D'Argo ran from his quarters, hearing Pilot's warning that Moya had picked up a distress signal coming from the near by planet they were approaching. He had sprung from his bed when he heard Pilot say the code the signal was being transmitted on was Luxan. Hope filled him as he sprinted toward Moya's main control center. Hope of finding another of his kind and perhaps, a way home.
When he reached the control center Zhaan, Crichton and Aeryn were already there.
"We should go down to the surface and investigate immediately." D'Argo ordered.
"We don't know what's down there." Crichton argued.
"He's right." Aeryn chided in Chrichton's defense. "Just hold on one second and we'll make double sure it's not a trick before we go shuttling down there into who knows what."
"Pilot, can Moya detect any Peace Keepers lurking around? Is she sure this is a Luxan distress code?" Chrichton asked.
D'Argo paced angrily. "We are wasting time!" he bellowed. "I recognize this code, I know it's Luxan. That's all the assurance we need."
Just then Pilot's voice came over the intercom again.
"Moya is one hundred percent sure it is a Luxan distress code. She can detect no peace keeper presence at this time."
D'Argo smirked at Crichton and abruptly turned and headed for the Leviathan's transport pod. Aeryn and Crichton looked at each other as if silently saying that there would be no holding back now. Then they to hurried off after D'Argo.
"Be cautious." Zhaan warned, calling after them.**
The transport pod landed uneasily amidst the planet's dense foliage. D'Argo led the way out of the pod and used his Qualta Blade to cut a path through the thick green vegetation and grasses. Aeryn and Crichton held their weapons ready should there be any unfriendly inhabitants as they followed D'Argo.
They finally stopped several minuets later when they came upon a ship surrounded by the massive trees and thick plants of the planet's surface.
"Let's spread out." Aeryn suggested.
Crichton nodded silently, agreeing as the three surveyed their surroundings.
D'Argo inspected the ship, moving closer to it.
"I know this craft," he whispered to himself, searching his memory. Finding the open hatch, he carefully entered the ship. It was not a Luxan ship, but that is where he remembered it from. His home planet long ago when he was just a boy. Strangers had come in this ship. A warrior of another species, a warrior from a race long since thought dead, and his wife the last of another species thought to be extinctů
Crichton moved cautiously around to the other side of the ship, moving plants and tall grass out of his way as quietly as he could. He came upon what looked to be opening to a small cave.
"I think I found something, guys," he spoke up, hoping his companions had heard him.
He slowly started to move away the foliage that looked as if it had been set there purposely to hide the entrance to the cave.
As he reached to remove the first tree limb, something leaped from above. He let out a yell in surprise and fear as it as it landed on him, knocking him to the ground, his weapon was thrown from his reach. He desperately tried to fight off his attacker. All he could see of what ever was trying to kill him was the shining serrated edge of a knife coming ever closer to his throat.
Suddenly he heard D'Argo's familiar warning growl and felt more than saw his attacker thrown from him. In an instant Crichton scrambled to his feet.
D'Argo was standing protectively in front of him, his blade ready to strike. Aeryn stood a step behind him her weapon aimed squarely at the infiltrator's head.
Now, for the first time, John Crichton got a good look at what had jumped from the bush and tried to kill him.
He stared in shock. It was a girl. She looked to be in her early twenties. She was almost a head shorter than he was. Her petite build disguised the awesome strength he had felt when she attacked and struggled with him as he fought to hold back the wicked looking knife she held and tried to use against him.
His eyes roamed over her, her exquisite beauty catching him off guard. Her features were human-like, with the exception of her unique, almost oriental eye's, with small barely noticeable antenna-like veins on the side of each eyebrow just above the bridge of her nose. The antenna-like veins reaching to almost the middle of her forehead. Her tan skin looked flawless and the aqua color of her eyes mesmerized him. Her hair was long and silky black; the waves reminded him of how the woman on Earth had some times spent hours in a beauty shop to get that crimped look in their hair. The sides of her hair were pulled up loosely in a high ponytail secured with a black sequined tie. Short loose strands of hair tapered around her unique eyes becoming longer at the sides.
The earring she wore on her left ear made him think of the Bajorans on the Television show, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, he had watched a few times back home. He almost laughed at the irony of that show now popping into his mind.
Her clothes were strange to him, but given what he had seen since he had been thrust into this new world maybe it wasn't so strange after all. She wore a vest-like shirt laced on the shoulders and in front. The vest came to a V shape in front and back then connected just below her belly button to a mid knee length long skirt. A black sequined belt adorned the skirt around her hips and secured to it was an even stranger looking collar of sorts made of what looked like silver and shaped to him like a wish bone. The strange material of her clothes was a shimmering black that almost looked leather. The right side of the skirt was slit nearly to her hip. On her right thigh was strapped a holster of some sort that John guessed was where she kept the strange knife she held in her hand. Around her upper left arm was a black sequined armband, and on her right wrist another band just like it.
The high boots she wore were also black and looked to be made of the same material as her clothing. The way she was dressed reminded John of a cross between Xena and a slave girl. He stood in awe of her bravery. She stood seemingly unafraid as she faced D'Argo ready to do battle.
Crichton was pulled from his gaze when he heard D'Argo's voice and he looked at him curiously.
"TaNari?" D'Argo spoke in a questioning tone, staring at the girl as if he recognized her.
The girl looked at D'Argo, shock written on her face when he spoke the name.
"I am Ka D'Argo of Luxan, do you remember me?" D'Argo spoke again as he shielded his blade on his back.
The girl's eyes softened, as she seemed to recognize him also and she slowly nodded, not taking her gaze from him as she lowered her weapon. Her stare intensified and her eyes locked with D'Argo's. Her deep concentration reflected not only by her unmoving gaze but also in D'Argo's trance-like stance.
All at once, D'Argo winced in pain and one hand went to his head as if he had suddenly been hurt.
Aeryn and Crichton, both fearing for their friend, stepped closer to him.
"What's happening?" Crichton asked in a panic.
"She's using some sort of mind control!" Aeryn shouted in the same panicked voice.
"Tear] her in half!" Crichton ordered angrily, moving quickly to retrieve his weapon from where it had fallen.
Aeryn aimed her weapon again, but before she could fire, D'Argo flung out his arms, stopping her from firing and stopping Crichton from reaching for his own weapon.
"No" he growled, his voice strained as if he were in pain. "She speaks to me, telepathically. She means no harm." he paused. "Receiving her thoughts can be painful, but not harmful."
Obeying him, Aeryn and Crichton watched nervously. They knew their friend too well to know that if he had any inkling that there was danger he would not hesitate to attack.
After a long moment D'Argo took in a deep breath and let it out, his muscles relaxing as the girl's telepathic thoughts ceased. She took the silver collar from her belt slowly and placed it around her neck as she kept an ever watchful eye on them. While D'Argo took in another heavy breath and let it out, the pain in his head now stopped.
"She needs our help." D'Argo told them. "Her father is dying. Their ship was attacked by the Sheyang, her mother was killed and her father badly injured."
"How do you know she's not lying?" Aeryn asked, still cautious.
D'Argo turned to face her. "Because I know!" he barked.
"Then where is he?" Aeryn asked, hesitantly lowering her weapon, but keeping it ready should she need it.
"Here," D'Argo said as he started to quickly remove the rest of the limbs and brush from in front of the cave Crichton had found.
They entered the cave with the girl TaNari leading the way. A few feet inside they saw a small fire and a man lying next to it. TaNari went over and knelt next to him, taking one of his hands in hers.
"I found help, Father." She spoke softly. " A Luxan, one we once knew. Ka D'Argo has heard the distress code I sent out and come to our aide."
Crichton looked at the wounded man. His features, though much more distinct, were somewhat like the girl's, except for the golden color of his eyes. He to wore the silver wishbone-shaped collar and was dressed all in black. It was evident even to Crichton the girl was of two different species.
D'Argo knelt on the other side of the man.
"Zylyn." D'Argo spoke.
"Ka D'Argo." Zylyn's deep accented voice sounded weak. "I remember you as a boy." He paused, taking in a breath before he spoke again. "You have grown into a fine warrior."
D'Argo only nodded his thanks at the compliment. "Do not talk now, you must save your strength," he told him as he began to examine Zylyn's wounds. Realizing the wounds were grave he turned to Crichton and Aeryn. His face was masked with worry and concern.
"We must get him aboard Moya quickly. Zhaan has more knowledge of healing than I do."
"No," Zylyn spoke up; every breath he took now was weaker than the last. "It is to late for me, TaNari, you mus, must take, her."
"Father, no." TaNari argued, her eyes filling with pale blue tears. "Let him help you."
Zylyn looked up at his daughter and reached up with the hand she had been holding in hers, laying it gently on her cheek as he spoke.
"It is time, for me, to, join your mother."
"No" TaNari begged tearfully as she reached up with her hand to once again grasp his as she pressed her cheek against his palm. "Do not leave me, Father."
Aeryn and Crichton stood by, helplessly looking on.
"Never, forget what your, Mother, and I have, taught you." Zylyn continued the darkness of death growing ever nearer.
"You, are, the last of, our two races. You are Graaka," though weak the name of his race was spoken with power and pride. "And, you, are Doran, hold well to, yo, your heritage TaNari. Keep, well, what you, have learned. Your, Mother, and I forever will, live," he removed his hand and set it on her chest. "Here, in, your heart, your soul."
TaNari looked up at D'Argo with pleading eyes. "Help him, please." she begged.
D'Argo looked at the ground sadly. "There is nothing I can do."
TaNari suddenly closed her eyes and put both her hands on her father's chest, her face contorted into a deep concentration as she tried desperately to once again use the healing powers she had inherited from her mother.
Zylyn stopped her, reaching for her hands and pulling them away.
"No, you will, need all your strength now do not waste it on me," he said, knowing that by using her limited powers she would be weaken severely as she had been when she had first tried to use them to heal him before.
Zylyn took TaNari's left hand in his, and with his other hand he reached over and took D'Argo's right hand. Gently he pulled them over his chest and placed TaNari's hand in D'Argo's.
"I, charge you," he spoke as sternly as he could in his weaken condition. "kA D'Argo, Worrier to warrior to warrior, take TaNari, care for her, protect, her, swear it."
D'Argo was caught off guard. He knew what Zylyn asked of him now was not to be taken lightly. But he also knew he owed it to this man who had once saved the life of his father long ago to do as he asked, and his honor would not let him refuse. He stiffened proudly and looked into Zylyn's eyes.
"You honor me, Zylyn, I swear to you, warrior to warrior, I will protect your daughter with my life. I swear this with my blood." D'Argo reached with his other hand, took Zylyn's dagger from his belt, and cut a small incision in the palm of his other hand, being careful not to cut TaNari's. He then squeezed his hand shut around hers.
A small smile crossed Zylyn's lips and he grasped D'Argo's hand that held his daughters.
He closed his eyes and as his last breath left him as he spoke." I, leave her, in, your, care." His hand slipped slowly from theirs.
"Father!" TaNari cried out as she jerked her hand from D'Argo's. She layed her head on her father's chest, letting her sorrow overcome her she sobbed.
D'Argo leaned back on his knees and set his hands on his thighs as he began to chant in a low tone that was barely audible.
Crichton turned and walked away. He could only imagine the pain the girl must be feeling, losing both her parents at once and he felt for her.
Aeryn Sun hung her head in sadness and respectfully moved back next to Crichton. She motioned her head toward the cave entrance. Crichton took her meaning and led the way out.
Once out of the cave, they stood near the opening, waiting for D'Argo and giving him and the girl privacy to mourn.
"Looks like we got another passenger." Crichton spoke up, not sure of how he felt about the eminent fact.
Aeryn nodded, agreeing. "Looks that way."
After D'Argo and TaNari finally returned from the cave some time later,. Crichton and Aeryn helped to build a burial mound next to the one the girl had built for and placed her mother's body on. She took a torch and as she had done for her mother, she set it on fire, staring silently into the flames, as D'Argo stood next to her.
Crichton and Aeryn looked on from a distance.*Laterů
Crichton and Aeryn returned to the transport pod and waited as D'Argo helped TaNari gather her things from the cave. She then took a small canister, and going back to her parents burial site, she scooped up the ashes. She told D'Argo,
" I will scatter their ashes among the stars so that they may one day find their way home together, as they had always hoped."
D'Argo understood. They then went to the disabled ship so that TaNari could retrieve the rest of her possessions.
D'Argo had asked her about star charts that her father might have kept, hoping that he had charted a way back to Luxan. But to his disappointment, Zylyn had kept none.
After gathering her personal belongings and some other things that she felt she may need or want, TaNari slipped her pack over her back then went to the front of the ship and over to the control console. She frantically and angrily began pushing buttons.
D'Argo followed and stood behind her, holding two of the bundles she had filled with her belongings.
"What are you doing?" he asked, concerned over her sudden display of anger taking over the sadness that she had exhibited only moments ago.
"This ship was my home for twenty cycles, I will not leave it for scavengers." She spat out.
D"Argo's eye's grew wide in realization of what she was doing.
"You're setting the self destruct," he exclaimed.
TaNari looked back at him and a small evil grin crossed her lips.
D'Argo looked at her cautiously. "How much time?" he asked, a touch of admiration for her courage and determination coming over him.
"Three minuets," she said flatly as she punched the last button with her fist. "Run!" she yelled as she abruptly turned and started racing out of the ship. Without a second thought D'Argo was right on her heals.
Aeryn and Crichton reached for their weapons and ran from the transport pod, startled into action by the sound of an explosion. They had only reached the end of the pod ramp when D'Argo and TaNari came on a dead run through the brush and darted up the ramp.
"Get us off this planet now!" D'Argo bellowed as he reached them.
With out hesitation Aeryn ran for the control, with in seconds Crichton had the hatch door up, and they were lifting off the planet surface as the grasses began to glow with flames.
"What the hell was that?" he demanded
"She set her ship to self destruct,." D'Argo barked throwing a glare TaNari's way and supressing a slight grin of amusement for her spontaneity.
"How much time did you give us?" Crichton almost yelled.
TaNari looked at him defiantly. "Three minutes,." she said with a look of defiance emanating from her eyes, daring him to challenge her.
"Jesus, girl!" Crichton exclaimed, the fear and adrenaline still pumping threw his veins. "You're dangerous!"
He looked at D'Argo sternly. " And I suppose you thought it was fun!?"
D'Argo smiled, enjoying seeing the fear masked in Chrichton's face. He wanted to get his own dig in. "It does get the heart pumping, doesn't it."
Crichton threw up his hands in disgust and joined Aeryn at the controls.
Setting the bundles on the floor, D'Argo turned to TaNari and pointed a finger at her.
"Never do that again,." he warned.
TaNari looked at him and gave him a short but respectful nod that she understood.
Aboard the Leviathan, Zhaan, Chiana and Rygel waited in the main control area of the ship. Aeryn and Crichton met them there, while D'Argo showed TaNari a room where she could stay, making sure that his own room was near by.
TaNari set her pack on the small bed and sat down next to it, suddenly feeling very alone, the sadness once more over taking her and emanating in her eyes as she looked up at D'Argo.
"I am alone, D'Argo." Her soft voice trembled slightly as she pulled back her emotions.
D'Argo's eye's softened as they met hers. He felt her pain, her uneasiness in an unfamiliar place among strangers. He went to her, knelt on one knee in front of her, and did his best to try and ease her fear.
"You are not alone TaNari. I swore a sacred oath to your father, and I intend to honor that oath. For as long as I breathe you will never be alone, this I swear to you."
TaNari only looked at him, unconvinced.
"Rest now. I will bring you food.," he told her. "When you have eaten and had ample rest, I will introduce you to the rest of the crew."
He stood then turned and left the room. When he reached the main control area, all eyes turned toward him, Making him feel uneasy with their stares.
"What?!" he barked angrily.
"Are you going to tell us about her or not?" Crichton asked.
"There is nothing to tell," D'Argo flared.
"You know her," Aeryn piped up. "You knew her before we found her on the planet. I'd say there's quite a bit to tell."
"Is she really half Doran?" Zhaan asked curiously. "I've heard of them only in myths and legends."
D'Argo glared at Crichton and Aeryn.
"We just told them what we found out on the planet,." Crichton said.
D'Argo sighed. "I suppose if I don't tell you everything, the lot of you will no doubt hound me until I do, or worse make TaNari feel even more uncomfortable with your neverending questions."
He set his hands on the console in front of him and leaned against them as he began his story.
"When I was a boy a ship landed on our planet. The same ship we found. " He looked toward Aeryn and Chrichton.
"We had also only heard of the Graaka from myths and legends. They were a fierce race, feared, respected and believed to once be allies of the Luxan. Zylyn's ship had sustained damaged after being thrown through some kind of meteoric storm. It was believed to have traveled through a time continuum. They landed on our planet seeking repairs. My father befriended Zylyn. He and his mate TyKeerrie lived at our village for a time while they made repairs to their craft. TyKeerrie was a Doran but they told us that when she was only a small child her planet's sun exploded and she was put on a shuttle to escape the destruction. Her shuttle crashed on Graaka, she was the only survivor and was taken in and raised as a Graaka."
"When they came to our planet, Tykeerrie was with child, she gave birth to that child on Luxan soon after they landed."
"The child was this girl we found on the planet, right?" Chrichton cut in.
D'Argo nodded and continued his story. "I had seen only seven cycles when TaNari was born. Our families were close friends. My father and hers fought side by side. On one such battle my father was struck down and overpowered. Zylyn saved his life. Zylyn and his family lived on Luxan for five cycles. Their ship was renovated and fitted with Luxan technology in hopes that it would help them find their way back to their own time. Soon after Zylyn saved my father, they left Luxan and no one ever saw them again."
"Until now," Aeryn put in.D'Argo nodded. "I owed Zylyn my allegiance, TaNari is now my ward, I," he emphasized his next word as stood straight again and his voice became louder. "WILL, protect her. If one of you so much as looks at her wrong," he looked at Rygel, as his tone became a warning one, "you will answer to me!"
Chiana's gaze went past D'Argo when she noticed someone walking toward them. D'Argo saw her gaze move and he spun around to see TaNari coming closer.
All eyes were on her as she entered the room and stood next to D'Argo. TaNari made eye contact with each one of them but stood quietly at her guardian's side. No one moved or said any thing until Zhaan spoke and walked up to her. Smiling, she held out a friendly hand.
"I am Zhaan, welcome, TaNari."
TaNarie's hands made a fist then she extended her thumb and little finger as she held her hands loosely in front of her and bowed respectively to Zhaan in her traditional Graaka greeting.
BACK TO THE HERO ZONE