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Sacrifice

Shalemni's email: kikoqueen@hotmail.com (feedback is always welcome!, is that a hint?)

PG 13

Synopsis: Secrets, lies and concealments, Chiana's new life aboard Moya comes to a catylytic end as she is helplessly drawn into a web of blackmail and deceit as the Nebari Official Yaleshanan is determined to bring her to justice for the murder of Salis.

Disclaimer: Farscape and Chiana and Co. are the property of Hallmark/Scifi Channel/Henson and the wonderful creators they do not belong to me in any way, though this little fic creation just a glimpse into the 'possible' Farscapian Future


Shifting silently through the dimly lit back streets, the thick sand-brick walls of half crumbling yellow-hued rock bearing silent witness to her stealthy passage.
 

Chiana treaded cautiously.
 

Carefully placing her booted feet upon the dusty earthen path, casting a wary, dark Nebari eye over her shoulder, gazing vigilantly into the sifting late evening shadows, as the sun’s luminous golden eye was slowly swallowed by the growing, gathering darkness of approaching night. Toron' Shors radiant-silver, twin orbs of light, Ebeshen and Ebesha glimmering softly in the cooling sky. The sweet kiss of dusk heralding their celestial ascent into the heavens.
 

No one followed, only gentle silence bearing witness to Chiana’s obscure presence.
 

‘She had better be there...’, Chiana sighed, lying to D'Argo hadn’t been a very comfortable experience, ‘I don’t have a choice...this concerns me personally, this is my choice’.
 

‘My Choice’.

Chiana closed her eyes, as insidious shameful guilt crept silently upon her shoulders, as she vainly attempted to reassure herself that her actions had been right. To conceal everything from her fellow crewmates, from dear sweet D'Argo.
 

‘I have to do this...to protect him to protect them all, there’s no possible alternative’.

Tilting her head, craning a delicate Nebari neck, her liquid dark eyes gazing forlornly upon Ebeshen and Ebesha’s twinial reflections. Each a perfect mirror image of the other. “Forgive me”, she whispered softly into the cooling night air.
 

“Forgive me...”.

A single delicate tear, moistly caressed her pale cheek as it flowed in a gentle transparent rivulet, to cascade from her chin, into the rousing dust tenderly sifted by Toron' Shors stirring evening winds.
 

Chiana moved forward, silently continuing her secretive journey through the darkening southern back-alleys of Toron’ Shor.

* * * * * * * * *

In Moya’s Galley one weeken ago...
 

“I always thought that food cubes were manufactured for consumption, I didn’t realize that they could serve a further function Chiana, thank you for introducing me to this ‘new’ use”.
 

Aeryn demonstrated, casually placing her Sebacean fingers gently on the slightly roughened surface of a brown food cube nestled comfortably on her plate. With a superb flick of her practised wrist, the food cube leapt upwards in a graceful arc, gliding through the invisible coolness of Moya’s ventilated, oxygenated atmosphere. Flying like a majestic Menrah Bird ascending the heavens, only in this instance this flying food cube lobbed, twisting expertly like a practised acrobat, to strike with perfect aim, Zhaan’s golden-tinged cup of Kahraken juice. Snuggled peacefully against the rim of her plate.
 

The cup wobbled, trembling.
 

Everyone’s eyes focusing on this seemingly insignificant occurrence that took precedence as conversations ceased.
 

D'Argo, John, Chiana and Zhaan watching closely as the cup tilted, rocking uncontrollably upon its base, struggling forlornly for balance. Dominar Rygel the XVI of Hyneria gazing upon the cup suspiciously. Scrutinizing its uncontrollable wobble, as it tilted towards his position, seated four hentas away from its current vantage point.
 

His beady, cat-slitted Hynerian eyes narrowing dangerously.
 

Two microts passed in complete suspense as the cup held all attention. As twelve pairs of eyes focused on its tilting imbalance, Pilot and Moya both, joining the selection of spectators, as the cup tilted ever further towards Rygel.
 

‘Don’t you dare!’ his Eminence thought apprehensively, eyeing the teetering cup as it angled further and further towards him.
 

Tilt. Tip. Splash.
 

The forlornly wobbling cup spilling its liquid contents all over Rygel’s grey Hynerian face, drenching his crimson attire in a sweet smelling moistness. “Iyuah...”, he uttered disgustedly. Casting a torrid glance in Aeryn’s direction, a moment of silence.
 

Calm before the storm.
 

“HOW DARE YOU!”.

Rygel puffed into a ranting rage of creative Hynerian curses, twisting and swivelling his short neck and head, infuriated. Aeryn gazing coolly upon him, remaining charmingly composed. Crichton grinned, D'Argo uttering a contented chuckle as he gazed upon Rygel’s moistened face, his white Hynerian brows dripping with Zhaan’s ill-fated cup of Kahraken juice.
 

Zhaan smirked, though even she in all of her Delvian Pa’ U training unable to resist the insatiable bubbling urge to express her inner humorous nature. A soft laugh escaping her indigo lips, cultivating volume. Rygel’s curses abruptly ceased, as Moya’s Galley filled with the incessant chortle of benign laughter.
 

D'Argo’s deep Luxan mirth no stranger to a frelling good joke, as he guffawed at Rygel’s unfortunate sweep of bad luck. John adding his crackling light-hearted chuckles to the growing audience of humour, casting a stray glance upon Rygel’s stunned expression, fuelling his cackling human laughter.
 

Aeryn only smiled modestly.
 

Chiana, sighing quietly from her obscure position at the edge of the galley table, unresponsive to Rygel’s torment.
 

Gazing across the table, Chiana’s eyes fell unhindered upon the familiar, warm expressions of her crewmates, now cheerfully enjoying Rygel’s humiliation.
 

Her dark Nebari eyes falling across Aeryn’s stern former-Peacekeeper expression, across Zhaan’s beautifully azure Delvian visage, over John Crichton’s understanding human face. Upon Rygel’s humiliated appearance and finally cascading over D'Argo’s handsome Luxan complexion.
 

Chiana wanted to share her knowledge with them, these strange alien beings who she had spent the last cycle of her life among, existing as a member of their motley group, having grown to develop a deep and abiding affection for each, in their own individual ways.
 

Chiana trusted them, treasuring their company.
 

Zhaan’s Delvian guidance and gentle patience, a maternal link Chiana had never truly possessed. Crichton’s caring human understanding, an elder brother to her, just as Nerri had been. Aeryn’s sometimes-austere Peacekeeper presence, but even she in her unusual way expressing a sensitive, caring and protective nature.
 

Even his Eminence Dominar Toad the XVI aquatic-frog of Hyneria (amphibious?) held a special position within the deep recesses of her youthful Nebari heart.
 

Moya and Pilot. Ship and captain, also holding a poignant post on the apical ladder of admiration and affection, the ‘home’ and sanctuary of Chiana’s ‘new’ family.
 

Caring deeply for each of Moya’s crew of mismatched misfits, each having suffered in their own individual ways, contributing their knowledge and understandings, opinions and perceptions into a tightly woven tapestry of family. Something Chiana herself had never truly experienced until her times aboard Moya.
 

Her dark Nebari gaze resting its wandering stare upon D'Argo’s bearded face. If there was anyone aboard Moya that Chiana could trust with her heart it was this immense Luxan Warrior. Handsome, strong, fearless, protective, yet gentle, sweet and caring in his own affectionate way.
 

Each and everyone present now, within Moya’s Galley had given Chiana a small piece of themselves, Crichton’s understanding, Zhaan’s patience, Aeryn’s caution and strength of character, Rygel’s slyness (though Chiana already possessed enough of her own). D'Argo’s heart and a possible future, they had all taught Chiana the true essence of loyalty, strength, trust, family and honour. Something she would forever be grateful for.
 

D'Argo’ s warm Luxan vision sensing eyes upon him returned Chiana’s watchful stare, only to see her turn her dark Nebari gaze away.
 

No matter how great her desire to share her knowledge, Chiana could not. Raising herself on steady feet, she stood facing her comrades and friends, her heart tearing silently.
 

“I’m not very hungry...”, the laughter slowly ebbing to hushed silence as Chiana turned to leave the galley. Departing abruptly, near the entrance she turned her dark eyes over her shoulder.
 

‘A few more solar days are all that I have left now, I’ll miss you all so very much’.
 

“Goodnight everyone”, she murmured. ‘And Goodbye’.

D'Argo gazing concernedly after, as Chiana disappeared from his sight, melting into the growing shadows of Moya’s golden-ridged tier-ways.

* * * * * * * * *

The doors of her quarters sliding open, Chiana quietly entered. Casting her eyes across the familiar sleeping platform draped with the golden folds of a blanket. Beckoning her silently to rest her weary body upon its welcoming softness.
 

Sighing, Chiana did not see the yellow DRD on the floor of her quarters until the little droid scuttled forward narrowly missing being stomped on by her booted foot.

Eyes widening in astonishment, gazing apologetically upon the tiny droid’s light-bulb eyes, a thick strand of blue electrical tape tightly wound around one of its black mechanical eyestalks, a remnant of Crichton’s handy work.
 

Kneeling, Chiana gazed solemnly upon the tiny droid.
 

“Now what are you doing in here little one?”, she asked it softly, gaining a curious reply, a cacophony of clicks and whistles. “Well now, that’s interesting”, a gentle smile gracing her lips. The DRD extended a mechanic vice-like claw, held within its silvered metallic grip, a curiously miniscule black capsule, a miniature holographic recorder.
 

Chiana’s smile vanished.
 

Pilot respected her desire for privacy on this matter, allowing one of his DRD’s to deliver a further privately recorded transmission to her.

Reaching down, Chiana gently plucked the capsule from the waiting DRD’s mechanical claw. She delicately cradled the tiny insignificant thing between her be-gloved thumb and forefinger. “Thank you”, she breathed softly, diverting her attention, focusing her gaze upon the capsule, Chiana retired to the welcoming comforting softness of her sleeping platform. The DRD with its familiar blue-taped antennae quietly scuttling away, taking a defensive position outside the sliding doors of her quarters. It paced to and fro, keeping silent vigilance.
 

Tapping her com-badge with a gentle hand, Chiana contacted Pilot over a secret frequency channel purposefully deviated from the rest of the crew’s communication bands.
 

“Pilot where are the others?”.
 

“Crichton, Zhaan and Aeryn are still within Moya’s Galley, Dominar Rygel is also there profusely arguing, Ka’ D'Argo is on Moya’s Terrace, it is safe Chiana. I have posted several DRD’s to monitor their movements should they venture towards your current position, I will send warning”.
 

“Thank you Pilot”, “You are welcome Chiana”.
 

Gently fingering the holo-capsule held daintily between her fingers, ‘No time like the present’. Delicately tapping the capsule, a brilliant luminescence of swirling colour rippled into the invisible air of her quarters.
 

The holographical image strengthening, as a pallid bluish-grey Nebari face shimmered like rippling fire, to settle as a youthful feminine visage.
 

“Greetings once again Chiana, Moya’s Pilot assures me that you will receive this message in due course...”.
 

The Nebari Official Yaleshan’s recorded face gazing silently upon her.

* * * * * * * * *

Pilot’s Den two microts after the DRD has delivered Chiana‘s message...
 

Shifting his appendages uncomfortably over Moya’s multiple control panels, Pilot was deeply disturbed.
 

‘It is entirely Chiana’s right as an individual to express her desire for privacy...Yet it is extremely disconcerting when I am personally aware of the inevitable danger of this ‘Privacy’ and are unable to share my knowledge with Aeryn and the others, if I am to uphold my ‘Pledge’ of Confidentiality’.

‘It is difficult to function as your Pilot Moya, when I must act as an intermediary between yourself and our unsuspecting crew, this act is extremely difficult to maintain, I do not know if I can continue this farce’.
 

Pilot sighed, receiving and delivering the secretly recorded transmission’s from the Nebari Official Yaleshan to Chiana, was the most difficult task any one had ever requested him to perform.
 

“Pilot are you alright?”.

Aeryn’s warm concerned voice subtly awakening him from his troubled tide of thought, Pilot raised his eyes to gaze upon her trusting Sebacean face. “Pilot?”.
 

“Greetings Officer Sun I was not aware of your presence, how can I be of assistance to you?”.
 

“I do not require your assistance for anything remotely important such as, discussing Crichton’s abnormal human behaviour, which continues to perpetuate and manifest itself in a variety of ways. Or his stern belief that all things however remotely curious require names, to the point where he will dutifully waste an arn thinking of some bizarrely human design on a suitable entitlement for some poor insignificant creature”.
 

Smiling Aeryn recalled such an event, taking place on ‘The New Moon of Delvia’, where Crichton had engineered such an entitlement for Tahleen’s Delvian follower’s main source of Nutrients. A strangely gelatinous creature, ‘Half squid half cucumber...I dub thee Tri-Go-Pod’. “Tri-go-Pod”, Aeryn murmured. Pilot frowned, “At least it is creative”, “But not entirely appropriate Pilot, Imagine what entitlement John might have engineered for you and Moya had you both not possessed a ‘Name’”. Pilot managed a confused if not slightly fearful look, “In that instance Officer Sun I am honestly grateful that Moya and I both possess adequate ‘names’, any of Crichton’s supposed ‘creativity’ may have engineered something varyingly difficult to pronounce”.
 

Pilot thought for a moment his anxiety over Chiana resting, “I am curious Officer Sun, as to what name Crichton may have deemed appropriate, would you have been adequately nameless”.
 

Aeryn’s face paled, her grey eyes darkening, “Perhaps we should leave that to imagination Pilot. On the current situation Pilot, when I entered you seemed preoccupied did I disturb you?”.
 

‘Oh Aeryn...’. Pilot deemed a deep respect for this former Peacekeeper soldier, who shared not only a unique genetic link with him, but a even more precious friendship and understanding. He sighed, as he was Chiana’s confidant so was Aeryn his and vice versa. Yet now faced with a possible outlet, and an understanding ear he could not bring himself to voice his doubts and concerns to her.
 

“No you did not disturb me Aeryn, I was conferring with Moya on the matter regarding Crais and Talyn”. Aeryn’s face paled, her eyes darkening. “Moya is greatly concerned for the welfare of her son”.
 

“I know Pilot, I know”.
 

Meanwhile...
 

The DRD’s posted as sentries to monitor the movements of each of Moya’s crew, reported their current positions on the vessel to Moya. Neither D'Argo, Crichton nor Zhaan were anywhere remotely close to Chiana’s quarters however the DRD posted to ‘watch’ Rygel had seemingly lost the Hynerian’s presence.
 

* * * * * * * * *

One of Moya’s tier-ways...
 

“Pesky blasted DRD...” Rygel murmured softly, sure that the little yellow beast had been trailing him, ever since he had left the Galley, after that rather undignified accident with Zhaan’s frelling cup of Kahraken juice.
 

‘Ingrates how dare they laugh at Rygel the XVI Dominar of Hyneria! Barbarians, out right barbarians...’
 

His thoughts trailing as he gazed out of the air-vent grating, sighting the DRD through its multiple slits, scuttling two and fro across the tier floor, slyly hunting for his Eminence.
 

More than fifteen microts ago he had been floating away from the Galley entrance, upon exiting Rygel had seen a tiny huddle of four DRD’s carrying out their varying maintenance duties aboard Moya, as was their initial function. Thinking nothing of it, Rygel had floated on a direct route towards his quarters to cleanse himself, of his drenched crimson robes.
 

Yet strangely enough, a bizarre unsettling feeling rising within his conscience. That irritating, perturbing sense everyone receives when someone or something unseen was pursuing them. Carefully casting a wary cat-slitted eye over his shoulder, Rygel had sighted a lone DRD scuttling along the floor behind him. ‘Bah...’ he had thought silently, the DRD was probably just scampering to its next scheduled assignment.
 

Yet, as Rygel continued to float down the tier way in the direction of his quarters, that same unsettling feeling continued to dominate his senses and each time he would cast wary eyes over his shoulder the DRD was present. Either stationary, extending its tiny robotic appendages to mercifully tap against the base of Moya’s tier-wall, checking for some seemingly invisible imperfection within the golden-tinged metal, or scuttling away in the opposite direction to Rygel’s journeying.
 

Yet each time, after Rygel would turn away and float in the direction of his quarters, the DRD would follow, returning from its faking positions to continue its assigned monitoring duties of his Eminence.
 

Now...
 

Fifteen microts later, with a suspicious sense that the DRD was spying upon him, Rygel was curled up in one of Moya’s ventilation shafts, trying desperately to conceal himself, as the DRD twenty hentas (Inches) below scuttled to and fro furtively searching for him.
 

Rygel smiled triumphantly, there was more than one way to get to his quarters, as he began the arduous task of crawling through Moya’s Ventilation systems.

* * * * * * * * *

Pilot’s Den...
 

‘It cannot find him!’
 

The DRD assigned to watch Rygel was unable to relocate the Hynerian Dominar’s position, sighing silently Pilot enlisted the aide of several other DRD’s to help search for him.

* * * * * * * * *

Moya’s Terrace...
 

‘What could be wrong? Chiana has been acting so strangely...could it be Nerri?’
 

D'Argo silently contemplated Chiana’s unusual behaviours, stranger and more mysterious than usual, for the last half-weeken she had been frustratingly reclusive, never uttering more than a dour morning or evening greeting to anyone.

D'Argo had attempted more than once to speak to her, to induce some kind of conversation and each time Chiana would invent some clever excuse.
 

“I’m cultivating my intelligence D’Argo, this solar day’s topic is ‘Leviathan Biology’, I can‘t be late for my mid morning class with Pilot...”, or “D'Argo I have to help Aeryn fix her Prowler...”, “Not now D'Argo, A Nebari requires a maximum of eight solid arns of beauty sleep, I for one don‘t want to awaken a sour green colour, with an extremely severe case of insomnia”.
 

He smiled, knowing full well that Aeryn would never allow the young thief within two hentas of her Prowler if she could avoid the contact, the former Peacekeeper was extremely protective of her ‘personal’ transport and a Nebari rouge with a probable prison record didn’t support her trust.
 

‘Something is definitely wrong...’
 

“Hey Big Guy! What’s up?”, D'Argo softly groaned, with an introduction like that it could only be Crichton.
 

“Greetings John”, he uttered respectfully, casting his Luxan gaze upon his friend and ally’s human face, “Okay we are going the formal way...”, Crichton spread his arms wide, ceremoniously bowing his head, “Greetings my Luxan compatriot...”, his voice accentuated with a thick alien accent (a poor British imitation) D'Argo had never heard before, John’s words sharply emphasized by the bizarre human drawl.
 

D'Argo’s face contorting slightly in confusion, “How can you...how do you do that?”.
 

“Do what sir?”, the accent descending from Crichton’s lips, “That Crichton?”. John’s left brow rising in a seemingly questioning gesture, “What exactly are you implying sir? Are you criticising the manner in which I speak sir?”, “Crichton I...”, D'Argo sighed realising the implied joke, a broad grin forming across his lips, “You need to develop a better sense of humour John, that little example was slightly pathetic”.
 

Crichton’s face diffused with colour, his eyes widening mouth agape, he stared flabbergasted.
 

Five microts passed in complete silence.
 

“John I didn’t mean any offence”, D'Argo uttered apologetically. A broad smile playing across Crichton’s face, forming a mocking grin, “Don’t worry about it Big Guy you didn’t hurt my feelings...Much”, his last word uttered with a slight whimper, to receive a further confused look from D'Argo.
 

Crichton expressing a contented chuckle.
 

“I will never be able to understand you Human. Never”.
 

“Never, say never D'Argo it just might happen”.
 

Rolling his Luxan eyes, D'Argo shook his head, as a soft chuckle echoed from his own lips. John had just confirmed his belief.
 

D'Argo’s Luxan humour ebbing to silence as his mind returned to the subject of his mysterious Chiana, his face settling into a cooled mask of worry.
 

“D'Argo something’s bothering you Big Guy, Zhaan said you were up here by yourself, I thought I’d mosey on over and see what the problem was, you can talk to me Big Guy...Anytime your ready”.
 

D’Argo sighed, ‘If there is anyone worse to confide in, than Crichton’s not completely unpleasant...’
 

“Its Chiana, I’m worried about her John”.

* * * * * * * * *

Pilot’s Den...
 

Pilot sighed the DRD’s were still unable to find Dominar Rygel, fifteen microts more was all the time he was willing to allocate, until he sent warning to Chiana.

* * * * * * * * *

Moya’s Ventilation Shaft... a few hentas from Rygel’s quarters

Rygel puffed, twisting and turning, wriggling his Hynerian body through Moya’s Ventilation Shaft, ‘I can’t be that far away from my quarters...oof, these blasted air-ducts have shrunk since I last ventured through them...’ Rygel writhed undignified, trying to squeeze his backside around a rather obscure corner, ‘They’ve definitely gotten smaller...’ Or had Rygel gotten bigger?
 

“You are to report alone to the fifteenth building located in the southern back-alley of Toron' Shor...”.
 

Rygel ceasing his wriggling, his hearing focusing on the strangely feminine voice, one he didn’t recognize.
 

“The fifteenth building has one window, a single candle will be burning on the ledge of that window, you are to approach the building from the northern side, a door will be slightly ajar, you are to knock three times upon this door and then enter...”.
 

“You will then be received by a Nebari Official, remember Chiana, any deviation from the rule will result in the immediate relay of the co-ordinates of Moya’s current position to the Peacekeeper High Council, I know it is not your wish to endanger the lives of your fellow crewmates...”.
 

‘What in the frell is going on?’
 

The strange feminine voice, echoing from the direction of Chiana’s quarters, which were directly neighbouring Rygel’s own.
 

‘What has that frelling Nebari witch done? BETRAYAL?’
 

Rygel froze horrified at the concept, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
 

‘I should have suspected as much! That wretched Nebari...’ Rygel gasped as three pairs of tiny light-bulb eyes approached him, from the front. A small army of DRD’s flanking his escape, he tried desperately to turn around, casting worried eyes over his shoulder Rygel saw several other DRD’s converging behind his backside. All escape abolished.

* * * * * * * * *

“Chiana! Rygel is in the Ventilation Systems!”.
 

Pilot’s voice abruptly issuing through Chiana’s com-badge.
 

Raising her eyes she quickly deactivated the holo-recording of Yaleshan, casting it safely beneath the golden folds of the blanket adorning her sleeping platform.
 

‘You frelling Toad Rygel! This is the last disturbance I need!’

She wondered how much he had heard, if he had heard anything.
 

Swiftly rising upon her feet, Chiana moved towards the nearest wall of her quarters, placing her Nebari ear against the cool golden metal, muffled gasps and groans, with the familiar sound of material shifting over metal issuing through the ventilation system. Rygel was close, she had to intercept him immediately before he crawled to freedom.
 

Tapping her com-badge, “Pilot seal off the Ventilation Shaft running directly above my quarters”, “Affirmed, the DRD’s have cornered his Eminence within the southern end of the shaft”, “Herd him towards the grating directly above my quarters, if I loosen the grips on the underside, he should fall through”. “Is that wise Chiana?”, “We don’t have a choice Pilot”, “Affirmative”.

* * * * * * * * *

Moya’s Ventilation Shaft, directly above Chiana’s quarters...
 

Rygel puffed as he crawled on hands and knees through the air-duct the frelling DRD’s were herding him towards Chiana’s quarters, Rygel tried desperately to turn around, alas his buttocks received a painful cannon sting from an adventurous DRD.
 

Gasping, Rygel jumped forward landing heavily on the purposefully loosened grating directly above Chiana’s quarters.
 

“Whoa...”.
 

The solidity of the grating collapsing as Rygel fell, arms flailing.

* * * * * * * * *

“Bingo! I frelling caught you, you snooping Hynerian toad!”, Chiana nimbly caught Rygel expertly in her arms, using one of Crichton’s expressive Human words, that seemed oddly appropriate for this little game of cat and mouse.
 

Ironically, Rygel was heavier than she had anticipated, as both Nebari and Hynerian fell heavily onto the floor of Chiana’s quarters in a flailing heap of arms and legs.
 

Far above the DRD’s casting their miniature light-bulb eyes downwards through the loosened grating, gazing upon the fallen pair, now roughly tumbling together, as Chiana wrestled Rygel to the floor, pining his grey Hynerian head beneath her padded knee, her free arm twisting his own short arm behind his back.
 

“Let me go you Nebari Tralk! Ooh...”, Rygel screeched as Chiana painfully twisted his delicately fleshed arm. “You were spying on me you little Toad!”.
 

“You’re going to betray us! Deceitful witch! I heard every word of your twisted dealings with those blasted Nebari Officials! You lied to us! Ooh...”.
 

“Listen to me your Eminence you didn’t hear anything do you understand! You heard nothing!”, twisting his arm once more.
 

“You can‘t threaten me you traitor!”, Chiana’s hand gripped Rygel’s throat as she turned him over, his eyes sighting her face.
 

“You can’t talk Rygel, you’ve betrayed the others more than once! And if you tell anyone what you heard I will make your life Unbearable”, pulling her face menacingly closer to his, Chiana’s dark Nebari gaze piercingly torrid. “How dare you threaten me!”.
 

“It’s not a threat Rygel it’s a fact! I know more than my fair share of your dark little secrets, including the time you secretly bet and transferred a quarter of Moya’s food supplies to the Quashai in payment for a game of Tadek you lost, apart from that I know a frag of a lot more of your many devious little mysteries, your Eminence and I’m not in the least afraid to reveal them”.
 

“What makes you think that I won’t confess what I heard to the others, your threats are meaningless!”.
 

“Oh really Rygel?”, she asked tilting and rolling her eyes, “Because if the others find out half of the things you’ve done, D'Argo and Aeryn won‘t be the only ones waiting in line to carve your devious little hide into tiny, fleshy, pieces ”.
 

Rygel fell silent, “Fine I’ll keep my mouth shut as long as you keep yours sealed! Agreed?”.
 

Chiana smiled, “I’m not that trusting Rygel, just know that I’ll be watching you and so will the DRD’s” she gestured towards the DRD with the blue electrical tape wound around it’s eye stalk, as it persuasively extended its miniature cannon.
 

“In this case your Eminence, just be careful”.
 

A disgusted grimace played across his grey face, “Get off me!”, he growled, eyes narrowing. Chiana reluctantly released him, the blue-taped DRD escorted his waddling Eminence from Chiana’s quarters into the tier-way.
 

Chiana sighed, relieved that Rygel was gone, this was the last thing she needed on her mind.
 

Threatening Rygel had seemed the only possible device, to guarantee his silence.
 

She would make sure he kept it.

* * * * * * * * *

A weeken later...Present time, in the darkening back-alleys of Toron’ Shor.
 

‘The fifteenth building with one window’, Chiana spotted the building and a solitary window, a lonely candle burning on its ledge, a shimmering amber, glowing radiantly within the strengthening darkness of night.
 

‘Approach from the northern side...’ Chiana briskly made her way along the building’s northern wall, as she fell across a half opened door-way, ‘Knock three times and enter’. A faint hum echoed behind her, Chiana abruptly turning her head, listening intently, ‘What in the frell?’
 

Brow-furrowing Chiana shook her head, and proceeding on her way.

* * * * * * * * *

Rygel abruptly pulled his thronesled against the cool stone of the building’s northern wall, Chiana’s liquid dark eyes gazing in his direction, ‘Frell she almost saw me!’ he sighed in relief when she finally turned away and headed towards a half-concealed doorway, that was slightly ajar.
 

Rygel had been following her ever since she had secretly taken one of Moya’s transport pods, descending planetside, he wondered what she was up too.
 

Concealed, as he stealthily stowed himself away in a secret compartment in the rear of the transport. After they had landed, Rygel had let Chiana depart first, following cautiously behind.
 

Rygel recalled the strange feminine voice, “You will report alone to the fifteenth building...the building has one window...a candle will be burning on the ledge of that window...”, everything that he had heard that fated evening a weeken ago had come to pass. Rygel wondered what Chiana was in for, as he silently continued to follow her.

* * * * * * * * *

Chiana approached the open door, knocking on its rough wooden surface, the pungent odour of burning wood, wafting to her sensitive nostrils.
 

‘Knock, knock, knock’, the dull thudding echoing hollowly in the cooling night air.
 

“You may enter young Nebari”, Yaleshan’s familiar feminine voice beckoning.
 

Gently pushing, the door slid open, to reveal Yaleshan’s black cloaked back, Chiana ventured uncertainly into the heart of the building, her liquid dark Nebari eyes adjusting to the dim light within, as a flaring fire crackled and sparked, hungrily consuming several sun-dried logs of wood, Yaleshan casually tossed upon it.
 

A pale blue-grey skinned face silhouetted in a soft amber glow, tilting towards Chiana, Yaleshan gazed upon her, observing the Nebari youth she had spent little more than half a cycle searching for.
 

“These streets grow cold in the evening”.
 

“I’m here...”, Chiana voiced uncertainly.
 

Yaleshan’s pallid head nodded, “You are indeed Chiana, but you did not come alone, you have brought company”.
 

Chiana’s brow furrowed in confusion, “I came alone as you requested”.

Yaleshan rouse on her feet, a full head taller than Chiana, clothed in the travelling cloak of a Nebari Official she was quite imposing. “You are already familiar with the consequences of your actions”.
 

“I came alone like I told you...I...”.
 

Chiana stared in disbelief. Her voice trailing to silence as a Nebari guard emerged from the shadows, grasping Rygel’s familiar crimson robed body in their embrace, a pulse-rifle resting against the Hynerian Dominar’s head. The guard handed Yaleshan a small slightly ovoid golden-tinged object.
 

Rygel’s com-badge.
 

Gently cradling it within the palm of her be-gloved hand, Yaleshan gazed silently upon Chiana.
 

“As I have said Chiana you did not come alone, therefore our original agreement has been violated. We will transmit Moya’s current co-ordinates to the Peacekeeper High Council, their vessels are within eighty metras from this planet‘s orbit, it will take but a few microts for them to intercept our transmission”.
 

“Wait!, Yaleshan can’t we...”.
 

“I stowed away in the transport pod she secretly boarded from Moya, she was unknowing, I followed her of my own volition”, Rygel raised his Hynerian head confessing his actions.
 

Yaleshan cast her gaze from the Hynerian to Chiana, “Why should I believe you Hynerian, after all your species expresses an excellent aptitude for untruths”.
 

“Believe what you will”.
 

Yaleshan gazed solemnly upon Rygel, “We’re there any others?”, she asked coolly questioning her guards, “No Commander”.
 

“Very well, I sense an odd truth in your words Dominar Rygel...”, his Eminence’s eyes skimmed disbelievingly across her pale bluish-grey Nebari face, so akin to Chiana’s own. “You wonder how I know your name your Highness, indeed information of the XVI disposed Hynerian Royal is common knowledge even this far into the uncharted sectors of space, I know more than you would appreciate your Highness...”.
 

Yaleshan turning towards her youthful Nebari guest “Very well Chiana, you were true to your word, I will not transmit Moya’s location to the Council. For now however you will be taken into custody, as I, Yaleshan Representative of the Nebari Council of Justice arrest you for the murder of Salis Volekrin”.
 

Yaleshan removed a slave-collar from her cloak, approaching Chiana, she placed it around the young Nebari’s youthful neck. Chiana, unflinching. With a gentle click the collar sealing in position.
 

“Criminals are never truly able to escape justice Chiana, it finds them again one way or another”.
 

A further Nebari guard emerged from the shadows gently taking Chiana’s wrists he slipped a pair of hand-locks (handcuffs) over their suppleness, “Escort her to the ship and to her holding cell. As you should know Chiana, we have improved the locking mechanisms upon the cell doors, should you feel curious enough to try to tamper with them you will receive a most unpleasant surprise”.
 

‘We are well aware of your unique abilities my young thief’.

“On the contrary I believe it is you who will receive a most unpleasant surprise”.
 

Aeryn emerged from the darkening shadows of the building’s interior a pulse rifle comfortably nestled within her experienced hands, her finger lying delicately upon the trigger as she aimed the rifle’s barrel directly at Yaleshan’s chest. The Nebari Official’s guard’s fingers rapidly moving to their own weapons. “Cease and desist!, I for one don’t really think you want to do that”, Crichton also emerged armed with his own rifle pointed in the direction of the guard’s, he gazed solemnly upon Yaleshan’s pallid Nebari face, “Sorry to spoil your little gathering here darling but I think you have someone there who belongs to us”.
 

D'Argo entered the scene carrying his qualta-blade converted into a pulse-rifle superbly aimed at the guard standing beside Chiana, he swiftly moved towards the Nebari and raising his rifle, abruptly striking the Nebari guard upon the head knocking him to the floor.
 

“Release him”, Aeryn’s voice cool and calculated, the Nebari guard holding Rygel casting an uncertain glance at his Commander, Yaleshan nodded. Rygel fell from the guard’s embrace to land in a crumpled heap on the rock-hard floor of the building. “Sparky pull yourself together!”, Crichton growled. “Where’s Hynerian boy’s throne your blueness?”, his azure gaze falling upon Yaleshan’s pallid face, “I’ll ask again where’s Hynerian boy’s throne?”. “Bring it forward”, Yaleshan breathed softly, as the guard that had held Rygel moved warily backward to expose the throne bobbing forlornly in the air behind him. With a cautioning glance at his Commander the guard gently placed his hands upon the throne and pushed it towards Crichton.
 

“Thank you so very much, now just back off”, Crichton warily approached them, his rifle still aimed he gently bent down to lend Rygel a helping arm, as he gently raised the elder Hynerian to his wobbly feet, “I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself you human ingrate”. “Shut your hole Rygel and plant your grey but down on that throne before we decide to leave you with your little Nebari pals here”, Rygel glanced at Yaleshan, swiftly sealing his lips shut.
 

“Drop your weapons and kick them across the floor to us”, Aeryn’s Peacekeeper intelligence rippling like lightning as she instructed Yaleshan’s guards to disarm themselves, each casting an uncertain glance upon their Commander. “Don’t force me to persuade your co-operation”.
 

Chiana’s dark eyes fell forlornly upon D'Argo’s Luxan face as he removed the handlocks incarcerating her wrists, “How did you all?...”, her voice trailing to silence as Aeryn answered her unfinished question. “Pilot confessed everything Chiana, we‘ll discuss this little matter in greater depth when we ‘all’ return to Moya”, her grey eyes falling upon Yaleshan’s blue-grey Nebari complexion.
 

Chiana gasped as D'Argo’s cold fingers gently tried to loosen the slave-collar encircling her neck, “Come on big guy we don’t have much time here, Zhaan will be miss...”, an abruptly brilliant flash of luminescent blue light hurled the huge Luxan warrior effortlessly through the air, as he was flung backwards to slam onto the unyielding solidity of the building’s rock floor. “D'Argo!”, a sharp pained gasp issuing from his lips, as sweet oxygenated air whooshed from his lungs in a rapid torrent. Blue-white radiance, crackling over his chest and abdomen, electrifying his crimson clothing. “D'Argo!”, Crichton rushing to his comrade’s side as he swiftly bent down and gently touched his Luxan compatriot’s shoulder, “John!, don’t touch him!”, Chiana’s fright-filled voice earnestly calling, “John no!”. Crichton was pitched backward as the electrical current leapt from D'Argo’s traumatized body to his, the luminescent energy burning, “NO!”.
 

“Crichton!, what in the Frell have you done to them!”, Aeryn rushed forward placing her rifle against Yaleshan’s black cloaked chest, “Answer me!”. Yaleshan solemnly gazed upon the former-Peacekeeper suddenly retreating a step backward as a glimmering silver metallic orb floated buoyantly in the air before her. Aeryn’s eyes widened in astonishment as brilliant blue-white lightning emitted itself from the orb, crackling mercilessly as the energy collided, striking her squarely in the chest, as the electrical shock reverberated, delivering her into the sweet embrace of unconsciousness.
 

Yaleshan continued to solemnly gaze as the former-Peacekeeper struck the firm floor of the building, the orb hovering over her comatose body seemingly investigating the effectiveness of its devious work. Rygel’s thronesled floating warily out of reach as the orb careened towards him, “What have you done to them?”, he voiced uncertainly as the orb hovered before him, suspended within the invisible air until it wistfully returned to Yaleshan’s outstretched hand, landing delicately within the tender flesh of her palm. “An Electroshock Orb your Eminence has its own unique use, do not fret over the predicaments of your fellows they will recover in a few arns complete with their health and their lives, if not a slight head-ache”. “You frelling Heck-slah-neh!”, Chiana’s shouting voice echoing above Rygel’s confusion.
 

Yaleshan’s guards swiftly re-handcuffed the young Nebari delinquent, “Escort our guest to the ship and to her holding cell”, Chiana forlornly struggling as she was hauled away.
 

“I suggest you return to your vessel your Eminence, the events played out here on this cold night no longer concern you”.
 

Rygel gazing upon Yaleshan’s solemn visage, to descend upon the comatose forms of his fellow crewmates.
 

“What will you do with Chiana?”, he asked softly.
 

“As I said your Eminence, the situation does not bare your concern”.
 

“What will you do with her?” Rygel asked indignantly.
 

“Why do you concern yourself for her Dominar Rygel? Chiana is a thief and a tralk, ‘You’ are Royalty”, Yaleshan replied softly.
 

“I ‘was’ Royalty, but even I have learnt valuable lessons, alternate from that pompous, arrogant and pretentious lifestyle!”.
 

“Indeed, I would never have suspected, from my knowledge of your kind your Highness, you raise your own selfish egotistical needs and desires above the basic needs and desires of your subjects, satisfying your own self centred fancies and such before the welfare and well-being of your deluded subjects who follow your kind blindly still. Worshiping the very earth your arrogant people tread upon, using loyal subjugation and delicate manipulation to gain your desired purposes, how truly barbaric”.
 

Rygel’s eyes narrowed, “You can stand there and criticise my people’s practices, yet you yourself, a creature born from a delusional society of misguided fools, who are so twisted in their Beliefs of Conformity that you engineer the freethinking individuals of your society into thick witted automatons through the process of your precious ‘Mental Cleansing’. If my people are barbaric than yours are the very Apex of the mountain of Immorality”.
 

“Indeed, the Nebari are as you say your Eminence, but that bares no significance, every society has the same vigilant seed of Corruption”, Rygel blinked in astonishment.
 

“Chiana after all is a prime example of such a ‘Freethinking’ Individual”.
 

“Why are you doing this to her?”.
 

Yaleshan gazed upon him silently, “Because your Eminence, Justice in itself must be served and for murder the toll is heavy, Chiana has broken that imperative and she must compensate for her crime. I have been searching for her for some time, the rest is insignificant”.
 

“What will happen to her?”
 

“Chiana will be transported to a Penal Complex known as Neisha Five, there she will appear before the Nebari Council of Justice. A trial will be held. Chiana will be presented by a representative of her choosing, who will argue her cause, presenting evidence for a declaration of innocence against her opposition, who will present evidence for a declaration of guilt. This will then be followed by one of two outcomes. A formal pardon, upon which Chiana will be cleared of all charges, or a formal proclamation of guilt, in which she will immediately serve the preceded sentence”.
 

“And what is that?”.
 

“Mental Cleansing, in which Chiana’s mentality is corrected, upon completion, this will be followed by direct execution”.
 

“Your species is less forgiving than the Peacekeepers!”.
 

Yaleshan carefully tossed Rygel’s com-badge into his waiting hands.
 

“Perhaps, but our methods are not to be questioned by you, your Highness. Return to your vessel and forget this encounter”.
 

“Who will represent her?”, “As I said your Eminence, Chiana will be presented by a representative of her own choosing, who that being is will be decided by her”.
 

“A Last request, how truly generous”.
 

Turning her back upon Rygel Yaleshan moved to depart from the building, the fire still gently shimmering, casting a warm amber-orange glow upon her cloaked back.
 

“Farewell your Eminence, be thankful that the Peacekeepers have not yet located Moya and your fellow crew mates, they I suspect will be even less forgiving than we”.
 

“I suggest you contact your vessel you Eminence as I believe you will require aide in returning yourself and your unfortunate crewmembers aboard. This encounter was fairly tame your Eminence, after all our little interaction here did not involve casualties you should therefore appreciate the fact that we did not encounter you and your comrades while aboard our own vessel, after all do you not remember the Zelbinian‘s fate?”.
 

Departing from sight, Rygel was left isolated in the growing darkness.

* * * * * * * * *

Aboard Yaleshan’s Nebari cruiser...
 

Chiana curled up in her holding cell, lying her youthful frame upon the soft resting platform, it would be three solar days journey before they reached Neisha Five, she might as well sleep until then.
 

Easing her weary head upon the pillow, Chiana’s heart was choked by grief as wet, moist tears streamed down her cheeks, the uncertain future beckoning her forward into its silent embrace.

* * * * * * * * *

Rygel gazed silently upon his com-badge, gently tapping it he contacted Moya.
 

“This is Dominar Rygel the XVI of Hyneria, do you respond?”.
 

Zhaan’s musical Delvian voice echoing through the com-badge, “Rygel what has happened?, why have you all not returned with Chiana?”.

“I can’t explain everything right at this moment, I need you to come immediately with a second transport pod, something unfortunate has occurred”, “What!, expalin Rygel!”, “I told you I can’t!, just get your frelling backside down here NOW!!”.
 

TO BE CONTINUED???