FARSCAPE
Tracker

Rick Mantilla
Copyright Notice
© 2001 Rick Mantilla



Prologue


Are you sure?” Traynor asked as he petted the trelkez.

“Of course I' am. I'll never forget looking into the eyes of that beautiful delvian priestess.”

“Priest?”

“Yes priest. Of the ninth level pa'u. Beautiful. Simply beautiful, replied the merchant.

“What was she looking for?”

“Medicine, herbs for a sick hynerian that was on her ship. She and the male sebacean were…”

“Sebacean male? I thought there was three?” Traynor said out loud surprised.

“Three of what?' the merchant asked.

“Never mind. You were saying something about a sebacean male?”

“He fell into Maldis's trap and brought to his home.”

“Maldis?”

“Yes an evil sorcerer. We have lived countless cycles under his evil hoping for the day when he would be defeated and he was and we are finally free!”

“How was he defeated?”

“No doubt that the delvian priest played a part, but when the other sebacean arrived, no one knew what the real story was. You know how rumors start.”

“Wait. Another sebacean? Are you making this up?”

“No I am not. A female. Very beautiful from what I can gather.” Traynor grew concerned.

“Go on.”

“After she arrived not much happened. The priest purchased the herbs then I assume that the three of them left for their ship. A luxan may have been with them I am not sure.

“Did any of them mention where they were heading or give you any clues as to what they were going to do next?”

“None that I am aware of. We are small commerce planet and word spreads quickly around here. And besides the less we know about our visitors the better off we are.”

Traynor knew that the trail just grew cold. Talking to the other merchants or people on this planet would be a waste of time. The more time he spent on this planet the further Moya would get away from him. “They are for sale you know.”

“What?”

“The trelkez.'

Traynor looked at them realizing that he had been petting them all along. He grew repulsed at the thought of what may happen to them and he was disgusted with himself. He took out some money and paid the merchant for the information that he provided. “Here,” said Traynor handing him some more money. The merchant looked surprised. “Make sure no one buys them. Keep them here and take care of them. I'll be back to check up on them.”

“GLADLY!” the merchant said looking at the money that was in the palm of his hand the quickly looking up to catch a glimpse of Traynor as he left his store.



CHAPTER 1



“Not again,” Traynor said looking t the console where the ship's power levels were displayed.

He had been monitoring the power levels ever since the ship got caught in an Ion storm a couple of solar days ago. The power levels had been fluctuating all throughout the ship until he managed to repair the criptson power unit by bypassing it through the hoxia relay then patching it into the main power grid. He knew that his was only a temporary fix and that the unit would have to be replaced but he was deep inside the Uncharted Territories and he needed to make a decision. It had taken Traynor nearly a cycle to get this far, tracking Moya by gathering bits and pieces of information from some of his paid informants and from other bounty hunters who had seen the wanted beacons scattered throughout the galaxy. He was always one step ahead of the other hunters who have attempted to collect on the bounty and this gave him some satisfaction. Based on what U'ave didn't tell him, Traynor knew that the leviathan was more than likely a peacekeeper prison transport that may have been part of a command carrier convoy that had some how managed to remove it's control collar and escaped. He knew that High Command would want the leviathan back, capturing a leviathan as well as getting a pilot for it was a long and arduous process not to mention a very expensive one. But he could not understand why High Command would place a bounty on the prisoners and not be concerned with finding and recapturing the leviathan prison ship. Peacekeeper standard operational procedures dictated that, “…any and all threats to Peacekeeper infrastructure and or to High Command as well as those threats perceived made to The Council, must be dealt with in a swift and appropriate manner…” Which means sending in a Retrieval Squad after the leviathan to eliminate the threat. High Command would also deploy a squad of Black Ghosts, unbeknownst to the Retrieval Squad, to ensure that the mission be completed and not fail. If the Retrieval Squad fails or encountered any difficulties, then Black Ghosts are ordered to assume command, neutralize the threat, and eliminate any reaming member of the Retrieval Squad and collecting their IDENT chips. High Command does not tolerate failure in general, but when it comes to dealing with perceived threats to The Council, executions are carried out immediately removing any weakness that may have been exposed by the Retrieval Squad's failure to complete the mission. Traynor knew this first hand. The information that he had showed no evidence of a Retrieval Squad or Black Ghosts ever being deployed. Something wasn't right. Something was missing. If his assumptions were correct, then High Command had an alternate motive, but there was only one way that he could be sure. Traynor would have to look at the wanted beacons.

The console went off again indicating another power drop. “Wonderful,” Traynor said once again drawing his attention to the console and the display, which showed that the power level had dropped another nine lergs. Another alarm went off this time indicating that the pressure seals in the cargo bay were loosing power, which meant that the cargo bay doors would soon blow open. He pressed some buttons on the console and the alarm shut off. He pressed some more buttons and switches and looked at the display and saw that the power levels were not stable and the seals in the cargo bay were holding. He flexed his left hand and turned and walked over to where the star charts were. He pulled two charts out and walked backed to the console and laid them out. He looked at both of them intensely. One chart was one that he was working on since he entered the Uncharted Territories in pursuit of Moya, the other an incomplete chart from the last time he was here. It wasn't very a very detailed map, just some coordinates to some planets and systems that would make no sense to any other person other than to him. He knew that the Uncharted Territories were so vast that charting it would be an impossible feat. What he had in front of him was better than having nothing at all. He looked at the console to locate his current location and vector and then looked at the older chart, then at the other. He realized by looking at the older chart that this was the farthest that he had ever been to inside of the Uncharted Territories. “There…” he said out loud placing a finger on the older chart next to a set of coordinates. Based on his current vector this was the closest planet that would have any facilities that could repair his ship. He hesitated to input the coordinates into the ship's computers. “Frell…” he stated in frustration.

He hated to break off his pursuit of Moya. But there were no other options for him. Without repairing the ship there was no way that he could track her. The trail has had grown cold for a while and he was no closer to tracking her now than he was before the storm hit. Hopefully while his ship was being repaired he would be able to pick up some new leads by talking to some of the planet's inhabitants. With some new information and a little bit of luck he would soon be back on her trail. He entered the coordinates into the ship's computers and waited for the computer to accept them. He walked away from the console and put the star charts away. The computer blurted out a sound that signaled that it had accepted the coordinates and mapped out a vector towards the planet. The ship turned and adjusted its vector. He continued flexing his hand growing annoyed at the pain that was increasing. Traynor made his way below to the weapons bin to put on his body armor, grabbed his pulse pistols and to look for his sand goggles.




Another solar flair was about to form and Traynor doubled checked to see that the ship's defense screen was up. The proximity alarm went off indicating that the flare was approaching the ship and he turned his head and closed his eyes and waited until it was over. Once it passed he opened his eyes and squinted as he looked out the cockpit window. Slowly his eyes began to focus and the planet emerged. Looking at it, he could tell that nothing much on the planet had changed, in fact it had gotten worse. He could see more storms covering the planet and that the population had grown larger living in a concentrated area where the storms were less likely to hit. This coupled with the intense solar flares made it a planet that most prudent people would want to avoid. For many it was an outpost where they could hide in safety and obscurity. Traynor decided to land the ship just on the outskirts of the depot not wanting anyone to know that he had arrived, it was a big universe but you never know who you may run into. Plus the fact that he didn't want any hingemots around his ship looking for something to steal. He did not have the time or the patience to deal with them.

The ship entered the atmosphere and shook violently as it fought against severe gusts of winds that surrounded her. Traynor looked at the console looking at the power levels hoping that they would not drop any further ignoring the vibrations and movement of the ship. The proximity alarms went off again he closed his eyes and waited for the flare to pass. The ship stopped shaking and he opened his eyes and saw sand dunes appearing over the horizon and the depot several metras behind them. It was a perfect spot to land.

The ship hovered over the sand dune briefly blowing sand in all different directions at times more violently than a sand storm. Tryanor wanted to make a hole deep enough in the sand for the ship to remain hidden from view in all directions. When he was satisfied, he lowered SAT and she gently sunk into the ground. He shut the engines off and made his way back to the landing ramp, checked his armor, drew one of his pulse pistols and put on his sand goggles.

The landing ramp opened up and another solar flair hit. Even with the goggles on he had to practically shut his eyes when it hit him. The ramp fully retracts and hits the sand softly at exactly the same moment that the flair passes and he begins to walk down to the base of the ramp to get his first good view of the immediate surroundings. After a short pause to look at around, he begins to climb to the top of the dune to see what lay on the other side. As the top of the dune nears, Traynor drops to his stomach and craws on his belly the rest of the way. When he reaches the top, he sees nothing but the outskirts of the depot and a storm that was forming directly behind it. He could begin the wind to pick and saw the gains of sand on other dunes that where around him move like ripples in water. “For the love of cholok!” he cried out loud as he turned over on his back and reached for his boot, took it off and turned it over so that the sand that had gotten into it could fall out. Traynor could deal with just about anything; full frontal assaults, assignations, the klendian flu, and dramallas, everything, except having sand in his boots. It was something that just irritated him. As the last grains of sand fell out of the boot, he felt the wind pick up even further and he knew that the storm had picked up in intensity and that it was moving towards him and the depot at an accelerated pace. “Wonderful,” he said as he put the boot back on and quickly went down the dune and made his way back up the landing ramp.

Back inside, he headed for the section of the ship that the criptson power cell was located and removed it and placed it inside of a backpack that he picked that was nearby. By removing the power cell, life support and some other primary functions of the ship were disabled, which he would not be using while the ship was be repaired, but he made sure that the engines, defense screen, motion sensors as well as his weapons remained online. The ship shook and he nearly lost his balance. The storm was getting closer. He was worried about the storm as well as the ship being buried in the sand once it hit. He quickly made his way to the cargo bay.

In the bay he reaches for a small handheld device that he would use to turn the ship's engines on remotely, should the ship become buried in the sand, and enable him to fly the ship from the ground for a short distance. He also flipped on a switch that activated a homing beacon for the ship that he would be able to lock onto if he looses his bearings, and grabs a backpack and places the power cell into it and heads back to the ramp and without looking back he turns the device on which retracted the ramp and turned on the motion sensors that were sensitive to heat, and saw the gun turrets move into a defensive positions. Traynor then climbed back up the sand dune and headed towards the direction of the depot. He wasn't walking more than 30 microts when, “ FRELL!” he shouted as he felt sand in his boot again. Once on top of the dune he slid down the other side not stopping to get the sand out knowing that the storm was approaching. He continued fighting the wind and tried to cover his mouth as the sand kicked up around him as he tried to get to the Dam-Ba-Da depot.






“No! No! No!” Furlow cried out loud, “Have you even looked at the glarian frost point?”

“Um, no. I just thought that…”

“You always have to look at the frost point before you attach the ompdek power drive on these types of ships. If you don't check it then it then it will stick so when they try to power up it will overload and shut down.” Her assistant just stood there with his mouth opened shocked that he could have caused the ship to explode. “Nice huh?” Furlow said out loud and the assistant nodded. “If you can't remember things then write it down, that's my motto.”

Her assistant, embarrassed, looked away and went on to correct his error. Business has been very brisk at the depot since the ion storm hit all the near by systems a couple of solar days ago. Bounty hunters, smugglers, commerce traders, and all sorts that had encountered the storm were all coming to the depot with damaged ships that needed repair and plenty of money to pay for it. If it weren't for the storm the depot would be just another planet that had all travelers would rather avoid. If it's broken, then charge a frelling huge amount of money to fix it that was her motto. She normally liked to work alone but because of the volume of work she had to take on a couple of assistants to get the work done. She hated having to share in her good fortune but she kept reminding herself that this was only temporary and she needed all the money that she could get her hands on so she could finish her special project and get off this barren planet. The biggest deal of her life was just within arms reach and she wasn't going to let anything stand in her way. A loud popping noise went off followed by a hissing sound. Furlow took a quick whiff of the air around her and she quickly knew what it was. Adraxan vapor.

“STOP!” she yelled at the bumbling assistant whom she was just speaking before and ran as fast as her pudgy little legs would allow her. Her assistant stopped what he was doing and froze. “Don't..” trying to catch her breath, “…you know what you just did?” she screamed out loud. He just stood there looking at her. She grabbed the hose that he disconnected while trying to fix his original mistake. She reconnected the hose and the vapor stopped leaking.

“Are you a total fahrbot?”

“I was just trying to…”

“That vapor is extremely flammable. Anything can set it off. Anything.”

“I'm sorry. I am not familiar with this type of ship and…”

“Just stop what you're doing and go help Nion he's pretty backed up. I'll take care of this before you blow us all up.” He turned and walked away. Furlow sighed and she began to fix his mess.

“Furlow?” Reina another assistant she took on vied for her attention.

“WHAT?”

“There are some people who would like to discuss the possibility of increasing your fee if you could repair their ship by tomorrow.”

Furlow's eyes lit up. “Customers always come first. Lead the way,” she replied all too happy to follow her knowing that she would be able to charge more than her standard fee.

The twin doors to the depot began to come alive as the sounds of the huge hydraulics came on moving the doors apart. Traynor felt the wind push him up against the doors as the sand attacked him from all directions, he managed to look up and saw that the gun turrets were manned and their occupants were well protected from the storm. When the doors had opened just enough for him to get through, he squeezed himself through them with the aid of the wind. The last gust knocked him off balance and landed face first when he entered the depot. The doors closed just as another flair was about to hit and he caught glimpse of it as he got up from the floor and took off his goggles and began to spit out sand from his mouth. He ran his fingers through his hair and he could feel the grains of sand caught in between his fingers. He shook his head furiously as he tried to get the sand out of his hair but the more he tired the less came free. Sand in his mouth, hair wherever, but not his boots. He should have taken off his boots instead of trying to get the sand out of his hair. Now they would have to wait until later. He walks over to some stairs that lead to a maze of catwalks, and if he remembers correctly which one to pick, it would take him to Furlow. He finally reaches the top of the stairs and sees that the catwalk are filled with people, more than usual, that were heading to all areas of the depot, the med bay, other going to the trade trading and commerce section and some heading towards the whore section. He takes the catwalk to his left which leads to another set of stairs that this time went down which in turn lead to another catwalk that branched off into two directions. It had been awhile since he was here but it was all coming back to him. When he reaches the intersection of the catwalk he turns left now remembering that he was headed in the right direction. Traynor reaches the end of the maze and he looks over his right and he can see Fulow's place, busier than he expects and with more people all standing around waiting to speak to her. He climbs down the stairs and sees some people arguing about money and sees her and notices that she had gotten a little bit more fatter, and filthier. Frell, if he was stuck on this planet he would have to let himself go too. As he walks over to her he can hear the dren that she was telling her customers who had no idea of what she was talking about so they agreed with her since she was the only person that would be able to help.

“…And the frangle is fired not to mention the greez is leaking coolant. Looks like you have a huge mess on your hands.”

“Can you get the parts to fix the ship? We have cargo that must be delivered to Retnol 6 in three days!” one of the men shouted out in desperation.

When he mentions the words important cargo her eyed open wide. Maybe what was inside the cargo bay would be worth more than fixing the ship. As a courtesy she would have to inspect the cargo to be sure that it would not interfere with her ability to fix the ship, but did not want to alarm her customer should she have to remove the cargo for the safety of the ship. No need to tell them. “I can fix it and I do have the parts but to make your ship a priority it's going to cost you ….a whole lot.”

“Not an issue the man replied, “Just get it done.”

“I'll need a small deposit not that I don't trust you…”

“Here. Take this. Just inform us when the repair work is completed.”

“Not a problem,” she said smiling, “The ship will be ready tomorrow.”

The man thanked her and he and his party left. Furlow knew that the repairs would only take 5 arms, but she needed time to see what was inside the bay and if it were something that could fetch her price, she would take it. Traynor smiled as he approached her, her backed turned to him, “I'm sure that finding a frangle on this hole is going to be hard.” She quickly turned around and remembered that voice that was all too familiar to her, she faced him her face covered in oil and dirt.

“Well, well, well. Who made you an expert in fixing colosian transports? Its been a while Dekksin. What brings you out this far? Looking for repairs? Or did you come out to try to get your hands on this!!” she said as she rubbed oily hands all over her pudgy body.

He laughs, “Furlow, I couldn't afford you.”

“Good. Its nice to know that some people still see good value and that too much of this is a good thing!” she replied letting out a laugh. “ Guess its repairs then. Ship hit the ion storm that passed by here a couple of days ago?”

“Just like everyone else that's here, except that I don't need a frangle. I need something a little bit more substantial.”

“Like what?”

“A criptson power cell,” he said taking out the unit from his backpack and handing it over to Furlow. The unit was covered in sand, “Sorry about the sand.”

“Frell. You really fried this thing didn't you? And it looks like you tried to bypass it. Pretty nice work Dekksin…for an amateur.”

“Thanks,” he replied ignoring her comment and her obvious attempt to flirt with him, “Can you do something with it? I need a new one fast.

“I don't think I have a new one. Those things are hard to come by for a ship that old. Still don't know why you'd still want a Sperian transport. I'd still be willing to take her off your hands…for the same price that I offered you the last time.” “

You made your offer over 5 cycles ago, and the answer is still no.”

“That I did, that you said. Lets see what we can do here follow me.”

She started to walk over to a portion of the depot that was nearly deserted if it wasn't for a collection of ships and broken parts that were scattered about. This was where she kept all of her valuable material since she took out a device that deactivated a defense screen that they both walked through and when they passed it came on again. “You can look but don't touch,” she said as she broke into a slight sweat from the short walk. Traynor continued to follow her but turned his head and shifted his eyes to the parts and ships that were around. He saw a partially destroyed Nebari cruiser, parts to a prowler along side a section of the cockpit, a raptor and other ships from all systems that had stopped here voluntarily or not. Seeing the prowler parts made him uneasy but not overly concerned knowing that peacekeepers would never venture out this far or in small numbers when they were about to usurp a system. “Its over here. I knew I had one somewhere!” Furlow gleefully shouted out. But he ignored what she said and was looking intensely on a ship of a configuration that he had never seen before. It was partially covered up but he could still make out the ship's form. It looked like a target drone that he practiced on back when he was training as a peacekeeper. It was ugly but looked very agile and swift. But he knew that it wasn't a drone. Seeing the prowler parts here he immediately assumed that the ship was part of a training mission that the prowler was on and that High Command was conducting military exercises preparing for an invasion of the system. Judging the fact that he was dealing with Furlow he assumed that she swindled someone out of this piece of junk or stole it. She kept on talking to him but he wasn't paying any attention. He walked over to the ship and removed the trap just a little so that he good gets a better look. As he lifted it up, he saw strange markings and tried to read them tracing the markings with his fingers. He tried to sound out the words in his head this was a language that was alien to him,
Aieya asss sa was what he sound out in his head but did not even come close to what it actually read; IASA. He lifted the tarp further and looked at a hentch drive that was installed onto the ship knowing immediately that it was not part of the ship's original design. He looked through the cockpit and saw that the controls had been modified and he continued to walk around the ship where he encountered more markings that were in front of the ship below the cockpit which was even more difficult for him to sound out; FARSCAPE ONE.

“Finally!” Furlow shouted as she found the spare unit at the bottom of a scrap heap. “Not exactly working at full capacity but it'll have to do. I can take out the parts that I need from the burned power cell and work with what I have and I can even add some electromagnetic and thermal insulation. It'll be better than the old one! What do you think Dekksin? Am I good or…”

She turned around and looked at him, “WHAT THE FRELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?”

“Where did you find this peacekeeper target drone?”

“What are you talking about? That's not a drone, besides I don't deal with stolen peacekeeper equipment.”

Traynor looked back at the prowler and looked backed at her.

“Fair enough, ok so sometimes I may come across some stuff but I get' em fair and no one can say different. A gal has to make a living ya know. But just so you know Dekksin, this isn't anything that they can come up with.”

“I've never seen a ship of this design or these markings before. Where did you steal it from?”

“Steal? Me? Never! It was a fair trade that me and my favorite flyboy make.”

“This flyboy, he willingly gave you his ship?”

“Well, not exactly. But a deal is a deal,” she replied as she covered the ship back with the tarp. “Now about your little problem, like I said I can take whatever parts that aren't burned out and out them into the new unit with some modifications and you'll never have to worry about it for at least 5 cycles. Wadaya think?” she said proudly.

“How much?”

“Well since you need it in a hurry and I'm going to have to stop from working on my other customer's ships and…” “

JUST tell me how much?”

“Fifty thousand…and I want it in borinium.”

“Not a problem,” he replied and started to walk away.

“You bounty hunters are all the same, frell even remind me of peacekeepers, rude and arrogant, always demanding and never saying thanks. Humph just like the sebacean that was here with my flyboy, she was pushy and quick to the draw.”

He quickly stopped and turned around, “Your flyboy; he isn't sebacean?”

“No he's not. Haven't you been listening? But the peacekeeper he was with is,” she said sarcastically. “They were both stranded here when this ship, I mean a ship that they were flying around in doing some frellin tests broke down. Being the caring, selfless person that I am, I gave them some help…for a price.” Traynor just smirked. She continued, “Then the others on board the leviathan, a luxan I think… came down and something happened with some bounty hunters and a wanted beacon. I can't remember the rest. All I know is that I got paid!” she chuckled under her breath. “…And I intend to cash in on the rest very, very soon.”

Traynor could not believe his luck, “Did you know where they were heading?”

“Why? Aim on collecting on the bounty? If you are then I get half.”

“I did not mention anything about a bounty or is it that you are concerned about your flyboy coming back to claim his ship?” he retorted.

“Umm…fair enough and the answer is no and I don't give a garanta's brax where they went. All I care about is getting paid.”

“How long before its ready?” Traynor asked.

“8 maybe 10 arns. Fast enough for you?”

“Wonderful.”

Good, now get out of here I've got work to do.”
“Where's the beacon?”

“There used to be one right outside the depot but that peacekeeper took it with her. There are a couple more scattered around here but couldn't tell you where any of them are.” Traynor turned and began to walk away, “Remember borinium!” Furlow shouted back at him.

“I KNOW,” he replied without looking back.

10 arns to fix the power cell, she was good he said to himself as he listened to the wind and the sand hitting the depot and could tell that the storm was dieing down. He headed to the hospitality level to get something to eat and let things get settled around the depot before he went out to look any of the beacons.



Chapter 2


He made his way back down to the surface level and followed the catwalks that led to the entrance way to the surface. 5 arns had passed since the storm ended and he was anxious to find a beacon and maybe talk to some of the natives to see if any of them may have remembered anything about what had happened with the luxan and the others. The doors to the depot open up and the sun hits him directly in his face and Traynor reached for his sand goggles and put them on. He was surprised to see so many people moving about continuing to go about their business as if the storm had never passed. As soon as he was clear of the doors he made his way about the square to see if he could find another beacon. He asked a local merchant who was again setting up shop and he replied that there was one right over there and he extended his left and pointed with his fragile fingers to the far end of the square and said that he remembered seeing bounty hunters clamoring around it before someone took it away. Traynor then headed outside the square to see if any other beacons had survived the storm and the countless others that have come and gone. He knew that it was a useless exercise but he had to try to look if only to justify getting sand in his boots. As he walked by the spot where the beacon used to be he saw something running towards him but he couldn't make out who or what it was only that it was in a hurry and it was carrying a pulse rifle. Traynor drew both of his pistols and aimed both of them towards the object that was coming at him. He stood there not moving and waited for the target to get closer. Finally he was able to make out what the figure was and he relaxed a bit as it came closer.

“Move! Get out of my way!”

Traynor didn't move he knew that vorcarion blood trackers were all talk and that they take advantage if you show any weakness. The blood tracker side stepped Traynor and went directly to the spot where the beacon once lay, sniffing all around trying to pick up the scent. “Out of my way hunter, this is my bounty!”

“I don't know what you are talking about. Bounty? What bounty? I don't even see a beacon let alone know where to find it,” Traynor said hoping that he would take the bait.

“The one here is gone. I am trying to remember the scent. I lost it on Cenacka there it disappeared, filthy race the cenakaians, too many scents to strong, I needed to come back to reacquire the scent but it is now gone. It seems that they have escaped me for good.”

“Shame that I can't help you, if we only had a beacon…” Traynor said coyly.

“COME follow me,” he snarled, “ My home, I have a beacon, collected one before they were all lost, to help require, remember.”

“Have you forgotten how they look already?” Traynor said knowing that vorcarions had bad memories as well as not being able to count.

Snarling, “Of course not. I look at the beacon for clues, help. I never forget. Hunter, what is your name?”

“Traynor Dekksin.”

“ I am Rorf the finest blood tracker in the system. This is my bounty and I will KILL YOU if you steal it.”

“Don't want the bounty just trying to help a fellow hunter, but if you don't want my help…”

“I NEVER need help. However I will allow you to help me and in return I promise not to kill you. My mate is with child and the hunt is longer with only one but I cannot risk the life of my child and woman. COME we shall see who needs help,” Rorf said motioning to Traynor to follow him and turned his back to him and started to walk. Sloppy…never turn you back on someone you don't know Traynor thought to himself as he followed Rorf and rested his hand on his right pistol just in case Rorf decided to make any sudden moves.

“Leave your weapons outside.”

“Why?” “Because this is my home and I wish it. If you do not like it…” he said raising his pulse rifle and aiming it at Traynor, “You may leave…but dead.” He took off his holsters and placed them on the ground and then removed his shoulder holsters and gave them to him and followed him through the door into a foul and damp home.

Traynor looked around and saw the basic living needs, blankets, chairs, and several weapons lying around. He moved to the center of the room where he saw chains that were suspended from the ceiling that were attacked to some type of table. He walked over it and saw that it was designed to torture its victim, very slowly as well as incarcerate them, similar to what peacekeepers used. “That's where we tortured the luxan. Strong but we managed to break him down and get what we needed,” Rorf said proudly as he put his rifle away. Traynor was leery of what he said, blood trackers were also known to exaggerate quite a bit. “Stay here. I must check on my mate and child. I will bring you drink.”

“Not necessary. The beacon?”

“If you refuse to drink with me,” he snarled, “I will not allow you to see the beacon.”

“Thank you for the drink,” Traynor replied watching Rorf go into another room where his mate lay sleeping and waited for him to return.

Rorf returned with a flask of fellip nectar in one arm and the beacon under the other. Traynor was surprised to see the nectar knowing that it was hard to find at least this deep inside the Territories. He placed the beacon down on the ground and took a seat then opened the flask and took a long gulp and handed it over to Traynor motioning him to take a drink and he did. The two sat there drinking the flask then another and another, both of them waiting for the other to pass out. Finally Rorf spoke, “Why do you seek the beacon?”

“ I want to know what the bounty is. Just curiosity, I have no intention to collect it.”

“Good. Only the best hunters can expect to track this bounty you do not concern me, if you must have your curiosity satisfied here,” he said handing over the beacon.

Traynor did not reach for it; he did not want to touch it. He suspected that High Command might have enhanced the beacon with a DNA sampler, a device implanted in the beacon that would take a sample of the person who touched it and matched that against the bounty. Sometimes the hunted looked at the beacons to see how much they were worth, once they activated the beacon and the sampled matched, the beacon would inject them with a paralyzing agent that was instantaneous and a signal would be sent out to High Command as well as to any command carriers that were nearest to the beacon so that they apprehend them. But the DNA sampler also contained samples from everyone that High Command wanted alive or dead.

“No this is your home, your beacon, I would be honored if you turned it on.” Rorf snarled, “Good. You know your place. I will turn it on,” and he took one more gulp of the nectar, fell back in his seat, turned on the beacon and passed out. A holographic figure began to appear and before the figure fully came to form Traynor blurted out, “…Crais…”

The hologram came to life, “ATTENTION this is Captain Bialar Crais…” Traynor was extremely surprised that that Crais had risen to the rank of Captain and commanded a command carrier. “…Very good Crais, I knew you could do it…” he said angrily and sarcastically, “…long way from being a farm boy…”

He felt uncomfortable with beacon, hoping that there wasn't any other device that was hidden in the beacon and somewhat upset that he broke his vow. He stood in the corner of the room hidden among the shadows as the hologram spoke and avoid direct contract with it fearing it and listened as the hologram continued about the bounty. When it was finished he was curious as to why the peacekeeper wasn't mentioned. He understood that this wasn't a normal bounty, to have a commander carrier go after an escaped prison ship is never head of neither is the non-deployment of a Retrieval Squad. Traynor knew that this was personal. Crais must have some how managed to get permission from High Command as well as the Counsel to after the ship himself. That still left the question as to why High Command would allow him to do this, what there motives were and still left opened the question as to what his retainer wanted with the ship. He walked over to where Rorf lay and took the flask out of his hands and took one last drink and threw the empty flask at him. Traynor walked out of the room and went out to look at his ship to find out how deeply she was buried. The beacon left him with more questions than answers, but at least he knew who his biggest threat was…Crais.





A squad of soldiers stood around the entrance of Attan's heavily armed. They were posted there on orders from General Outha to not only protect his establishment but for intelligence purposes, to report back to him who was patronizing the bar, and to put U'ave's mind at ease. Attan walked buy a group of soldiers all of whom acknowledge him by nodding their heads. Attan was uneasy with this arrangement but he had no other choice, either comply with the order or face the reality of shutting down the bar and the possibility that U'ave has found him out. He would have to tolerate the situation and do nothing more that can raise suspicion. But this wasn't only happening to him, other merchants, and bar owners in the city have also felt the vice tighten. More soldiers have been deployed to patrol the streets “for the safety of the people” U'ave's order declared, but safety wasn't an issue when it came to interrogations. Something must have happened that spooked U'ave and he was making sure that nothing would hurt his interests and that his brother remained as head of the house. He entered the bar and saw that Elantras was busy as usual and saw that U'ave had arrived early and had taken his seat at his “private table.”

“Attan? How much longer will we have to deal with the soldiers?” Elantras asked.

“As long as we have to. We can't do anything that can bring trouble… at least not now.”

“You know business is way down. I don't know how you can keep this place open.”

“The same way you meet your needs Elantras, by keeping our business options open.” She knew exactly what he was talking about; her smuggling business was hurting too.

“We do what we must but even that is beginning to suffer,” she said worried.

“Don't worry, this will pass. Either U'ave will loose money or someone else will and that will cause trouble…and nobody wants to loose money.”

U'ave sat at his table and was drinking alone, every couple of microts he looked up, waiting for someone to come into the bar and he grew impatient. He wasn't in his usual mood, being very curt and direct, not his usual style, but he felt his time was running out, and for the first time he felt pressured and this he did not like. He looked up once more and saw the figure enter the bar and he breathed a sigh of relief. He put on a fake smile and spread out his arms in a welcoming fashion.

“You're late,” U'ave said annoyed but still smiling, “I have little time as it is.”

“I'm sorry it could not be avoided. I had to take certain precautions. I'm sure that you can understand that.”

“Of course,” U'ave replied, “Did you land undetected?”

“Yes as per your instructions, the control port managed to mask my landing and relayed your orders. I am sure that no one, other than you and the General know that I am here.”

“Good. But I must tell you that it was quite difficult to cover your abrupt take off the last time you were here. I hope you understand that I cannot tolerate something like that again.”

“I don't think that that will happen again.”

“And your brother? Is he still being kept in the dark?”

Elantras looked up at U'ave's table and saw a familiar figure. His back was turned to her so she was unable to get a good look at him. Finally, as he spoke he turned his head to his left and she saw whom it was. Her face grew ashen when she saw him, “Attan…” she said nearly in a whisper, “…it's him.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Its him. I 'm sure of it.”

“Who? What are you talking about?”

“Him. The night that Traynor got shot. He was there.”

“ I thought you didn't see anybody?”

“I said that I couldn't make out anyone that was there, until now, when he turned his head, that's the same face that I saw turning the corner when he was running off. And it's the same person who was talking with U'ave, the one I didn't recognize as one of your regulars.”

“Elantras, you better be sure about this,” Attan said sternly, “Because if you are, then things just got worse.”

“My brother knows nothing,” Odosa replied, “His only concern is trying to find one bounty that will pay off his debt. You don't have to worry about him.”

“I hope not, for your sake, if you want to pay off his debt and keep your life,” U'ave said.

“We both have interests that are in common, I will not fail.”

“When you task is completed you are free to collect on the same bounty that Traynor is working on. How you accomplish it is no concern of mine. 100,000 in borinium, and that my large friend is being very generous.”

“You are very kind.”

“Kind but not forgiving. What the frell happened? You were supposed to provide protection for the transport, a transport may I remind you that you procured as well as those drunken tavleks for pilots and bodyguards. You could have gotten better mercenaries with the money that I gave you,” U'ave said raising his voice and hitting the table with his fist.

“High overhead. The amount that you gave me was not enough. I had to cut the best deal I could with what I had.”

“Overhead? OVERHEAD? Do you think that this is your deal? You came to me for help and I agreed on two conditions, that you maintain anonymity and that you keep our guest onboard the transport at all costs, and you have failed miserably at both.”

“How was I supposed to know that they were drunks? Keeping tavleks captive in a ship isn't as easy as you may think. Besides the heat on the transport was unbearable,” Odosa answered back.

U'ave shook his head, “Did it ever occur to you to bring them what they wanted to the ship instead of letting them run about and causing suspicion?”

“As I stated before…”

“You have stated nothing that can justify your failure! Now things have gotten difficult for me…”

“The tavleks could have gone to a different bar, it was I that suggested Attan's. I thought that it was a safer place for them to go without too many people asking questions, your guest growing restless being on the transport, overhead my conversation with them, and when they returned drunk and went off to their quarters to sleep, your guest left the ship. I begged him not to leave the ship, but it was useless, one man trying to stop him, besides he threatened to kill me, I know that I was no good to you dead…”

“I'm not so sure,” U'ave interrupted,

“…So I awoke Bichak and we escorted him to Attan's. When we arrived, he grew agitated when he saw who was leaving the bar and asked Bichak who that man was. Bichak told him that it was a bounty hunter named Dekksin. As Dekksin approached, your guest got angrier and said something to the effect that “…that is no bounty hunter” and shouted at him. When Dekksin turned and got shot, we had to restrain him from going after him and it's a good thing that we did because I saw a woman come out of the bar. She screamed and we managed to pull him away before we were seen.”

“Did she see you?”

“No it was to dark. Bichak and I managed to escaped with your very angry guest.”

“Would you recognize the woman again if you saw her?” asked U'ave.

“Yes.”

“Good, we may have to deal with her when the time comes. What happened next?”

“We arrived at the transport and he sent a coded message to his superiors. I was not able to intercept the transmission nor was I able to decode it. He then went to his quarters to await a response. The rest of the events you already know.”

“This is more trouble than what I expected. I will not tolerate any more failures on your part Odosa, it there are I will ensure that you and your bother will never have to worry about finding work ever gain.” Odosa just looked at him in silence. U'ave motioned to him as if to say you may leave now.

Odosa got up and walked to leave the bar, Attan grabbed Elantras's arm and shoved her through the door that leads to a small storage room at the front of the bar. “You better get out of sight. No telling what he knows, stay there,” and closed the door behind him.

Odosa walked past the bar and looked at Attan and nodded his head and Attan reciprocated and walked out of the bar. Attan called another waiter to come over to watch the bar and he went into the storage room. “He's gone.”

“We need to contact Traynor. Can you reach him?” she asked with concern.

“Yes, but its too risky. They will surely be monitoring all transmissions. We'll have to do nothing …for now.”

“What next?” she asked.

“Go about our business as if nothing has happened. I am going to find someone to look after you.”

“WHAT? I can take care of myself Attan. I don't need anyone to protect me!”

“This is different from smuggling Elantras, you aren't making the rules; they are.”

“They?”

“U'ave and whomever he is dealing with.” There was a moment of silence between them.

“Who are you going to get to watch me?”
Attan thought for a couple of microts, he smiled and looked at her, “I have the perfect man.”


Chapter 3


6 arns had passed and Traynor received a COM from Furlow telling him that she had replaced and repaired the power unit. He spent most of his time trying to gain some leads as to where Moya might have headed. He didn't get any answers that he liked. As he approached Furlow, his expression on his face showed how he felt.

“What's wrong with you?” she asked, “I thought you would be jumping all over me since I got this thing fixed for ya in record time.” She extended her hand out and showed him the unit. He reached out and grabbed it and looked at her and said nothing.

“Poor Traynor. Did the trail grow cold?” she said laughing at him.

“I told you I don't want the bounty,” he replied looking sternly at her.

“You can't pretend anymore Dekksin. We both are after the same thing…money and lots of it.”

“I am nothing like you. I don't steal, I don't cheat, and I always finish a job no matter how long it takes and even if it costs me. You and I may be scum but I am a different kind of scum.”

“Well from one piece of scum to another, why waste all your time looking for a leviathan when it can come to you,” she said.

“What the frell are you talking about?”

“Lets just say for a cut of the bounty, I can give you a little something that can help you out.”

There was a short pause between them. Then finally he said, “Go on.”
“Glad I got your attention handsome. Take a look at this,” she replied and showed him a black box that was to the right of her and on the floor.

“This little thing is the answer to all your problems. You see Dekksin; yours truly has managed to replicate a distress signal that leviathans send out. Kinda like what you would find on a command carrier when they hunt them, except it has a double the range and double the magnification of the signal. I needed a backup plan just in case my flyboy and his friends didn't live up to our bargain, needed a guarantee so to say. You put this thing on your ship and you'll see how fast you find that leviathan. Don't know too much about leviathans but I do know that when one of their own is hurting, they always come, not matter what the pilot or crew say.”

Traynor had thought about this before but knew that this type of peacekeeper technology was hard to come by. He didn't know how she got her hands on this or even if she did built it, she did have skill, but now his options were wide open to him. “Now it all depends on you and what you want to do Dekk,” she said proudly.

“100,000 in borinium,” he said.

“I…I…” she stammered taken back by his offer. “I suggest you take it Furlow and pray that it works. If not I am coming back for a refund, the hard way.”

“Deal. You want me to install this and the power cell on your ship?” she said. “No, I'll take care of it myself,” he replied as his eyes hovered over a multiresonator hologram that was behind her on her left. A hologram device amplified a ship's signal so that it would appear that more ships were flying about instead of 1 and it projected holograms of the fake ships.

“Throw in the resonator and Furlow?”

“Yeah?”

“You never saw me, I was never here. If anyone comes after me, you'll be the first person that I am coming after,” he said coldly.

She stood back and was surprised at what he just said and she knew that he was one person that she could not frell with. “Fair enough. You were never here and take the resonator on me!”

“Have one of your assistants on stand by. I'll Com you when I've got the borinum ready for you. He can come out to my ship and pick it up.”

She looked at him.

“What? Did you think that I was going to bring the money to you?”

“Of course not. Just tell me when your ready.” Traynor took the power cell and the resonator from her, put on his sand goggles, and headed back to the ship.

“I shoulda waited until I got paid before I gave him anything,” Furlow said; as she looked at him leave not knowing if he would actually pay her.

Traynor took out the small device and hit a button and he head the ship's engines turn on but he could not see her. She had been buried deep beneath the sand after the storm. After a couple of microts, the sand began to shift and she emerged from the sand and hovered over the dune. He turned off the ship's sensors and gun turrets and he pressed another button that initiated the landing gear and she landed on the dune. The landing ramp opened up and he went inside eager to install the black box and open the containers that contained the money so that he could finish his deal with Furlow. He could have left the planet and not paid her but that wasn't him. He didn't want to be like the rest



“D'Argo man, I'm telling you there is something out there,” John said looking out the cockpit window. “You guys are telling me you can't see it?”

“Crichton, there is nothing out there except nothing. If Pilot had not received a distress signal from another leviathan, we would not be wasting our time looking at nothing,” D'Argo said growing annoyed by the microt.

“Yeah well its not like we had a choice in the matter. Moya had pretty much made up her mind when Pilot told us what was going on. Man! We were just a couple of arns away from ditching the love boat and getting some real food than the crappy food cubes we eat. I hate cubes D'Argo, I hate em,” John said out loud and chuckled thinking about what he just said. In order to keep his sanity he would sometimes think back to things that he saw and did on earth and what he just said reminded him of what Indiana Jones said about snakes.

“And with WHAT were we going to buy the food with?” D'Argo replied.

“ I dunno. Enter a karaoke contest, wash windshields. Besides, there has to be something here that we can pawn off to Vinnie the chin to get some money.”

“'Vinnie”?” D'Argo asked.

“Forget it. LOOK! There it is again! See it?”

“Your obsession with wormholes is getting way out of hand. Pilot!”

“Yes D'Argo?”

“Have the DRDS finished the diagnostic on Moya's scanners?”

“Yes they have…twice and nothing is wrong with them. In fact they are operating above acceptable levels. Officer Sun has also checked the scanners and should be up to command shortly.”

“I've checked everything that I can think of,” Aeryn said as she entered command. D'Argo looked at her while John continued to look out into space. “AND?” D'Argo asked.

“Everything is working fine. At least from what I tell. Pilot? Is Moya certain that the signal is not emanating from within the ship?” Aeryn asked.

“Yes Officer Sun, she has already checked for that. She insists that the signal is emanating from outside the ship and is adamant that she is near to closing in on it. But something is not right,” Pilot said with concern. “What's wrong?” Aeryn asked.

“It seems that the closer Moya gets to the signal, the father away it gets.”

“THAT does not make any sense,” D'Argo blurted out, “We cannot keep looking for something that is not there. Pilot, inform Moya to continue to search for 8 more aryns then to resume course to the commerce planet,” D'Argo commanded.

“I am sorry D'Argo but she will not leave until she finds the leviathan that is sending out the distress signal. It is her duty to investigate and help in anyway possible,” Pilot replied.

“Will someone tell me what the FRELL is going on?” Rygel shouted out as he entered command followed closely by Zhann.

“Yes Pilot is something the matter? I can feel that Moya is anxious and frustrated what is the matter?” Zhann asked with compassion.

“She is searching for a leviathan that has sent out a distress signal and THANK YOU for asking. We are both doing fine for now but I am afraid that Moya is concerned that the leviathan is severely hurt.”

“Yeah but the problem is that we can't pinpoint the signal's origin and I'm tellen you guys there is something out there,” John said still looking out.

“ENOUGH!” D'Argo shouted, “There is only one way to prove this and that's by going out there in a transport pod to settle this once and for all.”

“Are you insane?” John said looking at D'Argo, “What makes you think that it's not a peacekeeper ambush or a green eyed monster thingy. Pilot can't even pinpoint the signal and you think its safe? I know something is out there guys.”

“For once Crichton is right,” Aeryn interjected, “Until we know what we are dealing with we shouldn't do anything. And if Crichton is right and there is something out there, whatever it is we haven't done anything to provoke it…yet.”

“I agree,” Zhann concurring with John and Aeryn. “Score one for democracy.” John replied.

“FINE,” D'Argo snarled, “But if whatever you think is out there and attacks us first, one of you is going to have to deal with me.”

“Pilot?”

“Yes Zhann?”

“How long can we continue searching until our rations run out?”

“Moya and I have already taken that into consideration. We estimate that there is enough rations to last 57 solar days with 3 days of emergency rations if you all keep to the allotted amounts.”

“ALLOTED AMOUNTS? Dominars do not have allotted amounts. If we stay out here any longer, I'll starve. 60 days is not nearly enough. We will all die before we can get to a suitable commerce planet.”

“Relax Ryge, you can have my cubes…I hate 'em,” John said.

“Rygel, your concern should be with Moya, not with your stomach,” Zhann said annoyed, “Pilot, I will help you and Moya in any way possible.”

“Your help is always appreciated Zhann. Moya and I thank you.”

“Do what you will but MY survival is what is utmost importance not what's happening out there. If you need me I'll be in my quarters,” Rygel said turning his throne sled around and left command.

“If we do run out food I know who'll be the first that I'll eat,” D'Argo said sternly looking at Rygel as he left.

Aeryn walked over to John who still had his back to everyone and was looking out. She stopped and stood by his side and looked out with him trying to see what he was looking for. She paused for a bit and finally asked, “What do you see?”

“I don't know. It's like a wave, a ripple. Like when you throw a rock across a lake and it skips along the surface of the water.”

As the words came out of his mouth, she turned and looked at him, first at his eyes then his lips and stared at him briefly before catching herself. She quickly turned her head facing forward, again looking out the window. “What? Like a wormhole?”

“No,” John said, “I can spot those in a heartbeat. This. …This is different.”

He sighed and looked at her, “Maybe D'argo is right. My obsession with wormholes has gotten way out of hand. Maybe I am looking for something that isn't there. But I'm telling you Aeryn, I've got a gut feeling about this.” He turned his head and tried to continue looking for whatever it was he saw but all that he could see was her black silky hair that he wanted to touch.

“Maybe it's the food cubes,” Aeryn replied.

“Huh?” John said caught off guard.

“You said your gut was hurting you.”

“Oh…. umm it's just an expression…you know when…” he turned and looked at her and she did the same and the futility of what he was meaning was too difficult to explain to her. But at least she did show that she cared. “Forget it. I think you're right,” he said cracking a smiling and they both turned and continued to look at the cockpit window.

The interior lights were shut off. All non-vital functions of the ship were kept to a bare minimum. He looked at Moya and her movements and matched them exactly with precession. She was methodically executing a search pattern trying to get closer to the signal that she was so desperately seeking. After a time, Traynor entered the movements of the pattern into the ship's computers so that he would be able to put the ship on automatic when he was ready. He saw that Moya was executing a star cluster search pattern, slow, precise, leaving nothing to chance, Peacekeeper Special OPS procedure, a procedure that a crew from a Marauder would carry out. Traynor's suspicions were confirmed. There was a Peacekeeper on board. No pilot of a leviathan would ever be taught any type of Peacekeeper procedure or method. “This may be harder than I thought,” he said out loud to himself.

He looked over to his right and glanced at the console and it's readings. Moya was increasing the intensity of her scans but were no doubt bouncing off of SAT's hull and redirected back to her. He knew that she was confused and growing frustrated. He stared at Moya intensely and knew that the moment had arrived. The moment that he has waited for over a cycle. He entered some more instructions into the computer and left command for the weapons bin then headed for the Raptor.

The tridelium torch was in place and the Raptor was fueled. He was armed with his pulse pistols, strobe grenades, and a vibra-net and after checking his gear and body armor one more time climbed into the Raptor.

“Strange.”

“What is it Pilot?” Aeryn asked.

“All of Moya's scans are being redirected back to her. She has intensified her scans but she is getting the same result. Moya is directing the scans to where she believes the origin of the signal is located but it appears that her scans are hitting something, bouncing off and returning back to her.”

Aeryn turned away from the clamshell and looked out the window.

“If there was something out there we would have hit it and picked something up with the search pattern,” John said.

Aeryn turned back to face the clam shell, “Pilot run a diagnostic and have the DRDS check to see if the sensors are properly calibrated.”

“Officer Sun, I have already run a diagnostic twice and everything is running at optimum levels,” Pilot replied.

“Then run it a third time. The DRDS must have missed something,” Aeryn said sounding frustrated.

“We're chasing a ghost,” John said quietly to himself his back still turned and looking out into space, his eyes moving left to right, up and down straining to see what was out there.

The cargo bay doors opened up and the blackness of space entered the bay. A faint light in the bay fought against the black that was engulfing everything in its path but was quickly absorbed by it. The Raptor shot out of the bay rapidly reaching hetch 3 in less than 3 microts and would continue to increase in speed until it found its target. Traynor felt the pressure building up against his chest and legs as he stood and piloted the Raptor. The pressure would only increase as the Raptor gained more speed and would make piloting it more difficult and he was already feeling the strain as the Raptor fought against him. The small craft held only one and had no automation, no comforts. The only item that was automated was the torch. Traynor had to do everything else. The Raptor reached hetch 7 and flew to the right of Moya past her flying upwards several hundred metras above her.


“What the hell was that?” John said as he saw something emerge out of the darkness. From the distance John thought it was a shooting star. Aeryn turned and walked over to him and caught the tail end of what he was seeing and thought that it was just space debris as it flew to the right and past Moya.

“Its just space debris Crichton.”

“Garbage doesn't turn on an angle to avoid hitting us head on Aeryn.” She stood there with an incredulous look.

The Raptor began its rapid decent from above and was approaching hetch 9. Traynor struggled with the controls guiding the Raptor onto its target, fighting the urge to pass put as the blood in his body rushed out of his head and into his legs. He deployed the landing gear, which consisted of 3 legs. Attached to the base, neatly hidden, were what appeared to be claws made of stratix metal, one of the strongest and sharpest metals known to the mining community that can cut through almost anything. The proximity alarm sounded off, at first in slow consistent beeps then grew steadily increasing in pace as the target closed in. once the legs were fully retracted the claws popped out and the Raptor was ready to engage its prey.

Traynor fired the retro thrusters and the Raptor slowed down just a bit to try to soften the landing but not enough to make a difference. The Raptor landed hard and the jolt sent Traynor into the air causing him to hit is head on the roof of the cockpit as he felt the blood rushing back into his head. The hard landing caused vibrations that were felt all throughout Moya.

“Whoa!” John said as he turned to face Aeryn. “You guys feel that?”

“Feel what Crichton?” Aeryn asked annoyed at him and his persistence.

“That…. that thing. You guys didn't feel the ship shake?” he said.

Pilot ignored him and Aeryn answered, “No more than she usually does. What's the matter?”

“I've got a bad feeling about this,” John said sounding concerned.

As he lower hatch opened up, Traynor reached for and put on a portable breathing mask as he waited for a pressure seal to be formed between Moya and the Raptor. The torch slid into place and turned on and began cutting through Moya's hull. The intense light that was being generated forced him to close his eyes and he pressed himself up against a corner in the cockpit to try to avoid the tremendous heat that the torch was producing. He grabbed his hand and began to massage it as he prepared himself to enter enemy territory.

The torch cut deep into Moya and she let out what seemed to be a howl. She shifted and turned on her side moving violently as she struggled with the pain. Everyone and everything on board were thrown about, food cubes; supplies, even the transport pods, and Aeryn's Prowler's were nearly upended. “YOU GUYS feel that?” John said sarcastically as he caught Aeryn in his arms, as she fell forward into him. She was extremely surprised at how strong he actually was and gave him a look that even caught her by surprise.

“Pilot REPORT!” Aeryn shouted.

“Something is cutting into Moya's outer hull and is attempting to force its…” Just then the ship listed once again violently going into a three hundred and sixty degree spin.

“PILOT!” John shouted out.

“I am trying to keep all life support systems sable and I am attempting to gain control of Moya but she is not responding!”

John let go of Aeryn, but rather she let go of him and he tried to regain his balance and look towards the window while Aeryn fumbled her away across to where the manual controls were to see if she could help pilot. “Crichton, Aeryn! What the satra is going on!” Dargo shouted over the COM.

“Something…ugh…is cutting …into Moya,” Aeryn said as she tried to regain control.

“Chiana and I are in the galley and we are loosing atmospheric control. The gravity is beginning to fail!”

“WHATS GOING ON? Are we under fire?” Chiana blurted out.

“Pip, that's the million dollar question,” John shouted back.

Rygel had gotten knocked off his throne sled and was desperately trying to sit on top of it again and get out of Chiana's quarters as quickly as he could. He had been perusing to see if there were any valuable items that he could see or steal when he had the chance. He tried to COM everyone but soon realized that it had fallen off of him when he crashed to the floor.

“BY THE GODDESS!” Zhaan shouted as she picked herself off of the floor of the lab. “PILOT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MOYA?”

“I'M NOT….” Pilot began as he fought in vain to stabilizing Moya and tries to keep the life support operable. “…She is not responding…she is in unbearable pain… power levels falling rapidly. I suggest that you all board a transport pod as quickly as you can. SAVE YOURSELVES!”

Zhaan ran outside of her lab and went to press her head against Moya's hull to try to alleviate some of her pain but she know what little she could do would not be enough, but in her eyes no effort was ever wasted.

When Moya came out of the spin John tried to regain his focus and blinked his eyes several times in succession so that he could see clearly. When they finally adjusted he shouted out, “ LOOK!”

SAT emerged from the darkness and swerved to the left of Moya and flew past her. Her interior and exterior lights came on and everyone that was on command finally saw what John had been so adamant about, “YOU see! I told you there was something there!” John said gleefully boasting.

“Crichton! NOW is not the time.” Aeryn shouted back, as SAT flew to the front of Moya.

“Well at least we know it's not that ship that is firing on us,” John said as he looked at SAT. Just then the gun turrets emerged from the top and bottom both front and rear of her and all four turrets were targeting Moya.

“…Well, ok so maybe it is,” John, said quickly changing his mind.

“It's a Sperian transport ship,” Aeryn said. “PILOT prepare my Prowler.”

“WHAT? ARE YOU INSANE?” John shouted, “Now is not the time to be playing G.I. Jane! If you haven't noticed the air is getting kinda thin, pretty so we are all going to look like Barney…well except for D'Argo …we need to…”

“Officer Sun, I cannot open the cargo bay doors and all DRDS are trying to maintain life support. ALL OF YOU MUST GET TO A TRANSPORT POD NOW!”

“What the hell to the Spearmints what with us anyway?” John asked out loud.

“Sperians,” Aeryn corrected him, “That class of ship should have been destroyed right after the hundred cycle war.” John looked at her with no clue of what she was talking about.

The second cartridge was nearly half depleted when the torch had finally cut through the hull and slid over to the side, he could feel how hot it was.

“The cutting, it's stopped!” shouted Pilot but Moya continued to reel in pain unsure as to what was happening to her. Zhaan continued to help ease the pain and felt the slight relief that came because the torch had stopped cutting.

A temporary docking seal had formed and he took off his breathing mask. He inserted a full cartridge in the torch so that it could reseal the breech. He moved over to the hole and went in feet first, crossed his arms and slid down the tunnel.

“INTRUDER ALERT! THERE IS SOMEONE ON THE LOWER TIERS!” Pilot shouted out.



Chapter 4


Traynor came out of the tunnel and landed on his feet and immediately drew both of his pulse pistols, held them against his chest and quickly pressed himself up against the wall in one of Moya's corridors. He glanced upward and saw that the temporary docking seal retracted and the torch slid back into place and began to reseal the breach in the hull.

“Ahhhhhhh!” Zhaan screamed out and she fell to the ground as Moya once again reeled in pain as the torch cut her. She listed to her right once again throwing everyone about except for Traynor who expected this.

“WHERE?” Aeryn shouted out to Pilot as she was thrown to the ground as Moya learch to her right.

“I can't be sure…on the lower tiers…wait…. near Rygel's quarters,” Pilot replied. “Please, hurry! I don't know how much longer I can keep life support on. YOU MUST GET TO THE TRANSPORT PODS AND BLAST THE CARGO BAY DOORS OPEN!”

D'Argo's voice crackled over the COM, “IS EVEYIONE ALL RIGHT?”

“Except for the roller coaster ride WE'RE HAVING A WONDERFUL DAY!” John snapped back getting back onto his feet as Moya then violently shifted in another direction.

“The hull is breached and there is someone on the lower tiers near Rygel's quarters,” Aeryn informed him.

“SPARKY? YOU THERE?” John shouted into the COM

“I'll meet you THERE!” D'Argo shouted.

“Right! WE'LL TRAP WHOEVER IS THERE FROM BOTH ENDS OF THE CORRIDOR!” Aeryn said as she fought from falling to the ground again as she left command.

“WHA…what the hell am I supposed to do?” John said to Aeryn. “You're gonna leave me locked up in here like 3PO and R2 on the Death Star?”

Aeryn just looked at him with a confused look. “IF whatever is down there gets by us, make sure he does not get into command!” Aeryn shouted at him

“Great. And me without my light saber. What am I gonna do? Charm him to death?”

Aeryn tossed him a pulse pistol. “This time TRY NOT TO OVERLOAD IT” and she left command.

“…Make one tiny mistake and they won't let you live it down. What the hell am I worried about? We're probably gonna die anyway,” he said. “SPARKY? Come IN!”

“STAY HERE!” D'Argo commanded as he looked at Chiana.

“I'm going with you! You may need all the help you can get,” she said

“IF Aeryn and I fail YOU MUST NOT let what is down there up into command. You will be the only one left that can stop it”

“But Crichton IS UP THERE. I want to help YOU.”

“As I said before, YOU will be the only one left that can stop it STAY HERE!” and he turned, drew his qualta sword and converted it into a rifle and headed off to face the intruder.

Zhaan rose to her feet and once again tried to ease Moya's pain as the torch continued to burn into her.

Traynor quickly looked at both ends of the corridor knowing that they would try to squeeze him in from both ends. He didn't see anything…yet and once again looked up the hull being sealed. It was nearly completed. Still pushed up against the wall he waited patiently until the task was completed.

Aeryn was rushing down the lower tiers as fast as she could but Moya's awkward movements were making it a difficult task. The ship moved sharply to the right and she was thrown up against the wall. “D'ARGO! WHERE ARE YOU?”

“I am almost there! Another 20 microts!” he responded over the COM.

She knows that she would never reach the tier in time so that the both of them could go after the intruder; D'Argo would be there first. She grew angry with herself for not being able to time it better but she knew that he was closer to the tier than she was.

Rygel let out a big yawn the aftereffect of his all too often food binges. He had to make sure that at least his stomachs were full if everyone was going to begin food rationing. The ship vibrated and he looked around his quarters and saw that everything was in disarray. “Chiana,” he muttered to himself turning to her as his first suspect not realizing what was going on. He reached for his COM that he placed on the stand next to the bed and saw that it had fallen to the ground. Once again Moya veered sharply trying to ease the pain causing him to be knocked out of bed saving him the struggle of getting out of it. He landed on the ground with a thud. “FRELL!” he shouted out loud and reached for the COM. “PILOT!” No response. “CHIANA?” Silence. “D'ARGO!” There was nothing but sounds and vibrations of the ship and the noise of more items of his falling to the ground. “
AERYN?” he said softly beginning to sense that something was wrong. “Crichton?”

“The COMS are not working below the tier 8!” Pilot shouted out as his furiously touched every control there was that was on the console in a useless attempt to control Moya's movements. “DRDS ARE ATTEMPTING TO CORRECT THE PROBLEM!”

“AERYN! Pilots losing it!” John shouted out but all Aeryn heard was her name as the current range of the COM was reached.

The deafening sounds of the torch sealing the hull were ending. The torch's cartridge was nearly depleted and Traynor head the sound and the smell of metal fusing together as the hull was sealed. The torch stopped and what sounded like grains of sand began to spray the hull slowly at first, then quickened nearly encompassing the sounds that Moya was emanating then it stopped. Traynor could only hear Moya's moans and he focused on the torch ignoring her pleas. The torch slid and retracted into place and the Raptor began to ignite its engines. Its claws that had dug in deep into the outer hull of Moya began to disengage; the wounds to her outer hull were superficial and would heal with time. The Raptor took with ferocity as it expended it's remaining fuel then it's engines abruptly shut off after all of the fuel was spent. She floated quietly in space, so small compared to what was around her that she appeared to be lost. SAT quickly honed in on her and quickly veered off her flight plan to pick the Raptor up.

John quickly turned his head and looked at the view screen and saw that the transport ship and stopped it's routine and quickly turned around and increased speed and head straight towards Moya. He grew nervous.

“Umm, Pilot? Now would be a good time to move…. anywhere, anyway, that spearmint thing is heading straight for us!”

“I CAN”T! MOYA DOES NOT RESPOND! I…I…DON'T KNOW WHATS HAPPENING TO HER…”

SAT headed straight towards Moya and all John could do was lunge to the ground.

“EVERYBODY DUCK! WHOA!”

The ship quickly avoided her and shot off in a different direction and went for the Raptor.

Silence was heard throughout the ship. Only the humming that could be heard from Moya interrupted the calm. She was floating freely now, heading away from the Raptor and SAT. Traynor could sense that the chlorium was beginning to take affect. He could hear Moya struggle to stay awake but he already knew that she was going numb. He cautiously made his way down the corridor moving very slowly not wanting to be caught by surprise.

Rygel mounted his throne sled and breathed heavily as he sat there hovering briefly trying to ascertain what was happening. “It's stopped,” he said as he exited his quarters.

Traynor reached the Dominar's quarters and the doors opened up. He quickly turned around and so the Hynerian on the sled with a look a surprise and worry.

“WHAT THE YOYZ?” Rygel managed to blurt out as Traynor hit him with his right elbow on his nose knocking him off the sled. He fell to the ground unconscious from the blow. Trynor took out a pair of magcuffs and tightly put them on Rygel's wrist nearly cutting off his circulation. He looked at the sled and decided to blast it on the off chance that Rygel may wake up or there was another Hynerian about. He would rather not take that chance. He took out both of his pulse pistols and shot the sled damaging it.

“SHOTS FIRED! SHOTS FRIED!” Pilot screamed. That was the last sensor reading that he was able to interpret before he realized that Moya had fallen into a deep sleep.

“WHERE?” John shouted out as he got up from the ground.

“Near Rygel's quarters,” Pilot responded.

John instinctively wanted to head down and help the others it was his nature. But he knew that he had to stay in Command and to protect it should the others fail. He took a deep breath and asked, “Are the COMS back online?”

“Shortly. All available DRDS are working on it.”

“Pilot, what's wrong with Moya? All I hear is humming”

“It appears that she is in a deep sleep. What or whoever cut her hull as apparently dispersed chlorium, one the seven forbidden cargos. It has numbed her pain and caused her to fall to sleep. All sensors are offline and maneuverability is impossible.”

D'Argo was the first to reach the corridor and came around the corner and saw Traynor push Rygel's limp body back into his quarters with his sled. D'Argo still running, quickly fired two shots from his qualta blade that hit the right side of the wall that Traynor was in front of him nearly hitting his upper shoulder and he quickly lunged to the other wall that was in front of him kneeled and pressed his back up against it. He peered over his right shoulder and saw that the Luxan was still heading for him. He had to time it right it what he had planned was going to work. “GIVE UP NOW AND YOU WON'T BE HURT! THERE IS NO WAY OUT!” D'Argo shouted out to him as he readied himself to fire another round from his blade.

Traynor stood up still pressing his back against the wall and soon realized what was happening. He looked at the other end of the corridor opposite of where D'Argo was coming from and knew that they were going to try to pin him down. He reached into his pocket and took out three small circular metallic balls that were attached to each other with some type of metallic wire that was almost transparent. D'Argo fired the round out of his blade that hit the wall. Grasping the opportunity, Traynor leaped out onto the corridor and flung the metallic balls at the Luxan as he ducked to avoid being hit by another blast that D'Argo managed to fire off.

D'Argo saw that something was thrown at him but he could not make out what it was. It was too small and he fired blindly at it hoping to strike it down before it reached him. But it was no use. In an instant, the object opened up and transformed into three metallic projectiles that branched off into three different directions, one heading for his left, the other towards his right and the last towards his feet. He then saw that a net was being deployed and he tried to shoot at it then decided to covert the rifle back in to the blade but the indecision cost him the precious microts that he needed to avoid the vibra net from pinning him to the wall. He grabbed the blade and took a wild swing at the net but it ensnared him, throwing him into the air and throwing and pinning him up against a wall near a bulkhead as the projectiles were magnetized and always sought the strongest metallic structure to latch onto. D'Argo's arms were pinned, both arms crossed with his qualta blade still in hand but lowered towards the ground as the net closely pressed up against his body, he struggled to break free, but it was no use. He let out a growl as one of his tentacles touched the net and began to bleed. D'Argo stopped struggling and saw drops of blood land onto his clothes. He couldn't see how deep the wound was, he remained still not wanting to cause any other part of his body to become injured by touching the net.

Traynor ran over to where the Luxan was pinned and looked him over. He let out a small smile as he looked at D'Argo and this caused the Luxan to let out a small growl that he quickly silenced when he heard and felt the net begin to vibrate.

“I wouldn't move if I were you Luxan,” Traynor began to explain, “The net feels vibrations inside and out. Anyone other than me who tries to cut you out of this will only cause you harm. The net has millions of microscopic tic blades that can slice through skin when it feels vibrations. It can slice a man to pieces in less than five hundred microts.”

D'argo continued to look at him with disgust as Traynor looked over the wound, which was bleeding very slowly and was of no immediate threat to D'Argo's life. But D'Argo did not know this.

“Doesn't look too bad…for now Luxan. You should still be alive it this doesn't take too long,” Traynor said looking at him once again smiling.

Aeryn entered at the other end of the corridor and saw that something was wrong with D'Argo. She looked at him for a microt. D'Argo saw her and moved his eyes towards her and Traynor knew that someone was behind him. He quickly dove to his right and across the corridor to the opposite side of where D'Argo was pinned. Because she was concerned with Dargo, when she finally looked at the back of Traynor and fired two rounds out of her rifle, Traynor was already on the other side of the corridor. Her blasts ended up hitting the wall that D'Argo was pinned causing the humming to grow louder. He wanted to shout out to her but was afraid that it would cause the net to begin cutting into him. She cursed herself for being distracted with emotions; she was trained not to feel for any comrades who may fall during battle and to focus on the mission at hand. But this was different, he was her friend, whether he knew this or not he was. But her emotions may have caused both of them their lives.

Traynor was surprised at the accuracy of her shots and knew that he was dealing with a peacekeeper. He drew both pistols and fired several shots with the pistol that was in his left hand without even looking at where Aeryn was, just shooting to try to gain a microt and an advantage as to what he wanted to do next.

Aeryn was taken aback when she saw him fire the shots towards her without even looking. She rapidly moved to her left and took cover against a wall. She thought that she was dealing with a peacekeeper, what he had just done was standard procedure of infantry when they are taken by surprise, shoot at the direction where you are being fired upon, escape and gain tactical advantage, but she wasn't sure. Then a voice crackled over the COM, “AERYN? CAN YOU READ ME?”

“CRICHTON, I'm a little busy right NOW!” she said sarcastically as she moved from the wall and fired again.

“SHOTS FIRED AERYN. Near Rygel's quarters,” John informed her.

“Thanks for the information,” she said as she once again taking cover as Traynor fired more blind shots in her direction.

“D'ARGO? D'ARGO YOU THERE BIG GUY?” John shouted over the COM with concern.

The net began to vibrate with the sound of John's voice coming over the COM and D'argo began to whisper back,
“Crichton, shut the frell up…please!”

“WHAT? I can't hear you. Speak up big guy,” John said as he paced back and forth in command.

All D'argo could do was roll his eyes and hoped that he would just shut up.

“Sparky? Zhann? Pip?” John continued.

“John, what is going on?” Zhann asked as she regained her strength.

“Zhann, someone is on board, cut through Moya's hull. Aeryn and D'Argo are in a fire fight near Rygel's quarters and I'm stuck in command,” John informed her.

“Crichton, what are you talking about?”

“Rygel and D'Argo are not answering their COMS and neither is Chiana,” John said in frustration.

“I'm on my way to them,” Zhann said, “They may be injured.” She went back into her lab and reached for a pulse rifle, one that she kept but chose to seldom use and a small bag containing some herbs and potions that would heal the wounded and quickly left the lab and headed to them.

Aeryn begins to think as to what to do next. She looks around the corner of the wall and sees that there is a vent that is near to Traynor's position. Pulse blasts erupt round her and she takes cover. The blasts were too close for her taste, knowing that her opponent now knows where she is and she is at risk of being pinned downed. She decides to shot the vent out in the hopes that steam would rain down onto his position. Aeryn emerges and stands in the middle of the corridor and begins to shoot at the vent. At the exact same moment, Traynor comes out from a roll and is on his knees and fires both pistols at her, his blasts whizzing by her head and arms, as she continued to shoot at the vent. The vent is hit and steam pours down on him, encompassing him and nearly hitting D'Argo but it doesn't. As Traynor begins to disappear behind the steam, he continues to fire at Aeryn until he can no longer see her. Aeryn falls to the ground to avoid his blasts and continues to fire on him until he stops hoping that she had hit him.

She stops firing and gets up from the ground her rifle still aimed at the last spot that she saw him standing. She waited for more pulse blasts to come from his direction but all she saw was the steam and D'Argo. As she walked cautiously towards D'Argo, she waited for the uninvited guest to fire upon her. She finally reaches D'Argo and sees that he is pinned and she immediately knows the weapon. She places a finger to her lips to show D'Argo she know what type of weapon it is and D'Argo looks at her and blinks his eyes. She continues to search through the steam looking for him but sees nothing. He's gone.

Aeryn walks through the steam cloud to the outer side and looks at the end of the corridor to see if there is a trail of blood marking his escape but no such luck. She walks back into the cloud of steam back to Traynor's last position and to where D'Argo was pinned. Once again she methodically looks for him, scanning the area with her pulse rifle making sure that she did not miss anything. She looks over to D'Argo and he once again blinks his eyes. She looks at him confused and moves closer to him but not too close as to set off any vibrations that will cause the net to spring to life. He blinks once more and they stare at each other for what seems like an eternity. D'Argo than gives her a piercing look forcing her to look at him. He then moves his eyes upwards and she looks up and sees Traynor on top of her, on top of them. He had managed to climb up on a broken pipe that she shot in her attempt to hit the vent. She was caught by surprise and could not get off a shot as he leap from the ceiling and landed on her causing her to drop her rifle and the both of them fell to the ground.

Steam surrounded the both of them as they landed and they both became lost. She could hear the rifle hit the floor but she didn't know where it was as it too was lost in the steam. They quickly got up and found each other with Aeryn taking a fighting stance as she quickly kicked him in his chest forcing him to go backwards as he felt the impact of her kick. She was quick and Traynor knew that he wouldn't be able to draw any of his pistols that were holstered to get off a shot not taking the chance of knowing who is faster. He had to fight her hand to hand.

He recovered from the blow and took a defensive stance and she immediately recognized it, she was definitely facing a peacekeeper. She feigned a kick with her left leg then used her right arm to throw a punch, which Traynor blocked with his left hand as he kicked her in her in her belly on the left side with his right leg. She fell back and felt the breath knocked out of her and she hunched over a bit to try to ease the pain and recover. Traynor moved in and tried to hit her in the face with a left handed punch but she grabbed his hand and twisted his wrist causing him to lurch forward closer to her allowing her to punch him in his throat, then using her legs, kicking the ground out from underneath him. He landed hard on his back but quickly extended his right arm outward and reached for her legs, grabbed one of them and pulled on it hard forcing her to the ground. When she hit the floor, he kicked her on her stomach and Aeryn felt the burning sensation that came with the blow. The both of them recovered and rose to their feet at the same time.

Aeryn took a defensive posture and blocked a punch that wasn't strong at all. She then proceeded to attempt to hit Traynor with a roundhouse kick and was surprised at the last punch he threw at her. Traynor was testing her, looking for any weaknesses that would give him an advantage over her. He blocked her kick and saw that she favored guarding her left side more than she did her right. He feigned a kick to her legs that she went down to block leaving her briefly exposed, he then punched her on her left side of her face then quickly following up with a hard shot to her right that stunned her momentarily and gave Traynor just enough time to hit her with a Panthak jab that knocked her off her feet and to the brink of unconsciousness. She landed near the lost pulse rifle and slowly crawled on her belly towards it but she blacked out as she felt him grab her head and slam it into the ground. D'Argo saw what transpired and clenched his teeth in an effort to remain calm. All he could do was to watch helpless as he saw his shipmate black out.

Traynor wiped the sweat from his brow and quickly took out another pair of magcuffs and placed it on the wrists of the fallen peacekeeper that he thought was a worthy opponent, one who if things were different, would have made a powerful ally. He picked her up, looked at D'Argo, and carried her to where he put the Hynerian. He opened the doors to his quarters and placed her next to him. He turned his headed sharply as he heard a voice coming from the far end of the corridor and shut the doors and waited.

“D'ARDO! ARE YOU HURT? Where are Aeryna and the others?” Zhann asked as she approached.

D'Argo once again started to blink his eyes rapidly to see if she would be able to pick up on what he was trying to tell her in an effort to try to help her avoid the trap.

Traynor took out two strobe grenades and armed them with a three-microt delay. He opened the doors and threw then out, rolling them to his left, the direction that Zhann was coming from, and shut the doors and shut his eyes tightly. D'Argo saw what was heading towards her but could do nothing except close his eyes knowing that it was some type of explosive weapon and started chanting in his mind the Luxan Death Rite fearing the worst for Zhann.

The grenades went off but instead of large explosion, intense, warm white light laced with iconic radiation, surrounds the entire tier, soaking every vent, crack, and opening. Even with his eyes closed, Traynor could still see and feel the light that was coming from outside the Dominar's quarters. The light engulfed Zhann and she quickly disappears all that can be heard is her rifle hitting the ground and bouncing off the ground several times.

The light remained in the corridor for 80 microts before it dissipated. When it was gone, Traynor opened his eyes, got up, and left Rygel's quarters to look around. And what he saw was something that he never expected.

He saw the Delvian priestess lying on the ground shivering, smiling, and moaning in pleasure. She was experiencing a photo-gasm, something that Traynor had heard of but never seen. He looks at Zhann and cracks a smile. “I definitely have to ask Attan about this when I get back,” he chuckles to himself as he picks up her rifle as well as the one that Aeryn dropped, picks her up and places her writhing body next to the others in Rygel's quarters. He locks the cell doors behind him and turns and looks at D'Argo and tells him, “Don't go anywhere now,” and begins to make his way towards command. Chiana looks out of a vent on the floor across from where D'Argo is pinned from and wonders what to do next.

“I can't reach anyone on there COMS,” John said out loud. “I don't know why staying in command would do any good since Moya's sleeping.”

Pilot replied, “Agreed. We must now secure the lower tiers and provided any assistance the others may need. The DRDS have managed to regain control of life support, however the cargo bay doors and docking web remain inoperable. They are not able to bypass Moya's systems without compromising life support. Sensors are down and we are drifting. I cannot transmit our coordinates to Talyn or send out a distress signal.”

“So if there are anymore Spearmints on board that ship out there, they can take us,” John said as he took out his pulse pistol. “Pilot, let me know as soon as you get an estimate of when Moya will wake up and if the DRDS manage to get the sensors on line again. I'm heading down to see what's going on. Close the door to command and place some DRDS to guard the door,” he instructed as he walked to the door.

A low hissing sound was coming from the other side of the door and John stopped just short of it and looked at the door trying to figure out what it was. “What the…”

The shock of the explosion sent John flying back and he slid across the floor until his body was stopped by one of the consoles that were in command. The door opened up and a he emerged from the smoke with both pistols drawn and ran into command and quickly scanned the room to see if anyone was in there. Traynor looked at the floor and saw what he thought was another peacekeeper and ran over to the body that was lying on the ground and placed one pistol on the head of the groggy man. “DON'T MOVE!”

Crichton looked up at him and blinked his eyes several times to focus on the man that held the pistol to his head, “WAIT! OK I GIVE UP! I'll do what ever you want just leave the others alone. What ever you want me to do man!” he shouted out to Traynor.

“What the frell makes you think that I'm here for you?” Traynor replied.



Chapter 5


Chianna managed to evade capture by hiding in the vents. She was just above D'Argo when Aeryn shot it out. She kind of sensed that something was heading her way. After she saw Aeryn go down, she hastily made her way to Pilot's chambers to think about what to do next and mainly to see a familiar face that would calm her down.

“Pilot, any idea of what to do now?”

“Our main concern now is to see if we can free the others. There is nothing more that the DRDS or I can do for Moya. Until she awakens, all sensors and propulsion remain off line. I take it they are being held on the tier where The Dominar's quarters are?”

“In his quarters is more like it,” Chiana said as she took a seat and hopped onto the console.

“How many were there?” Pilot asked.

“I only saw one. He looked like a peacekeeper from the way he handled Aeryn.”

“I suggest that you attempt to free them if there is only one intruder.”

“You didn't see how he fought Pilot. It was like he didn't care what happened to him, whether he lived or died it didn't matter. His mind seemed focused on only one thing. He was cold, distant. And he was better than Aeryn not because he was a male but because he knew more, he had more experience than she did. And THAT Pilot scares the frell out me.”

Pilot looked at her and sympathized with her. He too was scared. Scared for Moya, for the others and for him. “Chiana, if you wish, I can ready a transport pod for you and you can escape. No one will think anything less of you if you did this. My first responsibility is to Moya and then the others. I cannot help her now but I can help you. I am sure the others will understand and so will Moya.”

She looked at him and at first she wanted to tell him yes to get the pod ready. She had been running all her life and this situation was no different from the others. She glazed into Pilot's eyes and saw how genuinely concerned he was for her safety. Here on Moya, she was another lost soul taken on board and cared for. It took her by surprise how everyone treated her, rough at first and she even rebelled against them not wanting to trust them wholly fearing that they had an ulterior motive but this wasn't the case. Even though they fought and squabbled and always blamed each other for the predicaments that they always got into (they mostly blamed poor Crichton), deep down they all cared for one another and for this great ship and it's pilot even though no one would openly admit it. Chiana decided it was time to show how she really felt about them, not to prove it to them but to prove it to her.

“What do you think I should do?”

“If you hid inside the atmospheric vents to avoid capture, then I suggest using them again and attempt to free them.”

“But I don't know the layout as well as Rygel does,” Chiana replied.

“I will be able to provide them to you but you will need to think about what to do once you reach Rygel's quarters.”

“Ok lets get started,” she answered.



Traynor followed the luxan down the corridor watching his every move. The net was loosened up just enough for him to walk but luxans where highly unpredictable. When they reached the Dominar's quarters, Traynor opened the cell doors and led the luxan in. He looked around the room and saw that everything was as he left it. The female peacekeeper was tied up back to back with the other peacekeeper, the delvian was sleeping, and the hynerian was coming to. He shoved the luxan and sat him down across from the hynerian and began to retract the net as the male peacekeeper looked on.

“What do you want?” John asked?

Traynor took out a pair of mag cuffs and slipped them on the luxan's hands and looked at John then looked around the room. He then proceeded to retract the net fully and D'argo gave him a dirty look.

Aeryn turned her head slightly as Traynor stood up and placed the net inside a pocket that was on his belt.

“Well? If it's not me then which one of us is it? Is it Chi..”?

“It's the ship. Isn't in?” Aeryn interrupted Crichton and quickly snapped her head back and hit John's head to stop him from blurting out Chiana.

“Ouch! HEY!” John said out loud.

Traynor looked at the both of them while D'argo let out a snarl.

“The bounty of each of you does not concern me. In a couple of arns all of you will be on a transport pod heading to a commerce planet. Don't FORCE me to collect on them,” Traynor said as he exited the cell. He turned around looked at them and gave them a smile and locked the cell door.

“What was that for?” John asked Aeryn

“What?”

“That WWF head butt.”

“I had to stop you from giving up our only chance of escape,” she replied.

“Yeah but you could have pinched me, or something not give me a concussion,” John said.

“Do you believe him?” D'argo asked

“Yes. It's the ship. It's Moya. Bounty hunters don't like sticking around and most prefer their bounties dead,” Aeryn replied.

“I will NOT allow him to take this ship. Moya has done nothing but to protect us and put up with us. Not to mention everything that Pilot has done for us. We OWE it to them.” D'argo said forcefully.

“Agreed,” Aeryn said, “We cannot allow him to take Moya.”

“Great, but we're not going to be able to do anything hogged tied,” John blurted out and he started to struggle trying to free himself.

“Will you stop!”? Aeryn said as she started to move with him as Crichton realized that the he was also struggling with her, “Let's hope that Chiana comes up with a plan… and fast.”



Pilot looked out of the corner of his eye and saw a figure was approaching his chamber; he then quickly looked down as he continued to monitor Moya's systems. As the figure drew nearer he grew anxious fearing the worst but prepared to do all that he could to save the others and Moya.

“Is there anything that you need?”

Pilot looked up surprised at his question. “No,” as he pressed some levers.

“The leviathan…is she hurt?”

“No. Moya is sleeping and it appears that all of her systems are fine although in sleep mode,” Pilot answered as he looked up and faced Traynor. “I thank you for the chlorium. It has eased her pain and has sped up the healing process.”

“I'm sorry. There was no other way without hurting the others,” Traynor replied.

“So you do not intend to hurt the others?”

“I have no intention of doing so unless they provoke me.”

“What will you do with them?” Pilot asked with great concern.

“If all goes according to plan, they will go free,” Traynor said.

“If you are not here for them…then you are here for us?”

“Yes; I'm afraid so. I have no intention of harming ANY of you. This will all be over shortly.”

Pilot lowered his head and eyes with sadness and helplessness as he knew that there was nothing that he could do. He took a deep breathe and looked up, “Then Moya and I will help you we will not resist as long as no harm comes to the others,” and then lowered his head again.

Traynor was taken aback as to the concern that this Pilot had for her crew and he had no doubt that the leviathan had the same if not more for her Pilot as well. “Good. Will this com badge allow me to communicate with you should I need to?”

“Yes.”

Traynor nodded his head and turned around and headed out of the chamber back to where the others were being held. Pilot looked up without disdain placing a small amount of trust into this stranger. He was obviously an ex-peacekeeper but was somehow different, genuine, and honest. He began to push some levers and patiently waited for Moya to awaken from her sleep to tell her all that has happened.

Traynor made his way back to the cell and as he approached it he could hear voices talking and knew that everyone was awake. The cell door opened up and the talking stopped for a microt. He looked over everyone once to make sure that they were still bound. Finally Zhann broke the silence, “I don't know whether to thank you or to kill you.”

“Feel like raiding the fridge for some munchies Zhann?” John said out loud chuckling as the others looked at each other then at him not knowing what he was talking about.

“I am glad to see that everyone is awake,” Traynor said.

“If you have harmed Pilot or Moya I swear that…”

“They are both doing fine,” Traynor interrupted Zhann.

Chiana opened the atmospheric vent and gently moved it aside as to not make any noise. She saw Traynor standing in front of the cell with the door opened and knew that now would be her only chance to gain advantage over him. She drew her pulse pistol and began to sneak up behind him.

D'argo saw her and began to speak to try to buy her some time. “We have your word that no harm will come to Pilot and Moya?”

“Yes. And all of you will be free to go about your business once this is over.”

“And what do you get out of this?” D'argo asked.

“Nothing much…”

“…except a pulse blast in the back of your head,” Chiana said as she pushed the pistol into Trayanor's back.

“Pip, I LOVE YOU!” John said out loud.

“What kept you?” Aeryn demanded to know.

“Get these frelling cuffs off me!” Rygel yelled out.

“Glad to see that you all missed me!” Chiana said with a smile and a slight giggle.

“I missed YOU,” D'argo said looking at her.

Traynor slipped his hand into his right pocket, and then raised both of his hands in the air.

“Don't try anything stupid or you'll be splattered all over this cell. NOW MOVE!” and she shoved him into the cell.

He stumbled forward then turned around and lowered his hands and showed her his right hand.

“What the frell is that?” she asked.

“This? This is a pressure pad detonator. If my fingers leave it, the demo packs that I placed on this ship will detonate and you, I, they, and this leviathan and its Pilot will be blown apart. I have nothing to loose. You on the other hand, have a very important decision to make in the next couple of micros because if you don't toss the pistol towards me or shoot me I will make the decision for you,” Traynor said to her.

“You're lying,” Chiana replied.

“Am I? Ask your Pilot. I was down in his chambers.”

Chianna spoke into her com, “Pilot? Had this piece of dren been in your chambers?”

“Yes he has,” Pilot's voice said as it crackled over the com.

"You see. I told you. Whets it going to be?” Traynor said looking at her.

“Don't believe him Pip, he has a poker face on,” John said

“Shoot him!” Aeryn shouted

“Shoot!” Zhann found herself saying.

“YES YES shoot shoot!” Rygel said frantically.

“AIM FOR HIS HEAD!” D'argo yelled out.

“FRELL!!” Chiana said as she took aim at Traynor.

Traynor looked at her with a frozen look, not moving and looking directly into her eyes. She gripped the pistol tightly and began taking shallow quick breathes as she steadied herself to take the shot.

She looked at Traynor then lowered the pistol.

“AW man!!” John yelled out loud.

“Now, place the pistol on the ground and kick it to me.”

She did as Traynor instructed. He lowered himself to the ground to pick up the pistol maintaining eye contact with her. He picked up the pistols and stood up and motioning with the pistol to Chianna, “Get over there with the others.”

He opened his hand and placed the detonator around his neck

“What the….” D'argo said.

Aeryn just moved her head and close her eyes with disgust as she knew what he placed around his neck.

Everyone was staring at Traynor.

He looked at all of them knowing that they wanted an answer.

“IDENT chip,” he said with a smirk as he moved over towards Chianna to tie her up. Everyone moaned out loud in disappointment and rolled their eyes.

Traynor reached backed into his pocket and took out the transmitter that his retainer had given him. He pressed the button and turned it on and it began transmitting Moya's coordinates. Soon he would finally meet the retainer that was so eager for this leviathan.



END PART ONE