Chapter 2 - Intrepid

"Scout One, do you see anything?" Aeryn yelled through her comms.

"Intrepid, Sector Three is clear," Kendrell said, not 800 motras behind Aeryn's prowler, speeding his heavy delta-winged fighter to fly alongside hers.

"I see something!" Kendrell checked the tiny dots moving closer at a considerable speed, more noticeable than the dusting of stars. "Three, star board! Watch your back, Intrepid, they've returned for more."

"Then we'll toast them!" Aeryn took her handle controls, banked her prowler, then shot into chase. She was shocked at what spewed from her lips...Crichton's euphemism. Can't she ever forget him, even during battle?

Two fighters came screaming from nowhere, but Aeryn was primed and ready. One fighter was above her, the other reeling around to confuse and cause her to stall. The circling ship planted itself starboard, facing her with a relentless aim. At forty degrees, she angled away from the trap as they blasted their plasma fire. Then, as far as space allowed, she shot upward. They followed to their demise. Her cocky turn and thrust forward surprised them. Like sitting asteroids in a row, she incinerated both enemy fighters while her comm relayed Kendrell's cry for help.

"I'm hit! I'm hit!" Kendrell voice was barely distinguishable above the static.

"I'll cover you, while you escape. You cannot stay, Scout One. Do you read me? Return to the base. Do you read me?"

No response.

Aeryn saw yellow flashes race by her prowler. She had no time to recover Kendrell. She would do that after she completed the mission. She banked her fighter to miss another round of plasma fire. It was adrenalin that kept her in tune with precision, as well as her hair-pin responsive ship. It was fear that she embraced during battle situations, and to taste it on her tongue propelled her to kill or resist being killed.

But this one mercenary ship that hit Kendrell's, which they presumed was a Charrad fighter hired by the Scarrans, had to be left alive. As mandated by Aeryn's mission leader of this elite assassin ex-Peacekeeper group, they were to shoot and destroy them and leave one survivor to bring news of a Peacekeeper assault on their crafts. Though Kendrell was not an ex-Peacekeeper but a valuable rogue, his ship was painted to appear as the same markings as Aeryn's to be identified as Peackekeepers.

Aeryn, not being a politician, knew this was to deter the treaty between the Scarrans and Peacekeepers and was the only version told to her and her comrades of two days old.

Aeryn followed the ship, shooting intermittently, purposely missing after hitting it without being disabled. She followed the fighter as it shot out of scanner range into the ink blackness. Suddenly, she became aware of something.

"Scout One, if you can hear me, I have pursued the enemy craft out of Sector Three. I believe we are near the Leviathan burial grounds. I've just passed a Leviathan. It appears to be alive. You may be able to dock there. Do you read me, Scout One?"

Areyn's heart raced, her brow tightened. She was becoming concerned for Kendrell and started to turn her prowler to backtrack when she noticed her comm met an intermittent voice code, a distress call breaking through. Aeryn slowed her prowler and tried to link into the code when she saw a familiar sight. At starboard, she saw the white pod, floating aimlessly where Moya should have been.

Aeryn frantically held onto the tip of her radio comm, "Scout One, I've found something!"

Farscape One module...John's ship!

"Intrepid, do you copy?" Kendrell finally answered.

Aeryn relieved and tense all at once, still groped the tip of her comm and blurting out something undistinguishable to Kendrell.

"John, his pod, Moya, where are they? They are supposed to be here."

"Intrepid, I don't copy?"

Aeryn instantly changed her frequency to match Moya's once again. "John Crichton, do you read me? Can you respond?" Frell! No answer, only that distress call repeating.

"Intrepid," Kendrell's voice interrupted her, crackling, full of static, "I'm running out of fuel, I need to land somewhere."

"Try the Leviathan on my trajectory. You'll find it. I need to investigate this. Will you land there and wait for my return?"

"I see it! I hope they'll net me in. The pilot hasn't responded."

"Then wait, I'll be returning soon."

* * *

She tethered her prowler to Farscape One, ensuring its security, and like a towing barge she flew it into the derelict Leviathan with Kendrell waiting in the docking bay. Stench met Aeryn's nostrils when she exited her craft. Unlike Moya, this ship had little to no illumination. The walls were peeling with cables twisted, torn overhead, like exposed veins of a dying Budong. Truly, it appeared the vessel was preparing to die. But the dock was durable enough to hold the three crafts as the shadows seemed to swallow them.

"What's that contraption?" Kendrall said, arms akimbo, nodding toward the Farscape module. The male stood, dark skinned, like the underbelly shell of Moya, with brick-sprayed thick hair. A coy smile appeared as Aeryn climbed the ladder up the module and hurriedly lifted its canopy.

Aeryn turned sharply to face Kendrell without losing balance. "Don't ever go mute on me when I comm you!"

Kendrell raised his arms, standing on the docking floor. "I was hit! My comms blacked out!" Then he pointed to the module, "And who's here to greet us?"

"Frell, stop blabbing and help me! We have to revive him if he's to live."

"He?"

"Yes...he...Crichton." Aeryn rolled her eyes as she thought how helpful Kendrell had been since she joined the squad. She didn't understand why he had taken a liking to her so quickly. But then, she didn't understand John's unrequited love of her either.

Aeryn moved over, leaning against the module and allowed Kendrell to reach in to unbuckle and prop the unconscious human over his shoulder. She would have lifted him herself, but her body had not been sustaining strenuous labor and bulk weight as before. She must spar and exercise more often.

They climbed down the module. Kendrell plopped the limp form on the bay floor before her feet. Aeryn flashed her lantern light on John. The dark surrendered to the light, revealing his chiseled features. So near death--why did he appear worse? Beforehand, Areyn knew there was life left in John when she had entered his module prior tethering it. But now his breathing was too shallow and his complexion became extremely pallor in contrast to the once robust, virile man from Earth.

While on the old Leviathan's docking floor, Aeryn quickly began the resuscitation maneuver. She opened John's mouth, closed his nose and as taught by him, breathed into his lungs every fifteen seconds, pumped his chest, hoping to revive him. Then a frantic resolve overtook her, a panic...he must wake. She tried again, that familiar fear reacting again within her. It permeated her until her hands trembled and her chest squeezed tight. He may not survive. Try again.

***

Kendrell stood watching this remarkable female, ebony hair uncontainable, flowing over the unconscious one, trying to revive an already drug administered being. He stood a while, chuckling, seeing her struggle with the creature.

"It's useless, Officer," Kendrell said.

She kept counting, like an automated computer..."one...two...three...fifteen"...then she breathed into him, pumped his heart, listened, and started the routine again. Fruitless.

Kendrell continued, "I have experience in these things if you want to know. As much as I'd like you to be successful, this maneuver won't work, only some of the drugs I have in my scout will do."

Aeryn stopped abruptly, She appeared not wanting to leave her task. "What do you mean?"

That's what mesmerized him. Her orbs, huge, pleading, a steel gray, like the sky of his world. They sparkled with welled tears. If she were different, the species of his kind, he would make her his mate. But, alas, it was good to befriend this one. She needed a comrade. And he needed someone strong and smart on his side.

"Having been a Peacekeeper, I would have thought you'd have recognized that he's drug induced, inoculated with oxygen. That's the only way he could've survived this long in his condition. Look."

Kendrell crouched beside the body, showed Aeryn the reddened, purple, mark in John's arm and exposed vein made by a crude instrument, unlike modernized Peacekeeper tools that left one scar less.

Aeryn pushed her hair back, locked eyes with Kendrell, "Then we must do something, now!"

***

While Kendrell fetched the aids, Aeryn bent over John's chest to hear his heartbeat. Still faint. She fidgeted, had to do something. "Pilot?" She called for the old vessel's navigator that Kendrell had already contacted before she arrived.

"Pilot? Are you there?"

An old voice sounded through the walls, a female voice, sleepy, disjointed. "Yes?"

"Are you all right?"

"I am so sorry. It is so hard to stay awake."

"We did not mean to intrude, but someone needed aid, and we discovered Crichton." Then she said more to herself, "hopefully in time." Aeryn looked away from the light, "Pilot, I wanted to thank you for helping us."

The shaking voice came forth, "Crichton is his name? Elack and I are always glad to serve you and...and...oh my...what were you saying?" The voice trailed away while Aeryn thought no need to press any further.

Kendrell came trotting back with the life saving supplies. He held up an ochre catheter tube and a chrome probe that tapered to a sharp point.

"This," Kendrell said, "will sustain him by absorbing bladder fluids within his system. Then when he wakes and finds a need to pee--" Aeryn appeared incredulous "--or urine, it will discharge naturally." He grinned, placed the tube within the probe, pulled away John's black coat, vest, and loosened the T-shirt from his belted black leather pants to expose the bladder area. Kendrell looked at Aeryn squinting, "He's well dressed for a Peacekeeper in black."

Aeryn gave Kendrell a scorned look. "He is not a Peacekeeper or Sebacian, he is a human from Earth. Will this work?"

"Let's find out." Before Aeryn could contest Kendrell, he exposed John's tender flesh and stabbed the spike instrument in.

Aeryn, though she witnessed victims being tortured and stood unfeeling, unseeing in her Peacekeeper days, she flinched at John's body writhing, twisting in a mangled form. She had too much sympathy, compassion for this human, so fragile to her violent world. Then the shaking quickly abated and John's body relaxed. Aeryn released a moan.

"Shouldn't we revive him?" she asked.

"No. He has to wake on his own. Not only that, he may die from shock if he's artificially awakened. It must be natural. But I have this, too!" Kendrell held up another tube, red this time. "This will digest in his bloodstream and nourish him for days to come." He slammed the thing into the probe and positioned it to stab. Aeryn put her hand up to stop him.

"He may not be able to stand it this time." Aeryn still blocked Kendrell's arm from the horrified act.

"Alas, Officer, take courage. Without this, he wouldn't survive anyway, so grit your teeth and watch."

She let go and Kendrell stuck the thing back into John's side, leaving no visible marks. But John's body contorted alive with violence, stronger this time. The lights and shadows ripped John's countenance, his face reflecting pure agony. Aeryn's strained. She couldn't hide her heart drumming in her ears. He gyrated for nearly a quarter of an arn.

Aeryn's hope dissipated. In a fury she turned on Kendrell, grabbed him by his collar and slammed him on the floor.

"You're killing him!"

"No, I didn't know how he would react. Wait! Look behind you!"

She turned and once again, John's tremors ceased.

Kendrell sat up and sighed, "See, he has to eat."

"Oh, food." Aeryn said, wearily, looking at John's resting body. "He'd be hungry when he wakes."

Kendrell took her hand, "Why the interest?"

Aeryn didn't welcome his intrusion. Though at first, she wanted to ignore it, but decided not.

"He is..." She inhaled for control. "He is unique in the universe. Perhaps one day he will save your life." Aeryn's voice lowered, locked eyes with Kendrell's, "Or take yours."

"Joke on. But I've known you for two days, and your people have a tendency to be forthright--thrills and laces, secret tunnels and places, spies, directorates. Officer Sun, at this moment, I find there is more about this creature you aren't telling me."

"Not for you to know."

They were both sitting on the dock floor with legs crossed beside John Crichton's sleeping figure. Aeryn noticed blush returning to his cheeks. Strangely, that comforted her, his complexion returning. John coming back. Aeryn closed her eyes.

Kendrell smiled, wryly. "Why risk our returning to the squad because of this being. You do know we report what we find, don't you? Do you want him discovered?"

Aeryn didn't answer.

"You will need to tell me if you desire this confidential." Aeryn knew Kendrell wanted her to take the bait. This time, she would fulfill this stranger's curiosity for Crichton's sake. She couldn't let anyone know of John's existence, as there were wanted beacons everywhere. And John was far more valuable than her. She would never turn him in. Then warm moments flooded her thoughts, closeness, John caressing her ivory skin, being comforted, held with strong arms, John's strong arms. Even if this John may be the copy, she owed him her protection.

Aeryn propped herself out of her slumped position and straightened her back in the dark. "I know how to handle pain. I can control it by mere concentration. Focus. Determination. I have the skills to survive, to patch wounds, set broken bones, and even accept disfigurement of scars. In short, I was trained to endure pain.

"Emotions...?" She stopped, paused for microts.

Emotions? How could she explain what happened between her and John? The purity of their devotion--she never had seen anything close to his passion, his adoration of her. His crystal blue eyes filled her, his sweet smile beckoned her, so rapturous, so, so complete.

She struggled to say the words it seemed for a long while. The tears were coming. She pushed them back while she remembered cuddling with her John and learning to read English and preparing to go to Earth with him--to love him always. But that dream dissipated when he died in her arms. The memory cut her like a fresh wound. Breathe. Control. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, never looking away from John's still figure, the mirror of her love.

"We as Peacekeepers were never taught how to control the emotions this human has displayed. And...and yet, alien to me...I have them, too." Her face tightened. Kendrell caressed her hand. She had to release these words into the air so they wouldn't haunt her--but they ricocheted in her ears to cut her soul.

"All my life I learned to reject softness, through my childhood, until now. Now somehow, I find his softness to be strength."

Aeryn's voice lulled to a purr. "This contradiction has ruined me." She turned toward Kendrell, "Does your race know of compassion?"

Kendrell chuckled, "Somewhat."

Aeryn stiffened. "Then don't try the same thing John has." She pulled away her hand.

Kendrell laughed, "Poor victim John, not me. I don't care what you think."

Aeryn squinted at Kendrell with angry eyes. "Do you want me to finish?"

"Finish then."

That night had become one of confiding, an abnormal trait for Aeryn. But this moment proved important to her, the saving of John's life and disposal of secret memories.

"Mmmm...I once thought he was a lesser species--intolerable, useless, weak. Not anymore--another contradiction."

Kendrell touched Aeryn's hand. "You've learned much for an ex-Peacekeeper," he said.

Aeryn faced him, "I've learned to accept this human, John Crichton."

"For Peacekeepers that is a tremendous milestone. You've had a change of heart."

Aeryn smiled, wickedly , "Shut the frell up and let's work. And if I hear a word of this, I'll kill you myself." They got up to repair the Scout. Aeryn in black with pulse pistol in holster, strapped on her thigh, and Kendrell in dark teal with blaster in holster, strapped to his chest.

***

They had planned with Pilot and Elack to leave John in his module. Pilot was not to tell John that Aeryn and Kendrell had actually saved his life. Pilot promised they would never tell in order to save everyone's life.

Before they put John back into his module, Aeryn asked Kendrell to wait and give her a few microts before leaving. She needed to say goodbye. With John comatose, Aeryn had no pressure of confronting him or explaining why she left Moya or why she was doing this unresisting act of saying goodbye. He couldn't feel her, hear, or touch her.

Aeryn stealthily, quietly, as if not to wake him, bent over John, hearing his steady breathing. Then she touched his shoulder, ran her fingers through his hair. An overwhelming urge washed over her to stroke his powerful neck that appeared like the marble statues of great heroes past. She kissed upward from his neck to his ear, tasted his soft supple skin, then ascended to stroke his rough chin, kneading his bearded growth of two days old. Her face contacted his and she caressed with her nose, her cheek to feel him once more, grazing his lips with her fingertips, then her mouth, good firm lips, and tasted them. When she felt warmth come from his mouth, a sweet rush passed through her, exactly the same wonder as her true love. Her tears meshed with his skin. Her John she loved. This John she would never allow to die.

Time passed quickly. Kendrell was returning in a few monens with cables and patching metals to finish repairing the Scout. She lingered too long. She came back up for air and wiped her tears.

One more microt. Just one.

Aeryn leaned again. A single tear etched a pathway down her cheek to rain on John's lips. She whispered in his ear what she had told him on Moya before leaving him. "You said fate is what brought us together. If that is so, then we'll be together again. Goodbye, John Crichton."

***

For John Crichton, darkness always claimed space. But days came with the sun. Aeryn Sun.

Part 3: Countdown >>

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Story by Cathy Hubbard

Beta readers: I thank Ennix Sun for her excellent keen eye proof of grammar & understanding the characters. Phi Phi Trelk for checking it out and giving this a look over. Thank for your changes. Though subtle and surprisingly few, they were impactive. ScaperRed for her ingenuous and scholarly latest addition of "fixies." She can POLISH a story. (Also Julia, Eva... you guys encouraged me and helped with lots of fixies.)

Disclaimer: Henson, Creation, the characters, belong to them. Adu, Palimous, the Regent, & other extras like the Spherical and Yontur are mine. No money exchanged, no profit involved.

Rating: PG-13 for Adult Themes/Violence Genre: Drama/Comedy/
Shippiness/Action and Adventure

 
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