Two Suns

 

So, what is this writing relay, you may ask? Karl, Amy and Toadie (<G> dangerous combination) pooled their writing efforts to bring you the following story. The sections are indicated as to who is responsible for what, so you know where to send the love and/or hate mail...<G> Enjoy!

~~Karl~~

John was slammed into the wall of the tier as he struggled to get to command.

"Pilot! Aeryn!" He yelled into his com. "Nothing… Shit!"

The floor shifted back in the other direction causing him to fall, then slide, to the far wall of the tier.

"Damn! That's gonna leave a mark," he muttered. For the moment, he stayed stationary on the floor, allowing his stomach to catch up to him. "Come on, guys, someone answer me!"

He started scrambling on all fours, then stopped, as Moya began to sway again.

He heard the sounds of Pilot and Aeryn arguing ahead of him. As he finally reached the command tier, he found Aeryn fighting Moya on manual control.

"I should have known… Aeryn Sun is flying. No wonder."

"John, if you are going to make stupid comments, go back to your quarters."

He detected a rare desperation in her voice. It alarmed him. "What’s going on?"

"We are being chased, Commander Crichton, by that." Pilot adjusted the image so the dark gray ship came into focus. The strange shaped vessel matched every maneuver that Moya executed. Its black and red hull was the giveaway that it was Peacekeeper.

"What is it?" he asked.

Aeryn banked sharply, causing John to fall to the floor once again.

"Maybe I should just stay here."

Aeryn struggled with the controls. "It’s a Peacekeeper breaching pod. It’s designed for boarding enemy vessels."

"It looks like a cross between a power drill and a sunflower seed, if you ask me…" He smiled back to Aeryn, but his joke did nothing to relieve her tension.

He turned back to Pilot. Fairly certain that their present circumstances already answered his next question, but it would not be a normal day on Moya if he did ask it. "Don't tell me… Pilot, we can't StarBurst. Right?"

Pilot looked up at John. "Not for another quarter arn."

"Great! Just great! For once, just once, I'd like us to simply smoke ’em! But no… Once again, we can't frelling StarBurst!"

Aeryn smiled at him. "Are you done? Because if you are, I could use a little help."

Her face shifted into an angrily angry glare. "But if you’re not done with your frelling complaining, get out of command! Right now! I am a little too busy to play ten frelling questions with the stupid human!" She banked hard again as if taking her frustrations out on Moya.

John was shocked by Aeryn’s explosion. "OK! Sorry!"

He stepped back to the Overseer's console. "How many on this pod?"

Aeryn banked Moya Kemper-side, back toward the system they had just passed. As if knowing her move, the breaching pod matched her course and it began closing in on the Leviathan.

Through a clench clenched jaw she answered. "Usually fifteen to twenty-five"

Aeryn tried a different maneuver. She pulled hard on the yoke as Moya pulled sharply upward. Her bag of tricks was running empty and Moya was no prowler.

"Great... just great! Pilot, so how many guests should we expect for dinner?"

It took pilot a few microts for the navigator to understand the strange request. "Scanning."

Pilot seemed to question his own readings, "I am reading only one life sign on board."

"You're running from one Peacekeeper?" John shot up one finger on his hand and moved it close to his face. He said in a slightly mocking tone. "Only one? That’s not like you, Aeryn."

Her flash of embarrassment quickly gave way to anger. "I didn't have the time to scan the ship! I was too busy trying to evade it!"

"Oh!" John smiled sheepishly at her. "Well…"

"What the hezmana is going on? D'Argo’s voice echoed through the command tier from his com.

"Hang on, D'Argo!" John held onto the console as Aeryn tried an accelerated turn. The gravimetic emulators could not keep up with the fast reactions of the Peacekeeper at Moya’s controls. There were strange sounds of protest from the ship herself.

The proximity alarms sounded as the breaching pod caught up with Moya.

Pilot reacted as if he was were the one being punctured. "Whouuach!"

The pods smooth conical end had punctured the outer hull and began its slow burrowing through Moya’s outer hull. "Inner hull breach in twenty microts.

"Where?" John and Aeryn asked simultaneously.

Pilot looked up, his worried expression gave him the appearance of a child. "Hammond side. Tiers seven near support rib sixty."

"You hear that, big guy? We’re being boarded. Hammond side. Tier seven near support rib sixty."

"I’m on my way."

D'Argo was on tier five. He would reach the breach location well before the others. He passed Zhaan in the tier. "We are being boarded. Get a weapon. Meet me. Tier seven, support rib sixty Hammond side. Hurry!"

D’Argo stood near the intersection of the two tiers where the breaching pod had penetrated.

The large plates of the cone that protruded into the tier started to part like the petals of a flower.

D'Argo checked his Qualta blade one last time. Chiana moved up silently behind him. Her touch nearly sent him into the ceiling of the tier. "Chiana, I swear, I'll shoot you myself if you ever do that again."

She ignored his threat. Her head jerked in the direction of the pod. "What is that thing?"

"It’s a Peacekeeper breaching pod." As he was about to explain to her what it was, the silhouette of a man appeared at the opening of the pod.

D'Argo pulled Chiana down next to him. "Get down, you foolish trelk."

The tall man slowly walked out from the mouth of the breaching pod. He had a large pulse gun slung over his shoulder. His hands were slightly raised.

D'Argo barked to the stranger. "That’s far enough! Stop right there, Peacekeeper."

The man complied effortlessly.

"Who are you and what the Hezmana do you want here?" D'Argo stood slowly from his position.

The Peacekeeper faced the Luxan. He was an older man who wore the command tunic of a captain. He sized up the Luxan and spoke in an almost dismissive tone. "I am Captain Talyn Sun, Special Ops, Ravstar Regiment. Here to retrieve my daughter…."

~~Amy J.~~

Aeryn ducked behind the spine and spared a quick glance down the corridor. From her vantage point she could see D’Argo, blade drawn, poised before the entrance to the breaching pod. Zhaan and Chiana hovered nearby, tensely regarding the intruder. But she could not see inside the vessel or its occupant.

Crichton fell in behind her, pulse gun in hand.

"Ok. Here’s the plan," he whispered. "On on my count—"

She rolled her eyes. Before he could finish his babbling, she stepped into the corridor and started toward the breach, pulse rife lowered.

"Hey! Damnit, Aeryn!" Crichton called after her in hushed protest.

Aeryn ignored him and slipped against the wall opposite to the pod’s opening. A few more steps and she had a full view of the intruder. He appeared older than most captains she had seen, but this first impression was misleading. There was an air of vigor to him that defied age. The man’s deep blue eyes, alive with an angry defiance, were leveled on D’Argo at the moment.

"Identify yourself," she challenged.

"Aeryn…" D’Argo began, his voice a low warning.

The Peacekeeper’s attention was suddenly severed from the Luxan. His eyes narrowed on Aeryn. For a moment his face seemed to falter slightly, as though he had forgotten his surroundings. Wordlessly, the officer stepped toward her, his eyes never leaving her face.

"That’s close enough! Identify yourself."

He stopped, his focus sharpened like he had snapped out of a trance. "As I told your astute friend here, I am Captain Talyn Sun. I am here for you… my daughter."

But his mouth twisted into a disapproving line at the term of endearment.

"Daughter?" Crichton interjected, pulse gun lowering. His gaze bounced between Aeryn and the intruder. "What the hell’s going on?"

"Who are you?" Countered Sun, turning on the human. "There’s no record of any other—"

There was a blur of movement from D’Argo’s direction and the older man suddenly crumpled to the floor.

Cautiously, Aeryn approached the crumpled body. Prodding the stranger with the pulse rifle’s muzzle, she rolled him onto his back. The others moved in around her, peering over her shoulder.

"You know this guy?" Crichton asked. "This really your Pop?"

"I’ve never seen this man before in my life," Aeryn replied, her face stoic.

*****

Zhaan turned away from the workbench and nearly collided with John.

"John," she said, startled. "I didn’t hear you enter."

He jerked his chin at the unconscious Peacekeeper on the medical cot. "He gonna be ok?"

The Delvian regarded her patient. "He will be fine."

"Good. That’s good." John replied his face thoughtful. He traced a finger along the edge of the bench.

"John?"

"Hmmm…" He turned to Zhaan.

"Where is Aeryn?"

He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "In that breaching pod. Trying to figure out how to get it out of Moya."

But he knew what Zhaan really meant. Why wasn’t Aeryn here?

"She refused to come here, Zhaan," he said, quietly. "I’d give anything to see my dad again. But, I guess, for her… it’s different."

She nodded slightly. "I can understand why this would be difficult for her. Peacekeepers seldom foster family ties."

"Difficult would be the understatement of the cycle, Zhanny." John smiled thinly.

A low groan sounded as their guest stirred.

"Well. Look who’s up," he muttered, falling in beside Zhaan at the Peackeeper’s bedside.

*****

"Frell it!" Aeryn dropped the makeshift pry bar and regarded her injured fingers. She glared at the jammed cover to the breaching pod’s command console. But it remained in place, unmoved by her tirade.

"What are trying to do… remove it from Moya piece by piece?" Chiana smirked.

"Shouldn’t you be somewhere else? Like an airlock?" Aeryn returned sharply. She rose from the floor of the pod and tried the controls once more.

Access Denied

"Damn!"

"You’re a tad on edge, I’d say." Chiana followed her to the auxiliary command console.

Aeryn blew arrant tendrils of hair from her face and whirled on the Nebari. "I am not on edge. I am trying to concentrate. I am trying to access this pod’s controls, which is more than you’re doing at the moment."

"Why are you even here?" Aeryn continued, turning back to the instrument panel.

"I’m… curious."

"No. You’re looking for something to steal," Aeryn sneered. "There’s nothing in here worth the effort."

Chiana had the decency to know when she had been exposed. She smirked. "I know. I’ve already looked."

"You think that Peacekeeper’s really who he says he is?" Chiana prodded. She casually leaned against the bulkhead to observe Aeryn’s frustrated efforts.

"Zhaan compared his genetic material against mine." Her voice was rigid. "She’s reasonably certain that he is my father."

"Don’t you at least want to see him? Know why he’s – –""

"What Why could that possibly matter?" Aeryn grunted, pulling the auxiliary console’s cover away from its coupling.

"But aren’t you—"

"No."

The rerouted circuits to the console issued a tiny shower of sparks. Aeryn stepped away, a smug smile spreading over her mouth. For a teasing moment, the main controls fluttered on. Then snapped off with sullen finality.

"Dren." Aeryn frowned. "This pod isn’t going anywhere without the command codes."

"Looks like you’re gonna have to ask your daddy for help." Chiana quipped, slipping out into the corridor.

~~Karl~~

John sat on the corner of one of Zhaan's medical tables. It occurred to him that the last time he sat here was during an all night vigil for another Sun… Aeryn.

John watched the sleeping man. There was a definite similarity in their features, though this old man almost seemed to have warmth to his expression. He thought back to his own grandfather who had died while John was in high school.

Talyn sat up quickly from the cot as if shot into consciousness. He surveyed his surroundings.

"Hey…Hey…Relax, Captain, no one is going to harm you… relax."

Talyn's eyes narrowed as he looked at John. "Who are you? There is no record of another renegade…"

John's hollow eyes stared back at the old man. He could tell, even as he stood there, that Talyn that was plotting something. It was time for John to play Talyn's game.

"Captain, I am sure you can understand that I have my own orders." John smiled slightly. He was getting better at his Sebacean dialect. Granted, it was still through the translator microbes, but Talyn seemed to lower his defenses slightly.

"That would explain the lack of information." Talyn surveyed the young man. "Tell me your duty assignment."

John smiled. He let out an overblown sarcastic laugh. Come on John this is not some high school play, tone it down… "I am sure, Captain Talyn Sun, that if you had the clearance from High Command, you would know who I am and what I am doing with these fahrbot creatures."

Talyn was taken by surprise. He had received special discommendation to retrieve his daughter. Why would they not tell me of this covert operation? "Tell me who your contacts are at High Command."

John thought back to Larraq. "That's need to know information." His smile widened. "All you need to know is that your being here is frelling up everything…"

Talyn moved closer to John. He pointed to the command bars of his patch. "See these, boy? These give me clearance to know your operation." He chuckled sarcastically at John.

Talyn stared John down. Boy, Aeryn really does take after you… Shoot now. Ask questions later. You could really use some anger management sessions…

"Picard!" John spat as his mind froze. What a frelling stupid mistake! Like that even sounds Sebacean? John's hand slipped down on his pulse gun. He waited to see Talyn's reaction.

Talyn's eyes widened, and he broke into a boisterous laugh. He stepped closer to John, who moved back from where he had been sitting. Making room to move…just in case.

"Frelling Bartel Picard. That old fool! I should have known…" Talyn's face was red from laughing. It only made John more nervous. "You know, he and I were in commando training together."

John straightened slightly. "Regardless, Captain, I can't tell you any more."

Talyn's laughter faded, but the smile remained. "I like you, boy… I don't know what you are doing and, frankly, I don't care…" He looked around the room again. "I won't bother your mission, but know this..." Talyn's exterior was like that of a chameleon. His expression went from warm and happy to ice cold. "I am here to retrieve my daughter and that is what I am going to do…"
"Now you have anything to drink on this barge? I am mighty thirsty."

"Yes. There is a water dispenser over there." John's strategy had not gone as he had planned, but at least they hadn't come crashing down around him. Yet.

"You're not getting me, boy. I mean drink. Real drink. Reslac? Dingar Juice? Fellip nectar?"

"We might have a cylinder or two of Fellip nectar in the galley." At this point, John could use a few himself. But he knew better than to drink with Talyn.

John paused. The wheels started to spin in his head. Getting Talyn drunk might work to their advantage…

Ya, this plan's gotta work.

He smiled at Talyn. "Come this way, Captain Sun."

~~Amy J.~~

"Oh. Shit." John doubled over with laughter, hands resting on his knees. Eyes watering, he looked up at Talyn Sun. "You’re kidding me!"

The officer grinned mischievously. "That’s not what her mother said."

At this, he erupted into a fresh wave of laughter. It mixed with the reserved chuckle of the older man.

"John? What the frell is going on?"

John turned to see Aeryn standing in the center chamber’s entrance. He straightened, an amused smirk on his mouth. "Hey, Aeryn."

"What is this?" Her face was filled with incredulity. "Zhaan said you were in the medical bay, but I find you here."

Aeryn's eyes focused on the metal canister on the table between them. "Is that Fellip nectar?"

Sun rose from his seat and pulled himself into a dignified line. All suggestion of mirth disappeared from his face. He stepped forward, hands folded behind his back.

"Here, child." He said, dryly. "Let me look at you."

Aeryn hovered in the doorway for a moment. Hesitantly, she stepped into the room, silently daring John to make a remark. There was no doubt that Crichton was enjoying this moment.

Tensely she stood in place, feeling like a novice cadet as the officer completed a slow circle around her. He stopped in front of her.

"Amazing." Sun regarded her almost clinically. "You look just like your mother."

Sun arched an eyebrow at John. "Yes. Her flat ass, too. What a shame."

John’s carefully maintained grin crumpled into another bout of hilarity.

"That’s it!" Aeryn spouted, turning with angry strides to the corridor.

~~Toadie~~

"Aeryn, wait up!" John shouted as he raced down the corridor after her. "He was only trying to break the ice, you know!"

At this, Aeryn turned on him so quickly he had no time to react. She grabbed him and pushed him against the wall.

"Well he not only broke it, he's now drowning under it," she growled at him.

"Look, Aeryn, he's a nice guy. Just give him a chance," he said warily, regarding her stern glare.

"You like him so much, you frelling KEEP him," she shouted into his ear before turning and storming off down the corridor.

"Yes. Just like her mother," came a voice behind him.

"Jeez, give a guy a heart attack why don't you? You catch any of that?"

"Yes, I could not help but hear. In fact, who on this ship couldn't. Yes, very much like her mother." A proud smile settled over his face as he was saying this.

"Ahh never mind, John. Like her mother, she should calm down in, oh, a monen or so. Till then, how about we finish off the Fellip nectar." He put his arm around John's shoulders and steered him back toward the central chamber and the waiting, chilled Fellip nectar.

******


"And then D'Argo comes in! I so wanted to kill him at that moment," John chuckled as he recited the story. "I'm still not sure if I've forgiven him for it."

Talyn laughed along with him as he considered the situation. "Just be glad he arrived when he did, if he had been a few microts later….." He trailed off as he watched John's face contort as he considered what THAT would have resulted in.

"Yeah, maybe you're right about that."

"Damn, we've finished the nectar, and I was just getting a thirst too." John considered the line of empty containers on the table.

"Hey, you hung around here for a while before we showed right?" he questioned with a drunken attempt to appear cunning, "don't suppose there are any good taverns on this commerce planet we're heading toward, are there?"

"As a matter of fact, there is, one of the best bars I've been in for a long while." A grin appeared over his face as he caught on to John's idea.

"Pilot," John said carefully to disguise the slight slur in his voice. He turned to the clam shell. "How long it gonna take us to get to this commerce planet?"

"At our current speed… four arns, Commander."

"Too damn long," he paused, frowning in concentration. "Pilot, how long would it take to reach the planet in the prowler?"

"At its top speed, just under one arn," replied Pilot, confused as to this line of questioning.

"Perfect. Pilot, prepare the prowler, and if anybody asks, tell them we went ahead to, err, rec… er.. reconni…check out the planet." With a grin plastered over his face he grabbed Talyn and headed for Aeryn's prowler.

*****

"Damn! She is really gonna kill me now!" He shook his head as he thought of the condition in which he had left the prowler.

"It wasn't your fault John. Who would have guessed they would put a fountain in a landing bay," Talyn assured him with a pat on the shoulder.

"Actually, I think that was a market square or something. They certainly seemed pissed when we landed in it." John started to laugh as he thought of the locals' reactions when they found the prowler in the fountain.

"Well, it's their own fault, then, for making it look so much like a landing bay," commented Talyn with the assurance only a drunk could have.

"Yeah! So it's actually THEIR fault, the damage to the prowler, right?" deciding he liked this reasoning, John started to formulate excuses for Aeryn, ranging from the sublime to the simply ridiculous.

"I'd say so. Yes." With a confident nod, Talyn agreed.

"Good, ok. Hey… where's this bar of yours? I feel like we've been walking for arns." He paused and looked back, clearly seeing the crowd around the fountain and the prowler. "Oh, I guess I might be just a little drunker that I thought."

"This is it," Talyn paused outside a nondescript building. Its windows were sealed. A number of tough looking Sebaceans leaned against the tavern's dingy walls. "Come on. Let's go in."

*****

"Pilot, I'm looking for John. Where is he? Still with him?" Aeryn said, her tone dripping vitriol.

"The Commander and Captain Sun left in the prowler to reconnoiter the commerce planet over two arns ago. I have heard nothing from them since."

"He's done WHAT!" Disbelief and anger warred for dominance on her face.

*****

John sat sipping his highly alcoholic drink, watching the scantily clad female on the stage gyrate. He leaned over to Talyn and shouted, "I can't believe they have strip clubs in the Uncharted Territories, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to find out." He shook his head but his eyes never left the woman on the stage.

"I told you that you would like this place, best damn reslac I've ever had. What do think of your Mivonk's Buster?" he shouted back over the music at John.

John glanced over at him for a moment before swallowing the remainder of his drink and signaling the waitress over for another. He then shouted back at Talyn, "Kind of reminds me of Aeryn, actually."

He started to laugh at Talyn, who choked on his drink at this comment, his face going red as he struggled to breathe, laugh and rid himself of a mouthful of alcohol all at the same time.

The next thing John knew he was thrown to the floor. He found himself on his back, staring up at Aeryn, who was glaring down at him like an avenging angel. She glanced around at her surroundings, then speared John again with her gaze.

"Aeryn," John squeaked in fear, "I can explain."

~~Amy J.~~

"I am not interested in explanations. My prowler is in a fountain… a fountain, Crichton!" She bellowed in competition to the off-key cater-wail of the music. But the patronage, no doubt, used to such dramas, turned deaf and drunken ears to the scene.

"There is no reason to blame Crichton for--" Talyn began, standing on his second attempt at escaping his chair.

"And you!" She whirled, leveling a finger at Peacekeeper's chest. "You need not involve yourself with this."

John crawled to his feet, leaning heavily on the rickety table for support. His head swam in protest to his attempts at standing upright, so he settled for a wearisome slouch. It took him a moment to register the pair of dark figures that moved in behind the angry blur that was Aeryn.

"Aeryn…" he said, alarm slowly making its way to him through the hazy mists of his brain.

"Crichton! Not now!" Aeryn hissed, still intent on Talyn. Her tirade was far from over.

"Aeryn," he slurred again, taking a shambling step forward. The floor shifted deceptively beneath his feet. With sluggish fingers, he found the catch on his pulse gun holster, but he realized thickly that they had made them surrender their side arms at the door.

"Well, if it isn't Aeryn Sun," the shadowy figure at Aeryn's back announced.

She pivoted, venom ready for the interloper. The speaker looked on her with plain hatred. Dressed in the mottled remains of a commando's uniform, he stepped closer, looking her up and down. "I never thought I'd see the day. But here you are. Isn't this our lucky day, Tristis?"

"Yes," his companion returned, staring down Talyn and John in turn. "How very fortunate for us."

Aeryn's mouth pulled into an ugly sneer as she regarded the two men. "Tristis… D'Larn. You're alive. How…. unexpected."

"Save it, Sun! Because of you, our entire squadron was disbanded," Tristis countered.

"And… your apparent desertion… that would be my fault as well?" she challenged.

John wove to Aeryn's side. It was a major effort to form his words. "All right, guys! Just back off. We don't want any trouble."

"Crichton," Aeryn barked, "I don't need your help."

D'Larn stepped in closer. They were effectively cut off from the only means of escape from the establishment. A good number of the clientele had begun to take an avid interest in this new development. In addition, several of the closer tables cleared the area in a nearly soundless scurry.

"I don't know what you're planning on doing, but I'm thinking the locals won't take too nicely to it," John muttered near her ear.
She shot him a scathing glance before turning back to her two former comrades. The air around them was suddenly thick with danger. A challenging smirk hooked the corner of her mouth, barbed response at the ready.

But it was Talyn who spoke next, barging into the middle of the terse little group. "Son, you haven't got the mivonks to try anything."

His control broken, Tristis lunged at the older officer. Aeryn dodged out of the way, only to have D'Larn catch her in a tackle. They went sprawling into a table occupied by a rather imposing looking Onari and his companion.

John started in toward the ball of flailing limbs that was the fight between Aeryn and D'Larn, only to feel a firm hand crunch down onto his shoulder. "Hold it, Peacekeeper!"

He said, turning. "Oh… wrong guy. I'm not a--" A fist painfully collided with his jaw with impossible force. The world went gray for a moment. Holding his injured face, he looked up at the disgruntled Onari.

"Oh. That's it… No more Mr. Nice Astronaut," he bellowed, lunging at the alien.

****

"I hope that you are most pleased with yourselves." Zhaan reprimanded, as she paced before the cell door.

Crichton held up a surrendering hand. He squinted up at her. When did the room get so damn bright? He then lowered his head against the pounding pain that wove from his jaw and into his skull. "Shhhh. Blue, come on. Keep it down, huh? My brain feels like Cream of Wheat here."

"Serves you right! You're the imbecile who drank so much," Aeryn hissed from the corner behind him. Experimentally, she wriggled the fingers of her injured fist. A prominent bruise hugged the knuckles there. "No one made you come here… with him."

"For what it's worth, I had a plan," John countered, cradling his face in upturned palms. "It seemed like a great idea at the time."

"That's enough! Both of you!" Zhaan leaned into the bars. She spared a quick glance over her shoulder at the doorway. "You should thank the goddess that there was not a Peacekeeper constabulary on this world."

John looked up. "Speaking of which… where is Talyn?"

The Delvian straightened, folding her hands before her. "He is in another room, being attended by a physician."

"Who cares where he is?" Aeryn spat. She rose and grasped the bars. "Zhaan, when are they releasing us?"

"Rygel is negotiating the terms of payment for your release."

"Bail?" John chuckled derisively. "You're letting Buckwheat post our bail? That's just fab."

~~Toadie~~

"If I didn't feel so frelling awful right now, I would be laughing myself sick, literally I think." With a groan he leaned his back against the wall and slowly sank to the floor, cradling his head in his arms as he went. "We'll be lucky if he doesn't sell us in exchange for a snack." His muffled complaint reached Aeryn clearly.

"When I'm finished with you, you'll wish he HAD sold you. I mean to make you pay for this, John!" She spat the words in his direction, grasping hard onto the bars as if to restrain herself from violence.

"This is very entertaining, children," said Zhaan, carefully suppressing her amusement at their current situation. "I think it will be best for us if you just remain here quietly until Rygel has finalized your bail and we can all leave this planet. Including Talyn," she finished, forestalling the comment that Aeryn was so obviously about to make.

Aeryn heard a chuckle come from John and felt a sudden flash of anger. She grabbed the object closest to hand, which in this case was a metal cup containing water, and threw it skillfully. With a clang that echoed in the confined space, the cup ricocheted off the wall where John's head had been moment before.

"Aeryn, for God's sake! Are you trying to kill me?" he shuddered as he felt the throbbing in his head intensifying, due to the load noise and sudden movement. With a groan he pulled himself across the floor to the corner and rolled himself up in the blankets lying there. "If nobody minds, I'm just going to lie here and die quietly."

There was a bang as the door at the end of the short corridor opened and Rygel entered, closely followed by an enforcer. There was a muffled moan from the heap of blankets that was John. "It's a conspiracy, I know it is."

"I have good news and I have bad news," Rygel said, smugness dripping from every word.

"Why do I have this feeling I'm not going to like this?" John sat up slowly, taking care not to cause himself too much more pain.
Rygel bobbed in front of the cell door, rubbing his hands in delight as he looked at John and Aeryn.. "You are right about that human. I have convinced them to let you go without any further penalty."

"Hey, good work, Buckwheat." John got to his feet as the enforcer opened the cell. Aeryn entered the corridor and felt John enter and stand behind her as she faced Rygel.

"So if that's the good news, what's the bad news, Rygel?" she asked, caution lacing her tone.

"They have impounded the Prowler until the damage to a culturally important fountain is paid for."

Aeryn whirled around to face John. She grabbed the front of his T-shirt and thrust him against the open cell door. "This is your fault, John, so you had better fix it and fast, before I fix you. Permanently."

"Oh, it's not his fault, Aeryn, really it's not," came a voice from behind her.

Aeryn released John and whirled to vent her anger on a better target. She grabbed Talyn by the front of his uniform and banged him against the opposite cell.

"Well, if it's not his fault, then I guess it must be your fault since there were only the two of you involved!"

John took a cautious step forward and placed his hand on her shoulder, "Look, Aeryn, we frelled up, it happens and we're sorry. We'll sort it out. Trust me." He backed up quickly as Aeryn released Talyn and turned back to him. She walked slowly up to him in a swaying dangerous manner. She then leaned very close to him and whispered in his ear.

"You had better, or I will personally remove your mivonks with a rusty knife." With that, she turned and stormed out of the holding area, dragging Zhaan with her and leaving a shaken John and Talyn alone with Rygel.

"I can't believe I'm going to say this, but here goes," muttered John under his breath. "Rygel, I need your help."

*****

"What do you mean you sold my module?" John raged at Rygel, who was keeping well out of range of John's grasping arms.

"It's the only thing you had of sufficient value to cover the costs, Crichton. You surely didn't expect us to help you pay for something you did on your own, did you?" With a flourish, Rygel gestured at the module. "There will even be credits left over. Minus a small commission, of course."

"Damn it, Rygel, I need my module. It's the only craft that I know of that's capable of creating wormholes." John slumped against the wall of the hangar. "What the frell did they want it for anyway? It's so antiquated by your standards that it should be worthless."

"Well, there are a number of rare and unknown types of metals in the craft. They are where the credits were. The rest will be sold as scrap once the valuable metals are removed."

"I guess I have no choice, do I?"

"Not if you want to keep your mivonks, no!"

"Alright, lets go see the local friendly scrap merchant, then. You bring the pod." With a heavy sigh, John stood and walked towards the module.

*****

"What do you want, Crichton," Aeryn said irritably into her comm, "I'm busy."

"I just thought you would like to know that in the hangar we have a prowler that looks as good as new, but since you're busy, I won't bother ya."

"My prowler? How did you….?"

"Oh never mind, Aeryn, you just get back to what you were doing." Something in his voice alerted Aeryn that something wasn't right.

"Crichton? John? Pilot, where is Crichton?"

"The commander is on the terrace, Officer Sun," Pilot responded after doing a quick check

"Thank you, Pilot."

*****

Aeryn didn't see him when she first entered the terrace, he was sitting so far back in the shadows. When she did eventually spot him, she hesitated before walking over and sitting beside him.

"Thank you for getting my prowler back, John, but how did you manage it? I was expecting to have to leave it here," she said carefully, not looking at him as they both stared out into space. John failed to respond to her question so she simply sat beside him. Waiting.

"You know," John started suddenly, "It's amazing what some people will pay for what others think of as a piece of dren." She turned towards him, puzzled by his comment and was surprised to see him idly let the small valuable crystals used as currency on many worlds run through his fingers.

"Where did you get them, John?"

"Like I said it is amazing what thing's are considered valuable."

Aeryn thought for a moment, trying to list what John could possibly have sold to both get her prowler back and have so much currency left over. Then it hit her with a shock. His module. He must have sold his module.

"You sold your module, didn't you, John? Why?"

"Your prowler is much more to you than simply a ship, Aeryn, it's a piece of home for you. I was a fool to risk it when I know how much it means to you."

"But your module is all that to you as well, John, and more. It's your way home if you ever figure out how to create a wormhole." Shock still ran through her at her realization of John's sacrifice.

"The prowler is the more useful of the two ships, Aeryn. If we have to lose one, the module is the better one to lose. Besides, we both know that the chances of my ever finding my home are at best remote." With this he turned away from her, his back convulsing.
Aeryn was shocked when she realized he was crying and at first she was paralyzed with indecision. Then she moved up behind him and wrapped her arms about him, holding him as he cried. Eventually he stopped and she turned him around to face her and gently kissed him. One kiss turned into another and soon they were kissing passionately.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" A loud unwelcome voice interrupted them just as they were about to move on from the kissing stage. John groaned into Aeryn's mouth before drawing away from her and shooting Talyn a murderous glare.

~~Karl ("Yuck! Just in the nick of time… A Joke! Kidding!)~~

Talyn stood at the center of the access-way, his arms folded in front of him. His voice cut the air. "Get your stinking hands off her! You dam dirty Human!" he ordered. As he unfolded his arms, they saw he had pulse gun in each of them.

John almost fell down as he stumbled away from Aeryn. "What.." It took him a moment to recover. "What the frell are you talking about, Talyn?" He smiled sheepishly and shrugged slightly as he realized that the charade was over. John half-heartedly asked, "What's a Human?"

Talyn's steely stare confirmed there was no way out of this one. John's smile drained from his face as he stared back at Talyn. "How did you find out?"

"When I discovered that you sold that alien artifact to get back Aeryn's prowler, I knew that it had something to do with your mission. I wanted to know what was so important about that archaic machine. I acquired it from the scrap dealer. While I was examining the craft I found this." Talyn placed his pulse guns back in their holsters and raised the IASA Identification card with Astronaut John Crichton's picture on it. "I asked the Hynerian. He was more than willing to fill me in on who and what you really are."

"Why?" Aeryn stepped forward from the darkness. The coolness of her voice was felt by both men.

"What?" The old man turned. His steely glare softened at her question.

"Why did you go back for the module?" She squinted slightly as she asked the question as if she feared the answer.

"Oh that!" Talyn laughed deeply. "I thought it was important to John, here. But that was before I discovered he's a frelling alien." He shot John a dismissive glance then locked his eyes back on his daughter.

"I gave the dealer the choice of giving the craft to me or being responsible for an aerial bombardment of that pitiful city he inhabits. From the command carrier that should be arriving shortly." A thin smile came to Talyn's face. "The poor fool kept talking about magnetic mono something's that the craft was emitting. I don't know and frankly I don't care, that's all tech dren anyway…"

Aeryn tilted her head slightly. "A lie," she stated as more of an answer than a question. She looked at her father for the first time. His weathered features and his noble stance pained her. If things could have been different, what you might have taught me.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! What do you mean a command carrier?" John nervously moved closer to Aeryn.

Talyn's eyes did not break from his daughter's stare. "Relax, John. It was a lie." He finally broke his stare of his beautiful daughter. "We are all filled with lies, aren't we?" Talyn's mood softened. "So, you are a human from a the planet Yert?"

"He is a human from the planet Erp." Aeryn, for the first time, smiled slightly at her father.

"Earth! Earth, Aeryn. Jesus, is it that hard to say?" John nervously turned back to Talyn. "So you have my module?"

Talyn crossed his arms and looked at the two of them. "It's in Moya's docking bay."

"What's the catch?"

"Catch? I don't understand." Talyn squinted slightly at the question. John smiled as he realized that Aeryn had the same mannerism.

"What do you want for it?" Aeryn looked at her father slyly.

"Ah!… No catch this time." Talyn moved closer as if sizing up John again. "Pity you're an alien, John. I actually liked you." Talyn looked sadly back at his daughter. "Good-bye, Aeryn Sun."

John shifted forward. "That's it? I mean you come and skewer Moya like a big southern barbecue, telling us you're here to take Aeryn back. And then you leave without a struggle? Don't think I'm not grateful, 'cause I am. I just don't get it."

Talyn moved closer to Aeryn. "Is he always like this?"

"Yes!" She could not stop the smile from betraying her. Aeryn for the first time wanted to touch him once, just hold on to him to know what it was like. But she couldn't. She stumbled out the words. "Good bye… Talyn."

He stared at his daughter, drinking in her image as if burning it into his memory. "Tell him why, once I am gone."

"I will… Father." Aeryn's voice squeaked slightly as she uttered this most alien word.

Talyn's blood turned cold, but he did not look back. He headed for the breaching pod. Silently, they stood at the center of the terrace and watched Talyn's breaching pod disappear into the blackness of interstellar space.

"What's going on, Aeryn? What did Talyn want you to tell me?"

She looked out at the coolness of space; it always seemed to center her. She took a deep breath. "Talyn is dying. He wanted to see his daughter. He wanted to see me, once before his death."

It surprised John, how heavily this news hit him. "So he had no discommendation for coming after you?"

"No!" She could not look at John. She had to keep her view out there, out with the stars.

"So you knew this?" John moved closer to Aeryn.

"No… No, John, not till he said goodbye."

"How did you know?"

"I don't know." A small tear glistened on her cheek. "I really don't know."

John turned back to face the stars himself. "It's amazing how many people we say our final goodbyes to up here on the terrace. Larraq, Gilina, Ellie and Ulric."

"We don't know that Eleanor is dead, John." Aeryn looked at John defiantly.

"Am I sensing hope from the hopeless?"

"No… I am just tired of saying goodbye to people." Aeryn smiled sadly at him.

John answered her in a long southern drawl. "I fear that is our lot in life, Ms. Sun... that is our lot in life."

 

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