Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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sgafic: a history of violence: balancing

Well. Procrastination ended abruptly, because I ran out of things to do and started getting worried when I wanted to write into Savage Love with an actual question. Yes, I know. So my first fic for the new year.

A History of Violence, third installment. The fourth one won't work until I finish Crimes Against Humanity, so--yeah. But it's on the resolution list. Really.

Tags for earlier parts:

A History of Violence
Crimes Against Humanity

Warnings: Please see this entry for series warnings.

For miss_porcupine, Lorne-ness and Lorne backstory both.

A History of Violence: Balancing
by Seperis
Lorne, Sheppard, Bates, Cadman, Ford, Weir/Lorne, Sheppard/McKay, Beckett/Cadman
Thanks to mecurtin and sesshiyuki for the beta. Dedicated to miss_porcupine because honestly, if I'm going to steal her character, I really should give her the story as well.


Elizabeth's a good fuck; Lorne hadn't expected that, though he guesses that he probably should have.

Getting up, he finds his uniform by memory; that's his training, ground into him before he made his first trip through the gate. Everything's placed in careful order, from his boots to his pants to the guns he carries openly and the ones he doesn't--even when he's dressing, there's never a weapon more than an inch from his hand.

"Taking off?" Elizabeth murmurs from the bed. Lorne grins as he straps on the thigh holster, sliding a second gun into his boot. Looking up, the faint moonlight paints Elizabeth in pale silver, softening the sharp bones pressing too close to the surface of her skin from too much time in prisons with no Geneva standards. Twisting lines of burns stretch up her side, over one breast and across her collar, from interrogators who hadn't cared what they scarred; old shackle marks are fading from her wrists from too many months in lightless, airless South American cells; there's a long, jagged scar that cuts up one thigh, barely missing the femoral artery that she sometimes touches with gentle fingers, distant rage on her face. He doesn't know where that one is from. She wears them like trophies; he doesn't blame her.

"Early morning," he says lightly, sitting on the edge of the bed, close enough for her to touch while he pulls on his boots. Her hand trails slowly down his back, stuttering over every bump in his spine, before drifting down to hook in the waist of his pants, one fingernail sliding over the implant scar.

"You didn't protest," she says mildly. Lorne finishes tying off his boot before swiveling around, shrugging at her questioning look.

"No point." He'd known it was coming, led Sheppard's people himself, sliding into unconsciousness for what felt like seconds before he woke up with Sheppard by his bed, mouth a tight, bitter line.

Sheppard never liked making them do what he wouldn't do himself. Lorne wonders if Sheppard's ever understood they do it so Sheppard won't have to.

"Still," she says, stretching languorously, "you didn't ask him why you had to."

Lorne keeps his expression blank. "He had his reasons." And she has hers: whispers, innuendo, careful games of outer stability and inner chaos. He knows her methods because he studied them, and she's good, he has to admit it.

He's just better; you didn't survive the SGC and Cameron Mitchell if you didn't learn how to get under the radar and stay there.

"He's my commander," Lorne says simply.

She smiles mockingly but sits up long enough to kiss him, slow and dirty, and if he didn't have a mission at six….

Gently, he pulls away. "Tomorrow?"

Elizabeth grins back. "I'll hold you to it."


"How many?" Lorne says hoarsely.

"Thirty." Ramirez sounds sick and pissed both; Lorne stares blankly at the screen, because for some reason, he just didn't see this coming, and after the last six months, he really should have.

Mitchell's apparently decided it's time to pull out all the stops.

"Get Sheppard out," Lorne barks into the radio, fisting his hands to stop the shaking. "I don't give a shit if you have to shoot him, *get him out*."

When missions go wrong, they go *spectacularly* wrong. Everything up to now had run so smoothly that Sheppard had been jumpy as hell, every instinct pulled taut, and staring at the half-burned board, Lorne gets why. There's nothing about this that doesn't scream trap.

In the background, Lorne can hear gunfire, the sound of running feet, but he keeps his attention on the readings, flying low and easy beneath Asgard detection. "Thirty seconds," Lorne tells Ramirez. "I want him in range when I get there; there's no window here for fucking up. You come back without him, you go straight into space."

He's been doing this a while; he can say it and mean every word. And he's pretty sure he can even do it.

"Yes, sir."

"Lorne out." Guiding the ship closer, Lorne hopes to God the cloak stays functional: they lost their engineers three months ago; Biro vanished on a routine supply run; Bates on a planet they'd thought was safe. Lorne knows where they went, knows why they're there; even Sheppard can't break them out of another galaxy.

This is the first time, though, that they've come after Sheppard directly since Sheppard stole that Asgard cruiser. Lorne's been working out the pattern, and it's pure Mitchell. They can't get Sheppard, not with his operatives willing to take out entire ships to keep him safe, so they're going after his people.

It'll work, too. Sheppard needs them just as much as they need him; if Mitchell's goal was to drive Sheppard crazy, well, he's doing a fucking good job. "Ten seconds," Lorne says into the radio. "You'd better have--"

"Got him."

Lorne reaches for the transporter controls. "On my mark. Mark."

It's no real surprise that Sheppard's unconscious when they arrive, Ramirez wrapped around him like a blanket. Lorne gives a brief thought to Markham and the others still left and then shakes himself. He'll think about it later, when they're safer. "Okay, we're out of here."


Ford's his first stop in the mornings, an hour after Keller gives him his fix, drifting on a cloud of a Carson-mixed cocktail that keeps him pliant, keeps him talking, keeps him listening, nodding, agreeing to whatever Sheppard wants. Lorne checks his tablet briefly; most of the conditioning's been completed. Lorne remembers his own SGC conditioning pretty well; the methods they use on Atlantis might be more chemical than he's used to, but they get some truly interesting results. Taking a moment, Lorne sends a message to Biro with instructions to get Carson's formula, then goes down the hall to Ford's cell.

Sitting down, he pushes the breakfast tray through the gap, smiling as Ford comes to the bars eagerly, scanning the hall behind Lorne; it's not exactly a mystery who he's looking for.

"Weir's called him to a meeting," Lorne lies when Ford finally sits down and reaches for a piece of toast. The kid looks up hopefully. Sheppard's been careful and very, very thorough; he'll make a good addition to the teams once he's retrained. Ford watches him as he settles the tablet in his lap, smiling as Lorne points to the food. "Eat. You need to get your strength back."

"I'm feeling much better, sir," Ford answers quickly, picking up the plate with a mostly-steady hand; he's still a little too wired to be trusted to shoot straight, but all that needs is practice.

Lorne smiles; he can't help it. He likes this kid.

Ford's an enthusiastic eater; he's getting back weight he's needed badly. Lorne makes a mental note to check Sheppard's plan; it's about time they started regular workouts. A few hours a day running, some hand to hand: nothing taxing, just reinforcing his early training, SGC-conditioned obedience rekeyed to Sheppard and his lieutenants. It won't be difficult, Lorne thinks; Ford's already pretty much there.

As Ford eats, Lorne glances down at his tablet, then down the cellblock. Sumner's either asleep or unconscious; Lorne can't remember if McKay took him out this week or not. "When you're done eating, we've scheduled a medical exam," Lorne says, pretending he doesn't see Ford's spoon pause mid-air, the dawning hope lighting his face. "Sheppard says he'll take you around the city afterward. Think you're up for it?"

From the corner of his eye, he can see Ford's eager excitement; Sheppard's been leaving the mornings to Lorne for a week, knowing the effect it will have on the kid. "Yes--yes, sir. I was hoping--I know he's busy--"

"We think we have the situation stabilized," Lorne says, glancing down at the schedule; a new batch of people were brought in from the mainland last night. They should be up to orientation by the time Carson finishes with Ford. "But he thinks you're ready for something a little more interesting than sitting around here eating your ass off." He gestures to the plate. "Finish up and let's get out of here."

Ford nods, going back to breakfast enthusiastically, and Lorne hides his smile behind the tablet; this kid is perfect.


Lorne watches the television for about three seconds before he turns abruptly, catching himself on the doorframe at the wave of vertigo. Ramirez stumbles from his own chair, one fist slamming into the wall, knuckles sinking three inches into the plaster and hitting solid stone with a dull thump.

"…ago reported that John Sheppard, formerly a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and Stargate operative, was captured today during a routine patrol of the neutral zone that marks the boundary between the Asgard and Nox empires…."

"Son of a bitch," Ramirez whispers, head resting against the wall. "They're going to fucking kill him."

"John Sheppard has been under intergalactic indictment since the destruction of Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of over one million beings…"

Lorne leaned against the wall, trying to get some kind of plan together; nothing comes to mind. If there's one place they could keep Sheppard, it would be on solid earth, on Earth. Imprisoning him in space would be as good as letting him go.

"…Sheppard has been brought to Earth under the provisions of Geneva II under an intergalactic terrorism warrant for crimes against humanity. Credit for the capture has been attributed to Colonel Cameron Mitchell of Stargate Command, who for many years has publicly condemned the SGC for allowing Sheppard to transfer after his unauthorized destruction of four Nox colonies in the--"

Lorne takes out his gun and shoots the television, but not before he sees Sheppard being led across the tarmac to a heavily armed military transport. He's stumbling slightly in the heavy manacles, hazel eyes glazed; they must have shot him up with the heavy stuff to get him that pliable. With a glittering rain of sparks, the TV goes black, thin grey smoke curling up toward the ceiling from the gaping hole.

Plan. Plan. He needs a plan. "How the fuck did this happen?" There's no real way to know yet, but Lorne can guess. Sheppard has weaknesses like anyone else, and if anyone knows them better than Lorne, it'd be Mitchell. "There's no way they got him out of space; he'd blow himself up first."

Ramirez pulls his hand out of the wall, wincing briefly before he turns to Lorne, eyes blank and disturbingly empty. "Where was he going?"

"Following a rumor that the Ori wanted a deal."

Since Weir had started her power play, Sheppard had been keeping a close eye on current events on earth. Lorne faintly remembers protesting the token team Sheppard was taking, still barely out of training, but he hadn't been too worried; the zone was a free-for-all for anyone who had a workable ship and good weapons. No government had tried to regulate it, tending toward heavily arming the borders and hoping they killed each other off.

Lorne knew Sheppard had been considering organizing the various factions currently trapped inside it: the remaining Goa'uld, stripped of their empire, reduced to freighters wandering the edge of space, forbidden to step foot on any planet in the Milky Way and lacking sufficient power and supplies to leave; the Tok'ra and Jaffa who'd rebelled against triumvirate authority; everyone Cameron had exiled during the SGC's first purge; the displaced populations of more worlds than Lorne can count. Some of them displaced by Sheppard himself. "Someone fucked him over."

That team, possibly; a zone resident, definitely. It doesn't really matter who. Lorne holsters his gun before he's tempted to use it again. He doesn't have the time. "I need everyone here in five hours. Anyone too far away?"

Ramirez thinks, then shakes his head. What had been a force of over two hundred was reduced to less than twenty-five people. Lorne touches his radio. "Get them here and order mobilization of every ship we have left."

Ramirez nods sharply, straightening; he always does better with clear orders, even if this time they aren't Sheppard's. Lorne's not Sheppard, but he knows all the tricks. As Ramirez goes out, Lorne takes a breath, letting himself feel this for a second, hollow horror and sick rage washing over him before he leashes it; he'll have plenty of time to indulge that later. "Yates?" he says into the radio, surprised how at calm he sounds. "Start prep for operation gamma."

He can hear Yates swallow hard, but his voice stays steady. "You're sure, sir?"

Lorne closes his eyes. "I have a plan. Be ready to ship out in six hours."


Sheppard's waiting for them in the infirmary, smiling at Ford in welcome, leading him to one of the beds, one hand resting on his arm. Ford glows under the undiluted attention after all the time it's been withdrawn, obeying each implicit order instinctively. Sheppard talks to him the entire time, voice low and hypnotically gentle, probably telling the kid everything he had ever wanted to hear.

No one has ever said Sheppard didn't know how to handle his people.

Leaning against the wall, Lorne watches Carson come out of one of the private rooms, stripping off the bloody gloves with absent tugs, tossing them in one of the recyclers. Lorne catches a glimpse of the beds inside and wishes he hadn't, turning his attention to Sheppard coaxing Ford to lie down, giving him another dose of Carson's mix as Carson washes up and joins them, rolling Ford onto his side as Ford drifts off with a wide, adoring smile still pasted across his face. As soon as he's down, Sheppard gestures for Lorne to join him, taking seats close enough to watch but far enough away not to have to see exactly what Carson's doing.

Lorne's back aches in sympathy. "So no training for him today."

"Nah. Get him to the barracks with our people. They'll take care of the rest." Leaning back, Sheppard crosses his arms, studying Lorne. "Do I need to order you to take a day off?"

Lorne tries not to feel defensive. "I'm not--"

"Liz that exhausting?"

Jesus. Lorne flushes at Sheppard's amused grin, then sighs, because what the hell is he supposed to say to that? Sheppard's grin widens, but he doesn’t say anything else. He doesn't need to.

After a few minutes of companionable silence, Sheppard shifts, shoulder brushing Lorne's. "We finished processing this morning; they're still knocked out from surgery. When we're done here, go down and pick out who you want before McKay realizes they're here. He's been at me for more lab assistants."

Lorne shakes his head. "How many does he need?"

"To replace the ones he keeps damaging, God knows." Sheppard blows out a breath in annoyance. "There are a few missions coming up; Teyla mentioned a people called the Genii. They're pastoral apparently, very low tech, but excellent for trade."

"And maybe teach the guys on the mainland how to farm?" So far, results have been disappointing, to say the least. The Athosians that Teyla exiled don't have the necessary skills either; her people were hunters and traders, using their numbers and influence to force concessions that amounted to tribute. Lorne has no problem with continuing the practice, but it's taking time. Sheppard doesn't accept anything less than absolute subjugation to Atlantean rule. It's costly in time and personnel but safer in the long run, especially with the Wraith wandering the skies.

Pegasus is learning, though, that are things just as dangerous as the Wraith. If Sheppard has to teach them that lesson one planet at a time, he will. They'll eventually get the message. "You're making first contact?"

Sheppard nods idly, shifting uncomfortably in his seat for the second time. Lorne bites his lip to avoid commenting, even though he thinks he's owed it. "Yeah. McKay needs out of the labs and Teyla's getting restless." Lorne winces; Teyla's restlessness translates to visits to the mainland that Lorne suspects are equivalent to hunting trips. McKay makes enough of a dent in their usable personnel; they don't need Teyla adding to the problem. "Ford be ready in about a week?"

Lorne glances at Sheppard in surprise, then considers it. "I can make him ready." Turning it over in his head, it's not the worst idea for a first mission for the kid; if anything goes wrong, Sheppard and Teyla can dispose of him fairly easily. They have several groups currently being evaluated, two of which are showing promise for hostile contact and are being carefully groomed under Sheppard's strict guidelines. "He have any specialty?"

"Explosives," Sheppard says unexpectedly. "I checked his file. Got himself in trouble by firing without orders. Send him to Cadman for a refresher." Shifting again, Sheppard sighs, slumping in his seat. "I'm going to need you to go to the mainland for another evaluation; I need more people."

More specifically, Sheppard needs a certain *type* of people. The Athosians, while incredible fighters, aren't familiar enough with Earth procedures and training, won't understand unspoken orders that are conditioned into the rest of them. They're also Teyla's down to their feet; Lorne trusts them as far as he can see them.

So far, Sheppard's been sticking to former military from the mainland and the occasional refugee from a culled world, the SGC teams they pulled off the Daedalus that were amenable to re-education, but it might be about time to change their base requirements.

"Boot camp," Lorne says, surprising himself. Sheppard looks at him. "We've run though most of the ex-military volunteers; let's widen the field." The more he thinks about it, the more he likes it; if Pegasus has one thing, it's large populations in dire need of someone to tell them what they should do. "We'll start off with the basics, send the best here for the teams, let the rest take over population control on the mainland and free up our resources."

"Do we have anyone qualified to teach basic?" Sheppard says, but Lorne can tell he's interested in the idea.

"Yes." Lorne pulls up his mental lists, going through the names, marking the specialties they desperately need to fill. Assassination and sabotage, interrogators, more explosive experts, weapons engineers, field-trained medics: Lorne's wish list is very long, and there's one glaring specialty that's right at the top. "Let me talk to a few people. I can have a working plan for you by tonight."

Sheppard shrugs. "You're the expert on logistics. Seven o'clock. Your quarters?"

Lorne nods slowly, letting the idea unfurl like a flower; it's not something he's done before, but it's certainly something he can do. "You won't be disappointed."


It's not much of a plan, really; at least, not for anyone else. Once, years ago, Mitchell had told Lorne that he'd never been good at this part of the job; he doesn't have Sheppard's pragmatic ruthlessness, Bates' cruelty, or Stackhouse's brute force, and he's never had Mitchell's casual inhumanity. What he does have is what Sheppard values him for; efficiency, flawless planning, a mind with a turn to the practical and mundane, and an ability to think around corners and through problems.

But there's one thing Mitchell didn't quite get, not really; just because he wasn't good at something doesn't mean he couldn't learn, given time and motivation, and he's had both.

Lorne holsters his gun and gets out his knife as the doors to Mitchell's quarters close behind them, straddling Mitchell before the man realizes he's not alone; Ramirez and Yates strap him down as he starts to fight, bloodshot hazel eyes blinking in confusion, bleary from too much alcohol and too little rest. Running the SGC with an iron fist must be exhausting; Lorne has to wonder if this is what Mitchell envisioned when he started his takeover

Lorne waits for Mitchell to recognize him, then slides the first knife through Mitchell's upper arm, pinning it to the bed.

Mitchell arches, trying to scream, but Ramirez covers his face with a pillow, shoving the edge into his mouth. Lorne waits, riding the bucking of Mitchell's body, counting out the seconds until Mitchell goes still, then nods for Ramirez to remove the pillow; he doesn’t want to have to wake Mitchell up if he passes out.

Mitchell's not stupid; he keeps his mouth shut, eyes sharpening as they search the room before settling on Lorne with weary disgust. "Killing me won't get him back."

Lorne shrugs. "Personal satisfaction is just as good a reason. I learned interrogation techniques from you, you know."

Mitchell goes still. "There's no way you can get me out of the SGC." Or get out yourself, he almost says. Lorne knew that coming in; they all did. Lorne takes out another knife, resting it on his thigh while Mitchell works through the obvious. "So you're not going to kill me. Then what's this for?"

"I figured auld lang syne; this is how Sheppard used to have you, right?" Lorne picks up the knife, drawing a slow line from the hollow of Mitchell's throat to the center of his chest, cutting the t-shirt like butter, a thin line of dark red welling up behind. Mitchell's breath catches, responding without meaning to; Lorne grins, resting the tip of the blade against Mitchell's sternum. "I always wondered about that. So I asked. You'd be surprised what he told me."

Mitchell licks his lips nervously. "What do you want?"


"I can't." Lorne puts some pressure on the knife, letting it sink into the thin skin until it meets bone. At least Mitchell's not completely stupid and remembers his conditioning; his mouth goes tight, skin whitening, but he doesn't make a sound. "Even if I wanted to, he's under Geneva II authority. I can't touch him. And they want him dead."

"No, they want him alive. They just don't know it yet." Lorne reaches out a hand to Ramirez, who gives him a piece of paper. Lorne holds it in front of Mitchell's face. "Sheppard killed his lawyer. This is who you're sending him."

Mitchell squints. "Who--"

"He's been contacted and agreed, contingent on a fee. I can't touch Sheppard's accounts and I can't liquidate. You can and you will. Give him whatever he wants."

Mitchell reads the name, sucking in a breath. "How'd you get him to agree?"

"His kid's currently enjoying my hospitality." Lorne sets the paper on Mitchell's belly, watching his face for a lie; Mitchell's gotten sloppy. They all have here. "This isn't actually a choice."

Mitchell stares at him, probably wondering about his chances of getting away, balanced against the fact he knows both Lorne and Sheppard always had a contingency plan in place. "Okay."

Lorne sits back; he's half done. "Now, the second part of this little visit. How was he captured? Not the shit you're telling the intergalactic news. He hasn't stepped foot on a planet since I joined up. What did you do?"

Mitchell twitches, and Lorne sees regret slip across his face, along with everything that always trailed it where Sheppard was concerned; rage and betrayal, sick jealousy like rotting meat, the way that Sheppard's never valued anyone like he values the people he claimed as his own, and how Mitchell had never been and could never be one of them. Looking at Mitchell, Lorne thinks he finally knows why.

"Negotiate," Mitchell whispers finally. "He--he heard that the triumvirate were negotiating with the Ori."

Lorne's eyes narrow. "You're fucking with me."

"No. No one wants another war. We can't--" Mitchell twitches a little. "Weir's made some inroads. They're not here to play, Lorne. They want the triumvirate destroyed."

Lorne really couldn't care less. "How did you convince him to leave his ship?"

Mitchell closes his eyes. "We disabled the ship so he couldn't self-destruct. I pulled his people awaiting trial: Biro and Bates and the others. He gave up, they go to Atlantis in one piece. He didn't, they died while he listened." Mitchell's mouth cracks a little in a bitter smile. "You know him. He doesn't leave people behind. He's stupid like that."

"His team wouldn't have let him."

"They got safe passage out of the zone if he agreed." Mitchell's lips part in a faint smile, maliciously satisfied. "Unfortunately, they didn't survive when the ship unexpectedly blew after we got Sheppard."

Lorne takes a breath; he should have known. They're lucky they're already dead. "Who told you where he was?"

Mitchell hesitates, then shrugs. "The zone's full of people willing to kill their own mothers for a chance at a planet. We offered amnesty and a system free of Geneva II restrictions to whoever found him. It wasn't hard to get takers willing to give us information."

Lorne nods at Ramirez, already working through SGC interference on their radios. Mitchell's head twists around, following Lorne's gaze. "What--you can't think you can--"

Lorne shifts his seat, pushing the air from Mitchell's chest, finding a weird kind of satisfaction in the way Mitchell's eyes widen, mouth gaping open. Folding up the paper, Lorne puts it into Mitchell's pocket, then braces a hand over his shoulder, leaning close enough to smell the alcohol seeping from his skin. "You'd be surprised what I've learned to do."

"What are you--"

"Just settling some debts." Leaning back, Lorne watches Mitchell's eyes widen in understanding. "Sheppard taught me this part of the job." Pulling the knife from Mitchell's sternum, Lorne reverses it, slamming sharply against the side of Mitchell's head. The brown eyes flutter shut as he goes limp.

Standing up, Lorne pulls the other knife free, checking the wound to make sure he didn't hit an artery, then wiping it clean on Mitchell's shirt. Ramirez and Yates untie Mitchell as Lorne taps his radio, listening to the faint echo of their descramblers working through the SGC's defenses, then the sudden clarity and soft hum of their remaining ships. "Execute gamma on all bases and the zone on my mark. Nothing gets out of there bigger than an atom."

There's a pause, rapid tapping of keys. "Ready, sir."

"Surrender to the SGC when they show up," Lorne says, remembering what the lawyer had told him. "Don't say anything else until you are provided with our lawyer." Lorne grins a little at Ramirez. "We'll see you in Atlantis.


The SGC alarms go off before they're more than ten feet down the hall; Lorne stops them short as SGC personnel flood the halls, amused at the stunned expressions of the Marines fumbling for their weapons; if he'd been here to kill them, most of them would already be dead. Lorne stares down the barrel of a P-90 and fights not to smile; it's just so fucking predictable.

A voice cuts through the confused shouts. "The neutral zone reports an unprovoked attack on all ships; I repeat, the neutral zone has reported an unprovoked attack on all ships. All personnel are to report to--"

"I'm Evan Lorne," he says, raising both hands, gesturing for Ramirez and Yates to do the same. The Marine's eyes widen in shock. "As acting commander, I'm surrendering John Sheppard's forces under the provisions of Geneva II to the custody of Cameron Mitchell. I'm wanted under an intergalactic warrant for crimes against humanity." There's a little thread of excitement running through him; Sheppard knows him, knows them, knows what they'll do. Atlantis. A whole new galaxy. "And right now, I want my lawyer."


Lorne checks on Ford before going off duty, leaving him with Markham and Ramirez, as much his watchers as his new best friends. Sheppard's right; Ford fits as perfectly as a glove.

Bates and Cadman are waiting for him outside his quarters; he doesn't fool himself that McKay doesn't have eyes everywhere, but the gene therapy keeps at least his private quarters relatively safe. He nods, letting them in while he finds the tablet, glancing over his notes while they search out the beer and chips he's never managed to successfully hide.

Sheppard's a predictable ten minutes late, wandering in freshly showered and glowing with energy, bruises darkening on the bare skin of his lower arm and one cheek; he must have been working out with Teyla. One eyebrow raises when he sees the other two, but he takes the beer Cadman offers with a smile, snagging a desk chair and turning it backward before sitting down. "So you have a plan."

"I think so." Lorne takes a breath, nodding at Cadman to give Sheppard her tablet. Sheppard looks it over, pausing about where Lorne had expected.

"You're kidding."

Lorne leans forward. "Long term planning," Lorne says as Sheppard scans the section. "It's not just the Wraith; we have to prepare in case the triumvirate or the Ori get it into their head to see what's going on over here. That means we need more than a few hundred people and a few controlled worlds; we need an army." Lorne hesitates, then pushes ahead. "Specifically, you need one."

Sheppard's head snaps up. "I'm not afraid of Elizabeth."

He's not, but he should be, and it's not in him to know how to be; that's where they come in. "She's not in charge of Atlantis because she's stupid; as long as you and McKay balance her in power, she's perfectly willing to work with you both. But she's got Zelenka and she thinks she has me, and Teyla will ally with whichever of you comes out on top; Weir's planning for the future. And you need to be, too."

And McKay for that matter, but this will take care of that as well. The last thing any of them need is for Elizabeth to think she can weaken Sheppard by going after McKay.

Sheppard hesitates, thinking it through: thinking of McKay probably, more vulnerable than Sheppard could ever be. Lorne's counting on that. Sheppard hesitates, then nods. "So you want everyone in the city for this."

"Atlantis needs to be a military power; we have enough planets now under our control to be noticed. We cut a lot of trade for a lot of people, and not everyone in the galaxy is equally decimated by the Wraith. Alliances are good; subjugation is better. We learned that in the Milky Way."

Sheppard nods. "So everyone gets basic."

"We can exempt the senior staff," Lorne says, thinking of McKay. But Sheppard's handling McKay's training anyway, and Lorne wouldn't wish McKay on anyone. "But everyone else. And that means McKay's people too, along with giving us access to their expertise for the teams."

Sheppard nods, turning back to read as Lorne exchanges glances with Cadman and Bates. So far so good.

"What's the breakdown on the training?" Sheppard asks as he scrolls. "Officers, regulars, teams--shock troops." Sheppard grins in delight. "Good thinking. We've never had those before."

"We never needed them before. SGC had the Marines; we'll have them."

Sheppard nods, taking a drink. "Specialists, scientists, trainers--you've been working on this. Thinking of recruiting from the natives?"

"If Teyla wants to give up a little control, we can work the Athosians in. They're good, but they don't have our organization or our conditioning." Lorne leans back, glancing at Bates and getting a quick nod. "The rest--that'll depend on who we find. Planets after a culling seem particularly vulnerable to--persuasion."

Sheppard nods agreement. They've gotten their best recruits from post-culled worlds: bitter grief and rage work as well as the SGC's conditioning ever did. Lorne keeps his eye on Sheppard while he reads his own tablet.

When Sheppard goes still, putting down the beer, Lorne's ready. "Bodyguards."

"For all senior staff," Lorne answers calmly. "Same procedure as the SGC. Not for first contact. It won't affect the teams."

Sheppard stiffens. "I don't need--"

"You're the military leader of Atlantis and, if our operatives have been doing their job, rumored to be the only living heir to the Ancients. You're a target." Sheppard's head jerks up, eyes narrowing; he'd hated it when Elizabeth had decided it, and he hadn't grown any more fond of it since. "Elizabeth's leader of Atlantis; she's a target. McKay's head scientist, and probably the most advanced scientist in this galaxy. He's a target. Teyla's leader of the Athosians, our most powerful ally; she's a target. Carson's our head of medical and the only person who can recreate the Ancient gene for non-gene personnel. He's a target. And all of them, by your orders, were assigned bodyguards the second we had enough personnel. We're just expanding it."


"Sir." Lorne waits until Sheppard's eyes meet his. "We're not taking that risk again."

Sheppard looks between them, the hazel eyes narrowing thoughtfully; he knows them just as well as they know him. "So I'm going to assume you called everyone in for a vote?"

Bates looks grimly satisfied. "He didn't need to." Cadman nods mute agreement, fingers tapping against the arm of the couch before she leans forward.

"We can't afford any mistakes." She's thinking of Carson, too: wary of Elizabeth's demands in Carson's lab, worried about Elizabeth's subversion of some of Carson's staff. They have Keller and Biro, but the others Lorne would cheerfully gate to one of the nearby moons if they had anyone that could replace them. Cadman fights a daily battle not to shoot them on sight.

Sheppard rolls his eyes, going back to the tablet, nodding to himself as he reads. Lorne lets himself relax when Sheppard finally sets it aside, picking up his beer. "When are you starting?"

"On your order; there are no missions this week while we're processing mainland personnel." Lorne checks his tablet. Their newly acquired staff of clerks and administrative staff are already working on the timetables. Even at the SGC, Lorne's never had such an efficient staff. The implant, he thinks, is an excellent motivator. "We'll sort through the personnel we have and Cadman will oversee evaluating those on the mainland. There are several facilities there already; I'll get some engineers to adapt them to our purposes."

"How many?"

"Three on the mainland can be converted into camps for basic training." Lorne takes a casual drink of his beer, trying to look at ease. "We'll pick the best for the team and specialists, bring them here for further training; Bates will take the ones we're training for the city and Cadman and Markham can work with the ones for the gate teams. I'll run the one for the bodyguards myself."

Sheppard snorts, eyebrows raised in amusement. "You trained Mitchell's, didn't you?"

"And I was very good at it." Lorne thinks of how easy it was to get into Mitchell's quarters with disgust; the new ones that Mitchell trained had been almost embarrassingly easy to dispose of.

"Start tomorrow," Sheppard says finally. "We don't have any offworld activity planned, so I'll order the city locked down." Sheppard looks thoughtfully at the far wall. "I'll talk to McKay--he can pick which of his people go out first. That should keep him happy."

Lorne's fairly sure that McKay won't be happy no matter how they organize it, but that's Sheppard's job, not his.

"Be at the staff meeting first thing tomorrow for a full briefing." Setting the can on the floor, Sheppard looks at them. "Anything else?"

"I want Zelenka."

Sheppard's eyes widen, flaring in anger; Sheppard's never going to forgive Elizabeth for protecting Zelenka. "No."

Lorne holds his eyes, feeling sweat break out on the palms of his hands, wrist aching in vivid reminder of the last time he fucked up. He won't make that mistake again. "He's the second best scientist in the city and he belongs to Elizabeth because she's the only one standing between him and McKay. He's a danger to you, to our people, and most specifically to McKay. I'm going to make him less dangerous."

Sheppard tilts his head thoughtfully, anger evaporating like water in the sun. Lorne wonders if it's the constant activity or McKay that are helping balance Sheppard's mood swings. Frankly, as long as it continues, Lorne really doesn't care. "When?"

"Make sure he's with the first group of scientists that go out; when he gets to the mainland, we'll take him and some others for special training and take care of it." A little chemical coercion, some simple conditioning, and six weeks of unrelieved attention from Bates should do the trick. By the time they're done, Zelenka will piss himself even thinking of touching McKay.

Lorne can see him thinking about it; good idea, yes, but dealing with McKay, probably isn't going to be as fun. "I'll talk to McKay." With a sigh, Sheppard looks at the empty beer can like he's thinking of getting another; considering who he's going home to break the news to, Lorne doesn't blame him. "Meeting's at ten; all of you be there to give a briefing."

"Yes, sir." Cadman says, drawing it out enough to make Sheppard smile. "Have a good night."

"Until now, I thought I would." Shaking himself, Sheppard nods at Bates, eyes lingering on Lorne in a promise they'll be revisiting all of this in far greater detail. Lorne nods back, getting a slight smile before the door opens and he vanishes down the hall.

Cadman collapses back against the couch cushions with a sigh. "That went too well."

"I noticed." Bates fishes out a bottle from somewhere in his bag; Lorne stares at the vodka; where the hell did he get that? Bates pours them each three fingers into the paper cups he brought as well, drinking his with a dour look. "He's going to figure this out."

Lorne shrugs. "By the time he does, he won't care." Taking a sip, Lorne almost sighs. He looks forward to when they get a working still on base; Pegasus liquors are all well and good, but there's no equivalent for tequila in this galaxy. "Ford's treatment went perfectly; we'll use a similar model and combine it with the SGC training. You have the candidates?"

Bates nods, tapping his tablet. "Six recruits, all Pegasus natives; officially, they'll be trained as Sheppard and McKay's bodyguards, along with whoever Weir and Teyla select. All six have a military background and none of them are on any of the teams." Bates gives Lorne a thoughtful look. "You're overseeing their training in the city personally?"

"Yes." Something in him is relaxing a little already, just knowing he can finally do something about Sheppard's security. "I'll talk to McKay tomorrow; we can't re-create all the SGC conditioning, but he can build us an equivalent when we're ready to bring them back." And be less bitchy about Zelenka; Lorne figures that once he knows what they're doing, he'll be all over it.

Lorne trained Mitchell's bodyguards, men whose only job was to stand between Mitchell and a weapon; for Sheppard, they'll be far more. A thousand things can go wrong in Pegasus, and a lot of them could go wrong right here. Not just bodyguards, but Sheppard's own private army, incorruptible, blindly loyal, and utterly focused on a single goal: Sheppard's life and Sheppard's safety at all and any cost, insurance against Elizabeth's power games and outside enemies alike. Elizabeth's careful rumors of Sheppard's descent from the Ancients are going to have a consequence she never would have thought he'd know how to use.

"Call Biro and the others; I want everyone briefed tonight," Lorne says. "I don't want any unpleasant surprises at the briefing with Weir. Decide what parts we'll let Weir change; I can make sure she doesn’t touch what we need."

Bates is on the radio before he's finished speaking, while Cadman nods, frowning at her tablet to decide what they can concede to Elizabeth's demands.

Lorne learned from the Milky Way; this time around, he's not making the same mistakes.
Tags: fic: stargate:atlantis 2008, sga: a history of violence, sga: crimes against humanity
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