Part V Chapter 2, Part 5: I Have a Plan
Lan was called to the captain's chambers. She announced herself at the door. She was tired, tired of the game she and the beast were playing.When she entered, Scorpius stood alone at his command console. "Lt. Lan, I wish you to take Delcar wing on a little trip."
"You know my orders, Scorpius, I am…"
"I know, Lieutenant. I also know you are looking for a way to get on the council. If my plan works you will have what you wish."
"And if this plan of yours fails?"
"You will still have what you want. I will have failed in generating a stable wormhole. You will then be within your right to have me retired." He smiled at her as he stepped closer."You see, my dear, it is a win/win situation for you."
Her stomach turning at his proximity, knowing that the shadows of the truth were working for her, she did not try to hide the smile that grew on her face. "What is your plan, Captain?"
"Is your smile for the idea of killing me or for the thought of sitting on the PK council?"
She shifted back so that her shoulder just brushed against his armor. "Yes," she said as she stepped away from the alien.
Scorpius returned the smile. "Very good!" and laughed slightly. "Very good indeed." He stepped back to his command console. "Take the Delcar wing to these coordinates and wait."
"Wait! Wait for what?"
"I will download the bio signature of a very unusual Biomech ship."
Anger rose in her. "You want me to capture a Biomech! I will not waste my time capturing…"
"Lieutenant, you will not capture it. You will follow it through Peacekeeper territory. When it comes to a rest you will then be allowed to destroy it."
"I don't see the purpose…"
"Teasa, trust me. The ship will, if my calculation is correct, bring you to a stable wormhole."
"What!" She was shocked by the simple concept.
"You see, my studies have hit a dead end. I need a stable wormhole to overcome the problem."
She stepped towards him. "How do you know one exists?"
Scorpius turned away from her to hide the smile that was betraying him. "Let's just say I have seen it secondhand," he said, thinking back to the wonderful images he had gotten from Crichton.
"We will leave immediately." Lan started to leave but she stopped at the threshold. "If this fails I hope you won't try to disappear into the uncharted territories. That's been done." She turned to face him and smiled. "I mean I would rather kill you some place closer to home."
"Don't worry, Teasa, I will not let you down." He watched her leave and the hatch close behind her. Scorpius found it strange, this respect he was starting to feel for her. "It is a shame I will have to kill you when this is all over."
First Zhaan! Now You! Thanks, But No Thanks!
Enra waited until Jack and Ulric were asleep. The rapture was a private matter and she would not perform it in front of the others. She quietly got dressed and headed down the tier towards John's quarters. She peered into his room. He was sitting at the small table holding a vile of pills in his hands. As she slowly entered, her soft footsteps were masked by the natural sounds of the being they inhabited but John sensed her presence. He turned his head slightly, catching her image out of the corner of his eye. He spun around in one quick motion, pulling his pulse gun out and pointing it at Enra.
"Get back, Enra! I don't know what the frell you are doing here…"
Enra did not react to the weapon. "Relax, John," she said coolly as she continued her approach.
John laughed sickly. "Back off, Enra!"
She slowed her approach making sure he did not break his stare. "I am here to help."
"Ya! First Zhaan, now you. Thanks, but no thanks! I have had enough people fuckin' with my head for one lifetime…" Then he noticed them, the small black pupils that were forming in the center of her iridescent green eyes. John dropped is pulse gun as he slipped from consciousness.
Enra had an idea of what she was looking for in his mind because Zhaan had shared what images she had of the event. To free her travels, first she implanted the memories. A gift for the intrusion. In the blink of an eye, he stood on the great breakwater. John was disoriented at first. He turned toward land, and there before him he saw himself as a boy and his mother. Gloucester? Mom's family had a cottage there. We spent time here when Dad wasn't in training. That was a long time ago. They were walking on the huge granite steps that descend to the harbor. John realized he was seeing this image from his father's eyes. These were his memories, John thought. John felt the rush of emotions overtake him. As he watched, they were laughing and playing follow the leader. Mom was beautiful. John had a hard time remembering what she had looked like before the ravages of cancer had taken her …The memory disappeared but John hoped that when he woke, if he woke, he would remember this gift.
Enra shuffled through the ramparts of this human's memories. She probed deeper and the images flowed to Enra as if she were there. The first unnatural memory she stumbled across was of John and Rygel. It was not so much an unnatural memory so much as a block of some of his memories. She descended into the events below the neural block and what she witnessed was horrific. John was being chased by a PK patrol. She felt his panic as he sprinted through the narrow streets of this world, the air hot and sticky. He turned the next block and the sting of a low set pulse rifle struck him from behind. Enra almost lost the rapture from the pain.
She felt the sensations of John waking. As his eyes began to focus utter dread filled her. "Scorpius," she said aloud in unison with the human.
She watched the creature pace in front of John as he franticly tried to get free of his Peacekeeper restraints. "John, stop that. You could damage yourself!"
"Fuck you!" John spat reacting to Scorpius as a cornered animal would.
"Now, John, I am not here to hurt you. In a few microts you will be free to go."
Enra felt the twinge of anger that built in John's soul for even mentioning the possibility of freedom. "You see, John, I need your help." He stepped forward and bent down to be face to face with his prey. He smiled sickly at John.
"My research is as important to me as it was to you at one time." Scorpius stood and walked back to the door, motioning for the guards to leave. He was now alone with the human.
"Central Command is not very happy with me, I fear. You have distracted me from my primary purpose."
"That's too bad, Scorpi, I don't suppose they'll be retiring you any time soon!" John laughed sickly
"If you only knew, John." The smile drained from his face. "I have hit a roadblock in my research. I need to study an area that has been specially distorted by a worm hole. Your worm hole. I need to find the exact coordinates of it."
"Ya sure, pal. Why not? And while you're at it, you can kiss my ass!"
"John, John, John, you don't understand. You will do this for me." His smile widened. "Not because you want to, but because you have to."
Enra felt the terror in John's mind as he uttered those words. Scorpius stepped back and a team brought in a large device, placing it on a table in the corner of the dirty room. "Do you like it? I have made it far more portable and now that I have a map of your neural pathways it will be easy for me to program you to do as I wish."Enra watched in terror as the techs struggled to lock John's head to the front of the device. As it was activated she severed the Rapture. Her brain was too dissimilar from his to handle what was in that machine.
"By the gods, John!" Enra had to collect herself for a few microts before going back in. She was exhausted but she was too close to the answer to stop now. She re-entered his mind, needing to go beyond the place where that hideous machine was running. She found a point she could start with. John was exhausted. "We spent too much time here they'll be suspicious, we spent too much time here they'll be…," he kept muttering it over and over again as he walked down the deserted streets of the planet.
She watched as he entered the transport pod.
"Where the Hezmana were you, Crichton? I was just about to call Moya."
"Relax, Sparky, did you get what we needed?"
"Yes of course, good bartering on this world. The locals are frelling stupid."
"That's my Fluffy, always compassionate for others."The transport broke free of the planet's hold, heading for their rendezvous point with Moya.
Rygel woke from one of his many naps. "What's going on, John? You don't seem yourself."
"I am fine." John stood from the control station and walked back into the cargo hold of the transport. "Rygel, come here please."
"I don't know what's gotten into you, Crichton, but if you're going to be like this the entire trip, I will choose D'Argo to go with the next time. At least he would leave me in peace.""Come here please…"Rygel flew his throne sled into the cargo hold of the Biomech transport. "What was so frelling important…" Rygel barely had time to utter a word as John raised his pulse gun and fired. Rygel's small body struck the bulkhead near the access way to the flight deck. The smoking remains of the throne chair spiraled to the floor. Enra watched in disbelief. Not just that John had killed Rygel, but that she felt no emotion from the act. John was not conscious of his actions. He stood in the center of the cargo hold, just staring at the lifeless body of Rygel. He started mumbling again. "Think of an excuse John! We spent to much time here they'll be suspicious. Think of an excuse John! We spent too much time here they'll be…" Enra watched as he adjusted the settings on his pulse gun. "Think of an excuse John! We spent to much time..." He then turned the gun on himself and fired. This was the end of this memory fragment. Enra made sure as she passed out of the blocked area that the neural block remained intact. He should never remember this event. Whatever Scorpius did, he meant for John not to remember this event.
Enra collected herself and continued her search. She was startled by the image of Jack. She uttered the words out loud. "By the gods, you seem real." As she approached the image, she realized there was something else there, something dark. She could smell it as she stepped up to the image of Jack Crichton. She knew that this memory had been altered. There was something mechanical about it, but she could not describe the feeling. She caught a glimpse of it. The hideous creature. "Scorpius!" Enra's mind erupted in pain and as her mind screamed she tried to sever the rapture, but it was too late.
John saw him, the image of his father No, not your father! He had to keep reminding himself. They were in the hive, and standing next to Jack was Enra. She was studying the image of Jack. It was a struggle for John to look over toward where they stood. "What are you doing here, En…" Enra's screams passed through him like bolts of lightning in his mind. John watched helplessly as she fell to the floor at the feet of the alien who took the form of John's father. As the images began to fade, John heard it, the voice as clear as if Jack were standing in front of him. John, the key is to return to the exit point. The wormhole is still there. You must go back to the exit point. The images were gone and John fell into a deep sleep. The rapture was complete.
ISSThe ISS was strangely quiet, even though there were four teams in rotation placing the bombs in front of the projected aptitude region of the Crichton anomaly. Those who were not EVA were sleeping. Barry floated down the central access of the habitation module that had been designated for his team. He came to a stop near DK's quarters and listened to the recording DK was making.
DK released his data tablet and floated from his cramped quarters. He almost ran into Barry, who was floating upside down in the access way. "Shit, Barry, what are you doing?"
"Just listening to your message to home." Barry smiled sheepishly. "Care to get a bite? I am headed up to the observation lounge."
"No. No thanks. That's the last thing I need right now…"
"You still have The Touch?" He chuckled. "That's ok. I think my first bout lasted six days, and that was back in the Mir days. You know, barf into the vacuum cleaner."
"I really don't want to talk about it, if you don't mind." DK's color turned to a pasty white.
An evil smirk had filled his face as he spoke. "Sure, sorry lad. I'll leave you be." Barry proceeded back through the access way.
DK headed for the lavatory to see if he had anything left between his lips and his colon. He suffered from what the spacers called "The Touch". Space sickness. He had filled six large bags in the first three days on board. He would always say the same thing. "Hey, I'm the physicist. If you guys hadn't lost my test pilot, I wouldn't have to be here!" No one would ever laugh. DK had already gone through every possible type of mourning for the loss of his closest friend. Now it was only through sarcastic humor that he found solace. "How strange?" Then, when he received the message from Jack, he knew that he had not lost his friend forever. One day, DK knew, they would see each other again. If DK only knew…that day was coming soon.
The Defender Castra
Gorran was woken from a restless sleep. His second in command was paging him. "Captain! Captain! It's a cruiser on patrol. I think it's spotted us."
Her nervous tone surprised him. Petra was one of his coolest officers. "I am on my way." He dressed quickly and ran down the spiral corridor that encompassed the command core. The Castra had a crew of only twenty. All had volunteered for the duty of trying to repair the last surviving Defender. When it was first built, some had said that the Defender Castra was the greatest accomplishment of their race. Now it would appear to have been the cause of the Vladic's downfall. But it was also the only hope of a future for the few survivors of Casival.
It had been a difficult task. The Biomech ship had been in a number of battles during the seven cycles since they had escaped their home world. The Castra's memory core was shunted from the rest of the systems, a security measure that was activated when Gorran had daringly stolen it from the space dock above their home world during the invasion. The memory core held the plans for the ship, and with them the ability to repair it. Without data prints to follow, repairing the ship was a slow process. The shunt was impenetrable, the designers had done a good job of keeping their secrets. Too good! They had no way of gaining access to the knowledge stored deep in the ship. They were on their own
They had succeeded in doing what Narra had asked. Gorran thought back to her parting words: "Nothing fancy, Gorran, I need the Nul-Shift and the drive… Is that understood?" She knew him too well-he was an engineer first, a commander second. But now, due to his leader's orders, the Castra could once again Starburst and the Nul-Shift weapon was ready. They were on a long slow course back to the citadel they had constructed on R-007-09. It was safer to take an indirect route in case they were followed. Gorran walked to the center of the command core. Petra stepped from the overseer's platform and he smiled at his young nervous first officer. "Report, commander?"
"Peacekeeper, Enforcer class Cruiser, on an intercept course, four hundred microts."
"How did they find us?" He looked over their course log.
"They must have been patrolling the system we passed a few arns ago."
"Prepare to starburst."
"Sir, the amnexus system is being cleaned-we found heavy inflammation after our last starburst. It will not be back on line for three arns."
"Frell!" Gorran looked back toward the sealed hatch at the rear of the command core. "Very well, Commander," he smiled reassuringly at Petra, "prepare the weapon."Gorran dreaded this moment but he would ask none of his crew to take his place. He had been in the Fold three times since they had left Casival. The Fold had not been designed for him, nor was he trained in its use. As with everything on board the Castra, it was trial and error. Though, as he knew, the Fold was not forgiving of errors. He broke the seal on the small bio chamber at the rear of the command core. A wave of moist air passed over him as the hatch lowered to the floor. He striped and entered the warm chamber. Modesty was long since lost during the cycles of running from the peacekeepers. He had to crouch slightly to fit into the chair. As his first officer sealed the hatch, the neural tissue that was attached to the ceiling slowly descended around him.
He fought the sensation of smothering when the neural tissue enveloped him. As he descended into the Fold, it took over the duties of breathing for him. Next came the gut wrenching sensation of falling as the micro fibers of the bioclusters found their way to the corresponding locations in his brain. His own vision dimmed and was replaced by the sensors of the ship. With Gorran fully immersed in the Fold, the lifeless Biomech ship again had a soul.
The conjugate of his mind and the ship attacked with such speed that the cruiser had no chance of retaliation. Gorran reversed their course and headed towards the Peacekeeper ship. He merely instructed the weapon to fire and a churning blue spherical cloud emerged from the maw of the Castra. They witnessed small explosions in its wake as the sphere touched free hydrogen atoms that floated in its path. When the sphere reached the approaching Peacekeeper vessel, the small dipression of space-time that was the Nul shift passed through the defence screens and touched its hull. The localized distortion, tore through cruiser's drive section as the Hetch drive shielding was compromised the ship shuttered slightly then erupted in a blinding explosion. The crew of the Castra, minus its captain, watched the death dance of the enimy vessel. They stood in the command core breathless in awe as the cruiser erupted in a second wave of violent explosion that seemed to vibrate through space-time. Even in the Fold, Gorran could feel the raw power of the Nul shift weapon. "What have we created?"
It had been twelve arns since they had found Enra. Ulric had spent most of that time searching for information on board his Marauder. The Peacekeepers had deleted most of the Vladic medical files. What use could they be to a race that is now considered to be dead? He found nothing and he needed a break. He took a slow walk through Moya. He needed time. How could he raise Jack alone? How could he servive with-out her? "No!" Ulric stopped walking and decided at that moment-if they didn't find a way to revive her from this coma, he would bring her back to the Citadel. The Vladics would have to help her. He hoped. He started looking for Jack, not an easy task, but Ulric found him deep in conversation with Pilot. He was sitting on Pilot's console making rattling click and buzz sounds to the giant beast. Ulric was surprised by the sounds-had he heard them before? "I hope my son is not taking up too much of your time, Pilot.
"No, Commander Selton…ah…Ulric, not at all. Pilot smiled at Jack, then looked at Ulric."
Jack turned back to face his father, "Pilot is teaching me his language." He returned and uttered a number of clicks and buzzes. Pilot smiled at the boy. He then made a similar sound back and Jack laughed!
Ulric remembered the Pilot on the Aben. While they worked on her she had made these same sounds. The Pilots' language was the most complex language in recorded history.
"Hey, hey remember me? My translators don't speak Pilot."
"It is amazing Commander…ah…Ulric, your son's ability for language adaptation is quite remarkable. The few Sebaceans that know how to communicate with it use very primitive portions of the language. Your son, in just a few arns, is conversing with true concepts."
Ulric's face shifted to one of concern, "Pilot, I hope that…"
Pilot raised one claw towards Ulric. "With all that you have done? I promise no one will ever find out."
Zhaan's voice interrupted them. "Ulric, could you come to the apothecary?"
"What is it, Zhaan?"
"No change, but I have an idea."
"I'm on my way." He moved forward and kissed his son on the top of his head. "Stay here!"
"Can I see her now, Daddy?"
"No, son, she is still sleeping." He did not know where he got the strength to smile at his son.
"She's going to be ok, isn't she?" Jack's eyes seemed to widen with the question.
"Yes, Jack, she will be fine." He hated lying to him, but Jack was too young to be worried about his mother. Ulric would worry more then enough for both of them.
John sat up from the bed and scanned the room he was in. Zhaan's apothecary. Aeryn was standing next to him and was slightly startled by his jump to consciousness. "I know, Aeryn!" He hissed. " I freaking know what he was saying to me." He pulled her forward and, hugging her, he choked out a deep laugh. "I know what he said!"
"Who, John?" Aeryn broke his embrace studying his expression carefully.
His smile widened. "My dad…well not my dad, you know, the Alien from the false earth. He showed me how to get home. Pilot! I gotta talk to Pilot."
"Wait, John…" She was stunned by the change in his expression. It was as if he had recaptured part of what was taken from him here in the Uncharted Territories.
"No time, Ms Sun, I might have found my ticket back through the looking glass." As John jumped off the bed, Aeryn could not help but notice the return of the darkness in his eyes when he saw Enra.
John took a few steps toward the unconscious Vladic. Enra was lying on a MediBed with a scanner monitoring her life signs. Ulric and Zhaan were stooped over her body. He remembered Enra entering his quarters, then her eyes. Those eyes. Like a flash, the memories she had implanted in his mind made themselves known. John saw himself as a boy walking on the breakwater with his mother. "What the hell...". As John tried to cherish it, other images came forward like waves lapping on the shoreline. John was viewing events from his father's life as seen through Enra's eyes. He saw his father's reaction to John's image for the first time back on the Lursa so many years ago. John watched as Enra, Jack and Ulric outwitted a team of Peacekeepers that had boarded the Lursa. John was almost overwhelmed by the feelings that came with all these newly planted memories.
The final memory was of Ulric it was a strange bittersweet memory. Ulric was yelling at Jack. "Save it, Jack! Your frelling son is on that ship, not here!" John watched as a bloody Ulric stormed from the command tier of Lursa. The memory faded. "Whoa! Talk about deja vu!"
Zhaan turned from the unconscious body of Enra. "What is it, John? Are you all right?" Ulric knew by John's reactions that he was experiencing memories that Enra had shared with him. "You'll be fine, John, it just takes a while for those new memories to find a proper place in your head.
"I'm fine. What about Enra?" He stepped past Zhaan to where the Vladic lay and looked up at Ulric.
"We were hoping you could tell us." Aeryn said coolly. "It would appear she is in some form of shock."Zhaan took over the conversation from her. Zhaan had always felt that Aeryn's bedside manner was somewhat lacking at times like these. "I tried to link with her but she is shut off. I can't get through. The biocluster readings are very low, but it would appear to be self induced."
"She is doing this to herself?" John knelt down next to Enra. "Why?"
Ulric looked up at Zhaan. "I-we don't know. Enra was never very forthcoming about her past."
Aeryn walked up to John. "When I found you, you were deep in the rapture. Enra was like this. She obviously had found something in your mind like Zhaan did. Something that triggered this…"
Zhaan added quietly. "It is possible that this is some form of safety switch to keep whatever she found from damaging her mind?"
Aeryn knelt down next to John and looked up at Ulric. A small smile came to his face. Aeryn looked at him with a questioning glance. "I know this is hard, John, but we need to know what was in those memories…Please?" Even Zhaan was surprised by her compassion
"Everything! Aeryn, she gave me memories of my father and of her and of you." John looked up at Ulric. "I guess you and I are more alike then I imagined." John smiled. He enjoyed the sudden uncomfortable expression that came over Ulric's face. John looked back down at Enra. "She unlocked the way for me to get home." He looked up from the unconscious woman in front of him. " But it ain't worth the cost," he said hoarsely.
I Am Starric Gorran Reht. Who Are You?
Gorran sat in the womb-like structure of the Fold. He was about to emerge when he heard them. He had heard them before, short tones and chirps, but nothing like this. He heard the music, the language of sounds and colors that was the communication of the Biomechanoids. He listened for a long time and then decided to try and communicate. How? He did not know. He spoke in his mind. Hello I wish to... They all stopped at once and he heard nothing. They obviously they wanted nothing to do with him. He was about to give the command to open the Fold when he caught the small voice. Who are you? It sounded like a child. Its voice sent a chill down his spine.
He spoke slowly and evenly, I am Starric Gorran Reht. Who are you?
He could make out laughter I'm Jack. What are you? You are not one of my friends.
Gorran was taken aback. Was it possible that the child of Enra and the Peacekeeper could be communicating with him? Dasvalla Jack Selton?
He heard the little boy laugh Dasvalla my mom only calls me that!
Gorran had to consentrate he didn't want to loose the connection. I am Gorran, Jack. I am a friend of your mother and father. Remember, we visited your home many times?
Gorran noted the change in the communication. You made us leave. You are no friend.
That's not true! Gorran knew that the communication had been severed. Well, Jack, I hope we can talk again. He commanded the Fold to open and begin the birthing process, a violent and painful separation from the neural tissue of the Fold. He was soaked and exhausted as they helped him out of the chamber. He slowly got dressed as his command crew congratulated him on the kill. They all rattled off reports on the systems. They truly didn't understand the Fold. Gorran knew everything that was in the reports. He was, for a short time, the Defender Castra. He looked wearily at Petra. "Set a course for the citadel, I want to get home." He thought of those words as they slipped from his lips. No, they could never hope to really go home.
The end of Part 5