Chapter 1

Well, this isn't good.

Dr. Rodney McKay lay on his back, his eyes clamped shut, his body sprawled over sharp rocks and jagged branches. For a moment, he felt the fingers of unconsciousness tug at him, circle and caress him, offering an escape from the fear and pain. Then, a trickle of debris rained down on him, and Rodney could hear the unfamiliar language of the natives as they argued on the cliff above.

He couldn't understand their speech, but it sounded like they were deciding whether it was worth it to come down and finish him off. Rodney remained still, ignoring the pounding in his ears, and the feel of warmth as his blood spilled on the ground. Moments seemed to stretch into hours as he listened to the men argue and shout, then, finally, a decision made, they left, leaving the physicist at the bottom of the ravine.

Are they gone? Or are they just waiting to see if I move?

Rodney gave it a few more minutes, then, with only silence from above, cautiously opened his eyes. It was still a beautiful day, blue skies punctuated with soft, fluffy clouds. They had arrived on PX7-312 only a hour before, yet, to Rodney, it seemed as if days had passed. Stifling a yelp of pain, he flexed his hands, then raised himself to his elbows, still half-expecting to be skewered by the angry natives. He glanced around, then craned his neck to look up at the cliff. Sure enough, he was alone.

Okay. So far, so good. Oww…owww…oh no. I think I broke something.

He started to sit up, then let out a sharp breath as pain lanced his belly. He reached down, carefully lifting his off-world vest. Blood was pooling on his shirt, oozing to the ground. He had felt something hit him as he had turned and started running away from the attackers, but in his panic, he had ignored the strange ache on his left side. Now, he paled and suddenly felt nauseous as he spied the small arrow protruding from his abdomen. It was no larger than a dart, and Rodney moaned in pain and revulsion as he realized that he was going to have to remove it.

No, no, no. I can't do this.

Rodney reached up, and ignoring the shafts of pain, keyed his radio.

"Captain Lewis, this is Dr. McKay. Can you hear me?" Rodney was rewarded with the sounds of static. Grimacing, he continued to try and raise someone – anyone – on the radio, but it only hissed at him. In disgust, he dropped his hands to his sides, his pain transforming into fear.

Great. Now what?

He lay back on the ground, dizziness overcoming him. He closed his eyes, trying to find the willpower to pull the dart-thingy out of his side. It hurt like hell, and, knowing his luck, it was probably pumping poison or something into his system. Rodney knew he had to remove it, but, God, he was so afraid.

I can do this. I need to do this. Come on McKay, get your ass moving.

He sat back up, and carefully removed his backpack. He reached inside, and removed the first-aid kit that Carson Beckett insisted they all carry. Rodney had argued with the Doctor; his backpack was already heavy enough with all his electronics gear, but Carson had put his foot down.

Thank God for Carson Beckett.

Rodney selected the antiseptic, some tape and a few bandages, placing them on the ground next to him. He stared at the dart, protruding from his flesh, and, muttering a small prayer, he wrapped a hand around it.

Okay. On three. One. Two. Three. Three and a …...

"Yeeeooooww!" Rodney shouted out the pain, ignoring the fact that there might be a few irritated natives lurking close by. He yanked the dart from his side, stared at the blood on the end, and then began to shake. The dart fell from his hand, and he suddenly knew he was going to faint.

Don't pass out. Do NOT pass out. You absolutely cannot pass out, McKay.

He clamped a hand over his wound, concerned at the amount of blood flowing from the site. The pain of his hand on the open wound caused him to regain a bit of control, and he suddenly felt sharper, more alert. He reached over and grabbed the bottle of antiseptic. He lifted his ruined shirt, and started pouring the medicine over the wound.

Ohmygod, ohmygod, hurts…it hurts…

Now he really did feel like he was going to faint. Puke first, maybe, but then surely, he would pass out. He couldn't take much more of this agony. His entire body shaking from the stress and shock, he threw the empty bottle to the side, and hurriedly grabbed the bandages, positioning them over the puncture wound. Almost immediately, they were seeping with his blood, but Rodney really didn't care anymore. In fact, once he got the bandages taped down, he was going to lay down and not move until someone came for him. Hopefully it was Sheppard, but at this point, Rodney wasn't going to be picky.

Good plan. Just put the tape on and…there. That wasn't so bad now, was it?

Dr. Rodney McKay - alone and unarmed, lying at the bottom of a ravine on a distant, unfriendly world, his body beaten and bruised, his abdomen punctured and bleeding, his head lacerated, his radio dead - finally, blessedly, abruptly… passed out.