|Destination Unknown - The Farscape Movie|
by LeatherGirl, E-mail: email@example.com
About Destination Unknown - The Farscape Movie
Summary: This is way too big to summarize. Read it and be entertained! And if youíre familiar with my writing style, the title is more than enough to summarize this fanfic!
Rating: R for mainly strong language, a little sexual content, and some violence
Spoilers: Everything up to Eat Me, S3.
Disclaimer: I wrote this fanfic purely for entertainment with no intentions of making a profit off of Farscape, Jim Henson Productions, Channel 9, and the amazing creators of this show or anybody else involved. When you have fun creating, money is no object. Kaíru is a fictional character of my own creation. As for the many scientific impossibilities found in this fanfic, frell them because this is science FICTION after all!
Authorís Note: This fanfic has to be the largest writing project I have ever challenged myself into producing. I actually felt further away from Farscape than I have been in the past when writing fan fiction, thus making it even more difficult to breathe life into the well-known characters. Real life issues also strayed me away from this fanfic, many of the issues dealing with inner struggle. I bring the final piece to you as my heart and soul. Please read it as a whole and respond with feedback. Even though completion and joy of writing is satisfying by itself, feedback is the ultimate satisfaction in order for me to truly see if my efforts paid off.
Thanks to the following beta-readers for helping me out: pkbarb, jilacosa, and johryn.
Special thanks to the creators of Farscape for a unique look into the world of a universe we may never know.
This story was somewhat inspired by Stephen Kingís latest novel, Dreamcatcher. If you loved The Stand, this one is even better!
John Crichton stared into the amber glass bottle traced with beads of perspiration. He twirled the bottle around so the branded label faced away. The level of liquid within the bottle was low. He’d have to get a refill soon. DK would take care of that. What transfixed the astronaut was not actually the smooth amber glass or the alcohol content within. John’s mind was much further beyond the simple object. Even though he was a tad bit drunk.
"DK! Anuthher round here, please!" John stated with a slur. He pointed to his bottle with his index finger drawn out and smiled. His eyes drooped as he tried to focus on the two stumbling versions of his best friend make their way through the various women standing beside a pool table near the booth where John was presently seated.
DK exchanged a flirtatious glance with one particular brunette on his way to John with two beer bottles wobbling in his hands. He had already spilled a few drops from each bottle by the time he made it to the booth. DK set the bottles down on the table and John held out a hand. DK slapped his own hand against John’s and they clasped their hands together in a tight grip. The two looked at each other with nods of deep understanding. Friends since childhood, DK and John were as close as brothers. Nothing could ever change that.
The two sat in a local bar near the Kennedy Space Station where they were presently employed. The glowing traditional clock stationed above the bar across the room displayed 1:24 AM. Bar time was almost over. Yet the buzzing crowd remained quite boisterous. DK and John had visited this bar plenty of times before during their two-year-long stay in Florida. In fact, several fellow astronauts often came to this bar to relax. The locals knew DK and John well and often drank with them. But this night was different. The two had discussed that exact feeling earlier. No one stopped by to say hello or even nod a greeting their way since they had stepped into the bar.
John scanned the somewhat thinning crowd through the hazy cloud of smoke settling throughout the bar. A rambunctious woman was leaning on an extremely intoxicated man at the dimly lit pool table that still had a few pool balls scattered upon it. A couple of old men were hunched over at the bar laughing loudly and patting each other on the back. A group of questionably young adults were playing a final round of darts, missing horribly and laughing at anything and everything. John took in a deep breath and closed his eyes as he released the breath. He didn’t hear DK calling his name at first.
"John? John? Are you listening to me? Hey bud, maybe you’ve had a little too much…" DK was saying with a laugh as he reached a hand out to pat John on the arm. John opened his eyes and looked to DK with a partial smile.
"Me? You’ve been going to the bar and ordering a shot for yourself every time you’ve gotten us drinks. Sly dog. Wish I had thought of that. Would of put my mind at ease." John stated and looked back to the bar scene he had been observing.
"Come on, John. What’s with the Jack Crichton act? You’re way too serious. Enjoy the buzz and worry about the other stuff the morning after." DK laughed and swaggered a little. John nearly snorted and burst out laughing, exchanging a look with DK. DK laughed even more, nearly spilling the contents of his drink. John struggled to keep a straight face.
"My dad has his moments, okay? Anyway, I’m not like my father. I can hold out on my own. And in a week, we’re gonna prove that and a whole lot more." John stated and brought his bottle up to his lips, pausing. He stared off into seemingly nothing, his eyes sparkling in the dim-lit atmosphere of the bar.
"A fucking hell of a lot more!" DK exclaimed and raised his bottle to John. John side-glanced DK and mimicked his friend. Their bottles tapped and they both proceeded to down their entire drinks. At the same time, they both slammed the emptied bottles back onto the table and let out a breath of satisfaction. DK exhaled a rudely large burp in the process and patted his stomach with pride.
John was about to open his mouth when a flicker of blinding light illuminated the bar. The annoying buzz of fluorescent bulbs began to hum at the break between songs on the jukebox near the door. John shielded his eyes, trying to adjust to the bright light.
"Twenty minutes folks!" A scruffy voice called from somewhere nearby.
"Why the hell do they have to do that?" DK whined and grabbed his head with his left hand. John laughed.
"DK, you need to get out and drink more. How else do you expect them to clear out the bar? Anyone who’s had at least oh, I don’t know, maybe thirteen beers tonight’s gonna want to find a nice, dark place to crash." John stated. DK looked to him with an annoyed look.
"I may be five months, six days, two hours and three minutes younger than you but that is pure bullshit, my friend." DK stated as-matter-of-factly. He had placed his elbow on the table to point at John and was finding it difficult to keep that elbow from continuously slipping off of the edge. John could barely restrain his laughter. If there was one thing that differentiated these two, it was alcohol tolerance. DK could never drink more than eight beers before puking his dinner out behind John’s Thunderbird in the parking lot.
"Listen, DK, why don’t we head on ou…." John started to say, scooting over and placing a hand on DK’s back.
"Well looky here! If it isn’t the famous Astronaut’s son and his lab monkey! It’s been a few, boys. Guess all that wasting of government funding and time at Kennedy has really burned you out. Must be nice to kick back a few before you have to go into quarantine, huh Crichton?" A huge burly man acclaimed. Upon his head was thinning, short hair. A prickly beard was forming on his chin. The man boasted a blue silk jacket with an IASA patch stitched onto the shoulder. Two other men, one much taller than the rest with a balding head and long facial features and the other a stocky man comically shorter with a military crew cut gnarled down over the first man’s shoulders. DK’s smile faded into a serious expression laced with fear. John’s smile also faded, but his face grew serious. His eyes dared the men to provoke them. Just one fist aimed their way and John would show them what he was made of. Pure confidence and strength.
The first man nodded his head and let out a dry laugh. The other men followed suit. They reminded John of puppets on strings. Bobbing their heads and hiking their legs up and down.
"Hey, it’s Mr. Freeze! Your henchmen aren’t very convincing. Listen, it’s been a long night and we’ve all got a lot of work ahead of us. Why don’t we call a truce and go home? Come on buddy, what do you say?" John tilted his head and held out his hands, waiting for an answer. DK slipped a glance over to John nervously, watching the situation unfold. The man leaned forward. He placed both arms onto the table. The empty beer bottles began to slide towards his direction.
"Listen, Bobby, why don’t you, Gregory, and Opus here take the high road the hell out of here and leave us be? You’ve harassed us since we first got here two fricken years ago. Get a clue. We’ve got seniority here." DK stated in a small voice, trying to clear things up but not realizing the anger he carried in his own voice. Bobby looked to DK with a snarl. John slapped his hand onto Bobby’s right arm. Bobby slowly turned his head to look at John with an even larger snarl. John’s stomach churned. He gulped and smiled.
"We’re just holding off on the real, important missions until you and your little soap box take off and fly into oblivion. And maybe you won’t come back." Bobby stated and leaned in closer to John on the last words, biting at each syllable. John only blinked. DK could sense in John’s posture that his friend was slightly shaking with fear. But John remained as steady as he could, holding his ground.
"And maybe I discover that my theory really does work and we steer space travel into a whole new direction. Before you know it, we’ll be getting your sorry asses to the moon faster, dropping you off, and disappearing before you can cry for your mother." John stated with clenched teeth.
Bobby slammed his left fist onto the table. Both John and DK jumped. The motion shook the empty beer bottles into chaos. John’s bottle tipped onto it’s side and began to roll around in a semi-circle. DK’s bottle jumped and actually teetered on the edge of the table, balancing by a hair from shattering onto the floor. Opus scrambled around and kicked the table onto its side as Gregory took a hold of DK’s collar and held him at bay.
"Oh crap." John said in a small voice just before Bobby grabbed him by his shirt and picked him up. Gregory held DK dangling two inches from the ground in his grip and Bobby held John against a pole. Opus searched for the spare pool sticks. Just as John and DK were about to be thrown like chalk cubes onto the nearby pool table, a loud whistle distracted them all. The group turned to look towards the front door of the bar. A man stood with his arms crossed, waiting patiently for any excuse to pounce on the offensive men.
The entire bar grew silent and a few inhabitants decided now was the time to leave. The drunken inhabitants of the bar began to clear out. The bartender and waitresses were finding it hard to keep everything under control.
The man who had saved DK and John stood in the opened doorway thirty feet away in absolute silence. The black night behind him carried in a slight breeze, rippling his IASA jacket. A stern and steady look across this man’s face was enough to motivate Bobby and his friends. Bobby tapped John on the chest, his eyes dancing with revenge. The men released DK and John and rushed towards the back door of the bar, disappearing just as quickly as the man had appeared at the front door. DK stumbled over to John and the two grabbed onto each other. They hesitantly glanced at the man at the doorway and then around at the empty bar. The waitresses began to fan out, cleaning up the night’s spills and messes. The bartender, with a white towel draped over his right shoulder, leaned his arms onto the bar and looked to the two as if they had caused the uproar.
Slowly, the two made their way to the man at the doorway. They managed to keep their gaze anywhere but the man’s face. DK sheepishly began to make his way past the man and stopped. He looked into his face and then looked away. He disappeared out the doorway and John stepped up to the man. He tightened his lips and gained eye contact with the man. Disappointment. John didn’t like to see that in this man’s eyes. He respected him, looked up to him.
"Dad, I…." John began.
"Save it. I’ll take you boys back to your house." John’s father stated, folding his arms over his chest. He continued to gaze into John’s somewhat unsteady gaze. Almost searching for something. John felt uncomfortable under this gaze. His mother had once done the very same thing.
"Dad, you don’t und…" John was cut off once again.
"How do I explain to the boys back at Canaveral that Jack Crichton’s son likes to spend the last couple days before quarantine wasting away at some local bar raising hell with his fellow co-workers? I’m angry, John. Extremely angry. We’ll talk in the morning…oh-seven hundred." Jack barked. John felt the sharp voice piercing through his already aching mind ten times the affect he would if he had not been drinking. He took in a deep breath and mumbled something.
"What was that?" Jack almost ordered an answer. Something was bothering John. Jack could sense it and had known it for days now. It was extremely unlike his son to disregard all responsibility like this. High school and college had been the time for drinking and being young…now John was an astronaut with more than just the world to prove to.
"Yes. SIR." John stated and hung his head, brushing past his father as he walked out the door.
Jack turned half way to watch his son try to walk somewhat straight towards the jeep. Jack felt sinister for being the bad guy this time, but knew even though John was drunk, his son could never really disrespect him in any way. John thought the world of him. Even before he had gone to the moon. Even before the medals and the national attention. Even when he sometimes hadn’t made it home for John’s birthday.
The blazing orange sliver began to melt into the deep blue ocean at the horizon line. Orange pools of reflected light glittered on the shimmering water, begging for more life than the oncoming nightfall would allow. A slight salty breeze whooshed across the surface of the endless waters from the darkening clear blue sky above.
Sifting his sandals through the cool, saturated sand at the edge of the oncoming tide, John observed the final sliver of the day’s sun slip under the horizon. The cerulean blue tint in the sky this evening was incredibly beautiful. John wondered if his perception of things was enhanced due to the fact that this was the last sunset he would witness for nearly a week before the big day.
DK cleared his throat. John’s clouded mind cleared for a moment as he turned to his friend standing just to his side. He had nearly forgotten that DK was there. DK had earlier agreed to come along with him to the beach to have a chat. This was a secluded, somewhat swampy beach that few had access to. The two childhood friends often would sneak away to this government owned area to get away from the headaches of life. They had an incredible view of both the endless Atlantic Ocean and just miles away, the incredulously shrunken silhouette of the empty launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
"Hey John?" DK asked, looking to his friend with one eye narrowed in question.
"Yeah?" John asked in a half-hearted tone. His mind was elsewhere.
"What were you talking about at the bar last night? You know, about ‘proving a whole lot more’? You’re not making this into a mission to prove to the world that you can hold out on your own, be your own hero…are you?" DK pushed the subject. The gentle breeze rippled through his loose-buttoned shirt, revealing some of the slight muscle on his chest.
"You actually remember the whole night after all that drinking? I’m impressed with you DK." John joked. DK chuckled but grew serious once more. John smiled and dropped his head for a moment. He dug his hands into the pockets of his jeans and shook his head. He then raised his head to look to DK.
"Actually, DK, no. I love my father and I think he’s the coolest guy in the entire universe. That’s not what’s really bothering me, DK. Far from it, actually." John turned to look back over the wavy ocean before them.
"Then what’s bothering you, man? This should be the most fucking exciting time of your life! Relish it! I sure the hell am!" DK leaned forward, raising his voice with a smile. John flashed a smile in DK’s direction. "Maybe…maybe it’s Alex. She wasn’t worth it man. She’s long gone anyway. Course, the way you were staring at that bottle last night, I sure as hell thought sooner or later you’d be asking it to marry you."
John flashed another look to DK. This one urged him to go no further on the subject. Alex had been John’s first true love. A couple years earlier he had asked for her hand in marriage. But career won over love in Alex’s case. Perhaps John was too stubborn to leave with her and give up his dream project. Either way, John figured they were both better off.
"And another thing…how did your dad know where we were? How the hell did he show up with such good timing?" DK questioned in bewilderment. John turned his entire body towards DK. He then began to walk past him, placing a hand on DK’s shoulder and making eye contact.
"You ask too many questions, DK. That’s why you’re such a damned good scientist." John said with a grin and continued on his way up the beach. Parked on the gutted out path leading to the main road was John’s prized car. The pure red paint job of his 1962 Ford Thunderbird glowed even in the dimming light of dusk.
DK spun on his heels and hurried to catch up to John. He was a curious man indeed. Ever since they were kids, DK had always been the one to take a closer look. John himself was a curious soul but he had always had a few more brain cells, knowing what spelled trouble. Of course, that never kept either of the two out of it, though.
"Tell me, man. Are you having second thoughts about Farscape One? We’ve been over her a thousand times already. She’s perfect. A fucking beaut. And if you’re worried about the weather, don’t be…we’ve been blessed by a dry season so far. Five day forecast looks clear as a bell. It’s all a go. All our blood, sweat, tears…all of it has come down to Friday afternoon. The second you lift off, our entire futures will never be the same. Everything will change. We’re going to prove your theory and we’re going prove to the world John Crichton and his very intelligent life-long friend DK are not to be messed with!" DK stated with confidence. John stopped in his tracks to listen to his friend and observed his excitement, feeling some of that energy beginning to tingle within himself as well.
"Except for the hottest chicks who will no doubt throw themselves all over us once we step foot out of that debriefing room Monday morning." DK held out his hands in a quick bout of laughter. John tried to retain a straight face and looked into his friend’s ecstatic expression.
"DK, my…our life-long dream is about to come true, I realize this. We’ve been blessed with all the right breaks and favors to get this far. But you have to realize that once I get up there and proceed to prove a highly disregarded theory is good enough for me to relish in at this moment. I’ll worry about all the small stuff when the time calls for me to. Right now, I’m just happy to see my last sunset before quarantine." John grabbed DK by the shoulders, gave them a squeeze and headed off to his car.
DK, with a somewhat puzzled look transforming onto his face, followed John with his eyes. He then jumped to catch up to John. John climbed into the driver’s seat just as DK took a faithful leap and landed in the passenger’s seat without bothering with the door. John shook his head with a smile and started up the car, switching on the lights in the darkened evening. He shifted gears and spun some sand before the car took hold and zoomed off down the path. The red taillights glowed like a pair of eyes, growing smaller and smaller as they headed further down the path with a trail of dust swirling behind.
The glowing yellow sphere flirted with the hazy atmosphere as it lifted up into the sky. The dawn of a new day. The tall shuttle representing American pride was silhouetted by the sun, resembling an erector set. Cape Canaveral. A few songbirds awakened the rest of the world to the early morning around him. John sat at the head of his car, staring at the sunrise. His head was spinning with thoughts, concerns, and most of all, hope. A tiny fluttering feeling was teasing his stomach but John ignored this momentarily to relish in his surroundings. He inhaled the salty, earth-enriched air around him and smiled.
Sure, he had broken quarantine to come here and witness this sunrise, but John knew there was some importance to doing so. Usually not one for philosophical mumbo-jumbo on fate, John was somewhat disembodied. His intuition was growing stronger by the moment, screaming to him that something was about to turn sour this fine day.
On the contrary, listening to his intuition was the least of his objectives today. John was determined. He was about to make history. He was going to break into a whole new world of thought and discovery. A significant discovery needed in the constant struggle to reach into the outer boundaries of the planet and better yet, the solar system that bound the fragile human race.
The sun rose higher into the sky, it’s golden rays kissing the edge of the space shuttle stationed on the platform. John smiled even brighter before preparing to leave. He was going to prove a theory that had been dancing around his head since he first realized his dream of space travel had become real. John Crichton, astronaut and scientist, was going to be a hero.
"Launch in ten…nine…eight…." A calm female’s voice carried over the airways of several loudspeakers situated throughout the grounds at Cape Canaveral.
An impressive crowd of family, friends, and the media were gathered at the viewpoint a mile or so from the launch pad. John’s two sisters and their families were among this crowd, waving American flags and crossing their fingers. Across the entire planet, television sets, radios, and even Internet broadcasts were tuned in to the launch…history in the making. No matter the time of day or night, the entire world was watching.
The scientists in the control room of IASA headquarters stood near their monitors, watching through the windows with hope and excitement dancing in their eyes. The maintenance crew that helped with transporting the shuttle stood in a hanger, watching from afar.
DK hovered above his chair, ready to jump into the air at lift off. His eyes nervously scanned the weather satellite images and instantly updated data displayed on the computer monitor before him. The newspaper with the article headlining childhood friends proving a theory lay sprawled across the desk beside the computer.
Jack Crichton stood nearby with his hands in his pockets, secretly scrunched so hard into a ball that his fingernails were digging into his palms His face remained steady and cautious, watching through the windows of the control room and praying. He thought of a moment he had shared with his son just an hour earlier. John had mentioned he had a feeling of rattlers in his stomach. Jack dared not to admit the same and reassured his son that everything would be fine. He gave John the puzzle ring laced onto a silver necklace given to Jack by the famous Russian astronaut, Yuri Gagarin. It had always brought Jack luck and hopefully, the superstition would hold true today.
John thought of the small module sitting within the shuttle beneath him. John and DK had slaved over the module, appropriately titled Farscape One, for what had seemed like an entire lifetime. Every nut and bolt holding that baby together had been personally overseen or even screwed in place by either John or DK. John had dreamed of this machine for so long, it seemed he had never thought of anything else in his entire life. The buzzing of the engines firing up from below began to vibrate throughout the shuttle. A moment passed when John thought all might go up in smoke but then realized this was it. He was going to prove his theory. He was going to slingshot across the atmosphere of Earth, using its gravity to catapult his module to previously unprecedented speeds. The roaring rumble of the rocket boosters shook him back to tasks on hand and John quadruple-checked every monitor and warning light on the panels before him. Determination and pride boiled within, masking those rattlers briefly. John felt like screaming at the top of his lungs. He smiled and relaxed his body.
With an incredible pull against gravity, John, the shuttle, and the rocket booster that empowered it shot upwards towards the heavenly blue above. The crowds below screamed and hollered with excitement, some jumping up, others throwing a fist into the air. The control tower was nearly shaking as every body and soul in the building shrieked and danced. DK let out a whoop but continued his steady gaze on the monitors. He, too, was feeling rattlers in his stomach. Jack Crichton smiled with deep pride and admiration, beaming at the barely visible shuttle above the stream of smoke from the rocket boosters head up into the atmosphere.
The buzz of excitement began to settle as scientists concentrated on the task at hand. Within thirty minutes, the rocket boosters had been released and the shuttle had been stationed in orbit. John’s module was currently being raised into outer space. The view was most likely incredible. Jack smiled and thought about joining his daughters at the space center. DK’s frantic voice interrupted his thoughts.
"John abort!" DK exclaimed, dancing in front of his computer as if ants were crawling inside his pants. Jack rushed to the monitor, barely acknowledging the glaring warnings flashing across the screen, and leaned forward. He didn’t need technology to tell him something was wrong…his intuition was enough.
"Son, you have to abort! Abort now!" Jack screamed into the microphone on the desk.
Before any of them, perhaps even John, knew what was happening, the module disappeared off the screens, vanishing from any detection. An odd silence fell over the entire base. Even with months ahead screening for any wrong action or warning unseen, John Crichton and Farscape One would never be heard from or seen again.
John awoke in a fierce cold sweat, rolling onto his side. Unfortunately, the incredibly soft bed he had been lying on was not long enough to roll around on. John fell with a rude thud onto the hard floor below. With his palms flattened out on the warm surface, John could sense a slight moving sensation from the floor. He took in a deep breath. Straightening, John sat onto his bed and rested his head in his hands. Just another nightmare. So vivid and exact he sometimes thought he was really there. He could still feel the cool sand from the beach or smell the fresh air off the ocean.
For an ounce of a second…microt…John had thought he had been home on Earth in the comfort of planet-induced gravity and his soft feather bed. The calm lapping sound of waves crashing ashore that had often lulled him to sleep was now a quiet humming noise of thousands of parts working together to propel a large ship through space. He had been living aboard Moya, the biomechanoid Leviathan ship for nearly three cycles now. John had learned that dreams were dreams and home was further away from reality than the stars sparkling out the small view screen in what he claimed as his quarters.
Earth was a far away dream that had once existed two and a half cycles…or years in Earth terms…ago for John. He had indeed proved his theory in a way, but also discovered a whole new universe that changed his way of thinking forever. Somehow, he had created a wormhole and was transported to another part of the universe. So far away that even the strange creatures he encountered here didn’t know what or where he was from. They hadn’t even heard of Humans.
Here, now as a fugitive with knowledge that even these highly superior beings hungered for, John lived a life that challenged each day. John was not alone on Moya, however. He traveled with a crew of several other odd species who were fugitives as well but for different reasons. They had grown close like a family and learned to honor each other’s differences. If any of them had a home to return to when the time came, it would be difficult to separate.
So many struggles and setbacks had tangled with their lives as the fugitives traveled deep into a space known commonly as the Uncharted Territories. Love, distrust, loss…they had encountered it all. The extremes often challenged John’s scientific boundaries. He had learned that nothing was for certain in this far away universe. Not even death.
A twitching noise came from nearby. John would have jumped on a normal day. He knew all too well the sound of the small yellow "bugs" or biomechanoid robots that often patrolled the ship. The DRDs, or Diagnostic Repair Drones, were the eyes and ears of Pilot, the creature that controlled Moya and interpreted her actions and feelings to the crew. John let his hands rest to his sides and shifted to see the tiny glowing eyes of the DRD as it approached. It bounced into his feet as a teasing gesture. John let out a laugh as he realized this was the DRD that had been damaged the first day he had arrived on Moya. One of it’s antenna eyes had nearly been severed. John had taken a snip of tape from his gear and carefully wrapped up the antenna, fixing the DRD and restoring the light receptor that resembled an eye.
"If I had a watch or any way of telling what frelling time of the morning it was right now, I’d have to say you are way too early to be bugging me now. What’s up?" John asked the DRD as if it would be able to talk back to him. He used terms more common in the Uncharted Territories like they had been a part of his vocabulary since he first learned how to talk. But he never lost the phrases and words that were so unique to his culture. The "Crichtonisms" confused his fellow crewmates and that both pleased and frustrated John.
With a huge sigh at realizing sleep for the night was over, John stood up and stretched. The darkness of the quarters could easily be changed by command, lightening to a soft glow. But John preferred the darkness for the time being. It complimented his mood.
Walking through out the twisting maze of semi-lit halls to Command, John allowed his thoughts to wander like his feet. The reddish tint to the oddly structured halls reminded John of his treasured Thunderbird. Where was it now? Had his father taken it back home and covered it? Maybe DK had taken ownership and finally gotten to cruise the town, picking up chicks. John often wondered whatever came of his family, friends, and Earthly possessions. Throughout his time in the Uncharted Territories, evil beings that he had encountered had toyed with his memories of home. More than once, John had been fooled into believing he had made it home and was amongst his loved ones once again.
Much the wiser and quicker to distrust, John was now a forever changed soul. And just recently, his persona had taken on a more angered tone of caution. The curious scientist who had once welcomed new discoveries now questioned them. He also constantly carried a pulse pistol on a holster on his right thigh. A necessity out here indeed, even for the most peaceful of mind.
The DRD whisked past John and hurried towards an opened doorway just down the hall. The large chamber where the crew often converged contained the largest view screen on the entire ship, save the Terrace where there was no ceiling at all save the space that surrounded them. Even with his most present concerns, the concept of the Terrace with a breathable atmosphere and centered gravity still perplexed the human.
John stepped into Command and no longer could see or hear the DRD. What he observed instead was that all the interior lighting had been turned on to full capacity. It was quite bright in here for this time of the night. Night was something only the body’s cycle was able to determine. No sun or clock could tell the time.
Quietly walking up to the console near the right side of the room, John observed the incredible view out before the ship. More brightly lit stars flavored this canvas than John could have ever witnessed from even the outer stretches of space near Earth. Amazing but heart-breaking at the same time. Here he was, the first human to make alien contact and survive unbelievable adventures. Traveling in distant space not even the Hubble Telescope could see. Witnessing the past, present, and future of the stars from within an enormous living ship. Alien contact on a regular basis. Trouble and the threat of death always within an arm’s reach.
Taking in the quietness, John realized he hadn’t enjoyed this unusual serene silence in quite a long time. As he leaned forward onto the console, a sudden noise from behind caused him to jump out of his skin. John instinctively reached for his weapon and spun around to face whatever it was that had disturbed his silence. His racing heart skipped a beat and John rested his butt against the console in relief. A woman of striking beauty stood before him with a look of concern spread across her face.
The woman wore a black tank top and black leather pants. Quite unusual for this time of night. Her bare shoulders boasted her well-toned muscles. The firm look upon her face told of discipline and strict attention.
John gave the woman he had grown to care for a warm smile. Her look almost projected an angry response. Instead, the rigid woman stepped forward to view the controls on the console. She opened her mouth. John expected a harsh comment but only saw her yawn instead. She side-glanced at him and smiled, giving John the feeling that all was well.
"What are you doing up?" She asked, observing the controls.
"I should ask you the same, Aeryn. I couldn’t sleep. ‘Sides, that DRD brought me here." John said, looking around to see if he could spot the gone missing DRD. Without so much as a glance, Aeryn continued her motions with ease.
"You must be seeing things again, John. The only DRDs I’ve seen have been patrolling the halls." Aeryn stated in a bored tone. She looked to the view screen to observe the sight for a moment. John rolled his eyes and straightened. He turned to face the view screen once more and stole a glance in Aeryn’s direction. She was looking radiant even in the early morning hours.
"Yeah, whatever. So what’s your excuse?" John asked wryly. Aeryn glanced at him with a questioning look. The look passed as she grasped his inquiry.
"Pilot mentioned some strange readings earlier and I just wanted to make sure everything was secure." Aeryn stated and looked deeper into John’s troubled eyes. "The crew’s worried about you. I’m worried about you."
Memories from his dream about his past flashed through John’s mind. The look his father had given him at the bar. It was the same look Aeryn was giving him now. John felt uncomfortable, unable to handle this kind of confrontation regarding his own personal well-being. He tried to redirect the conversation.
"We need to find another peaceful commerce planet. Food and supplies are getting low." John stated what Aeryn already knew.
Indeed, the crew was growing short on supplies lately. In fact the space they were occupying at this moment was bare and uninhabited. Not a single planet, let alone an inhabitable planet had been detected for over a weeken in their travels. Being in uncharted space and often the prey in a hunt by numerous enemies, the crew often struggled with this dilemma.
"John…if there’s something wrong, you have to tell us. No more of the Scorpius dren." Aeryn charged on. She spoke of John’s nemesis with disgust. John frowned and turned Aeryn to face him. She peered at him with caution.
"Scorpius has left the building, Aeryn. If you really want to know, I’ll tell you. Dreams. Or maybe nightmares to be more exact. Nothing like Scorpy could conjure up. Just pure and simple dreams of home. Happens now and then and it’s nothing to get worried about." John smiled at her and leaned in to give her a quick kiss on the lips. Aeryn savored the kiss; John could see it in her eyes. Aeryn watched him with question as he drew away from her. John turned half-way to leave.
"Good because we have enough to worry about already. Rygel eats more than his weight in an arn, we have two new crew members to keep an eye on, and the supply of cartridges for the pulse rifles is depleted." Aeryn replied. John only nodded, his thoughts already elsewhere. He then left Command almost as swiftly as Aeryn had arrived. Aeryn frowned. Pilot’s image appeared at the clamshell on the wall.
"Keep the DRD on him, Pilot. Trust amongst us has been compromised one too many times. I want to know if he even so much as sneezes, understand?" Aeryn ordered, glancing over at Pilot. The creature wore a surprised expression.
"If there’s anyone on this ship to trust it is Commander Crichton, is it not?" Pilot questioned.
"Pilot, even D’Argo agrees with me on this. The entire crew does." Aeryn argued. She turned back to the console and stared out the view screen.
"Pilot…." Aeryn began with an angered voice. She took a deep breath and turned to face the imagery in the clamshell. Her face displayed annoyance. Aeryn’s patience had been dwindling quickly since her return from the dead monens ago.
"I am no longer an officer." Aeryn barked. Her angry eyes frightened Pilot. He nodded to acknowledge her statement.
"Yes, offi….Aeryn." Pilot obeyed, wincing as he made a slip in addressing her.
"Just do as I say." With that final comment from the ex-PeaceKeeper, Pilot disappeared from the clamshell.
Aeryn exhaled tiredly as she leaned onto the console with a heavy face of guilt. She cared deeply for John. Lately, especially now that she was living a life that had been gifted back to her from death, Aeryn was beginning to realize something. Her life until now had no real purpose. She had always believed what she had been ordered to believe. She had obeyed every order as a Peace Keeper and never questioned anything. Not even things she may have disagreed with.
Now, Aeryn was beginning to think about her future. Did she want to continue living on the run? Always picking up the mess and saving her seemingly helpless crewmates? And her past. She yearned to gain access to her family’s history. Why had she never known her father? What had ever happened to her mother?
Time was coming for Aeryn to make a decision. The only problem was that she had no decision to make. Moya was the only place she had to stay. And she wasn’t about to go live on a planet any time soon. Aeryn had been raised on a ship in space. For now, Aeryn simply kept to herself and observed those around her with caution. At this very moment, her instincts were screaming to her. Danger was always hiding in the shadows. Aeryn was determined to reveal the danger. And dispose of it as efficiently and quickly as possible.
Day one. John sat with his arms folded and resting on the tabletop in what he had claimed as his quarters. The lighting within was dim. Settled before him on the table was the flight recorder from his module. The day had been a long, stressful and incredible ride he would never forget. His head was spinning with questions. Most of all, his heart yearned for home.
John had just recorded a message to his father on this recorder. Something he would do often in the treacherous upcoming months aboard this Leviathan.
Everything he had encountered in the past day had been extremely wondrous and frightening at the same time. Excitement thrilled him as much as the adrenaline still pumping through his veins.
He had been on another planet today. Another planet. Just wait until Dad heard about this! He’d probably have John sent to get a head CT and make sure nothing was rolling loose in his skull. Of course, that was if John was ever going to make it back to Earth…in one piece.
John had made alien contact. Several alien contacts. He was bewildered. Hell, he was even presently seated on a living space ship. He had been injected with translator microbes to enable him and others to understand the infinite languages spoken in this part of the universe. And exactly how far away was he from Earth anyway? Definitely far from the Milky Way. Probably light-years from the furthest visible light source via the good ol’ trusty Hubble.
A frown formed onto John’s face. He had also made an enemy. Of course, who was to say the alien beings he was trapped with at this moment weren’t his enemies as well? Instinct. John had a feeling about them. But he also had a feeling about the Captain Crais he had encountered today. The man…if that indeed was what he really was…had accused John of murdering his brother. The mistaken run-in passed through John’s mind. John had no control over that. This Crais was a vengeful soul.
The various events paraded through his mind like a movie. Being sucked through a wormhole, caught in another world’s war, witnessing more than his home planet could ever dream of seeing, standing on another planet, meeting other intelligent species, using his theory a second time…. The theory! John bolted upright. He had proved it after all! It had worked! Unfortunately for him, the only reason he hadn’t really acknowledged that when it had occurred was simple. No wormhole had formed the second time. And no wormhole meant no returning home. John didn’t even want to think about what his father and DK must be going through at this point in time.
How long would he be stuck in this place known as the Uncharted Territories? Would he ever see home again? Would Captain Crais really hunt him down? And would that little green slug Rygel actually steal all his stuff?
John looked back at his recorder and felt the day’s stresses and bruises settling in. He was truly exhausted. As he turned to make way to what resembled a bed near the wall to his right, John stopped cold. His heart skipped a beat. The being standing near his bed was not who he had originally seen in this memory. John stood and came to face his sly grinning nemesis. Scorpius was back once again in his mind.
D’Argo charged through the hall on Moya, his face set in anger. The large Luxan living aboard the ship had had many setbacks in his life. For eight grueling cycles, he had been a prisoner aboard Moya when she was a prisoner ship under PeaceKeeper control. His crime: murdering his wife, Lo’Laan, a Sebacean. The truth came to be that Lo’Laan’s brother had killed her in a rage against her marrying another species and not one of her own. D’Argo was falsely imprisoned and separated from his son, Jothee. He had been searching for the boy since his freedom two and a half cycles ago. Once he found his son, under the unusual circumstances that had come to play, D’Argo pushed Jothee away. Jothee in turn found attraction to D’Argo’s love interest at the time, Chiana, a Nebari. This spun off a disastrous effect in all three lives involved. After the upsetting affair was revealed, D’Argo became temporarily suicidal. Jothee decided to leave Moya, to prove to both himself and his father that he could do better in life. Chiana struggled to resolve the differences now set between her and her former love. And D’Argo strived to resolve the inner turmoil within, unsure of whether he wanted to love again.
Chiana was not far behind D’Argo in the hall, chattering incoherently fast. The Nebari had come to Moya as a prisoner. Her life changed drastically and she became free aboard this ship. After being labeled as a tralk and a skilled snurcher by the crew, Chiana had to work her way to respect. Though she had been aboard for two cycles now, Chiana still struggled. She was young but had a good heart. And she was desperately trying to speak with D’Argo without being brushed off. Of course, after the incident with Jothee, Chiana couldn’t blame D’Argo for not wanting to be around her anymore. Still, they had to live with each other and to do that, they had to communicate and get along.
Recent events had brought them closer since her escapade with Jothee, but Chiana still sensed things weren’t going to go back to normal. Chiana was determined to change that. D’Argo had to forgive her. After all, he had treated her like a child, underestimated her, and even pushed her away while searching for his son.
Rygel appeared ahead of the two, floating in his throne sled with his chin held high. Former Dominar XVI of over 600 billion Hynerians like himself, Rygel had been imprisoned. He had fallen asleep on his throne, only to be impersonated by his cousin. Bitter ever since, Rygel’s ultimate goal was to reclaim his throne, and destroy his cousin.
Rygel had finally come to terms with living on Moya with the crewmates he secretly cared for. He was beginning to realize the benefits of living with a bunch of criminals. They often came upon treasures and money that begged for proper handling and ownership. Rygel was the perfect little Dominar to take on the job. And keep everything for himself.
D’Argo eyed Rygel suspiciously as the Hynerian approached. D’Argo slowed to a stop. Rygel stopped his throne sled before D’Argo and looked up at the sneering Luxan with a bored expression. Chiana caught up to the two and smiled. Opportunity awaits.
"Out of my way, Luxan." Rygel demanded. D’Argo crossed his arms and stood tall with a grin.
"D’Argo, while you’re here…." Chiana began with a nervous laugh. D’Argo allowed his gaze to fall onto Chiana for only a microt before looking back to Rygel.
Rygel backed his throne sled only a few denches. He looked from Chiana to D’Argo. He shook his head, muttered something under his breath, and redirected his throne sled to pass by D’Argo. D’Argo trailed Rygel with his eyes as he passed. Rygel ignored the Luxan and sped up once he had gotten back into the open hall. His third stomach was rumbling, announcing that it was time to eat once again.
D’Argo was about to take a step forward when Chiana stepped in front of him. She placed her arms on his chest to stop him and smiled briefly at the touch. D’Argo sent her a chilling look and she lowered her arms. But she steadied her gaze into his eyes, realizing that somewhere within, the sweet D’Argo she had loved and continued to love had not disappeared.
"What do you want, Chiana?" D’Argo asked in defeat. He lowered his arms to his sides and waited impatiently for Chiana to speak.
"I want you to talk to me, D’Argo. I know you. You’re sweet, gentle…and you listen. So please, listen to me now. We need to talk about…things. We need to resume our lives, try to forgive the past, and move on with the future. I love you, D’Argo, I always have. Even if you don’t love me, I need you to at least respect me. I’ve always been able to take care of myself. But I’ve become so much stronger…so much more caring because of you." Chiana stated with tears beginning to float in her eyes.
"Do you regret what you have done? Do you realize the pain you have caused me?" D’Argo barked. Chiana shrunk back.
"Yes, I haven’t even begun to forgive myself, D’Argo. I never meant to hurt you." Chiana stated in a small voice.
D’Argo opened his mouth to reply. Suddenly, Moya jolted, sending both Chiana and D’Argo into the wall nearby. Chiana cried out and D’Argo grabbed a hold of her as the ship began to shake violently.
"Pilot! Aeryn, John! What’s going on?" D’Argo yelled into his comms.
"We’ve come upon some kind of force field…I’m not certain what it is. Moya’s scans are going fahrbot." Pilot shouted back.
"I can’t see the stars beneath us." Aeryn’s puzzled voice stated on the comms.
At that moment, Moya came to an abrupt stop. Chiana and D’Argo remained stationary, arms held out ready to embrace the walls in the event of another shaking episode.
"What the frell was that?" Chiana demanded to know. The two stood up and looked to each other in question.
"I think you better come to Command, D’Argo." Aeryn’s confused voice urged over the comms.
Stark and Jool appeared in the hall to the left. They slowed as they approached Chiana and D’Argo. The four joined together and headed towards Command. Jool was her normal impatient, whiny self. Stark was on alert, his face set in concern.
Stark had come to live with the crew only recently, as well as Jool. He had survived many unspeakable tortures and had even been dispersed at one point. Thought dead, Stark returned unexpectantly. He indeed had come back from the dead, to warn the crew of danger. After several distressing events, Stark became a permanent member of the crew, only to lose his one true love, Zhaan. He now reigned as a spiritual replacement, tuned in to Zhaan. Yet he still retained his unusual insane personality.
Jool was one of the Interons John brought back from the Ice planet where he had had surgery on his brain. The same place that Aeryn had died not too long ago and had been brought back to life by Zhaan. Jool survived the process that unfroze her and became a member of the crew, whining and unappreciative of her spared life. She had talents that could be useful to the crew, but cared not to share them.
"Does it ever get boring around here?" Jool asked, not getting an answer nor expecting one. She whipped her red curly hair around, a strand whisking across Chiana’s face. Chiana veered away in disgust, glaring at Jool.
"I sense some strange energy waves in this region. Perhaps we’ll know more once we can see what’s out there." Stark suggested. Stark began to lead the group as he eagerly wanted to see what all the commotion was about. Anything he could do to keep his mind off of the recent loss of his love, Zhaan, was welcomed.
Rygel appeared ahead of the group near the split in the hall. He glanced at them for a moment and proceeded forward out of view, towards the opened doorway to Command. The group quickly caught up and entered Command as well. John was already there, standing next to Aeryn, staring out the view screen in awe. Pilot’s image was displayed on the clamshell and Rygel had joined the two to look as well.
"What is it?" Jool asked without a care for an answer. She stopped behind John and crossed her arms. The others stopped in a line along with Aeryn, Rygel, and John, to stare out the view screen.
Before the crew, existed the usual vast black canvas of space out the view screen. Only the numerous sparkling distant stars that normally painted the view were diminished to a few distant lights. The direct space below and far all around them was littered with swirls of light surrounding perfect cylindrical black holes. The swirls consisted of dust, gases, minerals, and even unlucky ships and their inhabitants, breaking apart under the incredible crush of gravity. These swirls were far between each other, and some were even pulling onto each other, the stronger winning the fight. There were seven such swirls in Moya’s direct view. Never before had any of the crew encountered such an awesome sight.
"Black holes." John stated in a small, wondrous voice as he stared on. He was awestruck: controversial black holes in his very line of sight. The scientists back home would have died for an opportunity like this. Black holes were mystical and little was known about them. The one thing that was absolute was the fact that if you could see a black hole in person, you were in deep dren. John’s stomach began to flutter. He backed away and pointed at Pilot.
"Reverse! Starburst! Do something or we’ll be sucked into one of those black holes!" John ordered. The rest of the crew grew anxious.
"What are you talking about? You’ve seen this before? Are they dangerous?" Jool asked with fear seeping into her voice. She too began to back away.
"I’m afraid I can’t do that, Crichton. There’s a force that is pulling at Moya. We’re slowly being pulled towards the closest of these ‘black holes’." Pilot announced fearfully.
"What are black holes, John?" D’Argo questioned with urgency riding his voice.
"Pilot, you have to get us out of here now!" John ordered. "Those black holes can disintegrate anything. They suck in all light and matter around them. We have to move now!"
The look on his face was nearly enough to motivate Pilot and Moya. Moya began to back away from the chaos.
"We’ve already passed one since we’ve encountered these things. Maybe you’re mistaken." Aeryn charged, looking at John. John titled his head at her and scoffed.
"Aeryn, you don’t understand…these things are…." John stopped, once more looking out the view screen.
"What is that?" Chiana asked with a quiver in her voice.
A large ship passed above Moya, rambling her and everyone within slightly. The ship was of unfamiliar technology and obviously out of control. It careened towards the nearest black hole to Moya. The crew leaned forward with fear in their eyes. The ship was violently thrashed into a spin and exploded near the edge of the black hole. The large shards of the ship and its contents merged with the matter already spinning into the black hole.
The crew leaned back and allowed the sight to sink in. They then turned to John, ready to listen.
"That ship. We didn’t even see it coming. Pilot, are your scans still working?" Stark pondered. Silence came from Pilot. The crew waited for a few microns as Pilot checked the scans and communicated with Moya.
"No." Came the surprised answer from Pilot. The crew once again turned to the human. Doom spread across his face.
"The ship was headed straight for that black hole. That’s one thing. But we still should be veering towards it ourselves right now."
"But we’re not." Jool stated the obvious.
"And I want to know why." Aeryn finished.
"Maybe they’re not strong enough. Maybe…." John became silent, the scenarios running through his mind on how any of this could be possible. The crew looked to him impatiently. They were scared and in the hands of someone they considered inferior to them. They did trust the human, but they still had their reserves about him.
John suddenly looked up and snapped his fingers. He looked to Pilot.
"Pilot, was there a solar system here at one time? Can Moya at least detect that? Anything at all that could be the result of all the matter we see out there?" John asked.
Pilot looked to his console before him in his chamber. He depressed a panel and tapped a button. After a long pause he looked up.
"Nothing but empty space." Pilot responded.
John’s face drew serious and he turned slowly to look back out the view screen. His shipmates stared at him in question, some glancing back and forth between him and the black holes. Aeryn stepped forward to face John. She brought up a hand and grasped John’s chin. She turned his head to face her, his eyes glazed over in worry and dread. John’s eyes settled onto Aeryn.
"What is it?" Aeryn demanded an answer.
"There’s only one explanation. Those black holes…are remnants of failed wormholes. Someone’s been attempting to create wormholes…and are screwing up badly." John answered. Silence fell amongst the group and they all faced the view screen once more. The swirling mass of matter around the black holes held an eerie feeling. Now the only question was who was trying to create the wormholes turned black holes?
The spinning spirals of colorful light were already dimming. A few even dissipated, blending in with the black canvas of the surrounding space. These mysterious black holes were collapsing into themselves fast.
Moya hovered at a somewhat safe distance, stationary and quiet. Her senses warned of high levels of radiation—even higher than a Leviathan ship could handle for long periods of time. Though in slight distress, Moya was faithful to the crew she sheltered. She remained in place, awaiting orders.
"So what you’re saying essentially, is that we’re frelled." John stated in a bewildered voice. Seated on the console in front of Pilot in Pilot’s den, the human was desperately trying to rationalize the wormholes. Pilot was annoyed. John was annoyed. And Stark was annoyed.
"Would you get to the point please? Any more of this nonsense and I’ll be joining Zhaan much sooner than I had planned!" Stark screeched as he raced across the pathway to Pilot and John. His face was reddened in anger…well, the left side that wasn’t covered by his metal mask anyway. John straightened his posture and glared at Stark.
"We are not going anywhere Stark. You must study your opponent before you head into battle. Thought you would have learned that one by now." John barked. He turned to Pilot who was busily communicating with Moya.
"You’re sounding more and more like a PeaceKeeper." Stark insulted John. John slowly turned his head to glare at Stark with narrowed eyes. Stark felt no fear. He was merely as sane as the human on all accounts.
John opened his mouth to reply but quickly recanted. He turned back to Pilot.
"We’re not frelled, Commander. If we were, we would be as you call it…space dust by now. Moya’s senses indicate that these black holes of yours are dissipating and collapsing inwards. They’re essentially harmless now." Pilot assured the distressed human. John’s shoulders drooped and his face displayed frustration.
"Pilot." John stated and leaned forward to point to a pulsing green control before Pilot. "Those radiation levels are enough to poison both you and Moya. And once that radiation seeps in, it’ll kill all of us, too. And my anatomy sure as hell ain’t designed to enjoy those kinda rays of sunshine."
Pilot gave John the usual strange look of misunderstanding. John could almost see the thought pass through his large shell head. You are the strangest creature I have ever met.
Stark stepped forward to remind the two he was still there, fretting over their current situation. He leaned onto the console with his hands and looked at Pilot with his one wide eye.
"I demand you to turn around immediately and get us out of here!" Stark ordered.
John frowned as he allowed his foot to swing back and forth over the console. He observed Stark in silence. The first time John had met the Banik Slave was back when he was imprisoned on the Gammak Base. John shivered. The painful experience of the Aurora Chair remained like an opened wound in his memory. Stark had dealt with the chair far longer than John had and in fact seemed quite insane the first day they met. Soon, John discovered Stark’s anatomy allowed for extreme pain and suffering. In fact, he could even ease other’s pain and did so when John had been extremely weak from the effects of the dreaded chair. After several bizarre and harrowing events over two cycles, Stark was now here with him on Moya, living the life of a fugitive. John looked down, trying not to think of the other being he had met at the base and listened to Stark and Pilot argue.
"Maybe you would like to take a venture outside to help things along." Pilot was saying. John muffled a laugh. Stark sent him a glare.
"We must do something!" Stark cried.
John hopped off the console and faced Stark.
"Cool it. We all signed on knowing the terms. You can’t step out on this one. It’s all the way or nothing. And nothing means going out there, into space." John stared straight into Stark’s angered eye. He took a deep breath. "Listen, why don’t you go get something to eat or meditate or do whatever it is that makes you calm and rational. Pilot and I have things under control…for the most part."
John flashed Stark a smile. Stark seemed to calm down slightly. He looked to Pilot who nodded in confirmation and then looked back to John. A suspicious look passed through Stark’s face before he turned and left Pilot’s den. John turned back to Pilot and released a deep breath.
"D’Argo and I will inspect the fluid lines in maintenance bay 3 to see if we can’t cross-reference the Defense Shield for some long-term protection." John stated in a calm voice, forming a plan as he spoke. Pilot nodded with worry blanketing the fear both he and Moya felt. John turned half way and looked back to Pilot. He smiled once more. "Don’t worry, Pilot…we’ve been through worse."
The human marched off leaving Pilot with Moya and the controls. Somehow, Pilot sensed this was only the beginning of the worst.
Red flashes. Yellow pulses. Blue sparkles. Green blinking. Strings of these colorful lights decorated the large section of a sandy beach. The ocean spilled out to an invisible horizon of a crystal clear night. A full moon rested above the graceful ocean. Soothing waves of the Atlantic crashed onto the beach. Millions upon millions of tiny sparkles of light speckled the dark sky. An occasional meteor streaked across the sky, followed by countless shouts of excitement from down below. Laughter floated into the slightly cool air. A warm bonfire lit the lonely section of beach and the ecstatic crowd of recent graduates. Many were dancing in a group near the fire to music blaring on a boom box. Others were in small clusters, drinking alcohol and pondering their futures. And two best friends rested down on the beach, away from all the madness.
Aside from the noisy crowd nearby, the two could not believe the overwhelming silence of nature surrounding them. The silence was both beautiful and frightening at the same time. Somewhat like the experience of being in space.
DK sat on a large rock, dangling his bare feet in the cold waves. John lay on the bare sand nearby watching the small meteor shower streaking across the night sky. DK glanced over at his friend and laughed to himself. This was one MIT grad who could never get enough of the stars, even on the night they were supposed to be getting drunk silly and scoring with their girlfriends.
"You are one strange person, John." DK laughed. John raised his head briefly to give DK a crazed smile.
"We’re about to run dry, my friend. How many more beers do we have left?" John called back. DK leaned over to view the contents of a blue cooler resting to the side of the rock he was seated on.
"Two. I hope the girls aren’t missing us." DK stated. John laughed.
"Don’t worry, I’m sure Melissa has plenty to keep her entertained."
"Hey! She only works at that joint to pay back her loan. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, you know!" DK said in as serious a voice as he could.
"DK?" John’s voice carried a serious tone. DK tilted his head and looked to his friend.
"Did your parents show up?" John asked of the graduation ceremony earlier that day.
"No." DK’s disappointed voice answered. John hoisted himself upwards and looked to DK.
"Look, I’m sorry man. Just know that my Mom and Dad are as proud of you as they are of me. In fact, probably ten percent more!" John winked.
DK let out a small laugh. He shifted so his body was facing John. He scooped up two bottles of beer and snapped off the caps. Smoky wisps of air whirled above the lips of the bottles. DK stood and handed one to John. He sat back down on the rock and took a gulp of his beer. The gentle waves crashed along the beach in the silence. The two men contemplated about life for quite a long time before speaking once again.
"What are we going to do now?" DK asked, not really expecting an answer. He looked to the sky, almost begging for a response from above. John lay back down on his back and observed the stars, the question running through his mind.
A rather large meteor glazed across the atmosphere hundreds of miles above. Both DK and John muttered in surprise at the brightness of this meteor and continued to as it streaked on and grew brighter. The burning meteor now becoming a meteorite sparked something within John. He snapped his fingers, startling DK into spilling a little of his drink. John watched the meteorite fizzle out and sat up in excitement. DK could swear he could see the excitement glowing in his friend’s eyes through the darkness.
"Man oh man why didn’t I think of this before! Atmospheric friction…traveling at the speed of light…it’s all possible DK. It’s been at our fingertips since the beginning of mankind and no one’s ever even thought of it!" John rambled on at light speed, his hand raised with a finger lowering on each point made. DK looked at his friend as if he had just come from another planet.
"Maybe you’ve had a little too much to drink…."
"DK! Listen to me! Since the beginning of the space program, humans have been limited by travel in outer space. Traveling at light speed. It was simply impossible to generate enough power…we’ve got it, DK. All along, we’ve been staring at the answer all along." John’s voice began to rise in excitement. DK began to catch on, with excitement growing within his own stomach now.
"Traveling at light speed. We’d need a shuttle with damned high quality aerodynamic design to do that." DK muttered, making about as much sense as his friend at the moment. Equations, thoughts, theories, and physics raced through both the graduates’ minds.
"Using the Earth’s atmospheric friction and the speed generated from that…DK…we could send a shuttle into unprecedented interstellar travel." John said. His stomach was fluttering, his heart was racing, and his mind was littered with possibilities.
"To Pluto and back in less than a week." DK smiled. The two nodded to each other in perfect understanding. Though sketchy at the moment, this was the beginning of an incredible theory that would change both their futures.
Nearly half an hour passed. DK ventured to the main party to gather more alcohol. John lay in place with a smile plastered on his face. Exciting ideas were formulating in his mind. A loud clapping noise disrupted his thoughts. John lifted his head and his smile slipped into a frown. Seated on the rock where DK had previously sat was Scorpius. John sat up with caution. Scorpius lowered his arms and gave John a chilling smile. The moonlight shone off his leather suit as Scorpius stood. John scrambled to stand.
DK called to him like he had in John’s original memory, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. John’s heart rate quickened and the half consumed beer bottle in his hand slipped from his grasp, toppling over on the sand by his bare feet.
John stared into the dark, hollow eyes of Scorpius, feeling an intense rage filling his every bone. DK called once again. In the original memory, John had answered. This time, nothing came from his opened mouth. DK answered as if John had responded just like in the original memory. John titled his head. What was going on?
John was slightly disoriented. How had he gotten to Tier 3? He remembered leaving Pilot’s den but he could not for the life of him remember traveling all the way to Tier 3. At least he was still on course for maintenance bay 3. Had he asked D’Argo to meet him there yet? John shook his head. What was going on this time with his mind? He tapped his comms when Aeryn appeared down the hall, traveling towards him. John’s heart skipped a beat at the beauty passing him by. He loved her more intensely than he had ever physically and mentally loved a woman. And he now knew that feeling was mutual since Aeryn had proclaimed her love for him just monens ago.
Aeryn did not acknowledge him, however. She kept walking, her face set in anger. John would have thought this typical of the ex-PeaceKeeper a cycle or two ago, but knew better. He caught up to her and grasped her right arm gently. Aeryn spun around, her long black hair swirling in the air, glinting off the light of the hall. John looked into her troubled eyes as she came to a stop, facing him. He released his grip on her arm and frowned.
"What’s wrong?" John asked gently. Aeryn blinked and held her emotions at bay. John could see she was fighting back tears. He wanted to bring her close in an embrace but somehow sensed now wasn’t the right time.
"We need to get out of here now and no one is doing a single frelling thing about it. I’m going to Pilot. I know I can do something." Aeryn had always displayed incredible devotion to Moya.
"Really, what’s wrong, Aeryn?" John asked again, unsatisfied with her answer. Aeryn stepped forward, her face growing stone cold. John instantly began to regret stopping her in the first place.
"Your frelling wormholes, that’s what’s wrong. They blind you. You don’t see the danger. You react with your emotions and not your intelligence. It is stupid and selfish. Don’t you see what you’re doing to Moya? To Pilot? To your crewmates? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say your more fahrbot now than before the surgery on your brain!" Aeryn exploded with anger. Her face grew red as she shouted into John’s bitter expression. John’s patience was wearing thin. Aeryn was only seeing her side of the situation and it was making him angrier than she appeared to be. Aeryn, in John’s eyes, had chosen the wrong moment to release her anger towards him.
"Wormholes? Is that what this is all about? Explain to me please why you won’t even get close with me lately?" John roared back. "Is it because I’m human and you’re Sebacean? We wouldn’t want to contaminate the bloodlines now would we? It would do your species some good to gain a little intelligence and heart."
John stepped forward, so that both were now nose to nose. They glared at each other, daring the other to say something that would give one an excuse to strike the other. She called me selfish. John couldn’t believe Aeryn was so blind to his devotion to his research. He had the mivonks to insult me. Aeryn had expected strange and dull-witted words from this human before but he had crossed a line this time.
"What’s with you lately, really?" John pressed the issue. Aeryn glared at John, her look warning him to go no further on the subject.
"Maybe I should be asking you the same thing. You seem distant. Are you sure Scorpius isn’t bothering you again?" Aeryn stated. She held her ground before John, her fists clenched. John took immediate defense at the mention of Scorpius.
"I am no longer under his control, Aeryn. You know that." John raised his voice.
"How can I trust you completely again? I don’t deny my love for you but…." Aeryn stopped. She could not believe she had said that. John paused as well, realizing how hard it was for Aeryn to speak of her feelings. John stepped closer to Aeryn, breaking the boundary she had been protecting.
"But what?" John replied softly, feeling his love for her conquer his anger.
"I…I…." Aeryn stuttered, distracted by John as he ran his gentle hand across the small of her back.
Before John could do anything more, Aeryn shoved her hands into his chest, pushing him away. She began to walk away but John grabbed her arm and brought her back to face him.
"I’m getting sick and tired of this crap, Aeryn. Talk to me!" John raged.
"I don’t know where my future is going anymore, John. I’ve never really had to think about it before. I was a soldier destined to die in battle. I’m no longer a soldier. I don’t even know who I am or where I came from." Aeryn spilled out the truth. John was shocked. This had to be a first for Aeryn. She never had revealed her inner turmoil to him in the past like this.
"That wasn’t so hard, was it?"
"I’m serious, John. I don’t know where I belong anymore. I…I want to leave Moya." Aeryn revealed the ultimatum that had been swirling within her for weekens now. John dropped his jaw in shock.
"What?!" He shouted and shook his head. "I won’t let you, Aeryn. I love you…I can’t let you leave."
"What happens when you find a wormhole to take you home?" Aeryn challenged.
Their heated argument instantly sparked something between the two. John grabbed Aeryn and embraced her. She welcomed John’s embrace and wrapped her arms around him. Their lips met and they kissed passionately for microts, nearly teetering over several times. The couple bumped into a nearby wall and continued to kiss. They were completely focused on each other, unaware of everything around them. His heart raced and his mind swirled as he kissed harder. Her body tingled and she pressed her body onto his, kissing back with the same intensity she received. Nothing in this universe could distract the lovers now.
[An arn later…]
A cloudy wisp of steam swirled up through the cylindrical columns protecting Moya’s essential neural clusters in maintenance bay 3. D’Argo stood beside the columns, staring into the steam, lost in his own thoughts.
"Hand me that wrench, will you?" John’s muffled voice called out from the pit within the columns. His right hand stretched out towards D’Argo.
D’Argo did not respond. He continued to gaze as John hoisted himself up out of the pit he was working in. John looked at D’Argo impatiently.
"I’d say Earth to D’Argo but it seems Moya to D’Argo would be more appropriate. What’s up, big guy?" John asked. He swung his legs around so he could sit facing D’Argo.
With a solemn expression, D’Argo leaned up against one of the columns beside John. He took a deep breath and exhaled.
"I miss my son." D’Argo stated simply. The Luxan’s eyes had grown misty as he spoke.
John knew the feeling all too well. He smiled at D’Argo and patted his friend on the shoulder.
"He’ll be okay, D’Argo. He was on his own long before you two were reunited. He’s young. He needs to figure things out for himself."
"John, I pushed him away." D’Argo spoke with intensity. He shook his hand to accent his points. "I hurt my son. I should have been embracing him; teaching him of Luxan traditions and honors like my father had taught me. I should have been sharing the memory of his mother so he could know what a glorious woman she was."
"D’Argo." John began. He stood to be in more direct eye contact with D’Argo. "Jothee knows who his mother was. He’ll always remember her as a loving, caring mother. He won’t forget her. No son could ever do that." John shook his head; his own eyes began to moisten. D’Argo sensed sadness in John’s voice. He titled his head but remained focused on the current issue.
"Jothee needs a father, John. He needs someone to tell him everything’s okay. I don’t want him struggling to survive each day like we do. He deserves so much more than what fate has handed him." D’Argo glared at John. The strongest emotions were swirling within him. Tears were floating in his eyes but anger burned deep within them. John grew weary of the Luxan’s emotional state. John nodded once, tightened his lips, and then relaxed his posture.
"Don’t worry, D’Argo. Jothee already has an incredible father. He’ll be fine. He’s a survivor…just like you and me." John responded finally. He then turned back to the neural cluster.
"Jothee is a strong young man, you’re right. But can I trust he’ll do the right thing? He sure as hezmana didn’t when left alone on Moya with Chiana!" D’Argo enraged, his voice escalating in anger. John spun around to face D’Argo once more; tired of the anger the Luxan had been carrying around within himself for monens since Jothee and Chiana had betrayed him.
"Forgive and forget, D’Argo." John bit back. "It’s in Chiana’s blood. Frell, they’re both young and stupid. Are you sure you didn’t do something like that when you were their age?"
D’Argo snapped. He lashed his tongue out at John. John leaned back quickly, barely escaping the tongue-lashing. He instantly retrieved his pulse pistol from its holster and had it aimed at D’Argo before either man could take his next breath. D’Argo backed away from the column he had been leaning on to face John. Both men nervously yet carefully observed the other, waiting for an excuse to strike.
"John, D’Argo, have you reconfigured the neural cluster yet?" Pilot’s untimely question came over the comms.
"No!" Both men growled in response. The tone of their voices was enough for Pilot not to respond.
"Cool it, D’Argo." John warned.
"Or what, you’ll shoot me?" D’Argo laughed.
"I just might." John answered. His eyes never left D’Argo’s. His face was beginning to redden with anger. D’Argo suddenly realized the intensity of the situation and took a deep breath.
"Look, I’m sorry John. I got angry." D’Argo tried to calm the situation.
"Yeah, well you get angry a lot. Maybe you should look into some anger management courses." John stated with annoyance as he holstered his weapon. Both men then relaxed.
"Maybe you should join me." D’Argo stated with sincerity. John tilted his head and sent a doubtful look D’Argo’s way.
"Just promise me you’ll give Chiana another chance. She’s crazy about you." John said. He then crawled back into the pit he had been working in. He glanced back up at D’Argo to see that he was considering with heart what John had suggested.
D’Argo knew the human was right yet again. He still felt love for Chiana. In fact he had cared for her like no other woman since Lo’Laan. Yet he could not let go of the past. Chiana had betrayed him and tried to deceive him. It had all been for her benefit. If D’Argo couldn’t get past that, then he could never move forward with her again.
"Hey, D’Argo, the wrench? Please?" John called out, stretching his hand out once again from within the pit. D’Argo’s thoughts were disrupted.
"Oh, here." D’Argo said, scooping up the wrench resting on a tool crate nearby. He placed the wrench in John’s hand. John grasped the wrench and began to work once again.
"Thanks, D’Argo." John called out.
"No…thank you, my friend." D’Argo stated. John raised his head up in surprise. D’Argo smiled at him and headed out of the maintenance bay leaving John to work alone. A look of confusion enveloped John’s face. He shrugged and then clambered back into the pit. At least somebody on this ship was going to make amends.
D’Argo rested his Qualta Blade on the table in his quarters. He gazed at the weapon fondly, thinking of his son who only monens earlier had finally come back into his life. D’Argo was about to discuss something with Jothee when his son had picked up the Qualta Blade, admiring it with wonder and awe. D’Argo could sense the pride his son had for him. However, he also had sensed the anger Jothee carried beneath the surface. Why had Jothee and Chiana disrespected him? D’Argo was still angry about the affair between his former love and his son. Now that Jothee was gone on a quest to find himself and Chiana was left to make amends, D’Argo was unsure of what he wanted for his future. A small sound distracted D’Argo. He sniffed the air and smiled slightly, savoring the sweet smell of Chiana. He turned to face the Nebari standing in the doorway behind him, her face streaked with tears.
D’Argo stepped towards her at the same time that she stepped towards him. The two met up in the center of D’Argo’s quarters. D’Argo reached to place his hands on Chiana’s shoulders but retreated awkwardly. Chiana looked up to him and flashed a small smile of embarrassment. D’Argo’s eyes were soft and caring, nearly causing Chiana to fall in love with the Luxan harder than ever. Her feelings for him remained true, no matter what kind of tralk she could be. Unfortunately, being a tralk was in her nature and only now was she beginning to behave more devoted to one being. Throughout the two and a half cycles living aboard Moya, Chiana had grown more mature and stronger than ever. D’Argo realized this in her and loved her for it. He only wished that he could truly love her for everything she was once again.
"D’Argo." Chiana addressed him.
"Chiana." D’Argo responded in the same tone.
"You have to trust me, D’Argo. If we’re going to be…friends now. This ship is only so big for the both of us to be avoiding each other all the time. I may be young but I know what’s right and what’s wrong. I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. What truly makes someone who they are is if they can forgive another for an unforgivable act. D’Argo, you’re a sweet, strong, sexy man and I…." Chiana stopped, realizing she had stepped closer to D’Argo and had begun to twirl his braid like she had always done in the past. D’Argo had frozen, unsure of what to do or feel. Chiana backed off again and looked down for a moment. "What can I do to make things the way they used to be?"
D’Argo remained silent. Chiana felt as if a weight had partially lifted off of her shoulders. Yet she still shivered with anxiety, wondering where their relationship would go from here.
"Nothing." D’Argo finally replied but then smiled. "We’ll just have to start over."
"I know I’m a tralk and that’s what everyone expects me to be but…what did you say?" Chiana rambled on for a moment before realizing what D’Argo had suggested. Her heart skipped a beat and she stole a step forward. She tilted her head at D’Argo and smiled flirtatiously.
"As friends, Chiana. Nothing more…at least not for a while. I think we both need some time alone." D’Argo explained and smiled caringly at Chiana.
"I can respect that." Chiana nodded with a serious voice. She stepped back and looked to the floor. D’Argo paused and then drew Chiana in for a hug. The two embraced warmly, as friends and nothing more.
D’Argo let out a big breath and released Chiana. Chiana looked up at D’Argo’s face, waiting to see what he would do next. D’Argo only smiled back at her, his eyes telling her he still loved her but his actions showing her that their romance was over. Chiana beamed back at him and the two knew at that moment that things were finally getting better between them.
Stark sifted through the few physical remnants Zhaan had possessed during her stay on Moya. He sat in the center of his former lover’s quarters, smiling fondly at the memories that passed through his somewhat distressed mind. Stark gazed at Zhaan’s ceremonial objects among the remnants and looked towards the ceiling. He closed his eye and looked inward on himself, searching for the place Zhaan had taught him to go. This place was a sacred place in the soul, where a being could be one with the universe and one with himself. This was also where Stark could reach Zhaan in the afterlife…if he was lucky.
All physical surroundings disappeared and Stark felt pure peace. He breathed in deeply and opened his eye. All around him was a white plane of empty space. He turned slowly, his arms outstretched in caution. Zhaan was there and he could sense it. But where?
"Stark." Zhaan’s gentle voice stated. So close Stark swore he could feel her breath on the back of his neck. He turned and true to his intuition, Zhaan was standing there before him, smiling more beautifully than he remembered of her.
"Zhaan! Oh Zhaan!" Stark cried and reached for the Delvian. They connected in a hug. After a microt, Stark looked Zhaan straight in the eyes and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Zhaan released her grip on Stark and stepped away. Stark’s shoulder’s drooped as he began to think she was leaving him. Instead, Zhaan only smiled back and tilted her head in wonder.
"How did you ever become so sweet?" Zhaan asked, not expecting an answer. Stark smiled at his love.
"You made me more than I ever thought I could be." Stark responded.
"What is it that troubles you so?" Zhaan pondered further. Stark’s smile faded. He already knew what she spoke of. True, he was quite an unsettled individual. He would often become frantic and react on pure emotion. Stark could only blame the dreaded Aurora Chair he had spent two cycles with Scorpius fine-tuning it’s efficiency.
"N-n-nothing. Nothing at all, Zhaan. I am here with you and that’s all I need." Stark stuttered. Zhaan tilted her head in the other direction. Her eyes were almost piercing into Stark’s own soul. He was beginning to feel that all too familiar urge to snap start to fill his existence.
"Why do you lie to me, Stark?" Zhaan asked.
"I would never lie to you, my love! Never!" Stark cried, falling to his knees.
"Harness your anger, Stark. Know that I will always love you. Remember everything I have taught you about your mind. Goodbye Stark." Zhaan stated. Her image faded from view.
Stark cried out, reaching for her and fell to the floor on Moya with a thud. He blinked several times, pulling himself up from the floor. The white space was gone just as instantly as Zhaan. A few of Zhaan’s possessions rolled away from Stark’s feet as he stood up abruptly. A bewildered expression formed onto his exposed face. Stark backed out of Zhaan’s quarters slowly. The moment he arrived at the doorway, he turned and made a mad dash for the hall, racing as far from the quarters as possible.
Aeryn stared into the mass of black holes out the view screen. A feeling of dread had settled into her stomach. Her dark eyes carried a trace of fear. This ex-PeaceKeeper who had always had the notion of dying during battle, could not comprehend the newest threat to her existence. Granted she was trained only as a soldier, not as a tech or scientist. She could not even begin to understand the gibberish from John about these black holes. She smiled warmly at the thought of the human. Their earlier encounter had been amazing. But the two quickly separated afterwards and headed their separate ways, as if they had nothing further to discuss. Aeryn had felt lost yet satisfied...the tension between the two was now gone. And while Aeryn had learned to rely on her feelings, she did not want to acknowledge the sinking sensation that provoked alarm within her. She knew she had to be focused and alert.
Chiana and Rygel had retreated to the Galley to eat even in the time of crisis, as usual. Jool had accompanied them as well, muttering something about fearing for her life and complaining about it, as usual. D’Argo had been called to assist John, as usual. And Stark was nowhere to be seen, again as usual. Aeryn was standing in Command, with nothing better to do than stare out the view screen and ponder what life could have in store for her now. Ever since her recent death and resurrection, Aeryn had a new outlook on her life. She felt the first half had been wasted on being a soldier, nothing more, and nothing less. A life valued in number, in battle against the enemy. She was realizing there was so much more and that her life was a gift. Zhaan had risked everything to bring her back to a life she did not want to return to. Zhaan had died to save her. Aeryn owed it to Zhaan and herself to do more. Be more.
The black holes appeared to be collapsing in on themselves now. The strong pull on Moya had lessened. The threat now appeared to be diminishing. Aeryn was almost tempted to leave and resume her daily exercises. But something caught her eye. Aeryn stepped forward, placing a hand on the console before her. Her heart began to beat faster. A spark of happiness ignited within.
"Pilot!" Aeryn called into her comms. She turned to see Pilot’s image appear on the clamshell. She then turned back to the view screen to watch the object she had spied coming closer.
"Yes, offi…Aeryn?" Pilot asked, nearly forgetting their earlier conversation. Aeryn did not notice.
"Talyn! I see Talyn. He’s coming this way." Aeryn announced. Pilot checked his scans.
"Moya does not sense any…." Pilot began. Aeryn interrupted him.
"I see him, Pilot. He’s coming towards us. Establish contact immediately." Aeryn ordered.
"Moya cannot sense Talyn nor can she receive any frequencies from him. Perhaps the radiation levels have skewed transmissions. I will try once more." Pilot informed Aeryn.
"They’ve most likely seen us by now. I’m going to the Docking Bay." Aeryn stated and left Command.
As she headed for the Docking Bay, Aeryn reminisced about the gunship she had grown to care deeply for. Talyn was Moya’s offspring. He was a hybrid gunship, half Leviathan with PeaceKeeper weaponry genetics. While still a baby, Talyn was separated from his mother.
Aeryn thought of the man who had taken over and commandeered Talyn, Captain Crais. Like Aeryn, Crais was now an ex-PeaceKeeper. And like Aeryn, he had bonded with the hybrid gunship. The little ship had adopted him and him alone as its temporary captain. Every instance that Moya and Talyn met, Aeryn jumped at the chance to board Talyn. Somehow, she felt at peace on the gunship.
"Remember, Talyn. There must be no mention to Moya as to where we have been. She does not need to know anything of Scorpius’ new Gammak Base." Crais spoke to his ship. Numerous bleeping and flashing lights illuminated the interior cabin of the adolescent gunship Crais was commandeering.
Talyn was not too happy with this request. Moya was his mother and he wanted to impress her with his travels and achievements. Unfortunately, Moya would not approve of most of his adventures. This was because Talyn had a harsh PeaceKeeper side to him that allowed for fighting in battles and rushing into situations without much thought. On the other hand, his Leviathan qualities included loyalty, trust, and friendship. He could be a caring little hybrid…when he wanted to be.
"Talyn, please. You must trust me. It is for Moya’s own benefit." Crais persuaded.
He smiled as Talyn’s bleeping commenced. He had been joined, via a neural transponder, with Talyn a cycle ago. He understood the gunship’s every emotion, every thought, every impulse. Crais stepped forward to view Talyn’s mother out the view screen. They were already approaching the area where Talyn would dock so Crais could travel in a transport pod over to Moya. The enormous Leviathan looked somewhat stressed, under the incredible gravitational chaos occurring throughout the present field of black holes Talyn was entering.
"You must remain quiet about the secrecy of this base. The human, John Crichton especially must not know of Scorpius’ existence or his work at the base. Can you promise me this?" Crais asked and paused, awaiting an answer. The ship bleeped once. Crais smiled even more brilliantly and stood at attention, awaiting their arrival to Moya.
Fifteen microns later a transport pod carrying Crais landed in the Docking Bay with a gentle thud. The Docking Bay doors closed behind the pod. All preparations to make the atmosphere breathable were completed. Crais emerged from the ship and approached Aeryn, the only one of the crew standing in the Docking Bay at the moment. He smiled, both glad to see that Aeryn had come to greet him and that she was alone. Aeryn’s harsh expression softened slightly. Crais knew it was because she was close to Talyn once again. He wanted to believe, however, that it was because she had feelings for him.
"Crais." Aeryn acknowledged him, her eyes displaying no emotion.
"Aeryn." Crais stated, masking his smile.
"What are you doing here, Crais? Why haven’t you or Talyn been affected by those black holes as Crichton calls them? If you know anything at all about these things, tell me now." Aeryn ordered in a cold voice.
"I know nothing of these "black holes". Talyn and I are just as intrigued by them as you must be. We bring you some urgent information. However, I have a much more pressing matter for you alone to consider." Crais stated and did not wait for a reaction from Aeryn. "I have in my possession, a chip. A chip containing information about your past."
Aeryn’s eyes widened in surprise. She quickly recovered, growing cautious. Her past had always been mysterious…especially the exact identity of her parents. She peered at Crais in question, urging him to continue.
"Never mind how I got it; I know that’s what you must be wondering. What matters is what’s on this chip. It is of extreme importance." Crais continued.
"Where is it?" Aeryn demanded to know.
"Somewhere safe." Crais teased.
"No games, Crais. Give me the chip. I must know what is on that chip!" Aeryn argued. She stepped forward, her anger emulating. Aeryn thought of everything she was struggling with since coming back from the dead. She realized her future was uncertain now. Her life had been changing from the moment she encountered Moya, John, and everything they had struggled with from then until now. Before hand, she had been living a life engraved with set ways from birth to death. Aeryn almost didn’t know what to do with herself.
Crais knew he would have to divert her attention quickly. Aeryn’s past had always been shadowed and any chance to reveal its secrets was at the top of her list of priorities. Crais chuckled to himself and looked Aeryn in the eyes. He loved those dark eyes. They complimented her flowing black hair.
"More important things first." Crais stated, fully in control of the situation. He walked towards the center of the Docking Bay. Aeryn turned to face him.
"I demand you hand over that chip." Aeryn raged.
"Talyn and I have discovered very important information regarding everyone’s immediate future. I will discuss this further with the rest of the crew…where are they?" Crais said. Aeryn stepped forward, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. She knew Crais would not give her what she wanted…not without the right price. She coldly walked past him.
"We’ll talk in Command." Aeryn stated and headed out of the Docking Bay. Crais smiled to himself and quickly followed.
The rest of the crew was waiting impatiently in Command by the time Aeryn and Crais entered. John eyed Aeryn but she ignored him and headed over to the opposite side of Command, near the clamshell displaying Pilot’s image. Crais nodded a greeting to them all and came to a stop before them.
"Talyn and I have discovered quite a few things that will pique your interests since our last encounter. We felt it was of extreme importance that once we located your position, we notify you of the danger you are in. And by the look of things, I see we may be a little too late." Crais joked, looking out the view screen at the swirling black holes before them. Not a single being before Crais was smiling, however. John glared at Crais, gaining eye contact with the ex-captain for a microt. Crais looked away.
"We don’t have much time if you haven’t noticed." Chiana remarked. She stood beside D’Argo, who was glaring at Crais just as sternly as John was.
"On with it, Crais. I’m getting hungry." Rygel stated in a dull voice. He hovered near the doorway, with Jool close to his side. She was unsure of what to make of this Crais and knew she didn’t care to stay around and find out. Stark stood nearby as well, his eye narrowed in suspicion towards Crais.
"I’ll get right to the point. The Scarrans have been to blame for the recent slaying of a high-ranking officer in High Command. The Scarrans are strategically killing PeaceKeeper officers of high status. This has lead to evidence of covert operations on PeaceKeeper Colonies and Command Carriers as well. A rebellious Command Carrier retaliated against several known Scarran spies near the border of the Uncharted Territories earlier this monen. They were…unsuccessful. From what I can gather, the Scarrans are seeking knowledge." Crais informed the crew. He paused and looked straight to John, relishing in the uneasiness seeping onto the human’s face.
"Knowledge? What kind of knowledge?" D’Argo demanded an answer. The tension in the room was growing stronger by the micron.
"Wormholes." Crais stated. Nearly everyone turned to look to John, with almost annoyed expressions. They were shocked only to a point. John raised his chin and remained quiet.
"Unfortunately, that is not the worst of the news I bring you today." Crais continued. The crew turned to look to Crais once again, their faces showing concern. "The Scarrans are searching. Obviously everything they are doing leads to the wormhole technology. And while they cannot seem to find Scorpius, they do know the one true source of all this information. And they will do whatever it takes to get it. I’m sorry, Crichton, but it seems that you are being hunted by an even more insane species than my own or even Scorpius."
John clenched his teeth as Crais looked to him with his most sincere expression. He knew deep down that Crais was exhilarated by this news.
"Tell ‘em to get in line." John growled.
"Why should we trust you?" Stark asked Crais, eyeing the ex-peacekeeper captain with distrust.
Crais glanced over his shoulder at the Banik slave.
"I do not ask for your trust. Talyn and I both are concerned for Moya and those who inhabit her." Crais glanced at Aeryn briefly.
"We’ll take into regard everything you have told us." Aeryn stated.
The crew began to separate, heading out of Command to be away from Crais and the new information they did not want to believe. Crais watched Aeryn leave, smirking at her the entire time. Aeryn glared back, showing Crais she could be as cold as him. She then left Command, leaving Crais to stare out at the black holes before them. Crais smiled. Everything had played exactly to his expectations.
After the intense conversation between Crais and the others, John had decided to return to the maintenance bay to inspect the work he had completed arns earlier. As he worked his fingers into the tangled mess of nerves, John was struck with a strong flash of images from his past once again.
The grass was greener than ever under the clearing blue skies above. The morning rainstorm had passed quickly, allowing the sun to break through the heavy clouds and warm up the day. Lines upon lines of gray granite tombstones stood like dominoes against the grass. A few large oak trees shaded the wet paved path twisting throughout Memorial Cemetery. A line of black Cadillacs following a Hearse inched their way through the cemetery. Each vehicle boasted small American flags secured onto either end of the front of the vehicles. The flags whipped around in the remaining wind of the storm. Distant thunder quieted nearby chirping birds. The day appeared the same as any other. Yet something was slightly off.
A crowd of mourning souls stood around an open gravesite. The skies had completely cleared by now and the wind had died down to a whisper. Nearly every person at the gravesite had tears in their eyes. A shimmering gray casket was settled onto brackets stationed above the open grave, waiting to rest six feet down for the rest of time. The disease that had struck the soul within the casket had been painful and slow. Nothing could have prevented it and nothing could have stopped it. The only remorse for those closest to the deceased woman was the fact that her death had finally come.
Oh God, the funeral. How could he have forgotten such a miserable day?
The priest overseeing the funeral said little. His words were of no comfort to the immediate family. The death had seemed sudden, because the cancer had revealed itself only four months earlier. Four months to let the deceased know how much she had been loved and appreciated. Four months to relish her humor, her love, and most of all, her life. Four months was like a blink of an eye.
Jack Crichton stood alone at the grave site after the rest of the relatives, friends, and acquaintances had paid their respects and returned home to their own fulfilled lives. He had been allowed to stay with his wife one last time alone. For a half hour anyway.
He hadn’t seen it at first. Leslie would come home from work looking completely exhausted. She would skip dinner and go straight to bed. He had been busy, working on training for the next lunar mission at IASA. He figured she was just putting in more hours, working harder for that promotion. The one Sunday afternoon he had decided to go to the office to go over a few things was when everything changed. Leslie had collapsed in the backyard, while working in the garden. The neighbors had discovered her. His two daughters had left after the morning picnic and John had been with Alex in Maine. By the time he had gotten to the hospital, Leslie had already been admitted for observation. The doctors had said there was a tumor. She immediately had it removed but weeks later another one surfaced…this one inoperable. Leslie was given four months. Jack spent every waking moment with his dying wife, caring for her. He argued with the doctors, just knowing they had to be wrong, there had to be another way. But as each week drew closer to the end of his wife’s life, Jack could see in her eyes that this was it. Not even the dangers that he faced as an astronaut scared him more.
A sound behind Jack disrupted his thoughts. He smiled at his son, dressed in a tuxedo identical to his own. John was a handsome man with the heart of his mother and the bravery of his father. John flashed a brief smile at his dad. John saw the tears in his father’s eyes and felt his heart tear.
John was confused more than ever now. He realized that this flash of disjointed memories were not entirely his own. He was beginning to wonder if his mind wasn’t just making things up at this point. He didn’t dismiss the Scorpy clone hard at work, either.
The day had been rough. Throughout the funeral ceremony, John was dying inside. Outside, John was strong and supportive. He felt he had to be. His father and two sisters, even DK were falling apart. They needed him to make it through the day. John would smile and laugh, trying to keep their minds at ease. But meanwhile, his heart would ache, his mind would be plagued with guilt, and his eyes would carry a dull look of shock.
John stepped forward to stand at his father’s side. The two stared down at the casket for several minutes in silence. Finally, Jack placed his left arm around John’s shoulders and brought him close for a hug. John welcomed his father’s embrace and patted him on the back. Jack looked into John’s eyes, studying them for a moment. John felt uneasy and glanced down. Jack rubbed John’s shoulder and turned to head back to the vehicle waiting to take them back. John stood alone, staring at the cold gray tombstone engraved with his mother’s name. Half of the tombstone was blank, awaiting the name of his father to be added someday in the future. John shivered despite the heat that was warming up the afternoon.
"Although I am quite intrigued by this show of customary worship of the dead, I do wish we could get to the point, John." The all too familiar voice that ran chills down John’s spine stated. John looked over to his right to see Scorpius standing beside his mother’s casket. Intense rage filled within John. He leapt for Scorpius, his hands outreached to grasp the creature’s throat. Scorpius vanished instantly, causing John to stumble and spin around.
"What are you doing in my memories?" John raged into the air. He stepped forward and saw Scorpius appear on the opposite side of the casket.
"Are these really your memories?" Scorpius riddled. John only glared back.
"Why do you feel such incredible guilt? Did you end this woman’s life?" Scorpius inquired. He was puzzled by this memory that had surfaced in the human’s mind.
"This is one place I will not allow you to be, Scorpius. Leave now." John ordered with his teeth clenched together. His face was growing more flush by the minute.
"What is so important about this memory that you are trying to hide it from me?" Scorpius pushed on, baring his deteriorating teeth.
"I’m not hiding anything from you, Scorpius! There are certain things in a person’s past that are meant to be buried and to stay buried. Leave this memory." John spat. He felt protective of his mother, as if Scorpius was really there or as if any of this was even happening at this moment. "Not everything in my brain contains information about wormholes, Scorpius. Leave. Now."
"John, John, John. Don’t you realize? You have the power here. You can get rid of me at any time. You called me here. I had no concerns with this memory. It is you who brought me here and you who can make me disappear." Scorpius stated twisted things around.
John shook his head, nearly laughing at the absurdity of the situation. So many intense emotions had been swirling within him in this memory. As he was mentally experiencing the entire memory all over again, his physical body was suffering as well. He tried to relax his posture.
"Forget it, Harvey. You’re dead." John grinned. He closed his right hand into a fist, extending only his index finger and thumb like a gun. He pointed his hand to Scorpius and lowered his thumb. A pulse, much like that of one exiting a pulse pistol, raced from his finger to Scorpius’ mid section. The evil soul immediately vanished. And so did the memory.
His mother’s death had scarred him. Guilt burned in his stomach for a long time, and though he did not realize it at the moment, the guilt would last a lifetime. It would even haunt him from time to time. John was seated on the shimmering Harley Davidson his father once owned. He had parked the motorcycle on a lonely country road in Florida. Eight extremely long months had passed since his mother’s death. The Farscape Project was in its first stages of gaining funding and support from the government and IASA. In fact, earlier that day, John had been turned down once again for government funding. Both he and his partner, DK, had been discouraged. With all these stresses, John had decided taking a ride to the Everglades to get away for a while.
Why am I still stuck in the past? These memories were growing more frequent and intense by the arn. And just as strange as the last memories John had experienced, this one took another leap into the bizarre by skipping instead of playing straight through.
He was on the wrong side of the highway, looking over at Bobby, a co-worker from IASA who often antagonized John. Bobby was seated in his convertible, grinning at John and pumping the accelerator with excitement. It was a challenge that John was in no mood for addressing.
John suddenly realized that this memory had always been sketchy. He allowed the memory to progress.
Smoke swirled into the midnight air, filtering past the taillights of the racing vehicles as they sped down the dark highway. Their roaring engines drowned out the sound of croaking frogs and hooting owls. A turn came up in the relatively flat road. Bobby took a sudden swerve towards John, traveling against the curve. To the best of John’s knowledge, there had been a deer. He remembered seeing its frightened eyes in someone’s headlights. Had the deer been in his path or Bobby’s?
A horrible screeching noise overcame the drone of the roaring engines. John barely remembered rolling over and over until he was so dizzy he couldn’t determine up from down. He remembered staring up at those stars, cold and confused. Sensing glaring red lights flashing his way and feeling completely numb. Watching a falling star and remembering that the concept of Farscape One was not a complete disaster if he just tried a little harder.
The remainder of this memory was not as clear, just as it hadn’t been originally. John knew he had called DK to pick him up at the hospital. But how long he had been there or why his father hadn’t been notified, he could not discern. John did know he had been the only one at the accident scene and there had been no sign of the phantom deer. His bike had been completely destroyed. Dad wouldn’t be too happy about that. John had escaped serious injury with only two broken ribs, a sprained wrist, and one hell of a concussion. John remembered telling DK to keep the entire thing quiet. Somehow, he didn’t realize at the time that his father would definitely notice the bike missing as well as the bandages John sported.
What’s the purpose of this memory? John pondered. The fact that he was witnessing this recent string of flashbacks from life on Earth was puzzling enough. John had tried to connect them in some way, struggling to see if they had meaning. If only Zhaan were here. John felt a twinge of sadness. Zhaan’s death was almost as devastating as his mother’s. Especially since he felt partially responsible.
John noticed one last thing before falling asleep in his quarters on Moya. How did I get here from Command anyway? And why am I so tired? His mind wandered for a brief microt. Back to the point… Scorpius had been absent from this memory. That along with all else that was really happening complicated everything tenfold.
"Crichton! Wake up, Crichton!" An urgent voice demanded. John felt a hand shaking his shoulder as he slept on his side. Another voice was low with sarcasm. "Why the frell would anyone sleep at a time like this anyway?"
John opened his eyes, immediately squinting in the brightened light of his quarters. Rygel was pushing on John while Jool stood further back with her arms crossed and her face set in a pout.
"What is it?" John grumbled, pulling his body up to sit on the edge of the bed. He rubbed his eyes and looked from Rygel to Jool.
"Everyone’s in Command. Something’s going on out there and I don’t think we should be here anymore. Ugh! Why the frell did I not die like my cousin? It would have been so much easier!" Jool cried.
John shook his head and stood. He felt extremely tired and these two creatures were the last he wanted to be with at the moment. His patience was running thin as well. Rygel grunted.
"Yotz! Not even my thronesled moves that slowly. Let’s go!" Rygel demanded.
John gave Rygel a look and headed out of his quarters with Jool and Rygel following close behind.
Their walk to Command was a silent one. Not even Rygel spoke. This alone made John’s stomach churn. What could possibly be going on for the crew to not be able to figure out a solution on their own? John turned the corner leading into Command and instantly came to a stop before the opened doorway. He could already see what was going on through the view screen. Rygel and Jool came to his side. John looked to them both and then to the crew standing near the view screen. They turned to look at him as he rushed forward, his jaw opened in shock. A sickening feeling burned deep within.
John came to Aeryn’s side, not noticing the slightly panicked look in her eyes. D’Argo had his arm around Chiana and Crais was standing as if at attention. John didn’t even take notice that Crais was still here, and not back on Talyn. Stark was cowering behind one of the consoles. Pilot’s frightened image was displayed on the clamshell to John’s left. John broke away from his shipmates to stand alone in front of the view screen. The silence within Command was deafening.
Before Moya, nearly a hundred metras away, was a swirling blue mass gaining in intensity and speed by the microt. The semi-transparent mass was transforming into an upside-down twister shape with sparks of explosive energy flashing from within. Moya was already beginning to feel the violent pressure being exerted from this phenomenon. The crew could feel her beginning to move involuntarily towards the mass.
None of the crew, even John, had seen anything like it in their entire lives. The swirling mass was both exhilarating and frightening in the same instance.
At that moment, the entire crew realized the same thing. They had to do something immediately or they would not survive this latest encounter. Aeryn, John, and Crais rushed to the manual maneuvering console while D’Argo and Chiana rushed to aid Pilot in his den. Stark, Jool, and Rygel all raced for the furthest corner from the view screen in Command. The fear on their faces was paralleled with the rest of the crew. But before any of the crewmembers made it to their destinations, the unimaginable happened.
Blinding blue flashes of light lit Command to the point where everything within was masked in a blue glow. The frightened eyes of every soul were illuminated. Pilot’s image temporarily dissipated. The incredible pull on Moya grew stronger than ever. As the light began to diminish, the swirling twister out the view screen collapsed in on itself with such intensity that Moya began to shake. The crew was sent ferociously crashing into any stationary object in their direct path.
A split micron later everything lay still. Then there was an extreme pulling force on the ship and its inhabitants. The pressure on Moya was almost painful. John was the first to stand up, with the aid of a nearby console to support him in the shaky environment. Aeryn followed suit with Crais. The others clambered up and all stared out the view screen once again. The phenomenon that had caught their attention was now closer to them than ever, filling up the entire view screen. Pilot was already madly trying to get Moya prepared for reverse Starburst.
A few heartbeats and the blink of an eye later, the crew realized they were staring at the face of a massive wormhole. Unstable as it was, the wormhole was strong enough to be pulling them into its jaws. The darkened center leading into an unknown destination resembled an eye, carrying the message of death. The swirling blue and gray matter blending into the darkness of the center was beautiful even if deadly.
However this wormhole had been created, the crew was certain the creators were nearby. And that meant they were the test dummies. Moya began picking up speed towards the wormhole.
"Pilot, get us out of here NOW!" John screamed. Crais motioned to alert Talyn as well.
Moya’s exterior lit up with the identical blue light of the wormhole before her. A spark of energy grew at her tail. She unwillingly drew closer to the mouth of the wormhole.
The inhabitants within Moya raced to anything stationary to embrace themselves. They had experienced the inner twisting tunnels of a wormhole before and did not wish the experience even upon their worst enemy. Crais on the other hand, stared at the abyss with awe. He had never experienced such power and chaos.
The energy Moya was producing was exerting her vital nutrients quickly. She grew weaker by the microt, almost as quickly as she was being pulled forward. A tearing hole appeared in one side of the wormhole.
The words John had spoken of the black holes resulting from failed wormholes passed through everyone’s minds. This wormhole wasn’t meant to last very long. This fact amongst the best moments of their lives passed through their minds. The crew could feel the extreme pull from Moya struggling to reverse. The uphill battle was being lost faster than the wormhole had appeared.
"Talyn! Do you read me! Talyn, we need your assistance!" Crais charged over his comms linked to his gunship.
Talyn was far behind, unbeknownst to the crew. Observing in shock and fear, Talyn witnessed his mother veering straight into the fiery wormhole. Talyn also observed a large Scarran battle ship fast approaching. The ship was smooth and cylindrical in design, concealing any external weapons from view. Talyn prepared to fire and destroy the ship in a race to save his mother.
On Moya, the crew suddenly noticed she was beginning to retreat from the pull of the wormhole. Another tear opened in the wormhole’s failing sides. Moya was winning the battle, barely. The brightness of the massive wormhole began to fade. The center began to teeter, causing the outer walls to tremble.
John’s heart was racing. His knuckles were drained of color, clenching onto the edge of a console to station his body. John looked at his crewmates to see relief playing onto their faces. Moya pushed even further backwards, increasing her speed. The wormhole began to appear smaller as they moved further away.
Pilot’s image appeared on the clamshell, after a brief disappearance, to announce they were out of danger. His mouth opened and the crew turned to look at him. Another blinding flash commenced. Moya shook fiercely, sending everyone to the floor. Before anyone could discern what had happened, the unlucky Leviathan was spiraling downward into the mouth of a newly re-energized wormhole. They had no clue that Talyn and the Scarran battle ship had been pulled in behind them.
To make matters worse, the wormhole began to tear once again. The churning tunnel the ships cascaded through began to collapse in on itself. Flashing blue lights of electrical explosions illuminated the darkened tunnel. An explosion rocketed the surrounding space. The mysterious wormhole collapsed completely and dissipated.
Moya was spiraling with such intensity that a centered gravity was created. The inhabitants within were pinned to the ceiling, unable to move.
A gentle swirling mass below them captured their confused attentions. A mystical figure the crew had known and loved appeared within this mass, smiling at them warmly. Zhaan.
Even though the encounter lasted no longer than a microt, every soul on board Moya had been touched. Time seemed to cease. Zhaan had spoken to them all, through their minds. Her message had been clear and soothing.
Suddenly, Moya tumbled, violently throwing the crew around like salt in a shaker. She began to slow in speed and became slightly stabilized. Moya turned upright and began to sail steadily forward. The crew fell harshly to the floor. Not a single being on the ship was conscious.
The tumbling trio of ships caught in the chaos rolled into a small cluster of asteroids. The asteroids were small, pounding into the sides of the ships like hailstones on an aluminum surface. The ships slowed and came to a silent halt, hovering in a new space, further away than any of the shaken inhabitants within could ever imagine.
His back rested against the harsh cold wall of the hospital corridor. John could hear his father arguing desperately with a doctor down the hall. He wondered when DK would be back with the coffee. He wondered who had called his sisters. The clock on the wall was ticking so loud he wanted to tear it down and smash it onto the floor. That minute hand had to be fast. Maybe the clock was wrong. Yeah, that’s it. John laughed. A nurse walking past gave him a look. John turned and faced the doorway to his left. The sliver of light passing through the thin window in the door was all he could see of the interior. John inched further towards the door, gaining more and more view into the room through the window.
He saw the hospital bed within, surrounded by a ridiculous number of machines supporting the life of the woman on the bed. John slowed his progress towards the door and stopped. He could see his mother’s frail face perfectly. It was framed in the window along with a section of the heart monitor and an IV stand. The fluorescent light above her was almost blinding, as it was the only light source in the room besides the display monitors of the machines.
John heard his father nearly to the point of yelling at the doctor now. He heard the ticking of the clock and imagined it in sync with the beeping of the monitor behind the door he faced. His own heart was in sync with the ticking. His palms were sweaty and his head felt light. The pale face of the dying woman who had raised him was engraved in his mind. John closed his eyes to see that face instead of darkness. He quickly opened them in panic.
She was dying. Her last hour was upon them. The rest of the family had been notified. His father was arguing with the doctor. And DK was getting the coffee. Who was with his mother? No one. John stood almost emotionless in front of that doorway. It was as if someone had poured cement around his ankles. He could not move forward. He couldn’t move at all.
His mother’s demise had all been so sudden. John and DK had been away in training at IASA for a mission. He had known his mother was sick but never came home. His family urged him to stay away because what he was doing was important and it was what his mother wanted. John regretted it but at the same time, felt fear from returning home to see a woman he viewed as incredibly strong and intelligent slowly waste away to cancer.
Finally, he had received the dreaded call that Leslie may not even make it to the weekend. It was Thursday. Her final hour was upon them. John wasn’t ready for this. He didn’t want her to die. He felt like he needed to blame her for not being healthier, for not trying harder to prevent cancer, even for being human. But it was himself who he blamed most. He hadn’t been there at her side every struggling moment during the four-month battle. That had been his brave father. American hero, respected astronaut, loving father.
John did not realize he had taken a step away from the doorway. He could hear his father finishing his argument with the doctor. He even sensed DK was on his way back. That clock even seemed to slow slightly. His mother’s face looked just a little bit less flush. Maybe she would get better. She still had time. John was kidding himself.
He stole another step backward. He nearly stumbled, his footing momentarily lost. John turned to see what had caused his stumbling and stepped away in shock. Hatred filled his veins as always and he spread his arms out, as if to protect the doorway behind him. Scorpius stood tall before John. He turned his head to the clock with a smile and then glanced back to John. The hideous half-breed was actually enjoying this tormenting memory of John’s. Tick. Tick. Tick.
John ran. He did not know why he did or what possessed his feet to move so fast. Was it because of Scorpius? No, he had run in the original memory as well. He only knew that if he left now, he would be saved the pain. That wasn’t true, however, but he tried to make himself believe. He ran past his mourning father, past the uncaring doctor…he even stumbled into DK, nearly spilling the two cups of coffee in his friend’s hands. John thrust open the doorway to the stairs he had headed for and left the hospital his mother would die in as quickly as his feet could carry him.
Moya, Talyn, and the large Scarran ship hovered silently in the new space they occupied. No evidence of the collapsed wormhole remained. There were no more black holes either. Were they still in the Uncharted Territories? If any of the occupants of these ships had survived, they would soon find out.
Thousands of stars twinkled amongst the ships like any other normal part of space. What made this area so unique was the large galaxy sprawled out in the horizon before them. It was a glorious galaxy boasting a magnificent swirl of gold, red, and blue hues with a mostly white overtone. Numerous stars were embedded within the two spiraling arms of the galaxy. The extremely bright bulge in the center of this galaxy lit up the exteriors of the ships. A few other masses of colorful gas clouds and star clusters hovered near the galaxy, accenting this new place even more.
Aboard Moya, the silence was deafening. The Scarran ship was even more silent. Talyn was slightly disoriented, but sent a cry to his mother, hoping to receive an answer. After several unanswered cries, Moya responded.
Pilot shook his large shell head, awaking from the maddening spiral they had finally recovered from. He checked the controls and communicated with Moya. Despite the numerous pits and tears in her exterior from the asteroid field they had passed through, Moya was relatively unscathed. Relieved, Pilot turned his attention to the crew. His image appeared on the clamshell in Command. The interior lighting began to glow once again after being temporarily lost. Pilot nearly gasped. Every member of the crew lay in a crumpled heap on the floor, unresponsive.
"Aeryn? Crichton? D’Argo? Wake up!" Pilot urged. A few moans and some motion spurred among the unconscious.
Several DRDs whirled into the room, bumping into the crewmembers to waken them. One overconfident DRD even attempted to zap Rygel with its own laser beam. Rygel grunted. His eyelids slid open and he growled at the DRD. The DRD quickly disappeared into the shadows. Rygel sat up, glancing around at his fallen shipmates. Pilot smiled at the sight of at least one of the crew finally awaking. However, his smile did not last. Rygel cared not to wake the others. He instead immediately headed in a search for his throne sled. The Hynerian scurried past D’Argo, who was the second to wake.
"D’Argo, are you all right?" Pilot asked with concern. D’Argo held up a hand to quiet Pilot. D’Argo stood with a small grunt. He proceeded to crack his back with a small popping sound. Satisfied, D’Argo turned fully to Pilot and gave him a smile.
"Fine, Pilot. Are you and Moya all right?" D’Argo asked. As Pilot nodded, Chiana began to awaken as well as Crais, Aeryn, Stark, and Jool. The silence in Command was no longer. Each groaned as they discovered bruises and cuts on their bodies.
"Where the frell are we?" Stark asked, standing up with the aid of a nearby console.
"The wormhole collapsed before we could reach the destination it was supposed to carry us to. Even with our limited data banks, Moya and I are unsure of where the wormhole has left us." Pilot stated.
Aeryn searched the room to find John lying near the doorway; she crawled over to him to wake him. Crais stood and immediately contacted Talyn on his comms to see if the gunship was anywhere nearby. He somehow knew Talyn had ventured into the wormhole after them.
Chiana cranked her neck and watched Rygel happily hop onto his throne sled. The hovering chair had been lodged in between two wall supports near the view screen. Jool brushed her hair out of her face and stared out the view screen in wonder. She joined Stark who was already gawking at the new sights.
"John? John, wake up." Aeryn requested. She slapped John’s right cheek and the human began to stir. His eyes flew open and he nearly bumped his head with Aeryn’s in a rushed attempt to sit up. Aeryn veered away and stared at John in bewilderment. John mirrored her expression. They shook their heads and helped each other up.
D’Argo and Chiana had joined Jool and Stark in staring out the view screen. Rygel was already making his way to see what they were all gaping at.
Aeryn and John looked each other over quickly to make sure there were no injuries. They then walked up to the rest of their comrades to see what the latest problem was. Even Pilot had begun to stare. Aeryn gasped at the amazing beauty. John stepped closer, tilting his head in wonder. This spiraling galaxy was beyond anything any of the crew had ever encountered. Such beauty and magnificence was often overlooked in their adventures through the deadly Uncharted Territories.
"What is that?" Chiana asked in awe.
"It’s an organized system." Stark replied. No one’s eyes left the view screen. The sight was too attractive to look anywhere else.
John narrowed his eyes. The system before them was oddly familiar. The spiraling arms, the glowing center, the billions of stars massed within. Had he seen this before?
"Pilot, can you track where we are? Do you have any way of detecting if we’re near those black holes anymore?" Aeryn questioned. The crew had been so overwhelmed by the sight of the galaxy that they had completely forgotten about the former mess they had escaped from.
"No, Aeryn, not at all. Moya is just as disoriented as the rest of us." Pilot stated.
"Talyn came with us through the wormhole…and he has informed me that we are not the only ones." Crais stated in a grave voice. The crew turned to look at him in question.
"Who else is out there?" Jool asked, her voice quivering. Her green eyes glistened with tears of fright.
"Talyn says it’s a Scarran ship." Crais said and glanced at John. John however, did not appear to hear him. He was still peering at the galaxy, as if he had a word at the tip of his tongue that he was desperately trying to recall.
"Do they sense us?" D’Argo asked with alarm.
"They’re probably just as frelled as we are at this point." Chiana commented. The crew could actually take comfort in believing this. If anyone on that ship was awake, neither Moya nor Talyn would still be in existence.
"I don’t know how we survived anything up to this microt but just be glad we did." Rygel pointed out.
"We’re not in uncharted territory anymore, Toto." John suddenly stated with his jaw hanging open as he took another step forward. The others turned their attention to the awestruck human, looking at him as if he had just spoken gibberish. They did not see the tear glistening in his left eye.
"Really? Then where the frell are we?" Jool asked. She placed her hands on her hips in frustration.
"Only a starburst away from home." John simply stated. He was so captivated by the swirling galaxy before them that he did not notice their strange looks. Aeryn approached John and tried to gain eye contact.
"What are you talking about?" Aeryn demanded to know. The strong emotions playing onto the human’s face struck her. Deep down, she had a feeling she didn’t really want to know his answer.
John turned his head and gained eye contact with her. Aeryn could see the excitement dancing in his tearing eyes. John could see the sinking realization in her frightened eyes. Aeryn took a frightful step backward. D’Argo and Chiana instantly noticed the reaction between the two.
"What is it John?" D’Argo softly urged an answer. Chiana traveled over to John’s other side and looked up at him, begging with her eyes for an answer. John glanced at both of them briefly. He looked to the galaxy and then to all of the crew, including Pilot.
"That’s my home." John stated in a voice of realization. A tingle of excitement began to grow in his stomach. His lips formed into a large smile. "That’s the Milky Way…Earth is in one of those spiraling arms. This can’t be real."
"Its real." Pilot confirmed. "We’re receiving numerous strange transmissions from within it as well. It appears the source is originating from a planet."
John whipped his head around. He then thought of the Scarran ship Crais had mentioned. He had been listening after all. He connected these points and grew fearful for his home. John began to back away. The others were completely confused by his actions by now.
"Pilot, we have to divert those signals, now!" John ordered. Crais immediately caught on.
"Are these signals on a specific wavelength?" Crais inquired.
"Radio waves, yes." John stated, stepping towards Crais with interest.
"I’ll go to Talyn. Perhaps he and I can devise some sort of web to absorb these signals." Crais announced. He immediately headed for the Docking Bay to exit Moya. Aeryn threw a quick glance in his direction, feeling a part of herself wishing to go with him. She instantly remembered the chip Crais had mentioned. Aeryn made a mental note to confront him later.
"You’re home is beautiful." Chiana commented.
"If you think that’s impressive, wait till you see the planet itself." John stated hurriedly as he headed to the Navigation Console.
"How can you tell it’s your galaxy?" Jool challenged grumpily. "It looks exactly like every other frelling mass of planets and space dren I’ve seen."
John looked to Jool with an offended expression.
"I just know, okay? Besides, see those two clouds of blue mist over there? That’s the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. And far off you see that other tiny spiraling galaxy? That’s Andromeda. They’re all neighbors to the Milky Way. We may have never seen the outside of our very own galaxy but we sure as hell know what our neighbors look like." John pointed out as if he were talking to a child. He impatiently turned to Pilot’s image on the clamshell.
"Pilot, does that Scarran ship know we’re here yet?" John asked with a twinge of nervousness playing into his stomach. "If they detect where those signals originate, I won’t have a home to return to."
"I’m well aware of this, Commander. There have been no scans from the Scarran ship. We are safe…for the time being." Pilot informed him.
"Hmph. We finally go somewhere nice in this frelling universe and we can’t stay. I’m hungry. Anyone care to join me?" Rygel asked, turning his throne sled to leave. Chiana smirked, and looked at the Hynerian.
"Are you afraid to eat alone, Rygel?" Chiana teased. Rygel lifted his chin.
"No. I simply would like some company…just in case we have another accident and I choke on some food cubes." Rygel replied. He then zoomed out of the room.
The rest of the crew stood in place, looking to the wondrous galaxy before them. The thought of meeting an entire planet of beings like John scared most of them. Aeryn and D’Argo had already gotten a taste of what his home planet had been like in a false simulation provided by a race called the Ancients. John had assured them that that Earth was not what his planet was really like, but they all knew, even John, that his Earth was not so forgiving. His home was probably even more unforgiving than the daily trials of life in the Uncharted Territories.
John stared at the galaxy before them and licked his lips. He had hungered for this moment for two and a half cycles. Now, his ultimate goal was just a minuscule hair out of reach. Yet, he couldn’t do a single thing. If they headed for that galaxy or sent any kind of signal, Earth would be gone in an instant. The Scarrans would discover their destination and destroy them, Earth, and the entire galaxy. John shook his head. Stuck between a rock and a hard place once again.
Small rays of dim light barely lit the heated chambers of the Scarran ship. The inner walls of the battle ship boasted a bronze tint, further darkening the interiors. Several large, heavily scaled bipeds marched through the corridor, armed with large weapons similar to pulse rifles. These creatures boasted elongated lizard-like faces with manes of black hair running from the tip of their heads to the small of their backs. The ugly beings thrived on heat and even emitted heat from their bodies. They had a unique sense to detect if a damned soul brought before them was lying. They were the feared Scarrans…menaces to the Charted and Uncharted Territories. The Scarrans were a rung up the ladder of predators, above even the Nebari.
A rather large Scarran in particular, with a band of red cloth draped across his chest, lead the group. He was the Commandeer of the ship. He was a well-respected Scarran among his race…with a reputation for being unforgiving. He was the deadliest of all Scarrans, earning his title with ease.
"Commandeer Ka’ru. We have detected two Leviathans…no, one Leviathan, one PeaceKeeper…hybrid…whatever it is. They are unaware of our position." An officer announced to Ka’ru as he arrived at the control deck. The control deck was the central chamber of the ship where all commands were ordered and carried out.
Ka’ru stepped up to the central console of the room. A red flashing beacon on the console accented the scarred face of Ka’ru. The Scarran inhaled deeply and then exhaled a coarse, raspy breath. This creature had fought many battles and survived.
Ka’ru turned his head slowly, looking at his officers awaiting orders. He relished the fear that hid among their young faces. He almost laughed. But Scarrans didn’t prefer to laugh.
"Do nothing. We will wait to see what these imbeciles will do. Time is at our advantage. They must not suspect a thing." Ka’ru ordered. The officers nodded in agreement, sneering in the excitement of their planned future kill. The Scarrans thrived on torture and slow death.
A lone officer arrived into the central chamber. Ka’ru needn’t turn to address him. His power was so great he could simply get away with doing nothing. The officer traveled around to face him. Ka’ru sensed fear in this one’s eyes. He growled.
"Commandeer Ka’ru. The prisoner would like to speak to you." The officer stated. Ka’ru tilted his head and slowly turned to see his prisoner entering into the chamber. He growled once again and charged up to the prisoner.
"Scorpius." Ka’ru hissed.
"Commandeer Ka’ru." Scorpius smiled, accenting the Scarran’s title.
Scorpius was indeed a prisoner of the Scarrans. They had seized his asteroid-based Gammak Base only an arn before coming upon the wormhole that had brought them all to their present location. Ka’ru despised Scorpius; the feeling was mutual. Scorpius was a hybrid…half Scarran and half Sebacean. He constantly wore a thermal suit of his own design to regulate his violent temperature fluctuations. Scarrans thrived on heat while Sebaceans suffered from heat.
Scorpius glanced at the galaxy before them out the small view screen in the chamber. The glow from this galaxy was strong enough to accent most of the interior of the room they stood in. A note of familiarity struck Scorpius. And a part of his mind told him this new place had something to do with the human, John Crichton.
"I am not your prisoner in any way you look at it. I came voluntarily." Scorpius tilted his head with a sly expression. Ka’ru sneered. He did not like Scorpius for many reasons. His devious ways were one of the best reasons to hate this creature.
"Voluntarily? Perhaps you’re trying to underhand us, then." Ka’ru stated, stepping forward to stand tall above Scorpius. The few denches that separated their heights did not threaten Scorpius any more than the status of Ka’ru in the Scarran race.
"I only wish to share some valuable information with you." Scorpius stated and took a breath before commencing to circle Ka’ru. He was already delving into his manipulative state. "As you can imagine, when I discovered that you were the ones responsible for the testing of wormholes in Deca five of the asteroid field, my interest was piqued."
"How?" Ka’ru demanded Scorpius get to the point.
"There are only two beings in this entire universe who possess such impressive knowledge." Scorpius stated, his smile diminishing. He came to a stop before Ka’ru. "I am one of them."
Ka’ru grunted. He knew where this conversation was headed.
"If we possessed any of this knowledge, we would have been successful in our attempts, wouldn’t we? As you have seen, our attempts have failed." Ka’ru stated with a smirk.
"Interesting." Scorpius stated and turned away. He began to walk out of the chamber and stopped. The leather tailor of his suit wavered as he turned to face Ka’ru once again. That prize-winning smile returned to his face. "I thought maybe you knew who the second one was."
Ka’ru growled and charged towards Scorpius. Scorpius did not flinch nor blink. Ka’ru came to a halt denches from Scorpius’ face. Scorpius relished in the torment of his captor.
"Is it the despised human you have endlessly and unsuccessfully hunted? Did this vile creature create the wormhole that brought us here? Is he inhabiting one of those ships before us?" Ka’ru demanded answers. Scorpius only smiled.
"Officer! Take this hideous half-breed out of my sight. Allow him to relish in the thermal bay for an arn." Ka’ru ordered. An officer stalked up to Scorpius and pushed Scorpius with the weapon in his hands. Scorpius knew not to show his enemy fright or alarm. His eyes carried a threat of death to Ka’ru. The threat was mutual. Scorpius was lead away, leaving Ka’ru with even more questions.
Ka’ru turned back to look out the view screen. The Leviathan and the hybrid ship hovered like two minuscule specks against the enormous spiral galaxy before them. Ka’ru growled and hissed, thrusting a nearby officer into a panel. The officer struck electrical wiring and began to shake and cry as sparks flew into the air behind him. The crying quickly diminished as the burned victim crumbled to Ka’ru’s feet. Ka’ru grinned. He was in complete control.
"Radio waves, that’s what you call these common frequencies?" Pilot asked, tilting his head with interest as he maintained systems on the console before him. Several DRDs were situated around Pilot, communicating with each other. "They’re hardly anything to pay attention to."
John stood before Moya’s navigator. He had decided to speak with Pilot in person to figure out the best course of action to take next. He nodded his head in response to Pilot’s question.
"Pilot, I’m well aware that there are billions of radio waves traveling through out space from various sources. I’m just being cautious because there are certain radio waves from Earth out there that we don’t want our enemies to hear."
"Of course, Commander Crichton." Pilot obeyed with a sigh and began the painstaking process of analyzing some of the signals they were receiving. John began to visibly relax.
"Do you think the Scarrans are aware of us by now? I know it was a pretty wild ride back there but hey, come on." John pondered.
"I’m not sure." Pilot answered truthfully.
Aeryn entered into the den. She carried a large pulse rifle upon her right hip. John took a quick glance at the weapon and then to Aeryn’s serious expression. Stepping forward to meet her in front of Pilot, John cocked his head.
"What is it now?" Aeryn asked him impatiently.
"What’s with the big weapon?" John asked, his eyes sliding to the weapon as he spoke. Aeryn stared into his blue eyes for a moment before answering. She loved this person with such intensity that she was frightened. Perhaps this was why she was having doubts with her future.
"Precaution. It’s a necessity around here if you haven’t noticed." Aeryn answered and stepped around John to approach Pilot.
"Anything more on the Scarran ship that followed us through the wormhole?" Aeryn asked Pilot.
"Nothing. The ship appears to be dead in space. Perhaps the inhabitants did not survive the wormhole." Pilot suggested. Aeryn shook her head.
"I don’t think so, Pilot. The Scarrans are an extremely dangerous race. The blast of a pulse rifle will not penetrate their thick skin. We cannot trust that they are not aware of our position. Regard them as if they are armed and ready to strike, Pilot. How much longer can the defense shield last?" Aeryn said.
Something Aeryn said sparked an immediate flash of memories in John’s head. He became unaware of everything else happening around him. He was whisked into a world of the past once again.
The glaring light of a wall-mounted light box illuminated Scorpius’ hideous face. John could barely recall this memory from anything he had experienced. His mind had suppressed the experience with the Scarran who had interrogated him and tortured him many monens ago.
Using a familiar long metallic rod, Scorpius pointed to a few illuminated x-ray images on the light box. The specific image he was acknowledging flashed. The negative image was of a dreadful Scarran. The image seemed to sneer directly at John. A small tingle of fear rolled through John’s stomach. Scorpius smiled and began to speak. John could not hear the words escaping from his nemesis’ mouth. He only saw another image appear on the light box. A pulse rifle. Scorpius pointed to the weapon and a sudden red X appeared over the pulse rifle. Scorpius pointed back to the Scarran. The image of the creature flashed with red highlights. The Scarrans’ skin radiated heat. It was an extremely tough type of skin that resisted the blast of a pulse rifle. Ah ha! John connected Aeryn’s words with Scorpius’ through these images. The blast of a pulse rifle will not penetrate their thick skin. John was then immediately transported to another place and time.
A crested ridge of mud surrounded a murky puddle. John could see his own present day reflection in the wavering surface of the water. His reflection looked worried. John heard a shriek of excitement and glanced up. His worry was justified. Two small boys were running straight towards him, shrieking and carrying Tonka trucks under their arms. John knew these boys. And he knew what they were about to do. John reared away from the puddle as fast as his feet could carry him. But he knew he was too late. The boys smashed into the murky puddle, spraying mud in every direction. John flinched, closing his eyes. He quickly reopened them to see the boys happily charging their trucks through the shallow puddle. They can’t see me. The mud didn’t even touch me. John stumbled backwards a few steps.
A solid body was standing behind him. John nearly fell to the soft blanket of grass beneath him. He whirled around to see what had stopped him. His worry solidified and a flutter of anger returned within. Scorpius. He should have predicted his appearances by now.
"What are you doing here? Better yet, what am I doing here?" John sneered into Scorpius’ expression of curiosity.
"Tell me what I need to know and I’ll disappear." Scorpius offered.
"For good?" John joked, knowing this Scorpius was in for the long haul. Scorpius flashed a quick smile.
"You look so…innocent here. So weak…so…defenseless. How do you humans ever survive childhood?" Scorpius questioned, stepping towards the two boys splashing in the mud. He looked sincerely perplexed by the notion.
"Get to the point, Scorpius. What do you want?" John inquired, stepping in front of Scorpius as if to protect the boys.
Scorpius stepped around John and approached the boys once again. John rushed over to revert Scorpius’ attention. Unfortunately, when he arrived at the creature’s side, John saw something swirling on the surface of the puddle. The playful boys did not even notice the two strangers or the image appearing on the puddle’s surface.
John faced the image and began to realize what it was that Scorpius really wanted. A strikingly beautiful image of the Milky Way began to appear. John almost couldn’t believe his nemesis hadn’t already retrieved this knowledge from his mind at some point in the past. First wormholes, now this…the routine was getting old.
A sweet, heavenly voice interrupted John’s thoughts and he turned his attention towards the small white townhouse nearby. Scorpius began to fade from view. The two boys glanced up from their trucks.
"Boys! Time for lunch!" His mother called out.
John’s jaw dropped open slightly as he eagerly took a step forward. His mother. John could barely recall what she had looked like before the cancer. That frail frame of his mother’s face painted with death had always plagued his memories. Excited, John began to smile.
"Mom?" John called out, his eyes tearing with joy. He could see wisps of blonde hair flowing from around the corner of the house. She was just about to walk into view.
Almost as instantaneous as this memory had come to play, John was whisked back to the present. He glanced around at the golden glow of Pilot’s den and then to Pilot and Aeryn.
"Moya’s amnexus fluid levels are at twenty five parts." Pilot was saying.
"How long Pilot?" Aeryn asked impatiently. John glanced at the two, seeing that they hadn’t even noticed the human stepping out of reality just moments ago. John was beginning to think he was losing his mind again.
"Two arns. At the most two and a half." Pilot remarked, knowing this wasn’t sufficient. "The defense shield…."
"Two arns?" John exclaimed, realizing the severity of the issue Aeryn and Pilot had been speaking of. The defense shield had to last longer than two arns.
"Two arns will do, John. Pilot, keep me informed of any changes." Aeryn ordered and began to head out of Pilot’s den.
"Wait, Aeryn, Pilot." John said and reached for Aeryn’s arm. Aeryn turned to face him with an impatient expression.
"Did you guys notice anything…strange for a micron there? Anything at all?" John asked, looking from Aeryn to Pilot and back.
"Like what?" Aeryn asked, urging John to get to the point.
"Moya and I haven’t sensed anything peculiar besides this new system." Pilot responded.
John studied their faces. They had no clue. He shook his head, let out a chuckle and held up his hands.
"Nothing. Everything’s fine. I’ll be in Command if you need me." John lied. He brushed past a perplexed Aeryn and left Pilot’s den.
Aeryn looked to Pilot. Pilot shook his head. Aeryn nodded in agreement. A DRD left from Pilot’s side and rushed past Aeryn to catch up to the human. Aeryn then turned and left Pilot’s den as well. Both of the aliens expected strangeness from the human. But in this cycle alone, they couldn’t dismiss anything out of what they considered normal from the human being.
Crais arrived on Talyn shortly after exiting Moya. He briskly walked into the Command of Talyn, the entrance doors closing behind him. Red and orange lights flashed around the former captain. Talyn bleeped intensively before allowing Crais to speak. A slow grin began to spread upon Crais’ face as he listened to his ship. The bond between the two beings was unbreakable. Even if the neural transponder that physically linked the two were ever to be severed, the emotional bond would remain nearly as strong as that of a mother and child. Unfortunately, this natural bond wasn’t as strong between Talyn and Moya. But each encounter between the two ships was strengthening their bond.
"Talyn, I know this Scarran ship frightens you. But you have proven that you are a strong, confident young gunship. Do not be intimidated." Crais comforted Talyn. He smiled warmly upon thinking of how well Talyn had matured since Crais had first taken the ship from his mother.
Talyn flashed a few more lights and bleeped. Crais wrinkled his brow.
"What sort of message?" Crais pondered. Instantly, upon the small view screen directly in front of Crais, a transmission appeared. Crais straightened his posture and grew angered.
Ka’ru’s angered face appeared in the transmission. Crais tilted his head slightly, trying to recall where he had seen the menacing Scarran before. The Commandeer was speaking but the transmission was weak, thus sound was affected. The image flickered momentarily and began to repeat.
"Is Moya receiving this message as well?" Crais asked. Talyn responded with a single bleep. Crais nodded once.
"This creature is our enemy, Talyn. He purposely sent this transmission to frighten both you and Moya. They are quite alive after all. Talyn. Prepare to fire upon the Scarran battle ship!" Crais roared.
Talyn’s unique frag cannon began to spark with orange streaks of pulse activity. The young gun ship turned to face the enormous Scarran ship hovering in space just a metra away. The enemy ship began to move slowly forward. Talyn was provoked. He sped forward, nearly knocking a surprised Crais to the floor within.
"Talyn, do not charge! Stand your ground! Protect your mother!" Crais ordered, grasping the console to station himself as the ship charged on. Crais was shocked by the massive size of the Scarran ship.
A large blast of orange fiery light charged from Talyn’s frag cannon. The blast instantly struck the face of the Scarran ship and enveloped across its body. The ship itself did not falter. Instead, it came to a halt and remained still.
Crais stood tall, staring with question out the view screen before him. Talyn began bleeping and flashing lights constantly. Crais took a step forward in wonder. He knew exactly why the blast hadn’t affected the enemy ship before them. A sinking feeling began to burn in his stomach.
"This is not good, Talyn. Now we have given them a reason to explore that new system. They want to know what we’re trying to protect." Crais stated. Talyn instantly became quiet. Crais wanted to believe it was because Talyn understood him. But he knew better. A small shaft opened far off on the right side of the battle ship. A litter of tiny specks began to protrude, flying in formation. The specks that numbered in a thousand grew larger as they traveled closer to the front of the Scarran ship. Once there, the specks, now visible as small maneuverable fighter ships, hovered in formation beside their mother ship.
"Talyn, link me to Pilot now." Crais stated. He stared on as Talyn carried out his order. This day was getting worse and worse by the micron.
John stared out the massive view screen of Command. He was seated on a console, his legs swaying beneath him. Chiana leaned on one side of the console, in his company. D’Argo was behind the two, cleaning his Qualta Blade to pass the time. Jool sat on a stool by the Strategy table, wrapping a curl of her orange hair around her finger repetitiously. Stark was situated on the opposite side of the room, seemingly enveloped in a conversation with himself. Rygel had returned from the Galley, finding that being alone on this ship wasn’t very exciting. He hovered in the center of Command, observing the swirling galaxy before them with a puzzled expression.
"You know, there’s probably some little boy in his backyard on Earth right now, gazing up at the stars through a telescope. Yeah, he’s probably eating a Snickers bar, maybe even taking a break from catching fireflies in a jar. And low and behold, three alien ships appear in the viewfinder. ‘Damn’, he’s thinking, ‘I gotta clean that lens more often or I’m really seeing close encounters of the third kind’." John states, looking dreamily at the glowing beauty he had yearned to reach for two and a half cycles and counting. Chiana giggled.
"Even when you don’t make sense, you’re amusing." Chiana commented.
She tipped her head up to look at John. John glanced down at her and they shared a friendly smile. John then gazed back to the wondrous galaxy. Even though his stomach was fluttering with excitement, John couldn’t help but feel somewhat bitter. Here he was, facing his home after countless nights of wondering whether he’d ever see it again. Home was at his fingertips at this moment and there was not a single thing he could do about it. His focuses had changed as well as his goals, though. In recent times he was more concentrated on the creation of wormholes than where they could lead him. Yet the irony of it all burned deep. John stifled the laughter that wanted to explode from within. Anger easily blanketed this laughter, unfortunately. John allowed himself to ponder a little longer about his Earth.
"Better yet, some scientist and his buddy are zooming in on us and alerting the entire frelling government. SETI is most likely the first to know, though. They’d really have a hay day with this one. Maybe they’re sending us a friendly hello right now. Heck for all we know, my dad could be watching us sit here like duck decoys." John shook his head. D’Argo glanced up from his Qualta blade with annoyance.
"Does he ever shut up?" Jool muttered, still captivated by her hair.
"No." Rygel, Chiana, and D’Argo stated simultaneously. Jool looked up in surprise. John glimpsed at his friends and shook his head. He turned his attention back to the galaxy.
"I never thought I’d actually get to see the Milky Way from the side lines. Damn she’s beautiful." The human stated with awe.
"I have to agree with you for once." Rygel stated. "It may be a simple galaxy, but it does have beauty."
"Thanks Buckwheat." John nodded at Rygel with appreciation. Rygel only grunted in response.
Aeryn entered Command at that moment. And just as she arrived, a bleak image replaced the galaxy on the view screen. The crew leaned forward. Aeryn stopped in her tracks. A hideous looking Scarran appeared within this dark image. Unfortunately, no sound was playing from the mysterious message. The creature was sneering as he spoke. The image then disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Pilot’s image materialized on the clamshell.
"Moya has just received this transmission from the Scarran ship. It’s weak, but I believe it serves its purpose." Pilot stated. Aeryn whipped her head around.
"And what is that?" She demanded to know.
"To provoke Talyn and Moya into a confrontation. They are frightened of this ship. Talyn is already preparing to attack." Pilot informed the crew. D’Argo stood with alarm. Stark let out a small cry of fear and backed into a dark corner. Jool only huffed with frustration.
"Don’t let him fire, Pilot! Stop him!" Chiana urged. She straightened from the console she had been leaning on and looked to see John’s worried expression mirroring her own. John slid off the console he had been resting on.
"It’s too late!" Pilot yelled. An image of Talyn firing upon the Scarran ship appeared on the view screen. The blast didn’t even appear to harm the ship.
"A defense shield." Aeryn uttered with realization.
"Wait, what is that?" Stark questioned, walking out of the shadows to peer at the images playing on the view screen before them. He noticed the small convoy of ships beginning to exit the Scarran battle ship.
"Reinforcements?" Rygel asked in fear, already knowing the answer. He gulped hard. The crew began to gather in the center of Command to observe the new play of events.
"Frell." Jool stated with a shaky voice.
"Pilot, we need to get out of here. Starburst or something!" Chiana said with anxiety seeping into her voice.
"Moya won’t leave Talyn. And he’s definitely not going to stand down." Pilot recanted.
"What can we do?" D’Argo asked.
"Contact them." John said.
"What? Are you frelling insane? Maybe I shouldn’t ask that." Rygel blurted. The crew, including Pilot, looked to John as if he were.
"Zhaan appeared to me while we tumbled through that wormhole and she told me to trust my instincts." John stated. He then realized that statement really dug himself further into a hole. Seeing Zhaan while they were tumbling through that wormhole had been outrageous enough. He shook his head. "Never mind. Just do it, Pilot, trust me."
"Trust you? Is that what we should do?" Aeryn raised her eyebrows.
"Come on, we have to stay focused." Chiana stepped in. Aeryn glared at Chiana.
"Fine. Pilot, contact the Scarran battle ship." Aeryn replied in defeat. D’Argo questioned Aeryn’s sudden defeat.
"Aeryn, you know this means death, don’t you?" D’Argo asked. Aeryn looked to him and then straight at John.
"Zhaan told me to listen to John." She stated. John tilted his head and allowed a small smile to play onto his face.
Pilot commenced in communicating with the enemy ship. Talyn immediately intercepted the signal and Crais’ voice could be heard in Command.
"Contacting the Scarran ship is the last thing you want to do." Crais ordered.
"Why did you allow Talyn to fire upon them?" Aeryn charged.
"The Scarrans provoked him. There was nothing I could do." Crais said.
"What do you propose we do with the frelling army out there? We’re dead before we even think of star bursting." Chiana snipped.
"Pilot! Tell Moya she has to go towards the galaxy. It’s our only chance." Stark suddenly interrupted them all. He stepped further into the light, his eyes reddened and his face drawn of color. John walked up to Stark, his eyes set in anger.
"Nobody…" John barked, accenting each word. His advance frightened Stark. "…Goes near my galaxy, understand?" The human stood tall. Stark quivered slightly but stood his ground. He stepped away from John and stretched his arms out to the rest of the crew. He turned in a circle as he spoke.
"We all saw her. When we were sucked into the wormhole. She was there. She talked to us. She told us what needed to be done. We should obey her wishes." Stark reminded the crew. They were silent with realization and fear.
"Zhaan." D’Argo confirmed softly.
"So what do we do?" Jool begged for a reasonable answer.
The crew glanced from one to the other as they stood in a half circle before the view screen. They were for once, at a loss for words. There wasn’t much they could do. The mesmerizing galaxy before them was proving to be more of a headache than even John wanted to admit.
The confinements Scorpius had been placed in on the Scarran ship were quite accommodating, despite being a thermal bay. The heat wasn’t bothering Scorpius for the time being, but he knew he would have to leave soon if he wanted to remain clear-headed. Somehow, Scorpius’ captors hadn’t thought of disarraying the communications console or even bother posting a guard at the opened doorway. Perhaps Ka’ru realized an equal opponent when he met one. Scorpius grinned to himself as he finished sending the false transmission to Moya and Talyn. He had received the very transmission on his Gammak Base earlier that solar day. Just moments before the frelling Scarrans raided his base and captured him.
A warning beacon had sounded several microns ago. Red flashing light in the hall and soldiers rushing by told Scorpius his plan had worked. Talyn had probably fired upon the ship, unfortunately with little success. The Scarran ship was twenty times the size of Talyn and equipped with an entire army of soldiers and advanced weaponry.
Scorpius gazed upon the rushing soldiers, relishing in a much-anticipated future confrontation with Ka’ru. Scorpius could almost smell the foul creature approaching. He rested against the far wall of his prison and waited patiently. If there was one thing Scorpius was noted for, it was his incredible patience.
True to Scorpius’ predictions, Ka’ru angrily charged into the chamber, literally steaming with anger. Scorpius stood away from the far wall and approached Ka’ru with a widening grin. Ka’ru’s eyes burned with intense rage. He raised a scaly arm and pointed to Scorpius. Upon his outstretched finger was a long crescent black claw, much like the others on his fingers. These claws were notorious for ripping prey to shreds. Their hands were known for emitting a heat wave with the ability to detect lies. This heat wave would not affect Scorpius because of his half-Scarran genetics.
Scorpius stepped up to this outstretched nail, allowing it to poke into his chest as he stood before Ka’ru. The challenging sparkle within his eyes was mirrored in Ka’ru’s as well.
"You did this!" Ka’ru growled. He lowered his arm slowly as Scorpius tilted his head at him.
"Of course." Scorpius admitted.
"Why?" Ka’ru demanded an answer. Scorpius took a quick breath and responded.
"Don’t be foolish, Ka’ru. These aliens are not stupid. They know you’re here and that you are a threat. I sent the ships a transmission of you. They reacted how I expected them to. Honestly, I would have thought you would be one to study your opponent before heading into battle with them." Scorpius stretched the truth.
Scorpius always worked alone no matter what he was after. In this case, he wanted to know more of the significance of this new galaxy. As did Ka’ru. The only clever way to strive towards his goal was to form an alliance with Ka’ru. Ka’ru, though one of the more intelligent of his race, would never see Scorpius’ deception until it was too late.
"You have questionable ways of satisfying your questions. But perhaps we can use this to our advantage. What is it that you want?" Ka’ru asked, becoming less offensive. The commandeer began to realize the advantages of having a prisoner who was well acquainted with the two ships he was preparing to attack.
"I want what you want, Ka’ru. I want to know what those two ships are protecting us from. Why that galaxy is so important that we cannot advance towards it without resistance." Scorpius replied. The flashing warnings outside the chamber quieted. Ka’ru began to pace before Scorpius. He came to a stop once again before Scorpius.
"What do you want if I allow you to roam free on my ship and assist in finding what we need?" Ka’ru inquired.
"To return to my Gammak Base and resume my research, naturally. But more importantly, I would like any and all data acquired during your testing of the wormholes. If you do this, I will allow you clearance upon my base at any time." Scorpius bargained, baring his rotting teeth in a huge grin.
"Fine. How do you suggest we uncover the significance of this galaxy…what those ships are protecting?" Ka’ru asked with a sneer. Scorpius smiled at this question and looked at Ka’ru with an evil expression.
The scoreboard lit up with the latest score. John shouted and jumped into the air. Numerous hands patted his muddy uniform. John was joined by his fellow teammates in the end zone. The first touch down for the home team. Geoffrey Scott had made the fifty-seven yard dash to the first score of the first half. A buzzard sounded. Half time had begun. John and the team began to jog back to the school near the football field, heading for the locker room. Coach Haska wouldn’t be too happy with the team’s performance in the first two quarters. John hoped he could change that. He was quarterback after all. The team looked up to him and listened to him.
Two of the star senior players on the high school football team had been injured in the beginning of the state championship in Orlando. John had thrown both passes that had landed his players in a heap of trouble. The opposing team was not only bigger, but also returning state champions seven years in the running. This was the first year John’s team had made it to state. Luckily, he was a junior so if they didn’t win this one, there would always be next year.
The sea green tile that constructed most of the large locker room of the school was littered with sweat drenched towels, spare shoulder pads, and smelly socks. The rugged football players filed in, taking a seat on the numerous gray benches situated around the edge of the room. The rows of blue painted metal lockers stood behind the green and white uniformed high school players. The team was generally quiet, muttering a few cusses here and there. Coach Haska slammed the door behind him as the last of the players sat down. He searched each and every exhausted, sweaty face of the team. His gaze settled onto the captain of the team, John. John stared back, daring the coach to push his buttons.
"What is wrong with you ladies? This is the fucking state championship, girls. Play your goddamned hearts out. I want blood. I’ve seen you play like your lives depended on it. Why haven’t you shown me that tonight? That last pass was luck, Crichton. Scott was even luckier to catch it and run with it. Linus, you’re benched. I don’t want to see another penalty like that again from you." Coach Haska barked at this team. The silence was deafening. A small droplet of water hitting the shower floor echoed into the room. The repetitious dripping carried on a few more moments before anyone dared to speak.
"They’ve got seven seniors playing, coach. Five were all stars last year and the quarterback got MVP three years in a row at state. How the hell do you propose a little team from Shitsville to outplay them?" Hayer, the kicker for the team asked.
Coach Haska drew close to Hayer, glaring into his face with such intense rage that his own face began to turn red. A small vein in his forehead began to emerge. Hayer leaned backwards and shut up instantly. Coach Haska stepped into the center cluster of his players and turned around to look each and every player straight in the eyes. He came to a stop once again to stare at his star quarterback.
"If you don’t pull some magic out of your ass before the end of third quarter, I am going to hunt you down and break your legs and your arm before Sunday mass, Crichton." Coach Haska stated, his eyes burning with hatred.
John stared back with the same hatred. He had a lot to prove out on that field. And even more to prove with his peers…including his father and coach. Everyone always dismissed John as the astronaut’s son…wild but predictable. John was more than determined to win this game. The coach began to turn slowly around, looking to each player as he spoke.
"You ladies have precisely…." Coach Haska paused to look at the watch on his left wrist. "Forty-five minutes to prove to the entire fucking world that you are not the losers you have presented yourselves to be in this first half. Go out there and play some goddamned football!"
"Coach!" John exclaimed standing up with such energy he shook the bench he and three other players were seated on.
Sneering, Coach Haska slowly turned to face his quarterback. He charged up to John, standing nose to nose with him. The challenge in the elder’s eyes was matched with the quarterback’s own. John felt a twinge of familiarity in the man’s unsightly looks.
"Permission to speak with the team…alone." John shouted into his coach’s face. Adrenalin pumped ferociously into his veins as he defied his coach and risked his entire future of playing football. John’s teammates looked to their quarterback in shock. Some smiled, even risked raising a fist in the air behind their coach’s back.
"In my office 0600 tomorrow morning, Crichton." Coach Haska growled and slowly began to back out of the locker room. He glared at the team, angered and vengeful. He would make sure that they all knew what consequences took place when all but declaring mutiny.
Coach Haska disappeared out the doorway. Both John and the team waited for the door to come to a complete close before any of them dared to utter a word. John remained standing, and finally glanced around at his teammates, observing the hidden fear in their faces. They all wanted to win just as badly as he did. But he felt none of them had more to prove than he did. In fact, John had felt this way his entire life. Always having to prove himself, never being able to simply be who he was.
"Listen up, guys. This is our lives down to a mere forty minutes of working our asses off to prove to the entire fucking world that we are the best god damned football team in Florida. We have been a team from Tommy’s suspension…" John pointed out. The team laughed as Tommy looked down shamefully but with a smile. "To Hunter’s last second saves…we…are…a…team. If we pull together and play like a team, we can do anything. That includes beating the seven-year state champions to a pulp. They won’t know what hit them."
A few of the players shouted and walloped, throwing their fists into the air. The team was beginning to buzz with adrenalin. They sat on the edge of their seats, hungering for a win.
"Think of your family, your friends. Fight for the honor you deserve in coming out from the worst first half we’ve ever played to the last half of the best football played in the entire history of high school football." John continued.
"Yeah!" A linebacker shouted excitedly.
"Want some motivation? Here, how’s this. Picture that ugly bastard Estes kissing your girlfriend. Or envision the entire opposing team celebrating in victory…holding up that beautiful shining trophy that’s rightfully ours at the end of the game. Think of those huge shit-faced grins that you’ll want to pop a few teeth out of. Half of those idiots on the team probably won’t even graduate and the half that do will only because they lucked out with a full ride on some football scholarship. Fuck the scholarships and fuck them! Let’s go out there and kick some major ass! Who’s with me?" John shouted. The entire team around him jumped up, shouting and jumping around. The testosterone was flowing just as hard as the adrenalin. The men strapped on their helmets, tightened their laces, straightened their jerseys, and chugged down bottles of refreshing Gatorade. They then rushed out the door of the locker room, whooping and shouting with energy.
John was about to join them. He headed over to his bench to pick up his towel when he heard a muffled clapping noise from behind. This younger John with a hint of the present day John in his mind already knew who was there. He needn’t turn around. His father was always there to encourage him. John simply had forgotten his father had been there in the original memory.
"Hey." John began to say and turned around. His heart jumped. The younger physical John grew frightened but his older mentality instantly reminded himself who this being was.
"What…who…oh." John stumbled.
"Excellent speech, John. I’m quite impressed." Scorpius stated, coming in to circle around John. The dark, hideous being glanced up and down at John’s muddied green and white uniform. John rummaged his soaking spiked hair and circled with Scorpius, watching him in both astonishment and anger.
"I’m not telling you anything. No matter how young and naÔve you get me in my memories, I will not say a fucking word." John stated through clenched teeth.
"Hmm. Interesting. You seem to have taken on a part of your younger, more impressionable self in this memory. You’re mind still amazes me, even for its simplicity." Scorpius said, rubbing his chin briefly. He came to a stop before John, towering over the somewhat shorter version of the human. John glanced up at the being, knowing he should hate this vile creature, yet feeling a sense of curiosity.
"Screw you, man. Go find somebody else to fuck with because I’m not taking any of your shit." John challenged, standing on his tiptoes as he spat into Scorpius’ face. Scorpius grinned. This peculiar young football player with the number 10 on his jersey was daring and spontaneous. The older John Scorpius was acquainted with was much more reserved and thoughtful before reacting.
"You would have been a much more exciting opponent than you are in the future." Scorpius observed. John’s eyes were beginning to glow with hatred. Even his younger self was beginning to realize this was an enemy not to mess with.
"Get out of my locker room now. Or maybe you’d like to be turned into a football that I can use out on the field. That would be fun. Slamming your ugly face into the mud puddles in the end zone." John laughed at the thought. He also realized this creature reminded him of Coach Haska. The similarity was eerie.
Scorpius suddenly grew serious and growled. John leaned back slightly, struggling not to show fear on his face. Instead, he forced a steady look of dominance on his sweat-drenched face. He was in control as long as he didn’t give the creature the answer he was looking for.
"What are you protecting? What is so significant about this pathetic little galaxy? Tell me!" Scorpius growled in a devilish bark.
John stood silent in the face of evil, relishing in the torment he was causing this foul being. He studied Scorpius’ angered expression for a moment before responding.
"Face me. Not in my memories but in real life. Face me like any decent, well…respectful…ah, intelligent…oh whatever the hell you are just face me. Fight me. If you so desperately want to know what I know, then confront me with all you got. Maybe you might just get what you want." John challenged and stole a step forward to grin at Scorpius. John’s voice became deeper as he spoke on. "But I gotta tell ya, Harvey, I don’t give up easily. In fact, I rarely give up at all."
Scorpius frowned as the present day John began to shine through his younger self. Scorpius opened his mouth to retaliate when both of them heard someone down the hall, calling.
"John! John, come on!" The voice cried from far away. John turned his head to look towards the doorway. He noticed the room beginning to fade quickly.
"John!" The voice became much louder and everything around John was enveloped in darkness. John opened his eyes as if he had just closed them. He saw the view screen before him, with the silent beauty of the Milky Way spread out before him. His hands were on his hips and his crewmates were standing about Command with him, observing the sight. Someone was still calling his name, calling John back to the present moment. John turned his head to look at his crewmates, each one staring at him as if he had just shouted out a profanity for no apparent reason.
"What?" John asked with bewilderment masking his disorientation.
"We’ve received some sort of transmission from your galaxy." Aeryn responded in a harsh tone. She was staring at him with a hint of disappointment in her eyes. John made a mental note to have a good long talk with her as soon as time would allow. After their last unproductive discussion, however, he hoped they would get something accomplished next time.
"The signal was weak at first. Moya is translating the transmission now." Pilot informed from the clamshell.
"What kind of transmission?" John asked in alert. He began to sense a strong feeling in his stomach that had been churning since they had first approached the field of failing black holes. Fear. The infamous rattlers had returned.
"It appears to be visual." Pilot answered, his eyebrows raised with surprise.
"Can you play this transmission for us, Pilot?" D’Argo pondered. He glanced at John to see if the human agreed. John only stood still, staring out the view screen. D’Argo felt for the human, realizing the dream that he had hungered for so long now just out of reach.
"I will try." Pilot stated. A few microns passed. The crew grew silent, waiting and wondering. What kind of signal was it? What if the Scarran ship detected it as well?
"Pilot, have you deciphered the transmission yet? Talyn is getting anxious." Crais’ voice broke the silence over the comms. Chiana and Rygel glanced nervously at each other. They knew as well as everyone that if Talyn had detected it, then so did the Scarran battle ship and the thousand little ships that now stationed themselves beside the ship.
John slammed his fist down on a nearby console, causing Jool to jump. She backed away from the human slightly.
"This is not going to happen. We are going to fight those bastards and protect that galaxy. Do you even realize the dren we are in right now? If those Scarrans attempt to enter into this galaxy and find my home planet, I will have nothing to return to. Everyone and everything I’ve ever known will be gone in an instant." John stated in a strong voice. His face was growing red with anger. "I won’t let that happen."
"The transmission has been translated. It’s…quite peculiar." Pilot interrupted John’s speech.
"Get on with it Pilot." Stark ordered, leaning forward on the console in front of him. The curiosity of the entire crew was peaked.
Pilot played the transmission onto the view screen for the crew. A brief, visual image flashed onto the view screen. A peculiar looking human dressed in an even more peculiar outfit appeared in a square window of a brick building. The famous golden arches flashed underneath this smiling being with a few English words beside it. The entire image had an old, faded look to it, reminding John of the late nineteen eighties. Crackling static began to play from these images into the silence of Command. Then, something clearer came through. A few sounds, then they grew stronger until the crew could make out words.
"...Welcome to McDon…."
John’s jaw dropped. He would have laughed at the absurdity of it all but instead, his stomach flipped and his heart began to race. Not only were the words in English, but clearly American. Of all things, good old McDonald’s had come through to become the universal greeting card. John released a chuckle after that thought.
"What is it?" Chiana asked of the origin of the transmission. John looked to her in pure shock. He had almost forgotten that his crewmates had never experienced television.
"What does it mean? What is McDon?" Jool asked.
"This is not good, John." Aeryn replied in an alarmed voice.
John looked back to Aeryn, reading the seriousness in her eyes. He already knew what she was implying. The Scarrans would have a direct link to his planet. If Earth wasn’t already in a delicate balance to exist in this unforgiving universe, she was tipping the scales.
"I can’t believe this! This is the biggest joke of my entire life. We’re going to get killed over a McDonald’s commercial." John brought his hands to his face and shook his head.
"I didn’t understand a single thing he just said." Jool crinkled her face at the human. Rygel snorted.
"Get used to it." Aeryn responded. She placed a hand on her hip and impatiently shook her head. "Does this transmission come directly from your planet?"
"Aeryn, unless I’m out of the loop, Earth is the only place you’ll find McDonald’s. You’d love their fries." John sent Aeryn a look. Aeryn nodded her head and turned to Pilot.
"Please tell me the defense shield is up to ninety percent, Pilot." Aeryn droned.
"Fifty-five percent and steady." Pilot reported.
"This is getting worse by the microt." Chiana muttered.
"Pilot, fellow crewmembers of Moya, I am saddened to inform you that the Scarran fighter ships are on the move. They’ve locked onto this strange signal and are heading for the source. Talyn can only fight off so many of them. There isn’t much we can do." Crais informed over the comms.
The crew immediately looked to John. John stared out the view screen, his face drawn of color. Like in the latest flashback from his past, he felt he had to be the confident leader with a plan already in the works. His words had lead to victory then but John was speechless now. He had no idea how to stop the Scarrans from destroying his home. Time was running out for Earth.
Ka’ru hissed into Scorpius’ face, standing before him on the control deck of the battle ship. The half-breed had been trying Ka’ru’s patience since the Scarran officers had captured him. Scorpius was always working against Ka’ru, even when they had declared a truce. Ka’ru already sensed some of his very own high-ranking officers steering towards a mutiny, which most likely had been suggested by Scorpius. Nevertheless, as an equally hideous, unforgiving soul, Ka’ru was impressed. In the unfortunate event that Scorpius carried out his plan of mutiny, Ka’ru knew how to strike back. He could be just as evil and conspiring as Scorpius, if not more so.
Scorpius retained a grin on his face even with Ka’ru’s nearly unbearable breath smothering him. The heat emitting from the Scarran was both satisfying and sickening. The inner struggles of the temperature war within Scorpius were failing him the longer he stayed on this ship. He had to act now or Ka’ru would succeed in dominating the game.
Ka’ru is not your commandeer for much longer, officers. He is a menace; a being that cares only for his own agenda. He will not fight for your lives. He will use each and every one of you to get what he wants, no matter what the penalty. Free from this monstrosity and merge with me. I will care for your future. I will give you everything you need. Create history as the team of brave officers who declared mutiny against the great Ka’ru. Be the officers who conquered a whole galaxy and captured the most hunted man in the universe. Declare mutiny, my friends. Ka’ru deserves to die. Scorpius glanced around at the officers on deck, smiling evilly and observing, as they appeared to hear the message he was mentally sending to them. Several officers had stopped manning their stations. They gathered together, speaking quietly and glancing disrespectfully towards Ka’ru.
Scorpius looked to Ka’ru to see the commandeer staring hungrily out at the two helpless ships before them. The Scarran fighter ships had already begun their false advance towards the galaxy. Their official objective was to eliminate both Talyn and Moya, then the galaxy. Scorpius had only one problem with this plan. He did not want to see Talyn and Moya scathed for it meant the demise of John Crichton.
"What is the importance of this John Crichton?" Ka’ru suddenly confronted Scorpius. Scorpius nearly jumped in surprise and reared back, suspicious of the Scarran. Had he read his thoughts? Impossible. This Scarran wasn’t intelligent enough. Scorpius retained his composure and stepped forward with curiosity.
"Perhaps you can tell me. After all, you have been hunting him for his knowledge, have you not?" Scorpius questioned. Ka’ru hissed angrily and took another step towards Scorpius. His radiating skin sent waves of heat in Scorpius’ direction. Scorpius began to grow weak from the heat and struggled to keep his composure.
"Knowledge? We have little interest in the primitive human’s mind…only for what he knew of your research. We’ve been interested only in what you are trying to develop on that so-called ‘secret’ Gammak Base. Unfortunate for you that we seized it." Ka’ru smiled. Scorpius grinned back. Ka’ru had no clue as to the importance of John and his brain. His source was safe…for the moment.
"You don’t even know what you have in your hands, Ka’ru. My Gammak Base is simply a decoy for idiots of your stature. Any information you retrieve there will be for nothing. My scientists are simply researching advanced pulse technology at that base." Scorpius scoffed. He was growing somewhat angered by this Scarran’s idiocy. How could such an unintelligent being rise to be the most respected Commandeer of his race?
"You’re studying wormhole technology." Ka’ru stated simply in return, undermining Scorpius’ lies. Perhaps Scorpius had been underestimating his opponent. He was shocked and outraged inside, but his physiology allowed for extreme control of emotion on the outside. Scorpius narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
"Maybe I am." Scorpius admitted dryly. "You still haven’t confided to me about the research you have been conducting on your own. How did you create the wormhole we traveled through to get here?"
Scorpius stepped up to Ka’ru, defying the extreme heat emitting off of the Scarran. He glared into Ka’ru’s angered face and waited patiently for an answer. Ka’ru slowly coiled his long, scaly fingers into fists. The coarse black hair running up his spine began to stand on end. His eyes began to glimmer with hatred. Ka’ru had met his match.
"What do you mean?" Ka’ru growled, his temper escalating. "You were the one who created the wormhole. We were unwillingly pulled into it. Our research had failed, every attempt had ended in a pathetic black hole."
Scorpius grew puzzled. He looked to Ka’ru with sincerity in knowing the Scarran was speaking the truth. He temporarily forgot about the mutiny he was creating with the officers in Command.
"Then who did?" Scorpius asked, almost ecstatic by the thought of the mysterious wormhole being created by an unknown source. Both Scorpius and Ka’ru turned to look out the view screen towards Moya and Talyn. They came to a conclusion that they knew who did. This would become the reason for the two to form an alliance.
"How do you suggest we capture and retrieve the knowledge we seek?" Ka’ru questioned.
Scorpius tilted his head slyly and smiled at Ka’ru. Ka’ru didn’t need mind-reading skills to realize what Scorpius was thinking.
"I suggest we ask for it in person." Scorpius smiled.
Voices. Thousands of voices of lost souls screamed into his mind. They tortured him day in and day out. Stark could only guess when his absorption of pain and death would finally take its toll on his mind. The easing, comforting thoughts he once possessed had disintegrated into only a few, disjointed flashes of calmness.
Stark longed for the calm. Yet the evilness creeping into his soul from the numerous deaths he had "experienced" scarred him deeply. His physiology allowed for sensing the demise of other souls across the universe…mainly those he was closely related to biologically or mentally. And all was crumbling down now that his center, Zhaan, was gone from his life. Stark was no longer a stable being.
Traveling throughout the silent halls of Moya while the crew struggled with the issues at hand, Stark was battling his own issues. He was finding it harder and harder to keep his mind at bay. The voices were constant. Only days earlier they had been whispers. But now, now they were screaming. The pain and torment riddling their voices was deafening. How much longer would it be before he snapped?
Peace of mind.
A solemn whisper filled his mind. Alerted, Stark flattened himself against the wall of Moya. His heart began to race. He searched the barren hall up and down with his nervously twitching right eye. Only a couple of DRDs on their routine patrol occupied the hall. Stark stepped away from the wall and continued on in caution.
Peace of spirit.
Stark released a cry. He immediately braced himself against the wall once again. Frightened, Stark glanced around the hall, swearing his eye was playing tricks on him. Had that door down the hall opened a dench?
"Who…who’s there?" Stark uttered a shaky whisper.
The screaming voices in his head that had become background music were now silent. Stark stole a brave step away from the wall.
"Zhaan?" He whispered in a barely audible tone.
Peace of soul, Stark.
Stark jumped in surprise. It was Zhaan. He glanced over his shoulder, swearing he had felt her breath grace his neck. Stark was shaking with fear but his heart leapt with joy. Zhaan had not appeared to him since shortly after her death monens ago and then again as they were tumbling through the wormhole recently. But where was she now? Why could he only hear her and not see her?
Stark began to think of what she was saying as well. What had Zhaan meant by all this? He remembered now the last sweet words Zhaan had spoken to him as she died.
Stark cried out in vain but to no avail. Zhaan was gone, along with Stark’s sanity. Stark knew he could no longer control the voices, the torment, or the infectious insanity controlling his mind. Not after losing Zhaan, his only refuge from himself.
"Zhaan, my love. Please accept my offer to be with you for eternity. I no longer have purpose here. Please…please Zhaan! Let me be with you, my sweet." Stark begged, dropping to his knees. He spread his arms out and looked around, hoping to see Zhaan materialize before him.
Goodbye my love.
Stark cried out in vain.
"NO ZHAAN! Don’t leave me!" Stark fell to the floor and began to sob. He knew she was gone now.
After a few microts, Stark began to calm considerably. He straightened with a look of realization. Deep within, swirled a new feeling; one he hadn’t experienced before. But it was extremely familiar…almost like the feeling he had experienced in Unity with Zhaan. Perhaps it was really the Delvian herself filling his existence. Energizing him and molding him into the essential asset she had once been to the ever-violent lives of the crew. Whatever the feeling was, whatever Stark made himself to believe it was, he felt ready. Stark felt confident once again that he could and indeed had taken the place of Zhaan as a peaceful, healing member of the crew on board Moya.
A small swing set rested in a lonely little park. The tall green grass around the set rippled in the gusty wind. The two rusted chains holding the aged rubber seat of the last swing croaked as they swayed back and forth on their supportive hooks. The faded red, white, and blue paint job on the bars of the swing set told of the many years of sun it had endured. A small child appeared nearby, holding an old muddy Tonka truck, similar to the one John used to own as a kid. The child had sandy blond hair and deep blue eyes. He wore dirtied blue overalls over a white shirt with unfamiliar cartoons printed on it. The child was frozen where he stood, staring up into the dreary low clouds of the cool summer day. Curiosity and fear paralyzed his face.
The senses were all so real, John imagined himself into the memory. He circled around, his leather clothes sealing to his skin against the wind. He shivered from the cold bite in the air and rubbed his arms to keep warm. John breathed in deeply, smelling the rich Earthly scents he had long ago forgotten. He temporarily forgot all about Moya, the Uncharted Territories, and everything that had been threatening his existence to this point. He relaxed and smiled at the sight of the little boy. He reminded John so much of himself as a child.
The small boy did not seem to notice John’s sudden appearance. He only continued to stare up into the sky, his face almost forming into a pout now. John could hear a small drone far away. The sound was similar to that of a plane engine but oddly out of this world. He searched the skies, looking off towards the blanket of woods decorating the landscape before him. He could see nothing but the dreary clouds and intense green of the flora around him. Even in such a depressing environment, John felt happiness and renewal. He was home once again. He cared not how he got here or how long his stay would be, he only cared for the simple things he had so often overlooked.
The child began to moan and point towards the sky, his eyebrows and lips turned down in a full pout. He cried in fear and dropped his toy truck. John whisked around to face the boy only to see him run away towards the complex of houses behind them. John heard the drone grow louder and turned back to the skies. He saw nothing yet. Maybe the child saw something he couldn’t. Either way, John didn’t want to stick around to find out. He was getting an eerie feeling about this place and he no longer wished to be here.
John searched the skies for a moment longer and looked back to where the boy had been standing. The Tonka truck lay in the grass, its yellow paint standing out in the tall green blades around it. John walked over to it and scooped it up, smiling at the memories of playing with the model when he was young. He twirled the toy around in his hands, observing its every feature. The mysterious drone above the clouds grew stronger. John didn’t bother to look this time. He knew there was nothing to see yet.
John paused a moment, hoisting the flatbed of the toy truck up on a whim. He was both shocked and devastated to see something he had not imagined would be there. Engraved deep within the base of the flatbed were the shaky letters J C. John instantly dropped the Tonka truck and stood away. His mind was already incorporating things into these memories yet he refused to believe…that truck had belonged to the unnamed little boy…not him.
John stumbled back a few steps and saw something out of the corner of his eyes. He shifted around and faced the first oncoming wave of alien ships racing through the clouds to a lower level, preparing to fire at will. The deep auburn skin of these alien ships reminded John of Moya, and his mind was reminded as if forgotten, of his life in the Uncharted Territories. John followed the ships with his eyes as they passed low overhead, the heat from the ships nearly singing John’s face. John stumbled a few more steps and spoke into his comms, which unbeknownst to him, was no longer pinned to his coat.
"Moya, Pilot…anybody…do you read me? I need help! The Scarrans…they’re attacking Earth." John shouted. More and more ships began to emerge from the clouds, filling the skies above. John’s heart raced and he thought of the little boy. He was probably hovering under his mother’s arm in the farthest, darkest corner of their house, shivering in fear and crying for their lives. John had to do something.
A sudden ball of fire shot through the air and struck the nearby swing set. John threw himself to the ground as the swing set disintegrated and the ground beneath sprayed outwards. John grasped the sweet grass around his head and clenched his teeth. He would not allow this to happen to his own planet. After all, he was the sole reason the Scarran ships had come to this galaxy and even recognized this planet as a threat. John thought of his father, DK, his sisters, and all of humanity. He would not allow a civilization that had lasted thousands of years to die like this.
John hoisted himself upwards as a continuous raid of fireballs smashed into the Earth around him. He barely flinched at the flying debris around him as he stood to face the oncoming ships. He paid no attention to the splintering houses and screaming victims behind him. He zeroed in on the ships and raised both his arms. He was going to defeat these Scarrans if it was the last thing he did. John held out his palms and screamed at the top of his lungs. He closed his eyes. Everything stopped instantly.
John opened his eyes. He was standing in Command, his crewmates staring at him in bewilderment like always. Had he just done all that on Moya, believing he was on Earth? John’s cheeks grew red with embarrassment. Stark entered into Command and noticed the silence and confusion among the crew. He walked straight up to John and grasped the perplexed human’s shoulders.
"John, you must stay focused. Don’t allow these images to take over your mind. Listen to me and me only." Stark began, his tone serious and his eye saner than ever. How had he known about the images and disjointed flashbacks he had been experiencing? John wondered briefly. John wrinkled his brow at Stark’s sudden change in attitude and attempted to look at the reaction of his crewmates. Stark grabbed John’s chin and refocused John’s gaze onto him.
"What are you doing, Stark?" Aeryn questioned, stepping forward in alarm. D’Argo followed suit, feeling protective of his friend.
"You have to go out there in your module…redirect the Scarrans away from your galaxy. They cannot reach Earth. Don’t allow them to do this, John. I don’t know how many more souls I can guide into the afterlife if they succeed in destroying your planet." Stark ushered. John could not sense if this was Stark speaking, or some other source. For a moment there, he had appeared to be speaking on the same level Zhaan had often used with John.
"I won’t let him do that, Stark. This is fahrbot. Release him and let us talk." Aeryn negotiated. Stark turned to stare at her with the same intensity he had shown John. A brief look of confusion crossed Aeryn’s face.
"Stark, listen to yourself. There are over a thousand fighter ships out there. John would not have a chance to…." D’Argo stated but was cut off.
"Don’t listen to them, John. I know what needs to be done." Stark urged, shaking John as he spoke.
"Why don’t you relax, Stark? We’ve got things under control." Chiana lied, stepping forward. Stark looked to her as if she were fahrbot.
"Stark’s right." John uttered, almost shocked by his own words. Everyone looked to him. Stark released his grip on John.
"Believe me or not if you want to. But I know and John knows that I’m right. Zhaan has somehow…re-energized my soul. I am thinking clearer than ever and I feel at peace. I am here as guidance to you on behalf of Zhaan’s wishes. Please don’t deny her last gift to you." Stark stated. He was, true to his words, saner than ever. He appeared relaxed and even his color was back to normal. This change in Stark was convincing enough for the crew. They nodded their approval.
"I’d hate to see a normal day on this ship." Jool muttered. Everything up to this point had been intense and bewildering to her. Rygel hovered near her and nodded with a laugh.
"It can actually be quite boring around here. That’s why I started up my hobby of snurching early on." Rygel commented.
"John. You’re not seriously considering this, are you?" Aeryn questioned, stepping up to the human. John turned to see fright in Aeryn’s eyes. She wasn’t ready to lose him yet…and he wasn’t about to leave her.
John thought of the little boy he had seen in the dream-like state he had been in. He could see the exploding houses and the fleeing injured humans. He envisioned the frightened little children, cowering into the smallest spaces they could find. He thought of his father staring up at the Scarran ships, smiling with the thought that John had been lucky after all, not to see Earth end like this. John could not let this happen to Earth.
"Pilot, prepare my module for a long journey."
John headed for the docking bay with Aeryn close behind. Her face was set in anger. John stopped as they reached the entrance of the docking bay and turned back to Aeryn. He grabbed onto her arms and pulled her to face him. Aeryn suddenly felt uncomfortable, not trusting her emotions. The last time she had gotten close with the human, they accomplished nothing but satisfying their…needs. Aeryn wriggled out of his grip and remained at a distance.
"You’re not going out there. I’ll render you unconscious if I have to." Aeryn charged. She stared into John’s determined expression and shook her head. The human could be just as stubborn as she was.
"Aeryn, I have to do this. If I don’t go out there, they’ll find my home and destroy it. I can’t let that happen…even if it means I never can return home." John reasoned, looking deep into Aeryn’s anxious eyes. Aeryn shook her head.
"What ever happened to you?" Aeryn asked, that same look of disappointment shadowing her eyes once again. John felt a funny feeling begin to creep into his stomach.
"What do you mean?" John asked, stepping forward. Aeryn looked longingly into his face and let out a deep breath.
"From the moment I have met you, your ultimate goal in life was to return to your Earth. But if the sacrifices meant harming those you came to care for on Moya, you stepped down. Now…now you’ll do anything for that chance to go home…anything. You’ll even leave us without a second thought. Why?" Aeryn questioned.
"Aeryn…oh baby…I…I know I’ve been obsessed. It’s just that the wormhole knowledge has been at the tip of my tongue since the surgery. I know it’s in there and if I can just grasp it…maybe then I can create a wormhole. And no, Aeryn, I wouldn’t even think of abandoning you or the others. Once I figure out how to control the final destination of a wormhole, I plan on finding everyone else’s homes first." John slid an arm around Aeryn’s waist. She allowed him to embrace her in a hug. She rested her face on his warm chest, listening momentarily to his comforting heartbeat. Aeryn then glanced up to look into John’s sincere face. She had underestimated him. All along, John had been placing her and the crew before himself. Somehow, she just hadn’t seen it.
"And what about me? Would I remain on Moya alone after everyone’s gone?" Aeryn said, trying not to allow the sadness overpowering her soul to pour out.
"Aeryn, no. I could never leave you. I think I would have to stop at home with you for a while and then we could go find our own little corner of the universe to be together in. No PeaceKeepers, no Scorpius, no Scarrans…no food cubes…." John stated in a soft voice, petting Aeryn’s long hair. Aeryn released a snort at the food cubes notion.
"I love you, John. I cannot live a future without you." Aeryn said. Her chin began to tremble and tears began to stream down her face. John swayed back and forth, rocking Aeryn until she quieted. Deep down, he felt exactly the same way. Unfortunately, somewhere in his mind, something told him that fate was about to step in the way. John realized his expression was reflecting this notion and as Aeryn turned to look up at him, he quickly masked it with a smile.
"Hey, I’ll be back in a flash. I trick the bad guys into thinking I’m going to charge them while Moya and Talyn make a run for the Milky Way. I’ll perform the old Indian Jones routine of sticking an object into the frag canons. They’ll try to shoot at ya and won’t even know what hit ‘em when the canon backfires. The fighter ships will go after you guys so I won’t have to worry about them, all right? It’ll work." John assured Aeryn.
"And what exactly do you plan to do when the fighter ships don’t give up?" Aeryn questioned his plan.
"Talyn turns around and spoils their parade." John answered simply. Aeryn looked to him with a weary expression. Her face was reddened from crying. John had never quite seen Aeryn this emotional before. He was beginning to wonder if there wasn’t anything else wrong with her. Aeryn finally stepped away from John and took a deep breath.
"Go on. Don’t let me stop you." Aeryn toughened up, urging John to leave instead of dragging this emotional dren of a conversation on any longer. John smiled, relieved to see Aeryn back to her normal self. He wrapped his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her head forward. John planted a sweet, gentle kiss upon her forehead. He then let go and turned towards the docking bay.
"Don’t worry, Aeryn. I’m going to save the day." John joked and then proceeded towards his module awaiting him in the bay.
Aeryn smiled at John’s statement but her eyes still carried worry. It was if those were to be John’s last words to her. Aeryn watched the human prepare to leave. Their conversation had eased her mind to a point. She had revealed she was uncertain of her future and what she wanted. Yet she somehow felt that there was still doubt in her mind as to where she really wanted her future to head. She had been born in space, she had been raised in space, and further more, she still preferred to die in space. If John meant to live on a planet, Aeryn just couldn’t determine if she would stay. No matter how strong her love for the human, there was only so much unhappiness she could endure.
Aeryn thought of the chip Crais had mentioned earlier. She watched John perform the final checks on his module before boarding. The door to the bay began to close before her. She stared on until she saw nothing but the barren wall of the door.
"Pilot." Aeryn spoke into her comms.
"Yes, Aeryn?" Pilot responded. He was instantly proud of himself for not addressing her as an officer.
"Prepare a transport pod. I’m going to Talyn."
Aboard Talyn, Crais was watching the Scarran fighter ships advancing towards them. Talyn had nearly fired upon the ships several times. Crais had done everything in his power to calm this little ship, hoping he would not try anything too drastic. John’s module suddenly appeared out the view screen, easing its way through the mass of fighter ships. The module appeared to be heading for the Scarran battle ship. Crais shook his head. The human really was insane. Talyn disrupted Crais’ thoughts and announced a transport pod entering into the docking bay. Puzzled, Crais turned to greet whoever was coming aboard. Moments later the door to Command where he was standing opened to reveal Aeryn Sun. She was angry. Crais hid his surprise and joy to see her and remained still.
"Aeryn Sun." Crais greeted her.
Aeryn marched up to Crais and aggressively forced him up against a wall. Talyn immediately lowered his internal weapons from the ceiling, prepared to fire.
"Talyn, no!" Crais ordered.
The ship was reluctant, but obeyed. The weapons drew back into the ceiling and Aeryn continued her force. Aeryn pressed her body up against Crais and shoved her forearm up under his chin, forcing him to look directly at her. Crais smiled. Aeryn stared into his taunting eyes.
"Aeryn, I…." Crais began in a gruff voice.
"Enough!" Aeryn ordered, pressing harder onto Crais’ throat. Crais gasped for air. Aeryn was not about to tolerate any of his dren.
"Give me the chip." Aeryn ordered. She drew her face close, within a dench of Crais’ own.
Crais wriggled his neck under Aeryn’s intense pressure. Though he was excited by her powerful interrogation, he was becoming quite uncomfortable. Aeryn’s force was stronger than any female peacekeeper he could recall in his entire time in office.
"I would, but I do not have the chip in my immediate possession. The chip is here on Talyn, however, stowed safely away." Crais informed her.
Aeryn studied Crais’ face a moment and backed her head away slightly. She maintained her force on him just the same.
"Frell Crais. Where is the chip? You know how valuable it is to me. How could you keep something like this from me when you yourself have been subjected to such a strict PeaceKeeper upbringing? You were taken from your parents as a child, were you not?" Aeryn argued.
Crais opened his mouth to respond but was instantly cut off by Aeryn. She was on a roll.
"Had it not occurred to you that I would find out about this chip? Did you simply store the chip until you felt it was convenient to bring it to my attention?"
As Aeryn’s temper flared, she pressed her body harder against Crais. This time, however, Crais did not enjoy her advance. He struggled to breathe, his lungs constricting under her force.
"If it weren’t for your bond with Talyn, you’d already be dead." Aeryn steamed.
Crais studied Aeryn’s burning eyes for a micron. She was extremely serious. He had no doubt the former PeaceKeeper would have carried out such a threat.
"I will give you the chip." Crais uttered after a brief moment of consideration. "On one condition."
That struck another nerve within Aeryn. She smacked Crais with a Pen-Tak jab, stunning him. A trickle of deep red blood began to spill down from the left corner of Crais’ mouth.
"I will not tolerate this, Crais." Aeryn warned.
"You must promise me you will not act upon what you discover on this chip." Crais ignored her warning.
Aeryn tilted her head slightly. With her eyes narrowed in suspicion, Aeryn allowed Crais to breathe a little easier but kept him braced against the wall.
"Oh, so you’ve already viewed the chip, have you? How considerate." Aeryn barked. Crais was growing impatient and slightly angry by now.
"How else could I have discovered the chip and its importance if I had not viewed it first?" Crais bit back. "Promise me you will not act upon the contents of the chip and you may have it."
Aeryn raised her face up to his and glared for a moment before responding.
"Fine. I promise. The chip." Aeryn stated, patiently holding out a hand.
Without a microt’s notice, Crais pressed his warm, soft lips onto Aeryn’s. He kissed hard and deep, feeling satisfaction for relieving the urge to do so for quite some time. Caught off guard, Aeryn was bewildered. But instead of prying away, she kissed back. Deep inside, she felt some passion for Crais. It wasn’t as strong as when she was with John, but it was definitely more desirable for one reason and one reason alone. A Sebacean must always keep the bloodlines pure. Aeryn still couldn’t shake some of the rules bestowed upon her since birth. An image of John surfaced in her mind, bringing her back to her senses. Aeryn immediately pulled away, forcing a glare onto her face.
Crais smiled and dug into his coat. He produced the chip Aeryn had so desperately wanted. Aeryn avoided direct eye contact and grabbed the chip from Crais. She then stalked off to leave Talyn.
Crais beamed. He watched Aeryn leave, feeling more and more attracted to her by the micron. He had finally kissed Aeryn Sun. One barrier of many he still desired to tear down.
Aeryn traveled through Talyn towards the docking bay. Her mind was distracted as she clasped the chip in her hand; squeezing it with such intensity her skin was indented and red. A turn in the hall revealed the opened doorway to the docking bay. Aeryn could see the transport pod she had arrived in. She quickened her pace. Her mind resurfaced the kiss with Crais. Aeryn shook her head, trying to rid of the memory. Aeryn forced herself to think of John and began to worry. Would he be all right? He was already flying through the fighter ships towards the Scarran battle ship, as best to Aeryn’s knowledge. She raised her right foot to enter onto the steps leading up to the transport pod.
Without warning, Aeryn was sent flying forward into the steps as Talyn jolted violently. The metal of the step Aeryn’s head had struck in the jolt caused her forehead to bleed. With frustration, Aeryn hoisted herself up from the steps and wiped her brow. She glanced around her and spoke into her comms.
"Crais, what the frell was that?" Aeryn demanded to know. There was no answer.
"Crais." Aeryn called again, securing the chip into her pocket. This time, she didn’t wait. She rushed back to Command, hoping Crais hadn’t suffered a worse fate than a simple cut.
The crippling pulse wave began to flow out from underneath the Scarran battle ship, racing towards John and all those behind him. John threw his weight into the turn to get his module to fly beneath the pulse wave. The back tail of his ship was struck, sending John’s module into a small spin. John was tossed around in his module as it spun out of control. He reached for the controls as inertia threw him around. He grunted in frustration. The spinning began to slow, allowing John to handle the controls and steer himself straight. He shook his head and looked to see where the module had taken him. John gasped and looked high above him. He was at the underbelly of the Scarran battle ship.
A small pod similar in design to that of the looming battle ship traveled steadily towards Moya and Talyn. Ka’ru turned to face Scorpius, as the two settled in for a hopefully uneventful ride in the pod.
"Shut off all operations! The pulse wave will not affect you unless your communications or weaponry are activated." Ka’ru ordered over the comms to his fighter ships facing the two renegade ships. Scorpius could hardly contain his excitement. Ka’ru sneered at Scorpius. He then turned off all communication as the wave rippled past them, shaking the pod slightly.
"When we find the human…I will interrogate him." Ka’ru stated.
"Really? And how do you think the human will respond to you? I have a much better resource, my friend." Scorpius smiled.
"The chip is out of his head. How can you control him now? Another new brain experiment of yours?" Ka’ru angrily charged up to Scorpius and wrapped a single long scaly hand around his neck. Scorpius was forced back in his chair but he kept his expression steady. Ka’ru growled, his fowl breath almost too much for even Scorpius.
"Patience." Scorpius muttered.
Aeryn entered into Command to immediately see an unconscious Crais lying nearby the communications console. She hurried to his side and hoisted him up. Talyn remained silent, causing Aeryn even further worry. She glanced behind her out the view screen to see Moya just as silent. The fighter ships had already positioned themselves tightly around the Leviathan and gunship, acting as a net to trap them in.
Crais began to stir in Aeryn’s arms. He opened his eyes and drew close to kiss her. Aeryn motioned her head aside with no time to waste and lifted Crais up to a standing position. Crais wavered momentarily and rested a supportive arm on the communications console.
"What happened?" Aeryn asked.
"The Scarran ship…they attacked us with a pulse wave. It was strong enough…" Crais paused as his vision clouded in darkness momentarily. "The pulse wave was strong enough to cripple both Moya and Talyn. They’re unconscious…."
Crais fell back to the floor, losing consciousness once again. Aeryn rolled her eyes impatiently and positioned Crais to sit up against the console. She then turned around in Command. Aeryn for once did not know what to do.
John glanced behind him to see the swirling innocent Milky Way beckoning to be saved. He then looked above at the mysterious mass stretching ten football fields across the underbelly of the Scarran battle ship. It was like nothing he had ever witnessed before. A swirling mass of darkened red material sustained itself within the boundaries of an outer ring. The ring was of unimaginable strength against the gravitational effect being created by the mass. Occasional flashes of golden yellow glistened from within, like that of a reflection in a pond. This was where the wave of pulse energy exited to strike upon Moya and Talyn, thus anesthetizing them. And this had to be the most vulnerable weapon this ship boasted on its exterior shell. John lowered his head and began to smile.
A crackling noise on his comms began to disrupt his thoughts. Someone on Moya was trying to communicate with him. John turned off the distracting comms and prepared the weapons mechanism he and Aeryn had installed a monen earlier. With no time for his thoughts to wander, John focused on the tasks at hand and positioned his module for attack.
Moya hovered before the pod, her majestic size as awesome as her beautiful skin. The smaller gunship near her side was sleek and handsome with dominance even over his mother. Ka’ru and Scorpius stood to gaze at these ships as their pod slowed for an approach to Moya.
"Scorpius. I suggest you become useful and open the docking bay doors." Ka’ru ordered, without as much as a glance towards Scorpius. Scorpius tilted his head at Ka’ru, realizing this Scarran knew more than he lead on. Scorpius looked to Moya, his eyes turning instantly black for a few microns.
The pod jolted briefly but then turned for a direct course into the now fast approaching docking bay. The doors opened smoothly around them as they passed through into Moya. The pod was guided along to a stop in the main docking bay and the doors behind came to a close. Atmospheric conditions returned. The pod doors opened with a rush of air flowing out into the stunned environment of Moya. Scorpius was the first to appear, with a weary expression. He instantly noticed the motionless DRDs littered around the pod as if they were frozen in place. Ka’ru appeared behind Scorpius and growled deep in his throat. Scarrans could be very impatient.
Scorpius glanced at Ka’ru momentarily before traveling down the steps to the floor. He waited for Ka’ru and glanced around, noting there were no unforeseen complications unveiling themselves so far. Not even the crew of Moya was there to defend her. This fact made both creatures smile. They stood side by side, surveying the unfamiliar room before heading forward to find their prize.
Aeryn observed the chaos of ships out the view screen, her arms crossed and her face set with concern. Had John made it to the battle ship yet? Would he succeed? Aeryn pondered the capabilities of the human less and less now days but she still pondered. She became lost in her thoughts, with nothing else left to do but think. Would he stay? Aeryn was almost surprised by that sudden thought. If they somehow survived this mess, would John stay here to return home or would he stay on Moya to be with her? Had she shown him efficiently enough that she wanted, no needed him to stay with her? Or was Crais her ultimate future? Perhaps she should stay on Talyn with Crais, using her resources as a former PeaceKeeper. Keep the bloodlines pure. Aeryn shook her head as the rule once again popped into her head. There were many other opportunities arising for Aeryn. But there was nothing more she wanted than to be with the one man she loved.
With his thumb dancing above the trigger, John had the module positioned to fire upon the battle ship’s superior technology. The massive ring containing the swirl of energy was almost inspiring to John. The equations and theories surrounding wormholes bombarded his mind. John felt energy circulating his tingling body. His face brightened and he sat forward. The technology was no longer at the tip of his tongue but out into the air. He had grasped this advanced theory of wormholes and locked onto it permanently.
"That’s it. I’ve got it!" John exclaimed excitedly and then glanced around as if someone could have possibly heard his embarrassing outcry. John sat back and beamed at the mass above him. He knew how to create a wormhole.
John checked the fighter ships to make sure they hadn’t noticed his position yet. They were far from him at this point. But unfortunately, they had completely encircled both Talyn and Moya. John turned back to the battle ship, his thumb still dancing above the trigger. How could he destroy the one element of technology that could take him home in a micron?
D’Argo lay on the floor, his back aching and his mind reeling. What had just happened? He shook his head and lifted himself up, glancing around Command to see if his other crewmates had survived the turbulence of the pulse wave. Chiana was lying near him, her arms draped over Rygel, who in turn was just wakening. The Hynerian grunted and tried to wriggle free. D’Argo helped him out just as Chiana awoke. Chiana lifted herself up, realizing her position with Rygel in disgust as Jool bounced up from the floor behind them. Rygel reclaimed his throne sled and hovered to the center of Command, peering out the view screen wearily at the fighter ships. Stark moaned from across the room and stood to observe the others.
"Is everybody all right?" Stark inquired as he approached each of the crew. He looked them over physically to see to his relief that no one had been injured in the violent turbulence they had just experienced.
The pulse wave had been a complete surprise attack. Neither Moya nor Talyn had sensed it in time to warn the crew.
"John, can you hear me?" D’Argo called over his comms. The comms crackled and he heard nothing more.
"What about Aeryn? Is she still aboard Talyn?" Chiana pondered, growing anxious.
"Pilot." Rygel stated into his comms. He called Pilot several more times before realizing nothing was working. Even the hum of Moya had silenced. The lights had begun to dim as well.
"What’s going on?" Jool asked with a quivering lower lip. She glanced around with her green eyes, fearing the worst.
"Calm down, everyone." Stark demanded, holding out a hand. "Zhaan instructed us to follow our intuition. All of us. We should listen to her and realize that we are not in complete danger as of yet."
"Oh really?" D’Argo stepped forward and stood tall above Stark. The Banik did not falter and continued his peaceful stance.
"John is our key. And Aeryn is on Talyn. She can help us." Stark stated.
"He’s either completely fahrbot or just as frelling peaceful as Zhaan was." Chiana observed.
"Listen, this ship is paralyzed. There is nothing we can do about our position amongst those Scarrans." Stark responded.
"Yes, there is." D’Argo confided.
"What?" Jool demanded to know, stepping forward with interest. She almost felt safer the closer she was to the others.
"We go out there in that mysterious ship of ours. It has a more powerful defense shield than I have ever seen and I am willing to wager that those Scarrans are defenseless against it." D’Argo explained, trying to gain support from his crewmates.
"What, and leave Moya and Pilot alone? I don’t think so." Chiana argued. She stepped back to accent her point. Rygel hovered over to her side and nodded his head.
"I agree with Chiana." Rygel stated with bravery. "We stay with Moya and Pilot. We trust Stark."
D’Argo wrinkled his brow as he searched their serious faces. He looked to Jool to see the fright in her eyes. She was the only one willing to go with him. D’Argo then realized the absurdity of his plan and stepped down.
"It’ll never work, you’re right. We can’t exit Moya anyway, she wouldn’t even be able to open the docking bay door." D’Argo pointed out.
"Do I have to ask?" Jool stated as the question "what do we do" seemed appropriate at this point.
"We go to Pilot’s den and try to wake him." Stark suggested firmly. The crew glanced to him and nodded their approval. Stark turned and led the way as the crew followed in a single line. Each and every one of them had a look of fear spread across their faces. They always had a good plan by now. Unfortunately, this time, the main person who usually came up with all the good ideas was not there. John was in just as deep dren as they were.
Her foot nudged Crais’ shoulder, shaking him momentarily. Aeryn lowered her foot and exhaled loudly. No matter what she tried, Crais would not wake up. Talyn was even further into a deep sleep than Crais probably was so she had no hope wakening the ship before Crais. Aeryn turned back to the view screen and hoped that Moya and the crew were all right. Few times had there been a breach in communications. The silence both frightened and angered Aeryn. She stole a glimpse towards the section of the Scarran battle ship she could see out the view screen. Squinting her eyes, she spied John’s tiny module hovering just beneath the ship, paused for what seemed like infinity.
"He made it." Aeryn confirmed out loud, a swirl of happiness filling her body. She glanced back to see that no one heard her anyway.
Aeryn watched John’s module for a while, wondering what was going through the human’s mind. Stark had mentioned earlier something about images plaguing John’s mind; it unsettled Aeryn. She remembered John mentioned bad dreams as well. This and all of John’s strange pauses and far away looks told Aeryn something was wrong. It had started even before they encountered his galaxy. Was he homesick? No, he had been the first few monens but by now, he was settled with their way of life. Or so Aeryn tried to make herself believe. How desperate could a person be to return to their only home? Especially if this person had never before experienced life outside of his very planet? Didn’t the wonders here capture his imagination, starve the human for more, or even captivate him beyond words? Aeryn hoped so.
A moan from behind brought Aeryn back to the troubles at hand. She walked back to Crais and knelt down, waiting impatiently for Crais to waken. He stirred, his head rolling to one side. Aeryn slapped him on the cheek, hoping to wake him that way. Crais only moaned once more and rolled his head back to where it had been resting.
Aeryn huffed and stood. She finally noticed the dull interior of Talyn. The ship had truly begun to shut down. Hopefully, the pulse wave would not have long-lasting effects. Talyn was literally their only hope to survive this latest encounter. He was an essential part of John’s plan. Aeryn began to plead with the unconscious ship, hoping he would hear her.
"Talyn. Talyn it’s me, Aeryn. Please, you have to wake up. Moya’s been immobilized just like you. She can’t defend herself. The Scarran fighter ships have entrapped us. John is at the battle ship and he needs your help. He cannot overpower the ship all on his own. Talyn, you must save us. Allow John the chance to return to his Earth without the threat of the Scarrans. It’s a simple request."
Talyn remained silent. Aeryn thought of her last words about John. She truly did wish the best for him and if that meant returning to his beloved Earth, so be it. When the moment finally came, she would deal with her inner turmoil. That was how she handled everything. It was how she was bred.
"You’ve grown to be such a handsome young ship, Talyn. I am proud of you. I will always be here if you need me. One way or another, Talyn, I will be your mother when Moya is not." Aeryn stepped forward and softly caressed a column on a nearby wall. The interior lighting appeared to grow brighter. Aeryn smiled, hoping her eyes were not just adjusting to the dim chamber.
"I will protect you and guide you, just as Crais has. Please wake up, Talyn. We need you." Aeryn pleaded on and then spoke in a softer voice. "I need you."
Aeryn was startled by her sudden admission. She smiled and realized Talyn was her dream for the future…with John. How she could combine these two was beyond her. Then there was Crais.
"Aeryn…." Crais muttered, disrupting her thoughts. Aeryn jumped as she was caught off guard and knelt down beside Crais. Talyn began to lighten even further, thus telling Aeryn she was not hallucinating.
"Crais, you need to wake up. You need to help me get Talyn back. John is at the battle ship. We have to attack now." Aeryn rushed her words, holding Crais’ face in her arms. Crais slowly opened his eyes.
"Talyn’s weak…but he’s growing stronger. I’m growing stronger." Crais informed Aeryn. He struggled to stand with Aeryn’s help. He leaned against the console behind him and faced Aeryn.
"Before the pulse wave…." Crais began but paused as lightheadedness paraded his vision.
"Before the wave? What? What are you trying to say Crais?" Aeryn asked anxiously, feeling her stomach begin to flutter.
"Talyn sensed a pod…headed for Moya."
"A pod?" Aeryn asked but already felt she knew where Crais was headed.
"Two beings aboard…they came from the battle ship." Crais finished.
Aeryn’s eyes widened and she stepped forward to look at distant, silent Moya before them. The numerous fighter ships between them hardly obscured her view.
"Who occupied that pod, Crais?" Aeryn commanded an answer. Crais remained quiet. Aeryn rushed to him and clenched her hand onto his chin, lifting his face up. She glared at Crais who struggled to stay conscious.
"Who?" Aeryn repeated.
"A Scarran…and Scorpius." Crais growled. Aeryn released her grip on Crais, allowing him to crumble to the floor, struggling with consciousness. Aeryn turned back to look at Moya with alarm. There was no way to warn them and even then, it was already too late. Aeryn could only take solace in the fact that John was not aboard the Leviathan. As for the rest of the crew, she feared the worst.
The blazing orange sliver began to melt into the deep blue ocean at the horizon line. Orange pools of reflected light glittered on the shimmering water, begging for more life than the oncoming nightfall would allow. A slight salty breeze whooshed across the surface of the endless waters from the darkening clear blue sky above.
John glanced down to view his sandaled feet swirling around in the sand. He whisked his head back up to see the final sliver of the day’s sun beginning to slip under the horizon. What the frell? He was back in the memory with DK on the beach the day before quarantine so long ago. What am I doing back here?
DK cleared his throat from nearby. John looked to see his friend at his side. Before DK could say a single word, John held up his hand. He knew what was coming. He didn’t want to hear it. Not again. And just as if someone had been listening at that moment, everything stopped. The wind, DK’s very heartbeat, even the sliver of sun hanging by a thread above the ocean became still. John shook his head, backed away from DK and his thunderbird convertible parked behind them. He headed towards the water, as if there was any escape into it.
"…be your own hero….second thoughts….blood, sweat, tears….everything will change…prove to the world…" DK’s voice boomed around John. He swirled, seeing nothing but the eerie stillness of DK and Mother Nature. He then heard his own voice echoing in the mix.
"…worry about the small stuff when time calls for me to…" All these words struck John as symbolic. They were the things both he and DK had said originally in this memory. So why were they all jumbled together like this? Was his mind trying to tell him something? Or was Harvey involved somehow?
John held his hands up to his ears and prepared to scream. He squeezed his eyes shut. The jumble of emotions he had been suppressing for so long began to release. John heard the motor of a vehicle and then the spinning of tires against sand. John opened his eyes a slit to see the red taillights of his vehicle glowing like a pair of eyes, growing smaller as they headed further down the path. John searched the dimming area with his eyes. DK was gone. The breeze and tide of the ocean had lessened. The sun had finally set.
Without warning, John was whisked into a dream plane, as he would have described it. He was physically experiencing every single flashback or memory that had haunted him since the beginning of this entire mess. And it all began with DK and him in the bar.
"Come on, John. What’s with the Jack Crichton act? You’re way too serious. Enjoy the buzz and worry about the other stuff the morning after." DK laughed, swaggering. John saw himself across from DK, snorting and laughing in response.
John began to back away, unsure of everything at this point. He stumbled on someone’s feet behind him. John felt fear shroud his body. Scorpius. He turned with a scowl expression but was caught by surprise. There was Bobby and his henchmen standing like puppets, waiting for their master to animate their individual parts. His head began to spin, and John thought for sure that this time, he would truly enter into insanity forever.
"Oh crap." John echoed the earlier version of himself.
Blackness blanketed his vision briefly. John found himself seated snuggly in the cockpit of the space shuttle, which was ready to boost him to outer space. Farscape One was about to encounter alien worlds and contacts. Could he possibly warn himself? John knew this wasn’t possible. This was all the past. There was nothing that could be rewritten.
The shuttle shook with such ferocity that John feared it would shatter into a billion pieces even before exiting the launch pad. He took a side-glance towards the window to see the orange globe of the sun, slowly rising above the horizon. That was peculiar. The sunrise was hours ago. John thought to himself.
The shuttle lifted off. John screamed at the top of his lungs, both from the adrenalin rush, and the fear that something might go horribly wrong. He braced either side of his seat with his hands. His knuckles instantly faded to white. The shuttle shook and growled as it reached for the darkness of space through the blue-tinted atmosphere of Earth. John had always loved the rush of going up into space. But he would not be able to re-experience it any longer.
Without as much as a blink of an eye, John was back on Moya, looking around in his newly established quarters. Fast forward please. This was getting old. Somebody must have been listening because John was then transported to the next unforgettable event of his life.
The gracious meteor streaked across the sky above him. John smiled, feeling at peace as he lay on the sand, drinking beer with his good old buddy DK. The Graduation Beach Party. Ah, such good times. An exciting tingle enveloped his body as the fateful idea struck him. Traveling into space using Earth’s atmospheric friction to send a craft into unprecedented speeds, thus the beginning step towards interstellar travel. The idea was powerful, loved by literally everyone John and DK presented it to. Along with the positive feedback, came the skepticism. The media was the worst. They tore apart the duo’s work as it progressed through five years of hard work, dedication, and numerous setbacks.
John remained silent, allowing the memory to progress. Unfortunately, this time he found he was a witness to Scorpius and himself, arguing. His former self was standing above his mother’s coffin at the gravesite. Scorpius refused to leave him alone. The anger boiled within the witnessing John just as strong as it had originally. John charged forward to strike Scorpius, only to find himself falling, fast.
The shining frightened eyes of a deer shone in front of him. His heart jumped. John swerved his bike but to no avail. He hit the dumbstruck animal head on. He didn’t hear the screeching noise of his tires nor Bobby’s at this point. He only heard that sickening sound of the deer’s body being shredded apart as his bike smashed into it. He heard a small whimper, and then his ribs cracking as he fell onto the hard pavement. His head smashed into the ground, unprotected, and his vision buzzed, a streak of red flashing before him. John felt the pain just as strong as he had originally, and then remembered something he had thought as he came to a rest in the ditch. Farscape One was not a complete disaster if he just tried a little harder.
John could already predict the pattern now. He was re-experiencing all the memories and all the emotions that came along with them. These memories were telling him about his own personality. They built his character and they could tear down his character. With this in mind, John feared the next memory about to hit him.
Smack! Like being slapped in the face, John was back leaning against the hospital wall, staring into the corridor at the ticking clock. That fucking son of a bitch clock. John slammed a fist against the wall and dared himself not to look into the hospital room nearby. He didn’t need visual confirmation to know what he’d see. The image of his dying mother had always haunted him. It plagued his mind so intensely that he could hardly recall what his mother had always looked like before the cancer. He knew she had been radiant but his mind would not allow him past the guilt of abandoning his mother in a time of crisis.
And just to tease his mind, the images around him merged into that of the white townhouse on 32nd street. The two playful boys dancing in the mud puddle with their trusty Tonka trucks. John could barely recall Harvey and the reflection of the Milky Way in the puddle when he was transported to the most haunting image sequence to parade his mind as of yet. His mind had skipped the locker room memory completely, leading into the Scarrans rapidly attacking his Earth. The child who had been standing near the lone swing set had run, dropping his Tonka truck. John saw a flash of leaning down and sighting his very own initials on the Tonka truck. He then heard the screaming victims and the shredding buildings, and worst of all, he smelled the fear and death of the destruction around him.
John struggled to take control of his mind. He was lost in a plane of no origin or time. He couldn’t get back to his module hovering beneath the Scarran battle ship nor could he get to that inspiring locker room speech he had given. He had always drawn a lot of strength from that memory. He had shown leadership in the time where all odds were against him. He had shown strength and bravery, standing up to a coach feared by nearly the whole community, and best of all he had shown determination to never give up, no matter what the challenge.
John saw a flash of Harvey’s scaly face. He was saying something. What was it? Oh yes…nah nah na nah nah na. That son of a bitch was tormenting John. He was the sole reason behind everything John had been experiencing. John felt anger and fear but harnessed both dangerous emotions. He could play at this game. After all, some of those memories were the best of his life!
Harvey appeared on a glaring white sandy beach, the ocean lapping against the shore beside them and the sky bleached out by the sun high above. John swirled around where he stood, taking in his new surroundings. Every sensory was on overload. Beads of sweat began to form on his tanned skin. He squinted his eyes against the brilliant sand. His nose sensed the heavenly salty air. The sand beneath his feet burned him almost beyond toleration. And the stinging taste of sweet revenge tickled his tongue. John marched up to his nemesis whom was dressed in his usual leather thermal suit.
Harvey was also observing the environment in surprise. Harvey had not realized the human would wise up to his old tricks so early in the game. He stood in place as he viewed the determined human charge towards him. He was going to have fun with this.
"Excellent wardrobe my friend!" Harvey exclaimed with a huge smile, spreading his arms out. John stopped and glanced down to see a rather loudly colored Hawaiian shirt upon his chest and dull khaki shorts upon his waist. He glanced back up just as Harvey struck him under the chin with his left fist. John fell to the sand on his back, shocked but not down for the count.
John flipped back to a stand, smiling back at Harvey. Harvey nodded his head briefly in admiration, tucking his lips out to accent this.
"Let’s do this, Harvey…Scorpy…whoever the frell you are." John stated, lowering his head to glare at the creature before him.
"Fine." Harvey stated, throwing a towel beside him. John didn’t stop to ponder where the towel had suddenly materialized. He knew everything was growing in symbolism by the microt. John shrugged…he might as well have fun with it.
Harvey and John marched towards each other. The two struck with force, slamming their fists into each other’s faces. No damage was done however. They struck again. Nothing but a little ache here and there. Another strike, and then another. John was on a roll. Harvey smiled…a worthy opponent at last.
John threw his weight into the next punch. Harvey was sent flying…at least ten feet through the air…before he landed on the sand with a thud. John raised his arms and a sudden crowd appeared around him, cheering him on. They each waved American flags with pride. John studied the crowd briefly, noting his sisters and their families near the center and D’Argo, Aeryn, Chiana, and the rest of the bunch gathered together near the back.
"Hey, might as well invite the whole cavalry!" John exclaimed, as he wrapped his hand around the front of Harvey’s neck. Harvey was too quick, unfortunately for John. The Scorpy clone slid a leg into John’s sending him to the ground as well. John rolled onto his side and raced to stand up, hoping to strike first before Harvey had a chance.
John saw a fist in his direct field of vision. His knees buckled. But somehow, he remained standing. Harvey took another swing but this time, John slammed an opened palm into Harvey’s fist, stopping him completely. The two became locked together, glaring and snarling at one another.
"Come on son! You can do it!" Jack Crichton called from somewhere in the crowd.
"Don’t let the shitface beat you to a pulp, man!" DK laughed to John’s left.
"Kill him!" Aeryn cried.
John felt a surge of energy within. He stared deep into those hollow black eyes. They stared back, almost into his soul. John had feared them once. Now, he only saw an empty soul, begging to be obliterated. John thrust his weight into Harvey and knocked him to the ground. He raised his right arm high above his head, poised to strike. Harvey wiggled and squirmed, already foreseeing the end. John brought down his hand with a powerful force, striking Harvey square in the chest. He then picked up the stunned Harvey, hoisted his weight up and threw him into the cool blue ocean. Harvey struck the water and sank, completely disappearing from view. John thrust his fist into the air.
The crowd was gone, unable to celebrate in the victory. John didn’t care. He had finally beaten the Scorpy clone in his head. He wiped his hands together, smoothed his hair, and turned his back to the end of his torment. He faced the beautiful landscape of his home before him, blanketing green forests, glistening blue lakes, and best of all, his Dad with a fishing rod in his hands. John did not glance back; he took a step forward. He was going to go fishing.
The coolness of his module returned him to the present. John looked slowly back to the massive ring of swirling matter above him and then down to his thumb, now resting gently on the trigger. He didn’t have any more decisions to make. He didn’t have any more doubts to consider. All he had was the back seat of his flight suit, the best seat in the house, and frelling good aim. John depressed the trigger.
Scorpius and Ka’ru marched through the dimmed hall of Moya. They were determined to find their prey, no matter what the cost. Scorpius had tried again and again to mentally tune in to the human, but failed miserably. Yet, he showed Ka’ru none of this. One little fault in his stature and the Scarran would have ended his life.
The main difference between the two villains was simple. Ka’ru would kill instantly without a second thought. Scorpius would at least have a premeditated plan, and always a reason to keep a life to torment it, break it down, and destroy it over a long term. It was the second difference that proved to be the most dangerous. Scorpius was at least predictable…Ka’ru was not.
Scorpius could barely contain his excitement. Soon, John Crichton would be in his hands. And Ka’ru would be subject to mutiny by his ever so loyal officers. The brute Scarran would die before he even thought of Scorpius as the culprit.
The two continued on through the hall, observing an occasional frozen DRD but not a single sign of the inhabitants on board. So far, they realized their surprise visit was unannounced.
Stark led the way towards Pilots den in a rushed walk. Every microt counted. He knew better than any of them that danger was near and all the crew could really do was depend on the balance of time and space to guide them through. Somehow, upon merging with Zhaan’s soul, Stark had been given the gift to hear all the voices in the universe, not just those of the dying. This was how he had known of John’s mental torment. And this was how he knew that danger was close…by even a single doorway.
Chiana and D’Argo rushed behind Stark, checking each opened doorway as they passed, pointing their weapons. The sternness on their faces wasn’t reflected onto Jool or Rygel’s however. These two stayed as closely as possible to the Nebari and Luxan, fearing that being the trail of the group would cost them their lives.
"Are you sure you sensed someone enter onto Moya after the wave hit?" Chiana asked, her voice nearly quivering. She had harnessed her fear to a point, drawing strength from D’Argo’s bravery.
"Positive." Stark muttered, still tuned in on the voices.
"What the frell are we doing in the hall then? We should be hiding!" Rygel slammed a fist onto his throne sled. He dared not show he was just as frightened as Jool at this point.
"Hiding? Is that all you can think of? That’s pathetic!" Jool cried back, yet she grabbed harder onto the back of Rygel’s throne sled just the same.
"Do you mind? You’re slowing me down!" Rygel argued back.
"SHHH!" Stark stated, stopping suddenly. He held out a finger and pointed towards the right of the upcoming split in the hall. D’Argo raised his Qualta Blade up and stepped forward with Stark. Chiana paused momentarily.
"Why that way?" She demanded to know. D’Argo spun around, gave her a look, and then headed on. Chiana nodded her head. "Right."
The crew then continued down to the right hall, headed for Pilot’s den.
Ka’ru marched ahead of Scorpius, smelling the sweet scent of the human. He knew he was nearby. He just had to be. Ka’ru turned into a hall where several personal quarters were situated. He came to an abrupt stop before on of the quarters and physically pried open the doorway. The door squealed, protesting his force. Scorpius stood aside, impatiently.
The quarters were dark. Ka’ru could smell the human everywhere. Frustrated, he thrashed his arms about the few materials in the room. Scorpius shook his head and came to the entrance of the quarters. Ka’ru immediately charged up to him and grabbed Scorpius, lifting him up off the ground. Scorpius gagged and grabbed Ka’ru’s bulky arm, holding onto it as he kicked his legs in the air.
"He’s not here." Ka’ru stated simply. Scorpius wanted to laugh. Of course the human wasn’t there. The human was much more intelligent than that.
"They’re probably hiding." Scorpius hissed.
"Where are they?"
"Either in Command, or the Pilot’s den. Most likely Command." Scorpius lied and was instantly slammed to the floor by his captor. Ka’ru began to walk away. Scorpius picked himself up off the ground and walked slowly towards the path Ka’ru was taking. He tilted his head and allowed a large smile to form onto his face. He then turned and headed in the opposite direction, towards Pilot’s den.
"Pilot!" D’Argo stated as the crew entered into the den. Pilot was unconscious, his DRDs frozen in place about his console. Stark rushed to Pilot and placed a hand onto his cheek, soothing him and trying to wake him. Chiana held her weapon steady and followed D’Argo around to secure the area. Jool and Rygel rushed to take refuge behind the console. They gathered close to Pilot, scanning the room and locking their sight on the doorway for any sign of trouble.
"Can you wake him?" D’Argo demanded to know, glancing back from his position near the beginning of the walkway to Pilot. Chiana hovered near the side of the doorway, pushed at the opened door.
"I’ll try." Stark called back busily.
"D’Argo, would you mind helping me here?" Chiana asked with frustration. D’Argo let out a frustrated sigh and walked over to Chiana. He began to push on the colossal door. It began to slide, little in response to Chiana’s pressure and nearly all in response to D’Argo’s. Jool began to scream, her hair turning a shade of red. Rygel ducked his head under one of Pilot’s arms. Stark whipped his head around and gasped. Chiana stumbled backwards. D’Argo prepared to fire his Qualta Blade.
Ka’ru and Scorpius stood before them, glaring at each other and the crew in the semi-opened doorway.
The explosion rocketed John’s module. The fiery orange blaze illuminated the human’s satisfied expression. The blaze swept across only a portion of the massive ring containing the mysterious mass. John’s victory became short lived. The outer ring began to fissure. The mass within the ring grew unstable, swirling out towards John and then backwards in on itself. John frowned. He dropped his jaw and stared for only a microt before realizing he needed to get the frell out of his current situation. He put metal to the pedal but nothing happened.
"Ah crap. Don’t stall on me now girl!" John shouted, revving his engine.
Farscape One moaned under the sudden changes in the space surrounding it. Something was pulling on his module. Another explosion suddenly erupted above, near the large fissure. John’s eyes widened and he cranked the accelerator down to the panels in front of him. The little module huffed momentarily and finally, after some extreme effort, pulled out of danger’s way by denches. The huge orange flames swallowed the area where John had just been, rolling back into themselves towards the ring. John sped up and headed dead on for Moya, praying the battle ship wouldn’t explode too quickly before he could get to safety.
Behind him, the fiery blaze suddenly dissipated. John shifted in his module to try to get a sneak peak at what was happening behind him with the Scarran battle ship. Nothing. The fissure had damaged the ring somewhat and the fire had reached interior chambers, but the ship was still looming there. The ship seemed to be taunting him. John glanced down to see his module was low on fuel. Dren. He was closer to Moya than the battle ship by now. There was no turning back this time.
His module entered into the field of fighter ships surrounding Moya and Talyn. He passed by one of the ships and spotted the Scarran piloting within. John gave him a great big smile, a thumbs-up, and suddenly reared his module into the side of the fighter ship, shaking the inhabitant inside senseless. John laughed gleefully and headed forward. Judging from the expression of the Scarran pilot, John knew his gesture hadn’t been appreciated on the receiving end. Unfortunately, a few other surrounding ships did not have the same sense of humor either. They hovered in closely, almost blocking John’s advance entirely. The area between them was narrow. But John didn’t have to worry…he was an excellent pilot. John accelerated his module and shot through the enclosed ships, scratching the bottom of one above him and denting the side of another to the right. John laughed as he passed them by and felt relief as Moya came into full view. Talyn hovered close by but both ships were still. John felt an eerie and unsettling feeling begin to rise in the depth of his stomach. Were the rattlers returning?
John advanced forward, slowing slightly. Something wasn’t right. He just couldn’t put a finger on it…suddenly, several Scarran fighter ships closed in around him, trapping him to a halt. The Scarran pilots didn’t bother to even look at John. They were just carrying out orders. The question was, whose orders? John attempted to push through the ships, but they only drew closer.
"What the frell? Come on!" John exclaimed as if he were stuck in LA rush hour traffic. He threw up an arm in disgust. So close to home yet so far away.
John took note at that thought. Where was his home, really? There, through the underbellies of the intruding ships in front of him, John could catch a glimpse of the Milky Way. The shimmering galaxy was more glorious than ever. And just to John’s immediate right, hovered elegant Moya. She was a faithful, loyal ship. She would never abandon him. So why should he abandon her? He just moved to the penthouse from the studio apartment. John gazed back to his galaxy. He was beginning to realize that home was rapidly slipping out of his grip.
With that in mind, John depressed a button on the control panel in front of him. Depressurization commenced from within an outer chamber on his module. John leaned over to the right, trying to see between the fighter ships. The object he was releasing was too small for any of the Scarrans to worry about. When he saw the small pod he had just emitted from the module shoot forward, he leaned back and let out a deep breath. A breath he had been holding from the day he had arrived in the Uncharted Territories. His eyes trailed the pod as it slowly darted away, headed between Talyn and Moya to its general destination, the Milky Way. Someday…John thought…someday.
His mind slipped into a level of consciousness he had been experiencing for some time now. He searched his newfound surroundings. He was back on Earth. Back to the old swing set and the heavily wooded scenery. John wrinkled his brow. Shards of debris littered the lawn around him, and he could see billows of black smoke rising up from downed crafts, littering the area. The Scarran ships had been demolished. By who or what, John could not fathom. He turned, alarmed for the people of this place. The heavy gray clouds above began to part, spilling sunshine onto the townhouses stretching out before him. John wanted to smile, but he knew this had to be a trick. In real life, John, Moya, and the crew hadn’t done much damage yet, and their futures were still bleak. So why was he here, experiencing the happy ending that could never be?
John stepped forward, to look for the people he had witnessed running and screaming away earlier. His foot landed in a small muddy puddle. John glanced down and reared his foot back quickly. Harvey’s angry face sneered up at him from the puddle’s stilled surface. John backed away and shook his head.
"No, I beat you!" John yelled. Harvey materialized before him. John began to feel fear this time. He had always been able to harness it until now.
Harvey took a few steps closer to John, still snarling and not uttering a single word. This alone made John nervous. He backed closer to the swing set, unsure of what to do next.
John looked at Harvey. No, he hadn’t said anything. Then whose voice had he just heard calling his name? Stark? No…but it could be…it was…Zhaan!
Listen to me.
Harvey drew closer, his fists clenched and his lips tightened into a thin line. John was beginning to get tired of all this dren. He stood tall. I’m listening. Whatchya got?
You have the power to send back terrible emotion or experiences. You can reflect the pain.
John paused. Did he really have it in him to give Harvey a little taste of his own medicine? John tilted his head, studied Harvey’s face a micron, and smiled mischievously. He knew exactly what to do.
John lowered his eyes, glaring at Harvey with a sly smile. Harvey stopped his advancement both curious and cautious. What was the human up to now?
"If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em." Harvey stated, pulling the phrase from John’s mind. Before he could utter another word, however, he was struck with a powerful wave of images. A cold black void of swirling little galaxies taunted Harvey to try and catch them. Harvey snatched at them, sneering and growling in frustration. A sudden tear of blue light flashed in the center of this vision, forming into a perfect wormhole. Harvey grew quiet, like a little child staring at some new wonder. He brought his extended finger up and tapped the mouth of the wormhole, causing the phenomenon to wobble slightly. Harvey smiled, even chuckled.
John wasn’t finished yet. He stole a step towards his nemesis. His smile grew even larger.
An angry surge of pain swelled within Harvey, consuming his soul. The numerous little galaxies merged together to become the one galaxy Harvey knew had significance. The m… The name was just at the tip of his tongue. Not that it would matter. He knew the human and this galaxy were connected. The fact that he may never know how burned his soul. Another sudden emotion began to fill Harvey’s existence. Obsession. He had to know the secrets of both wormholes and this galaxy.
John raised his chin, satisfied. Harvey stood still before him, with a look of stupidity on his face. John could easily imagine what kind of torture was racing through his mind at that very micron. Harvey was of no threat any more. He was too consumed with the gold dangling before his eyes. John turned to look back at the lonely swing set, waiting for his mind to return to the present.
Someone had called his name. The voice was far away and small, but he had heard it. He searched his surroundings; positive the voice had come from this imaginary world. Zhaan?
The voice was definitely familiar. John turned back around. Harvey had disappeared and so had the litter of debris and mangled Scarran fighter ships. The row of white townhouses before him looked dauntingly familiar. John took a few steps forward, his heart beginning to beat faster.
"John, time for lunch!"
John’s heart leaped for joy. It was his mother’s sweet angelic voice. He had not heard her in so long, he had nearly forgotten how she sounded. John remembered the flashback he had experienced earlier of his younger self and DK, playing in the mud in his backyard. He and Harvey had been talking when she was calling to John. And before he could see her face…
John was now up to the very backyard of his childhood home. His mother was so close he could swear he smelled her sweet perfume in the air. Happiness filled his soul, refreshing him from all the hurt and anger he had been living with. Leslie turned the corner around the house, her blonde long hair whipping about her face in the wind. He didn’t see her face at first, only her soothing blue eyes. John smiled brighter than he had ever smiled before. Her hair swept away from her face and John could see every feature. God, she’s more beautiful than I had ever imagined…
Like the snap of two fingers, John was instantly transported back to the present. The fighter ships surrounding him had drifted slightly away and were reacting to blasts being directed towards them. John and his module shook in the shockwaves. John tried to see what was going on but failed. Had the battle ship finally exploded? John wondered.
A fighter ship in front of him was instantly obliterated, sending fragments of sharp metal in every direction. John forced all pressure on his accelerator, trying to escape the debris. A large shard jammed into the side of his module, threatening to depressurize the interior. John came clear of the wavering fighter ships to see Talyn fully operational and clearly defending both himself and his mother. John let out a whoop and drove a fist into the air.
Everyone was frozen in place. Chiana, D’Argo, Stark, Rygel, and Pilot all took immediate notice of Scorpius. He was indeed alive and well. Jool, on the other hand could care less who these enemies were. She struggled with her pulse rifle, attempting to fire.
Hissing and growling, Ka’ru began to walk forward, his sights set on D’Argo, who was blocking his advancement. Scorpius stayed back. He took no time to ponder on how the Scarran had realized his lie as to the location of the crew. He had to take control of the situation immediately. The Nebari girl was close, her weapon trained on him but her eyes nervously twitching between D’Argo, the advancing Scarran, and him. Scorpius tuned in to the officers on board the Scarran battle ship.
You must attack now! Do not follow Ka’ru’s command. He acts on his mivonks not his brain. If you want a superior being to lead you, listen to me! I will lead you into…
Chiana broke Scorpius’ concentration. She had come to stand before him, smiling slyly and lowering her weapon. What did she think she could do, charm her way out of the situation? Scorpius let out a laugh.
Ka’ru approached D’Argo and came to a full stop. The two were nearly the same height, though D’Argo felt quite intimidated just the same. The glaring black eyes of this hideous being seemed to reach into the depths of his soul.
Stark fearfully grasped Pilot’s arm, praying to Zhaan that their journey into the afterlife would be quick and painless. Jool was shaking with such intensity that the pulse rifle in her hands began to wobble. Rygel ducked further behind Pilot’s arm and glared at her.
"Yotz! You frelling tralk! Be careful or you’ll kill us all!" Rygel stated in a muffled voice. They heard a shout and turned their attention back to the fight.
Ka’ru raised his arm, ready to interrogate D’Argo. D’Argo stood his ground, his Qualta Blade resting firmly in his grip. A searing heat wave began to flow from Ka’ru’s hand, straight into D’Argo’s face. D’Argo began to cry out in pain, his knees lowering towards the ground. Chiana leapt forward, poised to strike the back of Ka’ru when Scorpius snatched her arm and held it behind her back. He drew her close and restrained her, allowing the Scarran to continue his interrogation.
"Where is John Crichton?" Ka’ru demanded to know in a deep slithering voice. D’Argo opened his mouth and attempted to speak.
"Fr…frell you…." He managed to say. Ka’ru increased the heat, causing D’Argo to fall to his knees.
"NO!" Stark and Chiana yelled in unison. Stark tore of his mask, instantly illuminating the den with golden rays of light. Ka’ru brought his arms up to shield his face from the blinding light. D’Argo fell to the floor. Scorpius released Chiana, sending her to the floor as he stumbled back, trying to shield his eyes as well. Stark hopped over the console and calmly walked towards the two enemies.
Ka’ru stumbled backwards with Scorpius. He began to growl loudly in frustration. His patience had run out. John Crichton was obviously not aboard. Scorpius was to pay for this.
Stark continued his advance towards Scorpius and Ka’ru, unaware of his crewmates on the floor beside him. D’Argo and Chiana supported each other as they stood, staring on in satisfaction. The blinding light did not affect Scorpius and Ka’ru for very long, unfortunately. Chiana’s smile began to fade. Ka’ru charged forward, with Scorpius two steps behind. D’Argo stepped in front of Stark, who rushed to replace his mask. D’Argo then swung his Qualta Blade at Ka’ru. Ka’ru caught the blade in midair, thrusting it back towards D’Argo. Stark rushed out of harm’s way. With a mighty cry, Chiana leapt onto Scorpius’ back, clawing at his face and beating on his chest.
Seeing their fellow shipmates attack motivated both Jool and Rygel. Rygel zoomed his throne sled over the walkway of the den. He spotted Chiana wrapped onto Scorpius’ back as the half-breed swirled around, attempting to rid of her. D’Argo was busy fighting with Ka’ru. Rygel picked the easier option and rammed his throne sled straight into Scorpius’ chest. Scorpius shouted in anger and pain, bashing a hand into Rygel, sending him flying off his throne sled.
D’Argo slashed at Ka’ru, missing his right shoulder by a mere dench. Ka’ru sneered and batted his hand out at D’Argo. Ducking, D’Argo avoided Ka’ru’s attack and rammed his own fist into the Scarran’s thick-skinned torso. Ka’ru hollered and grabbed onto D’Argo. D’Argo wrapped his arms around Ka’ru at the same time. They reared back and forth, trying to break free from the other’s strong grip.
Jool stood back by Pilot, who was struggling to wake up. Jool held up the pulse rifle in her arms, glancing from Ka’ru to Scorpius, unable to get a clear shot. Pilot sluggishly moved his head to see Jool standing beside him. He heard the shuffling going on down the walkway and diverted his attention. His droopy eyes widened as he saw his friends fighting with Scorpius and a Scarran.
"What’s going on?" Pilot asked, his voice rising in concern. Jool hushed him to be quiet and lowered herself down slightly. She kept her eyes trained on the fight.
"Everything’s gone to Hezmana, that’s what." Jool hissed. "Now be quiet! I’m trying to get a clear shot!"
"What does my talking have to do with…." Pilot began but was shushed by Jool. She glared at him momentarily and then trained her eyes back on the crisis before them.
Stark’s energies were being exhausted. He had tried to take his mask off once more to blind their enemies but the light was dim. He shifted his weight, looking from D’Argo and Ka’ru to Scorpius, Chiana, and Rygel. Rygel had locked on to Scorpius’ left leg, gnawing on his suit. Chiana had begun to choke Scorpius, her arm wrapped tightly around his neck. D’Argo’s Qualta Blade suddenly flew past Stark, missing him by several denches. It clanged to the floor in the distance. Stark glanced over to see D’Argo get struck in the head by the Scarran. The large Luxan fell to the floor, unconscious. Stark madly charged towards Ka’ru, his arms stretched out to choke him. Ka’ru simply swept an arm out and struck Stark, sending him to the ground as well.
Scorpius began to have similar luck. He whipped Rygel off of his leg. Chiana began to lose her grip, sliding off of Scorpius and landing on her butt. Scorpius stretched his neck sorely, gave Chiana a sideways glance, and proceeded to approach Ka’ru. He was going to end this once and for all.
Ka’ru had other plans. The Scarran turned towards Pilot and Jool, laughing. Scorpius stopped in his tracks. He knew the Scarran would not stop until John Crichton was physically standing before him. And that was simply not an option Scorpius could afford to play out.
Jool saw her shipmates be thrown to the side in defeat. She saw the Scarran turn towards her and Pilot, grinning in victory. Scorpius had also turned, but his attention was focused on the Scarran, and not her. Jool pointed the pulse rifle at them and depressed the trigger. The blast struck the Scarran but to no avail. Dren. How could she have forgotten? Scarrans were immune to the effects of a pulse rifle. Jool then pointed the weapon to Scorpius. Scorpius shook his head and raised a finger.
"Ka’ru does not appreciate the intelligence we both are gifted with, my dear. He may be strong and brute, but you can kill him another way." Scorpius urged, ignoring the glare he received from Ka’ru. Jool didn’t bother listening to Scorpius, however. She dropped the pulse rifle and opened her mouth. Pilot already knew what was about to happen and winced. A loud, metal melting screech began to flow from Jool’s throat. Ka’ru instantly brought his hands up to his ears, bending over in pain. Scorpius followed suit, gritting his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut.
Jool was about to quiet down when she realized what her screaming was doing. Her eyes twinkled and she stepped forward, screaming even louder. D’Argo awoke to cover his ears as Stark, Chiana, and Rygel came to his side, pulling the injured Luxan out of the den to safety. Ka’ru and Scorpius began to retreat as well. Just before they exited, however, Pilot nudged Jool to stop her screaming. Ka’ru and Scorpius relaxed, standing straight to glare at her.
"John’s module is underneath the Scarran battle ship. He’s prepared to fire." Pilot toyed with the truth. Ka’ru let out a deep, angry breath and turned to Scorpius. Scorpius looked to him, knowing it was useless to deceive the Scarran now. Soon, Ka’ru would discover his undermining plan to overtake his command of the battle ship and it’s unique technology.
"Wasn’t he supposed to be back by now?" Jool asked out the side of her mouth. Pilot looked to her and nodded. He was both worried and satisfied. The two menaces before them believed that what had already happened was indeed happening now. Unfortunately for Pilot and the others, John hadn’t come back from this venture as of yet.
"What is the human doing? Do you have anything to do with this, Scorpius?" Ka’ru roared, turning to the half-breed in question. Scorpius smiled. No, he didn’t. But he couldn’t be more proud of the human’s actions, even if it meant the destruction of unique technology. Now he only had to hope the officers on the ship would be prepared to take Ka’ru down once they arrived back on the battle ship.
"No. Though I do wish I had thought of it." Scorpius smiled. Ka’ru turned back to Pilot and Jool.
"I hate to inform you that Moya has decided to flush out her atmosphere of unwanted bacterium. If you wish to remain living, I deeply encourage you to retreat to your pod and exit the ship at once. Depressurization will commence in one hundred microts." Pilot informed them. Jool stared at Pilot, her mouth gaping open in shock.
"What about the aliens inhabiting your ship?" Ka’ru challenged.
"They will have to find refuge as well. I cannot stop the Leviathan. She has already begun the stages to depressurization." Pilot informed them. Ka’ru gave him a lasting glare before turning and charging out of the den. Scorpius searched Pilot and Jool’s faces, trying to read between the lines. Unsatisfied, he turned and raced to catch up with the Scarran. John was out there in space. There was a chance they could still capture him. Only then would he know the secrets of this mysterious galaxy they had encountered.
Chiana cradled D’Argo in her arms with Rygel struggling to climb back onto his throne sled behind her. Stark stood near D’Argo, checking the oozing wound on his forehead. They watched as Ka’ru and Scorpius charged by, ignoring their presence. The group glanced at one another with worry. They hoped John would not be sighted once the Ka’ru and Scorpius left Moya.
"Pilot, how much longer to depressurization? I don’t know if we can move D’Argo." Stark asked into his comms with doom creeping into his voice. A loud hissing noise commenced throughout the ship, as air began to be sucked out of the interiors.
Jool stepped out of Pilot’s den and found Stark and the others down a hallway to the right. She knelt down to observe D’Argo’s injury and ushered Stark out of the way.
"I can help." She stated simply. Stark stood and awaited Pilot’s answer.
"There will be no depressurization. The first stages will go into effect, fooling the Scarran and Scorpius. They’re already in the docking bay." Pilot chuckled over the comms.
Moya began to shake at that moment. The crew swayed back and forth, glancing around curiously.
"Now what?" Chiana asked in bewilderment.
"It’s Talyn! He’s firing upon the fighter ships!" Pilot responded excitedly. Stark looked to the others. They were all thinking the same thing. John was trapped in the midst of the chaos. Hopefully, with Aeryn to aid Crais on Talyn, the gunship could help save them all.
Aeryn stood tall in the center of Command. She smiled with satisfaction as Talyn fired upon a small group of fighter ships surrounding John’s module. A ship was instantly obliterated. Just as she predicted, John’s module began to race out of the entrapment it had been place within. Crais moaned, still seated upright against the communications console. He flickered his eyes and opened them fully. He focused on Aeryn.
Aeryn looked down at him and smiled. She held out an arm, offering to lift him up. Crais grasped it and stood up, wavering slightly in her grip. He studied her dark eyes for a moment. Talyn shook in a shockwave from the ship he had fired upon. Crais turned to look out the view screen and instantly noticed a pod moving rapidly away from Moya. He stepped forward with Aeryn, who noticed it as well.
"They’re leaving. You don’ think they…" Aeryn began to say, fearing the worst for her shipmates. Crais shook his head and stood away from Aeryn to look fully out the view screen. Talyn bleeped happily, welcoming Crais back to full consciousness.
"John was not aboard. We should be lucky they have not spotted him." Crais reassured her.
"So far." Aeryn added. Crais gave her a lasting look and turned to address his ship.
"Talyn you have a responsibility and you must use all your energy and power to help your mother. I know you can do this." Crais stated, stepping forward, relishing in the moment of power. He glared at the battle ship looming off to the far right.
"The fighter ships are retreating." Aeryn stated. True to her words, the fighter ships began to speed away, back towards the battle ship. Either they had had enough of Talyn, or somebody had ordered them back.
"Crais!" John’s voice called over the comms. Aeryn’s heart beat faster. John was all right. Aeryn longed to be with him once more. Crais was a tempting offer, as well as the fact she could stay on Talyn. But in her mind, in her heart, she knew what was best.
"Fire on that mother frelling dren of a Scarran battle ship NOW!" John ordered, as he flew his module straight for the docking area of Moya.
John’s transmission was intercepted. The comms on Talyn, Moya, and his module all echoed with the snaring voice of Ka’ru.
"Human. Surrender to me. I will not allow Scorpius near you if you do so." Ka’ru bargained. John tilted his head, pondering the origin of this new creature’s voice. He knew it was a Scarran.
Aeryn glanced at Crais with fear in her eyes. She observed a similar twinge of fear in his. Aeryn thought of Pilot, Moya, and the rest of her shipmates. She could only imagine the doom they felt. The feeling was mutual. John had been more than willing to surrender himself to save the crew on more than one occasion. Would he do so now?
The crew on Moya was shocked and still, listening to Ka’ru as they settled in the Apothecary where Jool tended to D’Argo’s injury. Pilot glanced up, awaiting the response he feared would be next. The silence on the open comms remained so for a microt longer. Was the human actually considering this? The thought ran through everyone’s minds.
Ka’ru stood in the pod, facing the small view screen before him. His pod hovered beside his battle ship, awaiting the final convoy of fighter ships to pass him by and enter back to safety. Scorpius stood behind him, watching in disgust for the being before him. Rare impatience began to flow within. The mutiny he had so delicately planned and staged for Ka’ru’s officers still had not taken into effect.
John sat in his module, staring at the teasing Milky Way before him and the two faithful ships to his left and right. He took little surprise in the notion that Scorpius was still alive…if indeed the Scarran was telling the truth. It had all come down to this. The field of mysterious black holes in the beginning of this whole mess, all the flashbacks, the spontaneous wormhole, the unstoppable radio waves from Earth, the dauntingly plausible ring beneath the Scarran battle ship. He connected them all to establish what he needed to do.
"Aeryn, are you ready?" John asked over the open comms.
"Yes, John, we are." Aeryn responded, smiling gracefully as she intuitively understood what John was about to do. Crais only glanced at her, pondering their plan.
"Do not listen to Ka’ru, John. Listen to me. Do not fire on the battle ship!" Scorpius hissed over the comms. The officers on board had indeed started a mutiny against Ka’ru; Scorpius could feel it. They were already marching to the bay where Ka’ru would land his pod. They were fully armed and prepared to accept Scorpius as their new leader.
"I’ve had a lot of time to think about all this. I know what I need to do." John stated and boosted his module into the docking bay of Moya. "I will not surrender to you Ka’ru, or to you Scorpius. I speak for the people of Earth when I say get the frell away from my galaxy!"
At that moment, Talyn released a fiery mass of energy from his frag canon. Ka’ru and Scorpius yelled in anger and defeat. The energy blasted into the already faltering battle ship, instantly setting it ablaze in a massive explosion. John landed his module in the docking bay and held on as both Talyn and Moya shook fiercely from the shockwaves.
Joyful shouting could be heard over the comms from both Aeryn and Crais and on the rest of the crew on Moya. The battle ship continued to explode. John hopped out of his module and raced to Command so he could witness the event. Aeryn and Crais stood side by side on Talyn, relishing in their moment of victory.
As John entered into Command, he slid across the floor, ending up in the center.
"Gotta love fireworks." John muttered. He clenched his muscles in satisfaction momentarily as another explosion set off before him. A blinding flash ripped throughout the destruction, causing John to shield his eyes. A rippling effect began to shake Moya and Talyn, frightening both ships. John lowered his hand and stepped forward in both awe and a sickening doom. Another wormhole had formed before them, more massive than one he had ever witnessed. It had already swallowed the burning ship, Scorpius, Ka’ru, fighter ships and all. Talyn and Moya both began to struggle in the increasing pull of the wormhole.
"We’re being pulled in! There’s nothing we can do!" Pilot exclaimed in fear over the comms. John shook his head.
"No…no…no…NO! Pilot, stop her. Do something. Talyn, Crais, you’ve gotta help pull us back, please!" John begged. John looked to the Milky Way, fast fading from view. He feared this would be the last time he would ever see it. And the last chance he would ever know to be this close to home.
Moya and Talyn drew closer to the wormhole with little success of pulling away. The wormhole was strong and brilliant. There was little hope for them now.
"John, you have to let it go." Aeryn stated over the comms. John shook his head.
"No. I can try. I can try to get away. My module is small. I can beat it." John stated with determination. He headed out of Command towards his module, in a mad dash for his dream to come true. He only wished Aeryn could be with him.
"John, listen to yourself. It’s not possible. It wasn’t meant to be." Crais urged John.
"Quiet, Crais! You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you were this close to the one thing that you’ve been searching for…." John shouted, reaching the docking bay. He came to a full stop, nearly bumping into Chiana, Rygel, and Stark. They stood before him, blocking his way to his module. John stared at them sternly shaking his head.
"Don’t do this, guys. I have to…I need to go." John warned them. Sadness was already choking him but he wouldn’t allow himself to admit defeat. Stark stepped forward solemnly.
"No. There is no home left for you to return to. You are one of us now." Stark stated. John glared into his face, their noses dench to dench. Chiana stepped forward and grabbed John’s arm. He almost wanted to brush her off. He respected Chiana and knew he was breaking her heart. He could see the tears already streaming down her face. Moya shook even more violently now, pulling faster towards the stable wormhole before them. Talyn was inching further away from her, closer to the mouth of the wormhole.
"Don’t go." Chiana said. She stared at him longingly and John felt his heart crush. Rygel moved forward and inched his fingers into John’s right hand, giving him comfort. Stark stepped back from John and out of his way. John stared at his module and time seemed to cease. His heart was heavier with sorrow than he had ever known. Chiana wrapped her arms around his shoulders to hug him and Stark lowered his head in prayer, hoping to reach Zhaan. John only stared on and waited for the inevitable.
Talyn entered into the wormhole, disappearing from view. A massive tug shook Moya as she came to the mouth of the wormhole. John let out a breath in the eerie silence. His eyes sparkled in tears of pain.
"Goodbye Dad." John whispered.
Moya then entered into the wormhole, unable to control her destiny any longer.
The tumbling blue rings of energy surrounding the ships traveling within began to tear apart rapidly. Black space littered with twinkling stars and nebulas appeared through the tear. The wormhole struggled to its last breath. It instantly collapsed, sending all travelers within to entirely new destinations…unknown.
The few smoldering remnants of what once was the Scarran battle ship rested as a silhouette to a large greenish tinted Nebula. The few fighter ships that had survived the wormhole experience rested nearby, stunned. A small pod hovered among the litter of space debris, its inhabitants within stunned as well.
"Your ship. It created that wormhole…I demand to know how." Scorpius growled, standing before the steaming Ka’ru. Ka’ru glared at Scorpius, his temper mounting. Not only had his ship and its unique technology been destroyed…but also John Crichton had slipped through his fingers.
"You took over the minds of my crew. I demand you give me the answers!" Ka’ru snared back. Scorpius hissed. He had met a worthy component just as clever as John Crichton.
"Get me back to my new Gammak Base and you’ll see how I take over the minds of others!" Scorpius stated, clenching his fists at his sides. Ka’ru charged up to Scorpius and stared down at him, his hot breath nearly smothering the half-breed.
"Ah, your precious research at this Gammak Base…I’m sure I’ll have plenty of uses for it once I kill you and all those loyal to you." Ka’ru bit back. Scorpius clenched his teeth.
"And how do you propose that we get back there from here? You don’t even know where here is." Scorpius said.
"I know exactly where we are." Ka’ru responded, without so much as a glance out the view screen before them. Scorpius tilted his head in wonder at his newfound enemy and tightened his lips. It was going to take a lot more than mind control and torture tactics to kill this bastardly soul.
Moya and Talyn traveled slowly through their new surroundings relieved that the wormhole that had thrust them out had not ended their existences. The space around them was bare. A few systems were within traveling distance but all were dead and silent. Nothing but a cold blanket of stars and blackness decorated the canvas around them.
The interior of Talyn was just as cold. Aeryn stared at Crais, her eyes black and narrow. Crais stared back, his eyes curious but cautious. Aeryn had just viewed the chip, almost immediately after they had encountered their new surroundings. Talyn bleeped several times.
"Yes, we are all right, Talyn. However, we do not know our exact location. We could be anywhere." Crais stated in a dull voice. He continued to stare at Aeryn, who was standing only an arm’s length away from him, facing him.
"The contents of the chip…" Crais began but Aeryn cut him off bitterly.
"Will remain between you and I. There will be no further discussion." Aeryn replied.
"Aeryn, I am deeply sorry if I offended you earlier." Crais apologized. Aeryn flickered her eyes.
"You should be. I will not tolerate any more of that dren. I have made a decision and that involves staying with Moya and her inhabitants. I care for Talyn like a child. I may not be able to be there for him at all times nor even see him often…but remember this, Crais." Aeryn stated, and stepped up to him. She glared deep into his soul, yet her advance did not intimidate him. "I do not want a future with you and I will remain with John, Moya, and everybody else until we meet our deaths. I only respect you as a fellow Sebacean and ex-PeaceKeeper. I respect what you do for Talyn. But if you do anything, anything at all to harm him…I will hunt you down and kill you."
Crais smiled and nodded. Aeryn stepped away.
"Point well received, Aeryn. It has been a pleasure to fight along side you and your fellow shipmates. I will take heart to what you have said and respect it fully. Please, commemorate John for me in his honorable actions towards the Scarrans and his home. I do not know any legendary being of any race who has been more sacrificing and brave than he." Crais stated. He looked around at Talyn and then to Aeryn. He studied her face, her stern expression now softened. Talyn bleeped, lighting up to accent his communication to Crais and Aeryn. Aeryn smiled, a tear traveling down her cheek and looked about Talyn.
"Yes, I love you to, Talyn. Thank you." Aeryn looked to Crais and forced her smile to remain a moment longer. "And thank you."
With that, Aeryn turned and left Talyn and Crais to be with Moya and her fellow shipmates.
Moya was once again bright and fully operational. Pilot was busily communicating with her to try and establish where Moya and Talyn presently resided. D’Argo, with his wound cared for by Jool earlier, traveled into Pilot’s Den, with Chiana hooked onto his right arm. They strolled up to Pilot and took a seat by his console.
"Moya and I would like to know if you’re all right, D’Argo." Pilot asked sweetly.
"Yes, Pilot, I’m fine." D’Argo smiled, appreciating their concern.
"What exactly happened back there, Pilot?" Chiana asked in a small voice. She leaned onto D’Argo, resting her head on his supportive shoulder.
"Moya thinks that when the wormhole tore apart, the first ships that traveled through were sent in one direction, and we, being last to enter the wormhole, were sent in another." Pilot explained.
"We should be lucky that Aeryn, Talyn, and Crais did not get separated from us." D’Argo pointed out softly. Both Chiana and Pilot nodded their heads in agreement.
"We’re no longer in any kind of territory we know, right Pilot?" Chiana pondered after a brief moment of silence. She looked up to gain eye contact with Pilot.
"Unfortunately, yes." Pilot replied sadly. Chiana looked from Pilot to D’Argo and back.
"There’s no way we can trace our way back to John’s home, is there?" Chiana asked, knowing the answer already. D’Argo and Pilot remained silent, not needing to give her the answer.
"Did you speak with him since we arrived here?" D’Argo asked Chiana. Chiana shook her head.
"He’s devastated. I tried to remind him of something he once told me. He had said, ‘It’s a Hezmana of a lot more than you had yesterday.’" Chiana tried to giggle at that but couldn’t bring herself to. She continued on. "He saw his home, you know? Maybe that pod he released will reach his planet someday."
D’Argo smiled at the sweet sincerity of Chiana. He had always loved that about her. He drew her close for a hug, receiving the same pressure back.
"I somehow don’t think that will be enough." Pilot responded. The three looked on in silence, feeling sorrow for John and his misfortunes. Hopefully, their human companion would find solace in knowing that his home was still out there, waiting for him.
Stark spoke softly, standing in the center of Zhaan’s quarters, where he had established his own belongings. He was chanting to her, reaching his soul out to her. An arn had passed and Zhaan had still not appeared to him. He was beginning to wonder if he had lost touch with her forever.
A buzzing tingle swept through his body. Stark opened his eye and turned slowly. The sight before him caused his heart to leap for joy and he smiled warmly. Zhaan’s glorious aura appeared before him, smiling graciously. Stark stepped up to her.
"Zhaan, my sweet. I do not think we could have survived any of our recent troubles without you." Stark thanked her. Zhaan smiled, holding her palms up to Stark’s face. She placed her palms on either side of his face and pulled him close for a long, gentle kiss. She then let him go and tilted her head.
"You are so much stronger, my love. How did you become so sweet and serene?" Zhaan pondered.
"I drew my strength from you, Zhaan." Stark smiled sweetly. A sorrowful look shrouded his face momentarily. Zhaan noticed and tilted her head curiously.
"John will heal. He needs time. He has a wonderful, supportive family around him. I do not believe he will struggle long." Zhaan comforted Stark’s worries.
"I hope so. Zhaan, I must thank you for your gracious gift to all of us. Had we not seen you in the first wormhole we traveled through, I do not think we would have survived everything we did. The others drew from your message of strength and trust."
Zhaan let out a happy laugh and gazed lovingly at Stark.
"I do wish we could be together once again Stark. I am at peace knowing I can leave you as a guide to the others in times of need. I will never forget you my love. Goodbye." Zhaan smiled and dissipated. Stark smiled back, holding out a hand as if to touch her. He then recommenced chanting, in hopes of drawing Zhaan’s love to ease the crews’ sorrows.
Rygel sat at the table in the Galley with Jool seated across from him, drinking from a flask and staring into nothingness. Rygel picked up a food cube from the plate before him and dropped it into his mouth. It had been sometime since the Hynerian had gotten anything to satisfy his three rumbling stomachs. In disgust, Rygel coughed and reached up to his mouth to pull an extremely long, orange curly hair from his mouth.
"Frell, tralk! I demand that you stay away from our food preparation area! At least Chiana doesn’t shed like you!" Rygel exclaimed in disgust. He allowed the hair to fall to the floor beside him and scooped up another food cube to eat. Jool directed her gaze onto Rygel and glared at him. She remained silent and took a drink from her flask.
"Are you going to drink Raslac all night?" Rygel asked. "You better be rationing the supply. Who the frell knows when we’ll find another commerce planet."
"Shut up!" Jool exclaimed, slamming her flask down on the table and staring at Rygel with her big green eyes. Rygel reared back and instantly complied. Jool relaxed and leaned back, resting her hand on the table before her flask. She stared on for a few moments longer, listening to the disgusting sounds Rygel made as he chewed and digested. She began to tap her fingers in a repetitive fashion. Rygel threw down a food cube.
"Yotz! Would you please stop that?!" Rygel demanded. To spite him, Jool tapped all five fingers once more before stopping. She then flicked her hair back.
"Have you seen other galaxies like John’s before?" Jool asked. Rygel stopped eating to think about this for a moment.
"No." He replied uninterested and continued to eat.
"Hmm." Jool muttered. She remained silent for another microt. "Do you suppose there are similar galaxies like his?" Rygel dropped a food cube onto his plate with irritation.
"Stop bothering me!" Rygel demanded. Jool leaned forward.
"I’m only asking because I found John’s galaxy unsettlingly familiar and since his species and my species are somehow related, I was curious to know why that was." Jool stated impatiently. Rygel raised his head and gazed at Jool. The two then remained silent, pondering the possible answers to her question.
Aeryn found John in his quarters, staring at the earlier recordings of his home on the data banks. His back was facing her, and he sat slumped before the stilled image of the Milky Way before him. Aeryn swallowed hard and approached John, unsure if he would be receptive to her presence or not.
She took a seat to his right and faced him. He rested his chin on his arms, one of his thumbs reaching up to gently wisp his luscious red lips. His eyes were glimmering with fresh tears. Aeryn felt her heart tear at the devastation written in his eyes. She felt her own eyes stinging with tears and leaned forward, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. When John did not resist her touch, she leaned in close and pulled him into a hug. John held onto her tightly, not allowing his pain to completely engulf him just yet. He remained silent, rocking back and forth with her for several microts. Aeryn pulled away, kissing John hard on the lips. She stared deep into his eyes, seeing the love she felt was mutual.
"Aeryn…I…." John began but stopped. He looked to the frozen image of his home and kept his gaze trained on it. His heart and hopes were shattered. Time was the only solace he could take in knowing that someday he would return.
"It’s okay." Aeryn reassured him. She stood up, running her hand around his shoulder. He looked up to her and she leaned in, for another more intimate kiss. They remained locked together for a long time and Aeryn finally pulled away, knowing that John should be alone. He watched her leave, his eyes never leaving hers. Aeryn reached the doorway and D’Argo appeared in front of her. She smiled at him, receiving the same look back and left. John watched D’Argo approach him and then turned to look back at his galaxy. D’Argo sat down and placed a hand on the table beside them.
"You’ll make it through this." D’Argo asked softly.
"Thanks, D’Argo. I’ve been telling myself those exact words." John nodded and paused. He then let out a small laugh. "It’s been a fahrbot day hasn’t it? Black holes, wormholes, Scarrans, Scorpius, Harvey…"
D’Argo tilted his head in question as John stopped himself. John glanced at him nervously and continued on.
"I’ve learned a lot about myself today, D’Argo. And there’s one thing that’s been consistent." John said.
"What’s that?" D’Argo asked curiously.
"I never give up." John answered. He smiled at D’Argo, his eyes shining bright. D’Argo knew he could take relief in John’s words and left the human with them in mind. John was alone once more, staring into the glorious image recording of his home. He barely noticed the DRD that had taken guard by his feet, almost snuggling up against him like a cat. John became lost to his traveling thoughts once again.
The crowded street of downtown Orlando was booming with celebrative laughs and screams. Flickering red, white, and blue specks of confetti sprinkled through the air. The mass of excited bystanders on the sidewalks waved tiny American Flags proudly into the air. The sweet notes of trumpets, flutes, saxophones, and drums floated through the humid air, pompously playing the "Star Spangled Banner".
John waved high into the air, beaming and patting his father on the back. They sat on the back of his old favorite red 1962 Ford Thunderbird, waving at the mass of people around them. DK sat on the other side of Jack, smiling and giggling uncontrollably. After all, their dream had come true. Farscape One had been a success. WAIT A MINUTE!
John looked over at his proud father and giddy friend. He then glanced at the screaming crowds, the numerous cameras of the news media, and the sunny skies above. He could see far off in the distance ahead that his module had been placed upon a flatbed trailer for display in the parade. It was pretty banged up and streaked with burn marks, from what John could see. He turned back to his father and friend, his face set in awe and question.
"A parade for me." John said, as if stating it would make it any more real. Jack patted John on the back, waving to the crowd. DK clapped his hands and titled his head at John, smiling at him. He held an arm out towards John.
"Hey! Who’s the biggest, baddest of them all now, ha?" DK exclaimed excitedly. John began to laugh, enjoying this latest mind melding experience. It was a great release from the distress he was currently enduring.
John took in the sights and smells around him, relishing in the moment. But something deep down inside told him there was something…or someone missing. He could sense that void that filled one’s existence like a slump after a huge life-fulfilling event. Without too much thought, John realized what it was. His life on Moya with his fellow shipmates.
John felt himself shrink and suddenly found himself holding his mother’s hand and sucking his thumb with the other hand. His sisters were huddled behind them, hollering in excitement. The screaming crowds around John were the same, though a few decades older than him dressed in the current style of the times. A dark figure within the crowd remained unnoticed, and to be forever forgotten in the past, present, and future. The flickering confetti was the same. The waving American Flags were the same. Even the sweet, unforgettable tune of the "Star Spangled Banner" played on. John glanced up at his mother, who smiled down at him lovingly. She was so beautiful. John smiled and looked to the cars rolling past them in the street. His father was on one, with two other of his fellow astronauts. They had just come back from a trip to the moon. John had been in awe. His father was superman.
The car rolled past him and his mother and came to a halt. John saw his father hop out of the car and run up to him, his face illuminated with a smile. Jack hugged his beaming wife, then his two daughters. Finally, he knelt down and faced John, the pride and love in his eyes stronger than John could ever remember. Without a moments notice, Jack swung John up into the air. John giggled in delight and was then placed onto his father’s shoulders. Jack carried John back to the car and the car moved forward. John had realized then as he did now that he had seen his father as an idol. He had known even then that he could be just as great as his father. He could realize his dreams. He could be…. and had now become…a hero.
(Epilogue on next page...)
A small knock rapped on the front door. Grunting in frustration, Jack Crichton pushed aside his bowl of popcorn but clasped on to his can of beer. He raised the remote towards the blaring television before him and pressed mute. Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Hang on a minute!" Jack called out with a mouth full of popcorn. He shook his head. Always during a football game.
Jack kept his eyes on the television situated in his lonely little cottage near the coast of the Atlantic. He wasn’t about to sacrifice even a second of looking away. It was the playoffs after all. He walked backwards to the door, opening it without bothering to see who had interrupted his Sunday ritual.
"Jack." A familiar voice called to him. Jack turned to see DK. His face immediately brightened and he grasped the solemn man in a quick bear hug. DK widened his eyes momentarily as he was released and brought up a large manila envelope in his hands. Jack glanced at it briefly and slapped DK on the back, closing the door behind him.
"Come in, come in. We’re in the fourth quarter and it looks as though our boys may be going to the Super Bowl!" Jack exclaimed. He led DK over to the couch. He placed the bowl of popcorn onto the coffee table and leaned over the side of the couch to stretch for the small refrigerator. He took a beer out of it and handed it to DK, who accepted politely. Jack settled in his usual spot and smiled at DK, glad to see him once again.
"It’s been a long time." DK said quietly, placing his unopened beer on the coffee table.
"You should come by more often." Jack replied fatherly. DK gave him a smile, running his fingers along the manila envelope. Jack eyed the envelope once more and became serious.
"What’s going on?" Jack asked. DK looked down at the envelope, almost as if he had forgotten it was in his hands. He looked back to Jack with a very serious expression. Jack thought he saw a hint of excitement in his eyes, however.
"I was getting ready to go home from work…" DK began, lifting the envelope a little. "When my superior handed this to me."
Without any further explanation, DK handed the envelope to Jack and awaited his reaction. Jack eyed DK curiously, completely forgetting about his football game. He set his beer down. He carefully opened the envelope and proceeded to pull out the contents of the package. He remained silent, studying what he found within the envelope.
DK watched Jack flip through the numerous photographs he had received at IASA. They were direct from the Hubble Telescope. When he had first viewed them, and the many times after till his arrival at Jack’s residence, DK had felt an excited wave pass through him. His mind was reeling with possibilities and scenarios.
Jack’s mouth had slowly dropped open. He flipped through the photographs a second time and a third. He then paused at one in particular, bringing it closer to his face to study it. He grasped his reading glasses from the top of the fridge and refocused on the single photograph.
The image was somewhat blurry but unmistakable. Through the cloudy wisp of the Milky Way arm was a small section of space and one little craft. The small white craft had an American Flag and the words "Farscape One" printed on the side. It had a few alienable modifications to it as well, almost rendering it foreign. But Jack knew this craft as well as DK. It was indeed Farscape One.
His heart began to beat faster, as he was sure DK’s was already speeding. He looked at DK in awe. DK had a full smile plastered on his face by now.
Jack shook his head and flipped through the other photographs once more. He studied the others, noting within Hubble’s sight the unfamiliar ships in the very same space as his son’s module. He didn’t know what to make of them or the entire package for that matter. He looked back to DK in wonder.
"He’s alive." DK said almost giddy.
Jack swallowed hard and looked back to the photograph of the module once more. He cared not for when these pictures had been taken or how they had fallen into his hands. He felt the sorrows deep within finally melt away. All those sleepless nights satisfied. His son was alive. That was a hell of a lot more than he had yesterday.
THE END FOR REAL!