Chapter Seven: Deliverance
John pulled his weapon from its holster. He signaled to Aeryn who did the same. They entered the garrison swiftly and silently. Moving rapidly through the corridors, they made their way to the containment area. The guard at the entrance stopped them. "What is your business here?"
"Our prisoner. We are here to claim her and be on our way." John replied, training his weapon on him.
"She is not here." He replied nervously. "Lt. Gavyk took her."
Aeryn stepped up behind the guard and placed her weapon at his neck, "Where? Where did he take her?"
"His interrogation chamber." He answered, wondering if he had just signed his own death warrant. But he also knew that what Gavyk was doing was wrong and he didn't want to be a party to it. Aeryn could read the uncertainty in the young officer's eyes. How well she understood the questions racing through his mind right now. But she didn't have time for sympathy. She swiftly and efficiently brought the butt of her weapon down across the back of his neck and he dropped to the ground.
"Okay, so you were right." She said, looking at John. "Now where?"
"You're the ex-Peacekeeper. Where do you think Gavyk's interrogation chamber would be?"
"Somewhere near his office."
"Okay then. Let's go find her."
"What about Zhaan? Her friend?"
"Aeryn, I think Chiana needs our help a lot more. Now let's go." He turned and headed back up the corridor without waiting to see if she followed. Microts later, he stood outside of the office where they had met with Gavyk the previous day. Aeryn came up behind him and laid her hand on his shoulder to get his attention. "You check the rooms on that end and I'll check this end." She whispered. He nodded his agreement and headed off.
He hadn't gone very far when he heard the sound of scuffling in one of the rooms. He stopped briefly, listening for more noise, but heard nothing. He closed his eyes and concentrated, then he heard it again. This is the place. Chiana, we're coming. He whistled softly to get Aeryn's attention, then jerked his head toward the door. She ran up the hall to join him as he palmed the door's access panel. He was surprised, but pleased that it wasn't locked, but his pleasure turned to anger and revulsion as he took in the sight before him.
"Get off her now Gavyk!" He commanded, aiming his pistol at the Peacekeeper's head. Gavyk's head snapped around, but he didn't move from his position atop Chiana. There was something in his eyes that frightened John. It was like looking into the eyes of an animal in the throes of blood lust. John advanced quickly as Aeryn entered the room behind him, her pulse rifle drawn and aimed at Gavyk as well.
Rage welled up in John as he looked at Chiana. There were large black bruises on her face where Gavyk had beaten her and tears streaked her cheeks. He slapped his weapon back into its holster and grabbed Gavyk with both hands, dragging him off of Chiana. Everything he had learned from Aeryn about hand to hand combat came flooding back at that moment and he began pummeling Gavyk. His attack was ferocious, punches to the face, kicks to the stomach until finally he sagged to the ground, bloody and beaten. John pulled him back to his feet and continued to lash out at him.
"John!" Aeryn shouted, "Stop! You've beaten him." She grabbed his arm as he pulled it back to strike yet again. He spun around to face her and she stepped back involuntarily, shocked at the look of pure rage in his eyes. "John! Please stop. We need to get Chiana out of here. We need to get out of here."
John's breathing came in labored gasps, both from exertion and from the anger that raged in him. When the look of concern in Aeryn's eyes finally registered, he froze. He looked back at the beaten Peacekeeper and released his grip on the man's throat. As Gavyk fell to the floor again, he stared at what he had done, then looked up at Aeryn.
"We don't have time for this Crichton!" she said forcefully, hoping it would shake him out of his daze. It worked. He turned back to Chiana who still lay on the floor. She had rolled to her side and curled into a ball beneath the coat Aeryn had laid over her. She looked like a broken doll and John's heart broke as he realized the danger they had put her in. He looked at Aeryn who jerked her head toward the containment cells. He understood. She wanted him to get Zhaan and Ta'al while she took care of Chiana. Normally, he would have insisted on staying, but under the circumstances, he felt she was right and he hurried from the room.
Zhaan's eyes snapped open and she stopped chanting. Something had happened. She sensed that Chiana was no longer in danger. Try as they might, Ta'al and Zhaan had been unable to sway Gavyk from his planned actions. Several times they had felt their thoughts start to pull him back, but he had plunged forward again and again. There is an evil in that one that is strong. Too strong.
The containment door swished open. Zhaan rose from her place of meditation and moved quickly to stand at the door to her cell. She was surprised and very pleased to see John Crichton dragging a limp Peacekeeper into the containment area.
"Is alive. Aeryn's with her." He dragged the unconscious Peacekeeper to the gen-scanner beside her cell door. He reached down and pulled the man's ident chip from around his neck and inserted it into the machine, then placed his hand on the scanner. The machine recognized the valid access and waited for the keycode to be input. John tapped his comms, "Aeryn, does Chiana have the access code?"
He listened as Aeryn relayed the code from Chiana, inputting it as she spoke. When he hit the last symbol, the door to Zhaan's cell slid open. She slipped out rapidly, moving to stand in front of Ta'al's cell almost as a challenge to John. He grinned at her, "We wouldn't leave without him Zhaan, you should know that. I am, after all, the poster boy for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
He moved across the corridor to stand beside her. She inserted the ident chip while John placed the Peacekeeper's palm on the scanner. He played a hunch and keyed in the same code as had been used to open Zhaan's cell. Gavyk is such a fool. The door slid open and Ta'al joined them in the corridor. John then threw the unconscious Peacekeeper into the cell and closed and locked it behind them.
When they reached the main level of the building, John handed Zhaan one of his pistols, "Take him to the transport Zhaan. I'll go get Aeryn and Chiana. We won't be far behind you."
She took the weapon and nodded, then moved toward the door. Ta'al looked at her, surprised that she had taken the weapon, but followed closely. A few microts later they were in the street, moving from shadow to shadow toward the spaceport. As Ta'al watched her he realized she was very comfortable in this role, which surprised him. As a tenth level Pa'u he had expected she would have become a pacifist, taking a stand against the use of violence. It was obvious to him that she had been forced to make some hard decisions and compromises to survive as a fugitive from the Peacekeepers.
Zhaan led him swiftly through the darkened city, taking care to remain as hidden as possible. When they reached the main market square, however, they were forced into the open. As they entered the square, a lone Peacekeeper stepped out of the shadows across from the Sebacean Hostel. "Halt!" he commanded.
They froze. He walked up to them, his eyes narrowed and his hand resting on his holstered weapon. As he drew near enough to see their faces clearly, he drew his rifle and trained it on them. "You're the Delvian prisoners! Hands on your heads. You're going back to the garrison."
"I don't think so Peacekeeper!" A deep voice said from behind him. "Drop your weapon!"
Officer Om turned toward the voice. He was surprised to see a Luxan standing, Qualta Blade at the ready. "I said, drop your weapon Peacekeeper." He growled menacingly. Om moved as if he would comply, then suddenly swung his pulse rifle up spun toward Zhaan and Ta'al and fired. D'Argo dove and rolled, firing his weapon. He was satisfied to see the Peacekeeper go down. He regained his feet and ran to the soldier's side. His aim had been true. He was dead.
Zhaan screamed, "Ta'al! No!" She dropped to her knees beside him. Her eyes were wide with shock and disbelief. The Peacekeeper's aim had been true as well. Ta'al lay dying, a gaping wound in his side. She dropped her weapon and pulled his head into her lap. "Oh Ta'al what have I brought to you?" she cried.
He smiled up at her weakly and lifted one hand to hers where it lay on his face. "Don't blame yourself my love." He whispered weakly. Pain cut through him and he closed his eyes to hide it from her.
"D'Argo, help me move him to the transport." Zhaan pleaded desperately, "If we can get him to Moya, I may be able to help him."
"No. Zhaan. It's too late for me. I will not make it to your ship." He shook his head in response to the pleading in her eyes. "Let me go. Please." He closed his eyes again as the pain tore through him. As the pain passed, he struggled to open his eyes. So weak. I must find the strength to ... "Zhaan, I need your help." He gasped, "I need you to help me cross over."
Tears flowed freely down Zhaan's face as she nodded. I don't want to let you go. I want to go with you. As if he read her thoughts, he whispered, "It's not your time Zhaan. Live. Grow stronger."
She placed her hands, one on each side of Ta'al's head. She closed her eyes and began to pray, "Kahalen, Kahalen. Pudaque S'ahelio Sinconum. In the eyes of the Goddess, all are worthy, all are equal. Take the soul of this beloved one, Pa'u Tyran Ta'al. Honor him with your joy." She continued to chant slowly, softly as she felt Ta'al's soul leave his body and join with hers momentarily, then fade away completely. Still Zhaan held Ta'al's head in her hands and tears continued to flow. Ta'al my love. It was hard enough losing you once. Now you have left me again. Will I ever know a love like yours again?
"Zhaan," D'Argo said softly, taking her by the shoulders, "We must go. The weapons fire will bring Peacekeepers. Zhaan!"
She inhaled, deeply, shakily and looked up into his gentle eyes. Not the eyes of a warrior. She lifted Ta'al's head from her lap and laid it gently on the cobblestones.
John stayed with Chiana while Aeryn secured Gavyk. He was still unconscious from the beating that John had given him, but she knew he wouldn't stay that way long. When she was finished John lifted Chiana easily and they headed out, Aeryn in the lead with a pulse rifle in one hand and pistol in the other. They moved quickly and silently through the corridors, avoiding all Peacekeeper personnel.
They hurried through the streets, coming into the market square just as Ta'al and Officer Om fell. They slowly walked forward to join D'Argo, Zhaan and Ta'al. John was surprised, but relieved to see D'Argo hadn't listened to his request that he remain aboard Moya. "We must go. Now." D'Argo said softly but firmly, taking Zhaan by the arm. She stood, her eyes still locked on Ta'al's body. D'Argo released his hold on Zhaan and lifted the lifeless body of her friend. I will not leave him here for the Peacekeepers to dishonor. He led the way to the transport, followed closely by the others.