He came to with a head full of razor-sharp nails and the taste of wet, old cotton in his mouth. His lids would only open halfway and even that was enough to make his eyes water. Despite the forewarning of the way his head felt, he still tried to move it, which in and off itself could quite possibly be the dumbest thing he'd ever done. And he'd performed some dumb acts in his time.

"Ouch," he rasped and found that his throat might quite literally be hurting more than his head.

A cool hand touched his brow and a voice whispered something to him he didn't understand. It sounded like a record being played backwards. Then suddenly the words snapped into focus. " ... feel?"

Again he tried to turn his head in the direction of the voice and again he realized that it was probably a very stupid thing to do. His neck felt like it was full of broken glass. "Huh?" was all he managed. All he could make out was a blurry outline. Colors bled into each other, light and darkness meshed. He couldn't make sense of any of it.

"How do you feel?" the voice repeated.

He struggled to remember the owner of that voice. Somewhere, he knew who it was, but he couldn't put a finger on it right now. But the question – despite the way he felt – pulled a smile from him. "Crappy," he replied.

"I'm sorry, John," the voice whispered.

He frowned lightly. Who the hell was John? A moment's worth of consideration made him realize that he was John. That was a step forward. Or was it? He ached for something to drink, but couldn't remember how to ask for it.

Something cool and moist touched his lips moments later and he briefly wondered if the owner of the voice – Aeryn! – could read minds. He sucked down the liquid a little at a time, and at first it hurt his throat. But then it became soothing.

A drop of it went down the wrong way, though, which sent him into a painful coughing fit. Aeryn supported him until it was over and he settled back down with a groan. She brushed her fingers through his hair and had one arm under his head. "Are you feeling any better?"

He swallowed and flinched at how raw his throat felt. "Yeah," he lied and then forced his eyelids open all the way. The world swam and shifted for a moment, then slowly came into focus. Amber walls. He had to be on ... He closed his eyes. The name eluded him for some reason. "Where are we?" he rasped.

"On Moya, remember?" she asked with a faint smile and helped him sit up when he tried to do so on his own and failed.

The agony of his wounds – where had he gotten those? – almost overwhelmed him and he grabbed his head with both hands and squeezed his eyes shut. "Aw god, I think I've got a concussion or something," he rasped.

"That would be quite likely," Aeryn agreed.

He opened his eyes and blinked at her. Who was she again? He knew her. Her name was just at the tip of his tongue. "Why?" he asked instead, somehow sensing that it would upset her if she knew he couldn't remember her name.

"Well, you've hit your head a few times," she stated and eyed him suspiciously. "Are you all right?"

"You keep asking that," he countered. He was beginning to realize that his memory was fading in and out all the time. One moment he could remember her name and where he was, the next he couldn't. He pulled his legs over the edge of the table he was on and glanced around Moya's med-bay. "Where are the others?" he asked. For a second there, he had been able to remember their names and how many there were, but now it was gone again. Gingerly, he pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. Then he sighed. "I'm having a bit of trouble here," he admitted.

"Trouble with what?" she asked. The suspicion in her eyes was growing.

"Uh ... remembering ... stuff," he tried and wished he could shake his head without hurting himself.

"What ... stuff?" she asked with a light frown.

This was not good. He couldn't remember her name right now and he knew he'd been able to just moments before. Uncertain of how to proceed, of how to handle this in general, he just sat there and stared ahead of himself with a bad taste in his mouth, a neck full of broken glass and a head full of sharp nails. He glanced at her and flinched when that hurt his eyes. "You," he admitted. "The others. I know there are others. I just don't know ... who they are. Or how many of them there are." She opened her mouth, obviously in an attempt to let him know, but he raised a hand, palm out, warding her off. "Don't bother. I won't be able to remember in a moment."

Aeryn's frown deepened. "Are you saying your memories as disappearing?" she asked, slightly confused.

"Not so much disappearing as fading in and out. Right now, for instance, I know your name is Aeryn. I know who you are. But in a moment, it'll be gone again," he tried to explain. "And then it comes back. It's a bit confusing, really," he added and closed his eyes. "And my head is killing me."

"I'm not sure that your memories fading in and out is such a good thing. We should try and find ..." she started, but before she could finish, she was rudely interrupted.

"Aeryn, a command carrier!"

John glanced toward the odd contraption on the wall and wondered who the shellhead was. But he said nothing. "Command carrier?" he asked and glanced back at ... what was her name again? He sighed with frustration.

"Never mind that right now," she replied without looking at him. "Pilot, get us out of here," she added.

"Moya is starbursting now," the pilot replied.

The floor shuddered and everything started rattling. His previously rather docile stomach didn't like the sudden pull this 'starburst' was exerting on his insides and he clapped a hand over his mouth to stop himself from hurling all over the place.

Moments later, the pull ceased and things settled down again, amongst others his stomach. He breathed a sigh of relief and then glanced back over at Aeryn, who had braced herself against the edge of the table he had been lying on.

"How the frell did they trace us?" Aeryn muttered under her breath, then glanced at him. "Will you be all right on your own for a bit?"

He nodded although he wasn't so sure.

"I have to talk to Pilot about this," she added and strode out without looking back. Whatever had just happened, it had her worried.

***

Aeryn strode away from the med-bay, her emotions carefully in check. John said that his memories came and went all the time. That did not sound good. And now they had a command carrier on their heels? This was getting worse all the time. The destruction of Outland Station combined with all this made her worry for their future more than ever before. Scorpius was relentless and he obviously wanted John back despite the fact that the Peacekeepers had the technology. So, it had to be something else. She just didn't know what it might be. Unless there was some kind of problem with the technology that only John could fix?

She smoothed her hands over her hair and hurried her steps toward Command, where D'Argo was waiting. The Luxan looked anything but happy when she stepped inside.

"Not just one command carrier, Pilot. Three. I saw three frelling command carriers out there," he snapped at Pilot's image on the clamshell.

"Three?" Aeryn snapped, causing D'Argo to glance at her with a deep frown furrowing his brow. "What the frell does he need three command carriers for?" she exploded.

"Apparently, those were the same three that attacked Outland Station," D'Argo said.

"I know there were three, Ka D'Argo, but that does not make any difference. We will have to starburst again shortly to eliminate any trail we may be leaving behind," Pilot replied in his serene and quiet voice.

Aeryn looked from Luxan to Pilot and back again. "What the frell is the matter with you two? There is only one frelling way that they could have tracked us here. There has to be a tracking-device somewhere on Moya."

D'Argo turned around to face her and folded his arms over his chest. "And how, if I may ask, do you suggest that they should have done that?" he asked. "We never even saw any Peacekeepers during the attack. And Moya was not hit," he added, then glanced up at the clamshell. "She wasn't, was she, Pilot?"

"No, she was not. And if we are being traced because of a signal, it is not coming from Moya," Pilot replied, slightly miffed at the mere suggestion.

Aeryn made a face. Blowing up at either of them wasn't a good idea. "Pilot, could you run a trace and see if you can find any signal that may originate from within Moya?" she asked. Pilot nodded. "Thank you. And D'Argo, is there any chance that Lo'La may have a tracking device installed? From what you've told me, you were among Scarrans an awful long time. If they installed a tracking device and Scorpius has found a way to tap into it ..."

D'Argo huffed, but it was not very convincing. It was coupled with the doubt in his eyes. "I will check," he said after a moment and strode out of Command.

Aeryn just stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do next, then she shook herself out of this self-induced funk and turned her attention back to the clamshell. "Pilot, do you know where Chiana is? I want her to keep an eye on John for now."

"I shall tell her," Pilot said. "We will starburst again in thirty microts," he added.

"Thank you, Pilot," Aeryn said and turned her attention to the console D'Argo had just left behind. "This is so frelled," she muttered and started going over the readouts in search of something she may have missed before.

When it came down to it, she had missed a whole lot of things over the cycle she had been in stasis. She hadn't truly realized this before, but John had been a frelling wreck by the time she had come out of it and he hadn't gotten any better since. On the contrary. And now it seemed the entire frelling Peacekeeper outfit was breathing down his neck. "This is bad," she muttered and flipped through the various readouts. "Bad, bad, bad."

***

Near the med-bay

After Pilot had told her to, Chiana had taken off in search of John. When she found the med-bay empty, she got a little concerned. She stepped back outside and was relieved to find him further along the corridor. He stood leaning against the wall, his back to her.

"Hey, Crichton. Isn't it a little early to go walking around?" she called and started after him. He didn't respond, just stood there. "Crichton?" she tried again, still with the same result. "John," she tried instead.

He turned around slowly to face her. "Are you talking to me?" he asked.

He looked a little green to her, his skin pale and sweaty. Not healthy, in other words. She stopped and eyed him. "Yeah, I'm talking to you. How many Crichtons are there on this boat?" she countered with a smile.

He made a face and flinched. "Oh yeah, that's me," he muttered and focused on her again. "What's up ...?"

The brief pause made her wonder what he had been in the process of saying, but then shrugged. He'd hit his head. Again! It was likely that the fact that he didn't know who he himself was could be a side-effect of that. "Aeryn asked me to look after you until we've shaken our tail," she said.

He nodded once, winced openly at the pain it was causing him, and leaned back against one of the ribs. "What tail?" he asked after a moment.

"The command carriers that are chasing us," she explained patiently and stepped up to him. "Maybe you should go back to your quarters and rest for awhile. I'm sure that losing them won't be easy."

"Nothing's ever easy," he claimed and pensively rubbed his brow. "What ... command carriers?"

Chiana just stared at him for a microt. These side-effects seemed to be rather massive. "Scorpius' command carrier. Remember Scorpius?" she asked and gently took his arm.

"Uh ... no," he admitted. "Who's that?"

Chiana arched an eyebrow. This was going to be a long day. He followed her without hesitation, but she was at this point of the firm belief that he had no idea who she was. It didn't matter, of course. He would remember her eventually. But it was still a little disturbing. "Doesn't matter right now," she said, pulling him along. "He's just ..."

Before she could finish the sentence, Moya was hit. The impact threw both of them against the closest wall while the comm-system erupted with yells intermingling.

"How the frell could they find us again?" "What hit us?" "Where is everybody? Is everybody all right?" "Moya's been hit. We have to starburst now!" "Pilot?" "Why is he not answering?"

Chiana picked herself up from the floor and listened intently to the jabbering for a microt. Then she reached down, grabbed Crichton's arm and helped him back on his feet. "Everything where it's supposed to be?" she asked.

"Yeah, I think so," he replied. "Guess Scorpy doesn't know when to quit, eh?" he added and gingerly rubbed the back of his neck.

Chiana eyed him thoughtfully. "Memories all back?" she asked.

"For now. But they seem to have a tendency to disappear again," he said. "God, I feel awful."

"Let's get you to your quarters," she suggested and tried to pull him in that direction. But Crichton didn't budge.

"No, let's get to Command. I want to know what's going on while ..." He trailed off with a confused expression. "Uh ... while ..."

With a light sigh, Chiana acknowledged that his memories had gone bye-bye again, as he called it. "Come on. You need to lie down," she said and dragged him with her toward his quarters. This in and out was going to be taxing in the long run.

***

In Command

Bracing herself against the console, Aeryn stared intently at the empty clamshell. "Pilot?" she yelled again. "Frell!"

Just then, the image flickered on. "I am all right, Aeryn," Pilot said, but he sounded a little shaky.

Aeryn breathed a sigh of relief. "That's good to hear, Pilot. Is Moya all right?"

"For now. We will starburst in ten microts," he replied.

Aeryn held onto the console while Moya threw herself into another hap-hazardous starburst and Aeryn could not help thinking that they should have stayed far away from the UTs in the first place. None of this would have happened if she – and the others to some degree – hadn't been so set on returning to known space. "Frell," she muttered again. Somehow she felt that it wouldn't matter how many frelling starbursts they did, Scorpius and his henchmen would still find them.

"Rygel, where are you?" she called and glanced up at the ceiling. It had suddenly occurred to her that nobody had heard from the small Hynerian for awhile. "Rygel?" she tried again, but the comms remained silent.

"He is all right," came a sudden reply she had not expected to hear. The Kalish. "I saw him two microts ago. He is heading your way."

Aeryn felt mostly inclined to ignore the response, but then sighed. "Thank you, Sikozu," she said and made a face. She most certainly didn't like the Kalish. There was something off about her. And then something hit her; something John had said about the second bioloid version of herself. She had contained a tracking device. "Frell," she whispered under her breath. "Oh, I'm going to frelling ..." she started, but was jostled hard when Moya left starburst again.

"Chiana?" she yelled. "Where is John?"

"In his quarters. What the frell is wrong with his memories? They keep coming and going," Chiana replied instantly. "Stay down, Crichton," she added.

"Keep him there if you can," Aeryn said. "D'Argo, where are you?"

"Checking Lo'La. So far I have found nothing," the Luxan replied.

"Forget it. I don't think the device is on Lo'La. I need your help in Command," Aeryn said and narrowed her gaze while she stared at the readouts. Now that she knew what to look for, it should be easier to trace the signal ... if there was one. But there had to be one. The fact that the command carriers had found them twice was too much of a coincidence. "Pilot, you may want to starburst again as soon as Moya can. And we have to keep doing it until we find out how they are tracking us."

"I am not sure how many times Moya can starburst at such short notice," Pilot replied.

Aeryn sighed. "I know, Pilot, but if we don't keep moving, they will find us again. Unless we can find something that can insulate the signal. We have to find the device and destroy it. The sooner the better."

Pilot sighed. "I shall keep checking for it," he replied. "We will starburst again in fifty microts."

Aeryn nodded and wondered if they could find something that might block the signal for the time being. There was quiet obviously a signal emanating from somewhere. Although she had a pretty good idea where it came from, she would for now give the Kalish the benefit of the doubt.

A sudden idea asserted itself that made her narrow her eyes briefly. "Pilot," she called and turned her attention toward the clamshell. "Do you still have the coordinates for that out-of-galaxy trip we made?"

Pilot's image eyed her from the clamshell for a moment. "Yes, I do," he confirmed.

Aeryn nodded. It was dangerous, but safer than staying here. "Take us there. We have no other choice right now," she said.

Pilot nodded once and his image flickered off. Aeryn took a deep breath, braced herself against the console and closed her eyes. She didn't believe in deities and hence had no experience in asking such higher beings for help. But right now, they needed all the help they could get. "Zhaan," she whispered and grimaced briefly. She felt weird, asking a dead plant for help, but also figured that it could not hurt if she did try. "If you're still around, please stand by us now."

Moya entered a prolonged starburst at that very moment and for a microt, everything was tinged blue. Then the ordinary oddity of starburst took over and Aeryn held on for dear life while Moya shuddered and shook her way through the nothingness.

***

Moya came to a rattling stop after what seemed to be an unending trip into starburst. Aeryn barely managed to brace herself against the console and everything that wasn't nailed down went flying. She snapped an angry curse when something hit her sore ankle. Someone had left a cup lying around in command and she was almost certain about who that could have been.

She pulled her foot up and rubbed the sore spot for a moment through the leather of her boots. "Pilot, are we in the clear?" she asked and glanced up at the clamshell.

Pilot's image appeared almost instantly. "Yes, Aeryn, we are," he agreed. "For now."

She nodded. "Good. Maybe you and Moya could find a temporary hiding place. Just in case they have managed to trace us here."

"We are already searching," Pilot replied.

"Good," Aeryn said and let out a light sigh. All this running was really beginning to get on her nerves. And John's ability to get himself hurt and in trouble was bothersome too. "Chiana?" she called and glanced toward the ceiling.

"Yes?" the Nebari answered immediately.

"How is John?" Aeryn asked, hoping for a positive answer. At first, nothing answered her but silence. She narrowed her eyes. "Chiana?" she tried again.

"He's ... uh ... not here," Chiana replied hesitantly.

That didn't sound good. "Where the frell is he then? I thought I told you to look after him," Aeryn snapped. Nervous and in pain as she was, she knew her fuse was very short at the moment. She promised herself that she would make up for this later, but right now she could not be bothered to put restraints on her raging emotions.

"I was, but he ... uh ... well, he left," Chiana replied, her tone a tad sour. "I'm not his frelling wet nurse anyway," she added heatedly.

Aeryn made a face and was about to retort to that one when she heard a sound from somewhere behind her.

"Would you stop yelling at Pip? It's not her fault," John said.

Aeryn turned around and found him standing in the doorway, bracing himself with one hand against the frame while he had the other pressed against the back of his head. He looked unsteady, pale, tired. But he was up and moving and he appeared to be remembering everything right now.

With a slight smile, Aeryn propped her hands on her hips and eyed him. "What the frell are you doing, walking around? You've got a concussion. At least," she countered.

He blinked heavily and gritted his teeth, then pushed away from the frame and took two unsteady steps toward her. "I'm trying to get something done while my memory is marginally intact," he replied and gave her a shadow of a smile. Then his gaze shifted to the viewscreen behind her. "Where are we?"

"We've left the known galaxy again. Pilot and Moya are looking for a hiding place that might shelter us if the Peacekeepers have managed to track us here," she explained.

"And how are they tracking us?" he asked and shifted his gaze back to her.

"My best guess right now ... Sikozu has a tracking device embedded in her somewhere. Either that or D'Argo's ship. Pilot is trying to locate if there is a signal and if there is, where it's coming from."

He took another shaky step forward, came to a halt and closed his eyes. Aeryn grabbed out for him when he started swaying. "I gotta take something for this damned headache. Got any aspirin lying around?" he muttered, then opened his eyes again. "Why would Scorpy put a tracking device in Sputnik? He didn't seem too torn up about her leaving in the first place."

"Forget about Scorpius for now," Aeryn said, holding him steady. "You need to lie down and rest."

"I need to do something while I remember how to do it," he countered and gave her an almost hesitant grin before he flinched with a vengeance. "Shit," he hissed through gritted teeth. "I don't like ..." he began, but trailed off. He blinked sluggishly, then focused on her again. "Hi," he said.

Aeryn barely refrained from rolling her eyes. "Hi yourself," she countered. "You need to rest. You're in no condition to walk around," she added, turned him around and guided him out the door. "I'll take you back to your quarters. And this time you stay there. You hear me?"

"Uh ... sure," he agreed with a puzzled expression on his face. Quite obviously, his memories had taken a leave of absence again.

***

He woke up with a start and at first he had no idea where he was. All he knew was that his head was throbbing away with something that was beyond pain. It made his eyes water instantly and he squinted briefly, then groaned and closed his lids again.

It was at that point that something very strange happened to him. At first, all he saw on the inside of his lids was darkness. Then imagery started to assault his mind in rapid succession, scenes he didn't remember one moment and then could recall with complete clarity the next. The pain in his head had opened a floodgate of information that spilled over him in one suffocating wave after another. He gasped, tried to come up for air, but found it hard to focus on anything other than the obvious memories assaulting him.

He had no idea how long this went on, but when the information overload finally ceased, he spent a moment or two not breathing at all. And then he drew in a deep breath while the pain, which had already been bad, exploded to new levels inside his skull. "Aw shit," he hissed and clawed all ten fingers into his scalp in a vain attempt to at least redirect the pain and turn it into something more tangible.

Gasping at the sheer intensity of the agony, he reared up and blindly looked around the room. He saw, but could make no sense of it. The pain washed through his head in waves which slowly decreased in intensity. He pulled his legs over the edge of the bed he had been lying on and planted bare feet on a chilly floor. The chill appeared to do him good, though, because the pain – unbearable as it was – subsided to a less devastating level after a moment.

His breath came in rapid little gasps while he just sat there and held onto his sore head. The thought that putting his head down on the chilly floor might be beneficial became almost overwhelming. Careful to not aggravate the headache again, he slid off the bed, stretched out on the floor on his stomach and pressed his aching brow down against the coolness beneath him. Within seconds the chill penetrated his skin and spread through his bloodstream and it did wonders. Although the throbbing in his head did not subside completely, it became tolerable after a while and in response he closed his eyes and slipped off to sleep again.

To him it appeared to be only moments later that hands grabbed him and roughly pulled him off the floor. A myriad of thoughts rippled through his mind and the headache erupted like a slumbering volcano. He was deposited none too kindly on the bed again and most of all he wanted to roll off the other side and get back onto the cool floor. Instead he pride his eyelids open and blinked sluggishly at his tormentor.

D'Argo settled on the edge of the bed and pulled the covers up over him in one go. "You had fallen out of bed," he informed him quietly.

"No, I hadn't. I was on the floor on purpose," John rasped, his tone annoyed.

That caused the Luxan to eye him with some concern. "Why would you choose to lie on the floor, John? That makes no sense."

"Does too," John claimed and covered his face with both hands to block out the light that was searing his eyes. "It's cool."

"It's freezing," D'Argo corrected him. "And it is not good for your health."

"Screw my health. That's down the drain anyway. The chill helps the headache," John countered defiantly and dropped his hands to glare angrily at D'Argo. But the Luxan's expression was not exactly what he had expected.

"You remember me?" D'Argo asked.

"Yeah, of course I remember you," John countered, not in the mood for games. His head was killing him. "Who could forget that face," he added.

D'Argo arched an eyebrow, but obviously did not take offence at John's words. "Well, let's hope it lasts longer than the last time," he said cryptically.

John couldn't think beyond the thudding, which seemed to originate from a very sore spot on the back of his head. And then he remembered where it had come from, too. "Aw god. Why can't I ever not get hurt?" he rasped and closed his eyes firmly. "Just go away and let me suffer in peace, D."

"No, I will not leave you alone right now. Aeryn and Chiana are searching through what remains of Zhaan's apothecary. They may find something that can help you, my friend," D'Argo replied.

"Fine. Would you just be quiet, then? My head is really killing me." John draped one arm over his face and hoped against hope that total darkness might make a difference. It didn't, of course, but that seemed to be his lot in life.

***