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
John had gone through a whirlwind of meetings and briefings. He was grateful Jack had brought him a small suitcase of suitable clothing, and a supply of Cover Mark for his cheek when he was out in public.
John’s first meeting had been a preliminary briefing with President Lieberman and Secretary-General Jackson. “….During the Nebari War, I came into a position of some power and influence,” John continued, telling his companions that he became the Supreme Allied Commander over all the Territorial Alliance armies, and second in power only to the Empress. “I tried so hard to do the right thing, not just the politically advantageous thing, but I wasn’t always sure how. In matters of state, sometimes my only guiding question was, ‘how might the United Nations handle this?’ I guess what I am trying to say is, thanks to the UN for setting the example for me to follow.” John went on to tell the Secretary General how the leviathan Moya had been turned into the Alliance headquarters. When John referred to it as the “UN in space,” none of the ambassadors on board understood what he was talking about. But they all knew that any dispute between any of the member governments could be resolved on Moya, under the mediation of P’au Zhotoh Zhaan.
John continued: “After the Nebari War, some of the smaller member planets left. They quickly rejoined when they saw the advantages of membership: transportation and commerce between planets were quicker and smoother; much-needed medical supplies were not pirated and sold on the black market; and if, on occasion, one army got out of hand with another, Captain Bialar Crais and First Officer Jothee D’Argo of the PK/Leviathan hybrid ship Talyn were there to uphold the peace.”
John next gave a full, unedited briefing of the Nebari War and creation of the Territorial Alliance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the UN Security Council. John was slowly winning over members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—but General Zach Simpson was proving to be a harder sell. He had been disciplined for his previous actions, but had too much political backing to be removed from the Joint Chiefs.
When it came time to discuss the Scarran War, John asked for a change of location. Instead of meeting in the White House, John requested that they take a tour of the Holocaust Museum. En route to the museum, John wiped the Cover Mark from his cheek, revealing the hated tattoo.
After the Secret Service made the appropriate arrangements, John began his briefing of the Scarran War. “…The Scarrans always wanted more territory, but more so after the Nebari War because their holdings were bombed out, and they had very little viable farmland left. The Scarrans think they are the ‘Master Race,’ and have no qualms about killing an entire population to acquire desired territory. After the Scarrans invaded the Royal Planet, they started to ship Sebaceans to death camps. They were mining camps, but on a hot planet--too hot for Sebaceans, and the Scarrans knew it. It didn’t take long for prisoners to succumb to the living death.”
John paused briefly, lost in the painful memories. “I was away on a diplomatic mission when Scarran agents defeated the entire Palace Guard. They killed Commander Jenavian Chatto, Chief of the Palace Guard and a good friend to Katie and me. The Scarran agents captured Katie while I was on Moya, trying to negotiate a cease-fire --at the request of the Scarrans. It was all a set-up. It took me almost two monens – I mean, months-- to find out which death camp Katie was sent to. I attempted a rescue. Unfortunately, the rescue mission didn’t go as planned, and I was captured as well. Being half-human, Katie didn’t suffer from the living death, so they found other ways to make life hard on her.”
“Ambassador Crichton, may I ask a very personal question?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. President, what is it?” John replied.
“The tattoos on your cheek, and Katie’s – are they,” President Lieberman paused, unsure how to continue.
“Yes, Mr. President, they are numbers—Scarran prison inventory notation," John confirmed. There were several sharp intakes of breath. "Hundreds of thousands of Sebacean lives have been lost in the Scarran death camps –probably more; we won’t know until the Alliance wins the war and conducts a full investigation. I think you see why I requested that the briefing continue here,” John said as he swept his arms outward. They were in the museum’s re-creation of the Gates of Auschwitz. “My daughter and I come to you as refugees, survivors of an attempt at genocide. I brought my daughter here to keep her safe, until the Scarran War is over. I urge all of you to consider what I’ve told you, and to join the Territorial Alliance,” John quietly finished. Ambassador Crichton’s impassioned speech combined with the somber atmosphere of the Holocaust Museum affected everyone, softening even the heart of Gen. Zach Simpson.
“I see why you requested the tour of this museum,” President Lieberman said. “We must never forget,” he said quietly, almost to himself.
“Daddy, when are you coming to Maine? You promised to teach me to swim!” Katie whined into the phone.
John paced in his hotel room. Even though they had only been separated for four days, this was the first time Katie and John had been apart since they escaped from the death camp. “As soon as I’m done in New York, princess. Just one more day, then we’ll be swimming at the lake before you know it. Are your Granddad and Uncle DK taking good care of you?”
“Granddad is great! He’s just like you!” Katie enthused. Katie, being seven years old, was absolutely certain that her Daddy was the smartest, bestest, handsomest, greatest, most awesomest person in the Universe, so calling someone ‘just like Daddy’ was the highest compliment she give. “But Daddy, DK isn’t here yet. Someone from Canaveral called and said he couldn’t get leave to come to Maine. But all my other my aunts, uncles and cousins are here and they can’t wait to see you!” Katie chatted on about her time at the lake. “…and I’m going to try all sixty-four flavors of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, but Granddad will only let me try one flavor a day!”
John listened patiently to Katie, but was troubled by her news about DK. John called Canaveral yesterday and was told that DK was on leave—John assumed he was on his way to Maine.
After John hung up with Katie, he began to investigate. He logged onto his new palmtop computer and quickly hacked into several highly classified sites. It didn’t take John long to find out where DK had been taken. DK was actually close by, in Arlington, Virginia. John then changed into a new pair of Levis and his leather jacket, checked the charge levels on Wynona and Naomi, and went to rescue DK.
John managed to charm his way through the first three checkpoints with his diplomatic credentials, then tried walking into the interrogation section like he owned the place—surprisingly effective, for a ‘secure’ intelligence agency facility. When two agents finally stopped John, he produced his diplomatic credentials and demanded to see Dr. Daniel Knight.
“I’m sorry, he’s being, 'debriefed'. Why don’t you just go back home, Ambassador Crichton of the Territorial Alliance. Your friend will be here for a while.” Agent Watson smirked.
“Uh, no, Bubba--why don’t you go back and re-read the Constitution—specifically the parts about due process, habeas corpus, and holding someone for questioning for no more than twenty-four hours. I respectfully request that you release Daniel Knight immediately.” Part of John wished to free DK without any violence, but another part of him was almost looking forward to a good, old-fashioned jail-break.
Agent Watson put a hand up, as if he were stopping traffic. “I don’t think so, Crichton-” behind Watson, John saw DK, in handcuffs, being escorted by two agents.
“Yeah, thanks, Bubba,” John said as he stepped around Watson and caught up with DK. “Hey, man, how they treatin’ ya?”
When DK looked up, John saw DK’s red eyes and dark circles under his eyes. “John, that you? They keep asking me questions, but I don’t know anything.” The two agents kept going down the hall, forcing DK to shuffle to catch up.
“DK, man, I'm gonna help you; just go with it” John said as he turned to face the agents. He quickly knocked out both of the agents with pantak jabs, and searched them for the keys to the handcuffs.
“How’d you do that? How the hell did you do that?” DK asked as John unlocked the handcuffs.
“I hate to burst your bubble, DK, but this isn’t exactly the first jail break I’ve ever been in on. Don’t worry – everything’ll be OK--I have a plan!” he said as they turned back doen the hallway.
“Go back to where all the heavily armed government agents are? You call that a plan? Wile E. Coyote could come up with a better plan!” DK protested, but still followed John.
They turned the corner, and were confronted by three agents, their guns drawn. “Halt!” said one of the agents.
John pulled Wynona and Naomi out and said “I don’t think you want to get into a pissing contest with me. For starters, I’ve got diplomatic immunity, and I’m extending protection to DK here, seeing how he’s been held illegally for four days. Second, I’ve got two pulse pistols on you, and y’all won’t stand a chance against them. Just back off, and we’ll walk out of here, no problem.” John was in full ‘Butch and Sundance’ mode, and he sure missed Sundance.
One of the agents started to lower his weapon, but the lead agent gave the order to shoot. John stepped in front of DK, letting the body armor built into his jacket take the shots as he fired his pulse pistols. As they were on the lowest setting, the pulse pistols only knocked out the agents and gave them light burns.
“What the hell are you doing, John? You can’t just start shooting people!” DK yelled, when the lights went out. “What happened?”
“I sabotaged the power supply – I didn’t expect to find you so quickly,” John explained as he took out a small flashlight. “Thought the power out would be a good diversion while I looked for you. Still is a good diversion—let’s get the hell outta here! But I think I’ll keep Wynona and Naomi handy just in case,” John said as he looked over each of his pulse pistols.
“You named your guns?” DK exclaimed, and John nodded.
“Why ‘Wynona’ and ‘Naomi’?”
“Well, they’re just like the Judds.”
“The Who?” DK asked – he wasn’t sure he could follow the conversation anymore.
“No, not the Who-the Judds! They were one of Mom’s favorite groups. She used to say that as good as they sounded singing solo, they were just incredible when they sang together,” John explained as they went through back hallways and staircases as they made their way out of the building.