Warnings: Eventual non-con (het), Occasional foul language
Word Count: apx. 2900
Notes: Sadly, this is still a wip I started posting on fanfiction.net. I've set a goal for myself that I will add one chapter a day to LiveJournal, and by the time I'm caught up I must have a new chapter. The gears are finally moving in my head, so I think I might just manage to make it happen!
Summary: A visit to a village covered in mud leads to a captured Colonel, and an unexpected alliance with an old enemy. Shep whump.
Dead, Sheppard’s dead. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Kirk never dies, he gets the girl and saves the day; he does not die!
“Rodney, are you alright?” Weir was looking at him with concern. She, Lorne, Ronon, Teyla, Carson, Radek, and Caldwell were all in the Conference Room to deliver the devastating news to Rodney, and to plan Atlantis’ next step. Caldwell surprisingly didn’t look all that happy about finally acquiring the coveted position.
McKay wanted to burst out laughing. Was he alright? Sheppard was dead, and they wanted to know if he was alright!?! It was just one muddy excuse for a village. How could something possibly go so wrong in such a pathetic dump? Here lies Sheppard, killer of Wraith, destroyer of Hive-ships, and slain by Mudmen. No, it just didn’t fit.
“Where is the body?” If he was to come up with a better epitaph, he wanted to see where his friend was going to spend the next several hundred years decomposing.
Looks were exchanged between the room’s occupants. Teyla and Weir held each other’s gazes, both silently willing the other to tell McKay the full story. “There was none,” Ronon took the decision from their hands. “The storm washed away everything.”
McKay froze. No body. Didn’t any of these bimbos ever read a comic book? You’re not dead until there’s a body! “If there was no body, how do you know he was dead?” Suddenly McKay was not grieving, he was pissed. Radek should have known better. Besides knowing that he had indeed read comic books (and still had a few in his quarters), he was a fellow scientist, and a scientist should know that something is not true until it was proven so, not just most likely.
Lorne detailed to McKay what the teams had found when they dialed Nultara. With each word uttered in that driveling, defeated voice, McKay’s ire grew. “A jacket! You just left him there because you found a jacket?”
Uncomfortable glances were exchanged. “Rodney, there was nothing on Nultara to have sheltered him from that storm. Even if we hadn’t found his jacket, we would be hard pressed to believe he made it.” Weir had to make him understand; she needed her head scientist focused.
McKay was just shaking his head, unable to believe what he was hearing. “This is unbelievable. I always knew I was surrounded by incompetent morons, but this is just appalling!” Several heads looked over from the Control Room, surprised by the shouting. At a look from Weir, they returned to their work.
“Let’s break this down, shall we? You find a jacket and a tack vest. Sheppard went missing while we were all in bed. Do you wear your tack vest to bed?” he asked Ronon. The runner just looked at him, and he realized that no, Ronon didn’t wear one period. “Do you, Teyla? Lorne? Hmm? I thought not. The vest could easily have been left behind when he was abducted, thus making it perfectly reasonable to find. Did you see his vest in the inn before we left.”
Ronon glared, “I was a little busy McKay.”
Caldwell sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, digging the tips of his fingers into his eyes. McKay was right in this regard, and he felt guilty for not having thought of something so obvious. However, it didn’t really change the situation. “Dr. McKay that still does not mean he could have survived the storm.”
“Ah ha, there were no shelters on the surface, yes, but did you even scan for underground caverns?” Here he addressed Zelenka. “We had nominal power readings from below ground, didn’t this occur to anybody?”
“Ronon reported that you said they were too small to be of significance.” Weir pointed out.
“Not significant as in, no I don’t think they’re going to come through the Gate and kill us, or threaten us if we should happen to be trading on the same world. That does not mean you should ignore its presence altogether!” Mixed with his anger now was a good bout of relief. My co-workers really are as stupid as I accuse them. Sheppard might still be out there. Oh, thank god. “We need to go back to that planet right now, and start looking for him again.”
Weir was feeling some of her own relief. If there was even a chance that her military commander was still alive, then she would do her damnedest to make sure he was brought home. Looking at her ranking officer, she asked, “Major, how soon can you assemble a team to go back?”
“Less than a half hour ma’am.”
Caldwell was reluctant to burst the mounting bubble of energy rising in the room, knowing people would think he did so out of a dark need to usurp Sheppard’s position, but knew he had to point out, “Listen, we need to know if that storm has passed yet. If it’s still going as strong as the last time we sent a team through, then they’ll never be able to detect him. We need to wait for it to blow over.”
Rodney nodded morosely in agreement.
“We’ll send a team out to check every hour. Once a team reports an all clear, we’ll send through more scouting parties.” Lorne looked like he was already calculating team rosters in his head.
“I want you to take Dr. Litzky with you this time, as well,” Weir ordered. “She’s our resident weather expert, so she may be able to provide some enlightenment regarding this storm, see if it’s anything like what we experienced here on Atlantis, and if we need to worry about it happening again.” She looked each person in the eye, daring any of them to give up hope again, though why McKay deserved such a look was an aggravation he reserved for later, and nodded a dismissal.
“Would help if she could speak English,” McKay grumbled as he left the room, eager to chastise Radek in private for his oversight.
Elizabeth watched them leave, feeling the air caught in her chest, as hope made a resurgence. I will not let him down this time, she swore.
Senzen studied the mess of a man sprawled on the white marble floor before him, his thoughts filled with a bitter sense of retribution, not too dissimilar to the attitude this man had come to him with. When this man had first approached Hazzan, and through him Senzen, he had spoken with an air of superiority, as though the Nultarans owed him something. And indeed, maybe they did.
He had told them about Sanctuary, a treasure his people had amazingly been ignorant of for so many generations. He had shown them where to build shafts and supplied the exhausted laborers with fresh food, something highly unavailable in this mud hole. Most importantly, he had given them hope.
But he had also betrayed them, and now here he was, covered in blood; a mass of broken bones, a rainbow of bruises, and a collection of infected gashes. Quite colorful, really. He nudged his prisoner with his mud-free boot. The man moaned, but did not have the energy to effectively cringe. Slowly he opened his brown, bloodshot eyes a crack.
“Colonel Sheppard has been most cooperative so far, Acastus. He has brought Sanctuary back to life, as your man did.” Kolya stared out into space. Senzen nudged him a little harder to get his attention. “You told me he would not be so agreeable. Did you lie to me again? Did you think you could use us to get your revenge?”
Senzen reached down and pulled his prisoner up roughly by the hair. “If we have lost his good will because of your lies, your time with us up to now will be naught but a pleasant memory compared to what you will suffer.”
The once unflinching long arm of the Genii trembled under his torturer’s intense scrutiny. “He, he won’t. You’ll see,” he croaked. Screaming and whispering were all that was left to what used to be a charming voice. “When you ask him. . . your plan. . . he will say no. He’ll never do it!” It was a promise. Kolya knew his enemies, knew their limits. Sheppard would never participate in what the Nultarans wanted him to do.
Senzen released him, and he fell to the floor with a hard thud. Really, he much preferred his mud and dirt prison. The floors of Sanctuary were just too much for his abused body. “For your sake, I hope you are right. For his, I hope you are wrong.” And with that, he left, leaving in his wake yet another great leader struggling to understand where things went wrong.
The sounds of an entire population bustling about the busy task of relocating their entire lives and homes reverberated through the walls of Sanctuary like music to those who had for so long waited desperately to hear them. Once abandoned halls were once again filled with people.
The City itself seemed to have an extra sparkle to her walls, as though she too was happy to have residents once again. Is this City really alive to love us so?
Senzen paced the halls, solving problems as they arose, from the petty (But I wanted this room for my family! I don’t care if it looks exactly like all the other rooms!) to the serious (A previously undiscovered cave-in preventing a section of the city from being occupied just yet).
Finally he found just the woman he was looking for. “Ifsha, tell me you have everything ready.”
A tired laugh was emitted from the rather robust woman (by Nultaran standards). “It wasn’t easy, especially for the married women, but they’ll do it.” She raised blue stained hands. “At least we’ll definitely have all the Keras berries we’ll need.”
Senzen smirked at her hands, but asked seriously, “And the girls? Have they agreed?” Ifsha’s eyes sank to the floor. Senzen sighed, “I told you Ifsha, if we are too survive, even with the Ancestor’s blessing of Sanctuary, we are going to need everyone to contribute. Anyone who is capable must do this, I don’t care if they’re twelve.”
Reluctantly Ifsha nodded and turned away, not entirely comfortable with the task in front of her. Even she knew it was wrong, but it was the only way to survive, right?
White. White ceiling. Not Atlantis. Where?
With a jerk, he awoke and immediately threw himself out of the bed. He heard someone cry in surprise and felt them rush over to him, placing their arms around his shoulders and squeezing tight. No! He would not be subdued like some hapless doll again. With a yell of his own, he shoved the hands off him, thus throwing the person holding him harshly to the floor with an “umph.”
“Colonel Sheppard!” they cried, but he ignored it in favor of rushing to his feet as soon as possible. He did not want to be caught off his guard again. He backed up to the nearest corner, and only then did he look at who was in the room with him.
He was in his little white room, his home away from home. “Colonel?” the voice questioned. The little blonde woman seemed unsure whether or not he was awake. “John?”
Dala, Hazzan’s granddaughter with the poisoned Hemyas. “You’re not drugging me again,” he warned. Actually his body felt a little stronger, but it was pouring sweat at an alarming rate. Did he have a fever? He refused to relax one of his fists enough to check. Even if he did, it was a problem for later.
“It’s alright, John,” Dala spoke softly as though to a spooked animal. Way to be condescending, thought Sheppard. “I gave you a purger about an hour ago that’s removing all the excess boffa root from your system. That’s why you’re sweating so much. I promise, that is all I did or will do.”
“No more drugs.” Sheppard demanded.
“No more.” Dala agreed.
Sheppard looked around the room. A table and two chairs had been added, along with a tray of food, it’s contents looking disgusting and brown, as always. Noticing his look, Dala asked, “Would you like to eat? I promise, this food is completely drug free.”
Sheppard just stood in his corner for several minutes, pulling his thoughts back together. It felt wonderful just to be able to think again. Reviewing the last time he awoke, he realized the water in the canteen Senzen had given him must have been spiked, for his thoughts were certainly very fuzzy by the time he had gotten to the Control Room.
The Control Room. He had activated the city. Had he actually wanted to do that? “Why did you drug me before?” he asked Dala. “I had already agreed to help you.” There really wasn’t any reason for Dala to answer. He knew they had planned to drug him either way to ensure his compliance. But he needed to know how involved Dala was in Senzen’s machinations.
“I was not here for that John,” she really sounded like she was talking to a rabid animal that might go off on her if she spoke too loudly or quickly. He knew the tactic; it was designed to make him feel guilty and basically like shit. Too bad for her he had too much exposure to McKay and was immune to her tone. “Like the others, I was above ground, waiting to be welcomed home.”
Suddenly, she smiled, “I don’t know if anyone has taken the time to properly thank you yet. Truly we owe you a debt of gratitude. Therefore, thank you John Sheppard, on behalf of all of Nultara, for all that you have done for us.”
Sheppard finally allowed himself to give into the urge to roll his eyes. Fortunately he was able to do so without the excessive spinning and vomiting of earlier. “Well, you have your City now, and I need to return to mine. I’ll tell Dr. Weir what happened, and maybe she can send a team to help you out with this place.” Not that he would recommend doing so, he couldn’t trust the Nultarans. But he was reluctant to write off the resources of this city.
“Please Colonel,” Dala sounded flighty again, like the flirting young woman he had met at the dinner. “Let’s discuss what is to come over a meal. You have not eaten any real food in quite a while.”
Sheppard cautiously joined her at the table. There were two place settings, half a loaf of bread, strips of meat that looked similar to beef, and a pitcher of water. Sheppard eyed the food warily. “How long have I been here?”
Dala shrugged as she began serving them food. “Not long, two days.” Sheppard did feel a little relief, having feared it was longer. “Will you eat?” she asked again. She took a sample bite of everything, and a drink of the water to prove it was safe. He was unconvinced though. Senzen had also drunken from the canteen that definitely knocked him through the loop earlier, and other Nultarans had eaten the same food as his team at the dinner. Clearly whatever drugs had affected him were of no consequence to the natives.
“I think I’ll pass.” He folded his arms, but did sit down. “I held up my end of the bargain; I activated this city. Now it’s your turn. Let me return to Atlantis.”
“Please John,” she smiled at him, this time as though he were six. What’s with these people? “You will need your strength. You have some busy days ahead of you.”
And the dread just kept building. “What do you mean by that?”
“Think about it John. We’re in the City of the Ancestors! None of the Nultarans can properly work the systems here. We do not have this gene,” she actually stumbled over the foreign word. “If something were to happen to you, we would be trapped in our own home. Do you understand?”
“I understand that you have kidnapped me and are refusing to let me return to my world.” Did they really think he would work their city against his will for the rest of his life.
Dala sighed. “I really wish Senzen were here to tell you about this, but apparently it is to be me. John, we have no wish to keep you from your people, we’re not monsters. But we do need to survive. This is why we asked for your help.”
Feeling like he was missing something, he asked, “So what is it that you do want from me?”
An almost shy smile twisted her lips in a pretty fashion. “We want Nultarans who can naturally occupy this city. Nultarans who are born with this ATA gene. We need a new generation with your gifts. Babies, John. We want you to give us babies.”