Spoilers: All through Season 1 - with future spoilers for Season 2 Runner
Summary: The prospect of going home seemed surreal, but it was happening. She just shouldn't have expected it to be that easy. Sorafic.
A/N: Thanks to Fanwoman and Ellex for beta reading this excellently.
She laughs. There used to be a part of her that would have cared, but it neither surprises nor upsets her now. They've taken everything else from her. This is the last thing they can take, and they're too cowardly to do it themselves. It's the last rejection her society has. Death by that which they attempt so desperately to stave off – it's perfectly fitting for a traitor; it's the death they all despise and fear.
Yet she laughs when they call out her sentence.
'Death by Wraith.'
Those of her house smile happily at the punishment, Narseph in particular. She sees his sly grin. No doubt he thinks it's right; it's the same way her father died – the one she never avenged - and this is meant to rub it in. The smiles falter as she continues laughing, but she wonders what they expect from her. They've spent the last few months depriving her of anything and everything they could. She has no name. Although she vaguely remembers what it looked like written, she hasn't heard it in a long time and probably wouldn't recognise it if she did. Instead, she is 56908X4 – that's all she is to them. She has no family, no friends. Her past is her crime, and her future judged non-existent. They've made her part of a neatly ordered system, rather than a person, and finally they've finished processing her based on anything but real facts. If they were honest, they could not condemn her; they have no proof of any of the crimes she has committed. They forgave her for her original disloyalty in order to justify keeping her alive. When she gave up nothing useful, they sought to justify torture, and now they invent reasons to return to what should have happened long ago. But death sounds all too appealing to her, and it's ironic that they are giving her exactly what she wants.
There's no fight left in her; they just don't know that – she never had anything for them, she never resisted, but truthfulness doesn't save you here. They've driven her mostly crazy, and yet they don't understand any of what's occurred. They never needed torture to get their answers. She was Sora; she was a Genii, and she would have done what was asked. But there were no questions to which she could have given answers to satisfy them, even if they had known what to ask. Instead, they have emptied her of everything but the desired information. She stands proud as they come to drag her away, still laughing, now because she finds it amusing that they miss the significance of all this. When she returned, she might not have been entirely Genii, but since then, they've done a tremendous job of making her anything but one. Just as well they hate her anyway, because they wouldn't like her if they did see the truth under all the politics and the cruelty that came with it.
The minute they stopped treating her as one of their own was when she started to turn away from them. Their treatment only exacerbated her doubts and quickened the realisation. If she had the chance now, she'd not hesitate to betray them, because the Genii name means less than nothing to her anymore. The only thing she fears more are the Wraith; yet she knows what to expect with Wraith, and she no longer hates them, since all her anger is reserved for what she used to be. She knows the Wraith will not draw out her death; they will not starve her, or heal her only to cut again. The Wraith do what is necessary to survive, the very same principle the Genii have adopted and twisted in their human minds and with their human ways until they can do anything under the sun imaginable and say it is acceptable because it is the Genii way.
She used to believe in the Genii way. She used to think that any cost was worth it, that they should do anything to secure a weapon against the Wraith, no matter that they had no right to deceive allies or judge who was worth it, who was expendable - like the two men who haunt her dreams. She finds she doesn't care about the fifty men who hit the shield with sickening thumps after Sheppard locked them out of the Atlantean computers. It's the bodies of the two unsuspecting Earth military that she sees, whom she mourns. They answered a call for help and paid the cost, paid it on behalf of the Genii. Maybe she had once thought it worthwhile, but now their deaths seem worthless and despicable. Sometimes she feels like she deserves the pain, because it isn't much, considering her real crimes, the mistakes that had originally taken more away from others than from herself. Her time on Atlantis seems like purgatory compared to the Genii prison, and Weir sent her here. Fate sometimes played out in strange patterns, to the point at which she thought perhaps she had been sent to this hell to pay for those deaths. She knows it isn't true, that Weir can't have known, because a woman like that, a people like that, wouldn't do this to someone. This is the Genii way, the wrong way. Still, reality often slipped away some days when she found herself seeing things that shouldn't have been there. Her father had visited her on her birthday, a relatively pleasant day because it was otherwise uneventful, and asked her nicely to give up, to tell them everything. He got angry when she said there was nothing more to give, to tell. He never came again, and the pain returned the next day.
Today is quite a good day, as far as days go, even with her death placed firmly on it. They take away the last of her possessions, the clothes she has gotten used to. She didn't mind one bit that they were ripped and bloody; they were hers, her old uniform, something left of the old Sora. They're replaced with a meager layer or two, just enough that she won't die of hypothermia before the Wraith get to her and bright enough to make her stand out. The same goes for her health; they force feed her, more food and drink than her stomach has had for months. It can barely handle the influx, but they insist – she knows it isn't from any sense of concern for her, apart from making sure she gets the death she deserves. There's no going quietly. They want her to suffer, and she doesn't know what they call the last few months if she wasn't suffering then.
She's taken to the gate, where there are a few familiar faces waiting. Kolya stands to one side, in full dress uniform – he looks, perhaps, a little regretful, but she isn't certain of her own feelings, let alone what his expression holds. Even if it is regret, he isn't doing anything to help her, and he hasn't done anything all these months when it could have made a difference. He surely knew what he left her to when he ceased to be her commander, ceased to be someone that she considered friend or family. He had been like a second father, an extra uncle, someone whom she looked up to, and now she looks down upon him. Maybe he can see that, maybe that is what the look is about. She rather hopes he feels the guilt of disappointing her, because in her eyes he betrayed her almost as much as the rest of them.
The only other notable person is Jarin. He is the only one who looks afraid for her, his hatred faltering when she meets his eyes. She wants to laugh again but keeps her silence out of respect. This is a solemn occasion, and she respects herself enough to go out with decency no matter how much they have taken away. Besides that, a large part of her is torn at seeing him. He may have wished her gone the last time she saw him, but it shows in his face that those were words said in fear and anger, emotions that didn't last. Still, the damage was done. He didn't come to save her; but she gives him a goodbye kiss on the cheek, and he does not look disgusted as he ought to for being touched by someone like her. Then they gag her and pack a day or two's worth of water in a small bag. She is meant to survive just long enough to die a different way. This is no test; were she to survive, they would only send her back again. They won't be satisfied until they find her decrepit body discarded like a snack. There's little chance the Wraith who frequent the planet would bother taking her back to a hiveship. She's barely any kind of sustenance for them, but certainly enough to take a taste of while visiting. She wonders if they know about this tradition. It's possible the leaders inform the Wraith somehow; they have many connections with people who could do so.
There is a last call for those present as they dial the remote planet the Wraith are known to call upon, one of the places of runners and the exiled. This once, they use her name as they announce her fate. The waters of the ring surge and retreat, the destination dialed. When she was a girl, she had been afraid of drowning in the circle, but long ago she had overcome her fear of gate travel. Such fears were unbecoming of a Genii warrior. At the moment, it almost seems like she will drown in it, metaphorically, for she is going to her death. This time, she overcomes the fear, not because she shouldn't feel it as a Genii, the last thing she wishes to be, but because she welcomes the consequences. Then she walks steadily into the horizon, is swallowed whole, and as her molecules are deconstructed, Sora is gone. She comes out the other side as someone else, a new person whose life is already over.