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Per Manum [Farscape, PG-13]

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  • Andraste
    Disclaimer: I do not own Farscape , the Peacekeepers, or Larell. Everything else here is mine, but I make no money out of any of it. Rating: PG-13 for a some
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2004
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      Disclaimer: I do not own 'Farscape', the Peacekeepers, or Larell. Everything
      else here is mine, but I make no money out of any of it.

      Rating: PG-13 for a some reference to adult themes, I guess.

      Author's Note: Written for the X-Files title challenge on Farscape Friday.
      It means 'by hand' in Latin, and the episode in question was one of those
      dealing with alien impregnation. It seemed appropriate.

      Per Manum

      By Andraste

      "Everything appears to be normal."

      The designs spinning before her look little like a starship, but she has
      reached the point where her mind processes the lines and numbers on the
      screen automatically, turning them into the solid shape of a growing
      organism without conscious thought on her part.

      Larell senses rather than feels the lower-ranked tech's nod from beside her,
      eyes fixed on the display as the simulation repeats itself. She's certain
      that there was a flaw in the first hybrid's drexim distribution network, but
      the data they managed to salvage tells her nothing. Larrell frowns. This one
      seems perfectly healthy, and unlike the first it is being properly
      monitored, but still ...

      She has been very lucky so far.

      Even as she's drawing breath to ask for yet another viewing, the monitors
      flicker and die all around them, and her assistant curses. "Frell it. That's
      the third time today."

      Larrell shakes her head and sighs. "The nature of the project requires
      certain discomforts. It's too late to go on now - you are dismissed for the
      day."

      He nods, flicking his eyes over her body in a way that promises that he will
      see her later tonight. The project also has certain fringe benefits, and he
      is one of them.

      Instead of leaving the shadowy confines of the pregnant Leviathan herself,
      she paces around the laboratory, peering the rows of blank monitors and
      other devices. All designed to give her information about the creature
      that's growing somewhere beneath her feet, and none of them any use at all
      without power. The dim emergency lighting is on a backup system, but running
      everything off batteries would simply be impractical. The empty screens and
      the silence make her uneasy - what if these outages are the sign of a larger
      problem? They know so little about Leviathan reproduction; about what
      constitutes normality for a hybrid they know even less.

      The Pilot - pliant as such beings go, but still next to useless - is no help
      at all. It claims that its kind have little special knowledge of Leviathan
      breeding, which sounds ridiculous. Their species has been bonded to
      Leviathans for thousands of cycles at the least, and it seems impossible to
      Larell that they would not have closely investigated how Leviathans
      reproduce. Still, their most persuasive interrogators have not been able to
      obtain any useful information via the Pilot, so perhaps it is true. Larell
      will never understand aliens.

      She is just about to decide that the power is not going to come back soon
      and go to think things over in her quarters, when her superior officer
      appears in the doorway.

      "Captain Tannet," she says, snapping to attention. "I am afraid that now is
      not ..."

      "I will decide when it is a good time to inspect your progress, Lieutenant,"
      she says, not harshly. "At ease."

      Larell feels herself blush slightly as she relaxes her stance. Even after
      all this time, the effect of being intimate with her previous captain
      lingers - sometimes the protocols slip her mind. "Of course. I only meant
      that there is not much to see just now."

      "So I had noticed," the captain says with a smile. Then it fades, as she
      moves around the banks of dead equipment. "I hear this has been occurring
      regularly."

      "I am afraid so - I believe that it is a sign that the pregnancy is nearing
      its conclusion. Without a control collar, there is little we can do to
      maintain constant power flow. Luckily only a few tech are truly
      inconvenienced by it." The ship has been kept mostly empty, for the sake of
      safely when the ship goes into labour.

      "How soon will the hybrid be born?"

      "It's difficult to say. We have limited information, but I don't think it
      will take long now."

      She's inventing this out of nothing, and the captain knows that. Nobody has
      reliable data on how big the last one was when it was born. Tannet is kind
      enough to change the subject. "You believe that it will be born fit and
      healthy?"

      That is not a statement that Larell is prepared to stake her career on. "I
      think we - that I - have been lucky."

      Lucky that somebody dragged her unresisting body onto a Marauder, away from
      the destruction of her Command Carrier. Lucky that she managed to get a
      transfer away from Commandant Grayza. Lucky that the taint of failure - her
      own, and that of two separate commanding officers - has not prevented her
      from starting again on a new ship.

      Lucky that Tannet is hungry enough for advancement to take risks.

      "Luck may not be enough. You know that this is the last chance for both of
      us," the captain says, continuing to pace the room in the half dark, "that
      if the mother and offspring die, or the resulting ship is less than perfect,
      demotion will be the least we can expect."

      It is the closest Tannet has come to confiding in her, and Larell cannot
      help but relax fractionally: the captain understands that they are in this
      together. It may mean that she knows blaming the tech staff for her failure
      will not help her in the event of a disaster. Not that bringing the captain
      down along with her inferiors will be must of a consolation to Larell,
      should the worst happen.

      "I understand," she says. "I am ... grateful that you gave the Leviathan
      hybridization project another chance.

      There are few within Peacekeeper Command - highly placed or otherwise - who
      can see beyond the immediate threat of the Scarrans, these days. They are
      always seeking new weapons, but over the past few cycles they have ranged in
      smaller circles, looking for something to bring them quick and easy victory.

      No matter what Scorpius may have believed, there is more than one way to
      defend the Sebacean people. It is not only wormholes that can move troops
      quickly across enormous distances, and there is much to be said for

      superior firepower. The first ship may have been unstable, but he was a
      triumph even so - she only wishes she'd had more time to look it over. She
      believes that many of the problems Crais reported were due to the less than
      optimal conditions the ship was forced to survive so early in its life. This
      one will be treated like the valuable specimen it is. Larell already itches
      to stand on the deck of the new creation, and hopes she will be allowed to
      do so.

      "Your former commanding officer made things very difficult for me," Tannet
      says, with a wry smile. "For both of us, I expect."

      Larell tenses again - she does not wish to talk about Bialar Crais, and yet
      she can hardly look at Tannet and not think of him. It is not only that the
      woman is a recruit, as he was. They even look rather alike, with the same
      dark hair, worn longer than is traditional among Peacekeepers, tied firmly
      back. The same dark eyes and olive-toned skin. The colonies they were taken
      from must be in the same sector of space.

      Those eyes, though, lack Bialar's fire. And Larell is glad - she has had
      enough of fire to last her the rest of her life. She has decided that she
      prefers Tannet's calm regard.

      "He made things difficult for many people," she says neutrally.

      "Yet you still seem willing to carry on his legacy," Tannet says. "I find
      that somewhat puzzling, Lieutenant."

      "If I may speak freely," she says, "not everything Captain Crais
      accomplished should be wiped out by his treason. The ship I saw was a
      marvel - having one under Peacekeeper control will be well worth the trouble
      of creating another. Also, I do not think of this endevour as his alone. He
      was the sponsor of the last incarnation of the project, but he was not the
      first to attempt Leviathan hybridization. Nor was he the one who had the
      technical expertise to make it a reality."

      Tannet nods. "That is understandable; but I do not think it is a complete
      explanation. I read your last medical report, Larell," she says, "including
      the DNA test."

      She forces herself to go still, and push away the instinct that tells her to
      put her hands around her abdomen protectively. She had expected this to
      happen eventually. "That has nothing to do with any - attachment to his
      memory. I have none. If you suspect my loyalty, captain, then I will apply
      for a special termination."

      The Peacekeepers do not usually like to waste potential troops, but given
      the paternity they may understand her desire - her captain's desire - to be
      rid of it. She tries to tell herself that it would not feel like a betrayal
      of his memory, that she only hates him.

      The captain stops walking around and comes to stand in front of her,
      uncomfortably close. "But that is not what you want."

      Larell hesitates before answering. "I do not believe that Captain Crais'
      eventual corruption, contamination and madness were a result of genetic
      propensities. I believe that he made his own poor decisions. The child is as
      much mine as his. Still, if you think it necessary ..."

      Tannet shakes her head. "I, too, believe that we are more than the sum of
      our genetic herriatage - I would be in an awkward position if I did not.
      Crais made High Command harder on recruits at all levels, even as he made it
      easier for us when he first became captain. I would sooner not be judged by
      his actions at all - one day, no doubt, the child will feel the same."

      "If I may ask -" Larell said, then stopped herself.

      "Please, Lieutenant, go ahead."

      "If you wish to persuade them that you are not like him, initiating the
      creation of a new Leviathan hybrid seems a dangerous means of seeking
      promotion into High Command."

      Tannet nods. "Yes, that is true - but think of the response, if the project
      is successful. I will prove that I can do what he could not - if they must
      compare me to Crais, they will do so favourably. Which brings me to another
      question. When the offspring is born, it will require a Peacekeeper pilot."

      She nods. "There are a number of candidates among those under your command
      who may be suitable, although I have not examined their files closely."

      "I was not thinking of choosing someone to pilot the ship for me," Tannet
      says. "I would prefer to do it myself."

      Larell starts - this she had not expected, although in hindsight she should
      have. "I am not sure if that would be wise. From what little we know about
      it, the process is not without risk." She remembers the shock of removing
      Bialar's clothes, that last time, to find him covered in marks caused by the
      cybernetic bleedback.

      "Do you believe me incapable of the task? That it would cause in me the same
      instability it caused in Crais? That I am not to be trusted?" There is an
      edge of anger in her voice, although she is adept at hiding it.

      "Not at all," Larell says. "I fear he was already unstable long before he
      bonded with the ship. Yet there are physical as well as mental pressures
      involved. I understand your desire to handle this personally, but it may not
      be the most sensible course of action. To command such a ship alone would
      take your focus away from many other things that require your attention. It
      is a job that requires constant devotion."

      "I didn't say that I planned to do it alone," Tannet said. "I gather from
      your reports that Crais indicated that he had briefly shared command; with
      the other rogue Peacekeeper who was with him?"

      Larell nods tentatively. "Yes - but the time they spent sharing the neural
      link was too brief to produce reliable information, even by the standards of
      what I was able to learn from him. It would also require a high level of
      trust between co-pilots."

      "Can I trust *you*, Lieutenant Larell?"

      She finally realizes what she is being asked. "With my life and complete
      loyalty, captain." To experience neural bonding with the offspring, to feel
      the sensations that Bialar described so vaguely - she had not even dared to
      dream of it until now.

      "I believe that you are the person with the greatest personal investment in
      this hybrid, and that you are well-placed to care for it when it is born. I
      would be responsible for military decisions, of course, and you for
      maintaining the ship in good working order. Would this be acceptable to
      you?"

      "More than acceptable, captain," she says, and she cannot keep herself from
      smiling.

      The captain smiles back and puts a hand on her shoulder. "I look forward to
      working with you more closely in future, Larell."

      She nods - perhaps her assistant will have to find some other source of
      recreation tonight, after all - but before she can frame an appropriate
      response, the lights come back on and the monitors begin to start up again.

      "Ah," she says, "everything appears to be working again."

      "Hopefully it will remain functional long enough for you to find out what
      keeps going wrong," the captain says with another smile. "I will leave you
      to get back to work. Yout may contact me later if there is anything to
      report."

      Tannet strides out of the room full of confidence, purpose and calm
      determination, and Larell watches her go with a sense of satisfaction. She
      regards the images flickering into life on the screens with a new sense of
      possession. This will be *her* offspring, more so than the zygote she
      carries inside her or the products of previous assigned matings.

      And, although she would never admit it aloud to anyone, Bialar's too. Even
      if his name is now doomed to infamy, she has not quite forgotten all that he
      once was.

      Larell hopes that her luck will hold a little longer, and the offspring will
      be male. She has too many things to worry about without coming up with a new
      name as well.

      The End

      ***

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