*Disclaimer: I own nothing but my original characters and ideas….and the plot bunnies in the corner. Please don't sue, I'm a poor college student that has no life and way too many video games.*
"No, I don't have a solution, but I certainly admire the problem."
John Crichton felt at peace for the first time in many cycles. His mind and body seemed to be floating in a place in between time and space, outside of reality. He felt like he could do anything, be anyone, but at the same time he didn't feel the pressure to do anything. There was no responsibility here, no problems that he needed to fix, no one he had to save.
He was quite content where he was, inside the nothingness that required nothing of him. No, he would much rather float in the non-existence (not)space he found himself in…that was until (real)space and reality decided they wanted him back and cruelly yanked him into their world of pain and suffering.
John woke on the floor and in agony, wishing he was back at peace in the (not)space. His mind fought through the haze of pain his body was in and once he was able to sort of gather his crumbling sanity he remembered that he needed to be doing something, he knew he did, but he just couldn't seem to remember what it was at the moment. Rolling over took far more energy then he thought was possible, but once he was on his back he was able to get his bearings.
The ceiling was dark gold, twisting and jutting out in a way that was very familiar almost comforting. It looked similar to the den of Pilot's on Moya, but something was off…very off. It was wrong, this…this wasn't Moya.
The memories came rushing back so fast that it left him with a pounding headache and slight nausea. The ship he was on wasn't Moya…but it was a Leviathan like her. Only difference was that this Leviathan was dying. Crichton shot up so fast that he nearly fell over again when another wave of nausea hit him. 'What the frell happened?'
He remembered running, his heart racing, blood rushing past his ears, breath burning harshly in his lungs. Feet pounding upon not quite metal, sweat beading down his neck, into his eyes, he was running away…away from Kaarvok. He was on his way back to the transport pod as Rovhu tried to starburst with the control collar still in place.
'Wait, starburst,' John thought to himself. The ship rumbled and shook around him nearly knocking his off of his already unstable feet…and then he remembered what would happen to a Leviathan should it try to starburst with a control collar, it would be torn to pieces. He had to get to the transport pod.
Just as he was forcing himself to move Chiana ran into him and they both went stumbling onto the catwalk, nearly falling off. 'Well, back to where I started it seems.'
"Chi, what the frell," Crichton yelled over the sounds of Kaarvok's children eating and Rovhu's trembling. "We need to get to the transport pod, what are you doin' here?"
"They left, and I…I…I don't know but I saw, I saw me, and I saw you… and they left," Chiana was in hysterics and John could barely make out a word. Her black eyes were glazed and her whole body was trembling. After a few microts, she finally looked up at the human and her throat croaked as she tried to push words past her dry lips. "Crichton?"
"Ya, Pip, it's me. What the hezmona do mean they left, who left?"
"They left, Crichton…they left…left us behind," she was shaking now, arms wrapped tightly around herself as if to lend comfort. "The transport pod…it…it's gone. They're gone, and we…we were with them," a pale grey hand reached up and latched upon the Commander's leather clad one. "Oh Gods, Crichton…we were with them."
John didn't have the time to make sense of her ramblings, but what he did get was that the transport pod left without them, and Rovhu was seconds away from ripping himself apart. Crichton forced Chiana off of him and ran to the console. Shoving some of the Xarai out of the way, he stared in disbelief as over a hundred buttons and dozens of panels met him. He didn't have a clue on which one to push in order to stop starburst.
"Chi," he yelled, turning back to the weeping Nebari. "Which one's starburst!"
It was useless; Chiana sat on the catwalk trembling, opalescent tears carving a path down her tortured face muttering nonsense to herself. Cursing, John turned back to the console and barely avoided getting hit by Pilot's single arm that was flailing about. Pilot was alive, and screaming in fear.
Launching himself onto the console Crichton spoke loudly over the noise of the Xarai consuming the last of their Master. "Pilot, are you with us?"
Pilot focused his pain filled orange eyes on Crichton's blue ones and seemed to calm down fractionally. "J-John?"
"Yeah, Pilot, it's me," Crichton could have cried in relief. "Pilot I need you to stop Rovhu from starburst, can you do that?"
"Stop st-starbu-burst?" Pilot's eyes were still glazed in pain as he tried to comprehend what the Human was telling him.
"Yes Pilot, I need you to stop starburst and I need you to do it now, or we are all going to die," He took Pilot's face between his hands and made sure that the alien was looking straight at him. "Do you understand?"
"Yes," Pilot reached out with his hand and depressed a lever. Rovhu stopped shaking suddenly and the only remaining sound was coming from Chiana's constant mumbling and the Xarai, who were eating rather loudly.
It wasn't real, none of it was. This could not be happening. That was the only thing that kept running repeatedly through the Nebari's mind as she stood in the doorway of the docking station. Before her stood Moya's transport pod, and she was on it. But she couldn't be two places at once, right, that was impossible. It could not be happening. But if it wasn't real then why was she staring at the transport pod slowly taking off with her and the dead D'Argo upon it.
She made to run for the pod but the doors were closing as the room depressurized forcing her back into the unsafe…safer…halls of the (not)Moya Leviathan. This was so frelled. Chiana turned tail and ran, because this wasn't happening, it couldn't be, Crichton would never leave her behind, taking that imposter with him. No, he knew the real Chiana, that…that, thing…that it, wasn't her, and he would know…right?
Of course he would, because that wasn't Crichton, it couldn't be Crichton because that was her, and if that wasn't her then that wasn't Crichton. It made perfect sense. Now she just had to find Crichton and he would tell her that none of this was real and she didn't just see herself get on the pod with the not-Crichton and not-D'Argo, leaving her, the real (not)Imposter-Chiana behind.
The hysterical and slightly psychotic Nebari ran to (not)Moya's Pilot den. That was the last place she knew him to be, and he would be there. He had to be. In her crumbling mental state, she didn't see Crichton until she ran into him head first. They both tumbled to the floor and Chiana was so glad that he was real and there that she wasn't quite sure what she told him, but that didn't matter, because he was here, and so was she, so they couldn't have just left themselves behind.
The human moved off and the young alien was left alone with her own mental state that was shattering into tiny little pieces. Because if he was here and so was she, then who was in the transport pod?
"This can't be happening, I'm real, I'm me. Yeah, I have to be real… the other me, she's the…the fake, because I'm me," Chiana held herself tightly, rocking back and forth slowly on the catwalk. She was so gone that she didn't even notice the Xarai that was creeping up from behind her. Chiana only came to at the sound of Crichton's pulse pistol, Winona, going off and a scream of pain that echoed around the chamber.
The fear that had clouded her mind evaporated and everything suddenly seemed so clear. She and Crichton were stuck on this dying Leviathan, surrounded by insane cannibalistic Sebaceans and their only mode of transport long gone, with them 'supposedly' on it. They were so frelled.
"Chiana, I need you to focus," Crichton was yelling at her now, snapping her out of her tortured musings. She slowly got up, still shaking a little, and made her way over to him. Once she was there she noticed something astounding, the Pilot was alive despite the spear protruding from his head, and the Xarai in Pilot's den were all dead.
Crichton was sitting on the console stroking Pilot's brow, carefully avoiding the spike that had be causing him a great deal of pain. Pilot seemed to be calm, traumatized and in pain, but he was calm, that was, of course, until Chiana approached. As the Nebari came up to the console, Pilot started shaking uncontrollably and wailing in fear.
John placed his hands on either side of (not)Moya's Pilot's face and spoke to him in a smooth even tone. "Pilot, Pilot look at me," He seemed to calm down marginally at John's voice, only when his frantic orange eyes looked at him did he continue, "It's okay Pilot, this is Chiana, she is a friend."
Pilot seemed to consider his words as he turned his gaze to the Nebari girl, taking in her appearance slowly as if committing her image to memory. "Ch-Chia-Chiana is fr-friend?"
John sighed in relief, "Yes, Pilot, Chiana is my friend, and now she is your friend too," John pulled Pilot's face toward him when he started to drift off. "Pilot I need you to concentrate. Do you know how many more of these Xarai are on the ship?"
"No, I am so-sorry, b-but I…I…there are n-not enough fun-functioning DRD's. I am ve-very sorry," His stuttering started to get worse. He was petrified; would the Hoo-Man be mad at him for not knowing? Would he be angry and hurt him like Kaarvok would? Would he just leave because they were useless?
Pilot started to panic; neither he nor Rovhu wanted the Hoo-Man to leave. It was because of the Sebacean looking man that they were free of Kaarvok's control it was because of him that Rovhu was now conscious for the first time in many, many cycles. They liked John, both of them. His mere presence seemed to calming them. "Pl-Please, do-don't, were s-sorry, please, I—"
"Shhh," John hushed him, placing his forehead against Pilot's, hands moving to stroke along the alien's cheek in a soothing manner. "It's okay Pilot, it's gonna be okay," and Pilot believed him. Everything was going to be okay.
"What…What do you ne-need us t-to do?"
John thought about what he was going to say very carefully. They needed to repair the extensive damage done to Rovhu but before that they had to get rid of the Xarai first; they proved the largest threat at the moment. But how to do it? He couldn't just run along every tier shooting them, Rovhu was much too large, larger than even Moya, and he didn't have enough oil left in Winona to last even a dozen more shots. They didn't even know how many Xarai were left anyways, so that plan was out.
The only other option would be to eject them into space, but how to do it without forcing them all into the hanger or airlock and pressing the eject button posed a problem. They only way to do it would be to seal off Pilot's den and open up the rest of Rovhu to the vacuum of space, but he wasn't even sure if they could do that.
"Pilot, can you seal off the den and flush the Xarai out into space?" John asked hopefully.
Pilot seemed to hesitate, he didn't want to make John mad but he was asked a question and he had to comply, "No," he winced visibly as the word left his lips, but when Crichton showed no sign of anger he continued slowly, "Not with…with the con-control collar in place." The word collar was spit out with fear and disgust.
"Alright, then we have to get rid of the collar," he stated it as if it were the simplest thing in the world.
Pilot looked at him in shock. Remove the collar? Rovhu had only been 17 cycles old, one cycle after they had first met and bonded as Leviathan and Pilot. He remembered that day as if it were yesterday. They had been taking a group of miners to the Cullantack system where a small supply of expensive and rare Valtak crystals had been located on an uninhabited planet. Rovhu was more than happy to take them, he was young, naïve, and enjoyed just flying through space, they both had been.
The voyage shouldn't have taken more than seven monens, but something went very wrong. Two weekens out from the planet a Peacekeeper Dreadnaught had boarded them under the jurisdiction of possible illegal smuggling of uncontrolled substances. They never found the drugs they were looking for, but that didn't stop them for arresting the 27 crew members and commandeering Rovhu for transporting their crew-made-prisoners to a jailing colony seven weekens out. The Peacekeepers told them that if they co-operated they would be released without being punished. They had lied.
They had been so very young, and now 92 cycles later they couldn't even remember what freedom felt like. Could he (would he) remove them from their bond of slavery.
Pilot gazed at John in wonderment; he could feel through their connection that Rovhu was as dazed as he was. To be free, free of the Peacekeepers, was it possible?
"Pilot, do you know how to get rid of the collar?" John asked him hopefully, he was pretty sure the answer would be no, but it couldn't hurt to ask anyway. When Pilot shook his head, Crichton sighed and realized he would have to make his way to Command and find it himself. "Hey Chi," he motioned Chiana over and this time when she approached the console Pilot did not react as fearfully. "Can you stay with Pilot? I'm gonna head to Command and try to find the controls to the collar and remove it. I need you to seal off the doors and keep the Xarai from gettin' in. Got that Pip, protect Pilot at all costs."
"All…all right, Crichton."
"Here, take Winona," Crichton handed his beloved pulse pistol to Chiana, catching her eyes as he did so. "Be careful."
And then he left, the door closing behind him, sealing them in.