Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or its characters… (or the other random whatnot I referenced in this chapter, you'll see what I'm talking about...if you read it.)

Author's note: Some more, just because... (Honestly, because I've already had this written for well over a year, I think)

WARNING: CONTAINS GORE AND POSSIBLY INCOMPREHENSIBLE TIME LAPSE FROM LAST CHAPTER


We'll just pick the lock and get out of here!

Yeah, that was a smart one. He had been furious at first, when Rodney had revealed that he had been capable of picking the lock practically the entire time of their incarceration (thanks to the metal barb the witch-woman had removed from John's leg-when you dodge a mace, make sure you fully clear it). But after they had been caught and beaten to within an inch of their lives (well, John had taken the brunt of their aggression) it seemed like not all that brilliant of a plan. But could John really be blamed? He had been getting the shit kicked out of him on basically a daily basis for going on two weeks. At least, McKay told him it was about two weeks since they had been ambushed and nabbed for the sick gladiator-esque games. And McKay was in a much better situation to keep track of things like the days-he still had most of his brain cells and non-tenderized organs.

McKay!

Sheppard pushed himself up off of the ground, only to discover that he hadn't the strength to make it past his knees. He hobbled over to where the other man was lying, both of them back within the confines of the cramped cave-cell. It was an immensely difficult task for something that should be so simple. It felt like someone was stabbing him repeatedly in the stomach, and twisting the blade just to make the torture go a little further. And then he heaved. And it was the most repulsing, disturbing vomiting experience he had ever had.

It wasn't so much that it felt like someone had reached down his throat, dug their nails into his stomach and attempted to rip the organ out of his body. It was more the contents of said organ that were revealed as they splashed out and began to soak into the generous amount of sand-cover upon the cave floor. There was acid, its presence made known whilst it tracked its fiery way up his esophagus. But that wasn't the disturbing part, either. The thing John really hadn't wanted to see was the thicker red fluid mixed in amongst the bile-blood.

It wasn't something he had wanted to see, but it didn't really surprise him either. The large barbarian-like guards had beaten him pretty good, expertly in fact. He could almost admire their skill, if it hadn't been used against his one and only body (no exchanges or refunds if it got damaged). They hadn't gone for the face (at least there was that). But why would they have? That was amateurish or implied some sort of personal connection. Their intention hadn't been to place fear into him or those who would see him, nor had it been to give him brain damage. A man with a damaged brain might not realize he was messed up bad, might not feel the terror of imminent, agonizing death. But a man with full cognitive abilities would quickly realize how efficiently a job they had done turning his internal organs into mush.

John let himself collapse onto his side, curling up into a fetal position as he contemplated the severest beating he had yet received (and hopefully ever would receive) in his life. So, his organs were bleeding into his stomach…It could be worse, right? Possibly? He was at least still alive. Although, with this particular kind of internal damage, for how long would that hold true?

That brought up an interesting thought.

Where exactly would John go when he died? Everyone kept calling him a warrior, so maybe he'd go to the warriors' heaven, (what did the Vikings call it) Valhalla. Yeah, that was the place…feasting for an eternity, drinking, rough-housing, telling tales of impressive feats, women. But Viking women…big, voluptuous blondes? John wasn't too keen on large beauties. Maybe that wasn't where he wanted to go…

Wasn't there another warriors' heaven he'd heard of before?

What was it? StoVoKor? Wait a minute! That was Star Trek Klingon heaven. Why would he go there? Plus, their women were far less appealing than the ugliest Viking chick he could conjure. Then again, it was all make-up wasn't it? The actresses had to be attractive, they were actresses after all. And he was pretty sure, if he was remembering correctly, that the one woman who played B'Elanna , what was her name? Roxann Dawson? She was fairly hot in real life. So maybe that wouldn't be so bad…

And John realized that he was some kind of sci-fi nerd to be thinking about Star Trek in his last moments of life.

Sci-fi nerd?!

Shit! John had completely forgotten about McKay, consumed by the depressing realization of his imminent, agonizing demise. He needed to check on his friend. That one blow to the head Rodney had received, which 'unfortunately' made him unconscious and unavailable for the kick-the-crap-out-of-the-escapees smile-time variety hour, probably was concussion-worthy. And if he didn't wake the scientist up now, he might not ever wake up again. And two of them dead would be worse than one. Someone had to fetch the calvary, as well as formulate and execute a revenge plan.

"Rodney!" he tried to shout, but his dry, stomach-acid-corroded throat refused to allow him anything beyond kindergarten indoor-voice level, that is, if the child had been a chain smoker since birth. When the man refused to respond, John grabbed his shoulders and began to shake him violently.

The movement, however, affected John far more than the unconscious man, and he had to quickly turn away to empty the contents of his abused stomach again. More blood, less acid. And the blood was darker, the liver its origin. As far as John could remember, liver damage was bad, very bad, poison seeping into the gruel-like substance his insides had become bad. He was mildly happy to note that no chunks had made it into his stomach yet, but maybe that was just because his internal organs had truly been reduced to oatmeal consistency.

After taking a few seconds to catch his breath (which also imparted a happy thought, that although some of his ribs had definitely been broken, his lungs had managed not to collapse-yes, things were looking up), he turned back to his forever-the-pain-in-the-ass friend, and smartly slapped him across the face.

This got Dr. Rodney McKay's attention, pulling him from the black, dreamless sleep the blow to the back of the head had propelled him into.

"WHAT THE HELL!" he shouted reflexively as he sat bolt upright. He turned to his friend and winced. Looking around, taking in the stinking pools of vomit and blood soaking into the sand floor, his wince turned into a wide-eyed expression of panicky fear.

"Are you alright? Am I alright?" He patted himself down, then looked back at the barely kneeling heap that was Colonel Sheppard. "Are you alright? What happened? Did we escape?"

"Yes, Rodney, we escaped," John said flatly, managing to call up the strength for at least a last little bit of sarcasm. "And Elizabeth was so pissed at us for getting into trouble again, she kicked my ass. Then she threw us back in this hell hole to think about what we did."

McKay just stared blankly at him for several seconds, confusion claiming his features.

"Of course not!" John continued on berating his friend. It made him feel better, and he might as well get it in while he still could. "I thought you were supposed to be a genius or someth-

The insult was cut off as John's stomach was topped off with blood, triggering a gag reflex, and releasing the tainted fluid from his body. When he was done vomiting, he returned his attention to his comrade, this time self-consciously wiping the stomach acid and blood (but mostly blood) from the corners of his mouth. He tried to swallow the taste down, but his body had apparently stopped producing saliva for some strange reason. He supposed dead men didn't need to eat, and his body didn't need any more fluid accumulating inside of it.

John let himself collapse again, rolling over to lie on his back. It was easier to breath, eased the pain a little.

"We need to get out of here, McKay, and fast," he announced from the ground.

"You saw what happened last time," the scientist replied grimly. He had never quite seen the man this badly damaged before. The only time he had been worse off was when they had stopped his heart, but even then he didn't look this pathetic. He was incredibly pale, vomiting blood, and looked as if he were about to lose consciousness at any moment. "And you're in no condition to make an escape."

"Wrong again, my incredibly dumb, smart friend," John corrected. "I'm in no condition not to escape."

"What is that supposed to mean?!" Rodney hated it when people weren't being straight with him. Only he was allowed to lead people around in circles, ridiculing them for not understanding what was blatantly obvious to his genius eyes. John clutched at his stomach, apparently in pain, curling up on his side, then rolled onto his back again. "Sheppard! What's wrong?"

"I don't have much time, Rodney," he managed to choke out. "If I don't get back to Atlantis, get serious medical attention, and soon, I'll die."

"It can't be that bad," McKay said patronizingly, more to convince himself. He knew that without Sheppard, he didn't have much chance of escaping himself. John was the muscle, military, escape tactic guy. Alien technology saving the day was McKay's purview. And for medical stuff, they needed Beckett…

But that didn't stop McKay from trying, from just wanting to know that it wasn't that bad, that everything was going to be okay, that his friend was going to be okay. He lifted John's shirt, what remained of it, up, exposing the flesh of his torso. "See, it's not…that…bad…"

Alright, so it was pretty nasty looking. The colonel's entire stomach was turning various shades of blue and purple as blood pooled beneath the skin, a degree of bruising unlike any Rodney had ever seen or heard of before. And through the strange bandage that the healer-witch-lady had fused to the skin of his stomach, Rodney could see the blood beginning to flow, the partially healed wound reopened from the severe onslaught of abuse he had received. That in of itself would've been crippling, but it wasn't the life-threatening part.

Maybe Rodney was a bit of a hypochondriac at times, but he didn't think he was over-diagnosing his friend's condition as probably fatal. Throwing up blood, severe abdominal pain…he was bleeding internally. The question was 'How much time did he have?' And 'what could Rodney possibly do about it?'


A/N: Duh, duh, duh! Okay, I seem to always end the chapters with Rodney pondering how futile the situation is, but he is a worrier, so… Plus, you have obviously noticed what I like to write (or what I am only able to write about) is the post-violence suffering.

A/N2: They will be saved. Maybe…maybe I'll decide that no one seems to care enough and end their suffering. Perhaps, you should review just in case…