Author: SETI_fan Please send feedback to scifibard@yahoo.com 
Rating: PG, for language
Category: Drama/Action Adventure
Notes: Special thanks to everyone at Kansas who encouraged me to finish this story! And many thanks, as always, to AmyJ for her help and wonderful illustrations.
Summary: During a supply run on a seemingly abandoned planet, Aeryn's Pilot DNA begins to resurface mysteriously. While she deals with the mutations, John returns to NamTar's lab to get the cure, D'Argo seeks the cause, and Pilot begins acting strangely...
Spoilers Up to Twice Shy, especially for DNA Mad Scientist
Season: AU Season 4, when J/A are hiding their love
Parts: 1 2  |  3  |  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

Part III

Blue light poured in the windows, casting the Transport Pod’s passengers in an electric monochrome. Outside, the wormhole’s walls pulsed like a lava lamp. 

Scorpius leaned over John’s shoulder, gawking like a country boy in Vegas. “Fascinating.” 

“You wanna back on up there, Scorp?” John gritted. He hated driving ships other than his module through difficult circumstances, and an untamed wormhole was the mother of all difficult circumstances. “Kinda need to focus here.” 

“Yeah,” Chiana said, leaning over and pushing Scorpius back into his seat in the rear of the cabin. “Don’t distract him unless you want to end up splatted on the walls—” 

“Applies to you too, Pip,” John spared her. 

Stung, Chiana turned to snap off some little comment, but was smart enough to shut herself up. They rode in silence as John followed an invisible path through the wormholes. Just as the passengers began to settle in, John jerked the Pod Hammond with “Whoops!” as their only warning. The Pod barrel-rolled and was expelled into the void of existence. 

As they decelerated, Chiana rubbed her neck. “Nice ride, John.” 

“Sorry. They don’t label those exit ramps well. It’s like driving in Detroit. Now, let’s be sure this worked.”  

He skimmed the area with the scanners. No immediate danger, for once. The area looked familiar enough. Pilot would have been better able to confirm that, but John trusted his ability with landmarks. “Looks like we nailed the where. I wonder about the when.” 

“So long as this Tech has a cure for Aeryn, it could be the frelling Rock Age for all I care,” Chiana said. 

“Stone Age,” John corrected absently. 

“You Humans had one, too?” Chiana smiled. 

John threw aside the anthropological discussion for the time being. “Right. Now the Star Charts say Kornata’s is just over—” 

He jerked back in his seat as a huge mass filled the viewscreen. A ship three times their size zoomed past, a strut on the rear nearly clipping the little Pod. 

“Whoa!” John cried, grabbing the controls. “Get his license number!” 

“That’s a Sheyang freighter,” Scorpius observed. 

“Great. What do they want?” 

“Apparently not us,” Chiana said. “It kept going.” 

“A hit-and-run?” John asked. “Huh. He’s going our way. Hope Kornata hasn’t made some new enemies since we left.” 

They followed the larger vessel, keeping a low profile. Coming over a large asteroid, they beheld a bustling metropolis. What John barely recognized as NamTar’s asteroid laboratory sparkled with lights in the dark of space. The imbedded skeleton remained, but seemed less ominous, overshadowed by urban sprawl. A constant influx of ships came and went from the planetoid systolically. Distantly, the Sheyang freighter fell in behind a nasty-looking Zenetan craft and joined the flow. Small one-man ships flitted about, keeping ships in line. 

“Looks like the right place,” John said, “but this is not what I remember. This place was a dive when we were here.” 

“I thought you were aware,” Scorpius piped up. “Kornata came onto our radar over two cycles ago. She is the premier commercial geneticist in this half of the galaxy.” 

He cast his eyes upon the seemingly endless queue of ships stretching before them. 

“We, ah, may have a bit of a wait.” 

# 

As D’Argo approached Aeryn’s quarters, he picked up the raised voices of an argument. Noranti stood outside the door, speaking loudly to the privacy blanket. A bowl steamed in her hand, a stalk of vegetation and what could have been bread with a bit more effort protruded over one edge. 

“Your body needs all the energy it can get!” 

“And I appreciate your concern,” Aeryn called back, “but I’m really not hungry.” 

Noranti took a breath to reply and noticed D’Argo. A crafty grin came over her face. “Stubborn girl!” she muttered sotto voce. “Fine! Have it your way!” 

She strode down the tier, catching D’Argo’s arm as she went by. “Get her to eat something,” she ordered quietly, thrusting the greasy bowl into his hands. “She’ll listen to you.” With that, the old woman bustled off to wherever she spent her time. 

D’Argo stared down at the stew-like mush, sniffed it, and recoiled with a growl. A drannit would snub the concoction. Setting the bowl by the door, he called, “Aeryn?” 

“I’m not going to eat it, D’Argo.” 

“That’s wise, but I just came to ask you something. May I come in?” 

There was a hesitation and a shuffling like furniture moving. “Um, I’d rather you didn’t.” 

D’Argo looked down, regretting that fatal muscle spasm. “Aeryn, I—” 

“I know,” she answered quietly. “What do you need?” 

“When we were on the planet, did you notice anything that would have caused this?” 

The blanket pulled aside and Aeryn peered out at him. The alien skin had climbed a little closer to her cheekbone, and wrapped her forearm like a gauntlet. The other arm was pressed around her waist. Her eyes met his seriously. “If I had any idea why this was happening, I would tell you.” 

The blanket fell back into place. 

D’Argo nodded. “Right.” So now it all came down to what Pilot or John found out. He turned away from the wall of silence Aeryn had thrown up and began the long walk back to Command. 

“I remember a noise,” she added thoughtfully. “Could have been the wind.” 

He paused, frowning. Prominent in his memory was the eerie stillness of the planet. The fog seemed to muffle what little noise could be heard. He shrugged mentally. They had been separated in the mists, so who could say? He wished John was there to play witness. 

“Thanks, Aeryn. That’s something, at least. Pilot’s doing a study of the fog, so maybe we’ll know something soon. Try and get some rest.” 

As he resumed his stride, her soft voice caught him again. 

“D’Argo? Um, if you aren’t needed elsewhere, would you stay with me? Just for a little while.” 

He smiled. “Of course, Aeryn,” he said, settling down in front of the grate. That, at least, he could do for her. 

# 

“I can’t believe I’m waiting in line while Aeryn’s back home mutating into a Pilot.” John drummed his fingers on the Pod controls. 

“At least the line’s moving now,” Chiana offered, stretching out lazily in the copilot’s chair. 

“It’s about time,” John grumbled, rubbing his eyes. “We’ve only been sitting here for a quarter arn.” 

“Patience, John,” Scorpius said from the back of the Pod, eyes closed in bored relaxation. “You must always have patience.” 

John bit back any remarks defending his irritation that would have raised his feelings for Aeryn for discussion. Inside, this heart ached to think of her on Moya, facing this alone. Outside, he kept his eyes on the viewscreen. “Not looking for a sermon, grasshopper. You’re starting to sound like Harvey.” 

“Why’d we even bring him?” Chiana complained. “Without him, we could be in the fast lane.” She gestured out the window at the speedily progressing line beside them consisting of one- or two-man vessels. 

“Yeah, but who knows what he would have done while we were gone.” 

Scorpius looked up now with a sharp intake of breath. “Really, John, if I meant you any harm, I would have acted by now.” 

John barked a single skeptical laugh. “Wish I could believe you, Scorp, but you can’t show up out of the blue when you’re supposed to be dead and buried and expect me to trust your word. Doesn’t work that way.” 

Scorpius was silent a moment, then said softly, “If it means anything to you, John, know that I would never use Aeryn Sun or her child against you.” 

John’s eyes hardened. “You already have.” 

Chiana smirked at the hybrid. Knowing not to press the issue, Scorpius sat back silently. 

“Frell this,” John muttered after a moment of tense silence. He threw open the comms. “Hello! Anybody out there? Ground control? Security? Hello!” 

A slim, one-person vehicle pulled in front of their viewscreen. “Transport Pod,” a voice buzzed, “settle down and wait your turn. We have many ships to deal with and will get to you as soon as possible.” 

“Well this is an emergency, so get Kornata on the horn and tell her there’s someone here to see her about NamTar’s last experiment.” 

“NamTar?” the alien asked, confusion written in his voice. 

“Just tell her. She’ll understand.” 

The guard seemed hesitant, but switched to another channel. 

“Wouldn’t she recognize your name?” Chiana asked. 

“Yeah. And so might anyone else on this channel,” John answered. 

The comm sprang back to life. “Alright, Transport Pod, if you would move above the line, a security drone will be by in a microt to guide you in. Sorry for the inconvenience.” 

“Just doin’ your job. Thanks.” John shut off the comm and pulled the Pod vertically above, relatively, the large ships surrounding them. “You see? If you want into a science lab, just bring up one of their past mistakes.” 

“Or offer them exactly what they want, apparently,” Scorpius muttered to himself. 

John frowned, glaring straight ahead. “Apparently.” 

# 

“So John looks down, and all he’s wearing is a pair of women’s stockings.” 

D’Argo and Aeryn laughed uproariously. 

“Oh, I’m sorry I missed that,” Aeryn gasped. Her laughs just as quickly turned into a fit of coughs that wracked her frame. 

“Aeryn?” he asked anxiously, wishing she would let him in. 

She let out a shuddering breath. “I’m alright.” 

“Are you in pain?” 

He didn’t need to see her to know the expression on her face as she answered, “Oh, no. Just my bones shifting and my organs mutating.” 

At least she was well enough for sarcasm. He worried more when she denied her discomfort. D’Argo winced sympathetically. He wished Noranti could give her a painkiller, but who knew how her system would react in this condition? Unsure what to do, he let her ride it out. He could hear her quiet choking noises, the result of her military training. PeaceKeepers didn’t scream. 

When her breathing eased, D’Argo looked around, seeking anything to divert her attention. He grimaced at the bowl of stew, which now sported a dench-thick skin. The stalk had wilted and the bread had soaked up the gravy and flopped onto the floor. “You going to eat any of this stew?” 

“Not until my stomach settles,” she answered. Then, in that vulnerable tone she never used outside of Moya, “Do Pilots have stomachs?” 

D’Argo winced. “I don’t know. They have mouths, and they have to eat somehow before bonding with a Leviathan…” He glanced at the door. “And I’m not helping, am I?” 

He heard her half-smile in her voice. “No. D’Argo, thank you for staying. I know you have better things to do.” 

“Aeryn, you’re what’s most important right now. I’ll stay as long as you need me.” He paused a moment. “Unless I have to pee.” 

She laughed again. “I know, D’Argo. Thank you.” Soberly, she asked, “No word from John yet?” 

“Not yet. But don’t worry. We’ll get you back to normal.” He got the impression that she nodded acceptingly. In the calm silence between them, he heard her grunt and shift uncomfortably. His hearts twisted. “Aeryn, I’m sorry.” 

“Have to pee?”

“No. I’m sorry this happened to you in the first place. I should have seen what was going on. Should’ve done something…” 

She shook her head. “Don’t D’Argo.” 

The blanket slid back slightly so her orange-flecked gray eye could peer at him. He realized with a start that she had been sitting just on the other side of the door. “It wasn’t your fault,” she said firmly. “We were different people then. We had no reason to care about each other.” 

“But you and John did.” 

“John cared,” she demurred. “I just followed my PeaceKeeper belief in loyalty to the unit. Besides, what did the two of us have to lose?” 

D’Argo let the question hang. “I’m still sorry it happened.” 

Something wrapped around his hand. He looked down and saw that Aeryn had snaked her hand under the blanket and was squeezing his comfortingly. Her three middle fingers had fused at the first joint as the chitin gloved her arm. A clear, sticky discharge covered the new tissue. He belatedly realized she held the blanket back with a tiny third arm on her midriff. 

“I appreciate it, D’Argo.” 

He stared at her warped hand, trying not to show the grief on his face. “Was it this bad last time?” 

“Worse,” she answered steadily. “It’s still early.”  

She grimaced and a shudder ran down her arm. “Hurry, John,” she whispered. 

“Anything I can do for the pain?” D’Argo asked. 

“Oh, it’s not the pain,” Aeryn answered, her voice rising noticeably. “I can handle that. It’s just…” She hesitated and her hand squeezed his harder, seeking more strength to help her voice her fear. ”I’m not just turning into a Pilot. I’m becoming a male Pilot.” Her eye met his again. “What’s going to happen to my child?” 

The horror of that thought flowed over D’Argo in a wave. Immediately, his mind rushed to Jothee, remembering Lo’Laan’s own pregnancy and how much he had worried and prayed for a safe birth for his infinitely vulnerable child. There was nothing he could say. 

Beside him, Aeryn groaned, her hand going to her temple. “D’Argo, could you tell me that thing about…stringing my thoughts?” 

A small part of his mind noticed that her voice sounded modulated, closer to Pilot’s slow tones than her own natural cadence. But the gentle request was all he needed to pull his mind from the fears of the past and focus it on usefulness again. 

“Right. Um, alright. You have to ignore all the loud, major thoughts in your mind. Push them aside and listen for a quiet sound underneath. Your heartbeat.” 

Aeryn’s hand clenched his, her eyes closed. “Okay,” she whispered. 

“Now start with the quietest thought,” he continued in his smoothest, least-distracting voice, “and hang that off your pulse. Keep working your way through until they’re under control.” 

He sat for a long time, listening to her pull herself together. Her breath hitched, then resumed shakily. D’Argo reached over and tenderly stroked her hair, as he had cycles ago when Moya’s powerful pulse had coaxed the toxins from her bloodstream. Now her hair was wet with sweat and goo and patches of her scalp had hardened with the new skin. 

Under his touch, her breathing eased and smoothed until gradually, he realized she was asleep. Assured she would remain so, he quietly eased free of her hand and stood, joints creaking. One leg had fallen asleep, so he limped down the tier, trying to shake the circulation back into it. In doing so, he nearly walked into Rygel. 

“Frell! Watch yourself, Luxan!” the Hynerian complained, jerking his ThroneSled back to avoid collision.

“Sorry, your eminence,” D’Argo grumbled. “Any results from the scans yet?” 

“That’s what I was coming to tell you. Pilot’s not answering comms.” 

Immediately, D’Argo called, “Pilot? Pilot, respond!” 

He may as well have been yelling into a canyon. Only his echoes came back. 

“Told you,” Rygel said. “The other comms—” 

“Sikozu?” D’Argo called. 

“What is it, Luxan?” the perennially peeved alien answered. 

“—work fine, but why don’t you check?” Rygel muttered. 

“Have you been able to call Pilot?” D’Argo asked. 

“No, but then I haven’t been trying. Is that all?” 

“Not yet. Stay on the line.” D’Argo growled and looked around. 

“You could go up to Pilot’s Den and talk to him,” Rygel suggested. 

D’Argo shook his head. “No. He could just be in a mood, or something could be really wrong. Where the frell is a DRD?” He looked back the way he came. “I hate to wake Aeryn, but he’d probably answer her.” 

He strolled back down to her cell. The blanket had fallen shut and she had pulled her hand back in. “Aeryn?” he summoned her quietly. 

She drew a sharp breath as she awoke. After a brief grunt as her senses overwhelmed her, she spoke muzzily. “What?” 

D’Argo crouched by the door, Rygel at his side. “Aeryn, we need you to comm Pilot. He’s not answering us.” 

She sighed heavily. “Give me a comm.” 

The blanket pushed aside as she extended her hand through the grate. Rygel drew back in shock. Her entire forearm was shelled by this point and she held her thumb and pinkie apart from the other fingers in the configuration of a Pilot’s claw. D’Argo laid the comm in her palm and the arm retracted. 

“Pilot,” she called from within. Then her voice lapsed into a language the Translator Microbes rejected.  

Without hesitation, Pilot responded in kind. After a short exchange, Aeryn held the comm out to D’Argo again. 

“There you go.” 

“Thank you,” he said, taking it. “Pilot, are you alright?” 

“Perfectly fine, Captain,” Pilot’s calm voice flowed over the channel. 

“Then why the delay?” Rygel snapped. 

“I do have a lot to do, Dominar. Forgive me.” 

The boys exchanged a look. “Do you have the results yet, Pilot?” D’Argo demanded. 

“Moya and I have scanned the planet repeatedly and found nothing outside the usual. Magnetic fields are normal, solar radiation is within acceptable ranges, the fog is merely water vapor. I see no danger.” 

“Then what is causing the mutation?!” D’Argo roared. “And why did the wormhole speed it up?!” 

“I do not have those answers for you at this time,” Pilot offered. “When I do, you will know.” 

“Do see to that.” D’Argo closed the comm to Pilot and muttered, “We’ll see how he follows through with that.” 

“Did you guys hear what Aeryn said?” Sikozu asked quietly. 

D’Argo shot a warning look at Aeryn’s quarters. The blanket hung calmly and all he heard behind it was her steady breathing. He guided Rygel down the tier until they were out of earshot, then replied, “I heard her speak Pilot. Don’t know what it meant.” 

“Well, everything in Pilot can have a hundred different meanings,” Sikozu said didactically, “but unless she asked Pilot why the ear medication is yellow, she just told him to go into a lower orbit around the planet.” 

To be continued…

Part 4

Farscape is owned by The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network (Australia) and the Sci-Fi Channel. No copyright infringement is intended and no financial gain has been made by any of the staff of this web site.