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Season 3 Monster Remix
Writing
misaditas wrote in misaditas_fic
Characters: Bialar Crais, Aeryn Sun, John Crichton
Setting: Season 3, Relativity. AU
Rating: PG-13
Summary: “Do it,” Xhalax growls at me. I wonder what she sees in my face, if she thinks the hesitation is for her. It is not.

All the stars drip down like butter,
Promises are sweet,
We hold out our pans,
Lift our hands to catch them.
Lift them up, lift them up
Up, up, up
~ Let Me In; R.E.M.



Crichton has dragged Aeryn away. I can hear them moving away over the sound of my ragged breathing. It’s hot, the air still and heavy, and the wound in my shoulder burns.

I look down at Xhalax Sun.

She stares at me, the Peacekeeper hardness not quite covering the fear in her eyes. There is nothing of her daughter in this woman’s face, nothing that gives me the slightest hesitation about her loyalties. Released she will continue to track us. She will find us and try this again. There is no choice, no one other than myself to follow this action through.

Aeryn is not going to be the one to kill her mother.”

Crichton had been adamant and for once I agree with him; Aeryn should not do this. She could. Xhalax might doubt her but I do not. I know she would have pulled the trigger, as surely as I know she would not be able to live with herself afterwards.

You want her dead? Fine, you do it.”

I wish the leader of the Retrieval Squad dead, to a degree I wish Xhalax Sun dead. But I do not wish to kill Aeryn’s mother. Yet I must.

“Do it,” Xhalax growls at me. I wonder what she sees in my face, if she thinks the hesitation is for her. It is not. I would kill her without thought for the danger she offers to Talyn and I.

My silent count reaches a hundred. She will never forgive me this. Never.

I pull the trigger.

The shot sounds loudly, frightening birds from the trees in a sudden flap of wings. Neither that nor the echo of the pulse blast is enough to drown the cry of grief. I close my eyes at the sound of Aeryn’s pain.

Silence falls again.

I open my eyes and look down. Part of me is detached, noting the precision of the shot that claimed Xhalax’s life. Another part of me recoils at what I have done. I can remember Aeryn’s face as the recording played, the sight of her younger self. She remembered her mother’s face.

As I remember mine.

The worse thing is that I understand with painful clarity Aeryn’s grief. I have done to her what was done to me. I can claim nothing, not even the necessity of the act.

A rustle of undergrowth makes me look up. Crichton, Aeryn welded to his side, enters the clearing and takes in the scene with cold blue eyes. He glares at me, silently accusing.

“Get Stark,” I order. “We’ll take the body for a burial in space.” My words trip slightly and my gaze flashes to Aeryn’s face. She is pale but composed.

She pulls away from Crichton and starts across to where Xhalax lies still. He tries to grab her arm but she shakes him off without a look. I do not move. I watch her kneel slowly, lean forward and close the blankly staring eyes and I curse the fact that did not occur to me.

“Aeryn,” I say softly.

“A burial in space is fitting,” she interrupts calmly. She stands again and looks at me. She seems calm, looks composed, but her eyes are as dead as her mother’s. “It was necessary.”

Words fail me. I simply nod dumbly and watch her return to Crichton’s side. He looks lost, uncertain as to what to do or say.

“Stark,” I remind him.

He nods and leads Aeryn away. I sink to the ground.

It could be microts or an arn later that Stark finally arrives. I do not know. I watch him kneel as Aeryn had done and waves his hands over the body. “There is nothing left,” he murmurs. “Nothing to cross over. She is gone.”

“I know.” My voice sounds hollow. Stark looks up at me.

“You killed her?”

“I… did what was necessary.” If I keep saying that, I might yet believe it.

“Will it stop them?”

Hauling myself to my feet I feel the pull of sore muscles and skin tightening around the wound. “I will,” I say. “Take her to Talyn. Arrange the body for a burial in space. I am going to find the Marauder. Access Xhalax’s files. I can send a report to High Command.” I pause, feeling the weight of my decisions alongside the gravity. “It will only fool them for a time, but hopefully enough for us to get further away. To hide our trail better.”

Stark nods, and then bends to gather Xhalax up. “I hope it was worth it,” he says and walks away.

I shake my head. It was. It wasn’t. For a little while the danger of Retrieval Squads has passed, but Aeryn’s mother is dead, killed by my hand. Worth it? I highly doubt it.

The Marauder is half an arn’s walk. It’s enough of a trek for my exhaustion to multiply, the feeling of guilt increasing exponentially. There are signs of the crew everywhere aboard the ship, everyday, normal things that grind home what I have done.

I cannot bring myself to sit, but access the controls as I stand. The codes are right there and it takes me microts to fabricate a message and send it into space. It will take time to High Command to intercept it, more time for them to realise that Xhalax is not returning and that we have escaped.

As I leave the ship, I briefly consider destroying it. But setting explosives will take time and I am tired. And it will not achieve a great deal. So I leave it as I leave the bodies of the Colartas.

Silence and devastation greets me on Talyn. Xhalax has taken a cold-hearted approach to retrieving her prize and as I survey the damage I’m briefly assaulted by a vicious pleasure that she is dead. That lasts only as long as it takes my gaze to fall on Aeryn’s face.

Grief at her loss wars with horror at what has been done here. She flinches as she meets my eyes and I shake my head – it is hardly her place to feel guilty at being unable to prevent what we fought to do.

Crichton hovers, uncertain, but there is little he can do. Nor Aeryn either. I sigh and begin to assess the extent of the damage. It is severe, but not insurmountable. It will, however, take time we can ill afford.

“How bad is it?” Crichton asks.

“Bad enough,” I reply. “But he can take off. Once we are in space I will… undertake what is necessary to repair him.”

“Necessary,” he mutters and I swallow. I’m using that word too much. Aeryn glances at him and then at me.

“I’ll help,” she says. Crichton frowns and for a moment I think he’ll argue.

“I’ll… go and see how Rygel’s doing,” he says instead and leaves.

I watch him go and then look at Aeryn. “You don’t need to,” I say. “Go and rest.”

She shakes her head, her back stiffening as she walks to one of the consoles. “I’d rather… not. How is he? Really?”

“In a fair amount of pain and confused. Xhal- much of his higher functions were severed. It is only going to magnify the problems he was already having.”

“I’m sorry.”

The apology hits me harder than if she’d slapped me. “Aeryn, don’t,” I grate. “It does not need… not when I…”

“Did what had to be done,” she interjects. She looks at me and there is no anger in her eyes, only sadness and a bitter understanding. “I knew that when I chose to come along, from the moment you told me she was heading the Retrieval Squad.”

I let her words wash over me. They do little to ease the guilt I feel. “I would have done anything other than what I did. If there was another way…”

Aeryn offers me a faint smile. “But there wasn’t. At least I have the memory. That is something. And we gave her a chance, Crais. That’s all we ever could do.”

“I know.” I rub my forehead, pulling my shoulder and I wince.

“You ought to get Stark to treat that,” she notes then, her tone almost normal.

“I’ll treat Talyn first,” I say.

“How?”

“He’s lost something of his personality,” I tell her, still scanning the data. “I plan to attempt to share some of my neural engrams. It’s a little risky, for both of us, but there is little choice.”

I sigh then; there seems to be little choice to anything I do of late.

“You’d take the risk anyway.”

There is a soft certainty to Aeryn’s tone and I look round. She gives me a small, sad smile and suddenly I cannot breathe. I don’t want her to be like this with me; I want her angry, not calming accepting.

She must catch my expression because her shoulders straighten and the smile dies. I see the microt she clamps down on her emotions, closes me out. I lift a hand to reach out but my mind helpfully reminds me that hand killed her mother and I drop it again.

“Do you need help with whatever it is you plan?” she asks coolly.

“No.”

“Then I’m going to go find John.” She walks out and nothing I can say will stop her leaving.

I sink to the deck, preparing the necessary link between Talyn and myself, operating automatically, my fingers numb. I connect the link.

Talyn is in pain, his thought processes confused, his senses dulled by the evisceration of his systems. This will take time. I settle my back against the curve of the bulkhead and close my eyes.

I see Xhalax’s as she stares up at me and jolt upright. I take a deep breath and push all the memories to one side. Concentrate on the parts of Talyn’s psyche and try again.

Awareness of myself drops away. My own pain and grief mutes as I sink into the warm familiarity of his consciousness, loose myself there. I mentally pick up the severed threads and imagine them reconnecting, tracing the trails of systems and synapses as I repair the damage.

I am Talyn and even though he is hurting and confused it is a glorious moment. My senses are his and I can feel the coldness of space against my skin, contrasting with the warmth of the sun’s ray. I feel the pull of gravity from the planet below, the lure of the stars.

Pain brings me to myself. I open my eyes to find Aeryn knelt at my side and my jacket on the floor as she treats the wound in my shoulder. I am not certain of how much time has passed but it is enough at least that my mouth is dry.

“Aeryn,” I murmur.

Her gaze flicks to mine, and then back to the task at hand. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

She might not have done, but she has. On several levels.

“What are you doing?” I ask, bemused by her actions. She gives me a quizzical look.

“You’re wounded,” she points out unnecessarily. “It’ll become infected if someone doesn’t treat it.”

“Well yes, but why…”

“Why me?” she supplies. “After what you did?”

It’s off-hand, careless, as if all I did was make a minor mistake. She has not paused in her treatment and her touch is gentle. I pull away.

“Yes after what I did. Aeryn.” I grind her name out and she looks up at me. Her expression is passive but I cannot feel it is merely a mask. I fight the temptation to shake her hard. “I killed your mother.”

“You neutralised a treat,” she returns.

“It’s not that simple!”

“Yes it is.” Her eyes flash but the emotion is banked before they ignite fully. “I said I would not allow them to divide my loyalties. That does not change because Xhalax is dead.”

She is distancing herself from the events, from her loss.

“Aeryn,” I try.

“My ties to the Peacekeepers are now severed entirely.” I close my eyes at that finality. Aeryn. A hand closes around my arm. “So sit still and let me do this.”

“Stark can do it.”

She shakes her head slightly. “Stark has seen Zhaan,” she tells me, her tone dry. “While he was saving Rygel, so he says. He’s busy communing with spirits.”

I look at her again. She is calmly cleaning the wound, her gaze steady as her hands.

“I’m sorry.” The words are out before I can stop them. She freezes and I want to take them back. An apology doesn’t even begin to cover what I have done.

“I know,” she says and meets my gaze. “I realise that. But there wasn’t another choice Bialar.”

The way she says my name hits me harder than the bitterest rebuke and I flinch.

“Don’t. You should not have to understand this Aeryn.”

“You do not need to feel so guilty,” she returns. “We agreed–”

“What we agreed was before I shot your mother in cold blood,” I snap, strangely annoyed that she is not angrier with me, that she accepts this so matter-of-factly.

“Stop it.” Her tone is hard. “Stop making this about you.”

“I’m not, I’m making it about us.”

She snorts. “There is no us, Bialar.”

“I meant in terms of a crew,” I tell her, not quite believing that myself. Her lips twitch.

“Of course you did.”

I grab her wrist. “You stop it. I had family, Aeryn. I know what it is to loose that.” She glares at me, angry for a microt. I push on. “Stop pretending that all is well, because it’s not.”

“It hasn’t been since the Retrieval Squad was sent out,” she says softly.

“I should never have shown you that chip–” I get no further because she slaps my face, her eyes suddenly blazing.

“Never,” she hisses. “I will never regret that. You gave her back to me.”

“And then took her away.”

She opens her mouth, but then grief clouds her face and she sags back, sitting on her ankles, lost. “It had to be done,” she says doggedly. “Look at what she did.” She waves a hand that takes in Command and the damage done. “She did not hesitate to do that, Bialar. Not even with me pleading with her to consider her actions. She would have stripped Talyn right back, would have captured us all and dragged us in. She would have handed me over without pause. You said it yourself – a mindless assassin. That was all she was.”

“She was your mother.”

“Was, once. Not now. My mother died when the Peacekeepers forced her to decide between her lover and her daughter.”

I flinch at that. “I didn’t know.”

“She told me and I have no reason to suspect she lied. But the fact remains. Stop thinking about who you killed, but what she was and why you did it.”

I look away, my gaze falling on the viewscreen and the endless black of space, the gleam of distant stars. Focus on the sun and think of the one thing left to do before we leave this place for good.

“Do you wish me at the burial then?”

She touches my cheek, her fingers running gently over where she hit me. “I do. John doesn’t understand why but…”

“I do.”

“I know.”

“Aeryn…”

She smiles but places a finger over my lips. “Enough,” she says gently, but her tone is final. “Let it go.”

Sighing, I remove her hand, hold it for a microt and she squeezes my fingers a little. Then she stands and brushes herself down.

“You’ll live,” she announces. I snort.

“To die another day,” I say wryly. “We manage it somehow, don’t we?”

She eyes me. “Are you truly sorry?”

“Yes.” I almost gasp it. “Of course I am.”

“Right. Then get up, stop being so fatalistic and for the love of Cholak go and change because you stink of swamp.”

I stare at her for a microt and then laugh. It is harsh, disbelieving, but it loosens something within me.

“Fine,” I grumble and scramble to my feet.

Half an arn later and she stands watching the casket that holds her mother’s body drop into the sun. It is over, for the moment. Crichton has one arm around her waist and she leans against him, her face calm.

Crichton glances at me, his eyes hard. Aeryn is right and he does not understand why she wishes me here. But I know, understand that need, and his furious glare is not enough that I will let her down.

Rygel and Stark shuffle out. I turn to leave but she stops me, a hand on my arm.

“I haven’t thanked you,” she murmurs. I stare at her, aware of the disbelieving look on Crichton’s face.

“Whatever for?”

“You know,” she says simply. Her eyes are clear. Because I did what was necessary. Because she was not forced to witness.

“I couldn’t have allowed it,” I tell her honestly. “Crichton was right. For once.”

“Hey!” he complains and Aeryn chuckles. She takes his arm.

“You don’t understand,” she tells him.

Crichton looks at me. “And he does, I suppose?”

“I do,” I say.

“Peacekeepers,” he sniffs.

“Not any longer.” Aeryn and I manage it in almost unity and I look away to hide my smile.

“My repairs to Talyn are almost complete enough for him to navigate. I expect to have that finished within the arn.”

“Well that’s… good.” Crichton seems edgy and he looks from Aeryn to me and back again. He really doesn’t understand, but I am confident in her ability to explain it so I leave her to do so.

I still feel guilty but that is better than watching Aeryn self-destruct because she killed Xhalax. It is better than watching her relationship with Crichton fall apart because he did it.

She understands, probably better than I wish her to why I did it. Why I was willing to face her anger and contempt.

It is enough, it seems, for her to let it go.

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