Summary: AU ending to the episode 5.13 "Inquisition" and spoilers for same.
Word Count: 2,880
Disclaimer: Not mine
Author's Note: Title borrowed from the last line of here.
It was rigged.
The lady judge was glaring at Sheppard like he’d personally murdered her family. He couldn’t say a word that she’d hear. Sheppard didn’t fully blame her. In her place, he could imagine taking vengeance on the only person he could touch.
It sucked and it was wrong, and no way in hell should someone that wounded be trusted to make a reasonable decision about this, but he understood it.
The other two were his only hope.
The middle guy, Dimas, wasn’t all that friendly, but he wasn’t emotionally invested in it like the woman. He mostly seemed a little disinterested, which was at least closer to proper judge demeanor. Maybe he was buying that the whole abandonment penalty was wildly out of hand regardless of how he felt about the Atlantis mission. Sheppard later realized Dimas was probably only there because his indifference lent the tiniest bit of credibility to this kangaroo court.
When Woolsey pointed out that Kelore was totally playing them, Sheppard got a little hopeful. Because it was the Genii, who only ever operated with half-assed trickery or full blown dumbass operations. And they’d always ultimately outwitted or out shot the damn Genii. He didn’t expect this to go any differently. Except Sheppard would have the memory of Shiana crying and accusing him of killing her entire planet, in addition to all the other sick things from Pegasus that were probably going to be bouncing around his skull for all eternity.
But he’d kind of moved on from being anxious about the verdict to assuming he and his team would be home for dinner.
Woolsey looked awfully pleased with himself when he got back from his little one-on-one with Kelore. Sheppard gave him a grin and promised Teyla she’d be back with her son by the following morning.
The hammer dropped three hours later. They were all sleeping. Well, Woolsey and Rodney were snoring like lumberjacks. Ronon pretty much slept through anything he didn’t identify as a threat. Teyla had her arms folded under her head, half as a pillow and half blocking out the noise.
Sheppard was mostly asleep. He had the tense wakefulness of waiting for this to be over, and the exhaustion that they’d been locked in the stupid cell for days now.
The boots of the guards scuffing on the ground woke him. It wasn’t time for the verdict. Sheppard sat up, curious.
The guard nearest the door gestured with his head for Sheppard to stand. He was trying to be quiet, which was a little confusing. But Sheppard went along with it, knowing the moment the door squeaked that Ronon would be wide awake and unfriendly.
Sheppard was right. The door woke Ronon, who sat up immediately.
The guard yanked Sheppard through the door, shoved it shut behind him.
“Hey!” Ronon yelled. “Where are you taking him?”
“Chill out, buddy,” Sheppard said, softly. “It’s okay.”
It seemed okay, anyway. Woolsey had said everything was under control. Another middle of the night meeting was a little troubling, but maybe Kelore wanted to hear it again from Sheppard.
But Ronon’s shouting had woken everyone else. Sheppard heard them murmuring in confusion as he was hustled away.
It was not okay. It was really not okay, at all. But it would seem okay for a little longer.
Kelore had him brought to an empty room, looked like an abandoned office or something. It was dark and dingy and the perfect setting for something horrible. He also had Sheppard handcuffed and shackled before the guards left the room, which should have set alarms off right away.
“Hey, Kelore,” Sheppard said, forcing his voice to come out easy and casual. “What’s up? I thought Woolsey got us all squared away.”
“He did,” Kelore said. He looked…unhappy. Holding himself stiffly and trying to pull off a strong, dispassionate demeanor and kind of failing.
“We’re much better friends to have than the Genii,” Sheppard said, going for jovial.
“I agree,” Kelore said, flatly.
“What’s going on?” Sheppard finally asked, directly.
Kelore looked at the ground, then raised his eyes. “The Genii require proof that the outcome of this trial is as was promised.”
Sheppard blinked. “What?”
“They must witness your exile,” Kelore said. “Or they will know of our arrangement.”
“Witness?” Sheppard demanded. “You mean…come across us when we’re all unarmed and abandoned so they can capture us?”
“No,” Kelore said, sharply. “We are not that foolish. Or cruel. But the agreement was made that one of their agents would witness your team being escorted…”
“Abandoned,” Sheppard interrupted.
“They would not know where you were taken,” Kelore promised. “But they would see that you were. They demanded proof.”
“You didn’t mention this to Woolsey,” Sheppard said, waiting.
“I believed you were the party I should speak to,” Kelore replied.
“Why’s that?” He had a very, very bad feeling about this.
“You are a soldier,” Kelore said.
“I am,” Sheppard confirmed.
“He is a bureaucrat.”
“I’m not following,” Sheppard told him.
“I have thought of only one way in which our deal is not exposed. The Genii will not trust me if you all are released. Our arrangement will be pointless. I accomplish nothing; it would be more profitable to find you all guilty as intended.”
Comprehension was dawning. Really shitty comprehension. “All,” Sheppard said, slowly.
Kelore nodded. He waited, but not for long.
“Me,” Sheppard said, immediately. “Take me, and let my team go. Let ‘em see me.”
For a second, Kelore was silent. He looked relieved, but also a little ruffled. “As I expected,” he said. Then he paused. “Your people…”
“Will be angry but they’ll understand. It won’t harm your arrangement with Woolsey,” Sheppard said. “Providing after the Genii have the proof, that you let me go.”
“Of course,” said Kelore. He gave a little smile. “You will be released. I was unsure if you would want to help.”
“I always want to help when it comes to fucking the Genii over,” Sheppard said, fairly honesty.
“When the verdict is read,” Kelore said. “It will find you guilty and release your friends.”
“Right,” Sheppard said. “Let my team and Woolsey go. Show the Genii I’m in custody, then let me go.”
“I will release them once you have been transported to your destination,” Kelore interrupted. “And the Genii are satisfied.”
Sheppard raised his eyebrows.
“I do not trust you,” Kelore said. “Not to resist without collateral.” He shrugged apologetically.
“Yeah,” Sheppard said, nodding. “That’s smart.” He frowned. “Wish I had some collateral about trusting you.”
“The agreement,” Kelore reminded him.
Which was true, and yet not all that comforting.
Sheppard’s team and Woolsey were awake and sort of frantic when the guards returned him to their cell.
“What happened?” Rodney demanded.
“You okay?” Ronon asked, glowering at the guards.
“Why did they take you?” Teyla jumped in.
Woolsey just waited until his team stopped speaking over each other. “Colonel?” he inquired.
“He just wanted a little back up,” Sheppard lied. “Guess ‘cause I carry the guns.”
“That’s all?” Rodney didn’t look all that convinced. Neither did Ronon or Teyla.
“Yep.” Sheppard dropped on to his pallet. “We should get some sleep. Long day tomorrow.”
“Hopefully not,” Woolsey corrected him.
“Right,” Sheppard said. He lay down. Ronon was kind of staring at him. “Go to sleep,” he ordered.
“I don’t like that guy,” Ronon said.
“I don’t like any of these people,” Rodney snapped.
“It will all be over tomorrow,” Teyla said, optimistically. “We will be home.”
The last day of the trial was much like the rest. More accusations. Shiana cried some more and glared at them all. Woolsey delivered a closing argument that Sheppard didn’t pay all that much attention to. The guy did look really happy in a suit spewing legal jargon, even if he thought the verdict was already decided.
The three judges didn’t even pretend to deliberate. They just sat up there and went down the line with each verdict.
It came down to Kelore, as expected.
Sheppard was prepared for what happened next, sort of. But his team wasn’t.
Kelore glanced down the bench at the other two.
“My colleagues are divided,” he said. “My decision is this: The Atlantis mission is guilty of many of the accusations rendered here.”
“What?” said Woolsey, shocked.
“But I believe it would be unjust to penalize two of our Pegasus brethren, a mere scientist…”
“Mere?” Yelled Rodney.
“And a man who was not involved in many of these events,” Kelore went on. “But Colonel Sheppard is the military leader and has been for the entire mission. He is responsible. I find him guilty.”
“You can’t change the –” Woolsey began, but he was stuttering.
“I agree,” Shiana said, leaning forward. “Guilty.”
“I am out numbered,” Dimas said, flatly.
It got kind of crazy. Guards came to grab Sheppard. He didn’t resist, but Ronon did. Teyla was demanding that they wait, Rodney was just yelling. Sheppard was hauled out of the room by his arms before he could even say anything reassuring. He heard crashing as he left. Ronon might have thrown someone into something.
“Okay,” Sheppard said. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
He didn’t know if the guards were in on it. They seemed a little confused that their prisoner was so cooperative. Sheppard found it very unsettling to hold completely still while the shackles came out and buckled his wrists together, then his ankles.
The guards dragged him out of the building, into the streets of the town. It was a spectacle; villagers in the middle of their daily business stopped to stare at him. Sheppard didn’t see his team anywhere. He remembered Kelore’s promise to keep them until the Genii had their proof, but he still didn’t like it.
The march to the ‘Gate took a while, because Sheppard was bound and staggering. He almost suggested they set him free, only because it’d make the journey faster. Somehow, it seemed unlikely to go over well.
Someone was waiting at the ‘Gate. Sheppard could see a figure in the distance, assumed it was Kelore. He must have gotten ahead of the guards escorting Sheppard.
Except it wasn’t Kelore. It was Shiana. She was sitting on the platform in front of the DHD. A bad feeling bubbled in Sheppard’s gut.
“Hello,” he said, trying to keep his suspicions out of his voice. “Come to see me off?”
Shiana rose from the ground and crossed her arms. “I have come to make certain that you go.”
“Where’s Kelore?” Sheppard demanded.
“He and I have the same authority,” Shiana retorted, probably mostly for the guard’s benefit. “I will see the sentence out.”
“I think Kelore should be here,” Sheppard insisted.
But Shiana was already dialing the DHD, the chevrons on the ‘Gate lighting up. The wormhole bloomed.
“Take him,” she ordered. “I will follow.”
Sheppard couldn’t really resist, even if he wanted to. The guards propelled him towards the ‘Gate and the cold blue threshold swallowed them all.
He didn’t recognize the planet they came out on. It was in the center of a small villiage, again. People peered up at the new arrivals, but didn’t otherwise react. Sheppard figured they didn’t care who showed up as long as it wasn’t Wraith.
Shiana was right behind them. And she went directly to the DHD and started dialing again.
Sheppard wondered if the Genii agent was standing in the village, or if Shiana had just totally undone Kelore’s plan. If she had, he might not release Sheppard’s people.
“Your fellow judges know what’s going on?” he asked her back.
Shiana didn’t look at him. “You seem very concerned about that, colonel.”
“I’m a very lawful person.”
“I am not an idiot,” she snapped. “I know very well that Kelore had alternate interest in the outcome of the trial that biased his decision.”
“Biased?” snorted Sheppard.
“I don’t know why nor do I care.” Shiana hit the last glyph. “But I will see that your punishment is enforced.”
They went through the ‘Gate three more times. Sheppard didn’t get why. Shiana wouldn’t tell him and the guards were silent. Two of the planets were inhabited with a busy village visible from the ‘Gate. The last was empty, or at least only opened out on to a thick forest.
This time when the guards yanked him away from the ‘Gate, Shiana didn’t immediately dial the DHD.
“What’s going on?” Sheppard demanded, again.
“The guards are going to remove your chains,” Shiana said. “And you will undress.”
Sheppard stared at her. “You’re going to abandon me on an uninhabited planet naked?”
Shiana glared back at him. “I am not as heartless as you are. Abandoning a single individual on any empty planet would be murder.”
“You don’t say.”
“I have a better penalty,” Shiana went on. “The survivors of many of the planets whose destruction you have orchestrated-”
“Oh come on!” He interrupted.
“-have united into one people on a planet without a DHD to rebuild their lives.”
“Having a one-way Stargate doesn’t keep the Wraith away,” Sheppard muttered.
“It helps,” Shiana retorted. “And it will ensure that you stay as sentenced.”
“Yeah,” Sheppard agreed. He hated this chick.
“You will not fight when they undo the chains,” she ordered.
“Because your friends have not yet been released,” Shiana snapped. “And if I do not return, they will not be.”
Sheppard stared at her. “Yeah,” he said, slowly. “Okay.”
The guards unlocked his hands, then his feet. They stepped back to give him a little room and Sheppard shook out his stiff limbs. He folded his arms and glowered at Shiana.
“Why am I undressing?” he demanded.
“Your uniform is known to everyone in the village,” she said, and laughed bitterly. “It is for your own safety. I will not tell them who you are and neither should you.”
“I’m not ashamed of this uniform,” Sheppard said, flatly.
“You should be.” She waited. When he didn’t move, she got pissed. “Undress. I am not a murderer. Perhaps you need their help?” She tossed her head at the guards.
Slowly, Sheppard obeyed. He sat down and unlaced his boots. Taking his sweet time, if only because it was the only resistance he could offer. He stood in his socked feet, unsnapped his pants and let them drop to his ankles, then he kicked his legs free. Next went the top half, until he was standing before them in nothing but his dog tags, boxers, and socks.
Shiana took a tentative step forward, snatched his clothing off the ground and bundled it up in her arms. She hadn’t taken her eyes off of him. He was damn sure she was getting off on humiliating him as much as the whole fucking abandoning thing.
“You may keep your boots,” she said, dropping his clothes in a pile by her feet.
From a backpack he hadn’t even noticed her wearing, Shiana was pulling another set of clothes. She tossed the pile of fabric at him and he caught it. Simple woven shit – pants and a shirt. Shrugging, he dropped the shirt on the ground and started pulling the pants on. They were too short – he was taller than the average Pegasus male – and hit him right above the ankle.
“Wait,” Shiana said as he was pulling the shirt on and going to tie it closed. He paused and she stepped forward, reaching out for something. Sheppard held still until he realized she was aiming for his dog tags. Then he jerked away.
“No,” he said. “I need those.”
“Give me them,” Shiana demanded.
But the guards stopped standing around and grabbed him again, holding him pinned until Shiana had wrestled the chain off his neck. She clutched it in her hand and grinned at him.
The men let go of him and stepped back warily. Shaking himself free, Sheppard slowly began buttoning the stupid woven shirt.
“You do not need identification,” she said. “This is to identify your body, is it not?”
“Good guess,” Sheppard said.
“You will never see your people again,” Shiana said. “They will never find you.”
The dog tags swung from her fingers. Sheppard focused more on them than her words.
“Put your boots on.”
He obeyed, watching as she carefully strung his tags around her own neck like a goddamn medal.
After that, Shiana dialed the ‘Gate again. This time when the wormhole bloomed, she pointed at it. “Walk.”
Sheppard looked at the event horizon, then back at Shiana.
“This won’t bring your family back,” he tried. “It won’t change anything.”
“It will,” she disagreed. “You will know my pain. Your people will be gone. You will never see them again. You will live with those whose lives your actions destroyed.” She nodded, as if reassuring herself. “You will know our pain.”
Sheppard started walking toward the ‘Gate, but he paused when she stopped talking.
He looked over his shoulder at her. “I guess you’ll know what it’s like to be the one responsible for it.”
Sheppard didn’t wait to hear her response. He kept walking, right through the ‘Gate.
~please feed the author~