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14 April 2007 @ 11:32 pm
Seasons of the Emperor's Regret (The You Get What Everyone Gets Remix) [Farscape; Rygel, John/Chiana  
Title: Seasons of the Emperor's Regret (The You Get What Everyone Gets Remix)
Author: hossgal
Summary: You walk the corridors at night, watching the shadows pool like slough water, and feel the mist curl around you, pale and full of memory. 6,000 words.
Rating: PG, gen
Fandom: Farscape
Warnings: AU, post-series
Spoilers: Peacekeeper Wars
Author's Notes: With thanks to florastuart and hobsonphile for beta. Remix title from Sandman.
Original Story: a Minute, an Hour...a Lifetime, by pdxscaper



***


The Hynerian Empire holds scores of worlds and billions of lives, and many of them have forgotten the old ways and the Old Hyneria. But on the planet itself, in the City, the River still reigns supreme, and even the Dominar must attend the dictates of sun and tide.

This is something you have always known, from the days before your mother chose you from your scores of siblings and set you in the current that has swept you to this arn, slow but irresistible.

That current runs sluggish now, sluggish and slow, and you can no more put a name to your discontent than you can count the wealth to which you hold title.

It has been cycles since you returned to the Hynerian homeworld and reclaimed your stolen birthright. Cycles since the end of the last Peacekeeper-Scarran War. Cycles that you have lived here, on the River delta, where a continent's watershed meets the salt-laden sea.

You are the ruler of scores of worlds and billions of subjects. You have buried most of your enemies. You are the sixteenth of your name, and if you have no sway over the spinning of the sun or the ebb of the tide, that is of little matter.

You are Dominar again. It should be sufficient.

***


On the nameless water planet, the distant noise of dueling fightercraft mixed with the more intimate chaos of blaster fire and collapsing buildings into a deafening storm of sound. Like thunder, it broke over you, a deluge of screams and exploding air. The compression shock threw you from the throne sled. The impact of your body meeting the street rubble was nothing against the agony of the roar of the explosion. You were drowning in it – choking on the tumult as though it were sand, plummeting through the sound with nothing to cushion your fall.

Silence.

Dust settled around you in a hissing whisper that made your ears flatten and your skin crawl. Far off, you heard a fast tattoo, a cyclic pounding that drove you into the cover of a crumbling wall, fearful of a Peacekeeper commando team or a Scarran hunter squad. The sound quickened, deepened, racing closer and closer, and you curled inward, huddled into the shadows.

The pounding beat went on and on. Your vision hazed, went monochrome, and it was not until you gasped for breath, throat as dry as your gills, that you recognized the sound as your own heartbeat.

I am the heir of Rygel the Great, you told yourself. It is the end of the universe and I am the heir of Rygel the Great.

There was no one else to listen to your bold declaration, and you stopped believing yourself arns before.

Still, you scuttered forward, creeping out of cover and wresting the thronesled back upright before gliding back down the avenue. A crater marks the mouth of the dead-end alley that the three – the four of you had sheltered in when the explosion ignited.

You saw the Luxan's broad back first, and, beyond him, the shine of Aeryn's boots. You darted closer, opening your mouth to call out.

You saw the dark pool beneath them even as you caught the scent of burnt organics. The air was full of a metallic taint, thick and coy, and it was with some surprise that you recognized the smell of Sebeacean blood.

D'Argo's head jerked up as you approached - the sound of the thronesled, you realized – and he half-turned, raising the Qualta blade defensively. With his movement, Aeryn's body lolled and slipped from D'Argo's grasp, falling to the shattered asphalt. Her eyes stared blindly at you, all the fire gone, leaving only mud-dull emptiness.

The Luxan's words jerked you from your horrified surprise.

"Take the baby."

Leaving you no time to protest, the Luxan ripped the still-smoking jacket from Aeryn Sun's body and threw - threw - the naked and reddish infant at you.

"Back to Moya! Now!" The Luxan spat blood at you, his hands soaked with the gore from Sun's body. "GO!"

And you fled, pushing the sled until the gyros screamed in protest. The Scarrans were drawing back – that had been the body of their War Minister back there - robes smeared with dust and worse substances. The Peacekeepers were likewise in disarray. You clutched the infant to you and trusted speed where you could not keep maintain cover.

Moya made one pass with the docking web, the ship snatching you up like a broad-finned predator of the open sea – diving to pluck you and your burden from the planet's surface, and then racing back up through atmosphere. The speed was incredible, pinning you against the hawser cables with the wind of her passing. The infant sat on your chest like a stone.

Your cloak was soaked when you finally unwrapped the child, material dark and sticky with blood. The baby fussed, opening its mouth and wailing as you peeled the layers back.

You thought it was Aeryn's blood – Aeryn's, or the water from the birthing pool – that soaked your cloak. The baby was fussing, and you took a moment – no more than a quarter of an arn – to hold the baby, hold him and rock him and speak to him, tell him to be brave, tell that his father would be here soon.

You thought it was Aeryn's blood. You did.

***


Spring is a time of hurried preparation – a period of scrambling repairs to season-old levee-breaches, of hastily confirmed business deals, of final preparations before the summer rains begin and cast the City – and the World – into laxity and perpetual celebration, a shuffling hiatus stretching the length of the heat and deluge.

It is the season of drought, of clear skies and burning sun and long, rainless days, that spurs the population to miserly contract negotiations and to marvels of industry and construction. The wealth and ease of the rest of the cycle depend on dedication to the details of the arn – it is a pattern written as deeply into the Hynerian soul as the longing for misty waters and long twilights.

In these days, the justice of the Dominar is a chancy thing, and the Royal temper often short. Canny advocates press for judicial delays and changes of venue; wise off-worlders stay in orbit, and send gifts instead of bribes; and the common folk litter the altar of the God of Clouds with incense and paper shallows-fish.

You sit in your eastern chamber – the direction of change and initiation – and look down on the City, at the landscape and people you rule. The City reeks in early spring, as winter's cool regard peels away and shows the rotting bones of the riverbanks. You blame your temper on the heat and the stink, as does every other Hynerian on the planet. From your window, you can see the streetside pathways creeping along, carrying standing observer and scuttling traveler to their destinations. Above, passing aircars cast transitory shadows over the crowds of sledders and foot traffic.

You remain in the shadows of the eastern room, refusing visitors, turning away your steward, and failing to return the perfumed notes your concubines send to your door. Over the protests of your housemistress – who warns of excess strain on the environmental systems and of damage to the room's more fragile antiques – you make the servants leave the windows open.

Anything might come in!, the housemistress protests, near weeping over the threat to the artifacts under her protection. Anything could happen!

You laugh. You have seen the worlds beyond the boundaries of your empire, and you know how true the caretaker's words could be.

And how false. Some things have passed and will never be again.

It is not a joyous laugh, and the housemistress falls silent. Leave the windows open, you tell her. And then, relenting: When I am not present, do as you wish.

She bows then and leaves you to the cool darkness and the constant rumble of the City.

The spaceport is to the west, across the delta, and you can not see the contrails made by transport pods as they flutter between orbit and the launch field. But sometimes, when the wind takes the proper quarter, the roar of uplift cuts over the sounds of the City.

It has been cycles since you have been off-world, and still it makes you weep.

***


When Crichton boarded Moya – bringing only Chiana with him, leaving D'Argo's body crumbled beside Aeryn's – you met him in the hanger bay, braced for his commendation. But the human only stared at you with eyes as dull as Aeryn's. His knees hit the deck with a crack that you felt in your teeth, and he did not rise until you thrust the child into his arms, babbling foolish nonsense that you prayed will bring rationality back to his eyes.

You told yourself it was only because you had seen the works that Crichton could commit when lost in madness. That you wanted nothing of the destruction he would leave in his wake if left to wallow in his misery. That it was for your own protection – and sanity – that you gave the child back to his father.

Crichton took the child and and stared down at it, as if at a stranger. Then he rose and walked away, leaving Chiana and Stark clinging together, weeping.

If not for your own sense of self-preservation, the lot of you wouldn't have lasted an arn. Crichton refused to leave his chambers – only sat there and held the anemic little thing, both of them apparently too exhausted to make a sound – while Chiana and Stark argued over the best escape vector. You wasted vital time checking Moya's supply hold and ration stores and found - too late - that Pilot had taken matters into his own hands and permitted Moya – startled by an approaching Marauder - to jump blindly. By the time you made your way back to check on Crichton, the human was raving and demanding a Diagnosian for the infant.

You wasted another arn cursing yourself for leaving it to the mentally-questionable human to care for the child. Clearly neither he nor Sun – no matter their intentions – had ever been quality material for parenthood – their decision to birth a helpless child in a warzone being prime evidence of that.

Moya was as terrified as she had ever been. You and Chiana both appealed to her better nature - this is Aeryn Sun's child – Aeryn who loved your son, loved Talyn beyond the telling. Please, please, great mother, let us help him - but rationality required time and an absence of threat to take hold. Finally, Moya consented to allow contact with a world civilized enough to have a Diagnosian worthy of the name. Then it was another twelve arns begging the money-grubbing fool into orbit, and two more for it to actually make the trip.

By then the child was four days old, and so was the wound on its arm. It no longer ate and rarely cried.

Two heartbeats worth of examination, and the diagnostician shook its head.

"The flesh of that limb is necrotic, and the nerves severed as well as the blood vessels. It must be removed. But the child is too weak – it will never survive the operation."

You refused to accept this obvious pandering for a higher fee. "You must do something!"

"What is there to do? It will die."

You dragged out another handful of credits. "You must try!"

It snorted, looking at Crichton – unshaven, haggered, clutching the child (whom Crichton named for the Luxan, of all things) close to his chest – and shook its head.

John's other hand still gripped Wynonna, and part of you couldn't blame the diagnostician for not wanting to take the chance. You dumped a handful of credits into your hand – twice again the Diagnosian's visit fee, which it had demanded even before it would exit the transport pod.

"Who will?"

The diagnostician hesitated, then gave you the name of two other medics – of which only one was within single starburst range.

You threw the chips at it. "Get off this ship while you still can."

As soon as the fool's transport pod cleared Moya's hanger doors, you were shouting at Pilot to starburst.

That world's planetary defenses fired at you before Moya even settled into orbit.

D'Argo's namesake died during starburst to the second Diagnosian, and no one ever blamed you.

***


Summer begins when the rains do – a tenday or so of building tensions and darkening clouds that break, finally, into downpour.

The second full day of rain, the Return procession winds through the City, a sopping, sodden swarm of Hynerians pressed shoulder to jowl. It is insufficient for the parade to cross the City from one edge to the next, but must, instead, meander from borough to borough, crossing and re-crossing its own path. You ride in a covered palanquin at the head of the procession, and when the line finally comes to a halt at on the palace grounds, you rise from your pallet, strip off your robes, and dive into the wide, lotus-covered pool that mirrors the central wing.

On the other side of the pool, your steward and bodyguards draw you from the water and provide cover for you again, even as, back on the City side of the pond, the procession is in the messy process of reversing itself. It will be nightfall before the last of the revelers have retraced their steps through the City.

It will take longer for your guards to relax from the strain of the terrifying day and permit you to sleep.

The River is no thicker than the air in Summer – even when the falling water ceases, the clouds remain, and the heat draws moisture back from the ground to the air, to condense and fall again. The sound of rain – the hammer of water drops on the roofs and on the streets, the spray of water under the impulse of your thronesled, even the hiss of droplet-on-droplet as the raindrops descend through the air – these things define the days and arns of summer.

Generations of Dominars have caused the artists of Hyneria to honor royalty with likeness in stone. Statuary lines every avenue of the City. In the spring, before the rains, teams of groundskeepers scrubbed the monuments clean of lichen and grime, leaving the figures pale as bleached bone. With the rains, mosses take hold again and spread a green film over the features of dead monarchs until they nearly seem to live again.

In summer, they bring you pledge brides – nieces of governors and doyars, opportunistic doctorate candidates and fine-featured daughters of chambermaids. When you protest the unending stream of females, your steward tartly observes that a single Royal Wife could put an end to the relentless intrusions far sooner than any word from an unmarried Dominar. He does not go so far as to imply you erred when, upon your return from exile, you divorced all the surviving members of your former harem. He has little need, for he has said so plainly, many times before.

It may be as he says, for nothing you say stops the summer visitors from disturbing your painting and filling the air with distracting musk. You would assign the smell to an artifact of the season – the pledge brides arrive at your door dripping with rain, and of course their cloaks must be hung to dry before they might leave again, and all the flowers of the gardens are in bloom, so that the air is thick with perfumes – but somehow your staff – even the females – manage to report for duty and conduct their errands without becoming more than damp. It makes you suspicious of the pledge-brides and the way the soaked silks cling to their elbows and the curve of their bellies.

You entertain the nieces and endure the pattering of students and take your pick of the servant's daughters. It is never long before you are weary of chamber music and refined talk both, and have grown sick of the textureless spiced paste that is all the females seem to want to eat.

You never tire of the frelling, but too often, afterwards, you find yourself lying awake, listening to the falling rain in the spaces between delicate snores. In the morning you turn the females out, and your steward awards each a certificate dissolving the engagement as he sees them to the door.

The satisfied smirk they wear at dawn is a better salve for your conscience than the bags of credits you have set aside for the divorce-fee.

The rain fills the pools in the north garden until the basins are full and the excess must be drawn away. The overflow is hauled away bucket by bucket and poured into the channel that leads back to the River. From there, the current envelopes it, takes it past the edges of the City where the River meets the great sea.

It is tradition that the pools are drained by hand. There is no need these days – the Marriage Pool remains empty, as does the Nursery Basin, and the Pool of the Unnamed.

Of this, too, your steward reserves comment.

***


Chiana spent arns begging Crichton to set aside the cold corpse. You passed the time composing a funeral dirge adequate to a warrior's child. Stark, kept from attending to the infant in its last moments, retreated to Pilot's chamber, where he wailed and wept until even the soft-hearted starsteerer could no long tolerate his noise and appealed to you for aid.

It took but a microt for you to convince the Banik to quit the chamber and make himself useful. As he scrambled out, you suggested he assign himself the tasks of collecting a suitable shroud for the infant and assembling a funeral feast. You left Pilot's quarters with the walls still ringing from your voice and went back to your verse.

It was more than adequate, of course – and how could it be otherwise, when a Hynerian royal was inscribing the lay for a cross-bred infant? In an interstellar audience, the dirge was likely worthy of more note than the life it commemorated, and nearly as long. But your heart was barely equal to the task of reciting it, and if the Nebari trelk had been at all literate in Hynerian you would have turned it over to her to finish.

As it was, you rang out of words just as Moya released the little bundle into space. The three of you – for Crichton still sat slumped in his quarters, staring at the wall – stood for a moment in respectful silence before quitting the observation deck for the mess.

At least, you did. Neither Stark nor Chiana had the breeding to attend the funeral feast, so that you were forced to dine alone. Which was how it happened that you nearly died of asphyxiation when Pilot's voice burst over the intercom, announcing that Scorpius's ship was within hailing distance just as you took a bite of breaded Louti nuggets.

Scorpius was the same hard-lined killer that he had always been. He refused to say how he found Moya again and molded his face into a pattern of regret over the loss of Crichton's child. As if the half-Scarran freak could squeeze together a tenth of the sorrow the rest of you ached with, heart and mind, if he sieved through his entire body.

When Scorpius set foot on Moya, you could practically feel the deck recoil from his boots. Chiana shared a look with you - back-stabbing frellnik - and kept D'Argo's quanta blade close. Stark huddled in the corner, rocking, his half-face buried in his hands. You tucked a pulse pistol beneath your robes, and together you and Chiana kept guard on your 'visitor'.

But Crichton – who had not eaten, who had not slept, who had not spoken since the child died – turned at the sound of Scorpius's voice, and listened as the half-Scarran badgered and whispered and insinuated promises. It took a full day, nearly, for Scorpius to convince Crichton to challenge both the Scarran and Peacekeeper warlords, and even less, thereafter, to goad him into birthing the wormhole.

A dozen cycles ago, even two, you would have not cared that Crichton was going to kill the lot of you before the combined might of the Scarran and Peacekeeper armadas could blast the Leviathan in to stray atoms.

In that arn, you didn't. You managed to keep from urging the human to immolate all of you, but only because you didn't want to spend an eternity of service to the God of Lies with Pilot's reedy voice ringing in your ears.

If it were only you and Crichton, it would have been different.

But there was Pilot to consider, and Chiana, and Stark, and Moya herself, and the waters of the afterworld were no place for a Leviathan. So you were made a coward by conscience, and the bold words of defiance died in your throat. You remained silent, and allowed Crichton to climb back into his machine.

Moisture soaked Crichton's clothes, ran down his face. You could smell it – a slurry of salt and sour fear. He closed his eyes – against the sight of the space-born hell multiplying and strengthening outside Moya's hull, against memory, against Chiana's pleas - you could not say. But he closed his eyes, and the new-made wormhole died.

The rest of you, despite all probability, did not.

***


Summer begins abruptly, leaping from the hellish parched heat of spring directly into the deluge. But autumn comes slowly, as the rains gradually ease and grow lighter, and the time between the showers is full of white fog.

The last of the pledge-brides leave, much to your relief, but you have other things to keep you from your brushes now. The business of the Empire is at its height, with the governors of world after world submitting their budgets for the next cycle and their tax receipts for the last and completely ignoring the gap between the two. Against your better inclinations, you make your presence felt at the ministerial meetings, less to actually bother yourself with decisions as to discourage your appointees from spending arns discussing senseless details. You have continued the tradition of entertaining the complaints of those subjects who feel their government unjust, and swift decisions bring fewer whining penitents to your audience hall than do long-belabored debates.

The city itself is in full swing, with barges of trade goods and foodstuffs making their way down the River, and ships from every province of Hyneria tying up at the docks. The personal traffic shifts back from the canals to the moving sidewalks as the summer flood drains away and leaves the passageways clear.

The spaceport, ever counter to the rhythm of life on-world – falls silent now. The instrumentation – even that Hynerian built – fairs worse in the the damp fogs than even summer's constant downpour. Technicians shrug, make stop-gap repairs, and promise complete renovations with the change of the seasons. The mists grow thicker, and while the damp helps hold the last of the summer warmth, the port supervisors grow more nervous with each near-collision. Finally they appeal for permission to close the port for non-emergency traffic for the remainder of the season, and you grant their request.

Despite the activity, the mist muffles the sound of the city, pushing the sounds of machinery and voices far distant. You find yourself gazing at a pale blanket freckled with amber streetlights that are lit earlier and earlier in the day. The western windows offer the most spectacular view, as the setting sun soaks the world with gory light. You take your meals there, alone. You dismiss the cook who sends you a meal featuring the spiced paste, and find one who can make smoked pronga sinew.

You find it is pleasant to sit alone, sipping fellip nectar and watching the color fade from the mist. On some evenings, the fog rises as high as the upper stories of the palace, and leaks in through the cracked windows. The servants mutter and squabble with the heating ducts, sealing little-used rooms and shifting circulation vents to move the furnace-treated air throughout the palace. You walk the corridors at night, watching the shadows pool like slough water, and feel the mist curl around you, pale and full of memory.

The housemistress finds you some evenings, and walks with you for an arn or more. Together you silently appraise the antique paintings and consider the likeness of Rygel IV, that scar-faced bandit, that hangs in the upper audience hall, before you wave a hand and wordlessly grant her leave to go.

***


Stark left first. In the days following what came to be called the Peacekeeper Truce, none of you were overly sensible. Scorpius proved himself true enough to deliver parchments of pardons for you all – set with bright ribbons and intricate seals. He even included one for D'Argo – the Luxan D'Argo – and for Aeryn Sun, but you saw to it that those were destroyed before either Crichton or Chiana set eye upon them. The rest of you stared at the pardons and found not a one of you had anything to say.

Stark was gone for eighteen arns before Pilot bothered to inform you. When you pointed out the problems inherent in allowing a mystic of incomplete sanity to wander about the universe unsupervised, Pilot's tone took on a belligerent note. The interview ended with you quitting his chamber and Pilot promising to give word of impending leave takings before they became previous departures.

The courier who had presented the folder of pardons also passed along news from other portions of the universe. You sat in the mess with Chiana, both of you picking at your meals with your pardons under your elbows, and found your attention caught by news which you had – in one way or another – awaited for over a hundred cycles.

Your people were rioting, and were on the cusp of overthrowing the pretender Bishan.

"Come with me," you said to Chiana, on impulse. She had been clearly pining for the Luxan, and had, still, no other place to go. It was the least you could do, you decided. She stared at you, clearly confused.

"To Hyneria," you said. "When I return, and reclaim my throne, I will have a place for you. You needn't say yes right away, of course," you added, full of generosity. "I make the offer with a glad heart and no intention of taking it back."

There was little time to waste on preparations, and – in all honesty, less to do. Your belongings – including those articles of clothing fit for a Dominar's public appearances – could be packed within a day. You finished with a hamper for the journey, and went to make your fare-wells to the human.

The door would not open for you, so you spoke through the grill. There was not much for you to say to him, despite the journey you have shared, and you did not want to cause him senseless distress by dwelling overlong on Aeryn Sun or the dead child. So you contented yourself with a few words on both female and offspring, and then advised Crichton to let their memories go.

You waited for a response, for some acknowledgment of your words, but the human was evidently so overcome with gratitude for your attention that he could not speak. You told him it was of no matter and reminded him to notify you before he visited Hyneria.

"Just as a precaution, you understand. Good-bye, John Crichton."

In the hanger bay, you found Chiana sitting by the loaded transport pod, her satchel on the deck beside her. You were half-way through the power-up sequence before you realized your error.

"Did you pack your own food?" When she stared blankly at you, you sighed and levered yourself out of your seat and back into the thronesled. "It's quite all right," you told her. "I wanted to get another bit for myself as well, I'll pack something for you while I'm at it. You go ahead and finish the power up."

It was the work of less than half an arn to sort through the beverage bin to find the gahvan-flavored drinks that the Nebari liked best and the red food cubes that she tended to snack on. And of course, to fix another platter of stuffed liwiss-leaves.

But when you returned to the hanger deck, the pod sat empty, screens powered down. You grumbled and went in search of the Nebari.

You searched for over an arn to find her – Pilot was sulking and refused to help triangulate her position, insisting he had an issue with the cooling ducts to manage. You thought of the stuffed liwiss-leaves, left carelessly on the pod's rear seat instead of being placed into the stasis box, and cursed, but kept looking.

You found her, finally, curled in a ledge on the terrace, staring out at the void.

"Aeryn used to sit like this," she said, one pale palm flat against the viewport.

"So she did," you agreed. "However, she's long since dust now, and we have much to live for. Provided I can reach Hyneria before the situation completely destabilizes and some fool declares my homeworld an independent democracy. Will you come along now?"

Chiana shook her head, still staring out the window. "If I go, he'll be all alone."

No questioning who he was. "Nonsense. Crichton will have Pilot, and Moya herself, and before you know it he'll be talking to the DRDs again. Or the phantoms in his head. He'll never be alone." And while you had no doubt that a good frell would do Crichton a world of wonders, you knew from past experience that the human's attitude towards sexual relations was...complicated. He likely would refuse the Nebari's advances, and rejection would do her fragile state no good at all.

Chiana unwound herself from the window and stood, but before you could do more than smile and open your mouth to say, fine, let's go then, she stepped close and flung her arms about you.

"Good-bye, Rygel. Take care of yourself, all right?"

And before you could protest, she released you and fled.

You stared out the viewport for some moments, until the handprint she had made faded away. Then you turned the sled and went back to the hanger bay.

It was four days by transport pod to Hyneria. You spent part of that time transcribing a message to your people, for general broadcast once you had reached local orbit.

On the fifth day, you set the transport pod down in the main square of the City, with the Royal Guard standing ready to keep the crowds from rushing the landing pad.

They cheered you, crying out your name, and told you that they were welcoming you home at last.

***


Winter is never hard on Hyneria. Even in ages past, before the invention of preserved food and heated rooms, the coming cold never brought the dread promised by the scorching sun of spring. Now, with power stations driven by tidal surge and the surplus farm production of two continents and three tropical seas, there is even less to fear. The fogs of autumn linger longest on the riverbanks, but by solstice, they, too, have faded, leaving the night sky brilliant with stars.

The cold brings with it a mirror of the sloth of summer, but while the rains inspire frivolity, truancy, and long treks through the warm downpour, winter instills a slumbering patience, a complacent acceptance of chilled ears and frosted walks. The City remains full, and even swells, as pilgrim children return to the pools where they were spawned. But the factories lower their production quotas, the eateries cut their wait staff, and the City curls in upon itself, as though burying itself in the mud of history once more.

The palace is no different than the rest of Hyneria, and while the process of the government does not cease, it surely slows. You stop attending the council meetings – first skipping a day here and there, and then spending five or six days in other pursuits. The solstice celebration brings events back into high career, but only briefly. You must suffer through another infestation of female guests, but they can not claim pledge-rank in winter, and so you are free to dismiss them at the end of the second day.

The space port opens again at solstice – late this year. You have heard that one of the major launch accelerators was down for twenty days while the maintenance crews removed a nest of reptilian predators. The nest, by reports, was in the sub-drains of the accelerator and required manual removal. As the particular species involved measured some three motras from nose to tail, and came equipped with a predator's dentition this constituted an incident of some note. The port supervisor – a Luxan – had evidently personally volunteered for the task.

You laugh for the first time in a season when you hear this, picturing D'Argo's huge frame squeezed into an access shaft sized for Hynerian technicians. The staffer who bore the tale blinks, but obediently repeats the story, with further details, when you order him to do so.

The evenings are long and quiet, and you find yourself retiring early before the bustle of the palace has completely died away, and left you with nothing to block the far-off rumble of launch traffic. You rise early, as well, but often the dictates of gravity and the movement of solar bodies have brought a pause in the port activity. You wrap yourself in your warmest robe and climb the southern tower to the highest point in the palace. The guard posted there snaps to attention and offers you a salute before opening the balcony door.

To the east, the sky may hold a line of pale color, but if you look directly south, towards the pole, you see only a field of stars.

I have seen those stars, you tell the guard. Myself, I mean, through the viewports of a Leviathan. The guard nods, and says, Yes, my liege. You suspect him of humoring you, and do not strain his tolerance by pointing out the ones where your companions of old bled and died.

It has been cycles, long cycles, even as Hynerians count them. Crichton can bend time, and you are far from certain that he is not, still, somewhere out there among the stars. You like to think that Chiana held you in enough affection to send you word if he had died while she yet lived.

You are growing old. Every cycle seems no different than the ones before. Your people squabble amongst themselves. The Peacekeepers posture at the Scarrans, and the Scarran bare their teeth in return, but the Truce holds. You still refuse to take a queen. The River still rises, still falls. You have your Empire.

It should be sufficient.

After a time, the space port rumbles to life again, and the dawn comes soon after. You wrap the cloak around you and turn back for the stairs.

***


The End
 
 
 
AstroGirl: nobody's puppetastrogirl2 on April 22nd, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)
Lovely level of detail here; it makes Hyneria feel very much like a real place. And such a poignantly-written ending... *sniff*
hossgalhossgal on April 29th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked! (first comment - woot!)

"Feel like a real place" was more or less what I was going for, and I'm delighted to hear that it worked for you.

- hg
Stars: moyasimplystars on April 30th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
Eeeeeeeeee I knew this was you! Because yes, the *atmosphere* and just everything about Rygel and Hyneria and Chi and the circumstances was exactly right. :D

I said it before, but this is fabulous.
eve11: farscape_rygel_drink?eve11 on April 22nd, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
This tale has such an ache to it. How Hyneria moves on, and the Dominar with them, and Rygel's regrets as he still lives his lonely life. Breaks the heart. Wonderfully done.
hossgalhossgal on April 30th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Well, it was a story where both the baby and Aeryn died. It wasn't like I could have turned that into a comedy.

*thinks about this*...otoh, this is Farscape, and they might have tried, in canon...

I'm glad you liked it, and thank you for the rec!

- hg
eve11eve11 on April 30th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
You're welcome, and you deserved the rec too for this lovely story. And ah! I guessed rightly on this one too. You had mentioned getting someone with a shiny new fandom and a beloved older one, which I'd pegged as Supernatural and Farscape, and since I don't read SPN fic yet (only seen the first 4 eps, trying to stay unspoiled), I was kind of hoping you'd write Farscape because chances were you'd write Rygel. I was not disappointed! :) :) :)
hossgalhossgal on April 30th, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
...dude. I am easy, I guess. Or transparent. Or something. *g*

When you have seen the rest of the SPN eps, you should come talk to me. I have a list of good stories by other people, and I can point you to people with longer lists of good stories.

Do NOT let yourself get spoiled. This canon is worth it.

- hg
Kernezelda: Rygelfingerkernezelda on April 23rd, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
I love this. The language is languid and lush, like the world you describe. The customs and rituals you give the Hynerians, the description of the seasons - warm wet, bitter dry, complacent cold - lovingly written. I very much like the pledge brides in season, the divorce-fees. What an interesting economy, perhaps a way to boost young females, give them an edge? I particularly like the doctoral candidates, who can always use funding for further resources.

Seeing to his empire, paying attention to the details of planetary taxes, these are not things I think Rygel had done before his long incarceration and later outlaw years. He'd been spoiled before, and still remains self-indulgent, but there's a maturity to him now, a tempering of his steel.

I love the juxtaposition of the calm passing of days, ritual and routine, with those final days of crisis and destruction. I love that Rygel prepared food for Chiana, and that he gave the eulogy for Aeryn and John's child.

This story makes me love Hyneria, and wish its soothing fogs and mists for John Crichton, who may never know peace again. Chiana and he alone on Moya, both growing older, slower, sadder. Perhaps eventually they'll find comfort in one another, but I doubt it.
hossgalhossgal on April 30th, 2007 01:21 am (UTC)
Have I mentioned that you are a smart cookie? Well, you are. *g*

What an interesting economy, perhaps a way to boost young females, give them an edge?

In my mind, it has something to do with voyages downstream, and chits for safe-passage through the wide waters held by another tribe, and exchanges of fealty. And yes, doctoral candidates, because the Hynerians love their smart girls. *g*

I'm glad that Rygel still came across as self-indulget (and hopefully not the most reliable narrator) - because he's still a selfish, self-absorbed bastard.

I think that John might have liked exploring Hyneria, that he might have made friends there. I don't think he would have done well on Moya, even with Pip, all the rest of his days.

It's odd that you're kinda the god-mother of this fic, being that the original was written for you. Fandom is strange.

- hg

Kernezelda: TFAL John Rygelkernezelda on April 30th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC)
*g* The two stories focusing on Rygel have given me a great affection for the little guy that I usually don't feel, for he is annoying and wants beating with a hairbrush a good deal of the time.

Fandom is strange indeed. Once, Astro and I were throwing around ideas about Baniks, and she wrote a ficlet or so, and after reading hers, I wrote a ficlet-set. And that year she remixed that ficlet-set while I remixed a Stark & Harvey story of hers. That was a lot of cross-pollination going on. :)
AstroGirl: Stark montageastrogirl2 on April 30th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
Once, Astro and I were throwing around ideas about Baniks,

Kerne's too modest. The original idea there was all hers. :)
Stars: moyasimplystars on April 23rd, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
This is wonderful. Angsty and rich and the quintessential Rygel, who was changed by his experiences just as the others, though maybe not as obviously. And Rygel *would* be the one to hold it together, afterward, the only one of them capable of compartmentalizing and making practical decisions... and there is still that hint of grief and guilt, because Rygel loved the baby too.

You thought it was Aeryn's blood. You did.

I love how you added to the backstory, what happened with Aeryn and D'Argo and the baby, the circumstances behind Chiana's apparent decision to leave Moya. I beta'd that fic and I think this is a fabulous companion to it, though kickass enough to definitely stand on its own merits.

This was a fantastic read. Thank you so much for writing it.
hossgalhossgal on April 30th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
Thank you for the lovely feedback, and thank you for the rec!

I'm glad that the story worked for someone who appreciated the original as well, and yeah, filling in the backstory was my first goal here.

Rygel is older than the rest of them (except for Zhaan) and he tends to be...emmm...stuck in the mud. So I didn't want to write him changing *too* much.

Again, you and Kernie are smart cookies, and thank you for the fb.

- hg
(Deleted comment)
hossgalhossgal on April 30th, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)
Well, *wheww*. I'm glad you liked it. I mean, I was going to write this one anyway, but I'm glad you liked this.

The part I was especially nervous about was the changes I made in the exact sequence of events. I hoped that those readers who caught them would realize that Ryg is not the most relible of narrators, and not above changing a story to suit himself, and so look at the rest of the story with somewhat of a more cynical eye.

I was also worried about taking the focus off John and Chiana - I didn't have a hell of a lot of choice, the froggie was very insistent on just who was supposed to be the focus of the story! But I didn't want to be dissing the story pairing, either.

Anyway, I'm glad it pleased, and thank you for the lovely feedback! And oh - Rygel will not act like he enjoys it if you hug him. Just be warned. *g*

- hg
(Deleted comment)
grime and livestockcofax7 on April 30th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
Oh, you. I never caught up with the remix stuff, so I can't say for sure, but I think I would have guessed it was you, because of the frog.

This was, indeed, very very good. Great atmosphere and detail, and you do Rygel's voice so very well.
hossgalhossgal on April 30th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
Well, there was more than this story for the froggie this year (yah! froggie!) So that might not have worked.

And thank you kindly. I'm so pleased it worked for you.

- hg
mirageofmae: atlantis_cityoflightmirageofmae on April 30th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
This is really wonderful. I second everything that's already been said about this story. Very lovely.
hossgalhossgal on May 1st, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading and commenting, and thank you for your kind words. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

- hg
pellucid: Moyapellucid on May 6th, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
Oh wow! Such a vividly and beautifully imagined piece: the rich languor of the language mirroring the tides and the river, the contrast between time present and time past, all of Rygel's hundreds of cycles of experience in layers here. Your Hyneria is perfect, and so moist and earthy and easy, in contrast to the world of stars and wormholes and brittle agony that Rygel left behind and longs for, to a certain extent.

There are too many striking moments and lines to recount individually, but I did particularly love Crichton's response to Scorpius--so chilling and absolutely right--and Rygel's consequent response to the wormhole. And I'll also take away from this the apt and lovely description of Pilot as "the soft-hearted starsteerer."
hossgalhossgal on May 22nd, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
Well, now. *basks in warm fuzzy feedback*

Thank you so much for your kind words. From what you said, it seems that some things I meant to come across worked *very* well for you - the contrast between Hyneria and PKW, and the conflicts among the crew - and my little writerly heart is very pleased.

Thank you for leaving such great feedback!

(Have you checked out the other FS stories? I'd also like to point you at the Labyrinth story by Kernie - you might like that one as well.)

- hossgal