Setting: Between LG/M part 1 and 2
Disclaimer: Not mine. If it was, we'd have a Farscape Channel.
Zhaan placed a cool, damp rag against Stark's head as she held him. The only sound in the room, the soft murmur of her voice as she sang quietly, easing the pain both of his body and spirit. The passing of so many souls pressed hard within his heart. Ten thousand souls were too many for even him.
His body limp in her arms, she cradled him as if a child, and rocked gently. There were many things they needed to speak upon, and she - they all - needed him to be of sound mind when that time came. Stark had set them on a course they must complete if they were to safely save D'Argo's son, and return the young Luxan where he rightfully belonged at his father’s side.
Stark's hand came upward and caressed her own where it touched his face. "Thank you," he whispered.
"You're welcome, dear Stark."
He sat up slowly, fingers dancing along the surface of his coat as if not knowing where they belonged until they wrapped around the cup she held out to him. "I felt, sensed, when you sang to me, that your gifts have grown since...since..." It appeared that he couldn't decide where to focus his attention and avoided looking her in the eye.
Gently touching him, she stopped his movements with a single touch of her palm beneath his chin. "Since you left the physical world?"
He stared off into the distance, seeing what she could not. "Yes."
"I have found much need of the benefits in my return to the Seek. Both for myself, with the life I live, and for the others. They come to me for counsel on occasion."
The soothing tone in her voice appeared to calm Stark slightly, and he sat back against the wall.
"They are very lucky." He nodded sagely as if answering an unspoken question.
With every moment spent in his presence, she was surprised at how many levels of awareness she could feel emanating from him, and knew that the contents of Stark's soul held too much pain. Knowledge and memories from thousands of different lives, it was no doubt the main source of turbulence within his mind. Even the bravest of hearts would shatter under the deluge that he continuously bore. She knew that no one deserved that kind of honor, curse was more like it, yet Stark faced it.
Chuckling lightly, she felt embarrassed for the praise. "That has yet to be seen. We do well giving each other counsel, even when unasked, but we gather strength from one another in trying times."
His face saddened at the memory. "Times like now."
"Yes, but we will not give up. We are a family. One that is beleaguered by hardship on occasion, but still a family." His attention drifted once she finished speaking. Moving next to him, Zhaan was silent for a moment as she waited for him to return.
"Their lives were hard, as any slave's life is, but they deserved better than to be thrown out into the vacuum of space. A nuisance to be pushed aside. I know Scorpius to deal in cruelty, but this...”
"And you take the blame for leading Scorpius to them unnecessarily.”
“It is. It is my fault, all my fault. If I’d been more careful. Planned better…” He pushed himself up from the floor and began to pace.
“Stark, come here.” Holding out her hand, she waited patiently. Afraid to use anything other than the gentlest of tones to bring him back from the abyss he was about to cross. “Please. Come and sit with me. Together we will appeal to the gentle Goddess to aid you and those of your kin. The souls of so many are too much for one of even your gifts.”
Stark stared off in the distance, what he saw, Zhaan could only hazard to guess, but she could feel his pain even across her room. Finally, he looked her way. Tears glistened in Moya’s soft lighting and he agreed silently by taking her hand. Fingers pressing almost too tightly as he sought more than physical contact.
Together, they knelt on the floor. Arms crossed, fingers entwined as Zhaan began the entreaty. Stark’s voice soon joined. The words were not loud, but they held a weight to them that reverberated through the opened doorway, almost as if they held a physical form.
We’ve grown to ignore the smell. Rancid flesh rotting on bones long stopped moving.
We are ignored for the most part, but the times that we catch an overseer's attention are not moments to be forgotten. They are cruel. Crueler than any other master that we have known in our short life. Mother tries her best to guard us against those moments, but she is a slave herself. The words she speaks to halt the punishments only serve to anger our keepers further. Her cries during the sleep cycle strike fear in our heart and we wish to do nothing but take her away. Far away. To place her in the fine house that she belongs.
But, we are just a child.
This fact doesn’t change our duties. Here, in this place, we are all the same gathering Nogelti Crystals for our owners to make them rich, and doing our best to stay away from the pustules that can kill. Mother warns us each to watch ourselves as we eat our morning meal. The fear in her eyes apparent, despite the smile she presents us.
Our hands are scratched and have begun to bleed again, standing in one of the smaller passageways where no adult can reach. We've lost our place once more, drawn to the cries of pain and anguish after another group is sent in the direction of the beast’s rotting stomach. That's the bad place. Mother told us never to wander near there. She hasn't told us why, but her eye clouds over with sadness whenever someone mentions this place; she draws the mantle closer and mouths a prayer.
She is Stykera, and for that she holds a special place here. Daily she is called to someone's side for a variety of reasons, but most times to help them find a better place than here. Afterward, she holds us close and sings softly, giving thanks to the goddess that we have not been chosen as she.
When our day is done, we sit at her feet and listen to her tales of worlds we’ve not yet seen. Worlds with mists ringing large mountains, where water the pale color of a Nebari’s skin falls from the skies. We want to see these worlds, to feel the touch of kreneck heather beneath our feet in the early morning arns.
Mother tells us one day we will - she will see to it. That we will not be a slave our entire lives. Baniks were not always slaves, once we were priests and healers, aiding all those in need. And we will be again for she saw it in a dream.
She sends us to bed, and we cover ourselves and try to sleep. The sounds of other slaves returning to their camps as others leave is almost a lullaby each night. Soon we know that mother will be called upon again and she will return fatigued and worn down to her soul, but she go on as she always does. We know that we are the only reason that she strives to smile each time we see her. So we whisper a child’s prayer for her and we don’t tell her of what we hear in our head. She worries too much as it is.
We dream of the worlds mother speaks of, hear her rare laughter as we play in a cold stream for what seems like arns. She takes our hand and we both walk to a small dwelling. It’s beautiful. It’s the kind of home that we’ve always envisioned for mother to have.
Mother kneels down in front of us and gathers our other hand in her own. She tells us how much she loves us and that she never wants to leave, but her time has come. The goddess has chosen. But her spirit will never be very far away, that we only have to know where to look, in order to find her.
We tell her we don’t want her to go, that we need her. Her smile is sad as she stands and pulls us to her, wrapping us in her arms. She kisses our forehead and tells us again how much she loves us. That we are a good son, and one that makes her proud every day. With those words, she turns away and enters the home that we’ve always wanted to give her. Running to the door, we find the latch turns, but does not unlock for us. We are barred from entering.
We hear someone calling our name, and we turn and find ourselves lying on the familiar mat where we’d fallen asleep the previous day. There is a Delvian male named Foh’ta standing over us. He tells us that mother is gone; her name was drawn to join the newest set of slaves to enter and mine the areas near the budong’s stomach. He tells us to gather our things, we are to come live with him and his mate. He tells us that mother had arranged it long ago.
Foh’ta looks at us strangely as we exit what was once our home. He tells us not to be sad about mother, that she is now in a better place. We tell him we know, that we dreamt of her. The look on his face changes slightly and he gives a knowing nod. Placing his hand on our shoulder, he says that we will be all right and he has much to teach us over time. We’re confused and scared, but those feelings are nothing compared to the sadness of missing our mother. Suddenly we stop; Foh’ta looks around and reaches within a pouch on his hip. He holds something small in his hand and places it in our own. When we look at him in confusion, he smiles and tells us not to worry, it’s a good thing called candy, and we’ll like it.
We try and smile at the gift, but it feels false and quickly falls away as we enter the humble quarters of the Delvian, and his mate greets us with open arms.
For a moment as she awakens, Zhaan is confused. She expects to find Foh’ta standing over her as she clutches the small sweet morsel in her hand. The grief she feels is very much real to her as she misses the mother that was not her own. Stark is beside her, calm at the moment. “I’d forgotten her…”
“She feared for me daily for one reason or another. Mostly I think she was afraid that I would be Stykera, the same as her. In a way, I’m glad she passed before my ‘gifts’ became more apparent. I don’t think she would have left so peacefully if she’d known.”
Turning onto her side, Zhaan traced the line of his jaw with a finger. “The Delvian, Foh’ta, he sensed it in you?”
“Yes, and he began teaching me as much as he could. He was only a sixth level Pa’u. I was with him and Javeth for five cycles before I was sold,” he said before falling silent. She could tell that he was thinking on the memories that they had just shared. The result of their prayer was unexpected, but she knew there was a reason the Goddess had chosen this way to answer them.
Zhaan didn’t want to push him, but she knew that time was of the essence now. “Do you feel well enough to join the others?”
Standing, Stark took her hand and helped her up. “Yes, I cannot let them down. You all have done so much for me already, I won’t allow myself to fail you.”
“You could never do that, Stark.” Holding his hands as his mother had done only a few microts ago within the dream, she smiled and hoped that Stark knew how proud she was of him. “Come.”