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John didn’t have the chance to finish his sentence as the disgruntled villagers finally decided to kick in the door leading into Tharon’s office. The prime minister and her husband rose from their seats behind the desk, seemingly outraged. “What is the meaning of this?” Tharon demanded, her eyes sweeping over the crowd.

A woman stepped in between the two men standing at the front of the crowd, firmly holding their rudimentary guns that looked like muskets. “You dare defy the traditions that have been obeyed by our people for centuries, and you have the nerve to ask what we’re doing?”

Next to him, Elizabeth bristled. “Cynara.”

John’s eyes quickly looked to her for an explanation, but before one could be given, Cynara had already walked around the length of the desk. Kerrak moved protectively in front of his wife as the shorter woman sneered at them.

“I should have known it was you,” Tharon admitted harshly. “Who would ask new allies for defensive training in exchange for espo beans?”

The petite woman shook her head in condescension. “So ignorant. Just another reason why you are no longer fit to rule our people. You will come with us,” Cynara ordered, nodding at another woman from the crowd who came around with a rope in her hands. “And you will be found guilty of treason and executed.”

“Oh crap,” John muttered in a voice just low enough for Elizabeth to hear.

She looked up at him. Her green eyes flashed in defiance at him, and John started to worry. What did she have up her sleeve?

“Cynara, you do not want to do this,” Elizabeth spoke up, causing the crowd to avert their gaze and look at her. Unfortunately, this also included the two men at the front who were still holding their guns.

“You’re right, Doctor Weir. I have absolutely no desire to see one of my dearest friends put to death. But her decision to turn control of our people over to that -- that puny man -- is unacceptable, and it goes against the highest law of our people.”

“But laws are forever changing! You can’t stand here and tell me that there isn’t one law in the history of your people that wasn’t reformed, to the benefit of your people.”

The group seemed to turn to each other and consider this, but Cynara wasn’t to be deterred. “It makes no difference what happened amongst our people generations ago! What matters is here and now! The genders will never be equal, and that is a universal truth!”

John was starting to get anxious. But just as he began to calculate a plan to overtake the two men with guns, Elizabeth shook her head and -- laughed?

“Do you want to know the irony? One hundred years ago, on our homeworld, men said the same thing.”

That threw everyone for a loop, including Cynara, whose eyebrows were raised in startled curiosity.

“For the thousands of years that humans have existed on our planet, men were the dominant species. Women only gained the right to vote, to bear arms, to earn equal wages in the past century. But it never would have happened if not for a small group of women to decide it wasn’t fair, and the law needed to change.” Elizabeth lifted her hand, motioning at Tharon. “She’s the one who decided to stand up and make a change. But don’t think for a second that she hasn’t questioned this. I mean, would you want to be the one to front a reform that you weren’t positive if it would succeed or not?”

John found himself nodding along, then shook his head. Damn, she was good.

“The only way that you’re going to find out if it will succeed or not is to let it happen. And it’s entirely possible that you might decide to revert back to your customs. But you have to at least try. What’s the harm in that?”

Cynara had walked closer to Elizabeth as she spoke, so that when she finished her speech, the rebel rouser was standing in the middle of a straight line between himself and Elizabeth, and Kerrak and Tharon. Cynara looked as though she were sincerely contemplating the words that Elizabeth had spoken. “You’re right. You are right. This might work out to our benefit, or it might not.”

Then she turned and gave Elizabeth such a hard glare that the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up. It reminded him of Cruella DeVil. “And it’s entirely possible that without your meddling influence, things might have stayed the way they were.” She quickly nodded to the men in front. “Shoot her.”

“Cynara, don’t--” Tharon pleaded as the gunman took aim.

“Shut up! This is on your shoulders, Tharon!”

John’s instinctive reflexes kicked into action, and he rushed the gunman to grab his arms, trying to push the gun upwards and wrestle it away from him.

Then the gun went off, and a distinctly feminine voice let out a agonizing scream.

That did it. John turned to the man, who was now appearing shell-shocked, and punched him in the face. He dropped to the ground like a deadweight.

He grabbed the gun and pointed it at the rest of the villagers, but couldn’t avert his eyes to see who was on the ground.

Suddenly, the familiar sound of boots clamoring against the stone floor echoed into the room, and John was relieved at seeing the familiar brown dreadlocks as Ronan and Teyla entered the office, P-90s pointed at everyone.

John met Teyla’s eyes first. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” he panted. “I’m fine.”

The Athosian nodded, then her brown eyes descended to the floor behind him. “Oh, no.”

John snapped and whirled around, dropping to his knees when he saw Elizabeth sprawled out on the floor. He laid the shotgun down and grabbed ahold of her shoulders, trying to rouse her. “’Lizabeth!” he yelled, panicking as he searched the length of her body of any signs of a gunshot wound.

She moaned, then whispered, “Ow.”

“Can you move?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” she said as she rolled herself over. A cut on her right forehead was the only injury that he had seen so far, but he wouldn’t stop worrying until he had checked her out completely. “Kerrak?” she called out, and he almost slapped himself for forgetting about them.

John peeked his head around the desk. Kerrak was sitting against the wall, holding his wife against his chest, pressing a blood soaked cloth to her left shoulder. Tharon’s breathing was labored, and she groaned as she tried to readjust her position. “I’m all right,” she lied, hissing as the pain grew.

John stood up, and discreetly hid a smile at the sight before him.

All of the rebels were on their knees as the rest of his team tied their hands behind their backs. Cynara was at the front, glaring begrudgingly at him, and he returned it with one of his own. At least six Marines had covered the back of the room, and he spotted the young red-headed man who had run the Boston Marathon on his last leave. “Foreman!”

“Sir!”

“Get to the ‘Gate as fast as you can. Radio Doctor Beckett and tell him to have a medical team ready to receive a gunshot victim.”

“Yes, sir,” he quickly snapped, and took off running.

Elizabeth moaned as she stood up, and he held onto her arms to balance her. “You okay?”

She nodded. “A little dizzy, but I’m fine. The bullet hit Tharon, not me,” she added, sensing the waves of worry emanating from him.

John pressed his lips together, and let out a long sigh. “Okay.”

Elizabeth squeezed his hand reassuringly, then turned her attention to Tharon. “So were you planning on a bloodless coup? Because that strategy just got shot to hell.”

“Elizabeth--”

Keeping her eyes on Cynara, she held up a hand to John, cutting him off. “No matter how this turns out, you’re the one responsible for the shooting of your prime minister. Doesn’t that act carry a weighty sentence as well?” she inquired cynically, looking back at Kerrak.

He nodded at her. “Treason. The same sentence as you wished to impose on Tharon.”

“So now it has come full circle,” Elizabeth slowly replied, raising a hand to the laceration on her forehead. When she pulled her hand back, her fingers slightly tinged with blood, she showed it to Cynara. “Is this really the way you want to start a new era for your people? With unjust accusations and bloodshed?”

Teyla stepped forward. “Tell me, what was wrong with the way that Tharon ruled your people?”

“She wants her husband to rule us!”

Teyla tilted her head. “That was not my question. Was there anything wrong with the way that Tharon carried out her duties as prime minister? Did she leave the poor out in the cold, with no shelter or food? Did she accuse people of crimes without any basis for it? Did she ever threaten the overall well being of your people by plotting with the Wraith to cull your world to preserve a few?” The Athosian knelt down in front of Cynara. “Because we have seen it happen on other worlds. You should consider yourselves fortunate that you have such a caring ruler.”

“Kerrak has proven himself to be as trustworthy and upright as his wife,” John added. “Is his being a guy the biggest complaint you have against him? Really?”

Content that they had each done their part in making Cynara and the other rebels feel like idiots, they turned their attention to the wounded woman. “We need to get her to Atlantis.”

“Ronan!”

The Satedan made his way around the crowd and gently picked Tharon up in his arms.

“Get a head start. We’ll meet you at the ‘Gate.”

As Ronan, Teyla, Tharon, and Kerrak left the room, John crooked his index finger at the lieutenant standing near the door. “Phillips, keep an eye on these guys. Radio us if they cause any trouble.”

Phillips grinned slightly as he patted his stunner and his gun, holstered on opposite thighs. “I think we’ll be all right, sir.”

John smiled and nodded back.

He turned to find Elizabeth, but there was no sign of her in the room.

“Uh, sir? Doctor Weir went that way,” one of the sergeants responded, pointing to the open doorway.

John gave him a curt nod and left the room.

The passageway went three ways once you left Tharon’s office. One way was a short corridor into the Council chambers. The other was the door leading out into the village.

And the third was the path that led back to the doorway in the inn.

As John was trying to decide which path to follow, he caught a glimpse of someone moving towards him out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to face the person, Elizabeth clasped her hands around his neck, pulling his lips down to hers, kissing him ardently.

John’s hands gripped her around her waist, drawing her body closer to his. When she needed to breath and her lips left his, he kissed her forehead and hugged her tightly. She rested her head on his left shoulder, wincing slightly at the contact of her head injury against his shirt.

Words were escaping him. “I couldn’t … I didn’t …”

She drew back, just enough to see his face, and gently pressed the palm of her right hand to his cheek. “I know,” she assured him, and John was yet again completely amazed at how in sync they were. He barely had to say anything, yet she already knew what he meant.

He let a soft smile show, just for her, then cupped her face and gently tilted her head to get a better look at her cut. “Carson needs to take a look at this.”

She nodded in resignation.

As they walked down the hallway that opened up to the village, Elizabeth timidly reached over and inserted her hand in his, fingers lacing together tightly.

John looked down at their joined hands, then back up at her. He chuckled before placing one last kiss on her lips and opening the door.


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