Spoilers: Icarus Abides, The Choice and the eps that
Category: post/during Ep for Icarus Abides/The Choice
Distribution: Please just let me know if and where.
Disclaimer: Farscape, its storyline and characters are the property of Jim Henson productions. No infringement is intended.
My deep thanks, as always, to Meredith, who always knows the right things to say. And thanks to Cofax for enthusiasm.
Feedback is always cherished. Vivwiley@yahoo.com
**Peacekeeper Code Section 1.100.1(a) Definition and Purpose of the Peacekeepers. Peacekeepers are weapons. We are hired by governments to maintain order, peace and stability in areas where local authorities are not able to hold order on their own. We do not independently take sides in inter- or intra-planetary conflicts unless the security of the Sebacean people is threatened. We are instruments of other's policies, we are tools used in peace, in war, in civil combat. Our missions are defined by those who hire us.....**
When you are a Peacekeeper, you are forever in one of two states: training, or on duty. Either you are engaged in a mission, or preparing for the next assignment. There is almost nothing in between these statuses. You serve in missions whose purpose is defined by the governments, factions or beings who hire you. You exist in a structured reality, where your relationships to your fellow Peacekeepers are defined for you within the strictures of rank, function, unit membership. You obey the orders of superior officers, and you issue orders to those beneath you. You function together to achieve the purpose of the current mission.
Your definition of yourself is shaped by the structure of Peacekeeper society. Your path in life is determined for you by the time you have lived 15 cycles. You know your career within the Peacekeepers -- commando, medic, tech -- and thus what to expect at each juncture in your life. The ranks that will be achieved with time, discipline and training.
Even your recreation and leisure time is only another thinly disguised tool of the machine. You are given time away from training or missions, solely that you might be better rested and a more effective soldier for the next assignment. You may recreate with officers of equal rank, and with certain special permissions and invitations with officers of superior rank. But, you only reproduce if, when and how the command structure dictates.
Sebaceans are born in space -- in the emptiness of vacuum, they build massive, traveling structures that are their homes. They impose order in the midst of the nothingness of space. It is a world founded and bounded by definition, hierarchy, and rules. Life is a series of clear-cut decisions, right-wrong, true-false. You are a commando, or you are a tech. You are successful or you, or your unit members, die. There is little room for in between in the Peacekeepers.
She had been living in between, now, for three cycles. Ever since her Prowler had been swept into Moya's first starburst, Aeryn Sun had been forced to continually try to come to terms with a life that was suddenly thrown wide open. Had been forced to find her own structure and routines in an existence that had no tie to anything she had known. Had been forced to define her own relationships with a group of strangers. To redefine who and what she was now.
She had been born a Peacekeeper. She had become, through talent, hard work and intense dedication, a commando, and then a special commando. And then suddenly she had become something else entirely. No longer Officer Sun of the Peacekeepers, but simply Aeryn, part of this strange, loose confederation of fugitives, on the run from all that she had once held dear.
She had loved being a Peacekeeper. She had been good at it. She had flourished in the order and structure of that life. She found beauty and confidence in the symmetry and predictability of life as a soldier. The knowledge that she could rely on her fellow soldiers to literally protect her in life and death. The clear sense of belonging and definition.
Then it had all ended, and she was left adrift in space, ripped from all she knew and loved. It had been the hardest mission she'd ever served, but she had fought and learned and ultimately come to understand that as much as she had lost when Crais had so brutally severed her ties with the Peacekeepers, she had gained something inherently larger and maybe even more beautiful.
She had had to learn to define herself in terms of Crichton, until it was no longer something she had to do, but something she needed to do. Something she wanted to do.
And now, once more, she found herself in between.
Aeryn Sun stood on the ledge of her hotel room's window, and stared down into the abyss.
**Peacekeeper Code Section 47.443.44(c) Weapons. A Peacekeeper is only as reliable and useful as his/her weapon. It is a Peacekeeper's responsibility to always maintain a perfectly working array of personal weaponry, appropriate to the type of mission his/her unit is currently assigned to. The minimum personal weaponry for a Class A Mission is a pulse pistol, to be worn at all times when on call; a TK 47 blaster rifle for long patrols; and each unit should also have at least four members who are carrying IM-A-75 shoulder canons. The minimum personal weaponry for a Class B Mission is...**
She had arrived on Valldon empty-handed. Nothing but the clothes she was wearing when she left Talyn, and a small cache of credits. It occurred to her, half-way through her descent into the planet's atmosphere, that she should have packed....something. But she'd shrugged off the thought almost as soon as it occurred to her. The point had been to leave everything behind.
She barely remembered what she'd said to Crais and Stark just before she left. She had the vague impression that it had been pretty unforgivable, but then, forgiveness had never been something she worried much about. There had been no room in her previous life for any of the softer emotions, and it was only lately that she had begun to think about them at all.
The memory ambushed her with a casual brutality.
"I love that." His hand traced random swirls and patterns on her skin, his breath brushed over the skin near her ear.
"What? My skin?" She was vaguely bemused by how silly he could be after they'd just finished making love.
A snort of laughter. "Yes, your skin, Aeryn." Then his voice shifted, a half-register lower. "But that wasn't what I was talking about. I was talking about that smile you're wearing."
She froze, feeling her face still, slide into something harder. "My smile?" Carefully.
They were lying, limbs entangled, facing one another. He reached out and smoothed away the frown wrinkles just emerging on her forehead, stroked down around the side of her face.
"Yes, your smile." His eyes were so serious, so warm. "That smile you wear when you are completely happy. I love that." He kissed her lightly. "I love you."
She couldn't help herself, she smiled back at him. "I suppose you're taking the credit for that smile?" The gentle teasing banter, still so new, so unfamiliar.
He grinned. "Well, I never used to see it...so unless you have another lover somewhere....maybe Rygel has more going for him than you've let on?"
She shifted, pushing him back, lifting her body over his, pinning him to the bed. "I could call him in and ask him to demonstrate for you." She couldn't quit smiling, even though she knew it ruined the effect.
"No, no, why don't you just show me yourself..."
"...report back, or we will be forced to send intercept flyers."
"What?" She was wrenched back to the present by the crackle of the comm.
"Repeat. Flyer from Leviathan. Report your descent velocity and reset your trajectory for 47 by 83 by 99, or we will be forced to send intercept flyers."
"Sorry. I...I am resetting my trajectory. Expect touchdown in 80 microds."
She landed on Valldon.
The hotel was...the word that she would later use was 'squalid'...at the time all that mattered was that it had a room, and a room far enough above the helter skelter of the streets to impart some false sense of isolation.
She bought clothes, although she never did remember how or when; she only remembered thinking, in a strange disconnected corner of her mind, that it was good to put on clothing that he had never seen. Clothing that bore no resemblance, whatsoever, to anything she'd worn before, or anything she would ever wear again.
She bought a large number of bottles of spirits.
Only it would seem that she hadn't arrived empty-handed, after all. When she returned from her brief shopping foray, he was waiting for her.
She stopped dead, just inside the entrance to the room.
"Nice dress, babe." The familiar grin, that always seemed to hide the faintest trace of either lunacy or insecurity, was unendurable.
"What the frell are you doing here?" Her tone was harsh, cracked. She couldn't decide if she was going to cry, laugh, or shoot the son of a brinel where he stood.
"You might want to close the door, Aeryn, I'm really not sure about this part of town. What were you thinking when you booked this room? You've got to get a better travel agent." It angered her no end that even dead he said things her translator microbes didn't quite get.
She closed the door.
She wanted to send him away, scream at him that he wasn't real, and she was still so very angry at him anyway, but she could do none of those things. She could only watch him with all the hunger and longing that was left in the wasteland of her soul.
She could only walk over to him, and let him take her into his arms, and carry her to the bed, and tell her stories until she fell asleep.
**Peacekeeper Code Section 47.878.8(i) Field Stripping. Peacekeepers must clean and maintain their weapons on a regular basis. To maintain maximum effectiveness, weapons must be broken down to their component parts and inspected and cleaned. This is called field stripping. On routine patrols, Peacekeepers shall field strip their personal weapons no less than once every 10 solar days....**
She seemed to have lost some of her tolerance for drinking spirits. His ghost refused to go away. If she were honest with herself, she'd admit that she really didn't try very hard to get rid of him. There were moments when she worried that he might haunt her forever, but even that didn't worry her too much.
Anyway, it was a private room, and she knew, really, that she had come here precisely for this--to say goodbye to the living memories of Crichton. To try to come to learn to endure the unendurable.
She sat on the window ledge, one leg dangling out over the 96-story drop, and one anchored in the room.
Here in this strange place, time lost its meaning for her. The structure of the life she'd found once more disintegrating around her, she existed in a strange suspended reality. There were moments when she would come to herself and discover that arns had passed and she had no recollection of what she'd done, or what she'd been thinking. Then there were the times when she would be lost in the cold, trackless desert of her grief for what felt like forever, and she would realize that no more than 15 microds had gone by.
When you live in between, you lose all your reference points. In between, there are no landmarks to guide you. No clear paths home.
A sudden stabbing pain in her chest rocked her forward for a moment, and she swayed - vertigo mingling with raw sensation - and for just the tiniest moment, she thought she would surrender to reality's gravity, let herself tumble to the ground below, smash into welcome oblivion. It would be so much easier. But she had never been one to do the easy thing.
She straightened, her hand unconsciously rubbing her chest. From nowhere she suddenly heard her own voice saying "It's just the old pain...the old pain." For a microd, only, she saw herself, old, sitting with an older Crichton, under trees she had never before seen. Then the vision vanished and she was left awash with a sensation of suspended time. They had never been there, there had been no chance for them to grow old together, what the frell had that been? The memory had been so strong, but they had never been there. She was sure of it.
Crichton had once told her that humans believed that after you died, you joined the spirits of all those you had loved in your life. She wondered if the vision she'd just had had been some sort of weird preview of such an afterlife. Had she been with him long enough to inherit his beliefs? Could he be right?
She'd always suspected that he hadn't told her the full truth about what he'd seen when she'd administered the kill shot to him the time they'd been caught in the Flax. She had been meaning, lately, to ask him about that again, to catch him in a weak moment and try to tease the truth from him. But that plan, like so many others, had been swept away by the windstorm of events.
She could always ask him now, she thought with a certain grim amusement. But, she also thought that she probably didn't really want to hear the answer.
Section 47.878.8(i) [Field Stripping - continued]
To field strip a pulse pistol:
1. Set the safety setting on the power chamber to 0. v
2. Point the muzzle toward the ground, and release the takedown pin, so that the muzzle and grip separate slightly.
3. Finish sliding the takedown pin free, and place in a secure location.
4. Pull the muzzle and grip apart until there is a 90 degree opening.
5. Check the firing points at the front right of the grip. If they are excessively worn, or if you see any signs of melting around the green indicator, immediately take the pistol to the battalion armorer for repair.**
Crichton was surprising noncommittal on her decision to contact the being who ultimately declared that he was her father, Talyn Lyczak. She had half-expected that he would try to talk her out of it, or at the very least mock her sudden sentimentality. Or maybe, even, be offended that she chose to ask to find her father, rather than him--Crichton.
On the other hand, maybe Crichton, or whatever this manifestation was who haunted her here on Valldon and in all the in-between spaces of her heart, understood that she had succumbed on some primal level to the mysticism of this place. That as long as she was exorcising one ghost, she might as well deal with them all.
When her mother appeared, it simply completed the cycle. It was something of a letdown that she didn't also see Zhaan. But then, Zhaan would have had better sense than to haunt a place like this. And, if Zhaan were going to appear to anyone, she supposed it would be Stark.
Stark, Crais, Rygel. Frell. They were all still waiting for her up on Talyn. Their sympathy had long turned cloying and self-serving. She felt them all circling her, carrion birds, hoping to salvage something from the carcass of her love, her life. And the worst of it, she realized, after her confrontation in the hotel hallway with Crais and Stark, is that they didn't even realize how pathetically obvious they were.
Males. She was frelling through with them. They were not worth the bother.
"Ah, c'mon, Aeryn. You don't really mean that." He was leaning against the back wall of the room, arms crossed over his chest. Casually insolent. "We have our uses." He leered and then spoiled the effect with a buoyant grin. Almost instantly, though, he grew serious, dropped his arms and walked over to her.
He reached out and gently took one of her hands. Turned it over and began tracing the fine lines that crisscrossed her palm. She watched his fingers moving, hypnotized by the slow movements.
"Aeryn? Look at me." She shook her head. She didn't want to see the pain in his eyes. "Please."
She had never been as strong in the face of his pleading as a Peacekeeper should be. "What?" Her challenge came out weaker than she'd intended. But she thought maybe her eyes showed the defiance she was trying to muster.
"I'm sorry." She hadn't expected that.
"You should be. You abandoned me."
"No, I didn't. I did what I had to do."
"That's a pretty miserable excuse, Crichton. We were supposed to...." she choked, trying to swallow the present and future in one intractable gulp. "We were supposed to go to Earth together."
"I know. But you don't seriously think I had another option do you?" He pulled her against him so that she could no longer see his face. Could only listen to the rumble of his voice. "I swear, if there had been any other way..."
She rubbed her face against his chest. "I know, but I'm still so angry at you. I hate being ambushed. I hate not..."
"Not being in control?"
"Yes. No....that's not what I was going to say. I was going to say that I hate not being with you."
His breath caught. She was distracted by a momentary thought that ghosts didn't need to breathe, did they? But then he was speaking again. "I hate it, too, Aeryn." Softly.
And suddenly he was gone.
She found herself leaning against the back wall, tears streaming down her face. Again. So there was nothing left to do, except stand on the ledge of her room, screaming out into the grey, endless twilight of that haunted planet. "Crichton! Crichton!"
It felt good, for just those microds, to go a little bit mad.
Section 47.878.8(i) [Field Stripping - continued]
6. Gently lift the power source from the handle, making sure that you do not directly touch the yellow section of the housing.
7. Clean the power chamber and replace the power source.
8. Slide out the receiver pivot pin from the trigger assembly and check the contact points. Make sure that the settings match your personal fire rate...
22. Remove the final casing, and layout all the pieces of the pistol, and inventory to ensure nothing is missing.**
It would seem to be her fate to lose everyone twice. Her father, lost to her as a child, and then resurfacing, even though she had always known, in the deepest reaches of her soul that this creature wasn't in any way related to her. She was too tired to figure out how he'd rigged the DNA reader, she only knew that it was rigged. But she decided to play along, simply to see where the charade might lead, and because, for just a while, it was a cozy lie to live in.
Watching him die, she experienced a brief, painful spasm in the area where her heart had once been, but it was too late for the grief that Xhalax had so wanted to inflict. What she felt was only a momentary pity for yet another senseless death.
And then there was her mother. That had hurt. Not so much for her death--which Aeryn thought had probably come as a very real relief to her mother, in many ways--but for the wasted life that preceded it.
Xhalax had said, "You live for me." But what do you do with a command like that? Aeryn certainly had no intention to picking up where her mother had left off. But there was something there....some momentary empathy that had sparked between the two women, just before Aeryn released her mother to the inexorable pull of life's gravity.
Aeryn had served on enough missions, in different cultures, to know that mothers and daughters shared a very different relationship on other worlds. She had never really envied that warmer bond. But watching Xhalax fall away, disappear into the chasm below, Aeryn was rocked by a sudden sense of loss. She could feel something being ripped away from her, and suddenly realized that her last living tie to the Peacekeepers was gone.
She was truly an orphan now. Alone.
She turned back to the room, to find Crais watching her. Puzzlement, worry and fear warring in his expression. She simply looked at him, and shook her head, all her cold, empty rage evident in her eyes. He nodded, and then left the room, closing the door silently behind him.
She climbed back into the room, slumped in the chair, and spent an eternity thinking about nothing at all.
The ache in her hand finally roused her. She realized that at some point she'd picked up her pistol, and was gripping it so hard her circulation had been restricted, and hand was shaking. She eased her fingers open, and carefully placed the weapon back on the table.
They had all been ripped away from her, once, twice, several times. Crichton, her mother, the Peacekeepers, her father, Zhaan. She been thrust into strange new territory, and had adopted survival strategies that built on what she had been taught, and then gradually, she'd strayed further and further from those beginnings.
She had been tested, and failed. She had surrendered to the anarchy of love and emotion that Crichton had offered, and she'd found a sanctuary of sorts, but it was so flimsy. So temporary.
She had abandoned the discipline of a lifetime, and look where it had landed her.
One of the earliest lessons that commandos are taught is that if you get lost, you retrace your steps to the beginning. She looked over at the pistol on the table. Her hand was completely steady as she picked it up.
**Peacekeeper Code Section 47.878.8(i) [Field Stripping - continued] 23. Reassemble the weapon in the reverse order of disassembly. **
"You have to go now." She was speaking to him, but really to herself. The pulse pistol slid into the thigh-holster with a small click, and she felt a momentary sense of peace. Completeness.
She left the clothes she'd bought on the floor next to the bed where her "father" had died. She left behind everything.
She never looked back, not even when the Seer had made that final, tauntingly promising offer. You don't look back when the next mission is here, and it was time to walk out of the hotel, back to her ship, to fly back to Talyn, and eventually to reunite with Moya, where the final cruel test would await.
And that test was harder than she'd imagined. For just a moment, stepping off Talyn's stairs, to the familiar dock of Moya, she'd forgotten. She'd almost dropped the bag she was holding, and thrown herself into the waiting man's arms. But he wasn't her Crichton. He was...John. He was the other, and she greeted him, only to test her voice, to see that it would work, and she had managed to keep moving, keep walking, until she was far enough away that she couldn't hear him, see him, smell him.
Until she was safe within the bunker of her room.
It was harder than she'd imagined to serve next to him, to share meals, to work side-by-side, and to know that it was him, but not him, and to keep her resolve to be strong. It would be easy, so easy, to reach out, to touch the familiar skin, to see the familiar smile, to experience the familiar, and longed-for heat. Until, in unforgiving random moments, she was assaulted again by the pain of pure loss at Crichton's death, and she knew that she'd made the right decision.
It was harder than she'd imagined. And she began to wonder if she'd have to leave Moya. Go away from him, away from the memories that lurked around every turn. She wasn't sure she could manage this impossible situation. But she had returned to what she was, what she had been born to be - a soldier. And soldiers carry out their mission without regard to personal feelings. Personal feelings had no place in either training or on an assignment.
But then, he declared his crusade against Scorpius, and she found that she had a choice to make, and it was not the easy one; but life rarely hands you easy decisions. So she found herself crossing to stand next to him, to take her place in this impossible fight. The heart is also a weapon, and Crichton, all the Crichtons, would have the heart of a soldier next to him in all the battles in between.
Author's notes: This is my first venture into this fanficdom, and I'm still relatively new to this fandom altogether. All constructive feedback is most welcome. Thanks for reading. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org