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.
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.
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.”
now,” Aeryn replied, sitting back down on her narrow cot.
nodded. “I trust they’ll be back to give you what you deserve.”
said nothing. There was no reply to that.
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.
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.
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.
a voice called.
started, rising to her feet. She realized belatedly that the object in her
cell was a comm.
you hear me? Sun?”
picked it up warily. That was Gheris’ voice, but the situation stunk of
trickery. Still, there was nothing to lose. “Gheris?”
quiet. This child is aboard your Leviathan?”
paused. “You said there was nothing you could do.”
me worry about that. Now, stay put. Try to escape and you will be
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Halt where you are!”
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.
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.
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.
dropped her arms, looking up with cautious relief. “Ixol, I—“
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.
walked towards her, as if to greet her, and held out a pair of handcuffs.
“Put these on.”
them on and keep your head down, Sun.”
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.”
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.
clear,” the Instructor called as they stopped in the shadows.
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.”
nodded. “It can be done.”
pulled away from the Instructor and looked back and forth between them.
“What is going on? Where are you taking me?”
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.”
he cares about anything beyond the Human,” the Instructor snorted.
you released Crichton?” Aeryn asked, still stunned.
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
not going to abandon him,” she retorted, “even if I have to save his
rubbed her forehead in utter frustration. The Instructor however simply
passed a pistol to her. “Get to the Prowler. I’ll go after him.”
sir, how am I supposed to get past the officers after Sun?”
they threaten you, tell them I authorized this. If they persist, shoot
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.
on.” Gheris grabbed Aeryn’s arm above the cuffs and shoved her
forward. “Just keep looking like a captive, but be ready to fight.”
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.
the ranking officer yelled. “What are you doing with the prisoner?!”
Proxin told me to bring her here.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
How long till the Instructor returns with Crichton?”
better be within the next eighth of an arn,” Gheris replied.
“Otherwise, we leave without them.”
glared at her for a few microts. “What are you doing here anyway?”
going to look at your child and see what I can do. I assume this girl is
balked. “I have no children. I… found the girl and wanted to do what I
arched her eyebrow. “You’re really dedicated to this project. I see
I’ve made the right choice.”
assume you have a plan for your return here?” Aeryn asked, not catching
the last statement’s significance.
not returning,” Gheris said softly. “Not without a cure.”
gaped. “Gheris, don’t do this. You have no idea what it’s like to be
cast out. You shouldn’t choose this.”
can’t stay here, Sun. I will not see another child die while I do
nothing. Proxin feels the same.”
he coming too?” Aeryn asked.
don’t know.” She looked up. “Look, we have a few microts. At least
let me stop the bleeding.”
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.