Summary: Three things that never happened to Sojourner.
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Character: John Sheppard
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to the SciFi channel and the original writers, not me.
Original story: Mnemonic, or Four Ways John Sheppard Didn't Lose His Mind, part 1, by cupidsbow
Mnemonic (One Man Army Mix)
The facility was built late in the war with the Wraith; its safety measures are phenomenal, and their state of repair after lying dormant for so long is even more impressive. The security recording systems, in particular, are detailed enough to show a complete reconstruction of the chain of events that his own memory has been unable to provide.
He entered the facility first. The sensors registered him as Alteran/human, an unfamiliar combination but not something that the computers were programmed to respond to by activating the interior defenses. The next two sensor readings were human/Alteran and pure human, still no cause for alarm. The fourth was human/Wraith.
The shield generator that automatically attempted to contain the threat was the only part of the network that malfunctioned. The explosion, even viewed through a camera lens focused in the wrong direction, was spectacular. The flying dive he could see himself taking in the corner of the frame – headfirst into a cascade of falling rubble – was equally impressive.
It's no wonder that he can't actually remember any of the things he's seen on the screens.
His teammates, only a few steps inside the entrance when the explosion occurred, were thrown clear and their way back in was blocked by the same pile of debris that had half-buried him on the other side. The sensors were precise enough to provide medical data: he had a concussion, a cracked skull, three broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a compound leg fracture. Even if the others had been able to dig him out he would have died long before they could carry him to the Stargate.
For all its sophistication, the automated security network paled next to the automated medical systems. After all, the facility had originally been built to create a biologically enhanced fighter capable of standing up to the Wraith. Its workmanship was phenomenal.
The Fenaiens gifted him his name after he rescued two of their hunting parties from a culling and refused any more recompense than a seat at the impromptu feast that followed their return. They offered him much more – practically everything short of the chieftain's daughter, and he's not entirely sure that she would have been exempt if she'd still been unmarried – but he managed to decline it without being too insulting. (He's very grateful that the girl was married.) Instead they threw the most heartfelt party he's ever seen and gave him a name: Sojourner.
No one had invoked it in living memory, but going on sojourn was a custom that the Fenaiens had recognized for generations. Half spirit quest, half suicide attempt, it was usually practiced by the survivors of the old-style cullings that decimated the population and left just enough to rebuild: people who had lost everything, including their will to live, but weren't quite able to just lie down and die. Instead they left their home world and went searching for either a new sense of purpose or a quick death, whichever came first.
Granting the title to an outsider was breaking with tradition; so was granting it to someone whose self-endangering behaviors weren't actually prompted by a genuine death wish. But the chieftain's youngest son had been a member of one of those hunting parties. And the people were willing to accept that a man with no family or home, only a self-imposed mission that managed to combine both a strong sense of purpose and a high probability of death, was certainly close enough to be granted a little slack.
He's being hunted.
Gossip travels both ways; they're following the increasingly exaggerated rumors of Sojourner and he's picking up the increasingly obvious stories of a group of people that carry conspicuously advanced weapons, travel in packs, and wear matching uniforms. It's not exactly subtle. They're not shooting at him or offering rewards for his head, though, and these days he's willing to count that as low key. All they've done so far is spread the same message across a dozen worlds: his physical description, a request for information, and a contact address that he recognizes as one of the rejected alpha sites. Everything necessary to track down poor brain-damaged John who doesn't know his way home; they could just as easily have tacked "lost dog" posters up on the Stargates.
Atlantis thinks he's lost his memory.
The details of the mission he and his team were on are gone, as well as the memory of the explosion and its aftermath, but everything else is intact. So the time and effort theyvre wasting in the search is gratifying, and it even makes him a little proud, but he's not going back. He can't go back. He's known that ever since he woke up in the lab and understood what had happened; they learned the lessons Ford taught them all too well. Never mind that the changes the machines made were deliberate, not some freak accident. Never mind that he's done more on his own in eight weeks than Ford and his junkie militia could have done in eight years. The scanners would start going off before Carson could get within arm's reach; he'd be stunned, secured, and sedated without ever having a chance to argue. He designed the new security protocols himself; they wouldn't let him wake up until he was cured. Fixed. Neutered. Worthless.
It's a shame he can't substitute a psychological exam in place of the physical one. Heightmeyer would be so proud of his word association skills.
If he was still on Atlantis he would have been hard-pressed to rationalize (legitimate) a rescue mission for people like the Fenaiens. Their world has no valuable no trade goods or natural resources, no hidden ZPMs. On Atlantis, safely tucked away in the most fortified base in the entire galaxy, he never even would have known that they'd been taken. He certainly wouldn't have known that the Fenaiens use their hunting parties as their own version of Outward Bound: each group consists of two adult leaders and half a dozen teenage kids. The youngest he saved in his snatch and grab from the destroyer was 14.
He misses the city. But the people outside it need Sojourner.