I just realized it's been six months, give or take a week since I last updated, and I'm terribly sorry about that. I have been busy with other projects in the intervening time, and this story, not technically being my own, slipped my mind. Once again, I'm terribly sorry about the long, long wait, so here's a chapter for you, and I hope you forgive me enough to leave a review!
Three days had passed since Angel had adapted the Flock's genetic structure to be able to use Wraith equipment. Everything seemed to be on pause, like everyone was just waiting for a catalyst. That catalyst showed when a Wraith Hive, no doubt intrigued by the presence of a Hive in a system long thought worthless for food.
Angel was calmly waiting near the system star, where she had been absorbing energy for use later when the Hive dropped out of hyperspace.
Angel did not intend to allow it time to regenerate the damaged outer hull, and moved at full sub-light towards it.
Max and the Flock arrived in a Jumper, and quickly manned the bridge positions.
As soon as the other Hive was in range, the Chair that Max was sitting lit up and reclined.
"Drones ready."A voice whispered in her ear. With a thought, Max unleashed a barrage of drones, which in the process of Angel's conversion into a Hive, had turned emerald green. The energy squids quickly dealt massive damage to the Hive, taking out hyperdrive and sublight almost immediately.
Nudge hailed Atlantis from her position at Tactical, after seeing the enemy Hive launching Darts.
"Atlantis, this is Bloodangel. The enemy have unleashed their Darts, we need anti-fighter assistance, now!"
"Understood, Bloodangel." Dr. Wier replied. "We're sending help now."
Sheppard took the Blood Eagle out for it's maiden voyage, Ronon in the backseat interpreting tactical data for Sheppard, while Jumpers flew past them on all sides.
"Alright Chewie." Sheppard said as they cleared the atmosphere. "I'm putting my go foot down and my stop foot up. It's time to see what this thing can do!"
As that moment, Max launched another wave of drones.
"The enemy Hive has Lantean drones, my queen!" a commander growled on the bridge. "Evasive maneuvers are no good, returning fire!"
"How could one of our own have Lantean weapons?" the queen demanded. A thought dawned on her then. "Keer! I told them not to try such an experiment, but they did so regardless of the danger. Inform the others of the alliance, we cannot afford for the entire Alliance to run afoul of this vessel."
A signal was sent forthwith, and within five minutes the Hive was destroyed.
Max's command/drone chair returned to the upright and locked position as she issued a new heading.
"Settle us into low orbit Gazzy, we need to stay near Atlantis for now." she said.
"I disagree." Angel said, appearing to walk in. The ship itself had taken moderate damage, and she reflected that in her illusion's appearance. "High orbit of the star. I want to recharge my energy banks. I've tapped out most of my reserve energy, and need to heal."
She sounded and looked weak to the rest of the Flock, and through the genetic link that they shared, there was a sense of overall tiredness.
Gazzy nodded, punching in the required commands.
The Hive slid through space, silent as a whisper, though vapor was seen pouring out of various wounds in the inner and outer hulls.
"How long until we're combat ready again?" Max asked.
"Two days, if we take it one Hive at a time, but if we are looking to go after more than two Hives a week, then it will be about two weeks before I'm ready to go after it again."
Max nodded in understanding. "Nudge, damage report?"
"We've got ruptures on decks four through six, one of our hyperspace engines are out, limited sublight. Structural integrity is down fifteen percent, and energy reserves are at sixteen percent. On the bright side, we've only lost two plasma cannons on the starboard side, and emergency bulkheads in voided sections are holding."
"Anything else?" Max asked tiredly.
"Yes, Atlantis is hailing." Nudge replied.
"Open a channel."
"This is Dr. Wier. I assume you've survived your encounter and need time to repair?"
"That's right." Max said tiredly. "We took most of the damage on the starboard side. Angel said she needs to take energy from the star, so we're going to be in orbit there for a while. Also, the Blood Eagle needs to be returned to the hangar bay, or it will start to slowly degrade after a while."
"Understood." there was a tone as the radio communication link was cut.
"The Blood Eagle has been returned to the bay and is docked." Iggy reported. He pressed a character on his console, and a tone sounded. "Atmosphere has been restored to safe levels, though it's still a bit thin."
"Understood." Sheppard's disembodied voice squeaked through the console.
McKay felt rather tired, which he chalked up to the fight between Angel and the enemy Hive, but he was still working on the project with the Nanites.
"You should sleep, McKay." Angel said. She pointed out multiple errors that riddled his work, and McKay nodded tiredly.
He rubbed his face blearily and waved her off. "g'night." he said, and slumped forward over the desk. Within seconds he was snoring.
Angel shook her head at McKay's actions, and returned her focus to healing herself. It was really quite the spectacle for Sheppard and Teyla, who were sitting in the Jumper, as they watched a hole being sealed.
A tendril would unfurl on one side and drift over to the other side of the hole, where it would lock in place. The process would then repeat itself until the hole was completely sealed.
After a while, Sheppard returned the Jumper to the bay, and walked to his quarters on board the organic vessel. He refused to view the ship as Angel, as that would make it too weird, even for him.
He swiped his hand over the sensing blister set in his doorframe, and the door rumbled open, sounding almost like stone being moved in it's track.
With a tired sigh, Sheppard flopped down on the membrane that served as his bed. A second membrane swiftly covered his body, and he fell asleep within three seconds.
When he awoke, Angel had a strong calming field engaged over Sheppard's room, so that he wouldn't panic upon awakening. His eyes opened, and he calmly pushed the blanket membrane aside before rolling out of bed and putting his shoes on.
He swiped his hand over the door control blister, and was promptly greeted by Angel right outside his door.
"Angel, hi." he said, blinking away the remnants of sleep in his eyes. "What's up?"
"I've completed hull repairs and returned to stationary orbit over Atlantis." Angel replied. "Dr. Wier wants to see you, and McKay is ready to come aboard with the Nanites, so I'm sending you down with the Blood Eagle."
"Okay…" Sheppard said. "I've only just woken up. Why are you telling me all this?"
"You aren't going down until you've had breakfast." Angel said.
They had been walking down one of the main corridors, when one of the doors opened to reveal a cafeteria of sorts, and Angel just shy of shoved Sheppard inside.
The room was lit with green lights hidden in the ceiling, creating a dim, peaceful environment. One wall was completely given over to a window, which gave a clear view over the planet. Sheppard touched the window, and found it to be a membrane that felt similar to the one that served as his bed. Looking down, he was able to see Atlantis resting on the sparkling waters of the planet.
"You need to eat." Angel insisted.
Sheppard jumped, slightly startled, and sat down at the nearest table. Breakfast and coffee appeared on the table, and Sheppard began eating at asedate pace, determined to enjoy his breakfast.
The Flock filed into the cafeteria, followed by Ronon Dex, who almost seemed to be…happy? Sheppard wondered what was going on in the Setedan's head, but decided not to ask. It was probably safer that way.
Ronon joined Sheppard as the Flock sat down around another table and began eating.
John noted with some amusement that Ronon wasn't bothering with utensils, though they were available for use.
"Angel said that we're probably going to be able to ruin the Wraith within a year if she is able to properly prepare." Ronon said between mouthfuls.
"Oh, well that's good." Sheppard said, taking a sip of coffee. "What all did she say she needed?"
"She's headed back to the star after McKay gets back, and she said something about a thicker hide I think." Ronon mumbled.
"Oh." Sheppard thought about that for several moments, then arrived at an interesting idea. "What if…" he turned towards Angel. "Angel, what if you were able to absorb the plasma shots the other Hives were firing, and use that energy in your own systems?"
"Little to no damage, assuming it could be done." Angel answered. "John, that's brilliant!"
John grinned, then finished his coffee. "Alright, time to see what Wier wants me for." He belched appreciatively and walked out of the cafeteria, heading for the hangar. Before the conversion process had been enacted, he might have gotten lost in the halls of an alien vessel of this magnitude, but he seemed to almost instinctually knowwhere the hangar bay was and how to get there.
As he sat down in the pilot's seat, the 1220 seemed to almost be an old friend to Sheppard's mind, and for a moment, Sheppard had the image of an old sage stuck in his mind before he dispelled it with a shake of his head. Ronon climbed aboard, and the canopy closed around them before Sheppard gently encouraged the small vessel to leave the deck.
He flew to the airlock doors, which were already opened, and waited for the doors to cycle before heading down towards the city.
In the Jumper bay at the top of the city, McKay was waiting with a cube. It was a shiny silver color, but in reality, it was five pounds of Replicators clinging to each other in the form of a cube. His tablet computer was set up for control of the Nanites, and down in the heart of the city, there was a special subspace beacon that was built specifically to respond to the Nanites currently held in McKay's hand.
"This is Colonel Sheppard, I'm on my way down, but this ship doesn't do Lantean doors. Someone care to do the honors?"
McKay opened the doors, and the 1220 descended into the bay, unfolding spidery landing legs as it did so. The craft settled gently on the ground, and a wide plate descended from the belly of the craft to make contact with the charging pad built into the Jumper bay.
The canopy vanished with a squelching noise, and Sheppard hopped out. "All yours." he said, gesturing towards the craft. "I'll close up behind you."
"Thanks." McKay said, hefting the block. "I've got the Nanites right here." He climbed into the seat as Ronon was getting out of the rear, and the canopy reformed again.
The recharge plate drew away from the floor, though it almost seemed to hesitate slightly before retracting completely. It jumped up slightly, the legs folding in before the small ship simply rocked backwards and accelerated out of the Jumper bay, headed back for the relative warmth and safety of Bloodangel's massive hangar bay.
Sheppard closed the doors before going down to see what Dr. Wier wanted.
On board the ship, McKay was in his organic lab, where Angel met up with him.
"I've set aside a subspace communications rig specifically for this application." Angel said. "Come, let me show you."
McKay took the cube and his tablet with him before exiting the room, and allowed Angel to lead him to a room on the middle deck.
A long pipe lay suspended in the room, and as McKay looked towards one end of the pipe, he estimated that it probably went the whole length of the ship. It was segmented every several feet, with bare conductors sticking out, and McKay figured that the Nanites were supposed to fill those holes.
After about ten minutes, the entire block had been placed on the antenna pole, and had mostly finished the process of filling in the gapped sections.
"Alright, they're all in." Angel said, her voice betraying the excitement she felt. "Turn it on."
Each nanite section had been coded to glow with a pulsing green light to indicate that it was functioning. They would turn red if they malfunctioned or there would be no section there at all. McKay hoped it would never come to that as he entered the appropriate commands.
The nanite segments on the very end of the antenna lit up, followed by their neighbors two seconds later. When the third section lit, the first one to come online dimmed for two seconds before brightening again, setting the tone for the pulse cycle.
When the entire thing was lit up and functioning, it appeared as though glowing lights were traveling down the antenna at measured intervals, almost like some sort of pulse drive engine core.
"Well, that's that." McKay said, standing up.
Angel looked incredibly happy and at peace as she led McKay back to his lab. To McKay's amusement, she was even skipping now and again as she walked. When they arrived at his lab, she said "Sheppard had an idea that I thought was good, but I don't know if it can be done."
"What is it?" McKay asked. Despite the way Sheppard typically acted, he knew that Sheppard was far smarter than he typically let on.
"He was wondering if there was a way for me to grow a skin capable of absorbing incoming plasma fire." Angel said. "Even if I'm just dissipating it, that would go a long way towards increasing our odds of success against the Wraith."
"You're serious about this 'Wraith wiped out in a year or less' thing, aren't you?" McKay asked in wonder.
Angel smirked. "I am Bloodangel, your Hive Ship. Thou shalt have no other Hive ships in the same galaxy as myself." she intoned mock gravely.
McKay chuckled at that. "I'll see what I can do." he said at last. "No guarantees though."
"I understand." Angel replied. "I need to go tell Dr. Wier that we're moving back to the star again. I'm trying to store up as much energy as I can."
Answers to Readers is offline this week because nobody left any reviews on the previous chapter. I think that's all that's left to do, so, for your reading pleasure, I present to you The Layman for my chewing out on account of being so INCREDIBLY late with this.
*We now return to your chewing out, already in progress* -and *^% (#&*^% $# *^ your mother twenty-five times, or else-! Oh, sorry about that...
Anyways, I myself also apologize for the lack of updates the last few months. (I probably should have reminded HW once or twice myself...) However, in addition to the new chapter, I have a another piece of good new for y'all; I'm going to be writing an alternate time line for Angels on Atlantis! Yay! Before you get your expectations up, what I'm going to do is start from where I left off on chapter 7 (really 6) and work from there. It's not going to be connected to HW's time line, there won't be any Bloodangel and Ajax idn't gonna drop by. However, if you enjoy reading things from Max's POV, you might want to check this one out, since that's how I started writing this thing in the first place. Also, if you or someone you know wouldn't mind Beta reading that one I'd be ever so grateful.
Well, that's about it. If you think Hideout Writer isn't working fast enough...don't whine about it. Either send him or me a calm, civil PM and one of us will do something about it.
And the final volume of the Max Ride series is coming out this year. Just sayin'.