Author: This story represents a collaborative effort. Although it was written by AmyJ. the original story concept and characters introduced here were developed by Karl. 
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Unwelcome visitors, the end result of heartless Peacekeeper experimentation, board Moya, separating Aeryn from the rest of the crew.
Archiving: Please inquire. 
Timeline: Season 3-ish
Part: 1 | 2

Part I

Moya sensed them well before those aboard her. She allowed them to move closer, curious, if anything, about their strange nature. For the moment, she ignored the pilot-other’s pleas to stay away, drowning out his plaintive voice with a wash of color-sound in their own intimate language. Almost playfully, she lingered in the celestial tides, watching the three newcomers. They were leviathan… almost. The space around them shimmered with the familiar and welcome aura given off by any biomech. That alone was enticing. But even as the trio neared, she could tell there was a bitter undercurrent. For nearly three cycles, she had been free of the hateful control collar and the dreadful pain it caused. It was only when the three biomechs were upon her that she recognized why they were different: Peacekeeper. 

# 

The three towering figures settled on the deck of the outer hanger. The rumble of their combined weight could be felt through floor, even at the distance of John’s hiding spot.  

John looked back up from the floor and craned his neck to see over the crate to D’Argo, crouched nearby. He snapped his fingers to get the Luxan’s attention. John whispered. “Have you ever seen anything like that before?” 

“They look like one of your rowboats.” D’Argo returned, obviously trying to needle him for a response. 

John rolled his eyes. “That’s ro-BOTS! Give it rest, huh?”  

He returned to studying the newcomers once again. These were no robots. Formed in a bi-pedal humanoid shape, that was as close to recognizable as they got. They brought to mind the exaggerated lines of animae and Saturday morning cartoons. Their oversized, enhanced upper arms and legs were attached to a mammoth body, covered with a sinewy texture that looked vaguely familiar. Atop of it sat a curved darkened dome that looked more like a visor than a face. John realized he could see the dim shape of something within. Is that a person? Suits. They look like armor. 

He spoke into his comms: “Pilot, have they responded at all?” 

“No, Commander. They are demonstrating biomechanoid life signatures on sensors.” The Navigator’s voice lowered in apology. “However, they are unlike anything Moya has ever seen.” 

So far they had not moved far from their spot. The one on the far right, seemed to waver uncertainly, as if it were injured or sick. It took a floundering step that rumbled the deck. A sickly metallic whine brought it swaying sideways to rest against one of its companions. John looked at the other two. They seemed to be testing, analyzing. The hairs rose on the back of John’s neck. They know we’re here. They’re waiting to see what we’re going to do.  

John absently scratched his chin on the edge of Winnona's thermal chamber. He looked over to D’Argo. “Let’s do the meet and greet.”  

D’Argo straightened, rising to his full height with the Qualta blade at the ready. John rounded the edge of the cargo container and stepped into stride alongside his comrade.  

There was a small movement from the one in the center. And the hangar became a brilliant chaos of light and sound. The subsequent shock wave thrust both men away from the partially open hatchway. With a tremendous groan Moya’s inner doors buckled under the energy weapon’s power. 

Sound. Light. The brief sensation of weightlessness. Pain. That was the order of the universe that John recalled before landing in a winded heap several feet away. Gasping for air to fill his emptied lunges, he opened his eyes and saw only darkness. An immediate panic set in. He reached out. His hands felt the hard, immoveable surface. The workbench? How the--? 

The darkness suddenly parted. D’Argo stared down at him, muscling the bench away. “Come on!” 

“Wha…wha what the hell was that!” John scrambled to his feet. 

“Energy cannon!” 

It was apparently not fast enough by Luxan standards. D’Argo yanked him along the deck by the collar of his vest. Still trying to please his offended lungs, John drew in a wheezing breath and immediately fell to a fit a fit of coughing. The smell of ozone and burnt leviathan stung at his nostrils and throat as they escaped the path of the intruders. 

D’Argo shoved him through the closing hatchway as a second blast obliterated the remaining section of the inner door. The two paused on the other side, leaning against Moya’s spines. 

“Pilot!” John panted. “Seal all the hatchways.” 

The squelch of static was their answer. Both men looked at each other and began moving in the direction of Pilot’s chamber. 

# 

“The intruders have sealed off all nine access ways to tier seven. Maintenance shafts three and six have been sealed as well on both the Hammond and treblin sides.” Pilot continued the litany of complaints over the uncertain flicker of the clamshell to the tense huddle of Moya’s occupants assembled in command. His massive head bowed slightly. “They are somehow jamming internal communications and sensory clusters. I am unable to link to any of the DRDs from rib eight forward.”  

John leaned against the edge of the strategy table, ignoring the image of Moya’s holoprojection, riddled with the red graphics to display her damage. His head bowed as he asked. “Have the internal sensors been able to locate Aeryn yet?” 

“We have tracked what I believe to be a Sebacean presence on tier seven.” Pilot’s expression brightened briefly and fell. “But I cannot be certain. Their jamming methodology is like nothing we have encountered before.”  

Chiana leaned back from her perch on the tabletop to regard the Navigator. “Pilot, what if we entered through the ion backwash chamber here in front of the starburst generator? We could easily make our way though the service tunnel.” She stood and pointed to the small translucent tube in the depths of Moya’s holoimage. 

“The passage is small but yes, you might be able to make it through.” 

“Me!” Chiana recoiled slightly. She canted her head, giving a sliver of a nervous smile. “What about the others? Like Ryge?” 

“Now see here.” Rygel harrumphed. “I am a Dominar. Not a maintenance drone—“ 

“Can it, Sparky.” John swatted at the diminutive despot.  

“It is only sixteen denches wide. You, Rygel and possibly Joolushka… with the proper force.”  

“Are you saying I’m fat!” Jool gained miraculous interest in the conversation. She sat up abruptly and placed her hands on her hips. “I will have you know that--” 

“Then prove it.” Chiana purred.  

Jool stammered. “Wait, that’s not what I mean! I can’t go in there with those… those things!” 

“Aeryn’s in there with those things.” John mimicked. Slowly he turned to look at her, his expression stony. “And she is gonna need our help!” 

John pushed away from the table and stalked closer to Jool who took several tremulous steps back in response. He cocked his head to the side. His tone became condescending. “The three of you will go and open the first hatchway on the Hammond side. You can let D’Argo and me in. And then you, Larry and Curly can go run and hide from Optimus Prime and his buds while D’Argo and I take care of them.” 

Jool had run out of deck in her slow retreat. She jumped slightly as her back collided with the edge of map table. 

“Is that clear, princess?” John asked in a very low, overtly patient voice. 

Swallowing, she nodded vehemently, her eyes wide with fear. 

“Thank you. So much.”  

Pilot’s weakened image reappeared in the clamshell viewer. “I am receiving a signal from Officer Sun!” 

# 

Aeryn pressed further into the recess of the spine, seeking cover. The chamber beyond, one of Moya’s amnexus bladders, was now the lair of the three invaders. Although the location seemed unlikely in terms of strategy, she was not about to make any risky moves in here. One blast from their energy cannons in this chamber could very well cause the demise of the leviathan. She frowned slightly, not understanding fully where that particular knowledge had originated, but feeling innately an urge to act to prevent it.  

With careful stealth, she advanced three spines, ducking behind the shadows of each in turn. She stopped when she heard strange sound echoing through the chamber. It took a moment to place. It was the sound of thick liquid striking Moya’s deck. Cautiously, Aeryn peered around the spine to glimpse the intruders.  

The scene was incredible. One of the large creatures was in a kneeling position. Its massive arms extended to touch the floor, supporting it. In a small cascade of thick fluid the humanoid form slithered from the open mouth of what Aeryn had assumed was a head. In the dim light the bluish glow of the amnexus fluid glistened on the nude wet form of the occupant. Slack jawed, she watched as the smaller being moved down from the large machine using one of its well-armored arms as a step.   

Sebacean! They were Sebaceans inside the suits, Aeryn realized, watching the man quickly scan the area for any threat. As he moved, she noticed a heavy dark discoloration on his back. He turned and she glimpsed its raised profile. It appeared to be more organic, like a growth. The mass on his back resembled a splayed hand with five digits. The largest point disappeared under the familiar tightly wrapped talus. Two digits wrapped around his neck in a restrictive gesture. The final two tendrils angled downward and entered his flesh just below the shoulder blades. Whatever this was, the mass seemed to be grown into his flesh, part of him. Unconsciously, Aeryn flexed her right hand. Sometimes the skin still tingled there, especially when she was near Pilot’s console. It was as if her body could sometimes remember its transformation into a Pilot. She shook her head, warding off the distracting thought. 

Aeryn withdrew fully into the shadows, trying to make sense of this new and strange information. As a cadet, she had heard horror stories of Peacekeeper NeuTech. Their experiments sought to master biomech technology through genetic experimentation. But this, this was far different. These suits appeared to be living things controlled by a joined Peacekeeper inside.  

Whatever curiosity had been evoked quickly disappeared beneath the cold sureness on which she had always thrived. The suit’s pilot was vulnerable now. She checked her pulse gun. It might be useless against the armor. But a naked man could be left a burnt smear on the deck plates of Moya.  

“No, Rayne, the floor is not so cold.”  

Aeryn startled slightly at the unfamiliar voice. His accent removed all doubt that he was a Peacekeeper. But it was the fact that she heard no other speakers in the conversation that made her pause. His moves were nonchalant, well practiced, as if he had every right to be there on Moya. Aeryn felt a flicker of irrational anger. The man removed a bag from the open blast shield and pulled out what looked to be technician’s utilities and dressed quickly.  

“Lenis, you watch over her… I will be back ten microts.” 

He paused briefly to kneel down and touch the blast shield of the prone biomech. The seemingly affectionate action in itself was a direct contrast to the path of destruction they had cut through Moya. The young man straightened and hurried to the access way at the far end of the passage. 

Aeryn strafed back from her position, keeping tabs on the two remaining biomechs as she tracked the other. The largest of the biomechs, the one she heard him call ‘Lenis’, remained motionless as he stood sentry. She darted to the alternate end of the access shaft and paused long enough to open her comms. “Pilot, I want you to shut down the central amnexus conduit.” 

“Officer Sun… what is your position. I am having difficulty--” Pilot returned. The obvious relief in the navigator’s voice was nearly gratifying. 

“Pilot. There is no time. I am unharmed. Do as I say.” She kept her gaze riveted on the two biomechs. 

“Aeryn, are you OK? Where are you? We are heading there now.” John’s voice filled the channel. His questions drowned out Pilot’s response. She cringed. His voice seemed overly loud in the chamber.  

“Pilot, do as I say now.” Her voice was ice. 

“Shutting down primary conduits now!”  

“Goddamnit, Aeryn. Talk --.” Aeryn shut the coms. Typical human. Typical John. She abruptly ended the path of her thoughts. The loss and hurt was still so very new, so fresh. Now was not the time.  

Aeryn leaned against the rigged edge of the conduit wall, pulling the pulse rifle up at the ready. The intruder’s sounds were closer, just around the corner. She drew in breath and pivoted out in the open. There was a clear view of the intruder’s back. He was at the consol that controlled the amnexus manifold.  

“On the ground now!” She bellowed.  

His reaction was a sudden straightening of the shoulders. He turned in profile, an odd smirk on his mouth. 

“I said now!” Aeryn prodded.  

He drew his hands up, slowly, his movements insolent as he turned to face her. Aeryn was stunned. He was no more than a child, barely eighteen cycles. Dirty blonde hair was plastered to his scalp, still wet. The utilities hung on his body. His appearance looked sickly and worn. But there was icy glint in his eyes; the arrogant cant to the head bespoke a dangerous vengeful pride. Even if he did not possess the wisdom of age, there was a rage within him that was far more threatening than any combat skills.  

“Name. Rank. Regiment.” 

# 

Kael did nothing to hide the growing smirk. He had been expecting one of the ship’s occupants to try to intervene at some point, but not with such stealth. The woman had honestly taken him unawares. It made him anxious, a sensation that he hated. The sarcastic sneer grew, an odd habit that had become a type of reflex for him under such situations. Regardless, it was a saving grace, often giving him the appearance of more empowerment than he truly possessed.  

He looked the woman up and down, making his inspection obvious. The expression in her steely gaze did not change. She was older and possessed the temperament to go with it. Although she was not dressed in uniform, everything about her presence nearly screamed of a Peacekeeper’s training and discipline. Her features were unscarred by combat, but the azure eyes bespoke the beleaguered quality of the hunted. Deserter. 

When they first heard/sensed the Leviathan, to Kael it was apparent this was an escaped vessel. The boreholes of the absent control collar told him as much. The stories of escaped biomechs were rare, but they did happen. However, it did not occur to him why a Peacekeeper would remain aboard one. Leviathans, by their very nature were other and considered alien and unclean. They were tools and nothing more. The moment a Peacekeeper could return to a normal hetch drive ship was never too soon.  

Yet you find yourself merged forever to one? No not now.... He took a deep breath and pushed the same old argument away. 

“Shall I repeat myself?” The woman prodded, raising the rifle. It was steady. Her voice held no shimmer of fear. 

“Lieutenant Kael Hedas. Special Ops. Mikzan regiment.” He said. His own voice, heard out loud seemed so strange to him. There was a nearly wet, thick quality to it, as if the vocal chords, by their own disuse were dissolving. The familiar panic threatened and he squelched the thought. Kael drew in another deep breath, ignoring the wet rattle, and sought the strength that came from the bond with the others. He pushed out with his mind to Lenis and Rayne, opening this conversation to them. The color-sound of their thoughts was always there. It had been a part of his life for so long, he could not recall how it was before.

“On the floor,” she gave a small cold smile. A feigned deference entered her voice. “Lieutenant Hedas.”  

Whatisitkael?Didyoufindit?ImworriedaboutRayneshedoesn’tlookgood. Lenis was the first to respond. His voice was nearly thunderous in Kael’s mind. 

Quietlenislistenandbeready Kael fought back the wave of vertigo that threatened. Distantly he felt the warm trickle of blood across his lip as his nose began to bleed.

Kael squinted slightly as he chose his words carefully. “I would be careful, deserter, my friends might hear you and come crashing through that wall.”  

Beready 

Okkaelreadywhateveryousaybutidontwanttohurtnobody  

He looked from her to the wall that separated them from his rig and his companions. But the woman would not be distracted. Her eyes remained locked on him. Perhaps that was just as good. 

“Now!” Kael commanded. He dove behind the large organic ribs that lined the far wall. The woman squeezed off three shots. The first struck his forearm before he reached cover. The second went wide as the opposite wall caved inwards onto the unsuspecting deserter. Her third shot was at the wall plate as it descended on her.  

Kael was for the moment ignorant of the pain in his arm. He watched as Lenis collapsed the wall inward. The biomech slowly straightened and moved over to the carnage. The woman was effectively trapped within a slender space between the fallen wall and the floor. The right claw of Lenis’s suit held the panel’s full weight from crushing their would be captor. 

He strode around the fallen wall and stood before the biomech. He patted Lenis’s blast shield. “Good job, Lenis, good job!” 

“I didn’t hurt her, did I?” Lenis’s voice sounded in his head and echoed in the chamber. There was a childlike quiver to his breathing. “Is she ok?”  

“She is uninjured.” Kael rested on his haunches to peer beneath the wall. Remarkably the woman was already beginning to struggle, trying to wriggle an escape out of the improvised prison. He straightened, pulling the pulse rifle out of her reach. “Go back and watch Rayne.”  

With syncope of metallic whining, the mammoth biomech backed out of the gaping hole, dragging the section of wall with it. Lenis’s nervous prattle continued. Ihopeididnthurttheshipnoneeither.  

Kael cradled the rifle across the crook of his arm as he stepped closer to the woman. The dark hair had fallen from the neat plait. Panting, she drew herself up against the wall. 

“Lenis is a master of the Caedas Armor. He’s the only one I know who could tear apart this ship and not kill a single occupant.” He glanced back at Lenis’s rig. He was hunched down slightly in the lower corner of the corridor beyond, obviously engaged in a conversation with Rayne. Kael once more regarded his prisoner. “You should consider yourself lucky.” 

“Yes.” She winced, testing her battered limbs carefully as she stood. Her voice was flat with sarcasm. “That’s the first thought I have.”  

He stepped back, turning the rifle onto her. “Now…my turn. Rank and regiment.” 

“Officer Aeryn Sun, Pleisar regiment. Neutech. Coded program Velka one.” She favored her right foot but, at his notice, she placed her weight on it. The slightest flash of pain came to her face. 

“I see… On board an escaped Leviathan?” Kael smiled slightly, amused. “You’re lying.”  

The warm trickle down his arm distracted him. He lowered his gun as he realized he was bleeding. Astonished he looked at the scorched arm of his jumpsuit. It was now maroon with his blood. Again the panic set in. He only vaguely remembered being hit. 

Sun tilted her head. “I see, and if you were from high command you would know who I am and what I am doing out here!” She smiled as if imbued with some secret knowledge. “And yet, Lieutenant, you don’t… Do you?” 

Kael felt the sneer return to his face. Things were getting far too complicated much too quickly. They had done six grab and dart missions on five leviathans and one mammoth Daedalus Biomech. What had started as a simple retrieval of materials was now out of hand. He looked at his bloody arm. He had never been hit before. The pain was manageable, dampened by the harness connected to his spine, but the sight of the injury drove a wedge of nausea through his stomach. 

He stared at Sun as he spoke. “Lenis, come here!”  

With strides that trembled the deck, the biomech returned to the opening in the wall. “Kael, can I get out now?” 

Kael watched Sun, gauging her reaction. She had no doubt heard the simple nature of Lenis’s voice and saw an opportunity in it. He moved close, pointing the weapon at her head. “Careful, Officer Sun, first impressions of my friend are always deceiving.” 

“Lenis, take our new friend out to meet Rayne. And make sure you keep an eye on her.” He regarded Sun once more. “She is most dangerous.”  

“OK, Kael.” Lenis rotated to face the peacekeeper and swiftly captured one of her wrists with his massive hands. She struggled slightly under the power of the huge hand that encompassed her entire forearm. 

With an eerie grace, Lenis turned and walked back out though the hole, pulling Sun next to him. “I am glad I didn’t hurt you. I hope your leviathan is going to be ok.” 

Sun did not respond at first still struggling from his grip. “Moya will be fine.” She stopped. It was obvious that there was no way to break his grasp. 

“Moya! I like that name.”  

Kael mentally returned to the reason they were here…the amnexus fluid. He opened the port on one of the large conduits. The cavity within was empty.  

“Nothing! What the frell!” He turned to the bypass systems. “Empty as well. How could the ship function without amnexus fluid?”  

He looked back at the silent Peacekeeper. She was stretching as far in Lenis’s grasp as she could, straining to see inside the empty shell of Kael’s rig. He felt an odd surge of protectiveness, of possession and being possessed. Although they were words he would deny the balance of his life, every absence from it was saturated with a longing to return. He loathed it as well. 

He felt the uncertainty threaten his control. If the others knew how scared he was…  He looked down at his aching arm. The neural interface was doing its job. It blocked the pain, but he would have to stop the bleeding. Kael had time. He knew once he was back, bonded with his rig, that it would take care of him. He turned to the amnexus manifold and started following it back through the narrow passage that ran next to it. It was dark. How he had learned to hate the dark. 

# 

Aeryn craned her neck to see around Lenis’s bulky frame. The other biomech must have been injured, but there were no outward signs of injury. There was occasional movement from it, but nothing more. She turned her attention back to Lenis. “What is your name?” 

“Me? I am Lenis.” The huge Biomech turned to face her. It made little sound when it moved yet she could sense its strength and agility. The man inside was as great a paradox. Although he was obviously adult, he spoke with the simplistic tone of a child. “Don’t think by talking to me I will let you go.”  

“No, Lenis, I am sure you would crush me in a microt.” Aeryn stood on tip-toe, trying to peer into the large flat blast shield that covered the operator.  

There was an odd sway to the beast. “No, I would never do that…” The huge machine crouched to be face to face with her. “Never!” 

“Careful, Lenis, remember what I told you.”  

This was a new voice Aeryn had not heard before. She shifted. She assumed that the one prone on the floor spoke, but it was difficult to tell. The vaguely feminine voice was weak, but stern.  

“Lenis, where are you from?” Aeryn tilted her head and forced a small smile. “I mean I assume you are Peacekeeper, are you not?” 

The giant’s voice became stern “Not talking about that!”  

“I see…” With her free hand she touched the hard yet warm surface of her captor’s biomech hand. “These suits… what did Kael call them? Caedas Armor? They are like Moya, correct?”   

Caedes was the name of a mythical band of titans, giant ferocious beings that roamed the universe, eating stars and forming new planets. Their story, since passed into tattered memory.

“Yes, the rigs are the same, grown the same too.” The small inflection of pride was apparent in Lenis’s response. 

“Lenis!”  This time anger was plain in the small voice. The smallest of the three biomech suits moved to all fours and its blast shield lowered. 

Aeryn watched as the same translucent liquid poured from the open seal. Just like with Kael, she could see a woman’s head move forward. But now at a closer view she saw her retch the same thick liquid. Aeryn watched the curious birth as the occupant pulled herself slowly from the beast.  

Rayne was a slight woman of no more the sixteen years. By her stature, Aeryn knew immediately she was a tech. Thin long features, yet a short stature. The star shaped biomech growth on her back was huge. It was obvious that what ever that interface was it came in only one size, for where its tendrils ended on the sides of Kael’s neck, hers wrapped all the way around to the front. And the lower two on her back could be seen diving deep into her lower back. Whatever they were, they looked painful. 

The woman did not look at Aeryn till she had completely dressed. She approached wearing the same nondescript tech clothing that Kael had. She moved over next to Lenis and patted him on the side of his arm. “Careful, Lenis, this is a tricky one.” 

She seemed weak. Her eyes were sunken in her head and had dark circles under them.  

“I was merely trying to…” 

“Trying to get information from what you deem as an easy target?” She hugged the Biomech’s massive arm. “I can say one thing, Peacekeeper, you are consistent.” 

“I see… and coming from a tech, am I suppose to take that as an insult?” Aeryn’s tone was biting and she knew immediately that her reaction was a tactical error. 

She had no time to react as Lenis picked her off the ground. He stood fully erect. The top of his suit scratched at the ceiling of the tier. In the explosion of movement he knocked the tech away to his side. The young woman was instantly dashed to the deck and lay motionless. But this went unnoticed by Lenis. His full damning attention was riveted to Aeryn.  

In one simple, effortless move, he raised the hand that held her captive. She could hear an animalistic growl emanating from the man within the armor. Helpless, Aeryn hung from his grasp before the blast shield, like an insect under inspection.  

“You will speak nice to Rayne!” Lenis raised his other hand and jabbed her in the ribs. The pain brought brilliant white orbs into her field of vision. “Do you understand me!”  

Aeryn could only stare at her captor, unsure of the strange voice that came from Lenis now. Was this even the same man? Gone was the childlike singsong, replaced by the strong steady tone of a commando.  

She knew she had taken a misstep. Kael, for his posturing, had been honest in his depiction of Lenis. Now she suffered for dismissing his warning. Desperately, she tried to swing her free hand to grab hold of the monstrous grip that held her. Something had to be done soon to relieve the stress on the one locked in Lenis harsh grasp or she felt it would be ripped free of its socket. That was when she spotted the prone form of Rayne, sprawled on the deck. She bit back a groan of pain and yelled to the enraged biomech. “Lenis look! Look at what you have done! You’ve hurt your friend! Haven’t you?!” 

Lenis turned slightly and saw Rayne. The young woman stirred slightly.  

"Rayne!" He screamed. His voice became the piteous howl of the frightened child. "No Rayne! Rayne, I’m so sorry!" 

His attention fully on his downed companion, Lenis released Aeryn. She was still a meter off the deck and hit hard. For a moment, she rolled on the ground, staving off a wave of drowning pain. She hissed beneath her breath. What she thought were bruised ribs were far worse.  

As she stared, panting up at the ceiling, she heard the sounds of Lenis’s suit opening. She choked back a bitter laugh. Her manipulation had gotten her what she wanted, but now her injuries were so severe, there was little chance she would be able to make use of the opportunity to escape.  

Aeryn rolled to her side. Cautiously she struggled to her hands and knees, keeping close to the floor and using the bulk of Kael’s empty suit to hide. There were the now familiar liquid sounds of gagging, but tapering off into Lenis’s vicious sobbing. He was obvious free of the suit, but she did not spare the time to look back. She had to move fast. 

As soon as she felt she was a safe distance from the two, Aeryn pulled herself to her feet. Grunting with pain, she staggered out of the chamber, moving as fast as the pain would allow. Her side was red-hot agony. It was as if someone had opened her chest there and poured hot coals inside. Her ankle sent a nearly electric jolt of pain up her leg with each step. But still she pressed on, moving at a shambling pace, wary for the rumble of the deck that would tell her one of the biomech monsters was in pursuit. 

Every hatchway she came to had been sealed by Keal. A heavy fist mark in the same location of every hatchway at the upper pivot made them impossible to open. This route was blocked. There was no way to get to Command or the upper chambers.  

Uttering a small string of curses, Aeryn doubled back to the hanger. With every breath the fire in her chest worsened. With each step, the agony in her leg grew. Her journey through the chaos of tier seven ended in the shambles that was once the maintenance bay.  

A frantic search of the bay turned up nothing of use. No weapons. No tools.  

“Nothing… frell!” She spat in a quivering voice, cut short by the sharp pain from her injured side. Leaning heavily against the remains of the workbench, she took in the rest of the hangar. D’Argo’s ship was a large shadowed shape in the corner of the space. She glimpsed the shimmer of its field generator, always active to deter Chiana and Rygel from boarding her. With even less hope, she looked at the sloped white frame of John’s ship. It was as useless as its design. For what was not the first time, she felt the silent pang at the loss of her prowler.  

Again, a curse gathered at the back of her throat. But she paused. Something caught her attention. The rectangular black box was mounted to the wall beyond John’s module. Its sharp unyielding shape stuck out in diverse contrast to Moya’s curving organics. The simple markings on the medkit’s lid were covered by a layer of dust: the red dart penetrating the familiar black and white of a Peacekeeper symbol. She pulled the box from its anchors. It was heavier than it looked, made up of denser metal. She dared not bend down to survey its contents. Instead she brought it back to the scorched wing of John’s module and cracked its seal.  

Aeryn rummaged though the kit: A kill shot, the amber liquid inside having dried to a powder with age. Portable suture unit. Anti-virals. She seized on the last object eagerly. It was a vial of Neurtox.  

“Frell!” She spat. Its seal indicated it was well over two cycles out of date. Desperation warring with better judgment, she fought hard to recall her brief round of field medicine training. Stims were highly addictive. But their danger increased with age. She looked around at the shambles of the hanger bay. Aeryn righted herself against the wing of the module. The brief flash of pain from placing weight on her injured ankle was enough to make a swarm of white dots flash before her eyes.  

First rule: a solder must survive! Aeryn knew she was at a tactical disadvantage even without the broken ribs. She could not count on the others to come to her aid. Without further thought she shoved the vial in the back of the injector and placed its end against her thigh. She drew in a deep breath and then depressed the plunger. 

Aeryn had never used Neurtox. She was unsure what the reaction would be like. Nothing? Suddenly she felt the restrictive pain in her chest loosen under a seeping tide of warmth. A thin glaze of perspiration broke out over her skin. A curious tingling sensation spread along her arms and legs to finally collect along her scalp. The pain was gone! 

Drawing in grateful gulps of air, she turned to regard the hangar. It was as if she had never seen this room before. Where once existed dull grays, now thrived a variable riot of colors. It was as if she could almost feel Moya alive around her. Mood almost giddy, she stepped back from the Med Kit and stumbled slightly. She watched as the kit slipped from the wing and fell to the deck at an impossibly slow pace. It was as if time were slowed. The giddiness disappeared, leaving her with sharper senses then she could ever recall. She bent at the waist, testing the confines of her miraculous recovery. There was no pain, only a strange cool pinching feeling that stopped as soon as she righted her frame. She twisted slightly. Again there was only the same odd coolness from her ribs. Suddenly, Aeryn tensed, falling into a ready crouch without a thought. The faint vibration to the floor. The lights shivered with the rhythm of a giant’s footfalls. One of the biomechs was coming this way. A rush of excitement came to her as she searched for anything she could use as a weapon. 

End of Part One

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