Kia stepped back and watched as the prowler lifted off its pad, turned smoothly and raced out of the hangar. She lingered for a moment, watching the sea of stars beyond the containment field, then turned and headed back into the ship to join her mother on her command post.

Admiral Turran looked up when her daughter stepped into the stateroom. "Ah, there you are. How is your human doing?" she asked, her tone indifferent. She didn't really care. She just asked to keep her daughter happy.

"He's gone. I sent him on his way," Kia replied and strolled over to the viewscreen occupying the end wall of the room.

Turran regarded her back for a moment, then sighed. "Well, that was probably for the best. That way we will not have to explain his presence when we return home," she said and returned her attention to the reports she was going over. "Did you give him your prowler?" she asked.

"I gave him the Black Ghost," Kia replied, her expression indifferent as she stared at the stars.

That made Turran frown. "I thought you loved that ship," she said, wondering how a non-Sebacean could have won her daughter over so easily. Normally, Kia was unmoved by anyone or anything.

"I can get another. I just assumed he needed all the help he could get. Scorpius is not going to give up trying to find him," Kia said and turned back to face her mother. Her star-shaped pupils had expanded, filling out her eyes completely. There was nothing but black depth in her eyes now.

Turran's expression was one of caution as she stared at her offspring. "Scorpius is of no consequence. Nor is his ridiculous research into wormhole technology," she finally said. "Why are you so taken by this ... human?"

For a long moment, Kia did nothing more than stand and stare, then she sighed and dropped down on a chair across from her mother, her eyes back to normal again. "I don't know. Maybe because he doesn't pretend to be something he isn't. Maybe because he dares to be weak. Sebaceans could learn a lot from him," she said and smiled almost indulgently.

Turran sighed and shook her head. "Whatever you say, child," she told her daughter and returned her attention to her work.

***

Somewhere in space

The prowler wobbled on its course and John closed his eyes, attempting to calm his raging senses. Despite weightlessness, he felt the movements of the ship and it basically sent his stomach into his throat. He felt sick and miserable, his pulse pounding a steady rhythm in his head, and every time he even turned his eyes, he was overcome by dizziness so strong, it almost made him black out. It took everything he had and then some to keep the vessel steady and himself from passing out in the middle of everything. It took every ounce of concentration he had left to just keep his eyes open and his mind running. But he realized almost instantly that his concentration was shot. On top of that, his hands were shaking so badly that he had trouble holding onto the control column, which again caused the craft to wobble and that again made his stomach roll uneasily.

The muscular fatigue he was suffering from had intensified the second the booster shot had worn off completely and he found it extremely hard to keep his hands wrapped around the control column in the first place, let alone steady the flight of the prowler in any way. And with his hands shaking as badly as they did, the job was damned near impossible.

Nearly going cross-eyed with the effort, he scanned the controls for the auto-pilot with little luck. He knew where it was in Aeryn's prowler, but this vessel was marginally different. Enough so that he had trouble finding what he needed. Closing his eyes again, he leaned back on the seat and remained motionless for a moment, trying to get his thoughts around to this point in time. They kept drifting away, making him lose focus.

"Get a grip, John," he muttered and leaned forward again, groaning in anguish when his vision started swimming and he felt like the prowler was bending out of shape around him while the pounding in his head took on a new level of pain. Pressing the heel of his left hand against his aching brow, he closed his eyes and slumped back in the seat, trying to prevent himself from hyper-ventilating and passing out. "Oh God," he groaned.

It took a moment for the whole thing to come back together again. The pounding recede to a tolerable level and the dizziness seemed to subside again. Taking a couple of deep breaths, he tried to focus his eyes, then squinted a little. He focused on the controls again, his eyes scanning nobs, dials and switches he had no name for, until they finally settled on the one he was searching for. "Bingo," he muttered weakly and leaned forward slowly, deliberately keeping his head as steady as he could, to flip the switch and then he allowed himself to drop back into the seat again and close his eyes. He needed rest, needed to sleep so badly, it was almost a physical ache.

When he next opened his eyes, he had no idea how much time had passed or how great a distance he may have traveled. For all he knew, he was heading in the wrong direction, away from wherever Moya was right now. "Need to ... get back," he muttered, his voice sounding strained, weak and cracking in his ears. "Need to ... send'em a signal," he went on, figuring that he might be able to stay on the case if he talked to himself. "Damn, I feel like crap," he muttered and allowed his eyes to close briefly again. "Worse than last time," he went on and chuckled helplessly. "Like that should be possible," he added and looked over the controls again to find the transmitter. "Gotta send a message home," he told himself. "Somehow." He wasn't quite sure how until he remembered a code Pilot had given him once in case he should ever need it. "Sort of like an IP address on the Internet, isn't it?" he asked himself and smirked joylessly.

He found a switch that looked right and flipped it. "Do you wish to relay a message?" a voice asked him.

He frowned, then sighed and settled back. "Yeah," he replied. "A35XT37. SOS," he added. "Send it now and keep broadcasting."

There was a click followed by a light flashing on the control board, indicating that the message was going out. At least he hoped that was what it meant.

Raising deadweight hands up to cover his face for a second, he groaned, wishing he could do something to feel better. He figured his fatigue came from no food and water along with the treatment he had gone through.

"Not a good combination, John."

Letting his hands drop, John blinked ahead of himself. He didn't have the strength or the willpower to push Harvey out of his mind right now.

"Maybe you should find a place to land this thing, huh?" Harvey asked.

"So Scorpy can catch me again? I don't think so," John replied, his voice breaking with fatigue. Leaning his head back against the seat, he closed his eyes and wished himself away.

When had it been decided that he should be the one to represent the human race out here in the middle of nowhere, he wondered and smiled joylessly at the prospect of being ambassador for a whole race. "What a joke," he muttered and nearly drifted off.

"You can't sleep now," Harvey objected. "If you fall asleep, John, you may never wake up again."

"Who cares," he mumbled, too tired and too much in pain to care any more. He could barely remember his own name at that point and all he wanted was to get away from it all. Be it in sleep or otherwise. To just drift away on the memories of the good times he'd had seemed like a very good idea at that point.

***

Aboard Moya

Facing reality was not what it had been. But, then again, reality hadn't been so damned painful before, now had it? Aeryn limped away from the maintenance bay, slowly beginning to feel the pain from the cut on her arm, her sore foot sending jolts through her leg with every step she took. But she actually relished the sensation of the pain rippling through her. That was a real feeling, something she could see and touch. Not this feeling that threatened to tear her soul from her body.

She snorted, feeling tears stinging her eyes. Soul? That was another of those words that John Crichton had brought with him to the crew of Moya. Well, perhaps Zhaan had believed in a soul too, but Aeryn doubted very much that any of the others believed in such a thing. Yet she could not deny what she felt. And her sensations had changed so radically since that frelling human had walked into her life.

She made her way to the med bay to find something that could stop the bleeding of her arm, her attention anywhere but on what she was doing.

Thinking back to that day, the very first day she had laid eyes on him, she remembered wondering why he seemed so different. Not at all Sebacean and yet looking every bit like one. But his behavior had been so odd, so totally off. She had kicked him around for a bit in order to question him and he had made no move to defend himself, another oddity about him.

Searching through the medical supplies, she found bandages and a pad she could cover the wound with and quickly wrapped up her arm in a sloppy, unprofessional manner, too wrapped up in her own mind to pay much attention to what she was doing.

John's inability to defend himself had been a source of great annoyance for her in the beginning. Later, she had learned to see him in a different light.

Stopping short, she raised her eyes and stared ahead of herself, remembering, reminiscing. Non-violent. That had been her first impression of him. Smiling halfheartedly, she shook her head. No, her first impression of him had been that he was a coward. That had slowly changed into non-violent, though. Despite his claims that humans were a violent bunch and had a violent history, he didn't display any of that violence.

So, when had that changed? Thinking back, she tried to pinpoint the situation and decided that it had been when Laraque had boarded Moya and had driven his knife into her chest. That had set John off, which now told her that he had been in love with her already then.

Again a smile crept over her lips. So, it was her fault that he had lost his innocence, despite Zhaan's claim that he had still been innocent when she had left them. Maybe he had been. Maybe the time of change had been when that frelling chip in his head had nearly driven him insane.

All in all, she figured that it was this galaxy that had changed him, and not so much any one thing as everything in combination. But Scorpius definitely carried a big part of the blame. "If ever I get my hands on you, you frelling half-breed," she snarled, feeling her temper rise again. This was the second time that the half-Scarran had taken John away from them. Well, if she had anything to say about it, she would made sure it would be the last.

A sudden wave of dizziness swept her and she staggered back a step and bumped into the examination table. Her anger at herself for letting John down, the cut on her arm, and now her dizziness, it all tied into sleepless nights, worrying, crying silently so the others wouldn't hear, while she clutched one of his t-shirts to her to at least be able to smell him.

With a sigh, she glanced down herself, at the too big t-shirt she was wearing. His. And none of the others had noticed. Or maybe they just didn't say anything because they were afraid that she would blow up at them.

"Are you hurt?"

With a frown, Aeryn glanced over her shoulder at Jool, who stood in the doorway, watching her cautiously. "Just a cut. Nothing serious," she replied and turned around to face the Interion female.

Jool closed the distance, her eyes on the makeshift bandage. "You can't run around with a bandage like that. It'll fall off the microt you ..." she began, then trailed off, her green eyes full of caution when they met Aeryn's.

Aeryn knew that Jool was intimidated by her. Although they could have just about the worst verbal fights anyone had ever witnessed, the Interion was wary of the ex-peacekeeper, afraid of her temper. She knew Aeryn could be dangerous. Holding out her arm, Aeryn gave her a vague smile. "Then do it right," she told her.

Jool's expression changed only slightly. She regarded Aeryn with the usual distrust, then made a face and grabbed the items she needed before removing the bandage again. "Did you even bother to clean it out?" she wanted to know, giving the cut a scrutinizing look.

"No, it bled enough to clear out any dirt in it," Aeryn replied, keeping her tone even.

Jool sighed with exasperation and set about doing what Aeryn hadn't bothered to do. She cleaned the wound, used sealant to close it off, then placed a fresh pad on it and wrapped a bandage around it that would be able to last for weekens if necessary. "There. That should hold," she finally said. "If it starts hurting, you have to clean it out again," she added, looking up to meet Aeryn's eyes.

Aeryn flexed her arm, bent her wrist, and was satisfied that the bandage would hold. "Thank you," she said and smiled a little. "I'm not a med tech," she added as if that explained her own carelessness about the cut.

"No, you are not," Jool agreed. "For what it's worth, Aeryn, I miss him too. And it's not your fault he got captured, you know."

Aeryn looked up to meet her eyes, her expression still carefully bland. "Tell that to John," she said, her tone bitter in her own ears. "No matter what it takes. No matter who I have to kill. I will find him." With that, she pushed away from the table and left the med bay again, limping more heavily than before. Her own bitterness and self-reproach made her feel the pain much more clearly. She needed space, needed a place where she could think, where she could remember. A place where she could pretend that they would find him alive and well.

***

The Gamak Base

Lt. Braca was in the middle of his daily rounds when one of his men came running up to him, looking flustered. "Sir," the tech called, waving a datapad about.

Braca frowned at him. "What is it?" he asked.

"We just picked this up on the grid, sir," the tech explained, slightly out of breath. "A very odd message, coded with an obsolete Leviathan-code."

Braca's frown deepened as he took the datapad and scanned the information. "Find out what Leviathan had that code," he instructed. "What is SOS?" he then asked.

"We don't know, sir. But you said if we found anything odd, we should report it immediately," the tech replied, looking just a little bit afraid.

Braca nodded. "Find the identity of the Leviathan," he repeated and waved the tech away. There was a slight possibility that this message might be from the Human. And hence there was only one thing to do with it. Turning, he strode quickly toward Scorpius' private quarters, knowing the half-breed would be there. He sometimes considered it distinctly odd that he would find it more rewarding to work for Scorpius than for Crais. Despite the fact that both men had rampant tempers, Scorpius was so much better at handling his. And he got results, where as Crais had always struck Braca as a windbag. All talk and no action. Braca usually never spent much time thinking about his commission, mainly because it went against his upbringing and training to work for a half-breed like Scorpius. But, as it were, Scorpius was a much better tactician and definitely a lot more powerful than Crais had been.

Stopping outside the door, he took a moment to compose himself before entering. "Sir," he said, standing at attention the second he had cleared the doorway.

Scorpius raised his eyes and regarded Braca with an unreadable expression on his face. "Lieutenant," he replied.

"Sir, we have picked up a message on the grid which has the techs confused. They do not know what to make of it. I was wondering if maybe it could be from Crichton," Braca said, stepped forward and handed Scorpius the datapad. As little as he might like the half-breed for being just that, he respected the intellect of the other man. And there was, of course, also the small matter of fear keeping him in his place. He had seen what Scorpius did to those who opposed him. He didn't much like the implications and so did what he could to do as he was told.

Scorpius regarded the display on the datapad for a moment, then looked up. "I would most definitely suspect that this is indeed a message from Crichton to that stolen Leviathan he's living on. Trace the signal, Lieutenant. And ready my Command Carrier."

"The signal is being traced as we speak, sir. I took the liberty of arranging for it to save us time. And your Carrier is ready to go on your word," Braca replied. He always got a little nervous when he tried to second-guess Scorpius and took matters into his own hands. Usually, he got away with it. He never would have with a fully Sebacean superior, but Scorpius seemed to value his ability to think independently.

Scorpius smiled and rose from his chair. "Ah, splendid. You have done a good job, Lieutenant," he said. "Let us find the source of the signal then. If you are correct and it is Crichton, we must get to him before the Leviathan does."

"Yes, sir," Braca agreed, sighing inwardly. Once again, he had managed to make the right decision. And there was only one right decision. The one that kept him alive and kept him rising in Scorpius' regard.

***

Somewhere in space

With a tickle in his throat, John woke up and coughed halfheartedly, finding himself back in the cockpit of the prowler Kia Turran had given him. She was a special one, that Kia, he thought.

And then another thought jumped to the forefront of his mind. How could Kia be Admiral Turran's daughter? The girl was a half-breed at least. Her eyes alone had told him that. And if Peacekeeper Command was as set on purity as he had gotten the impression, he couldn't really believe that they would allow an Admiral to have a half-breed as a daughter.

Having trouble keeping his eyes open, John pushed that thought aside. There was probably some logical explanation to it, something he hadn't thought of and couldn't think of as it were. His head felt fuzzy, his ears hurt again and his eyes had that gritty feeling about them again.

When he stirred, he inadvertently moved his head and was overcome by a bout of nausea strong enough to make him gag. But, once again, he was grateful for small favors. He had eaten and drunk nothing for a good long time and that meant he didn't have anything to throw up from. "Shit," he muttered, slowly realizing that his dizziness could be caused by dehydration more than anything. And his fatigue, too.

"Seeing things in a different light, John?"

He inhaled deeply and let the air out slowly, but even so he started coughing again. "Shit," he muttered again, trying to ignore Harvey at the same time.

"You don't have much time left, John. You know that, don't you?" Harvey asked, sounding slightly concerned. "The prowler does not have unlimited air. And you're in no condition to go on like this for much longer. Why not find a place to set this prowler down and get some help?"

John smiled almost wistfully at that. "If I enter the atmosphere of a planet, I'll crash, Harv. I don't have the strength to fly this sucker any more than I have the strength to shove you back where you belong. So why don't you just can it and leave me alone, huh? Scorpy's lost the game. I'll be dead before anybody finds me," he said, speaking slowly. Every word he said was a battle. "Whether I run out of air first or sanity, I'm dead."

"When you thought Aeryn was dead, you didn't give up. Why now? Why give up when you have a fighting chance, John?" Harvey inquired.

"I didn't give up because I had friends around me, Harv. I don't now. I'm kinda alone out here," John said, his breathing slightly labored now. Talking took too much out of him, so he shifted a little, careful not to move his head, and closed his eyes again. "Either way, I'm a goner," he ended his little narrative before slipping back into blissful darkness.

***

Aboard Moya

The maintenance bay was quite, devoid of motion. Aeryn had spent the better part of that day there, sitting on John's module, listening to the silence around her, while trying to determine what the future might hold. She knew it was insane to think of a future when all they could do was live from day to day, but she couldn't help herself, couldn't stop day-dreaming. She had come to the conclusion that if she did find John and he did find a way back to Earth, she would go with him. There was nothing here for her any more. This galaxy was nothing but one big death trap for her. But she couldn't help thinking that maybe Earth might be just as bad, if not worse. She would be different there, wouldn't be able to speak the language very well.

Was it hot on Earth, she wondered. John had mentioned a temperate climate as well as deserts and ice caps. Earth seemed to have everything at once.

With a sigh, she slipped into the cockpit of the module and fingered some of the incredibly ancient devices, running sensitized fingertips over buttons and switches. "Where are you?" she whispered, then closed her eyes.

Why couldn't she let go? She knew exactly what Crais would say, because he had said it to her once before, when John had voluntarily gone to meet Scorpius to save D'Argo's son. And at that time, he had only been gone four arns. "He is already dead." Those words had stung her like a slap in the face. Now she was slowly beginning to think that maybe they were true. If he could have gotten out on his own, wouldn't he have done so already? Wouldn't he have found a way back to them?

With a sigh, she flipped a switch, turning the engine on. The module came to life around her and she just sat there for a few microts, listening to the hum of the instruments. Then she switched it off again.

"Hey!"

Aeryn rose a little in the seat to look out at Chiana, who stood a few feet from the module, staring up at her. "Hey," Aeryn replied. "What are you doing here? I thought you were asleep."

"I ... heard the module. For a microt there, I thought..." Chiana was usually emotional, but right now, she seemed to be very emotional if the tears gleaming in her eyes were anything to go by.

Aeryn climbed out of the module and slipped down on the floor, her eyes never leaving the Nebari girl. Scratching at the edge of the bandage covering her arm, she tried to think of something to say, but couldn't come up with anything that would sound even halfway intelligent. "I was just ... looking," she finally said, not sure how else to explain what she felt right then.

"Yeah," Chiana replied and gingerly wiped away a stray tear. "Aeryn?" she added, cocking her head to the right.

"Yes, Chiana?" she asked, looking over at the Nebari.

"Do ... you think we'll ... find John?"

Aeryn inhaled deeply and absentmindedly fiddled with the bandage around her arm again. "If he doesn't find us first," she said after thinking carefully about what to say. "Yes, I do think we will find him."

Chiana stared at her for a few microts, then tried a tentative smile. "You do?" she asked.

"Yes, Chiana. I do," Aeryn replied, not at all certain where she had that knowledge from. But there was no doubt in her mind all of a sudden. They would find him and he would be alive. With that knowledge came an idea, which made her frown. "Pilot?" she called.

"Yes, Officer Sun?" Pilot replied instantly.

"Are you or Moya scanning for subspace messages?" she asked, going by a gut instinct rather than truly knowing what she was doing.

"No, not presently. Why?" Pilot asked.

"Please do so. On all frequencies," Aeryn said. "And if you find anything ... out of the ordinary, let me know."

"What are you looking for?" Chiana asked, looking more curious than sad now.

"Well, you know how John is. If he has managed to send us a message, it's going to be weird," Aeryn said, suddenly all eager and ready to go. "Something different."

Chiana smiled carefully. "You think he may have sent us a message?"

"Yes, Chiana, if he can, he will," Aeryn agreed. "I'm going to Pilot's den to wait for the outcome," she added and limped heavily out of the bay, leaving the somewhat confused-looking Nebari behind.

***

Some arns later

Pilot kept doing what he did best while at the same time keeping an eye on the lost-looking Sebacean sitting on one corner of his console. He was not used to comfort others and didn't know exactly what to say to her, so he kept quiet and watched her instead. He had always considered Sebaceans to be a brutal lot, but they had given him the opportunity to become more than he had ever dreamed. And this particular Sebacean had made him happier than any other had ever tried. She had gone out of her way to protect him, to help him, and she was, essentially, a part of him now.

"Officer Sun," he said after a bit.

Aeryn turned her attention to him, a soft smile on her lips. "Yes, Pilot?"

"Are you ... certain we will find something?" he wanted to know, not certain what a subspace scan should accomplish. If what the others had told him about this Scorpius was true, he could hardly imagine that their human counterpart had managed to escape.

"No, Pilot, not certain. I am hoping, though," she replied as the veil of sadness settled over her expression again. She sighed and her attention drifted again.

Pilot regarded her for a microt while listening to Moya's opinion on the whole thing and he had to agree with the leviathan. Symbiotic relationships were far better than being apart like this.

"Pilot," Aeryn said after a moment and returned her drifting attention to him. "You know what it is to need someone, don't you? You need Moya. And she needs you."

"Yes, we are dependent on each other," Pilot agreed.

"Then you can imagine what I'm feeling right now?" she asked.

Pilot nodded once and kept his attention on the job he had to do. "Yes, I can," he said while wondering where she was going with this.

"Maybe you can explain to me then why it has to hurt so much. And why do I have to fall for not only an alien, but one who gets himself into trouble all the time?" she asked quietly.

Pilot stopped what he was doing and turned his attention fully to the now very distraught looking female. Without thought, he reached out and placed a claw on her shoulder. "There is, as I am sure you know, no explanation for such things, Aeryn. But, when we retrieve him, perhaps you should consider finding a place to settle down. A place away from the prying eyes of the Peacekeepers," he suggested. "Perhaps, if the Commander could find a way back to his own world, you could go with him?"

That made Aeryn smile despite the tears shining in her eyes. "I do not wish to leave you, Pilot," she said, wrapping a hand over his claw on her shoulder. "Or Moya. But I am so tired of running, so tired of being afraid of losing him all the time."

"Then you should consider it. Both Moya and I will be sad to see you go, but we both understand your needs far better than you may think," Pilot told her and gave her the equivalent of a smile.

Aeryn dropped her gaze and sighed. "I know that, Pilot," she agreed. "Well, I'll try to get some sleep. Let me know the microt you find anything."

"I will," Pilot assured her and watched her with worried eyes as she slipped off the console and limped across the center bridge toward the door, dragging her injured foot heavily. "Do not lose hope, Aeryn Sun," he whispered as the door closed behind her. With a sigh, he returned to his tasks, silently assuring Moya that everything would be fine.

***