Title: A Distant Sun
Author: Karolyn Gray
ScifiBB/Chat Handle: Gray3
Rating: PG
Synopsis: Aeryn shortly before the crew of Moya captures her.
Spoilers: Premiere, I, ET
Archiving: Yes
Disclaimers: All Farscape names, characters and other related indicia are the property of Jim Henson Productions, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Networks, the Scifi Channel and all associated parties. No copyright infringement is intended.

A Distant Sun
by Karolyn Gray


She watched the small gathering, taking this rare moment to consider her fellow comrades unobserved and unnoticed as they mingled and talked amongst themselves.

She was not all that surprised to hear her name come up more than one conversation.

After all, it was all but done that she would be leaving soon to fulfill her stated goal: to become a full-fledged member of a Commando team. All that awaited was Captain Crais' final authorization, of which she had no doubts she would receive.

Her future commander, Lieutenant Ustan, had even sent her a copy of his team's operational schedule for the coming weekens. It was a violation of protocol to be sure, but one she had anticipated.

If not for the simple fact that she would be serving under Ustan she would have reported his violation to her superiors. But service amongst the Commandos was different. Their unwavering devotion to duty and each other also gave them greater flexibility in regards to protocol and regulations in the eyes of the Council.

She was certain that with them she would finally find what she was looking for.

"Officer Sun." The officer before her blinked in surprise, before a small smile came to his face and he offered her the glass he held. She could tell the dark haired Officer was none to pleased with her being able to catch him off guard.

"Officer Karanga." Aeryn Sun replied with a nod in greeting as she accepted the drink passed to her.

"I was beginning to wonder if you would come. We have much to celebrate." Karanga said with a broad grin and a twinkle to his brown eyes.

"Perhaps. Captain Crais has not approved my transfer yet." Aeryn reminded her fellow comrade.

"As if there is any doubt." Karanga mocked in his jovial way.

Aeryn simply shook her head in amusement. Karanga was odd for a Peace Keeper with his easy manner and laughing eyes, but there was no one Aeryn preferred more at her side in a firefight or alongside her wing.

Aeryn knew better than to think his openness was a weakness. Let others think he was weak. It was all an act. She had seen few fight more viciously than her squad mate.

"Well, I'll just wait until I the transfer is approved before I celebrate." Aeryn replied.

Karanga chuckled and leaned in conspiratorially. "Just so you know, Officer Ngoh has a pool running on how long it'll take you to replace Lieutenant Ustan. Me? I bet you'll take over in half a cycle."

"That's a nurfer's bet, Karanga. I say Officer Sun will command the Marauder in a cycle's time. Mark my words." Officer Sankanvar put in, gulping down the rest of his drink as he and a handful of other Pleisars joined Sun and Karanga.

Aeryn simply rolled her eyes, blushing slightly in embarrassment at her fellow officer's words. Not that they weren't true. Lieutenant Ustan's Commando team had one of the highest fatality rates. It also had the highest success rate of all of Pleisar Regiment. And success meant honor, prestige, power, and yes-even promotion.

She could care less about promotions or power. But prestige and honor was an entirely different matter. To be known as the best was what she craved. Anything else was just a beneficial coincidence.

She had no desire to lead, only to serve with honor: For her people, for the Corps, for her family's bloodline.

"Attention on deck!"

Instantly the handful of Icarian Company's finest pilots snapped to attention.

"As you were, Officers." Tauvo Crais strode into the room, earning a few well-concealed dark glances from some of the Officers he passed. Surprisingly, Crais was dressed in his duty uniform instead of the officers dress uniform favored by many aboard the Command Carrier.

Those who served with Crais, such as Aeryn, knew he preferred the simple field uniform over those worn by command grade officers. The young Lieutenant had to tread the line carefully between commanding officer and soldier, especially given Crais' powerful relations.

Aeryn kept her face impassive at these unseemly displays towards a superior officer. Despite what some thought about the Captain's younger brother, Aeryn had served for two cycles in Lieutenant Crais' command. Though not the most skilled pilot she had ever served with he more than made up for it in cunning and leadership. And that was what had earned her respect.

"May I get you a drink, Lieutenant?" She asked politely as he approached her.

Tauvo Crais smiled slightly, somehow making his youthful appearance seem even more young. "Perhaps it is you I should get a drink for, Officer Sun. It appears I will need to find another Prowler pilot to fill your slot."

"If the Captain sees fit to transfer me, then I apologize for the inconvenience I shall cause you, sir." Aeryn replied.

Tauvo Crais actually laughed at that. "Such professionalism is to be commended, Officer Sun. Especially when spoken with such sharp wit. You will be well suited to Commando duties."

"Thank you, sir." Aeryn replied, finding it ironic that now that she was all but transferred from his command that he showed any interest in her as a fellow pilot and Officer. It was just as well. She didn't particularly like him. Respect? Yes. Like? No. Then again, there were very few Aeryn Sun considered a comrade.

Tauvo looked conspiratorially between Sun and Karanga. "I wager you'll command that fool Ustan's unit with in six weekens if he doesn't finally get himself killed. At least then Command won't have to worry about replacements."

"You should not speak of a fellow Officer in that manner, sir." Aeryn put in, serious as always. As she expected Karanga's eyes widened in shock at her words.

She would have found his reaction understandable had he not acted the same way every time she spoke in such a fashion to her superiors. She was not one to allow improper behavior to pass unnoticed.

Despite Karanga's constant warnings that her strict adherence to duty and protocol would get her into trouble one day she simply felt it was wrong to allows inproprieties to pass. Such was the case with Lieutenant Crais' comment. No one had dared speak to Lieutenant that way. No one except Sun.

Crais smiled slightly, looking her over with consideration. "You are correct, of course." He sighed. "I shall miss your professionalism, Aeryn Sun. It is something too many Officers are lacking."

Aeryn was stunned at this admission, knowing how rare it was for Crais to admit an error. "Sir, I..."

The blare of an attack alert stunned the gathered Officers momentarily before years of ingrained training kicked in and they streamed out of the room towards the hangar bays.

******

Lieutenant Teeg hurried onto the command deck, her eyes instantly locking with Captain Crais. An almost imperceptible nod of her head alerted him to the fact the Lieutenant seemed aggravated.

"Yes, Lieutenant?" He asked.

"Sir, Communications reports we have lost all contact with the Prison Transport Leviathan, Moya. She is not answering our hails but there does not seem to be anything amiss." Teeg reported crisply, though hint of disdain tinged her voice.

"What was the Leviathan's duty assignment?" Crais asked, a frown already creasing his brow at the mention of that particular Leviathan and her Peace Keeper crew.

"The Ustar detachment was transporting prisoners to Teraan Rau before the Leviathan was to be reassigned to New Tech." Teeg replied gesturing to a nearby tactical screen. "I've already ordered a wing of Prowlers to do a fly by, sir."

"Good. If this is nothing more than Captain Masek's flaunting of protocol one again, I shall see to it personally that he is brought up on charges." Crais said, watching the images being sent from the prowler squadron.

"Do you wish a squadron to be placed on alert?" Teeg inquired.

Crais nodded. "Send Lieutenant Crais' squadron. If there is trouble they shall deal with it with their usual efficiency."

"Yes, sir." The blond Peacekeeper turned to carry out the order when Crais' cursed under his breath. Turning back she saw what had caused this reaction.

A clear view of a bloodied male sebacean's body floating in space near the hull of the Leviathan stripped of all clothing and equipment. A spark of anger rose with in her at the sight, though nothing more than an ever so slight narrowing of her eyes betrayed this emotion. Without waiting for confirmation she signaled the alert.

******

Aeryn Sun couldn't help but smile as she felt the rumble of the Prowlers engines to the core of her being as she accelerated to form up on Karanga's wing. Before her, million's of stars shone from the black, but as always she ignored them, concentrating on her screens and double checking her weapons systems.

This was what she craved. A swift fighter, her fellow Officers and the impending battle with the enemy. To prove to herself and her comrades her skill and to push the envelope of what she was capable of. If a few criminals were eliminated along the way, so much the better.

"Praeden Squadron lock onto coordinates Primna twelve, decca seven with all possible speed. Your target is the Leviathan. Authorization is granted to stop the escaping prisoners by any means necessary." Lieutenant Crais' voice sounded over the comm.

"Sir, that's on the other side of an asteroid field. Do we navigate around?"

Aeryn wanted to snort in derision for such a stupid question, but kept to herself remembering Qontas had just graduated the academy and somehow had managed to get assigned to the Pleisars.

"Negative. Time is of the essence. We go through the asteroid field." Crais replied calmly.

Qontas' subdued affirmation brought a small smile to her face. As she looked at her readout she could see why the young Officer was nervous. The asteroid field was quite dense. The slightest deviation could spell death for an inexperienced pilot.

To Aeryn it was nothing more than a minor distraction from her intended objective. She quickly maxed her engines, diving straight into the densest part of the cluster, confident Karanga was right behind her. This was just another competitive flight for them, having challenged each other since their earliest days of flight training.

Banking around the asteroids proved easy enough, despite going nearly twice the speed recommended in the regulations for this sort of activity. A brief flash of white to her starboard wing caught her attention momentarily.

"Unidentified debris in this area." She cautioned the Prowlers following her and Karanga's lead.

A moment later a scream was heard over the comm lines that quickly was replaced by static and then nothing.

"The Lieutenant hit something. He's dead." Ngoh reported as Aeryn and Karanga cleared the asteroid field.

She felt a flash of anger at the announcement. As quickly as her anger had flared, it faded. Though she regretted the Lieutenant's loss, the squadron had a mission to complete. Crais' memorial would have to wait. It was the Peace Keeper way.

"Commence the attack." She snapped over the line, before the second in command could speak. She intended to make sure these prisoners paid for all the trouble they had caused. It would be a suitable tribute to a fallen comrade.

She and Karanga made several sweeps along the massive vessel, skimming close to the mottled hull as they sent burst after burst of fire into the ship without much effect.

Pulling around for another run she noted a strange white craft being pulled towards the Leviathan's docking bay.

"What the frell is that?" She heard Karanga mutter.

"Doesn't matter. Coming around for another run." She replied. But another part of her did want to know more about the strange craft. She had passed a flash of white in the asteroid field. 'Could it..?' She shook her head to clear her thoughts of all distractions.

"Right beside you, Officer Sun." Karanga replied, pulling his fighter inline with the rest of his regrouping squadron.

"Frell! The control collar is coming off! She's getting away." Ngoh cursed.

"Attention all Prowlers: cease pursuit of the Leviathan immediately."

'Frell that.' Aeryn thought to her self, accelerating towards the Leviathan as her squadron mates turned their Prowlers around in obeyance. She wasn't just about to let these prisoners go without challenge.

A moment later her determination melted as she saw the bright light of the Leviathan's starburst approaching. Desperately trying to bank away, she squinted her eyes closed, as the Prowler was struck by an electromagnetic wave as bright as a sun.

"Aeryn..." She could hear Karanga's distant voice.

Her world faded to black.



*****



Moya, Planet: Denea, The Uncharted Territories


"Yo, Aeryn! Let's go. Hey, c'mon this is your chance to flex those big Peace Keeper Commando muscles out in the field."


Aeryn shot a contemptuous look at the alien. "Peace Keeper Commando. Yeah, really." She muttered to herself. What could this alien possibly know about being a Peace Keeper?

"Is there a problem?"

She frowned in displeasure, wishing she had said nothing. 'Then again, all he seems to do is talk.'

"Oh, I find and explain our top secret tracking device to a bunch of escaped prisoners and the lead a mission to destroy it." She replied, not even bothering to hide the disgust in her voice at her circumstances.

The human looked at her, shaking his head slightly. "Number one, you're not leading the mission. Number two, those Peace Keepers you are so concerned about they'd kill you right now. If the Peace Keepers..."

"Turned on me for speaking up for you." She interrupted, fixing a pointed look on him before turning away at the rush of self-pity. "I don't know what I was thinking."

"Back home we call it being stand up." The matter of fact tone the human used, drew her attention back to him.

"Well, I stood up and I no longer have a home." She stated, bitterly.

"Join the club."

She sat there for a moment, stunned at his words. She could see the compassion and understanding in his eyes and wanted to think he was weak for having such emotions. Instead she felt an odd sense of... belonging.

Belonging. She had been assigned to various teams, units, companies, regiments, and divisions. One was never alone in the Peace Keepers, but that didn't mean you belonged. And she had never felt that she belonged anywhere. Not with her family. She had no friends.

'Not since....' She let the thought die, not wishing to remember.

No. For her, life had been lonely and hard. She relied upon her own skills and cunning, not allowing herself to be dependent upon anyone or anything in her quest to find a place to belong.

It was supremely ironic that the very thing she had searched for her entire life with the Peace Keepers she has possibly found with an alien. The revelation was not one she could easily accept. Had *not* accepted, to be more precise.

Crichton shifted uneasily as the silence between them grew. He had noted the far off look in her eye. Maybe she was considering what he said. Maybe not. But they had more important things to worry about.

"Well, come on. The sooner we get this over with the better." Crichton jerked his head towards the door as he rubbed his still twitching eye.

Aeryn slowly rose to her feet and followed him, studying him with a silent curiosity her musings had reawakened. She didn't want to be curious about him. But she was. Despite her attempt to remain aloof and detached from the rest of Moya's denizens, she would invariably find herself with him: working, eating, talking.

Lots of talking.

But in an odd sense, she found that interesting as well. His world, his perception of the universe, was so radically different from her own. And yet there were times, such as a moment ago in the mess, of perfect understanding. A connection she had never felt, even amongst her closest comrades.

When they turned the final corner, she was not surprised to see Zhaan speaking with D'argo. She didn't allow the small surprise she felt to be seen on her face when she noticed a small pouch next to D'argo that she recognized as belonging to Crichton.

She would never allow another such access to her possessions. Then again, the human didn't have much to begin with in the first place.

"You must hurry. Pilot does not believe Moya can withstand such gravitational pressure for very long." She was saying.

"I am fully aware of that. Where the hezmana are Crichton and Aeryn?" He growled.

"Here." Crichton chirped, quickly retrieving his pouch.

'He seems almost happy.' Aeryn just shook her head slightly, noting the others looking at the human oddly.

"Let's go." D'argo growled, opening the hatch.

=========

Her first view of the planet wasn't breath taking to her. The expanse of water and mud around Moya's hull intermingled the alien flora and fauna were not particularly interesting for her, being ship born and raised. Neither was the rapidly fading sky as sunset approached, to reveal a scattering of stars.

For Aeryn Sun it was just another planet, no more significant than any of the dozens she had been on in her years with the Peace Keepers. All in all though by first appearances it wasn't the worst planet she had ever been on.

"It's kind of like Louisiana. Or Dagoba."

She looked at the human, questioningly. 'He recognizes this?' He caught her look and tilted his head slightly, in a fashion she had come to recognize as him preparing to explain himself.

"Dagoba. Where Yoda lives."

"Who's Yoda?" She asked, clearly puzzled. For a primitive, planet bound species he seemed fairly knowledgeable of this place, or one like it.

"Just a little green guy. Trains warriors."

"Oh." She noted the small smile on his face and wondered at that. Fondness for a past remembrance, perhaps? Had Crichton been trained by this Yoda and found lacking as a warrior?

She looked at him, reconsidering her earlier assumptions about his species as she had a dozen times since meeting him. His quick nod to her just added to the mystery that was John Crichton.

'Well that explains why he seems comfortable around Rygel. And it would explain why he was a tech and yet seem to know some basic military concepts.' She reasoned. It was a common enough practice to send those unqualified for combat duties into support roles amongst the Peace Keepers.

D'argo looked back in irritation at them. "This way." He growled.

Aeryn just sighed and followed, wanting nothing more than to find the chlorium and get off this planet. Living on a ship full of escape prisoners and one bizarre alien was preferable than remaining planet bound for the remainder of her cycles.

She glanced up at the sky full of stars and briefly wondered at which of those distant suns she would find her fate.