Chapter 1 – Horizon
John doesn't respond to her, he just holds eye contact, trying not to show weakness.
“I believe, your people have a proposal for me, and from what my dear lost son already revealed to me, it is rather intriguing.”
She just circles him, makes no attempt at forcing him to his knees.
“Ever since you woke us, our food supply as been in high demand.” she continues, casually speaking about the death of countless innocents, as if it were nothing. “In addition, you being in possession of the Ancient City of Atlantis is greatly concerning, hence, I sent the group you ambushed out to investigate our signal. The Wraith are not in a good place.”
“Can't say I'm sorry to hear that.” John snarks at her, feeling marginally more safe now.
“Which is why I am deeply considering accepting your offer.” she speaks, as if she hadn't heard him.
“Then why did you have us stunned and locked up, hm?” John asks sharply, and the Queen stops her stride before him.
“A precaution.” she says. “I have seen the tribulations you put your prisoner through, before electing that he was trustworthy enough to remain with your scientist, Dr. Abbot.”
“That's the thing, he came to us as a prisoner. We came as a diplomatic delegation.” John counters, earning a sweet smile in response.
“A diplomatic delegation, armed to the teeth?” she asks. “You are in my domain, Major Sheppard. I must protect my people. I am certain, you would have done the same in my place.”
“Where's Dr. Abbot, anyways?” John dares to ask.
“She is safe. I have allowed her to stay with her consort.” The Queen clasps her hands behind her back. “Now, that I have assured that your intentions are as you claim, I will have you and your team moved to more comfortable quarters, while I confer with your scientist.”
Says that, and leaves him standing, vanishing back into the darkness. John exhales sharply, and hears the doors open.
Two Wraith, clad in similar leathers as Steve, step inside. One makes an inviting gesture toward him.
“Please.” he says. “Follow me.”
Seeker's hand is on her back, as he leads Delilah through the hallways of the Hive. It feels eerie, and more than once, they pass a narrow corridor, lined with cocoons. Unconscious humans and decaying bodies. Delilah finds herself moving closer to him.
“Is there anything I need to know, about confronting a Queen? I mean, do I bow? How do I address her?” she asks him, as they stop before a large, winged door.
“Just behave the way your normally do. She will nit expect you to be familiar with Wraith protocol.” he instructs, and then his gaze softens. “Delilah. Be at ease. I will be by your side.”
“Thank you.” she breathes, but doesn't get much further, because he opens the doors.
The room is vast, and empty, safe for a large, coral throne at its front side.
And there, she looks down upon them.
She's beautiful, from what Delilah can tell, her long, red hair open and unrestrained, the fine leathers of her bodice, and the flowing fabric of her skirt, her fine, regal features, and the sharpness of her glance. Delilah feels herself involuntarily hold her breath, and Seeker also stiffens at her side, as the Queen rises from her throne, and walks toward the pair.
“Welcome to my Hive, Delilah Abbot.” she says, and her soft, light voice is such a contrast to the low rasp she's used to from Seeker. “It is only for you, that my dear Seeker returned well and unharmed. I thank you for that.”
A tight knot in her throat, Delilah can only nod. There's a brief smile on the Queen's face, and she takes another step toward her, Seeker backs off, as she does.
“I am Horizon, Daughter of Vermillion, and Queen of this Hive.” she introduces herself. “Seeker's memories have given me a good overview on your work, and I must say, I am impressed. Not only by your work itself, but by the mere fact that you began this project?”
“Beg pardon?” Delilah asks, her voice shaky and thin.
“Humans go to such lengths to find a way to kill us. Not once have I seen one attempt to find a solution to our eternal struggle with you.” Queen Horizon explains herself. “I have had my scientists analyze the samples and prototypes you brought with you. Your formula is to my satisfaction, and I will not ask you to let me test it on yourself, or one of your companions. However, I do worry for the logistics of this vaccine.”
“Logistics?” Delilah parrots, feeling incredibly stupid next to this woman.
“Yes. Does Atlantis have the means to mass-produce it, to vaccinate every Wraith and every human in this Galaxy, and the ones that are not yet born?” Horizon asks, and Delilah takes a deep breath, bracing for the first full sentence she'll say to this entity of a person.
“Not yet.” she admits. “We need more resources and manpower to do that, but we already secured support from two human worlds who will aid us with that. One of which is the planet Hoff, who specialize in biological science.”
“Hoff.” the Queen parrots. “I have heard of this planet. It is the main feeding ground of one of my sisters. I will let her know to steer clear, for the time being.”
“Thank you.” Delilah says stiffly. “But, if I may be so bold, do you hold authority over more than one Hive? If this is to work, we need all Wraith to agree.”
Horizon backs away, and sits back down on her throne.
“That is another issue we will face.” she says. “Not every Queen will be in support of this. Many will, do not worry, as it is the best option for our survival, but those who won't... may become a problem in the future.”
“Can we win a civil war like this?” Delilah asks, and Horizon smiles at her.
“We are already at the brink of one. Hives are battling over food.” she reveals. “I am part of a bigger alliance of Hives, and that alone may be an advantage. It will take me time to ease my crew, and my fellow Queens into this, but with your cooperation...”
She pauses, and crosses her legs.
“... I do believe, we can see this through.”
Delilah lets out a relieved sigh, then looks over her shoulder, to smile at Seeker.
“What about Major Sheppard?” she then inquires, and the Queen laughs briefly, clear as a bell.
“He has been dealt with.” she says. “Him and his team are in guest quarters as we speak. They will not cause any trouble.”
“Please, with all due respect, do not underestimate him. If Major Sheppard wants to cause trouble, he'll find a way.” Delilah warns, accidentally giving the most concise characterization of Sheppard to date.
“He will not want to.” Horizon responds, endlessly patient with this anxious, jittery mess that is Delilah Abbot. “I have explained my actions to him. He knows that he is in no danger.”
Seeker steps back up to her, and takes her by the hand.
“Come. Queen Horizon will be busy with diplomatic matters very soon.” he hums to her, and glances up at his Queen, who nods to him in silent approval.
“Make sure your consort is most comfortable, Seeker.” she instructs him, and her bows briefly.
“I most certainly will, My Queen.” he confirms, and turns to gently lead Delilah out of the room.
“Well.” she says, as soon as the doors slide shut behind them. “That went well. I think she likes me.”
“She does. As I said, she is very sensible. Not every Queen can be reasoned with, and many only negotiate with other Queens.” Seeker explains. “But with her support, we will see this through.”
They step through the Hive that suddenly feels a lot less intimidating to Delilah. Seeker has shifted to have his arm wrapped around her waist, a few minutes into their walk.
“Delilah.” he eventually breaks the silence, as they pass one of the holds, in all their horror. “This utopia is no longer just your vision.”
“Hm?” she hums.
“You made me believe in this, and now, you also made my Queen believe in it.” he elaborates. “I want you to understand just how significant this is. You may very well be the first human to be spoken to by a Queen like this.”
“There's a lot of first times ahead, I think.” she comments. “It's exciting, but also a bit scary.”
“It is. But revolutions are like that, are they not?”
The smile, well audible in his voice, brings that warm and fuzzy feeling back that Delilah has gotten so accustomed to, over the past weeks.
Teyla is by herself, sitting on the large windowsill, and looking down in the sheer endless depths of the Hive's Dart Bay.
She feels strange, with so many Wraith around, and not one trying to harm her. The two that had escorted her here had assured her that she's safe, still, sitting idly in a Wraith ship feels wrong.
She can feel them all. Every single one of them, even the Queen. Their presences are so prominent in her Teyla's mind, she finds it hard to concentrate on the reality in front of her eyes.
The sudden intrusion feels even more sudden because of that. Off guard, Teyla hadn't expected it, and found herself absolutely powerless against it.
She knows, she can connect to the Wraith, but never has she dared to before. They are stronger than her, would crush her in a heartbeat.
Yet, this intrusion feels almost gentle, like a giant picking her up and holding her in its hand. Careful, without pain, but still debilitating and paralyzing.
'You.' the voice in her head says. 'You are different.'
Teyla gasps for air. She can't respond.
Before her mental eye unfolds a throne room, empty, aside from one figure resting on the throne, eyes closed, and she can feel her speak.
'I have sensed you from the moment you stepped on board.' she continues. 'It astonishes me that your former prisoner never picked up on you.'
The prisoner, Steve? Teyla furrows her brows, and begins to struggle lightly against the mental grasp. It's iron, and tightens somewhat.
'Be at ease, Teyla. I will not hurt you.' the presence speaks to her. 'You have carried this Gift all your life. I wonder, have you ever spoken to us before? Let your mind reach out for us?'
No, she would not dare to instigate contact with the Wraith. Keeping them away, that is what she wanted. Curiosity may be a virtue, but not when playing with fire.
'I see. It is a shame.' the presence says, and Teyla feels genuine disappointment. 'We have much to learn, as do you. I see great things for your future, Teyla. You may very well be integral to the peace we are trying to achieve. There's not much fear in you, is there? Just anger. Defiance. You will need to let go of that. Of the past. As will we.'
Teyla's fists clench.
As if it were that easy to forget the years of terror she's lived through, the losses her people have suffered. She knows, this will save countless lives, but she refuses to let her grief go.
'It is a time of healing, Teyla, for all of us. We have suffered, too.' the presence responds to her thoughts, but she can feel the pressure subsiding. 'I will seek you out in person soon. Rest now. I can feel how weary this makes you.'
And then, it's gone. Teyla has to hold on to the edges of the windowsill. Her head hurts, not only because of the mental strain.