AN: You know, five months is not the longest I've ever gone without updating. The record for that is 3 years, on a very old story. And that was 3 years ago. I think I've been on this site for far too long. Also, I've been having issues with my eyes-thankfully, writing is one of the few things I can do without even looking at the screen.
On topic...some people crave this to bloom into a romance, others swear they'll shank me if I turn this into a romance. I've no idea what I'm going to do. I'm just the middle man. Woman. False authority figure. I guess we'll see what happens.
Anyway, provided there's still enough readers out there who want this story continued, I'll continue—if not, I'll have to focus on one of my other many incomplete stories. Whatever's in highest demand. Like candy. Only...flavoured with the bitterness of isolation and rejection of the human ego. It's my mission to get them all completed, I just chose this one-you know what? You don't care about this. Go read!
Chapter Four: Struggle
The scientific mind of Guide was intrigued. The survivalist in him was irked, perhaps even enroaching on outraged. It was a peculiar combination of unwanted, distracting emotions. This strange fascination twisted around enough inner tension to make him scowl and sigh and above all else, it baffled him.
Humans with Wraith DNA were rare in this age. That rarity increased by a tenfold when it came to females, as the dormant, Wraith genetic material had a tendency to target the inferior neural pathways that a Queen would develop through her adolesence. Most 'altered' female humans lost the mental capacity to function in their society before they were old enough to mate. Many who lived into their breeding stage died of rapid neural decay. Among many reasons, this was why he had found Teyla Emmagen's existence so mesmerizing. Not just existence, but excellence in the face of insurmountable odds.
"Tell me what to do."
"Rest," he had told her.
That was long after he painstakingly coashed her on how to block the pain; he did, no matter how she snapped at him, and he did not relent until she could safely control herself without his instruction. It was not out of sympathy for her plight, but necessity. He could not risk a display of weakness when dealing with other Queens. The second stage of the plan was, of course, to sever any lingering connections to other Wraith on the Hive ship. Then, and only then, was she allowed to retire to the Queen's chambers and collapse, where he suspected she would remain in deep slumber for countless hours.
Guide strolled across the chambers like a shadow, scrutinizing the form on the scarlet satin covers. Females had their particulars fancies; human food, human clothing styles, bedding—the former Queen of this ship had evidently not been an exception.
After regarding Young Queen for a time, he sat down on the bench specifically designed for attendees. Ignoring the sleeping female, he withdrew further into his mind to puzzle out these newfound complications.
He had not ruled out the possibility that the process would kill her. In that event, he expected control of the ship would fall to him—but not the alliance. Especially now that the old, slippery Queen Carnage was taking an interest in Teyla. Her arrival and immediate departure was a breed of unsympathetic foreplay—she did not know yet whether she wanted to kill Teyla, or assimilate her into her choking rule. More than likely, Carnage merely wanted to toy with her food before consuming them all whole.
In any case, he would have to pay homage to the old Queen, and perhaps his age and long-term standing with Steelflower would keep him alive. If Teyla died now, Carnage would most certainly smell a plot, and she had a well founded reputation for squashing threats before they had a chance to blister.
This ship had no Queen. This was an irrefutable fact. One half of a desperate symbiosis was missing. He did not care for its suffering; a Hive operated just as well without a Queen to communicate with its barely audible brain functions—this he had proved in the absence of his late Steelflower. The fact remained that the Hive would instinctively latch on to the nearest, unbound female Wraith and 'adopt' her as its monarch, whether or not that female possessed the genetic strength to sustain the hive. The ship cared not if the female died in the process; it was programmed to consume as many females as it was offered until the right match was found.
Of course, with no other female Wraith within many lightyears, it had instead began to assimilate the nearest thing to a female it could find.
The Young 'Queen', Teyla Emmagen.
Who was not Wraith, but soon would be.
Guide surged to his feet and growled his mounting frustration. He whirled around and began to pace. Now he was at an impass, abandoned with no strategy and outnumbered by impossible odds. Science had truend its back on him. Within weeks, perhaps months, the human Queen would become a gross infestation of her own genetic abomination, and what was he to advise her then? There was nothing that could be done. Assuming she survived, she would either perish of starvation, or attempt an escape.
And yes. Sheppard would disembowel him at their next chance meeting. It would be 'Todd's fault, no matter the logical circumstances that broke their agreement. Well, this certainly made an issue of things. His tentative alliance with the humans was over.
Guide stopped pacing and grimaced at that thought. No matter what may come in these next few days, he simply could not tell her the truth about her painful metamorphisis. Even if it were successful—the likelihood that this forced mutation would succeed without extensively damaging her both physiologically and psychologically was grim indeed—then he would still not have a Queen. He would have a human trapped in the body of a Wraith.
Unless by some great miracle of the universe, the spread of Wraith DNA left her dry of her old memories. The process was all too much like Dr. Beckett's retrovirus in the form of a mutated genome. It was a possibility. And if he had a Queen who could not remember a lifetime of weak, ethical dilemmas, then he could mold and shape her into any kind of ruling figurehead he could imagine. Young Queens were always susceptible to such manipulation.
Guide snorted; no, this 'possibility' was just too ideal. The universe was too bitter to bask him in that much fortune. He would have to make due with partially resolved, pointless arguments and marginal rhetoric. Eventually, she would listen to him. He had convinced vast armies to fall under the command of his first Queen, long ago, against all odds.
No matter how proud, how obstinate this one female human was, she would not stop him from seeing his ambitions come to fruition.
Teyla had dreams. Her mind was a floating vessel of one meaningless vision after another, flashing through her eyes like an action movie, only a thousand times faster. It was as though a million books of ancient history were being deposited into her brain, and she had little choice but to accept it lest it drive her mad in her painful, unconscious state. When she tried to refuse, the driving force outside her mind attacked her mental barriers with painful ferocity. So she merely took it in, until she could no longer think for herself.
Then, it stopped. The feeling after that was akin to being awake, but dead at the same time. There were hot knives in her arm, blood pouring out of her body like a river in the flood season. Bright light punctured her eyes, splayed dots over her now recovering vision, and made her mouth taste like acidic dust.
A voice in her mind pulled her closer to living. It was Todd's.
You are lucky to be alive, Teyla Emmagen. A hive ship knows no morality, has absolutely no pity for the weak and does not fear the possibility of failure.
If he expected an answer, he would have to live with his disappointment, because Teyla could no more form a coherent sentence with her blind-fire headache than she could fly.
I assume by the reemergence of your rather tactless wit, you are finally ready to reawaken to reality? I will warn you, Teyla...when you open your eyes, this will be a kind of reality you will struggle to allow.
Something—not fear, but similar—sunk to her heart as she could clearly sense the caution used in that telepathic 'voice'. The desire to be fully awake seized her with the stength of an electric pulse, and in one swift movement, Teyla shot forward and sat up in a reckless outburst of emotion, clawed hand reached out to seize the throat of the old Wraith.
"I can't see!" she hissed.
She could feel him swallow underneath her sensitive—too sensitive!—hand, the muscles flexing and bobbing through the action. But she could not see his face, only smell him, his pungent stench, and sense his arrogant mind like an open flame mocking a moth. "Why?" she demanded harshly. "What have you done to me!?"
She may as well have exhanged words with a hot coal.. Her nerves felt raw, enflamed and burnt. When she instinctively lashed out to coerce him to obey, it was only then she realized her faint connections with the rest of the Hive were cut off. The only Wraith presence she could fee right now was Todd, and...
"Ah, you sense it now," he said, and she felt the slithery vocal chords word under her hand. "You may wish to deny this no doubt shocking revelation, but rest assured, this is the truth in its purest form. Your grip is pathetic. Your body shakes like a leaf on a frail stem. But your mind doesn't lie."
Teyla's hand squeezed. She realized that her fingers felt stunted; the weight of half of her claws were missing, and the tips felt wet and raw. Her teeth ached, and they felt overgrown, and her hair was wet and matted. There was no time to let it sink in, as a wave of exhaustion cause her fingers to lax and her arm to drop again. She could only just croak, "I am not...Wraith..."
"I agree. You are not Wraith," he said, and his 'presence' stood up. She 'felt' him pace to the end of what she suspected was the bed in the Queen's chambers. "Then again, you have changed too much in the past few days to be considered human. I'm afraid that at this point, you are nothing but a rather intriguing example of viral evolution."
"Then I am a monster," she growled, as the ever-growing nausea crept from her stomach into her mouth, giving her a bitter taste of bile and disbelief. "John was right. I should have fled along with them when I had the chance. I should have left you here to die without your precious Queen!"
It was not her ferocity or hatred that stung Guide with a bolt of surprise. It was the words and their meaning. "You...were given the chance to escape, and you did not take it?"
He asked this question with firm, flat reluctance.
"And I the fool for not abandoning this pointless cause," she heaved back at him. He observed her clammy, grey skin positively glistening under he ebony hair, her face twisted into the embodiment of defiance and despair. "My desire to complete the mission blinded me, and now I am blind, and I will die before I relinquish my humanity."
"Your humanity is what weakens you," he replied tersely. "You realize there is no going back, Teyla Emmagen. I am..." He sighed, a rattling sound that reeked of fatigue. "...not entirely without compassion. In the event you are killed by this unstoppable transformation, I will refrain from telling John Sheppard the truth."
Pulling her lips back in yet another wild expression of defiance, she informed him vehemently of where he could forcefully 'shove' the truth.
It was then her clouded yellow eyes rolled back into her head, and the ailing human Queen fell back on to the dank mattress. For a long moment, Guide considered her minutely writhing form, trying and failing to not dwell on her words.
He was particularly not affected by the knowledge that she had willingly forgone a safe retreat in lieu of a continued alliance. This was trivial. Nothing.
Shedding that last, bitter thought, Guide whirled away from the frustrating Young Queen's bed and made a hasty exit to the chamber doors. He checked and set the entry code to the door to respond only to his DNA, then proceeded outside of the throne room and into the misty corridor, where two brutish guards were silently waiting.
"If anyone should attempt to disturb our Queen, kill them," he instructed. He departed before even stopping to look at them—they were drones, and as such, did not even possess the free will to disobey the command of the Queen's 'consort'.
It was time to put his plan for Queen Carnage into action. He was curious to find out if she possessed even a fraction of the will of the currently malformed, infuriatingly foolish Young Queen.