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Exodus from Ordinary (Premiere)
Rating: PG-13 for language
Summary: John gets some bad news, and Aeryn has a crash. AU.
Notes: In regards to the prompt - what's more anarchistic than turning the whole premise of Farscape upside down? Also, as always, thanks to hand-holder extraordinaire [livejournal.com profile] virkatjol.



Aeryn wakes up and tastes blood. She stays still, does a systems check on herself; she can see, though opening her eyes sends pain stabbing through her head. Mobility intact, except for her left wrist - broken. Arms, legs, feet, spine all undamaged. She starts to move, gritting her teeth through the ache in her arm, keeping it as still as possible.

Her prowler display blinks sporadically, and she manages to fight vertigo enough to get to her feet and stumble for the med kit. She feels groggy and isn't sure how long she's been unconscious. She thinks back, memories blurred at first and then slowly coming into focus as she concentrates. Running maneuvers, the shimmering blue that gaped open in front of her, trying to stay on course and failing. Her ship tumbling through despite her best effort to keep things stabilized and then she'd been spat out the other side and close enough to this planet to know that there was no way to avoid landing on it. The trip hadn't been kind to prowler, and the landing even worse. She slumps against one wall and breathes in deep, allowing herself a moment but only that. She gets her wrist wrapped from the kit, and then does the only other thing she can think to do - a weapons check.

She's just finished reassuring herself that her pulse pistol is fully functioning when she hears a sound. Her head tilts to the side as she listens hard. It's largely unfamiliar but she can parse out components - some sort of machinery, possibly an engine. She scrambles to her feet and looks around, quickly. She's not dumb; there are enough planets that don't welcome Peacekeepers, and she's a capable soldier but she's still alone. Her pride doesn't outweigh her sensibility. She grabs one of the emergency packs and two extra cases of chakkan oil and touches the control panel to open the door.

It whines but does nothing. Aeryn hears the sounds getting closer and the first small flurry of panic rises in her. She steps back and kicks the door, putting all of her strength behind it. Metal creaks and with a second kick it dislodges.

The planet is green. She's landed on an open space but there's a cover of trees nearby. The color is the first thing she notices, that vibrancy that looks manufactured to her, like it's too bright to be real, so far removed from the dark metal walls of her life. She takes a breath and her lungs fill with air so crisp that it almost makes her choke. She sees a small dark object in the distance moving at her with a speed that her mind quickly calculates, and then she turns and takes off into the forest.

*

John's standing in his kitchen with the phone pressed to his face. His father's in front of him, impatiently motioning for John to fill him in, but John waves an annoyed hand and turns so that his back is facing his dad. He hears Jack groan in frustration but at the moment all of his attention is fixed on the conversation he's having.

"So you're telling me they don't even know what it was, but they're still scrubbing my mission for it? Hell, it could have just been a bad lightening storm-"

There's a barrage of words - loud, angry words - and John winces, turning and thrusting the phone at his father. It's not exactly the most mature move ever but he needs to think before he talks right now. What wants to come out of his mouth is even more immature - But that's not fair! - and he's dangerously near tears.

He's spent the past 5 years working toward this, and one burst of light in the sky and now it's delayed by who knows how long. Six months, a year, five years. The people funding it could easily pull their money between now and then.

He listens to his dad talk for a few more minutes and then just can't anymore.

He gets in his car and drives. His dad calls after him but John just raises a hand in farewell without even looking behind him.

He starts off in the direction of his house but the idea of going back there - alone, sitting and stewing in his own anger - is unappealing. He could go to DK's; no doubt, DK is feeling the same thing he is, because DK's put just as much into this as John has. But DK wasn't the one about to go up. He wasn't going to sit in that module, go into space, and be able to look back down at the planet.

He drives until the gas gauge flickers low and stops at an old station to fill back up. He buys a coke and a pack of hostess cakes and some beef jerky, tosses the bag into the passenger seat without even bothering to open any of it, and hits the road again.

*

Aeryn runs quietly, stealthily, and quickly. She pauses every few motres and listens to ensure that she's running away from the shouts, sirens, sounds of the transport units she'd seen approaching. If they had transport, they've likely got weapons and she's not going to risk them having unfavorable opinions of Peacekeepers.

Eventually the sounds die out all together, just the wilderness. She keeps her good hand on her pulse pistol and her bad one crossed in front of her midsection. There's a dull throb of pain but she doesn't dare try one of the painkillers in her emergency pack medkit.

She tries to pay attention to the slant of the light and realizes that with the current progression she only has a few arns of daylight left. It's been over a solar day since she's slept, the mission itself having run long, and she'll need to rest and eat.

She feels moisture on her the back of her neck and jumps, yanking out her weapon, though it proves pointless. It's just the weather; precipitation, something she's only experienced a couple of times. She's a pilot, not a (person that does missions on land). It's strange, wet and cold, and she shivers imperceptibly.

Another arn passes and she slows her pace, sensing that her forest protecting is coming to an end. She could backtrack but instinct keeps her going forward. She hears the sounds of transports moving, but they don't slow near her. If these people have the technology to track her, then she's out of range. She creeps forward and stands behind a tree, moving just enough to clear a line of vision. She watches the first vehicle that passes, studying it; ground-based with no apparently capacity for flight. The armoring is minimal and she can't see any sort of weaponry. That bodes well for her; these are personal vehicles, not combat-ready. The people controlling the devices seem shockingly Sebacean, from what she can glimpse, but she doesn't think she could possibly have been fortunate enough to land on a planet of Sebaceans, and she doesn't recall any Sebacean planets that still use combustible engine technology, which these almost certainly are by the acrid stench of the smoke that reaches her nose after each passing of one. The rain still drizzles down and the combination feels oppressive despite the fact that she's not enclosed by anything but trees to one side. This entire planet feels like it's constraining her and she wants off; she wants the openness of space, comforting and familiar, where she belongs.

She ducks back behind tree and tries to determine her next move. She could likely overpower a single one, possibly even two or three, but her injured arm is a detriment. Judging from the size of the transports she's seen, they couldn't hold more than four or five and most have only had one. If they're Sebaceans, they can likely assist her in contacting Peacekeeper Command, and if they aren't she'll be able to overpower them and obtain the transport.

She decides to take her chances and steps out into the clearing.

*

John's jarred out of his daze by the sight of a woman standing along the side of the road.

He squints but even before he's discerned that it's actually a woman he's slowing down and pulling his car over.

"Hey, need a ride?" He shouts out the window, through the rain. She answers and it's not like anything he's heard before. His forehead scrunches in confusion and he pushes the door open, not sure what else to do.

She gets in, shutting the door herself.

"Uh, so, you're not from around here, I guess?" He asks, and she makes an exasperated expression and repeats whatever she'd just said. "What do you need? Help? Was there an accident? Are you a hitch-hiker?"

She makes a hand gesture.

"Yeah, definitely not from around here," John mutters. She's dressed like she just came from a bondage party but her face is harsh, pale and angular, but attractive. He shrugs, just past caring how weird this is, and starts the car again.

*

He can't understand a word she stays.

There's frustration on both parts; she feels like she's talking to a narl, or a particularly dull tech. She's heard of planets without exposure to translator microbes before but she's never actually encountered any of these individuals before.

She watches as he steers the craft, finding the operation rudimentary but with just enough different that she wants to observe how he operates it before incapacitating him and taking it over herself. Before she even reaches that point he's slowing to a stop in front of a small structure.

*

She hasn't made any sounds beyond the strange mixture of drawn out syllables that he doesn't recognize as any language he's heard before. He can't figure out where she wants to go so he goes the only place he can think of; back home.

He gets out and walks in, and she follows him. He grabs a phone book, thick and yellow, and slaps it down onto the table. "Okay, recognize anything in here?"

He pushes it toward her but she starts talking again. He holds up a hand. "Uh, whoa, whoa, okay. Can you at least tell me where you're from?"

She sounds out something very slowly.

He repeats it back. "Sabacean?"

She nods back slowly and he knows he's being patronized.

"From, what, the great land of Sebacea? I've never heard of it, lady. And what the hell were you doing walking around outside in the rain dressed like-"

He stops. She's miming something now, using hand gestures.

He stares.

She moves her hand like it's flying and then abruptly drops it down into a descent, hitting the open palm of her other hand.

Stares some more. "Crash?"

She makes a long one-syllable sound that he can tell is an affirmative.

"You crashed here? And you know what I'm saying, don't you? You don't look nearly as confused as me."

She nods again, slowly, condescending and annoyed.

"Well, look, lady, if you can understand my language you oughta be able to speak it. No hable englais? No speak-y Americanese?"

Okay, now she looks confused.

"You crashed. So... airplane? Chopper? That doesn't look like any sort of regulation flight suit I've ever seen, I'm guessing whatever you were doing it wasn't in an official capacity." John's rambling, talking aloud to himself, but Aeryn's listening.

She's listening and she's still not sure exactly why she hasn't delivered a precise pantak jab to this jabbering, clearly somehow deficient individual but she hasn't. Maybe because he's not trying to hurt her; that much is obvious. It's not as though kindness holds any particular appeal, but she's alone and somehow that's just now striking her. It's not so much a conscious thought as it is a feeling that creeps over her, something she tries in vain to ignore. She's alone. She's lived her entire life in a unit, part of a group, and now she's split from the group; she's alone, and cold, and wet, and there are probably aliens crawling all over her Prowler. She's not used to vulnerability; her ship is her armor, her weapon, her lifeline. Now she is just one and she's prepared to fight but if she doesn't have to, if this man is sympathetic... she can use that.

At least until she dries off, procures something with nutrients in it, and maybe rests. Her arm is already throbbing again. She holds it closer to herself unconsciously but he catches the movement.

"You're hurt," he says, sounding surprised.

He steps forward and she steps back, shaking her head. Her eyes narrow. She might find him harmless but she's not about to put herself in a position where he could prove her wrong.

He holds up his hands. "I'm not gonna hurt you. But I have medicine here - got a first aid kid somewhere..."

Her expression remains stony. He doesn't bother trying to convince her more, just says, "Well, hell, you're soaking wet, aren't you? You want me to get you something dry to change into? At least let me do that."

Her skin feels clammy and overly chilled and she decides that there isn't much risk in at least allowing that.

*

The clothes are strange. Aeryn has seen aliens before, seen how strangely they can dress sometimes. She thinks that the material will be too soft, too forgiving, but once it's on her body all she feels is warm, and dry.

John thinks she looks much younger when she walks out of his bathroom. Her hair is still pulled back but tendrils in the front have escaped, and she's wearing a sweatshirt that falls to her thighs, the sleeves going past her fingertips.

He has food and a glass of milk waiting on her. "Didn't know if you'd want something stronger, but hey, does a body good?"

It's clear she has no idea what that means. Her grasp on English, he decides, must be tenuous. She seems to understand the gist of things but not the colloquialisms. He's not surprised; he's worked alongside many people that weren't native English speakers.

Only, she's not speaking at all, is she? He gets that something's off about this, even has an idea of what it could be, but it seems so far-fetched. Couldn't be, not really, no way. He forces it to the back of his mind again. "Okay, let's start with names. I'm John. John Crichton."

"John," she repeats after him, crisp and clear. "John Crichton."

"Right!" He grins.

"John John Crichton," she says, again, testing.

"Uh, no. Just one John." He realizes his mistake. "John Crichton. That's all."

"John Crichton."

"Got it. Now, your turn. What's your name?"

"Aeryn Sun." She realizes he won't understand her, but still adds, "I'm a Prowler Pilot. Ikarian Company, Pleisar Regiment."

"Huh?" His forehead wrinkles in confusion again, because he can't even attempt to repeat most of that after her. "That's your name? All of it?"

She sighs, and says slowly, "Aeryn."

"Aeryn." He gets it right, miracle of miracles. She nods once, a sharp motion, before looking down at the food. It's just a sandwich.

She inspects it briefly before taking a bite. All she has is rations in her bag, and if she does end up on her own again she wants to preserve her own supplies.

*

He watches her eat until the plate is almost empty. She's trying to be restrained but she must be hungry. She doesn't seem to stop to taste anything, chews methodically, swallows, takes a drink of milk.

"Hope you aren't lactose intolerant," he comments.

She doesn't spare him much of a reaction to that.

"So, Aeryn," he starts. "Just to get this out of the way. Can you tell me if you're an alien that crashed into earth on a space ship? Because if so, man, have I got a bone to pick with you."

She looks up, eyes widening in alarm, and then nods once.

"Huh?"

She starts off in a stream of incomprehensible speech. "Hey, whoa, hold on, what did I say about that? I can't understand you."

She signs, exasperated, and then mimes flying with one hand and crashing into the other.

"You've gotta be shitting me here."

Her face screws up in disgust and shakes her head, giving him a 'what?' gesture that transcends language barriers.  

"Oh, THAT you understand?"

She nods, still looking repulsed.

"You a friend of DK's or something? He put you up to this? Because no way..." He gets up, walks over to his tv and turns it on.

She follows, not trusting him enough to be out of her sight, despite the fact that this is his home. Her pulse pistol is tucked inside line of her underwear and she's fully prepared to pull it out and use it.

He's watching some sort of communication device. It seems passive, since he's not responding to anything being said. She wonders if this is some sort of planet wide alert instrument, because the people on the screen are talking emphatically about a crash site and reports and...

It's her prowler, of course. Her stomach drops. She'd known it would happen, had known since the moment she'd seen the advancing vehicles and sounds of people approaching her ship, but knowing and seeing is somehow different.

She realizes that John has turned and is watching her and not the screen now. "It's your ship, isn't it?"

She nods.

"You're not from this planet?"

She shakes her head.

"Well." He does the strangest thing then... and laughs. Aeryn has no idea what's humorous about this situation and finds that suddenly shooting him seems like a valid idea again.

*

She sits on the other end of the sofa. Her back is ramrod straight, posture perfect, and he's staring at her pretty blatantly now but he doesn't really care. She's an alien, not of this earth, extra terrestrial, and he's wrapping his mind around it.

He talks to her - chatters on and rambles and she looks annoyed but he has the blessing of being entirely unaware that she's a soldier that could kill him a dozen and a half ways without breaking a sweat. When he looks at her he sees a pretty girl - pretty, yeah, and he can see it now. Pale skin, pink high on her cheeks, tired eyes.

"How long have you been here?"

"Twelve arns," she answers, though she knows it's pointless.

"Well," John continues, like she's not spoken at all. "Your ship crashed earlier today, I got that much. But before that? Were your people watching us? Are there more of you out there?"

She shakes her head.

"Just your ship? Was there anyone else in it with you?"

She shakes her head again.

"So, big oogity boogity alien dudes aren't about to descend en masse?" John tsks. "All the movies got it wrong. Someone shoulda told ole HG. Send Spielberg a memo. Bet you don't even like bikes, do you?"

Aeryn discovers that her head aches - a sharp pain somewhere at the base of her neck, throbbing outward to match her arm. She closes her eyes and sinks down a little into the couch, tired of this gibbering nonsense.

"You're tired, aren't you?" He asks, voice softening a little. "Hell. Me, too. You take the bed, I'll take the couch."

He gets up, expecting her to follow, but she doesn't. "Aeryn?"

She looks up at that. Her name, coming from that voice. Strange, possibly the strangest thing yet. She's called a lot of things - Officer Sun, soldier, Peacekeeper, Sebacean. She's not often just called Aeryn.

She thinks of the last person to call her that. It sends a pang through her. He'd be much more capable in this situation.

Velorek was a bad Peacekeeper but he had something, some quality that made Aeryn yearn. She looks at this man, John Crichton, and wants to believe what her gut tells her.

She's alone, stranded, shot through a wormhole and stuck in this strange place. She has no commanding officer to tell her what to do now. She'll have to trust her instinct, and that terrifies her, but John Crichton stands there in front of her looking at her with kindness that should make her wary but somehow doesn't.

She knows what Velorek would tell her to do and decides to do now what she should have done then; put her faith in herself, and in him. She stands and follows John Crichton.

- the end.




Just on the off chance that someone might want more of this universe... stay tuned for my Farscapeland Big Bang!
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