Disclaimer:- don't own Atlantis, don't have any right to write this, apart from at the indulgence of a fine studio, and a fine set of producers and writers, who I hope won't mind because I only do this in admiration of their work

Spoilers for: 38 minutes, Conversion, Sunday, Vengeance.

Episode Tag for Vengeance.

The escape in the wraith dart was just a little too easy; maybe Michael had a backup plan to get his revenge.


He could feel it, could feel the pointed tubular mouth parts digging into his neck, burying themselves in his flesh, and the sensation, the feeling of being invaded, his body breeched, was almost worse than the pain, almost. The screaming, biting mind- numbing pain as nerve endings were torn through, ripped and mangled as it dug in deeper, took hold, became part of his neck, snaked its tendrils into his spine and he grabbed at it futilely as he dropped to the floor and flailed uselessly against the pain. "No," he yelled, not again, not again.

This would not happen to him again. He dug his claws into it, crunched through the hard shell, ripped it apart and, as it screamed and writhed in death, it dug in deeper and deeper until it was inside his head, invading his thoughts, and the pain was unbearable, and he couldn't stop it from becoming a part of him, and he a part of it. A stab of fire, a knife of fear shot through his consciousness, and he opened his eyes and looked at the ragged dripping carcass that he held in his hand, in his gray-blue clawed hand, and he stared, first in shock, and then in terror at the alien hand that was his, because it had become a part of him and he was mutating back into a. . .

No, his mind screamed denial, and his throat just screamed, a pitying wailing scream and he flung the carcass away, clawing desperately at his throat to get the rest of the disgusting hideous thing away from him, even if it meant ripping his own throat out. He had to get rid of it, had to pull it away, had to. . .

The pain in his neck flared, spiralled, higher, and deeper, and his hands scoured harder as he dug his claws in, attempting to rip it out, to remove the pain. He could feel his fingers, slick with gore, but he couldn't get it out, couldn't remove the sensation and as he pulled the pain was too much, too high, he couldn't. . .

"Oh God!"

Sheppard turned at the loud exclamation, and saw the marine, staring open mouthed at him, and it was the only part of the image that his brain would process. The rest of the world was fuzzy and blurred, he had no idea of where he was, or how all this had happened again, but he did know that the uniform was that of a friend someone who could help him and he needed help. He so desperately needed. . . "Help me," he half whispered, before the fear took hold, and his brain processed the danger.

What he was, what he was becoming, and he scrabbled backwards.

"No, no, don't come any closer," he ordered. He couldn't let the marine get close to him, didn't know what he would do, how he would react. He wasn't himself, was turning into. . .

"No, keep away!" he couldn't trust himself, but the marine wasn't listening to him, he was moving forwards towards him. He had to stop him. Awkwardly he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled back to the bedside table, grabbing his holstered sidearm he fumbled it out, turning he almost fell backwards into the wall, sliding gratefully down it as his knees gave out. He waved the gun in the direction of the marine. "Keep away," and this time it came out more as a desperate plea than an order.

The marine, Sergeant Bill Peters, stopped dead in his tracks, bewildered. It wasn't every day that you heard screams from your commanding officer's quarters, not every day that you burst through the door, sidearm out, to find him clawing at his own throat, blood soaking his hands and down his shirt. Even in the Pegasus galaxy, where 'unusual' was what occurred every day, it was shocking, but he'd followed his training, checked around first. The room was empty; there was no attacker, which meant that the clearly distressed Colonel had inflicted the deep cuts himself. He'd called it in. "Medical emergency Colonel Sheppard's quarters," before attempting to respond to the plea for help, moving forwards. He'd tried to take it slow. He'd dealt with distress and trauma before, at least from the battlefield, but he was out of his depth there, and he was way out of his depth here, watching in horror as the Colonel staggered to grab his weapon, bloody handprints streaking the floor with red as he scrambled backwards, slipping on his own blood. He drew the pistol and held it on him, and Peters, by instinct, raised his own.

A classic standoff, except it wasn't, because Peters recognised that the fear in the Colonel's eyes had nothing to do with him, nothing to do with the gun he held. The Colonel was terrified of something and Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard had a deserved reputation of not being afraid of anything. He'd flown an armed nuclear warhead into a hive ship, fought a ten thousand year old superwraith with a pocketknife, and taken on an entire troop of the Genii single-handed. No, he didn't scare easily, some said he didn't scare at all, but he looked terrified now, of what? What had happened? Where were those damned medics?

"Take it easy Colonel," Peters tried, because he had to do something, couldn't let the tension build any higher than it was already. "Why. . .Why don't you lower your gun for me?" he requested hesitantly. "Sir," he added, not quite able to ignore the fact that this was his commanding officer, the ranking officer on the entire expeditionary force, no matter how he was behaving.

Sheppard shook his head, if he lowered his weapon then the marine would come closer, would try to help him and he was beyond help, the blue-grey clawed hands that gripped the pistol, the invading carcass that he could still feel, despite his efforts to pull it away, clinging to his neck attested to that. Couldn't this marine see that he was beyond help, that there was no chance. . maybe, if Carson had still been alive then maybe. . . but no, it was too late this time, and he couldn't predict what he would do, how he would behave. What had Michael's experiments done to him? What would he. . ?

"No!" he raised the weapon again and blinked the sweat from his eyes. It had been drifting down, and the marine had taken advantage of his distraction and had taken a step closer. "No you need to get back, please. . .I" Movement at the door distracted him as another figure rushed in and stopped abruptly.

McKay ran down the corridor, his heart thumping in his chest. What the hell could have happened? A medical emergency, here, in his quarters for God's sake. They'd just survived the creepy subterranean corridors of a set from a bad sci-fi horror movie. John's comparison with scenes from Alien hadn't been that far off the mark, even the blue mutated iratus bug human hi-bred creatures looked a bit like the creature from the film, but they'd escaped that, barely, and apart from some bruising from when the things had jumped them, and the scratch on his cheek they were fine. So what could possibly. . .

He stopped and stared, his mouth dropping open as his mind repeated an innocuous curse over and over. John was sitting leaning against the back wall of his quarters covered in blood. His pistol was pointed at the marine guard, who was also holding him at gunpoint. "What the. . ?" McKay started as his mind processed the tableau and jumped to the only logical, if flawed conclusion. He turned on the Marine, ignoring the gun not even appreciating the danger, because the conclusion he had drawn was that the marine had hurt Sheppard, and if he had then he was dangerous, and shouting at him probably wouldn't be a good idea, especially since he was unarmed, but these thoughts were still processing as he shouted angrily and stepped forwards. "What are you doing? Get away from him."

"Dr McKay," the marine acknowledged, looking relieved, he backed up a step cautiously. "I. . ."

"What did you do to him?" McKay asked angrily

"Nothing, I found him like this and the room was empty I. . "

But McKay was ignoring him, he'd turned his attention towards Sheppard he took a step forwards and was shocked when John turned his gun on him.

"No," Sheppard stated, blinking hard as more sweat dripped into his eyes. He pulled one hand off the pistol long enough to push his hair back off his face, unaware of the awful effect this had, as blood now mixed with the sweat streaking across his forehead. He placed his hand awkwardly back in position. "Keep away, you have to stay away from me," he stated. "Get everyone away from here."

"Why?" McKay asked, "What's the danger?" He paused, taking another step forward. He could see the blood beginning to pool on the floor by Sheppard's right side, and concern was winning out over caution. "And why are you pointing a gun at me?"

John was starting to feel dizzy, light-headed; he blinked again, this time against the spinning world. Whatever else this mutation was doing to him it was stopping him from thinking straight. He couldn't quite put the thoughts and sensations into words. He knew the sense of what he had to convey but it stubbornly refused to turn into speech. "I. . ." he started, as McKay just stared at him with a mixture of exasperation and concern. He looked at his hands again. Couldn't Rodney see what was wrong, that he had to stay away, that he, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard was mutating into something hideous and dangerous and that there was no way back from it this time. He met McKay's gaze. "I'm the danger McKay. You have to get away from me."