Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Stargate Atlantis characters or settings.
After enjoying the discussion and speculation on the Gateworld threads I've decided to write my own version of the Season 5 Ronon-centric episode, 'Broken Ties'. So be warned: This and all following chapters contain every spoiler for season 5 I've managed to find. The plot, however, is just my imagination.
Narrowing down the field
The sight that met their eyes when they reached the village not far from the gate was one of destruction. Burnt out huts, overturned carts, trampled soil - and everywhere the dried out husks of the villagers who had been fed upon. An indication of how desperate for food the Wraith had become. In the past, they had culled the majority of their prey for their hives. Still, it appeared that the inhabitants of this village had at least tried to fight back. There were a few dead Drones between the human bodies.
John's head whipped around when he heard an anguished squeak form Rodney McKay.
"This one's still alive!" Scrabbling at his waist, Rodney tried to pull his handgun out of its holster.
"Rodney, no!" Sheppard shouted, but the scientist was too panicked to hear him. He pointed his gun at the drone, but his hand was shaking so hard he couldn't manage a precise aim. John saw a flash of black advance on McKay, and realized that Teyla had understood his warning shout. She was much closer, and managed to inject herself between the Wraith and Rodney, just as he had brought his other hand up to the grip of the gun, trying to steady it.
"Do not kill him," she said to Rodney, breathing hard after her desperate dash.
"Are you crazy?" McKay squeaked again. "Get out of my way, before that thing sucks the life from all of us."
Teyla shook her head. "He is gravely injured and will not last long. But I may be able to draw some information from his mind."
Rodney dropped the gun, understanding dawning in his eyes. "Oh!" he said in a small voice.
By now, John had reached the little group as well.
"Good job, Teyla. Now get to work before it's too late."
Immediately, Teyla dropped to her knees as close to the drone as she dared. Letting her eyes roll back into her head, she made her thoughts reach out for the Wraith's mind.
John looked at Rodney, a stinging reproach on his lips. But the words died away when he saw the stricken look on McKay's face. He had seen it there also during the conversation they'd had a few days before…
"Damn it Rodney, there must be some way to find him!" John hissed through clenched teeth. Banging his fist on the scientist's desk, he resumed his pacing.
"If you have a way of narrowing down the possibilities I'll try my best," McKay answered. "But there's no telling where he is now." He threw out his arm to illustrate his point. "We're talking a whole galaxy here, and it's not even sure he's on a planet or moon somewhere. They may just keep him on a ship. Finding a needle in a haystack is like taking candy from a baby compared to this."
John stopped suddenly when an idea occurred him. "Last time the Wraith took Ronon they made him a Runner again. Maybe they did the same this time." He came back to Rodney's desk and leaned against it, hands gripping the edge. "Can you track their signals and see if there's a new one?"
McKay cast him a reproachful look and heaved a theatrical sigh. "After all these years, you still underestimate my intellect. Of course, that's the first thing I did. In fact, we've been tracking the runners out there since our mission to Sateda, and we have in fact managed to free a few more from their tracking devices. But I know exactly how many are out there, and there have been no additions recently."
"We just have to get him back," John muttered. "Those things hate him with a vengeance. Ronon's the one that got away - twice. There's no telling what kind of torture they're inflicting on him as…"
He broke off when he saw the look of desperation and helplessness in McKay's eyes…
"I… I'm so sorry," McKay stammered. "I wasn't thinking, I was… just so scared when his… its feeding hand…"
"It's okay, Rodney, I understand," John said under his breath, signaling to the scientist to be quiet so as not to break Teyla's concentration. Silently, the two men stood there looking at the Athosian.
Drawing a shuddering breath, Teyla broke her connection with the drone's mind. Her eyes opened, and she took a moment to focus. To his surprise, John saw tears threatening to overflow. Slowly and stiffly, Teyla rose to her feet, staggering slightly. John put his hand on her elbow to steady her.
"Teyla? Are you alright?"
"Yes, Colonel, I will be fine in a moment. I felt a lot of pain, but the drone is dead now. It was very easy to enter his mind. He had hardly any strength left to resist me."
"And? Did you learn anything?" John asked eagerly.
"In fact, I did," Teyla replied. "But you will not like it. It appears that Ronon is in Michael's hands."