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Marshall wakes up - which is honestly more than he'd expected - to find himself staring at a ceiling so perfectly white it has to be a hospital room. Something outside his line of sight is beeping regularly, probably one kind of monitor or another. A few experimental twitches confirm that all extremities are present and accounted for, and while he doesn't feel the kind of bone-deep ache he associates with a serious wound, he does feel incredibly tired.

And his neck itches. A quick check produces two new facts for Marshall to consider.

1) There is a very thick wad of gauze on the side of his neck, taped into place by bandages rather firmly attached to both his shoulder blade and collarbone.
2) He has the kind of IV drip in his hand given to long-term patients to avoid too many punctures from removing and replacing several types of needle over a short period of time.

So most of the damage was to his neck, and it was very severe. Plenty of blood loss, so equally plenty of fluids needed to recover.

Blood loss.

Fighting off an irrational fit of terror, Marshall connects the dots and remembers what happened.

The Wraith.


The Athosians had been vague when describing the Wraith, but nothing they said sounded good.

"They drain the life from your body," Teyla said, eyes distant. She'd already said something to that affect to Major Sheppard earlier, but Marshall recognized someone trying to distract themselves when he saw it, so he let her speak. It was all they could do in this damned cage, waiting for the next one to be taken. "It has been many years since the Wraith last culled our people, but I still remember discovering my father's body afterwards. He had the... honor of being left behind for us to find. He was small, and dust-dry, and so cold to the touch." She shuddered. "There are times I wish I had never found him, so that I would still best remember him as he was in life."

"And they're going to do that to us," Marshall said grimly. He wasn't asking for confirmation, but Teyla nodded anyway. "Is there any way to stop them?"

She looked confused by the thought. "Stop them? Colonel Sumner, the Wraith cannot be killed. How can you stop something that cannot die?"

One of them came for him before anything more could be said.


Marshall doesn't remember as much of the interrogation as he'd like. According to Sheppard's report, the queen had him under some kind of... mind control. (Thrall, something inside him whispers.) It wasn't fully effective, since he recited name, rank and serial instead, and Sheppard shot her before she could suck him dry.

Stabbed her in the stomach with a branch on a hunch, apparently killing her, which Marshall can't help but be grateful for. Can't help but be grateful that Sheppard came back for them - he's a stupid-brave kind of soldier, it turns out. Considering what the expedition's going to be facing, Marshall could do with a worse replacement.

Because he is, he thinks, going to need a replacement. That monitor may be beeping, but it's not keeping pace with his heart rate.

If it was, it'd be silent.