Disclaimer: TPTB have control, not me. Arisa, Artima and the story concept belong to LavenderZeo, Starfire, and myself. Thanks to Lav and Krissy for beta reading, and Niki for editing.

Love's Sacrifice
by Rangergirl

Scorpina smiled to herself as she entered the cavern deep below the surface of the planet Arisa. The crew she had hired was hard at work building the ship she had designed for her little brother as a wedding present.

"Oh, Scorpius," she whispered. "This will make you a force to be reckoned with." She then frowned, "But I will have to rid you of that Artima. She will only be a burden, her heart is not truly evil enough."

Scorpina wanted her younger brother to be happy, but she did not want Artima with him. Artima, she sensed, was not evil enough, and would be a bad influence on her brother. "I swore to Mother that I'd always protect you, little brother," she said to herself. "And I will. Artima will live long enough to produce a child for you, and then, she will die." Walking up behind one of the technicians working on the outer hull, she grabbed his shoulder. "You! How is it progressing?"

"Ma'am!" The technician stuttered nervously. "The outer hull is nearly complete…I don't know about the installation of the main components, though."

"Not good enough!" Scorpina hissed, holding her stinger at his neck. "Find out, or you will no longer have to worry about breathing…." The technician gulped and ran inside the Scorpion Stinger, presumably to find out how the progress inside the ship was going.

"Fear," Scorpina muttered to herself, "is a very useful tool." She noticed all the other workers had stopped what they were doing in order to view the confrontation. "What are you staring at? Get back to work!" she hollered. They quickly busied themselves and Scorpina stalked off in satisfaction, having no intention of bothering to listen to the technician's report. She knew, and they knew, that it would be done on schedule, or there would be dire consequences. Soon, she thought, soon everything will be in place.

A week later…

"Scorpius," Artima called softly, her light pink dress swirling about her ankles. "You're not nervous about next week, are you?" She approached her soon to be husband and kissed him lightly. "Don't be. Everything will be perfect tomorrow, and we will begin our lives together…" Scorpius smiled, something he rarely did. Artima was the first person to ever make him truly happy in over a thousand years.

She almost makes me want to give up being one of the bad guys, he sighed to himself. So beautiful and innocent. Shaking the thought away, he took her by the hand as they walked to their sleeping quarters. He had no idea what was in store for his bride-to-be as they settled in together the night before their wedding.

**Scorpius gazed around with confusion, taking in every detail of the scene surrounding him. At his feet lay Artima, a golden dagger in her chest. He touched her cheek, and found it cold, cold as death. In the distance, he could hear the frantic cries of a baby, and beyond that, so soft that he could barely hear it, evil laughter drifted on the wind**

"No!" Scorpius shouted as he sat up in bed, breathing heavily. "It was only a dream." He realized, seeing Artima beside him, her chest moving up and down softly as she slept. Squeezing her hand gently, he repeated, "only a dream." Having reassured himself, he drifted back to sleep, but was not able to shake the feeling of dread that was building in his stomach.

The wedding was a traditional Arisian ceremony, one that spanned nearly the entire day. The final part of the celebration involved the gift giving. Scorpina led her brother and his new wife out to a clearing just beyond the city. The Scorpion Stinger, as she had christened the ship, had been teleported there the day before in preparation for this event.

Upon seeing the golden, scorpion-shaped craft, Artima gasped.

"It is beautiful!" she exclaimed, impulsively hugging her sister-in-law.

"Look inside," the warrioress said uncomfortably, inwardly seething at this woman and her cheeriness. Practically pushing the two newlyweds inside the craft, she and the rest of the wedding party followed close behind.

"Magnificent!" Scorpius breathed. The interior of the ship was constructed much like the dwellings in Enamoranda, lit with dark amber lights and designed to look almost organic. All in all, it was quite unlike the sterile, brightly lit facilities most of the space-faring races in the galaxy used. It was the only one of its kind, possibly one of the most powerful ships ever seen in Arisa’s sector of the galaxy.

"Well," Scorpina cleared her throat loudly, earning the attention of the partygoers.
"I think it about time we left these two alone…in their new home,"

The years passed quickly for the couple; and four years into their marriage, Artima gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Trakeena. Every night on the eve of their anniversary, Scorpius had the same mysterious dream. It was unnerving, and somehow, he had the feeling that it was not just a dream, but more of a premonition, a warning of things to come.

Finally, it was the eve of their fifth anniversary, and now that Trakeena was a year old, she no longer was dependant solely on her mother. Scorpina decided now was the time for action, for if she waited any longer, the girl might become tainted by her mother’s pacifist tendencies. She had been planning this for years now; Scorpius would never know the truth.

She crept into her brother’s home, picking the lock easily. After thousands of years of practice, picking a lock, even one made by some of Arisa’s best locksmiths, was a simple task. With stealth that had earned her a place among the finest warriors, she crept into her brother’s sleeping room. Taking out a cloth and tying it around Artima’s mouth, she forcefully pulled the young woman out of the bed, thankful for the fact that her brother was a very heavy sleeper. Artima tried to struggle, but was no match for Scorpina, who overpowered her easily. Savoring the look of fear in the younger woman's eyes, Scorpina dragged her outside.

"Goodbye," she whispered, "You will never be a threat to my family, ever. I will not allow it," with that, she pulled a sharp, wicked-looking dagger from her boot. With no trace of hesitation or emotion, she plunged the golden dagger into Artima's chest. Once making sure her victim was dead, Scorpina left as silently as she had come.

Scorpius woke to the frantic cries of his daughter. "Artima," he whispered, turning over in the bed, "your daughter calls," Opening his eyes, he saw that his wife was not beside him. "Artima?" he said again, this time louder. Panic threatened to overtake him- in all his thousand years; he had never experienced a feeling quite like this. He rose from the bed and made his way to the darkly lit hallway that led to Trakeena's room.

"Artima?" He hoped against hope that she was simply in the child's room, attempting to calm down their daughter.

"Daddy!" Trakeena said softly as her father entered. "Where's Mommy?"

Lifting her from her bed and scooping her into his arms, he answered, "I do not know, dearest." Trakeena buried her head in her father's strong shoulder and continued her cries, although somewhat comforted by his presence.

Please, Scorpius thought to himself as he searched the house for his wife, let my dream be only a dream. If something has happened to Artima I will…his thought drifted off as he opened the door to outside. Dawn was barely beginning, and it was still quite dark outside, but Scorpius knew as soon as he saw it what it was. Turning his daughter's head away from the spectacle he gazed at his wife in shock. Her face was pale and cold, like it had never been in life, and just like it had always been in his dream, there was the dagger.

"No," he whispered. "No, no, no." He ran back into the house, a creature of evil, horrified at the sight of death. He gently put Trakeena down on his bed while he threw clothing into a bag, then picked her up again and repeated the process in her room. Once they finished, he took her up again and headed for the Scorpion Stinger, still in the same meadow, since it had only been used a few times since its construction.

"Daddy?" Trakeena said as the ship began to lift off. "Where are we going? Where's Mommy?"

"We're going away, Trakeena. And we're never coming back. Your Mommy left too, there's too many bad memories at this place." Was all Scorpius would say.

"Are we going to find her?" Trakeena asked innocently, then yawned. "I'm tired, Daddy, I want to sleep." With that, she closed her eyes and curled up against his shoulder.

The next day was a busy one, as the Scorpion Stinger sped through space towards its destination- wherever that may be.

Scorpius gazed at his daughter, who slept peacefully, and then at the cocoon. The cocoon had been maturing here for months now, and although he had felt apprehensive about entering and losing his mortal form, he knew he could no longer avoid it. Artima was all that kept him from making the complete change, and now that she was gone…he would have to be strong, for their daughter.

He knew that everyone who entered the cocoon was changed in a different way. His father had become a cyborg, and Scorpina, able to grow to a superhuman size. He wondered if he would end up completely losing all ties to his human form, as his grandfather had after he became a large scorpion, or whether he would end up like his sister- still able to change forms in some bizarre way.

It doesn't matter, he told himself. Whatever the results, I will be stronger. Trakeena will be protected.

He stepped inside the cocoon, his daughter watching wide-eyed. Once reassuring himself that the Stingwingers would keep her from harm in the few days he remained in the cocoon, he sealed it. As the yellowish structure closed in around him, he suddenly felt very exhausted. He closed his eyes and drifted into a dreamless sleep.

He awoke again three days later. He attempted to lift up a hand to rub his eyes and clear the strange blurriness that obscured his vision, and was surprised to see that his hand was not his human hand, but a tentacle. I'm in my insect form. He realized, and attempted to change back to human. Nothing. Sighing inwardly, he realized the transformation had changed him permanently into a large insect. Slowly, he pulled himself out of the cocoon. Fast asleep outside it laid Trakeena. Scorpius smiled inwardly at his daughter's dedication. In his hibernation he'd been able to sense her presence faintly, always just outside, reassuring him in her childlike way that everything was okay.

Yes, he thought, everything will turn out just fine.

The End