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Trust, CH I

<<< Back to Trust, Prologue

 

“And how, exactly, did we miss this?” Sheppard asked, looking at the screen with a frown on his face.

“It’s not like we were on high alert for them or anything,” Rodney returned.

“We’re in Pegasus, Rodney—when are we ever not on high alert for the Wraith?”

“I think what Rodney means is that we did not have our sensors attuned for something so close,” Zelenka said, interrupting Rodney before he had a chance to speak. Rodney narrowed his eyes, but the Czech ignored him. “Everything was set to scan for long range. We were not anticipating a Hive within our sector that we did not detect when we first landed here.”

“So why didn’t we pick it up then?” asked Woolsey.

“I don’t know,” Rodney shrugged. “They didn’t appear on any of our sensors.”

“And you didn’t sense anything, either?” said Sheppard, glancing at Teyla.

She shook her head. “I did not pick up its presence until it was quite nearby.”

“It is possible they were newly formed,” said the Genii. She and the rest of the Pegasus Coalition members were standing to the side, watching their conversation with interest.

“Newly formed?”

“We have noticed many new ships,” said the representative from Hoff, whose name escaped Rodney.

“And so they continue to grow in numbers,” said Richard.

“Despite our best efforts to the contrary,” Sheppard said, his hand ghosting towards the cut on his forehead, the reminder of the massive, almost deadly space battle they’d just engaged in.

Rodney swallowed.

“Was this not something the Coalition could have brought up before?” Woolsey asked, almost innocently, though Rodney knew the expedition Head’s sharp mind was probably playing coy.

“It has not happened often,” the Genii woman returned. “They have only begun to do so recently. But we believe these Hives are created to accommodate the numbers. Many now serve as precursory patrols or storage units for the Hives from which they were formed and are not controlled independently.”

“So what you’re saying is that this Hive may be nothing more than a scouting ship?” Woolsey asked, studying the screen.

“Or a really big refrigerator,” Sheppard said.

“It is possible they have entered this area simply to pass through,” she replied, with a flip of her hair. “If they are not looking, they would have no reason to sense you now.”

“Well, we’re cloaked,” said John. “And we’ve got the City on complete operational silence until they have passed on.”

“We do not need to be visible for the Wraith to sense our presence,” said Teyla softly. As the group turned to her, she crossed her arms. “You are forgetting our guest.”

John flipped his head back, eyes closing in consternation. “Todd.”

“Who is ‘Todd’?’ asked the Hoffan.

“He’s a Wraith we captured,” said John.

“You have a Wraith in this City?” The Hoffan’s eyes narrowed. “A live Wraith in residence?”

“We prefer to think of him as our live prisoner in residence,” John retorted. “We need to stun him. No point in taking chances.” He stepped away, presumably to radio the Marines down by Todd’s cell.

The Genii watched him go before turning back to Teyla. “You have the Athosian Gift, do you not?”

Teyla met her gaze with a cold one. “I do.”

“I understand from what has been said that it can be used…”

“Unless I reach out to the Wraith with my mind I am in little danger of being sensed by them. I do not plan to do so at this moment. If you will excuse me,” she said sharply, directing her gaze to Richard, “I need to check on my son. He has been without both of his parents for quite some time.”

“Of course,” Richard replied. Teyla nodded to him and Kanaan once, then left quickly down the main stair. Rodney stole a glance at Kanaan, who watched her retreat.

“You must excuse Teyla,” the Athosian said finally. “The negotiations with our people continue to be very trying.”

“Done,” John said, moving back to the group. “Sleeping beauty is…sleeping. So what do we do about this guy?” He gestured to the blip on the monitor, which had barely moved since they first observed it.

“It doesn’t look like it’s spotted us. My thought is that it may just be doing as Mayel mentioned, patrolling. So long as we remain on silent we should be safe,” Richard said.

“That does mean,” John’s gaze flipped towards the Coalition members, “no gating in or out. For safety’s sake.”

“So we are stuck here,” Shiana replied flatly, a deep frown on her face. “In the Ancestor’s City. With your people.”

“Could be worse,” Sheppard returned. “We do have clean sheets here. And Jell-o.”

“Gel-oh? What is Gel-oh?”

“A food of the Ancestors,” John grinned, his smiled directed at the Genii. “Wait until you taste it.” She returned his smile, to which Rodney rolled his eyes.

“In the meanwhile, prior to lunch? I believe we can continue our discussions,” said Richard. “Doctor McKay will keep us informed of any further developments.”

“Sure,” Rodney said snidely. “No problem. Glad to be of service.” As the group walked away he turned back to the monitor. “One mistake and all of a sudden I’m the City watchdog.”

Kanaan was the last of the gathering to follow Woolsey, his gaze lingering on the landing for a moment. Rodney felt a little sorry for him. Couldn’t be easy, playing peacemaker between your—wife-companion-person and your people. Or representing them with the PC Crew.

“Teyla’s spirits have not improved,” Zelenka commented, tapping on the console below the sensor.

“Really? You don’t say,” Rodney replied. “Seriously, why would they? I mean, you return home only to find your worst fears confirmed: that most of your people have been culled by the Wraith and that the remainder hate you and want no part of you anymore? What exactly is there to be happy about?”

“At least some of her people are alive.”

“Yeah. But they don’t want her. Could you imagine? Can’t be easy.”

Zelenka made a face. “I suppose not.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

Rodney went back to his City-wide scans, one eye glancing up at the monitor with the Wraith Hive, hoping that what Woolsey had predicted was the truth—and that their preparations were not about to be tested so soon.

 

--/--

 

Teyla threw her hand up over her door panel, welcoming the familiar beeps. It was good, despite the detachment she felt from Atlantis at the moment, to return to one place where she could find peace.

The door slid open, revealing the comforting scent of the candles that decorated her and Kanaan’s room—in the middle of which Jennifer Keller sat cross-legged on the floor, watching a toddling Torren throw a ball in her direction.

Despite her fatigue and sadness, Teyla could not help but smile.

Torren turned towards the sound of her footsteps, his eyes lighting with delight at her presence. Jennifer rose slowly, a kind smile upon her face. “Hey. Amelia needed to go back to work early—Rodney insisted—so…”

“It is fine,” Teyla said, half in response, bending towards the child that now walked to her. “I am glad to see you.”

“How did it go?” asked the chief of medicine. Teyla’s eyes must have said enough, for the smile faded from the young woman’s face. “Not good?”

“It has been difficult,” Teyla managed to whisper. “They are not…the situation is…difficult.”

Jennifer nodded, placing her hands on her hips. “Well, here’s someone who’s not been difficult. Have you? Not at all.” She reached a hand out to Torren, who smiled, now balanced in Teyla’s arms. “He’s been quiet, actually, in the last few minutes.”

Teyla’s small smile faded. “There is a Wraith Hive ship nearby. It may be affecting him.”

Jennifer’s eyes widened. “A Hive ship? Here? Near this planet?”

“It only just appeared. But I could sense the proximity of the Wraith on board when it drew close enough. I have no doubt Torren can sense it as well.”

“They wouldn’t be able to do anything to him, would they? Sense him or something?”

“It took many attempts for me to be able to control my…’gift’…to the point where I could use it to connect to the Wraith and they to me. Torren is too young, I believe, to pose any threat.”

“But Michael did say he was pretty strong, right? He might be able to…”

“He is fine and it is no concern of yours,” she snapped.

Jennifer’s eyes widened as Torren’s smile dropped from his face. “I’m sorry, I just…”

Teyla sighed. Her irritation and sadness was affecting Torren and forcing itself upon those who did not deserve it. “I…no, it is I who am sorry. Forgive my rudeness; this has been a trying time.”

“No need for apologies,” Jennifer replied, her smile returning. “Just…get some rest, okay? If you need help with this little guy,” she toyed with Torren’s finger for a moment, causing him to giggle. “Let me know.”

“Thank you, Jennifer.”

The medic smiled, moving past her to the door. Teyla watched her go, her face crumpling into a frown as Torren tugged at her hair. She kissed him, pulling him close, and his little arms wrapped around her neck.

 

--/--

 

When Todd awoke, it was to the presence of John at his feet, arms crossed. “Good morning, sleepyhead.”

“Was such a measure necessary?” Todd said groggily, pulling to a seated position within the cage that served as his current quarters.

“Probably not. But it felt good.”

“Perhaps, had you been the one employing the use of the stunner.”

“No, then it wouldn’t have just felt good, it would have been fun.”

“Why are you here, Sheppard?”

“To ask if there is a reason why we should have to do something like that again. No doubt you know there is a Hive ship pretty close to the City, definitely within communication distance. Now, are we going to have a problem?”

The Wraith studied him for a moment; John could swear his hackles were almost raised. If he had hackles.

The standoff didn’t last long. Todd’s shoulders sagged, and he glanced away. “Contacting the Hive would serve no purpose. My confinement here would be considered a threat to them, and they would kill me as swiftly as they would kill all of you. I would gain nothing from alerting them to our presence.”

“Figured as much. Still…”

“I will not betray you again, John Sheppard. I have no reason now.”

John raised his chin. The Wraith certainly looked worn down and disheartened, but this particular Wraith had a very good track record of deception.

“If he even looks like he’s meditating,” John said to the two Marines stationed at the cage door, “remind him of his naptime.”

The sentries nodded. Todd relaxed back onto the cot situated in his ‘quarters’, face turned to the side. If there were such a thing as pity for the Wraith, John might have felt it. Until he remembered the last ten times the Wraith, including this one, had double-crossed, manipulated, and harmed them.

Then it made the current situation seem a great deal ‘nicer’ than it might have been considered at first glance.

 

--/--

 

Teyla breathed in the deep, refreshing scent of the herbs that burned slowly near her bedside, welcoming in the peaceful dark that accompanied meditation. The times she was able to have a restful meditation seemed, as John would say, few and far between, following the birth of Torren. This night, knowing her state of mind, Kanaan had generously offered to sit with the child long enough to afford her the necessary break from their daily lives.

She heard the door lock beep and the sound of Kanaan’s footsteps move through the doorway as it slid open. She opened her eyes slowly, letting the room return to focus before searching for him. He stood over Torren’s crib, laying the baby down for the night.

Teyla waited a few moments before uncurling her body from its folded position, allowing awareness and circulation to return to the muscles. Kanaan smiled down at the sleeping child, warming her heart, though the burden of these last few weeks still remained heavily upon it. That they had these times, with their family, despite the sadness of their current situation, gave her a strength she could not have found anywhere else.

He sensed her sorrow and moved to her, bending down to sit beside her as she unfolded her legs and stretched. She relaxed into him as he drew her close, his lips kissing the top of her head before he rested his cheek against her hair. “He will sleep well, tonight.”

“His day has been trying.”

“This day has been trying for us all.”

They reclined in silence for a moment more, before Kanaan drew his head from hers, tilting his chin to meet her eyes. “You can still sense them?”

“Yes.” Her hand floated to her chest. “Their location has not changed much. They remain close by. Can you?”

He nodded, turning towards the crib. “He seems to be sensing them as well.”

She followed his gaze. “Yes. His gift is strong, as we knew it would be.”

His eyes asked her the question Jennifer had earlier. She swallowed. “We do not know that it is what Michael hoped it would be. It may just be the sense of things, nothing more.”

“I do not fear for him now,” Kanaan replied. “He is yet too young for the Wraith to be able to affect him. But I worry for his future—for what they might be able to do as he grows. We do not know all that Michael did while you carried him.”

She squeezed his hand. “Doctor Keller said as much to me this afternoon, when I returned from Athos. I snapped at her and grew angry for no reason.”

He drew her closer once more. “There is a reason for you to be upset, Teyla, and Doctor Keller is aware of that. They will forgive you for your actions at this moment, no matter what you say.”

Tears pricked her eyelids. “Yes. I know they understand. But I fear it will not be enough.”

She felt him tense slightly. “You are thinking of leaving Atlantis?”

Such a discussion had never been brought up between them, and she looked at him in surprise. His calm gaze studied her, and she realized his being aware of such thoughts simply demonstrated how much he cared.

It warmed her heart.

“I…do not know. I care for them very much…but they…they are not our people.”

His other arm wrapped around her, and she relaxed into him, her arms entwining with his.

Her voice was tinged with her pain and sadness when she finally spoke. “Our people are so angry, Kanaan. Angry with me and with what has happened to them. How can I stay here, safe and protected behind the walls of Atlantis, when they live chased by the Wraith? The fault of which is mine.

“That is not true. You did everything you could, for all of us. And all of us—all of us—agreed to the choices that were made. What has happened is unfortunate, but it is not solely your fault.”

“I was their leader. They may have agreed to what I proposed, but it was I who forced the choice upon them. And in some things…in some things I bear full responsibility. Such as Michael and the consequence of my desire to show him mercy. What has happened because of that was not the will of our people. That fault was mine. The responsibility is mine. And I ran away from them when most they needed my protection.” Her voice cracked. “I do not blame them for their feelings. They have every reason to despise me.”

“They do not despise you. They are…lost. Fearful. And they know not where to turn. It will take time to repair those feelings, but they do not wish to abandon you. You know this.” His embrace tightened. “You know this.”

She lifted her head, meeting his eyes. Their expression was warm, and kind, a trait of Kanaan that had earned him so much respect and love among their people. Forgiving, even when there was so much to forgive. Kind beyond words. She felt the sadness fade slightly in his presence.

He smiled gently at her, his fingers clearing the trail of tears from her cheeks. “You are Athosian. That is something you will never cease to be. Of that you have always been proud. And because of it, you have risked much—and done so much more for them than can ever be said. They will remember this, too—with time. Give them that time, Teyla.”

Her smiled trembled as she looked up at him; thankful for his presence and for everything he had given her. So much more than she felt she could ever truly appreciate.

She lifted her lips to his, welcoming the comfort, and for the moment the peace, his closeness would bring her.

 

--/--

 

The world grew dark and cold. The cold was familiar, unforgiving as it had been in her childhood, the one that she could not escape, no matter the strength of the fire or the warmth of the night.

Teyla could see nothing in front of her; darkness obscured the light in every direction. Her hands reached for Kanaan but she could not sense his presence; he was gone, like everything else, into the unending void that surrounded her. She knew she was in a dream, though it did not prevent the fear from rising in her heart.

Something was calling to her.

She froze, feeling her muscles tense reflexively for defense, though she could not sense the direction of the danger. There was no sound, no odor upon the air, just the unforgiving blackness that would not let her breathe.

Her mind drew to the call, knowing it posed a threat and yet aware that if she did not chase it, she would not escape. Her eyes closed, and the darkness grew within her.

The sounds of a voice still drifted upon the air, and she turned her mind towards it, trying to draw it out of the blackness. It was familiar. Dangerous.

And yet she had no choice.

Teyla.

Her eyes opened, expecting the unforgiving dark, but instead found the world had become a mess of shadows and gray, rolling like fog around her. Her eyes searched the murk, feeling the presence draw closer, her heart racing as the coldness sank deeper into her chest.

“Teyla Emmagan.”

She turned. Standing before her, the fog curling around his form, was Todd.

“Your Gift remains strong, I see.”

“What do you want?” She took a step forward, keenly aware of his presence. She could feel the frustration buried beneath his cool exterior, the desire to be free once more. And the hunger. Always there was hunger with them, though apparently he controlled it well enough in the waking world.

Her own frustration grew as she realized what he was doing. “This is dangerous to make such a strong connection. We do not know if the Hive can sense us. We may be putting all of Atlantis in danger.”

“Unless we reach out to them directly, they will not sense us.”

“You do not know that for certain. They have sensed the Gift before, without provocation, if it is used.”

“If it is strong enough,” Todd said. “You are reminded of the Queen who sensed you beneath Atlantis.”

She swallowed. “I am much stronger than I was then.”

“You do not need to remind me of your strength. It was for this reason that I have risked this contact with you.”

“You could have done so without using the gift.”

“I did not wish for the Lanteans to know.”

“You have no guarantee that I will not tell them.”

“Then I will be killed. And you will never be given the opportunity to locate the remainder of your people.”

As she looked at him questioningly, his smile faded. “You know what the Hive above us lacks. You can sense what they are missing.”

She swallowed. It was true; there was a sense that something was missing. An emptiness she had never felt before, near a Hive. Something disorganized, as though their strength was not concentrated, but spread among the many minds that occupied the space.

It suddenly occurred to her what it could be, and she met his gaze with astonishment. “There is no Queen.”

Todd’s smile returned. “There is not.”

She studied him for a moment, crossing her arms. “And why does this concern me? What difference does it make?”

“Because,” the Wraith said as he drew closer, and the coldness in her bones deepened. “A Hive without a Queen may be in need of one.”

What he was proposing sent a chill through her that had nothing to do with his presence. “No. I cannot do that. Not again.”

“You are afraid?”

“No. But they…they will not let me.”

“You refer to Atlantis? I believe you are mistaken.”

“You do not know them.”

“I know them well enough. To board the Hive and assume the position of Queen once more will allow you to find all you need of the plans of the Wraith. Everything Atlantis needs to know of their true numbers and their position in this galaxy. Information vital to their operation and their war against them.” He smiled once more. “I do not believe they will pass up this opportunity, not even with their desire to protect you.”

Teyla studied him for a moment, her eyes narrowing. “And my people? What have they to do with this?”

“If you are Queen, you can find where the Wraith are keeping them.”

She backed away from him, a humorless smiled gracing her face. “You think me such a fool? My people are gone. The Wraith took them.”

“No.” Todd circled behind her, laughing a bitter laugh. “They would have you believe that. But the experiments of the one you call Michael provided many more questions than answers. Before I returned to Atlantis, I was made aware of a discovery by the Wraith that your people who survived the experiments performed by him were immune to the plague because of their genetic alterations. That their DNA was combined with Wraith DNA was of particular significance. Their blood may provide a key to the preservation of our species and the Wraith are more than aware of that.” He drew closer to her, staring down into her eyes. “You can be certain that your people are of the greatest interest. They will not be killed until the source of their immunity is discovered. It is more than likely why they were targeted. They are alive, Teyla Emmagan. Your people live.”

She narrowed her eyes. “And you thought not to make me or Atlantis aware of this sooner?”

“I could not be certain,” he replied coyly. “I was not even aware your people were missing until a short time ago. But you can make certain by assuming control of the Hive above us. By becoming their Queen.”

“And what of you?” she asked. “Why would you wish to help me do this? What do you gain?”

“I will assume my rightful position as your first in command, as I did before. Gaining control of this Hive—and, in turn, the others that once belonged to me.”

“John will never agree to let you leave.”

“Sheppard will have no choice. If I do not accompany you, you will not be able to convince the Hive of your position. The temptation of gaining a significant advantage over the Wraith in this galaxy by learning of their locations will be too great, even for him. He will choose the knowledge he may gain from my release. And the aid the Coalition shall receive when I attempt to regain power over my Hive. Or rather, yours.”

She looked at him sideways, beneath hooded eyes. “You have no guarantee he will release you to do this. Or that you will not be killed, once your purpose has been served.”

“You are remembering how to play the part already.” He grinned broadly, his teeth glimmering in the half-light. “I am aware there is no guarantee. But there has never been, has there? That is a risk, for your people, which you will have to take. And which I will have to take as well. But, I find that Atlantis has been more trustworthy than not, despite our past…disagreements.”

The fog around them began to lift. Todd stepped backwards. “I cannot convince Sheppard without your assistance. All that remains is the question—what will your choice be?”

He disappeared as the gray light around them swirled into a bright, whiter dawn.

 

--/--

 

Teyla bolted upright, catching her breath as the candles around her played with her vision. Kanaan, beside her, sat up much more slowly, reaching out a hand to her form. At the feel of her clammy skin he drew close to her. “Teyla? Is all well?”

She dared not look at him lest he sense the concern on her face, choosing, instead, to focus on slowing her breath. “I am fine. It was a nightmare. I am sure it is because the Hive Ship remains so near.”

“Teyla…”

As her breath slowed, she mustered up a smile, tilting her head towards him, though she still dared not look at his face. “I am fine, I promise. Please, go back to sleep.”

He squeezed her arm, settling back upon their bed.

She lay back as well, drawing the sheets tighter around her chest, sleep gone from her. Todd’s words hung in her head. Though she trusted little of what he said, she could not chase away the hope that remained in her heart over what she had heard.

They are alive, Teyla Emmagan. Your people live.

Your people live.

 

>>> To be continued in Trust, CH II

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