In The Flesh – Part One

In The Flesh – Part One.

By Jess Pallas.

Disclaimer; I don't own Farscape or any of its characters. Please don't sue me!

Feedback; Go on then! E-mail me at

Archiving; If you like it, take it. But please, let me know first.

Rating: Not sure what the standard is but I'd guess at PG and General. No naughtiness (sorry shippers) but there are a few fights.

Spoilers; Mild ones only. Lots of reference to OOTM and LATP, slight passing reference to TWWW, TGAS and DMS. There are also mild spoilers for my previous fic, Time and Again.

Timeframe; Season two, after LATP. This story assumes the events of Time and Again occurred, though it's not vital to have read it first.

Summary: Trapped in Aeryn's body, Pilot must save the day when Moya is taken over by pirates.

Note:  This is a sort of follow-up to the events of OOTM. Although I love that episode, I always though it was a shame they didn't do more with it, especially as regards to Pilot. I would have liked to see him leave his chamber and what his reaction to that would have been. It occurred to me that if he was in Aeryn, he might not have any problems moving around, since her body contains some of his DNA. I also thought it might be good to get Moya involved in the body swapping, however peripherally. This story is a result of those thoughts.

  Jak Cordak swore loudly and ducked for cover as yet another conduit exploded overhead. He shielded himself as best he could from the blizzard of golden sparks, stumbling backwards, his tall, lean frame seriously oversized in the tiny, narrow corridor. His dark eyes glimmered angrily – he brushed a hand across his short hair to check that no spark had set it alight. His hand caught on the stubbly darkness that had already cost him the six inches of gold locks that had been his pride and joy and silently cursed his ship.

The Motjor was falling apart.

There was no denying it. Their tangle with that peacekeeper marauder – what the frig had peacekeepers been doing out here anyway? – had left the pirate raider, once feared throughout the sector, as little more than a tangled heap of floating metal floating deep in space. If that peacekeeper ship hadn't inexplicably withdrawn in the direction of the rebel Sebacean colonies, that would have been the end of his long and distinguished career. Half his crew were either dead, or nursing crippling injuries, including most of his engineers, leaving himself and the other helpless warriors who knew nothing of technology to stumble around in a ship that look set to dissolve into pieces any microt.

"Grajul!" he roared into his comm. "What the frig was that?"

"That be the power dubler to the cannons!" The voice of the Motjor's lone surviving engineer was fraught and course.

Jak bit back impatience. He hated tech talk. He found it a frustrating irony that his last tech was the one most prone to speaking in terms that made Jak feel ignorant. Jak did not like feeling ignorant.

"And what exactly does that mean?" he said, grinding his teeth audibly down the comm link. He heard Grajul gulp and bit back a rush of satisfaction. He loved it when people cowered before him.

"It means we ain't got no weapons left." The tech ventured warily. He was right to be wary.

"WHAT!!!!" Jak jumped up and slammed his head against the corridor roof. He felt blood in his mouth and swallowed it, fighting rising fury.

"We're defenceless? No weapons at all?"


"But we're pirates! How the frig are we supposed to make a living without weapons? We can't even steal a new ship! You have to fix it!"

"I canna. It's busted up good an' we don't have the parts t'rebuild it!"

"Well find them! Or would you rather I came down there and introduced you face to face to your internal organs?"

  There was no response. Jak could hear the frantic intake of breaths.

"I'm commminnnggg!!!!" he drawled down the comm link as he turned towards the lower tiers of his ship. A muffled screech echoed from the other end. Jak smiled to himself. He wasn't really going to kill his last tech of course – just rough him up a bit. It wouldn't help the situation, but what the frig; he'd feel better.


 "You'd better come up with a new answer for me Grajul, because if I come down there and it hasn't changed, they'll be picking up pieces of you in…"

"Captain!"  The hail interrupted his threat. He tisked in annoyance and changed frequencies.

"Yes, Areni?"

The voice of his second in command was enthusiastic; even eager.  "Jak, we've found a ship!"

The pirate was alert at once. "What kind of ship?"

"A derelict, although it still seems to be functional. It looks Halosian."

"Are its weapons functional?" Thoughts of disembowelling Grajul slipped reluctantly from his mind. He'd need the tech after all, if they had to salvage parts and graft them onto the Motjor.

"Looks like it. In fact, most of its systems seem fine. It just doesn't seem to have a crew."

"Could it be a trick?" Halosians weren't known for their subtle cunning but it never hurt to be careful.  A Halosian on the evolve was a dangerous thing.

"I don't think so. Its weapons range is greater than ours. If they were going to fire, they would have hit us already."


Jak paused thoughtfully. If the Halosian ship was a derelict, abandoned for whatever reason, it could be just the break he needed. Halosian ships packed a decent punch and most important of all – they were roomy. He would take any chance to get off the Motjor.


"Ready the men," he ordered brusquely. "I think its time we left this heap of junk to rust in pieces."


  It was astonishing how easy it was. When they boarded the ship, they found only a single Halosian alive, a lone female, struggling desperately to repair the ship and go in search of friends. She found none amongst the crew of the Motjor. They thanked her for her diligent work on their new ship, then dragged her down to the airlock and flushed her into space.


It didn't take long to get things in order. The Halosian bodies were mulched down and fed into the fuel generator, restoring power and bringing vital systems back on line. Thanks to the Halosian, weapons systems were in perfect working order; it appeared they had been the first thing she'd repaired. Jak's men knew the drill; they stripped the ailing Motjor of all her useful parts and transferred quickly to Halos 1, fighting and squabbling amongst themselves as they fought for decent quarters. Jak himself was already comfortably settled in the largest, most substantial rooms. Although the Halosian décor was bleak, the pirate had amassed a fine collection of expensive items from the rampant pillage of numerous Royal barges and soon he had the grim façade looking almost like a home.


They quickly moved on. A single blast from the forward cannon was enough to relegate the Motjor to a pile of drifting scrap, a state it had been yearning towards for many days already. Grajul was rather uncertain at first, but a number of beautifully turned threats from Jak inspired him to excellence and the new engines were quickly in working order. They headed out of the doldrums and set out in the direction of a commerce planet Areni knew. Where there were commerce planets, there were pickings; any pirate knew that. You always got some under armed fool lurking in orbit with riches to be had and no-one else in orbit was stupid enough to help out a ship under siege by Taurax pirates.


Jak had left Areni to guide the way, taking a long nap in his new quarters, but as requested, his second commed him once they were in range. Revelling in the headroom, striding tall, the pirate strode onto the vessels command, grinning broadly and rubbing his hands together.


 "So what find delicacies do we have on today's menu?" he exclaimed jovially, approaching the read-outs.

Areni looked a little disappointed. "Not much," he confessed. "Looks like a slow day. Only three ships in orbit worth looking at."

"Well that's three more than we were in any state to fight with in the Motjor!" Jak refused to be depressed. "I want to test this beauty out! Now what do we have?"

Areni hit the panel – a hologram drifted before their eyes.

"Alanian Trader. Crew compliment fifteen. Armed with Rocho cannons and missiles. Carrying a full cargo of Riscus fruit."

Jak pulled a face. "I'm not hungry enough to face down Rocho cannons for that. And anyway, those fruits are disgusting! What else?"

The hologram contorted into a new shape. "Ylou'xive Cruise Fighter. Heavily armed but damaged on the back wing. Crew of forty, but their comm traffic indicates they've suffered heavy casualties. Carrying a cargo of Grousium."

Jak frowned thoughtfully. "Grousium is worth a bit. And their firepower would make a nice addition to my new ship. But Ylouxians fight to the death and they have big teeth – we'd loose men. Still it's worth considering. So who's last on our little list?"


Areni touched the panel again. The hologram stretched, twisting from its spidery form into a long, elegant vessel, with three delicate tapers at its rear.

"A leviathan." Areni raised an eyebrow at his chief. "Fairly young. Looks female, although it's hard to be sure. Comm traffic indicates a small crew; maybe no more than half a dozen."

"Anything of value on board?" Jak was examining the vessel carefully. This had possibilities.

"Nothing specific. But a leviathan in itself is going to fetch a bit if you can find the right buyer."

"Perhaps even more than a shipment of Grousium." Jak smiled suddenly, teeth gleaming with a predator's menace.

"What do you say, boys?" he exclaimed. "I've always rather fancied owning a leviathan!"



"Are we ever gonna get out of here?"


John Crichton sighed, glancing impatiently up at the golden ladder that led into the transport pod. Beside him, Zhaan offered a wan smile as she pulled her cloak closer around her shoulders, cradling her basket gently in her arms. Rygel, who had long ago lost patience, peered down from the pod doorway above.

"Aren't they back yet?" he demanded. "What the yotz is taking so long?"

John shrugged. "I dunno, Sparky. If you're so interested, why don't you mosey on out there and fetch them?"

"Because I know what they'll be doing!" The Hynerian retorted. "And I have no desire to see it. Those two are disgusting!"

"Look who's talking," John muttered under his breath but made no other comment.

As far as he was concerned, what Chiana and D'Argo got up to in the privacy of their own quarters was up to them. The only time it bothered him was when it held them up.


Like it was now.


John considered himself a fairly patient man but even for him, this was stretching things. They'd arranged to meet in the maintenance bay more than half and arn ago, intending to take a trip down to the commerce planet in search of a few supplies. It wasn't that they particularly needed anything, but after the secrets and intrigues of the last few weekens, a little time apart from each other would probably do them all some good. They had all been showing signs of strain of late. Despite the undimished frequency of their couplings, the relationship between D'Argo and Chiana had already begun to show cracks. D'Argo had been short, almost brusque with the Nebari and she had returned the favour with pouty looks and sulks. Zhaan had been strangely distant ever since she had returned from her mysterious excursion with Moya and Pilot and Pilot had been even worse, at times quiet and almost subdued, at others snappy and irritable. Neither had offered any explanation for their behaviour, exchanging inscrutable looks and changing the subject whenever they were quizzed about it. And Aeryn was Aeryn; a mystery in black, incomprehensible, at times warm and friendly, at others pushing him back to distances so vast that they seemed to fill the galaxy. Only Rygel remained himself and that of course was one thing that John could have done without. The human sighed. Even he had started to feel of late that he barely knew himself, that something inside him was changing, growing and he didn't like the sensation. There were times when he almost felt as though there was someone else running his mind.


His musings halted abruptly as D'Argo, stony-faced and looking none too happy, strode into the room, Aeryn a step behind. He brushed passed John without a word and started up the ladder, a grim expression set on his features.  John glanced across at Aeryn, but she shrugged, as nonplussed as he was about the Luxan's mood. The human knew he was on dangerous ground; D'Argo looked angry and one wrong move could push him over the edge into a hyper-rage that would mean several days of Hell for them all.

"Chi not coming?" he asked mildly.

"No," D'Argo snapped gruffly. "She claims to have a headache."

"Oh." The emphasis was enough to tell John that there had been an argument somewhere along the line and Chiana was probably sulking in her quarters. It was best to leave it for now. Let them cool down apart and forget about it. By the time they got back, the Luxan and the Nebari would be ready to reconcile and carry on where they had left off – in the bedroom.


John looked at Aeryn and swept a bow, gesturing to the ladder.

"Ladies first!"

But the peacekeeper shook her head. "I'm not coming either. I don't feel like it. Besides…" Her voice dropped and she shot a covert glance at Zhaan who was ascending the ladder delicately. "I wanted to talk to Pilot alone."


John caught her meaning at once. "You think he might be a little more forthcoming when it's just the two of you, huh?"

Aeryn nodded. "I hope so. We need to get to the bottom of this. He's starting to worry me."

John patted her shoulder. "I'm sure it's nothing. He's probably just a little embarrassed about getting lost again. If he hasn't told you, it can't be that serious. He tells you everything that matters."

She sighed. "I hope you're right. Either way, I'd rather know."

"Good luck," John smiled crookedly. "I'm almost tempted to join you. A trip in a transport pod with D'Argo right now is going to be barrel of laughs."

"Stay if you want," Aeryn shrugged but John shook his head.

"I need the air. I dunno why, but I feel like I'm going stir-crazy up here. Maybe a change of scene with help loosen me up."

Aeryn nodded. "Fine. Just don't make D'Argo any angrier. A fit of hyper-rage is the last thing we need to deal with."

"Crichton, come on! Why do you have to be so slow?" D'Argo's bellow echoed through the bay, causing the tools on a nearby workbench to vibrate.

"Me?" A succession of inappropriate retorts hovered on John's lips but he bit them back in the glare of Aeryn's steely gaze. Muttering about the hypocrisy of Luxans under his breath he turned and climbed the ladder, hauling himself in to the pod and slamming the door behind him.



    It was with a strange sense of relief that Aeryn watched the transport pod depart the hanger and melt into the tumbled mass of stars. She felt vaguely liberated somehow, freed from the chains of restraint and control that shackled her in the presence of the others. The tension that had hung thick in the air almost seemed to dissolve with their passing, dissipating on an invisible wind and spinning away into nothingness. Relations on Moya had been so difficult ever since they had left the Royal planet; it seemed as though they had all come away with something to hide. The secrecy in their souls had shimmered in the air like a weight, dragging them all down and making them nervous of speaking, for fear that they would reveal more than they should. Aeryn didn't like it. They had all become so close of late, and some part of that seemed to have been lost. It had damaged the atmosphere aboard Moya and steps needed to be taken to repair the breech before it swallowed them all. Talking with Pilot would only be a small patch on the wound but at least it would be a start.


Pilot had felt it too. To begin with, he had ignored it, too busy trying to come to terms with the events surrounding his encounter with Moya's builders, but it had invaded his senses, pervasive and cold, a pall of tension that engulfed the crew and threatened to swallow them entirely. He knew his own behaviour had been a contributing factor but he simply couldn't help that. He had travelled to within the slightest whisper of death, perhaps even further, and the sordid murmur of that darkest of places still lingered in the back of his mind. He had tried to shake it but it clung on, leaping from one strand of thought to another, using his own multi-tasking abilities against him. It distracted him, disturbed him, drove him to snap at the crew and withdraw into himself, seeking solace within Moya and the performance of his duties. More than anything, he simply wanted to put the whole wretched business behind him.


Therefore he was somewhat less than enthusiastic when he sensed that Aeryn was approaching his chamber. He was very fond of her and under any other circumstances, he would have been glad to have her come and talk. But he knew what she wanted and knew as well that he simply couldn't give it to her. He didn't like keeping the truth from her, but for reasons he could not explain, even to himself, he simply couldn't bear the thought of confronting the business out loud. He was just beginning to gain control of his thoughts again now and the last thing he needed was a reminder of the void resurging in the corners of his mind.




He looked up and met her gaze, a dark silhouette against the golden backdrop as she stepped into his chamber, letting the door swing closed behind her.

"Officer Sun," he acknowledged back. "What brings you here? I would have thought you would have left for the planet with the others."

She shook her head. "I didn't feel like it." There was an almost forced casualness about her as she made her way across the walkway to lean against his consol. "I thought I'd come and talk to you instead. It's been a while since we've had a really good conversation."

"We talked yesterday," Pilot commented mildly. "And the day before."

"We communicated," Aeryn corrected him. "We didn't talk."

He let that pass. "What would you like to talk about?"

She met his eyes. "What happened whilst we were separated."

He was careful not to let his feelings show on his face. "Did you do something you feel I need to know about?"

She smiled in spite of herself. "Nice try. You know what I mean."

Pilot sighed, keeping his eyes lowered as he adapted the amnexus flow on tier seven, carefully considering his answer. He could continue to hedge, which would drag this whole conversation out until Aeryn lost her temper and made him answer or he could get it over with quickly. He opted for the latter.

"I would rather not discuss this now," he said, continuing to avoid her gaze with precision. "I am quite busy."

Aeryn glanced at his consoles. "A few minor anomalies. Nothing on scan. You don't look that busy to me."

He had forgotten she could understand his readouts. That bluff might work with the others, but Aeryn could not be so easily fooled. He knew she was staring at him; he could feel her eyes boring like needles into the top of his head. It was now abundantly clear he was not going to get out of this one without confronting the issue. He took a breath, tapping one claw gently against a control as he considered his next move. He began to wonder if he should simply spill out the truth and get it over with. But a part of him balked inside; telling her would only force him to face the fact that it had all been real. He couldn't do that.


He met her eyes, hoping to find a little sympathy behind the determination, hoping he could make her understand without actually revealing too much.

"I wish I could tell you," he said sincerely. "But I don't want to talk about what happened. I don't even want to think about it. Aeryn, please, out of friendship at least, can't you just leave it at that?"


There was a long pause. Aeryn's eyes remained fixed upon him as she tried to puzzle out the meaning hidden under his words.  He could sense her mind working, running through what he'd said in an attempt to gleam from it, some small nuggets of information.

"Whatever happened must have been pretty bad if you can't even bear to discuss it with me," she offered cautiously.


He recognised at once what she was doing. "I will not be tricked into discussing this," he told her bluntly. "Please find a new subject or leave."


She looked rather taken aback by his tone. "All right," she replied, a hint of confusion evident in her voice. "What else would you like to talk about?"

Pilot paused for a long moment. "I have no particular matters in mind," he said blandly. "Have you?"

She shook her head. "Then I guess I'd better leave."


Pushing herself upright, she turned for the door. Pilot felt a sudden rush of guilt. She'd come down to see him out of genuine concern and he'd all but thrown her out. She didn't deserve that.

"Officer Sun?" he called out. 


She turned back. "Yes, Pilot?"


He hesitated, uncertain of quite what to say. "I have no wish to chase you away," he ventured finally. "I do appreciate your concern for me; I simply would prefer to keep this matter to myself."

She nodded. "I understand. We all have personal things in our lives we'd rather not share. I have no right to press you on something you want to be private."

He ventured a smile. "Thank you,"

She returned the expression. "You're welcome. Though quite for what, I'm not sure."

He tilted his head. "It would take too long to explain."


Ignoring the blank look on her face, he turned his attention back to his consoles. Something caught his eye almost at once.

"Officer Sun!"


She must have sensed the urgency in his voice. "What?" she responded, wheeling and hurrying back to his side. He barely noticed as his four arms skimmed across the panels, seeking affirmation of his initial reading. A moment later, his worst fears were confirmed.

"Another ship is approaching us with some speed." He was unable to keep the tension from his voice. "It appears to be the Halosian vessel we encountered a while ago."

"The same one?" Aeryn pulled herself half onto the console to get a better look at his readings. "Are you sure?"

"I am as certain as I can be. In physical dimensions, it is identical to Halos 1. It even bears similar scars of damage, although much of it has been repaired."

Aeryn was shaking her head. "This doesn't make any sense. Zhaan said Tak was dead and Yoz was near enough to make no difference. How did they manage to repair the ship? And how the frell did they find us?"

"It could be no more than coincidence. I believe the ship may have acquired new owners." Pilot bent closer, examining the data carefully. "There have been modifications to the weapons array and propulsion systems. I would guess that the ship has been salvaged and adapted for another use."

"By whom? And why would whoever salvaged it come after us?"

"We may have an answer." Pilot cocked his head. "We are receiving a transmission."

"Put it on external vocal."

Pilot nodded and hit a control. A rich voice filled the chamber.

"I am Jak Cordak, captain of the Mot-Halos and lord-chief of the Motchat clan of the buccaneers of Taurax. You will immediately surrender to me and prepare to be boarded. All items of value will be assembled and readied for my inspection. All crew will await my instructions in the landing bay of your ship. Failure to comply will be punished. Your vessel is without defences; to disobey me would be hopeless. If I have not received your acknowledgement of my demands within one hundred microts, I will open fire and destroy you. I'd think fast. I don't like to be kept waiting."


 The transmission cut abruptly. Aeryn and Pilot stared at each other.

"It's just never frelling easy, is it?" the peacekeeper exclaimed in obvious frustration.

Pilot watched her in concern. "What do we do now?"

Aeryn rolled her eyes. "Do you want Moya to become a prize of the Taurax?"

"Of course not!"

"Then we fight." Aeryn reached for her pulse pistol. "Contact the transport pod, get the others back here. When I give the word, signal our surrender. We'll let their shuttle land in the docking bay and then I'll try and hold them off until the cavalry arrives."

"Aeryn, no!" Pilot surprised himself with his own vehemence. "That won't work! You'll get killed, the pirates will shoot down the pod and Moya will be captured anyway!"

"Well, what do you suggest?" Aeryn retorted. "That we StarBurst and abandon the others?"

"That is not an option." Pilot tried to hide his fear. "The Mot-Halos is too close. They would detect any attempt to StarBurst and open fire."

"Then what choice have we got?"

"Thirty microts!" Jak's voice interrupted mordantly. "Will you people hurry it up? I don't want to damage my new prize, but I will. Don't ignore me. I'm not going away!"

"Frell!" Aeryn slammed her fist down on the console. "What can we do?"

Pilot paused nervously. He wasn't sure how this suggestion was going to go down.

"We could raise the defence screen," he ventured.


Aeryn stared at him. "Are you insane? After what happened last time?"

"As far as I can ascertain, it is the only option we have that does not involve enslavement or death. The weapons on the ship have been much adapted and I will carefully regulate the modulation of the screen. It may not happen again."

"But it might! And then what the frell do we do?"

Pilot wasn't listening. "The Mot-Halos is powering its weapons systems. Firing is imminent."

He met her eyes. "Aeryn? Do I raise the screen or not?"


Aeryn stared at him, clearly torn. She had no desire to see Moya hurt but the disorientation caused by the switch would leave them vulnerable to boarding and capture. Whatever happened, the pirates would take advantage.

"Ten microts!" Jak's voice was mocking. "Don't you think you're cutting this a little bit fine? I'd transmit now unless you want to be picking up the strewn remains of your ship from across the quadrant!"

"His forward cannon is powering up. It is targeting Moya." Pilot could not hold down the fear this time. "Aeryn, I need an answer!"


 "Five Microts! Four, three, two…"

"Raise it!" Aeryn exclaimed. Pilot obeyed instantaneously as the patchwork of red energy rose to engulf the ship.

"One…. Times up!"

"He's firing!" Pilot's eyes met Aeryn's; they both knew what was coming.


 But it was too late to do anything else.


Moya jerked and shook with the impact; she almost seemed to scream. A flood of light and energy seemed to engulf the chamber. The blast echoed through the tiers, shaking the very air with the force of the blow.


Pilot felt himself shudder; he felt the pain as he was ripped free of himself. A new shape, a new form, new senses and new vision surrounded him and overwhelmed him all at once. He had time for one quick scream before everything went dark.


In The Flesh – Part Two.

By Jess Pallas.

Disclaimer; I don't own Farscape or any of its characters. Please don't sue me!

Feedback; Go on then! E-mail me at

Archiving; If you like it, take it. But please, let me know first.

Rating: Not sure what the standard is but I'd guess at PG and General. No naughtiness (sorry shippers) but there are a few fights.

Spoilers; Mild ones only. Reference to OOTM, LATP, TWWW and DMS. There are also mild spoilers for my previous fic, Time and Again.

Timeframe; Season two, after LATP. This story assumes the events of Time and Again occurred, though it's not vital to have read it first.

Summary: Trapped in Aeryn's body, Pilot must save the day when Moya is taken over by pirates.

Note:  This is a sort of follow-up to the events of OOTM. Although I love that episode, I always though it was a shame they didn't do more with it, especially as regards to Pilot. I would have liked to see him leave his chamber and what his reaction to that would have been. It occurred to me that if he was in Aeryn, he might not have any problems moving around, since her body contains some of his DNA. I also thought it might be good to get Moya involved in the body swapping, however peripherally. This story is a result of those thoughts.

Recap: Whilst the rest of the crew depart for a commerce planet, Aeryn and Chiana remain aboard Moya. But pirates have salvaged the Halosian ship and decide to capture Moya. And when Aeryn and Pilot refuse to surrender and raise the defence screen, they quickly open fire…



The first thing Pilot heard as he struggled back to consciousness was the sound of his own voice swearing fluently. He groaned, moving his new limbs experimentally; to his surprise, they responded well. He blinked, struggling to move, to control the unfamiliar muscles and motor functions. Although he had very little idea of what he was doing, he was astonished by how well the body responded to his commands; he felt none of the disorientation and discomfort he had encountered whilst trapped inside Chiana and D'Argo. But the silence that had haunted him of late; there was no escaping that. He struggled against the rising panic that the thought of separation from Moya entailed, trying desperately to focus his thoughts on something else. He couldn't afford to crack now. They had to sort this out. He forced himself to ignore the deafening lack of sound and concentrated instead on assessing the situation.


He knew he was in Aeryn almost at once; he could feel the chafe of her leather clothing, the drape of her hair across his face and besides he was still in his chamber and she had been the only one there. He could feel his own multiple thoughts patterns struggling to adapt to Aeryn's single-conscious brain, but he could also feel a strange melding like a flutter deep inside that seemed almost ready to welcome him.


"Pilot? Is that you?"


It was disconcerting to say the least to be addressed from above by his own voice. Awkwardly, he pushed up onto Aeryn's elbows, shaking her hair from his face.

"Yes," he replied. "Are you Aeryn?"

"Yes. It looks like we just did a straight swap this time. Chiana wasn't involved."

Pilot had forgotten Chiana was aboard.

"It must only work when the persons are in proximity. Can you contact Chiana or the others? Tell them what's happened?"

There was a moment of hesitation. Pilot felt suddenly apprehensive. He realised all at once that the silence was not just within his mind; it was all around as well. Moya was still and dark, her rhythms slow, her pulse all but inaudible.


 Something was wrong.


 He fought to contain his terror.

"Aeryn, is Moya all right?" he exclaimed shrilly. "Aeryn, tell me what's happening!"

"I would if I knew!" Aeryn retorted from above. She sounded almost as fraught as he did. "When we shifted, something happened to Moya as well. She went frantic for a microt, everything racing and out of control and then she just shut down entirely! I've been trying to get her to wake up but I'm not having much luck. I know where the controls are but this multi-tasking takes a bit of getting used to."

"You've done it before. You'll be fine."  Gripping the edge of his den, Pilot managed to haul himself upright. He found himself face to face with himself. There was an odd moment as he stared into his own eyes and saw someone else looking back. Aeryn looked just as uncomfortable with the experience as he did, glancing quickly away and returning attention to the panels.

"You see?" she told him. "Nothing's working. I hear Moya's sounds but only her vital signs. Everything else is dead."


Pilot knew how that felt. He bit back his own feeling of dread. Multiple layers of déjà vu rippled through his consciousness; he fought a wave of disorientation. Concentrating hard, he managed to stand, pulling himself up so he sat on the edge of the consoles. He needed to get a better look at this.


Aeryn watched him through his eyes. "Are you all right?" she asked suddenly. "You didn't take to this so well the last time."

He nodded. "I feel fine. I don't appear to have any problems manipulating your body. Perhaps the presence of my DNA has made adaptation easier."


She nodded. "That would make sense." She watched him as he ran her fingers awkwardly over the consoles, examining the data.

"Any ideas?" she asked.

He shook her head. "I don't understand. The impact was cushioned by the defence screen and there does not appear to be any real damage, although it is hard to be sure without functional DRDs. All ships functions apart from manual doors have failed. External comms are down, although I should be able to…"


 He broke off, tapping at the controls with the precision of practice. "There. We have internal comms at least. But I can't revive Moya from here."

"What about from command?"

"I'm not sure that would work either. If we want to restore systems, the conduits will have to be manually recharged. Even then, it may not work. Since I have no idea what caused the shutdown, I cannot be certain of a solution."

"Well, it's better than sitting here doing nothing. How long will this recharging take you?"

He stared at her. "Pardon?"

"These repairs. Can you do them quickly?"


 Pilot felt the full force of one of his own glares. "Well, who else is there? I'm not going anywhere right now and Chiana isn't responding to her comm. Besides, you're the only one who knows what needs to be done."

"Leave the Chamber?" Pilot felt a coldness run through his temporary body. "I can't!"

Aeryn huffed impatiently. "Why the frell not?"


He couldn't explain it. The very thought of being away from this place, his sanctuary of the last three cycles, filled him with a dread so vast it threatened to swallow him entirely. A Pilot never left his Chamber. It was a physical impossibility; at least under usual circumstances. He had long ago accustomed himself to the fact that he would spend the rest of his life in that single place, never moving, never changing, safe and secure within Moya's deepest sanctum. He had spent his entire existence in places he knew intimately, first his home world, then here. His brief time elsewhere, first aboard Velorek's transport and then in Moya's Cargo bay were times of fear and terror that he'd much sooner not recall. Admittedly he knew Moya's other regions well - he saw them regularly through the DRDs and his holographic clamshells – but the thought of physically moving about within them was so repulsive as to be almost sacrilegious.


"I…" He tried to put the feeling into words. "I have never…."


He broke off, looking pleadingly at Aeryn. "This is my place," he said quietly. "This is where I belong. I don't know how to live anywhere else."


Aeryn must have sensed his apprehension. Gently, she tried to reassure him.

"You'll be fine," she told him soothingly, laying one of his claws against her arm.

"I'll be right here on the other end of the comm if you need me. Chiana's around somewhere too; I'm sure if you can find her, she'll help you.  I wouldn't ask you do this, but we have to know what's going on. Those pirates are still out there. And Moya needs you."


Those were the three words that he had no answer to.

"Moya needs me," he repeated. "You're right. I am being selfish."


 Gently, he turned and slipped down to the ground. For a moment he thought that the legs would give way, but to his surprise they held, wobbling worryingly but holding steady. Shakily, he balanced upright, leaning one hand on the console for support.

"All right," he said nervously. "First things first." He glanced back at Aeryn.

"How exactly do I walk?"


For a moment she stared. But then realisation seemed to strike. Pilot had no proper legs. He'd never walked upright in his life. There was no reason that he would have any knowledge of what was involved. Under normal circumstances, he didn't need it.


"Well…" Aeryn paused awkwardly. How exactly did she walk? It was an instinctive thing; she didn't think about it. But Pilot had no instincts in this matter. Like it or not, she would have to coach him. She took a breath, thinking carefully.


"Okay. Move one foot out in front of you. Transfer your weight onto that foot."

Pilot obeyed, wobbling dangerously. Aeryn scrutinised him, trying to see what he was doing wrong. It came a moment later.

"Use your arms to balance or otherwise you'll fall. Try and keep the arm on the opposite side in sync with the leg."

"You people make this look easy." Pilot complained, one arm extended too far as he tried to overcompensate. He glanced nervously at the black abyss on either side of the walkway. "And there are better places to learn."

There wasn't much Aeryn could say to that. "It can't be helped. Now, do the same thing again. Extend your other foot, transfer the weight and balance with your arm."


Pilot did it, this time managing to balance himself better.

"Now just keep going," Aeryn instructed. "That's all there is to it."

"All there is to it indeed!" Pilot sounded less than impressed. He moved forward tentatively, wobbling more than slightly but he seemed to be getting the hang of it. He staggered a few more steps, muttering words in his own language under his breath, as his arms waved all over the place. It was bizarre to watch.


"You're getting better," Aeryn said, trying to sound encouraging. Pilot chose not to deign the comment with a response, settling for an icy glare that spoke volumes more than words. He tottered once around the outside of the den, completing the circuit with slightly more grace than he started it. He paused, exchanged a friendlier look with Aeryn and went around again. This time he seemed to catch the rhythm of it more; by the time he reached the front, he was almost walking properly. He smiled tentatively.

"I think I'm getting the hang of this," he said shakily.

Aeryn nodded. "You're a natural."

Pilot shot her an irritated glance. "That is not even close to being amusing."


 He turned away, his eyes fixed on the door. "Oh, well," he said, sounding none to happy. "I can't really put this off any longer."


Casting an anxious glance back, he made his way awkwardly across the walkway. He reached the far side without incident, pausing by the door release. He looked back, meeting his own eyes almost plaintively. This chamber had been his world for the only part of his life that mattered. Could he really leave it behind?


But he had no choice. Moya needed him and he could not let her down. With a shaking hand, he punched the door lock. The door slid open with a hiss to reveal the corridor beyond; familiar but also virgin territory, the far unknown of a well-known world. For a microt, he couldn't move. He glanced back at Aeryn again, acknowledging her smile of encouragement. He had to do this. There was no going back.


He took a deep breath.


Then with a single step, he left his world behind and disappeared into the corridor.



    There was so much space!


Jak grinned to himself as he jumped free of the hatchway of the shuttle, one hand wrapped firmly around his pulse rifle. He rose, gazing around at the vast cavernous expense of the leviathan's docking bay, golden hangers spreading away as far as the eye could see. There was air, room to move, room to fight and absolutely no danger of banging his head or catching his hair on fire. If only the ship had had weapons, he could have quite happily made it his home.


He glanced behind him as his men gathered, also wide-eyed at their expansive surrounds. Grajul was in raptures, staring at the bio-mechanoid technology, with eager fingers twitching with the urge to take it apart. Areni inadvertently bumped into the techs' back, too involved with staring up at the cathedral vault above to look where he was going.

"This is a big ship!" Jak heard him mutter.


The pirate chief shook himself. Enough self-indulgence. They needed to concentrate. It would be dangerous to let his awe for the vessel distract him into losing it. The surprising presence of a defence screen had hampered his plans for a quick surrender but the screen was obviously less than a success; one blow from his cannon had been enough to shock the ship into shutting down, taking it's defences with it. A pulse of electro-magnetic energy was enough to jolt open the Docking bay door and allow them on board. But they had to be careful. They had received no response from the ship's crew – true, it was possible that they had all departed on the pod that they had detected leaving the leviathan just before their attack – but Jak knew enough about leviathans to know that the Pilot at least would have remained. However, he knew very little of the Pilot species and had no idea if a lone Pilot would respond to such a threat without consulting a crew first. Jak judged his enemy by their reactions but he was finding it difficult to paint a mental picture of his adversary. He had no vocal response to judge by, nor any form of retaliation. What kind of person sits still and vulnerable until the very last instant before attack? Was it just the Pilot or was someone else pulling the strings? There was something more going on here and until he knew what, he would have to take great care.


 "Stop day-dreaming!" he admonished sharply. "This is no easy ride. We have no idea what's waiting round the next corner. Keep your minds alert or at least pretend for my sake that you have them. Now, come on!"


Chastised, his men hurried to his side. Jak eyed the closed hanger door with wary precision. For all he knew, an entire battalion of vicious warriors could be lurking beyond those innocent golden curves, ready to reduce the Taurax invaders to piles of smoking ash the moment they hit the panel. A sudden concern gripped him. Was this all a trick? Had the leviathan truly shut down or was it all a dummy to lure them aboard so that their ground troops could engage in a little wholesale slaughtering? He went cold. He remembered the scans they had performed on the inert leviathan from the Mot-Halos. They had found no damage, no explanation for the shut down. Was this all a trap devised by some devious mind?


Well, he could be devious too.


"Areni, stay here with the men," he declared abruptly. "I'm going to scout the terrain."


His eyes fixed on an access shaft. He started forward and pulled away the vent, crawling quickly inside.


 It was a less the pleasant experience. The shaft was narrow, cramped, and lined with ridges that grazed the bare skin of his arms. It smelt funny and vaguely sour and every so often his progress would be hindered by a small, lifeless yellow droid, sitting motionless and upside down on a protrusion. He discovered the source of the foul odour not long after; a cache of food, much of it half- rotten and inedible, that blocked his path, forcing him to crawl through it in order to continue. By the time he emerged, his vest was filled with crumbs, his arms sticky and smeared with goo and his nostrils felt as though they had been scoured with gelatine paste.  He wiped away the worst of the refuge, pausing at a junction of shafts. Obviously this ship was infested with some kind of vile, hoarding pest. He would have to have it checked over by an exterminator before sale could go ahead.


Finally, Jak caught a glimpse of light ahead. Relieved, he doubled his pace, lost control of his descent and tumbled head first into a passageway. He rolled to his feet, casting about him with his rifle extended, but the corridor was silent and deserted. He took a deep breath, attempting to regain his composure and bearings. He shook himself, glad to see that there was no one around to see him in this state and glanced around. He still found it hard to believe that a ship this size could have so little crew.

Where was everyone?


He moved a few cautious steps down the corridor. Ahead, a small corridor branched off, a small dead-end leading to a closed doorway. Warily, the pirate moved ahead, rifle braced. He sneaked up to the door on cats' feet and paused, pressing one ear to the metal.


 Voices! There were voices!


 He'd been right! Jak bit down a surge of satisfaction. So they had sought to trick him, ambush him and catch him unprepared. But he had bested them! He had sussed their little game and now he would be victorious! No one made a fool out of Jak Cordak!


With a cry of triumph, Jak kicked back the door and burst into the maintenance bay.


He came face to face with Areni and Grajul.


There was a long moment of silence. Areni seemed more than a little taken aback by his sudden appearance. His eyes slid down his leader's dishevelled form, taking in the smears of fruit, scattered crumbs and none too pleasant odour. He clearly had no idea what to say.  For his part, Jak stopped in his tracks, wild-eyed, his cry dying on his lips as he gripped his rifle before him with white-knuckled hands as he struggled to regain his composure.

"I thought I told you to wait outside," he said in a dreadfully quiet voice. Grajul recognised the tone immediately and was gone from sight in a flash. Areni bravely stood his ground.

"And, we would have of course," he replied reasonably. "But the crew returned in their pod. We hid as they investigated our shuttle and when they opened the hanger, we took them captive. Look."


He pointed behind him. In the midst of a circle of his men, staring warily at the rifle barrels that ringed them, was a cluster of aliens. There was a large, angry-looking Luxan, his eyes burning with a desire to strike out against his enemy, his fists clenched and his features an eloquent depiction of the kind of grim death that awaited them should he get free of their control. At his side was a tall, female Delvian, her arm rested gently on the Luxan's shoulder as she whispered in his ear, apparently trying to calm him down. A squat little Hynerian lay huddled on a floating sled, staring at the gun barrel shoved in his face with a mixture of fear and indignation. At his side, one hand gripping the back of the sled was a male Sebacean, dressed in clothes that looked like peacekeeper hand-me-downs. He was gazing across the bay, his eyes fixed on Jak. There was a sardonic twist to his lips.


He was laughing at him. His prisoner was laughing at him! Angrily, Jak shoved passed Areni, struggling to regain at least a shred of his tattered dignity. He snatched a cloth from one of the workbenches and wiped himself clean, his eyes fixed with icy menace upon the mocking eyes of the Sebacean. He glanced at Grajul, who was cowering nearby and immediately felt better. At least someone around here was still afraid of him.

"Grajul!" he snapped. The tech jumped a good foot in the air and then scurried over with a fawning expression, although Jak did note that he stayed just out of range of his chief's rangy arms.

"Yessir?" he said deferentially.

"Set up the comms monitor. I want to know if they're the only ones we have to deal with."

"Aye sir!" Grajul hurried back towards the shuttle. He emerged a moment later with a medium-sized black box. Scuttling towards the control console, he pulled off the intricate latticework covering and set to work linking in the device.


Jak watched for a moment, then lost interest. Trying to exude his customary menace, despite the unpromising start, the pirate sauntered over to where the prisoners were huddled, his gaze trained on the insolent Sebacean.

"Something amusing?" he drawled threateningly. "I don't think you're in any position to laugh at me!"


 The Delvian placed her free hand on the Sebacean's arm but he didn't react, keeping his eye contact with Jak.

"Well when life sucks as much as it does right now, you have to keep your sense of humour!" he said dryly, his accent odd and unfamiliar.


 Jak smiled grimly. "I suppose you do. But if I get so much as the slightest inkling that you are trying to make a fool out of me, you'll be wearing that smile on the back of your head. Clear?"

The Sebacean shrugged. "Oh, I don't think you need any help from me in that respect, pal!"

"John!" The Delvian exclaimed sharply but he didn't respond. Jak didn't either. He just glared.

"I'd pay attention to your friend," he said coldly. "She has more sense than you do."


The tension shimmered like fire. The eyes of the two men locked.

 "Sir? I think I be in, sir!"


Grajul's call dissolved the moment. Fingering his weapon, his eyes watching the Sebacean's face as if to imply that it wasn't over, Jak turned away and went to join the tech.




   To her credit, Zhaan restrained herself until the pirate leader was out of earshot, before she started to berate John.

"What the frell do you think you are doing?" she whispered sharply in his ear. "I would expect behaviour like that from D'Argo, but not from you, John. These people may hold our lives in their hands. We cannot afford to anger them!"

John sighed. "I'm sorry, Zhaany. The guy just pissed me off. Swaggering around like he owns the joint!"

"Right now, he does!" The Delvian released her grip on his arm although she continued to lean close. "We have no choice but to wait for our chance to strike. Aeryn, Chiana and Pilot are still free. Perhaps they can do something."

"If they could, don't you think they'd have done it already? Look around you, Zhaan. There's something wrong with Moya. There's no sound, no rhythm. It's almost like she's shut down entirely.


There was a long pause. John glanced back over his shoulder at the Delvian. She was gazing into the air, her features twisted with terrible recognition. Her eyes were haunted.

"Goddess, not again," she whispered softly.



The priestess shook herself. She smiled wanly at John.

"Bad memories," she said softly.

John had no idea what she was talking about but decided this was no the time to ask. He was staring thoughtfully at the piecemeal shuttle in the docking bay.

"Zhaan, we all saw that ship that fired on Moya. Did it remind you of something?"

"Halos 1," It was not Zhaan but D'Argo who responded, apparently calmed enough to engage in a reasonable conversation. "It looked like Tek's ship."

John nodded. "Give the boy a gold star! Now when they shot at Moya, we all saw the defence screen go up, right? Do you guys remember what happened the last time we mixed Halosian firepower and our screen together?"


 Zhaan and D'Argo hesitated, exchanging a glance.

"Frell!" D'Argo muttered.

"My sentiments exactly. It could explain the lack of a welcoming committee and even why Moya's out for the count. If whoever ended in Pilot screwed up somehow or Moya took exception to them…"


He didn't need to finish. His shipmates knew exactly where he was leading.

"And if Aeryn, Chiana and Pilot are struggling to cope with alien bodies, we can't count on a rescue." D'Argo growled. "We will have to free ourselves."

"Hold that thought," John said. "This is all just speculation. We don't know what's happened. Let's at least wait until we can be sure, huh?"

"I agree," said Zhaan quickly. D'Argo did not look happy but nodded his consent.


A cry from across the room arrested their attention.

"I think I've isolated their comm frequency!" The squat tech was fiddling with his black box, eyes intense. The pirate leader was watching him scornfully.

"Well don't just stand there!" he exclaimed. "Tune it in! I want to know what we're dealing with!"


 The black box hissed and buzzed. Distorted voices filled the air, twisted and contorted out of all recognition. Under the wrathful gaze of his superior, the tech twiddled and poked around inside his device. John, Zhaan and D'Argo exchanged glances as the signal twisted to coherency and the unmistakable if incomprehensible sound of Aeryn's voice echoed across the bay. But the question remained; was it Aeryn? Putting aside their own predicament, the captives bit down on their fears and listened.


"Is it much further?"

Pilot had tried to stay calm. He had done everything he could to fight the panic that had been rising in his soul every since the fateful moment when he stepped outside of his Chamber for the first time in his life. But it wasn't easy. Despite the unexpected ease with which he had adapted to manipulating Aeryn's body, it still felt uncomfortable, chafing like an ill-fitting garment as he moved haltingly through Moya's lower tiers. The silence burned his ears; he simply could not get used to having his mind to himself again. Aeryn's brain was coping much better with his mode of thought than Chiana's or D'Argo's ever had, but he still felt limited somehow, restricted by the smaller number of parallel strands he was able to achieve. Admittedly, since his disconnection from Moya he didn't need so many. Indeed, it was probably a good thing in a way, for without Moya's functions to occupy his mind, the few strands he had mastered were all devoted to various levels of anxiety. But it felt wrong. This wasn't the way he was supposed to think. He felt diminished, his senses restricted, his movements unnatural, his vision inferior and perspective confused. Everything was so familiar, but yet wildly out of place. He knew it all, knew every corner, curve and access duct, every conduit and vent, but he had never before viewed Moya from this height, this angle, with these eyes. Everything looked different and even though there was no one alive who knew this ship better than he did, he felt almost like a stranger, stepping unbidden into a whole new world.

"You tell me! It's your frelling ship!" Aeryn's response was uncharacteristically harsh. The peacekeeper did not appear to be adapting to her new form any better than Pilot was; she had been short with him and disgruntled ever since his departure.

Pilot was not in the mood to be snapped at.  "I fly the ship!" he retorted.  "I don't wander around inside it!"

"Well you ought to know it well enough!" Aeryn's voice contained an unusual level of stress. "You see it everyday through the DRDs and the clamshells!"

"Those are completely different angles!"  Pilot's voice shrilly, reflecting his rising anxiety. "It's either high or low! This is the middle! I am not used to the middle!"

There was an impatient huff at the other end of the commlink. Pilot couldn't help but feel that Aeryn was being unreasonable about this. He could feel his stress level achieving greater heights with each passing microt and fought desperately to hold it down. Aeryn's legs were wobbling dangerously; exhausted beyond all reason, Pilot tottered to the wall and rested Aeryn's dark ahead against it, fighting to control himself. He took several deep breaths, trying to focus.

"This is taking forever! Can't you go any faster?" Aeryn's intervention was ill timed.

Pilot bit back the inappropriate response that hovered on his lips. He admonished himself silently. Focus, endure. Stay in control.

"Could you please be a little more tolerant?" he replied plaintively, but there was a snappish edge lurking just beneath the surface. "I only learned to walk a quarter arn ago!"

 Precariously, he pushed Aeryn's body upright, and moved on, setting a brisk but wary pace. It was a dangerous act. His balance was uncertain and only the speed of his movement from one step to the next kept him from falling. He turned a corner recklessly, almost too fast and stumbled on a DRD. He careened forward, arms waving madly as he fought to avoid a tumble, confused and disorientated by the movement of body parts he knew nothing about, barely able to extend his hands in time as he crashed headfirst into a wall. Breathing hard, he stepped back, as he struggled to gather the ragged shreds of his dignity, glad that no one was around to see. He was overwhelmed by a sudden irrational urge to blame somebody.


"It's hard enough just keeping upright without these… things at the front!" he snapped down the comm link. "They distract me when I'm trying to concentrate!"

"What are you talking about?"

"They affect my balance! And the way they move – it's disconcerting!"

"Disconcerting? What do you mean?"

"They bounce!"

"They do not!" Aeryn did not appear to appreciate the observation.

"Yes, they do! You must have noticed!"

"You're as bad as Crichton!"

"I resent that!" Pilot's response was indignant. "I have no interest in them other than the fact that they are making my life difficult!" He started to walk again, but slipped, his face swallowed by a curtain of black. Angrily, he pushed it back. "And having this hair of yours in my face all the time doesn't help either!"

"Is there any other part of my body you'd like to criticise?" Aeryn sounded irate. "Or can I start on yours?"

"There is nothing wrong with my body!"

"What apart from the fact you can't frelling move? How do you live like this? I'd go mad stuck in one place all the time!"

Sounds like you already have, Pilot thought uncharitably, but he wisely kept it to himself. His mind was whirring, buzzing with concern, fear, indignation and anxiety, tumbling over and over each other, mixing in an explosive cocktail that was rapidly pushing the navigator to the edge of outright hysteria. "Right now, Aeryn, I would welcome being stuck in one place!" Something inside him seemed to snap; he felt an all-engulfing urge to find a quite corner, curl up in a ball and cry. Gasping, tearful, suddenly broken, he released his frustration in a torrent of words. " This isn't what I do! I am not accustomed to this kind of motion! I stay still, I listen and I react! I do not run around the ship making frelling repairs!"

Aeryn must have sensed his distress. Her response was temperate but firm.

"Calm down. You're getting hysterical!"

"Good! I want to be hysterical! I like being hysterical! I'm good at being hysterical!"

There was a resigned sigh from the other end of the commlink. When Aeryn spoke, her voice sounded strained. "Will you please stop panicking? This isn't easy for me either, you know! This isn't what I do either! I'm a peacekeeper! We don't sit in one place, waiting for someone else to do our work! We react! We take action! But I can't take frelling action because thanks to those dren-cursed pirates, I can't frelling move anymore!"


There was a moment of silence. Pilot felt a wash of shame. He'd been so focussed on his own problems, his own fears and frustrations, it had never occurred to him that Aeryn might be feeling exactly the same. Closing his eyes, he forced himself to be calm, reaching for his inner focus and halting the frantic spiral of his multitude of thoughts. Firmly he sorted through the strands, pulling forward the more positive ones and relegating the terrified swirl of his fears to the back. Once he was confident that he was back in control, he opened his eyes and spoke.

"I know. I'm sorry."  His voice was genuinely contrite. He felt a sudden need to explain himself. "It's just that I'm not used to living like this. When things change, I get upset. When I get upset, I panic. I can't help it. Panicking is one of the few things in life I've ever been able to do really well!"


There was a laugh from the other end. "I'll second that!"

"Hey!" Pilot tried to sound annoyed, but he couldn't help but smile. "You were not supposed to agree!"

"Sorry," Aeryn sounded friendlier. The more light-hearted exchange appeared to have done the trick. "I think we'd better get on. Are you anywhere near that junction yet?"

Pilot cast around, trying to compare his old awareness of the ship with his current visual perspective. It wasn't easy. Golden walls gleamed, their shapes half-shrouded in shadow due to the dimness of Moya's lights. Pilot frowned.

"Well, it's around here somewhere," he offered blandly, trying to hide his confusion. He glanced around at the corridors and walls, golden arches arcing to the ceiling to vanish into shadow. A strange coldness rose within his chest. Where the frell was he?


He had never realised before just how alike the different parts of Moya looked. His ability to distinguish between then was based on his knowledge of the conduits and vents that catacombed the tiers. But those crucial landmarks were invisible from here. He realised that in his distraction during the argument with Aeryn, he'd completely lost his bearings. It was painful to admit it, especially for a navigator and a supposed expert on leviathan physiology, but the fact was unavoidable.


He was lost.


He couldn't tell Aeryn. He'd never live it down. Embarrassment rose within him; he felt Aeryn's cheeks warm and glow, a disconcerting sensation to which he was not accustomed. He remembered descending several tiers and passing one of the lower amnexus chambers, but that had been a while ago. He had moved quite some way since then, changing tiers and striding down corridors. He glanced around, but could see no revealing doors or chambers. The passage stretched into darkness ahead of him, curving away around a gentle corner. Behind him lay a junction, splitting off in three directions but for the life of it, he couldn't remember which one he'd come from. Panic began to rise within him; he suddenly felt isolated and very alone. What was he going to do?

"Pilot? Are you all right?" His own voice broke into his thoughts, scattered with Aeryn's distinctive nuances. "You went very quiet there for a microt."

"Sorry," Pilot shook himself. "I was just trying to get my bearings," he said, trying to hide his true situation. "I got a little distracted and…"

"You're lost." Aeryn's precise response cut straight to the heart of the matter. Pilot winced.

" I wouldn't say I'm lost, exactly," He ventured. "I just… cannot pinpoint my location at present."

"In other words, you're lost." Aeryn sounded mildly amused. Pilot fought to hold down the flush of embarrassment. He was never going to live this down!

"Never mind," The peacekeeper said cheerfully. "It happens to the best of us. I think the best thing you can do is just carry on until you see something you recognise. That way, we can…"


Abruptly, the transmission cut. An ugly hiss rose to fill the silence.


 It took a moment to register. Pilot glanced sharply at his comm, staring at it in shock. For a moment, that was all he could do, just stare as though staring alone would restore the link. But nothing happened.

"Aeryn?" he ventured. There was no answer

"Aeryn?" His voice rose shrilly. He tapped at the comm.

"Aeryn!" A frantic note penetrated his voice. He yanked at the comm, attacked it, but it continued to hiss spitefully. Then suddenly, it went quiet, even that slight noise gone. The darkened corridors were still and cold. The shadows seemed to stare.


The silence was awesome.


 Pilot felt dizzy. He breathed hard, lurching against the wall as he fought to rein in the hysteria battering his soul. This couldn't be happening! Where was Aeryn? What had happened? Why had she abandoned him, left him to fend for himself, to struggle on…


The word was terrifying. Alone.

He was alone.

Frell! He could handle anything but that!

He could barely breathe. Silence and being alone. The two things he feared most in the world. The two things that, on his joining to Moya, he thought he'd never have to face again. He could remember the chill in his heart when he had disconnected himself from Moya, sat in silence, alone in his chamber.

 But Moya had still been there. He could still feel her pulse.


And when she had passed on, lost to him, he'd been trapped in darkness, condemned to die a solitary, silent death.


 But Zhaan had come.


Zhaan was not going to come now. No one was. Only one person knew he was out here and she didn't know where he was. He didn't know where he was!


 He was on his own.


Completely on his own.


How was he supposed to go on?


 This time, it was all too much. Slumping disconsolate against the wall, Pilot sank to the floor and cried.