blue flamingos

No-one Belonging

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Gen, PG

Year/Length: 2008/ ~3045 words

Pairing: Sora

Spoilers: Set post-The Storm/The Eye

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.


Summary: Moving on in a world that's changed

Series: Part of the same universe as Noble Form and Cease (to move on), which are both Teyla/Sora though this is totally readable without having read either of those

Author's Notes: Pritten for [info]femgenficathon for the prompty: There's a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside. -- Pearl Bailey.

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.


They walk her through the city with her hands bound, accompanied by four armed guards – one to each side, one in front and one behind. Sora wonders what they can possibly imagine that she might do, when she wants to leave as badly as they want her to. Atlantis was intended to be her freedom, not another cage.

They are all waiting for her when the guards bring her to the ring. Major Sheppard and Dr Weir stand on either side of Dr McKay, who covers his tension badly, making Sora want to smile, glare, push him into stepping back. She keeps her expression blank, looking over their shoulders to where Lieutenant Ford is standing with another solider who she does not recognize. His face, like Major Sheppard's, is tight and angry, and that Sora does regret. The first time they came to her world, he seemed so different from everyone else she knew; her age, but so young, his enthusiasm for his explosives almost infectious.

She does not see Teyla amongst those gathered to see her ejected from the city in disgrace, the last step in cleaning up from the invasion. It does not matter; she can feel Teyla's presence close by. Teyla is surely watching from the edge of the control room, the way she would sometimes watch over Sora as a child, both of them pretending that Sora did not know of her presence. Sora isn't sure whether to be grateful for this or not, after a month of Teyla at her door, making overtures that Sora ignored in harsh silence. She is no longer sure that Teyla will offer her friendship.

"Where are you sending me?" she asks. She is certain that it is not back to her people; she is less certain that Major Sheppard will not send her to a space-gate, an ancient, long-ceased punishment.

"M7G 942," McKay says, straightening. Sora turns her gaze to him, wondering if this is some kind of code in which they speak. It is hardly subtle, but she can think of no other explanation. She knows of no world with this name. "Uninhabited world on the edge of the system. We found it when we were looking for an alpha site. Of course, there isn't enough water to sustain a community like Atlantis, but there's only one of you, you should be fine."

"At least until the rhinoceros herds make it round to your side of the planet," Sheppard adds. "Our biologists think they're omnivorous, but they're not due for a few weeks. Plenty of time for you to figure out a way to avoid them."

Sora can't quite hide the sneer she feels on her face; he seems so charming, so easy going, sending her out to be eaten by monsters. His expression doesn't change.

There's a moment of silence, broken by McKay clapping his hands together. "I haven't got all day here."

For the first time, Sora notices that he, Sheppard and Ford are wearing the bulky vests they wore on their first visit to her world, as are the four soldiers who brought her through the city.

Dr Weir and the soldier Ford was standing with go back up to the balcony, the others surrounding Sora, with Sheppard and Ford in front. Sora feels a further person move into place behind her and wonders if it is Teyla. She does not turn to find out.

The world they take her to is not unlike the Genii homeworld, terribly green and wooded, with a wide clearing in front of the ring. It is almost enough to make her expect her father coming to welcome her. The remembrance is sharp and painful, made more so by the sight, when Sora turns slightly, of Teyla stepping through the ring behind her. She does not look at Sora, instead raising her weapon and surveying the area.

"Will you take the crystal when you leave?" Sora asks.

Dr McKay gives her a startled look. "Of course not. How would we even do that, without leaving ourselves just as stranded?"

"You have flying ships." Sora points out. She knows very little about what makes the ring work, and the Lanteans have remarkable technology. "Why shouldn't you be able to do this as well?"

"That's – actually not that illogical a conclusion. Wrong, obviously, but not completely nonsensical." He turns to look at the dialing device. "Maybe if we just –"

"McKay," Sheppard says sharply. He hasn't left Dr McKay's side since they arrived here, though he never once looks at the scientist. Still, he seems to know when McKay looks up, because he waits until then to say, "Not now, okay?"

"Right, of course," McKay says, twitching away from the device. He looks nervously around the clearing, one hand back on his weapon. "Sorry."

"Everything clear?" Sheppard asks Ford, who nods. He too has not once looked at Sora since leaving Atlantis. "Lets get on with this then."

Sheppard makes a gesture to one of Sora's guards, then to her hands, bound in leather straps with several buckles. As he moves towards her, Teyla steps between the two of them. "I will do it," she says.

"Teyla –" Sheppard starts, but Teyla has already pushed her weapon aside, leaving her hands free to work at the heavy buckles. She is closer to Sora now than anyone since she left her own world, and Sora fights to remain still, her eyes focused on the trees behind Teyla's head.

"What will happen to me now?" she asks, her voice strong and clear.

"We're going back to Atlantis," Sheppard says. "There's nothing to stop you from leaving here, going back to the Genii homeworld if you like. I really don't care. But if you ever come near any of my people again, I'll do to you what I did to your commander and your platoon."

Sora does not doubt the truth of what he says, even with Teyla's hands soft against hers as she removes the last of the straps.

"Any more questions?" he asks.

Sora looks straight ahead, saying nothing.

"Okay then. McKay, dial it up."

The ring opens and they begin to file through. Sora does not look to see if Teyla turns back. A moment later, the ring closes, and she is alone.


By nightfall, she knows everything that she can of the area around the ring. There is not much to know: a small stream runs within walking distance of the gate, and she will not want for food for several days, the Lanteans having left behind one of their packs. She quickly resolves that she will find her own food – the packaged supplies are even worse than the food she was given in the city. Beyond that, they have supplied some very basic medical equipment and a blanket that Sora believes may have come from the Athosians. Her own knife is at the very bottom of the pack, though her gun is not.

She puts together a fire, only to remember that her lighter is not amongst the possessions she now owns. The sun is beginning to set, the air growing cold, and the blanket, though warm, will provide little protection if the night is cold. She returns to the pack, spreading the contents on the ground. Whoever packed it did so with an eye to surviving, even if only for a few days. Surely that would have included something with which to light a fire.

She finds it by mistake, looking for a lighter similar to those the Genii traded to the Athosians several years ago; the box of small sticks seems far too simple for the people of Atlantis, but one catches fire when she scrapes it against the sandpaper on the side of the box, and it serves the purpose well enough.

The fire catches easily, warming the air when Sora sits close enough. She wraps herself in the blanket anyway, trying to absorb some comfort from it. The sun has set rapidly, and the world is now completely dark outside the light of her fire. Below the sound of wood splitting and spitting, she can hear the sounds of the night: the breeze in the trees, small things moving amongst the undergrowth. It is almost familiar, or would be, if not for the remembrance of the silence of the city.

"This is a poor fate for one of the Genii," she says, hoping to draw comfort from the sound of her own voice. It sounds very loud in the darkness, and the untruth of the statement is made worse for there being no-one to respond.

She drinks the last of her cup of water from the stream, then curls herself into the blanket, facing away from the fire. It will offer her poor foreknowledge should something come from the darkness, but the fire at her back is oddly reassuring. It does not prevent her sleep from being poor and troubled.


The next day, she walks in a straight line from the ring until she judges the sun to be at its highest point. She is still within the trees, the ground as flat there as it is by the ring. If there is a vantage point to be found, it is not in this direction, and she is far from certain that she would see anything worthy of the climb were she to find a suitable rise. As much as she wishes to, she does not doubt Major Sheppard's statement that there is nothing on this world but the fierce animals on the far side of the continent. She will not find companionship here.

She doesn't allow herself to slow as she returns to her small camp; having started out not long after dawn, she knows she does not have time to waste. She is certain that she will not be able to find her way back to the ring without the guidance of the sun. The stars are a poor guide in an unknown sky.

She cannot, it is quite clear, remain on this world for very long. She does not have the supplies for more than a few days, and neither does she have the means to acquire what she will need. She does not even have a change of clothes. Besides, the world offers scant option in terms of cover from a herd of violent beasts.

It is equally clear that she cannot return to the Genii homeworld. Their overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Lanteans will have become quite clear to Chief Cowen, and her own survival will be looked upon with great suspicion. More so, as she has been gone for so long. She is certain that Commander Kolya would have counseled for her to be removed from the general population, suspecting her to be a spy for the Lanteans. She is unsure who will have stepped into his place, but doubts that they would counsel otherwise.

She pauses in her trek, resting one hand on a tree trunk as her breath comes short for a moment. So many, all of them killed, because she could not hold the gate room against one desperate man. She understands that they were not aware of what was happening – that they stepped into the ring and never stepped out – but her mind refuses to stop presenting images of them floating somewhere between the Genii homeworld and Atlantis, unable to return home.

She misses the anger which carried her through her first days of imprisonment in the city, ready to kill Major Sheppard with her bare hands if he came within her line of sight. Her very skin had sung with readiness for the fight, vengeance for those whom he had killed. In those few days, she had been strong, strong enough to take the city and offer it up as a gift to Chief Cowen in exchange for being allowed to return to her people, the hero who did what so many could not. What Commander Kolya could not.

Major Sheppard, it seemed, was more cunning than Sora, even then, had given him credit for being. Many soldiers came and went at her door, but never him, never him, never him, day upon day, until his face was no longer the center of her dreams, until the burn for vengeance slipped from her body, and she could not even clearly picture his face. It left behind a sadness, an ache of longing for her father, her home, for one person who looked at her with familiarity. She is far from certain that this too will fade.

"And if you are eaten by vicious animals instead, this will not be better," she tells herself, and begins walking again.


She dials Hafta, in the end, because it is the first major trading world for which she can recall the address; because she cannot remain where she is, and she cannot go home, and if she is to make her way alone, where better to start than a world to which no-one belongs; because she longs for her father, who she cannot have, and for Teyla, who perhaps she can, and she needs to be gone from a world where every breath tastes of temptation.

Hafta is much busier than she remembers from a handful of trips when she was first entering adulthood, though it is not hard to believe that this is the fault of her memory. The Genii have never ventured much off-world, and Sora has made few trips through the ring, compared to some of her friends from other trading nations. It is the height of the trading season now, the round trading huts of Hafta opened up, spilling goods and people onto the streets, the air filled with the noise of so many people, uncaring and safe beneath Hafta's shield. The Wraith do not come here, unaware of the world's existence, or at least of its population, high for a little over half of the world's year, and barely there for the rest.

Sora refuses to bow her head, walking between the low, grey stone hives of the buildings, though she feels the eyes of the other people upon her. Her uniform is not so clean as it might be, after six days living in the dust. It is not for this that they look at her, she is certain, but for her wearing a uniform at all, when so few on Hafta do so. It marks her apart, as the long skirt, the loose blouse she wore on her last trips did not; there is little chance, now, of her being remembered by anyone as a member of a Genii trading party, many years ago.

Little chance of that, but Cowen still sends traders to Hafta's markets, and they will recognize her uniform, likely before she has a chance to recognize them, blending so seamlessly into the rest of the crowd. A part of her welcomes the thought: those who trade for the Genii are considered more liberal than those who fight for them, perhaps more willing to bring her safely home. Even if they cannot, they will know of other worlds, safer and less populated than this, places where she can find safety, as she would have with the Athosians, perhaps, had they not gone into alliance with the Atlanteans. Sora knows many of the Genii's secrets, but their trading networks have never been something of interest or use to her. It is something more for her to regret, now, when the knowledge would be far more valuable than that of their production.

She will need a weapon, more than just the knife she carries, though she can well defend herself with it if necessary, as well as she can with her bare hands. It is only that her hands feel empty, still, without a weapon, a sign of her status, of her people's status, their developments and advances beyond those of other worlds. Not that she had many chances to show this to others, but it is something for which she still feels pride and satisfaction. A weapon cannot be easily acquired, though; she will need money for it, as she does for clothes, for food, for lodgings. On her homeworld, everything was supplied, in exchange for work in the factories, in the fields, in maintaining the cover of the Genii as peaceful, harmless farmers. The skills she has from this will be of little use in this new world she belongs to now, where the true nature of the Genii is unknown and she is one of many seeking work.

"Do you ever wonder if they suspect?" Jana asked once, as they stood in the field together, watching another trading party tour their crops, nodding seriously as Cowen spoke, too far away for them to hear.

"No-one ever does," Sora said, and she remembers, now, the bubble of warmth that seemed to enclose the two of them for a moment, caught up in the shared secret. She cannot imagine ever finding that again. She steps to the side of the road, between two trading buildings, out of the sun and the press of people, needing to catch her breath, to close her eyes.

To remind herself that she has made the only decision, taken the only option, when the other is death and dishonor. It is always a loss for one to be lost to battle, even to illness, but for the lost one, there is comfort in going bravely to the end. For her, there would be no comfort, no ritual, but merely the ending of a life disgraced. As a true Genii, it is her place to embrace this death, in payment for her crime, but, under the sun of Hafta, where she is known by no-one, she wonders, as she did only once, left behind on Athos while she fought with herself not to ask for sanctuary. She wonders if her place is not in embracing death for what she did, but here, free.

She steps back onto the main pathway, slipping within the crowd, and sets her feet for the long hall, where people go to seek work. She is one of them now.

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