Disclaimer: Farscape belong to Jim Henson etc. Important point is, they're not mine.

Rating: Hard PG-13 (Not for sex)

Timing: As of 'Into the Lions' Den: Part 2'

'Captain's Prerogative' now has two prequels, also on ff.net. 'His Heaven' comes first and picks up where ITLD2 leaves off. Next is 'Tomorrow', which links the two. One of these days, I'll actually write a sequel.

Braca's first name is given as 'Alasis', the name I picked for him before the PTBs got their act together.

'Captain's Prerogative' gained an honourable mention in the Best AU Fanfic category in the Farscape Fanfiction Awards 2003.

'Captain's Prerogative' has been entered in the 2004 Farscape Fanfiction Awards under 'Best Series' (as part of the CP Universe series). If you don't like this fic, ignore this. If you do, I'd appreciate your nominations and (after January 10th) your votes. I'd give you a link, but I can't seem to make it come up when I upload. I'm sure Google will turn it up. Thank you.

'Captain's Prerogative'

Part 1

Captain John Crichton strode down the corridor, whistling the theme tune to 'Captain Scarlet' which had been stuck in his head since that morning and stubbornly refused to budge. He turned a corner, neatly dodged a Tech loaded down with tools - waving off his apology - and knocked sharply on the third door on the left. The office of his ally - not friend, never friend - Captain Bialar Crais.

"Come in," a weary voice said.

Crichton did, opening the door with a flourish. "Mornin' sunshine," he said cheerfully, deliberately choosing a greeting that he knew would irritate Crais, "what do you have for me today?"

Bialar Crais looked up from his desk and Crichton regarded him silently. Hell they'd all changed in the last ten cycles, but none more so than Crais. If it was possible, Crais seemed to have aged more than Crichton himself had. And he would continue to if he kept pulling these all- nighters.

"Crais man," Crichton said, seriously this time. "Go to bed. I'll take over."

"You are merely my advisor, Crichton, you cannot give me orders," Crais' matter-of-fact tone even more annoying because he was right.

"I'm your equal in rank, so you can't overrule me either. Plus, if I called Doctor Taan up here, she'd take one look at you and order you to take six weekens' bed rest. And she *can* overrule you," Crichton said, smirking at Crais.

The lines of tension around Crais' mouth deepened. Crichton was right, unfortunately. He should never have promoted him.

"Very well," Crais said, through clenched teeth. "You will restrict your activities to those areas that are absolutely essential and leave the rest to myself. Is that understood, Captain?"

Crichton gave a jaunty salute. "Yes, Captain," he replied, smiling smugly.

Crais forcibly restrained himself from punching Crichton and nodded sharply, walking out of his office and leaving his duties to Crichton's tender mercies.

***

Life, Crichton had decided several cycles ago, was pretty good. The day he'd realised that he could have Aeryn or he could have Earth had been a turning point. Their decision to leave Moya, heart-wrenching even with their former shipmates now scattered across the uncharted territories, had turned out to be one of the best they had ever made. Fate had smiled on them. Living planet-side again, at the HQ base far from Peacekeeper space, was a welcome change. They had a lot to be thankful for.

Like Lizzie.

John Crichton's only daughter was the image of her beautiful mother and the light of his life. He and Aeryn had barely arrived at their new home when they had discovered she was on her way, but the prospect of a settled existence had meant that her appearance, though unexpected, had been far from unwelcome. It had been, Crichton decided, the icing on the cake. Although most of the resistance members were ex-PKs or other military, the rules were relaxed here. Couples could - and did - fall in love, marry, have kids. Lizzie had plenty of other children to play with and loved living there. Aeryn, now Lieutenant Sun - no matter how long Crichton had spent trying to convince her to use his name - spent her days training prowler pilots and was widely considered one of the finest instructors they had. Yup, life was good.

Well, for him anyway.

Frankly, and he'd never thought he would be saying this, he was worried about Crais. His new position, beginning a cycle ago now, when the original leader had been assassinated by Peacekeepers, had brought his obsession, drive and single-mindedness to the fore once again and those traits had rapidly taken over just about everything else. He permitted no distractions and persuading him to pursue any kind of recreation (in the Human sense of the word at least) had gone from extremely difficult to impossible. When they'd first arrived, Crichton had idly entertained the idea that Crais might find someone other than Aeryn to think about and lighten up a bit. Unfortunately, it hadn't come to pass.

As much as Crichton didn't want to admit it, they needed Crais. He had been the right choice for leader. And if he kept on killing himself with the pace.... Obviously it was his duty to interfere. Again.

***

Dr Alayna Taan was somewhere in her mid-thirties (at least, that was how she appeared to Crichton), with a shortish crop of terminally untidy blond hair and eyes the colour of Granny Smiths. She was not particularly tall and her figure was womanly rather than model-thin. She had been the perfect choice for Chief Medic. She was virtually the PK anti-christ, in that she considered a person's rank and race irrelevant except when it mattered to them and was blessed with an excellent bedside manner. No one, from the cadets to the officers, had any doubt in her knowledge and skill. She was the one who'd taken care of Aeryn all through her pregnancy and delivered Lizzie and Crichton would have no other doctor.

And, far more important for his purpose, she was the only one who could relieve Crais of duty. Like captains everywhere, Crais avoided medical treatment like the plague and Laynie was the only one able to get near enough to find out if he needed it.

"Good morning, Captain," she greeted him, with a friendly smile. "What can I do for you?"

Crichton smiled back, hopping up to sit on one of the medibeds. "Crais. I want you to go see him, look him over and tell him that you'll relieve him of duty if he doesn't start getting some rest. He'll object. Give him a shot of something so that he doesn't have a choice."

Laynie grinned, making a poor attempt to hide her amusement. "You know I can't do that unless he asks for it. I can only overrule a patient's wishes if their life depends on it, and even then only if two other members of staff agree."

Crichton hopped down again. "You couldn't...bend the rules a little, could you?"

Laynie paused. Crichton bent more rules than anyone else in the resistance, but she knew as well as he did that something needed to be done about Crais. "I'll see what I can do."

"Thanks Doc," Crichton said, smiling at the woman he'd come to consider a friend. "Oh, by the way, Aeryn said to let you know that they're doing combat scenarios with the sub-officers today and to expect a rush later on."

"I'll alert Doctor Kelna," Laynie replied, sighing. "But is it really necessary to keep breaking so many bones?"

Crichton shrugged. "Don't ask me, not my department. I'm just Crais' gopher."

"I think Captain Crais values you more than that," Laynie replied, knowing quite well that Crichton knew that anyway.

"I've yet to see the evidence," Crichton replied, affecting a martyr's air which slipped after a microt. In truth, he quite enjoyed his position, but he'd be damned if he was going to let Crais know that. "Anyway, I've got to do the mountain of paperwork that I've just dumped on myself. Good luck with Crais."

Laynie watched him go, biting her lip in indecision.

***

Bialar Crais had, naturally, ignored Crichton's 'suggestion'. He *was* in his quarters, but instead of resting he was reading the new-recruit list. They had to be careful about people joining the resistance, one leak and their position would be severely compromised. New people joining were never allowed to come straight to the head-quarters, they stayed at the secondary base until Crais' people had agreed that they were loyal beyond all reasonable doubt. Crais insisted on being kept informed of every new arrival and transfer candidate. The recruiting team did well though, he'd never once had to refuse a transfer request.

As he looked down the list of names, one caught his eye. Officer Jian Senva. He recognised the name, but couldn't place it. He started to pull up the man's record, but stopped when the door chimes of his quarters rang.

"Come in," he said, shutting the console screen off.

Laynie stepped into the room and stood to attention.

"Doctor," Crais greeted her.

"Captain."

"I...assume that Crichton has been speaking to you," Crais stated, rising from the console and talking a step towards her.

"He has," Laynie replied. "He's concerned about you."

Crais raised an eyebrow. "A few cycles ago that would have been beyond the realm of the possible."

"Nevertheless, I'm here," Laynie answered. "He tells me that you're not resting. Are you having difficulty sleeping?"

"Occasionally," Crais conceded.

"Occasionally meaning most nights or every night?" She knew him too well to fall for that.

Crais sighed. "Almost every night," he admitted.

Laynie stepped closer. "Captain...I do not wish to relieve you of duty, but if you continue to endanger your health in this way I will be forced to," she said, meeting his eyes. "I can give you something to help you sleep, or I can recommend a program of relaxation exercises, which would be a better long-term solution."

"You will not take no for an answer, will you?" Crais asked, slowly moving towards her.

"Captain...I must safeguard your health. It is my duty," she answered, very conscious of how close he was to her. "To you and to the resistance."

"And that is all?"

She closed her eyes. "You don't need to ask that question."

Crais slid one arm around her, placed his hand on her lower back and pulled her to him, using the other hand to tip her face up to his as he brought his lips down to hers. Laynie wrapped her arms around him, pulling him closer as she lost herself in his embrace.

"As your doctor, I must object to any unnecessary exertion in your weakened state," Laynie whispered, as Crais' lips moved from her mouth to her neck.

"And as yourself?"

She closed her eyes. "You don't need to ask that question either."

***

It wasn't until Crais awoke, in the late afternoon after the first good rest he'd had in weekens, that his mind returned to the transfer list. Getting out of bed and pulling his uniform back on, he pulled up the file of the man in question to get a good look at it. The moment he saw the picture, he remembered. He'd been a friend of Tauvo's, he remembered being introduced to him once. He hadn't paid all that much attention to Tauvo's friends at that time, but now the chance to speak with someone who had known Tauvo well would be a pleasure. Someone else to help keep Tauvo's memory alive.

With that mystery resolved, his thoughts stubbornly strayed back to Laynie. Crais had decided when he joined the resistance as second-in-command that romance would be too much of a distraction. On meeting Dr Taan, he'd realised that he could have her as a valued friend or as a recreational partner, it couldn't be both...and he knew she was too important an ally to risk it. For nine cycles she had remained so. The day he had suddenly found himself in charge of the entire resistance fleet had passed in a blur and that evening he'd found himself with her, forgetting his every resolve and giving in to the feelings he'd kept tightly controlled for so long. Since then, their relationship had entered an odd limbo stage. He was still convinced that he couldn't make a permanent bond and keep his mind on his responsibilities, but he couldn't make himself stop seeing her either. With her he was always out of control. It was a feeling he hated, but one he'd somehow managed to become addicted to.

Crais sighed, forcing his mind back to business. He resolved to make contact with Officer Senva as soon as he arrived on the base. In the meantime, he thought grimly, he needed to see the mess Crichton had undoubtedly made of his duties.

***

Crichton had his feet up on Crais' desk when Crais walked in and did not remove them. That one gesture was enough to remind Crais how utterly unlike anyone else he had ever met Crichton was. No Peacekeeper would have dreamed of doing such a thing.

"Afternoon," Crichton said, glancing up at him. "You look marginally less like dren. I guess Dr Taan gave you something after all."

"Yes, she did," Crais replied, rather hoping that Crichton would not inquire what. The last thing he wanted was Crichton knowing about his weakness for her. "Is there...anything to report?"

Crichton pulled his feet off the desk and stood up, moving round to lean against the front of it as he faced Crais. "One of our contacts from sector nine commed in a few arns ago. He said that there's a command carrier passing through the area."

"A long distance from Peacekeeper space."

"Exactly. It's the carrier Pitaak. Under the command..." Crichton said, a twisted smile coming to his face "...of one Captain Alasis Braca. I figured you'd want to know."

"You were correct," Crais replied, raising an eyebrow. "I think perhaps that we need to...investigate this further."

"My thoughts exactly," Crichton said. "Damn...I never get tired of beating that boy up."

He picked up a vid-chip from Crais' desk. "This is all the information we were sent. Lieutenant Hals has already spoken to one of our other contacts in that sector, who has confirmed it. She...suggested sending out a marauder crew to investigate, but I figured that you might want to take this one yourself."

"I take it that you intend to accompany me."

"Yeah, I figure we could take Aeryn too. It'll be just like old times."

"Braca is more dangerous now. He has an entire command carrier under his control," Crais pointed out, taking the vid-chip from Crichton.

"Yeah, I know, but it's still Braca. Can't think outside the box."

"Box?" Crais repeated, for once deigning to ask for an explanation.

"No original thought, just training. He's the PK poster boy. Why d'you think I always beat him?"

"I have often wondered how it could be possible," Crais replied, dead-pan

"Hey, I am a highly trained officer now. I could take you," Crichton declared.

"I would strongly advise you not to attempt it," was Crais' response.

"Course not. You could have me slung into the slammer, but I still could."

"I will take your word for it."

***

"Officer Senva, thank you for responding so promptly."

"Captain Crais," Senva acknowledged him, nodding. He didn't exactly looked pleased to see Crais.

"I recall you...as a friend of my brother...." Crais began.

"Captain," Senva said abruptly, almost interrupting Crais. "If you wish to question me about my record, my future or my beliefs, I will stay, but I do not wish to discuss the past. My loyalty is to the resistance absolutely, and to you as my Captain, but I do not seek any other connection with you."

Crais was taken aback. "I know of no reason why you should object to a simple discussion."

"Captain, may I speak plainly?" Senva asked, staring straight ahead.

"I thought you already had, but permission granted."

"I have no doubt that you are an excellent leader for the resistance, but if it were not for that I would never serve under you."

"May I ask why?" Crais asked, somewhat taken aback. New recruits to the resistance did not normally introduce themselves to him in this manner.

Senva met his eyes, the old venom that had never dissipated rising up again. "Because I hold you responsible for Tauvo's death," he spat.

Crais stared at him, speechless.

"Crais!" Crichton walked in, naturally without knocking. "Oops, bad time?"

Crais mentally shook himself. "No, Crichton, are the preparations complete?" he asked, trying to sound normal.

Crichton nodded. "It's time."

Crais turned back to Senva. "Officer Senva, I hope that we can...elaborate on this point at a later time. Dismissed."

Officer Senva turned and marched out of Crais' office. Crichton whistled when the door had closed behind him. "Not a happy guy. What did you say to him?"

Crais shook his head. "Nothing that concerns our current assignment. Is Lieutenant Sun ready to leave?"

Crichton's face took on a silly grin. "Actually, no, she's not coming."

"For what reason?"

The grin got wider. "Precious cargo on board."

"May I assume that you mean to tell me that Aeryn is with child?"

"Crais, my man," Crichton said, clapping one hand down on his shoulder. "I'm in such a good mood, you can assume anything you like."

***

"Attention, carrier Pitaak, this is Captain Bialar Crais. We have no hostile intent, please power down your weapons."

"They won't listen," Crichton commented, at Crais' use of the standard greeting. "They never do."

"In my experience, the best way to make a Peacekeeper do what you wish is to suggest that they do the exact opposite...and I am counting on that."

"The new defence screens have been tested, right?"

"Extensively, but never against a command carrier."

"You're telling me this *now*?!"

Braca's command carrier, as expected, fired its frag cannons. Crichton momentarily closed his eyes. The defence screen on Crais and Crichton's marauder wirred into life, reflecting the energy straight back to the command carrier. The frag cannons exploded.

Crichton whistled in admiration. "Remind me to thank Lieutenant Necre when we get back. That was one inspired idea."

"We were fortunate to recruit him when we did," Crais replied. He opened the comms channel again. "Captain Braca, will it be necessary for me to destroy anymore of your ship, or are you willing to grant...an audience?"

Braca evidently preferred option one. The carrier's back-up frag cannons fired and were also destroyed by the shields. Crais sighed.

"Captain Braca," he repeated, "I would be quite willing to disable all your weapons one by one, but it would save a great deal of time and effort if you were to co-operate."

There was silence for a few microts, then an irritated voice.

"What do you want, Crais?"

"To come aboard your ship, to address your crew and then to return with any that may wish to join us," Crais replied. "And...to enquire what brings you to this sector."

"There are no traitors aboard *my* ship." Braca sneered. "And my purpose here is none of your concern."

"Oh, I'm afraid it is," Crichton put in. "You see, we control this sector and if you can't give us a good reason not to, we can blast you out of the sky."

"Destroy a command carrier with one marauder?" Braca's voice laughed at them.

Crichton glanced at Crais and rolled his eyes. "In case you haven't noticed, Captain not-catch-on-too-quick, we've already taken out your frag cannons without firing a shot."

There was more silence, the kind usually associated with frantic note- passing.

"You intend to come aboard, just the two of you?"

"That is our intent," Crais replied, smiling slightly at Braca's disbelief.

"And what is to stop one of my officers killing you on sight?"

"Thanks for the concern, but we'll take the risk," Crichton replied, biting back a laugh.

Another silence.

"Very well."

Crais shut off the comms channel and turned to Crichton, who was shaking his head.

"You know, this is fun," Crichton said. "What do you say I do recruiting more often?"

"I prefer to keep you at head-quarters..."

"Aww Crais, I didn't know you cared!"

"...where I can keep a close eye on you."

"Spoke too soon."

***

As expected, Braca's soldiers greeted them with a couple of well-placed pulse blasts. The energy dissipated harmlessly over the two men's chests, they didn't even break their stride.

"Take us to Captain Braca," Crais ordered as he approached the guards by the hanger door. Too stunned to object, they did.

"Hey Braca, long time no see," Crichton said amiably, when they arrived, enjoying the look of astonishment on Braca's face.

"Officer Lase, I gave express orders that...."

"Sir, we attempted to follow your orders," Officer Lase, one of the guards said hastily. "But...our weapons were unable to harm them."

Braca stared at Crais and Crichton, standing side-by-side in front of him. "What...technology have you achieved?" he asked, suddenly looking nervous.

"Yeah, like we're gonna tell you," Crichton chuckled dryly. "The only thing you need to know is that we're not stupid enough to come here just to get killed. You let us get on with our business and no one else will be either."

"What do you intend to do?" Braca asked, feeling more than a little out of his element.

"I will...address your crew and you will allow any who wish to join us...to do so," Crais answered.

"But don't worry," Crichton added. "We'll beat you up a bit before we leave and you can tell High Command that we forced you into it."

Braca gave a quick nod, taking the opportunity of moving further away from them. Crais stepped over to the ship-wide address system and opened a channel. Crichton kept one eye on him and one eye on Braca, his hand lightly resting on Wynona.

"Crew of the carrier Pitaak," Crais began. "This is Captain Bialar Crais of the Peacekeeper resistance. I am here to make you an offer. Many of you will be dissatisfied with your lives here. You...may believe that the Peacekeepers...have strayed from their original purpose, or you may wish to live a life that is less restricted - to raise a family perhaps," he said, glancing at Crichton. "We offer you the chance to fight for better causes...and to live your life as you see fit. We will meet in hanger two. You have half an arn to decide if you have the courage to join us."

He shut off the channel and turned to Crichton, who nodded. "Smooth," he said. "What do we do for the next half arn?"

***

"You have any family, Braca?" Crichton asked.

Braca shifted uncomfortably. Crichton's idea of a good way to pass the time was to talk about life at the resistance base and quiz Braca. All the questions were making him very nervous.

"I was born into service," he answered shortly, only fear of the enhanced weapons that Crichton and Crais might have making him answer at all.

"Yeah," Crichton said, "figured that. Would you like some?"

"What?"

"Family. A wife, kids. You know, people you care about?"

"Emotional ties hamper a soldier's judgement," Braca stated, with a thinly- veiled accusatory glance at Crais.

"Yeah, of course, what was I thinking?" Crichton said. "Tell me, Captain Braca, have you ever thought about dying?"

"Why do you ask?" Braca said, trying to resist the temptation to risk his life by telling Crichton to shut up.

"Well, it's like this," Crichton said, coming to stand beside Braca and slinging one arm around his shoulders. Braca stood there stiffly. "If I die, Aeryn and Lizzie - and Crichton junior when he gets here - will mourn and that's enough for me. Crais here," he said, moving away from Braca and gesturing widely to Crais. "He dies and the entire resistance movement will mourn the passing of their Captain. Not to mention the girlfriend he thinks I don't know about."

Crais head jerked up in shock. Crichton didn't notice, he was still looking at Braca.

"But you, Braca? If you die today...who will mourn you?" Crichton asked simply. Braca didn't answer.

"I think the half arn is about up," Crichton said. "Time to meet our candidates...if any of your crew have the mivonks for an adventure."

He and the still-stunned Crais got up and left, leaving Braca staring after them.

***

Crichton looked over the list of new recruits as Crais silently flew the marauder home. Slim pickings, but leaving the Peacekeepers took a lot of guts. Plus he'd be surprised if some hadn't been shot as deserters. It was rough, but they'd have to get used to it.

He stretched, arching his back like a cat. They would rendez-vous with one of their crew carriers in an arn, who would take the new people onto the secondary base while Crais and Crichton returned to HQ. He settled back into his chair again, letting his mind stray to more agreeable thoughts of Aeryn and baby number two.

"Crichton," Crais said suddenly, breaking the silence that Crichton hadn't noticed was uncomfortable, "how did you know?"

Reluctantly, Crichton dragged his thoughts back to the marauder. "How did I know what, Crais?"

"How did you know...about myself and Dr Taan?" Crais asked, deliberately keeping his eyes on the console in front of him.

Crichton's lips parted slightly at Crais' words and a grin slowly took over his face. "I didn't, Crais, you just told me," he answered.

Crais' head snapped back up and he stared at Crichton, outraged.

"I knew it! I knew that there had to someone. And Laynie? Damn, I should have seen it. You lucky dog, Crais, she's a great girl...woman...whatever, you have great taste. I can't believe she never said anything!"

"Crichton," Crais said, desperately, "I must ask you not to reveal this to anyone."

Crichton groaned. "Oh Crais, no one's going to challenge your command just because you've *finally* fallen for someone." He saw the look on Crais' face. "Crais...it is possible to combine the two."

"No it is not," Crais replied flatly. "Peacekeeper training was right about some things. I cannot lead the resistance effectively and pursue a relationship. I should never have allowed myself to get involved with her in the first place and I must...terminate it."

"That's crap, Crais."

"It is my decision, regardless of your opinion of it."

Crichton slumped back in his chair. "One of these days, I'll actually talk some sense into you."

"First you will have to develop some yourself," Crais snapped back.

Crichton held up his hands in surrender. Sometimes it just wasn't worth it.

***

Crais, in an attempt to remove the confusion from at least one area of his life, called Officer Senva to his office as soon as he and Crichton returned. He came in a mood Crais easily recognised - ready to obey, but not to co-operate.

"Officer Senva," he began. "The last time we...discussed this subject, you made a statement that I cannot ignore. That you believe...I am to blame for Tauvo's death. Would you care to explain that?"

"With all due respect, Captain," Senva replied, his expression less than friendly. "It would be better if you didn't know."

"Must I order you to explain, Officer?" Crais demanded, growing irritable.

Senva turned his head to look at him. "Very well, I will explain," he said, "but do not blame me if you don't like what you hear."

Crais met his eyes for a moment and didn't like what he saw there. Nevertheless he nodded to Senva and moved round to the other side of his desk, settling himself into his chair and making a firm gesture that Senva should sit down also.

"Begin," he said, when they were both seated.

Senva looked back at him, pausing for a moment in thought. "Forgive me, Captain, but I will have to be blunt. There was much you didn't know about your brother, much that he would never have told you...because you cared more about your career and following regulations that about him."

Those words cut Crais deeply, because he'd thought them too many times himself.

"In short, Captain," Senva continued, pausing for a few microts in a way that made Crais' blood run cold. "Your brother and I were lovers."

Crais nearly fainted. He stared at Senva, shell-shocked, his face white and his vision threatening to black out. "You...cannot be serious," he choked out.

"Oh, I'm quite serious," Senva replied, his expression neutral. "It's rather a dangerous subject to joke about...I'm sure you remember enough about Peacekeeper codes to know that."

Crais leant weakly back in his chair, his head spinning. His first impulse was to react with fury, deny the possibility and order this man out of his office - if not the resistance - but something told him that Senva was telling the truth.

"If he had told you, Peacekeeper directives would have required you to court-martial him," Senva continued. "So neither of us told anyone. Then someone found out...your Lieutenant Teeg."

"Teeg?" Crais asked. "She knew?"

"She did," Senva said, anger obviously building up in him. "She also knew...that if he was found out it would reflect badly on you. High command...would assume that you'd known...and punish you for failing to report it and for exercising *bad judgement* in insisting that he was under your command. So she took care of it."

Crais' heart started to pound. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"Didn't you ever wonder how Tauvo came to collide with John Crichton's ship? He was an excellent pilot, how could he have made such an error?" Senva said, glaring at Crais. "It happened because Teeg sabotaged his prowler...he couldn't control his own craft. You spent a cycle chasing that Human through the uncharted territories...and all the time Tauvo's murderer was standing right beside you...until you disposed of her."

Crais closed his eyes, trying to calm his churning stomach. "Officer Senva," he said, trying to keep his voice steady. "I...require some time to...absorb what you have told me. I will dismiss you now...and speak with you again at a later time."

Senva got up from his seat and walked out, head held high, leaving Crais too mixed up to think.

***

The door chimes rang. Laynie Taan groaned and yawned as she dragged herself out of bed. It was two arns into the sleep cycle, she hadn't slept a wink and she'd had a long day. The last thing she needed was another medical emergency.

"Bia...Captain Crais, what are you doing here?" she asked in amazement.

"I...." Crais began, suddenly realising that he didn't know what to say. "I...am sorry to wake you at this hour. I wish to speak with you. I...need to speak with you."

She looked at him in surprise and concern. "Of course," she said, trying to disguise her amazement at this unprecedented request. "Come in."

***

"I need to speak with Crichton," Crais announced to Lieutenant Hals as he walked into his office the next morning.

Hals handed him a vid-chip. "Captain Crichton...asked me to give you this," she said, with the look she always got right before she told him that Crichton had done something stupid. Crais groaned inwardly. He did not need this.

He shoved the vid-chip into the play slot rather harder than necessary. Crichton's irritatingly cheerful face flashed up in front of him.

"Hey Crais, I forgot something on the Pitaak. Be back soon."

Crais fought down the temptation to utter a loud expletive. He hated it when Crichton did this. Anyone else would have left a flight plan. Anyone else would have waited for permission! But not Crichton, he did whatever he wanted. Act first, think later. Or sometimes not at all.

***

Laynie Taan was trying very hard to be her normal self, but it was proving very difficult. Her mind kept straying back to what Crais had told her the night before, her stomach was churning and with the lack of sleep she was exhausted. And dealing with Mrs Captain Crichton, or rather Lieutenant Sun, was more than she could cope with.

"How are you feeling?" she asked, trying not to let her own feelings affect her professional demeanour.

"The nausea is worse than last time, in fact every side effect appears to be amplified," Aeryn replied, looking less than happy herself.

"That's not a bad sign," Laynie replied.

"I do not want this to interfer with my duties anymore than it did last time."

Laynie sighed. "Well...I can give you the recipe for some herbal tea that should help relieve the nausea, but you may have to reduce your duty hours to get sufficient rest."

Aeryn looked irritated. "I should not have allowed this to happen a second time," she said firmly, climbing down from the medibed and, nodding to Laynie, leaving the medibay.

Laynie sat down, fighting down another wave of nausea. "I shouldn't have allowed this to happen a first time," she thought miserably.

***

By the time Crichton returned, Crais was pacing his office like a caged tiger. If there was one thing he hated more than anything it was not knowing what was going on. He was in charge of this base and he should know everything that happened here. Crichton's secret projects were the bane of his life.

Crichton strode through the door looking triumphant. Crais turned on him. "Captain Crichton," he said, his eyes blazing. "I expect to be kept informed of everything that goes on at *my* base, is that clear?"

"Chill Crais," Crichton said, as always ignoring Crais' anger. "I got the thing I forgot."

"And what, may I ask, was that?"

"Not what," Crichton said, grinning. "Who."

"Who?" Crais repeated.

Crichton nodded towards the door. Crais' eyes widened in shock as Braca stepped into the room.

"Crichton," he said, now absolutely furious, "how dare you risk bringing this man aboard without consulting me?! He is a security risk!"

"Crais, I'm taking full responsibility for him and everyone here will be alerted to keep an eye on him," Crichton said calmly. "He's my project."

Crais' look of disgust was second only to Braca's. "What *exactly* do you intend to do with him?" Crais asked, through lips tight with tension.

"Turn him into one of us," Crichton said. "I felt like a challenge."

Crais was almost beyond words. "A challenge?!" he shouted. "You intend to risk everything that we have worked for so that you can have a challenge?! Or do you mean that you wish to be a challenge for me - because you certainly are that!"

"Crais, I will watch him," Crichton said, now trying to calm him. "I can do this."

Crais motioned for Crichton to move closer to him, out of Braca's ear shot. "Crichton," he said, his voice low and deadly, "if he causes a security breach, no matter how small, I will kill you on sight. Do you understand that?"

"I understand."

"Then get out of my office."

Crichton nodded sharply. "C'mon Braca, I'll show you to your room."