"These stories are dedicated to memory of Benjamin Thomas W. and to anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a child."
His Father's Son
"A beautiful reunion." Zhaan looked at D'Argo. "Jack is from Earth" The raw emotion that she had witnessed seemed to charge her with energy.
D'Argo looked at her with a serious expression. "What of the other two?" He pointed to the image of Lursa on the main screen.
"We will welcome them." She knew where this was going.
"The Peacekeeper won't be a problem, but the Vladec?" He seemed uneasy. "They can be very dangerous."
"D'Argo, what do you think they said about us? We are escaped prisoners. I think we will welcome them with hands open. Do you understand me?" Her smile melted from her face and was replaced by a stern glare.
She walked to the center console and opened the com with Lursa.
"Enra, this is P'au Zotoh Zhaan of Moya." The image of the beautiful Vladec appeared. She had a nervous expression on her face.
"Yes, P'au Zotoh Zhaan." Enra performed the Delvian welcome ceremony with her hands.
"Thank you, and welcome Enra. We wish to invite you and Commander ah…" She could not remember what Jack had said. She had been caught up in the moment.
D'Argo barked out, "Selton!"
She smiled at her error. "We wish to invite you and Commander Selton here for a celebration of the Crichtons' reunion."
Enra's face seemed to dim. She turned to the man off the screen. "I am sorry." She turned back to face Zhaan. "We cannot accept until I hear from Jack himself. I am sure you can understand."
Zhaan shot D'Argo a cool look. "Do you see D'Argo? Distrust is a two edged sword."
"I will contact them." She bowed slightly to the image. "Excuse me John. I'm sorry for interrupting."
"Yeah Zhaan, what is it?" He cleared his throat.
"Lursa's crew wishes to speak to your father."
Jack walked over to the viewer. Enra's image appeared. The concern on her face melted away as she looked at Jack.
"Enra, this is my son John." He said, displaying an ear-to-ear grin.
John moved forward. "Hello John. It is nice to finally meet you." She stared at him and he could feel her beautiful green eyes penetrate his soul. "We are on our way." The image faded from the viewer. Suddenly and without warning, they were knocked from their feet as the ship lurched and the collision alarms sounded. John called up to command.
"What the hell was that?" John yelled.
Zhaan was holding on for dear life. " I'm not sure, John, but I think the Leviathans are docking."
"Who ordered that?"
"I think it was their idea."
"Pilot talk to me! What's going on?" John started to stand as the gravity field stabilized.
"Lursa and Moya have decided to dock."
"In the future Pilot, how about giving us a little warning."
"Commander Crichton, you know I have no control over Moya. If she decides to dock, it is not my …"
"It's okay, forget it." John rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Pilot, I would like to introduce you to my father, Colonel Jack Crichton." He turned back to face Jack.
"Welcome, Colonel Jack Crichton. It is a pleasure to meet you."
"Hello Pilot, and please, it's Jack."
"Very well, Jack."
"Thank you for taking such good care of my son."
Pilot was astonished at this human's statement. "I must say that your son is most unusual." He bowed his head slightly and his image was gone.
"Most unusual! Thanks a lot, Pilot!" John grimaced at the comment.
Jack smiled at his son, gazing at him in admiration. "I'm proud of you son. You have done the impossible."
"What about you?" John smiled.
"I cheated. I had a Peacekeeper Commander to cover my ass."
John's smile faded. "Yeah, well I've had a similar experience. Another member of our crew was hurt in the skirmish. Hopefully she will be well enough for you to meet her."
D'Argo's voice came over the link. "It would appear that Lursa and Moya have docked through the terrace." D'Argo was obviously angry. "We will meet you there. Tier one, two hundred microts." He barked.
"Ulric said Luxans are difficult to deal with."
"Actually, Dad, he has saved my ass a few times." He grinned. "He just takes a little getting used to that's all."
The two men headed for the Terrace.
"So how many in your crew, John?"
"You met Zhaan and D'Argo; we have Chiana our newest member. She is a…she's ah…I forget what she is, all I know is lock the doors to Lursa at night or you'll wake up with an empty ship." They laughed together. Damn that feels good. "We have Rygel who's Hynerian and Aeryn who is also a former Peacekeeper. She is ah…injured. We had a run-in with some Peacekeeper commandos and she's …" He looked down. "I'll bring you to meet her after dinner."
"John, I know how hard it's been." He looked at John for a long time. He looked haggard, older. Jack changed the subject. "Tell me, what wonders have you seen out here?" He grinned at his son.
"We've had some interesting encounters." John looked at his father. "You would not believe what I've seen. Well actually, maybe you would." He smiled.
"Tell me John." He smiled, as he watched his little boy coming back to life.
"Well let's see," John took a deep breath, and began quickly, as if speed alone would enable him to relay to his father all that had befallen him since his arrival in this alien system. "We encountered a planet where the entire population was under Peacekeeper mind control due to this stuff they ate. It looked like a huge radish. They put a worm in my stomach. And then we found..."
When they reached the large door to the terrace, they found D'Argo and Zhaan already there. John had not stopped talking from the minute they left the hangar, and he was still talking as they came to a halt in front of D'Argo.
"Ka D'Argo I would like to introduce you to Colonel Jack Crichton." Jack put his hand out to the mighty Luxan. D'Argo shot John a look of displeasure over this hand shaking business. "Dad this is our resident Luxan warrior, Ka D'Argo."
He reached out and firmly shook Jack's hand. Jack didn't flinch despite the pain that shot though his hand. D'Argo smiled slightly with approval. "Welcome, Colonel Jack Crichton."
Chiana moved in front of D'Argo. "Well John, you found your daddy." She smiled at Jack.
"Dad, Chiana." John felt himself turning red from her teasing. "Chiana, this is my father." His jaw tightened " You better watch your ass little miss…" She ignored him and put out her hand toward Jack with a seductive giggle.
The door hissed, then opened, interrupting their introduction. John had the look of relief on his face. "Saved by the bell." He muttered under his breath.
Jack moved in front of the little group, as in the dark of the terrace they made out two figures descending the ramp.
Ulric sent Enra ahead of him. He closed his eyes and listened. The Leviathans were communicating at a rate that sounded to Ulric like a high-pitched squeal. He opened his eyes and smiled. "Okay ladies I will leave you to your gossip."
Jack headed for the toward the new guests.
Enra entered first. She looked at Jack with a big smile. "Congratulations, Jack." She placed her hand on his cheek.
"Enra, this is my son, John."
John moved forward. He could not stop looking at her eyes. "Hello, and welcome to Moya."
"Hello John it is …" Her voice trailed off as she turned to Jack. "Amazing, Jack. The similarities are incredible."
John got an uneasy feeling from her comment. He looked at his father. "What's she talking about, Dad?"
The voice of the other member of Lursa's crew came from the terrace. "She is talking about me, John." Ulric walked into the light slowly his hands raised slightly in front of him. "Jack, you should have warned them."
"I didn't even think, Ulric." He turned to John. "John, Commander Selton looks…"
D'Argo stepped back and pulled out his weapon. Zhaan just stood there with her mouth open. Standing in the doorway was a man in a Peacekeeper uniform that looked like John.
"There can't be two. What the frell?" Chiana moved behind D'Argo.
"What's going on, Dad? What is this?" John's face filled with anger.
"John, relax. This is Commander Ulric Selton." He moved over to John and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Please. I know it's strange. I don't know what to say. It's remarkable."
Ulric moved a little closer. Their similarities faded with proximity. "Hello, John Crichton. I have to say I, for one, thought we would never live to see this day." He smiled at John and turned to Jack.
Jack looked at Ulric. "Its okay Ulric, put your hands down." Enra moved next to him. She could tell Ulric didn't like the distrust that filled the air.
Slowly he lowered his hands. "Congratulations Jack!" He smiled broadly, "You're home!"
John stared at him for a long time as he fought the distrust that filled him. His accent was one hundred percent Peacekeeper. "I understand that I owe you a lot, Commander Selton." John put out his hand. "Thank you!"
It took a moment for Ulric to recognize the greeting Jack had showed him months ago. But he grabbed John's hand and shook it. "Please John, it's Ulric."
John introduced him to Zhaan, D'Argo and Chiana. He would introduce Sparky at dinner, and Aeryn if she were up to it.
Getting Ready for Dinner
"No!" Ulric said flatly.
"I think you're being nill headed Ulric. They have been running from Peacekeepers for a cycle. I think they would be more comfortable if you showed up at dinner wearing something other than your Peacekeeper uniform.
"No Enra, regardless of what you might think, this is who I am. If they feel uncomfortable because of what I am wearing, that's their problem, not mine! End of conversation!"
"Ulric , do it for Jack. We don't want to frell this up for him." She seemed to almost plead with him.
"Look, Enra." The fight seemed to fade from him. "Okay, I'll leave the jacket here."
"No Ulric, you won't." Jack was standing in the doorway. "I understand what you are trying to do Enra. But we have to be ourselves. We must be honest with each other. Commander Selton I expect you in your standard duty uniform. I will meet you there." Jack turned and started to leave. He stopped and turned back to face them. "Enra, I am going by the galley. Would you like me to pick up your dinner?
"No. I was planning to eat before we went over."
"No. You will eat with us." He took on his famous fatherly tone.
Enra looked at him. "For a long time you found my feeding habits repulsive. I don't want the same reaction from your son and his friends."
"Enra, it just so happens that I am phobic about blood. I just look at the stuff and I get weak in the knees." He smiled. "Please, we have to be honest with them."
"We will be there in four hundred microts. Don't worry." Ulric smiled at him as he put his jacket on.
John had finished getting ready for dinner. He wished he had packed more for his test flight. He smiled and thought of Gilligan's Island and how for a three-hour tour they brought a ton of clothes. He headed for the galley and as he passed D'Argo's quarters, he heard Zhaan arguing with D'Argo.
"I want you to leave that here. There is no need for you to bring your Qualta blade to dinner. It will send them wrong impression of us." She looked at him with a stern glare.
"Zhaan, I will take my Qualta blade wherever I wish. You will not tell me what to do." He growled.
"D'Argo, this is important to John. We must make Jack feel comfortable." She approached the Luxan and held his hand.
He slammed his Qualta blade on the table. He exhaled, "Very well, I will do as you ask but if that Vladec comes after you I will do nothing to stop her!" He smiled.
"Stop it, both of you!" John stood there in the doorway. "I want you to wear your Qualta blade D'Argo." He looked at Zhaan. "We must be honest with them."
Zhaan said nothing - she just bowed slightly.
"If I remember correctly, D'Argo, I was on board for some time before I saw you without it." He smiled up at the Luxan. "I will see you in the galley." John turned and left D'Argo's quarters.
Dinner on Moya
"So Crichton, I understand you will be leaving us." He had the leg of some small creature sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he spoke.
"What are you talking about Rygel?"
"I assumed you would be leaving us and going with your father."
"Where would we go?"
"I don't know. I don't care." He laughed.
"Listen to me, Sparky, I will not leave Moya. She needs all of us, and I am hoping Lursa will stay around awhile." He grabbed Rygel by the eyebrows. "I want you to behave yourself, Rygel. Do you understand me?"
"I will." He smiled. "If…" there was a long pause. "If you give me the respect that I deserve." He raised his nose in the air. "Do we have a deal?" The little slug's smile widened.
"Deal!" John knew this was a mistake.
John had just started to pull out trays of food from the storage bays when his father entered.
"Need some help?" He was carrying a long slender bottle.
John was startled. "Dad, ah no, I'll take care of this." He put down the food trays. "Dad, I would like to introduce you to Dominar Rygel the Sixteenth of the Hynerian Empire." Rygel raised up in his throne sled to Jack's eye level.
Jack looked at the creature in the chair and put the bottle down on one of the tables. He moved near Rygel, his arms at his sides palms facing upward and bowed. "It is a pleasure, Dominar, to have a audience with you."
John stood there, slack-jawed at his father's greeting. "Yeah…ah Rygel, this is my father, Colonel Jack Crichton."
Rygel looked at John. "You could learn a few things from your father," he stated, somewhat smugly. "Welcome to my vessel, Colonel Jack Crichton. Please make yourself at home." He lowered the hover chair to the table.
John looked stunned at his father. "How did you…?"
"Ulric has been coaching me on greetings for a number of species."
Zhaan entering the galley, interrupted them. "Hello, gentlemen." She grinned at both of them. "Why don't you sit down and allow me to set up for dinner."
"Nonsense," Jack walked over to Zhaan." First I want to thank you, P'au Zotoh Zhaan." He performed the welcome ceremony for Zhaan, placing his hand on the upper corner of her chest. She did the same to him. His voice cracked. "Thank you for helping my son." He swallowed hard.
Zhaan was filled with emotion and her eyes became glossy. "You have a remarkable son, Colonel Crichton. He has enriched us all."
They broke their contact while John just stood there. He could not believe the ease his father had with his shipmates. "Jesus Dad, how long have you been out here?"
Jack was embarrassed. He had been showing off for his son.
D'Argo entered the galley. He greeted Jack and sat by himself at one of the tables.
Zhaan picked up the long slender bottle. "What is this?"
"That is a…" Jack looked at John. "That is Enra's dinner."
Zhaan place the bottle quickly back on the table. "I see. I thought Vladic's were live feeders that could only drink from living creatures."
"Whoa, what are you talking about Zhaan?" John moved over to Zhaan.
Jack spoke up. "Enra is a Vladic John. Think of her like a vampire!"
"A what? Are you kidding me Dad?" He rubbed his neck.
"We have been providing her with transfusions since we freed her. Wipe that look off your face John." He said sternly.
Rygel raised his chair to the eye level of the others. "They are wonderful people and are quite advanced. The Hynerian Empire has been an ally of the Vladic since Rygel the third. Their home world is beautiful. It is the envy of most systems. Tell me, Colonel Crichton, have you had the chance to experience the Rapture?"
"Yes, I have. It is truly remarkable." He looked at the little toad in front of him. "But I am surprised Dominar that you speak of them this way. I have been told that the Hynerian Empire invaded their world and exterminated their species."
"What! Impossible. They are a peaceful race. One of our strongest allies." He dismissed Jack's claim.
"That is not what I have been told Dominar." He bowed politely.
Zhaan stepped in. "Perhaps, Rygel, this is a new development." She looked at Jack. "When did this supposedly happen?"
"Ulric said six years…ah…cycles ago."
"Incredible! I knew my cousin was stupid, but how could he be so blind? Rygel looked at Jack with pain and sorrow." I am sorry, Colonel Crichton. I have not been home in over two hundred and fifty cycles."
"I think, Dominar, that you might wish to explain this to Enra when she arrives."
They went back to setting up for dinner. John had a feeling this was going to be rough.
Ulric and Enra entered the galley, looking very much like fish out of water. Ulric was carrying a large cylinder and Jack greeted them, while his son just stared at the man in Peacekeeper uniform. It made his skin crawl. It was strange enough that there was such a strong resemblance, but the uniform only served to remind him of what he let happen to Aeryn.
"Enra, Ulric," Jack began, "I would like to introduce Dominar Rygel the Sixteenth of the Hynerian Empire,." Enra looked at the Hynerian and said nothing. She looked down at the floor. Jack had warned her that a Hynerian was on board Moya. She thought she could handle it, but seeing him was harder than she had expected.
Ulric performed the same welcome with Rygel that Jack had done earlier. Enra walked over and sat at the table furthest from Rygel. She did not look up. Rygel too, seemed uncomfortable. Ulric sat next to her, Zhaan sat across from them and Jack sat between Zhaan and D'Argo. John moved the last tray of food to the table and sat across from D'Argo.
Okay John, this is not working. Do something! He stood and raised his glass. "I wish to make a toast. It is an old earth custom." The others looked puzzled, but Jack followed his son's lead, and also stood and raised his glass.
"Wait Jack!" Ulric said. "I have been saving this for a special occasion." He lifted the cylinder to the table.
D'Argo's face came to life as he recognized what the cylinder was. "Phelep Nectar!" he said in a deep tone. Chiana, who had been outside the galley, heard D'Argo's statement and decided to join them for a drink or two or three. She could snoop around Lursa later. She walked over and quietly sat next to Rygel who snubbed his nose at her.
She looked around the table. "Sorry I'm late." She smiled innocently. John looked at her with distrust.
Jack's face glowed. "You have saved the day Ulric. John you will love this stuff, it puts Sam Addams to shame." Quickly they distributed the Sebacean brew.
They proceeded to toast throughout dinner. Ulric had to make a trip with John to retrieve four more cylinders from Lursa. They were all becoming quite intoxicated.
Conversations flowed through the galley.
Enra remained quiet. She smiled at the stories that were traded. She would have had some of the nectar but it was not a good idea in her condition. Zhaan moved next to her.
"Enra,my dear, what brings you into this mess? How did you find yourself among these rogues?"
She looked at Zhaan. Her blue face seemed to glow in the light and she was nothing like the other Delvians she had known on Crais's command carrier. Then again, the control bracelet tended to reduce one's spirit. She smiled and took a big gulp of her dinner. "I was an Attendant on Fleet Captain Crais's command carrier. Crais gave me to Ulric as a gift."
"Crais!" Zhaan repeated loudly. She turned and looked at John. He was in the middle of a story with Ulric, Jack and Chiana. "John listen to this."
"Start from the beginning Enra."
She told the story of how Tauvo had captured her on the orbiting spaceport during the Peacekeeper invasion of her home world. She recalled the chemical treatment that bound her to slavery, and she told of her assignment to Bialar after Tauvo's death.
Ulric took up the story from there, and he told of Jack's adventure as Captain Jass Delin. John listened to the story and with each word, his heart grew heavier. His father had outwitted Crais! He found it hard to listen to his father's exploits. Thanks to his own feeble attempt at being a Peacekeeper, Aeryn was dying in the Medical Bay.
Ulric continued. "He found out that Crais was after John. That was our first clue, John, that you were alive." Ulric smiled at John. "Then Jack took matters into his own hands." Ulric laughed. He described the exchange between Jack and Crais on the Command tier of Lursa. "He pointed the pulse rifle at Enra and fired! I almost drenned my pants! I thought he was insane." He laughed harder. "I took the weapon from him and found that it was set to point four chamber compression. It barely knocked her out." Zhaan D'Argo and Rygel all started to laugh. "He had done all this to make Crais think Enra was dead." He looked at Jack who was red-faced by this time.
Jack, his tone serious, added. "At the time, Ulric, you didn't think it was very funny." Both men laughed.
"You should have seen the look on Crais's face. It was priceless. I have never seen a command carrier jump from normal space that fast in my life."
D'Argo stood there in amazement. Jack looked up at the mighty Luxan and D'Argo gave Jack a nod of approval. Jack noticed John seemed distracted and he rose from the table and walked over to where his son stood.
Jack knew the expression on his son face. "Let's go for a walk, son." Without a word, they left the party.
Ulric returned to the story. "We removed her implants in the AutoDoc and waited for the control drugs to wear off." He squeezed her tightly, causing a smile to light her face.
"If I didn't know better Uli, I'd say you were drunk." Her face brightened.
"Wait Ulric. You have a AutoDoc?" Zhaan stopped the conversation.
"Yes, on the Marauder. Why?" he looked at Zhaan puzzled.
"Please come with me." Ulric left with Zhaan and they walked down to the MedBay. There was a beautiful Sebacean lying on a Medi-Bed. Ulric looked at her for a long time. She stirred at their entrance.
She tried to focus on them. "John, please get rid of that frelling uniform. I don't think I can survive another encounter with you being Captain Peacekeeper!" She closed her eyes and fell back to sleep.
Ulric looked to Zhaan with a questioning glance.
"Let's say that John attempted to do what Jack did but the outcome was not as positive." She looked down. "Aeryn has an infection that I have not been able to stop. An AutoDoc could be just what she needs."
He looked down at Aeryn and lightly touched her cheek. Here was another Peacekeeper like himself - alone in the universe with nowhere to call home. He looked up at Zhaan. "Get her ready and I will meet you in Lursa's hangar in four hundred microts."
"That would be wonderful, thank the goddess!"
He started to leave the MedBay. "I'll send Enra down to help you." He moved quickly down the tier, not pausing until he was back at the galley. D'Argo was asleep against the far wall and Chiana was standing facing toward the huge view plates. Outside, the hull of Lursa partially obscured of the view of the blue gas giant that they were orbiting. He found Enra in quiet conversation with Rygel. He didn't want to interrupt their conversation but this was important.
"I am sorry for interrupting Dominar." He bowed slightly. "But this is important." He looked at Enra who seemed far more relaxed than he had remembered. Perhaps this conversation with Rygel has helped her? "Enra, their Sebacean crewmember is in need of a trip through our AutoDoc. Could you go down and help Zhaan bring her over? I'll meet you in Lursa's hangar."
She politely excused herself; Enra went to the MedBay and Ulric, returning to Lursa.
Chiana looked at Rygel and laughed. " Oh Dominar, may I be excused too? "
"Shut up little girl. You could learn some manners from those two."
She walked past him still laughing.
Rygel was left in the galley alone with a snoring Luxan.
He Is His Father's Son
They walked in silence for a long time. "John you have got a good group of friends here."
"Yeah, well…" He looked down at the floor as they walked.
"John, what's wrong?" He gently grasped his son's shoulder, bringing him to a halt.
"Dad, it's just like home. You know what, Dad! I have killed with my bare hands?" He clenched his fists. "I have now almost killed everyone on Moya at least once. Strike that - Aeryn's going to die, so let's say I've killed a close friend as well." His jaw tightened. "I barely survive out here. And you! You arrive here unscathed with my alter-ego the Peacekeeper Nazi commander!" He turned away from his father. "Not to mention Crais!" He tried to calm down but failed. "A man who has, on more than a few occasions, tried to kill me!" He laughed bitterly. "He…he wants to call you friend! Hell Dad, he even invited you to dinner!" He spun around to face his father. "What have I done? Why does all this shit happen to me?"
He smiled at John. "Son, you don't understand. Do you think it was easy? Do you have any idea what it's like to play nice to a lunatic who's trying to kill your son?" He found himself losing control. He turned from John and looked down the corridor. "John, you have always chosen the more difficult path. You do things your own way. I have come to respect that. You have always been able to handle whatever life throws at you. Hell that is something that I've never been able to do." He turned back to face his son.
"First, when your mother died, the only thing that kept me going was you." Jack cleared his throat. "Then when I lost you," he gritted his teeth, "John, I died back on Earth."
"What?" He looked at his father as if for the first time, and realized how old he was. He seemed almost fragile.
"When I thought I lost you I couldn't recover from it. I was a walking shell of myself. You have nothing to be jealous of son. Don't look at my life, look at your own!" He pointed back toward the galley. "You have to look at what you have made here!" Jack looked at John for a long time and smiled.
"Someday you'll understand." Jack smiled a painful smile. He left his son, knowing he needed time alone, and headed for Lursa.
"Dad!" John's eyes filled with tears. He started after his father then stopped. John knew the command tier would be empty. He headed there. He needed to think.
Lursa dove head long into the path of the second shot. The energy tore through the forward area of the port Starburst talon. She spun frantically from the recoil of the explosion. Lursa's actions gave Moya the opportunity to escape - but she did not. She swung around the aft of the huge Destroyer and, in a giant arc, headed back toward the it. She charged the huge ship and with a triumphant song jumped into Starburst just as she hit the outer hull. The huge carrier appeared motionless. For an instant, its outer hull seemed to expand slightly like an inflating balloon, then the Frag Cannon closest to the wound exploded with such force that it cut through the vacuum of space, pushing the almost lifeless body of Lursa further away. The initial explosion was followed by what some in the neighboring star systems would think of as an exploding star. The Carrier was gone and Lursa was pushed further away by the waves of energy that had once been captured by the ship's engines.
Lursa began her final song.