The Broken Road

Ronon knew that the new doctor was hiding something. He was determined to find out the whole story. He must gain her trust and to do that he realized he had to trust her. Dr. Keller could not keep herself from staring at the handsome man. But from her past experience she was not going down that broken road ever again!

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13. Chapter 13

Once inside the little house Jennifer noticed it had charm but was in an untidy mess though. The interior looked like the occupants were in various stages of moving out. Things were strewn all over the place. It appeared that they were picking and choosing what to take and what to leave behind indicated by the varying stages of piles. Jars filled with tinctures and bundles of dried herbs were everywhere. There was a whole treasure trove of natural pharmaceuticals here to test and explore. Jennifer's fingers itched to examine the contents of the bottles. Maybe take some samples.

"Please...sit...sit!" The woman's voice drew Jennifer's attention away from the medicinal concoctions. She pulled out a chair and motioned Jennifer to have a seat at the kitchen table. "Cookie?" she offered once Jenn was seated. Jennifer shook her head and politely declined. "I hope I'm not bothering you." she said as she sat down. "I'm not interrupting you am I?" Jennifer asked looking around the room.

"Oh no, dear. My son and I are just packing to move tis all." Looking around the room, the older woman uttered, "Jabari and I are going to miss this place and the villagers."

"Does your son help you...a...umm...I'm sorry I don't even know your name."

Suddenly placing her hand over her heart the woman declared, "Oh where are my manners! My name is Kaya."

"Kaya." Jennifer smiled then asked, "Have you been the village healer for long?"

"Long enough it would seem." The woman mumbled underneath her breath.

"What?"

"Yes, for a few years now." Kaya told Jenn, then turned towards the kitchen counter. "Can I get you something? Are you sure you wouldn't like some cookies? I just made them this morning. They are very good. The townspeople love them!", she said sitting a large plate of what looked like sugar cookies on the table in front of Jennifer.

Shaking her head Jenn declined again and politely gave a No Thank you to the hostess. The woman seemed a little miffed at her polite refusal, Jennifer thought.

"Well then some tea." Before Jennifer could decline the offer Kaya held up her hand and declared, "If you refuse, then it would be considered a great insult. It is our custom to offer at least something to a new guest that enters ones home. It would be rude and an insult to decline such an offer."

Not wanting to be rude towards Kaya, Jennifer smiled and said, "Tea would be lovely. Thank you!"

"Wonderful." the old woman clasp her hands together and busied herself with preparing the drink. "So what brings you to my humble home?"

"I wanted to talk to you about the sickness going around. The villagers call it "The Cough"."

"Oh yes that." The older woman replied while taking a steaming kettle of water off of the fire and putting it to the side. She rummaged through several canisters until she found the one she had been searching for. "Ah-ha!" She exclaimed.

"Your son came to see me today."

"Mmmm? Did he now." Was the woman's reply as she busied herself with making their tea.

"Yes he was asking for, actually demanding", Jennifer corrected herself, "that I give him what he called the cure."

"Really?" Kaya sounded surprised. Jennifer couldn't gauge the woman's reaction because her back was turned to her.

"Yes. He came into the clinic with a young woman and child."

Kaya turned a bit towards Jennifer with a frown on her face, then turned right back around to continue making the tea.

"He was animate about wanting the cure."

"Did you give it to him?" Kaya inquired.

"I don't even know what plagues these people so I couldn't give him what I didn't have."

A spoon clattered to the floor. Without picking it up, Kaya faced Jennifer, her hands gripping the back of one of the kitchen chairs. "So what you are saying is that you have nothing to help these people. No medicine at all."

Jennifer felt a little indignant. Kaya made her feel like she was a failure for not being able to help these people. "No," she said shaking her head, "Nothing here. But I plan to take some blood samples back with me to my lab and possibly create a vaccine to stop all this."

As if Kaya hadn't heard Jenn's response, she asked, "Where is my son now?"

"Ummm..." Jennifer wiggled in her chair a bit then said "...My colleague is talking to him."

The woman's hand came up to stop a gasp from partially escaping. Her eyes wide with concern. She looked around the room. She seemed troubled.

"Please don't worry." Jenn said, "Ronon won't hurt him." Much, I hope!

Turning back to the counter the woman finished making the tea, and then brought a delicate cup full over to Jennifer. "Here you go dear, drink up. Drink till the last drop is gone. The cup must be completely empty so as to bring me and my son good luck."

~~~ooo~~~

Ronon made his way down the back street of the clinic towards the main thoroughfare of the village. The street was bustling with citizens who were shopping or peddling their wares. He stopped passersby to ask if any had seen Dr. Keller – the Atlantis healer - just recently. The townsfolk were either too busy or afraid of him to speak or they had truly not seen her. All shook there head to his inquiry - they had not seen her. It was as if she had just vanished.

As he searched up and down the street, the dark beast's fear leeched into his heart – making him think the worse. He had to find Jennifer before anything happened to her. If he had to, he would go house to house banging on every door looking for her. The beast's anger started mingling with the fear. He would raze the city to the ground to find her. He would stop at nothing to have her close to him again.

Then out of the corner of his eye, Ronon spotted the young woman and child that had been with Jabari in the clinic. The determined warrior walked straight for her. His long purposeful strides chewed up the distance quickly. The young female hadn't noticed his approach; she was too busy begging for a scrap of bread from a patron of the bakery. The shopkeeper came storming out to shoo the beggar woman away, then stopped short of seeing Ronon bearing down on them all.

"Kind sir, what may…may I do for y..you?" the baker stammered while wringing his hands.

The young woman holding the child turned and gasped. The look on the huge man's face made her quake with fear. He was upon her before she could run and hide. She fell to her knees, cradling her child to her breast, and crying over and over "Please do not harm us! Please do not harm us! Please!"

Ignoring the patron and shopkeeper, Ronon looked down at the girl and snarled, "Get up. I mean you no harm."

With terrified eyes, the young mother looked at Ronon's face and literally shivered from fear.

"I need to know if you've seen Dr. Keller – our healer."

The girl nodded.

Relief washed through Ronon. "Where?"

The girl just continued to stare up at him.

"Where dammit!" he grabbed her by the arm and hauled her up to a standing position. The child hid her face in her mother's neck and clung tight to her.

The young mother swallowed and said, "We…we…are hun…hungry."

Narrowing his eyes Ronon turned his attention to the patron who wasn't wise enough to leave the scene when he had the chance. The man had purchased a loaf of bread from the store. He also carried a bag of cheeses and meat. Without letting go of the young woman for fear she might run off, Ronon snatched the bag of groceries from the man. The male customer protested hotly until Ronon gave him his 'don't-fuck-with-me' stare. The customer said, "She can have it." And ran off. The baker followed suit by going back into his store.

Ronon held the bag of food in front of the young mother. The woman's mouth was salivating from the aroma and thought of such a meal. She reached out for it, but Ronon jerked it back. "Information first, then payment."

The young woman thought it over for just a few seconds, then nodded her head. "I will take you to where I last saw her." She gestured down the street and Ronon indicated for her to lead the way.

On the outskirts of the small town the young woman pointed out the healer's brick house with a nod of her head. Before Ronon gave her her reward he told her that if Jennifer wasn't in there he was coming back for her. He let the veiled threat sink in before letting go of the merchandise. The young mother nodded and ran off with her bounty.

Stealthily Ronon walked up to the door and closely listened. He could hear voices, but he could not make out if one of them was Jennifer's or not. He reached down and gently tried the door knob. Locked. The dark beast growled. Panic rose from the pit of his stomach. Ronon unholstered his weapon which was set to stun. With the element of surprise he drew back and threw his entire weight into the door - busting it nearly off its hinges. Upon entering the house Ronon's heart sank. Jennifer was looking at him with a terrified expression on her face. One of her hands was around her throat as if she were choking and she held a cup in the other. The cup's contents poured out onto the wooden floor. He was too late. The witch had poisoned her!

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