Chapter One

"Shit," John whispered. He fired another barrage of bullets with his P90 around the tree he was hiding behind. "Teyla," he said while scanning the forest ahead, "That last explosive was way to close to Rodney and Ronan's position. I think they've made them."

"I noticed Colonel, but we are also pinned down and extremely outnumbered," she said while reloading her weapon.

Not to mention fucked. "I know. Look Rodney and Ronan are closer to the stargate."

"And you want us to draw the enemy fire and give them a chance to gate to Atlantis and bring back some help," she said over gunfire.

John smiled, "Am I that predictable?"

She finished firing another burst. "No, I just know how you think."

"So we agree then," he asked while checking their supplies. Not too good. Only two grenades left, and 1 clip for each of us.

"I think it is the best chance we have of surviving. John.," she said wearily.

"Yeah." Wiping sweat from his brow he handed Teyla her share of the ammunition and picked up his radio.

"Mckay, this is Sheppard come in," his heart skipped a beat when all he heard was static.

Teyla swallowed and held her breath for what seemed like an eternity.

"I'm a little busy at the moment Colonel, so unless you have a plan…."

John was so relived he ignored the sarcasm. "I'm glad you mentioned plan Rodney. You and Ronan are going to make a run for the gate. Before you start telling me how stupid it is just listen . Teyla and I are going to draw their fire and take the heat off of the two of you. When you get the gate don't wait for us, just dial and leave. We'll try to follow but….look just bring back reinforcements."

"That's insane, you two will be killed, there's got to be another way," Mckay's voice was on the verge of being panicked.

"Rodney if you two don't go, we'll all die and you know it, this is an order Mckay," he said with finality.

There was a pause, "Fine, but you better not get yourselves killed. You still owe me twenty dollars from last weeks poker game."

John shared a sad smile with Teyla. "We'd miss you too Rodney."

The radio crackled to life, "Just….be careful."

John closed his eyes and took a deep breath, "As soon as Teyla and I draw them out, take off and don't stop until your home."

"Understood, Mckay out."

John felt Teyla's hand rest on his arm. "Are you ready," he asked.

She loaded her last clip into the gun and nodded.

"I'll throw my grenade to get their attention, once they start after us we'll head northwest, toward that tree line. Using the forest for cover we should be able to make it to those caves we saw about a half a mile from here. Probably our best chance of holding out until the others get back." He met her eyes, and saw all his doubts reflected right back at him. "I'm aware how insane this is, and that our chances are pretty slim but,"

"Colonel," she interrupted, "I believe it is a good idea under the circumstances. Besides, it could be worse, you might have had Dr. Mckay here instead of me," she forced a light tone to her voice.

"You always can find the bright side in any situation." He studied her mud streaked face and couldn't help but think she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. There's so much I wish I would have told you. Now I might never get the chance. John shook his head and focused. "Now before those two find another argument against this lets go."

Crawling on his belly through the tall grass he saw three possibly more of the aliens. You could mistake them for human until you saw their third eyeball on their foreheads. How the hell did things go so wrong, John asked himself as he pulled the pin and prepared to toss the grenade.

30 minutes earlier

Colonel Sheppard couldn't understand how such a primitive looking city housed a race of people who claimed to have technology they'd be interested in. acquiring. The architecture was about as advanced as Earth, about a couple hundred years ago. The dirt road that ran through the so called city was lined by wooden hut after wooden hut, no more than two stories high. No running water here that's for sure. So what they build shields or something but leave their city back in the dark ages. Doesn't make sense to me. I have a bad feeling about this place. And how did they learn to make projectile weapons, and not figure out indoor plumbing. I'm probably just overreacting.

" Hey Teyla, you know anything about these people?"

She turned her gaze off the colorful tapestry she had been studying and shook her head. "I am sorry Colonel, the Athosians never had any dealings with the Kitchak. I wish we had, they are very artistically inclined.

John glanced at the piece she was referring to. "You like that huh?"

"I do, the purples and blues give it such a serene effect, do you like it," she asked while caressing the cloth with her fingers.

John shrugged, "I don't know it kind of creeps me out. That huge eye in the center, makes me think it's staring at me." He smiled when she turned toward him, "Then again," he stepped closer to her, "Maybe it's staring at you, probably never seen such a work of art."

Her eyes widened and she ducked her head trying to hide the smile that graced her lips.

"John when we get back …"

"Colonel, Teyla you've got to see this. It's amazing. I've never seen such engineering. You never would have guessed this culture would be so advanced from the scans we took of the landscape. I just thought it would be another dead end, boring planet but was I wrong. There's….."

"Rodney for Pete's sake. Take a breath would you," John snapped.

Ronan stepped in front of Mckay. "They have an invention that can prevent the wraith from being able to drain your life force."

"I was going to say that," the scientist pouted.

"I'm sure you were… at some point. That sounds good Lead the way Rodney. By the way," he leaned close to Mckay as they walked, "Did anyone ever tell you, you have the worst since of timing."

"What are you talking about," he asked.

"Nothing, just you know…." he inclined his head toward Teyla who was talking quietly to Ronan.

"Oh," he looked at Teyla, "Oh… oh, so did you finally ask her, you know?"

"Well see I was going to, and then someone interrupted us," he replied.

"Okay well next time I discover something that could possibly have a life altering impact on our lives I'll make sure you're not in the middle of something before I tell you," he countered.

"You're right, hey speaking of women you going out with what's her name again," John teased.

Mckay's face turned beat red and he muttered something then sped up until he was a good two feet in front the Colonel.

"What is wrong with Dr. Mckay," Teyla asked having witnessed his discomfort.

John waved his hand dismissively, "Oh you know, it's just Rodney."

She flashed him a mischievous smile, "Nothing you said I am sure."

He put on his most innocent face, "Me, of course not. I'm Mr. Sensitive." He bumped against her gently with his shoulder.

"Behave," she said her voice playful.

"It's in that building there," Ronan's deep voice came from behind them.

A hut, no more than eight feet tall stood in front of them. The roof was made of a straw like material and there were no windows. The hair on the back of John's neck began to stand up. Something just didn't feel right about all this. No guards, and these people had to know how valuable this device would be to others. Didn't they worry about it getting stolen.

"Hey Rodney."

"Yes Colonel," he said stopping and allowing John to catch up to him.

"I'm just curious did you actually see this device or did they just tell you about it."

"Oh, they showed me a prototype of one of them. I didn't actually go in there and see it yet, they wanted the commanding officer there to make decisions whether or not we would be willing to…"his voice trailed off as Sheppard's face hardened.

"Rodney….damn it," he turned away from Mckay's confused face.

He was going to alert his team to a possible threat when the gunfire started. It was coming from the hut in front of them. Diving behind a rock he screamed, "Move, take cover in the forest.," while he layed down cover fire as he watched Mckay and Dex take off towards the trees.

"We need to move too Colonel," he realized Teyla was next to him firing as well.

Thank god the forest is so close and that those bastards are lousy shots, or we'd be dead already. He nodded and using a few grenades he and Teyla managed to retreat into the woods without a single wound.

They plowed through the muddy, foliage invested woods. Teyla tripped on a root and landed face first in a pile of mud. Bending to help her up he felt bullets fly over their heads and could hear them tearing the trees around them apart. "I think that fall of yours just saved our asses. You okay."

"I have not been shot if that's what you mean," she said struggling to get the dirt out of her eyes.

"Let's head for that large tree over there, it should provide some cover. Maybe we can locate the others."

Present Time

The grenade exploded showering John with dirt and leaves. Teyla immediately began firing from her position across from him. As the dust cleared he could make out the silhouettes of six Kitchak each well armed, and heading straight for his position. That got their attention. Move your ass John. He took off towards the cave constantly darting between trees praying they would provide some protection from enemy fire. He leapt over a fallen tree and rolled as he hit the ground. Within seconds he was sprinting again. Why aren't they firing? Sheppard hadn't heard a single shot since he'd thrown the explosive. God, what if they got Teyla and they're just letting me go. Shut up John and keep moving. She'll be waiting for you, just get there. He kept telling himself that until he found himself at it's entrance. Weapon raised he crept inside.

After a quick sweep of the outer area he traveled further in the cave. Licking his dry lips he whispered "Teyla, are you in here?" He took another small step and felt something brush against his foot. Squinting in the dime light Sheppard reached down and felt the ground, "What the hell?" He picked up the soft object and felt his throat constrict as he realized what he was seeing. He blinked back tears, No time for that now.

He tied Teyla's bloody jacket around his waist and stood. John turned to head back toward the opening and his face collided with the but of someone's weapon. He felt himself hit the ground as pain clouded his vision. He could only make out the outline of a tall, burly man. "I'm so sorry Teyla, should have told you how much you meant to me when I had the chance. The man raised what he could only guess was a weapon at him. He heard a loud buzzing sound and was blinded by light. His body convulsed, he felt as though a thousand scorpions were stinging every part of his body, then there was only darkness.