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All Living Things Must Feed

Chapter Text

All Living Things Must Feed

 

Prologue

 

"I must confess
I’m addicted to this
Shove your kiss straight through my chest
I can’t deny, I’d die without this"
In this Moment – Adrenalize

 

Her nails dig into Helena's skin, piercing it, drawing blood. There's so little space between them, so few barriers, but Helena reaches up and yanks at her shirt, tearing it. Her chest heaves with every labored breath she draws, pushing her skin against her lover's feeding slit.

She still merely rests it against Helena's body, her golden reptile eyes eagerly watching the woman squirm under her.
“You aren't hungry enough, are you?” Helena manages to speak through clenched teeth, and she smiles.
“I am always hungry.” Her feeding organ latches to her skin, but she doesn't start yet. “I merely enjoy drawing things out.”

Helena makes a noise, halfway between a strangled moan, and a frustrated sigh.
“Ivory,...”
Her tone makes the Wraith shiver pleasantly, the desperation. She has no interest in making her beg, but pushing her to the edge of disregarding her pride is something Ivory can't help but doing each time she finds herself in this situation with Helena.

Smiling, she leans down to her, keeping herself upright by pressing her palm harder against' Helena's collarbone, and nips lightly against her lower lip.
Helena stirs violently, her fingers tangle in Ivory's hair as she pulls her into a kiss. A sharp jolt of pain draws a surprised noise from her – Helena's fangs had torn her tongue open, and a metallic taste fills their kiss.

Feeling her arch against her touch, Ivory finally gives in to her hunger, connects to Helena's system and begins drinking her life force. It courses through her body, Helena's essence, almost as if it was pushing into her by its own volition.
Ivory breaks the kiss, rests her forehead against Helena's, and hisses.

She's fed on humans before, but it never compares to this. It's pure adrenaline, rushing through her veins, pure bliss clouding her vision, making her whole body shudder and tremble.
Helena tugs on her hair, pulling her in further, and she feels lips against her throat, a brief sting of pain as a pair of fangs tear into her skin, but it quickly drowns in her ecstasy.

Again, Ivory hisses, and her legs clamp around Helena's thigh.

“I highly doubt they'll take me back after several centuries, Helena.” Ivory declares over the sound of running, water, as she rinses dried blood off her feeding hand.
“You did say, most Wraith were desperate.” Helena responds, leaning against the doorframe, apparently not really minding her own blood on her chest, or Ivory's still sticking to her chin.

“I did. Many Hives are without Queens, but that doesn't mean that they'll just bow to my reign like that.” Ivory clarifies.
Her and Helena are mostly naked, and partially covered in blood, bite wounds and clawed open skin already having healed. Ivory's hair is damp, and clings to her back; she's had Helena wash the blood out of it, before it could dry.

“I don't think this is the only reason you're putting this off.” Helena's lips are curled into a crooked smile, which elicits an exasperated groan from Ivory. “You just don't want to leave this ship.”
Turning off the faucet, Ivory proceeds to meticulously dry her hand, gently patting the water off the slit.

“It may have something to do with the fact that I have never truly been a Queen.” she admits, speaking slowly, as if she's carefully weighing each word. “I was torn from that life shortly before taking my throne. I'm an inexperienced child, for all they know.”

She flinches briefly, feeling a touch, without having seen Helena move, but relaxes as soon as she finds her standing behind her in the mirror.
Her hands trail off her shoulders, down her arms, and finally settle on her hips.

“You can just admit that you're frightened.” she hums against Ivory's neck, and she feels herself leaning into her embrace.
Helena's hands wander further south.

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

A few weeks prior...

“It's not unlike a Queen to consider an alliance with us, Helena.”
Ivory is leaning against her desk, with her arms crossed in front of her chest. She's dressed in her usual attire – a simple leather bodysuit, and a thin, light blue skirt, partially tattered. This skirt was the only thing she's kept from her brief time among her people, as a Queen in the making.
The torn fabric around her hips somehow makes her look fragile.

Helena is well aware that Ivory is anything but fragile.
She shifts her weight a little, then moves toward her, to sit down by her desk. Responding with a soft purr, Ivory sinks down on Helena's lap, resting her hands on her shoulders.

“You mentioned that. Still,” Helena responds, “I find it a bit odd that she calls every Vampire base ship to herself. Isn't that a little ambitious?”
Ivory tilts her head to the side.
“Of course. She is ambitious, simply by choosing her name, you see. Queen Death is a legend, and I believe she aspires to be just that. It remains to be seen where she's headed with this, but I am eager to see this unfold.” She pauses briefly, to plant a chaste kiss on Helena's forehead. “You should attend.”

“I was going to. Simply to support my kin, in case something goes awfully wrong.” she responds. “Doesn't mean that I trust Queen Death. Or that I'm looking forward to meeting her.”

“Oh, by all means, do not trust her. At least not yet.” Ivory's feeding hand toys with the buttons of the dress shirt Helena's wearing. “This may very well be a … set up, but it doesn't hurt to....”
Her sentence is left unfinished and Helena smirks.
“You seem distracted, love, is anything the matter?” Her tone is playful now, eager to forget her worries, and if Ivory is going to give her an opportunity to, she will take it.

“Mh,” Ivory hums, and her palm comes to rest on Helena's chest.

Helena would never get used to the bizarre interior of a Hive. The organic features and their patterns keep drawing her attention, and she catches herself tracing them with her gaze, as she follows the three Wraith escorting her.
They pass by a cell, full of shivering humans. Most of them seem unresponsive, weeping in fear, or trying to block out their environment, but a few press against the cell doors, staring.
The Wraith pay no heed to them, but Helena bats her eyes.
How odd this must be for those prisoners.

Helena, and by extension, all Vampires, look human, at least when seen from a distance. Up close, their skin has a few cold undertones too many, a few too vivid colors in their eyes to pass entirely, but these prisoners couldn't see that.
To them, Helena was another human, moving freely and unrestrained through a Hive.

But, Helena muses, they probably won't live long enough to come to any conclusions about that.

“We have arrived.” the Wraith leading her announces, stopping by a large, winged door. “You have arrived late. Making Queen Death wait any longer would be very unwise.”
Helena bares her fangs.
“I'm not afraid of her.” she counters, and the Wraith mimics her, snarling a little.
“You should be.” he warns her, and opens the doors.

The room is full of... Vampires.
A good dozen Captains, lined up neatly before a coral throne, all of them turning around to watch Helena stride in, and take her spot. Helena recognizes a good few of them.

Euridice, one of her earliest companions, is one of the first to turn to her. She smiles, pushes a loose strand of her pale, blonde hair behind her ear. Helena returns her smile, and nods at her. Euridice is known for her strategic genius, and unswayable determination. Helena counts on her often, and is hardly ever disappointed. She wears a bronze headpiece, curling elegantly around her skull, metal flowers carved into the sides. Two, crimson-red dyed metal parts are run through her lower lip, at the same height where her fangs would be. Helena shudders pleasantly, imagining these metal parts press against her skin as Euridice sinks her fangs into her. Desirable, that's what she is to her.

Flanking her, close enough to touch her hand, stands a male Captain, silky black hair framing his face and reaching down to his shoulders. There are purple gems set into some of his delicate features, accentuating the flaring indigo hue of his eyes. Helena recognizes him as Caleb, a born philosopher and poet. Caleb is known for his indulgence in vices, keeping a group of human concubines of either sex near him at all times. The Wraith refer to his escorts as 'worshippers', and not once has Helena seen him disagree.

Helena passes by a pair of white-haired Vampires, standing close, as if huddling for warmth. She knows them, too. Desmond and Janine, twins, inseperable by nature. They're still young, Euridice's 'children', and have yet to establish themselves as leaders of their own. However, due to Euridice's influence, they too, are here.

Beside them, flanked by a few Helena does not recognize, stands Saya, the Captain of a rather big fleet, representing several base ships. She's dressed in fine, midnight-blue silks, hardly any protective gear adorns her petite form, but Helena knows, she does not need it.

She brushes past Saya, feeling her lightly inhale as she does, and takes her spot.

“You're late.” the one beside her hisses. Helena recognizes her, Captain Myah, a close ally of hers. She would even consider her a friend. Myah has striking blue eyes, piercing anyone that dares make eye-contact, her skin dotted in dark freckles. She's armed to the teeth, daggers and longblades by her hips, and a rifle holstered on her back. Her face is accessorized with metal, percing through the bridge of her nose, her ears, eyebrows and lower lip. Helena fondly recalls standing beside Myah in combat, a warrior first, a leader second.
“I'm aware, thanks.” she replies, and turns her attention to the front of the room.

And there she was, half lounging in her throne, twirling a strand of her dark hair between her fingers.
Queen Death's entire demeanor raditates carelessness, and unchallenged dominance over this room. Her, leaning back, comfortable, and the high leaders of Vampire-kind, standing straight up, not moving a muscle.
Helena surpresses the urge to hiss at her.

Queen Death lets out a drawn out sigh, and slowly lifts herself up. Her gaze lingers on Helena for a moment, but she eventually adresses the whole room.

“Welcome to my Hive, friends.” she begins, hinting that she's remained silent and ignorant of her guests this entire time. “I am pleased that you could all attend this meeting, as it is the historical beginning of our alliance. Our reign over this galaxy.”
Her voice almost has a mocking tone to it, and she paces in front of the Captains.
“Our people have hardly ever interacted,” Death continues, “and long have we tolerated your intrusions on our feeding grounds,...”
Helena's fists clench into balls. The Wraith have never tolerated her. Often enough had they battled over food, and emerged victorious.
“...but now, with me in charge of my kind, times will change. This galaxy is mine.” Queen Death smiles. “And so are you.”

A shift goes through her audience, heated whispers are exchanged. Myah shoots Helena a glance.

“But be not afraid, my treasured friends.” Death picks back up. “I am merciful. You may join my ranks as my subordinates, in exchange for your lives and your freedom. I will allow you to take part in my glory.”

“You expect us to bow to you?” Helena can't hold it back anymore. “You called us here to negotiate an alliance, and this is what you present us with?”
“Helena!” Myah nudges her, urging her to back down.
“Yes. I present you with this opportunity, as opposed to punishment for your trespassing on Wraith territory.” Death's attention is now entirely on her.

“Our 'trespassing'? Your territories apply to your kin only. You have never negotiated anything with us. You're trespassing on our territory as much as we are on yours.” She takes a step forward, teeth bared again. Death stands tall, not even batting an eye.
“You think on the assumption that we are on the same level.” she counters. “We are gods. I am a god. You are nothing. I could wipe you out without even making it much of an effort. You'd do well to submit.”

A muscle twitches on Helena's jaw, and she has to remind herself of her promise not to snap at Death. Instead, she shoots her a searing glance, and turns around to address the other Captains.

At least, that is her plan.
She falters when she sees the crowd again, and pauses, disarmed for a second.
They've all went to their knees, heads bowed in submission to Queen Death, weapons surrendered in front of them.

Noticing Helena's perplexed expression, Myah raises her head.
“Her fleet is massive, Helena. We have nothing to counter her.”
“But do we not have our pride?” Helena barks. “When did we start bowing to anyone?”

Her body physically cringes when Queen death puts her arm around her shoulders.
“Times are changing. You'd do best to adapt.” she almost sings into her ear.
Helena tenses again, feeling an attempted intrusion on her mind. Her eyes meet Death's, who is smiling innocently at her.
Realization strikes.
She's trying to make Helena kneel.

Hissing sharply, she shakes off the influence, and withdraws herself from Death's touch. Her eyes narrow to slits, as she shifts her gaze between the Queen and her apparent new subjects. Myah counters her glace, mouthing a plea, and Helena's expression hardens.
“Spineless maggots.” she snarls. “Go and rot. All of you. You've forgotten who you are, who we are. We bow to no one. We serve no one. Come find me, when you've regained your dignity.”

Then, she presses the small button on her left sleeve, and feels her body dematerialize.

Helena has her partner by the throat, when Ivory's voice draws her attentions.
“This should be enough, do you not agree?”.

With a groan, she drops the girl, who falls to her knees and begins coughing violently.
“Do you really think that this is a good way to deal with your anger, love?” Ivory asks her, and Helena scoffs.
“I'm just training my crew.” she claims, and helps the girl up.
“You are not training this one. You are bruising her.” Ivory says, a light chuckle in her tone.

“Pain is the best teacher.” Helena argues, and gives her trainee a pat on the back. “Be in better shape tomorrow. A real enemy won't give you any respite.”
Nodding, saluting, and muttering an apology, the girl hurries past Ivory, and out of the room.

“Love,” Ivory's voice is underlined by a soft purr. “You should not blame yourself for this.”
“We are supposed to stick together, Ivory. Untamed, unbowed and free. Forces of nature, that's what we are. We aren't supposed to kneel, not before her, not before anyone.” Helena is talking herself into a rage again, and Ivory notices that.

She reaches out, touching her mind, a much gentler gesture than Death's intrusion. There's no resistance from Helena, instead, she lets her lover's presence soothe her wrath.

“I know, my love.” Ivory speaks. “And I am deeply sorry. I know that this hurts you.”
“It doesn't hurt me, it makes me want to punch things.” Helena's tone contrasts her words, she reaches for Ivory's wrists, and pulls her into an embrace.
“No, love. It hurts you. You already mourn your sisters' loss.”

Helena buries her face in the nape of her neck and growls incoherently.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

It's dark on the bridge, the control's screens being the only sources of light. Empty space is visible through the large window, broken only by a few, glinting stars, light years away.
Helena rests on the Captain's Seat, knees drawn close to her chest, leaning slightly to the side.

Her eyes burn. She's been staring into space for too long.

The silence is only broken by the occasional tapping of a scientist's fingers on keys. Her and Helena are alone on the bridge, 'nighttime' having fallen on the ship, but Helena finds herself unable to sleep, even in Ivory's soothing, cool embrace.

Now that her fury has faded, Helena finds this entire situation a whole lot harder to deal with. Her sisters, her fellow, proud Captains, kneeling before this brat, this half-baked, snotty little girl. She drives her canines through her tongue, and feels her mouth fill with blood.
When she retracts them to swallow, the holes are already closing.

What she is facing now is, according to her fears, the end of her kind. Queen Death will fail, she is certain of it. And she will drag everyone else down with her.
The time, the work, the lifeblood she had invested to build this community, to unite her people and take them to the stars, together with Ivory, everything her heart beats for, taken from her within the span of a few minutes.

She reaches over to the console near her, and her index finger hovers over Myah's subspace contact data. How easily she had submitted to Death, how she had urged Helena to back down...

The scientist in the back of the room flinches when she hears Helena hiss, as she pulls her hand back.

“Helena, Captain?” she asks, her voice not filled with fear, but concern, well aware of Helena's erratic temper, and her tendency to make choices she would regret afterwards when agitated.
“I'm fine.” she assures, not sounding the part at all.

The girl rises from her seat, and moves closer to her, crouching in front of Helena's seat. Their eyes meet, and Helena recognizes her – she is Lorelai, usually confined to the machine room. Helena recalls her mentioning optimizations on the ship's main systems during downtime.

“We have lived through worse, Captain.” she speaks to her, cutting Helena off, as she draws breath to respond. “We are eternal. I know you fear for our kin, but I believe they will come to their senses. They must.”
Her voice sounds soft and gentle, but it fails to soothe Helena's mind. Lorelai does not know what she is talking about. She has not been there, has not seen a dozen Captains kneel before a Wraith.

“Thank you,” Helena replies regardless, too worn out to continue this conversation.
Just as Lorelai rises to her feet again, a flash of light breaks the darkness on the bridge. She spins on her heel to face the window, and Helena straightens her posture as well.

“That...” Lorelai mutters.
A ship, black and sleek, formed like the head of an arrow, laced with faint, red glow, has emerged before them. Its flank is covered in white markings, indicating its allegiance.

“It's Euridice's base ship.” Helena announces, and a jolt of hope lets her perk up. “Go, summon the crew. I will open-...”

She's abruptly cut off, her eyes widening at the reading on her console.
“Go, go! She's charging weapons,-...” Again, she stops mid-sentence, and something akin to a convulsion runs through the ship.
A crimson, gleaming beam is connecting the two base ships, continuous fire searing angrily into Helena's base.

Lorelai has already run off, and Helena turns to flick the alarm on. Her guts feel balled up into a knot, as she stares at the beam extending from Euridice's ship.
Death must've ordered her … death. The ultimate punishment for the ultimate crime – defying her. She clenches her fists, her mind torn between sorrow and rage.

“Helena!”

Ivory has reached the bridge, with the remainder of its crew. She immediately hurries to Helena's side, and places her off hand on her shoulder.
“Shields up.” Helena presses forth, and her hand jerks up, to grab Ivory's, applying enough force to crush a human hand, but Ivory withstands easily.

The image on the window is distorted by a slight shimmer, as the shields build around the ship, red cracks pulsing like veins on the force field, as Euridice's assault begins wearing it down.
Helena's gaze remains locked on the window, a muscle twitches on her clenched jaw.

“Permission to fire, Captain?” asks someone from her left.
“Captain?”
“Orders, Captain!”

She remains silent, feeling a gentle push against her mind, Ivory's investigative glance on her features, trying to read her.

Euridice has been one of the first Vampires to join Helena's forces, back on their home world. Beautiful, she has been, young, but full of a fire Helena has always envied. Often, they had shared that tender touch that now exclusively belongs to Ivory. Helena can still recall the scent of her skin, her gleaming eyes meeting hers...

“Bring us into Hyperspace.” she orders.
Her throat feels tight.
She's giving up. She's fleeing.

Ivory's free arm drapes around her waist.
The idea of killing Euridice, one of her own, feels worse than surrendering her pride.

There it is again. The Fire.
Erinya stirs in her sleep, and the flames work through her veins again.
She dreams of closed spaces, of chains and bonds around her wrists, of being dried up, parched, and yet unable to expire, stuck in this eternal limbo of harm and healing.
Needles and scalpels, digging into her skin, and it heals too fast, getting utensils stuck underneath. And the flames. The heat.

She's always been like this. A Vampire, but never quite ordinary. There's a flaw in her code, a glitch in her system.
Energy, heat, building in her core forever, unrelenting, as she burns up from within. Nothing can ease this pain. Nothing can snuff this flame.

Nothing, except...

Erinya's hands claw into her sheets, her skin flushed from her heat.

Her fever-dreams are filled with different sensations.
The clanking of metal, heated voices, someone's labored breathing.
A flash of white and green, starburst patterns circling around her, as she lies delirious, strapped down on a metal table, supposed to feel cool on her skin, but seething from her heat.

She dreams of a hand pressing down hard on her chest, and the pain lessening, the heat cooling slowly, as her excess energy leaves her, slowly, and regenerating faster than she'd have liked.
The hand is ripped from her, and the pain is back.

Erinya wakes with a pained outcry, muffled hastily when she recalls where she is.
There are no bonds on her limbs, no heated metal pressing against her bare back. Just soft sheets and dim lights.

How long has it been? Years, she muses to herself, or months. Time blurs, when she's burning up.

She knows that he's here, starving in his cell, while she rots here, desperate to rid herself of what he craves. Cursing through gritted teeth, Erinya forces herself to stand up, tears her nightclothes from her body, and drags herself into her bathroom.

Her shaking hands manage to turn on the cold water, and she sits in her shower, the ice cold water steaming as it hits her smoldering skin. Wincing, she curls up.

Just one unsupervised moment... if she could disable the security cameras in his cell...
Desperation and pain draw another whine from her. She can't risk it. Her cover, her persona as Doctor Cecilia Thorne, Earth Physician, recently stationed in Atlantis, was flimsy as it is. She doesn't even bear much resemblance to the real Cecilia Thorne, and arousing just the slightest suspicion could mess up her entire mission.

She raises her head to let the water hit her face directly, washing over her burning body.
“Guide,” she finds herself whispering.
It's not like she hasn't managed to sneak into his confines before, to let him feed. But that had been a Genii facility, not Atlantis. Here, everything is so unbearably well protected, making it harder, even though Erinya can move freely, as opposed to her status as the Genii's prisoner, their lab rat.

Her nails dig into her flesh, leaving deep cuts that fade too fast. There's no respite for her, not now.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

“Hull damages have been successfully repaired. We were lucky. A few more seconds without shields could have caused irreversible damage.” Ivory reports.

She's just entered her and Helena's quarters again, and her lover stands by the large window, facing away from her.
“Good.” she responds, sounding hollow, and Ivory shifts uncomfortably. Past Helena's shoulder, she can see her reflection in the window, her clenched jaw and furrowed brows.

Ivory likes Helena better when she's hissing and snarling, furious, with that dangerous glint in her eyes. Rage is easy to calm, but this silent, dry misery requires an entirely different strategy.
With the gentle step of the apex predator she is, Ivory approaches her, seeing her watch every move through their reflection on the window.

Reaching past her, Ivory takes Helena's hands and forces her to turn toward her.
“My love,” she begins, her voice like honey. “You have been like this for hours.”
Helena's eyes seem to look right through her.

“Do you not trust me, Helena?” Ivory continues, lightly tugging on her arms, pulling her closer.”You are fighting a war within yourself. Won't you let me aid you?”
Ivory feels a rush of warmth wash over her, as Helena leans against her, pulls her hands out of hers, and wraps her arms around her waist.

“I'm sorry.” Helena whispers, resting her forehead against Ivory's.
“Don't be.”
With her feeding slit held tightly closed, Ivory caresses Helena's cheek.
“Talk to me, love. Tell me what hurts you so.”

Helena withdraws from their embrace and sits down on her bed, runs a hand through her hair.
“This is my fault.” she begins, while Ivory follows her, and sits next to her. “Maybe I could have swayed them from Death, but I was angry. I was so angry, Ivory. I could have argued against Death, but I was so wounded in my pride. I could have prevented this, and now, I'm at war with Euridice, of all people.”

“Your pride is inherent to your kind, love.” Ivory tells her, holding Helena's left hand in hers, tracing circles on its back with her thumb. “But I would not say that you carry the blame for this. As harsh as it may sound, I do not think you could have done anything to avoid this.”
Helena shoots her a confused look, and she continues.
“I have expected Queen Death to be incredibly persuasive. She would not have been able to unite this many hives under her banner otherwise. When I urged you to attend her gathering, I was hoping her intentions were less...” She hesitates for a moment. “...malicious. If you want to assign blame, assign it to her, not to yourself.”

“Still, if I had been less... myself, I could have at least-...”

Ivory cuts her off by placing her index finger on her lips.
“No. Listen to me.” she tells her. “Nothing is gained through wondering what could have been. All you achieve is making yourself upset. This is an awful situation to find oneself in, but that is exactly why we must face forward. Do not concern yourself how this happened. Work on righting this wrong instead.”

Helena closes her eyes, and breathes deeply.
“What options do I even have? Death's fleet...” she mutters against Ivory's finger, who then curls it, and moves to trace her jawline.
“We need to expand our influence. Politically, but also martially.” Ivory suggests. “Right now, we're just one ship. We need more than that.”
“How would we go about that? I can't exactly fall back on my old contacts, now can I?”

Ivory freezes, and Helena feels her hand tighten around her own.
“A lot of Hives are queenless,” she eventualy speaks. “which puts them in a very vulnerable position. I believe, if someone were to offer them a proper Queen, they might take the opportunity.”

“You're implying...”

“I am an asset in that sense. If I build influence among the Wraith, we may receive some leverage to negotiate with Queen Death.” Ivory explains, and her eyes flicker up to meet Helena's. “Death's idea to ally with Vampires is not necessarily a new one. We've had this discussion before, in less dire times, my love. I believe, it is time to go through with it.”

Helena doesn't respond, instead, she leans in and presses a kiss on Ivory's neck, directly on her pulse point. Humming softly, Ivory withdraws her hand from Helena's and slips it under her shirt instead, running it up and down her spine.
Feeling the familiar sting of fangs scraping over her skin, Ivory smiles. Enough talking for Helena.

They remain like this for a few moments, and when they pull apart, Ivory has that needy burn in her palm. She flexes her feeding hand, well aware that Helena is watching her.

“When did you last feed?” she inquires, but Ivory's answer hardly matters, the first two buttons on Helena's shirt have already come undone.
“Shortly before you left for Death's Hive.” Ivory responds regardless and reaches out, placing her prickling palm on Helena's chest, pressing against it slightly.
Helena sinks down on her back, her lover following her. With a mischievous smile, Ivory straddles her, pushing her knee between her legs.

“I am certain you would not decline something to sink your fangs into either, would you?” she whispers, and Helena chuckles.
This is going to be a long night.

Erinya spends a full hour in the shower, and when she eventually turns the cold water off, the air hitting her wet skin feels like it fans the flames inside her.
Examining her face in the mirror, she groans. Her skin covered in red splotches, like a sunburn, her eyes feverish and glassy.

She knows, she does not have much time before the fire overwhelms her entirely; she needs to be fed on soon.
It's not a week-day, but she knows that Atlantis would guard Guide in shifts, he's too important of a prisoner to be left alone for just a minute.

Another thing she prefers the Genii protocol for. All she needed to do back then was steal a needle to pick a few locks. Altantis does not even have pickable locks.

She dries herself off, and slips into her underwear, the heat dissuades her from getting fully dressed. Like this, she struts back into her living area, and lets herself fall down on her bed, reaching for the tablet on her nightstand.
A few personal passwords later, she's greeted with a message from her base ship.

'We are considered outcasts from our kin now. Our allies have turned on us in favor of a newly arisen Wraith Queen, who calls herself Death. I will brief you fully when we meet in again in person. You should be safe in Atlantis. Keep me updated.

Helena'

Brief, to the point, and absolutely devastating.
Erinya rubs her temples, sighs deeply, and makes a valiant attempt in thinking clearly.

Atlantis' only way of learning about Wraith politics is locked up in a cell, and cut off from his people. There's no way they'll react in time, should this fleet move against them. Erinya's knowledge of this is hardly of any use, since she would have to blow her cover to reveal this intel.

And them learning of her nature...
She shivers, despite her heat. Never again will she find herself strapped down and cut open, just because someone wants to see what's underneath her skin.

Straightening her posture, she begins typing her response.

'Those are grave news. I cannot warn the ancient city of this, however, so I suggest standing by, in case Death decides to claim it. Additionally, I cannot remain here for much longer. My energy levels are critical, and I may not have much time. No news on Guide. I do not have security clearance to see to him. I request withdrawal from this mission.

Erinya'

She logs out, and has to take a few deep breaths to stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. The pain's getting worse, and it's taken all her willpower not to beg Helena to let her come home.

The sound of her doorbell has her flinching.
In a panic, she slides the tablet under her bed, and scrambles to her feet.

“Who's there?” she manages to call out without her voice breaking.
“Jennifer Keller.” the familiar voice from the outside responds. “I wanted to check on you, Cecilia. You had really high fever when you called in sick last week.”

Erinya recalls her red, heated skin, and swallows hard.
“Yes, I,... It's not sunken much, but I can handle myself.” she explains. “I'm afraid I might need a bit more time to recover – I don't want anyone to catch my illness, after all.”

“No, no!” Dr. Keller replies, and Erinya hears that gentle smile in her voice. “I don't mean to rush you, by all means, do take your time to recover! I was simply worried, and as our superior, I wanted to make sure you were doing alright.”
“I'll be alright.” Erinya assures her.
“I see. But please, if you do need something, don't hesitate to let me know.”
“Will do. Thank you. I'll just sleep it off.”
“Do that.”

She exhales audibly when she hears steps moving away from her door.
Jennifer is a good person, and also the first to grow concerned when Erinya first started showing symptoms of her affliction. Her care is, however, also a threat to her cover. Just one body-scan would completely ruin her.
Erinya likes her regardless. She's kind, and Erinya feels awful for having to lie to her.

A groan escapes her, as a series of convulsions run through her body.
She does not have much time left.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

“Any news, love?”
Ivory has crept up behind Helena, who's sitting up in their bed, blanked tangled around her hips, and reading on her tablet.
“Mh.” Helena huffs, as the Wraith rests her chin on her shoulder. “Erinya responded.”

She feels Ivory's weight shift against her back, while she leans in to read over her shoulder.
“Ah. Bad news, then.” she exclaims, and looks at her, trying to make eye-contact. “Are you going to grant her request?”
Helena breathes deeply, collecting her thoughts.
“Yes, I think. I don't want her suffering any longer.” she eventually decides. “But, extracting her could be difficult. We do have the city's new coordinates, thanks to her, but we can't just... walk in there.”

A light vibration runs through Helena's body, as Ivory chuckles against her.
“I cannot. But you might. With a little effort, a Vampire can pass as human.” she says, “That is the entire premise of Erinya's mission, is it not? Why don't you take this opportunity to make your own alliances, while I work on that Hive I contacted?”

Helena chews on her lower lip.
She's right. Ivory will be leaving in a few hours, and their original plan has entailed the Vampire Base Ship just standing by idly until she's ready to return. Getting Atlantis on board with her plot against Queen Death doesn't seem too far-fetched.

“I'm sure I could pull that off.” Helena admits. “But what about Guide? I don't think Atlantis will surrender their most valued prisoner to a new ally. He's been held there for a while now, if we don't get Erinya to him soon, he will die.”
“It would certainly be a step toward freeing him. Erinya may be able to help, as she's on the inside.” Ivory muses. “It was her idea, after all.”
“We're talking about possibly antagonizing the ones with access to the city of the Ancients, and letting them know who we are.” Helena counters. “It will be a prison-break, Ivory, that much is certain.”
“You had similar concerns when Erinya asked you to be placed there as a spy, love.” Ivory reminds her, circling Helena's belly button with the pads of her fingers while she speaks. “The Lanthians may very well see that they have bigger concerns, once we tell them about Death.”

“How would we justify knowing about her, without them finding out what we are?”
That statement has Ivory laugh.

“This may sound odd, but do hear me out.” Her breath tickles Helena's neck as she withdraws a little. “Atlantis has worked with Guide a number of times, so they aren't too taken aback by the idea of humans allying with Wraith. If you sell yourself well, you may claim that I am to you what Guide is to them.”
Helena turns around to look at her, with an eyebrow raised.
“That will require serious acting skills. I mean – I sleep with you.”

Ivory laughs again and lies down on her back.
“Best get all of that out of your system before we launch this plan.” she suggests and curls her claw at her, in a beckoning gesture.

Erinya weighs the tablet in her hand, reading over Helena's latest response over and over again. It has a few mistypes, uncharacteristic for her, so Erinya deduces that it has been written in a hurry.
Her own plan to infiltrate Atlantis is ambitious, she knows that, but Helena is now taking it up to eleven.
Cussing under her breath, she stuffs the last cool-pack under her jacket, straightens herself, and moves to leave her quarters.

She reaches the Gate-Room in a half-jog, but it still takes her too long, because she keeps having to stop and hold on to a wall, when the world starts spinning before her eyes. Her colored contacts obstructing her vision don't help either.

Dr. Keller is already present, and greets her with a friendly nod. Erinya doesn't miss the worried elevator-look she gives her.
“I'm okay,” she mouths at her, and folds her arms in front of her chest.

A few hours before, she had spoken to Mr. Woolsey, and explained that her and Helena were old friends, from a previous offworld-mission she had taken part in, obviously, lying through her teeth, but she dearly hopes to be out of the city before anyone has the time to try and read up on her claims. But for now, this half-assed lie allows her to present during Helena's first contact.

“Incoming signal,” she hears someone speak, and a video feed opens on one of the larger screens.
Her heart jumps, seeing the familiar bridge of the Base Ship, and Helena's smiling face.
She looks off, makeup hiding the cold, bluish undertones in her skin, and a pair of brown contacts cover the flaring crimson of her eyes.

“Good Morning, Atlantis.” she opens. Erinya notices her speaking a little quieter than usual, avoiding parting her lips enough to show her fangs. “I am Helena, Captain of this ship. Thank you for considering my offer. You are as much in need of allies as I am.”

“It's our pleasure.” That's Teyla, the athosian woman, speaking. Erinya assumes, she's been put in charge of diplomacy with other Pegasus-native peoples. “Your contact in Atlantis, Dr. Thorne, has told us that you may hold valuable information?”

Straight to the point. Erinya is thankful for that. Every second she spends here, holding her head up high, is a strain.

“We do, yes.” Helena lowers her head slightly, a respectful gesture. “My... endeavors have brought to an unlikely ally. I'm aware of strange this may sound for you, but I've been given intel about a massive, new Wraith-alliance gathering on our horizons... by a Wraith.”
A shift goes through the assembled people.

“Not something we're unfamiliar with.” the dark-haired man, Sheppard, says, a hint of mockery in his voice. “What's he told you?”

“She.” Helena corrects him. “A Queen has risen, and she's apparently incredibly charismatic. I don't know much about it, but I do know that she's gathered an impressive fleet around her.”
She visibly hesitates.
“Additionally,” she adds, “She's made a good number of my people her worshippers. Not too long ago, my ship was attacked by one of my own. My Wraith contact may just want her out of the way, but for me, it is a lot more... personal.”

“That is very understandable.” Teyla replies, her tone soft and kind. Obviously, Helena's anger about this particular issue isn't an act at all. Erinya can tell, just by looking at her. “Do you know if this fleet will attempt to harm us? Did you contact reveal this to you?”

Helena shakes her head.
“Not confirmed, no. She says, she assumes as much, but according to her own statements, she's not on the inside of that alliance.” she replies. “However, I'd say it's likely. You hold they keys to your home-planet, don't you? My contact told me that this planet is still of interest to the Wraith.”

“If I may,...” Erinya has raised one hand, politely stepping in. “Mr. Woolsey, I hope this is alright to reveal – we have our own Wraith-contact, do we not? Hasn't he been in custody, useless and starving? Now, that we have to deal with the Wraith again, we might have to request his help again.”

She feels a few glares on her, her heart races. This is a bold move, and she knows it.
“We don't trust him.” Sheppard tells her, his voice dangerously low.
“I know, Colonel, but he might still be useful. I doubt we have the resources to fend off a massive fleet, even with Miss Helena's aid. Or do we?” Erinya catches Helena's warning glance.

“She is right. Wraith are not to be trusted, but they can be exploited.” Helena supports her, and Erinya can't help but admire her for the sincere tone she manages. “If you do have a prisoner, I would... much like to interrogate him myself.”

Teyla draws breath to speak, but Woolsey cuts her off.
“We will discuss this.” he states. “In the meantime, you're invited to stay in our guest quarters, if you may?”
“I thank you for the offer, Mr. Woolsey, but I am comfortable orbiting your planet for the time being.” Helena politely declines. “I do urge you to make your decision quickly. I wish to free my people of the Wraith's grasp as soon as possible.”
“Of course. We'll be in touch.” Teyla manages to say before the connection is terminated from Helena's side.

Erinya watches helplessly, as the big names of Atlantis retreat into the conference room, leaving her behind, trembling from heat and uncertainty.

Days pass by, and Erinya's condition gets worse by the minute. Keller's message that the allied ship has 'volunteered' to treat her sickness in exchange for interrogating Guide on their terms is more than a relief.

She's escorted into the Gate-Room with most of her own, personal things, leaving behind the belongings she'd gathered during her stay in Atlantis, to mask the fact that she is not planning to return. It takes a lot out of her to stand still for Helena's transporter system to latch onto her, but when she finally materializes on the bridge, she nearly cries.

Helena has her back to her, taking a moment to thank Atlantis for their trust, before shutting down the connection, rushing over to prevent Erinya from falling to her knees.

“You look awful.” she states.
“I feel awful.” she responds. “Is he here?”
“He is. The marines they sent along with him are enjoying our hospitality in a guest room. I insisted on having my people 'guard' him.” Helena explains to her. “Come. It's been a long time.”

She lets Erinya steady herself on her arm, and leads her through the corridors.
Anticipation has Erinya's flames burn brighter than before. She's played this game before, herself, overflowing with life, so much that it hurts, facing a starving Wraith.
Specifically Guide.

His escape together with the Lanthian, Sheppard, had given her the opportunity to flee the facility herself, and ever since, they've held contact. His final message, informing her that he was going to place himself in lanthian custody again, was what started her little undercover-maneuver, after all.

Helena stops in front of one of the guest quarters.
“Take your time.” she says, and lets go of Erinya's arm.
Her hand shakes, when she touches the sensor that opens the doors.

The room is darker than the well-lit corridors, and it takes her a moment to adjust to the lack of light.
Guide sits on a padded bench, facing the door, dressed in one of the grey jumpsuits Erinya's seen on crewmen of the Daedalus before.
He looks terrible.

His eyes are more sunken than usual, and shadowed by dark circles. All his features look sharper, his skin dry and paled.
Yet, he sits up straight, hands balled to fists, and resting on his knees.

Erinya almost feels ashamed for her own lack of dignity in this situation, although she's rather positive he doesn't feel much better than her.

“Why do you even keep doing this?” she mutters, approaching him, a rhetorical question, but she swears she sees him smirk briefly.
“Why do you?” he counters weakly, his feeding hand twitches impatiently, and Erinya hurries to take a seat next to him.

“Nevermind that.” she cuts any impending discussion short, and dislodges the zipper on her jacket when she violently yanks it down. Now, so close to relief, her fire threatens to consume her. Her head spins, but she has enough clarity to notice the hungry expression in Guide's eyes, while he lifts his hand, and delicately places it on her chest.

“Hurry,” she complains, seconds before the initial pain of the incision hits her. As soon as their systems are connected, her fire rushes out of her, as if Guide had pulled the plug on a bathtub full of molten rock.
Her vision blurs, and she hears him hiss, feels his off hand on her shoulder as he drains her. The room sways before her, and she feels her forehead hit something soft – his chest?, while her hands lock around his wrist.
The pain lessens, and she feels him preparing to withdraw, a jolt of pain surges through her veins.
“No-... Please. Not yet.” Erinya presses forth, and feels Guide obediently raise the pressure again.

Her knees feel weak.
For a moment, she's back in the Genii facility strapped down, arching into his healing touch, into his hand that takes the fire away.
She whines, but the low,pleasant rumble in Guide's chest keeps her calm. She's fine. She's safe. That place no longer exists.

The firm grip on her shoulder is gone. Instead, she feels his off hand on her back. He must've noticed her brief panic.
Again, the pressure slowly fades, the ebb of her life force stilling, punctuated sharply by the pain of him unlatching his feeding organ from her.

“Better?” he inquires.
“Much better.” Erinya raises her head and takes a more upright position. “You have no idea how awful this was. I knew you were there, but I couldn't... I just couldn't reach you.”
“I appreciate your concern regardless.” Amusement underlines his tone. “You deployed yourself in Atlantis directly after learning of my plans?”

Erinya pulls up her shoulders.
“I know how terrible it is for you to starve.” she tells him, and notices a shift in demeanor. “I'm sorry I couldn't be there earlier.”
“You have nothing to apologize for.” Guide replies, making his voice sound as soft as possible. “I know, you suffered too.”
“I had hoped we'd never have to walk through the fire like this again.” she breathes. “Try to avoid putting yourself in positions like this in the future, if you may.”
“If circumstances allow it.”

She isn't looking at him, but she knows that he's smiling.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Ivory runs her hands over the intricately crafted bodice she's wearing. It's made of finest leather, with detailed stitchwork along its shape, adorned with tiny jewels. Underneath, the garment fans out into a wide, silken skirt, slit on thigh-level.

She's never been the type for a gown.
Even less, for a throne.

Alone in the large room her throne resides in, she taps her finger on the armrests, her newly-applied, blue finger armor causing a much sharper sound than she's used to, from claws alone.
Ivory sighs deeply.
This is what she's born for. Her destiny, her purpose. And yet, it feels so alien and uncomfortable.

The crew has accepted her without much effort on her part. They're hopelessly understaffed, a wild ragtag-group of Wraith nobody else wants. Outcasts, traitors, defectors. Just like her.
Yet, they still insist on addressing her with utter devotion; Ivory assumes, they miss being under a Queen's rule. Submission gives them comfort, while dominance makes her uncomfortable.

The doors to her lonely chamber slide open, and Shine, her new first in command enters, head bowed in respect.
He's a battle-worn Blade, just a little younger than Ivory herself is. A gnarled scar runs across his left cheek, and continues down his neck, vanishing under his collar. It must've been a severe injury, if a Wraith's self healing capabilities had allowed it to scar this badly.
Shine has soft, shoulder-length hair, yet he does not seem to care much for it, simply keeps his long bangs tied together in the back, so they're out of his face.

“My Queen,” he speaks to her, his telepathic voice still makes Ivory squirm, as she's used to verbal communication.
“What is it?” she asks, out loud, and hears him clear his throat, as he adjusts to her preferred ways to conversation.

“We managed to analyze the data you gave us.” he reports, and hands her a tablet.
Nodding, she takes it, and skims over the writing, thankful for forcing herself to read Wraith in her leisure time. Otherwise, her language skills may have declined over the centuries.

Here, on a real Hive, things work a lot different than on Helena's base ship. Ivory's little tactic would never have found approval there.
Just before Helena had left for Death's gathering, Ivory had taken the liberty to plant a small sensor on her clothing, to gather data on the fine ebbs and flows of energy on the Hive, and on Death herself. Getting it on, and retrieving it was hardly a challenge.
Helena trusts her, after all, and their relationship allows Ivory to get very up close and personal to her.

“This is deeply disconcerting.” she announces to Shine, who is still standing by, awaiting further orders. “The readings show massive power movement and fluctuation, in patterns unlike anything I've ever seen.”
Shine nods.
“I agree, my Queen.” he says, his voice coarse. As well as Ivory isn't accustomed to mental speech, he's struggling with the verbal version. “Our clevermen presume that Death is working on a large-scale project of some fashion. Unfortunately, the gathered data isn't sufficient to learn of said project's nature.”

“I can see that.” Ivory agrees. “Death's plans for this galaxy do seem to entail more than brute force by outnumbering her adversaries. I need to know what she plans.”
“I am at your service, my Queen.”Shine sounds a little too eager, when he states that, as if he's still trying to prove himself worthy of her attention.
Ivory doesn't miss that.

She leans forward, her skirts rustling with the motion.
“I want you to infiltrate her.” she instructs. “Offer your assistance, tell her you have information on a certain Vampire who opposed her. String her along, and gather information.”
“Anything my Queen wishes.” Shine's response follows without a second of hesitation.

“However, I must arm you for the task, Shine.” She gets up, seeing him look up to her on the mention of his name. “Death has swayed many of our brothers and sisters with little effort. I do not want you to fall to her charms.”
“I assure you, my Queen, I-...”
“No. We do not know what she is capable of. I must bind you to myself.”

Shine nods slowly, and reaches up to unclasp his heavy leather coat, just enough to allow a hand in. His hands sink to his sides again, and Ivory sees a hint of fear in his carefully crafted neutral masque.
She steps toward him, and places her feeding hand on the strip of naked skin he's exposed for her.

When she latches her feeding organ to his skin, his eyes widen, and he bites down on his lower lip, hard enough to break skin.
Ivory pulls, feels him wither under her touch as she feeds. It's intense. Very.

No amount of playing around with Helena's life could have prepared her for the experience of feeding on another Wraith. While she's accustomed to tasting her lover's essence, this is a step further. She's pulling him out of his physical shell, not his life, his soul. He's suddenly an entity, existing on an entirely different plane of consciousness, together with her, with her hand on his heart.

Ivory didn't notice herself clenching her eyes shut, until she actively forces them open again. Shine hasn't flinched.
His features are sunken and frail, his breath flat, leaving him in short huffs, his face dominated by an expression of raw agony, but he hasn't made an attempt to stop her.
Carefully, Ivory stops the drain, and reverses the flow. Shine's eyes widen for a different reason, as she pumps his life back into him.

This time, she watches.
With every beat of her heart, now synched up to his, the vitality returns to him, filling the deep pits of his withered visage, the grey tint leaving his skin, and his eyes regaining their glow. He has his hand around her wrist, and his grip gets firmer.

“My Queen-...”
That reaches her on a mental level again, and Ivory forces herself to mimic his way of speech.

“There is no one but me for you.” she tells him, and she fills him with her power. “Death has no sway on you. I do. Only I do.”

His lips part, as he draws breath, his gaze glued to hers. Ivory reverses the flow of life for a few seconds, then returns to giving energy back.
“Tell me, Blade. Who has your loyalty?”

“Only you, my Queen.” he whispers, his verbal voice a faint breeze. “Only you.”
“Good.” she praises him, and gently unlatches, her hand easily slipping from his grip.

Shine trembles and nearly loses balance, but manages to steady himself again.
“Do you feel ready to face her?” Ivory inquires, while retreating back to her throne.
“Yes, my Queen.” A whole new sense of devotion radiates from him as he speaks.
“Then go feed, and depart.” she orders. “Do not disappoint me, Shine.”

“I shall not, my Queen.” Shine's voice sounds a little firmer, now that the rush of the moment has passed.
Ivory knows exactly what's going on inside his head right now. The Gift of Life from a Queen is one of the greater honors a Wraith can receive. She's just risen him in status through the touch of her hand.
As he leaves, she notices him not making an effort to hide the feeding wound, or the blood the process has stained him with.
Traces of his Queen's favor. Everything she'll do here will be sacred to the crew.

The doors close behind Shine, and Ivory exhales audibly. She raises her feeding hand, and examines Shine's black blood staining the slit.
It's supposed to be red.
Helena's red blood, on her hand.
Her heart, her life flowing through her veins.

Her fangs on her throat.

A sharp hiss escapes her. She'd absent-mindedly caressed her feeding slit, parted the outer membranes, and run her finger along its insides.
It's sensitive to the touch. A searing pain rushes through her arm, when she digs a claw into the mucus-covered inside of the organ. A dribble of dark blood seeps out, mixes with Shine's blood on her palm, and runs down her arm.

Ivory experimentally trails her finger across the mending wound, and shivers. It hurts. But not necessarily in a bad way. She angles her index-and middle finger in a way that minimizes the risk of stabbing herself again, and pushes the pads of her fingers into the delicate opening.
It's not deep, reaches in about half as far as her palm is thick. Pushing to its limits aches, and Ivory allows herself to moan softly.

Enzyme seeps out of the organ, bright red on her hands. That helps.
She can pretend it's Helena's blood.
Her index finger trails along the outside membrane again, and her sensory pits on her face flare.
She can pretend it's Helena's fingers, if she closes her eyes.

“... She left last week, and that's where we are, fact wise.” Helena closes her briefing. “Ivory promised to let me know, once she makes any significant progress.”

“And she hasn't reported back yet, I presume?” Guide asks. He looks a lot better, now that he's no longer starving, and, more importantly, no longer wearing a grey jumpsuit.
“No. It's still early, I'm sure she's in no distress.” Helena confirms and leans back a little.
Her, Guide, and most of her crew have assembled in a large, conference-type room, near the Captain's Quarters.
Those very, very empty Captain's Quarters.

Silence falls, if only briefly. It's Guide that breaks it.
“Atlantis will expect me back.” he states. “I am your 'Prisoner', officially, if my information is correct?”
“We negotiated your temporary transfer.” Helena says, folding her hands on the desk. “But, if you have any leverage to convince them that you're of more use here...?”
“I might.” he shrugs slightly. “Allthough, they do enjoy keeping me in check. Perhaps a little show of power is in order, to solidify your... relations with them?”

Helena raises her brows, and Erinya pulls a face.
“He means, treat him like dirt and let them see it.” she translates.
“You're not fond of that idea.” Helena assumes.
“No, I am not. We could just leave. They don't have a way of tracking us. We could just stop this charade.” Erinya sounds slightly desperate, both Guide and Helena catch onto that.

“That would be very unwise.” Guide tells her, emphasizing on every word individually. “If what your Captain speaks of is true, we will need Atltantis' favor.”
“There has to be a way to gain their trust in this matter that doesn't involve hurting you.” she stubbornly counters.
“No one said anything about hurting him, Erinya.” Helena chimes in. “I'm positive, letting them see Guide in chains under our supervision will be enough. Remember, they think we're human.”

“I assure you, I do not like the idea of being treated like an animal in your custody myself.” Guide says. “But it is necessary. I trust you enough for this, so I will ask you to trust my judgement, at the very least.”

Erinya straightens herself.
“I want to be present.” she demands.
“That can be arranged.” Helena tells her, smiling empathetically. “I suggest, we play this off through video transmission. That leaves some room for error.”
“Agreed. I do suggest waiting for intel from Ivory.” Guide says, “That way, you can play her intel off as the result of my interrogation.”
“Good point. Then, we're just waiting on her.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

Shine still feels the euphoria prickling in his veins when he steps before Queen Death. It's been days since his new Queen had honored him so, but the pride and and sensation of her Gift still linger. He's reluctantly hiding the half-scarred wound on his chest, well aware that he can't flaunt this mark here, in enemy territory.

Queen Death is beautiful.
She looks like the night itself, like the vast emptiness of space, daunting, but fascinating. Her eyes focus him, as she inspects her new apparent servant, and her lips curl into a courtly smile.
Shine's breath hitches, but he reminds himself of the blissful touch, this wonderful pressure of his Queen's hand on his chest, then forces himself to look Death in the eye.

“I have information.” he speaks, crystal clear, without any sign of hesitation. “On an enemy of yours, my Queen.”
The word nearly pains him to say. This is not his Queen. This is his enemy, and how he'd like to dispose of her right now, slay her where she stands.
But that is not his Queens will. So he endures.

“Do tell. Let us see if you are as useful as you are pretty.” she teases, and crosses her legs.

He senses an intrusion on his mind, and closes his eyes for a moment, conjuring up the memory of his Queen speaking his name.
Only her. Only his Queen.

“Certainly. I carry a detailed report on your foe's defense systems with me. I'm positive you will find it intriguing.” He produces a tablet from the inner pockets of his coat, loaded with faked data on the Vampire's ship, just informed enough to seem genuine.

Death's eyes narrow, not understanding how he manages to resist.
She does not know, Shine muses, that he's his Queen's Chosen. Her Knight.
With a polite smile, he hands her the false data, and bows to her,

“If I may retreat, my Queen?” he requests, feeling like his Queen is still with him. Nothing can harm him here. Not with her blessing.

'My love,

My sources are confirming that Queen Death is working on some sort of device, the nature of which I cannot discern yet. I have detetced massive energy fluctuations on her ship, that worry me deeply. I have sent a spy, and am expecting his report very soon.
Having a man inside Death's inner circle will be of immeasurable value, and I do believe that we have a chance, if we play our cards right..
Regardless, do be on your guard.
I am still establishing a few things on my Hive, but as soon as I finish up, I will return to you. I miss you dearly.

Ivory'

Helena sets her tablet down on her lap and clears her throat.

Guide is with Erinya, in the back area of the bridge, both hunched over a screen depicting the energy readings Ivory sent as an attachment to her message. Both of them look rather frustrated, not quite able to make sense of the readings.

“It's abnormal.” Guide confirms. “A Hive's energy flow looks very different, it's too erratic at certain points, and too controlled on others. I share your companion's concerns.”
“So you have no idea what she could be working on?” Helena asks, and the Wraith slowly shakes his head.
“As I said – It is unlike anything I have ever seen.” he states. “Whatever this is, it is an entirely new technology, and based on Death's characterization so far, it is likely a weapon.”
“She is a war-monger, yes.” Helena rubs her temples. “But, on the plus-side, this gives us something to tell Atlantis. It doesn't seem too far fetched that you'd know about it.”
“True. Additionally, the lack of information may be used as a reason to keep me in custody.” Guide ignores Erinya's pained expression. “To coax more out of me.”

Helena rises from her seat.
“Well, no use putting it off any longer. Ready to get in costume?”
There's no response from Guide, instead he just gets up and turns to leave the bridge. Helena has asked him to change back into his jumpsuit for the purposes of this demonstration, something he really does not seem to be happy about.

Erinya shoots her Captain a glance, and follows Guide.
It doesn't take her long to catch up to him, after all, he's in no hurry whatsoever to get back into that outfit.

“It's just for a few minutes.” she assures him.
“Just yesterday, it was me who sold this idea to you.” Guide responds.
“Well, yesterday, you didn't know you had to wear that rancid suit again, did you?” Erinya can't help but reach for his off hand, as they walk down the hallway.

“I did not. But make no mistake, I would have agreed regardless.” he responds, and casually closes his hand around hers. Even now, with moderate energy levels, Erinya feels like his skin is ice cold, against her own.
“A sacrifice you're willing to make.” she hums.
“Helena will owe me for this.” he clarifies, and turns to enter his guest-quarters.

It's a very simple room, with just bare necessities in it, and hardly any personal items, strictly functional in nature.
Guide does not seem to mind.

His jumpsuit sits neatly folded at the edge of his bed, and he lets out a hoarse sigh, regarding it sceptically.
“Just a few minutes.” Erinya reminds him gently.
“I know. I am merely convincing myself that this is worth my dignity.” he responds, his voice sounding a little sharper as he does.
“It is. If we surrender you back to Atlantis, you will starve again. Here, you have me. Your infinite food source.” Erinya argues, and lightly pats his shoulder. “I'll be beside you during the transmission.”

He regards her with an unreadable expression, before turning around, and ridding himself of his coat. Soon enough, the only piece of his usual garments that remains, are his boots. Him and Erinya have never had any issues with nudity among each other before. After all, their first meeting had taken place in a Genii laboratory room, with Erinya, naked and delirious, strapped to a table.

He picks up the suit and rubs the fabric between his fingers.

“I will burn this, once the transmission is done with.” he lets Erinya know, and hisses at her chuckle, before maneuvering himself into the suit.
Eventually, he straightens his posture, and dusts off his shoulders.
“It's not so bad.” Erinya comments, lying through her teeth. It's really, really bad.
“Grey is not my color.” Guide replies, completely stone-faced. “Let's get this over with, shall we?”

She escorts him back through the corridors, to the bridge, not failing to notice him flexing his hands, as most Wraith do when angered or uncomfortable.

It's only going to get worse, she thinks, and shoots him a careful glance before entering the bridge again.

Helena rummages through a container filled with various implements meant to restrain prisoners, only to look up as the doors open.
“Ah, Guide. Looking good.” she comments, and he snarls at her.
“I will not have any further comments on my appearance, thank you very much.” he insists, and Helena grins, holding up a pair of shackles.

“Of course not. Now, let's accessorize, shall we?” she says, sets the box aside and walks toward him, rattling the chains in her hands.
“I'm getting the impression that you draw a lot more enjoyment from this than you should.” he growls.
“Ah, let me have my fun. I don't get to tie up a grown Wraith that often.” she chirps, and he offers his hands to her.
“I would much prefer not making this a habit.” he says, while Helena shackles him, leaving the chains unlocked.
“Of course not. We're ready!” She gives her crewmen a thumbs up, draws a pistol from her belt, and leads Guide closer to the big window at the front of the ship. “Try struggling a little. Makes it more believeable.”
He grits his teeth, and growls again. Helena isn't sure if it's genuine or part of the act, as the transmission channel opens, just as he does.

The image of the lanthian higher-ups appears on the large window, John Sheppard and his team, as well as Mr. Woolsey. Woolsey greets them with a nod, and Sheppard smirks, acknowledging the weapon pointed at Guide.

“I see, you and Todd get along?” he opens, and Helena raises a brow.
“...Whomst?”

Guide groans.
“He means me.” he clarifies, and tugs against Helena's fake death-grip on his arm.
“What? 'Todd'? Really?” she adresses Guide more than Sheppard.
“I assure you, that was not my idea.” he says, looking genuinely annoyed at this point. “May we proceed? The less time I have to spend with a weapon pointed at my face, the more cooperative I will be.”

“I take it, you have news?” Woolsey interrupts that little banter.
“Oh, we do. Our guest, um... Todd has given us very intriguing information. That's why he's here, I wanted him to tell you personally.” Helena explains cheerfully, willfully ignorant of the death glare Guide shoots her.
“Very intriguing, huh? Well, let's hear it, then.” Sheppard urges.
Guide remains silent, to give Helena an opportunity to show force. She catches onto it, and presses her pistol against his temple.

“Don't be shy, Todd.” she purrs, clearly enjoying this way too much.
He groans.
“Queen Death is working on a weapon, previously unheard of, even among my people.” he explains, doing an excellent job at sounding annoyed. “It is a work in progress, as far as my intel goes, but it s reason for concern.”

Silence falls for a few seconds, then Sheppard steps a little closer to the screen.
“Anything else about that weapon you'd like to share? How it works, for example? Or literally anything useful?” he prods, and Helena takes the cue to tug aggressively on Guide's arm.

“I do not know more than you.” he claims. “As I just said, this type of weapon is entirely new. I cannot give you what I do not have, Sheppard.”
“You're lying. He's lying, isn't he? I think he's lying.” McKay, the scientist chimes in.
“He may be.” Helena shrugs. “I ca interrogate him further, if you'd like me to? I mean, I already got this much out of him.”

“That would be appreciated, Helena.” Woolsey responds. “If you can, I would also ask you to check back with your Wraith contact on this issue.”
“I will, but no promises. She's rather elusive.” Helena states, and gives them a polite nod. “I'll resume my talks with Todd, then.”

She gives her crewmen a sign to end the transmission, sheathes her weapon, and lets go of Guide's arm.
Immediately, he pulls the shackles off his wrists, and unceremoniously drops them on the ground.
“Call me 'Todd' one more time.” he growls, and Helena can't help but grin.

“Whose idea was that, anyway?” she asks him, and he sighs.
“Sheppard's. He has a habit of distributing names to Wraith.” he explains. “I can live with him addressing me this way, but from you?”
Erinya doesn't think she's ever seen him this annoyed before.

“Come, let's get you out of this monstrosity.” she offers, and gestures to the door they entered through.
“Please,” Guide responds, and hurries to her side.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

“and I fall, shattering my knees
you're the only one I see
you're the only one who knows me”
In This Moment – Rib Cage

 

'My love,
At last, my initial work on our new ship is completed. I have instructed my Hive Master to set a course on your current location, so we may meet up. Preparations for me to lead the Hive from afar are in progress.
I shall return to you soon.'

Helena's fingertips trace lightly over the letters on her tablet's screen. She's alone in her quarters, re-reading Ivory's message over and over again, even though it has been several days since it reached her.

The vast emptiness of space on her large window, Helena leans against the cool glass. This is the first time in centuries she's been separated from her lover, and she struggles more than she cares to admit.
It's not even the hunger flaring up in her chest that troubles her most, – that too, of course, as she refuses to feed on anyone but Ivory – it's the long, lonely nights in a bed that's much too large for one person.
Helena's gotten used to the sound of Ivory's slow, regulated breathing, and finds trouble coming to rest without it. Her scent, the faint hint of patchouli from her skin, inherent to her body, and the jasmine-scented traces of soap from her hair.

God, her hair.
Helena missed falling asleep, nuzzled in these silky, soft strands of silver. Wraith have more hair than other humanoids, but theirs are much thinner, causing the odd softness, regardless of overall texture. And Ivory, who takes very good care of herself, takes it up to eleven.

She's just about to fantasize about Ivory's long fingers gently running through her own hair, her claws lightly trailing along her scalp, when a message alert forces her back into reality.

'Guess who?' the letters spell, and a split second later, the greenish glow of a hyperspace window lights Helena's room.
It spits out a Hive, a good ten times bigger than the comparatively tiny Vampire Base Ship, and Helena's screen flickers with another message.

'I am picking up Ivory's subspace transmitter from that Hive, Captain. She's requesting to be beamed on board. May I?” says the message, signed with Lorelai's initials.

'Permission granted.' Helena hurries to type, and jumps off her seat.
She's halfway to the door when it opens, and a very familiar face greets her.

There she stands, Ivory, in all her new, queenly glory. Helena nearly drops her tablet.

Ivory's white locks are pulled back and intricately braided, with subtle, black gems set on the braid. It's draped loosely over her shoulder, contrasting her shimmering, dark leathers.
Her gown is shoulderless, leaving skin bare to accentuate her petite form, and show the finely drawn hive marks on her upper back, those that Helena loves to trace.
The dark shine of her bodice is wonderful in combination with her pale, green skin, and the fine veins showing through its mild translucency.

She's breathtakingly beautiful.

Helena realizes that she's been staring at her for a good minute, Ivory's smile getting wider with each second.
“Seen enough, love?” she asks, the faint, wraith-typical hiss in her voice sending shivers down Helena's spine.
“Not nearly.” she mutters, steps up, and takes her off hand, leading her into the room. The doors slide shut behind her.

Ivory entwines her fingers with hers, and caresses Helena's cheek with the back of her feeding hand. The cold sensation of metal catches her off guard, and she takes her feeding hand too, examining the newly added finger guards.
“We'll have to get rid of those. They aren't attached to your skin, are they?” she asks, and feels Ivory chuckle soundlessly.
“Get your mind out of the gutter, love.” she scolds her. “But yes. They are detachable for special occasions.”

Helena huffs, and runs her fingers over her exposed arms.
“Not quite on board with getting my mind out of the gutter.” she hums, and her hands meet on Ivory's back, toying with the lacing of her bodice. That close, she presses her lips on her pulse point, and sighs, enjoying how it throbs against her.

“Hungry?” Ivory asks, while continuing Helena's aborted fantasy from earlier, running her hands through her hair, as they stand in their embrace.
“For you.” Helena mutters.
“As am I. I have not fed ever since I left.” Ivory lets her know, and Helena smiles against her neck. So, the feeling is mutual after all.

 

Helena pulls back, and unzips her jacket.
“Perhaps we should start with you? I know how bad hunger is for you...” She leaves her sentence open, as if she plans to add something, but never does.
Savoring the moment, Ivory traces her claw from Helena's temple, over her cheek, down her neck, before letting her hand rest on her chest. Her slitted pupils widen gradually, as she lets the hunger wash over her.
When she seals her feeding organ on Helena's skin and begins drawing in her life force, everything feels right again. She raises her chin, and snarls, feeling her lover's heat rush through her veins like liquid fire.

It's raw and primal.
Her entire body attuned to Helena, breathing and heartbeat in synch, and she becomes aware of every single cell in her lover's body, every shift and shudder of her form, as she relishes the pain being fed on brings.
Ivory exhales with a hissing sound, and gently slows the flow of energy, until it dies off completely. She leaves herself attached to Helena, feeling her life course under her palm.

“Your turn, love.” she announces breathlessly, and pulls her into her arms again, discreetly unlatching her hand.
Helena nuzzles the nape of her neck, and her tongue darts out, drawing circles on the thin skin. Taking her time, Helena pulls some skin between her teeth and sucks until it bruises, lightly applying pressure with her dull front teeth.

Ivory hums. It feels insanely good, and she bends her neck slightly, to give Helena better access.
“Fangs, love. I want to feel them.” she urges, and is instantly rewarded with a sharp, stinging pain, right where Helena had rested her lips shortly before.

Her long canines sink effortlessly into Ivory's delicate skin; that is what they're made for. Normally, Helena's bite would be a lot quicker and nearly pain-free, due to how sharp her teeth are, but the breaking of skin is the best part about this for her. So, she very slowly lowers them, causing the incision more through pressure than shaprness.

Immediately upon opening her vein, Ivory's blood spills, filling Helena's mouth so fast, it leaks out on one side.
Greedily, she swallows and sucks more out of her, without worrying much about blood loss. Ivory is freshly fed, she regenerates it quicker than Helena can draw it from her.
It's metallic on her tongue, but as opposed to humans, Wraith always have a tangy quality to their blood.
Warmth spreads through her body, from her throat into her fingertips, and she feels her body thrive from the nourishment.

Ivory moans under her fangs, and she feels the bite of claws on her back. With a gasp, she withdraws, licks her lips and smiles serenely at her lover.
“You made a mess,” Ivory teases, and her thumb trails up her own neck, picking up the dribble of blood running down from the already healing wound.
She presses her bloody thumb on Helena's lips, and her togue darts out, licking it clean.

“What can I say? I'm very eager.” she defends herself, smiling suggestively.
“I would love to see just how eager you are, my love.” Ivory's tone mirrors hers, and she steps away backwards, unclasping her bodice as she walks.
It slips off her body, along with her skirts, and the gown pools around her ankles. Ivory daintly steps out of it, and sits down on the edge of the bed, crossing her legs.

What a power move, Helena thinks to herself, while most definitely staring at her underwear-clad lover.
“If you'll allow me,...” she purrs, creeping closer, and eventually sinking to her knees in front of Ivory. Her hands wander up her shins, to her knees, enticing Ivory to uncross her legs.
Smiling, she releases the tension in her legs, and allows Helena to bend them out of her way. Helena's hands ghost over the insides of her thighs, and Ivory catches herself making a very un-queenly, needy sound.

“Are you in a hurry, dear?” Helena asks, her breath torturously warm against her thigh, as she has just leaned in to kiss it.
“Who knows? I might have an appointment.” Ivory manages to counter, just to shudder as the vibration of Helena's chuckle hits her.
“You better cancel. We might be a while.”

Helena's hands are on her hips, thumbs hooked underneath her panties, but she hesitates.
“May I?” she asks, now without her playful, teasing undertone.
Ivory nods. “Please.”

This is one of the moments, in which Ivory curses Helena's superhuman speed, because she's already bare, not even having seen her move.
The cool air against her sex makes her twinge, and she can't decide if she likes it or not. Helena's fingers, lightly massaging her however, she has a much clearer opinion on.

Wraith are anatomically very similar to humans, but they do have differences, especially when it comes to genitalia. Normally, Ivory's vulva would be shielded and hidden behind two sheets of thick, carapace-like substance, layered over her labia majora, lightly ridged, and almost entirely unfeeling.

Not that this would be an issue now. She's wide open, the sheets having parted in the middle, and retracted into her thighs, only a small strip remaining visible.
Helena's almost disappointed. One of her favorite parts of this is to slowly make Ivory open up for her.
She leans closer, and begins by scattering light kisses on Ivory's pubic bone, smiling at her impatient growl for a moment, before gently parting her folds with her tongue, and going to town on her.

Ivory sharply sucks in breath, and falls down to her back, propping herself up on her elbows, while Helena's tongue flicks against her clit. The sensation ripples through her like lightning, and she feels her toes involuntarily curl.
“Talk to me, dear.” Helena encourages her, briefling making eye contact, before latching her entire mouth onto her, and sucking.

“...can't.” Ivory managed to articulate, and resorts to hissing instead, somewhat taken off guard by her lover taking her clit between her teeth and lightly tugging.
It hurts, just a tiny bit, enough to add to the experience.

Helena chuckles at her reaction, and retreats slightly, now just slowly circling the sensitive nub with her tongue. There's a tangy taste to her, not necessarily unpleasant.
Welcoming the brief respite, Ivory draws breath hard, and shifts her weight to her left arm, raising the right one to rest on her thigh.

“Helena-...” she presses forth. “Can you... here...?”
She's not the most eloquent person when aroused, but her lover understands her. Circling her clit one last time, she pulls back, and looks at her feeding hand.

“Your hand?” she asks, a bit breathless herself. Ivory nods, and complies without question, when Helena reaches underneath her knees, and lifts her legs on the bed as well, turning her body vertical on the sheets.
She stands up, and undresses in a very unspectacular way, simply ridding herself of clothing, but Ivory's eyes are locked on her regardless.
They're blown wide, only a thin, golden ring remaining of her irises.

Helena strides over to the bed again, and pins Ivory down, straddling her thigh and pushing her own knee against her swollen vulva. Purring continuously, Ivory bucks her hips, grinding against her. With the grace of a predator, Helena reaches for her feeding hand, and brings it to her lips.

“Wait-... the armor, I...” Ivory stops her, and pulls her hand back to flick the metal parts off. “I might... claw your face.”
“Would just encourage me.” the Vampire lets her know, punctuating her statement with a hip roll. Ivory makes a tiny “Oh”-sound when she becomes aware of how wet her lover actually is.
“Now give me your hand.” Helena commands, and Ivory obeys quickly.

Her spindly fingers lock around her wrist, and Ivory closes her eyes, feeling the warm press of Helena's lips on her feeding slit. It flares eagerly, pulling apart, and she cups Helena's cheek.
“Hmm...” she hums, as if wondering what to do with her lover, helplessly pinned beneath her.
Her tongue traces the outline of the organ, flaming red liquid seeps from it in anticipation, Enzyme, which Helena confirms by tasting it. It makes her tongue twinge.

She glances past Ivory's thumb to observe her face, while she slowly pushes the tip of her tongue into the slit, acknowledging its internal heat. Tensing her thighs around Helena's leg, Ivory rolls her hips.
Her expression is glorious – eyes half closed, sensory pits flaring, and her lips parted, allowing a peek at her needle-sharp teeth. Sweat glistens on her skin, and strands that have fallen out of her braid stick to her face.

Ivory shifts a bit, bringing a her off hand between their bodies, and pushes two fingers inside Helena, rythmically curling them in a beckoning gesture.

Helena turns to exploring again. She's never really done this before, and only really interacted with Ivory's feeding slit for its intended purpose. Curiosity is a virtue. Her tongue dances within the slit, trailing along the outer corners, and pushing deeper every few seconds.
It's soft in there, soft, wet, and very warm. The membranes tense around the tip of her tongue occasionally, and after some gentle nips with her front teeth, she finds something form in the middle.
Something sharp.

“Fuck,...” Ivory breathes. It must be really intense if it makes her collected, dignified self swear.

The implement feels more like cartilage than carapace to Helena's tongue, when she flicks it against the tip slowly potruding from the feeding slit. She feels the membrane lock around her tongue-tip, and a sting, followed by the familiar sensation of having her life drained, although on a much smaller scale.

The knot in her abdomen comes very close to bursting when Ivory's fingers inside her clench hard.
In fact, just about all of her does.
Her back arches, and she cries out, her feeding hand flexing against Helena's face, claws dragging over her cheek.
She rips it from her grip, and slams it on her chest again, feeding more viciously than before, if only for a moment.

Regardless, it suffices to send her over the edge too.
Curling up, and clinging to Ivory's arm, Helena presses against her, muffling her cry by sinking her fangs into her breast.

It takes them both several minutes to recover and unravel from each other.
Helena collapses on her back next to Ivory, who doesn't make much of an attempt to move just yet.
“Did you seriously feed on my tongue?” is the first thing she verbalizes, and Ivory laughs.
“It was there,” she responds. “You were the one licking my stinger.”
“It was there,” Helena parrots with a grin, her lips still feeling a little numb from the Enzyme.

Again, they laugh, enjoying the sensation of feeling the vibration in the other's body, until Ivory gets serious, flips to the side, and looks Helena in the eye.
“I missed you,” she admits. “I really did. This was a lot harder to endure than I anticipated.”
“Ship's been awfully empty without you.” Helena replies, reaching out to push a loose strand of hair behind Ivory's hair. “I'm glad to have you back by my side.”

Ivory reaches over her, and pulls her onto her side as well.
“Where I belong,” she whispers, before muffling any possible response in a kiss.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

Helena's fingers move skillfully through the fine strands, as she works Ivory's hair back into a braid. It's still a bit wavy from being tied for a long time. After securing her work with a hair tie, she runs her hands over Ivory's exposed shoulders.
She's wearing her bodice, but substituted the skirt for her usual leather pants.

“Oh, my beloved,” Helena breathes against her neck. “how beautiful you are.”
Ivory turns her head to the side, and responds by planting a kiss on her lover's nose.
“You have been swooning over me all night, love.” she scolds. “I cannot leave you alone ever again, if you're all over me like this when I return.”
“That accomplishes all my goals.” Helena purrs, but shifts back to let Ivory stand up. “Regardless... we should go to the bridge. I'm sure, Erinya will be delighted to see you.”

“So, she's home?” Ivory inquires, while slipping into her boots.
“Mhm. Along with Guide. We 'hold him prisoner', for Atlantis.” Helena confirms, and peels herself off the bed as well.
“You successfully conned your way to their trust. I am impressed.” There's a playful glint in Ivory's eye; Helena knows, she didn't doubt her for a second.
“As I do.”

She smiles, hooks her arm with Ivory's, and they leave their quarters together.

Most of the crew gets up and turns toward them, when they reach the bridge, save for Erinya and Guide, who still brood over Ivory's data.
“Ah, good to see you, Ivory.” Erinya greets her. “Or do I address you with 'your Majesty' now?”
“Please do not. I have enough of that on my Hive.” she responds. “I see, you... both have recovered?”

Erinya nods, and Guide finally lifts his eyes from the data.
“We have, together.” he responds, sounding very much like he's not willing to linger on that subject. “I have been analyzing your data ever since I got here. It makes no sense. None of this even remotely suggests use for something tangible.”

“I know.” Ivory walks up behind them as she speaks, so she can read along. “My clevermen came to the same conclusion. It is something, but nobody knows what.”
“Which is precisely why we're headed for the outer areas of Queen Death's territory.” Helena adds, taking her Captain's Seat. “I hope to gather more readings on another Hive of hers.”

Guide looks up.
“She will not tolerate our trespassing.” he informs her sharply, and Helena shrugs.
“She wants us dead already, what more can she do?” she responds. “We'll act carefully, and remain camouflaged.”
“Camouflage?” he inquires, cocking his head to the side. “That's Ancient technology, is it not?”
Erinya lightly places a hand on his wrist.
“It's... inspired by the Ancients, yes, but it works differently.” she explains softly. “We have altered our hull in a way that prevents light from reflecting off it, meaning, we may not be undetectable by sensors, but we are invisible to the naked eye. It'll buy us enough time to collect at least some readings, because this... is hardly helpful.”

The Wraith growls in displeasure.
“They will tear us apart as soon as they detect us.” he says, but makes no effort to remove Erinya's hand from his arm.
“They won't. Our sensor range is longer than theirs, I have confirmed that with Ivory earlier. We may be smaller than a Hive, and less dangerous overall, but our range is a lot longer.” Helena assures him, just as the hyperspace window swallows the ship.

“We need to know what it is they're about to unleash on the Galaxy, Guide.” Ivory softly explains. “We are all well aware of the risk we are taking, but it needs to be done.”
He doesn't respond,just leans back in his seat, and lets out another disapproving noise. With a frown, Erinya studies him, unsure of how to convince him that her people's plan isn't a death sentence. After all, she hates seeing him upset, for whatever reason.

“How long will it take us to get there?” she eventually asks, and Helena looks over her shoulder.
“A few hours, presumably.” the Captain replies, and Erinya nudges Guide, nodding toward the door.
He gives her a long glare, but eventually gets up and follows her.

The door slides closed behind them, and her stops in his tracks, crossing his arms, looking at her expectantly.
Taking a moment to draw a deep breath.
“I wasn't going to make you admit this in front of the rest, but I know that you're afraid.” she drops the bomb on him, and his eyes narrow briefly.
“Whether or not I fear Queen Death is irrelevant. This is a foolish plan.” Neither denying nor admitting, he shifts his weight from one side to the other.

“Making a complete fool of Atlantis while in weapons range was also foolish. Or, I don't know, offering yourself as a prisoner in the first place, but I didn't see you complaining about that.” Erinya's bold move draws a snarl from him.
“That is something entirely different. I knew they would not have dared kill me.” he counters, visibly agitated. His voice has gained sharpness, and his underlying hiss is more prominent.
“But you also knew they wouldn't sacrifice another human to feed you, nor did you know that we were going to get you out, did you?” Erinya stands firm against his defense. “What I mean to say is, you endorsed other high risk-high reward plots. The only thing that's different now, is Queen Death.”

For a second, Erinya is certain that Guide is going to whip around, and leave her standing there without another comment, but instead, he just hisses again, before allowing his expression to soften.

“Would you understand? The closest any of you have ever come to a true Queen is Ivory.” he finally speaks. “And she is hardly comparable to Death. Even Helena, who has met her in person, does not understand.”
“What doesn't she understand?”
“Just how dangerous she really is. And how far she is willing to go to achieve her goals. You are all underestimating her. Severely so.”

Erinya sighs, reaches forward, and takes his feeding hand. Her thumb presses against the slit, and she steps closer, looking up to his face, establishing eye-contact.
“And you underestimate us, Guide.” she speaks, her tone firm and unshakable. “I understand that, I do. You were born to submit to someone like Death, and we all look human to you. Believe me, I understand your doubts, but I can assure you that we're up for the task.”

“Then leave me to my doubts.” he demands. “I cannot rid myself of them, and if you truly understand me, then you will accept this.”
“I do. I just don't like seeing you like this.” She releases his hand, and he raises it to rest it on her chest. Her heat, the endless life in her body beckons to him, and he closes his eyes, recalling her standing in his cell, lock pick in hand, radiating raw power to his parched form.

“I know.” he finally says, lingering in this position for a few heartbeats, before backing away, and returning to the bridge.

The remainder of the journey is spent in silence, both of them re-reading Ivory's data over and over again, without coming to any further conclusions. In a way, Erinya is happy about that, as it justifies this endeavor to Guide, who grows increasingly frustrated with the lack of results from his work. Multiple times, he gets up to pace in the hallway, and she lets him go alone.

“We have arrived. Exiting hyperspace, and engaging stealth protocol.” Ivory reports, having taken her seat on the master console, near Helena.
“Any signs of Death's fleet?” she asks, and Ivory nods briefly.
“Ahead, but faint. I presume, it is only one Hive.” she says, and Erinya feels Guide tense beside her. His hands clench into fists over the console's keys, but his face remains neutral.

“Excellent. Let us approach, then. Carefully.”

Minutes pass in tense silence, and Erinya sees a stream of new data appear on her screen. She skims it hurriedly, but it doesn't seem to make much more sense than the previous set.

“Stop. I'm detecting something odd.” Guide snaps, his voice almost making her flinch.
“New readings?” Helena inquires, and gestures at the young vampire operating the ship's engines to stop.
“Yes, but that isn't what I mean.” Guide's eyes flicker to Ivory, who has stiffened in her seat, brows furrowed.
Helena notices it too, and gets up, stepping toward Erinya and Guide.
“Talk to me. What are you sensing?”
He flexes his feeding hand, and shakes his head.
“I can't quite... discern it.” He's so tense, he physically trembles. “We need to turn back right now.”

“Captain? I don't... I don't feel so good.” a flimsy, little voice chimes in, and Helena barely has time to turn around before it hits her too.
And it hits hard, like a tidal wave.
Her vision goes red, a flaring, searing pain spreads from her chest all over her body. She cries out, and feels her knees hitting the ground, curling up into fetal position.
The pain throbs and pulses, convulsions running through her body as her veins shrivel and dry up.

Erinya shoots to her feet, while her Captain goes down before her, and Guide cringes, and falls off his seat beside her. Looking up, the entire bridge is in disarray like this, Vampires jamming their fangs into their own wrists, some passed out on the ground, others curled up like Helena, shivering, and drawing rattling breaths.
Ivory is on her knees, folded up and breathing heavily.

Panicked, she looks around herself, realizing that she's alone.
There's a painful twinge in back back of her throat, but whatever effect this is, her healing ability staves it off.
Her glance shifts down to Guide, who stares at her like she's the first rainfall in a desert, his feeding hand clamped shut.

Erinya takes a deep breath, and makes her way over to the navigator's console, stepping over him. He's stopped moving, she realizes with terror, but forces herself to focus in the task at hand. Pressing the necessary buttons, she sets a course to their previous location, where they met up with Ivory's Hive, and enters hyperspace.

As the blue glow fills the room, people begin to rouse.
Ivory is the first to get to her feet again, but Erinya is already back at Guide's side. He looks better somehow, releasing the tension in his body, and fighting himself to his feet again. She reaches out, and helps him up, then resorts to just staring at him with great concern.

“Are you... alright?” she inquires, terror still shaking her voice.
“I am now.” he croaks, and sinks back into his seat, surveying the situation.

Helena is up, and kneels beside the young navigator, fingers pressed on a pulse point.
“We've got a casualty.” she announces, her voice akin to an open grave.
“He died?” Guide asks.
“Yes, Guide. He died.” Helena responds, still with a very grim tone, and gets up. “What was that?”

“I do not know.” Guide responds. “I only know what you do.”
“What happened to you all? You all just... knelt over for no reason.” Erinya dares to ask.
“Not without reason.” Guide explains. “I was starving.”
“What? But... you fed just this morning!”

He straightens his posture, and seeks eye contact with Helena.
“You felt it too.” he assumes, and she nods.
“I believe it was the same for all of us.” her glance anxiously shifts to Ivory, who still reels from the assault. “Hunger. Sudden and excruciating. It killed one of my crew members.”

Finally, Ivory joins the small group.
“I initially thought it to be an illusion when I first sensed it.” she says, her voice a hoarse whisper. “But this child's demise proves me wrong. Guide, you and I sensed it first.”
“It's telepathy of some form, but stronger than anything I have ever come in contact with.” he confirms. “Helena. I believe we have found Death's fabled weapon.”

The Captain glares over to the cleanup crew collecting the body.
“He starved to death, in a matter of minutes. We may have suffered the same fate, had we not fed recently.” she breathes. “Ivory, set up a group to search the ship for more bodies. Preserve them, for examination. We need a way to counter this, because this prevents us from even getting close to our adversary.”

While Ivory begins rounding up Vampires for her search party, Erinya feels Guide's cool hand close around hers. He gently leads her outside, and into his quarters, passing the hallway without saying a word.
Once the door closes, he pins her to the wall, and slams his hand on her chest.

It hardly even hurts at this point.
Erinya inhales sharply, and pulls him closer by his hair as he feeds. Willingly obliging, Guide rests his head against the wall next to her face, pressing against her.
“You were unaffected.” he whispers.
“Had I been affected, we would have died.” she responds, placing her hand over his, and holding it in place.
“Is my fear justified to you now?” he rasps, and she nods, tears welling up in her eyes.
“It has been all this time.” Her hand wanders up his back and tangles in his hair.

It takes several minutes for him to release her, but when he does, he looks a lot calmer.
“Did it have lasting effects?” she asks, as he backs away from her, wiping the blood off his palm.
“Not physically.” is his brief response, and Erinya swallows hard.

Starvation is a touchy subject with him, and she genuinely believes him to suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress, due to his years of suffering in Genii custody.
Reaching for his hand, she gets closer again.
“You don't need to hold back, if you don't want to. You know, it doesn't harm me.” she implores him.
“No. I will be fine.” he refuses, and withdraws his hand from her grip. “You are not my personal food supply, and I don't want to treat you like it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

Shine feels himself involuntarily breathe sharply in relief when the doors of his temporary quarters finally close behind him. He's spent most of his day with Death's clevermen, 'helping' them out, while discreetly extracting data from their consoles onto his tablet.

A few days ago, he was given a bracelet, and told to wear it on his right wrist at all times. Shortly afterwards, the energy flow he observes shifted dramatically.

He takes a few steps into the room and fidgets aimlessly with the bracelet. It's made of metal, only the core of it, sitting directly on his enzyme vein, has the organic structure of Wraith technology, and he hasn't managed to figure out how it works. At least not without having to take it off, which he does not dare.

With a sigh, he lets himself sink down on his bed, flips on his stomach, and places his tablet in front of him, powers it up, and begins typing.

“My Queen,
I have discovered an array of interesting things during my stay on Death's Hive. She is working with the Vampires you mentioned, and it seems, they are combining their efforts on a technological level as well. My understanding of it is lackluster, as I am a Blade, not a Cleverman, but from what I gather, it is a telepathic weapon to assault our most basic, primal instinct – the need to feed.
The Vampires-...”

The sound of his doorbell has him flinching. He hides the unfinished message under his blanket, and gets up to answer the door.
It opens with a hiss, and Shine takes a step backward.

Before him stands a Vampire, dark haired, dark skinned, and littered with metal augmentations all over her face. Her uncomfortably blue eyes flicker up to him, and she wordlessly brushes past him, into his room, and closes the doors behind her.

“I've been watching you.” she states, and he notices a similar implement to his bracelet around her neck. “I know what you're up to.”
“I'm afraid I do not know what you're talking about.” he attempts to deflect, but she shakes her head.
“You're an affiliate of Helena's, aren't you?” she accuses, and takes a step towards him. He backs off in response.

His feeding hand flexes, and his eyes dart around the room, for something to use as a weapon.
“Whom?” he asks, playing dumb, while being backed further into the wall by the Vampire.
“Death suspects you. Because you resist her. Says, you smell like...” she pauses, halting her approach. “...another Queen.”

Shine feels his racing pulse in his throat.
“So what if I do? Are you going to kill me right here and now? Or will you tell the Queen?” he snarls at her, his off hand having managed to lock around his stunner's grip on his belt. He's certain he can take her in combat, if he gets one stun off at her.

“No.” she responds, and her hand jerks forward, like an attacking snake, locking around his wrist and preventing him from drawing his weapon.
Their eyes lock, and he feels his slit pupils dilate.

“Tell me why you are here.” she demands and he bares his teeth at her, which she immediately mirrors. “I am not your enemy.” she adds.
His half-snarl fades in surprise and he stares, taken completely off guard.
“What?” he flatly asks, and she lowers her voice.
“I am Captain Myah, and I was once a powerful, proud warrior of my race. Death took that pride from me. I am her slave now, and it tears me apart.” she explains herself. “I was in charge of the early experiments on the Unyielding Thirst. She made me use my own crew as subjects. I saw them starve before my eyes. But.”

Taking another step closer, close enough for her nose to touch his, she lets go of his off hand.

“I know that there is at least one ship that still resists. And I know that you're a mole. So tell me what you know, and we can work together.”

Shine's breath hitches, and he backs off uncomfortably.
“The Unyielding Thirst?” he asks, equally hushed as her.
“Yes. That's why we wear these things.” She flicks her finger against her necklace. “They make us immune to it. Everyone who does not wear it, and comes in range, if consumed by an all-encompassing, ravenous hunger, their minds tricked into believing it to be the real thing. Until their organs start shutting down, one by one.”

His off hand snaps around the bracelet, and his eyes go wide. He feels a light prickle in his palm, akin to the tingling sensation someone might get from listening to someone talk about a crawling critter.

“She made you do this to your own people.” he breathes.
“Yes. And I want to leave her in a pool of her own blood for it, but for now, we're both trapped in her net.” Myah hisses. “Do you have a way of contacting your superiors?”
Shine inhales until his lungs ache, then lets the air out with a snarl.

“If you are playing me, I will personally rip this necklace off your body and watch you die.” he warns her, then moves to his bed, and uncovers his tablet. “I was in the process of reporting to my Queen. My actual Queen.”
“Ivory, I presume?” Myah asks. “She didn't bear that title when I last saw her.”
“She took my Hive under her care recently.” Shine feels his chest swell with pride at that.

Myah snags the tablet from him, and begins typing.

'My Queen,
I have discovered an array of interesting things during my stay on Death's Hive. She is working with the Vampires you mentioned, and it seems, they are combining their efforts on a technological level as well. My understanding of it is lackluster, as I am a Blade, not a Cleverman, but from what I gather, it is a telepathic weapon to assault our most basic, primal instinct – the need to feed.
The Vampires

Ivory, this is Captain Myah. Your spy and I are currently both confined to Death's Hive. Do not approach. Her new weapon will force you to your knees. In short – it will make you starve to death. We call it the Unyielding Thirst. I will do what I can to have your spy deployed on a planet with a Stargate, so that he may return to you. I will take his place.
Send Helena my regards, and my most sincere apology.'

Ivory finishes reading out the message, and sets her tablet down. Her, Helena, her Hive Master, Silverlight, Erinya and Guide are gathered in the small conference chamber, prompted by Shine's transmission.

“This is a good thing.” Erinya says. “We know what it is that assaulted us, and we know that at least one Vampire is defying Death.”
“We also know that Shine is alive and well.” Silverlight adds, a hint of sharpness in his tone and the glance he shoots her.
“I did not doubt his ability to keep himself alive in this situation.” Ivory steps in to snuff this budding conflict before it has time to become a problem.

“He did transmit a set of new data, too.” Guide says. “With the information that this is a telepathic bio-weapon, we may be able to decrypt it into a format that makes sense for us.”
“Shine writes that this weapon was made in collaboration with Vampires. It's likely that we never understood our data, because we did not take that into account. What we had so far was written in Wraith, but the base code seems to be Vampiric.” Ivory adds, and hands the tablet to Silverlight.

“I can work with this, but not alone. I need the support of this ship's clevermen.” he states, and Erinya nods hurriedly, seeing that Helena seems to be entirely somewhere else with her thoughts.
“That's no issue. You can stay here, and I'll help you with the code. Guide also has experience with Vampire technology, and in combination with the competence the both of you have with your own, we should be able to find a cure... or some way to make us immune.”

“You were immune.” Silverlight says, and she nods.
“That's because I never feed. I am constantly starving, but my high energy levels cancel the effects out. I did feel something, but my body negated it.” she explains. “Which is good. Because me bringing us out of its range saved lives.”

“That is nothing we can use to immunize ourselves.” Guide chimes in, before Silverlight can say anything else on the matter. “Erinya's mutated genome is unique to her, and comes with a plethora of unpleasant side-effects.”

“Consider that this brief brush with this weapon dealt us a heavy blow.” Helena finally comes alive. “According to my damage report, we lost seventy-three lives in barely a minute of exposure. My ship is under crewed, and my people are divided by Death's threat. What I want to focus on for now, is Myah. She volunteered to take Shine's spot as our spy, but I do not think we can allow any of them to stay for much longer.”
“What are you suggesting?” Guide asks, and Helena gets up from her seat.
“I suggest we have them gather as much data as they can, and then telling them to come home. Myah has influence, with her, we may be able to draw together what scattered remains of my kind aren't under Death's command yet.” she responds, her voice sounding firm and proud. “Furthermore, we should utilize our new, lanthean friends, and give them the information we have. Love them or hate them, but we need them and their city.”

“You still wish to cooperate with humans?” Silverlight hisses. “Did you not get from them what you needed?”
“We got Guide and Erinya safely home, yes. But Atlantis is a major political player in this Galaxy.” Helena counters. “Their assistance might be vital to our survival.”
“You cannot ask me to work with humans!” he snarls, but immediately backs down, when Ivory places her off hand on his shoulder.

“I can,” she simply states, and it's enough to shut him up. Exchanging a glance with Helena, she continues. “Maybe it's time to introduce them to your Wraith contact, Helena.”

“They do not treat their own contacts particularly well. Don't expect them to welcome you, or grant you basic trust.” Guide warns her. “Especially not you. They keep me in shackles already, they will not be any more at ease in the presence of a Queen.”
“Of course not. I, for one thing, am not planning to put myself completely at their mercy. I will remain on my Hive.” No one misses the obvious jab, and Ivory rises from her seat. “Silverlight, you will stay here, and work on the Unyielding Thirst, with Guide and Erinya. I will take Helena with me to my Hive, and travel to Atlantis.”

“Yes, my Queen.” Silverlight barks.

“Wait... just a moment.” Erinya stops her. “You intend to... fly there. With your Hive? They'll shoot you out of the sky before you can even open communications.”
“I know. But Helena can announce me, can she not? They might not be happy about my entrance, but I do not do this to make them happy.” Ivory responds, and walks past the table, taking Helena by the hand.

Queen and Queen Consort, Erinya catches herself thinking, and nods.
“You've got the command in my absence.” Helena tells her, while walking out. “Remain here, if you can.”

As soon as the door closes behind them, and uncomfortable silence hits the room. Erinya has the impression that Guide and Silverlight are arguing telepathically, simply because of their intense stare down.
A few seemingly endless seconds later, Silverlight averts his gaze with a scoff, and Erinya takes this as her cue to speak.

“Well. I believe we should get to work?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

The three have been working for five hours straight.
Erinya's head hurts, but not necessarily because of the data she's brooding over, and also not because of Guide silently correcting her calculations whenever she makes a mistake, no.

It's the more obvious issue that gives her headaches.
“If you continue reverse-engineering the weapon, you will never develop a way to immunize.” Silverlight explains monotonously. “I do not understand why you even bother to translate the data. It works perfectly fine in Wraith.”

“I'm translating it to access the vampiric parts of it, Silverlight.” Erinya hisses at him, through clenched teeth. “The core is vampiric, I thought we established that much already.”

“How are you going to reach that layer, if you keep wasting time translating the surrounding data?” he counters.
“I need to do this, because I want to reverse the effect.” Erinya tells him, for the third time now.
“Your reversal will not work. You cannot evoke the opposite of starvation by addressing the instinctual parts of our brains.” Silverlight says, and she sighs.

“Fine. I'll bite. Do you have a different idea to counter it, then?” she asks him, and actually looks up to make eye contact.
Silverlight crosses his arms, moments of complete silence pass, and eventually, he just flatly says “No.”

With a groan, Erinya throws her hands up, jumps out of her seat, and begins walking out the room.
“No. That's it. I'm done. I'm out. Do it yourself.”
Her steps thunder down the corridor, and the two Wraith sit in silence for a few seconds. Silverlight looks at Guide, obviously expecting him to take his side, but the desired response never comes.

Instead, Guide just turns back to his work without saying a word. He can feel Silverlight's gaze linger for a while, until he also turns back to the task at hand.
Internally, Guide snickers at Erinya's furious exit. She'll come back, he knows her that well. For the moment, he comforts himself with the mental image of her pacing angrily in her quarters, swearing profusely.

“They didn't take kindly to my announcement, but I do think they'll let us in. Or at least, near the city without firing.” Helena explains. “Seemed very concerned for my safety, too.”

She's sitting on Ivory's throne, with her on her lap, so she feels her laughing before she hears it.
“Oh, they should be. I might eat you.” she purrs and leans in to nibble at Helena's earlobe. She grins and nudges her cheek with her nose.

“Keep in mind, Atlantis still thinks I'm human.” she reminds her, and Ivory leans back again.
“They haven't seen you in person yet, have they?” she inquires.
“Mh, no. Only video feeds, in heavy makeup and colored contacts.” Helena says. “I wonder if my disguise will hold.”

Ivory shifts on her lap and hums.
“Perhaps you should stay on the ship, then. If they discover that you tricked them while you are on their grounds, they might incarcerate you.” she suggests, her voice soft and gentle, but Helena can hear the worry regardless.

“No cell can hold me.” she assures her.

Before Ivory can say anything in response, the doors to her throne room slide open, and a younger Blade, the one she put in charge of not slamming the skip into the next planet, enters.
He clears his throat, and bows, giving them a careful glance.

“Am I interrupting something?” he asks, respectful in every way, and Ivory slides off Helena's lap.
“No, be at ease.” she consoles him. “What is it?”
“We are in communications range of the Ancient City, my Queen. I took the liberty to send them your consorts identification code already, but they request to speak to you... both.” He sounds nervous, as nervous as a deep, raspy Wraith voice can sound.

Helena bounces off the throne, and leisurely catches up to Ivory.
“Well, time to get into character, I suppose.” she announces. “Remember – we are not dating, I don't trust you, and I'm also a weak, frail little human. Try to look at me like I'm delicious.”
“You are delicious, my love.” Ivory teases, and strides past the young Blade, who is seemingly disturbed by their demeanor.

The three make their way to the bridge, the Blade keeping a respectful distance behind them, and eventually line up in front of the Hive's main screen.
Atlantis' usual suspects are already on screen, looking somewhat impatient.

“Helena, good to see you are well.” says Teyla, being the first to speak up.
“Thank you.” Helena replies, smiling gently at her, and taking a demonstrative step away from Ivory. “This is my contact, as you may have guessed.” She makes an introductory gesture at her.

“Does she have a name?” Sheppard wants to know, and Ivory gives him a toothy smile.
“I do. But that does not mean that I will give it to you. At least not yet.”

She's just baiting him, Helena thinks to herself. She wants a damn nickname.
Sheppard delivers.
“Right – Britney, then.” he elects, and takes a step toward his screen. “Helena sounded pretty darn insistent on you personally meeting us. Why is that?”
Ivory gives him a half-shrug.
“I know things.” she replies. “Helena has been relying on my cooperation for a while now. She believes, I could develop a mutually beneficial relationship with your city as well.”
“Well, I don't know if she mentioned that particular thing, but we don't really like you guys.” Sheppard lets her know. “Especially your Queens. Had some bad experiences, you know.”

Ivory raises her feeding hand, and shows its palm to the camera.
“I can imagine. Of course, I will understand if you do not want me to set foot in your city. Helena will fill in for me.” she offers.
“Oh no no no, we want you down here. Might dissuade your Hive from blasting us into oblivion, y'know.” Sheppard denies, actually wagging his finger at her. Helena suppresses a chuckle.

“Right.” Ivory shrugs again. “But, and I will only say this once: I will not let you shackle me, lock me up, or push me around like an animal. You will treat me as your equal, if you expect me to do the same for you.”
“You ain't our equal.” the large man behind Teyla scoffs, causing her to look over her shoulder, up to him.
“Ah. You are the former runner, yes?” Ivory addresses him, causing him to glare at her angrily. “I understand your disdain. However, I will not tolerate it. Keep yourself together, and I will stop myself from sucking the life out of you.”
“You're welcome to try.” he growls.
“Ronon, this isn't productive.” Teyla chimes in. “We won't hurt you, if you don't hurt us. That's as much as we can promise.”

“I can accept that. Helena and I will arrive in a shuttle shortly.” Ivory nods to her side, to signal her Blades to cut the connection.

“Britney.” is Helena's first comment.
“It is a ritual for him. I did not believe him to be ready for the knowledge that we do have names. Like... people.” Ivory smirks. “If giving me a funny name makes him more comfortable with me, I will comply.”

Including preparation time, it takes them about an hour to make their way down to the city. When they step out of their shuttle, they are immediately greeted with several gun muzzles. Ivory pays them no heed, and casually walks past the marines pointing their weapons at her.
Helena follows, feeling very anxious for her lover, now that things are getting serious.

The soldiers escort them wordlessly to the Gate room, where Sheppard, his team, and Woolsey await them.
Ivory allows herself to greet them with a genuinely friendly smile.
“Thank you for having me here.” she opens, taking most of them by surprise. Sheppard, Teyla, also McKay, who had all interacted with true Queens before. Ronon, somewhat. He mostly just stands there grinding his teeth, and playing with his blaster's handle.

Helena just gives them a tiny wave, and enters the conference room behind Ivory.

Once they're all seated, Sheppard opens, before Woolsey can.
“Now. You said you had information.” he asks, in a very matter-of-fact way. Ivory gives him a long look before responding.
“I do. I managed to place a spy into Queen Death's Hive, and he has been sending me occasional reports.” she explains. “And we have discovered a rather... concerning development.”
“Go on?” Sheppard leans forward, ignoring the glances his team shoots him.

“It's a telepathic weapon.” Ivory continues. “It assaults a Wraith's mind, and drives them mad, simulating starvation to a degree that makes our bodies actually experience symptoms thereof. I myself have fallen prey to this before, so I do know how powerful it is.”
“Oh, great. Lots of hungry Wraith.” McKay mumbles. “As if we haven't dealt with that enough.”

“It gets worse.” Ivory adds. “I have put some of my best scientists on the task of figuring this weapon out, in order to create a way to immunize us. They have also kept me up to date on their progress, and we have reason to assume that it targets the human parts of our genome. Which in return means, that...”

“...it can harm us directly, too.” Teyla finishes her sentence.

“Exactly.” Ivory confirms. “In addition to that, Death wishes to rule that Galaxy, and she has been rather ruthless with her own kin, who have refused to bow to her. I speak from experience in this regard. Atlantis will be a target sooner or later.”

“Why'd you care? Don't you want us gone?” Ronon asks her, and she makes brief eye contact.
“I care because she will not attempt to destroy this city. She will attempt to conquer it. And that will make her a lot more powerful than I am equipped to deal with.” she calmly explains. “Your survival is necessary for mine.”

Helena has been listening to her quietly this entire time, mostly because speaking will make it harder for her to hide her fangs, so she's the first to notice the sudden shift in Ivory's demeanor.
She presses her finger against the small button in her ear, and her pupils dilate.

“What? What is it?” Sheppard inquires hurriedly, and Ivory shoots to her feet.

“My Hive is detecting three additional ones.” she lets them know. “None of which are of my fleet, and-...”

She cuts off, before Helena feels it, and sinks to her knees, both hands clamped shut tightly. Helena's eyes widen, and she does her best to brace herself in the brief grace period before the effect takes her mind as well.
Teyla goes wide-eyed as well, her Wraith DNA likely making her more susceptible to the effect, and then, all hell breaks loose.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

Helena's entire vision has a red tint. The human closest to her, Teyla, has collapsed on the ground, as a human's version of starvation is a lot calmer than a Vampire's.
Her eyes are locked on the vein she sees throbbing on Teyla's neck, the deafeningly loud sound of heartbeats around her, these wet throbs of blood being pushed through arteries, and she holds back a low growl building in her throat.

It hurts.
It hurts so much.

She clamps her fingers on the edge of the table, trying to pull herself up, but the world sways before her eyes; she feels her body weakening by the second.
With a strangled hiss, she forces herself to look over to Ivory, and her eyes go wide.

She's standing straight up, hands clenched shut, her entire body so tense, she can see muscles twitching. An expression of furious determination dominates her features as she forces herself close to the scientist, McKay, who is weeping by her feet.
Her off hand curls into a claw, and she reaches down to pull him up by his collar. Helena tries to speak, fear flaring up in the pit of her stomach. If she feeds on a Lanthean...
The words won't leave her clenched throat.

She vaguely hears Ivory speak, her sharp, hoarse voice, shaky with hunger, forcefully controlled.
“This city has shields. You need them up right now.” she informs McKay, who still whimpers, as he hangs lifelessly in her grip.
“Every second you spend like this is a test to my self-control.” she adds, growling at him for good measure. “Every fiber of my being screams to be fed. Activate your shields, or I will elect that you are not worth my pain.”

She sets him down on the ground, and McKay steadies himself against the wall, breathing heavily, face torn between terror and anguish. Helena can see a dark liquid dripping from Ivory's feeding hand, clenched so hard, her nails dig into her palm.

“I can't... I can't walk.” the man manages to speak, a pleading undertone in his voice. Ivory grabs him by the scruff and drags him out the room like a ragdoll.

Their voices become muffled once they're out of range, and Helena has nothing left to distract her from Teyla's blood, rushing through her veins next to her.
The woman makes eye contact, clearly understanding that Helena is experiencing something entirely different than she is. A realization that she is in danger.

Teyla raises a shaking hand, to keep her at a healthy distance, but all it accomplishes is presenting a starving Vampire with the pulse point on her wrist.
“Get back,” Helena croaks at her, barely understandable, and does her best to scurry away in the opposite direction herself.
Staring at her from bloodshot eyes, Teyla lowers her hand again, and heaves herself away from her. Helena leans against the wall, and tries to breathe through her mouth, to avoid the scents around her. The air hitting her throat hurts.

Seconds pass, feeling like hours, and Helena begins to see black spots in her vision.

The next thing she recalls is a light slap on her right cheek.
She rouses, lifting her hand to her temples, and slowly opens her eyes.
It's Teyla, kneeling over her, offering her hand to help her up.

“You passed out.” she informs her, as soon as they're both on their feet again.
Sucking in air like someone recovering from nearly having drowned, Helena looks around herself. The attendants of this conference are slowly dragging themselves up again, and she doesn't feel the hunger anymore.

“Did we scare them away...?” she asks, voice still shaking. Teyla knows, or at least suspects that she's lying to them all.
“I doubt it. Your Wraith contact dragged McKay out, and the assault ended shortly after.” Teyla explains. “If she killed him,...”
“She didn't. I know her this well.” Helena cuts her off, and leaves the room, half-running into the control room.

Most of Atlantis' crew is still on the floor, some unconscious, some maybe dead, but McKay is sitting by one of the consoles, flanked by Ivory, looking like a cornered prey animal.
Ivory looks up, and Helena sees relief in her eyes.

“You are alive.” she states, trying her very best to banish emotion from her voice.
“What happened?” Helena inquires, and Ivory nods in McKay's direction.
“I got him to raise the city's shields. I theorized that it might protect us from the Unyielding Thirst, and luckily, I was right.” she explains, and Helena notices that she still has her feeding hand held tightly shut.
“What would you have done if it hadn't worked?” McKay dares to ask, and Ivory flashes her teeth at him.
“I doubt you want me to spell that out for you.” she responds, and he scoots away from her a little.

Helena moves toward them, her eyes locked on Ivory's balled up hand.
“You're still hungry.” she remarks, and Ivory nods.
“I am very susceptible to this weapon, because I am not only Wraith, but a Queen. My mind may be stronger, but it has a higher range, too. They can still touch it, but it has lessened enough to be bearable.” she explains, and for the first time since they set foot in Atlantis, Helena sees the warm, loving look she usually regards her with. “I will live, Helena.”

“There's, uh... still three Hives out there, and they're attacking yours.” McKay informs her.
“It will not hold out for very long, especially since its crew is still under the full effects of the Unyielding Thirst. They are likely cannibalizing each other by now.” Only Helena is able to hear the grief in her tone.

“Well, let's stop them, then.” Sheppard exclaims on his way past them. “Monitor them, I'm going to the Chair.”

Nobody objects, most humans still reeling from the assault.

Teyla has made her way to catch up to them, and regards Helena with a very careful glance, exhibiting the mannerisms of someone trying to approach an elusive, but dangerous predator. Trying to to scare her off, trying not to entice her to attack.

Helena watches her from the corner of her eye.
“You look better,” she slowly addresses her, still keeping a wary distance.
“I feel better.” Helena agrees. “Teyla, you look uneasy. Are you quite alright?”
“I am.” she steps a little closer, and Helena sees her hand rest on the weapon on her belt. “You looked at me oddly earlier.”

Ivory shoots her an alarmed glance.
“Did I?” Helena weakly counters.
“You also told me to get away.” Teyla reminds her. “Why?”

Helena shrinks away by a few inches.
“You have nothing to fear.” she assures her, accepting that lying isn't in her best interest anymore.
“I saw your teeth. And the look in your eyes.” Teyla counters. “You're not human. And you wanted to eat me.”

McKay looks from the two women to the Wraith beside him, and back. A rumble goes through the city, as the Hives begin opening fire on Atlantis.

“What you really need to know about my nature is that I mean you no harm. Yes, I desperately wanted to sink my fangs into your neck. But I didn't.” Helena admits, under Teyla's glare. “And furtherly,...”

She steps away, around the console, and approaches Ivory, giving her an intense look. Ivory's upper lip twitches, in a stifled snarl.
Slowly, well aware of Teyla's weapon now pointed at her, she reaches for Ivory's feeding hand, and curls her fingers in her own hand. A tremble runs through her lover, and she sees her pupils fanning outward.
Shooting Teyla a glance, she guides Ivory's hand to her chest, pressing it against her skin.

“Do it already. I know you want to.” she hisses, and Ivory snarls, latching her feeding organ to her.
The pain washes over Helena, and she winces.
There's nothing sexual about this, and Ivory isn't gentle. She draws her life force rapidly, a hungry growl escaping her. Both know that this may very well be deciding their fates, as Teyla watches, wide-eyed, still pointing her weapon at them.

Liquid fire runs through her veins, as Ivory draws Helena's life, and she notices her lover genuinely struggling to force herself to stop when she eventually does.
Her hand hovers over Helena's chest, and her teeth are bared, but Helena reaches forward, placing her hand on Ivory's back, pulling her in, sealing her mouth on her neck.

For a second, she feels her rapid pulse, then she bites down. Ivory hisses under her fangs, but she doesn't stop her. Instead, her muscles tense, as Helena tries not to lose herself in the warmth her blood brings.
After just a few seconds, she pulls back, watching the wound heal, just before Ivory reaches up and wipes the blood off it.

Helena turns to face the two humans, McKay looking like he has years of therapy ahed, and Teyla having lowered her weapon.

“You can feed each other.” she whispers, loud enough for them to hear.
“Yes.” Helena croaks. “Her and I have been companions for centuries. Neither of us have fed on humans ever since, and we aren't about to start now.”
“What about her Hive?” Teyla asks sharply.
“I do not know.” Ivory replies, sounding strained, gaze locked on the sealing wound she left on Helena's chest. “I only recently became Queen; I have spent my life on Helena's ship so far, without much contact to my kind.”

“This weapon – Death developed it together with the people she snared from me. My friends, turning against me, and … doing this.” Helena continues, well aware of the others having caught up to Teyla from the conference room. “That's why we're here. This threatens us all, including you.”

Silence falls, only interrupted by the rumbles of the fire on the city's shields. Flashes of light make the stained glass windows shine periodically, and Helena takes Ivory's feeding hand, pressing her fingers into the slit. She knows, she's hurting her, but she also knows that the sensation helps her fight back her urge to feed.

“Your Hive.” McKay breaks the silence. “It's started firing on the others. One of them is about to fall apart, Sheppard's done some work on it..”
“They are firing?” Ivory sounds genuinely surprised. “But... they are very close to the Unyielding Thirst's source.” Her eyes are wide, and Helena feels her fingers clench around her hand.
“I don't know, but they are shooting-... First Hive is down!” McKay sounds almost hopeful.

Ivory slowly raises her off hand to press the button in her ear.
“Please respond.” she speaks, and her eyes immediately light up. “I see. Keep the lockdown up, and do not stop shooting. Once the enemy as been decimated, the pain will fade. Feed on Drones, if you must”

“They're alive.” Helena whispers, and she nods.
“I do not know how they manage, but they do. A good quarter of them died, but the core crew is still holding on.” Ivory's voice gains some strength as she speaks. “The enemy is concentrating their fire on the city. We may have a chance.”

“We may... not.” McKay interrupts. “The Hive with the least damage, they uh... they started heading straight for us.”
“Can your shield withstand the impact?” Helena snaps, whipping around to him.
Horror has found its way back into McKay's eyes.
“I don't know.” he whispers.

Woolsey has finally found enough courage to speak.
“Funnel whatever energy we have into the shields.” he commands, lacking a feeling of authority in his voice, but McKay complies regardless.
“I am-... second Hive is down, but the third one's still heading down!”

Ivory hisses.
“Keep firing! Destroy them before they can hit the city!” she snarls into her communicator.

“That's it! That's all we have!” McKay announces, and Helena sees some of the control room's crew folding their hands in silent prayer.

The noise is deafening.
A violent jerk runs through the city, knocking most people off their feet. Lights flicker, and the noise of big objects hitting the water follows.

A brief silence falls, and Helena notices Ivory's claws digging into the back of her hand, as they both find themselves on the ground.
“We're alive.” McKay states the obvious and gets up. “Our ZPM is probably depleted, but we're alive. It's over.”

Ivory rouses, and pulls Helena up with her.
“I cannot feel the telepathic assault anymore.” she tells them. “They are gone.”
“I believe, we have a lot to discuss now.” Teyla suggests, pulling herself up on the edge of the console. Her weapon has slid away from her, having been dropped when the impact struck.
“Ah, maybe not yet. There's a life sign in the waters, and we're out of shields.” McKay stops her. “Someone survived the impact.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

“Just one... hostile... Wraith in the city can fuck us up badly, Britney.” Sheppard explains. He's just been given the full update on Helena and Ivory, as well as the City's situation. “We have to find him and cut him down. Right now.”
“Signal's moved, actually.” McKay adds. “It's on the West Pier now. We should probably take care of it soon.”

Most of the chaos the assault had caused is being dealt with. The Lantheans are lucky – so far, no deaths have been reported, but a good half of them are in need of medical attention. Thanks to the overcharged shields, the structure itself has sustained no damage, although the sea is now full of debris from the crashed Hive.
Ivory's Hive is orbiting the planet silently, having given a life sign to her, and confirmed that the crew is in the process of recovering from the Unyielding Thirst.

“Whatever you choose to do, I wish to accompany you. This survivor is likely Wraith, and my presence could be of great benefit to you.” Ivory suggests. Her explanation has caused her to be able to move freely now, without being constantly guarded by marines.
“Fine with me.” Sheppard says, and makes a beeline for the door.

Him, her, and a group of marines quickly make their way to the last known position of the survivor, as the signal has stopped moving, according to McKay.
Cold, salty sea-air assaults Ivory's nostrils, as she steps outside behind Sheppard. He's pointing his weapon at what looks like a pile of wet leathers by the pier.

“It's not moving.” he announces, and Ivory moves past him.
“I will investigate this.” she informs him. “Stand by, for now.”

She can tell that the survivor is not dead. Their mental presence is very prominent in her peripheral, so she approaches slowly, and then crouches down next to the figure.
Wiping a few strands of damp, dark hair away, she reveals the Wraith's face, torn from pain, eyes closed, and breathing flatly. A wave of hunger, pain and fear assaults her mind, as she connects to the survivor's.

It's a Queen, although Ivory would rather describe her as a young girl, barely out of adolescence, shaking in terror. She's aware of the armed men behind Ivory. Like a cornered animal, she plays dead.

“Do not be frightened.” Ivory speaks into her mind. “I will not harm you.”
She rouses slightly, and Ivory hears a gun click behind her, prompting her to raise her hand to stall.

“They will,” the girl's feeble mental voice replies.
“They may, if they deem you a threat.” Ivory admits. “You were this Hive's Queen.”
“I was not. I was their prisoner.” The Girl shifts away from her, but the only option she has is jumping back into the water.

Ivory reaches out, and pulls her closer.
“You are in pain, child.” she hums to her, trying to give her presence a calming, comforting quality. “I can help you, if you do exactly what I say. Can you do that?”
“I am so hungry.” she whimpers.
“I know. I know you are. But if you want to live, you must do as I say. I can get you out of this city alive, but only if you work with me. Trust me. These humans are not bad, they are merely afraid, just like you.” She angles her head a little, and watches as the girl fights herself into a sitting position.
“What must I do?” she asks, avoiding eye contact with Ivory.
“I will tell them that you are not a threat. Stay behind me, and only speak when addressed. I will show you someone you can feed on, but if I tell you to stop, you must obey.” Ivory senses wordless approval, and gets up, turning toward Sheppard.

“She's young, injured, and terrified.” she lets him know. “The enemy held her prisoner, and she somehow survived the crash. She is no threat.”
“Why would they hold a Queen prisoner?” Sheppard asks, eyeing the girl with furrowed brows.
“I do not know. But I can tell that she is not lying. Look at her. She's frightened.” Ivory lowers her head before continuing. “I will take her to feed on Helena – she can handle it. Then, we will find out what she knows.”

“You'd let her hurt your friend?” Sheppard's voice gains sharpness as he asks this.
“Helena is not my friend. She is my lover.” Ivory corrects him. “And furtherly, she is not human. It will weaken her, but she will not die.”

She turns, and speaks to the girl verbally.
“Can you stand?”
The girls shakes her head, and Ivory reaches forward, pulling her left arm over her shoulders, keeping her upright.
“Do not be afraid. Everything will be fine.” she assures her, and Sheppard looks at the pair, confusion in his eyes. He's likely never seen a Wraith treat one of their own this way.

With difficulty, Ivory helps the girl limp back to the conference room, keeping her mind intertwined with hers, to help her remain calm, at the sight of six weapons trained on her.
They're met with an array of confused looks, as Ivory drags in a Wraith that looks essentially like seaweed in her arms. Sheppard offers an apologetic shrug, while she maneuvers the girl onto a seat.

“Helena,...” she asks, and her lover makes her way over to the girl, turning the chair next to hers into her direction, and sitting down on it.
“Hello,” she says softly, looking the shivering girl in the eyes. “it's okay. You don't have to be afraid. I'm a friend.”
The girl's feeding hand twitches, and a shiver runs through her form. Helena smiles, and takes her hand, placing it on her chest.
“It's okay. You won't kill me.” she assures her, noticing the surprised look.

Without hesitating any longer, she feeds, no longer having the capacity to care about the weapons pointed at her. Instead of snarling, she weeps, but her bruises and cuts begin mending, her sunken cheeks regaining their fullness.
Helena gasps in agony, and Ivory touches the girl's shoulder.
“That is enough.” she commands, and the girl recoils so quickly, one would think Helena'd stung her.

Helena straightens her posture.
“Feeling better, I see.” she says. “Now. Would you like to tell us your name?”
She shifts uncomfortably, looking around the crows of humans having formed, cutting her off from the exit.
“It's okay. We're all friends.” Helena comforts her. She knows a traumatized child when she sees one.
“I...” The girl's first verbal word comes out in stutters, and she clears her throat. “I am Nova. Second daughter to Coldamber.”
Ivory's pupils dilate briefly.
“Coldamber. That means...” She shifts into mental speech. “You are Death's sister.”
Nova nods. “Yes.” she whispers, verbally, and lowers her head in shame. “She locked me up, when I refused to bend my knee to her. My Hive turned against me. They did things to me, I... I cannot recall them. My memory is spotty at best. I was so hungry. So very hungry.”

Helena exchanges a glance with Ivory, then focuses her attention on the girl, Nova, again.
“Death is doing awful things to all of us. That's why these humans want to help us.” she explains, “We came here to plan our next steps against her with them, when yours and two other Hives appeared and attacked us. Do you know anything about that.”

Nova shakes her head.
“I was kept in solitary confinement most of the time. They even locked me out of the telepathic network.” Her voice cracks as she says this, and for a second, Helena is genuinely concerned she might start crying. “I had the faint hope to retake my Hive eventually, but now that it is destroyed, I have nothing left to live for. Nowhere to go, nowhere to belong.”

Helena clenches her teeth, but quickly relaxes again, then lifts her hand and wipes the wet hair out of Nova's face. She initially shrinks away from her, but gets comfortable quickly when she sees that Helena isn't going to harm her.
“You can come home with us. We'll keep you safe, and then we can work on taking revenge for you.” she offers.
Nova looks at her with eager eyes.
“You are a Vampire. I have read about your kind. I can tell from the way you taste.”
“Correct.”

McKay mumbles something unintelligible about Vampires, and Teyla steps closer to them. It's not easy for either Ivory or Helena to read her face, but the fact that she does not carry a weapon is a good sign.
“We're granting you a lot of trust with this.” she tells them. “I do hope you won't abuse this trust. Our dealings with Wraith hardly ever end well.”

“I am not exactly a regular Wraith, am I?” Ivory counters. “Nothing about this situation is normal, so I urge you not to expect things to go the way they normally do.”
Teyla looks at her silently, then shifts her gaze to Nova.
“You're young. I can tell.” she opens, and Nova returns her gaze, shifting on her seat, as if she's trying to take up as little space as possible.
“I am.” she responds.
“You said they did things to you. What did they do?”

Again, Nova looks at Ivory, as if asking her for help.
“You are telepathic, are you not, human?” she asks, and Teyla nods. “Have you ever had someone else's mind intrude upon yours by force?”
Teyla freezes, then nods again.
“They did that. A lot.” Nova continues. “They made me feel things I would not naturally have felt. Made me see things that are not there. Broke me. I do not remember much of it. My mind is in shambles.”

“Do you know of the weapon they developed?” Teyla continues, now with more care.
“I do not. No one spoke to me for the duration of my confinement.”

Helena gets up.
“That's enough, Teyla. They likely used her to help develop the Unyielding Thirst, and she's deeply wounded by that. I don't think we should rip open these wounds.”
The woman breathes deeply, then nods slowly.
“I apologize.” she says, sincerely, and takes a step back.

“We would like to depart from the City. I will entrust you with a way to contact us at all times, in case you need our help.” Ivory addresses the whole room, having involuntarily positioned herself protectively before Nova.

The Hive is a mess.
Staffed with a sorry excuse for a skeleton crew, they glide through hyperspace, while trying to keep things together, The holds are empty, the crew survives on Drones, and Nova hasn't spoken to anyone in days.

Helena and Ivory have left Atlantis, and given them their subspace message data, enabling the Lantheans to not only contact them, but also to track them.
There are no new reports, neither from the group working on an immunization for the Unyielding Hunger, nor from Shine and Myah.

What hope Helena felt upon learning that her friend is defying Death, is quickly fading, making room for worry.
Concern, that Myah may not even be alive anymore.

Ivory's off hand toys with her hair, as they both recline on her throne, Helena resting her head in her lover's lap. She's staring straight ahed, and so is Ivory, the caress being an idle fidget.

“We can make it through this.” Ivory speaks, sounding hollow, contrasting her words, and Helena just hums, more a confirmation that she heard her, than agreement.
She sits up, and pulls Ivory close, pressing her lips on her head.
“I'm terrified.” she admits, mumbling into her hair, as Ivory wraps her arms around her waist.

“I am too, my love.”

Time feels off for Nova.
These two women that saved her.
The humans that spared her.
Her kin, that betrayed her.

Nothing feels real for her, and she worries, she might awaken in her cell, having just dreamed up an unlikely scenario of rescue.
Her sister, Death.
It makes her feel sick, but part of her actually misses Death. Not her current, violent, awful self. The way things were, when they were both younglings.
Nova has always looked up to her, the older one.

Death, the promising one, the prodigy, with her shining eyes and captivating presence. Death, named after the greatest Queen to ever live.

Nova, the feeble one, the weak one, with her shaking hands and thin voice. Nova, saved by an outcast. Nova, betrayed and tormented, used for someone else's benefit.

Nova, starving and suffering, lonely and broken, on the brink of insanity. Nova, all alone, as the ship crashes into the ocean. Nova, frantically clawing herself out of her rapidly filling cell.

Nova, dragging herself on dry land, rolling over and waiting for death. Nova, the outcast, the pariah.
Nova, the fallen Queen, Nova the Crownless, Nova the Forsaken.

Nova, named after a dying star.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

“How are the holds?” is the very first thing Helena says to Erinya, as she steps on board.
“Fairly recently filled, Captain. Are you... alright?” Erinya regards her with a concerned look.
“No. I will explain later.”

She walks past her, followed by Ivory and another Queen Erinya doesn't recognize. Her gaze is glued to the floor.

The three make their way to the holds, small cells containing one human each, some in stasis, some very much awake. Helena hisses like a threatened snake, as she enters, and steps forward.
The forcefield separating the human from her flickers and dies as she approaches.
She feels Ivory's glance on her back as she reaches forward, and pulls the human toward her.

It's a young woman, dark skinned, with reddish brown hair, and big, amber eyes, looking at her in terror. Helena inhales sharply.
She looks a lot like Teyla, not enough to suspect blood relation, but enough to make Helena grit her teeth.
Truth is, ever since she's felt herself beckoned by her blood, the Unyielding Thirst screaming in her mind, the many times she's fed on Ivory on their way home hadn't... satisfied her. Her blood makes her body tingle pleasantly, still, but Helena craves more.

And Teyla had smelled so sweet, so hard to resist...

She grabs the woman by the throat, and yanks her forward, feeling the pulse throb under her thin, soft skin. With a hungry growl, she enraptures her, feeling her go limp in her grasp, and moves toward her, as if to kiss her, but their lips never meet.
Instead, Helena's fangs puncture the woman's neck, and she comes alive again, struggling against her iron grip, but it's no use.
Blood spills, and Helena seals her lips on the wound.

Human blood is different than what she's used to. It's not tangy and strong, like liquor, instead, it feels like a faint whisper, carrying the very fleeting taste of life, but so much more heat. Sweet and as fragile as its vessel, it tastes like death itself.

Helena strengthens her grip on the woman, and imagines it's Teyla, whose movements get slower and weaker as she drains her.

When she finally lets go of the lifeless body in her arms, Helena feels sick. The woman tumbles to the ground, dead and spent, and her blood burns on her tongue.
She sees Ivory step back from another human in the corner of her vision, and a dried-up corpse falls out of the niche, to her feet.

Driving her fang into her lower lip, Helena looks up to her lover, who is staring at her blood stained palm.
“This could turn out to be a problem.” Ivory whispers, and Helena merely nods.

“The Lantheans must not learn of this. You told them, you do not feed on their kind anymore.” Nova is done feeding too, and turns to them. “You lied.”
“We didn't.” Helena denies. “Up until now, we only fed on each other.”
“Perhaps this was just a side-effect of the Unyielding Thirst. And now, that we sated our needs, it may never have to happen again.” Ivory offers, and Helena nods. They both know that there's more to it.

“Let's go, we need to talk to our researchers.” she changes the topic, not willing to linger on this.

Erinya sits at the back end of the conference room, flanked by Guide and Silverlight, drumming her nails on the table, as the three women settle before her.

“First off, this is Nova.” Ivory introduces. “She was Death's prisoner, and during an attack on Atlantis, we rescued her.” Nova looks at her, grateful for keeping the particular detail about her relationship to Death a secret for now.
The two Wraith silently acknowledge her, but Erinya regards her with a pained look, electing to remain quiet as well.

“Death's fleet likely followed us, and decided to destroy us along with Atlantis.” Helena reports. “We survived, and fended them off, but this is, I believe, our sign to become more offensive in our war. Which brings me to you three.”

Erinya nods.
“Well, we did make progress in understanding what the Unyielding Thirst is, and how it works.” she begins. “It's, as expected, telepathic, and targets the victim's need to feed, forcing them into a state of starvation. That, we already knew, but we did learn that it's capable of tricking the brain into believing this effect to be real, causing... well, I call it Placebo-starvation. It makes the body simulate symptoms, which leads to the deaths we witnessed.”

“Mental resistance, and general, physical composure plays a role in how quick it kills.” Guide continues. “For example, someone already somewhat hungry will die a lot quicker than someone freshly fed. Through our investigation, Silverlight began developing a serum that forces the mind into a state of satisfaction, and we hope to cancel out the effects of the Unyielding Thirst this way. However, we do not have a prototype yet, and our concept needs more work as well.”

“It's a start.” Helena comments.

“Reversing the weapon's effects was not my idea.” Silverlight feels compelled to add. “Erinya attempted this first, although she chose a very complicated approach. My serum is simply an easier way to achieve her original idea.”

No one misses the surprised look Erinya shoots him.

“Furthermore, we received a signal, shortly before you arrived.” Silverlight continues. “It is encrypted, and we cannot decipher it. I have loaded it onto this.”
He hands Helena his tablet, and she reads over the set of data on it.

Then, she sets the tablet on the table, hard enough to make Nova flinch in surprise.
“This is an encryption Myah and I used when we were younger. I haven't seen it in a while, but I can read it easily. No one except for her and me knows this code.” she says, and bares her teeth. “It's a call for help, and coordinates.”

“So, her plot against Death was discovered.” Guide muses. “If she had time to encrypt a message for you, she is likely still alive.”
“Death wouldn't kill her this easily. She has use for her.” Helena replies. “But I am concerned for Shine. If she was discovered, he was too.”

“We must respond.” Silverlight says, too quickly to be a simple suggestion.
“We will respond.” Helena replies, and gets up. “I'll be on the bridge. Continue working on the serum.”

Carefully adjusting the Dart's controls, Shine lands. A few quick gestures later, he materializes his cargo before the ship, opens the cockpit, and climbs out.

The harsh desert heart immediately has him gasping, but he powers through, walking around his Dart, to the unconscious form in the sand.
Myah looks bad.
Her cheeks are sunken, dark circles shadow her eyes, sockets deep in her skull. She makes a pained noise, and her fingers twitch. That seems to be the extent of her strength.

Shine unbuttons her shirt, the feeding wound on her chest gapes, still bleeding. Holding his breath, her lowers his hand onto her, cringing away from the blood that touches his palm, forcing his feeding organ to seal against the wound.
Careful not to hurt her, he connects to her system, and begins to funnel life into her, watching her eyelids flutter as it creeps into her. Her weak heartbeat speeds up under his palm.
He feels her tense, and with an alarmingly sharp sting of pain, she yanks his hand off her, scrambles into a crouching position, and reaches for the weapon on her belt... only to realize that she no longer has it.

“Be at ease,” Shine speaks to her. “I did not harm you.”
“You fed on me,” she hisses.
“No. Death fed on you. I restored your life.” Shine's pulse throbs painfully in his throat, well aware that Myah could easily kill him if she wanted to.

Luckily, he sees her relax.
“Ah.” she hums. “I remember. How did you extract me?”
“She had you thrown into a cell when she was done with you. I took you to the Dart Bay, and fled before anyone could notice.” Shine lets her know. “I went through four different Gates. They will not find us.”

She touches her neck, trying to find the device that shields her from the Unyielding Thirst.
“If they do, I will die.” she states, and Shine raises his feeding hand.
“I still have mine. If they do, I can defend you.”

She sighs and looks around.
It's a desolate, dry area, and the sun burns down from the sky. No signs of intelligent life no opportunity to feed for either of them.
“What now?” she asks.
Shine already has his tablet out.
“I am sending a subspace message to my Queen. With a bit of luck, they will find us, and we can tell them what we know.” he says. “Your friend, Helena, will be very eager to see you.”
“I do not know if she has forgiven me.” Myah huffs, and leans against the Dart's rear. Shine gives her a look, and just nods.

'My Queen,
I was forced to give up my cover in order to save my contact. She was found out, through telepathic intrusion on her mind. It would only have been a matter of time until Death would have done the same to me. We fled in a Dart, and are safe for the time being. I am attaching the Stargate Address to my message, and humbly request rescue.

Shine'

He sends the message, and sits down in the Dart's shade as well, leaning against it next to Myah.
“Your courage will be rewarded.” he assures her. “You have nothing to fear.”
“What I feel is not fear, it is shame.” Myah hugs her knees, and avoids looking at him.
“Forgiveness would ease that?” he asks.
“Possibly. I don't know.” she sighs. “I betrayed my friend. That is one of the worst things a Vampire can do.”

Shine shakes, and flexes his feeding hand. The Gift of Life has taken much out of him, and he begins realizing this now, as the heat drains his strength.
His palm burns angrily, and he looks ahed, to the horizon.
“We may not have much time.” he mutters.
“They will come. For you, especially.” Myah assures him.
“I do not doubt that. But the time until they do may become...unpleasant for me.”

Myah sits up, and looks him in the eyes.
“You're like this because you restored me, aren't you.” It's more a statement than a question.
“It plays a part, yes.” Shine responds, head cocked to the side suriously.
“If you can't take it anymore, you may feed on me, to keep yourself alive. I...” She pauses, as if the following sentence is sharp in her throat. “... trust you.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

The calm has returned to Helena's ship, gliding through hyperspace, on the way to the rendezvous-point them and Ivory's Hive have agreed upon.
Far, far away from Atlantis.

It's the second day in hyperspace, and Guide finally allowed Erinya to talk him into sharing her quarters, instead of rotting away in his own, tiny guest room.
He looks out of place, sitting there by her window, occasionally drumming his claws on the small table attached to the wall. Erinya notes that to herself, as she exits her bathroom, dressed in comfortable pajamas, hair still damp from her shower.

“Bathroom's open, if you need it.” she lets him know, but shakes his head.
“I should be fine.” he responds. “I bathed this morning.”
“Right.” Erinya says, regarding him and his messy hair skeptically. He smells clean enough, she muses, deciding that he likely just has a strange aversion to hairbrushes.

She sits on her bed, folding her legs. Her body heat is on a comfortable, regulated level, it's been this way ever since Guide had joined them, and she very much appreciates that.
Shifting lightly, he turns to face her, but doesn't speak, glares intensely instead. Erinya shrugs at him awkwardly, and he averts his gaze again.

“Why did you insist I stay here?” he eventually asks, and Erinya sighs deeply.
“Because your room is tiny, sterile and uncomfortable.” she replies.
“I don't mind it.” he counters, and Erinya sighs again.
“Also, I enjoy your company.” she adds, putting more emphasis on her words.
“You could easily have told me that.” he remarks.
“I did.”
“Explicitly.” Guide looks at her again. “Against all expectations, Erinya, I cannot read your mind.”

She leans forward a little, and smiles.
“That seems to be the source of many conflicts between us, isn't it?” she assumes. “You're way too used to telepathic communication, and since that doesn't work with me, we misunderstand each other.”
“That would not nearly be as much of a problem if you were more upfront about your intentions.” he promptly fires back, and Erinya straightens her posture a little.

“All right. I'll keep that in mind.” she surrenders. “But, I can't read your mind either. Do you want to be here with me?”
She swears she sees the beginnings of a smile glint in his eyes.
“I would not be here if I did not want to.”

A quiet tension fills the room, and Erinya clears her throat uncomfortably. For how long has she known him now? Decades? Centuries? Time is an odd thing for her perception, but usually, her and Guide are entirely comfortable around each other, not once has she felt nervous in his presence. Why now?
Erinya almost wants to lie, and tell him that she needs to be fed on, just to break this tension between them. At least that was familiar and safe.

“Do you-...” she begins, and he angles his head, looking at her expectantly, but she doesn't finish her sentence. “...Never mind.”
“Do I do what?” Guide's attention has now entirely shifted to her.
“Are you hungry? I don't know. Anything at all?” Erinya doesn't care that she's not making sense.
“I fed on you this morning.” he responds, gaze still locked on her. “As I do every morning. What is the matter with you?”

“I'm fine.” she unfolds her legs, and sits normally on the edge of her bed. “Sorry. I'm a fool.”
“That depends on what specific part of yourself you refer to.” He gets up and walks a bit closer. “Erinya?”

She looks up and studies his face. It's hard to read, as usual, but his eyes are still locked on her. A quick glance down to his hands reveals his true feelings. Flexing, fingers curling into claws. He's uneasy. Concerned.
Erinya crosses her arms.

“The other day, you told me you don't want to treat me like food.” she begins.
“I did say that, yes.” he confirms.
“I was, uh... wondering, because of that.” she finally admits. “About the nature of our relationship. If I'm not just an endless food supply, then what am I? To you, specifically, what am I to you?”

He looks taken aback by this question, and she sees his sensory pits flare briefly.
“I owe you my life on several occasions.” he carefully responds, and she notices him watching her for reactions, just as much as she watches him.
“That doesn't answer my question, does it?”

His hands clamp shut, and he shakes his head.
“I suppose not, no.” he says, almost apologetically. “I trust you. And I care for you deeply. Does that answer your question?”
“Somewhat.” she admits, but his investigative glance refuses to let her come to rest.
“In this case, I play it back to you. What am I to you, except for an energy drain?” And there's the tension again.

Erinya makes herself look him in the eyes, still not comprehending what she's afraid of.
“I've known you for a long time, Guide. We've been through hell and back together.” she speaks quietly, and averts her gaze again. “You're very important to me, and I find myself craving your presence, whenever I'm apart from you. When you're with me, and we sit in silence, I like looking at you. I think you're beautiful. I like listening to you when you talk, the way your voice sounds, the way you express yourself. And when you feed on me... I-...”

She cuts off, accidentally having looked up to face him again, and feels her courage falter under his gaze.
“I don't know.” she finally settles. “I just... really want to touch you.”

Another beat of silence fills the room, and Erinya breathes deeply, almost hoping she could inhale her words back, before they reach him. She glues her gaze to her knees, and waits silently for a response, like a convict waiting for a sentence.
Instead of an immediate verbal response, she feels the mattress shift slightly under his weight, as he sits down next to her.

“As I said.” he finally says. “I cannot read your mind. If you want me, you must tell me.”
“It's not that easy, okay? Bit different than asking you for a tissue, you know! I figured-...” she clears her throat. “I figured if you wanted me, you'd have made a move by now.”
A short, throaty laugh has her looking up.

“I believe, cultural differences may be another source of conflict.” he says. “I would never have done that. It's not customary for a male to engage this sort of relationship with a-...”
He cuts himself off, and looks at her curiously.
“With a Queen?” Erinya asks and he nods. “I'm no Queen, Guide. I'm just... me.”

“It's hard to differentiate.” he mutters, barely audible to her, but she makes out what he says regardless.

She fidgets with the seams of her shirt, again, avoiding to look at him. Now, that he's right next to her, it becomes a lot harder to pretend he's not there.
“So,” she works up her courage. “do you want me to touch you?”

“Yes.”

His answer feels like a jolt of electricity down her spine, and the tension shifts into something entirely different. Swallowing hard, she turns around to face him. Now that she has clearance to do what she desperately wants to do, she's not sure how to start, never having thought she'd get this far.
Slowly, she reaches out to him, seeing him close his eyes as her fingers approach his face, and caress his cheek.

She's never made physical contact to him in this context. It's always been brief touches, brushing past him, having him help her up, him feeding on her. Practical things. Excusable things.

His skin feels firm and smooth, cooler than hers, almost like a succulent plant. She lightly traces the starburst tattoo around his right eye, and he sits still, without moving a muscle.
Her fingers move to run through his hair, and despite its rugged appearance, it is soft to the touch.

“Do you permit me to-...” he asks, and is cut off by her hand locking around his left wrist, bringing his off hand to her side.
“Yes.” she responds before he can finish his question. “If I don't stop you, assume my answer is yes.”
She feels his hand shift, and reach her spine, lightly pulling her closer.
“I will ask permission regardless.” he informs her.

Erinya is close enough to faintly hear his heartbeat through her sharp senses now, and feels herself get more comfortable in this situation. In a stroke of bravery, she brings her free hand to his chin, placing her fingers on his jawline, and pulling him into a kiss.

She's careful and hesitant, not ever having bothered to wonder if Wraith even kissed like that. Her lips gently brush against his, and she sucks on his lower lip.
Apparently, her concern is without reason, because he immediately responds, leaning in and deepening the kiss, his tongue darting forward to meet hers.
His feeding hand comes to support the pressure on her back, and she shifts uncomfortably, thanking her warrior's agility for enabling her to sort her legs into a less awkward position, moving herself into his lap.

Soon enough, she feels lightheaded, having lost control of the kiss long ago. His tongue is quick, and almost uncannily agile, giving him the lead without much issue. She has to break away for air, and stares at him in disbelief, before pressing her lips against his again.
They're warmer now, and wet.

Wraith are impossibly good kissers, she adds to her imaginary notes.

Guide's heartbeat has sped up, she also notes, and lets her fingers tangle in his hair again, praying that her shaky breath earlier lasts her longer.
He has a faint, musky taste to him, and his tongue feels almost leathery in texture, as he runs it against hers. Occasionally, she feels teeth against her lips, sharp like razor blades, but not sharp enough to break her skin without the explicit intent to do so.

Again, she breaks away, and gasps, breathless, as if she'd run for a long time. He seeks eye contact, not moving in for another kiss.
Probably waiting for her permission, she notes sourly, but her annoyance fades when she notices that his pupils have widened significantly.

“Is this what you wanted?” he asks her, his voice low and hoarse. Erinya shivers at that.
“Is it what you want?” she can't help but ask, and he makes an indecipherable noise at her.

She feels him shift under her, and her eyes widen.
He's hard. Very.
Still, he remains perfectly unmoving, even when she adjusts her position, grinding against him briefly.

“Obviously.” he finally responds, and studies her attentively.
“Oh.” she simply says, and he angles his head.
“We can stop.” he offers, but she shakes her head.
“No, I'm fine, I just, uhm.” she clears her throat awkwardly, and curses herself internally. “I didn't expect you to-... You know, Be actually, physically... attracted to me.”
She cringes. What is she, a teenager?

“I hide it well, don't I?” he responds.
“Bit too well.” she mutters, but leans in regardless, to press her lips onto the soft spot between his earlobe and jawline.
“Forgive me, then.” she hears him whisper, and withdraws again.

“We're overdressed.” she notes, and tugs on his leather coat. “And I don't have a single clue how to open this.”
He responds with a low hum, reaches into his collar, and begins undoing a series of clasps on the inside, until the coat comes loose. Carelessly, and with a hint of impatience, he tosses it aside.
Underneath, he wears a simple, black shirt, short-sleeved, and relatively normal, from what Erinya can judge.
He reaches to its seam, but she stops him.

“Let me do that.” she whispers, and he obediently withdraws his hands. Still not quite believing what she's actually doing, Erinya slides the fabric up his sides, and pulls it over his head, furtherly messing up his hair.
She doesn't miss the low growl that escapes him, when her fingertips ghost over his ribs. Enticed by his reaction, her nails lightly rake over his chest. He shivers.

She leans closer, bringing her hands around his waist, to his back, and settles to trace light kisses along his collarbone. Her fingers explore along his bony spinal ridges, and she feels him roll his hips against her.
Excellent.
Feeling a sinew tense, she notices that he's rolled his head back, opening exposing his throat to her, his teeth dug into his lower lips.
Carefully, she makes her way up, lightly nipping at his skin, until her lips come to rest directly on his throat, easily able to tear it out with her fangs in this position.
He doesn't flinch.
Instead, a low rumble emanates from his chest, vibrations rippling to the spot Erinya's pressed her lips onto.

Vulnerable , open to her, and he's purring.

“I love you,” she breathes against his neck, and immediately feels another shift in posture. He's lowered his head back toward her, so he can press his lips against her head.

“Shall we lie down?” he asks, moving back a little, and she pulls back as well. There's a flush on his face, when she faces him, deep green spotted over his features, and she can't see any gold in his eyes anymore.

He makes an almost pained noise, when she removes the pressure against his erection by getting up, but he doesn't say anything. Instead, he lies down on his back, and embraces her when she joins him.
Gently, he pulls her into a kiss, slow and lazy; she feels her eyes flutter shut.
She feels his hands crawl up underneath her shirt, and softly trace patterns on her spine and shoulder blades.

A faint moan leaves her lips, and he captures it with his own.
He's good at this, she notes to herself. Reading her and responding accordingly, that is. Whatever nervous tension she's had in her, slowly fades under his touch.
They remain like this for a while, the distance between them decreasing minutely. Soon, Erinya finds herself eagerly pressing against Guide, with him occasionally rolling his hips into their contact. Their kiss gets messier, more demanding, and Erinya has to break it.

He immediately releases her from his embrace, and she sits up, his eyes following her, a look of concern on his flushed face.
Instead of saying a single word, she takes off her shirt, yanking it off her body, as if she's in a great hurry.

She is, in fact, as his gaze rakes hungrily over her exposed form.
“Come here.” she asks him, remembering his need to constant, reinforced verbal consent.
Almost immediately, he sits up and runs his hands along her sides, breathing heavily.
With a smile, she straddles his thighs again, and hooks her thumbs under the band of his leather pants. His purr hitches.

“You'll need to help me with your maximum security pants.” she lets him know, drawing a breathy chuckle from him.
“It's armor,” he excuses it, and reaches under the band, next to her thumbs, and unlatches a closing mechanism.
The tension in the fabric lessens, and Erinya know that she can shuck it down now. Their eyes meet.

She doesn't miss his breath speeding up, when she liberates him of his pants; he helps her and kicks them off.
Now, clad in only thin underwear, it's easy for her to see the outline of his erection, and even though Erinya hasn't seen many dicks in her lifetime, she can assume that his is on the larger end of the spectrum.
This is getting serious.
She swallows hard, and toys with the band of his underwear, not missing the concerned glance he shoots her.
“Are you alright?” he asks, and she shakes her head smiling.
“Don't worry. I'm just convincing myself that this is actually happening.” she lets him know, and gives him a tiny push, enticing him to lie back down on his back. “Just relax.”

“I am. But are you?” he inquires, propping himself up on his elbows.
“Of course. You live off the very essence of my being, Guide. I'm not afraid of intimacy.” she argues, and he smiles knowingly, likely seeing through her tough facade.
“I see,” he responds, but Erinya acts before he can say anything else.

Whatever word he was about to articulate, it gets stuck in his throat, when she boldly pushes her hand into his pants, and wraps her hand around the base of his shaft.
Satisfied, she sees him sink down on his back again, hands flat, palms down-on the sheets.

Encouraged, she pulls his underwear down to his knees, the sudden motion making him suck in air sharply.
Erinya really hasn't seen many sets of genitalia before, especially not those of a Wraith. According to her very awkward talks with Helena, Wraith anatomy is similar to humanoid anatomy, with a few... quirks.
That proves correct, and Guide's quirk appears to be a set of firm ridges along his shaft, not particularly dangerous-looking, but Erinya shivers regardless, at the though of having that inside her.

There's a tight knot in her abdomen when she experimentally strokes him. It's softer than the rest of him, but equally as smooth to the touch. Her eyes flicker up to meet his, and she feels herself flush.
She's never seen him like this, so vulnerable, so utterly under her control, at her mercy. Not even when he was starving, and she was the only thing standing between him and death.

His chest rises and falls quickly, and with each motion she makes, he twitches, hisses, growls. She applies more pressure, and runs her thumb over the head, curious to work more sounds out of him, but instead, he bucks his hips up, into her touch.

Erinya feels her heart jump, and she leans back, to shuck down her own pants, maneuvering them off her body. Cool air hits air, and she notices the sensation of dampness between her legs.
“Guide,” she says, and he sits up, expression somehow strained. “Please.”

“Turn around.” he rasps at her, and she follows his request without a second thought. His hands lock on her hips, and he pulls her close, her back to his chest, and his length trapped between their bodies. She feels his lips on her neck, while his feeding hand wanders under her panties.

She gasps, when his fingers trail along her folds, careful not to hurt her with his claws. His off hand is pressed on her chest, and she knows that he monitors her pulse that way, carefully observing her every reaction.
With an incredibly fluid and delicate set of movement, his index- and middle finger penetrate her, and she twitches in his embrace.

“Is this all right?” he asks her, his voice wrecked with arousal, but he refuses to let himself go.
She nods wordlessly. And he begins slowly withdrawing his fingers, and pushing them back in. His claws don't harm her, but severely limit his range of movement.

Fortunately, as Erinya learns, he has a way to work around that little handicap.
There's movement against her clit, and soon a little bit of suction...
She hisses.

His feeding organ locks around her, shifting and contracting, feeling unbearably hot against her. Erinya cant help but grind into his touch, and realizes with something akin to horror that she can feel his heartbeat through the membrane, the tiny, pulsing sensation against her clit making her sob with pleasure.
Noticing him rocking against her, along with her own movement makes her moan, and she leans harder against his chest, feeling his breath against her neck.

He growls quietly, and she feels his off hand on her chest tense. His movement against her vulva speeds up, and she begins seeing stars.
She swears, some profanity, his name, and a plea not to stop, arches into his touch, and feels her sense of gravity faltering for a second.

Her climax ripples through her, and she becomes painfully aware of his fingers inside her, as she contracts around them, but for the moment it doesn't matter.
It takes her several seconds to start breathing again, and she's suddenly very sure that she cried out. There's hardly any movement behind her anymore, just the brief stimulation, as Guide unlatches his feeding organ from her.

She looks down on herself, and sees red liquid, going wide eyed for a second, before catching a glimpse of his hand.
“Enzyme,” she breathes. “You-...”

Guide shifts behind her, and loosens his grip on her.
“Yes,” he breathes, still reeling from his own apparent climax. Erinya feels a sticky substance on her back.
“How? I hardly touched you-...” she asks him, too deep in her afterglow to be embarrassed.
He flexes his feeding hand to her.
“It's very sensitive.” he lets her know, and she feels a laugh bubble up in her chest.
“I don't think that it's intended purpose.” she teases, and briefly feels his lips against her neck again.
“It has many purposes.” he purrs, and shifts around to face her again. “We should clean up.”

“Yeah.” she huffs. “Yeah, we should.” So much for him not needing a bath tonight.
There's an odd sense of familiarity, when his off hand locks around hers, and he leads her into the bathroom.

Erinya is still in a haze. She has no idea how she got into the tub, when she finds herself there, but she hardly cares.
Guide's hands spread soap over her skin, with a sense of devotion she's never seen from him.

'It's hard to differentiate', his words echo in her head.

“I take it,” he speaks, after what feels like an eternity. “that you consider me your consort now?”
She shrugs. “I suppose that's the Wraith word for this.” she responds. “I don't care what you call it, I just want to be with you.”

“You have been with me this entire time.” his rough voice manages to sound gentle, and he twirls a damp lock of hair on his finger. “You just hesitated to claim me.”
“Claim you?” she parrots and a faint smile ghosts over his features.
“Forgive me. Wraith terminology.” he clarifies.

She leans toward him, to rest her forehead against his.
“Now I absolutely cannot let anyone hurt you ever again.” she tells him seriously. “Now that I've 'claimed' you.”
“That's to be expected of...” he pauses, and she sees him smile in her peripheral vision. “...a Queen toward her Consort.”

Erinya moves to press her lips against his.
Yes, that she can live with.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

“Wake up! Quick, we must be away!”
Shine feels someone shake him by his shoulder, and rouses, raising an arm to shield his eyes from the searing sunlight.
Myah crouches over him, eyes narrowed and fangs bared, like a cornered predator.

“What is it?” he asks, as she hands him his stunner, and gets up.
“They found us.” she hisses. “Death's men. And they know that we are here.”

Shine is wide awake now, scrambles to his feet, and spins the weapon in his off hand, to maneuver it into a usable position. Myah leans into the Dart's cockpit, and presses a few buttons.
“What are the chances that this thing will fly?” she asks him.
“It will fly, but if you want weapons and maneuverability, I must disappoint you.” he responds to her, and follows, leaning in by the other side.
She grits her teeth.

“I heard Darts, and hoped it to be Ivory's rescue team. But they saw me, and opened fire.” she explains.
“They are no longer going for recapture.” Shine notes sourly, and tightens the grip around his stunner. “In this case, they will start hunting us down from the air and o the ground simultaneously soon.”

Myah pulls a set of daggers from her boots.
“This is all the weaponry I have on me.” she says, and Shine nods.
“I only have my stunner, and additionally, I am very hungry. We cannot outlast them.”

The Vampire clicks her teeth against the metal ring through her lower lip, and spins a dagger in her hand.
“I may have an idea.” she says. “It is risky, but it may be the only opportunity we have.”
Shine hisses, faintly sensing the telepathic presence of other Wraith closeby.
“Speak quickly,” he implores her.

“If they start a ground offensive, as you said, we may be able to stealth past them, and steal a Dart. A fully functional one.” she suggests. “You can fly us somewhere safe, preferably with access to a Stargate, and we can go... Home, I suppose.”
“We may have to engage in combat. My self-healing abilities are at a low point, if I get injured...”

Myah cuts him off.
“Then you feed on me, and dematerialize me again.” she says, punctuating her statement with a brief nod. “We do not have much time. Let's move.”
A throaty snarl is Shine's only comment, and he hurries to keep up with her.

Myah moves swiftly, without leaving any obvious traces or sound. Once they reach a less dry landscape, littered with forests and rock formations, Shine notices her moving strategically, using canopies and shadowed areas for cover. For the Darts circling above them like vultures, they're almost invisible.
“Do you sense them on the ground yet?” she asks him, her voice a half-whisper.
“I do.” he responds. “Five of them, four Drones and one Commander. I can't risk localizing them without giving away my own position.”

She stops running, and crouches down behind a thick treestump.
“Have they been on the ground for long?” she asks, as he joins her, mimicking her posture.
“A few minutes at most.”
“Good. Then localize them anyway. They will be near their Dart, and it is our best bet of commandeering one.” she instructs, and Shine feels the involuntary impulse to assume his submissive form, reserved for his Queen.

“Very well.” he hisses instead, and closes his eyes for a brief moment, focusing on the Commander's strong presence, trying to pinpoint it down. The presence responds to his attempt in connecting, and nearly yanks him into the contact. “To the west.” he says out loud. “Moving toward us. He knows I'm there.”

“Let's meet them halfway.” Myah growls, and Shine briefly sees an expression akin to hunger in her eyes, before she gets up and continues.
He blinks, and doesn't see her anymore.

Soundless and quick, she is, impossible to track down. That is a problem.
Shine feels the panic build in his chest, and his eyes dart around, trying to spot her between the thick foliage, but he can't.
His nostrils flare along with his sensory pits, and he picks up her faint scent, lingering where she had knelt, closes his eyes, and follows it.

The sound of a stunner firing has his eyes snapping open again, pupils dilating warily, and he whips around, just to see a Drone collapse on the ground, a few feet away from him.
Myah's form peels itself from the foliage, daggers covered in dark blood. She drags her tongue along the blade, licking the blood off.

“Do not fall behind.” she warns him, and he hurries to return to her side.
“You were too fast.” he informs her.
“You are too slow. We don't have time.” She points behind herself with her dagger. “The others approach from this direction. I observed their approach, while you were busy trying to locate me. I've also seen their Dart.”

“The Commander knows where I am.” Shine forces himself to remain calm, as he speaks. “We would do best to wait for them, and create an ambush here.”
“Agreed. Hide yourself, then.” she replies, and hurries into the direction she came from, vanishing in the bushes.

Shine allows himself to produce a rumbling noise of frustration, and slides behind a tree, pressing his back against the trunk. Then, he closes his eyes again, to feel for the Commander's approaching presence.

'You cannot hide from me, traitor.'

The voice pierces his conscience, and he rips his eyes open, just barely countering a Drone's strike, falsifying his rifle-butt's stab at his vitals. The Drone reacts quicker than he's have liked, spins the weapon, and jams it against Shine's throat, pinning him to the tree.
From the corner of his eye, he sees Myah dance around the Commander, lashing out with her daggers again and again.

Shine hisses at his adversary, presses the muzzle of his weapon into his side, and fires, twice, before the Drone goes limp.
Angrily, he works the rifle from his hands, spins it around, to use the pointy end as a melee weapon.

Myah isn't doing so good.
At this point, she is merely dodging strikes from the commander, and the two remaining Drones firing at her. Shine moves fast, and runs one of them through with the rifle. He groans, goes to his knees, and Shine pushes him down, stomping down hard on his head until it cracks.

Immediately, he has to evade another blue jolt, fired by the surviving Drone. Moving in zig-zags, he approaches, yanking the rifle out of his previous foe as he goes, and they striking the new one over the head with it.
The moment the Drone uses to gather himself, Shine utilizes by pushing him to his knees, and pressing the rifle against his neck until it snaps.

Breathing heavily, he turns around to aid Myah with the Commander, but she's not fighting anymore.
Instead, the Commander is limp in her arms, and her mouth latched to his throat.

Shine feels a cold sensation run down his spine, as she finally releases her enemy-.. no, her prey, and the Commander sinks to the ground, lifelessly.
His eyes are wide open in terror, pupils blown wide, both hands curled into claws. Shine averts his gaze.

“Are you hurt?” she asks, and wipes the blood off her chin.
“No.” he breathes. “The Dart?”
“This way.”

Her step is less rushed now, but she still keeps up her tactic of hiding from aerial attackers. She leads him to a small clearing with, as promised, a neatly landed Dart, in presumably perfect condition.

“Here. Let's get off this planet.” she says, and her smile shows teeth.
“I will dematerialize you again-...” Shine begins, as she climbs into the cockpit, but is stopped by her shaking her head.
“No. It might get crowded in there, but we will be on the run for a long time. I will join you, in case the hunger overcomes you. If it does, and you crash, you will kill us both.” she explains her reasoning, and nonchalantly climbs into the Dart in front of him, settling between his legs.

Shine awkwardly clears his throat, and reaches past her, to access the controls. She's shorter than him, so he has no issues seeing the displays.
“Will you be alright with that?” he asks, and she looks over her shoulder, dried blood still in the corners of her mouth.
“I fed. I will live.” she assures him, well aware of how disturbed he is by that sight.

Shine enters the command to close the cockpit, and takes off. A faint glow lies on the controls, and it takes him a moment to realize that it originates from Myah's eyes.
Nocturnal predator, he thinks, and shifts uncomfortably against her back.

“Are you quite comfortable?” she asks, and he snarls lightly at her. “Ah, you'll live. I'm certain you've been in worse situations.”
“As a matter of fact, I have.” he graces her with a response. “We're leaving the atmosphere. Things may get a lot less comfortable now.”
Case and point, he swerves sharply to avoid a salvo of fire from at least five Darts, falling into pursuit.

“I trust in your flying skills.” Myah comments, but he does notice her tensing up. Not so stoic after all, is she.
Shine's palm burns painfully, but he doesn't dare to lift it from the controls to feed.

“The good news is, we picked up Shine's subspace transmitter signal.” Ivory announces to the group. “The bad news is, he started moving.”
“And the ugly news – Euridice is on his tracks now, too.” Helena adds. “From what we know, he's likely in a Dart, or an equally small ship, and if she finds him before we do, he's dead.”

Nobody misses Silverlight's claws digging into the armrests of his seat.
“How far away is he?” he asks, pressed forth between clenched teeth.
“From us? Another four days in hyperspace.” Helena replies, and sits down next to Ivory. “But, Euridice is closer to us. We can cut her path before she reaches him.”

“If my information is correct,” Guide chimes in from the other end of the room. “last time you encountered her in combat, you fled.”
A surprised shifts goes through the room, as Helena openly and intentionally snarls at him. He even leans away from her somewhat.

“That will not happen again.” she hisses. “I showed weakness, but she won't be so lucky this time. I plan to board her ship and tearing her apart personally. And then, I will take her ship.”
She withdraws her hand from the table, having felt Ivory gently touch it.

“Captain,” Erinya speaks up, awkwardly shuffling around to hide the fact that she's moved protectively between her and Guide. “if we are to take her ship, we will either have to slaughter her crew, or convince them that you are the better leader. And mind you, she has an entire fleet backing her.”

“I'm aware. It's only her flagship on Shine's heels for now.” Helena still sounds angry, but less hostile. “I will challenge her to a duel for her ship, and her life. If they see me win, they will submit.”
“And if you lose?” Guide inquires, earning another searing glance.
“Then I die, and you destroy her ship.” she answers and Ivory sucks in air sharply.

“Let us not consider this, apart from a worst case scenario.” she says,”Helena knows Euridice, and she is also older than her. I am certain she can do this... physically.”
“Physically.” Silverlight parrots.
“Yes. As I said, they are old friends, and-...”

“We'll discuss this particular part once she's dealt with.” Helena stops her. “For now, let's focus our efforts on preventing her from blasting your Commander into oblivion.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

“My Queen, I have instructed the Hive to fall into pursuit as well. We should catch up to them in a few hours.” Silverlight reports, just having returned from taking a quick call outside.
“Good.” Ivory acknowledges, and Silverlight returns to his usual seat, near Erinya and Guide.

The Base Ship is running at maximum speed. Everyone, including Nova, is gathered on the bridge, and Helena is pacing restlessly by the window. She's armed, two short swords holstered on her back, and a simple handgun on her belt, ready to duel Euridice.
Physically, yes. Mentally... maybe.

Ivory is watching her pace, her expression blank, as she sits by the master console, monitoring the hyperdrive.
Like a satellite, Nova is orbiting her, gravitating towards her, never daring to stray further than a few feet. Her hands are clasped together in front of her chest, her entire posture hunched.
She looks small, and she looks hurt.

“The Hive is within sensor range. They report there being two ships. No sign of Shine's vessel yet.” Silverlight addresses the whole bridge, and loses the honorific.
“If they're in sensor range for the Hive, the Hive will also be for them.” Erinya adds. “Are they firing?”

Silverlight repeats the question to his communicator, and shakes his head.
“No. They are also not moving.” he says, looking just as confused about this development as Erinya.
“Tell them to hold their position until we arrive.” Ivory orders, and Silverlight relays her order.

“According to the subspace transmitter signal, Shine is moving toward us.” Guide exclaims, without even looking up from his screen. “I suspect he knows where his Hive is, and tries to return home.”
“You are correct. I outfitted his tablet with a direct link to our navigational data. He knows where the Hive is.” Ivory confirms, and turns to Helena, who has stopped pacing.

“Which means, our plan is trashed.” she concludes. “I counted on us catching up to Euridice before she gets to Shine, but at this rate, Shine will reach her before we do.”

“We are almost there.” Shine breathes, trying not to pay attention to the searing pain at his core. “I can endure.”
“How long until we reach your Hive?” Myah asks, looking over her shoulder, and he angles his head, to avoid her seeing his strained expression.

“I cannot say. There's … another energy reading, likely another ship ahed.” he responds. “We may have to avoid weapons again.”
“It might be Helena's base.” Myah suggests. “You are shaking, Shine.”

His hands tense hard around the Dart's controls, as he forces them still; his knuckles turning white under the pressure.
“I can endure.” he repeats.
“I saw the bruise on your neck. You got hit straight to the throat, so you had to quickly mend it, didn't you?” Shine feels Myah's hand lock around his right wrist as she speaks. “And you were already starving, am I correct? You cannot endure.”

He growls, electing not to grant her an answer, and attempts focusing on the Dart, connecting his mind further to the machine, closing his eyes, trying to make the ship feel like an extension of his body.
This usually calms him. Whenever he flies risky missions, whenever he feels panic, fight-or-flight instinct threatening to take over, the flawless, streamlined logic of a Dart's controls helps him keep his composure.

But this is different, he realizes. It's not a matter of the mind. It is his body, painfully rebelling against his self-destructive behavior.
The hunger flares brighter, and when he opens his eyes briefly, the back of Myah's head blurs in front of him, a dark, amber spot in the flesh-colored smudge that is the interior of the Dart.
Pain surges, and he has to claw hard into the controls to avoid blacking out completely.

He must've made noises, because Myah's iron grip pulls his hand from the controls, toward her chest.
“Feed on me,” she says. “or you will kill us both.”

His off hand readjusts its grip, and he moves his feeding hand to her, the last few inches on his own volition.
“This will hurt.” he warns, as his palm rests on her skin, sinews flexing against the urge to feed.
“I know.” is her simple response, and that's all he can take.

He almost already tastes her essence, when he clamps his feeding slit against her collarbone, his claws setting and biting into skin.
Then, all inhibitions break, and he feeds.

A Vampire's life feels different than a human's. Thicker. Heavier. While it feels like he siphons one year at a time from a human, this makes him feel like he draws decades from her by the second, the many years she's lived, resilient and rough, yet incredibly flavorful.
Her essence surges through his body, and he feels the pain fade with every beat his heavy heart forces.

It takes every ounce of willpower to focus on flying the ship, instead of losing himself in the feeling of Myah going limp, suffering under his hand.
Her strength and power, her, a silent killer, a predator, becoming his prey.

Shine snarls, and pulls back.
His palm feels cold, wet with blood against the cool interior of the ship. He hears his own blood rushing, deafening him for a moment, and when he collects himself, he feels Myah's flat breaths, rattling like an old man on his death bed.

“Will you live?” he asks her, his voice sounding disproportionately calm to his mind.
“I may not.” she gasps, and directs his attention to his screen again. “This is not Helena.”

Shine reacts in a split second, avoiding a crimson red beam of energy.
“Look out!” Myah calls out, and Shine loops around a secondary attack, then arcs over the ship to assess his situation from above.

It doesn't work too well.
The ship appears to have an array of weapons, firing individually at him. Once he outmaneuvers one, another forces him to nearly barrel-roll out of the beam.
He loses count of how many beams they can fire at once.

One beam scrapes alongside the dart, and Shine hisses.
“Lost secondary thrusters – I cannot dodge anymore!” he informs her, and goes straight for a dive. “We will not survive a direct hit.”
Out of habit, he accepts a small communication prompt appearing on his screen, and immediately yanks the Dart out of its dive when he recognizes the voice on the other end of the line.

“Commander, this is Ash.” it sounds from the console. “We are releasing Darts to escort you.”
“Recall them, assault the ship instead!” he hisses back.
“There are two ships, Commander.”

Shine's eyes flicker back to his screens.
“It's hiding in the bigger one's shade.” Myah whispers, still sounding pained. “Like us before.”

“My Dart is damaged. I cannot-...” He is interrupted crudely.
“We are detecting another Hyperspace window.” Ash states, and a brief silence follows, cut by the heavy rumble of a Dart taking the hit for Shine's incapacitated one. “Hold your position, Commander.”

“Shine, this is your Queen. Do you read me?” Another familiar voice, and Shine's heart sinks, while he feels Myah tense.
“I do, my Queen. It is good to hear your voice.” he replies, and delights in the small chuckle he elicits from Ivory.
“Likewise. Listen, I want you to head straight for the enemy, full speed. We have locked on to you and your passenger, and will beam you on board as soon as the command is locked in.”

Shine's fingers dance over the console's surface lighter than ever, as he programs the course, and feels the vessel speed up, just before severing his mental connection to it.

“We are ready.” he says, and feels the world fade.

When Shine's vision clears up, he finds himself standing on the Vampire ship's bridge, with Myah passed out to his feet.
His eyes dart around the room, glimpsing many unfamiliar faces, but his gaze quickly locks on the one he recognizes.

Silverlight gets up from his seat, and for a moment, even Shine's devotion to his Queen is forgotten. He moves toward him too, meeting him halfway, and their off hands lock. The cleverman regards him so warmly, so intimately, as their minds reconnect, forgetting where they are for a brief moment, before letting go and stepping back.

“Good to have you back, Commander.” he says out loud, but his mind conveys much more to Shine.
Pain. Yearning. Fear. A searing hatred with the memory of seeing Guide exchange gentle looks with that Vampire, while he suffers in uncertainty.
Shine breathes, and turns to face the Captain of the ship, armed to the teeth and kneeling beside Myah.

“I fed on her to survive our journey here” he informs her. “She will live, but I suggest taking her to your holds.”
The woman looks up, about to speak, but another steps in, a girl with flaming red hair, radiating heat from her body.

“No need. She can feed on me.” She reassuringly places a hand on the Captain's shoulder. “Go. I will care for her.”

“Go where?” Shine asks flatly, but the Captain vanishes before his eyes, beamed away before she can respond.
“We have negotiated a brief truce.” his Queen explains to him. “Helena will duel the enemy's Captain on their ship. That is why they stopped firing on us.”
“What stops them from just fleeing the scene, as soon as she is on board?” Shine inquires, not quite believing that his Queen could agree to such a thing.
Instead of alarm, he just sees a knowing smile on her face, and she turns to the big window behind them.

It flickers, and a live video feed appears on the glass, Helena, the Captain, standing before another Vampire, honey-haired, with a vicious smile on her lips.

“I see, we have video contact now, my dear.” the honey-haired says, her soft tone dripping with sarcasm. “Shall we begin our deadly dance?”
The sharp noise of unsheathing blades sounds, and Shine sees Myah rise to her feet in his peripheral vision.

“May I have this dance, then?” Helena, the Captain, plays along with the charade.

They bow, and a split second later, blades clash.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

Both of them carry weapons, Helena with her short swords, and her opponent, Euridice, with a set of ornate scimitars. Circling each other, never breaking eye contact, they remain, while Ivory clamps her hands closed, staring at the video feed.

A tense calm has fallen over the bridge; no one dares to disrupt it, while the sound of the duelists' steps seems to align with their heartbeats.

Every fiber of Helena's being is painfully alert, as she watches, observing for that one twitch, that single, tiny movement to hint at an attack, but Euridice just continues her slow gait, clearly enjoying keeping her on her toes.
Helena wants to look at Euridice's screen, seek approval from her companions, but she knows, one single break of attention could be fatal.

Euridice smirks. She's not going to be the first to attack, well aware of Helena's feelings about this entire situation, not afraid to exploit that.
Stopping in her tracks, Helena shifts into combat stance, lightly hunched, like a cat, ready to pounce, and pulls her upper lip back slightly, in a silent snarl.

Her opponent mimics her, and twirls her scimitar, eager to sink it into flesh.

“I loved you once.” Helena hisses.
Then she lunges forward.

Again, their blades clash, but this time, neither of them pulls back. Helena's left strike is easily parried, and she sweeps at Euridice's ankles, attempting to sway her balance, but instead, she just forces her back a few feet.
Euridice twirls, gaining momentum, as she strikes her again, and Helena has trouble parrying. Hissing, teeth bared, she pushes against the blade with her full weight, then manages to retreat without taking a hit.

She's now crouching, looking up to Euridice's courtly form while appearing almost feral herself. A sharp hiss draws her attention briefly, and she realizes that Ivory had breathed in hard, and started holding her breath.

Euridice utilizes the brief distraction, and before Helena can counter, her blade drags along her neck, over her chest; pain burning, and the wet sensation of blood running down her skin threatens to take Helena's focus again, but she steadies herself.
Her foe has jumped back after delivering the hit, to avoid retaliation.

Helena feels the gash close, and looks up to face Euridice again.
“First blood is yours, Helena.” she hums, and lifts her blade to lick Helena's blood off it.
A stir goes through Helena's body, but she stifles it.

“It doesn't matter.” she responds, and strafes to the side, to flank her. Euridice spins just in time to deflect her blow, but Helena knows that she caught her off guard, as her secondary blade digs into her side.
She hisses, and drops her main weapon, to lock her hand around Helena's wrist, effectively keeping her sword stuck inside, but immobilizing her as well.
Her secondary weapon descends upon her, and Helena blocks it, barely having enough time to do so, thus having her blade slide past hers, on the flatter side, unhindered by the guard, and digging into her arm at an angle.

The pain reaches her late, and Euridice surrenders her second scimitar as well, to grab Helena by the hair, and drag her close.
A faint gasp leaves her lips, as she feels her fangs dig into her neck, the metal adornments on Euridice's lower lip pressing against her skin.

Her extremities are consumed by a cold numbness as Euridice drains her, and Helena struggles weakly, hearing Ivory's outcry through the pounding of her pulse in her temples.
In a stroke of genius, she twists her blade, still stuck in Euridice's side, feeling warm blood gush over her icy hand, as she pulls out of the bite.

“You loved me once.” she hisses, blood dripping from her chin, and Helena jams her secondary sword between her ribs, and lashes out to sink her own fangs into Euridice's neck.

She drinks, and it tastes bitter against her tongue. Warmth returns to her body, and the scent of her perfume in her nose feels like another stab with a blade. Nausea rises in her chest, but Helena forces herself to take back what Euridice took, letting go much later then she can bear.

“Not anymore.” she whispers, as she forces her to her knees, pressing her blade to he throat. She knows, she has to kill her.

Euridice's body heat feels like fire against her thighs, while she holds her upright, crimson flooding over the tiled floor, as blood seeps from her wounds.

“We will see about that,” Euridice croaks, and Helena feels the firmness of her body dissolve, a blinding light taking her sight for a few seconds.
When it fades, Helena finds herself alone among Euridice's crew, standing in a pool of blood.

Shaky breaths leave her, as she looks at them, trying to swallow away the taste of Euridice's blood.

“She fled.” Helena states, “Your Captain fled from an honorable duel for this ship. You know what this means.”

“The other Vampire ship just jumped into hyperspace,” she hears Erinya's voice report through the video feed, but she doesn't lift her gaze off the crew.

“It means you're mine now. She fought on your behalf, and she fled. I win. If you have a shred of decency, you will submit.” she continues.
“She'll come back,” says one of them, a young boy from what Helena can tell, honey-haired just like her. “She won't forsake us.”

“She just did.” Helena responds. This child is likely one of Euridice's many students, turned by her, nurtured by her. She only picks those resembling herself, so she can pass them off as biological children.

“It's your choice, boy.” Helena continues. “Join my fleet, or die for your Captain. She wasn't ready to give her life for yours. Why would you do that for her?”

Fear in their eyes, leaderless and forsaken. Helena feels bad for them, and sheathes her swords.
“You didn't know that she had this failsafe, did you? I had none.” Helena begins pacing before them as she speaks. “I came here risking my life. She only risked yours.”

“That Wraith...” another speaks up. “She'll kill us.”
“She might. If I don't get to her first.” Helena bares her fangs. “My alliance opposes her. I will not rest until Queen Death is dealt with. I stood tall against her from the beginning. Regain your pride. Join me.”

Silence falls for a few, long seconds, before the honey-haired boy speaks again.
“We need a Captain.” he says, stepping forth from the crowd. “And you will return to your ship.”
“I have a Captain for you.” Helena responds, and allows herself a gentle smile.
She closes the distance between herself and the boy, reaching out to touch his cheek, her stained fingers smearing him with Euridice's blood.

“I don't know what Euridice promised you when she turned you.” she follows up. “But I can give you agency, at the very least. You will lead this ship, and report to me, as Captain in my fleet. Do not be afraid. You are still under my protection. But I will allow you to grow. To learn.”

He looks up to her, wide-eyed like a cornered deer. Helena retracts her hand from him, and angles her head.
“What's your name, young one?” she asks him.
“It's Vincent.” he replies, his voice gaining firmness.
“Then I officially name you Captain of this Ship, Vincent.” she declares. “And myself, Admiral.”

Things are taken care of, Helena is back on her own ship, contact data is exchanged, along with everything Euridice's database has on the Unyielding Thirst.
An uneasy calm has fallen, and Silverlight returns to his quarters, after hours upon hours of sifting through the heaps of data, together with Guide and Erinya.

They're both still taking apart the contraptions Euridice's crew had worn to shield them, along with Shine's bracelet.

Shine.
There he is, on his mind again.

Together, they had lead their haywire mess of a crew through the ages, after Silverlight's controversial research got him exiled, and Shine's failure in keeping his previous Queen safe had him sentenced to death.
Two forsaken ones, embarrassments for their kin, they had been.

It's easy, alone on their Hive, queenless and outcast, to court someone outside their caste. A cleverman and a blade, usually prone to raising eyebrows, but there, without any supervision, it hardly ever mattered.
How relieved Silverlight had been, when he learned that their new Queen is just as much of a misfit as everyone else on their Hive is.
Courting outside her species, she would be the last to forbid his courtship to Shine.

Shine, with the golden glint in his eyes, earning him his name.

The doors open, but Silverlight doesn't have to turn around to notice who it is. Shine's mental presence envelops his, like a warm blanket.

'Forgive me.' he feels him speak, and does turn to face him.

Shine has always been prone to hiding his face, whenever interacting with anyone, ashamed of the gnarled scar drawn across his cheek, but never with him.
Silverlight steps closer and traces the rugged texture with his fingertips.

'There is nothing to forgive.' he conveys to Shine. 'I am merely thankful to see you unharmed.'

He purrs in response, and Silverlight feels a tug on his feeding hand, shortly before Shine's fingers intertwine with his. Warmth floods him, as he feels Shine's feeding organ touch his, and suckle lightly. He lets his own flare open, and leans forward, to rest his head against his shoulder.

Shine's off hand pets his hair, Silverlight hums. He knows, Shine loves his hair, the way the light reflects off it, the ethereal, silver glow whenever he sits by a console, the light illuminating his form in the dark interior of their Hive.

Names are never a coincidence for Wraith.
Neither are theirs. Shine and Silverlight, tokens of love and adoration, given to each other, to signify their union.
Pulling back, Silverlight makes eye contact, delighted to see that playful, golden shimmer in his consort's eyes, finally living up to his name again, after so much dullness and worry.

He hisses faintly, and latches his feeding organ to Shine's palm, tingling heat spreading between them, and the damp feeling of enzyme dripping from their fingers.

For now, the world feels right again.

“I remember you.”

Nova flinches hard, and she turns, a snarl drawing her upper lip back.
Quickly, she forces herself to look as indifferent as possible, realizing that there is no immediate threat, and makes a valiant attempt to recall this person before her.

She's a Vampire, clearly, looking rugged, tattered, with a blood stained collar testifying that she's been fed on recently. Nothing feels particularly familiar, except that Nova has seen her on the bridge, beamed in with Ivory's Commander.

“You don't know me.” she continues, in response to Nova's inquisitive glance. “I am Myah, formerly a Captain. Also, formerly under the sway of your sister.”

Nova stiffens, as the mention of Death sends a jolt of fear through her nerves.
“You know me.” she whispers. “She made you hurt me.”
The Vampire nods solemnly.

“Yes. She did.” Slowly creeping closer, she sits down next to her. Nova surpresses the urge to shrink away from her. “She made me hurt many people. My own included.”
“Why are you here?” Nova asks, not managing to banish the hiss from her voice.

“Because I saw you. Strapped down and sedated. I do not believe you remember it, your mind was too clouded. But I saw you there, looking up at me.” She bats her eyes. “I did not want to hurt you. So I didn't, I excused myself, but I also saw that someone else took my place. I'm here because I want to apologize, and thank you.”

“Thank me?” Nova parrots.
“Yes. It is your pain that gave me the courage to resist. To bring my knowledge here, so that we may defeat Death.” Myah speaks slowly, as if the words feel heavy on her tongue. “What you suffered through, will be avenged. I swear it.”

Vengeance? Nova shudders.
Back on Atlantis, it'd felt like a solid plan, but now, it pains her to think about.
The hunger prangs in her chest, flashes of fire searing through her flesh like phantom pains, remains of prolonged exposure to the Unyielding Thirst, kept alive by machines only.

She knows, this will never leave her. Even if Death falls, these scars may never fade.

“I just want her to stop this.” she finally admits, and Myah nods again.
“I understand.” the Vampire replies, sounding as tired as Nova feels, before she gets up and leaves again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

“Admiral Helena. It sounds nice enough.” Ivory finally speaks.
She's sitting on the windowsill in their quarters, looking over to her lover, deep in thought, tracing the freshly healed cuts left by her duel.

“It does.” Helena responds, oddly somber, and looks up to her.
“You did well.” Ivory adds.
“She got away, didn't she?” Helena sighs, and moves to sit beside her.

“She did. But you also won over an entire ship, without any unnecessary bloodshed.” Ivory soothes her, pulling her close, and draping an arm around her waist. Helena leans into her touch.
“I didn't want this, Ivory.” she whispers, and for a moment, Ivory is almost certain she's about to cry.

“I know, my love. I know.” she whispers.

Helena remains silent, but reaches over, to pull Ivory onto her lap, then resigns to rest her head against her collar.
Softly, but clearly audible, Ivory hears her faint sound of stifled sobs, shaking Helena's body in brief intervals. She runs her hands up and down her lover's spine, and presses her lips against her head, encouraging her to let herself go.

It doesn't take long until Helena is unapologetically crying against her, weeks of emotional strain breaking out of her at once.
Sorrow is one of those emotions she's prone to suppressing. Anger is much easier to handle. Less painful, less choking.
A quick, easily smothered flame, not this slow, painful smoldering eating away at her insides.
So, Helena avoids dealing with it, until it gets too much to handle.

“She was one of us,” she weeps, after several minutes. She feels dizzy, her head aches, bu Ivory's continuous caress on her back help.
“She was.” Ivory responds softly.
“How could she do this? How could she betray us like this? We've been her friends for aeons, how can she just throw that away?” Helena's voice is shrill, and wet with tears.
“I do not know, my love.” Ivory whispers to her.

“Death took everything from us.” she sobs, and Ivory grabs her shoulders, to straighten her posture, and look her in the eyes.
“That is not true, love. We have each other. We have my hive, and your ship.” she reminds her, sounding gentle but firm. “We have friends and allies that stand with us. And, we have Myah back. Who's to say that Euridice will not see reason eventually, like she did? Not everything is lost to Death, love, and I will not allow you to fall into despair like this. We have things worth fighting for.”

Helena looks like a mess, red splotchy skin, cheeks puffy with tears and bloodshot eyes, but she nods. Swallowing hard, breathing deeply for a few moments, she looks at Ivory, and her fire returns partially.

“You're right.” she says, nodding, as if to emphasize.
Ivory cups her cheek affectionately, and leans in to press a brief kiss on her lips.
“Do not forget: I am with you. You will not bear this burden alone.” she assures her

“Hey.” Guide looks up, slightly disoriented, when Erinya addresses him, and places a hand on his sleeve. “We've been working on this for hours. Maybe we should call it a night.”

He makes an indecipherable noise in response, and enters the command to shut down his workstation. She's right. Letters have begun to blur before his eyes. Right now, continuing his work doesn't make much sense.

“We're in a good position, with Helena's victory over Euridice. There's no need to push past our limits.” Erinya adds, and shuts down her own station as well. “Let's go and rest up.”
He gets up and follows her, silently walking through the hallways of the base ship, past his previous quarters.

She stops before her doors, and swipes to open them. Stepping in, Guide finds himself recalling the night they'd spent together, her body, burning with heat, pressed against his.
He almost operates on autopilot when he reaches out, and pulls her toward him.

A blissful smile ghosts over her lips, before she locks them against his.
Guide closes his eyes, and lets her lean against his form, the warmth seeping easily through his heavy leathers. He tastes the cinders of her fire on her tongue, and is almost ready to lose himself again, when she pulls away.

She's smiling again, her fingers trail over his cheek, and eventually move to tangle with his hair.

“With the data we've received, we may very well be able to survive this war.” he finally speaks, the content of his statement dissonant to his tone.
“We may.” she confirms, running her nails against his scalp. “I'll admit, my... confession to you was more of a bucket list-item I crossed off. If I didn't think we had less than a few months to live, I might not have been as honest as I was.”

“Why?” he simply asks, and catches a glimpse of the familiar flush on her face, even though she doesn't seem uncomfortable.
“I was afraid of rejection.” she admits, and Guide elects not to responding verbally.

Instead, he spins her around, and pins her against the closed door, holding seconds of intense eye contact, before pushing against her, and kissing her again.
Somehow, she manages to grab his feeding hand, and maneuver it between them, pressing against her chest.

Guide feels the familiar feeling of hunger flare up inside him, but not in the usual, painful manner. More desire than need, he relishes in it, setting his claws on her skin, and clamping his feeding organ on her.
Their kiss breaks, and he siphons energy out of her, a slow trickle from her system into his, and he sees her close her eyes, roll her head back to lean it against the door.

“You enjoy this,” he almost accuses her, and she sighs softly.
“I do.” she whispers. “You do too.”
“I am supposed to enjoy it.” he defends himself, biting back a surprisingly needy hiss as he speaks.

“Am I not? This is keeping me alive as much as you.” She opens her eyes again. “And in addition, it stopped hurting a long time ago.”
“You nearly fainted the first time I fed upon you.” he reminds her.
“I was close to dying of my fever at this point in time, and you were starving.” she clarifies. “You weren't exactly gentle.”

He instantly stops feeding, but lets his hand remain on her body.
“We were both dying.” he says.
“Yes. And we saved each other. As we do every day now.” She reaches out and her thumb circles his right sensory pit. “I've become used to it, and once I got over the pain, I started appreciating the intimacy of it. It feels like... you're holding my heart in your hand.”

“I am.” He cannot banish the smirk from his face. “Literally and figuratively.”

Erinya chuckles, and gives him a light shove, causing him to retreat backward, until he feels the edge of the bed against the backs of his shins.
“I wonder,” she muses. “are you even aware of the power you hold over me?”
“I don't. I am not in control. I never was.” he denies, but she shakes her head, before giving him another push, to make him fall on his back, into the sheets.

“The things I would let you do to me.” she whispers, her tone smooth and seductive, as she straddles him and trails kisses from his jaw down to the collar of his coat. “I adore you, Guide. You can't even imagine it.”

He lets his hands trail along her sides, feeling the familiar burn of his body heat against his palm.
“I believe I can.” he responds, just briefly before she kisses him.
She's growing bolder, and he likes that development. It's not in his nature to take charge the way he did before.
This. This is what he's used to, what he's comfortable with, pinned down underneath her, moaning softly into a kiss.
The need to encourage her fills him, and he breaks the kiss.

“What do you want?” he asks her, feeling her breath against his lips.
“You.” is her simple response and he smirks.
“Then take me.”

Erinya seems taken aback by this for a second, but quickly regains her composure. The closing wound on her chest still tingles pleasantly, and Guide has no idea how incredibly... appetizing he looks to her, pinned down, flushed in a deep emerald hue, hair fanning around his head like a halo.

What a wonderful way to unwind after hours worth of work, she thinks, and reaches down his collar, unclasping his heavy coat, fortunately having remembered how he'd done it a few days prior. Once she has access, she pushes his undershirt up, and leans down to trail kisses over his stomach, down to the band of his trousers.

She knows, he's watching her with halted breath. In a way, she begins to agree with him. This is power she's exerting over him right now, and he's letting her.
A low rumble sets his chest in motion, and Erinya smiles. She made him purr.

“You're like a cat.” she whispers, and feels him chuckle briefly.
“It's an automated response. I cannot control it much.” he admits and Erinya's smile widens. Even better.
“A response to pleasure?” she inquires.
“Usually. Anything pleasant, in fact.” he explains. “Newborns sometimes purr when they feed.”

She giggles, and toys with the clasp on his pants.
“That really is a lot more adorable than it should.” she says, and unfastens them with a swift click.
“I can hardly suppress it when I feed on you.” he reveals, his voice having gained a darker tone, and Erinya feels a pleasant shiver run through her entire body.

“Well then, maybe you shouldn't.” she replies, and cups his erection with one hand. He rewards her with a low hiss, but doesn't move. She can't help but admire his self control.

“Maybe I won't.” he rumbles.

Erinya feels a rush of pride, for being able to elicit such responses from him, when she finally pushes her hand down his underwear, and strokes him a few times. He hisses again, sharper this time, and she sees his chest rise and fall heavily.

“Tell me what you want.” she demands, eager to hear his voice, trying to articulate something coherent.
“Whatever you'll give me.” His response is most satisfactory.

Her hand tightens around his shaft, and she makes a beckoning gesture with her other one. Obediently eager, he sits up, though it looks like it takes a lot of effort. Wordlessly, she pulls him in, nicking a small wound into his lower lip with her fang, then capturing the tiny droplet of blood with her tongue.

The taste makes her tense up heavily, as it spreads in her mouth. It's been a very long time since Erinya's last tasted blood, so it takes her entirely off guard. She reopens the already healed wound, and sucks on it, hungrily lapping up the tiny amount of liquid it sheds.

Still a Vampire at heart, she notes, and releases Guide from her tight grip, just to yank his underwear down as well.
There's an embarrassing amount of hurry in her movement, as she rids herself of obstructing clothing, not caring much about her top.
Guide moans hoarsely, when she presses herself against his length, letting the ridges grind against her. It's electrifying.

She licks blood off her lips, and looks him in the eyes, breathing heavily. He looks like an absolute mess, barely holding himself together.
“Bite me.” he rasps, and she obliges without a second of hesitation.

Muscle memory is on her side, sinking her fangs into his skin feels as natural as breathing. Not out of practice, after all. Blood spills, but freshly fed, he heals far too quick for her. It doesn't matter much.
Throwing her head back, she feels a trickle of blood running down her neck, from the corner of her mouth.
Guide has the brilliant idea to kiss it away, and Erinya melts under his lips, rolls her hips against him, relishing in the sudden shudder that runs through him.

“I can't-...” she breathes, grinding against him again, seeking friction.
He moves quickly, shifting under her, and Erinya's eyes snap open.

Positioned accordingly, he grasps her hips, and slowly eases her down, watching her react intensely to penetration.
With each ridge entering her, Erinya arches more, whimpering with need, until Guide is finally, fully sheathed inside her.
As expected, she feels unbearably hot around his erection, and he takes a moment to catch his breath, and assess her status.

Out of order would be an accurate descriptor.
She's collapsed against his chest, shaking, nails digging into his shoulder, hard enough to bruise. However, she recovers much quicker than he'd have liked, tensing around him, and grinding impatiently.
He hisses, and joins in, complimenting her movement with his own.

She swears profusely, and pulls him into a kiss. The ridges drive her mad, but she's well aware that her heat does the same to him. He pricks himself on her fangs again, and the taste of blood has her nearly convulsing.
He breaks the kiss, and lifts his feeding hand from her hip, up to her chest. The pain of the incision shoots through her body like lightning, and he connects to her.

The sensation of having her life drained floods her system, and Erinya moans, leaning into his touch, her hips snap against his.
It's too much for her.

She cries out, something halfway from his name to a swear word, and the vision goes white, her orgasm rippling through her in waves, leading to her entire body tensing, tightening around him. There's a buzz in her ears when she recovers, but she still hears him snarl with pleasure, as he loses himself too, his off hand on her hip pressing her against him as he comes.

Heavy breaths in unison, they remain this way, pressed up against each other, until they eventually unravel somewhat, his touch feeling more gentle, and less needy on her body.

“What was I afraid of?” she whispers, after collecting herself.
“A very good question.” he responds, and sinks down on his back, pulling her along.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

“My Queen.”

Death's glance shifts to her, when Euridice formally addresses her. Cold, her reptile eyes focus her, and Euridice feels heaviness in her chest.
She goes down on her knees, staring at the floor as she speaks, not willing to face the Queen's glare.

“I have failed. Helena defeated me in an honorable duel, and I had to flee to preserve my life.” she reports, doing her best to sound firm. “My children were accompanying me, and beamed me out, before she should deliver the killing blow. I must expect that she either took my ship and crew for herself, or destroyed it.”

The corner of Death's mouth twitches with annoyance, and her claws drum on the armrests of her throne a few times.
“You come to me with word of your defeat, Euridice.” she finally speaks to her, and gets up, to circle the kneeling figure before her. “Nothing else? Are you wasting my time with this intel? Is there nothing else you can offer me?”

Euridice feels a tingling sensation on the back of her neck, as Death circles her, but forces herself to remain still.
“No, my Queen.” she responds. “I had both Helena's base, and my children's ship link to mine, in order to witness my duel. Janine managed to extract a few, essential pieces of data from Helena's navigational database.”

Death finishes her round, and stand before her again.
“Go on,” she purrs, and reaches out, her feeding hand caressing Euridice's jawline.
“We know the new coordinates of Atlantis. Nova's previous Hive was destroyed, and we believed they did with their knowledge, but now, we can retaliate.” Euridice hurries to explain.

“Mhm. It was on your order that these Hives tracked your adversary to the city.” Death's thumb flicks against her chin. “You have disappointed me twice now, but I do grant it to you that this intel helps your case. I may not kill you just yet.”

“I thank you, my Queen,-...” Euridice is cut off by Death placing her thumb on her lips.
“However,” she continues, “I do intend to deter you from disappointing me in the future, Euridice. You must receive punishment.”

Death's pupils have fanned outward, and she glances down to her servant's shaking form, kneeling before her. Euridice does her best to hide the blood-freezing fear about to overcome her, while Death tilts her head upward.

“Look at me.” she commands sweetly. “I wish to see the pain in your eyes.”
Her claws trail down her neck, leaving red marks on her skin. Euridice has not had time to feed since her escape, and the wounds Helena caused have just barely healed.

This is bad, shoots through her mind, as Death settles her hand on her chest, almost gentle, knowing that Euridice won't struggle.
Then, she feeds, and the pain sears through her veins, raw life being sucked out of her strained body. Death hisses, bares her teeth, and steadies Euridice's head by locking her hand around her neck. Shaking, Euridice endures, resisting the urge to fight, to tear that hand off her skin, well aware that any attempt to resist will cost her life.

Her entire body is numb, when Death finally releases her, and her vision has a grey tint. Gasping for air, she fails to hold herself upright, and collapses to her Queen's feet.

“Put her in a holding cell,” she hears Death command her Drones. “She will suffer, until I deem it fit to let her feed.”

“First of all, I would like to thank you all for accepting me back into your midst.” Myah is standing up by the the upper end of the conference table, flanked by Ivory and Helena. “I do know that my initial actions in this conflict caused many of your great pain, and I deeply, sincerely apologize for that. I am here to right this wrong, and I believe, I have a proposal in how to work toward that.”

“That being?” Helena asks, and motions to her, urging her to sit back down.
Myah nods, and takes her seat again, giving the group a brief survey.

“There are many unaffiliated Vampires in the Pegasus Galaxy. Those who never wanted to leave our homeworld, those who elected to settle on human worlds.” Myah explains. “I believe, if I play my cards right, I can recruit them for our cause. I have a reputation outside of this alliance, and if I manage to claim a ship, I can also hire a crew for it.”

“Another vessel to stand against Death's fleet is certainly an enticing idea, but where do you intend to find a new ship?” Guide chimes in. “I doubt you can easily build a new one.”

“I cannot.” Myah admits. “But, during Helena's and Ivory's first steps toward turning us into a spacefaring race, many prototypes of the current base ship model were discontinued. They're still there, on our homeworld, and if I am given the time and resources necessary, I can make them operational.”

“Do not mind my doubts, but how long has it been since these ships were built?” Guide continues, obviously attempting to be the critical voice of reason. “Not to mention that they were likely discontinued for a reason.”

“They were our first attempts in building spacecrafts from scratch.” Helena adds. “The early ones are still mostly Wraith-tech based. Guide, I don't doubt that, given enough time, Myah could build up a formidable fleet out of our scraps, but I what I do doubt is whether or not we have that time.”

“My first priority would be recruitment. Once I have manpower, my restoration of these ships will speed up drastically.” Myah says, and side-eyes Silverlight, who is skeptically regarding her. “However, since those early ships are mostly Wraith in nature, I would not decline help.”

“I do admit, studying these ships is intriguing to me.” Silverlight speaks up. “I simply wonder if my talents aren't needed elsewhere.”

“We still haven't finished taking apart Shine's bracelet.” Erinya notes. “And as good as Guide and I are when it comes to technology, we do need Silverlight.”

Ivory crosses her arms, exchanges a glance with Helena, then turns to Shine.
“Commander, what is your input on this?” she asks him, and he instantly shifts into a flawless, military-grade posture.

“My Queen, before you took us under your wing, Silverlight has single-handedly kept the Hive from falling apart.” he says. “If Myah needs an expert of Wraith spacecrafts, Silverlight is her best option.”
No one misses the eagerness in his voice, and the flashing glint in his eyes.

Silverlight looks almost flustered, as much as his stoic demeanor allows to shimmer through.

“I may have an idea.” Guide says, with that strange, 'Oh no, what's he up to now'-undertone, accompanied with a mischievous smirk. “Captain. You and Atlantis have established relations at this point, yes?”
“We didn't leave as enemies, if that's what you're asking.” Helena replies, one eyebrow raised curiously.
“That is as good a relationship one can develop with Atlantis.” Guide says. “I believe, Dr. McKay could be of assistance on our task. If we work with him, you can deploy Silverlight elsewhere.”

“McKay? That jittery, little... gremlin?” Helena asks, not very convinced, but Guide shakes his head.
“He may be exhausting to interact with, but I would advise against underestimating him. Believe me. I have worked with him before.” he states, entirely serious, and Helena chews on her lower lip.

“If we were to do this,” she begins, turning to Silverlight and Myah. “how fast could you get a decently-equipped fleet up and running?”
“That depends on the amount of workforce Myah can recruit. Under ideal conditions? A month.” Silverlight estimates.
“A month.” Helena hums.
“That is better than nothing at all, love.” Ivory notes. “It would not only get us a real chance at defending ourselves against Death, it would also strengthen our alliance to Atlantis.”
“Strengthen it?” Helena scoffs. “They'll never trust us.”
“No. I do not expect that. But, these contraptions will also shield humans from the Unyielding Thirst.” she notes. “Guide knows these people better than all of us. If he believes it to be possible, I vote we trust his judgement.”

“I have some loose ends in Atlantis myself.” Erinya says. “Might not be a bad idea to tie those up.”

“Leave negotiation of terms to me.” Guide offers.
“Try to negotiate that none of you be put in chains.” Helena snidely remarks.
“Best case scenario.” he quips back, and slides his chair back. “Shall we begin preparations?”

“So, that little scene you gave us, with the chains and the gun was fake?” Sheppard asks, his voice slightly distorted through the subspace transmission, but his resignation is clearly audible.

“I wouldn't call it that. My discomfort was very real.” Guide replies, emphasizing his response with a toothy grin. “My point is, you need us, and we need you. It's simple.”
“Well, excuse me, but I still find it somewhat hard to trust you, especially because you lied to us again.” John steps closer to the camera as he speaks.
“I am not asking you to trust me, I am asking you to work with me.” Guide angles his head, and glances past Sheppard's shoulder. “In fact, I am asking Dr. McKay to work with me.”
“What, me? Why?” McKay chirps, high pitched, due to being taken off guard.

“Because I know of your competences.” Guide simply responds. “We will not be able to reverse-engineer Death's countermeasures to protect her own people without your input.”
“You-You specifically come here to ask for help, because you need me? Me, specifically?” McKay sounds thrilled, and Sheppard rolls his eyes.

“Yes. Specifically you.” Guide confirms. “Bear in mind, this cooperation will benefit Atlantis as well. Death's weapon affects you as well as it affects us.”
“Yeah, maybe. But we don't run around trying to eat people when it hits us, now do we?” John points out.
“Is that so? Have you observed effects of prolonged exposure?” Guide asks, watching John back off a bit. “You don't know what the Unyielding Thirst could drive a human to do. I can only guess myself.”

“I mean, he has a point?” McKay speaks up again. “They have one of those things, and know more about the weapon than we do, so... It wouldn't be the first time we've worked with Todd.”

A barely suppressed snicker and Guide's eyes dart to the back of the room, behind the screen he's speaking to. After shooting Helena a warning glance, he directs his attention back to the screen.

“It isn't the first time we have both benefitted from working together, no.” he elects to respond. “And in the situation I am finding myself in, betraying you would gain me very little.”
“Very reassuring.” John sneers.
“I mean it, Sheppard. What would it gain me? An ancient City-Ship I cannot operate, and bragging rights at best?” Again, he angles his head. “We depend on each other.”

“This is a giant risk we're taking here, by letting you back into Atlantis along with your... Space-Vampire buddies.” John tells him, but doesn't look too averse to agreeing anymore.

“I can sweeten the deal for you, human.”
Nova has stepped forth from behind the screen, and taken her position next to Guide. She looks tiny next to him, his tall figure towering over her.

“Nova?” Teyla asks, speaking for the first time, and she nods.
“Yes. I reckon, none of your physicians have ever had the opportunity to examine a live, female Wraith before, have they?” she begins, and sees several people going wide-eyed behind the screen.

“Nova, you don't have to-...” Ivory begins, but the girl shakes her head.
“I know. But I want to.” she says, firmly, grateful that none of the Lantheans can see her hands shaking. “This will play a huge part in my sister's downfall. If I can prevent her from achieving her goals by doing this, I will.”

“Your sister?” Teyla asks sharply. “Queen Death is a relative of yours?”
“She is. I am the younger one.” Nova confirms. “This is the reason why her betrayal weighs so heavy on me. I must stop her. This is what I will contribute.”

Guide regards her from the corners of his eyes.
“Sheppard.” he finally speaks again. “As an additional condition to our agreement, I will not let your people strap her down, put her in chains, or lock her up in one of your cells. Like myself and Erinya, she will be allowed to roam the base freely. Guards is the most I will tolerate.”
Nova looks up to him, and a hint of relief glints in her eye.

“You'll be under full surveillance.” John says. “Your ship will remain in orbit, and at the first sign that you're vexing us, we'll blow it to smithereens. You got that?”
“Very well. I agree to your terms.” Guide nods lightly. “We will reach Atlantis in a few days' time. Until then, Sheppard.”

The connection is cut and Ivory hurries past Guide, to tend to Nova.
“Foolish, brave girl.” she hisses, but Nova shakes her head.
“I am no girl, Ivory. I am a Queen, and I have agency. I will bring Death down.” she states firmly, and Ivory nods.
“Yes. Yes, you are.”

“It'll be okay. Guide and I will keep an eye on you.” Erinya assures her. “Dr. Keller will likely examine you, and trust me, she's very sweet. She won't hurt you.”
Nova nods slowly.
“I should prepare myself for the stay in Atlantis.” she mutters, and leaves the conference room.

Erinya sighs.
“We should pack, too. Skim over the data a few times, to make sure we've got everything we need.” she suggests, and Guide nods.
“Right.” he breathes, and turns to leave as well, together with her.

Helena claps her hands.
“Alright, boys and girls. I believe, we can get started.” she announces, and opens a channel on her communicator. “Set a course for Atlantis and get us into hyperspace, as soon as Silverlight and Myah leave the bay.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

“I am sorry, but I cannot accompany you to Atlantis after all.” Ivory announces, just having received a subspace message from her Hive.
“Did something happen?” Shine inquires, having managed to drop most of his formal mannerisms toward her, at least on Helena's ship.

“I am afraid so.” Ivory confirms. “One of our supply cruisers has apparently trespassed on another Hive's territory. Ash is doing what he can to prevent escalation of the conflict, but they have demanded to speak to me personally.”

“Another Hive? One of Death's associates?” Helena inquires, slightly alarmed.
“No, I do not believe so. If they acted on Death's orders, they would have destroyed our vessel.” Ivory replies. “Which is why I am eager to negotiate. They might prove to be a valuable contact, if they have resisted Death until now.”

“It may be a setup.” Shine comments, and flinches lightly when Ivory turns her attention to him again, fearing he might have overstepped a boundary.
“I know. Which is why I wish to take you with me. Just as a precaution.” she says, and straightens herself. “The sooner we leave and resolve this situation, the better.”

“Come back in one piece.” Helena asks her, entirely serious, and Ivory flashes her a smile.
“Preferably, I may.” she hums to her, and turns to leave their quarters, Shine following closely.

Once the doors close behind her, Ivory stops, and looks up at her commander.
“He will fare well on the Vampire homeworld.” she assures him, and smiles at his questioning glance. “Silverlight. I know, you worry for his safety.”
“There are humans, my Queen. Technologically advanced humans.” he admits. “They will do anything to exterminate our kind.”

“Not in this case. We have a mutual foe, and humans like bonding over mutual foes.” Ivory counters. “Silverlight will not be alone. He is in no more danger than all of us.”

“I... care for him.” Shine admits, as Ivory begins leading him down the hallway, toward the bay.
“You love him.”Ivory corrects.
“I-...” Shine scraps his sentence, and tries to start over. “If you find that bothersome, I will-...”
“I do not.” Ivory cuts him off. “Your union is like my own, with Helena. If I condemn you, I must condemn myself along with you.”

He regards her from the corner of his eye, and Ivory can feel his insecurity radiate to her.

“Is it not normally the Commander who becomes Queen's Consort?” he dares to ask, and Ivory can't read his tone.
“We are not normal.” she replies. “I have a consort. And should the need for a new Queen arise... I will find a way.”
The thought has crossed her mind before, the fact that this will likely be expected of her. Female Wraith are few and far between, so if she intends to grow her fleet, she cannot skirt around this issue for long.
A daughter of her own isn't that unthinkable to Ivory, but when she considers it, she thinks of raising her with Helena.
Not conceiving her with a male Wraith.

“We have Nova.” Shine reminds her and she shrugs lightly.
“We do. But Nova is...” Ivory presses her lips together. “I do not think she's ready for the task. In fact, I worry greatly for her wellbeing.”
“I noticed.” he says. “She's damaged. But irreparably? I doubt that. Her intervention during Guide's negotiation with the Lantheans proved great strength.”
“Or vicious, self-destructive anger.” Ivory shrugs again, and opens the doors to the bay. “Let us focus on the task at hand for now.”

“Yes, My Queen.”
His response sounds like he was cut off in his train of thought, but he follows her regardless.

“Course is set... jumping into hyperspace in three... two...”

Helena leans back in the Captain's seat and closes her eyes for a moment, as the blue swirls of hyperspace engulf the ship.
They're lucky, they aren't too far from the City, a few hours in hyperspace are expected to bring the ship close enough to beam.

Most of the crew isn't on the bridge, as hyperspace travel doesn't require constant supervision. Helena's Chief Engineer, Lorelai, is again, the only one who pays her company.
Quietly working behind her terminal, she produces white noise for Helena, and makes the silence feel less choking.

Helena feels a twinge of hunger, a faint sting from behind her teeth, aching to pierce someone's skin.
Bad, she thinks, and remembers Teyla, the human woman she'd found herself drawn to, when the Unyielding Thirst struck her during her last visit to Atlantis.
Going there already mildly hungry might be a very bad idea.

The tip of her tongue flicks against one of her fangs, drawing blood, just a droplet, and Helena swallows hard. This can help her stave off feeding for a while, but she's aware that it won't do her much good in this situation.
She should have fed on Ivory before she left for her Hive. Now, she's forced to prove herself wrong again, and feed on a human.

Helena gets up, and nods briefly in Lorelai's direction, before leaving the bridge.
It's bad enough that she told the Lantheans a half-truth, that her and Ivory do not feed on anyone but each other, but failing to mention that the rest of her crew still kills without remorse.
Starting this habit again for herself...

She shakes her head.
As long as they don't learn of it, as long as she can keep it hidden, she should be fine. Their short lives will fade eventually, and if Helena can keep her lie upright until then, she has nothing to be concerned about.

A quick press on the button in her ear brings her into radio contact with Nova.
“Feed before you depart from the ship.” she advises. “Erinya will allow you to feed on her, but the Lantheans may not like seeing you do this.”
“I understand.” is Nova's factual response, and the terminates the contact.

Helena isn't particularly worried for Guide in this situation. He's openly told Sheppard of his arrangement with Erinya, and her condition that makes this necessary for her as well. But Nova? Nova is a Queen, and will be treated with much more caution from the get-go.

Helena is very worried for her.
The way Ivory cares for her, nurtures her is bleeding through to Helena. She doesn't quite know if Ivory sees Nova as a little girl, or the daughter she never had. Or perhaps as the lost, young Queen she once was herself.
Regardless, Helena feels the urge to protect her, was actually close to simply forbidding her to enter Atlantis, simply to shield her from further trauma. Though, being forced to stay in one place may not be beneficial to Nova's situation, and her recovery.

She moves her hand in front of the door sensor, and enters the hold.

It's a long, narrow walkway, with a seemingly endless lineup of stasis pods on one side. Each of them is labeled, presumed age, times fed upon, and planet of origin.
Helena's ship rarely kills.
Most of their human cargo is fed on once or twice, then allowed recovery from the heavy blood loss, and then brought back to their world. Those their Wraith friends feed on, obviously don't live to tell the tale.

It's an advantage her kin has over the Wraith, Helena muses. She does not have to kill when feeding, which makes coexistence possible. Additionally, hiding their own cullings by chiming into one led by the Wraith has proven very effective.
Secrecy remains Vampire-kind's biggest defense.

And that is something Helena is about to jeopardize.

She opens one of the pods, and its occupant, a middle-aged man, stumbles out, nearly falling on his knees before her. Helena regards him coldly, feeling the hunger throb in her throat.
He backs off, having caught a glimpse of her fangs, until his back hits the walls of his pod again.

“I will not kill you.” she assures him, and herself. “So don't struggle. You'll just make it hurt worse.”

It doesn't appear that this comforts the man in the slightest, he stares at her wide-eyed, lips trembling with a silent plea. Helena gives him a good look. He doesn't strike her as a fighter, so he likely poses little threat to her.
Regardless, she has no intention of toying with her prey. That's something young Vampires indulge in, not old, powerful Captains such as herself. She gets the thrill of the hunt often enough without games like this.

Choosing to no longer draw this out, as her prey seems about to pass out from fear, Helena reaches forward, grabs the man by the collar, and drags him to her. He hardly puts up a fight.
She tastes sweat first, sweet with panic, before her fangs pierce his skin. Making it swift, she lets her sharpness do the work; her teeth sink effortlessly into his neck, and blood pours, driven by his panicked, fast heartbeat.

Helena takes her time, drinks slowly, careful not to overwhelm herself. No casualties today. She's grown. She's ancient. She will not let desire get the better of her again, not with this man, and definitely not with Teyla Emmagan.

The warmth lingers in her chest, when she releases him, and carefully pushes him back into his stasis pod. He's pale, his skin has discolored in a grey tint, evident of the blood loss he sustained.
Helena activates the pod again, and commands it to infuse him with supplements.

By the time she'll reach his home planet, he will have fully recovered, without remembering a thing.

“Alright, we're in range to beam down.” Helena sighs, and pushes her hair out of her face. “I will open a channel to address Atlantis, and request permission to enter the City. Last chance to feed, if you must.”
Her glance rests mostly on Nova, as she says this.

“I have fed. I am ready.” she assures, and Helena nods.
“Right. Channel is... open. Hello, Atlantis.”

“Captain Helena, I presume?” Woolsey's half-familiar voice responds.
“That, I am. May we beam into the City?” she asks, as polite as she possibly can.
“You may. Our sensors have already detected you in our orbit, and we ask you to keep your ship there, for the duration of you stay.” Woolsey requests.
“Thank you, we know. It is part of our bargain.” Helena confirms. “I will see you in person within a moment, Mr. Woolsey. Until then.”

She closes the channel, and nods to Lorelai, who quickly enters a few commands, and the world goes white around Helena.

When her vision returns, her, Erinya, Guide and Nova are standing on one of the balconies overlooking the Gate-Room, neatly lined up before their apparent welcome committee.
Sheppard's team, Mr. Woolsey, and Dr. Keller.

Ronon, the former runner, impatiently spins his weapon in his hand, clearly eager to get the pleasantries over with. Or shoot all of them where they stand.
Likely the former.

“Well.” John opens, arms crossed before his chest. “Here we go again.”
“We do.” Guide responds, and attempts an innocent smile, hindered somewhat by his sharklike teeth.

An awkward silence falls, and Helena takes it upon herself to break it.
“Unless you have any preliminary security measures to take, I suggest we begin?” she asks, but mostly directs it at Sheppard.
“Right. You'll stay here with us.” he says, and then points at Guide and Erinya. “These two? McKay's lab, and the Queen can follow Dr. Keller right away. Your escorts are waiting downstairs.”

“You intend to send her alone?” Helena protests. “I was expecting to be with Nova while she goes through these tests.”
“The Infirmary can't hold enough Marines for both of you, so, sorry, you're gonna have to stay here.” Sheppard doesn't really sound like he's sorry.

Nova has already backed off, and pressed her back against the balcony's railings, her gaze nervously darting between Helena and Sheppard.
“It is fine. I will comply.” she says, surprisingly calm, disproportionate to her body language.

“Great. Can we get started, then? I did some calculations based on the limited data we already have from their previous assault on the City, but of course, I can't do much without your input. My preparations will make this a lot easier, you're welcome.” McKay begins speaking, very confident in this odd constellation of people.
“Thank you.” Guide responds, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “I'm certain your work won't overcomplicate things at all, due to you assuming facts you have no access to yet.”
McKay looks like he's about to snap back, but he swallows his response.
“Yeah. Right. If you'll follow me...?” He gestures down the stairs.

Erinya pats Nova on the shoulder before following, pulling Guide after herself by his hand.

The stinging scent of disinfectant assaults Nova's sensory organs, as she follows the human woman into her workspace. It looks warmer than she expected, friendlier.
The tension in her body releases a tiny bit.

“Uh, please have a seat.” Dr. Keller offers, and gestures to one of the patient beds near her workstation. Without responding, Nova moves away from the Marines, and sits on the bed.

Keller looks a tad uncomfortable to Nova, as far as she can judge human social cues. Awkward fumbling, occasional throat clearing, avoidance of eye contact. She's seen this on the Vampire ship too, with their uncannily human mannerisms.

“Okay. I think I'll start with drawing blood, if that's alright with you? It will hurt a bit, but it's just a tiny needle.” she finally addresses her, turning around, and showing her a syringe.
“What must I do?” Nova asks flatly. She's not afraid of needles, there's worse injuries she may sustain here.

Keller steps toward her.
“Give me your arm, and make a fist.” she requests, and Nova stretches her right arm toward her, her feeding hand held tightly closed.
She almost flinches when the woman's fingers touch her skin, pushing her sleeve up to her upper arm.
“It's okay. It'll only hurt a little bit.” Keller quickly reassures her, having misread her reaction, but Nova has little incentive to correct the misunderstanding.
Instead, she tenses her fist harder, and stops moving entirely.

When Keller supports her arm with her off hand, Nova manages not to flinch. Off hand, she muses. Humans don't have off hands.
The sharp bite of the needle hardly draws a reaction from her. Just a faint sound, not even enough to cause Keller to try and calm her again.

Blueish black blood fills the vial, and Keller withdraws the syringe, pausing to watch the incision heal within seconds.
“This is incredible to watch firsthand.” she admits, and Nova angles her head.
“Have you never seen a Wraith regenerate before?” she asks, managing to keep her tone neutral.
“No, I haven't, actually. The Wraith I've see injured usually... don't heal anymore.” Keller gives her a fleeting, apologetic look, and turns to label her blood sample.

“Because you starve them.” Nova continues the conversation, feeling somewhat confrontational.
“I-.. Well, we don't let them kill our people.” she admits, with a careful glance over her shoulder.
“And that kills them.” Nova adds.
“Yes. Keeping them alive kills us.” Keller finally turns back around. “It's a conflict that keeps us from making permanent peace with you. Maybe someday, we'll find a solution.”

Nova studies her face intensely.
“A solution? Is that why you agreed to my offer?” she inquires, and Keller nods apologetically.
“I've developed a gene therapy that reactivated a Wraith's digestive tract. But it didn't work as intended, so I scrapped it.” she tells her. “So, now I'm back to square one. Knowing more about you might help.”

Nova blinks in surprise. She'd expected to be used as a test subject for biological warfare, not for something like this. A solution that lets both parties live. She can't deny that it intrigues her.

“You do not wish to kill me.” she states, and Keller nods.
“I'm a doctor. I generally don't want to kill anyone.” she replies. “I want to save lives, not take them.”
“I respect that.” Nova says, sincerely, which seems to take Keller off guard.

“I, uh... thank you.” she stutters, but quickly catches herself again. “I would like to examine your-.. well. You know.”
“My feeding hand?” Nova asks, and opens her fist, turning the palm up.
“Yes. I didn't want to be so... direct.” Keller laughs nervously.
“Does it offend you when I reference the fact that you have a mouth?” Nova feels a smile on her lips, for the first time in a very long time. “It is a body part. An organ. You may examine it, and call it what it is.”

Keller nods gratefully, and returns her smile, albeit carefully. Slowly, as if approaching a predator, she takes Nova's hand, splays it flat in hers, and observes her feeding slit with a magnifying glass. It takes her several minutes, looking at it from all angles, before glancing up at Nova's face again.

“Is it okay if I touch it?” she requests and Nova nods indifferently.
“If you must.” she responds, and Keller lets go of her hand, to quickly put gloves on her own.

The plastic feels odd against the sensitive organ, when Keller touches it again, lightly pulling apart the outer membranes with her fingers. Her other hand now holds a small flashlight.
“I can flare it open, if that helps.” Nova offers, and Keller looks slightly startled by her sudden offer.
“You can? I assumed it'd only do that on its own, when you, uh... feed.” she admits.
“It does that. But I can also make it do that.” Nova responds, and tenses a muscle in her palm, pulling the slit open.

Nova's fingers twitch, and she has to actively stop herself from flexing her hand, as she forces the stinger out reveal itself.

“The only thing I cannot force forward, is enzyme. But you may drain that right out of my arm. There is a thick vein on the back of my hand, that contains it. It protrudes, when I am about to feed.” she explains to her, and Keller's gloved finger approaches the stinger. “I would advise against that. It is very sharp.”

She withdraws quickly, and clears her throat again, readjusting her grip on the flashlight, and continuing her examinations.
Carefully, she dabs a piece of tissue against the organ, cutting the dampened edge off, and placing it into a specimen jar. Reaching to her desk, she produces a pair of tweezers from her drawers, pinches one of the inner membranes with it, to pull it aside, likely to examine the stinger's root.

Nova hisses sharply, as the sensation jolts up her arm, and leaves her joints buzzing with numbness, as if she'd pinched a nerve.
Immediately she notices the Marines pointing their guns at her, and Keller drops her hand as if she'd burned herself on it.

“I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?” she stammers, and Nova rises her hand, to examine the damages.
There's a dark spot on the inner membrane, like a bruise, but it's already fading.

“It is very sensitive.” she informs her. “Please. Do be careful.”
“I'm very sorry.” Keller apologizes again, her gloved hands hovering several inches before her.
Nova extends her arm back to her.
“Continue, if you may. It merely startled me.” she assures, lying through her teeth, but for some reason, she doesn't want this human upset because of her.

Keller gives her a long look, before taking her hand, and nodding briefly at the Marines, who lower their weapons again.
“Right.” she whispers, more to herself than Nova, and continues her work.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

“Townsfolk are aware of my kind's existence.” Myah informs him. “And they have come to dislike the Wraith too, since Ivory's stay on this planet. We must be on our guard.”

Silverlight makes an unappreciative noise in response, and looks around, surveying his surroundings. Him and Myah have arrived during the night cycle of this area on the planet, so the town is desolate, shrouded in darkness, only broken up by a few lit windows.
It's tough to gauge this civilization's technological advancement level like this, even though Silverlight has been told that they're considered fairly capable.

The streets are made of cobblestone, as are most of the buildings. Openings in the roads suggest a working sewer system, and the thick fog obscuring the stars tell Silverlight that these humans are in their own, industrial Golden Age.

Normally, they would've been blasted back into the stone age decades ago.

“How do we begin?” he addresses the Vampire, leading him through the streets.
“The ruins outside of town used to be one of our ship wharves.” she lets him know. “We will establish a perimeter there, but for that, I must fall back on my old contacts in the vampiric underground of this planet. That is why we are here.”
“How many of you are left on this planet?” Silverlight inquires, cursing Myah's inability to converse nonverbally. Her warning is making him reluctant to speak aloud.
“I cannot say. I will be able to answer this better once I have established contact.” She pauses to reach into the large duffel bag she's carrying, and pulls out a piece of cloth. “Here. Hide your face, and do not speak.”
She hands it to him, and he unfolds it.

It's a cloak, with a large hood. Nodding, he drapes it over his form, and pulls the good down, letting it cast a shadow over his features. Under the cover of night, this will suffice.

Myah directs him toward a smaller building, and opens the door, littered in writing Silverlight cannot decipher.
As soon as the door is open, a thick scent of human food, alcohol and filth assaults his senses, and he has to genuinely convince himself to follow her. Sheepishly, he hides his hands behind the folds of his cloak, and makes an effort to remain two steps behind Myah at all times.

A number of patrons look up disdainfully, as Myah and Silverlight maneuver through the alignment of tables and stools. He's glad that this establishment is so dimly lit, both for his disguise's sake and his sensitive eyes.
The pair reaches the bar, at the far end of the room, and Myah leans forward, resting her forearms on the surface.

“Yeah?” the obvious owner of the tavern barks at her, impatient, and obviously not happy about the two shady figures dwelling on his property.
“Does Nisha still reside here?” Myah asks, equally as unfriendly, and nods at the narrow spiral staircase leading to a second story, just behind the bar.
“Who's askin'?” the owner responds, hardly intimidated by her.
“None of your concern, old man. Answer my question.” she demands, her tone apparently threatening enough to elicit an aggressive response; the man reaches under his bar, and produces a dainty-looking, overly embellished handheld firearm, points it at her.

“Watch it, Missy.” he warns her, but Myah isn't impressed.
In a series of swift movements, she draws one of her daggers, yanks the man forward, and pins his cravat to the wood.
“Likewise, old man. Now respond, before I forget my manners.” she hisses, and bares her fangs at him.

He glares at her, a mixture of rage and fear making his eyes bulge.
“Fine, she's here, alright.” he mutters, looking around anxiously while Myah retrieves her dagger. “Don't make a fuss, yeah? I don't want anything more to do with your kind than I have to.”
“That is beneficial to your wellbeing.” Myah responds, equally hushed, and walks past the bar, approaching the stairs, while casually beckoning Silverlight after herself.

“What was that?” he inquires in a hushed voice, as soon as he reaches the first floor with Myah.
“This tavern is well known in this city's underground. A notorious Vampire hideout. They pay well, and the owner keeps his mouth shut.” she explains. “It has been this was for several generations, ever since we left.”
“You did not ask which room your target occupies.” he remarks, and Myah flashes him a fanged grin.
“I do not need to. It is always the same room.” she says, and turns toward a large, double-winged door.

Myah doesn't knock, she simply opens the doors and steps inside.

On the other side lies a large, well furnished room, the scent of the crackling campfire reaches Silverlight before the warmth does.
Warm, dark browns dominate the room, and flowers. Roses, in all shades imaginable adorning every surface.
Only the small table near the door isn't littered with flower. Instead, a wine glass and a small carafe sit there, filled with a deep, red liquid. Silverlight lets his sensory pits flare, and deduces that it's blood.

“I sensed you from the moment you entered the building.” a soft voice greets them, belonging to the woman standing in the center of the room, as if she's expected them.

She's dressed in a pale mauve gown, gentle chiffon folds complimenting her dark skin well. Her head is crowned with short, curly dark hair, her flaming orange irises feel like scorching rays.
She moves softly, and the light reflects off the numerous, gold jewelry that adorns her features, much like Myah, but she managed to make it look gentle and graceful, as opposed to the intimidating look it gives Myah.

“Nisha.” she greets, and closes the door behind herself. “It is good to see you.”
Nisha bows her head slightly.
“Likewise, dear Myah.” she answers, and her gaze lingers on Silverlight for a few seconds, before she directs it to Myah again, bows raised questioningly.

“This is Silverlight.” Myah introduces him. “He is here to aid me with a mission that I wish to request your support for as well.”
Silverlight reaches up, and pushes his hood back, allowing the woman to see his face.
An amused smirk curls her lips.

“You tread in interesting circles, my dear Myah.” she hums. “A Wraith?”
“Is that so unlikely for a Vampire?” Myah replies, crossing her arms.
“For spacefaring ones, perhaps not.” Nisha admits, and gestures to her table. “Please. Sit.”

Myah follows her request, pulls out one of the ornately carved chairs to sit down. Silverlight hesitates, but eventually takes a seat as well. He doesn't miss Myah's eyes hungrily following Nisha's movements, as she pours the blood from her carafe into two wine glasses like fine liquor.

“I would offer you something, but I am afraid I cannot meet your dietary requirements.” she jests, and Silverlight angles his head in polite declination.
“I appreciate the intent.” he comments, eliciting another smile from her.

Nisha sits, and raises her glass a little before taking a sip; Myah mimcs her gesture.

“Now. What is it that you require my help with?” she opens, and gingerly sets her glass down on the table
“Nisha, my friend, I have respected your decision not to join us in the stars, and I always will.” Myah begins. “But we find ourselves in an awful predicament that threatens us all. I would not ask you this of you if I had a choice.”
She leans back.
“An awful predicament, you say.”

Silverlight takes initiative to speak.
“A new Queen has risen among my people.” he explains. “She calls herself Death, and has united most Hives under her command, along with the vast majority of Vampire Base Ships. Together, they have developed a terrible weapon, making it nearly impossible to combat them. Death will not rest until all who refuse to bend the knee to her are destroyed.”
A strange feeling of satisfaction fills him, as he sees Nisha's eyes gradually widen, as she listens to him. When he's finished, she's begun circling the opening of her glass with her index finger.

“That is indeed alarming.” she finally speaks, her tone pensive and serious.

“It is. Originally, I was part of Death's alliance.” Myah confesses. “The weapon she has developed is called the 'Unyielding Thirst'. Essentially, it forces its victim's body into a state of starvation, regardless of actual physical status. She has used my crew as her test subjects.”

Nisha's eyes narrow.
“What of Helena?” she inquires, and Myah nods.
“She has defied her from the beginning, and welcomed me back into her ranks.” she reports. “It is her orders that we act on.”
“The others? Who else opposes her?” Nisha continues.
“We have one Hive, Helena's ship, and... Atlantis.” Myah exhales sharply. “That is all. Which is why we are here.”

“Euridice and her fleet.” Nisha states more than she asks.
“Euridice appears to be one of Death's officers.” Myah responds, and Nisha bites her lower lip.
“I see.”

She gets up and approaches the window, hands clasped behind her back, looking down on the empty streets.
Silverlight seeks eye contact to Myah, and she nods to him, before taking the opportunity to down her entire glass of blood.

“What do you require of me?” Nisha speaks up again, without turning around.

“We want to restore our old prototypes to fully functional warships.” Myah explains, after she hastily swallowed. “We will need manpower to complete the restoration, and to crew them.”
“My people are hardly technicians.” Nisha remarks, and turns to them again.

“That is why I brought Silverlight. He will provide knowledge, you may provide labor.” Myah counters.
“It will not be easy.” Nisha says, but she has her smile back. “I will send word to my associates.”

“How are things coming along?” Helena cheerily asks, upon entering the laboratory.

Three unhappy faces greet her, but only one of them feels the need to respond.
“Oh, I don't know, I've been slumped over these heaps of data for six hours straight with little results, because I can't even read half of what this says, and the company's also lovely, thank you for asking!” Rodney McKay fires at her, and Helena doesn't miss Guide rolling his eyes from across the room.

“This would all go a lot smoother if you would just let me translate the vampiric parts of the data set.” Erinya growls, and McKay laughs humorlessly.
“Yeah right, I'll let someone who's been spying on us for who-knows-how-long access my personal workspace.” he scoffs, and Erinya runs her hand through her hair, mumbling something along the lines of “This is Silverlight all over again.”.

“Guide?” Helena asks, mainly because she doesn't expect outright complaining from his side.
“I have successfully isolated the jamming code these implements provide, however, I will request Dr, Keller to look over my results. The biological sciences are her forte.” he reports nonchalantly.
“He hasn't spoken in four hours.” McKay lets Helena know, and Guide looks up slowly.

“Because I was working.” he informs him sharply.
“Still! Don't you ever make... some light conversation? Smalltalk? Anything that lets me know you're not plotting to kill me?” McKay asks, drawing a sigh from Guide.
“Not when I am working.” he repeats himself, and demonstratively turns away to face his screen again.

“The more you talk, the more I plot to kill you, actually.” Erinya says, and presses down on her keyboard a bit harder than strictly necessary. “Helena, I've translated every bit of data I had access to, and I'm now moving on to unraveling the vampiric parts of the code. I don't dare touch the Wraith parts of it, that was Silverlight's work, and I can't decipher what in the world his approach was.”

“I can ask him, when him and Myah report back for the first time.” Helena shrugs. “Until then, carry on.”

“Who's Silverlight?” Rodney inquires, and Erinya looks up again.
“Cleverman we've been working with. The one you're replacing.” she replies bluntly.
“I'm replacing a Wraith scientist? Huh.” he muses. “Todd used to make me feel like I was entirely useless in our mutual projects, so that's indeed a new one.”

The clicking of keys from Guide's end stops briefly, and Erinya swears she hears him growl.

“I suggest you focus on your work before I eat you.” she says, baring her fangs for emphasis.
“You mean... feed on me?” Rodney asks, seemingly in good humor, but Erinya notices the shake in his voice.

“No, I mean eat you. Chop you up and chew you. Get to work.” she clarifies, neglecting to mention that she generally doesn't feed.

“No, it's okay. She can come with me.” Keller assures the Marines standing by. Leaving her new patient alone with military personnel seems like an awful idea, and she's a firm believer in the notion that learning about the Wraith on a interpersonal basis is just as important as the scientific approach.

Nova stands by the patient bed, seemingly having tensed every muscle in her body, eyeing the gun muzzles directed to her uncomfortably.

Keller beckons her, trying her friendliest smile, hoping to make Nova smile back again, but her visage remains rigid. She does move over to her, however.
“I'm going to the mess hall for lunch-... to feed, I suppose. It's common among my people to do this with company.” she explains. “I would like you to join me.”

The Wraith gives her a puzzled look.
“You wish me to feed while you eat?” she asks, and Keller hurries to shake her head.
“No! I mean-... I want you to sit with me and talk.” she clarifies, and Nova angles her head like a confused puppy.
“How will you talk with your mouth full?” she inquires, and Keller smiles forgivingly.
“You'll see. Us humans are great at multitasking.” she assures her.
“Let us depart, then. You should not suffer hunger more than necessary.” Nova turns to the door, and lets Keller lead the way.

“That's a big thing for your kind, isn't it?” she asks, as she leads her through the hallways. “Hunger, I mean. A lot of your culture seems to revolve around feeding.”
Nova gives her an unreadable look.
“It is what keeps us alive.” she argues.
“Of course, but that's the same for me. If I don't eat, I'll starve.”

Nova shakes her head.
“It is different.” she says, still painfully neutral in tone. “Hunger is ever-present. Feeding just eases it temporarily, but the pain always returns. Each time we feel it, we feel our own life faltering.”
Swallowing hard, Keller slows down a little.

“I was told that your sister starved you.” she carefully brings up Death.
“She did.” Nova sounds hoarse when she replies.
“I'm... really sorry this happened to you.” Keller says, quietly, but Nova hears her.
“Your pity does not help me.” she almost snarls, having Keller flinch away from her a little. “The Hunger never leaves me, ever since. She had me experimented on, to develop her terrible weapon. Months of pain and isolation, and I still feel it. I hunger eternally, and my mind aches whenever I connect to another. No amount of 'sorry' will mend the damage she caused.”

Keller has stopped walking, and looks at her wide-eyed. A sense of guilt has her hold her breath, for bringing it up, and forcing Nova to speak about it.
“I-... Nova, I didn't mean to hurt you by mentioning this.” she stammers, but Nova's fury seems done already.
“I know. It is fine.” she says, much calmer, or at least having regained her stoic facade. “Come, let us go. You must feed.”
“Right.” Keller breathes, and sets herself in motion again.

The rest of the way is spent in silence, and Keller sees Nova coming alive again when they enter the mess hall.
Chatter and clanking dishes fill the air, making the entire space feel alive. Nova's reptile eyes dart from one side to the other, as she tries to take in as much of the new sensations.

Keller leads her to an empty table.
“Sit. I will join you in just a moment.” she promises, and Nova reluctantly sits down; Keller can feel her glance following her, as she makes her way to the serving counter, and hes her tablet prepared.
She hardly pays attention to what she's given – something with fish and potatoes – and focuses on returning to her unusual lunchdate.

Nova eyes her menu skeptically.
“This suffices to sustain you?” she asks, and Keller smiles.
“For a few hours, yes. We feed multiple times a day.” she explains, and Nova nods slowly.

“I heard that Wraith do eat regular food for a portion of their lives.” she finally speaks up again, after a few minutes of silence.
“Children do.” Nova says. “I have been feeding for a few decades. I am very young.”

“How old would you be in human years?” Keller asks, confident that this topic won't upset Nova.
“I cannot say. How old are humans when they are considered adults?” Nova says, and looks up to meet her gaze again.

“Well, we're legally adults when we turn eighteen. But we continue growing until we're about twenty-five. And fourty is already middle-age.” Keller outlines and Nova angles her head again – a common gesture among Wraith, Keller muses.

“I suppose I would be in my early twenties.” she decides.
“How old are you, exactly?” Keller wants to know, and notices that she's forgotten her meal entirely.
“Not very. I turned eighty-nine this year.” Nova responds.
“If you were human, you'd be an old woman already.” Keller smiles at her. “I can't quite imagine how you can live this long, and still consider yourself young and inexperienced.”

Nova leans forward and folds her hands under her chin, her feeding slit briefly visible.
“Time is relative.” she finally says, firm in tone. “And I am not human.”
“I must look like a little girl to you.” Keller jokes, intending it to be light hearted, but Nova takes it seriously.

“No, you do not.” she denies. “You are different from me. Your life is short, so you live fast. You are an adult.”
“Then, we're about the same age, aren't we?” Keller asks. “Relatively speaking, I mean.”
“Relatively speaking.” Nova parrots in agreement.

Keller smiles, and bites a slice of fish off her fork. It's strange, how a Wraith's respect makes her feels validated, but she accepts it. Nova is three times her age and some, but she looks incredibly fragile to her. Once she's gotten over the initial fear, Keller begun seeing Nova as an individual, rather than just 'Wraith'.
And the individual that Nova is deeply intrigues her.

It's mutual, she thinks, noticing Nova's slit pupils following her every move. Watching, but not wary.

Keller swallows hard, and straightens her posture a little, feeling the sudden urge to address her overstepping of Nova's boundaries again.
“Nova, listen, I'm sorry for what I said earlier.” she says, with less stammering this time. “I know, you said that pity doesn't help, I just... wanted to express my sympathy. I apologize if I hurt you.”

“You did not hurt me. Death did.” Nova responds, her tone remaining neutral, though Keller hears a faint shake in her voice.
“I know, but-... Words can be hurtful too, can't they?” Keller counters, and Nova lets her hand sink to the table, until they lie flat, palm down on the surface.

“They can. But I can see that you did not mean any harm.” she bats her eyes, and speaks more in the direction of her hands, than to Keller. “I apologize for lashing out. It is a sensitive subject.”
“Oh, that's not-... It's okay.” Keller hurries to console her, but Nova shakes her head.

“No. I scared you. I saw you back off.” she argues, and Keller finds herself wondering if that was what cooled her anger.
“I, well, … you snarled at me. That did spook me a little. I mean,... I'm food to you, after all.” She laughs nervously. This conversation is turning a tad unpleasant.
Nova looks at her again, her pupils dilating.
“If you were food to me, I would feed on you.” she nonchalantly says. “I told you, I am always hungry, even now. What is it that keeps me from soothing my pain with your life?”
“Um,...” Keller has no smart response.
“I see you as a person, Dr. Keller.” Nova clarifies.
“Thank you. I think? That's more than most Wraith do for me, really.” Keller admits, oddly flattered, and tries to read anything off her face, but she doesn't manage.

“As for my snarl.” Nova's hands twitch lightly on the table. “It is a response of anger, distress or frustration, among others. A subconscious impulse, like your smiles when you are content. I can suppress it, but it is difficult. It was not meant as an act of aggression, and I am 'sorry' that I startled you.”

“It's okay.” Keller assures her. “Just caught me off guard, really.”
“You are not on your guard when you are alone with me?” Nova asks, and Keller hears a hint of amusement. “I do not know if I should be flattered by your trust, or appalled by your foolishness.”

“Well, I'm not a soldier, being on my guard isn't my default.” Keller admits. “I was on my guard at first, but I quickly dropped it. I'm not really afraid of you anymore.”

Nova regards her with one of her unreadable expressions again, and her hands clasp on her table.
“That is good.” she simply says.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

“Queen Death threatens us all, sister.” Ivory speaks into the connection, regarding the Queen on the other end of the subspace transmission with warmth.

She's beautiful, her smooth, white hair flowing down her front like silk, her features fine and queenlike. Ivory feels a heaviness in her chest.
How long has it been, since her shuttle crashed over Helena's homeworld? Since she was torn from her life? It's rare that she feels regret, but right now, she truly does.

The other Queen regards her silently for a long while, before shifting in her throne.
“You did not care much about our kin before, did you?” she responds. “When you left us, and went on to play with your Vampire friends.”
“It was hardly my decision.” Ivory defends herself. “I was rescued by them, nurtured and fed, kept safe. I merely repaid my debt. It is not unreasonable to bond over this.”
“And yet,” her sister responds. “you kept away from your people until you needed us again.”
“My Hive needed me just as much as I needed them.” Ivory says, and straightens her posture, lifting her chin. “Aside that, you never looked for me. By the time I had to opportunity to go home, I was already too far involved with the Vampires.”

The Queen hisses, and leans back, but Ivory does not sense as much hostility from her anymore. Taking her chances, she steps forward
“Glacier,” she addresses her by name. “I am still your sister. I knew you would not bow to Death. Let us oppose her together. You know that you cannot stand against her alone.”

She scoffs.
“Meet me on my Hive. We will talk in person.” Glacier says, and cuts the connection. Ivory breathes deeply before the static-filled screen, and turns around to the men crewing her bridge.
“Shine, accompany me.” she commands, and he beckons Ash to him, surrendering the ship's controls to him.

“My Queen, we should take Drones with us.” he suggests, but Ivory shakes her head.
“Glacier is my sister. What message would a strikeforce send? She will not harm us.” she says, and Shine shoots her a concerned glance.
“She was about to fire on us.” he reminds her.
“Because we trespassed on her territory, and she did not know it was me.” she counters. “She did immediately stand down when she heard my voice.”

She leads him to the bays, and boards a shuttle. Shine hardly speaks while he maneuvers the shuttle to the other Hive, docking and waiting for the airlock to open.
When he gets the prompt to open the doors, he finally turns around again.

“My Queen, I trust your judgment.” he says. “But I urge you to be on your guard. I will not be of much aid, should someone threaten your life.”
Ivory tilts her head. Shine sounds off, his voice having gained a faint tremble, like back when he was getting used to verbal speech again.
He gets up from the pilot's seat, and turns to walk past her, and open the doors, but Ivory stops him, resting her hand on his wrist.

Skin to skin, mind to mind, she speaks to him, so that only he may hear her.

'Your concern has dark roots, My Blade.' she speaks into his mind, and feels his feeding hand lock around her wrist.
'I was exiled,' he begins, his mental voice even shakier than his true one. 'because I let my Queen die. I was not enough to keep her safe. I am not prepared to watch another Queen bleed.'

'Shine.' Ivory says, sending the feeling of confidence and trust to him. 'I will not die on you. I am a Blade myself, and I have fought at Helena's side many times. You will not lose me.'
'I still see her corpse before me.' Shine hisses, to underline this thought. 'Her eyes, devoid of light and unseeing. My Queen, I beg of you. I cannot watch your eyes grow dull too.'

Ivory looks down on their locked hands, and breathes deeply. She understand what this means. What being a Queen means.
She has seen this level of devotion in every single Wraith under her command. Desire, yes, but also respect. Respect and love.

Shine does not desire her. But his hand tenses around her wrist, and Ivory realizes that he, too, loves her.
'We will live. All of us.' she then firmly states. 'I gave you my word that I would lead your Hive. I will not forsake you, either by choice, or through death.'
Ivory releases his wrist, and feels his grip loosen too, but his mind remains close to hers, as if trying to shield her from mental intrusions.

He steps forth, opens the shuttle doors, and is immediately greeted by an assortment of Blades, armed, but not behaving in a threatening manner.
Ivory moves past him.
“I am Ivory, daughter of Delight, and Queen of the Far Traveled.” she introduces herself verbally. “This is Shine, my Commander.”
Shine offers a courtly bow, and lingers a bit too long in his pose, letting his hair fall before his face, veiling his scar. Just for a few seconds.

Ivory feels a twinge of pain, realizing that his shame for this blemish may not be out of vanity after all.

“Welcome, Queen Ivory.” speaks the Blade in the front, adorned in intricately embroidered leathers. “I am Vortex, Queen's Consort.” He gestures, and the other Blades from two orderly lines, for their guests to pass through. “Please. Follow me. Queen Glacier awaits you.”

Shine bows again, and steps aside to let Ivory move out first. She nods, and follows Vortex through the corridors in silence. He's beautiful, she notes. Tall and slender, his long, silver hair held together in a complicated braid, framing his face. He looks royal and courtly.
As expected, from a Consort.

Vortex stops before a large, winged door, which slides open at his command.

Glacier's throne room is big, with a high ceiling, shedding streams of light down on her, as she stands in its centers.
Ivory feels herself tense, upon laying eyes on her sister in person. Glacier was always the favorite, smarter, stronger. More beautiful.
And here she stands, clad in white and blue silks, enveloping her frame so flawlessly, her dress may very well be part of her.

She turns, and Ivory feels her mind brush over hers.
'Sister.' she speaks, her telepathic voice audible for all three Wraith in her presence.
'Glacier,' Ivory responds, and steps forward.

'Your Consort?' she asks, referring to Shine, who immediately stiffens under her gaze. She's asserting him critically, and he knows it.
'My Commander.' Ivory corrects. 'I have no official Consort yet.'

Ivory steps up to her, keeping a polite distance, and Shine follows her, just a few steps behind her, while Vortex discreetly retreats to the sidelines, his presence just strong enough to emphasize is connection to his Queen.

'I presume, you are familiar with Death?' Ivory opens, and Glacier exchanges a glance with her Consort.
'I am. She has attempted to recruit me into her foolish endeavors. I declined, and she attacked me.' Glacier says, and Ivory nods.
'Yes. That is her modus operandi, she has used it on my associates and me as well. Most Vampires are under her command, and we are attempting to build an effective fleet to counter her.' she explains.

'So I heard. She has sent a number of them after me. Partially the reason why I responded to aggressively to your intrusion upon my feeding grounds. I expected a new tactic from Death, to wear us down.' Glacier admits, and Ivory nods slowly.

'Make no mention of it. I understand your caution.' she responds, very relieved that she's gotten used to mental conversation. Otherwise, this meeting would be very different.
'So. You are trying to build a fleet. What do you have, sister?' Glacier asks, and Ivory shifts lightly.

'My Hive, and the Vampire Base Ship. We are bargaining with Atlantis, a shaky, risky alliance, but a necessary one. Furthermore, I have sent my Hive Master to restore old Vampire prototypes, and I expect him to report back soon.' Ivory outlines, carefully watching her sister's expression as she speaks.

'That is not much.' she remarks, and Ivory nods.
'Hence, I am looking to expand.' she justifies herself, and Glacier nods.
'Atlantis, yes?' she asks, a light amused tone in her thoughts. 'A bold choice in alliance. They will kill you, if you give them the opportunity.'
'I will not.' Ivory responds, not entirely eager to discuss this with Glacier. Instead, she steps closer, and establishes eye contact. “My sister, I need your aid. I will make up for the things I missed. I am a Queen now, and I intend to defend my kind from any threat. Especially threats from within.'

Glacier regards her, and a faint smile plays around her lips.
'You are much like Mother.' she remarks, leaving it vague whether or not that is a good thing. 'She always told me that she raised you wrong.'
'Mother is not here anymore.' Ivory responds, and Glacier angles her head.
'It was a Lanthean who killed her. You know that, yes?' she asks, her voice a bit sharper.
'I do. But I also know that she threatened their people. War causes situations like this, Glacier. I did not forgive them. I am willing to work with them, however, for the good of us all.'

Glacier nods.
'I may look past my desire for vengeance for the time being.' she finally says. 'I will aid you, dear sister. Merely because I fear what you may do, if I leave you to your fate.'
'I was a child when you last saw me, Glacier. I will prove much more sensible than you may expect.' Ivory allows herself a smile as well.

The gentle jest in Glacier's mind, traveling to hers, fills Ivory with warmth.
'Go back to your Hive, and lead the way. I will follow you.' she asks of her, and Ivory nods.
'Thank you, sister.' she says, closing the conversation, and turns to leave.

Shine hooks his arm with hers, and leads her through the corridors, back to the bay. Escorting her like a Consort, and his eyes are trained straight ahead.
'This went well. Your worry was unreasonable.' Ivory speaks, mind to mind, after having rested her index finger on his wrist.
'She is your sister, after all.' Shine responds stiffly, and Ivory immediately knows that he is holding back a thought.
'Shine? Speak freely.' she allows him, and his gaze briefly shifts to her.

'The way she asked if I was your Consort.' he begins, hesitating. 'There was contempt in her words.'
'She does not know you.' Ivory attempts to soften the edge, but Shine shakes his head.
'She does not deem me worthy of your affections. To her, I am damaged. Unlike her Consort, with his perfect face, and perfect track record.' He sounds bitter, as he speaks to her, causing Ivory to look up to him.

'As I said – she does not know you.' she assures him. 'She sees your scars, and the seething hatred you carry for yourself, My Blade. That is why she deems you too weak. She does not know how strong you truly are, how you walked right into Death's talons for me.'
'She does not need to know, in order to pass judgment upon me.' Shine replies sourly, and Ivory briefly reaches out with her feeding hand, placing it on his chest, pressing down on his leathers.

'She does not know this.' she says. 'How I have honored you.'
'If she did, she would scold you for it.' Shine says, but his tone has softened.
'So let her scold me. I am your Queen, and it is for me to decide whether or not you are worthy.' Ivory pulls back, and the pair stops.

“Let us go home.” she says aloud, and opens the shuttle doors.

“That might be a little uncomfortable.” Keller says. “You should close your eyes, so the lasers don't blind you. I read that your eyes are sensitive, more than mine.”

Nova is lying down under a strange machine she has never seen before. Flat on her back, she gives Keller a skeptical look, but obeys, letting her lids flutter shut.
The mechanical noise of the machine hovering over her has her twitching uncomfortably, not quite on board with having her eyes closed, vulnerable in this situation, but Keller is right – the lasers could easily hurt her eyes.

So, Nova clenches her teeth, and endures.

“Okay, that's it.” Keller announces, and Nova's eyes snap open. She sits up quickly, and situates herself on the edge of the bed.
“What do you wish to learn from this scan?” she inquires.
“Oh, I'm looking at the way your cells behave. The way they renew themselves so quickly, and how they draw the energy you store from your, uh... food.” Keller replies, masking her brief uncertainty with a smile.

Nova angles her head.
“Your examinations are much less invasive than I anticipated. You have not strapped me down and sedated me yet.” she states, and Keller clears her throat.
“You were expecting that sort of treatment, and agreed to it anyways?” she asks, an eyebrow raised.
“I agreed, because I knew Atlantis would be more likely to accept Guide's bargain.” Nova discloses.

“Uhm... whose?” Keller looks up from her data, ready to shift her full attention to the conversation again.
“Guide's. The one whom Atlantis is most familiar with. The Wraith with the starburst-Hive Mark.” she clarifies.
“Oh, Todd! I'm sorry, I-.. is that insensitive? Colonel Sheppard gave him that name.” Keller disregards her data entirely, and sits next to Nova.

Nova resists the urge to flinch away, when she begins feeling her body heat beside her.
“Well,” she begins, trying to hide that this flutters her somewhat. “normally, only a Consort may be renamed. Usually by a Queen, but those who court others may also change names.”
“Oh.” Keller flatly says. “Consorts.”

A pink flush has dyed her cheeks, and Nova leans forward, to get a better look at her face.
“Yes.” she confirms, and Keller smiles nervously at her.
“Do you engage in courtship often?” she asks, and hastily corrects herself. “As in, your people, not you specifically, I don't mean to get too personal.”

Nova nods.
“Queens always have Consorts. Blades and Clevermen occasionally court within their own caste.” she explains. “I have been Queen for less than a decade, thus, I have not had a Consort yet.”
“Oh. Would you... pick one, or do they pick you? How does that work?” Keller finds herself genuinely intrigued by how Wraith relationships work. Nova hints a smile.

“I would pick one.” she reveals. “Most male Wraith would offer themselves up, as being a Queen's Consort is a great honor. The Consort usually also becomes the Hive's Commander, which bears its own difficulties, such as, many Hives not having the most capable one in charge, but the prettiest.”

Keller giggles.
“I can see why that would happen in a system like that.” she says and grins.
“What of you and your kin? How does courtship work here?” Nova asks, and Keller finds herself clearing her throat again.
“It's a lot more liberal, I guess?” she begins. “We have an equal ratio between males and females, so there's not as much competition. Plus, we're a patriarchal society, so there's a whole lot of nasty in that context. Not too long ago, women were pretty much their husband's property, and sometimes, they're still treated that way. There's a lot of abuse in relationships between humans. A lot of coercion and violence.”
She cuts off, upon seeing Nova's expression.

Nova isn't the most expressive person, nor is she easy to read, but now, Keller sees nothing but unabashed disgust on her alien features.
“That is revolting.” she comments. “Have you experienced this before?”
Keller gulps, trying to stomach the fact that a Wraith Queen is asking her if she's been a victim of domestic abuse before.

“Well... I haven't had it this bad, but the majority of my boyfr-... male Consorts were very unpleasant people. Didn't respect me, cheated on me... that sort of stuff.” she explains, while Nova regards her with utter befuddlement.
“But you are a Queen. I cannot fathom how anyone would disrespect a Queen who chose them worthy of her affections.” she protests, and Keller smiles weakly.
“I'm not. I'm just a woman.” she corrects her. “There's not many Queens among humans.”

Nova's hands tangle, and her forehead creases a little.
“Do your women support each other? If there is this much pain attached to womanhood in your society, they must stick together, must they not?” she inquires, and Keller shrugs.
“Some do. Some play this 'If I put down other women with you, will you treat me like a person?' game with men. It's a mess, really, now that I think about it.” she explains, and Nova nods slowly.

“That is sad.” she muses and Keller nods.
“Humans are weird.” she admits. “But, Atlantis isn't like this. We're all equal here.”
She somehow felt the need to defend her people to Nova somewhat, especially because of the horrified expression she sports.

“Are you happy here? Away from the violence of your home planet?” Nova then inquires, apparently believing her statement.
“Yes! I feel like I can truly make a difference here, you know!” Keller exclaims, and places her hand on Nova's knee without thinking much about it. To her surprise, she doesn't flinch. “Things are tough, and there's always that looming danger, but I've gotten used to it. Atlantis is my home.”

Nova looks down to her hand, then back up at her face.
“Say.” she starts. “Is 'Dr. Keller' your name, or your designation?”
“Ah, both.” she responds, lightly surprised by the question. “We have first and last names. The last name tells you what family we belong to, and the first name is individual. The 'Doctor' is my profession, and 'Keller' is my last name.”
Nova angles her head again, as she so often does.
“What is your first name, then?” she inquires.
“It's Jennifer.” she responds, and feels a rush of adrenaline. On first name base with a Wraith.

“Jennifer.” Nova parrots, and the name sounds strange coming out of her mouth.
“Yes.”
“What does it mean?” Nova continues asking and Jennifer shrugs.
“Not much. I heard that you name each other based on personality and so on, but we don't do that. My name is pretty standard for a human.” she explains, and then leans forward a little. “What does your name mean?”

Nova tenses lightly.
“A dying star.” she says. “It refers to how... effective my methods sometimes are, if self destructive. My mother, Coldamber, told me that she believes I will die in fire and chaos. As stars do.”
“Your mother? Where is she now, in all of this?” Jennifer asks, gently, not wanting to upset Nova again.

She almost yanks her hand back, when she feels Nova's cool skin hit hers.
“She is dead.” she says. “She died in the lanthean waters, not too long ago.”
“I'm sorry to hear that.” Jennifer says, and turns her hand under Nova's, to properly hold it. It feels strange, like uncharted territory, but she doesn't feel the need to withdraw.

“Do not worry.” Nova assures her. “We were not very close.”
“You carry the name that she gave you, though.” Jennifer remarks, and Nova shakes her head.
“I do not. She would use this metaphor to scold me. I am twisting its meaning into something positive.” She looks up to Jennifer, an entirely new expression on her face now. Stronger. Prouder. “This name is my own.”

Jennifer opens her mouth to say something, but Nova's hand is ripped from her in an instant, as she falls from the bed, forward, onto her knees, clutching her head.
“Nova?!” Jennifer cries out, and sinks to the ground with her, just to yelp in surprise.

She's slammed her feeding hand on her chest, and Jennifer feels her feeding organ seal against her skin, but there's no pain, nor do her claws set.
Nova draws a ragged breath, and her off hand grabs Jennifer's shoulder; she looks up to her in panic.

“She is here.” she breathes, and Jennifer locks her hand around Nova's wrist. It doesn't feel like an attempt to feed.
It feels like she's holding on to her.

Seconds later, the alarm sounds.

“Nova-...” Jennifer breathes, and feels the stinger dig into her skin, but still, Nova does not feed.
“Stay with me.” she demands, her voice shaky and full of a fear Jennifer has never heard before. “Do not leave me. I cannot-...”

She's cut off by the click of a gun, pointed at her head, but she hardly reacts.
“Leave it, Sergeant! She isn't hurting me!” Jennifer hurriedly proclaims, and the Marine lowers his weapon, a look of confusion on his face.
“Her hand-...” he begins.
“I know, but she isn't feeding on me, can't you see?” Jennifer's voice is shrill with panic. “Go to the Control Room, report to Colonel Sheppard! He'll need you more than I do, go!”

Nova emits a soft sound of pain, somewhere in between a whimper and a hiss. Jennifer looks at her, and touches her cheek, her fingers feeling dampness from her ears.
She's bleeding.

“What is happening to you?” she almost pleads her, and Nova glances up, her strained eyes locking with hers.
“Death. She-...” She pauses to wince in pain. “My mind. She wants to crush me, I cannot-... I am too weak.”

“No! No, listen! You aren't! I can't help you, but I know that you can fend her off. Atlantis will defend itself well, but you must push through until they defeat her!” she nearly shouts at her, and the claws of Nova's off hand dig into her shoulder.

“She is killing me.” she presses forth. “I am dying, Jennifer.”
“Then resist! Fight back!” Jennifer grabs her with both hands, and lightly shakes her. “You're a Queen, just like her. You're on her level, and I know you can fight her! Don't just roll over and die, damn it!”

Her feeding hand twitches, Jennifer feels the muscles tense on her palm.
“You... need to feed, don't you. If you do, you can...” she whispers, horror creeping into her voice.
“No! … Yes. I could. But I will not... I cannot.” She breathes heavily, and her stinger breaks skin. Jennifer winces. “This helps. I can remain like this. I just need to feel your life. I will not take it from you.”

There's a breathless silence between the two women.
“It comforts you.” Jennifer assumes, and Nova nods silently. “Nova, listen. If you can fend her off, you can... you can borrow my life. Take it, and give it back when you're done. I will trust you like this.”

Nova shakes her head.
“If I drink your life.” she hisses. “I will drain you dry. This is enough. It will be enough for me, just-...”
A rumble goes through the city. “Just let me hold on to you.”

Jennifer closes her eyes, and pulls Nova close, wrapping her arms around her.
“I trust you.” she says, as the Wraith trembles in her embrace. “And I believe in you.”

Nova does not respond.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

“That's the alarm! C'mon, I'm probably needed in the control room, and I can't leave either of you alone here, move it!” McKay urges them both; Guide and Erinya exchange a glance.

“We need weapons.” Guide states, voice ice-cold, with a frighteningly concerned undertone. Erinya bites her lower lip, while McKay shakes his head.
“Nice try. You won't need any weapons to fight a Hive from Atlantis.” he claims, and Guide gives him an intense stare.
“The enemy is in the City, Dr. McKay. I can sense other Wraith, aside from Nova.” he says, and McKay goes pale.

“What? Impossible. Wraith don't have beam technology, and-...”
“We do.” Erinya interrupts him. “Vampire Base Ships have beam technology, Doctor, and you've never encountered them before. It's likely that Atlantis can't counter that.”

“Oh. Oh no.” is McKay's only comment, and his eyes dart around the room helplessly. “Then I can't just... go to the control room by myself. We're trapped here.”
“We can escort you. But for that, we need to be able to fight.” Guide insists, sounding like he's speaking to a misbehaving child.

“I know! I know, okay?” McKay snaps at him. “But the next armory is two levels below us, we can't get there, if the City's been compromised!”

Guide looks just about at the end of his patience, but Erinya snaps her fingers at McKay.
“You have your workstation here, yes?” she asks him, and even Guide perks up briefly.
“I do, why?” McKay looks puzzled, but hopeful.
“Spare radios, too?” Erinya continues, and McKay nods, wondering where she's going with this. “Give me one. Observe the life signs on your station, and direct me around them. Even if they find me, it won't be much of a loss. I will heal every injury, the worst that can happen to me is capture.”

“You intend to go by yourself?” Guide asks her, a sharp hiss in his voice.
“Yes. We can't afford to lose McKay, so you need to stay and protect him until I return with weapons. Then, all three of us can fight our way to the control room, and hope it's not compromised yet.” Erinya explains. “Listen – I'm a meat shield. I should be doing this.”

“Very well. I will stay put.” he agrees, although Erinya can clearly tell how little he approves. She shoves the thought aside, and tells herself, she'll deal with his disapproval after the danger has passed.
McKay, on the other hand, shoots Guide a nervous glance, but doesn't comment on it, nor on the fact that he'll be alone and unguarded with him.

“Right. Radios. Here, take this one.” He fiddles with the contraption, setting it to the right channel. “I'll have the city map up in a moment, but go ahead.”

Erinya nods to them both, opens the door, and leaves the room. Once the doors close behind her, she takes a deep breath, and listens for nearby enemies.
Footsteps, several dozen sets, above her, she deduces, and begins moving into the corridor carefully.

Halfway in, her radio crackles.
“Okay, that door straight ahead. There's four of them in the corridor behind it, but it's the closest access to the stairs.” McKay tells her, his voice sounding like he's whispering. “If you keep close to your left, you should be able to avoid them, they're all moving around in the rear section of the hall.”

“Copy that.” Erinya mutters into the radio, and approaches the door in a light jog, opens it with a swift gesture in front of the sensor.
The soft hiss the door produces when it slides open has her holding her breath. She can hear people speaking up ahead, but luckily, it doesn't seem like they've noticed her.

Following McKay's directions, she hugs the wall to her left, stepping lightly to avoid making unnecessary noise.

“Good, I can see where you are.” McKay's voice sounds again. “Turn left into that room, that's the stairwell. Descend two levels, but be careful, there's people moving around above you, they might come your way.”
Erinya grits her teeth.
“I heard them earlier.” she responds in a hushed tone. “I think I can avoid them, I'll let you know when I'm past them.”

Erinya sets her radio to silent, and tries to focus on the footsteps.
They sound closer now, clearly approaching, as McKay had said, and doing so fast.
Fuck that, she thinks to herself, and rushes into the stairwell, hurrying down the stairs taking two steps at a time.
Worrying that the people above her might cut her off from the armory, she sacrifices stealth for speed, jumping over the railing on the second set of stairs, and reactivating her radio.

“Where to now?” she asks, slightly out of breath.
“To your left, about 200 meters.” McKay responds, sounding equally breathless. Erinya wonders what's going on back in the lab. “Coast is clear ahead, but I think the ones behind you heard you, they're moving faster now.”
“Figured. I'll have to outmaneuver them, find me a route that lets me bypass them on the way back.” she requests, double-timing it down the hall, and opening the door to the armory.

She closes it behind her, and finds herself in a small room, lined tightly with shelves and boxes. A few Wraith Stun-Rifles lean against the wall facing her, and she immediately grabs one, recalling Guide using one as a melee weapon before.
“P90s, utility handguns, stunners, what else?” she asks into her radio.
“Get some C4, while you're there, just in case we need it.” McKay requests, and Erinya stuffs some into her vest, then turns to grab two P90s, one for her, one for McKay. She also picks out a handgun for Guide.

“Got that. Where do I go now?” she reports.
“Okay. Leave the room and turn to your right. There's an air duct, you can crawl through and come out directly back in the lab.” McKay offers her, and she raises her eyebrow.
“Is that wide enough for me?” she inquires, and hears a huff from McKay.
“Wasn't my idea.” he informs her, and Erinya smirks.
“Right. I'll just suck in my belly.”

Stepping outside and turning right, she sees the vent immediately. The lid is easily removes, and she stuffs her acquired weapons in, then enters herself.
Erinya would have loved to close the vent behind her, but she can't exactly turn around in the tiny crawlspace.
Trying not to get claustrophobic, she takes a deep breath.

“Okay, I'm in. There's a crossing ahead, which way?” she asks, now whispering again.
“Uh, left way. Then follow the duct for about 500 meters.” McKay instructs.
“Got it.” she response, sighing, and pushing the weapons in front of her. It makes an abhorrent scraping noise. Wonderful.

It's tough to move in this small space, and even tougher to pick up any speed, or to mask her noises in any way.
She knows, she's passing in between floors, and everyone above and below knows that she's there.

“Okay, okay! I can see where you are! There should be a vent below you soon, that leads directly back into the lab, so-...”

McKay's relieved voice drowns in the sharp sound of gunfire, and Erinya feels her insides rip.
Pain sears through her entire body, and she bites back a gasp, tasting metal on her tongue.
“Erinya?!” McKay's voice is slightly shrill.
She only manages to grunt in responds, and shifts to press her hand against her abdomen. A few specks of light illuminate her body, bullet holes in the thin metal the air ducts are made of.

There's no point in trying to conceal her presence anymore. She knows, she's bled enough to have it leak through the holes, even if she's already healing.

“I'm fine. Get ready to defend yourself, they shot up at me, they know I'm here.” she informs them, and hurries to move on, leaving a bloody trail behind.
She reaches the vent quickly – it's already open, and she can see the familiar interior of the lab.

“Guide!” she calls down, and hands the rifle through the vent. It finds purchase, and she lets go, handing one of her P90s through. “McKay, take that one.”
Taking her own gun between her teeth, Erinya crawls over the vent, in order to descend feet first, and making her exit a bit more graceful than faceplanting on McKay's tablet.

Not a second too soon, the doors open, and McKay starts firing blindly at the attackers.
Erinya squints through the gunfire, and the stun blasts from Guide. Vampires, she can tell, two Wraith commanders, and a whole bunch of Drones.
She raises her weapon too, and aims for one of the Drones, narrowly missing his head, and hitting his shoulder instead.
To her utmost surprise, the wound doesn't heal.

Gritting her teeth once more, she unloads her magazine on the Wraith.
They're lucky to have the element of surprise through Erinya's weapon delivery, and manage to decimate their attackers before much damage can be done.

Once the fire does down, Guide lowers the rifle and approaches the bodies, crouching down beside them, and examining them.
“Erinya.” he says flatly, and she catches up to him.

He looks up to her, and points at the numerous non-lethal bullet wounds on the Wraith, especially emphasizing the two Commanders.

“They didn't heal.” he states, and Erinya nods.
“I noticed that. I hit one in the shoulder, and it didn't mend.” she agrees.
“She's starving them.” Guide deduces. “It does make sense. Death has been wiping out human civilizations as a show of power, or to force other Hives to join her. This is what her tactic has wrought. Starvation of my people, again.”

“One more reason to take her down.” Erinya hisses, and gives one of the Vampires a light kick. “These too. Death probably uses her supplies to keep herself and her inner circle fed, at most.”

“We must go.” Guide says, and rises to his feet again, silently accepting the handgun Erinya hands him.

“Isn't that really poor planning, to attack Atlantis with infantry, and having them all be starved, and without ability to heal?” McKay dares to ask, as he catches up to them.
“Precisely.” Guide responds. “I doubt that this is a conceited effort to take the City. She's planning something.”
“That's comforting.” McKay mutters.
“It was no attempt to comfort you.” Guide bluntly states, and speeds up, rifle spun to have the point end stick out.

The three hurry through the corridors, gunning down any starved individual that attempts to oppose them. Guide's right. This is entirely too easy, and his theory, that this may be a diversion, seems more and more plausible by every passing minute.

Right as Erinya is about to reload her P90, and open fire on a group of Vampires, a blinding light surrounds them, and they vanish.

She pauses, brows furrowed.
“They retreated.” she states the obvious. “Whatever Death was planning, I believe she's done now.”
“We will learn soon enough.” Guide responds sourly. “Dr. McKay, they will need you for damage control. Erinya and I will patrol the City to find potential stragglers.”

McKay looks hesitant, but ultimately nods.

Jennifer feels her breath come in quick, strangled huffs, as the doors open.
She's definitely on a Hive Ship, alone in a large room with a throne at it's center. Not good. Not good at all.

She whips around to face whoever just entered, and feels her breath come to a halt immediately.
It's a Queen.

She's dressed in fine, dark silks, not much taller than Jennifer herself, but her entire demeanor suggests power. So unlike Nova, Jennifer thinks. This is the aura a Queen gives off. She almost misses the fragile, vulnerable persona Nova has.

The Queen approaches her, and Jennifer feels her body ceasing to respond to her. She can't move, can't even make a sound as the Wraith closes in, and raises her feeding hand to her level.
Helplessly staring, Jennifer sees it come toward her in slow motion, but the pain she expect never comes.

Instead, her knees sag, and she drops, kneeling before her, as her hand lightly traces her jawline.

“Good girl.” she hears her speak, in her oddly-timbered voice, the multi-layered vibrations rippling through Jennifer's ribcage.
She exhales sharply, and feels pressure on her neck, as if the woman was holding her by the throat.

“Dr. Keller, yes? It took me a lot of effort to be able to meet you personally.” she hums, angling her head at her, like Nova used to.
Nova... Jennifer squeezes her eyes shut for a brief moment. Yes, she was there when the stunners had hit her.

“Where's Nova?” she managed to press forth, and draws a short, humorless bark of laughter from the Queen.
“Nova? So, my useless sister gave you her true name, has she now?” she responds, her claws raking over Jennifer's cheek. “She lives still. I may change my mind about that soon, however.”

She lets go, and Jennifer doesn't feel the strength to get up again, nor does she feel like she'd survive the attempt.

“You must be wondering why I have not ended your worthless life yet, yes?” the Queen asks nonchalantly, and whatever courage let Jennifer speak before fades. She swallows hard, and waits.
“As much as I hate to say it, I have a need for your cooperation.” she continues. “My Unyielding Thirst, it cannot yet penetrate your city's shields. I want you to improve it for me. You can do that, yes?”

Jennifer nods quickly. Yes, she can. She knows how the weapon works. But...
“And if I refuse?” she asks, her voice but a choked whimper.
“If you refuse, I will feed on you.” the Queen bluntly responds. “Then I will restore you, and feed on you again, until you beg me to let you die.”

She leans closer, close enough for Jennifer to feel her breath on her face.
“I am positive that you will see the benefit in obeying me, Dr. Keller.”

Almost on command – or actually on command, Jennifer thinks, recalling the Wraith's ability to speak voicelessly, - two Drones enter the room, grab her by her arms, and pull her to her feet.
Fearfully, Jennifer stares at the Queen, whose hand is now toying with the zipper of her jacket. A wicked smile creeps across her lips, and Jennifer feels her heart rate pick up.

“Take her to her workspace.” the Queen orders, and the Drones manhandle her toward the door.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

I set myself up for the fall
Withdrawing deep into the hole
This isolated little cell leaves me cold and faded
-Celldweller: Fadeaway

Nova's head spins.
A dull, throbbing pain pounds behind her temples, and she raises her hands to her forehead. Opening her eyes, she makes an attempt at reconstructing what happened.

She was in the infirmary, with Jennifer, talking, when she'd felt the intrusion upon her mind, the iron grip she's all too familiar with, locking around the very core of her being, choking her, crushing her.
The searing pain in her chest, the overwhelming power forcing her to her knees, fear clouding her thoughts.

And Jennifer.
Jennifer's life, pounding with every beat of her heart, so close to her, so easy to reach. The soft hum of her essence under Nova's palm, the warmth of her skin.
She'd honestly thought she could block the assault out until it's over.

Then, the alarm, the stunners. Her vision fading.

She breathes, and fights herself to her feet.
It's a cell, one of the holding cells on a Hive, she deduces, but she knows, it's not one of the areas human prisoners are kept in, no.
Her cell has no open crevices leading to the outside, it's entirely closed off, and nearly too dark to see in, were it not for Nova's night vision.

Nova breathes heavily, trying to fight back the panic rising in her chest, her mind reaching out for someone, anyone. She searches for Guide, hoping to still be in range of Atlantis, but she fails to make contact.
Silence engulfs her, just like before, only the impenetrable barrier around her, cutting her off from the rest of the Hive.

A nearly hysterical sob escapes her.
No, she can't. She escaped. She can't go back to this, to being her sister's prisoner. She's tasted freedom, she's begun to heal, she cannot live through this again.

Nova feels tears burning in the corners of her eyes. Her hands tremble, flex idly by her sides, and her breath picks up its pace.
Letting her eyes dart about the room, trying to find some place to stare at, something to ground herself on, Nova feels the feeling of pressure on her rib cage intensify. She feels like she can't breathe, and hears herself making another pathetic sound of despair, before her knees give in.

There she is again, on the ground, shaking with panic and rocking with every sob that leaves her.

It feels like hours went by, when the door finally opens again.

A Blade enters the room, flanked by two Drones on each side. One of them is dragging an unconscious human boy, and drops him to the ground.

Nova looks up, eyes bloodshot, cheeks puffy from crying, not missing the look of disgust the Blade regards her with. She reaches out, her mind desperately trying to connect to him.
'Don't leave me here' she begs, but there is no reaction. She's not even sure she reached him.

Instead, the Blade approaches her, crudely grabs her chin, and forces her to expose her neck to him, then reaches into his coat's pockets, producing a small physician's dart, and jams it into her artery.
Nova yelps in surprise, and the Blade thrusts her back to the ground, then turns to leave again.

A burning, prickling sensation is left around the incision, crawling through her veins and spreading. Nova sits up, light headed, and gives the sleeping boy a look.
They certainly didn't put him here to give her some company.

Attempting to steady her breathing, she leans with her back to the wall, and closes her eyes. She feels her feeding hand involuntarily twitch as she does, and the ever-present feeling of hunger intensifying with each deep breath she draws.

The pain grows, and she resolves herself. She needs to remain calm now.
Inhale, hold, exhale. She counts the seconds between each breath, trying to focus on her lungs expanding, instead of her guts twisting and cramping with hunger.

The spot where the dart had broken her skin begins stinging harshly again, as if something had bitten her, and her off hand jerks up.
There's wetness on her skin, and she pulls her hand back, to look at her fingertips.
Her carefully calculated breath hitches, when she sees dark blood coating her index- and middle finger. Has the wound not healed? Or did it rip back open?

Her brief sound of surprise seems to have roused the boy. He now sits at the furthest corner of the room, with as much space between him and her as possible, staring at her. His chest rises and falls quickly, just like Nova's.

“Please,” his lips form, but no sound reaches Nova. She just stares back into his fear-widened eyes.

Raising her other hand to look at her palm, Nova shifts her attention from the boy.
Her feeding slit is wide open, the stinger's tip peeking out. She doesn't recall having done this. A stifled sob has her looking up again, and she makes eye contact with the boy again.

He's crying, gaze locked on her feeding hand, and the enzyme that as started dripping. Nova studies him; he looks young, younger than Jennifer. She tries to recall her explanations of human aging, but her mind won't let her remember her words.

“You are a child.” she says out loud, her voice hoarse and raw.
The boy's expression turns from fear to surprise, at being spoken to.
“I'm.. sixteen.” he responds, shaky and heavy with tears.
“Is that old?” Nova asks him, still mostly staring at her palm.
“No. No, it isn't.” he replies hastily. “I-.. I will tell you everything you want to know, just please, don't … do that to me.”

Nova regards him through her fingers. He must think she's this Hive's Queen, about to interrogate him. How wrong he is.
She slowly shakes her head.

“I do not want to hurt you.” she assures him. “Just stay away from me.”
The boy presses tighter against the wall, and nods. Nothing he'd rather do, Nova muses, but she can smell him. Her hand flexes again, by itself.

How easy it would be, to just walk over to him, and slam her hand on his chest, tasting his life, relishing in it, letting it flow into her. He's got nowhere to go, locked in here with her, a starving Wraith.
Nova bites back a hungry snarl.

No, she will not play Death's game. She has little care for what horrid contraption they're testing on her now, but she will not give them the satisfaction of feeding on this boy, to either keep her alive longer, or give them the data they want.

There's no glory in dying. But maybe, just maybe, Nova can save at least her pride.

Hunger surges, and she curls up in her corner, trying to focus on her breathing again.

“Nova and Dr. Keller aren't accounted for.” Helena explains.
Her, the Atlantis higher-ups, and Guide and Erinya have assembled in the conference room.
“She sent her guards to me when the alarms went off.” Sheppard notes. “Was entirely defenseless.”

“Dr. McKay already confirmed that our shields don't block vampiric beaming tech.” Woolsey says, leaning forward in his seat. “We can assume that Queen Death's Vampire associates made this raid possible, yes?”

“Yes, that's likely. After all, I did see some of Euridice's men in the assault force.” Helena confirms, and side-eyes Erinya and Guide. “You mentioned a theory.”

“So I did.” Guide responds. “The group we encountered was devastatingly underfed. I theorize that this may have been a plot to distract us from Death's actual objective, that being, recapture of her sister.”
“And Keller? Why would she want her?” Teyla inquires, and Guide angles his head.
“Dr. Keller worked on the retrovirus. She is likely the single person on this base, well versed in human and wraith biology. I would not put it beyond Death to attempt to utilize her in some form.”

“So, she's probably still alive, yeah?” Ronon grunts at him, seemingly trying to cram as much disrespect into his statement as humanly possible.
“If she cooperates, yes. If she resists, she will die quickly.” Guide informs nonchalantly, and Ronon narrows his eyes.

“The ships dropped into Hyperspace the moment they had their people back on board.” McKay chimes in. “There's no way to track them, so even if they're still alive, launching a rescue mission is gonna be impossible.”
“Doesn't Nova carry a subspace transmitter, like you?” Erinya asks Guide, and her gives her a half-shrug.
“Queens always do, but I cannot imagine Death letting her keep it.” he replies. “It is worth an attempt, however.”

He looks like he intends to continue speaking, but cuts off, then his eyes light up briefly.
“Ah, that may not be necessary after all. Queen Ivory is back, and she has brought backup.”

Glacier paces restlessly before the others in the conference room. Her heavy skirts rustle with every step, and Ivory follows her movement with her gaze.
“Nova is important to me.” she opens. “If Death has her back in her clutches, I must respond.”
“We do not have the firepower to counter her fleet.” Glacier hisses at her, stopping in her tracks. “She will wipe us all out.”

“Listen, Lady, we don't necessarily need 'firepower' to extract two people, okay? All we need is access to the Hiveship, and a few guns.” Sheppard chimes in, and Glacier looks at him she she wants to kill him right there and now. “Get me and my team in there, and we'll have them in no time.”

“This is Queen Death we are talking about.” she hisses, but he seems entirely unimpressed.
“I've wreaked my fair share of havoc on Hiveships before.” he says. “And I've killed a bunch of Queens, too.”
“I am certain you have.” Glacier almost spits at him, and turns away.

“He has a point, sister.” Ivory's soft hum contrasts her sister's anger. “A stealth rescue mission may be a good way to handle this issue.”
“Even if that were to work, we would still need to get in range of the Unyielding Hunger to carry this mission out.” Glacier counters, now less hostile, but no less skeptical.

Helena huffs.
“How's the work on the jammer going?” she asks, and Erinya looks up at Guide.
“Well,...” she begins, but he doesn't let her finish.
“Give us a few hours, and we will be ready to upload the jamming code into Queen Glacier's Hive. Colonel Sheppard and his team can be outfitted with the portable versions of it.” he speaks, fast and determined, Helena raises her brow at him.

“Mhm. I'll have Vincent come here, and supply us with the necklaces. Erinya, Guide, you will both accompany Sheppard's team. Guide, because they will need someone well versed in Wraith Technology, and Erinya, because-...”

“Food. I know.” Erinya finishes her sentence. “Let's get to work.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

The room is blurring before Nova's strained eyes, when she hears the door opening again. The noise feels far away, and she hardly reacts. Someone is violently dragged in, and thrown to the ground. Nova hears her name being whispered in terror, and then, an iron grip locks around her throat.

She hacks, struggles weakly, and forces herself to focus her vision.
It's the Blade from before, holding her an arm's length away from himself, looking at her with disgust, as if she were vermin.
He slams her against the wall, next to the shivering boy she'd spared, and regards them both for a moment, still pinning Nova with his off hand.

His feeding hand pulls back, winding up to be slammed on someone's chest. Nova closes her eyes, expecting her less-than-merciful end, fed on by a Blade, but he keeps her waiting.
The familiar sizzle of life being drawn has her eyes snap open, and she looks to her side, seeing the boy's face, frozen in a silent scream, withering under the Blade's hand.

Silver streaks lace his hair, and Nova feels her palm burn angrily. She struggles hard against the Blade's off hand, but in the process of feeding, her starved form is no match for him. Snarling, he makes eye contact, and she briefly feels the sensation of energy flooding her cells, just to have it ripped from her mind again.

She winces, as they boy's dying breath leaves his dried up lips, and the Blade withdraws from him, and her as well. Baring teeth at her, in a sinister grin, he rises to his feet, and leaves the cell, Nova looks after him, pressing herself against the wall.

Hunger burns in her chest, and her feeding hand trembles.

“Oh my god.” she hears a familiar voice whisper. Her head whips around, to look in the direction the words had come from, and something inside of her turns to ice.
It's Jennifer.
Ragged and dirtied, exhaustion drawing dark circles under her eyes, she cowers there, together with her in a cell. Nova's pupils dilate, and she draws a rattling breath.

“Jennifer.” she croaks, and the woman closes in, hands hovering helplessly over her form.
“Oh my god, I'm so sorry.” Jennifer whispers, horror in her voice. “It was you – the tissue samples, the data.. oh my god, they made me hurt you. Oh Nova, I'm so sorry.”
“Made you hurt me?” she parrots, her head spinning still, and Jennifer tearfully nods.
“Yes. Yes, Nova, they captured us both, do you remember? The Queen told me to work on the Unyielding Thirst, she's trying to turn it into a gas to bypass Atlantis' shields, and... oh my god, they must've tested my formula on you.” Jennifer finally lowers her hands, and rests them on Nova's knees.

Slowly, she moves her head from side to side.
“No. No, you-... This is not on you.” she struggles to articulate. Her gaze is locked on the small patch of skin, exposed under Jennifer's collarbone.
Nova is so very hungry, and the thought of giving in, of feeding on Jennifer makes her guts cramp up into a ball.

“You're in pain, aren't you? You're starving, Nova.” Jennifer says, lowering her voice. Nova sees her gaze flicker to the dried up corpse beside her. “That's why they brought me here. They have no use left for me, so they want to make you feed on me.”
“She knows, I do not want to.” Nova confirms, hoarsely whispering. “She wants to break me.”
“Nova...” Jennifer sounds like she's about to cry, but Nova shakes her head again.
“I did not hurt the boy they gave me before. Nor will I hurt you.” she reveals, firm and resolute despite her condition. “If I will die like this, then so be it. I will not give my sister the satisfaction of dictating the time of my death.”

There's a flicker in Jennifer's eyes, and a tear spills, running down her cheek, and dripping off her chin.
“What can I do?” she whispers, regarding Nova with so much grief already, it breaks her heart.
“Do not let me die alone.” Nova responds. “Stay with me.”

She wonders what she looks like to this human woman. Frail, shaking with hunger, broken and faded? Or dangerous and depraved, a predator, a ticking time bomb? Jennifer answers the question for her, and sits down beside her, draping her arm around Nova.
She pulls her close, and lets her rest her head on her shoulder. Nova's breath hitches in surprise, but she lets it happen, eagerly sinking into the embrace.

Jennifer feels warm and soft against Nova's prickling skin. She can smell her life, sweet and tempting, coursing through her veins, but her resolve is iron. She will not bend a hair on this woman's head.

“You have showed me great kindness.” she tells her, and feels Jennifer shift to look down at her.
“Have I?” she responds weakly.
“You are doing so right now.” Nova argues. “There is much I wanted to learn. Much I wanted to teach you, too.”
“Nova,-...”
“Jennifer, I am dying.” Nova interrupts her. “I can feel it. My body will soon start shutting down, unless I feed, and that is not an option. There are things I must tell you. Please, hear me out.”

“Alright.” Jennifer whispers, voice thick with tears. “Alright.”
Nova swallows hard, trying to gather enough strength to speak. When she does, her voice is strained and shaky, but still understandable.
“When I offered myself to be experimented on, as part of our bargain with your kind, I expected violence and hatred.” she begins. “I was used to it, the only thing I was good for. My sister had made me believe that.”
She feels Jennifer stir, her hand pressing against her upper arm, as if to provide comfort, yet she remains silent.
“You respected me and my boundaries.” she continues. “More than that, you were genuinely interested in my person, you made an effort to understand. You cared about my feelings, and were concerned about hurting them. You were... kind.”
Nova takes a moment to gather her thoughts, as they drift in her anguish, and she finds herself fantasizing about her hand on someone's chest again. Patiently, Jennifer waits.

“I wanted to know you.” she finally picks up again. “I wanted your companionship, your affection. I still do. Defying my sister is not the only reason I choose your life over mine. I care. For you.”

A tremble runs through Jennifer's body, and the wet sound of a sob rips through the cell. She shakes, trying to hold back her tears, but Nova feels every stifled hitch, feels her arms tightening the embrace, smells the salty trails down her face.
“I'm sorry.” she whispers. “I'm so sorry.”

“I wanted you to know this.” Nova says, feeling her strength falter, and darkness close in on the corners of her vision. “Now, I may be at peace.”
“No.” Jennifer gasps, grabs her, lifting her up with little effort. Nova feels the room spin again through the motion. “No, please. You can't just drop this on me, and then die. I won't let you.”
“These are my final moments, Jennifer. Please. Let me die in dignity.” Nova almost begs, feeling the hunger ripple through her like a fever, heated waves crashing over her. She doesn't have much time left.

“No, they aren't. I won't allow it to end like this. You are not dying on me.” Jennifer's eyes are still wet, red from crying, but there's a fire in them, a searing flame, determination, as Nova recognizes. She's almost powerless, as Jennifer situates her against the cell walls, and captures her feeding hand in hers.

“No-...” she protests weakly, and ultimately, it is futile. Her feeding organ seals against Jennifer's palm, by itself, but she sees not a single shred of doubt on her face.
“Listen to me.” Jennifer urges her. “You will feed on me. You will live, and then you find a way out of this cell, you'll feed on-... I don't care who, and then you come back for me. You won't take my life, I'll just lend it to you. We both walk away from this alive.”
“I cannot-...” Nova starts, but Jennifer simply places her index finger on her lips, a gesture that leaves the starving Wraith completely befuddled.

“You can. And you will. You're a Queen, for god's sake, I know you can do this!” Jennifer pulls her palm off hers, and leans closer, pulling Nova's feeding hand toward her.
The slit flares, enzyme dripping down her arm, and Nova struggles against her, but it's too late.

Instinct takes over, as her palm touches Jennifer's chest, and sweet, wonderful life beckoning to her, and her claws set. Her hungry snarl feels like a cry of pain, as she begins drawing life, seeing Jennifer's face wither before her.
Whimpering, the woman grips her shoulder, steadying herself, as waves of raw agony pulse through her.

And oh, Nova tastes her. Sweet, blissful, her essence flows into her system, flooding the pain away, mending and soothing. They're connected, and Nova has never felt the feeding process this intensely. Her body arches toward Jennifer, her head rolls back, but as her strength returns, she forces herself to regain control.
Hissing, she slows her drain, feeling Jennifer's frail body weakening at a frightening speed. Her energy trickle dies down, and Nova gently breaks Jennifer's fall.
Now in the shape of an old woman, she glances up at her, as Nova lays her down with utmost care, scared to break her furtherly.

A puff of air leaves Jennifer's parched lips, a feeble attempt to speak, and Nova feels tears well up in her eyes.
“Forgive me.” she whispers. “Forgive me, I could not contain myself.” Her blood stained hand runs over Jennifer's greyed hair, and her lips tremble.

“...fight...” she manages to articulate. “...for me...?”

Thoughts stumble over one another in Nova's mind. Jennifer does not have much time before the damage the feeding process has caused on her system kills her. She's strong, Nova has tasted that in her life, but even strong women can only take that much.
Her energy pulses in her body, and Nova leans down to Jennifer's face.

“I will not let this be in vain.” she tells her, and gets up, the sustenance filling her with power. Stopping before the door, she closes her eyes, and sends her mind out.
Now, in good shape, and fueled by anger, she breaks the mental confines. There are two Drones outside, guarding her cell.

Nova breathes deeply, and assumes control. The Drone moves mechanically, his eyes becoming hers, and he rams the end of his rifle into his fellow guard's chest. Nova feels the warm blood spill over his arm, as if it were her own. Next, she makes him turn around, and use the door sensor.
Obediently, the doors slide open, and Nova opens her eyes.

The Drone stand there, facing her, not moving a muscle, as she holds him firm in her mental grip. She grits her teeth, and slams her still-bloodied hand on his chest, wedging it in between his armor and his neck.

He's disgusting, lacking a regular Wraith's integrity, and a human's fire. The equivalent to stale bread, she devours him, draining his life in one fell swoop. A grim sense of satisfaction runs through her, watching his drained remains collapse before her.
It's irrational. This Drone was mindless, and had nothing to do with Death's abuse, but still, Nova considers him an acceptable stand-in for the real deal.
Setting the door to remain open, she hurries back into the cell, and kneels down beside Jennifer.

Her glassy eyes move to face her, and Nova smiles.
“You will live. As will I.” she assures her, and lowers her hand on her chest again, eagerly re-clamping her feeding slit against the prominent wound. “Just like you said.”

Then, Nova closes her eyes, and prepares herself mentally.
In slow, calculated waves, she feeds the life she'd drained from the Drone into Jennifer's system, careful not to overwhelm her.
Her sunken cheeks fill up, and honeyed gold runs in streaks through her hair, her eyes gaining clarity. She breathes sharply, and comes alive, her hand snapping around Nova's wrist, and euphoria crashes down on her.

Nova does her best to keep her breathing steady, trying not to lose herself in the Gift, so intimately connected to Jennifer, so tangled up in her presence.
Gently, she regulates the flow of energy, watching Jennifer recover under her hand, removing it with a wet smack.
She discreetly wipes the blood off her palm, while Jennifer reels from the Gift of Life, and sits up.

“See? Everything turned out fine. You did great.” she praises her, and Nova feels a pleasant prickle on her cheeks, feeling a dark tint creep into them.
“We have not won yet.” she dampens Jennifer's enthusiasm, but she shakes her head.
“You can do it. Together with me, we will survive this. I know we will.” Without shying away, she takes her bloody hand, squeezes it. “You will teach me so many things about yourself, your people, and everything else. I'll show you Earth. I'll show you my favorite TV-Shows, and you'll start understanding references. I'll teach you to sing, to dance, and we watch the stars together. I want to live, Nova, and I want you to live too. We will get through this.”

Nova only understand half of what she's on about, but her gentle tone drives the message home.

“Death will do her best to prevent this.” she says, breathing out heavily. “But I can do this. I can take her. I am not what she wants me to believe I am. I am stronger than this. I am better than this.”
Jennifer nods vigorously.
“You can do this. Come. Let's go retake your Hive.”

Fueled by newfound bliss, Nova nods.
“We will need weapons.” she says, and points at the dead Drones. “Have you ever fired a stun rifle before?”
“Matter of fact, I have. Colonel Sheppard made everyone learn how to operate them.” Jennifer says, lets go of Nova's hand, and takes the clean rifle, leaving the one with Wraith guts on the spear-end to Nova.

“Excellent. Stay behind me.” she command, and rips the weapon out of the Drone's torso. “It is not far to the Queen's quarters. If we get the drop on her, we may be able to kill Death, once and for all.”

The words sound almost utopian to her,but Nova stands firm, feeling Jennifer's warmth still. It's time to take back her life, her pride, and her soul.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

“Admiral, I have a visual on the fleet.”

Vincent's voice tears Helena out of her thoughts. Her, Vincent's ship, the Daedalus, as well as Ivory's and Glacier's Hives have been tracking Nova's subspace transmitter signal for about two weeks on end now. Lethargy has befallen her, but now, she feels awake again, for the first time in days.

“Charge weapons, and-...” she responds into the connection, but Vincent cuts her off.
“Not Queen Death's fleet, Admiral.” he corrects her. “It's Vampires. Six ships, painted with Captain Myah's emblems.”

Helena's heart jumps, and she rises from her seat, looks over her shoulder to Erinya, who has been standing by in Ivory's place.
“Hail them.” Helena orders, and a few button presses later, Myah's face appears on the screens, regarding Helena with a toothy smile.

She looks good, dressed in dark combat attire, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, every piercing on her face new, in shimmering silver.
Silverlight flanks her, a serious expression on his face, hands clasped behind his back.
“Admiral Helena.” Myah greets, a hint of jest in her voice.
“Myah.” Helena responds. “You're early. I didn't expect you to finish so soon.”
“Silverlight's assistance proved invaluable.” Myah responds. “Aside that, I had... more support from our kin back on homeworld. Nisha provided, as I had hoped.”

Helena breathes sharply and nods.
“With this, we may actually be able to defeat Death's fleet once and for all.”
“I was wondering why you had this many ships escorting you.” Myah angles her head as she speaks. “Helena, we are not ready to face her yet. We must rally more troops, and-...”
“I'm afraid we're out of time.” Helena's tone is firm, with a grim undertone. “She attacked Atlantis, and took Nova. We're moving to attack, because we want to rescue her.”

“This fleet will not last long against Death.” Silverlight chimes in. “All we may be able to do, is buy time.”
“And that may very well be all we need. I have a strikeforce ready, we will beam them in, extract Nova, and flee. Death will not fall today, but Nova won't either.” Helena crosses her arms. “This entire fleet is here to distract her. In a few hours, we will reach them.”

Nova has the layout of the ship in her mind, as she leads Jennifer through its halls, picking the less frequented paths, keeping her mind on the lookout for presences of others, and avoiding them.
She's looking for strong minds, minds that are awake and alive, potential threats. In hindsight, she shouldn't be surprised that she didn't feel this particular one coming.

“My Queen.” a weak, shaking voice croaks to her right, both her ad Jennifer whip around, rifles at the ready, but Nova quickly lowers her weapon.

There, locked in a holding cell, lies a familiar Wraith, a relic of the life she thought she'd lost, faded and frail, on the verge of death.
It's a young Blade, his coat half open, a feeding scar on his heaving chest, rattling with every labored breath he draws.

“Rain,” she breathes and rushes to the cell's door. His off hand jolts forward, and locks around hers.
“I believed-...” he gasps, struggling to speak. “When she asked me to kneel-... I thought you to be dead, I could not.. feel your mind anymore, I-...”
“Do not speak.” Nova interrupts him. “You are dying. Conserve your strength.”
“I hoped... this entire time, you would return, my Queen. I thought it to be childish, irrational.” Rain's trembles when another wave of hunger washes over him. “I was right. I was right after all.”

He looks up at her, a blissful smile on his strained face, and his hand twitches in hers. There's not enough strength in him to acknowledge, or even detect Jennifer's presence, his tunnel vision focused entirely on Nova, adoration and devotion in his eyes.

“You did not waver.” she whispers to him, well aware that he's cut off from her mentally, and reaches through the bars, placing her hand on his chest. “You did not falter in your loyalty, My Blade. I will reward you.”
Rain's eyes go wide, as she feeds him, energy she drained off the Drones filling his system, soothing his pain, sating his hunger.
It's not enough to bring him to his prime, at least not without compromising herself, but Nova knows, Rain will live.
When her hand withdraws, there are tears in his eyes.

“My Queen,” he weeps. “Nova.”

“This ends today.” she declares. “Death will fall. I will retake this Hive, and destroy anyone who still follows her.”
She feels Jennifer having stepped closer, and takes a deep breath.
“I will not let my sister hurt anyone else.” she adds, and rises again, picking up her weapon, and ramming the spear end of it into the sensor at the wall, forcing the doors open.
Rain stands up, still shaky on his feet but very much alive.

“This human.” he states, looking into Jennifer's direction.
“She is with me. She saved my life, and by extension, yours.” Nova explains, having moved between Rain and her, almost protectively.

Jennifer exhales audibly. It's obvious that this Wraith is still hungry, and being fed on once is more than enough for the rest of her life. She reaches out and touches Nova's shoulder, enticing her to look over her shoulder.
“We should keep moving.” she whispers to her, and Nova nods.
“Yes.” she says. “It is not far.”

The door slides open before Erinya, and she steps into the room.

McKay and Guide are still working on Shine's bracelet, trying to amplify it's effects, to provide more protection for those close to the Unyielding Thirst's epicenter. Guide looks up when he hears her enter, and their eyes meet.

“I am not discussing this again.” he opens. “Your Captain gave her orders, and you cannot void them.”

Erinya sighs deeply and nods. Her and Guide have been arguing for weeks now, over her request for him not to join the rescue mission, yet he'd remained steadfast.
“Can you blame me for worrying?” she attempts, and Guide sets the bracelet down hard.
“No. But I can blame you for being overprotective.” he responds, the slight sharpness in his voice being dulled by his expression. “I have lived for ten thousand years. While I appreciate your concern, I will live through this.”

McKay clears his throat awkwardly, but at this point, he's rather used to them arguing in front of him, with little regard for his presence.

“I saw you suffer before, I don't want to see that again.” Erinya argues, and Guide turns away.
“Then don't look at me.” he responds sourly, and offhandedly shoves McKay away from a console, to access it.

“Look,...” she starts, but he stubbornly interrupts her.
“No. I will not 'look'.” he says. “My expertise in needed for this mission, and you are very well aware of it. It is about time that you stop letting your personal feelings for me interfere with our work.”

Erinya sucks in air sharply. That was a bullseye. And a painful one at that.

“Hey, do you have to discuss that here? I'm trying to work, so … I don't know, go see a couple's counselor.” McKay jabs, annoyed at best. His healthy respect for Guide had waned over time, especially because he's witnessed him quarreling with Erinya often enough.

He looks up from the console, and drums his nails on it briefly.
“Right.” he then says, and strides past Erinya, out the door. She shoots McKay an almost thankful glance, before following.
Her hand wisps across the door sensor, and she closes it behind her.

“You speak of my suffering as if it was your own.” Guide begins, as soon as they're alone in the hallway.
“It is my suffering too, Guide!” Erinya counters. “I love you, and when you hurt, I hurt. It doesn't matter if you'll die on this mission, it will be just as bad if you don't. I don't think you understand-...”

She abruptly falls silent, when Guide raises his hand, and places his index finger on her lips.
“I believe I understand better than you expect.” he says, his voice quiet and almost dangerous. “Your body heals every ailment, every injury. I have seen you burn. And yet, you say these things, and do the very same thing to me. You are reckless with your life, because you consider yourself invincible. You say, it matters not if I die, do you not see the hypocrisy in this?”

“I-...” Erinya stutters, almost disoriented by his speech. “I never considered....”
“No. You have not.” Guide responds, and withdraws his hand. “I am accompanying you on this mission. Whether you want me to or not.”
“Guide, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... cause you pain, I really didn't.” Erinya's fury is gone, and so is his, judging from the look on his face.

“I know this.” he assures her. “But you need to understand that I must keep you safe, as much as you wish to keep me safe. I was a Queen's Consort for much of my life, and you cannot expect me to let this go, simply because your pain is 'meaningless', as you so aptly phrased it before.”

Erinya bites her lip and nods. She doesn't like thinking about Guide's past, about the loss he suffered. Not one bit.

“When you named me Consort, I swore I would not repeat the events of my past.” he adds, tenderly, as if he'd read her mind. He probably has, Erinya muses.
“I can't die.” she counters weakly, more to console him than anything else.
“You do not know that.” he responds. “And I, for one, am not eager to try and confirm this theory.”

“Stay behind me.” Nova instructs her two companions, almost hearing Jennifer's anxiety through her loud heartbeat, her shallow breaths.
Rain's gaze is locked on the back of her head, his jaw clenched. As he slowly reconnects to her, she can feel his deep, painful fear for her life. The desire to step in front of her and take the hit for her. The restraint he's showing in obeying her wishes.

Nova herself, feels an almost cathartic silence. A calm before a storm, her grief, her anger, her pain lie dormant under a thick blanket of determination, of methodical approach to her goal.
She can feel her dreaded sister's presence ahead, just beyond this door, to her quarters.

Her grip around the rifle tightens, and she rings the doorbell, hearing the pulsating noise in the room ahead, footsteps, and then, the hissing sound of an opening door.

Death stands before her, inches away, with a look of surprise on her pretty face. The last person she's expected, standing before her, iron resolve, and very much alive. Nova bares her teeth, and before Death breaks her stupor, she charges at her, rifle at her front.

Death snarls and evades backward, her hand curling into claws. She's caught off guard, Nova notes, no weapons. No guards.
Just her sister and her.

She casts her rifle aside, and flexes her feeding hand at Death, still stained with the Drone's blood. No weapons, she repeats to herself. Queen against Queen. The purest form of confrontation.

“Stay out of this.” she hisses at her two followers, having heard Rain pick up the discarded rifle. “Guard the door. Let no one in.”
Just as she finishes her order, the door slides shut behind her. Death looks her in the eye, and Nova feels her mind opening to her.

'You thought I would surrender, did you not, sister?' she asks her, mocking her. 'You thought you could just walk in here, and I would kneel over?'

Nova snarls.
'No, Death.' she responds, not letting a single emotion bleed into their contact. 'I will make you pay.'

The sisters clash in the middle of the room, Death's claws trailing bloody streaks on Nova's neck. The pain stings, and Nova deflects her second strike, locking her off hand around her wrist. Death's feeding slit flares open angrily, and Nova tightens her grip, cutting off the blood flow to her hand.

'You are weak.' Death taunts. 'Even if you defeat me, you will not kill me.'
Her mind aches under the pressure, as Death assaults her, seeking to break her will once more. The heaviness almost makes Nova's knees sag, but she pushes against the force.

'I do not need to prove my worth to you anymore.' she responds, and breaks from the mental embrace, the power of her counter almost knocking Death off her balance.
Nova begins twisting her sister's wrist, forcefully, until she hears a snap, and a pained growl. Released, Death stumbles backward, pressing her broken arm against her torso, glaring at Nova like a cornered predator.

'I will make you suffer.' Nova tells her, approaching slowly. 'As you watched me burn.'

Death lashes out with her mind again, but Nova is prepared. She digs in, and stands against the force of the attack, feeling anguish, the same kind that had forced her to her knees before, but with a grim sense of determination, she powers through.
Her vision goes blank for a moment, and she feels Death's off hand around her neck. Retching, she winds her feeding hand back, and slams it on Death's chest.

The grip loosens, and her sister's cry echoes through the room.

Her life makes Nova feel sick. Potent, strong, yes. But still, her sister's life, draining through her hand. She almost lets go, but Death claws at her face with her uninjured off hand, leading to Nova speeding up her drain again.
The wounds tingle, as they heal.

She snarls, and digs her claws into her sister's skin.

'I am not beneath you.' she tells her, her words resonating in both of their minds, while Death writhes in agony. 'I am not lesser than you. I am not vermin under your heels. I am not your property.'
Death's eyes have lost focus, and Nova angrily feeds life back into her, to keep her alive, just to take it from her again.
Still, she struggles, hissing at her, but her attempts are hardly a threat anymore, as her sister is pinned, locked under her hand. Nova has the ultimate control over her sister's life, making her live and die, reversing the flow of life again and again.

'I am taking back what you took from me.' she continues, slowly, to make sure her words reach Death. 'My Hive. My Pride. My Life.'

She withers beneath her, her cheeks sunken, her eyes dark. Death's breath rattles. Euphoria almost clouds Nova's mind in the hour of her triumph, but it is cut short, as her sister's heart gives out under the strain, her life flooding Nova's system in one rush.

Throwing her head back, she roars, the Lioness she is, the Queen she is.

The doors slide open, and someone collapses on the ground, weapons are aimed at her, but Nova feels no fear.
Slowly, she rises, stepping aside to allow the intruders a look at Death's remains, her blood dripping from her fingers.

Three Blades, and at least twelve Drones stand there frozen in terror, seeing their Queen drained, dethroned, disgraced.
Nova glares at them, feeling power surge through her veins, and lets her mind reach them.

'Kneel before your Queen.'

The youngest Blade sinks to his knees under the pressure, the others, slowly follow suit, from their own free will.
Snarling, she turns her attention to the collapsed figure, seeing dull, wrinkled skin, grey, faded hair, and glassy eyes looking up to her. A sting of guilt dulls her glee, and she kneels down beside her.

Jennifer's lips tremble, no longer capable of speech, and Nova lays her off hand on her cheek, reassuringly.
“Who did this?” she asks aloud, and the oldest of the Blades rises to his feet. She recognizes him – he was the one that attended to her, during her captivity under her sister. Nova's eyes narrow.

'Rain. Do you hunger still?' she asks, and immediately feels a bitter satisfaction from Rain's end.
'I do, my Queen.' he responds.
'He is yours.' Nova offers, and sees the Blade's eyes widen, as Rain's off hand locks around his throat.

Blocking the cry of pain out, Nova turns her attention to Jennifer again, about to draw her final breath, and seals her hand on her chest.
The trickle of life is slow, gently restoring her, and Jennifer comes alive under Nova's palm, whimpering, caught in the Gift. Nova lets her sit up, still entwined with her system, and pulls the woman into her arms.

“Forgive me.” she whispers. “But it is over. No one will ever hurt you again.”
Jennifer gasps wetly against Nova's touch, her hand grips hair and clenches shut. Nova's feeding slit twitches in her palm, a different kind of hunger washing over her, and she speeds the flow up. The damages are cured, but Nova wants to give her more, wants to keep this connection for a little longer.

Jennifer's forehead rests against her shoulder, and shamelessly, she relishes in the intimacy for the Gift of Life, only stops herself at the first twinge of hunger in her veins. Her hand unlatches, sinking into her lap, and Jennifer pulls her closer, sobs shaking her body.

“It's over.” she whispers. “You survived.”
“So did you.” Nova responds, hearing the Blade's dried up corpse hit the ground next to her, as Rain snarls in satisfaction.
She frees herself from the embrace, and helps her up, still light headed from nearly dying, and being brought back for the second time in one day.

“Rain. Take the bridge. Have the Clevermen seek out every shred of data on the Unyielding Thirst, and destroy it.” Nova commands. “I name you Commander of this Hive.”
Rain's smile feels like a beacon in the dark, and the others follow him as he departs, leaving only Jennifer and Nova behind.

The human woman leans with her back against the wall, watching Nova's every move. She's confused, Nova can feel it, but she approaches regardless. Her off hand cups Jennifer's cheek, and brings her face up, to make eye contact.

“And you.” Nova continues. “I name you 'Fairheart', as it was your kindness that saved me.”

Chapter Text

Epilogue

“What will happen now?”

Jennifer's voice rips Nova out of her thoughts. It's been a long day. Moments after her victory, the others had reached her. Erinya, with those flames in her eyes, Guide at her side, the humans from Atlantis.
They'd come for her. Soon after, Nova's found herself in Ivory's arms, the warmth of her mind touching hers. The alliance had converged on Helena's ship, and negotiated a permanent truce between the Wraith and Atlantis.
History had been written in Nova's script.

Death's Hive, the Bright Venture, is hers now.
Her suffering is done, and now, Nova struggles to learn who she is without her pain.

“I do not know.” she responds, and Jennifer approaches her throne, close enough for her to touch. “I will allow you to conduct your research here.”
Jennifer's research. A way to feed without killing. That is the key component of their contract with Atlantis, and the very reason the human woman is still on board of her Hive.

“And when I succeed eventually? What then?” Jennifer asks, and Nova looks up to her.
“I have been thinking.” she admits. “Fairheart, you are the sole reason I found the strength to resist. If it had not been for you, I would have let myself fade in that cell. You are... dear to me.”

A smile flickers across Jennifer's features, when Nova addresses her with that name, and she sits on Nova's armrest.
“You want to keep me?” she assumes, still smiling.
“No. Yes.” Nova shakes her head. “I desire your company. But I will not 'keep' you. You are not a pet.”
“I'm human.” Jennifer counters with a light shrug.
“And I am Wraith. That has not stopped you from treating me like a person, has it?” Nova feels herself smirk involuntarily. “Nor has it stopped you from placing your life into my hands, in every sense of the word.”

“I've... When you brought me back the second time, you were stronger.” Jennifer muses. “I could feel it, you were,,, glowing, shining. I don't know. I think I felt you. Really, you.”

Nova opens her palm, and looks down upon the feeding slit within.
“You did.” she then responds. “You felt me. And I felt you.”
She looks up to her again, prompted by Jennifer's fingers trailing along her jawline, carefully, as if she feared burning herself on Nova's skin.
“I've never really considered that, you know.” Jennifer tells her, and smiles nervously, when Nova glances at her questioningly. “Girls. Women. I don't know. I like you.”

Nova's heart skips a beat, and continues beating at an accelerated pace. She doesn't know what to say in response, so she remains quiet, simply staring up at Jennifer's soft features, the shimmer in her eyes.

“You know, on Earth, it's common to take people to amusement parks for dates.” Jennifer explains to her. “Because the thrill of the rides there makes the human brain produce hormones that associate the thrill with their date. It makes them bond faster. I think... the thrill of nearly dying twice in a row had a similar effect on me.”

Nova angles her head to the side. Human courting rituals would never cease to amuse her.
Jennifer giggles a little, the noise sounding as light and clear as a bell.
“You look like a confused puppy when you do that.” Her voice sounds gentle and affectionate, prompting Nova to reciprocate.
She lifts her off hand from her other armrest, and brings to up to Jennifer's face, cupping her cheek. Her skin feels like velvet under her touch. There's quick, erratic movement, and for a second, Nova fears having overstepped a boundary, bypassed some integral stage of courting a human, but Jennifer easily disperses that fear.
She's shifted toward her, brought her face close to her own, smiling in a brief moment of hesitation, then her lips meet Nova's.

The sensation rushes through Nova like electricity, when Jennifer's-... Fairheart's mouth seals on hers, lightly sucking on her lower lip. She almost freezes, but pulls herself out of her stupor, and has the mind to let her hand rest on Fairheart's hip, enticing her closer.
She closes her eyes, having been able to see every lash around Fairheart's eyes, every freckle on her nose.

A sense of peace fills her. Just a few days ago, she would never have believed that she'd be sitting on this throne one day, having her first kiss with a human, and loving every second of it.

“Hey. Can I come in?”
Erinya stand in the doorway to her and Guide's shared quarters. He's by the window, leaning against it, reading over something on a tablet.

“These are your quarters.” he responds, but his expression is soft. Erinya exhales audibly, and steps inside, letting the doors slide shut behind her.
“Listen, I wanted to apologize.” she begins, slowly making her way over to him, and finally taking his hand when she reaches him. “I know that you... lost someone you loved before, and I should have respected your decision from the beginning. I'm sorry.”

Guide sets his tablet down on the windowsill, and fully turns to her, his hand locking around hers.
“I have been Queen Snow's Consort for thousands of years.” he reveals, his tone somber and low. “I believed I would never heal from the pain her loss caused me. Part of the reason I found myself attracted to you, is, in fact, your resilience. I never want to suffer such a loss again, and so, I chose you.”
Erinya swallows hard, and nods.

“You are resilient.” he continues. “But you are not invincible. Believing that you are may very well be your downfall. I know, Admiral Helena has utilized your abilities in that way, putting you in harm's way, because she knew you would make it out alive.”
“Guide,...” she begins, but he shakes his head.
“You do not need to do this for me.” he interrupts her. “I said it once – you are not simply an asset to me, neither a food source, nor a meatshield. Stop disregarding your pain. And then, I may accept your apology.”

“It's an entire mindset I'll have to unlearn.” she hesitantly admits. “I... saw it as my only redeeming quality, to make up for my shortcomings. It'll be hard.”
“You won't walk this road alone.” he responds, a soft purr distorting his voice. “That is, what having a Consort means. I am with you.”

'Your assignment was a success. The Queen is very pleased with you.' Shine lets him know, as him and Silverlight walk the halls of their Hive, newly baptized “Dawnbreak”.
Silverlight nods, and glances over at his Commander.

'I am simply relieved to be back home.' he admits. 'The Vampires are cooperative, and their technology was a joy to work with, but I did miss the Hive. And you.'
Shine senses a light smile from him, and all his professionalism drops.
'The past months were turbulent.' he admits, as they turn around a corner. 'We are in a good place, with Death destroyed, a new Queen at our side, and new alliances strengthening us. My dearest. For the first time in a long time, we may rest easy.'

Shine stops in his tracks, leaving his companion to follow suit. His arm snakes around his waist, and brings him closer.
'Queen Ivory may name me Consort soon.' he reveals, while his lips press on Silverlight's temple. 'But she will not make me forsake you.'
'Her sister will ridicule her for this.' Silverlight adds, leaning into his lover's touch, with a hint of bitterness.
'I doubt that will dissuade her.' He feels Shine smile against his skin. 'Queen Ivory cares for the both of us. She knows of the connection we share, as she is in a similar situation.'

Silverlight breathes deeply, his nostrils flaring along with his sensory pits, taking in Shine's scent. All is well. Finally, after so long, he knows, he does not have to fear losing his beloved.
Safe, at last.

“Love, will you stop pacing already? You are making my antsy.” Ivory gently scolds. “We won. Death is defeated. You can let your guard down.”

Helena stops, and sighs.
“I'm afraid not.” she responds, and follows Ivory's movements, as she closes in to embrace her.
“How so?” she purrs into her ear, while her arms wrap around Helena's waist.
Almost ready to let herself fall, Helena growls quietly.

“Euridice.” she reminds her. “And all the others under Death's command. We don't know where they are, but...”
“Death is no longer here, love. They will reconcile.” Ivory soothes her, and Helena turns her head to the side, staring out into the vast emptiness of space before her.

“No, Ivory. I know Euridice.” she whispers. “We have another war coming, and soon.”

With a gentle tug, Ivory pulls Helena closer, her finger on her chin averting her gaze from the window.
“Perhaps we do, my love.” she almost sings to her. “But we survived one storm. We will survive another.”

The End.