Author: SETI_fan Please send feedback to scifibard@yahoo.com 
Rating: PG, for language and violence
Category: Drama/Action Adventure
Notes: I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my beta-reader, unohoo. Without her continued help, this fic would have died. Another huge thank you goes out to AmyJ for taking the time to help me with my story. You girls are the best!
Summary: When Aeryn and John rescue a child from Crais’ Command Carrier, Aeryn flashes back to her days as a Cadet. 
Spoilers None I can think of
Season: Season 1, probably post-“The Flax”
Parts: 12  |  3  |  4 | 5

Part IV

Aeryn paced her cell, well aware that there were no undiscovered weaknesses in the walls, but lacking any better way to pass her time. Footsteps alerted her to a PeaceKeeper’s approach. She ceased her search and stood to face whoever should come. 

She knew by the lack of military cadence in the footsteps that the medtech Ixol had summoned was on its way. Relaxing, she turned her attention back to her situation. There would be no redemption from her former shipmates. At least, not now. 

Instead, it was Gheris who came to a halt outside her cell and crouched beside the victim. She regarded the ruins of the man’s head and the bruise on Aeryn’s jaw. “Looks like they let you off easy.” 

“For now,” Aeryn replied, sitting back down on her narrow cot. 

Gheris nodded. “I trust they’ll be back to give you what you deserve.” 

Aeryn said nothing. There was no reply to that. 

In the tense silence, Gheris bent to prepare the soldier’s corpse to be transported to the morgue. As she closed up her medkit, a small shiny object fell and slid into Aeryn’s cell. Gheris took no notice. “I’ll return with a team to collect the body.” She looked at Aeryn with a strange intensity to her gaze. “You’d better hope there’s someone on this ship who cares enough to save you from Crais’ justice,” she said, then turned and left. 

It troubled Aeryn a little that her thoughts immediately went to Crichton. He had saved her before, no doubt, but she knew that he was in over his head here. Crais would not let him escape easily, and unless she got out of this cell, he would be lucky to survive the weeken. 

Aeryn glanced at the corpse outside that was only microts ago a loyal officer. This had been her life, another body in the fight for PeaceKeeper ambition. Another victim of a PeaceKeeper’s vengeance, and so was John. And so was Neesha. 

“Sun?” a voice called. 

She started, rising to her feet. She realized belatedly that the object in her cell was a comm. 

“Can you hear me? Sun?”

She picked it up warily. That was Gheris’ voice, but the situation stunk of trickery. Still, there was nothing to lose. “Gheris?” 

“Keep quiet. This child is aboard your Leviathan?” 

Aeryn paused. “You said there was nothing you could do.” 

“Let me worry about that. Now, stay put. Try to escape and you will be killed.” 

With that, the comm cut off. Aeryn stared at it, her stomach twisting. This distraction had turned out of control. She only hoped that Moya had been able to StarBurst to safety. 

Frustrated, she pitched the comm against a wall, smashing it with a small electronic screech. Frell Gheris’ warnings. She wasn’t about to be responsible for the destruction of her new unit the way she was for her last. 

She glared at the twisted metal of the comm as she considered her options and an idea brewed. Picking carefully through the pile of shards, she selected a few thin, sharp-edged lancelets. Deftly, she pried at the lock, sliding the chips in certain seams and typed in a random code. The lock sparked and shorted and the door slid open. An alarm screamed for help. Aeryn grabbed a dagger from the corpse beside her and took out the camera across the way. It was too late to prevent the guards from coming, but she wasn’t going to give them any advantages. 

Taking the dagger and pistol from the late officer, she darted down the corridor. The racket of the alarm had set off a cacophony of hoots and roars from the various alien prisoners in the other cells, their translator microbes removed to demean them further. She paid them no mind as they lunged at their doors and shouted propositions at her. 

Once in the main corridors, Aeryn, glad to leave the barbaric gulag behind her, held glanced around for those who would pursue her. Her flight suit would prevent her from blending in with the constant swarm of techs, but she hoped she could at least keep her head low and slip through. It worked for two corridors before a bellow drowned out the crowd. 

“Traitor! Halt where you are!” 

Aeryn fought her instinct to obey and started shoving her way past the techs. She heard the pursuit and the techs cleared a path to her, no one wanting to interfere and put their own lives at risk for her sake. *Is every tech smarter than me?* Aeryn wondered briefly. 

She rounded a corner straight into another unit. She sent off a few shots but quickly knew she had no where to flee to. Utterly surrounded, she finally dropped her pistol and put her arms behind her head. 

The soldiers moved in, smugly. The leader was about to speak when he jerked suddenly and fell unconscious. The man behind him was a blur of motion, taking out her bewildered attackers in a few microts. Panting, he stood calmly amongst the fallen PeaceKeepers. The techs resumed their business, trying watch without being obvious. 

Aeryn dropped her arms, looking up with cautious relief. “Ixol, I—“ 

“I’m not Ixol.” 

Aeryn finally looked clearly at the man. He was certainly broader than Ixol and had graying hair, a rare trait among PeaceKeepers who rarely saw the end of their natural lifespan. He was scarred, but only slightly, and wore no rank. “Instructor,” she murmured in awe. 

He walked towards her, as if to greet her, and held out a pair of handcuffs. “Put these on.” 

She frowned. “Sir?” 

“Put them on and keep your head down, Sun.” 

Dismayed, she allowed him to lock the cuffs over her forearms and lowered her head. He pulled his pistol and held it at her back. “Now march, soldier.” 

He led her forward past the forms of the second unit she had encountered. But instead of continuing down the main corridors, he turned her down a side passage used only for repairs to the circuitry. Her heart chilled as she feared what purpose the older man might have for her. 

“We’re clear,” the Instructor called as they stopped in the shadows. 

To Aeryn’s surprise, Gheris stepped forward. “You couldn’t listen to me, could you?” she asked, annoyed. Turning to the man restraining her, Gheris said, “I have secured her Prowler. We will have to reach the docking bay on our own though.” 

He nodded. “It can be done.” 

Aeryn pulled away from the Instructor and looked back and forth between them. “What is going on? Where are you taking me?” 

“We are going to your Leviathan,” Gheris explained. “I will explain later. We have little time and fewer guarantees that this will work. It’s likely Crais knows you have escaped.” 

“If he cares about anything beyond the Human,” the Instructor snorted. 

“Have you released Crichton?” Aeryn asked, still stunned. 

They stared at her. “You’re frelling me,” Gheris said. “Do you know how hard it was to arrange your escape? The Human is Crais’ main prisoner!” 

“I’m not going to abandon him,” she retorted, “even if I have to save his eema myself.” 

Gheris rubbed her forehead in utter frustration. The Instructor however simply passed a pistol to her. “Get to the Prowler. I’ll go after him.” 

“But, sir, how am I supposed to get past the officers after Sun?” 

“If they threaten you, tell them I authorized this. If they persist, shoot them.” 

She gulped but nodded. The man turned to Aeryn. “Get out of here, Sun. I’ll take care of things here. And see that Gheris gets out safely.” He saluted. She responded in kind, unsure what else to do. Her former teacher jogged away to violate his captain’s orders. 

“Come on.” Gheris grabbed Aeryn’s arm above the cuffs and shoved her forward. “Just keep looking like a captive, but be ready to fight.” 

They hurried towards the docking bay, speeded by the clearing of the frightened Techs from the corridors. It looked like they might make it until they reached the door to the bay. An armed quartet awaited them. 

“Halt!” the ranking officer yelled. “What are you doing with the prisoner?!” 

“Instructor Proxin told me to bring her here.” 

“Proxin does not have the authorization to release a prisoner, even if it was one of his trainees. Drop your weapon and we will escort her back to the prison. Return to your duties, Tech.” 

Gheris met Aeryn’s eyes and they both whipped out their pistols. The medtech’s aim was atrocious, but Aeryn more than made up for it. She pushed Gheris behind a strut in the wall to protect her from most of the weapons fire. Two soldiers went down in the first shots. A third managed to get off several shots, one of which grazed Aeryn’s left arm. She winced, but took him out. The fourth was no fool. He took off running the opposite direction, abandoning the door completely. Aeryn shook her head. “Gheris, the door.” 

The Tech came out and keyed the stolen code into the panel. As Aeryn brushed past her into the bay, Gheris looked at her bleeding bicep. “I can heal that for you.” 

“Later. How long till the Instructor returns with Crichton?” 

“It better be within the next eighth of an arn,” Gheris replied. “Otherwise, we leave without them.” 

Aeryn glared at her for a few microts. “What are you doing here anyway?” 

“I’m going to look at your child and see what I can do. I assume this girl is your daughter?” 

Aeryn balked. “I have no children. I… found the girl and wanted to do what I could.” 

Gheris arched her eyebrow. “You’re really dedicated to this project. I see I’ve made the right choice.” 

“I assume you have a plan for your return here?” Aeryn asked, not catching the last statement’s significance. 

“I’m not returning,” Gheris said softly. “Not without a cure.” 

Aeryn gaped. “Gheris, don’t do this. You have no idea what it’s like to be cast out. You shouldn’t choose this.” 

“I can’t stay here, Sun. I will not see another child die while I do nothing. Proxin feels the same.” 

“Is he coming too?” Aeryn asked. 

“I don’t know.” She looked up. “Look, we have a few microts. At least let me stop the bleeding.” 

Aeryn surrendered her arm to Gheris’ gentle ministrations, her mind swirling through the revelations of the past arn. As she watched the door for John, she tried to decide whether she hoped that Moya remained outside, or that she had StarBurst to safety, and hoped that Neesha could hold out long enough either way. 

End Part Four

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