by Jacqui Lim, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: This is about lots of things but on the surface its about a heavily pregnant Aeryn and a blind Chiana hiding from intruders who have boarded Moya.
Timeline: Set sometime after the events depicted in the episode “Bad Timing”
Disclaimer: Farscape is the intellectual property of The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel. I do not own these characters but have used them to explore a variety of life themes. My thanks to the creators of Farscape for creating such a rich tapestry to work from. Naturally, I do not intend to sell or profit from this story in anyway.
Acknowledgements: My heartfelt thanks to those who have read various drafts and offered their insights.
Even through the pain Moya had moments of clarity. She felt the intruders tear through her hungry for the life she held in her, the richness that filled her. She knew what they sought, felt what they did and was paralysed to stop them. She felt them moving inside her, their rough voices searing her senses. I have lost myself in this, she thought. She wanted them to be gone, to take what they wanted and to leave her. Let me die she thought. Let it be now. The pain, it came in waves. Strong. Intense. Unbearable. Then it ebbed and left her drained. Each time she hoped it would be the last but the lull only preceded a more forceful reckoning. I could end it, she thought. Surrender. Shut down. But even through her pain she had moments of clarity. It would not happen. There was more to lose than her own life. She could not save Rygel but Aeryn and Chiana still lived. She could protect them, save them. Her sense of them was faint, drowned out by the roar of pain in her body. But they were there, in the shaft, tier 8. Hiding. Waiting.
The shaft was narrow and dark. It spread, like tentacles throughout the ship, a maze of hidden connections. The two women sat huddled in it. Listening.
"How much longer do you think they’ll take?" Chiana asked.
"How the frell do I know?"
Chiana bit back a retort. It still surprised her that they were alive. They should have died long ago when the first fire ripped through tier 7. The intruders had come when they slept. It had been Aeryn that pulled her out of bed, dragging her to the shaft as they tried to find some makeshift-hiding place. Frell. How long had they been here? Two, three arns? She was used to hiding, that was the easy part. What was not so easy was staying put, hearing them tear Moya apart, stripping her bare.
"We should do something, Aeryn. We can’t just let them do this."
"And what could two of us do? You’re blind, Chiana. And I’m too pregnant to do much good. There are hundreds of them. All armed. All over the frelling ship. We sit and we wait. We go out there now and we’re frelled"
"Yeah, well we’re frelled if we do and we’re frelled if we don’t."
Aeryn sighed. Her head ached. She could not think straight. Chiana was right, they should do something. They should have done something. Before. When the Intakar first boarded. That was the moment to strike. But she had missed it. She closed her eyes and saw a vision of her former self. She would have reacted, attacked, defended them. She would have stopped this or at least have died trying. But she was gone. Aeryn shifted. The baby weighed her down. She rested her hand on her belly.
"I say we crawl our way to Pilot’s den. We work with Pilot and Moya. We do something", Chiana persisted.
Aeryn looked at Chiana, who stood with her eyes wide, her body posed for attack. Aeryn nodded her head slightly, placed her hand in Chiana’s and led the way. She felt her way along the shaft, listening to the movements of the Intakar, letting her hands guide her where there was no light. The walls snaked round leading them deeper into Moya. Aeryn found herself struggling, her body made cumbersome by the baby, slight cramps creeping up her legs. She did not recognise herself anymore. She was slow, awkward, heavy. I have lost myself in this, she thought. Everything was different. She led them along, her footsteps no longer confident or purposeful. She was hesitant. She dragged herself and Chiana forward till finally she had to stop, her breath shallow and uneven.
"Are you OK?" Chiana whispered.
"Yes. Just need to catch my breath." Aeryn replied.
"How much longer?"
"Not long. It shouldn’t be too far off now".
Chiana waited while Aeryn rested. She felt Aeryn’s quick gasps of air, sensed the weariness that enveloped her. She wasn’t quite sure if they would make it, if Aeryn would make it. So much for frelling bed rest, she thought. She felt the tug of Aeryn’s hand as she was pulled further through the shaft.
"We’re here. I can see Pilot. It looks as if they’ve been through here already. We’ll need to be quick, I’m not sure if they’ll be back. Follow me?"
"Are you crazy? You aren’t going anywhere."
"What do you mean? I thought this was the plan"
"No, the plan was that we would crawl to Pilot’s den and then I would sneak out to Pilot while you cover me. I just didn’t mention that bit. You still got the pulse pistol?"
"I’m not letting you go out there on your own, blind, unarmed when they could be round the corner."
"Look. I can do it. One of us needs to watch for them, and I sure can’t do that. Trust me. I’m blind but I still know Moya. I can still find my way to Pilot. Besides, by the time you get over there, they’ll be back."
Aeryn released Chiana’s hand and watched her slither out of the hatch and work her way to Pilot. She held the pulse pistol tight, aimed, ready to fire. She scanned the room, listening for sounds of the returning Intakar. The room had been destroyed, the paneling torn free of Moya. Pilot’s console was gone, an empty casing stood where it once lay. Aeryn’s eyes rested on Pilot. She drew them away, the hurt was too much. This was supposed to be a safe system. This was supposed to be the end. Journey over. Life begin. She remembered the lightness of John’s kiss as he left. Don’t worry baby, we won’t be long. We go down to the planet, chose a settlement, come back. Two solar days max.. What could happen? Invaded by a ruthless group of pirates, that’s what. Aeryn tightened her grip on the pistol. She felt another cramp.
Chiana threaded her way across Pilot’s den. Twenty paces right then ten paces left. She tried to concentrate and ignore the foul stench of rotting flesh that invaded her senses. Soon, soon she would be with Pilot. For once she was glad that darkness surrounded her, sparing her the sight of Moya bleeding. She knew that she was close to Pilot. She heard his breathing, ragged, laboured. She reached out and her hand grazed Pilot. She moved forward, keeping her hand on Pilot, feeling his rough, broken body. She did not need her lost sight to know that he sat crumbling in front of her. Dying.
"Oh, Pilot, what have they done?"
"They have invaded us and stolen our lives. There is nothing you can do Chiana. You must leave now. Moya and I implore you."
"No.No. We’re not leaving you here. There must be something we can do. Tell me how we can get them off Moya. We’ll do that then we’ll get you and Moya to a healer."
"Its…too late, Chiana. Moya and I will not survive for much longer. You must save yourselves. Moya has been able to secure the doors to the hanger. You and Aeryn can get there from here. Follow the shaft."
"No Pilot. That’s not an option. We’ll send a distress call to D’Argo and John. Or we could release a toxin. Frell, there’s lots of things we could do. Don’t give up!"
"Go, Chiana. It is our time to die. Moya and I both know it. If you do not save yourself, you WILL die. The Intakar do NOT take prisoners. What do you think they will do with a pregnant Sebacean?"
Chiana felt herself trembling. She ran her hands down his face, closed her eyes and remembered what he looked like, how his beautiful eyes would enfold her with love. One of his arms traced the course of a tear as it trickled down her cheek. There was nothing more to say. She could not argue with that. Moya and Pilot for the baby. Chiana slowly moved away. She became slowly aware of sounds approaching the den. Footsteps, drawing closer.
"Chiana! Chiana, hurry, there’s someone coming!"
Aeryn’s voice rang out and Chiana turned around. She felt herself stumble. Where was she? How many paces? Was she even facing the right way?
"Aeryn. Aeryn, where are you?"
Aeryn saw Chiana slip. She tried to crawl out, to catch her, help her back. She felt another spasm and stopped, her voice catching in her throat. The door to Pilot’s den opened. A large balding Intakar stood in the doorway. He saw Chiana and headed towards her. Aeryn fired. She felt the force of the pulse as it left her pistol. She heard the bolt sear into him and saw him fall. She doubled over, another spasm rocking her.
"I’m here, Chiana."
"Is he dead?"
"Yes. Hurry. There will be others after him."
Chiana felt her way to Aeryn, grabbing onto her. She felt the roundness of Aeryn’s belly and her tears washed down her face. Moya and Pilot for the baby.
Aeryn pushed Chiana into the shaft, her own despair echoed in Chiana’s mourning tears. She turned to see Pilot, his gaze enveloped her. His eyes lowered as he inclined his head toward the open shaft bidding her to go. She nodded. He knew, she thought, knew that her heart was breaking. How can I do this? She thought. How can I leave him? She hesitated, not knowing what to do.
"Go, Aeryn….go. Moya and I want you to be safe."
Aeryn nodded again, turning, tears stinging her eyes. She kept walking, reached for Chiana and led her away from the den. She held Chiana, sheltered her from the pain. To the hanger. To John. Leave Moya. Leave everything. She kept moving, crawling through the shaft, leading Chiana, not thinking of anything but moving forward. She could still hear the Intakar moving around outside, laughing, reveling in their find, their treasure trove of a dying Leviathan. Then she stopped as a flash of pain swept through her. A moan escaped her.
"What’s the matter?" Chiana whispered.
"A cramp, just … a cramp," Aeryn breathed sinking into the ground. She closed her eyes. Ride it out, ride it out. Another moan, louder this time, filled the dense air. She felt her belly; it was tight. She could feel it contracting beneath her hands.
"Aeryn, what is it? You’re scaring me"
"I’m scaring you?" Aeryn answered, a wry smile playing on her lips. "I’m OK. Just all this crawling around is giving me cramps. I’ll be fine once we get out of here". Her voice was too light, too shrill to ease Chiana’s unease.
Aeryn tried to move again, then stopped. She sensed it before she felt the rush of warmth spill down her legs. She felt its stickiness against her thighs. The baby. Coming. We are lost. She looked up and met Chiana’s fearful eyes.
"Is it coming?" Chiana asked.
"Yes" Aeryn whispered all hope leaving her. "I can’t …go on. You go."
"Stop talking dren, I’m NOT leaving you."
Chiana gripped Aeryn’s hand as another spasm coiled round the labouring woman. She sat there together with her friend, tensing when another pain came, sinking with relief when she felt its end. They rocked, their bodies bunched together on the cold floor. The only intrusion into their silent ancient rhythm was the heavy, bulky movements of the invaders walking, tearing through Moya’s systems. Chiana listened to Aeryn’s struggle to keep silent, to keep the pain within her. How much longer till someone heard them? Walked passed and frelling heard them? She thought of all the times that Aeryn had saved them, saved her. What was she to do? How to repay the debt? Get the baby out, she thought.
"We have to get your baby out" she whispered in Aeryn ear.
"I’m trying! What do you think I’m doing?" Aeryn spat at Chiana.
"Shh,,,,shh..I know. I just mean that we’ll do it together. You and me. Here…now. We’ll get the baby out, then we’ll be …..be OK"
"Chiana, they are going to find us.
She lay her hand on Aeryn’s back, stroking it, kneading through the pain. She shook her head.
"No, don’t say that. We’ll be OK. They’re making so much noise out there anyway, they probably wouldn’t hear us if they were sitting right on top of us."
Aeryn didn’t respond. A spasm of fear shot through her. She looked at Chiana and rubbed her hand over the tight skin of her belly. I can’t save you, she thought and a wave of grief swept through her. There was nothing left to do. She slumped back against the shaft, bit down on her arm to stop the scream that rose up. Her sobs came after that. This is the end, she thought. She waited for the next spasm, braced herself for the Intakar to find them. Instead, she felt a deep warmth course from the walls. The heat sank into her, pushing back the pain. A lonely breeze trailed through the shaft. A thin sliver of calm seeped through Aeryn and she ran her hands down the grooves that lined Moya’s walls. She rested her head on the wall of the shaft. Moya. Exhausted, she closed her eyes and yielded.
Aeryn felt a deep pressure pressing down on her. She pushed. There was no more time to think. Push. Push. Push.
Chiana lifted Aeryn’s skirts, her hands guiding her to the baby. She felt its hair, wet with blood. She remembered the other birth, difficult, long, dangerous. She needed to make this one work. She rested a hand on Aeryn’s belly, feeling for Aeryn’s contractions, murmured words of comfort. Softly, softly so no one would hear. Another push and the baby slid into Chiana’s hands, its slippery body wet against her thighs. She picked it up, barely held it without it wriggling away. She felt it. Its face, arms, fingers, toes. All there. The baby kicked. It was strong, alive. Chiana almost smiled. She’d done it. She had brought the baby through. She cradled it against her, coaxing Aeryn to finish what needed to be done, trying to stop the inevitable cries of the newborn.
Aeryn’s heart raced, her baby’s cries drummed through her head. And the Intakar, ever closer, heard them too. There were shouts, the rumbling of footsteps as more Intakar joined the hunt. And through this the infant cried as his mother clumsily held him and failed to calm him.
"He’s crying, Chiana."
"I can tell."
"Well, what do I do? How do I stop him?"
"How the frell should I know? Maybe..maybe he’s hungry. Maybe you should feed him"
"I don’t know! Just stick him on!"
Aeryn latched him on. He sucked hungrily at her as the pain dug into her. She closed her eyes, forcing herself to hold him to her. She knew that it was too late. She finally looked down at him. He looked like his father, she thought. The bluest of eyes. For a moment he pulled himself off and her breath held as she waited for him to start his cries again. But he just looked at her, gazed at her. Then he turned again, searching for her breast. She braced herself, felt for Chiana’s hand and waited.
"Aeryn, listen…" Chiana whispered. "Can you hear that?"
The sounds that drifted towards them were no longer battle cries but the sounds of desperate men, dying men. They were suffocating. Aeryn pulled Chiana to her.
"Moya is killing herself. She’s shutting herself down and removing life support."
"Why the frell aren’t we dead then?"
"She’s probably sealed the shaft off. We’ve gotta get out of here".
"Can she do that?"
"Yes. But she’s in pain. We have to get to the prowler. Now!"
Chiana nodded. She leant forward, her lips lightly grazing his check. Moya and Pilot for the baby.
Aeryn coaxed the Prowler to life. Her arms gripped the steering. She felt enlivened by its strength. It had been so long since she had sat here. Since she had moved and listened to the rhythms that it made. She pushed back her exhaustion and willed herself to stay focused. They had minutes, seconds to spare. Her hands ran over the console, the automatic movements slowed down by her weakness. Chiana settled in behind her, holding the baby close. Aeryn glanced once more at her son, nestled securely in the sling of Chiana’s coat. Aeryn pulled back the joy stick and they lifted. To freedom. They shot out of Moya with deliberate speed. Aeryn flew as far from Moya as she needed and then she turned the Prowler around. She locked her target in sight and fired.
Moya had known what she needed to do the moment she heard his newborn cries. And when it was over, when the intruders lay dying and she tried to bear the pain just a moment longer, she saw the three of them crawl into the Prowler. And she knew it had been right. She was not surprised when she realized Aeryn had locked onto her. Aeryn had always done what was right. Then through the pain she saw him. Her poor, beautiful, damaged son. Talyn. She smiled. He was waiting. And then, turning, she surged. To him.
* "Ibu" means "mother" in the Malay language