Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A.N: This is not an Atlantis-team centered fic, but they will make an appearance in later chapters.
A.N#2: Edited 6.15.14. Had to clean this old relic up.
The five year old girl ran out of her father's tent and towards the coarse beach at the bend in the small river. She splashed into it and gasped at the cold water. At the hour there were no other children, but the girl didn't mind. She'd grown up by the river her entire young life, and could entertain herself fine. Her father often remarked she was half-fish. Without a reservation more, completely submerged. She stood up spluttering and wiped water from her eyes. Then, with strong strokes, made it to the other side of the river. It was more of a stream, really, and it took several back-and-forth passages before the young child decided she had had enough.
She waded out of the water, skin flushed pink from the chill, and began to walk amongst the rocks, searching for the most interesting stones to fetch her father. She amused herself with the rocks as the warm sun dried out her fair hair and smoothed her goosebumps. She didn't know how long she remained. She had no notion of the time, only realizing she should return after her stomach made a twinge of hunger. The girl made her way up the bank and was almost to her lean-to when suddenly the Ring activated. Off-hand curiosity flickered a bit in her, but it quelled easily. They were probably just some traders. She continued on, sure feet picking their way along the dirt path.
She had just arrived to her camp when a high whine registered in her ears. She thought it was just a mosquito at first but looked up when a dark, needle-pointed shape fly by. She looked about in confusion as her calm world suddenly morphed into a screaming, shouting one. The girl was filled with more perplexity than fear as ship after ship appeared through the Ring, their unearthly whine harsh and raucous.
"Quickly, child! Inside!" It was her father, suddenly appearing from within the lean-to. Without waiting another word from the girl he grabbed her and forced her in. Now fear flooded in the child as well as apprehension. What could make her father, the stout-hearted man who had faced the squealing boar during the midsummer hunt so fearlessly, so afraid? A sheen of sweat could be seen on the man's face as he kneeled in front of her, his hands tight and shaking on her small shoulders. The sounds of screaming and crying resounded outside the flimsy shelter walls. The noise of the flying crafts shrieked their presence.
"Listen to me, child—there is little time. Stay here and do not, under any circumstance, move. Understand, little one? Don't leave the hearth no matter what."
"What's happening, Father?" the child said, staring up at her father's wild eyes. She began tearing.
"Stay here," he said, bending his head forward to touch his forehead with her tiny one. She could feel him trembling. "I will return for you—I promise."
And with that, he rushed out of the tent, leaving the stunned child. She stared uncomprehendingly at the way her father had left. Shaken, but still not quite understanding the cause of all the fear, the girl crouched underneath a root-rack. The noises of peoples' screams were lesser now; fewer and fewer people cried out with fear and panic. Even the buzzing of the ships were less and less, as if they were returning back through the Ring. After what seemed to be longest eternity, the screaming stopped, as if there was no one there to voice their terror. Even the buzzing had ceased, though the faint gurgling of the Ring indicated that it was still open. Just as the girl was beginning to unfold herself from the small space, low hisses and rumbling voices alerted her that all was not abandoned.
Something or someone was out there. Hardly daring to breathe, the girl waited in the lean-to, her heart quickening. There were the sounds of someone removing layers of some sort of cart away. Another moment of silence before the sound of a man's strangled begging and triumphant hissing filled the air. Peeking her head a little the girl saw something holding another figure by its throat. A man. Someone who sounded like her father.
The oppression of the situation was almost too great to bear. As the figure of her father dangled, the other something slammed something on his chest. The crescendo of agony that ripped from the man's lips was nothing the girl had every heard. She slammed her hands over her ears and didn't realize she was screaming herself until the man fell silent. She stopped, but it was too late. The shriveled husk of a body hit the ground in a near-noiseless thump and the something headed towards her tent, its pace slow and predatory. The child froze. The something came closer, confident, its hiss-spit growling growing louder.
A shadow fell across her tent, and the girl bolted.
The sunlight blinded her but it didn't matter. She knew where she was going. Legs, thin and knobby with youth, gave her wings as she tore through the forest. Trees whipped past her face and thin laces of blood etched themselves on her skin. She ran faster. Lungs began to burn. Muscles turned into led. Feet became sloppy. The child tripped and fell, hard, over an elm root. Tears clouded her vision as she dizzily got up on rubbery legs, both knees scraped raw. The sizzling pain made her whimper, but she began to run again, not daring to stop.
A new snarling noise made her freeze. When she looked up, she stared straight in the face of a bristling forest cat. Eyes widening with mounting fear, the girl was frozen as the two-foot high cat approached. Its green eyes flashed as it pinned its tufted ears back. Its needle-sharp claws dug deep in the rotting wood, a hissing snarl rising in its throat. Normally non-aggressive, the entire culling had made it anxious and dangerous. The cat suddenly lashed out, catching her left cheek. Four deep, parallel marks were etched deeply in the girl's face. She shrieked in pain as the paw raked her.
Just before the cat could strike again, whipped into frenzy by its prey's outcry and scent of blood, a blue blast enveloped it. The cat yowled before it toppled over and hit the ground as if pole-axed. The child whirled in the direction of the blast, astounded.
Looking shakily around from her vantage point on the ground, the child couldn't see what had saved her. But as she continued to look in one direction, a rustle of sound caused her to whirl around.
He was unbelievably tall, broad shoulders spread over a narrow chest. Covering his entire upper frame was a darkly tanned leather garment with a high neck-covering piece, and a thin black belt looping over his shoulders and under one side. He wore black leather pants and a trench coat-like covering over his lower half. He had long, straight white hair that flowed all the was down to the middle of his midriff, a handsome contrast to the darkness of the being's uniform. But the creature's face told her it was not human. His skin was pale bluish-green with facial slits on both cheeks. He bore no eyebrows. He sported two elegant mustachios on his chin. His pupils were slitted—like a forest cat's—and his irises were a deep green speckled with bits of yellow. In one hand he held a pistol-like device, probably the source of the flash.
The child stared up at the pale face. She didn't get up. She was inert.
The alien cocked his head in a curious posture, eyes hooded and lids half-closed as he continued to exchange gazes with the she-child. She shivered. After a moment he snorted and walked away, back towards the camp.
For a moment, the child did nothing. Her cheek was warm and throbbing. Her knees hurt. Her legs were sore. But with the simple movements of a child, she got up and began to make her way in the same direction of where her strange rescuer went. Suddenly afraid she had lost him, she sped up on already spent legs until she reached the striding figure.
The noise she caused stopped the tall being. It slowly turned around, eyes tilting down upon her. The child stopped as well, looking up at him solemnly. For a long moment alien and human stared each other, more than just their cultures separating the rift between them. Even years later, when the Wraith retold the story of their first encounter to the young girl, she was reluctant to believe she had acted so fearlessly with him.
The beautifulterriblehandsome creature lifted its pistol-thing at her, face and eyes expressionless. The girl didn't move. She watched as the beautiful killer knelt on one knee at her level, its abnormal face close to hers. So close was she that she could smell his scent but she couldn't place it. It smelled nothing fetid or repulsing, just a metallic musty smell. Like of cobwebs.
He knelt down on one knee before her, turning his head in a sort of regard and curiosity. Even on his knee he surpassed her height by a large margin. Unexpectedly, he reached over and took her tiny chin between his clawed fingers, seeming to examine her face. His skin felt just as a human's but colder, despite the summer's heat. The girl continued to stand stock-still, both passive and immovable.
Apparently satisfied with what he saw, the alien grunted deep in his chest. Seemingly coming to a decision, he released her and continued walking, ignoring her as if nothing had ever happened. The child followed, but the demon didn't discourage her.
The two unlikely travelers made their way back to the camp. He turned at looked at her.
The creature spoke as if he had rocks in his mouth; the words were harsh and guttural, nothing like the smoothness of a human throat. But the command had been clear, accent or no.
The girl stayed put. It seemed natural to do as the beautiful demon said.
Silent, the creature headed towards a group similar of his kind. When they saw him they straightened and ceased milling around. The girl watched, feeling somewhat disconnected from the whole scene. Her cheek hurt and her knees were sizzling, but even that felt numb and far-away. But she stayed where she was told, and would until the creature came back for her.