A/N: Thank you so much everyone who has reviewed. I really do appreciate it :D. Also, I want to thank Isobel Kelte for proofreading my story, though all mistakes that remain are mine. Lastly, Happy American Independence Day!
Sheppard had spent most of that night on the planet pacing his cell. His body was used to Atlantis Standard Time, and since it was only the afternoon there, he had not been tired enough to sleep. Besides, it was too cold to try to slumber. Instead, Sheppard paced the cell, rubbing his arms in a feeble attempt to stay warm. Every few moments his body would shiver violently and Sheppard could only hope that the nights on this planet were short and that the day would quickly bring warmth to his cell. However, he was uneasy about what else the new day would bring. More pain, probably, he thought to himself as his head throbbed.
Sheppard's mind wandered to when they had first encountered Bric'ien on a mission. It had been a simple mission to a planet with Ancient tech, but of course no mission with his team ever remained simple. They had arrived on the 'uninhabited' planet on a sunny morning, and began following the sensor readings to a power source that was making McKay drool. When they got to the outpost left behind by the Ancients, they discovered the world wasn't as uninhabited as they would have liked. It wasn't long before they had been captured.
They were gated to a different world by the ones who had captured them, and taken to a cell. A few hours later Sheppard was taken out to be questioned by the guy in charge, Bric'ien. Apparently, Bric'ien was a scientist/gang-lord or at least the Pegasus version of it. Sheppard discovered that Bric'ien was creating a biological weapon, he could use against other planets, so that he could steal their technology and resources. To Sheppard's horror, he also discovered that he was testing it on people he had collected from other worlds, including women and children.
Sheppard had felt sick at the thought, and had promised himself he would ensure that Bric'ien's plan failed and the other people on the world would be freed. Not that at the time he could do much about it. He was barely conscious when Bric'ien was done questioning him and had him dragged back to the cell. When he was fully aware he discovered that Bric'ien had separated his team from the other marines, and Sheppard was filled with worry over what was happening to them.
The next two days had passed in a sort of blur as Sheppard got to enjoy more of the wonderful hospitality of Bric'ien. Then Bric'ien decided to show Sheppard the biological weapon he had created. The delivery system was its vulnerability Sheppard discovered. Though Bric'ien could use the biological components to affect one person at a time, he needed a large ray like device to make it effective for his purposes.
Bric'ien had brought in one of the other prisoners, one who had been exposed to the weapon, and Sheppard had felt sick as he saw how the man's body had begun to deteriorate. Then Bric'ien explained that unless Sheppard gave him the necessary information he would use the weapon against the man's planet.
The man had broken down in tears, but had refused to beg for the lives of his family, friends, and people. Sheppard knew that he could not give away Atlantis, even to save another planet, but had felt something twist inside of him in desperation to do something. Bric'ien had realized that Sheppard would prefer to be tortured than risk the lives of others, even people he had never met.
Sheppard had refused to give away information on Atlantis, but had used any other thing he could think of to bargain with that would not hurt Atlantis and his team. Bric'ien had refused all that Sheppard offered him, but in a twist of fate, Sheppard still did not completely understand, the man whom Bric'ien had seemingly forgotten about had lunged out grabbed a rifle from a guard, and unleashed a barrage of bullets into the weapon. At least one of those bullets had hit something vital in the weapon and it exploded. Sheppard had been too close to the blast and had been knocked out by it.
He awoke to the man crouching down next to him shaking him awake. In the resulting chaos, from the weapon's destruction, Bric'ien had disappeared. Sheppard later discovered it was due to the fact that Bric'ien had known Atlantis had been looking for them and knew that Atlantis would now be able to pinpoint their location. When he was able to move again, Sheppard with the man's help managed to free his team, the rest of the marines, and all the other people Bric'ien had been experimenting on.
There was no sign of Bric'ien and most of his guards had disappeared as well. Sheppard led the mass exodus towards the gate, and along the way they were met by some rescue teams from Atlantis. Bric'ien, however, had realized that Atlantis would be there soon and had downloaded all his research and gotten out of there.
Sheppard was brought out of his thoughts as despite the cold he could no longer keep pacing. His knee was throbbing again and he was afraid if he did not sit down his leg would collapse under him while he was walking. Sheppard slowly lowered himself to the ground with his back against the cold wall. He wrapped his arms around his knees in a futile attempt to preserve the little body heat he had left.
Sheppard's mind kept going a mile a minute wondering what would happen to him in the new day, and what torture techniques Bric'ien would employ against him. So, to distract himself he began to do math equations in his head. He had always enjoyed math and he found that it often helped him to relax. Sheppard remembered McKay's face when he had first shown him that he knew something about math. It was right before he went off to rescue Sumner, Teyla, and the others who had been captured by the wraith on their first trip through the gate in the Pegasus galaxy. McKay had looked shocked to see a soldier who had any sort of intelligence and had been thrown for a loop. Sheppard could still remember his stumbling comeback and smiled quietly to himself.
Then there was the time on the planet with the brotherhood when McKay found out that Sheppard could have joined Mensa. Sheppard wasn't sure that McKay ever understood how someone could be smart enough to pass the test, but then would choose not to join.
Sheppard suddenly shivered violently, distracting himself from that train of thought. Instead of trying to remember what he had been thinking about, he began to do math equations again and hoped the night would soon be over and warmth would be brought with its end.
Sheppard heard the sound of approaching feet and quickly stood up so that he could face whatever was coming head on. He guessed that it was late afternoon or early evening on the planet, but he had no way of knowing for sure. Though his body had finally desired sleep, Bric'ien's men had ensured that it received none. Every time he began to doze off a siren would turn on, wrenching him awake. Also, Sheppard's hunger and thirst were increasing; he had not felt like eating a large breakfast before he left Atlantis and had not eaten since, though several meals and passed. Yet, he doubted that whoever was coming towards his cell now had any intention of bringing him water or food.
George came in along with three other guards and stood before the bars of Sheppard's cell. He had a huge smile on his face that made Sheppard as uneasy as hell.
"Nice of you to stop by," Sheppard quipped with a smile. "I was almost beginning to think you forgot all about me."
Sheppard's tentative idea of jumping the guards and grabbing a weapon was quickly dashed as one of the guards forced him to turn around and tied his wrists together behind his back.
Sheppard managed to only limp slightly as George led him to what Sheppard guessed was an interrogation room—or more accurately, a torture chamber.
He was made to sit in a hard metal chair with his hands tied down at his sides and his ankles shackled to the legs of the chair. Two of the guards stood behind his back where he was unable to see them, and Sheppard felt his body tighten in tension. George left the room, while the third guard stood at the door with his rifle pointed at Sheppard as if Sheppard with his wrists tied down at his sides and his legs attached to the chair could even think—well, attempt anyways—to escape.
The minutes crawled by and Sheppard wondered how long his body could remain this tense as he waited for some blow from a guard, or for Bric'ien or George to enter the room.
Finally, after what seemed like ages to Sheppard, the door to the room opened and Bric'ien entered followed by George.
Bric'ien had not changed much from how he looked when Sheppard first saw him: his eyes looked just as cold, calculating, and malicious as they had before. Though Sheppard had done a lot more to piss him off since then, and Sheppard knew that Bric'ien would take every opportunity to make him miserable.
"Sheppard, I have to say the events around your capture have given me mixed feelings. On one hand, you destroyed my weapon, all my research on it, forced me to abandon my research outpost, and are responsible for the injuries and deaths of many of my men." As he mentioned each accusation against Sheppard, one of the guards' fists impacted with some part of his body as if to punctuate the sentence.
"On the other hand," continued Bric'ien, "I can now make you pay for the damage and frustrations you have caused."
"Yeah, well, I left my credit card at home, so can we just leave it on my tab?"
Though Bric'ien did not understand the earth references, he certainly got the point Sheppard was making and gave a signal to one of the guards behind Sheppard.
Sheppard felt the impact of a heavy stick against his chest and the air rushed out of his lungs. He gave a small grunt then looked defiantly up at Bric'ien. "You could have just said no!"
Bric'ien smiled coldly at Sheppard, "I could have, but you would not have grasped my point completely: every time you say something I dislike you will experience pain."
"Maybe, but I usually prefer to not grasp the point as well and at least still be able to breathe."
"You cannot always have what you wish for, Sheppard: another point I hope to make abundantly clear to you."
"I don't know, Bric'ien, I wished your weapon and research would be destroyed and guess what-they were!" Even as Sheppard formed the sentence in his mind, he knew that he would pay dearly for that small act of insolence; he was not mistaken.
One of the guards slammed his fist into his face, while the other slammed the stick into his side with a resounding crack.
Sheppard blearily raised his eyes to Bric'ien as he gasped out, "You're probably right, though; I wished you were blown to smithereens and yet you're still here."
Sheppard knew it was not the cleverest thing to say, but it was all he could think of as his head pounded violently. McKay almost certainly would have told him that in that case he shouldn't say anything at all, especially when it got the two guards angry. It was a minute before an unperturbed Bric'ien ordered them to stop. Of course, by that point Sheppard knew he had to have at least two, if not three, cracked ribs, and had to spit out the blood that collected in his mouth from some vicious hits to his face. Still, Ronon would have told Sheppard that any act of defiance against his captor was a good idea, since it reminded you that you weren't broken yet.
As Sheppard sat back, breathing heavily, Bric'ien remarked, "After meeting you I have often wondered how you were raised and what type of family you had. What made you who you are today? Since I am a scientist I am sure you can understand my curiosity. What causes a man, I ask myself, to continually place himself in danger to help others, even people he knows nothing about? What makes this same man remain defiant even in the face of great pain? I have been especially curious since I learned from reliable sources that you are not even from this galaxy, but came from a world that had never even heard of the wraith. What kind of parents could such a man have? You are an enigma, Sheppard: one I long to break."
Throughout this little speech Sheppard tried to figure out what game Bric'ien was pulling. Yet, Sheppard could not grasp it, whether due to Bric'ien's level of craftiness or the level of pain in his head, he couldn't say; Sheppard concluded it was most likely a mixture of the two. He met Bric'ien's eyes head on and said with his usual nonchalance, "You do know that curiosity killed the cat, right?"
"However," continued Bric'ien, "I have a more pressing matter to attend to presently with you."
"Yeah? And what might that be? You interested in joining the U.S. Air force? Cause if you are, you should know they usually don't accept scumbags." To Sheppard's surprise he was not immediately dealt some sort of pain.
"The matter," Bric'ien responded, ignoring Sheppard's comments "is about the transmitter in your left arm."
"Transmitter? What transmitter? I think you've been watching to many science fiction television shows," was Sheppard's retort.
Bric'ien stepped forward and leaned in close to Sheppard; Sheppard fought the urge to lean back, but instead held himself steady and looked boldly at him.
"The one I am about to have cut out of you." Bric'ien stepped back and George stepped forward, unsheathing a knife from his belt.
"Hey…are you a surgeon? Cause I really would like to wait until I can have my doctor back at home check out your credentials."
"Trust me," smirked George as Sheppard tried to slow his increasingly fast breathing, "I am more than qualified for this."
"I'm sure you are."
Sheppard felt perspiration bead on his forehead as one of the guards undid his left arm and then pulled it straight with his palm facing upwards. Another guard held his upper arm, so that it was stretched out and Sheppard could not jerk his arm away. Bric'ien drew his anxious attention away from his arm as he said, "I did not have your transmitter removed when you first arrived on this planet for selfish reasons. I wanted to be here when it was done, you see."
"Well I personally was never too keen on medical documentaries; I always preferred to watch college football."
Sheppard tried to hold his arm steady; knowing that if he didn't it would probably hurt worse. He clenched his fists in preparation and hoped it would be over quickly. He decided to not look at the knife as it cut into his arm and he pressed his lips tightly together to keep in a cry of pain as the knife sliced through his skin uncovering the device that was suppose to help his team find him. Sweat ran down his face as George seemed to take an abnormally long time retrieving the transmitter.
Finally, George was done with his outpatient surgery, and the guards released his arm. Sheppard allowed his eyes to wander to view the new wound on his arm and watched in fascination as the blood flowed down it to form a small puddle on the floor.
"Sheppard, you really do have an amazing tolerance for pain," said Bric'ien as George had one of the other guards wrap a dirty piece of cloth around the wound to serve as a bandage, but Sheppard was sure that though it helped stench the bleeding, it also guaranteed infection. Sheppard was yanked from his thoughts when he heard George grind the transmitter into the ground, destroying it.
'Well' he thought to himself as he gazed at the smashed transmitter, 'that won't keep my team from finding me, though it probably will make it more difficult. But hey, McKay loves a challenge and I might as well give him one.'
Sheppard looked up from watching one of the guards secure his throbbing arm to the chair when Bric'ien spoke. "You know, it's always interesting to compare what you hear about someone and the actual person. You, your team, and the rest of the Atlantis expedition have left quite an impression on the people of this galaxy. Some people view you and your people as the ancestors. They think you have returned to destroy the wraith. Others think of you as nothing more than thieves who have laid claim to a city they have no right to. However, the opinions people have formed about you specifically I find even more intriguing. Many members of the Genii, for instance, look at you as a mass murderer. Apparently, killing in one minute sixty of their men will do that to a reputation. Of course, others think of you as invincible. They speak of your bravery and self-sacrifice, and yet I wonder what those people would think if they knew you were responsible for the wraith awakening?"
"You have a point to all this?" glared Sheppard as he pushed away the accusations Bric'ien was leveling at him.
"My point is that I would like to know the real Lt. Colonel John Sheppard."
"I don't know, Bric'ien," drawled Sheppard, "I haven't known you all that long and I'm not sure if I'm ready for that type of commitment."
"You may not be ready yet, Sheppard, but let me assure you by the time I am done with you, you will be ready."
"I doubt it," defied Sheppard.
Bric'ien turned away from Sheppard and spoke to the guards. "Make him stand up."
The guards undid his restraints and pulled Sheppard to the center of the room away from the chair and walls. He swayed slightly as he tried to keep his knee from buckling under him.
"Sheppard, tell me why did you not speak to your father or brother for over four years?"
Sheppard had only been paying partial attention to Bric'ien as he talked due to his horrendous headache, aching arm, throbbing knee, and difficulty in breathing, yet when Bric'ien said that Sheppard's gaze snapped up to look at him.
Bric'ien smiled cruelly, clearly pleased at how unbalanced the statement left Sheppard. "I know you are wondering how I know that, but let me assure you that it does not matter right now. What matters is why you did not return to your home until your father was dead."
Sheppard quickly sought to cover his shock and horror that Bric'ien knew something so personal about his life, but was unable to think of a glib response and had to settle for the truth. "I will never answer that question for you!"
"Very well," said Bric'ien with a bored expression, "I expected as much." He then turned to the guards and issued orders. "You may occasionally give him water to drink, but do not let him sit, rest, or eat, until he either answers that question or a new morning dawns. You may do whatever is necessary, within reason, to keep him awake and on his feet. Oh, and Sheppard, dawn does not come to this planet for another ten hours."
Bric'ien and George left the room after that while one of the guards roughly tied Sheppard's arms behind his back causing his arm to bleed again under the 'bandage'.
Sheppard estimated he had been awake for over twenty-four hours and desperately wished he could lie down, even for just a moment, to help ease the pain in his knee and head. But, Sheppard knew there was no way he would tell Bric'ien the answer to his question. He had never even told his surrogate family on Atlantis about it. Also, Sheppard knew that he would not be able to give a false reason for why he had not talked with his dad for so long. The pain of losing him without getting to say goodbye was too fresh for him to bear the idea of making something up. Even if it meant having to face pain and misery, Sheppard felt that it was one way he could honor his father. Besides, Sheppard knew that even if he told Bric'ien the truth he would simply find another reason to torture him. The entire point of all of this was revenge after all.
Sheppard shifted his feet, trying to relieve some of the pressure on his knee as his mind wandered to what Bric'ien was doing.
Sheppard had known that Bric'ien was after revenge and he knew that Bric'ien was clever and malicious enough to not settle simply for physical pain. Though he was extremely proficient at it, Sheppard's body reminded him as his leg almost buckled under him. 'No,' Sheppard thought, 'Bric'ien wants me to experience mental anguish as well.'
Sighing Sheppard realized that Bric'ien was doing a pretty good job of it too. First, Bric'ien knowing that much about Sheppard's personal life was just plain repulsive and made Sheppard feel sick. He didn't even talk to his closest friends about it, and yet somehow Bric'ien knew about it, which brought up another point. How did Bric'ien find out? Sheppard figured that the most likely explanation was that there was some sort of spy or traitor on Atlantis giving Bric'ien information. As Sheppard thought back to all the attacks on his teams by Bric'ien's men lately, it made perfect sense. Each of those missions had had no reason for the team to come in contact with Bric'ien, and yet they had. Still, there were few enough missions that were attacked to ensure that no one would suspect a traitor was in their midst, just the sort of plan Bric'ien would manage.
A worse thought, though, was that the spy was still on Atlantis, and no one there was even considering the idea of there being a traitor amongst them. The only reason Sheppard knew it was through Bric'ien himself, and Sheppard could do nothing about it. Instead, he was captured by a man who wanted to hurt him as much as possible; a man who had found a unique and effective way of doing it apparently.
Bric'ien knew that Sheppard would never betray Atlantis and give up any codes or vital information, so instead he found something that no one would blame Sheppard for speaking about. If he told Bric'ien what he wanted to know about his past and family it would put no one in danger, and yet Sheppard couldn't. The idea of telling Bric'ien what had transpired in his family to separate them felt like a betrayal. He definitely would rather face the pain Bric'ien was dishing out than let him know anything more than he already knew about Sheppard's life, and Bric'ien knew that.
Bric'ien was the worst type of enemy to have. He was intelligent; not McKay intelligent, more evil, malicious, subtle, devious, 'let me study every aspect of my enemy to find their greatest weaknesses and exploit it' intelligent. Thus, he put Sheppard in a position were he was stuck arguing with himself over the benefits of honoring his father in the only way he felt he still could, or giving Bric'ien what he wanted to hear in the hope it would satisfy him enough that Sheppard would keep up his strength until he either escaped or his team rescued him.
At this point, honoring his father definitely won out, so Sheppard continued to stand on his throbbing knee as guards watched him closely to see if he faltered at all.
To be continued…
A/N: Please review and any specific information you can give me on what you think I did right or you think I did wrong, I would greatly appreciate it. :D