Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or any other part of Stargate Atlantis. I'm just borrowing them for a wee bit.
This is set about midway through season two, but most spoilers are for The Storm, The Eye, and The Brotherhood.
This one is for Rogue1503, who provided endless encouragement and ideas to help keep this boat afloat, as well as helped me smooth out some rough spots. Couldn't get far without you, girl.
A little warning: This one has a lot of Sheppard whumping, both mental and physical (I know - big shock), so if you tire of that sort of stuff easily, you might want to hit the back button now. If you don't mind the whumping, then please proceed.
The Day of Reckoning - Chapter One
The minute John Sheppard stepped through the gate, the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He immediately tightened his grip on the P90 as he brought it up and stepped forward. He was aware of the rest of his team coming through the gate behind him as he surveyed the green field before them. A small path wound through the knee high grass and eventually led into the woods at the far side of the field. Sheppard saw no movement as he carefully stepped forward, but that did nothing to ease the crawling sensation in his gut. Behind him, team mates Teyla and Ronon were instantly aware of his unease and also began warily scanning the scene before them, looking for signs of trouble. Rodney McKay, however, seemed totally oblivious of the heightened sense of caution displayed by the others and his voice rang out, sounding almost raucous in the stillness of the scene before them.
"Wow, another one of those story book scenes we've become so accustomed to seeing. How is it that we travel all this way to another galaxy and every planet either looks like the Amazon or the Sahara? Isn't there any diversity in this galaxy? No wonder the Ancients left. They were bored into another galaxy. Where's this trader guy we're supposed to meet? Although I don't know why we bothered. What are the chances that someone like that will have access to a ZPM?"
"McKay," Sheppard hissed without turning around. "Shut up or I will shoot you."
"W...what?" Only then did McKay notice how uneasy his team was. He began fumbling around, trying to draw his gun.
"Sheppard?" inquired Ronon, his eyes still searching the field in front of them.
"Something's not right...It just seems...hincky."
"Hincky?" Ronon looked confused.
"I believe that is an earth term for things not being as they should," interpreted Teyla, recognizing the term as one that had been explained to her before.
"I agree. Something is very definitely...hincky," responded Ronon.
"Okay, let's move out, but slowly and carefully. I'll take point, Ronon - take our six." They made it to the center of the field without any sign of trouble and were just starting to relax, when several soldiers armed with guns rushed out and surrounded them. They quickly formed a circle with their backs toward one another and their weapons aimed at the forces around them.
"Oh, crap!" Sheppard exclaimed.
"Sheppard?" asked Ronon.
McKay looked around to see what Sheppard was talking about and almost dropped his gun. He felt his legs turn to jello and fear rolled through his belly. "Oh, no," he whispered.
Sheppard steeled himself inside for what he knew would be a bad day. "Hey, Kolya...long time no see. How's the shoulder?"
Kolya stood staring at Sheppard, his expression hard and cold. "I see you still have your sense of humor, Major. I'll have to see if I can fix that."
"By the way, it's Lt. Colonel Sheppard these days. Seems I managed to get myself a promotion. How about you, Commander Kolya? Any promotions I should know about? I want to be sure and give you the proper respect."
"Who is this Kolya?" asked Ronon quietly, not liking being at such a disadvantage with a foe the team appeared to know well.
"He was the leader of the Genii force that tried to take over Atlantis during the storm I told you of," responded Teyla.
"Yes, Major...excuse me...Colonel Sheppard and I are old friends, right Colonel?"
"The best. Hey...I seem to remember not killing you the last time we met. And I also remember telling you I wanted points for that in the future." Sheppard was grasping at straws. They were outgunned at least five to one. He wasn't seeing any way for them to walk out of this alive.
"Ah, yes. I remember Colonel. And you shall have your points. You come with us and I will let the rest of your team return to Atlantis unharmed. I think that to be a very good offer, considering the circumstances you find yourself in."
"What do you want with Colonel Sheppard?" demanded Teyla.
"Colonel Sheppard must answer for his crimes against the Genii. You left many families without husbands, fathers, or sons. The loved ones of the men you killed cry out for retribution and I have promised them that they shall have it. One way or another, you are coming with us. I do not find it necessary to kill your team...but I will not hesitate if I have to."
"Oh, puh-lease. You honestly expect us to believe that you'll just let us go if Sheppard goes with you? What kind of idiots do you take us for?" asked McKay. He was scared to death, but they didn't dare let Kolya make off with Sheppard. He knew that was probably a death sentence for the Colonel. McKay did a double take at Sheppard. He could tell by the serious look on the man's face that he was considering it. "Colonel? You aren't thinking about doing this? He'll kill us and then you and then laugh at all of us. You can't do this."
"Shut up McKay. It may be your only chance." He turned back to Kolya. "They keep their weapons all the way through the gate. I want them able to defend themselves in case you turn out to be as trustworthy as I think you are."
Kolya nodded. "I commend you, Colonel, on your acceptance of your inevitable fate. Very well. They keep their weapons...but you give me yours...as an act of good faith."
Sheppard hesitated. Just as Koyla believed he had finally broken this...this...irritation to the Genii nation, Sheppard still had the final say and of course, had to take one more parting shot. "Whatever...may as well get this done. God knows you've taken your time getting around to it. I would have had me on toast way before now if I were you ...But then I'm not...you...am I?"
"Sheppard, don't! We may not win, but we can take out a bunch of them as we go. Don't do this." Ronon tried in vain to convince Sheppard not to turn himself over.
"I do not know you, but it is Sheppard's decision. He killed almost 70 of my men and he owes the people of Genii a great debt."
Ronon's eyebrows shot up. "Almost 70 men? Sheppard...I didn't know you had it in you. Not a bad day's work for someone who's basically lazy."
Sheppard grimaced. "I have my moments."
Kolya smiled at Sheppard, already knowing the answer before he asked the question. "What will it be Colonel? Do you surrender to your punishment willingly...or do I kill your team?"
Sheppard stood his ground another few seconds. "Teyla, Ronon, McKay...keep your guns up and trained on them. If Kolya goes back on his word, kill as many of them as you can. Tell Elizabeth...just tell her I said thanks... for everything and...I have no regrets." He turned his gun around and offered it butt first to Kolya. Kolya accepted the P90. Sheppard pulled his 9mm out of the holster and handed it to the man beside Kolya.
He knew his team was still incredulous at his decision, but it was his to make. In a no win situation, he had to do as much damage control as he could to try and protect his team for as long as he had any form of leverage. Kolya wanted him - "wanted" - that gave Sheppard the chance to get his team back home safe...back to Elizabeth, to tell her. If they didn't get back, she'd never know that he would always be grateful for the chance to come to this galaxy...even if it meant he died here. He never took his eyes off the Genii Commander, but he was fully aware of the silence behind him. He needed to try and wrap this up before frustration boiled over and someone, anyone, got trigger happy.
"That's an order, Specialist Dex," he added, not taking his attention from Koyla, his tone delivering the message clearly.
"Good choice, Colonel." Kolya shifted to the side as if he might turn away from Sheppard and then wheeled around, hitting the Colonel in the face with the butt of his own P90. Sheppard was knocked to the ground from the force of the blow. The rest of his team tensed and Ronon took a step forward.
"Stand down!" yelled Sheppard. "It's okay," he said as he staggered to his feet. Two soldiers came up beside him and took hold of his arms, practically holding the swaying man up. Blood ran from a large gash streaking across the right side of his forehead and down across his temple.
"Was that really necessary?" yelled McKay, the panic evident in his voice.
Kolya just smiled smugly. "That was one from me for my men. I was very close to many of them."
Sheppard had steadied himself by then. "Yeah...well talk's cheap - you're the one who invaded my home. I was just defending my people. You ordered them through the gate, Kolya...I'd say you've got as much blood on your hands as I do. Have you told the families of those men exactly how much your greed and ego actually contributed to their loved ones being killed? Maybe you're the one who should be apologizing to the families. I don't claim to be the galaxy's most brilliant military leader, but even I can see that you really suck at the strategy thing."
Kolya stood calmly staring at Sheppard as he team watched silently, wishing their CO could just lay off the sarcastic comments for a few minutes. Quick as a flash, Kolya rammed the butt of the gun into the other side of Sheppard's face. This time when he hit the ground, he didn't get up. Kolya walked up behind him and nudged him with the toe of his boot. Sheppard, lying on his left side with his back to his team, didn't move. Kolya brought his foot back and kicked Sheppard visciously in the lower back.
"Stop! I can't believe you would kick a man when he is unconscious. He is of no threat to you." said Teyla.
Kolya just smiled at her in a way that frightened her more than anything the wraith had ever done. Kolya walked around to stand in front of Sheppard. He nudged Sheppard again, this time in the stomach. When Sheppard didn't respond, he kicked him again. "Colonel Sheppard is in for a lot more than just being kicked," he smirked. "You must all go...NOW...before I change my mind."
"What do we do?" asked Rodney. "We can't just leave him here."
"I don't think we have a choice," said Ronon. "We can't help him right now. If we leave, maybe we can find a way to help him later." None of them wanted to leave Sheppard there, but to not go was instant death for all of them. Ronon was right, they decided. Maybe they could come back with reinforcements and get Sheppard. And so they backed all the way to the Stargate, dialed, and backed through the gate, all the while watching Sheppard's still form on the ground.
As soon as McKay stepped out onto the gateroom floor, he turned and ran toward the gate controls, where he knew Elizabeth would be waiting. As he bounded up the steps two at a time, he was calling to her that they had to go back for Sheppard. Once she had assembled the whole team, it took several minutes for them to calm down enough to explain what had happened. It took several more minutes to assemble additional troops to help with the rescue. All in all, it was a good half hour later when the team returned to the planet with twenty soldiers on the ground and two jumpers. They returned to Atlantis a couple of hours later to report that Sheppard and the Genii were no where to be found. Rodney voiced his theory that they had taken the Colonel to the Genii home world within minutes of the team returning to Atlantis. They silently contemplated the chances of recovering Sheppard alive under the circumstances. None of them were hopeful.
Elizabeth sent a MALP through the stargate to the Genii home world and found, as expected, that the gate was guarded by a large contingent of soldiers with weapons trained on the gate. They knocked the MALP out with weaponfire almost as soon as it left the wormhole. They were expecting the rescue attempt and had ensured that it would not be successful.
Next, Elizabeth opened the gate and contacted Cowen by radio. He curtly replied that Sheppard was to be punished by the people he had harmed with his actions and that any attempt at rescue would be met with his execution and retaliation against the people of Atlantis. He then cut off communication. Elizabeth's only remaining course of action was to wait until the Daedalus arrived in three days and hope she could convince Caldwell to help her and that Sheppard was still alive to rescue. It was with a heavy heart and a knot in her stomach that she explained this to Sheppard's team. Everyone sat in silence, staring at the table as they realized they would probably never see Sheppard again.
Sheppard regained conscioussness in a small, damp cell with a dirt floor. As he lay on the floor shivering, he realized they had not only taken his jacket and vest, but also his shirt and shoes. He was barefoot and bare-chested and really, really cold. He started to sit up, but the pain shooting through his head scaled up to add dizziness and nausea to the mix. He quickly lay back down on his side and curled up in a ball against the pain and the cold. His stomach and back hurt and were tender to the touch. There must have been more entertainment after he had been knocked into oblivion.
The door to his cell opened and he heard several people move into his cell. He cracked his eyes open to look up at Kolya.
"Ahh, Colonel Sheppard. I see you are awake. How is your headache?" Kolya sneered.
"Just peachy, Kolya. Thanks for your concern. Better watch it...you wouldn't want your men to think you're getting soft and starting to care," Sheppard retorted sarcastically.
Kolya nodded to the two large men who had entered the dark cell with him. They each grabbed one of Sheppard's arms and jerked him to his feet. The sudden burst of motion sent an explosion of pain through Sheppard's head and his legs buckled beneath him. As he began to sink, the two soldiers jerked him back upright, snapping his head back and sparking the nausea and dizziness again. With no chance to recover between the violent episodes, Sheppard leaned forward and vomited, spraying Kolya's boots and lower pant legs.
When Sheppard quit heaving and managed to get his bearings enough to realize what he had done, he looked up into Kolya's angry expression. "Oops."
Kolya stepped around the puddle on the floor and stood directly in front of Sheppard. He grabbed the Colonel's chin and jerked it up, sending spasms of pain through his already aching head. "We will see how much sarcasm and wit you have tomorrow, Colonel Sheppard. I will look forward to seeing how funny you think your punishment is. We will come for you at first light. Sleep well, Colonel." With a snap, he let go of Sheppard's face and punched him hard in the stomach. Sheppard grunted as he doubled over and tried desperately to suck air into his lungs.
The two men holding him upright abruptly threw him to the ground and followed Kolya to the door. As Sheppard heard the door close, he called out, "I hope your shoes come clean, Commander." The sound of the door locking seemed unusually loud to Sheppard as he curled back up on his side, vainly attempting to shut out the pain and the cold and the fear of what tomorrow would bring.
Sheppard was jolted awake as two soldiers pulled him to his feet by his arms. Between the pain, the cold, and the concussion, he hadn't slept well and he felt sluggish and groggy. The rough treatment without so much as a wake up call wasn't making his head or bruised torso feel any better.
"What...no Good Morning to greet the day?" he asked the guards as they drug him out of the cell. He was dizzy and barely conscious and having a hard time getting his legs working beneath him. They obviously weren't in the mood to wait.
When they left the underground prison where he'd been kept, he immediately closed his eyes against the sunlight. He stumbled blindly along for several minutes before they stopped. He was aware of his wrists being shackled above his head as he stood half-naked, still shivering from the seeping cold of the night. As his eyes adjusted and he was able to see, he discovered he was staked out in the middle of what appeared to be a town square filled with people. Kolya stood in front of him with that all too familiar evil smirk.
"Welcome to hell, Colonel," he said softly to Sheppard before turning to the crowd. "This is Colonel John Sheppard of Atlantis. He is the one responsible for the death of almost 70 Genii. He killed your sons, your husbands, your fathers, your brothers. He is here for the just retribution from the Genii people. You have all drawn numbers to establish the order in which you may exact your revenge. When it is your family's turn, each member of the family may confront Colonel Sheppard. You may say anything that you want and inflict physical pain in exchange for your loss. You may not, however, kill him. Each family must have an equal opportunity to punish Colonel Sheppard. You may choose the method of punishment you use, but you must not kill him. If he dies at the end of the ceremony as a result of the injuries he sustains, then so be it. Are there any questions?"
Silence filled the courtyard as it began to sink in on Sheppard just how bad his day was probably going to get.
"All right. We begin. Will the first family step forward?"
A family stepped out of the crowd and made their way over to Sheppard. The woman in front spoke to him first. "I am Salaie, wife of Torraine, who you killed. These are his sons, Darius is 8 and Jonsanah is 10." Her voice faltered as she wiped away her tears.
The younger boy kicked Sheppard hard in the shin. "You killed my father. I hate you! I hope you die!" He kicked Sheppard again in almost the same place. The older boy just glared at Sheppard, anger smoldering in his eyes.
The woman, now openly crying, looked back up at Sheppard. "Remember always what you have done to my family," she said and then she spit on him. The woman and the children moved to the side in order to allow an older couple with them to move up to Sheppard.
The older woman immediately slapped him. It might not have seemed so bad if he hadn't already been knocked in the head twice with the butt of his P90. As it was, he fought off a raging case of double vision as the man announced that Torraine had been his son. Sheppard's head was just beginning to clear when the man punched him soundly in the stomach, followed by a blow to the jaw. He wasn't sure if the man was exceedingly strong for his age of if he was just extra weak right now. Everything grayed for a minute. When his vision finally cleared, family number two was waiting.
And so his day went. Family after family introduced themselves and told of their loss before punching, kicking, slapping, and/or spitting on him. In one family, five children ages five to fifteen pummelled him with rocks for several minutes until Kolya finally stopped them. Several women in the afternoon batch of families discovered their blows were more effective when delivered with a stick. Kolya had to pull one woman off Sheppard after she beat him unconscious and then continued to lay down blow after blow until Kolya was afraid she would kill him.
Sheppard had been drifting in and out of awareness when he realized they were taking him down. He had ceased to feel his arms hours ago, but when they dropped to his sides it felt as though both shoulders had been violently ripped out of socket. He yelped in pain and dropped to his knees. The two burly soldiers grabbed his arms and jerked him upright, making his shoulders feel as though his joints were full of shards of glass, grinding away.
He looked around the courtyard and realized most of the people were gone and it was getting quite dark. He'd been hanging there all day as the Genii cursed him and beat him. His lips were swollen, cracked, and dry, except for the small trickle of blood still oozing from his most recent punch in the face. Every square inch of him hurt.
"We done?" he managed to croak.
Kolya smiled. "No, Colonel. But it is late and the people are tired. We begin again at daybreak." He nodded at the two guards, who drug him back to his cell and threw him rather unceremoniously to the floor. Before they left, one of them set a small cup of water on the floor by the door.
"The Commander said you could have a small drink of water. We wouldn't want you to die of thirst." The two men laughed loudly as they closed and locked the door. Sheppard lay curled on his side, looking at the small cup. After a while, he slowly lifted his head and crawled over to the cup. His hands were shaking so badly as he picked the cup up that he was afraid he would spill it all before he got it to his lips. It was warm and dirty and Sheppard didn't care. He drank every drop and fervently wished he had more.
Convinced he could get no more water from the cup, he dropped it on the ground and curled back up in a fetal position, alone with the pain, the cold, and the haunting faces of the families of the men he had killed. He closed his eyes, but he kept hearing their names and seeing their grieving faces. The sweat and blood that covered his body caused the dirt from the floor to stick to his open wounds, but he didn't care. He was a dead man and he knew it. There would be no last minute rescue this time...not on the Genii home world. The best he could hope for was that death would come quickly tomorrow and end his suffering.