Rating: PG-15, gen
Summary: In the name of their Gods, people can act like monsters.
Disclaimer: Not Mine
Word Count: 2,643
Warnings: Implied sexual assault.
All in all, the mission to Arla Guyl was predictable. The Arla Guyl welcomed the Atlantis team warmly and without pretense. Their negotiators were less friendly, but Teyla found them professional and fair. She preferred dealing with peoples who were able to represent themselves well; it assured her that Atlantis was not taking advantage. The mediation was brief, the basic terms already settled and Teyla’s presence little more than a ceremonial conclusion. She was a little disconcerted by their reverence for the Ancestors, but ultimately dismissed it as a longing for safety and protection from the Wraith.
Many aspects of the mission were typical. McKay could not remember what the people called themselves, so he alternated between “Argyle” – which Sheppard said was a kind of carpet – and “Arugula” – which Sheppard said was a leafy green vegetable. It was fortunate the Arla Guyl did not understand these terms, as they would have found being called a plant very offensive. They may not have known the specifics, but the negotiators did notice Sheppard snickering every time McKay made the mistake. Teyla wasn’t too concerned as terms were already reached, but she sent McKay away from the mediation table anyway. She didn’t know what the Arla Guyl were like angry, so it was safer for McKay to go be with Ronon, who was sulking by the door because he thought the mission was boring and they wouldn’t let him sit at the negotiation table with his gun.
The celebration of their trade agreement was also mostly typical. The Arla Guyl slaughtered a large farm animal and roasted it over an open fire. Sheppard was pleased because he said it tasted like a “cow that ate oranges”. Ronon was happy because they gave him the creature’s entire left rear flank to eat. McKay was agitated after Sheppard’s comment about the meat’s citrus-like flavor, but then Ronon tried to steal his plate and he made the rest of his complaints with his mouth full.
Arla Guyl beer was sweet and thick, and perhaps more alcoholic than Sheppard’s team was accustomed to. The serving priestesses also refilled their glasses quickly, such that it eventually became hard to remember just how much they’d each consumed. Teyla found herself slipping sideways, ending up with her cheek pressed again Ronon’s bare shoulder. His skin was warm, or her face was hot, but it felt nice so she didn’t move. Ronon looked down at her from beneath his eyebrows. It was a funny angle to look up at him from and Teyla grinned into his bicep.
She could hear Sheppard and McKay – both equally and obviously intoxicated – arguing about something. Teyla caught a few words and determined their conversation involved the attractiveness of the priestesses with the beer. When her head was lighter and she could lift it again, she would tell them that one of the key requirements of the Arla Guyl religious order was celibacy.
But Teyla’s head only got heavier, such that she was leaning hard against Ronon and he was the only reason she hadn’t fallen out of her chair. She had the awareness to realize this should probably be upsetting, but at the same time she was too fuzzy-headed to think about it fully. A loud crack distracted her, as Ronon fell face-first on to the table top and stayed there. Teyla stared at him, alarmed, then realized she was unsupported and toppled sideways after him.
She woke up with a headache, and something scratchy tickling her nose. She blinked and blinked, painfully lifting a stiff neck to realize her face was pressed into Ronon’s dreads. Her mind was clouded and it was difficult to think clearly, but Teyla instantly realized something had gone very, very wrong. With difficulty, she pushed herself up with her hands and took in their surroundings.
They were in a cell. And that included McKay, who was flat on his back on the other side of Ronon. She could hear him snoring steadily; a sound that was usually very annoying but today was suddenly reassuring.
Sheppard was not there. Teyla looked twice around the small cell, initially not trusting her own blurry vision.
Teyla pulled herself on to her knees, nearly overbalancing and toppling back to the floor. Doubting she could rise any more, she leaned over and poked Ronon in the stomach.
The Arla Guyl finally reunited the team after two days. It had taken Teyla vowing that Ronon would stop attacking their guards. She had made no such promise herself, which wasn’t entirely honest. But she was angry and felt betrayed, so there was hardly any reason to be truthful with these people. There’d been no clear explanation of why they were being held, or why they’d taken Sheppard away. The Arla Guyl negotiator, Azuli, had made vague references to their trade agreement being unfair and the need to rectify the relationship. He might have then explained how exactly that was going to happen, but McKay interrupted demanding they find Sheppard and Ronon tried to crush the man’s larynx.
That was how they ended up being taken to the Arla Guyl temple, which in itself was odd since the three days previous had been spent in a proper dungeon of sorts. McKay was working himself into a tantrum, having convinced himself that the three of them had been locked up with twice-daily meals of greenish turnips and Sheppard had been languishing with vestal virgins and ambrosia for the entire time.
Teyla let him ramble, certain he didn’t believe the story coming out of his mouth. At the same time, she was inwardly sobered, because the Arla Guyl hadn’t seemed like any kind of religious extremists until now. It seemed she’d seriously misunderstood their religious institution in her assessment of their culture. It would be wholly unfair, she agreed with McKay, but the possibility that they believed Sheppard was a deity was a much better outcome to any of the other possibilities Teyla was imagining.
Sheppard wasn’t in the throne room. He wasn’t with the priestesses, either. The women all looked deeply upset when the three walked through their chambers. Well, some of them looked excited – mostly about Ronon, which was understandable.
A little redhead darted towards their front guard, asking “Are they?”
She was wearing robe of rich, colorful fabric, unlike the plain garb of Arla Guyl they’d met so far.
“No,” their guard said, and the woman’s face fell.
“They must leave.” She frowned, having lost interest in even Ronon for whatever it was that he wasn’t.
“No,” snapped Ronon. Teyla put a hand on his arm. Ronon looked at her, and she did her best to communicate with her eyes that he could beat them all up later.
The women didn’t interfere, though. The redhead backed off and none of the other priestesses bothered them as they picked their way through the temple. Teyla was beginning to doubt the accuracy of that word.
McKay whispered that he was thinking that this so-called temple was looking just a tad bit too Ancient-y in certain places, like maybe this was already standing and when the Arla Guyl came along they heaped marble on top of the standing architecture and called it theirs. Teyla agreed. It was the kind of set up the Wraith usually came upon and wiped out in short order.
The natural conclusion to this was that the Arla Guyl had snatched Sheppard for his gene and had taken him to operate Ancestor technology.
“I have it, too,” McKay muttered, hotly. “Priestesses aren’t even looking at me!”
The Ancient architecture became a lot more obvious the deeper they got. Even Ronon, who had spent most of the journey making the face Teyla generally interpreted as meaning he’s already imagining the step-by-step way he’s going to dismember their guards, noticed it.
It got cooler and cleaner, less decorative and emptier. They didn’t see any glyphs or control panels, but everything was clearly of efficient, austere Ancient design.
Sheppard was in an equally efficient, austere, and unfortunately totally Arla Guyl-designed cell. They haven’t chosen him to be a God or hooked him to a Control Chair. They’d just shoved him in a tiny barren cell with a cot, and apparently knocked him out again. Through the bars, they could see Sheppard sprawled half on the floor, body limp.
“What did you do to him?” Ronon demanded, making as if to slam the nearest guard into the nearest wall. He didn’t, not yet anyway.
“He sleeps,” replied the guard in the rear, his stun gun already out and leveled at Ronon. “You may join him.”
But they all got to go into the cell conscious, and then the door slammed.
Sheppard wasn’t asleep. He was drugged out of his mind. Ronon lifted him back on to the cot and batted down his flailing arms. Teyla moved in, hands brushing over him as she searched for injuries. McKay kept his distance.
“Drugs make Sheppard throw up,” he reminded them, which was indeed true.
“Something’s on him,” Ronon said.
“Where?” Teyla asked, not having found anything.
She was shocked when Ronon hefted Sheppard upright with one arm and dug his other hand into his pants.
Sheppard knew something was wrong the moment he woke up. Something was pressing between his legs, inside his pants. He batted at it, sleepy and disoriented. When his hand slid past his waistband and closed around something cool and solid and not supposed to be there, he snapped fully awake. Sheppard sat up, shoved the sheet down and pulled the elastic top of his pants out.
There was a fucking alien chastity belt on his dick.
He went to grab it, hand stalling at the last second when he realized that maybe trying to pull it off was a bad idea. Sheppard stared, instead, his hand hovering over the dull metallic material stretched over his groin. He looked like a robotic ken doll. The thing extended to the edge of his pubic hair, fanned out flat against his lower belly. He exhaled deeply, trying to create a gap between the metal and his skin. It sucked in with him, though, adhered to his flesh in some way he didn’t want to contemplate.
Sheppard sat up, moved to the edge of the cot. The metal casing covered everything. It curved underneath, encompassing his testicles and sealed tightly to the skin of his ass below the crack.
But at least everything was in there. Sheppard could feel it, a bit constrained, more accustomed to cotton than to metal, but unhurt and undamaged.
Carefully, Sheppard pried at the edge stuck against his belly. It didn’t budge, didn’t even pull the skin. Fuck.
He went to pull it again, still gingerly because he had no idea what was going on underneath the metal plate. But then something stung him, underneath, sharply enough to probably have broken the skin on his pelvis, but not painful enough to be anything else thank God. Sheppard was instantly dizzy. He pitched sideways and had the vague understanding he’d just face-planted on to the floor, and then there was just blackness.
The Arla Guyl negotiator came to Sheppard’s cell about a half an hour after Teyla, Ronon, and McKay were allowed to join him.
By then, they had discovered that the device was firmly attached to Sheppard’s genitals. Ronon and McKay had more or less blocked Teyla from even seeing what it was. Sheppard probably would have appreciated their efforts to protect his dignity, but he was frighteningly limp in Ronon’s arms. McKay was, understandably, increasingly agitated.
“What have you done to him?” Teyla demanded when Azuli finally arrived.
Azuli didn’t look upset or apologetic. Nor did he open the cell door, unfortunately. Teyla saw Ronon’s gun tucked into his waistband, glanced backwards and confirmed Ronon saw it, too.
“He would not cooperate,” Azuli said. “He was given the chance.”
“Cooperate how?” Demanded McKay.
“He has the gift,” Azuli said, his tone almost serene. “He will give life to our Gods again.”
“Give life…” prompted Teyla.
“Within our priestesses,” Azuli said.
“Oh, boy,” McKay said. He rolled his eyes, about to speak loudly and obnoxiously, and make the situation worse.
Teyla grabbed his arm, dug her fingernails into his skin. McKay squealed, suitably distracted.
“I understand,” she said. “And this device?”
“What’s it doing to him?” Demanded Ronon, looming as much as he could while supporting Sheppard.
“He is resisting it, too,” Azuli said. He sounded displeased. Looking Teyla intently in the eyes, he continued: “Will you assist him?”
“Certainly,” Teyla said, immediately.
“What?” yelled McKay. Teyla shot him a look.
Ronon looked confused, but at least he didn’t say anything.
“Upon completion,” she said, “you will release us?”
Azuli looked uncertain. “Of course,” he said, and she knew he was lying.
“You must remove the device so that I may…” she paused, pretending delicacy.
“Indeed,” Azuli said. He unlocked the cell and entered, removing a small round canister from the inside of his coat. “For collection,” he said.
“Thank you,” Teyla said. She reached for it with one hand, cocked the other arm back, and then punched him as hard as she could in the head.
Azuli ricocheted off the bars of their cell.
Before he hit the ground, Ronon had retrieved his gun from the man’s person, and shot him with it for good measure.
“Huh,” said McKay, looking down at the man’s still form.
“Let’s get out of here,” Ronon said. He was still holding Sheppard upright with one arm, the other keeping his gun raised.
“You have to carry him,” McKay said. “Give me your gun.”
Ronon barely gave him a look. “Right,” he said, sarcastically.
At that, an alarm blared inside the building.
“We must go,” Teyla said, and then they ran.
The device came off without harming Sheppard, or, as McKay put it, ‘his ability to Captain Kirk all over this galaxy and any other.’
“Do not mock him,” Teyla said, sharply. “That was a horrible thing done to him.”
McKay’s face fell a little.
“I’m gonna make fun of him,” Ronon said. Teyla looked at him. “It’ll be weird if we don’t,” he said.
“That’s true,” McKay said, brightening. “Alien chastity belt? Goldmine.”
Keller chose then to stop ignoring their entire conversation, as she stepped back into the room to check on the patient. “It wasn’t a chastity belt, Rodney.”
“Well, yeah. I know that.” Rodney paused. “But it’s funnier.”
There wasn’t very much funny about the actual device, a crude hybrid of an agricultural instrument used for animal breeding and Ancient materials.
“He gonna wake up soon?” Ronon asked.
Keller nodded. “I dosed him real good so he wouldn’t wake during the removal.”
“Probably wise,” Teyla said.
“Maybe he won’t remember,” Keller said, causing Ronon and McKay to glance at each other and shake their heads emphatically. “Yeah,” she said. “I didn’t think so.”
As if overhearing the conversation, Sheppard stirred on the gurney.
“Hrrm,” he said, and immediately shoved a hand under the sheet covering him to check on himself.
“Hey, Sheppard,” said Ronon.
“Hello, John,” Teyla said, leaning forward.
“Oh look,” McKay said, “God’s gift is awake.”