Torch [Farscape, G]
- Disclaimer: They belong to others than I.
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I still write things that *aren't* Farscape shorts. Really I do. But heck,
another day, another Leviathan challenge. This one was to write about a
peripheral character in 1000 words or less, and you don't get a lot more
peripheral than this Peace Keeper. So no Crais in this one :). Should make
a fair bit of sense with no pre-existing knowledge.
The screams didn't last long enough for Niem to be sure she'd had heard
them. It should have been impossible to detect any sounds from the Gammack
base this far below ground, behind the thick walls of the vault. Of course,
there would have been a *lot* of screams in the brief interval between fiery
death and deadly silence. It was very quiet now.
There had been no screaming within the vault. Niem was grimly proud of
herself for keeping her head and completing her set task. All of the
records she hadn't had time to copy before Scorpius warned her of the
impending disaster were sealed in safely. She'd even managed to find enough
techs to help her move the Aurora Chair itself, although she had aroused
some suspicion doing so.
She wondered, briefly, weather she had done the right thing in following her
master's order not to tell anyone what was coming. But no. They would only
have panicked, and Scorpius had taught her more effectively than any Peace
Keeper indoctrination that directionless emotion was useless.
The data was stored on heat-proof, cold-proof, explosion-proof material -
Scorpius was rather paranoid about losing his raw material. Unfortunately
for Niem, the vault itself was not sealed against the heat.
All Peace Keeper facilities were designed to be comfortably cool, but they
were not built to burn. Nor were their generators - the tech could tell for
certain that something had gone badly wrong on the surface when all the
lights went out. She cursed the idiot who hadn't made the vault an entirely
self-contained system, and hoped that the lock and ventilation would
continue to work. It was very dark. Not that it mattered, really.
The insulation slowed the rising temperature, but not enough. It took an
arn before Niem started to sweat, and another before she felt her head begin
to swim, her thoughts melting away. There was nothing to do but wait for
the Living Death to claim her. She didn't waste energy (or air - with the
ventilation out she might suffocate in here before the brain damage took
her) on terror.
Instead, she found her way to the banks of data by feel, and ran her fingers
over the codes carved into their spines. Brushing up against other people's
memories as her own were leeched away by the heat. Her work, at least, was
secure. Everything that had been in the head of the human John Crichton,
except the single clump of information that was of interest to Scorpius, was
safe. Niem had watched his odd memories unfurl with as much surprise as
someone who regularly witnessed such displays could muster. For a creature
that looked so Sebacean, he had a very odd mind. She hoped that the neural
clone Scorpius had placed in his brain would bear fruit, that the effort
would be for something.
Captain Crais's files were next to those of the man he'd hunted across the
Uncharted Territories - there was another story that Niem would miss the end
of. The memories themselves were not especially remarkable, but she had
never seen anyone spend so long in the Aurora Chair in a single day. When
Niem had finally unstrapped him and cleaned him up, he'd been startlingly
sane. The effect would bear further study. From someone other than her,
In marked contrast: more of the endless, pointless loops of nonsense from
the Banick that never took them to the place they wanted to go. Niem always
wondered what good those were, but her master could find a use for most
things. Perhaps Scorpius kept the irrelevant files out of the simple
fascination that eventually gripped anyone who examined the insides of other
She stretched out her hands again, and felt her way to the Chair itself.
Sitting down, Niem waited, platting and unwinding her long red hair. It was
a nervous habit from her childhood, but there was no-one to observe her
small weakness now. Eventually, though, she found herself rocking back and
forth and murmuring, as the Banick used to do. It was a common reaction to
both the Chair and to the Living Death. She wondered what it was about
memories, or the loss of them, that made people whimper.
Soon enough, she gripped the arms of the Chair to stop herself. Although
the cameras could not see through the darkness, there were probably
microphones, and since the vault belonged to Scorpius there might be
infrared sensors as well. Niem did not like to think of him listening to
her break down. He had taught her to be quiet.
As her thoughts burned away in the dark, she wondered idly what his mind was
like, and wished that she'd been able to run him through his own information
retrieval device, just once, in order to find out. It was a mad idea,
justifiable only in light of her imminent end. Niem hoped that she hadn't
said anything out loud.
Another mad idea: she wished that Scorpius had used the Aurora Chair on her
so that her memories would be filed away here too. If Crichton, or Captain
Crais, or even the Banick slave, died today then no-one would forget them.
She had held the proof of their existence in her hands, wrung it out of them
with the push of a button. She would leave nothing behind but a mindless
shell, hair twisted by failing fingers.
Niem was aware that her last service to Scorpius might be as a test subject.
The Living Death intrigued him as all manifestations of Sebacean heat
sensitivity did. She hoped, though, that he would be kind enough to let
storing his data be her last task. Niem thought that she had earned her
peace, although she would never feel his hands close about her neck one last
time. After that, she didn't think much at all.
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