Mele-On Grayza slapped her palms on the console in front of her,
the image of Aeryn Sun still burned into her brain. On the view
screen, Captain Braca stood at attention; she saw him flinch at
the smack of her skin against the hard, smooth surface of the console
but his expression remained neutral, his gaze averted from hers.
It was true Peacekeeper etiquette. An officer never looked his superior
in the eye unless ordered to.
said. She felt her jaw tighten. "How did the traitor Aeryn Sun and
her Nebari accomplices commit this crime?" Grayza turned away from
the console, arms crossed over her chest as she paced slowly. "It
has been three solar days since Lyczac, his daughter and Melanie
managed to escape your watch. How exactly did that occur, Captain
fidgeted from his place on Beta Station. His eyes darted to the
right, then back towards her. "Ma'am, your orders were to get them
off the station."
a deep breath and stopped her pacing, looking at him like the imbecile
he was. Crichton's defiance in front of her daughter was unacceptable.
His reunion with the traitor was unimaginable. And his daughter's
attempts to defend him were unpardonable.
She had done
her best over the cycles to engender loyalty in Crichton for her,
in spite of the control collar. She'd given him another daughter.
She'd allowed him a freedom with his offspring that no other officer
had ever been accorded. She had been an attentive lover, had indulged
his fantasies of his home planet and had protected his life by completely
erasing his true identity. And this was how he repaid her.
"And do you
think I intended that arrangement to be permanent?" She paused,
trying to maintain her composure. "Have you alerted First Command?"
your Carrier to escort the Nebari host vessel to the edge of Peacekeeper
space, Councilor. The situation between the Peacekeepers and the
Nebari Resistance is delicate; they don't want any missteps."
his throat and again averted his eyes sideways.
she repeated. "They've taken my daughter, Captain. And Lyczac."
She uttered the word through gritted teeth. "This attack was unwarranted
and cannot be ignored. Braca, engage a Marauder and join me on the
Carrier. I will require your assistance." She tapped the view screen
link and the captain disappeared from sight. "There will be no missteps
Braca turned from the blank view screen to the older Sebacean who
sat off to the side. Admiral Telko Relnik was Grayza's peer but
where Grayza was military, Relnik was a diplomat. The diplomatic
corps had regained stature not long after the Scarran war had ended.
Relnik and his kind liked to speak of the Peacekeeper heroes of
old, those who had risked their lives to protect lesser, defenseless
civilizations. Braca knew such rhetoric was useless to Councilor
Grayza. The Scarrans would never have been defeated with words.
arrived at Beta Station just in time to see the Marauder return
with the two Peacekeeper officers as the Nebari had promised. There
was no sign of Crichton or his daughters. No one had explained the
reason for Relnik's business on Beta Station and Braca had not asked.
of the Nebari into Peacekeeper spaceŠwhat do you make of it, Captain?"
Relnik asked. His black eyes invited openness, camaraderie, but
Braca knew better than to trust any superior officer with his opinions.
His opinion? If he could be done with the entire Crichton/Grayza
mess that had dogged him over the last fifteen cycles, he would
die a contented man.
"Sir, it would
appear the Nebari were searching for Captain Lyczac." He glanced
at the Admiral then looked away. Relnik was a big man, older than
Braca by possibly thirty cycles. His visit to Beta Station had come
as a surprise; rumor had it that a visit from Relnik never resulted
in anything good.
"To what purpose,
Captain?" Relnik asked. "Of what importance is Lyczac to the Nebari?"
does understand wormhole technology better than anyone. And he is
at work on a new project, one that could interest the Nebari." It
was a stretch, to some extent. Braca had his own suspicions but
wasn't sure how to address them with a superior officer. Aeryn Sun
was among the group who had taken Crichton. In his mind, the thing
spoke for itself.
himself?" Relnik asked. "What does _he_ mean to her?" He looked
at Braca, who blinked in surprise. The Admiral seemed remarkably
calm, even for a diplomat.
a personal matterŠ" Braca stuttered.
adjunct. Certainly you have some knowledge of her private affairs.
Her offspring, Captain LyczacŠ "
"I cannot answer
that, Sir," he maintained. He swallowed and resisted the urge to
adjust the collar of his uniform, feeling a sudden tightness in
his throat. "I can only state that I am sure she will do as commanded."
The man's black
eyes stared Braca down then he turned towards the blank viewscreen.
"How long till we can rendezvous with Grayza's Carrier?" he asked.
three solar days, Sir."
"And for the
Nebari to reach the edge of our territory?"
his fingers to his lips in thought. "Well, let's not keep the Councilor
waiting, Captain. I will accompany you. I expect you will not let
the Councilor know of my presence." The man stood and Braca saluted
as he watched Relnik clear the doorway.
what's the matter?" Chiana stood in front of A'lya, the Nebari's
body held at a sideways angle, one that so far had managed to confound
A'lya as much as anything else. Everything about Chiana was disconcerting‹her
voice, her mannerisms, the ease with which she addressed them. It
was like she'd known them forever when, in fact, they'd only just
A'lya repeated. She picked up the clothing that Chiana had laid
out for her, a dark red jumpsuit that hung loosely in her hands.
Melanie had already gone to the fresher to try hers on, excited
at the prospect.
In a way, A'lya
was both disappointed in and envious of her sister. Melanie seemed
to be adapting to this abrupt change, enthused at everything they'd
encountered. A'lya questioned the depth of her sister's loyalty
to their father and even to Grayza. Their comrades had been injured
or killed in the fight with the Nebari invaders. The two of them
had been torn from the only life they'd ever known. Their father
had almost died and all Melanie thought of was trying new food and
took the jumpsuit from A'lya's hands and tossed it onto the bed.
"You don't like the clothes, don't wear them. We have plenty of
uniforms to go around."
A'lya said. She furrowed her brow, looking at the jumpsuit thoughtfully
and then she felt Chiana's hand under her chin, raising her head
so that their eyes met.
laughed. "You're Aeryn Sun's daughter all right. She never took
to change very well either. Matter of fact, she was a real pain
in the eema most of the time. About everything."
her head away. "I don't want to talk about it."
was big on that too. Still is." Chiana put her arm around A'lya's
shoulders and sat her on the bed, then plopped down beside her.
"I know you're scared, A'lya. And it's okay."
know anything about it," A'lya said without thinking.
"No? I've been
scared for the last fifteen cycles. I lost one of my best friends
when Crichton stayed on that Carrier. I've said good-bye to friends
who've moved on and watched friends die in battle. I think I know
a little bit about fear, kid." She stood up and chucked A'lya under
the chin. "What about you, huh? I'd say life's been pretty soft
on you so far. What, some battle simulations, studies? Stuff like
that? Grayza's patronage? You owe all that dren to your parents‹both
understand." She wiped at the tears that had sprung to her eyes,
not wanting to show any fear or shame to the tenacious female who
stood over her.
a lot," Chiana replied. "But mostly I understand that Crichton adores
you. So don't act like you're second best or like he's going to
forget you now. You're his daughter, his flesh and blood. Aeryn
is‹" Chiana stopped, her expression softening. "Aeryn is his life-mate.
And your mother. So, Cadet LyczacŠ" She drawled out the words. "Quit
being a fekkik and get used to it."
the jumpsuit and stood up, brushing past Melanie who was just exiting
said and then turned to Chiana. "Is she all right?"
A'lya heard Chiana's voice drifting towards her. "She just needs
a little time, Mel. She'll be fine."
was laughable. A'lya shut the fresher door behind her and peeled
off her clothes, then turned on the water as warm as she could stand
it. Steam rose, covering the reflective glass, wiping out the image
that stared back, one that she could hardly stand to look at. No
matter how A'lya tried, she knew that every time she looked at herself,
she'd see Aeryn Sun staring back.
under the water, flinching at the heat until her skin grew used
to it. How many weekens since Jamoh had shown her the data chip
that identified what she was? It had all started then, the unraveling
of the lie. Meeting Aeryn only solidified what A'lya had seen on
the chip. Up to that point, she could believe the lies that had
been presented to her. She was a Sebacean, a purebred Peacekeeper.
Her father was a hero. Her patron was a Councilor who commanded
respect and admiration and who treated A'lya the way she treated
her own daughter. As long as A'lya Lyczac had been in Peacekeeper
space, living among her people, she could believe the lie.
Aeryn Sun had
changed all that for her. Aeryn lived. She loved a man named John
Crichton. How many more lies would be stripped away until the truth
was finally revealed? Didn't they even think they owed her that?
her skin raw, wishing for Nila or Jamoh, for someone she could talk
to who would understand it from her position. Not John Crichton's
or Aeryn Sun's or even Melanie's. Hers.
frell, frell!" She pounded her fists against the enclosure's walls,
the image of her father's face imprinted in her mind. He loved her.
They‹she, her father, Melanie‹were a unit, stronger together than
their individual parts. She had shared him easily with her sister,
with Councilor Grayza. Why was it so difficult now?
bathing and turned off the water, then stepped out and dried herself
off. The red jumpsuit was on the floor where she'd thrown it. She
reached for fresh underclothes from a receptacle in the fresher
and dressed quickly, tying her wet hair back away from her face.
The sound of
the fresher door caught Melanie and Chiana's attention as A'lya
stepped towards them. Melanie ran to her and hugged her; A'lya returned
the gesture and ruffled her sister's hair, which hung loosely about
the child's shoulders.
Chiana asked. "Saying frell always worked for me. Frell in general,
as a matter of factŠ"
A'lya bit her
lip. The Nebari kept her focus on A'lya, not allowing her to slip
away so easily.
"Tell me everything,
Chiana," A'lya said. "Tell me why Aeryn Sun abandoned us for fifteen
cocking her head sideways. "Abandoned? Huh. I guess that's the way
you'd see it. Uh-uh, nixa. That's Aeryn's story to tell." She reached
out for A'lya and put a hand on her shoulder. "You're just going
to have to be patient."
no time. To Aeryn, it had seemed like one battle after another since
they had brought John and the two girls on board. Breaking away
from the Peacekeeper Command Carrier, Grayza's voice rising in anger
as she had argued with Nerri. Meelak, wanting to discuss strategy.
Chiana's giddiness over Crichton, another long lost brother returned
to her. All of it, pulling at Aeryn until, finally, she had found
time for herself. Time for them.
She sat next
to John as he slept in the med bay, the scar from Grayza's control
collar a line of demarcation across the soft flesh of his throat.
The blanket covering him was black, the lights a cool gray. The
whole thing made him look almost like a Nebari; she found herself
putting her hand to his chest to feel the beating of his heart,
to make sure that it was truly him, alive under her fingertips.
after their escape, he was still under sedation. She and Chiana
had brought him to the medical bay and she had stayed by his side
the entire time, in the event he woke up before the sedative wore
forward, her lips gingerly tracing the circular scar that, for her,
marked fifteen cycles of her life. The skin was raised and pink,
tough under the softness of her lips. Fifteen cycles. She allowed
herself the brief indulgence of looking backwards, something that
had never served her well. She was a soldier, a warrior. Regret
and doubt and clouded thinking had led her to Grayza's Command Carrier
fifteen cycles ago, she was certain, and had formed the scar that
she could not overlook.
her hand away from his chest and drew the outline of his face with
her finger, lingering over his brows and the temples that were flecked
with gray. There were lines under his eyes that she didn't remember
from before. Her own face had grown thinner, her eyes harder over
the cycles, a process that had begun after D'Argo had found her
on the empty transport pod.
of agony on the Command Carrier at the hands of Mele-On Grayza had
guided her life ever since; she had formed alliances with criminals
and heroes alike, all in exchange for any scrap of information that
might lead her back to Crichton and A'lya. Commerce planets with
a strong Peacekeeper presence had become her overriding objectives,
every Command Carrier the one that held John and their daughter.
Only D'Argo had kept her from the most dangerous of those missions.
Each stop had been brightened by the possibility that it would be
the last piece she needed to find them; each cycle had brought disappointment
and failure until they'd found the Nebari resistance. Without their
hunger for Crichton's knowledge, she would have spent another futile
cycle looking for something that she hadn't even been sure existed
moved to his lips; she leaned over again and kissed him softly,
her hair falling around his face. She felt him stir and moan slightly.
He squinted at her, his eyes opening to slits, as she drew back.
"I'm dead and
the angels are here," he mumbled.
she said, putting a finger to his lips.
breathed. "Trying to get my heart beatin' faster, baby?"
and ignored the stinging she felt in her eyes. "That might kill
you," she said with a laugh.
He closed his
eyes and shook his head slightly. "But what a way to go." He raised
his hand to cover hers where she'd rested it on his chest and squeezed
her fingers weakly.
him again and drew back a little, touching his hair. "There are
cycles ahead of us for that. You're fine, just sedated while the
effects of Grayza's frelling collar are purged from your system."
The name "Grayza" came out like a shot and he opened his eyes as
much as he possibly could.
said again. "You haven't changedŠ"
softly. "Is that the human way of flattery?"
"A day didn't
go by that you weren't in my thoughts‹"
"No." She reached
out her hand. "I don't want to go backwards, John. There's nothing
there." His presence was a gift, something that she had awaited
for fifteen cycles, yet amid the joy was bitterness. What she had
lost, in time, in *life*. Once the Peacekeepers had captured
John Crichton, Moya's most notorious and valuable member, no one
had been interested in the rest of them. For her comrades, that
had equaled freedom. For her it had meant only emptiness. She had
fought other people's wars, while inside her own battle had raged.
She had tried
once, on Valldon, to go back to the old way, the Peacekeeper way.
No emotions, no feeling, no attachments to rip apart what was left
of her. She'd tried to stay cold and clinical, the soldier she had
been bred to be. But Aeryn Sun was no longer a Peacekeeper, and
she had found the former shell of herself cracked and ill fitting.
She could not go back any more than she could go forward alone.
As she had
lain barely alive in a jettisoned transport from Grayza's Carrier,
waiting for D'Argo but wishing for death, Aeryn had realized there
could be no refuge in the old ways. Instead, the emptiness had fermented
over the cycles into rage. She had directed that rage towards causes
that hadn't been her own. Luxans, Nebari, Hynerians, fellow ex-PeacekeepersŠanyone
who needed a warrior, until Moya's crew had become little more than
a band of mercenaries, the same kind she had thought to join so
long ago after she'd left John on Moya.
unseeing at a patch of light over his head until she felt his fingers
cool against her cheek, leading her eyes back to him. Her face broke
into a smile as he fought against the Nebari drugs to keep his eyes
open and locked onto hers.
"Don't go there,"
he said finally. "You're right. It's not worth it."
against his hand, feeling both pain and joy as tears spilled from
her eyes and dropped onto the shirt that loosely draped his chest.
It was a soundless crying and something she couldn't stop. He kept
his hand to her face, now and again wiping a tear away with his
thumb. She could feel the muscles of his arm shake, but he fought
his stupor, keeping his palm to her cheek until she finally pressed
her hand over his.
know how long they stayed like this or even notice that she had
laid her head against his chest, her hand still clutching his as
he went back to sleep. The presence behind her startled her awake.
She raised her head quickly and looked at the small, sturdy shape
silhouetted just inside the doorway.
lavender eyes took in Aeryn and Crichton, the child's small features
questioning, trying to comprehend what she saw. Aeryn stood and
pulled her hair back, breathing deeply to regain her composure.
The child was Crichton's in appearance, the same stocky build and
soft mouth but the black hair and those eyes were Grayza's.* This
is a child,* Aeryn reminded herself, Crichton's child, raised under
his influence. Yet she'd seen A'lya in action and had seen so much
of herself in the girl that she couldn't help but wonder how much
of Grayza resided in Melanie.
questioned, approaching the child who stood fixed by the door.
"Will my father
be all right?" Melanie's voice was thin and frightened.
crouched down in front of her, searching those lavender eyes for
any sign of the child's mother. "How old are you, Cadet?"
Melanie looked past Aeryn at John. "When will he be awake?" she
said. "I want to see for myself that he's all right."
a soft Nebari tunic. It occurred to Aeryn that she'd had no contact
with either girl at all in the last three days, completely preoccupied
with John's condition.
as you should be," Aeryn said. "Where's A'lya?"
one shoulder barely moving upwards in response. "Am I going to see
my mother again?" she asked.
Aeryn sat back
on her heels and sighed, her eyes cast down. "IŠ" she began.
"No, Mel, I
don't think you will."
up to find A'lya standing behind the little girl, both hands firmly
on her sister's shoulders. Melanie tilted her head so that she could
see A'lya; Aeryn caught the faintest trace of a smile on her daughter's
lips and then the emotion was buttoned up again under the cool exterior
of Peacekeeper Cadet A'lya Lyczac.
said, rising. "Do you girls want to sit with your father? He won't
be awake again any time soon."
said. "No one informed us that he'd been awake at all."
her head. "It was just for a few microts."
at her distrustfully. She pursed her lips and stared past Aeryn
at John, who was stirring again.
"Can we wait
for him to wake up?" Melanie asked but the question was directed
at A'lya, not Aeryn. A'lya nodded and the little girl ran past both
of them to her father's bed.
"You seem to
have a good effect on her," Aeryn said. She felt herself fumbling
for words in the face of this stoic girl, her daughter. Time. Fifteen
cycles had brought Aeryn here, facing the child whom she'd first
seen held aloft in Braca's hands. Her words came back to her‹*"We
have time now, all the time in the world."* Yet those eyes‹Crichton's
eyes‹stared at her with no warmth or familiarity and she wasn't
sure if all the time in the world would be enough.
"She is my
sister." A'lya folded her arms across her chest. "You don't have
any family, do you," she said.
an eyebrow. "You. Your sister. Your father. Chiana has been like
a sister to me."
"Yes, that's right. You have us." But the tone was flat, dismissive
and disrespectful. A'lya tried to move past her but Aeryn caught
her arm and the girl whirled around and tried to wrench free.
Aeryn said sharply, years of Peacekeeper training coming out of
hibernation in her voice. "I understand this isŠunexpected." She
released her grip on her daughter.
A'lya's voice rose. "Unexpected. That. Is an understatement." The
speech pattern was Crichton's. A'lya stared at Aeryn, not backing
down and Aeryn stared back until her daughter finally looked away.
you are my mother," A'lya said. "I can see it. Yours is the face
he saw every time he looked at me. It's the face I see every time
I look at myself. I just didn't realize it until I met you."
out her hand. There was too much behind her in this moment, the
weight of history bearing down on her shoulders. She'd had a mother
once who'd wanted her dead. A father who'd never known her. A lover
who had given his life for the lives of millions of unknowns. And
then that one brief moment where she'd almost had it all, A'lya
and John, only to have it wrenched away in the same instant. It
was looking backwards again and the pain was as sharp and fresh
as the one the Peacekeepers had visited on her so many cycles ago.
waking up." Melanie's voice broke the stalemate, and Aeryn let her
hand fall to her side. Without another look, A'lya brushed past
her to John's bedside. Aeryn turned and saw both girls lean into
John as he opened his eyes, this time almost fully awake. His gaze
caught hers and he motioned her towards him but she shook her head
"John, I think
the girls want some time with their father," she said.
"Just us, Dad,"
A'lya said childishly.
began, struggling to sit up. A'lya supported him immediately as
Melanie propped a pillow under his head. Aeryn stared at her daughter,
whose eyes lifted to meet hers. The message was clear. *We don't
"I will be
back, John," Aeryn said, her voice strong. "But your daughters need
you now." She walked to the bed and leaned down to kiss him.
caught her hand in his.
"This has beenŠa
lot for all of us. Give the girls their time." She ruffled his hair
as he released her hand and then she turned, feeling A'lya's eyes
boring into her back as the door slid shut behind her.
up with Aeryn as she rounded the corner towards her quarters.
said. "Crichton awake? I was starting to think I was going to have
to carry you out of there."
sitting there for three days. I finally let them go up to see him.
Three days, Aeryn. Those daughters of his don't have a lot of patience.
They've seen every inch of this ship. And your kid's gotten quieter
the whole time."
said. *Three days*. Whatever ground she had gained with A'lya
after they had broken away from the Peacekeepers had undoubtedly
been lost. She smoothed her hands over her hair and turned to Chiana
as they stopped at the entrance to Aeryn's quarters.
isn't going the way I'd planned it would," Aeryn said.
the kid? It's going to work out." Chiana punched her lightly on
the shoulder. "She's a lot like you, and not just the way she looks."
Chiana palmed the door control and the door slid open soundlessly.
Aeryn stepped in and Chiana followed.
transformed Aeryn's sparse rooms into something lush and warm. The
lighting had been brought down to a soft bronze. Silk throws and
pillows in a prism of colors lay on the floors and furniture. Blankets
softer than anything Aeryn had ever experienced draped the beds.
She had never asked Chiana when, where or how the goods had been
acquired and Chiana had never offered an explanation.
"Yes. She has
my temperament," Aeryn said, plopping down on a chair.
"Maybe you should just slug the hezmana out of her. Show her who's
"Oh, yes, that
would be helpful." Aeryn pulled off her boots and stretched out
"It's a joke.
Come on, lighten up." She went to Aeryn and sat across from her
on the floor. "You've got this whole new family now. It's going
to take some getting used to. Once Crichton's up and around, she'll
know her place. She's just trying to show you that she's used to
being his number one."
"I see that
very clearly. It's the little one I'm more concerned about."
of Grayza," Chiana began. "She's a kid!"
"We took a
child from its mother," Aeryn said softly. "I know that mother is
Grayza butŠFrell, I don't know. I wish I had the answers to all
don't." Chiana stood up and laid a hand on her friend's shoulder.
"So get over it. And I'll take the nixas off your hands again when
Crichton gets here. It's been a long time, hasn't it?"
"Yes. It has."
Aeryn bit her lip thoughtfully.
get going so you can sleep in a real bed for tonight. You're going
to need your rest." She winked at Aeryn who smiled back.
Chiana. For everything."
and shrugged. "Hey, we're friends. That's what we do. Now get some
her head from the bed and clutched at the empty blankets where she
remembered her father had been just microts before. Microts? She
blinked her eyes. As they grew accustomed to the light, she jumped
to her feet upon the realization that she was in unfamiliar surroundings.
A med unit,
an empty bedŠFear tugged at her heart as she stood and whirled around,
catching sight of her sister's small body slumped on the other chair
in the room, chin resting on her chest as she slept. Finally A'lya's
eyes came to rest on her father and Aeryn Sun, their backs to her
as they stared out a view port at the stars in front of them.
side by side, their shoulders touching as her father stroked Sun's
long black hair. They were relaxed, comfortable; the sight both
confused and buoyed her. These were her parents and they were nothing
of what she'd been led to believe.
Peacekeeper hero, was John Crichton, a member of a completely unknown
race. Aeryn Sun was still the enigma she'd always been to A'lya.
What little she'd learned could have filled one scroll of a data
pad. A'lya's mother had been a pilot, a Peacekeeper who had been
irreversibly contaminated, a traitor and a deserter who had left
A'lya and John Crichton on the Command Carrier. A'lya still didn't
Braca had spoken the words, the name Aeryn Sun had never been part
of her consciousness. All she had known of her mother had been some
childish dream. Her mother, in her mind, had been a tragic hero
whom A'lya resembled and whose skills she possessed, someone whom
she'd sometimes seen reflected in her father's eyes. It was all
the truth and it was all a lie‹she was ashamed of the part of her
that wanted to act like a cadet younger than Melanie who would squirm
her way between the two people who stood in front of her, aware
only of each other.
as Aeryn laid her head on John Crichton's shoulder and how he turned
slightly to kiss her hair. She'd never seen that tenderness in him
with Councilor Grayza. Other than the affection he'd shown her and
her sister, he'd kept the rest to himself. He'd been serious around
the Councilor and helpful with those who'd served under his command,
like he had been holding something back, a small part of himself
that not even she or Melanie had been privy to. Even while he'd
lain there, sick from the poison of the collar, she had seen the
light in his eyes when he'd looked at Aeryn Sun. It made A'lya feel
like she was losing something of him.
She stood against
the rail of the bed, her hands reaching behind her and twisting
the blanket hard. She wanted to pretend that this woman was her
mother, a real mother, but the truth was, she had never felt the
need for a mother. In Peacekeepers, it had been enough that she'd
had a father. To have asked for more would have been to risk losing
what little she'd already had.
sleepy voice reached her ears. John and Aeryn both turned. Aeryn
smiled at her, apparently forgetting the night before.
John said, affecting a deep, frightening voice. Melanie sat up,
smiling and John lunged at her, tickling her ribs. A'lya suppressed
the smile that came to her lips at the sound of her sister's giggle,
aware that Aeryn Sun's eyes were on her and her alone.
Daddy," Melanie squealed.
made a quick recovery," Aeryn noted to A'lya. She stepped forward
and gave A'lya a quick pat on the shoulder, then moved towards the
bed before A'lya could turn away in response.
John said. "The picture of health." He smiled at A'lya and she smiled
back, unable to play the game anymore. He was there, he was alive
and he was happy. Shouldn't that be enough?
He and Aeryn
Sun wore the same leathers as the Nebari, Meelak, the high jacket
collar completely covering his neck. A'lya noticed for the first
time her father's red and black tech uniform lying on the floor
in a careless heap. She felt a sudden lump in her throat. Chiana
had given the two girls clothing, garments completely unlike Peacekeeper
leathers, although A'lya had re-braided her own hair into its familiar
queue. The foreign clothing served as yet another barrier between
A'lya and the life that had been hers. Would Aeryn Sun take everything
to eat," Aeryn said, looking at John with warm eyes. Then I'll show
youŠ" A'lya heard the first bit of uncertainty in the ex-Peacekeeper's
voice, and then the woman pushed past it. "ŠOur quarters," she finished.
slipped his arm around Aeryn's waist and pulled her to him. "I like
the sound of that."
The door slid
open and Chiana stepped in. The Nebari was almost a relief to see.
take the nixas off your hands, Aeryn. Crichton." A'lya saw her wink
at Aeryn. "I'm sure there's some trouble we can find. We'll meet
you guys in a couple of arns or so."
"Just a couple?"
John said. He turned to Aeryn and kissed her quickly on the cheek,
completely unaware of anyone but the woman beside him. A'lya watched
Sun's slow smile spread across her lips, the tightness around her
eyes and mouth gone. Aeryn Sun was once again the woman whose image
A'lya had seen in the holo-chip.
"Old man, save
your strength," Chiana said with a laugh. "Those fluid build-ups
can kill you."
They were talking about recreating. A'lya closed her eyes momentarily,
not wanting to witness more. Recreating was common in Peacekeepers,
encouraged and accepted but there was more to it between her father
and Aeryn and she knew it.
Melanie's hand and started towards the door. "Let's go," she said
"Hey, no problem,
kid." Chiana winked at John and Aeryn then followed the girls out
of the room.
Aeryn led John
through the winding corridors of the ship. She wanted to hold his
hand, hold tightly to him forever but the Nebari still had their
customs, even among the Resistance, and such a display didn't seem
appropriate. She opened the door of their quarters and walked in,
feeling John just behind her as the door slid closed.
"Wow," he exhaled.
"Somehow this isn't what I expected to find in Officer Aeryn Sun's
quarters." He picked up a pillow, rubbed it against his face and
then threw it back on the chair.
she said. "IŠwe wanted it to be right for you. All of you." She
walked towards the doorway to her sleeping quarters but John caught
her arm and turned her towards him.
"We need to
talk, Aeryn. So muchŠ" He brushed his fingertips over her temple
and leaned forward, his forehead touching hers. She closed her eyes,
swimming in the now and memories of another time so long ago.
talking, Crichton," she said softly. Her fingers played on the buttons
of his coat.
He took her
hands in his and kissed her, then he pulled away and stroked her
face. "You never gave up, did you." It wasn't a question.
She shook her
head. "No, that's not true. There wereŠmany timesŠbut they all kept
me going. Chiana, D'Argo, even the old woman and Rygel and Sikozu.
Hope." She leaned into him again, resting her forehead against his.
"It was all I had left."
His hands moved
to the fastener on her coat and she stood still, restraining herself.
He slid her coat off her shoulders and to the floor. She closed
her eyes as he tugged her tank top over her head. He ran his fingers
over her back and then she felt him stop as he suppressed a gasp.
said. She opened her eyes and watched as he traced his fingertips
over her torso, his expression pained.
She tried to pull away. It had been easy, until now, easy to ignore
what had happened to her body after Grayza had finished with her
on the Command Carrier. Skin had split open and healed badly, leaving
a thickened mass over several areas on her body. Only a mixture
of Noranti's strange potions and a blood transfusion from an all
too willing donor had managed to save her life; for cycles Aeryn
had cursed the old woman's name, wishing that they'd all left her
"HowŠ" He knelt
down in front of her, his voice a breath on her stomach as he gently
pressed his lips to her scarred flesh.
she said. She looked down at the top of his head, at the bits of
gray sprinkled through his hair. His breath was warm against her
skin but she couldn't feel anything where he kissed her. He intertwined
his fingers with hers and brought her towards him so that she was
kneeling in front of him.
a long time ago," he said. His hand ran the length of her back.
matter," she repeated. She unbuttoned his coat. He shrugged out
of it and tugged his T-shirt over his head. He drew her against
him, his bare chest against hers, his voice soft in her ear.
he whispered. "It matters because I love you." She felt his kisses
on her neck and she tilted her head back as his lips explored her
body. So many cycles of her life had been spent trying to be something
more, wanting more. It had been such a long wait. The wait was over.
John lay spooned
next to her, this woman he'd dreamed of for so long, his arm circling
her waist. Aeryn Sun. He formed her name without making a sound
as he felt the coolness of her skin soft against his forearm. His
fingers grazed her stomach lazily. He was John Crichton again, not
Jak Lyczac, not a Peacekeeper hero, not Councilor Grayza's petŠnot
even the father of two daughters, but the John Crichton he once
was, young, as naïve as when he'd first been jettisoned to
the other side of the universe.
"I love you,"
she whispered. He ran one hand over her hair, the other hand pulling
her closer to him.
He had done
his best over the years to let her go, to concentrate on what was
right in front of him. Hell, it had been easy enough to keep focused.
Comply or die. Even when he'd felt like letting Grayza kill him,
felt like just making a run for it in the hope that some overzealous
Peacekeeper would shoot him in the back, he'd always had a reason
to live. A'lya. Melanie. He had survived the years because he'd
had the two girls with him, his daughters. He had decided long ago
that that would have to be enough.
"I don't understand."
He buried his face in her hair, taking in the smell of her. Chakkan
oil and a musky bittersweet scent he'd never been able to place,
something foreign yet familiar.
she said. He could feel her body tense next to his, the first step
to her pulling away from him, closing herself off. That was the
only dance he knew.
"This. Us together.
Now." He pulled her closer but the moment seemed fractured, the
magic that they'd cast disappearing into dust. He should have kept
his mouth shut, just been content with the moment.
to face him. Hurt and uncertainty lit her eyes. The harshness of
the soldier had melted into the pain of a woman who had waited for
him, searched for him and he was immediately sorry he'd said anything.
"Do you regret
this, John?" She didn't turn away but met his gaze head on and suddenly
he felt like the universe's biggest jackass. What the hell was his
"No." He sighed.
"This was all too much to hope for or to even imagine."
thought of it then?" Her voice was firm.
softly. "Every damn day, when I had time to think."
"Did you think
I was dead? Did you think I wouldn't look for you?"
I didn't know what to think. The last time I saw you, a couple of
Peacekeeper strong arms were pulling you away from meŠand then I
woke up and got the royal treatment from Grayza."
She sat up
and turned away from him, pulling the blanket to her chest. She
drew her knees up and rested her chin on them. His gaze rested on
the curve of her back; he resisted the urge to trace each mark with
"What do you
want to know?" she said.
"What do you
see now, when you look at me?" He thought he'd laid the ghost to
rest, but seeing her here now, feeling her beside him, being inside
her, had made him realize that it was all a new experience for him.
There'd only been one other night, one encounter that they'd both
chosen to overlook almost as quickly as it had happened. *"Fellip's
a creature on Tarsus."* How many times had he heard those words
echo from his past along with the images they'd conjured up?
It was petty
to even worry about it.
her head and looked at him as he lay there. He glanced at her briefly
and then away. Looking at her right now was like staring directly
into a bright light; he couldn't look too long or she'd blind him.
There was too much pain reflected back at him. He felt his neck
start to itch but he didn't scratch at it.
she said. "I can't live this life anymore, John. You've had children.
You've had a home. I've had nothing but hope that I'd find you."
hope," he murmured. He'd had everything but hope. If nothing else,
he'd learned to live in the present, face the facts. Dwelling too
long on the past had cost him a couple of times and only Braca,
of all people, had been there to save his ass. One more drunken
episode would have lost him any remaining goodwill Grayza had been
willing to extend, wormholes or not. Thinking about Aeryn had driven
him to binge on fellip nectar more than once, to yearn for flying,
for MoyaŠfor her. He had directed that love to his children, the
energy to his work. He had dreamed, sure, but he had stopped hoping
a long time ago.
"Ah." A groan
escaped him involuntarily and he flung his arm over his eyes. "Wormholes,"
he said. "I close my eyes and I still see wormholes. I see battleships
sucked into nothing, civilizations lost." His mouth twisted into
something that almost felt like a smile. "All that knowledge Scorpy
wanted and couldn't get his hands on. Grayza had me by the balls,
Aeryn, and there was nothing I could do to stop her."
"You did what
you had to do, John."
"And so did
you." He moved his hand towards her back, gingerly picking his way
across the rough skin. "She did this to you, didn't she."
"AfterŠI tried to fight them, John. I didn't want them to take you
or A'lya but there were too many of them and there was nothing I
could do. I would have died except for D'Argo finding me with those
frelling coms Scorpius had left us." She paused and he saw her spine
tense up. "It was my fault. All of it."
said. Why not? Wasn't that what it had always come down to? One
guy had split off with her and he, the other guy, had gone on alone.
One guy died, one lived. One guy had gotten her pregnant, the other
had raised their daughter‹John's own daughter and the last part
of Aeryn that he thought he'd ever see. For that gift, he was eternally
grateful to the other guy.
"No," she said
harshly. "There is no fate, John. We are here because every action
we've taken as led us here. I left you once, a long time ago, and
labeled it fate. I will not do that again. Do you understand that?"
She turned her body to him, her eyes fierce, dark hair falling forward
around her face.
"Why did the
Nebari help you find me?" he asked but already equations began to
couple themselves in his head until his mind was filled with a blue,
whirling expanse that sucked everything towards it. His past. Gone.
His present. Gone. Wormholes had kept him alive and useful to the
Peacekeepers and they would be his saviors again.
them your help in exchange for our protection and freedom. The Resistance
needs to maintain a balance of power. Without it, the Establishment
will easily overrun them." She kept her eyes lowered.
the palms of both hands against his forehead. She sat naked in front
of him but her words sounded like every Peacekeeper report he'd
ever heard. Balance of power. The three most important words in
the universe and somehow they had managed to come attached to the
name John Crichton.
this deal in exchange for meŠfor us." How many people would have
to die, how many worlds destroyed so that one man could live his
life in peace? He reached out his hand and placed it under her chin,
lifting her face until her eyes met his. She had said something
to him a long time ago, before they'd lost each other on Grayza's
command carrierŠ "Before anything else happensŠI want you to know.
I love you, John Crichton. You. And I'm sorry."
"I'm a coward,"
she said simply, her eyes finally meeting his. "I was afraid toŠto
go on alone. Chiana and IŠD'ArgoŠwe found Nerri and I enlisted in
their cause. Chiana tried to stop me, tried to keep me from forming
the alliance with them butŠ"
"But they made
promises," John said.
"Yes. The Nebari would find you, take you from the Peacekeepers,
in exchange for your assistance in harnessing wormhole technology
for them." She reached out and touched his face. "I'm sorry. I failedŠI
failed to see the larger spectrum of things."
"So they sent
some Nebari spies onto Beta Station to find out stuff about me.
How did they even know where to start?"
legendary and her deeds are well reported." Aeryn ran both hands
over her hair, agitated. "And Chiana saw your image in a celebration
on a Sebacean settlement when the Scarrans were defeated."
that was over ten cycles ago." Ten cycles since the Peacekeepers
had won that particular war. Even now, he was often awakened by
recollections of the Peacekeeper victory. The bodies of Scarrans
had lain scattered over the last bits of Peacekeeper territory that
the Scarrans had tried to hold, before the wormhole weaponry had
been able to consume the last of their dreadnoughts. The few remaining
Scarran had been scattered to the wind, put into camps under Peacekeeper
watch to prevent them from regrouping. Effectively, there were no
Scarrans left in the galaxy.
Yes." Her head nodded imperceptibly and her eyes held a far off
out and touched her again, the ridges on her back, the curve of
her face. She drew the blanket toward her, suddenly uncomfortable
with the closeness of their bare bodies. She started to her feet,
but he grabbed her hand before she was able to move away from him.
He expected anger in her expression but it was calm, almost defeated.
He didn't need to remind her how long ago it had all been. She carried
on her body and in her eyes all the proof of their separation.
he began. "It should never have been created. I didn't see the big
picture either. I was only trying to save our daughter's life."
He took a deep breath. "She was all I had left of you."
"And I was
only trying to find you both." She turned to him and tried to smile.
"We should go," she said quietly. "Your daughters are anxious to
see that you're in good health."
"No." He sat
up and turned her towards him, his hands gripping her arms. "Aeryn.
I love you."
"I know," she
said simply. "I've wagered the last fifteen cycles of my life on
her. She stood and looked down at him, a slight smile on her lips.
"There's so much we have to tell them, John. Your children deserve
Now." He watched as she walked towards her sleeping quarters then
he laid back, his eyes on the closed door. The water started to
run in the fresher; he closed his eyes. Merging in his mind were
the wormholes and the scars he'd seen on her back and millions of
beings, dying around him as she had traversed the Uncharteds looking
for him and A'lya. Her body bore only the visible impetus for vengeance.
What lay inside her had to be worse. It was a wonder that she hadn't
tried to kill Grayza herself.
his neck gingerly, resting his fingers for a moment on the raised
surface, then grabbed his clothes and followed her to her sleeping
"I'm not so
sure Crichton's going to go for this." Chiana leaned over the table,
her eyes glancing around as she kept watch for John's daughters
to return from the food line. The Chiadda was a well-stocked ship
but it was still a battle carrier and there was no place for servers
or food runners. Everyone took care of himself; this similarity
to the Peacekeeper way seemed to be of some comfort to Crichton's
daughters, especially the older one. Chiana could see the way the
girl's posture had relaxed. A'lya Lyczac stood as if always at attention.
The Luxan across
from her frowned, his brows furrowing deeply. He hissed slightly
and Chiana sat back, smiling, and reached out a hand to cuff him
on the shoulder.
on, D'Argo, that's not going to scare me one bit," she said. "I'm
just letting you know: CrichtonŠheŠhe's not the same."
"Did you expect
him to be?" D'Argo's deep voice was almost a whisper. His eyes glanced
at the girls who were still examining the food piled before them
on long, silver tables. "How are those daughters going to take it?"
should I know?" Chiana nodded in the girls' direction. "The little
one seems all rightŠ"
"She's Grayza's daughter too, Chiana. And the otherŠ" He sighed
and shook his head. "The other is Aeryn's daughter. A'lyaŠ" He let
the word roll off his tongue like he was tasting it. "Two Peacekeeper
cadets, raised in the Peacekeeper system. I wouldn't be surprised
if either of them contacted Grayza herself, like a good Peacekeeper
his statement with a wave of her hand. "We didn't tell him about
you, D'Argo, so try to control yourself. He's still a little weak."
She smiled. "And Aeryn probably took the last little bit of his
his head. "Frell. That's all you think about." He reached over and
touched her cheek playfully. "Not that it was such a bad thingŠ"
for awhile, didn't it?" Their physical relationship was long over
but the fondness she felt for D'Argo would never go away. He had
become more like a brother than an ex-lover after they'd lost Crichton.
He had watched over her and Aeryn then, had acted as their protector
and often the voice of reason. Who would have thought that a Luxan
could have been the voice of reason?
"Chiana. Let's focus, right? Crichton. You need to tell him what
back. "IŠI justŠI'm not sure this was the right thing to do."
"We have Crichton
back," D'Argo said simply. "Did she have any other choice?"
and turned her head again towards the two girls who were making
their way back to the table. After three days, the younger one was
still fascinated by everything around her, much like her father
had once been. If anything, it was A'lya who worried her. There
was something hard about her, impenetrable, more than anything relating
to her Peacekeeper upbringing or DNA from Aeryn. The only time she'd
seemed at ease was in John's presence.
food there?" Chiana asked A'lya, staring at the meager portions
the girl had put on her plate.
"It's not familiar
to me," she said, looking around. "Where's our father?"
"He's on his
way," D'Argo assured her. He leaned forward, staring at her across
the table. "You're very proud of your father, aren't you?"
"He's a hero,"
Melanie said. "A Peacekeeper hero." She picked at the food on her
plate and stared at D'Argo. "I've never met a Luxan before."
her sister in the ribs and Melanie gave her a hurt look. "It's true,"
mean it has to be announced."
"Let her finish,"
D'Argo said. "So what races have you met?"
Melanie said. "There were a few other races on Beta station, mostly
servers." She looked at Chiana. "My father is a Captain," she continued,
sounding both puzzled and resigned. "But he never even had a personal
Her eyes brightened
as she continued. "I do know a few aliens, techs who work with my
father." She hesitated, an uncertain expression barely appearing
before her cool mask slipped back into place. She corrected herself
with a firm voice. "*Worked* with my father."
snorted. He turned to Chiana, but she dismissed him with a wave.
"WhatŠhas your father told you about other races?" he ventured.
to A'lya but the girl was busying herself with the little bit of
food she'd put on her plate. "Well," Melanie began. "He's told us
that we should not dis...discriminate among other races. He says
we should treat them the way we treat each other." She paused and
looked down. "I'm a half breed," she said quietly. "But I know my
father loves me." She lifted a shoulder in a slight shrug and turned
her attention to her food.
Chiana's eyes. "None of this makes any sense to me. Why would the
Nebari want my father? What is Aeryn Sun to them that they would
do this for her?"
you myself if it interests you."
her head around at the sound of Aeryn's voice. Chiana took a deep
breath. None of them had looked forward to this moment; least of
all Aeryn, but they had all agreed that it would have to be met
as soon as possible.
next to Aeryn, his hand resting on her shoulder. They both looked
drawn, much of their earlier playfulness replaced by something closer
to melancholy. The sight made Chiana turn away. It wasn't supposed
to happen like this. She had told Aeryn to let Nerri break the news
to John, to let him or Meelak explain what the Nebari wanted but
Aeryn had refused. It was her choice and her consequence.
as John's gaze rested on him. John's face lit up in a smile and
he hurried around the table to embrace his friend.
"D! Bro, they
didn't tell me you were here." He looked at Chiana and Aeryn. "You
girls were holding out on me." He put an arm around D'Argo. "Riddle
me this‹a Sebacean, a Nebari and a Luxan walk into a barŠ"
returned the hug and released him. "As usual, I have no frelling
idea what you're talking about."
his head. "Me neither." He took a step back, his expression clouded,
then he turned to his daughters. "You guys met D'Argo, right? Pip,
you did the introductions?"
"Such as they
were," D'Argo said.
so much to say," John said. "A'lya, Melanie, this Luxan saved my
ass more times than I can count. And the times he wasn't saving
it, he was trying to kill me. Man, it's good to see you." He looked
down as tears sprung to his eyes and he seemed to sway. Aeryn immediately
braced herself against him for support.
said quietly. "Let's all return to our quarters."
her parents, John leaning heavily against Aeryn as they traversed
*Chiadda's* corridors. Aeryn Sun had carried herself like a soldier‹like
a Peacekeeper‹head held high, proud, almost arrogant in her long
strides. But with John leaning against her, she was humbled. Her
head was bent towards him, one arm supporting him tenderly. A'lya's
only concern was for her father; this morning he had looked happy,
younger. Now he almost seemed like an old man.
She had tried
the words in her mind: "my mother." *My mother is escorting my father
through the corridors*, she thought but the words seemed forced
and unnatural. Melanie walked beside her, arms swinging at her sides,
her gait very much like their father's in good health‹loose, easy,
comfortable. Perhaps it was the difference between being a child
and a young woman but A'lya couldn't remember ever feeling as carefree
or confident as her younger sister. Again, her eyes were drawn to
the woman in front of her. Aeryn Sun. Was this just another part
of the woman's legacy to A'lya?
a hand on her sister's shoulder and Melanie smiled up at her, a
comforting smile, and patted A'lya's hand. "It's okay," she mouthed
and A'lya returned her sister's smile. How could she think it was
okay when their father looked so fragile?
at the door that A'lya assumed were their family quarters. How long
were they to live as "guests" of the Nebari? Aeryn ran her palm
over the door control and the door slid open softly. She stepped
in with John at her side. A'lya was relieved to see that he had
regained his composure.
light filled the room, made more remarkable by its contrast to the
sleek blue corridors of *Chiadda*. A'lya noted the colorful pillows
and throws scattered over the various bits of furniture, the furniture
itself heavy and soft. It looked like something from a commerce
planet; she had never lived in this kind of luxury, even under Councilor
your quarters, Aeryn?" Melanie asked. She walked to one of the couches
and stared at it doubtfully. A'lya remained standing near the door,
arms crossed in front of her.
Mel," John said. He eased down onto the couch and took Melanie's
hand, sitting her beside him. Aeryn sat in the single chair across
from the couch. Chiana and D'Argo also sat down, D'Argo in another
chair and Chiana on the floor, apart from the rest of them. John
ruffled Melanie's hair. "How are you doing, hon?"
Melanie confessed. "I don't understand what's happening or why."
She looked at A'lya and paused until A'lya nodded her head slightly.
The child continued.
"I want to
go home," she said. "I know whatever emergency sent us away from
the station is over now. When will we go home?" She leaned against
a glance at Aeryn. Sun gazed at her hands clenched together in front
of her, then looked towards Chiana and D'Argo. Both looked back,
helpless. Had none of them foreseen Melanie's reaction?
father's voice called out to her softly. "Please. Come sit with
us." He patted the seat beside him. She pushed herself towards him
and sat down. He put his arm around her, hugging her tightly. She's
seen that expression on his face before‹he was afraid of losing
her. *Honey, there's a lot you don't know about me*. He'd
said that then and now she understood how sincere he had been.
His arms around
her were a comfort and she leaned into him like Melanie had. "IŠI'm
glad you're okay, Dad," she said. Again, she cast a glance at Aeryn
but the blue-gray eyes were looking away from John Crichton and
his daughters. John leaned over and kissed the top of A'lya's head.
to be okay, A'lya, Mel," he said. "IŠWe‹" He glanced at Aeryn. She
met his gaze and smiled wearily.
"I love your
father," Aeryn began. "Don't ever doubt that, either one of you.
I would die for him if necessary." She reached out her hand and
John extended his‹their fingertips touched then she dropped her
hand onto her lap.
"You're a traitor,"
A'lya said. "A deserter." She looked at both Aeryn and John then
away from them. "YouŠ" She pointed at Aeryn. "You destroyed a command
carrier. A Gammak base. I know these things. You killed Peacekeepers."
The words escaped her lips before she could stop them; she was surprised
by the rancor she heard in her own voice.
his hold on her. "No. A'lya, you don't get it." He glanced at A'lya.
"It wasn't just Aeryn."
"I know that
too," A'lya said. She felt him release his hold on her.
said. She held out a hand to silence him. "John. We did what we
had to do. Both of us."
"There is a
reason for killing Peacekeepers?" A'lya said, staring at Aeryn.
"I can understand my fatherŠHe wasn't born a Peacekeeper. But you‹these
were your people!"
darkened but she didn't look away. Yes," she said quietly. "Yes,
You're right. I admitted my crimes to Commandant Grayza fifteen
cycles ago in an effort to gain your freedom and John's. Yours for
mine. As you can see, she was not interested in that arrangement."
Melanie began. "What did she do to you and A'lya? And why?"
"She did her
duty," Aeryn said. She couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice
but she stared straight at Melanie. "And her actions are not yours.
You are John Crichton's daughter."
reached out his hand and brushed his fingers over her arm. She turned
to look at him. His eyes looked past her, lost in a memory. "A'lya,
there's a reason for everything. AerynŠhad been stabbed by some
PK commando who had boarded our ship. MoyaŠshe's a LeviathanŠ."
out there, Crichton," Chiana broke in. "She wants to see you again."
words seem to bring him back to the present and he nodded in acknowledgment.
"Moya," he repeated. "A'lya, it was a long time ago, probably just
monans after I'd gotten to the Uncharted Territories. Aeryn's paraphoral
nerve was damaged in the stabbing and she needed a nerve graft.
Chi and I took the commando's ident chip and bluffed our way onto
the Gammak base. What we didn't know was that the Peacekeepers were
developing wormhole technology there, under a scientist named Scorpius.
Chi got the graft away for Aeryn, but I got caught." A'lya saw a
tiny shudder run through him.
Scorpius put John in the Aurora chair," D'Argo said.
a neural clone in his head," Chiana added.
I was a spy," John said. "I'd had an encounter with a raceŠthe Ancients,
and they'd given me wormhole knowledge but not the manual to figure
it out. Scorpy found all that out in the chair. He hoped that his
clone would gather all the information so that he could develop
this technology to beat the Scarrans. The clone took over my personality
andŠ" A'lya saw him glance at Aeryn. She shook her head.
said. "You what?"
"I killed Aeryn,"
John said quietly.
stood up. "This is farboht!" She looked down at her father but his
eyes were locked on Aeryn's. A'lya stood between them and he looked
up at her.
he said quietly. "Sit down, A'lya. Whether you like it or not, this
is your past too. And none of us really feels like re-living it
so sit down, shut up and let us finish."
The words stung
like she'd been slapped. She sat next to him as she was told. He
made no move to comfort her but looked at Aeryn again, nodding,
as she picked up the thread of the story.
said. "There's more. Much more."
Melanie looked between Aeryn and her father, overwhelmed.
"We had a Delvian
shipmate," Aeryn said. "She shared Unity with me so that I would
live. She sacrificed herself for all of us when another race threatened
our ship." A'lya could see tears forming in Aeryn Sun's steely gaze
as the woman looked at John. "She meant for us to love each other,
I think." She reached out for John's hand and this time he leaned
forward and squeezed her hand in return.
"John and I separated laterŠ" She stared at the floor and her voice
was barely audible. "John was doubled by a madman. One John stayed
on Moya. I went with the other on Moya's offspring Talyn." A'lya
saw her mother's hand tighten around John's.
"Two of me,"
John said and laughed slightly. "A'lyaŠ" He released Aeryn's hand
and turned to A'lya. He brushed her hair away from her face and
she saw the concern in his clear blue eyes. He was her father again,
calm, loving, the man she'd known for fifteen cycles but who recently
had seemed like a stranger. "The other guyŠhe was me. Same
DNA, same everything until we split up and started living two different
lives. He died trying to prevent the Scarrans from getting the wormhole
technology. He saw how destructive it was and knew it couldn't be
good for the universe. We all knew it." He glanced quickly at Aeryn.
her throat and looked at A'lya. The expression on Aeryn's face told
A'lya what she needed to know but Aeryn continued anyway.
"When I returned
to Moya, I was pregnant with you, A'lya. I wasn't even aware of
it. I couldn't faceŠI couldn't face JohnŠ" She looked away. "But
I stayed long enough to help him destroy Scorpius' Carrier so that
the wormhole technology would never fall into Peacekeeper hands.
And then I left him.
turned and faced her daughter. A'lya snapped her head up at the
mention of her name. "Your name, Lyczac, was my father's. Talyn
Lyczac. John and I did not give you that name. You were stolen from
was soft but emphatic in its inflection. Talyn Lyczac. The name
meant nothing to A'lya. She could see Aeryn's angular jaw tighten
with the strain of trying to control emotion.
"How was I
Śstolen'?" A'lya asked. She sat up, her attention directed at this
mystery in front of her. For cycles, she'd believed that her mother
was dead. For cycles, she'd been a constant reminder to her father
of the love he'd lost. Now she wasn't so sure it was a love he'd
She tried to
concentrate, tried to see how each event lined up against the other.
There were details, things she was sure they had to be leaving out,
but she dared not ask. She had already heard much more than she
bit her lip and stared at her hands again. "Scorpius. When I left
John, I attempted to join a group of Peacekeepers who still believed
in the ideals I did. But it was a trap for me and for John. I was
the bait. And you, A'lya, you were taken from me before I even knew
that I was carrying you inside me."
away from John and stared at Aeryn Sun. "My father is the other
Crichton," she said quietly. She leaned against John again. "The
one she lost."
is the man who risked his freedom and his life to help me find you
on the Command Carrier," Aeryn said. "John Crichton is your father.
He wouldn't let me go alone after I realized you had been taken
from me. He knew that he had notŠbeen involved in your conception
but it didn't matter to him. And he has been your father for fifteen
cycles. Look at youŠ" Her voice was soft and she leaned in towards
A'lya. "You have his eyes. And his heart." She reached out her hand
to stroke A'lya's face, but it was too much, too much to hear, too
much to be believed. A'lya turned her cheek away.
I heard of this Scorpius?" A'lya asked. She stood again, hugging
herself as she stared at both of them, waiting for an answer.
his head. "I don't know what happened to him. I‹we‹last saw him
when he skipped out on us on Grayza's Carrier after Aeryn and I
had *persuaded* him to help us." He looked from Aeryn to D'Argo
and finally at Chiana. "Guys? You know, Peacekeepers don't carry
CNN‹what the hell happened to Scorpius?"
D'Argo said. His eyes flicked at Aeryn and then away.
A'lya saw her
father pick up on that slight interaction. His expression changed
as some realization dawned on him. He raised a questioning eyebrow
at Aeryn. She looked at him, her face expressionless, but her posture
told a different story. Her body seemed folded in on itself, elbows
on her knees, hands clasped in front of her. Her fingers worked
against each other, one thumb worrying a finger; it looked like
she would scrape her skin raw rather than speak.
said softly. He leaned forward and reached for her hands, unclasping
them from each other, and ran his fingers soothingly over hers.
"Aeryn. What happened to Scorpius?"
"He came back
to Moya, Crichton," Chiana said. "He was looking for you. Aeryn
wasŠAeryn was dying and she needed a transfusion. He was the closest
thing to a Sebacean we had. I don't know how Sikozu did it but she
managed to mix the blood so that it was compatible."
"I doubt Grayza
expected that Aeryn would survive or she would have had them finish
the job," D'Argo said. "Scorpius followed the signal from those
comms he'd given you. I don't think he ever thought that you'd get
separated from him. Or from each other."
him that helping Aeryn was the only way he'd get to you," Chiana
continued. "You know‹bait. He was desperate, I guess. HeŠwell, he
stuck around, waiting to see if she'd live or dieŠ" Her voice trailed
off and she hung her head. "Maybe it wasn't the best idea we ever
had, what with Aeryn's state of mind and all, but it seemed to make
sense at the timeŠ"
At first, A'lya
thought John Crichton was trying to suppress a sneeze. She heard
a sound like a snort, then it was two snorts until his face was
red, eyes watering. Crazy laughter retched out of his throat. Melanie
stared in horror and recoiled from him but the mirthless laughter
continued until he wiped at the tears rolling down his face.
the bastard, didn't you, Aeryn." He stood up. "How did you do it?
How did you make sure that he was finally dead this time? I mean,
we couldn't blow him up on the Gammak Base. We didn't get his ass
at the depository. Grayza wasn't able to keep him in a grave. How
up close and personal did you have to get?"
Chiana was on her feet, her hand on his elbow. "This isn't what
we're here to talk about."
He pulled away,
hands on his hips, legs apart, steadying himself. His coloring had
returned to near normal but he was perspiring and it made A'lya
afraid, both of the man in front of her and the possibility of his
collapsing again. It was his true face: *John Crichton. *Destruction
of Gammak base*. *Destruction of Command Carrier*. *Terrorist.*
In her mind,
she could see the image of the young man in the holo. She hadn't
reconciled that sight with the man she knew as Jak Lyczac. But she
saw him now, the two parts of him juxtaposed so that the tender,
patient, loving man she knew as her father was also John Crichton,
a man capable of vast destruction. He had passion in him that she'd
never witnessed. He was someone who'd been willing to do whatever
it took to protect those he loved.
All of them
were staring at Aeryn, waiting. Finally, she looked up at John and
breathed out. "I shot him," she said simply and looked away.
"And his blood
runs through your veins. That's just *fan*-tastic." John sat down
with a thump, almost landing on Melanie. For him, there was no one
in the room but Aeryn; A'lya could feel the burden of the cycles
between them. Without meaning to, she rested a comforting hand on
Aeryn's shoulder; the woman didn't react. Aeryn Sun's expression
was smooth as a stone.
"See what I
mean, A'lya?" Chiana said. She stood in front of A'lya, her body
twisting in its odd way, her face coming within inches of A'lya's.
"That's what you call abandoning you and your father. Aeryn and
Crichton went to the Carrier to find you after she figured out that
Scorpius had taken you. We thought she was insane. She didn't want
Crichton to go but he insisted because that's what he does. He looks
out for the people he loves. They got caught‹the Peacekeepers kept
John so he'd create their wormholes. You were leverage so he'd do
what they said. And Aeryn had the dren kicked out of her and was
spaced. Got that?"
the truth. And since when did we stop facing up to the truth?"
away from Chiana. "Just stop. All of you." She looked at Aeryn.
"So, you killed the Peacekeeper who separated us. How many other
Peacekeepers have you killed between the Command Carrier and your
it," D'Argo said. "What he did to you and John was just a small
part of all he'd done to John during those three cycles."
held out her hands. "I don't want to hear it. I do not want
to know any more." She turned to her father. "What does this mean,
He shook his
head. "It means Aeryn deserves an award for being the most efficient
at killing Scorpius. The bastard deserved to die way before she
did the job." He looked at her, his face hard. "The other John died
trying to keep this weapon from the Scarrans. We destroyed the Carrier
to keep it from Scorpius and the Peacekeepers, thinking that was
the lesser of evilsŠ" His voice trailed off. "When all came to all,
Grayza had the thing I valued most‹you, A'lya. And now the Nebari
want me to do the same thing for them in exchange for our freedom."
up suddenly, eyes wide. "Daddy‹Dad, we were free! My mother is a
Councilor. We had everything we needed." She turned to Aeryn. "The
Peacekeepers will kill you if we aren't returned. She will come
after us. Daddy, please."
"I never should
have done this," Aeryn said. She shifted in her chair towards D'Argo
and Chiana. "She must be returned."
"It's too late,"
voice rose over theirs. "No, Melanie. We weren't free. I was Grayza's
prisoner. To the extent that she can love, I'm sure that she cares
for you as her daughter. But she is also capable of thingsŠ" He
sighed. "She'll stop at nothing to get what she wants."
knelt down in front of her sister. "You heard the Councilor. You
heard what she said she'd do." She put her hands on Melanie's shoulders.
"She called us half-breeds. You saw her, Mel. She's already hurt
I know that," Melanie said loudly. "I know. I heard her. I saw her.
I know what she said about all of us." She turned back to John.
"She won't give up! Please before anything else happens or you're
hurt again. Let's just go back. She'll give you another chance if
we promise never do anything like this again."
that simple, Melanie," John said.
"We have to
do what Dad says is best," A'lya said. "And you're too young to
make those decisions." She looked at the rest of them gathered in
the room. Aeryn had turned around in her chair, head down, and her
back to them. The Luxan narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her; it
was easy to read his thoughts. All he saw was a Peacekeeper. Melanie's
arms were crossed over her chest‹she was trying to look strong but
A'lya could see the fear in her little sister's eyes.
of what Melanie said was true but the only person whose opinion
mattered or whom she trusted was her father. Jak Lyczac or John
Crichton, it didn't matter. She turned to him. "You said we were
a unit, Dad. We will remain one."
out and took her hand. "Thanks, baby."
All of them started as Meelak's voice sounded over a comlink in
the room. "*Please meet us in the command chamber at once. Bring
the Luxan and Chiana*." Aeryn stood quickly, looking almost grateful
for the distraction.
"Call to arms,"
John said. "If it's all the same to you, I need a time-out."
Chiana said. She looked at D'Argo and cocked her head towards the
door. He glanced at Aeryn, then paused and laid a gentle hand on
John's slumped shoulder before striding from the room.
towards the doorway but stopped and turned back to where A'lya sat
with her sister and father. She crouched down in front of John and
put one hand on his knee. The expression in her eyes was pleading;
A'lya could see no trace of the Peacekeeper in the woman's face.
cycles, I've only wanted one thing," she said quietly. "This." She
took John's hand and squeezed it. A'lya could see the pain in her
father's eyes, but he pulled his hand away and rubbed his lower
lip thoughtfully with one thumb, his other hand holding Melanie's.
"Tell me what
you want me to do," Aeryn said.
"You know what
this weapon can do," he said. "You know the destruction it's caused.
JustŠjust do the right thing, Aeryn."
and stood up. "The right thing," she repeated. "For whom?" She didn't
wait for an answer as she turned away, posture straight and sure,
and let the door slide closed behind her.
Chiana were waiting for her just outside the doorway. "Well, we
really frelled that up," Chiana said.
through the corridors towards the command chamber. Nerri's summons
had come at the worst time, leaving John and his daughters struggling
over their next move. Too many conflicting agendas lay before Aeryn.
Military strategy had never been a problem for her. The strategy
of the heart was still a mystery; she knew her heart and she knew
John's but she had not guessed that his daughters would be so headstrong,
that her own daughter would be so unwilling to let her in.
you tell him the truth about Scorpius?" D'Argo said.
warned. "Fekkik! Just drop it, all right?"
more important issues at stake, D'Argo," Aeryn said.
"He needs to
know," D'Argo said. "And you need to explain all of it, for your
sake as well as his."
ahead of him then stopped, leaning against the wall for support,
still surprised that even after fifteen cycles, she could still
feel such hatred towards Scorpius. It was still vivid in her mind,
so vivid that she often woke up with the feeling that his blood
was still on her.
Scorpius had woken to find her astride him, her pulse pistol pressed
to his forehead. His face had fixed itself into a brittle, ironic
smile. "It appears you've come to thank me for saving your life."*
*"I want my
face to be the last thing you see before you die." Her voice hadn't
even sounded like her own. She had spent almost seven monans recovering
from her injuries and during that entire time, Scorpius had hovered
over her like a scavenger smelling a near dead creature. He'd had
no other place to go. His connections to the Carrier had been severed
once she and John had broken its security. Co-Kurra was dead and
the rest of the crew had been made aware of the breach and the consequences
of any allegiance to the half-breed. She'd been his remaining link
to Crichton and they'd both known it.*
*His eyes had
narrowed and his body tensed to move, but before he could throw
her aside, she'd fired. Bits of blood and bone had splattered her
and the walls of his cell. There was nothing left of his face and
she could see the cooling rods as they changed from blue to black.
There was no doubt‹Scorpius was dead.*
staring at him, the pistol clattering to the floor at her side,
her still weak legs shaking beneath her. She'd felt strangely electric,
the blast still echoing in her ears. She hadn't heard Pilot's frantic
cry "Shots fired!" nor had she heard the footsteps that had run
Sikozu had put a hand over her mouth in shock. "You killed him."*
grabbed both her shoulders and turned her to face him. "What the
hezmana did you do, Aeryn? He was supposed to help us find John."
He'd shaken her until she'd blinked at him in recognition.*
D'Argo. I did it. He's dead." And then she had wiped at something
on her face and stared at the blood on her fingertips until her
entire body had begun to shake. She had turned away from them all
and shuffled back to her quarters, getting back into bed with Scorpius'
blood still on her.*
grabbed at her arm. "Aeryn. Stop. It was cycles ago. Things were
Yes, things had been different. Her mission to the Command Carrier
with John had ended in utter despair. She had never failed at anything
so miserably nor suffered the consequences for so long.
to both of them, D'Argo standing behind Chiana and looking sorry
that he'd said anything. "You would propose that I tell John's daughters
that I‹" She had killed Scorpius out of sheer hatred and emotion.
Certainly, she had killed before but those deaths, while no less
permanent, had been either her duty or self-defense.
At the time,
she had begun to make a mental list. Scorpius. Grayza. Those who'd
wronged her, who'd stolen from her, who'd hurt John and who'd torn
her future from her. As she had murdered Scorpius, she had made
notes, cold mental calculations of how much longer it would take
her to kill Grayza and how much more Grayza would suffer.
as she had surely went against anything John would have taught their
daughter. Peacekeeper training placed no value on individual life,
only the good of the service. John would never have allowed his
children to believe that. The look on A'lya's face was proof of
that, the disgust in her eyes when she had looked at Aeryn. She
clearly regarded her mother as an amoral killer.
"You need to
let it go, Aeryn." D'Argo rested a heavy hand on her shoulder. "You
have them back now. It's finished."
problem. Grayza still lives. I don't know that I can." She pulled
away from both of them and walked towards the command chamber.
voice was soft behind her. "Let's drop it for now, all right? Nerri's
waiting for us."
He nodded and
let his hand fall to his side as they walked silently to Nerri's
looked up as the door slid open and the three of them entered the
chamber. Meelak stood off to the side, having shed his body armor
for a black tunic and matching trousers. Nerri was dressed similarly.
Chiana threw herself into her brother's arms for a hug and then
stood beside him, her arm around his waist. Aeryn knew that for
Chiana, the only thing better than finding John had been their ability
to locate Nerri.
It had taken
them three cycles to locate Nerri's resistance movement. By then,
Rygel had returned to Hyneria under a flag of truce. His cousin
had long since been overthrown and the Hynerian Empire had fallen
into disarray. Aeryn still couldn't believe that the Dominar's people
would have been so undyingly loyal to him; she'd actually found
herself impressed by his leadership skills. Zhaan had been the only
one of them who had ever managed to see any greatness in Dominar
XVI, in his infinite wisdom (as he had taken care to remind them)
had at least set them on a path to locating the Nebari Resistance.
By then, the movement had grown strong but not strong enough to
have overtaken Nebari Prime and its Establishment. It was Nerri's
belief that the only way to maintain a balance with Nebari Prime
and its superior strength was to possess the same weapon of mass
destruction that the Peacekeepers had used so handily against the
None of that
had mattered to Aeryn, or Chiana or D'Argo for that matter. Chiana
had only wanted to find her brother; Aeryn and D'Argo had planned
to help her in that endeavor until Aeryn could move forward with
searching for John and A'lya. She had not planned that the Nebari
Resistance would bring her here, aboard its most powerful cruiser
with John, A'lya and Mele-On Grayza's daughter just two tiers below.
Chiana tousled his hair and Nerri smiled broadly then attempted
to regain his composure.
"We have a
problem," Meelak interjected, his shiny black eyes staring at Aeryn.
He pointed and her gaze followed his finger until her eyes met with
a holo image of Peacekeeper space. The holo showed Beta Station
and one Command Carrier.
carrier," Aeryn said. "Is she still aboard?"
"I assume so.
I don't have the intelligence in place to make certain," Meelak
said. "We have completely used up the element of surprise with the
rescue of Crichton and his offspring." He slid past the rounded
edge of the holo-table and planted himself in front of her. "Aeryn,
we've done our part. Does Crichton plan to do his?"
away. "I don't know."
"You don't know." He clasped his hands behind his back and started
pacing then stopped in front of her again, leaning in slightly in
an effort to intimidate her. It didn't work and she stared back
until his face broke into a false smile.
us in many ways, Aeryn," Nerri said. He walked towards them and
placed a warning hand on his second in command‹Meelak stepped back
towards the holo-table. "You've returned my sister to me. You've
given us information on the Peacekeeper power structure. I think
we have paid you back in kind." He smiled at her and rested his
hand on her shoulder.
argue that point, Nerri," Aeryn said. "But John isŠ" She turned
to Chiana and D'Argo. "I don't think John quite understands what
the situation is here. And I'm not certain that I can explain it
in any way that would make a difference."
"I know that
we promised you we wouldn't force the issue until he was ready,"
Nerri said. "But we must rethink our arrangements. Do you see that?"
He pointed to the holo again. She squinted at it and then nodded;
there was a pulse of light in the background, barely visible, more
of an energy signature than an actual thing.
"Do you recognize
it?" Meelak said.
She felt hollow in the pit of her stomach. Whatever happiness she
had experienced in the last four days had come at a great price.
These were the energy signatures of two full command carriers, the
Peacekeeper elite. They were not traveling at maximum speed but
rather were keeping their distance, waiting for a signal from the
lead Carrier. Grayza's Carrier.
can only go so far," Nerri said and smiled again. His smile was
sincere, brotherly but he was also responsible for his ship and
crew; he would not sacrifice them for the survival of one man without
there being some value in that exchange. "Unless there is something
we can do immediately, we may be at the mercy of three Peacekeeper
Command Carriers. I don't think I need to pursue the logistics of
that any further."
to him," Chiana said. All of them turned to her in surprise.
"No, no." She
waved them away. "There's too much other stuff going on between
Crichton and Aeryn." She looked at Aeryn, her smile almost apologetic.
"Aeryn, you and CrichtonŠyou have other dren you have to work out.
Don't let this frell it up."
"Fine. It's fine. If you think you can make a differenceŠ" But,
of course, Chiana was right. Things were too sensitive, too meaningful
for them to discuss the military ramifications.
"I'll go now."
Chiana stretched towards her brother and kissed him on the cheek.
"It'll work out."
"It had better,"
Meelak said, "Or we're all frelled."
spun, looping in and out of a tunnel of swirling blue until it came
to land on a desolate planet. John spilled out of the Farscape,
legs shaky beneath him. The smell of decay wafted through his nostrils
until it permeated his entire body. He cupped his hand over his
nose, eyes squinting into the blowing dust. Through the haze, he
could make out thousands of Sebacean corpses carpeting the landscape,
some burned beyond recognition, some lying so peacefully they looked
like they were sleeping.*
had to find Melanie and A'lya. In the midst of the destruction,
he saw a body tossed at an angle, clad in black leather. He ran
to it and looked down‹slim hands held fast to a pulse pistol. The
head was turned unnaturally and blue gray eyes stared at nothing
as the hot wind lifted the woman's black hair away from the dirt.*
*A voice spoke
behind him, cold and smooth. Even without turning, John could imagine
the hateful smile. Scorpius. "John. I told you that the Scarrans
would kill us all. You just didn't want to listen."*
turned his face up to the sky and screamed.*
hand was on him, shaking him hard enough to knock him on his side.
He was still sitting on the couch where he had fallen asleep, the
effects of Grayza's drug and the Nebari antidote still in his system.
Too much had happened in the last few days and now the dream had
returned too. His life seemed to be going in reverse, nothing the
way it should have been.
fine." He shook his head to clear it and ran both hands over his
face. The dream made him want to throw up; he hadn't had it in over
not. You were crying. What were you dreaming about?" A'lya sat beside
him and brushed a tear away from his cheek. He sat up on his own
and leaned his head back, staring at the smooth gray ceiling, amber
lights reflecting down upon him. The lighting reminded him of Moya.
He shook his
head. "Nothing. Nothing that I want to remember. YouŠyou okay?"
with what? With all I've heard?" She crossed her arms over her chest
protectively, that look in her eyes. The look was something he didn't
see often‹it made him work at every explanation until she was satisfied.
She had been raised a Peacekeeper and was accustomed to following
orders. But she was also his daughter and that made her question
those same orders.
he asked. Maybe there'd been some value to having the girls spend
limited amounts of time with him. Those limitations had kept them
from seeing how close to going insane he'd been. Or maybe "going
insane" was too mild a description. How close to insane he was,
all the time.
"I sent her
to explore the ship." A'lya smiled at him and brushed his hair away
from his forehead. "I think she was glad to do it. She'll be all
right. She's just scared."
you? Are you scared?" He studied her expression‹she looked down
and shook her head, averting her eyes from him.
it doesn't matterŠ˛ she said quietly. "AboutŠthe
other youŠ" She almost grimaced at the words.
He put an arm around her, feeling her thin body close to his. She
almost felt fragile next to him, a child in a young woman's body.
She had grown so much and he had missed so much of it, all those
things that he would have treasured on Earth‹first steps, first
tooth, first words, "daddy," birthdaysŠfunny how none of it had
mattered to him. In the world he'd inhabited, in the void that had
been created when he and Aeryn had been torn from each other, just
being allowed to see her, to acknowledge her as his flesh and blood
had been sufficient. Aeryn was right. The mechanics of how A'lya
had come to be weren't important. He was her father and he had never
doubted that from the first moment he'd laid eyes on her.
know how proud I am of you," he said. "And not because of your Prowler
ratings or your studies. I just wishŠ" He faltered. What did he
wish, now? That he could take Aeryn and Melanie and A'lya and get
the hell away from the Nebari and the Peacekeepers and live in anonymity.
To take back every cycle that Grayza had stolen from him and Aeryn,
to hold Aeryn Sun in his arms forever, to see her smile with unending
joy, for his daughters to love her as a mother. Was it all going
to be a fantasy that would never be realized?
to understand," A'lya said carefully like she was stepping her way
barefoot through broken glass. "You andŠAeryn. I can see that she
loves you very much, more than she should have as a Peacekeeper.
IŠI can understand."
mother," he said. "Aeryn is your mother. She'sŠshe's sacrificed
a lot just to see you again."
"And you. She's
done it for you." He felt her stiffen beside him.
daughter, A'lya. Nothing will change that. No matter what happens."
"I don't understand
how she got from there to, to here." Her long fingers traced the
air, exploring an imaginary timeline. "She was a Peacekeeper. I
know she was irreversibly contaminated. Jamoh showed me the vid
chip with that information. She's destroyed her own people. I don't
understand how, as a Peacekeeper, she would do any of that."
"It's a very
long story, honey." He smoothed her hair. "Aeryn was a Peacekeeper.
I came through on a wormhole, completely by mistake, from another
galaxy. Moya was a prisoner transport‹D'Argo was part of that‹and
she had broken away from the control collar. Aeryn was pursuing
us like a good Peacekeeper should, doing her duty. But then she
stood up for me against her commanding officer when he threatened
to dissect me just for the hell of it. She was doing the right thing‹she
knew I hadn't committed any crime. She got herself irreversibly
contaminated for her troubles."
her head. "I know you're leaving a lot out. I'm just not sure I
want to hear any more."
"And I'm not
sure I want to rehash it anymore. It's been a long four days and
I'm just sucked dry, A'lya. One day, when we have all the time in
the world, I'll explain it all. For now, you'll just have to accept
that you have a mother and a father and we both love you very much.
I was there when she offered her life for you‹for us‹and she was
telling you the truth when she says Grayza turned her down." He
paused, remembering the scars on Aeryn's body; would that be enough
to move A'lya? "I know she did all she could," he finished instead.
but he could see doubt and distrust lingering in her eyes. He was
almost too tired to care. His weariness had to be more than just
the collar or the Nebari medication; it was something from the gut
that wove its way through his bones, making him not want to do anything
more than just sit and consider the ceiling over his head.
The door slid
open and A'lya stood like a Peacekeeper cadet at attention. Chiana
stepped inside and smiled.
Cadet," she said. "Never thought I'd say that," she added, bounding
over to where John sat.
planted herself between the Nebari and John. "What brings you here?
Where is Aeryn? Have you finished with your brother?"
"I see you've
got a bodyguard, Crichton." Chiana stood on her toes and looked
over A'lya's shoulder down at where John sat. He smiled at her and
"It's a Peacekeeper
thing," he said. He tugged on A'lya's sleeve and she turned around,
her face flushed, undoubtedly still irritated by Chiana's outburst
earlier in the day. Were they still on the same day?
find your sister. Chi and I have to talk." He waved her towards
began. He tried to suppress a smile at the whine in her tone; she
sounded just like a teenager.
"He'll be in
one piece when you get back," Chiana said.
on." He leaned forward and patted her reassuringly on the arm. She
gave him one last, sharp look, resembling Aeryn so much at that
moment that he turned away. Then she gave Chiana a quick nod, turned
crisply on her heel and walked out.
said. "You can take the nixa out of the Peacekeepers but you sure
can't take the Peacekeeper out of the nixa." She plopped down next
to him, careful not to leave any space between them.
Sounds like you've been taking John Crichton speech lessons." He
put his arm around her and kissed her quickly.
put the moves on me, Crichton. Aeryn would shoot me and you're too
tempting to refuse." She laughed and kissed him on the cheek.
promises. Crichton." She looked at him, her expression serious.
"Yeah, I gotcha. Are you going to tell me how you and D'Argo and
Aeryn ended up as part of the Nebari Resistance? Cause, if so, let
me just put my feet up and grab some popcorn for this afternoon's
She shook her
head. "No time for that. The fact is, Crichton, Aeryn helped me
get here. And Nerri needs your help."
ran a thumb thoughtfully over his lips. "Yeah, I got that part.
Aeryn told me." He stood up and paced, working out the stiffness
that had settled in his legs. He couldn't remember the last time
he had spent so much time just sitting and doing nothing.
wants some wormhole help so they can have the same weapon as the
Peacekeepers and still hold back the Establishment," he recited.
"They're fighting on two fronts. Yeah, I get it. Mutual assured
destruction, I think they called it back on Earth. You figure the
other guy won't launch his nukes at you because you've got the same
nukes and you'll just launch them right back. That way the Peacekeepers
won't screw with the Resistance and the Resistance can kick the
Establishment's ass if it needs to. I mean, the Establishment still
has their contagion and god knows what else. Makes sense, right?
Turn the whole galaxy into one giant hole? No winners?"
Chiana held out her hand to reach his arm but he kept moving.
"This one song
keeps going through my head. I can't remember any words but theseŠ'*never
comes the day, for my love and me.'* Hell, I can't even remember
who sang it."
pacing and knelt down in front of Chiana. His face was wet and he
realized that he was crying‹again. But this time, it was the reality,
not a dream, which brought on the tears. He gripped her arms and
leaned towards her.
lived for fifteen cycles believing that I'd never see Aeryn again.
Here she is. I've done my duty, I've protected my kids, I've been
Grayza's whore and I've been her pet project and her decorated tech.
I've done everything I was supposed to do. I don't want to do it
anymore. Ś*Never comes the day, for my love and meŠ* I just want
the hell off this freak show of a life to someplace where no one
knows who I am or what I know."
The last words
were broken. He buried his face on the couch cushions, the fabric
rough against his face. She ran her fingers through his hair soothingly,
humming something indiscernible.
said quietly. "IŠI'm sorry. Maybe we completely frelled up your
life by rescuing you. Maybe Melanie was right."
He shook his
head and looked at her. "No. Even for one day with AerynŠno. I just
don'tŠ" He faltered. "I just don't know if I have it in me to go
on the run again. If I give this information to you, I'm a traitor.
My children are traitors and there won't be one place in this universe
where we'll be safe. Not with Grayza on our asses."
heavily. "That's the problem. She's already on our eemas, with two
other Carriers to back her up. One on one, she's no match for this
host ship. With two othersŠEither we find some way to outrun her,
out gun her or we're frelled. That's what I came to tell you."
He rolled onto
the couch, partially lying down, then cleared his throat. "Well,
then I guess the decision is made. I'm not starting a war. I'll
turn myself over to Grayza. I'll take Melanie with me; I know Grayza
won't hurt her. A'lyaŠA'lya stays with you and Aeryn and you get
them both the hell out of here to someplace where Grayza will never
shook her head. "No, no, no. I can't believe you're giving up, Crichton.
Frell!" She stood and paced then knelt down in front of him. "Don't
you get it? Either we all go or none of us do. But there's no way
I'm going to let you go back to that tralk Grayza. If you do, I'm
not going to be able to stop Aeryn from going after you."
"Pip, I don't
think you have much of a choice. Even if I were willing or able
to do something for the Nebari, there isn't time."
there's some other way."
"I don't see
But I do." She jumped to her feet. "I'll be back, Crichton. Don't
do anything stupid in the meantime." She went to the door and was
She was putting a hell of a lot of faith in him.
A'lya had wandered
the corridors of *Chiadda* but had finally found Melanie in the
last place she looked‹Chiana's quarters. Melanie sat alone on one
of Chiana's small, soft chairs, her attention directed at the pulse
pistol she held in her hand. A'lya had stowed their weapons in a
locker in Chiana's quarters, believing that the Nebari would be
less likely than Aeryn Sun to disarm the girls.
to be very little from where A'lya stood but there was something
about her sister's serious expression that made her look grown up.
said from the doorway.
up, blinked and smiled slightly. "Hey yourself, A'lya." She put
the pulse pistol aside.
looking for you. What are you doing here?"
a half shrug and looked down. "Chiana told me I could come back
here whenever I want to. I thought Daddy wanted to be alone so I
didn't go back to Aeryn's quarters." She reached for the pulse pistol
and held it in her hand again. "I don't think anyone even noticed
that I still have this." She raised the pistol, looked down its
barrel like she was taking aim, then lowered it.
she heard a slight emphasis on the word "Aeryn's." She approached
her sister and knelt down in front of her. "Melanie. You can talk
to me, you know?" She took the pulse pistol and set it back on the
chair. "I know you're scared."
mother, A'lya. Not mine." Melanie tugged at her lip. "What does
she really want with us? Was it just to get Daddy here to help her
comrades? He's almost died because of her." Melanie's lavender eyes
met hers, a frown creasing her forehead. "A'lya, if she was a Peacekeeper
why isn't she one any longer? All those things you knew about her,
all those things you said‹how do you even know all this? And why
haven't you told me?"
her own conflicted feelings towards Aeryn Sun not helping her get
a clearer perspective on the whole thing. What her father had said
to her was still sinking in‹that Officer Aeryn Sun had spoken out
on his behalf, had sacrificed her career and her way of life for
a being from another world. That being was their father and she
knew that John Crichton would have done the same thing himself.
said heavily. Jamoh. She felt a tug at her chest at the thought
of him but she let it go. Peacekeepers didn't form emotional attachments
or they ended up like Aeryn Sun. She understood the logic in it
but it was completely against anything that her father had shown
her. Without those emotions, she wouldn't have him or her sister.
does he have to do with anything?" Melanie said.
"He found a
chip. I wanted information on my mother. I didn't think we'd find
anything other than a service and death record. I imaginedŠI assumed
that she had died in battle. I wanted to know her name." She paused.
"Instead I found out all that other dren."
"Do you believe
it? What you saw on the chip?" Melanie stared at her, frowning.
true. How can it be otherwise? Dad admitted to it." She paused.
"She's irreversibly contaminated because she was with him."
deepened. "Because of you."
shook her head slowly. "It was before me. It was right after Dad
got here fromŠ" she faltered. There was so much they hadn't told
her, so much she had a right to know if she was ever going to explain
it to her sister‹or to herself.
isn't going to let us go," Melanie said softly. "You know that,
A'lya. I know she called us half-breeds. I know she hates him now.
But she hates Aeryn Sun even more for doing this to her." Melanie
looked at her, eyes narrowed. She had observed what the rest of
them had failed to acknowledge so far, that Councilor Grayza would
not suffer the humiliation that Aeryn and the Nebari had brought
to bear on her. Not without a fight.
A'lya said. "And I think he knows it too." She took the pulse pistol
from her sister's hand and held it in her own. "I trust our father,
Melanie. But I don't think we can depend on anyone else."
contact the Councilor," Melanie began.
"No, he says
we shouldn't. He doesn't trust her. And I don't either. I think
that we're going to have to find our own way out of here, without
the Nebari or Aeryn Sun. Some way to get Dad off this ship without
any of them."
ships in the landing bay? I looked at them again while I was wandering
*Chiadda*‹no one noticed me. Even though the readouts are in Nebari,
they look a lot like Prowlers soŠ" She looked at A'lya, bravado
masking her uncertainty. "We could take one and go. There are small
planets all over this sector. The charts have them all laid out."
shook her head in wonder. "Melanie, what have you been doing?"
would have expected me to do‹learn something, study it, understand
it. A'lya, you can fly one of their ships, we can plot a course
to one of those planets, at least for awhile, enough so that maybe
the Command Carrier will follow *Chiadda* without knowing that we're
no longer aboard."
do anything, Melanie, we need to be sure or we could be jeopardizing
him further," A'lya said. "He's still not completely well." She
could feel her own fear growing in the pit of her stomach. The easy
way was to wait it out, to look to her father for a decision, for
guidance. She loved him, she trusted him but she also wondered whether
he was capable right now of making a decision with his head and
not his heart or whether he should even be called upon to do that.
"But we should be ready. Just in case."
said. "Just in case."
Days of Furture
Past continues with parts III
& IV >>
Return to the fiction page