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Author's Chapter Notes: The Atlanteans fall foul to a face from the past

John gave a restless sigh as he looked towards the Chief Councillor Darwin, who sat on Elizabeth’s left side, whilst John, himself, sat on her right

Although John had gradually developed an admiration and respect for Darwin, he felt the opposite for the hard faced Assistant Councillor Tagan. There was something about him that made John’s skin crawl so he felt an overwhelming relief when it was Darwin and not Tagan who sat down beside Elizabeth.

He suspected Teyla, who was sitting across the table from them, was having the same doubts as he hadn’t failed to notice a frown flicker across her face when she glanced over in Tagan’s direction.

As the day wore on, John found he was gradually able to relax. The talks proceeded with few interruptions, as Elizabeth and Darwin
methodically covered all aspects of the intended alliance. It wasn’t long before the terms of the alliance were agreed upon and finalised.

Their tour around Tronan had been interesting and they’d all been enthralled by the explosions of colour from the shrubs complemented by the stunning green of the grass[]. The settlement, although not exactly sophisticated, adequately housed the small population of the Tronan people. It was the abundance of crops, however, that drew the Atlanteans’ attention. The promised trade would be enough to provide the population of Atlantis with food for many months to come and the promised supply of equipment, to help harvest their abundance of crops, delighted the Tronans in return.

The tour had drawn to a close with a display of hauntingly beautiful music. The instruments were simple looking, but made entirely by the people of Tronan. It was hard to believe that the music which filled the early evening air came from things as flimsy as the instruments presently held in the hands of their guests.

As they strolled back to the village hall, John was happy to see the lines of tiredness gone from Elizabeth’s face. Her expression appeared animated by all she had seen, so much so that her previous displeasure with her military commander was forgotten as she returned his inquisitive look with a small smile. It seemed the troubles between them had been placed, for the moment at least, on the back burner.

John, himself, felt invigorated by the thought of what the alliance was going to mean[]. He had been pleasantly surprised by how easily he’d developed a liking for the Chief Councillor. It was obvious the feeling was mutual and John prophesised the development of a deep friendship between Darwin and the people of Atlantis if the talks continued along the same road they were on at present.

To celebrate the new alliance, the Tronans had laid out an amazing spread of food, and well received cool refreshments given the overbearing heat that had developed early afternoon. The group once more took their places around the large oblong table. The inside of the building was pleasantly cool a welcome change from the humid heat of earlier.

One particular refreshment was held in great esteem by the Tronans, and was only served to honoured guests. It was the presentation of this however that ignited John’s suspicions. Not the drink itself, but the person who carried it in to the hall.

Up until now, the guests’ needs were seen to by servants within the councillors staff, but John had seen Tagan slink out the room only to return carrying a tray of cup- like containers filled with the favoured refreshment, Peirra.

It was not this alone, though, that had John’s senses on high alert. He had just caught sight of a fleeting sneer on Tagan’s face before it was quickly disguised; one that had been directed at Elizabeth. The hairs on the back of John’s neck began to rise as he came to a realization, Tagan did not hold the leader of Atlantis in as high esteem as what he tried to portray.

Did he then hold the same views as his predecessors, that a female had no place in positions of power? John felt a coldness consume him as he thought of the implications of this. Was this where the danger lay? From this man alone? John however had no intentions of standing by and letting him endanger the life of Atlantis’ leader.

He stood up hesitantly, knowing his actions would be frowned upon by their hosts. It was not their reactions that he feared, however, it was Elizabeth’s. The words he needed to utter aloud would likely destroy any newly gained trust that had developed. He sighed in despair; he had no choice whilst he harboured this newly developed mistrust. He spoke up, his voice strong, with not a hint of the stomach churning feeling he was experiencing. “Tagan, why don’t you take some Peirra and we can raise a toast to our new alliance.” His smiled at Tagan, but his expression was also one of warning.

The cold and calculating look in Tagan’s eyes seemed to confirm John’s suspicions, but his words only serviced to make John sound unreasonable.

“Colonel Sheppard, I hear reservation in your voice as to the authenticity of our Peirra.” Tagan’s eyes narrowed, but a false smile was plastered on his face. However, I can assure you, I merely refrain as I do not consume alcohol.”

This was immediately challenged by the Chief Councillor. “Now Tagan, that’s not strictly true. I’ve seen you drink when the situation calls for it and today is one of those times.”

Tagan shook his head, an expression of distain clouding his face as he looked towards the Chief Councillor. “Today I want to keep a clear head[] so I can ensure our guests are adequately entertained.”

John took a deep breath, trying to blot out the feeling of Elizabeth’s eyes burning into the side of his face. “And I Tagan, feel it would be offensive if you were not willing to join us in a toast to our joint alliance. Unless... there’s something you’re hiding, or perhaps not telling us? He looked up, narrowing his eyes. “Why, for instance, did you feel the need to fetch the Peirra yourself, when up till now your demands have had the poor women run off their feet?” He was prevented from continuing by Elizabeth’s shrill voice cutting him off.

“Colonel,” The tone of her voice made him draw back slightly. Very rarely did she let herself get to the stage where she shook with rage, but John knew he had instigated it with his accusation. This knowledge, though, did not prevent him recoiling in shock at the cold fury she instilled into the words she spoke.

“How dare you deliver such a ridiculous accusation? I think it would be for the best if you waited for us in the jumper. Your presence is no longer desired nor wanted.”

John looked at her in disbelief, for once stunned into silence. Strangely, it was Tagan who spoke up in his defence.

“It’s okay Dr Weir, Colonel Sheppard is a soldier as I am, and it is his job to challenge any irregularities. If it will put your mind at rest Colonel, I will indeed drink along with you. He poured himself a glass of Peirra. “So let us toast to the success of our future alliance.”

John was not fooled by Tagan’s words however; even as he’d delivered his apology, the smile was missing from the Assistant Councillor’s eyes.

Their attention however was redirected to Darwin as he attempted to pacify the Atlanteans, but as they all turned to acknowledge the Chief Councillor, John was sure he caught a fleeting look of pure hatred in Tagan’s expression.

John wondered if Tagan was as keen on the alliance as Darwin thought. John, himself, had his own reservations; first the thing with Elizabeth, now this... Tagan troubled him and he had no intention of allowing the other man the chance to cause mischief. Frowning, John wished he had the means with which to communicate his feelings to the others, but with their attentions distracted it would be no easy task.

Realising Darwin was speaking, John forced himself to listen, whilst keeping a keen eye on Tagan.

“So shall we raise a toast then Colonel?” Darwin continued in his previous pleasant manner, not appearing in the least put off by the unpleasant banter. “Dr Weir seeing as there’s a tiny percentage of alcohol in the Peirra, maybe a cup of fresh cold water would be more appropriate?”

Elizabeth nodded her agreement and gratefully accepted the glass filled with fresh water. She turned her gaze on Sheppard, her green eyes flashing a warning, before she spoke up. “Is this okay for me to drink, or do you want this analyzed also Colonel?”

All eyes turned to John, waiting expectantly for his reaction.

He stood up and raised his glass. “We’ll toast to the alliance, but only if you join us Tagan.”Although the words were portrayed in a jovial manner, the meaning was clear.

However Tagan’s previous reluctance seemed to have dispersed. He immediately raised his cup to toast the success of the alliance, before proceeding to swallow the contents of his cup. Darwin and the Atlanteans, including John, did likewise.

As they went to sit down Tagan turned to directly face John, his eyes holding a challenge. “So Colonel Sheppard, do you still feel we are not to be trusted?”

It was Darwin who came to his rescue[]. “Tagan, Colonel Sheppard has not shown anything but fairness and sensitivity in what is obviously a difficult situation for him. I implore you to do likewise. It was after all yourself that acknowledged the need for him to take precautions as was fitting for a man in his position.”

Turning to John, he attempted to express his apologies, but John cut in. “It’s okay Darwin, I may have overstepped the mark slightly. To rekindle the previous warmth, I say we drink a further toast to our continuing friendship.”

John was determined not to let Tagan interfere. He was almost sure now that Tagan had definitely not wanted this alliance, but seeing as it was not Tagan but Darwin who was in charge, he would ensure they had as little dealings with Tagan as possible.

Looking up he caught Elizabeth giving him a look of admiration and felt a warm glow fill him as she smiled back at him. Her eyes were alive once again with their usual sparkle, and it was clear she had forgiven him for his earlier indiscretion. From that moment, the former relaxed atmosphere returned to the room. John found himself enthralled by the conversation with Darwin and looked forward to the chancellor’s own visit to Atlantis.He became engrossed in the tales of past alliances told by Darwin and was surprised when he realised they had already stayed much longer than he’d intended. Glancing across he noticed the shadows of fatigue on Elizabeth face and realized it was going to have to be himself that called an end to the meeting as she was to stubborn to give in to the obvious tiredness she was suffering from.

It was, however, during his observation of Elizabeth that he became aware of a sudden chill in the atmosphere between the two women and Tagan. The reason for it became clear as Teyla answered her concern obvious. “Tagan may I ask why you are questioning Dr Weir on this matter and how you come to know of its existence. It is not something the Atlanteans go around advertising.”

Immediately John’s worry and unease returned. “I’d also like to know the answer to that question, Tagan, and how the question of whether our child carries the gene, or not, is any business of yours?” John glared at him, not in the least amused. Teyla was correct, they did not go around advertising this piece of information, so how was Tagan a recipient of it?

Darwin looked confused and obviously irritated by Tagan’s indiscretion.
“Tagan why must you always upset visitors to our home. The Atlanteans have been excellent guests and you have gone out of your way to antagonise them. You are only succeeding in making me regret my decision in appointing you as Assistant Councillor.”

Tagan looked at Darwin in disbelief, his displeasure at being given a dressing down in front of the Atlanteans evident, but he for once remained silent.

The Chief Councillor wasn’t finished, however. “The Colonel has asked how you came about information that is obviously not meant to be discussed outside the confines of Atlantis. I would also like to know how you came by this information.”

Shrugging his shoulders, Tagan turned to look at John.” I was just curious that all.”

John, having recently developed a pounding headache, had little patience for Tagan’s vague answers. Through gritted teeth he growled “Never mind where you got the information, just tell me who you got it from.”

John stood up irritable, trying to shake off the tingling in his legs, putting it down to the long hours spent talking over the alliance. He was also becoming increasingly frustrated at Tagan’s reluctance to answer their questions. Not feeling comfortable with the sudden chilled atmosphere, John questioned Tagan further. “Where did you come across the knowledge of the ancient gene?” John’s voice held some of the aggression that was slowly building up inside of him. He was also feeling a bit disturbed at the strange tingling in his feet and hands, but pushed it aside again. He glanced over at Elizabeth, who was wringing her hands in front of her nervously, and gave John an appealing look

Elizabeth, obviously feeling the need for a reprieve from Tagan’s attention, started to rise, but was quickly stalled by the Assistant Councillor. “Dr Weir, it would be best if you sat down. You need your rest after all.”

Elizabeth gave him a cold look. “I am perfectly rested thank you. She looked over to John, “Colonel Sheppard, I think we have achieved all we can for today; it’s time we were returning home to Atlantis.”

Turning to Darwin she smiled warmly. “It has been a pleasure Darwin; I think our people will work well together. We must arrange at day for you to visit Atlantis so we can return your lovely hospitality.

Taking Elizabeth’s hand, Darwin kissed it gently. “It has been a pleasure also and I would very much like to see Atlantis. For now, though, I’m sure we’ve held your attention long enough and you must be longing to get back to your own people.”

Elizabeth again started to rise from the chair, unaware that Tagan was standing behind her until he harshly pushed her back down. She opened her mouth to speak aloud her annoyance, but John beat her to it. “Take you hands of my wife, Tagan, or so help me I’ll not be responsible for my actions.”

The cruel laugh that escaped from the Assistant Councillor only served to increase John’s fury, but as he attempted to get up and go to Elizabeth’s assistance, he was astonished to find the tingling that had previously been confined to his legs had now travelled through his body. His main concern, however, was the increasing numbness that had started to travel up his legs, making it impossible for him to stand.

He was not surprised to hear a furious shout from Darwin. “Tagan what have you done?” The Chief Councillor[] looked both appalled and furious, as he looked towards his assistant. The naked hatred in Tagan’s eyes made all of them draw in a sharp breath.

“I’ve only done what you haven’t the stomach for. I’m afraid it was necessary to ensure you consumed the poison also as your moral standards would have resulted in you trying to stop what I’m about to do.” He turned to John. “As you are aware by now, the paralysis is rapidly travelling through your blood stream. Everyone except myself and the lovely Dr Weir; which has worked out exactly as was planned. Don’t worry, it’s not permanent. It will, however, last long enough to buy us the time needed.

Looking around, John was further appalled to see the others were suffering from the same affliction. He frantically tried to think of a way out of what had become a very dangerous predicament, but without the ability to even stand, he was at a definite disadvantage; as were the others.

Elizabeth was therefore on her own and no match for the bulky Tronan. The situation was further curtailed due to her pregnancy. He was about to shout a word of warning but, before the words even left his mouth, Tagan had grabbed Elizabeth by the collar of her jacket, leaving her gasping for air as she pulled frantically at her rapidly tightening collar.

Tagan shook her viciously, as if she were a rat, before snarling at her. “Remain silent and still and I’ll let go. I warn you, though, if you so much as move, you’ll feel pain the likes of which you’ve never felt before. So what’s it to be, are you going to behave?”

Nodding, Elizabeth painfully gulped in air as the pressure was released from around her neck. She glared at Tagan, but knew now wasn’t the time for any attempt at heroics; instead she sat and listened to what Tagan had planned.

“Now to answer some of the questions I’m sure you’re dying to ask. Yes the drink was spiked with a drug that caused paralysis.” Turning to John, he sneered.

“I was forewarned about your suspicious nature, Colonel Sheppard, so I took precautions in case you insisted I drank it as well, which you of course did.”

He slowly walked around the room until he was standing beside John. Crouching down beside him, their faces were only a few inches apart, he spat at the Colonel. “Also it’s not me that wanted the information regarding the gene; it was someone that has become a very close ally, although I suppose you would disagree Darwin.”

He threw the Chief Councillor a look of disgust.” Do you really think I’d want any part in such a weak pathetic government? The arrogance of the previous government was a particularly nasty affliction, but at least they saw things how they should; maintaining their stance and position amongst the many pathetic calls for immunity and alliances. They wouldn’t have lowered themselves to accept the friendship of such an inferior race as those present in this room.”

Shaking his head in disbelief, Darwin was having difficulty in recognising the man in front of him as the same man he had only recently appointed as his assistant. This man seemed cold and distant; almost as if detached from reality. “Tagan, what gives you the right to challenge how things are run here? You do realise that when word of your treachery is revealed, you will have to suffer whatever sentence is placed upon you, which will be high in severity, of that I’m certain, unless you end this nonsense immediately.”

The laugh that came from Tagan was vicious and full of loathing. “It was I who should have had the position of chief councillor, but you cheated me out of it. I will have what’s rightfully mine, but not amongst the pathetic weaklings you have turned our people into.” He paced the room as he spoke. “No, I will be Councillor to a race of people whose bravery in the face of adversity I have long admired. All I had to do to gain this trusted position, was deliver Dr Weir to them.” He paused, to run his finger along her neck indicating the fate that was awaiting her. “So they can try her for war crimes. The sentence for which, if found guilty, is death by execution.”

He laughed loudly, revelling in the horrified expressions of the people around him. “You will know the people I’m talking about, Dr Weir, for under your leadership, great injustices have been inflicted upon them. They are the Genii, or to be more specific, Commander Kolya.”

Shouts of disbelief and fury filled the room. John looked at Elizabeth, although the increasing paralysis was already clouding his vision. She knew what he was implying. Run whilst you can. She immediately jumped up and made a grab for the door, but gave a cry of anguish as she feel backwards when the door was wrenched open from the other side. When she saw the person who had just entered she gasped and backed away, horrified before fleeing to John’s side.

John only just managed to raise his right arm but it was enough to allow her to soak in the comfort from the warmth that oozed from him. His heart bled at what he saw in her eyes. They were filled with immense sorrow and fear and John was helpless to do anything to protect her. The only thing he could do was to try and offer her words of hope. “Elizabeth, wherever they take you, never let go of the thought that we’ll find you. Promise me. You can’t give up, no matter how desperate things become, you must remain strong.”

Elizabeth nodded as she hugged him. He felt the warmth of her breath as it hit the coolness of his skin around his neck, and felt the wetness of the tears that streamed down her face and trickling on to his collar. “I’m so sorry John, I should have believed you. I do love you and always will. If they let me live, I’ll never give up hope. I promise. But John, I need a promise from you in return.”

John stared at her a questioningly.

“You have to promise me, John, that you won’t waste your life seeking revenge if they do kill me. Atlantis needs you now; as do our people. It’s to you they will look for guidance. I need you to do this for me John, please.”

“You’re not going to die, Elizabeth, it’s just talk. They’ll probably throw you in some dark damp cell which will feel like hell, but we’ll not be far behind.”
They were interrupted by the footsteps of the one person they regretted not killing when they had the change. As he crouched down beside them, an evil smile filled his face, his eyes empty of any compassion or remorse.

“Well now, this is a rather fetching scene, charged with so much emotion. It almost seems a pity to spoil it, but I’m afraid I must. Dr Weir if you please. You’ve had time to say your goodbyes, now it’s time to leave.”

“Elizabeth gasped, but stood up, showing no sign of the terror she felt.

“Commander Kolya, I don’t know what this is about, but I can assure you I have no intention of going anywhere with you.”

Kolya smiled, marvelling at the show of strength coming from this woman, but knowing that he would have his wish. “Dr Weir, know one thing, on this you have no choice. You can either come willingly, or you can be taken by force, but come you will. The choice is yours, although I must say it’d be a pity to mark that beautiful soft skin, prematurely. I was keeping that pleasure for after your trial.” He took a few steps towards her and Elizabeth immediately shrunk back, desperately looking for some means of escape, but found none.

John was raging, “Kolya keep away from her or I’ll...”

“Or you’ll what Colonel Sheppard? I don’t think you’re in any position to stop me. A word of advice, don’t try to fight the onset of the paralysis as it passes through your body, it only makes it worse. Don’t worry; it will pass in approximately twelve hours or so;[] ample time for us to be long gone. He laughed, without displaying humour. As John tried in vain to get up on to his feet, he simply collapsed in an undignified heap.

“And don’t bother looking for the lovely Doctor; I’m afraid this is a final goodbye from both Dr Weir and your child. No matter where you search you will never find them.” Grinning vindictively, he continued. “She’ll be tried in her rightful role as the leader of Atlantis and as such, held accountable for crimes against my people. Unfortunately, if found guilty, and of that there’s no doubt, she’ll be submitted to public beatings until she’s near death, then will be executed.”

He motioned with his head and the room immediately became over run by Kolya’s men, rogue Genii who had deserted from their own military. They quickly overpowered Elizabeth and although she struggled bravely, she was soon bound and gagged.

“Kolya, it’s me you want, not Dr Weir.” Pleaded John. “I was the one who killed your men. Take me instead.”

“Don’t think I haven’t thought about taking both of you, but this way I get revenge on you both. You’ll be the one who’ll suffer for what will seem an eternity, where as for Dr Weir, there will be initial pain, but it will end, eventually. You, however, will suffer daily torment, wondering how much, or how she suffered before she was put to death. That will be my legacy to you.”

John fought against the cloudiness that was impairing his vision. “Kolya don’t do this, what joy will you derive from beating a woman? It’ll only succeed in making you look weak. So be sensible; it’d benefit you more if you took me and left Elizabeth.”

Kolya smiled evilly, but did not reply.

John was incensed. “Kolya you do this and I’ll find you no matter where you hide and when I do, I swear I’ll show you no mercy. KOLYA! I’ll make sure you die a long and painful, drawn out death.”

Kolya stopped for a moment, “I’ll be waiting, Colonel Sheppard.”

He[] motioned for his men to bring Elizabeth. Although she was gagged, John could still hear her heart rendering shout that appeared to come from her very soul, as she was dragged violently from the room. Her eyes only managed to lock briefly with John’s as he shouted her name, then she was gone, lost to him for what could be forever. But he couldn’t give up. No, he’d never give up looking for her; even if it took him an eternity, he’d bring her home.

He’d promised he’d find her and he intended to honour that promise. Otherwise, the last expression in her eyes, filled with fear and desperation, would haunt him to his grave, and even more so during the dark, bleak, months ahead.

Chapter End Notes: Can those closest to him prevent John falling into the deep depths of despair and sorrow.

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