Summary: Posing as the ruler of Todd's Hive had worked too well. Unexpected chaos causes Teyla to become stranded as the Queen. With Todd as her sole ally, she will learn what it means to be Queen, and to become Queen.
AN: So I've been reading the Stargate Atlantis books, Homecoming and The Lost, which are the sequels to the SGA series. I love them. Also, it makes me want to return to an idea that has been hounding me since I finished 'Rules of War' ages ago. A 'what if' story. What if Teyla had to become Queen a little more permanently?
I love the fact that the authors finally gave us an inside look at the Wraith, including how they choose their names and how they interact. I don't like the Wraith, but I like Todd. So thus, this is a Todd & Teyla driven story. With a little frantic Sheppard's team thrown in.
So here's a strange tale of what might have happened, if 'The Queen' mission had not gone as well as planned.
Oh, and a small, barely mentionable segment of this first chapter might be a word-by-word play of the episode's scripting, but fear not. It has to be exact in every way, right until the point it changes. It definitely changes. Quite explosively.
Chapter One: Sacrifice
A temporary situation, at best. That is what this was meant to be.
Dr. Keller's mournful expression was the first of many she had been forced to look upon, while Teyla found herself cosmetically changed to appear as a Wraith Queen. The longer she spent aboard this Hive ship, the longer she had to think about the events that had occurred to bring her here. No one looked at her while she appeared this way; her teammates—John, she swallowed, remembering—looked at her but didn't see Teyla Emmagen, just a creature with whom they had a shaky and fleeting alliance. Everyone acted as though she had gone away on some mission far away, even long before she had departed, waiting patiently for her to return when she was still there.
Which she could not.
The Wraith on board this new Hive ship also saw through her, not past her disguise but through her true self, the woman she was beneath. They too, were waiting. They were waiting for her to disappear, waiting for their own Queen to return to them.
Which she could not.
Only Todd seemed to look upon her and see both Teyla, the human Athosian woman, and at least the facade of a Wraith Queen. In his calculating mind, he was well aware that his own Queen would never return and that this unorthodox replacement would be his Hive's salvation. As such, he withheld nothing from her as he did before, she could access his thoughts and his mind completely. This she did not do despite his willingness. Even though one might open the barbed gates to what Earth people called Hell, that did not mean it was proper to cross through them into the horrors beyond.
None of this was of any use to her, however. She had been trapped on Hive ships before, but never like this. Escaping from a prison cell on the ship had become a standard expectation of being captured alive by Wraith. Sitting on the throne of the Queen provided no such obvious escape route. It was a trap enforced by her own position; they were stranded. She was stranded. He she not been so careless, she would already be home on Atlantis.
Six hours prior...
John, Rodney and Ronon were on board the ship, as captives. Taken while trying to save her. Despite everything they had worked for until now, she knew their safety preceded her current mission. She left them in the cell with the promise they were safe, half-convinced of the truth, because she was not even sure she was safe from the Wraith on this ship, and she was their revered Queen.
Returning to her—the Queen's—chambers, Teyla felt once more the uncomfortable stirring in her mind, a sensation she knew already was Todd attempting to contact her by Wraith sense. It would not work. She did not bother to quieten the flare of anger she sent chasing after that whisper of a thought, and she was certain she could hear his mocking chuckle once it vanished. She was so retreated into herself, she did not sense the Wraith commander of the ship approach her from behind.
"My Queen!" she heard his sneering voice. She did not allow herself to startle, but whirled on him in a furious manner that was not feigned.
Crush was the name of the commander, his mind was far weaker than any queen's she had encountered and it was not hard to steal that information. Crush was fearsome, perhaps, in the eyes of other Wraith but to Teyla, he was but an annoyance and a threat to her team's safety.
"What are you doing here?" she snapped viciously. "Who authorized you to be in my quarters?"
"I let myself in," said Crush, his manner and his mind both seething a resentment for her that had Teyla pushing against it with more than exceptional emotional will. "I needed to speak to you in private."
"I do not wish to speak right now. Come back later!" she barked, and turned to leave.
"I am afraid I cannot—"
"I am your Queen! You will do as I—"
"You are not my Queen!" he stated, piercing yellow eyes filled with force and hatred.
Every nerve of her body experienced what John may have called 'the chills', but she was very careful to hide this reaction both outwardly and within. "How dare you speak to me this way? Remove yourself from my sight immediately!"
"I saw you speaking to the prisoners from Atlantis."
"And?" sneered the 'Queen'. "I may not interrogate prisoners upon my own ship?"
"Oh, you may. Thought it is odd that you refer to them as prisoners." He stepped no closer, but it was as though the Wraith commander were closing in upon her as doubt and fear bubbled somewhere deep inside Teyla. "I heard what you said to them. You knew them, and they knew you. I had to ask myself," he added with a heat-filled pause. "How is such a thing possible?"
Before Teyla could force a reply worthy of her fearlessness, he went on, "I suspected you, right from the moment you set foot upon my ship. And against my better judgment, I allowed you to remain on board while you committed treachery after treachery!" Crush drew his blade and swung it at her, and this was the first time she had seen a Wraith warrior's arm tremble with overwhelming emotion.
Her Wraith DNA choked her from within. Pain, denial, hatred, anger, violence, defiance and everything this commander felt for the loss of his late Queen and the betrayal of his new one bore down on her. The edge of the blade seemed to be an extension of this bloodthirsty reaction. This was not normal. She had not reached out to touch his mind, how could he-
"It was my duty to defend this ship," he lamented with the flames of abhorrence lashing her mind. "And I failed."
Her body fought for her, in replacement of her quick thinking and battle readiness. A weak defense was all she had to offer under this paralyzing emotional attack, but her senses cleared like water evaporating on a heated stone. She was being grappled by Crush, sharpened blade across her throat. "I'm afraid your reign is over, my Queen!"
The blue bolts that slammed into the back of the ship's commander also broke the storm that entrapped her, and Teyla rolled backwards, onto her feet. Crush collapsed to the ground with a strangled gasp.
Like a ghost, Todd appeared from the entrance to the Queen's chambers, crossed the room in six gliding strides and knelt next to her attacker. With a sickening 'crack', he twisted the other commander's head, breaking his neck. Teyla watched him with carefully guarded thoughts, as he rose to his feet again.
"He will not be bothering you any further," Todd informed her in a way perhaps too matter-of-fact.
She hissed a short reply, still coming out of the cloudy, mental storm but feeling blissfully vindicated of the horrible emotions. "Thank you—"
The Hive ship heaved under their feet and shook tremendously, as the dull roar of several explosions pounded down on the half-organic hull above. Teyla nearly lost her balance but saved hereslf by gracefully leaping to the nearest wall for support. "What is happening?" she demanded.
As the tremor subsided, Todd appeared to be listening intently, fervently to the ship all around him. He bared his teeth in irritation. "A Hive ship has dropped out of hyperspace and is firing upon us."
"How is that possible?" she hissed, confronting him with clenched fists. "No other ships should know our location!"
"Crush must have contacted one of the allies of the Hive we—" he said, with a suspicious note, "-just recently destroyed for poaching on our feeding grounds."
"And? We must return fire, destroy them as well before they have the chance to—"
"Do you think us fools, my Queen?" he interrupted with yet more savage mockery. "This Hive has not regenerated from the last battle and our energy stores are severely depleted. This battle will one of the shorter breed. There is not much time before we will be forced to escape into hyperspace."
There was a connotation there that did not elude her. She did not waste another breath in this pointless exchange; instead, she broke into a sprint that carried her through the corridors of the ship in a flash. Adrenaline pushed her speed to its limits, and with great fortune she did not run into any of the ship's guards who might think it odd that their Queen was madly running towards the prison cells.
Sheppard and the rest of her team were waiting in the cell with looks of expectation. "See, Rodney? Like I said, Teyla always comes bearing good news," Colonel Sheppard said, with his hands on the hard, organic webbing that served as the door. "Please tell me that that's the Daedalus out there, trying to blow us all up."
"If only that were the truth," Teyla said hurriedly, finding it somehow hard to breath through the surgical altercations of her fact and her body felt...heavier somehow. "A hostile Hive ship is attacking us. The Wraith commander found out what we were planning and alerted them. You must go now, escape with the Jumper and get to safety."
"All right, check out time, cool. Just let us out, and lead the way," said John.
"No," she shook her head, swallowing. It was almost too difficult to have to do this. Frightening. All they had worked for could not simply end this way; she would salvage it. "I cannot go with you. If I were to escape now, the Wraith on this ship would brand me as weak and cowardly. If we are to have a chance at using Dr. Keller's treatment, I will have to remain here. A victory against a second Hive ship—"
"You're not staying," Sheppard growled with a very annoyed edge. "Screw the mission; we're in over our heads here, Teyla. You're coming with us."
"When I have solidified my presence on this ship, I will send word. You will find me, and I will return to Atlantis," she swore, placing a clawed hand on the panel to open the cell door. As she did, she hastily retreated towards the corridor behind her.
Ronon came stalking towards he, hand on his pistol—to stun her if necessary, no doubt—and Rodney took a baby step forward, opening his mouth. "Teyla-"
Her friend's plaintive, almost pleading voice cut her like a knife, but she did not hesitate to press another wall control. This time, a steely web closed her end of the chamber off from her team, blocking the Satedan from getting any closer. "Watch for my message," she told them. "We will all be on Atlantis again. I promise."
Her heart was not surprised as she turned to fly down the twisted, ghastly hallways, to hear Ronon's pistol streaking and hissing behind her. The red stun bolt missed her fleeing body narrowly, but his bellow could not be outrun. It was frustrated and angry, and she apologized silently to her friends for having made this choice without their blessing. Any other mission would have been worth abandoning, but she could not simply give upon on this slim chance of a future free of culling.
She had not quite made it to the control room, spotting the drone guards outside the door mere seconds before the universe shattered.
Another sensation ripped through her mind. Painfully. Uncontrolled and unexpected. All at once she knew its source and the meaning behind it. Somewhere close by, she had sensed more Wraith arriving, thousands more, screaming defiance in a long, powerful arc through cold space.
Then silenced. Sorrowful silence. The only remaining Wraith were the ones nearby, inside the groaning innards of the half-living ship. All that remained was the stabbing shock the spiked through her mind, when it became apparent that the Hive had jumped to hyperspace. That was not the dread she felt, however, for it was not her unhappiness or her bewilderment.
It belonged to Todd.
Sacrifice. Wraith were known to willingly give their lives when sacrifice was demanded, turning Darts into missiles and damaged cruisers into bombs.
This was the first time she had known for a Wraith Hive ship to sacrifice itself in the near futile attempt to shield another from impending destruction. Todd's ship had done this, screaming like a behemoth from a hyperspace windows seconds before a final barrage of weapons' fire would have ripped the Primary's Hive into pieces. The shots had ripped into the more vulnerable underbelly of the ship, creating secondary detonations and finally, the hyperdrive itself erupted. Todd's Hive had blossomed into an inferno while the Primary ship slipped into hyperspace to escape.
Hyperspace lasted twelve minutes. Then the ship came to a shuddering halt and came out of the jump, spinning out of control. Teyla had remained in the control room with the scientists, snarling at them and berating their incompetence as she should. It was her right as Queen to blame whomever she saw fit. They were stranded, however, and days—not hours—would pass before the necessary repairs were complete to enable hyperspace travel once more.
Days. Days upon a Hive Ship, where she would require things no Wraith needed to survive. Where she would rule in spite of her overwhelming fear that she would fail to retain her secret. Days was too long, too long for her to live without risking exposing her true, human nature.
Which was the least of her problems. She was not Wraith. In many ways she was quite content to know that another Hive Ship had been eliminated. Todd's Hive had not defiantly shielded the Primary because of her, but for their commander's sake. Whether it was an act of blind loyalty, mere logic, or simply a mistake in navigation, Todd's ship was gone. He was all that remained of Atlantis' Wraith 'allies'. Like it or not, they were both prisoners on the edge of being discovered and executed most gruesomely.
Like it or not, they were quite alone within the heart of an enemy nest. For the next six days, she was not Teyla Emmagen, but Steelflower, a Queen who's loyal subjects had sacrificed themselves to ensure the continued preservation of their superior alliance. This was what the Wraith on board were concerned with.
From her throne, she had taken to realize that she was suddenly with company. It was dark in the royal audience chamber, and she had not the Wraith eyes to pierce the blackness. As though formed of the shadow itself, Todd stood in the half-light, gazing at her quietly. Old, yellow eyes under a thin, scraggly veil of silvery-white hair looked at Teyla intently, silently.
They searched for the Athosian warrior behind the artificial mask, and did not find any trace of her presence. Instead, they saw the steely, cold petals of a flower that could slit the throats of a thousand Wraith. And then a thousand more.
The old Wraith drew in a sharp hiss through his and jerked his head back in unwarranted surprise. Then, his instinctual desire to drain the life out of every human who might take pleasure in the loss of his brothers took hold of him.
He lunged at the false Queen with his feeding palm extended. He was going to devour her contemptual glare and thirsted for the moment her eyes shriveled into dust.