Spoilers: For early Season 1, where it's set, before Suspicion.
Summary: My halloween inspired fic for 2005. A peek at Athosian life. This is their way, it's how they survive
A/N: Graciously betaread by Ellex and Fanwoman.
It's about the past: the Athosian Day of the Dead, or as near as you can get. They say goodbye, letting go of bad memories, and they welcome the Ancestors. They simultaneously remember and forget, letting go and grasping tight. It's a way of forming an identity, of who you want to be and who history makes you.
What they don't do is try to divine the future or contact the dead. They leave that part of the past behind; they let the spirits of the dead rest, as much as those taken early by the Wraith can ever rest. They don't mourn the same way; they don't even look back fondly upon the individuals – at least, not officially.
Maybe it's because fate can be cruel, and those that are gone might not be dead – instead they may be left cold, sleeping on a hive ship as battered cargo for the Wraith, still awaiting death. No one wants to dwell on that. That's why they hold the Ancestors in high regard and drink to their kinsfolk, past and present. It's about the group, their small but proud nation.
Athos has been left behind, but once again they are together and safe, so everyone is happy. It's all they need today, in order to celebrate. They gather together, welcoming those of Atlantis, too. There is dancing and music and performances of traditional stories. Teyla watches over it all with Halling, viewing the proceedings with pleasure and giving praise to the performers.
The children delight in the plays, watching the adults’ melodramatic portrayal of the great legends of Athos, and of the larger society of the Pegasus galaxy. There are the wise Ancients, standing tall, intoning cryptic messages and puzzles. There are the sneering, arrogant Wraith, and the brave heroes that wield their knowledge and might against them. It's no surprise that this year the people playing the heroes bear a striking resemblance to those who live in this Ancient city, and the children certainly do not complain. They know these are just myths, but for once, they are as close to being real as they have ever been.
The stage is underlit with lamps set low around it, and subtle modifications to the wall lighting by Dr. Grodin mean only half the lights are on at once. One set fades in and out gradually, before the other half takes over – an effect that casts a dim pulsing glow over the actors and the audience, like the flickering light of a campfire, even though they are stuck inside a great metal city rather than their usual tents and huts.
Suddenly, what looks like sparkling gold dust explodes into the air as the Wraith is struck down with Ancient magic, and the seated crowd cheers at the glory of the sight. The music in the background stops suddenly, then the drum pounds out the last breaths of the monster as it lies there 'dying', each beat struck louder than the last. There is a certain amount of dark enjoyment taken from watching the scene. At last the drum stops, and after a pause, the normal joyous background music resumes.
To the Earthlings, it might seem strange, exotic and occult, but the festival shows that the past has its good points, however arduous the journey has been for their people. That they still wish for good times and half believe it possible is a good omen. That they have a past to look back on reminds them how lucky they are to be here. It makes them strive towards the future so their children can grow up and look back upon the past themselves. It's about tradition, about carrying on, surviving; but most of all it's about hope.