Trials of Faith – Chapter 1

On the ground and in the air.

The rain continued to fall over Atlantis, blanketing it in grey and disquiet. It slid down the glass running into each other, having small battles of their own, all fighting to find a certain path for no purpose. She ran her hand over the glass, tracing the path of a single drop until it was invaded by another. It was cold against her fingertip, but for some reason she liked it, she enjoyed the cold. Possibly because she could feel it. The rest of her body was a throbbing numbness.

Dressed in blue combat trousers and black tank top, Teyla was a mess. Her clothing was torn and bloodied, stained with the life force of people she cared about. Her arms and face were plagued with gashes, some healing while others still bleeding ferociously. She gently pressed her stomach flinching at the large bruise forming, then came up to her ribs where more gashes and bruises informed her that a few of her ribs were broken. She would go through it all over again if only to save more. Those she had been able to save would be grateful, and she would smile and nod telling them that it was no trouble and that the future would be brighter for them. What dwelled on her mind was those that she could not say that to, those that would not step through the gate and meet their families with smiles of relief.

John had lost a few of his soldiers, something which he always took hard. They were his responsibility. But they did not die in vein, which she knew, meant something to him. But for her, it meant little. She had had the responsibility of an entire people from a very young age, and had come to know them all very well. They were her family. The loss of one was painful enough. But when half of her family is massacred - she wondered how she could feel her fingertip at all.

In the beginning of her alliance with the people of Earth, half of her people had stayed on the mainland settling down and re growing crops.

The others had travelled to a world with people who had once been trading partners. They had blended in to the crowd and continued on their normal lives, trade becoming more of a business than a necessity. The world had been called Talos, whose village was large and far from the gate. They had many foods and tools to trade, as well as intel on the latest wraith happenings. Their underground was well connected. As the planet was on the outer edge of the galaxy, it was rarely culled, only in a time when the Wraith were desperate for food. That time had not yet come. At least, she did not believe that it had come. And yet, they had received a desperate message from Talos pleading for help. The Wraith had arrived and were destroying everything in their path and culling people in great numbers. Teyla and the rest of her team had gated to Talos and escorted as many people through the gate as possible, only a handful of what Talos had to offer and even fewer in number were Athosians. Desperate to protect her people, Teyla had sprinted to the village without her team to find more survivors. What she had ran into was the centre of the battlefield. There were Wraith on the ground, not only in darts. For a simple culling it was unheard of. She didn't understand what they were doing, and for that moment in time. She hadn't cared.

Teyla ran into the fray, tearing the first wraith from the chest of a young girl, she screamed in agony. Thankfully only a few years of her life had been taken.

'To the gate!' Teyla commanded.

Crying, the girl scooped a small boy into her arms and ran down the muddy path into the forest. Teyla turned to face the wraith with her P90.

It screamed in protest, slowly stepping toward her, but it was no match for the metal being punched into its body.

'This way!' She yelled, attracting the attention of a few fearful people – and also a few hungry Wraith.

The message spread quickly that help was at the path, more people came in small groups – families, friends, and those who had joined together in terror. Teyla did the best she could, but would soon be forced to use her sidearm. She had killed three Wraith, the fourth coming far too close. Having fed recently, it was stronger than the others. It grabbed the P90 and threw it to the ground, Teyla engaged in physical combat. She delivered several punches and a roundhouse kick, but it did little to phase the Wraith, all it did was make him growl. It advanced. Years of experience and training had taught Teyla to be quick, but for a Wraith it came naturally, as natural as feeding. Teyla failed to kick its midsection; he had seen this manoeuvre coming. It grabbed her leg, and in one cruel move lifted her from the ground and swung her into the nearest wooden house. The roof was on fire and smoke climbed into the air; she crashed through the wall and was, for a moment, unconscious.

She awoke to screaming and a crackling radio, voices were blurred and colours hazy. There was a screaming pain when she breathed, every part of her body hurt. When the screaming grew louder, the world came back into focus. Teyla reached for her side arm, the only weapon she had and stumbled to her feet, sweeping some blood from her head. She coughed in the smoke and winced, her arm coming to shield her side from an invisible sword puncturing her lung. Broken rib, undoubtedly.

Unsure of her feet but desperate to save the person screaming, she emerged from the house as the thatched roof caved in. Very few people were running down the path now, the exit had been blocked by four Wraith, two of whom were feeding and the others frightening people into going the other way. Teyla aimed for the Wraith that had thrown her and shot a full clip. It fell to the ground, the previous injuries too much for it to survive. The radio crackled again, but she couldn't hear it, the screaming was all she could hear. People afraid, mourning for their lost ones, a boy crying for its mother lost and alone. Something bitter flooded her mouth; loathing fired in the pit of her stomach, the pain was a distant memory. She fired another clip into the other Wraith that was feeding and flung the useless gun to the ground, rolling and picking up a broom. She smashed the brush from the end, making the perfect pike, and jammed the end into its throat. It cried in agony and fell to its knees. She kicked it in the back, and turned to face the other two.

Having gotten their attention, people began to sprint down the path again – their lives were all that mattered. Teyla smiled slightly as they glowered at her. Her skills with a staff were much more precise. She kicked up a sturdy stick from the dirt, giving her another weapon of equal size to her bloodied pike. The Wraith charged her, Teyla dodged the first hitting its back and sending it face down into the mud. She attacked the second, it blocked her every move. She kept up her attack, hitting its arms as they came up, waiting for an opportunity. She spun with a back hand and saw a gap; putting all her weight behind the pike she delivered a heavy blow to the side of its head. It screamed and fell, she jabbed the pike through its chest. Merciless, she withdrew and turned. The first Wraith was on her instantly, having stalked her furious attack of the second Wraith. It grabbed her throat, lifting her from the ground. Teyla dropped the pike and stick, her hands clawing at the Wraith. She delivered a sharp jab to its chin, but it just laughed at her, enjoying her attempts to free herself. The Wraith's cold blue eyes, mirrored by its moist blue skin, flashed. Teyla knew that look all too well. It was preparing to feed. It slashed its talons over her face before throwing her to the ground, pinning her down. Teyla kicked and hit the creature, but was unable to move. Her hand found the stick she had dropped and she cracked the side of its head, again and again. It growled, swatting the stick away and using its free hand to pummel her stomach. Pain seared through her. She was weak, tired. The only thing left for her to do was to use both of her hands and push down flat on her chest, covering where the Wraith would feed. Angrily, it scraped her hands away, slicing her from shoulder to wrist.

Teyla's brown eyes defiant to the end glowed with menace. The Wraith raised its hand, ready to drain her of life and move on to the next innocent soul. The sharp sounds of a P90 punctured the air and the Wraith fell back, blue blood showering Teyla like spring rain.

She leaned on her forearms studying the dead Wraith, unsure of what had just happened, her heart hammering hard against her chest. Pain screamed at her like the people running past, but all she could see was the Wraith. Tears welled as fury took hold; she ignored the pain and looked for the source of the bullets.

Boots skidded to a halt at her side and she looked up into the face of John Sheppard. Concern plagued his handsome features as he studied her with soft brown eyes. He grinned slightly.

'I suppose you had a good reason for not answering your radio.' He confirmed, offering his arm.

Teyla grabbed it and stood, shouting in pain. She clutched her side before taking Sheppard's side arm from its holster.

'You okay?' He queried, holding her arm, unsure whether it was wise to leave her side. For him to ask her such a thing, she realised that she must look pretty horrendous. It didn't help that she felt it.

'I will be.' She looked around at the few survivors that were left, and began to make her way toward them. 'This way! Come this way! We will take you somewhere safe!'

A gut wrenching scream stopped her from signalling the others. A few burning houses down, she saw a man being fed upon by a Wraith, his family huddled behind a cart. She sped across the open space, her body protesting with every lunge.

'Teyla!' John called, clearly not happy that she had disappeared again.

Teyla knew that man and his family - they were Athosians.

'Carus!' She grabbed the nearest farming tool from the wall and plunged it into the Wraith's back. It stopped feeding immediately, trying to reach its back to pull out the object invading its body. It fell to the ground.

'Teyla?' The woman cried.

'Yes Marine, it is me! Quickly, take your children to the gate! We will take you back to Atlantis!' Teyla watched her scoop the girl into her arms and take the boys hand, dragging him to the path. Teyla turned to the man. 'Carus?' She descended on her friend who had aged considerably, but not enough to stop him from living many years more.

'Teyla…' He spluttered, weak, bleeding.

John jogged to his side and lifted him, putting an arm over his head. Teyla did the same, unsure of how long she could stand.

Ronan had joined the battle not long after Sheppard, departing a few Wraith of his own. He finished a tall Wraith with a mask, and lifted the girl that it had cornered into his arms. He joined his friends in their retreat.

'Two darts in the air and many Wraith on the ground. Something's not right, Sheppard.' He growled.

'You're tellin' me?' He replied, just as pissed. 'What in the hell were they doing here?'

'I do not know.' Teyla hoisted Carus, the man was heavy. 'I have never heard of a Wraith culling where they used so few darts and so many Wraith.'

'It's not there way. Why head into danger when they can hide on their ships?' Ronan commented sourly.

They had finally reached the cover of the forest when the radio crackled.

'Where the hell are you guys? I turn around for two seconds to help a pathetic little boy and you disappear!'

John rolled his eyes before unclipping the radio from his belt. 'We're almost there Rodney; don't get your knickers in a twist.'

'Almost there? How long is 'almost there'? Is it two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes? Let's have a number here shall we? I'd like to know how long I need to wait before I go, there could be Wraith in front of you or something! Darts could be on there way to beaming me up and sucking me dry! I mean, a little specific-'

'Shut up Mckay.' Ronan barked having snatched the radio. He passed it back to Sheppard who grinned.

'Thanks.'

'No problem.'

Teyla smiled slightly, enjoying their company immensely, thanking what power had brought them together for allying her with these people. She winced again, the pain in her side far more painful than before. She began to slow, her legs aching with weakness. She could feel the blood running down the side of her face, from the cut in her arm, from her wounded stomach and both legs. She was lucky to be alive. Later, she would have to thank Sheppard. For now, the priority was getting Carus to safety, with his family.

Ronan would have offered to take the man himself, but knew Teyla too well. Her pride and determination was something to behold. If he were to offer, she would never forgive. He eyed her state out of the corner of his eye and knew that she was bleeding badly; soon, he may have no choice but to carry her.

They cleared the trees and could see the gate in the distance, a jumping Mckay waving emphatically for them to hurry up.

John groaned. 'Rodney, get through the gate. We'll dial in once we get there.'

A few moments passed before he replied.

'No. I'll wait; besides, I'm keeping the gate open so the Wraith doesn't dial in and cut you off. Just move faster, it looks like your crawling at a snail's pace.' He finished.

Teyla made it to the gate but barely. She stumbled up the steps and fell to her knees. Rodney and Sheppard took Carus through the gate while Ronan shoved the girl through the shining puddle, and turned to help his friend. She was trying desperately to stand, but fatigue and injury had taken its toll. Ronan hoisted her up just as she had done with Carus, and was ready to drag her through the gate when he heard a familiar sound behind. He turned to see a Wraith dart flying over the forest toward the gate; he glanced underneath the canopy and saw no one there. No more survivors.

The dart closed in and Ronan grinned. He stepped through the gate with Teyla at his side.

On the other side of the gate was chaos, she could only remember the wails when the gate shut down, and people realised that no more of their loved ones were coming. She could hear John yelling orders to clear the room, for the injured to be escorted to the infirmary. Beckett was doing the same to his own staff, barking orders to nurses and treating patients who were badly wounded in the gate room.

'Teyla! Good God, she looks like she's been through a battle with her hands tied behind her back! Teyla, can you hear me?'

Weak but grateful she nodded. 'You need to set her down in the infirmary Ronan…'

She had gone to the infirmary – or been dragged to the infirmary - and Ronan had stayed close, helping Nurses to treat soldiers, Talosians and Athosians alike. She had her back against the wall, her body aching for relief. There were many people hurrying around the room, it had been filled by desperation and despair, people searching for family. It was too crowded, so crowded she felt claustrophobic, she needed space, to breathe. Convinced that all she needed was to wash and sleep, she slipped out of the infirmary and stumbled to her room.

It was dark and cool, no lights and no terrified voices – just peace. A deathly silence was better than the hollow screams of loneliness and mourning, she decided.

Barely able to peel her clothes from her body, she stepped into the shower. It was hot, pounding onto her aching skin, cleansing her wounds. The water ran red with her blood. She did not think for the moment, was not capable of it. She felt as if she were floating, as though this day had been a dream.

After maybe twenty minutes, she reached for her towel, wrapping the soft material around her. She walked into her room and stopped in front of the full length mirror on the far wall. Teyla allowed the towel to drop to the floor, revealing her naked body in the mirror, broken and bleeding. The towel was no longer white; it had stained with her blood. She decided that maybe, after a nap, that she would return to the Infirmary for a check up. She placed her filthy clothes back on, letting them soak up more of what ever wound was still bleeding. She then crawled onto the bed and fell, exhaustion wiping her mind from consciousness.

When Teyla awoke, about an hour later, she was unsettled. Her sleep had not been dreamless and what she saw had deeply angered her. All of her friends being eaten by the Wraith, all of them screaming in pain, calling her name. But she could not move. Could not help them. When John had been fed upon she had woken, her mind unable to handle the sight.

She sat up gingerly, noting the blood stains on the covers, some of them were worse than others. She was still so tired, and in so much pain that she would love nothing more than to fall back to sleep. But to dream such things only made her sit on the edge of the bed, making her ready to stand.

Teyla wandered over to the window in her room, watching the rain fall over the city, reflecting the melancholy mood. She thought over the day in vivid detail, wanting nothing more than to forget. To walk out of this room and to be strong for her people, and for those that they had taken in. But somehow, that idea made her feel even wearier.

Teyla was startled when her door slid open and John stormed into the room calling her name, and stopping abruptly when he saw her.

'Where the hell have you been?' He asked, his stance telling her that he was supremely pissed.

'I am sorry Colonel, I would have helped in the infirmary and with locating rooms for the people-'

'Screw the locating, why aren't you in the infirmary? Ronan said that you were there one minute, barely conscious, and then the next you were gone.' He advanced on her. 'You can't pull something like that when you're in this state.'

'I am fine.'

'We came back from the planet almost two hours ago and you're still bleeding.' He eyed the bloodied towel on the floor and the bed sheets.

'I will visit Doctor Becket when he is not so busy; there are many people to see to.'

'And you should be one of them.' John gently took her arm and began to guide her toward the door.

His touch made her melt, made her skin burn. She caught her breath for a moment, looking at his handsome face in the moon light and realised that his beautiful eyes were not pissed at her but deeply concerned.

'Colonel Sheppard, I do not wish to burden Carson further, he has many patients that are much worse.' She shrugged his arm off. 'I will remain here and rest a while longer before aiding you in relocating our visitors.'

'You'll go see Doc and he'll patch you up. I need you in one piece, not bleeding all over the place.' He ordered firmly.

Teyla sighed at his persistent nature. He should know better than to force her to do something that she would not do.

'My wounds will heal. They are small, I would not want to trouble Doctor Beckett.' She insisted gently, walking over to the bed and sitting on the edge.

'Teyla, I don't think you know how bad you look. I've seen people die with injuries less severe than yours.' He sat on the bed by her, his hand guiding her face toward him as he inspected a deep cut on her cheek. Teyla looked to the floor and John dropped his hand. 'I care about you too much to just let you sit here in pain.'

'I feel more weary than in pain. My mind cannot stop searching over the days events. How many came through the gate?' She asked.

It was John's turn to look to the floor. Teyla went into panic mode.

'How many?'

'Lost three soldiers, but got everyone we could through the gate. You ran off at some point, I didn't even notice. I'm not sure how many made it through after that.' John stood. 'You killed some serious Wraith though. Like ten of 'em were at your feet, twitching and stuff, it was pretty gross.' He grinned, doing his usual handsome humour to cover up the real worry.

'John, I know you counted, you are very thorough. Please do not spare my feelings, it hurts more not knowing.' Teyla's eyes pleaded with him while she kept up her brave soldier act.

'53 made it through, 12 were Athosian.' John said gently, standing over her as though shielding her from the world.

Teyla hung her head and bit back tears of anger and guilt.

'121 of my people travelled to Tolas. Only 12 have returned?' She asked, wanting for him to lie to her.

'I'm sorry.' He kneeled in front of her, placing a hand on her knee. Her face was ashen. He went to run one of his hands through her hair but she stood abruptly, wobbling slightly. He stood quickly to hold her up.

'I must speak with Carus.' She marched to the door.

'Well, at least she's going to the infirmary.' He whispered to himself, hoping that Carus was conscious and ready to get a face full of Teyla.

'Carson. How are our guests?' Elizabeth Weir walked into the infirmary, eyeing the people sitting against the walls, some injured, some clinging to the injured.

Carson rushed to meet her speaking quickly.

'I need to take three into surgery immediately. Doctor Granger has already started on Major Feretti. I'm afraid that Baker and Lee have died, as well as six of the people that were brought to me. These people are a bloody mess. I've got to get back to this fellow, Elizabeth.' He hurried back as a Tolosian was wheeled into another room.

Elizabeth took a moment to take in the new information, watching Nurses and a few scientists do what they could for the wounded.

'Elizabeth!' The voice came from behind.

Dr Weir turned to see Rodney coming toward her, his nose a few inches away from an Ancient pad.

'I've been going through the Ancient database looking through their research on the Wraith and I – it looks like world war three in here.' He did a full turn to survey the full damage of whimpering people. 'Where's Carson?'

'In surgery, what did you find?' She prompted.

'Not much, Wraith culling's never had so many Wraith on the ground with darts in the sky. It was mostly one or the other; they were either collecting food or searching for someone or something, or chasing Runner's like our Neanderthal over here.' He glanced at Ronan who was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. He raised an aggressive eyebrow. 'I have no idea what they were doing.'

'Is it possible that they were collecting people for interrogation? And that the Wraith on the ground were meant to push the people toward the darts?' Elizabeth suggested.

'Mh. They were feeding, why eat them if they had information?' Mckay shook his head.

'It would make people run in the other direction.' Ronan stepped forward.

Mckay eyed the tall man. 'Possibly.'

'Alright Rodney, I want you to talk to some of these people, only those that are able. Let's see if we can get some answers.'

'Talk to them?' He asked. 'And ask them if they know anything about why the Wraith were acting so out of character? Most of the people are Farmers, I doubt they'd know any-'

'I'll help him.' Ronan stated, pushing Mckay to the nearest family huddled round a bed.

Elizabeth turned to leave knowing that she could do nothing, and almost slammed into Teyla.

'My God Teyla! Are you alright, sit down, if we can find somewhere-'

'I am fine Doctor Weir, please. I am looking for a man named Carus, he and his family came through the gate. He was fed upon.' Teyla asked, searching the beds for her friend.

'I'm afraid I don't know any of them by name, and there are a lot of families whose loved ones were very ill. I'll ask Rodney and Ronan to keep an eye out.' Elizabeth nodded in reassurance. 'Are you sure we can't get you something, Teyla? You seem awfully pale.'

The blood loss had been extreme, but all she felt was a need to find Carus and ask him what he knew.

'I am alright.' She insisted, growing tired of repeating herself. She then turned on her heel and started darting through the crowd.

'John, keep an eye on her.' Elizabeth asked, watching Teyla check the beds and smiling to people reassuringly before moving on.

'I'll keep both of 'em on her.' John joined the search for Carus.