inhabitants it happened quickly. There are reports of an enemy referred to as 'the others.' Beyond, we have nothing more than mission reports, which Zelenka is comparing to descriptions of the planets in the Atlantis database; hoping to find some common locations."

Turning to McKay, Woolsey asked, "Doctor, do you have any idea of the time frame we are dealing with here; were these people here before Atlantis?"

McKay stumbled over his answer. "I…I…I don't know. The structure appears to be one of the oldest that we have found, but the dry conditions on the planet preserved the outpost and its contents. Other than the damage from what may be a weapon, everything was nearly pristine, old, but pristine. There are simply too many questions that we have no answers for at the moment."

"The only good thing," Sheppard added, "is that we have acquired an ancient armory. Who knows when those weapons will come in handy?"

With nothing more to discuss, the meeting adjourned leaving as many questions as before. Later in the day, Dr. Jones caught up with Sheppard; he was carrying the commander's box.

"Colonel, I know that you have a special affinity for this," he held out the box. "We have cataloged and photographed everything and copied the contents of the crystals. I thought you might like to keep the box yourself, sir. I mean it's not as if we have a museum to keep things in for others to view. I think this should be with someone who appreciates it."

Sheppard was stunned for a moment, "Thanks, doc; I…yes, I would like to have the box." He took the artifact from the archeologist.

"Sir, the leather cuff needs to be conditioned often. The higher humidity here might damage it due to its probable age. I think the restoring paste that the chemistry department created should keep in supple and in good shape."

Sheppard nodded and changed direction, turning toward his quarters. He sat down on the bed, and opened the box. The first object he withdrew was the hologram object; feeling comfort as he gazed at the woman's smiling face. Jones had placed a small jar of the restoring paste and a soft cloth in the box, and he took those out before he took the leather cuff out. He applied paste to the cloth and began to rub the thick white cream to the cuff.

As he gently rubbed along the grain of the leather, he thought about the commander's private logs that had been translated. Most of the logs were messages that were probably transmitted to his family and friends. Someone named Chava, who Sheppard thought must be a friend; someone named Inzi, who he believed to be the commander's mother, and Seve, who he was certain was the beautiful woman of the hologram. He wrote little about his mission, Sheppard felt that likely meant the mission was covert. The commander wrote of the men and women in his command, how he never felt hydrated enough in the arid weather. In the transmission to Seve, he spoke of how much he missed her, and that he hoped to be home with her soon; familiar words written by military personnel regardless of who they were or where they were from. Perhaps that fact alone was why Sheppard felt so drawn to the commander's things. Yet Sheppard knew there was more than that drawing him to his counterpart from so long ago.

Sheppard stopped rubbing for a moment and turned the cuff so that he could see the front. He smiled as he traced the small Ancient letters embossed inside the cuff's design. The translation had also uncovered the commander's name…Jorus Stamasus. The tiny letters on the cuff were the commander's initials, 'JS.' John Sheppard smiled. They may never discover who these Ancients were, or why they were in Pegasus, but he could make certain of one thing. As he continued to rub the paste into the cuff, he would see to it that Jorus Stamasus, the men and women of his command, and the woman he loved would never be forgotten.

The end…

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sherry57
Sep. 25th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Awwww... this is so sad, poignant and full of such quiet powerful emotion. I feel so sad for the passing of the commander, one certain JS, and the woman he so obviously loved. Sheppard being attracted to the beautiful woman he sees, takes it on as his responsibility to make sure these people are not forgotten.
This is yet another part of history in the Pegasus Galaxy that our people in Atlantis are coming across. People that are long gone but their traces are left behind and can be seen through technology that Atlantis can use. This makes it much sadder than reading about them in history books. It makes them real people.
Sweet story that made me feel sad but glad at the same time. Powerful stuff hon.
stella_pegasi
Sep. 25th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. This story is a bit melancholy but I wanted it to be. A glance at the past which shows that nothing that really matters changes.

I think we forget about the people as we remember the events...glad you enjoyed.
leesa_perrie
Sep. 26th, 2011 08:25 am (UTC)
Sad, poignant and lovely! You handled the emotions perfectly!
stella_pegasi
Sep. 27th, 2011 02:11 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed.
tridget
Sep. 26th, 2011 08:59 am (UTC)
Beautiful little tale. I especially liked how the find was focused not only on objects but also on people and their lives. Loved the ending. It fit so well for John to make sure they were remembered.
stella_pegasi
Sep. 27th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, I'm happy that you like the story.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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