Prologue

Rodney McKay was dying. He was sure of it . . . .and man, was he pissed off. Lying in the dark, dank closet, he tried to shift into a more comfortable position but nothing would alleviate the ache in his arms where the bindings held him in place. He couldn't believe, after all he had been through, all he had survived, that he was going to be taken out by a couple of thugs. Oh, yes, Dr. Rodney McKay was righteously pissed.

He was furious at Radek for being so dumb as to be caught in the first place. He was royally pissed off at John Sheppard for being such an ass and refusing to help. But mostly he was pissed off at himself for not waiting for back up, for getting caught.

As Rodney continued to list the screw-ups that led to his current condition, the door of the closet opened to reveal two shadowy figures. MdKay squinted his eyes and tried to scoot back away from the men but his body had long ago stopped obeying his commands. Picked up by the arms, McKay was dragged fifty feet and deposited on the operating table. He tried to struggle as the electrodes were again placed on his head and up his nose in his sinus cavities but he just had no strength. Strapped down, he waited for the inevitable pain to begin.

A limping walk could be heard just over McKay's shoulder as a ghostly white face came into view. For the first time, someone spoke, surprising McKay.

"You know, Doctor. No one has ever been as resistant to our probe as you. Perhaps it is due to your intelligence. Yes, it may have served you well in this circumstance to not be quite as smart as you are. However, we will find what we seek or you will die – more than likely both.

Rodney ran his tongue over broken bloody lips. His voice sounded like he had been swallowing gravel when he said, "You haven't asked me anything . . . .What do you want?"

The ghostly face smiled, his black eyes glittering. "Ah, Dr. McKay. You wouldn't tell us what we wanted to know. You may not even know you have the answer we seek. This is the best way." The ghost looked up and nodded to an associate. "the most reliable way."

Rodney tensed but there was no way to prepare for the agonizing pain that radiated through his body. His screams could be heard done the corridors and the other prisoners shuddered in fear, trying to hide in the darkened corners.