"Where are we?"
He doesn't remember falling, remembers nothing but the blinding wash of energy building from Talyn's stern to envelop them both, gathering strength for that first great leap. Emerging into cold space once more, and there is nothing but stars, infinity yawning above and below him. Sudden vertigo seizes him, a feeling he hasn't known since his first spacewalk as a cadet; this time there is no tether, no transport ship hanging alongside. He is the ship, the ship is him, they are one and he sees what Talyn sees, feels what Talyn feels, Talyn's perceptions overwhelming his own as heat bleeds off his hull, excess starburst energy dissipating in the cold of space.
Only intense concentration pulls his mind back from Talyn's far enough to see that he's lying prone on the deck. A bewildering array of unfamiliar sensations press the edges of his consciousness, the gunship's sensor readings feeding directly into his head, signals his mind does not yet know how to process. He grips the edge of the sensor console, drags himself to his feet. Familiar Peacekeeper symbols stream across the screen, tell him this space is empty; if he closes his eyes, he can hear the silence on Talyn's long-range comms.
They have escaped.
"Well done." The words are hoarse but proud, and he almost smiles at Talyn's response, delight accompanied by an ascending chorus of beeps.
The ship's sleeping quarters are bare save for a gold thermal blanket brought over from Moya, but he is far too exhausted to care. Starburst has drained much of Talyn's strength, and he cannot remember when he slept last, could not afford to with Scorpius and Aeryn Sun both waiting for him to let his guard down.
He sinks down to sit on the bed, bruised ribs protesting painfully as he bends to remove his boots. His head pounds, dizzy from fatigue and this new, strange double-vision. He sees himself, head bowed, blood still trickling down the back of his neck; at the same time he sees the deck under his feet and the stars beneath them, metal plates at once opaque and transparent. A thousand new and different sensations assault him at once, power such as he has never known, but it is too much for his battered mind to absorb right now. He is alone on the ship, and he risks nothing by removing the transponder temporarily. He fears he will never be able to sleep unless he does.
Even through the constant streams of unintelligible sensor data, he can feel Talyn's consternation as he lifts one hand to the back of his neck. "Talyn." Where are you going don't leave again please don't leave and he squeezes his eyes shut, pressing both hands to his temples. The gunship is still wild and skittish, in need of reassurance. "I am not leaving."
This ship is his only hope of survival--shelter, defense and transport all in one; what makes Talyn think he would abandon him? He reaches out, rests one hand against the bulkhead, smooth surface warm even through his glove. The young ship's fear pounds at him, and he sees himself, images flickering against closed eyelids, Crichton with a gun dragging him away.
"There is no one here but you and I," he says, patting the bulkhead uncertainly. A surge of enthusiastic, childlike affection swamps the link, spontaneous and unaffected, surprising him in its intensity.
This ship craves affection as much as approval from him, he realizes, despite his Peacekeeper design. And this time a weary smile cracks his face, surprise and a perverse kind of pride. Talyn is no child of the Peacekeepers. We are neither of us, he thinks, what we were made to be.
Raw memories flicker, and he sees Tauvo standing at the carrier's viewport, watching a Prowler formation for the first time. I want one of those, wide eyes holding his, never doubting he could make it happen. He opens his eyes, smile fading as he stares at the ceiling. After a long moment he pulls off his gloves, brushing his hand along the warm bulkhead once more as he works the transponder free from its socket.
"I'm still here." Talyn's anxious beeps gradually slow as his fingers stroke the bulkhead. In the absence of distractions, his neck still aches, pain shooting along raw nerves when he turns his head. "Still here," he says again, as much to reassure himself as Talyn. Lessons of his childhood, set aside but never abandoned, pain that tells him he is still alive. Alive and free.
It is a new concept, and elusive, too much for his exhausted mind to grasp now. He crawls under the blanket, closes his eyes and lets the engines' hum lull him to sleep.
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Title: Far From Home
Author: Flora [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | PG | gen | 4k | 03/03/05
Characters: Crais, Talyn
Summary: They are neither of them what they were made to be.
Notes: Spoilers through "Mind the Baby".
Disclaimer/Other: Written for Kernezelda for the Crais ficathon. Thanks so much to StarsGoBlue for betaing this! *g* I don't own any of these characters, I'm not making any money off of this, please don't sue.
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