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 Lounge of the International Space Station.
DK and Jack, John and Katie Crichton sat around a table in the lounge, with Jack holding his granddaughter on his lap. They had taken to each instantly. Jack Crichton loved his granddaughter from the moment she smiled at him and said: “Hi, I’m Katie. I’m seven years old. You look just like Daddy, but with Chiana’s hair.”
Daddy was laughing. Katie hadn’t heard her father laugh so much since before the Nebari attack that killed her mother and Tyno. It was her fourth birthday party, when he sang the strangest song about how she ‘looks like a monkey and smells like one too.’ Katie didn’t know what a monkey was, but thought it must look and smell quite nice, because Daddy assured her that this song was a time honored tradition on his world and that it was his sacred duty to sing it to her on her birthday.
Katie liked watching her father talk and laugh, and make incomprehensible jokes with Granddad and Uncle DK. Occasionally, Katie would ask “Who is Elvis Presley?” or “What exactly is pizza?” and Jack would quietly explain.
“…and that’s why I say Spielberg and Roddenberry got it all wrong!”
“John, I can’t believe you’re making jokes about being falsely accused of murder, having a sorcerer try to steal your soul, and almost being hunted by a –what was it?— a calcivore. What the hell else happened to you, that makes this stuff the funny anecdotes?” DK said. Compared to Jack, DK had more time to absorb what little information John had given about his later adventures in the Uncharted Territories, and was curious to know more.
John lightly touched the tattoo on his right cheek, then rubbed his thumb on his lower lip. Katie knew that her father was considering how much to tell. “Oh, you don’t want to know. Hey, Dad. How did you manage to get that shuttle here so quickly, and to get yourself on it?”
Jack was still holding Katie. “Like I said before, I called in every favor I was owed, and it almost wasn’t enough. But many years ago, I was considered a national hero, and endorsed a politician early in his career. He’s come a long way since then, and he was happy to pull some strings for me,” Jack said while smiling like the Cheshire cat. “Yeah, he’s come a long way since he was Connecticut’s Attorney General.” Jack paused. “I think it would help if you talked about it.”
John erupted in laughter. ‘How many times did I say the same damn thing to Aeryn? And did it annoy her then as much as it annoys me right now?’ he asked himself. “Well, I guess that’s one opinion, he said as he leaned back.”
John winced slightly, then shifted in his chair. “Well, if you really want to know,” John changed positions in his chair again. “Hang on a sec,” John said as he withdrew first Wynona, then Naomi from their concealed holsters and set them on the table. John leaned back in his chair, and said, “ah, that feels better.”
Jack went still. “Since when did you start to carry two guns with you?” he asked.
“Ever since the one pulse pistol I carried at the time failed when I needed it, and we ended up getting the Nebari mind cleansing treatment.” Seeing the puzzled looks on their faces, John said “Let me back up a bit.”
As quickly as possible, John summarized what he had been through during the past nine years, leaving out many of the painful details. Describing how he came to marry Princess Katralla was difficult – he didn’t want to upset Katie, but it was an important part of why he had returned after all this time. She took it well; but then her grandmother had told her the story before in less kind terms. Explaining how Counselor Tyno had taken his place was also difficult – Katie had thought of this man as her father for the first five years of her life. John also skipped over the parts about Scorpius, the Aurora Chair, and the neural chip. When John said he was interrogated, his audience had no idea of the tortures he endured, first at the hands of Scorpius, and then by the unknown Scarran interrogator who had captured John on a commerce planet.
John continued. “So, after D’Argo found his son, and the Nebari Establishment increased its, uh, activity, we ended up joining the Nebari Resistance. Neeri didn’t want Chiana in danger, but even he couldn’t stop her – she made up her mind and that was it.”
“Chiana’s great – she taught me how to pick locks and all sorts of fun stuff!” Katie offered.
“Yeah, well, remind me to thank her next time I see her.” John said with a laugh.
“I flew a beat up, second-hand Prowler for the Resistance – Aeryn trained me for combat – she's incredible. We flew a lot of missions together,” John said softly, and got lost in his private memories of the life they were slowly building together.
“Daddy loves Aeryn. He’s sad because we don’t know what happened to her after the Scarrans attacked” explained Katie.
“Yeah, OK, that’s later. When the Nebari started the war in earnest, the Nebari Resistance, the PK’s, Scarrans, the Breakaway Colonies on the Royal Planet, Delvians, Luxans, the Sheyang, the Hynerians, even the Halotians, and some other races entered into a mutual defense treaty. We used Moya as the Alliance Headquarters- it was kind of like a UN in space. Since the Builders intended leviathans to spread peace, it was appropriate. Zhaan, Chiana, Rygel, and D’Argo became the Ambassadors for their respective planets, with Zhaan as the equivalent of the Secretary-General.
“The Nebari outgunned everybody. The PK’s ranks were quickly depleted, so they began recruiting from many races, not just Sebaceans. They got over their fear of contamination from all races in a hurry when they faced extermination from one heavily armed, *insane* race. Still, initially the different species were placed in segregated units. Anyway, the PKs needed qualified personnel, so they pardoned Aeryn and let her back into the Peacekeepers – she quickly became commander of the Pleisar Regiment, Icarian Division.” John swallowed hard. “We hardly saw each other after that.
“When I found out my daughter was born, I left the Resistance and joined the Royal Defense Force, to be closer to Katie and try to keep her safe.
“Well, Dad, you know I was a history buff, right? Like all good ol’ Southern boys, I studied the battles of the Civil War in school, and I couldn’t get enough of both of my grandfathers’ stories about fighting in World War II. I guess I absorbed a lot of military strategy, because I kept getting promoted until I became a general and couldn’t get promoted anymore. My knowledge of “antiquated Earth strategy,” as the Empress called it, worked to my advantage. That and the fact that the extent of Nebari military strategy was about as sophisticated as “Hey, diddle diddle, straight up the middle,” because they just overpowered everyone in the Territories. They didn’t have to outthink anyone.
“We couldn’t match their firepower, so I focused on strategic raids on their supply lines, communications systems, weapons and munitions depots, sabotage, guerilla warfare, misinformation, even double agents and moles. We were making headway, gaining ground, but our losses were high. We were buying weapons from the Plokavians, who, it turns out, were selling information to the Nebari. Our own people were developing weapons to match the Nebari, but their development was too slow.” John paused, recalling the biological weapons that had been developed, capable of killing Nebari – all of them, including the Resistance. John was almost tried for treason for refusing to resort to genocide.
He continued. “In the end, the Resistance managed to infiltrate some Nebari battleships and slowly transfer their people to them, so that they were eventually able to stage a successful revolution. Between that handful of Nebari battleships and Talyn, we were able to defeat the Nebari, but it was still at a high loss rate to our own troops. We had a lot of rebuilding to do, and our troop complement was very low, when the Scarrans decided that they wanted more territory. Kind of what the USSR did in the 40’s and 50’s: join the Allies against Germany, then when the enemy is defeated, make your own move when no one is expecting it. ”
John stopped talking and drained his coffee mug. “Damn, I haven’t talked so much since the last time I addressed Parliament.”
Even though Katie knew the history of the Nebari Resistance, she liked hearing her Daddy’s voice. But Katie always thought Daddy left out the best parts of the stories. On Moya, Uncle D’Argo told her about the time Daddy and Aeryn flew a mission and shot down three enemy fighters each. Until that time, no one had ever defeated even one Nebari fighter and lived to tell the tale, much less three. But Daddy had a plan: they used a nebula as camouflage for their fist pass, then fired the small probes Daddy designed and installed on the Prowlers. They were not offensive weapons; instead the probes jammed the enemy fighters’ weapons systems with a barrage of conflicting messages, in effect leveling the playing field and giving John and Aeryn a fair chance in the dogfight. The Resistance installed the probes on their small number of fighter and attack craft, and had improved their combat record against the Nebari.
Jack and DK sat quietly, sorting through everything that John had told them. Jack eventually said “Every time you look like you are contemplating something, or remembering something bad, you touch your cheek. What do the tattoos on your cheek mean?” Jack looked down at Katie, asleep in his arms, then back at John.
“It’s Scarran prison inventory notation. We were in a death camp.” John was clearly uncomfortable with the conversation. John stood up and asked “Hey, who won the last nine Super Bowls?”
Both Jack and DK were speechless. John began to pace when a smiling Sarah Comiski entered the lounge. “Commander Crichton? There’s an incoming transmission for you, it’s important. I think you’re going to get some good news.”
Washington, DC; the White House. Emergency meeting of the Cabinet and Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The meeting room was buzzing with several different conversations, all about the return of John Crichton and the Farscape module, when the President of the United States walked in. Everyone stood, and all conversation ceased. After President Joseph Lieberman sat down, the White House and Pentagon staffers resumed their seats.
“Here I sit, the President of the United States, allegedly the most powerful man in the world. So my question is, why did it take almost two days for anyone to tell this administration about Commander Crichton’s return? The Vice President of the United States is the official head of the space program, and she isn’t informed? I want explanations, people, and I don’t like to be kept waiting,” the President said in his distinctive voice as he looked around the table, stopping at Air Force General Zach Simpson.
“Mr. President, I apologize for the delay in informing you, but we’ve been busy analyzing the situation,” he said. He was clearly stalling.
“What’s to analyze? He’s back, he managed to survive for almost ten years in another part of the universe, have a daughter, and he is, for all intents and purposes, a diplomatic envoy for a government that wants to establish formal relations with this planet. He should be given a hero’s welcome, not forced to hide out on the International Space Station and request asylum to protect him from the same government that sent him up there in the first place.”
“Sir, we are still analyzing the images of the modified craft and doing a risk assessment of the alien creature he brought with him.” The General spoke as if to a child.
“The ‘alien creature’? Are you, sir, referring to his seven year-old-daughter?” President Lieberman was both angry and incredulous.
“Just because Crichton says it’s his daughter doesn’t mean...”
“I’ve heard enough.” An aide spoke to President Lieberman: "It's ready, sir." The president picked up the phone. “Commander Crichton, this is the President. I want to welcome you home, and personally guarantee the safety of you and your child.”