Elizabeth's eyes snapped open, and she was suddenly wide awake and very disoriented. She blinked as her eyesight adjusted to the near-darkness, and she tried to get her bearings. She was lying in a low bed by the far wall of a small wooden hut.
Where the hell am I?
Finally, the memories pierced her groggy brain. The negotiations. Yes, she remembered now. The Goran people had been willing to trade a significant portion of their harvest, but their price had been too high. Elizabeth had insisted on coming to the planet to negotiate with the Goran leader. John hadn't been too happy about that.
She sighed when she remembered the particularly heated argument they'd had in her office after she'd made the decision.
"Doctor, we've only just met these people, and we don't know for sure if we can really trust them. You're the leader of this expedition…we can't afford to gamble with your life!"
She'd expected an objection from him and was prepared to defend her decision. She squared her shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. "Yes, Colonel, I am the leader of this expedition. I am also the most qualified person to negotiate a more favorable agreement with these people, one that doesn't involve giving them access to all our technology."
Apparently, John wasn't listening. "Do I have to remind you of what happened the last time you went offworld for a negotiation? You were almost arrested and fed to the Wraith!" He was practically shouting now.
"We need those supplies, John! Let me do my job!" They stared at each other across her desk, neither one willing to back down on this.
Finally, John spoke. "Fine," he said without breaking eye contact or softening his expression in the slightest, "but for the record, I don't like this at all." She gave a small nod, and he left the office without another word.
Elizabeth didn't like fighting with Sheppard, but he could be so damned pig-headed sometimes! As it turned out, she was right. The negotiations had gone very well; the Goran leader was impressed, and a little unnerved, that the leader of Atlantis herself had come to take over the dialog, especially when she began by pointing out that she was not happy with the current arrangement.
However, even with her intimidation of Councilor Sloane, the negotiations had progressed slowly. It had taken over four hours to hammer out all the details. When they finally finished, it was almost dark, and the Gorans had insisted that Elizabeth and the others stay the night. John opened his mouth to politely refuse, but Elizabeth beat him to it. She'd wanted to display a show of trust to make up for any hard feelings left over from the negotiations (they hadn't all been pleasant words on her part).
The Gorans seemed pleased, but John definitely was not. The only thing that had saved them from another argument had been the Goran ritual dinner, after which they had been shown immediately to their rooms. Apparently the natives had rules about men and women staying on different sides of the camp at night…once again, John was decidedly not happy.
Trying not to think of the inevitable argument tomorrow on board the puddlejumper, Elizabeth focused on remembering what had woken her up in the first place. She had almost decided that she had been dreaming, when she heard it again. It sounded like someone was creeping around the corner of her little hut!
She froze. The hairs were rising on the back of her neck, and she heard the blood pounding in her ears. She couldn't just sit here and wait for someone to come charging into her room.
As quietly as possible, she slipped her feet over the edge of the bed and into the standard-issue combat boots that John always made her wear offworld. She crept across the room and stopped just to the side of the only opening in the small building. Hesitating only a moment, she took hold of the cloth covering that served as a door and moved it slightly to the side. Taking a deep breath, she peered slowly around the edge and scanned the side of the building…nothing.
Just as she started to turn her head and check the other side, a rough hand clamped over her mouth. Before she could even begin to react, a huge arm had wrapped around her body, pinning her arms to the sides and pressing her back against the solid wall of a very large, very muscular man.
Heart pounding, she tried to think back to the self-defense lessons Teyla had given her months ago. Kicking and squirming, she struggled to break free of the man's strong grasp.
Suddenly, the Stargate whooshed to life and flooded the entire area with bluish light. Blinking against the sudden illumination, she realized that she was not the only one in this situation. Five other men were dragging struggling young women toward the now-open gate. Elizabeth's eyes widened in fear and panic took over all rational thought as she realized that in a few moments she would go through the stargate…and John would have no way to trace her. She had to get free, now!
Desperation sank in as they inched closer to the shimmering pool, and she stomped down on her captor's foot with all the strength she could muster. He didn't release her arms, but he was distracted long enough for her to wrench her head free and call for help.
"Colonel Sheppard!" The man tried to get his hand over her mouth again, but she stomped down in the exact place as before, making him curse in pain. "Colonel!"
They were about a foot from the gate when she finally saw him, running down the path, P-90 in hand and boots still untied. She struggled more fiercely, but she knew it was a lost cause. "John!"
She heard him yell her name just before the wormhole closed around her, and she prayed he would get to the DHD before the gate shut down. It was all she could hope for now.