Monday, August 13th, 2007 10:56 am
Title: Wild Dark Times
Author: [personal profile] bluflamingo
Fandom: SG1 (Road Not Taken AU)
Rating: PG-13
Words: 3275
Feedback: Yes please. Even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad.
Disclaimer: No, I don’t own them. To my profound disappointment.

Summary: It's not exactly what Lorne expected when he signed on to save the world with the SGC; sometimes he thinks that's more a failure of his own imagination, though (Spoilers for 10x13 The Road Not Taken)

A/N: Written for [livejournal.com profile] apocalypse_kree for the prompt: Lorne and Cameron Mitchell from the 10x13 (The Road Not Taken) parallel universe. In the end, the fighting doesn't last long; Lorne hadn't expected much more



Wild Dark Times

Lorne leans back against the wall he’s crouched behind, resting his 9mm on his knees. It’s not as good as a P-90, and he’s only got one spare clip left, but it’s better than nothing, and P-90 ammo’s impossible to get hold of now.

He’s due out at the pick-up site in two days, and, unfortunately, he’s almost certainly going to be late; he’s never met anyone so consistently disinclined to accept excuses as Colonel Caldwell.

He checks round the side of the building once more – it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you and burn you to death as an example to other non-believers. Still no-one, and the patrol isn’t due by for another half hour.

He double checks his gun, makes sure the radio in his pocket is turned down – not that anyone has tried to call him on it for the last couple of days – pulls on his cap, and ducks round the building. It’s hard not to run, even with years of military training, but he keeps against the wall, moving slowly and checking every patch of ground before he puts his foot there.

It’s an hour past curfew, and most people are in bed; there’s not much to do now the networks have stopped broadcasting and the Ori have banned everything but the Book of Origin. Good little intergalactic crusade fighters need their beauty sleep, Lorne thinks, and even his thoughts are tinged with hysteria and exhaustion.

He ducks into the doorway, hoping it’s the right one, and presses his back against the wall. This is the worst part.

He takes a deep breath, checks every window for signs of life and, when he doesn’t see any, taps out the rhythm on the intercom button.

There’s a pause long enough for panic to creep in at the edges of is mind: he’s asleep, he’s converted, he’s forgotten, he never knew in the first place and, God, this is why Lorne was a pilot and a gate team leader, not a member of Special Forces. He hates this covert stuff.

The static of the response code breaks through his thoughts, followed by the too loud buzz of the door unlocking, and he ducks inside, fast.

The building’s the same on the inside as on the outside: dingy, poorly lit and eerily quiet. He wonders if this is what it’s like to survive in a town where everyone’s dead, instead of just subservient. All things being equal, he’d rather not find out.

He makes his way carefully up the stairs, ignoring the elevator, and finds there’s a door half open on the first landing. He lifts his gun and edges forward, wishing for someone to cover his back, but there aren’t enough of them left to travel in pairs.

He takes another breath and leans round the doorframe, leading with his gun. The first thing he sees is a gun pointing straight back at him.

The man slowly lowers his pistol as he gets a good look at Lorne, or maybe at Lorne’s SGC issue weapon.

“Colonel Mitchell?” Lorne asks, and the gun goes all the way down as Mitchell spins his chair and says, “About damn time,” as he wheels away.

*

They expected the chair to work again, to make them impervious to the blasts from the Ori ships like last time, and Lorne never found out why it didn’t. It didn’t matter why, watching a grainy monitor image of the beam slicing through the White House like the Ori knew the symbolic importance of the empty building.

President Landry was transported to the Prometheus, along with his leading advisers and the SGC’s leading scientists. Dr McKay was halfway through a tirade about the chair when he was taken, right in front of Lorne.

The rest of them were left behind to fight the Ori soldiers.

*

Mitchell knows more about the SGC’s contingency plans than most of Lorne’s extractions have and waves away Lorne’s explanations.

“What do they want with me?” he asks, low-voiced, around a cigarette as they wait out the patrol. “They didn’t want me two years ago, and I’m no damn good to them now.”

“They want everyone who was ever involved in the program,” Lorne explains. “They picked up a doctor who was scheduled to go to Atlantis, his thinks he might have-“

“A cure?” Mitchell interrupts, lip curled in disgust. “My legs don’t work, it’s not the flu.”

“I can just as soon leave you here and say the Ori brainwashed you if you prefer,” Lorne offers. He sympathizes with the guy, he does, but he hasn’t slept in three days, moving across Colorado Springs after his last extraction turned out to really have been brainwashed. He’s not got a lot of patience left.

“Hell, no,” Mitchell says firmly. “You’re not leaving me here to get made into an example because I’m not fit to be an Ori soldier.”

“That’s the spirit,” Lorne says, only mocking him a little. “So, can you walk at all? Because I don’t like our chances of staying inconspicuous with you in that chair.”

*

They beamed down the Ori soldiers, the huge ship hovering above the Mountain and casting everything into twilight darkness. Lorne had no idea why that stuck in his memory, but it did, that and the sudden appearance of dozens of armed soldiers, ready and willing to die for their cause, reminding him of the Goa’uld back when they used to go through the gate.

It would be a straight out battle to the end, Hammond said, before he sent them out, P-90s and grenades against whatever ordinance the Ori soldiers brought with them. That they were out of other bright ideas and it was a fool’s errand remained unspoken.

The Ori soldiers fired, and the SGC contingent scattered.

*

Mitchell stumbles and Lorne wraps an arm round his waist, ignoring Mitchell’s glare. “I can walk,” Mitchell says.

“Uh-huh.” Lorne leaves his arm where it is until Mitchell grudgingly puts his own arm round Lorne’s shoulders and leans into him a fraction. “There’s a safe house two blocks down, we’ll have to hole up there for the day.”

Mitchell doesn’t argue, just takes a deep breath and keeps going, to Lorne’s eternal gratitude. He’s picked up a few civilians alongside the ex-SGC military, and it’s a nice change to have someone who doesn’t question everything, or need him to explain that ducking patrols at night is a lot slower than strolling through the streets in the daylight.

They make it to the safe house as the sun’s coming up, and Mitchell collapses on the couch, white faced and trembling. Lorne decides discretion’s the better part of valor here, and goes into the kitchen to make coffee and check out their food supplies. He’s pretty sure Stackhouse was the last one through and he sometimes leaves chocolate.

It turns out not to be Lorne’s lucky night, but there’s bread and eggs, which is about as complex as he’s willing for his cooking to get right now. It still amazes him how many places are still trading, even if the people behind the counters do greet him with hallowed are the Ori and blind grins of conversion. The entire world’s changed in the last six months, but he could still run down the block for milk if he needed it, and didn’t mind being taken by a security patrol for breaking curfew.

Mitchell drains his coffee with a handful of pills, asks if Lorne’s got anything stronger – no – or minds if he smokes – yes – and finally eats his breakfast.

“There’s a bed in the back, and a bath, or you can just crash here,” Lorne offers, running water to wash up. “We’ll stay here till the curfew patrol’s gone past tonight, but we’re safe here till then.”

“Uh-huh,” Mitchell says dubiously from the other room, and Lorne knows he’s thinking about the gun Lorne’s still wearing. “I’m not tired. You got any books?”

Lorne laughs, startled. “We’ve been a bit busy getting people off the planet to save the great American novel,” he says.

Mitchell mutters something disgusted sounding, but goes quiet till Lorne brings out more coffee; if Mitchell’s not going to sleep, Lorne can’t either, and he’s not going to stay awake without help.

“So,” Mitchell says eventually, and when Lorne looks up, he’s staring down into his mug. “You allowed to tell me what happened? One minute they’re threatening blackouts and promising it’s all gonna be fine, the next we’re all willing converts to Origin.”

“Yeah.” It’s the one question everyone asks, the one Lorne hates trying to answer. He can still close his eyes and see President Landry, back from the Prometheus, formally ceding control to the Prior. He watched it on a store front TV with Ford and Edwards, already defeated and on the run, and Edwards said, “The end of the world as we know it,” and Ford looked at them both like they were crazy when they laughed. He hasn’t seen either of them in weeks, doesn’t even know if they’re still on Earth, still free, and some days he thinks he never will. He’s pretty sure that, for all the talk of marshalling an army on the Daedalus, or the hastily resurrected alpha site, when they’ve got every SGC, ex-SGC or could-have-been-SGC officer off the planet, the Daedalus will leave and never come back.

“Hey.” Mitchell throws an empty paper cup at Lorne. “Don’t fall asleep on me. Tell me what happened.”

“I wouldn’t know where to start,” Lorne says honestly.

*

The fighting didn’t last long – two and a half days, counting the last few hours of pointless skirmishes – and Lorne didn’t expect much more. They were hopelessly out-matched by the Ori soldiers, even with the 302s providing air support. In the chaos on the ground, they were more likely to hit their own people anyway.

When word came through that Landry, like most of the rest of the world’s leaders, was going to bow to Origin while there were still people left alive on the planet, Lorne took a look at his team, and the soldiers fighting next to them, and decided he wasn’t sacrificing any more of them to a battle that was about to end in crushing defeat.

It turned out that plenty of the others thought the same thing, and, for the first few weeks, there were a lot of people holed up in the SGC’s various safe houses, keeping in touch by radio and out of sight of the general population, a large number of whom appeared to have genuinely converted. Between them, Lorne thought they had maybe a third of the SGC, in one place or another, talking strategy.

That didn’t last long.

*

Lorne’s plans have them reaching the truck the next morning, but Mitchell’s in too much pain, barely able to put one foot in front of the other, and it’s slow going. They end up spending the night in another safe house, Mitchell out before Lorne’s even had time to make him take his pills, and he resigns himself to another night without sleep.

He tried his radio, without much hope, and there’s nothing but static on every channel. The Daedalus should be back in range by now, but she’s been held up before, and he finds himself hoping it’s happened again. They haven’t heard from the Prometheus since Landry transported down to Earth, and no-one knows what happened to it. He’s more worried about the lack of response from anyone else on the ground, where there are at least three others meant to be at the pick-up site with him.

In the distance, he hears the familiar chant of morning worship, and pulls to curtains to try and block it out.

*

They get to the garage half an hour before sunrise the next day, too late to risk trying to leave Colorado Springs, and the safe house Lorne lets them into obviously hasn’t been used for a while: the lights don’t work, and Lorne can hear the movement of creatures he’s glad he can’t see.

An hour before they’re supposed to move again, Mitchell’s sitting on the sofa, massaging his thigh and watching Lorne heat up soup, which is all he can find that’s edible. “When’s the Daedalus due?” he asks finally, low voiced.

“Last night,” Lorne says, stirring the soup vigorously. “She’ll wait a day, if we’re late.”

“When we’re late,” Mitchell corrects. He’s been getting steadily less bitter since they left his apartment; Lorne’s not sure if it’s because he’s in too much pain to find the energy or if he’s actually feeling better, but he’ll take whatever he can get, even if it is pessimistic comments on their progress.

“She’ll wait,” he says again, but he can’t help wondering if he sounds convincing. He still can’t get hold of the Daedalus, and the brief contact he managed with Markham was too broken up for anything to actually get through. He’s starting to get a really bad feeling about this.

Under the window, the curfew patrol clatters past, both of them falling silent until the sound fades out again. Lorne knows the soldiers don’t have any of the Prior’s powers, but it’s ingrained to hide when the enemy passes by. He catches Mitchell’s gaze and sees the same discomfort reflected there.

“You ready?” he asks.

Mitchell drags himself to his feet, leaning on the arm of the couch. “This wonder drug better fucking work,” he says.

*

It was Markham who confirmed the rumor that one of the safe houses was turned over to the Ori – he’d been on his way over there, but the soldiers got there first. It took him a week to get back, his clothes reeking of smoke and charred flesh.

When the call came from the Daedalus, two days later, reporting that the ship and its crew had managed to evade the Ori fleet, there was a lot of debate about whether it was genuine or whether they were playing into an elaborate Ori trap. The truth was, they didn’t have much choice – they could maybe hide out for a while longer, but they couldn’t avoid detection forever, and if they could, what good would it do them when there weren’t enough of them to even begin fighting off the Ori without help.

In the end, everyone agreed to it. It wasn’t like gate teams didn’t have plenty of experience lifting people off planets from under the noses of their rulers.

*

The pick-up point’s an old barn in the middle of an otherwise empty piece of land, hard to hide the vehicles parked up outside it, but great for defensive positioning. There’s no-one inside when Lorne and Mitchell get in, just the single large room, two beds and a food cupboard, same as always. Their truck’s the only one out there, with no signs of any other vehicles having been through in the last few days.

“Now what?” Mitchell asks, folding down onto one of the beds and lighting a cigarette. Lorne’s really tempted to ask for one; he’s never smoked, but he could stand having something to take his mind off what’s happening and help him relax a little.

Instead, he sets the transmission beacon going, and sits down on the other bed with his radio. He hails the Daedalus, and tries to ignore the sick weight that settles in his stomach when nothing comes back but static.

“I thought you said they’d wait,” Mitchell says accusingly.

“They will. Maybe it’s just not safe to decloak now.”

“Uh-huh,” Mitchell says darkly. He waits till Lorne’s been through all the Earthside channels and got nothing, then asks, “What do we do till then?”

“Wait.” Lorne nods at the transmission beacon. “If the Daedalus is up there, she’ll pick that up.”

*

They wait a week, trying the radio every morning and every evening. For the first couple of days, Markham’s voice comes through, the message too broken up to be meaningful, but in the end, even that stops.

Mitchell spends most of his time sleeping, or pretending to sleep, Lorne’s not sure, and Lorne spends most of his time attempting to come up with a plan. He doesn’t know if the Daedalus has abandoned them or been destroyed, but it’s rapidly becoming irrelevant. They’ve only got enough food for a few days, and once that runs out, they’ll have to leave.

“So,” Mitchell says finally. “Guess they’re not coming for us after all.” His whole body is drawn and tense, betrayed by the SGC, again.

“I guess not,” Lorne agrees. “We need to leave here.”

“And what? We can’t exactly run from the Ori.”

“There are ships,” Lorne says slowly. “Not just the 302s, there was a program building hyperspace-capable ships at Area 51.”

“You want to leave?” Mitchell pushes himself up on his elbows to glare at Lorne.

“It’s my job to get you off the planet,” Lorne reminds him. “If I can’t do it on the Daedalus, this is the next best option.”

“Great.” Mitchell rolls his eyes. “No idea what’s happened to the Daedalus, no idea if the alpha site’s been compromised or blown up, and your best plan is to send me into hyperspace with an experimental ship that I don’t even know how to fly.”

“Fine, let’s hear your idea,” Lorne snaps. “I don’t even know where the rest of my team is.” He’s trying not to think about it, but he’s got a lot of free time right now, and he can’t switch his brain off.

“So let’s find them. I know a couple of ex-302 pilots, you must know some more SGC officers.” Mitchells pushes himself all the way up, raking his hands through his hair, his eyes bright and eager. “Don’t tell me you really believed the SGC were marshalling an army at the alpha site. They look after their own.” He looks down at his legs.

Lorne sighs, and goes over to the cupboard, pulling it forward to reveal the wall safe. He cracks the seal on the envelope inside and hands the papers to Mitchell. “That’s more like it,” Mitchell says. He hands Lorne back the list of names for extraction – “Check off the ones that are on the Daedalus already” – and starts going down the list of personnel and prisoners who were at Area 51, who should still be there, assuming the bunker held. “We’ll start there,” he tells Lorne, and Lorne wonders when, exactly, he stopped being in charge of this mission. He thinks it was probably around the time he started thinking of the mission as evading the Ori soldiers, rather than getting Cameron Mitchell off the planet, around the time he realized he wasn’t going to *get* Cameron Mitchell off the planet.

*

He leaves a coded message in the safe, in place of the pack of papers, and turns off the transmission beacon, since it only has limited power.

“Any time today,” Mitchell calls from the truck. “It’s not like we’ve got a planet to save or anything.”

“I’m coming,” Lorne calls back. “Did no-one ever tell you patience is a virtue?”

“Nope. My momma always said it was acting on your convictions.” Mitchell shoves his hair back as Lorne climbs into the truck. “Acting on them with haste.”

“I’ll do a hundred and fifty all the way to Area 51 if it’ll make you happy,” Lorne promises and, for the first time since the safe house was torched, he actually feels a moment of wild, irrational hope.


Tags:
Monday, August 13th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
Just a tiny nitpick, during Mitchell and Lorne's first conversation, Lorne says "I can just as soon leave you hear (...)" instead of "here".

I find that the beauty of this story is in what is not being overtly shown, the other sg-teams' struggles to survive in a hostile world, the whole ( extremely haunting) deal with the Daedalus' non-appearance and the beginning of Lorne and Mitchell's journey to take control of their own fates. The two of them seem to be suffering from abandonment issues and I'm really glad they have each other and will probably be able to hold out a hand to all the others who were left behind ( just my opinion of what's going on here).

And yay for Lorne apocafic!

Monday, August 13th, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, thanks for some lovely feedback. You're definitely right about them helping out everyone else who's left - I've got this image of them travelling across the country picking up random abandoned SG teams as they go, because Lorne especially is the kind of nice guy who'd do that.

Just a tiny nitpick, during Mitchell and Lorne's first conversation, Lorne says "I can just as soon leave you hear (...)" instead of "here".

Oops! Thanks for pointing that out.
Monday, August 13th, 2007 11:54 am (UTC)
Oh, I like this very much. The AU SGC makes me achy, don't abandon Mitchell and Lorne! And this Mitchell is very believable, angry and cynical but still ready for action. I love that you ended it on a positive-ish note, I hope they make it!
Monday, August 13th, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC)
I don't think they've been abandoned on purpose - not that that really makes it any better, I guess.

Thanks for commenting.
Monday, August 13th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
i like this a lot. great setup, frighteningly real scenario, and the characters are just right on.

love lorne and mitchell here.
Monday, August 13th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. I love these two, so it's nice to hear the characterisation worked out.
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 01:14 am (UTC)
I love this. The uncertainty is fantastic, and I adore the Lorne POV and voice. Also, the bitterness yet tenacity of Mitchell really works for me.

Great atmosphere, great story! Also, I'm fairly certain that this was a prompt that I left, so I'm especially gleeful about how fantastic this is!
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it, if it was your prompt - it was fun to write (in a warped kind of way), so thanks for the prompt :)
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)
To quote one Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell: Now that is what I'm talking about!

Excellent. Great plotting, with the Ori take-over and the SGC on the run. And Caldwell trying to coordinate a resistance from the Daedalus makes a lot of sense to me.

Not to mention the great characterizations here! This was really good.
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad it worked for you :)

And Caldwell trying to coordinate a resistance from the Daedalus makes a lot of sense to me.

Yeah, he seems the kind to take a pro-active attitude in a crisis.
Sunday, August 19th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
I really like this - it's nice to see this Cam come alive again, and it was really great getting a glimpse into this Lorne's world and how different it is from the one we see.

I really, really like this.
Sunday, August 19th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks. The episode made an interesting world to play in, being so different from normal.
Saturday, November 17th, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
I just found this story, and I had to say how much I love it! I'm fascinated with this world, and I adore how well you wrote it.

I love Cam here, how he slowly takes charge, the way he's becoming part of the world again after being isolated for so long.

I would so love to see more of this!
Monday, November 19th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your lovely comments - you really brightened my day (which has sucked so far!)

I would so love to see more of this!

Hopefully there will be - I've got a lot of it half-planned in my head, I just need to *write* it!
Monday, November 19th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Hopefully there will be - I've got a lot of it half-planned in my head, I just need to *write* it!

Hooray! Now you've just made my day! I've looked all over for fic based on this AU, and yours is the only one I was able to find so far. I'm desperate for more, so I'm thrilled to hear you have more in store. :-)
Friday, January 11th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
What a great snippet. I'm not sure if I want what I read to be the beginning or in the middle of the story... but I definetly want to read more.

Thanks
Friday, January 11th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
Strange as it sounds, this is both a beginning and a middle - it's the beginning of a story about Mitchell and Lorne trying to save the world, and at the same time, the middle of a story about what happens to the SG teams when the Ori come.

I fear it's secretly a many thousand word story waiting to be written, except that I want to write it with original characters instead.
Friday, January 18th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
This is really lovely. One of my favorite things is when fic paints an utterly bleak picture and then manages to still give the reader a glimpse of hope.
Friday, January 18th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I like the glimmer of hope as well - unremitting bleakness is too depressing.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
I loved this so much. I loved seeing Lorne in TRNT, and Cam broke my heart in that episode, and seeing them both together really does make me feel like all hope isn't lost. <3
Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Lorne was great in that episode - he could totally save the world, and with minimal eye-rolling at Cam as well, I'm sure :)
Sunday, April 20th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Really wonderful.
Sunday, April 20th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

Do you mind if I ask how you found my fic? Just out of curiosity, since I'm not exactly one of the people everyone's heard of :)
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
I wish I could tell you, but I don’t remember how I stumbled upon your fics/journal. Sorry!

I really, really do enjoy you stories; you are an excellent writer. I like that you’re diverse in your pairings. I’m greatly looking forward to your Big Bang piece (your little comments have whetted my appetite, and I just adore long pieces of fiction). I’m also looking forward to having the time to read the two pieces you just posted.
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
S'Okay, I was just curious. I'm hopeless at figuring out how I got to a fic (which is most of the reason why I can never find anything I liked again!)

I like that you’re diverse in your pairings.

Thank you - that sounds much better than indecisive and unable to resist a good sounding prompt :)
Thursday, July 17th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
This was so cool. I loved the idea of that universe and how screwed up everything was... Awesome story!
Thursday, July 17th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I loved the idea of that universe and how screwed up everything was

Yeah - I'm not sure I'd want to watch a whole series set in it, but it's a lot of fun to write in :)