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Blood on my Hands

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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.

The Queen.
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.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 – Spark

'My Queen.'

Seeker feels warm. Safe. The gaping void in his mind is gone, again filled with the voices of his people, the protective presence, of Horizon, his Queen, his mother.
He stands before her throne, gazing up at her with deep devotion, as her glance focuses him.

'I thank you for this.' he then continues. 'It is a great risk for us to take, I know very well what the Lantheans are capable of.'
Her lips form a smile.
'My Seeker, I have always trusted your judgment.' her mental voice responds, resounding beautifully within his spirit. 'I am well aware of the risks. But I understand the weight of this one, small human's vision. I have seen it in her eyes, the everlasting hope for a better world. And I have seen the same hope in your eyes as well.'

Seeker lowers his head respectfully, and sees her tilt her head.
'You care for her.' she adds, and shifts on her throne, crossing her legs.
'That, I do.' he openly admits. 'Does it cause you grief, my Queen?'

“No. I welcome this.' Horizon says, after brief contemplation. 'It is her love for you, that drove her to such lengths.'
'It is more than that.' he denies. 'Delilah would have prevailed, with or without me. Her feelings for me merely accelerated her progress.'
'You speak highly of her. I would not have expected you to hold a human in such high regards, before your departure.'

Seeker pauses to reflect on the burning rage he's harbored for the denizens of Atlantis, and, to some extent, still harbors. Close-minded, stubborn, arrogant. Selfish and insufferable. Coming into their Galaxy, and pretending to own it.
Delilah isn't like that.

'She showed me things.' he simply responds.

McKay nearly falls, when the door opens and his stumbles to the back of the room, behind Ford. Unarmed, sure, but probably still more capable of taking on a hungry Wraith than him. Instead of Drones, or one of those nasty, snarly guys, a rather petite, fairly unthreatening person enters.

It's a female, half a head shorter than McKay himself, dressed in a simple leather tunic, and cloth pants. She has dark red hair, tied into a loose ponytail, not very intricate or glamorous, as one would expect of a Wraith Queen. Almost down to earth.

She steps to the table in the middle of their makeshift guest quarters, and gestures widely at them.
“I'm sorry. Did I startle you?” she asks, her voice humming with the familiar, multifaceted timbre of the Wraith, but somehow lacking the usual impact.

“Not me.” Ford responds, but remains on his guard regardless.
The Wraith glances past him, at McKay, who gives her a half-hearted wave.

“He doesn't count.” Ford adds to that, and the Wraith smiles.

“I see.” she says. “Apologies to him, then.”
“..'snoproblem.” McKay mumbles, hardly understandable, but she doesn't seem to mind.
“I do not mean to interrupt. I came here because I heard that no one had tended to the two of you yet, and I can understand your anxiety. I want you to know that you are in no danger. This is no longer enemy territory.” she explains, still on her tiptoes to get a glimpse of McKay.

“Are you the Queen?” Ford asks, a reasonable question, since she's the first female Wraith he sees, but the girl lets out a short, bubbling laugh.

“Me? No. No, at least not yet.” she clarifies. “I am Spark, Daughter of Horizon, and I'm not... quite there yet.”
“Wraith Princess, huh?” Ford presumes, but Spark shakes her head again.
“We're a matriarchy, not a monarchy. There are only Queens and Wraith.” she corrects him. “But, I do hold a position of authority, as the Queen's offspring. She asked me to make sure you're quite comfortable... are you?”

“Can't say I am, actually.” McKay begins, slowly losing his shyness. “For one thing, we have no food, This room is a bit small, and not well air-conditioned, it's a little too warm in here. I'd also like m equipment back, because I have literally nothing to do here. At least my tablet.”

Spark blinks a few times, at this onslaught of requests, but then dutifully nods.
“Right. Food. You need that.” she muses, as if she'd forgotten that humans actually eat. “I'm in the transitional period from solid food to life force, so I do actually have easy access to... 'food'.”

“Transitional period? What does that mean?” Ford inquires.
Spark looks up to him.
“It means that my Hunger is slowly awakening. I can still live off fruit, as we do when we are young, but it starts sustaining me less and less.” She raises her feeding hand, and shows it to Ford. “I actually hope that I will be able to utilize your vaccine, as soon as I can no longer stave off feeding.”

“Uh... how long do you estimate you still have until then?” McKay sheepishly asks, and flinches, when Spark turns to him, hand still up by her head.
“I cannot say for certain. Days, maybe a week. If it were my mother's decision, I would be feeding already.” she says, and slowly lowers her hand to her side again. “Don't worry. I may be hungry, but I don't want to hurt you, so I will not.”

“Why? I mean, you're a Wraith. Wraith eat people.” Ford says. “And until recently, that's just how the world worked for you, right?”
Spark hesitates, then clasps her hands behind her back.

“I suppose I just didn't feel quite ready to be an adult just yet.” she admits. “Being a fruit-fed child is easy. The time of my first feeding will mark my stepping over the border between childhood and adulthood. It also means that I will leave this Hive, and start my own.”

“Ah, responsibility. Y'know, I had that too, after High School.” Ford admits, his tense posture loosening a little. “Sure, didn't involve killing people for me, but still, I get it.”
She offers a tiny understanding smile.

“This is good.” she says. “Finding similarities and shared experiences. My mother said, it is important to see you humans as our equal. I think, I'm doing my part of that.”
“Yeah. Yeah, you are. Not trying to kill us is a good start. Talking, too.” Ford praises her. “Lieutenant Aiden Ford, by the way.”

He's stepped around the table toward her, and extended his hand to her. Spark looks down at his palm questioningly, and Ford snorts in brief laughter.
“Ah, you're supposed to shake it. That's how we greet people on Earth. Handshakes.” he explains, with McKay watching skeptically. “And then you say 'Nice to meet you, Lt. Ford.'. C'mon, try it!”

Spark's feeding hand trembles a little, when she moves it to meet his outstretches hand. She makes a startled noise when he firmly grips it, and gives it a light shake.
“Uh. Nice to meet you, Lt. Ford?” she says, not sounding convinced at all.

“Nice to meet you too, Spark!” Ford responds cheerily, and lets go of her hand, which she immediately brings behind her back again, and gives McKay a look.
“Do I have to do this to him too?” she asks Ford, and McKay responds in his stead.

“No, I'm fine, I'm good, thank you, no.” he quickly stammers. “Uh. McKay. Rodney McKay. Doctor. Doctor Rodney McKay.”
“Nice to meet you, Dr. McKay.” Spark tells him, then turns to Ford, beaming brightly. He nods to her encouragingly, and then gives McKay a demanding look.
“Nice to meet you too..?” he urges him, and McKay awkwardly clears his throat.

“Nice to meet you too,... Spark.” he then presses forth, and Ford claps the girl on the shoulder.
“See? You made first contact with two humans. Isn't that great?” he praises her and she smiles.
“It is.” she agrees. “I will organize some food for you.”

She hurries to the door, but her final smile seems genuine.

“That was... unsettling.” McKay comments, as the doors close behind Spark's heels.

“I have about twenty doses of the vaccine here, and twenty more for humans.” Delilah tells the Queen. “In case you'd demand active proof, that is. I can start vaccinating your inner circle, and some human volunteers from your holds?”

“You would be hardpressed to find volunteers among our cargo.” Horizon admits. “Although, I would not refuse the vaccine if you offered it to me. You did say, you have two humans planets in support of this?”

“In support doesn't translate to 'Will let a Hive land right away', actually.” Delilah admits. “We might have to start small, to, you know, ease them into it.”
“That can be arranged easily. I would like to test the vaccine personally very soon, though. Seeker's accounts of its effect on himself and you were convincing, but, if I am not mistaken, he has been given the very first version of it.”

“We've only altered the human part of it.” Delilah hurries to say. “To ease the strain on my system, the original serum we would give to you, has not been changed.”

A loud noise draws the attention of both women, as a third hurries in, having dropped a basket of apples, upon overhearing them speak.
It's a younger Wraith, smaller, and with an excited gleam in her eyes, that signifies her youth.

“You! You're that biologist, aren't you?” she asks, shamelessly pointing at Delilah.
“Spark.” Horizon scolds her. “You are being impolite.”

“I apologize! I am just so excited for this! I heard what you were saying, and I want to-... if you'll allow me! ...You needed a small start for those planets, right? How about me? I could be a small start!”

Delilah's gaze is still locked on the apples rolling over the floor, then it flickers up to the girl, Spark, and Horizon.
“My daughter, Spark.” Horizon introduces, a hint of exasperation in her voice. “Forgive her. She is young.”

Delilah takes a few steps toward her, and a wide smile creepy across her face. Spark returns it, a mouthful of shark teeth glimmering at her.
“You're excited about my vaccine?” she asks, and Spark nods vigorously.
“I've never fed before. If I do this, maybe I can become the first Wraith to never have killed a human before!” she suggests, and raises her hand. “A symbol of peace! The face of the movement!”

Hearing Horizon sigh behind her, Delilah looks over her shoulder.
“Queen Horizon, she may be young and excited, but I think she's onto something.” she says, her heart hammering in her chest.
She knows that look in Spark's eyes.

A young girl, still fresh to this world and all its nasty sides, but aware of them, and eager to change things for the better. Fire in her heart. Delilah has felt that fire before, and she still does, whenever she works with the Wraith today.

She turns to Spark again, and places her hand on her shoulder.
“Spark. Will you help me get this project started for real?” she asks, trying her best to sound official, but Spark's cheerful response quickly undermines that.

“You bet!” she chirps, and grabs Delilah's hand, shaking it. Her confused glance has Spark tilting her head. “Your Lt. Ford taught me this. It's a greeting, isn't it?”
“It's a bit too formal.” Delilah critiques. “But, you're right. It is a greeting. We also do it when we make an agreement, so... I guess it's appropriate.”

She returns the pressure of the handshake and smiles at the girl.

“I see, you are getting along.” Horizon comments, an affectionate jest in her voice. “Very well. Proceed as you see fit. Doctor.”

“Oh no, the apples!” Spark calls out, and rips her hand from Delilah. “I need to deliver the apples first!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 – Desire

It's been several days since their arrival on Seeker's Hive, and Delilah has begun to develop a sense of direction on the massive ship. Or rather, of the sector that Seeker's quarters, and her new lab are in.
She's spent hours vaccinating select Wraith from the crew, including Spark and Horizon, under the watchful eyes of the Master of Biological Sciences, and coincidentally, Spark's father, Dusk.

Dusk calls himself Queen's Consort, and carries special authority through Horizon's favor. Being named Consort is one thing, but fathering a future Queen is something entirely different, as he'd explained to her.

Delilah finds herself comparing every male Wraith she encounters to Seeker. Dusk is smaller and thinner than him, likely due to the lack of combat training. His mannerisms are graceful and refined, his way of speech carefully polite and eloquent.
She imagines him at Horizon's side, and decides, yes, he matches her well. Dusk is undeniably beautiful, keeping his silky, white hair in a braid, and an intricate pattern of tattoos adorn the right side of his face, just subtle enough to mesh well with his features.

Spark's father, she thinks, and looks over to the young Queen-in-the-making, who is currently inspecting her First Aid Kit. She lifts a bandage, and rolls a little bit of it off, then raises it to her eyes, peeking through the fabric.

“What's that?” she asks, earning a sharp glance from her father, who is busy distilling more of the serum from Planet Hoff's first delivery of supplies.

“Oh, it's for wounds.” Delilah answers, looking up from her own work, that being, a young Wraith with very bad veins. She's been poking around in his arm for several minutes now. “Humans don't heal like you do, so when we get injured, we need dressings on the wound, to stop the bleeding and prevent infection.”

Spark prods the bandage, testing its texture.
“So, you just wrap it in fabric?” she hums. “Archaic, but effective, I think.”

With a smile, Delilah touches her patient's cheek, to bend his head out of the way. She's given up on finding a vein on his arm, and decided to administer the vaccine through his neck. He grits his teeth when the needle pierces his skin again, this time in a vital spot, but he sits remarkably still.

“I will take over for you.” Dusk announces, once Delilah silently declares the young Wraith vaccinated. “You require rest.”
“I'm fine, Dusk, I can stay a few more hours.” Delilah protests, not quite trusting him with giving injections for some obscure reason. He's probably better at it than her, considering that he's been working with Wraith his entire life... and that he's one himself.

“Queen Horizon insisted that you rest every eight hours.” Dusk reminds her. “I am not about to question her decisions.”
“You know, on Earth, we have this concept called 'overtime'...” Delilah attempts, but it's quickly proven futile to resist.
“In the Pegasus Galaxy, and on this Hive, we do not. Go.” Dusk insists, and Spark grimaces behind his back.
“It's fine. I'll make myself useful, too. We can manage for a few hours without your guidance.” she assures Delilah, who then gives a sigh of defeat, and turns to the door.

“See you tomorrow, then.”

When she enters Seeker's quarters, Delilah freezes.

Seeker is lying flat on the bed, eyes closed, without moving a muscle. His cheeks are sunken and hollow, the healthy green of his skin matte and dry. It takes Delilah a good minute of ice cold panic to realize that he's, in fact, still breathing.

“What on Earth are you doing?” she snaps at him, and his eyes flutter open.
“Nothing. I am not on Earth.” he responds, genuinely puzzled.
“I know, I mean-... It's a figure of speech. What are you doing? You look awful!” Delilah stammers, and hurries over to sit at the edge of his bed.

“Conserving energy.” he responds, and it dawns on her.
“Wait. You're hungry, aren't you?”

Seeker lifts his feeding hand from the sheets, his movements slow and sluggish, looks at his palm contemplatively for a moment.
“My metabolism seems a lot faster than what I am used to. I did not anticipate my hunger to return this quickly.” he admits.
“Well, why didn't you just feed when you felt it coming?” Delilah scolds him, and his eyes flicker up to her.
“I may not access the holds, as our supplies are limited. And you are working. I cannot risk weakening you at this critical phase. So, I endure.” he explains himself, and closes his eyes again.

“Wait, Wait, no. Don't you dare go back into energy saving mode. Open your eyes. C'mon, now!” she impatiently drums her fingers on his shoulder.
“What is it?” Seeker asks, sounding genuinely sleepy.

“Look. I've improved the vaccine so far that I can simply sleep it off when I was fed on.” she implores him. “And Horizon is apparently hellbent on only letting me work eight hours a day, so you have nothing to worry about, and nothing to starve yourself for.”
He sits up, slowly and laboriously, then looks at her.

“Is that so?” he asks, his voice suddenly alarmingly raspy.

Delilah takes his hand, and slowly runs her fingers on the feeding slit; it flares open eagerly at her touch.
“Yeah. That is so.” she tells him, as a deep breath moves his chest. His eyes are closed again, but Delilah knows, he's very much awake.

He splays his hand flat, and lets her gently rub the organ, while pulling her closer, onto his lap. It almost seems as if he's enjoying his hunger now, playing with his driving instinct to keep himself alive. His hand quivers under the attention, and Delilah sees him actively stopping his fingers from curling into claws.

“Then let me feed.” he whispers, his lips so close to her neck, and a pleasant tingle runs through Delilah. She's always had a thing for danger. And Seeker is dangerous.
She unzips her jacket, and tugs at her shirt, to pull the neckline further down, to offer enough space for a hand.

“Go ahead.” she says, and a split second later, his palm presses against her sternum. She feels his claws dig into her skin, as the organ seals on her chest.
A few pulses of pain, as her skin is pierced, then heat.

Delilah closes her eyes, as the familiar sensation of energy draining out of her begins. She feels vulnerable in all the best ways, and a hum goes through every nerve in her body, as if Seeker was playing them like strings on a harp.
She hears him growl, and opens her eyes to glance into his. He's gotten close to her, pulled her toward himself; she feels his breath on her lips.

“Ah, this is more than sustenance.” he rasps. “More than survival.”
Delilah wants to speak, but no sound comes over her lips, as they tremble, just before Seeker presses them against his own. There's a sense of paralysis in her bones, paired with an almost magnetic attraction to him, causing her to willingly lean against his body.

When his feeding organ unlatches, Delilah comes alive again. Her hands tug lightly on his hair, and her tongue splits his lips apart. He moans, and sinks back down into the pillows, gently pulling her along. His weight presses her down, and she holds her own against the force, feeling warmth from him, uncharacteristic, but very welcome.

She wedges her knee between his legs, feeling his hardness press against her thigh, and sharp claws on her neck, raking over skin. Their kiss breaks, and he pulls back just enough for her to look at him, his slit pupils, his pointy, shark-like teeth. His off hand moves to trace lightly over the wound on her chest, causing light pain.
Oh, he's dangerous, and Delilah is ecstatic about it.

“If it's more than that,” she breathes. “then what is it?”
Seeker takes his time to bite down on her neck, leaving a bruised mark.
“Desire,” he then responds, whispering directly into her ear. “Intimacy. Lust.”
Enticed by these words, Delilah grinds her thigh against his crotch, having him roll his hips in response.

“I want you.” she openly admits, and just saying that aloud feels thrilling.
“You already have me.” Seeker counters, and she can't tell if he's trying to be sexy, or just taking her statement literally again.
Either way, she pushes him enough to get him to roll to his side, then re-instigates the kiss. He seems to planning his own next move, but Delilah's hand pressing flat against his abdomen has him holding back. He nips on her lower lip instead, while her hand begins moving downward.

Delilah makes quick work of his belt, and nonchalantly shoves her hand down his pants. When her fingertips find something to gently trail over, Seeker begins purring.

“The fact that...” she says, pausing briefly to catch her breath. “..the fact that you look at me like this... hungry. It's hot. It's so hot.” Her hand wraps around his shaft, and squeezes.
Seeker moans, and gasps for air, before he can even think about responding to that.
“I thought it would frighten you.” he admits, slipping his hands under her shirt, and trailing up her spine.

“I thought so too.” Delilah confesses, maneuvering to pull his hard member from the confines of his garment. “But I'm not afraid of you. I never was.”
“In that case,” he breathes, voice breaking a little. “I can safely tell you that you taste like fire.” She feels his legs shift, in order to give her better access. “Ah, you're unique, you arouse me every time I feed. I fantasize about it. I crave it, ah, I crave you.”

Delilah elects to respond by pulling him into another kiss, feeling him barely containing himself. His movements are erratic and eager. Hungry.
“Fuck,” she breathes against his lips, and begins moving her hand along his erection, as it throbs against her fingers. His claws dig into her shoulder blades, but he manages to keep his hips still.

That quickly changes when she speeds up, his breath rattling, and his back arching as he begins pushing into her hand, accelerating her pace. She watches his features contort, as he struggles to remain in control of himself.
“Wait,” he growls, and Delilah pauses. His glance sears, as he gathers the strength to speak. “Get on top of me.”

The request sends shivers down her spine, and she releases her grip, while his hands withdraw from underneath her shirt, which she then promptly rips off her body, casting it aside, along with the jacket. Seeker watches her undress, as he undoes the clasps holding his coat shut, and pushes his pants down to his knees. His hands wander, but his glance rests on her.

There's a pleasant pang in Delilah's loins, when she sees him touch himself, lazily stroking along his swollen length, waiting for her.
God, how did she end up like this? She realizes that she doesn't care.

“Stop that.” she commands him, and is amazed how instantly he obey, his hands retreating to his sides, leaving his shaft resting against his stomach.
Delilah liberates herself of her obstructing underwear, and straddles him, trapping his length between her wetness, and his body.
He sucks in air sharply, when he feels her heat, and his eyes flicker up to meet hers.

“Please,” he begs, his voice an absolute wreck. “Delilah, please,...”
She holds back a moan and opens her hand to him demandingly.
“Give me your hand.” she says, and sees his eyes widen in realization. Still, he obeys, and places his wrist into her hand, rises his chin and closes his eyes.

Oh this is absolutely delicious, Delilah thinks, as she begins rocking her hips, grinding up against him, while slowly trailing her tongue along the feeding slit, still flared and puffy with her blood.
The odd texture of his penis feels incredible against her, even more than when he actually penetrated her. She moans shamelessly, and watches him shudder underneath, completely surrendering to her.

The deep flush on his face, the beads of sweat. His lips, swollen from their kisses. It's maddening. Seeker moans heavily, straining under her, struggling for more friction, while his hand trembles in hers, enzyme running down his arm, and dripping down to his stomach.
Her tongue has pushed into the delicate organ now, circling the stinger embedded within, careful not to hurt herself; the membranes around it quiver in response.

His free hand has reached up, and is now cupping her left breast, squeezing and massaging it, with little rhythm to it, while he bucks against her, His moans have changed in pitch, and Delilah takes a moment to observe him, while she rolls her hips against him.

He looks stunning.
Completely helpless and passive, he writhes in pleasure, barely able to cope, his eyes half-shut, and his lips parted, teeth glinting in the dim light. The bright red of his enzyme shimmers on his belly, rippled by contractions, as his climax slowly approaches.
This time, he won't even be able to warn her, but he doesn't need to.

Arching against her, he cries out something unintelligable, and Delilah removes his hand from her lips to avoid getting her face clawed, presses her thumb into the feeding organ instead.

His orgasm comes in waves, spurts of semen hitting his stomach as it does, and the tensions lessen.
“Yes,...” he breathes, slowly recovering. “Ah, please.. please, don't stop...”

Delilah wasn't going to. He's still hard, and incredibly pleasant to grind against. Regaining control, Seeker sits up, and presses his still shaking feeding hand against her chest, the Gift of Life hitting Delilah like a tidal wave.
“Shit-...” she swears, feeling her body buzz with pleasure, and her hips jerk erratically. Seeker embraces her, pressing her quivering body against his, as she comes, only releasing her when her breaths regulate.

She covered in sweat and blood, the many claw marks he's left on her now starting to ache, as the Gift mends them, a brief flare of pain, but easy to ignore.
“Oh god.” she mutters against his shoulder. “Oh wow.”
His fingers trace the fading red marks, while the Gift subsides, and his lips press against her neck.

Delilah sighs, and closes her eyes. Maybe she should thank Dusk for insisting on sending her away after all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 – Hunger

Delilah is awfully early in the lab, intending to set things up before Dusk arrives to help, so she's even more surprised, when she spots a familiar face among the tables and machinery.

It's Horizon's daughter, Spark, sitting on one of the examination beds, doubled over in pain, arms wrapped around herself, and rocking back and forth slightly.
“Spark?!” Delilah calls out, drops her bag where she stands, and hurries over to her. “Hey, look at me. What's wrong? Did you hurt yourself?”

Spark makes a strangled sound, and shakes her head, struggling to shift into a more upright position, before responding.
“Do not tell Dusk about this. Or my mother.” she asks, her multifaceted voice shaky and hoarse.
“About what? Spark, talk to me.” Delilah inquires, putting her hand on Spark's back.

“I'm-...” She pauses, as if she's ashamed. “My hunger. It's getting worse, I can't.... I tried to suppress it, ignore it, but it hurts so much, I-...”
“You can feed on me.” Delilah immediately offers. Spark's hand snaps shut.
“No. I won't.” she refuses, surprisingly stalwart. “I can't. I have to do it to a human on one of those two planets. I'll wait.”

“Spark, please be reasonable. Just look at yourself, you can barely stand.” Delilah implores her gently, but she shakes her head again.
“I can't. I-... My mother told me that you gave Seeker a drug that numbs the pain.” She looks up, hopeful. “That's why I'm here. If you give me this drug, I can take it a bit longer. And I can be that symbol I wanted to be.”

“No one has to know that you've fed before.” Delilah says, but Spark's gaze is ice cold when it meets hers.
“I would know.” she responds, and Delilah feels a deep affection for this girl.
“Right.” she says, and walks back to the doorway, and picks up her bag. She's brought morphine, along with many other drugs, a decision she's very grateful for in hindsight.

“This will make you numb and dizzy. It essentially dulls your perception of pain, but it's very potent and highly addictive, at least to humans.” she explains, while pulling the substance into a syringe. “I only gave Seeker one dose, but if you take it more than once, you will have withdrawal effects once you stop.”

“It won't be for long.” Spark promises, her eyes locked on the syringe, as Delilah returns to her side. “The Hive is scheduled to take flight today. We'll be approaching the lesser developed planet you showed us. A few days at max.”

“To a human, that can already be difficult on morphine.” Delilah says. “I'll be honest with you, I have little knowledge of what this will do to a Wraith long-term. Especially one so young, and deprived of their natural healing ability due to starvation.”

“Delilah, if I have to endure this pain, I will die.” Spark tells her, and her usually so cheerful eyes look serious and intense. “I am not joking, I will literally die. You have no idea what this feels like, it's pure agony. If I'm left in this state, I can't guarantee that despair won't get the better of me.”

Delilah swallows hard, the implications of that statement feeling like a slap in the face.
“Don't say things like that.” she whispers, but tugs on Spark's arm, to administer the morphine. She shakes her head again.
“You won't let it get that far.” she says, as Delilah pushes the narcotic into her vein.

“It'll take effect in a few moments.” she tells her, not willing to dwell on the idea of this young girl being driven to suicide from sheer pain. “Look, Spark, you don't have to do this. You don't have to put yourself through this.”
“I know. But I want to.” she says, the cramped tension in her entire body lessening at little, as the drug takes effect. “I believe in this project, and I want to help.”

“You're brave and kind. But destroying yourself won't help me at all, you see?” Delilah sits on the patient bed next to her. “It's admirable, what you're doing, but please understand that this isn't your duty. If the journey to the planet takes any longer than anticipated, I want you to feed. On me, or your prisoners, I don't care. But please don't put your health at risk for the sake of making a statement.”

“You sound like my mother.” Spark mutters, which sends a smile to Delilah's lips.
“Maybe you should listen to her some more.” she suggests. “Are you feeling any better yet?”

The Wraith girl shrugs a little.
“It's bearable. I can still feel it, but... yes, you're right. It's duller.”

“Good. Go back to your quarters, and try to sleep a little.” Delilah sees her inhaling to protest, but she decides to shut her down immediately. “Get outta here before your father arrives and flays me alive for giving you heavy-duty pain medication.”

“He wouldn't do that-...”

“Of course not, but you can't tell me he'd be particularly happy with me if he knew.”

Spark sighs in defeat, then nods and gets up. She looks a bit better, indeed, but is also dangerously wobbly on her feet. Delilah huffs. She's given her the same dose as Seeker, who is significantly taller, and at least twice as heavy as this scrawny Wraith teenager.

“I'm fine.” she insists when she sees Delilah reaching out to steady her. “Just stood up too fast.”
“Will you make it back by yourself?” Delilah asks her, and she smiles weakly.
“I'll have a Drone carry me.” she says, entirely serious, and moments later, a Drone walks in and crouches down in front of her.

Spark, obviously having telepathically called for him, climbs onto his back and has him piggyback her. It's one of the more absurd sights presented to Delilah on this Hive, but she neglects to comment on it.

“Thank you.” Spark tells her, before she has the Drone walk out of the lab.

It's been four days, in which Delilah had given Spark one additional dose of morphine. Now, she sits in a Puddle Jumper, flown by John Sheppard, and crewed by both Atlantis personnel, and Wraith troops.
Dusk is there, flanking his daughter from the right, and Delilah herself is by her left. Seeker attends, as the Wraith's official first contact to the humans of Atlantis, as well as two other male Wraith Delilah doesn't recognize.
They occupy the rear section of the vehicle, Sheppard's team is in the front part.

“Everything has been arranged.” Teyla speaks up, after the Jumper passes the event horizon. She had been the one to convince the Queen to set course for Atlantis, and put the mission into lanthean hands, rather than negotiating with the villagers, while a massive Hiveship looms ominously in their skies. “Dr. Beckett has begun vaccinating the population, and they have named a volunteer to prove the serum's effectiveness.”

Light floods the ship from the front screen, as Sheppard lifts the Jumper out of the thick, wooded area that surrounds the Gate.
Delilah sees Spark's feeding hand claw into her knee.

“I will ask all but Dr. Abbot and Spark herself to remain close to the Jumper at all times, and stay neutral. We do not want to intimidate these people, and remember, regardless of your intentions, they have been tormented by your kind for generations. Fear is ingrained into their minds, and some may even scorn you. Be prepared for this.” Teyla continues, her voice as soft and diplomatic as ever.

Spark is shaking in her seat. The effects of her last dose are wearing off, and the mind numbing pain is returning. Still, she lifts her chin.

“The volunteer isn't scared, are they?” she asks Teyla, who gives her an apologetic look.
“I cannot say. I have not met with them in person.” she responds. “The Delari people are rather brave by nature, so I expect a young person to have taken this opportunity to prove themselves.”

Spark nods slowly, and lowers her head again.

A jolt goes through the ship as it lands, and Sheppard is the first to get up.
“Right. Dinnertime.” he announces, bitterness in his voice, but Delilah swears she hears a comforting undertone, directed at Spark.
The Major hasn't spoken to her directly yet, so that indirect jab might've simply been his way of showing support.

Emotionally constipated men from Earth. Delilah pulls a face, and helps Spark get up, as they prepare to leave the Jumper.

“I am... so hungry.” Spark whispers, as Delilah leads her out of the vehicle. “Whatever prelude you need to give, please hurry.”
They step out into a town square, brick and cobblestone indicating a technology akin to Earth's middle ages.
A crowd of people has formed around the jumper, leaving a wide space open at its center, their apparent stage. Some of the people give Spark dirty looks, as she passes by, but Delilah protectively puts her arm around the girl's shoulders.

“Thank you for welcoming us here.” she then opens, rising her voice a little, so that the crowd can understand her. It's quiet, a tense silence looming over the people of Delar. “I am Dr. Delilah Abbot, from the Atlantis expedition. The vaccine you are being treated with is my invention. This is Spark, daughter of her Hive's Queen. She has volunteered to demonstrate the vaccine's effectiveness to you.”

She steps away from Spark, and gestures to her. The crowd's attention shifts to her, and after a few seconds of unease, Spark raises her shaky voice.

“I thank you as well.” she speaks, struggling to her keep her voice steady. “I am barely out of adolescence. My hunger has only recently awakened, and I have deliberately put off feeding, as I wanted to be the first Wraith to never have taken a human life. I will not lie to you – It was difficult to resist, but it was worth it, to me. I want this peace. And I don't want any of your people to die under our hands ever again.”

“Prove it.” a light voice cuts the silence that falls after Spark's little speech, and a member of the crowd steps forth.
She's dark skinned, and has boyish, short hair. As opposed to the other women in their skirts and dresses, this young woman is dressed in rugged leathers, and carries a longbow on her back, defined muscles on her arms, revealed by her sleeveless vest.

Spark looks up to her; she's a bit taller than her.

“My name is Venah. I have volunteered to be fed on by you.” she introduces herself, and unlaces her vest a little. “But be warned – should I die, you will too, before my body hits the ground.”

“I don't want to kill you. And even if I did, I would not do it in front of a crowd.” Spark responds, still remarkably calm.
“We will see.” Venah says, and steps closer, until she's within an arm's length of Spark.

Delilah backs off, and gives Spark an encouraging nod, as she looks to her for help.
“The initial incision will hurt.” she tells Venah, as her feeding hand approaches. “But the drain itself will not. You might feel light headed afterwards, and you will require rest. But I will not take any years off your life.”

Her hand comes to rest on Venah's chest, who stares at her, without even the slightest hint of fear.
“Get on with it.” she growls at her, and Spark closes her eyes.

Then, she feeds.
The jolt of energy hits her, for the very first time in her life, and she feels Venah's nerves light up under her touch. Her hand cramps, and her claws set on the girl's skin, as the pain subsides, washes away in waves of bliss.

Spark feels warm.
It's as if she's leeching Venah's body heat too, a wonderful embrace of pure light enveloping her. She senses the strength in her arms, pulling back her bowstring to shoot and kill. She tastes the many hours of hard labor, steeling her body and callousing her hands. The power in this body and mind, and she merges with her, just for this moment.
The crowd seems to vanish, and nothing else matters, nothing but Venah, and her heart in Spark's hand.

Spark feels alive.

When she snaps back to reality, she's kneeling on her cobblestone ground, Venah breathing heavily in her arms.
The disconnection between her mind and body subsides, and Spark feels the skin against her own, the weight of her on her knees.

Molten amber, Venah's eyes flicker up to meet hers, and all the hostility is gone from her expression. She looks fascinated, enchanted even, awestruck.
“What was that?” she breathes, and Spark realizes that Venah's legs hadn't given out under her due to strain.

“You felt it too?” she asks flatly.
Venah is about to respond, when someone shouts her name, and people begin approaching them. She's torn from Spark's arms, and examined, hugged and kissed, an old woman ruffles her short hair, while Spark kneels there before them, dumbfounded.

Delilah soon joins her, and helps her back to her feet.
“Don't worry.” she whispers to her. “That's normal.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5 – Venah

Spark scrambles to her feet.
Her gaze is locked onto Venah, as she's celebrated by her friends and family, some of them in tears, the pent up fear for her life finally dispersed.

It still lingers, that feeling. The taste of her life, and Spark's hand twitches. Her eyes widen, and her breath hitches. There's a terror rising in her mind when she realizes that she wants more.

She's done it. She's fed on a human, and she loved every second of it. The blood on her hand glistens, the wetness feeling chilly on her skin.
More.

Venah is hugging her mother, and says something to her, then looks over to Spark, who is standing there, tense, with her hands flexing at her sides. She feels Delilah approaching, sees her concerned expression in the corner of her eye, and an involuntary growl builds in her throat.

Spark bites down heavily on her lower lip, turns around, and runs.

Fueled by Venah's life, she speeds out of the settlement, past the Jumper, past her father, and into the woods.
Her pulse races, adrenaline running through her veins as her claws dig into the palm of her feeding hand.

She wants more.
In her head, she sees herself pulling Venah from her mother's arms, her hand slamming on her chest, she sees her claws drag bloody streaks over her skin. Pain stings in her palm, as her nail break skin, her dark blood mixing with the scarlet of Venah's.

Spark's sprint dies down, and she leans against a tree, sinking down to the ground, and wrapping her arms around her knees.
Oh, this is bad.

Venah is still with her, powering every beat of her heart, and Spark sobs. She wants to touch her, to feel her warmth, missing that connection, and oh, she wants more.
There are tears running down her cheeks, and Spark wonders how she can ever face anyone again. She will always have this in the back of her mind, the thought of her hand on someone's chest-... not someone's. Hers.

She's not ready. She can't do this, she can't live like this. Spark wants her easy days back, when her hunger could be tamed by a piece of fruit, not a living, breathing creature. Especially not one with eyes that can look back into hers, one with a mouth that can speak to her.

“If you want to hide, you should avoid crying. Noise makes you easier to track.”

Spark flinches, her head whips around to the side, into the direction the words have originated from. It's Venah, by herself, an arrow trained at her. She approaches slowly, relaxing the tension in her bow, and stowing it as she does.

“Why did you run?” she asks, getting dangerously close, and Spark can almost see her expression softening when she sees the tears.
Spark shakes her head, and fixes her gaze onto a spot a few feet in front of her.

“I-...” she begins, her voice heavy with tears. “I couldn't stay.”
“Why not? Why are you crying?” A mix of sympathy and curiosity in her voice, as Venah crouches down at her side. “The other Wraith are uneasy. Dr. Abbot is assuring them that I'll be able to bring you back. They are... worried for you, I think.”

Spark trembles a little. This must be a surprise to her, the fact that Wraith are capable of feelings like concern for someone else.
“Forgive me, Venah.” she says, her voice breaking when she gets to her name. “I couldn't... I didn't trust myself. I needed to get away, I-... You are... Your life. It's... I'm sorry. I wasn't prepared for this.”

There's an odd expression on Venah's face, and she ponders for a moment.
“I expected pain, and I was prepared for that.” she admits. “Not... that. I don't know what this is, or if it's the vaccine messing with my mind, but I understand.”
“You cannot understand.” Spark disagrees, and painstakingly uncramps her feeding hand, the wounds she's caused herself aching, as they heal. “I'm struggling, I... I can't stop thinking about...” She pauses, and finally looks up to her again. “...you.”

“Your hand on my chest?” Venah asks softly. “Your... your arms around my waist?”
“More.” Spark confirms, clamping her hand shut again.

There's a brief silence, and Venah lightly touches the feeding mark on her chest, hissing in pain. She looks back at Spark, at her hand, and frowns.
“Listen.” she then says. “I haven't expected this. I never thought that this would be something I'd have to worry about when I offered myself.”
“What?” Spark asks weakly.

Venah wrings her hands anxiously, and shifts into a more comfortable sitting position.
“I'm twenty-one.” she says. “Most girls my age are already married. But I'm just staving that off, roaming the woods, shooting things. My mother is worried. She keeps saying that I'm wasting my best childbearing years.”
Spark cringes. She's heard of this mentality humans have.
“But I don't want to bear children.” Venah continues. “I don't want... a husband. I've held this back for my entire life because,.. I don't know. But when you touched me, not just my body, but really me...”

Spark's heart skips a beat, and continues twice as fast.
“Yes?” she asks, already expecting what's to come, but she wants to hear her say it.
Now it's Venah who avoids her glance.

“It's not unheard of, you know. But people don't like it. The Wraith are decimating our numbers, so we have to reproduce.” Venah speaks faster now. “People don't like it, when a woman... well, likes another woman. That's why I haven't-... I've hidden this, from others and myself, but... When you fed on me, ...”

“I want to touch you.” it breaks out of Spark, almost startling herself. “You-... you don't have to live like this anymore. The Vaccine-... we won't have to kill anymore. None of this will be a problem anymore, you can just-...”

She cuts herself off, when she hears footsteps approach, and a mind brushing against hers.

'Spark. Tell me where you are.'
It's her father. Dusk's mental voice feels off balance, shaken by fear for her life. Spark shivers. Venah was armed, when she left to track her.

'I am fine, father.' she hurries to respond. 'Go back, leave me. I will return shortly.'
'We need you. You are Queen now, you must negotiate with the humans.' Dusk implores her, but stops his approach. 'The villagers are getting uneasy.'

“What is it?” Venah asks, alarm shaking her voice again.

“We must go back.” Spark tells her. “Right now. Come.”
She gets up, and freezes, when she feels Venah's hand on hers, warm fingers touching her feeding slit as she gently pulls her along.
“Let me lead. I know these woods better than you.” Venah says and Spark nods silently, struck by desire again, and she does her best to stop herself from sealing her feeding organ against Venah's palm.

'I am on my way.' she lets her father know, then locks him out of her mind. He doesn't need to know what she struggles with.

Delilah smiles triumphantly, seeing Spark emerge from the woods, hand in hand with Venah. She approaches them, lightly putting her hand on Spark's shoulder.
“Hey. You alright?” she asks, soft and comforting like a mother.
“I will be.” Spark responds, well aware that there's no use in lying to her, with the tears still welling up in her eyes.

Venah tugs on her arm, and pulls her before the crowd again.
“She was alone with me. No one would have heard my screams.” she announces. “Yet, she did not hurt me. The Vaccine works. The Wraith kept their word. We need to accept.”
Spark wrings her hand from Venah's grip, and steadies herself to speak.

“Please.” she says, her voice still shaky. “After this, I cannot go back to my Hive, and start killing. I can, and will not. Please work with us. No one ever has to suffer again. The war will be over. Countless human lives will be saved, countless Wraith will never suffer hunger again.”
It's unlike a Queen to beg like this, but it's also unlike a Queen to cry, and hold a human's hand. Spark doesn't care.

She wanted to be the change this Galaxy needs, and walking on familiar roads will not help her become that.
Uncharted territory, she thinks, when Venah's hand locks around her wrist, and brings her hand up to her chest again. She flinches, when her palm touches the scabbed feeding mark, but it's easier to resist, now that she's no longer starving.

“They said they'd be done in an hour.” Spark says, pacing in the Jumper. “It's been three. Something is wrong.”

“They are discussing a permanent alliance with a race that has made them live in fear for eons.” Teyla says, keeping her tone warm and non-hostile. “There are many things they need to consider. Their entire society is about to change.”
“So is ours! Yet, we didn't take this long!”

“You guys have a Queen who dictates what happens and what doesn't.” John chimes in, seemingly annoyed by the girl's restless pacing. “These people don't work that way. It's called democracy. Read up on it sometime.”

“Sit down, Spark. We'll be okay.” Delilah adds, and pats the space between herself and Dusk.
“These humans are very cooperative.” Seeker adds, while Spark reluctantly obeys. “Atlantis took weeks to even let me move without having weapons pointed at me at all times.”

“You did try to kill me.” Teyla argues, and Seeker's glance flickers over to her. It's really their first direct interaction, since their brief fight during his capture.
“You shot me.” he responds, not sounding very hostile. “I needed to heal.”

“Friends, please. We've been over this.” Delilah interferes, and Teyla smiles at her.
“Worry not, Doctor. I harbor no grudge for this particular instance.”

“The two of your fought before?” Spark asks, welcoming the distraction.
“Yes. Shortly before we captured him. In fact, my discovery of him was what lead to the success of our mission.” Teyla tells her, and Seeker flashes a smile at her.
“Had Major Sheppard not interfered, I would have won this battle.” he reminds her, and then inclines his head toward her. “But I will grant you this – never before has a human pressured me this much in hand-to-hand combat.”

“Thank you.” Teyla says, obviously a bit taken aback by this sudden declaration of respect.

“You should speak to the Queen, once we return to the Hive.” he then suggests, briefly drawing everyone's attention. Dusk shoots him a warning glance. “There is something you should know, and she is the one who may tell you.”

Any question Teyla was going to ask is cut off by a dull thud against the ship's door, and Spark jumping to her feet so quickly, one would think something stung her.
She pulls the lever that opens the door, and is immediately faced with a handful of village elders, along with Venah, who has her arms crossed.

“We have made a decision.” a middle-aged man announces, and Delilah slowly approaches, positioning herself behind Spark.
“Yes?” Spark asks, almost sheepishly.

“Considering what we have been told by the Lantheans, and the confirmation we received from you today, as well as Venah's testimony...” He nods toward her briefly. “We have elected to accept your offer. You may land your ship, and establish relations with us.”

The previously neutral expression of Venah's face is now turning into a bright, triumphant smile.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 – Gift

It had looked like the end of the world, when the Hive started to descend upon the planet. A large shadow blocking out the sun, casting darkness on the settlement, as it passed over, gradually approaching the uninhabited area behind the village.
The noise of trees being crushed underneath the massive ship sounds like thunder.

“This is the first time we do not cower as the Wraith eclipse our sun.” the Elder tells them, as they all stand watching, in the town square.
“Never again.” says Spark, the light travel coat billowing behind her.

“I will request an audience with your mother, once the Hive is fully situated.” Teyla informs her. She's flanking the girl.
It's been several hours since the council had announced their willingness to work with the Wraith, and Dusk had alerted his Queen of their progress.
“She's not there.” Spark responds, and an unreadable expression dominates her features as she turns to Teyla. “This is... my Hive.”

“Your Hive?” Teyla parrots.
“My future Hive, that is.” she specifies. “My mother saw it appropriate to continue its construction here, with me, as its Queen. Now that I've...” She pauses, and glances over to Venah, who is observing the Hive's descent a few meters away, with her family. “...fed.”

“It's already so imposing...” the Elder mutters, and Spark shoots him a glance.
“It is more than a ship.” she explains. “It is a city, a nation. Our entire lives are confined to our Hives. But, it is a work in progress. It needs to grow and develop, before I can do anything significant with it.”

Again, she pauses to look toward the ship, before turning to the group behind her.
“You should return to Atlantis. She will be waiting for you in orbit around Lanthea.” she lets them know. “I have a skeleton crew on this Hive, so I can manage everything here by myself. Queen Horizon will need your help to establish relations with Hoff.”

Spark's entire demeanor has shifted, ever since the unfinished Hive had appeared in the skies over Delar. She'd transformed from a nervous wreck, a young girl confused about herself and the role she's supposed to fulfill to a serious and steadfast figure of authority in a matter of hours.
Youth still glints in her eyes, enthusiasm, but now it's accompanied by confidence.

However, no one misses the long glances she regards Venah with.

Teyla quickly makes her way from the Jumper Bay, down to the Gate Room, as soon as Sheppard lands the tiny ship. She's caught a glimpse of a few leather coats through the front screen, as the Jumper's passed through the Gate, thus, she rightfully presumes that the Queen is in Atlantis as well.

The group scatters, Sheppard, Ford and McKay go to report in to Dr. Weir, followed by Dusk, who insists on giving her the Wraith side of the dealings as well. Steve and Abbot discreetly retreat from the large room, and the other Wraith they'd taken with them gradually rejoin their brethren.

Teyla was right.
Horizon stands there, at the top of the staircase, calmly overlooking the room, likely being kept up to date via telepathic connection to her Consort. She's tall and imposing, dressed in a form-fitting leather coat, not unlike the ones the males wear, but hers only reaches down to her knees, revealing a pair of tightly laces boots.

She approaches the Queen, anxiety sitting firmly in her chest, as she's never actually come face to face with her. The Queen's eyes shift to meet hers, and Teyla sees her pupils dilate.

“I must speak with you. Your subject has hinted that you have something to discuss with me.” she says, valiantly keeping her voice steady, and sees a brief smile ghost over Horizon's features.

“Come walk with me.” she simply responds, and passes Teyla on the stairs, on her way to the doors leading out of the Gate Room.
Teyla hurries to keep up with her, as Horizon makes her way through the halls of Atlantis, until she reaches a less busy area. Her steps slow down to a leisurely stroll.

“You have a right to know. I was unsure of when to tell you, but it appears that my 'subject' deems it appropriate now, as he's sent you to me.” she finally speaks, and Teyla nods slowly.
She should be on her guard, alone with a Wraith Queen, but Horizon somehow manages to feel entirely nonthreatening, as she strides beside her, with her hands clasped behind her back.

“Tell me what?” Teyla asks, and Horizon raises her chin.
There's a sensation of closeness, that has Teyla flinching physically, as she touches her mind with her own, just a brief brush of her presence.

“Do you know the origin of this ability, Teyla Emmagan?” Horizon asks her.
“My people believe it to be a Gift from the Ancestors,...” she sheepishly responds, and lets he statement fade out.
“It is not.” Horizon states firmly. “It is not a Gift, and it has nothing to do with the Ancients.”

She takes a sharp turn, and steps out onto one of the many balconies, stepping up to the railings, and placing her hands on it. Teyla remains behind her, watching the harsh sea winds rip through the Queen's hair.

“Many, many years ago,” she begins, back still turned to her. “A scientist of ours, of mine, began a particular project, in order to make humans more compatible with our organisms, to make feeding less... painful. He did so on my orders, as I always viewed the way most of us celebrate the act of taking a life critically.”

Teyla steps closer.
“You wanted to make feeding hurt less?” she paraphrases, just to make sure she didn't misunderstand.
“Yes.” Horizon confirms. “This is why I so easily agreed to Dr. Abbot's plans, as they match my beliefs. I never considered the option of working together with humans, of creating a permanent peace, but I have always harbored compassion.”
She turns around, to face Teyla again.
“But, I digress.” Horizon continues. “The experiments went on for a few years, and my scientist reported alleged success to me, but I soon began mistrusting his accounts, sent people to investigate. He was altering the human genome with select parts of our DNA, but his successes were lies. Instead of causing any effect on the feeding process, he's given these humans telepathic powers.”

Teyla's breath hitches, and a sense of dread fills her, but she lets Horizon continue.
“Many went mad as a result, when he released them, some were killed, some escaped. I ordered him to cease his experiments immediately, but he did not obey. Instead, he fled my Hive, and set up his own laboratory, near a settlement on one of our feeding grounds.” she says. “I did not know how far his experiments were allowed to venture, before we tracked him down and held him responsible for his deeds, but I know that the descendants of the humans he's mutilated this way still live.”

There's an inevitability in Horizon's voice, as Teyla waits for the verdict, the conclusion.
“I sensed this anomaly in you the moment you stepped on board of my ship.” Horizon closes. “You have Wraith genes within you, that is why you can tap into our telepathic network.”

Heat and icy coldness fight for dominance in Teyla's heart, as she processes the Queen's words. Her eyes have lost focus, and dart around the environment, decidedly avoiding Horizon. She feels numb, and a sharp breath escapes her.

She shouldn't feel this amount of shock, Teyla tells herself. She's supposed to be allied with the Wraith now, for her people, for the generations to come, who will never face the horror of a Culling. Taking a deep breath, she tries to prepare herself to speak, even though she has nothing to say.

Horizon stops her.
“You do not need to speak.” she says, likely sensing the conflict in Teyla's mind. “This is something you will need to handle by yourself. None of your human friends can help you, none of them will fully understand. Nor will I. I know that you try so very hard to hold this anger, this grief back. For the good of all, and I respect you for it.”

There's genuine surprise, when Teyla looks up to her.
“You do?” she asks weakly, and Horizon folds her hands before her body.
“I do.” she confirms. “You are a leader, like myself. I understand that you must often hold your true feelings back, for your people. And with understanding comes respect.”
“You were my enemy for many years.” Teyla begins, trying to be diplomatic, but Horizon's smile is disarming.

“I was your enemy for millennia.” she corrects. “I killed countless humans in my lifetime, and no amount of goodwill can excuse this. You have a right to despise me, to feel contempt and disgust. I will not think less of you, or this alliance.”
She's right, but Teyla lacks the energy to verbalize her anger. So she just nods. Horizon steps forward, passes her on the way to the door.

“I said that I cannot help you process this information, and that much is true, it is a road you must travel on your own.” she says, briefly stopping by the door. “But I can help you hone your mental abilities. There will be no better teacher than a Queen.”

With these words, she leaves Teyla behind on the balcony, with the storm raging in her heart.

Far away, on the other side of the city, another Wraith stands on a balcony with a human woman, hair moved gently by the wind, but their company is much warmer to one another.

Seeker has his hands resting at Delilah's waist, her hands on the sides of his neck, as they stand in a light embrace, forehead to forehead, but not quite kissing just yet.
Delilah's eyes are half-lidded, and they breathe in unison, for a while simply enjoying each other's presence in silence.

She looks up to him, and reminisces with a smile. He's free, and it shows. His entire demeanor, the way he walks these halls, the way he holds his head up high, it feels lighter and easier.
Her hand traces his sharp cheekbones, leading to him opening his eyes, tilting his head a little, into her touch.

“Are you healing?” she asks him, vague, but she knows that he understands what she means. He nods silently, and his lips press briefly on the corner of her mouth. She smiles, and wants to grab him, ravish him, but instead, she just nudges him with her nose, and plants a tiny kiss on his lips.

He purrs a little, and his hand runs through her hair. The moment lasts, before the sound of shifting leathers pulls Delilah out of her trance, as he moves.
He's tense, and his embrace feels protective now. Delilah furrows her brows, and seeks eye contact.

His eyes lack focus for a moment, then his pupils dilate, narrowing.
“Something is wrong.” he whispers to her.
“What is it?” she asks, mild anxiety shaking her voice, and he steps away from her, taking her hand into his.

“Control room, now.” he urges.

When they arrive, most noteworthy personnel is already assembled, McKay tapping frantically on his console.
“What's wrong?” Delilah immediately asks upon reaching them. Sheppard's absence alarms her.

It's Queen Horizon who turns to her, and responds.
“The city has been invaded by a scout.” she tells her. “It hid among my Dart patrols, and was immediately destroyed, once we detected it, but according to your Dr. McKay...”

“It got a data transfer off.” McKay interrupts her, while Sheppard comes jogging in from the Jumper Bay. He looks disheveled, more so than usual, and his glance flickers between the many Wraith in the Control Room.

“You still claim that you don't have anything to do with that?” he asks Horizon, his accusatory tone dulled by his obvious worry.
“I do not claim it, I state it, simple.” Horizon defends herself. “As I said before, Major Sheppard, my alliance has enemies. We have been orbiting Lanthea for a suspicious amount of time now, and I presume that my Primary ran out of excuses to give for our presence here. That is why our enemies may have sent this scout.”

Sheppard draws breath to speak, but Seeker cuts him off.
“We would not endanger this shaky truce by deploying a scout for information, while we have our own troops here, would we?” he argues. “I said it before, our kind is at war with itself. And the vaccine gives us a dangerous advantage. This is an act of aggression, against you and us alike.”

Delilah stares up at him.
“You sensed that scout.” she says, and he nods.
“I attempted to establish contact, to determine who he was, but he shut me out vigorously. That is why I knew that something was off.” he explains, sounding a little bit apologetic toward her, and she squeezes his hand reassuringly.

“They know that we're here, and we have little was to defend ourselves.” Dr. Weir says, dread in her voice, but Horizon shakes her head.
“I refuse to see it that way, Dr. Weir.” she counters. “This will be our opportunity to cement your trust. I will have my Hive signal the remainder of our alliance to come and aid us in the battle to come. If this is how we will announce our friendship to you, than so be it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7 – Saboteur

“I have established contact with my alliance. They have set up a fleet to aid in the City's defense.”

They all stand listening to Horizon's voice, lightly distorted through her video transmission. She insisted on returning to her Hive, currently orbiting Lanthea. Dr. Weir stands by the monitor, directly speaking to the Queen.

“Have you gathered intel on what kind of assault we should expect?” she asks, arms crossed and expression tense.
“Three Hives, with their entourage of Cruisers, according to my intel.” Horizon responds, and briefly bats her eyes. “If they keep their current course, they will be here before my backup will. I suggest you don't rely entirely on us.”

“We aren't. There's an old satellite, not far from the planet's orbit. We presume, it might have been a last line of defense during the siege on Atlantis.” Weir explains. “I will send a team of scientists to get it back online, however, if you could spare some vessels to escort...”

Horizon nods quickly.
“I will send a full squadron of Darts to assist. However, you must be ready to give your people the order to retreat immediately, should the enemy get too close.” she explains.
“As odd as this notion is, that is why I am requesting an escort.” Weir clarifies. “Should that happen, I will ask you to bring my people to safety on your ship.”

McKay behind her looks like he's about to protest, but Horizon's expression has him pausing.
She has her head angled slightly, and the first hints of a smile
“I will instruct my pilots accordingly.” she then confirms, and nods toward the camera. “Hail me, when your team is ready to depart.”

“I will.” Weir says, and after a brief pause, adds: “Thank you.”
Horizon nods again, and cuts the connection.

'My Queen.”

Spark does her best to block out the voice in her head, as she jogs down the streets.
'My Queen, please.”

She turns, and stops before a door, knocking a few times before it is opened.
An old woman faces her, in a nightgown, squinting at the light Spark carries. She looks surprised at best, likely having woken up from her knocking.
“I'm sorry to disturb you at this hour.” Spark hastily apologizes. “I must speak with your daughter. Is she available?”

“Venah is asleep-...” the woman begins to protest, but the sound of a door slamming behind her cuts her off.
Venah is hopping on one foot, approaching the door while putting on her boots.
“It's fine! I'm up, I'm up!” she calls out, and makes to to her mother's side, leaning against the door frame. “What is it?”

“I've received word from my mother.” Spark says, after taking a deep breath. “Atlantis will be under attack very soon, and according to her estimations, backup won't be there until next week.”
Venah nods slowly.
“Under attack by whom, other Wraith?” she asks.
“Yes. They've been scouted not too long ago. I have the only vessel that can fly to reinforce fast enough, and that's exactly what I plan to do.”

Venah raises her chin.
“I thought you said that your Hive wasn't ready?”
Feeling telepathic pressure, Spark pulls a face.
“That's true. But we have a Hyperdrive, and weapons. That is all we will need.” she explains. “Believe me, my crew isn't very happy about this either.”

“Will they follow your command, then?” Venah's mother, the elderly woman asks shyly, and Spark smiles at her.
“I am their Queen. They have no choice but to do as I say. I'll fly this Hive myself if I have to.”

“Spark, you are planning to take this unfinished ship into actual combat?” Venah takes a step outside, toward her. “I do not claim to know more about Hiveships than you do, but isn't that... risky?”
“Of course it is.” Spark involuntarily backs up as she speaks. “But not only do I owe the people of Atlantis a great debt, it will also be Queen Horizon, who stands in their defense. My mother.”

She pauses, but both humans remain silent, Venah giving her a sympathetic look as she mentions that.
“Venah, look, I didn't just come here to tell you this.” Spark then continues. “In fact, there is a good chance that the enemy will invade the city, and... I would be... greatly honored to fight at your side. I want you to come with me.”

There's a brief silence following Spark's words, but she doesn't fear Venah's response. In fact, she already is responding, by the way her eyes light up.
“Take me with you, on one of your great ships? Through space?” she asks, awe in her voice.
“Yes. Exactly.” Spark glances over to Venah's mother, who looks positively horrified. “Your daughter is a great warrior. I need her help.”

Venah turns, and places her hands on the old woman's shoulders, who looks so very fragile next to her.
“Mother, this is what I dreamed of. I'm going to fight, defend and save lives! And the Wraith – I can personally see them fight for the ancestral city. This is the confirmation our people yearn for, is it not?”

“I will send Venah down to Atlantis as soon as we reach Lanthea. If my ship falls, she will be safe.” Spark assures her, and the woman exhales sharply.
“Venah is my only child. Your... kind took my youngest six years ago. My husband died shortly before that. She is all I have left.” There's no malice in her words, only pain. Spark angles her head, and regards her.

“I will bring her back to you.” she promises. “I will give my life for her, if need be.”
“Mother...” Venah whispers, and the old woman pulls her into her arms.
“Be safe.” Spark hears her whisper. “Be safe, my dear.”

“McKay? We've got someone, uh... docking to the station.”

McKay was just about to angrily snap at his colleague for disturbing him, when a jolt of adrenaline hits him. Working with a Wraith escort nearby is nerve wracking by itself, keeping him constantly on edge.
“Who?” he asks, harsher than he wanted to.

“I don't-... uh, it's a Dart. Our escort, I presume?” Grodin, the scientist assigned to help him, responds.
“That wasn't the plan!” McKay complains.
“I know!” Grodin counters, his voice a bit shrill, telling McKay that he's not alone in his anxiety.

“You need not worry.” a terrifyingly deep, raspy voice has both scientists whip around.
Down there, at the bottom level of the room, stands a single Wraith, looking up at them.
“I am here to assist you. We must hurry.” he explains himself. “I have received word from the Hive that the enemy is almost upon us.”

“How would you be able to help configure ancient technology?” McKay asks, understandably confused, while he watches the Wraith climb up to his level.
“I would have a better reason to know my way around ancient technology than you do, Dr. McKay.” he responds, keeping his voice polite and neutral. “I have sabotaged many stations such as this one during the war, ten-thousand years ago.”

“...How... how old are you, exactly?” Grodin asks from the other side, and the Wraith flashes a toothy grin over his shoulder.
“Older than you.” he simply says, and pushes McKay's hands aside, to access the console.

“Uh-...” McKay stutters, obviously intimidated by this sudden face to face contact with a Wraith. “Y-You said, the enemy will be here sooner than expected?”

“I did.” the Wraith confirms. “We have miscalculated the time they need in between hyperspace jumps, to recover from the radiation.”
“How much sooner, exactly?” McKay continues, and the Wraith looks up.

“Our farthest scouts have already had visual contact.” he says, and Mckay feels his guts twist with fear.
“Oh.” he simply comments.

The Wraith is already back at work.
“Dr. Grodin.” he says, likely having requested to know the names of the humans he's supposed to help. “Please activate your side of the weapon relay.”
“Right! Just a moment-... there.” Grodin looks at the Wraith expectantly.

He hisses a little, enough to have McKay take a cautious step away from him. He seemingly notices that, and straightens his posture.
“Forgive me.” he apologizes. “The configurations are off, the dual relays won't work together. I need to reprogram them.”
“How do you kn-...” Grodin wants to ask, but is cut off by the Wraith.
“It was me who neutralized this station during the war. I can undo my own work, but...” He pauses briefly. “...ten thousand years is a very long time.”

“You just... go do what you must.” McKay says, still holding his distance to the Wraith. He nods, and turns back to the screen.

“Dr. Grodin, again.” he says, after a few minutes.
Grodin nods.
“Okay. Does it work?”

The Wraith takes a step back, and regards the console begrudgingly.
“Past me knew what he was doing.” he states. “There is a very complex virus in the central system, and it will take me longer than we have to eliminate it.”
“A virus? I'm sure I would have detected that-..”

“This virus only takes effect when we attempt to fire the weapon, causing a devastating power overload, resulting in the station exploding.” the Wraith explains. “If you had found it, you would no longer be here.”

McKay is about to respond, when the Wraith freezes.
“Y-.. uh, you okay?” he asks, and the Wraith turns to look at him.

“No. They are upon us.” he says, his voice like splintering ice. “You and Dr. Grodin must leave immediately. I will continue isolating my virus. The other Darts will safeguard you on your way to the Hive.”

“Wait, wait a second, you want to stay behind?” McKay protests. “You said it'd take you longer than we have time to-...”
“I am aware of what I said, Dr. McKay.” the Wraith responds. “Tell my Queen that I did everything in my power to complete my mission, because that is exactly what I will do.”

The panic doesn't quite reach McKay yet, as he begins to realize that this Wraith is genuinely about to sacrifice his life, not only for him and Grodin, but also for the entirety of Atlantis.
“I-...” he begins, but the Wraith lashes out and grabs him by the collar.

“Listen to me.” he snarls. “Your city is not ready to take on this fleet, and my Hive will not be enough to defend it. I must do this. If you refuse to leave me, you will die with me.”
He releases McKay, who slumps against the wall, and pats his chest anxiously, drawing an exasperated look from the Wraith,
“Believe me, you would have noticed if I'd fed on you. Now go.”

“McKay.” Grodin calls out from below. “I can already see them through the windows, we have to go.”
McKay gives the Wraith a look, who nods slowly, in support of Grodin's statement.

“Alright. I'll go.” he breathes. “But first,...”
“McKay!”
“Look, you asked me to tell your Queen what you did? I'm gonna need a name.” McKay demands, awfully confident, which almost immediately fades, when the Wraith looks up to him again. “C'mon, you're about to die, at least-...”

“Quartz.” he cuts him off. “My name is Quartz. Now leave.”

McKay makes a surprised noise, not actually having expected a response, then he climbs down, follows Grodin to the bay, where their Jumper is docked.
Before he leaves through the airlock, he shoots one last glance up at Quartz, who pauses briefly, looks down to him, and nods.

It feels solemn, when McKay returns the gesture and turns to leave.

“Right, let's get out of here before the Hives see us.” Grodin says, as he sits in the pilot's seat but hid voice shakes. He engages the cloak, and launches, followed by the Darts.
McKay looks down, and sees Quartz's Dart still in the bay.

“That was...” he seeks eye contact. “...something.”

“Uh, I gotta-... I need to speak to the Queen.” McKay awkwardly flails his hands before the Drones, blocking his path to the throne room. Neither of them budge. “Come on, you gotta at least understand what I say, right? I'm Dr. McKay, I'm kind of a big deal, and-...”

“It is fine.” A Wraith's voice behind him has him flinching. “Let him through.”
The Drones step aside, and the Wraith behind him makes an inviting gesture.

“Uh, thanks.” McKay says, still very uncomfortable, as he escorts him into the room.

“Queen Horizon is indisposed at the moment.” the Wraith says. “I am Dusk, her Consort. Whatever you wish to discuss with her, you may tell me instead. I will relay it to her as soon as possible.”

McKay wrings his hands nervously.
“Right. Okay.” he breathes. “Well, you see, those five guys you sent to protect me and Grodin?”
“Yes?” Dusk asks.
“Only four of them came back, right?” McKay smiles awkwardly. “The fifth one, Quartz, he … he's dead. He sacrificed himself to get one of the Hives-... the enemy Hives, of course. There was apparently a virus in the station, and-...”

“I know.” Dusk responds. “We recognized it, when the station went up in flames, as soon as the enemy got close.”
“Yeah. That's-... yeah, that's what he told us too.” McKay nods. “Look, he asked me to tell the Queen what happened, and I-...”

“She is aware.” Dusk assures him. “I have relayed your information to her already.”
“How-.. oh right. Telepathy.” McKay chuckles nervously. “Uhm, I don't mean to be rude, or anything but, is there any sort of protocol, like... when something like this happens to a human, we bury an empty casket.”

“Quartz will be mourned.” Dusk says. “Especially by the Queen, and myself.”
“..Oh?”

Dusk takes a step backward.
“We knew the risk, when we assigned this mission to him, and so did he.” he reveals. “Yet, it is painful to watch a son die.”

McKay goes paler than he already is.
“I'm sorry.” he can just say, and Dusk crosses his arms.
“His death is not on you, Doctor. I appreciate your will to preserve his memory. He trusted you with it, after all. I presume, he told you his name just before he died?”

“I actually... asked for it. Was that wrong?” McKay admits.
“No. You reminded him-... What you did was right. Thank you, Dr. McKay.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 8 – Siege

Horizon feels cold, when she stands on the bridge, Dusk operating the Hive's main controls behind her. The searing pain of Quartz's body disintegrating in the flames still lingers in her mind, his last memories reaching her with his dying breath.
She hasn't managed to speak to the human, Rodney McKay, who came bearing the news of his death, yet she is acutely aware of his presence at her flank. There's something very similar to compassion in the man's eyes, and Horizon has not yet decided how to respond to that.

“They are upon us, my Queen.” Dusk reports, speaking aloud out of courtesy to the two humans among them. “Weapons are charged, Darts are standing by to deploy at your order.”

“How big is their fleet?” Horizon asks.
“The satellite took out one Hive, that leaves two, with six cruisers.” Dusk reports, expertly keeping his grief out of his voice, but Horizon feels it regardless.

'We knew, this was a risk.' she tells him, her telepathic connection to him firmer than usual.
'Yet, neither of us were prepared.' he counters.
'We will never be.'

Horizon closes her eyes for a brief moment, allowing herself to relish in her Consort's tender, mental embrace, before a familiar notification sound has her eyes snap open again.
“What is it?” she asks, and Dusk's voice sounds unusually sharp when he responds.

“A Hyperspace window just opened. It's Spark. She's here.”

“Spark?!” McKay yelps, and Horizon rushes to Dusk's side, to look over his shoulder.
“She is not ready.” she hisses, adding 'I am not ready.' in her mind.
“I am hailing her-... no response. The enemy has opened fire on the city-... Spark is sending out Darts.” Dusk keeps interrupting himself to keep up with events.

“Move to intercept their fire.” Horizon commands. “Deploy our own Darts,-...”
“She is responding to my hails – an analogue audio signal.” Dusk reports, and sends the signal to the speakers.

“Do not protect me. I am not here to make this harder for you. Let me fight, and proceed with your defense plan.” Spark's voice sounds firm and controlled, but Horizon knows, she will be twitching, flexing her hands in anxiety.

'I am not ready to lose another child.' says Dusk, his mental voice faltering.
Horizon clenches her fists.
'She is grown.' she responds. 'We must have faith in her.'

“The first wave has entered the City.” Dusk continues reporting aloud. “Spark's Darts are in pursuit, as are ours. The Hives are firing on Spark.”
“They can tell that her Hive is not for for battle.” Horizon hisses. “Send out our second wave, assault the Hives.”

Spark takes a deep breath, when she materializes on the planet. A small strikeforce is with her, warriors, but no Drones, as she doesn't have any yet.

Venah flanks her, armed with her own bow and arrow, but also outfitted with a stunner, and a Wraith longblade.
Spark unsheathes her own, and takes it into her right hand, the feeding mouth sending a wave of disgust up her arm, as it comes in contact with the cool metal.

“If Atlantis was smart, they'll have initiated a complete lockdown. Meaning, the enemy troops are in the hallways, unable to access the Control Room.” Spark begins. “That is where we will hunt them down.”

'Recall the Darts, and aid Queen Horizon in the skies.' she tells her Commander through their mental connection, spins her blade in her hand, and marches forward.
She hears Venah pull her bowstring back, as she follows.

With her mind sharp, she feels the enemy approach before she sees them. A quick nod suffices to communicate the threat to her group, and the male Wraith accompanying them take up formation around Spark, leaving the front open. Followed by Venah, she steps forward.

One officer, ten Drones under his command. Spark bares her teeth at him, and sees him flinch, having expected everything but a Queen carrying a weapon.
Venah's bow sings, and the arrow hits the officer in the chest. His eyes go wide, and he falls to his knees.

A brief moment of confusion has her pause, but Spark quickly realizes that Venah hit his heart, not leaving any room for regeneration. She spins, backhanding one of the Drones, and the battle breaks loose.

Blades clash, stunners are being fired.
Spark delivers a sharp kick to a Drone's shins, forcing it to stumble backward, before thrusting her blade forth, right into its mask. It screeches, as the metal pierces skin, shatters bone, but death comes swiftly.
Spark pulls at her sword, to yank it back out, but she's too slow, sees the sharp end of a rifle approach her rapidly, but it never hits her. Instead it clatters uselessly to the ground, along with a severed arm, and Spark looks up, just in time to see Venah take the Drone's head off.

Their eyes meet briefly, and Spark swears she sees her smile.

She retrieves her sword, and soon finds herself back to back with Venah, fending off strikes, and delivering blows, covering each other effectively.
They'd begun outnumbered, but the small attack squad is soon felled, their Drones uncoordinated, acting purely on instinct, without their officer.

Venah has a splatter of blood across her face, when the last enemy falls.
“So far, so good.” she says. “On we go?”

“We need to neutralize as many of them as we can. And for that, we need to regroup with the Lantheans.” Spark explains, and focuses, trying to find Seeker's presence among the many foes.

“Major Sheppard.”

John cringes at the sound of a Wraith voice in the Atlantis radio network.
“This is Sheppard.” he responds, tapping his earpiece, in a hushed whisper as he leads his group of marines through the hallways.

“I have received a telepathic message.” Steve tells him. “Queen Spark is here, within the City, and wishes to group up with you. She is... leading a ground offensive.”
“I thought her Hive wasn't ready to fight yet?” John asks, and a brief silence tells him that her presence is just as surprising to Steve as it is to him,
“It is not.” he finally confirms. “She awaits you by the west pier.”

And the connection cuts off.
“Well, that's great.” John groans, reloads his P90, and opens another channel. “Ford, come in.”

“This is Ford.” the response comes.
“You anywhere near the west pier?” John asks him, while still quietly moving forward.
“I actually am, Sir, why?” Ford confirms.
“We've got Wraith friends helping. Meet them there, and reinforce. Sheppard out.” John switches off his radio, and signs to his marines.

They follow him around a corner and get in position, to wait for the group of Wraith they've been tracking.

“Spark?”

Lt. Ford's voice comes as a surprise, but a pleasant one. Spark immediately perks up, and jogs toward him.
“Lt. Ford! It is good to see you.” she greets. “Listen. My Hive is up there, assisting my mother's to destroy the remainder of the fleet. I'm here to help you with the immediate defense. Are your people safe?”

Venah gives him a shy little wave, and he nods to her.
“Uh, most nonessential personnel was evacuated. Everyone else is either fighting, or hiding away in the control room.” Ford answers, and she nods.
“Good. Means, we don't have to worry about injuring civilians.” She claps her hands excitedly. “I want your men to split up, one human, and one Wraith. You'll come with me and Venah. If one of us gets injured, the other can heal them.”

“Good, but, if you don't mind me askin',.. Why is she here?”

Spark's gaze flickers over to Venah briefly, who returns it, and smiles.
“Spark asked me to come with her. And so, I did.” she responds. “You do not need to worry for me. Lt. Ford. I have likely killed more Wraith than you have met.”
Venah unsheathes her sword, damp with black blood, and nods toward Ford.

“Shall we?” Spark then asks, as sweet as ever, and Ford swallows hard.
“Right. You heard her, guys. Pick a Wraith and move out.” he orders his squad, and there's visible hesitation among them, as they look up to the Wraith, armed to the teeth, and clad in dark leathers.

Seconds pass, then one of Spark's subordinates steps up.
“You. Come with me.” he says, pointing at one of the marines, who turns his index finger toward his chest, and raises his brows questioningly. “Yes, you.” The Wraith confirms.

It's a young man, younger than Ford himself, with dirty blonde hair, and a build almost too petite for a soldier. Yet, he grips his P90 tighter, nods, and steps up to the Wraith.

“You will trust me with your life, as will I.” he informs him, and briefly glances to his Queen for approval. “My name is Venom. Remember it, and tell me yours.”
“Private Alex Anderson.” the young man responds, his voice remarkably steady considering his situation.
“Let us go, then.” Venom says, draws his sword, and strides past his Queen, swiftly followed by Private Anderson, who looks a lot more confident about all this now.

Encouraged by this successful first contact, another Marine speaks up, and points at one of the Wraith.
“You can come with me.” he says, and a few other pairs find themselves, names and ranks are exchanged, all while Spark beams at Ford.

Once the pairs have all left, she walks toward the open hallway herself.
“I can now tell where each of these pairs is.” she exclaims. “So, I can coordinate our path, along with my ability to sense other Wraith. Let's get to work.”

Venah pulls an arrow from her quiver, smirks at Ford, and follows her.

“My Queen, I have confirmation that Spark is on the ground now, directly engaging the enemy.” Dusk reports.

“What, like, in Atlantis?” McKay chimes in, before Horizon can react.
“Yes. She has grouped up with your human defenders, and is clearing the city from enemy ground troops.” Dusk confirms, endlessly patient with McKay. “According to my information, the human woman, Venah, is with her.”

A light seems to come alive in Horizon's eyes, and she straightens herself.
“Keep me posted.” she requests. “Continue concentrating fire on the first Hive.”

“It is almost defeated, my Queen. I am directing our Darts toward the cruisers.” Dusk's hands twitch on the consoles. “The Hive is reaching a critical level, and appears to be venting atmosphere. We must move away, in our current state, we will not be able to survive the shockwave of its explosion.”

“Signal Spark's Hive, and prepare to jump into Hyperspace, recall the Darts!”

“What about Atlantis?” McKay asks, his voice a few octaves higher from anxiety.
“The explosion radius will not reach the planet's surface, according to my predictions.” Dusk assures him.

“And if you're wrong?” the human points out, gesturing wildly.
“I am not.” Dusk almost sounds offended, as a tremor runs through the ship.

Two Hyperspace windows open up, and the Hives retreat, as their enemy lights up in the skies, the thundering explosion roaring over the planet, turning the night to day for a few seconds.
After the glow subsides, silence falls over Atlantis.

Horizon's and Spark's Hives drop back out of Hyperspace, and establish orbit, to allow their hulls to regenerate.
With a sigh, Horizon's hand comes to rest on Dusk's shoulder, sending her mind out to find her daughter. The light poke she receives in response feels like the dawn after a long night.

It's over. It's done.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9 – Aftermath

Spark is temporarily distracted, seeing the sky come alight with the dying ships, the shockwave crawling over the horizon, as the sound cascades like thunder.
Even the Drones they're fighting seem to be freezing for a brief moment, as the control from their officers on the Hives fades away with their lives, lit up high above Lanthea.

The moment fades, and the battlefield comes alive once more, blades clashing, gunfire roaring. Venah has a long cut above her brow, when she faces Spark, blood running down her face. Spark's gaze lingers, just for a moment, when Ford's outcry catches her attention.

She spins her sword in her hand, lunges forward, and slams it into the Drone's temple, as it pins Ford down by the railings. Again, he cries out in pain, and Spark rips the dying Drone from him, letting it collapse on the ground, and rushes to stabilize Ford, helping him sink safely to his knees, back to the railing.

There's a bloody wound on his chest, five smaller punctures arching around it. She gives him a panicked look – he doesn't look any older, but there's sweat shimmering on his face, and his eyes seem empty, as he returns her glance. Spark presses her index finger on his neck, detecting an accelerated pulse.
Ford's eyes dart around without focus, and Spark hears his breath speed up, shallow and rapid.

“He's hyperventilating,” says Venah, having felled their last foe.
Spark nods, and closes her eyes for a second.

'Seeker. Send help. I think Lt. Ford is dying. I cannot help him.'
Her telepathic call feels a lot more desperate than she intends it to.

“How is he?” Spark hears Sheppard ask, as she enters the infirmary, shadowed by the squad of Wraith she'd brought.

The Major, Dr. Abbot, and Seeker are gathered around a patient's bed, occupied by a an unconscious Ford. A man, unknown to Spark, is calmly explaining.

“Well, from what I can tell, he's got an overdose of Wraith feeding enzyme.” the man says. “Concerningly high blood pressure, every synapse is firing faster than it should. It's a miracle he's even still alive.”
“That's bad.” Delilah says. “Even disregarding the damage it may cause, enzyme is highly addictive. There's a reason why my vaccine prevents it from entering the system. From what Dusk told me, it's incredibly difficult to recover from enzyme addiction.”

Sheppard lowers his glance to the unconscious Ford.
“Carson. Is he gonna make it?” he then asks.
“I can't say.” the man, Carson, responds, sound apologetic. “I've never dealt with such a case before, but I'll do for him what I can.”

“I'm sorry.” Spark finds it within her to say, drawing the group's attention. “I was there when it happened. Had I stepped in sooner-...”

“It's not your fault.” Delilah quickly says, but Seeker shakes his head.
“Technically, it just might be.” he says. “The Drone was killed while trying to feed, during the initiation of the process, to be precise. That caused it to release a massive amount of enzyme in a very short time. This likely would not have happened, had you stepped in just a bit later.”

Spark feels a sting in her gut, and nods, taking note of Delilah elbowing him in the side.

“Hey, she just tried to help!” she defends her.
“I am not questioning her intentions.” Seeker pedals back. “I am simply explaining what happened.”

“Well, if she had done nothing, Ford would be a dried up corpse now.” Sheppard says, and walks up to her. She's about to duck away when he raises his hand, but he just awkwardly claps her on the shoulder. “Hey, thank you, okay? Ford's a member of my team.”

“I consider him a friend.” Spark sheepishly responds.
“Me too.” Sheppard says, and backs off again. “Look. I know you're kind of a big deal, now that you're a Queen and all, so I guess it's fine if I tell you that, right?”

“What?” Spark flatly asks, arguably confused by the human's sudden shift in demeanor. He almost looks nervous.
“I may have, uh... a slight bias toward Wraith, and I might have treated some of you unfairly because of that. With good reason, though! I've seen some really nasty things happening with your kind involved!” Sheppard seems to be adding this, simply to save face. “But, without your help, the city wouldn't have made it. I'd say you... made a big step toward earning my trust today.”

A mixture of warmth and nervousness makes Spark all giddy, but she forces herself to remain steadfast. She's a Queen, alright. A leader. This is an official declaration of... almost-trust. She needs to receive it with dignity.

“Thanks! Thank-... Thank you, Major. I-... Thank you.” she stutters, and can't stop her feeding hand from making all kinds of fiddly-flexy motions at her side. Good enough. At least she didn't start bouncing.
There's a warm look of affection on Delilah's face, both toward her, and Sheppard. Spark feels encouragement from Seeker, but also urge to be at her guard.

'You really dislike this human.' she accuses him, and sees him pull back his upper lip in a silent snarl, quickly schooled back into his usual, neutral facade.
'He kept me prisoner.' he justifies himself.
'We used to hunt his people for sustenance, Seeker.' she reminds him.

“Hey. I can tell that you two are gossiping. You have that look.” Delilah cuts their conversation short, and Seeker shifts his gaze to her again.

“Spark just told me to 'get over myself', as you would phrase it.” he reports, and shoots Ford one last glance. “And I will be doing just that. Alone. In your quarters.”
With these words, he steps away, and leaves.

“Yeah. Get over yourself, Steve.” Sheppard says, but only as soon as Seeker is out of hearing range.

'Spark. I am waiting for you in the Control Room.'
Horizon's voice in her head has Spark's smile freeze on her face.

Spark senses Venah's uneasiness, as they both step before Horizon, standing in the center of the conference room, doors still open to the Control Room nextdoors. She's flanked by Dusk and Dr. Weir alike.
She looks powerful, and she looks official.

This is the first time Spark steps before her mother as not a child, but an equal. A fellow Queen. It feels off, even her father regards her differently – she outranks him now. Venah's fingers link with hers, as they approach.

“I do not want to hear anything about my interference.” Spark starts off strong.
“I was not going to chastise you for this.” Horizon responds, and inclines her head forward. “In fact, I am no longer in the position to chastise you. You are Queen, and how you lead your Hive is not for me to dictate.”

Air leaves Spark in a sharp hiss. She did not expect that, and judging from the pained look in her father's eyes, he doesn't necessarily agree.
'Yet, as you mother, I am relieved to see you unharmed, my dear Spark.' Horizon adds silently, and Spark raises her chin.

“I want to personally thank you for your help here, Queen Spark.” Weir speaks to her, sounding not at all stiff, or uncomfortable, in a room with three Wraith. “I was already told what big a risk you took by flying your Hive here. You did Atlantis a great service today.”

“We are allies, are we not?” Spark responds, feeling Venah's hand tighten around hers.
“We are.” Weir confirms, and dares to smile. She looks much younger when she smiles, Spark muses to herself.

“The Primary's fleet will be here in a few days, she will leave a set of cruisers, and one Hive here, when she departs again.” Horizon announces. “Until then, Dr. Weir has requested you stay in orbit, in case your enemies send a second wave.”
“I will.” Spark agrees. “Delar is not yet known as our ally, so they have little to fear. I can concentrate my resources here, for now.”

“Thank you.” Weir says, and pauses, tapping her earpiece. Spark perks up.

'Venom. What is happening?' she asks the first mind in her reach. A brief silence follows.
'The human you saved. He is awake, and volatile. He has stolen a weapon and is threatening the human physician's life, my Queen.' Venom reports, and Spark spins on her heel, then starts speeding down the stairs, yanking her hand from Venah's.

“Ford? Ford!” she calls out, when she reaches the infirmary.

Carson, the physician, stands with his back to her, hands raised in the air. Before him, by the medicine cabinet, stands Ford, shaky, covered in sweat. His left eye is completely black, and his features twitch uncontrollably.

“I know you still have some of it!” he accuses Carson, pointing a sidearm at him. The weapon's aim is off, in his trembling hand. “You just don't want me to have it! You're lying to me!”

Carson looks over his shoulder, and makes a throat-cutting motion to the group of marines Spark just wedged herself through.
“Aiden, listen to me. You aren't thinking clearly. Put down the weapon, and I'll explain what's happening to you.” he urges him, calm and slow, trying to soothe the man's panic.

He's going into withdrawal, Spark thinks and steps up beside the Doctor.

“Lt. Ford? Do you recognize me?” she asks, her voice shifting a few octaves higher, as she struggles to keep it neutral. “I'm Spark, your friend. We fought together, remember?”

“I-I remember you.” Ford says, the aim of his weapon switching from Carson to her and back.
“Good. That's good.” she says, also raising her hands, mimicking Carson, and gently approaches. “Listen. You got hit with an overdose of feeding enzyme when I killed the Drone that attacked you. It#s wreaking havoc on your system right now. The pains and tremors? That's withdrawal.”

“I need more of it. I need it! He won't give it to me!” Ford's index finger comes dangerously close to the trigger, and Spark makes a sidestep, to shield the human at her side.

“I know. But he can't give you any.” She moves her off hand to point at the feeding slit on her right one. “But I can. Give me your weapon, and we'll talk, alright?”
Ford shakes, and his features contort, almost as if he's about to cry.
“Lt. Ford.” Spark repeats, and stretches out her off hand to him. “Give me the weapon.”

There's another series of barely-contained spasms running through Ford's form, and his gaze flickers to her feeding hand. He steps forward, dangerously swaying, and places the weapon in Spark's hand.
She immediately hears the marines begin to move, but looks over her shoulder.
“Don't! I have this under control!” she calls out, and puts the pistol down on the ground.

Ford's lower lip trembles, and she bridges the distance between him and her, gently putting her off hand on his shoulder, and leading him back to his bed.
“It will be alright. Come, sit.” she speaks to him, steadying him as she escorts him back to his bed.
“You said you'd-...”

She takes a seat next to him.
“Yes. I did.” she admits. “But you need to understand that you are suffering from an addiction, Lt. Ford. I will give you a dose of my enzyme, but I will gradually decrease it, to help you recover. Do you understand this?”
“Yes. Yes, I understand, just, please...” Spark swears, she sees actual tears running down the young man's face.

She then nods, flexes her hand, and brings it up to Ford's chest, heated with a fever and damp with sweat.
He doesn't even flinch, when the organ seals on his skin, and the stinger breaks it.
Spark bites her tongue, focusing on not drawing life, as this would likely prove fatal in the miserable condition Ford's system is in, and instead just funneling her own energy into him.
The enzyme use of the Gift of Life is significantly smaller than that of feeding, so she settles with that.

It nearly hurts her, taking from herself and giving to another, and she feels the familiar pain of hunger build up within her, her lungs aching as they expand and deflate with each breath. She also feels Ford's nerves light up under her touch, as she feeds them with life.

He gasps, as the Gift subsides, and new enzyme courses through his veins, soothing the pain. Spark's hand cramps, and she pulls it back to her side, trying to ignore the growing pain.

“Do you feel better?” she asks, redundantly. Ford isn't shaking anymore, and his eyes seem a lot clearer. He carefully prods the wound she left, and nods breathlessly.
There's relief in his expression, when he looks up to her, but also fear.

“How bad is this gonna get?” he asks, actually sounding like himself again.
“I-... Really bad. But I can help you through it.” Spark promises.

Ford looks up to Carson, and then to the gun on the ground.
“Did I really point that at you?” he asks, horror in his tone.
“You weren't yourself, son.” Carson says, and picks it up, to hand it to the marines. “Tell Dr. Weir that the problem has been resolved.”
He turns to force a smile, but both Ford and Spark see that it's fake.