Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Farscape belong to someone else and I'm just borrowing them. But isn't it amazing how I always manage to borrow Aeryn Sun?
Spoilers: Yes, but as usual I'm too lazy to say what they are.
Archiving: As always, be my guest. But remember, it's good luck to buy a fanfic author a beer.
Chyndwyn was a paradise. It was a wealthy, technologically advanced planet out in the middle of the Uncharted Territories. Ships and convoys came from all over to trade, make repairs, take on new crews and pick up news. Some of the starship captains were said to have star charts for nearly mythical worlds like Delvia, Sebacea and Lux. None of the captains we had talked to would admit to that knowledge, though, but we kept asking. Maybe one had even heard of an obscure, backward planet called Earth.
Better, yet, Chyndwyn was safe for us. A hundred cycles earlier a Peacekeeper Task Force had attacked them. The Task Force had been hopelessly lost, but they behaved like Peacekeepers anyway. The experience hadn't been pleasant, but it had been instructive. Well, instructive for Chyndwyn. It had been fatal for the Task Force. Now, both Aeryn and D'Argo felt that Chyndwyn's planetary defenses and fleet would turn Crais's command carrier into scrap with no effort. The Chyndwydian government also made an effort to keep up on the vague rumors of Peacekeeper activity in the Uncharted Territories, and to keep any and all Peacekeepers out.
One result of this was that Aeryn Sun was the proud owner of Chyndwynian identity documents describing her as a resident of the planet Earth. She didn't like it, but she accepted it and seemed to appreciate that I didn't make an issue of it. Chiana did make an issue of it. She was constantly telling Aeryn that she wasn't acting human enough. "Aeryn, don't act like buildings made out of metal are common where you come from. Act like you've never seen one before. Ask why the buildings aren't made of dren. No, your stare isn't vacant enough." It gave Aeryn and I something else in common: A burning desire to lock Chiana up someplace.
And we were, thanks to Zhaan, newly rich. The Delvian Seek was the stuff of legends locally. Having a tenth level Pa'u on the planet was a major coup, from a philosophical standpoint. The University had hired Zhaan to lecture and her classes were hugely popular. She had been put on the planetary database and was now famous worldwide. She was the local equivalent of Julia Roberts crossed with the Dalai Lama.
I must say, modestly, that even John Crichton was gainfully employed by the University. News of a new planet, even one as backwards as Earth, was important to the academic world. I wasn't in Zhaan's league, but I did make a reasonable living describing Earth to classrooms full, well half full, of graduate students. And I had just gotten a bonus for "Hotel California", words and music by John Crichton, recorded by the University Choir and Orchestra. Okay, I'd need to make some royalty payments if I ever got back to Earth, but I'd worry about that later.
Aeryn and D'Argo were unemployed since freelance soldiers weren't appreciated on Chyndwyn. Worse, they had been disarmed. The Chynwydians were not fans of the right to bear arms Their weapons had been politely, but firmly, taken away. The two of them spent their time trying, so far successfully, to keep Rygel and Chiana out of trouble.
I had decided to go shopping with my bonus to buy my favorite Peacekeeper a present. I had been trying to decide between a set of hand painted tee shirts made of the local equivalent of silk, or an ornate ring carved out of a local gemstone. I had finally decided against the ring. Aeryn was still enough of the tactless Peacekeeper that she might refuse to wear the ring if she didn't like it. I hadn't explained to Aeryn the cultural baggage that went along with a man giving a ring to a woman, and I didn't intend to at this stage of our relationship. I admit it made no sense, but I didn't want Aeryn to refuse a ring from me, even if the refusal only meant that she didn't like that ring.
Suddenly, I saw a familiar black clad form approaching. I put the shirts down and pretended to be looking at a heavy coat that looked to be my size.
When she got closer, I could see she was upset. "John. Come over here, quickly."
I turned and smiled at Aeryn. "Hi, did Rygel and Chiana give you the slip?"
She pulled me close to her and whispered in my ear. " I think D'Argo has been captured by the Peacekeepers. Zhaan may be their next target and I've sent her to where she'll be safe. We have to go there now. Follow me."
She took my hand and led me to the back of the store and through a series of corridors. As soon as we were out of sight, she started running. Eventually the corridors led to a glass door that looked out onto a busy street. She stopped and turned to me. "Wait here, I'm going to check the street." She turned toward the door and then quickly turned, put her arms around my neck and kissed me. The kiss was different, filled with desperation and need, much like our first kiss when we thought we were going to die in the Flax. I had been worried before, but now I was scared.
Aeryn broke the kiss and went to the door. She looked around and motioned for me to come along. Once outside she pointed to the local version of the subway. "Over there. And pretend we aren't together."
I let her get a few steps ahead of me and followed, hoping that any watching Peacekeepers would thing I was just studying the attractive walk of a female of the species.
The subway cars were much larger than they would have been on Earth and this was apparently not the local rush hour. I had no trouble keeping Aeryn in sight without getting too close to her. She got off and I followed her to an airport. She stopped in front of a very small aircraft and motioned me to get in back.
"Aeryn, please tell me what is going on. Why do you think D'Argo was taken by the Peacekeepers? Why is Zhaan next? What's going on here? Please."
"John, we don't have time for this. Please get in. We have to hurry." I got in. But before we taxied out onto the runway, Aeryn turned around in the cockpit, looked at me and ran her hand along the side of my face. Her expression was unreadable, but she almost looked like she was trying to memorize my face, in case she never saw it again. I stayed scared.
After a brief flight over the Ocean, we landed on the outskirts of another city, and after another trip on the subway system, found ourselves in a large park. Aeryn had been trying to look in all directions at once since we had landed, so I hadn't distracted her with questions. But the park was almost deserted. I turned to her, "Aeryn, please tell me what is going on."
I saw the pantak jab coming, but couldn't dodge it. The lights went out.
When I woke up my hands were cuffed in front of me with Peacekeeper handcuffs, and I had been dragged to a small stone bench by a tall hedge. Aeryn was standing next to me.
I looked up at her. "Aeryn, what are you doing?"
"Silence, human. If you persist in talking, I'll have to knock you out again."
"Aeryn---" That was as far as I got before the second pantak jab.
When I woke up again, Aeryn was talking to someone on a Peacekeeper communicator. That someone was Captain Bialar Crais. "This is Officer Sun. I have fulfilled my part of the bargain. I have the human at the park as we agreed, Captain Crais. I expect you to keep your part of the bargain."
I could hear Crais reply. "You should be able to see my transport landing now. You have my word as a Peacekeeper that I will keep my part of the bargain, Officer Sun."
I could see a large, bulky black transport landing not far off. I only had a few minutes to try top talk some sense into Aeryn.
"Aeryn, don't hit me. I just want to talk to you. Crais won't just kill me. He'll burn your brain out and leave you in the Living Death as an example to anyone who gets in his way. You know that, Aeryn. You're the one who told me that he'd do that to you. How can you trust him?"
Aeryn pulled me to my feet. "I give you my word that Crais won't kill you. If your death becomes necessary, I'll see to it that you are killed quickly and painlessly."
I couldn't believe her. "Well, thank you. That certainly makes all the difference in the world."
Aeryn nodded. "I'm glad you see it that way. I had thought you might be difficult."
I was trying to decide whether to try to run, hit Aeryn, or give her a quick definition of sarcasm, when I saw Crais entering the other side of the park. I almost laughed. The Chynwydians wouldn't knowingly let a Peacekeeper land on their planet, so Crais had come in civvies as a disguise. He had on a pair of tight yellow shorts, a baggy green shirt and a top hat with a sun visor on it. I saw the expression on his face and decided he wasn't the least bit funny looking.
He walked up to us with a smile on his face. "Well done, Officer Sun. Well done, indeed. Not only do I restore you to duty with your full rank, but also I shall personally take your case to the Admiralty and see to it that you are commended and promoted for this. Now let us return to my ship."
I started to try to talk some sense into Aeryn before it was too late, but she suddenly pulled a pulse pistol from under her jacket and rammed it into Crais's face. "Captain Bialar Crais, I arrest you for the crime of mutiny. Know that I am authorized to use deadly force to apprehend you."
Crais opened his mouth, but Aeryn grabbed him with her other hand and spun him around. She searched him and dropped a communicator and a small pistol on the ground beside her. She spun him around again and started to put another pair of handcuffs on him. That's when he made his move. He stepped away from her and screamed, "The human." Aeryn glanced towards me just long enough for Crais to lift his fist to Aeryn's face and spray her with something from his ring. Aeryn started to stagger. Crais went for her pistol and I went for Crais. Aeryn let go of the pistol and staggered a few feet and then collapsed. Crais had the barrel of the pistol, but I had the rest. But with my hands cuffed together, I couldn't reach the trigger. So I kicked Crais right in the old mivocks. I felt his grip slip a little bit, so I kept kicking him. Finally, I got the gun away as he collapsed onto the grass.
I would have shot him right there, but I suddenly noticed a group of five large gray skinned tourists watching us. Shooting Crais in front of witnesses would have been a bad move.
I kicked Crais hard in the face and then yelled, "Oh, no. I've been sacked. Good play, Crais."
I picked up Crais's gun and communicator and walked over to Aeryn. I dropped Crais's stuff and searched through her pockets until I found the key to my cuffs. Then I ran over to the tourists. "I'm afraid I've lost the game. But it's really close between my two friends over there. Will you help me take my rings off, so I can cheer them on better?" Crais managed to raise his head and then threw up all over himself. I punched my hands into the air and screamed, "A two point conversion, and he made it. Go Crais."
The tourists looked at each other and shrugged. "See, it's just like our guides said. Fascinating local customs, eh." One of the others opened my handcuffs. Just then Aeryn started to roll over.
I ran over to her, screaming "She. Just. Could. Go. All. The. Way. Miss Aeryn Sun, ladies and gentlemen. Touchdown. "I cuffed Aeryn's hands behind her and headed for Crais, picking up his pistol and stomping on his communicator as I left Aeryn. The tourists were still watching, so the best I could hope for was a field goal using Crais's head. Then I saw him. A large, muscular human-looking type, just entering the far end of the park. As soon as he saw us, he started running in our direction. He might not be a Peacekeeper, but I wasn't hanging around to find out.
Aeryn had managed to stagger to her feet, so I grabbed her, waved to the tourists, and yelled, "Come on, Aeryn, I'll help you do the end zone dance."
Ahead of us was a ramp leading underground. I didn't know where it went, but it was about all I had. I dragged Aeryn down the ramp. We were in luck. It was part of the subway system and from the boxes and crates piled up everywhere we must have been the local equivalent of a freight yard. There was a freight train just leaving and I ran for it, dragging Aeryn behind me. I threw her in an empty boxcar and followed her in.
I stuck my head back out to see what had happened to our pursuer, and almost had it taken off by a blast from a pulse pistol. He had to be a Peacekeeper and he had jumped on about a dozen cars behind us. The freight car had picked up a lot of speed and if we jumped off in the underground tunnel, we'd be killed for sure. There was a little walkway on the outside of the car and I could see a ladder leading up to the top of the cars, just like on an Earth boxcar.
I stepped out on to the walkway and edged along until I got to the back of the car and pulled myself onto a little platform on between the cars. I tucked my gun in my belt and started up the ladder and then saw him looking down at me. I couldn't believe he had clambered over a dozen moving boxcars as fast as he had. He aimed at me and I knew I was dead. He smiled, but I wasn't reassured.
"I have to keep you alive, but for what you did to my captain, I think I might shoot off a few fingers. Or perhaps, I could just pull them off." He was enjoying this. Then, something hanging down from the roof of the tunnel slammed into his chest and he was gone. I stuck my head around the corner of the car and saw him bouncing between the cars and the side of the tunnel and finally land heavily.
When I got back into the car, Aeryn had almost managed to get her legs up past her cuffs so her hands would be in front of her. I pulled my pistol from my belt and told her to get her hands back where I had put them. Then I sat down across from her, about six feet away. "Aeryn, will you please tell me what you think you are doing?"
"I am not Aeryn Sun. I am Officer Mejia Sun, Field Agent, Inspector General's Division, Admiralty Operations. I am on this planet to arrest Captain Bialar Crais for mutiny. You have prevented that."
I tried to think of something to say in reply, but I just stared at her. Finally, I managed, "You're not Aeryn Sun?"
She must have been related to Aeryn. She gave me Aeryn's best I'm-dealing-with-a-human-and-it-hurts-my-head look and replied. "I just told you that didn't I, human. You do not appear to be as intelligent as your file suggests."
It's funny the way your mind works in a crisis. I glared at Aeryn, er, Mejia, and yelled, "If you're not Aeryn Sun, why did you kiss me?"
She shrugged. "You are unique, human. There have been a few Sebacean females who have had relationships with lesser races, but never a Peacekeeper. Certainly not a Commando Officer like Aeryn Sun. I wished to see what made you so unique. I confess, I did not find the experience that compelling."
I told her that perhaps that was due to a fault on her end of the kiss, but she didn't seem to understand sarcasm. I started over again. "Why did you want to kill me?"
"I do not want to kill you."
This was getting curiouser and curiouser. "You said you'd kill me rather than have Crais do it."
"Human, I said if it was necessary that you die, I would see to it that you died quickly and painlessly. Even though Captain Crais is wanted for mutiny, he has still lodged a charge of murder against you before the Tribunal. The charge must be considered. I personally doubt that the Tribunal would even find you negligent in Tauvo Crais's death, but they might convict you of murder. And you are a member of an unknown lesser race, and you have contaminated a Peacekeeper. They might decide to execute you for any number of reasons. If so, I would insure that you were killed quickly and painlessly."
I decided I'd better change the subject. "You're Aeryn Sun's twin sister?"
"No, human. I am about a cycle younger than Aeryn Sun. You are familiar how most Peacekeeper Soldiers are bred?"
I nodded. "Aeryn told me she's a test tube baby, conceived in a lab without any parents present."
Mejia nodded back. "That is true as far as she knows. I only found out the whole truth when I was given this assignment. The Peacekeepers have started to clone the very best of their officers. The progenitor of the Sun line is an Admiral now commanding a Training Division after a long and noble career in operations. I am aware of one other Sun clone, a woman just ending her training. There may be others."
The train was slowing down and I gestured to Mejia to stand. As soon as the train stopped I shoved her off. We went up another ramp and found ourselves in another park. I found a small place surrounded by a tall hedge and pushed her into it. I stood there, covering Mejia with her pistol, with no clear idea of what to do next.
"Human, you should shoot me in the head."
I stared at Mejia. I had no idea how that particular idea had gotten into the conversation.
She continued. "I offered to see that you died quickly and painlessly. I would think that you would do the same for me."
"You think I'm going to kill you?"
"I can't think of any other reason you would drag me along with you instead of leaving me for Crais's crewman to kill. When you thought I was Aeryn Sun, you would have wanted to kill me for betraying you. Now that you know who I am, you'll kill me so I don't arrest you."
I had to admit the Peacekeepers really knew who to clone. I had no doubt that Aeryn was one of their best, and that even the Peacekeepers didn't know how good she really was. And here was Mejia discussing her execution as calmly as if she were ordering breakfast.
"Mejia, I'm not going to shoot you."
"I'm not afraid of the Living Death, but I don't think---"
I cut her off, "I'm not going to kill you, injure you or leave you in the Living Death. As soon as I can figure out how to get back to my friends, I'll just let you go. You can chase after Crais again and you can even chase after me, but I won't hurt you now."
That threw her. She couldn't figure out what sort of sadistic, lesser-race human trick I was playing on her by threatening not to hurt her. Finally she had to ask, "Why?"
"In spite of the fact that you think of me as a criminal because I've been accused of a crime, and in spite of the fact that you consider me a lesser race, I have a human prejudice against cold-blooded murder. Not to mention that if I did hurt you, I'd have nightmares about it forever, since you look exactly like Aeryn."
Mejia seemed to be uncomfortable now. Death didn't bother her, but humans did. Maybe there was hope for her. "You seem to have some sort of a bond with Aeryn Sun. I had thought that you had managed to subvert her and were using her for your own ends. That appears to be incorrect."
I smiled at Mejia, "Oh, I may have my own ends in mind, but I do deeply care for Aeryn Sun."
"And Aeryn Sun cares deeply for you, John."
I turned and saw Aeryn and D'Argo at the opening in the hedge. Each was carrying a pistol.
Was I ever relieved to see them. "How did you two find me and where did you get the weapons?"
Aeryn grinned at me. "We're here thanks to Rygel. It seems you can ask the local database to advise you if any particular type of ship is coming in. Merchants use the system to alert them to potential customers. Rygel gave them the specifications of every Peacekeeper vessel I could come up with. When a Peacekeeper transport entered the system, Rygel was notified. When we couldn't find you, we decided to come to the spaceport the transport was scheduled to land at. When we saw Crais get off, we followed him. We had a hunch we might find you. We got to the first park just as you were leaving. Chiana and Zhaan are keeping an eye on Crais. They found what was left of his crewman, so we headed for the freight pod's next stop, and here we are. As for the pistols, if you have an unarmed Commando trained Peacekeeper with an interest in technology, she'll start thinking about how to make a weapon, won't she?"
I was proud of Aeryn and I could see she was proud of herself. "How long have you two been listening in?"
Aeryn got serious. "Almost from the beginning. I've heard rumors of cloning, but to see myself standing here---"
I stopped Aeryn. "Which reminds me, there are other Sun clones out there. How do I know that you're the real Aeryn Sun?"
Aeryn walked over to me, put her arms around me and gave me a kiss that curled my toes. She broke the kiss and smiled at me. "That should show you how worried I've been about you. Does that convince you that I'm Aeryn Sun?"
I thought about it for a second. "I'm afraid not. But we can keep working on it until you do convince me."
Fortunately, Aeryn kept smiling. "Don't push your luck, Crichton."
Mejia broke in. "I assume that I can't expect the same mercy from you Aeryn Sun, and your Luxan companion, as from John Crichton. May I ask how you intend to dispose of me?"
Aeryn turned to Mejia. "You'll get the same mercy from D'Argo and I. You're free to leave and go after Crais. I suggest you confine your mission to capturing him. You might not be so lucky next time if you keep chasing us. I realize I can't expect the same mercy from Command, but I think you owe the rest of the crew of Moya some consideration. John Crichton is not a criminal and is not a member of a lesser race. He does not deserve to be hunted by the Peacekeepers. D'Argo did not kill his wife. Her own brother, Macton Tal, killed her. I wouldn't be surprised if you found evidence of that if you bothered to look. Rygel XVI was tortured for tens of cycles by Captain Durka, who you'll be surprised to know may still be alive and is a coward. I know he is, I met him. Pa'u Zhotan Zhaan did kill her lover and he deserved to die. Look very carefully at what Peacekeepers have become. I suspect you won't like what you find. I hope you'll want to change that."
Quite a speech for my favorite ex-Peacekeeper. Even Mejia seemed impressed, but she shook her head. "I am what I was bred to be."
I almost replied to that, but Aeryn beat me to it. "You can be more." Aeryn stood aside and indicated Mejia was free to leave.
Mejia looked at each of us in turn. "I will not see you again." She came over to me and stopped. She put her hand up to my face and I suddenly thought she might be about to kiss me again, but all she did was say, "You are interesting, John Crichton." I could see Aeryn smile at that line.
Before Mejia could leave, Chiana and Zhaan came through the hedge and did a double take at the sight of two Aeryn Suns. After a brief explanation, Chiana told us their story.
"Crais ran into the Chynwydian Order Enforcers as he was trying to leave the park. He ran and they, naturally, chased him. When they caught him, he tried to fight them. He lost the fight and was arrested for about a dozen crimes." She mimed a fight with one person loosing badly. "With any luck he'll be in jail here for years. Even if they decide to only expel him, or if he jumps bail, or whatever, we should be able to get a good head start on him. His ship won't go chasing after us with him still here. They might never get back for him. I've been thinking of a few things we could do to keep him here...."
We all told Chiana to forget about it.
Mejia turned to me again. "Thank you, John Crichton." She started to leave, but I put up my hand to stop her. I raised her jacket and returned her pulse pistol to it's holster.
I grinned. "That'll come in handy for Crais."
She gave me another indecipherable look and turned and started to walk away. Then she turned back to us and smiled slightly, "I have to ask, John Crichton, what is an end zone dance?"
Aeryn actually giggled. Aeryn looked at me and I indicated she should reply. "He's interesting for the first day or so. And it gets better after that, but you'd have to know him longer than I have to understand what an end zone dance is."
Officer Mejia Sun walked away from us, never looking back.
We headed back to the airport. Aeryn and I lagged a little behind. "Aeryn, before we leave I have to finish my shopping."
Aeryn gave me a look I had no trouble deciphering. "John, we have way too much to do to let you go wandering around by yourself, especially with Peacekeepers so near. You're not going anywhere on this planet without an armed guard and I don't have the time."
"Too bad. I was shopping for some presents for my favorite ex-Peacekeeper. But, if you could find the time, at least you'd be sure to get the right sizes and everything." I had decided I was buying Aeryn the shirts and the ring, and anything else that caught our eyes. I'd worry about the cultural baggage another day.
"Shopping for presents? I suppose I could find the time."
My favorite ex-Peacekeeper had changed since I'd first met her. "You know, Aeryn, I have to wonder what it'd be like to have two of you around."
She snorted, "You'll never find out."
My favorite ex-Peacekeeper hadn't changed that much.