Chapter 1: Entymology
Working with the Lanteans is, if nothing else, never dull. The Commander returns from his latest brush with them in a bit of a mood, retrieving the ones who had stayed behind at the research facility, and while most of them end up working to refurbish an old, abandoned hive ship, Wisp finds himself bundled off to Atlantis to help develop the gene therapy quicker. At first, he spends a lot of time locked up, which doesn't bother him as much as the Lanteans want it to, but eventually, he begins spending more and more time in the infirmary, working alongside the human doctors.
By the time he's spent a month there, and Frost has been by to share life with him once, keeping him healthy and fed, they seem to have almost forgotten he's Wraith. Foolish, of course, but he knows why the Commander sent him and not one of the others. Not only is he the closest thing the Hive has to an expert in these matters, he is also less intimidating physically. Wisp was born twinned to a Queen, and he shares his sister's stature. He shares other traits of hers, too, and if the Lanteans knew what he could do, they wouldn't be so quick to dismiss him as being small and delicate.
But he says nothing, because it benefits him if they think him safer than his kin.
And so Wisp finds himself in the infirmary most days, mostly ignored as long as he wears his restraints and stays away from the networked computers. He keeps his head down and runs his tests, and listens with both ears and mind, learning the ways of the Atlantis hive without them noticing. And what he learns, his Hive will know.
The twelfth Lantean day of the current month, he finds himself listening as Dr. Jennifer Keller speaks to one of the geologists, who is obviously gravid. Wisp knows how human reproduction works, though he often wishes he didn't. Like everything else they do, it seems so inefficient and needlessly complicated. They are discussing the child she carries, apparently a male, and what she wishes to call the child once he is born.
Human naming rules are so strange. To let the parent name a child before knowing the child's mind and who they are seems all wrong to him.
Wisp was born to a clutch of seven, six males and a Queen. They were all just "child" in the Hive's mind until they were old enough to earn their hive-name. Hive-names are simplifications, shorthand forms of their true names. Most Wraith still retain theirs, still use that form over the longer mind-names.
A human name is nothing but a label that a child has to learn to fit into.
Wraith names do the opposite. The child forms the name.
Wisp is not defined by his name. He defines it. Wisp is a tendril of mist curling over the deep waters of an dark, foreboding world in the morning, hiding something deep within. His mind-name is Mistwhisper, his mind a soft, quiet caress cloaked in swirling mist, misdirecting and diverting, obscuring and alluring, with hidden depths beneath the misty shroud. That is the nature of Wraith, their names based on who they are, and not the other way around.
His Hive is no different. There is Storm, whose mind-name is Cloudanvil, a thunderstorm on the brink of breaking out, heavy in pressure and electrical charge. Rust's mind-name is Irontaint, his mind crackling with the dry whispers of rust on metal, creeping steadily on. Frost is Winterblade, the stabbing cold of the winter air on a frost planet, sharp and to the point. Wisp's sister-Queen is Darkwater, because her mind is like deep waters of a forest pond at night, with nothing visible but the very surface, the darkness beneath a mystery.
It is not as though human names lack meaning. It just seems so strange to Wisp that they apply the name to the child without knowing if it would fit, to risk giving a child a name that will not match the child's personality. Wraith have pride in their names, and the way they represent them.
Of course, in some cases, humans can name true.
Wisp discovers the meaning of the human name given to the Commander by accident, and though it takes him a bit of time to unravel, considering that he knows preciously little about the human home world, he is quite amused when he does.
A symbol of cunning and trickery, and one of the most adaptable creatures on Earth.
It is quite fitting for the Commander.
Chapter 2: Disagreement
In which there is an argument, and John is bemused.
No pairings or warnings for this chapter. Prompted by arguing with my scientist grandfather.
Watching a pair of Wraith argue was quite an experience.
Despite having vocal chords, the Wraith seemed to prefer communicating telepathically, especially when there were humans around, which meant that John got to lean back and watch Todd and the other Wraith have the mental equivalent of the arguments Rodney and Zelenka often had. It was a bit like overhearing an argument over the phone, except that instead of getting only one side of the argument, he got none.
The tension was obvious, because Wraith weren't subtle, all snarling and bared teeth, and he could almost swear their hair rose like angered cats, but with Wraith, and especially Todd, you couldn't really tell much of a difference there.
Since they didn't seem to want to share what they were arguing about, John amused himself by making up reasons why the two were fighting. It had started out based on the way the Atlantis scientists argued about who was right about a given subject, but they were taking their time, and John had started getting silly by now.
Maybe they were arguing about the smaller Wraith stealing all the hairbrushes on the Hive. Certainly, his hair was less of a rat's nest than most Wraith, and more Lord of the Rings elf. Or maybe they were arguing about who had the better coat. John would go with Todd there. It was pretty tattered by now, but at least it didn't look like something you needed a degree in physics to get into, unlike the other one's.
Maybe they were arguing over who ate the last human and whose turn it was to go pick up more.
Truthfully, John was pretty sure he wouldn't have find it half as amusing if he actually knew what the two Wraith were so worked up about. It was nearly certain to be something highly unpleasant and ominous.
Finally, the smaller of the two seemed to have had enough, growling one last time at Todd before swirling around and stalking off the way only a sulking Wraith could do.
Todd growled in satisfaction as the other Wraith retreated and walked so sit on the ledge near John, a strange look in his eyes as he looked at him. Almost possessive, in that unsettling intense way of the Wraith.
John said nothing, but decided that no, he'd really rather not know what they were arguing about to bring that trait out in Todd. As far as he was concerned, they were arguing over the best conditioner in the Pegasus galaxy, or something.
Not thinking about it had always been the SGC-approved way of handling these things.
Chapter 3: Modification
A look into symbolism and tattoos among the Wraith, as well as some insight into one Wraith in particular. Set pre-show canon. Prompted by the word "Modification" from Random Word Generator (Plus).
No pairings or warnings for this chapter. More notes at the end.
The needle stings, leaving his lips numb and feeling swollen. It doesn't bleed, even though the skin is so thin there.
Howl's hand is under his chin, tilting his head back as he works. Any of his Hive would do this for him, but he trusts Howl, and there are not many he trusts, even among the Hive. Things are difficult now, and his sister-queen is not as careful about who she has chosen for her Hive as he wishes she would be.
She is young, though, almost too young to be Queen already, and she is still inexperienced enough to pick her Hive based on attraction.
It will no doubt come back to bite her.
So he has sought out his Mother-queen's Birthhive, to ask one of the few Blades he trusts with everything finish up his marking. Howl is not bloodkin to him. Though the old Blade is consort to his mother-queen's own mother, he is not the male who fathered his mother-queen. She is too obviously of the Blaze clan as much as the Night clan, and Howl came to their clan from the River clan. But with his near-infinite patience with nestlings, he has always been important to all the clan's young.
Howl is not bloodkin to him, but he is Hive, even though they have never truly lived aboard the same ship.
His patience is soothing, as much of a calming influence as the cool hand underneath his chin, clear through their minds even while clouded with Howl's concentration and his pain.
Wraith are not accustomed to lasting pain, their healing too fast for pain to really set in. They do not feel much pain at all, the majority of their nerve endings internal rather than on the surface. But the lips have nerves, sensitive ones, and the repeated sting of the needle is a slow burn across his lip as the surface is slowly dyed a uniform, inky black.
This is the last part on the marking. The pattern on his chin had barely felt sore at all, and was already healed. This hurts more, but he knows it will be worth it.
It is not common among their kin to mark their lower face, much less their lips.
By doing this, he is making a stand. He is not just yet another male, not just another clever Wit. Even in their clan, where Wits are treated as well as Blades, most males go ignored unless they prove themselves.
He is unlikely to ever catch the attention of a Queen from another hive and prove himself that way. Most males never do. Even Howl, who is decidedly impressive in both skill and age, had waited long before getting a chance to become consort.
If he wants acknowledgement, he must make it for himself. It will not be on his sister-queen's hive. She does not value any male who cannot provide her with strong offspring, much less an older brother-male trying to make his own way. He has no doubt in his mind that she will soon trade him with another Queen, a brother for a brother as the ways often go.
Howl lets go, looking over his handiwork critically, before nodding and putting his tools aside.
The marks the older male has laid down on his chin and lips are perfect, just as he had expected. They draw in the eye, forcing the gaze to his lips as he speaks. Maybe now, more will listen.
Wisp smiles, ignoring the sting in his lower lip, feeling the pain smoothen itself away as it always does. To any Wraith, the markings they wear tell a story, setting them apart from each other. For males, that is a necessity. For a Queen, it is more vanity and pride. The markings tell the story of accomplishments in life.
And to Wisp. a new story has only just begun.
Some notes to terms I use:
Blade: A Wraith officer. Think Steve, Bob, Todd and the type. Term shamelessly borrowed from the Legacy books.
Wit: A Wraith scientist. I assume Michael was one, but I think he's the only named one in canon.
The use of hive vs. Hive: I use hive with lower case when I refer to any old hive out there. When I use Hive with a capital H, it's to refer to not only the ship fo the Wraith in question, but also the other Wraith aboard it. It refers to the entire social structure as much as the ship.
Bloodkin: Used for closely related family; brothers, sisters, parents, children, siblings' children and first cousins.
Hivekin: A member of the same Hive.
Birthhive: The Hive a Wraith was born to. Few Wraith ever remain in their Birthhive.
Howl isn't part of the Hive this fic focuses mostly on, but he might very well pop up again. He is sort of important to various backstories.
Chapter 4: Devotion
This challenge prompted by the word "Devotion", and a discussion about Wraith and love. Storm "volunteered" to tell us how he feels.
No warnings for this. Pairings include Storm's unrequited feelings for Nightrose, and a mention of Nightrose and her consort.. OFC/OMC, in both cases. With Wraith, the ladies are always in charge. ;P More notes at the end.
The first time he sees her, it is entirely by chance; Storm is serving on his sister-queen's hive and they are crossing Night Clan territory. Tradition dictates asking permission from a Night Clan Queen, and they wait for a while for another hive to come into range, their communications array woefully neglected.
The Queen who replies is a stunning creature, tall for a Queen and dark-haired, dressed much more simply than his sister-queen. She needs no decoration. Her presence, even through the crystal screen, is more than enough to make him want to kneel down to her and declare his loyalty.
Her name is Nightrose, a dark beauty that reaches its full potential in the dark, where playful shadows caress her form, and hide the sharp and wicked thorns from view. She is the Primary of her Clan, and the Night Clan is infamous indeed, known for strong minds and clever ways, subtle where other Clans are forceful.
It takes no more than an eight of a cycle before he takes his leave of his sister-queen's Hive, travelling alone to Night Clan territory, ready to swear allegiance or die trying.
He ends up on a Hive led by a young River Clan Queen, distant kin to him through their mother-queens, and who has formally become part of the Night Clan to gain the protection of a Clan Primary. The River Clan Primary is long since dead, falling in the war against the Alterans. The Clan Queens are scattered and weakened, and many seek alliances. This one has chosen the Night Clan, like he himself has. Her Consort is an older Night Clan Blade, a Hive Commander who was once a Wit, a transformation almost unheard of.
It was for Queen Nightrose he came to the Night Clan, but it is for the way the Clan treats their Wits he becomes certain his choice is the right one.
Under the Hive Commander's watchful eye, he throws himself into his work, wanting to prove himself with all he has. On his old Hive, he was simply another Wit, uninteresting to the Queen both for his calling as well as for his relation to her. On this new Hive, Wits are valued, and he finds himself growing more skilled, more confident.
Storm could be be Wit Primary if he wished to be. But he has chosen not to, because the Wit Primary must keep track of all the Wits of the Hive, a task better suited for Wisp, whose mind expands across the Hive like a net, weaving them all into the web of his own mindscape. Instead, he focuses all his attention on engineering, making the hive the best it can be, despite it being an older model.
His kin-queen is long since gone, and though he misses her for her easy grace and lack of harsh demands, she was never his Queen in more than name. His Hive is without a Queen, and it should be a horrible thing to be, but instead, they are flourishing. The Hive Commander has returned to them, and he is leading them in an entirely new direction, with new challenges and new knowledge.
And they have the approval of Queen Nightrose, which makes Storm feel like nothing can defeat them.
His love and loyalty for her is unending, like Wraith itself.
She has a Consort, an old, wily Blade who Storm could never defeat in an open challenge, even if it would have been accepted. That is all right to him. He loves her too much to ever wish to deprive her of the best possible things. Her Hive has the best engines he could design; the best weapons Shimmer has designed. Her Consort, though old, is strong still, ready to defend his Queen from anything.
Sometimes, when the Clan assembles, Queen Nightrose will look at him and smile, and he will know he has pleased her; proven himself worthy of the trust she once showed.
There is nothing more Storm could ever ask for.
More Wraith clan names, yay?
Primary: In canon, we get to see a single Primary. I think that seems a little off, since I don't think a single Queen could rule all the Wraith, so in my head-canon, there is a Primary Queen for each clan. Usually, she's the clan founder, but sometimes, it's a daughter or a sister who has defeated the former Primary and taken over. Nightrose here is the Night Clan Primary. (Teyla is the Hunter Clan Primary, if anyone is curious.)
Chapter 5: Simple
It's the simplest thing in the existence to him. In which Frost gets a bit sappy, at least by Wraith standards. Prompted by the word "Simple" from Random Word Generator (Plus).
No warnings for this. The pairing for this is Wisp/Frost, so original male character/original male character. Nothing more than PG, though. ;P
More notes on the end, as per usual.
Some of the humans have implied that maybe Frost is simple of mind, and in some ways, they are likely right. Not in the sense they intend it to mean, certainly. Though he is nowhere as smart as the Wits that make up the majority of his Hive, Frost is definitely not stupid. He lacks cunning, maybe, preferring to rely on his size and strength rather than on elaborate strategies, but he is perfectly capable of following such strategies if it is necessary.
He cannot speak as humans do. The humans seem to think that means something. It does not. Frost has never needed spoken words.
He is not a complicated person, though. His interests are plain and simple. The plans and ambitions of other Wraith hold little meaning to him.
Frost likes fighting. Not necessarily in a battle, though he likes those, too. However, he also likes sparring with Shimmer, who makes up for Frost’s greater mass and higher strength by being fast and clever, and just a little vicious. He likes training with his weapons, likes the way they feel in his hands and the sounds they make as they move.
He likes darts, likes the way they go so fast and feels like freedom.
He likes the feeling of snow on his skin, making fur and blanket nests to curl up in, the way humans get all nervous when he stands around watching them, and the various sweet things they bribe him to go away with.
He likes his Hive. It feels like home, like safety and protection, like belonging. It is a real Hive.
Most of all, he likes Wisp. Not that Wisp is simple, but to Frost, his reasons for liking the little Wit are the simplest things he knows.
Wisp talks to himself sometimes, reminding Frost that he’s not alone anymore. He is small, but he is warm, and his mind is strong, comforting and ever-present. Frost likes the way he moves, the way he dresses, the way he thinks. He likes how Wisp’s hair feels soft in his hands and the pleased sounds he makes when Frost brushes it for him, how he feels like he was made to be in Frost’s arms, and how he knows all the right things to say and do. He likes how Wisp makes him feel safe, instead of the other way around, and how he protects Frost as much as Frost protects him.
He likes how they feel like equals.
These are the things that are simple to Frost; he is taller and stronger than most, he is a good pilot, he fights well, he protects his hive. He is loyal to his Commander, and will do his best to make him proud.
And he loves Wisp. With his mind twined into his mate’s, arms around him as Wisp works, he is home. He is safe. He is content.
It’s the simplest thing in existence to him, and he doesn’t need anything more complicated.
I'll save you my rambling theories about Wraith and sexuality, because it's mostly a topic for the specially interested. The basic gist of it is that because of the high ratio of males to females, and the fierce competition for the Queens' favour, homosexuality is not a big deal to the Wraith. This particular fic won't have that much pairings, I suspect, but these two are an established couple in my mind, and remain so in every fic I've tossed them into.
RE: Frost's inability to speak: The jury is still out on whether it's actual physical damage causing it, or a psychological block of sorts. He comes from a bit of a crappy birthhive and it has left its marks.
Chapter 6: Tea and Patience
There is much to be said for tea and patience.
In which Wisp gets to spend some time with the human Queen, and likes what he sees.
No warnings for this chapter.
More notes at the end, as per ususal.
“Wisp,” she says, and because it is her, his full name echoes through his mind like a sibilant caress. “Join me?”
Steelflower is a young Queen, and a very human one, but she is Queen in her own right none the less, and her mind is weighted by the strength of a clan Primary. Wisp does not bend easily to Queens, too strong-willed and not swayed by the desire to be favoured, but he still finds himself compelled to obey. Her words are offer, though, not order, and she does not expect anything.
She just watches him with warm, patient eyes, and sees beyond what he is. He can hardly do any less.
His reply is non-verbal, but with her, that is no hindrance. He smiles at her, appreciative of the offer if nothing else, and inclines his head as he would to his Commander. Wisp will not kneel in submission, but Teyla Emmagan would not ask him to, either.
He does kneel later, tucking his legs beneath himself to settle comfortably on the straw mats in the room converted to an Athosian gathering area, but it is not in deference. It is in companionship.
She pours amber liquid into stoneware cups and hands one to Wisp. When he takes it from her, his feeding hand brushes her wrist and she does not flinch. There is little weakness in her, though she is small and surely beautiful to human eyes. Steelflower is an apt name for a Queen like her.
The tea smells like grass and smoke, fragrant without being overpowering or acrid. Its heat seeps through the heavy ceramic and warms Wisp’s hands, soaking into his bones. It is surprisingly pleasant to sit like that, sharing space with a Queen who does not seek to conquer and dominate.
He has sat like this before, silently sharing peace and space with Queens, and his mind places Steelflower there, at the side of his Sister-Queen, his Mother-Queen, and even his terrifying Primary. She is Hunter Clan, not Night Clan, but their clans are old allies, and she has the strength to reinforce those bonds. Even human, she is impressive, despite her youth and relative fragility.
Wisp has always trusted his Commander, but it is only now he begins to understand what it is his Commander sees when he looks at Steelflower.
If the Lantean humans want to seek an alliance, she will be their key. A Queen will only deal with another Queen, and Steelflower can stand against most Queens. He is impressed. He thinks his Clan-Queens would be, too.
The room is lit by candles and sunlight, lending a warm glow to their surroundings. Warmth is not a common trait for any Wraith, but somehow it suits her. She is a mother, he knows, though he has never been near her child. He can see it on her, though it seems strange. Humans live such short lives, and to him, she is barely more than an adolescent, yet she is a fully fledged Queen with a consort and child.
Despite himself, he is impressed.
The Commander is right when he says humans are more than they seem.
Wisp sips his tea cautiously, unwilling to burn his mouth even if it will heal. It has cooled enough, though, and brings a warm sensation and a flavour of smoky leaves. He does not require fluids to live, but they are uncomplicated and often pleasant. It brings memories of being a nestling still, spending days in the forests of the Clan’s territory, learning to track and hunts as the adults do.
Only drones are pod-raised to adulthood.
She looks at him, curiosity on her face, and impulsively, he shares, letting her into his memories to see as he saw back then, when things were new and he had only his pod-sister at his side, and only his Mother-Queen’s oldest brother for a teacher. Patience was learned, not inborn, and his pod-sister had little of it, but they were good days.
The smile she offers in return is surprised, but not displeased. Wisp sees the Queen in her, and wonders if she realizes that there is little difference between Steelflower and Teyla Emmagen. It is not the dichotomy humans seem to think it, because there is nothing in Steelflower that is not present in Teyla Emmagan.
Strong Queens always have many names.
It has always been the way.
Strength is not all, though, and where many Queens seek to dominate with power, the most revered Queens are those who know this well.
There is much to be said for tea and patience.
Sorry about my absence. Blame writer's block and the fact that I haven't rewatched SGA for a while. Doesn't mean I've stopped loving the green guys (and girls)!
Steelflower: Teyla's Wraith name in the Legacy series. I adore it, because it fits her so well, so I've shamelessly appropriated it.
Pod-sister/brother: Basically identical twins, but with some differences, seeing as how they can be opposite genders. Twins from the same egg, though. Fraternal twins would be referred to as clutch-brother/sister, which is relatively common. A brother or sister from a different clutch is simply blood-kin, or blood-brother/sister. Todd and Shimmer are blood-kin brothers, though there's almost four thousand years between them, so they're hardly close in age. Flood has a clutch-brother named Rapid (Whiteflow) who serves on another Hive. And then there's Wisp and his sister Darkwater, and Rust and Edge, who are pod-siblings.
Clan-Queen: From a Wraith's point of view, a Queen from the same clan.
While Wraith can't digest food or drink, it mostly passes harmlessly through the system. Certain types of food may cause trouble. Even Wraith should not eat bone or sharp objects.
Wisp's somewhat resistant nature when it comes to Queens is nothing special. He's just pretty much exclusively homosexual and as such, lacks the desire to impress a Queen to become a favourite, though he still retains the instinct to obey.
The non-masked Wraith in the show have too much personality to be force-grown like the drones are, so I'm guessing only the drones are cloned and vat-grown. The rest of them are incubated in pods as well, but only until they're old enough to eat solid food. We know there are Wraith kids because of Ellia, and we know they eat food until basically puberty, so yeah. In my headcanon, child Wraith are taught by the males of their Hive until they're old enough to take care of themselves.
The Into the Hive-crew now have their own Tumblr for sketches, headcanon bits that doesn't make ficlets, occasional in-character questionnaires and everything else. Feel free to pop over and ask them stuff: http://ebonstar.tumblr.com/
Chapter 7: Good Company
In which there is, inexplicably, a cat in Atlantis somehow, and of course it intrigues the Wraith.
Or, in which I plonk a fluffy kitty in Atlantis for no reason, and break all rules of "don't bring non-native animals anywhere" simply because the mental idea of Frost the massive Wraith warrior and a little cat made my writers' block go away for a while.
The next ItH-ficlet was going to be a serious introspection on Wraith. Clearly this did not happen.
The creature’s eyes look like his.
That’s the first thing Frost notices as he carefully bends to see what makes the strange hissing noise.
Whatever it is, it has wedged itself into a small, dark space, and the only thing visible is its yellow eyes, glowing at him from the shadows. It’s clearly a small creature, or it couldn’t have fitted in such a small place, but judging by its warning hiss, it isn’t that deterred at his much larger size.
Slowly, he folds himself into a sitting position, careful to avoid sudden moves. Frost likes animals. They’re surprisingly good company and have few demands. Most animals run readily, but this one doesn’t seem scared. Just annoyed.
In truth, it reminds him somewhat of Wisp. He is also prone to hissing when annoyed.
In both cases, patience is the key, and Frost doesn’t move further, just sits and lets the creature act at its own speed.
In time, the creature makes its way out and approaches slowly.
Frost doesn’t know this creature, though he has seen similar ones, so he supposes it may be native to the Lantean human’s homeworld. Its movement and build reveals it as a small predator, the set of its eyes and ears meant to help detect prey.
Mostly, though, it seems to be made from fur. A lot of fur.
He waits a while more as the creature seems to make up its mind about him, then smiles as it comes closer, giving him a look that very much says that it is allowing him the privilege of being in its presence.
Again, he is reminded of Wisp.
Slowly, he lifts his hand and allows the creature to inspect it before trying to touch. When he finally does, it seems as the he has passed the inspection, because the creature stays still, allowing him to gently stroke its fur. It feels warm and soft, and when he scratches it lightly, it purrs in satisfaction.
Fondness spreads through him, prompting inquiries from Wisp and the Commander. Both accept his shared impression of the little creature beneath his hand with the same dry amusement, a rush of warm affection following Wisp’s impression.
His Hivekin are busy, caught up in talk and politics with the humans, and he is not required at the moment.
That is perfectly all right to him. They are the clever ones, with plans and ideas, and the strength of mind to make those plans and ideas come to life.
Frost doesn’t have plans and his ideas mainly involve his crafting. He has a warm summer afternoon and an unexpected companion to share his silence.
If asked, he’d definitely say he has the better of the two options.
If Wisp was an animal, he'd totally be one of those high-maintenace purebreed cats. Frost would be some kind of massive, imposing-looking mutt that was secretly a snugglebug.
Clearly, I need to stop writing under the influence of boredom.
The ItH-crew have their own Tumblr at http://ebonstar.tumblr.com/, which has headcanon and fun factoids that won't necessarily end up here.
Chapter 8: Burning Bright
A part long coming, as I was re-watching some episodes and realised that, you know, to Wraith, death isn't a certainty the way it is to a human. Likely, yes, especially for a male, but not entirely unavoidable.
This chapter does deserve a IMPLIED CHARACTER DEATH WARNING, I guess.
Humans do not understand what it is to be part of a Hive. They may say that they do, and maybe they even believe that they understand, but they never will. "Like a close family", they say, they say, which isn't wrong, exactly, but a Hive is so much more than that.
Hive is belonging. It is home, hope, warmth, strength. A Wraith without Hive has nothing. A Wraith with a Hive has everything. Hive is not something to be explained, it is something to be experienced.
Their Commander once called John Sheppard a brother, and they know Sheppard does not understand what being Hive-brother entails. He is human. He will never feel the Hive there, an ever-present reminder that they belong somewhere. Even when separated physically from the Hive, the bond remains, if faint, bringing strength.
It is strange to feel the bond reach out to someone who cannot respond, but they can feel him faintly. It is hardly the same, but in time, they become accustomed to the feel of a human mind where there should be a Wraith. An oddity, perhaps, but their Hive has many oddities. One more is hardly something to even notice. A human mind seems flare-bright next to Wraith minds, bright but blurred. An inaccessible feeling of flickering warmth.
Until suddenly it is gone.
The loss lacks the sharp feel of a Hive-kin's death. It is more like a dull ache, what humans call a phantom pain. Only when it is gone do they realise how much of a part of the Hive it had been. The effect is clear, though, the feel of loss and futility permeating the Hive from within. Only then do they see the true problem of a human in a Hive-bond.
Human lives are ephemeral. To them, death is a certainty, not a possibility.
Loss-tinged, the Hive-bond feels almost lacking for a moment, as they try to understand what it means to know death is inevitable. In a Hive, knowledge is shared, but maybe it is better that they have been spared that particular knowledge. To go through life knowing that it will end in such a brief time seems like torture to them, yet humans have a fundamental love of life that drives them to wring as much from such a short span as they can. They burn too bright, and too brief.
Hive is belonging, and in the end, even a human could belong, even if he never knew so himself.
With that knowledge, the bond almost feels bitter.
The Hive will learn and adapt, as it always does, but it will never feel the same.
It is possible that there are still things Wraith will never understand, either.
Needless to say, this chapter is future-fic, and the character death is generally unavoidable death. No specifics, but humans do die eventually. To Wraith who has gotten used to the humans, that would be a bit of a shock. An eighty-year average lifespan is nothing by Wraith standards.
The relationship between Todd and John fascinate me, and I assume that given a good few years of truce, it could be a true friendship.
Chapter 9: The Sound of Silence
Wraith are not accustomed to solitude, nor to silence. Sometimes, it's hard to cope.
This was not the chapter I was supposed to write, but sometimes, inspiration strikes out of nowhere. I've been talking to a friend about the Wraith mental bonds a lot and wondered what it'd be like for a Wraith to be separated from the bond but still in a mostly safe environment. Like an allied Wraith alone in Atlantis.
Poor Rust, I'm mean to him. But he was a the obvious choice being a.) young and b.) a twin, and as such, doubly unused to solitude. And he's still young enough to be uncertain of himself.
Now back to writing the actual chapter I was supposed to be working on.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It isn’t Rust’s first time in Atlantis, not by far. Most of the time, he likes the city-ship, likes watching and learning new things. Maintenance for dead-ships is entirely different from maintenance for a hive ship, but it’s equally interesting, and he likes the Atlantis engineers. They are not so different from the Wits of his Hive, although they’re disturbingly fragile and Rust is always concerned he will accidentally hurt one.
Wisp assures him humans are more resilient than they look, but he still can’t help but worry. He doesn’t particularly want to hurt anyone, except occasionally Edge, and only because Edge always starts it.
But Edge isn’t there now, and neither is any others of his Hive, and Rust doesn’t know how to deal with the silence in his head.
So he stays away, because he doesn’t trust himself right now.
They are not supposed to be alone in Atlantis; there is always supposed to be at least two of his Hive there if there is to be any at all, but Storm had to go help one of their allied Hives with an emergency, and Rust said it would be all right to be alone for a while.
It isn’t. There is a deafening silence in the back of his head where the Hive should be and it feels numb, like a part of him is missing. His mind keeps reaching out, trying to find anyone to echo back at him, but there is nothing.
He supposes Teyla Emmagan must be off-world, too, or he could at least have felt her. But there’s nothing, and although he will not admit so where their human allies can hear it, he is terrified. He could go back to his Hive, he knows that, but even with the fear gnawing inside him in places even the hunger never reaches, he doesn’t want to admit defeat.
Rust is Blaze Clan. They do not back down.
He just really wishes they did.
The knot of fear and complete, unsettling silence inside him feels completely wrong, and he has to wonder how Wisp could choose this. He did not know the Wit Primary until they had both joined the same Hive, but he has heard the stories of the Mindblade’s wandering, leaving his former Hive at leisure. But Wisp is much stronger than Rust will ever be, so he shouldn’t be surprised. If anyone could bear this voluntarily, it would be Wisp, whose mind-gifts are almost as strong as a Queen’s.
Rust’s own mind-gifts are not particularly strong at all. He masters the basics, certainly, but his Impression is barely passable, and his Blocking is terrible. Even Edge is better, and he is a Blade. It’s quite embarrassing. But Rust is a Blaze Clan Wit, and nobody expects much from them. It is Flameheart’s blood in his veins, and Her gifts were always stronger in the Blades.
Maybe it is different with Wisp because he chose it. He was prepared.
That isn’t much comfort.
The Commander was suddenly severed from the Wraith bonds for a very long time, and he never buckled. Even Frost, who has broken written in his genes, never gave in under the isolation.
Rust can’t afford to be any weaker.
Because Rust is very good at his chosen field, but there are many Wits who would give anything to join his Hive, and many of them are probably better than he is. He cannot allow himself to seem a liability. The Commander has given him a chance he is determined to deserve, or die trying.
If he does not have the strength naturally, he will have to learn how to be strong.
And he will.
But that doesn’t mean the fear is easily dismissed, because there is still silence in his mind and in his bones, and there is no source of reprieve. Rust has never felt so alone. Even in Wildfire’s Hive, where he and his brother had not been permitted to Join, just wait, there had not been complete silence. There had been a buzz in the distance, a reminder that they weren’t alone, and Edge had been there. Edge has always been there, since the day of their Hatching, their minds forever linked up, and now he’s not there any more.
Edge is fine, of course, back with the Hive, probably suffering through whatever horrific device Shimmer had invented in the name of “training” this time, but he is not there, on Atlantis where Rust is, and Rust feels as though his feeding arm is missing.
He has never been alone before.
Atlantis is not that much larger than a hive ship, but it feels so much bigger and emptier, and Rust feels lost. Even if he was on an enemy hive ship, he’d have felt the others, even if he wouldn’t be welcome.
Not here. Here, he is alone, and it is almost too much for him.
He curls against one of the generators, wrapping his arms around his knees, and feels more than a little pathetic. The sound from the generator is familiar, at least, the low and mechanical buzz, and if he closes his eyes, he can almost pretend he is in the Ebonstar’s auxiliary engine core, his favourite place to work. He is almost too big to fit in the gap between the generators in the core, but the enclosed area is comforting, somehow.
In this empty place, there is no place he misses more.
He drops his head onto his knees and just listens.
He has lost track of time by the time someone approaches, and it is telling that the person gets so close before he notices.
“There you are,” someone says, and Rust looks up to see the human commander standing over him. “Zelenka mentioned you were down here.”
“Should I not be here?” Rust asks, not quite willing to move unless he has to. The familiarity of the generator is a small comfort in a big and empty city, as is the warmth.
The commander shrugs, seemingly at ease, but this one has a deep core and rarely shows more than he intends. “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be, I suppose,” he says. “It’s warmer down here.”
He knows more of Wraith than he admits, Rust thinks, but he isn’t surprised. His own Commander has named this human his brother, given him a place in the Hive as an equal. No other human has earned that before. Looking at him now, Rust can sort of see why.
“Zelenka said you’d been a little out of it, though,” the human continues, hands in his pockets. “So I thought I’d check up on you. You are looking a little green there.”
The human blinks, realising what he just said. “Well, greener than usual, I mean.”
Rust has no idea what the words mean, but he appreciates the thought. “It is just …” His words seem to die on his tongue, his every instinct longing to Speak as he should.
Sheppard nods. “I know the feeling,” he says, and Rust thinks, from the tone of his voice and what he knows of this man, that he might very well be right.
Slowly, Rust unfurls himself and rises to his feet, unwilling to move too fast. He still feels numb. Standing up, he is taller than the human by a few inches, but he doesn't feel it. There is a similarity between the human commander and his own Commander, and their presences feel somewhat the same yet wildly different. He feels small in his presence, like a youngling, despite having centuries on the man. Humans live so short, though. If translated, Sheppard’s age probably equals a much higher age than his.
Sheppard gives him a smile. “I’ll never figure out how you guys manage to fold yourselves up like that,” he says.
Rust returns the smile, ducking his head a little. He feels a little bit silly now, like a hatchling being scolded, but he is pleased that Sheppard came for him, and that Doctor Zelenka was concerned enough to tell him. It feels a little like Hive.
But then, Sheppard is Hive, by their Commander’s will, even if he does not feel like Hive the way the others of his Hive-kin does. HIs mind does not echo back, but even his presence soothes the silence.
“I’ve got some paperwork to do and could do with some company to keep me from falling asleep,” Sheppard says. “Feeling like joining me in my office? You can poke me if you think I’m slacking off.”
Nodding, Rust falls in behind the human commander, following him back to the upper levels. Sheppard’s office is warm, and he settles in the window sill, calculating the the improvements Crow wanted to make to the storage areas.
There is still silence in his head, but there is the rustle of paper and scraping of the pen, and if he listens close enough, he can hear Sheppard’s heartbeat. It is not like the Hivebond, not the same at all, but it is not so bad.
Not so bad at all.
Dead-ship: Wraith term for any ship not techno-organic like their own, mainly Ancient or human. Hive ships still retain some of the creature they were seeded on, and have limited awareness, so Wraith can feel them. Fully mechanical ships feel dead to them, thus dead-ship.
Flameheart: The Blaze Clan Primary.
Impression: The ability to project images into someone's mind.
Blocking: The ability to block other Wraith out of one's mind.
Speaking: Pretty obvious, the ability to speak mind to mind.
Typically, Wits have stronger mind-gifts than Blades, thus Rust's annoyance that Edge is better at them.
The Blaze Clan doesn't favour Wits and tend to trade them away, which is why Rust doesn't think much is expected from him. It's also one of the reasons why he's still fairly unsure of himself.
As mentioned before, the Ebonstar crew have their own Tumblr over here, where headcanon and randomness is posted, and the ask box is open for questions.
Chapter 10: Wobble (Or; Dead Food Shouldn't Move)
So this was going to be a silly little "What does Wraith think about the more pointless human foods?".
Then Abyss happened. And strawberry jello.
The thing about Abyss? I love writing him, but my head starts hurting after five minutes. Don't expect much coherency from this chapter. Abyss doesn't do coherency.
He's not even part of the Ebonstar Hive. Unfortunately, he's demanding when he wants to be.
It’s a black and white thing, the easiest thing in the world. Like up is up and down is down, and warm is definitely not cold, things are either alive or they are not. Food is alive. At least to Wraith it is, because dead food is no good and besides, you can’t chase food when it’s already dead. That’d be silly. Easy, but silly. Maybe if they attached the bodies to a wire and hung them beneath the darts, but that wouldn’t really be much use.
So Wraith food is alive.
Human food is not, though much of it have been at some point.
But if human food isn’t supposed to be alive, Abyss really wants to know what is wrong with the strange, quivering thing on the plate in front of him. It wobbles when touched, but it makes no sound. The colour is so bright red it looks warm to the touch, but it’s really quite cool. There is no emotions or thoughts coming off of it, and it smells like synthetic, but it moves away from the spoon as though it’s afraid.
It doesn’t make any sense.
Abyss knows about not making sense, but this is new and fruit-scented, and doesn’t behave like anything he has ever seen. He reaches out to touch it, and it wobbles again, shying away from his touch. It feels odd to touch. Food is not supposed to be cool and silent, both mind-silent and voice-silent.
Every sense he has says it’s dead. But it won’t stop moving.
He prods it again, more violently. Its surface gives easily under the touch, his nail sinking deep into its jiggling form.
There is still no sound. The false fruit smell grows stronger, though.
It’s dead food, red food, wobbling all over the place like a new-hatched youngling, acting alive even if it isn’t.
Almost spitefully, he takes the spoon and strikes the wobbling mess with it. It splits, and keeps wobbling, mocking him.
It must be mocking him. Abyss is not about to let dead food get the better of him, not when live food never has, because he is old and clever, and maybe he’s a little bit broken, but he doesn’t wobble all over the place with no mind.
At least he doesn’t think he does. Sometimes, he knows that the Others don’t see things like he does, but then he forgets because something else is more important.
Like defeating the warm-bright, wiggling dead-food that still moves.
Using the spoon, he removes a chunk. It still wiggles, back and forth and back and forth like an arc pulse in the hyper drive, glittering and taunting. Even as he lifts the spoon, it tries to run. Dead but alive, inert yet fleeing. He almost wants it to run, so he can chase it down until it shudders in exhaustion and stops. But it doesn’t of course, because it’s dead, and just wobbles pathetically.
When he puts the spoon in his mouth and bites into it, it offers no resistance at all, parting like something congealed. It tastes like ethyl propionate and sugar, with a touch of fluorine derivatives. Even its taste is dead and false, but not exactly bad. Just artificial, like licking a hologram would, except he thinks that would be more electric.
Abyss likes electric. It dances through his body and makes him feel more alive than ever, fire-bright and sharp inside his veins. They feel so dull normally, like there’s no colour left inside him and it was all drained away in the tanks. But there are no lights inside him, so that might be why. No lights, no warmth, no colour. Just flesh and blood and wobbly warm-red dead food that moves like it’s alive and tastes like it never was.
It tastes of pretty lies, he decides, pretty lies and whispers, and things he has no name for but that he probably should.
And it wobbles, too.
He suddenly understands why his cousin likes the humans so much even when he wants to throttle them, because anyone can bake a pie, even is Abyss isn’t allowed to even try or Darkwater will scold him for forgetting what happened the last time, but it takes a special kind of people to make food that is dead and alive at the same time, and tastes like lies and broken memories.
Making an amused sound, he takes another spoonful.
It wobbles red-bright and entirely too animated.
Not too much notes for this.
Darkwater (who I'm sure I've mentioned before) is Wisp's twin sister-Queen and Abyss' Hive Queen. She's kind of awesome, actually.
The cousin he's referring to here is Todd, by the way. Their mother-Queens were sisters.
Abyss' story isn't very nice. Thus the insane. Though of course, he's Shard Clan, and they're genetically disposed to crazy anyway. He's pretty happy with his life, though, insanity aside.
Jello makes no sense.
Chapter 11: Mission Improbable
Shimmer is on a mission.
For all that the Ebonstar was small for a hive ship, her hull was a veritable maze of corridors intersecting and twining around each other. When the ship had first been grown, she had been a very small ship, unable to grow much larger when her Queen had little in the way of resources. Later, under the guidance of the Night Clan, the Hive had grown strong and so had their ship. She would never be as large as some of the truly impressive hive ships around, and her hallways were a labyrinthine mass of tunnels that had been added where needed, not where they’d seem logical.
The effect was more than a little haphazard.
Most of the crew’s personal quarters were in the upper segments of the ship, but the older sections of the ship were closer to the bottom, and there were still some quarters left down there. Their Hive was far from at full capacity, and as such, there were plenty of spare quarters, and there were no need to live down there in the ship core, but some still chose it.
Shimmer was on a mission.
A very important mission.
Blocking had never been his best skill, mostly because he hadn’t ever seen the point. With his blood-kin, he wasn’t ever going to be able to keep secrets anyway. His Sire was a master at Blocking but still folded like paper to the Primary’s mind, though to be fair, that might be related to the fact that his Sire was also the Clan Primary’s Consort and Blocking her out would not be in his best interest. His brother could Block their Mother-Queen out if he truly wanted to, but rarely chose to do so, because even if he played risky games, he did not normally want to risk angering one of the First Brood. Entirely understandable, Shimmer thought, because their Mother-Queen was scary enough when she was in a good mood.
Stealth might be a Night Clan trait, but Shimmer had never played by the rules, and normally he liked the attention.
Not while trying to avoid detection, though, which lead to the second reason he was using the lower corridors. There usually weren’t a lot of traffic down there.
He had bumped into Frost on the way down, the sub-commander busy with the masked warriors’ training, but the younger male hadn’t even reacted. Of course, Frost was Shard Clan. He was probably used to seeing stranger things than one of the Hive’s senior Wits skulking around. Most Blades tended to avoid getting involved with Wit strangeness anyway. Especially Blades mated to Wits, who knew perfectly well how strange they could get.
Shimmer had just grinned at the giant Blade and shared enough of his mind to show friendliness and relative harmlessness. He liked his sister-son’s mate. He was obviously good for him. Wisp hadn’t been anywhere near as terrifying as he normally was since he had bonded with Frost, which was a good thing. Shimmer’s life was a lot easier when the Wit Primary was not in scary mode. Sometimes, Wisp’s similarity to the Clan Primary was really, really unsettling.
He’d made his way as far into the ship core as he could easily get. If he wanted to go deeper into the core, he’d have to go climbing through the veins of the ship, which he preferred avoiding if he could. His goal wasn’t the core, though. It was the chambers closest to the core, hidden away in a part of the ship nobody ever ventured unless they had a task down there. Not that Shimmer’s task was exactly sanctioned by the Commander, but it hadn’t been forbidden, either, which he took as permission. His brother was normally very good at telling him what he wasn’t allowed to do.
Unlike most Night Clan males, Shimmer favoured Projection over Fading, and it was by far his strongest mind-gift. Like all of his skills, he had developed his own twist on it. With a little Discerning twined into his Projection, enough to match another’s mind-patterns, it was easy to override neural locks. It look little time and little effort to coax the door to opening for him, letting him slip inside.
Crow’s chambers were surprisingly cluttered for a Wraith whose task it was to keep everything in order on the Hive. Crow was frighteningly efficient in his role as Quartermaster, but worked so much and so hard he rarely had the time to deal much with his own space. Chirring to himself, Shimmer took it upon himself to clean things up a little. He’d never understand how Crow accumulated so much stuff so fast, though he supposed he had as much himself, he just usually didn’t have it all over the place. Once he was satisfied with that, he set about accomplishing his original mission.
The Ebonstar was trained to accept the commands of the Hive Wits, as they were the ones responsible for her upkeep. It only took a little urging from him to make her part her plating and allow him access to the wires beneath it, and he sent her a small tendril of gratitude. It was probably pointless, but he felt better when he felt he was treating the ship right.
/Do I even want to know what you are doing?/ Wisp’s mind curled into his like tendrils of smoke and mist.
Shimmer wasn’t surprised. Wisp’s job was not only to directly do research, it was also to keep track of the Hive’s Wits, his mind stretched across the Hive-bond like a net woven from mist and starlight. Before anything else, Wisp’s gift was Discerning, and he was a true master of it, his mind tied into the entire Hive without anyone feeling his presence.
/Probably not,/ Shimmer answered lazily, moving another wire to splice it into the feedback input.
There was no anger coming from the Wit Primary, only mild annoyance and amusement twined into one, bleeding through only because he allowed it. /Will this be a repeat of the last incident?/ The undertone of “if it is, I’m telling the Commander” was obvious.
Pulling another wire out of its socket and replacing it with one of the ones he’d spliced, Shimmer shook his head despite not being seen. /It should not be,/ he mused. The last incident had gotten a little out of hand, though he still held that Flood had overreacted somewhat and it wasn’t as though they’d needed that auxiliary generator at the time, anyway. /Crow works too much and rests too little. I am merely adding some incentive./
He sent the idea along the bond to show Wisp what he was planning. It wasn’t as though he could keep the younger Wit out even if he’d wanted to.
A mix of amusement and affection flooded back to him. /You will be paying for that for a long time,/ Wisp warned, though he seemed largely unconcerned.
/If it gets Crow to stop working and take some time to himself for a change, it will be worth it./ It would be, even if he’d have to do a lot of groveling to be forgiven. He didn’t really mind. He didn’t have a sense of dignity anyway, and he usually got something out of convincing Crow to forgive him.
/Just do not break anything,/ Wisp intoned and let his mind fade from Shimmer’s, gone like the mist that gave him his mind-name. In his wake, he left amusement and a whispered promise to detain Crow until Shimmer had finished his alterations.
Making a pleased sound to himself, Shimmer busied himself with finishing what he had started without the distraction his meddling sister-son posed. It wouldn’t be long until the next rest-cycle, and with a little luck and a lot of skill, Shimmer would make sure his friend actually got some rest for once.
Whether Crow wanted it or not.
I have this list of the important Wraith characters on the Ebonstar and the chapters of this fic, and I realised I need to give some of the others their own chapters, too, because as it is, Wisp has four chapters, Frost has two, and there's a lot more Wraith to go. So have some Shimmer and his strange friendship with Crow. They're best friends. Shimmer just has a strange way of showing it, though he does mean well most of the time. In case you're wondering, he's basically reprogramming Crow's bed alcove to keep him trapped in there for a while, so he won't be able to work. A lot of the Ebonstar Wits are prone to working too much in an attempt to prove something, and Shimmer has basically taken responsibility for making sure Crow gets some rest.
I've got a long post up about Wraith mind-gifts over at the Ebonstar Tumblr, but the basic breakdown is this:
Speaking: Basic mind-speech, represented here by /italics/
Projection: Projecting mental images and making people see things that aren't there (see the illusions Wraith used a lot in the first season)
Fading: Hiding things from sight by affecting perception with psychic abilities.
Discerning: Basically mind-reading.
Blocking: Keeping other Wraith out of their heads.
All Wraith hive ships are not female. It depends on the gender of the seed-carrier. The Ebonstar was seeded on a female, thus she's female. Nightbearer, Nightrose's hive ship, was seeded on a male, and thus he's a male ship.
A Sire is a Wraith's blood-related father, though many Wraith might not know who their Sire is, simply because most Queens will mate with several males during her fertile cycle. Todd and Shimmer do know their Sire, though. His name is Howl, and he was in an earlier chapter.
As always, if you've got questions or just want to see random fun facts and headcanon, the Ebonstar crew has their own Tumblr. Questions can be to the writer or to the actual Wraith themselves. *chuckles*
Chapter 12: The Right Ambition
Ambition is bred into the core of Wraith society, but not all ambitions are obvious ones.
Apparently, Mondays are my Into the Hive days. I don't usually sleep at all for the Sunday night/Monday morning switch, which apparently puts me in a Wraith-y mood-set.
Anyway, have a chapter about Edge musing about some aspects of Wraith community, because he's a fairly happy-go-lucky guy for a Wraith and not all that good at being a great, big, scary Wraith.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Here is the thing; Wraith society is built on ambition.
First is the ambition of the Queens, each one vying to be the strongest and most powerful, to have the widest influence and the most successful offspring. A Queen's ambition is measured in how widely known her name is, hers and those of her daughters. And sometimes even her sons. A clever, strong Queen can become stronger, can reach further, and maybe one day be Primary of her Clan, a Queen of Queens. Any Queen would want her name as known and feared as those of the First Brood, would want other Queens to beg alliances, presenting their sons for her Daughter-Queens to choose from and asking for her sons to be their Commanders, theirs and those of their Daughter-Queens. Whether she desires to be worshipped or feared, every Queen follows her ambition.
Second, then, is the ambition of the males. No male ever reaches the infamy of the strongest Queens, but a cunning male may become almost as well known. If he plays his cards right and attracts the right attention from the right Queen, males can be truly powerful in their own way. To any male, the truest form of honour is to wear the Clan-name as part of his Mind-name, an ambition shared by Blade and Wit alike. It is in Wraith nature to seek reputation, to be known for their deeds, and every male wants nothing more, and nothing less. Most males strive to one day be favoured by a Queen, a Commander or a Consort. Even those who do not desire to be strong, or to be clever, known and lauded for something. To prove themselves is the ambition of any male.
Third is the ambition of the Clan, third not because it is less strong but because it is less coordinated. All nine clans have their own ways and their own goals, but though they are forever connected, Wraith are not a collective. The individual ambitions often conflict with the clan ambition, and one Queen's gain may be another's setback, tilting the balance of the Clan and forcing everyone to adjust. Still, each clan seeks to be the strongest, the cleverest, and the most wide-spread. To reach this goal, every clan weaves a net of alliances and conquest, all trying to snare the other clans inside their weave.
There is also the ambition of the Hive, though its place in any given Wraith's life depends largely on both the Hive, its Queen and the individual Wraith. For some, it is everything. For others, it is an afterthought. It is always there, though, woven into the Hive-bonds like it belongs. Maybe it does.
So there it is. Ambition, though the nature of the ambition varies, is a constant in Wraith life, and helps shaping the individual Wraith into what they become.
And then there is Edge, who only knows one thing. He has no ambitions that are worth pursuing.
It is not that he considers himself worthless. He very much does not. While his bloodline is unimpressive at best and his Mother-Queen's name almost unknown, he is a capable fighter for his age and in perfect health. He is not particularly clever, that much is true, though he is not as much stupid as he is thoughtless and occasionally reckless, but he is more than smart enough to be a good Blade. He is smart enough to know when to follow orders and when to not follow blindly, which is all he needs. His brother has always been the smart one, and Edge is perfectly all right with that. He is the strong one.
But he is unremarkable for a Blade. Strong, yes, and just clever enough, but he is part of a Hive whose Blades are legendary. The Commander is a son of the First Brood, who fought the Skyclaimers in the Last Strike. He has defeated the Lifeless twice, and has the Clan Primary's favour more than any of her other sons do. His cunning is the subject of many tales, and he is as clever as a Wit when he needs be. He has been Commander to a Queen renowned for the her strength and that of her Hive, a creator of great alliance and a vanguard for his kin. He has suffered the severing of every hive-bond and imprisonment away from Hive and kin for longer than anyone should, only to come back even stronger.
His Hive is named in his honour, not for a Queen and not for a Hive-goal.
His trio of sub-commanders are almost as legendary.
There is Dustriver, brother of Snowdrop, the Commander's lost Queen, a legend herself for being the strongest River Clan Queen since the First Primary herself. Dustriver bears the Clan-name in his mind-name as a mark of his favour, yet rarely uses it, preferring to get by on his skill, not his name. Sharpjet is a Night Clan Blade, not blood-kin to the Commander but a friend, chosen as hive-kin. His greatest feat is that he is rarely noticed at all, for all that he is a tall, strong Blade. The shadows is home to him. Winterblade is even younger than Edge is, and one of his best friends on the Hive as well, but he is already sub-commander, already renowned for his relentless loyalty and skill with the massive blade he carries, as well for having the size of the Shard Clan without the wasteful cruelty.
Their Hive has many more Blades than they have Wits, but all their Blades are master soldiers.
Edge should feel overshadowed, he supposes. He does not. He will happily learn from any of the truly impressive Blades of his Hive, but he knows he has little chance of ever attaining such a name for himself.
Like all young Blades, he has tried to imagine himself as Commander, but he cannot see that ever happening. A Commander must be the best, and he is not the best. Far from it. Nor does he think he would ever be Consort; there are many Blades more impressive than him. He does not imagine these things for himself. It is much easier to imagine his brother attaining praise for his skill, and more important as well. Edge knows his place and his skill, knows what he is worth. Rust does not, and that saddens Edge. His brother is brilliant, but feels intimidated by the other Wits of their Hive.
Not like Edge, who is just impressed and inspired by the legends of their Hive.
If he has an ambition, it is to be all that he can be, no more and no less, and to help Rust attain the same. If he is to have a legacy, he would rather it be for being carefree and not for being ambitious.
He loves that about their strange human allies, once he gets past the idea of humans being more than just sustenance. They live so short but they make the most of their short lifespans, and though their lives can be filled with sorrow, they can also be filled with joy. Not that humans do not have ambitions, they certainly do, but it does not seem quite as bred into them, and it does not seem to always dictate their lives. At least not with every human.
Maybe Edge does have an ambition after all; an ambition to live like that, his life filled with what he loves the most, making the most of what he has.
It is not such a bad goal to aspire to.
First Brood: The nine first Queens (and their males). I will one day write the story about how my headcanon says Wraith were created.
Bloodline: Wraith count their bloodline through their mothers back to the clan founder from the First Brood. The closer to the founder the better the bloodline. Edge and Rust are very far removed from Flameheart, their founder. Todd, on the other hand, is the son of his clan founder.
Skyclaimers: A Wraith name for the Lanteans, accompanied by a mind-feel that it is a false claim.
Last Strike: The final siege of Atlantis during the war.
The Lifeless: A Wraith name for the Asuran replicators.
Consort: A Queen's favoured male. Often also the Commander, like Howl/Nightcry is for Nightrose and Todd was for Snowdrop, but not always. There are very few Hives without a Commander, but quite a few without Consort. If the Queen is young, her Commander is often an older brother or father (unless he's her mother's Consort) until she has chosen a more suitable male. Drought was Snowdrop's Commander until Todd took over, as an example.
And some names:
Yes, the Ebonstar is actually named as such because of Todd's tattoo. I originally intended it as a placeholder, but it stuck.
Dustriver: We know him as Kenny. His hive-name is Drought. Snowdrop's older brother and one of Todd's closest allies and friends.
Sharpjet: That's jet as in the stone, not the plane or a burst of anything. His hive-name is Dagger and he's a very distant relative of Todd's through his oldest sister's lineage.
Winterblade: We already know this guy, though mostly just as Frost.
There was a fourth sub-commander, Ashes, who was the one who ran off with the ZPM-powered Hive.
As always, and I probably sound like a broken record: The Ebonstar crew has their own Tumblr over here. Feel free to poke them, but beware: A lot of these guys bite.