John, Jack and Ulric
Aeryn stood at the rear of the group. She still felt uncomfortable just looking at Ulric, but she could not take her eyes off of him. They were so much alike-two trained warriors finding their way to becoming more. Looking at the small family before her, Aeryn realized that Ulric was far more successful at it than she was. Maybe this was the source of the sadness that had taken hold of her?
Enra moved from Chiana and Zhaan to Aeryn. "We have not been formally introduced, Aeryn. I am Dasival Enra Selton. " Enra smiled as her pupilless eyes penetrated Aeryn's soul.
Aeryn broke her stare away from Ulric. "You have a beautiful son, Enra." She looked back at the little boy now talking with the gentle giant, Ka D'Argo.
"Thank you, Aeryn. I was wondering, where's Rygel?" Aeryn fell into PK mode, the emotion draining from her face. Enra knew that change in expression all too well. "No…what happened?"
"It's a long story that isn't for today. You must be hungry. And tired?"
"Yes I think we could all use a little nourishment," Enra smiled. While they watched, D'Argo fell to his knees as he was tackled by Jack.
"We don't have any livestock on board, but we do have a large store of Synth blood in Zhaan's apothecary." Aeryn had never met a Vladic but she had been aware of their talents and needs. As all good solders did, she knew very well what Enra was capable of.
Enra looked warmly back at the Sebacean, "No, I have plenty on the marauder."
"What about Jack? Is he a live feeder or a normal?" Aeryn tensed as the last word passed her lips. "Sorry… I mean, is his digestive tract Sebacean?" Aeryn swore under her breath.
Taking no offense at her comment, Enra laughed and placed her hand gently on Aeryn's shoulder, "It's quite all right, Uli still stumbles from time to time. Training from birth is tough to overcome. No, Jack is very much his father's son." She turned back and looked at Jack, who was now trying to stand on poor D'Argo. Chiana was laughing so loud that the echo in the hangar was deafening. "Jack, be careful! You don't want to hurt your new friend."
Aeryn had to shout over the commotion, "Why don't we move this little get-together to the center chamber."
"That is an excellent idea," D'Argo said from underneath Jack.
They walked in a large group toward the central chamber, two or three conversations overlapping as they proceeded. Jack held tightly onto his father's leg as they reached the intersection outside the central chamber. Waiting there was John Crichton. Aeryn stepped close to him and whispered, "Be nice!"
"Don't worry about me, Officer Sun. " John stepped past her without a second glance. When he saw that infamous Luxan glare, John smiled at his friend. Don't worry big guy, I ain't gonna make a fool of myself. John stopped in front of Ulric, Enra and Jack, who tightened his grip on his father's leg. "Ulric I… I am sorry. I acted a bit crazy back there. Please accept my apology." John's jaw tightened as he stared at the Peacekeeper. Again, the smile that came to Ulric's face was almost shocking to John. He had definitely changed since the last time John had seen him.
"No, John. No apology is necessary. I am sorry… I only… "
Jack yelled, "A DRD!" He unlatched from his father and ran after the little robot.
The entire group gave out a collective laugh as they watched Jack chase after the yellow machine.
D'Argo interrupted the awkward silence that followed, "Chi, do we have any Fellip nectar left?"
Chiana's face filled with a smile and her gaze shifted to Ulric as if sizing him up. "Ah, I suppose for this evening we might dig into our reserve." She giggled as she brushed up closely against the Luxan.
They walked into the center chamber. The last time they had all been in there was just before Ulric, Jack and Enra left for Dranthor Prime. Zhaan sat next to Enra, who kept looking out into the access way to see if Jack was coming back. "Relax, Enra, Moya and Pilot won't let him get too far." With those words, Jack came running in, laughing, as six DRDs followed him. He stopped long enough to wave to his folks, and then started running down the tier, his pack of DRDs following at his heels. His laughter faded in the distance.
Chiana entered with two long cylinders, one under each arm. "I think you will like this. It was a special gift meant for the Regent of Gaccar."
Ulric walked up to her and read the seal, "From General Takkil of Central Command. Dren, Chiana, you are good." He smiled at the beautiful gray woman in front of him. Aeryn pulled a tray from the top of the dispenser and grabbed a bunch of glasses. Once the glasses were filled, Ulric proposed a toast. He smiled at John, "Jack showed me this custom on Lursa when we brought aboard a new crew mate. Against my will I might add." He raised his glass in Enra's direction. They all noticed the slight color that came to Enra's pale white face. "I toast to friends present and to the memory of friends lost." Ulric realized when he spoke that he was very poor at this custom. As he watched, the mood somewhat darkened with the toast.
D'Argo and Chiana moved over to the table and sat across from Enra, who smiled at them as she realized they were obviously together. She looked back toward the opposite corner of the central chamber near the large transparencies where John and Ulric had gravitated. Standing this close they looked more like brothers. It bothered her to see what had happened to John. How sad your father would be to see you like this, John Crichton. Enra broke her stare when she realized Aeryn had asked her a question. "I'm sorry. What did you say?"
"Have you been on the move for long?" She looked from Enra to the men standing by the transparency.
"No, only two weekens. We will start looking for a new place to live once we leave Moya."
Their conversation flowed back over the cycles since they and been together, each telling a different account of their adventures. Occasionally, they would look over to the corner where John and Ulric stood deep in their own conversation.
Shadows of the Truth
In the time since Scorpius had taken control of the Carrier, his research had been quite remarkable. There was great technology to be gained here. Great power, as well. But Scorpius was not yet successful in generating a stable wormhole-they had no way of controlling it. To gain this knowledge, they needed to study a stable wormhole, but this had eluded the Abomination.
Teasa had also read the reports on the Human. If he had been Sebacean, she would have admired him for his resourcefulness. As it was, she felt uncomfortable with the concept of an obviously inferior creature being able to elude a great number of Peacekeeper ships in the past five cycles. The only help he had was from a few prisoners on board a defenseless Biomechanoid. Although the Leviathan's offspring was another matter. She was interrupted by the sounds of her transport docking to the carrier.
Lieutenant Braca approached her as she descended the ramp from the transport.
"Welcome, Lieutenant Lan, we have been expecting you."
She bowed respectfully, "I wish to speak with Scorpius".
"In time, Lieutenant. I will show you to your quarters."
"Braca, do you know the real reason I am here?" She moved closer to him. "Please don't try and play me like some fool. I will see him now!"
Braca was surprised by Lan's candor. A small bead of sweat
formed on his brow.
Outside Scorpius's quarters she waited. The door to his office opened and three med techs exited. From the large room she heard his shrill voice, "Lieutenant Lan of High Command, Ravstar regiment, please enter."
As she passed through the doorway, there he sat on a throne chair in the upper area of his office like some royal overlooking his subjects. Her stomach tightened as she approached him.
"So, Lieutenant Lan, why are you here?" The creature shifted forward in his chair." His baleful smile seemed to mock her.
"Officially, or the truth?" She smiled at Scorpius.
"Let's start with the official reason you are here." He sat back and smiled wider. "We can always get to the truth later."
Twenty minutes later, Chris entered with that ever-present
"Shut up, Chris. Come here." She handed him the data tablet with the cost projections for the Guardian.
His smile changed slightly as it took on an evil, almost sadistic quality. "I would say you have a little problem, Madame President."
"We. We have a little problem." She stood, walked over to the bar and poured herself a large glass of scotch. "OK, Chris, you want that seat,I need the Guardian. It's time to make a deal."
Barbara made her deal with the devil himself. She transferred funds from key federal programs to the state programs that Pike would need to get elected. In doing so, she went against everything she knew to be right, but every fiber of her soul told her that this was their only hope. The Guardian project was publicly known as the dismantling of more of the world's nuclear arsenal. As part of the cover up, two days later she spoke to the UN General Assembly.
"During this time of world financial crisis, it is imperative that we remove the temptation of nuclear proliferation. That is why we must accelerate the schedule. The twelve remaining stockpiles of nuclear weapons must be dismantled as soon as possible. We do not have the wisdom to hold these weapons. India and Pakistan have shown us this."
Through the applause from the General Assembly, Barbara looked at Pike standing next to her, the fake smile again planted on his face. Beneath that smile lay the cool calm creature looking to take over the world. And she was giving him the tools to do so.
That afternoon the Assembly voted on the acceleration of disarmament and Barbara Quilton was given the raw materials to complete the Guardian. She was back in Washington when she got the news. "Well, Bob, what do you think! I just lied to the entire fucking world! Aren't you proud of me?" She threw back the entire glass of scotch.
Bob sat forward on the sofa "Barb, you're a tough old bitch. I know you are doing the right thing. And deep down inside, you know it too." He smiled at his old friend. "Now for the bad news. It would appear that one of Barry's associates is not cooperating."
She looked up from her empty glass. "Oh?"
"It would appear he is upset that his wife and two children were not brought inside as well."
"Bob, you mean you brought a family man in alone?" She laughed. "What were you thinking?"
"Barbara, we can't bring in everyone there has to be a stopping point."
She smiled at her old friend. "Bring them in, Bob. Hell, they can live here if you need space. I am tired and if I don't get some sleep, I am going to get a bit moody."
Bob let out a laugh. "You, Barb? Moody?"
"Ok, Bob, that's enough! Good night."
Barbara sat in her bed smiling as she watched the news. "Boy, Bob, you are really good."
She nudged her snoring husband. Poor Walter. The "first man" of the White House had no clue as to what was going on. She had been a golf widow for many years, now here he was, a political widower. He continued snoring as she fumbled for the remote and raised the volume of the television.
Ulric descended into his memories of the loss. "John, the Peacekeepers were on the verge of discovering the keys to the Builders' Biomechanoid technology."
"The Builders!" He turned from the window and faced Ulric. It was Ulric's turn to stare out into space. He had to stay focussed.
"You have heard of them?"
"Ya, the Progenitors, Builders, the great stabilizing force that at one time occupied this region of space. Then they disappeared…"
Ulric turned from the transparency, a small smile appearing on his face. He knew by that statement that John had no knowledge of who the Builders were. Ulric had read enough of Jack's log to know that Jack didn't want John to find out the truth. It could put him at risk. Ulric felt a strange sense of responsibility for John now.
"Lursa asked us to help stop them. Stop the Peacekeepers. Jack was insistent that we help her." His small smile expanded. "Jack said it was the least we could do. After all, she helped him find you.
"After she was destroyed, it became your father's quest to stop the Peacekeepers from gaining the Builders' store of knowledge that was archived on Dranthor Prime."
"Dran-what prime? What's that? John's voice had softened as he spoke.
"It was a world left by the Builders. A library of sorts. The Peacekeepers had a research base there." Ulric let out a long breath. "Jack detonated a device that removed all matter from a five light cycle sphere in that reign of space." The sadness returned to Ulric's eyes and he appeared to age right in front of John. Ulric cleared his throat. "They are safe now, thanks to your father." John noticed as Ulric spoke he was softly petting the wall of Moya next to the transparency.
John's stare turned back through the transparency to the pillars of illuminated gas from the stellar nursery beyond. He spoke quietly and evenly. "Would you consider my father a friend, Ulric?"
"What?" Ulric was puzzled by the question. "Yes," he smiled as he thought back to all the arguments they'd had. "I mean, we argued about everything. Nearly got me killed a few times", Ulric chuckled. "Frelling human!"
John moved to the side of the transparency. He sat on the storage shelves that ran below the five transparencies at the front of the central chamber and took a long swig of his drink. "He and I were never that close." John tipped his head back and finished his drink. "Don't get me wrong, I loved him and I know he loved me. It's just…I think I tried too hard to compete with him." John smiled slightly at Ulric. "Then, out here, I found a life…a fucked up life, but a life that I came to enjoy." John stopped talking when Aeryn approached with a tankard of Nectar.
"I think you boys could use this. Ulric noticed that Aeryn and John did not make eye contact.
She left them the large pitcher and went back to the table where both the conversation and the Fellip nectar were flowing. Ulric looked back to John questioningly. "I thought you and she were…"
"Ya, well it's a long story…" John smiled as he looked at the floor. "We tried for a while. But it just didn't work out."
Ulric smiled. "Enra and I have had our share of problems. If it weren't for your father, we would have never gotten together."
John looked at Ulric again. "Do you miss him?" John watched as Ulric seemed to react physically to the question.
"Every day… you see, now that I have a son of my own, I understand far better where he was coming from." He could not look at John any longer so he turned back to the transparency. "You have a great gift, John. Only now, with my own son, do I see it. Being able to have the support of parents is an amazing thing. As I watch Jack grow, I wonder what of my parents? Who were they? What were they like? Ulric exhaled deeply. "No we were… They are… The Peacekeepers are wrong. Raising children in regiments instead of families is just wrong."
John realized that Ulric looked at Jack as a father figure. This realization changed, in that brief moment, his entire view of Ulric. Whether Ulric would, or could, recognize that did not matter John's jealousy of Ulric evaporated in that instant. John picked up the pitcher and poured it in Ulric's glass. "It's a small world after all…"
Ulric tensed as he found it difficult to deal with the feelings that their little conversation had dredged up. "So, I have been meaning to ask. What's with the PK gear?"
"Well, you know Uli, when in Rome do as the Romans do." John smiled sarcastically and raised his glass.
Ulric looked at him questioningly. "Ah, an earth-ism. How I've missed them! Do you mind putting that in terms that our little microbe friends can translate?"
"They say I look like a Sebacean. On a few occasions I have had to act like one, so why not look the part. I ain't gonna get caught with my pants down again." Ulric was going to comment again but John stopped him. "Sorry… A few years, ah-cycles, ago, I got put in this machine that kinda screwed with my head. I thought I was over it, but about a quarter cycle ago it sort of started again, these nightmares." This time it was John's turn to change the subject. "That's not important. So what's with this ability to communicate with Leviathans?
This was a subject Ulric didn't want to talk about but, with his son running around having conversations with Moya, he knew it would be inevitable. He took a couple of gulps of his drink. "About ten cycles ago I started hearing them. Their communications are their songs…" He always had a hard time explaining the concept. It was like trying to describe color to a blind man.
"Your father compared it to a creature on your world called a while or a whirl? They swim in your oceans.
"Ya, they're called whales" John smiled slightly. It's nice to see Aeryn isn't the only one who has difficulty with English. Erp!
"You have to understand, John, I can't comprehend exactly what they are saying, I can merely get impressions from them. I can also send them concepts as long as it is nothing scientific. There are some nasty side effects, though. The link can be damaging. I have to choose carefully when to communicate and for how long."
"What about Jack?"
"He is another story. He speaks their language, he sings their language." Ulric smiled like a proud father. "He understands it fully on a conversational level." John picked up on the fear that entered Ulric's eyes. "It is a wonderful gift, or curse. If the Peacekeepers ever find out about his ability, it would be a death sentence for him.
"Don't worry, Ulric, he has them on his side" John turned back to the transparency and patted the wall lightly "I know Moya, and if the others out there are like her, then he could never have a better group of friends." John placed his drink down. "Ulric, I don't hold you responsible for my father…" John had to clear his throat, as he felt the onslaught of emotions that came with those words. "If you will excuse, me it's been a long day". John turned stiffly and exited the central chamber, while Ulric remained at the window for some time. He closed his eyes and could hear them, conversing across unknown distances with the songs of their lives.
Here We Come…
Things had progressed nicely during the three weeks they had been here. DK was slowly coming around now that his wife and children had arrived. But Barry felt this was all a mistake How could such an advanced civilization be evil? What could they possibly want with us? They can generate their own massive gravity- propelled ships through space. What could earth hold for them? "No!" he spat out loud. Barry made his plans. He would make contact with the Aliens, the Peacekeepers, at any cost. He sat back in the overstuffed leather chair and looked at the ceiling. I will prove that we no longer have to blunder through history on the coattails of violence! The world will then know they are not here to invade us. A proud smile erupted as he pulled a cigar from his jacket pocket.
Barry didn't get two puffs from it when the sentinel called. Your are in a no smoking area, Visitor 112-227-998, Mr. Murphy. Please extinguish the material or move to a designated smoking area. Thank you. Its automated voice kept everyone on their toes.
"Thanks big brother!" He yelled at the ceiling as he threw his cigar into his coffee. He was about to leave when DK stormed into the large conference hall.
"Barry, we have to stop the Guardian!"
"What? I don't…" It took a moment for Barry's mind to get up to speed. "No, don't worry, the Guardian will be kept as a final resort. Besides the radiation poisoning is the least of our concerns."
"Radiation! What are you talking about? What radiation…"
"OK, lad, lets take a step back." Barry sat back in his chair, his fingers digging slightly into its arms. "Explain to me why we can't use the Guardian."
"If the wormhole aperture… if its event horizon is generated as I…we… theorize, it could be effected by a nuclear blast."
Barry's fingers dug deeper into the armrests. "How so?"
"This is all pretty thick stuff, but it looks like the energy wave would be exponentially greater then either of the Farscape ships created in the past."
"So?" Barry temper was short and he was tired. He had been up all night trying to get the maintenance completed on the SSTO space liner that they had absconded with.
"Look, Farscape 2 was a larger craft than Farscape 1." DK threw down the mass of paperwork he was holding. "The gravity sheer that was produced by Farscape 2 was two point seven times greater than Farscape 1's. Guess what the projected size difference was between the two wormholes."
Barry looked at the mass of calculations in front of him. "Don't tell me-two point seven times larger?
"Very good, Barry. TWO POINT SEVEN!" DK moved closer to Barry. "If we detonate any of those bombs near the wormhole who knows how large the event horizon aperture could get?"
"Get me some numbers that back this up, then I will talk to the President."
I have sims running the numbers right now. It predicts that the model won't be completed for at least six days."
"Why will it take so long?"
DK smiled sarcastically. "I only had access to the three optical Cray computers here on at the lake." DK had read about them but never thought he would see one, let alone operate three, of them. DK was definitely being seduced by this place.
"OK! OK! All the more reason to get the SSTO up to the station." Barry looked at his Dat pad. He was running late.
"I have been meaning to ask, Barry, you expect us to do our research from the International Space Station?" DK's sarcastic smile widened. "Just how are we gonna run around up there with a fleet of space planes and have no one take notice of us?"
"Oh, DK", Barry chuckled. "You really should get your nose out of the books more often." Barry moved forward and touched the screen of his Dat pad. The far wall of the conference room, that just a moment ago had looked like paneling, turned flat black and then illuminated with the image of a famous newscaster.
DK looked at Barry, "You people scare me."
"What the frell!"
When Ulric joined the laughing group at the table, Enra looked at him with her pleasing smile. "How did it go?" She wrapped her arm around his waist, pulling him down on the bench next to her.
"If I didn't know better, I would say you were drunk, Enra?" Ulric grinned suspiciously at her. He's a… I don't know… I mean he doesn't hold me reasonable for Jack's death."
Chiana looked at D'Argo then back at Ulric. "Enra told us what happened to Jack." Her head bobbed to the side. "He made his choice." She smiled as if trying to express some measure of understanding.
Aeryn, who had sat alone at the end of the table, did not look up at Ulric as she spoke. "I would say he met his destiny. It was his calling." Her attempt at being supportive failed miserably and Aeryn descended back into silence.
Ulric thought it strange that Aeryn would choose a Peacekeeper saying when referring to Jack. It was almost repellent to him to have his friend referred to in that manner. Ulric looked at Aeryn but knew better than to comment. We are not as much alike as I had first thought.
Chiana looked around the table as she shifted forward in the seat. "D'Argo, get another cylinder from our quarters. I think this is a night to celebrate." Chiana's smile had become mutinous.
D'Argo was about to protest when he saw Chiana's head bob towards the door. He knew all to well by now that she wanted…to get rid of him! He stood quietly and looked at Ulric. "Come, Ulric, I think they need some space."
Ulric took a few microts to catch on. "Yes, D'Argo, I think I could use a little air…"
As they left, Zhaan's eyes followed them. Once they were gone she moved over next to Enra.
"Enra, you are full Vladic, are you not?"
"Yes, Zhaan, the Dasival clan is over twelve thousand cycles old." She looked from Zhaan to Aeryn who had by this time moved up closer.
"You might be able to help us…help John…" Zhaan said in a slightly nervous tone.
"Yes, if I can. What is all this about?" Enra looked at each of them-they were worried. Worried about John. "OK, what's going on?"
Aeryn shifted forward and took a big gulp of her Fellip nectar. "About a quarter cycle ago, John and Rygel were on a commerce planet. They ran into some trouble with a group of Peacekeepers." Aeryn just looked down into her glass. "John has not been the same since."
"What happened on this planet? What happened to Rygel?" Enra moved forward toward Aeryn.
"We don't know." Aeryn poured herself another glass of nectar. "We found John and Rygel on the transport pod. Rygel was dead…" Aeryn made that statement in her cool Peacekeeper tone. She had so many time wished the little toad dead. But now...now she found that she regretted all that. Her composure cracked as she continued, "John had a pulse wound to his chest." Chiana placed her hand on Aeryn's shoulder but Aeryn reacted like it was a hot poker, batting it away. Aeryn got to her feet. "If I had gone with them…"
Zhaan stood up from the table. "Aeryn, nothing would have changed!"
"Zhaan, you don't know that…" Aeryn turned from them and walked silently from the center chamber.
Zhaan sat back down next to Enra. "Since then, John has not been the same and Aeryn blames herself. I tried to share unity with him to see what is happening in his head. It almost killed him…"
"Almost killed both of you!" Chiana added.
Enra sat back in her chair. "So, you want me to induce rapture in John to see if we can get to the bottom of this?"
Zhaan looked at Enra and the sadness in her eyes was profound. "There are risks. Your biology is much closer to John's than mine, you may be affected as well."
"That's not important, Zhaan," Enra smiled. John's father had given her this life she had now. Regardless of the risks, she would do anything for his son. "Moya said we were here to fix John. I thought she meant Uli, but obviously she was talking about me. So when do you want to try?"
Chiana laughed at the two of them. "How do you know the frelling human will want you poking around in his head, anyway?"
Enra looked at Zhaan slyly. "She doesn't know, does she?" Enra watched as a mischievous smile came to Zhaan's face. Enra looked back at Chiana. Chiana reacted briefly at the sight of Enras eyes. They were different. There seemed to be small pupils and she couldn't look away. She was going to say something, but couldn't. The blackness of rapture descended on the unknowing Nebari.
She awoke microts later. Slowly her head cleared. "What the frell!"
Sorry, Chiana, it was just easer to show you than to try and
"Become a live feeder first, then we will talk of how to induce the rapture".
Chiana sat back on her chair, "Ah, I think I'll pass."
Enra stood from the table. "I think I should see where Jack ran off to."
"I will come with you. I can show you to our spacious guest suite. Nothing but the best on Moya," Chiana laughed sarcastically.
Zhaan sat alone, her mind filled with troubled thoughts. Something had been wrong about her Unity with John, she couldn't understand it. There was something there. Something unnatural planted in his mind. Hopefully with Enra's help they would get to the bottom of it.
The end of part 4
Preview of part 5.
"Wait, Aeryn, we can't leave!" John moved from the consol to the center of the command deck.
"We have no choice, your Module could not withstand a near miss from one of those marauders." She tried to be as compassionate as she knew how. "I'm sorry, John, We have to go."
John looked back at the shimmering whirlpool. He watched as his last chance to go home slowly collapsed. "Get us out of here!"
"Ok, Talyn, StarBurst!" She held her breath expecting the gut-wrenching disorientation, but nothing happened
"Talyn, if we don't escape they will capture us and you know what they will do with you." The lights dimmed in the core of the command. "Thank you, Talyn." Aeryn reached up and patted the ceiling support above the core. "I don't want anything to hurt you!" As the energy pulse grew from his tail and Talyn was about to slip between dimensions, it happened. The energy from the StarBurst shell that was encompassing Talyn expanded the mouth of the wormhole. Like an angry creature it consumed the small battleship. Talyn was now unwillingly headed for the planet Earth.