Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: Maybe humans were not ready for Ascension but nobody ever said Elizabeth lacked ambition.
Author's Notes: Spoilers for all SGA. Primarily Elizabeth/Team friendship but could be Elizabeth/John if you're reading with shippy vision.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.
Before I Ascend
Ascension fascinated Elizabeth.
She'd never been religious much to her mother's disappointment. A child's dislike of hard pews and boring sermons in stuffy churches had evolved into youthful rebellion against attending services at university, and later as an adult, a more realised scepticism based on her studies of religious texts and the role of organised religion in world politics and historical wars. She would never deny anybody the idea of faith, of believing in something else beyond what was known, but she couldn't find the same comfort as her mother did in rosary beads and communion.
Ascension though was a different matter. Among all of the many fantastical things she read about as she learned of the Stargate, Ascension was the one thing that snagged her attention like no other. Something about it whispered at the edges of her soul, breathed life into her imagination, made her pragmatic sensible self somewhat whimsical and wistful.
A higher state of being that was possible; the Ancients had done it.
"Do you think ordinary humans could achieve Ascension without the aid of another Ascended being?" Elizabeth asked Daniel Jackson.
Daniel's blue eyes had met hers mischievously. "Are you thinking of making an attempt?"
"And if I am?" She aimed for a teasing tone but something must have shown because the humour faded from Daniel's features.
"I don't remember much at all but my overriding sense is that I'm not sure humans are ready for it." Daniel said quietly but seriously. He gave a self-deprecating smile. "Or maybe it was just me that wasn't ready for it."
The conversation lingered in her mind through negotiations with the Goa'uld, a reunited SG1 saving everyone again, and a new role for her leading the Antarctica Research team examining the Ancient outpost there. It was a role that would help her research Ascension.
Maybe humans weren't ready for Ascension but nobody ever said that Elizabeth lacked ambition.
Elizabeth reads the Ancient writing again. "And this part is a welcome to any wishing to follow the path to Ascension."
"Humans." Jennith corrects her, sweeping her long brown hair back from her shoulders. "It says humans."
"How do you know we can traverse the barrier safely?" Kerr demands, his young eyes flashing with anger.
Elizabeth keeps her face impassive. "I don't believe the barrier will prevent you from entering if you truly wish to Ascend." She turns to the small group. "You must believe."
"Then, this is a test." Carol, a mature looking woman with blonde hair, walks forward. "I believe." Her head is held high as she disappears through the barrier.
Elizabeth smiles and follows her.
"Tell me it isn't true!" Rodney McKay sat down at the conference table. His folders landed with a heavy thump on the polished wooden surface. Next to him, Carson Beckett raised his eyebrows.
"What's the matter now, Rodney?" Elizabeth asked, trying not to be irritated with her Chief Scientist. Rodney wasn't the easiest person to work with but he did get results.
"There's a rumour Major Light-switch turned you down!" Rodney pointed a finger at her accusingly. "Didn't you tell him how important this expedition is? How much we need him and his shiny gene?"
"Don't call him that, Rodney." Elizabeth sighed and ignored the beginning throb of a headache starting up behind her right eye. Major John Sheppard had been distinctly unimpressed with her explanation of Atlantis and the Ancients, of the knowledge they could discover. "General O'Neill was going to talk with him."
"So we're screwed then." Rodney huffed.
Elizabeth actually thought Jack O'Neill would have more success getting through to Sheppard than she'd had; Sheppard seemed the type to appreciate the kind of blunt straight-talk that was Jack's speciality.
"It's just typical," Rodney complained, "he has the gene and he doesn't even know what he has!"
"Jealous, Rodney?" Carson's warm Scottish burr rolled through the words.
"I am not jealous." Rodney stated, his face turning an alarming shade of red.
"I can understand why," Carson continued, happily needling his friend, "his gene is the purest expression that we've come across yet."
"Oh, please. That doesn't mean that he's more advanced than the rest of us!" Rodney argued.
Carson's lips twitched in amusement. "I don't believe I said that he was more advanced, Rodney. That's your conclusion, although," his expression grew thoughtful, "perhaps genetically as he is closer to the Ancients than the rest of us, he may have some advantages that we have yet to assess."
Elizabeth's thoughts immediately went to her own topic of interest. "Do you think he could be a candidate for Ascension?"
Rodney rolled his eyes.
"I think I don't know enough about Ascension to comment." Carson replied. "I doubt it though. His physiology exam showed that Major Sheppard is just as human as you or I."
"Aha!" Rodney pointed at him. "See! Human. Why would I be jealous? Hmmm?"
"On the other hand," Carson stressed ignoring Rodney's outburst, "his gene may give him a head start."
Elizabeth grimaced, aware that the jealousy that had clearly suffused Rodney was now tugging at her. She was grateful when the door opened and a harried Daniel walked in apologising for his tardiness.
So, she didn't have the Ancient gene and thus didn't have the head start John Sheppard may or may not have with Ascension. It still didn't mean she couldn't try for it herself. She called the meeting to order; they had an expedition to a Lost City to plan.
They sit at the table and look at the food suspiciously.
Elizabeth ignores them and stands up. "We are gathered to give thanks and to celebrate our new beginning. Enjoy." She gestures at the food as she sits down.
Uric, a grumpy older man who reminds her of Rodney, picks up a bowl of the slightly burned scrambled eggs Elizabeth has managed to make. "I'm not sure I understand why we must do this."
"Eating has many purposes," Elizabeth instructs gently, "nourishment for energy is only one; taking enjoyment from the taste is another. But importantly, sitting together as a…as a family over a meal allows us to bond and get to know each other. Looking after our garden, raising our animals for meat, milk and eggs will foster a sense of our community."
"I think it is a good idea," Carol declares and bravely takes a bite of the eggs.
Elizabeth relaxes as the others follow her example and talk turns to farming.
Atlantis was breath-taking.
Elizabeth rested her arms on the metal balcony and looked out at the numerous towers and spires; the vast expanse of the city laid out all around her. She breathed in the familiar scent of ocean, tasted the tang of salt on her lips. She let her gaze skip out to the waves in the distance. She let the city fill up her senses and soothe her thoughts.
She'd played host to an Ascended being.
An actual Ascended being.
And she'd blown it.
Elizabeth looked down at her hands and stared at the familiar lines and creases. She hadn't known Chaya was an Ascended being; she'd thought the kind but slightly arrogant woman was a priestess, a representative of a world that might offer them sanctuary from the Wraith if they could negotiate an alliance.
In the end it had been a mess: Rodney's suspicions that Chaya was hiding something leading them to examine her covertly only for her to know they were examining her and for her to admit she'd never had any intention of an alliance beyond a personal one with John. Irritation sparked again at John's action in going after Chaya when she'd shifted into her Ascended form and gone back to her planet. John had apologised when he'd returned and Elizabeth had accepted because the expedition's safety in the Pegasus galaxy was already too precarious to risk with a schism between the two of them.
But John apparently did have a head start on becoming Ascended since he had an Ascended being follow him home, intuitively recognising some kind of racial similarity with him.
Jealousy rolled through her; a childish want to have had Chaya want to be her friend and not John's. Weren't Elizabeth's beliefs more in line with the Ancients' than John's? Wasn't she more admiring of the Ancients than him?
God. She sounded as whiny as Rodney, Elizabeth thought annoyed with herself. It wasn't John's fault that Chaya had connected with him. It was just a shame that they couldn't speak again with Chaya – John had been very clear that a return visit wasn't an option.
But, mused Elizabeth, they had found one Ascended being in the Pegasus galaxy which was a good indicator that they might find others. And, maybe, just maybe, the next Ascended being would connect with her.
Elizabeth hoists the basket of apples onto her hip and heads back through the orchards towards the settlement. Her eyes catch on Carol hiding behind a tree and she sneaks up on her friend with glee, poking her in her side and making her squeak.
Carol hushes Elizabeth before she can say anything and points towards the pond.
Jennith and Kerr sit on the embankment, their faces alight with laughter and joy. For a moment they pause before Kerr closes the distance between them and kisses Jennith lightly.
Carol nudges Elizabeth and they leave the new lovers alone.
Romance between Replicators; Elizabeth goggles at the thought as they make their way through the trees. She wonders what that means for their Ascension journey.
"If you don't mind my asking, at the Ancient sanctuary, just how close were you to Ascension, Colonel?" Carson's question rang out across the briefing room table as the senior staff gathered for their usual morning meeting.
John gave a shrug. He'd shaved the beard off and looked more like himself since his rescue a few days before. She'd given him the time to adjust since he had no memory of memos and reports he'd received the day of the mission, and only vague recollections of decisions he'd made or was scheduled to make. His disconnect between the months he'd spent locked up in the sanctuary and the mere hours that had passed for the rest of them was huge. She could tell he still wasn't comfortable, his body language stiffer than his normal slouch, and he seemed uneasy in his usual uniform of black BDUs.
Elizabeth couldn't deny she was eagerly awaiting his answer. He'd hardly provided any details of his time in the sanctuary beyond his dismissive remark that it had sucked. But he had also commented that the sanctuary made sense if someone was looking for Ascension since between shutting out the rest of the universe and the rustic nature of life, the opportunity for naval-gazing was infinite.
"Oh God, we're not discussing how Ascended chicks are insanely attracted to Sheppard again, are we?" Rodney demanded as he slumped into the chair next to John.
"No," John agreed dryly, "we are definitely not discussing that. I believe the opening item on the agenda is the upcoming mission." He turned to Elizabeth expectantly and she started the meeting.
As soon as the discussions ended, Elizabeth held John back with a brief touch on his arm as the rest of his team and Carson left. He looked at inquisitively.
"You know you didn't answer Carson earlier." Elizabeth hinted.
His expression closed up. "Does it matter?" He asked roughly.
Elizabeth tried a smile to lighten the moment. "I guess I'm curious. The one who spoke to us made it sound as though you could have easily joined them."
John grimaced, a brief twist of his features before they settled into determined lines. "Don't worry, Elizabeth, Ascension isn't something I'd ever choose." He walked out before she could say anything more.
It was only thinking about his answer later that she realised he'd never said he couldn't Ascend if he'd wanted to.
The children stampede past her and Elizabeth shakes her head as she closes the door on the schoolroom they have constructed.
Children. Artificially created but children nevertheless. She used to debate if it was a good idea but as Jennith hugs her daughter, Joy, and Lila kisses the top of her son's head, she knows that it was.
She's almost at her cabin when she hears a loud crack and a scream. She runs towards the disturbance and freezes at the tableau.
A tree in the process of falling hovers over Joy who is sprawled on the ground. Carol stands some distance away, her hand outstretched and a look of shock and astonishment on her face as Jennith scrambles to rescue her daughter and pull her to safety before Carol releases the tree.
Elizabeth runs and hugs her friend. She beams at her. "You're the first of us to gain new powers!"
Carol smiles shakily as everyone hurries to congratulate her on the telekinesis, hope stirring in all their hearts. They are following the path to Ascension and this is the first real sign they are making progress.
"Ma'am?" Major Lorne's quiet word had Elizabeth flushing with embarrassment as she stepped away from the door to the lab housing the Ascension machine that had almost killed Rodney.
"Major." Elizabeth hoped the night lighting was dim enough to hide her red face. "I was just…"
"Checking our security?" Lorne offered with a brief nod. "I thought so when I got the call. Colonel Sheppard did the same thing earlier. Can I escort you back to your quarters?"
It wasn't a request even though she was the expedition leader, Elizabeth realised with some rueful amusement. "Thank you."
They set off back down the corridor.
Elizabeth cleared her throat a little self-consciously. "I didn't realise there was a watch on the door." It was something she should have been briefed on.
"Doctor Zelenka thought it was prudent since the machine can give people super-powers." Lorne said with a quiet undertone of good humour. "Personally, I think he was worried Doctor McKay would have another go trying to understand the math he did when he got zapped the first time."
"Ah." Elizabeth said. She caught his speculative glance and fought the urge to blush again. "I wasn't after super-powers." She said defensively.
"Of course not, ma'am." Lorne replied evenly.
Elizabeth sighed as they entered the transporter. "Ascension is something I research in my spare time." She turned to look at him briefly and caught the flicker of surprise that drifted over his features. "Rodney actually could have Ascended so I thought I might access information about the machine to better understand why it kick-starts the process. Is it just physiological or is there a metaphysical aspect to it? If we understood more…"
"Sounds like a fascinating research project, ma'am." Lorne agreed politely.
"You're not interested in Ascension, Major?" Elizabeth asked as they exited into the living quarters. Her room was just around the corner.
"I joined the SGC the year Doctor Jackson was Ascended," Lorne replied, "and the one thing that was clear to me was that it still felt like he died to everybody he left behind."
They paused outside of her door.
"So you don't approve?" Elizabeth delved, a little disappointed at Lorne's answer.
"It's not for me to approve or disapprove," Lorne countered, "Ascension is almost a religion in this galaxy and I like to think that I'm respectful to everyone's beliefs but it wouldn't be my choice."
Or John's, Elizabeth remembered. She wondered if it was a military thing. She nodded an acknowledgement of Lorne's sincerity. "Thank you for your honesty, Major."
"Ma'am," Lorne said as Elizabeth waved her hand at the lock, "Daniel Jackson once told me that Oma Desala said to him that if you immediately knew that the candle-light was fire, the meal was cooked long ago. Now I think the point he was trying to make at the time was that sometimes it's not the destination that's important; it's the journey."
Elizabeth frowned as she assimilated his meaning; the machine was a short-cut but not a true path to Ascension. "Major," she said before he could turn away, "I don't like to ask but could we, uh, keep this evening's events between ourselves?"
Lorne smiled, easy and warm. "Will do, ma'am." He waited until she stepped into her quarters before he left.
The door slid shut in his wake and Elizabeth rubbed the back of her neck tiredly, feeling a new rush of chagrin for attempting to see the machine – she really hadn't thought about using it. Maybe the machine was a cheat though. She would achieve Ascension on her own merits, Elizabeth decided, and make the journey.
"Order!" Carol yells from the head of the table. "There will be order!" She turns to Elizabeth. "You wished to speak against this plan for Ascension by machine?"
Elizabeth stands up, smoothes the front of her tunic and tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I know it has been many decades since our arrival here but we are making progress on our journey. How many of you now have powers that the Ancients had? How many of you are close to taking that final step?"
She looks out at the assembly; the people who have come to be a family to her as much as she had once considered John and Rodney and everyone in Atlantis to be.
"This machine might Ascend us; it might not. But I would rather not take a short-cut and find that I'm not really ready as an ex-Ascended friend of mine did. I would rather not cheat my way there but know that I took every step of the journey truthfully. Those of us who came here committed ourselves to the journey. Today I ask everyone here to recommit to that promise. Let us enjoy the journey no matter how long it may take."
There's a moment of silence before everyone erupts into applause.
The stasis field disappeared and Elizabeth fell forward. Someone caught her; she looked up gratefully and froze.
Niam. The Replicator that had helped them escape and save Atlantis when they had first met the Ancient Replicators. They'd had to push him out of the puddle-jumper when he'd attacked her; they had destroyed him completely during another skirmish.
It all came rushing back to her: the Replicator attack on Atlantis, waking up with replicator nanites keeping her alive, the raid on the Replicator homeworld, taking control of the Replicators momentarily to give John, Ronon and Rodney time to escape…
In retaliation Oberoth had been brutal in his attack on her mind but somehow she had protected herself, she had no idea how. And then everything had paused and when everything resumed Oberoth had ordered her taken to a stasis chamber. How long had she been there?
She looked at Niam in confusion. "Niam…"
"I have much to tell you, Doctor Weir, but you must come with me now." Niam insisted. He hurried her out of the chamber and she struggled to keep up with him as he led her to a puddle-jumper filled with other Replicators.
Niam took the pilot's chair, pushing her into the passenger seat. They cloaked before taking off from the surface of the Replicator's city. So like Atlantis and yet so fundamentally different, her heart ached at the sight of it. It was under attack – that much was clear as they made it into orbit and saw an armada of ships surrounding the planet. Was that the Daedalus leaving? Her heart pounded – she was so close to her people…
Elizabeth craned to look but the puddle-jumper went into hyperspace.
"The Replicators have had hyperspace capability in the gateships for many years," Niam informed her, reading her question straight from her nanites. He took the puddle-jumper out of hyperspace and brought it to a stand-still. "You have many questions. Let us try to explain."
A woman stepped into the forward compartment; a young brunette with a shy smile and warm dark eyes. "When Oberoth was unable to break you, he took some of your nanites and made a Replicator version of you. She was approached by other members of our group to help them achieve Ascension. She led a rebellion against Oberoth and escaped."
"You didn't join them?" Elizabeth turned to Niam.
"The other version of you believed she was you but we were aware of your existence." Niam said. "We believe only you can truly lead us to Ascension."
"How did you survive?" Elizabeth asked, trying to make sense of everything.
"When one version of us is destroyed, we are immediately reproduced again by the central core." Niam explained. "When Doctor McKay made the initial changes to our base code, I prudently backed-up my new template to the core. When I emerged I realised what had happened and disconnected myself from the collective updates. I helped some of my fellow Replicators make the same changes." He nodded at the dozen Replicators with them.
"And now?" Elizabeth asked pointedly.
Niam met her eyes determinedly. "Your people believe you died. What you saw when we left was their attack on Oberoth and his Replicators to eliminate them."
"They have been successful." Another woman, older with blonde hair, said. "We can no longer access any of our brethren."
"We want you to help us Ascend." Niam said.
Elizabeth considered their eager and hopeful faces.
A part of her, a very large part of her, wanted to refuse and demand to be returned to Atlantis but… she was a threat to Atlantis because of the nanites she carried – would they welcome her? Or fear her? She was scared returning wasn't really an option.
On the other hand, what did she know about Ascension that would help the Replicators Ascend? She had barely scratched the surface in her own studies, barely comprehended what she was trying to achieve. But, she mused, hadn't she committed herself to the journey? Wasn't this something she had always wanted to do?
Could she do it? Could she leave her friends and family behind? If her friends and family truly did believe her dead…wasn't it better that she left them alone? Grief and loss rushed through her at the thought of never seeing her mother again or John, Rodney, Teyla, Ronon – so many others. But hadn't she made her decision when she'd told John to go? Hadn't she assumed her death would follow?
Elizabeth warred briefly with herself with the decision she knew deep down she had already made. She hardened her resolve and turned to her new friends.
"I can't promise you Ascension," Elizabeth began hesitantly, "but I am willing to make the journey with you if you are willing to make the effort."
Niam smiled widely. "We are."
The blonde woman grinned back at her. "So where to first on our journey?"
Elizabeth thought for a long moment and smiled. "I think I know of the perfect place."
She's the only one left.
Carol had been the first, unsurprisingly to Elizabeth as her friend had always been the most committed to Ascension and the most open to travelling a new and different path. But the last of her family have Ascended now and she is alone for the first time in the sanctuary.
Elizabeth sits watching the sunrise with an aching heart. Her hair is white, her skin lined with wrinkles and mottled with age. The nanites have slowed her aging but haven't been able to stop it completely. When she catches sight of herself in the mirror, she thinks for a moment that she sees the Elizabeth who travelled through time and stayed in stasis thousands of years to save the expedition.
She will never take the final step of the journey. She knows what she needs to do but her unfinished business lies outside of the sanctuary and as she cannot leave…
Perhaps someone else will come and she will be able to teach them before she dies. She has accepted her fate.
A presence settles beside her and she turns to see Niam, glowing with the inner energy of an Ascended being.
"We have asked and been granted a boon by the Others," Niam says, holding out his hand, "the barrier will remain open until you leave."
"But…" Elizabeth begins.
Carol is suddenly there on her other side. "You gave us the gift of our journeys, Elizabeth. Now we give the gift of completing yours to you."
When Elizabeth turns around, they're all gathered – Jennith, Kerr, Joy – all of them; the original band of travellers and their children in their Ascended forms. All there to give her this gift.
It takes her almost the whole day to walk back to the barrier; to walk through it and find the puddle-jumper where they left it. She dials Atlantis nervously and opens a communication channel. "Atlantis, this is Elizabeth Weir…"
She had talked for hours with her old friends once they'd recovered her from the planet and once Carson had examined her to his satisfaction. They'd gathered around her infirmary bed and exchanged stories – of tales of how they'd believed she'd died, of the doubles of her that they'd met and dealt with, of fights and battles that had been fought without her at their side.
And Elizabeth had told them of her journey, of being rescued, of the sanctuary and the success of the Replicators in Ascending, of how she has come to say goodbye to them before she leaves them again for good.
"Well, this sucks," Rodney declared huffily after she explained, "I mean, it's less sucky than last time but still…"
"Sucky." John offered, hands in his pants' pockets, rocking back on his heels, beside his friend.
Elizabeth smiled at the sight of the two of them interacting; their odd friendship seemed to have only grown stronger in her absence. "I've missed you both so much."
They look suitably embarrassed by her fond declaration.
Torren pulls at Teyla's hair and she rose to her feet with the same grace that Elizabeth had envied every day during her time in Atlantis with her Athosian friend. "I must put my son to bed," Teyla said, "and so I must say goodbye to you."
Elizabeth could tell Teyla wanted to reach out a hand to her, but they won't touch her; they won't take the chance of being infected with the nanites she carried. "You have a beautiful child, Teyla. It has been good to see you again."
"Blessings on your journey, Elizabeth." Teyla said quietly and left without further fanfare.
Ronon unfolded from his stance leading against the far wall. "Amelia's expecting me for dinner so…"
"I'm glad you settled here, Ronon." Elizabeth said. And she was; despite John's unequivocal acceptance of the Satedan warrior, Ronon had been so uncertain of his place the last time she'd seen him. But the lingering doubts she had sensed then were no longer in evidence, only an assuredness that he was home.
"Blessings on your journey, Elizabeth." Ronon repeated Teyla's words; he tapped the end of the bed and departed.
Which left Elizabeth with the three men who had accompanied her from Earth, although she still couldn't get over Carson being alive albeit a clone.
"Carson, would it be possible to get some fresh air?" Elizabeth asked.
They all looked at John who glanced at the security detail by the door that they had all ignored and shrugged. "Why not?"
They wheeled her onto her favourite balcony.
The sun was beginning to set, the sky turning from a clear blue to a perfect lilac. Elizabeth breathed in the sea air and sought out the sounds of the waves crashing against the piers in the distance.
Carson tucked her blanket closer and stepped back. "I'll leave you to it then. Take care, Elizabeth."
"And you, Carson." Elizabeth said warmly. She watched him walk away.
Rodney took his place beside her. "You made his day accepting him straight away." He preened a little. "I knew you would."
"Who am I to judge?"
"About that…" Rodney began hesitantly before he stopped and tapped his earpiece suddenly. He rolled his eyes. "Fine. I'll be along in a moment. McKay out." He turned to Elizabeth. "Woolsey," he explained succinctly. "Elizabeth, I just…"
His hand reached out towards hers and she wished so much that she could offer him the comfort of touch.
"I forgive you." Elizabeth said strongly. "You did what you thought best when you activated my nanites, Rodney, and I don't regret that you did. I've had a wonderful and long life. I can only wish the same for you."
His gaze darted to John momentarily and Elizabeth saw John's small nod, his agreement with her words; his forgiveness given as easily as her own, and probably if she knew John, long ago.
"Well," Rodney said, a little thickly.
"You'd better go before Richard gets antsy." John suggested kindly.
Rodney nodded and gave Elizabeth a small wave. "So, this is it." He reached out again but touched the arm of the wheelchair. "You should know that we love you."
She smiled at him brightly, remembering how she had said the same thing to him as he had striven for Ascension to save his life. "I love you too, Rodney."
Rodney darted another look at John and hurried away.
"Alone at last," John joked, leaning against the balcony.
"Alone?" queried Elizabeth, glancing back at the security guards behind them.
He made some hand signal at them and they disappeared to the other side of the glass doors giving them privacy.
"I can't believe Rodney's engaged." Elizabeth commented idly.
"I don't think any of us can." John said candidly. "But Jennifer confirmed she said yes so…" he shrugged.
"Her staying on Earth when you returned to Pegasus…it must be hard for him." Elizabeth said, recalling Rodney's explanation of what had happened to the young medic who had briefly been in charge of the Atlantis medical staff.
"Long distance relationships are always hard." John said.
Elizabeth wondered if he was talking from past experience or if he had someone himself. She ran her eyes over him; there was grey in among the messy dark hair, more lines around his eyes and mouth, more tension in his carriage and stance. His responsibilities had only grown with each passing year; she wondered whether they would ever make him the expedition leader – if he ever would want to be.
And beyond that, Elizabeth could finally sense what Chaya and Teer had done…John's Ancient genetics that gave him a familiar inner glow that no ordinary human would ever see. It was no wonder they'd fallen for him.
She pushed out of the wheelchair and waved John off as he made to help her. "I'm old not helpless." She took an unsteady step towards the metal balcony and rested against it with a relieved sigh.
"Do you think there are more of you out there?" John asked quietly.
Elizabeth sighed. "I don't know. Niam claimed the replication unit that would automatically produce another copy was destroyed when you destroyed the homeworld but it might be possible if my Replicator version and the Replicators that were with her set up something similar…although from what you've told me of them, it seems unlikely. I just don't know."
John shifted position, turning away from her to stare out into the horizon where the sun was slowly sinking into the silvery ocean. "I'm not sure how many times I can say goodbye to you, Elizabeth."
"I'm sorry." Elizabeth said sincerely, because she was sorry she was causing him pain in saying her goodbye; the goodbye she needed to say to complete her journey.
"Don't be," John hastened to comfort her, "it's just like Rodney said," he gestured at her, "better than last time."
"But still sucky." Elizabeth responded lightly.
John gave a huff of laughter.
Elizabeth watched the sky bleeding from lilac into darker tones of indigo before she spoke again. "You could come with me; Ascend." She finally knew how close he was just how much his superior Ancient gene gave him a head start. "I can't believe you've known how all this time…" She murmured, her advanced gift allowing her to see when he'd discovered it; Chaya showing him her journey when they shared their souls.
"You wouldn't have succeeded if I'd told you how." John replied defensively. "Did Rodney tell you what he was thinking about when he finally achieved the mental state he needed? It wasn't clear blue skies, it was…"
"Debating with himself over an issue of ego in nothingness." Elizabeth remembered.
"And in that moment, he truly was himself." John said firmly. "Argumentative and caught up in solving a problem."
Elizabeth smiled, recognising the truth of it. "Everybody has to travel their own journey."
John nodded. "I'm not ready. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready." He placed his hand next to hers on the balcony; as close as he could get without touching her. "But you are."
And she was. Her hand was already glowing…it was time.
Elizabeth turned to look at him; his steady confident gaze filled hers, warm with affection for her and the surge of her answering affection for him mingled with a rush of heat as her body was suffused with light. "Goodbye, John."
Her body shifts and as she feels her mortal bonds fall away. She is energy and the universe is there at her fingertips and she can feel the sun that is fading to night and the waves that crash against the Ancient city beneath her…
And as she travels towards the stars, she hears John's whisper of farewell.
"Safe journey, Elizabeth."