He awakens. The air around him is cool. The room is lit from somewhere outside the window. The window is on the far side of the room from where he is. He pushes himself up from the bed he lies on, the metal frame creaking as he moves.
He halts. He isn't sure why, but some instinct urges him to be as silent as possible. Instinct seems like a good thing to go with, because he's realizing that he has literally nothing else. The room is not familiar.
He doesn't know where he is.
He doesn't know who he is.
He inhales in one long, deep breath, then slowly lets it out.
The not remembering who he is bothers him less than he thinks it should, and that bothers him a bit more. But the most important thing is to discover where he is.
The room he is in seems to be some sort of bedchamber. The walls are painted a soft off-white color that is both soothing and alarming in its unremarkableness. There is the bed he woke on, and a chest of drawers sitting against the wall. It contains clothing, its contents discernable spilling from one of the half-opened drawers. A small table and two chairs sit over nearer the window.
He slowly eases himself into standing and the bed makes no more protests. There are photographs on the walls; the faces in them are not familiar. The clothing in the drawers does not match the clothing he wears and would not fit him either. There are two doorways to the room in which he finds himself.
One door is open and he looks through it to find a room with walls that are covered in tile. In the far corner there is a half wall, behind which is a ceramic stool that he can determine the purpose for from scent. Nearer the door is a raised basin, and when he touches the handle above it water enters the basin before draining out through the bottom.
Above the basin is a smooth reflective surface and he sees himself, his own face. He leans closer, reaching up with his fingers to touch them to his skin as if to affirm that it is, in fact, his own face he is seeing.
He doesn't recognize himself. His features are... large. Rawboned, and made even more prominent by a gauntness that suggests he has recently spent some time being ill. But they fit with the ranginess of his frame- he is, overall, a large man. He looks at himself for a moment, trying to find anything... any memory of the person whose face this is, who lived in this body before he woke in this room not remembering who he is.
There is nothing. So he moves on.
The other door is closed. He places his hand against it; it is made of wood, like the walls, and is rough and dead under his touch in a way that some deep part of him believes walls and doors should not be. He turns the handle, listening as he hears the latch click to open. He releases his breath; he's not certain why, but he fears a trap- he fears that he is locked in here, unable to escape. Which is senseless. The window is open, and he can go out that way, if a situation should arise that he is required to do so.
He frowns. he can't remember his own face but he remembers that exiting rooms through ways that are not doors is something that will draw possibly unwanted attention to himself. What is going on here?
He pulls the door open to reveal a hallway. There are other doors, to either side. From behind the door across the hall from him he hears muffled voices.
He stops. Should he open that other door and see who is there? Will he know who they are if he sees them? Will they know him? His instincts suggest not confronting the voices until he knows more. He slips past the door and moves down the hall.
His body knows how to move silently, and he thinks that his instincts are right to be suspicious; he obviously is someone who is accustomed to moving unseen when necessary. It is likely that he has enemies who would take advantage over him in his current state.
The hallway leads him to a stairway, and he slinks down it, finding himself on the ground floor of the building. Near the bottom of the stairs is a small window and looking out of it he sees a wide street, empty of any traffic. There are buildings lining the street but they mostly appear empty. He sees a single man exit one of the doors and move quickly down the street to another door that is just as quickly and efficiently entered.
He pulls back from the window and searches deeper into the building around him. The rooms he finds are all empty, until he comes to what appears to be a kitchen. He hears voices again and leans against a door to listen.
"What do you think he will do?" a female voice asks.
"The leader will decide," a male voice answers her and she makes some noise of agreement.
He leans close to the wall and is able to see through the space where the door isn't fully shut. The woman is human, but the man with her is not. The man has... slits on his face, below his eyes and near his nose; his skin is pale, and the veins in his face are prominent.
He watches them, through that slim space. There is a noise behind him, on the stairs, and he glides from the hallway into one of the empty rooms. This room contains a large table, sat around with chairs.
There are loud footsteps in the hallway, someone running. "He is gone," a loud voice cries. A commotion follows.
He moves behind the table to the far side of the room, tense. There are no other exits from this room. But, even more, his instincts tell him that evasion will no longer serve him. His answers are in this house.
The door opens, and there is... something standing there. It is a man, with the same slits near his nose that the man in the kitchen bore. "I'm sorry," the man says immediately. "I did not mean for you to wake alone." His voice has a tonal quality to it that seems strange, but is more pleasant and familiar than otherwise. The man doesn't move from the door but does smile regretfully. "But I did think you would prefer it to my hovering."
He inhales slowly, his eyes roaming this creature. He doesn't remember. Should he remember who, or what, this is?
The man in the door just watches him.
In the end, he knows he has to begin somewhere. "Who are you?" he says.
The man in the door looks sad, but resigned. "You don't remember me. Of course, I expected it, with what they've probably done to you. But I hoped." They meet each other's eyes from across the room. "I am your brother."
He manages to suppress the curl of his lip. "You don't look like my brother."
The man in the door snarls suddenly. "It is those people, from that cursed place, Atlantis. They did this to me! But they have done worse to you, I think." The man's eyes grow calculating.
He doesn't know what Atlantis is, or why it should be cursed. He temporizes, "I don't recall having a brother." Which is a lie; he does remember, with a sudden flood of bitter longing, being a part of something- being one who was a part of a greater whole, a large... family, all together, humming in his mind, like... like, bees in a hive. He shivers.
The man in the door's smile grows angry. "Of course you don't. You don't remember anything, do you?"
And he has to admit that this is true. "What is my name?" he asks the man in test.
The man in the door steps into the room.
He, standing on the other side of the table, would find the situation more agreeable if the man in the door moved with less of an air as though he has won something.
"Your name is Todd," the man in the door says. "Kenmore. And I am Michael, your brother."
"Todd." He tastes it in his mouth. It feels odd. But then, the very shape of his face is strange to him, so that doesn't mean anything.
Michael nods. He gestures to the table that fills the room between them. "Will you hear me out? I only recently found you again, after they separated us." His smile seems meant to be encouraging, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.
Todd thinks that he would prefer having this discussion with a knife in his hand. It's a thought that surprises him. He wonders if he and his "brother" didn't get on before he forgot who he was. Or if being armed just makes him feel more comfortable, regardless. "Of course," Todd says, and he pulls a chair back from the table on the far side of the room and sits there.
Michael sits in the chair closest to the door and leans on the table. His smile becomes more pleased.
"Start with what are you," Todd tells him.
Michael nods. "I swear I was once as human as you are. The people of the city Atlantis did this to me. Subjected me to their experiments and turned me into a... a hybrid, a creature between human and Wraith."
"Wraith." The word seems like it should mean something to him. But it evokes only a vague sensation.
Michael gestures to the ceiling, and by extension to the cosmos above and surrounding them. "They are the most powerful creatures in this galaxy."
"I know what the Wraith are," Todd interrupts him. "I merely wonder why it would be to anyone's advantage to create a hybrid of them and a human."
“I am not the only victim of their unscrupulous plots. As you may have seen, there are other hybrids here.” Michael narrows his eyes. "Wraith feed upon the humans' life energy, which is their main weakness. I was helping the people of the city develop a method of protecting all the humans in the galaxy from being fed upon, but they turned against me and did this to me." Michael's eyes flash. They are odd and yellow, with round pupils. Todd finds the shape far more disturbing than the color and can't think why.
"Why would they turn against you if you were helping them?" Todd is quite certain there is more to this story. Also, he feels a slight respect for these people of the cursed city, for being the ones able to manipulate the situation to their advantage.
"Who knows what they think!" Michael snarls. "They are treacherous, deceitful beings. I am better to be rid of them, to continue my work on my own. You should well know of their treachery, having been so recently betrayed yourself."
"Oh?" Todd muses.
"You had struck a deal with them, an exchange of information. But they betrayed you, and destroyed one of your ships before their sedition was revealed." Michael meets Todd’s eyes with his own odd ones. "I know you must feel this betrayal somewhere within you, even if you have forgotten the circumstances."
Todd makes an affirming noise in his throat, but betrayal is not one of the things he is feeling.
Michael nods eagerly. "It is difficult. I have found, eventually, ways to better myself beyond what they did to me." He raises his hands. "I am stronger than a human and not dependent on feeding like a Wraith is."
He seems extremely proud of this fact. "You said they did worse to me," Todd reminds him. He tries to keep his posture relaxed, but his hands are tense and he cannot keep his fingers from curling until the nails are digging into his palm; everything about the gesture hums to him with a frisson of wrongness.
"It is what I assume," Michael says. "I do not know what they did, for I only found you after the fact. Your memory loss is similar to what I first suffered when they experimented on me. But you appear whole and well." He smiles, a slight gesture that bares pointed teeth.
"’Well,’" Todd muses. He has a dull headache that has been building since he awoke. It's... more than a headache in a way. He can feel it throbbing behind his eyes, but it's also an ache that slithers through every part of his being. He's not sure what it means.
Michael sighs. "I know it is... difficult to trust me. Especially when the mark of what they did to me lies still so heavily upon my face."
Actually, it's not his face that bothers Todd. It's still the roundness of his pupils. And the fact that his instincts are telling him that the other man's words are riven all through with lies. Todd may remember having brothers, but this man was never one of them. He is as certain of that as he can be of anything.
Todd falters for a moment; what can he truly know? Does it only seem like lies because he cannot remember who this other man is? But he has to start somewhere, trust something. And he trusts himself, whatever small pieces of himself there are left to trust.
Todd prompts, "You said the memory loss was an early symptom."
Michael brightens. "Yes. Your memory shall return to you, I promise."
"That seems a broad promise, since you claim to not know what was done to cause it," Todd says mildly.
"I don't know what they did, it is true," Michael says. His fingers tap absently on the table, as if he is thinking. "If you would return with me to my laboratory, I could run some tests that would help me determine an answer to that."
"That will not be necessary."
Michael nods, as if it doesn't matter to him, and Todd has to think that it doesn't. He narrows his eyes. "Why am I on this planet?"
"When I found you, I brought you here through the portal of the Ancestors so that no one else could find you. The people here are all loyal to me. They will not betray you."
Todd scoffs. "They will not betray you, is what you mean to say."
Michael's gaze grows calculating. "I cannot force you to trust me," he says. "Tell me of anything I can do."
Todd reaches forward and rests his hands on the table. "Let me go and seek the truth of your words myself."
Michael smiles suddenly, but he hides it quickly. "Of course," he says, voice mild. Todd's hands tense against the table; in some was he doesn't understand he has played exactly into what Michael wants.
Michael stands. "As I said the people here are loyal. They will provide you with supplies, the locations of other worlds to travel to, whatever you desire. I ask only that you take care in your travels, brother.
"And beware of Atlantis. They are out there, everywhere in this universe, seeding it with their lies. And trust me, there is no one more treacherous than their leader, Colonel John Sheppard."