John was mildly nervous as he stepped through the freshly formed door into Aeryn's cell and came face to face with the Sebacean woman who was the love of his life. He couldn't help but feel a little unsure about facing her now, especially given how strained things had been between them since the death of his clone and Aeryn's subsequent return to Moya. He wasn't at all sure how she would react to seeing him alive, once he would have been but he couldn't be sure of anything with her anymore.
John forced down his anxiety as he looked at Aeryn and found her to be staring at him, utterly dumfounded. It was almost amusing to see, but what really lightened his heart was the look in Aeryn's eyes. In her eyes he could see delight and relief at seeing that he was still alive and in good health. It suddenly filled him with hope, hope that they could possibly get back together again. He wished they could, he had missed Aeryn and worried terribly about her since the last time she left on Talyn.
"Hi Aeryn," he said in greeting, the sound of his voice seeming to bring Aeryn out of her stunned surprise. The hope that had been bubbling up inside John abruptly turned to unease as he saw a cold look of anger come into Aeryn's face and eyes. Ugh oh, John thought as Aeryn crossed the distance between them and then punched him hard on the shoulder. Before now it would have hurt like mad but now John barely noticed it when she hit him, the nanites in his body having strengthened him so much that such minor impacts were not noticeable it all. In away though it still hurt. "What was that for?" he demanded to know though inwardly he already guessed why Aeryn had struck him.
"For scaring me to death you stupid Erpman," Aeryn said back, her voice thick with anger. "When you disappeared into that wormhole, I thought…" Aeryn's voice trailed off and she looked down unable to meet John's eyes. "I thought I had lost you again. I couldn't go through that, not again." The anger was gone now in its place John could hear the pain and longing in Aeryn's voice.
"Oh Aeryn," he said softly and taking a chance he reached out and pulled Aeryn into an embrace, hoping that he didn't inadvertently hurt her with his newfound strength. He had wanted to do this for so long, but Aeryn had been so determined to keep her distance from him and now he knew why. She was afraid of getting close to him again for fear of being hurt again. He was surprised when Aeryn didn't resist and instead wrapped her own arms around him before burying her head in his shoulder.
Aeryn held John tightly and inhaling his familiar scent and feeling his love for her in the embrace began to relax. She couldn't help but wonder why she had stopped herself from doing this again? It was a question she wasn't sure that she knew the answer to, but she didn't care. She was just happy to be in her beloved arms again. After a few moments though Aeryn noticed something odd, something about John that different to before, his muscles felt harder somehow. And now that she thought about it, she realised that John was holding her a bit tighter than he ever had before, there was strength in his arms that she had never felt in him before.
Carefully Aeryn pulled back from the male Human and looked carefully into his brown eyes. There was clarity in them that she hadn't really seen in a long time, not since the neural clone of Scorpius had almost pushed him into total madness. The hint of insanity wasn't there anymore, gone as if it had never been, as if the remains of the neural chip causing it had been removed, the neural clone erased. Aeryn had no idea how that could be possible, unless whoever had built this ship had more advanced medical technology than any known race.
"What's happened to you, John?" she asked. "You feel different somehow."
John blinked slightly, then realised that Aeryn had felt something different in him. Probably felt a change in my muscles, he thought. "It's a long story Aeryn. As is the origin of this ship and its technology, but before I can tell you I need you to confirm something for me. You and D'Argo were imprisoned because you fired at this ship after a warning shot was fired. I think I know why but I need you to confirm it, if you can then my people will let you go."
Aeryn's eyes widened. "You mean this ship was built by your people," she exclaimed. "But how your module is nothing like this technology."
"I know it's a complicated story. Short version the wormhole that brought me to Peacekeeper space in the first place did more than just transport me through space, it hurled me forward in time by a period of a thousand cycles," John replied. "Now, I need you to tell me exactly what happened when Lolaan approached this ship."
Aeryn nodded. "We came through the wormhole after it pulled you in," she started to explain. "When we emerged from the wormhole we found this ship waiting there, when we were hailed we weren't sure who this ship belonged to. Though I noticed the name plate on the hull was written in English, so that gave me a bit of a thought. Before I could act on it this ship fired some sort of proton blast as a warning. D'Argo reacted badly."
John nodded. "I guessed as much," he said, with a sigh. "Thanks for confirming it Aeryn; I'll have a word with Captain Jackson about getting you two out. This misunderstanding has to be cleared up before this ship reaches Earth orbit, once we're there I think we should be able to rejoin Moya."
"Moya is here?"
"Yes, from what I'm told they came through the wormhole a short time after you did, with a Peacekeeper Command Carrier on their heels. Of course Captain Jackson intercepted the Peacekeepers when they came through as they were targeting Moya." Aeryn flinched slightly she knew her people, a command carriers captain would not react well to an 'inferior alien' ship getting in his or her way.
"What happened," she asked, though going from the shudders and jolts she'd felt earlier she had a pretty good idea.
"They attacked us," John confirmed. "A big mistake for them, from what I understand my peoples weapons technology is far in advance of the Peacekeepers. The command carrier was badly damaged in short order and forced to retreat back through the wormhole. The Prowler regiment they launched was almost completely annihilated."
Aeryn was stunned. "This ship drove off a full command carrier?" she asked. John nodded and Aeryn shook her head in astonishment. "Peacekeeper Command is not going to like that. I would not be at all surprised if an attack fleet is heading for the wormhole as we speak. Aside from the Nebari and the Scarrens no one has ever defeated a command carrier before."
"I think it's occurred to senior military personnel on this side of the wormhole," John replied. "From what I have been told a task force of warships is on its way to the territories side of the wormhole as we speak to secure it. If the Peacekeepers come for Earth, they'll have a fight on their hands."
"That won't stop them though," Aeryn pointed out knowing what her people were like. Though they would never admit to feeling it she knew Peacekeeper Command would be insulted and angry that a small warship like this one had pounded one of their mighty command carriers to within an inch of destruction. They would feel it was an insult to Peacekeeper superiority – an insult that could not go unpunished.
John nodded in agreement. "I know it won't," he replied. "But they'll learn that my people don't react very well to someone trying to push us around. I have a feeling that next time a command carrier is engaged it won't be disabled it will be destroyed."
"And with tensions so high with the Scarren Empire at the moment Peacekeeper Command wont be able to do much about it," Aeryn concluded. "But what about us, John," she asked. "What are we going to do? I guess you'll want to stay here with your own people."
"I'll go wherever you go, Aeryn," John replied putting a hand on the side of Aeryn's face. "There is nothing for me on Earth, not now. My father and my sisters have all long ago turned to dust. Wherever you are will be my home."
Aeryn smiled, it meant a lot to her that John felt that way. "Even if its, Moya," she asked.
"Even Moya," John agreed. "Moya has been my home for the last few years, it would be strange not living on her."
Aeryn nodded. "You better go have a word with this Captain Jackson now, John," she said. "I don't want to spend any longer in this cell than I absolutely have to."
John sighed and nodded. "I'll go and talk to him," he replied. "You wont be in this cell much longer, Aeryn. I'll get you let out, I promise you that."
"I know you will. So what are you waiting for Erpman, go do it."
John laughed. That was Aeryn through and through. "Apparently the proper word now to describe my kind is Terran," he said, then leaned in and kissed Aeryn. "I wont be long, Aeryn. I love you."
"I love you to, John," Aeryn replied, kissing John back. John pulled back after a moment, smiled at her one last time, then turned and walked back out of the cell. As he left the door disappeared, the metal of the wall flowing back into place, once again turning the wall into a featureless metal thing. Aeryn looked at the wall for a few moments just staring at the blank metal walls, then she walked back to the bed and sat down on the edge to wait for John to return.
Return and set her free from this high tech prison.
A Few Minutes Later
Captain Aiden Jackson studied Commander John Crichton as the rescued twentieth century astronaut stood in front of him. John was looking a lot better than he had done when they had first brought him aboard, indeed he looked indistinguishable from any other Terran now. Aiden had to constantly remind himself that this man had been through a lot in the last few years, being shot through an unstable wormhole that Aiden guessed was a type four from the temporal shift, surviving for years in an unstable part of the galaxy, and now returning to his home space to find a thousand years had passed.
"So it's actually what you thought happened," he asked. John had just finished filling him in on what he had discussed with the more human looking of there two alien prisoners. A prisoner whose name he now knew to be Aeryn Sun.
"Yes, sir. D'Argo in a burst of his typical hair-trigger male Luxan temper fired a shot from Lolaan's cannon at you after your warning shot passed by," John replied. "It was not a wholly deliberate act of aggression, I know D'Argo very well, and he wouldn't immediately initiate hostile action with a warship of unknown capabilities. Its just his temper gets the better of him sometimes, especially where his ships concerned. He named her after his late wife and is very protective of her."
"You need not call me sir, commander," Aiden replied. "Your not one of my crew or even in the Hegemony Guard, so you don't have to answer to me." He sighed. "Very well I will allow the release of Aeryn Sun and Ka D'Argo. While they remain on this ship you will be responsible for their conduct."
John nodded. "I understand, thank you. We will want to return to Moya soon."
"That can be arranged," Aiden answered. "We will be entering Earth orbit within the next hour, as soon as orbital control can find an orbital approach vector for us. Transport across to Fairway Station can be arranged once we're in orbit. You're friend might want to take his ship but we cannot allow that, yet."
John nodded. "I understand, and I'll make sure D'Argo does as well," he replied. "He won't like not being able to take Lolaan off this ship but I'm sure he will understand that it's for security reasons."
"That's exactly why we can't allow it, Hegemony Command is on a heightened state of alert since the battle with the Peacekeepers, until that ends Lolaan will have to remain docked on this ship. I'll send word to the guards down in the security bay to allow you to get your friends out," Aiden said.
"Thank you. I better leave you now, as I'm sure you have a ton of paperwork to do."
Aiden laughed. "At the very least," he replied. "Go on commander. I'll speak with you again before you disembark my ship."
John smiled, turned and walked out of the quarters of the Atlantis' master. He wasn't entirely looking forward to letting D'Argo out of his cell. The formidable Luxan warrior was bound to be pissed off at being held prisoner again. Hopefully I'll be able to talk to him before he tries to kill me, John thought.
Diplomatic Docking Bay
Fairway Station, Earth Orbit
That Same Time
Pa'u Zotah Zhaan stood with serene Delvian calmness on Moya's side of the airlock umbilical that now joined them to the huge Terran space station they had docked with. Though she was a picture of serenity on the outside inside Zhaan was nervous, very, very nervous. A few moments ago Pilot had informed them that a Terran diplomatic team were requesting permission to come aboard this ship. After conferring with Chiana and Rygel she'd agreed to allow it, and now she was waiting for the diplomats to arrive.
"Attention airlock cycling now," Pilot's voice said over the comm. system.
"Thank you, Pilot," Zhaan replied and glanced over at Chiana and Rygel who were here with her. Unlike her both looked a little flustered, Chiana bouncing with childlike enthusiasm, eager to meet more of John's people, Rygel a little flushed as the ex-dominar of Hyneria had hurried to get into the best robes he had available on this ship.
The sound of the airlock starting to cycle drew Zhaan's attention back to it and she looked at it as the large oval shaped door opened. Two figures immediately came through, two tall figures that were wearing some kind of heavy duty body armour complete with full helmets and carrying large rifles. They took up station on either side of the airlock then three more people came through.
Two were young men dressed in expensive looking grey-blue suits that looked like they were made of a silken material in the way it shimmered slightly as light played over it. The suits were expensively cut and hung close to powerful, athletic bodies. The third person – the one in the middle – was a young woman. She was beautiful, dressed in a long flowing light blue dress that brushed around her ankles. The dress shimmered gracefully as the woman moved. But it was her face that caught Zhaan's attention. In the features she caught influences that reminded her of John, the intelligent brown eyes were definitely just like John's.
"Greetings," the woman said warmly. "Welcome to the Terran Hegemony. I am Ambassador Melinda Crichton, Terran Diplomatic Service. I believe we have much to talk about."