Title: The Star Hunters
Author: Karolyn Gray <kmgray3@aol.com>
SciFi BB/Chat Handle: Gray3
Rating: PG
Description: AU Season 1 "Premiere" Part 1 in series.
Spoilers: None
Archive: No
Disclaimers: All Farscape names, characters and other related indicia are the property of Jim Henson Productions, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Networks Australia, the Scifi Channel and all associated parties. No copyright infringement is intended.


The Star Hunters
By Gray

“I will not come with you.”

“You´ve been irreversibly contaminated, reember?”

“It means death.”

“I can´t. My breeding, my training. It´s who I am.”

“You can be more.”

‘More?´ Aeryn wondered. More than what? What did this insane alien think she was? She was a Peace Keeper, born and bred, the Peace Keepers all she knew, all she cared to know. So why now did she feel doubt creeping into her thoughts, a sensation she had never experienced.

“I will not come with you.” She stated flatly, returning her gaze to the far wall of the induction cells.

“They´ll kill you.” The human said, his incredulous tone sparking puzzlement from the Peace Keeper.

‘Why do you care?´ She wondered, keeping her eyes locked forward.

The human called Crichton had been friendly, almost laughably so, since the moment she had awaken in the cell with him. She remembered his eccentricities had in some perverse way kept the escaping prisoners from killing her. They had foolishly believed she and the human would assist them. Instead the human had played himself as a fool and then turned it against them to help her escape. And done so again to protect her from Crais´ wrath by deflecting her honest report with his equally honest statements.

At every turn he had tried to help her for no other discernable reason than that he could. No one had ever done that for her before. This fact only added to her somewhat ambivalent feelings towards the strange human. He had risked his life for her own twice now. She had no desire to repay that debt with his death. All she could do was gicve him a small portion of life. Perhaps it would be enough.

“You must leave now if you desire to live. Follow the northern aquaduct to the starport. It will take longer to reach the starport but your risk of encountering a Peace Keeper patrol is significasntly reduced.” She stated quietly.

“And how are we to leave this miserable world without a ship in which to reach Moya?” D´argo growled.

“My Prowler is at the starport.” She replied, trying to ignore the stare she knew the human was giving her. “If the Peace Keepers have not reclaimed it, you may take it. The access code is Dekka five seven three.”

D´argo nodded in understanding. “Let´s go, human.”

She was surprised when she noted the alien had not moved. She finally shifted her eyes to meet his own troubled blue gaze and felt something change within her, something so significant that it was almost a physical blow.

“Go, human.” She urged gently.

She saw something unnamable emotion pass in his eyes before he lay a hand on her shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. “I´m sorry.” And with that he fled with the Luxan, looking back at her once at the entrance with a sad expression.

Fully a hundred microts passed before the two guards rose and came towards her, the expression in their eyes a mix of understanding and confusion and perhaps even a little compassion. Expressions that mirrored her own feelings.

Surprisingly, neither made any move to alert any Peace Keeper patrols about the escape. Wether out of respect for the alien´s audacity or for her refusal to join them she wasn´t sure. One of them looked at the strange puzzle he had taken from the alien for a long moment before settling the chain around her neck.

*****

Moya. Two days later.

John Crichton sat in the galley staring at the plate of brown cubes, food cubes he reminded himself, but feeling no need to eat. He simply couldn´t bring himself to eat. All he could think about was the woman he had left her behind, probably to die.

‘Another person dead, because of me.´ He thought glumly, remembering her stoic manner as he had for the past two days. Two days of uncertainty, a living nightmare, surrounded by murderous aliens and now hunted by the Peace Keepers.

The others had either avoided him or threatened him at every turn since his arrival. He hadn´t slept the first day at all, certain the tentacled alien would deide to kill him simply because he could. Or that the smaller one who had called himself Rygel would try to steal what meager possessions he had salvaged from Farscape 1. Even he blue lady freaked him out, always looking at him as if he were some sort of bug.

Only his chance encounter with Pilot had reassured him, as much as a the strange alien could considering he was bonded to the ship. If he didn´t know any better he could have sworn that the Pilot was actually relieved by his presence on the Leviathan.

“Is something the matter, John?”

Crichton yelped jumping off his seat and was half way across the room before he realized Zhaan was watching him with a look of concern.

“I´m sorry. I did not mean to startle you but you seem troubled.” The blue alien said with a slight tilt of the head.

“No, I´m fne.” John replied nervously.

Zhaan sat down, glancing at the foodubes with something akin to a look of disdain. When she looked up her face had been schooled to a serene mask. “This must all be terribly shocking for you. Isnt it?”

He chuckled at that. “Uh, yeah. You could say that.”

“You will adjust.” The alien replied simply.

“Or die.” John finished.

“Or die.” Zhaan agreed. “But is that not the cycle of life every where?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” John agreed reluctantly.

“So what troubles you so that you find you cannot eat?” Zhaan asked. After a moment of silence a knowing smile creeped onto her face, a look that sent a wave of revulsion through Crichton at the malice that tinged the gesture. “Are you still thinking of that Peace Keeper female?”

“Sort of.” John reluctantly admitted.

Zhaan nodded her head. “She was rather attractive I suppose, but you must remember she chose to stay. It is probably for the best. She is, after all, a Peace Keeper. She will be better of with her own kind.”

“Even if it means she´s killed?” John asked.

Zhaan shrugged easily. “Then there will be one less Peace Keeper hunting us. Nothing more.”

John shook his head in disbelief. “I can´t believe you're that cold.”

“I´m being practical, John Crichton.” Zhaan stated. “If she were alive and serving the Peace Keepers all of us may very well be dead at this moment. Be grateful that their own paranoia has removed her from our lives.” With that Zhaan left the room.

‘Maybe I´m wishing she wasn´t.´ He thought silently to himelf. ‘What have I done? What the hell have I done?´

*****

Command Carrier.

Aeryn Sun snapped to attention as she heard the cell´s lock cycling to open. She tugged her jacket smooth and locked her eyes forward, carefully schooling her features to cover the thread of fear she felt at her impending death.

She would not allow others to see her fear. She was a Peace Keeper. If she could not die in battle then her death could serve as a cautionary tale to future Officers. Nothing was wasted by the Peace Keepers. Not even an ignomious death such as the one she would soon be receiving.

She was mildly surprised to see Captain Bialar Crais enter the cell and dismiss his accompanying guards with a imperious wave. It was highly irregular for a convening officer of a tribunal to confer with the accused, but not unheard of.

Remaining perfectly at attention, she listened to him circle her knowing his eyes were taking in her rigid stance. When he had returned to her field of vision she could see a small enigmatic smile playing on his lips.

“Officer Sun, why are you out of uniform?” Crais asked, gesture towards her uniform´s lack of regimental insignia.

“I will not dishonor my regiment further by wearing its insignia, sir.” She replied crisply, knowing she was well within her rights according to tribunal tradition as sanctioned under the Tribunal Code. By refusing to wear her regiment's crests or any other affiliation no others could be shamed by the outcome of the trial, which in her case was a death sentence.

She had explained her actions honestly and succinctly to the gathered tribunal officers, catching an occasional glance of sympathy from more than one. Most surprising to her had been the unanticipated support of the two Officers the human and Luxan had escaped from. They had left out the fact that she had told the escaping pair how to avoid the Peace Keepers. Why they had done this she would never know, having been executed for their own deriliction of duty and negligence mere arns after the verdict for her tribunal had come down.

But it was Crais´ testimony that held sway. He was a decorated Captain of a Command Carrier, she a mere Officer whose own words had condemned her. She had accepted her fate now as she looked at Crais. She would die knowing what she had done was the correct thing and that was enough. Let Crais and the others think what they will.

“Very commendable.” Crais said with some admiration. “Would you be surprised to know that I respect you, Officer Sun. Your career has been quite impressive. I´m surprised you are still only an Officer.”

“My only wish is to serve, sir.” Aeryn stated flatly.

“Of course.” Crais agreed as if expecting her answer. “Would you still serve if you could? Even if such service could directly lead to your death?”

“Yes, sir.” Aeryn replied instantly, wondering at the Captain´s line of thought.

Crais seemed annoyed at her cold tone and looked her over once more. “At ease, Officer.”

She quickly complied taking up a more relaxed stance and yet somehow giving the impression of remaining at attention. Crais shook his head in bemusement and continued on.

“What would you say if I told you that you could still serve the Peace Keepers without record of this incident or mention of these proceedings? That it would be as if none of this ever occurred?” Crais asked, slowly.

Aeryn narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Hypothetically, I would be curious as why the offer is being made?”

“After considering your testimony and those of the others involved I find that I may have misunderstood the intentions of your origninal words. Others have indicated to me that they believe you were merely stating what you believed was the truth based upon your unauthorized contact, contact that was forced upon you by circumstance.” Crais explained.

“Contamination is still contamination, irregardless of the situation, sir.” Aeryn replied disdainfully. She was fully aware of who had stood against the Captain for her: Lieutenant Teeg, one of the few friends Aeryn had.

“Yes, but in this case one that may be dismissed by a superior officer upon review of the situation. The alien did appear Sebacean, after all. Despite his claims of being a human, there is the possibility that he is from a previously unknown Sebacean colony.” Crais countered.

Aeryn sighed in annoyance at Crais´ words. He was twisting the words of the Exclusion Acts to his own ends. She fixed a cold stare on the Captain, heedless of whether it was disrespectful or not. “What do you want of me, Captain?”

This brought a chuckle from Crais. “Good. You are not one for the machinations of politics. Just the sort of Officer I need.”

“”I prefer to prove my wits in battle not in petty political trivialities.” Aeryn replied with contempt.

“I agree.” Crais nodded once. “I was once like you, Officer Sun, but circumstances have forced me to change; not unlike how you will need to change to survive.”

“Sir?”

“I need an Officer who will not be bogged down in politics, one who is loyal, dedicated and possessing the highest level of training. Someone such as yourself, Aeryn Sun. Interested?” Crias explained.

Inspite of her distrust of Crais she could not help but be intrigued by what he was offering. “What is the mission?”

“Officially- location and recapture of the escaped Leviathan and her prisoners for safe escourt to Terran Raa.” Crais replied.

“And unofficially?” Aeryn asked, unable to keep a smirk from coming to her face at the look Crais gave her.

“Find me the human, Crichton.” Came the chilling reply.

Aeryn considered the offer for a moment. She would gladly hunt down the escaped prisoners. That was part of her duty as a Peace Keeper. But the human? She owed Crichton nothing but felt ambivalent about persuing the human, knowing when he was captured he would probably face a painful death at the hands of Crais long before he reached a proper tribunal hearing.

“And if I do this?” She asked, still mulling the idea over.

“The charges disappear, you recieve a field promotion and I approve your transfer to command a Marauder.” Crais´ dark eyes bored into her own. “What is your decision?”

“I accept, sir.”

A small humorless grin came to the Captain´s eyes. “Excellent, Officer. You shall have to remain here until I have made the proper arrangements for dismissal of the tribunal. I suggets you use the time to plan your course of action against these criminals.”

“Yes, sir.” Aeryn snapped off a salute as Crais left the cell.

Once alone, she sat on the small bunk, replaying their discussion over and over in her mind. Despite her bests efforts to think otherwise, each time she came to the same conclusion: Crais was making the offer out of personal revenge, not a sense of duty. And that made him dangerous.

She would have to be careful, bide her time. She would hunt the criminals as she had said she would. Duty demanded as much from her. But the human was another matter she would have to deal with when the time came. Perhaps if she were fortunate, the human would have found his way home and she would never see him again.

And that last option disturbed her greatly.

Continued in Part 2: Abaoth Sol