Depth and Despair
She could hear faint whispers slipping all around her, but she was unable to hold onto any of the words--to grab them and make them coherent as she struggled to open her eyes.
It was so hot. She hated the heat. She gasped, her fingers slipping across her sides as they contacted slick fabric. It was covering her, all over, suffocating her. She gasped and pulled at it, trying to rip it open, trying to breathe.
"Officer Sun, you must not struggle."
The whispers again, and this time she caught some of the words. No one called her Officer Sun anymore, except sometimes Pilot. She was Aeryn now. At least, she thought she was. Sometimes it was hard to know who she was now without John, and she didn't know where he was.
She didn't know why he wasn't here. He was always there when she needed him. "John," she whispered, reaching, trying to find whoever had been speaking the whispers. But it couldn't be John, she knew, he only called her Officer Sun when he was playing with her and he wouldn't play at a time like this.
Not when it was so hot she couldn't even think.
"Where is John?"
More whispers and Aeryn gasped, pulling at the suit--fingers covered in the same material as her grabbed at her wrists, stilling her movements.
"Where is he, Officer Sun? If you tell me, I will take you to him."
She didn't know where John was. Why was he asking her? John…John was dead…
"No!" she screamed, trying to rip herself away. The hands wouldn't let go, and they had more strength in them than she had left.
Not a whisper this time, oh no. Aeryn's eyes pressed shut, and she was afraid to open them now. She knew who it was that spoke.
He wanted John. He couldn't have him. Aeryn shook her head, trying to breathe, trying to think about anything but the unbearable heat. John was dead. She held back a sob, saw him close his eyes.
He had died.
But somehow that didn't seem like the end to her. She saw John again, standing in a hallway, walking away. Asking they help him stop Scorpius because of a message from his twin, because there had been two of them, and only one of them had died.
She'd left the other.
Aeryn shook her head again in denial. She'd left him. Left him where his twin had left her, and now she couldn't make it right. Scorpius would kill her or use her and John was never safe, she could not help him now. Not like this. She knew this heat, and they would all be better off if she were dead.
"Leave…me…alone!" she screamed, trying to move away. Her body wouldn't listen and Scorpius didn't let go.
"I am trying to help you," he hissed. "I found you crashed here. Your Prowler can be repaired, but you appear to be suffering from heat delirium, not something from the crash, I need you to tell me what happened so I can help you."
Help her? If she had the strength, she would have laughed. Scorpius didn't help people. He destroyed them. He needed to destroy her now, for all their sakes. "Kill me," she demanded. "Do it, Scorpius," she snapped, her voice taking on strength as she realized the only choice now left. "There's no coming back from this. It's too late. You can't use me to get to John, I'm already dead."
Her eyes opened blearily, so she could watch him, see what he would do. So she could face her death with what little honor she could manage, but he was smiling when his face came into focus, and she knew he wasn't going to simply let her go.
"You forget, Officer Sun, I have come back from this. Every day of my life."
She shivered, which she thought was strange, because there was nothing anywhere but heat. Pulling everything that mattered about her away, piece by piece.
He slid a couple of his black clad fingers down her face, still smiling. "I can save you," he said simply. "Until we can find a cure, I can stave the delirium off, I can keep you alive."
She shivered again as heat flooded over her, hitting like a blow. Her fingers slipped again along the ground, trying to find something to hold on to. He could save her?
Aeryn shook her head again, her cheeks flushed red as the heat started to win its battle. "No," she whispered. "No, no. Kill me."
If she was alive he would use her to get to John. If he found out about the child, he would use it too.
"I will not kill you, Officer Sun," he whispered. "I will save you, or I will leave you here. It is up to you."
Cold dread somehow took hold of her, holding off the heat for one horrible instant before it came back with a vengeance and she was left gasping for breath. He would leave her here. He would do it. Leave her to slowly go mad.
"Why are you doing this to yourself?" he whispered again, his voice a mockery of compassion. "I can take all the pain away. I can find Crichton, take you to him. I believe I know where Moya is."
Moya. John. Aeryn shook her head again, tears in the corners of her eyes as she prayed one last time for death. John had said he was better off dead when she had left, but he was wrong, he would be better off if she was.
"We are nearing the point where even I will not be able to help you," he said.
What would John want her to do, she wondered. If he knew she was carrying a child, if he knew she was so close to positive that it was his, she knew what he would have her do. Anything. Anything to stay alive, to protect the child.
Even if it meant endangering him.
Hands in her hair again and she flinched away, only John could touch her like that. It had been so long since he had, and the sudden realization that dying meant never seeing him again--meant leaving him where she had, alone and desperate and pleading, believing she could never love him…she held back a sob.
She couldn't leave him like that, not again. He needed her as much as she did him.
She pressed her eyes shut. "Save me," she whispered, before beginning to lose her fight with consciousness. "Please."
Scorpius gave her a slight shake. "I need you to make a deal with me, Officer Sun."
She tried to focus on his face, but it was spinning away from her like everything else.
"I need you to guarantee me protection. Asylum, if you will, aboard Moya."
Was he actually asking that? Aeryn couldn't believe he would. Crais had, though. Crais had become an ally, given his life for them all. Maybe Scorpius wasn't really that different. After all, he no longer had his command carrier, he no longer had anything.
"Promise me," he said. "And I will heal you."
Aeryn nodded faintly and then fell unconscious, it was a good enough promise for Scorpius. She was unlikely to remember most of the encounter, anyway, and the less she did, the better it suited him.
He lifted her up slightly, pulling her into his arms, forcing the mask over her head and inserting one of his few precious cooling rods. Braca had not been able to give him much before he pushed him into the small transport to escape--just a few cooling rods, a spare suit, and the location of Officer Aeryn Sun.
Scorpius smiled slyly as he laid Officer Sun back on the ground, she was cooling already. It wouldn't be enough, not for long, but it would do for now. Though Scorpius had lost all his contacts along with his ship, Braca still had a few spies in the Peacekeeper rebels, and he had learned that Officer Sun's unit had been sent on a suicide mission.
An assassination they shouldn't have been able to pull off, let alone escape from. He'd learned not to underestimate any of them, so he was not surprised she was still alive, even if her condition was dire.
This heat delirium was drug induced. Slower, but far more deadly. He had just found her in time. The only way to get the cure was from the people that had made the disease, and chances of that were unlikely.
She still had her uses, however, Scorpius thought, if he could keep her alive long enough. She was the key to John Crichton, and he was sorry it had taken until now to see it.
John thought so differently from him, that it made his reactions hard to predict. He had never thought the neural clone of John Crichton would start a chain reaction that would destroy the chip, instead of giving into reason and helping him stop the Scarrens.
He had never believed John Crichton would destroy his ship, instead of actually having decided to side with him over the greater threat.
He would not make the mistake a third time, he would not assume John would easily be brought to his way of thinking. It would take time. And loss.
When John had nothing left, he would see reason.
Scorpius's lips spread backwards in another grotesque smile, and he looked back down at the dying Aeryn Sun.
She would be the first casualty, most likely the most devastating, but John would recover. And Scorpius would be there by then, in the shadows, helping John whether he wanted it or not much like the neural clone had been doing all along.
And like the neural clone, John would learn to eventually accept him. Rely on him. Turn to him. And then he will have won.
Scorpius got a thrill at the thought, and so little could bring out passion in him anymore. He had lost his ship, his status, his power. But he knew more than Grayza, who had taken his place, and he would beat her in the end.
She saw John Crichton as an amusement, something to play with--but she was playing all of the wrong games and it wasn't going to get her anywhere. He may not yet understand John Crichton, but she understood him less.
Though Grayza had done one thing right in her interrogation, playing the role of friend and not enemy, trying to gain his trust. She had been impatient, used drugs to speed it along and that had been her downfall--because John was stronger than that, not so easily fooled.
Trapping him would take time.
Scorpius placed a hand on the exposed skin of Aeryn Sun's face to feel her temperature, and it would take the right tools.
When he had first figured out Crichton's real motivations for breaking into his Gammak base, he had almost not believed them. When Crichton had escaped, and he had known Gilina Renaez to be the traitor, he had tracked her movements for the past day. Found out that she had sabotaged the genetic scan, and gone to medical to retrieve a spare peripheral nerve without orders--one that was created as a perfect match for Aeryn Sun.
The more he learned about Crichton, the easier it became to believe that was why he had been there, to save Aeryn Sun's life, that he truly had not known the base was designed to study wormholes. It was almost an unthinkable coincidence, but Scorpius could not deny the evidence. Crichton would risk his life to destroy wormhole knowledge, to save his friends, but never to steal the knowledge from someone else.
And Crichton had never needed to gain wormhole knowledge from him, anyway, he had been doing fine on his own.
Scorpius admired that. Crichton had none of the resources Scorpius had been working with, and even without the Ancients knowledge, he had made it farther than him. Had actually traversed wormholes while he was still fighting to prove they were real.
And everyone here called him inferior, Scorpius thought with a sneer. They were fools. They had thought him inferior as well, at the start, but none that had challenged him had ever lived, except for the other they thought was less than them--John Crichton.
They were so alike, and Scorpius could not understand why John could not see it. He was very perceptive in everything but this. They would be such perfect allies if he would not resist, but he continuously made everything harder. He kept fighting the way things had to be.
He had heard that John Crichton destroyed a Dreadnought, in nothing but a blink of the eye. That power could not be allowed to slip away, not when the Scarrens were pushing at all of the Peacekeeper boundaries and prepared to start a war.
Aeryn Sun was whispering John's name now, and he wondered briefly how she had come to be so far away from him. He had thought them inseparable. He hoped she still meant as much to John as he obviously still meant to her, or else this was all for nothing.
No, he thought with a shake of his head. John Crichton didn't work that way. He didn't exact revenge. He could hate Aeryn Sun now, and still trade a promise for her life. This would work. He was worried what would happen when she died, if they would still honor her contract, or if they would kill him the same day.
It was a risk he would have to take, no one else understood the stakes. No one else could force John to do what was needed.
"John? John, I'm sorry, please--"
"Shh," Scorpius whispered. "Officer Sun, he is not here."
Her eyes shot open and when she saw him she tried to move away. "You, what are you, where--"
"I am helping you," he said, gently as he could. "You crashed here. I found you, placed you in a cooling suit."
Her eyes clouded with confusion, Aeryn looked around, ran a hand along the strange suit she was wearing, felt the cooling rods at her head. "What have you done to me?" she asked softly.
"It is just the suit," he assured. "You need it, you are suffering from heat delirium. I saved you, and in return you offered me asylum."
Aeryn looked at him. "I…did?"
"You must rest, you are still far from well. We will be going to Moya soon. Crichton will no doubt be there soon as well."
"Moya?" Aeryn asked dazedly. She looked up him. She tried to remember how she had got here. She tried to understand why Scorpius was helping her and had not simply killed her, but she could make sense of none of it, and though she felt cooler now the heat was still enough to make her sick.
"Rest," he said again. "Everything will be well, that I promise you." Scorpius smiled down at her, pushing a sweat soaked strand of black hair out of her eyes, imitating compassion.
And she was desperate enough that she saw it as real.