On Moya

D'Argo, Chiana, Sikozu and Rygel were all present when they arrived in Command. John had lost a big part of his strength somewhere along the way and leaned heavily against the doorframe while trying to catch the breath the hap-hazardous sprint from the landing bay to Command had stolen from him.

But all the while, he kept his eyes on Aeryn. She had to be just as fatigued as him, if not more, and yet she moved like the powerhouse she was. There was simply nothing in this universe strong enough to stop her once she was in action.

"Pilot," she called, ignoring the four others.

"Officer Sun. It is good to see you again," Pilot replied.

Aeryn stopped briefly and smiled warmly at him. "It is good to see you too," she replied. "I will be down to talk to you in a little bit," she added. "Right now, I want you and Moya to get us away from this part of space. As fast as you can."

"We are on the way. Starbursting in five microts," Pilot replied.

Being suspicious by nature nowadays, John watched Aeryn with a mixture of adoration and concern. Was she who she claimed to be? She sure was acting like the Aeryn he remembered. But maybe Scorpius had just gotten better at making bioloids. Maybe ...! He stopped himself by squeezing his eyes shut and forcing the voices of reason and betrayal to be silent.

"John?" D'Argo's tone was full of concern. "Are you all right?"

He opened his eyes again and found everybody staring at him. "Yeah, I'm fine," he said and smiled to prove he was. He didn't feel fine. He felt clammy and sweaty and a little nauseous and just generally icky.

Aeryn eyed him for a long moment, her eyes a little narrowed, then she nodded lightly and turned back to the console she was holding onto for leverage during starburst.

The moment they left starburst again, she started working on the console and John was hit by a major bout of déjà vu. It was like watching the bioloid right before she had collapsed.

"Frell," Aeryn hissed, shattering the sense and reestablishing her reality to John and the rest of the crew, then she glanced up at the clamshell. "Pilot, how soon can we starburst again?" she asked.

"Moya needs to energize for half an arn. Why is it so important that we starburst again so soon?" Pilot replied and asked the question nobody else seemed either willing or brave enough to ask.

"Because that Tonga and her leviathan give me a bad feeling. Does Moya know Balroc?" Aeryn countered.

That was followed by a moment of silence from Pilot, whose image stared at her from the clamshell. "Yes, Moya knows Balroc," he replied and left it at that.

Aeryn glanced over one shoulder and gave John a look. She had obviously been right in her assumption that Balroc was the sire of Talyn; not that it mattered a whole lot right now.

Aeryn didn't pursue the subject, but returned her attention to the console for a moment, then turned back to face John. "Pilot, I think it is necessary to do a series of starbursts to confuse any possible pursuers. Is Moya up to that?" she asked.

"Yes, she is. We will calculate the most unlikely route to take. She is willing to do six starbursts in succession, but then she needs to rest," Pilot replied.

Aeryn nodded. "Good. Let's do that," she said, never taking her eyes off John. "I think you and I need to get some rest," she added.

John nodded once. He couldn't agree more. But there was something he needed to ask before they left the others behind. "Aeryn, can I ask you a question?" he asked.

She stared back at him, acting as if they were alone in Command. The others were following this exchange with curiosity. "Of course," she countered.

"Why don't you like Tonga?" he asked, ignoring the others as well.

Aeryn frowned, then glanced at D'Argo, then Chiana, then Rygel, then Sikozu, before returning her attention to him. "I don't know," she confessed. "There's something wrong." She paused, seemed to consider something with a briefly distant look in her eyes, and then refocused on him. "With Tonga, I mean. She was far too untouched by this so-called attack."

"Well, considering the firepower they have in Balroc, I'm not surprised she's cocky," John countered. "I mean, she's helped us out from the start. Granted, I had to twist her arm a little to get her to help us get you back, but she did it and I haven't heard squat about that since. And she helped figure out how to get you out of that ice box. And her people removed a new chip in my head and helped me get rid of the clone as well. I don't really see what there's to not trust about her."

For a long moment, Aeryn said and did nothing. She just stood there with her back to the console, one hand resting on the edge of it, while she stared at him. And then she again glanced around at the others before returning her attention to him. "And that does not strike you as being a little too easy?" she asked. "If Tonga has this kind of power, if Balroc can really destroy a command carrier just by firing at it, they would have attacked the Peacekeepers at random throughout the galaxy. If they are former Peacekeepers, that's what they would do."

"You can't know that," John claimed.

"Yes, I can," she argued. "Because that's what I would do if I had the firepower and the manpower to do it. If Balroc is really such a ... force to be reckoned with, they would have put him to good use long ago. I don't trust Tonga because she's too smug, she's too sure of herself."

"You got this chip," John said and held it up, "on Scorpy's command carrier. This chip led us straight to them, to the resistance."

"Yes, I know. It lead you straight to where the resistance was supposed to be ... one cycle ago. But trust me when I tell you, John, the resistance is not stupid enough to stay in one place that long. It makes no sense," she countered.

That had not crossed his mind before. John stared at her for a long moment, unsure of what to say. "But ... why ... why would she help us get you away from Scorpius if she's ... not with the resistance?" The whole thing made little to no sense to him right now. He couldn't figure out how to respond.

"Because she and the others around her are Black Ghosts," Aeryn replied with a slight sigh. "A special unit. They specialize in covert intelligence and hit-and-run strikes. Did you give her anything? Anything that might ..." She trailed off and sighed deeply. "Did you give her wormholes?"

John stared at her, eyes a little wide. His mouth had gone dry and he was aching for a drink of water right now, but he didn't think he could blame that on his addiction. "Well ... I promised her the Farscape 1," he said after a moment and glanced at D'Argo. "Did they pick her up?" he asked.

D'Argo shook his head. "No, your module is still in the bay where you left it," he replied.

John sighed. "Apart from that ... no, I didn't give her wormholes ... I think," he added and looked back over at Aeryn.

"How did they remove that second chip?" she asked.

"I actually don't know. I was out cold for two ..." He trailed off with a suddenly bad feeling in his guts. "You don't think that ..." he tried again, but couldn't get himself to finish that sentence.

"It's quite likely," Aeryn countered and shook her head sadly. "Frell," she nearly whispered. "If they used that time to extract the information," she continued after a moment, "then the Peacekeepers now have wormhole technology. They don't need your module any more. Or you, for that matter."

If he'd felt bad before, then he felt worse now. "Oh shit," he muttered under his breath. "This is bad news."

Aeryn nodded solemnly. "Yes, it is. Perhaps not so much for us, of course. But it is bad news for everybody who crosses them." She held her breath for a moment, then let it out again slowly while her knuckles turned white as she gripped the edge of the console behind her. "I don't think a war can be avoided now," she finished. "I need to sleep," she added huskily, pushed away from the console and walked over to him.

John stared at her as she came to a stop right in front of him. "I screwed up," he whispered.

"No, you didn't. You couldn't have known," she said and cupped a hand against his cheek. "There is nothing more we can do, nothing more to be said. All we have to do now is stay the frell away from whatever is coming. The further away from this we can get, the better," she added, let her hand slip down his arm and took his hand. "Come on. We both need rest right now. We're both not up to speed."

They turned and left Command behind to get some rest. John wasn't so sure he could sleep now, knowing what might have happened, but he also knew that his body right now would overrule his mind and rest was the one thing he needed badly right now.

***

D'Argo watched them go for a moment, then turned back to face the others. "War is imminent," he said and was saddened by the outcome of all this. In the end, John had paid with the wormholes to get Aeryn back. Whether it was a bad trade or not would remain to be seen.

"This is not good," Chiana said with a dark look in her eyes. "Not good at all. What the frell do we do now? We can't frelling dodge a war," she added.

"We'll try," D'Argo said. "That's the only thing we can do right now."

He felt an overwhelming need to be alone at this point, so he turned and left Command as well and headed back to his quarters. There, he sat down with his shilquen and began tuning it quietly.

There was something about this impending war that made him feel a strange kind of inner peace. The outcome – if these Peacekeeper wannabes had indeed stolen the technology from John's brain – was inevitable. This was much, much bigger than all of them put together and no matter how they might rage against it, there was nothing they could do to stop this tidal wave about to hit the galaxy. The question that remained now was how they were going to avoid getting caught in the middle of this impending war.

***

Some arns later

He slept like the dead, heavily, deeply, so far away that he didn't stir when she moved. Aeryn lay on her back and stared up at the ceiling while he clung to her even in sleep, his breathing even and his temperature back to normal. His skin no longer felt clammy and he wasn't sweating any more either.

She idly ran her fingers over his lower arm draped over her chest and tried to put things straight in her mind. She had been out of commission for nearly a cycle, which in and of itself bothered her beyond reason. She had missed out on some heavy-duty activity in his life and all because she had been foolish enough to think that she could outrun the pain of losing the other John. His death still gnawed at her like vermin on a rotting carcass and she assumed that his ghost would stay with her for the rest of her life. But, essentially, he was still with her in body as much as in spirit, clinging to her in sleep now as he had back on Talyn.

With an anguished sigh barely repressed, she closed her eyes and wondered if it was possible to love two men equally. It was hard to distinguish between them. Apart from a few minor details that had made up her entire relationship with him on Talyn, this was John and always would be John. He was a little more haunted, a little tenser than his twin. He had seen more hardship and, if the others were to be believed, had pined for her while she had been away, partly consumed with jealousy, partly devastated at being the one left behind.

Gently, she turned her head and eyed him, his face. How could she ever have considered leaving him behind? He was as much a part of her as she was obviously of him and no matter what she did, said or thought, that was a fact she could not outrun. Not that she wanted to any more. Their life together might not be easy in the future, nor would it be safe, but she would rather fight and die at his side than leave him and never know what happened to him. She knew now that she would have wondered for the rest of her life, never quite being able to let him go, never really being able to move on, if she had stayed away. She knew that if Scorpius had not caught up with her when he did, she would have turned back.

She returned her attention to the ceiling above the bed and turned her thoughts to the possible future ahead of them. If there was a war, it would be best to get away from this area as fast as possible. But where could they go? Would there be any place out there that was even marginally safe? The UTs were positioned between the various races with Peacekeeper space taking up one half of the area, while the rest was divided between Scarrans, Nebari, Hynerians and the Luxans. There were others as well, but on a grand scale they did not count. So, who would be the first to strike back? Probably the Scarrans, followed closely by the Nebari. The Hynerians would not get involved until the war hit their territory and neither would the Luxans. All in all, the Peacekeepers, the Scarrans and the Nebari would be the major players in this war.

Exhausted, yet still unable to sleep, she closed her eyes and sighed. Maybe they should all go to Earth after all. Maybe they should just get John to open one of his frelling wormholes and take a ride into the unknown.

"You should sleep."

His voice startled her. His breathing had not changed at any point and she had therefore assumed that he was asleep. That was a major change in this John that she had not suspected. She turned her head a little to face him and found him looking at her with a strange expression. "I will in a while," she said quietly.

"Rest is important," he insisted and slipped a hand onto her stomach. "Considering," he added.

Aeryn frowned a little. "Considering what?" she asked and raised her head a little to glance at his hand. He had spread his fingers out over her stomach and was nearly covering it all.

He pressed his brow against her shoulder and sighed. "I know," he said.

Ever since she had laid eyes on him the very first time, she had realized immediately that he was peculiar; especially since he had a tendency to spout odd comments that seemingly had no connection to anything. "Know what?" she asked, shifted a little and turned on her side to better face him.

He was frowning back at her at this point, wide awake. "About the baby," he said and there was something in his tone she didn't really like. He sounded a tad threatening.

"What baby?" she asked and sat up. "What the frell are you talking about?"

He sat up, too, his expression matching his tone now. He looked suspicious. "You're pregnant. Noranti told me before you left but I didn't get the point until you were gone."

Aeryn's own expression had darkened considerably. "Pregnant?" she asked.

"Yeah, with child, expecting, bun in the oven, that kind of thing. Are you telling me that you're not pregnant?" he countered and glanced down at her stomach as if that would tell him the truth.

"I am not, nor have I ever been, with child. I was not with child when I left Moya and I am not with child now. Where the frell would you get such a ridiculous idea?" she demanded. All things considered, she thought she was handling this situation fairly well. Obviously, someone had put ideas in his head and he had taken them seriously.

"Noranti told me," he insisted.

"Who the frell is Noranti?" Aeryn asked, shifted around and pushed back a little to put some distance between them so she could better see his face.

John stared at her and what she saw in his eyes was something she had never expected to see there. Cold, brutal disbelief. "The old woman. Granny. Three-eyes," he countered, his tone almost timid, yet full of dangerous undercurrents.

Aeryn's frown deepened while she struggled with her memory. Then she remembered the old crone. "You would believe a stranger over me?" she asked, her own tone not nearly as forceful as she had intended it to be.

"Well, Granny isn't exactly a stranger any more. She stayed with us for a full cycle," he said, his tone suddenly dead and cold. "So, you're not pregnant, are you?"

Aeryn stared back at him for a long moment, before she shook her head minutely. "No, I am not. I don't know this ... Granny and I don't particularly give a frell what she told you, John. I am telling you that I am not, nor have I ever been, with child. Don't you think I would have told you if I was? Do you really think I would have gone off to join the resistance if I had been with child? How frelled do you think I am?"

Angered by his lack of belief and by the fact that others would fill him with lies he would believe ahead of what she told him, she got out of bed, grabbed her clothes and then stopped short. "I had doubts when I left. I know I left anyway, but I would have turned back if I hadn't run afoul of Scorpius," she added quietly. "For all I know, that old woman was someone Scorpius planted here to make sure you followed me or some dren like that. Only, you didn't, did you? You chose to remain here and do nothing. Don't blame me for the lies others tell you."

That said, she turned and strode out to head back to her old quarters. If he was not going to trust her, he would have to deal with that on his own. She was not in the mood for this kind of dren right now.

***

John was stumped. He could not describe it in any other way. She hadn't displayed the confused ignorance that the second bioloid had when he had mentioned the baby and she hadn't attempted to make him forgive her or anything along those lines. She had been downright blistering mad that he would take someone else's word over hers. For a moment, he remained where he was, then he jumped out of bed, intent on following her and setting things straight, but he had not taken the sheets into consideration and instead of hitting the floor on his feet, he hit it with his face instead.

Dazed from the impact, he nevertheless pushed himself up on his hands and knees and struggled to disengage himself from the sheet wrapped around his legs. Halfway through that exercise, he realized two things at once. He was bleeding and Aeryn had come back.

She dropped down on her knees in front of him, grabbed his face with both hands and lifted it up. "What the frell are you doing?" she asked, her expression full of stunned surprise.

He grinned and winced when that hurt his cut lip. "Falling on my face for you?" he asked and gingerly prodded the sore cut. "Ouch," he muttered.

She helped him get out of the entanglement and back to his feet and he realized he would rather have smashed his face in than let her walk away from him again. Aeryn eyed him, her hands again cupping his face, as she gingerly wiped away the blood quelling from his lip with the ball of one thumb. "You are frelling insane, you know that?" she asked and shook her head. "I want to take a look at that cut. Come on," she said, picked up his discarded t-shirt and pressed a snip of it against his lip. "Hold that there so you don't bleed all over the place," she added, took his other hand and pulled him along with her.

Once they reached the med bay, she had him sit down on a stool where after she proceeded to clean the cut and cover it with some translucent sludge that eventually turned into a band-aid after drying. Then she stood back and eyed him.

John eyed her back and despite the stab of pain it caused him, he grinned at her. "I'm an idiot, Aeryn. When are you gonna learn that?" he asked and reached up to poke at the wound.

She grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away from his mouth. "Stop poking it. It will not heal if you keep touching it," she admonished, then made a face. "I know you're an idiot, John," she added with a small smile. "I just wish you would trust me a little more."

"I do trust you," he said. "It's just ... the Scarrans made a bioloid of the bioloid and she didn't know the other bioloid was pregnant, so ... I ... well ... anyway, it made me suspicious and ... afraid when you said you weren't pregnant and ..."

She pressed her hand over his lips, stopping the word-stream. "Two things, John," she said. "First off, bioloids can't be pregnant. Essentially, they're machines. Secondly, I am hurt that you could not tell the difference between me and that ... copy."

He sighed heavily. Looking back now, he knew that all the signs had been there, that her zombie-like behavior should have tipped him off long before she stopped functioning. But the truth was that it hadn't and that was all there was to say about that. No what-ifs or maybes were going to change anything about that now. "You know ... thinking about it now, the signs were obvious ..." He stopped, shook his head sadly, and then focused on her. "So, you're not pregnant?" he asked.

She shook her head and folded her arms over her chest. "No, I am not," she said, stepped forward and touched his face with the fingertips of her right hand. Her eyes were a little too glassy, her smile a little too shaky as she traced the lines of his face along the hairline, down over his nose, along the outer lines of his lips down to his chin, along his jaw line. Then she met his eyes dead on and sighed lightly. "Life can be a stack of dren sometimes," she stated in a husky tone of voice. "But I don't mind if we're together."

Despite the cut on his lip, he smiled back at her, grabbed her wrist and pressed her palm against his lips while never taking his eyes off her. "I missed you," he said into her palm. "I missed you bad."

"And I've learnt how to miss you. The hard way," she replied sadly and stepped closer. "Promise me something, John," she added in a near whisper.

"Anything," he said, meaning it.

"If it comes down to choosing between me and the universe ..." she started, but he stopped her by gently pressing his hand over her mouth.

"No need to say it," he said with a smile. "I'll make the right choice, should the occasion arise. Let's just make sure it doesn't, okay?"

She stared at him over the edge of his hand, her eyes liquid with emotion. Then she pulled his hand away from her lips. "If there is a war, can you promise me that you will not try to avert it; try to fight for the right side?"

"I'm not fighting this war. This isn't my fault and I don't want to get involved. The PKs and the Scarrans are gonna be too busy fighting each other to bother about me. I didn't ask for the technology and I didn't hand it over freely. I can't be held responsible for this," he said, repeating what he kept trying to convince himself of in his own mind. The matter of fact was that he was deadly serious about not wanting to get involved. This was far bigger than him, far bigger than any of them, and if the war came, there was nothing at all he could do to avert it.

***

One monan later

The first signs of an impending conflict had started popping up. It wasn't anything big or remarkable, but Aeryn recognized the signs. She kept her mouth shut about it, though. There was no need to add to the burden that John was carrying. His continued insistence that he was not going to get involved and that this was not his war was beginning to sound feeble to her and she knew that he was aching to do something. She had recruited the others to help her maintain a status quo, as he called it, by making sure that they all kept assuring him of how this was not his fault. Rygel slipped up on occasion, of course, but had so far avoided pushing him too far.

Aeryn sat on one of the sills in Command and watched John fiddle with the console, searching for information that Pilot would not allow him to see. Aeryn was confident that they could keep this ruse up for a while longer. At least she hoped that they would be able to continue it until it was too late and they were too far away. But at present, Aeryn had the distinct impression that the war, if it came to one, was gathering around them instead of far behind them. No matter where they went, there were vague reports of unrest, of unsettlement among Peacekeepers or Scarrans or Nebari. So far there were no reports on the Luxans or the Hynerians, but Aeryn feared that wouldn't be far behind. And it was only a matter of time before John realized what was going on.

They were running low on various items, food being one of them, and within a foreseeable future they would have to find a commerce planet and pick up something edible. And it was quite likely that John would catch on at this point. The question was just how he would respond to the fact that his friends had kept this a secret from him.

Aeryn sighed lightly and turned her attention to space drifting by. No, their lives would most definitely not be easy. D'Argo had assured her that John would not be happy when he found out. As the Luxan put it, the man had a problem with lies. Aeryn couldn't help the small smirk that spread over her lips. It was joyless and a little tense and therefore expressed how she felt quiet well. Tense and joyless.

"You okay, babe?"

She turned her attention back to John and gave him a crooked grin. "Yes, fine," she replied, swung her legs off the sill and rose. "You?" she asked.

He eyed her, slightly suspicious, then nodded and shrugged in one go. "Yeah, fine," he replied. "Seems a little too quite out there, doesn't it?"

"Out where?" she asked and sauntered over to the console. So far, she had been able to dissuade him from searching too deeply by distracting his mind with sex, but she had a feeling this would not work on this particular day. He had been absentminded for most of the day cycle and didn't respond much to her touch.

"Out there," he replied and made a sweeping gesture towards space in general. "I can't help thinking that we're not getting all the newsfeeds," he added and snorted.

"Could be," she agreed and eyed the console. He sure was searching for the information. "We are in a remote part of the UTs," she added. "Sometimes the signals have trouble getting through."

"Yeah, bad reception. Maybe we should get a little closer. This not knowing business is driving me nuts," he said, his tone a little tense.

Aeryn slipped her arms around him from behind and planted a kiss in the nap of his neck. "Why should we care about what we cannot prevent?" she whispered against his skin.

He stopped moving for a moment, then sighed. "I know I shouldn't," he agreed, "but I can't help it. They pulled this crap out of my head. Granted, I didn't ask for it and I didn't give it up freely, but I still feel responsible."

"But you're not," she countered and ran her lips over the back of his neck. He shuddered at her touch, a good sign. Just to add to the distraction, she curled her fingers against his chest and stomach and felt him inhale sharply.

"Oh, get a room. Frelling body breeders."

The whirr of Rygel's thronesled was distracting at any time and Aeryn felt like kicking his eema out the nearest airlock for interrupting her attempt to distract John.

"At least we get to breed," John countered and draped his right arm over Aeryn's.

Rygel huffed indignantly and decided to take off again.

"Frelling slug," Aeryn muttered.

"Don't dizz him, babe. He's horny and has nowhere to take it," John countered and turned around, a grin on his lips.

Aeryn returned his grin. "But we do," she said and eased against him.

"Ooh yeah, we sure do," he agreed and wrapped his arms around her. "Why are you trying to distract me? Do you know something?" he then asked and eyed her.

For the longest moment, all she did was stare back. Then she sighed, pulled out of his arms and turned her back on him.

"You do know something. What have you heard? And more importantly, why didn't you tell me?" he demanded.

"Because you worry too frelling much about things you cannot change," she said tiredly, then turned back to face him again. "John, for the love of Cholok," she added and tried hard not to sound too exasperated. "You said so yourself, you never asked for this. Why should you be held responsible for this technology? Why should you be made to suffer for this?"

"I didn't ask for it, no," he agreed, "but I've got it and I know how to use it. Does that mean I'm smart enough to use it well? I don't know. I'm sure as hell not smart enough to avoid those who want to use it for bad. I lost it to the wrong people because I'm too frelling naive. Does that make me responsible? I'd say yes." He was upset, even a little angry, but Aeryn was not going to allow him to take on the blame for this.

"And I'd say it doesn't," she countered sternly. "Chain reactions are unpredictable and you cannot hold any one person responsible for them. Whoever sets something like that in motion may not even be aware that this would be the outcome. You may have been naive in the beginning, John, but also remember that you did not know that these Ancients of yours had put that frelling dren in your head in the first place. You only found out because Scorpius dug too deep. I'd call this one frelling big chain reaction. And you were not the start of it. That Ancient you call Jack was. He started it by putting this dren in your head in the first place. You're a link in the chain, not the catalyst."

John stared at her, obviously caught between wanting to be mad and not quite getting there. "Yeah, but ..." he tried, but she cut him off by pressing a finger against his lips.

"No, John. There are no buts in this. Yes, I have heard vague reports of unrest among Peacekeepers and Scarrans, but that doesn't mean it's connected to your wormhole technology. They've been at each other's throats for countless cycles, always squabbling about territory and military forces. A war between Peacekeepers and Scarrans is inevitable. It will come sooner or later," she said. What she had in mind right now was risky at best. She knew she was going out on a limb with this and wasn't sure she wouldn't fall once she opened this - as John would say - can of worms. But she had just decided that knowledge might be better. He might calm down if he knew what was going on and saw he could do nothing about it. "So what if they use the technology against each other? If the Peacekeepers can figure out how to use it, so can the Scarrans. In the end, they will destroy each other and that will be the end of that war. It might take cycles, granted, but that's what wars do. They take cycles. They are started over stupid things and in the end, enemies become friends. And before long a new union will find new enemies to fight and it all starts over again. It is the way of things. There is nothing we can do to change this."

"Except for that one little detail you insist on overlooking, Aeryn," John said. "The Peacekeepers have the technology. The Scarrans don't. So doesn't that mean that Peacekeepers have the trump card? If they know how to use the technology, won't they use it to destroy or enslave other races?"

"They are doing that already, John. They don't need wormholes for that," she argued. "What you don't seem to understand in all this is that no matter what weapons they have or don't have, they will eventually attack each other. With the technology, the Peacekeepers at least stand a chance against the Scarrans. So far, Peacekeepers have not had the ability to attack and much less destroy a Scarran dreadnaught. The balance between them is fragile. If the Nebari decide to add to the mix, there will be three sides to this. And there is still nothing we can do to stop it."

He remained silent for a moment, then sighed deeply and leaned back against the console. "Maybe you're right," he said after a moment. "Maybe ..."

Before he could say more, Pilot's image appeared on the clamshell. "Officer Sun. Commander," he said, his tone anxious.

Aeryn frowned as she glanced up at him. Something told her that the balance had just shifted, that something had gone wrong. "What is it, Pilot?" she asked.

Pilot stared at them with huge eyes for a moment, then he lowered his head. "There has just been issued a general high alert throughout the Uncharted Territories," he said. When neither Aeryn nor John responded immediately, he looked from one to the other, then glanced toward the doorway as D'Argo, Chiana, Sikozu and Rygel joined them, alerted by Pilot's message, which he had stated on all channels. "The Peacekeepers have just declared war against the Scarran Empire by destroying three dreadnaughts," he finished.

***