Wayward astronaut John Crichton returns home after almost a decade away
from Earth, and brings his daughter. Insert your favorite disclaimer here.
Also, my only knowledge of any space program comes from re-runs of “I
Dream of Jeannie,” so don’t expect a lot of verisimilitude. Just suspend
Spoilers: Anything up to “A Clockwork Nebari” may appear here, everything
after that is sheer speculation.
Later. The Docking Bay of the ISS.
The Space Station crew stood in a half-circle, overcome with curiosity.
DK was trying to check out as many of the Fascape modifications as possible,
when the cockpit opened up. DK was even more curious about John’s daughter.
‘Would she look human? Just what are Sebaceans and what do they look like,
anyway?’ DK thought to himself as John climbed out of the cockpit. DK
was initially surprised that John was not wearing his IASA issue flight
suit, until he realized that it wouldn’t have lasted almost ten years.
Instead, his childhood friend was dressed like a biker: black leather
boots, black leather pants, black leather jacket, and a black helmet.
John took off his helmet, revealing his gaunt face, now with a few more
lines and wrinkles, but more startling was the strange tattoo on his right
cheek. In addition, John’s hair had a hint of gray at the temples. John
smiled, but didn’t approach the crew. DK and the others were apprehensive
as well. Each waved or made other welcoming gestures, but remained where
they stood. John then turned back to the Farscape and lifted his young
daughter out of the module. Her clothing was akin to John’s, and she wore
a striking necklace, although it was obviously too big for a child’s necklace
– perhaps it was her mother’s, DK thought. She definitely looked human.
When she removed her helmet, DK saw two light brown braids fall to her
back. DK also noticed a similar tattoo on Katie’s right cheek. Katie stayed
near her father, and looked at the others with a mixture of fear and curiosity.
John took her hand, and together they walked towards the ISS crew.
“John! It’s really you – I can’t believe it!” DK said as he ran towards
the new arrivals. DK ran to John and gave him a bear hug. He continued:
“You have to tell me everything! Where did you end up? What have you been
doing? Tell me about Katie’s mother! Is that tattoo some kind of family
DK would have continued his torrent of questions but for Katie’s sharp
laughter and comment. If DK and the others had translator microbes, they
would have heard Katie say “’Family markings’? Daddy, what the yotz is
he talking about? Hasn’t he seen Scarren prison inventory notation before,
or does he just have dren for brains?” Instead, the ISS crew heard an
odd combination of clicks. They were amazed that John understood this
language at all. John put his hand on Katie’s shoulder and said “Katie,
watch your language. No, he hasn’t, and no, he doesn’t.” John, turned
back to DK, smiled proudly and said “DK, I’d like you to meet my daughter,
Kathryn Katralla Crichton. She’s seven cycles – years – old. Katie, this
is my good friend, DK.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Katie,” DK said. He extended his hand to
Katie, then hesitated. Katie reached up and shook his hand. “Very nice
to meet you, DK,” she said shyly in English.
“I’m sorry if I said anything to upset you, Katie. I’m just so happy to
see your Dad again, that I didn’t realize what I was saying,” DK said
“I understand,” the waif-like girl said quietly. She remembered how she
felt when she first saw her father in the Scarren death camp. She had
been there almost two monens; it had taken her father that long to track
her whereabouts after she had been captured by Scarren agents. She was
so happy to see General, Lord Crichton (she didn’t know yet that he was
her real father) that she couldn’t stop asking questions – until the overseer
threw her father across the holding cell. He still has a scar on his cheek
to show for it.
“If it’s alright with you, we’d like to freshen up, you know, use the
DK, still in shock over seeing his friend after so many years, said “Of
course. I’ll show you to the facilities. We’ll make the rest of the introductions
A few minutes later, in the lounge.
The Crichton family walked into the lounge, a sparsely decorated utilitarian
room with hard chairs and tables. DK acted as host, and introduced the
crew: “John, allow me to present Uta Langwier, from Germany; Toshi Nakahara,
from California; Sven Johannsen, from Sweden; Jamie Mackenzie, from Scotland,
and last but not least, Sarah Comiski, from Chicago.” John and Katie shook
each of their hands in turn. “So, this is truly an international crew
– that’s great. Dad must be so proud of IASA and the ISS.” DK thought
John sounded wistful when he talked of his father. They continued to make
small talk until curiosity overcame Toshi. “So, Commander Crichton, please
tell us about your adventures on the other side of the universe!” the
young astronaut said brightly.
“Later. I’d like to talk to my father first – is there any way to talk
to him from here?”
“We already contacted Mission Control and told them about you, so IASA
has recalled Jack to the Space Center in Florida. He should be there in
an hour, give or take, and you can talk to him then.”
“You already talked to Mission Control,” John repeated slowly, almost
with dread in his voice, “When? --When we were freshening up.” DK couldn’t
help but feel that he had let John down somehow when he heard his tone
Katie’s sad eyes grew wide with fear. John put an arm around his daughter
and pulled her closer.
“Of course – it’s standard operating procedure – you know that,” DK answered,
“Did you tell them about Katie?” John asked slowly, trying not to show
“Well, yeah, John. Why wouldn’t I?” replied DK.
John was getting impatient. “What did Mission Control have to say?”
“They thought it was a gag at first. You see this is down time for us.
We’ve lost some funding, that’s why we’re down to a skeleton crew. Truth
is, we’re only here because IASA can’t afford to send a shuttle to either
bring us home, or bring up another project for us to work on. We’ve kind
of being playing practical jokes to kill the time, and, oh, hell” DK stopped.
How could he tell his friend that IASA lost credibility, and subsequently
funding, ever since the Farscape incident? If it weren’t for long-term
contracts that were signed before the incident, IASA would have almost
“They told us to determine if it really was you, and see if you posed
any threat, whatever that means,” DK finished.
Katie looked up to her father and spoke in Sebacean, “Daddy? Are they
going to arrest us? I don’t want to go to prison again.” There were tears
in her eyes, and the space station crew didn’t need a translation to understand
the fear in her voice.
John picked Katie up and spoke soothingly. “We’re not going to another
prison. No one is going to hurt you ever again, not if I have anything
to say about it.” John turned to DK, and spoke forcefully, “I need to
speak to the Secretary General of the United Nations immediately.”
DK recognized an order when he heard it, and wondered how John had come
to give them so easily. “I don’t know if I can,” he said.
“Arrange it.” John said, curtly.
DK tried to explain “John, we only have direct communication with IASA
mission control – all communications must be sent through either Houston
or Cocoa Beach. It’s not as simple as picking up a phone! And even if
it were, I don’t think the UN Secretary-General’s phone number is listed
in the phone book. Did you say you weren’t going to another prison? When
were you in prison?”
John ignored the questions. “Contact Mission Control, and have them arrange
the phone call. It’s important. I need to request political asylum for
Katie and myself. I have reason to believe that our civil and human rights
will be violated if we try to land in American territory.”