Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate or any of the characters.
Author's Note: After recently rewatching Enemy at the Gate and buying the Legacy series though I haven't yet read them I decided to do a fic where Sheppard sacrifices himself on the hive ship and his brother's reaction to it. Mostly that was inspired by reading fics featuring Sheppard and his family. I decided to have O'Neill do the telling the family thing because although he's a high-ranking general, he kinda owes Sheppard a few and I assume at least has a lot of respect for him especially since they are so similar in many ways. Even Weir pointed out the similarities in their records in Rising and would be the most sympathetic military person to report Sheppard's death outside of the Atlantis chain of command. Carter could do it but I just like O'Neill better. He and Daniel were my favorite SG-1 characters. I know McKay would probably want to do the telling of the family like he did with Carson, but Sheppard is military and Carson was not. Oh and there is such a thing as a posthumous promotion, I looked it up. It was common in Vietnam and less common now but it still exists and I think Sheppard deserves it. George Washington himself got a posthumous promotion in the 70s I think. Actually if the show had continued I was hoping to see another promotion. The Medal of Honor is kinda self-explanatory. Please review even if it's bad. My last story people read but I didn't get one review. Sorry if there's not much team in here, I'm just not focusing on them and I'm not so good a writer that I'm able to write so many heavily established characters well I think so I'm not even going to try. There's a reason that I've written so few stories and besides my last one shot, all were abandoned years ago. For the record, this is a one-shot too. Some of the dialogue at the beginning is taken from Enemy at the Gate which is why it looks familiar. I used the transcript on one of the Stargate sites for the dialogue. Oh and the bit about Charlie and O'Neill having a fight about his gun comes from The Devil You Know when Apophis uses that drug on him and uses Charlie's form to try to get information from O'Neill. Apophis/Charlie said that in reality they fought about the gun and he died soon after.
Sacrifice and Family
On the hive ship, Colonel John Sheppard, Major Evan Lorne, Ronon Dex and Teyla Emmagan provided covering fire for Doctor Rodney McKay as he recalibrated the DHD of the hive ship's Stargate to dial Milky Way planets so they could escape before detonating a nuclear weapon to destroy the hive ship. Though the Wraith attacked in small numbers, they just kept coming and the team would eventually be overrun.
"How's it coming Rodney?" yells Sheppard as he and the others continue to cover the scientist.
"I've got it! Dialing the Alpha Site now," yelled Rodney back and he quickly began dialing Earth's primary off-world base in the Milky Way galaxy.
"Alright, let's move," orders Sheppard and all but Rodney and Sheppard quickly move through the Stargate. However, as Sheppard prepares to take the detonator from Rodney, he notices that the scientist hesitates.
"Come on! Give me the detonator and get out of here!"
"Go, I'll set the timer and be right behind you," Rodney states but has a nervous look on his face which Sheppard notices.
"What is it, what's wrong?"
"Fine," begins Rodney. "I didn't want to tell you but when your 302 was damaged in the firefight with the Darts, the nuke took some damage too. It can still be detonated by remote, but the timer is broken."
Realization sweeps over Sheppard. "Meaning someone has to stay and detonate the nuke."
"Yeah, I didn't want to say anything, I was going to stay and do it myself. I know, out of character, but we have no choice: Atlantis doesn't stand a chance against this ship and Jennifer is there and my sister and her family are on Earth." Off Sheppard's shocked look. "Guess I've been spending too much time around you and your self-sacrificing ways."
"I can't just let you sacrifice yourself, we still need you!"
"Well who's gonna do it then? You?" Rodney sees Sheppard's determined look. "Oh no, Atlantis needs you too. You're too important to lose. Well so am I but that's beside the point."
Before the two could argue further, a message came over their radios from Colonel Samantha Carter. "Sheppard, if you're still there, you need to detonate that nuke now! Atlantis is in serious trouble and will be destroyed if that hive ship is taken out now!"
Making his decision, Sheppard grabs the detonator from McKay and shoves him through the Stargate before he can react. "Detonating now, Colonel. And Colonel… thanks, for everything." With that, Sheppard detonated the nuke, destroying the hive ship and saving Atlantis as its shields were about to collapse. However, while Earth and Atlantis was saved, Sheppard's team and men were left to mourn his passing though his willingness to sacrifice himself surprised no one given the previous near-suicide missions he had undertaken to protect those he cared about and even those he didn't know.
A few days later, Dave Sheppard was worried as he hadn't gotten any messages from his brother John in awhile. Ever since their tentative reconciliation after their father's funeral, the two would send each other emails every month. While Dave was still frustrated at John's inability to share with him what he was doing, he had decided to put that aside in favor of a relationship with his brother. Despite Dave sending him a message this month, he hadn't received any back from John yet though he wasn't too worried as he knew from what John had told him, there might be times when he would be unable to reply for awhile depending on the situation he was in.
As Dave was about to get back to work on paperwork from Sheppard Industries, there was a knock at the door. Looking out the window, Dave was gripped with dread as he saw what were clearly Air Force officials which he knew could only mean bad things. With a bad feeling in his stomach, Dave answered the door where a tall man with grey hair and the rank pins denoting a Lieutenant General stood.
"Good evening Mr. Sheppard. I'm General Jack O'Neill, can I come in," asked the Air Force general.
Terror now gripping his heart though he worked hard not to show it, Dave let General O'Neill in and led him to the living room.
Taking a seat, General O'Neill began. "Normally I wouldn't be the one to do this, but out of respect for your brother I asked to be the one to let you know…"
"He's dead isn't he," interrupted Dave.
General O'Neill sighed. "Yes, I'm afraid Colonel Sheppard lost his life a few days ago. I wanted to be the one to let you know as I've been in the situation he was in many times and nearly had to make the same choice. I always survived, but your brother was in a situation where it was sacrifice himself or let a lot of good people die. Colonel Sheppard would never let innocent people die when he had another choice and he sacrificed himself to ensure their safety."
"You say you're here out of respect for John, yet you don't seem to care beyond the fact that he sacrificed himself! He was my little brother and his "noble sacrifice" doesn't help me! He was my brother and I don't even know how or why he died because its "classified"!" Dave's voice broke on the last sentence as the full impact of everything hit him. He and John had had a strained relationship for most of their adult lives, but were very close when they were young. They had been attempting to repair that relationship and had made some progress, but now they were never going to get the chance to finish what they had started. Worse, John was all the family he had left: both of their parents and their parents families were dead. They had some distant cousins, but none they had seen in a long time and were never close to them. Dave was always so busy with Sheppard Industries that he didn't have time for a social life and a family of his own.
General O'Neill sighed. "Actually, I do care that your brother is dead. And it's not just because he sacrificed himself serving his country or anything like that. I held a great respect for Colonel Sheppard. He saved my life twice, once with his superb piloting and another by risking his life and career on a mission against orders where he rescued me when I didn't expect any sort of rescue. I know that your frustrated by my inability to tell you more so I got you clearance to find out." Off Dave's shocked look O'Neill explained "Like I said, I owe your brother a few and the least I can do is tell you what I can. The Colonel's team told me how he was frustrated too that he could never tell you what he was up to and after what he did, I don't think telling you is too much to ask if you can keep quiet about what I tell you."
After Dave signs a non-disclosure agreement, General O'Neill finally explains everything about his brother's life that Dave had wondered. How John had ruined his career by going against orders to rescue a downed friend but losing that friend along the way. How though John was not kicked out of the Air Force, this caused him to be reassigned to McMurdo in Antarctica with no possibility of promotion or a better posting. How this led to him flying the general himself to a secret research base where an alien weapon had nearly shot them down but John's skills kept them alive. How as a result, the general personally gave John clearance to know about what was going on at the base though he was originally supposed to know nothing and wait outside and how this led to the revelation that John had some gene that allowed him to control alien technology. At that point, General O'Neill had to spend some time explaining the Stargate, Atlantis, the Ancients and expeditions to other galaxies which Dave had a hard time grasping. The general then explained how John's immediate aptitude with Ancient technology had attracted the attention of the expedition's commander, Doctor Elizabeth Weir who, despite John's record, wanted him for her expedition and how the general himself had helped convince John to go. General O'Neill explained that they lost contact with Atlantis for nearly a year and after receiving a message from them, sent reinforcements to discover them in a dire situation which led to an explanation on the Wraith, life-sucking aliens who were the scourge of the Pegasus galaxy. After the situation was resolved, the senior staff of Atlantis returned and among them was John who had assumed command of the military contingent of Atlantis after the previous commander, Colonel Marshall Sumner had died in the first few days after their arrival. O'Neill explained how though several high-ranking Air Force officers didn't feel John was fit for the position due to his record, Doctor Weir fought for him and not only secured his position with the help of the President and O'Neill, but got him promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and effectively put his career back on track. Dave was shocked when O'Neill told him of the reason for his brother's promotion and was proud of how he had earned himself a command. O'Neill continued to explain, glossing over the next year until he got to the Replicators and the point where John had saved his life yet again.
"You see, during an experiment in the void between galaxies, the Daedalus found living Ancients. Unfortunatly, while we rescued them, they were ungrateful and kicked the expedition out of the city. I, along with Richard Woolsey was allowed to stay to continue negotiations with the Ancients, but we came under attack by the Replicators. Woolsey and I managed to escape, but the Ancients were slaughtered. However, I knew we were screwed as I had left standing orders that Atlantis be destroyed if we lost control of the city and the brass wouldn't risk a rescue mission. Your brother though wouldn't let that stand. He rallied his team, Elizabeth Weir and the expedition's doctor Carson Beckett and defying direct orders, they came to Atlantis to try to retake it despite overwhelming force. They succeeded in the end and I kept them from getting into trouble and allowed them to return to Atlantis. It was the least I could do after they rescued Woolsey and I."
O'Neill continued on, explaining about how the expedition lost Doctor Weir to the Replicators, getting her back a year later only to lose her again permanently and how badly it affected John. Going by the way O'Neill described Weir and John's relationship, Dave could tell that there was something there more than friendship but was never acted on. O'Neill explained how Colonel Samantha Carter, a former member of his own Stargate team had then taken command of Atlantis through the war with the Replicators and the human-Wraith hybrid Michael only to be relieved of command once those enemies were defeated. O'Neill explained how Richard Woolsey then took command and surprisingly proved to be a good leader and not a puppet of the International Oversight Advisory as O'Neill had suspected when he was put in the position and how it led to where they were today.
"John and his team learned of a powerful ship, one that was more powerful than anything we had faced before from their ally Todd. This ship defied all attempts by our own ships to destroy it and headed to Earth. While Atlantis prepared to make its way here to Earth to try to stop it, I ordered Colonel Sheppard home to work our defenses as he is the best at using Ancient technology. Your brother decided not to wait however and tried to launch a first strike on the ship with nuclear weapons before it could attack. His flight of fighters, except his own, was destroyed attempting to protect our defense weapons, but the Colonel didn't give up. He decided that even though it was a suicide mission, he would fly his fighter into the enemy ship and sacrifice himself to destroy it with his weapon. For a time it looked like he would be able to escape with the help of his team who had managed to sneak aboard the ship and thanks to Atlantis buying him time, but Doctor McKay had kept secret that the nuke's timer was damaged in the earlier firefight and someone would have to stay behind to detonate it. Colonel Sheppard refused to let anyone else sacrifice themselves and forced McKay through the Stargate and sacrificed himself to blow up the ship." O'Neill sighed. "He sacrificed himself to save billions of lives and if he hadn't acted, we probably wouldn't be here to have this conversation now as Atlantis was losing and wouldn't have survived much longer and with that gone, we would've lost our last line of defense."
"That's not much consolation for me."
"I know, but it's true. Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard will be getting the Medal of Honor for his actions and a posthumous promotion to the rank of Colonel. I know it's not enough by far, but at least he will be honored for his actions. The people in the know will make sure he's never forgotten and his team will make sure our allies in Pegasus know of what he did. If that hive ship hadn't been destroyed and had stayed in or returned to Pegasus, it would've been able to destroy anyone who opposed it and would've been the biggest threat that galaxy ever faced. It was the biggest Wraith threat we ever faced for sure. You're not the only one mourning your brother's death: everyone in Atlantis, hell everyone who ever knew him is. Even the Wraith Todd is mourning Colonel Sheppard's death. Apparently, despite their fractious relationship, Todd had a lot of respect for him seeing him as both a worthy adversary and ally. We hope we can use this to get more cooperation from him in the future so that the Colonel's death will have even more meaning and impact."
"Thank you for letting me know this. It helps a bit to know how and why John died and even what he'd been doing the past few years. I wish Dad was here. He and John had always had a bad relationship, but he would've been proud of John if he knew what he did and wasn't just some glorified delivery boy as he'd thought."
"Part of the reason I did this was I understand how important the bond between family can be. I'd heard from John's team how before last year he'd told them he had no family left on Earth to come back to and then started mentioning a brother. Though the Colonel didn't know it, Ronon told the rest of the team what he'd learned during their visit here for your father's wake." As Dave watches, General O'Neill pauses for a moment than seems to decide something. "I had a son once. I lost him in an accident and its haunted me ever since. I was nearly suicidal before I first went through the Stargate and ignored my wife in my grief and ultimately lost her as a result. I've learned the hard way that when you have family, no matter your differences you need to love each other no matter what and support each other. Before my son died, we had a fight because he found my service pistol and he died before we could make up. That's always haunted me even after I forgave myself for Charlie's death."
"I know Dad regretted for a long time his and John's last fight but they never got to make up before he died. At least… at least John and I repaired our relationship and he didn't die believing I hated him like he and Dad thought the other did." Wanting to be alone with his grief, Dave then asked General O'Neill to leave.
As he left, General O'Neill turned back to Dave. "I truly am sorry for your loss. I hope telling you about your brother gives you a measure of closure. As his only family, we would like you to collect the Colonel's Medal of Honor in his place at the ceremony though I'd understand if that's too hard for you."
Dave thanked the general and promised to attend the ceremony in John's honor then settled down with a glass of whiskey to try to drown his sorrow. As he went over what the general had told him about John and his life on Atlantis, he began to understand just how many lives his brother had touched and how he wasn't the only one who would mourn his death. Dave was also proud of how his brother went out, saving lives as he loved to do.