Title: All Man's Monsters
Summary: The crew of Moya learns that their harmless little human is not as harmless as they thought.
Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching taped episodes of her favorite shows :(
"Pilot... we're heading back... be ready to get out of here A.S.A.P. as soon as we're aboard."
Crichton's voice over the comms had a distinct edge to it, one that gave Pilot no doubt that he best follow the human's recommendation without question. If there were danger Pilot would obey on the whim of even the most uncertain suggestions from the crew. He would not allow any danger to come to Moya or her crew. Any threat best be treated as a very real one... he was not willing to risk Moya or the crew aboard her.
Although he could not help but wonder (since he was so good at simultaneous thought multi-tasking the pondering did not hinder his monitoring or preparing for departure) what could have happened. They had set in orbit around a commerce planet and they had done thorough scans of other ships nearby to be certain they were not species in league with Peacekeepers. It seemed perfectly safe. Zhaan, Crichton, and D'Argo had gone down to the planet an arn ago... and now they were back telling Pilot he should be ready to depart as soon as they were aboard.
Then again, he had noticed his and Moya's crew seemed inclined to find trouble in the most peaceful, innocuous settings. If it were not so satisfying to have them on the ship, he might request they leave for Moya's safety. But alas their presence gratified Moya and him as well, so they would continue to dodge danger as they did so now.
The transport pod settled down in Moya's hanger bay, powering down as half a dozen DRDs came scurrying to it, chirping in anticipation to go over the pod after leaving ship... looking for wear, damage, and repairs needed to be made.
Their eyestalks swiveled absently at the crew that filed out the door and down the stairs.
First was Ka D'Argo, quickly followed by John Crichton. They both looked agitated, and the human also a bit confused. That was not unusual... he was confused a lot.
John frowned, uneasy, and opened his mouth to tell Pilot they were on board and Moya could leave, but his first sounds were preceded by a slight shift under their feet and a groan from Moya as she pulled away from orbit and vectored once again for open space.
Robbed of the distraction, Crichton reluctantly turned back to the transport pod and waited impatiently as Zhaan finally emerged.
Still locked to her side like a frightened child was the... creature they had picked up in the market. More correctly Zhaan had.
It was clinging to Zhaan's clothing as tightly as possible, tucking its body against the Delvian's side and blinking up at D'Argo and Crichton fearfully. It was no larger than Rygel, and looking not so unlike him. Thick body, short legs, but with four arms and gray coloration. It also had a plated head and back-scales that reminded Crichton of Pilot. Turtle-like in a very distant way. It's eyes were lavender and slitted like a cat's... and flitting around the hangar bay fervently.
"Is... safe... Leviathan?" it asked in a melodic voice that rang of quivering fear.
Zhaan nodded gently, touching its head that was nestled just beneath her breast, "Yes... we are aboard our Leviathan, you are safe now."
The creature nodded, shivered, then slowly shimmied and shuffled down Zhaan's body to the floor. Upon reaching it, the being hunkered by her leg, touching one of her feet with a bird's claw like hand, stroking her shoe lightly as though in comfort.
Crichton stared at it, trying not to but curious and intrigued at the same time at their strange guest.
They had been in the market together, peacefully browsing when a commotion broke out at the end of the bazaar. Before they were sure what was happening, the creature in their hangar bay now came bounding out of the obscuring crowd and sighted Zhaan. Eyes lighting as though recognition and hope, it had leaped into her arms and clung to her clothes. Things had happened quickly after that... though all of it was still perplexing to John. Zhaan had asked what was wrong with the small being and it had whispered something about 'Ferdarians'. It had been enough for Zhaan and with a sense of rush she had ushered them back to the transport pod and they had hurried back to Moya. From the rush Crichton could only assume they would be pursued and called Pilot to have them leave as soon as possible.
So now they were stuck with a strange critter.
"Zhaan..." Crichton glanced down at the startled alien, "Mind telling us what's going on? What is that?"
D'Argo was the one to answer, consciously keeping from moving closer to the being, "A Cognar."
Zhaan nodded, but it had done little to answer Crichton's question, "Cognar? What's that?"
Pilot interrupted, "Sorry to intrude, but did I happen to hear Ka D'Argo say we had a Cognar aboard?"
Zhaan nodded, "Yes Pilot... we brought him with us to escape Ferdarian hunters."
Pilot's image in the clamshell seemed agreeable to the arrangement.
The Cognar blinked hopefully at the image and inclined toward it, "Pilot..."
Pilot cocked his head, congenial, "Moya and I welcome you aboard."
The Cognar preened and used one of its free arms to stroke Moya's floor, "Leviathan... gentle..."
Zhaan smiled softly, "She is that... you are welcome to stay with us as long as you like."
The Cognar looked up at her plaintively, "Home... wish go home... take?"
"We will do so if it is in our power," Pilot answered, "if you would like to come to the den, we will see if it is possible."
The Cognar smacked it's lips with almost clicking and moved away from Zhaan, sidestepping D'Argo and Crichton and shuffling toward the door. It used legs and arms all like a crab scuttling around the beach. With surprising speed, it was gone.
"Whoa, wait... doesn't it need someone to show it the way?" Crichton asked.
Zhaan held up a hand, "He will find his way. Pilot, perhaps you should inform Aeryn and Rygel of our guest..."
Pilot nodded, "Of course," and quickly the image of the Pilot disappeared.
Crichton was left blinking, no less confused than when they'd first landed.
"Yo, Aeryn," Crichton found Aeryn in the galley, eating. She looked up at him, eyebrows flicking upward in what she managed to make a strange combination of recognition and condensation, "Crichton."
"You seen that little critter Zhaan brought back with us?"
Aeryn shook her head, "Pilot said it was a Cognar."
"Cognar... yeah... you know what that is?" he took a seat near Aeryn, hoping she would make the time to fill him in.
Aeryn nodded, "They are a very distant relative of Pilot's species."
Crichton blinked, a little surprised. That small thing was a relative of the massive creature Pilot was? He mused to himself, "You know... I did think they looked kind of similar. So I guess that means they're not dangerous, right?"
Aeryn cast him a look, "No. Harmless."
Crichton frowned at the clipped response, picking up that Aeryn wasn't in the mood to chat but so far he'd gotten more from her than anyone. He decided to push his luck, "So... what's their story?"
Aeryn saw Crichton go into one of his 'educate the human' modes and sighed, "Cognars are skittish creatures, no where near as intelligent or complex as Pilot's kind. Many species consider them delicacies."
A light went on, "Right... like Ferdarians."
Aeryn seemed about to ask how Crichton knew about Ferdarians but ultimately didn't. "They are noted for an ability to... absorb inherent species violence."
Crichton frowned, "Come again?"
Aeryn paused, wondering how to explain it, "They can... touch a member of a species and telepathically receive impressions and images of a species' genetic hostility. They're very sensitive to it... that's why Pilot warned everyone. The Cognar will refuse to make contact with D'Argo or I... our species are too violent, it would scare the Cognar to touch us."
Crichton recalled the frightened look the Cognar gave them in the hangar bay when it looked at him and D'Argo... no doubt the creature thought John was a Sebacean.
John frowned, "Yeah, but it was all over Zhaan; she's told us she was violent in her past."
Aeryn shook her head, "It's not an individual's violence... somehow it takes from genetic information the violence of a species by physical contact."
"Touch telepaths... like Vulcans."
Aeryn's brow furrowed but she didn't ask.
"So this... little crab running around Moya... it's not afraid of Zhaan."
Aeryn shook her head, "Nor of Pilot, Moya, or Rygel... Delvians, Pilots, Leviathans, and Hynerians do not have a sufficiently hostile ancestry to cause it fear or pain," she smirked at him, "and it wouldn't surprise me that you don't scare it either."
Crichton wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not.
Crichton stood, "Well, in any case, I think I'll go say hello to our guest."
Crichton walked into Pilot's den to see the Cognar perched on the nest near Pilot, flitting out a more avian, clawed hand to touch Pilot's whenever one came within reach. The contact seemed to reassure and comfort it, and Pilot allowed the contact.
The Cognar looked up at the entrance to the den and it's purple eyes widened at John. With a shudder it backed away closer to Pilot.
Crichton held up his empty hands, slowing his approach, "It's okay... I'm not here to hurt you... my name's John."
Pilot turned to the Cognar, touching it's shoulder, "Do not be afraid... John is gentle." Crichton decided to take that as a compliment, though the same comment coming from D'Argo or Aeryn would have been an insult.
The Cognar nervously twitched its fingers, "Sebacean... not gentle..."
Pilot looked back at Crichton, then to the Cognar, "John is not Sebacean."
The Cognar stopped, blinking, "No... face Sebacean..."
John smiled hopefully, "I just look like them... I'm a human."
The Cognar shifted on its feet, looking to Pilot for reassurance, "Human... gentle?"
Pilot nodded, paused, then answered, "I have only ever known one human; Commander Crichton. But John Crichton is gentle."
The Cognar cocked its head at John, "Gentle... good gentle..."
Crichton kinda liked the little guy, looked like a baby Pilot if one stretched their imagination... a lot.
Crichton took the chance to step closer. The Cognar tensed but did not shuffle away. Crichton all the same tried not to get too close to it, "You gonna be able to get this little guy home, Pilot?"
Pilot nodded down at his controls, "It appears he was taken from a vessel traversing common Cognar flight paths... we should be able to intersect that flight path and return him to a similar vessel."
John was relieved. He always hated the idea of bringing anyone else on Moya (it was no way to live, on the run, and he'd become more and more untrusting out here and didn't like the idea of an unknown in the crew). Hopefully they could get the Cognar back to its people quickly.
The Cognar reached out and touched Pilot. "Gentle..."
Pilot nodded absently, intent on his controls while the Cognar settled in beside him, casting a glance at Crichton. It didn't look terrified, but it also didn't look like it quite believed the human was 'gentle'.
They were in command, looking out the viewing window at the empty space that Pilot assured was not empty. He was certain this was the Cognar flight path, and the Cognar licked his lips and skittered to and fro on the floor like he expected one of his ships to appear.
The Cognar had been aboard for three solar days, keeping generally to itself and out of the way. It tended to isolation, most calmed by Moya herself (never was there a creature more gentle by nature and breeding than Moya), but when it was found in the populated tiers it was on Zhaan's heels if it could help it... if not then scampering lightly between proximity to Rygel or at a greater distance Crichton. It was still not certain of how gentle the human was (he looked so Sebacean), but it seemed to want to trust Pilot's word and when there was no one to follow it would John at a distance. It obstinately avoided Aeryn and D'Argo, which seemed fine by the two warriors.
They were now all on the command together, and the Cognar was alternating between listing around Zhaan's feet or near Rygel's thronesled. The Hynerian didn't appreciate the remora and snarled and hissed every time it came close, but the individual disposition didn't seem to matter to the Cognar... just the species. And Hynerians, it was convinced, were gentle.
D'Argo growled, "I say we should leave this place... if it is a well-known transport path other hunters could come. I for one am not willing to be engaged for the sake of a Cognar."
Crichton frowned, but Zhaan took the trouble of rebuking, "Sweet D'Argo... he is but a gentle creature looking to return home... surely you cannot begrudge him that."
Aeryn interrupted, "We're not saying that, but you brought him aboard without asking any of the rest of us... he's not our responsibility."
Rygel snorted, "I say we leave him here where his kind can pick up his frozen corpse."
John shot Rygel a look, "We're not spacing him, Sparky... look, isn't there some way we could, I don't know... signal his ship or something?"
The Cognar was puttering around Rygel's thronesled, like a pesky puppy underfoot.
Rygel snarled again, "Get away from me you filthy beast!" and unexpectedly backed up his thronesled then slammed into the creature.
With a surprised yelp its feet came out from under him and he slid along the floor... right into Aeryn's legs.
"RYGEL!" Zhaan snapped, moving already to the Cognar. Aeryn's face shadowed over with almost vacant thought, the Cognar freezing stock still for a microt. Zhaan neared the Cognar to help the two part.
But it attended to itself with due haste. A sharp and violent shudder passed through its body and a sick, twisted moan issued forth from its throat. With frantic speed it twisted back on to its legs and started quickly backpedaling away from Aeryn almost recklessly... right in Crichton's direction.
On impulse, Crichton knelt down and caught the creature that bumped roughly into him... and an explosion of visions in his own mind's eye rammed into him.
A thousand images shot through his mind. Clubs and fire, burnt hair and flesh, beating and thrashing and screaming. Fight instinct, predator, hunter, killer. Swords and knives, guns and bullets, blood pouring and guts spilling. Guttural roars, pounding fists, blood lust... thirst, vengeance, murder. Tanks, Napalm, nuclear bombs, Mengle, Manson, Daumer, Jack the Ripper. Concentration camps, POWs, torture practices. Rapid-fire weapons, chemical warfare, bombs, grenades, spears and arrows. Scalping, raping, caning, quartering, hanging, tearing of flesh... bare hands. Civil War, World War I and II, Korean War, Vietnam. Death, violence, murder... the primal, blood-stirring scream of a savage human ancestor migrating to the throat of a man not unlike Crichton... and it did not change. And then, that man screaming was Crichton.
Crichton blinked and came back to himself, jerking away from the Cognar on the floor and taking a quick step back.
The Cognar was screaming and writhing on the floor, little clawed hands curled and face twisted in panic and pain.
Aeryn looked up quickly at Crichton, eyes betraying her surprise at what the human had done.
The Cognar gasped and shivered violently, screeches turning into words, "No gentle... no gentle... afraid... afraid...!" As it did so it regained its feet, backing away from John... closer to Aeryn but no longer seeming to care about the Sebacean.
Crichton, pallor ashy, took another step away. His heart hammered... half with fear for what he saw and part he recognized as thrill for the hunt, a primal response he could not squelch for what he had seen but experienced in a greater way as well. His stomach twisted sickly at his excitement, and thinking of nothing else he could do he took another step away.
Zhaan was by the Cognar's side, kneeling beside him and touching him softly.
The Cognar grasped at Zhaan, running all four hands over her and pleading, "Away... away from bad..." and glanced fearfully at John.
Crichton swallowed heavily, looking up at the others. Everyone had their eyes on him, motionless and speechless.
John tried to suppress the reaction to what had happened and said weakly, "I think... I should... uh... get away from him," looked at the Cognar again, then turned and quickly left the command.