"What is on your mind?" Teyla asked Ronon.
"Oh. Nothing." It really wasn't important. At least not to Atlantis.
"This nothing seems to weigh heavily on your mind," Teyla persisted. "Just know I am available if you need a friend."
Ronon looked down at his dinner and thought for a second. Maybe...
"This... gate-bridge thing the Lanteans are building so they can go back to Earth," Ronon fumbled.
"I am aware of it," Teyla nodded. "Rodney spends much of his time on it and John is helping as he can."
"Yeah. Just. Do you think there are any extra Rings?" Ronon asked.
Teyla frowned, then said, "Oh!" She put a hand on his arm. "For Sateda?"
"It would not hurt to ask," she said softly. "I do not see John saying 'no' although he may say 'not right now.'"
"That would be okay," Ronon agreed. "Just... when I was there- maybe there are other people stuck on the planet. The Wraith got most of us, but I don't think they got everyone. And I know where there should be some things we can use here."
"Then talk to John. He will know what to do."
"I will do that."
It was two days later that Ronon finally was able to roust John out for a run.
"You need to get out more," Ronon observed as John panted more than usual.
"Big project. Working with Rodney in the lab."
"Yeah. About that," Ronon said as he leaned against a railing.
John's head came up. He took a drink of water. "What's up?"
"I know you're gathering up Rings, from places that don't need them," Ronon started.
"Are there any extras?"
John frowned for a moment. "Oh! For Sateda?"
Ronon nodded. "Just... we didn't have a chance to check the whole planet, with the Wraith being there. There may be survivors and even if they don't need help, it would be good to know they are there. And I know where there should be weapons, hospital storage... other things we can use here. Or for trade."
John ran a hand over his face. "Damn. Sorry. I never thought of that!"
"You've been busy," Ronon grinned.
"It's a good idea," John agreed. "If nothing else, we can use things we can salvage for trade."
"There should be food, growing things," Ronon went on. "There were a lot of things grown outside the cities. I know the Wraith destroyed a lot of it, but there may be some re-growth by now."
"I'm sold!" John laughed, holding up his hands. "But that's a good thing to know, also. Okay, let me send Lorne to you. You and he can write up the proposal and I'll take it to Woolsey. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't approve it, but he does like his paperwork."
"Yeah. We had people like that, too!" Ronon grinned.
Ronon hadn't spent a lot of time with Major Lorne, but respected the soldier who had come from Earth to fight the Wraith in Pegasus. Lorne -- who quickly became Evan -- had jumped on the idea of going to Sateda to both check on survivors and to see what resources might still be there.
Evan asked lots of questions about what they might find, some of which Ronon could answer, others that he couldn't.
"I was focused on surviving," Ronon admitted at one point. "I searched out weapons storage and armor and didn't look for much of anything else."
"Sheppard said you mentioned hospitals?"
"I know there were medicine storage off-site. From Melena."
Ronon nodded then took a breath. "I don't have an exact location, but she spoke about storage for medical supplies. That may or may not have survived, but we can look for it."
"You mentioned crops?"
Ronon shrugged. "I know there were lots of food grown outside the city. Some of it has to have re-grown by now. Any extra food can be used here or for trade."
"True. Tell me what sorts of things you ate."
Ronon thought back to the food. "Breads. Tormack. Vegetables. Fruits. Red meat. Bird meat. Lots of different things."
"Hmm... grains of some sort. Tormack is always worth its weight in gold. Fruits and vegetables are also always good. There may be livestock that survived. Maybe we can get some egg laying birds and raise them on the mainland. Eggs are always in short supply."
Evan continued to grill Ronon for specific information, knowing Woolsey would approve the expedition even faster with concrete information. Evan wrote it up and Ronon looked it over before they sent it off to John.
"Good work on that proposal," John said over breakfast two days later. "I'll let you know what happens."
"Good." Ronon went back to his own food.
Woolsey approved the proposal immediately. John admitted that Woolsey expressed the same amazement that John had, that they hadn't thought of it themselves. Ronon and Evan could have any resources they needed, as long as it didn't impact the Gate Bridge project.
Rodney had grumbled for a moment then winced when John obviously kicked him under the table. "Okay, Zelenka can work with you... In his spare time!"
"We can work with that," Evan promised.
Zelenka loved the project. "We have lots of extra Gates," he admitted. "Rodney only wanted perfect Gates but there are a lot of functional gates you can have for this."
"What about a DHD?" Evan asked.
"Plenty of those, too," Zelenka shrugged.
"What will we need to do to hook it up?" Ronon asked.
"That's the easy part," Zelenka grinned. "If we get a Gate and dialing device from a planet, the connection between those devices is already there. We dial Sateda from here, the address does not change, and everything works like magic."
"Good to know!" Evan replied.
Radek worked through the list of 'extra' gates and recommended two choices to Rodney. Rodney dithered about making a decision but John evidently told him he had to make a decision and he couldn't say 'no' to the project since it was already approved. Rodney finally told them to take whichever one they wanted.
It took them eight days to get the Gate ready to travel. Since they wanted the Gate and the DHD, and had to use engineering staff when they were free, it took more time than just taking a Gate from a planet.
Ronon didn't mind, it had already had been this long since the fall of Sateda. A few more moon cycles wouldn't make a difference. He was happy to see the project moving forward.
"Okay, the longest and most boring part will be moving the Gate to Sateda," Evan said. "We can use a Jumper to Gate to the planet, but since the Jumper will be hauling the Gate, we need to travel through space to Sateda, which will take about nine days. And the Daedalus is currently on Earth. We could wait the six or seven weeks until it comes back, but we could be done by then."
"I've done worse," Ronon admitted. "Nine days to move the Ring can be done."
"Good!" Evan clapped his hands together. "Make sure you bring a book or something to do."
"I'll arrange for food," Ronon offered. "Your rations are okay, but I'll get the cooks to help with some things for at least the first few days."
"Appreciated," Evan nodded. "I'll get final permission from Colonel Sheppard and we should be ready day after tomorrow."
Woolsey insisted on being personally briefed before they left.
"I do want to apologize for not thinking about Sateda before this," he said to Ronon.
Ronon shrugged. "It's not been important. But I thought I could ask."
"We are all glad you asked," Woolsey replied. "You've been a major asset to Colonel Sheppard and we are happy to be able to do this for you."
Huh. Ronon wasn't used to asking for anything for himself but he was glad this was working out for everyone.
They set off the next day. In addition to himself and Lorne, Zelenka had sent a pair of junior engineers named Etta Johnson and Taariq Malki. (Although 'junior' was relative. Both had multiple degrees and experience in their field. They were just the newest recruits to the engineering department.) Johnson was ATA positive and had been trained in flying the Jumper. A second Jumper would be meeting them at Sateda when they arrived with the Gate. That Jumper would have a security team as well as a full engineering team.
Once on the planet, they disconnected the DHD from the Gate and moved it into the Jumper. It took up a serious amount of space in the rear, but they had planned for that. Johnson and Malki tied the cables to the Gate and made sure there were no trailing ends. They hooked the towing cables to the Gate and Evan lifted the Gate from its resting place as the last of the cables were tied up. Malki placed a small shield on the Gate, to protect it from micro-asteroids, and to serve as a tracking device if it was needed.
Evan lowered the Gate to the ground so everyone could board the Jumper.
"Ready?" Evan asked as he closed the rear hatch.
"Ready," Ronon said.
"Ready!" Johnson and Malki echoed.
Evan took the Jumper up slowly, to ensure that the Gate wouldn't fall and so that they could ease through the atmosphere of the planet. Once they were in space, it was a simple matter of setting up the auto-pilot and traveling. And waiting.
Evan took some time to make sure Johnson knew what to look for in case there were problems. Atlantis knew the route they planned to take and, barring problems, it should be simple. The area of space they had to traverse wasn't 'empty' but there were only a couple of suns and a minimal number of planets.
"So, what kind of food did you get?" Evan asked.
"Mostly fruit, vegetables, and sandwiches," Ronon said. "Although there is cheese and crackers for snacking."
"And as many MREs as anyone could want," Johnson added with a grin.
"Yeah, no," Malki made a face.
"Well, the general plan is that the fresh food should be good for the first five days if we have at least one MRE a day. Then MREs for the last four days," Ronon outlined. "The faster we eat the fresh food, the more MREs we'll be eating at the end."
"Oh, okay," Malki sighed. "I'll live."
"It's decent food and there's plenty of it," Ronon said.
Johnson and Malki looked at each other and Malki seemed to be elected to ask the next question.
"We don't mean this rudely, but, and you don't have to and we'll certainly understand, could you tell us about being a Runner?" Malki asked. "It's just, we're here in Pegasus and we've barely been off of Atlantis, which is why we volunteered for this." He waved a hand around the Jumper.
"Up to you," Evan said to Ronon.
Ronon kept quiet for a moment. "Not right now. Later in the trip, maybe. It's a hard story to tell."
The two nodded. "If and when you want," Malki agreed.
They settled into a routine. Evan and Johnson would do three hour shifts in the pilot's seat. Ronon and Malki would rotate being in the co-pilot seat. There was a small space behind the DHD that could be used for sleeping if one didn't want to sleep in the main cabin. The opposite corner behind the DHD was the toilet and while there wasn't complete privacy, there was at least the illusion of privacy.
Ronon had brought a writing tablet and pen that Sheppard had given him. He poked at writing some poetry but he was self-conscious about writing around the others. He kept waiting for them to ask what he was doing.
Fortunately, they did not. Whoever was piloting concentrated on that and they took turns keeping the pilot company.
Ronon ended up spending a lot of time with Evan since Johnson and Malki already knew each other and gravitated together.
Evan brought a sketch-book, as well as a reading device. Evan would sketch as he and Ronon talked, saving his reading for when Ronon was sleeping or it was otherwise quiet in the Jumper. Johnson and Malki spent a lot of time on their computers, working on a project Zelenka had given them.
There was a time when it was Evan's turn to pilot that Ronon did talk about being a Runner. He didn't go into too much detail but he did talk about some of the horrors he encountered. He didn't downplay his experience with the Wraith, they needed to understand what they were fighting against.
They were down to MREs and some fruit by the end. Malki ate MREs without complaint, although he did sort through for certain flavors. Ronon was pleased that it didn't take much to get him to make do without too much complaint.
They finally were within hailing distance of Sateda. The Jumpers that were meeting them were already on the planet and the engineers had started prepping the site for the new Gate.
Lorne slowed down the Jumper gradually so that the Gate would not float forward and collide with the Jumper. That maneuver took several hours with Lorne doing the majority of the piloting since it was beyond Johnson's basic skills.
As they entered the gravity well, the Gate naturally dropped below the Jumper. By the time they were above the site, the Gate hung straight down.
The engineers on the ground talked Evan through setting the Gate down.
"Here, you can help better than I could," Ronon told Johnson. "You'll understand what's going on more than I will."
"Thanks!" She slid into the co-pilot seat. Malki hung over her shoulder to be able to see what was going on. Technically, they couldn't see a lot since the Gate hung directly below them out of sight of the windows.
It took close to another hour before the engineers on the ground were happy with the placement of the Gate to be able to release the cables. Evan sat the Jumper down and closed his eyes for a moment.
"Damn. Good flying!" Johnson said.
"Thanks." Evan opened the rear hatch. "Go and see how it looks."
Johnson and Malki hurried out. The team on the ground were coming to them to get the DHD to install. Ronon grabbed some water and a couple of MREs before the team clambered on board. He handed the food to Evan.
"Eat. You need it."
Evan grinned. "Thanks."
They waited in the front of the Jumper, staying out of the way while the engineers move the DHD into place and lay the cables that connected the Gate and the DHD together.
Johnson came to the hatch. "Come on, it's almost time."
"We'll be there," Evan promised. He got up, stretched, and yawned. "I'm going to sleep for a week after this."
Ronon just grinned.
They exited the Jumper and stood together on the plain outside the city. It was a wide open space with the city about a twenty minute walk away.
They waited. The sun was low in the sky and the trees were bare. Thinking about it, Ronon guessed that it might be close to iliostasio. The day of the least sunlight. The event was usually celebrated with a festival and celebrations that looked forward to fair weather and the growing season.
The Gate started dialing and finally settled to a familiar silver puddle.
"Sateda, this is Atlantis. Are you there?"
The team cheered.
Ronon touched his communicator. "Atlantis, this is Sateda. Good to hear from you!"
Ronon wasn't quite sure how Evan had figured out when iliostasio -- the equinox -- was on the Lantean calendar but he had handed Ronon a wrapped package.
Opening it, Ronon found a drawing of himself standing in front of the new Satedan Gate, the city in the distance. The green branch of a pefko tree with winter berries gave a clue to the season.
"Thank you." Ronon looked at the gift in awe.
"You deserve to have a good memory of your home," Evan said.
"This is my home now," Ronon replied. "But this is a good memory to have."