The Command Carrier was dark
and musty, the lighting dim. The Peacekeepers that dragged their prisoner through
its corridors blended in with the shadows that filled the ship. Their prisoner
was not cooperating, digging his feet in and refusing to go quietly. More than
once they stopped along the way, beating him down and then picking him up and dragging him until he put up his resistance
again. Several hundred microts passed before they finally brought him to the
bridge, dragging him bloodied and beaten into the room. He could barely stand,
but a wry smile darkened his face as he stated, “Scorpius.”
Their commander turned, a smile
on his sunken face.
“Commander Crichton. Aren’t you glad to see me?”
The prisoner spat blood at his
feet, his clear blue eyes glaring daggers. The half-breed approached him slowly.
“It took me a while to
catch up with you on Decca. A pity you were alone. I assume your shipmates were in the area . . . but all I really wanted was you.” He was quite close now—so close that John could feel his breath hot upon his face. “Trying to get some medicines for your Delvian, were you? What
a shock you must have felt when you found that your trader was actually a Peacekeeper.”
He laughed, then motioned for the Peacekeepers to step back, leaving their prisoner swaying, his feet braced against
the grating of the ship’s bridge. “Don’t worry. All is well, now. You are back where you belong, and hopefully,
you will be more cooperative with me.”
Without warning, John lashed
out at Scorpius, fist connecting with forearm as Scorpius blocked his blow, took hold of his wrist, and twisted, adding a
kick to the back of John’s knees to take him down. The Peacekeepers warily
placed their hands on their guns, but Scorpius waved them back. “I will
take care of this insubordination,” he said, a smile touching his lips.
John rolled over on the floor,
scrambling to regain his footing. Blood from a cut on his forehead was dripping
into his right eye, hindering sight. Scorpius waited, and John again swung at
him, a foolish, wide open blow that Scorpius easily blocked, grabbing his arm and kneeing him in the ribs. There was a snapping sound, and John collapsed onto the floor, his breath gone.
“I can do this all day,
Crichton,” Scorpius said, pacing around him, utterly relaxed. “You,
however, are in no shape to be attempting to fight me. Even if you were armed
and well, the chances are still slim that you could actually overcome me.”
John again pushed himself to
his feet, lunging towards Scorpius. The alien back fisted him in the jaw, sending
him reeling to the floor. John did not attempt to get up.
“I am reminded of a story
I discovered hidden in your mind when you were in the Aurora chair,” Scorpius said, kneeling by John. “I believe you called it The Call of
the Wild. The animal this story was about had to learn the way of the club. He was beaten down again and again until he finally learned that he could not fight
anymore. Nothing can beat a club. I
am the club in your story, John. You need to learn that. As painful as this lesson may be, it needs to be taught.”
John pushed himself to his hands
and knees and coughed, his vision blurry. Blood flecked the floor beneath him,
and the blood spots danced and blurred together in his vision. Scorpius’
voice seemed to come from far away, sliding through his mind too slowly for him to comprehend.
His muscles were trembling, but
he tried once again to push himself to his feet.
“You can’t win, Crichton.”
The pain in his ribs was excruciating. Breathing was difficult, and he gasped, drawing in breath through short, quick intervals. He needed oxygen, and his lungs were refusing to cooperate. He could feel the fluid in his lungs as well, and he coughed again, the effort costing him his strength,
and he was back down on his knees.
Scorpius leaned in close, whispering
in his ear. “I can end the pain, John.
Just give in. Tell me all you know about the wormholes, then I’ll
end it for you.”
The alien’s voice echoed
in his skull, and John looked at him, confused. There was a magnetic pull to
that voice, a will inside of him wanting to listen to what he was saying.
“No.” He pushed away from Scorpius. The effort to say that one word
Scorpius’s eyes darkened
and a quiet rage seemed to fill his features. He stood, then kicked John in the
ribs, causing the man to cry out at the pain. Another well aimed kick to the
head flipped him over, and he sprawled unconscious on the deck.
“Take him to a cell,”
The room John Crichton regained
consciousness in was dark and cool. Black walls and floor were shiny with newness,
and the room displayed no furniture in its featurelessness. It was small, the
only light falling through the small window in the cell door.
John coughed, then regretted
the action as the pain in his ribs tore through his body. He didn’t know
how many were broken, but he suspected it was bad. His lungs rattled in his chest,
and he gulped in air before succumbing to the racking coughs again, curling up in the far corner away from the door and pressing
against the wall as though it offered him strength in its solidness.
A face peered in the cell door,
darkening the glass for a moment, then was gone.
Microts later, the door opened,
and John winced at the bright light that shone through the opening. Blinded,
he could not make out the faces of those that entered. They were shadows, with
bright light streaming in over their shoulders and hiding their features. Rough
hands pulled him to his feet, and he doubled over at the pain, a cry escaping him. He
did not resist as they pulled him out the door and half dragged, half carried him down the corridor to another room where
Scorpius stood waiting next to a large, hollow, metallic sphere. He was dragged
over to the sphere, arms outstretched and restrained by leather straps to the sphere’s interlocking braces. He began to resist, then, realizing that this was his last chance.
A blow to his jaw silenced his struggles and next he was aware, a strap was wrapped around his stomach, and then the
sphere rotated so he was stretched out on his back and looking at Scorpius upside down.
He could feel hands tying his feet to the sphere, and then he could not move.
“Nice contraption you got
here, Scorpy,” he said hoarsely. Blood flecked his lips.
“Why thank you, Crichton,”
the half-breed smiled. “I find it provides a certain . . . vulnerability
to most species.”
“Yeah . . . strung out
like a rabbit being tanned isn’t . . . the most pleasant sensation.” John
coughed, his back arching painfully against the restraints.
Scorpius stepped closer and ran
a finger down the side of John’s face. It came away wet, and John realized
then that it was not sweat that he thought was running down his face, but blood. Cocking
his head as he looked at the dark substance on his glove, Scorpius licked his finger, then moved away, a smile on his face.
“You are quite injured,
John,” he said, his back to Crichton as he stood at the console next to the sphere.
“I suspect that if you are left untreated,” he turned to look at John, “you will die.”
“Appears so,” John
answered. Already he could feel unconsciousness creeping in, pressing down on
his mind like an oppressive hand. “Guess that means you won’t get
what you want . . .”
Scorpius walked back into John’s
view, something in his hand. “I always
get what I want, John.” He revealed the item in his hand, spinning a small
metallic disk in his fingers, then pressed it against John’s left temple. A
blinding flash of pain left the man reeling as he jerked against his restraints, his vision blurring.
“This is a more primitive
form of the Aurora chair’s effects,” Scorpius
explained, “However, with this, I can go directly into your memories. Much
more intrusive on your part, but a delight for me.”
“Frell you,” John
threatened. “Stay out of my mind!”
“On the contrary, my dear
Crichton,” Scorpius smiled, “I have been in your mind all along.”
And they were no longer there,
but were standing in a dark room, so expansive John could see no walls or ceiling. A
creeping mist covered the floor, and Scorpius stood before him.
“I want to start at the
beginning, John,” he said.
“I’m not telling
“You really have no choice
in the matter.”
They were standing in a park. Kids were running around them, screaming in delight as the sun shone through the trees.
“Where are we, John?”
He stood still, trying to ignore
Scorpius’ demand and staring at the kids in the park.
“Gator Park.” His voice was strained. He didn’t want to tell Scorpius,
“And why are we here?”
“It’s the beginning,
Scorpy. It’s where I decided I wanted to be an astronaut.” He walked a few paces forward, his speech reluctant and stilted.
“I went bungee jumping with some friends. Heck, I was only six,
but it was like flying. My dad was ticked when he found out. It was the thrill, the rush. I wanted to feel that over and
over. You always feel that when you’re flying.”
The park was gone. They were standing outside of the NASA airbase. Dusk had fallen. It was a warm summer’s evening. John
stood with his hands stuffed in his pockets, part of the memory now. Scorpius
lingered in the background, watching.
Jack Crichton approached him,
stood next to him. Together, they watched the last colors from the sun fade from
“Farscape is looking good,” Jack ventured. “That little
ship should hold through. You sure this is what you want to do, son?”
“Yeah, Dad. I’ve been working on this project my whole life. It’s
only fair I’m the one to test it.”
They were the only words needed.
The memory broke with Scorpius’
voice. “I don’t understand, Crichton.
Why show me this?”
John turned, his gaze severe. “If I hadn’t volunteered to pilot the test run for the slingshot maneuver,
you never would have found me, Scorpy. You wanted the beginning, you got the
beginning. It’s the rest that I won’t tell.”
The landscape around them faded
into the dark expanse they had come to first. Scorpius stood in front of him
again, a suspicious look in his eyes.
“Show me your encounter
with the Ancient.”
John shook his head. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Scorpius lowered his voice to
a death-whisper. “Show me!”
Pain slammed into Crichton’s
body as though he had been hit with a bat. Jerking backwards, he fell to his
knees. The landscape flickered as his mind was unwillingly bent. Images of a cave flickered but did not hold true.
Scorpius grabbed him by the lapels
of his jacket, crouching in front of him. “Show me, Crichton! Stop resisting!”
The landscape flickered again,
like a bad reception on a television set, but would not settle. John laughed,
and Scorpius hit him in the face, knocking him over.
Again, the pain hit him, slamming
into his chest and spreading along every nerve like fire, lingering until he cried out from the pain. A tremor shook his spine.
“You thought the Aurora chair was bad, didn’t you, Crichton?” Scorpius hissed,
a smile playing on his lips. “I learned in my research over the years that
pain does produce memory recall. I
only hope that your memory blocks aren’t strong enough to withstand what this device has to offer,” he tapped
the disk on John’s temple and added, “Or it will be certain death for you in the end.”
“I’m not . . . blocking,”
He felt cold. The landscape and the face in front of him were sliding out of focus.
Scorpius cocked his head and looked him in the eye, his hands still gripping John’s jacket, and then the darkness
was gone, and they were back on the Command Carrier.
The pain from his wounds and
from being stretched out on the sphere was enough to make John begin to lose consciousness.
Scorpius was standing beside him, actual concern in his eyes. A flat,
rectangular shaped device was in his hand, blinking lights on its surface. He
consulted it, frowning.
“Going into shock . . .” He grabbed John’s chin, forcing his head back and looking into his eyes. John moaned as the movement sent flares of pain down his back and into his arms. “Eyes losing focus as well. I’m
giving you a stimulant, Crichton. I need you alive for a little while longer.”
By the time Scorpius returned,
John was out cold. The alien did not feel perturbed.
Scorpius linked back to Crichton
and appeared in the dark mindscape. John lay spread eagle on the ground, eyes
closed, the neural clone standing over his prone body.
“I thought you might come,”
the clone said.
“Of course.” Scorpius approached Crichton and the clone, his face slack. “What have you discovered?”
“The mind blocks are extensive
and quite effective,” the clone answered. “So far, I haven’t
quite developed enough to breach them. I need more time. At least a few weekens more time.”
“Why is it taking so long?”
Scorpius demanded, regarding John’s form with fury.
“This mind is quite fascinating,”
the clone replied. “There are so many twists and turns one might take that
lead you to something entirely opposite of what you were searching for. I have
barely scratched the surface and it has only been a few weekens since I was placed here.”
“In another species’
mind this would not have happened,” Scorpius pointed out.
“Yes. You know how we hate to admit failure.”
“Because we never fail!” Scorpius fumed angrily, pacing. “Crichton
will be no exception. I will have that wormhole technology, no matter how long
“Crichton should not know
of this,” the clone said.
“If he remembers this encounter
it will only be as a dream,” Scorpius replied. “His body is unconscious,
as is his mind.”
“To be safe, his memory
must be altered.”
Scorpius thought for several
long microts before looking up at the clone. “More time,” he nodded. “It will buy more time for you to uncover the wormhole knowledge. I agree. His friends must not know of this either.”
The clone smiled. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
John awoke, disoriented and in
There were green trees above
him, and alien birds flitted about above his head. There was something crashing
through the forest towards him, but he could not summon the strength to rise. Instead,
he reached for the gun at his hip and drew it, pointing the muzzle with shaking hands at the approaching noise. Beside him, he noted, his module sat peacefully beneath the trees, speckled with sunspots.
“John! John, can you hear me?”
The voices calling him were garbled
in his confused mind, and it took him several long microts to comprehend what they were saying.
It was a strange sight indeed
for Aeryn, D’Argo, and Chiana when they stumbled across Farscape 1 and its
human pilot. John lay half on his side, his gun pointed towards them, a crazed
look in his eyes. He was covered in blood and dirt, and a painful cough shook
“John, it’s Aeryn,”
the Peacekeeper said quietly, showing him her empty hands. “Don’t
you recognize me?”
Several microts passed before
John slowly lowered the gun. There was a fever glazed look in his eyes as he
stared at her, confused.
“Aeryn?” he whispered.
She carefully approached him,
and, kneeling down, took the gun from his unresisting fingers.
“John, what happened? It’s been over three days since we last saw you.
You were just supposed to get the supplies and come back to Moya.”
“Supplies . . . ?”
Consciousness was fading, and
Aeryn could see it in the way he began to tilt, his eyes beginning to roll back in his skull.
He fought it, however, and focused on her.
“Someone . . . someone
attacked me,” he said faintly.
“Did you see who?”
D’Argo demanded, his hand moving protectively to his weapon.
Very slightly, John shook his
head with the last of his strength.
“Have you been here all
this time?” Chiana asked.
“Yeah . . . Pip.” John was listing to the side, now, and Aeryn caught him. “Couldn’t . . . couldn’t get to the shuttle . . . Hurt too much.” The last effort was too much for him, and he finally succumbed to the darkness.
Aeryn looked up at her shipmates,
worried. “He’s in bad shape.
Warn Zhaan of his condition. We need to get him back to Moya.”
John was next aware of a gentle
voice. “Sh, John, it’s all right.”
His sight was blurry, and confused,
he lashed out at the face that loomed above him. A strong hand caught his wrist
and pressed him against the bed.
“Wake up, Crichton!”
He blinked rapidly, his lungs
heaving, and his sight cleared, revealing the calm, brown walls of Moya.
“What . . . where . . .” he attempted.
D’Argo was at his side,
his hand still pressing Crichton to the bed.
him,” Zhaan ordered, her blue face appearing on the other side of the bed and her voice gentle. “He is in much pain.”
“What’s going on?”
John demanded faintly. The pain had dulled in his body, but it was still there.
“You’ve been unconscious
for the past sixty arns,” Zhaan explained softly. “When you have
been conscious, you have been too delirious to make any sense. What is the last
thing you remember?”
John frowned, concentrating. “I was on Decca,” he said. “I
took Farscape. I . . . I was going
to get something . . .”
“Supplies for Zhaan,”
D’Argo reminded him.
“Yeah . . . then . . .
I think I got in a bar fight over something. Some alien attacked me. Big dude with purple and grey skin.”
“John, we found you half
dead in the middle of wilderness,” D’Argo said. “You looked
as though you had been beaten within a microt of your life.”
“And you nearly were,”
Zhaan added. “It was all I could do to keep you stable when we first brought
“The locals said that you
had gotten in a fight and took your ship out on a run over the woods,” D’Argo said. “They presumed you left to die, you had been so badly beaten.
It is a wonder you didn’t die in the town. Communications have been
down and we were unable to find you for some time.”
John frowned. “Yeah . . . I just can’t . . .”
“What is it, John?”
He hesitated, then shook his
head. “It’s nothing.”
“You need to rest now,”
Zhaan said. “You had broken ribs, internal bleeding and a skull fracture. If you were a Peacekeeper you would have been healed by now, but for now you need
to rest. I will do what I can for the pain.”
“Crichton has caused me
much time and trouble,” Scorpius mused. The darkened bridge of his Command
Carrier was empty. He stood at the main window, looking out into the shining
stars. “I can only hope that this slight delay was enough to buy the clone
some time. I can be patient. We
just need a little more time . . .”