This update has been a long time in progress - really kinda struggled with where to go with this story... which will teach me to start writing a fic with no clear idea of where it's going and end up having to make it up as I go along:)

We're building up to some serious Shep whumpage here. Hope you enjoy ths chappy, please review and let me know your thoughts.

I was starting to get the feeling I was really not going to like this guy.

I gritted my teeth as he stood up easily, smiling down at me in amusement as I tried not to let him see how much I was hurting. Dammit, I wanted to wipe that smirk off of his face. But right now, it seemed he held all the cards. He stood over me, his stance relaxed, casual, and watched me breathe shallowly, trying to ignore the fire in my belly, the sharp, hot pain in my shoulder. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

I looked up at his cold eyes.

"What do you expect to gain by this," I ground out painfully, unable to resist the temptation throw in a little sarcasm, "besides the pleasure of our company?" I really should learn to keep my mouth shut sometimes.

His backhanded blow rocked my head to the side and for a brief moment I think I actually saw stars. I was distantly aware of McKay's high-pitched, protesting "Oh, come on!" and a growl of rage that almost certainly came from Ronon as the pounding in my skull kicked up another notch. I took a moment to let the room stop spinning, moving my jaw carefully from side to side, working out the throbbing ache from the impact.

He waited until I got my brain in gear again and gingerly turned my head back to the front before making his point.

"I will ask the questions, Colonel Sheppard."

This was turning into a really, really bad day.

I made an executive decision to lay off on the sarcasm for a while, at least until the throbbing pain in my head settled down a bit. The guy was obviously enjoying his moment of power so I figured if I waited long enough he'd start talking anyway and tell us what he wanted. There's nothing an evil mastermind likes better than to tell everyone just how clever his plan is.

He moved away from me, one of his guards stepping closer to cover me with his gun, just in case I felt like doing something really stupid. I gave the goon a nasty smile and concentrated on not throwing up. Concussion and a punch in the gut really wasn't a great combination.

Our mystery captor certainly played the Bond villain role to the hilt, strolling around the room, confident in his superiority, regarding each of us in turn with a cold smile that I really didn't like the look of. I decided to name him Blofeld. The pain in my stomach was slowly easing but I couldn't say the same of the fiery throb of the gunshot wound in my shoulder. I tried to take my mind off it by thinking about asking Blofeld where his cat was but the fact that he wouldn't get the joke kinda took the fun out of it. There was a tiny voice at the back of my mind that wanted to ask him anyway, just for the hell of it. That little voice gets me into a lot of trouble at times.

I chanced a look around at the rest of my team as Blofeld smugly surveyed his captive audience, turning my head very carefully for fear of aggravating an already punishing headache. Everyone seemed to be following my lead on keeping quiet and letting the scary sociopath do all the talking. Ronon was leaning forward in his chair, his body tense and controlled, an explosion of violence just waiting to be unleashed. His attention was fixed on the guards, particularly the one who'd pistol-whipped him earlier. I really didn't envy that guy; he was in for a world of trouble once we got loose from here. I refused to allow myself to consider the possibility that we might not get out of here. Beyond the barely-contained fury that was Ronon, Teyla was the epitome of calm. She faced Blofeld without an ounce of fear in her eyes, her control supreme. Rodney, on the other hand, was as white as a sheet. His eyes met mine as I tilted my head gingerly to look at him and his face showed his every emotion; fear, anger, discomfort and even a measure of concern. Concern for me? I gave him my best maddening grin and saw his lips tighten in exasperation, his chin rising belligerently. Good. I needed Rodney angry, not scared. Angry at me was a good enough start.

I turned my head back and found Blofeld watching me with a small smile. He'd finished his victory lap and if I were a betting man I'd say he was about ready to give us the evil genius speech. His eyes flicked from me to McKay for a split second, a quick, fleeting look but enough to make an icy finger of fear creep up my spine. His eyes fixed only on mine, that smug smile firmly in place as he spoke.

"You're probably thinking that your friends will come from Atlantis to find you, yes?" I had schooled my face, refusing to show any reaction to his words, but his smile grew nonetheless. "Yes, Colonel. We know all about the city of the Ancestors – and the fact that its rumoured destruction is nothing more than a lie."

He paused for a moment and seemed to be waiting for a response from me but I'd learned my lesson, thanks very much, and I really wasn't in the mood for any more punches right now. Discretion being the better part of valour and all that. Despite what McKay might think, I can shut up when necessary. I met Blofeld's gaze levelly and let my eyes do the talking. From his smile I knew he'd understood every word.

"There will be no rescue, Colonel Sheppard. Your friends will not find you here. This facility is a very well-kept, well-guarded secret, Colonel. No-one in the village knows of it. None outside of my team even know of its existence. Your friends will find only that you left the village and were not seen again." He watched me closely as he spoke, gauging my reactions, using words as a weapon to try and shake me, to probe the weak spots in my armour.

I guess my lack of reaction must have spoilt his fun because suddenly he changed tack and walked over to stand in front of McKay. I couldn't help tensing up a little, wondering what the hell he was up to, and from the sly look he threw me I knew he'd seen it. Dammit.

He didn't even bother speaking to Rodney, his attention was focused entirely on me as he slammed his fist into McKay's face. The blow came without warning and left McKay reeling, his startled yelp of surprise quickly tailing off into a low moaning as he hung from his bindings, slumped sideways in the chair, his head hanging forward. Blood dripped from his nose, spattering on the bare, stone floor. A sharp word from one of the guards told me of Ronon's instinctive reaction.

"You son of a bitch!" It was stupid, I know, but I couldn't keep quiet while this sick bastard used McKay to get to me. My shoulder pulled painfully as I struggled futilely against the ropes tying me to the chair. I've never wanted anything so much as I wanted right then to kick this guy's ass.

Blofeld grinned as he flexed his right hand, working out the sting from his knuckles. I looked past him to where McKay was still tilted over to one side, making odd sputtering noises as he tried to breathe through the pain and the congestion in his nose. "McKay? You alright?"

He lifted his head at that, an expression of disbelief on his bloodied face. "Ob course I'b dot alrighd!" he sputtered indignantly. "Do I loob alrighd! He hid be! I dink he brode by dose!" McKay was working up to a fully-fledged rant when Blofeld put a stop to the festivities.

"Be quiet, Dr McKay."

His quiet words carried an undertone of menace and for once Rodney actually did as he was told, his words faltering as a combination of shock and a belated instinct for self-preservation kicked in. I found my attention pulled from McKay's pinched, shocky face when Blofeld moved back around to stand over me, calmly rubbing his knuckles as he gazed calmly down at me. The look I gave him in return was anything but calm. If I could've gotten my hands free right then I would have had them round his throat in an instant. He would've wished he tangled with Ronon instead by the time I'd done with him. But wishful thinking wasn't gonna get us out of here. And if what he'd said was true…

"There is no rescue for you, Colonel. You would do well to cooperate."

I was pretty sure I'd already decided that sarcasm wasn't the best idea in this current situation but, dammit, I was tired and hurting and way beyond pissed off and the self-preservation instinct only goes so far. I just couldn't keep the bite out of my voice as I glared up at him.

"Cooperate with what exactly? You beating the crap out of us for fun?"

Blofeld's smile was beatific and I realised belatedly I'd just given him exactly what he wanted. An excuse.

"Oh not just for fun, Colonel Sheppard," he teased, gesturing without looking at the nearby guard still training his weapon on me. I didn't see what the guard passed to him but a moment later he was crouching in front of me, a short, sharp, nasty looking blade held lightly in his hand.

"We went to a lot of trouble to bring you and your team here," he continued, "and not just for my entertainment." He twirled the knife casually in his hand, the blade dancing and spinning lazily on the edges of my vision. I refused to give the bastard the satisfaction of watching him play with the knife, ignoring his mind games in favour of staring him down. We were on a level now, face to face, and I was mildly gratified to find that he wasn't looking quite so smug now, his smile faltering a little as he met my gaze.

His voice was serious now, his eyes cold and grey as he revealed his master plan. "We want information, Colonel. Information on the Ancestors' technology, on how to use it, where to find it. This technology is our birthright, Colonel Sheppard. Entrusted to the people of the Pegasus Galaxy by the Ancestors to help defend us against the Wraith. You people have no right to it. You will hand over your access to that technology and you will teach my people how to use it."

So there it was. At last, we were getting down to business. All that had gone before was merely foreplay, getting the measure of one's opponents. Now the chips were on the table. I opted to open with a bluff.

"Well then, you've got the wrong guy. I don't know a damn thing about Ancient technology."

Blofeld's smile came back and I knew my bluff had been called. This was a high stakes game and I had the nasty feeling I'd just been outbid. "That may be so, Colonel Sheppard, that may be so." He stood up abruptly and my head spun for a moment as I moved it too quickly, trying to track his movement.

When the black spots cleared from my vision I found Blofeld standing over McKay, the knife spinning and dancing in his hand. He smiled at me. "But Dr McKay does, doesn't he?" He looked down at Rodney. There was apprehension in McKay's eyes but, bloodied nose or not, I recognised that stubborn tilt to McKay's chin. He returned Blofeld's look with a tight-lipped, mutinous glare of his own. Our host turned his gaze back to me as he murmured, "Dr McKay knows a great deal about the Ancestors' technology, isn't that so?"

Probably too late now to do any good but I kept my mouth shut this time, refusing to let him goad me into a response. I kept my eyes on Blofeld but I was keenly aware of the nervous tension to McKay's posture, his face white with fear, blood drying across his cheeks and upper lip, his eyes glued helplessly to the twirling knife in Blofeld's hand.

The palpable silence from behind me told me that Ronon and Teyla also were watching this little drama play itself out. There was a humming tension in the air that threatened to snap, to explode into violence, at any moment. My head was pounding, making me dizzy, and what I really needed right now was maybe five minutes or so without the threat of imminent pain and torture, just a little time to think, for us to find a way out of this.

It was McKay who broke the stifling silence, nervous fear pushing his voice into a higher register, making it crack, "I'm not telling you a damn thing." I had to admire his bravado as he continued, "I know how this crap works. I tell you want you want to know and you don't need me anymore and you kill me anyhow. So no way." He pushed his chin out in defiance of his own fear and I wanted to at once hug him for his unexpected bravery and cuff him around the head for his stupid, ill-timed bravery.

Blofeld's smile did not falter. "Your courage surprises me. Doctor. Our information on you is perhaps not as complete as I thought. No matter, however. I did not expect you to give up your secrets so easily." He walked away from McKay, twirling the knife idly as he moved, a man at ease in his environment, secure in his superiority. He came to a stop beside me, turning back to McKay with a considering look. I watched his every move, not liking the vibe I was getting off of him. I had a really bad feeling that this was going to end painfully for someone…

"A man may be brave in the face of torture," Blofeld mused casually, his gaze flicking from McKay to me. I caught a glimpse of something dark, something vicious in those eyes. "But how brave will he be when it is not he, but his friends who will suffer?"

He moved lightening fast and, despite my premonition, I wasn't expecting it. The blade in his hand stopped twirling and his arm moved, stabbing downwards faster than my eyes could follow. The next thing I knew was pain, roaring, howling pain, and I couldn't hold back a scream, the sound thundering in my ears, mingling with Teyla's cry, Ronon's cursing and Rodney's shocked, disbelieving, "No!"

I found myself breathing through gritted teeth, caught once again between the angry pain pulling at my shoulder and the need to curl around the new source of agony. Sweat beaded on my forehead and my vision swam, my own scream making the aching pounding in my head that much worse. I think I bit through my lip when he ripped the knife free from my thigh. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. The pain was overwhelming, tensing and trembling my muscles, robbing me of my breath, leaving me gasping raggedly, my head drooping. I was only vaguely aware of the coppery taste of blood in my mouth, of the hot, wet sensation of blood beginning to trickle down my leg.

Through the roaring in my eyes I could hear voices; Teyla calling my name, Ronon offering up dire threats to our captors, Rodney mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like "Ohgodohgodohgod.."

When eventually I lifted my head I found Blofeld standing over me, the knife spinning and twirling once more in his hand. The blade gleamed wetly, dripping blood onto his fingers as he played with it. He didn't seem to care. His smile was gone now, his voice nothing but serious as he ignored me, focusing his gaze on Rodney.

"Dr McKay. Tell us what you know of the Ancestors' technology."