Title: Desperate times
Characters: Rodney, Teyla, Sheppard, Ronon
Disclaimer: Not mine. Never was, never will be. *sigh*
Summary: Stuck in a mine shaft Rodney has to make a choice to survive.
Prompt: Cave In
Rodney groaned. He opened his eyes to greet the darkness. They felt gritty, he was lying on something sharp and he ached all over.
He raised his left hand to gingerly rub his throbbing head. He could feel a sticky wetness and thought about the possible head injury. The way it felt now he could have a possible concussion or worse.
“She-” Rodney coughed roughly to clear his throat but it only flared his headache, “John? Teyla? Ronon?”
He waited for a few moments but no one answered. The only sound that he could hear was a slow dripping noise in the pitch black which pulsed in the same time as his throbbing headache.
He listened to the steady beat and let it centre him. He closed his eyes to focus.
He remembered that Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon had been with him, as they had entered the mine shaft to find the source of the energy signal and they had only been in there for a few minutes before all hell broke loose.
Rodney’s headache flared again as he tried to remember the details.
Sheppard leaned against the smooth hand cut wall while Rodney scanned a panel on the opposite side. The light from Teyla’s P90 gave him the ability to work a little faster in the pitch black. The system didn’t seem very complicated, just a password required.
At the time it was very odd. The mineshaft had wooden support beams, smooth walls and no lighting but a sophisticated panel built into the wall asking for a password? It was a contradiction. The panel was a beacon in the darkness which drew them in like a moth to the flame.
Eventually Sheppard gave up on the leaning and walked ahead to scout about. That was when the trap was sprung. He’d bumped into an invisible shield that bumped back. In fact, it flung him past Teyla and Rodney, back down the shaft towards Ronon.
Everyone was in shock as they moved to help their team leader but the security measures had other ideas.
That he hadn’t even picked up the shield was worrying enough but when the panel started making protesting noises Rodney was filled with dread. His fingers moved over the pad in an effort to stop whatever it was attempting to do.
From a little way down the shaft Ronon yelled, “Hurry up. Sheppard’s hurt.” Rodney could just see them. Their lights casted long shadows.
Rodney ignored Ronon when he realized the numbers' significance. They had to get out of the mine. He wasn’t going to be able to stop it. They might only have a few minutes.
“Ronon. Teyla. Get Sheppard out of here! The mine shaft's going to collapse!”
Distressed he couldn’t stop that chain of events Rodney moved to help the others with Sheppard. He turned his back on the increasingly earsplitting panel as the tremors began and whipped his P90 towards the support beams.
“Guys, we need to leave now!” He yelled in horror. This was bad. Very bad.
Rodney trained his light on one thick beam supporting the mine shaft up ahead as he ran. As he watched it bend for a moment his heart leapt into his mouth. They didn’t have minutes they had seconds.
He started to yell again but the bending beam splintered with a loud crack. In the chaos Rodney heard more deafening breaks but he kept running until the walls started shaking and debris rained all around him.
In those final moments Rodney raised his hands to cover his head and hoped the others had made it out
Rodney reopened his eyes to the blackness and the present. The slow dripping continued its steady rhythm.
His team should have been ahead of him. Far ahead. Maybe they had gotten clear and were now mounting a rescue.
And maybe they weren’t. Maybe they hadn’t been able to get out carrying the injured Colonel between them. Maybe they were trapped as well. Maybe they needed his help. Maybe he had to mount the rescue.
Well what was he doing lazing about then? He should find out how long he’d been there. He needed to get off the ground and find his P90 or take the tablet off his back so he could get some light. He didn’t want to know he was trapped in a small space but he wouldn’t know until he had some light. It would tell him the truth. He would be able to see the extent of the damage.
A little more alert now, Rodney used finding the others as his energy to move. His first attempt at sitting up failed. His head protested being raised from the ground.
So his next attempt was trying to roll over. He gently rotated his head to the left and then pulled his right shoulder and knee up to turn to his side. The problem was that his lower body moved but his upper body didn’t. No amount of tugging would budge it.
The effort of turning exhausted Rodney but the failed movement scared him more.
Crap. What was wrong?
Lifting his left hand he moved it over to explore his body. His hand traveled over his chest towards his shoulder and stopped. There was something lying on his right arm.
It was wooden. Probably one of those support beams.
Why couldn’t he feel this? Was his arm numb?
Dread seized Rodney’s thoughts and breath. Suddenly it was hard to draw air into his lungs. Nonononono!
Rodney’s breathing increased and he was close to passing out. His last conscious thought was if his arm was even there.
As Rodney slowly became aware he listened to the fall of liquid to the ground. He also recognized that the rhythm has increased from a slow steady drop to a trickle. He knew he should worry about it but at the moment his mind was screaming about his arm.
His arm couldn’t be trapped! How was he going to get out of here if he was trapped?
He reached his left hand across his body to try and move the offending object to no avail. Just as he was panicking about what to do next a quiet *pop* caught his attention.
He heard a gush of liquid from high up behind him hit the ground not far from his head.
Water pelted his face. He lifted his hand to head to wipe his face and smeared grime over his cheeks. Great. What else could go wrong?
He felt the icy wetness on his back creeping up his clothes and he shivered. He then realized that the chilly water was lapping at his body not flowing past.
He was trapped and the cold water was rising quickly.
Rodney grabbed at his clothes for his knife. He could chip away at the wood on his arm.
Clasping onto the hilt he reached the offending object and began frantically striking it. Adrenaline rushed through his body as he kept trying to cut the wood away without hitting his skin. But the wood remained.
Tears welled out of Rodney’s eyes as exertion and frustration gave way to desperation. The water had started to reach his ears but all he could hear was a roaring noise.
In amidst the chaos one final solution came to him. Rodney clenched his eyes shut and gripped the knife in a death hold.
Bile rose in his throat as he realized what he was about to do. He didn’t want to die but…
Rodney sobbed, “Please.”
He didn’t want to do it, let alone think about it. He had no time to think about it.
Steeling himself Rodney lifted the blade to his skin, just above the wood, and screamed as he made the first cut. It was excruciating but he didn’t have time to wait. The chilly water was almost at his mouth and nose.
As he lifted the blade to make his second cut his cold hand faltered and he dropped it. Rodney frantically searched in the icy water for the knife as his face was covered.
Of all the…
A medicinal cocktail of drugs greeted Rodney as he slowly awoke. It was like he was floating. There was no pain. Everything was blissfully numb.
Numb. Numb! NUMB! My arm!!!
“Hey, you awake?”
Rodney twitched on the infirmary bed and opened his eyes. It was a miracle he was alive but he wanted to know if he was intact.
“My arm?” His throat croaked with misuse.
Ronon crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair next to Rodney’s bed. “It is going to be fine.”
Rodney looked down at his heavily bandage, still attached, right arm and thought back to that moment; the cave in, the knife, his arm.
“Look at me.” Ronon spoke softly.
Rodney broke out of his grisly thoughts and reluctantly looked at the Satedan.
Ronon stared at Rodney. After a few seconds he leaned forward until he was close to Rodney’s face. With a steely gaze he spoke, “You did what you had to do. Say it.”
The scientist frowned at the warrior. “I did what I had to do.”
“Say it again.”
Rodney continued to frown at Ronon’s insistence. He spoke the words more slowly this time.
“I did what I had to do.” Oh course he had done what he had to do. But he didn’t want to think about that. What Rodney wanted to ask what was how he got out. He was confused. He should have drowned or bled to death.
“Hey, look who’s awake.” Sheppard and Teyla walked into the infirmary.
“Rodney.” Teyla approached the bed and laid her hand on his good arm. “I am pleased to see you awake.”
Sheppard stood at the end of the bed and explained that after he’d been stunned, Ronon and Teyla had dragged him out of the mine. Once they realized Rodney hadn’t been right behind them they had gone back to Atlantis to get a rescue team. They had dug him out and brought him back. That had been yesterday.
Rodney seemed relieved at the quick explanation as he fidgeted with the blanket on his bed. He hadn’t interrupted Sheppard to add in what was missing and Sheppard could understand why.
When they’d had an opening in the top of the shaft, the elation at finding Rodney had given way to horror.
Peering through the hole in the roof of the shaft Sheppard called out to Rodney but with a face covered with water he’d been unable to hear him.
Sheppard thought they had found Rodney just as he had dropped below the water line.
He yelled for help when he realized how dire his team mates plight was. Rodney wasn’t floating in the water; he remained below it with his right arm frantically beating the water on his left side
Sheppard, Ronon and a few marines quickly clambered in, while others passed down tools to aid in Rodney’s escape. Sheppard held onto Rodney’s rapidly stilling hand while they searched around his body.
In the light that was streaming down the opening, the water around Rodney’s left side was becoming increasingly redder.
As Rodney’s movements stopped they found where he was trapped. Ronon and a marine used a bar to lever the wood from the ensnared arm while Sheppard and the other Marine pulled on Rodney’s body until he was free.
As they lifted him onto the stretcher Ronon and Sheppard shared a glance over the long cut on Rodney’s upper arm and the knife Ronon had found under the water.
The cut was relegated to the background as the medical team revived the drowned man.
Everyone was relieved when Rodney took his own breaths as they headed for Atlantis in the back of a puddlejumper.
Sheppard drawled, “Hey, how about after you get out of here we all go out to the pier and have a few beers.”
Rodney shrugged dejectedly. “Sure.”
Sheppard looked at his friend and imagined what had gone on inside his head at that last moment. He looked at Teyla and Ronon and thought between the three of them they would make sure their scientist would be okay.