“Are we nearly there?!” McKay groaned from the back of the single-file line.
“For Heaven’s sake, Rodney, we’ve only been walking for half an hour!” John replied, exasperatedly from the front.
“I’m sure we’re almost there.”
“We better be, because my legs are killing me and it’s hot!”
“Oh, stop complaining, McKay. We told you it was a desert planet, but you came anyway so just shut up” Ronon grumbled, irritatedly as he wiped his brow.
“Okay, look. There’s an oasis just there. We’ll stop there and have a rest then we’ll keep going, okay?” John inquired and his team glanced to where he was pointing. Sure enough, there was an island-like patch of trees and greenery about a mile to their left. They turned towards it and started for the shelter, finding comfort in the idea of shade and water. After about half an hour of trudging, they finally made it to the oasis and collapsed in the shade underneath a tree. Ronon stood up a few minutes later and went over to the pool in the center of the greenery, past a few trees.
“I’m getting a drink,” he informed the others and kneeled to dip his hands in the cool water. After several minutes of gulping down water, he finally stood and turned back to his friends. Suddenly, a blade flew in front of his face and embedded itself in a tree, a foot to her right. He spun around, his hand flying to his gun, but the attacker was much too quick and disarmed him, pointing the gun at him instead.
“Hey, Guys?!” he shouted, furiously, holding his fists up in defense. Leaves rustled and sand was kicked up in the air as his team came barreling through the foliage and yanked out their weapons, pointing them at the attacker. John specifically paid close attention to detail. The attacker was masked with a tan cloth around most of their face and goggles that seemed to block out the blinding sun. They were hooded, hiding the rest of their head. Their outfit consisted of a long tan trench coat, tan trousers, and a similarly colored vest underneath the coat. The attacker also wore tan leather boots.
“Who are you?” John spoke up and the attacker finally pried their stare away from Ronon; However, kept pointing the gun at him as they turned their gaze to John. When they looked at him, the attacker went rigid all of a sudden and dropped the gun before taking off through the foliage.
“Wait!” John cried, starting after him. Teyla and Ronon exchanged a glance before following close behind. McKay let out a groan but followed.
“What’s his deal?!”
“It looked like he recognized me!” John shouted back as he ran headlong after the hooded attacker. Suddenly, the attacker disappeared from view and the team stopped in a slight clearing. John took a step forward and immediately, the team was trapped in a large net. Their attacker reappeared from the shadows and pointed a gun at them, once again.
“We don’t mean any harm! We just want to talk-” John was cut off by the sound of the gun powering up and froze.
“Leave this place. Immediately,” the attacker growled, his voice low and dark. He swung his arm out and John heard the rope confining them snap before they all fell to the ground. When he managed to stand again, the hooded man was gone.
The attacker from before jumped through the trees of the oasis, watching the group carefully from above.
‘Why is he here...? Why are any of them here?’ he growled as he thought, his mind aflame with anger.
‘They have to leave... How do I make them leave?!’
He dropped out of the tree he’d landed in and landed a hard punch to the truck, splintering the wood and making the tree lean as a result.
“Damn it!” he snarled, repeating the commonly said phrase among the humans he’d spent time around. However, he realized a little late that he'd said this out loud. As if on cue, a rustle came from the bushes behind him and he leaped back, spinning around as his hand went for his gun. He jerked it from its sheath and pointed the barrel squarely at the hidden target. The bush shifted once again before none other than John Sheppard stepped out his hands in the air as a surrender.
“Don't shoot, I just want to talk! Please!”
The former attacker stepped forward, closer and closer to Sheppard until the barrel of his gun was in the Colonel's face. But John refused to move. He knew that whoever this guy was, he'd recognized him. He kept a determined look on his face until at last, his former attacker lowered his weapon, quickly backing away, unable to pull the trigger. John dropped his hands and half glared at the guy.
“Who are you? I know you recognized me. So who are you?”
The man shook his head, sighing in what sounded like defeat before reaching up and ripped the edges of his mask. Then with a swift motion, he pulled it off and dropped it. It fell on the sand and he stood with his head lowered. Sheppard slowly approached him, cautious, but curious. He stepped around him, quickly and went to take his weapon, but froze when in the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of his face. He felt his gut drop.
The Wraith sighed as he looked up, shifting his yellow-green eyes to look John in the face.
Suddenly, something snapped in the Colonel’s mind.
“You son of a bitch! I thought you were dead!” John hollered, shoving his palms against the Wraith’s chest, though it made no real effect. Todd simply looked back down with a rather defeated look on his face.
“What the hell, Todd?! I thought- we- you son of a-”
Todd’s hand shot forward and he pressed a finger against the Colonel’s lips, sighing heavily.
“John...stop ...Please...” he replied, quietly, so soft it was hard to hear him. The Colonel felt his anger suddenly disappear and be replaced by worry.
“Todd ...what happened...?”
The Wraith thought for a moment before suddenly slamming his fist into the tree he’d previously hit before, making it fall to the ground with a loud crash. The Colonel startled but said nothing as Todd motioned for John to sit, implying he’d be here a while. He did as he was told and waited patiently as Todd began collecting fallen branches for a fire as it was beginning to get dark. By the time he’d built the fire, it was dark and had gotten chilly very quickly. When he was finished, the Wraith sat beside the Colonel.
“It is a long story, John Sheppard...”
“I’ve got literally all night...”
The Wraith tried a slight smile, but it didn’t quite make it through.
“It would seem I am quite capture-prone, Sheppard...” Todd began as he started his story of the last few years. He told the Colonel of how his men had been slaughtered, how he’d been captured and tortured by someone he’d thought was his friend and how difficult it’d been on this planet without anyone or anything around except sand and some trees. He told him of how he’d felt during this time, through great effort and how he’d managed to escape his imprisoner. There was a certain tone of despair in his voice as he kept his head low throughout the tale until at last he was finished and he waited in silence for any questions he knew Sheppard would have. The Colonel; However, was shocked into silence, his eyes wide and his head down as he tried to process it all. The very thought of all Todd had been through was enough to make him sick to his stomach. But one question, above all, was prominent.
“But...Who captured you...?” he croaked and looked over at his friend who held his head in his hand. His voice cracked when he went to reply and this nearly brought tears to Sheppard’s eyes, seeing such a strong figure in such pain.
Todd winced and leaned away from the loud outburst as if it frightened him and John took this as a cue to quiet down. He thought for a moment before sighing, reaching out to place his hand on his compatriot’s shoulder.
“ Todd? Can you explain any further?” he asked, gently and after a long pause, the Wraith agreed.
“I'm not sure why, if she had a reason, she did not tell me, but she lured my troops and I into a trap by sending out a false distress signal. She drew me out by slaughtering my soldiers until very few we left. After two groups disappeared, I went down to see what the problem was. When I arrived, she ambushed me and took me hostage for over a year,” he explained in a broken tone. John sat and listened until he was finished.
“...What did she do to you...?” He asked, fearing the answer. Todd was silent for a moment before slowly lifting his hand and removing the glove. He then held it up to show John, his hand trembling and revealed the scarred, but healing slash across his feeding organ. Or at least where his feeding organ used to be. John stared, bewildered for a while.
“Todd ...what the Hell...she did this?”
The Wraith simply nodded, dropping his hand as if it were too heavy to keep in the air. John took a moment to absorb this new information, trying to calm his horrified heart as it stuck his ribs at a rapid pace.
“And she didn't tell you why? Did you ask?” the Colonel asked quietly, hoping not to push too far, but feeling the need to know.
“I did ask. Many times. She never answered... through words, that is...”
He looked down, shuddering as if he could feel her presence behind him. John made a split-second decision that he prayed he wouldn’t regret as he reached out and wrapped his right arm around the Wraith. For a moment, Todd froze and tensed, but relaxed almost as quickly as he had done so. He glanced over at his compatriot with a weak smile. His fangs had dulled into almost regular teeth and his eyes had lost their animalistic gleam. He no longer seemed to have that playful nature either, John noticed with worry.
“Hey, Todd?” the Colonel asked after a while.
“Yes, John Sheppard?”
“What’s your favorite thing about this planet?” he asked, trying to lighten the mood. Apparently, he had succeeded as the Wraith smiled a toothy grin. He looked up and chuckled.
“Look up, John Sheppard,” he said and John did as he was told, tilting his head back to look up. He gazed up at the tree leaves, fruits, and the starry sky above and without realizing, he too smiled.
“That is my favorite thing about any planet, John Sheppard,” Todd replied in almost a purr, sending a pleasant shiver down Sheppard’s spine. The two lay down beside each other with their heads propped against the fallen log, just staring at the sky for the longest time.
That is until they got an uninvited interruption via Ronon Dex.