Warnings/Spoilers: Major Squick warning but no spoilers for anything.
Pairing: None. Hey! I wrote a Gen fic! How'd that happen?
Summary: For the spook_me Halloween Challenge
For spook_me a person chooses a creature and then gets some comic book covers. Okay, getting those in was harder than I thought. Just use your imagination!
The creature I picked was: cannibals. Highlight to see but it's a major spoiler for the story.
Rodney looked blearily at the bowl of… whatever… that had been shoved through the flap at the bottom of door of his cell. It was the same slop that he'd been fed the previous two days. A thin, oat meal-y gruel that had little substance and even less flavor was served in a flimsy bowl that was closer to cardboard than ceramic. He was starting to get light-headed from the hunger and more than faintly worried about his hypoglycemia. While he remembered what he thought were two days here, he really didn't know how long he had been unconscious.
As he ate, he tried to make the food last as long as he could assuming, based on the previous two days, this one bowl was all he would be getting until tomorrow. Hopefully, someone would rescue them before then. Not having anything to eat it with, he used his fingers and ate it one finger scoop at a time.
He lay down in the middle of the cell, the Sprin had left him his clothes and boots but had taken his vest and weapons while he had been unconscious. Since there wasn't a bed or furniture, laying on the floor or sitting against a wall were his only options.There was a toilet corner where the floor opened to a privy pit and a small pipe of continuously – flowing wasn't the right word since that implied a certain level of volume – leaking pipe provided a source of fresh water. The fact that it was almost right above the hole for the toilet made it nasty but Rodney found the bowl from the gruel would hold together enough to use it to drink from.
He heard a noise and moved to the door. "Hey! What's going on?" he demanded.
A high-pitched giggle and a shuffling of feet.
Deep breath. "Who are you?" Rodney asked as calmly as he could.
"Dakka," sang the voice. "They call me Dakka."
"My name is Rodney," he offered.
"Ro-nee?" More shuffling, closer to the door.
A face appeared in the small opening where the food had been shoved through. "Tonight we eat the pretties!"
Rodney thought back to the walk from the Stargate and remembered the "Oohhs!" from Jennifer Keller and the nurse, Nathalie… something, as the group disturbed some brightly colored birds from their roosts. The bright plumage had flashed in the sunlight as the birds took flight. The flock had circled overhead a couple of times before settling down further away from the path.
While watching the birds, Rodney remembers a sting on the back of his neck and then nothing. The next thing he knew was when he woke up in this cell.
"Pretties?" Rodney asked."Pretty birds?"
The face – Dakka – looked puzzled for a moment and then grinned at him and nodded. "Mmmmm!"
"Share some with me?" Rodney asked carefully. "I'm really hungry."
A hiss of disapproval and the face withdrew.
"Wait!" Rodney called. "Please. Don't go," he begged. "I'm sorry." He waited.
The shuffling came closer and the small voice said, "Hungry?"
"Yes, hungry," Rodney agreed softly. He held his breath.
Rodney heard as much as saw the vigorous nodding. "Dakka bring." Shuffling footsteps moved away and then the silence returned.
Rodney lay back down to try to sleep. It was theoretically just two days ago they had come to Sprin. Assuming he was still on Sprin and that he hadn't been taken through the gate while unconscious. It had been a routine medical good-will visit, Jennifer and one of her nurses had come with Sheppard's team to assist anyone who might be ill or in need of treatment. While it was their first time to Sprin, three different Atlantis teams had been to Sprin prior to this without problem but even Rodney knew never to trust anything to luck in Pegasus.
He worried about his teammates. He didn't have any idea where the others were and the low-tech prison was more than effective in keeping him locked up. The solid block walls were without windows, the thick close-set wooden door was secured by a heavy wooden bar that sat firmly in two brackets with a small window for light at head level and the cat flap at the bottom. Ronon might be able to break out of this but Rodney knew he didn't have the brute strength for it.
He had shouted into the corridor at one point to see if anyone could hear him but he only got the echo of his own voice back.
The window in the door looked out into a dingy corridor, lit by lanterns that were slightly smoky, creating a haze in the hall. The lanterns had been re-fueled once by two thin men who scurried from lamp to lamp adding some liquid substance to the base. One uncapped the opening and held the lamp steady while the other poured the liquid carefully into the base. They ignored Rodney's shouts completely.
Some unknown time later but before ‘breakfast' since there had been no gruel served, Rodney heard the shuffling steps that could only mean that Dakka was back. The small cackles of glee announced his presence long before he slid a bowl under Rodney's door.
"Pretties," Dakka said solemnly.
Rodney looked at the bowl, the stew wasn't particularly appetizing looking, a pasty grey color, but it had lumps of some meat and vegetables that he hadn't gotten in his daily gruel. Beggars couldn't be choosers, he figured.
He stuck a finger in the lukewarm stew and rubbed some of the gravy on the skin on the inside of his elbow. Not having anyone else around to taste for citrus for him, he hoped that he'd get a skin reaction rather than the full blown throat-closing he knew he'd get from eating any.
"Mmmmm…?" Dakka inquired from his viewpoint on the floor.
"I'm allergic to citrus and this is the best test I have at the moment," Rodney answered. He didn't think Dakka really understood what either citrus was, or an allergy, but it was a reflex. "No skin reaction," he pointed to his elbow, "have to hope for the best."
It certainly tasted slightly better than it looked. The meat chunks weren't too different from the unidentifiable "meat something that doesn't quite taste like chicken" they had served in the Atlantis mess hall. It was chewy, faintly bland but edible. The vegetables were a bonus, consisting of both something tuber-ish – alas, not tormack – and pungent, perhaps in the onion family. And certainly better than the gruel he had for breakfast.
He ate it slowly both to savor the flavors as well as to not upset his stomach from eating solid food too soon and too fast. It was faintly sad that he knew to do that he thought idly.
Dakka watched him on and off while he ate, nodding happily as Rodney worked his way through the bowl. His face would appear in the door flap and then disappear – at those times Rodney could hear him humming and dancing about in the hall. He didn't seem to be worried about any guards although Rodney had to admit he hadn't seen more than the occasional, random patrol while he had been locked up.
Rodney finished the bowl and scraped out the last of the gravy with his fingers.While this bowl was sturdier than the bowl his gruel was served in, it was still relatively flimsy and wouldn't make a good weapon or tool. So he stuck it back under the door and said, "Thank you."
"Mmmmm..." Dakka hummed.
"Yes, good," Rodney agreed.
"Pretties!" Dakka grinned at him, taking back the bowl.
Rodney wanted to bang his head in frustration. Doesn't this idiot know more than one word? He had something resembling a conversation before and Rodney was bored enough to even talk to Dakka. He heard Dakka wandering off down the corridor. He lay on the floor, figuring he'd try to sleep for a while.
The noise woke him. The daily offering of gruel wasn't there and he listened more closely. Gunfire! Finally!
"Anyone there?" floated a voice down the corridor.
"Major Lorne!" Rodney called. "Here! I'm locked in."
"Found McKay," Lorne's voice reported to someone. "I'll take Sweeney and you go look for the others."
"Any guards?" Lorne asked from down the hall.
"None that I can see," Rodney reported.
Rodney pressed himself against the door and hung his arm out the opening so they could find him.
Lorne had the door open quickly and held out a hand to Rodney help Rodney out. "You hurt at all?" he asked.
Rodney shook his head. "No. Just tired and cold," he reported.
"We have a couple of jumpers just outside the front doors," Lorne replied. "Do you need help?"
Rodney considered. "I don't think so," he answered. "Just not going to move too fast."
"We can do that," Lorne assured him. "Sweeney, watch our backs. We haven't seen many guards but that doesn't mean anything."
The trip out to the jumpers involved going up two flights of stairs to get to ground level and Rodney found himself huffing a bit at the top. But the fresh air and sunshine were welcome. Sweeney got him to the Jumper, made sure he had a blanket and handed him a MRE and bottled water.
"You'll be okay here," Sweeney said.
Rodney sat on the bench, wrapped the blanket around himself and opened the MRE. He looked at the contents and snorted. Stew, again. Being hungry, there was no one in the Jumper to harass anyway since the guard was outside, he set the heating packet to work and counted time in his head until it was ready.
He was just finishing up and packing up the garbage when footsteps on the ramp made him look up. Sweeney led a small group onto the Jumper, Ronon and Teyla among them.
"Where's Sheppard?" Rodney demanded. "And Keller?"
"Lorne's found the others, he's getting them out and will take them back on the other Jumper," Ronon reported as Sweeney settled into the pilot seat.
"We can't…." Rodney protested. We can't leave anyone behind, he wanted to say.
"I think Major Lorne has it under control," Teyla soothed but Rodney noticed she gratefully took a blanket as she sat on the bench next to him and wrapped it around herself.
"You okay?" he asked them.
Ronon nodded once, which Rodney took as a good sign and Teyla leaned into him slightly. "We were worried since they separated you from us," she said softly. "No one would tell us anything."
"What did they want?" Rodney asked.
"You don't want to know," Ronon growled.
"Right now it does not matter," Teyla said firmly in a way Rodney knew he wouldn't be getting any more information just now. "We are safe and can go home."
"Amen to that," Rodney said, figuring he'd get more out of Sheppard later.
The back door of the Jumper closed and Sweeney took off toward the gate. Rodney noted he wasn't too bad at it, just not as good as Sheppard. Rodney closed his eyes for the brief journey, conscious of Teyla's warmth soaking into his side.
The medical staff efficiently sorted them into the infirmary. Rodney was glad to get out of his four day old clothes and into scrubs while waiting for his exam.He lay back on the bed and wrapped a blanket around himself to keep warm.
He must have fallen asleep since the lights were dimmer. It felt good to be warm and comfortable for a change and he sleepily closed his eyes. Voices speaking low must have been just the other side of the screen.
"Both Keller and Bending?" Lorne asked with an emotion Rodney couldn't quite identify.
Sheppard answered, "Carson's working from dental records now."
"How did we miss that?" Lorne asked.
"It was their pattern to only prey on random travelers," John said. "Just our bad luck that we were new faces and they didn't associate us with the other Atlantis teams they had seen. If anyone comes looking for missing travelers, they say the people left and everyone chalks it up to a bad gate connection or Wraith. Evidently, not too many folk come looking."
"You were next?" Lorne asked.
"Me or Teyla," John replied. "They couldn't decide who was prettier."
"What…." Rodney could hear Lorne hesitate. "What do they do?"
"We didn't look too closely but Carson may have to at some point," Sheppard was speaking even softer. "What little I saw made it look like they cut the… victim up and then make the equivalent of… stew…"
No…. no….. no…. no…. no…. Rodney's brain gibbered as he leaned over the edge of the bed and started vomiting.
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