Chapter 5


"Crais, no offence, but you look ridiculous."

"Did I ask for your opinion, Crichton?"

"Have you looked in the mirror?"

Aeryn's idea to dress up as Techs had been sensible. Unfortunately the uniforms they had got hold of were less than a perfect fit. Crais' had been designed for someone rather...well, smaller. They'd given up trying to get it to fasten long ago, but it was still stretched to breaking point. In fact, it was difficult to guess which part was going to go first. Which was probably why he hadn't tried to sit down.

"These uniforms are necessary to the success of the mission. They are a necessary hardship," Crais almost pulled it off. What gave him away was the grimace as he tried to walk.

***

"What can I do for you, Captain?"

The Junior Officer Crichton had approached was surprising forthcoming.

"I need to find one Officer Benari."

"What's her duty assignment?"

"Special forces. We have urgent business that must be discussed in person."

"Special forces command is on tier 6. That's your most likely target."

"Thank you. My compliments to your Commanding Officer."

As Crichton strode away, the Officer spoke over his comms.

"Sir, they've arrived."

***

Crais and Aeryn were crawling through the service ducts.

"You're sure this is the right way?"

"This is the way to tier six yes. Keep crawling."

Just then, Aeryn heard a ripping sound behind her.

"What was that?"

There was a short silence.

"Nothing," Crais replied.

***

"This is where we part," Crais said.

"You think he'll still be in the nursery?"

"It's the best chance I have, and security is lax there."

He began to crawl away.

"Crais," Aeryn said.

He turned.

"Good luck."

"Thank you, Officer Sun."

***

Crais reached the hatch leading to the nursery. Removing his pulse pistol from its holder, he took a deep breath and slowly opened it.

He found himself in a large, dimly lit room. Several rows of cots could be seen. He began to scan the names on the charts at the end of them.

At last, in the corner, he found what he was looking for. He scanned the child's chart and started.

"Tauvo. She called him Tauvo?"

"Yes Bialar, consider it an affectionate gesture."

Crais spun round. Seated in the other opposite corner was Benari. Crais cursed himself, how could he have forgotten to check the room was secure?

"At first," she continued, "I considered calling him Bialar. But then, I didn't want him to bear the name of a traitor."

Despite his situation, Crais found an ironic smile on his lips.

"You almost make it sound as if you cared."

"But I do care Bialar. This little insect has great value to me - as bait."

"Bait?" Crais said, feeling suddenly winded.

"You didn't seriously think you could infiltrate a Command Carrier did you? I never realised you were quite so naive. Peacekeeper Command had a plan to capture you, and it couldn't have worked better. You've gone soft. The Bialar Crais I knew would never have fallen into such an obvious trap."

"The Bialar Crais you knew is dead, just like the Presa Benari I knew. I came here for one reason only - my child."

"You were willing to die for him, how heroic. And you will die, but not in saving him. I've been waiting a long time for this."

She produced a pulse pistol from the shadows and aimed it at Crais.

Crais waited.

Suddenly she spun round and fired a shot.

"Noooooooooo," Crais yelled.

His own survival forgotten, he ran to her and grabbed her by the neck.

"How could you do this!? Is there not one part of you that remembers who you are? Do you have any idea what you've just done?! You've just killed your own son!"

Even through her struggles to breathe, she managed one word.

"So?"

Suddenly he released her.

"You're right, I am not the Bialar Crais you once knew. He accepted the death of his child, I do not. Kill me or I will kill you."

"It would be my pleasure."

She pointed the gun at Crais again. Before she could fire, another shot rang out. She slumped and her gun went spinning across the floor.

"Crais! Do you require assistance?"

"Not anymore, Officer Sun, but I must congratulate you on your timing. We must leave immediately."

"But what about...." Aeryn's question ended at the look on Crais's face.

"I'm...sorry," she said, struggling to find the words.

"We must leave. It appears we had some assistance getting in, getting out will not be so easy."

"Crichton is waiting for us on the landing tier."

"I will follow shortly."

With a quick backward glance, Aeryn left.

Crais turned back to the figure now on the floor.

"I hoped to save you too," he said, "but there's nothing left to save."

He turned, walked to the hatch and opened it. As he was about to climb inside he heard a voice.

"Bialar!"

It was a voice he knew well.

"Pres," he said, "you're alive! How?"

"Every so often I regain control. I don't know why. It only lasts a few minutes. And, Bialar...." she broke down. "I remember everything!"

He knew how that would hurt her.

"Come with me," he said.

"I can't, in a moment I'll lose control again."

"What can I do?"

"Kill me, Bialar, please. I can't watch myself killing and hurting and not be able to do a thing to stop it. I killed my own son, our son. I should die and I don't want to live."

"But...."

"Now, Bialar, please. Help me."

A million thoughts ran through Crais's head. But he raised his pulse pistol.

Then he spoke.

"My greatest regret was always not showing you how deeply I loved you."

"You didn't have to," she said. "I knew."

"Maybe so, but that wasn't an excuse. But maybe now I can right that. I just wish it wasn't in this way."

"There's nothing more you can do for me."

Crais paused, something resembling a tear in his eye.

"I know," he said simply.

Then he raised his weapon and fired. She fell down dead. Without looking back he walked to the hatch. At the hatch, he paused for a moment. Without turning round, he spoke.

"I love you," he said simply.

Then he climbed into the hatch and left.

***

Crais sat on Moya's bridge, staring out of the viewscreen.

The door swished open behind him.

"Do you want any dinner?" Crichton asked. "Because if you do you'd better come fast. Rygel's only filled one of his stomachs and the food's almost gone."

"No, thank you."

"I'll save you some. That way, when you're ready to eat, it will still be there."

"Thank you," Crais said again.

Crichton left.

Crais sat, and stared some more. Then the thoughts came.

He'd had a brother - and he was dead. He'd had two sons - and both were dead. He'd had a lover - and she was dead. He'd had parents - and they were far from here. Everyone he'd loved had been taken from him. And all because of Peacekeepers.

Crais looked down at the uniform he wore. He wasn't a Peacekeeper any more. So why did he wear it? He knew now. He'd always felt the ties that still made him belong. The woman he loved, or once loved, had been there. But not any more.

He got up and headed to his quarters. It was time for a change.

He wasn't a Peacekeeper any more.