A/N: This is a response to BiteMeTechie's first sentences challenge. 001: I traded my last thing of value…

The Ring

by StarSkimmer

I traded my last thing of value six months after my race was obliterated.

I'd been running from a particularly determined Wraith, who nearly managed to kill me. Nearly. I came away from our last fight with a few nasty wounds; he ended up with his head and neck separated.

I was lucky to have survived. I knew this, and realized that luck alone wouldn't serve me. Luck alone wouldn't be able to keep me alive for another three days.

I needed a more reliable weapon than the two or three daggers that the Wraith hadn't taken from me before implanting the tracker device in my back. I needed a gun, one like the blaster that I'd left back on Sateda. Or the stunner that the Wraith had liberated from me on the hive ship.

Unfortunately, the only way I'd be able to get my hands on a good gun was to trade for one. And the only thing I had to trade was a jeweled ring. Not mine; Melena's.

Even all these years later, I can still recall how it looked, how it felt, as if it I'd held it just yesterday. It was a fancy thing, made of intertwined bands of gold and silver, with small diamonds studded along it. There had been romantic words carved in the inside of it, naïve, overly sentimental words that I wrote when I was still young and starry-eyed.

To my love, Melena, the star and guiding light of my life.

I personally hadn't cared for the ring; my own bondage ring was simple, a plain band of gold. But Melena had loved it, and treasured it like it was all the world. When I'd started selling our possessions to raise the money for Melena to become a part of Kell's personal staff, her ring was the one thing she refused to let me sell.

Before the Wraith had attacked our home world, she'd given it to me with the words, "Keep it safe for me, Ronon."

I'd stared at her, dismayed. The idea of keeping her ring reminded me too much of soldiers, sent off to a battle they knew they wouldn't survive, who gave their loved ones a lock of their hair to keep their memory alive. I told her no, but she persisted.

"Keep it as a reminder of our love."

Subdued, I replied in a murmur, "I don't need it to remind me. How could I forget?"

But I'd kept the ring. And watched, just hours later, when an explosion had ripped my mate to pieces.

I'd obeyed her words, and kept the ring, using it to remind myself of her. Although in all honesty, I hadn't needed it. Melena was never far from my thoughts. My dreams were by turn pleasant and horrific; sometimes I'd awake from a night of her kisses and caresses; more often, I'd leap up sweating from the sound of her dying scream.

In short, I wasn't fond of the ring itself. But it was the last link I had to Melena, and was therefore my last thing of value. The only possession I had to cherish.

I was loath to use it as a bartering chip, even for a gun to protect myself. But I didn't have a choice.

I decided to trade the ring at a small outpost world, one that had such a small population of humans that the Wraith rarely paid it any attention. Its only purpose was for business, so it suited my needs perfectly.

The trader I did my deals with was named Rimil. He was a skinny, seedy little man. Right away I'd decided I didn't like him, but he was the only one who would trade with me. The rest were smart enough to realize what I was, and stayed away.

Not that Rimil didn't know. He did; he was just too greedy to care.

When I showed him the ring, his eyes had flashed with avariciousness, although he quickly proclaimed that it was a trinket, not worth half as much as it looked.

"It is just a bauble, really, but I suppose I could be generous and give you a small gun for it. Perhaps one of these…?" he said, showing me some puny handguns that would fall apart after a week of use.

I shook my head impatiently, giving him a terse answer. "No."

"Fine, then, maybe something more hardy," he said, showing me a few more guns that were just as flimsy. I replied with a glare that would have killed better than any one of those so-called weapons, if glares could kill.

Finally, Rimil said, "I see you are not tempted by any of my more delicate guns. There is one, though, that I think will please you…" He brought out another gun, and the sight of it made me suck in my breath sharply.

"Where did you get this?" I demanded, picking up the blaster gun. The design was blatantly Satedan; in fact, it was the same model that I'd used and favored while I served in the military. One that could both stun and kill, and was reliable and tough.

"The story of how I acquired it is an interesting one, let me tell you," Rimil said, his eyes gleaming with a look I didn't like. "I was traveling just a few months ago, and I found that one of the more advanced worlds – I've forgotten its name – has been completely destroyed by the Wraith. No survivors, very tragic," he added, not looking sad at all. "There were a great many objects left behind, though, and I decided to…confiscate…a few. It would, after all, be a shame if they went to waste."

My jaw tightened involuntarily, my blood boiling with anger. "You raided Sateda."

Rimil smirked. "Raided is such a strong term. I prefer to think that I liberated it of unused items that would have otherwise been forgotten."

I stared at him, wanting to rip out his throat so badly that my hands ached with longing. If he noticed my fury, he didn't show it, continuing,

"Besides – it is hardly a raid if the owners are already long dead and gone. So, would you like to trade the ring for the Satedan gun, or not?"

Looking down at Melena's ring, half of me roared that there was no reason in the galaxy that would compel me to leave her ring in Rimil's hands, a cold-hearted, indifferent bastard who'd plundered a world that had already been ravaged enough. The other half said that I had no choice. I needed that gun.

Practicality won out. I gave Rimil the ring that day, the last thing I'd ever treasure in my life. I clearly remember stalking away from his trading shack to the Ring, savagely thinking that if the Wraith came to this world, I would not grieve at all.

I gave up the ring, and along with it, I let go of a piece of my heart.


A/N: So? Like, love, hate? Reviews are candy and concrit is chocolate. I happen to love both. -hint-hint-