Chapter Three - One And One Squares Nil

The transport was cutting through the blackness of space with all possible speed. Moya was anchoring too near the planet with the Gammak Base, and with all the luck turning bad in the past weekens, John had the mild suspicion that the Base was still manned. He didn't want to threaten Moya's safety one bit.

Who am I kidding here? he thought to himself. I feel the rattlers and it's not a good sign! And I've Aeryn to think of, what if she ran into PK's which were under Crais' command? Would they recognise and harm her?

John rubbed his eyes wearily with one hand and sighed. Man, no use to think about WHAT could happen, he reminded himself, first of all they had to find Aeryn and work from there.

D'Argo seemed to be dozing beside him but John was certain, the Luxan was already making a plan, going through all possible set-ups for getting Aeryn back on Moya. The Human was glad, he had the Luxan with him, this way, he would not be prone to stumble into some sort of Fort Alamo scenario - hopefully.

In unison they had agreed to return to Moya in order to make plans. But first they had to determine, whether the base was manned or not. John was about to take a quick dive over the planet, when Pilot's voice was coming over the comm.

"John?" he inquired and Crichton let out a short "Yeah, Pilot".

"John, it appears that a command carrier is heading into this vicinity. Moya thinks that the carrier will be reaching the star system in approximately 15 arns." Pilot's voice seemed calm but there was an undertone of fear in it.

"Can Moya determine what kind of Command Carrier it is?" John asked and watched D'Argo listening intently.

"At this point, no ..." Pilot answered, hesitating slightly. "Moya and I think that we have approximately 8 arns before they can detect us - at the moment the solar activity is covering our presence here."

"Thanks, Pilot, we keep that in mind," D'Argo said and stared at John. "Shall we take a quick look around? If we find the base empty we do not need the others, we just pick up Aeryn and that's it," he said.

The rattlers were more evident than ever but not heeding their warning, John nodded, "Downside, big guy!"

Albeit unknown to D'Argo and John, Aeryn prayed that her crewmates were not looking for her. Her ex-crewmembers of the Icarion Company, Pleisar Regiment had been restless and more than once one or two had strolled along and singled her out. She could take it, so much was sure, but she had to protect Jo'thee as well and she didn't want to draw more attention to the young Luxan as she already had.

She cautiously touched her shoulder and winced when her examining fingers touched the bruises and open wound. She hung her head for a moment to catch her breath. If I make it out of here, I'll take a long soaking warm bath, she thought and a fleeting smile touched her split lips.

She was pulled out of her reverie when she noticed that Kentak was coming their way, swinging one of the shorter jinka poles in his hand non-chalantly. Aeryn tensed momentarily, then relaxed and tucked the old sheet around the young Luxan who was sleeping beside her, oblivious to the danger coming their way. She crouched and moved a bit further away from Jo'thee when she met the Illanics icy stare. The old man was huddled in one corner, shivering at the cold.

"You could have fooled me, Peacekeeper, but you truly care for the child," he muttered and both paused, silently communicating their understanding.

"I'll do anything to keep him safe and return him to his father," Aeryn whispered and stood up. Kentak had already opened the door, motioning her forward.

"Peacekeeper?" Aeryn stilled herself when she heard the Illanics' voice. "May the gods be with you ..."

Aeryn inclined her head once then stepped over to where Kentak was standing. She noticed he had been drinking, his breath reeking of Fellip nectar and other alcoholic beverages.

Bloodshed eyes tried to focus on Aeryn, but Kentak had drunk too much. He wasn't even sure why he had summoned her outside the camp, only the urge to punish her for all the things that had been done to him in the last two cycles were too strong to be ignored. Something snapped right there, he raised the jinka pole and struck down on Aeryn.

She had seen it coming, had prepared herself for this but the heavy snow beneath her boots made her movements more sluggish. She ducked and wanted to turn her injured shoulder away, but the snow made her movements less than nimble. The jinka pole crashed down onto her left shoulder, momentarily taking her by surprise.

Aeryn jack-knived but tried to scramble out of his reach. Momentarily, she could only see bright light as the pain surged through her body, her soul, her whole self. Gathering her thoughts and focusing them away from the pain, she applied an upward jab to Kentak's abdomen, increasing the distance between herself and her opponent.

"You have been exercising, Aeryn ... good!" Kentak grinned viciously as he held his free hand to his stomach.

"Kentak, don't do this. You know you cannot win in the state you are in!" Aeryn sneered and readied for more. With effort she raised to her full height, breathing through her mouth and trying to ignore the flames of pain in her left side.

Kentak smiled, then shook his head. "You know, I really thought we were friends, but the first chance you get you balk. That is not the Peacekeeper way, traitor," he wheezed and attacked again.

Aeryn reacted purely on instinct, she dispelled all memory of Kentak, her friend and brother in arms, the only image she considered worth remembering was this drunk Peacekeeper who attacked her. The kicks and strikes came in quick succession and with all Fellip Nectar induced Sebaceans, Kentak soon slowed down. He was lucky, Aeryn was not fighting him with all her might. If she had been alone, had not to consider the other prisoners, especially not Jo'thee, she would have killed him, or being killed herself by trying. Kentak's face was only a bloody pulp when she heard someone coming up behind her and she raised her hands over her head to show the Peacekeeper that she was unarmed and willing to surrender.

"Get up, Aeryn," Ash's voice had an eerie ring in the snow-filled air. Slowly, Aeryn rose from Kentak's body and turned around slowly, facing her former friend.

"You could have killed him ..." Ash stated and waited for an explanation. Aeryn shook her head.

"So you have a chance to get rid of me comfortably? Not a chance, Ash!" Aeryn rasped, the rush of the adrenaline of the fight still surging through her body though it was lessening and she could feel the pain as well, dull at first but slowly increasing.

Ash nodded. "You are right, we would have killed you. But then we would be in even deeper dren as we are in right now. Scorpius is in orbit and he wants to see you unharmed."

A shudder went through Aeryn's body, grasping her heart with an unrelenting fist. Scorpius, the name filled her with dread. She knew what this beast was capable of, she had seen John almost broken and torn from his experience in the Aurora Chair.

Ash had motioned with her rifle to the gate behind which the prisoners were held. Silently, she walked Aeryn to them and locked her in. Aeryn grabbed the fence with both her hands and watched Ashareq. When the Peacekeeper was about to turn and see to her commanding officer, Ashareq raised her mitted hand to the fence and lightly touched Aeryn's hand.

"He will be here shortly, Aeryn. So gather your strength..." she simply stated before she walked off and hauled Kentak to his feet.

Aeryn closed her eyes and her forehead touched the ice-cold steel of the fence.

The pod was flying low over the landscape, almost touching the snowdrifts when D'Argo was too slow to raise the craft. They had started in the Northern parameter of the planet, eventually widening their search pattern to the Southern hemisphere as well. A bleep on the controls told them that the base was only a couple of hundred metras further away from their current position.

Also another bleep was appearing on the view screen and after a quick check, John frowned.

"Pilot, when was it the command carrier is supposed to arrive?" he asked into the combadge and after a while Pilot's voice wavered over to them.

"The command carrier is still five arns away but it appears two prowlers have been issued and they are advancing quickly toward the planet's surface..."

"Thanks for telling us, Pilot," John answered sarcastically and shot D'Argo a glance.

"We should go back to Moya and device a plan, John," D'Argo said. John noticed that even the Luxan had come a long way - only two arns ago D'Argo would have charged into the base and would have taken on every single Peacekeeper in and above the base ... but not anymore. D'Argo had his own agenda now, finding and protecting his son Jo'thee. John had wondered over the last two cycles how much he and his friends had changed, all of them had one or more skeletons in their closets but they had formed some sort of gung-ho hate to love kind of family. Devising a plan, coming from D'Argo told him they had all changed.

John nodded and carefully picked a flightcorridor far away from the advancing prowlers. He knew he could not do anything without the support of the others and it would have been sheer madness and suicide to go after Aeryn right now. Still, the thought of her being down there in this ice-cold hell made his stomach churn. And all because you couldn't keep your mouth shut, John Robert IDIOT Crichton, he berated himself silently.

Scorpius walked through the snow towards the fence. He was close to happy, not too happy but content that he had the means to get John Crichton finally into his hands again. When the call had come from this godforsaken planet with its dying sun, he had felt a surge of excitement coursing through his body, a feeling that he had only felt when he had questioned John. He even had to take a tranquilliser - something which was unheard of the Scarren.

In a few arns time his equipment would arrive and until then he wanted to see for himself that these Peacekeeper grunts indeed had captured Aeryn Sun, traitor and irreversible contaminated defector.

Niem shivered beside him and he shot her glance, nodding quietly and the female made her way back to the barracks. Scorpius on the other hand advanced towards the fence and his eyes darted from one prisoner to the other. His gaze completely mesmerised, he watched the Sebacean woman with her long dark pony tail and the heavy Peacekeeper Special Ops uniform who had stepped quietly and simply into his line of vision. A young Luxan bantling was hiding behind her and she had encircled his shoulders protectively. Scorpius grinned.

Aeryn Sun, defector, and traitor, is in my hands! he told himself before he swung around and made his way quickly to the barracks.

"Who was that? He looks scary!" Jo'thee whispered and Aeryn looked down on him.

"He is a Scarren, a half-breed. Stay away from him!" she demanded more harshly than she had intended. Aeryn bend over to meet the young Luxan's gaze. "I mean it, Jo'thee. If this man will come toward you - RUN!"

"And why did you look at him? You didn't seem to be scared?" Jo'thee asked confused.

"Because I know that he wants me, it is simple as that. I'm scared but if I show him that, it would give him the ultimate victory. You should heed my advice, young Luxan. There's a time for being brave and there's a time for being sensible. And I'm sensible enough to be frelling scared." Aeryn herself mused about her words. Two arns ago she would have not been sensible enough, she would have bravely challenged Scorpius in her old Peacekeeper way, but not anymore.

The young Sebacean shook her head at her silent reverie. John was right, I can be much more, she thought and a faint smile crept on her lips. Without realising it I've changed a great deal, thanks to my friends. I never thought that this was possible - to find friends I'd kill and die for.

John was packing enough cartridges into the pockets of his leather coat as to keep Winona and Naomi busy for more than five arns. When they had returned to Moya, the first thing John had done was to go into Aeryn's cell and get the sidearm. He had never used it, but had watched Aeryn and was fairly sure with a bit of practice he was able to master the gun.

Shut up, Johnny boy, practice and time is not something you exactly have, he had told himself and had given D'Argo the gun. Since then, Crichton had stashed Chakhan oil filled cartridges into his pockets and his eyes dashed to and fro for more ammo. He didn't want to run out of ammunition, but on the other hand, if they wanted to fool the Peacekeepers to get in and out of the base, they shouldn't appear to be too loaded with ammo.

John sighed and hesitated for a moment, letting the rattlers coming to the surface again. They had agreed that he should pose as a PK Captain, while D'Argo was his prisoner. Zhaan and Chiana were supposed to be hiding in the cargo hold of the pod and wait till it was night to go looking for Aeryn.

I just hope it all goes smoothly, John told himself and squeezed his eyes shut. I have to keep my head level, then nothing will happen - yeah right as if ... his reverie was disturbed when he heard a different voice inside his head.

Scorpius smiled at John and opened his arms as in greeting.

"Ah John, so good to see you again - do you feel lonely?" Scorpius let out a chuckle and leant against the side of the pod where John was standing.

"Go away, Scorpy, I don't need you here," John muttered under his breath and tried to turn away, but somehow he couldn't - every time Scorpius' unwanted visits happened he had the urge to hear him out.

"But John, you know that we are not enemies, I'm here to help you. Talk to Uncle Scorpius, let me hear little Johnny's woes and aches," Scorpius grinned, or better he grimaced so that it could pass for a grin.

John smirked and shook his head. "Scorpy ... go away! I don't need you right now, just leave!"

Scorpius bowed his head in mock reference and as he was about to turn, he looked John straight into the eye.

"Don't believe, you can get rid of me that easily, John. I'm with you always and as a matter of fact, you are mine, you just don't know it yet! And sooner or later that Peacekeeper defector will be mine as well. In fact, I only have to extend my hand and she will join me in the Aurora Chair ..."

With this Scorpius disappeared and John's blood turned cold.

"John?" Zhaan had entered the transport bay and now watched John silently. Crichton turned and shot her a small weak smile.

"I guess I let the situation carry away with me," he said, rolling his shoulders.

"Was it Scorpius?" Zhaan inquired and Crichton nodded, his softly breathed "Yeah," conveying the pain he felt deeply inside of himself.

Zhaan had put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing slightly.

"We will find her, John and we will find a way to battle Scorpius," she spoke in earnest, but he doubted that her little mantra was going to work, especially on the latter half.

"Yes, Zhaan, we will," he whispered and bent over to place a soft kiss onto her forehead.

Turning away he squeezed his eyes shut. Liar! he told himself and checked his guns.

When the Peacekeepers brought her into what seemed like a clean lab room, a feeling of terror surged through Aeryn's body. She had been here before, when she had rescued John from Scorpius at the secret Gammak Base. In a room like this, she had seen Captain Crais, strapped to, bound and broken in the Aurora Chair and she had submitted her former captain to his memories of deceit and murder.

This is it, then, she thought and while the Peacekeepers, her old regiment even, shoved her in front of the chair, laughter rose in her.

"Move it, traitor," Kentak hissed and gave her another shove so that she stumbled to the ground. Looking up, Aeryn stared at Kentak and the others.

If I had been in their shoes, would I have reacted the same way they did? Would I voluntarily put myself into the command of Scorpius to fulfil some misdirected hatred for an ex crewmember? Aeryn knew the answer, her journey through the uncharted territories had changed her. Perhaps she had been irreversibly contaminated before she had met John and the others by chance, perhaps she had always been different.

"Do you really think, you can intimidate me, Kentak?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and the man had the grace to avert her gaze.

Ah, there was still something from the old Kentak deep inside of him, gentle, almost loving Kentak, who mourned all of their fallen comrades after a battle, Aeryn thought but she was led to revoke her assessment of the man when he butted his rifle into her kidneys.

"Believe it or not, traitor, but if I had any say in this you would be dead where you stand!" he hissed and with a nod of his head he ordered the others to take Aeryn. "But Scorpius wants you alive!"

Aeryn would have laughed if she had been able to muster up the strength to do it, but her mind was still numb from the cold on this icy planet and it had left her with little of what was left of her wonderful Sebacean stamina.

The door opened with an audible hiss and all but one turned to look at the new arrival. Aeryn did not look his way, avoiding his sight as long as she was able to do. John's nemesis, Scorpius, had entered the room.

"Officer Kentak, Special Peacekeeper Commando, Icarian Company, Pleisar Regiment. We have found the traitor." Kentak reported while Aeryn watched him from the corner of her eyes.

She invisibly shook her head. She could not believe that her former comrade in arms behaved the way he did in the presence of the Scarren. So much pain had been caused by him, so much pain issued. Aeryn closed her eyes for a microt. He doesn't know, he is still the happy little Peacekeeper, she thought, unconsciously using one of John's Earth expressions.

The Scarren's voice pulled her out of her reverie and her head snapped up when her former crewmates released her.

"Officer Kentak, I see that Officer Sun is badly hurt, I hope for you and your unit that you are not responsible for that?" Scorpius inquired.

Kentak blanched visibly and Aeryn felt a twinge of regret and pity for him. Like the Peacekeeper commando around her, she tensed, her instincts kicking in as she readied herself for a fight.

She smirked and visibly relaxed. This isn't my fight - not yet!

She could feel the tension rising in the room but all of a sudden Scorpius declined his head and nodded. Relief swept over the Peacekeepers that they were dismissed that easily.

Silence lay heavily on the room like a Sebacean death shroud and it seemed to lengthen with every microt that passed. Aeryn met the Scarren's gaze and shuddered. In this instant, Aeryn knew why Crichton had been so distant to her and the others. This man - this beast - was sheer terror.

"I greet you in my humble abode, Officer Sun," Scorpius said and stepped closer. To see her in real for the first time since the Royal planet, gave him a strange sensation. He had seen so much of her from afar, especially when he had probed John Crichton's mind, that he was quite looking forward to meeting and of course, questioning her up close.

Aeryn on the other hand did not look forward to be questioned by him. She had seen Scorpius' victims and she was not sure if she could withstand him as well as John had - and even he had not come away unscathed.

"You are an exceptional being, Officer Sun," Scorpius said and Aeryn cringed when she felt his breath on her skin. He gestured Niem to take off Aeryn's Jacket and vest.

"I have always wondered how an officer like you could slip so easily into the role of a traitor. No Peacekeeper has ever betrayed his commanding officer or turned against him without having been killed in doing so, and yet you, one of the elite regiment of the Pleisar, not only were deemed irreversibly contaminated, you also defied Crais. How does it feel, being a legend in the most repelling sense of the word in Sebacean and Peacekeeper history?"

"I'm not a traitor. When Crais told me ... I was irreversibly contaminated I wanted to live - simple as that ... Someone told me I can be much more than a Peacekeeper, that there is more to life than oppressing lesser lifeforms ..."

"Someone? You underestimate me if you think that I would believe you for one minute," He rose his hand and touched her skin on her naked forearm ever so lightly, his touch making her sick to the stomach.

"We both know who this someone is - and I'm very interested in getting this someone into my custody ..."

"You will never get John into your frelling hands again," Aeryn hissed and tried hard not to charge into him. "I'd rather kill you where you stand ..."

"Oh please, Officer Sun, don't shame the both of us by these pointless threats. You are in no position to issue threats, pleas or demands, Officer Sun!"

Aeryn turned her head away in disgust, when the Scarren was only inches away from her face. His breath made her sick, his sight made her stomach lurch.

"Do you know that when I heard about a prowler having landed here, I thought about you? Nay, I wished, I hoped it was you," he touched her bruised cheek where Kentak had hit her. "Such an exceptional being you are, Aeryn. I know why you mean so much to John ..."

Aeryn tried to ignore the Scarren's voice. I mean much to John? she asked herself, but then she shook herself mentally. Thinking of John won't do me any good. Scorpius' questioning was a cycle ago, he had changed ... I have changed.

"Your silence tells me that you doubt me, Aeryn, but believe me, I do have deeper knowledge, deeper than you ever cared to know about." He motioned Niem to come nearer.

"Why don't you just quit talking and we get this over with?" Aeryn asked, trying not to show any fear.

"Ahhh, ever the efficient Peacekeeper. You know the saying that you can get the Sebacean out of a Peacekeeper but never the Peacekeeper out of a Sebacean? They are right!" Scorpius said and smiled, showing off the metal enforced gums.

"So, if you are so keen on getting into the Aurora Chair, be my guest and let us proceed!" With this, Niem pushed her towards the chair but Aeryn put up a fight.

The Sebacean struggled but a quick pantak jab she should have seen coming, blacked out all conscious thought.

"You are completely tinked if you think I'm going down with all of you!" Chiana said again and tried to sidle away, but Zhaan took a strong hold on her forearm and dragged her along towards the pod.

"Let me be, Zhaan. I'm not going!" Chiana yelled and was spun around forcefully when Zhaan stopped dead in her tracks and faced her.

"I never heard such selfish condescension. Do you think that Aeryn behaved like you do when we rescued you from those stonetaking farputars?" she inquired calmly, too calmly for Chiana's taste.

"I wasn't there, now, was I? So I don't know," smartassed Chiana but grew silent when she felt the danger emanating from the Delvian.

"You will come with us, Chiana, and may the Goddess help you if you screw this up!" And with this Zhaan dragged Chiana along to the transport bay. Rygel had already floated into the transport bay and waited impatiently.

"You better come back in one piece, blue-assed bitch!" he hissed, but the tone was gruff almost loving and Zhaan declined her head.

"We will but try, Rygel," she said and before Rygel could react she had planted a soft kiss onto his brow.

"Get away, Zhaan, I really wish you would stop doing that," Rygel guffawed, but the sad smile on his lips indicated he had not minded at all.

Chiana tilted her head and as if mirroring Zhaan's kiss she pegged Rygel.

"You bet we'll do that, Your Frogness," she laughed and followed Zhaan to the transporter, deeply engrossed into her own minds.

This is all dren, why can't we just leave Aeryn down there and starburst the Hez out of here, she asked herself for the hundredth time. Even though she had gotten used to the ex-Peacekeeper, she wanted the males of the ship all to herself. She had noticed that D'Argo was more concerned for Aeryn's well-being than her own, Chiana's, and that nagged her. And if Aeryn was out of the way, perhaps John would be more inclined to succumb to her seductiveness.

Love! she snorted and climbed into the transport pod.

John was checking the controls when Zhaan and Chiana took their seats. He was still not sure if this plan was going to work and he doubted that they should abandon Moya like this. Pilot and Rygel alone on Moya and all hell could break loose.

After a short moment of hesitation he suddenly swung around in his seat and fixed Zhaan and Chiana with a stare.

"You two better stay on Moya, it can get serious out there, and perhaps we need some medical aid once we make it back to Moya," he said, and shot a glance towards D'Argo as he started to open his mouth. "I don't want them down there! I'll need all my wits about me if we're gonna save Aeryn," he paused and with turning towards Zhaan and Chiana again he added, "And I can't be worrying about you two with the base swarming with Peacekeepers and, besides, you and Pip stick out like a sore thumb. If we need help, we'll contact you!"

Zhaan had heard him out and then nodded her head slowly.

"I know what you mean, John, but with you and D'Argo keeping the Peacekeepers occupied and diverted Chiana and I have a chance to find Aeryn..."

"We don't know if they let themselves be diverted. Last time, those PKs sure didn't went sloppy ...," with a glance at Chiana he added, "Well, not all of them anyway."

"John is right, Zhaan. With the four of us down on the planet's surface, who will look after Moya and most of all who will keep an eye on Rygel?" D'Argo added, and all four grinned.

"He is probably procuring already," Chiana added.

"Then so be it," Zhaan declined her head and bend forward, putting a soft kiss on both men's cheeks, "Be the Goddess protect and guide you." Chiana wasn't that restrained and put a loud, lingering kiss onto D'Argo's mouth, when she was done and turned to John, he held his hands up in front of him.

"I'll pass, Pip. We better get going!"

Aeryn woke up only to find herself being strapped into the contraption she knew from her worst nightmares - she was in the Aurora Chair. Her limbs had been strapped to the contraption and her head was gagged into the seat behind her, the restraints cutting into the skin of her head, biting, maiming her. The room was dimly lit, but for the one huge viewscreen in front of her.

She immediately thought of the time when she had taunted Crais, who had been tortured by the Aurora Chair. Closing her eyes, she had her fate in front of her.

"Ah you are awake, Aeryn Sun," Scorpius greeted her and what went for a smile crossed his scarred face. "I knew you would not turn down my invitation."

"You ... can take your ... invitation and shove it where the sun don't shine..." Aeryn breathed, unconsciously using John's Earth expressions.

Scorpius looked confused till the translator microbes had translated the expression almost correctly. He shrugged and bent over the strapped woman.

"I see your companionship with Commander Crichton has been not all in vain, Peacekeeper. You are almost as amusing as that Human." The Scarren circled the chair and touched lightly, almost gently the viewport in front of Aeryn's face.

"Soon, Officer Sun, we will see what is going on in that little Sebacean irreversibly contaminated head of yours. And you know what, I'm looking forward to share some special moments with you that John Crichton already shared with me. We will be like ... old friends." He smiled.

Aeryn watched him from the corner of her eyes. She had to get out of here, but every time she tried to move, the restraints of the chair bound her closer. She already had no feeling in her hands left as the shackles kept her pinned on the arm rests of the chair.

"We'll never be friends, Scorpy," she said, not even realising she used the same nickname as John.

The Scarren smiled.

"Ah, Officer Sun, you and John have more in common than you think," he noted amused.

"We both know that I have the advantage - I have you as bait. He will come, there is no doubt about that."

Aeryn watched the Scarren then closed her eyes, with all the strength she could find, she shook her head, once, twice, three times. Now it was time to try John's way ... she would keep Scorpius busy - by talking, she thought.

"John won't come for me, Scorpius. You've got the wrong woman," hysterical laughter rose in her throat. "And your chance is gone, Scorpius, you killed Gilina, the Tech Girl, she was the one Crichton loved ..."

"You are lying!" Scorpius interrupted angrily. "I have seen his memories - I know how he felt about that tech girl and I know how much he feels for you, I have seen you on that false Earth of his." Something like a smile appeared on Scorpius face when he saw the terror in Aeryn's eyes. "You were there, perhaps through you, I can get what I want!"

He nodded toward Niem, and she cranked up the controls. Aeryn shuddered when she felt the pain. It was unbound, limitless and horrible. The Sebacean cried out in gasps as she tried to suppress the memory of the false Earth. She didn't want to give in, but the pain surging through her body, every fibre and muscle and brain tissue was overpowering.

I must not give in, she thought, not being able to take the pain that the probing of Scorpius left behind much longer.

The Scarren watched fascinated as Aeryn Sun's memories of the false Earth appeared on the viewport. He had to admit that they were quite as intense as those of John Crichton.

Aeryn's eyes filled with tears when she felt her resolve slipping away. She tried to fight it but like needles, the chair drew the memories from her and with unblinking eyes she watched images of John and herself on the false Earth. When the first images of the safe house appeared she tried to think of something else, tried to push the memories of that special night as far away from conscious thought as possible.

Scorpius had noticed her struggle. He smiled and bent over her, while motioning Niem to stop the chair. Aeryn let out a gasp when the pain subsided and her eyes could focus again on her own without being forced to stare onto the viewport.

"You see, Aeryn, I know what happened in that house. John did not have any apprehensions, you know. Remembering his memories I can almost hear the rain falling against the window ..." Slowly he touched her shoulder with his chin, barely leaving any room between herself and him, mocking the sensuous touches she had so gladly received from John.

"You frelling bastard!" Aeryn hissed but before she could regain her strength, the chair was switched on again and her innermost memories and thoughts were laid out onto the viewport of the Aurora Chair.

Aeryn felt as if her whole body was going to explode, her hands, arms and neck ached while she could not feel anything from her torso downward. All she could do was watch the viewport, watch her memories, remembering every single bit of her life.

Things that she thought she had long forgotten were dragged to the surface again, haunting her, giving her additional emotional pain to the bodily harm she was receiving. She went through the training experiences again, seeing herself as a girl of twelve arns of age, hurting all over, getting abused and her mind broken through bodily harm.

Aeryn groaned, trying to shake the memories, trying to advert her thoughts away from those painful moments of her early life.

Please, she pleaded silently while she tried to fight against the prodding machine. Think, Aeryn, think of something else ... think of... "John!"

The name came out in a stifled cry, a cry for help, for hope, for sanity. Aeryn sobbed uncontrollably and her body was shaking - straining against the restraints holding her down, inflicting more bodily harm on her already bruised body.

Scorpius watched in awe, until the day he had the fortune to have John Crichton strapped to the Chair, he had never encountered a being that had fought him so brilliantly. And now, here it happened again. He wondered if being close to the Alien was the reason for this, that the presence of John Crichton emanated some sort of psychic link. Or perhaps his human mind had contaminated this Sebacean - Scorpius did not know.

"Don't fight me, Aeryn Sun. You know, you cannot succeed," Scorpius' voice was near Aeryn's ear. "And John is not here to help you ..."

"Frell you!" Aeryn muttered, her throat aching from the shout that was bottled up inside of her. She tilted her head slightly, watching the Scarren from the corner of her eyes. What she saw was beyond comprehension, he actually stared at the viewscreen with an expression of utter excitement and joy. She tried to close her eyes but she could not - something - the Aurora Chair - prevented it.

"Tell me, Aeryn Sun, did he do things to you that your fellow Sebaceans had never thought about because they would have been abhorred?" Scorpius asked and his head snapped towards the viewport when he saw her answering thoughts.

Flashes of John and herself filled the viewscreen. Their little encounter in the module, their compatibility kiss and all the small endearments John had showered upon her, his arms around her giving her strength, his touches and compassion and then when her resolve broke, their love making - once - on the false Earth. Aeryn cried, for the first time in arns, she cried and convulsed in sobs.

Scorpius grinned and motioned for the Chair to be switched off. "I can see now, Officer Sun, that you are indeed irreversibly contaminated. Not even I have the power to prevent your terminal retirement in front of a court martial. The Chair never lies."

Chapter One - Binaries | Chapter Two - Singular Connective | Chapter Three - One And One Squares Nil | Chapter Four - Triangular Exceptions | Chapter Five - Deadly Squares