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My Soul Has Tasted of the Grapes

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Zhaan stilled, letting the final notes of her song settle into the vastness of Pilot’s den. The song had not lasted long, her energy long drained by the overpowering experience they had undergone. She had never felt so alone and helpless since joining Moya’s crew as the past few solar days. She rested against Pilot’s console and lifted her hands over her face.

“Our thanks, Zhaan,” said Pilot.

“That was the gift I had to give,” she answered.

“Your presence and voice soothes Moya,” said Pilot.

“Then I am glad,” said Zhaan. “Moya is our life giver and for us to give back to her in any way we can is only right.”

Pilot said nothing but nodded his head to her, continuing his constant motion of piloting the ship.

He truly was a marvel, Zhaan thought. He never slept, never stopped keeping them safe. Pilot was a creature who had given up his autonomy and life to be forever bound to Moya. She had never joined with either him or Moya in unity, but she had several times taken and shared their pain. In doing so, she could not help but get glimpses of their existence and the motivation of their joining. It was a beautiful and unique arrangement despite that it was the way of Leviathans and those of Pilot’s race.

Moya and Pilot had been forced together through his choice and desire and her need and captivity and, despite that, their bond was stronger than Zhaan could imagine having with anyone, made only stronger now that it was reignited through a proper bonding and mutual decision.

She recalled a conversation she’d once had with Crichton when she had instructed him of Moya’s relationship with her crew, that they were symbiotic together. To her discredit she had not considered Pilot to truly be a part of that relationship at the time, now she truly understood how connected Moya and Pilot were. Time and experience had taught Zhaan that one did not truly exist without the other.

Their choice to continue to harbor each of the crew and keep them safe when they might fly free was incredulous to believe, especially when their treatment had not always been tinged with the gratitude Zhaan now felt.

Such thoughts brought up rather shameful memories and Zhaan felt that in light of her new status as Moya’s guardian, they must be addressed before they moved on to any other matters.

What she felt about the situation had changed drastically over the years. Indeed, she had completely reversed her feelings. It had taken a long time and her change of values had been influenced by their experiences, by the people she now lived with, and by her own journey of spirituality.

“Pilot,” she said, finding the words difficult, as they should be. “May I apologize to you?”

“For what, Zhaan?” His eyes widened in confusion. “You have just saved us.”

“I speak of old injuries,” she said, glancing at his regenerated arm and thanking the goddess that Pilot could regenerate and her actions of so long ago had not permanently maimed him.

“Oh,” he said, clearly realizing her intention.

“I am deeply sorry for that wrong,” she said. “We– I, was wrong in my actions that day. I wish for your forgiveness.”

Pilot paused his movements for a microt and then kept on with his work. It was often difficult to tell what he was feeling, but his eyes were more expressive than Zhaan believed he knew. He had opinions and feelings about that day, whatever he might say next.

“I will not pretend that the loss did not hurt deeply,” he finally said. “But, as I told Commander Crichton at the time, my duty is to the crew of Moya and I know why it was done.”

His words bit into her, seeing him still trying so hard to assuage her guilt.

“No, no, Pilot,” she said, gripping the side of the console. “We did not even give you a chance to decide to help us willingly. You were our fellow prisoner and our guide and we treated you shamefully. I did not know this at the time. It has taken these cycles for me to realize how shameful we were and you must not pretend otherwise.”

“As you wish,” he said.

She did not know if the simple words were absolution or agreement so she tried again.

“I-I cannot apologize to you enough,” she said. “But, I also cannot speak for the others…”

“Worry no longer,” said Pilot. “Do not feel the need to advocate for me. It is clear the Dominar is as he will be.” Zhaan could not help but smile at that apt description of Rygel. “Ka D’Argo and I have long ago settled the matter.”

“Indeed?” she asked, surprised, and yet pleased. D’Argo was not one to yield easily.

“He has never apologized as such,” Pilot said. “Yet he also brought me the gift of music and has said remarks of such a nature since that cause me to think he does regret the events of that day.”

Zhaan placed her hand to her breast.

“This fills me with peace, Pilot.”

“I am glad,” Pilot said and paused again. “You have my forgiveness and my love.”

Zhaan finally relaxed. Though she did not deserve them, the words and the feeling behind them, were a balm and she was grateful Pilot was able to feel forgiveness rather than resentment.

“All my love to you and Moya,” Zhaan said, extending her hands in front of her face in a blessing to them both.

She felt rejuvenated and cleansed, one more part of the atonement she sought so desperately falling into place within her being.

“Shall we return for the others?” asked Pilot. “Moya is concerned for their well-being and feels sorry that her attention was pulled from their plight. She wishes to know your command.”

“My wish,” Zhaan emphasized, “is for us to indeed return to collect the rest of our family.”

“I concur with your wish,” said Pilot and Zhaan thought she could detect a note of levity in his voice. “Prepare for starbust.”

Zhaan held onto the console as the familiar blue-white light began to build below her in Moya’s neural cluster. She was freed from the past so she could concentrate on the future ahead. Zhaan was already contemplating how best to plan a rescue of Crichton and the others in case they had fallen into the clutches of Scorpius.

She would never abandon any of their crew, her family, each one important, each with a role of their own. It had taken a long time, but they all fit together now, even with their squabbles, their different agendas, their many foes. The relationships were strained sometimes, feelings many times too long unspoken, a knowledge of being too tightly contained fell over each of them in turn. It did not change the fact that they had found each other, somehow becoming a unit that needed each of the others, none more so than they ship they lived and breathed on and its brave, selfless Pilot.