CHAPTER 1 –FLASHBACKS AND CHANGES
He felt the cold damp of the ground beneath him, and taking an experimental breath, tasted the dank texture of the air, inhaling the mustiness. He was half sitting, half lying, his back pushed hard against the cold wall and he felt the uncomfortable pull on his wrists. His arms were pulled above his head and testing them slightly, felt that they were shackled, obviously secured to the wall further up. He groaned, pain erupting throughout his body and strained to remember how he had come to be here.
He recalled briefly, that his dart had been hit and losing control, he had felt it spiral downwards, towards the planet surface, a planet whose name he could not remember. He only remembered pain, an explosion of some sort, then blackness. His next memory was of awakening here, in this cold dark room and he had no idea who had captured him or where he was being held.
A flash of pain shot through his head and he leaned over to groan, feeling the blackness spiral once more up to meet him and he lost conciousness. As he spiralled through the blackness, he saw a glimmer through the darkness, a woman, pale and transparent and as always, out of reach. He saw a little boy, a human boy who looked up at the woman and she looked down at the boy with love in her eyes, love that as a wraith, he had not known. He felt the pain of those memories, shooting through him with the intensity of a sharpened sword, foreign somehow, in his wraith mind, yet familiar. Then the blackness returned and he remembered the feeling of such sadness, reaching out his own hand through that darkness to find the hand of the woman who only brought love and warmth. Now long since out of reach.
He awakened some time later to the sound of a key sliding into a lock, and staring towards that area of the dark that the sound came from, he watched as a dark rectangle slowly moved, letting in a measure of light that had him blinking and cowering just a little. The darkness, while bringing fear, also brought anonymity. He would now have to face those who had captured him.
"He's awake Lorne. Can't have been hurt that badly. Either that, or already beginning to heal himself." The voice belonged to Colonel John Sheppard, and as he pushed the door open wider, he was joined by Major Evan Lorne, who carried a tray with food.
"Don't know why we're bringing him this Colonel. Wraith History 101? They don't eat this sort of food... just saying!" Lorne grumbled slightly, holding the tray in front of him and walking further into the room, wrinkling his nose in disgust at the sight of the crumpled wraith they had captured the day before last.
"Well we're not going to provide him with the food source that he really needs, so this is all he gets for now. I'm thinking, that if he's really hungry, he'll eat. If not... there's plenty of rats down here who are not quite so fussy."
"On that note Colonel, may we leave now?" Lorne's look of distaste now encompassed the dark corners of the room where he had seem the glow of red eyes.
"Not scared of rats are you Lorne?" John deliberately chose to ignore his muttered reply about a certain Colonel and his fear of spiders, instead he took the tray from him and moved closer to the wraith prisoner. His head was bowed slightly, and John, placing the tray on the ground beside him, reached down and took a hold of his long white hair, characteristic of most wraith, and pulled sharply, effectively jerking his head up and forcing his gaze to meet that of the Colonel.
"When we bring you food... wraith...a simple 'thank you' would be... polite." Getting no immediate response from the wraith he gazed into those deadened eyes, and felt himself falter just a little. Yesterday, they had been a bright reptilian yellow. Today they had... changed. No longer just yellow, they had begun to darken to a tawny brown and with closer scrutiny, John also noticed that the waxy pale skin had changed also. Just enough for him to notice that something was happening to this particular wraith. The pigmentation was just a little darker now, and the greenish tinge that the waxy texture seemed to have had almost gone. This particular wraith possessed a starburst shaped tattoo, centred around his left eye. When they had first captured him, this had stood out in stark relief, and John knew that the individual tattooing and patterning of the skin, was an individual marking, each one applicable to an individual wraith. However, John could not help but note that the tattoo marking had faded just a little.
Feeling small fingers of unease run through him, he let go of the long hair, assuming that the head would droop back down to it's original position, but the half brown, half yellow eyes continued to gaze at him with something close to understanding. John mesmerised, looked into the depth of those unusual eyes, saw a flicker of memory, then felt a sudden stab of pain as he felt the wraith push pictures of pain and mayhem into his mind and he fought to stay upright during this onslaught, his closed eyes and pinched features, the only outward sign he gave that this inner turmoil was happening.
The wraith chose to speak now, watching carefully the emotions that were chasing one another through the Colonel's eyes. On one level he understood these emotions and acknowledged them.
"You bring me this food... human... and expect me to be grateful? Grateful that you keep me chained down here like an animal? I do not show fear of your race and I will not cower before you. You use your primitive restraints because you fear me and you fear what I can do to you. What I will do to you when I am free. And you can trust this... human... I will be free and your life force will be the first I take. I 've seen what you hide inside, and it will sweeten the taste when you become mine." He growled at John, attempting again to open his mind and force communication that way, but it hurt, and the ease with which he usually managed this form of communication, appeared to no longer be there. He faltered slightly at the sudden inability and John paused, feeling the slight, tenuous connection that flickered between them, gone quickly before it could take hold.
John, picked up a plate from the tray, and held it just under the mouth of the wraith. " Good manners dictate that I allow you to eat, not the food you would prefer of course, but I'm guessing you'll make do for now. No hands I'm afraid... like any other animal, you'll just have to use your mouth to eat." and forced the plate towards his mouth so that the wraith had no choice but to take a mouthful and either swallow or spit it out. He chose to eat, it was not the sustenance that he required, but it would suffice for now. He turned his face away when he had taken his fill and John lowered the tray, allowing the other inhabitants of this cell to take their share once the humans had left.
John stared down at him. "It is not fear you see in these eyes, wraith. It is disgust! Yes, I treat you like an animal, that is exactly how you view and treat the entire human race - a herd of animals for culling? Why would you expect my treatment of you to be any different? So fear you? No... pretty much wanna kill you? Hell, yeah! But perhaps alive, we have use for you yet... I'll let you know when the update comes through on that one!"
John moved toward the door with Lorne now, stopping only when he heard the wraith's soft voice.
"Why do you not kill me human? Is this a game to you? What do you wish to achieve by keeping me alive."
John glanced back, choosing to respond. "Answers... from you, we will get answers..." and turning they left the room, closing and locking the heavy door behind them.
John leaned heavily against the door once they had left the cell and gestured for Lorne to wait. "Did you notice anything odd about him Lorne? Different?"
"Other than the fact that he's a wraith... not much more different as far as I'm concerned. But no, I preferred not to get as close to him as you obviously seem comfortable with. Why?"
"His eyes and skin, changing... from when we captured him. There's something … different... about him now. I think we need to bring Elizabeth in on this, and get Dr Keller out here to take a look at him. Elizabeth's been talking about needing to continue our study of the wraith, particularly the DNA and this would give her a good opportunity to get those science teams working on the DNA sequencing again."
"She's gonna be pissed that we kept this from her to start with... and remind me? What was our excuse again? Just to make sure we get our stories straight..." Lorne's usual dry humour was not lost on the Colonel, and gave a self deprecating grin, recalling in his mind, two days ago when they had encountered the injured wraith.
They had been on a routine mission to P3X721, taking supplies to a small village that had been cut off due to severe flooding from one of it's rivers. One of the villagers had managed to get across the river and get a message through the stargate to Atlantis, and Colonel Sheppard had volunteered to take Lorne to fly in some supplies across the flooded river. Completing a flyover of the flooded area, they had noticed a downed ship, and setting their jumper down beside it, had immediately seen the injured and unconscious wraith, assuming at first that he has dead. And jumped back very quickly in alarm, weapons drawn, when they had seen his hand, his feeding hand, twitch. They had known that Elizabeth had been making noises about the capture of a wraith, but needing time to push her further to make her decision, they had decided to shackle the wraith, and had transported him to a disused laboratory on P2T349. However it was time to come clean with Elizabeth.
Lorne was right John thought. Elizabeth was going to be pissed.