Ariande's Got A Gun
by Taylor

A flick of the hand to the left, a button pushed to the right, a second of hesitation, a moment they left too soon. Sometimes he dies, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes she stays; other times, she escapes through the gate to ancient Earth. Sometimes with him, sometimes without. Sometimes.

 

"You are welcome to return to Earth," the Ancient women told them. Janus paced back and forth, ideas forming in his head, without listening to the conversation at hand.

John leaned in before she could say anything. "That's very nice of you. Possibly ten thousand years later though?"

"We will not destroy the timeline any further. I'm sorry," she said quietly, and turned away.

Ancients ran like worker ants around them, preparing to go home, packing the plants.

"This is not what I signed up for," John says

"And it's not what you're getting," Janus responds and walks right in between them. "Follow me."

 

One morning, Elizabeth had woken up in Greece, three thousand years before she was born, and knew time was over for her. She had refused to get maudlin about it, because it was where she was and what she has become. All the sad parts were worth it, because now she is no longer worried about time. She is time. Knowing the future, knowing it's all different in another universe, gives her an insight into life that is beautiful and disturbing.

She looks up to the moon, where she notices the changes in the features of the surface: the newness to the edges of the Sea of Serenity, the crater coming into sharp relief. There's no American flag there; no American flag has been made yet. The sands shift around where she sits on the edge of the Egyptian dune. Years ago, she would have been bothered by the harshness of the wind mixing with the brushing of sand against her cheek. Now, again, the past is just that.

Something like guilt or pain leaves a solid pit in her stomach. She'll probably never see him again.

She hopes it's worth it.

 

The open courtyard is designed so that sunrays connect across the stone, set in different colors. In the middle of the morning, the orange light touches the blue stone and there is an artistic harmony. Elizabeth has never fully understood. She reaches vainly for the knowledge she studied an art history final in college, but all she's left with snatches of appreciation for the use of color.

The priestess lowers her hands towards Elizabeth, enveloping her in an invisible cover that she imagines to be gauzy and filled with light. "Misa Sabafa."

"Misa Sabafa," she repeats back and then continues with the blessing that she has learned.

She's glad to know snatches of the language, which is, surprisingly, not Greek. Elizabeth thinks back to her original time, when she would have been completely uncomfortable with leading such a procession. She is not religious, not even in the vaguely spiritual sense. But now they all kneel and prostrate before her, and she only squirms a little in her skin. Don't they notice that she's paler than the rest? Can't they see her Anglo-Saxon heritage shining through the most painful of tans?

The question only troubles her for a moment; because she knows that they all have only the fullest confidence in her. They saw her work miracles; they saw her make stone hover in the sky. They have seen her speak to the Gods.

She stands on top of Knossos and faces towards the direction of Egypt, offering up the ancient prayer. She wonders if Ra is over there now, starting the chain of events that would bring the Tau'ri full circle. Stupid Goa'uld, she thinks, they're only little snakes and they think they rule the universe. Nobody does, not even the Ancients.

She's happy with ruling Crete for now. As much as it bothers her to know they've just completed statues of her and John in Thera, she is comfortable with leadership. She only halts at the religious overtones.

She walks back to the palace behind the courtyard, looking over the cliff that leads to the countryside and then to the sea.

As she walks into their room, he wakes up, stretching his arms over his head. "Good job this morning."

"You weren't even there," she says, picking a grape off of the bunch. Grapes were better in Rome; these aren't too bad, but they aren't Rome.

"I decided to sleep in after such a late night yesterday."

She turns towards him. "Too bad I couldn't do the same."

"Yeah, too bad." He walks over and helps her adjust the green leaved crown on her temple. "But I haven't been asleep this whole time. You really did a good job."

She breathes in deeply from the Aegean air. It's fresher than the Potomac River in springtime.

"You look like you believe it," he says.

She can't imagine why, but this punches her in the gut. She doesn't believe it. She's never been a religious or spiritual person, but Dr. Jackson taught her how to be a good anthropologist and she does this now because it's what her job is. She feels hurt that he would break the unspoken trust of we-don't-talk-about-how-this-isn't-real.

It doesn't feel real, because she knows the ancestors aren't mythical gods. They are slightly evolved humans with big elitist attitudes. She hates being seen as their representative, but its part of the job.

She pulls away from him. "Yes, and it would be helpful if you came to see everyone."

He cocks his head to the side and her simmering anger boils back down. She can't be mad at him. Not after thousands of years between them.

"It shows solidarity," she continues. "Unless you want me to rule entirely. I could handle that."

"I know you could. Remember when you were governor of our little colony?" He smiles, knowing this will throw her off guard.

Yes, she remembers, but that was an awful long time ago.

 

They stare at Janus, fiddling with the controls in the time ship: he's hurried, and there are little explosions far off. They have no idea what he's doing.

"We... you don't have much time," he says, tearing himself away from the console. "The Wraith are attacking from the atmosphere. You have to leave. After you arrive in the future, this ship will double as a regular transport, you can take it back through the Stargate to Earth. I've programmed the coordinates." He pauses, and tries to regain his composure. Another explosion this time the ground shakes below them, and Elizabeth has to steady herself.

"Good luck," he says, and runs out of the room, grabbing several electronic tablets with him.

"The who?" Sheppard says, throwing up his arms in confusion. "Do you know what's going on around here?"

"No, but I think we should do what he says." She motions towards the console. "You can work this right?"

"'Can' is strong word to use," he says, hands hovering over the screen, looking for anything that looks familiar.

The ship lights up, responding to his presence, but does nothing else.

"Open Sesame," he says dramatically.

In response, another explosion hits the city. Elizabeth prevents herself from falling down by leaning on his shoulder. He looks back up at her.

"Are you going to be okay?" he asks.

"I will be." She moves over to chair. Elizabeth Weir has never broken apart before. This won't be the first time. "If you can get us out of here."

He squeezes his eyes shut, partially out of fear, and lets his fingers dance over the console. There's a flash of light, intense and blinding. The afterimage stays with her, even after she realizes that the explosions have stopped. The room is quiet, not even the hum of ZPMs in the background. The loudest thing is the pitch black outside the window.

 

Trails of fabric flow off her dress like the Aegean waves. They are indigo and aquamarine, and soft to the touch. John watches her pace back and forth across the line of columns.

"You've got to calm down," he says, sitting on her throne. He motions to her, but her back is turned, she's staring over the cliff. "C'mere."

She finally turns around and walks over to him, the sea following close behind. She places her hands on the stone arms of her throne. She leans in closer, shaking her head in a sarcastic, seductive way. "You're not the one they expect to make the grass grow."

He threads his hands behind the first layer of the aquamarine trail. "They don't actually expect you to do it."

She follows his gaze and she can tell that he's undressing her with his eyes. His hands dive under the second and third layer, each a deeper shade of the ocean, until the softness of the fabric gives way to softness of her skin.

She bites her lip, finally giving way to the throne and him.

"No, but they expect me to talk to the ones who will," she says into his bare chest. "They're losing faith."

"Thera's going to blow up soon. Could use that," he suggests.

She hits his upper shoulder playfully, and he pulls her arm in closer. She hovers over his mouth, taunting him. The Minoans worship mother goddesses, and they honor her as their intermediary, but it's here on this throne with him where she feels most powerful. He guides one hand up above her head, trailing the little hairs on her arm with his mouth and he pushes her longer hair aside to kiss her. He tastes like the salt of the sea, smells a little bit of the perfumes and lotions of royalty. It masks his real smell, of twenty and twenty first century life.

Soon, both their arms are on the cold stone, pushing back against the wall, pushing them into each other. On a warm, ancient island, there's less clothing to be concerned with. Underneath the layers of gauzy fabric he finds her clit and she moans into his mouth, and then she pulls back for a moment, head arching back. Like she's gathering some power from the sky. He moves his fingers down a little more and she presses her full weight into him.

The throne is wide and deep. They have enough room to rock back and forth, his hands fumbling for the back of her neck and her hair in the confusion of their bodies. They're both anxious and she grinds him harder into the stone. She grabs onto his forearms, and moves fast, quicker than she can ever remember. If they can move together fast enough hard enough, maybe time will speed up again, and the earth will spin faster and they will return to the time they left. Maybe they will no longer be fragmented.

He comes first, but when she does, saying oh god oh god oh- the sun floods into the throne room, hitting her back, reminding her of the sunrise they saw from the ship.

It's almost a religious experience.

 

Elizabeth Weir has never broken apart before, but Ariadne of Knossos did. Only once. There is even a wall painting of it.

Heads bowed, the servants walk humbly behind her, garbed in full ceremonial clothing. Red ribbons trail from her hair like little rivers of blood. A young man carries the cleansing water in a pitch behind the two girls who carry her trail. She's a little uncomfortable being essentially topless with only fancy sleeves, but she walks deeply, with purpose. She tries not to think about what's about to happen.

They follow the labyrinth of corridors the palace's central room. She hears shouts and words of violence from the chosen one.

The priestess places a knife in her hand. "Minos is old and fraile. He can no longer carry out the sacrifice. You must."

On the other side of the wall is a young man, no older than twenty, writhing on the slab to which he's been chained. In another time and place, she would have argued for the release of this man as an unnecessary prisoner of war. Now, she hopes she won't falter in front of the priestess, that'll she keep the Athenians off their doorstep with his death.

The priestess begins to chant in an even older language. Elizabeth raises the knife above his heart, and closes her eyes.

"Honor my father's terms!" the man shouts. "It is my place to fight the monster of your own house. And if I win, you will have no instrument to continue the sacrifices."

The knife shakes, and she knows she has already paused too long. The priestess chants even louder.

"There's no monster, no man-beast," she replies. "Just a vengeful king."

His rage takes over part of his body, his eyes daring her to take the knife to his heart. "Poseidon made your people the ruler of the seas. And you repay him with deception. Minos will rule in Hades long after he is gone from here."

She throws the knife down into the floor. The priestess begins protesting in confusion, but Elizabeth motions for her to leave. The rage and agony on her face is enough to send the priestess into a panic, running from the room. She turns back to the stunned man.

"Poseidon's an alien who thinks you're worthless," she says, her voice taking on a conspiratorial whisper. "Poseidon. Dionysius. Ares. Apollo. Zeus. Athena. All of them. They've all left for another plane of existence and they don't care anymore. They're just going to sit back and watch for the next couple of thousand years. Your gods have abandoned you."

She grasps his head, and pushes back his curls. Her voice rises. "You hear me? Your gods have abandoned you! But I was the one who never got the second chance to get them back."

Elizabeth unlocks the chains holding the man to the stone. She falls back to the floor, shaking and crying and recognizes this as a first. The young man does not understand, but he knows his life is being spared.

"I will tell my father I killed the beast," he says quietly. "The sacrifices will stop."

She looks up. "Are you..." Elizabeth stumbles, "Theseus?"

"Rightful son of Aegeas," he replies.

Shit.

 

The quiet is overwhelming.

The area around them starts to hum and the lights slowly turn themselves on. John peers up out of the ship's window, half expecting to see aliens pointing guns at him, like in that silly Mars movie, or nothing but water. Instead, he's facing the Stargate in the main room of Atlantis. He's not sure how the ship suddenly jumped to this area of the city, or why there's no one around concerned with their sudden appearance in the middle of the gate room, but Elizabeth is staring at him, wide-eyed.

"You did it," she says.

"Did what?" He just thought about going home, and then they were somewhere else.

While he's still trying to figure out what's going on, the console across from Elizabeth lights up. The Ancient ship takes over and enters in a coordinate.

Ice scatters in front of them, and then they are high above Antarctica. She grins and looks across the horizon. It's Earth, unmistakably: the outline of the continents, the way the moon and the sun look like a perfect pair as they switch places over the horizon. They both let out a sigh of relief.

"Where are we going?" he asks, looking over the Ancient console.

"Who cares?" she laughs. "We're home."

"Janus did it." He leans back in his chair. "I can't imagine the hell he's going to pay for doing that. They seemed pretty pissed that we came back at all."

She's not listening, because something doesn't feel right. As the sun breaks over the horizon in the east, she can see they're approaching Europe, but something's not sitting well.

And then it hits her: there's no light where the cities should be. No lights at all.

 

Thunder that goes on forever explodes over and over again in the distance. Before the sky turns black and the rain turns into ash, the horizon becomes a searing flash of light. Oh, so, this is what a nuclear reaction looks like from up close, she thinks.

"Time to go."

They run to where they've hidden the ship. But it can't protect itself against flying hot rock; he doesn't know how to put the shields on. The vessels sputters off the island, the Minoans frantically grab at the air until the hail of what used to be Thera rains down upon them.

He gets them to Egypt, barely.

 

You, who have ruled over all time. You, that have been worshipped, deified, sacrificed for. You, who are real, flawed human beings, that can be broken and bended. It's time to fulfill your destiny. In that case, civilization was altogether fucked.

She leaves in the middle of a clear, star-filled night. For once, she longs for the ability to guide herself by the North Star, because in the desert, while the ground shifts around her, Canisus Major will still be fixed.

She looks up in the sky and finds the brightest star. It's not in the Little Dipper. It's Alpha Pegasi, and it smiles down on her, its light younger than she once was. Bittersweetly, she wishes she had had more time in that galaxy.

She knows what she has to do now, as she follows the Nile in the direction she hopes is the delta. Once she gets back to Greece, and before the empire falls, she can tell an old man named Solon a wonderful story about an island continent that was lost to the sea.

 

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