Author: Shenandoah Risu
Content Flags: mature subject matter, violence, patricide, mention of non-con
Spoilers: SG-1 S3 "Maternal Instinct", S10 "Company of Thieves"; SGU Seasons 1 and 2, up to "Intervention"
Characters: Kiva, Anateo, Varro, The Monk from Kheb
Prompt: Kiva - How she rose to be a commander in the Lucian Alliance
Summary: She gathers whatever materials about the Ancients she can find. Call it a hobby.
Author's Notes: Written for the LJ Gate Women Ficathon and Art Challenge.
Thanks for reading! Feedback = Love. ;-)
She's a child of passion, a child of desire.
Her parents were never married; her father is an experienced and respected commander of a large ship, her mother is a medic. She's the child that never should have been, as her father is still married when he falls for the beautiful young woman who has a weakness for older men in authority. Their relationship can never be right; they both know it all too well, and as much as they try to end it, circumstances will not allow it. They keep gravitating towards each other, fighting it, and still not winning. Her mother doesn't tell her father about her pregnancy for months. She does not want to bind them together yet again, does not want his love, his protection. But when she does tell him he surprises her, the way he always does, by kissing her hands.
Her mother realizes she has never really known him at all.
A week before the due date her mother is taken prisoner during a hostile takeover. She is forced to attend to the enemy's wounded, even though she can barely stand, so close to her delivery. Shortly thereafter she is shot in the abdomen during a violent firefight.
Her mother doesn't stand a chance.
The baby is born via emergency C-section while others hold up flashlights; she's cut out of the belly of her mother, and nobody expects her to live.
But she does.
Her mother bleeds to death – the first in a long line of angels she makes in her life.
Kiva spends her early childhood on a backwater of a planet with the family of an associate of her father's who had to retire from active combat due to a major injury that turned him into an invalid. They're decent people, but they have no interest in raising a little girl; they do it to please her father who commands a vast army and increasingly large territories, and to ensure their own freedom, since her father's army now protects them as well.
She learns to read and write, she learns to take care of herself, she learns to be self-sufficient and independent. She learns discipline and eloquence.
At age 7 her father has her brought back to his ship. His wife has since divorced him, and because she won the custody battle for their son Anateo he wants a child of his own.
Kiva doesn't really know him, and he treats her like every other one of his soldiers.
"You're starting flight training tomorrow," he tells her.
"Yes, Sir," she answers.
She needs a booster seat so she can fit into the back seat of a Death Glider, but she loves flying. Her father has a small flight suit, helmet and armor made for her; she soon learns how to adjust it herself, as she grows quickly.
He shaves her head so she won't have to worry about her hair getting tangled in her safety harness.
She does her first solo flight on her 9th birthday, and she executes every single maneuver flawlessly, pushing her glider to the very limit of its capabilities. Her father waits for her in the docking bay as she returns. He pins the insignia to her chest and she salutes him the way any good soldier would.
Her flying skills are legendary; none of the other pilots have ever seen anything like it. And she begins to carry a weapon and starts wearing a bullet proof vest.
"Your own talent could be your downfall, Kiva-le," her father says, using the baby form of her name which he knows she hates, and then he turns her over to a martial arts master who trains her in self-defense and aggressive combat, both armed and unarmed.
She excels at both.
During a fight simulation she breaks the neck of her opponent, an otherwise capable young man who sees a hapless 11-year old girl in her, and she uses his moment of condescension, however brief, to tackle and bring him down, and something just snaps in her.
So her sifu introduces her to meditation, and at first it drives her crazy, because she wants to do, not sit and think. But slowly she begins to understand the code of ritual combat. She doesn't regret killing the other man, but she works hard on controlling her own temper from then on.
The teachings of her sifu fascinate her, and one day the old man meets her sitting in the back of her fighter craft, and he directs her down to a planet with an old temple.
Kiva is most comfortable on space ships; she's spent half of her life in the confined spaces of combat vessels; the great outdoors makes her edgy, suspicious. Her sifu pulls her hand away from her weapon countless times, challenges her to use her senses to gauge the presence or absence of danger.
It takes her many weeks but she is determined to expand her own world; they visit the temple every day and she learns the old language etched into the walls. "It's the language of the Ancients, the Ancestors, the Gate Builders," her sifu explains. "We came later, looking like them but being very much unlike them."
"Where are they now?"
Her sifu gestures at the horizon. "Here. There. Everywhere. They learned to ascend, to leave their physical bodies behind, in pursuit of higher levels of knowledge."
He shrugs. "Where the universe came from. Why. What causes space and time to come into being."
She sits and thinks. She's never considered the possibility of other planes of existence.
One year later she gets her first period, and her life shifts inexplicably around her.
Her body changes – has been changing for some time now; her breasts are hurting when she squeezes into her pressure suit, her hips are growing wider, her features softer.
There are many female pilots on the ship, and they give her pointers on how to modify her suit. She meditates when her body is cramping in protest at the changes inside. The others notice, of course, but nobody says anything. They all deal with it in their own way.
She's unhappy with what's happening to her, but she can no more change it than she could bring her mother back.
Kiva thinks of her sometimes. There are no pictures of her, no records, but some of the older pilots tell her about her. Her own father changes the subject or simply leaves the room every time she mentions her, and so she stops asking. She suspects he's still in mourning over her death, and she cannot fathom why. She doesn't know how to understand love.
She flies her first combat mission at age 13, shooting down a handful of enemy fighters. Her father is proud of his little girl, but she despises him for it. She wants his respect, not his paternal feelings. She grows addicted to the thrill of the battle, far outdoing all the others and quickly earning a reputation as a bloodthirsty young angelmaker. She likes the name; she makes it her call sign.
When she is 15 her sifu dies of cancer. He leaves her an ornately carved wooden box that contains a tiny scroll with a gate address on it.
She memorizes it, then places the box and scroll on his body before dialing the gate and returning him to the universe.
She grows up into a beautiful young woman. Lacking the mellowing influence of her sifu her ambitions and desires spin out of control. Without his gentle distractions there is nothing to keep her from turning into a ruthless warrior.
She's 16 when she leads her first mission in combat, and as she's out there with her squadron she's merciless with the enemy, wiping out their fighters as if they were made of paper. She doesn't realize that an invasion force has taken over her father's ship in the meantime. Her pilots shoot their way out of the fighter bay afterwards – she knows every air duct, every conduit on the ship, and the enemy soldiers are no match for her and her people.
On her way to the Bridge she finds her father, gunned down by enemy fire, bleeding out on the floor from a wound to the stomach.
"Don't kill him, Kiva-le," he rasps. "He's my son."
She blinks in disbelief, and for a second she feels like a 7 year old again.
And then she shoots him in the head.
She's taken away.
She's met Anateo several times before and always disliked the sneering young man, never realizing they were siblings. She is marched to the Bridge where he lounges in the command chair.
"Ah, Kiva, my dear" he drawls. "So nice to see you again. And thank you kindly for putting the old fool out of my misery."
"You're my brother," she says without preamble.
He shrugs. "Half-brother. Father couldn't keep it in his pants. Had to fuck a pretty medic who was only too happy to spread her legs for him after hours. Who knows how many other little Kivas are running around out there."
"What do you want?"
He purses his lips.
"You can keep this crappy tub. I want the mothership and the rest of the troops. And your promise to keep me unharmed, seeing as we're of the same weak flesh and blood. I offer you the same."
She gives it some thought.
With her father's death Anateo, being the firstborn and the legitimate son, is the rightful owner of the fleet, and she had expected him to shoot her on the spot. But she's always suspected Anateo to be even more stupid than he lets on.
She nods, curtly.
"Fine. Be gone." He waves in dismissal.
She moves on, regroups her wing and the pilots loyal to her after Anateo leaves.
And she sets a course for the planet with the coordinates her sifu left her.
She never gives Anateo another thought. And sure enough, many years later she learns that he was spaced by a rogue former goa'uld host during another one of his hare-brained schemes to take over the entire Alliance. Some of his former men join Kiva's army afterwards.
She's in no hurry to get to her next goal; there are vast territories to cross and plunder, so much knowledge and technology to acquire, and it would be a shame to just pass it all by. She's unforgiving in training her soldiers, but those that pass muster are the best in the quadrant.
Kiva is not much into traditions, but like most women warriors of her clan she takes her own virginity.
It hurts like hell and she bleeds for hours, but it's done and she heals soon enough.
In her position she cannot allow herself to show weakness, fondness for someone who might then just turn around and slit her throat. Her love is flying; the thrill of battle is an erotic adventure, and victory is ecstasy to her, and it quells the deep ache inside her. She dreams of men and women, of kind lovers, but she knows how to quench her own thirst for sweetness with nimble fingers, safely, alone in her bunk. And more often than not she doesn't want sweet, she just wants to be satisfied. She develops a craving for strong men that she can dominate, the way she dominates her armies, and when they refuse her she has them bound and then takes them anyway. Other leaders, enemy soldiers she has taken prisoner are her preference; she finds there is no better way to assert her superiority than by using them for her own sexual gratification. She amasses a sizeable arsenal of devices that get her what she wants, usually against the will of her victims. Men are there to serve her; if they please her either in body or spirit she forces them to fulfill her desires; she doesn't care about much else. She uses them and throws them aside when she is done.
Many of them do not survive.
In a few short years she rises to the top of the Alliance, a force to be reckoned with, and unlike the other commanders out there she's not into petty trades of addictive corn or other goods.
Kiva wants knowledge.
Many scientists work in her employ, and she gathers whatever materials about the Ancients she can find.
Call it a hobby.
And one day she arrives at her old sifu's gate address, a planet called Kheb.
The temple grounds look deserted, the Zen garden quiet in the sun, the building serene.
"Wait here," she says to her men and removes her weapon.
Her loyal lieutenant Varro steps in her way. "I will accompany you."
"You will do no such thing," she replies and hands him the gun. "You will remain here with the others and secure the area until I'm finished."
"Finished with what," he asks.
She smiles briefly.
"Well, if I knew I wouldn't have come all this way here, now, would I."
She feels a strange kind of static in the air as she approaches the temple, and there is the tiniest bit of an electric charge zapping her hand as she reaches out to open the door.
It's dark inside and she closes her eyes, opening her mind.
Yes, there is someone here.
She removes her boots and steps into a star-shaped pit of coarse black sand in the center of the room. She sits down, closes her eyes again and waits.
"Your heart is full of darkness," a soft voice comes from behind her.
She doesn't move.
A fire pit lights up in front of her, colorful flames dancing in the middle of the black sand.
A young man steps out of the shadows, dressed in the garb of a monk, surrounded by a faint white glow.
"Words cannot express things, speech cannot convey the spirit; swayed by words, one is lost. One cannot carry darkness on the great path."
He gestures at her.
"Why are you here, Kiva-le?"
The diminutive form of her name startles her for a moment, but she pulls herself together quickly.
"My sifu sent me. He wished me to learn something from this place."
The monk sits down opposite of her.
"You cannot remain here," he says kindly. "This is a place of peace, of the great beyond, a portal to other ways of living."
"It is what I seek as well," she replies.
The monk nods.
"You may well succeed in your quest, but be warned, it will be your downfall. All roads lead to the great path. There are no shortcuts. You have many more things to learn before you can walk it with purpose."
The monk rises and gestures at the walls.
"Learn what you will from the ancient texts. Because it is so clear, it takes a longer time to realize it: if you immediately know the candlelight is fire, then the meal was cooked a long time ago."
Kiva stands. He bows to her. She copies the movement, and when she looks up again he's gone, a blueish-white glow in the place where he just stood.
She puts on her boots and then calls for her science team, advising them to leave all weapons with Varro, and they spend days transcribing the ancient texts for her.
Over time she learns what they say.
The secret of the 9th Gate chevron is a siren song. Kiva listens. She surrenders to it.
She retreats to a remote part of the galaxy, dismissing many of her armies into the service of those she trusts, keeping only her most loyal followers and recruiting new bright young minds. She lets her hair grow. On a planet laced with abundant naquada deposits she finds the ideal place to conduct her research into the 9th chevron of the Stargate, the place where all the knowledge resides, according to the scriptures from Kheb.
Her team barely recognizes her – she is driven to unravel the mystery of the last gate dimension, and when her spies report that the people of Earth have managed to obtain the gate address required she stops at nothing to get a copy.
She captures one of their men whom she has long known to be a spy amongst her own people, and with the technology available to her she brainwashes him to be a spy for her.
He comes through admirably, giving her exactly the information she desires. And when she finds out about new people working on the project she fears they will solve the problem before she does.
She calls for an attack on the planet, and it is destroyed as the naquada in its core goes critical and explodes. Her strike force is vanquished in the process, and she is furious when she's told that the team on the planet actually escaped through the gate – reaching the destination before her.
It's a ship, her spy says, launched millions of years ago, on its way to the outer reaches of the universe.
When their chief scientist falls into her hands via the communication stones she knows she's close. She pushes her team hard, mercilessly, and when her base of operations comes under attack she has no choice but to evacuate to the ship, just like the others.
But she is prepared.
She will take the ship, and its knowledge, and the power that comes with it.
Nothing can stop her now.
As she lies dying she sees her sifu at her side.
"Oh, Kiva-le," he says, sadly, and the childhood name doesn't sting anymore. "I have failed to teach you the most important lesson of all. Yes, you have become a great warrior and explorer. But the universe is so much bigger than science and knowledge can ever describe."
He takes her hand.
And as she leaves her body behind she looks around at all the others, all the angels she has made.
And she begins to understand.
"I wasn't listening," she says. "I never heard a word you said. I didn't have any power at all, did I?"
Her sifu places a baby girl in her arms and nods at her.
Something inside her stirs, an ache growing stronger. She can't bear the pain.
"What do I do now?"
She is alone.
And she sits down to think, and all that's left of her is regret and sorrow and an overwhelming need for redemption.
It is something, though.