Three years, Ronon thought blearily as he staggered away from the Ring on yet another alien planet. The planet was completely unfamiliar to him, almost unwelcoming with its tall, looming trees that hid the sky by creating a ceiling of branches and leaves. Or maybe that was welcoming, he thought, his knee shaking and pride and will barely keeping him standing. It was almost protective even, the forest around him. Cover meant they couldn't send ships, after all.
Still, he didn't feel welcome. It was hard to, when he knew nothing of the planet except for the six symbols that had led him there, symbols integrated to his memory years and years ago. He could remember somewhat vaguely the extra lessons back when he had still been learning, back when Kell had been his taskmaster. Nothing but addresses in those lessons, endless and endless amounts of addresses to different worlds - to allied worlds, to ruined worlds, to formerly Ancestor controlled worlds, to empty worlds, to unliveable worlds, to deserted worlds. He lost count how many addresses he learned and he couldn't remember anymore why he took those lessons in the first place - but in these last three years, those lessons had saved his life.
He coughed and weakly brushed his lips with the back of his hand. The motion left stains that he hardly even noticed.
Three years running. Three years since the fight with the Wraith - a fight, because that hadn't been a war, it had been a slaughter, a planet wide massacre they had fought against and lost bitterly, painfully. Three years since he had been captured and taught desperation. Three years since he had stopped walking, three years since he had started skipping sleep. Three years, two sets of boots, two different swords, fifteen new knives, two coats, eight shirts, three sets of pants before he had gotten the art of sewing right, eight broken bones, more cuts than he can remember, four concussions… fifty eight planets, forty seven of them empty, twenty two unliveable, fifteen almost lethal, two which had almost succeeded in killing him. He really should've stopped counting them.
Ronon grunted as he fell to his knees, blood spilling from his lips and from the hole in his stomach. He stared at the ground, mossy and green and almost soft, as his blood dribbled down on it, giving it a dirty brown shade.
Three years, and now it would be over.
The mossy ground came suddenly towards him, but he managed to catch it with his elbow, only distantly realising that he had almost fallen. He laughed. It sounded odd to his ears, too deep, too choked, too breathless, a little wet and the splatter of blood from his lips took away any grace the sound might've had. Not that he had ever been a graceful man. Still, it was oddly amusing, a little relieving and beyond all it was gratifying. Three years. Three. Most Runners didn't survive three months.
Though maybe they had made him a Runner in the first place. He was a challenge to them. In the three years of running, he had killed each and every Wraith that had come after him. He had never considered it much of a success, as at the end of the day he still had to keep on running, and another Wraith would come another day, but still. In the three years he had killed over fifty Wraiths.
The moss on the ground was starting to look oddly appealing. Gasping softly through the dizziness and pain, he stared at it. It was soft, a little wet but still probably more comfortable than the majority of the places he had rested in the last three years. He had slept on rocks, on cliffs, on tree branches… he had lost count, not that he had even kept one, of how many time he had fallen off of whatever place he had rested, before he had finally learned to sleep without moving an inch. Mossy ground on the other hand….
No. No, he wouldn't die here. He was only a few steps from the Ring. Too easy to find. There was still a chance that the wound wasn't as bad as it felt. Still a chance that if he slept a little, he'd recover. He hadn't slept properly in a while, and hadn't eaten much at all in two days, that would've easily made the wound feel worse than it actually was. There was still a chance he'd live. And if there was a chance of that, there was a chance the Wraith would find him alive, rather than dead.
Growling at that thought, he pushed himself up a little, just enough to get both his hands beneath him. Then, mostly on will alone, he pushed up again, faltering a little as he stood up, his knees feeling weak. Walk, he thought determinately. Walk, just a little further. Just few more steps. Don't make yourself an easy target. Don't give up. Never give up.
He took a step. And then another. It got a little easier as he got the hang of it, but with each step he could feel the draining of his strength. And though his hand was pressed against the wound in an attempt to forestall the inevitable, he knew it was coming. There were shadows flickering in the corners of his eyes and he knew how easily they could creep up on him, how quickly.
Not yet, though. Not yet. Before that, he'd need to find a place to hide. Some big tree would do, there were plenty of those around. He would hide at the roots. Just a little further, not this close to the Ring. Too easy to find, too easy to track down. Just a little further. Just one more step….
The dizziness tore through his head like a knife, almost painful. He only barely managed to catch support from a nearby tree trunk and keep himself from falling flat on his face. It only slowed down the fall, though, and soon he slid down the tree in jerky slips, stiff fingers clawing the bark. Something stung at his knees as he fell to them, maybe pebbles or something like that, rocks hidden in the moss. The wound in his stomach ached, stung and twisted as he involuntarily tilted forward, almost falling. He gasped, inhaling drops of his own blood.
He had been wounded worse, he knew he had, he could remember it. The problem was, that time he had been young, and the hospitals in Sateda had been quick to attend to the wound. He could still remember it, the sterile white walls and the distant voices of the physicians, the rattling of the wheels beneath the gurney as they rushed him from one ward to the next. Distant memories from when he had been barely thirteen, too young to know anything, young enough to still fear death. But though the broken rib had ruptured his lung, he hadn't died. He hadn't even gotten a scar.
Useless memories, but he couldn't keep them at bay, and for a moment he was so disoriented that it felt like he was there, lying on the operating table, dizzy with medicine rather than pain and blood loss. There was a physician leaning over him, wearing black….
The memory induced hallucination faded with a sting of pain, and growling with the sensation he fell, and just managing to turn himself mid-fall so that he didn't fall on the wound. The hospitals of Sateda were gone, in more ways than ones, but the image of the physician in black lingered. Except it wasn't a physician. Physicians didn't wear black
A shadow, he thought, trying to move, to move, to move. A shadow. Could've been another hallucination. But Wraith made shadows too, flickering shapes in bushes and places you weren't directly looking at, lingering shades and unnerving sensation of being watched. It had taken him months before he had learned to ignore them completely. Blood loss was making him think wrong, though, so it felt more real. Felt like it was really there, a black shape, too close, almost leaning over him.
And he couldn't move. The last of his strength seemed to leak to the ground, and his hand fell from where it had been clutching onto the tree in hopes of finding support. He couldn't move, his legs wouldn't respond, and his head was pounding. Worse yet, the pain in his stomach was fading. That was bad. Really bad.
The shadow leaned over him and as the darkness fell, Ronon could see green eyes, staring at him.
The smell of fire made him remember a warehouse from long ago. A big place, each day a transport had come in, bringing things, taking things away. A restock place for stuff you needed during a fight, medicine, rations, gear, extra ammo, explosives, and so forth. The warehouse had been made of stone and metal, fortified and strengthened - the sort of building made to stand even a bombardment.
Ronon had never been able to forget the smell or the feeling of disappointment as he had turned to face the warehouse, knowing that he'd find help in it, trusting it to have his back. He had some of his men wounded, they were out of ammo, they needed something to help them hold on a little longer. The warehouse had had it, it had been one of their reassurances, an ace up their sleeve - the sort of security that only a backup plan could give.
It had burned brilliantly.
He breathed in, his eyes snapping open. Sleep and memories faded, pushed aside with practiced haste to give a way to full alertness. He reached for his hip, for his gun holster, and met the reassuring feel of the handle of his pistol. His fingers, though, didn't feel so reassuring. They were stiff and his fingertips were a little numb, tingling with the loss of blood.
Though the question of how much blood he had lost and how long it would take him to get back to one hundred percent was a pressing one, he knew it wasn't the issue. The issue was the smell of fire and the ceiling above him - not that of trees and branches and leaves, but of stone. The air was warm and a little stale and smelled of smoke and something he hadn't thought he'd smell again, something which made his mouth water even as he tried to fight against it. Food. Meat roasting on an open flame.
The problem with that was the fact that it wasn't he who was cooking it.
Sitting up was painful and stupid and for the sake of his health he should've stayed down, but Ronon knew that wounds were rarely as lethal as people you didn't know. And there was someone there, he could smell it now, sense it, the presence of another living being. People could kill faster than blood loss and infected wounds ever could hope to do. Especially people who didn't know you, whom you didn't know.
Swallowing blood, he glanced around. The other person was impossible to miss, he soon found, and as he stared at the other he was overcome by the sudden mental image of a scavenger bird, looming over a fresh carcass. Then, as the other moves from the odd, crouched position into kneeling one, the impression changed to that of a predatory feline, like those that lived in the deserts of Sateda. The long messy hair and mass of dirty fur around the other's upper body gave an odd impression of a black mane.
The person leaned forward and took something from the rocks surrounding the fire. A strip of meat, a little burned from the side, about as long as Ronon's arm. With it in hand, the person turned a little, the angle of his head revealing his gender - women rarely had beards.
"Food," the man said, shifting on knees and one hand and holding the strip of meat towards Ronon. His voice was rough like a snarl, and oddly familiar to Ronon. "Eat."
Ronon hesitated for a moment, before reaching and taking the strip of meat. There was next to nothing he could lose, and if the guy had wanted to kill him, he'd already be dead. Besides, the man had left his gun with him which always was a good sign in Ronon's opinion. When a man took away another's weapon, it was rarely for a good reason.
The meat was too warm, too dry and a little bit too tough, and it hadn't been seasoned at all - and judging by the raw, a little bitter and little too strong taste, it didn't come from a grazing animal, but from a predator. But Ronon was years past the point where he complained about warm food, and he barely even noticed any of it as he took a first bite, tearing the meat unceremoniously with his teeth. The man dressed in furs seemed to approve, as by the time Ronon was half through with the meat strip, another was being offered.
"You got enough to spare?" Ronon asked, even as he accepted the meat and begun to tear into it.
There was a moment of silence as the man stared at him and then shifted. He seemed thoughtful, almost relieved for some reason. "Yes. Can always hunt more," the other answered, and Ronon realised why his voice seemed familiar. It was his own voice, the same guttural tone of a person who hadn't talked in weeks, in months. Maybe in years.
The black haired man stared at him for a moment longer before reaching and taking another strip of meat, tearing into it himself. Then he turned his attention to Ronon again, looking him up and down with an odd squint, like trying to see in the dark. "Should, uh…. You should rest. Wounded." He said, making a motion towards Ronon's stomach. "Pretty badly."
"I know," Ronon grunted in answer. It was pretty hard to miss, as even now it felt like there was a knife in his gut, tearing things he’d rather not have be torn. The wound had been bandaged, he could feel some sort of cloth wrapped around his waist, but he didn't look down. If he didn't know how badly it had been tended to, he wouldn't cringe at the notion of the upcoming infection he'd no doubt get from being badly treated. "Need to eat more than rest."
"Hn," the man answered through a mouthful and nodded in what seemed to be complete understanding. And probably was. By the look of the man's wrists, he knew what it felt like to go hungry. "There's more," he said after a moment of silence.
Ronon was tempted - he rarely got the chance to eat until he was full. But the feel of his abdomen made him stop at two strips of meat. He didn't want to temp it, and if he was going to get sick sometime soon, he rather not get sick with stomach filled to the brim. "Maybe later," he said and eased himself back to his back. "Where are we?"
"Few miles," the man answered. "From where I found you," he added as an afterthought, frowning a little almost as if unsure if he has gotten it right. He shook his head and turned to the fire again, this time to coax the flames and add few sticks into it. Ronon felt an odd, twisted sympathy for the man, wondering how long he had been living in a cave. It looked well lived, judging by what he could see from where he lay. Well lived meant long lived and long lived in a cave meant a long time away from civilisation.
Not that it mattered. Though, still… "I thought this planet was empty," he said, frowning. It had been, when he had learned the address. That was why he had come here. If some people had settled on the planet since then, then… he might've brought his misfortune upon them.
The man didn't answer for a while, just looked at Ronon over the thick, mane-like fur covering his shoulder. His green eyes seemed wider than before. "Planet?" he muttered, turning away with a confused look about his face. "Well… I haven't seen anyone else. Before you," he said, sounding a little lost.
"You looked?" Ronon asked, just to be sure. After all, it was hard to see people if you avoided them. The man might've been a hermit of some sort, and there was a town just a mile away, full of people who'd be culled because Ronon had stepped on the planet.
"Looked. Yeah," the man nodded, shifting to sit and pulling his legs against his chest. "I went… walked up to ocean in the west. Another in the east," he said, making haphazard motion across the cave. "Didn't see anyone."
"Oh," Ronon murmured, frowning. "That… must've taken awhile."
"Two years, little more," the man answered, nodding. "Stopped looking after that. No use."
Ronon grunted in agreement. So the planet was empty, except for the other man. Whose name he didn't even know, despite the fact that the man had rescued him and fed him. He coughed, and tried to ignore the tang on his tongue, the lingering taste of blood. "Ronon Dex," he grunted. "My name."
"Ah, right," the other nodded, hesitated and then glanced at him. "Harry," he said. "Harry Potter."
The name sounded foreign, but then most people were foreign to Ronon. All people were, really. He swallowed a yawn and nodded. "Thanks," he said roughly as the tiredness started to pull his eyelids down. "Gonna pass out."
"You need to," the other agreed, and Ronon fell into the darkness.
The next time Ronon woke up, he was alone in the cave, and the fire had almost died out, barely giving any light in the otherwise lightless space. Grunting softly, he pushed himself into a sitting position, and looked around for any sign of his host.
The cave was rather small, not high enough for him to attempt standing up, and barely long enough for him to lie down comfortably. Still, it apparently served for the man, Potter, as his everyday living space judging by the way it looked. There were some unevenly shaped leather satchels bundled in the corner, along with a pair of roughly made buckets that seemed to hold water in them. There was also what looked like a simple water skin sitting not far from the fire pit. Aside from the pile of furs that had been serving as Ronon's bed, there was a pile of pelts not far from him, along with a pile of leather which looked like half made clothes. There was also a wooden box not far from the belts which was filled with bone shards, some of them carved to work as buttons and such.
Ronon approved of that, a little. Potter apparently used all of what he hunted, not just the meat. After living on the run and away from civilisation, Ronon did more or less the same. There was little choice, when you couldn't get your necessities by bartering, not unless you wanted to bring the Wraith upon the place where you bartered in.
Swallowing around the bitter taste in his mouth, he shifted where he sat and glanced around again to see if there was any water nearby. There wasn't, the buckets and the water skin seemed to be the only ones. Sighing, he shifted to his knees and then to his feet, careful to remain a little crouched so that he wouldn't hit his head on the ceiling. It wasn't exactly comfortable and his stomach disagreed with the whole thing loudly and sharply, but he ignored it. He needed something to drink.
The water tasted stale, but it was clean enough and quenched his thirst all the while washing the taste of blood from his tongue. He risked his host's disapproval and used a few handfuls of the water to wash his face, before shifting to sit on his knees. Then, finally, he dared a look down.
Potter had removed his shirt in order to bandage the wound. To Ronon's relief, the cloth used in the bandaging was clean - it was darker and thicker than the gauze they would've used in Sateda, but there was a wad of almost white cloth held over the wound by the darker strip of cloth. And when Ronon dared to move the bandage a little, he also saw that the wound had been cleaned and there was some sort of salve applied between the bandage and the wound. Hopefully, it was the good sort of salve that kept the wound clean as it healed and not the bad sort of salve which would give him blood poisoning.
As the skin around the wound didn't seem to be feeling any negative effects, he decided to leave the bandage where it was. Instead he glanced around in search of his effects. His gun was still strapped at his hip and he could feel that most of his knives were where they ought to be. He was however missing a shirt, a coat, a bag and a sword. Those, thankfully, he found in a bundle next to where he had been sleeping, the coat neatly folded underneath a washed shirt, the sword sitting on the rough stone floor beside them, safely in its sheath.
Ronon was in middle of the process of pulling his shirt on, marvelling the fact that not only was it washed, but it was also sewn, when the leather flap that seemed to serve as the cave's door, was pushed aside. Potter too, though he was much shorter than Ronon was, had to bent his head in the cave and as soon as he had settled the flap back into its place, the man knelt down. He was carrying a leather bag and as Ronon watched, he started pulling containers out of it. Roughly carved cups and such, with berries, fruits and vegetables stuffed in.
"You need… more than meat," the man said awkwardly as he placed the simple wooden containers to the floor. "To regain your strength."
"I appreciate it," Ronon said, because he really couldn't say anything else. He wasn't modest enough to pretend he would've preferred to have gone without troubling the man, and he needed it too much to decline, so simple thanks was best. "They're all edible?"
"Yeah. I've eaten them. Didn't get sick," the man answered with a rough, wild grin, squinting a little. He pushed one of the smaller containers forward. It had in it bright green leaves in it. "These will help with pain. Won't taste good, though."
That definitely wasn't something Ronon was about to decline, so as soon as his shirt was comfortably settled on him, he shifted forward and took one of the leaves. They looked vaguely familiar and he had an impression that he had seen his grandmother once make a tea out of the leaves. That was good enough reassurance for him, so he popped the thing into his mouth, and chewed.
Potter's grin widened a little at the face Ronon made at the taste, but said nothing and after managing to swallow the bitter thing, Ronon took a few more of the leaves. Then, once he had eaten as many of them as he could bear to, he turned to the berries, fruits and vegetables. Most of them were familiar so he tucked in, and as Potter made no move to tell him to slow down or to save some for him, the Runner made quick work through all of the containers, even eating most of the vegetables after brushing the worst of dirt off them.
"Good," the black haired man only said once he was done, and offered the water skin to him. Ronon drank a few hungry gulps and as he handed the skin back to the other man, he felt content in a way he hadn't in a long time. A full stomach was a rarity on the run.
"Thanks," Ronon said, sitting back to ease the tension on the wound. "I needed that." He didn't even want to think about how much he had needed it. Hunting was, at times, faster and gathering berries and such took time he rarely had in his disposal. For months now he had been living off meat and water alone with the occasional fish thrown in.
"I figured." Potter nodded, taking one of the remaining vegetables and biting into it. Then he moved to put the containers away, moving them aside where they wouldn't be in the way.
Now that he wasn't in immediate need of anything, Ronon leaned back a little and examined his host. Potter was obviously some sort of hermit. The way he lived and the clothes he wore all indicated that. Like with Ronon himself, his pants were leather, as was his rough footwear. Beneath the odd, fur shawl he wore, he was wearing a shirt also made of leather, all of them rather dark in colour, almost back. Most of the clothes were worn and old, with tears and rips in them which had been mended with a clumsy needle. The shawl was the oldest of the clothes, as it was ragged and worn, almost as messy as the man's partially matted long hair. Still, beneath the messy long hair and the thin beard, the man was young, probably a little younger than Ronon himself was.
Ronon knew better than to ask, though. People ended up in weird circumstances all the time - the Wraith could drive the sanest of them into odd places and odd ways of living. So instead he let the curiosity pass. "How long was I out?"
"It's been a day since I found you," the other answered. "Six hours since you passed out the last time."
A day. The Wraith must've known where he was. Of course they did. Why hadn't they sent someone to hunt him yet? Laziness or were they waiting for him to recover from the wounds? "I should leave," Ronon said. It didn't matter. The sooner he left the better for Potter. The man, as odd as he was, had been kind to him. He didn't want to repay him by feeding him to the Wraith.
"Could you?" Potter asked, looking a little curious. "With that wound, I mean."
"I've had worse," Ronon said, scowling.
"Maybe. But the predators here wouldn't care," the other answered. Apparently he was getting a little more used to talking, as his voice wasn't so gruff sounding anymore.
"What sort of predators?" He had dealt with animals before, big one, small ones, poisonous ones….
"Cats," the other man answered, making a motion above them. "Very big cats."
"Do they hunt in packs?" Ronon asked. Very big cats would be a very big problem if they hunted in packs.
"No, but still. Not easy to take down," Potter answered, shaking his head. "And where would you go? There's nothing out there." At this point he frowned, looking at Ronon a little suspiciously.
"There's the Ring of the Ancestors," Ronon answered, raising his eyebrows a little with confusion. It was the obvious answer, after all. There was the Ring and as long as there was the Ring, there was another place to go, and another, and another. And yet, to Potter the Ring seemed to say nothing. "The round thing." He clarified. "Not far from where you found me."
Potter still didn't seem to understand, only stared at him. Ronon frowned back. "I can use it to get out of this world and go to another one," he said. Now Potter's eyebrows rose sharply, almost vanishing beneath the shaggy hair. "You didn't know that?" Ronon asked, a little shocked.
"No," Potter answered slowly, blinking. "Another world?" he then asked. "Really?"
"Lots of them," Ronon nodded. He had never met anyone, beyond very young children, who didn't know what the Ring did. "There are Rings on lot of planets. All Rings are connected. If you’ve got the address…" he stopped, as Potter frowned at him. "How did you get here if you didn't use the Ring?"
Potter looked away sharply, frowning. "I was exiled," he said then, jerking his head oddly as if to shake and nod it at the same time. "Six years ago."
"Exiled," Ronon repeated. "And… not through the Ring?" he asked again, just to be sure.
Potter shrugged his shoulders. "There were ruins," he said, motioning towards the door. "Few days' walk that way. I woke up there," he frowned. "I've seen… the Ring a few times. Never figured what it was for."
Ronon frowned. Potter's world might be one of the places where people had kept the Ring of the Ancestors secret from the main population. Maybe they used it as a way of punishing criminals or something used it to take people to empty planets and leave them there. Though, six years ago? Potter couldn't have been older than fifteen then. "What were you exiled for?"
The other man hesitated before shrugging his shoulders again. "A boy was killed. I was convenient to blame," he said, shifting to his feet. "Some wanted the worst punishment for me. Others didn't. They decided to banish me instead." He grinned, an oddly feral expression. "Out of sight, out of mind."
It sounded like a saying or a metaphor, Ronon mused, but decided to ignore it in favour of examining the man before him. Potter was… strange. But anyone would be after living six years on an odd planet without any humans about. Especially if the place did have big cats in it. However he rather doubted that the man was a killer. He had a sharpness to him, the sort only a sharp life could make, but it wasn't ruthless - or desperate - the way a murderer would be. "Why was the boy killed?"
"Wrong place, wrong time," Potter shrugged, glancing at him and smiling slightly sadly. "We were in the same school. Little older than me. Can't even remember what he looked like." He looked away, slouching his shoulders a little. "They didn't want to… accept the actual killer. Didn't want to think he existed. Blaming me was… easier."
"…Ah," Ronon said in sudden understanding, and frowned darkly. He knew about worlds like that. Wraith came and killed. People around those who were killed didn't want to believe in monsters and wanted to rather stick to their sweet ignorance instead, so they blamed someone else. Sometimes people blamed each other for being bad luck and for bringing the Wraith to them, too, like it mattered. People did strange things like that when they were scared. Went with whatever was easier for the mind to handle.
"Would you go back if you could?" he asked before managing to stop himself.
"Would be nice, sure," Potter snorted. "But I bet they'd exile me again. If they still remember me," he added, before shaking his head and turned to look at him. "Rest. I can take you to the… Ring once you have."
"I should go now," Ronon protested. "I'm being hunted. They will know where to find me."
"How?" Potter asked, raising his eyebrows. "I didn't leave tracks in the forest."
"Doesn't matter. I’ve got a tracking device," he motioned at his neck. "In my back."
The other man gave him a slightly incredulous look. "You're a fugitive?" he asked.
"A game," Ronon scowled, knowing fully well that if the Wraith really needed to catch him, they would've done it ages ago. They had the ships and they knew where he was all the fucking time. But they hadn't because he wasn't a necessity. He was entertainment. "I'm amusement for them."
Potter looked at him silently for a moment, before accepting the words with a nod. "Rest," he said again.
"I've already been here too long," Ronon frowned. "They might be on the way."
"And I know to expect them now," Potter answered with a sort of casual confidence that made Ronon blink. "Rest," the black haired man ordered this time, before moving to the flap at the threshold. "I'll keep watch."
"You can't take them," Ronon snapped. "They're not human."
"Lot of things aren't," Potter agreed, and next moment he was gone. Ronon stared after him with mixture of agitation and worry, before moving to sit up. His stomach turned and twisted and he almost groaned out loud as he felt some healed part of the wound break and start to bleed, but he ignored it in favour of walking to the door flap. He pushed it aside, intending to follow Potter to explain the man exactly why it was better that he just leave - and then stopped dead on his tracks.
There was a small field outside, surrounded by bushes with trees looming nearby. Potter was walking through the field, steps rather noisy among the grass and moss - and next to him walked a black feline so big, that its shoulders reached the top of Potter's head. The size wasn't as shocking as the behaviour, though. Ronon had seen big animals before, almost been eaten by a few of couple of occasions. But this one… this one acted like one of the domesticated cats he had seen people keep on Sateda. Had… Potter tamed it?
After a moment of thought, Ronon shrugged his shoulders and returned to the cave. He had seen weirder things - and if the cat was Potter's domesticated pet, then… then maybe he could take a Wraith after all. And Ronon wasn't really in a state to run after him to stop him.
Hissing through his teeth, he returned to the furs and sat down, wincing and trying to apply pressure to would to keep it from getting worse. He'd need days to recover, weeks. Running in this state would be bad, he knew it from experience. Of course, usually he didn't have choice. But… but maybe he could trust in Potter now, for a while. At least until he didn't hurt so much.
Ronon lay back down with a sigh. He had almost forgotten what it felt like to have someone watch his back.
Ronon watched silently as Potter ground some herbs, roots and some other stuff he wasn't too curious to know the origins off into fine powders, mixing them in a wooden cup. The black haired man was obviously making some sort of medicine and though Ronon had learned a thing or two about making some salves and such while on the run, he had lost the track of what the man was doing a while ago. He had used some familiar plants like the Eiban leaf which Ronon himself used in cuts and such to avoid infection and Deryson root which on other hand usually helped with swelling, but the rest of the plants were more or less unknown to him.
"You know medicine?" he asked finally, as the other man mixed some sort of faintly amber coloured liquid into the powder, turning it thick paste.
"Potions and herbology," Potter answered. "Basics, but good enough."
Ronon nodded. Potions was probably some sort of study of medicine mixing and herbology probably a study of plants in Potter's world. Some worlds had their own names for things like that. Some places they were called tonics, others it was called poisonology, and so forth. Ronon himself only knew first aid, but his partner had been a physician, so he had picked up few things up. Most of his most useful herb knowledge, though, came from his grandparents, old fashioned survivalists, who were the main reason the Wraith hadn't managed to kill him yet.
"What does it do?" he asked after a moment of silence.
"Purifies, takes away the pain - makes sure it won't get worse," Potter answered. "Can only help on the surface, your insides have to heal on their own."
"I figured," Ronon nodded, watching how Potter added a little bit of water before finally mixing a little bit of what looked like bark into the mixture. Then the black haired man spent a good five minutes stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon. As he did, the brownish texture turned eventually colourless, making Ronon raise his eyebrows. Potter's basics were better than his basics, way better.
"It's done," Potter finally said before moving to Ronon's side with a fresh bandages and a white wad of fabric which looked like it had been a part of some clothing once. Ronon sat up and pulled his shirt up and without further ado, Potter started to remove the old bandage around his stomach to replace it.
"You done this sort of thing before?" Ronon asked, wondering if Potter had once studied to be a physician of some sort.
"To myself," the man agreed. "But I was taught how to make salves. Part of herbology lessons, knowledge of medicinal plants. Most of them don't grow here, but..." he shrugged his shoulders and laid the dirty bandage to the floor, before starting to peel the cloth over the wound carefully back. "But I learned. Trial and error."
Years back, that wouldn't have sounded too promising to Ronon. Years back, though, he’d had hospitals and real physicians to trust in and though back then Potter would've seemed primitive to him with his herbology, now the man seemed like a precious commodity - a specialist of a very important sort. Knowledge of medicine was never wasted learning. It helped to know that trial and error had all happened at Potter's own expense.
"It looks good," Potter murmured as he inspected the wound. Ronon had to agree. Though it hurt like hell, it still looked like it was healing. And if he had been by himself, it would've either hurt worse, been already infected or it wouldn't have hurt at all, having already killed him. The wound was still fresh, but it wasn't bleeding excessively, having already started to heal around the edges.
"I have a bottle of alcohol in my bag," Ronon said, frowning. "Disinfect."
Potter shook his head. "Would do more damage than good," he said. "The salve will be enough."
Ronon could've argued against that, but chose not to, and instead watched how Potter washed the wound carefully, before starting to apply the salve to it. He gasped softly and leaned back at the feeling. Take away the pain, Potter had said. The salve certainly did that - it felt like ice had been spread onto the wound, immediately turning the surrounding area numb. He could still feel the damage inside, but the surface, all he could feel was the coolness of the salve.
"I would love to have more of this stuff," he muttered, eyeing his stomach with wonder.
"I can make more. It's best when it's fresh, though," Potter smiled, spreading the salve carefully into the wound and around it in thick layer, before brushing his fingers on the dirty bandages. Then he took the clean ones and after pressing the almost white cloth to the wound, he bound it into place with the darker fabric. "Done," he then said, and Ronon eased his shirt back down.
"Thanks," the Runner said.
Potter nodded, bundling up the dirty bandages and shifting back. "I'll make you some tea," he said. "To make sure you won't get a fever."
Ronon nodded in thanks, not wanting to repeat himself so soon. Instead he leaned back and enjoyed the feeling of the pain being sapped away by the salve. He really wanted more of it. He wanted a jar full of it so that he could use it whenever he needed it. Would be damn useful on the run. "Some worlds would pay you a lot for this stuff," he mused, fingering his shirt over the bandage to make sure it wouldn't put too much pressure on the wound. "Everyone's short on medicine."
"Hm," Potter only answered while taking out what looked like a stone pot and placing it over the fire, before pouring some water to it from the water skin. "Maybe," he finally said while starting to make another mixture of herbs.
Ronon frowned. The more he thought about it, the less he liked the idea of eventually just leaving and being done with it. He needed to thank Potter somehow - and though normally he would've offered something he owned, a knife or something, as payment, it didn't seem good enough. Healing was more valuable than that, and Potter had gone a long way to see to his needs. Dragging him to a safe place, making sure he got rest, feeding him, bandaging him - the man had gone to find food specifically for him, even - and making medicine for him. Someone might've done one or two of those things for a stranger, but not all of them.
Leaving the man without more than a thanks didn't seem right.
"I could give you some addresses," he said. "I know some worlds where you could... start over."
Potter glanced at him before turning to the herbs again. He didn't say anything.
"This place won't be safe. The Wraith will come even after I leave, make sure I can't come back," Ronon said, scowling. Wraiths tended to check out the planets he visited, either to cull them if there were any people, or just to make it harder for him to make it later on, if he returned. And when the Wraith came here and found Potter… or worse yet, found out Potter had helped him... "It won't be safe here."
Potter said nothing, just poured the herbs into the water in the stone pot and stirred. "And you?" he then asked.
"I’ll go to another world," Ronon answered with a shake of his head. "Find another place to hide, to stay for a while. This place would be good to stick around if I wasn't wounded," he mused. The woods gave excellent cover and it would be hard even for a Wraith to navigate in. If he was just well enough to scout the area and make some traps, he could've stayed for a while here, weeks even, maybe.
"Then heal," Potter simply said.
Ronon frowned, glancing at the man, at the way the man's shoulders slumped a little under the fur shawl. "It doesn't work like that," he then said. He could see where the man was coming from, and he could sympathise with it. Company was... relieving after so long alone. Potter had been alone longer than he had been, so of course the man would want... but it didn't work like that. "If they know you helped me, they'll kill you."
"I can take care of myself."
Ronon snorted. "Not like this," he answered. No one could take care of themselves against the Wraith. Against one Wraith, maybe, two if you were good, more if you were exceptional. The problem with Wraith, though, was the fact that they kept coming, endlessly. There was always more coming. And Ronon knew what it led to if he stayed. He managed to defeat one Wraith, two, five... eventually they got annoyed with it, and changed the rules. Set forests on fire or triggered some sort of gas, forcing him to leave or die. One time they had flushed him out of one good planet by orbital bombardment. It had been a pity, as the canyon he had lived in had been the perfect place to hide in.
Potter didn't say anything for a while, concentrating on the tea instead. "Who are they?" he finally asked while taking a ladle and scooping some of the tea into a wooden cup.
"Who?" Ronon asked.
The Runner blinked, aiming a frown at the man. "You don't know what the Wraith are?" he asked.
"Wouldn't have asked if I did," Potter shrugged, moving to his side and handing the cup to him. "They're the ones hunting you?"
Ronon nodded slowly, looking at the other for a moment. Potter seriously didn't seem to know. Though, if he had been blamed for something that a Wraith had done, maybe it wasn't so unbelievable. Maybe his world had gone through a cycle of denial and forced itself to forget the Wraith - and when one of them had shown up, no one had known or remembered what it was. "They're a race," he then said. "They hunt humans, feed on their strength."
"That... sounds familiar," Potter muttered thoughtfully. "What do they look like?"
Ronon frowned, but described a Wraith. It was so odd that someone didn't know. Everyone knew what a Wraith looked like. Though, on the other hand... before the Wraith had come to Sateda, even they had forgotten the Wraith, except for the old stories. That was mostly because of the Wraith that owned their planet. The sadistic bastard had gotten a thrill out of letting them flourish and then annihilating them when they were just about to get strong enough to fight back properly.
"They... my people went to war against them... if you could call it that," Ronon said after a moment of silence. "They came through the Ring and by ships, bombarded our towns and cities, took our people. I was taken... and made a Runner. For their amusement."
Potter stared at him silently for a while, before shaking his head. "How many are there? Wraith, how many are there?" he asked, more curious than worried or even sympathetic.
"No one knows. More than anyone can handle," Ronon muttered bitterly. "During the culling of my planet, we saw four hive-ships. They're, ah... as big as cities. Cruisers and carriers... thousands of foot soldiers." He grimaced. "Sateda had a good army. Wasn't good enough."
The other man was quiet for a moment, before shifting back and sitting down from his awkward, crouched position. "And they can find you even here, on another planet?"
"They can find me anywhere in the galaxy, I know that much for certain," Ronon spat, grimacing as the reflexive tightening of his muscles made the wound pulse painfully. "I've gone through dozens of worlds. They always find me eventually."
Potter blinked sharply, before quickly looking away. "Galaxy, hm," he murmured, shaking his head a little confusedly.
"Hundreds of planets. You could find a place to live," Ronon said. "The Wraith are everywhere, sure, but... you would have company."
"Already have company," Potter answered, raising a single eyebrow at him.
Ronon shook his head. "I'm not good company, Potter," he answered. "Can't stay, either."
Another short silence followed before Potter jerked slightly, turning his head. A split second later, Ronon heard it too, the snarling roar of a large animal. The black haired man was immediately on his feet, and at the threshold of the cave, the Runner only few seconds slower than him. As Potter pulled the flap aside, he could hear something else. Stunner blasts. "The Wraith," he snarled, pulling out his weapon.
The shorter man frowned. "Ran into one of my sentinels," he said before taking some things from underneath the shawl. The first was a wooden stick about as long as his forearm. Another was a bone whistle, which Potter brought to his lips, and blew. It made no sound, but snarls and roars came from the woods in answer.
"What is that?" Ronon asked, though he could already guess. It was some way of calling for Potter's tamed animals.
"Back up," Potter answered, crouching at the threshold as the bushes surrounding the field outside the cave rustled. The first animal was as big as the one Ronon had seen the first time, a large grey cat with thick, long mane and teeth as long as Ronon's fingers. Not soon after, another came forward, and then another, all settling in the field to wait.
"You tamed them all?" Ronon asked, a little awed. He had seen animal trainers before, but this was something else.
"I control them, I didn't tame them," Potter answered, fingering the wooden stick as the animals gathered in the field. "It's not easy survive here without some help."
"You control them. How?" Ronon asked, now a little more impressed.
"It's a trick," Potter answered, and frowned as they heard more stunner blasts, and more snarling. The predators in the field moved anxiously, the ends of their long tails flickering. The snarling in the distance stopped along with the blasts. The Wraith had dealt with the cat it had run into.
"Sounds like your sentinel was taken out. It's probably just the one Wraith," Ronon said while setting his pistol to lethal setting. "They usually come one by one."
"Good for us," Potter said, narrowing his eyes while Ronon crouched carefully beside him not wanting to make a too big of a target.
Then the Wraith appeared - a tall, white haired creature wearing black leather, with a long stunner blaster held in his arms. He only got one step towards the cave before he was already in Ronon's sights. Before the Runner took the shot, though, Potter shouted, "Attack!"
The beasts that had gathered immediately rushed forward. It wasn't the most well organised attack, but it gave the Wraith a start - he hadn't expected a fight like this, it seemed. He only got the change to shoot a few of the half dozen beasts before the rest overwhelmed him, one pinning him to the ground. While the other beasts surrounded him, the Wraith snarled, lifting the stunner. He managed to shoot the enormous beast over him, and just managing to get out from under it before it collapsed.
"Get that thing off him," Potter snapped at the large felines and shot forward, Ronon at his heels. The beasts immediately made quick work of the Wraith, one of them pinning him back to the ground while another snatched the stunner from the Wraith's hand with its teeth and stepped back.
The Wraith snarled as Ronon and Potter came over, Ronon giving somewhat uneasy looks at the enormous felines. They seemed to not care about him, but it was still unnerving to be surrounded by so many enormous predators. He shook his head and turned to the Wraith, aiming his blaster at him.
"This is a Wraith?" Potter asked curiously, aiming his stick as the Wraith's head.
"That's a Wraith," Ronon nodded grimacing at the monster at it snarled at them, breathy and with plenty of sharp teeth shown. There was a shadow flickering not far from them, and Ronon had to fight the urge of turning around to see what it was. A few of the beasts did turn, growling, but of course there was nothing there.
"What...?" Potter murmured, glancing away, towards where the shadow had flickered. "I could swear...."
"He's trying to make us see things. We should kill him," Ronon snapped, glancing at the man beside him. Potter didn't seem like a killer to him, but killing a Wraith was a different thing. They weren't human, after all. "He'd kill us. Feed on us."
"Hmm," Potter answered, tilting his head to the side. Then he did something with his stick, muttering something underneath his breath. There was a flash of red light that passed between the stick and the Wraith, and immediately the Wraith fell still, silent and unconscious. Ronon blinked with surprise and kept his pistol aimed at the thing, while Potter crouched beside the Wraith. "They can make people see things?"
"Hm. They do it during cullings, to make people panic. Make them easier targets," Ronon muttered, looking between Potter, the beasts surrounding them, and the unconscious Wraith. "We can't leave him alive. There's no point. You can't reason with a Wraith."
Potter ignored him, aiming the wand at the Wraith's head and muttering something softly. The Wraith jerked, but nothing else happened. Potter frowned, and did it again with same result. "Hm. He's resistant against Imperius," he said.
"What?" Ronon asked, frowning.
"The trick I use to control these," Potter said, patting the nearest cat predator's leg. "Doesn't work on the Wraith."
Ronon frowned, for a moment wondering if he should ask how the trick worked, before shaking his head. "Mind tricks wouldn't work on them. They're sort of telepathic," he said, and motioned around them. "That's how they make the shadows."
"I guess that explains it," Potter murmured, motioning the felines to back away as he examined the Wraith a little closer, checking the face. "They feed through the hand?" he asked, taking the Wraith's hands and examining them, frowning a little at the opening in one of the palms.
"Yeah. Slap their hand to your chest and take years off your life," Ronon answered. "Dunno how it works, but it does. Seen it happen a lot of times."
"Hmm," Potter answered, still looking thoughtful. "Wasn't hard to take out, this Wraith."
Ronon blinked and then snorted a little incredulously, motioning at the beasts around them. "He wasn't exactly expecting this," he said. "Just me, and no one else. If they had known that they'd be up against this, they would've sent more Wraiths." He frowned and glanced around them. There might be a scouting probe nearby, recording the whole thing. "They will probably send more soon, when this one doesn't return. I should leave."
"Why do you want to go alone?" Potter asked, looking up. "You're wounded, not in the right state to fight."
"I don't want --" Ronon started snarling, then paused. He hissed through his teeth, grimacing. "I bring these bastards down on everyone I run across. You helped me. I don't want to repay with more of this," he motioned at the Wraith. "And if they find out you helped me, especially if they know you took one of them down -"
The shorter man gave him a cool look. "I can take care of myself."
"Yes, I can see that, but if they start firing from the orbit - they could raze this planet to the ground," Ronon snapped. "And you along with it."
Potter stood up, hiding the stick-weapon beneath the fur shawl. "Then I won't stay."
"Good," the Runner snarled, then taking a deep breath to calm himself down. "Good. I can show you some addresses where you can go - they'd welcome a healer --"
"I'll come with you," Potter said, turning to head to the cave.
"What? No, that's... no," Ronon said, quickly following him. "I can sent you to a planet where there will be people, you just -"
"I'll come with you," the other repeated, tugging the door flap down completely before starting to rummage through the cave, collecting things as he went. "You need help. And I'm not an idiot. I'm not fit for civilisation. Don't know what I would do anyway." Potter answered, taking a rough bag and starting to shove things into it. "Too long alone. No," he said, when Ronon opened his mouth to argue. "You need help," he repeated.
"I can handle myself," Ronon answered, grimacing as he repeated the words Potter himself had spoken a few times now.
"Not right now you can't," the shorter man answered, glaring. "Too badly wounded to even walk properly. You need help."
The Runner grimaced but couldn't really deny it. His knees felt shaky and there was a layer of sweat on his brow, either from the strain of walking, from the pain or from upcoming fever. And if it was the latter... "It's not a good idea."
"Not known for them," Potter grinned while taking a wooden bowl and starting to shove what was left of his food into it. After fitting a lid to the bowl, he threw it into his bag before starting to compile some tools - like the ones he had used in medicine making. "I need to gather some stuff. Herbs, bark, fungi. To make more salve later on. I can do that on the way to the Ring, but it'll take time."
"… It'll probably take a few hours at least before more Wraiths will show up, you'll have time," Ronon sighed, admitting defeat. "Fine. We go together. But only until I'm completely healed," he said sternly while getting his things. "Then I'll go alone."
"Maybe," Potter answered, giving a thoughtful look at some of the pelts and furs before shaking his head and turning to his clothing instead, and putting some of them into his bag.
"This is a bad idea," Ronon muttered, but Potter only threw him a grin as they finished their quick packing. "We need to deal with the Wraith," he said, pulling his coat on and after making sure his sword was safely secured to his back, he hoisted his backpack up. Then he had to catch his breath. All the moving didn't agree with the wound at all, and the extra weight on his back certainly wasn't good for it.
"I… uh…" Potter answered, looking a little uneasy at the prospect.
"I can do it," Ronon offered simple and plain. He had no troubles with the idea of killing a Wraith - hell, sometimes it was all that made life worth living. But he didn't blame the other man for his hesitation. It was an idea that took time getting used to, killing.
Potter still had a slightly uneasy look about him as he threw his bag over his shoulder. Then turned away, glancing around the cave last time, before shaking his head and turning to leave. After a moment of badly concealed hesitation, he gave Ronon a thoughtful look. "I'll have one of the cats carry you to the Ring," he decided. It sounded oddly like a thank you.
Ronon wanted to argue, but he knew that he'd slow the other man down - and walking would probably make the wound worse. So, without saying anything against it, he followed the shorter man out of the cave and glanced at the beasts. "You sure that's safe?" he asked just to be sure. Even the smallest of them looked like it could take his head off his shoulders in one bite.
"They're under my control, and won't do anything I don't order them to do," Potter answered. Looking between the cats and the unconscious Wraith. Then he glanced at Ronon from the corner of his eye, very carefully not saying anything more.
Ronon stepped forward, pulling his pistol out. It was a simple process to limp to the Wraith, turn the pistol in his hand, and aim it down. The Wraith convulsed slightly as the blast hit it, and then fell completely inert. "Done," he said, turning the pistol to the stun setting and pushing it into the holster.
Potter swallowed and nodded, before demonstrating his control over the felines by ordering the biggest of them to come closer and lay down so that Ronon could get onto its back. The cat growled, but did nothing as Ronon threw one leg a little clumsily over the creature's back. "Stand," Potter ordered once the taller man was securely seated. The beast stood up, forcing Ronon to take hold of its mane to keep himself seated.
"These things would make a hell of a way to travel," he murmured in wonder even while feeling oddly embarrassed. The beast was so big that he felt like a clumsy little kid on its back. However, the beast was impressively powerful - his weight probably didn't mean a thing to it. One of them, tamed, as his steed through every world he travelled in.... He would've liked that quite a bit. Would've given him a head start on the Wraith on more than few instances.
"Feeding would be a problem," Potter answered, glancing at the other beasts and then at the Wraith. Then he shook his head and turned away. "Let's go," he said, and led the beast carrying Ronon away from the cave and the small field around it, leaving the dead Wraith alone with the enormous cats.
It didn't take more than a few minutes before Ronon realised that the feline, as powerful as it was, wasn't easy to ride. The pace was uncomfortable and the back shifted under him, almost throwing him off a few times before he got adjusted to it. Cats, he mused, weren't really meant to be ridden. At least not without something to hold onto, some sort of saddle or something like that. And apparently they didn't much care for someone pulling their mane, he thought with a mild grimace while the beast growled at him for doing exactly that.
Potter either didn't notice or didn't care about his difficulties, too busy gathering plants as they went, ripping bark off a tree, snatching mushrooms from the ground... all which were showed without much ceremony into his bag. Ronon watched him for a while, before speaking out in order to try and distract himself from the fact that his ride could eat him. "How does it work?" he asked. "The controlling... trick."
"It's a talent my kind have, an ability," Potter answered, taking out the wooden stick from before and holding it out for Ronon to see even while ripping flower buds from a nearby bush. "Just as long as I got this, I can make pretty much anything follow my orders. Animals are easy, not too intelligent, can't put up a fight. Can do it to humans too. Never tried to, though."
Ronon frowned. "So you could make me do whatever you wanted with that thing?" he asked, a little suspicious.
"Maybe. If you’ve got a strong will, you can fight it," Potter answered, and glanced at him. "There wouldn't be any point in controlling you, though. I only use the animals because I need the protection."
The Runner kept staring at the shorter man for a while, still frowning, before he finally nodded. Potter hadn't shown any hostility towards him yet, so it was a safe bet to trust his words. "You can use that thing to stun too. Like with the Wraith. What else can it do?" he then asked.
"Lots of things," Potter answered and waved the stick towards a nearby bush, muttering something. The bush shuddered, and as Ronon watched, a few of the leaves were ripped out of it. His eyes widened with shock as the leaves floated gracefully through the air, and then directly into Potter's bag. "That sort of thing," Potter said, closing the bag and hiding the stick.
"That..." Ronon trailed away, giving the other man a serious look. "The Ancestors were said to be able to move things without touching them. With their minds," he said slowly. The Ancestors had had many abilities like that - they were said to heal with their minds and heal with their touch. Potter hadn't done anything like that, but controlling animals, making things fly....
"Good for them," Potter answered.
"All your people can do this sort of things?" Ronon asked, wondering if Potter's people were descendants of the Ancestors.
"Some of them," Potter answered. "Changing the shape of things, making things float... that sort of stuff is pretty common among those who can. We learn in school how to do it, some better, some worse. And how to make potions, and so forth."
"Hm," Ronon murmured, trying not to show how impressed he was. With abilities like that - yeah, Potter could definitely take care of himself. It also explained why the Wraith hadn't exactly impressed the man. When you could move things with a stick of wood... "Your world must be an interesting place," he muttered about as diplomatically as he could, wondering how Potter's people would handle themselves against the Wraith.
"Only if you're interested in it," Potter answered, glancing at him. "What about yours?"
"Sateda?" Ronon asked and shook his head. "It was home. Pretty good technology, medicine, stuff like that... we were... we did good. Weapons, machines, we were well set. Not many worlds get to that point," he frowned, turning his eyes to the forest around them. "It had forests and mountains and oceans, not that different from other worlds." Who knew if it had anything now days. Wraith could do some serious damage if they wanted to.
"Why did the Wraith attack you?" Potter asked.
"Why do they attack anyone? To feed. And to make sure no one can stand up to them," Ronon answered. "Lots of people are destroyed by the Wraith because they're potential threats. Sateda was like that. We were getting too strong. A few more decades and we might've…. They don't care for that."
"Pleasant folk," Potter muttered, shaking his head as he picked a plant from the ground and looking at it studiously. "And it's like that all over the galaxy?"
"There are rumours about worlds the Wraith don't bother with. That have weapons or protections or something else the Wraith can't go around," Ronon answered. "But... I think they're a myth. Stuff people tell themselves to keep their hopes up."
"Utopias, huh," Potter murmured and threw the plant away.
"Sometimes people need one. Or a few," Ronon mused, giving the man a thoughtful look. Despite all the talk about Wraith, Potter didn't seem scared. Or concerned. Or even particularly interested. "It doesn't move you at all. Wraith. You don't care."
The shorter man glanced at him at the accusation and then shrugged his shoulders carelessly. "Hasn't sunken in yet. The whole thing. Wraiths, planets, galaxy…" he made a circling motion with his hand to encircle everything they had talked about in one bundle. "Doesn't seem real yet."
"Oh," Ronon murmured, feeling a bit stupid. Of course it wouldn't have. Potter probably hadn't even known there were different planets, given the fact that he didn't know what the Ring was. And one encounter with a one Wraith wasn't enough to impact the full severity of the situation. It usually took a cruiser or a hive for that to happen. "You better be prepared," he said without much pity for the ignorance the other was still enjoying. "Coming with me, it'll end up sinking in sooner or later."
"Hm. Let's hope so," Potter nodded and looked ahead as they reached the Ring. When Ronon had arrived on the planet, he had been too out of it to see more than the woods and the moss, but now that he saw the actual place, he realised why Potter hadn't thought that the Ring was important. The pedestal beneath it was covered in moss and the dialling device was half hidden between bushes. It looked like a half-forgotten monument, rather than the gateway it was.
"Get me down from this thing," Ronon said after a moment of silence, and Potter ordered the feline to lie down again, before moving to help the bigger man to his feet. Ronon looked at the big cat as it lay on the ground, wild and ferocious even whilst restrained by Potter's odd mind trick. Bringing the cat along would've been… both oddly comforting and worrying. "Now what?" he asked, motioning at the cat. The animal was under Potter's control so it was his choice.
"I've abused it enough," Potter answered, eyeing the enormous cat, before jerking his head. "Go. Leave," he ordered, and the beast stood up fluently before dashing into the woods.
"Abused," Ronon repeated curiously.
"I was forcing my will over its. Necessary for my survival, but not exactly kind," Potter shrugged, looking at him with raised eyebrows. Then he nodded at the Ring in silent question.
Ronon didn't answer and instead limped towards the dialling device. Practiced habit brought an address to his mind, and he dialled it without even bothering to try and remember if he knew anything about the planet it belonged to. He punched in the symbols with determined sharpness before hitting the circle in the middle. He was used to the noise the Ring made as it responded to the dialling, but the sound made Potter take a step back - and when the Ring's vortex opened, bushing out in horizontal geyser before collapsing into the puddle it was while active, Potter gaped.
"Incredible," the shorter man murmured, stepping closer to the shimmering blue surface. "It looks magical," he murmured.
Ronon snorted, stepping forward. "Isn't. Pure science, no miracles involved," he assured, though not without sympathy. Some less advanced races had some interesting notions about the Ring, so he knew where the man was coming from. During his off-world training he had even seen a race which had worshiped the Ring as an artefact of the gods. He had almost been burned at the stake for defiling it.
"Though I guess it's science no one understands. Satedan scientists tried for a long while to figure out how it worked," he said. "All they could determine before the end was that it makes tunnels through space. Come on," he added, patting the shorter man's shoulder. "Best way to know what it does is to experience it."
Potter opened his mouth to argue, but Ronon shut him up by shoving him into the portal. He grinned faintly at the yelp the shorter man made just before vanishing into the blue, and followed him in. Having a companion, even if for a little while, was going to be weird.