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
The Next Day, in the Dining Room of the International Space Station.
Everyone was in the dining room. DK again acted as host, asking “so, what’s your pleasure: freeze-dried turkey, or freeze-dried meatloaf?”
Katie wrinkled her nose, and said “Daddy, can we just have some of the food cubes we brought?”
“Food cubes?” the crew asked in unison.
“Standard Peacekeeper rations. Think of tofu, but without all the flavor” John explained, jokingly. “I know the choices really don’t sound appealing, but they are better than food cubes. Well, at least they’re different,” he said to Katie. To DK, he said, “we’ll take the turkey.”
DK prepared the dinners, and John got the drinks. DK realized that John had a lot of scars on his face, not just the ordinary lines of a man his age.
As they were eating, Sven Johannsen said “Peace Keeper? I didn’t know you were in the military, much less on a Peace Keeping mission, Commander Crichton.”
Katie dropped her fork, stood up, and shouted, “You take that back! My father was never a Peacekeeper, much less a PK commander! In fact, he blew up the secret Gammak base where the PK’s were developing biological weapons--”
“Katie, calm down.” John said, cutting her off. He put an arm around her shoulder. “On Earth, there is an organization called the United Nations. They organize something called Peacekeeping missions, where they try to either end a war peacefully or prevent a war from starting up. It’s different from the PK’s on the other side of the universe. Dr. Johannssen wasn’t in the room yesterday when I explained about the PK’s. He wasn’t trying to insult anyone,” John said soothingly.
Katie, embarrassed, looked at her father and bit her lip. She turned back to the astronaut and said: “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but I misunderstood you. I’m still learning human, I mean English. I’m very sorry.”
“Apology accepted,” said Dr. Johannsen. “And I apologize to you for bringing up some bad memories.”
“Thank you,” said Katie.
“Sounds like you’ve got some good war stories, John, or should I say General Crichton?” Toshi was laughing as he spoke. “C’mon, tell us about one of your victories. Just one good war story!”
“There’s no such thing as a good war story,” John said tersely as he stood up. John didn’t want to think about the two wars he had fought in. The Alliance was victorious in the first, but was still fighting the second war. John just wanted to be on Earth with his family, but he and Katie were stuck on the ISS while the UN tried to find a country that would grant them asylum. He was getting worried that coming home had been a mistake. What if no one granted asylum? There wasn’t enough power in the Farscape to create another wormhole by itself; he’d need help if he wanted to go back to the Territorial Alliance. John thought nothing could be worse than being tormented by the replica of Scorpius implanted in his brain, but he was wrong. The constant worry of keeping Katie hidden from Scarren assassins followed by a possible threat from his fellow humans was almost as painful. John said: “Excuse me, I think I’ll stretch my legs. Katie, stay with your Uncle DK.” Katie nodded.
“Aw, just one story – like, how’d you get that scar over your eye?”
Sarah kicked Toshi under the table and said “Toshi, stop it. Can’t you see he doesn’t want to talk about it?”
“Well, we’ve all been up here so long that we’ve heard all of our own stories at least three times, I just thought it would be nice to hear a new one for a change.”
Katie wanted to make up for her earlier outburst, so she spoke up. “My Daddy has lots of stories, but he never tells them. You have to ask Uncle D’Argo or Auntie Chiana or Uncle Rygel. Auntie Zhaan tells stories too, but they always have a moral.” Katie’s smile brightened. “D’Argo tells the best ones, because he is a Luxan warrior.” Katie was really warming to her subject now. “Like, this one time Daddy killed a keedva without any weapons at all! The keedva had already killed a lot of miners on the budong, and it was going to kill Daddy. My Daddy is really brave. And this other time, Daddy killed Cragen, a Scarren who had tried to kill Daddy three or four times already and then he (Cragen, not Daddy) kidnapped Auntie Chiana and held her hostage. Do you know how hard it is to kill a Scarren? They are stronger than Luxans, who are stronger than Sebaceans, who are stronger than humans. And their skin is so thick that you can’t kill them with a pulse pistol, not even if you shot them point blank, so even if Daddy had a weapon, it wouldn’t have done him any good.” Katie didn’t notice that everyone had stopped eating, and that all eyes were on her. Katie played with the necklace.
“Daddy says that his brain is his best weapon. Just give him enough time, and he can come up with a plan for anything. But he’s just being modest. He can really kick eema—you should have seen him fight Scorpius! And Daddy said he didn’t even have a plan then.”
“Go on, Katie, this is some good stuff. How did your daddy kick this Scorpius guy’s ‘eema’?” Toshi coaxed. Sarah glared at him. Sven was looking up ‘eema’ in his English-Swedish dictionary, and shrugged his shoulders when he couldn’t find it. DK sat in disbelief, agonizing over everything his best friend had gone through. DK didn’t know the half of it.
Katie frowned again. “But you have to follow his plans. People who don’t follow Daddy’s plans get killed, like my mommy, Tyno and Miss Jenavian.” Katie remembered how her mother and the man she thought was her father had been killed when she was only four. General, Lord Crichton had warned the Empress of the possibility of a second, deadlier, Nebari attack on the city, and suggested that they evacuate the palace immediately. Grandmama, the Empress, had insisted that the Royal Family wait in the palace until they knew for certain if the attack would take place or not. ‘It would be good for the morale of the people,’ she declared. ‘The only flaw with your plan, Empress, is that by the time you realize the attack is going to take place, it will be taking place, and that is too late!’ General, Lord Crichton countered. He was the only one who dared talk to Grandmama that way. And so the Royal Family stayed in the palace. Both Katralla and Tyno had been killed in the attack; they insisted that Miss Jenavian, Commander of the Palace Guard, evacuate Katie and her grandparents first. Katie worried the necklace again, and began to cry. “I need to find Daddy,” she said as she ran from the dining room.
“Geez, Toshi. I’d like just one day to go by when you don't say the wrong thing,” DK said angrily. He started to follow Katie, until Uta said: “Let her go and find her father. I think they are both suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, they have many of the symptoms. John still hasn’t told us about the prison; I think they are still haunted by that experience. Give them some time alone, for now.”
“I guess you’re right. Anyone want to help me take inventory on the rations?” DK asked.
“Sure, I’ll help. We’re running so low, it shouldn’t take that long anyway,” Toshi replied.
DK and Toshi left the supply room. “You’re right, Toshi, that didn’t take long. We’ve got less than a ten-day supply of rations for all aboard. I’ll call mission control and see if they can get move up the supply shuttle that’s scheduled for two weeks from now.”
“Don’t be surprised if they hold back on the delivery, as a way of persuading John to go to Houston ‘voluntarily.’”
“Do you really think IASA would do that?” DK inquired.
“Not IASA, the government.”
“That isn’t very ethical!” DK said.
“You really are naïve, aren’t you? Hey, I know I act like a mellow California guy, but I’m actually very interested in history and politics. Are you asking if the same government that took over fifty years to make reparations for the Japanese internment camps would try to starve out a group of astronauts? Let’s see, from the same government that brought you Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Tuskeegee experiments…”
“OK, Toshi, I get the picture. I didn’t realize you were such a political firebrand. I’m still going to call; it’ll give me something to do, anyway.”
John held Katie in his lap, she was still crying. “It’s alright, honey. Just let it all out. I know it hurts.”
“I want my mommy back, and I miss Tyno and Miss Jenavian. Why didn’t Grandmama listen to you?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. I guess she didn’t think that the Nebari had the nerve to attack the palace.”
“The Nebari War was awful, Daddy. But it didn’t get any better when it was over. Why did the Scarrens have to attack us too? We were supposed to be allies. Then they declared war on us. They killed Miss Jenavian when they captured me and sent me to the death camp. I miss her.”
“I know sweetie. She was a good body guard, and a good friend.” John was relieved that Katie had started to talk about her capture by the Scarrens; she had never discussed it before. As painful as the memories were, he knew that talking about them would help Katie deal with the trauma. Even after their escape from the death camp, Katie still suffered from nightmares about her imprisonment. They lessened during the two months on Moya, but the nightmares still persisted.
DK rushed into the lounge. “Hey! There’s a shuttle docking in bay two. C’mon, let’s go!”
“A shuttle? I thought you said it wasn’t due for two weeks?” John said, still rocking Katie.
“Yeah, well, your Dad pulled some strings, and got the supply shuttle up in the air a little early. By the way, there’s a surprise for you on the shuttle!”
John went still. “What kind of surprise,” he asked, warily.
“I dunno! Mission Control just said there was a surprise for you on board, and that you should be at the docking bay. Are you coming?”
“Yeah, I’m right behind you,” he said as DK left.
“Katie, I want you to stay in the lounge; in fact, hide in the corner. Keep Miss Jenavian’s necklace handy, just in case,” the concerned father said has he carried Katie to the corner. He put her down and kissed her on her forehead. John took Wynona and Naomi (the two pulse pistols that he always had with him) out from under his jacket, checked their charge levels, and replaced the guns. “I’m just going to make sure that this isn’t a bad kind of surprise, princess.” John left for the docking bay.
Docking Bay Two
John was the last to arrive at the docking bay. Because the shuttle was so much bigger than the Farscape, it could not just fly in as John had done. The shuttle had to dock with a double set of air locks. The last airlock had just been put in place, and now the doors were finally opening.
A tall figure emerged from the airlock, asking “Where is Commander Crichton?”
John reached for his guns. The unknown astronaut (or ‘threat,’ as John thought) removed the cumbersome helmet. John couldn’t have been more surprised. “Dad!” John rushed to his father and gave him a bear hug, much as DK had greeted him yesterday.
“I just couldn’t wait for you guys to come to Earth, so I came to you! I pulled in every favor I was owed to get on that shuttle. Now, where’s my granddaughter?”