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All Bets Are Off

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When John came to again, slowly opening his eyes, panic threatened to overcome him, because his eyes were wide open, but he still could see absolutely nothing.

What had happened? Had he been blinded by his attackers? John stared in the complete darkness surrounding him, taking slow, deep and calm breaths and after two or three minutes, he could detect some dark-gray shadows within the blackness.

Good. John relaxed. He hadn't been blinded, the room, cave, prison cell or whatever it might be he was in, was totally dark, only a slight, gloomy light shining through a small slit in the height where he was sitting on a cool and uneven ground. He turned his head from one side to the other, but there was nothing but blackness and John realized that the small slit just above the ground probably meant that it had to be the door to his prison cell, certainly the only way in or out of this room.

The panic had faded by the assurance of his eyesight being still intact and now, he was able to concentrate on his other senses and listen to the silent sound of water dripping from the ceiling or a wall somewhere behind him. A small, grim smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. It might be an unpleasant thought, but to know that there was water he could lick up in case his unknown enemies would let him suffer thirst and hunger had something calming. He was a soldier and would do what was needed to stay alive as long as possible. The steady sound of water dripping constantly to the ground was the only thing he could hear and this had a calming effect, too, because he didn't like the thought of having to share his current 'home' with the counterparts to Earth's rats, spiders, bugs or other unpleasant 'room-mates'.

John relaxed a little bit, feeling carefully and warily with his hands as far around as he could without moving his body. He could reach the rough, stony wall as he stretched his left arm a little bit and when there was nothing sharp, wet or hindering him, he slowly sat up, gliding on his backside back until he could lean against the wall. He leaned back, closing his eyes to fight the dizziness that had overcome him when he had sat up, the aftermath of the unconsciousness caused by a stunner still not having worn off completely.

He moved his hands over his body and clothing, feeling for injuries and his equipment. His body seemed to be unharmed, except for the effect the stunning had caused, but his equipment had been taken away from him by his attackers, of course, only his wristwatch was still in place and he found two power-bars in one of his pockets. Good, water and at least a little bit of food that would help him through the next few hours.

He sat there for a while and when he was sure that he would be able to stand on his feet without stumbling and falling down to the ground again, he slowly stood up and made his way through his prison, walking along the walls and counting his steps, orientating himself by the gloomy slit underneath the door. He needed four steps for every wall until he reached the next corner, so it had to be a square room with an area of around six square-meters. There was no other entrance, no hidden window, only the door in one of the walls. He had felt the depressions of the door-frame, but it seemed that this damn door could only be opened from the outside.

John mused about making himself audible by shouting and hammering against the door, but then, he decided to wait until someone would come to him. If his unknown attackers would have wanted to kill him, they could have shot him instead of stun and throw him in a prison cell.

John sat down again and let the last things he remembered pass before his mind's eye. He had been on one of the planets they were trading with from time to time with his team, because Jennifer needed a special root for a medicine and this root grew only in a few places. This planet was one of those few places and the roots were difficult to harvest. Rodney had stayed in the city because there had been something wrong with their energy supplies and so he had gone with only Teyla and Ronon. They knew the settlers and they had been trustworthy until now. Maybe that had changed since their last visit nine months ago.

A lot had happened during these nine months. There had been the incident with the attero device and a few other things and John was angry with himself that he had been so careless in trusting the villagers so much. Teyla had wanted to visit one of the young women who was pregnant and Ronon had stayed behind because he had seen something he wanted to buy at one of the small market stalls, a hand-made knife and John had strolled around, waiting for them, bored and unaware of his surroundings, distracted by his musings about how to beat Rodney the next time they would have their radio-controlled cars race against each other.

Suddenly, something had hit his back, white, hot pain spreading out from there through his whole body and the next thing he knew was waking up in that unpleasant and absolutely dark prison cell. He didn't know what had happened to Teyla and Ronon and he really hoped that they were free and uninjured and maybe would find a possibility to rescue him or contact Atlantis to send another team. He just had to believe that a rescue team was already on their way...

 

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He must have been dozed off, because he was roused from his slight slumber by some noise coming from the door. He blinked, feeling a little bit dazed and jumped to his feet, his back pressed against the wall, his torso bent forward, his body tense and stiff, ready to move or jump, instantly, in case he would be attacked again.

The door opened and the sudden light made John's eyes water and hurt, although it was still rather dark and gloomy, but much brighter than the light in his prison cell. He blinked several times and when he was able to keep his eyes open, he could see someone standing in the doorway. It was just a black shadow against the gloomy shine of a few torches attached to the wall of the corridor he could see behind the doorway.

The figure was rather dark and wore a large cape with a hood covering his face. The unknown being just stood there, watching him in complete silence and John stared at the person, not sure what he was supposed to do or what the other one wanted from him.

“Uhm, hello, I'm Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, nice to meet you,” he finally tried, waiting for a reaction to come from the figure just watching him. “But, I think, you already know that by now. I don't know what you want from me or why I'm here, but I'm sure, we can come to an arrangement.” He went silent, searching for something else he could say to convince his adversary to talk to him, when the person hidden underneath the cape raised his arm, waving at him to come to him. John hesitated, but then, he shrugged his shoulders. It probably would be another trap, but at least, it would be better than staying in that dark hole.

He rushed to the door and the other person turned around before he could see his or her face and headed along the corridor without looking back to see if John actually followed him. John looked around, but his cell had been at the end of the corridor and there was no other way than the one the tall figure was heading along several meters in front of him and so he hurried to follow his liberator.

The corridor was long and there were no other doors or tunnels crossing this one and John lost all his sense of time while he followed the blowing cape, wishing he had his weapon and his radio, but that probably would be too much to ask for. He was out of the cell and maybe he would find a way to contact Teyla or Ronon or the opportunity to regain his freedom again.

The tunnel was slowly, but constantly leading upwards and John realized that he must have been deep under the surface of the planet, wherever this planet was. John had no clue if he was still on the planet where he had been stunned and he didn't know if he would be able to find out where he was very soon. He had never been to this place before, he knew that for sure.

Sweat was dripping from his forehead in his eyes and his breathing became heavier, because he was still suffering from the shot of the stunners and because he hadn't drunk and eaten for several hours. His liberator had set up a very fast pace and John had to run after him if he didn't want to be left behind. During the first few hundred meters, he had asked the figure running before him some questions, but he hadn't gotten an answer and after a few more questions he had given up his tries to talk to the other being.

Just when he thought that he wouldn't be able to keep up the fast run, the corridor opened to something like a hall or cave and the person before him came to a sudden halt. John stopped, bending his torso, catching his breath again.

When he was able to speak between his ragged breathing again, he raised his head and looked around, wiping the sweat from his forehead. Now, he could see that the hall they were standing in actually was a natural cave, but revised by other beings. John couldn't tell if he had seen something similar to this before and he turned around to look at his liberator again.

“Oh no, no you don't have to do this! I'm sure we can talk about it, whatever it is you want...” he cried out when he saw the pale hand pointing a weapon at him, but before he could finish his sentence, the bright green light of the stunner blinded him and all went dark again.

 

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When John regained his consciousness again for the second time within a few hours, his hands were tied behind his back with some ropes and his feet were tied with his belt. He was leaned against one of the walls of the large cave, but this time, he could see his surroundings because of the torches attached to the wall.

He groaned because his whole body was aching after the next large dose of stunner-fire and his tongue felt thick and heavy in his dry mouth. He tried to remember the last thought he had had before unconsciousness had overcome him, something about the hand with the weapon, frowning, because he knew that it was important, but he couldn't put his finger on it, no matter how hard he tried to remember what it had been that had caught his attention.

He heard a sound and looked up, watching the person who had stunned him loom over him, still dressed in the black cape, the hood covering his face.

“Ah, I have to tell you that your last move wasn't a very kind one. Did your parents never tell you that stunning the one you just rescued isn't a very polite and appropriate behavior? I'm sure we could have come to an agreement without you having to stun and tie me like a sausage,” he joked, craning his neck to catch a look at the other one's face.

The person looming over him finally removed the hood from his head, revealing a face John had thought he would never see again. The other being bared his teeth in a rather smug grin, tilting his head to the side in a way John had come to know very well during the weeks his enemy had been imprisoned in one of the holding cells in Atlantis.

“I'm afraid that over the last thousands of years, I have forgotten how to behave polite and nice, especially in front of the Lanteans, no matter if they were the old ones long gone or the impudent new ones like you, John Sheppard.” he considered John for a while, pursing his lips and lost in his thoughts or maybe some old memories haunting him. “So, you're a Lt. Colonel now, my sincerest congratulations to that, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard,” the Wraith drawled in his dark and a little bit husky multi-toned voice. “Let us say that - hm – special circumstances caused me to change my behavior due to the happenings three years ago. But, I can assure you that I'm really pleased to see you again. I have not forgotten that you were – willing – to help me escape. I told you that we would meet again, some day and I told you that I would be your death, Lt. Colonel Sheppard. But, before it comes to that, you will help me with something your ATA-gene is needed for. So, you will live for a while longer yet, John Sheppard.”

John swallowed, staring up at the strange and alien, but handsome and fascinating male features of the first Wraith they had imprisoned. The split goatee was well-trimmed and every single hair of his hairdo was properly in place. The green-golden cat's eyes were watching him with the hunger John had noticed there every time the Wraith had looked at him and as the other male shrugged out of his cape now, John could see the heavy dark coat underneath accentuating the slim and tall body very nicely.

John looked in the Wraith's eyes again and smiled his usual crooked smile: “Hello Steve, nice to see you again.”