|One Man's Moment
(First posted January 18, 2002)
Rating: PG - but only because of the ugliness of the despair in the story.
Disclaimer: They aren’t mine, and I won’t profit from this, except to get them out of my head and on to the
paper where they might leave me in peace for a bit.
Time Frame/Spoilers: This is one moment from “Hidden Memory”, which was in response to a “Missing Scene
Challenge” on the Bulletin Board. I tried to convince my Muse to work on a more upbeat ‘missing scene’, but it
just kept coming back to this episode.
Note to the reader: If you are reading the fics in order, you’ll notice that up until now I’d been having a lot of
fun, heading primarily for humor, even if with a very warped streak controlling the direction of the stories. This
story was a break-through for me and changed the way I wrote from this point forward. ‘Voices Of Reason’ was
still growing at this point, approaching Chapter 8, and after writing this story and the next one (‘Bookends’), I
had to go back and heavily edit the first seven parts because my writing style had evolved so greatly. If you
look closely at ‘Voices Of Reason’, you can still find a fairly distinctive change in style that occurs between
Chapters 6 and 8.
* * * * *
He wrapped his arms around his midsection, and leaned closer to the pale light that found its way through the
grill. The diffuse light from the gas giant hanging over this moon didn’t provide any warmth, and the cold
seeped from the walls, taking over his body. The spasms had stopped for a time, but the cold and pain and
exhaustion had beaten him down, and the small convulsions began to wrack him once again.
“Can’t do it anymore. Can’t hold on. Gilina did her part -- got me some time -- but I didn’t do anything with the
time, couldn’t get out, can’t get out. I should have found a way.” He mumbled quietly, allowing his thoughts to
ramble just below hearing level. He glanced at Stark, but the Banik had fallen asleep in the far corner. “Should
have done something, gotta do something, gotta think of something.”
But every thought was itself a small torture, every time he tried to collect a coherent idea his mind ran like
water, images flowing without control. And his body was no better. His arms and legs had been numb and
useless ever since the guards dragged him back here and flung him carelessly inside. How much of this could
he stand before it killed him? Or crippled him? He was only human, not like the Banik, not like others, just
human. Would he be left motionless and crazy when Scorpius was through with him? Crying out his last days
“Gilina got me the time,” a short laugh broke out of him. He glanced up again, but Stark was still asleep. “Just
enough time so I can be stronger, and Scorpy can flambé my skull a little longer next time. Just enough longer
so I can give something more away. Gotta think about something else, anything else. Think about --” but there
seemed to be only pain and emptiness, all of his memories ripped from him leaving the tattered edges. What
had he given up? What had he shown Scorpius? He couldn’t remember.
What could he show him? What could he give him, what could he give up to turn him away from what he was
hiding? Show him … movies! Show him westerns. Show him John Wayne. No. NO! Can’t show him Earth,
he’s seen wormholes, he’s seen the equations, what if I’ve given him all of the equations? Have I given him all
he needs? I didn’t know I had it, couldn’t stop him from taking it. DON’T show him my home. Don’t show him
Gilina, don’t show him soft blonde hair and a light warm kiss on my eyebrow, don’t show him sweet smelling
raven’s wing black hair and a strong soldier’s body. Oh God, don’t show him Aeryn.
Give him the Duke, the Duke would have been strong, the Duke would have spit in his sunken, alien eye and
told him, “Well let’s see what you’ve got, Pilgrim!” The Duke wouldn’t have screamed like a child and begged
and begged for it to stop. The Duke would have found a way to go out guns blazing, not crying, tears
streaming like the visions ripped streaming from his mind. Not with tears and mucus and spit mixing and
dripping off his chin, and the screams and cries ripped from a throat that couldn‘t scream another scream. The
Duke wouldn’t … a man wouldn’t, a real man wouldn‘t.
“Just a damned scientist. Just out for a drive … just out for a three hour tour. I wasn’t supposed to have to do
this, Dad. I can’t be your kind of hero.” Don’t show him Dad, don’t show him Earth, don’t show him Gilina, don’t
give him Aeryn. “What did I give him, Dad, please tell me, what have I given him?” The spasms increased,
taking his breath away. Between those the shudders of cold shook his body until tears began to stream again.
Don’t want to be a hero, never wanted to be a hero, only wanted Aeryn to live, only wanted her to survive. Only
wanted to touch one more time the dark fragrant hair, yielding flesh over firm muscle when he had caught her,
stumbling, the first days when Moya had shaken and they had gone down together. NO! Don’t think of Aeryn,
don’t think of their times together, don’t think of the rare beautiful smile worth all the waiting. Don’t think of the
wit, and the eyes, the smile in the eyes when the rest of the face tries to hide it but it’s there for me to see.
When the gleam is there only for me and no one else. Don’t think of that, don’t show him that too.
And what did they really have anyway? Friendship? Family? “Don’t kid yourself, they’ll never come for a
higher reasoning defective alien who just tripped and fell down a hole to get here. Just Alice down the rabbit
hole.” Another short laugh lurched out of him on the end of a spasm. Stark stirred and sat up from where he
had been slumped in the corner, but didn’t say anything, only watched the shivering hunched figure on the
other side of the cell.
They’ll cook Crais soon, he’ll take time, but they’ll fry his brains, they don’t care, Scorpy doesn’t care. I can see
that. They’ll baste him till he’s done and then come back for me. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. They’ll have to
drag me out, like last time, like just so much meat without a soul, without a will, without the spine and nerves to
resist. He tried stretching and moving his legs, but the numbness hadn’t faded yet, the nerves would only
respond in part. He hadn’t been able to walk since … was it two? … or three trips ago to the chair? He couldn’t
There was a lightning quick zap each time just before the agony filled his skull, he tried to be ready each time,
tried to clamp his jaw shut against the screams each time. But it was always too quick, he was never ready for
the star of light and pain that ignited in his head, never ready for the flood that washed all his thoughts out and
left them stranded for Scorpy to see, for Scorpy to wade through his life, his memories … for Scorpy to wander
Footsteps rang in the corridor, more than one set of feet. “No.” The single word came out on a moan. It was
too soon, too soon. Crais hadn’t held on, hadn’t held up at all, a Peacekeeper captain should have taken
longer, should have taken hours, arns, days, shouldn‘t have given in so soon. He wasn’t ready, couldn’t be
ready, couldn’t keep them from scooping out Earth, and Gilina … and Aeryn. Couldn’t keep them from
reaching in with agony’s hands and ripping Aeryn and the others out of his mind. The footsteps came closer,
part of the cadence sounding familiar, but not. It was only wishful thinking, hoping for a rescue from this
impenetrable place. They had Aeryn back, they would run now and hide, and count their blessings that she
was well. She would live … as long as he didn’t give anything more to Scorpius.
He tried to sit up a little straighter … the Duke would be standing there smoking a cigarette, would flick it away
before they took him away, the least he could do is sit up straight. The footsteps stopped outside the cell
door. Why couldn’t it just kill him before he gave it all away … he didn’t want to give everything up, why couldn’t
he just get it over with and die before they got it all?
Voices … unbelievable voices. Voices from a delusion, a dream not a nightmare.
“Look, I’m not going to say this again! There is nothing in there!”
“I’m just telling you what I picked up from Crais’ Carrier.” The voice, that voice … he knew it wasn’t real, it was
wishful thinking turning someone else’s voice into what he wanted to hear. But the weakness of relief ran
through him anyway, leaving him shaken and shaking.
“What’s going on?” Stark hissed.
“Shhhh.” He didn’t dare try to speak, afraid the mirage would go away, and he would be left alone with his
weakness and fear.
“The sensors detected an unauthorized electromagnetic pulse coming from somewhere on this level.” The
voice of his dream was still there, just outside the door.
“There is no signal coming from in there.”
“Um hmmm.” Derision that had been focused on him so many times hummed in her throat.
“See? Nothing, absolutely nothing … What the frell is that?”
The cell door opened, Stark was suddenly on top of him, at his throat, crying in anger at the perceived
treachery, shaking him so he couldn’t see if it was true. There was a sharp crack and a thud as the
Peacekeeper lieutenant collapsed on the floor, and then they were both looking up from their tangle on the
floor, gazing astonished at the tall, energetic figure standing covering the open doorway with her pulse rifle.
“Who is she?” Stark breathed in amazement.
“That is … the radiant Aeryn Sun.” And she had come for him, she had come back for him. He staggered to
his feet, ready to go on again, ready to go anywhere she led him.
* ~ * ~ * ~* ~ *