A/N: This is just a small oneshot, an episode tag for Conversion. Hopefully you enjoy it! Unbetaed, so if you spot a booboo, let me know and I'll fix it up. :D

Becoming

I look around me at the cave. Everything glows; it is strange, otherworldly. Hell, this whole damn week has been like an episode of the Twilight Zone. A chittering, hissing noise fills the cave and I stop for a moment, absorbed, listening. It almost makes sense, it is almost more than sound, almost words. Almost. I give my head a shake to clear the fog that seems to be constant. I'm on a mission. If I don't get those eggs, I'm going to be listening to that sound for a long time.

I should be scared in this cave, but I'm not. I'm not even creeped out. The cave is cool and damp; perfect. I've been so hot in Atlantis, so dry like I'm burning up. Stepping into the cave was like the first fall of rain in the desert. I take off the heavy robe I used to hide my condition from the others and discard the stifling cloak. I take out a flare; do I need it, or is the glow light enough? Of course I need it – I'm human, dammit! I ignite the flare impatiently, angrily, as though it is the source of my discomfort. It hisses and responds with its own anger; bright yellow light that is painful to my eyes. I throw it as far away as I can; it bounces into a corner and shines its harsh light across the cave.

I walk slowly towards the large sacs hanging from the ceiling. I step carefully, not wanting to step on any of the Iratus bugs and make them aggressive. I needn't have worried about that; they slither out of my way as though they can sense my approach and know where I am going to walk. Convenient, but it scares the hell out of me. It's an unaccountably strange feeling, to be scared more of the possibility than of the event. The chittering sound is louder

welcome friend

but I ignore it and try to focus on the sacs through the fog. It's so hard to concentrate, I feel like I'm in a prison made of air; a weighty, palpable invisibility that holds me back. If I could just break free, the world would crystallise, my thoughts would sharpen. I'm constrained by words and logic when I know without the drug in my system I could think in emotions and images. Carson called it an inhibitor; it is well named. That is exactly what I feel it is doing, inhibiting me from feeling how I should feel, thinking what I should be thinking, being what I should be. No, what I don't want to be. The mission, John. Just focus on the mission.

I never take my eyes of the large egg sacs hanging in front of me. I feel for the container, the hard plastic foreign to my touch, and remove the lid and tuck it away safely. I bunch my leg muscles and leap; freedom in the strength and movement that momentarily makes me feel whole, but the division returns with landing. I grab hold of the sac, sliding a little to lower myself into a good position to puncture the membrane so I can get to the

babies

eggs. Strong emotions assault me. C'mon John, this isn't hard. Just get the damn eggs. I punch through the membrane with more force than I need to, fill Carson's damn container. Nearly done, and I can get the hell out of here.

protect the babies

I nearly withdrew my hand. Two drives, two commands; both strong, both conflicting, and the damn fog in my head so I can't think! An image of brown eyes, full of care and concern, "just get the eggs". The name of the person those eyes belongs to escapes me, but the worry and the need resonant in that brogue guides me. I thrust the container back into the gelatinous goo and fill it. I release my grip on the egg sac and jump back to the ground, fastening the lid back on the container. There, I'm done.

The chittering gets louder, rising to fill my brain. Something is stabbing at my insides, and my ears are filled with the noise of thousands of voices, images, feelings; all washing over me at once. The cacophony blasts away the fog. Ahhh; the pain gets worse; its millions of little needles and sharp fangs biting into me. I collapse onto the cool floor of the cave; a welcome counterpoint to the heat that's burning me.

Slowly the pain fades, and I lay in the cool balm offered by the breeze from the cave entrance. Bodies clamber all over me; they've sensed my pain and have come to offer comfort.

peace friend

The sound is soothing; thousands of voices creating a musical hum in my ears. Feelings and images of comforting caves and warm nests wash over me, wrap me up in a cocoon of peace and acceptance. I listen to them in awe; a multifaceted mental harmony that is inviting me to join it. It is tempting to lay here, to join them and be welcome in their hive. Part of me wishes to with an acute longing.

But there is something missing. I am not part of their hive. I send thoughts of thanks and peace, longing and regret. I cannot join your hive. I must find my own hive. I show them my feelings of difference, my longing to find others the same as me. See? I must go. They scamper off me, leaving me isolated in the midst of them. I hear their goodbyes, feel their own regret that I cannot stay with their hive.

I get to my feet and look around me, look at the bright, pulsing glow of their life-force, and walk slowly towards the cave entrance. As I near it, I drop into a crouch, hissing. Threat! Something is at the entrance of the cave, waiting. I can see the glow of the life-force from here, the dull red of vegetation and the stronger crimson of four shapes hunting in front of the cave.

I transmit a warning to the others. I know they cannot leave the nest until the babies hatch, but they need to know that a threat lurks nearby. Feelings of gratitude inundate me, and warnings to take heed, take care. Images of me staying with the hive, safe, protecting them and them protecting me; oneness. I thank them; show them again images of me leaving to find my own hive.

I must do this. I must find my hive, or find a new cave, my own cave where I can establish my own hive. I shift my grip on the babies I am holding. At all costs, I must protect the babies. I shift closer to the entrance and prepare myself. I cannot fight them, not with the babies. If I rush them, I may be able to flee. I gather my strength; muscles tensing and tendons almost snapping from the force as I rush the hunters.

Three of them are clustered to one side; I aim for the one on its own and rush it, slamming into it and knocking it to the ground before it can attack. I run for the densest part of the pulsing dark red glow, the thickest part of the vegetation. I can lose the hunters in there, I am sure. I am nearly there when something slams into me. Pain erupts along my carapace, unnatural light flickers over me, hurting my ocular orbs and burning me where it touches me. I sink to the ground, fighting the blackness, fighting to move a body that is unresponsive. I must flee! I.. must..

the babies..

I lose the fight and succumb to the darkness.

-fin

Disclaimer: The copyright for Stargate Atlantis belongs to MGM studios and SciFi channel. It's their playground- I'm just playing in it.