Title: Without Predjudice
Rating: PG - some adult themes
Disclaimer: I do not own any Farscape characters, nor the original idea. These all belong to Jim Hensen productions and company. Lucky sods.
Authors note: My thanks go out to Ange, the beta with the patience of Job. She, who constantly supports me with yells of "Haven't you finished yet?!" For once, I have. :)
Moya came out of Starburst with a thud, jolting the crew.
"What the frell was that?" D'Argo yelled, racing for the command deck. "Pilot?" He called through the com, as he tore into the room, to see the rest of the residents of Moya already there, staring at the image of Pilot inside a large clam like structure.
"Moya apologizes for the abrupt deceleration. She believes she recognizes one of the planets within this system." Pilot replied, his limbs moving fluidly across his control panel.
"Where are we, Pilot?" Crichton asked, looking towards the holographic image.
"It is a system beyond the Uncharted Territories. Moya has never heard of such a place before." Pilot admitted, glancing briefly at them all before continuing his work of sustaining Moya's flight.
"If it's beyond the Uncharted Territories, how can Moya recognize it, Pilot?" Zhaan asked calmly.
"Moya...believes she has seen it before, through a worm hole." Pilot said slowly. The crew froze. The only worm hole they had seen in the last seven cycles was the wormhole to fake earth. Crichton felt his heart stop in his chest.
"Pilot, open up the display, please." He requested hoarsely. Zhaan stepped over to him, gently touching his shoulder. The display opened, revealing star upon star. Crichton stared hard at the stars in the vision. Then his breath hitched. There was a large planet. Red, orange and white. There were rings around it and large satellite moons orbiting it.
"Oh God." He breathed. "Jupiter."
"That didn't translate, Crichton." Rygel informed him.
"That's Jupiter." He whirled around to stare at his family. "I know that planet!" He pointed at it. "This is my system. Earth is the third planet from this sun! I'm home!"
"John." Zhaan cried delightedly. They all watched as his face slowly drained of blood, his lips turning blue.
"Crichton?" Aeryn called, watching as he started trembling.
"I think he needs a chair." Chiana said in her soft voice. D'Argo went to retrieve one, coming back within microts, flat stool in hand. John sat down, his knees trembling.
"I'm home." He kept repeating. The others stood watching the display, allowing John a few microts to gather his thoughts. Pilot interrupted his musings, clearing his throat softly.
"Excuse me, Commander Crichton. I have readings on the planets within this system. It appears that there is only one planet fit for habitation. Would you like Moya to head for that planet.?"
"Pilot, if that planet is blue and white, and has lots of green land on it, head there at Warp Factor 10." John confirmed, his voice trembling slightly at the edges.
"Moya would like to express her delight in having brought at least one of her crew to his home."
"Thank you, Pilot." Zhaan replied.
"Yeah, thanks." John added absently, his whole attention centered on the huge planet passing by their left as Moya headed for Earth. For home.
John was sitting on command, watching the planets and familiar star systems pass by. He had requested Moya move slowly, so that he could come to terms with the idea of being in his home system, and could appreciate the view no human had ever seen before.
"This is enormous news for John." Zhaan announced to the rest of the crew, who had gathered in the maintenance bay.
"Yeah, but how are they going to treat us? Considering the welcome we got last time." D'Argo grumbled.
"D'Argo. Please. Have some faith in his race. I'm sure we will come up with something."
"That may well be. But I sure as hell am not going down onto that planet without every weapon I can lay my hands on." Aeryn announced. D'Argo agreed, nodding.
"Neither will I." Chianna asserted herself.
"I believe I will stay here, and mind the ship." Rygel said magnanimously.
"Gee, thank you, Your Worship." Chiana purred. Rygel twitched an ear-brow at her.
"Look, I don't want to be paranoid." Aeryn started
"Why not, you usually are." D'Argo interrupted. The ex-peacekeeper scowled at the tall warrior.
"Fine. But considering how John thinks his people are going to react to us, do we want to chance going to his planet at all? He's told us that his race is extremely xenophobic, so how will they react to yourself, or Zhaan? Let alone Rygel."
"I beg your pardon, Officer Sun!" Rygel grumbled.
"Shut up, Rygel." Aeryn told the Dominar.
"So what do you propose we do, Aeryn?"
"I don't know." Aeryn was at a loss.
"I do." John said from the corridor. He walked in, noticing the uncomfortable shifting his friends were making. "Hey, don't stress, people. I was there last timetoo, remember? I want to avoid that again as much as you guys do."
"So what do you suggest, Crichton?" D'Argo asked in his gravelly voice.
"Pilot, are you listening?"
"I am, Crichton." Pilot confirmed.
"Can you stop at the planet before Earth. It's a red planet, very hot. We call it Mars."
"I will ask Moya to do so immediately, Crichton, as we are fast approaching that planet now."
"Thanks." John turned back to look at his surrogate family. " Right, here's the plan. Earth has a long range satellite orbiting Mars. It's aimed out at space, trying to detect other life forms. I want to communicate with Earth through that satellite. Get in touch with IASA, Dad and DK. Let them know who we areand where we come from. Warn them, as it were. And tell them that we will not visit them, they can visit us. We have what we call the Shuttle. It can ferry up some of the big wigs from Earth and we can talk to them here. That way, we have control. Not them. But first, I need to talk to Pilot. See if we can configure the Farscape Module to beam down some images of me. That way, they can confirm who I am."
"I like this plan better than the one where I get cut open and experimented on." Rygel smiled as John walked out heading down a couple of tier's towards Pilot's chamber.
"Okay, we gonna give this the old one two three?"
"Pardon?" Aeryn frowned at John.
"Are we gonna try this out?" He translated. The little translator molecules in his head may translate language, but they had a hard time translating culture.
"Whenever you're ready, John." Aeryn replied. She tapped the recording device attached to John's communications array in his Farscape Module, then nodded to John, who started talking to the modified recorder.
"My name is Commander John Crichton, IASA. I am an American citizen. I was probably thought dead in 1998, when my Farscape module disappeared from Earth's orbit. I am not dead. I am very much alive. I wish to talk with the current Commander in Chief of the IASA, or with my father, Colonel Jack Crichton. Please respond on this channel." He stopped for a second, then looked at Aeryn. "Okay, loop it." Aeryn tapped a few buttons, twisted something, then nodded back.
"It's now on a permanent loop. They'll receive the transmission once every five minutes for the next 15 arns."
"Good. Now, we wait for response." He arched his brow in imitated lust at her, mutely suggesting a way to pass the time.
"No way, John. I told you, we're having a break from all that. I need to sort this out in my head before you get any more stupid, moronic ideas."
"What was so moronic about you and I......" He grinned at her.
"I told you. Now back off, sparky!" She snarled, not realizing that she'd used one of his affectionate terms for Rygel. He grinned, but backed off. Not a good idea to piss off an ex-peacekeeper.
"Commander Crichton!" Pilot called to him over the comms.
"Yeah, Pilot? We got a response?"
"We do, Commander Crichton. Would like to hear it?"
"I'll be there in a sec." He jumped up and ran out. Aeryn, who had been in the room next to his, saw him dash past and correctly guessed the reason for his haste. She followed.
"Play it for me, Sam." Crichton called to Pilot, walking towards him. Pilot put out one of his upper limbs and depressed something on his board.
"This is General Peter Apran. IASA Commander in Chief. Please identify yourself and remain in your position orbiting Mars. We have several defense weapons locked on to your vessel and will fire if any effort to advance is made. The United Nations of Earth are aware of your position. We will be in contact with you within twenty four hours." The message shut off.
"Well. That was interesting. Pilot, can you patch me straight into where that communication came from?"
"It will take several microts, but Moya and I should be able to do as you request, Commander Crichton."
"Pilot, will you *please* call me John?" Crichton pleaded, for the umpteenth time. Pilot nodded his head, his upper limbs working quickly and efficiently. John grinned in victory.
"John, I am patched into their communications center. I have sound, but no visual."
"They won't have that yet. Put me on, please, Pilot."
"You are, John." Pilot replied.
"Colonel Apran? I would like to speak to Colonel Apran."
"Who the hell are you, and how did you get onto this frequency."
"My name is Commander John Crichton. I need to speak to Peter Apran. Now."
"If you do not get off this frequency, we will be forced to put a trace on your communication and take action against you. Do you understand? This is a highly sensitive communications frequency."
"If you want to come and get me, you're going to have to get into the Shuttle and take a really long flight. Just get Colonel..."
"I am here." A voice announced. It was Colonel Apran. John smiled. "Hey, Colonel. Long time, no see. Well, I'm not really seeing you now, but you get the picture. Or rather, you don't." John started chuckling.
"John." Aeryn berated him.
"Sorry. Look, I'm up here, circling Mars. We could have just entered Earth's space and landed, scaring the crap out of you and the Russians. But we decided to give you guys a bit of a warning. I want to come home, but I don't want my friends harassed, experimented on or taking into custody."
"We have no proof that you are who you claim to be." The Colonel admitted reluctantly.
"Look, my service number is 183 255 4835. I was born in San Diego to Jack and Charlene Crichton. I was working with DK and my father on the Farscape project for over 8 years. In 1998 I finally got to test the thing. I went up in it and started circling the earth. I got caught in some radiation from a Solar flare, which created a worm hole that took me to another part of space. A hell of a long way from home. You haven't heard from me since. Can we at least approach the moon? Get a little closer, so that we can send some pictures down to you? You can get Dad in, and we can do the whole, tell me something only John would know thing. Come on, Colonel. You knew me."
"I...I will have to discuss this with my superiors."
"Fine, you do that. But we're heading for the moon. We will stay on the farside, and not continue any further. You get Dad in, and we'll talk."
"You come any closer and we will fire."
"Colonel. You're weapons cannot harm this ship. But we will obey, for now." John gestured for Pilot to cut off the communication.
"Well?" D'Argo asked. While he was talking, they'd all gathered behind him.
"We'll see." He shrugged.
"John. We have another transmission."
"Put her through, Pilot." John called. They were all eating in the communal room.
"To the craft still orbiting Mars. United Nations has given permission for you to enter Earth's space and approach our satellite. Please orbit this satellite until further communications can be established."
"That is all, John. Shall Moya continue to that point?"
"Please, Pilot." He continued eating, trying to calm his pulse. He was getting closer. He looked at Aeryn, who was studiously looking at her nutrient bar. There wasn't a whole lot to look at, but she'd managed to study it for over half an arn now. Zhaan noticed his stare.
"What are you and Aeryn going to do, John?" She asked him quietly.
"I wish I knew. She's retreated into PK mode again. One weeken she's fine, the next she's hard and cold. I don't know what I'm supposed to do about it."
"Give her time, John. Time and a lot of love." He smiled at that.
"That I got in abundance, sister." He said to her.
"We have established visual contact with IASA, John." Aeryn told him, coming in to his room. "They're ready and waiting for you." John bounced up off his bed, grinning like a child. He grabbed her by her long pony-tail and pulled her in, giving her a hard kiss on the lips, before tearing off towards Pilot's chamber.
"We on, Pilot?" He called as he ran in.
"We are, John." Pilot reached out and showed a holographic image of a conference room. There were several people sitting down. He scanned each one, until he saw his father. His eyes filled up with tears, and he walked closer, putting his hand up as though to touch his Father's cheek.
"Good sweet Christ." Jack breath as his son's image appeared on the screen in front of him. He watched as John reached out as though to touch the screen.
"No, Dad. It's just me." He grinned through his emotion. "God, it's good to see you. Even if you are still thousands of miles away." His eyes moved to the man beside him. "Jesus, DK. What did you do to your hair?" There was none left. It had been shaven off.
"Charity. God, John! I can't believe you're alive!" DK was staring at his friend, afraid to close his eyes in case he disappeared.
"Okay. Let me guess. We have to do the test now, right? What do you want to know? When was I born? Who's the president?"
"All easily accessed information, sir." Colonel Apran said. He wanted it to be his missing astronaut, but still had to take precautions.
"John. Answer this one question, and then we'll be right. Where is my lucky charm? The necklace I gave you?" John smiled, seeing the trick.
"Hang on, it's on Aeryn's neck." Jack sat back, distraught. It wasn't John. The lucky charm he'd given his son was three rings, intertwined. The stranger in front of them gestured off screen. A reluctant woman appeared, scowling at John. He reached into her clothing and brought out the necklace. On it was a ring. Or rather, three rings, intertwined.
"Here it is, Dad. Protecting Aeryn and your grandchild." The woman turned, wild eyed and rattled off something in a language that sounded completely alien. But the ring was the one he'd given his son. He nodded at Peter Apran.
"It's what I gave him."
They watched as John soothed Aeryn and said "Now, Aeryn. He had to know. I'd rather they got all of the shocks at once, rather than let it go on for days." The woman replied snappishly, then stormed off. John turned back, smiling sheepishly.
"Sorry. She's....spirited. Okay. Did I pass?"
"Yes." Colonel Apran stared at John Crichton hard. "We have a new Shuttle prepared and on the tarmac, waiting. There will be four of us coming up, plus the pilots. We'll be there in two days. Do you have a docking door we can attach to?"
"Don't worry about that. Just fly towards us. We'll pick you up and bring you in. Think Death Star tracking device. Oh, before I go. Is Dad and DK coming?"
"Yes. They insisted."
"See you then, then." The connection broke. Jack collapsed, trembling, into his chair. His son was alive. After eight years of believing him dead, he was alive. And thriving, by the look of it. With an alien woman. He shook his head. He'd think of that later.
"They are approaching." Pilot announced on a broad wave ban. The crew slowly made it's way to the tech deck. The shuttle looked small inside Moya. But it still only just fit inside her tech deck. The door opened and a suited up man stepped slowly down onto Moya's deck.
"You can take off the suits. The air is breathable." John called to them. The man looked up at the call, then walked slowly forward. His deflector was down, which meant that the crew couldn't see inside. The man reached up and slowly pulled off the helmet. It was Jack.
"Dad!" John rushed forward. Jack tossed the helmet away and reached out to hold his son tightly.
"John. I thought you were dead, son." Jack closed his eyes as a wave of grief overwhelmed him. Within moments, John had let go, only to hug DK. Then he looked at the other four members of the team. Peter Apran he knew. The others he didn't recognize.
"Colonel." He nodded to his old boss. Then looked at the others, waiting for an introduction.
"This is Admiral Jennifer Sampson. She is leading diplomatic advisor to the IASA. At the moment, we're keeping this quiet. Only governments know of your existence, as in, this ship's. The others are Captain James Walker and Commander Jess Duncan." John nodded at all of them. He heard someone cough behind him, and turned around. Aeryn was standing there, surrounded by his friends, waiting for introductions.
"Oh! Sorry. Okay. Everyone, these are my friends. They've been my family for the last 8 cycles. They won't harm you. So long as you don't offer them any threat. This is D'Argo. Aeryn, whom you met before. Zhaan. Rygel and Chiana. We also have Pilot and Moya. Moya is the ship. She's a living ship with a conscience and awareness. Pilot is her symbiotic partner. Her connection to us. That's it." The two groups stared at each other.
"John, what are they looking at?" D'Argo grumbled.
"What did he say?" DK wanted to know.
"He wanted to know why you were all staring. And D'Argo, they've never seen aliens before. It's got them a little......"
"Frelled in the head?" Aeryn supplied.
"That'll do for now." John agreed.
"What did she say?" Jack wanted to know.
"This is too difficult. Pilot?"
"I will inject them at once, John." A DRD came out from behind a bench, followed by a few friends.
"Now, guys. Don't stress. This may sound like a line, but they won't hurt you. They're going to inject a translator microbe into you. It will allow you to understand what they're saying. I have the same microbes in my head, which is how I can understand them." Despite the reassurance, the human party backed up, away from the DRD's. Which was fine, because Pilot had set them as a decoy. There were another group of DRD's behind them, set to inject the six humans. Before the group knew it, they were injected.
"Ow!" DK complained, rubbing his leg.
"C'mon. We'll go up to the terrace while the microbes do their work. It won't take long." He led them out of the tech deck and up a few tiers to the terrace. They were wandering, eyes open wide. There was nothing to compare this ship with, and their eyes popped out of their head with every new corridor.
"They are like children." D'Argo watched them.
"Like Crichton was when he first stepped aboard." Zhaan agreed, following the humans. Aeryn was strangely silent through this.
"What is the matter, child?" Zhaan worried for her.
"What do you think? John. He announces to his world that I am pregnant with his baby. An alien baby. Then ignores me for two days. He didn't even introduce me to his father!"
"Aeryn. Perhaps John is preoccupied with trying to insure that we are not captured like last time?" Zhaan waited while that sank in. "Aside from that, if you wish for attention, why not let him know it? Go to him for once. Seek him out. You will be rewarded for letting your Peacekeeper guard down. Trust me." Zhaan pealed off, heading for her quarters, leaving a silent, thoughtful Aeryn in her wake.
"This is what we call the Terrace. We're now at the very front of Moya. And she has a beautiful view today." The screens came up and the vista of earth, surrounded by black space appeared.
"Wow." One of the group breathed.
"Yeah. Pretty spectacular, hey?" John agreed. He was standing next to his father. He'd been staring at this view for two days now, so as much as he could, he'd gotten used to it. He turned to watch his father watch Earth slowly rotate. There were black bags under his eyes, and he'd lost a lot of weight. He looked old and tired. DK had a similarly exhausted look about him.
"How long have I been gone?" He asked after a long silence. Zhaan, Rygel and Chiana had left, leaving D'Argo and Aeryn as the only aliens on the terrace with the humans. D'Argo stood with his sword in his hand, ready and willing trouble. Aeryn stood similarly, but her rifle was held to her body. She was ready for trouble, but she didn't want to instigate it.
"It's November 2006, John. You've been missing for eight years now." Jennifer Sampson replied.
"And the Y2K bug?" He continued. He was stalling, he knew. But he couldn't think of anything profound to say.
"Without a hitch. Didn't even notice it go by." One of the pilots said. John had forgotten his name.
"John, can we get on with this?" Aeryn request.
"Hey! I understood her!" DK exclaimed.
"So did I." The other pilot grated. Without warning, his pistol was in his hand, pointing at Aeryn. "She just spoke English. Who the frell are you?" John heard another word, but the microbes translated the swear word for the aliens.
"My name is Aeryn Sun. I am an ex-peacekeeper from Beta Squadron. And if you don't put away your weapon within three microts, I will blow your hand off." Aeryn told the human, pointing her pulse rifle at him. D'Argo growled, firing up his blade. Within seconds, John watched as everyone on the terrace brought out a weapon. There were guns pointed every which way.
"Whoa! Hang on a second, guys!" John dashed into the middle, hoping to stop an inter-galactic incident. Not a good first impression, by anyone's standard. "What the frell has gotten into you all? Dad?" He turned to Jack, who had his weapon out, but not pointed. "DK? Everyone, put your weapons away. We are *so* not going to have another fire fight aboard Moya. Put them away!" He barked out the command. They reluctantly obeyed him. All bar D'Argo.
"I will not, Crichton. I do not know these people."
"Now listen here, big guy!"
"I do not know them, John Crichton." D'Argo growled. John got right up close to him, his temper starting to flare.
"I do. These are my people, D'Argo. Put. Up. Your. Blade." He spat out. D'Argo yelled wordlessly. John heard a pistol cock behind him. Without thinking, he grabbed his own gun from his thigh and swung round, his weapon aimed at Jennifer's head. Everyone froze. Those that had known him before were stunned. His reaction had been so fast that they didn't even see him draw the weapon. Jennifer, who had been pointing her pistol at D'Argo stared, wide eyed, at the alien gun pointing at her forehead.
"I don't want an incident here. It's the last thing I want. But if you threaten my family again, I will kill you." They all heard the conviction in his voice. Jack was appalled. Eight years ago, John detested the thought of anyone killing a life-form. Yet here he was, threatening his own species in defense of this big tentacled alien. Jennifer hesitated.
"You do not want me to fire this, Admiral Sampson. It's a pulse rifle. It's not a bullet. I hit you anywhere, you die. Put up your weapon. No. In fact, Aeryn, take their guns." Aeryn easily obeyed this command, quickly freeing their guests of their weapons. "You'll get them when you return to the Shuttle." He lifted his own weapon, then holstered it again without looking. He turned back to D'Argo.
"Right. Put your blade away. And go and get Zhaan for me, will you?" D'Argo obeyed slowly. John turned back to see DK and his father staring at him with stunned, wounded eyes. He felt a pang of regret, but knew he'd done what he needed to. DK and Jack may be his family on earth. But for the past eight cycles, he'd been living with his other crew members. Fighting with and for them. It was a bond that was impossible to break. However he needed to explain that to DK and Jack.
"Aeryn, you wanna take them to the conference room for me?"
"John.." Aeryn said softly. He looked at her. She was holding her stomach, her eyes wide. "John, something's wrong." She sat on the floor hard.
"Shit!" He cried, dashing over. Her stomach was only slightly distended, even though she was in her 6th month. "What is it, Sundance?" He asked her, cupping her hand with his.
"There's something....moving." She whispered. "There!" She pulled his hand with hers to the side of her abdomen. "What's wrong with our baby?"
"Aeryn... It's just kicking." John said with relief.
"What?" She cried out.
"Kicking. You know, moving around in there. Getting comfortable."
"It's alive?" She was horrified. They were oblivious to the human's around them.
"Honey, it's a baby. Of course it's alive."
"What the frell have you done to me, Human?" She growled. John stopped and thought for a second, his mind moving rapidly.
"Aeryn, did you get any training, any information about breeding?" She shook her head, her eyes watching her stomach, her face growing green.
"It's natural." Jack said from above them. He squatted down behind his son, watching John's mate slowly turn from pale pink to sickly green. "Human babies are alive within the womb. They have a heartbeat within the first few months. They move and grow within you. Sleep and wake at times throughout the day."
"To a point. You did not know any of this?"
"I'd not had any training on the matter. I was a peacekeeper. I was not selected to breed." She looked back at John. "This is normal?"
"For humans, yes. It means Junior is doing just fine." He was grinning at Aeryn, pride stamped on his face.
"Junior?" She was unfamiliar with the term.
"Never mind. You okay, now?" He helped her stand. She nodded, then looked at the humans.
"This way." She jerked her head and marched out.
"DK! Dad. Hang on a second, will ya?" They waited as their team members strode out behind the dark haired alien. John counted a few microts, then turned to his best friend and father.
"I wanted to explain. About....back there." He waved his hand, indicating the stand off earlier.
"There's no need, John." His father told him.
"Yes, there is. You said it yourself. I've been gone for eight years. That's a long time in any one's book."
"What happened, John?" DK leaned against a golden wall.
"What hasn't happened? Too much. I'll tell everyone the entire story soon. But I wanted to explain. These people on Moya are my family now. We have been through much together and trust each other."
"Didn't look like trust to me." DK muttered.
"Maybe not, but we're family. Every family has an occasional spat. We just tend to have them more often than most. D'Argo is my brother. We grate each other, we annoy each other, but threaten him and you threaten me. As anyone threatening you or Dad would be threatening me. Look. I could have come straight down to earth and announced myself there. We did that last time we were here."
"What?" DK and Jack chorused.
"Not here, but on a simulated Earth. By the end of that time, my friends had been captured and experimented on. They'd killed and dissected Sparky. Done unspeakable things to the others and locked me up and refused anyone admission to me. It ended up that Aeryn and I were hunted down like Dr bloody Kimball. I decided not to risk that this time round. I didn't want my subconscious to be right. I wanted to make sure my family was safe."
"And we thank you for that, John." Pilot said softly from his image above the comms array. Moya dipped her lights in agreement.
"So you drew your weapon on us?" DK continued.
"It would have destroyed me to kill you. But I would have, to protect these people." He was firm.
"Since when have you gone about threatening people, John?" DK muttered.
"DK, you don't know the half of it. Truth to tell, I've lost count of the people I've had to kill to keep me from dying. Most of them peacekeepers."
"Peacekeepers? But, isn't your Aeryn one?" His father asked.
"As much as I wish it, she's not mine. She's her own self. And she was a peacekeeper until she met me."
"Fell in love at first sight, huh?" DK grinned.
"No. Fell in hate. Her superiors deemed her irreversibly contaminated and sentenced her to extermination."
"These peacekeepers?" Jack sounded doubtful.
"Don't let their name fool you. Think Nazi's and KGB rolled in to one. With a hell of a lot more fire power."
"So they sent her to her death for sleeping with you?" DK wanted the story.
"No. For talking to me for ten minutes. They decided that she was contaminated from one conversation. So when I was rescued, I took her with me. Couldn't have her die because she was kind to me. It took a while, but she eventually overcame her PK training. She's so much softer now than she was 8 cycles ago."
"Softer? You're kidding, right?" DK was grinning.
"I'm deadly serious. She was a cold hearted bitch when I first met her. But I've been giving her some lessons on humanity."
"It looks like you left out the sex ed, buddy." DK told his oldest friend.
"It wasn't a choice. I......raped her."
"John." His father uttered his name in a sickly voice.
"It wasn't my fault. I had no control." He looked from his father to his friend and back. Their jaws were clenched, eyes registering disgust.
"You think that excuses rape? I thought I taught you better."
"You did. It wasn't me. Or it was me, but not me, me. That doesn't make sense. Look, several years ago I was taken and tortured by a guy called Scorpius. He was truly insane. Days of pain you could never understand. Then I was rescued by Aeryn and the others. But Scorpius had put a....chip, if you will, into my brain. It was like he was always with me. He sent me crackers for a few cycles. But then I beat him. Or so I thought. Then, six months ago, he came back. He just walked into Moya and straight up to me and said three words. "I take you." That was it. All of a sudden, it was like I was sitting outside of myself. He'd somehow managed to take over my body. Possess it. He shot D'Argo. Beat the crap out of Zhaan, starved Rygel and notified Chiana's people of her where- abouts. Which is an horrific thing to do. Then he raped Aeryn with my body. She kept repeating, over and over, 'it's not you, John. It's not you.'" He collapsed against Moya's bulkhead, lost in the memory. "Over and over, he raped her. He was grinning and calling her Sundance. It's my name for her, you see. Everything he could do to make her think it was me. She knew it wasn't me. She knew who it was. But it was my face she saw.....My voice she heard. .....My......Excuse me." John turned around and heaved his guts up. He always had this response whenever he recalled those events. Zhaan was the only one who knew how it affected him. They'd shared Unity, to help her heal and to help him.
"John?" He felt his father touch his back.
"I'll be okay in a second." He leant his head against Moya, breathing deeply. Finally, he stood up, wiping his mouth.
"Sorry about that. It always happens when I think about what I...what Scorpius did."
"John." Zhaan said gently from the other side of the terrace. She came forward, her eyes searching his.
"I'm okay, Zhaan. Just a little queasy." Despite his reassurance, the Pa'u put her hand on his forehead, her eyes closing. He felt her rummaging around inside his mind, then felt the nausea ease.
"It is my pleasure, John." Zhaan smiled serenely at him. She turned to the two humans with her friend. "It is an honor to meet you, John's Father. And you, David." She bowed before them. "Many of John's memories of you are sweet and kind. I thank you for giving those to him." DK raised an eyebrow at the blue woman before him. She was very sensual, very serene. She rose to her full height. Very tall, too. "John, I think they want to talk to you now." She told her crew-mate. John nodded and strode out, the others following.
"Then we Starburst one last time, and ended up just outside of Jupiter. So ET called home, and got a response." At the end of his tale, there was silence. Rememberative silence from the Moya family. Stunned silence from the humans.
"I can't believe that after all that, you're still sane." DK expressed for all of them.
"There were times when we doubted his sanity ourselves." D'Argo grumbled. John just smiled at him.
"John has a very strong mind. His will power is to be congratulated. Many beings would have folded given what he has been through. It is testimony to his up bringing."
"And to our patience." Aeryn said, a slight smile on her face. There was a pause, then Admiral Sampson looked at the long lost human.
"What do you want, John?"
"I want to go home. Visit my friends. See Earth again. I want for my friends to see my home."
"I.....I'm not too sure you can do that John." Colonel Apran said slowly.
"I don't want to hear that." John declared, glaring at his old supervisor.
"Son, you have got to understand. We've just learnt that there's life out there. And not just bacterial life forms, but sentient, advanced life forms. With technology surpassing our own. We can't just blithely invite them to our planet and expect people to welcome them with open arms. There's going to be questions. A lot of questions. At least give us some time to educate the planet. Inform them of our discovery. Do a media blitz across the world."
"How long will that take?" Aeryn wanted to know.
"If we do it properly, you should be able to come down by Christmas."
"What month is it now?" John wanted to know.
"April." DK responded, then braced for the reaction.
"April! You want us to hang around up here for 8 months, while you do what?" He was yelling. "You tell the world you've had contact from the outer regions of space. Then you tell everyone that you believe that there is advanced life making contact with us. You go on, telling everyone about us until December, when we just appear. Well, you can take that idea and shove it-"
"John!" Zhaan berated him. John took a breath, but it didn't decrease his frustration.
"We'll give you two weekens. I won't go home without my friends. If you don't like that time-frame we'll head out now. We need to find their home planets anyway." He glared at the humans staring at him. "Two weekens. Then I'm outta here." He stormed out. There was a tense silence following his departure.
"Maybe I should..." Jack made a move to stand up. Aeryn shook her head.
"He needs time to himself right now. Pilot will watch out for him. But what he said is true, and we all agree. We can stay here for a maximum of four weekens. I believe you measure the time as 7 solar days."
"After that, Moya must leave. Her son will be waiting at Linos Station for her. She will not wait for us." Chiana told the human delegation.
"Her son?" Jennifer repeated, confused.I thought she was the ship?
" She is. Moya is a living ship, and she has a boy, Talyn. He and his pilot will be waiting for us there with some information on Zhaan's planet."
"The Gods willing." Zhaan breathed.
"Was he serious?" DK interrupted the conversation.
"About what, human?" Rygel narrowed his ear-brows.
"About leaving with you. Not staying here on Earth." There was another prolonged silence as the crew of Moya hesitated to answer.
"Yes. He will stay with us. He will not leave Aeryn or the child." D'Argo replied. "For all my brother is human, he does have a sense of duty and honor."
"Your brother?" Jack repeated, staring at the huge alien.
"We are bond-brothers." D'Argo said shortly, then closed his mouth. It was all he'd ever said on the subject.
"It is our meditation time at this point. Please, feel free to wander the ship. We must rest." Zhaan told their visitors, rising. The others followed her lead and walked out.
"Meditation time?" Aeryn sounded amazed. "Since when do I meditate, Zhaan?"
"Since about thirty microts ago, Aeryn Sun. Go, find John." Zhaan gave her a slight push to the right, and she left, heading for the terrace where she knew he'd be. He was sitting against one of communication array's leaning back and staring at the blue planet before Moya. Aeryn approached and sat down beside him silently. He didn't acknowledge her presence, but she knew he knew she was there. They both sat there, staring at his planet.
"I'd dream about it, you know?" He finally broke the silence. It made Aeryn jump slightly. "I'd come home with my friends and be welcomed back with open arms. Declared the hero of the piece, and ambassador to alien relations. Or some such title. We'd be drenched with glory and fame. And everything would be right." He was silent for a few more microts. "Why doesn't it ever go like you dreamed?"
"Probably because your mind is warped." Aeryn explained. She put a hand on his knee, squeezing softly. Generally she refrained from touching him, her memories of Scorpius altering her affections. "Give them time. I'm sure they'll come round. We can always come back later. Moya knows where to Starburst to now, so it's not like it's going to be a problem to return." John grunted in reply. Then she said "Look, I'm going to bed.....When you've....finished thinking....I'd like some company. Not sex. Just ......"
"A body to sleep next to. I'll be there in an arn." John smiled at the Earth, knowing Aeryn would see it. He was thrilled and apprehensive that she had invited him, but knew that he needed to control himself before he joined her. She left, as quietly as she'd arrived. He continued his study of earth, slowly orbiting in front of him.
"John. How long have you been in here for?" John heard his father say, and looked up to see Jack crouching down to the side of him, his face frowning in concern.
"A few arns." He replied absently.
"Sorry. An arn is about 40 minutes, as far as I can measure it. Probably two hours."
"What have you been doing?" Jack sat beside his son.
"Looking at the big blue ball of water down there." He pulled his knees up and cuddled them close, resting his chin on his hands.
"What about it?" Jack watched his son.
"I've been wanting to come home for so long now. Now that I am, I don't know what to do."
"Son.......Why don't you tell me what's happened to you?"
"I already did." John jerked his head in the direction of the room they'd held the meeting in.
"I don't mean that. I meant, what's happened to *you*." His son stared at him for a long time, judging him.
"For the past eight years, I've been tortured, driven insane several times. Abandoned, killed, left at deaths door and generally fought for my life thousands of times. I've been alienated, alone and lonely for all of that. My friends are my family. But they're still alien. I've yet to fully understand them. I don't think I ever will. Throughout all of that, my major goal, all of our major goals have been to get home. To find our planets again and come home. I'm the first one to have been that lucky. But now that I'm here....I don't think I can leave Moya. Not permanently. She's my home now. More so than anywhere else." He looked down to Earth, then back at his father. "I will leave again, Dad. But I want to visit earth. See home. Friends. Eat chocolate. But if your government won't accept my friends, then I won't come down. I'll leave." They both heard that John referred to the politicians as Jack's government. Not John's. Not anymore.
"Is that a threat?"
"I'm not bluffing, Dad. I mean it. Without an invitation for Rygel and D'Argo and Zhaan and everyone else, I'm not coming home."
"You've changed, John." Jack observed. John snorted.
"Dad, you have no idea how much." John stood up suddenly. "I'm hitting the sack now. Talk to the Admiral. Go over her head if you have to. But I won't come home without my friends." He left Jack sitting on Moya's terrace, staring out at the vista before him.
The Joint heads of the United Nations sat stunned as they watched the television screen. In front of them was tangible proof that life did exist beyond their galaxy. Existed and thrived and was beyond Earth's own technological advances, by the looks of the weapons and equipment in front of them. Admiral Sampson stood at attention to one side, looking back at the Joint heads. She'd already seen this video. Hell, she'd seen these people for real, up above the moon. It still stunned her to think that she had been up there, in an alien craft, talking to other species from other planets.
"Admiral." The English Head spoke up after the video ended. His voice was hoarse with shock. "Admiral, can you confirm all of this?"
"Yes, sir. One week ago, myself and some other IASA members traveled in the Challenger to just beyond the moon's orbit. There we docked with a larger space-craft, which the inhabitants referred to as Moya. Inside was Commander John Crichton and several....other species of life forms. All intelligent. All with the ability to understand us.
Commander Crichton has requested permission for his craft to approach Earth's orbit and detach a smaller craft so that he and his....friends can visit our planet. I have told him that we will have an answer for him within the next 72 hours. That was 24 hours ago."
"You've given us two days to decide?" The Chinese Head yelled, forgetting that his translator was not on.
"Yes, I have, sir." Sampson replied without thinking. Before being injected with the translator virus, Jennifer had no other language but English. She now not only understood alien languages, but the varied Earth- bound languages as well.
"You understood him?" The American Head asked, stunned.
"While I was on board the alien space-craft, I was injected with what they called translator-microbes. This so far has had no effect other than to allow me to understand any language spoken. I cannot speak the language, but I can understand what is being said."
"You have alien technology? You brought un-tested alien technology back to earth with you?" The Russian stood up, his eyes wide with horror.
"I had no choice, sir. Commander Crichton has informed us that if we do not make a decision, and soon, he and the ship will leave the moon and never return. I believed that the implied risk that I am contaminated is minimal when weighed against the possibility of loosing contact just when we have confirmation that life does exist. I took that risk."
"It was not up to you, Admiral." The English Head growled.
"I have remained in isolation since landing back on Earth. Tests have been done to isolate the microbe and develop a copy. Today is the first day that I have been released from isolation. However, the IASA researchers and medical staff believe there is no danger. They believe that the microbes have done their work, and will not re-produce or affect me in any other way." Jennifer remained silent as they absorbed all the information she had presented. There was a lot of whispering and small conferencing going on. Finally, they turned back to her.
"Admiral, in the course of your career with IASA, surely there was some sort of mock up of what would happen when we finally made contact." The Chinese Head spoke softly.
"Yes there was. We made several scenario's. We have approximately three that would fit these circumstances."
"And what do they tell you to do?" The French Head asked.
"Most of them tell us to blow them apart." Jennifer smiled sadly. "In all our theories, we believed the aliens to be hostile. We never believed that they could be friendly, or even ex-earth."
"Ex-earth?" Several Heads repeated.
"Commander Crichton is not coming home to stay, sirs. He is visiting. He has a mate on board. He will be staying with the aliens. He merely wishes to establish contact with earth for visitation rights."
"So. Obviously we can't blow them up." The American sounded disappointed.
"No, sir. They are friendly. And they may have technologies that can help us. Can I speak frankly?" Jennifer asked them at large. The English Head nodded.
"We should invite them down. Send out media releases with this video and warn the people of the world. No, not warn. Announce their presence. Don't give the people a reason to panic. There is none. If we give the media a week to drum up support for John's return home, that should be enough time. Perhaps get him involved in interviews from Moya. That sort of thing will help bring the populace around to thinking that these people aren't hostile. They're friends. Think Ewoks." There were smiles from some of the faces around her. "I'll have a word to John and General Crichton. Perhaps they can suggest some other ways to help reassure the people. But I think we would be na´ve and very short-visioned if we turned away this opportunity because of an ingrown fear of the unknown. We have to show these people our trust. We have to give them free-reign. I believe they are trustworthy." More conferencing, more whispered talks. Then the German head looked at Jennifer and nodded.
"Let us know when you intend to start the media blitz." Jennifer nodded, saluted and turned to exit the chamber. Walking out to see Colonel Apran and DK waiting impatiently, she smiled and put her thumbs up. DK grinned, Colonel Apran smiled and nodded.
"I am sick of doing frelling interviews!" John cried, shutting down the comms array.
"You wanted to visit, John." Rygel told the human, hovering near him.
"Yes, but this is so time consuming."
"A couple more arns, John. Then we can start the approach." Zhaan comforted him. He grunted in reply. The latest interview was from the CNN. They were wanting to know why Moya hadn't started to approach Earth yet. CNN had been told that they were arriving on planet-side tomorrow. Mike Coupos had asked John if they'd changed their minds. If they weren't coming any more. He couldn't believe that the distance between here and earth was so minor for Moya that it would take her an arn at the most to make the trip. They were about to learn.
"Now, guys. You know that there's going to be a heap-big media frenzy when we first land, right?" John looked from D'Argo to Aeryn and back again. They were the two he was most worried about. They all nodded.
"Lots of primitive image captures."
"And a dren of questions." D'Argo finished. John flushed. Perhaps he'd been over this a few too many times.
"Relax, John!" Zhaan urged once more. John nodded again.
"John, can I have a word?" Aeryn asked, cocking her head. The others left abruptly, without another word. They were all hoping that Aeryn would let John off the hook soon. The tension between those two was palpable. John waited, wondering what she wanted this time. He'd gone to her bed a weeken ago, offering his warmth and comfort. And she had taken it. Curled up beside him for several arns, getting some much needed sleep. But in the morning, nothing had changed. And so it had been for the past weeken. He would hold her at night, giving her warmth and company. Then, she would be cold to him by morning.
"What is it, Aeryn?"
"I.....I wanted to apologize....for the way I've treated you these past months. I know it wasn't you. I realize that you had no control over what Scorpius did with your body. In my mind, I knew that. But when you touched me, or tried to kiss......It would come rushing back. I've been talking with Zhaan this past few weekens, trying to sort it all out in my mind." She fell silent. John just watched her, not moving. Barely even breathing.
"This morning, she found the trigger."
"John, I'm a warrior. I've been taught to cut myself off from that kind of torment. While he was raping me, I wasn't there. I'd gone into what Zhaan would call hibernation. My mind had retreated to a point where I couldn't feel or notice what was being done. But Scorpius understood that. He had been with the peacekeepers a long time. He managed to insert a trigger of sorts in my mind, so that when you touched me, I would get a flash back from then. From how he thought I would have reacted if I hadn't been trained to withdraw my mind. This morning Zhaan found that trigger and removed it." John was frowning at her.
"Aeryn, I don't understand what you're trying to tell me."
"Give me your hand." Aeryn instructed John. He held out his hand to the Sebacian, palm up. Aeryn placed her hand on his, her eyes shut. "Before, whenever you touched me, my body would feel every moment of the rape. Every bruise he inflicted. Every tear and cut into my body."
"Now?" John breathed.
"I just feel you." She smiled. The smile that was so rare and shy on her face, that he'd only seen it a few times.
"This......is a good thing, right?" John looked at her askance.
"Yes." Aeryn took a very deep breath, shaking herself a little to gain courage. This was harder than she thought it would be. "Half a cycle ago you asked me to be your....wife I think was the word you used. I told you then that I could never be your mate."
"I remember, Aeryn. Trust me, you don't need to remind me." The rejection was still bitter in his mouth. "Don't worry about that. I'm perfectly content to leave things where they are...." He grinned boyishly. "Or rather, where they were before Scorpy turned up."
"I'm not." Aeryn told him sharply. "I don't want to be your lover." John thought his heart was breaking. It felt like it. His chest was caving in, and he couldn't breathe. He stared at Aeryn, stunned beyond words.
"I want something more permanent." She continued. "This babe will not be born illegitimate, do you understand, Crichton? I want my child to have all the benefits of parents. Two of them." John was paralysed with fear. He hoped like hell that what he was hearing was what she was saying. Because it sounded as though she wanted to marry him.
"Before this child is born, I want to have an official ceremony. There's no way I'm letting you off the hook here, Crichton. You are going to bond with me, if I have to beat you up and tie you down to do it. Do you understand me?" She glared at him, her eyes flashing. He nodded mutely. The power of speech eluded him once more. But he figured he didn't need language. He grabbed her and kissed her. That got the message across nicely. He didn't even need translator microbes.
"You owe me thirty of them, Rygel." D'Argo growled to the Hyperian. Rygel was muttering under his breath, counting out rat-bars very slowly.
"You would bet on something like this, Rygel." Zhaan said softly.
"How was I to know that she'd go and demand to bond with him?" Rygel complained, handing over the last rat-bar.
"From their history, Rygel. You're supposed to learn from history." Chiana purred at the small little alien. "Oh, sorry. I forgot. Your Imperial Highness knows everything. He doesn't need to learn anything else."
"That's right, and don't any of you forget it!" Rygel thrust his non- existent chin in the air and floated out of the room, much to everyone's delight. They could now laugh freely. Finally, they sobered.
"Are you alright with this, Chiana?" Zhaan asked the grey woman quietly.
"Me? Fine! Big brother's got a mate. And he's home. It's good. I'm fine, Zhaan. Really." Zhaan watched Chiana for a minute longer, then nodded, content.
The amount of people gathered below the shuttle was staggering. Aeryn held it at an angle, watching as the crowd below swelled and surged towards them.
"Ah, John?" She called, watching as bright flashes erupted from the crowd. The space where they were supposed to land was rapidly decreasing in size. Soon, they'd be landing on people, rather than beside them.
"Frell." John muttered. He put the radio up to his lips. "Colonel? Anyone out there? We can't land with these people all over the place." There was a rattle followed by a hiss of noise.
"We realize that, John. We're working on the problem." It sounded like Apran, but with the background noise, he couldn't tell for sure.
"Give it a few microts, Aeryn. Meanwhile, surely we could give them something to watch. Go over there." He pointed off to the left slightly. "Maybe they'll follow." Aeryn turned their shuttle with a deft twist and shot it over to the water beside the landing site. They hovered above the water, then suddenly dipped down, submerging themselves. Up they came again, and noticed that it had worked. The majority of the press had surged over to the shore.
"Go, Aeryn!" Aeryn nodded absently, already directing the shuttle back to the landing field. She put it down quickly, all of them holding comment on the thud and jerk of the landing. The door opened automatically, the ramp appearing easing down to touch the grass covered field. John took a deep breath of air, inhaling all the scent's he'd missed so much over the past few cycles. Then he looked at his friends.
"Every one ready for this?" They nodded back and he stepped onto the ramp, closing his eyes slightly at the glare of flashing bulbs and lit camera's. A plethora of questions assaulted him, then there was abrupt silence. John looked back to see his friends standing on the ramp, holding the press' attention raptly. D'Argo was dressed in his usual red and leather. Zhaan was a serene blue beside him. Rygel was hovering close to Chiana, who was staring out in obvious curiosity. Aeryn was standing behind them, holding back slightly. John felt a sudden surge of mischief, and turned back to the press, grinning.
"Take me to your leader." He bellowed when he had the press' attention back on him. There was a stunned silence, then several of the gallery started to chuckle. Soon, everyone had gotten the joke and was laughing. He smiled back, then held up his hands again. Slowly, the laughing quietened.
"There's a scheduled press conference, as I'm sure you're all aware. But right now, we have places to be. So please, give us some space." He flashed the grin again. "Pun intended." The crowd moved off slowly, still taking imagery of the aliens and trying a few questions out on John. He didn't answer. Without warning, Jack was before him, grinning that same grin.
"Welcome home, Son!" He enthused, then embraced his son.
"Commander John Crichton returned to America last month, eight years after his mysterious disappearance during the Farscape test flight. With him, he brought back evidence of the existence of alien life-forms. We have all seen and heard the interviews he has conducted from his space craft orbiting Earth. We have seen his return to his family, and his marriage to the alien, Aeryn Sun. Today, we say good bye once again to Commander Crichton and his alien friends." The reporters' face disappeared from screen, and John's face appeared, grinning from ear to ear.
"We're boldly going where no man has gone before. To free the galaxy from the clutches of Darth Peacekeeper Vader. Oh, and to get these guys home again. Danger, danger Will Robinson!" John was laughing by this time. The reporter came back onto the screen, visibly suppressing a smile.
"Commander John Crichton, humor notwithstanding, would like to thank the people of this planet for their kind welcome and enthusiastic acceptance of his friends." John's face appeared once more.
"I just want to thank you all for proving a popular misconception wrong. We are a welcoming race and deserve to be proud of that. Oh, and after this? I expect there to be no more bloody racist/sexist or anything -ist feelings, got that? Oh, and just one more thing.... Hasta la vista, baby and I'll be back." The last was said in a low voice, with a slight accent. Finally, there was an image of the alien shuttle leaving it's landing field, heading rapidly out of sight, taking the ex-American and his friends back to Moya and away from earth.
"Now, for the weather. Los Angeles today experienced a rapidly developing high, that caused snow to fall in the higher regions of the Beverly Hills........."
"So, when do we come back?" John asked Aeryn, settling down beside her.
"I'd say in about six months." Aeryn said quietly, watching as the blue planet they'd spent the last month on disappeared from view. Moya was waiting until they'd cleared the major planets before star bursting.
"Why so soon?"
"Because I figured Jack would like to meet his grandchild." Aeryn leant against John, her head on his shoulder. John felt his body warm at that idea, and curled an arm around her shoulders, bringing her in closer.
"You're probably right."
"I know I'm right."
"Right." They were both grinning, both looking out to space. Finally, both happy.
"We'll be back." Aeryn tried to imitate John imitating Arnold Schwarzeneggar. John cracked up laughing at the effort.
"We will." He looked up to where Pilot was waiting patiently for his go ahead to starburst.
"Any time Moya's ready, Pilot."
"Thank you John. Please hold on to something."
"Already am." He clung tighter to Aeryn and watched as the light gathered at the front. "It really is pretty, isn't it."
"Uhuh." Aeryn snuggled closer. "Love....." The rest was lost in starburst.