by unohoo, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: John Crichton is rescued from where we left him at the end of Season Three where he makes new friends, meets an old nemesis, and comes to terms with his situation.
Disclaimer: Not mine, don’t own them, no profit, keeping my day job.
Time Frame: Between S3 final and S4 Opener
Spoilers: Everything up to and including 3.22
Rated SSW (Strong Shipper Warning) [Otherwise, PG]
Acknowledgment: First and foremost, I want to thank Runnik, for not only Beta-reading my fics, but for also abiding with my ideas and putting up with my somewhat haphazard timetable. Second, I wish to thank a new resource, ScapeRoute (http://www.scaperoute.com/index.html), and in particular, Nerri1029, for helping me with the intricacies of hetch drive and for doing some of the research for me. To all you fic writers, and the merely curious, I highly recommend this resource of volunteer staff.
"Frell! What the hell happened?" John saw Moya disappear down a wormhole and he was hanging out in space, nothing around him, and very low on fuel. *I’m doomed.* he thought.
*"John, I might be able to help you.* Harvey made his presence known. *I want to live too and I may have a way…*
*What! Contact the Peacekeepers? After what we did to them? You’ve got to be kidding.* John almost laughed.
*Do we have a choice?* Harvey reasoned.
*No. Frell, what do I have to do?* John resigned himself.
John awakened in a strange room and all he could remember was his oxygen failing, and losing consciousness. He thought his carcass would be found, if anything were found at all. His last visage was of Harvey apologizing for not being able to really help. Well, Harvey had as much to lose as he did.
"Who are you?" John asked his rescuers. He didn’t want to sound ungrateful, but they definitely weren’t Peacekeeper, or any that he had encountered to date.
"Were you expecting your fellow Peacekeepers? Your ship, it isn’t Peacekeeper, is it?" A very tall, very brown, and extremely gorgeous woman responded. She looked Sebacean, but not Peacekeeper.
"No, I’m not Peacekeeper, I never was. And I’m sorry for being rude. I should thank you for saving me. How did you find me?" John kept staring at his savior.
"Hmm, that’s interesting. You were broadcasting on a Peacekeeper band. There are no Peacekeepers in the vicinity, so you should be happy I happened on you signal. Only the terminology you used, I am unfamiliar with it. What is May Day?" The woman kept her distance while trying to assess John.
John looked over at the man, standing in the shadows, observing his movement. John needed information. He felt all right, apparently they found him before there was any permanent damage and it didn’t seem as though he were a captive. "Uh, May Day means help. It’s an old sea term from where I hale. But where am I? And you say your not Peacekeepers, but who are you and how did you pick up my signal if it was on a Peacekeeper band?"
"We need to monitor all bands." The man spoke.
"Uh, where am I and who are you?"
"We will tell you later, first do us the courtesy of telling us who you are and how did you get here? Your ship doesn’t seem capable of inter-stellar flight.
"My name is Am’eelia and this is Zak." The woman finished.
"My name is John. I was on a bigger ship, a leviathan and about to dock when it got sucked down a force field. I don’t think it starburst." John decided not to mention anything about wormholes. He still didn’t know who they were and in spite of them rescuing him, and the fair treatment thus far, he still had rattlers, big humongous rattlers in the pit of his stomach.
"We’ve never seen a ship like yours. It is very small and quite primitive looking." Zak nodded toward a window where John could see his Farscape.
"Uh, yeah, it’s an experimental model. It wasn’t meant to be in inter-stellar space. There was an accident and I ended up here in a round about way." Again John didn’t directly answer the questions.
Am’eelia walked over to John and looked directly at him, "Why don’t stop for now. You must be hungry. Do you want to eat something?"
"Now that you mention it, I am hungry." John agreed. *Besides, the rattlers could be my stomach grumbling.* He thought.
"Zak is with John now. They are eating." Am’eelia was still having a difficult time facing Scorpius. She knew she had to get beyond the xenophobia the Peacekeepers instilled in her. Yet, she was a Peacekeeper for fifty cycles and a renegade for only two. And Scorpius’s reputation preceded him. He was supposed to be a hard taskmaster, not suffer fools, and had a low opinion of most others. How much of it was PK propaganda, and how much was truth?
"You would think I want revenge for John’s destruction of my command carrier. I don’t. I think I understand now. He doesn’t accept that I’m not the enemy. I need his knowledge. He has access to it, I know! I need him to give me access to it. In spite of my rejection, my going renegade, I still know the Scarrans must be stopped. I want you to help me." Scorpius was sitting calmly, belying his passionate words.
"But how? I am not technical? Neither is Zak."
"Give him something he wants. Something only you can provide." Scorpius saw Am’eelia looking at him askance; he picked up hostility in her energy signature. "Am’eelia, this will not be the first time you have used, ah, recreation for military or political gain."
Am’eelia stared at Scorpius, "That is one of the reasons I’m no longer Peacekeeper. I find your suggestion repugnant."
"Ah, I think you are more like John than you realize. Would you find befriending him repugnant?" Scorpius no longer commanded, they were more or less equals within the renegades. He would have to find other ways to reach his goals.
"Befriending him would not be repugnant."
"Good. Do not tell him about me." Scorpius dismissed Am’eelia.
"So Zak, were both you and Am’eelia Peacekeepers?" John stabbed at an unidentifiable morsel. He hoped Zak would tell him more while they were eating, relaxing.
"Yes, I was born and bred a Peacekeeper. I’ve been renegade for five cycles now. It’s a very different life."
"Am’eelia too?" John was curious. He needed more information. He still didn’t know where he was, and if he was free to go. And he desperately wanted to know about Aeryn. She had mentioned something about renegades; perhaps Zak would be able to shed some light.
"I believe Am’eelia was Peacekeeper until nearly two cycles ago, when she defected." Zak attacked a piece of food and popped it in his mouth.
It appeared Zak was being honest about his past, not trying to hide anything. John felt this was a good time to ask about Aeryn. "There is someone I’d like to find out about. Her name is Aeryn Sun, I believe she might be with a group of Peacekeeper renegades. Do you know of her?"
"Can’t say I’ve heard about her being renegade. Her name is familiar, but that may be from my past life." Zak said.
"She was Peacekeeper up to about three cycles ago. She served under Crais until he booted her out."
"Yeah, I heard about that. Oh! Now I know who you are." Zak stared at Crichton.
"How did you hear? You’ve been out longer than Aeryn." Something in what Zak was saying didn’t quite fit. John needed more information.
"There were other Peacekeepers who defected after Aeryn Sun, and word got around. Apparently, not everyone agreed with the way Crais treated her. And I gather, you are the reason. But I don’t know anything recent."
Zak made sense. John’s rattlers were quieting down. Yet, if Zak knew about Aeryn before, and that she left the Peacekeeper, why didn’t he know where she was now? "She told me she was going to seek out renegades. You’re a renegade, and you at least knew her by reputation. Is there something you’re not telling me?"
"No. Look, you don’t understand our organization. It is too dangerous for us to know the whereabouts, much less who is renegade. If anyone were to be captured by Peacekeepers, or anyone else for that matter, we wouldn’t be able to disclose more than a handful of people as each cell doesn’t know enough details about any other cell.
"Sorry. I wish I could be more helpful." Zak cleaned the last bit off his plate.
*So, the renegades are a lot like underground or terrorist organizations of Earth. It certainly fits.* John thought.
"It looks like we’ll be finished before Am’eelia is able to join us." Am’eelia walked up to the table just as Zak said the last. "Am’eelia, what took you so long?"
"Nothing, there were some things I had to take care of. Sorry I’m so late. I see you two are about done. Why don’t I meet you back at the office in a half an arn?" Am’eelia sat down with a tray of food.
"Would it be okay if I looked at the Farscape? I need to see if there was any damage."
"Sure, come with me, John. We’ll see you in about a half arn." Zak spoke as he and John headed for the Farscape module, his comment to Am’eelia was almost lost in the background noise.
"John, that’s a really primitive piece of technology, why is it so important?" Zak was shaking his head in disbelief. Now that he was standing next to the Farscape module, he couldn’t imagine how John managed to fly it at all. It didn’t look space worthy. "Uh, we’d better head back. Am’eelia should be in the office by now."
"Yeah, well, it’s my primitive technology, and it is surprisingly space worthy." John closed the cockpit and turned to go back with Zak. They walked silently for a few minutes in the shade of a building. As they walked around the corner of the building the sun momentarily blinded them when John thought he saw someone he knew! It was the briefest of glimpses as his eyes adjusted to the bright light, but every molecule of his body screamed BRACA to him. "I’ll catch up with you in a microt." John yelled to Zak as he ran in Braca’s direction. There was nobody around, and whoever it was could have slipped into a dozen doorways. John turned around and rejoined Zak.
Zak looked at John, his curiosity piqued. "What was that all about?"
"Impossible as it sounds, I thought I saw Aeryn Sun. But you would have known if she were here; my eyes must have played a trick on me as we were hit by the sunlight. There was no one there." John didn’t know how much he should tell, he erred on the side of caution.
"Certainly if she used her real name. But it is unlikely she is here. We can look at the records for anyone who has come here over the past monen if you like. Would that be the right time frame?" Zak followed John into Am’eelia’s office.
"Right time frame for what, Zak?" Am’eelia asked.
"John is looking for a friend, Aeryn Sun. He says she has gone to a renegade cell. I’ve offered to help John look at records of who has come here recently. I don’t think she’s here, though." Zak sat down.
"Right. John, I think Zak is correct. She is too well known by reputation for us to have missed her coming here. Zak, you can help him, but you have to do it on your own time you understand." Zak nodded in agreement with Am’eelia. "John, I was checking up on our reports about you while you were eating. I had to make sure you aren’t a Peacekeeper spy. Not only am I satisfied that you are what you say you are, but also I’m also quite impressed with the information we have about you. Are you interested in joining this organization? We could use a person of your abilities."
"I would like to think it over a bit. But before I answer, I would like a better understanding about how you operate." John said.
"Come with me John, I’ll show you around." Zak stood up to leave.
"That is a good idea. John, please wait outside the office for a few microts. I need to speak to Zak in private."
"Zak, I just spoke with Scorpius. John has some knowledge that Scorpius very much wants. He thinks it is the only thing that will save the galaxy from the Scarran scourge. He wants us to befriend John, he wants John to work with us. Show him our research facilities that may help win him over. Also, if he thinks he will find Aeryn Sun here, that might help make up his mind.
You two seem to be on friendly terms, that’s good." Am’eelia looked at Zak, there was a slightly haunted look in her eyes.
"Am’eelia, of all the assignments I’ve had to do, this one will be easy to do. I like John, he is easy to talk to and easy to listen to. It almost isn’t an assignment at all. But what is the matter? Something is bothering you."
"It’s me. I have a very hard time reconciling my Peacekeeper training with dealing with Scorpius. I know I have to look past that he is half Scarran, but I find it increasingly hard to do. And his reputation doesn’t help it either. Oh, and Zak, Scorpius asks that John not know he is here."
*Harvey, it looks like Scorpius didn’t go down with his ship, like a good captain should.* John hoped Harvey could sense Scorpius presence, confirm his suspicions.
*I don’t exactly feel his presence yet, but I agree with you. He must be here. I will lurk in the foreground for now. We need to know.* Harvey, of course, needed no words to tell him what John wanted him to do.
"John, are you interested in seeing our research facility? I understand you are a scientist?" Zak spoke as he joined John.
"Zak, I really feel as though I’m imposing on you and your family. Thank you for the wonderful dinner. It’s been so long since I’ve had a home cooked meal. It was wonderful! But you don’t have to put me up too. This is too much to ask!" John was really grateful for the hospitality. He knew they wanted him occupied, but he sensed genuine warmth from Zak and his family. And it was so nice to be around children again. "You make being a renegade look like an ordinary job."
"In a way it is, John. Not if you are on the front lines, of course, but other things, like research, are quite ordinary. And you would be able to do much the same. I hope you accept our offer, I think you would like being part of us. I hope your seeing what my life is like will help you make a favorable decision."
"And if I don’t, what will you do with me then?" John suspected that he could either join them voluntarily, or be forced to assist. Now that he knew about them, they would consider him too dangerous to let loose.
"You were unconscious when we brought you here, so we know you don’t know where ‘here’ is. Should you choose not to join us, we will take the appropriate precautions. You will be free to go, but to protect ourselves you will not be able to locate us." Zak was saying the right things to put John at ease. John still had rattlers. "John, it is late, and even if you’re not tired, I am. I hope you find the accommodations comfortable."
"Zak, I couldn’t ask for better. Thank you for everything." John said.
*He’s lying, John.*
*Do you sense that, Harvey? Or are you just making a best guess?* John had to agree with Harvey, he felt the same way. But, if he hadn’t seen Braca, if that was really him, would he be feeling this way?
*Best guess. But, why hesitate? Won’t you be in a better position to find Aeryn? Although, she left, so even if you find her… * Harvey said.
*You are undoubtedly right. I’ll make my final decision tomorrow. Good night Harvey.*
*Good night John.*
Scorpius was not pleased. It appeared Am’eelia and Zak were doing their best to convince John Crichton to stay and work on his research at this renegade cell, and Braca may have ruined it. "Are you sure he saw you?"
"No sir. It happened quickly. I walked around a building, the sun at my back when John and Zak emerged from the shadow. I don’t think he could really see who I am, but he did try to find me. Nothing was said. I don’t know what he thought he saw.
"Don’t you have enough information to do the work on your own? You did have me take the backup data before we escaped the command carrier, did you not?"
"No Braca. As much as I have, and as much progress we made, I still can’t do it. And the scientists here are not even the caliber of Co-Kura. They aren’t able to grasp the basics, let alone advance the research.
Braca, why did you come with me? I know you find it difficult to be in my presence. Why didn’t you stay with Grayza? She would probably have given you a promotion."
"Sir, she is wrong. Any peace with the Scarrans will be false. They are treacherous." Braca resumed his customary ‘at attention’ stance.
"But wouldn’t you have been better off staying with her and working from within." Scorpius did not expect Braca to answer. But he was curious about another, more personal point. "You find me repellent. Why have you stayed with me now that I no longer command?"
Braca was startled. He never expected Scorpius to be so candid, and he didn’t know how to answer him. He stammered. "I,… I… don’t know. I am afraid of the Scarrans. I think you are right. And… ah… I do… don’t find you re… repellent."
"You are being truthful about the Scarrans, but you are lying about me. I know, but I do understand and I value your loyalty, more so because of these feelings, which you cannot hide from me.
"Crichton is different. He hates me, not my genes. Tell Am’eelia I wish to see her now. We must speak before Crichton gives her his decision." Scorpius turned his attention to the data Braca retrieved.
"So you no longer want to hide the fact that you are here?" Am’eelia wondered about the abrupt change of mind.
"Braca thinks John might have seen and recognized him. He will surmise I am here as well. Did Zak say anything about John doing something out of the usual?"
"No. In fact, Zak and his wife are having John stay with him and the children tonight. They’re treating him to a home cooked meal. We thought if John could see how normal this life can be, he might be interested in staying. Or at least, trying it out." Am’eelia said.
"Yes, from what I know about his past, that is a particularly good plan. But, if he asks you about me when he makes his decision, don’t lie. I will want to speak to him then. Do not let him go without me first speaking to him." There was an edge to Scorpius’ voice in spite of his practiced banality.
Am’eelia saw John hesitate when she asked for his decision. "Do you have any questions, John? I realize this decision should not be made hastily, but we do need a response from you soon."
*I can’t tell if Scorpius is here, but she is hiding something important.* Harvey said.
"Zak may have mentioned to you that I thought I saw someone I knew. What I didn’t tell Zak was that I thought I saw Braca. And if Braca is here, I can only assume Scorpius is here too. Can you enlighten me?" John decided to get straight to the point.
"You are correct. He would like to speak with you." Am’eelia said.
"Just speak? How much influence does he have with this organization?" John felt their meeting was inevitable, he may as well know as much as possible before facing his nemesis.
"That was his request, to speak to you. As for how much power he wields, not more than Zak or me. He came to us a short time ago with an offer to help stop the Scarrans through some scientific research he was involved with. Our scientists don’t understand his research and he thinks you would be able to help more than anyone here." Having divulged Scorpius’ presence, and his ulterior goal, Am’eelia visibly relaxed.
*John, I sense she believes these are Scorpius’ intentions.* Harvey sensed John’s hesitation.
"Do you think the Scarrans are a big threat to this galaxy, bigger than the Peacekeepers?"
"You are right to see the Peacekeepers as a threat, but they are not the same type of threat as the Scarrans. The Peacekeepers want to dominate; the Scarrans want to eliminate. So yes, I do think the Scarrans are the bigger threat." For the first time since he met her, John saw passion in Am’eelia’s eyes.
"There is something else, Am’eelia, I will need help finding someone. Her name is Aeryn Sun, and I believe she has joined up with a renegade cell, one that is within parsecs of where you picked me up. Can you help me find her?"
"Yes, if you should decide to work with us.
"Are you ready to meet with Scorpius?"
"Yes." John said.
*It is odd,* John thought, *that coming face to face with Scorpius should quiet the rattlers.*
*Don’t underestimate him, John. He may not have power now, but he is still dangerous.* Harvey made himself available to John.
*But is he right about the Scarrans?* John said.
*I believe so, John.* Harvey stayed close to John’s conscious.
"John, sit down. I asked to speak to you to convince you to join with us, work with me, to stop the Scarrans." Scorpius sat back, his hand in front of his chest, forming a tent.
"I am not convinced the Scarrans need to be stopped. As much empathy as I have for you regarding your horrible childhood, and understand how that has influenced you, I don’t see the same threat that you see, or that the Peacekeepers see. How do I know that isn’t just propaganda?" John leaned forward and looked directly into Scorpius’ eyes, emphasizing his point.
"Propaganda? You think it’s just propaganda? I lived with the Scarrans for over fourteen cycles. My knowledge is intimate. I fully know what they are capable of. And they mean to eliminate every one in their path." Scorpius leaned forward, matching John. Their heads practically touched.
"I’m not buying it. As intimate as your knowledge is, it is based on a very small sample. You only knew a tiny bit of the society. Unfortunately, it was particularly nasty." John said.
"If I were the only voice, I might agree with you John. But, there are many, many voices in the Peacekeepers, and here with the renegades that hold the same view. The Scarrans are the treat we say they are." Scorpius said.
"A million Frenchmen can’t be wrong? See, the problem is, where did that information originate. Was it cooked by Peacekeeper high command to further their grip on the troops and the planetary systems they dominate?" John leaned back.
"I see you are not convinced as I am. My personal experience may have been limited, but I was in a position to learn of the Scarran strategy, of their plans. And, I have no power here, no more than the next in this organization, so I don’t have anything to gain personally by it. Regardless of your decision, I will continue to work with what I have to stop the Scarrans." Scorpius stood while he spoke, and began to pace.
"And to stop the Scarrans you want me to develop the wormhole technology?" John said.
"Yes!" Scorpius stopped, gripped the edge of a table, and stared at John.
"I’m interested in helping, but I am more afraid of wormhole technology than I am of the Scarrans. Scorpy, do you know what compromise is?" John stood to look Scorpius in the eye.
"Yes John, that’s when neither party gets what they want."
"My compromise is this. I will stay and work on developing another way to stop the Scarrans. I think there are alternatives. My definition is both parties get some of what they want, but not everything. You just have to start seeing the glass as half full, Scorpy."
Two monens had passed since Crichton agreed to head the project to find an alternate solution to defeat the Scarrans. As much as he fought it, John found Scorpius an able and quick study, and an intellectual equal. The project was beginning to yield results. While the discoveries weren’t spectacular, each day showed slow steady progress. The work was interesting and John was in his element.
The team was assembled around a prowler they were modifying to more closely match the "primitive" Earth technology when John got a call from Am’eelia.
"Please sit down, John." Am’eelia’s expression did not bode well. "I received a report regarding Aeryn Sun, and I’m afraid I do not have the best news for you."
John sat stunned, silent. *Oh Nooo*, his mind screamed, *Aeryn is hurt, or worse.*
*I cannot tell you where she is. I don’t have that information, but she refused to see you. She did send this vid for you. None of us have looked at it." Am’eelia handed the vid to John.
John rose and pocketed the vid. "Uh, thanks. I’ll look at it later. I’m needed on the project."
Am’eelia blocked John’s egress, "No John, I can see you are shaken. I don’t think it is a good idea for you to work on anything more today. If you don’t want to look at the vid immediately, I’d like to show you some more of Ionella. You have only seen our base, it is time for you to see where the civilians live."
John was about to protest that he’d rather be alone when he realized that he probably could use the diversion. But, he should also view the vid first. "Yes, I’d like that, but first, I want to see Aeryn’s vid."
"Hello John. Don’t worry about me. I have found a renegade cell where I am with people who I’ve known in the past. I am happy here and I am doing what I’ve been trained to do, and more. I belong here.
"Understand, I do love you, and I do miss you. But as you have said, you are not the same person who shared my time on Talyn. He is the man I fell in love with. I am sorry it is not you, as he is dead. I still grieve for him.
"For my sanity, and for the sanity you have left, we must not see each other again. You said that fate brought us together, and that we were fated to be together. It did, and we were; but fate also worked against us and pulled us apart. It wasn’t the coin toss. It was the chance separation that brought the other John to Talyn with me and left you behind on Moya. He was the one I was fated to be with.
"I was too much a coward to say goodbye to you directly, but it is the right thing to do. I am sorry I have to say this on a vid-chip, but this is what I must do. Find a new life and be well.
John sat for a long time staring at the now gone image.
*What did you expect, John? She was quite clear when she left. You have been through this before, you’ll get over it.* Harvey reminded John of his past loves. *This is part of the human condition, is it not?*
*Harvey, you can relax, I’m not suicidal. I am only beyond hope.*
*Am’eelia likes you. You should get to know her.* Harvey offered.
The thought of getting involved with anyone but Aeryn sent a shudder through John, *No Harvey, this is not the time. I think Am’eelia sees me as an asset, not a lover.*
*She’s been waiting for you, John. Open the door.* Harvey left.
"John, you look terrible! I thought Aeryn Sun was healthy." Am’eelia said.
"No, she’s okay. Aeryn just sent me a ‘Dear John’ letter. Listen, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a rain check on the tour. I think work will be the best thing for me to do right now."
Am’eelia hesitated before responding. She didn’t understand all the references, but she thought she understood the gist of what he said. "I understand. I have buried myself in my work when I didn’t want to deal with any personal problems. Come back in a weeken and I will give you the tour."
"John! Are you all right? You look like dren." Scorpius was waiting for John to return to the hangar. The modified prowler was ready for testing and Scorpius was anxious to get started. But since the technology was all John’s design, he waited for John’s go-ahead.
"Aw, Scorpy, I didn’t think you cared! Yeah, I’m okay, nothing that time won’t take care of. Thanks for asking." Scorpius’ reaction was a complete surprise. John would not have thought Scorpius was capable of showing any concern. "Is the prototype ready to test?"
"Yes." Scorpius said.
"Good, then let’s ROCK ‘n ROLL."
"John, why can’t you let our test pilots test the design? This isn’t the Farscape." Scorpius stared at John as he got ready to fly the prowler.
"First, I am a test pilot. Second, I will not make anyone do anything that I won’t do myself. Third, this is only rocket science, not wormholes, so it is a lot safer than the Farscape test. Why don’t you join me, it’s your design too." John handed Scorpius a flight suit.
"What is that expression you use? In for a penny, in for a pound? Very well, John, I will."
"I finally get to test my original theory to see just how well it works." John maneuvered the prowler for quick descent into Ionella’s atmosphere to try using the sling shot effect once again. This time he had more data, and he was able to retrofit a prowler for the technology. It wasn’t that difficult to do, as there was no phase shift to contend with. He was very confident of success as he was able to get it to work on Moya, and he had only been in this part of the galaxy for a day or two. He knew a lot more now.
The prowler was programmed to remember the angle John set, and correct for the planet’s mass. Because the circuits made the necessary adjustments as it flew, John did not have to be precise. The challenge was to get the prowler to self-correct for any pilot. He needed to be the first test pilot in order to learn of any anomalies and make the necessary corrections to avoid disaster. He did not tell Scorpius about that bit.
John could feel the ship respond and compensate for both the planet’s mass and theirs. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to produce desired results. He instinctively knew what had to be changed. The prowler shot away from Ionella at increasing acceleration. They leveled off at seventeen hetch, about two and a half times normal prowler speed. "Yeee-Haw! Scorpy we’ve done it. And I can improve it from here. I think I can get a prowler to achieve nineteen hetch, and, I can get a ship with more mass to go faster."
"Yeee-Haw? This is a good start?"
*John, I believe Scorpius just cracked a joke.* Harvey whispered in disbelief.
"Scorpy, Scorpy, Scorpy, you just can’t get No Satisfaction! It would have taken us a good ten arns to get here at normal speeds instead of the five minutes, er, three hundred microts it took." John mood picked up considerably. "Can you confirm we are in the Mysani system?"
Much of the planning involved picking a system that was known to be friendly to the renegades. A successful test would not help anyone if it were to fall into enemy hands. The cell on Ionella contacted the Mysani representative and received clearance to us their system to slingshot back to Ionella. The Mysani cooperated because it was in their best interest to. If the renegades could defend them more quickly against enemy attack, then they benefited too.
"The configuration is correct, Commander." Scorpius said.
Their coms came to life, "You have entered Mysanian jurisdiction, make yourselves known."
"This is Commander Crichton with Commander Scorpius from Ionella. We arranged contact a monen ago. Do we have clearance to land?"
"Yes, your flight path is programmed now. The computers will guide you in."
They landed the prowler in the open and stepped out onto the tarmac. Mysani presented Crichton and Scorpius a surprise. It was hot and the planet had a greater mass than the Earth. Crichton reckoned the temperature exceeded forty degrees Celcius. He was sweating and he felt he gained four or five kilos. "Hey Scorpy, how are you holding up in this heat?"
"I’ll manage, we won’t be staying long." Scorpius said.
"Has anyone from Ionella been here before? Or was all the contact long distance?" A Mysanian approached as Crichton voiced these questions. His appearance was similar to a Scarran.
"I am Ky’Pryy, aide to Governor of Mysani. Come with me, Governor M’Ai wants to see you immediately." With that, Ky’Pryy turned on his heel and walked rapidly towards a building about a half a kilometer distant.
"Whoa, slow down. I’m not accustomed to this heat or this gravity. It will take us longer to walk the distance." John panted. Scorpius didn’t seem to be as affected.
"Our situation is grim. The Scarrans are advancing towards us. Our informants estimate they will be here within two monens, maybe sooner. We hesitate to enlist the Peacekeepers because we are all elected officials and the Peacekeepers have a reputation of taking over planets once they have defended them. But unless you can help defend us, we will go to the Peacekeepers rather than be subjugated by the Scarrans." Governor M’Ai paced nervously around her office.
"But you are related to the Scarrans, why are you so worried about them taking you over." This was more a statement from Scorpius than a question.
"It is true we are related, but we evolved independently over the millennia and enjoy a completely different social structure. We are also genetically different. They are our enemy, and they are formidable. Can you help us?" Governor M"Ai sat down.
"We will bring the message back to Ionella. I can’t speak for the renegades, but I have reason to believe they will be in favor of supporting you." John stood up to leave.
"Scorpius, you are half Scarran, and yet you were a Peacekeeper and now a renegade. Why do you oppose the Scarrans?" the Governor asked.
"They are my enemy." Scorpius left with John.
"The Mysani informed us the Scarrans are approaching and they would like our support. We can retrofit a squad of fighters like the prototype." John presented the situation to the renegade high command on Ionella. "The test run went sufficiently well that I would go with the design as it stands rather than refine it for unknown gains at this time. We must move quickly. The Mysanians think they may have two monens, maybe less before the Scarrans advance on their system."
"We will prepare to support the Mysani. We should send an envoy to work out the details." High Councilman L’Ora said.
"Sir, do you know anything about the conditions on Mysani?" John remembered the heat. It was uncomfortable for him, for a Sebacean it could be deadly, he didn’t know.
"What do you mean?" two High Councilmen said in unison.
"First, you already know they are a democracy, which works in our favor over the Peacekeepers, but they are also distantly related to the Scarrans, and have some of the same physiology. It is very hot on Mysani, I’d say Optimum plus six." John tried to remember how hot it felt on Moya when the space creatures built the temperature up, and tried to equate it to the Optimum scale. He wasn’t sure if he was on target. "I find it uncomfortable, I sweat a lot in that kind of heat, but won’t it be really harmful to you?" John sat down.
"Commander Crichton is correct," Scorpius interjected. "But I’d say it was a bit warmer than he indicates. You will need protective suits if you are to land there."
"We had only made visual contact. This is very interesting. We suspected they might be related to Scarrans, how do we know this isn’t a trap for us?" L’Ora said.
"Governor M’Ai was telling the truth." Scorpius said. "They may be distantly related to the Scarrans, but that isn’t where their allegiance is. You are Sebacean, but your allegiance isn’t Peacekeeper."
"You need to share this knowledge with the other cells." John felt this should be obvious, but he didn’t see any movement in this direction.
"Is is possible for you to document what has to be done, or does it require on-site training?" High Councilman Tapel asked.
"Documentation is sufficient to install the device, but we need to personally train those who are going to use it." John hoped he would be one of the trainers.
"Prepare the documentation and set up sessions to train the instructors." L’Ora closed the meeting.
They worked at a frenetic pace to retrofit as many prowlers as they could to defend Mysani when they got the signal. They nearly had a full squadron ready. Surprise worked in their favor, and they were able to hold the Scarrans off. However, everyone knew, it would not be permanent. The "Slingshot Initiator", the officially name, or "Crichton’s Kludge", the common name, went into production throughout the planet. The Ionellans put up the much-needed currency to build the plants and supply the materials and people to do the manufacturing.
John Crichton completed the necessary documentation and trained as many renegades as he could. He wanted to go to the other cells to do training, set up manufacturing, do anything that would potentially bring him closer to Aeryn. When he wasn’t allowed to follow his heart, he tried to enlist in the fight against the Scarrans on Mysani. That was denied him. Nearly half a cycle had passed since they first tested the "Kludge" and Crichton found himself with more time to think about his personal life than he liked. He suddenly found he had free time, and he didn’t like it. He was also bored, as he was no longer doing research. He didn’t dare research wormholes, the one thing he most wanted next to a second chance with Aeryn. There was a knock on the door. "Come in."
"Commander Crichton, do you have a minute?"
"Yeah, sure Scorpius, take a load off."
Scorpius sat down and got right to the point, "You know the Slingshot Initiator won’t hold the Scarrans for long. Please reconsider-doing research on wormholes. That is the only thing that will do the job."
"You don’t get it, do you Scorpy. The answer is no. How many ways do I have to say no for you to understand. Besides, the Scarran threat isn’t because the Kludge isn’t effective; rather, it is because they will figure out how to fight harder and bloodier. What we need is a better way to contain the Scarrans once we get to where they are advancing."
"No, it is you who don’t get it. In the end, the Scarrans will win and eliminate billions of people. It is imperative to take any means available to stop them." Scopius leaned forward; there was a rare passion in his eyes.
"Scorpy, that’s it, you really don’t understand. The end never justifies the means. Never."
"And destruction of my command carrier was justified because… ?"
"I could argue that I didn’t want to destroy the command carrier, but I couldn’t find the erase button; I could argue that we did it in such a way as to save as many lives as possible; I could argue that it was a horrible trade-off; but all these arguments ring false to me. I won’t try to justify it. I did it and I’m living with the consequences. The fact that most of the people on the carrier didn’t die helps, but it does not justify. That still doesn’t change my mind about the wormhole research." John said.
"Then you will have to be satisfied with the knowledge that you could have stopped the Scarrans, but didn’t." Scorpius stood up and left.
*He may be right, John. Anyway he was truthful.* Scorpius’s visage wasn’t enough, now John had to see Harvey in his minds eye. *And… You can’t get no… Satisfaction… You can’t get no… Satisfaction… * An electric guitar materialized in Harvey’s hands. He played the riffs to the song.
*Not now Harvey, I not in the mood for Mick Jagger.* John watched Harvey leave, "I can’t get no Satisfaction" fading in his ears.
"John, I’m not trying to back away from my offer of eight or nine monens ago, but haven’t you seen the civilian side of things? Don’t you live there now?" Am’eelia had forgotten about her offer to show John around, and it did not seem relevant any longer.
"Yes, you’re right. It was my dumb way of asking you to dinner. Am’eelia, please join me for dinner tonight." John felt like a teenager asking for his first date. He was surprised to discover he was nervous. He didn’t think it would matter with anyone but Aeryn. He had to admit that his ache for her was fading, and that while he still felt love for her; it was changing its form, and becoming more one of friendship. Except for one brief moment on the false Earth, he was never her lover.
"Yes, I would like that." Am’eelia said.