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
DK walked back to the lounge. The rest of the crew had returned to their workstations, where they were busy doing anything but work. They were mostly speculating on what Crichton had experienced, and what crime--if any-- he was sent to prison for.
DK cleared his throat as he walked into the lounge, and said “It took some doing, but Mission Control said they will arrange the transmission and phone call to the UN. They act like they still think this is an April Fool’s prank. It would have been easier to convince them if you agreed to talk to them, John. As it was, they insisted on video shots of the Farscape module. They’re full of questions about the modifications that I can’t answer. And, what did you mean about not going to another prison?” DK asked. He wasn’t sure if he knew his friend anymore.
“Yeah, well, it’s part of why I don’t want to talk to anyone from Mission Control until I’ve talked to the UN. Like I said, a lot of races don’t trust ‘half-breeds’ --I hate that word-- and I don’t want anything to happen to Katie.” John paused, as if he would say more, but decided against telling DK of the experiences on the false Earth. John was sure DK would believe the part about the Ancients creating a replica of Earth from John’s memories, and even an alien assuming the shape of his father, but DK would not believe the human’s treatment of Aeryn, D’Argo, and especially Rygel. DK hadn’t seen the same things John has, and just wouldn’t accept the possibility that the same fate could await both John and Katie.
“You’re different, John. You’re not the same man I knew,” DK said quietly.
“Yeah, people can change a lot in nine years, especially if they’ve been shot through a wormhole and--and been through what I’ve been through.”
“Why don’t you tell us about it over coffee. We usually take a coffee break about this time. Katie can have some hot chocolate.”
“Did you say coffee? I haven’t had a cup since before I left! What do you say, princess, want something to drink?” John looked at his daughter, who only nodded.
John and Katie walked to the dining room hand-in-hand behind DK. All but Uta Langwier and Sven Johannsen were already seated. Toshi was still speculating. “Maybe they’ll be sent to Area 51, you know, where the Roswell aliens are.”
“Oh, shut up, Toshi!” Sarah said. “No wonder they’re seeking asylum – too many jerks like you in this country!”
“I’m not saying I want to see it happen! Look, in 1942 my grandparents were sent to Topaz and Manzanar, just because they were Nissei. FDR signed a document sending all Japanese-Americans to “internment” camps – prisons! Up and down the West Coast, Issei and Nissei were rounded up and sent to prisons; the government confiscated their real estate, and the neighbors stole anything they could get their hands on, just because they looked different. Can you name one internment camp that held German-Americans or Italian-Americans during World War II? You can’t, because it didn’t happen. My grandparents were locked up because they looked different, but they were still human. What do you think the government is going to do to someone who isn’t all human?”
“That is the question of the day,” John said as he walked in. Katie looked scared.
“Commander Crichton, Katie. Look, I didn’t mean to say anything to scare you. I’m on your side, I don’t want you to…” Toshi was rambling.
“Relax, Dr. Nakahara. It’s nothing I haven’t wondered myself. That’s why we need asylum.” John reassured the young astronaut.
“Well, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to,” DK said, and mentally tried to figure out many rations they still had on board.
“Thanks, man. Hey, you promised us coffee and hot chocolate!” John said to lighten the mood. DK prepared and dispensed the drinks. He watched his old friend savor the aroma of the coffee and drink it slowly. Katie sipped her hot chocolate only after it had cooled considerably, but she obviously enjoyed this new beverage.
The prodigal astronaut smiled ecstatically, simply from having coffee again. “Of course, you miss your family and friends. That hurts like nothing else. But it’s the little things, too. The aroma of roast turkey at Thanksgiving, the scent of freshly cut grass in the summer, the sound of leaves crunching under your feet in the fall, the first snowfall in winter. When I experience those things, I’ll know I’m home. And when I have a beer. Make that a deluxe pizza and a six-pack of beer. And ice cream for dessert!”
“We don’t have ice cream on board, but how about some chocolate, John? I’ve got some Hershey bars left.” Toshi said.
“You mean you’ve been hoarding them! I’m all out, I can’t wait for a supply shuttle,” Uta said as she walked in. “You better have an extra one for me, too,” she joked.
Toshi produced a chocolate bar and gave it to her. “Thanks for joining us, finally!”
“Hey, someone has to make sure this rust bucket stays in orbit,” she said laughingly.
John grinned again. “Chocolate, that’s home, too.” John turned to Katie and said “If you liked hot chocolate, you’re gonna love chocolate bars. It is just great-- even scientists call it ‘theobroma,’ ‘food of the gods.’”
Toshi handed a bar to each visitor. Katie looked at the bar from different angles, and watched her father. She unwrapped the bar, imitating her father. She waited until her father had taken a bite, then she took a small bite. Father and daughter smiled at each other over their candy bars. Katie took a second, much bigger bite.
“Daddy, I take back what I said about humans being primitive. It would take a truly advanced civilization to create something so wonderful. Thank you, Dr. Nakahara!”
“Don’t thank me – thank Milton Hershey.”
“I will do that,” she said, quite seriously.
“I’m curious to hear about everything you’ve been through, Commander Crichton,” Uta said in her slight German accent. “Do you think you can tell us now?”
Before John could begin, Katie asked “Daddy, why do they keep calling you ‘commander’ when you’re a general?” This got everyone’s attention.
“TMI, Katie,” John said quietly, so only Katie could hear. “Next time, speak Sebacean.” ‘TMI’ was short for ‘too much information.’ John had warned his daughter about offering too much information too soon.
“General Crichton? *General* Crichton? That explains the order to ‘arrange it,’ I guess. What the hell happened out there?” DK demanded.
“OK, kids, grab a bowl of popcorn, ‘cause this’ll take some time,” John said as he lifted Katie onto his lap. “Well, the radiation wave opened up a wormhole, and I went through it. When I came out on the other side, I was in Peacekeeper territory, smack in the middle of a prison ship escape attempt. I had a near miss with one of the Prowlers (when a Stealth fighter dreams, it dreams of being a Prowler) that was intercepting Moya (that’s a leviathan, a living ship); that pilot then crashed into an asteroid. Without a trial, the pilot’s brother, the CO of the carrier, declared me guilty of murder. The convicts had pulled the Farscape on board the leviathan. I couldn’t understand anything they said until they injected me with translator microbes. When they realized I wasn’t a PK or even Sebacean (our two species are identical on the outside, but there are some physiological differences on the inside), they threw me in a cell. When I woke up, there was a pilot in the cell with me. The *radiant* Aeryn Sun. Her Prowler had been pulled along with Moya when we starburst. Aeryn and I escaped to a commerce planet together, but when she tried to turn me in to her Commanding Officer, she was declared ‘irreversibly contaminated’ and condemned to death when she said I was ‘neither brave enough nor smart enough’ to have intentionally killed the Prowler pilot. We escaped again (this time with D’Argo) and joined the crew of Moya. And then my troubles began.” John said sardonically, and answered the flurry of questions that followed. John explained starburst and translator microbes, things that he had taken for granted after close to a decade in the UT’s. He described his shipmates, gave a sketch of being on the run from the PK’s, and how he came to be the most wanted criminal in the UT-- by virtue of being unique: a human with knowledge of wormholes buried in his subconscious. The crew asked more questions, until there was only one question they wouldn’t let go of.
“Tell us about Katie’s mother” DK said quietly
“Well, that is truly a long story,’ John said with a sigh. “The Cliff’s Notes version is: Katralla and I met on the Royal Planet one day, got married the next day, and were quickly expecting a baby.” John left out that Katralla was a princess whose DNA had been poisoned, leaving John the only genetically compatible man to father her children; that he married her because it was better than being handed over to Scorpius or seeing her brother assume the throne and destroy the empire; or that they didn’t even need him there for the conception.
“Go, Johnny boy!” DK said as he slapped John on the back. “I just wish I was there to stand up for you!” DK was happy for his friend, finding love even when he was being pursued across the galaxy. “Well, where is Katralla now? You know Jack’s going to want to meet her! It’s too bad the Farscape isn’t big enough for three.”
“My mommy was killed when the Nebari attacked the Royal Planet” Katie said. She was uncomfortable whenever anyone discussed Katralla or Tyno extensively, and she knew that this usually ended the discussion. Katie felt responsible for her mother’s death, for when the Nebari attacked the palace on the Royal Planet, it damaged the statues of Katralla and Tyno so badly that the doctors decided to reanimate them long enough to treat them. Because human DNA can’t be made into a statue twice, Katralla had not wanted to risk losing the child she carried by undergoing the process again. Tyno had also refused, so he could be with Katralla, and keep his promise to John Crichton to “look after his little girl.”
DK looked at Toshi. “Damn, your hoof-in-mouth disease is catching.” DK turned back to John. “I’m sorry for you loss.”
John nodded silently, and hugged Katie closer.