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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.

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. “”

“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,...”
“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.”

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.


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.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10 – Reparations

“He will be fine.”

Spark is sitting in the big conference chamber by the control room. Her mother is at her side, her hands folded on the table.

“Is this common? Enzyme-addiction, I mean? You seemed to know exactly what you were dealing with.” Carson asks, from the other side of the room, and Spark swallows hard.
“Yes, well. This actually brings me to what I wanted to discuss here in the first place.” She shuffles on her seat. Weir leans forward, and raises her brows.

“My people have committed an assortment of atrocities.” Spark begins, and shoots a quick glance to Major Sheppard who is leaning back in his chair, with his arms crossed. “And if we truly want a permanent peace, I believe that we need to start mending the damage we caused. But we cannot do that without your help.”

“That is generally a kind sentiment, and a show of goodwill nonetheless.” Weir encourages. “I'm sure we can divert some resources to help you do that... if you specify what you want to do.”

“You see, among the worst things that we do is the concept of Runners.” Spark begins, the words feeling heavy in her throat. “They are particularly resilient humans that are implanted with a subspace tracker, and then released. They are called Runners, because we... hunt them, for sport.”

There's an uncomfortable silence in response, and Spark clearly sees the disgust in her human allies' eyes. Teyla's reaction feels a lot more vibrant, and Spark almost recoils from the wave of anger coming from that woman's mind.

“My Hive never indulged in that.” Horizon comes to her aid. “Even within an alliance, we are given much freedom of choice, and since I view many facets of my kind critically, I never kept Runners. If I speak to the Primary, I can obtain the necessary data to track these humans, and set them free. However, Runners from Hives outside the alliance might prove more challenging.”

“Could you convince them to give them up?” Weir suggests, and Horizon lowers her gaze briefly.
“I'm afraid not, Dr. Weir.” she says. “The only reliable way to sway another Hive to our new way of living is through assimilation into the alliance. Any other Hive sees us as pariahs among the Wraith.”

“So, you gotta steal that data, right?” Sheppard speaks up.
“Yes. It will take some time to determine which Hives actually have Runners, so we are to consider this a long term project.” Horizon confirms. “My Hive will handle this. In the meantime, Queen Spark will focus on rehabilitating the ones our alliance has.”

“How many do you have?” Teyla asks, her voice steady and calm, but Spark senses the storm raging behind her temples.

“Two. A man and a woman.” she reveals. “Twins, actually. I already requested their data, and I have troops moving to capture them, so we can remove the trackers. Afterwards, we will take them to Atlantis, where your part of this project begins.”
“And I will work on gathering intel on other Runners.” Horizon adds. “Once they recover from their physical and mental trauma, we would like to have them settle on Delar.”
“That was Venah's idea.” Spark says. “I talked to her before this meeting, and she says her people will be very willing to help out.”

A sharp knock rips Teyla from her thoughts.
She's by herself in the gym, idly spinning her training weapons, trying to clear her head, but to little avail.
The tall form of Horizon is an almost welcome sight.

Teyla lowers her weapons, and inclines her head forward, wordlessly allowing her in.
“Am I interrupting you?” Horizon asks, her tone careful and polite. It still feels off to Teyla.
“No. You are not.” she assures her. “What do you want from me?”

The Wraith looks different, no longer in her leather travel attire. She's dressed in fine silks now, her hair is braided and tied back. Teyla notices an overly embellished, fingerless glove on her right hand.
“I came to remind you of my offer.” Horizon says. “I will depart soon, and I wish to give you your first lesson in telepathy. Once we openly antagonize other Hives by stealing their data, you may have to use your mental prowess to defend yourself.”

Teyla stalls, taking her time to walk over to the bench by the window, and sets her weapons down on it. She pauses deliberately, before she turns around.
“What do you get out of it? Why would you do this?” she then asks, thinly veiled hostility, but it doesn't seem to offend Horizon.

“I have a responsibility toward you.” she admits. “It was I who gave the order that caused these anomalies. Your Wraith DNA makes you vulnerable, unless you weaponize it yourself.”

“Very well. I will take your lessons. What must I do?” Teyla says, not fully on board with it yet. She's willing to give it a shot, though the idea of opening her mind to Horizon is uncomfortable at best, terrifying at worst.

There is a subtle shift in the Queen's demeanor, when she nods.
“Come to my guest quarters by sundown.” she says, then turns around and leaves the room. Teyla exhales sharply.

The door is opened almost instantly after Teyla rings.
Horizon steps aside, and beckons her inside the very empty, cold looking room. She likely did not bring many things of her own to Atlantis, so the standard issue room equipment is all she has.

Teyla takes a cautious step past her, and flinches visibly when the door shuts behind her.

The command sounds soft, contrasting the voice that speaks it. Teyla reluctantly obeys, taking a seat on one of the chairs aligned by the balcony door, facing each other. Horizon takes the other one.

“What happens now?” Teyla asks, and Horizon pushes her hands toward her, palms turned upward. The glove on her feeding hand is suddenly a very welcome addition to her outfit.
“Take my hands.” she asks, and Teyla slowly places her hands in Horizon's palms. She feels cool against her skin, and unnaturally smooth.
Swallowing hard, she forces herself not to flinch, when she feels Horizons claws lightly touch her.

“Close your eyes, and try to find my presence with your mind.” she continues to instruct. “Touch it and hold it, like you are holding my hands.”

She has done this before. Tried to feel the Wraith deliberately, but never while being so close to one in person. Teyla elects to humor her, and follows her instructions.
It feels like dunking your head underwater, when she opens her mind, and begins feeling her surrounding on another level.
Horizon is there. Burning bright like a bonfire, a beacon of raw power. Yet, she remains contained, waits for her to approach. Teyla reaches out. And Horizon welcomes her.

'Good. You found me.'

Teyla hears her, the voice coming from within her skull, resonating powerfully. Yet, it sounds so different from the voice Horizon speaks with. Her mental voice is honeyed silk, flowing like a gentle river.

'It was not particularly difficult to find you.' she responds, and it feels natural. Even easier than speaking aloud.

'I made no attempt to conceal myself.' Horizon agrees. 'Now tell me, how do you feel?'

Teyla's hands twitch, and she tries to articulate herself properly.
'Vulnerable.' she admits. 'Strange. It is not as bad as I anticipated.'

'That is because I am merely existing at your side.' Horizon explains. 'An enemy, especially a Queen will attempt to intrude, and break your mind. This vulnerability is real.'

Teyla instinctively pulls away from the contact but there's resistance, and iron grip keeping her in place.

'Good. You are reacting well. The first thing you need to learn is how to free yourself like this.' Horizon's voice tells her. 'The mind is like a muscle you can train. Try to break from my grasp. Struggle as much as you can.'

That is an instruction Teyla can get behind. She grits her teeth, and pulls harder, trying to get as much distance between herself and the burning light of Horizon's mind as she can. It's nearly impossible.
Teyla struggles harder.

'Do not panic. Focus on your mental presence, and detach it from mine. Panic will dull your senses.' Horizon scolds her, but her soft voice, soothes Teyla, something she knows will terrify her later.

Gathering herself, she channels all her might into the next tug. A shift goes through Horizon's presence, and Teyla can feel the pressure subsiding a tiny bit. She can't tell if it's due to her resisting, or Horizon giving her more space.
Regardless, she persists, and throws herself against the bonds. There's a wordless guidance, to faulty links and weak spots in the mental restraints, and Teyla ruthlessly assaults them.
She can feel a pattern, like chainmail, but there's irregularities in it, small errors in the fabric, that Teyla can tear open, eventually widening them enough to escape.

Her eyes snap open, and meet Horizon's.
An odd calmness is seen on her features, and Teyla watches her slit pupils dilate back into thin lines.
“You did well.” Horizon says, her verbal voice feeling like a cold shower after a fever dream. “Every mind has a weakness. Every attack, every restraint does. I made my own obvious to you, but you broke through on your own.”

Teyla nods, and realizes through the motion that she has a raging headache.
“However...” Horizon continues. “You are at the very beginning of your journey. I can tell that you are worn out.”

“I may be.” Teyla says, surprised how short of breath she is.
“You must rest.” Horizon says, and withdraws her hands Teyla hadn't realized she was still holding. She looks outside, and sees a clear night sky.
“How long-...?” she asks, feeling soreness in her neck.

“Two hours.” Horizon responds. “Time tends to lose all meaning when you interact with another mind.”
Teyla moves to get up, her head still aching badly. She's disoriented, almost light headed; Horizon rises from her seat as well, to escort her to the door.

“I will let you know when I have the opportunity to let you train again.” she says, when Teyla opens the door. “My Hive leaves by sunrise, and I cannot say how long this mission will take.”

Teyla has the presence of mind to seize this opportunity for a question.
“You could have crushed me.” she says. “I felt it, how much stronger you are. Why didn't you hurt me?”
Horizon angles her head, and gives her an inquisitive glance.
“I said, I see you as my responsibility, due to the atrocities my scientist committed on your ancestors.” she reminds her. “Why would I add further atrocities by harming you? I gave you my word, did I not?”

“You are-...” a Wraith, Teyla wants to say, but Horizon cuts her off.
“-... your ally.” she completes the sentence. “You have nothing to fear.”

A set of footsteps behind her draws Teyla's attention, and she turns to see a male Wraith in the corridors, the one she's seen flanking Horizon a number of times. He stand there, idly waiting for them to finish talking.
Horizon beckons to him, and he joins her on their side of the door.

“I must rest now, Teyla. As should you.” Horizon then says, and closes the door.
It takes Teyla a moment to realize that she sent her Consort out of the room for this.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11 – Surrender

Dusk's mind reaches out, as soon as the door closes. He's gentle, careful, scanning her for injuries, for mental trauma. Horizon smiles.
It's most obvious that her Consort isn't in support of her decision to help Teyla, mistrusting her, worrying for his Queen's safety. His concern isn't entirely misplaced either, him and her can both sense the massive potential Teyla has, and the power she possesses.

Horizon takes his off hand into her, and slowly shakes her head.
'You worry too much.' she speaks into his mind, and sees his expression soften.
'That is what I am supposed to do.' Dusk responds sheepishly.

Gracefully moving through the room, Horizon steps out onto the balcony, letting the moon bathe her in its silver rays.
'You are on edge. I can tell.' she says, feeling Dusk slowly catching up to her, to the railings. 'We will go home soon, my Dusk.'
'It matters not.' Dusk replies. 'I swore to follow you wherever you may lead, and I stand by my vows.'
'It matters to me. You matter to me.' Horizon's hand has caught his again, and she speaks mind to mind, shielded from the rest of the telepathic network.

'We have lived through many eons together, my Queen.' Dusk speaks. 'This pain we face now, we will overcome.'
Horizon closes her eyes, recalling the satellite exploding, the flames that consumed their son's flesh. It pains her, and now with the battle behind her, she knows that she will need Dusk's help to survive her grief.

'So long as we are together.' she confirms, and looks at him, establishing eye contact. Dusk is regarding her idly, but his pupils have fanned wide open, and he lets a sense of affection bleed into their telepathic contact. He blinks slowly, a wordless request, asking permission to touch her, and Horizon lifts her feeding hand, trailing the back of her claw along Dusk's jawline.
Usually, an intimidating gesture, but not between the two of them.

She leaves her claw to rest under his chin, tilting his face up a little.
'Do you desire me tonight, my Dusk?' she asks him, hearing his breath hitch.
'Yes, my Queen.' he responds, and the respectful honorific feels much more intimate than from anyone else.

Effortless, by one finger, she directs him closer, and leans in to kiss him. Tasting her faint musk of his lips, she feels him respond gently, every move just a response to hers. Dusk leaves her in control, and her claw trails across his throat as the kiss progresses, feeling his pulse under the pad of her finger.
When she pulls back, he leaves his eyes closes for a few seconds longer than she does, before glancing at her with utter devotion.

He's went through hell and back during the past few weeks, worrying for her, for the Hive, for their children, especially Spark, for their people. Dusk's mind is a wreck, even though he conceals his turmoils well.
Horizon feels the familiar, warm ache of love for him, and elects that he deserves some respite.

Stepping back, she pulls him with her, back into the room, and quietly leads him to the untouched bed. Guiding him to sit down by his shoulders, she maintains eye contact.

'Surrender, my Dusk.' she sings to him, and sees his eyes flutter shut again. She gives him a light push, and watches with delight as he falls into the sheets with no sign of resistance.

He needs this, needs to give up all control to her. To let go after weeks of desperately clinging to his own composure. And she needs control over him, needs power, needs to see his trust in her.

She entwines her mind with his, moves on top of him, straddling him, while unclasping his coat. Finally, he opens his eyes, and looks up at her, chest rising and falling heavily as he sighs softly. Her hand comes down on his exposed chest, and she very carefully connects to his system, feeling him twitch slightly. She leans down, kisses him, her tongue touching his, exactly when she begins funneling life into his body.

A series of tremors runs through his form, and Horizon plays with him, abandoning his lips to place tiny kisses on his neck and collar bone area, while letting his life dance under her palm, manipulating the very essence of his being. He raises his chin, eyes shut again, and lips slightly parted in silent enjoyment.
His mind is completely calm, like the sea outside in this windless night, Horizon's presence being the only breeze that moves him now.

She makes him straddle the line between pleasure and pain, drawing life, and giving it back, his nerves lighting up like fireworks for her.
Slowing the ebb and flow of energy between them, Horizon detaches from him with utmost care, taking a moment to watch the bloody mark on his chest fade, proof of her touch, and his health. She retreats, and sits beside him.

'Undress.' she commands, and it takes Dusk a moment to regain enough control over himself to actually move. He sits up without a word, discards his open coat, and unbuckles his belt. There's no hint of hesitation or shame, when he shucks his pants down, lifting off the bed slightly to fully rid himself of the the garment, before casting them aside too.

He's fully aroused, yet makes no effort to complain or urge her to hurry, when she reaches out to caress his cheek, with her hand still bloody. Instead, he closes his eyes, and trails his fingers over the back of her hand, a silent request, and Horizon holds her hand still for him.
He cradles it in his, and brings it to his mouth, lightly lapping against her feeding slit, cleaning his blood away.

Horizon allows herself to draw breath sharply, before relaxing again, and keeping herself quiet. The sensations buzz in her arm, and spread down her spine. The enzyme she leaks gives Dusk another excuse to keep going, the tip of his tongue dancing over the sensitive tissue, completely focused on his task.

'Enough.' Horizon stops him, when a pleasant growl begins building in her chest. Dusk looks up, and raises his head, lips damp with enzyme, sweet on his tongue.
Horizon withdraws her hand from his, and moves closer to lick the liquid off his mouth. He complies quietly, with his eyes closed.

'Lie down, and spread your legs.' she continues to instruct him, and he obliges without a second thought. She can sense a hint of excitement in his mind when she kneels between his thighs, and runs both hands down his abdomen.
'Look at me.' she orders him, and sees his glance snap back to her face, making eye contact, and feverishly struggling to hold it, as Horizon's hands wrap around the base of his erection.

A smile ghosts over her lips when she hears him suck in air sharply. She hums softly, and begins applying pressure, gently squeezing in a pulsing rhythm,
He shifts a little, his breath now coming shallow and fast.

'My Queen,...'
His mental voice is barely a whisper, and he cannot contain his emotions any longer, the false tranquility breaks down like a house of cards, and Horizon smiles, basking in the pleasant ache she makes him feel.

'Shh. Don't speak. Just feel.' she scolds him. There will be no effort on his side tonight.

She flares her feeding slit open, and trails it along his shaft, watching him closely, as he reacts to the heat. His teeth dig into his lower lip, and he breaks eye contact, throwing his head back and arching, tensing up to prevent himself from thrusting up into her touch.

Horizon continues this pattern, focusing on her feeding organ sliding against his erection, withdrawing from their mental contact into the position of a mere observer, watching him squirm as she slowly, but surely, takes him apart.
He twitches in her hands, and she sees a muscle on his jaw flex, as he tenses again. His claws dig into the sheets, and she sees two deep lines appear on his forehead, strained and almost pained.
Her feeding slit seals against his glans, and sucks on it.

'Give in.' she tells him, her presence warm and comforting. 'There is no need to perform well tonight.'
He groans from the effort, and his eyes snap open.
'If I give in, I will climax.' he warns her, still tense, struggling.

'I told you to surrender, did I not?' Horizon reminds him. 'You attempt to remain in control.'
He gasps for air, as Horizon wraps her feeding hand around his tip, while her off hand continues to stroke him.

'Give in, my Dusk, my Consort.' she whispers to him. 'My love.'

His body goes through a change. It starts with his hands, the cramped claws slowly uncurling, and laying down unmoving, then his breath leaves him in one long sigh, as he relaxes, surrenders, gives in. a different, less controlled type of tension takes over, making his spine arch beautifully.

Horizon slows her movement gradually, watching him with delight. His semen drips over her fingers, but any concern he may have about that drowns in his orgasm. She completely withdraws from his mind, and the mild control she exerted over him fades, letting his climax unfold on its own.

When his haze clears, Horizon has already found a towel to clean off her hands, and his lap. He sits up, still feeble, and lets his hands run down her sides.

'Horizon,...' he says, electing to address her by name, as opposed to her title.
'Quiet, you.' she shushes him. 'You deserved this. If anyone earned pleasure, it is you.'

He leans closer, and lets his forehead rest against hers, for a moment just basking in the glory of her presence.
Horizon detects many attempts to articulate something. Gratefulness, love, desire to reciprocate, devotion.

'There is no need.' she assures him. 'I merely need you to be here.'
'Always.' he responds. 'Always, my Queen.'

Chapter Text

Chapter 12 – Runner

The Delarians have proven most welcoming to the freed Runners, under Venah's leadership. Despite her youth, the lack of fear, and obvious favor from the Wraith have elevated her to a position of authority.

Sina, the former Runner of Primary Vermillion's Hive, has approached her on the streets. Her arms full of hunting supplies, Venah is taken off guard by her, but Sina does not seem hostile.
She's of similar stature of Venah herself – toned, sinewy, muscles hardened by constant strain, large battle scars breaking up the evenness of her dark complexion, even darker from consistent exposure to the sun.
Sina does look like a warrior, but not because she's a huntress, like Venah. She is the hunted.

Venah swallows heavily. She can still see the wariness in Sina's eyes, senses sharpened by years of fighting for her life, all by herself.

“I need to speak with you.” she says to her, and Venah sharply tilts her head to the side, gesturing for her to follow.
She leads on, the women making their way to the Hive's storage unit, designed to open to the outside by Spark's wishes.
Once Venah steps into the Hive's shade, Sina clears her throat.

“That newcomer.” she begins. “He's causing trouble.”
Storing the supplies in the various boxes and crates, Venah acknowledges her statement.
“Tell me about it.” she encourages.

From the corner of her eye, she sees Sina glance over her shoulder, to ensure that they're not being eavesdropped on.
“He's started fights, vandalized equipment.” she begins. “He wants to lead some sort of rebellion against the Wraith, and when we refused our help, he called us worshippers, then turned on us.”
Venah chews on her lower lip.
“Is he a threat?” she asks.
“Yes. We knocked him out for now, but when he comes to, he will be less than happy about this.” Sina shifts uncomfortably. “I didn't want to ask the Wraith for help. I know, they are trying to make up for... everything, and they did reunite me with my brother, but they are still just that. Wraith.”

There's a bitter taste on her tongue, when Venah nods understandingly.
“You did well, coming to me instead.” she praises, and steps toward the woman, placing a hand on her shoulder. “I'll sort this out. Keep him under guard for now – your people. Not the Wraith.”
“Good call.” Sina agrees. “I will set up a guard detail.”

Venah watches her depart from the room in a light jog, then sighs deeply, and turns to the double door connecting the storage unit to the rest of the landed ship.
Her feet carry her easily through the gloomy halls of the Hive, she navigates almost on autopilot. Too often has she walked this route in the past few weeks, as surreal as it still feels.
She passes a few Wraith on her way, all of which either nod to her in a polite greeting, or ignore her. It's odd. She feels safe among them.

Stopping by the entrance to the throne room, and the Queen's chambers, the Drones step aside as soon as they spot her, leaving Venah to pass through unhindered.

Inside she finds Spark on her throne, hunched over a tablet with a male Wraith, one she's seen at her side quite often. When Venah enters, both look up, and Spark beckons her closer.
“Venah. What is it?” she asks, her strange, inhuman voice carrying a hint of cheer.
“May we speak in private?” she inquires, and cringes away from the look the male shoots her.

“Quickwit, leave us for the moment.” Spark commands him, and he backs away from her, bows, and hurries out of the room.

“One of the recently rescued runners is causing problems.” Venah reports. “He's aggressive, and attacks people, especially those who refuse to … assault your people. He had to be subdued by the others, and I am, quite honestly, not sure what to do.”

Spark's face is unreadable, and she leans forward.
“The others have integrated well?” she asks.
“Yes. They seem to welcome the chance of becoming part of a human society again. But this one, he's likely full of rage and vengeance.” Venah replies.
“Who are we to blame him?” Spark sighs, and shakes her head. “Runners are just about the worst concept my people have come up with. I need to confront him myself.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea? He hates the Wraith.” Venah reminds her.

“Venah, if I send people to be my voice, it'll just reinforce his beliefs that I am some sort of cruel tyrant.” Spark tells her. “I must settle this myself.”
“Let me at least accompany you, then.” Venah compromises, suddenly painfully aware of how close she's stepped to Spark's throne while speaking. She pauses, and steps back cautiously. “Just in case.”

Spark rises from her throne, and undoes her weapons belt. It's unlike a Queen to even wear one in the first place, nor is the leather travel attire fit for her status, but Spark gives it little thought. She does not believe that she should change her entire demeanor overnight, just because she's considered a Queen now.
Leaving her stunner and longblade on her throne, she catches up to Venah.
“Come, then.” she says, and the two women leave the room.

Venah still feels odd, idly walking the streets of her home village at the side of a Wraith Queen, but somehow, Spark never carried that air of dread other Wraith do. She side-eyes her, as they walk in silence.

There's a straight line down her forehead, to where her brow bones meet, but the rest of her face remains neutral. Venah's glance descends, down to her hands, a good indicator for a Wraith's mood, as she's learned over the course of her encounters with them.
She just catches Spark's hand clamping shut, before slowly uncurling her fingers again, the tension causing a light tremble.

For a moment, Venah seriously considers taking her hand, before she shuts it again, but the building in which the former Runner is currently being held is already to close.

“This is it.” she announces to Spark, who nods at her.
Sina, the female Runner, leans against the door with her arms crossed, and shoots Venah an angry glance.

“You brought the Wraith?” she sneers, but Spark speaks up before Venah can respond.
“She did not bring 'The Wraith'. She just brought me.” she says, keeping her voice remarkably calm. “I must speak with him. Let me, please?”

Sina pulls a face, and shakes her head.
“How much do you weigh? Wraith or not, he'll snap you like a twig.”

Venah cringes, and lets her gaze wander over Spark's petite form. It's true. She may have seen Spark as her equal before, due to her superhuman strength and healing ability, but sending her alone into a room with an angry runner twice as wide as her, and at least five times her weight, sends shivers down her spine.

“I will live.” Spark assures her, seemingly unfazed by Sina's warning. “I just want to talk to him.”
“It's your neck.” Sina yields, and steps aside.
There's still a lot of contempt toward her, but Spark holds no grudge. The former Runners have every right to despise her.

She steps inside, and hears Sina lock the door behind her again.
It's a simple barn, with the windows nailed shut, as a makeshift holding cell. Her eyes quickly adjust to the lack of light, and she confidently walks into the room, dirt on the ground crunching under her boots.

When she reaches the center of the room, she senses movement at her flank, and braces, but doesn't indicate that she noticed anything. That way, when the hulking man lunges at her, she can quickly evade.

“Be at ease.” she says. “I am not your enemy. Not anymore.”
She hears him scoff, and he steps into her line of vision.
The man's dressed in worn leathers, and a warrior's fire burns in his eyes. His skin is just a bit lighter than Venah's, and his hair frames his face in thick locks, much like the style that some male Wraith wear theirs in.
He's unarmed, but one look in his face tells Spark that this won't dissuade him from trying to kill her.

“You were imprisoned and harmed by the former Hive of Queen Flamedancer.” she continues to speak, while dodging him. “My Alliance infiltrated them, and stole your tracking data. Then, we hunted you, captured you, sedated you, and took your tracker out.”
Spark makes a quick step backwards and catches his fist with her hand, locking around his wrist and holding it there, inches away from her face.
His upper lip pulls back a little, like a snarling Wraith.

“We did this to all Runners we could track down. It is an operation I started.” she continues, now staring directly into his eyes. “Reparations, for an eternity of misdeeds. I was born into this life, into this world, and I chose to try and make a difference. Do you really want to kill the first adult Wraith who never killed a human before?”

“You're lying.” he accuses her, and she feels his sinews tense under her hand, trying to break free.
“I'm not. And even if I was, what benefit would that give me?” she counters.
“You're a Wraith. You'll think of something.” He pushes against her grip, and slams her against the closed door, pinning her. Spark catches his free hand too.

“Why would I be here, then? Alone, unguarded, unarmed? I'm sure you don't consider my kind stupid, and are aware of our survival instinct. Why would I just come here, and let you beat me?” she asks him, trying to ignore Venah's concerned calls for her.

“Why do you keep Runners? Has no benefit either.” he counters her, and Spark nods.
“You're right.”

“I said, you're right.” she repeats herself. “The practice of keeping Runners is nonsensical and barbaric. The Hive I grew up on never took part in it. We just never had the opportunity to do something about it. Now we do.”

“It's not just that. You destroyed my home world. You took everything from me!”
Spark feels him trying to break her grip again. There's rage in him. And the urge to hurt her, to break her body and make her feel the pain he's endured.

“Countless people have died in this conflict, I know.” Spark responds, consistently keeping her voice calm. “The others told you of the Vaccine, have they not? With this problem gone, there's no need to fight anymore. We, and many other Wraith work for peace. If we don't need to do it for survival, we don't want to hurt you.”

“You've hurt me already.” the man growls.

“I know. And what is done cannot be undone. That's what makes it so awful.” Spark tenses up, and forces him back slowly, walking with him, her hands still holding his wrists. “And while I also know that I may never make up for what Flamedancer's Hive did to you. But I dare to hope that I can prevent tragedies like this in the future.”

She gives him a shove, pushing against his weight to get distance between herself and him, before releasing him.

“These people do not worship us.” she tells him, relaxing a little when she realizes that he's not going in for another attack. “They are our allies. You are free to go wherever you want – the Stargate is near the settlement. But I do ask you not to hurt my friends, as you have before. If you promise not to do that, I'll let you out of this barn.”

“You're letting me go?” he asks, and genuine surprise bends his voice a little.
“As I said, I'm not your enemy.” Spark confirms. Backs off and knocks at the door. “You're free to go, but also free to stay for as long as you like. As long as you keep the peace.”

Sina unlocks and opens the door, warily glancing at both Spark and the man. Spark offers a gentle smile.
“He won't be hurting anyone else.” she assures her, and catches Venah's worried expression in the corner of her eye.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13 – Blossom

“He says, he's fine with staying for now.” Spark explains. Her and Venah are back in the throne room. “Likely just to keep an eye on us, and see if what I told him really is true.”

“That's not a problem, is it?” Venah asks. “Because it is true. And he'll see that, if he gives us a chance.”

Smiling warmly, Spark spins on her heel, and sits down on her throne. It's taken her a while to get used to it, but the more time she spends, reigning in this large, vast room, the more natural it feels for her.
She rests her hand on her knee, and turns the palm up, flexes it a little. Her feeding slit flares open, gentle relief flooding her system.
She's kept it closed during her encounter with the Runner, viciously so, and releasing it feels like unclenching one's jaw after a long time.

Venah seems to misinterpret this.

She steps closer, undoing some of the laces and buttons holding her vest together, tugs on the fabric to expose her collar area to Spark.
“You're hungry, aren't you?” she asks, and Spark looks up from her hand in confusion, before it makes sense to her.

“What-..? Oh, no, that's just-... I'm fine, Venah.” she assures her. “I was just tense.”.
“Tense?” Venah parrots.
“Yes.” Spark confirms, and raises her hand, forcing her feeding slit closed again. “Like this.”

Not bothering to fix her apparel first, Venah reaches out and takes Spark's raised hand into hers.
“My mother kept telling me that if I made funny faces, my face would stay that way.” she tells her. “Maybe it's the same with your hand. If you do that too much, it'll stay that way.”
Spark giggles.
“I doubt that.”

Venah grins, but quickly turns serious again. She turns Spark's hand in hers, and carefully places her index finger on the organ. Spark shivers noticeably, but doesn't make any attempts to stop her, or to pull away.

“You know,” Venah continues, her voice having gained a somber tone. “When this first touched me, I really did think I was going to die.”
Spark digs her off hand's claws into her knee.
“You looked to fearless.” she comments.
“I wasn't. I was scared to death.” Venah says. “But I felt like I needed to protect my people. That's why I volunteered. I never thought that the Wraith I'd be throwing myself at would be one like you.”
“Like me?”

As if it were nothing, Venah sits down on Spark's armrest, her hand still in hers, before she responds.
“You're brave. Kind.” she says. “The more time I spend with you, the more I understand how you must have felt. Why you ran.”

“In the end, I'm just a young woman, trying to do the right thing.” Spark tells her, and dares to lace her fingers with hers. “Just like you.”

“I-...” Venah begins, then shakes her head and starts over. “Listen, I've never done anything like this before, I mean... with a woman. Let alone a Wraith woman.”
Spark simply looks at her, patient, waiting for her to finish that train of thought.

“And I mean, I was trying to deal with this on my own, hiding whatever happened when you fed on me from myself, telling myself I shouldn't indulge in what I started feeling, but...” She pauses, and sighs softly. “I really want to, though.”

Spark tries to contain the smile that threatens to form on her lips, but doesn't have much success. She shifts, and brings her off hand to Venah's cheek, shyly caressing her.
“Maybe you should.” she offers, secretly relieved to no end that Venah didn't flinch away from her touch.
“Maybe I will.” she responds, and leans closer to her.
Spark, now intimidated by her own courage, freezes while Venah comes closer and closer, close enough for their noses to touch.
Venah's eyes are half-closed, peeking at her from underneath her long lashes, and Spark has the mind to raise her chin a little, when she finally goes for the kiss.

Spark's breath halts, when Venah's lips press against hers, and for a moment, she loses her sense of gravity. Venah takes control, effortlessly maneuvering herself closer, until she's on Spark's lap, and gently parts her lips with the tip of her tongue.
Coming alive again, Spark brings her arms around Venah's waist, and presses herself against her. Her eyes snap shut, and she feels her hand in her hair.

Venah's lips taste of fresh fruit, sweet and honeyed, but the taste is quickly disturbed by iron. Venah pulls back, and puts her hand over her mouth, furrowing her brows.

“Oh. Oh no.” Spark mutters, remembering that she has a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. “I'm sorry! I'm-... are you alright?”

Venah puts her hand down, a trickle of crimson on her lips, takes a moment to look at Spark, then... throws her head back and begins laughing.
The sounds is crystal clear, like a bell, and seems to fill the room with sunlight. Spark smiles gleefully, and lets her hands rest on Venah's sides.

“Ah, forgive me, I just-...” Venah has a slight lisp now. “My first kiss with you, and I cut my tongue open on your teeth, I-... This fits my resume.”
“Does it hurt? I can heal it for you.” Spark offers, her concern subsiding quickly.
Venah sticks out her tongue, showing off a long, bloody scratch and shrugs.

“It's not too bad. But I can't talk properly.” she admits, and Spark sits up to kiss her on the nose.
“It's endearing, really.” she assures, and raises her feeding hand into view. “I can heal it away, though.”

“Please do.” Venah accepts, still grinning.
All the tense, serious nature of the situation is gone, and Spark has never felt more comfortable with someone, with Venah's weight on her lap, when she places her hand onto her chest.

Venah closes her eyes, and Spark feels her relax under her palm. A proof of trust, and there's warmth in the young Wraith's heart because of it.
She connects to her system, and finds an even greater warmth within Venah, tangible and solid enough to latch onto.
Spark's eyes flutter shut as well, and she feels the irregularity in Venah's body, the incision on her tongue, and the tendrils of the Gift find the wound, energy dancing through the woman's body, as Spark mends the tiny cut.

A soft noise draws Spark's attention, and she realizes that Venah moaned. Careful not to disturb her system too much, she withdraws, but leaves her hand resting on her chest.

“That was-...” Venah breathes. “-... very nice.”

“It's called 'The Gift of Life'.” Spark explains. “It's the first time I've given it to anyone, actually.”
“You seemed to know exactly what you were doing.” Venah argues. Spark lets her claw trail over her flushed cheeks.
“It's natural. Like breathing.” she admits. “The Lantheans call it 'Reverse Feeding', but it's so much more than that. It's... intimate.”

“Yes. Yes, it... I can't imagine anyone who's ever experienced it calling it that.” Venah takes a deep breath. “Sorry. I'm a bit... I need to regain my composure.”
“That's alright.”Spark quickly assures her, and Venah gets up from her lap.

Just as she's about to follow her, a familiar presence touches her mind.

'My Queen, there is an emergency. You are needed on the bridge.'

Quickwit, her advisor. Spark exhales sharply.
“I'll be back soon. They need me on the bridge.” she lets Venah know.
“Do take your time.”

'What is it?” Spark asks, as soon as she enters the control room.

Quickwit is standing by the communications terminal, along with two other Wraith.
'We have received word from Atlantis. It is best if you read this yourself.' he says, and steps aside, to let her access the console.

Spark hurries to his side, and leans over her display.

“This is Doctor Weir, from the Atlantis expedition. I request that this message is given to Queen Spark directly.

Your mother was accompanying our people on a diplomatic visit to the Planet Hoff. During this visit, the group was ambushed, three marines were killed, and only Dr. McKay made it back to Atlantis. According to his reports, two of our people and your mother were captured alive.
We are doing our best to track them down, but your assistance would be very welcome.”

Spark takes a few steps back.

'When did this message reach us?' she inquires.
'Just now. I notified you as soon as we received it' Quickwit responds.

'Tell Crow and Arch to gear up and be ready within an hour. I want them, and you, by my side when I go to Atlantis. Moon will be in charge of the Hive until we return.' Spark instructs, and Quickwit nods, takes a bow, and leaves hurriedly, to prepare.

Spark takes a deep breath, and does her best not to panic. A moment of crisis, and she is Queen. She needs to be handle this, needs to salvage this mess.
Without missing a beat, she returns to her throne room, finding Venah still there, looking out the large window out into the woods.

“Venah?” she asks, and the woman turns around.
“You look bad.” she comments.
“I feel bad.” she admits. “There is not much time. I will return to Atlantis, there has been an ambush on a diplomatic party on Hoff.”
Venah's eyes go wide, and she nods, letting her continue.

“My mother was part of this delegation. According to Dr. Weir, she's been taken prisoner. I must address this myself.” Spark explains, managing to keep her voice steady. “I left Moon, one of my Warriors, in charge of this ship. But I also need you to be here, and keep things running in my absence. Can I rely on you?”

“Of course-... Spark, are you going to be alright?” Venah asks her, leaning forward to her.
“I will be. I will fix this. I just need to know that this place won't fall apart while I do so.” Spark says.
“Count on me.” Venah promises her. “And... make sure you return unharmed.”

Spark's hands flex.
“I can't promise anything. This is...personal.” she admits. “If I learn where my mother is being held, I will throw myself into the fray.”
“I understand that, I do. I would do the same for my mother.” Venah says, even though Spark can see the disapproval on her face. “Just... try not to die.”

“No promises. But.. I will try.” Spark offers an apologetic smile, before turning away, to gather her things from her quarters.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14 – Common Ground

Weir is already jogging down the stairs to meet Spark and her delegation, as they step out of the Stargate.
“Thank you for responding so quickly.” she greets the Wraith, but Spark has little time for pleasantries.
“Of course. How is the search progressing?”she responds to her greeting, while closing in, flanked by her three escorts.

“The Hoffans are deeply embarrassed by this incident. They do their best to cooperate with us, but we have no leads yet.” Elizabeth confesses. “We believe that the Hoffans had spies among them, but we have no proof for this theory yet.”

Spark nods, and Elizabeth gestures toward the conference room upstairs.
“We can discuss our next steps together, if you want.” she offers, and Spark wordlessly hurries past her, her three escorts in tow. She feels bad for being so curt with Dr. Weir, but the tightly-tied knot of panic in her chest saps away her social energy.

In the conference room, this oppressive fear is briefly broken by a flash of surprise, upon seeing Ford among the assembled. He raises his hand in greeting, and smiles sympathetically.
“Should you be up?” she asks, the first thing she says aloud upon entering.
“I'm okay. Promise.” he assures her. “I'll help with the rescue mission. Got clearance from Dr. Beckett.”

Spark takes the open seat next to Ford, and looks around, while her escorts sit as well. McKay is there, the scientist she's seen before, Delilah and Seeker, the latter likely as a representative from Horizon's Hive.
Weir doesn't sit down, she crosses her arms instead, and stands in the middle of the room.

“You were the only one who got away?” Spark asks in McKay's direction, and he cringes visibly at her.
“Yeah. I did. Barely.” he says, and Spark nods.
“Can you tell me exactly what happened?” she inquires, and everyone's gaze shifts to the man.

“Well,...” McKay begins. “We were supposed to meet the hoffan Chancellor for negotiations with the Queen, but we were stopped by a soldier who told us that we should go to the bunkers first, because there was something we needed to see first, and since he looked completely normal for a hoffan guard, we didn't think much of it.”
Seeker silently shakes his head, causing McKay to pause, and consider calling him out, but he decides against it.

“Anyway, we followed the guy, and I was in the very back because I'm sl-... I was watching everyone's back.” he continues. “And then, as soon as we were out of the more populated areas, these people start jumping at us from alleyways, while this fake soldier takes off running. Colonel Sheppard told me to run back to the Gate and radio for reinforcements, but by the time we got there, they were gone.”

“A setup?” Quickwit asks. “That would align with Dr. Weir's spy theory. Have the Hoffans provided any insight into their records, to determine whether or not this soldier that lead you into the ambush is Hoff-native?”

“The Chancellor assured he'd give us permission to access their databases, but apparently, the order is stuck in administration somewhere.” Weir responds. “I believe, he is deliberately delaying the investigation, maybe out of fear from backlash he might face, if it turns out, he could have prevented this.”

“We can force him to give us access.” Arch, the younger of the two Warriors Spark had taken with her, suggests.
“No.” she shuts him down immediately. “We cannot risk our alliance with Hoff like this.”
“What kind of ally sabotages a rescue mission?” Arch argues. “My Queen, it is your mother's life that these humans trivialize.”
“I'm aware of that.” Spark hisses. “But she would not want me to raze hell on the planet. There must be another way.”

“We could steal the data we need.” Ford suggests. “Send in a party to investigate, and have them sniff around in off-limits areas.”
“And risk more casualties? It is rather clear that Hoff is hostile ground now.” Seeker speaks up. “We cannot be certain that there won't be any more ambushes, small parties are out of the question.”
“Got any counter suggestions, Steve?” Ford asks him, sounding a bit sharper than usual.

“I agree with Arch. The solution to this problem is of military nature.” Seeker flatly responds, not rewarding the taunt with a reaction. Spark shoots him a glance, but he locks her out of his mind with iron determination.

Delilah draws breath to say something, but she's stopped by one of the control room technicians storming into the room.

“Sorry for the disturbance, but... we've got an analogue video signal coming in. I don't recognize the caller, but he's requested to speak with you, Dr. Weir.”

Elizabeth sighs deeply, and nods to her guests, before following the technician out.

On the large screen at the control room's front, is an old man, frail and thin, standing in a dimly lit room.
“An informant, perhaps?” Spark muses, but Seeker shakes his head in response, eyes locked on the man's face in horror.
“No. This is the culprit.” he responds in a hushed voice. Delilah takes his hand.

“Dr. Weir? I know you can hear me. The existence of Atlantis is no secret to the Genii.” the man says, and Elizabeth turns to Seeker brows furrowed.
“You know who that is?” she asks, and Seeker bares his teeth.

“I do. And you know him as well.” he responds. “This is Commander Kolya.”
“Kolya? According my Colonel Sheppard's reports, you killed him!” Elizabeth says, utterly befuddled, and Seeker nods begrudgingly.
“So I thought.” he huffs.

“He survived. I saw him flee through the Gate.” Delilah's voice is barely a whisper. “I had the chance to kill him, but-... oh god, this is all my fault.”
“Dr. Abbot, please. You couldn't have known that he'd-...”

“Dr Weir?” Kolya sounds a lot less patient now, and Elizabeth nods slowly.

“Open a channel, audio only.” she instructs her technicians, and then turns to face the screen again. “I am here.”

“Good. I wanted to make sure that you see this.” Kolya steps aside, revealing Colonel John Sheppard, gagged and bound to a chair, staring defiantly at his captor.
A muscle on Elizabeth's jaw tenses.

“What are your demands?” she asks, not willing to show a single shred of weakness.
“You're getting straight to the point. I like that-” Kolya smiles at the camera, and paces in the room briefly. “When we last encountered, I discovered something deeply disconcerting about the Atlantis expedition. Something that would surely upset the rest of the galaxy, if it went public, something that already deeply shook the Genii.”

“Get to the point.” Elizabeth interrupts his little villainous speech, and Kolya's fake smile fades.

“Very well.” he says. “I want the Wraith you're working with. The Wraith that did this to me. I know you still have contact to him, my informants on Hoff confirmed how closely you work with the Wraith nowadays. Deliver him to me, and I will let your people go.”

Elizabeth looks at Seeker, who looks like he's about to jump at the screen and smash it to pieces.
“You expect me to have access to this particular Wraith? You really believe it is that easy to get in contact with them?” she says, absolutely straight-faced. “The Wraith interact with us on their terms. Even if I wanted to yield to terrorism, I would not be able to.”

“I expected you to respond in this fashion. But I know you're lying.” Kolya says. “The Wraith are with your right now, aren't they?”
“Why would they be?”

He has his coy smile back.
“Why, because I have their Queen in my custody.” he says. “They would not risk her death, by remaining idle, would they?”

Elizabeth pauses, then closes her eyes.
“I will need time to consider your offer.” she says, and Kolya nods.

“Allow me to expedite your decision.” he says, and nods into an off-camera space, which is met with heavy footfalls, and clanking chains.
The control room is quiet, as everyone stares at the figure that's being dragged into the room by two soldiers.
Spark feels her guts twist.

It's a Wraith, in such awful condition that she's genuinely impressed with him for still managing to keep himself on his feet. He looks tattered, poorly groomed, but the sickly pale color of his skin, the deep shadows under his sunken eyes, the barely controllable shaking speak volumes about his physical state.

“Don't do this. Sheppard is a good man, he does not deserve this!” Elizabeth attempts to appeal to Kolya's conscience, as the Wraith is brought into the room's center, next to Sheppard, who can do nothing but stare up at him, while the soldiers unlock the metal glove encasing his feeding hand.

He flexes it, upon being released.

“Let us be real, Doctor, no one deserves this. I should know this better than you.” Kolya says. “You can prevent this.”

Elizabeth's breath hitches, and she briefly glances over her shoulder, to Seeker and Delilah, to Spark and her delegation.
“No.” she then says, her voice breaking as she does.

“No? Perhaps you are doubting my sincerity?” Kolya asks, brows raised, then turns and nods at the soldiers.
They release the Wraith, who immediately takes a step forward, toward Sheppard, and slams his hand on the human's chest.

John cannot scream.
He struggles against his bonds, eyes clenched shut in pain. Red stains appear on his gag, as he digs his teeth into his tongue underneath. Grey creeps into his dark hair, and his skin adopts a grey tint, as he ages, year after year taken from him.

Elizabeth has her hand pressed on her mouth, eyes wide, frozen in shock.

“Stop.” Seeker hisses at the screen. “Stop this, and I will surrender to you.”
Kolya's eyes narrow.
“Enough.” he says, and the soldiers grab the Wraith by his shoulders, and yank him back, prompting a pained outcry from him.

“So, you are there, after all.” he says, and Seeker snarls.
“This is between you and me. No one else. Release your prisoners – all of them.” he demands.
“I'm afraid I can't do that, not even if you surrender your life to me.” Kolya denies.

Seeker lets go of Delilah's hand, and steps past Elizabeth.
“I should have finished you when I had the chance.” he hisses. “Taken off your head, to make sure you don't get back up.”
“You should have. But you didn't.” Kolya responds. “If you somehow found it within your inhuman heart to care for Colonel Sheppard's life, you will turn yourself in. If not... I'm certain Dr. Weir will help convince you.”

Kolya takes a few steps back, and continues speaking, before anyone else can.
“Our research has found that the human body needs at minimum of three hours between feeding sessions, to recover from the trauma. That is how much time I will give you.” he explains. “Three hours.”

The connection cuts, and a shift goes through the room.

“We have to find them.” Spark urges. “Immediately. We need to rescue our people, and this poor Wraith.”
“How would we even begin to do that?” Seeker growls. “We must lure them out. Kolya is after me, so with me as bait-...”

“Not an option.” Delilah interrupts him. “They captured two of Atlantis' best fighters, guarded by an entire squad of marines, along with a Queen. We have no idea what we'd be dealing with if we went with that.”
“I don't see many other options.” Seeker counters.

“I do.” Quickwit interferes. “Has this transmission been recorded?”
“It has, yes.” Dr. Weir confirms.
“Good. Present this footage to the hoffan Chancellor. It proves that his people are infiltrated by Genii spies. He will release the information we require.”

“A much better idea than throwing yourself at their mercy.” she says, and nods. “We have three hours. Let's get to it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 15 – Fire

The agony still lingers in John's bones, when his vision finally clears. He's back in his cell, collapsed on the ground, but he knows that he's not alone.
From the barred window between his cell and the neighboring one, he can hear the Wraith's labored breathing, as he looks down on his prey.

A shiver runs down John's spine. If there's anything he hates, it's being powerless, at his fate's mercy. Rattling at the bars did him no good, neither did resisting the guards. Now, that he's been fed on, weakened from his very core, he has even less of a chance to overpower them.
Drained of life, bit by bit, every few hours, until there's nothing left to drain. What a crappy way to go.

The shaky, almost equally pained voice of the Wraith causes John to sit up.
“You're in pain.” he states, and John snorts humorlessly.
“Well, what do you think that feels like, being fed on?” he snaps at him, and the Wraith angles his head.
“I would not know.” he admits, and John leans at the concrete wall that separates them.

“It hurts like a bitch, that's what it feels like.” he reveals. “I wouldn't even be talking to you if my people hadn't recently decided that your kind ain't that bad anymore.”
“Have they now.” the Wraith responds flatly. He doesn't sound terribly interested in that.

“What, not surprised? Intrigued? Anything?” John prods.
“It hardly matters to me. Or you.” his neighbor points out the uncomfortable truth.
“No. No, that's where you're wrong, you know.” John stubbornly disagrees. “I've got friends. They'll come for me.”

There is no response from the Wraith, and John can't see his face from his current position. A sarcastic huff is the only thing he answers with, then footfalls and clanking chains tell John that he's resumed pacing in his cell.

“You really could be a bit more encouraging. I'll tell them to get you out too, you know.” John persists. “Besides, I'm the one being tortured in this arrangement of Kolya's, so if anyone has the right to be all huffy, it should be me.”

“He is torturing us both.” The Wraith has stopped pacing, but sounds more distant, from which John deduces that he's on the other side of his cell.
“Oh yeah? What's he done to you?” he asks, not managing to banish the bitterness from his voice – mainly due to the pain still being present.

“He stopped me.” the Wraith simply responds.
“And that's comparable?” John crosses his arms defiantly, even though his conversation partner can't see him.
He steps closer to the window again, but freezes.
“They are coming.” he warns, his voice hushed, and just a second later, the guards pass the corner, and come into John's view.

“You couldn't be convinced to rebel against Kolya and not feed on me again, could you?” John asks, only half serious.
“No.” is the completely deadpan response, and he sighs.
“Yeah, didn't think so.” he mutters, as the guards approach. “Just so we're clear, if they remove my gag, I will bite you.”
The Wraith doesn't react to this statement, at least not in any way conceivable for John.

The Marines sent to Hoff, under Ford's lead, are lined up in the control room, before Elizabeth, who is flanked by Spark.

“Chancellor managed to narrow down the list of possible suspects, and gave it to us, upon seeing the footage, Ma'am.” Ford reports in, and hands the two women a wad of paper, the compiled list from Hoff.

“That's... a lot of names to work through.” Elizabeth says, and flips through the papers. “By the time we get done with it, Sheppard will be dead.”
“We do know that they're in Genii custody, and likely on their home planet.” Spark adds. “I could send my people there. They will be able to scan the surface for my mother's subspace transmitter, if it's still active. And if not, I will deploy ground troops to try and locate Wraith presence.”

“If anything, a Hive over the planet might discourage Kolya from going through with his little revenge plot.” Ford agrees, and looks at Elizabeth expectantly.
She sighs, and runs her hand through her hair. Spark notes to herself how much older this makes her look.

“It's the only line of action we can take I suppose. Lt. Ford, I want you to keep investigating on Hoff. Spark – do as you wish.” she eventually says, and looks up with raised brows, when a technician from the control room approaches her. “The next transmission?”

“Yes, Ma'am. Should I establish a channel?”

Weir nods, follows the man, Spark in tow.

“Dr. Weir? As promised.” Kolya greets, his withered visage showing a sense of triumph. “My offer stands.”
“So does my answer.” Elizabeth responds, staring defiantly at the screen.
“Very well.” Kolya steps aside.

This time, there's two chairs with hostages behind him, John Sheppard, bound and gagged, in one, Teyla Emmagan, without a gag, in the other.
Spark inhales sharply, when she recognizes the figure flanking Teyla

It's Queen Horizon, her mother, bloody and bruised, her dress torn and tattered, stained with blood. There are no chains on her, only the guns aimed at her head, the guards holding her in place, and she trembles violently.
“Spark?” she asks aloud, when she hears the faint hiss of Spark's breath, and looks up at the camera.

“I am here.” Spark eagerly responds. “What have they done to you?”
Horizon has no interest in responding.
“Keep my Hive operational. Do not yield to their terms. It will do more harm than good to rescue me.” she orders, and Teyla looks up to her.
“Mother, you cannot ask this of me.” Spark hisses, cursing her inability to speak telepathically via subspace transmission.

“I can. And I will.” Horizon responds, while Kolya nods to his guards, who then release both her and the male at Sheppard's side.
He immediately begins feeding, but Horizon doesn't move a muscle.

“You had to mend many wounds.” Kolya addresses her directly now. “You must be terribly hungry by now.”
She doesn't grace him with a response, just lifts her chin, away from Teyla, who's having her neckline pulled down further.
“We do not play your games.” Teyla says.

There's a brief silence, before Kolya has the male torn away from Sheppard, and turns to the camera again.

“Three hours.” he says, and the connection cuts.
Elizabeth exhales audibly, feeling weak in her knees. Spark's hands shake with anger.

Teyla recognizes a face on her way back to the cells, a young woman, painfully familiar, who grabs her by the hair.
“You think you had some sort of triumph back in that room? How long do you estimate this Wraith can keep her facade up? Hmm?” the girl hisses into her ear, and Teyla swallows hard.
“Sora.” she gasps, and the girl's grip tightens.

“My father died to the Wraith. I think it's just fair that you die the same way.”
Sora gives her a shove, and performs a quick, bossy gesture to her fellow guards. They continue down the hallway, further down than Teyla recalls her cell being, turn around the corner, and unlock a different cell.

The young woman personally drags Teyla forward, and gives her another rough shove, causing her to stumble into the small room. The door slams shut, and Sora turns the key.
“Have fun.” she taunts, and turns to leave.

With her heart hammering in her chest, Teyla looks over her shoulder, and moves to face her cellmate.

It's Horizon, sitting cross-legged on the ground, some of her cuts and scrapes still bleeding. Teyla opens her mouth to speak, but Horizon's sudden intrusion into her mind cuts her off.

'No. They can hear you. You have the advantage of this mode of communication. Utilize it.' she demands, and Teyla nods, bracing to connect to her mind.

'What are you going to do now?' she asks her, and Horizon's eyes open, flickering up to hers.
'I will not feed on you, if that is what you worry about.' she assures her. 'As you stated earlier: I do not play Kolya's games.'

Teyla confidently takes a step forward, and sinks down to sit on the ground, opposite from her.
'You are wounded.' she states.
'Yes. And I burn with hunger.' Horizon admits. 'But my pride is stronger than any instinct.'
'You must understand that I cannot rely on that alone.' Teyla says, and Horizon's lips curl into a smile.

'Teyla,' she says. 'I am a Queen, not an animal. It takes more than this to break my will.'

There's an odd sense of warmth in Teyla's chest, respect in a way, even affection for this creature.
'You will die.' she reminds her gently, but she can't sense any fear from Horizon.
'Maybe. We may also be rescued by my people or yours before that happens. Either way, I am not aiding our captor's case by hurting you.' Horizon feels entirely calm, speaking about her own possible death.

'Are you in pain?' Teyla inquires, and Horizon offers her hands to her, the feeding slit held tightly shut.
A proof of trust and goodwill, Teyla thinks, when she reaches out and places her hands in hers. The organ is entirely unmoving against her palm feeling more like a scar than a feeding mouth.

She lets Horizon into her head, and immediately feels a searing pain, fire without heat, burning through her veins. Her muscles twitch and convulse, cramps shaking her body, as the flames ravage her core, her nerves frayed and open, like a cleaving wound.
Teyla knows hunger, the dull ache of a stomach gnawing at itself, but this doesn't compare in the slightest.
It'd as if her entire body withers away, consumed by this unseen inferno in every fiber of her being.

The feeling subsides as quickly as it has it her, and Teyla finds herself hunched over, panting and sweating, as if awakening from a feverish nightmare.

'How do you bear this?!' she asks, not sure if she's still in Horizon's preferred mode of communication.
'I have starved before.' Horizon responds, dissonantly calm to the wildfire in her body. 'I admit that it takes willpower to resist, but it is not new to me.'

Teyla straightens herself, still reeling from the shared anguish, and slowly shakes her head.
'I did not know.' she admits, and spies a forgiving smile on Horizon's paling face.

'You did ask. And now you know.'

'Are you certain you can endure this, until you die or we get rescued?' Teyla asks, but Horizon sends a wave of amusement her way.
'We are not alone, Teyla.' she says. 'My senses are dulled through my hunger, but now that I know that there it another Wraith, I can speak to him. Rescue is the most likely scenario, but that does not mean that we cannot combat our fate personally.'

'What are you saying?' Teyla asks. 'This Wraith looked almost feral, and he did not hesitate to feed on Colonel Sheppard.'
'Do not despise him for that, Teyla.” Horizon urges. 'He is constantly on the brink of starvation. Not even what I showed you compares to the agony he is in. I saw the look in his eyes when he encountered us. The seed of hope, settling in his heart.'

'Because you are a Queen?' Teyla asks.
'Because I am strong. He saw my defiance. And he saw my pride. Once I connect to his mind, I will begin devising an escape plan. Until then, rest assured...'

Horizon raises her hand, leans forward, and places it on Teyla's chest, holding steady eye contact. There is no movement under her palm, no pain, no breaking of skin.
Teyla breathes heavily, sensing nothing but iron determination from Horizon.

'...You are in no danger.'

Chapter Text

Chapter 16 – Sacrifice

It's much worse now.
John finds himself on the ground, breath coming shallow over his lips, and he can hear the rattle his throat produces.
Like a dying old man.

Part of him is grateful for the lack of reflective surfaces in his cell; he would not want to watch his own deterioration in real time.

His neighbor doesn't appear to be in better shape than him. John can hear him breathe, heavy and labored, just like him.

“You're awfully quiet.” he accuses, feeling uncomfortable sitting in silence with the usually so talkative Wraith.
“For you, perhaps.” is his response, and John swears he heard a smirk in his voice.

Of course, he thinks to himself.
“You're chatting with Horizon, aren't you? I noticed the way you looked at her earlier.” he guesses, and hears chains clank, as the Wraith gets up from the ground, to look down to him through the window.
“You know a Queen's name?” he inquires, and John congratulates himself on surprising a Wraith.

“Yeah. We go way back, her and I.” he boasts. There's a moment of silence, in which he suspects the Wraith confirming his claims, before he hums in agreement.

“Hey, now that you've got the opportunity to talk to her, maybe we could like, organize? We're all in this together, aren't we?” John pushes his luck by suggesting. “And if you can find Teyla, the human woman that was with us, she's-...”

“She is with Horizon. They share a cell.” the Wraith interrupts him.
“Great. Fantastic.” John sighs, and tries to imagine the levels of panic he'd be in if that wall wasn't between him and his apparent new friend. “Can you ask her how high the chances of Spark finding her are?”

“She says, her subspace transmitter has limited activity, due to Genii interference.” he forwards Horizon's response. “If her daughter's Hive were in the vicinity, it could pick up her signal, but not from a distance.”

“Crap.” John flatly comments, and re-evaluates his options. He's a mess, physically, fighting is probably not a good idea for him. His buddy doesn't look to be in good shape either. Teyla hasn't been fed on before, but Horizon...

“Can you ask her how bad her wounds are? Can she fight?” he requests.
“She has mended the life-threatening injuries she'd suffered already. There's still lacerations, inner bleedings, and three broken ribs. If she feeds, she will be able to fight. But right now, that is out of the question.” the Wraith responds. His voice cracks when he mentions feeding. He tries to overplay it, but John still picks up on it.

“Y'think, they'll bring Horizon and Teyla for the next transmission?” he quickly asks, to distract him from that potential train of thought.

“Unlikely. Kolya does not like being defied, especially not during a show of power for his enemies. He will let them perish together in their cell.” the Wraith responds bitterly.

“Crap.” John repeats himself.

Teyla shivers heavily, and narrowly prevents herself from performing a defensive strike, when Horizon reaches for her hand.
'It is fine. Let him in.' she asks of her, and Teyla realizes that this sudden, additional presence in her mind is a harmless attempt to communicate.

Her fingers lock with Horizon's, and she closes her eyes, before carefully coming forth from behind her defenses.

The presence greets her wordlessly, and Teyla can't help but be impressed by how calm and collected it feels, considering that she'd seen its owner as feral before.
'I mean no harm.' the male assures her, noticing how Teyla is subconsciously inching closer to Horizon's beacon of light within her mind.

'I know.' she forces herself to respond, trying to keep herself together.
'Your friend Sheppard is attempting to come up with an escape plan. So far, he has not come to any conclusions.' the male tells her. 'I believe he intends to fight his way out.'

'He is in no condition to fight!' Teyla protests.
'Neither am I. Nor is Queen Horizon.' the male agrees with her. 'The only one in reasonably agreeable condition is you.'

Teyla's glance shifts to Horizon, who is leaning against the wall. She has her eyes closed, her form entirely unmoving, but Teyla knows that she's wide awake.
'Teyla cannot take on this facility by herself.' she interferes.

'She can, with your help.' the male says, and Horizon's eyes snap open, seemingly sensing something in the contact that Teyla doesn't pick up on.
'Absolutely not.' she protests, and Teyla feels the male sheepishly retreat from her, just a bit.

'There are plenty of guards around. If you have the strength to break from your cell, you can both go free, and then come for us.' he explains himself. 'I understand the nature of your alliance, but it may very well be the only chance you have.'

“Horizon. What is he implying?” Teyla whispers, electing to speak out loud, to prevent the male from overhearing her. Secluding herself in a mental network isn't something she'd consider herself well trained in yet.
“Do not give it any heed.” Horizon avoids the question, her verbal voice thin and shaky, a sharp contrast to the smooth, powerful nature of her mind.

“Tell me.” Teyla demands, leaning further toward her, establishing eye contact.
Horizon grits her teeth, and turns her face away.

“If you must know, he is suggesting I feed on you, break out of the cell, feed on a guard, and restore you.” she admits, a faint hiss underlining her aversion to this plan.

Teyla touches the exposed part of her collar, and tugs on the fabric. The expression of agony on John's face, the life being ripped from his body. Horror grips her tight, and she withdraws from her contact to the two Wraith, not failing to notice the concerned glance Horizon regards her with.

Being fed on by a Wraith is the uncontested worst way to die for a human, that much she knows. There may be a level of trust between her and Horizon, but enough trust to literally put her life in a Wraith Queen's hand? Her, Teyla, daughter of Torren?

“Teyla.” Horizon attempts to draw her attention, but she just shakes her head.

The image of John withering away has burnt itself into her retinas.
She would not wish this fate upon her worst enemy, let alone a friend and companion.

“How much time has passed since the last transmission?” she asks, turning to look at Horizon again.
“I estimate, we have about an hour left.” she replies, angling her head curiously. “Teyla, speak to me.”

That request holds much more than conversation, and Teyla relents to Horizons attempts to reestablish their connection. When she does, she's relieved to find the male's spot in their conversation vacant.

'Do it.' Teyla says, scraping together all her courage and compassion for John. 'He is right. It is our only chance.'
There's silence for a while, and Horizon's snake eyes scan her face for doubt, but Teyla's resolve has always been iron.
'You do not have to do this.' she eventually tells her. 'I do not wish to bring harm upon you.'

'I trust you.' Teyla says, and Horizon's upper lip withdraws in a snarl that never leaves her throat.
'No. You do not. You consider this a sacrifice for Colonel Sheppard.' she accuses.
'So what if I do? The end result will be the same: We will survive this. I do not want to do this, Horizon, but you also do not want to starve, do you? Yet you do it either way.'

That argument appears to hit Horizon right where it hurts. She snarls aloud, and her feeding hand clamps shut, so hard that her knuckles turn white.

'I keep my promises, Teyla.' she says. 'I promised not to feed on you.'
'You did. And I am alleviating you of this promise. It does not matter why I am doing this. It will save us all.' Teyla counters, and forces herself to close in.

'You have made your decision, then.' Horizon hums, a lot less defiant, and looks up at her again.
'I have. I may not trust you, but I can try to.' Teyla attempts a smile, swallowing the fear building within.

Horizon's hand twitches, and she raises her chin.
'We will remain in contact the entire time.' she demands. 'I will only take what I need, but if you ask me to stop before that, I will.'
'Very well.' Teyla says.
'Come closer.' Horizon asks, and reaches out to her with her off hand. 'Unvaccinated feeding is a massive strain on the human body. You may lose consciousness, and I must be able to support your weight, if you do.'

'Not a word of this to John.' Teyla says, before obeying, coming closer, trying not to flinch, as Horizon puts her left arm around her waist, her hand flat on her back, to break her fall, should she collapse.

'I would appreciate this not leaving the confines of this cell.' she tells her, and raises her hand, the feeding mouth flaring open. Teyla feels a flash of panic, but forces herself to stay still.

'Do it, before I lose heart.' she asks of Horizon, and the Queen closes her eyes, slowly bringing her hand down upon her, carefully placing it under Teyla's neck, as if she tried to avoid hurting her more than necessary.

The agony is heralded by a small sting, and then the fire has Teyla back in its clutches. It runs through her veins, makes her see stars, but this time, it's worse.
It's not just a projection through her mind, no, she can actively feel it damaging her, her body shriveling up, dry and spent.
Her eyes are watering, when she looks up to Horizon, the leech that drains her. The wounds are closing rapidly, her healthy shine returns to her skin, the dark shadows under her eyes fade away. She flourishes.

'Teyla.' she hears Horizon's voice. 'Speak to me. Are you still with me?'
The pain is too much, too overwhelming for Teyla to for coherent sentences in her mind.

“It... hurts...” she presses forth, barely noticing how Horizon pulls her into her arms, when the pain subsides. The room spins, and Teyla's vision has dark edges.
'You did well.' Horizon comforts her, discreetly withdrawing her blood hand. 'You are alive, and you will recover. And very soon, I will return what you lent me.'

Teyla feels her position change, as Horizon carefully lays her down on her back.

Loud noises echo through her head, making her parched form shiver. She turns her head, trying to see what Horizon is doing, but she can only make out blurry splotches of color.
The door collides with the wall, likely kicked down by the raw strength of a freshly fed Wraith, and Teyla hears footsteps moving away from her.

Horizon remains in her mind still, not leaving her alone in this state.

'I will earn your trust, Teyla.' she promises, before the darkness falls, and Teyla loses consciousness.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17 – Liberation

Teyla's consciousness returns slowly, gradually, like ascending to the light from the dark depths of the ocean. There's warmth in her body, spreading from her chest through her veins, into every part of her. The dull ache lessens, and the painful, cramped tension she's found herself in begins to loosen.

Her vision clears up bit by bit, and she recognizes Horizon's face, as she looms over her like a vulture. It takes a moment for feeling to return to her skin, to register that the Wraith is touching her, connecting to her.
A wave of energy washes over her, and Teyla feels her heartbeat speed up. Enzyme and life.
There's a growing tightness in her abdomen, a pleasant heat, and she holds her breath.

“Stop,” she manages to say aloud, and Horizon obediently lets the flow of life die down, then unlatches her feeding hand from Teyla's chest.
She feels light headed, almost uncannily euphoric when she sits up, and the rooms spins briefly before her eyes.

'It will not take long for them to detect our prison break.' Horizon informs her, her mental voice feeling clearer and stronger than before. 'We must be on our way. Can you stand?'

Teyla nods silently, and scrambles to her feet. She has to hold on to Horizon's shoulder, but she stabilizes quickly.
'Do you know where the other cells are?' she then asks, relieved to have found the strength to respond to Horizon's contact.
'No. But I can sense the male's presence, so I will head into his general direction.' Horizon says, and regards Teyla vigilantly, as if she was expecting her to topple over at any given moment.
'I am fine.' Teyla assures her in response to that, and Horizon tilts her head a little.

'I brought you to the brink of death, and pulled you back into the light. Your system is still reeling.' she explains. 'You are strong, Teyla, but you are human. Your body will need time to recover from this, regardless of being restored fully.'

'You said yourself that we do not have much time.' Teyla counters, and confidently strides toward the open cell door, footfalls behind her confirming that Horizon follows along.

It's gotta be getting close to three hours now.
John carefully prods the bloody wound on his chest, hissing in pain when he hits open flesh. Did it work? Is Teyla still alive? He's entirely cut off, and his neighbor is unhelpfully quiet.
He cusses crudely, noticing the uncontrollable tremble that's moving his left leg, probably yet another uncomfortable consequence of being drained of life.

Raising his hands before his face, he sees them shake in similar tremors.
There's no way he'd be able to fight. Weakness sits deeply in his bones, frustrating him more than the cell that holds him.

“Hey. Wraith. Do you mind updating me on the situation at all? Unlike you, I don't have an instant messaging system in my head.” he complains, more hostile than usual.
The first response he hears his a deep, exasperated sigh.
“You will see soon enough.” the Wraith says, sounding almost bored.
“Look, these two are kinda my friends, okay? I'd love to know if they're both still alive, at the very least, so...”

“They are.” he cuts John off. “Both of them. And they are heading our way. I am trying to direct them through these labyrinthine hallways, so I apologize for my silence. This requires an amount of concentration, even more so because I am starving, in case you forgot.”

“Well excuse me.” John huffs bitterly, but backs down. At least he's actively working on their escape plan.
John isn't too happy about the idea they eventually settled on, especially since he knows far too well how much it hurts to be fed on, but he didn't have much of a say in the matter. Teyla's strong, stronger than him. That's what he's told himself up until now, to calm himself down.

Faint footfalls in the distance send a jolt of adrenaline through his aged body.
“Is that them? Or the guards?” he asks, breaking his self-given vow of silence, and the Wraith's chains rattle as he moves.
“The former.” he responds, and John dares to suspect a hint of relief in the inhuman voice.

He leans forward, to look through the bars, and soon enough, he indeed sees two familiar faces. There's blood in Horizon's usually so well-groomed hair, her own and that of likely several humans, Her dress is torn and stained, making her lack the usual dignity she radiates, but her gaze is iron, as usual.
John exhales shakily. He hasn't personally spoken to her, since their first meeting.

Teyla looks good. Her skin has a new, youthful glow, and the flames of bravery in her eyes as she approaches. There's a half-healed feeding mark on her chest, but she doesn't seem to mind it too much. She spins something in her hand, and upon closer inspection, John realizes that it's a set of keys.

When she sees John's miserable condition, she falls into a light jog, reaches his cell, and hurriedly unlocks it. She drops the keys, and kneels down beside him.

“Horizon! Restore him!” she calls out, and the Queen freezes in her tracks, then enters the cell and picks up the keys.
“Forgive me.” she says. “But that is not my gesture to perform.”
“What-...” Teyla begins, but Horizon leaves the cell quickly. Metallic clanking tells John that she's freeing the male.

Fear rises in his chest. He's starving, and the only thing keeping him from draining John dry is the fact that he's chained and locked up.
Full of anxiety, he glances past Teyla, and recognizes the faltering, limping gait of the male, as he walks away with Horizon.

“What? Where are they going?” he asks, as the two Wraith turn a corner and disappear from sight.
“It will be fine.” Teyla assures him breathlessly. “We knocked a guard unconscious on our way here, and hid him away. She's taking him to feed.”
“And you're okay with that?” John presses. Teyla averts her gaze.
“No. Horizon has killed several people in order to free us, but...” She exhales audibly. “It is either them or us.”

John pulls a face, and lets Teyla help him up. She steadies him, and guides him out of the cell, into the direction the Wraith had went.
Each joint in his body aches, now that he's moving around again.

“I'm gonna die, Teyla.” he whispers.
“No. You will not.” Her voice leaves no room for argument.

Soon, they catch up to the Wraith, who had already begun heading back in their direction. The male looks significantly better, and John shivers at the thought of why that is.

“Horizon.” Teyla pleads. “He can hardly walk.”
The two exchange a glance, and likely a few telepathic words, before Horizon lightly taps the male on his wrist.
“He will slow us down on our escape. We may not have time now, but the alternative puts us at moe risk.” she says aloud, and John's confusion turns to panic, when the male nods, and closes in, feeding hand flexing by his side.

Teyla shoots Horizon an alarmed glance, but she just nods, which appears to calm Teyla's concern for some reason.
Before John an protest, the male has his hand on his chest again, the lock of the Enzyme paralyzing him. Not that he'd have been able to fight back either way.

There's no pain.
Instead, the weakness fades from his bones, new strength filling him from the very core.
Puzzled, he looks up to the male, who has his eyes closed in concentration. Teyla's let go of him now, and the Wraith holds him steady by his shoulder.

John's vision blurs, and a sensation as if he was falling grabs ahold of him. His knees sag, and the Wraith sinks down to the ground with him.

“Hurry. They are coming for us.” Teyla's voice sounds far away, and weirdly distorted. It feels like a drug trip.
The flow of life instantly cuts off as the Wraith pulls his hand back and leaves it hovering over John's chest. A strangled yelp escapes him, the sudden stop nearly causing pain, and he struggles to get back on his feet.

As he manages, while the Wraith rejoins Horizon and Teyla, John feels and uncomfortable tightness in his lower body, a very familiar sensation of his pants suddenly seeming a few sizes too small for him-...

“Oh, what the fuck.” he mutters to himself. Inappropriate. Not now. Why this.
Still in enemy territory, he reminds himself, and appeals to his soldier's discipline, straightens his posture, and adjusts his clothing to hide his sorry state, before hurrying to catch up to the group.

Teyla gives him a look, and John prays she didn't notice the effect the Gift of Life had on him. That'll be something he's going to drown in alcohol later.

“There is a secret access point through the storage units, ending in a well on the surface.” the male explains. “I suggest we leave through this exit. It is the least likely to be guarded.”

“Lead on.” Horizon agrees.

“Dr. Weir!”

Spark's multi-layered voice tears Elizabeth from her thoughts.
“Spark, yes.” she reacts, as the young Queen jogs toward her.
“Whatever investigation is in process right now, cancel it!” she demands. “My mother's Hive has just begun picking up her signal again. We know where she is.”

“What? Why?” is the first thing Elizabeth can think of responding.
“I don't know. Whatever was blocking it must be gone now, but it hardly matters. I've already dispatched all available forces to that location, and I suggest you do the same.”

“I will-...” Elizabeth begins, but is interrupted by the sound of the Stargate dialing.
“Another transmission?” she muses, and exits her office to join the technicians in the control room, followed by Spark.

“We've got an unscheduled Gate activation, Ma'am.” one of the technicians informs her, then looks over his shoulder with one eyebrow raised. “It's... Col. Sheppard's IDC.”
“Well, let him in!” Elizabeth commands, and the man obeys.

She's well on her way down the stairs when Spark holds her back by the shoulder. She cringes, when the Wraith touches her, but an explanation for that comes soon.

A bullet shoots out of the Gate and hits a wall, followed by a few more, only narrowly missing personnel.
Then, two people fall out of the Gate, Horizon and Teyla, the former shielding the latter with her body.

“We need medical aid!” Horizon calls out as soon as she catches herself, and drags Teyla off to the side, to prevent her from getting shot. There's a bloody bullet wound on Teyla's thigh.

“Don't put anyone at risk!” Spark counters, and speeds down the stairs, sliding the final few steps toward the pair. “I can heal her, I-...”
“No.” Teyla protests through gritted teeth. “I will be fine. Save your power for the others.”

Bullets are whirring past John's ear, as he hides behind a fortunately large rock, crouches beside the male.
He curses himself for not stopping to retrieve his weapons and equipment before leaving the facility; of course Kolya wouldn't let them escape that easily.

“There's no way in hell we can make it through before being fuckin' perforated by gunfire.” he exclaims. So close to salvation, he's almost ready to resign himself to his fate again.

“No. Not like this.” the male agrees, and John gets goosebumps from the intense glare he recieves from him.
“What?” he asks brashly, and the Wraith seems to hesitate.

“They will concentrate their fire on me as soon as they see me.” he says and John raises his brows.
“What, you're suggesting self-sacrifice?” he almost mocks that idea, but the Wraith remains serious.
“I did not say I would let them hit me, did I?” he counters, responding to John's confused look with a playful smirk.

Then, he shoots to his feet, and all hell breaks loose.

“Go!” he calls out, and John, with an odd feeling of guilt in his chest, makes a beeline for the Stargate.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18 – Blood on my Hands

Weeks have passed.
Both John and Teyla are very grateful for Horizon and Spark's quick departure, relieved to have the base Wraith-free for a once.
Physically, John feels great. Whatever the male Wraith had done to him in Kolya's prison seemed to have revitalized him so much, he feels ten years younger.

The male Wraith...
John is actually certain that he's dead. Normally, he wouldn't care much about a Wraith's life, even with this alliance going on, but the circumstances of that one's death...
He shakes his head, and pushes his tablet further into the table.

The mess hall is nearly empty, that's how long John's been brooding over his lunch. Leaning back in his seat, he crosses his arms.
Fuckin' mess.


He flinches, and looks over his shoulder, to see Teyla approaching him carefully. She has no food with her, so he suspects she's been looking for him. Come to think of it, he hasn't really spoken to her about what happened to them either.

“May I?” she asks him, and gestures to the open seat on the opposite side of the table. John nods, and makes an attempt at a casual smile. Obviously, Teyla sees right through that.
“How have you been?” Her voice is so gentle, as if she was speaking to a terminally ill person. John pulls a face.

“Eh.” he grunts and shrugs at her. She nods understandingly.
“I know.” she says and bats her eyes briefly. “This... incident. We were victimized together with the Wraith. I have been thinking a lot since we returned.”
“Have you?” John responds.

Teyla raises her chin.
“Horizon refused to feed on me.” she reveals. “I convinced her to, in order to make our escape possible.”
“That's new.” John comments.
“Yes. I expected it to be the other way around, at best.” Teyla admits. “I just-... I feel like the change we are experiencing is finally reaching me. Don't you?”

John runs his hand through his hair.
Yes, she's right. This isn't how he's used to Wraith behaving. And the male that gave him the chance to flee through the Gate?
He's not supposed to feel guilty about that. But he does.

“D'you think he's alive?” he eventually asks, and Teyla raises her brows. “You know. The other one.”
“Well,...” Teyla folds her hands on the table. “Wraith are hardy, especially when freshly fed.”
John snorts joylessly. “Look at you. Trying to comfort me over a Wraith's potential death.”

Spark steps out of her shuttle, flanked by Arch, the Warrior, and Venah. There's a risk in what they're doing, following a Wraith signal on a sparsely populated planet. It could be a trap, Horizon had said. Spark's aware, she is, but it just feels too much like a distress signal to ignore.

“It sent on the same frequency as Queen Horizon's subspace transmitter.” she informs her two companions, speaking aloud for Venah's sake. “But that does not mean it's friendly. Be on your guard.”

The woods are thick and overgrown, cicadas crying in the distance. Arch cuts down foliage from their path, leaving Spark the opportunity to focus on sending out her mental feelers, instead of watching her step.
There's a presence foreign and old, making her flinch away from it, when it responds to her call.

“The signal is getting closer.” Venah notes, holding out the Wraith device she carries to track it. “Up north, this way.”
She moves past Arch, and begins descending down a path deeper into the green, toward a cave system.

The foliage begins making way for organic wires on the ground, shattered remains of what Spark can only assume to be an old, pre-war laboratory. Cave openings show the interior of research stations, withered and worn with time.

'It took you quite a while to find me.'

Spark spins on her heel, Arch raises his sword, and Venah grabs an arrow from her quiver.
With narrowing pupils, Spark recognizes the stranger.

It's the male from the Genii prison, the one that never made it through the Stargate. He looks bad, dried blood and bullet holes defiling his dusty coat. As unkempt as he looks, he doesn't seem starving or injured, however.
He inclines his head downward, a sign of respect to her, a Queen, however young she may be.

“You are alive?” Spark asks him.
“Yes.” he responds. “Alive and free. I took the liberty to send on Queen Horizon's frequency to attract attention from your alliance. Stranded as I am.”

“How did you get out of this? Sheppard told us you were most certainly dead.” Venah chimes in, and the male gives a crooked smile as reaction.
“I did tell him that I would not let them hit me.” He looks down on himself and adds: “At least not enough to kill me.”

“It is a good thing that you called out to us.” Spark then says. “I don't assume that you have a Hive to return to, and my own is badly undercrewed. If you managed to construct a working long-range transmitter out of these ruins, you must have some impressive skill.”

“I do. But I did not call out to you for my own benefit, although I will accept your generous offer.” he says. “During my time as Kolya's prisoner, had access to some worrying information. I used my newly found freedom to confirm this intel.”

He takes a step closer, and his polite facade fades into intense seriousness.
“I was not the only Wraith in Kolya's custody. He experiments on our kin, and his capture of your mother was just the beginning of something terrible.”

“I'll be back soon.” Carson assures her, packing up his equipment. Him and Delilah are on Delar, to help treat a recent outbreak of influenza.
Unfortunately, Carson didn't bring nearly enough doses of medication for all the cases he's been greeted with here.

He exits his makeshift infirmary through a tent flap, and makes his way toward the Stargate. It's a beautiful, sunny day in delarian spring. Nature is blooming around him and birds sing along his way.
Delar is, according to atlantean botanists, home to many extinct earth plants, many of which can be used to create effective drugs and treatments.

Just about everything about Delilah's formula and the resulting alliance with the Wraith has turned out to be an absolute blessing, Carson thinks to himself.

He steps out into the clearing that houses the Gate, and approaches the DHD. He's made this trek so often in the past few days, it feels menial. Recalling his initial aversion against Gate travel, Carson smiles idly, as he punches in the address.

Just seconds before confirming it, the Gate starts dialing. Furrowing his brows, Carson considers a malfunction, hands hovering helplessly over the DHD, as the wormhole is established.

He feels his blood freeze in his veins when he recognizes the old man that steps out of the Event Horizon.
“Oh dear.” he can just whisper, finding several weapons pointed at him, and raises his hands.
Carson is unarmed, and even if he weren't, he couldn't do much against trained soldiers by himself.

“Hello, Doctor Beckett.” says Acastus Kolya.

“I should have never let him go.”
Delilah paces restlessly in her quarters, Seeker following her with his gaze.
“You could not have known about this ambush.” he counters, and she stops in her tracks.

“That's not what I mean.” she says. “I let Kolya go. I could have shot him and prevent all of this, but I didn't. I didn't, and now look at this mess. How many more people are going to get hurt because of this?”

“You aren't used to killing, as I am.” Seeker attempts to console him. “Peace and desire for harmony is a cornerstone of your personality, Delilah. Not killing a man should not be something you feel guilty for.”

“Carson is gone. Hell knows where he is, or if he's even still alive.” Delilah sits down beside him. “Say what you will about me, but if something happens to him...”

She pauses and breathes heavily.

“I could have killed Kolya. Everything he did to us, everything he's about to do to Carson-...”
“Delilah, please.” Seeker pleads with her, but she shakes her head.

“Pacifism isn't always a good thing, okay?” she argues. “I should have killed him. He's hurting people now, killing people he wouldn't have been able to touch, had I pulled the trigger.”

Delilah's hands ball to fists.
“Their blood is on my hands.”