OK here is how it works:
1) Must use the title in the story.
2) Must not be longer than 5 pages of text.
3) Must have at least 2 characters in it.
4) Must relate some way to Farscape.
 The Way of the Peacekeeper

By AmyJ

"Girl, why are you crying?"

The boy's voice startled her from her misery. Xhalax Sun looked around the darkened barracks as she cowered in the corner of her narrow bunk. His silhouette leaned down to slyly regard her from beyond the edge of the upper bunk.

"I muh-muh-miss Mother." She sobbed, hugging her knees. "The officer… he took her necklace from me today."

"What's your name?" He returned, unfazed by her small tale of sorrow.
 
She stole quietly forward, eager for a companion in this frightening place. The other children had been cruel from the moment they learned she had been conscripted from Sebacean agricultural colony, not from a breeding program as they were. "Xhalax."

"Don't talk to the agri recruit," called another cadet from the darkness. "She doesn't belong here."

The boy turned in the direction of the slur. In the semi-darkness she could not make out his expression, but the disdain he held for the interloper was obvious in his retort. "Shut up, Corsair! You spoiled dren head."

Xhalax smiled thinly, uncertain if he were defending her or just being a bully to the other.

"Talyn," her visitor whispered, returning his attention to her. "My name's Talyn."
There was a subtle shift of fabric. Xhalax sensed his folded hand dangling over the bunk's edge to her. Cautiously she reached out. There was the smallest glint in the shadows. Wound between his chubby fingers was her mother's necklace.
"I think this is yours." He grinned.
* * *

Xhalax Sun was a hesitant shadow in the threshold to the maintenance bay, nervously playing with the tarnished chain at her neck. Her raven hair was in disarray, hanging loosely around her face. Dried blood, some her own, some a stranger's, speckled her face and jacket in patches. Her eyes were huge, glimmering aqua pools in the dim light of the quiet corridor, darting at each noise and foreign sound.

She regarded the indifferent cold metal of the sealed door before checking the location code for the third time: Section RCW- 17. The darkened portal in the door gave no secrets of the other side. All the glass held was the ghostly image of her own reflection. Her numb fingers moved to the placard, tracing the pattern of letters, lingering there.

Anything to stall the moment that lay beyond. To stave off what must happen next.

A huddled group of technicians scurried past. One of them had the nerve to meet her eyes before hurriedly looking away. Xhalax stared him down, conspicuously shouldering the pulse rifle across her dingy and rumpled fatigues. Only when they were further down the corridor did she turn her attention back to the door.

"Why do this, Xhalax?" She started slightly at her own whisper. What she was contemplating flew in the face of her Peacekeeper conditioning.

But the answer was elusive, nebulous as the mass of emotions that sought to over-ride her present resolve.

Loss. Complete and unending.
With a thousand things left unsaid and undone. A million regrets unvoiced.
The dirge for something barely glimpsed in tragic possibility.

There was only a quarter arn before she was expected in debriefing. Time was running short.
Now or never.

She drew in a deep breath and cycled the lock. The doors parted and Xhalax was embraced by the gloom. A small gust of stale air filtered past. Carried on it was the smell of charred flesh and burned hair. A disembodied moan crawled out of the shadows to find her.

Neat rows of the fallen were stretched the length of the bay, divided by squads.

Peacekeeper casualties against the Scarrans in the liberation of Hedas had been far greater than anyone in command had anticipated. Areas such as this had been converted into makeshift triages throughout the carrier. Only this one was for the criticals.

"What's your business here?" A harried voice called at her back.

She turned, heart in her throat, as though caught in some forbidden act. But she made her face a mask, eyes narrowed in silent rebuke. "Black Star regiment. Operations squadron. Confirming kills and injured."

It was not a complete lie. To further her bluff, she made a motion to find phantom orders within the inner pockets of her uniform.

Her challenger, a surgeon of barely twenty cycles, looked upon her in thinly veiled amazement. He waved her imaginary orders off.

"Of course…. Sir." The young surgeon stammered, gesturing to the farthest reaches of the chamber. "Operations. Took the heaviest casualties from that detach-"

"I know. I was there."

Xhalax turned on her heel and moved through the pallets set on the floor, feeling the young man's awe-filled gaze follow her. The stories had no doubt spread quickly through the carrier.

Black Star regiment had been the hardest hit, having been stranded without reinforcements for nearly three weekens on Hedas. When they were finally extracted, the survivors had been greeted with much of the same wonderment, as though she and the remainder were immortal, unbreakable.

If only that were true. If only…
Enough.
I am alive to fight another day.
But he will not.

She paused in her tracks, pulling her chin up, as though to physically remove herself from the line of regrets and empty wishes.

* * *

"I have to. I have no choice." Her eyes were flat pools as she restated the barb of truth. She felt numb, cold at her very core. Xhalax moved closer against him, seeking his warmth in the bed.

Talyn's face was unreadable as he stared at the ceiling, refusing to look at her. Through a clenched jaw he muttered, "He's an officer. Better than a tech, I suppose."

"We knew this would happen, eventually. To either one of us."

He was quiet.

"This means nothing to us." Xhalax tried. His silence was terrifying to her.

With muted anger, he turned on her. "Nothing? Really? To see you bred to another
man?"

She brought herself up on one elbow to face him. "It doesn't have to be his child. They won't check the genetics. They hardly ever do when the birth is for infantry."

* * *

Xhalax wove through the mingle of death rattles and utterances. Some lay still, eyes open in death to glimpse their ends with incredulity. The dying stirred as she passed. They muttered their agonies to the patient cold dark.

In the corner, she found him.

Xhalax took a furtive glance around the room. The surgeon had moved out of sight with his aids, part of the thicker shadows of the room's entrance. This folded corner of misery was hers now.

"Talyn" She said, softly, kneeling beside the twisted form.

Gently she reached out, brushing the dirty blonde hair from his face. At her touch, he stirred. A painful grimace wavered across his bloodstained mouth.

"Xhalax… s-s-shouldn't be here. You know that," he gasped. But his eyes held a miserable gratitude.

"I know." She looked down at the dirty grating as her vision blurred. He placed a cold, heavy hand over hers.

"There is so much to say…" But the words died in her throat. All the practiced speeches had dissolved, abandoning her to a sickening hollow that consumed her heart. There had always been Talyn. As long as she could remember: as children, as cadets, later as soldiers.

This could not be happening. Not like this.

Xhalax whipped her head around sharply, anger consuming her in the face of her weakness.

"Where's the frelling surgeon? Can't he do something for you? There's got to be…"

"Xhalax." His rattle stayed her. "Too late."

She found his eyes and the truth written there. It was a surety that embraced her spine with icy fingers.

Not like this. Please. Not like this.

"There is so much-" Xhalax began again.

"Shh… I know."

Slowly, his unsteady hand rose to cradle her jaw. A small sad smile found her mouth as she guided his hand to rest over the still flat muscles of her stomach, over the spark of life nestled there. Silent understanding eddied over the pain in his face.

Xhalax bent near to his ear, her skin brushing his. "Our child will know, Talyn. I swear to you. About us. About their father."

His eyes shut and for a moment she feared he had slipped away, unhearing.

But he spoke once more. "Our promise…'member?" He muttered, twisting under another wave of pain in his ruined body.
Her spine stiffened. She remembered the promise made cycles ago, in the stolen privacy of a crowded marauder. It was a hushed exchange between two grunts, foolish in their own protective yokes of false bravado.

"Yes. But I can't do it." Her voice cracked. "This isn't the way, Talyn."

There was such a want to deny it, to keep him here with her, greedily, even if it meant to continue his agony.

Talyn's brow furrowed. His voice was only a thin imitation of anger. "It's our way. You and I, woman. Would have…me die… like this? Fallen… by a Scarran?"

She placed a calming hand on his arm. Her throat a painful knot. "No… I promised. I remember."

"Do it… now." With trembling hands she found the kill-shot in the hidden folds of her jacket. The vial of amber liquid took on a sinister glow in the dim. Xhalax looked over to the medics, though she was certain they would not care. Nor would they understand. They had never seen a battlefield in their lives. They could only see waste of a kill-shot on a man who was dying anyway.

"Xhalax."

She met his eyes.

So much left unsaid. So much.

Her motions were the mockery of the lover she once was to him. She bent over him. Her mouth brushed his brow, placing a kiss. Heart thudding heavily in her chest, she held the injector against the bruised flesh of his throat.

"Talyn."

He squeezed his eyes shut, his hand wrapping around hers that held the poison. It was soon done.

* * *

In the semi-darkness she picked out the sleeping forms in their neat rows of bunks. Xhalax moved quietly to the assigned space. For the past two solar days, she had visited this cavernous room when it was deserted, gathering her nerve. She had stood before the featureless cot. It was identical to its companions. It bore no mark or personalization to name its owner. It special only to Xhalax.

But now it was occupied.

Our daughter.

The sleeping girl stirred, sensing the presence at the foot of her bunk.

"Sir?" She said, groggily, discipline won over by sleep.

Xhalax moved closer. "Aeryn Sun. That is your name, correct?"

The girl sat up, ready to spring to attention. Her face was impossibly serious for one so young. "Sir. Yes, sir."

"No." Xhalax held out a quieting hand. "As you were."

A quizzical look flitted across the child's face, but she made not response.

"Aeryn Sun," Xhalax began, "I have a promise to keep."