Scorpius contemplated the plant from a carefully calculated distance, trailing a finger through the air for the lurid snapping mouths to follow. His skin still stung a little where he had allowed it to catch his ungloved hand - its digestive juices were mildly corrosive; something that would certainly have to be kept quiet. Experimentally, he clicked his fingers, watching with interest as it curled up on itself. Obviously it had ears of some variety, or at least a capacity to sense vibrations in the air. A curious evolutionary development; carnivorous fauna that was no longer entirely content to wait for prey to be lured in with enticing colours and scents. Something similar must have occurred during the development of Delvians and other sentient plant species. After their recent experiences with exotic vegetation, he was surprised that the others had allowed Sikozu to bring it aboard.
She had said something about it 'brightening up the place', and the red blooms certainly did that. Easily bored herself, she probably saw his empty cell as a more confining space than it was from his perspective. Scorpius was glad to find that he had not yet become so accustomed to having possessions that losing them all was any real hardship. The loss of the weapon he had thought to turn against the Scarrans was a serious setback; but there were other opportunities open to him here.
Still, he wondered if the nagging regret over the loss of his laboratory was a sign that he was growing old - the difference between Scarran and Sebacean lifespans being so great that he could not tell easily by counting cycles, and his biological state never being a good measure of anything. This change of lifestyle had been different. Harsher. This time, for the first time, he had lost a way of life that he had chosen after much thought and planning. For the first time he had been forced to abandon an existence he had considered satisfactory. After all that, to keep only the name he had made and used among the Peace Keepers seemed a terrible waste.
Yet for all the griping his shipmates did about their own plight, and for all that they probably considered his own - deprived of position and belongings, forced to rely on enemies for shelter - far worse, Scorpius was not entirely displeased by this turn of events. He had learned more about being a fugitive in the Uncharted Territories than John Crichton would ever know before he was fully grown. There was a familiarity about it, even aspects to welcome. It was pleasant to be moving on, seeing new sights, and there was a certain freedom in being outside the hierarchy again. There was no army at his back, now, but perhaps he would acquire something better. He had no doubt that he was going forward, even if the path was hard, and with the suit on his back and a supply of cooling rods he could survive almost anything. He would, as always, make the best of things.
He had to hide a smile the first time Sikozu told him, full of unshakable confidence, that she was going to take her life back. Of course it was easy for him to smile - the first time he had lost all that he'd known he was more than delighted to discard it. He was never as young as she was now. Even so, she had a great deal to learn. Assuming she would listen to him.
The first lesson was to throw almost everything away. Keep enough hatred and determination to drive you. Cast the rest aside.
The second lesson was to use whatever you were given while you had it.
Sikozu, thinking to get into his good graces, disparaged the other passengers of the Leviathan to him all the time. Her astonishment at their ignorance was not feigned; she came from a place where knowledge truly was power and it coloured her vision. She saw him as an intellectual equal, and he chose not to disillusion her.
Although she was fast becoming the most potentially useful member of the crew, Scorpius did not underestimate the others. Aeryn Sun had brought him here, and she was his most reliable ally in her strictly limited capacity. She had kept the ideals of loyalty she was raised with, and made him a promise that she would not break easily. The Dominar was a deal-maker, and once a power to be reckoned with. The others might dismiss him out of hand, but Scorpius had seen too much to make such an easy mistake. The Hynerian Empire could be a useful thing indeed against the Scarrans, and the enemy of his enemy was a potential tool. The Luxan could no doubt be handled, once Scorpius found the correct levers to employ. Chiana reminded him of thousands of young women he had met in this region of space - bright and hard and brittle as diamond. Something had broken in her, badly, and he was more than idly curious to know what it might be. Noranti made him uneasy - an unknown quantity, and untrustworthy. She had taken to visiting his cell in a cloud of strange odours, making cryptic remarks. He did not like that.
Scorpius needed John Crichton. For all the depths of the other man's distrust and neurosis, he was still a fundamentally rational being. Eventually he must listen to reason.
All in all, if he had to be trapped and forced to depend on a collection of outcasts, criminals, liars and terrorists he was glad that it was this collection of outcasts, criminals, liars and terrorists. They had, in place of direction, cohesion or resources, pure distilled luck.
The third lesson was that luck always counted more than you wanted it to. No matter how much intelligence or determination you had, there was always a chance of failure. The universe could not afford Scorpius's failure, and so he would not fail.
Sikozu was proof that not all unexpected circumstances were unpleasant. It seemed that there was always a pretty, clever girl when he needed one, and Scorpius accepted long ago that he could not rely solely on himself and the body that made a cripple of him far too often. He had an autodidact's disdain for formal education, but Sikozu, with a little time and worldly wisdom, would impress him yet. Information was a light cargo, and she carried plenty of that.
She was, in addition to being brilliant and arrogant, endlessly curious - a mixed blessing at best. He had never encouraged that particular trait among his minions; better to have someone who would do as he asked and not look too far ahead. She never sat back and waited for a story to come to her; she chased after knowledge as if she could catch and hold it in her hands. Scorpius, for whom patience was a learned rather than a natural virtue, understood that all too well.
Sikozu knew more about Scarrans than anyone else on board, which counted as a basic survival skill among the Kalish. She wanted to know about the traits he shared with them. Sometimes, that was useful - she deduced before he told her that he must logically require more calories and protein than the Sebacean-sized rations the crew had him on would provide. Since she herself ate nothing most of the time, it was not difficult for her to bring extra food. On the other hand, she had also observed that his eyes were highly unusual, and the fewer people who know about his inbuilt lie-detector, the better. He confessed his need for vitamins that he could not digest, and she brought him a hypodermic. He hadn't yet asked her for pain killers. It wasn't as if he was addicted, and the pain didn't keep him awake more than one night in three these days.
She asked him how it was that he survived the gunfire, and he drew her hand through the bars, placed it against his chest, showed her the body armor. She asked how he survived his burial, and he told her about Scarran lung capacity, the oxygen in the suit, and the way he had almost dug his way to the surface when he felt the searing magnetic heat and had to burrow back down again. That made her laugh, and the sound was not displeasing even if he was recalling the sensation of lying wounded and confused in the dirt, hardly able to inhale what little air there was through the haze of pain.
The fascination was not entirely one-sided, of course. They were strangely alike in their tough yet vulnerable biology. He saw that this confused her - his system was astonishingly inefficient, and she prized efficiency above all else. She would learn that there were other qualities that mattered out here, if she lived long enough.
He had heard plenty about the Kalish from his foster mother, cited as an example of terrible weakness by the Scarrans. Sikozu was not weak, but truly remarkable. Early on, she put her hand through the door, showed him the place where it was severed at the wrist and reattached. Her veins and tendons were as fine and strong as a Daegan spinner's web, no wider than the filaments of a flower stem. She must weigh almost nothing, to eat so sparsely and walk on walls, but it made her delicate. There were a great many things that would poison her. If Sikozu was as canny as she thought she was, she'd wear something more to protect herself from ambient radiation than her own pale, glittering skin - not that he was going to complain about her state of dress. Scorpius could probably snap her in half without trying, if he wasn't careful. One day, he hoped to test her weight with his own hands and see if she was as fragile as she appeared.
He did not need to ask Sikozu many questions; she perched outside his cell whenever she had the chance and told him everything that came into her head - about the doings of the crew that he had no other way of seeing, about the Leviathan and her systems, about the earth game Crichton had taught her, herself. She was accustomed to approval, validation, to being lauded for her intellect. He gave her enough to keep her there day after day.
It took her a surprisingly long time to ask the obvious questions: why he saved her life, how he came to exist in the first place. In the first case, he simply told her that he thought she might be useful, and added that his judgement had proved correct. There could be other things that he needed. Since Grayza and Braca tortured him, since he dug is way out of the grave and fought his way onto Moya, he did not feel quite as robust as he used to. He told himself that all he needed was time to heal properly, but that was never certain.
When he told her how a Scarrans-Sebacean half-breed came to be in the first place, she left quickly. He thought about what a Scarran might do to a Kalish woman, and it was not difficult to understand why. She hated them, too, and he could use that hatred as effectively as he used his own. It was another thing that they had in common.
Looking at Sikozu, with her intelligence and knowledge, her efficiency and adaptability, he saw someone who should manage whatever the Uncharted Territories threw at her. Looking at himself in a mirror, he saw someone who should, according to logic, have been dead years ago. The fourth lesson was that you never knew who would survive out here.
He was determined, however, that he would be one who did, and that he would prevent the Scarrans from killing everyone else while he was about it. To accomplish that, he needed allies. Sikozu was not a bad beginning. Perhaps he was getting old enough to carry a little baggage.
Please post a comment on this story.
Title: Travelling Light
Author: Andraste [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | PG | het | 11k | 02/09/04
Characters: Scorpius, Sikozu
Summary: Sikozu brings flowers. Scorpius bides his time.
Notes: Many thanks to Alara Rogers for letting me borrow some of her theories about Scorpius's hybrid biology and betaing the fic. This story takes place some time after 'Natural Election' and before 'I Shrink, Therefore I Am'.
[top of page]
|Home/QuickSearch + Random + Upload + Search + Contact + GO List|