3, Reflections of the past
images on the huge screen faded in and out. Dancing streams of grayness would
sometimes obliterate the record, but he could make out the retrieval and testing
of Mark's ship. John watched as a beam of some sort carved up the vessel like a
high school biology class specimen. The image was lost again.
closed his eyes and tried to focus on the room. “What happened to the
pilot?” He asked, expecting Asha to answer.
was a strange buzz to the mechanical voice of Ra, as if it were out of tune or
like when his old pickup truck's stereo speaker blew. The raspy tone even
further accentuated that Ra was a machine. “He was retrieved from the vessel
and sedated for study. No actual record survives of the first contact between
Mark Goddard and one of our observer craft.”
was about to question the thinking machine further when the screen came back to
life. He found with each viewing that he was immersed deeper into the
recordings. It was as if they were real. His mind became more accepting of the
images, giving the records more life and substance. What had begun as strange
distorted images on the screen now seemed to be real events unfolding in front
God TV back home wasn’t like this. No one would ever get off the couch.
The grayness gave way to the vibrant colors of what appeared to be some sort of
operating room. He was obviously in an observation gallery that overlooked the
brightly colored half circle of a room. At its center was a table surrounded by
metallic trays filled with instruments. One lay on its side, its contents spewed
across the floor. In the one corner of the room John saw his counterpart holding
some metal instrument. Its purpose was unknown; however four long sharp blades
protruded menacingly from one end.
crouched in a defensive stance, backed into a corner of the examination theater.
His chest heaved in nervous anger like a cornered animal.
elder Khephri raised his hands and spoke softly, "We are merely curious
about your species – you are unknown to us."
I ain't no fucking lab rat! Now get me some clothes or I swear… Your innards
will be painting the walls in hea!"
smiled at the complete shock at the doctor as he shifted back from the naked
human. "I believe you would."
moved over to one of the many trays that had been originally placed in a circle
around the central table that Mark had been on before his subsequent outburst
after they had woken him. The doctor’s impossibly long finger touched a number
of instruments in an effortless dance. The Khephri physician then turned to one
of the many trays in place around the table. Nothing was in order now following
the frightened human's sudden and unexpected outburst.
are you doin’? I told you… Get me my clothes!" Mark shouted, trying to
watch both his jailers at once. He nervously switched the long metal instrument
from one hand to the other.
Mark's rant, the doctor looked to his assistants. He pointed a long slender
finger at the projected information emanating from the tray.
Energy signature… and look at
this its… His…cellular make up. It is point zero-zero-three of the cellular
records for the Interion and within point one of Sebacean norms." He
touched his colleague on the shoulder and bowed lightly.
young female finally spoke. "Anubus's seeding from the ancient records has
born fruit deeper in the galaxy then we had ever imagined." She raised her
hands to her chest and bowed her
head slightly in reverence to the great explorer. "With the grace of Horus,
this is wonderful”
Are fucking listening to me?" Mark stepped from the corner, waving his
makeshift weapon furiously back and forth at each of them.
female finally tuned to face Mark. "He is not at all cooperative, Doctor
Kehpek." She lowered her finger to the small crystal and he simply fell to
the floor. It was as if the life was simply removed from his body.
doctor looked up from his analysis to his assistant. "Asha, you could have
waited till I had finish cognitive profiling!” The screen turned gray as the
record ended abruptly.
was again jerked back into consciousness, his eyes focused on the empty screen.
John was perplexed. The Asha in the image was the same as his host. Zhaan was
over eight hundred years old and didn't look a day over fifty. But Asha said
that these records were from their past. He looked around the immense room but
Asha was nowhere to be found.
question, John Crichton?” The large sphere glowed.
grinned, slightly distracted. How many times he had seen such a device on Star
Trek, Lost in Space and Battlestar Galactica? If he didn't
know better, he thought, it could be a huge dome merely filled with Christmas
lights. John tried to form a question but her name was all that he uttered,
will become obvious soon enough; continue to monitor the records.” The screen
brightened as the gray blurry image focused. John found himself once again
living though the memories of Mark. He was in a cylindrical room, one half a
gray stone with black and pink streaks of color as if the entire semicircle was
polished out of stone, the other a flat white material.
paced back and forth, one knuckle dragging against the painfully white wall.
John could feel the sensation of his own knuckle as if he was there in the
image. Without loosing his focus on the image, he raised his hands and rubbed
the now aching knuckles. John felt the exhaustive fear that Mark was feeling. He
was far more familiar with that sensation now, having been out here for over two
cycles. John felt a sadness that almost overpowered him. He had kept those
feeling locked down so long he thought he had lost them, but seeing and
experiencing them though the memories of this stranger from earth had now raised
them to the surface.
stopped at the center, facing the white wall . “Asha!” he yelled, startling
John almost to the point of loosing his concentration on the screen. John was
now living though Mark’s eyes and he knew the torment Mark was feeling. He was
living it every day.
shouted again, “Asha!”
the white wall rippled as if it were liquid and in doing so, it became
transparent. Beyond were four Khephri standing at different workstations Asha
moved to the transparency.
you must settle down. This erratic state is not helping with our calculations.
was amused by Asha’s tone, like that of a mother scolding her child.
“Look, I said I was going to play nice and I have. I am done! I got get out of heah."
am goin’ fuckin’ crazy in this place.” He stepped back from the wall.
“You said you were going to let me back to my ship.”
smiled and looked to one of her technicians. “Yes, we will soon.” Suddenly
the wall rippled again and was back to the flat white that it had been. Mark
started pacing again.
small white cylinder raised from the middle of the room. At its center was one
of Mark’s cigarettes. Mark turned back to the impossibly white wall. “A
treat to settle your captured pet?” He
kicked the pedestal. The small structure did not yield to his anger. Mark limped
over to the far wall and slid down the rough stone surface. “I am not playing
image faded again. John instinctively reached out, feeling dizzy from the loss
of the record. As the next installment came into focus, John found it difficult
to see. There were no feelings that accompanied this record. Suddenly he
realized why—he was watching though the eyes of a
Khephri. He saw a blister of some kind, with a huge expanse of space
beyond it. They were on some type of ship or station. Close to the base of the
huge structure was Mark, walking with Asha and another Khephri. As John
approached her could hear Asha’s presentation.
is our furthest outpost. We have set up education centers and commerce nodes. We
have come here to enlighten us as two how you arrived here. This star’s
radiation emissions match the molecular distortion found throughout your ship.
This world will be a suitable location to reach the quantum anomaly that brought
you to us. The thin clouds of the desert world below showed little sign of life.
John felt a pang of familiarity with this world. As he looked back from the
world to a view of the well shielded star beyond, he realized he had been here
himself. This was the world where he had met the ever massive Furlow. And where
he and Aeryn had almost bought it with those Vorcarian trackers. But as the
images sprang forth his own memories of this world, as the orbit brought them to
the night side of this world, the irradiating pattern of lights from the bright
core of the unknown cities gave way to smaller clusters or lights of smaller
towns, each cluster having ribbons of light that connected them in a familiar
pattern. To John it was very much like looking down at the eastern seaboard of
earth. The world he had visited had pot Mark’s where cities once stood but the
world was for the most part a barren wasteland. Could this be the same place?
More questions without answers. Suddenly he realized Asha was still talking.
we do not extend into the other races’ territory; we merely act as gate
keeper. Each of these worlds is designed for enlightening for the other races in
this region. We also serve to keep a stable environment for these races to
evolve in. The primary races in this region, if left to their own devices, would
destroy each other.
are you to step in and direct their fate?”
Asha smiled. “Fate is a crutch of a weak mind.”
turned for the view of the world below them. “Well, Asha, on earth there are
those who believe religion is a crutch of a weak mind.”
smile faded slightly. Raising her hands to her chest, she inaudibly uttered a
prayer, her silent companion doing the same. “You are the most perplexing
species I have ever encountered.” Her head tilted to the side, her mouth
opened to say more, but a quick glance at her silent partner stopped her. “
Now back to K’oman.” She turned
back to the immense transparent wall with the desert world beyond.
outpost is designed not only for education, it also monitors the three major
species in this region. The first, and by far the most troublesome…”
Suddenly above them, the ominous image of a large reptile biped appeared.
Scrolls of symbols accompanied it. Scarrans: A warrior race that, in their
belief, are at the top of the
evolutionary chain and should have dominance over all else. Their society is
made up of a caste system of dens where one’s actions in the name of their den
raises their status. We can review further once we have arrived at the research
projection moved to one side as Asha continued, “Nebari. A slightly more
advanced race but with a major philosophical flaw in their sociological system.
They have been far more approachable about…
he’s almost human,” Mark interrupted softly. John could see the surprise on
Mark’s face as he examined the gray skinned humanoid.
stopped abruptly. “Actually, Mark, Nebari are biologically quite different
from yourself. Sebaceans and Interions are another matter.”
you’ll allow me to continue…” She smiled at her strange charge.
it’s all just…Never mind.”
The image of a human female projected in front of them.
whoa whoa! Hold on… She’s
she is not. Although genetically her species is close, she is not human. She is
genetically as similar to your species as the Scarran. Asha smiled mischievously
at Mark’s reaction. Suddenly the images flashed with incomprehensible data,
somehow comparing the two species.
it there, Asha. You can’t tell me that iguana boy up there is even close to
me! What have you been smoking?” Mark stepped forward and rubbed his scruffy
chin as he examined the images more closely.
do not understand exactly what you just said but I can assure you that you are
all from the same genetic base line.”
the image lost its color and Mark’s argumentative tone slipped into
nothingness the record ended.
waited a moment as he hoped to see more. Nothing followed.
there are three more installments that survive.” The monotone voice abruptly
stopped as Asha returned, carrying a tray.
should eat, John Crichton." She placed the tray on a small pedestal that
extruded from the floor near them.
why can’t you watch the records?"
is of a time in the Khephri past when the false arts were practiced. Although I
am a historian, there are areas of study that are even forbidden to me.” She
looked off to the far wall. “I have a thousand questions I wish to ask but
know that I cannot.” She sighed in frustration. “Now eat.”
looked at the tray. He had become used to the considerable challenges of dining
in the Uncharteds. He picked up the long green stick and sniffed it. He put it
back down and picked up the cylinder of water sniffed it as well. He placed the
cylinder to his lips and tasted the water. It had the taste of metal. He placed
it back on the tray and went back to the green stick. "What is this?"
Merlec. It is a dried aquatic plant from the southern shores of Khyhixs"
bit down on the odorless stick. It shattered with one bite, most of it ending up
on the floor. He looked sheepishly at Asha. "Sorry, I’ll clean it
smiled warmly. “Why? The ship can do that.”
continued to chew the flavorless stalk. It
was like eating a Popsicle stick. But when in Rome do as the Romans do. He
looked back at the sterile water and decided that regardless of its steel taste
it would help wash the Popsicle stick down.
do you think? Is it too spicy for your taste? "
No it's delicious. Really.” As he continued to chomp on the tasteless fibers
he said, “I just had a big breakfast this morning and I ain't much of a lunch
finished the water and looked back at Asha. Her eyes locked on his. She smiled
warmly. “What is it?” She asked, seeming slightly self conscious.
how old are you?" John tried to keep his tone light but failed.
Velka one com to megatrad range and send a tight beam transmission!”
Scorpius.” Braca turned slightly
then stopped. He hesitated before asking the question. “May I ask why?”
snarled You study the Decca word for word but you really don’t know how high
command works. His face filled with contempt. “Fool! The political officer has
an open channel to high command at all times!
We will contact them and trace that signal.”
stepped back towards the hatchway. He knew that political officers had open
links to high command, but he also knew that the Decca did not allow
transmission in those frequencies reserved for Political officers. Obviously
Scorpius was playing again outside the rules. He hoped that soon these
transgressions would catch up with Scorpius. A small grin crept to the edge of
his mouth as he headed from the beast’s layer. “Very good, Scorpius.”
sat on the edge of Pilot’s consol, his shilquin
echoing though the huge chamber. He did not acknowledge Aeryn’s approach.
stopped half way across the catwalk. “He’s gone.” Her voice had a certain
defeated tone to it.
did not look up at her, continuing to play the sad melody. “Are you
moved slowly towards them. “No not really…”
She slowly paced in front of Pilot’s consol. “Pilot, is the destroyer
still out there?”
Officer Sun. We cannot track its position accurately, but it is most definitely
Aeryn hesitated. D’Argo’s music was wearing at her resolve and her
concentration. “Could we StarBurst though the Khephri Field?”
watched as Pilot ran a few modules of course projections. “It would be
difficult but it is possible. It could not be a large StarBurst–too much
friction on the hull.”
leaned forward, “Pilot, please have Moya prepare for StarBurst.” Pilots arms
and all that they were doing stopped. His head craned to face her. The
expression of surprise and anger was quite evident. D’Argo to had stopped
playing and stared at her, genuinely surprised by the statement.
Officer Sun, what about Commander Crichton?” His head tilted as he asked the
question as a child would.
knew the dangers of coming here. He was warned against trying to board that
will not allow his irresponsible behavior to endanger us any further.”
slid down off the consol and stood looking at her. “Aeryn, we can not abandon
do you propose? That we wait a few cycles for his return?”
but he has been gone less then a solar day.” D’Argo’s tone was soft and
understanding. She had hated the way D’Argo could shift from the hardened
warrior to what was before her now. “ This is an opportunity… his chance.
You can hold that against him.”
She did not know how to respond to the hulking Luxan. “Pilot please maintain
tracking trajectory for StarBurst.” She turned and head back over the bridge.
“We will give him two more solar days then we will attempt escape.”
sensed it more than anything. He pulled his stare from the large display and
looked for Asha. She appeared at the entrance to the large room as if waiting
for him to ask a question, but did not look directly at him as she approached.
He sensed her shame. “What did
you do!” John demanded.
asked why you cannot go deeper into Khephri space.” Her long finger pointed
back to the viewer, “You will see… Watch the records, John. Observe our
sins. You will then understand.” She turned quickly and left the central
was about to go after her when the projection screen filled with images of fire.
Once more he found himself immersed in the projection. These images were clearer
than the others. They were the
memories from Mark’s point of view.
walked in silence, two Khephri leading the way. He could hear the sounds of
others behind him. One of the guards possessed a deep, raspy cough. They walked
quickly and with purpose John noticed dark heavy scabs on the neck of the guard
closest to him.. He was about to ask Ra about these strange marks when images in
the distance caught his attention.
crowds of Khephri encircled a huge fire There were others in the distance. It
was only then that John realized that he/Mark was being lead through the once
was once a thriving illuminated Mecca was now plunged into a vision of hell and
John was trapped in Mark’s memory. He called out but no one would hear. In
John’s desperation to pull himself from this memory record he called out for
Harvey, but nothing…he was alone here, reliving all that Mark had witnessed so
long ago. Only the huge fires on its main thoroughfare gave sickly flickering
light . The wails and cries of the mourners filled the air. John was trapped in
the memory of a living hell, reliving the witness of deadly epidemic.
could not pull himself from the images. He/Mark felt his nostrils assaulted by
the sweet stench of burning flesh. His ears rang with the songs of mourners near
the raging fire.
As they pass the closest fire, Mark/John makes out the shapes of dead bodies added to the fanning flames. Encircling the massive fires, the mourners sing and wail. Some even throw themselves onto the fire. “Jesus! No!” His eyes trace the white smoke to the sky. It was only then John realizes how large the city is. He has no words to describe the scale. It is a massive city of skyscrapers that appears to pass through the high thin clouds. The largest of these could easily touch the sky of this world. The light of the orange setting sun picks out the edges of the tall towers. Offering shallow competition to the pyres for the dead below, the orange spires only add to the living hell at their foundations. John tries to look away from the onslaught but finds he has lost all control. He is living a memory with no ability to control it. He screams in torment as he struggles to pull himself from the screen. His efforts are left unnoticed in Ra’s huge empty control node.
sat in Del Varner’s large office as Del rattled off an observation about the
crew from his notes. Who were loyal and who were not. It was only now he
realized that Del’s office was larger than his own. Somehow this simple fact
left the glimmer of a smile on his face as his thoughts continued on the only
subject that mattered. Jared looked up at the expectant silence of his old
friend. He realized he had not heard the question.
Del, what were you saying?”
stood from his desk and sat on the small metal table next to Jarred. The
sympathetic smile mocked Jarred. Del pulled a small controller from his pocket
and keyed in a sequence. Suddenly an amber glow was emitted from the
illuminators in the ceiling. His smile widened. “You can never be too
careful.” Del moved over to the
worn chair next to Jarred. He spoke in a warm whisper, even though the
surveillance shield was active.. “You know I was in love once.”
Jared shifted uncomfortably. Scanning the room as if he was being led into some
trap, he stood and headed for the sealed door. “What kind of trick is this,
trick, Jared.” He did not move from his chair. He sighed slightly, tapping his
thumb on the rusted arm of the worn chair. “I don’t want you to make the
same mistake I did.”
stepped closer to the door the door but did not move to leave the room. “I am
not in love!” he spouted, as if mere words would somehow cause death with its
utterance. "Del, you are frelled if you think I love that tralk!” He
stepped back. “Now… Open the door!”
at yourself, racing after an insignificant Leviathan. This mess is clouding your
judgment. No, Jarred, I am not going to allow you to make the same mistake I
did. Sela will stay on assignment here with you.”
are you to override my transfer request!” Jared stepped closer to his friend.
I am doing this so that you don’t regret losing her." Del looked back at
the arm of the chair and his fingers slowly dragged across the worn metal
surface. “There is not a day I don’t think of what I had lost so long
pulled the controller from his jacket and released the security hold. “I will
not let you do the same!”
stepped towards the door as it slid open and hesitated halfway through the
hatchway. “Del, you are a fool. I can’t change who I am.”
disappeared down the corridor. Del sat back slowly slouching deeper into his
are capable of many things but you must think beyond the barriers of your
training. It is not too
late for you my friend. His attention was brought back to the faded memories
of the life he could never have. Suddenly he was interrupted by the chime of his
moved to his desk and pulled up the screen. Mindlessly he opened the com. “For
the glory of all we serve.” Del recovered quickly from the shock of the image.
He knew of Scorpius, but how he was able to link to his personal com only showed
the half-breed’s resourcefulness.
do you realize the number of rules of the Decca you are breaking by this single
transmission?” Del cooled his anger at the intrusion.
political officer Varner, I wish to talk to you about your captain.”
looked at the tracking display. He had twenty microts to sever the link before
Scorpius could track the signal. “You will treat him well, Scorpius!”
political officer making threats? Now I have seen everything. Perhaps I should
have you reassigned to my carrier and we can get to the root of your issues.”
The sickly yellow and black smile was fitting on such a beast.
would like to see you try, Scorpius.” Del moved closer to the screen allowing
himself to fill the monitor as much as his hooded counterpart. “Being out here
on the fringe is the only place high command would allow such an abomination.”
He smiled ruefully… “Regardless of your empty threats! I will bring up this
assignment with Admiral Commandant Grayza. I am sure that these trivial pursuits
will not sit well with her or with high command. For the glory of all! Varner
out!” Del closed the link and
scrambled his private access code. Scorpius was good but he was better.
of part 3…