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Creature Comforts

Dallascaper's note: Creature Comforts takes place between the events of Thanks for Sharing and Fractures.

A Farscape Fan Fic by Rozi

John's eye scanned the stall of the commerce planet thoughtfully; a shiny array of brightly coloured bottles caught his eye. They were quite pretty, he thought, maybe I could just- he reached out to a glimmering red bottle, pulled the stopper and took a long, deep, sniff.

It smelt so familiar... it was just like...

Aeryn's hair.

He replaced the stopper again. Man, he thought, I am a sad, pathetic guy. I can't just buy this because of-

"You like it Peacekeeper?"

Crichton's head turned, standing behind the stall was a plump woman with long green hair and pitch-black skin. Her face was one of those kindly saleswomen who would gently urge you into buying something.

John rubbed the bottle with his thumb.

Oh, what the hell.

"How much for this?"

He strode off to look for the others, he pushed his way through the crowd and came across Chiana. The young Nebari was looking through her cloth bag at her 'purchases'; she had lifted a bottle out of the bag and was examining it. It was very similar to the one Crichton had just bought.

"Bought or stolen?" He asked.

"What do you think?" She replied coyly.

John let it go, he knew the answer. "Have you seen D'argo or Jool anywhere?"

"D'argo went to buy supplies and I think little-miss-princess went shopping," answered Chiana, sniffing the bottle.

"We'd best get back to the transport pod soon."

"Sure."

Chiana looked at the bottle in John's hand "You got that 'cause it reminded you of someone?"

"What? What are you? I mean..." His voice trailed off under the Nebari's skeptical gaze.

"That's real cute John," she purred.

"Leave off Pip."

"No need to be like that, that's why I got this," she held up her bottle "I stole this stuff from Zhaan's apothecary once. It's Bassem oil, the smell kinda reminds me of her."

"Oh."

"I miss her a lot."

"Don't we all," muttered Crichton. Chiana sighed and quickly changed the subject "I'll... go back to Transport pod and wait for you."

"Cool, I'll go find D and Jool."

Jool was huffing through the stalls angrily, fuming at the things on offer, how dare they charge that much for so much... DREN! Back home there were such beautiful things in the markets. Perfume, clothes, pottery and books! How she missed it! She missed home, her parents, family, friends and, she sobbed as she thought, little Tricket.

Her little pet Tricket, poor thing; he must be missing her so much. If he was still alive that is.

She suddenly found herself staring at a secluded little stall, which housed a menagerie of... creatures.   Allsorts of strange snouts, beaks and claws whistled, barked, squeaked and chatted from behind bars and on top of stands at her as she edged closer.

"Ah! My dear beautiful princess! See something you fancy?"

The cry caught her slightly off guard; it came from the apparent owner of the stall. He was a fat, short man with several pairs of arms and one eye in the middle of his forehead. He grinned with a mouldy set of jagged teeth "I'm sure we will find something worthy of your... heavenly face! Why, to gaze upon it is to gaze upon the goddess of beauty herself!"

Jool couldn't help but feel flattered.

"We have many creatures from all over the Uncharted Territories, trelkez, exotic me'cash (all the way from Delvia my good woman!) And the best breeds of trunkas this side of Peacekeeper territory!"

Jool gazed at the animals "I wouldn't mind something, well behaved and easy to keep."

"Well! Look no further! How about a me'cash? They make an excellent pet, their singing soothes you to sleep and also," he smacked his lips "make an excellent pie if served well-"

"AWWWW!!" Jool's sudden shriek made the vender jump and cover what could pass as his ears. She dived towards a cage that held the object of her affections.

If John Crichton had been the one to gaze at the creature, he would have commented that it looked rather like a cat, squirrel and skunk hybrid. It gazed at Jool with bright, shiny and, quite frankly, adorable eyes. It ruffled it's black fur, yawned and then sneezed. It was quite cute really.

"It's so adorable!" Jool cooed.

"Yes, this is a karret. They originate from the jungle moons in the Kasira system, they are very good pets. Clean and well behaved..." the vender was wondering how long it would take for her to take a hint.

"What to they eat?"

"Oh, anything you put in front of them! Plants, meat, food cubes... so try not to put your finger in front of them, they have a very nasty bite."

Jool gave it a thought, on the one hand, it was so cute, it was clean, she'd keep it out of the way on Moya, she could feed it with her share of food cubes and... it would be like having Tricket back again. On the other hand, D'argo would be angry, Chiana (the little trelk!) would probably sell it to a fur trader and as for John...

He might understand, he was much more sympathetic than the others. She rather liked him, but still didn't like him that much. He did cut up her poor cousin's brain. Pilot might not like the idea of the little cutie running around...

OH FRELL THEM! They had no right to tell her what to do; she was not about to take orders from them! If she wanted a pet then she was frelling going to get a pet! Whether they liked it not! So there!

"How much?"

"To you, one hundred credmers."

"What!? One hundred? No frelling way! Fifty!"

"Fifty is an insult!"

"I don't give a dren, fifty."

"Ninety-five!"

"Sixty!"

"Ninety!"

Jool realised that this was going to go on for quite some time, so she tried a little trick she learned when trying to bargain for a dress back in the markets at home.

"Eighty."

"Seventy five!" The vender was sweating.

"DEAL!" Jool squealed with triumph. The street vender gave up, the oldest trick ever and he'd fallen for it. Oh frell it, he wanted to see the back of the annoying little dren anyway (and the karret to). "Fine! Take it!" He cried.

Jool handed over the money and took the cage with the little karret in it. As walked back through the street she cooed at the thing "Izzywuzzy woo! Wooes a ickle cutie? You are! Yes you are!"

John nearly bumped into here as she head back to the transport pod. "Hey Jool," he greeted her with a smile. She quickly hid the cage in her bag "Hello Crichton, are we going?"

"Yeah, I found D'argo, we need to leave a.s.a.p."

"Good, I can't wait to leave this piss hole of a planet."

John felt a stab in his memory. That's roughly what Aeryn said on their first visit to a commerce planet... "Yeah," he said, bringing his brain back to the present "Let's go."

Back on the transport pod, Jool looked into the bag at the very bedraggled looking karret. She carefully put a food cube into the cage for him to eat "I'm never going to let anything bad happen to you, mommy's going to protect you."

"Who're talking to?" Chiana asked.

Jool looked up in alarm "None of your frelling business!" She cried in shock and covered her bag quickly. Chiana's face took on an expression of false shock "Sor-ry! Who put a bug up your eema?"

"Children, can't you save it till we get home?" John cried to the back.

Jool and Chiana scowled at each other and looked away out of the window.

Back on board Moya, Jool was letting Tricket the second settle in. She put his cage down in her quarters and opened the door, "Come on ickle baby, this is your new home," she gurgled encouragingly. It poked it's head half way out, looked around and tucked it back in again. Jool smiled, "Come on, I won't hurt you..." She said and sighed. She needed... encouragement. She picked up more food cubes from her bag and laid them out in a trail towards her arms, she waited. The karret poked its head out of the cage and saw the food cubes. It leapt out to follow the trail, swallowing each food cube one by one. Jool leapt forward and scooped it up, it squirmed a bit, but then calmed down when it realised that if it stayed longer it might get some more food. She cuddled it tightly and cooed, "Aren't you just the sweetest little thing?"

"Where the hezmana did that thing come from?"

Jool turned at the voice; D'argo was standing in the doorway, arms folded. Jool was lost for words for a moment, but she bunched up her face defiantly "This is a karret, his name is Tricket the Second and he's mine."

"He is leaving!" D'argo marched towards Jool "Believe me, we DON'T want that thing on here because they cause trouble!"

Jool shielded Tricket away from him "What possible trouble could he cause? Look!" She held up Tricket to his face, the Luxen glared at it "I'll it's sweet but-" He then had to duck as it hissed and swung a claw at his face. Jool tugged him away from D'argo's face and hugged him close "You upset him," she snarled accusingly. She stroked Tricket lovingly whilst D'argo glared at it. "Jool?" He said sweetly.

"Hmmm?"

"If you don't get rid of it, then I'll jettison it!" He cried making a leap for it. Jool let out an eardrum-bursting scream at the top of her lungs and D'argo was forced to cover his ears.

Jool ran down the corridor "You are not laying a finger on him! You'll have to come through me first!" She cried as she ran. She ran into Command and saw John staring out of the viewer. "HELP! He's trying to kill my karret!" She squealed.

"What?" Just when John thought he was hearing things he saw Jool run towards him with the little fur-ball in her hands. D'argo followed her angrily into Command "That thing is not staying!" He cried, "John, back me up, we can't let that thing stay here! Remember the vorc?"

John looked at the creature curled up in Jool's arms and sighed. "God, not again," he muttered. Out loud he said "Look, Jool, I know that thing is cute, adorable and fluffy, but believe me, the last thing we need is sweet little alien critters."

"He won't hurt a living soul!" Jool wailed.

"At the moment, but we don't know what that thing could do. It could eat us all alive, multiply, spew acid crap for all we know!" He leaned back on the control panel "Next commerce planet we get to, we leave it there-"

"NO!"

"Jool, stop being so childish-" D'argo began.

"None of you have been nice to me! None of you like me! Tricket is the only thing that has shown a little bit of kindness towards me! You are not getting rid of him!" She screamed.

John hung his head, he understood what Jool meant and he remembered when his Dad wouldn't let his dog come with him to summer camp when he was ten. God, he was so afraid of being by himself with no one else who knew him that he desperately wanted at least his dog with him. Of course, this was different; he knew his dog wouldn't turn into a parasitic alien. "Sorry Jool that thing's got to go."

"NO!"

"D'argo?"

They carried Jool as kindly as they could back to her quarters and prised the karret out her hands. Trying desperately to ignore the screeches from Jool they placed her in her quarters and shut the door. "You frelling bastards!" She screamed, "How dare you! You are not my dad! You have no right to do this!" They walked off with the karret struggling in its cage.

 

D'argo and Crichton headed towards the docking bays "I say we just throw it out," snarled D'argo "We'd be better off, who knows what it could do if left alone?" John sighed "Yeah, I know, but we have to be sympathetic, you have to admit, we haven't been nice to Jool lately," he said.

"No."

"Besides, what harm can it do at the moment? It's in a cage and it doesn't look as if it will get out."

"You don't know that John."

"True, but it is kinda cute."

"It's a vicious little dren."

John looked at the thing in the cage, "Hey lil'guy-" it swiped at him with a needle filled paw and caught him on the nose "OW!" cried John, and swore as only an earthman could.

"Told you," remarked D'argo.

John glared at him, holding his bleeding nose "Very funny," he growled "We still ain't gonna jettison it."

Jool sat in her room sobbing, she was angry, really angry. She tapped her com "Pilot?" She said.

"Yes Jool?" came the reply.

"When will we get to the next commerce planet?"

"In the next quarter arn, I already know that they are going to put your pet there."

"We can't just abandon him! It's cruel!"

"I'm sorry Jool, but they are right. We have to leave it, for Moya and all of your safety."

"But, he's... mine..." Jool sobbed again.

"I am so sorry."

A quarter of an arn later the smoky, busy air of the commerce planet was in their lungs. They stood in an alley, Jool held the cage with Tricket in it and John put his hand on her shoulder "Right Jool, I'm sorry to do this to you, but the carrot has got to go," Crichton said firmly, he was starting to feel like his dad "We can't risk everyone else on Moya."

Jool nodded mournfully and opened the door to the cage, "Out you go," she said quietly. The creature leapt out without too much fight and hopped away. Jool turned away and sobbed into John's shoulder, he hugged her tight "I'm sure he'll find somewhere nice to live," he whispered reassuringly, even though he had a feeling that five minutes later it will probably get hit with by what ever passed for a car around here. Carrot road kill. "Come on, we'd better get back." They turned to walk away.

What John didn't notice was Jool opening the cage door, inside was a pile of food cubes. She felt the slight increase of weight and the cage jolted.

She grinned, success.

Back on the transport pod she held the cage tightly to her and didn't say a word on the way back. If any one tried to say anything to her, John would signal to leave her be. Chiana however was never always to take orders. "I'm sorry you had to get rid of the little fur ball," she said.

Jool scowled "No you're not."

Chiana grinned, "Nope, you're right!"

"Chi, be a bit more sympathetic will you?" John called back from the controls. D'argo fumed "Personally, I'm glad we got rid of it."

"Yeah, but now that we did, we got to be a little nicer to her."

"Fine, as long as I never see it again."

"What're you complaining about? The little bastard got me on the nose, it didn't give you a scratch."

"I don't like cute little furry creatures. They mean trouble."

John sighed "Good thing you never saw Bambi," he muttered.

When they docked and got out Jool turned to the others "Can I go to my quarters? I want to be alone for a while."

"Why? It's not as if you lost anyone important," spat Chiana disgustedly.

"Sure Jool, if you need anything just bleep," said Crichton, giving Chiana a look.

"Thank you John."

Jool almost felt guilty about betraying his trust, but not really that guilty. She waited until the doors to her quarters were shut, took off her com and hid it in her bag, which was then stuffed under her bed. She sat down on her bed, put the cage on her lap and opened the door. Tricket hopped onto her lap and looked up at her with the biggest pair of eyes she had ever seen "Told you," Jool gurgled "Mommy's never ever gonna let anything bad happen to you!"

In her quarters, Jool bumped Tricket on her knee, singing an Interon lullaby and smiling happily. "Who's my little baby? You are! You are!" She cooed, tickling it under the chin.

"Didn't we dump that thing?"

Jool turned in horror; Chiana was standing in the door arms folded and a very smug expression on her face. "Well well! Looks like the little dren didn't leave after all, oh dear! I'll have to tell the others-"

"NO!" Squealed Jool "Please don't! They'll throw him into space!" 

"Make it worth my while."

"What?!"

"If I have a little... encouragement, I might keep quiet."

Jool glared angrily "I will not be blackmailed by a little slut like you!" She held Tricket close.

Chiana smiled and her finger lazily danced towards her com "Oh John, there's something you might like to know-" She started. Jool lunged at her and knocked her to the floor "Don't you dare!" She hissed pinning her there. 

"What's going on up there?" Came the reply over the com. 

Chiana smiled meaningfully "Oh nothing John, Jool was just about to go and fetch me a drink" she said slyly "and do my chores as well, since she is so nice."                                                                 

Jool glared and let Chiana up "You are so dead!" She muttered, walking off to do as she was asked. Chiana laid back in Jool's quarters and laughed "Chi? What the hell is-" John asked over the com again. 

"Like I said, nothing." 

Muttering to herself angrily, Jool stamped to the slues chamber to do Chiana's washing, she bumped into John on the way "Hey Jool, what's up? You look upset," he greeted. 

"Frell off John, I'm busy," she spat. 

"Sorry." 

John walked away to his quarters, she'd probably still upset from Tricket, best thing is to let her deal with it. He opened the door, looked around to check no one was looking, went in and sat down on the bed. No one's around, he thought, good. He reached under the bed and got out the perfume bottle. He stared at it for a long time, the bottle made pretty patterns in the light as he turned it over and over in his hands. This is sad, he thought, really sad. I can't do this to myself, I'll go bonkers over all this. 

But one little sniff's not going to do any harm. Just jog my memory. 

He carefully unstoppered the bottle and very, very carefully let a drop onto his hand. He rubbed it in and took a deep breath of the scent. God, it was just like having her back. He closed his eyes and let the memories wash over him quietly. At least she's alive now. Okay she was with someone else, but at least it was with him... sort of... besides, they might not even be together! They might just be friends... and Rygel might give away all his possessions to needy children. They are probably having sex as he thought this! They are probably having a great time together! Hell, she's probably forgotten all about me! 

He sat up, just one more sniff. Jog my memory a bit more... he carefully opened the bottle again and edged it towards his palm and the whole ship rocked violently. The room shook and John dropped the bottle and its contents. The scented oil splashed all over his hands in a sticky mess, the smell was no longer arousing so much as pungent. "Oh damn!" He cursed "What the hell just happened?" 

A call came over his com "Commander! There is something wrong with Moya!" Pilot's worried tone was now even more panicked "I don't what it is, but she's convulsing! Her air vents are starting to block up!" 

Oh this is bad. 

"On my way Pilot!" 

As John turned to run out the door, he saw something, wasn't sure what, dart rapidly through the air duct in the corner of his room "What the-?" He thought he imagined it at first, he crouched down to look in the duct and saw nothing. 

Harvey, stop doing this right now!  

"Doing what?" The every annoying neural clone appeared in view, sitting on John's bed. John turned angrily "You're frelling with my mind!"

"I am doing nothing, I think there might be something in there," the clone said calmly. 

John glared "Might be the reason Moya's acting strange." 

"Well done, there I was thinking you were completely brain-dead! There is light at the end of the tunnel!" The clone proclaimed sarcastically.

Never before had John been so tempted to shot himself in the head, just to get rid of Harvey. "Piss off Harvey," John spat and strode quickly to Pilot's den.

Jool had felt the rumble of the ship and the sluice chamber's air supply was becoming thin. Running out and sealing the chamber she released Tricket was still with Chiana in her quarters "Tricket!" She cried out.

She dashed maniacally to her quarters and saw Chiana. But looking around, she couldn't see Tricket anywhere. In a flash of anger and panic she advanced on Chiana with a look of fury in her eyes "Where the frell is Tricket?!" She cried grabbing the Nebari by the front of her shirt "Where is he?!"

Chiana, surprised by Jool's strength, glared "I don't know! He was here a microt ago-"

"You were supposed to watch him!"

"I didn't say that!"

"He's gone! He's probably lost, scared and alone, especially when the ship's acting fahrbot!"

Chiana stared in disbelief, how could this girl have her priorities so screwed up?! "Princess," she said calmly, brushing Jool off and then launching into hysterics of her own "You're the one who's fahrbot! Who give's a trunkas-eema about that little furball? Worry about us!"

"But Tricket-"

"Shut up! I'm going to see Pilot, you can stay here and look for the little dren, but I'm going to see what's wrong with Moya!"

Chiana strode off, leaving Jool alone in her quarters. She screwed up her face, that little trelk! How could she be so mean to Tricket? What had he ever done to her? Right! She was going to look for him, frell Chiana! Frell them all!

She found a torch in a pile in her room and stalked off through the ship looking for Tricket.

Chiana ran. Jool could die on some crazy mission to find her precious pet, but she wanted to live!

She collided with John on the way "Whoops!" He cried.

"Sorry John, but there's-"

"Yeah I know, Moya's gone funky on us, where's Jool?"

"She's-" Chiana stopped, as much as she hated Jool, if they found out that she had blackmailed Jool about Tricket, there would be trouble "Gone somewhere, I don't know where."

"Fine, Pilot's called her, she's probably on her way. We best'd be going to."

Chiana nodded and caught sight of John's hands, they were covered with a strange, sticky substance "Looked as if you having fun," She said coyly "thinking of someone special?"

John glared "Very funny," he said, wiping his hands on his shirt "let's get going."

They arrived in Pilot's chamber; D'argo and several DRDs were there. The Luxan looked up "You two see what's happening to Moya?"

"Yeah, she's having some sort of attack," said John "the whole place rocked like a Iron Maiden concert."

Pilot looked worried, but then he always did, "I am not sure what is happening to her," he said "she has convulsions at irregular rates and her air ducts have sealed up on the lower tiers and the pressure there is building up to dangerous levels. D'argo reported that she is secreting some sort of green slimy substance from the walls of his quarters."

"I nearly slipped over in it," agreed D'argo "it virtually covered the whole floor."

Crichton groaned "Sounds bad."

"It gets worse."

"How?"

"We have no idea what's causing it."

"Great."

"I believe it's an allergic reaction," supplied Pilot "the symptoms match with one."

"Well what's Moya allergic to?" Asked Chiana.

Pilot looked at his panels "Several things, they are listed in the forbidden cargoes."

"Like what?"

"Melih powder, zemhian flower spore, terleum serum..." Everyone had a feeling that he could go on for a long time.

John's mind whirred rapidly; did he bring anything on board? What about the perfume? Did that have anything in it? It couldn't do, Zhaan had perfume like it in her apothecary and it didn't effect Moya then. What was going on? What was causing it?

Then, from somewhere in the back of his mind, a little thought Harvey said quietly "What about the thing you saw in the air duct?"

"Hey, guys," he said aloud "what about live cargo? Is Moya allergic to any live cargo?"

"Live cargo?" asked Pilot.

"Earlier, I saw something in the ducts-"

"John..." said D'argo "you could be-"

"I wasn't wrong last time was I? I swear on my dad's life I saw something in the ducts!"

"Alright, they might be something in there, but what?"

John shrugged "I don't know! We didn't bring any live animals... on ... board..." he trailed away.

D'argo growled "Oh yes we did!"

"But I saw her get rid of it! I saw her drop it off!"

They looked at each other; then again, Jool was determined and stubborn. She didn't give up easily.

John turned to Pilot "Tell me, is Moya allergic to carrots?"

"Yes," said Pilot consulting his panels "Moya is allergic to them, quite strongly in fact."

John took a deep breath, tapped his com and spoke in the sing song tones of those about to administer a lecture "Oh Jo-ol? Could you come up here please? Now!"

Jool panicked as she ran to Pilot's den, how the frell did they find out? Chiana must've talked! That little slut! She must have told them about Tricket! Jool got to the den and fell under the heavy, angry and smug gazes of the group. She lowered her head and walked nervously towards them. She looked up and the gazes remained as she spoke "Look, I'm sorry-" She began.

"Sorry? SORRY?!" Growled D'argo, advancing on the unfortunate Interon "That won't help the fact that there is a creature running around in the air ducts that is causing Moya to have an allergic reaction!"

"It might not be Tricket..." squeaked Jool.

"What else could it be?!"

"Well... Chiana knew about it! She tried to blackmail me!" Jool pointed to her accusingly.

They all turned to look at Chiana who cowered "Well... er..." she began.

"For the love of FRELL!" D'argo roared "You girls will kill me one day!"

"Whoa whoa! Time out grizzly!" John cried out, grabbing D'argo's arm "This isn't going to help either! Let's just clam down and-"

Just then, the ship rocked violently again, knocking Jool into D'argo, Chiana in Pilot's panels and John over the edge of the stand. When everyone had got their bearings, they realised John was gone. "John?" D'argo called.

There was a gasp and a groan from below D'argo's feet "Down here!"

They looked down into the chasm below Pilot's den, John was holding on for dear life and glaring up at D'argo "A little help here?!" He grunted.

The Luxan held out a hand to John and tugged him up with surprising ease. The nearly traumatised Crichton staggered on the platform and glared at the company.

"You alright John?" D'argo asked.

"That's it! I have had it! ," Growled John "When I find that little bastard I am so going to jettison it's furry little ass into SPACE! All those in favour say aye!"

"Aye," agreed D'argo.

"Aye-aye!" Chiana cried.

"No wait! You can't-" Jool cried out to the retreating backs.

Chiana patted Jool on the shoulders "Face it princess," she said with a smirk "You're out voted."

The hunt began. John and D'argo, armed with a pulse rifle and Qualta Blade hunted the top tiers and Chiana and Jool went to the lowest tiers that weren't sealed up.

Jool hurried ahead of Chiana, making clicking noises with her tongue and calling Tricket's name "Come here baby! Mommy's here! Come on out for me please!" She cried desperately.

Chiana rolled her eyes "Will you give it a rest!"

"NO!"

Chiana sneered "If you hadn't brought that thing on board we wouldn't be in this mess!"

"Well if you'd been a bit nicer to me then I wouldn't have brought him on board!"

"It's hard to be nice to annoying, screeching, whining little cry-baby!"

"You irritating, nasty, barbaric little TRELK!"

They stopped, glared at each other and took a deep breath "I think it is best," said Chiana calmly "if we split up."

"I agree," said Jool "You go that way and I'll go this way."

"Fine."

"Good."

"Great!"

They stormed off in opposite directions, muttering insults and the like.

"I think it's still in the air ducts," said John, cocking the rifle "probably hungry by now, how about if we set a trap?"

"Good idea, what about food cubes?" D'argo replied, brandishing the Qualta rifle "I saw Jool feeding them to it-"

"Crap!" The curse was followed by several blasts from the pulse rifle "I saw something in that duct!"

D'argo knelt down and looked into the duct "It's gone!"

"Damn, well at least we know where it is," he tapped his com "Jool? Pip? You there?"

Chiana was kneeling down by a duct; firing shots into it and didn't hear the call over the com. She stood up as the call came again "Chi? You there?"

"Yeah, I think I saw it in this duct and I'm just trying to-"

"What? I just saw it in this duct!"

"You must be imagining things."

"I don't think so..."

"I following this trail to a big duct, I can crawl in that way and get a better shot."

"Careful, the ducts are sealing up, you don't want to become the Uncharted Territories' first Nebari pancake."

"I know," said Chiana, wondering briefly what a pancake was.

She reached the big duct way, pulled aside the grating, brandished her pulse rifle and cried out "Alright you little son-of-a-trelk! I've got-" She stopped when she saw what was in the duct.

The karret was there alright, but it was lying on it's side and all around it were a least ten little pink shapes all digging their faces into the karret's side. At first, Chiana thought they were suckling, but when the pink shapes turned to look at her she stared in horror.

They were eating it!

The pink shapes focused, they looked like the karret except they were small and hair-less. They bared several pairs of shape teeth, dripping with blood and some of them were fighting over pieces of the karret. The one nearest to Chiana hissed at her.

Pulling herself together, she pointed the rifle towards the litter and fired several shots before they all scattered down the duct way. Chiana looked down the dark duct; she missed them all, dren!

Suddenly, Moya heaved violently and Chiana rolled out of the duct before the sides started to swell and close tightly into a little passageway. She panted for breath and tried to take in what she saw.

"Her highness is not going to like this!" She breathed.

"God, what a mess," Crichton said flicking his touch around the swelled vent "it's been half eaten!"

"John! Please!" Jool sobbed "Those barbaric little... little.. THINGS ate Tricket! It's disgusting!" 

"I am sorry Jool," said Pilot over the coms "I did not realize that these creatures ate the mother of the litter after the birth."

"I didn't even know she was a SHE!" Wailed Jool "Why poor little Tricket?" 

"It is apparently what these things do, when the female karret reaches one cycle it self-pregnates. The litter are born carnivores, they become omnivores as they reach two weekans. The litter is born and the karret dies from exhaustion, so the young's only source of food is the mother's carcass-" 

"STOP! I can't take this any more!" Jool cried "It's horrible!" 

"Hey, that's nature princess," Chiana said with not the slightest touch of sympathy. Jool scowled angrily.

"Pilot?" Crichton crawled out of the vent "why didn't you tell us this earlier?" 

"I am sorry, I didn't know commander, I have only just scanned my data files for this species' profile. Also, it is not the adult karret that causes the reactions in Leviathans but the young. They secret a special oil through the skin that causes the reactions," Pilot sighed apologetically "Jool was right, it wasn't Tricket that was causing the reactions, it was her litter."

Jool grinned triumphantly.

"These things have to be found, Moya's reactions are getting worse and they are spreading through out the ship. If they are not stopped soon-"

"We are all so totally screwed," interrupted John "let's go people!"

They set off again, armed with pulse rifles and determined to find them. John and D'argo headed along the air ducts on the lower tiers and Jool and Chiana investigated the higher tiers. 

John pointed his gun around corners and D'argo inspected the vents "She's defiantly getting worse," D'argo said "look at these vents, you can't even fit a finger through there!" 

"Yeah, looks bad."

"What was Jool thinking?"

Crichton shook his head "I have no idea, but let's find them before ARRRGH!" He jumped up and down screaming and cursing violently "there's one on my frelling FOOT! D'argo!"

A karret young had sneaked up on John and had bitten into his foot, it's sharp teeth penetrating his boot and it wasn't going to let go in a hurry. "DON'T JUST STAND THERE! SHOOT IT!"

D'argo aimed carefully, but it was hard with John leaping around and trying to shake it off. "Stand still! I can't hit it if you don't stand still!"

"Frelling mother of GOD! GET IT OFF!" 

D'argo shot at it and missed, hitting an opposite wall. The karret dropped off John's foot, lunged at D'argo and landed on his chest, hissing and spitting. D'argo cried in alarm, pulled it off and threw it against the opposite wall. It flew like a hissing Frisbee and hit the wall hard, but got up quickly before the two astonished men could take a shot. 

They recovered their senses and shot at it desperately, but missed and it dived away down the corridor. 

D'argo turned to his human friend "You alright?"

Crichton glared "Just peachy," he spat, his voice dripping with sarcasm "I had a nasty little critter bit into my foot, but apart from that-"

"We have to let Jool take a look at you," the Luxan said, ignoring the sarcastic tone "who knows what diseases that thing could be carrying?"

"Thanks for making me feel so much better D." 

D'argo tapped his com "Chiana? You there?"

"Yep, what's wrong?" She replied.

"Crichton's just been bitten by one of these things so careful when you see one, they seem to have quite a nasty bite-" 

"No problem D'argo, I'll keep a look out."

"Tell Jool to come up to the lab to treat John." 

"Sure, we'll keep looking and I'll send her up in a while." 

"See you there."

Jool was anxious "Do we really have to shot them? I mean couldn't we keep them in cages or something? Take them to a commerce planet or something and make sure they go to a loving home?" 

Chiana was on the verge of pulling out her tonsils just to have something to hit Jool with. "Listen Jool, those things are dangerous! They are killing Moya, trying to eat us and when all of Moya's air ducts close up we are going to run out of air and then we will all DIE! So stop whining!" She stalked on, occasionally looking in ducts. 

Jool had had enough "Look Chiana, I don't know who the hell you think you are, but you could at least stop acting like you know it all! You brought the last dangerous creature on board!"

Chiana stopped and her voice turned to ice "How did you find out about that?"

"Does it matter?"

Chiana rolled her eyes "No.."

"Well then."

They carried on in angry silence for a while, until suddenly Chiana stopped and pointed her gun around the corridors. Jool jumped "What? What?" She asked hurriedly.

"Nothing, I thought I heard something."

"Don't frelling do that to me!" 

"Do what?"

"Scare me like that!"

"Sor-ry!" 

"And don't talk to me like that!" 

"I'll talk how I like!"

"Stop acting like you know it all!"

"Only when you just-"

"Why won't you ever just-"

"SHUT YOUR WAKKET HOLE!" They screamed, facing each other and hissing. 

Suddenly, there was a scratching noise coming from a small storage room. They turned, argument forgotten and their pulse rifles trained on the door. "What was that?" Squeaked Jool, paralyzed with fear.

"I don't know.."

"Oh great!"

"Shhh!"

Chiana carefully tapped the door to the storage room with her rifle, it opened easily so she cautiously walked in.

The room was pitch black and Chiana couldn't see a thing. She edged forward and turned to Jool who was standing in the door way "You got a light princess?" She asked.

"There's one here," Jool replied and flicked a switch by the door. The room filled with light that was overwhelming for a moment. Jool jumped "Well at least we can see now-" She stopped and stared in horror. Chiana turned to look and saw it.

Two karret young were fighting over something, it was a leg of the adult karret. 

"Yuk.." breathed Chiana.

Jool shook violently, tears sprung to her eyes, she threw her head back and screamed at the top of her lungs. Chiana covered her ears and bellowed "STOP THAT!"

Quietly, she heard tiny noises, like little explosions, and tiny splats. When the noise died away, she opened her eyes and looked down. The two karret young were dead, they lay head-less around the leg that they were fighting over. Chiana smiled "Hey Jool, looks like your talent as a screaming cry baby actually helped."

Jool was still shaking "Those little..." she muttered.

"C'mon Jool, let's go find the others."

Up in the lab Jool gave John an injection to prevent any diseases from the bite spreading and bandaged the foot. "I hate karrets," John muttered "I like them when they are older and fluffier, rather when they are young and they try to eat your foot!"

Jool said nothing.

"The scream?" D'argo was saying "That's what killed them?"

"Yeah, their heads exploded, I guess the pitch was too much for them," Chiana said with a laugh.

"Well, now we know what can kill them easily, shooting them is going to take too long, so if we get something that can get them all at once it will solve the problem faster."

"Trouble is, they'll have spread out all over the ship by now," D'argo pointed out "Maybe if we broadcast Jool's scream over the ship-"

"It will leave the bodies in the ducts and all over Moya, their fluids will probably kill her," Pilot said over the com.

"We need to get them into one place," John said. 

"What about your idea for a trap earlier?" D'argo remarked "we can set down some food and get Jool to scream and kill them all."

"How are we going to attract them all?" asked Chiana "I mean, how do we know that we haven't got thousands of them all over the ship?"

"I checked the databanks," interjected Pilot "it is physically impossible for a female karret to give birth to more than ten in a litter."

"You got two," said D'argo thoughtfully "that's only eight of them left."

"Some might be trapped in the swollen vents," said Jool coldly, still in a mild state of shock, "we need to get them out first won't we?" 

"The DRDs are working on a antidote to cease the swelling, if we get most of the karrets away from the ship, then she would be able to flush her ducts and expel the rest of them into space," said Pilot. 

"So scream kill them first, flush the others later? We are making some progress!" Cried John in delight "Pilot, you mix up the antidote and we'll get us a karret trap together-"

"We'll need somewhere to amplify the smell of the food, so they'll all be able to sniff and come running," said Chiana. 

"Somewhere where all of Moya's ducts are connected to," agreed D'argo "and where we'll be able to get them all in one place."

They all knew the perfect spot.

There was silence from the com for a while and then "Alright, use the den, but be careful when bringing those things in here! It is the center of Moya's functions!" Cried Pilot.  

"We'll be careful," said John reassuringly, he stood up "Pilot- ow! Goddamnit - We'll go round the ducts with some meat to flush them out towards the den, Jool, you go to the den and wait for us there and keep those DRDs cooking up some remedy." 

Crichton grinned, picked up a pulse rifle and limped towards the door "Alright y'all," he drawled, his accent at the forefront of his speech "let's go bag us some CARROTS!" 

They found some meat in the food storage and hurried along the ducts around Pilot's den "Here little bastards.. come here.." John coaxed "I got a score to settle..." 

"I got one on the scent!" Called Chiana from two tiers below him over the com "I'm heading to Pilot's den!"

"Ok Pip, Jool?"

"I'm here John!" Jool was heaving the hunks of meat around the increasingly worried Pilot. 

"Got that meat spread around the den?"

"Yes!"

"When there is about eight or so around the meat you scream like a banshee and do it quickly!"

"Alright, I'll try-"

"Don't try, DO IT! D'argo? Everything okay there?"

"I've got one on the scent as well John, we'll be there in a microt!"

Crichton tapped the com off and walked quickly down the corridor, for some reason, he was actually enjoying himself. He wasn't sure why. 

"I'd look out if I were you," Harvey said, some where in the back of his mind. 

Crichton turned to see a karret hissing at him. He grinned "Hey there little buddy," he smirked evilly "want another taste of genuine human foot?"

The creature raced for John's foot again , but John was ready this time. He lifted his foot and brought it down hard on the thing's head. There was an satisfying, if rather disgusting, squelch!

"Pilot? Jool?" John wiped his foot on the floor as best he could "make that seven." 

Jool saw them first, they dived in through ducts beside the door to Pilot's chamber and ran like small, pink, hairless streaks towards the meat. She shook as she watched them devour it quickly, unable to move or speak. 

"Scream," she told herself "do it now."

Suddenly, one of them, the biggest, looked up at Pilot. It yelped as it's gazed turned from that of curiosity to one of hunger. 

"John!" Cried Pilot in alarm "I think it's going to-"

It leapt. It almost flew towards the unfortunate Pilot and bit into his great dome like head. Pilot cried out in pain as even more of the creatures leapt towards him, jaws dripping. 

"Pilot!" yelped Jool. She ran towards him "Get off of him you frelling little barbarians!" 

"Jool?! What the hezmana's going on?" 

"This is for TRICKET!" Jool cried, she stopped in front of Pilot, who was fighting off the karrets left and right, and screamed and screamed, her lungs near busting. 

All over the ship, the crew ducked and covered their ears at the sound. It echoed through the com channels like a roar and in their skulls like a cavern. It was Chiana who managed to come to her senses first "JOOL!"

The screaming continued.

"JOOL! I THINK THEY'RE DEAD NOW!" Shouted John above the din.

The scream died away, Jool took heaving breaths and looked at the scene around Pilot's panels. There were at least six or seven dead, headless karrets lying around the shaking, traumatized Pilot.  

They were gone.

Jool, exhausted, rolled her eyes towards the ceiling and spiraled to the floor.

She awoke with something blessedly cold pressing against her forehead, she opened her eyes and saw John's kindly blue eyes staring back. "You okay Jool?"

"I... uh..." she sat up "think so, what happened?" 

"You passed out, you nearly broke our eardrums with that scream!"

"Did I get them?"

"Yeah, D'argo and the DRDs are cleaning up the mess in the den. You missed the big flush by the way." 

"The what?"

"After Moya got her ducts back to normal size, she could flush them out and now the lower tiers are opening up again," that was Chiana's voice "the whole place shook!"

Jool  rubbed her eyes and waited for her head to stop swimming "So, it's all over then?"

"Pretty much," said John.

Jool looked uncomfortable for a moment, she hugged her knees and turned her head away from John "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought Tricket on board, it's all my fault." 

"You got that right ."

"Chi?" Said Crichton meaningfully "be nice."

"Why should I? She nearly got us all killed!"

"I'm really sorry.." Jool began to sob "I just wanted... someone to be nice to me..."

"Hey! Don't turn on the water works princess, it ain't going to work!" Chiana growled angrily. 

"Chiana! Be nice, okay Jool brought that thing on board, but you did it to remember? She's sorry, that's good enough."

"They attacked Pilot!" Sobbed Jool. 

"He's recovering," soothed John patting the Interon's hand "it's okay, everything's alright."

"Oh please.." muttered Chiana, walking angrily out of the room. 

When they were alone, Jool sniffed deeply and Crichton patted her on the shoulder "We managed to... er... scrape, I mean gather together Ticket's remains-"

"Tricket's."

"Sorry- Tricket's remains and I'd thought you'd like a burial for her."

Jool looked up through tear blurred eyes at him, "That would be so nice," she hiccupped "I can say goodbye to her properly."

She got up, staggered a bit and walked towards the door. She remembered something and turned "John?" she said "thank you, at least someone on board is being nice to me.

"That's okay, I'm glad I could help."

When she was sure she was far away enough, she stopped and leaned against the wall.

She let out a huge sigh and smiled.

It was going to be fine. Really.

The End

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