Promises to Keep

 By Winnie

Word Count 39,070 Rated R

 

 

 

 

PX713-29, was the gate number to a planet John Sheppard wished he’d never heard of, let alone visited. He shifted on the bed and sat forward, wincing when the movement pulled at the healing wound in his side. Whoever these people were they’d taken care of his injuries, but had yet to speak to him. They were humanoid in appearance, but there was very little humanity in their minds.

 

The trip through the stargate had seemed a good idea at the time, but right now he wasn’t so sure he’d make the same decision again. How long had he been a captive of these people? Where were the others? Were they alive? Had they managed to escape back through the gate before it had been destroyed in the explosion that had resulted in his injuries?

 

John touched the bandage that covered the right side of his forehead, and wondered how bad the wound was. His head still pounded, nausea mounted in his stomach, and he knew he was suffering from the affects of a concussion. Maybe the silence of these people wasn’t such a bad thing after all. He lay back on the bed and closed his eyes, opening them when he heard the familiar swooshing sound that signaled he had visitors.

 

“Go away,” he ordered, but the voice that spoke brought him upright and glaring daggers at the man behind his kidnapping.

 

“Now, Colonel, is that any way to speak with the man who holds your life in his hands?”

 

“You sonofabitch!” Sheppard spat, reacting instinctively to the hated figure before him.

 

SGASGASGASGASGA

 

Voices, incessant and aggravating finally broke through and Rodney McKay reluctantly opened his eyes. He licked at dry lips and swatted at the hand that touched his arm, groaning when the movement tore at damaged ribs. 

 

“Let that be a lesson to you,” Carson Beckett chastised his patient.

 

“Who’s the drummer in my head?” McKay asked softly.

 

“Probably the same one who practiced on your chest,” Beckett answered.

 

“I thought that was the big ape who sat on me,” McKay told him, slowly moving his body and ignoring the pain until he could look around. There were two other beds, both occupied, but neither one held the one man he needed to see. The man who promised to follow them through the gate no matter what it took. “Where’s Sheppard?”

 

“We were hoping one of you could answer that question,” a new voice intruded on their conversation and McKay managed to turn his head just far enough to see Elizabeth Weir striding purposefully toward him. “How do you feel, Rodney?”

 

“Like Carson’s been practicing his voodoo science on me,” McKay snapped, eliciting an irritated grumble from Beckett. “Sheppard didn’t come through the Stargate?”

 

“You were the last one. Ronan and Teyla barely managed to stay on their feet waiting for you,” Weir answered worriedly.

 

“Are they okay?”

 

“Teyla’s leg is broken, but she should be fine…once she…Ronan has a severe head injury and has yet to wake up,” Beckett answered. “You also sustained a head injury, several broken ribs, and numerous bruises.”

 

“Elizabeth,” McKay said, pointedly ignoring Beckett’s reminder of his own injuries. “Have you sent anyone back to the planet?”

 

“We can’t, Rodney, the gate was destroyed and everything we knew about PX713-29 has changed…”

 

“What do you mean changed?” McKay asked.

 

“I mean the air is no longer breathable and there are no life signs of any kind from there. For all intents and purposes PX713-29 is a dead planet,” Weir answered.

 

“What… oh no, that can’t be…Sheppard…he promised…he promised to follow…he promised,” McKay’s eyes glazed over and he felt himself losing touch with everything around him as darkness reached out to engulf him. He didn’t see the worried look on Weir’s face or hear the concern in her voice as Beckett checked his vitals.

 

“Carson, is he going to be all right?”

 

“I think so, Elizabeth…although I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this distraught.”

 

“Distraught is hardly a word I’d associate with Rodney McKay,” Weir said, wondering how such a simple mission could go so wrong, so fast. This was to be a simple mission to check on the inhabitants on PX713-29 and see if they would be willing to trade, but something had happened once the team went through the gate. Less than an hour into their mission McKay had sent his IDC code and three of Sheppard’s team had stumbled through the gate before collapsing unconscious. The gate had shut down before Sheppard had stepped through and any attempts at communication had been met with deadly silence.

 

SGASGASGASGASGA

 

Sheppard stood staring at the man who’d entered his cell. There was no mistaking the former Genii military leader standing in the doorway, but what shocked him was the man standing behind Commander Acastus Kolya was known to him only as Michael. That these two seemed to have some kind of truce meant hell had just opened its gates for John Sheppard.

 

“Ah, I see you recognize, Michael,” Kolya said with a grin as two guards aimed their weapons at the prisoner. “He was more than willing to help me when I told him who the prize would be.”

 

“You set your sights below animal level when you chose him,” Sheppard said, his eyes fixed on Kolya.

 

“Michael is not an animal…”

 

“I wasn’t talking about Michael…I was talking to him,” Sheppard spat and saw a spark of anger in Kolya’s eyes, while a hint of a smile formed on the wraith’s face.

 

Kolya reacted to the insult by nodding to one of the guards, who stepped forward and drove his weapon into Sheppard’s gut. The former Genii commander stepped forward and knelt in front of his captive, drawing on a foul smelling cigar before blowing the smoke into colonel’s face. “You need some lessons in the proper way to speak to your captives, Colonel.”

 

“Go….to hell,” the SG officer snarled, refusing to look away in spite of the nauseating effect the smoke had on him.

 

“He is strong, Kolya.”

 

“Yes, he is, Michael, but strong men have their breaking point and you and I will find Colonel Sheppard’s before we are through,” Kolya told him.

 

“What do you want, Kolya?” Sheppard asked, finally able to stand on his own two feet again.

 

“That should be obvious, Colonel,” the former Genii Commander said with a slight grin as he moved back to stand beside the wraith. “Michael and I are in agreement that your people owe us for what you’ve taken…”

 

“We took nothing from you!” Sheppard spat.

 

“You are a liar, Colonel. You see if it was not for your people I would still be in command of the Genii military units on my world and Michael…well you took Michael and tried to change who he was. You gave him no choice and simply experimented on him…”

 

“The Wraith feed off us…they feed off your people, Kolya, and what we were trying to do would have stopped that if given the chance. Rodney and Carson…”

 

“Ah, yes, Dr. McKay, it is too bad he had to die, but I believe it was something Michael found highly entertaining…”

 

John staggered back, his eyes filled with anger as his body shook with a mixture of rage and sorrow. Rodney McKay could not be dead. There were promises made…promises to keep and no matter what Kolya said, John Sheppard would not believe that McKay was dead. He fought back the urge to ask about Teyla and Ronan, but Kolya seemed to be reading his emotions easily.

 

“Mourn your friends, Colonel, but you should realize they are the lucky ones…unless you are willing to tell us what we need to know,” Kolya told him.

 

“Colonel Sheppard, I know you have felt the power of a wraith feeding on you…and I know he reversed the effects, but I could easily take it from you and believe me when I say it is twice as painful the second time,” Michael said and stepped forward, his hand outstretched as he showed Sheppard the razor sharp access used for feeding.

 

John remembered the excruciating pain in his chest when the wraith fed on him, but refused to show any sign of fear. He knew that was exactly what he was feeling and understood it was a normal reaction to his last experience. “Kolya is using you, Michael…don’t…”

 

“Don’t what, Sheppard? Don’t trust him? I find that strange coming from your mouth after what your people did to me and others of my kind,” Michael snapped.

 

“We did what we thought was necessary,” Sheppard told him.

 

“You were wrong…both times,” the wraith said and turned to the Genii male. He wanted more than anything to feed on John Sheppard, but things had changed since Carson Beckett had injected him with the retrovirus. He could no longer feed on the humans, but he refused to let anyone know that and had taken to feeding off other races including several Genii prisoners in the lower levels. He’d given Kolya several reasons for not feeding, even a small amount on Sheppard, and for now he hoped Kolya was convinced. If not, Kolya would find out the hard way not to press matters that should not concern him. “We need to get started.”

 

“Bring him!” Kolya ordered and turned his back on Sheppard.

 

John struggled as the two guards grabbed his arms and pulled them behind his back. The movement pulled at the wound in his side and he felt blood soak through the bandage. A blow to the base of his neck sent him to his knees, but he would not give in easily and renewed his efforts to get free. He fought with a rage born of anger at the loss of his friends and delivered several staggering blows before something struck his lower back and he fell to the rough floor. A knee was pressed against his lower back and his arms were pulled behind his back and secured with wire.

 

“Now, Colonel, you must enjoy pain, but please refrain from fighting until you’re odds are better,” Kolya advised once his men had Sheppard on his feet. “Now that we have your attention shall we get on with this?”

 

Sheppard pulled away from the arms holding him and followed Kolya and Michael out of his cell. He glanced left and right, shocked to see the small humanoids from PX713-29 working in several areas of the compound. Were they still on the planet, or were they captives of Kolya and Michael? If they were could he trust them to help him if and when he found the means to escape? Was there a gate nearby?

 

“Are you thinking about escape, Colonel?”

 

Sheppard remained silent, and knew it was irritating the former Genii commander. It was something he’d experienced with Rodney McKay and had often left the scientist babbling about silent treatment. The thought of his friend, and the very real possibility that he was dead made the anger resurface and Sheppard vowed Kolya and Michael would pay for what they’d cost him. ‘Kolya will pay, McKay, that’s a promise I intend to keep,’ the SGA officer vowed.

 

“Colonel, as a prisoner of the Genii military…”

 

“Your own people kicked you out, Kolya; you’re a man without a home!”

 

“That’s true, Colonel, and again it is you that cost me my life. I should have been where Ladon Radim is, but because of your interference I have no home. That’s something you are going to help me with, Colonel” Kolya vowed and motioned for the guards to bring Sheppard forward. “When we are finished you will gladly reveal everything you know about Radim’s plans…”

 

“I don’t know anything!” Sheppard lied.

 

“Don’t lie to me, Colonel, your truce with my people is strong and they will do anything to keep on your good side, but…”

 

“I think you’re putting too much value on our truce, Kolya…”

 

“We shall see, Colonel,” Kolya warned. “I know Radim is planning something big. The Genii along with your people in Atlantis have been working on something that could wipe out the wraith threat. Michael is going to help me defeat Radim and once he is defeated we will attack Atlantis and Michael will have his revenge against your people. Again, that’s where you come in, Colonel, you know the Atlantis security code and their weaknesses and once we have those it is a simple matter of mounting a full frontal attack.”

 

“What makes you think I’d give you the codes?” Sheppard asked when they stopped before a covered structure.

 

“Oh I doubt you’d give them intentionally, but there are ways to get the information from you…but I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. Now I know you’re strong, Colonel, but I should warn you that I will take great pleasure in taking away that very strength and make sure you know it’s happening and that you can’t do a thing about it. McKay and the rest of your team are dead and I’m sure Dr. Weir and the others are aware of how they died and your part in it. They think you betrayed your team, Colonel, and that you are solely responsible for their deaths.”

 

“If they think I betrayed the team then they’ll change the codes and mine will be no good to you anyway,” Sheppard told him, swallowing several times as the structure before him was finally revealed. He had no idea what the different ropes and pulleys were for, but he understood what it meant for him.

 

“Release him, but be ready for anything,” Kolya warned.

 

Sheppard felt the wires come loose and pulled his arms around front, rubbing the circulation back into them even as a guard shoved him forward. The minute he was within reach of Kolya, he acted and grabbed the Genii around the neck as he grabbed the weapon from Kolya’s belt. It all happened so quickly that no one else reacted until he pointed the gun at Kolya’s head. “Tell them to back off, Michael, or I’ll kill him!”

 

“What would that matter to me, Sheppard?” Michael asked, smiling at the look on the captives face. He may have been forced to go into a partnership with Acastus Kolya, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t turn his back on him if the opportunity presented itself. It was a simple matter of survival of the fittest and Kolya would do the same thing if the roles were reversed. They were allies born of desperation, but they were still enemies by choice.

 

Sheppard tightened his grip around Kolya’s neck and pressed the weapon into his temple even as the former Genii commander began to laugh. He saw the smile on Michael’s face and understood the wraith really didn’t give a damn what happened to Kolya. He shifted slightly; unwittingly giving Kolya the leeway he needed and cried out when the bigger man’s elbow found the wound in his side. He didn’t relinquish his hold and pressed down on the trigger, but there was no sound from the uncharged weapon. The gun was taken from his hand as Kolya quickly turned and lashed out with a fist to Sheppard’s unprotected abdomen.

 

“Did you really think it would be so easy, Colonel?”

 

“A man can always ho…hope,” Sheppard spat. The blood from his wound dripped onto the ground even as the guard grabbed him and pulled him into the structure. His wrists and ankles were quickly wrapped in a thin strip of metal about an inch wide, while another strip was quickly wrapped around his chest. He had no idea what Kolya and Michael had in mind and refused to ask as Kolya reached for a console and began pressing the buttons on the keyboard.

 

“This is an interesting device, Sheppard, and was normally used for pleasure by the Corredian race, but with a slight modification it can also be turned into something that causes a great deal of pain. Now I’m sure you would prefer to experience the pleasurable aspect, but that won’t happen until you give me what I want!”

 

“Go to hell!” Sheppard said, screaming as small spikes embedded in his skin wherever a metal band was present. An electrical current ran through the spikes and his body shook with the force of the shock. He lost track of time as again and again he was subjected to the painful device until he slumped forward as the darkness reached out for him. He didn’t hear Kolya order the guards to return him to his cell, nor did he see the hint of respect he’d gained with the smaller race that he’d first seen on PX713-29.

 

“I told you he would be stubborn,” the newcomer stepped out from behind the structure and stood beside Kolya.

 

“Yes, you did, Lieutenant, but I still don’t understand why you have turned your back on him,” Kolya said.

 

“They made me what I am, yet they do not accept me because they are afraid of me,” Aiden Ford answered and looked at Michael with obvious distaste. “I know how he feels.”

 

Kolya knew Michael and Ford could not stand to be near each other, but right now he needed both men if he was to succeed. Once he had what he wanted it would be interesting to put the two wraith like creatures in a cage and see who came out on top. For now, Acastus Kolya was content to make Colonel John Sheppard suffer until he had what was needed to take the Pegasus Galaxy by storm.

 

SGASGASGASGASGA

 

Rodney McKay opened his eyes and glanced around, quickly realizing he was still in the infirmary. He shifted slightly, sending daggers of pain through his skull that threatened to send him back into the darkness. The problem was he could not afford to let that happen, not if he was going to keep his promise to John Sheppard.

 

“Rodney, just where do ya think you’re off to?”

 

“Carson, I need to speak with Elizabeth…”

 

“You’ll be doing nothing of the sort until I check you over…”

 

“Look, Carson, I can assure you I’m fine…although I am in danger of going into hypoglycemic shock…”

“Don’t make me resort to needles and restraints, Rodney!” Beckett warned.

 

“You wouldn’t,” McKay snapped, but one look at Carson Beckett was enough to assure him he not only could, but he would. Rodney lay back against the pillows and rubbed at tired eyes before glancing toward the other beds. “Where are Ronan and Teyla?”

 

“Sleeping,” Beckett answered and carefully examined his patient’s eyes.

 

“Have they woken up yet?”

 

“Teyla has, but Ronan is still unconscious. Do you remember what happened to you out there?”

 

“Sheppard had one of his feelings and ordered us back to the gate, but it was already too late. Teyla went down hard and Ronan…I think it was Ronan who grabbed her.” McKay said, growing quiet when Elizabeth Weir and Major Lorne appeared behind Beckett.

 

“It’s good to see you awake, Rodney. How are you feeling?”  Weir asked.

 

“I’ve been better, Elizabeth…tell me you’ve sent a team to search for Sheppard?” McKay asked hopefully, and wondered why Weir and Beckett could not meet his eyes. “Elizabeth, what’s wrong?”

 

“Rodney, the planet no longer has a breathable atmosphere…”

 

“Oh…right, I seem to remember you saying something to that extent the last time,” McKay said, rubbing at his temples. “How long has it been?”

 

“Two days since you and the others returned,” Beckett answered.

 

“Has there been any word from Sheppard?”

 

“Nothing,” Weir told him, turning when a cry erupted from two beds over. She watched as Beckett hurried to assist the nurse with Ronan who seemed to be struggling violently.

 

“Ronan!” Beckett tried to get through to the man, but it was McKay’s voice that seemed to calm the Satedan.

 

“Ronan, you saved Teyla…she’s safe!” McKay said.

 

“Teyla’s safe?” Ronan Dex asked, shifting slightly in an effort to find the others, searching frantically for the forth member of the team. A man he’d grown to respect and admire since their first meeting. “Where’s Sheppard?”

 

“He didn’t make it back,” McKay answered softly, suddenly finding it very hard to look anywhere, but at the blanket covering his bed. He knew Dex and Sheppard had grown to respect each other, and there were times were times when he felt a little jealous of the easy camaraderie that had formed between them.

 

“There’s nothing left of PX713-29,” Weir answered before the Satedan could voice his question. “We’ve been trying to piece together what happened.”

 

“Ronan, did you see what happened to Sheppard?” McKay asked.

 

“He was right behind you…I remember reaching Teyla as she fell and picking her up before reaching the stargate. Someone was shooting at us, but it wasn’t the people we first met,” Dex explained, closing his eyes as several disturbing images flashed through his mind. “There was someone behind Sheppard…I can’t quite s…see who it was, but he was holding something. I saw it just before I went through…whatever it was he had it aimed at Sheppard.”

 

“It was Kolya,” Teyla had been fighting her way back to consciousness and had been awake enough to catch Ronan’s words. Through blinding flashes of pain she’d seen the shadowy figure step out from behind several large boulders and had tried to shout a warning, but Dex had carried her through the gate before she’d been able to voice her fears. That was the last thing she remembered before the excruciating agony in her leg had sent her into the beckoning darkness.

 

“Kolya....sonofabitch!” McKay cursed and threw back the blankets.

 

“Rodney, don’t make me get out the restraints!” Beckett warned and smiled slightly when McKay shot an irritated glare in his direction.

 

“Are you sure, Teyla?” Weir asked. Acastus Kolya was well known to most of them and was a bitter enemy to those he’d encountered. His most recent contact had nearly ended with John Sheppard’s death at the hands of a wraith.

 

“I’m sure. Kolya was there and he had some kind of device in his hands,” Teyla explained as Beckett checked the monitoring equipment and seemed satisfied by the readings.

 

“If Kolya has Sheppard we need to find him before the bastard comes up with a new way to make his life miserable,” Dex said. He sat forward, but was forced back on the bed by Beckett’s restraining hand.

 

“The restraints would work on you as well, Ronan. Now stay put and I’ll allow all of you to talk through any plans you might have to rescue Colonel Sheppard, but right now neither one of you is going anywhere!”

 

“You are a tyrant, Carson!” McKay spat.

 

“I’ll take that as a compliment, Rodney, now don’t make me pull the CMO rank on you or you’ll find I have several tests yet to use…and believe me you would not enjoy the majority of them,” Beckett warned. He listened while they talked about PX713-29, and how they could find out where Kolya might have taken John Sheppard. It didn’t surprise him that there was no talk about the possibility that Sheppard could already be dead.

 

SGASGASGASGASGASGA

 

John Sheppard opened his eyes and knew he was back in his cell. He held his hand against the wound in his right side and braced himself before sitting up and leaning against the stone wall. He trembled as if cold, but realized it was more than likely the result of the electrical current Kolya had sent through him by way of the probes in the metal bands. His body ached and he looked down at the bruise and puncture wounds across his chest. His captors had cleaned the wounds, but there was a tiny trickle of blood from several deeper punctures. He bit his bottom lip and closed his eyes as he tried to make sense of what had happened to him.

 

Kolya had told him McKay and the others were dead, but John distinctly remembered seeing Dex carry Teyla through the gate with Rodney not far behind him. It was while he’d been running toward the gate that he’d been captured and turned to find himself face to face with his worst enemy…or at least one of his worst enemies. Right now he’d be hard pressed to say which one of the terrible trio he’d rather face.

 

John thought about Aiden Ford and the friendship he’d struck up with the lieutenant from the instant they’d first met in Antarctica. Ford had told him going through the gate would be excruciating and then proceeded to smile when he jumped through the gooey looking substance with a warrior like cry. What had happened to Ford was an accident, yet he’d changed since being linked with the wraith and there was very little of Aiden Ford left in the creature that was now a hybrid between a human and a wraith.

 

‘God, Ford, I wish I could change what happened,’ Sheppard thought, but he knew deep down Ford was too far gone to listen to anything he had to say. Sheppard stood and paced back and forth in his cell, but there was nothing he could do about Ford and there were other people he had to protect at all costs.

 

John rotated his shoulders and was reminded of the harpoon like weapon Kolya had used on him twice now and managed to capture him both times. If he found the device, Sheppard knew he would gladly destroy it. There’d been two deep bruises that last time, but they’d disappeared when the wraith prisoner had first fed upon him, and then given him the gift of life and called him brother. The wraith had surprised him and John couldn’t help, but smile as he remembered McKay’s words upon ‘rescuing’ him.

 

Sheppard sank back onto the cot and leaned back against the wall once more. He turned his thoughts to escape, and wondered if the humanoids would help him if given the chance. Kolya, Michael, and Ford were not about to let him go without a fight, but if he had allies, perhaps he could get word back to Atlantis. First and foremost he’d need to find out exactly where he was and whether there was a stargate nearby.

 

Sheppard heard movement outside the locked door and knew his reprieve was over. It didn’t matter who it was, it could only mean one thing. Sheppard’s life was about to get a whole lot more interesting than this small cell, and a whole lot more painful. Still, John would not make it easy for his enemies and folded his arms across his chest defiantly when the door opened and Ford stepped into the room.

 

“I hope you had a pleasant sleep, Sheppard,” Ford said, his eyes dark with hatred.

 

“Well if you’re really worried about how well I slept you could provide me with a feather pillow and a soft blanket…not to complain, but the mattress could use a good cleaning or better yet a new one would…” Sheppard’s head rocked back and struck the wall resoundingly as Ford lashed out.

 

“You hide behind your humor, Sheppard, but you forget I know you very well…”

 

“No, you don’t!” John spat, wiping the blood from his split lip. “Aiden Ford knew me…you’re nothing like him…not any more!”

 

“I have not changed that much, Sheppard, except in the way you perceive me to be…or should I say perceived me to be? You see I have learned much about myself since allowing the wraith enzyme to run through my body. I am stronger and smarter than the Aiden Ford you knew, Sheppard, and sooner or later you will come to respect me for taking the initiative…”

 

“That’ll never happen, Ford, you’ve let the wraith enzyme destroy the man you were.”

 

“Maybe, but I’m so much more now, Sheppard! I know you find this hard to understand, but I like who I am now! I like being in charge of my life and not having to listen to my superiors! You should try it, Sheppard! You should feel the strength as it flows through your veins…”

 

“That’s not something I would choose…”

 

“How do you know if you won’t even give it a chance?”

 

“I’d rather stay in the dark than become like…”

 

“Like what, Sheppard? Like me? Is that what you were going to say?” Ford asked and threw back his head as laughter, harsh and cruel echoed through the cell. “I am stronger than I ever was and I could tear you apart if I chose to, but right now I must refrain from that pleasure until you give Kolya what he wants. Come with me.”

 

“And if I refuse?” Sheppard asked.

 

“That is not an option, unless you enjoy being dragged like a weakling afraid to face the consequences of his actions,” Ford said with a grin.

 

John Sheppard knew there was very little of Aiden Ford left in the creature standing before him. John stood, dropping his hand away from his injured side and moved toward the door. No matter what happened he would not give Kolya what he wanted, and John had no doubt what that meant for him. He stepped out into the bright light of midday and felt the extreme heat of the white sun high overhead. Instantly four armed guards took up position, beside and behind him, giving him no chance to overpower Ford.

 

Sheppard looked around, taking the time to look at the compound and filing the information away for later use. The structure he’d been up close and personal with earlier was hidden from view once more, and Sheppard barely suppressed the automatic reaction of shuddering. Needles and pins started from the each point of origin as he recalled the sharp pain as the metal tips had entered his body.

 

“Don’t worry, Sheppard, Kolya has something even more inventive in mind for you,” Ford explained as they entered a large, rather spacious outer chamber.

 

John looked around and took a deep breath, fighting to keep his emotions in check as Acastus Kolya strode purposefully toward him. Michael remained where he was at the back of the chamber as if he could not abide being anywhere near them. There was a slab of stone beside him and Sheppard’s mind conjured up all kinds of torturous scenarios, but something told him his mind had nothing on what the three men had in mind for him.

 

“So good of you to join us, Colonel,” Kolya said, a hint of a smile on his face as he faced the man who had defeated him not once, but twice.

 

“It’s not like I could refuse such a gracious invitation,” Sheppard spat sarcastically.

 

“True, come this way and I’ll show you a pet project of mine. Perhaps I’ll even give you a close up introduction,” Kolya explained.

 

“I think I’ll pass…”

 

“Oh, you do amuse me, Colonel, but I’m afraid that was not really a request,” Kolya said and watched as the rear guards pressed Sheppard forward. “You see there are many unknowns in the Pegasus Galaxy and I’m certain you have yet to encounter the Traxians. They are small creatures that bore under the skin and proceed to feed on their host. Have you seen them before, Colonel?”

 

“No,” Sheppard answered automatically.

 

“Then allow me to introduce you to them.” Kolya reached behind him and picked up a small box before holding it in front of him.

 

Sheppard heard a sharp screeching sound that set his nerves on edge. He couldn’t help but look inside the box when Kolya lifted the lid and showed him the creature that reminded him of a cross between a garden snake and a leech. The skin color was an iridescent grey as the body twitched and seemed to strike out at him.

 

“This one seems to like you, Colonel; perhaps you would like to hold it?’

 

“I’d rather not,” Sheppard said, instinctively taking a step back, but his arms were caught in vice like grips before he was forced deeper into the chamber.

 

“Put him on the bed,” Michael told the guards and smiled when Sheppard renewed his efforts to escape. It didn’t take long for a guard to simply strike him with a gun and drive him to his knees. They lifted him onto the bed, holding him in place as Kolya and Ford used the restraints to secure him in place. There were several bands that crossed over Sheppard’s body once his ankles and wrists had been encircled by the leather thongs. One crossed his forehead, a second, his chest, the third at his waste and the final one was tightened down across his knees.

 

Sheppard felt the last of the straps being secured and opened his eyes, surprised to be looking into a full length mirror above him. He struggled against the restraints, but there was no give in them as Kolya’s face appeared above him.

 

“Now, Colonel, it is time to begin,” the former Genii commanded and donned a showed Sheppard a thin bladed knife. “You see the Traxians are attracted to the smell of fresh blood and although you have several wounds none of them are bleeding any longer…except the one in your side, but since we have several creatures with voracious appetites I figure it would be best if we gave them new, more palatable areas to explore.”

 

“Kolya…don’t…” Sheppard tried, but the big man pressed the tip of the blade at Sheppard right forearm and made a small slit, pressing until blood welled up from the wound. John knew there was no escape as the first Traxian was placed on his arm. The creature’s skin turned crimson as it undulated as if the very scent was enough to drive it into a frenzied dance. It slithered along Sheppard’s arm and he could feel tentacle like appendages as it raced toward the wound. The screeching sound increased when Kolya trapped the creature against the captive’s skin.

 

“Tell me the codes, Colonel, and I’ll stop this,” Kolya told him.

 

“Go to Hell!” Sheppard ground out.

 

“You first,” Kolya said and released the creature who immediately renewed its trek along Sheppard’s arm.

 

John could not turn away if he wanted to as the Traxian reached the wound Kolya had made. The thing reared its head; two tiny red eyes looked at him, razor sharp teeth shone in what appeared to be its mouth just before it began to bury itself in the wound. John tried to hold back the fear, but the pain was instantaneous and he cried out as the mandibles locked onto his flesh and began feeding. John lost any sense of time as Kolya made several more cuts to his arms, legs, and finally just below his navel. He screamed as each time a Traxian was released and burrowed into the wound.

 

“You can stop this, Colonel…all you need to do is tell me the codes,” Kolya repeated, watching as the Traxians fed off Sheppard’s blood. I would not take the creatures long to gorge themselves, but he would have to stop them before they drained the colonel’s body of the life giving substance.

 

Aiden Ford watched with interest as the creatures keening wail continued and they all but disappeared beneath his skin. A small part of him regretted being part of this, but he quickly squelched what little humanity remained. Now he understood the reasons for the restraints as Sheppard fought the intrusions into his body. It was obvious just how much pain the colonel was in, but for Aiden Ford it would never be enough. John Sheppard was no longer his friend, but a sworn enemy who had turned his back on the warrior Ford had become.

 

John Sheppard had always thought of himself as a strong man, hell he’d been through so much since coming to Atlantis including an Iratus bug, but nothing had prepared him for the agony that twisted through his body, burning through his veins and sending shockwaves of misery along his ragged nerves. He could hear Kolya repeating the same sentence over and over, but there was no way John Sheppard could give up the codes and betray his friends on Atlantis. He’d rather die before he did that, but something told him death would be a long time coming.

 

 

PART 2 / PART 3 / PART 4 / PART 5 / PART 6 / PART 7 / PART 8

 

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PROMISES TO KEEP image created by Pywacket
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Comments-----Dedicated to Pamela, who has such great taste and is such a wonderful sounding board. I love the pictures she does for my stories.