Author: Meridian (noveltea)
Warnings: Nothing, really.
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis, and all related characters, are not mine. I'm just borrowing them for a little bit, and they'll be returned in one piece, more or less.
Pairing: Teyla/Kanaan, Teyla/Sheppard
Prompt: Teyla is put in a situation (that hasn't been used yet in
canon, please) that forces her to explore her Wraith side. Integration
of the Season Four plotline, assuming you've seen S4, would be a
Spoilers: Probably not spoilers, but there are some slight references to Season 4.
Summary: The discovery of Wraith technology within Atlantis leads Teyla to a startling discovery about her own people’s past.
Author's Notes: Ultimately, I think this story got a little side-tracked from the prompt, but it was a story that leapt out and wanted to be told (for which I apologise profusely and humbly beg saeva’s forgiveness for). I do enjoy exploring how Teyla reacts to situations, and, particularly in Season 4, she’s reacting to quite a lot of changes and it’s all very interesting to me. Thank you to Kate, for a last minute read-through.
The Athosian people had long memories.
For as long as Teyla could remember, their history had been passed on from generation to generation via oral traditions. She had heard the stories as a child from the village elders, from her father. They spoke of the rich history of the Athosians, the technology and wisdom they had once possessed. As a child she had marveled at the fantastical tales, wondering how they could possibly be real. The world she lived in was not the one of the fairytale past.
Centuries had withered away all the technology and the cities were nothing more than mere ruins, barely shadows of their former glory.
Once she was old enough, she began to tell the tales.
One day she would tell them to her child.
Her recent confinement to Atlantis had left Teyla with a certain amount of time on her hands that she was unused to, especially given the lack of progress in finding her people. Alone in a city full of people who were friends - a surrogate family - she was uncomfortable sitting around doing nothing. She'd always been a woman of action, a woman who knew what she wanted, and what to do in order to succeed.
Now she had fears. Real, true fears that were not borne of the Wraith terror, but came from within. The loss of her family, the father of her unborn child, had given her sleepless nights, and the fear that her child would be born into a world - a galaxy - engaged in war was terrifying, even to a woman who had lived through Wraith fear many times over.
It was one thing to pretend to be strong for oneself, and quite another to want to protect the most precious thing in the world.
If nothing else, her child would be her people's legacy.
Someone to tell their tale.
Colonel Carter's invitation to be part of a scientific investigative team was unexpected, but not unwelcome. There was only so long Teyla could spend in meditation, when she longed to be actively involved.
Led by Dr. Zelenka, and assisted by Captain Fitzroy, Carter had put together a team to explore the lower regions of the city, parts that had not been previously explored, due to power restraints and lack of personnel and resources. With military personnel, all with scientific backgrounds, to do an initial sweep of the layout, and a team of scientists overly excited about the prospect of discovering new Ancient technology, they had been caught by surprise at the discovery of a laboratory filled with Wraith technology.
While the majority of the technology discovered was unusable due to insufficient power, they had managed to gather substantial amounts of data from the city's databases. Zelenka had been grinning from ear to ear when Teyla joined the curious little group midway through their second week.
"Dr. Zelenka," she had greeted him warmly, making her way through the maze of hallways that wound through Atlantis' towers. "I hear that you have been successful in your research?"
Zelenka's face, she thought, was cautiously jubilant. "We believe so, yes," he told her, motioning for her to follow him through the entrance to the main laboratory.
Inside, the room was buzzing with activity. With the exception of Rodney's lab, Teyla had not spent a great deal of time amongst the civilian scientists who resided in Atlantis, but it was hard not to get caught up in their enthusiasm. Each person she was introduced to had a story to tell, their great find and the possible breakthroughs that might come as a result. She possessed her own inner curiousity, and a desire to contribute and continue their advancement, although exactly what level of assistance she could provide was still to be determined.
"Have you found something we can use in the fight against the Wraith?" she inquired, after Zelenka introduced her to Alex Fitzroy, the Air Force officer currently acting as their chief linguist during her short tour of Atlantis.
Fitzroy shook her head, casting a sideways glance at Zelenka, who pushed his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose. "Unfortunately, no. None of the artifacts that the Ancients kept in this lab are of much military use."
"And most are unusable simply because they've been sitting around for the better part of a few centuries," Fitzroy added evenly, her smile wry.
"So far we have found only one device that still appears to be active," Zelenka told her. "It's power source is... incredible, to have survived this long."
Teyla's curiousity piqued. "What kind of device?"
"According to the Ancient database, they called it a 'Memory Keeper,'" Fitzroy filled her in. "Although it's unclear whether that was the name the Ancients gave the device or not. Particularly since they never got it to work properly."
Teyla raised an eyebrow.
Zelenka waved a hand dismissively. "They were never able to get it to work because, like most of the Ancient technology, it appears to require a certain genetic marker to work beyond simply turning it on and off. The Ancients' didn't possess the gene and therefore were only able to speculate on its use."
"And you think I might be of assistance?" Sitting now at one of the chairs that littered the room, Teyla let the weight of the discovery settle around her. "That I might possess this gene?"
Nodding, Zelenka replied, "You've had great success with other Wraith technology, and I believe that you might be able to access this new device also. Much of the Wraith technology requires a mental component, a trait genetically passed on amongst their species. It is likely that it is this trait that may be the key."
Underneath her increasing enthusiasm, Teyla could feel a shadow of doubt enter her mind. The last time she had attempted to access the mental component of her own genetic makeup, leftover from Wraith attempts to adjust their food supply, she had found herself shaken to her core. No encounter with a Wraith Queen ended any other way, but the threat to her unborn child had been terrifying.
"Might I see this 'Memory Keeper?'" she asked.
Zelenka didn't even hesitate. "Of course," he told her, before turning to Fitzroy. "Captain?"
Nodding her head, Fitzroy left their group to retrieve a small object from a nearby table, weaving her way through the other scientists to do so. When she returned, she held out a small, round object, no bigger than the size of Teyla's palm.
Teyla accepted it, and in the curve of her hand, it felt heavier than it looked, and smooth, like glass. It was unlike any other Wraith technology she had ever encountered. In the center of the darkly coloured Memory Keeper was a single button, nearly the same size as the device itself. She hesitated, her fingers resting on the button without pressing it down.
"It's safe," Fitzroy told her. "We've turned it on a dozen times already to record the properties. There's nothing but a low-level energy reading emitted at any time, so it's perfectly safe."
She waited, a few seconds - her heart beat softly in her chest - then pressed the button.
All around her she could hear people screaming, but she saw no one.
She heard the sounds of weapon blasts and the sounds of buildings crumpling under the bombardment, but she saw none of it.
All she saw was dark; a black curtain that engulfed her.
Then there was a blast, and she was blinded, and when the spots of light behind her eyes settled, and she could see, she saw the ruins of a civilisation laid bare at the base of a mountain. It looked so familiar, like she’d been there before, but she was missing the one piece of information that would make it all click into place.
She looked on in horror as a Wraith Hiveship descended upon the doomed city.
Teyla work up, covered in sweat, her breathing heavy.
Outside, the moon was a bare sliver of its full glory, and eerie shadows played across the walls of her quarters.
That morning she had Dr. Keller check her out, and check that the baby was all right. Something about the dream had unsettled her, more so than it might normally have. There was something familiar about the place, and yet it was altogether unfamiliar.
Destroyed cities were prominent features in Athosian tales.
"You're both perfectly healthy," Keller announced, and Teyla let out a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.
"That is good news," she told the doctor with a grateful smile. "I thought after turning on Dr. Zelenka's Memory Keeper..." She let her voice trail off at the thought she'd been entertaining all morning - that the Wraith device was far more menacing than the Ancestors had recorded in their database.
Keller smiled. "I thought you said that you couldn't get it to work the other day?"
Teyla nodded. "That is what I thought. Like the rest, I was unable to do more than turn it on. But to have this dream, now, makes me wonder."
"It could just be a bad dream," Keller pointed out. "People have bad dreams all the time."
"I know. But this felt different. Strange, like it was not my dream, but something that actually happened." With a hand from Keller, Teyla slid off the examining table and straightened her clothing, her hand resting on her swollen belly for a moment. "I felt like I was watching, from someone else's perspective."
"Creepy." Keller pulled a face, before brightening. "So, maybe this device actually worked?"
"Perhaps. As long as there is no danger to my child, I think it may be best to continue to test the device. It may still be useful."
After relaying the details of her dream to Zelenka, Teyla found a renewed sense of purpose to her involvement in the progress of the experiments with the technology. With bits and pieces still being uncovered, Zelenka allowed Teyla her own time to explore the device, and see if she could get it to work, even going so far to let her take it back into the city proper.
If the dream had been a direct result of her using the technology, she had reasoned, then obviously it required a certain state of mind to access.
On her own, in the sanctuary of her quarters, she traced the outline of the device with her fingertips, wondering again how the Wraith had designed such a thing, and for what purpose.
A Memory Keeper.
Keeper of memories.
If only the Athosians had such a device to record their tales.
The curtain of black engulfed her again, but this time she was not afraid.
She had faced the dark before, and she would endure.
An unsettling calm overcame her as the darkness lifted, and revealed the burning city. It was the same city as before, smoke rising from the ruins, while people everywhere screamed in terror.
She could hear a child crying out in horror.
And then she was surrounded by Wraith. They marched past her in formation, towards the city and its doomed people. Overhead the darts flew, the sound piercing, and still sharp over the noise.
Behind her the dust swirled as a Hiveship landed.
There was something so familiar about the city.
When she woke from her meditative state, she could feel the tears running down her cheeks.
In the corner of the room, Colonel Sheppard stood, watching.
She turned off the device.
As hard as she tried to release the image of the burning city from her mind, it stayed with her. Haunting her.
Sheppard had demanded the details of her story, equally intrigued by the device (and, she suspected, somewhat annoyed that he was unable to use it) and concerned for her own wellbeing.
Carter also expressed concern, but at the insistence from Zelenka and Keller that Teyla was in no harm, and Teyla's own determination to find the answer to the question that plagued her now, curbed the expedition leader's concerns.
It was her mission now; one that she was determined to uncover.
With Zelenka placated that the device did was the Ancients had supposed it to be capable of, he'd offered any assistance, but she had politely declined. She already had Sheppard and Ronon looking over her shoulders now, when they were in the city. But she made notes of her experiences to pass onto the scientist, particularly as she found ways to access the device with more ease.
The less fear she had off the alien device, the less resistance she felt on its part.
She didn't tell anyone that she still experienced the memory-dreams in her sleep, even after the device itself had been shut down.
The landscape was dark, and the horizon littered with thousands of tiny lights coming from a cityscape in the distance. There were no screams, nor sounds of blasts reigning down from the sky to destroy the city.
It was there, standing tall in it's own glory.
She walked towards it, all the way, though it took hours to reach the outskirts, and the city wall. Up close it wasn't as technologically advanced as it had appeared from a distance. Many of the lights that had lit up the horizon were lamps, casting flickering light through the windows. It was nothing like Atlantis, yet there was something familiar about the surroundings.
She encountered no one as she entered the city.
As she passed through the streets, she peered through the windows and could see no one. The soft tinkling of music drifted on the breeze, but it sounded far away, too far to reach in just one night, and the memory pressed upon her that she could not be there when the sun began to rise.
She reached the center of the city, where a small, but ornate, building sat with stairs all the way around. As she climbed each step, the sense of familiarity became overwhelming. At the top of the steps, on a plaque before the door, was a short inscription:
Descendants of the Ancestors."
When Teyla woke, her pillow was soaked, and she knew why the city was so familiar.
"My father used to tell me the stories of my people's history," Teyla told them, sitting at the head of the conference table in the briefing room. Around it sat the members of her team, Zelenka, Keller, and Carter. "Some were wonderful tales, about the way of life before the Wraith, some about life afterwards. Many were dark, and were warnings against the dangers of becoming complacent.
"My favourite story was about a brilliant city that sat in a field surrounded by forest. To me, it was always so grand, so... unreal that I would ask him to describe it for me it over and over. Advances were being made in technology, and they were discovering new ways of building, so the older buildings were slowly being dwarfed by the taller, newer buildings built around a single center point, wherein lay the Heart of the People."
Teyla paused to take a breath and to judge whether she should further clarify. When no one interrupted, not even Rodney, she continued, bowing her head slightly to signify her gratitude to them.
"The Heart of the People was a fire that burnt day and night, every day, in a temple that all those who lived in the city could visit. Offerings were left for the Ancestors, but mostly it was a sign of unity amongst the people."
She picked up the Memory Keeper from the table in front of her, holding it up to the light. "The city I kept seeing in my dreams, in my visions - the city that this small device kept showing me - was the largest city of Athos. The home of my people."
Her voice died away as some of the grief seeped into her words.
The realisation that the city she'd seen burnt to the ground by the Wraith was her own had been heartbreaking. It had been so vivid and gut wrenching that she hadn't been able to speak of it for days, until Sheppard convinced her to tell them.
Carter leaned forward on her elbows. "It showed you the first attack by the Wraith against your people?"
"Hell of a coincidence," Sheppard breathed out, smiling reassuringly at Teyla.
Zelenka cleared his throat. "Perhaps not so much, Colonel. Captain Fitzroy has been translating more of the Ancient database's reference to the Memory Keeper, and there are some interesting bits of information. It is likely that it holds more than one event, but the one that Teyla accessed was the one most relevant to her, as an Athosian."
Teyla set the device down on the table once more, and folded her hands over her belly. "It is likely, with some practice, that I might be able to access more than just the same event?"
"Perhaps," Zelenka nodded.
Sheppard found her on the balcony overlooking the lower city, and the brilliant blue of the ocean. Overhead, not a cloud covered the sky, and the sun warmed her skin.
"You okay?" he asked, leaning up against the railing.
She offered him a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "I will be," she told him, and it sounded like a promise to her own ears. She breathed in deeply. "We have no records of the city's of old from Athos, except for the ruins. I never thought I would have anything but words to describe my own people's past."
Sheppard nodded. "Still, it was a hell of a way to find out."
She laughed, softly. "It was not what I imagined when I first started working with Dr. Zelenka. But not without it's own rewards, and fall backs."
"It couldn't have been easy to find out that you'd been watching your ancestors' homes destroyed," he pointed out, catching her eyes. There was such compassion buried below the surface that it made Teyla's heart ache.
"No," she murmured, "but the things that hurt us only make us stronger? Is that not what you say?"
She laid a hand on his forearm, as much for her own reassurance as his. His larger hand covered hers, with surprising warmth.
"I guess so."
The sun dipped towards the horizon.
Now, she had something else to share with her people, when she found them.