Chuckling, John said with a sad smile, “I always knew that Moya was special.”
Closing his eyes, John wanted to embrace the images of his friends as he last saw them. Instead he pushed them away and opened his eyes and looked at Aeryn. Seeing that she was also having trouble with this heartbreak as well, he said, “When are we going over?”
They both looked at Johnny as Crais pulled him up from trying to explore under one of the consoles. “We can’t leave him alone,” John said. Stark and Rygel were silent, the impact over the loss of the others evident in their slumped shoulders. Stark didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands, as they repeatedly rubbed the front of his coat.
Aeryn was silent for a moment, then said, “If you will allow it…there is something on board that will make him sleep for several arns. Rygel can watch over him since he obviously cannot go over to Moya with us.”
Nodding in agreement, John said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. No telling what he’ll do if we try to leave him alone. My own memories of that age are spotty themselves, but he talked about a favorite bath toy…it was the only way my Mom could get me in the tub. She used to embarrass the hell out of me by telling that story at family gatherings.” He couldn’t help the soft clutch of his stomach at his mother’s memories again, and smiled when Aeryn seemed to sense that and rubbed her thumb against his bottom lip as she caressed his face.
Turning his attention back to the rest of the room, he saw that Johnny was now sitting on the floor at Crais’ feet, listening to his explanation of Talyn.
Shaking his head at the sight, John asked, “Crais…he bugging you yet?”
With a smirk on his face, Crais replied, “Actually, he seems to listen far better than you do at times.”
“Very funny.” Walking over to the two men, John said, “You ready to go, Johnny?”
Johnny looked up, chewing on his bottom lip, his question in his eyes before he spoke, “Go where?”
“It’s time for you to get some rest…you’ve had a busy day.”
“Not tired,” Johnny said stubbornly.
Rubbing his forehead, John thought, ‘This is too weird…and it’s worse than when I argued with myself over sleep when I studied for finals…’
Sighing, John put down his arm and, looking down at his twin, he said, “You still have to lay down. If you do…I’ll take you for a ride tomorrow in my spaceship.” He almost laughed at his own description of the module.
Johnny quickly stood up on his feet, excited. “You have a spaceship? When can I go? Can I go now?” He grabbed John’s hand and tried to pull him in the direction of the door.
John dug in his feet slightly to stop the momentum of going forward, surprising Johnny as he came to an abrupt stop. “Yeah, I do, but you have to get some sleep first,” John answered when the man looked behind him.
Johnny folded his arms across his chest and began to pout. “But I wanna go now…”
‘Damn…okay that was a mistake.’
John looked passed Johnny over to where Aeryn stood. “All right, but let’s get something to drink first. Aeryn, you want to join us?”
She nodded her head in understanding and said, “Yes, but first Stark has to help me with something.”
Walking to the door, Stark asked, “Me? You do?” It seemed he was making a point of not startling Johnny as he neared the man.
“A few things as a matter of fact, follow me,” she said as she walked out the door with Stark following close behind.
John turned to Crais, and he said, “Give us half an arn, then we’ll be ready to go.”
Seeming to understand the different meaning, Crais nodded silently in agreement.
Putting his hand on Johnny’s back, John said as they walked out the door to the bridge, “Let’s get something to eat and drink first, then we’ll go check out my spaceship.”
Johnny laughed and jumped up and down. “Spaceship! Spaceship!”
“Calm down, boy, you’re going to bust something like that.”
“Are you sure he will sleep while you are all over on Moya?” Rygel asked while watching the four suit up.
Shrugging the EVA suit over his shoulders, John said, “We should have everyone back over here long before Johnny wakes, but if he does, I put some more of the sleeping herbs in a bottle of cixa juice. It’s sitting in the very back of the refrigeration unit.”
“‘My’ cixa juice?” The indignation in the Hynerian’s voice did not match the sadness in his eyes.
“It’s all I had left to put it in, I didn’t want to risk him seeing it in water, and he didn’t like the taste of the fellip nectar,” John said, ending the argument by putting on his helmet.
Speaking through the comms, Aeryn said, “We have to go now, Rygel.”
Leaving the hatchway, Rygel whispered as he watched them through the window as they entered into Moya, “I do not envy you your task, my friends.”
They were each silent as they performed the job they had set upon. Even knowing the conditions in which their friends had lain for two monens, the sight of their mummified remains affected them all. Those images would haunt their waking and sleeping dreams for the rest of their lives.
The found Chiana first, her natural lust for life as faded as the dark surrounding her. D'Argo's great bulk was shrunken within the rags of the uniform of the proud Luxan warrior, his Qualta Blade still sheathed at his back. Jool lay in her quarters, nothing left of the eyes that once shined with their intelligence. Placing their bodies in re-worked containers that were now essentially caskets, all of them said a private goodbye for the last time to their friends.
John and Aeryn stood on one side of Pilot's console facing him, Crais and Stark immediately below. No one had been prepared for the sight of him. Pilot's body was the most affected from the deep space desiccation. Living in most of his life in water, the vacuum that now filled the majority of Moya had destroyed the soft tissues of his body, leaving only an exoskeleton that was almost unrecognizable with its sharp edges showing prominently.
Touching the dried up nerve fibers below, Crais lightly flinched when a piece crumbled beneath his fingers. Stopping for a moment, Crais asked Talyn to relay a question to Moya. After a moment, he received his answer and put down the cutter he held and gently began snapping the fibers. Stark watched for a few microts in shock over Crais' humble
observances of honor to the symbiot before he began assisting the ex-Peacekeeper. Once their part was done, they both climbed the access ladder to find Aeryn sitting on the edge of the console, her helmet leaning against the remaining shell of Pilot's head. John stood behind her, his hand lying firmly against her back in both physical and emotional support. Standing back, the two men allowed them the time they needed with their friend.
A half an arn passed in this manner. No one moved a muscle until Aeryn lifted her head from Pilot’s and gave his sunken cheek a final caress. Swinging her legs around the console, she jumped down. Nodding her head, the woman indicated that she was ready to finish what they had started.
Stepping back, John moved the crane lifting the container into position and began unhooking it while Aeryn and Crais prepared the harness to go around his large frame. As they moved around one another, Crais attempted to lift the edge of Pilot’s body so Aeryn could ease the straps below. He was surprised with the ease in which the body came up into the air. Looking up, he saw his surprise echoed on Aeryn’s face as well.
Speaking for the first time in arns, she said softly, “John…we won’t be needing that…” Turning slightly, she saw him release the control and climb over to join her and Crais. Stark followed a couple of microts later. Together the four worked as a unit and soon had Pilot lying as peacefully as the others within his makeshift sarcophagus.
The face of each man and woman wore a mixture of unspoken regrets and promises unfulfilled as they pushed Pilot towards Talyn.
Watching through her DRDs, she could see them standing around what Crichton called the ‘coffins’, and she couldn’t suppress the shudder of grief that passed through her. Only now there was no one to feel it, no one to ask if she was all right, no one that she share her feelings of grief and fear with. Her Pilot and friend was gone.
Moving a DRD to one side, she could see the two men standing side by side. Even now, the sight amazed her. They were still identical, now that the one had removed the facial hair from the other. Her heart ached when she focused her attention on the one with the longer hair, and she couldn’t help but remember when the two had been only one when he had first arrived as he looked around the hanger around him. His now childlike curiosity getting the better of him as he tried to wander away and the other took his hand and kept him in place.
John Crichton finished his day sitting at a table, holding a tape recorder, somewhere inside a living space ship. He looked tired and more than a little confused with everything that had happened. Only moments ago, the Dominar had tried to steal his equipment, and she couldn’t help the small amount of glee she felt when Crichton had put a stop to it.
She’d had her eye on him from the moment they’d come out of starburst. Things had returned to the quiet that she was used to with one crucial difference. There was no longer a control collar on her back, no more peacekeepers stalking her halls carrying pulse rifles. Moya was free thanks to the odd assortment of passengers now aboard. Not least of which, the human.
Her presence seeped into the room as Crichton was wrapping a piece of sticky blue material around one of her DRDs. Moya could feel the tiny machine react happily as it was returned to working order. She could see the care with which Crichton did the job. The human was truly different than all the others on board. Even the priestess.
“This is John Crichton, somewhere in the universe.”
Moya felt the sorrow emanating from the human. He was far away from his home and alone in a completely alien environment. She understood his fears and shared many of them. They were on the run now from a force more powerful than any of them. And Crichton was chief among the wanted. It would be her responsibility to keep him safe.
He put the tape recorder down slowly and looked around at the walls. He stood and walked cautiously over to the wall. She watched as he placed a hand against it, a look of surprise befell his face, and she could only assume it was due to her warmth.
“Hey Pilot,” he said into the comm.
She pulled herself back, unsure of what the human was up to.
“Yes Crichton?” Pilot answered.
John looked down at the device on his vest and shook his head in wonder. “How’s Moya doing?” he asked.
The living ship would have smiled if she could have. A warm feeling washed over her at the human’s words. She watched him and somehow knew the question was sincere. Moya wanted to ask it back.
“Moya is doing fine commander,” Pilot said. Like the ship he was joined with, he too felt curiosity toward the human.
Crichton smiled and slid his hand across the wall. She heard him as he whispered. “I don’t know if you can hear me right now,” he said. “Hell, I don’t know if you’ve even noticed me.”
Moya pulled herself closer into the room, warming the air with her presence.
“Just wanted to say thanks for having me aboard,” John continued. “I’ll try to take care of you, keep myself alive while I’m at it.”
John Crichton laughed at himself and turned to grab his bag off the table. ‘I’m talking to walls’ he thought. Slinging the bag over his shoulder, he started toward the door and was surprised to have it swing open on its own. He grinned.
“Nice to meet you too”
Keeping a promise to herself, she had kept him as safe as only she could. It felt as if her tiers would crumble in upon themselves if she thought too long or hard on how she did not protect Pilot or the others. She was a Leviathan, she cared for her passengers deeply, yet she had failed them all.
She no longer had a way to speak out to those mourning with her, except through Talyn and through him Captain Crais. This would not do. As the others had gathered her precious cargo away from her walls, she sought through her data stores for a way to convey her feelings to them. Within them she found it, and a way to bring ’all’ of them together one last time. It had taken her several arns, but she believed she had found the proper way to show her love and say goodbye.
Sending the DRDs around in front of the others, she stopped herself when she saw the Dominar move forward as well.
Clearing his throat she heard him as he spoke, “We are here to say a final goodbye to our compatriots…our friends…and in some ways, our family. Only within a family could we have protected each other, honored each other, even fought with each other--yet forgive for the mistakes made, both large and small. While none us wanted to be together in the beginning, we found solace within one another’s company. It has been my privilege to know Ka D’Argo, a Luxan of great honor. Chiana, a girl after my own heart who recognized things of value, and the value of things. Jool, brought to us by circumstances of none of our own making, and a female of enormous intelligence. Pilot, a being of great feeling and sense of duty, and one with whom I could have corrected many wrongs. You all will be missed…and your memories cherished. We all wish that we could give you the proper ceremonies in keeping with your peoples, but know that we are sending you to your ancestors the way things have always been done since we came together.”
She watched as he bowed his head in sadness and rejoined the others. Sensing that now was the appropriate moment, she filled the room with Zhaan’s voice singing. Five of the six closed their eyes as if of one mind; the final one looked around as if searching for the source of the angelical sound.
“Where’s the pretty music comin from?” The Crichton they had all began referring to as Johnny asked.
“Shhhh…not now,” Crichton whispered, and it appeared he tightened his grip slightly on the other’s hand.
After a quarter arn, she stopped the precious sounds, only to be replaced by what she hoped was an appropriate goodbye with Zhaan speaking for her once more.
“The goddess graciously receives to her bosom, all those who pass from this existence regardless of faith or belief. She holds, however, a special place for those who travel this life as a journey. Sensitive D'Argo...exuberant Chiana...excitable Joolushko…and beloved Pilot will surely harvest that favor. Their life was a series of strides toward enlightenment. Casting off the chains of prejudice and hatred. Reaching beyond violence and bigotry. They sought a balance of lasting inner peace. In her name.”
“May the Goddess receive you with charity.”
“Ahmet.” They each whispered, with the exception of the one.
“May the Goddess sanctify your spirit.”
“May the Goddess purify your soul.”
“May the Goddess recite your name on the whispers of the wind.”
Having explained her plans earlier to her son, Talyn now asked if she was ready for them to be released. Sending him the equivalent to a head nod, she watched as the hanger doors closed to the living beings in the room, and the containers swept out into space. She’d had Talyn relay her plans to the others and they had all agreed that what she wanted to do was appropriate to their friends’ lives.
Talyn opened a small shaft and released a small amount of cessium fuel. She waited until it drifted across the others and then began the first stage of starburst and ignited the fuel. The containers burned up into nothing within microts, they and the fragile remains would now mingle with this area of space, and for the rest of her existence, she would know where to find them.
If some of you recognize the flashback, it is because Neurospr gave me permission to use a portion of his story 'Talking to Walls'. I read that and thought it fit perfectly with what Moya was thinking at the time.