He has invited her to his private chambers. It's a perfect opportunity. These beings have guns, and for all her armor a pulse pistol can still kill her, and she is not sure she would be fast enough to take them all. But in a private room, oh yes. She can smell it on him so close to the skin, the sharp tang of metal mingling with the sweet, sweet smell of bone. The artificial skin he wears does not deter her sense of smell.

She does not smell lust on him. This surprises her. She's not sure why he is taking her to a private chamber if he doesn't want sex. It doesn't matter. Whatever his motive, whatever his desire, he will not fulfill it. She's shaking with the effort of holding off the hunger. Oh, sweet bone ground between her teeth, hot marrow and the crunchy deliciousness around it and she needs--

He claps a hand on her shoulder companionably and guides her into his chambers. One step, two steps, the doors close behind her, and she lunges, armor plating rising out of her skin. She will taste him, oh yes.

She is faster than he is, faster than everyone is. She grabs him, pulls him in, and he kicks. An impossibly powerful kick directly to her unarmored solar plexus, throwing her back. He's strong, much stronger than the other ones, but she can't let it matter because she's so hungry. Again she lunges. He dodges, almost evading her, but she slams a spiked arm into him, making him stagger back. A viscous white fluid drips from marks she has made on his forehead, smelling like salt. She grabs him, holds him firmly, and though he is ferociously strong she holds. His struggles keep her from being able to break him open and feed, but if she holds a little more tightly he will break and then she will fill her mouth with sweet bone. He has not called for help, has done nothing but growl and snarl at her as he fights. She tightens her grip on his arms, forcing him into the wall, making him gasp. Her mouth opens to crush his skull, and begin to feed.

And then all the strength leaves her, and suddenly numb fingers release him, numb legs cannot hold her weight and she falls to the floor, gasping, barely able to breathe. Oh, no, no. She was so close. Tears well in her eyes. So close to tasting the bone.

"Excellent," he says, breathing hard. "I was beginning to wonder if the drug would ever take effect. I think you may even be a match for a Warrior Caste, my dear. I haven't been quite that thoroughly... overpowered... in many years."

She stares up at him dully. Drug. He drugged her. Maybe when he put his hand on her shoulder. Maybe back on the planet when he said he would show her compassion. She doesn't want his compassion, she wants his bones. Oh, please, she wants to eat so badly. If he won't let her feed then kill her quickly. She would plead, but she's too weak even to speak.

He walks over to a panel in the wall, opens it, and takes out a sealed jar. Her eyes track him, unable to do much more than that in her weakness. He approaches, cautiously-- so he does not realize how weak she is, or else he fears her enough to be cautious anyway-- and rolls her onto her back with his foot. "Open your mouth, child," he says, and unscrews the cap of the jar.

She smells it then. Bone. Delicious, dry bone. She is beyond caring why he has made the request; all she knows is that an open mouth can eat, and she opens. He pours powder from the jar into her open mouth, and it is bone, powdered to the point where she needn't chew, not crunchy but unbearably tender, so sweet it practically melts in the acid furnace of her first stomach. So good. She begins to cry again, this time in disbelief. Why is this creature feeding her when she just tried to eat him?

He walks away and sits in a chair, facing her. "There will be more of this," he says, tapping the jar, "if you are a good and obedient girl. I also have on order a supply of full fellip skeletons, and I can even provide you with carcasses if you prefer the work of rending the meat and extracting the bone yourself."

"How..." she whispers, finally recovering some of her voice. "How... did you... know?"

"Your people are hardly as mysterious as you may think. I recognized what you were instantly, dear girl. Fortunately for you I have a great need for an assassin of a species unknown to the Scarrans, strong enough to kill one and harmless-looking enough to get close. Scarran proclivities being what they are, an exotic alien female should have no trouble obtaining private time with the targets I want killed, and the brief combat I arranged with you confirmed for me that you're strong enough to get the job done."


"Yes. A killer for hire. In this case, my hire. I will pay you in my protection when you are in Peacekeeper space, and some knowledge of the galaxy, and as much bone as you can eat. When you are not on missions for me, I believe I will arrange a sanctuary for you at a Delvian meat-packing plant. Lacking bones themselves, the Delvians have no use for the calcium you crave; you may dispose of the waste product of animal skeletons for them, and they cannot be harmed by you."

A place to live where there is an endless supply of bone to eat? Slowly she struggles to sit up. "Why... do this... for me?"

"You will be useful to me. I require loyalty in those I find useful, and I find that handsome rewards in exchange for loyalty work rather better than inspiring fear. Is this amenable to you, child? You will kill the targets I request, and in exchange you will have safety and as much bone as you can desire?"

She nods frantically. With the hunger temporarily sated, she can control the urge to crack him open and devour him. It will be so much better to let him live, if he is going to give her all the bone she can want.

"Very good. I will have quarters arranged for you, and more bone powder brought to you every three arns. I think that should satisfy your hunger nicely."

Every three arns! She's used to going for days without more bone. "Thank you!"

"You're welcome. Now, you should be able to walk again. Go on out and let my soldiers escort you to quarters."

As she walks unsteadily to the door, he calls. "Oh. M'Lee?"

"Yes?" She turns.

He is not smiling now. "If even one of my soldiers turns up dead and missing bones-- or alive and missing bones-- I will have you vivisected without anesthesia. I expect you to show self-control now that you are being fed by me."

"I understand. I won't do anything to them. As long as I get as much bone as I need."

"Oh, you will, dear girl. You will."

It was so kind of John Crichton to have sent her to this place, she thinks. He spoke as if this Scorpius was a dread enemy he was hoping she'd devour, but this is working out so much better. For the first time in months, M'Lee begins, cheerily, to sing as she is escorted to her new home.