Chapter 9

Linea

Aeryn sat watching her baby, allowing her mind to wander into territory she had previously considered off limits. The past was usually something she tried not to focus on. It was dead and gone and could not be restored or changed. But she still could not help thinking about it.

What if John had never been doubled? That thought rose unbidden in her mind like a bright star rising out of murky waters. Would it have changed the course of events? She drew in a deep breath and held it for a moment. Yes, she decided, it most certainly would have. Even if things had progressed the way they had, there would have been one definite difference between these two realities.

John would still have gone with her on Talyn. There was no doubt about that. But his death would have been final and the mere thoughts this provoked were disturbing at best. She could suddenly see herself plummeting to her death from that ledge on Valdon, following him into eternal darkness or wherever sentient beings went after they died.

But her mind didn't stop there. It went further back, touching on things they had done together, things he had caused, and she realized how much her life and the lives of everyone he touched had changed since he had arrived here in the UTs. If he hadn't come through that wormhole at that exact moment, he wouldn't have caused Crais' brother to die and that would have changed the course of events radically.

She herself would probably still have been a prowler pilot like Henta and all the others would have followed whatever path had been their destinies at the time. She could see the changes John had created by his mere presence snaking out from the main path like golden glittering bands, all twisted and uncontrollable, and the thought that this was fate hit her right then.

It was overwhelming to think that one person could exact so much change just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that was just what John had done. And that was what he had done ever since. His presence in this galaxy was still causing changes like ripples on the surface of disturbed water. In a sense, he was an impressive force with the power of change at his fingertips. He existed despite all odds being against him. He survived impossible ordeals.

For a long moment, all she did was sit there. Her mind had stopped reeling, her thoughts had stopped tumbling over each other. When all came to all, John was still alive and she would have to put the past behind her if she wanted to continue to exist.

She opened her eyes again, blinked a few times to clear her vision, and then focused on her child again. Oh, she wanted to exist. She had John and she had their child. Suddenly, the idea of leaving him, of having to go on without John by her side became unimaginable. This child would have everything she hadn't been given in her life. This little girl, Les-lee, would have both parents and they would love her and raise her to be a strong, independent individual with none of the fears her mother harbored of life on her own. Aeryn would do what Xhalax hadn't been able to. With the Peacekeepers behind her and her lover by her side, there was nothing she couldn't overcome.

A small smile spread over her lips as she rose from her chair and returned to the window. Looking out and up at the sky, the smile continued to cling to her lips. "That's what you meant, wasn't it?" she whispered. "He should give me time so I would see the truth." Pressing her fingertips to her lips, she closed her eyes to feel her dead lover close to her one more time before she could finally let him go and turn to the one that was still there. The same man with the same, beautiful mind.

***

A few arns later, the door opened and Aeryn looked up, half expecting it to be John. But it was the doctor instead. He smiled as he stepped into the room, putting her immediate worries at ease.

"So, how are you doing?" he asked and briefly checked the readout and the gauges on the artificial womb.

"I'm doing fine," Aeryn replied and rose. "How is she doing?"

"Just fine. Her growth, what little there has been of it over the past few days, is progressing nicely," he replied and turned around to face her. "You know, Aeryn, you don't have to sit here and watch her grow," he added. "This child could take as much as four or five monans to complete its growth cycle."

Aeryn eyed him for a moment, and then glanced at the baby. That would be a long time to sit around and wait. "Well ... what am I supposed to do in the meantime?" she asked a little hesitantly.

"I'm sure you'll find something to do. Rest assured that your child is in good hands. We do this all the time, as you can see," the doctor replied, nodding toward the other artificial wombs. "The other mothers won't come back until their children are ready to hatch."

Aeryn made a face. There was that word again. With a slight sigh, she shook off the annoyance and returned her attention to the doctor. "I'll stay until John comes back. He will be looking for me here," she said.

The doctor nodded. "Why don't the two of you take a nice, long vacation until the child is ready to hatch? Save up some energy for the rather time-consuming job it is to take care of an infant. And with this one, there's no telling how long it will be a little baby. You may want to confer with your mate about that if you don't know."

Aeryn started at the word 'mate'. There was something about the ring of that word that made her feel both uneasy and pleased. Was she ready to be John's mate? What exactly did it entail to be that? There was so much she didn't know, even about her own species, when it came to things not related to war. How to raise a child, for instance. She was counting on John to help her out there. And what about a 'normal' relationship, as he called it? How did that transverse?

"We'll see," she said a little tonelessly. "I'll have to talk it over with John."

"Good idea," the doctor replied. "Have you had anything to eat today?" he asked and eyed her thoughtfully. "I mean, with the birth and the stress you have been under, you need to eat regularly."

"I'll eat when John comes back," Aeryn replied and settled back down on the chair.

The doctor gave her thoughtful glance, but then shrugged and left again. As soon as he was gone, Aeryn got up again and returned to the window. "Where the frell is he? What's taking him so long?" she muttered as she gazed toward the ships landing and taking off in the distance.

***

John had to admit that he was rather surprised to see the prowler still sitting where he had left it. But luck seemed to be on his side at the moment and he would make the best of it while it lasted.

He deposited the box with the tape recorder and the tapes in the back of the prowler, and then slipped into the seat and closed the canopy. Only then did he actually allow himself a sigh of relief. "So far so good," he muttered under his breath, started the engine and took off, heading straight back for Linea.

The flight would take him less than an arn and during that time, he realized a few things. First of all, he was hungry enough to eat a horse. He figured that metaphor wasn't too offensive out here, considering that they had no horses. Secondly, he was only now beginning to realize how acidic the almost constant rain on Chu-ka-na had been. His coat was pocked with small craters and he had small blisters on his hands and face. "Damned world," he grumbled.

He leaned back in the seat and left the flying of the prowler to the autopilot, a device it had taken him a long time to master. "But, then again, I'm dumber than the dumbest recruit, so it figures it'll take me forever to learn," he said aloud and grinned.

Things were really beginning to look up for him now. Aeryn was obviously not so adverse to being close to him any more and that gave him hope for the future; a hope he couldn't possibly have imagined when they had set down on Linea. She hadn't even been talking to him at that point and he had been so scared that she would try and leave him behind again; not that he couldn't handle himself out here. He had learned a lot over the last three cycles, more than he had ever hoped to learn.

Hell, even the thought of the baby wasn't so annoying any more. It was Aeryn's child and that was all he needed to know. That the little girl had his genetic coding as well didn't make things worse, even though he knew where that coding came from. And that was still a thorn in his side.

For a moment, he closed his eyes and tried to envision the other one. The message in Stark's mask had been 'taped' while John had been dying from radiation sickness. Man, what a terrible way to go. He only hoped that Stark had been there to help him out in the end. Aeryn had, of course, been present. For the first time since her return to Moya, he considered what it must have been like for her. Pain and sorrow were never good feelings and she wasn't even used to handling feelings in general. Damn the other one for dying on her.

"Don't go there," he muttered. Now was not the time to think of such things. Better leave the past behind and hope for a better tomorrow instead. He felt a little embarrassed about the thoughts he'd had about them, about the other one. It wasn't fair, really. Sure, the other one had been with Aeryn, had developed a, from what he could understand, working relationship with her. But he had also been the one to kick the bucket. John had learned that out here, in the UTs, he had to count his blessings. Things could go wrong far too quickly. "Bad luck, John. That's all it was. Bad luck," he grumbled. "Damn, I just wish Aeryn hadn't been stuck in the middle."

"And why is that, John?"

He almost jerked. He hadn't expected Harvey to rear his head in the middle of all this. That frelling neural clone hadn't opened his trap since Aeryn had returned for him and for a while there, John had actually thought he might have vanished. "Stay out of my private conversations, Harv," he replied tersely.

"Oh, John, you know that is rather difficult for me to do. It's not exactly like we're two different beings," Harvey said.

"Screw you, Harv. Go away and leave me alone," John replied and leaned forward to take control of the prowler again.

"You should have shot her, you know," Harvey interjected.

"Shot who?" John asked and stopped moving for a moment.

"Furlow, of course. She may not have the specs, but she's still got the memories. Scarrans a very good at extracting memories from others," Harvey replied.

"Oh? I thought that was your specialty ... or rather Scorpy's," John said, checked the readings and then glanced out the canopy to see Linea in the distance. "Let me tell you a little something, Harv. I've got a ... family, for want of a better word, to take care of now. Aeryn is warming up to me again, no thanks to you, and she's got this kid and once we've found the others ... with a little luck, we'll find some place where we can settle down. Her, me and the baby. And you know what? I won't be needing your meddling any more once that's accomplished."

"Oh John," Harvey sighed and shook his head sadly. "Do you really think you've seen the last of Scorpius? I do know him, you know. And there is no way he would have allowed himself to die on that carrier. Much like your little Nebari friend, Scorpius is a survivor. And if this truce with the Scarrans lasts for even a bit, he will find the will to pursue his research again."

"Screw you, Harv," John replied, trying not to pay attention to the meddling clone. "There is no way in hell that he made it off that carrier before it caved in on itself. You saw it go as well as I did. He didn't stand a chance."

Harvey sighed contentedly. "If you say so, John," he said and disappeared again.

"Bastard," John muttered under his breath and adjusted his course a bit. "Like he knows what's going on. As if," he added and settled back again to watch Linea grow in size in front of him.

***

Earth

The cell was armored glass, steel and concrete and there was no way in Hezmana that they could get out without help. D'Argo had spent most of his time pacing back and forth while in confinement, the memory of the fake Earth clear in his mind. How ever much he might hate to admit it, Rygel had been right. These frelling humans had turned on them and they hadn't seen hide nor hair of Derek since they had been stuck in this cell.

He stopped at the door and stared angrily at the guard outside, who wisely chose to ignore him. Staring at the humans didn't help, and he couldn't get out and kill them all, so all in all, he figured they were stuck in this place with no means of escape. He would be damned if he would give up without a fight though.

A sound from the rear of the cell made him glance back at the girls huddled up on the bunk at the far end. Jool had been crying constantly since they'd been incarcerated and Chiana was doing her best to console her. Rygel sat on his thronesled and stared out at the hangar where they had been detained. In D'Argo's opinion, there was no excuse for what his friends were going through and even if they were released right now with a formal apology, D'Argo would take this out of somebody's hide.

He returned his attention to the hangar beyond the impenetrable wall of glass and steel and stared darkly into space for a bit while trying to come up with a plan. It wouldn't be easy.

***

A few arns later, the General who had arrested them turned up. D'Argo had a bad feeling about this man's presence and wanted nothing more than to know what was going on. The General was accompanied by three other men D'Argo hadn't seen previously, but in his opinion they all looked like Peacekeepers. He growled darkly at them, aware that they probably couldn't hear him.

The General stopped at a distance and looked in at them for a moment. Then he turned his attention to one of his men. "I really would like to know what makes these creatures tick," he said.

D'Argo glanced toward the speakers imbedded in the walls. They had forgotten to turn off the com system, which meant that their prisoners could hear what they were saying. Whether it was intentional or not didn't really concern D'Argo. What concerned him was the turn this conversation had just taken.

"Especially the little green one," the General continued and turned his attention to Rygel, who gasped quietly and pulled back from the glass. "We should commence the examinations as soon as possible."

D'Argo hissed angrily, but remained where he was. To get to Rygel, they would have to go through him first and he was not about to let them pass without a fight.

The man the General had been speaking to, a pale skinny individual with thin blonde hair and watery blue eyes enlarged by heavy transparent goggles mounted in front of his eyes, gave D'Argo a nervous look. "Maybe we should ... pacify the big one first? He looks about ready to take us all apart without even blinking," he said quietly.

"Of course. We'll sedate all of them first. There's no reason to take any chances," the General replied.

Jool, whose crying had mostly subsided at that point, started sobbing again and D'Argo barely prevented himself from hissing with frustration. They had to find a way out of this before these barbarians decided to take them all apart. And D'Argo had no doubt about what they meant when they said they wanted to see what made them tick. Growling angrily, he remained where he was, ready to kill them all if he had to.

***

Derek paced the floor of the lab where he was stationed, nervously chewing on his right thumbnail. Occasionally, he stopped and glanced up at the clock mounted on the wall above the door, and then he started pacing again.

He had been told kindly but firmly to return to his station and leave the 'real' work to those who knew what they were doing. It ticked him off beyond compare that he was basically being confined to his work area without a chance of getting close to Chiana and her friends again. And he felt deeply responsible for what was happening to them all right now.

"Damn it all to hell," he grumbled and stopped again to give the clock an accusing glare. "I shouldn't have told them. I just ..."

Before he could finish the sentence, the door below the clock opened and a man stepped in. He was tall, gray-haired and had a certain air of authority about him. Derek could only assume that this man was the backup he had called for. "Derek?" he asked, his blue eyes expressing a deep concern.

"Jack Crichton?" he countered.

Jack Crichton reached a hand out to him. "The same," he agreed. "What the hell is going on, son?"

Derek shook hands with him briefly, and then pulled him away from the door and quickly closed it before turning back to Jack. "Sir, we've got a problem, as I explained on the phone. There are aliens on this base," he said.

"You told me as much. I still don't understand why you called me, though. I'm not really ..." Jack tried but Derek interrupted him.

"I know that, Sir. That's not why I called you. One of the main reasons why these aliens were allowed free passage at first was because they claim to know your son," Derek said, his tone of voice betraying his eagerness despite the rather dire situation his new-found friends were in.

Jack stopped short, his expression a mixture of tense anger and careful surprise. "My ... son?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Yes, Sir. John Crichton. It was basically the only thing I could understand of what they said at first," Derek said, aware that this bit of news would probably be overwhelming to the older man.

"John is alive?" Jack's expression remained neutral, but his eyes told a story of their own. "Are you certain?"

Derek nodded. "That's what they told me. They're friends of his," he confirmed.

For a moment, Jack just stood there, arms dangling at his sides, while he stared at Derek with the obvious inability to comprehend what he was saying. "Is ... he with them?" he eventually asked.

Derek sighed lightly, saddened that he had to disappoint the man. "No. According to one of the girls, Chiana, he was alive and well the last time they saw him. If I understand their concept of time correctly, that's a few days ago, so chances are that he's still around somewhere. We never got around to discussing where he was and how they have come to be here, though. They've been arrested."

Jack frowned a little. "Why?"

"Well ... it appears to be my fault. You see, D'Argo, one of them, had to go back to their ... ship ... to pick up another of their friends and I asked him if I could come along. He agreed and ... once on their ship, they injected me with what they call translator microbes. It makes it possible for me to understand them," Derek explained. "The only problem now is that the leadership here considers that a hostile act and they have therefore incarcerated them. I was hoping ... somehow ... that you might be able to do something."

Jack's frown remained as he settled down on a chair and scrubbed both hands over his face and then ran them over his hair. "I wouldn't know what," he confessed. "I have no real power, Derek."

Derek sighed again and dropped his gaze. "I figured as much," he said with a light shake of the head. "I was hoping, though. I believe it would be a grave mistake if we allow the leadership here to do what I'm sure they're going to. If they ... kill them to study them ... we'll never learn more about them," he added.

"And you turned to me because they claim to know John," Jack added and rose again. "Well, I for one want to talk to them," he added. "But how do we go about that?"

Derek looked a little uncertain. "That's what I was hoping you could tell me. Don't you have contacts? Someone who might be able to help?"

For a moment, Jack remained silent, a far-away look in his eyes. Then he focused on Derek again. "No, but I may know a different way," he replied.

***

Three men in white coats were discussing the best way to sedate their prisoners and Chiana was getting quite enough of being treated like a lab animal. Rising from the cot where she had unsuccessfully tried to console Jool since their arrival in this cell, she walked up to the closest window and leaned against it.

"We can hear you, you know," she said, fully aware that these frellnicks didn't understand her. It caught their attention, though, and that was what she had intended.

"Chiana, whatever you're doing, stop it," D'Argo warned.

She chose to ignore him, aware that he was governed by his anger at the moment. Instead, she locked eyes with one of the scientists, hoping to convey to him that she at least was no threat to them. The man looked back at her, completely taken in by her stare, and she fully believed that she would be able to convince them of her innocense when the door to the hangar opened and that obnoxious General came in. Her hold on the scientist was broken and the man turned to face his superior without another glance in her direction.

"Have you come up with something yet?" the General demanded.

"Frell," Chiana hissed, and then banged on the glass with the palms of her hands. "Hey, you out there. Get the frell over here," she called.

"They don't understand us, Chiana. We're on our own here. Get used to it," D'Argo said derisively.

"This wouldn't have happened if Crichton was here," she snapped. She knew she was behaving like a tralk, but she was scared and fear was never good. She had a tendency to forget friends when she was scared.

"Crichton? He would be in here with us," Rygel huffed. He had raised his thronesled all the way to the ceiling, well out of their reach. "These barbarians would not treat him any differently. And as for your little attempt to seduce that frellnick out there," he added, "Jool might as well scream her head off to melt the frelling door for all the good that would do us."

Chiana turned toward the still cowering Interion and so did D'Argo. "I'll bet their metal isn't strong enough to withstand your voice, Jool," Chiana suggested.

"And then what?" Jool asked, her eyes bright with tears. "They'll shoot us on sight, Chiana. There is no way we can get past them."

Chiana desperately searched for a way to make Jool scream without actually having to hurt her, but she figured there was no way around it, not if they wanted a chance at escape. "Remember your cousins? Remember how much time you lost in that frelling cryopod, princess? That'll be nothing compared to what they'll do to you here. You know what they'll do?" she said, giving her counterpart a saying look.

Jool's lower lips started to quiver and tears started cruising down her cheeks again. Chiana nodded. "Uh-huh, that's right, they'll cut you open to see what makes you work," she confirmed and that graphic depiction of what might happen to her was too much for Jool. True to her kind, she screamed, her ultimate reaction to fear and sorrow.

And it most certainly had the desired effect. The metal around them started running like snow melting in the sun. Chiana glanced at D'Argo, who looked stunned, while she herself covered her ears. High sounds weren't her favorite, but she could stand them if it meant they might have a way out of here.

"They might not even kill you first," she added, pouring fuel on the fire, and Jool's scream rose to new heights.

The structure of the cell started creaking and a few lights shorted out. Unfortunately, that also caused Jool to stop screaming. Suddenly mute, she glanced around the cell with confusion in her eyes, and then focused on Chiana again. "You tralk," she snarled, suddenly aware of what Chiana had been doing. Without further ado, she launched herself at the Nebari and the two of them started wrestling on the floor, trying to get in a few punches here and there until D'Argo decided to put a stop to it and hoisted Chiana off Jool.

"ENOUGH!" he bellowed, stopping both girls dead in their tracks. "What the frell are you doing?" he snapped and waved at the curious humans watching them from the other side of the glass. "Jool is right, Chiana. Even if she could melt this whole cell, it still wouldn't help us get past them."

Chiana struggled in his grip and jabbed an elbow into his guts when he didn't let go at once. "All right, big guy. I get the point," she said in a true imitation of John. "Now, set me down."

Jool was busy wiping her eyes and muttering about the unfairness of the universe, while Rygel remained where he was, floating under the ceiling on his thronesled.

For a moment, D'Argo seemed to hesitate, but then he put her down. Chiana straightened her clothes and then turned to face the gawking humans on the other side of the glass. "See what you made us do?" she asked, spreading out her arms and cocking her head to the right in a universal gesture of a shrug. "Frellnicks," she added with a smile.

The scientist she had locked eyes with earlier switched the com off on their side and said something to the General, which made the man go red in the face. Chiana thought she recognized that expression as a mixture of anger and embarrassment. Hezmana knew she had seen that look on John's face often enough to recognize it.

She was sad to see that nothing further came of their little attempt to escape. But it seemed to have delayed whatever plans these humans had for them, because the scientists left and so did the General and nobody turned up for a good long while.

Chiana paced in front of the glass, waiting and hoping. She still hadn't given up on Derek. The man was too much like Crichton to leave this be. With a sigh, she stopped and glanced over at the cot. D'Argo had settled down with Jool to calm her and that in turn kept him calm, which was a definite advantage at the moment.

"I gotta be tinked," she muttered under her breath, shook her head lightly and resumed her pacing.

***

General Johnson was miffed. After that little stunt one of the aliens had pulled, the scientists no longer wanted to take them apart to find out what made them tick. No, now they wanted to study them alive. And Johnson most definitely did not want to deal with the safety hazard these creatures were posing. He would have to get in touch with his superiors and hand this case over to them.

Grumbling under his breath, he picked up the receiver of his phone, but hesitated when there was a knock on the door. With a frown, he replaced the receiver in its cradle and leaned back on his chair. "Come," he called.

The door opened and Derek Whitley stepped in, followed by a tall man Johnson hadn't seen before. "Sir, may we have a word?" Whitley asked, his expression disclosing how nervous he was.

Well, that served him right for interfering where he had no business. "What is it?" Johnson asked, somewhat uncertain about the second man.

"Sir, this is Colonel Jack Crichton," Whitley said, fidgeting with the edge of his T-shirt. "I ... uh ... saw no other way than to alert him to what was going on here."

General Johnson rose. "Colonel," he said with a brief nod to Jack before focusing on Whitley. "Alert him? About what? I told you already that this is no longer any of your concern."

Jack stepped forward and dropped a bunch of photos on the desk. Johnson eyed the colonel for a moment. He couldn't imagine why this man would even bother interfering in this. Then he glanced at the pictures. They were all photos of the aliens and he was quite certain that Whitley had taken them. Okay, so the colonel knew about the aliens. That still made no difference.

"These photos, along with a ... witness-report, have been e-mailed to several big newspapers all over the country," Jack said.

It was with no small amount of surprise that Johnson looked up at the other man again. "What?" he asked, placed both hands on the desk and leaned forward.

"The press knows about them, General," Jack replied. "Soon, the whole world will know about them. I suggest that you let them go and offer them a formal apology. According to Derek here, they're clearly intelligent, more so than us since they are able to travel in space. We can hardly make it to the moon and back."

Johnson felt his temperature rise. That annoying prickly sensation he always got in his cheeks whenever he got upset about something manifested itself strongly. "WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, COLONEL?" he roared and slammed a fist down on the desk hard enough to make the pencil holder jump and topple over.

Jack merely stared at him, completely unimpressed by his anger. "I was alerted to their presence and your plans of killing them off and I don't think that's a very ... wise decision."

"WISE?!?!?!?" A vein started throbbing in his right temple while he desperately tried to refrain from shooting the man on sight. "YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY HERE! NONE WHATSOEVER! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, COLONEL?" he yelled.

Jack glanced at his watch and arched an eyebrow, bored by this exchange. "In less than thirty minutes, two reporters from the Washington Post will arrive at this airbase, General. I have also informed my superiors and yours to let them in on the situation brewing here. In case you have forgotten, General, this airbase is not under military jurisdiction. And I have made certain that it never will be."

"Certain?" Johnson asked. He was totally flabbergasted, totally incapable of responding properly to the situation. "How the hell can you make certain of that? In view of rank, Colonel, I am your superior and I will have you court-martialed for this."

With an almost overbearing smile, Jack picked up the pictures again and handed them to Whitley, who looked about ready to faint. "I'm not military, General. I'm an astronaut. I work for IASA."

Johnson could not believe that he had just been outmaneuvered by a space walker. This had to be the darkest day in his career. "One call, Colonel, and this whole base will be locked down and sealed up tight. Nobody outside of this place will know about it. The photos will to be stamped as a hoax and so will the report by this ... this cretin," he finally said, waving a dismissive hand at Whitley. "There is no way in hell that this is going to be public knowledge. Don't you know what will happen if this gets out? We have to think of national security, of how people will respond. And you know the human race as well as I do. They panic at the push of a button."

"I think you give the human race too little credit, General," Jack replied, unerringly calm. "Besides, as I mentioned before, I have already been in touch with your superiors and they agreed with the way we have handled this situation. As a matter of fact, General, I don't think they're too happy about the fact that you haven't contacted them about this yet."

Johnson felt himself pale. He hadn't thought about that one before and he knew Jack Crichton was right. His superiors would be fuming by now about his negligence. Somewhat deflated, he sank back down on his chair. All right, so he hadn't been a General for more than two years, but that was still no excuse. "This is a disaster," he muttered and shook his head. "A disaster. You have no idea what you have done. These are dangerous creatures and they need to be detained."

"And on what do you base that assumption?" Jack asked. "The fact that they have helped one of your staff to understand them? I don't see that as dangerous. I see that as offering a hand in friendship. Of course, I'm no expert in this connection. But I would very much like to meet them."

"Which I think you should, Sir," Whitley agreed eagerly. "They may not be too happy with us right now."

"Well, General, it's been an experience. Right now, I think I will go and broaden my horizon a little and talk to some beings from another world," Jack said, a gleam in his eyes.

Both of them left again, leaving Johnson behind to just sit there and stare at the door. What else could he do? Well, of course, he could do the right thing and call his superiors himself to apologize for this foul up. With a vague nod to himself, he sighed heavily and picked up the phone again. It was time to confess.

***

D'Argo growled angrily when one of the scientists got a little too close to the window and the man pulled back instantly. What these frelling humans were up to was beyond him, but he was not going to give them the impression that they scared him. They didn't, of course, but he was a Luxan and keeping up appearances was important to him.

Since none of those sniveling creatures had made a move against them yet, Rygel had finally given in to his curiosity and had come back down to their level. Not that D'Argo would ever understand how the Hynerian could even think that hiding up under the ceiling would make a difference. He glanced at Rygel for a microt before turning his attention to the girls.

After Chiana had treated Jool like dren, the Interion wanted nothing to do with her counterpart and had repeatedly pushed the young Nebari off the cot. Chiana had opted to give her some space and had settled down in the opposite corner of the cell, her arms wrapped around her knees.

"Great Rygel the First," Rygel muttered.

D'Argo glanced back at him and wondered what that was all about, but he couldn't be bothered to ask. Instead, he returned his attention to the hangar and suddenly realized what might have caused Rygel to say that. "What the frell?" he growled.

Chiana rose and came over. "What?"

Instead of acknowledging her, D'Argo turned his attention to Rygel. "Is that who I think it is?" he asked, wanting confirmation from the only other member of their little group who would know.

"Unless the ancients are once again frelling with us, I should say so," Rygel agreed while never taking his eyes off the two men who had just entered the hangar and walked toward the cell with determined steps.

Chiana let out a delighted squeak at the sight of Derek. "I knew he wouldn't let us down," she claimed and then eyed the other man with him. "Who's he?"

D'Argo straightened his back and snorted. "That," he said, his expression sinister, "is Crichton's father."

***