Disclaimer: "Stargate" and all related characters are the property of MGM Television Entertainment. I'm just going to borrow them for a little while…

Summary: When a mysterious doorway is found on Atlantis, Dr Rodney McKay becomes trapped alone and out of his own reality. He soon discovers that every place where he ends up has one disturbing thing in common and he gets hurt.

Rating: T

Setting: After Season 5's Identity. Spoilers for all seasons.

Chapter 1 – The Doorway to Nowhere

"I don't know why we have to come with you," Ronon grumbled as he stalked along the corridor behind Rodney, John and Teyla.

John smirked and turned to him, "McKay's scared of the dark."

"No, I am not!" Rodney snapped. The effect was ruined as he shuddered, "This place just gives me the creeps."

Teyla glanced around the corridor and frowned in confusion, "I do not see anything creeping, Rodney."

"Only my skin," he replied with another tremble.

They continued walking for a few more seconds. Rodney held the scanner out in front of himself as he stayed behind Sheppard. The corridor was dimly lit and cool air came from the ventilation shafts all around them.

John sighed and stopped suddenly. He turned to Rodney and asked the scientist, "McKay, why are we doing this? It's Atlantis. We've been here for nearly five years now. I don't think anything's going to jump out at us after all this time."

Rodney huffed an angry breath and folded his arms over his chest, "You know that now you've said that, we're probably going to get attacked by giant rats or killer robots which have been hiding from us for all that time."

Ronon chuckled and fingered his blaster absently, "At least it'd give me something to shoot."

Teyla glanced up and down the passageway and asked evenly, "So, where are we going, Dr McKay?"

He glared at John for a moment longer and then his expression softened as he turned to Teyla. He smiled and said, "A lab which I have been meaning to check out for the past few months since I found reference to it in the Ancient Database."

John turned around and carried on walking up the corridor. Rodney sighed and followed. He continued his explanation while they walked, "The database mentions a powerful device, which was so dangerous that the Ancients sealed the lab and the surrounding area."

He gave the back of John's head a pointed look and lifted his chin righteously, "That's why I asked you to come with me. Who knows what security and defences are in place around such an object."

Teyla lifted the P90 clipped to her tac vest a little higher. She moved up to walk shoulder to shoulder with Rodney to protect him now that he had revealed the potential danger.

Ronon asked from behind him, "So, what is it and what does it do?"

Rodney shook his head and rolled his eyes, "As usual, there was hardly anything in the records. The only other things in the database were a cryptic warning and the Ancients also recorded that they could not destroy the device no matter what they tried. They decided to keep it here to protect it and to keep other people from finding it."

John said calmly, "I'm not sure I'm liking this mission very much anymore, McKay."

Rodney shrugged and drew in a deep breath, "Well as you said a moment ago, we've been here for five years and the device has been here for another ten thousand. If it really was that dangerous, we would know about it by now."

They rounded a corner and John flicked on the light of his P90 as the lighting dimmed even further until they could hardly see. They were deep down in the city, far below the water line where no daylight from the windows or balconies could pierce the darkness.

"Isn't there any power on?" Ronon asked as he unholstered his blaster like there were Wraith all around them.

Rodney pulled a torch out of his tac vest and shone it down the corridor. He was still using the hand scanner and answered distractedly, "No, emergency power only. The lab where we are heading is completely powered down to reduce the risk from whatever is inside. It should also have deactivated the defences."

They walked on and on down the seemingly never ending corridor. Rodney muttered, "Shame the nearest transporter was also deactivated. My feet are cold."

Ronon patted him on the back and narrowed his eyes as he grinned, "The walk will do you good, McKay."

Rodney frowned as he kept his eyes fixed on the tiny screen clutched tightly in his hand as his torch played along the floor in front of him.

He suddenly held up his hand and turned towards a door they had just walked past. He kept looking at the scanner and announced excitedly, "This is it!"

He dashed over to the door before the others could stop him. He quickly pulled off the darkened panel over the opening mechanism. John rapidly came over and pushed his hand against Rodney's chest and forced him away from the panel.

McKay hissed, "Hey!" indignantly as his back contacted with a sturdy wall of Satedan who stood behind him.

John turned to him with an intense expression, "I'll go first. Tell me how to open it."

Rodney curled his upper lip into an angry snarl because the Colonel was going to see the room and its mysterious contents first. He then pointed at the control panel and mumbled instructions. He handed over a small portable power cell he had tucked into one of his pockets and John soon had the system rigged up. The door opened just enough for someone to curl their fingers around the edge and pry it fully open.

Ronon went over and helped John to do just that. Between their grunts, they soon had the door fully open and revealed the pitch darkness beyond the corridor. The black gloom welcomed them inside with a whisper and Rodney shuddered and stood back with his eyes wide in fear. Almost as though his unblinking gaze could see through the darkness to find out what the lab had been hiding from him for all these years.

John turned around and smirked, "The Ancient defences are obviously a bit clapped out."

Rodney grimaced, "We're not inside the lab yet, Sheppard. I expect the lack of power in this section has probably disabled them. Well that or hmm, say, ten thousand years underwater."

Teyla frowned and said, "Or perhaps they were only mentioned as a deterrent and there are actually no defences at all."

Ronon stared into the gloom unflinchingly and said, "Deception?"

John smiled, "I don't care if their best scientists were just having a joke to keep everyone away from their star project, I want to know what it is now."

Rodney sighed angrily as Ronon grinned back at him knowingly as he realised John made his comment at McKay's expense.

John lifted up his P90 with the flashlight still on. Rodney raised his torch and held his scanner more tightly as he followed them into the mysterious room.

After only a few seconds, John was glancing around the lab incredulously as he tracked his P90 over the walls and floor. He turned to Rodney with a look of disappointment, "Is this the right place?"

Rodney was well inside the room and studying a hoop of metal imbedded in the floor in the centre of the room. It looked like a doorway of some description. It was slightly taller than he was and he could have walked underneath it. He decided not to and instead he moved his torch over the Ancient text all around the object.

He turned to John and replied, "Yes, I believe it is."

Teyla went over to him and stood nearby as she too looked at the text, "What does it say?"

Rodney sighed in frustration, "Just another warning. The usual nonsense, just like in the database."

Ronon asked from the other side of the room, "So, what does it do?"

Rodney walked over to the single control panel at the edge of the room and plugged in his tablet. The others stood around the edge of the lab and watched the scientist while he worked.

He pulled out another power cell and was about to plug it in, when John called out to him, "Hey, is it safe to give this room any power at all?"

Rodney grimaced and answered in a clipped and annoyed tone, "Yes, yes! You already powered up the door slightly to open it. Just move away from the device and don't walk through or under it."

Ronon mumbled, "Like we'd want to do that."

Rodney sighed and turned back to the control panel. He had to lean over slightly at the waist to reach the buttons. He was now the closest one to the device as the others backed away, but none of them had realised this yet and they had no idea about the danger he was in.

He smiled as he plugged his tablet into the console and the portable power cell gave it enough energy for him to start downloading the data. He tapped on the screen and narrowed his eyes. "Hmm, that's interesting," he muttered as his eyes darted along the lines of text.

"Oh, no!"

Teyla asked in alarm, "What is it?"

Rodney only had a brief moment to look up at her and grab onto his tablet and hug it against his chest tightly. Teyla shone her flashlight into his face. She baulked at the fear she saw in his terrified eyes and the way his lips were set in grim resignation of what he knew was about to happen.

The lights in the room shone brightly and there was a loud hum of energy as the room drew power from an unknown source and all the systems activated. The occupants of the lab had to close their eyes in the sudden blinding brightness and there was a loud cry.

The panicked sound ended abruptly and the lights turned out. The scene was plunged into darkness once more as the power left the room.

Teyla glanced over to where Rodney had been, but he was gone. All that was left to mark where he had once stood was a flashlight rolling along the floor. Some severed leads were swaying from the control panel where his computer had been wrenched out of the console.

She asked the others, "Where is Rodney?"

John's brow was furrowed and he frowned at the spot where his team mate and friend had been only a moment ago.

Ronon was able to answer, "He got pulled backwards and through the arch. But he didn't come out the other side."

John circled around the metal hoop and then stopped. He said, "We need to get Zelenka down here. But it's too dangerous to give this thing any power in case it happens again. McKay took all his data with him, wherever he's gone."

Sheppard looked at the lettering on the archway with a slightly lost expression and he sighed sadly.

Teyla gave him a reassuring look, "We'll get him back, John. We just need some help."

Ronon narrowed his eyes at the archway in an intense expression. He mumbled, "I wonder where he's gone?"