Spoilers: "The Way We Weren't"
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Notes: A speculative episode tag for "The Way We Weren't." There is also a connection with my story "What Not to Expect When..." Thanks to Kitsah for beta reading.
Aeryn Sun lay in her bed staring at the ceiling. Once again a torrent of thoughts filled her mind, keeping her from sleeping. She hadn't had a good night's rest since Chiana's discovery of the recording over a weekan ago.
She felt an overwhelming sense of shame - for coldheartedly joining in the killing of a defenseless, guiltless sentient being; for what she did to Velorek; for even being a Peacekeeper in the first place.
For not having the courage to release everything I keep bottled up inside....
Old habits die hard, she reminded herself. Hadn't John told her that? Somehow his attempt at an explanation for some of her behavior traits now struck her as nothing more than a hollow rationalization, an excuse for her weaknesses.
Why do I hold all these feelings in? What am I afraid of? He knows all of my secrets now, anyway... except the one....
Pain, horrible pain. Never in her seventeen cycles had she ever experienced anything even remotely like it.
Slowly, very slowly, the darkness eased and she could make out blurs moving about her prone form.
"Cadet Sun, can you hear me?" one of the figures eventually asked.
Not trusting her ability to speak, she tried to nod her head, only to be met with a sharp pain and the realization that her entire body had been immobilized.
"Don't try to move!" the voice told her emphatically. "Your injuries are very severe. It's amazing you survived."
Survived? Survived what? It was just a training mission.
Another darker blur joined the group around her.
"Is she fit to answer questions yet?" it asked gruffly.
"You can try, sir, but I don't guarantee anything. She has a significant concussion. She may not remember anything at all."
She could make out that the new blur was now looking at her.
"Cadet Sun, I am from Investigation," he said slowly and distinctly. "What can you tell me about what happened?"
"Happened?" she managed to croak.
"Yes, you were participating in a group exercise. Something happened. None of the recorders survived it. We need you to tell us what it was."
At his prompting it began to come back to her.
The three of them had been doing drills... formation strafing runs using a small asteroid as the target. She had been last in the formation - just off and behind Asharah's right wing, just as Asharah was off Tauvo's.
"We were on our fourth sweep," she told her interrogator. "Everything was normal... and then I was here."
"Try harder, Aeryn. We know that Cadet Crais indicated he had some sort of problem, but his transmission was too garbled for us to make out more than that. We'd ask him but he is still unconscious and probably will be for some time."
Aeryn searched her thoughts. "I believe I remember now," she said hesitatingly. "Tauvo said he was having problems with a thruster. He overcompensated... and swerved into Asharah... and I guess they both rammed into me."
We're frelling lucky to be alive.
"How is Asharah?"
"She was killed instantly, Cadet."
Aeryn felt the tear run down into her hair. She hadn't cried over Asharah in a long, long time.
The best friend I've ever had.
If only that had been the end of it.
Aeryn was sitting up in her infirmary bed when they entered - one of the Med Techs and a woman in an unfamiliar uniform.
"This is Cadet Sun," the Tech told the woman. "As you can see, she's made excellent progress in just two weekans."
"Yes, young and strong - just what we're looking for. Are you sure she won't be ready for active duty for the better part of a cycle?"
"Given the damage to her leg - almost certainly."
Aeryn got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach as the woman regarded her.
"Greetings, Cadet. I'm Matron Thavl."
"Procreation is assigned." I should never have told him that. He's not stupid. Given my age he may have already started to wonder.
Aeryn hobbled into the Matron's office. I hate this leg brace. If I ever find the designer - he's dead.
"Cadet Sun reporting as ordered," she said, doing her best to come to attention.
"Excellent news, Cadet. You're carrying twins!"
Aeryn was horrified. If that's the case, I'll probably be permanently consigned here.
Aeryn got up from her bed, made her way slowly to the terrace and sat down on the warm floor. After a few minutes a DRD came up beside her.
"Are you alright, Officer Sun?" came Pilot's voice.
Officer... How much that meant to me then.
The haze of the anesthesia was slowly lifting. "It makes delivery less traumatic," they had told her.
Liars. They just want us to never see them... touch them... be mothers for them - even for an instant.
Heartbreaking as it was, in some ways it was a distinct relief.
A Matron entered her field of view. "So," Aeryn asked, "Have I been permanently assigned here yet?"
"No, and you will not be, Officer Sun. You have done your duty here and will now be returned to active status."
"Even after twins?"
"One of them was deemed unfit for survival."
That news, too, had been something of a relief. It gave her back her life.
Some life... murder... enslavement... torture.
Aeryn heard soft footsteps behind her.
Not him. Not now.
"Aeryn?" came Zhaan's soft voice. "Pilot asked me to come up here when you didn't answer him." The Delvian knelt next to her. "I know these last few days have been very hard on you. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"No, unfortunately, what's on my mind right now is something none of us can do anything about."
"Very well, then, Aeryn," answered Zhaan in the imperious tone she took on when she was sure someone else was making a mistake. "I will leave you to your solitude."
After she was gone Aeryn looked back up at the stars.
Out there somewhere... you and Talyn both.
D'Argo's lucky. At least he knows who to look for and where to start.