By Enola Jones

He could feel it – the subtle change. He didn’t understand. Why had it happened now? Had the Replicators done something to her? Made her stronger?

He had always been able to feel her humming in his mind – but this…..


When Elizabeth ordered, “All right, people – let’s get back to work!” and everyone cheered – he could feel her in his mind, beaming approval.

They had taken to calling the planet itself Lantea, like everyone around them had. But he thought that wasn’t right. It didn’t fit. It didn’t feel right.

So on the second night back in control, he gave up pretending. He lay in his bed and looked up at the ceiling, then swiveled his eyes toward the stained glass window. And he concentrated just a little bit.

Can you hear me, Lantea?

He felt foolish. Talking to a city like it was a living creature…. Please.

Is it all right if I call you that? It seems to fit you more than the planet. …. Can you hear me, Lantea?

He sat up, letting the covers fall to his waist. He stared into the darkness.

I feel you now. You’re strong. I have never been able to feel you quite like this before. Did the Replicators do something to you? Are… Am I right? Are you alive?

Nothing. With a sigh, he gave up and lay back down.

Hello, John.

His eyes snapped open and he whirled around as he sat up. “Who’s there?” he barked. “Show yourself!”

And the lights in his room rose, revealing – he was alone.

His eyes widened. He hadn’t done that. “……who….”

It’s me, John.

“Me? Who’s me?”

Me. Lantea.



Having a woman’s voice speak to you in the middle of the night was one thing. He could get used to that.

Having a woman’s voice speak to you in the middle of the night when there was no woman curled up next to you was another thing all together. He didn’t know if he could get used to that easily.

Having said woman’s voice speak to you telepathically was a bit – unusual. But he could get used to that.

Having this woman be the very city that you lived in, worked to protect, and considered home – well, now, that was going to take a lot of getting used to.

A whole hell of a lot of getting used to.

John was honest. He told Lantea this. And Lantea was honest back with him.

She hadn’t always been able to communicate. That was one of the ‘improvements’ the Replicators had made to her. They found mind-to-mind communication to be the most efficient way of working.

As if their minds were any picnic to be around, Lantea snorted. I much prefer you living ones to their illusion of life.

Illusion of life, huh? John decided he liked that term. Someday he’d get a chance to use it.

Lantea could speak with anyone who had the Gene – though she preferred to speak with John. You are the one it is easiest with, she admitted to him.

And the rest of that day, John sported a goofy grin that he couldn’t quite erase completely.

He chose not to mention it – afraid he’d be drug into the Infirmary – or worse, before Heightmeyer! Rodney would tease him, Ronon and Teyla would treat him strangely…. Worst of all, Elizabeth might think him completely cracked and send him back to Earth.

And having tasted communion with Lantea’s gentle wit and warm soul – John didn’t think he could survive on Earth anymore.

Not without this.

When he went on missions, he found that distance dulled the intimate contact, though it did not sever it. When he’d return, he’d lock himself in his room for the night and just revel in the new closeness he’d discovered with Lantea.

She, too, kept it their secret. She appeared to love the gentle intimacy of friends and secret-sharers they had developed.

Until the day came that they simply could not keep it secret any longer.

John was awakened by the soft sound of a woman crying and trying to hide it. “….Lantea?”

I did not mean to wake you.

It’s perfectly all right. What’s the matter? Why are you crying?

I do not want you to die.

John shook his head, smiling. Lantea, darlin’…. I’m not gonna die.

Yes you are. And I can not stop it. I can not--

And his radio chirped. ”Weir to Sheppard – are you awake?”

He touched it, activating it. “I am now. What is it, Elizabeth?”

”Report to my office once you’re dressed. It’s Teyla. She’s seen something.”


”Not this time. You’d better hear it from her.”

“I’m on my way.” He deactivated the channel. Lantea – I promise you. We’ll figure whatever this is out.

This is your death, John. Yours and all the warm-souls here…and I can’t stop it.

Then we’ll stop it. We will – us warm-souls and you working together. He drew on his clothes.

And her weeping slowed. I believe you. I always believe you when you are this confident.

He smiled. Good. Cause it’s the truth. He held out his hand and his P-90 slid into it like it belonged there. He slid it into his holster and strode out the door of his quarters.

He was so preoccupied that he never noticed it had slid into his hand from where it was slung over the back of his chair.

On the other side of his room.


John left Elizabeth’s office with a frown on his face. Ghosts? What the hell?

John, what are ghosts?

He blinked, then he blinked again. Can you read from the computer?

If I can understand it, yes. The fake-alive ones made me understand 300 more languages than I could.

Was one of those English?

What is this English?

John rubbed the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb. Let me show you, Lantea.

Several hours later, John was wearing that goofy, satisfied smile again. Lantea could read English now, and that made things so much easier. He left her to her explorations of the data base, occasionally stopping to define a word or an idiom that stumped the great brain of the city.

Somehow, he didn’t feel like teasing her about it. He just kindly educated her and in return, she would talk to him. Tell him things about the city and its people – and those she used to know.

When she told him Rodney was looking for him, he asked her where. And a map came into his mind. He wasn’t at all surprised to find Rodney on the balcony.

He is developing the same habits as you, Lantea teased him gently. I am going to have to develop sun shields for the both of you if you keep staying on my balconies at all hours of the day.

All hours? How long has he been out there?

Two or three hours. I am sorry, John. I was so intrigued by this new language and new way of knowing all of you--

It’s fine, Lantea. Really. I’m on my way now. Thank you, darlin’. And John stepped out onto the balcony.

Rodney was gazing over the water with a pair of binoculars. What struck John was the normally motor-mouthed science chief was quiet.

No, he was more than quiet. He was silent. Absolutely – silent.

Very little frightened John Sheppard. Faced with an absolutely silent Rodney McKay didn’t frighten him – but it sure made him damned nervous.


Okay, not so nervous now. He watched Rodney lower the binoculars and then notice John was standing there.

He gave a guilty little jump, his blue eyes narrowing slightly. “How long have you been standing there?”

John shrugged. “Not long. An hour or so.”

And he was treated to both Lantea’s amused laughter and the sight of all the colour draining from Rodney’s face. “An hour? And you didn’t tell me why because—oh. Right. Kidding.”

John grinned as Rodney glared at him. “What did you want to show me?”

“This. Look at this.” He put the binoculars in John’s hand. “There. Right out there.”

John looked and frowned. “Wow… all that --- water.”

He could sense, rather than see, Rodney’s eyes roll. “Wait for it, huh?”

“Wait for—“ and then John’s breath went out of his body in a long sigh of admiration and shock as the massive white animal jumped out of the water and back into it, its tail sweeping through the air like a giant kite. He lowered the binoculars and looked at Rodney, one eyebrow raising.

Rodney nodded. “It’s my friend – he’s back.”

He handed the binoculars back. “I’ll go tell Elizabeth.” Rodney nodded, turning to look out over the ocean again.

John felt his lips thin as he strode down the corridors of the city. You’re awfully quiet, Lantea.

I know those things.

What are they?

I don’t know what they call themselves – but whenever they arrive, people die at alarming rates. I don’t want you to die, John.

Already told you, Lantea. I have no intention of dying. He found himself outside Elizabeth’s office, and knocked once on the wall before popping his head in.

Huh. Nobody here. Where’s Elizabeth, Lantea?

The medical bay.

The infirmary? He changed course and headed that way. What’s wrong?

It is not her. She is there for the Athosian princess.

Is she okay? Despite everything, John couldn’t help but smile when he heard what Lantea kept insisting on calling Teyla. Though the Athosians had no royalty to speak of and she was a full-fledged member of John’s team, Lantea affectionately called her ‘the Athosian princess’.

John had a sneaking suspicion she did it to gently tease John about his once-upon-a-time attraction to her.

I do not know, John. This is very strange. When this last happened, there were no ‘ghosts’ as you say. There was nothing of the sort. This is new – frightening.

Lantea – when what last happened?

When everyone died.

John sighed and rubbed his forehead again. That was all he could get out of Lantea every time he asked. She hadn’t been as sentient then as she was now, and she just did not have the clarity of memory to describe what they were facing.

It upset John, and it upset her even more. She was doing the best she could – they both knew that.

But they also knew if they couldn’t figure it out – and soon – Lantea’s worries of them dying might become more than a worry.


After one whale turned to two, and Teyla’s sleep became disrupted by the ghostly visions, John decided to go take a look at the creatures.

Boy, the Ancients really came up with some lame names for things. I mean, come on – Flagasalis?

Lantea’s laugh rang in his head. It means The Singers.

Times like this, I prefer English to Ancient. John grinned and keyed his mic. “Hey, Rodney – what does ‘whale’ mean?”

”Pain in the ass,” came the acerbic reply. ”Seriously, Melville claims the word means ‘round’ or ‘rolling’ or ‘wallow’, but the oldest word found for ‘whale’ means just that – whale. Why the sudden interest in etymology?”

“Just curious. You secured that Dramamine yet?”

“Correction,” Rodney groused and John heard it in stereo as he climbed aboard the jumper. “’Sheppard’ means pain in the ass.”

John closed the channel down and turned to the controls, grinning from ear to ear. “Careful, Rodney – folks’ll talk.”

“Quoting the Magnificent Seven won’t help your case. Or your pathetic attempts at humour.”

John turned back to him, eyes wide. “How’d you know I was quoting M7?”

“Oh, please. I’m not as ignorant of culture as everyone thinks I am.” He keyed in a few controls of his own. “Besides, that Inez character was gorgeous.”

“I knew you liked the exotic ones,” John teased as he resumed his preflight.

“Yeah, well, don’t spread it around. I’ve a reputation, you know.” He put down the handheld control. “Done. Let’s get this over with.”

Lantea, we’ll return.

I shall wait. Please take care, John.

I will. I promise. “Here we go, then. Sheppard to Gateroom --- all checks out, we’re on our way.”


I don’t know why you have him monitoring you – I’m perfectly capable of--

Lantea, we couldn’t find you earlier. If it wasn’t for you being able to talk to me, we’d have been lost.

You couldn’t find me?

No. Our navigation was off by just a little bit. And unless you want Zelenka to know you’re living, this will have to-- He broke off and frowned at Rodney. “Hey – you all right?”

“Fine.” Rodney sighed and untwisted his fingers from the control panel. “I just… never feel safe in these things underwater.”

John smiled slightly – he’d barely noticed he’d submerged the jumper. Then a thought hit him and he frowned. “But you’re okay in space?”

Rodney nodded. “Yeah, space is different. Why wouldn’t I be okay in space?”

“Good. That’s a relief.” His com beeped, and he answered it. “Go ahead, Zelenka.”

”How did you know it was ---“

Ignoring Lantea’s giggles – she’d informed on the scientist – John cut him off. “Where are the targets?”

”The whales are approximately a kilometer to your two o’clock position. They are deeper.”

”Thanks, Radek.” He nudged the controls and the jumper obediently dove.

Rodney pointed. “There they are.”

John nodded. “I’m going closer.” His hands worked the controls, and a third set of controls to his left worked like hands were manipulating them as well. Neither of them noticed this, focused entirely on their objective.

“Hey, not too close now,” Rodney spoke up. “We still have no idea what these things eat.”

A spike of pure pain stabbed into John’s temples, and both hands flew to them. The jumper altered course, turning to the side and flanking the whales before John could reach and do it himself.

“What?” Rodney asked, noticing the movement. “What is it?”

John shook his head, willing the headache into submission. “Sudden headache. I’ll be fine.” He manipulated more controls – half with his hands, half without – and the jumper slowed.

“Hey, where’d they go?” Rodney gasped, looking around.

“Don’t know—“ John’s sentence died as the huge eye of a whale passed by the windshield. “Belay that,” he whispered.

Zelenka’s voice – a few seconds too late – reported the whales’ position and Rodney replied irritably to him. John was too enraptured by the whales’ beauty for a moment, then a movement out of the corner of his eye captured his attention. “Hey – what is it?”

Rodney frowned, his hand massaging his forehead. “Headache.”

John’s eyes widened. “O…kay. This is not a coincidence.”

You are in pain.

No shit. “I’m pulling back. This isn’t right.”

Rodney nodded. “Good idea.”

Zelenka interrupted again, musing about echolocation and the vibrations possibly harming them, and Rodney cut him off, “Yes, we’re aware of that, we’re moving away!” He looked at John and rolled his eyes.

John shot him a grin – despite everything, Rodney being Rodney no matter what was a comfort.

I agree – he is a comfort to me as well.

That’s even more of a comfort, darlin’.

Rodney’s eyes suddenly went wide as Zelenka breathed a mild curse. “’Oh, my’ what? What is it?”

”I am detecting several more whales.”

“Several more? How many more?” Silence. “Radek!” Rodney barked. “How! Many! More?”

”D-dozens! They seem to be converging on your position!”

Oh. That doesn’t sound good.

That isn’t good. He looked over at Rodney, and blinked. “Rodney.”


“Your nose is bleeding.”

“What?” He touched his fingers to it, scowling when they came away red. “Oh, for the love of—“ He pinched his nostrils and tilted his head back.

John attempted to get the jumper out of the water, but the rapidly approaching whales made it hard. He felt pressure in his ears rapidly progress to pain, and saw Rodney’s hands shoot to his before he sagged into unconsciousness. John cursed at the sight of blood pouring from his ears. “Gateroom, this is Jumper One! Rodney’s passed out, his ears are bleeding—“

John’s eyes went huge as his hand flew to his throat. He could hear himself talk, but it was like he was at the bottom of a long well. A mental command, and the jumper lurched – and shot straight up. “We are out of the water! We need a medical team now!”

His breathing grew ragged as the sounds of the jumper vanished behind a buzz of white noise that made no sound at all, but was louder than anything he’d ever heard. Lantea! Lantea, are you there?

I’m here, John! What is it?

Lantea, I can’t hear!


Both John and Rodney had been hustled to the infirmary, where it was swiftly determined their eardrums had been perforated. Their hearing had been ‘impaired’, Carson had said, but he gave them reassurances it would be better soon.

The way he talked made John realise that Rodney still had some hearing – and he decided to cover the fact that he did not. I can still talk to you… you can help me?

I shall do my best, John, Lantea had replied sadly.

Rodney had figured out it was the whales’ echo-location sonar that had done this to them, and he was busily running scenarios on his tablet. John watched him for a bit, then cracked, “Hey, Rodney. Rodney.”


John smirked. “Rodney – Canadian football is a joke.”


“Celine Dion is overrated.”


Look it up on Rodney’s music. You’ll understand.


Rodney still made no response.

“Zelenka is smarter than you!”

That made Lantea laugh, but got no reaction from Rodney.


Rodney’s face brightened, and he began to excitedly speak.

He is saying he has located something in my data banks about a ‘lead’ on the whales – a biolab in one of my hidden corridors.

Did he find it, or did you help us out?

Does it truly matter?

And John smiled.


The pair of them were on their feet and dressed ten minutes later, heading out of the infirmary – when they were stopped by a visibly-indignant Carson. By his gestures, John figured out that they were being ordered back to bed.

“We’re feeling much better!” he snapped in reply.

Too loud.

He instantly lowered his voice. “Sorry.”

Rodney began to tell about the lab, and Carson wasn’t impressed. Elizabeth, however, was interested.

With Lantea’s prompting, John could stay in the conversation. The end of it was Elizabeth overruled Carson, and the pair went jogging down the formerly-flooded corridors.

Rodney’s acerbic remarks were lost on John, though – he was focused on Lantea and the mental map she was guiding them through the corridors with. But when Rodney noticed John turning before he gave verbal directions – in the right way – he scowled.

John found himself brought up short and spun around to face a visibly-angry Rodney. “Uh…?” he gasped, looking into that piercing blue gaze.

Rodney held up his mini-tablet – the handheld interface he used offworld. On it was written:


“Dammit, Rodney, you shout in print just as loud as you do in reality!”


John sighed and looked away. “It’s not important.”


“Rodney.” He reached for the mini-tablet and it flew into his hand. He didn’t look down, assuming Rodney had handed it to him. “What’s important is finding that lab and stopping these whales. My hearing – or lack thereof – is not important right now. We’ll deal with it when Lant—Atlantis – is safe.” He handed the mini-tablet back and spun on his heel, heading for the lab.

Leaving a spluttering Rodney staring at the mini-tablet. “… in the hell did he do that?


When they arrived at the lab, the doors were stuck. John hooked his fingers in a crack and tugged.


He tugged again.


Rodney was muttering to himself, since he knew John couldn’t hear him. “Okay, they’re stuck tight. His gene isn’t doing jack right now. If he pulls again and those doors open like a knife through butter, then that’ll be proof of—“

As if on cue, the doors slid easily open.

Rodney snapped his fingers rapidly as they walked in. “You’re not just deaf, Sheppard – you’re telekinetic! And you have no idea that you’re even doing this, based on the lack of ‘holy flaming shit I’m some kind of freak-slash-superhero like you’ that you’re doing….”

A touch from John, and the consoles flared to life. Rodney easily called up entry after entry on the whales, and John thanked Lantea silently – receiving a warm mental caress in reply.

Rodney abruptly froze.

John looked over his shoulder. “Oh, man,” he breathed as the Ancient text translated to English in his mind.

Rodney shot him a look that clearly telegraphed to since when did John Sheppard read Ancient?

John ignored the look. “Get Elizabeth and Radek down here. They need to see this.”

A nod, and Rodney was out of the room at a run.

Lantea, this is connected to what happened so long ago, isn’t it?

It is. When everybody—

Don’t even start. Nobody is going to die. We’re going to figure this out.

Time is running out, John.

But it’s not out yet. So trust us.

I do, John. With all that I am.


When Rodney returned with Elizabeth and Radek, he found John bent over the console. Before he could say anything, John spoke up without turning around. “My hearing’s coming back, Rodney. Slowly, but it’s there.” He straightened and gave Rodney access to the panel.

“Good!” Rodney grinned. “That’s really good!”

John returned his smile, grateful that he wasn’t lying to Rodney. Things still sounded like he was at the bottom of a well, but at least it was something. And Lantea would help him until he was all better. So he wasn’t worried at all.

The four of them discussed what they had found – the Ancients had been researching whale languages and based on everything in that database – and how Lantea was wigging out, though John kept that to himself -- they figured that the whales were warning them of something impending. Something huge.

“Something potentially deadly,” John finished, and Rodney glared at him.

“Stealing my lines?” he quipped, and John smiled.

After an hour or so, Carson called and informed them that Teyla and he were seeing an Ancient pilot – burned. Shuddering at the mental image that generated, John walked over to Rodney. He was opening his mouth to ask how it was going, when a hologram of a woman appeared and began to speak.

Elizabeth frowned. “I can’t understand her….”

“That’s because it’s gibberish,” Rodney said and John found himself nodding slightly. “Let me see if I can…”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “That’s Ancient. I can understand a—“

“That’s Ancient?” John gasped. “I’m hearing English!

All eyes swung to him. “What?” he gasped. “I am!”

Rodney stepped forward. “You and I are going to have a long talk when this is over.” He pointed at her. “So what is she saying?”

“Wait, hold on—“ Elizabeth began, and Rodney waved a hand impatiently at her.

Later, Elizabeth! What’s she saying, John?”

“She’s telling us how the Adaris was on a routine mission to study the sun and got caught in a…” He frowned. “Radiation burst. All the crew was killed and he was able to hyperdrive here and sound the alarm.”

“Radiation burst?” Rodney’s eyes widened. “A solar flare?”

“A huge one, from the way she describes it…. She said they got the shield around most of the planet --- and she just started repeating.”

Rodney turned the hologram off, and just stood there for a second. Then he ran a hand over his nose and mouth. “Radek, you run a scan on the sun, see if this is what the whales have been telling us.”

”Right.” And Radek ran to do just that.

Elizabeth stepped forward. “John, how did you—“

But it was Rodney who waved a hand. “Long story, his connection with Atlantis strengthened after the Replicator takeover, apparently she’s feeding him information, blah blah blah, we’ll deal with it later.” He turned to look at her. “If this is, indeed, a flare – we’ve got a problem.”

Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Only one ZPM.”

“Only one ZedPM,” Rodney confirmed. “Meaning only enough shield for the city.”

“No wonder the whales are flocking under Atlantis,” John frowned deeply. “Okay, so now we know what we’re facing. Just get a time frame –“

“Already working on it, that’s what I told Radek to go do,” Rodney interrupted.

John nodded. “And then we go from there.”

He felt the whisper of a touch to his mind and thought, See, Lantea? It’ll all work out.

I hope you are right, John. You have just been activated, I don’t want to lose you so soon.

John frowned. Activated? What do you mean, ‘activated’?

Your skills have fully been activated.

Skills? What skills?

You are as Rodney is. Skilled from birth.

And John stiffened, his fists clenching. I’m a mutant? Is that what you’re saying?

Yes. You are like the Early Ones, but you are also like Rodney. You have the skills to communicate with me--

That’s the gene.

Yes. That is the gene. And you also are a mind-mover.

Mind-mo….I’m telekinetic?

Yes, that is your word. There are two kinds – large-movers and small-movers. You are the latter.

John ran a hand over his mouth and chin. “Well…..damn,” he breathed, in awe.

Rodney raised a hand to his radio. “McKay.” He froze and turned to John. “We’re out of time.”


As the ZPM was ejected from the console, Rodney glared at John. “This is not a good plan.”

“Sure it is.” John grinned at him.

“You realise just how close we’ll have to get to the sun?”

John lifted the ZPM and put it in a carrying case. “Pretty damn close, I’m thinking.”

Rodney spluttered, “Pretty damn close? Try suicidally close! We’ll be toast!”

“No, we won’t.”

He threw up his hands. “You want to deflect the coronal mass injection away from the planet!”

“No, Rodney. We’re going to deflect the solar flare away from the planet. Like an umbrella.” Rodney started to splutter out the physics of the operation, and John interrupted, “I get it, Rodney.”

“No – no, I don’t think you do. I don’t think you fully grasp the reality of just how damned hot it gets that close to the surface of the sun!”

“That’s why we’re taking the ZPM – to strengthen the shield.”

“From the blast wave, yes – but even with the shields at that strength, the buildup of residual heat behind it could cause serious problems for the Daedalus and everyone on board!”

John grinned at him. “Which is where my ace-in-the-hole comes in.”

Rodney frowned. “What? What ace-in-the-hole?”


And Rodney’s frown deepened in confusion. “Me? What—“ Then they went huge as comprehension hit him. “Oh, no! Oh, no, no, no – that’s not going to work!”

“Sure it will.”

“John, it won’t! To make the crystal, my power transforms the air around us! More mass, takes up more space!” Though it was all air, not crystal per se, it looked enough like it that it took less time to say than ‘air-created crystalline matrix’.


So?” Rodney squeaked. “Hello? Spaceship? Finite air supply? To do what you’re asking is going to take a hell of a lot of air and I’m not going to risk killing everyone on board of slow suffocation!”

John smiled again. “Now, see, that’s where my other ace-in-the-hole comes in.”

“Do tell. What’s that?”

“Me.” And he watched Rodney’s face go from confusion to realisation – to a smug smile. “Oh. You already –“

“A few hours ago, yeah.”

“Why am I not surprised?” But John’s smile had returned.

Radek’s voice suddenly came into both their headsets. “This is Zelenka – the prominence has begun to collapse.”

John’s smile vanished and he touched his hand to his radio. “Daedalus, this is Sheppard. We’re ready.”


The Daedalus was in position. The tongue of fire was coming closer and closer – and it seemed Rodney was having problems with the ZPM’s connection.

The fireball soon filled the screen and Colonel Caldwell bellowed, “Doctor?”

Rodney shared a grin with John, who was in the engine room with him. “ZedPM is online!”

At that instant, the blast hit the shield and ricocheted off either side. Rodney looked at John. “I don’t believe it. It’s working!”

John grinned at him.

Alarms suddenly started to sound. “The heat’s building up,” Caldwell radioed down. “How long is this going to last?”

“Anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours,” Rodney replied.

John looked at him, his eyes wide. “Hours? You never said anything about–“

“And my crystal only lasts an hour,” Rodney hissed. “See why this wasn’t a good plan?”

The energy poured and poured and poured onto them. Alarms started to beep. “Breach in the 302 bay,” Rodney reported.

“Showtime,” John said, glancing at a panel. Two switches shifted, moving to maximum.

On the Bridge, Hermiod suddenly reported, “Life support has gone to maximum.”

“McKay, what are you doing down there?” Caldwell demanded.

“Saving your ship, sir,” John replied. “Do it.”

Rodney looked down as another beep sounded. “Hull breach on Deck Four – we’re venting atmosphere. That one’s the most urgent.” He put a hand on the duct nearest to that deck and concentrated.

On the Bridge, Hermiod reported, “Breach on Deck Four is sealed. 302 Bay is stabilized.”

“Sealed?” Caldwell gasped. “How the hell…”

The energy stopped seconds later. “It’s over,” John breathed in relief.

“No, it’s not,” Rodney said, lowering his hand. “Caldwell, you’ve got less than an hour to get us back to Atlantis for repairs. That’s all the time my… seal … will hold.”

“Roger that. We’ll be back long before. And good work, gentlemen.” And Caldwell closed the channel.

Rodney sighed, shaking his head.

“What about the 302 Bay?” John asked.

“It’s sealed itself automatically. It’ll last till we get home,” Rodney said. “You can turn the life support back down, now. It’s all good.”

John smiled and glanced over his shoulder. Behind him, the switches eased back down to normal.


The whales were swimming away one by one. Rodney was on the balcony again, making crystalline balls and tossing them while the juvenile whale he’d named Sam leapt after them.

John leaned against the balcony wall, watching them play. It’s over.

Yes, it is. And nobody died this time!

I told you they wouldn’t.

I am so thankful to you, John. You and Rodney and your people and this attitude you have. You never give up. Some call it foolishness.

And you, Lantea? What do you call it?

There was a long mental silence, then her voice. Soft with clear emotion.

I call it faith, John.

I think you’ve hit it on the head, Lantea. With that, John walked out onto the balcony beside Rodney. “That your friend?”

“Yup.” Rodney made and threw another ball, dissolving it when Sam touched it.

“One whale doesn’t hurt anybody from that distance,” John said. “You going to keep him?”

“Of course not. He’s a wild animal, they belong in nature. I think he’ll leave when we’re done playing.”

“I think you’re right.” John stuck his hands in his pockets and stood there, watching the game. “Hey, make another one. Let’s make this interesting.”

“What do you have in mind?” But Rodney was already creating a second crystalline orb.

His question was answered when it lifted like a shot from his palm, making him laugh. John’s grin was huge as he telekinetically made both balls dance around the young whale, making it wiggle with delight.

And in John’s mind, Lantea’s musical laughter bubbled up to join theirs.


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