by Karl, Toadie & AmyJ
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.
“Where the frell are they?” Lucien growled as he scanned the corridors adjacent to lock nine. He hit his comms again, calling for an answer from Liet or Gruman and got nothing but silence in return. With a grunt he pulled out his own pistols and checked them before finally setting foot through the lock and into Moya herself.
Slowly he prowled the corridors scanning every dench of corridor before continuing, stopping to scrutinize every sound he heard. Something was wrong, he could almost taste it. He turned into one of the cross connection corridors, near the main hanger, just in time to catch a glimpse of motion just disappearing around the curve of one of the corridors.
He was so busy hunting for whatever had caused the movement that, as he ran, he fell headlong over something just hidden from sight around the bend. Swiftly he rolled to his feet with a curse and a blast of his weapon at the offending object.
“Awwww, frell it,” he shouted aloud, before walking up and delivering a kick to the now charred and very dead corpse of what was once Gruman.
“Stupid frelling drenhead. Can’t even lie unconscious without being in the way.” He looked around for Liet as he knew, where Gruman was, Liet wouldn’t be far behind.
“Liet, you cowardly little dren. Show yourself, I know you’re here somewhere,” he shouted. There was a rattle behind his and he turned swiftly raising his weapons as Liet squeezed himself out of one of the service hatches that led into the internal areas of Moya.
“Luc, it was horrible, they… they just kept coming…. He screamed and…” Liet's stuttering explanations were swiftly cut short with a resounding blow to the head that sent him staggering to the opposite wall for support.
“Now stop acting like the fool you are and tell me what the FRELL is going on here!”
“Chiana, I need you in command.” Aeryn called even s she dragged John into the room and settled his as far from the door as possible. Even with the DRDs to help keep these spiders out, she didn’t want him bitten again. With a sigh she looked back at Jool and proceeded to move her to where John was lying but with considerably less care. With a thump Jool hit the floor beside John but not even that interrupted her purring.
“I can’t leave D’Argo Aeryn. He’s unconscious and those spider things might come.” Chiana’s voice wafted across the command deck to Aeryn. She restrained herself with gritted teeth from telling her exactly what she could do with the spiders if they returned.
“Chiana, Pilot has sent DRDs down to medical to keep the spiders out. However, since only you and I are conscious right now I need you in command. NOW!” Aeryn was proud of how she had managed to keep her temper with the juvenile behavior of their pet stray, even if she had just begun to lose it at the end.
“Ok, ok. I’m on my way. No need to shout.” Chiana's pout carried clearly through her tone.
“Pilot, what’s happening?” Aeryn asked as she went to the flight controls and studied what they reported to her.
“We have been drawn to the Interion Ship and it is currently docked at the Hammond side port tier nine.” Pilots image appeared on the clamshell as he reported this apologetically.
“We’re what? Why didn’t you tell us that before?” Aeryn asked in a tight voice.
“I was attempting to inform the Commander when the spiders attacked, bu…”
“I understand pilot,” Aeryn interrupted. “has anyone from that ship boarded Moya yet?”
“Unknown at this time. Moya's internal sensors seem to be suffering some sort of malfunction.”
“I understand, do your best pilot.”
“So your saying these spiders swarmed over him, bit him, drank some of his blood then ran away?” Lucien paused long enough for Liet to nod vigorously in answer. “Not much of a surprise really, his blood is probably toxic from all the dren he drinks. Probably killed the little buggers.”
With an affirming nod to himself, he kicked Liet to his feet. “Come on you, move. I need answers and your not giving them, so lets go find someone who can.”
“Ok I’m here satisfied?” Chiana stated as she entered command slowly walking backwards, looking six ways at once. She had used all her skills at stealth to get here, she didn’t want a run in with those spiders again.
“Good, I need you to… what?” Aeryn practically shouted in exasperation as a highly amused expression appeared on Chiana's face before being covered with her hands as she began to laugh quietly.
“Are they... umm... supposed to be doing that?” she raised a hand and pointed to where Aeryn had left Jool and John. She turned to see that they were no longer sleeping peacefully as she had left them. Somehow they had gravitated together and were reliving their previous behavior but instead of Moya's decks as a recipient it was each other. Arms and legs seemed to be everywhere and now that Aeryn was listening little happy noises were emanating from both.
“That’s not important Chiana, we have to…” she turned back to Chiana and the door to command and swiftly pulled her pulse pistol as Lucien and Liet appeared in the entrance. Chiana seeing this reaction ducked and rolled behind the nearest console thinking it might be more spiders.
“Hold it right there.” Aeryn shouted, settling into full PK mode. Feet set square apart arms straight, pistol pointed directly at her targets heart, if he had a heart that is.
“Relax little lady, I’m just here to find out what’s happening with my property…. Are they supposed to be doing that here?” Lucien gestured off to the side where he could plainly see a Sebacean male and an Interion female in a most compromising position. He turned back to the Sebacean female who’s face was now read and her jaw firmly clamped shut, but Lucien could still plainly hear her muttering something about cutting the mivonks off an erpman, whatever they were.
“Never mind them. What they are doing is your fault anyway!” Aeryn felt her face flush and had to fight hard to suppress the desire to turn and look at what they were doing now. Frelling human.
“My fault? I didn’t tell those two to go frell each other in public.” In a display of supreme arrogance Lucien put away his pistols and strolled over to the nearest console and propped himself up against it. He wore a leering grin as he once more looked at the two on the floor before turning back to the female with the weapon pointed at him.
“It’s the spiders.” Aeryn stated plainly.
“Well, if you have a pest problem it’s your concern. I just want to know what you’re going to do about recompensing me for the loss of one of my men due to your spiders.”
“Not ours, yours!” she smiled as confusion became evident amongst the many emotions on Lucien's face.
“I don’t see how I can possibly be blamed for your current problems.” He said slowly, as if feeling for the trap he knew was coming.
“The spiders were inside what you claimed as your property or are you denying that it’s yours now?” Aeryn never let her aim waver, even knowing that should she fire there was a good chance that the lackey who still stood in the doorway glancing about nervously, would shoot her in return
“Inside? These spiders were inside? Interesting, most interesting.” Ix, started rubbing his chin, seeming to be seriously perturbed by this change in the course of events from those he predicted.
“I never thought that was possible.” Chiana’s voice piped up. As she finally seemed to come to the conclusion it was safe to come out from behind the console she was hiding behind.
“What?” Aeryn said in exasperation at the girl.
“Frelling with your clothes on, but it seems like it is.” Aeryn finally and reluctantly concluded that there wasn’t going to be a fire fight just yet and lowered her weapon. She stepped back keeping Lucien and Liet in her sight until she could see the entirety of command, including John and Jool, who were now nothing more than a seeming mess f arms and legs and noises.
Rage seemed to boil up inside her. She knew it wasn’t there fault but still her anger at them grew. Here they were in a potentially life and death situation, D’Argo unconscious and alone in the medical bay and here were the two of them, bitten by spiders and down practically frelling each other unconscious, or would be if they weren’t already unconscious.
Too make it worse, the first thing anyone seemed to say when they entered command was…
“Are they supposed to be doing THAT here?”
Everyone in the room jumped at this new voice, pistols flew from their holsters to point at a startled and now cowering Neesa. Aeryn once more felt rage in her blood. Frelling human, can’t take him anywhere.
“What the frell are you doing here Neesa?” Ix growled at her, putting away his pistol reluctantly.
“I got lonely.” She said quickly regaining her confidence now that most of the weapons were being lowered. “Besides, seems like it is MUCH more interesting here.” Blatantly she walked right up to where John and Jool were thrashing about on the deck and peered closely at them. “That’s… quite impressive you know. I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like it, and I’ve seen everything,” she purred as she turned to face Ix saucily.
“Officer Sun, I have completed my analysis of the spider. Its biomechinod in origin but it’s energy signature is so different from Moya's that they seem to interfere with each other.”
“Would that explain the sensor glitches and other faults pilot?”
“Indeed officer Sun, in fact using these glitches I was able to begin to track the movement of the swarm but they vanished on Tier nine, Hammond side.”
“Neesa…” Ix began to drawl slowly and carefully. “When you came aboard… did you shut the hatch?”
“No why should I shut the hatch? I would just have to open it again when I left.”
“You frelling stupid bitch. They’re on my ship.” Ix leapt to his feet and was running for the exit to command when Moya gave a lurch and a jolt. Everyone was thrown off their feet and Aeryn landed squarely in Ix’s lap, his arms automatically wrapping around her as once more they were thrown about. They landed in a mess of arms and legs. Strangely enough the only two seemingly unaffected by everything that happened was John and Jool. They seemed to be firmly attached there their part of the deck.
Aeryn elbowed her way free from Ix’s grasp and pulled herself to her feet. “Pilot report.”
“The Interion ship has just ripped away from Moya and is currently accelerating away at high speed.”
“Well follow it then. I’m not losing my ship.” Ix shouted in rage only to receive a glare from Aeryn.
“Can we follow them Pilot.”
“Only for a short while, soon they will be outside the range of Moya’s sensors. We would need to starburst to keep up with them and for that we would need to know where it was going.”
“But we do know pilot. Set course for the co-ordinates Carellen gave us.” Her thoughts were interrupted by a low moan from Jool and with gritted teeth she added, “and someone get me a bucket of water.”
With a disgruntled growl he sat up abruptly and instantly regretted it. The resulting pain in his skull was exquisite. Fighting waves of vertigo he forced himself up to a seated position on the bedside. He shut his eyes once more. Palms thrust against his forehead D’Argo propped his elbows on his knees.
“Chiana?” He groaned.
There was no answer. He righted his hulking frame and squinted around at the dim interior of the medical suite. Even through the hazy contents of his brain, he felt there was something… wrong. The last few moments he recalled before seething blackness was the attack on the hateful automaton, Carellen. The rest was a blur of pain and light, punctuated by Jool’s unmistakable screeching.
He tapped his coms. It emitted a garbled squeak. He looked down at it. The metal had fused together. Jool’s screaming had done considerable damage to it. The badge was useless. With numb fingers he plucked it off and tossed it over his shoulder without ceremony.
He clumped to the floor, heavy boots echoing in the empty room as he staggered toward the sealed door. The activator did not respond. Impatience growing, he passed his hand yet again over the sensor. The eye remained flat red.
“Frell….” He was stuck in the medical bay.
"Oh… isn't this special?" Crichton said sarcastically striding toward the figure sitting on the bus stop bench. "Who let you out?"
"No, John." Harvey corrected, with a slight grin. "I allowed you…in."
"I don't get it." He plopped onto the bench. "What's going on?"
"What is the last thing you recollect?"
With a laconic chuckle, John looked away. Then he frowned. What the hell had he been doing? It was a stream of disconnected images: the hangar, the Interion ship glimpsed through Moya's sensors, the robot…
"Frell." His hand went to the back of his neck, seeking the injuries made by the spiders. Of course, here… in this place… there were none. "What the hell happened?"
Harvey cocked his leather clad head, looking sidelong at John. He turned his attention to the box of Whitman's Assorted Chocolates sitting primly on the lap of his seersucker suit. Mouth pulling into a disgusted sneer he prodded at the candy with a gloved hand.
"Life… my dear Crichton… is not unlike a box of chocolates…"
"Oh brother." John buried his face in his hands. "I don't need this."
"Indeed… like the Ciax automaton Carellen… the contents of things are often surprising. In essence, you never know what you're going to get."
John turned a glare onto Harvey. Something in the wraith's voice seethed with a gloating intelligence. "Wait a minute. You knew what was in that thing?"
"No. I am as surprised as you."
Harvey rose from the bench and strolled leisurely to stand before the bus stop sign. In the distance a rusted out bus trundled down the street toward them. "Irregardless I have done you a favor by bringing you here."
"That so?" He folded his arms.
"Yes… The neurotoxin you were exposed to could have very well dissolved your psyche. If there is no John Crichton…"
"There's no you." He finished the sentence for him. "I've said it once and I'll say it again…you're all heart."
The bus hissed to a halt at their stop.
"Now what?" John asked..
"Officer Sun is a very… resourceful woman. She will no doubt come to our assistance."
There is nothing more pathetic looking than a wet Interion, unless perhaps it's a crying wet Interion, thought Aeryn. Jool sat shivering on the deck, her red hair clinging to her face and scalp like wet matted weeds. Her bottom lip pulled into a quivering pout.
"Why did you do that?!" She whined.
Aeryn bit the inside of her mouth to keep from snickering. "Come on. That's enough of that. Get up."
She grabbed Jool's arm and gracelessly pulled her to her feet. Indignant, the Interion wrestled away from her help.
"What the frell are you laughing at, you monochromatic little bitch?" Jool glared.
Chiana canted her head at a mocking angle as she giggled. "You look like a drowned mellet."
"Sound advice for the both of you!" Aeryn snapped. She turned her attention back to John. He lay motionless on the floor. Any sign that he was enjoying whatever stupor had claimed him had vanished.
"John…" He gave no response as Aeryn leaned over him. His breathing was slow and shallow. His skin radiated a feverish heat.
"Oh Hezmana." Jool knelt beside her, the childish tirade put on hold. Aeryn suppressed the impulse to slap the woman's hands away. "His circulatory seems normal."
"Can you revive him?"
"What? How?" Jool stammered. "I don't know what's doing this to him. Besides that, there's no diagnostic--"
"Pilot has run an analysis on one of the spiders. You can look at the results…" Aeryn reached across the prone human and grabbed her upper arm.
"I need to get him to the medical bay for that."
"No one's leaving this chamber!" Their tense exchange was interrupted by Ix. He moved to stand before the door and folded his arms.
"This man is injured. Unless we get him to the med-bay, he could die. And I will not allow that." Aeryn sat back on her haunches. Her hand moved to the pulse gun, but just as quickly Liet was upon her, rifle lowered at her.
"We're all staying here." Ix said. He waved his hand dismissively. "This is far too convenient… I've heard stories about this fugitive crew. This could be an elaborate deception. You could have very well forged an alliance with Carellen--"
"Ha! He thinks we planned this." Chiana chirped, incredulous. She bobbed her shaggy head of hair and regarded Ix. "We've frelled up some pretty good plans… but this is way way way worse than what we usually manage on our own."
"Fine. If that is what you believe…" Aeryn spat. She rose, cautious of the obviously nervous Liet. "Just let us get him to the bay. Send your man with us if you do not trust us."
There was a pensive silence. Ix grabbed the B'Nai by the upper arm and turned away, engaged in some hushed conversation with her. He turned back to Aeryn. "Alright. But not Liet. He's far too stupid. Neesa, will go. You stay here, Peacekeeper."
"Agreed." Aeryn said flatly.
She stooped to help gather the unconscious human up. Jool slipped his limp arm around her shoulders. Wordlessly, Chiana slipped in along his other side and did the same. They paused looking to Aeryn. She felt the burden of their expectant silence.
"Be careful of the B'Nai."
The Interion ship was immense. To say that he was lost would suggest that he had an idea of where he wanted or needed to be. That was not the case. Stark pressed his back to the wall and slid sideways, checking and rechecking the shadows for them.
"Many… many… many…" he muttered beneath his breath.
He slipped silently into one of the few shadowed corners of the impossibly white hallways of the Interion vessel. Slowly he slid to the floor, tucking his knees into his chest and began to rock back and forth on his haunches. It was only a matter of time. They would come for him. They were already on their way. He had sensed they were hungry. It was just like the time Before. Although the mass of his childhood was a dim recollection, there were cruel memories that time did not fade.
As a boy he studied with high master Kagest on the planet Becca. It was there he had witnessed a Ciax attack. They had descended upon the small monastery in their faceless machines. The steel cylinders ruthlessly captured over fifty pilgrims and clerics. In the midst of the chaos one Banic had been able to penetrate the body of one of the metal monsters. Master Kagest was able to get close enough to one of the small beasts. He was able to see through to their end…
Stark shivered. The master's sad expression was forever emblazed in his memory. "Close you eyes Pylorites Stark… You are not yet ready to bear witness to this."
Kagest bravely turned to remove his mask as one of the huge machines scooped him up with its large claws.
Stark, then a small terrified boy, scrambled fearfully away into the inner sanctum of the monastery, but he could not stop himself from looking back. He saw his dying master in the now still claws of the dead machine. Stark's young mind could not handle what was unleashed on the unsuspecting Ciax.
It was only now did he understand with clarity what Master Kagest had achieved in his sacrifice. He had Unleashed the images of the extermination of the Ciax. At some point in the future biologics would be unleashed on the Ciax. They would not go down in battle, but would die in decaying heap. This race that sought mastery over all others would succumb to a simple virus.
He hugged his knees closer to his chest as he heard the first of them scurrying along the polished floors. Stark bit his lower lip trying to stop himself from his fearful banter. "Many… many… many… many…many."
He could now see the sickly yellow creatures as they shifted back and forth cautiously. They moved apart as they advanced but then scurried back together like frightened children returning to mother's side. They were strung out, each passing along information to the next like links in a chain.
Stark had respect for all living things that lived by a code. But these things did not adhere to it. They were not sentient on their own. Only in communication with one another did they achieve sentience. Alone they are no smarter the Zephyr flea or a Mellut. He slowly released the strap around his neck. It was then that Stark's observation made sense.
How could he not have seen it before!
"That's it! That's it!" He stood from his pitiful hiding place. He stifled a giggle as he studied the creeping menace.
"Come closer my many many many mindless friends." He sang in a nervous twitter.
The advancing chain slowed as if they possessed a strange apprehension. They paused, their tiny antennae intertwined with each other in hideous communion.
The gleeful excitement evaporated into an icy stare. "Are you trying to figure out why I am not running from you?" His cold tone echoed down the immense corridor. The chain moved back slightly. Their antennae quivered nervously as they conversed.
Stark's tone softened. He could ruin his plan if he did not quell the waves of emotion that constantly ebbed and flowed though this consciousness. "My many little friends... don't be afraid. I have something to show you."
Stark closed his eyes and concentrated. It was more difficult to focus on the images master Kagest had shown them, but Stark knew he still contained that memory. He smiled slightly as the horrific images come forward. He had to steady himself to keep from being immersed in the horror he was about to unleash on these unsuspecting creatures. He pulled the shell away from his face and let them witness their greatest fear incarnate: their own death.
He watched in awe as they first shuddered, scrambled away blindly in all directions. They tried to scurry up the polished white walls only to fall back down, spindly legs convulsing. There were the sickly sounds of some trampling others that remained at the back of the cluster, yet unaware of the horrific visions surging through their kindred. Like a violent flame the images spread among them, causing them to retreat, repeatedly slamming into walls and hatchways.
Stark slowly placed his shell back in place and walked though the remaining ones that had be injured or killed in the witnessing.
Stark kicked one out of his way. He screamed at it. "You deserve it!
He looked down the long corridor at the mindless creatures scurrying blindly in all directions. "All of you!" He shouted in a now husky tone. " Just wait... What I have shown will come true!"
"And It Your fault!… Not my fault!… Your fault!" He kicked the dead spider out of his way.
Stark continued to mumble the same phrase. With each step he punched his sides. "My fault! Your fault! My fault! Your fault! My fault! Your fault..."
He walked indignantly towards what he believed to be the control center of the immaculate ship.
Aeryn stood at the center of the command tier only D'Argo and Chiana remained with her. On the screen in front of them were Lucien Ix and Neesa.
He sat at his throne on the Interion ship. At the front of his display of wealth next to his throne the shell of Carellen. Two large cylinders with dead Ciax Spiders floating in them flanked either side.
"Thank you officer Sun." Lucien patted one of the cylinders. "It has been interesting." He shifted forward and smiled warmly to the Peacekeeper. "Remember my offer it still stands." He slyly looked at Neesa then back to her.
"You have made yourself a powerful ally today. Good luck to you." His image dissolved replaced by the white ship turning away form Moya and quickly disappearing.
Aeryn turned to leave them. Chiana stepped in her path. "What did Sir Wind Bag offer you?"
Aeryn stopped. The slightest color came to her cheeks. D'Argo leaned forward, interested. She turned back to the empty screen. "He offered me that ship…"
"What!" Chiana giggled. "Now that’s an offer not even you could refuse… What's the catch?" Her head dipped in the direction of the screen.
D'Argo laughed. Even as Aeryn started to speak he realized what Lucent wanted in trade.
"Let just say what he wanted was not for sale." She shifted past Chiana and left the command tier.
Chiana joined D'Argo in his laugh. "Frell I wish he had made me that offer…"
D'Argo continued to laugh as he slowly lumbered out of the command tier. "Chi you would have done it for nothing!"
Her giggles ended abruptly. "That’s not true!" She followed after him. "Well maybe… but only once! But I wasn't even asked! I mean look at me way wouldn't he ask me?"
"Chiana I don’t know maybe we will met up with him again and you can ask him yourself. Now leave me alone. I've got to go get some rest."
John had needed Pilot's help to track down Stark. He found him curled up just inside the terrace next to the pressure hatchway.
John walked into the room stiffly. "Well there's the man of the hour… how ya doing!"
Stark just sat his knees pulled up to his chin. He did not react to John.
He squatted down in front of Stark, his legs screaming in agony from the effort. John had felt as if he had been riding a horse for three days when he awoke from his strange stupor. He remained embarrassed over what they had told him about the spider bites. Thankfully Chi did not have a holo-recorder or he would have never lived it down. Things had returned to their relative states of normalcy. But that was a term.... relative.
Stark had not spoken since his return from the Interion ship.
"Look, Stark, I just want you to know that I am here if you wanna talk or anything?”
Stark broke his stare of the stars and focused on his friend. "Thank you." He slowly looked away once more.
"OK, my friend. I will leave you to the heavens. " John stood with a painful groan and left the Terrace.
Stark whispered out to all that is yet to come. "If you only knew John, if you only knew."