The Sentinel

Part One

Writing Relay by Karl, AmyJ & Toadie


Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Yes, please!

This is the second writing relay attempted by some of the staff writers at Karlsweb. Each section's beginning indicates the guilty party. <G> The name of the game is... someone starts with a scene and passes it along to the next writer to add onto. 


~Karl

They lined up, as always, at the main airlock door. D'Argo conducted his usual protesting. John stood close to Aeryn. The chattering Jool with her thousand questions stood behind them.  

John tried to shush her, but it was no good. He questioned his resolve to even keep her on the ship. It was a bitter thought, once again proof the man he once was had gone forever. 

"You ready?"  D'Argo grumbled. 

"What?" John pulled himself from the mire of guilt. 

"Hello. are you ready?" 

"Ya, D'Argo as I ever am." 

"Pilot, open the doors." D'Argo repositioned himself, his stance became as if he was going to hold back some evil force about to enter the ship. The squeal of his Qualta blade's compression chamber holding back a maximum charge ringing in his ears. 

The doors slowly parted as they had countless times before, bringing the same fears and the same loathing of what lay beyond.  

"What the frell ..." he gasped slightly as a cold shiver ran down his spine. At first John thought it was some kind of statue. If he didn't know better it almost looked like some alien representation of Christ.  

It hovered in the doorway, its arms outstretched to either side of its body. The body was humanoid, made of a material that to John looked more like concrete than anything. Yet its slight movements seemed a contradiction for such a material.   

The thing moved forward, its outstretched feet never touching the ground. Its legs never moved as it slowly hovered forward into the hangar. Its head scanned each of them. Black slits located where a humanoid's eyes would have been located. They seemed to open larger as it regarded each of them in turn. 

No this was no statue. It was a robot!  

Its arms slowly lowered to its sides as it approached. "I am Sentinel Carellen. "

The emotionless face of the robot did not change as it spoke. Only its mouth, another black slit of an opening, seemed to grow in size as it spoke. Its jaw never moved to match the words.

Like bad kung fu movie dubbing, John thought. 

"OK, my mechanical freak, you're here now." John stepped forward raising his pistol to target the robot's head. "What do you want?" 

The machine reacted to John's aggression. It moved its fingerless hands in front of its body as if to shield it from the pulse gun. They were all surprised by this reaction. 

"As I had stated to your Pilot, bring me to the coordinates that I requested and I will transfer a full database of the entire area that you Sebaceans call the Uncharted Territories." Its head tilted slightly. If John did not know better it was gloating. 

"What are you?" Aeryn asked calmly. Her steady pulse rifle did not budge from its target. 

"I am Sentinel Carellen." Its slightly mechanical voice announced more loudly. 

"Yes, but. what is a Sentinel Carellen?" 

"A Sentinel is a mediator for the Ciax Realm. Carellen is my designation." Its head turned to John. " It is believed that having a name allows us to interface better with other races." 

John scratched his forehead with his pulse gun.  "Alright Carellen. What is the Ciax Realm?" 

The machine's dead stare fell on a far wall. Its arms stiffened. "I am sorry that information is not available."  

Impossibly its hovering form became even more still.

"What are you doing out here?" 

"I am sorry that information is not available." 

"OK. Well I guess we won't play then, either." John sighed. "Pilot open the hangar doors. Our friend is leaving..." 

"John, wait!" D'Argo moved up next to him. "Do you know what maps to the Uncharted Territories would be worth?" 

"I don't care..." John snapped, haphazardly waving his gun in the machine's general direction.  "If Robby the freaking Robot ain't gonna answer a few questions then it's game-over-thanks-for-playing-time-to-collect-a-few-parting-gifts!" 

"I am sorry. There are areas of information that I cannot answer." Carellen continued. The meter of his words seemed to hasten.  

"Great. What can you tell us?" 

"I was in the Keurig-N'Dex system negotiating for an object of interest. The negotiations were terminated and I was attacked as I tried to leave. The aggressors were neutralized but my craft was severely damaged in the retaliation. That is why I contacted your pilot." Its head moved back to face John. "I need to return to the realm." 

"Or what?" John chided. He uttered a small laugh. "Don't tell me your batteries will run down?" 

"I am sorry I do not under stand the last statement. Please restate differently." 

"John. what are you doing?" Aeryn asked in a smooth yet irritated manner that only she could master. 

He turned to her. "You sure you folks have never heard of robots before?" His was receiving that same look as always when they had no clue what he was saying. " Robots? Mechanical men? Machines capable of replacing humans?"

John did not bother to look back at them. He folded his arms and stared at the thinking machine in front of him. 

 Aeryn allowed her tone to soften slightly. "John, mechanical augmentation of Sebaceans has been researched." Her eyes never left the machine's. She could not allow John's distraction to lower her defenses. "But self-supported mechanical beings would be considered. repugnant." 

"What about you, Big Guy?" 

"No rowboats. It would be considered. cheating. How can such a beast be a true warrior?" 

"That's robots! Ya know? Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger!" John flailed his arms about.  "Aw. forget it! Here we are deep in space and you guys have never heard of a freaking C3PO!" 

Aeryn and D'Argo just looked at each other for a microt. John could see the crack of a smile on each of their faces. 

 ~AmyJ~

"Hey.wait a microt," Chiana purred. With her own brand of feline grace she slid next to John, purposefully inserting herself between him and Aeryn.She greeted the Sebacean's casual sneer with a stellar smirk before turning her complete attention onto John.  

"Pip, what's going on in that devious little brain?" he sing-songed, canting his head in a small parody of her own fluid movements.  

Her pouting gray lips pulled into a larger smile. "D'Argo's right. nav maps to the uncharteds could be worth--" 

"Lies! Myths!" Stark blurted stalking closer to Carellen. They all watched one of Moya's resident madmen turn a slow circle of their strange visitor. "The uncharteds are uncharted because they're uncharted." 

Stark stopped in his tracks. He rolled his eyes upward as though to recall the statement, check it for its veracity, and decide it was correct before nodding in complete agreement with himself. As always, he was oblivious to their bewildered silence as he leaned closer to the hovering body of the sentinel and craned his neck, turning his ear to the torso like an eavesdropper.  

The Banik strangled a small anguished cry and backed away, muttering. "Many. many. many. many." 

"So. anyway." John turned back to Chiana as though Stark's small outburst had never happened although the Banik's continued gibbering echoed through the bay.  

"Make him prove it." Chiana said, jerking her chin at the automaton. 

"Hey. Astro quit that." John snapped his fingers at Stark. "Down boy!" 

Carellen seemed to drift away from Stark, giving the impression that "he" did not care for the scrutiny. The black slits regarded John as he spoke.  "I may provide a small data crystal that your leviathan's navigator may access."

 "Now. that's mighty nice of you, hoss." John stepped closer, hooking the thumb of his available hand in the band of his holster. "You're offering a free sample?" 

"Enough information to safely navigate the system and avoid the flax traps manned by the local criminal organizations.yes." Carellen intoned. "To be considered partial payment. When I reach my destination I shall provide the remainder." 

"No. absolutely not." Aeryn said, stepping forward. Her brow pinched thoughtfully as she fully considered the offer. Her pulse gun was no longer trained on Carellen, yet it was not pointing away from their guest either. "We don't know a thing about this. being. We don't need maps. We've more wealth than we know what to do with as it is." 

"Good point." John raised the gun once more. "No dice, Tobor." 

"Commander Crichton. Ka D'Argo. your attention!" Pilot's urgent call suddenly sounded across all of their comms at once. "Moya is detecting the approach of an armed ship. It is closing distance with great speed." 

"That's just fabulous." John muttered. "Frell!" 

~Toadie~ 

Pilot's announcement sparked the crew into their, by now, well practiced routine. John, Aeryn and Chiana ran for command, followed by a loudly complaining Jool.  But this was not before a brief argument with D'argo to make him stay behind to keep an eye on Carellen. Stark lingered in a corner, content to mutter to himself and make small swatting gestures at the thin air. Rygel had other priorities, if he were going to die, he wanted to do it on full stomachs.  

"Any ID on that ship yet pilot?" John yelled as he came barreling round the corner into Command, barely avoiding a DRD in his path. He was swiftly followed by Aeryn and Chiana. Jool had been at their heels, stopping to complain two levels ago, but soon gave it up when she realized that the others had swiftly left her behind. With an exaggerated pout, she slowly stomped her way to Command. 

"I'm sorry commander but it doesn't match anything in Moya's data-stores." Pilot's image appeared on the clamshell in reply to John's enquiry. 

"You sure it is coming at us pilot?" Aeryn asked as she moved towards the overseer's console and started punching buttons. 

"Of course it's coming towards us. It's armed, moving at high speed and heading in our direction. Either it's someone is really desperate to deliver his pizza before the thirty-minute limit, or it is someone wanting to say hi to us, and with our track record I sure don't want to be waiting." John cut in before Pilot could reply. He stepped up beside Aeryn and started manipulating the sensors to try and get a better idea of what they faced.

"Pees-ah?"  Chiana asked from her place by the door, just in case a quick exit was necessary. 

"Yeah. You know, dough and.  Oh never mind it's not important. Pilot, I know this is going to be extremely unlikely but I have to ask, any chance we can Starburst?" John's voice held no hope for that option even as he spoke, still punching buttons trying to make the data he had scrolling over the screen in front of him make sense. 

"I'm afraid not, Commander. Moya's reserves are still greatly depleted. It will be several arns until they are built back up to their previous levels." Pilots voice was full of apology, as if it were something for which both he and Moya were responsible. 

"It's alright, Pilot. We understand." Aeryn said calmly. Frowning she glanced over at what John was doing and finally elbowed him away from the console. 

"Pilot, are you able to display the approaching ship?" Aeryn asked even as John grunted and began rub his stomach in accusation behind her back. 

"Of course Officer Sun, at once." 

On the screen a ship appeared, details slowly becoming clearer as it moved closer. It took John several microts to realize that the approaching ship was huge, bigger than huge. bigger-than-Moya-huge. But what was stranger was that it made sense to John. He didn't recognize it, but its design spoke to him of engineering principles that he had not seen before in the Uncharted Territories. He couldn't put his finger on why, but, the ship just made sense

"Anyone recognize it?" he looked around to the faces of the others. Aeryn and Chiana just shook their heads mutely as they watched the ship steadily advance. 

" I do," Jool said in as she finally walked into Command. 

~Karl~

"We have no time for this," Aeryn reprimanded. She did not bother to look back at the young woman.

"Mighty Ice Queen, do you know whose ship it is? I didn't think so."  Jool's voice remained calm and clear. It was that more than the insult to Aeryn that made turn away from the approaching white craft that even now filled the view plate. Jool's grin widened as she walked slowly into command. She stopped near the nav hub, reaching out to the screen as if to touch the image.  

"It is an Imperial Onyx Hegamon. My uncle had tenure on one when I was a child." She moved up to the projection and placed her hand on the screen, her hair turning a violet red. She stood transfixed as if afraid she would wake up and it would all have been a dream.

John looked to Aeryn then back to Jool. "Then it's a Interion ship?" He found it hard to believe. "I thought you said your race had no military?"

The white ship was still closing on them. "We don't but large corporations and universities
sponsor trade vessels." Jool forced herself to look away from the beautiful white ship that could be her savior to face her traveling companions. "Trust me, Crichton we are peaceful, but we aren't frelling stupid!"  For the first time Jool felt like she was in control. She turned to the waiting image of Pilot. "Set coms to seven Hegracs Gigaband range. That's should get their attention."  

Chiana moved forward. "That means you will be leaving." Her stance wilted slightly, her fluid motion seeming to halt.

"Don't think it has been a little slice of the divine ...
Cause it hasn't. "Her smile faded as she looked at Chiana. They fought like Grendels and Jabbers but they were like sisters on Moya.

John too felt a twinge of loss. Jool for all of her tantrums and screaming was still just a little lost girl. He connected with her on that level. He realized it was his fault that she had been stranded with them. He remembered what it was like to be so alone in such an alien place. He was saddened that she was leaving but the cold in the pit of his stomach was not the pang of loosing Jool but the envy that she was going home. This bitter thought burned him. He should be happy for her but. His thoughts were interrupted by D'Argo.

"Crichton! Aeryn! Get down here! Carellen is move--" D'Argo's barking was replaced by static. 

Then the soft even tone of Carellen echoed through Command. "I am sorry to interrupt. But all is not what it appears. That ship is..."

"D'Argo what's going on down there?" John demanded.

"There is no response from the vessel. But it is slowing its approach." Pilot said with growing fright.

John moved past the control station. "Pilot, how did Carellen get though the Coms?"

"I don't know, Commander.
It appears to be quite resourceful."  

"Cri. Aeryn! Carrel. Has erected a.. Field I can't. Its hea. for.. ommand." 

John looked at Chiana. She knew what John was about to ask her and wordlessly headed out of command.  As she rounded the corner to the corridor she slammed into Stark who appeared out of nowhere. 

"Many... many... many... didn't you hear?" He said pulling Chiana closer to him. 

"Sorry, Stark. Not now!" She pulled herself away from jabbering Banik.


Pilot spoke again, rising slightly at his console. "I am receiving a signal from the ship!"

John moved back to his console. Sparing a glance at Stark, he raised his finger to his lips. Stark had known for some time what it meant. John watched as the Banik
moved to the back wall of the command tier, leaned against it and slid down the wall to the floor, his hands clasped under his arms. He appeared to be speaking silently to himself. John turned returned his attention to the view plate.  

"Open coms, Pilot."

The image that appeared was of a man sitting in what John could only think of as a throne.

Lucien Ix surveyed the crew of the leviathan. They were an odd group. An Interion and two Sebaceans. His gaze returned to the Sebacean female. Her jet-black hair pulled back in a style was could only make her a Peacekeeper. Lucien shifted forward in his seat. "I would say you are very far from home, Peacekeeper."  

"No!" Jool whimpered as she stepped back from the screen. "How did you get that ship?"

"Jool!" Aeryn motioned her to stand next to her. She turned her attention back to the main viewer. She tilted her head slightly giving the sense of 
authority. "I was thinking the same thing. " Aeryn allowed her question to hover to see if the man would introduce himself, perhaps giving more her more
knowledge to work from in the current situation.

His smile widened. "You don't know who I am? He laughed. Off screen they could hear others with him that started to laugh as well. "Lucent Ix." He bowed his head slightly" .and all that you see is mine." Lucien raised his hands out to the side making sure that Aeryn could see his missing trigger fingers.

John spoke quietly to Aeryn not taking his eyes off the clown on the screen. "Jesus! The guy's not to too full of himself is he?  I don't get it. He has a hedge trimming accident and he ends up on a ship like that out here owning a large piece of the Uncharteds?"

"Quiet, John." Aeryn hissed. "It indicates how resourceful he is. If you are deemed a coward or deserter and the Peacekeepers catch up with you, they sever you
your trigger fingers and place you in the center of the nearest ground campaign. To survive such odds is remarkable! Now please... for once let me handle this." Aeryn turn her full attention to the Sebacean.  

She raised her hands showing that she had both her trigger fingers. "We are merely passing through this sector if we had known that it was under your jurisdiction we would have asked for passage." She bowed her head slightly. The wisp of a smile came to her face. She knew how to play this game. "How does a Peacekeeper deserter come to own a system like this?" Allowing the slight smile to grow.

Lucent smile widened. "What is your name?" He stared intensely at Aeryn. 

A tall thin woman stepped into view. She brushed Lucien's cheek with her hand as she turned towards the image of the Leviathan crew. She seemed almost cat-like. Her smile widened.  

"Luc some times you are so Null headed." She giggled. "You are speaking to the Peacekeeper renegade officer Aeryn Sun. The pretty man behind her is a Humum from a world called Erp, named John Crichton."

"Where are the Luxan and Delvian?" She asked the question sarcastically. Neesa really didn't care. Her intention was to demonstrate that she, more then any of them, knew what was going on. 

John shifted to the side of his console, annoyed. "Will anyone ever get it right! Look, lady! It's human from Earth. E! A! R! T! H!" 

"That's enough Neesa!" Lucien stood from his throne. He was more than angered by her entrance. He turned his attention back to Aeryn. His smile returned. "I have to thank you taking out that pest Natira. 

"Shutting down her pitiful operation has made my business in this sector jump by thirty percent." He laughed slightly. "Now, please, don't tell me you are planning on taking me on?" 

"John why don't you go help D'Argo!" Aeryn yelled over her shoulder. She turned back to the screen. "NOW!"  

She softened her annoyed tone. "No, As I said we were only passing through this sector." 

John pointed to the beautiful blond on the screen. "Aeryn I don't need cat woman over there spreading the name wrong! Names are important!" 

"Really, John?" She finally looked at him.  "Tavloids! Plakavoids! Scorpians! " 

"Stop it both of you!" Jool's outburst stopped the bickering between John and Aeryn. It also took out three illuminators on the command tier. Her anger grew as she lost control. "How did you get that ship? Ships like this would never be sold or traded. How did you get it!"

"That is not important little girl." He stepped forward. Although he was surrounded by wealth, Lucien looked more like a common foot soldier. His clothing was dirty and care-worn. He looked at Jool with a smug grin. "Let's say I acquired it." His smile was that of a predator about to pounce.  

"Now back to me." His smile drained from his face.  "You have one of my belongings. I want it back."

Aeryn was puzzled. She turned to John slowly as she realized what Ix was looking for.
She spoke quietly. "Crichton! The rowboat! He wants Carellen." 

"Shit, Aeryn. That's easy! Give it to him." He smiled yet a portion of him knew it couldn't be that easy.

"Now return my property." Lucent seemed to be getting annoyed. 

Aeryn turned back to the screen. "This item is a large floating mechanical statue?" 

"Yes!" He crossed his arms on his chest expecting a negative response. 

John moved up next to Aeryn. "Sure pal, Robby is all yours."  

John looked to Aeryn. She read the nervousness in his expression. "What is it, John?" 

"This is just way too easy." 

"Sometimes things just work out, John." She smiled. "And you say I am paranoid." 

Chiana screamed over the com. "Crichton! Help! The machine, Carellen is choking Dargo." There were the sounds of pulse fire and the comms went dead.  

John turned from Aeryn and ran out of the command. "I told you Aeryn. It's never that easy!" 

Goto: The Sentinel - Part Two

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